Dickens character who says Something Will Turn Up / WED 8-11-10 / Nattily dressed ad figure / Sayers bon vivant sleuth / Wisecracking dummy old radio

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Constructor: Edward Sessa

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: MONOCLES (68A: Items worn by 14-, 23-, 39- and 52-Across)


Word of the Day: WILKINS MICAWBER (23A: Dickens character who says "Something will turn up") —

Wilkins Micawber is a fictional character from Charles Dickens' 1850 novel David Copperfield. He was modelled on Dickens' father, John Dickens, who also ended up in a debtor's prison (the King's Bench Prison) after failing to meet the demands of his creditors.

His long-suffering wife, Emma, stands by him through thick and thin, despite the fact that her father, before his death, had to bail him out on many occasions and the fact his circumstances force her to pawn all her family heirlooms. The maxims she lives by are: "I will never desert Mr. Micawber!" and "Experientia does it (from Experientia docet, One learns by experience (literally, 'experience teaches'))".

He is hired as a subordinate by Uriah Heep, who believes Micawber to be as dishonest as himself due to his troubles with creditors. However, Micawber is honest, and, after working for Heep for a while, exposes him as a forger and a cheat. To make a fresh start, Micawber and his family emigrate to Australia alongside Daniel Peggotty and Little Em'ly. In Australia he is successful and becomes a magistrate as well as manager of the Port Middlebay Bank.

In Hablot Knight Browne's illustrations for the first edition, he is shown wearing knee-breeches, a top hat and a monocle. (wikipedia)

• • •

Blew through this in 4 flat (faster than yesterday) despite not having any idea who WILKINS MICAWBER was. 19th-Century Literature, not my field. Why don't most pics I'm finding depict him with the monocle. Does he have a monocle outside the first edition illustrations done by Browne? Literary characters are slightly odd choices for this theme, as — unless the book makes great mention of the monocle in some fashion — the monocle would seem an incidental detail. I can *see* MR. PEANUT and CHARLIE MCCARTHY, so I *know* they have monocles. The first person I think of when I see the word "monocle" is COLONEL MUSTARD, but he's one letter short of being able to take, say, WILKINS MICAWBER's place. Besides MICAWBER (whose last name I at least recognized from puzzles past), the only other sticking point today was TWITTERY (62A: Giggling nervously), which is not a word I use despite using Twitter nearly ever day. I tried TWITTERING (too long), TITTERING (ditto), and ATWITTER (letters not lined up right) before realizing what word I was dealing with. I also can never remember if SELENE (47D: Greek moon goddess) is SELENE or SELENA, but cost me maybe 1 or 2 seconds—just left it blank and picked it up on the cross.

Theme answers:
  • WILKINS MICAWBER (23A: Dickens character who says "Something will turn up")
  • MR. PEANUT (14A: Nattily dressed ad figure)
  • CHARLIE MCCARTHY (39A: Wisecracking dummy of old radio)
  • LORD PETER WIMSEY (52A: Dorothy L. Sayers's bon vivant sleuth)
Words can't express how wrong BANDANNNNNNA (9D: Part of many a bank robber's outfit) with two-thousand "N"s at the end looks. The number of "N"s in BANDANA shall total 2, and 2 shall be that number, amen. I honestly considered BANDANDA (var.?) before I succumbed to the stupid extra-N version. Grid is mostly nice-looking, despite the usual unfortunate short stuff and the less-than-ideal IDA / IDAHO ([Slutty 28-Across?]) crossing. Winning entry of the day: CHOW LINE (42D: Mess queue).

Bullets:
  • 8A: FBI operation involving a nonexistent sheik (ABSCAM) — sounds like a shady exercise-machine-selling operation; or a camera pointed continuously at someone's midsection; or an early-80s Genesis album.




  • 56D: Success on TV's "Concentration" (MATCH) — Trouble for me, as that game is (way) before my time. Now if the clue had been [Success on TV's "Match Game"], oh man, I'd have nailed that one.
  • 29A: Dogpatch diminutive (LI'L) — as in "Abner"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

70 comments:

Zeke 12:22 AM  

Isn't MRPEANUT pretty much naked? He's got a tophat, gloves and spats, but beyond that, buck naked. I always felt being nattily dressed implied underwear at the very least. No, the very least aspect of being nattily dressed is not being creepy naked. Oh, and he's giving the Cryp's sign in that photo.
God, that blurb on WILKINSMICAWBER is the longest book I've ever read, and I've read Infinite Jest, start to finish, footnotes and all.

