Knucklehead * Paul Winchell dummy old TV / TUE 3-9-10 / Blue-skinned deity / Classic tale dactylic hexameter / Cinematic scene changer

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: THE GATES OF HELL (40A: 15-/23-Across location)ABANDON ALL HOPE / YE WHO ENTER HERE (15A: With 23-Across, famous "opening" line) = Inscription on THE GATES OF HELL in "Inferno," the first part of the DIVINE COMEDY by DANTE ALIGHIERI


Word of the Day: OBOL (36D: Silver coin of ancient Greece) —

The obolus (ancient Greek: ὀβολός "obolós", plural: ὀβολοί "oboloí") is a Greek silver coin worth a sixth of a drachma. In Classical Athens it was subdivided into eight chalkoi (χαλκοί "copper pieces"). Two obols made a diobol. Triobols were also in use. // The deceased were buried with an obolus, placed in the mouth of the corpse, in order that, once a dead person's shade reached the underworld of Hades, it would be able to pay Charon for passage across the river Acheron. Those without enough wealth, or whose friends refused to follow proper burial rites, were forced to wander the banks of the Acheron for one hundred years.
• • •

Really didn't like this puzzle. I just don't get the point. I thought maybe the grid was supposed to be the shape of hell — I went looking for nine rings, or ... anything. But no. Maybe I'm supposed to admire the bonus answers like (apparently) OBOL (see reference to Charon, Hell's ferryman, in the Word of the Day description, above) and AENEID (an important source for Dante, its author being Dante's guide in "Inferno" and part of "Purgatorio") (42D: Classic tale in dactylic hexameter). Mainly I kept waiting for the payoff that never came. You make the grid a ridiculous shape (14x16), give me strange cluing that's at least Wednesday hard (my time was more in my normal Thursday range), shove the unholy pair of OBOL / SMIFF (32D: Knucklehead ___, Paul Winchell dummy of old TV) down my throat, and for what? "Look, these answers are all symmetrical." Not enough. By the way, "OBOL-SMIFF" is the new word for "Adjacent horrible fill." Dear lord, who the hell is Paul Winchell anyway? Is he friends with EVE ARDEN (57A: "Our Miss Brooks" star of 1950s TV)? At least I've (vaguely) heard of her. What year is it? I'd say 1955, but (non-Tuesday!) FLO Rida says otherwise (19A: Rapper ___ Rida). Oh, and crossing ARSENIO (48A: Hall providing entertainment) with GHETTO (41D: ___ blaster)? Real nice. Subtle.

Could not get started up top to save my life. After first pass at NW, I had ... ODD (4D: Weird). That is all. What the $#%^ is a FOO Dog (5D: ___ dog (Chinese breed)). FOO Fighters is an actual, famous band, just waiting for you to use it as a clue. Egg FOO Young is available as well. I have watched dog shows — never seen a so-called FOO dog. Never seen a TUBULE either (1D: Tiny biological channel, as in the kidney). "As in the kidney?" "Oh, *kidney*! You must mean TUBULE!" How does "kidney" help get me to TUBULE? Anyway, long story short, had HASH for DASH (30D: --) — which, by the way, looks like TWO dashes in my version — which kept me from seeing DIVINE which kept me from seeing what I was dealing with. I teach Dante's "Inferno" every year. No help in picking up the theme. Once I picked it up, of course, I filled in all theme answers immediately, but still had to deal with OBOL-SMIFF and RAMA (49D: Blue-skinned deity) and other ughy stuff, so ... yeah, can't wait for tomorrow.

Bullets:
  • 46A: "England hath long been mad, and scarr'd ___" (HERSELF) — first, an absurd and self-consciously literary clue. Second, my Black Ink software Failed again, as the clue was too long to be seen and "hovering" the cursor over the clue did squat (it's supposed to make the whole clue appear in a pop-up box). So I had HERSE-- without knowing the context — the "L" and "F" being the ends of (you guessed it) OBOL-SMIFF!
  • 10D: Cinematic scene changer (WIPE) — Ugh. True enough, but not a Tuesday clue. I had WI-E and couldn't get it.


  • 12D: Captain Cook landfall of April 1769 (TAHITI) — Yay. This I got easily. Pulled me out of freefall.
  • 22A: Amount of money that can be raised? (ANTE) — I don't play poker, but this feels wrong to me. Everyone ANTEs, right? And then someone bets ... and *then* someone raises ... right? How can you "raise" an ANTE?
  • 34D: Alex Doonesbury's school, for short (M.I.T.) — figured it out easily enough, but again, I ask, what year is it? And what day of the week?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

125 comments:

Clark 12:29 AM  

In the old days of typewriters, which had only hyphens (that is, no en or em dashes), the DASH (the em-dash) was indicated in a typed manuscript by two hyphens, as the clue has it. Since we now have access to full font sets, this practice is no long acceptable. (I will admit however, that I input text with two hyphens for an en dash and three, count ‘em, three for an em dash, and then I do global replaces to set things right.) I wonder how they did em dashes in the days of chiseling on tablets. Wilma!

lit.doc 1:14 AM  

This has got to be the hardest Tuesday NYT puzzle I’ve ever done. By the time I got S worked out, I was still staring at only scattered, tentative fill N of AS IT IS and GEL. Tick. Tick. Tick. Then __SIT gave up POSIT, giving me a decent toehold in N, and I was back in business. Though business was painfully slow.

Eventually, the letters and blanks scattered across 15A and 23A materialized before my eyes into the quotation that, in retrospect, I can scarcely believe I didn’t remember the moment I saw DANTE and Virgil standing at THE GATES OF HELL.

The rest was correcting missteps (read “SWAGs”) like TOY for FOO, LIL for FLO, IN SYNC for IN A ROW, FAILS for LOSES, and RAPT for AGOG. Done in 37:34.

I’m ever so curious to see what our resident constructors will have to say about this one—a strikingly unusual grid layout, and the most elaborately inter-related and cross-clued answers I’ve ever seen. Cross-clued answers usually just annoy me, but these seemed to justify themselves pretty well given their coherent context. Heck of a solving experience.

@Rex:
· Me too re “Amount of money that can be raised?” Ante’s the price of admission but, so far as I know, in games that have a limit on how big a raise can be, the limit is unrelated to the ante.
· FWIW, Alex Doonesbury is currently enrolled in MIT, so the year is, indeed, 2010.
· And re the stuttered DASH at 30D, blame the page proofer. Decent word processors autoconvert two hyphens into an em dash if they touch a letter on each end (which, in this case, could then have been deleted). Word, for example, does (which is why I always write my posts in Word), while whatever word processor your blog’s comment box uses doesn’t, oddly.

SethG 1:23 AM  

Average Thursday time for me as well. I do not teach Dante, and I did not fill in the theme answers anywhere close to immediately even when I understood what it was asking for. I couldn't have told you that quote was even from Dante, and it turns out I also couldn't have put the quote's words in the right order.

Yes, one cannot raise an ante in any version I've played, either. I inferred FLO, maybe seen it before. I definitely learned OBOL when it crossed SPOOR and I was at a baseball game. I learned FOO, TUBULE, and SMIFF about an hour ago.

