Agent Swifty / WED 7-14-10 / Turned right like Dobbin / Bested at Nathan's on July 4 / Roger that sayer / Classic Sinatra topper

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Constructor: Michael Black

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Ironic scheduling — phrases that play on the fact that certain three-letter abbrevs. for days of the week are also real words (SUN, WED, SAT); "irony" created by pairing the abbrev-turned-word with a different (adjacent) day of the week; thus:

  • 20A: Ironic weather forecast? (SUN ON MONDAY)
  • 33A: Ironic marriage plan? (WED ON THURSDAY)
  • 50A: Ironic exam schedule? (SAT ON FRIDAY)

Word of the Day:
Swifty LAZAR (56A: Agent Swifty) —

Irving Paul "Swifty" Lazar (March 28, 1907 – December 30, 1993) was a talent agent and deal-maker, representing both movie stars and authors. // Born as Samuel Lazar in Brooklyn, New York, he graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1931. While practicing bankruptcy law during the early-1930s, he negotiated a business deal for a vaudeville performer and realized the income potential for acting as an agent. // He moved to Hollywood in 1936 but maintained a presence in New York until after World War II when he moved to Los Angeles permanently. After putting together three major deals for Humphrey Bogart in a single day, he was dubbed "Swifty" by Bogart. The moniker stuck but was a name he actually disliked. // In addition to Bogart, Lazar became the agent representing the top tier of celebrities, including Lauren Bacall, Truman Capote, Cher, Joan Collins, Noel Coward, Ira Gershwin, Cary Grant, Moss Hart, Ernest Hemingway, Gene Kelly, Madonna, Walter Matthau, Larry McMurtry, Vladimir Nabokov, Clifford Odets, Cole Porter, William Saroyan, Irwin Shaw, President Richard Nixon and Tennessee Williams. Lazar's power became such that he could negotiate a deal for someone who was not even his client and then collect a fee from that person's agent. (wikipedia)

• • •

Whoa, this was easy. Did it on paper, so can't make any comparisons, time-wise, to my other Wednesdays, but I just kept writing and never stopped, despite initial confusion about the nature of the theme. I think I got SAT ON FRIDAY first, then noticed WED ... and figured it must be ON someDAY, and proceeded from there. This is about the weirdest theme I've seen in a while. VERY thin (35 squares!?) but whimsical in this nutty way that I kind of like. The "ironic" days are at least all adjacent to the abbrev. day, so there's a *kind* of theme consistency there. I'll take this over a forced, wobbly, or overly cutesy theme any day. Small infelicities abound, the worst of which could be titled "When GEED (23D: Turned right, to Dobbin) met SHR (20D: Stock unit: Abbr.)." Yipes. Lesser ughs include PINER, LATENS, and the dreaded NFLER (48D: Buc or Niner — in a puzzle that's already got CBER (1A: "Roger that" sayer) and —much better, but still related— DJED; if only RVER had shown up, we'd have had a real ridiculous letter-based identity party). But the grid shape is unusual and the corners big and bright, and in the end, we have a fun, harmless puzzle.

What else? Never heard (that I can remember) of Swifty LAZAR, which is odd, as he appears to have represented everyone who was anyone in mid-century America. When I saw [Agent Swifty], I assumed the answer was TOM, figuring there must be a real-life eponym for this type of word play. But no. Nothing else in the grid was unfamiliar. Nathan's hot dog-eating contest just happened, with much controversy — Japanese great Kobayashi got arrested as he tried to storm the stage; he wasn't participating because of his refusal to sign a contract that would have barred him from competitive eating events outside the purview of Major League Eating. I'm pretty sure I learned all this on ESPN, which somehow covers this "sport." This is a long way of saying I got OUTATE instantly (11D: Bested at Nathan's on July 4, e.g.).

