TV alien's word / SUN 2-28-10 / Pact of '94 / Imitation is sincerest form of television quipster / 1990s war locale / Explosive event of 54

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Constructor: Yaakov Bendavid

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "EASE-E DOES IT" — "EA" is changed to "EE" in familiar phrases, creating wackiness. You know the drill...


Word of the Day: CAMELEERS (87A: Desert drivers) —

n. A person who drives or rides a camel.
• • •

The most basic of theme concepts — change-a-letter (and/or -sound). Up there with add-a-letter and drop-a-letter in terms of commonness. I thought this concept worked OK today, with good clues (e.g. 55A: Summer next door to a nudist camp? => PEEK SEASON) making up for lack of consistent sizzle in the answers themselves. Full disclosure: I feel very happy about the publication of this puzzle because over two years ago, Yaakov Bendavid wrote me and asked me to test-solve one of his initial construction efforts. Here's how I responded to that puzzle in February 2008:

You are clearly going to be an accomplished constructor. I look forward to seeing more of your stuff. You'll get in the NYT eventually - I can tell. Everything but the theme felt very, very passable.

Then, just last month, I got the following email:

It's been almost two years since my first e-mail to you, where you gave a fledgling constructor some encouragement. Well, I just had my first two acceptances by the NY Times, both Sundays.

So thanks again for your encouraging words.

Sincerely,
Yaakov

And so, as my wife's countrymen would say, I'm pretty chuffed, and am not feeling particularly objective today.

I confess that I have no idea who FRED ALLEN is (40A: "Imitation is the sincerest form of television" quipster). I know STEVE ALLEN. I know, uh, FRED BASSET. But FRED ALLEN, no. I like that his name is symmetrical to CAMELEERS (87A: Desert drivers), which is the other answer in the grid that made me go "Wha?!" CAMELEERS is a very cool word. Much better than (the, I'm guessing, racist) CAMEL JOCKEYS. The grid had a preponderance of "EE" words, even beyond the theme — SEEDILY and USERFEE (26A: Parkgoer's charge) and REELECT and FORESEE, etc. But it also had the stray "Z" and "X" and the "Q," which came in the clear winner of all today's theme answers: REEL MEN DON'T EAT QUICHE!

Theme answers:
  • 22A: Inappropriate on a honeymoon? (NOT FOR THE WEEK OF HEART) — I don't think I get this on a literal level. You're on your honeymoon for a week, and "heart" is some kind of metaphor for "love?"
  • 36A: Item in a golf boutique? (AROMATIC TEE)
  • 55A: Summer next door to the nudist camp? (PEEK SEASON)
  • 71A: What a pursued perp might do? (FLEE COLLAR)
  • 90A: The point when Fido's master starts walking? (A TIME TO HEEL)
  • 103A: Bit of advice when packing anglers' lunches? (REEL MEN DON'T EAT QUICHE)


  • 15D: Buck's candid conversation opener? (FRANKLY, MY DEER)
  • 54D: Dating service in a northern German city? (HAMBURGER MEET)
No real hang-ups today. Oddly, the answer that gave me the most trouble was one that everyone else probably blew right through. I just couldn't see it, and had to circle around and come at it from the back. That answer was OFF-AIR (23D: Like some TV interviewers' questions). I had the OFF- and scrolled through my list of OFF- phrases: OFF-TOPIC, OFFHAND, OFF...ENSIVE? I probably would have clued this in relation to how some callers to radio call-in shows take their answers. Other small issues: NARA (51D: Former Japanese capital)? I am sure this is some kind of crosswordese, but if so, I'd forgotten it entirely. Also, never quite sure how to spell LOOIE (72D: Sarge's superior). Had LOOEY, I think, at first.

Bullets:
  • 13A: Pact of '94 (NAFTA) — gimme. I kind of like the abbreviated year signaling the acronym.
  • 27A: Italian home of the Basilica of San Francesco (Assisi) — St. Francis of ASSISI. Piece of cake.
  • 28A: Mark Harmon action drama ("N.C.I.S.") — neeeeever seen it. I'm slightly tempted to watch the LL Cool J spin-off set in L.A. I like LL, 'cause he's hard as hell, making [bleep!] screw face like Gargamel.


