Comedic inspiration for Robin Williams / MON 3-8-10 / Musical group with its own 1977-81 show / Vampire slayer of film and TV

Monday, March 8, 2010

Constructor: Stanley Newman

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Plural Seasons — four theme answers end with plurals of each of the four seasons

Word of the Day: VEGA (12D: Bright northern star) —

Vega (α Lyr / α Lyrae / Alpha Lyrae) is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, the fifth brightest star in the night sky and the second brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, after Arcturus. It is a relatively nearby star at only 25 light-years from Earth, and, together with Arcturus and Sirius, one of the most luminous stars in the Sun's neighborhood. (wikipedia)






• • •

Stan Newman takes a break from his normal Newsday crossword editing gig to offer a delightful little Monday puzzle in the NYT today. What is it with me and slow starts lately? I must have spun my wheel for 10 seconds ago (an eternity in Monday time) before I managed to get going in the NW. Looked at 1D: Show to be true — nothing. Looked at 2D: Watch with a flexible wristband — well, lots of watches have those ... nothing. 1A: Capitalized, as a noun — uh, yeah, nothing. Finally got ONO (3D: John Lennon's middle name) and things started to come together. Then I had COLORADO- at the beginning of 16A: Home of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and thought, "how the hell should I know?!" Then I realized that only one word could possibly follow COLORADO: SPRINGS. From there on out, I remember nothing, as I blazed through the puzzle at light speed. All that diddling around at the beginning and I *still* came in under 3. I figure one or two of the places or names are bound to cause people at least a little hesitation, so Easy-Medium. Oh, turns out the watch was a ROLEX and the capitalized noun was PROPER and of course [Show to be true] was PROVE. Never saw the theme. Noticed it only after I was done.

Theme answers:
  • 16A: Home of the U.S. Air Force Academy (COLORADO SPRINGS)
  • 27A: Vampire slayer of film and TV (BUFFY SUMMERS) — didn't know her last name. Hardly mattered. Crosses made it easy to infer.
  • 45A: City in 21-Across (WICHITA FALLS) — never looked to see what 21-Across was. Had -AFALLS and filled in WICHIT- from that.
  • 60A: Comedic inspiration for Robin Williams (JONATHAN WINTERS) — WINTERS of course played Mork's son Mearth on "Mork & Mindy" (hatched as an adult, the idea being that he ages backwards, Benjamin Button-style). From wikipedia: "Although Robin Williams calls Jonathan Winters his greatest influence, the idea of Mearth didn't work, and the show was soon canceled, in 1982."
I have to say, I would not have spelled CASSAVA that way (7A: Tapioca source). Would've gone with CASAVA, probably. I'm clearly conflating it with CASABA, a melon. CASSAVA is a nice-looking answer. There were some less-than-nice-looking answers today. Aside from the SURFEIT (23D: Overabundance) of crosswordese, e.g. SSTS, TSE, ASST, HARI, ONO, ERAS, ICET, SLR, ARNO, NEA, ATARI, SAGO, ABE, EVE (and even some of the longer stuff, e.g. IRONORE14A: Raw material for a steel factory), there was the weird RETASTE (67A: Take another sip of); and finally, there was the result of the especially odd magic trick whereby, with a simple addition of "S," a Literature Nobelist becomes a really oddly pluralized baking product: YEATS (49A: Literature Nobelist William Butler ___) to YEASTS (68A: Bread bakers' buys)! I think the unusual (and unusually long) theme answers are what makes the puzzle — and they're strong enough, for me, to keep "ugh" from overtaking "yay" today.

Bullets:
  • 42D: Musical group with its own 1977-81 show (SHA NA NA) — Whoa, that's my pop culture sweet spot (or one of them). How'd I miss this show? Were they capitalizing on the '50s fad ushered in by Mr. Arthur Fonzerelli? Who knows? Enjoy:

[be sure to let the tape roll to experience the ... sketch comedy?]

