1961 hit for Shirelles / MON 6-28-10 / Curly ethnic hairstyle colloquially / Schreiber who won Tony for Glengarry Glen Ross / Small American thrush

Monday, June 28, 2010

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: -A-A — eight-letter phrases where the first part starts with XAXA (where "X" = consonant)


Word of the Day: VEERY (28D: Small American thrush) —

The Veery, Catharus fuscescens, is a small thrush species. It is occasionally called Willow Thrush or Wilson's Thrush. It is a member of a close-knit group of migrant Catharus species, which also includes the cryptotaxa Grey-cheeked Thrush (C. minimus) and Bicknell's Thrush (C. bicknelli).
• • •

Didn't enjoy this while solving, because a., VEERY (28D: Small American thrush), what the hell? and b. no idea what theme was while solving and c. if I never see BABAWAWA in a puzzle again it'll be too soon. Then I hit JEWFRO and nearly all was forgiven (50D: Curly ethnic hairstyle, colloquially). I canNot believe that got in. Has it been in before? It's quite in-the-language, but seems like it might offend someone, somehow. If the word "JEW" is involved, the NYT tends to tread *very* lightly. I've had readers object to the word JEW's appearing in the grid At All (unless it's clued as part of the Marlowe title, "The ___ of Malta"). Anyway, JEWFRO is great and fresh and Easily the best thing on the menu today. There are lots of Xs (and EXES), and the grid shape is odd (in that theme answers are not identifiable by layout), so those are pluses as well, I suppose. Could've done without three RE-words. Also, LATEN and (moreso) EMBAR are two of my least favorite xword words. EMBAR could likely have been done away with, no problem, so I guess that's just a matter of taste. Constructor thought it tasted good. I thought it tasted like Miracle Whip (that's "not good," btw).

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Dreamy state (LA LA LAND)
  • 56A: Gilda Radner character on "S.N.L." (BABA WAWA)
  • 5D: One in a million (RARA AVIS)
  • 10D: "Hubba hubba!" ("VA-VA-VOOM!")
  • 38D: 1961 hit for the Shirelles ("MAMA SAID")
  • 40D: Owner of the largest bed Goldilocks tried (PAPA BEAR)



So the puzzle was Medium-Challenging, barely. I mean, it was at the upper end of normal for me, time-wise, so, close call, but between VEERY and the unorthodox grid, I figured it would, overall, take people slightly longer than normal (which, on Monday, may be a matter of seconds, as it was with me).

Bullets:
  • 25A: Schreiber who won a Tony for "Glengarry Glen Ross" (LIEV) — I know him by sight, but I have no idea how. Couldn't name a movie he's been in off top of my head—was he in the Orson Welles biopic? Yes, "RKO 281" — whoa! He was in one of my very favorite movies of the '90s: the highly under-rated and largely forgotten "Walking and Talking" (with the sensational Catherine Keener). Wow. I want to watch that movie right now. I think Schreiber played Anne Heche's jewelry-designing husband.
  • 58D: What moons do after full moons (WANE) — dear god, how many moons are there? It's the same damn moon that's full and that WANEs ... gotta be a clue that doesn't involve repeating the word "moons"
  • 59D: Abbr. before a name on a memo (ATTN.) — NAME is in the grid (RENAME). Kind of stuff I notice only when I really don't have a lot to say about a puzzle.
Hey, what's the opposite of JEWFRO? ... it's GOYDOME.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

90 comments:

PurpleGuy 12:31 AM  

OK, first off- I gotta say I like the GOYDOME. Takes balls to post a picture like that !
Never in my life heard of the hairstyle JEWFRO. And I'm from New York and was in a Jewish fraternity in college.
Thanks for the video of MAMASAID. That is a real classic. Remember dancing to that in high school.Yes I'm old, and approaching your GOYDOME naturally.

Glad to see OXYMORON in the grid. One of my favorite words of all time. PAJAMA party under MEN crossing SICEM put a rather sly grin on my face, especiall with PAPABEAR crossing at the other end.

LIEV Schreiber was also in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He's also currently on Broadway in Albee's "After The Fall."

For some reason the crossing of LALALAND and SQUARE made me smile.

Had a good time solving this one. Wanted to LETLOOSE with VAVAVOOM, but STOPIT intersected.