  • 69A: "Falstaff" soprano (ALICE) — uh ... yeah, no idea. I know so many ALICEs, but this is not one of them. No sweat. Crosses made it quite gettable.
  • 78A: Frequent gangster portrayer (BOGART) — this is true enough, though I know him best as detective Sam Spade.
  • 85A: Explosive event of '54 (H-TEST) — the ubiquitous H/A/N-TEST. One of my least-liked bits of crosswordese.
  • 45A: Sperm targets (OVA) — something about the phrasing of this clue ... didn't quite sit right with me. Something about the idea of aiming sperm ...
  • 46A: Camera-ready page (REPRO) — I thought it would be a PROOF.
  • 1D: TV alien's word (NANU) — is that a word? I know it only as part of NANU-NANU, which suggests that it's meaningless unless doubled, ergo not a "word." I know, I'm overthinking it.
  • 7D: Zero-star restaurant review (UGH) — love it. Also a zero-star puzzle review, as any longtime reader will know.
  • 16D: Onetime Toyota model (TERCEL) — it's not a very attractive name. It's a male hawk used in falconry, but somehow the majesty of the bird doesn't really carry over into the name/car. It's just a nondescript little sedan.
  • 56D: Dental hygienists, at times (SCALERS) — I don't know what this is. Are they climbing my teeth? Taking the scales off of my teeth? I had SCRAPERS ... or would have, if it had fit.
  • 61D: 1990s war locale (ZAIRE) — and now it's called the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • 68D: Rags-to-riches author Horatio — and author of the awesomely named "RAGGED DICK"
And now a few "Tweets of the Week" — crossword chatter from the Twitterverse:

  • ElijahBrubaker there's a woman outside yelling for help but this crossword puzzle isn't going to do itself
  • arthurra I asked someone the NYTimes crossword question "Capt Nemos final resting place?" he said I don't know I never read Moby Dick #FAIL
  • lotyslove I wonder if I should tell my stepdad that I use google when I'm stumped on a crossword...nah, lmao! I'll continue to smash his ego...
  • kfan Excuse me but me and my new crossword book edited by Will Shortz will be spending the remainder of the weekend in the newlywed suite.
Lastly, congratulations to my daughter (and her team) on cleaning up at the regional Odyssey of the Mind tournament. Awards include: First place in her team's division, some special award with a weird woman's name (given for exceptional creativity), and a trip to States (which, mercifully, take place here in Binghamton). I'm not normally a brag-about-my-kid kind of person, but when she comes home draped in medals ... well, I'm only human. Good job, kid.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

70 comments:

Noam D. Elkies 1:56 AM  

Yes, a standard theme but well realized — about the only problem there is that the title pun is weak. Also neat: the clues for 31A:SILTS (even though this one isn't new, and sometimes comes with a question mark), 92A:IVORIES (thankfully this expression saves us from worrying how to justify the plural of "ivory"), and especially 100D:OCTO. No need to look for 21A:ARRÊT overseas: the latest three clues for the word took us to Montréal or Québec.

I suppose if "bye-bye" can become "bye" then some Orkish dialect must use 1D:NANU for "nanu-nanu".

80D:SHORTU — there we go again. Is there an analogous SHORTZ?

Thanks to Yaakov and Shortz, and to Yaakov also mazal tov on the début puzzle and happy Purim,
—NDE

chefwen 1:59 AM  

Great puzzle, great write up. As Rex said, not too sure about NOT FOR THE WEEK OF HEART, need clarification.
Favorite was REEL MEN DON'T EAT QUICHE. Took me a little while to get into the swing of things but once I did, it was all systems go.

Congratulations to medal winning daughter. I know you and Sandy must be very proud.

Elijah Brubaker's tweet had me almost in tears. Husband, early to bed kinda guy, came out wondering what was so damn funny.
Will he ever understand?

