Boldly patterned warblers / WED 6-9-10 / 1966 musical based on I Am Camera / Flexible blades / Shogun's capital / ASCAP alternative / Everglades wader

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Constructor: Gary Whitehead

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: REDSTARTS — all theme answers begin with a word that can signify a variety of RED


Word of the Day: REDSTARTS (34A: Boldly patterned warblers ... and a hint to 17-, 24-, 50- and 59-Across) —

Redstarts are a group of small Old World birds. They were formerly classified in the thrush family (Turdidae), but are more often now treated as part of the Old World flycatcher family (Muscicapidae). There are two main groups: the true redstarts of the genus Phoenicurus and the more aberrant and not too closely related White-capped, Plumbeous, Luzon, and White-bellied Redstarts. // These are insectivorous ground feeding birds, many of which have the red tail ("start" is the modern English reflex of Middle English stert, Old English steort, tail of an animal), which gives the group its name. Most northern species are strong migrants. (wikipedia)
• • •

So ... REDSTARTS. Never heard of 'em. Hard to love or adequately appreciate a puzzle when the revealer — the central component of the puzzle — is some "Old World" bird that's completely off your radar. Also, in the end, the puzzle is just "Kinds of red" or "These start with reds," the sort of "first-words-alike" puzzle we see all the time. Liked BLOOD MONEY, despite its gruesomeness; the others are just OK. Wife and I both had trouble (me a little, her a lot) getting into the NE corner because CHERRY CRUSH isn't exactly bursting with familiarity. I got it much easier than she did, but I she grew up in N.Z. where I doubt it exists, and I can't remember the last time I saw a CRUSH ad on TV or anywhere (used to be ads on TV in the '70s/'80s all the time, esp. for the much more common ORANGE CRUSH). Wife, however, had heard of REDSTARTS. Wife, however however, is kind of into birds. And it's not like she was particularly chuffed (her word, good word) to see the REDSTARTS. Both of us finished up at the second "T" in REDSTARTS—she *had* it in place and wanted to know why it was right; I did *not* have it, and only put it in place because I figured out why it was right — THEY is two words: THE Y (36D: Place with a gym). Cheap and unnecessary and been done. Too bad, as it cuts into the top of the SE corner, which is the prettiest of the bunch.



Theme answers:
  • 17A: Part ofa drug lord's income, maybe (BLOOD MONEY) — we were trying to figure out what BLOOD MONEY would mean in this context — the clue seems right, but we couldn't come up with good examples
  • 24A: Fruity soda (CHERRY CRUSH)
  • 50A: Rolling Stones hit of 1967 ("RUBY TUESDAY")
  • 59A: Certain mason (BRICK LAYER)
Trouble started for me in the NW, where [Flexible blades] made no sense to me. I don't think of EPEES as "blades." They can't cut. So lord knows what I put there. Couldn't figure out how anything starting with "S" could be [Stuff sold in rolls=>SOD]. Couldn't make ECONOCAR fit in the allotted spaces (the answer's ECONOMY; that's why) (3D: Rental car choice). Had IMPRINT for EMBLEMS (1D: Insignia). So it was a train wreck up there. Oddly, perhaps ironically, the key to my sorting out that whole corner was a tiny piece of crosswordese: EDO (23A: Shogun's capital). Had an "I" in first position and wrote in ITO, then thought "that's not right. That's a Japanese skater, or judge..." Fixed it, and the whole corner fell into place from there. Most other parts were more doable. Couldn't finish off CHERRY- but got EVEN SO off the initial "E" (28A: Still), and then USO SHOW off that "O" (13D: Base entertainment). Fortuitous. Middle of puzzle was tough, for reasons already stated. Damn birds. Botched the SE at first because I didn't take a close enough look at the dates in 45D: World Series-winning manager of 1981 and 1988 and dropped in LARUSSA instead of LASORDA. Built BOSSA (66A: ___ nova) off the "A," so LARUSSA was that much harder to get rid of. Fixing that answer let me finally see BRICKLAYER, and the rest was pretty easy. Finished up in SW and then went back to the lone empty box near the center. THEY!

Bullets:
  • 41A: Big film shower (IMAX) — never been to one. I don't live where they ... exist. THEY!