  • 15A: Mixologist's instruction (POUR) — this, and 5D: Boss's good news (BONUS) confused me, in that I had no idea who the interlocutor was supposed to be in both instances. Shouldn't the mixologist be pouring? Or is he teaching a class on mixology, and therefore instructing? Also, is the boss's good news for his wife ("Hey, honey, I got a bonus!") or his employee? Seems like bosses are at least as likely to get a bonus as to give one.
  • 17A: Finland-based communication giant (NOKIA) — remember reading an article a long time ago about what a high percentage of Finnish people had cell phones. Really hope they don't end up with a high percentage of brain tumors.
  • 45A: "Making something out of nothing and selling it," per Frank Zappa (ART) — great clue, though I initially wrote in ADS here.
  • 49A: Classic Sinatra topper (FEDORA) — Good clue might have been [It SAT ON FRIDAY] (see pic, above). Classic Sinatra topper = also classic detective topper = also topper for Sinatra when he played a detective in, for example, "The Detective" (1968), or "Tony Rome" (1967):

[Sue Lyon!? I always wondered what she ever did besides "Lolita"]

  • 26D: Midrange Volkswagen (JETTA) — try googling that clue in quotation marks. I get exactly four returns. Is "midrange" a price thing? Sounds like a price thing.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. My friends at Taza Chocolate (Somerville, MA) recently had their factory severely damaged by flash floods (uncovered by ins., shockingly...). If you enjoy fine chocolate, or know someone who does, please buy all the chocolate you can. It is the best stuff in the world. I wouldn't push it on you if it weren't in my own house (in my stomach as we speak, actually — just got a new shipment yesterday). Thanks.

Here's a story about the flooding: FLOODING
Here's the Taza website: TAZA CHOCOLATE


PurpleGuy 12:24 AM  

Immediately thought of @Jesser and his yellow WH for 39A. Good shout out.

I think it's probably just me, but I was just slightly irked that the first two theme answers were in weekly order, but the last one was reverse. Just sayin'. Yes they are consecutive in a way.

Otherwise my experience was the same as @Rex. Once I started this puppy, it went down fast. No real hangups or WTF's.
Just loved THIGHS across from SVELTE.
BABAS made me think of @chefwen and @foodie.

Nice puzzle Michael Black !
The arrangement of the black squares in the grid reminded me of the old Atari game Space Invaders.
Anyone else ?

I will toast @Tinbeni as I POUR some Johnny Walker Green for my 103 yr. old mom and myself.
"A Votre Santi !" my friend.

Have a great hump day all. Shanti !!


chefwen 12:35 AM  

@PurpleGuy - BABAS was my first fill.

This island is crawling with yellow JEEPS (very popular rental) and every time I see one I say "there goes another jesser mobile", red ones are also popular, then I say "wrong color".

MON easy puzzle falling on a WED again. Whipped through this puppy like nobodies business, even tried to slow myself down to make it last longer but I was done before I knew it.

ovastr - new kind of caviar

Tobias 12:38 AM  

Having never heard of Babas or Biko, I ended up with a big fat ERROR!ugg
As a newish solver, I dont mind getting errors or Fri or Sat, but dang it I had myself figured for a solid Thursday man. And now Rex gives me nice sprinkle of salt in my fresh wound with a rating of easy. Tripple dang damn-it!

Steve J 2:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 2:29 AM  

Who knew Alanis Morisette was constructing crosswords.

(For those not getting the reference, she's famous for a song with the refrain "Isn't it ironic" in which precisely zero of the examples she offered in the song were exhibiting any actual irony.)

The theme was reasonably clever, but it was poorly clued. There's nothing ironic about any of these. They're coincidental. Coincidence (which is what Alanis' song is full of) and irony are not at all the same thing. Even if that's how the term has commonly come to be misused.

Found much of the southeast to all be oddly anachronistic. I'm 40, and 45s were a relic when I was a kid. DJs have spun 12-inch vinyl most of my life (and these days they're as likely to be "spinning" off their MacBook as anything else). I find it slightly disturbing to realize that the MASH finale (with Hawkeye, Radar and their JEEP) aired nearly 30 years ago now. JFK killed the FEDORA, at least apocryphally. Wanted a playground for PLAYSET.

