Site of London's Great Exhibition of 1851 / TUE 7-20-10 / Medallioned vehicle / Loonlike bird / Electrician's alloy

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: BILLY (68A: Name associated with the starts of 17-, 27-, 48- and 64-Across) — actually, "BILLY" is the first name that goes with the last names represented by said "starts":

BILLY OCEAN (17A: Davy Jones's locker => OCEAN BOTTOM)

BILLY GRAHAM (27A: S'more ingredient => GRAHAM CRACKER)

BILLY CRYSTAL (48A: Site of London's Great Exhibition of 1851 => CRYSTAL PALACE)

BILLY IDOL (64A: Veneration of a cult image => IDOL WORSHIP)

Billy Idol - Dancing With Myself

Word of the Day: Jennifer EHLE (60D: "Pride and Prejudice" actress Jennifer) —
Jennifer Ehle (pronounced /ˈiːliː/; born December 29, 1969) is a two-time Tony Award-winning British-American actress of stage and screen. She is probably best known for her starring role as Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 mini-series Pride and Prejudice. [...] [She won the] Best Performance by a Leading Actress Tony Award for her 2000 Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing. (wikipedia)
• • •
Started out very fast, and then got slowed down when

  1. I wrote in BOWER for ARBOR (12D: Shady area);
  2. I hit a theme answer I just didn't know: CRYSTAL PALACE (never heard of it) (48A: Site of London's Great Exhibition of 1851); and...
  3. I hit EHLE, a name that just made me stare in disbelief. I only just (resentfully) committed actress Kathryn ERBE's name to memory. Please don't tell me this one's going to be a repeater too. This is what happens when you try to stuff BILLY right up underneath WORSHIP like that. Gives you LASSIE, but it also gives you EHLE. When it comes to EHL- names, I'll take EHLO any day. He's famous! For this:

So I ended with a very average Tuesday time—about the same time yesterday's tougher-than-average puzzle took me. Not much else to say about this one. Those are some BILLYs alright. Strangest thing about the grid is the placement of BILLY, one step up from the position in which one would expect to find the theme revealer (i.e. the final Across answer). Only reason (that I can see) to have put BILLY here is to avoid a terminal "I" at 51-Down.

  • 11A: Medallioned vehicle (CAB) — "Medallioned" is not a word you see very often. Cabs that are not medallioned are sometimes referred to as "GYPsy cabs" — ethnic slur to some, non-pejorative slang to others (44D: Cheat, in 43-Across (SLANG)).
  • 52A: Yucky, in baby talk (ICKY POO) — irksome, ugly word. This is adult baby talk, a fake baby talk I find repulsive.
  • 43A: All ___ is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry": G.K. Chesterton (SLANG) — that's a slippery slope, G. K.
  • 11D: Rags-to-riches heroine (CINDERELLA) — strange, but hard as it may be to believe, "CINDERELLA" never struck me as a "rags-to-riches" story, though clearly she is in rags, of a kind, in the beginning, and she becomes a princess by the end, so the tag, like the shoe, fits. Rags-to-riches = Horatio Alger, in my mind. I do kind of like this way of looking at "CINDERELLA"—deromanticizes it a bit.
  • 50D: Ineligible for kiddie prices, say (TOO OLD) — I wonder how far you could extend the "TOO ___" answer. TOO YOUNG? TOO FAT? TOO LOUD? Not that I don't like the answer.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Rube 12:22 AM  

Not too much to say about this Mondayish puzzle except that it was a pleasant diversion. No new words except for Jennifer EHLE and ITALO Calvino. Suppose I should have heard of Calvino, but no. Did misspell KLATCH, but no biggee. The G. K. Chesterton quote is mildly interesting, but I doubt that I will use it in everyday conversation. There is a shoutout to @Tinbeni at 39A, of course, and NIPPER(S) continues the issue of RCA raised yesterday.

Did have one writeover, OCEANsfloor for OCEANBOTTOM. Just started going too fast. Looking forward to s'mores at Lake Powell in two weeks -- tradition.