Hated everything you did, couldn't even muster love for CHOWLINE. ATLAS tires? Google finds lots of '60s memoriabilia from Esso stations selling ATLAS tires, but not too much else.

Flower 12:26 AM  

Also, in "Bambi," certain characters are twitterpated. I'm just sayin.

SethG 12:28 AM  

Whatever LORD PETER WIMSEY represents is just as much not my field as 19th-Century Literature is not my field. Charlie McCarthy I've at least heard of, though I couldn't remember his name. Still finished more quickly than usual.

Didn't blink at BANDANARAMA, but did spell the car INFINITY. I hate all clues ever for RATIO.

PurpleGuy 12:30 AM  

Liked this puzzle and filled it in nicely until the clue for the revealer at 68a. Each character is wearing "a" monocle. The word means one eyepiece. Yes I realize a bit where this clue is going, but the plural part really annoyed me. The revealer should be single MONOCLE also. I would have reworked it somehow. Sorry.

I've read almost all of Charles Dickens, and couldn't for the life of me remember Micawber's first name. He's always referred to as Mister Micawber. Sigh...

Happy Hump Day, all. Uh Oh, that's as in "Over the hump, day!!"

;-) Bob/PurpleGuy

Tobias 12:39 AM  

Zeke, I have Infinite Jest next in my queue (I have always been more interested in his non-fiction)but after my poor showing this week, I just dont feel ready for it. My Mon and Tue times were terrible and today the only familiar person in the theme was MR Peanut :-(
Is it possible have a crossword slump ? I have been at this pretty intensely for about a year now ,making good progress except for the last month or so. I think I am losing ground.

Robin 12:51 AM  

I didn't remember Mister Micawber's first name, either, but nevertheless found this puzzle much more straightforward and enjoyable than either Monday or Tuesday. Those were just weird.
Welcome back, Rex. Your subs did a nice job, but it just ain't the same.
I feel like I should comment on 55D but I'm not gonna.

operapianist 12:52 AM  

Somehow finished this in near record time for ANY puzzle so far(my 1-yr anniv of the NY Times x-word subscription was today). This without knowing any of the monocled characters except Mr Peanut.

Conjuring up a mental pic of the
1st daughter of 1977-81 almost made me gag. Seriously, does anyone remember how freakin' unfortunate she looked back then?? Just saying.

Robin 1:13 AM  

@Zeke Buck up, sweetie.
@Tobias Yes, you are ready for Infinite Jest. It's more fun than crosswords.

foodie 1:34 AM  

Had Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey (Yes, that's his full name) lived in our time, he would have been a NY Times crossword puzzle solver and commenter-- I'm quite sure. He was our type of guy, loved untangling mysteries, was a connoisseur of food and wine and knew his way around music. He was also quite silly at times. Unlike most of us, he was extremely rich. But he consorted with his valet, which was very democratic of him. I think of him as the first prototype of the detective in British mystery, described with a unique mix of affection for the person and satire of the British nobility. You can see echoes of him in modern mystery, e.g. Melrose Plant in Martha Grimes' novels (Plant solves the London Times puzzles).

Needless to say, it felt like seeing the name of an old friend in the NY Times puzzle.

My QDI says this puzzle is EASY for a Wednesday.

Steve J 1:38 AM  

I know I read "David Copperfield" way back when, but I remember literally nothing about it. Including anyone named Micawber. Of course, I've deliberately forgotten nearly everything 19th century I've read. Other than Thomas Hardy and, at times, some of the Russians, I have a hard time finding anything from that century's literature I like.

I also have no idea who LORDPETERWIMSEY is.

And yet, I kinda liked this one. Can't put my finger on exactly why, other than perhaps there was nothing that irritated me (although BANDANNA did loook (sic) weird). Didn't notice IDA/IDAHO as I was solving, but it does stick out now.