CoolPapaD 1:24 AM  

I am so pleased that Rex felt this had a late week feel to it - got it done, but slowly, and with a few guesses. Now that the grid is done, though, it doesn't seem that difficult.

The M in RAMA / AMATI took way too long, til the song "Hare Krishna" from "Hair" ran through my head (Hare Rama...) - I could listen to that soundtrack forever - definitely a desert island disk.

Never knew Dante had a last name. Why is William Shakespeare called Shakespeare, but Mr. Alighieri is Dante? Is that stylish in Italian? I guess I'll have to ask Madonna Ciccone! The R crossing LIBRES was a guess, though not many others letters sound like they could be correct. Still...

I am suprised that GHETTO blaster (boom-box) isn't considered way inappropriate. There are better ways to clue GHETTO (Warsaw...). FOO!

chefwen 1:25 AM  

I am so glad that this was rated challenging, I thought I had entered into a Tuesday Twilight Zone. Took me waaaay longer than your usual Tues. I finally got DANTE, but his last name????? Had to get it all with crosses. But c'mon WIPE, thought it was whip, SMIFF, I knew Paul Winchell, but really. Second day in a row with that Cuban rum drink (yesterday LAT) now I will have to try one.

Looking forward to Wednesday, or maybe not.

andrea m.i.a. michaels 4:53 AM  

Didn't we just have a protracted discussion about that exact quoe but days ago? (So I transposed HOPE and ALL)
It seemed like a really tight, really dense, highly educated theme...
@Cool Papa D,
My guess is that most folks then were by first name (Leonardo FROM Vinci, maybe it's Dante FROM GHIERI or something...I guess I should wait till someone more erudite chimes in.

As for the whole GHETTO thing, perhaps that was originally tied in to the original theme, as GHETTO is an Italian word that refers to the iron bars...the first Jewish ghetto being in Roma, right? (Again, I'm probably conflating a million little pieces of trivia I know incorrectly, but I hope not)

I'll met Jeffrey Wechsler tried to construct the whole thing to all tie together. Usually Will does not want the first square of a puzzle to be a black square, but this is the second day in a row that that is clearly not a hard nor fast rule...

SMIFF is new to me, tho I remember the Paul Winchell show quite clearly, considering I must have been younger than 10 at the time!

And again, more confusion...I thought Doonesbury took place at Yale where the creator went and I thought Garry Trudeau named it after one of his roommates from Minnesota who was a Pillsbury.
Suddenly I'm not sure of anything any more.

chefbea 5:38 AM  

Wow!!! What a difficult puzzle. Couldn't finnish it and had to come here. Maybe it's just that I'm tired from the move.

Think I might cook dinner tonight - haven't done that in about a week.

Bretski 5:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bretski 5:40 AM  

Ugh. It's unanimous. That was a slog.

I kind of like the slightly different grid shape, and it does have a pretty nice flow to it. Those 6, 7, 15 stacks in the NW and SW are pretty nifty for a Tuesday (or it would be if not for TUBULE and EVEARDEN). If it had run tomorrow or Thursday, I might have enjoyed it. As it was I was just frustrated by the time I got through with it. To make matters worse, I first gained traction in the E, revealing COMEDY. Needless to say that got me going in the wrong direction. All in all about 4 times my normal Tuesday pace!

I basically had the exact opposite experience that I had with BEQs puzzle yesterday. Totally outside my cultural comfort zone. I wonder if this is what my dad would feel like trying to tackle a BEQ.

Steven 6:08 AM  

Being a sci-fi person, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle gave me many answers. Along with Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series. But the weirdest link I came up with, I searched "Rama" at amazon and the 8th link was "ghetto face a face".

DrGaellon 6:10 AM  

I actually finished today's puzzle in 11:30. TUBULE was obvious to me, but then, I'm a physician, so kidney physiology is familiar territory.

Foo dogs refer to small Chinese breeds like Pekingese and Chow Chow, which look like guardian lion statues (foo lions).

RAMA/AMATI was the last clue I got. Never heard of Paul Winchell, though Eve Arden is very familiar -- she was the principal in the movie version of Grease, and I've seen her in other crosswords before. Poor lady was born "Eunice Quedens" -- no wonder she changed it.

@andrea: no, the first Jewish ghetto was in Venezia (Venice).

Parshutr 6:25 AM  

Well, to us codgers this was "Easy-Medium". I'm 69, so I saw Paul Winchell and his dummy on B&W TV at a neighbor's house (Eve Arden, too...and heard her on the radio in "A date with Judy", Oogie Pringle's teacher (Oogie was played by Richard Crenna).
Got the lead line seeing AL_HO, filled in the rest on autopilot, including OBOL and AENEID.
And, no Simpson's characters. FLO RIDA was a gimme, as was AMATI, MANET, and ARSENIO.
The only xwordese I saw was the familiar ISM.
So, for once, it pays to be older than dirt. Hope that doesn't stick in your CRAW.
Oh, and when the poker game gets going and the small timers leave the table, you RAISE THE ANTE to keep it interesting.

Parshutr 6:28 AM  

@Bretski...I'm probably older than your dad, and yesterday was a breeze. Some of us have actually heard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (even though we never saw it/her).

DavidB 6:48 AM  

I am almost Parshutr's age, as a result SMIFF was a gimme but in general I agree with Rex. Very hard for a Tuesday. I solve in pencil but I would guess my time was more in the normal Wednesday or Thursday range.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 7:10 AM  

"As in the kidney?" "Oh, *kidney*! You must mean TUBULE!"

Chuckle.

PuzzleGirl 7:24 AM  

Anyone else confidently enter POTATO blaster? No? Just me? Hmmm ....

jnc 7:28 AM  

Aegis? Aeneid? On a Tuesday? It's as though Will Shortz either doesn't know or doesn't care that I was up all night with puking dogs. Talk about the Gates of Hell!

The Bard 7:40 AM  

The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
Act V. Scene IV
KING RICHARD III: A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

CATESBY: Withdraw, my lord; I'll help you to a horse.

KING RICHARD III: Slave, I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die:
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Five have I slain to-day instead of him.
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!
[Exeunt]

Act V, scene V

[Alarum. Enter KING RICHARD III and RICHMOND; they
fight. KING RICHARD III is slain. Retreat and
flourish. Re-enter RICHMOND, DERBY bearing the
crown, with divers other Lords]

RICHMOND: God and your arms be praised, victorious friends,
The day is ours, the bloody dog is dead.

DERBY: Courageous Richmond, well hast thou acquit thee.
Lo, here, this long-usurped royalty
From the dead temples of this bloody wretch
Have I pluck'd off, to grace thy brows withal:
Wear it, enjoy it, and make much of it.

RICHMOND: Great God of heaven, say Amen to all!
But, tell me, is young George Stanley living?

DERBY: He is, my lord, and safe in Leicester town;
Whither, if it please you, we may now withdraw us.

RICHMOND: What men of name are slain on either side?

DERBY: John Duke of Norfolk, Walter Lord Ferrers,
Sir Robert Brakenbury, and Sir William Brandon.