Thanks for the writeup Rex. Good commentary as usual.

Happy Monday all !!!!

foodie 12:37 AM  

Rex, you look like your Avatar, but in a happy mood. Excellent!

I like some things about this puzzle -- all the X's, the theme density and VAVAVOOM!! But, and may be this is Andrea's influence, I found it distracting that there were non-theme entries that were as long as the theme answers- e.g. OXYMORON and LETLOOSE.

Early on, I expected the repetition to go on for 3 syllables, as in LALALAND. But that dwindled to 2.5 in VAVAVOOM and to two in the rest...

I also think the puzzle could have profited from some sort of entry that refers back to the repetition of the syllables (even if tongue in cheek). ECHOLALIA?

Not easy to create easy.

Steve J 12:42 AM  

Was quite surprised by JEWFRO as well. Surprised that it got through, but how could I not love including such a great word (even if the style is, thankfully, largely passé these days).

I loved "Walking and Talking" as well. That poster is amazing: I really have to look to get Catherine Keener; either there was a ton of retouching, or she changed a hell of a lot between there and "Being John Malkovich" (my first exposure to her that I can recall, and one of my favorite movies ever).

Not much else to say on this one. Average Monday time for me. Never even realized there was a theme, and now that I know what it is, I still have difficulty picking it up. It's an awfully dull theme as it is.

VEERY was indeed weird, but easy enough to pick up, especially once I picked up the Y in OXYMORON. Which reminds me of a prof in college (thankfully not in the English department) who pronounced it, no joke, ox-SIM-er-on.

CaseAceFos 1:18 AM  

I'm not going to get caught up in the controversy that seems to be heating up over in Wordplay involving JEWFRO appearing in a NYT's puzzle. I will say this though, the JEWRY is still out on this!

syndy 1:31 AM  

mamasaid papabear sire and dam nice liked oxymoron and raraavis not so much lalaland or vavavoom someone please hide the umbiquitous iceax!! did find jewfro offensive not sire quite why but it made me squirm

andrea rah rah michaels 1:56 AM  

WHAT????????!!!!!!!!!!!
I think this is the best Monday of the year!!!!!

@SteveJ
How could you not notice a theme and then pronounce blah?????????
Are you kidding me??????????

VAVAVOOM, LALALAND, RARAAVIS, MAMASAID, PAPABEAR, BABAWAWA (a double one!!!!!)
Six themes, all fun, light, consistent! One is even double...
plus 6 xs! 3Js, 1 Q, FIVE Vs!!!

That's like coming here and saying, WHat? no K?

Did I say 3 J's!!!!!!!????!!!!!
Giving us JAGS/JILL, JADE/JABBA and
then throw in Jewfro!!!!!!!!!!!
(I'm growing mine back as I type this!!!)

Fie on anyone who doesn't love this puzzle, I think it's the best Monday this year so far!

(Never even saw VEERY, but I noticed RENAME, the fab OXYMORON, and the REPRO/XEROX "copy" clues!)

@Rex,
Your goydome is very cheeky, manly, REM/some-comic-book- character I can't quite think of... vavavoom!

Clark 2:13 AM  

The veery has a beautiful song.

chefwen 2:48 AM  

Never heard of the term JEW FRO but I sure did have one. Used to make my mom iron my hair when I was in high school. Combo race and humidity, perfectly straight walking out of the house, by the time I made it to the bus stop I looked like I had stuck my finger in a light socket. Oh the horrors of curly hair when straight as pin was the current fashion.

Puzzle was Monday easy and a lot of fun, loved all the x's.

otisannette 2:49 AM  

hahahaha- goydome made my day (or rest of my night). Didn't think much about jewfro since I have done so many BEQ, tausig, AV club puzzles lately and used to those shenanigans. Sad thing was I tried to fit in jericurl initially.

fikink 5:39 AM  

@chefwen, I hear you on the hair - we all wanted to look like Mary Travers.


Speaking of hair, - or not, @Rex - I am moved to recall Barbra Streisand singing, Where's That Rainbow, wherein lived the lyrics:

"Where's that Lothario?
Where does he roam
With his dome
vaselined as can be?"

which, as a kid, I thought was really dirty!
Vuvuzela!


JEWFRO made me adult-gasp like a vaselined dome made me uncomfortable as a kid.