Other than MRPEANUT, the first person that springs to mind for me is Col. Klink from "Hogan's Heroes," but obviously that would have come short. So would Woodrow Wilson, while Franklin Roosevelt would be too long. And that pretty much extinguishes the list of monocle-wearers I can recall.

chefwen 2:09 AM  

@Zeke - Mr. Peanut is quite decently covered by his shell.

Charlie McCarthy, no prob. Mr. Peanut, no prob. Wilkins Micawber and Lord Peter Wimsey just filled themselves in nicely with the downs.

The plural of monocles didn't bother me either as there are four dudes wearing them.

Only write over was SELENE over SELENa.

andrea carla monocles 3:09 AM  

Was pleased to get MRPEANUT off the U (Masked and Anonymous???)

Filled in everything despite having barely any idea who anyone was...
It was easy-ish (ie not one writeover) due to the downs and yet the fill made me feel simultaneously like I was 103 years old and uneducated.
Did NOT feel TWITTERY, literally nor figuratively.

Yet it seems fun to have a unifying theme of wearing a monocle.
Bud Freedman who ran the Improv all the years I worked there was both humorless and monocled...
I think that may be redundant.

Greene 4:41 AM  

Mister Micawber had a first name? The things I learn doing crosswords. I too think of Colonel Klink when monocles are mentioned. Him and The Penguin from TV's Batman. Oh yeah, and that "very model of a modern Major-General" Stanley from The Pirates of Penzance.

All told, an easy Wednesday with no-problem downs to ease any unfamiliarity with the three 15-letter across theme answers.

DBGeezer 4:59 AM  

There are advantages to being in my eighties, and to be very fond of both Dickens and Dorothy Sayers. WILKINS and LORD PETER came early and easily. I needed the crosses for MR PEANUT
Wondered why this Wednesday puzzle was easier for me than yesterday's.

capcha: ablumm The flowers ablumm in the spring, tra la, have nothing to do with the case!

JayWalker 7:57 AM  

I was of the opinion that Micawber's first name WAS "Mister!!" Other than that, it felt quite easy today - which is a pleasant change. It's too bloody hot for intense brain activity!

Leslie 8:31 AM  

Andrea, you actually knew a living, breathing, in-this-day-and-age monocle wearer?!? Wow.

DBGeezer, at 57 I also knew Lord Peter Wimsey. Have read and enjoyed all the Sayers books about him, so was disappointed to read that Sayers herself was a bit of a pill.

Except for having to discover Mr. Micawber's first name from the downs, this puzzle rated "easy" for me. Disagree with Rex on BANDANNA as that's the first spelling I learned for that word, but agree on TWITTERY. To me, that describes the nervousness but doesn't imply giggling. More like fidgeting and talking too much.

dk 8:51 AM  

@flower, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

@zeke, your peanut envy is soooooo obvious :).

When did Mr. Peanut get a Wiener mobile????

Hello, miss me. Gone one day and it seems we have started the week over. I was sailing through this puzzle thinking: "Is it Monday again."

** (2 Stars) 2 easy.

Flew to Baltimore and back yesterday and I kept waiting for a flight attendant to go postal. A passenger complained the flight crew had filled the luggage bins over the first 3 rows. The response.... We do not have time to check our bags! When further quarried as to why the baggage handlers could not place the crew bags in the jetway like they do strollers and such -- so that customers could use the limited overhead space. The customer was told to take his seat or consider another flight. I am sure she was "crop dusted!"

jesser 8:53 AM  

Twittery, indeed. That was my only writeover, because I initially plopped in Teheeing, which far better fits the clue. The crosses were having none of it.

Very similar solving experience to Fearless 44. Neither WILKINS nor LORD PETER take up space in my grey matter, but the crosses allowed both of them to float up into the puzzle and take their respective places.

When not out being manhandled by my Jeep, I drive a candy-ass INFINITI EX-35, so that was easy. Incidentally, and apropos of nothing except I'm trying to convince myself: When the lease expires next year, I'm leaning toward letting it go and being a one-beast family again.