RICHMOND: Inter their bodies as becomes their births:
Proclaim a pardon to the soldiers fled
That in submission will return to us:
And then, as we have ta'en the sacrament,
We will unite the white rose and the red:
Smile heaven upon this fair conjunction,
That long have frown'd upon their enmity!
What traitor hears me, and says not amen?
England hath long been mad, and scarr'd herself;
The brother blindly shed the brother's blood,
The father rashly slaughter'd his own son,
The son, compell'd, been butcher to the sire:
All this divided York and Lancaster,
Divided in their dire division,
O, now, let Richmond and Elizabeth,
The true succeeders of each royal house,
By God's fair ordinance conjoin together!
And let their heirs, God, if thy will be so.
Enrich the time to come with smooth-faced peace,
With smiling plenty and fair prosperous days!
Abate the edge of traitors, gracious Lord,
That would reduce these bloody days again,
And make poor England weep in streams of blood!
Let them not live to taste this land's increase
That would with treason wound this fair land's peace!
Now civil wounds are stopp'd, peace lives again:
That she may long live here, God say amen!

[Exeunt]

Elaine 7:43 AM  

Well, I worked this one from the bottom up, although slowed because sloppy printing made me think, 'AENEIP? This can't be right!'

As soon as I saw --IGHIERI it was plain what was going on, so I entered the rest of the theme answers at once. Normally I hate and loathe jumping-around-the-grid clues, but these ended up being fairly painless. Had PUG dog at first, which led to my abandoning the North for the 'two peas in__' and working my way up.

I really enjoyed this puzzle and found it a quick solve. In fact, I missed some of the clever tie-ins because I never read half of the clues! My big complaint about this puzzle is that it was all over too soon!

@Parshtr
I agree--being old helped! I did not know FLO, but many memories of EVE ARDEN on *radio.* Never saw the TV version, but Wally and Mr. Boynton are all alive and well somewhere in my brain.

Crosscan 7:51 AM  

Oh, come on Rex! This one was...wait you're completely right.

dk 7:54 AM  

Err, I liked this one. I think this may be another week in Bizzaro World for me.

Got the quote (also on the door to the Steppenwolf Theater) and being a great fan of the show TAFFY the Filling Extractor...

Watched the Oscars so the blue-skinned clue kinda threw me.

Agree this puzzle spanned a few decades (eras) but hey, its a puzzle. WIPE was the only groaner for me and had armor for AEGIS to start.

My opinion on ANTE. The ANTE creates a pot or betting pool that may be raised so I can except 22D as accurate.

@jnc, awoke the other night to the step cat offering up a hair ball. I empathize.

@andrea, I'm sure your the bees knees.

**** (4 Stars) Hard but fair.

Smitty 7:55 AM  

Well today I learned that Paul Winchell invented the articficial heart with the help of Dr. Henry Heimlich

Perhaps it was during the administration of Heimlich Maneuver that Knucklehead SMITH introduced himself as SMIFF - cause this is the first I've heard of it.

-Smiffy

jesser 8:07 AM  

What Rex said. This was way hard for a Tuesday. I bartended while earning my master's, so Cuba LIBRES gave me my first significant toe hold down in the SE, and I muscled my way through this beast. Amazingly (to me), my only write-over was at 33D, where I originally entered TEst. I don't think of AGOG as a synonym for spellbound, so that sticks in my CRAW. I remember Eve Arden from a show that I believe was called The Mothers In Law. I could be wrong. I will sing few PRAISES for this as a Tuesday puzzle, although I think I'd have been OK with it on a Thursday or Friday.

Guila! (how you pronounce the liquor used in margaritas, after you've ingested seven of them) -- jesser

The Corgi of Mystery 8:21 AM  

I feel like this one should have gone to PB at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Just felt...off for a NYT Tuesday. I did like the unusual grid shape though

Dante 8:23 AM  

Go to Hell

tptsteve 8:25 AM  

Tough Tuesday, I agree, but I liked it a lot, in no .

But when Dante fell (pun intended), I just laughed out loud because, as @AC[fill in the blank]M pointed out, this quote came up last week, or late the week before.

I also liked that the Aeneid made an appearance. Two classics in one puzzle- such a deal.

Maybe we'll have "facilis descensus averno" next week.

joho 8:26 AM  

Wow, I'm in the minority today because I really liked this puzzle. My first thought at reading Rex' write-up was that he had donned @dk's cranky pants. And @dk ... you liked it!

I got what I didn't know through crosses and totally enjoyed the theme. It was perhaps difficult for a Tuesday but as Tuesdays go the theme was "really tight, really dense, highly educated" per @andrea. I agree with that.

Thank you, Jeffrey Wechsler!

Zeke 8:58 AM  

I took about a ten year hiatus from doing the crossword puzzles some time ago. I resumed a few years ago, using it as a litmus test of my cognative ability on a daily basis. If not for the consensus opinion that this was a difficult Tuesday, I would just go back to bed, as I'm clearly having a stupid day.

That being said, I liked the puzzle, with the notable exceptions of GHETTO and SMIFF. LIBRES would have been in the list if not for yesterdays LA puzzle, AENEID because I can never remember how to spell it even after slogging through it in Latin about 40 years ago, RAMA if I had ever actually seen it, and a couple of others. Oops, forgot to add OBOL. At least it wasn't clued as an anagram of a timber wolf.
Nice puzzle, wrong day, though don't know what day this would have fit.

retired_chemist 9:00 AM  

Foo dog is a new one to me. Also to the American Kennel Club I bet. Includes a raft of dissimilar dogs acc. to Wikipedia.

Tubules are essential to the kidney's function. I am not a MD but the term "renal tubule" is familiar to me. Don't see it as a problem clue, except maybe Rex's point is it is a late week clue instead of a Tuesday.

Got the theme from getting DANTE ALIGHIERI but then confused the NE by switching ALL and HOPE. The sentence still parses sensibly but the crosses are strange.

I'd say medium. Enjoyed it.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Don't hold back, Rex. Tell us what you really think.

retired_chemist 9:02 AM  

Forgot to say 18A SALAAMS also added to my NE woes. Two and out - going to yet another dog show, this one 5 days in San Antonio. The River Walk will be nice this time of year.

HudsonHawk 9:05 AM  

I think Rex was implying that the kidney addendum in 1D was Olafian. It was for me.

Where did you study gridmaking??? At OBOL-SMIFF TECH. EGAD!

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

I really like this one and think that the whole NW and WIPE were tough, but the rest was Tuesday easy.

If it WAS a tough Tuesday, maybe it's because Will called the constructor and said "nice puzzle, but too easy. Let's raise the ante".

OBOL-SMIFF. Good stuff Rex.

mitchs 9:16 AM  

9:14 was a fumble-fingered Mitchs

Elaine 9:18 AM  

The captcha on this screen is 'cytogoea' and almost irresistible. It's so....CLOSE to being a real word. If cytoplasm is the building block of Cells, is 'cytogoea' the building block of Goo?

ArtLvr was very informative re FOO dogs on the WordPlay blog (where this puzzle got a lot more love than it has here.)

