Olympic discus great Al / SUN 4-18-10 / Rube of bygone funnies / Retro upholstery material / GOP elephant originator / Hirsute Himalayan

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Constructor: Randolph Ross

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "WHATS-ITS" — theme answers are phrases ending in "IT"; clues are the things that "IT" might stand for ...


Word of the Day: Lin PIAO (30D: Former Chinese Communist military leader Lin ___) —

Lin Biao (Chinese: 林彪; pinyin: Lín Biāo; Wade-Giles: Lin Piao), born as Lin Yurong (Chinese: 林育蓉; December 5, 1907– ?September 13, 1971) was a Chinese Communist military leader who was instrumental in the communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, especially in Northeastern China, and was the General who led the People's Liberation Army into Beijing in 1949. He abstained from becoming a major player in politics until he rose to prominence during the Cultural Revolution, climbing as high as second-in-charge and Mao Zedong's designated and constitutional successor and comrade-in-arms. // He died in a 'plane crash' in September 1971 in Mongolia after what appeared to be a failed coup to oust Mao. After his death, he was officially condemned as a traitor, and is still recognized as one of the two "major Counter-revolutionary parties" during the Cultural Revolution– the other being Jiang Qing– for which he is assigned a large portion of blame. His military ability, however, is generally commended. Lin was considered by many to be one of the best commanders of the PLA, with only Su Yu and Liu Bocheng next to him. (wikipedia) (those scare quotes around "plane crash" are fantastic ... I'm still laughing)

• • •

This is a curious theme. All the "IT" phrases seem like self-standing phrases, except BITE IT. Is that supposed to be an insult, like BITE ME? Or is it "BITE IT" as in [The dust], which is how I might have clued it ... if I really understood the cluing rationale ... which I don't. Sometimes the "IT" phrase (that is, the answer as it reads, literally, in the grid) seems designed to go with the "IT" represented by the clue, and other times, not so much. For instance, when you "SLEEP ON IT," the "IT" you sleep on is not [A pillow]. It's a big decision of some sort. But when you "BROWN BAG IT," the "IT" you brown bag *is* [Lunch]. With the phrase ROLLING IN IT, "IT" is not [The aisles]. It's money. Yet with COME TO THINK OF IT, "IT" *is* [An idea]. So while you can always swap out the clue for "IT," the "IT" in the clue is not necessarily the one implied by the "IT" phrase in the grid. I swear that last sentence makes sense.

Despite some theme confusion on my part, I still found the puzzle at least mildly entertaining. All the "IT"s threatened to make the solve easy, but the clues and some of the fill drove the difficulty back to about where it's supposed to be — Wed/Thu level. The sheer number of theme answers is admirable, and TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT is especially nice, coming as it does at the very bottom (end) of the puzzle (well, there are two short Acrosses that follow it, but I'm not counting them). It's like in a fireworks show where they unload the greatest number of rockets right at the end. Nice double whammy to finish things off. One other odd thing about the theme answers: the Acrosses are clustered at the very top and very bottom, while the Downs are confined almost exclusively (with two exceptions) to the middle. Never seen theme answers laid out in such a fashion. Unsual. Interesting.

Theme answers:
  • 1A: *Your tongue (BITE IT)
  • 14A: *Uncle (SAY IT)
  • 23A: *An idea (COME TO THINK OF IT)
  • 25A: *The picture (GET IT)
  • 111A: *Crow (EAT IT)
  • 112A: *A message (TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT)
  • 119A: *The light (SEE IT)
  • 122A: *Face (LOSE IT)
  • 8D: *The point (STICK TO IT)
  • 32D: *A deck of cards (DEAL WITH IT)
  • 35D: *The aisles (ROLLING IN IT)
  • 40D: *Sure loser (DON'T BET ON IT)
  • 43D: *A pillow (SLEEP ON IT)
  • 46D: *An abacus (COUNT ON IT)
  • 51D: *Lunch (BROWN BAG IT)
  • 80D: *Snuff (NOT UP TO IT)
Was momentarily undone by some of the names in the grid, specifically PIAO (wouldn't have known the BIAO version either), INI (12D: ___ Kamoze of reggae), and especially OERTER (33D: Olympic discus great Al), a name I'm certain I've seen before, but could not remember. Had OE-TER and guessed at the "R" because I'd never heard of BARKCLOTH (45A: Retro upholstery material). Considered BANKCLOTH and BACKCLOTH, but the resulting names for the discus guy were even more preposterous than OERTER, so "R" won. Also, I felt in my gut that BARKCLOTH must be right, but I think that's just because I know HOUNDSTOOTH is a fabric pattern. HOUND ... BARK. It felt right.



