Candid Camera co-host Jo Ann / SAT 9-11-10 / Boho-chic accessory / L.A.-based music magazine / Name attached to some 1836 Sketches

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Constructor: Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Jo Ann PFLUG (37A: "Candid Camera" co-host) —

Jo Ann Pflug (born May 2, 1940; Atlanta, Georgia) is a former American motion picture and television actress, who retired in the 1990s. // Pflug's first major role was as U.S. Army nurse Lt. Maria "Dish" Schneider in 1970's MASH. Other notable roles include the voice of Invisible Girl in the 1967 animated version of Fantastic Four, Lt. Katherine O'Hara in the television series spin-off of Operation Petticoat and Cynthia Vaughn in 1997's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (her last role to date). // Pflug was also a frequent panelist on the television game shows Match Game from 1973–81, a co-host with Allen Funt on the 1970s version of Candid Camera, and a regular on the TV series The Fall Guy in 1981-82. [...] She also landed guest appearances on The Love Boat, The Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, Love, American Style, Adam-12, Quincy, M.E. and Charlie's Angels. // Pflug's only marriage was to game show host Chuck Woolery. The couple married in 1971 and divorced in 1981. They have one daughter, Melissa. [...] A born-again Christian, she now tours as a motivational speaker. // When asked once whether Pflug was her real name, she replied: "Pflug is a name you change from, not to."

• • •

About the difficulty level: I'd break it down as 75% Easy/Medium, 25% Brutal, that 25% being the entire SE quadrant. South of PFLUG, east of RONDO (48D: Many a Beethoven work). Total and complete disaster, fixed only after I finally entertained a non-vowel for the missing slot in P-LUG. Honestly, I spent so much time (comparatively) on the SE quadrant that I remember virtually nothing about the rest of the puzzle. Never heard of a HOBO BAG (54A: Boho-chic accessory). That HOBO could have had any number of things. Never heard of URB (45D: L.A.-based music magazine). Had URT and URC in there at various points (HOBO TIE? HOBO CAP?). Had IRIS for ARUM (cursed flora!) (55D: Jack-in-the-pulpit, e.g.). Couldn't decide if NEC or AEC was right (49A: Post-Manhattan Project org.). Never in a million years could have guessed HUNH was an acceptable spelling (57D: "What the ...?") (I liked my first answer better: "I SAY!"). BAS for BSS (61D: Some four-year degrees). TIL for THY (56A: "___ plaintive anthem fades": Keats). SEEDY for SEAMY (50A: Hardly wholesome). INTER / INURN / ENURN for MOURN (52D: Emulate Electra) (clearly got her confused with Antigone). J.M. SYNGE = only barely familiar name (43D: Playwright who co-founded the Abbey Theatre). Thing of "AW GEE" as something the Beav says in frustration — very different in tone from ["That's a shame"]. Clue on WOO was good (58A: Try one's suit on?) but I had no way of seeing WOO without help — thought ... BID? But no. And forget getting those long Acrosses down there with only two solid crosses in place. In the end, if I'd simply conjured up the "F" in PFLUG earlier, the rest would have fallen earlier. Weird that so much the grid hinged on one square.

Weirdest moment of the solve. Wrote in INTER at 52D (wrong) and "confirmed" it with REBOUNDATE at 60A: One often picked up after a split (REBOUND GUY) ... yes, that's right: REBOUNDATE. In my elation at having a breakthrough, I apparently saw double: specifically, I saw two Ds where clearly there was only one.

And here I thought I was out of the woods when I escaped the raging NW. Toughest bit of fill up there: EDIT MENU (9D: Paste container?). I got it down to EDI-MEN- and had No idea what the hell was up. Paste as in glue? Paste as in cheap jewelry? Paste as in a soon-to-be-defunct indie culture magazine? And of course, once again, that $&^% PFLUG wasn't giving me any help with the final letter. NW had some toughness going on — nice clue on GREEN BELT, by the way (13D: What may encircle a rising chopper?) — and the SW threw a few punches as well — I had ROY ROGERS for RING A BELL, by Faaaar my favorite wrong answer of the day (33D: Trigger familiarity). But those early challenges were all typical Fri/Sat fare. Not in same league of viciousness as the SE.

