Swing bandleader Garber / THU 5-20-10 / Escape route city Casablanca / Dancer in Jabba Hutt's court / Baseball All-Star 1954-73

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Constructor: Jim Hilger

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Ampersandwiches™ — 4 15-letter phrases with letter+AND+letter expressions on either end, with preposition+THE in the middle

Word of the Day: EMIL von Reznicek (26D: Viennese-born composer ___ von Reznicek) —

Emil Nikolaus [Freiherr] von Reznicek (4 May 1860 in Vienna, died 2 August 1945 in Berlin) was an Austrian late Romantic composer of Czech ancestry. [...] Today, Reznicek is remembered mainly for the overture to his opera Donna Diana, composed in 1894. The overture is a popular stand-alone piece at symphony concerts and also served as the theme for the American radio (1947-1955) series Challenge of the Yukon, which later migrated to the TV series (1955-1958) Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. It was also used in the 1950s on the BBC's Children's Hour by Stephen King-Hall for his talks on current affairs. (wikipedia)

• • •
This is an interesting twist on a familiar phenomenon—the Ampersandwich™. One of my commenters coined the term a while back as a way of describing those crossword answers that fit the form letter+AND+letter, e.g. RANDB, BANDB, RANDR, etc. The arrangement of the Ampersandwiches here is completely arbitrary, and the prepositions in the middle are random, as far as I can tell. Further, the achievement of the interlocking pattern of theme answers is not terribly impressive when you realize they all intersect in the middle of AND. Still, a cute idea. Grid structure, however, leaves you with only short fill in the rest of the grid — nothing longer than six letters (?!). So no interest there, and perhaps too much groany crosswordese (ONEL, ETON, ENDO, EGRETS, EARED, ATRI (gag), etc.), with the double-dose of movie characters (in rotationally symmetrical positions!) being perhaps the most grating part of this parade. OOLA is familiar crosswordese (forgot the consonant, but picked it up eventually), as is ELSA, only here, ELSA has a nutjob clue (57A: Dr. Schneider of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"). That character is too minor to be crossworthy. Way too minor. OOLA probably is too, but there are no other OOLAs (except the beginning of "OO LA LA"), so I can forgive that one (21A: Dancer in Jabba the Hutt's court, in "Return of the Jedi").

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Grocery leisure? (R AND R IN THE A AND P)
  • 3D: Interview near an inn? (Q AND A BY THE B AND B)
  • 63A: Railroad's work to produce new products? (R AND D ON THE B AND O)
  • 11D: Soul music over a financial institution's sound system? (R AND B AT THE S AND L)
My greatest struggles came in the tiny north and south sections. Noooo idea who [Swing bandleader Garber] was (JAN), and UNTO could have been INTO as far as I was concerned (7D: Billy Graham's "___ the Hills"), so ... trouble. Plus, I went with SOHO over NOHO (8D: It's west of New York's East Village). Thought maybe the [Chinese vessel] was a SCOW at one point, though that didn't sound terribly Chinese. Maybe a WOK. WOKS? Bah. Once I got KNELT (9D: Showed reverence, in a way), which gave me the "L" in OOLA, I then changed SOHO to NOHO and things fell into place. [Like many limericks: Abbr.] is a weird, weird clue for ANON. If I had to list stereotypical features of limericks, the fact that most are anonymous would not be on the list. In the south (by far the hardest for me), ELSA killed me. I had ABOVE for 53D: Overhead (ALOFT). Actually considered HAIL instead of the much more plausible SNOW for 58D: Winter fall. The only way I untangled it all was, finally, getting HEX off the "H" (65D: Bad spelling?). Then TWIX, then SNOW, ALOFT, ELSA. Done.

  • 33A: Baseball All-Star, 1954-73 (MAYS) — should've given similar clue to AARON (19D: Sorkin who created "The West Wing")
  • 35A: Word often cried after "Go" ("TEAM!") — I went with "FISH!"
  • 46A: Elisabeth of "Hamlet 2" (SHUE) — I'd have gone with "The Karate Kid"; I don't even know what "Hamlet 2" is.