Oh, never heard of BILLY OCEAN, but that's normal for me and pop people, although he is only slightly younger than me, per Wiki. I think I've heard of BILLY IDOL, but could not place him. Rock star, eh. 'Coulda fooled me.

PurpleGuy 12:53 AM  

This puzzle went down soothly. Kind of like @Tinbeni's avatar!! Mom likes her Johnny Walker Green neat !!
I'm wondering if that is part of the longevity ?

Glad to see Jennifer EHLE as the WOTD. Got her from the crosses. That was the only sluggish spot.

Thanks for the BILLY Idol clip. Would have preferred "Rebel Yell," or "White Wedding." They'rer on the music list they play for mw at my Saturday Japanese restaurant. Yes, they save a table for me .

Another good write up @Rex. Made me laugh.
I needed it, since I just sang at a memorial service for a friend.

captcha: disgraf- bad mouth the tennis player !!!

Happy Tuesday all. A toast to @Tinbeni from
mom and me !!

CaseAce 1:04 AM  

Oops! It appears my mind was in an X rated mode as I inadvertently typed in NIPPLES for bad!

retired_chemist 1:10 AM  

A mid-range Tuesday puzzle indeed. Wanted MARSHMALLOWS for 27A, but it was a letter short. Started with CORN @ 22A. LOESS seems like a later-in-the-week word, as does GREBE (née EGRET).

I wonder if anyone else here besides me, has actually read the Horatio Alger books? We all know the metaphor, but the books themselves are pretty formulaic and IMO not really good reads. My father had a slew of them from his childhood, ca. 1910,and they were in good shape in my childhood also. There were also some books by G. A. Henty, which I much preferred. They were always historical, and had boy heroes in the middle of wars ranging from the Punic War to the American Civil War. Formulaic too, but more thrilling. You learned some history to boot.

"Who knew?" - Horatio Alger died in Natick, MA [sic], 101 years ago Sunday. Per Wikipedia, he was an accused (albeit not proven) pederast. Maybe that goes with the "older man befriends noble but poor young boy" theme in his novels.

CaseAce 1:44 AM  

Retired Chemist, Yes, we can't be too careful when it comes to old men hanging around young boys and just because Alger was a celebrated author doesn't mean he shouldn't be placed on a pedophile!

Steve J 1:47 AM  

Easy-to-average Tuesday for me. Would have definitely been easy had I not gotten hung up in the North Central for a bit. I suspect my brain wasn't working quite right as I was trying to split my attention between the puzzle and the very uncomfortable ride on the rental car shuttle at the airport, because there wasn't anything particularly tough there.

I don't remember for sure, but I may have picked up CRYSTALPALACE without any crosses. Following the English football/soccer leagues (where Crystal Palace is a very distinctively named squad, and I remembered some sort of exposition in conjunction with their name) paid off.

Also thought EHLE couldn't possibly be right. Kept wondering why I couldn't cram SENORITA in where LATINA is.

Would have preferred "neat" as a clue for NOICE. Probably because I kept wondering why I couldn't elongate NEAT to fit the space.

Nice break from yesterday's oddly difficult puzzle. Enjoyed this one.

@retire_chemist: I nearly did a spit take upon reading your comment that Horatio Alger died in Natick. I think we've all "died" in Natick at one time or another.

syndy 1:48 AM  

gypsy cab may not be perjorative but 44 down as clued surely is shame on Will Shortz and Ed Sessa.The crystal palace was Prince Alberts achievement and gift to the english people.very easy puzzle-but ickypoo
(emuspon-little bratty emus)

chefwen 2:34 AM  

No hangups today, unlike yesterday. Really wanted disgusting for 1A or stinky or gross, which could have worked but ended up with the mundane SMOKY.