Bullets:
  • 27A: 1986 parody of a Sylvester Stallone film series ("ROCKY VI") — Wow, not sure how I missed this. I wanted RAMBO-something. RAMBONI? You know there is an *actual* "ROCKY VI" now, right? Wait ... is *this* the 1986 parody? God I hope not, because that would take marginal / obscure to a whole new level


  • 28A: First name among the Axis powers (BENITO) — seems like a name I should see in xwords a lot more than I do. Lots of vowels, "O"-ending, alternating consonants and vowels...
  • 56A: Story accompanier (ART) — I don't get it. Like ... illustrations?
  • 59A: Tool for making eyelets (STILETTO) — I know this word only as a modifier for heels. For punching tools, I generally stick with AWLS.
  • 61A: Old-fashioned clothes presser (FLAT IRON) — took me a while. Didn't know if the "presser" would be an implement or a person. I like how WROUGHT is right underneath this answer (65A: Created), creating a step-ladder version of WROUGHT IRON!
  • 79A: Rube of bygone funnies (ABNER) — wanted GOLDBERG.
  • 80A: Common cricket score (NIL) — Hmm. Wife had SIX. I had TIE.
  • 89A: Weapon carried in a speakeasy (GAT) — Here's another GAT for you:


  • 93A: Fighter with a shuffle (ALI) — I didn't know it was called the ALI shuffle. It sure is fun to watch.


  • 94A: Math operations that yield remainders (MODULOS) — rough for me. Good thing I knew OREL was a real place (96D: City SSW of Moscow), or I might have ended up with MODULES / EREL.
  • 106A: Rare announcement after balloting ("IT'S A TIE") — every time I look at this answer, it looks like "IT'S SATIE!"


  • 15D: Present-day site of the ancient port city Eudaemon (ADEN) — That's what you call gussyin' up your crosswordese.
  • 16D: Hirsute Himalayan (YETI) — What if the YETI is actually completely bald and *that* is why no one has found it yet?
  • 42D: ___ Southwest Grill (restaurant chain) (MOE'S) — Ha ha. We have one of these here — it opened about five or so years ago — and I've never seen or heard of the chain before, so I don't think I knew it *was* a chain; certainly not a puzzle-worthy chain. Wow.
  • 55D: Wharf workers' org. (ILA) — I confuse ILA and ILO (both learned from crosswords). They are the International Longshoreman's Association and the International Labour Organization, respectively. The latter won a Nobel Peace Prize. The former ... didn't.
  • 69D: Theater mogul Marcus (LOEW) — theater chain eponym.
  • 74D: 2010 Denzel Washington title role (ELI) — move over Manning, there's a new ELI in town.
  • 85D: G.O.P. elephant originator (NAST) — another name I learned from xwords. Famous political cartoonist. Still remember the clue that taught me the name: [Tweed twitter Thomas]
  • 95D: Scots with lots (LAIRDS) — thought the "lots" were land, but I think here the "lots" just implies "lots of stuff," i.e. wealth.
And now your Tweets of the Week (and Last Week), puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:

  • @matwillmott Just peed at a urinal next to Will Shortz. No joke.
  • @laurendordal If this crossword was a man, I'd date him.
  • @johnreppion Take that word based puzzles! @leahmoore and I (and Lewis Carroll) help a man solve the NY Times crossword http://tinyurl.com/yjjhur6
  • @songinthelight Who puts a crossword in a paper without clues? The Daily Colligean, that's who :(
  • @andycairns1 Fantastic that my Dad whilst filling in a crossword puzzle said "Weasel like mammal? That'll be Kylie Minogue."
  • @nicegirlswallow My day, in a nutshell: wake & bake, Yoga, tea, SciFi re-runs, pacing, brown rice & yucca, crossword, masturbation, Twitter & back to SciFi.
  • @bookgasm I don't even want to know the answer to this New York Times crossword clue: "Eggy quaff."
  • @KristinBeck Dad says "some things are sacred." Sadly, he means his crossword puzzle and I can't touch it.
  • @ruthreichl Amazing morning. Outside. Warm sun. Birds singing. Ducks on pond, clattering. Steakbone, coffee, crossword puzzle. Spring!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

71 comments:

Noam D. Elkies 12:33 AM  

Yes, a fun puzzle even if the theme is not as uniform as I might have expected. Also, 1A:BITEIT but no "beat it"? (A retreat, that is...)

I didn't know either 33D or 45A either, and guessed BASKCLOTH/OESTER which still seems as plausible to me as the actual answer.