  • 25D: Path for a mole (TUNNEL) — Thought the "mole" might be figurative at first, i.e. an undercover operative. I liked all the 7-letter Downs in this one, esp. SURFEIT and SUITS ME (10D: "I have no problem with that")
  • 53A: Chester Arthur's middle name (ALAN) — Learning something on a Monday! I like it. I've since forgotten it, but it was fun while it lasted. Wife, perusing the puzzle, just now: "... I thought Chester Arthur's middle name began with a "B." Why did I think that?" I give her the one second she needs to figure out her problem.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

71 comments:

jesser 7:57 AM  

1D gave me PROVE right off the bat and I was off to the races. Having edited the newspaper in Raton, N.M., for two years, COLORADO SPRINGS was a gimme. (That is one odd community, folks.) Having edited the newspaper in Stephenville, Texas, for two years, WICHITA FALLS really really wanted to be WAXAHACHIE in my mind's eye, but the downs were having none of that.


RETASTE notwithstanding, I liked this puzzle a lot, even though I did not see the theme until Rex pointed it out. With only a couple of exceptions, the across answers were just great fun, even YEATS and YEASTS. And who can fail to love JONATHAN WINTERS? Makes me grin just thinking of him!

And with that, CHEERIO!

Chotol! -- jesser

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

This gets an Oscar for Monday after the Oscars. Flowerlady9

tptsteve 8:28 AM  

A Monday breeze for me. Biggest hangup was not knowing Buffy's last name before I figured out the theme and went back.

Leslie 8:33 AM  

I liked the theme a lot. There's no way for this to happen, because SPRINGS and FALLS are topographical things, but how cool would it have been to have all four theme answers be cities? (I know, I know, city names don't end in "summers" or "winters.")

Wanted SURFEIT to be "surplus," which made 38A not pass the breakfast test, which is how I knew to go back and change it.

CoolPapaD 8:59 AM  

I wonder if. 1A was a subtle hint to the theme answers - two people, two cities, and all proper.

I remember Sha Na Na's dreadful show - either Fri or Sat night. Can you believe they played at Woodstock?!

Great Monday fun. CHEERIO, all.

Stan 9:03 AM  

Any puzzle referencing "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is great with me! And it was a nice touch that for non-Whedonites, her last name was supplied by the theme.

PlantieBea 9:05 AM  

An easy, breezy Monday. Last fill was WICHITA FALLS--thinking that was in Kansas (that's WICHITA).

SHA NA NA and TV, I don't remember;but based on the clip Rex provided, I'm surprised the show ran for four years.

It's a perfect spring morning here for which this puzzle provided a nice accent. Thanks Stanley Newman.

PIX 9:11 AM  

Fun, easy Monday puzzle.

Buffy Summers, of course, is from Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. This happens to be my favorite TV show of all time. It only aired on cable and never achieved tremendous commercial success but did manage to last for 7 seasons. Some of the writing is truly extraordinary, orders of magnitude better than the usual garbage on TV. Of course, the vast majority of TV viewers never got it; they wouldn’t get Shakespeare either.

I know very little about John Lennon, but isn’t Winston his given middle name?

Elaine (must need to log back in to Google) in Arkansas 9:12 AM  

Missed the theme entirely until I read WordPlay; nice. I noted that some years fly by so fast that you miss the seasons....same with puzzles.

Besides RETASTE, there was ALLURES, another unlikely word form.

You don't see too many Chesters around nowadays; why is that?

Not much to be said: Monday.

ArtLvr 9:14 AM  

Wow -- I was sure the Word of the Day would be CASSAVA! I had no trouble putting it into the puzzle, but looking it up afterward I found this:

"Cassava is the third-most important food source in tropical countries, but it has one major problem: The roots and leaves of poorly processed cassava plants contain a substance that, when eaten, can trigger the production of cyanide."

Who knew? Talk about RETASTE!