Blew through this in what has to be record Wednesday time for me. Which is not ironic. It just is. Like the theme answers.

BTW, people dye poodles? Even more reason to dislike that breed. Although, truthfully, it's more reason to dislike poodle owners. As annoying as that breed is, they shouldn't be faulted for the stupid things some of their owners do to them.

SethG 4:30 AM  

I like the word SVELTE, Tina FEY, and FEDORAS. I don't like CHEETOS, BAD THROWS, or dyed POODLES.


andrea Q michaels 5:00 AM  

Fun, kooky theme! Loved it.
I too was thrown by the non-consecutiveness, so wrote SATONsunDAY...
but that would have had Sunday twice in the puzzle.
If it's Tuesday it must, where is Tuesday? Poor Tuesday.
@stevej is it ironic that I did this Wed puzzle on Tuesday night?

As it LATENS (?), I'm still loving the theme plus the sprinkling of X's, J's, and a Z.
(Q must be hanging out with Tuesday)

Liked the Mini-SNL old school and new (NEALON/FEY)
and frequent host ERICIDLE on top.

And some baseball for the boys: BADTHROW (is that a thing?) and TATERS (??!)

Netflix (Netflick?) Denzel W. in "Cry, Freedom", you won't be sorry.

Parshutr 6:19 AM  

Yes, very easy, most enjoyable for its plethora of noncrosswordese (feral, oxide, axon, xrayed, ktl) in the fill.

Anonymous 6:23 AM  

Somebody break it to Tobias that it's Wednesday.

Um, Rex, Sinatra was NOT Joe Friday; that was Jack Webb. Sadly, the two detective movies you named were both seriously lame schlock. Frankie wore fedoras long before then.

SethG 6:56 AM  

Um, Anonymous, look at the other picture. And try a little tenderness.

Leslie 7:10 AM  

Swifty LAZAR is a great name. ("Evander Holyfield" is my favorite name ever, but Swifty's got a good one there.)

As a child, I thought Sinatra's FEDORA was painfully dweeby-looking. Disliked them then, dislike them now on hipsters who are wearing them ironically.

I'm going to have to Google Nellie BLY, since that name comes up fairly often.

In my head, "adit" and ADIN want to occupy the same space.

Jo 7:25 AM  

Easy enough, although I made error in 42 down, being unfamiliar with SNL alum Kevin, hence had SIT, did not get the "ironies." Now that I see them, agree with Steve J that there is nothing ironic here. Confusing. BABA is short for Baba au rum I believe, a rum-soaked cake; never had it, never made it, only encounter it in crosswords. Steve Biko is a famous martyr of the apartheid era in South Africa.

David 7:26 AM  

Where's the Q?

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

fairly easy and quick solve overall (even at 1:30 am after finishing a late work shift), but if you don't know "Nealor", then you can put in "Neilor" and "sit" on sunday sounds...just as plausible as "sat". hmmmm

Rex Parker 7:56 AM  

If you can find me the place where I say Sinatra was Joe Friday, I'll take it back.

Zeke 8:13 AM  

After the first them entry, I thought they were going to be truly ironic, in that MONDAY derives from Moon day, so Sun on MOON day has a degree of irony. Couldn't find the iron in Wed on THORs day, so that went out the window.
Probably easiest Wed ever.

Tuesday 8:17 AM  

What am I, chopped liver?

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

@sethG: thanks for the link. those poor dogs are hilarious.