Thought this puzzle was gangbusters, though.

Greene 6:11 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle and found it startlingly easy. Loved the scrabbliness of it all. Did not discern the theme as I worked it. Had to sit back later and figure that out. Even then, it didn't leap out at me.

@Foodie: I don't think I'm going to read a funnier comment today than your ECHOLALIA bit. Good one.

I only learned the term JEWFRO this past year (from my daughter and her friends). They don't use it pejoratively, although I can certainly see it used in that sense. If @Andrea and the jewish readers of this blog don't take offense, then I guess it's not a big deal. I kind of thought it would be an explosive issue today. @Steve J: if you think the JEWFRO is passe, check out the lead actors on the television program Royal Pains. Not exactly Arnold Horshack, but working on it.

@Purple Guy: Liev Schreiber was also nominated for a Tony Award this past season for his excellent performance as Eddie in Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge, quite the best production of that play I have ever seen. Some felt he was robbed of the award which went to Denzel Washington for Fences. I saw them both and it was an extremely tough call. Personally, I would have gone with Schreiber. He did win for the Glengarry Glen Ross revival in 2005.

@Rex: Love your photo. Your resemblance to your avatar is startling. In my day, you would have been referred to as a chrome dome.

Gareth Bain 6:20 AM  

I'd say JEW sans FRO is more likely to be deemed offensive...

Leslie 7:16 AM  

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't fully see the theme until I came here. I thought LA LA LAND and VA VA VOOM were the theme, and was waiting for another answer with the consonant repeated three times, so didn't even look at MAMA and PAPA as theme answers. Doh!

@Greene: I, too, learned JEWFRO from my kids, just as I learned "fauxhawk" from them. (Learned "toehawk," the fur between an animal's toe pads, from an online site.)

I'm loving the comments today: First, Rex's "goydome?" Too funny. Then CaseAceFos, with "The jewry's still out"--I love a good pun. Fikink, with "We all wanted to look like Mary Travers"--someone's in my age group!

Overall, a great start to the week.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 7:47 AM  

My buddy usually calls his haircut the semitifro.

ArtLvr 8:16 AM  

Good write-up, Rex -- I did wonder about the FRO but tend to agree with @andrea on general impact, probably the most amusing Monday in ages. And I agree with @Leslie too re cackling over comments like "the Jewry is out". Oy.

I was very taken, after I finished, with the "VEERY thrush" google. It turns out that the Thrush family name in Latin is a yukky Turdidae... It's not a variation of Vireo, passerine bird(s) of the family Vireonidae, though the question passed through my mind.

Breakfasting later on.

∑;)

JayWalker 8:27 AM  

You kill me Rex. You can be a comic and grouch all at the same time!! Love it. I'm with Andrea tho - best Monday puzzle in a very long time. I do appreciate that the week starts "slowly" - but it often just starts boringly. This one was fun and just testy enough! Is that really YOU with the Goydome???? Say it isn't so!!!!

tptsteve 8:30 AM  

Liked the puzzle, but loved the write-up, particularly the Goydome pic. Takes a lotta baytsim to post that one.

My biggest problem was trying to make Oxymoron a theme answer.
Still chuckling that Jewfro made the puzzle. My brother had a semi-Jewfro as a kid; now he's semi-bald.

redhed 8:34 AM  

Nice puzzle with a cool Monday theme and lots n lots of x's. I also went first for "jericurl" and tried and tried for the longest time to fit in "roseannerosanadana. Of course, that did NOT fit.

I always liked fros, wouldn't mind seeing more of them (tho I could never grow one myself. *sigh*

Loved the "goydome" too!!

joho 8:34 AM  

I was struck by all the X's and J's. Loved VAVAVOOM and OXYMORON.

Did not see theme until coming here. My appreciation for the puzzle jumped when I realized what the constructor has wrought. Congratulations, Joel Fagliano!

VEERY was my WOTD and I wondered if they are veery, veery small.

The humidity is high in Ohio so by the end of the outdoor picnic party yesterday I was sporting a JEWFRO and didn't even know it! (SethG, didn't you post a picture of you with one once?)

Finally, @Rex ... regarding your GOYDOME ... you look mAHvelous!