Much as I like seeing MODULO in the puzzle ("as a mathematician", etc.) I'm not sure about the plural 94A; that and the odd-job 100A:PARTER next to it suggest that the constructor had a hard time filling this section — maybe he was just 80D:NOTUPTOIT (sorry...). The CMII/INI/ITT area at the top must have been another tough spot, perhaps due in part to the nearby (and nicely clued) 7A:LSD. I see now that we have not just 12D:INI but also 86A:NIN and 84D:ROTINI. What's the COUNT, O NITpicker?

I like Rex's reading of 106A ("Satie it"?). Along the same lines 87A looks like a body part that can't decide whether it's a waist or a thigh.

The obligatory oompah nitpick: 62A:OOM is the tuba sound; the "pah" is provided by higher-pitched instruments, so is not part of the tuba sound.

Re 113D: yes, N.Y.C. has Avenues A, B, C, and D. It also has all the other letter avenues, or at least almost all (it seems some were renamed, e.g. there's a Quentin Road where Avenue Q wants to be). They're in Brooklyn. Manhattan has only A through D, so the clue should probably have asked for "Manh.'s A, B, C, or D".

Off to find a pillow and 43D:SLEEPONIT,
—NDE

andrea it girl michaels 12:50 AM  

just popped by to read the tweets...

@Rex
could "@nicegirlswallow" possibly be a woman???!!!
What kind of tweet name is THAT?!
Oh! Perhaps I've parsed it wrong and it's "nice girls wallow"...?!

"@nicegirlswallow My day, in a nutshell: wake & bake, Yoga, tea, SciFi re-runs, pacing, brown rice & yucca, crossword, masturbation, Twitter & back to SciFi."

Yikes! Anyway, bizarre, bec I spent the day trying to convince a woman who needs me to name her cookbook about baking things for breakfast that "Awake and Bake" would be perfect and that it's NOT a drug reference for the people in her audience!

syndy 1:03 AM  

decided early to let 'it' go and not worry about 'it' too much.just had fun .Was a little bugged by 'aisles' being an 'it'. my capcha says it all"wincewin"

jae 2:54 AM  

Much more pleasant and enjoyable than yesterday's. This was easy-medium for me. Had the same experience as Rex with the MODULOS/OREL crossing. My take on 1a is the phrase "bite your tongue" when you've said something inappropriate/insulting.

@andrea -- I too am "puzzling" about the gender of "nicegirlswallow."

Bob Kerfuffle 7:29 AM  

I continue to guess, and usually guess wrong, at what Rex's take on a puzzle will be. I came expecting a tirade (the puzzle itself seems to beg for the response, "This is just full of "it."), and instead find a warm reception.

I was thinking the Information Technology people would have been hoping for a rebus.

Otherwise, one write-over: Thought 118 A, Name associated with fire, might be STERNO before STELMO.

Wasn't very happy with the cross of 10 A and 12 D, since a reggae person might have any weird combo of letters, so X or V would have done as well as I (but I guessed correctly.)

Elaine 8:36 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle, even if I did feel like I was having to twist my brain several different directions...

[THE aisle] would have made so much better sense; tried DANCING before I was reduced to ROLLING>

BARK CLOTH is pretty well-known and is often 'ethnic'; it has a loose weave, though, and your cats would sharpen their claws on your upholstery.

@Noam
Nah. I was in Band all through school, and the poor tubas and Sousaphones all had boring two-note scores through most pieces, and 'OOM-pah, OOM-pah' says it all.

Puzzle was fun enough--I liked the pairs of answers clued the same (as with the California valleys.) Thanks, Randolph Ross (hey, that would work in 'Blazing Saddles,' eh?)

ArtLvr 8:47 AM  

I agreed with Rex, as I "found the puzzle at least mildly entertaining." And I had thought of Sterno before ST ELMO too, like @Bob K...

Retro BARKCLOTH was a hoot, as I'd been reading about Yuppies of an ancient sort -- a tribe along the Amur River whose traditional clothing was made of fish skins. The Chinese called these Nanai the "Yupi Dazi", or Fish-skin Tatars.

Constructors who want fresh fodder should check out the Wiki article on the Amur!

∑;)

Clark 9:12 AM  

Put me down for BANK CLOTH / OENTER. I liked it; the non-uniformity of the theme. It nicely balanced the obviousness of the ending.