Totally agree with Rex that the spelling of BANDANNA looked way off. If I hadn't had NAACP already in place, I don't know how that string of blocks would have looked before the 'aha moment' had its way with me.

MERCK is a weirdly spelled crush of letters. Looks like a captcha.

Speaking of which...

Coness! (I want puzzles without plurals, dammit!) -- je__er

chefbea 9:03 AM  

Easy puzzle and I too never knew Mr. Micawber's first name.

I remember watching Charlie McCarthy on TV..way back when

PanamaRed 9:14 AM  

Got CHARLIEMCCARTHY immediately without crosses. We used to listen to that show (and many others) on the radio before we got out first TV (about 1952).

Agree with Rex on bandanna.

I'd love to insert the pygmy joke here, but don't think it would pass the decency check.

ArtLvr 9:17 AM  

Most delightful Wednesday! Talk about high IQS -- My favorite of the Lord Peter mysteries is "Gaudy Night", with assorted cast of female Oxford dons and a heart-tugging marriage proposal in Latin! Well summarized, thanks foodie...

∑;)

joho 9:26 AM  

I'm with everybody who was bothered by the spellling of BANDANNA.

This was such an odd theme I think I like it. Who would've thought we'd see a puzzle based on MONOCLES.

It was easy for a Wednesday, though.

Anybody notice that both LEA and EWE are in the grid and the clues reference each other?

Missed moment of fame 9:31 AM  

Col. Wilhelm Klink (15 letters)

Barbarian 9:56 AM  

Easy puzzle but delightful clues! Mr. P, Charlie & Lord Peter I knew; Micawber's "Wilkins" needed some downs, but I didn't resent it a bit. "Twittery" was just fine, I think. Yeah, it implies talking as well as giggling, but the image it conjurs up is charming, yet foolish. And monocles! A dapper gentleman chatting with twittery young ladies--Lord Peter would have been in his element. Edward Sessa, creative cluing, I must say.

nanpilla 9:57 AM  

@rex - does anyone know what's up with Orange? She hasn't posted in a couple of days.

This seemed much easier than yesterday's, despite not knowing two out of three of the long names.

Also loved LEAPFROG.

Still waiting for the clue "It's not ____, it's you" for 34D.

chefbea 10:12 AM  

@nanpilla - just went to Orange's blog. It explains that she is in Ny for lalapuzzoola with all from the east coast. Good luck to everyone and have fun!!!

Two Ponies 10:35 AM  

I love Dickens and Mr. Micawber is a classic character. The movie with Freddie Bartholomew as David also has W.C. Fields as Micawber. It is, IMO, his best role. He does not play his usual curmudgeon but the delightfully optimistic Wilkins.
Needless to say I liked this puzzle.
My only Huh?s were the bandanna (I was thinking ski mask before I pondered those pesky N's) and bleacherite? What is that?
Also, acute refers to the quickness of onset (opp. of chronic) not the intensity.

nanpilla 10:36 AM  

@chefbea - thanks!

retired_chemist 10:46 AM  

@ Leslie - Rex and others only said BANDANNA looked wrong, not that it WAS wrong. It's right. Looked right to me, so no prob here.

Do not know where I had WILKINS stored as Micawber's first name, but I did. Before sussing the theme I tried MORTIMER SNERD @39A. Didn't fit, and Charlie followed immediately.

Nice theme, easy puzzle for a Wednesday IMO. Thank you, Mr. Sessa.

Zeke 10:50 AM  

@DK - I might give your comment consideration if I weren't 100% sure you had a photo somewhere of Ken dressed as Mr Peanut, clad only in a hat, gloves, monocle and spats, lounging on a bed made of a slice of white bread, joined there by Barbie, dressed as Grandma Smuckers (apron, bonnet only, really Mrs Butterworth, but she's not hot), with a jar of strawberry lube handy. If not, you really, really should have such a photo.

Tinbeni 10:54 AM  

@Steve J & @Greene
I also wanted Colonel Klink and The Penguin.

After MR.PEANUT and CHARLIE McCARTHY
I had to work like hell to get the other two.
(@Ret.Chem. I needed ALL the downs to get them).