Kurt 8:47 AM  

I'm with Andrea and several others. Best Monday puzzle of the year. Clever. Lots of great theme entries. All of those scrabbly letters. And Jewfro! What's not to love.

Great write up Rex (loved the picture). And thank you Joel Fagiano.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Liev schreiber is also the outstanding narrarator of HBO documentaries and is married to the delicious Naomi Watts.

dk 9:11 AM  

Seeing Rex topless at 8AM: WTH! Get some PAJAMAs man!

My problem with this puzzle is there is no K and 51A should have been Acme.

This one was perky jerky. Easy fill then harder fill. Tough to find a rhythm but then MAMASAID white guys can't dance.

Filling 42A had me setting my PHASER to....

What is up with ICEAX, ICEAXE and ICESAW its summer!

Better than average Monday INMBO (B=bloated).

secret word: humba - MAMBA at a Karaoke Bar

** (2 Stars)

dKKKKKKKKKK

chefbea 9:14 AM  

Great puzzle and even greater foto of Rex.

Back in the 80's I had a Jewfro. Everyone said I looked like Annie.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

The link below features the songs of four different thrushes, including the veery. You can listen to them at slow speed to appreciate their musicality and complexity.

http://www.wildmusic.org/animals/thrush

Lafcadio

jesser 9:37 AM  

The writeup and comments today are so spectacular that I have very little to add.

So I'll tell a story about ADOBE.

In 1924, my grandfather bought an ADOBE house at the corner of Miranda and Hadley in Las Cruces, N.M. The house was a steal because it was old, having been built in 1888. When Grandma died in 1962, Mom and Dad and I moved in. My sister arrived in 1963. At some point in the 70s, my Dad decided to add on, so he went to get a mortgage, and he was required to get insurance. He filled out the paperwork, but the New York-based insurance company rejected the application. Their justification? "We don't insure mud houses." Dad wrote a pithy letter and secured insurance elsewhere.

I am pleased to report that my sister and brother-in-law are raising their daughter in that 4,000 square-foot mud house, and it's holding up just fine. ADOBE is good stuff!

Dampl! (what I hope the ground here gets soon. C'mon monsoons!) -- jesser

fikink 9:42 AM  

Whoa! The flap over at Wordplay re: JEWFRO is mighty interesting...apparently, the aristocrats are in fear of the rabble getting over the wall!

@anon 9:33, thanks for the tunes!

@jesser, FIL will like your story re: ADOBE, as he once had land in Santa Fe and spent much time designing an ADOBE house he was going to build there. Thanks.

Beadola 9:44 AM  

I loved this puzzle - lots of smiles. Jewfro surprised me, but in a good way. It brought back happy memories of the time I intensified mine with a perm and turned my hairstyle into a massive Jewfro. Goydome, and the owner of said "hair style" are adorable.

JC66 9:53 AM  

Was this the original JEWFRO?

Jo 9:57 AM  

Always love puzzles with x'es, don't know why and the jewfro is worth it because it gave birth to the goydome.

Sparky 10:09 AM  

Sorry, JEWFRO doesn't make it with me. I am an old knee jerk liberal and we learned giving ethnic names was not a good thing. I didn't like GAYDAR either. I will never use the N word. The "Well, they say it among themselves" doesn't make it right. Aside from that it was a nice puzzle. Why not OXYMORON on a Monday? Is a beginner dumber on a Monday? That's one of those hard words everybody knows and likes to show off about. I better quit while I'm ahead. And don't call me a Mick.

CaseAceFos 10:17 AM  

An absolute gem from "Joltin Joe" Fagliano, to start off the week with a BANG! The usually staid environs over at Wordplay have their natty knickers all in a twist over his insertion of JEWFRO in todays puzzle...oh, I just love seeing their gaudy feathers ruffled! hehehehe

Martin 10:17 AM  

There is nothing more offensive to a Jew than the notion that the word "Jew" is offensive.

Andy 10:22 AM  

As a Jew, I'm the first one to love "Jewish jokes" - at least taseful ones.