[hmmm, this trailer is eerily familiar ... have I claimed never to have heard of this movie before?]

  • 51A: Bone below the femur (FIBULA) — I invented a bone called the TIBULA and then wondered how the hell TIRED could be right for 51D: Let go...
  • 2D: Escape route city in "Casblanca" (ORAN) — "OMAN, ADEN, IRAN ... something like that. Come ON!" P.S. ORAN crossing ORANG???? (14A: Arboreal critter)
  • 31D: Young salmon (SMOLT) — had STOAT (weasel) and SHOAT (piglet) in there before SMOLT ever saw the light of day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. forgot to mention that longtime reader/commenter Dave Eckert (aka "imsdave") has his debut puzzle appearing in the LAT today! So congratulations to him. Also, the actress who played ELSA Schneider is named "Doody." That is all.


abide 12:12 AM  

I was wondering what the devil RANDRINTHEAISLE meant and was not happy. Turned out to be a pretty cool idea.

des 12:37 AM  

This was definitely "challenging" for me. I kept looking for a rebus solution, with the strange letter combinations (DB appears twice - in the NE and SW). After I got 63A with the help of BANDO, everything fell into place.

What is minor to you is major to some of us. Elsa Schneider is the major villain of the piece. In fact, on IMDB she is the fourth character listed. Oola, on the other hand, is about as minor as one can get. Please!

syndy 12:48 AM  

although i agree about smolts,mostly i liked this puzzle a lot, just the right amount of work. I needed the "ands." My last letter was v in "ova-ivies" and wow it was right! toque over orang you gotta love..Of course the bar this week is in serious limbo territory.(how low can we go)

syndy 1:03 AM  

44 is something wrong?

chefwen 2:18 AM  

So cute when all was done, so tough to get it done. This one rendered me toast. Had to come here to have Rex smack me up the side of my head.

Oh well, better luck next time!

Retired_Chemist 2:25 AM  

Cute. Medium. Only thematic issue with the prepositions is that they were all different ways of referring to a location (IN, ON, AT, BY).

With 6A DHOW, 15A OBSC(ene), and 16a LIRA, plus slapping down a U below the Q in TOQUE (I expect I am not the only one who did that), the N was a rough work in progress for too long.

Also had "A Yank at NOON" [] (42A) briefly.

I only remember the Bucky Beaver Ipana commercial in B AND W. Was it ever shown in color? Wikipedia has Ipana discontinued in the US in the early 1970's.

Thanks, Mr. Hilger.

jae 2:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 2:36 AM  

I liked this one, although, for some reason I can never remember ATRI (now that I've typed it I hope that will change). Thought the theme was pretty clever with some interesting fill (e.g. the two China neighbors).
I will admit to also having INTHEAISLES until I got the theme. Nice puzzle and about right for a Thurs.

andrea noho michaels 2:52 AM  

This was fun fun fun! I think there have been all sorts of fresh themes this week!
Plus Q, J and K all atop! That would be a good start to a poker hand AND a crossword puzzle!

TWIX at the bottom gave us the X and I'm still looking for a Z. Maybe it could have been EZIL/ZAYS...only slightly less plausible than my ERIL/RAYS...I sensed something wrong but chose to ignore it. Where would I be without my one-letter per puzzle mistake!?

I think when we are all cloned in the future, we will all have TIBULA...It's an idea waiting to happen.

I think 8D could have been clued "I ain't ____"

Anyone else start out with SLIP for "Winter fall"?

I'll bet there WERE a lot more baseball clues before this was edited for the rest of us...

"and when I DIE, there'll be one child born to carry on carry on"

Ruth 7:00 AM  

I was so SURE the physics unit was a FARAD. . .so. . .SURE. . .

foodie 7:02 AM  

This one chewed me up and spit me out. Took a looong time to figure out the theme because I too tumbled to the first ampersandwich but took a while to realize there was a second. I also had trouble even after I knew the structure. For example, R AND B at the S AND "P" seemed close enough for government work.