Cooked a long time to get this SLOG "Well ... Done"

Hmmm, PMS crosses SHH.
A puzzle with a message.

Noam D. Elkies 10:57 AM  

Must have been an easy puzzle for those in the know — took me less time than yesterday's and I didn't recognize any of the theme entries (except for a vague recollection of a Micawber and a Wimsey somewhere).

9D:BANDANNA looks fine to me; m-w.com even lists it first, with BANDANA as variant.

Since Retired_Chemist hasn't mentioned it yet: 47D:SELENE is also the source of "selenium"; tellurium (just below Se on the periodic table), though rarer, had already been discovered earlier and named for the Earth.

NDE
[captcha = minsiv = receptacle for 62A:TWITTERY (<140 character) memories?]

Sparky 11:22 AM  

Had Charlie Mc Carthy and Lord Peter right off. Thanks @foodie and others. I am a big Sayers fan. Have all the series and reread them from time to time, when I want to go to a world unlike my own. Short story "The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will" has a British crossword puzzle. Its location is fun too. I had PArAdE instead of PALACE for a while. Don't like TWITTERY All in all went well today.

Gray 11:36 AM  

So by saying BANDANNA looked right to you, aren't you disagreeing with Rex and others who said it looked wrong? Isn't that what Leslie said?

Doc John 12:24 PM  

Can't believe I'm the first to say...
Roseanne Bandannadanna!

JD 12:35 PM  

No Eustace Tilley in a monocle-themed puzzle? How disappointing.

Sycophant 1:01 PM  

Along with my buddies: Backscratcher, Backslapper, Bootlicker, Brownnoser, Flatterer, Flunky, Groupie, Lackey and Toadie; I put on my bandana and come here everyday just hoping there is a Rex Bandwagon I can jump on.

Parasite 1:09 PM  

Good one!

Steve J 1:11 PM  

@Two Ponies: In a lot of American stadiums, seating consisting of long benches rather than individual seats are called "bleachers." Typically, they've been cheaper seats (especially in baseball, where most stadiums put bleachers in the outfield seats, furthest from the action). People sitting in the bleachers came to be known as bleacherites.

Two Ponies 1:26 PM  

@ Steve J, Thanks. I know bleachers but as for the -ite part I have never heard of that in my life. That sounds a bit mean and snooty.

Kay Richardson 1:28 PM  

Good God, I love this blog. Verily, it makes my eyes smile.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

@Two Ponies - That and I've never heard them called other than Bleacher Bums. Which is mean and snooty.

syndy 1:37 PM  

rex, put the Holy Handgrenade back in the box and back away! Dorothy Sayers a constsnt favorite read her since i was a teen -don't know how much of a pill she was but her friends thought that she had fallen in love with Lord Peter for real.Puzzle definitely on my wave lenght and don't you just like them better when they do? I did write in Missuss Mccawber and didn't quess the monocle before the reveal( clue itemS-answer monocleS)

Rex Parker 1:45 PM  

@NDE et al,

Yes, BANDANNNNNNNNNNA is legit, and even listed first in some entries I checked. And yet it's simply not the commonly used spelling, hence its "looking wrong" to me. Google ["bandana"] and then ["bandanna"] (with quot. marks) and note the massive disparity in returns.

rp

Van55 2:14 PM  

Easy puzzle. The realtively obscure answers solved themselves with crosses. A Wednesday romp for me with the joy of learning (or relearning) some things I didn't know or didn't immediately remember.

I would have sworn BANDANNA was wrong...

Masked and Anonymous 3:05 PM  

@ACM et al...Yep. MR PEANUT is indeed nattily dressed, sporting a very nice U smack dab in center of the nut area, thank you. QED.
BTW: Puz *not* so nattily dressed with U's, overall.

Variant BANDANA spellings. Kids driving while texting. 44 with a shaved head. Billion gallon oil spills. Cats eating dogs. Dubya as a two-term president. It just all seems so wrong. Pardon me while I curl up in a ball.

I've been readin' the wrong books. Theme whished right over my head. Just finished Girl with Dragon Tatoo book. No monocles.

Pete M 3:25 PM  

@Rex: You consider Abacab to be "early Genesis"? I know it was the 80's, but the band's been around since the 60's. Early has to at least be before Peter Gabriel left.