  • 6D: Actress Mary Tyler ___ (MOORE) / 7D: Co-star of 6-Down in 1970s TV (ASNER) — a lovely, simple pairing.
  • 22D: When Emperor Henry IV was dethroned (MCV) — Probably more annoying than RRNs usually are because many will have looked to this answer as a way of getting the first cross after CHERRY. I'm doubting many (if any) solvers could have plunked down MCV with no crosses.
  • 35D: Target of Pierre's prayers (DIEU) — "Target" sounds funny. "I'm gonna hit you with these prayers, God. Look out!"
  • 40D: 1966 musical based on "I Am a Camera" (CABARET) — "I Am a Camera" was a play inspired by Christopher Isherwood stories. Title always makes me think of two songs.



  • 43D: Gentle breezes (ZEPHYRS) — "Whan Zephyrus eke with his sweete breeth / Inspired hath in every holt and heeth..." and all that. That's how I know the word, anyway.
  • 44D: Sides accompaniers (ENTREES) — completely backwards (Sides "accompany" entrees), which I didn't mind at all. Nicely loopy.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

90 comments:

Leslie 7:27 AM  

Yep on the relative obscurity of REDSTARTS. I saw one, I think, in Zion National Park and had to look it up in a bird book; that's the only reason I knew that name. Also agree on THE Y. Not wrong, but felt kind of cheat-y. And I see what Rex is saying regarding BLOOD MONEY. Drug lords are violent, and they make lots of illicit money from drug dealing, but I figure "blood money" is a profit made directly from a murder.

My writeovers were "iMac" instead of MACS, because that's just how old I am; "iotas" instead of MOTES, and "thru" instead of THRO.

foodie 7:41 AM  

Rex, I'm with you re the theme revealer. I solved this with my daughter, and we sailed through it until we got totally stuck at the RED STARTS/THEY intersection. Put the T because it made sense, remove the T because of that Gym clue, until I parsed THE Y!

Daughter thankfully knew CHERRY CRUSH, which brought back memories of Orange CRUSH. I traveled to China in the mid 1980s, and we were strongly advised not to drink the water in restaurants, and to boil it in our hotel rooms. The only other 2 choices in every restaurant were Chinese beer and a Chinese version of Orange Crush! For 21 days, I drank tepid, flattish OC with almost every meal, and it eventually ruined the taste of those lovely dishes. Makes me sad to think about...I have not had OC since!

Loved OROTUND! So, I'm grateful to Gary Whitehead for teaching me new words... And as I type this, it makes me reconsider my feelings about the center piece. I guess it was tongue in cheek, specifically because REDSTARTS is so literally apt and yet such an odd name for a bird? A kind of humor that took me a while to get?

Jo 7:53 AM  

Took me some time for Red Start, had to check, finally got it, and then "got" it. Trouble in NW corner because I miswrote EROS (eyes not quite open yet), had ADO or EDO got EPEES only because it is such a standard for crosswords. All fell into place after I straightened out Eros. CRUSH came after I had the u of OROTUND. TINORE made sense only after a while for it looked like some Italian singer, until I said it correctly. Same with THEY.
Not bad for a foreigner on Wednesday morning.

Jo 7:56 AM  

Sorry, eyes still not open. That should be Ado for Edo.

dk 8:02 AM  

Had Cherry Colas and rude for NONO.

EPEES technically are not blades they are well... EPEES.

THE Y and OROTUND counter balanced NONO and EPEES pushing this one just over the Wednesday bar for me. The detractor, as Rex noted is an obscure bird for a central clue. I got it on a guess and came here wondering what the heck is a THEY.

Favorite Psycho line: My mother is not herself today.

** (2 Stars) A little less Alfred North Whitehead next time (more reality over process).

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

20A Iris for lens, then found the other iris. Mistook 42A as an eyeshadow shade. Zephyrs finally showed me the error of my ways. That H led me to The Y. All in all, enjoyed it.

jesser 8:20 AM  

Never ever heard of RED STARTS. Yuck. Otherwise, I did okay with this one. Only writeover was fixing CHERRY slUSH to CHERRY CRUSH, which I've also never heard of. Ditto OROTUND, which sounds like a disease that afflicts Hispanic bears. Also took waaaaay too long for the H in HI-C to fall, because I do not recognize HURSTON as a real name. Add a T to the front and you have that famously enisled millionaire (and his wife).

In summary, I was UNABLE to enjoy this one much, except for the lovely pairing of MOORE and ASNER that Rex mentioned. The rest of it was a bit of a slog, but not really a BOR.

Dismste! (The teacher was drinking vodka the whole time class was in session.) -- jesser

Orange 8:23 AM  

I grew up with bird-watching parents and the redstart is certainly a familiar name to me. (There's an entirely different bird called the American redstart, the warbler referred to in the clue.) Can't say I've seen a redstart, but I know the name just as well as that of the rose-breasted grosbeak. (Now try to build a theme off *that* bird's name.)