But I admire the idea, and I love that it starts with TOQUE, crossing TORI Amos! Talk about making a great first impression. Great clues, also, for OVA and for DAIS.

You get a little Tibula when your Tibia and your Fibula work a little too well together.

ArtLvr 7:17 AM  

This one was right up my alley, except for trying a Beret at 1A before TOQUE became obvious -- and changing my Smelt to SMOLT, since the ROADIE wasn't going to be a DOADIE at the end. Loved the Queen's GAMBIT!

@ retired_chemist, LOL at your "obsc" for obscene!

I'm happy to report that the HEXed van passed its inspection yesterday, with IMPAIRed dash light finally conquered.


NCA President 8:05 AM  

kinda typical gimmicky thursday...i liked it except:

i too had trouble with the N section. i had to google garber (even after i changed soho to noho, figuring -nk was a better ending than -sk for chinese vessels). but even with j-nk i couldn't decide if graham's book was "unto" or "into." bottom line, you had to know junk (is that short for "junket?") or you were screwed, which i was.

and secondly, i took exception to 35A. the only time someone says "go team" is in some generic clip art where a fan is rooting on their favorite, um, team. i NEVER say "go team." when i'm rooting for my team, i at least show them some respect by calling them by their name. "word often cried after 'go,'" for me anyway, is huskers...which didn't fit.

anyway, apart from wanting 40A to end in -ing (dropping the ball, eg), this one took me the usual time for a thursday. but i do hate ending a puzzle with a toss up like those last few spots in the N.

JayWalker 8:13 AM  

I Loved this puzzle! Took me forEVER to see the light. But when I did I whooped with delight. Scared the hell outta the dog! The break for me came when I finally saw that "bando" was actually "B and O." Then it all fell into place. Rex: your "Elsa" snit feels like sour grapes. She's hardly a minor character. Otherwise I fell into the same traps as so many others seemed to have. Wanted "beret" instead of "togue"; "leer" instead of "grin"; "above" instead of "aloft"; etc. Great fun tho!

& 8:14 AM  

The typewriter ampersand symbol (&) was invented by Marcus Tullius Tiro around 60 BCE as a part of a system of shorthand that allowed him to write down the orations of Cicero. The symbol was a combination of the letters ‘e’ and ‘t’ from the Latin word ‘et’ meaning ‘and.’

jesser 8:15 AM  

I liked it, but it did me in up in Michigan, where I don't know from Chinese watercraft or NYC neighborhoods, so I ended up thinking that dUsK had a new meaning for me to remember. I also erred at Key West, where I was convinced that the financial institution in question was the S AND p (as in Standard & Poor), and when I finished, I thought to myself, 'The clue/answer for 71A eludes me, much like the appeal of modern dance.' The sun sets low on my ego right about now.

In the southlands I struggled at 53D, where I initially plopped down AbOve, and at 60A, where I wanted IMPugn. You can see how helpful those two ERRORs were. INDEED.

I once flew on a Southwest Airlines jet painted like SHAMU. It went over water. I was nervous. I felt like Jonah, but thankfully the flight was three hours, not three days.

A big wink this morning to the Rexite who e-mailed (e-noted?) me last evening. You know who you are! ;-)

You beat me, Mr. Hilger! I shall somehow someday have my revenge! It will involve a TOQUE-wearing ORANG's FIBULA! Or something like that...

Chetswi! (Chet bought that video game fitness thing. Yeah, right, Chet. Whatev.) -- jesser

Van55 8:32 AM  

I finished it fine, and I liked it. I acknowledge Rex's issues with the fill, but they didn't bother me, given the cute, well executed theme.

Minnesota was a bit of a struggle, but it eventually fell like JUNK in the trunk.

I too started with ABOVE where ALOFT ended up, but couldn't think of a chocolate bar that starts with E.

edith b 8:46 AM  

Like foodie, it took me a while to tumble to the Double Ampersandwich structure as I stuggled with "one end or the other" before I saw "both ends."