It took me a while to remember how to do a crossword. Several times I found myself dismissing my answer, thinking, "if I thought of it it can't be right," and then gently reminding myself, "No, dear, that's how crosswords are supposed to work. Sometimes one of the words you think of actually is the answer." (I learned yesterday that Tim Croce is in his 20s. Imagining his comments coming from the mouths of my nephews (wassup, guys) makes me want to cut him some slack. Keep em coming Tim.)

blogbytom 9:21 AM  

I think the "art" that accompanies a "story" (56A) references a newspaper story, as in "We need some art for this story or it's not going on the front page."

joho 9:47 AM  

I couldn't decide between BARKCLOTH and BAsKCLOTH and chose the "S," not only because OEsTER seems like a more plausible name, but because sitting on a chair covered in fabric made out of bark would hurt.

Enjoyable Sunday puzzle, thank you Randolph Ross!

Parshutr 9:51 AM  

Al Oerter was a gold medal winner in the discus throw in four consecutive Olympiads - 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968. Not so obscure.
In fact, this was geezer-friendly to a fault. Too easy, too meh, For those of us who remember Benito, Piao, Loew and, yes, Oerter.
And the expression is "Bite your tongue" when you've said something uncouth.

Lisalisa 9:54 AM  

For the aisle clue I badly wanted 'reach across.'. Silly me. Otherwise found it a pretty fun puzzle and was surprised that I didn't mind the variation in the hook cluing.

SethG 9:55 AM  

I entered OERTER with no crosses. I don't think NIL is a common cricket score at all. Individual balls might not result in any runs, but maiden overs are rare and some batters score a century before they're out.

My maybe third fastest Sunday ever, and I was s..l..o..w in the ROLLING IN IT area cause I couldn't remember the union and didn't know lots of the other stuff. Like PIAO.

dk 10:03 AM  

@zeke from yesterday. LOL -- Practiced for about 10 years and then went to the darkside (e.g., business consulting) with an occasional forensic cameo (e.g., developing community methods for addressing adult bullies). Disney was one of my first clients and. lets just say a former CEO shared many of the traits of my former clients.

Someone should email @nicegirl... and invite her over. She should know that watching SciFi will make her go blind... at least i think that is what my mom used to say.

Refreshing Sunday puzzle. Got the theme and IWASONIT.

Off to play outside.

*** (3 Stars)

Señora 10:11 AM  

I was surprised that Rex didn't know the expression "Rolling in the aisles", which is used to describe a very funny piece of theater.

I confused "Eli" (Denzel Washington title role) with "Ali" (Will Smith title role) and was then surprised to see Ali again (shuffle clue). The latter, which I was sure about, should have immediately alerted me to the error in the former.

Jim H 10:31 AM  

@Noam D. Elkies: I don't have the same aversion to MODULOS in the plural. As a software developer, I use them (in the plural) all the time, though I usually spell it '%', as in 12 % 5 is 2. (C and its derivatives, Java, etc.)

And in defense of my profession, I need to complain about 88D (HACK). Hacking is not a crime, it is merely pushing the limits of the possible. Committing a computer crime is called CRACKING, not hacking.
[/soapbox]

jesser 10:40 AM  

After yesterday, I REALLY wanted 57D to be 'sadist.' But it turned out to be CLUER.

I thought the theme was funny, once I got it. Getting it (ha!) was slowed, minimally, by the introduction of Asta at 18D. Until TOTO came yapping up to save me, I was hosed on both the theme and that corner. Fortunately, TOTO runs fast.

I live in the Southwest. I have never heard of Moe's. I would not eat there f I were you. Come to Las Cruces and eat at either Old Town, My Brother's Place or Nellie's. That's the real dope, dudes.

Answers I liked: I WANNA, SCYTHES, GOSSIP, THRIVES, HEMOSTAT, USTED

Answers I most decidedly did not like at all one bit: 1) ICE TEA. Bullshit. It's iceD tea. 2) NOOSE. Bullshit. It is not a 'pain in the neck'. It is the end of your life. 3) MODULOS. Bullshit. Just because I don't like math. 4) ONION, because the thought of onion rings makes my tummy growl and my mouth water. Mmmmmm, ONION RINGS!

Hand up for loving the fact that both of California's well-known and crosswordy four-letter valleys showed up.

Hand up for being grateful that I knew MT OSSA, because otherwise that Chinese military dude would have stared at me with a blank space for a really long time. If I were him, I'd be pissed at the parents.

And finally, today's Las Cruces Sun-News ran a big story about the county employees, and my name and salary was in it, and I'm sure I'm gonna hear all about how OVERPAID I am for the next several days. Maybe I'll kick these trogs in the SACS. Nah.