@steve J: in the last year or so i've bumped into not one, but TWO poodle owners who are fanatics about poodles. they insist that the reputation about poodles being annoying comes from the toy kind...yappy and temperamental, whereas, according to them, the standard poodle is THE smartest dog there is. (IMHO, even the smartest dog on the planet isn't as smart as the dumbest cat, but that is just my anecdotal opinion). anyway, standard poodles (the ones dyed in sethG's link) are actually mild compared to the toy variety (which i don't think are related, but i could be wrong).

the BABAS/BIKO cross was the only stopper for me. i don't eat many cakes with a kick and i'm really bad with author names...stephen's last name could have been just about i guessed RIKO. it was wrongo.

otherwise, i finished this puzzle in bed before i fell asleep which means it was like a monday or tuesday...

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

one last thing...the term "ironic" is hotly debated. can anyone here concisely describe what irony is...and how it isn't just coincidence?

PIX 8:44 AM  

A neural transmitter (usually written as neurotransmitter) is a sustance sent from one nerve cell to another nerve cell, as a form of communication between the two cells. An axon is the part of the nerve cell that releases the neurotransmitter...

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Peter Gabriel's plaintive but beautiful song "Biko" is a good place to begin learning about Stephen Biko and the apartheid tragedy that he personifies.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

@Pix - and when sending Morse code, it is actually electricity which travels from one end point to another, but everyone in the world would say the Key was the transmitter. That's probably why the clue was Neural transmitter, not neurotransmitter. They're different things.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:00 AM  

Fun puzzle.

No reflection on the puzzle, but 10 A reminds me of my favorite blessing for my enemies: "Pox vobiscum."

Or should I write: "Pox [sic] vobiscum"?

chefbea 9:04 AM  

Easy fun Wed-day puzzle with a nice meal included

Appetizer = cheetos
Entree = thighs
Dessert = Baba

Tobias 9:11 AM  

Andrea, I will do just that!Thanks

dk 9:13 AM  

Thanks for all the Birthday greetings. I was at about 12,500 feet (Mt. Sneffles) in the Yankee Boy Basin (Ouray, CO). Alas no wi-fi and the Marmots don't get the NY Times.

This puzzle cleared the Wednesday bar. Never heard of TATERS only baggers.

For some reason we got the Hollywood Reporter when I was in my tweens and early teens so LAZAR was a gimmie along with FEDORA.

Sinatra was never Joe Friday but he was a Pal Joey.

** (2 Stars) cute theme

PurpleGuy 9:15 AM  

OMG- I'm in trouble !
Mom is mad because I added a year to her age.
She's "only" 102 !!!!!

Guess I need another Johnny Walker Green.
or maybe some of @Jesser's bourbon !

Now I've got to atone my error the rest of the day.
Have a good one y'all.


joho 9:23 AM  

Easy, breezy Wednesday that solved like a Monday. Fresh theme, too.

Thanks, Michael Black!

JenCT 9:50 AM  

Easy for me, too.

Never heard the term TATERS.

Knew Swifty LAZAR, though.

All too familiar with AXON troubles. :-)

diane 10:06 AM  

Irony: when an action causes the opposite of the desired outcome.

However isn't it ironic that "Isn't it Ironic" has no irony in it? Maybe that IS the desired outcome ...


King Hog 10:29 AM  

As the president of the Porkhouse Gluttons, a franchise in the Independent League of Competitive Eating, I want to thank you for bringing to light the tyranical and anticompetitive actions of the so-called "Major League Eating" cartel. Their shortsighted actions protecting their "franchise" in fact diminishes it, and prevents competitive eating from becoming the truly Major League sport it was destined to become.
We have expanded the sport beyond mere hot-dogs, to include sliders, and our specialty, pulled barbequed pork sandwitches, as well as the mundane, and frankly trite, blueberry pies.
Any continued help in this endeavor would be greatly appreciated.
Happy Eating!
King Hog

Van55 10:34 AM  

Do we really need a reminder of the ugliness of apartheid in the NYT crossword??? ;-)

Didn't care for SSGT or NHLER, but otherwise enjoyed the puzzle. Agree with the perception that it was easier than this week's Monday and Tuesday entries.

archaeoprof 10:40 AM  

Quirky, fresh puzzle! Many answers were off the beaten track, but still gettable.