Like Rex I struggled with a particular cross but not his: mine was SMOLT/MELO. It was my last entry. I don't recall fighting this much on a non-rebus Thursday.

joho 8:55 AM  

I thought this was a lot of fun!

I got the theme at QANDABYTRHEBANDB and took off from there.

Thank you Jim Hilger for providing entertaining R&R at the NYT CWP!

Since @Rex brought it up, I also want to congratulate Dave Eckert AKA imsdave on his LA Times debut ... great job!


ArtLvr 9:24 AM  

Another fan here who seconds the motion with kudos for Dave on his LAT debut!


kojacker? one who delivers a KO?

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

alley oop's wife oola

PuzzleNut 9:31 AM  

Liked the puzzle, but after getting the pattern fairly early on, a lot of the squares were filled quickly. However, the rest took a lot longer than I care to admit.
Wanted BERET, but Tori quickly talked me out of that. Thought about DHOW, but NOHO changed it to JUNK (I think DHOW is middle eastern?). The JAN / ANON cross was my last fill.
Speaking of TIBULA, I've also find myself using my FIBIA bone at times. Not very helpful.
ABOVE for ALOFT, but HEX gave me TWIX. Thought that the neighbors of China would be something other than two countries (SPOON, LINEN, etc).
Overall, thought it was a fair puzzle. No real beefs.

Frances 9:35 AM  

Sometimes a loaf of bread is just bread. I confidently entered LIRA at 16A, which effectively paralyzed the NE. Jim Hilger has given us, this day, our daily PANE.

LGW 9:39 AM  

Hmm... unsatisfying. At first, because two of the "ampersandwiches" (a genius coinage that's already making me happier!) were totally unfamiliar to me: "A&P" (where are these supermarkets?) and "S&L". What/where is "the" S&L anyway? Google yields an "S&L crisis", but nothing like a building or location, much less one that might have a sound system. And was I the only one overvaluing the "sound system" part of the clue (as in "R&B ON the... [insert audio system reference here; there's Bang & Olufsen, but B&O was taken...)?

Secondly, the middle section of the top row, the only part of the puzzle that didn't become obvious due to crosses. I knew "Knelt" but wasn't aware that "Jan" was a man, much less a band leader, or that there was a "Noho" as well as a Soho, though I guess it's logical. "Unto the Hills" didn't even occur to me once I automatically wrote in "Into". Is "Unto the Hills" a famous book? It sounds like the title of a book of third-rate Romantic poetry. A much more famous book by a MUCH more interesting religious thinker, which I nominate for replacement clue, is Soren Kierkegaard's "The Sickness [Unto] Death"!!

Long story short, and possibly due to the fact that I ran out of coffee yesterday and am thus a little sleepy, I had "Dan" the Bandleader crossing with "Disk", that famous type of Chinese vessel. C'mon, if IMARI is pottery, maybe the Chinese have a long and illustrious DISK-making tradition.

Overall, call me bitter, but I say that section would have been vastly improved by changing "Jan" to "Dan", "Noho" to "Soho", and using my Kierkegaard clue to fill out 6A: "Dusk".

chefbea 10:00 AM  

Tough puzzle!! Had to google a lot. Got the theme at the A&P.

What is R&D???

Now on Dave's puzzle

dk 10:01 AM  

Greetings from the Bywater.

Tib/Fib is a common slope side fracture, that coupled with NOHO, IPANA and OOLA got me off to a good start. The theme fill -- not so great. I said to my self R&B at the sandal -- huh. The humidity must be killing my ability to IDEATE.

*** (3 Stars)

Happy to see Andrea is Ms. Cheerful this week.

Flying back to Mpls tonight. General view of the oil spill is the risk was downplayed, rigorous "stress" tests were skipped, simple maintenance not done and there was no disaster plan. Sadly this is what we have come to expect when we hear the term - Business as Usual.