Clark 2:33 AM  

I had stuff filled in all over the grid before I got my first theme answer and figured out what was going on. Then it all came together. Sunday puzzles always feel tougher to me than weekday puzzles. It's like herding cats somehow. Just when you feel like you're getting some part of the grid under control a little rebellion starts somewhere else. @Rex, I didn't get 22A until I worked through your take on it. Now I totally get it, which suggests to me that you do "get this on a literal level."

@chefwen and @rube (and any other Hawaiians) -- I was watching the live feeds as the surge hit. Looks like you all came out OK. [Sigh of relief.]

@Rex -- Congrats to your pictured offspring, she of the infectious smile!

jae 2:41 AM  
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jae 2:52 AM  

Mixed feelings about this one. Kinda liked the bottom half (REELMEN), top half not so much. I TOO (crossword poem) think WEEKOFHEART is a bit of a stretch. I did like the trickiness of ZADORA/BLAISE/ZAIRE area. Easy-medium works for me but more than a few of the theme answers seemed to be pushing it/forced. In the words of dk -- 2 stars.

Anonymous 3:05 AM  

Hi all,
Can someone explain "crooked"="alop"? I am sure I am missing something obvious...
Thanks!

jae 3:12 AM  

@anon3:05 -- think lopsided. Something that is crooked is alop.

Elaine (must need to log back in to Google) in Arkansas 6:55 AM  

The last Tweet is a pretty good illustration for the [Inappropriate for a honeymoon] clue. Other things inappropriate might be--taking the mother-in-law along; heading off to get together with the guys; staying glued to the football on TV...

@jae
I also thought ALOP was weak; AWRY was my first entry, but didn't last long.

And I see I ended with an error: FRED OLLEN. COL is next to NEV, too, right? I pretty much think Fred OLLEN is as good as Fred ALLEN. Feel free to jump in here, Mr. OLLEN!

Shoot, now it's almost 6 AM and I don't have a puzzle for the breakfast table.

David 7:04 AM  

My error was the crossing of BREE and CAMELEERS. I had BRIE/CAMELIERS. Otherwise a fun solve. I am old enough to remember Fred Allen so that part was not difficult.

edith b 7:24 AM  

I found this one easy enough but I thought the cluing for the theme answers seemed slightly tortured and I think the constructor boxed himself in a corner with SHORTU and ARRET.

FREDALLEN was one of those performers who tried to make the transition from radio to television and, unlike Jack Benny, found the medium a little more daunting then he expected. One of his characters from his radio days, Senator Claghorn, did make the transition to tv, but in a different form: as the animated character Foghorn Leghorn.

In our family, we listened to the radio before we got our first television in the early 50s. I was just a little girl st the time but I do remember the family gathered around the radio after dinner and before the children took their baths. Fred Allen was one of those people better known for his radio work than his TV work.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 7:55 AM  

Love "chuffed." It's right up there with "sorted" and "gutted."

HudsonHawk 8:18 AM  

@Rex, I also hesitated on OFF-AIR. But because I came to it from the South, my first thought was UNFAIR, which kinda works. And I had LOUIE before LOOIE.

@Elaine, close, but that pesky Utah gets in between COL and Nev.

Enjoyable debut, Mr. Bendavid.

CoolPapaD 8:29 AM  

@ Rex (or anyone!) - I had LOOTE for 72D, in that a Lieutenant is a sergeant's superior. Finally got LOOIE from the crosses, but when I later Googled SARGE and LOOIE, all I find is a reference to a puzzle from 10/17/07 where Rex put LIEUT as his first answer. Who are Sarge and Looie??? Is this a cartoon from the 50s or something?

I liked this one as much as any other, but I can't give it mad props (sorry - I feel like a dork using that expression). I thought MYLAR is only used for kids' non-choking balloons, so I had a bit of a mess in the East (PYLAR/ POSS, ZODORA, ALISE). Snap.

I'd never heard of STINT used this way (as a verb). I've heard of a stint in the marines, for instance (see above re sergeant), but not the way it appeared today.