Polyci! (what I did not major in during college) -- jesser

CoolPapaD 10:43 AM  

Like Bob K, I also expected Rex to take this one to task for the weird theme cluing that he noted, but was happy he didn't. I generally liked it, despite two PerNats - Had BACKCLOTH / OECTER, and MODULES / EREL. Do I really have to Google modulos, or will someone quickly tell me what it is?

OK - Who actually parted the Red Sea - G-D or Moses?

Jim H 10:51 AM  

CoolPapaD, it was Moses. Remember the Far Side cartoon showing Moses as a kid? He was parting the water in a glass on the table in front of him! ;-)

And, as I wrote too briefly above, MODULO is a division where you throw away the quotient and keep the remainder. 12 % 5 is 2, 13 % 6 is 1, 22 % 6 is 4... (Several computer programming languages use % as a modulo operator.)

Salada 11:10 AM  

@jesser

Lipton ICE Tea

St. Elmo 11:11 AM  

@dk
I thought 'nicegirl' might be a guy...but either way, TMI !!! And, obviously, not nearly enough to do with his/her time.

57D-- I thought CRUEL would also fit nicely.

I would have liked NOOSE for yesterday's 'neckwear.'

captcha: noutor
hmmmm

Rex Parker 11:19 AM  

I don't know how to be clearer about this: I know the phrase "Rolling in the aisle(s)" and "Bite your tongue" and All Of Them.

The question is whether the Actual Answers In The Grid, e.g. "ROLLING IN IT," are stand-alone phrases, on the one hand, and whether the "IT" of the phrase actually correlates with the clue, on the other. "ROLLING IN IT," as a stand-alone phrase, does not have "aisle(s)" as a referent for "IT." It has "money" as a referent for "IT." With other theme answers, the clue is, in fact, the correct referent for "IT."

Yes, I realize that explaining this is a lost cause. Like trying to get out of a hole that only gets deeper the harder you try.

rp

hazel 11:19 AM  

Liked it very much - I think because the phrases didn't attempt to be wacky or whimsical, but still struck me as funny. I guess because I can imagine Stephen Colbert (my soulmate) saying so many of them....Sigh...

And I actually liked that the cluing was a little cattywampus.

newspaperguy 11:23 AM  

It took an NYT puzzle to make aisles singular.

Rex Parker 11:27 AM  

If winning four gold medals were enough to make you not obscure, then we'd see LASSE in the puzzle a lot more. Or VIREN.

And yet...

Cruciverb totals: LASSE, 1 ([Director Hallstrom]); VIREN, 0.

dk 11:31 AM  

@jesser, I have not been to Nellies. Next time I visit my sainted mother I will give it a go. I hope they factor in your boosterism of Las Cruces in whatever you earn.

@Rex I have a vision of a T-Rex lumbering towards the La Brea Tar pits thinking to himself, a spa, I think will SITINIT.

Sigh, have to move the wood pile before I can ride my bike -- I hate chores.

chefbea 11:41 AM  

Finally a fun easy puzzle which I finished. Love ranch dressing - but would rather have oil and vinegar.

Don't know how I knew bark cloth - never heard of the discus thrower.

matt 11:44 AM  

Rex's problem with the theme was also bothering me. Is it possible that the across clues are direct references is while the down clues are not?

Norm 11:46 AM  

See, now you just never know what different people will know. OERTER was a gimme for me from all those Olympics. Fun puzzle despite the minor glitches that Rex noted.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

@matt

Nice save try, but I think not. 8D, 51D, and 80D are very direct references.

jesser 11:51 AM  

@ Salada: Just because the Lipton Corporation can't get it right doesn't mean I have to play along.

@dk: The next time you visit your sainted mother, I surely hope you'll let me know you're in town so we can chomp enchiladas and guzzle cervezas together!

In explaining my captcha earlier, I should have pointed out that math and poly-sci are maybe the only two A&S degree programs I didn't at some point think about majoring in. Took seven years to get my bachelor's degree. School was fun.

David L 12:07 PM  

Agree with Rex on the "rolling in it" clue -- just doesn't work. But "bite it" seems OK to me, as clued.

On the other hand, NIL for a common cricket score is just totally wrongo-bongo. An individual batsman may indeed score no runs before getting out, but that's called getting a duck. Nil is a football (ie soccer) word.

Noam D. Elkies 12:12 PM  

@Elaine: I guess we must have been exposed to different repertories of march/polka/waltz arrangements. Paradoxically "oom" can be more interesting than "oompah" / "oompahpah" because splitting the figure between two instruments lets the piece proceed fast enough that one can hear the "oom" bass line as its own melody. (Imagine playing Stars and Stripes Forever so slow that the band's tubas can both oom and pah.) Still I'll take your word for it that this clue for 62D:OOM [not 62A as I wrote] is legit.