∑;(

Charles Bogle 9:24 AM  

Echo what @elaine said, eg RETASTE, ALLURES...and Rex's compilation of much not-so-nice fill...agree longer answers out-weighed to con's and made for a pleasant Monday from a terrific constructor...say, I assume Lennon changed his middle name to ONO after meeting Yoko? What was his birth middle name?..upper NE w CASSAVA and ALLURES and VEGA (thanks for CW 101 Rex) really made me hunker down and made for a harder than usual Monday for me

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

I would say the Fonz was capitalizing on Sha Na Na's success, not the other way around. Sha Na Na existed in the 60s. After they played Woodstock they really put 50s nostalgia on the map, which led to American Graffiti, then Grease on Broadway, then Happy Days.

mac 9:54 AM  

Nice Monday puzzle. I got Colorado Springs and Wichita Falls first, then was surprised to find Buffy.

Don't like allures and retaste much, either, and how about oozy? I do like "suits me", arcane and

Cheerio!

Glitch 9:59 AM  

@Pix

Actually Buffy was "broadcast" over-the-air from 1997 - 2005, on WB (later UPN) stations --- but only in "Major Markets".

Reruns (syndication) were on FX (cable) 2001 - 2008. MTV plans (is?) showing this Spring.

More at: Buffy

.../Glitch

Bob Kerfuffle 10:01 AM  

I learned something on a Monday!

I am among those who had heard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but never watched the show, so I had no idea what her last name was (until I filled in COLORADO SPRINGS and guessed correctly at the theme.)

Leslie 10:22 AM  

Bob, "Buffy" truly was a remarkably good series, unfairly overlooked year after year in the Emmys because of (in my opinion) bias against sci-fi and other genre forms. If you're a Netflix kind of guy, the series would be worth watching.

the redanman 10:28 AM  

NE proved much more work than NE for me today. Overall a solid shoulder shrug for this one. Did not like centre line

LAP FEE ANA HAT

ugly-est (ooops, wrong puzzle ....)

balto 10:32 AM  

Had trouble in the NW too -- not a lot, but I couldn't get money-related meaning of Capitalized out of my head. Surfeit is one of my favorite words -- finally came in handy. Nice one for a Monday!

the redanman 10:33 AM  

@Jesser et.al.

COLORADO SPRING is indeed one really scary town. Most conservative city in the USA, lots of Retd. Gen. and other COMS and NCO's (deja vu all over again Yogi?) along with the AFA make it the antithesis of an Obama-Gore youth camp.

I've always wrestled with who scares me more - the radical right wing or radical left wing and right wing won out handily. Righties have all the guns and lefties have some well-meaning in there somewhere ...

Van55 10:35 AM  

I fall on the more ugh than yay side today. Solid theme and answers don't quite overcome the lame fill, much of which Rex did not list.

I guess it's a matter of taste.

deerfencer 10:35 AM  

I had the same sticky point as C Bogle in the NE corner with CASSAVA and ALLURES.

OOZY gets beaten out by BEQ's recent SEEPY in the Lame Answer of the Day category, but not by much.

Like Rex, I had no idea Sha-na-na had had their own (apparently awful) TV show; it looks like I didn't miss much.

All in all a decent Monday puzzle.

Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

Very nice Monday.
I learned a few things like most folks did. Always a plus on a Monday.
John taking Yoko's name into his own strikes me as very romantic and pro-feminist. I miss him.
Once again I had to wait for a cross to help me with Yeats v Keats. I guess someday I will learn.
Favorite Jonathan Winters quote (as closely as I can recall)
"Never land alone."

retired_chemist 10:50 AM  

@ ArtLvr - thanks for the cassava/cyanide connection. Interesting. The compound in question is a cyanogen called linamarin. There are other cyanide producing plants, black cherry, peach, and apricot, for example, but we don't have problems with them because the cyanogen is in the pits, which we do not eat. Also we do not eat these as staples, so there is no real chance we would get a serious dose.

Amygdalin and Laetrile are similar compounds, each promoted by Ernst Krebs as a cancer cure, the so-called Vitamin B-17. Laetrile cancer treatment was labeled as quackery by the American Cancer Society in 1974. The whole story is given in the link.