NEALON and FEY: why does SNL lead to further success for some, and not for others?

@Andrea Q Michaels: I SATONsunDAY too.

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

Any puzzle with a quote from Frank Zappa makes my day.
Throw in some SNL and Monty Python and I'm even more happy.
Anon 8:50 I also thought immediately of Peter Gabriel at 7D.
I don't see the irony but it doesn't spoil the fun I had.
@ PurpleGuy, Man you'd better run for cover. Never mess with a lady's age.

Two Ponies 10:48 AM  

@Van55, You are such an imp!
I love it.

Wade 10:56 AM  

An example of irony would be if you left your job but kept your insurance through COBRA, then got bit by a cobra and found it wasn't covered. Or if it rained on Thursday and that was your wedding day.

jesser 11:09 AM  

I was having one of THOSE mornings. Got up and stepped in cat vomit on the way to the shower. Waiting for a 12-mile train to pass prevented me from getting to work on time. WH idled and Jackson Browne was interrupted by a test of the emergency alert system. ETC.

By the time I finally got to the puzzle, I was grumpy as all get out. My grumpiness was exacerbated by GEED, which is lame, but then 39A made me start to grin... a little. The dyed POODLE made me laugh. ERIC IDLE made me happier still. Kevin NEALON on 'Weeds' is brilliant, and funny beyond measure. So I REDID my damn mood, and came here to find shoutouts from both @Purple Guy and @Chefwen.

This may be an all right day, after all.

Thanks, Rex and the Rexites!

Yandbme! (Turned left, like Dobbin) -- jesser

PuzzleNut 11:12 AM  

Great comments all around. Not much to add, but started with SATONsunDAY like @andrea because that is what it should have been.

obomme - French wind player

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

A lot of dried fruits are irony.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Never heard of Nealon - I guessed that SNL might have had a Slav of some sort at one time (maybe a relative of one of the "wild & crazy guys?") and tried "NEALOV." This made the "Helpful connections" - IVS - which I thought was very clever. Unfortunately, also very wrong! E cosi la vita.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Leady on Monday.
Irony today.

CaseAce 12:13 PM  

My FEDORA is off to MICHAEL for finishing in the BLACK with this Wednesday winner. As a 1A is prone to announcing, it was "A big Ten-Four, good buddy!'

Glitch 12:20 PM  

IRONIC: Characterized by often poignant difference or incongruity between what is expected and what actually is; []

As in, "Isn't it ironic that the theme clues/answers weren't?"


Tinbeni 12:34 PM  

@Purple Guy
From the LAT, a TOAST to you and Mom.
I think she gets an extra POUR today.

Nice to see the THIGHS were SVELTE.

But ACNE and POX in the same grid? What an ugly sight.

This was an easy Tuesday published a day late.

Doc John 12:34 PM  

Did not like this puzzle.
Anonymous beat me to the "Biko" reference by Peter Gabriel.
Also Sinatra is wearing a homburg in the photo, not a fedora.

P.S. For my San Diego friends, the wind ensemble in which I play is having a free concert at the Balboa Park Organ Pavilion tonight. Hope to see you there- look for the guy with the small tuba. (But size isn't everything!)

Shamik 12:39 PM  

Ahhhh....happy to be back from a lovely backpacking trip and a workday to do a puzzle for the first time in days...only to find the easiest Thursday puzzle...EVER. And a total meh. Even ERICIDLE couldn't bring this one from apathy. Best things about the whole puzzle were JEEP and the attractive grid.

LATENS? Really? Has anyone really used that word in the last 100 years?

My captcha: pyradrec....dreck that should be torched.

Shamik 12:40 PM  

Ooops....easiest Wednesday puzzle. Time off changes what day it is in your head.