I don't know what mental storage bin had SMIFF in it, but I got it off one F...but I thought the first name was Snuffy. I know I never saw the TV show, but I was thinking of a newspaper comic character. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

deerfencer 9:19 AM  

Had to work like a foo dog on this one but in the end it lay whimpering at my feet.

I'm 55 so he was a bit before my time but Paul Winchell was hugely popular in his day, no? Very surprised some here have never heard of him.

OTOH I never knew that Dante even HAD a last name, never mind one that makes him sound like a Sopranos walk-on ;-)

I give this puzzle both a thumbs and middle finger up just for being such a tubile buster, though you have to wonder what kind of meds Shortz is on lately that have him mixing up the days of the week so badly.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

I'm with the sizable group of folks who enjoyed the puzzle. But then I knew Dante's last name and I read Doonesbury.

Rex is just off his feed because there's no Simpsons clues in the thing.

Gray 9:46 AM  

Stakes are raised. ANTEs are upped.

And hope is (maybe) "abandoned".

Bob Kerfuffle 9:53 AM  

Count me among those who loved this puzzle. Great theme density, hoity-toity high class subject matter, very little stale crosswordese. Then I came to the blog and read Rex's views - LOL!

Of course, I am more in the age bracket of @Parshutr et al. I watched "Our Miss Brooks" first-run, and undoubtedly saw Paul Winchell and friends on the Ed Sullivan show.

And as ACME points out, Dante himself visited the blog just recently. (Not the same Dante who posted a comment today, by the way.)

Regarding today's posting from Dante, which shows a fiery Hell, I, an ignorant product of America's failing public education system, thought Dante's Hell was cold, with Satan frozen in ice at the center. Can someone enlighten me?

Frances 9:53 AM  

Definitely a day for us old folks. No sports at all, and very little current pop culture. I've TUNED OUT pop culture all my life, so Paul Winchell's dummy was no more and no less a problem than many another got-it-from-the-crosses. I admired the snugly tailored 14-across theme entries and found the whole enterprise thoroughly enjoyable.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

OBOL-SMIFF lives!

Stan 9:58 AM  

What an odd puzzle! (For all the what-Rex-said reasons.) Seemed teleported from the Fifties, or some other alien planet where they have access to earth-texts.

However I'm completely awed that Dante's whole name and the the first lines of the Inferno break down into the same number of letters. Congrats to Mr. Weschler on this highly original construction.

Jesse 10:00 AM  

I found this easy - for me. I'm not in Rex's league, so an 8-minute finish w/o googling is respectable for me.

It helped that I recognized Dante's last name, after which all the theme answers just flew into place. I never heard of smiff, rama, tubule, obol, foo (as in dog) or wipe (as in cimematic change-over) but they all filled themselves in from the crosses.

Stan 10:01 AM  

Correction: Ooops, not the 'first lines' -- the 'most famous' lines.

Glitch 10:01 AM  

Count me in with the *old timers*, (puzzle solving and chronologicaly), who had no problem today.

Except for the theme quote, (which is familiar enough once you get started) plus HOMAGES, LIBRES, and SMIFF, all answers have appeared in the Will Shortz era. (Including DANTEALIGHIERI 6/4/02).

Not even a problem with ANTE once I thunk outside of that narrow Poker *Box*.

Makes up for last Saturday where I never got started.

.../Glitch

treedweller 10:02 AM  

I spent an average Tuesday time working on the top half of the grid and wondered if this would be the first Tuesday in memory that I couldn't even come close to finishing. Got DIVINE early from crosses, but thought the "source" would be a person, so I kept trying to make "Miss M" fit where COMEDY belonged.

Finally, I went to the south and found the theme answers and the rest eventually fell into place. Never even saw OBOL or a couple of the other . . . surprising answers mentioned above.

@Elaine Snuffy Smith is probably the comic strip you are remembering. The characters therein tend to use dialect in their speech, so it's likely that many times Mr. Smith was called SMIFF. I wonder if there are any other comic strips that had a minor character usurp the original title role . . . I suppose Monty did it to Robotman.

dk 10:04 AM  

except i should have written accept

@bob k - on cold v. hot two words: global warming

treedweller 10:17 AM  

@dk I used to work at a grocery store that had a notice on every register instructing cashiers : "Do not except checks from [three or four names]." I always wished one of them would write me a check so I could be sure and accept it.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

if you are in first position after the deal, and you want to raise, rather than just call the minimum, you are raising the ante, effectively

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

ffranktly

Van55 10:26 AM  

I had to cursor down to post my comment before reading all the other entries due to time constraints.

I am on a completely different wavelength than Rex this week, it seems. I enjoyed this puzzle very much. I did say to myself, "Thursday came early this week." But it was a good challenge for me.

As for raising the ante, it's done all the time in, for example, Texas Hold=em tournaments. As the game goes on and winners accumulate more chips, the ante is raised to make it more risky to bluff and more expensive to play.

ArtLvr 10:27 AM  

@ Elaine -- thanks for the mention! I adored this puzzle, zipping through rather quickly but not too fast to savor all the aspects of the theme answers and most of the fill too.

TIPOFF didn't come to mind immediately, but CRAW did -- opening up the NE. I just worked down and all around from there, smiling at seeing MANET again, until I got back to TUBULE and TIPOFF, no major sticking points though FLO Rida was new to me.

The ANTE clue doesn't mention poker specifically, and can be taken in a more allegorical sense as stakes in any undertaking being raised to increase the risks, "upping the ante".

I loved all the classical tidbits, from the RAMA and OBOL to the AENEID and AEGIS. The FOO Dog is from ancient times too, one of the pair of sacred dogs of Asia who guard Buddhist temples. Known as Temple Lions and Dragons as well, they come in male and female with one having a ball or globe under the forepaw for Domination and the other a cub for Protection. I have a male carved in jade, six inches tall, but never had the mate. The glaring eyes, frowning squished-in face, bared teeth and erect mane framing the head atop a sturdy lion's body and lashing tail are quite ferocious even in miniature.

EGAD, I was happy with this elegant work! Even EVE ARDEN is a classic in her way, with her utterly distinctive voice and style almost like a Greek chorus in one female form. All PRAISES and HOMAGES to Jeffrey Wechsler... You made my day.

∑;)

JayWalker 10:32 AM  

Huh! I'm with Van55 above. I found this to be a fairly straight-forward and not-too-difficult puzzle. Altho, I must admit, at this point in my life I will NEVER learn to spell Alighieri correctly. Also, at this point in my life, I must admit to knowing Paul Winchell and Mr. Smiff. So sue me!

Lorne 10:32 AM  

I'm with JOHO...Rex and a lot others sound like they need a nap. Tough for a Tuesday but still a very interesting and do-able puzzle. Do puzzles need to be judged by whether they can be done within your time expectations? Personally, I liked the challenge.

Elaine2 10:32 AM  

Once I got started, I really LIKED this puzzle, although it did seem tougher than your average Tuesday!

Sorry, Rex, that it made you so CRANKY. Hope your day improves.