Also wanted OCEAN floor but had an extra square so settled on BOTTOM. Cringed at ICKY POO, that was also gross. Only write over was at 61D WILY over wits.

mr bingley 5:17 AM  

Jennifer EHLE is a great Eliz. Bennett! So much better than what's'er name, Keira Knightley. And she plays opposite Colin Firth so I'm surprised more people don't know her. She deserves to be immortalized in puzzledom.
Anyway, an overall so-so puzzle imho.
liked the juxtaposition of all the clips, Billy IDOL Billy CRYSTAL, Billy GRAHAM.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:58 AM  

Nice puzzle.

Just one Utterly Indefensible write-over: Threw in SENORA at 8 D before LATINA!

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

Crystal Palace was for me an absolute gimme. I grew up 5km from the site. Played in the rubble as a kid. My parents watched the place burn down.

Anyway, an easy(ish) Tuesday.

Greene 7:41 AM  

I almost missed Jennifer EHLE in this puzzle since I filled in that corner so quickly. I have long been an enormous fan of EHLE's mother, stage actress Rosemary Harris, so I was delighted when I first saw Ms. EHLE ruling a Broadway stage in the 2000 production of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing.

The play is another of those densely worded Stoppard exercises in complexity which usually only work on a purely intellectual level. To wit: as the play opens Max captures his wife Charlotte in a web of lies and finds himself cuckolded, but this turns out to be a scene from the play within the play. Then we learn that Max, in reality (within The Real Thing) is being cuckolded by his "real" wife Annie, with the man in the case being Charlotte's "real" husband Henry, the playwright of the play within the play. Henry ultimately marries Annie and, in a fascinating replay of the opening scene, learns that she herself is cuckolding him with her leading man (in the new play Henry has written for her).

Confused? Welcome to Planet Stoppard. Ahh, but Jennifer EHLE as Annie? No confusion there. Simply a revelation who erased all memory of Glenn Close in the original Broadway production (and she was pretty damned good too). EHLE, as Annie, provided a dramatic motor which drove this play and suffused it with a sense of passion and sex like I've never seen in a Stoppard play. Come to think of it, I have no memory of the original 1984 production being sexy or passionate at all.

Anyway, Ms. EHLE won the Tony for Leading Actress in a contest where she was actually pitted against her mother, my beloved Rosemary Harris, who was simultaneously holding court in the vastly inferior (sorry @Fikink) Noel Coward dud Waiting in the Wings.

EHLE gave the most charming and gracious acceptance speech, thanking her parents "for teaching me to talk and walk and read." She won again for Stoppard's 9-hour drama marathon The Coast of Utopia in 2007, but that's perhaps another post for another puzzle.

Jo 7:51 AM  

Flew through this one except for NW on account of never having head of the Ocean floor as Davy Jones' locker, nor had I heard of Billy Ocean. All easier than yesterday.
EHLE is a tricky name but she was the best Elizabeth Bennett ever in Pride and Prejudice on BBC about ten years ago. I have watched it multiple times, so no problem there.
Somehow I also knew the CRYSTAL PALACE; who knows why these names lodge in your mind?

dk 8:02 AM  

Do not know Ms. Ehle but got her in the crosses. Only do over was loams for 56A.

Speaking of repressing sexual urges:

Graham crackers were originally marketed as "Dr. Graham's Honey Biskets" and were conceived of as a health food as part of the Graham Diet, a regimen to suppress what he considered unhealthy carnal urges, the source of many maladies according to Graham. Reverend Graham would often lecture about the adverse effects of masturbation or "self-abuse" as it was commonly called. One of his many theories was that one could curb one's sexual appetite by eating bland foods. Another man who held this belief was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of the corn flakes cereal.

Just in case you wonder why s'mores are shoved down the throats of camping tweens/teens.

** (2 Stars) Bland but fun

Note: Above sordid story was cheerfully plagiarized from Wikipedia.

Note 2: You may also wish to read the Road to Wellville by Boyle for additional information on urge repression

Judith 8:44 AM  

Love the graham cracker story, and the Billy Idol clip. Any day you start with a rousing Billy Idol tune is a good one. And I like dancing with myself. My kids wish I would only do it behind closed doors (by myself). Maybe graham crackers could help repress those urges too!