Puzzle was easy. Didn't see the theme at all, got three of the theme answers as gimmes, but needed crosses for BUFFY SUMMERS' last name. Now that I have seen Rex's explanation, I like the theme.

Well done, Mr. Newman.

wiseels - a very smart and crossworthy golfer.

tptsteve 10:53 AM  

I enjoyed the Sha Na Na show as a kid; we'd usually watch it on Saturday's before our parents went out for the night, and my little brother would sing along with the songs, especially the doo wops.

A number of the guys in the group were Columbia graduates, if I remember right, but you never got that impression from watching the show.

joho 10:54 AM  

I'd rate this better than a SOSO Monday. I thought the "S's" on the seasons added something. Oh, I know, plurals.

Sorry, I'm groggy from too little sleep.

Thanks, Stanley Newman!

PIX 11:00 AM  

Epitaph:
BUFFY ANNE SUMMERS
1981-2001
BELOVED SISTER
DEVOTED FRIEND
SHE SAVED THE WORLD
A LOT

Stan 11:05 AM  

One member of Sha Na Na is now a linguistics professor at Hofstra University. He gets quoted in New York Times articles on language, like this one

lit.doc 11:28 AM  

Totally shredded this one (in a relative sort of way). Done in 7:33, my fastest NYT Monday ever. Was moving too fast to even think about the possibility of a theme till I read Rex’s write-up (arrrrr, alliterate like a pirate). Pretty amazing to see the pairs of 15s and 12s in a Monday puzzle.

Good: Grew up in Denver, so COLORADO SPRINGS was a gimme. Live in Austin, so ditto TEXAS and WICHITA FALLS. Didn’t know Buffy’s last name or Robin Williams’ comedic inspiration, but the fill fell so fast (and so alliteratively) that it didn’t matter a bit.

Not so good: BDWY before BWAY (one never knows) and slamming in The MONKEYS instead of SHA NA NA (they had a show?). Turns out The Monkeys gig was ‘66-’68 but hey, the mid-60s to mid-80s is all kind of a blur so no biggie.

fikink 11:44 AM  

@Leslie, did the same thing with "surplus," then saw PEE and had to wonder how it was clued. FEE brought SURFEIT in.

@Two Ponies, really appreciate the JW quote in the context of his battles with bipolar disorder.

@retired chemist - is there any connection between cyanide/cyanogen and calling the blue in our ink cartridges "cyan"? Re: "wiseel," reminds me of the conversation about the guy who was told his friend had been killed by a weasel. The stunned friend said, "What happened?" and the bearer of the bad news said, "He was crossing the railroad tracks and didn't hear the 'weasel.' "

imsdave 11:55 AM  

Nice theme, but marred by the plurals. Yeasts? Zetas (maybe if clued as sorority girls)? Fine Monday fare, but the sour notes bothered me a bit.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

I'm pretty sure that "Raw material for a steel factory" is incorrect as a clue for "iron ore". The correct answer is "pig iron" (also seven letters). I could be wrong, but I don't think steel factories use iron ore themselves.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Less pro-feminist were Lennon's proclivities for beating the women in his life. But he did write beautifully about a world where, well, I guess men don't beat women. (And it was rather large of him to give his ex-wife 2,400 pounds a year as their divorce settlement.)

Clark 12:41 PM  

I learned on a trip to Brazil that I like the 'Tapioca source,' but we called it 'manioc'. Hope they were preparing it the low-cyanide way. (Well, I guess I'm still here.)

Had HARa at first, which made 'Waco' want to emerge as the city in Texas.

I can imagine a bread baker buying two different yeasts. "I'll have me some of that Saccharomyces exiguus (sourdough starter) and some Saccharomyces cerevisiae (the regular stuff)."

Peter Tork 1:07 PM  

@lit.doc;
THEMONKEYS would be THEMONKEES

John Henry 1:14 PM  

@anon 12:24

Steel factories might not actually bring IRONORE into their facilities, but they won't be getting any pig iron in, either, unless someone, somewhere, provides the IRONORE that is the raw material for their product.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

John Lennon's middle name: Winston!!!!