But I think that the term "Jewfro" is insulting. I can think of a lot of other unacceptable "labels" that could be put in front of the word "fro" and I assure you if any of them appeared in the NYT puzzle the blogosphere would light up like a Christmas tree (or Hanukkah bush, or Kwanza lamp). Shame on the NYT.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

finally a payoff for being a bird-nerd. Veery very familiar to me, and its song a nostalgic sound from my past, at my family's summer cabin in New Brunswick (Canada, not NJ)

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

What a great Monday!
Loved the theme and the X's.
Because of all of the fun I let embar and laten slide. The rest of the puzzle was worth it.
Mini political theme with Sarah, Obama, Elena, and sic 'em all together. (Elena's confirmation starts today.)
Veery had me scratching my head but I always love to learn something esp. on a Monday.
Being raised in the midwest where the only ethnic diversity came from the Amish I had no way of knowing if Jewfro was a no-no.
It seems playful enough to me.
Thanks Joel F. for a good start to the week.

CaseAceFos 10:45 AM  

Sorry Joel, that I left off the last letter of your first name in my most recent post...you could call me the "Yankee Snipper" for my faux pas? :-)

SethG 11:30 AM  

I did not think this was the best Monday puzzle of the year.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

jewfro surprised me and i had to think if it was offensive in any way. afro is fine. jewfro has a slightly comic take. it is funny and more complex than one would think. i am not offended. this was a fun puzzle for me.

Zeke 11:40 AM  

So, the theme was XAXAX___, or XAXAXA___, or XAXA___ or XAXAYAYA or ??? This inconsistency really, really reduced the elegance for me, and elegance is what a really good Monday is all about.

I'm not sure @Martin has been duly annointed to speak for all Jewry, but I'm pretty sure he is 100% accurate there.

hazel 11:41 AM  

Art G. may have had the first, but nothing beat's Phil Spector's do.

Fine fine Monday puzzle for the reasons stated above. (Plus I like Baba WaWa).

And I just saw last week the sensational Catherine Keener (and IMNSHO the equally sensational Oliver Platt) in Please Give, which I recommend.

mac 11:54 AM  

Guess what color I'm wearing today!

Wonderful puzzle, write-up and comments! Jewfro was a new word to me, as was goydome. Good new look, Rex!

@dk: I also thought 51A should have been Acme, especially crossing "rename".

I think Liev and Naomi aren't married yet.

@chefbea: Nonsense, I've seen photographs. In the 80s you looked like Natalie Wood.

foodie 11:54 AM  

@Seth G, LOL, genius!!!!

OK, we need a third guy with a great photo to complement Rex and Seth. Dreadlocks anyone?

What's the difference between men and women? A sense of humor about hair.

mac 11:56 AM  

@SethG: and I love the color!

Van55 12:12 PM  

Ahhhhhhhh!

I have to confess that I didn't think there was anything much special about this puzzle on completing it and reading the blog. On reflection, though, I think it has great merit. Not only do we have the VAVA, LALA, BABA, etc. of the theme answers, they are complemented with OBAMA crossing PAJAMA and with MAMBA, JABBA, NADA, not to mention ELENA, SARAH, ARIA and AREA. The AHHs have it!

Nice start to the week.

As for JEWFRO, it was new to me and I am totally ambivalent about it.

Greene 12:22 PM  

Enough about the JEWFRO. The real news of the day is Rex's cranium. I keep looking back and forth between his photo and his avatar and I've concluded that he has read so many graphic novels that he is actually morphing into his avatar. This both delights and alarms me and for obvious reasons I am keeping a very close eye on the size of my thumb.

Rex Parker 12:25 PM  

I'm pretty sure my avatar has hair and is wearing some kind of close-fitting metal skull cap.

And dk ... there are other pics of the shaving that show a Lot more Rex shirtlessness, so consider yourself lucky.

rp

Masked and Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Thumbs way way up for the long-awaited goydome-44 pic. Alert the media. Nice shower curtain pattern, BTW. Occurred to me that I have shower curtains older than today's constructor.

Pretty feisty vocab for a MonPuz. Kinda like it like that. Little anemic on yer U's, but had to make room for all yer X's and J's somehow. Well done, son. Thxmbs up.

CaseAceFos 12:41 PM  

"To Baldly Go", Rex, old top... are those shower curtains to your immediate rear, the vinyl solution to this much debated Monday puzzle?

HudsonHawk 12:43 PM  

@mac, nice win for your Oranje!