Rex Parker 12:42 PM  

No one said Sinatra was wearing a FEDORA in that first pic. It's not even implied (i.e not next to my discussion of FEDORA). That's Sinatra portraying ... NATHAN Detroit.

I'm getting lots o' perturbed mail from hat dorks.


CaseAce 1:06 PM  

Rex, you not implying that I fall into the category of a "Hat Dork" are you? If so, I resemble that remark! LOL

Rex Parker 1:08 PM  

Like JEWFRO, "dork" is something I would never use with true pejorative intent. Pot/kettle issues surrounding "dork."

The Big E 1:09 PM  

@Steve J - I agree wholeheartedly that there is no "irony" anywhere in this puzzle.
And for those who have made feeble attempts here to define irony, let me remind you all that there are different forms of irony. In the case of the first clue, Sun on Monday is NOT ironic. What IS ironic is NO SUN on SUNday. For the second clue, being WED on Thursday is NOT ironic. Being divorced on WEDnesday might be...
(Alanis should be forbidden from EVER singing that song again, and all copies or records of it should be destroyed forever)
Another example: A person named Jonah who dies being swallowed by a whale? That's ironic!

And another problem that I have with this puzzle is that looking at the three clues (terrible wording about "irony" aside), the third clue not only has the problem of going backwards instead of forwards as the other two did (Sun to Mon and Wed to Thur), but SAT is an acronym, not a word, and is not pronounced "SAT," but "S-A-T!"

Aside from being HORRENDOUSLY easy for a Wednesday, I thought this was a very poorly constructed/clued puzzle!

Ok, that's my rant for today! :-)

Happy puzzling, y'all!

The Big E 1:10 PM  

Sorry if I bothered anyone by using CAPS as much as I did, too! My bad... bad habit! :-)

Tom 1:16 PM  

No problem with Babas as "cakes with a kick." Have I missed something at the bakery? And the photo of Sinatra from Guys & Dolls shows him wearing a homburg not a fedora.

Tobias 1:47 PM  

Let me try to clear up some of this hat confusion. The hat in question is actually a hybrid available for a short time from Delmonico called the Homdora executive.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

"Sat" as used in the puzzle is not "S.A.T." but is in fact . . . "sat." As in sitting for an exam.

andrea monday michaels 1:59 PM  

@big E
I don't think the SAT was for S-A-T, the term is you sit for an exam, you take an exam. Does that make it better?
AND your CAPS did NOT bother ME at ALL!!! ;)

Welcome back! But if you think THIS is a MEH puzzle, you may need more vacation! You shoulda been around yesterday and the day before!

and speaking of welcome back,
@dk no prurient comments about SVELTE THIGHS running thru the middle of the grid???!!! Did your inner 12 yr old turn 13?!!!

I know you are being ironic (?!) and jabbing the p.c. police a bit, but mentioning a martyr and champion of Apartheid is not the same (to me) as folks not being thrilled to see NIGHTRIDER mentioned so casually and not in context.
That said, I have to say I learned a lot yesterday as I knew not about the Klan connection till I came here yesterday.
So, I guess the bottom line is that it's learning all around.

Wouldn't that have been fun if Michael Black had snuck WELD into the puzzle somehow?

@anon 11:48
IVS! That is SO much better an answer!

I hear your mom shaved a couple of years off her age in her forties and is really 104!

The Big E 2:00 PM  

@Anonymous - if in fact it was meant as "sat on friday" (past tense of sit), then the answer is particularly bad. It would be SO obscure and arcane as to make the overall puzzle even worse.
I will trust that is was supposed to be S.A.T. on Friday and continue my assertion that the big answers were horribly clued.

shrub5 2:03 PM  

Smooth solve, just one detour where I put thin as ARail before AREED. Always hesitate at ASSISI trying to remember if the double S is first or second.

Never heard of TATERS relative to baseball, except maybe at the concession stands ... but I don't follow the sport too closely.