No problem getting started today, with HEURE (2D: 3,600 secondes) and ERN (19A: Follower of directions) and BOZ (4D: Name attached to some 1836 "Sketches") and SUEZ CRISIS (17A: Campaign setting for Moshe Dayan) going in, in that order, very quickly. From there just guessed that the first word of 1A: 1956 film that earned an Oscar nomination for 11-year-old Patty McCormack ("THE BAD SEED") was probably THE, and that blew the NW wide open. Misremember LOM (25A: Player of Clouseau's superior) as LUM, and STARR (47A: Whitewater navigator?) as STERN (?), and thought a [Budgeting concern] might be a budget GAP instead of a CAP, but otherwise, a tractable puzzle (SE excepted).

  • 15A: Victorian conveyance (VELOCIPEDE) — Wasn't too hard to piece together. Seems like a word Mr. Burns would use, or has used, on "The Simpsons."
  • 32A: Protagonist bound for Mordor (FRODO) — just got into my first of what I imagine will be many "Lord of the Rings"-related arguments with daughter, who has recently discovered Tolkien and become obsessed. She wants a LOTR-themed party. Some suggestion that the cake should be ring-shaped. Me: "But then the cake will drive you crazy." Her: "It doesn't drive you crazy." Me: "Uh, yes it does." Her: "No. It can. Over time." Me: "Whether I shoot you in the face, or poison you slowly 'over time,' you will still be dead. That ring drives you crazy. 'Over time' doesn't make any difference." Her, in dramatically exasperated fashion: "It makes all the difference in the world..." I stopped arguing there.
  • 64A: Person not credited for a save? (UNSUNG HERO) — nice. Figured it would begin with a negative prefix, but had "I" there from "IRIS," which could have made said negative prefix "IN-," and so I kept IRIS (and thus didn't see ARUM) for far too long.
  • 66A: High point of 1980 news (MT. ST. HELENS) — so all three long Acrosses are essentially "?" clues, but since two (incl. this one) are literal (in their own special ways), only one actually has the "?" ... yes, a mountain is a "high point," though the mountain in question was somewhat less high after the massive eruption.
  • 3D: Classmate of Felicity on "Felicity" (ELENA) — a secondary character on a bygone show that never meant anything to me. Hurray. "Felicity" is the new "Ally McBeal."
  • 14D: Churchyard, quaintly (GOD'S ACRE) — I know the Erskine Caldwell title "GOD'S LITTLE ACRE." It is really not "quaint," and has nothing to do with churchyards. It's chock full of sexual language and activity, and was the object of an obscenity trial in NY, so ... I'm pretty sure these people have never read it.
  • 24D: Coin with the monogram of King Harald V (KRONE) — Current King of Norway. Fun fact: acc. to wikipedia, he is 63rd in line to the British throne.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Noam D. Elkies 12:32 AM  

There's still a difference between offering your guests wine (or even cigars) and arsenic, even though they're both poison...


Zeke 12:46 AM  

As badly as I did in the SE, never once did I utter HUNH. I did utter WTF when I saw that HUNH was purported to be a spelling of some word, grunt, something that came out of a human mouth, but never did I utter HUNH.

foodie 12:53 AM  

I'm staying out of the father-daughter argument : )

However, I fully agree with Rex re the puzzle. I do my Quick and Dirty Index before solving and it showed it to be on the Challenging side, and for the longest time I could not understand why. Then I hit that SE corner, and it was plain impossible. I had to cheat to finish it, and that even was not easy.

REMSLEEP and SUEZ CRISIS were my first entries and that really made a huge difference. And I must be getting better because OBESE was immediately obvious--a year ago it would have taken me forever.

Had ALTA for ACRO, but that was easy enough to undo.