Loved the Goy-Dome, although I parsed it as Goydo-Me at first.

joho 12:49 PM  

Thanks, @SethG ... love that photo! Just as great as I remembered.

Jeff 12:52 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle! Nice to see a couple of beautiful long non-theme answers, although they were a bit distracting. And super impressive to get so many high-scrabble count letters in, with minimal crap fill (VEERY excepted...).

Bob Kerfuffle 1:32 PM  

Fun puzzle.

Tripped me up briefly on SET LOOSE vs LET LOOSE.

But my real D'oh! moment came with OXYMORON. With VEERY, which I did not know, coming down, I looked a a few empty spaces, and said to myself, "To be confused is not to be oxymoronic." As I said, D'oh!

joe 1:39 PM  

Some people call them Izros.

Nighthawk 1:49 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle but more the writeup, Rex. Particularly the Shirelles clip. I too thought first of MAMATRIED.

@PurpleGuy Fun to see your take on PAJAMAS.

I second @Greene about @foodie's ECHOLALIA and loved the JEWRY being still out from @CaseAceFos.

Missed the mini political theme. Thanks @TwoPonies for pointing that out.

@Anonymous and @mac The Painted Veil, with both LIEV and naomi is one of my favorite movies, beautiful photography, with the bonus of great work by Edward Norton, the incredible Toby Jones, and the icing of the ever alluring Diana Rigg.

Speaking of movies and LIEV, he steals every scene in Ang Lee's warm and funny Taking Woodstock, in which, IIRC, there is a mention of the Michael Lang character's hair being a JEWFRO. Bonuses are great support by Eugene Levy as Max Yasgur, Demetri Martin, Imelda Stanton, and the icing is Mamie Gummer, daughter of Meryl. Echolalia?

Great pic too, @Rex, of the goydome.

Fun start to the week.

retired_chemist 1:52 PM  

What everybody said. Nice fill, which makes overall a pretty challenging Monday.

JEWFRO is and is not offensive. The differing takes on it are interesting.

34A was TWO AM (SIX isn't that early around here). 29A started with CUT, then SET, before crosses fixed it. 18A was MIMEO. 41A was RAID, with DEET in the back of my mind. We are replete with mosquitoes here and MACE had to be forced on me.

Fashion designer for people with sunburns - ALOE VERA WANG.

shrub5 2:02 PM  

@RP, is this your summer do? did you lose a bet? prepping for brain surgery? solidarity with someone undergoing chemo? or were you just curious about your APEX? Inquiring minds want to know!

Puzzle was fun/easy. I did not even notice JEWFRO until I came here as I must have filled it in totally from crosses. New to VEERY -- thanks to those who included info and sounds.

retired_chemist 2:03 PM  

FWIW Urban Dictionary seems not to find JEWFRO pejorative.

gootors - what we will find when the oil spill reaches South Florida.

chefbea 2:16 PM  

@mac LOL!!!

PlantieBea 2:18 PM  

I had an easy enough time with this puzzle, until I got to the last letter-the W in JEWFRO/BABAWAWA--which sent me here to confirm and read Rex and the comments. Yep, it was right and the writeup and comments have not disappointed. Nice photo, Rex.

chefbea 2:18 PM  

A gift for rex

http://www.ecrater.com/p/580306/vintage-c-1938-hair-brush-for-bald-heads

The Big E 2:22 PM  

I wasn't enthralled by this puzzle initially, but I see everyone's point of view regarding new clues and the like. Nevertheless, didn't really excite me! :-(

As for JewFro, I first remember hearing it in "The 40 Year Old Virgin," where the father in the sex clinic (where Andy takes Trish's daughter) said "You think you're cool with your little jewfro? We don't say 'tap that.' What are you talking about Seth?"
(Thank you to the IMDB for helping me get the quote just right!)

So personally, I find it funny and lighthearted!

The Big E 2:26 PM  

Oh, also loved "oxymoron!"
Reminds me of the old joke - a big moron and a little moron were sitting at the edge of a cliff. The big one fell off, but his friend did not. Why?
Cause he was a little more on (get it?)!