Those decorated POODLEs are something else. I can't help but figure some are thinking "how humiliating, get me out of here."

Well, that's it for now -- the day LATENS and I have much to do.

The Big E 2:06 PM  

@Andrea - maybe it is where I grew up (DC) and the fact that I never heard anyone say anything but "take an exam," but I think "sit for an exam" is just off. Is it British colloquialism? If so, shouldn't the clue have indicated something to that effect?
I still don't like it :-(

(Maybe I'm just having a blech day at work and my mood is showing - wouldn't be the first time!) :-)

chefbea 2:21 PM  

I'm going with S.A.T.

andrea swifty michaels 2:54 PM  

I'm off to see Foodie who is in for one of her conferences...and to pay her off for the myriad compliments ;)

Wasn't Swifty Lazar the one who held THE after-Oscar party every year at Spago's? And that was THE place to be to see and be seen and to show off your Oscars and to broker future deals. I suppose now it's the Vanity Fair one.

Rube 2:58 PM  

I definitely enjoyed this puzzle. Kept getting interrupted so couldn't really say how easy it was. Writeovers were SUNONsuNDAY and AddED for ANTED. ANTED is a strange looking word. ANTE is fine, but ANTED?

We had TATERS a few months back either here or the LAT. (Almost) no one knew the term then either.

I once read about a spelunker who always carried an emergency bag of Cheetos when in caves. Not for eating, but in case his flashlight failed. For apparently Cheetos burn slowly and give off enough light that you can see where you're going. Haven't tried this myself 'cause I haven't had the opportunity. Nor do I crawl around in caves.

ArtLvr 3:12 PM  

@ Tobias -- I'm just catching up, but did anyone mention here that TOBIT means Tobias? Neat.

@ Rex, I was sorry to hear of your friends' flood -- I'm dealing with a flood too in part of my basement. Ugh.

I think this another NYT debut today, and would thus congratulate Michael on a clever theme! "Sat for an exam" was no problem, though mainly a British usage. The SATs, on which I worked ages ago in the Test Development Division at ETS, were never referred to as exams...


submariner 3:16 PM  

Even at 90 degrees in the room couldn't work up a sweat.

52D Izod not preppy. They used to make Lacoste "alligator" shirts under license, but haven't for years. Lacoste label is the one you are looking for.

sanfranman59 3:17 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 9:32, 11:46, 0.81, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 4:54, 5:47, 0.85, 11%, Easy

The Big E 3:26 PM  

@submariner - Izod has in the past been considered to be preppy, and even today has a Luxury Sports line which is VERY preppy.
Clue works, imo.

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

@The Big E: Try reserving caps for puzzle entries (as most everyone here does) and <I>italics</I> for emphasis. It sound less like SHOUTING that way. :-)

BTW, just typing <I>italics</I> and getting it right the first time is fun!

Mystified 4:35 PM  

@Parshutr said...

Yes, very easy, most enjoyable for its plethora of noncrosswordese (feral, oxide, axon, xrayed, ktl) in the fill.


Nathaniel 4:37 PM  

Dramatic Irony


Definition: Dramatic irony is when the words and actions of the characters of a work of literature have a different meaning for the reader than they do for the characters. This is the result of the reader having a greater knowledge than the characters themselves.


In Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," when Hester is in the governor's garden to see to it that Pearl is not taken away from her, she asks the Reverend Dimmesdale to support her position. This is an example of dramatic irony as the reader knows that Dimmesdale and Hester are partners in sin, but the characters do not.

JenCT 4:53 PM  

@Rube - makes you wonder just what the hell is in those Cheetos...

The Big E 4:54 PM  

@anonymous 4:31 - point taken! I even said that earlier when I was really shouting! Not sure if I have ever been able to get the proper syntax down for doing HTML, but I tried again! let's see if it works!

Steve J 5:47 PM  

@aw, come on: I nearly did a spit take on "irony" meaning "having the characteristics of iron."