(PS -- what makes RAMA qualify as an "ugly" answer? He's a "gimme" to any Hindu or other person educated in world religions. We all know different stuff, I guess)

hazel 10:36 AM  

Like many Tuesdays, the puzzle had an odd, eclectic vibe to it, which always (I mean always!) seems to put us out of sorts. We don't know what to expect, and that seems to unsettle us. Cue Wade's "Tuesday, what are you doing up there?" from who knows how long ago.

I read Dante's Inferno when I was a senior in high school, and it changed the way I looked at the world. It was nice to be reminded of that fact this morning.

Thumbs up from me - who like @Zeke - also solves puzzles to track cognitive function. Based on my averages, this was slow for a Tuesday, but fast for a Wednesday. So Challenging rating seems just right.

And I'm NOT old!!

OldCarFudd 10:47 AM  

Here is a bit of trivia I guarantee you've never seen before, will never see again, and won't give a damn about. The Antique Automobile Club awards the Foo-Dog trophy every year to a Rolls-Royce, chosen for age and condition. The trophy is an old Chinese urn with a foo dog on top. Now, aren't you glad you read this?

Oh, yes, the puzzle. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I checked the calendar a couple of times to be sure I hadn't overslept by two days. I don't play poker, but I've often heard of upping (less often raising) the ante.

foodie 10:48 AM  

Wow, this one is polarizer. Propelled everyone near the extremes and vacated the middle. I'm on the positive end-- I greatly enjoyed it.

Even though I'm in the older camp, since I spent my youth elsewhere, I did not know many of the really old stuff. But I thought it was a sophisticated, tightly knit, elegant puzzle. And while hard at first blush, once you get a toehold into the quote, then it falls at your feet.

I try not to blame the constructor for being misplaced-- it should have been a Wednesday. But, thank you JW for a lovely solving experience!

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

Over 50 comments this early?Fantastic Tuesday! I loved every minute of it.
The span of time involving pop culture made me feel like I was popping in and out of some time warp. @ Parshutr - Flo was a gimme? I only got that from the crosses.
A lovely solving experience for me with some new tidbits for the mental filing cabinet.
@CoolPapaD, I wore out my vinyl copy of the Hair soundtrack. I still know all of the lyrics. Thanks for the flashback.
Is this a debut?

DB Geezer 10:52 AM  

I join those who enjoyed this puzzle. Sorry that the rest of you ABANDONED HOPE as YE ENTERED this puzzle.

I was confused by the word order of the quote, but just discovered that different translations use different word order.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here, is the way I have always heard it.

As a retired urologist, TUBULE was one of my first entries. Sorry so many of you found this puzzle to be a pisser.

lit.doc 10:53 AM  

@The Corgi of Mystery, I had the same thought—this seems perfect for the Chronicle of Higher Ed. But do they ever feature 15x’s?

@retired_chemist, wow, SALAAMS is one of the highest-quality wrong answers I’ve seen in ages! Not being snarky—I always feel much better about my missteps if they’re actually serviceable answers. If I hadn’t already crossed with CALMER and REHASH, I might well have gone down that same road.

@Deerfencer, LMFAO over your rating system!

@Bob Kerfuffle, right you are. In the Ninth Circle of Hell is a frozen lake—Cocytus—in which sundry types of sinners are immured. And Dante and Virgil make their way through the middle of the Earth by climbing up Satan’s icy hair.

David 10:57 AM  

Sorry -- this just wasn't that tough. Anyone who watched television in the 50s and 60s remembers ventriloquist Paul Winchell and his dummies, Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff, sponsored by Nestle's Quick. I can still hear the commercial.
I grantt you that a "Foo" dog is not a breed, it is a kind of statue. They come in pairs as guardian spirits of a house -- sort of canine dragons.

Aaron M 11:15 AM  

Oh thank god. I thought I was getting stupid. A bit of shadenfreude on a tuesday as I take pleasure in knowing how much you all struggled with this puzzle. I finished, but barely, and not without some luck.

Deborah 11:21 AM  

How did I live 58 years thinking Knucklehead's last name was Smith? Smiff? Well, it's better than Doody.

tptsteve 11:27 AM  

Query- It seems so very fast, but could this puzzle have been created as a reaction to the discussion previously referenced? Or is it just coincidence? RP?

@CoolPapaD- Interesting question as to why he's known by his first name, since others of that general time frame, e.g.,Boccaccio and Chaucer, are not.

Not that I can answer your question, but he's Dante for the same reason Rembrandt (van Rijn)is known as Rembrandt. Who knows?



Dipsinge- cold water for your finger after you burn it

JenCT 11:34 AM  

I thought this puzzle was more Thursday/Friday in difficulty. Got most of it, but had to come here to finish.

Glad so many seemed to like it - not a Tuesday time for me!

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Am I the only one whos grasp of history is so lose, or order of solving so strange, that for _A___I I had HAWAII (landfall Jan. 1778) , rather than TAHITI (landfall April 1769).
- Aaron

JenCT 11:39 AM  

BTW Rex, enjoyed the clip of the Ventures - my son plays that song regularly with his surf band!

Charles Bogle 11:46 AM  

totally agree w likes of @jesser, @crosscan, @lit.doc (am especially please to see it was tough for a lit.doc)...like Rex, I got nowhere up top, either side

Also, much against my personal rule, had to resort to google, and too much at that, to finish

felt like a friday-

did like seeing MANET, REHASH, AGOG..does anyone outside film-making know what a WIPE is

dunno. Felt the whole time that it was awfully pretentious; that the constructor felt he needed to show the world how smart he is. Had very little crosswordese pleasure IMO

Masked and Anonymous 11:50 AM  

After I entered the puzzle and abandoned all hope of a Tuesday-level workout, things actually went pretty well. Since Tuesdays are usually uneventfully easy, my enjoyment level here was much higher than average. So gotta go big thumb's up.

Liked that OBOL and SMIFF sorta protected theme-giveaway COMEDY from being uncovered too easily. Ditto ANTE's curious clue and POSIT for protecting DIVINE. Classy work, in my opinion.

I get "hicies" today for my verifyer. Talk about your close to real words.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Hand up for SALAAMS. @lit.doc, you made my day! (wow, SALAAMS is one of the highest-quality wrong answers I’ve seen in ages!

sondrose

mitchs 11:56 AM  

Thanks for Ventures vid. Some of the guitar work was more modern (some shredding going on) than I remember from the era.

chroutpa 12:04 PM  

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.

Justice the founder of my fabric mov'd:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.

Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon ye who enter here.

Such characters in colour dim I mark'd
Over a portal's lofty arch inscrib'd:
Whereat I thus: Master, these words import.

obertb 12:23 PM  

Yeah, I dunno. I kept checking my calendar to see if I had blanked out a couple of days and it was really Thursday, but once I saw 13A [ABANDON ALL HOPE] the rest of the theme answers became instant gimmes. And I'm no medievalist. I did have to guess (correctly, as it turned out) on the L-crossing of TUBULE and FLO, but the rest, including the dreaded OBOL-SMIFF, went down pretty easily. And you don't *have* to be in social security territory to know EVE ARDEN; I wasn't around during the American Revolution and yet I've heard of Patrick Henry, et al.