@Jim H: I know this % notation too, though I've been told not to minimize / and % because the usual implementations of integer divide and mod are so slow (e.g. never write x/8 or x%8 when x>>3 and x&7 are available). Maybe "modulos" grates because it conflicts with the singular "modulus" for the denominator (the 5 in your 12%5=2 example). The operation "modulo" is usually abbreviated "mod" in both written and spoken math.

Yes, the clue for 81A:NOOSE is too funny for its own good. No noose is good noose.

And "egg white" would be another G-rated clue for "beat it".

NDE

Ulrich 12:37 PM  

Following up on Parshutr--coming back to puzzling after some days of abstinence was greatly helped by the geezer-friendliness of this one--and by a theme that gave you the last 2 letters of every theme answer once you got it--even if Lin Biao threw me for while. My nit to pick is that there are some ITs that are not supposed to be replaced--never mind--back to live-streamed soccer...

lit.doc 12:41 PM  

Well, goodness. This one had lots of letters in it, many of which even formed words that I knew. Or not. And did I mention that there were lots of theme answers, some of which even bore a rational relationship to their clues?

Was especially annoyed by the easily avoided 35D “The aisle[s]”. Too bad I didn’t know ORAL or MODULOS so I wouldn’t have ended up with MODULES/ERAL. Too bad I’d never heard of either OERTER or BARKCLOTH so I wouldn’t have ended up with OECTER (hell, why not?)/BACKCLOTH (at least it’s word-like). All in all, too bad. Maybe even three.

And today’s award for “hey, I can make this puzzle even harder!” excellence goes to my 112A “A message” = PAGE TO RECEIVE IT. Imagine how long that one held me up.

Rube 12:51 PM  

FWIW, the ILA is apparently on the East coast while us West Coasters would think ILWU, (International Longshore Workers Union). Both of them are AFL-CIO affiliates.

Ashamed to 'fess up that I'd forgotten MT OSSA, so had my only Google to get MOES Southwest Grill, which I'd never heard of, and probably don't want to hear of again.

Thanks @Rex for reminding me of Lasse Viren, the great 4 time gold medalist Finnish long distance runner in the 70s. Al Oerter was American and dominated the shot put for 4 Olympics. A gimme for us oldsters, especially if we did Track & Field in those days.

Wanted IRT for 113D. For sure they had the "A" train, so B,C, & D sounded OK too. AVE works too.

Lil ABNER was a gimme for me also. He's from where I got my nickname back in College. At 6' 2" and 180 lbs, I apparently looked like him, and was from some hick town out on the West coast. It's time for an Avatar.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

onion rings remind me of the last sopranos scene...for an interesting read check out master ofthesopranos.com if you still care enough.

had a coupla googles, ie.bark. got "it" quickly, puzzle title was tmi. lack of d in ice, the s in aisles, were bothersome, rex's comments were right on. sundays are way easier for me than thursdays.

OldCarFudd 12:58 PM  

I saw this puzzle exactly as Rex saw it. It was very clever, but I never quite decided whether I enjoyed it or not.

It's gotta be better than yesterday's for which my entries, after two sessions of effort, are precisely zero. Nada. Rien. Nichts. Zilch. Maybe I'll try once more before I come here. Then again, maybe I won't. There are one or two other things I might consider doing with at least part of my weekend.

archaeoprof 1:03 PM  

The crossing of MODULOS/OREL was a Natick for me.

But a crossing of OERTER/LASSE or OERTER/VIREN would have been a piece of cake.

Why not a themed puzzled about 4-time Olympic gold medalists?

syndy 1:11 PM  

Yeah my only google was "mt ossa" and since i allready had "--ossa" I had a real"duh!!" moment there,oh well

Stan 1:17 PM  

Thought the theme was well-executed and fun. Not perfectly parallel, but the variations provided interest and made some answers harder to guess.

Seemed like a lot of 3- and 4-letter answers for a Sunday, not yucky but there just to set up the better, longer material

joho 1:19 PM  

Is a chair covered in BARKCLOTH a bark-o-lounger?

Rube 1:25 PM  

Forgot to mention the scare at the BRAGA/CROWE crossing. Never heard of BRAGA, but contemporary pop megastars meet my seal of approval for current pop stuff.

Really wanted to see if my new avatar shows up.

mac 1:35 PM  

One of the more enjoyable Sunday puzzles I've done. It can't be easy to have to fill with so many words ending in I. My favorite word was "wrought".