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

@ Anon 1:26
PIX already said that at 9:11.

retired_chemist 2:34 PM  

@ fikink - the name of cyan, the color, goes back to the Greek acc. to my dictionary. The cyanide ion itself is also named for the color, acc. to the Wikipedia reference:

"The word "cyanide" was derived from "ferrocyanide", a cyanide derivative of iron. Iron cyanides were first discovered as components on the intensely colored dye Prussian blue. Kyaneos is Greek for "(dark) blue".[4]"

lit.doc 2:46 PM  

@Peter Tork, thanks for the reminder. CFS syndrome in reverse, I guess.

Sfingi 3:08 PM  

Oozier, ooziest.
Easier, easiest.

Did not get the theme til I finished the puzzle. Learned BUFFY's last name.

So, why is a touchdown 6 points? I take it 1-5 points are for something else in the game?

Tapioca, another New World food I forgot since it seems so bland. Comfort food.

Street through Times Square - couldn't figure out how to put 8th Ave., 59th St or even Central Park South or West in, until I realized Newman wanted an abbreviation for BroadWAY. Has a cw ever used numbers, besides 1 and 0 or Roman numerals?
I always think of the Huntington Hartford "Lollipop" Museum, which I was, apparently, the only person who liked.

I liked the YEATS-YEAST in the SE.

@Redanman - maybe there was a sub-theme - One should put his HAT on his LAP before ANA charges a FEE for the dance.

@RetChem - Krebs as in Krebs cycle?

@JohnHenry - I kept thinking the same thing, since my dad worked 37 1/2 years at Oneida Ltd. He didn't talk about it much, but I knew he worked in the roll room. The steel and silver was already in some processed form before it got rolled and cut. We played with a lot of flat "silverware" (steel) rejects shaped like forks and spoons. There was once a "loss" of a whole truck of unfinished silver, and it sure wasn't ore. I worked a few years at Chicago Pneumatic (nickname "Chest Pains") and saw no trains full of dirt, though there was definitely a furnace. And you never forget the strange smell of hot metal.

@CoolPapa - I always considered them phony. I also considered Tom Waits phony - and the young people like him. The so-called Blues Brothers is another. I guess it's an age thing.
Zoot ALLURES

mitchs 3:25 PM  

@Sfingi, re numbers in crosswords - saw my first non-themed digit that wasnot 1,0, or roman in today's BEQ puzzle. Don't think you'll find that in NYT.

Finally, comparing Sha-na-na with Tom Waits? Huminahuminahumina...whyyouioughtta!!!

ArtLvr 3:50 PM  

@ r_c -- Thanks for the link! I remembered the controversy over the supposed benefit of apricot pits as a cancer treatment, and the attempt to call the derivative a "vitamin" to get around control by the FDA! Also the sad death of Steve McQueen...

I see you answered the question of "cyan" meaning blue. We should perhaps note that the medical term "cyanotic", or skin turning bluish, merely indicates deprivation of oxygen, not necessarily poisoning! And that cyan is used in art and color printing to mean only the dark blue shade.

Thinking of SYSCO, the food service company we saw the other day, I just saw a major announcement by homonymic Cisco, on a new method for "unclogging the arteries" in high-speed transmission of data. Faster downloads possibly on their way to you soon! That would be good, if it doesn't require new everything?

∑;)

Bob Kerfuffle 3:51 PM  

@Sfingi and @mitchs - There are other examples, but here is an old NYT Xwd with some interesting fill: (Spoiler Alert! This is a filled grid.

m 4:03 PM  

Thanks Bob. Interesting.

DB Geezer 4:03 PM  

I really enjoyed this Monday. The NW gave me a fast start.
Catching the theme early on enabled me to get SUMMERS and WINTERS despite total ignorance of who they are.
I actually finished this in ten minutes with no googling!

sanfranman59 4:11 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:30, 6:54, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:41, 1.01, 58%, Medium

Those who know some Yiddish out there might get a kick out of my captcha: shixamom. In fact, I think that's a little racist, no?