Judith 8:51 AM  

also, the best Billy Ocean song is "Get out of my dreams and into my car."

chefbea 8:52 AM  

Found this puzzle very easy. There use to be a Crystal Palace in St. Louis. Everyone went there to dance...way back when.

I'm sure Tinbeni liked 39A

@dk thanks for the story!!

Dough 8:52 AM  

Years back I read a terrific book about the Trail of Tears written by John Ehle, who is the father of Jennifer Ehle. I put two and two together while sitting in a theater reading the Playbill bio of Jennifer Ehle. My history and theater loves joined, again proving what a small world we live in. BTW, Jennifer was fabulous.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

I agree with Mr. Bingley. Jennifer EHLE's performance is classic. I've watched the A&E P&P more than a dozen times, and it's six hours long. I'm surprised this is the first time I've ever seen her in a puzzle. She's overshadowed somewhat by Colin Firth's fame, but she's the star of that production.

That said, one's never TOO OLD to say ICKYPOO. . .:)

John V 9:08 AM  

Easier than yesterday, IMHO. Whizzed through, staring in disbelief at 60D, Ehle. I'd rate this as easy for a Monday.

jesser 9:12 AM  

Yesterday's puzzle had LAS Cruces, and today it has EL PASO. Our resident EROTIC LATINA, MexGirl, is not gonna feel ICKYPOO about today's puzzle, and neither do I!

This was just so smooth from beginning to end. And very little (if any) crap fill (unless POO is considered in that fashion).

I never saw EHLE, as I didn't need it/her.

@DK, thanks for explaining why I was never WILD about GRAHAM CRACKERS. I'll go no further, other than to say yes, I'm wearing glasses.

I loved the quote at 43A.

Overall, terrific puzzle, great comments (so far, with more to come!) and the houseguests finally left. This will be a GOOD day!

Gairshpo! (Where you go to buy stamps when staying in Gairsh) -- jesser

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

@DK...having a teenager, i can attest than it doesn't matter what they eat...

NOICE is, in chicago, the opposite of "silence?"

@jesser...don't forget LOS lobos.

GREBE looks like a word made up by lewis carroll.

puzzles like this seem so there a reason for this BILLY theme? is it BILLY martin's birthday or something?

Sparky 9:39 AM  

Enjoyed theme once I caught on to Billy. Ehle stopped me, also 65D--I don't know sports. But I knew Crystal Palace from all my antiquing days and reading. I am sorry, Ickypoo is not a word. Mr. Maleska must be spinning in his grave. Finished early: big appointment at 2:30 this afternoon. Anyway, off in a cloud of feather dust.

SethG 9:54 AM  

In WarGames, Crystal Palace was the NORAD command bunker.

Van55 10:07 AM  

ICKYPOO is icky but I rather liked the rest of the puzzle today.

JenCT 10:24 AM  

Easy puzzle for me, too.

@dk: Luckily, graham crackers don't have that effect on me...

Agree that LOESS is more of a later-week word.

GREBE was a gimme for me - cute birds, they are.

Also wanted NEAT before NO ICE.

Remembered KLATCH from Mike Meyers' hilarious SNL Coffee Klatch skits.

DBGeezer 10:28 AM  

My write over was KLATsH, I wondered for a while how a SOT could be a motel extra, until I got tired enough to hit the COT.

Agree, this was much easier than yesterday's.

pridip - what snotty people use instead of guacomole on the snack table.

Two Ponies 10:56 AM  

Monday easy and like Rex said
Yep, those are Billys alright.

Ickypoo was the only surprise.

I figured someone would comment on gyp. Where I grew up there was a sizable tribe (?) of gypsies with their own king. They did nothing at all to dispell the stereotype.

@ Steve J, Can't say I've ever died in Natick but I've felt pretty ill!