I never mention my times because they're usually embarrassingly long, but I did this one in just over 14 min. Not setting the cruciverb world on fire by any means, but not bad for me.

miguel 12:26 PM  

I thought it was a hell of a puzzle. I was in limbo for a bit in the NE and experienced my own personal purgatory in the SW. When I finished, I thought it was heavenly. What I thought would have been really cool would have been circles in the grid.
I'm going underground for the rest of the day.

edith b 12:35 PM  

I had my first "TV crush" on Richard Crenna when he played Walter Denton on the "Our Miss Brooks" show from the 50s.

Which makes me a woman of an age where "Classic" meant being exposed to s smattering of Greek and Roman culture. Any puzzle that contains a reference to a GHETTO blaster and things Dante-esque is all right in my book.

Clark 12:40 PM  

@Gray -- Thanks for that link. It explains the ‘all’ that migrates about the phrase in the popular semi-conscious, seeming to be at home in two different places. There is the ‘all’ that is a translation of ‘ogni’ [every] and there is the ‘all’ that is a way to translate ‘voi’ [ye (or all ye)] into a language with no disctinct second person plural.

Thanks to @treedweller for the best line of the day: “I kept trying to make "Miss M" fit where COMEDY belonged.”

Dante’s father’s name was Alighiero. It looks like Alighieri is a derivation of Alighierii which means (in Latin maybe?) son of Alighiero. Something like that. I'll spend more time looking into this if somebody pays me.

bluebell 12:49 PM  

@miguel, circles in the grid would have been perfect. I still remember the Guggenheim grid.

I was getting nowhere in the north, so moved to the deep south, and once I had enough of alighieri filled in, I too saw where this was going.

I'm feeling proud that I worked through a hard puzzle with no Googles--getting the several things I didn't know through crosses. A couple of years ago I would have abandoned not only hope, but the puzzle itself.

Did I say I liked it? I did, very much.

chefbea 1:01 PM  

I just remembered - When I was much younger, my parents took us to Sun Valley every summer. One summer I meth Paul Winchell there. He was of course with Jerry Mahoney.

Chip Hilton 1:22 PM  

Since clues concerning rappers (FLO Rida? Really?) seem to be acceptable, why not some references to early TV to balance things out? I'm 61, and like Parshutr and others , I used the Paul Winchell and EVE ARDEN clues to help me manuever my way through this delightfully challenging Tuesday puzzle.

UConn/St. John's - 2:00 TIPOFF. Now or never time for the Huskies.

Doc John 1:25 PM  

Rex was unreasonably hard on this puzzle today. As has always been said, one man's WTF is another man's gimme- I have a FOO dog lamp sitting on my bookcase!
Speaking of FOO, Rex always complains of tired fill but then when someone gives him something fresh, he complains about it because he doesn't know it. Yes, OBOL-SMIFF were really out there but both of their clues could have been *whatever* because they were gettable from the crosses. And as was posted above, "kidney" does suggest TUBULE.
Finally, I loved EVE ARDEN as a kid. She was in a show called "The Mothers-in-Law" that was a real hoot!
I liked the puzzle- so there!

Glitch 1:43 PM  

For those who see *Paul McCartny* and think *Wings*:

Eve Arden TV Series:

"Our Miss Brooks" Connie Brooks (130 episodes, 1952-1956)

"The Eve Arden Show" .... Liza Hammond / ... (26 episodes, 1957-1958)

"The Mothers-In-Law" .... Eve Hubbard (56 episodes, 1967-1969)

and a whole lot of other stuff from the 1920's to the 1980's.

..../Glitch

Zeke 1:43 PM  

Curiosity got the better of me and to Martinize you all, here's the lowdown on FOO dogs. My theory is they're half-Chow mongrels, and some fools made up a new breed, just because they could.

Newbie 1:49 PM  

I thought that it was cruel but fair puzzle. Took me at least 3 times my normal early week time (in pen on paper), but I'm just a beginning crossword solver. I had most of "alighieri" before I remember who he was, then it was just a matter of filling in the boxes. The stuff I'd never heard of (smiff, obol, foo, flo, tubule were really easy to suss out from the crosses). It was nice to solve a relatively challenging (for me anyway) puzzle that wasn't geared toward kids who think pop culture stated in 1990.

melissa 1:51 PM  

Flo Rida?! Ghetto blaster?!

W

T

F, NYT?!

David 1:59 PM  

Regarding "ante" - I've played some poker, and generally, the minimum raise on a hand is the same amount as the ante - which could be something of what the author was getting at.
--D

Steve J 2:02 PM  

Somewhere up in the heavens, Ooxteplernon is smiling at the "lovely" offering he received this Tuesday.

Not much I can say that hasn't already been said. Just count me amongst those for whom this puzzle was not enjoyable at all.

Rube 2:10 PM  

We've got Natick & Olaf & OOXTERPLENON. I use "pink". There ought to be a word or expression to describe a Xwrd that many never heard of but is a gimme for many others. Wipe, imo, is one of those words. @RP, @CharlesBogle, and others never heard of this word in reference to cinematography, yet anyone who has edited their home movies using one of the many movie making apps like Adobe's Premiere would say this was a gimme.

It's too late in the day/blog to suggest "wipe" for this concept, just sayin'.

With Alice in Wonderland getting so much press these days, I was at first thinking this opening line had to do with the White Rabbit. Working my way down, I had very few entries until I got to the SW and saw D_N__AL____. Saw that Lewis Carrol (or Charles Dodgson) wasn't going to fit, had a sip of coffee, wrote in DANTEALIGgeRI, thought this puzzle is on a whole different plane, corrected the spelling with crosses, filled in the opening line and location, and this suddenly became a Tuesday puzzle again.

And a very enjoyable puzzle at that. I can handle one pink pop pap word, (FLO), in a puzz.

ArtLvr 2:34 PM  

p.s. re: "Lasciate ogne speranze, voi ch'entrate." or
"Abandon every hope, (all) you who enter."

The expressed adjective "ogne" (any, every, each and all) modifes the noun "speranza" (hope) and both have a feminine singular ending even if one is -e and the other -a. Thus clearly it's "Abandon all hope"...

The confusion in English is that the Italian "voi" is a familiar second person plural form, so it means "all of you" without any modification in Italian. The familiar singular of "you" is "tu", while the formal forms are "lei" singular, and "loro" plural. In Italian, "voi" is optional and is used to emphasize the plural "you" -- otherwise the plural is understood by the verb ending alone. If you want to say "I love you", it's "Te amo", much as we sign off with just "Love you" in English without the "I".

However, in English we now use "you" for both singular and plural, and naturally want to insert "all of you" for specificity... Nevertheless, the full meaning is better served here by using only "you" so that the emphasis stays on the leaving behind of ALL hope. (Interesting sidelight: American "y'all" southern dialect can be either singular or plural!

∑;)

Rex Parker 3:02 PM  

OOXTEPLERNON will have you know that He lives in an undisclosed Grotto, not "the heavens." "The heavens" are too cliché for OOXTEPLERNON (and that's pretty *&^$ing cliché, let me tell you).