Isn't it NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART?

I love the clue for BALDS!

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Not happy with 111A, Itinerary segments: Abbr: Itinerary segments are LEGS, not routes. The itinerary and the route are the same thing.

Bill from NJ 8:51 AM  

@CoolPapaD-

Sarge and Looie are generic abbreviations for Sargeant and Lieutanant. They are nicknames used by troops to describe their superiors.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:10 AM  

OK puzzle, mostly easy top-to-bottom solve, but you wouldn't believe how many ways there are to spell "PENH" wrong! Also had 99A as ARTWORK before ARTFORM.

Favorite theme answer: FRANKLY MY DEER.

tures 9:23 AM  

Shakespeare's Will

OldCarFudd 9:33 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle, impressive debut. Congratulations to young Miss Rexie.

I'm off for a week of Elderhostel skiing. First time in two years, having had both shoulders and the left hip replaced in the meantime. My orthopod puts his fingers in his ears and looks the other way when I talk about skiing. I was a serious upper-intermediate/low-expert skier; but prudence suggests I scale back, and not go when it's icy, too deep, too thin, or too crowded. Have a great puzzle week, y'all!

CoolPapaD 9:46 AM  

@Bill from NJ - Thanks! By the way, Harvey's Wineburger is still going strong at 16th St and Camelback!

The Bard 10:00 AM  

Popeye: I yam what I yam.

Othello > Act I, scene I
Iago:
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward action doth demonstrate The native act and figure of my heart In compliment extern,
'tis not long after But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve For daws to peck at:
I am not what I am.

Ulrich 10:01 AM  

My favorite answer was "reel men don't eat quiche", too. Reminded me of the Far Side cartoon, where two cowboys sit by the campfire and the one handling the coffee pot asks the other, "Latte, Jed?"

And I still don't buy "alop"--google yields zero definitions (well, on the pages I looked at).

DataGeek 10:09 AM  

Wonder when this puzzle was constructed. Else the clue for MYLAR could have been something like "Balloon Boy's craft material." Hands up for Brie and Cameliers - I like my spellings better.

Congrats to young Ms. Sharp! Brings back memories of my own daughter competing in Odyssey of the Mind. Sounded to me at the time like some kind of cult. hee hee.

Fun puzzle, fun write-up, including "chuffed." Thanks, Rex!

Monica 10:10 AM  
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Bill from NJ 10:12 AM  

@CoolPapaD-

Wow! Harvey's was my FIL's favorite watering hole and that was where I ate the Wineburger.

This goes back to the early 70s and it is good to hear the place is still in business. My daughter still lives in Phoenix and we plan to visit this summer. I will put Harvey's on my places to stop.

Jim H 10:35 AM  

I did NOT like the cross of 104D ("West Wing" chief of staff) and 112A (These, in Madrid). I've never seen the show (am I the only one?) and couldn't tell if the name in question would be LEE, LEO, or LEA. Any of those fit the cross... sigh...

Captcha word is "greexodi." Sounds like a group of constellations as seen from the eastern Mediterranean Sea...

JenCT 10:38 AM  

@Elaine: Also had AWRY instead of ALOP; still don't like it.

@Clark: LOL for the puzzle feeling like herding cats; same can be said for herding chickens - one of my funniest memories is watching my husband try to corral a chicken to get it back in the coop. I still laugh thinking about it.

Elaine 10:43 AM  

@HudsonHawk
Oh, duh! Thanks for the geography tip.
Thank god I've got a GPS; (guess why...)

@CoolPapaD
Bill from NJ (another military kid) has already taken care of LOOIE.
Re STINT: definitely can stand on its own--'without stint;' 'do not stint'--and perhaps it will turn up in your reading in the near future. (That's what happens to me when I acquire a new word!)
Re MYLAR: I use it quite often to make templates for applique and for quilting patterns. There is a product called 'No-melt MYLAR,' although if one is truly talented, it CAN be melted in quite an exciting way... It's not for the 'faint of heart.' (Hey, you're right--that does sound more natural.) I was focused more on the word-pairs than the entire phrases...