PanamaRed 8:33 AM  

Finished with one error - had EVER SO at 28A, which produced a very ugly OROTURD at 11D. Should have Googled. Yikes!

Write-overs: CHERRY PUNCH before CRUSH, IOTAS before MOTES, THRU before THRO and YAKETY YAK before SAX.

Never heard of Redstarts either, but my Bird Guidebook says the American Redstart is not at all uncommon.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

"THEY" was a cheap shot. Didn't get it till I read Rex. Found the rest of the puzzle so-so.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Gotta defend the cluing a little bit. The theme revealer is the American Redstart, not the old-world Redstart. It's not a Thrush, it's one of the more common Warblers, esp. in the NY area (and it is the NY Times puzzle, after all). And the clue actually used the word "warbler". Not much help, I realize, to those who don't know birds, but pretty easy for those who do.

JayWalker 9:14 AM  

I agree with almost all of the above comments - waaaay too many "hard for the sake of hard" clues and answers. Ended with two errors - Hic/Hurston (never heard of either) and thru/LaSorda (shoulda had that one but didn't proof - AGAIN). Had a complete tho correct guess with Redstarts and had a very difficult time in the NE. But ultimately got all but the ones I mentioned. A real slog today - not at all enjoyable.

Van55 9:35 AM  

Agree on the REDSTART/THEY cross. Didn't know HURSTON. MCV = Medical College of Virginia, which might be just slightly more obscure than Emperor Henry Iv.

Very confidently penned in ORANGECRUSH at first.

Finished in due time with no errors.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:38 AM  

As did Anonymous 8:11, I (working off the "S" from EROS) fell into the trap of putting IRIS at 20 A, only to find it later, correctly, at 16 A.

Otherwise , I thought it was an easy and fun Wednesday, every answer except MCV seemed to be in my easily accessible crossword vocabulary.

SethG 9:39 AM  

IN UTERO is a Nirvana album. Yeah, I spent a while looking at OROTURD, and had THEY with no idea why it was right. Same thing happened to me last time THE Y was in the puzzle, just a few months ago...

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:40 AM  

Have no problem with THE Y.

Also, have no problem with They Might Be Giants. "No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful." FTW!

hazel 9:44 AM  

2 cups of coffee BEFORE you do the puzzle is my new protocol. I found this puzzle astonishingly easy.

What in the world is the matter with The Y? I refer to the Y as The Y all the time - I never say I'm going to the YMCA - I always say The Y. Seems Wednesday fair.

A puzzle with (1) a little geology, (2) some birds, (3) some Stones, (4) the lovely MTM/Ed A pairing (as noted by Rex), and (5) a gentle breeze on a (6) cloudless day is a good puzzle.

But the fact that (7) HAZEL (my e-life name and more importantly the real-life name of my beloved corgi-mix) made it in as part of the mini-eye theme - well, now its a fine fine puzzle.

Since you're not using all of your stars,@dk, I'd like to borrow 4 of them for the day, and I'll give them back tomorrow.

chaos1 9:49 AM  

Breezed through this pretty quickly, except for the REDSTARTS. Strangely enough,I had no trouble parsing THEY,but desperately wanted IPSO for 30A. It seemed obvious that 25D was YEAR, but with YEO, I was over thinking it. Without that little snafu, I would have been done in under 10 minutes.

@JayWalker: I wasn't familiar with Hurston either, but you must have seen HI-C at some time, if you live in America. It's been around for 50 years or so. Nasty bit of parsing similar to 36D, but you gotta think "HIC" would be a bottle of something a wino had in his overcoat, as opposed to a drink offered by Minute Maid, no? Lol.

joho 9:54 AM  

I, too, found this puzzle easy and was really surprised at the Medium-Challenging rating.

Also, like @Hazel, THE Y is commonly used around my parts so it came to me immediately.

IRIS is the malapop of the day.

It's interesting that RUBYTUESDAY showed up in a Wednesday.

@PanamaRed and @SethG, OROTURD!

@dk, LOL "My mother is not herself today."

Greene 10:03 AM  

Put me in the crowd that found this one fairly easy. I too had a little trouble with CHERRY CRUSH (I didn't know they ever made that flavor), but RED STARTS was a gimmie. Slowed down in the NE, mostly because I had IOTAS where MOTES should go. 22D gave me the M (for once a roman numeral was useful) and things cleared up quickly. I could see this puzzle being quite thorny if you hadn't heard of RED STARTS though.