An OLD timey feel to the whole puzzle with Victorian conveyances, old movies, bygone TV shows...But in general, I admired several original entries (VELOCIPEDE!) and the impressive construction.

JC66 1:08 AM  

Agree with @Zeke re: HUNH.

I knew Joann PFLUG from M*A*S*H (the movie) but at first I spelled it with an H.

Also had REBOUNDate, like @Rex. Finally had to resort to Google to get JMSYNGE, which gave me SEAMY and opened up the corner for me.

Finally, I didn't know that they called bicycles VELOCIPEDES in Australia.

r.alphbunker 1:31 AM  

It was down to hobo---,ur-,-rum, f-ia-ent. Realized that I didn't know the first three and was placing my hopes on whatever was on the big case. Wanted fl or fr very badly. Finally guessed arum but it wasn't until I verified it in google that I was psychologically able to see the bag and then fbi. That was my only use of outside sources. My guess is that if I had slept on it, it would have come naturally.

edith b 3:39 AM  

I got 1A THEBADSEED straightaway as I saw it as a teen on late night TV and it scared the hell out of me. Its hard to imagine a movie about a ten year old pinafore wearing little girl who is a sociopathic killer - made in 1956, yet

It was campy even then but it is hard to watch the little girl's mother slowly realize her daughter has murdered several people including a child. It was a novel first, made into a Broadway play and finally this movie.

The ending is priceless. The little girl is struck by lightning and killed and the cast breaks down the 4th wall - in a classic Broadway tradition - assembles and takes a bow as the mother wags her finger at the little girl and laughingly gives her a gentle spanking - as if a good spanking is all it would have taken to redeem this little monster. There is a lot of psychiatric mumbo-jumbo about heredity skipping a generation (the little girls maternal grandfather was also a sociopathic killer) which takes the child's mother and father off the hook, responsibility-wise.

You had to live in the '50s, I guess, to understand all this stuff.

jae 4:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 4:03 AM  

Like yesterday, 3/4s pretty smooth (easy-medium) and, as noted by all so far, SE a bear. HUNH = a large WTF.

Had AERO before ACRO.

@edith b -- 1a was also a no crosses gimmie for me for exactly the same reasons.

I actually knew PFLUG, it was finally remembering ARUM that opened SE up for me.

Anyone else have UPS before DHL?

I liked this one. Lots of interesting stuff (e.g. VELOCIPEDE, REBOUNDGUY) and a good Sat. challenge.

4:00 AM

Joe 5:33 AM  

Arsenic, indeed, and without much of the Old Lace.
I was on a nice Saturday roll all through August, and today's puzzle just rammed me right through Mt. St. Helens.
I mean:
"Hunh"?! That doesn't even make sene.

"Mourn"? Yes, Electra mourned a great deal over her father's murder, and yes her mourning was quite passive (unlike her impetuous brother's).

HOWEVER, her mourning was never very distinctive in Aeschylus or Euripides. So, the only good explanation is if Wilber was referring not to the original but to the mid-20th century potboiler by Eugene O'Neill "Mourning Becomes Electra". But, Who thinks "Electra" and then thinks "Oh, yeah, Eugene O'Neill"?! Ridiculous: Electra conjures Greek tragedy not second-rate American playwrights.

John 5:34 AM  

The first time I saw THE BAD SEED was on late nite TV in Hamilton Ohio, in 1970. Watching it at 4 in the afternoon just isnt quite the same.