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Wow, so I really have loathed Genesis for all my life.

How is "early-80s Genesis" the same as "early Genesis"? Did Rex fix, or did Pete M misread what he wrote and then call him out on it?

CoolPapaD 3:39 PM  

@Zeke et al - I'd never heard of Infinite Jest, but after reading what you all had to say, and Googling a bit, it seems as though I have to read this! At > 1000 pages, I hope the print is at least bigger than Atlas Shrugged!

Loved this puzzle - am with those who hated BANDANNA, but not much else to complain about!

Ed 3:51 PM  

In above mentioned film Fields as Micawber wore a monocle.

sanfranman59 3:59 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 9:20, 11:44, 0.79, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:04, 5:46, 0.88, 21%, Easy-Medium

Sfingi 4:00 PM  

@Zeke - you way beat me and everyone else to it. Yes, MRPEANUT wears a hat, cane, gloves, spats, monocle. In German, tragen means both wear and carry, so maybe he "wears" these in that sense, and throw in a briefcase. As @MaskedAnon said, he "sported" the monocle.

Also, I disagree that INFINITI is the automaker if Nissan makes INFINITI.

Do not hate the rest, though.

Mr. MICAWBER, as portrayed by W.C. Fields was a lot of fun. Glad he was fully clothed.

LORDPETERWIMSEY is also portrayed - on PBS, by the late Ian Carmichael - so you needn't crack a book.

So, where's the fellow on GQ magazine? Or, Lady Troubridge? George Arliss, 1929-30 Academy Award winner? Can you wear a monocle w/o being dapper? Can you wear 2 monocles? How about a lorgnette? There's enough material for another CW.

Did not know MERCK. Never heard of bleacherITE. Hey, is that some sort of sports thing?

Cathyat40 4:07 PM  

I'm in the BANDANA camp, but what do I know, I initially wrote in PiGMY.

Zeke 4:37 PM  

I don't know that I was suggesting that one read Infinite Jest. It's just that Dickens is so god awful boring that even a three paragraph character synopsis seems like a longer read that a 1000 page novel, of which Infinite Jest is the only one I can (honestly) claim to have read all of. I do make dishonest claims about having read War and Peace, etc.

william e emba 5:16 PM  

I have recently purchased Adam Ross MR PEANUT, which is garnering geek heaven style reviews. So 14A was more of a gimme than usual.

I did not remember WILKINS, nor does it ring any bells after the fact, with or without a monocle. But Mister MICAWBER was certainly memorable, he almost stole the show at times, and so it was half-a-gimme. As for Dickens being boring--well, I personally found Dickens much more fascinating after I got into Beckett.

The Dorothy Sayers/LORD PETER WIMSEY novels and stories are remarkable. Twisted, macabre, practically insane plots and motives at times, yet all somehow quite cheerio.

So with all the theme gimmes, I did this puzzle in an average Monday time. I was slowed down by BANDANNNNA too.

@Zeke: After the first 200 or so pages, War and Peace (at least in the Constance Garnett translation) turns into a thrilling page turner. And there's a bonus paean to calculus, woohoo!

mac 5:39 PM  

Liked he puzzle, thought it creative and unusual. For bandanna I wanted some var. of balaclava. Stumbeled over twittery and needed a lot of crosses for Mr. Micawber and Charlie (just realize I filled in Infinity) McCarthy, but I love Lord Peter Wimsey and wish I hadn't read all of the books already.

@foodie: Also know and like Melrose Plant, and how about P.D. James' Adam Dalgliesh?

william e emba 5:40 PM  

For the record: both OED2 and W3I give BANDANNA, with "bandana" as a variant (and the original "bandanno").

Oddly, the OED2 only lists 18th/19th century usages that seem to favor the "bandana" spelling.

JenCT 6:01 PM  

As a child, I got such a thrill out of seeing MRPEANUT during the tennis tournaments at Forest Hills.

@Tobias: don't worry - some days, I feel like my brain just got up & left me...

Didn't know ATLAS tires at all.