Love how Mary Tyler MOORE and Ed ASNER are all cozy together in the north.

The basic plot for what eventually became CABARET has gotten a lot of mileage over the years. It started as a book called "The Berlin Stories" by Chritopher Isherwood. This in turn was adapted into a Broadway play called "I Am a Camera" by John Van Druten in 1951. This was then adapted into a moderately successful movie (with the same title) in 1955. Then the material morphed into the Broadway musical "Cabaret" in 1966 and finally found its way back to film in the much altered movie musical "Cabaret." The musical play version has been revived twice on Broadway and has become so familiar as to have totally eclipsed its source material.

Stan 10:07 AM  

Popular music theme continues from yesterday, with rock, Broadway, R%B, World, traditional, and Ascap/BMI.

@hazel: I like the HAZEL/ZEPHYR cross even more now that I know it refers to a Corgi.

fikink 10:07 AM  

@Sandy, Rex, thanks for "chuffed" - new to me!

And, Rex, your conversations with God are always amusing! "YO, God! Incoming!"

Found this puzzle to be more Tuesday than Wednesday, but interesting...Don't know that I've seen THRO for thru, as in "drive-thru." Must be the eroding of my formal thinking.

My biggest pause was SAX, where I insisted on keeping YAK, remembering something that went, "Yakety Yak - Don't look back!"
Anyone?
Bueller?

@foodie, I agree that START seems odd for a bird, but perhaps it has something to do with the way they move.

@dk, cherry cokes - take me back! Especially from a real soda fountain where you could have them made with as much cherry syrup as you wanted!

@Orange, we get ruby-breasted grosbeaks down here. For anybody interested there are photos on both my blogs.

Nice work, Gary!

Rex Parker 10:10 AM  

@fkink, it's "Don't TALK back"; "Don't LOOK back" is making me laugh. Thanks. :)

rp

Sparky 10:13 AM  

The only picture that came to mind was red winged blackbird and that has far too many letters. The center stopped me. Had Yax not Sax, the second T missing. Erased everything and stared at it. Finally, came to the blog. Didn't catch on to The Y till I saw it here. Zora Neal Hurston is almost crosswordese but usually the Zora or the Neal part. What kind of drink is Hic? Does it bring on the burps? Ne Hi shows up a lot and the only time I've seen it was in the movie Paper Moon. Got to get going. Be good, but not too good.

Jo 10:13 AM  

Zora Neale Hurston's book "Their Eyes Were Watching God" is an African-American classic. Still very much worth reading.

mexgirl 10:26 AM  

Are there REDSTARTS in Connecticut? If so, I think we saw one last weekend in our backyard; a beautiful, bright, red-orangey little thing whose wings sparkled like monarch butterflies between the bushes.....

fikink 10:27 AM  

Wowie! Rex, my staying in focus ["Bof us?"] is working! Thanks for the correction. I will laugh at my interpretation all day!

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

I knew that bird was going to cause trouble. Being a "bird person" helped greatly but it was no surprise that it was off most people's radar.
@ fikink, I knew you would get that bird straight away.
This felt like a Tuesday to me too.
It did seem unusual to have seven Y's in the grid.
@ jesser, Thx for the Gilligan reference.
"I Am a Camera" is also a very good Yes song. I'll bet @ dk knows it.

NCA President 10:35 AM  

funny, i got "THE Y" but totally couldn't tell what "HIC" was. hiccup? an orange drink? oh yeah....HI-C. ah so.

i did this in bed last night and the general rule is if i finish before i fall asleep, it is relatively easy...(i almost never finish thurs, fri, or sat puzzles before i fall asleep).

orotund? that is a word that many people go their whole lives without seeing or uttering. i count my blessings every day...

CoolPapaD 10:36 AM  

First Wed with errors in a LONG time - made me kinda upset, but I can't blame the puzzle.

I had RED SHADES (I've also never heard of these) and could not bring myself to change it - couldn't think of anything else that made sense. I was also stuck on YAX (even though I was fairly certain it was YAK). I knew YEAR had to be right, yet could not get SHADES. Ugly rewrites over rewrites.

My other problem was MOTES (again, wasn't familiar). I did remember MOLES from HS chemistry - something like 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd power, and figured this HAD to be the answer. Sad indeed that this useless number is still taking up precious real estate in my brain, where I could use as much free space as possible!

mac 10:44 AM  

Loved this puzzle. The Y got me, but I like to be fooled like that. @Rex, thanks for the WOD, never knew start (steort) was so close to the contemporary Dutch "staart" for tail.