The allusion to Monday's LEADY reminds me of one other reaction I had last night while solving the Wednesday puzzle: things like LEADY and PINER (one bit of painful fill today) demonstrate the truth of the adage "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."

I'm somewhat surprised that TATER is apparently rather obscure baseball slang. I remember running across it quite a bit as a kid, when I watched baseball religiously and read accounts of the games every day in the newspaper. (And, if wiki is to be believed, TATER started appearing in the '70s, so that could explain why I picked this one up quickly, since my childhood baseball infatuation and the term's heyday coincided.) I think it's largely faded away by now, which is why I'm only somewhat surprised.

Anon 11:54 7:08 PM  

@ Steve J, The leady/irony joke
was what I was trying to say.

joho 8:00 PM  

@JenCT ... I was thinking the same thing. Cheetos must be be related to Twinkies.

Here goes Anon. 4:31 ... Cheetos

Hey, that was fun!

Anon 8:08 8:08 PM  

@Anon 11:54, 11:22 got there first.

Sfingi 10:27 PM  

The only trouble I had was the theme.
I had fUNONMONDAT, WEDONTHURSDAY, SExONFRIDAY. That's cause I didn't know TATER (sports - I even asked Hubster, so I guessed TAxER) or SHR. I thought maybe it was one of those Edward Lear things.

Solomon Grundy
Born on Monday
Christened on Tuesday
Married on Wednesday
Took ill on Thursday
Worse on Friday
Died on Saturday
Buried on Sunday
And that was the end on Solomon Grundy.

@Tues - no you are not. Maybe if you were there, I coulda, woulda got it.

In the mini-theme - 3 ways to think about skinny - SVELTE, AREED, GAUNT, I had ARail first.

Any book you read on Sinatra features Swifty LAZAR.

PINER, NFLER, ANTED and REDID are cheesy, like CHEETOS. "Use ER and RE sparingly." Is that a NYT CW rule? Should be.

By the way, CHEETOS are cheesy and orange. Does anyone remember a candy that was shaped like a large peanut, orange-colored, and tasted like a banana?

Always showed Cry Freedom to my class.

@Rube - Now if you eat the Cheetos and breath out, can you use your mouth as a flashlight?

@Anon623 - Does it do any good if I tell you, "Don't be mean." ?

@Anon431 - Thanx I'll have to try that.

Eeek 11:01 PM  

Perhaps the irony is that this is a Tuesday puzzle on Wednesday?

Stan 11:34 PM  

An enjoyable puzzle with a non-tired theme. The NYT site gave it a Freshness Factor in the 97th percentile for Wednesday puzzles. Not that the statistic means anything, but there was something lively and unexpected about this one. Thanks Michael!

Also, the irony / leady comments were great!

shrub5 11:58 PM  

@Sfingi: yes, I remember that candy -- Circus Peanuts. I didn't like them but my sister did. They are still available.

From the Straight Dope website --

Sample comments about Circus Peanuts:

"Ewwwww! I tried one once. It was like eating a dead finger."

"They taste like they're stale even when they're fresh."

"Like orange-flavored Styrofoam."

"I think they are the horror that is the circus, that flat tin taste of fear and clowns and little lost children amid the cotton candy stink and the piles of elephant doo-doo and the clamor of the midway and the tinny sound of the circus band endlessly wheezing its way through yet another soulless circus fanfare."

"My assistant Jane found that the few stray Circus Peanut molecules escaping from an unopened package made her gag."

"Yeah, I like them. When they get hard enough you can use them for building material."

Jameson 9:22 AM  

Irony involves a third person (or more) acting as an audience -- either an actual person or an implied person -- who can recognize that words (or actions) being said (or done) also have a meaning that is different from the straight-forward or literal meaning. It can be simple -- as when one rolls one's eyes and says "Yeah, right." or it can be complex -- as when Oedipus, who once killed a man, limps around while looking for a killer with a limp.

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