Van55 10:16 AM  

R&D = research and development.

mitchs 10:20 AM  

This took me longer than the normal Thursday because the footholds were scarce at the outset. I liked the "aha's" once I got rolling.

@Chefbea Research and Development.

Off topic: check out the Fireball this week for a great, freshly clued, Saturday NYT in difficulty puzzle.

Gordon's puzzles are a steal at the $10 (I think) annual fee.

Tinbeni 10:34 AM  

So I'm sitting on the porch with a mug of java and these EGRETS amble by looking for their breakfast lizards.

OOLA I remember from a prior xword but ELSA I only associate with the Lion in Bornfree. Got via the perps.

NEPAL should be over INDIA, but next to each other was OK.

And my Bad spelling, HEX, got the GRIN.

Didn't get the ampersandwich until R&DONTHEB&O. Next thing I know, I was done.

@Chefbea, LAT is calling you.

@imsdave, Good Job! The LAT is my batting practice before the game here.

chefbea 10:57 AM  

Thanks for the R&D explanations.

Of course I loved Dave's puzzle in the LATimes

Bob Kerfuffle 11:11 AM  

Good puzzle.

I failed where apparently many had a problem, in Minnesota, finishing with DUSK where the JUNK should have been. Combination of ignorance (JAN Garber?) (NOHO/Soho?) and a senior moment: I really should have remembered JUNK from childhood, since when I went to school textbooks still portrayed Chinese as wearing wide hats, working in rice paddies, and riding in rickshaws and sailing in junks. But this morning all I could think of was "sampan"!

syndy 11:12 AM  

@&amp-would that be marcus tullius cicero's freedman tiro? ( a very lucky devil because cicero mostly frowned on emancipating slaves)

archaeoprof 11:29 AM  

Agree with Rex's rating. Pretty tough Thursday.

Needed all the crosses for TWIX. But knew IPANA, FERMI, ORAN, IDIE, MAYS, and FIBULA. I am a nerd. An aging nerd.

Congrats, imsdave!

andrea & michaels 11:49 AM  

Yay @imsdave!!!!!!!!
How did I miss that in the write up?

and @&amp
thank you for that very cool lesson about ampersand! That's the kind of thing (besides @rex one-liners that are so specific to the puzzle I could never repeat) that I live for on this blog!

PuzzleNut 11:51 AM  

The ampersandwich reminds me of one of my favorite NYT puzzles from many (20+) years ago. The main theme answers all included a symbol in the answer, which needed to be spelled out to make sense. The clue/answer I'll never forget was "Annie's dog at the beach" D&Y (DAMPER SANDY). I forget the cross now, but it was just as good (maybe ST&ATERS _ "Post office tools"). Other symbols included : # * , and others that I forget.

SethG 11:59 AM  

About to take J to the airport for her flight to Kathmandu. There are two NEPAL guidebooks on my desk right now.

I thought EMIL/BASE/LEHAR/MAYS was just as tricky as JAN/UNTO/JUNK, but that my be because it took me a while to come up with MAYS. ELSA I knew, from a puzzle last year.

For UNTO the Hills, all I could picture was Billy Graham singing Run To The Hills. How awesome would that be?

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

PuzzleNut, what are you talking about?

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Okay, sorry, I get it: Stampers and daters. Yeah, that's pretty good.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Had such a huge crush on Elsa, it was basically a freebie.

Bill D 12:25 PM  

I haven't joined you folks in a loooong time, but I had to jump in to see the analysis of today's ampersandwich smorgasbord! (It was I who coined the term my first week on this blog and it has been all downhill since then, I'm afraid...)

My solve paralleled Rex's down to the "TIBULA", although my JUNK swapped those NY neighborhoods early on. I made the mistake of immediately filling a "U" in under TOQUE's "Q", and tried to make something from "Quality Inn" for that answer. Once I saw that "...THEAANDP" was a valid ampersandwich I gleefully filled in the rest.