My new word was orotund; I just relied on the crosses because I had never read it before with the o in front.

I think Zephyr is a beautiful word, like several terms for winds: mistral, tramontane.
Also liked finesse and emblems. I got the theme quickly with bloodmoney all filled in and the r pf 34A - went looking for and found the cherry right away. I also malapopped, plus had terra nova instead of the bossa nova.

chaos1 10:48 AM  

@Fikink: Shame Shame! Only skimmed over Rex's WOTD didn't you! The REDSTART doesn't scare easily. The START PART refers to the birdie's tail.

Yackety Sax,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl0WIw8KOVc

was originally done by Boots Randolph, but is perhaps better known as the theme from The Benny Hill show.

@SparkySaid: For the last time, it's HI-C not HIC! You're forgiven if you have never lived in America.

andrew 10:49 AM  

there are new world redstarts

Scott 11:28 AM  

Agree 100% re: REDSTARTS. Obscure and uninteresting theme revealer for an otherwise pedestrian theme. MY other main problem with the theme is CHERRYCRUSH. I've heard of orange crush, but never cherry. And apparently the product they currently sell is called "Crush Cherry" according to wikipedia and the company's website.

CaseAceFos 11:30 AM  

Good Juggly Wuggly! How incredibly sly was THEY!

Tinbeni 11:41 AM  

I guess SOD is sold in rolls if you are replacing a football field. Here it is sold "in pallets."

WOD ~ REDSTARTS, I love it when the puzzle has a nice learning moment. Cute little guy. I doubt we ever have them here in FLA.

OROTUND, all crosses. Another new word, looked it up, now I'll forget it.

Liked the shout-out to HAZEL and my solving buddy, the little EGRET that wanders by looking for breakfast each morning.

jaykeparke 11:41 AM  

Hey mexgirl, yes, there are redstarts in Connecticut and your comparison to a monarch butterfly is pretty spot-on.

fikink 11:58 AM  

@chaos1 - You are absolutely right! I knew the bird and only read the first lines of the WOTD and zeroed in on the photo. And you are absolutely correct: BAD FORM!

edith b 11:58 AM  

Twenty-five years ago I stumbled over "Comin' thru the rye" and committed it to memory as a "crossword oddity" and resolved never again. It's like being re-introduced to an old friend.

Got the Y straight away and was familiar with the warbler REDSTART so had a relatively easy time with this one.

I have missed tis blog for the last several weeks as I was hospitalized with lung problems and am just now home again jiggity jig. Am glad to be here.

Two Ponies 12:04 PM  

Welcome back edith b!
I wondered where you had been.
Very glad you are feeling better.

joho 12:10 PM  

@edith b, I hope you are all better!

dk 12:18 PM  

@hazel, my stars are yours whenever you want them. Of course my rating system is patented:)

@van55, mmmm orange crush and vanilla ice cream. I think it was called a creamsicle. Warning it may result a public NONO

@fikink, rex is always watching and ever vigilant.

jesser 12:21 PM  

@edithb: Welcome back. I'm glad you're on the mend! Good thoughts and vibes of good health are zinging your way from New Mexico!

ArtLvr 12:24 PM  

I may have missed it in the above comments, but expected a train buff would have mentioned the classic ZEPHYRS -- diesel-powered stainless-steel beauties introduced in the early '30s and most of them disappearing by the '70s. Google for pix!

Loved the puzzle today, no problem with the cute REDSTARTS or THE Y.

∑;)

ArtLvr 12:27 PM  

p.s. welcome back, Edith B!

∑;)

hazel 12:28 PM  

@dk - why thank you. Your cranky pants are in the mail, by the way.

@Edith B - so glad to see you back, and in fine form!!

Clark 12:35 PM  

Res IPSA loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.

"The present case upon the evidence comes to this, a man is passing in front of the premises of a dealer in flour, and there falls down upon him a barrel of flour. I think it apparent that the barrel was in the custody of the defendant who occupied the premises, and who is responsible for the acts of his servants who had the control of it; and in my opinion the fact of its falling is prima facie evidence of negligence, and the plaintiff who was injured by it is not bound to show that it could not fall without negligence, but if there are any facts inconsistent with negligence it is for the defendant to prove them." (Byrne v. Boadle, The Court of Exchequer, 1863.)

syndy 12:55 PM  

nice easy puzzle except my first answer to 24a was lemon squash!Down straightened that out and am I glad I never read the clue for 22d. however,however;however also stared at the tail of the redstar far too long until the "Y" focused in fall for it every time!least favorite answer 63a Love not the many acred thing!