I got my onion ring after all. And "ranch" dressing: in my suitcase that may not go anywhere this week is a stack of packages of ranch dressing for my niece and nephew in Holland, who like to dip raw vegetables in it.

@Artlv: I've seen garments made out of salmon skin in a museum in Anchorage.

I've actually seen people falling off their seats and rolling in the aisle laughing at a performance of "The Owl and the Pussycat" at the English Theatre in Hamburg.

Noose was harsh. Reminds me of a very good little film I saw a few days ago on Sundance: Pierrepoint, the last executioner.

Wasn't hacking a pretty positive term when computers were first becoming more widely used? More like programming? I'm reading Collum McCann's book and found the term used in the period of the Vietnam war.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

I believe that the Ali shuffle clue refers to his Parkinsonism.

Rex Parker 1:38 PM  

It most certainly does not.

Masked and Anonymous 1:45 PM  

Have heard "BITE IT" as a slang phrase before, meaning "kick the bucket". So guess I'm a witness for the defense, there.

Nice, quiet, enjoyable puz. Solid theme, for me. Thumbs up!

CrazyCatLady 2:14 PM  

I am happy to actually have finished a Sunday NYT puzzle. Thought it was a lot more fun than the usual LAT syndicated Sunday puzzle. The area that I messed up at was having GOINTOS for MODULOS. Also I had ITS A LIE instead of ITS A TIE for Rare Announcement after balloting. Finally got it all untangled. BARK CLOTH is that pebbly textured, often tropical floral fabric from the 30s or 40s. Sometimes it had a Western theme with cowboys. It has a kind of cottage vibe.

Bob Blake 2:20 PM  

NIL is a common score in cricket? (80 across)

Maybe at the start of the match but cricket scores bear more of a resemblance to basketball than baseball. I think soccer would have clued it more accurately.

PuzzleGirl 2:25 PM  

For me, the good stuff didn't make up for the theme inconsistency. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT is awesome. I wish the rest of the theme answers had followed that one.

Also, I'm pretty sure NIL isn't really a common score in cricket.

Parshutr 2:29 PM  

Viren won two gold medals in two different events (5k and 10k) in two consecutive Olympiads, whereas Oerter won in one event -- the discus -- in four consecutive Olympiads. His achievement was somewhat tarnished by a reputed 'blood-doping' procedure.
As to winning multiple golds in one Olympiad, Spitz (7) in 1972 and Phelps (8) in 2008 head the list.

Oscar Madison 2:39 PM  

This puzzle

DISLIKED IT

... for the reason Rex said. The explanation made perfect sense to me. The inconsistency in the theme clues lamed them out.

Van55 2:57 PM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. It had the IT factor.

The somewhat inconsistent cluing of the theme answers made it a better challenge for me.

Bravo!

JenCT 3:36 PM  

Took me a LONG time to get the theme; once, I did, the puzzle pretty much flew by.

Hand up for TIE for cricket score; had WALKINGINTHEAISLES instead of ROLLONG for the longest time, and OWE instead of ARE for 34a.

Mostly liked it. Agree that the Twitter girl/guy is TMI! How about getting a job?????

retired_chemist 3:41 PM  

Welcome back, Ulrich!

Al Oerter is IMO more noteworthy than other 4 time Olympic medalists since he generally outperformed expectations. Kinda had a Rocky (VI?) image in his day.

Enjoyed it - have little to add. One error: had DOE'S @ 42D. Never heard of Moe's. Though I considered it, it sounded anything but Southwestern, kinda incongruous like Nakamura's Kosher Deli would be.

My choice, I thought after I found out it was wrong, was based on a defunct Dallas restaurant, "Baby Doe's Matchless Mine," which Google tells us is still alive and kicking in Denver. There is also a Doe's Eat Place (nay, two) in Little Rock AR (Elaine?). Experience at one of them was enough for us. Sorta like y'all not exactly raving about Moe's.

So I didn't check out MTOSSA (42D) and parse it carefully. Might not even have figured out it was MT. OSSA because the clue gave no indication of an abbreviation. I jut figured there was some oddity in Greek I didn't know and DTOSSA ands MTOSSA seemed equally possible. Oh well.

Much more enjoyable than yesterday. In fact, quite a nice puzzle IMO. Thanks you, Mt. Ross.

Clark 3:49 PM  

@Rube -- In case someday your life depends on this info: A, B, C, D would have been IND lines (the INDependent subway); 1, 2, 3 would have been IRT lines (Interborough Rapid Transit).

Al Oerter 4:14 PM  

Who's that Saget guy?