Steve J 6:55 PM  

@Sfingi: INFINITI is to Nissan as Cadillac is to General Motors. If you don't consider Cadillac to be the maker of its cars, but rather GM, then you're correct about INFINITI. Otherwise, it works (and fits with the custom used within the auto biz regarding who is considered to make a certain car).

joho 7:42 PM  

@Sfingi ... I think if you're wearing two monocles they're called glasses.

I've had the weirdest image of Howdy Doody sporting a monocle and his bandana ever since doing this puzzle this morning. CHARLIEMCCARTHY wouldn't wear either but I think he had something to do with it.

Anonymous 7:56 PM  

@William E Emba - Beckett informs Dickens? That's a treatise I would love to read.

chefbea 8:26 PM  

@joho Howdy doody did wear a bandannnna around his neck... however, no monicle

Sfingi 9:00 PM  

@Steven - yes, I consider the maker the manufacturer - GM, Nissan, etc.

@Joho - I disagree. You would have to hold each monocle in each socket with no ear support. I'll bet that in this world, someone does it. Now, if you attach with a nose bridge, you have your lorgnette.

Now, just for that
mon'oncle

joho 9:52 PM  

@Sfingi ... very funny!

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:56, 6:58, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Tue 9:52, 8:50, 1.12, 87%, Challenging
Wed 9:28, 11:45, 0.81, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:51, 3:43, 0.98, 42%, Medium
Tue 5:05, 4:33, 1.12, 85%, Challenging
Wed 4:57, 5:46, 0.88, 16%, Easy

These median solve times rank as the 5th fastest Wednesday of 58 for the All Solvers group and the 9th fastest for the Top 100.

Leila 10:18 PM  

Don't know if anyone else complained that Mr. Micawber said "Something is BOUND to turn up."

shrub5 11:42 PM  

DNF - could not figure out CARIB/MICAWBER intersection though in hindsight B was the most reasonable choice. I was slow to parse OPART so thought I had a mistake.

We had a MRPEANUT (piggy) bank as kids -- I remember putting coins through a slot in his top hat. There was some tricky way to get it open to retrieve the coins that only our parents could do in private...

I've been a bleacherITE quite a few times but that term is not very commonly heard in my experience.

Overall, an enjoyable, creative puzzle.

Sparkydog77 5:12 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle very much but I wanted to add two things here:

1} If you ever get a chance to read DAVID COPPERFIELD and experience Wilkins McCawber as a character, you will quickly take him to heart as he is certainly one of the most memorable of Dicken's creations, and that's saying something with his proliferation of great characters throughout all of his books. The early 20th Century actor, W.C. Fields, based a lot of his "schtick" on this character, always seen with an UNLIT CIGAR and speaking very DRYLY and with BRITISH APLOMB out of the side of his mouth. In the '70's, there was a brief run of commercials for a snack food (I think Dorito's or Frito's) where tag lines from this character were often used: "C'mon, my boy. We've eaten them all." But I'm certain that's not even close. LOL

2) What in the hell is ABSCAM and why should we be expected to know of a quirky, bizarre little-known FBI operation? That one really left me boffo. I'm certain that it must have an amusing history tied to it if there is a "nonexistent sheik." LOL Sounds like the climax of "Noises Off!"

tim 12:59 PM  

First @sparkydog77 ABSCAM was huge when the story broke and was (to my knowledge) the beginning of "-scam" as a suffix for scandal. Now it's either whatever-gate or whatever-scam.

Re MICAWBER, there is a delightful children's book by John Lithgow with a squirrel as the title character. If memory serves, they even dress up this squirrel with a monocle on the final page.

And on the clue for MRPEANUT, how have I associated "nattily" with "shabby" -- its precise opposite? I can only think it was listen to vaguely snarky comments by my Okie relatives when I was very little. I came to see nattily as a pejorative.

The Last Word 7:13 PM  

This puzzle laid bare my ignorance of all things literary as I needed all of the crosses for the MICAWBER and WIMSEY answers; well, almost all - I was able to infer LORD when the rest of his name was in place and that opened up the southwest for me, which was the last section to fall. Other than that this seemed pretty easy to me, except for what everybody else said. And I thought FLEA adjacent to LEA was strange.

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