Rube 1:01 PM  

Per Wikipedia:

"Yakety Sax is a piece of music written by James Q. "Spider" Rich, and released as a 45 rpm single by Boots Randolph in 1963.

"Yakety Yak" is a song written, produced, and arranged by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for The Coasters and released on Atlantic Records in 1958..."

Personally, I've never heard of YAKETY SAX. Couldn't parse HIC or THEY. Apparently, American REDSTARTS aren't found on the West Coast, (or in NYC). Had CHERRYdRink at first but knew MD_ was way too late for Henry IV.

I should go back to bed.

Shamik 1:05 PM  

Put me in the easy-medium/medium category, but I didn't care for this puzzle. Got that it had to be red things. But REDSTARTS? Really?

Where's the "not like" button?

Captcha "hermazo"--my Spanish clown brother.

PurpleGuy 1:09 PM  

Took me too long to wonder how to fit ACTV into three boxes for 22d. Then realized the clue said Emperor HenryIV and not King Henry IV. The English major in me always goes for Shakespeare.
Hand raised with others for iMac and CHERRYwhatever.

I like birds, but had never heard of REDSTARTS. Are they in AZ?

I come to the blog all the time, but don 't always have a chance to comment. MY time is pretty much 24/7 taking care of my 102 year old mom. Tiring, sometimes, but I wouldn't change it for the world.
I'm keeping her in our own home.

Happy Wednesday, everyone. Over the Hump Day !

Shanti-
Bob, aka PurpleGuy.

Greene 1:30 PM  

@Rube: Thanks for explaining the difference between "Yakety Yak" and "Yakety Sax." I'm guessing the title of the latter was a riff on the title of the former. Have you ever seen "The Benny Hill Show"? "Yakety Sax" was always played during the screwball patomime sequences and every time I hear the tune I automatically think of Benny Hill leering at some comely, scantily clad tart. I'll wager you've heard the tune somewhere before.

lit.doc 1:37 PM  

Wow, NE kicked my ass. Had to google “Cassiterite” (which I was imagining to be some religious order I’d never heard of) to finish. OROTUND? REDSTARTS? Wow.

Felt like a typical Wednesday till I hit dead center. Emphasis on “dead”. I’ve been paying attention in Crosswordese 101, so 25D WINE was a gimme, right? Then I worked the downs across RED___ and saw that 30A had to be IPSO. Adding to the fun in WTF Central was how long it took me to parse THE Y even after an alphabet run.

And finally NE. 16A LENS, IRIS, or UVEA? 22A MOTES or IOTAS? I had guessed 13D USO SHOW and 19A RUDE early on, and both felt equally obvious. Gack.

Hell of a puzzle.

lit.doc 1:57 PM  

@fikink, I had that YAK/SAX problem too. Already had IMAX, but still. Although with a clear head this a.m. I remember hearing that "Yakety Sax" number, all I could hear last night was Arnold, with headphones on, singing "Yakity Yak" aloud on an airplane in Twins.

@Tinbeni, you're right about grass. It's harvested by machines that roll it up, but it's sold to consumers by the palet.

@PurpleGuy, the English Major in me luved your ACT V for Henry IV!

@edith b, glad you're feeling better.

Tinbeni 2:13 PM  

@Lit.doc
When I'm right about grass, the last think I want it to be is SOD.
Trust me when we harvested in Jamaica, it was "rolled" by hand.

mac 2:29 PM  

@edith b.: glad you are back!

lit.doc 2:30 PM  

@Tinbeni, LOL. Good point!

edmcan 2:30 PM  

Isn't Bill Clinton famous for Yakety Sax?

@edithb-hope you're feeling better.

Clark 2:49 PM  

Range map of the American Redstart (on the right side of the page).

Leslie 2:59 PM  

Welcome back, Edith B.--glad you're feeling better! Purple Guy, you're a mensch, taking care of your mom. Good on you.

Mac: I think Zephyr is a beautiful word, like several terms for winds: mistral, tramontane. "Mariah?" (Only way out West, I guess . . .)

Joe 3:19 PM  

Hated the NE corner.

EVEN SO? Meh.

THEY--I mean, THE Y? Double meh.

MCV? Why not MCA, Elton John's defunct record label that bit the dust in MMIII?

But loved ZEPHYRS.
Made me think of that song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers where he sings "Fly away on my zephyr" but it sounds like he's singing "Fly away on my cell phone."