Elaine 4:22 PM  

@Ret-chem
There is a Doe's Eat Place in LRock, yes--supposedly a fave of Bill Clinton, in his fried-Twinkie period. I've never eaten there, nor at the one here in Conway, especially since it closed. I suspect the food would be a variety of breaded, fried, and fatty, served with 'sweet tea.' As with 'chicken-fried steak,' ubiquitous in Dallas, there are some things I have never been willing to try. Escargot, white asparagus, fiddleheads, a variety of nectar-bearing ants...just not chicken-fried steak.

@Rex
You know, there was a usage of 'ROLLING IN IT' that you may have over-looked....and you a dog owner! Thinking road-kill and other nameless things attractive to canines....

March 7, 2009 4:28 PM  

"The new $50-million Al Oerter Recreation Center was funded through an agreement with the City's Department of Environmental Protection. Hidden beneath the center and adjoining soccer field is DEP's Flushing Bay Combined Sewer Overflow Retention facility. Prior to completion of this facility in 2007, sewage and storm water were discharged directly into Flushing Bay during heavy rain storms. Today, more than 40 million gallons of this wastewater can be retained during a storm, and then pumped to the Tallman Island Wastewater Treatment Plant for full treatment."

Another reason to know him.

chefbea 4:37 PM  

@Elaine...Fiddlehead ferns yummmmm

retired_chemist 4:54 PM  

@ Elaine - you have indeed described Doe's Eat Place to a tee. It was recommended to us as a must-try experience in LR. Fatty barbecue, fries dripping in grease. I thought that they ought to have a card they punch each time you eat there - ten meals and you get a free stent.

feroate - almost an iron compound. So close!~

michael 8:00 PM  

I think that Oerter has to be as least as well-known as some of the (easy for me) baseball and (hard for me) tv (clues).

Amazed to see modulo (which I knew) in a puzzle since I didn't learn this word until an advanced mathematics course in college. Seems too obscure, especially for a Sunday.

And how common is a nil score in cricket?Maybe before a team comes to bat (I know this is the wrong term, but my knowledge of cricket is about nil-- is it "bats" or something?).

I give this a thumbs up, though being to write in all those "it"s at the end was perhaps a bit too helpful.

chefwen 8:19 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - Read the comic strip "The Barn" today, you'll love it.
Go Comics.

Thought the puzzle was great, took me a while to get through it. I know when my husband is going to say something to someone before any thought process is involved, so I look at him very lovingly and say under my breath "bite it". He catches on immediately and further embarrassment is avoided.

Elaine 8:40 PM  

@Ret-chem; chefbea; any others in the know....
I have been harvesting my asparagus for three weeks now. Today's take: 26 stalks. So, so wonderful! Do you know, until I moved to Germany, the only asparagus I had (not) eaten were (shudder) canned Green Giant asparagus that my mother served us for dinner. (And that was not the worst thing, alas.)

What is that RLS line that precedes, "I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings!" That's how I feel about *good* food. Ah, memories of herrings with onions from a street cart in lovely Amsterdam....

mac 9:12 PM  

@Elaine: do you have to rub it in.... My Monday night flight has also been cancelled. Tuesday will be the last opportunity. BA is not taking any reservations at this time.

[sigh] 9:19 PM  

@Elaine:

Click here for First line of "I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings!"

Bob Kerfuffle 9:31 PM  

@chefwen - Thanks. :)

PhilMcH 9:34 PM  

Just to add to SethG, Bob Blake, and JenCT's comments on NIL ("common cricket score"). This is just wrong. It's not that common a score, and it's never called "nil" in cricket (that's soccer-speak). If a batsman is "out" without scoring any runs, he is "out for a duck", and his score is "nought". Same for bowlers. If they don't take any wickets, but concede some runs, they are scored as e.g. 0-25nought for 25. And if a cricket match ends all square, it's a "draw" not a "tie".

Sorry to ramble on, but I'm a Brit, and this clue just wasn't cricket.

CrazyCatLady 10:25 PM  

The recent discussion of "happy as kings" inspired me to go into my library and retrieve my mom's copy of RLS "A Child's Garden of Verses" published in 1929. It's 81 years old! Her mom read it her, she read it to me and my brother and I read it to my kids. It's lacking a bit of it's spine, but otherwise completely intact with wonderful illustrations/art. What a treasure.

tobers 4:14 PM  

1A: "Bite your tongue" is a Jewish expression after one says something inappropriate. The response is "bite your tongue".

Rex Parker 4:24 PM  

Yes. I know what that expression means. Everyone knows what that expression means. Question was only about the phrases As They Appear In The Grid — whether *those* are self-standing. ROLLING IN IT, yes. BITE IT ... less so.

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