Oh, and "Martinize" as a verb is pure awesome.

rp

sanfranman59 3:16 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)

Tue 11:28, 8:52, 1.29, 96%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:41, 4:32, 1.26, 94%, Challenging

This is the third week in a row that the Tuesday puzzle has played more like a Wednesday. In this case, it would be rated as a Medium Wednesday. So far, the median solve time for both groups of solvers is the highest for a Tuesday in the 40 weeks I've been tracking times. I wonder if Will is intentionally ramping up the difficulty on Tuesdays or if it's just a passing phase? Time will tell.

mitchs 3:21 PM  

okay, this newbie will bite. Ooxteplernon?

Mark Murphy 3:21 PM  

For many years, Mr. Winchell also provided the voice of Tigger in Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh movies. He was also the voice of Dick Dastardly in a number of Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. (Granted, I'm thinking back to the 1970s.)

He also appeared on a very funny episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show," playing a warped ventriloquist who interviews Rob Petrie for a writing job. (Or, as I recall, his dummy interviews Rob.) The episode (co-written by Garry Marshall, as I recall) is titled "Talk to the Snail." Wouldn't mind seeing it again.

Anonymous 3:36 PM  

@Mitchs - Some time back, there was a puzzle with tons of bad fill, one row reading across had
OOX TEP LER NON . These were concatenated and the resulting jumble Ooxteplernon was decreed the God of Bad Fill.

mitchs 3:54 PM  

That's hysterical, thanks Anon. Let me guess: Tic tac toe loser; School in former republic (abbr.); (no idea, but I'll bet it wasn't good) and Nice refusal. Close?

the redanman 4:00 PM  

Ridiculous for a Tuesday. Stupid rather than wicked or insane hard.

got the south somehow! Then struggled with the actual quote transposing words like ALL YE confusing already stiff fill in the NE.


F&(*&^&^$*!!!

That was hard and did not constitute all that much fun, but an "almost solve" for me. First solve in A-Lite on this computer and first puzzle on a CW subscription since my residual form dead tree subscription finally expired after yesterday. Now I am good for another year at $39.95.

I hope the rest of the upcoming 51 Tuesday puzzles are at least a little more fun ....

mumble, mumble, mumble as the plumber installs the new kitchen faucet.

Dave Barry 4:09 PM  

I am not making this up.
The screen captcha is 'woeballs'
Too bad I retired.

stionsu 4:30 PM  

@Dave Barry

What were you planning to say when you got the captcha?

Moonchild 4:38 PM  

Hand up for the "loved it" camp.
I enjoyed learning about foo dogs.
Yea, it was hard but only because it was Tuesday. I get bored on Tuesdays a lot so this was great as a change of pace.
I'm so embarrassed at my calendar error yesterday about the upcoming equinox. (Where are those pesky specs?) I really do know when it is and always make my special moon and stars cookies for the event.
My favorite clue was Like 10 but not X.

Tom 5:28 PM  

Yikes.. are monday and tuesday getting harder or i'm just getting slower? my ego needs mon. and tues..

Sfingi 6:23 PM  

This was relatively easy for me because of the theme and oldster stuff. I once dreamt I did a cw with clues all about me. This was close.

What I did not know, but fell in: I've seen the FOO dog (real and ceramic) but didn't know its name. The OBOL apparently is the coin you give to Charon to cross the Styx. I've seen the same as Sicilian antiques called Litra (like lira?) with wheat, dolphin, chariot or Gorgon. Third - FLO Rida (but did know GHETTO blaster. Don't know Alex Doonsebury.
Didn't notice WIPE, which I didn't know.
Had "lacks" for LOSES, at first.

EVEARDEN is an oldsters' name to know. She had the most unusual voice. If the yung'uns don't know her they shoud grab a listen. I only heard her (didn't see), on radio.

I asked hubster about Knucklehead, one of Paul Winchell's puppets. Hubster began to sing a song. "We gotta go now...scotty watty doo da doo." But he thought it was Smith, and I had that for a while. After all, hubster couldn't read yet, then. I hear PW was a troubled man.

Does Zounds equal EGAD? Zounds, we learned in S. means "His Wounds." So it's sacreligious. Does EGAD really mean "O God"?

@Rex - Could ANTE here be like the "handle" at a track bet?
Please don't call the beautiful blue Rama ugly stuff!

Finally, back to Dante. To begin with, I named my son Dante (middle name, Trowbridge). I wanted an Italian name, but not a spaghetti bender name (Guido, Torquato, Nunzio, Pasquale) or a family name (Rosario=Russell) where ten people turn around. Dante is short for Durante, meaning enduring.
I have a dozen translation of the 3 books of the Comedy, and many illustrated sets.
Hubster's war story: He was in charge of the gas chamber at Fort Devens, Ayer MA and put up a sign, in Italian, "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate," drawn by a professional draftsman in the unit. He was rough on the entire brigade using max CS pellets (7). Gen. Santini gave him a Letter of Commendation, and it helped the unit win the Bell for Adano award, (which they called the Bell for O'Donnell.) But that's a different literary reference.
With the clue, "Opening line," I thought it might be the first line - "In the middle of the road of our life." ("Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita")

@Miguel - Ha ha. Circles.

mexgirl 6:38 PM  

""OBOL-SMIFF" is the new word for "Adjacent horrible fill.""

Couldn't agree more. The whole thing was a true circle of hell for me.

Glitch 6:45 PM  

[Warning - *there he goes again alert*]

Why the kvetching over a *challenging* Tuesday?

Those who only solve early week get a chance to experience a thrill like an OMG Klahn Friday.

Solving the puzzle is many things, but an entitlement is not one of them ;)

[/warning]

..../Glitch

Bob Kerfuffle 6:55 PM  

@mitchs -

Ooxteplernon was born 10/30/09. Here's the filled grid.

(I would link to the unsolved puzzle, but I don't know how!)

Rick Stein 7:09 PM  

Amount of money that can be raised - instead of raised, it should have said "upped", as in "up the ante." I've never heard anyone say "raise the ante."

mac 7:09 PM  

Yes, I agree, it should have been a Wednesday, but I loved this puzzle! My only write-overs were
tubule for tubula, and "ye" took care of that, and then I had a problem that took a little longer: "the gates TO hell"... not knowing obol and smiff (and for that matter, Eve Arden and this Alex Doonesbury (although I read it when I'm reduced to getting the Herald Tribune). I think knowing Dante and his last name, the Divine Comedy, and figuring the words (almost) of those lines, and, most importantly, being lucky in the order of solving clues, made this puzzle just slightly harder than an ordinary Tuesday, and much more interesting.

@Chip Hilton: sorry..... Now the ladies!

What a job it was to read all these comments....

E-pore?

PIX 7:10 PM  

Great puzzle...for a Thursday!

PlantieBea 7:35 PM  

What a day to come late to Rex Parker's blog--so many lively comments for this puzzle. I solved it while watching a piece of Mama Mia at the auto service shop this morning. I was glad for the challenge and thought the puzzle was great; got the theme with pieces of ALIGHIERI. Like Rube, I wondered if this was going to be an Alice in Wonderland puzzle.