Sparky 3:37 PM  

Edith b--welcome back. Glad you are mending. @chaos 1-Don't need forgiveness. Just didn't "see" the separation with the hyphen in the grid. As so many didn't "see" the separation between The and Y. Sigh!

Jayke 3:48 PM  

Thanks, Clark, for the redstart range map, I was going to post one myself to show how widespread they are in the Eastern U.S., including NYC. They don't just pass through during migration, they also breed here in the summer. (FWIW, the bird in the photo on the Cornell Lab page looks a little washed out to me, they're usually a bit more reddish/orange).

Anyway, that's all to say that maybe "Redstart" is too obscure for a Wednesday, but I liked it as an answer and I thought the clueing was straightforward.

sanfranman59 3:50 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)

Wed 12:24, 11:48, 1.05, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:12, 5:48, 1.07, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Steve J 4:01 PM  

DNF. DNL. (Did not finish. Did not like.)

I'm actually fine with "The Y," as I'm guessing that's what it's called in practice far more than the YMCA. Took me a while to get it, but it was an aha moment when it did.

What tripped me up was REDSTARTS crossing with Yakkety SAX. I had Yakkety YAK in there. Then changed it to Yakkety YAX once I realized IMAX had to go in at 41A, figuring I'd misheard the song all these years (much like I always thought it was "Hi-ho Silver" instead of "Hi-yo," as covered a few weeks ago.

Didn't help myself with TERRA nova at 66A. Couldn't pick up 30A, either, as IPYA made no sense, but I had no idea what to put in its place.

Bleh.

Sfingi 4:33 PM  

Nice theme, but I got totally lost in NE corner. For NONO, I had "rude."
For 28A still, was thinking either not moving, or home brewing. Had partial words TIN---, USO---, and CHERRY-----. Had MuonS for MOTES.
Wanted CHERRYCoke,
I even Googled cassiterite to no avail. Didn't know OROTUND. ROTUND, I know, and resemble.

Else where, never heard of Yakety SAX, and didn't get THE Y.

Also, minithemes - eye parts - LENS and IRIS, mentioned indirectly by @Kartofel , and aforementioned MOORE and ASNER,

@Leslie - would make a good theme, winds. Include Scirocco, the hot sandy wind from Africa, or the Alberta Clipper (brrr).

Anonymous 4:58 PM  

Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Train: http://www.msichicago.org/whats-here/exhibits/pioneer-zephyr/

Citizen Dain 5:21 PM  

I'm so tired of missing these puzzles by one box. In this case 32d I had as yAX. I didn't know the Latin phrase (IPSA struck a bell only after I saw the answer key) and I knew the song as "yakety yak/don't talk back". I was not about to change IMAX, so I thought the still-stupid "Yakety YAX" made more sense than any other answer. That whole middle section was annoying and I guessed correctly on REDSTARTS, so it is annoying to be derailed by stupid Yakety SAX. Ahhhh...

retired_chemist 5:36 PM  

Late to the party.....

Enjoyed the puzzle and ripped through most of it. Several easily fixed errors: ATOMS before MOTES, BOMBAY before MUMBAI (I knew it was one or the other), ARES before EROS (NOT Freudian, LOL at my error), VANES before EPEES, USO TOUR before USO SHOW.

Spent a couple of minutes playing alphabet soup with HURSTON/HI-C. Like others, parsed one as "hic" and thought Z. N. was HUSTON.

Nicely done, Mr. Whitehead.

shrub5 5:46 PM  

A fun puzzle with lots of interesting comments today. I didn't get HI-C because I thought Zora Neale's last name was TURSTON. That left me with TIC for the Minute Maid drink. Gee, I've never tried that.

I had the ZE----- in place for gentle breezes and inexplicably plopped in ZENITHS (I was doing this puzzle around midnight.) As I hacked away in that SE corner, including stops at LARUSSA before LASORDA and THRU before THRO, I realized it should be ZEPHYRS.

@Greene: thanks for the Isherwood/Cabaret info.
@Clark: likewise, thank you for the res ipsa loquiter refresher. Appreciate all who wrote about the REDSTARTS.

And @PanamaRed: I am still laughing at OROTURD.

william e emba 5:50 PM  

Zora Neale HURSTON is famous enough, but in fact her name is crosswordese, although usually for the first or middle names!

mac 6:08 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: that's cute, Kartoffel.

Stan 6:48 PM  

@Edith B--Willkommen back!!

Thurston Moore 6:51 PM  

Damn, I almost made it into the puzzle today.