Glitch 4:23 PM  

@mitch

Here's another "filled in" grid by Liz Gorsky with lots of numbers:

Sunday 12/31/00

I seem to remember others, all from a while back.

.../Glitch

Glitch 4:24 PM  

make that @mitchs et al

../g

Elaine 5:03 PM  

Speaking of tapioca: I remembered a radio mystery program in which the villain had contrived to poison his victim by improper handling of the cassava. The next time Mother made tapioca pudding for dessert, all of us kids just sat there, thinking about the radio program.....

So few comments! Not much going on.

chefwen 5:21 PM  

I know this was too easy for a Thursday puzzle, but it would have been cute to run this one on March 4th, Vivaldi's birthday.

Had a slow start but picked up steam shortly thereafter. Only write over, like a few others, was SURFEIT over SURplus.

Good start to the week.

archaeoprof 5:35 PM  

Late to the party today, because there is much excitement at the college where I teach. Our men's basketball team is playing in the conference championship tonight, and a win means a trip to the NCAA tournament, which would be a first.

Fun puzzle, though.

Go Wofford Terriers!

Ulrich 5:36 PM  

@ret.-chem.: You probably know this: Krebs is German for "cancer"--nomen est omen! I mean, what else would a guy with that name study?

the redanman 6:36 PM  

@Sfingi

"One should put his HAT on his LAP before ANA charges a FEE for the dance."

Have you no respect for the law? YOU"RE NOT FOLLOWING THE RULES OF THE GRID!!!!!!

:-)

Good one

makeding - what Quasimodo does? Maybe the best one yet.

Arby 7:13 PM  

As falls Wichita, so falls Wichita Falls. (PMG Fan here).

I too was lured into thinking Chester's middle name began with B. <blush>

Moonchild 7:22 PM  

I enjoyed the theme and got it from Winters (a great funny guy).
Next Monday might have been more appropriate to coincide with the Equinox. As you might infer from my name astronomical holidays play an important role in my life.
If you are a fan of Jonathan Winters you might want to sample some of the work of Mitch Hedberg. Another creative genius with a unique take on the world. Unfortunately he took his own life at a young age.

chefbea 7:25 PM  

We are here in NC. Getting settled. Am having crossword puzzle withdrawl!! Did the puzzle today. but no time to read the blog or the comments. Maybe tomorrow. Tired!! T4B

fergus 7:48 PM  

... a grimmer time reminder when I left my Rolex at the pawn shop and now sport a Timex.

This was a puzzle that was fun to solve. If I had had another beer on this mercurial, capricious day, this could have been one to remind me yet again that I do know next to nothing.

(My little work gratification was translating a Baudelaire poem, which I can send if anyone is interested.)

Hans Krebs 7:49 PM  

@ Sfingi - no, I am the Krebs of the Krebs cycle, and I am NOT thrilled with Ernst (no relation AFAIK).

@ Ulrich - thx, ret_chem tells me he did not know that but enjoyed seeing the info.

Amazing how I can communicate after dying in 1981.

retired_chemist 8:04 PM  

Another laetrile quackery reference. Worth reading if you are into this sort of stuff.

foodie 8:54 PM  

I like that all the seasons were plural. But here's the glitch*: SPRINGS & FALLS as used refer to their non-season meaning, and are descriptive of the geographic location-- i.e. water bubbling up or falling down. WINTERS and SUMMERS have no other meaning and are used as family names. So, a small demerit for inconsistency (I know, I'm getting picky in my old age).

*For some reason, it makes me happy to see @Glitch and @Kerfuffle commenting on the same topic...and agreeing.

PlantieBea 8:59 PM  

@foodie: I don't know...Summers and winters are used as verbs in certain sets. For example, she summers in the Hamptons, and winters in Aspen.

Broadway Melvin 9:08 PM  

@Sfingi wrote:

"Street through Times Square - couldn't figure out how to put 8th Ave., 59th St or even Central Park South or West in"

Just as well as none of run through Times Square, and most not even close.