This puzzle was indeed challanging for me. I was surprised at all the things I actually knew, alot of it from crosswords.

merlbaby 7:39 AM  

just a belated comment from thursday's puzzle about AH SO -- i brought it up about it three or four years ago on cruciverb because i'd gotten a blistering letter about it, so i did some research and found that there's nothing racist about it; it's just an expression we've borrowed from the japanese. now, when it's couched in racist drawings or other stereotypical renderings, as it was, say, during world war two, then it it can very well seem like a slur, but on its own, it's harmless.

but there is a common mistake in cluing it: since it's a japanese expression, it's highly unlikely that charlie chan ever said it, since he's a chinese sleuth. mr. moto, a japanese sleuth, might have said it, but not charlie chan. and i got this information from a guy who wrote a charlie chan encyclopedia (!), so i figured if anyone would know, he would. just to keep things straight, it's the japanese who often have trouble with L's (hence the mocking expression "rotsa ruck" and others) and it's the chinese who have trouble with R's (hence "so solly," et cetera), so, according to the encyclopedia guy, charlie chan would never have said something like, "correction, prease." making such japanese-chinese mistakes could be construed as racist, i guess, depending on one's attitude and intent, but for me it was just a case of easily rectified ignorance.

but in and of itself, AH SO seems to be fine. anyway, FYI. --merl

Leslie 7:49 AM  

Playing devil's advocate, I've seen HUNH? many times, many places, so I was fine with that answer.

My favorite answer was probably REBOUND GUY; I spent a ton of the SE quadrant wondering if there was a special term for one of the pins that usually remain when you've bowled a split. Having "alum" instead of ARUM didn't help.

Like others, I got THE BAD SEED immediately from having seen it on TV. Contrast the scares in that movie with today's movies that get their chills from gore and/or the supernatural! The movie would still creep me out, I'm sure--the little girl is so impassive and deliberate as she plans her murders. And she's not even angry--she just kills anyone who thwarts her in any way. I understand the feel-good "She gets punished" scene was an add-on for the movie and didn't exist in the play version--you walked out of the play still feeling thoroughly chilled by this hopelessly diabolical child and her appalled mother.

Rex Parker 8:34 AM  


That's a great defense of AH, SO, but I can't agree that it's "harmless". Whatever its origins, the phrase evokes *nothing* but caricatures of Asian speech to me, probably because in our culture that is how it was popularized. White people (or actors) imitating how Asians speak (and usu. conflating all Asians in the process)—that is about the only association I have with that phrase. This is because pop culture through the 80s was inundated with racial caricatures of Asian people. I am having trouble seeing how a clue for AH SO can effectively say "ignore that Mountain of visible, audible, youtubable evidence and focus on this original utterly unracialized meaning even though you've never witnessed it in your life."

In my experience, "Ah so" tends to go along with a whole "ching chong," turning Rs to Ls (or vice versa) racist freakout (you saw that "Beatles" cartoon I posted the other day, right?)

I would be (genuinely) interested in seeing an instance of AH SO usage that didn't carry with it some sort of racial baggage. Because I have no doubt you are right about its "harmless" history, but I just can't imagine/hear it.

So I guess I am conceding (pending evidence) some innocent meaning, but suggesting that decades of racist usage have made that innocence irretrievable.

Thanks for the thoughtful discussion.


VaBeach puzzler 8:38 AM  

I was pflummoxed by the NE quadrant, decided to leave it for a new day. Then woke up at 2:30a.m., picked up my printout and filled in the rest. This is why I'm a tournament straggler; my brain needs recovery time.
p.s. I got GREEN BELT but don't get it...

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

@VaBeach Puzzler - GREENBELT represents a Green Belt in Karate, where one would practice karate chops. So, a rising "chopper" would earn his or her green belt.

@Zeke - Utter Hunh is the second largest prefecture in Mongolia. How could you not know that? Are you another American ignorant of the rest of the world?

Evgeny 9:06 AM  

Oh noooooo, this Mongolia comment would have been the most hilarious tidbit if it was true. Dammit, why can't reality ever live up to one's expectations!

An absolutely unsolvable puzzle for the vocabulary-wise handicapped foreigner today. Looked like swiss cheese, as Germans would say.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:54 AM  

Great puzzle!

I was so surprised to see that others had any difficulty with it, since I would rate it Easy-Medium at most. Maybe because I did this one over breakfast; no beach today.