ArtLvr 8:51 PM  

@ Clark, thank you for the range map of the American REDSTART...

And thanks to Anon 4:58 too for the link to the Pioneer ZEPHYR train in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Still a beauty!

∑;)

captcha - tractable!

andrea neale michaels 9:49 PM  

who is Thurston Moore? Did he play the lone ranger?

I had word for word the whole @Rex IMPRINT/ITO thing...reminds me when I first read this blog and thought I was reading my own thoughts...was SURE Rex would turn out to be a 50 yr old Jew from Minnesota...aaah those were the days!

What would my life be like without daily doses of @dk love, foodie wisdom, joho narratives, and on and on?!

Speaking of which,@EdithB, yes, welcome back...was wondering where you were on the whole Denny's discussion the other day (the racist restaurant, not the Mamas and the Papas molester!)
(Or was that the other one?)

Did the whole OROTURD, IRIS malapop, not able to parse TheY/hi-C thing.

I liked the theme eventho I had never heard of a REDSTART, clearly Gary Whitehead had so he did something superclever with it... I suspect he could do a WHITEHEAD puzzle next!

Met a Ruby last night as the non-celebratory party of my friend Harry who lost for Judge :( We were discussing "Goodbye Ruby Tuesday" and that great Minnesota post-election headline "Goodbye Rudy Tuesday" when both Perpich and Boschwitz lost...I mean, really, how many stars had to line up to make THAT happen!

andrea zora michaels 9:51 PM  

ps the upside of not knowing sports was that there was zero likelihood of falling into a LaRussa trap!

andrea hic! michaels 9:55 PM  

pps oops, that's Clayton Moore...sorry Sonic Youth fans. I guess that's what my little Google space is for.

CaseAceFos 10:01 PM  

I was LaSorda out in left field convinced it was LaRussa!

sanfranman59 10:09 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 7:08, 6:55, 1.03, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:53, 8:49, 1.01, 59%, Medium
Wed 12:25, 11:48, 1.05, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:41, 1.03, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:39, 4:31, 1.03, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:35, 5:47, 0.96, 44%, Medium

eva 10:32 PM  

Oh, such an awful time with the center! Failed on the whole REDSTARTS/IPSA/SAX/YEAR area. Struggled in the NE corner too, but finally slogged through it. Not an enjoyable Wednesday, and the theme was a letdown.

edith b 12:10 AM  

I told my friends back in NY that I was part of an online community that discussed crossword puzzles. I could tell by the way they "patted me on the head" that they were dubious to say the least.

To all the people on this blog who one, noticed I was missing and two, made it a point to welcome me "home", I am deeply appreciative.

My capcha? kingame. How fitting!

jau 1:23 PM  

Comin' thro the rye" (with an "o"??!). What's that about? Or had Tommy changed his last name?

Robert Burns 2:33 PM  

(aka Bobby Burns)

@jau -- That's the way I wrote my poem, laddie, or is it lassie?:


Comin Thro' The Rye
O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry:
She draigl't a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!

Comin thro' the rye, poor body,
Comin thro' the rye,
She draigl't a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need the warl' ken?

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the grain;
Gin a body kiss a body,
The thing's a body's ain.

Gavin 11:22 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gavin 11:25 PM  

Epees are in fact officially termed "blades" in the sport of fencing, as are foils and sabres; there are no "swords" in the sport. And epees are in fact the most flexible of the three blades in the sport. As a foil fencer, I am just happy to no longer see epee clued as "foil." All three blades are very different, not only in form but in how their respective events are scored. They are very mutually exclusive.

Minnesota Daddio 10:16 AM  

Commenting from syndication-land-- I think the BLOOD in blood money is referring to the gang of that name (e.g. the drug lord sold to both BLOODS and crips).

I Before E 2:09 PM  

I remember a year or so ago YAKETY SAX in full was the answer clued as something like "Theme often played in comic chase scenes."

Waxy in Montreal 3:09 PM  

Wow, I'm impressed. Gary Whitehead's use of THE-Y in this puzzle 5 weeks ago must have acted as a catalyst as I read today "BOSTON: Non-profit organisation YMCA, short for Young Men's Christian Association, is dropping the last three letters from the acronym and will now be known as just ‘the Y'. The 166-year-old organisation is implementing a major rebranding strategy “to increase understanding of the impact the non-profit makes in communities”.

Jack 9:38 AM  

Recently the National YMCA changed their name to "The Y" to reflect common usage in the US.

Love your blog!

Jack Russett

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