Doug 2:56 PM  

1. This was the easiest puzzle I can remember in the daily Times since whenever, and I'm only a medium level solver. Cannot understand what got Rex so stuck that he called it medium-challenging.
2. As a Jew, I can say there's far too much sensitivity and not enough ethnic relaxation-sense-of-humor about this sort of stuff. Especially since rappers and hip-hop blacks use the N word so liberally nowadays.
3. The constructor could have come up with a far more creative clue for OXYMORON, a great word.
4. Any puzzle with both the Shirelles and The Beatles can't be all that bad.

sanfranman59 3:35 PM  

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

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

Mon 7:10, 6:55, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:56, 3:42, 1.07, 85%, Challenging

foodie 4:15 PM  

@shrub,my guess is that Rex did it because it looks Excellent. Andrea's VAVAVOOM, Joho's MaHvelous- all true. This idea of shaving heads if one is balding is fantastic-- sooo much cooler than struggling with it. I mean think what The Donald could have achieved if he'd had the courage. And in the process, Rex has given a whole new meaning to "coming out"-- of the shower.

@Rex, the similarity to your Avatar that both @Greene and I find so striking is not about the hair. The shape of the head, the proportions, the features are really strikingly similar. The goydom do has simply allowed us to focus on them. May be something in your unconscious made you recognize him as you. I feel the same way about my own avatar:)

foodie 4:17 PM  

PS. I meant GoydomE not Goydom

Steve J 4:21 PM  

@Andrea: the very fact that the theme was unnoticeable to me is a big reason I found it dull. I just found -A-A to be a very flimsy hook to hang a concept from. And, as @Zeke mentioned, it was executed quite unevenly at that.

The fill itself was a mixed bag for me. Some of it was indeed fun, some of it was a little tired (I, too, am tired of BABAWAWA).

In short, it just didn't grab me as an engaging theme. To me, a good theme is one that makes me smile or chuckle, or that causes me to recognize something really clever going on. This one didn't do that for me. Some of the fill used for the theme was nice, but the concept itself just fell flat for me.

Tinbeni 5:18 PM  

This was a FUN Monday.
Really liked the themes.

Even though it has been used too often, if I have a puzzle and get to enter the tired BABAWAWA it does get a smile.
Same with VAVAVOOM that this morning LET LOOSE a
STOP IT.

Enjoyed the OXYMORON "Intellectual Discussion" on JEWFRO.

Orange 5:37 PM  

The goydome sucks. Rex, Rex, Rex! Why not go with a classic comb-over? The comb-over is always much hotter than a smooth pate.

But seriously now: You look like a chipper Michael Stipe.

The only way "Jewfro" could be deemed offensive to Jews is if imputing Afro-style hair to someone is an insult or if one thinks the word "Jew" is an insult (or both). If you don't object to Afros and you don't object to Jewish people, then the word is 100% fine, with a bonus of the inherent wordplay whimsy.

Joel 5:38 PM  

Thanks for the comments everybody! Regarding JEWFRO, it wasn’t meant to provoke or offend, and I’m sorry that people thought it crossed the line. However, as a Jew, I use the word all the time, and have never thought of it as a slur in any way, just as a cool word that I wanted to put in a puzzle. As for VEERY, I see and hear them all the time when I’m walking my dog, so it’s not an unknown species to me.

joho 6:02 PM  

Hey, Joel ... a great puzzle always stirs the pot.

I was very happy to learn about VEERY and today I've been wearing my JEWFRO with pride and I'm not even Jewish!

mac 6:31 PM  

@ChefBea: I was being serious! Take another look at the books your daughters made for you.

@Rex: it suddenly struck me that maintaining the bald head is going to take a lot more time than a maybe once-a-month haircut.

Moonchild 7:01 PM  

Great puzzle and thanks Joel for dropping by.
I've never heard of Jewfro but it really cracked me up.
I also laughed at the oxymoron clue.
I guess this all means I had a fun Monday. Quite a bonus on a day when I sometimes skip the puzzle.

As a gal who enjoys being firmly stuck in the 1965-1975 decade I can only say YUCK to the antifro that our fearless (obviously) leader is sporting today.

Give me a head with hair,
long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there hair,
shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
everywhere daddy, daddy
Hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair!

CrazyCatLady 7:10 PM  

Between JEWFRO and Rex's pic, I have been rendered speechless.

Fun Monday puzzle!

JenCT 7:20 PM  

@Joel - enjoyed the puzzle very much; agree about the Veery - I hear them every night around dusk in my corner of CT.