@Rex
Great picture today, and it's not a brag--you're just sharing happy news, right?

DB Geezer 10:54 AM  

Could someone please explain the connection between ROADIE and microphone tester?

I needed your help Rex to change FLEE COP CAR to FLEE COLLAR Till then I was STYMIED, and needed a RERUN to finish today's ART FORM

Fun puzzle

slypett 11:01 AM  

This was like a surprise party that was let out of the bag. There you are, on your doorstep, knowing that they're all going to jump out of hiding and yell, "Surprise!" This calls on you to put on an act. Fifteen people, already half-drunk? Sure, you can pull it off! You boldly open the door and...nothing. Silence. Your wife comes out of the kitchen and asks you how your day went. You throw your coat on the couch. The signal! They leap out of hiding. You are nonplussed. However, it turns out to be a nice affair after all.

Yaakov Bendavid, may your tribe increase!

JenCT 11:23 AM  

@DB Geezer: a ROADIE sets up the equipment for a band; hence, Microphone Tester.

ArtLvr 11:31 AM  

Please, Rex -- let us know the name of your daughter's award, "special award with a weird woman's name (given for exceptional creativity"? (There was a girls' club in high school, Atalanta, but that related to athletic ability)... And congrats to your adorable daughter!

I did this in the newspaper for the first time in ages, distracted by the stunning Olympic skating finals on TV. I too thought Brie was the likely soap character and liked Cameliers (analogous to cavaliers?) Oh well.

At least I had a pat-on-the-back moment recalling BLAISE Pascal, and NARA was another gimme after seeing the N in MANX cat. FLEE COLLAR was fun, as was A TIME TO HEEL. I had a cat once who went for walks with me, heeling naturally like the best-trained dog. My current feline is otherwise inclined.

I'm sorry for anyone who didn't follow the West Wing series -- easily the best ever, IMO. Actor John Spencer won a Best Supporting Actor playing LEO McGarry the character, and Spencer died suddenly of a heart attack at a crucial point in the script. The writers and cast rallied after their loss and had the character die offstage as he was about to be elected Vice President. It was a fantstic tribute.

Congrats to Yaakov Benavid on this debut, and thanks for the memory of a beloved actor!

∑;)

tptsteve 11:33 AM  

Nice puzzle- I was having problems focusing and concentrating on it. Liked the parallel cluing for 31A, and 45A, together with with 22A.

@DB- roadies, who handle equipment for rock bands, test microphones. I initially had "one two" as my answer

captcha is fronde- appropriate for the puzzle today

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Unlike most posters, I hated this puzzle. It seemed disjointed and I just couldn't get in the groove today. Maybe it was the last Benedictine before bed last night.

archaeoprof 11:45 AM  

Hand up for "cameliers" and "brie."

Congratulations, Yaakov!

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

Had Cagney for 78A. I think of Bogart in so many other roles. Never have or will watch "Desperate Housewives", so it took some time to untangle.
3dogmom.

retired_chemist 12:26 PM  

Liked it. No quibbles today. Congrats to young Miss Sharp. Sharp, she is.

How old am I? FRED ALLEN was no problem. Again I share a writeover with @Elaine (AWRY => ALOP).

Pia ZADORA's legacy (61A) AFAIK is the occasional entry in crosswords. Who can forget Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), though?

Everybody but Wikipedia is my guess.

Got the theme from the bottom - Had REAL MEN..... crossing ...MAET, and said, "Whoa." Looked at the theme exegesis, et voilà.

Pedantry alert: Mylar has a lot of uses, but apparently not in party balloons. They, acc. to Wikipedia, are actually made from nylon.

Thanks, Mr. Bendavid. I look forward to your next one.

fanges - a river in India notably frequented by tigers?

Van55 12:36 PM  

I breezed through this one with amusement at the theme clues and answerd.