Nice to see so many old friends still posting! Andrea, your name on a puzzle still always brings a smile! "And When I Die" was written by the NY singer-songwriter Laura Nyro, I believe - a very strange lyric to have been penned by a teenage girl in those days, especially. I favor the Al Kooper BS&T over the DCT version. "Child is Father to the Man", featuring the remnants of The Blues Project, is still one of my top ten albums of all time.


dls 12:26 PM  

@LGW: +1 for the Chinese DISK. Also, as soon as I got the theme I threw in SANDP where SANDL should've been, and never fixed it... )-:

I think this is as long as a Thursday has ever taken me.

Clark 12:37 PM  

IPANA I know from the movie Blast from the Past. That Brendan Frasier has IPANA toothpast suggests he is telling the truth about . . . the whole deal.

ORAN and ORANG I’m gonna know for next time. Lucky guess this time.

@jesser -- sorry that the JUNK up in the part of Michigan from which I hail did you in.

@LGW -- in the old days you might head down to the post office, stop off at the diner, and drop by the S&L on your way home. In the context of the town or neighborhood, there was THE S&L.

miriam b 12:47 PM  

@anon 9:28: Alley Oop's girlfriend (not wife) was OOOLA. Great cartoon strip,BTW.

I had BERET and even CALOT before TOQUE. I loved the theme and appreciated the fact that a diffeent preposition was used for each answer.

ORAN jumped out at me instantly, because during WWII some of my relatives skipped out of France via Morocco and lived in the States until after the war. I've always pictured them waiting anxiously in Rick's Café.

nesemin = a small Loch Ness monster

retired_chemist 12:53 PM  

I thought one of the baseball nuts (you know who you are) would ere now have commented on the shout-out in 63A to the third baseman of the A's in the early seventies,Sal Bando. Especially since, apparently, he did a voice cameo in the episode of The Simpsons titled "Regarding Margie." Who knew? Simpson fanciers missed that one....

Shamik 12:55 PM  

@imsdave: Congratulations! I'm GRATEFUL for your puzzle because I tanked on the the NYT puzzle. It even had the red vegetable!

I applaud all of you whose Chinese sailors go asea in a DUSK. Mine go in a DISK. You see, it's a medium-sized round boat.....ok...ok. Aside from that, the rest finished in medium time for me at 10:27. Tsk tsk on me for DISK.

Rube 1:00 PM  

My problem with 6A was that JUNK was so obvious that it seemed too easy for Thursday. Had crEATES for IDEATES and FreED for FIRED and mes for DIA. Numerous did not knows left me with a DNF. Had to Google before I got the theme. I've been away too long.

Loved BASE 10 and Queen's GAMBIT. Wonder how young'uns would ever know of Bucky and IPANA, a gimme for us oldies. ROES goes into my crosswordese dictionary.

FWIW, Ooola was Alley Oops' girlfriend, with 3 "O"s.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Thought I would chime in on the whole 'different preposition in each theme &wich'.

IMHO, if they had been the same, that would have led to filling in something like _AND_INTHE_AND_ in four locations, once the first one was revealed, so that would have made the puzzle way too easy for a Thursday.

@NCA President

Think of a cheerleader crying 'Go Team, Yay Team'.


archaeoprof 1:28 PM  

@Rex et al: non-puzzle biology professor wife says that TIBULA shows up all the time on student exams.

retired_chemist 1:46 PM  

@ NCA President and anon 1:22 -

I suppose "go team" is useful if you have had so much beer that you can't remember which team you are rooting for. Not that I have ever done that....

CaseAceFos 1:47 PM  

The last thing any self respecting cave dwelling knuckle dragger would utter upon glancing Alley Oop's girlfriend's way---is "Ooola la!"

andrea smolt! michaels 2:02 PM  

@Anon 1:22 RT, @miriamb
That's EXACTLY what I did after I got the first one...I went thru and filled in _AND_ATTHE_AND_
So I thought it was great that I was wrong and had to change the others to IN, BY and ON.

I actually found @imsdave's puzzle harder, even tho I had helped him a little with the theme way back when!
Don't usually do the LA Times puzzle and so the editing style of the clues is MUCH harder for me.
Didn't realize till today just how lazy I've become that way...
so, I highly recommend his puzzle for cobweb-clearing alone!