Did have one write-over, at 22D, thought the Budgeting concern would be CAR before CAP. Also spent some time, but guessed right in the end, thinking that 545 A could be a hoboRag before hoboBag, since 45 D was potentially anything.

Bill from FL 9:57 AM  

For "They're often closed in an emergency," I wrote BANKS so confidently that I never questioned BIGG, assuming it was an actress I'd never heard of (or had forgotten). I doubt that the constructor intended that bit of misdirection.

G. Khan 10:05 AM  

@Evgeny - Actually, the second-largest Aimag (or province) of Mongolia by area is Govi-Altai, as all crossword solvers should know. I would refer you to Matt Gaffney's contest of just last week.

Noam D. Elkies 10:06 AM  

Rex writes:

I would be (genuinely) interested in seeing an instance of AH SO usage that didn't carry with it some sort of racial baggage.

Would earwitness evidence do?

On at least two occasions a Japanese mathematician has said "Ah, so" to me, in a context where the only possible meaning seemed to be "I see" or "OK" without any suggestion of parody. I was surprised because I had always taken the phrase for a Western caricature of Oriental speech. So I thank Merl for explaining that it is in fact a legitimate Japanese phrase.

NDE [captcha = mundal = there's no I in WORLD CUP!]

P.S. I dimly recall a front company "Funt & Pflug" in one of the Candid Camera gags.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Did not come close to finishing this.

I had: "It's an emergency ... time to close the vents!"

Tobias Duncan 10:15 AM  

Noam I think Rex concedes that when the Japanese use it there is no racial baggage. It's the use in western culture that is suspect.

The top of this puzzle went down like buttah but the lower half stopped me dead in my tracks. Even cheating did not get the motor running again. This puzzle was waaaaaaay out of my league.

Glimmerglass 10:23 AM  

Brutal! I'm prepared for a long think on a Saturday, but this was three hours. Even then I didn't see FBIagent until the very last, after I'd almost given up. When I finally saw that it might be FBI, I realized that ubi is Latin for "where." The triple 10 stack in the SE was the worst. All hard clues! I think "rebound guy" is lame, but the other two are fair Saturday stinkers. I happened to know Pflug, but had no clue why "greenbelt" was right until Anonymous explained it. Great puzzle! (I don't mind being slow, if I eventually prevail -- or almost prevail.)

Rex Parker 10:24 AM  

Thanks to NDE and Tobias for highlighting an important distinction. — maybe if AH SO were clued specifically as a *Japanese* expression of understanding, it would seem more acceptable to me.

Apologies for briefly hijacking discussion of today's puzzle.


Anonymous 10:25 AM  

i think i've seen HUNH in comic books. somewhere. i've seen it so i was able to get that relatively easily (relatively, being the operative term).

my favorite mess up was 14D in which i thought the quainter term for a churchyard would be "SODSACRE" know, SOD SACRE? as in sacred sod? that's quaint, right?

had SEEDY for SEAMY, had HOBORAG for HOBOBAG, and PFLAG for PFLUG for the longest time.

my only contention with the cluing was room fixture. really? of all the things fixed in a hospital room, the answer is a TVSET? how about hotel room fixture? or den fixture? or sports bar fixture? when i'm in a hospital room TVSETs are not top of my mind awareness...

58A was lame-o, IMHO. but better than hospital fixture...

abide 10:33 AM  

REBOUNDSEX (with WAXES crossing) delayed me for a while, but still finished with one mistake at JMSONGE.

I justified GREENBELT as someone chopping crops in a field. It deals with karate? Ah so!

joho 11:01 AM  

I agree about the SE but the last area for me to get was around FBI/UBI. I had J SYNGE and am sorry to say picked up the dictionary for the mystery "M." But that "M" was my aha moment for UPINARMS which confirmed FBI and gave me MOPUP which made me recall PFLUG and I was done.

@Anon 8:48 ... very funny!

@Rex and @Merl ... interesting discussion regarding AH SO, thank you.