Had a horrible mistake. Wrote in DRAT for "Bummer" levaing me with ETOS for "Teamwork thwarters." WTF, I kept asking myself.

Congrats to Yaakov for an exellent debut.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

I checked here thinking others might have a problem with 22A: NOT FOR THE WEEK OF HEART) —

Only Rex mentioned it as odd.

It immediately rubbed me the wrong way, as the expression I'm familiar with is "Not for the FAINT of heart." Seemed to me the constructor altered the expression in order to make the change from "weak" to week," and I couldn't believe Will approved. Makes me feel old at 52 if people don't remember this expression. Anyone else with me on this?

Bernie

Stan 1:02 PM  

An enjoyable Sunday. Good, pun-filled theme and (mostly) engaging fill. Not entirely easy but gettable. Welcome, Yaakov.

lit.doc 1:11 PM  

Now this one was fun! Look forward to the other Sunday puzzle Yaakov Bendavid mentioned. Done, solo, in 56:26 (about medium for me) and enjoyed the whole thing. Got the letter-replacement theme at AROMATIC TEE and was delighted. The two things I want most in a theme device is that it be amusing and also helpful in solving. This was both, big time.

Lots of key-overs, many of which, as usual, were totally self-inflicted. Unsurprising to me were 7D PAN/UGH, 52D SCAN/XRAY, PERS/POSS/MASC (so many pronouns, so little time), and LIEUT/LOOIE (though I knew Looie and should have noted that the clue read “Sarge’s” rather than “Sarg.’s”).

Today’s I CAN NOT EFFING SPELL contingent included ARETE/ARRET (yes, I know enough crosswordy French to have avoided that), MEIN/MIEN, and the ever-popular PEHN/PENH/PENH.

Progress in Crosswords101 today. For the first time ever, I immediately caught the baseball meaning of “home” in 31D, I got ALOP right off from having encountered it and, yes, remembered for a change (still hate the word, though), and I avoided CAMELIERS (Brie? Bree? Who?) by mentally running through a few similar word forms, e.g. “auctioneers”.

Fav clue/answer pair today was “Scoundrel” = SO-AND-SO.

@retired_chemist, yes—who could forget PIA ZADORA other than everyone? Now if only I could get that garden hose scene out of my mind.

Guess I’ll go tickle my ivories now.

lit.doc 1:15 PM  

Perhaps "The two things I want most in a theme device are" might have been a better choice. Geez.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Rex:
a proof is what one gets from
a repro (short for reproducible).
Rhea

Shamik 1:37 PM  

Congrats to your daughter. Odyssey of the Mind sounds like something to be proud of as opposed to the everybody-gets-a-prize-in-t-ball. She sure looks happy. As a parent, it's your responsibility, right, opportunity and perq to crow about her.

Sigh. Back to work. Can't get to the puzzle sometimes for 3 days. But with the ACPT behind me, it was nice to sip my cup of hot tea and solve leisurely...or not. It was Sunday. It was big. It was relaxing. Congratulations to Yaakov Bendavid on his debut! And thank you for sharing the e-mail...he sounds very gracious.

Captcha is downsly which is how I feel after a long shift and listening to the lovely rain patter on the roof. Sundays can be so good.

Klaus 1:38 PM  

We're veteran OM parents --our daughter's team won National -- twice -- back in the nineties -- had to say kudos to your little one and clue you in on Renatra Fusca. It's not a woman -- it's a water spider. No creature can walk on the surface of water, but this one does, in defiance of all natural laws. The award is for any idea that is so out of the mainstream that it can't possibly work, but, paying no attention, it does anyway. Your daughter probably already apprised you of that.

Enjoyed this easy puzzle -- finished in one hour, doing it together with only my husband looking at it. Takes a little longer, but that way, it's not a solitary pursuit.
Klaus and Anita Gebhardt
Dallas, Texas

chefbea 2:02 PM  

Started the puzzle early. Figured out the theme. Still had trouble. Spent the morning packing. Went back to the puzzle and ... voila. Finnished it.

I too loved reel men don't eat quiche. Glad I made the puzzle.