DH (who hated this puzzle and gave up a few minutes ago) says there are also hemiOBOLs; he was really looking for a drachma, though.

Not many write-overs, but I had trouble with the ANTE and first entered WAGE.

william e emba 8:04 PM  

I liked it. I had a terrible time starting in the NW--not helped by not even noticing the clue for 1D TUBULE, which I bet I would have guessed, but once I had the DIVINE COMEDY in the middle, I filled in the rest of the theme answers quickly (OK, I was a bit hesitant over the spelling of ALIGHIERI, but I had the gist) and finished in a slow Tuesday time. Considering the puzzle is a bit oversized, I rate it medium.

I thought OBOL was a gimme. Well, almost. I knew it was OB?? and hesitated a bit thinking of OBUS (as in, full name is OBOLUS).

The DASH was clued with a 3em dash in the print version.

I got SMIFF easily since I read "Barney Google" daily (I think we saw him once three years ago). As for cartoons usurped by later walk-ons, the two most famous are probably Popeye taking over "Thimble Theatre" and Nancy taking over "Fritzi Ritz". Shortz even got fooled by one of these: once upon a time he clued "Popeye" as the comic strip drawn by E C Segar. That never happened.

Anonymous 8:16 PM  

a bit oversized?

Steve J 8:34 PM  

@Glitch: Nothing wrong with a challenging Tuesday. Last Tuesday's was challenging as well, and as I recall most people liked it. Problem for many with this one is that the fill just wasn't very good.

@ACM: forgot to reply earlier to your Doonesbury origin questions. You're correct about the Yale/Pillsbury angle. Alex is Mike Doonesbury's daughter, who apparently now is at MIT (which I did not know, as I stopped reading some years back when I stopped getting dead trees delivered to my doorstep daily).

@Rex: I wasn't sure what domain in which to place Ooxteplernon. Seeing as how LER was some Celtic sea god, maybe he should be in the depths. In fact, I think I remember a story about how he and Poseidon battled it out on the ocean floor way back when. Poseidon won, and got to be the god of the sea and earthquakes and such. Ooxteplernon lost, and had to console himself with being the god of crap fill.

Rube 8:47 PM  

107 comments later and there is finally someone for whom OBOL was a gimme. Congrats @weemba. Personally, I don't think OBOL is all that bad as fill goes. If you're into things Ancient Greek, this would be straightforward.

However, @weemba, you get A+'s for your knowledge of Popeye and Nancy, but you got Snuffy Smith (not SMIFF) from Barney Google wrong, as has been pointed out here by others. FWIW, even as a pre-teen back in the 50's, I disliked Nancy... thought it had "jumped the shark", to use a contemporary term.

ArtLvr 10:02 PM  

@ Rube -- Both OBOL and LER (see above) are true old timey crosswordese to a number of us besides @wm e emba, not usually calling for comment! If you're wondering how long that implies, I've been doing NYT xword puzzles on and off for over fifty years -- more regularly these days because I can make the time and because I've found Rex's blog and enjoy his comments, together with those of everyone else chiming in on topics and names unfamiliar to me.

@ Sfingi -- Delighted to hear that your son's name is DANTE and I hope you'll save a copy of today's homage for him.

@ Elaine -- My apologies for saying Southerners use "y'all" in both singular and plural without realizing that most wouldn't!

@ Doc John -- Super to hear you have a FOO Dog lamp.

The captcha is knoscor, which I read as "knows Cor" -- that's me, Cornelia, a name not much seen these days but often found in ancient Rome! (3 and out).

∑;)

fikink 10:37 PM  

I liked it.

Luke 10:38 PM  

I found this challenging. But I did learn a bunch of new words. I got a surprising amount of fill just through general knowledge. Heck I even knew the Doonesbury character went to MIT just because. I found the south to be much easier then the north.

I just noticed this but lots of A name

ALIGHIERI, AMATI, ARSENIO, ARDEN, AEGIS.

I had to look up ALIGHIERE since I just know him as Dante. I like the theme. Still, overall I can't complain. I did learn that you can use the word AEGIS to mean protection which I've never heard of.

Stan 10:51 PM  

Yes, awesome Ventures clip. @JenCT, I would like your son's band.

Anonymous 11:32 PM  

Maybe my age is showing, but I agree with the other codgers that this puzzle was not that hard.

Rex, I think that your youth is showing.

Olgeezer

Rube 11:49 PM  

@artlvr: I, as an epigone, defer to the superior knowldge of you vastly more experienced solvers. All I am saying here is that words like OBOL are, (apparently old time), crosswordese and should not be put into the category of "Adjacent horrible fill".

Also, I apologise to @wmeemba for crasly pointing out a mistake which he probably realized as soon as he hit the publish key. My bad.

BTW, there are two Cornelias at my church. Typical attendance ~120 @ the 10AM service. Admittedly, they are also of a "certain" age.

It's now 8:45PM PST so, on to Wednesday.

william e emba 12:59 PM  

Snuffy's last name Smith is spelled Smif in the Barney Google hillbilly dialect, usually by Sheriff Tait. That's why I had absolutely no trouble filling in SMIFF without hesitating.

I was mistaken about the size of the puzzle. It's actually one square smaller than the usual 15x15, so my solving time was a medium-hard.

Bob K 9:16 AM  

Regarding Tuesday, being an older guy, I got Eve Arden and Knucklehead Smiff. Paul Winchell used to have a show with Jerry Colonna [sp?] on Sundays on ABC. BUT, like Rex, I got "wiped" out on wi_e.

Paul 6:02 PM  

Is Rex always such a crabby-pants? And doesn't he know that all clues do not have to be aimed at his age group (either a self-centered teenager - doubtful - or someone upset about reaching 40).
Like Bob Kay, I knew Eve Arden ... from the Radio!
And my tip-off to the related clues came to me from first getting "Alighieri" and knowing that that was Dante; all the others fell into place from that.
But it was indeed a hard puzzle for Tuesday.

Anonymous 7:35 PM  

I was surprised to see nobody complaining about 14D: (His or Her: Fr.) ses. I checked this with a native French speaker who verified that ses is plural ... which would have been OK if His/Her had been linked with an 'and'. Any French speakers out there who can explain why this clue/answer works?

Anonymous 9:15 PM  

WOW! This was a Tuesday? Yowza. Nothing worked like it was supposed to. I thought I was AT the "Gates of Hell" untying the Gordian Knot of this bad boy. Just wanted to scrape my tongue after it was over.

Big Daddy

sificligh 10:45 AM  

I had difficulty with this until the theme answers became clear, then it fell apart quickly. I was lucky that I happened to have some of the answers in my memory banks already. The 14x16 puzzle shape seems almost... naughtily unconventional, but I don't know what it really means.

Linh 2:38 AM  

I'm not old and also very new at crosswords, so this puzzle was challenging. But once the Dante clues became clear, it was much more pleasant and less frustrating!

Re: 14D, which confused me because I didn't know that Fr. = French. Ses is a possessive plural his or hers. it's like "Those are his shoes". The plural relates to the object, not the subject. Thanks for clarifying about the French part cuz I was totally baffled for awhile there.

Seriously, egads??? Zounds?? What??

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