@r_c, I read Ragged Dick and that was enough.

joho 11:08 AM  

BILLY sauntered into the SMOKY bar called the OCEANBOTTOM. Formerly the joint had sparkled as the CRYSTALPALACE but those glory days were just a memory now. He sat at a table shaped like a PROW which had not an IOTA of class. He shoved aside a bowl grumbling, "What's this SLOP? Somebody get me a scotch, NOICE, on the double." His drink arrived on the tray of a lovely, EROTIC LATINA who had just moved from ELPASO where she had been an OPERA star. Either that or she danced the lead in "SWAN Lake." Anyway, BILLY was instantly smitten. Trying to act like a BMOC he drooled, "I've got a YEN for you." She replied, "ICKYPOO, you're TOOOLD for me, don't be a PEST." Upon hearing her words, the bouncers, acting like ATTACKDOGS, dragged BILLY from his would-be CINDERELLA. As it turns out, her name was DELLA and when they escorted poor BILLY from the bar she sat quietly in a corner, totally at EASE, flipping through the pages of the latest issue of ELLE.

Stan 11:11 AM  

The BILLY theme successfully stumped me, and the B was my last letter. Kept thinking "Meg Tilly was on American Idol?"

Two Ponies 11:34 AM  

@ joho, Well done! It's your best one yet. Your xword tales remind me of when we had Emily Cureton's drawings to go with our puzzles.

retired_chemist 11:35 AM  

@ two ponies - if Horatio Alger had eaten Graham crackers, perhaps there would not have been a Ragged Dick.

Zeke 11:47 AM  

For the sake of gender/ethnic diversity we couldn't have snuck in Billy Holiday? HOLIDAYONICE?
CRYSTALPALACE has a different definition in some parts/age groups of OK.
On the the literary aspects of the puzzle. Quite likely due to having been repeatedly smote on the head as a child, any novel which contains the blurb on its back cover beginning "Set in a country manor in pre-Victorian England, .. this tale of manners ..." causes my eyes to glaze over and a vague nausea to permeate my soul. This somehow extends to anyone appearing in a movie adaptaion of same. On the otherhand, after years of seeing ITALO Calvino in the puzzle I finally read him, and the guy was a genius. The just published some of his previously, i.e. kindergarden, works which should have remained as such, but the guy could write.
Much like Jesser, I continue to suffer permanent scars from having not eaten enough Graham Crackers as a child. Any and all typos in my posts are due to palm warts.

chefbea 12:06 PM  

@joho lol that was great

JenCT 12:11 PM  

@joho - excellent story!

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

The story is as interesting as a captcha!

Tinbeni 1:00 PM  

ICKYPOO what a great crossword.

NO ICE today, had my Avatar NEAT yesterday. Hmmm, I'm starting to think these puzzles are trying to encourage me to drink.

Like Jesser, I didn't even see EHLE, all via crosses.
Learning moment of the day. Always a plus.

All-in-all a FUN Tuesday.

Dr. Doolittle 1:32 PM  

Someone equated a grebe with an egret. Egrets wade. Grebes, like the loon in the clue, swim and dive. Ugly name for a graceful bird.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

GYP is an ethnic slur.

But, hey, we don't mean nothin' by it?

The clue is a straight up GYP = cheat.
I agree with Sydny: shame on Will Shortz and Ed Sessa.

Zeke 1:44 PM  

@Anon 1:35 - The etymology of GYP is less clear than one might think. But yeah, work around it, or clue it differently. __ Board = Wall material works just fine.

Clark 2:01 PM  

@joho -- You are the master.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

@ Greene--thanks for all that. I'm a great Stoppard fan, and Austen, too. @retired_chemist. Almost identical experience with Horatio Alger.

Jean 2:47 PM  

Gyp is not an ethic slur. It means "cheat." It may or may not have come from the word "gypsy," and gypsy may or may not refer to the Romani people (but probably does), and if it does there is little credible argument, even from the most pc of scholars of the Romani, that thievery has not long been an integral part of Romani culture. Does that mean every person with Romani blood is a thief? No. Does it mean that a culture of itinerant, historically persecuted people might develop certain general traits, of which living by one's wits (including stealing from non-Romani) is one, and that they become especially known for that trait by non-Romani? In this case, yes, and it's patronizing to suggest otherwise.