Glad all is well in Hawaii.

Back to packing

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

lows = moos ??? Do not get...

Congrats on O.M. Won my Albany regional a couple times back in the day... always got it handed to us at States.

Jesus H. Chevrolet 2:20 PM  

@Anonymous, 2:16 - Remember the carol, "The cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes . . . "

Lowing = Mooing.

lit.doc 2:22 PM  

@Anon 2:16, cows say "moo", and, as a verb, "to low" means to make the sounds made by cows.

dk 2:50 PM  

Again, not my cuppa.

Favorite fill is MANX as I once had one who could also fetch.

The rest was b. double o, double r ing.

Yaakov, keep in mind I do not like the Sunday puzzles as a class, I am cranky because ski season is ending, I got a speedy ticket driving lovely wife's car to the car wash and I was really looking forward to reading Maupin's Michael Tolliver Lives and it is almost as disappointing as Hesse's The Glass Bead Game.

* (1 Star)

Secret word - messe: what STIES are.

PIX 3:02 PM  

Am I the only one that did not know that the flag of Wales has a red dragon? Eventually got it from the crosses but had no idea...

Congratulations to Yaakov Bendavid for an excellent debut puzzle...keep up the good work!

salo 3:11 PM  

What a nice picture of your daughter! There is no irony there, just joy.

Had "fancies" instead of "ivories" I wonder if the clue maker had that trap in mind?

Blackhawk 3:43 PM  

Lot of tortured junk in this puzzle. "A lop" or "alop" is in no dictionary I can find. ... Other badness: Scalers, cameleers, sked, rtes. ... All in the service of a mundane swith-a-letter? Ugh. Not a fan.

Only great moment for me was Fred Allen. He was a pioneering comic artist who paved the way for Groucho Marx, Johnny Carson and Jon Stewart with this biting political, show biz and corporate criticism wrapped in jokes. Some of his more ingenious comments, besides this one, were "I never look a gift horse in the mouth, but I am not averse to looking an organization in the motive." He had a very hard time making transition to TV because his phrases were fashioned more for the ear than the eye. He said, "You know, television is called a new medium, and I have discovered why it's called a medium---because nothing is well done.'' And if you have ever dealt with the Hollywood machine, you will appreciate one of his classic bon mots: "You can take all the sincerity of Hollywood, place in the navel of a firefly, and still have room enough for three caraway seeds and a producer’s heart.''

Dave in California 4:23 PM  

Congrats to your daughter--where does she compete? My daughter's team also won, in the SF Bay region. It sounds like they won a Renatra Fusca award--she is not a lady, but rather a type of insect that can walk on water. The award is given to a team that, regardless of the strength of their solution, does something especially unique and creative. The award is not given as a matter of course, only when a team does something really noteworthy. Congrats--maybe we'll meet at World Finals!

joho 4:38 PM  

Did not like NOTFORTHEWEEKOFHEART. And since I got that first it sort of set the tone for me. This was, however, more interesting than just filling in the blanks as many Sundays can be. My kudos to the constructor for making the NYT! I look forward to his next effort. I also commend @Rex for encouraging said constructor. And, last, but not least, Rex's daughter for her brilliant award!

Bill from NJ 5:08 PM  

@Rex-

My daughter competed a couple of years in OM at the place where it all started: Rowan University in Glassboro NJ.

If your daughter enjoyed being a part of it as much as my daughter did, then you must be as pleased as punch.

Congratulations to her!

Elaine 5:48 PM  

Thanks, all the Renatra Fusca explainers... but if you have a swimming pool, you find out that many spiders can walk on water, being light enough not to disturb the surface tension. Wolf spider mothers will gather all of their babies onto their backs so as to save them; who knew?

@Anony-Bernie 12:58
It can be a good move to read the Comments because (as I often find) my questions or protests are answered, supported, or made moot by previous posts.

@salo
Hand up for FANCIES, though IVORIES was quite clever enough to keep me from pouting

@Edith B, Blackhawk, et al.
Great info about Fred Allen--LOVED the quotes.