Had to come here to see that JEWFRO was correct; never heard the term, and stared at my puzzle for a while.

Surprised no one's mentioned SARAH - politico is being too kind - I can think of some choice descriptions.

Anonymous 7:25 PM  

@ JenCT, Someone did at 10:39.

Sfingi 7:27 PM  

I was a teenage Motown girlgroup junkie. Loved the Shirelles, Ronettes, Chiffons. Tried to record them on the radio (no available $).

Very scrabbly. 6 x's, 3 j's. Liked it. Was hoping for VuVuzela for VAVAVOOM.

Never heard of LATEN.

JEWFRO. The first one I saw in the media was Bob Dylan's. He tried to straighten it, as did Chubby Checker, etc. My hair is straighter than a Chinaman's. I tried to curl it. I won't shave it.

JenCT 7:44 PM  

@Anonymous 7:25 - ah, so they did. Missed that somehow...

sanfranman59 10:02 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 7:11, 6:55, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:50, 3:41, 1.04, 74%, Medium-Challenging

CaseAceFos 10:08 PM  

Whoa! I attempted to download a pic of myself in a most becoming Eskimofro, but my wireless igloo PC went and Fro's on me!

fikink 10:15 PM  

@JOEL, I am glad to learn the word JEWFRO.

Let the blood of the old be the mortar for the new.




"nodat" - apparently someone disagrees with me

Stan 10:26 PM  

Coming in late... Excellent conversation today.

I thought the puzzle had good fill and snappy clues. Theme not perfectly clear but, hey it's Monday.

Mrs. Stan and I discussed ironed hair, from our youths. A college dorm-mate of mine dried his hair under a nylon stocking every night. He was in a band and wanted John Lennon-style bangs.

I'm thinking the dialectic is:

1950s: Curly hair (natural or permed)

1960s: Straight hair (natural or ironed).

1970s: The worst of both worlds -- Blow-dried hair!

Things have gradually gotten better since...

redcoast 1:01 AM  

Actually, Liev played Catherine Keener's ex, the guy who was addicted to porno and kept borrowing money. And was in a long-distance phone sex relationship with a girl in California. And his dad had Alzheimers. That guy. Sorry, I saw it like two weeks ago.

"Jewfro" makes sense to me; some Jewish people have hair texture very similar to African people. Very, very zig-zag curly.

andrea apex michaels 2:25 AM  

@foodie
I'm loving the Freudian typo goydom!

@joel
Fagliano is Jewish? Who knew? (I feel like we've discussed your last name before, and I'll bet you put up with your fair share of teasing)
Could a VEERY make a nest in your JEWFRO...and is Jewfro capitalized?
Loved your puzzle, man...
I am gaga over it!

alanrichard 6:43 AM  

Weren't ALL the Founding Fathers NOT born in the continental United States - because the Continental United States did not exist when they were born!

David 3:23 PM  

Didn't have terribly strong feelings about the puzzle generally, but wanted to weigh in as pro-JEWFRO. Like Joel, I use the word regularly, and have casually treated it as an accepted term for years now. For me, seeing it in the puzzle was a welcome surprise, as a fun word I'm familiar with.

Then again, I'm writing this post while wearing a "Goy? Fine By Me" shirt, so I might not be quite mainstream...

CrazyCatLady 9:01 PM  

I think the Shirelles were more of a Philly soul group than a Motown group. What a great video!

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Sorry, but pace Joel Fafliano and Will Shortz, the use of JEWFRO in today's puzzle surely is controversial. I mean JEW'S HARP is an ok term for the instrument but TO JEW, for example, or even TO GYP, are extremely pejorative terms. When ethnicity enters the language, all bets are off.
Demi GoyJew

Waxy in Montreal 2:25 PM  

Sometimes waiting 5 weeks for the syndicate actually pays off. To whit today, as I'd never heard of VERA WANG until this past weekend when she was famously revealed as the designer of Chelsea Clinton's wedding gown. Made 19A a gimme.

Red state DEMOCRAT 9:57 AM  

25A: Liev Schreiber Rex if you watch CSI:Las Vegas regularly you will remember him as Keppler. He had a 4 episode arc in 2007. He was also a ex-con in Twilight (1998) Starring Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon & Gene Hackman.

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