All the kudos to him, I seconds that emotion!

hazel 2:49 PM  

really liked this puzzle.

It reminds me of a john prine song, whose name I wish I could remember - there's an excellent line (I think anyway) which includes a phrase - something something at the ampersandwich (awesome word, former Commenter Bill &!&).

the puzzle also brings back very fond memories of the old B&L Warehouse in Athens, GA - home of the infamous Long Island Ice(d) Tea served out of huge gray garbage cans, followed by missed classes and/or trips to the infirmary the next day. happy times, those.

Kukstis 3:28 PM  

In defense of OOLA and ELSA... the parallel is not just thy they are movie characters, but they are both characters from the third installment of George Lucas movies! Color me impressed.

sanfranman59 3:45 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)

Thu 19:42, 19:23, 1.02, 60%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:29, 9:17, 1.13, 81%, Challenging

Elaine 3:53 PM  

How to remember JAN Garber:

I see there has been some grumbling about [Swing bandleader Garber] as a clue. My parents (married in 1941) were big fans, and when JAN Garber performed in 1961 at the Officer's Club at Ft. McPherson, the folks parked the three of us kids with the grandparents and went out for an evening of Swing. Supposedly we youngsters were to go home to bed at nine, per Mother's orders.... but instead we girls were locked in a fierce Canasta tournament with Granny and Grandpa (both chain-smokers,) while our younger brother fried his brain in front of the television (with its snazzy round screen.) Both grandparents were card fiends and sometimes stayed up all night playing, so they were delighted to have fresh blood. At midnight, the phone rang in the smoke-filled room. Our parents had gotten home from their romantic evening with JAN Garber only to find empty beds and missing children! (Squawking sounds, per distressed mother hen.) Who can you trust?

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

Psalm 121 (King James Version)

1 I will lift up mine eyes UNTO the hills, from whence cometh my help.

Steve J 4:12 PM  

I made a complete and utter mess of this. I suspect it's because my mind really isn't there. My grandfather died last night, and apparently a challenging crossword is not the sort of diversion that's going to work for me today.

I've lost count of the missteps I had. Go FISH, ERIK for EMIL (I assumed Austrians would have Germanic names), SHADS instead of SMOLT (which makes me think of the pitcher John Smoltz), LEIA instead of OOLA (clearly my mind was going for loose connections, as LEIA was around Jabba the Hutt, and SHAD is a fish, just not a salmon), ECTO for ENDO, etc. Couldn't get much of anything going anywhere.

I didn't help myself by not reading the ANDs as, well, AND. Couldn't figure out WTF RAND BAT THE ----- could possibly mean, etc.

Guess I need to go for mindless diversions today.

@LGW: A&P are supermarkets in the mid-Atlantic states. I think they used to be big in the South as well, but they've been shrinking for years. I probably first ran across them in John Updike's short story of the same name.

retired_chemist 4:30 PM  

@ Steve J - I am very sorry for your loss.

David in CA 5:26 PM  

Am I going senile, or is OOLA only "familiar crosswardese" to people who do lots of different puzzles? I've been doing the NYT close to 20 years I think, and can't remember seeing her.

OOLA 5:41 PM  

@David in CA --

Actually, 8 times since 1999, according to Jim Horne's database.

Clark 5:58 PM  

A&P = The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company -- an excellent name for a company, I have always thought.

@Steve J -- Sorry about your grandfather. My grandpa died many years ago, but I carry around a few conversations I had with him (one in particular that we had while walking through the woods in Northern Minnesota) like they were yesterday.

Sparky 6:28 PM  

@ Steve J. Very sorry for your loss. Thank you for coming to the blog. Today started out so smug with beret and junk. Set aside with confidence and left for more root canal. Returned, brain and jaw numb. I got the bed and breakfast first and figured initial and initial at the ends but took forever to realize that went for the beginnings too. So sad to erase my brimless chapeau but then got Tori and toque fell in. A ha moment with Q and A. Munched away on and off all afternoon. Oh yeah, had Leia earlier too. In review it was some fun.

chefwen 6:52 PM  

@Steve J - My deepest sympathy for the loss of you Grandfather.