Glitch 9:13 PM  

@Foodie

Consider it a welcome back gesture ;)

.../Glitch

Sfingi 9:13 PM  

@HansKrebs - I looked up the quacks Ernst Krebs I and II and see they aren't Hans Krebs of the highly respected Krebs cycle.
My maternal grandfather, an eccentric collector - what we now call a hoarder - collected on the ridiculous end of the sublime to the ridiculous continuum, peach pits. These supposedly had laetrile in their centers. Only one person in my family had died of cancer, and that was 200 years ago, so he never had to worry. He also believed tobacco caused cancer, and he was right about that. But, we all die of heart attacks and apoplexy (stroke).

@Fergus - funny. I never heard of a Rolex until a friend of mine found one in the '70s and tried to sell it at a pawn shop. The guy said he couldn't touch it. She asked "Y knot?" and he said it was worth about 8 Large.

@Arby - great funny quote!

@Mitchs - I remember when that Waits started, I thought "Whom R U kidding?" His parents are schoolteachers, totally WASP, from CA. When he dies, someone else's life will pass before his eyes (I stole that expression from Woody Allen). Part of what I can't stand is the mugging, the twitching and face-making. And the pieced porkpie hat. And the phony alcoholism. Creepy.
Which leads me to why I prefer Leno to Letterman and Conan (don't get me started). I can listen to them (and Waits), but just can't watch 'em. So, if they're on, I listen from a computer in another room.

edith b 9:52 PM  

"Buffy" is yet another TV program that I have never seen but I have some knowledge of its details. I guess reading the Entertaiment section of the NYT keeps me up to date on the trends in TV, movies and the like.

This year, for instance, I didn't see any of the movies nominated for Oscars but I have a lot of information about them.

It keeps me young to keep up on Pop Culture and I don't consider the time wasted as others seem to.

When it comes right down to it, I do not consider any body of knowledge beneath me. My grand daughter is a fan of Rap Music and Hip Hop in general and although I don't share her interest, I refuse to look down on her for that interest.

One of the things I like about BEQ's puzzles, for instance, is his interest in a Pop Culture different from my own.

To me, it is ironic that BEQ's puzzles are as different from Will Shortz's as Eugene Maleska's were, yet I enjoyed all three.

(She says, climbing down from her soapbox. End of rant.)

Anonymous 10:50 PM  

Anon here again. John Henry: If steel factories don't bring iron ore into their factories and yet it is okay to clue it as raw material for steel factories, then the same clue is okay for almost any factory. How about "Raw material for a microwave oven factory" or "Raw material for a shipyard".

The clue is wrong because it specifically says steel "factory". Small changes to the clue could make it correct, such as "Raw material used to make steel", but as it is it is wrong.

(On the other hand, if steel factories do actually use iron ore then I stand corrected, but I don't think they do.)

fergus 10:56 PM  

I haven't been able to skate or waltz through Monday puzzles recently. A function of increased difficulty, a diminution of my faculties, or some other factor?

sanfranman59 11:26 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:35, 6:55, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:36, 3:40, 0.98, 49%, Medium

Sfingi 11:28 PM  

@Edith - I only saw Inglorious Basterds at my nephew's house. It was odd. Both violent and funny. My husband can't see Avatar because of his Meniere's. But I must say, when you get senior citizenish you don't pursue everything anymore. If it comes your way, OK.

@Fergus - it's those noisy birds. Darn that spring.

@Anon - agreed.

CoolPapaD 11:32 PM  

@Arby - GREAT album - haven't heard it since college (~1986 or so). Wow - I love it when a simple comment totally sends me back!

SethG 11:48 PM  

A factory is a building _or set of buildings_ with facilities for manufacturing. How would an integrated steel mill, which includes both refinining and steelmaking steps, not be considered a factory?

I've toured the Boeing's Everett factory, which I'd consider an airplane factory even if different parts of the process take place in different buildings on the same site (or not).

I don't like the word surfeit, but not for any good reason.

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