Furthermore, it's unlikely that anybody uses the word "gyp" with any conscious knowledge or any intent (conscious or unconscious) that it refer to the Romani. At this point it's just a word that means cheat. Without intent, there can be no offense, only posturing.

For a good general overview of the history of the Romani and their culture and an excellent introduction to some of the greatest music of the 20th century, see Michael Dregni's excellent biography of the revolutionary guitarist Django Reinhart, "Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend."

retired_chemist 3:00 PM  

@ Dr Doolittle - I didn't equate GREBE and EGRET, I just put EGRET in first and figured it would either stay or go. Well aware I did not know how loonlike (or not) either was.

captcha: hedulike. Insert Mel Gibson joke here..... Blog didn't like it and now I need to use barman...

Dr. Doolittle 5:09 PM  

@ r_c, OK, now I get the "nee" part.

Sfingi 5:12 PM  

Never heard of EHLE, ADA.

Didn't get the theme until the end, though I knew all the Billies.

All SLANG is metaphor.
All metaphor is poetry.
Therefore, All SLANG is poetry.
(Modus Ponens.)

I always was made to understand Gypsy as derived from the misunderstanding that the Romani came from Egypt rather than India.
If I look at Zeke's note, now, I'll lose my whole comment. Do indeed appreciate Mr. Reinhart. In any case, I got crucified a year ago for using the word gyp here.

@Zeke - Indeed, Nobelist Italo is the best. He hung out with Vittorini, Sciascia, Pavese, Natalia Ginzberg. I recommend Cosmicomics.

@Anon731 - Wow!

Interesting about Horatio Alger. So many pederasts. It'll take a while to shed light on all of this.
(@Rube - even Al Capp.)

chefwen 5:20 PM  

@joho - GAWD! I sure do enjoy your stories, keep 'em coming.

retired_chemist 6:40 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 6:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 6:49 PM  

@ Joho - I presume the EROTIC LATINA in EL PASO was named Felina - else Marty Robbins died in vain....

Regardless, well done!

deerfencer 7:14 PM  

@ Zeke: Agree, Calvino was a great writer,
perhaps the most talented surrealist/fabulist of the 20th century.

Puzzle was fine fun and for the most part very smooth sailing.

joho 7:40 PM  

@Two Ponies, chefbea, JenCT, Anon 12:22, Clark, chefwen & retired_chemist ... thank you all for your kind comments. The truth is I was really depressed this morning and couldn't think of a snappy comment so kept staring at the finished puzzle and, as it often happens, just "saw" the story. I felt so much better after I posted it and now feel even better than that knowing that you all liked it.

As I've said before, I LOVE this blog.

foodie 7:52 PM  

@Joho, beautiful! I can practically hear the music in the background...

@DK, they had backwards. The more you suppress pleasure in one area, the more you need to make up for it in another. There is simply a quota of pleasure a body has to have. My father once responded to my urgings for him to go on a diet: "With old age my appetites have shifted upwards".

syndy 2:50 AM  

In my town we have a fairly large romany population who are still viewed by some people as "Dirty Gypsies" and use of the word "gyp" to mean a thief or a cheat perpetuates this stereotype,if they tend to keep apart is it helped by our prejudices?

Waxy in Montreal 4:27 PM  

I always get that strange word GREBE confused with its equally odd-sounding cousin GLEBE, in church parlance an area of land belonging to a benefice. (Also The Glebe is a section of downtown Ottawa.)

As a young child in 1951, I remember being taken to the so-called Festival of Britain, which celebrated the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition. Unfortunately, since the Crystal Palace itself had burned down in 1936 and the UK was still impoverished from World War II, no great monument marked the 1951 expo which apparently was quite forgettable.

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