Anonymous 6:53 PM  

Anyone answer @LGW? S & L is Savings and Loan for the financial institution.

Stan 7:07 PM  

@Steve J -- Condolences. Of course you can't focus on the little things. It shows that you are focussed on the important big things.

A&P was big in New England too. Stop and Shop merges with A&P -- the result: Stop and Pee. That may have been the first joke I ever heard at school. Age 8 or so.

Anonymous 8:17 PM  

True story. Re 6A. Many years ago, as he completed an assignment in the Far East, Dan Rather faxed the suits at CBS for permission to expense charges to ship home "household goods and junk." Approved. The cost of shipping the "Chinese vessel" was considerably higher than anticipated.

Ben 9:34 PM  

This puzzle was pleasant but bring on the Friday.

@Steve J, condolences to you.

@IMSDave, congrats on a worthy LAT debut.

Roxie 10:08 PM  

I really liked this theme, but was disappointed that S & L was used instead of the more obvious (to me) S&P (Standard & Poors). Reclue Tales as Tapes and you'd have R&B at the S&P.

sanfranman59 10:12 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:39, 6:55, 0.96, 43%, Medium
Tue 8:17, 8:52, 0.93, 34%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:33, 11:52, 0.97, 47%, Medium
Thu 19:58, 19:23, 1.03, 63%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:41, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Tue 4:15, 4:31, 0.94, 38%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:28, 5:49, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
Thu 10:06, 9:17, 1.09, 78%, Medium-Challenging

mac 10:58 PM  

Really late, but I did this puzzle in the dentist's waiting room - a medium tough enjoyable solve!

@Steve J: so sorry about your loss.

I finished this puzzle with one mistake: rees instead of roes. A ree is a European deer, as well. It's just that the s doesn't work....

The Chinese junk was a gimme, because a Honkong friend of ours, working and living in NY, had a beat-up car his friends called the Chinese junk.

Had smelt before smolt, and t(!?)ibula, euro before pane and S and P.

This week's Fireball is slaying me.

@imsdave: love your puzzle, congratulations!

Steve J 11:40 PM  

Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. Off to see if I do any better with the Friday puzzle.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

S and P seems a better answer than S and L as it rhymes with all the other answers and makes more sense. Neither tales nor tapes seems a good answer for "they're related."

Fore doesn't seem well clued by heads up. But this was my favorite puzzle in ages because it took me a long time to get the theme and I learned a few new facts e.g. About the history of Oran.

JZ 5:39 PM  

So I'm really the only one who thought a Chinese vessel was a VASE? It works with SOHO and mysterious would-be bandleader VAN Garber too. Tho two down clues go nowhere...

Sudsy in Chicago 9:25 AM  

JZ, you're not alone. My first thoughts were JUNK and DHOW (although I didn't think the latter would be correct), and when I didn't get anywhere with those, I went to VASE. Didn't get anywhere with that either.
The NW was a total mystery, as I could not think of TOQUE and was thrown off by not remembering that "fowl" can be singular or plural. Finally got my toehold in the NE, and as others have noted, nothing made sense until I realized each theme answer contains 2 ampersandwiches. Once I got that, the rest of the puzzle was mostly filling in the blanks.
Except SMOLT. Geez. Is that an ugly souding word or what!

Anonymous 10:28 PM  

Puzzles like this are just no fun. Only the creator of the puzzle can figure it out. This one appeared in the Washington Examiner on June 24, 2010. The esoteric nature of this crossword requires some explanation that it is a special type of puzzle. Something more than just the title GAMES.

ronk 12:07 AM  

Interesting that Jan Garber was much better known as a "sweet" band leader, but only for a short time (1943-1945) in the middle of his career did he have a swing band.

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