@PIX
Uther Pendragon...Arthurian legend... I wasn't totally sure about the modern flag of WALES, but it seemed like a good guess.

Tomorrow it's MARCH! Have some narcissus opening, and a livelier iris glistens on the burnished dove as well!

mac 6:11 PM  

I found this one quick and easy, although I also had Brie/Camelier.
I think I had to read the clue to 90A three times! Loads and loads of Es in the puzzle.

Great memories of 3 years in Hamburg, what a wonderful place to live. Of course it helped that I could DRIVE to Holland.

Naples, FL is sunny but cool; let's get on with the more important issue: where to go for dinner

Congratulations to the Parker daughter and parents!

thebubbreport 6:49 PM  

My problem was the second "O" in "MOOS" and "RHEO" - so close to completing the puzzle, but could not get that last O. I need to go look up the definition of lows that means moos; I'm still perplexed.

firat 7:03 PM  

I was born and raised in Istanbul and have always loved solving crossword puzzles. Even with my limited knowledge of American sports, TV trivia, etc., I do well at some of the NYT Sunday puzzles. However, this one proved to be an impossibility.

With only a few of the clues filled in, I threw in the towel and came to pay respect to the one and only Rex Parker. And now, I feel depressed at having performed so poorly at a puzzle his highness declares easy to medium. Here's hoping to agree with you someday, Rex. And thanks for all your help.

retired_chemist 7:21 PM  

@ bubb - cattle low, i.e. make a low, mooing sound.

Stan 8:13 PM  

@firat: Please do not feel depressed about this (or any) puzzle, especially because of the Rating. We all have puzzles that we just can't do, and others (maybe rated higher in difficulty) where it all comes together.

Nice to see you posting!

Elaine 8:19 PM  

@thebubbreport

The friendly cow, all red and white,
I love with all my heart.
She gives me milk with all her might,
And cream for apple tart.
***
Blown by all the winds that pass,
And wet by all the showers,
She wanders LOWing here and there,
And eats the meadow flowers.

-as best I can recall from _A Child's Garden of Verses_ by Robert Louis Stevenson, and believe me childhood was a long damn time ago. But not as long ago as RLS penned his verses. I think "lowing" is an old term, but many of these archaic forms persist in our lives...and perhaps make them more poetic. Stop near a dairy farm in late afternoon, and watch the procession toward the barn; the cattle will be lowing.

qmbeg--to ask beneficence for going one over in the name of RLS and lowing cows everywhere

hossesto 9:00 PM  

Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850–1894). A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods. 1913.

The Cow

THE FRIENDLY cow all red and white
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.

JayWalker 11:11 PM  

May I tell a story on myself? Fairly early in the solving process, and long before I'd figured out what "EASE-E DOES IT" actually meant, I proudly filled in 55A (summer next door to the nudist camp) with: PEEKINDUCK. Almost broke my arm patting myself on the back! My word for today? Humility. Or else!

YBD 7:13 AM  

Hi. Thanks Rex for your review and everyone who commented with congrats, Happy Purim, etc. And to those for whom the puzzle or some answers were not their cup of tea - your feedback will hopefully make me a better brewer. Catch you next time!

Sincerely, Yaakov

Howard B 8:50 AM  

Congrats on the puzzle, Yaakov!
And congrats to your daughter in OotM, Rex!
I've judged a couple of OotM events in the past, so I've seen some of the creativity the kids come up with for the problems - it can be pretty amazing. And they even have fun in the process, which is just as important! Good luck at the states.

mrbreen 3:17 PM  

Video of LL is actually Black Thought and The Roots. Love those guys.

Rex Parker 3:23 PM  

I know exactly who's in the video. Listen to the lyrics.

rp

Rex Parker 3:24 PM  

Actually, you don't have to, because I already quoted them in my write-up.

Anonymous 7:47 PM  

Did anyone else see the double "in" in the printed clue for 60 across? It had me thinking the answer had something to do with errors, since I had "sealers" for 56 down.

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