Brad Wilber ... thank you for your challenging, interesting puzzle!

Jim in Chicago 11:20 AM  

Geysers - or Geysirs - don't have nationality. The Great Geysir is certainly IN Iceland, but it isn't "Icelandic" any more than Mt. St. Helens is American.

Norm 11:22 AM  

@abide Pretty much the here for GREENBELT. I imaged an axe as a RISING (and falling) CHOPPER among trees.

Hobbyist 11:44 AM  

"The BAD SEED"was creepy but the movie ending with the girl, Rhoda, being killed by a bolt from the blue was changed from the book in which the mother shot herself and gave Rhoda sleeping pills. Mother died but father was consoled as he "still had Rhoda." She'd been discovered and treated in time.
It was Rhoda's grandMOTHER who was the murderess, not the grandfather.Bessie Denker. Even the name suggests evil.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Challenging? Hum. Shouldn't "very difficult" at least be a category?

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

I still do not understand HUNH. What does it mean?

Sparky 12:08 PM  

Hurray for Diana Rigg. @anon. 8:48. Thanks for explaining GREEN BELT. I thought it was a clear area around helicopter so the rotors won't getchya. HUNH is one of those words I don't think anyone can spell. Another is nuh huh to express no. And I don't think I've ever heard that first "n". So it goes. Finished this puzzle much to my surprise. Knew LOM, HOBOBAG, THE BAD SEED which I saw in a movie house. 58A clever, 20A also. Good Saturday for me. Have a nice weekend.

andrea hunh? michaels 12:10 PM  

Ironically, despite getting HUNH?, I did not get the bottom three rows and I blame the REBOUND thing. :(
(That and my lack of knowledge about JMSYNGE, and @jae my insistence on leaving in UPS)

Yikes, hand up here for seeing Electra and immediately put in MOURN bec it was the only thing I could think would become her!

@hey merl! I didn't know you came here! I tried to explain that Ah SO is even in Swedish, and similar linguistically even to our "I see" but no one responded.

Not finishing today does not bode well for the tournament in ALameda in an the last puzzle of the day is a 21 x 21 by Tyler :(
San Fran mann is en route to pick me up...Thank you Rex's blog!

Sparky 12:37 PM  

P.S. The registration hours for the JASA Open House are 10 am to 2pm. John Jay College 899 10 Ave (Bet. 58 and 59 Sts.) Sunday Sept. 12.
They have finished reading the names and I've been tearing up all morning which is odd as I didn't cry at all on that day. Too stunned. We go on.

ArtLvr 12:45 PM  

'ELLO, all! Very happy with Brad Wilbur's puzzle since I completed it 100% on my own. WOO!

AW GEE, I did have a few fleeting faux starts, like Snee for DIRK, UPS for DHL, and Old-time for OLD LINE. No major impediments, though, until that EDIT MENU near the end. It was escaping me.

I knew ARUM, but who'd have thunk TEAKS were in the mint family? Learn a little flora every day...


p.s. I love it that even the Swedes say "Ah so". Don't German speakers say "Ach, so?" I think they may. And I'd remind everyone up tight about the phrase that Charlie Chan was a Honolulu-based detective, and much enjoyed by Asians seeing him in American films, a distinct improvement to them over villlains like Dr. Fu Manchu.

Ben 1:02 PM  

You know what else are often closed in an emergency? LANES.

Nice tough puzzle as usual from Mr. Wilber. Me, I thought the NE was the brutal part.

Kerry 1:10 PM  

Fascinating... I STARTED with the SE. Got UNSUNG HERO right away, which gave me DHL and BSS. With the B and the D saw "reBounD guy", and things quickly fell into place. Happy to have missed out on the torture. :)

I had a tougher time in the NW and middle (EDIT MENU, PFLUG). But the SE was my easy intro.

Two Ponies 1:38 PM  

Crash and burn in the SE.
I even entertained the thought that 52D might be referring to Carmen Electra. I finally got it thanks to the mountain hero guy stacking.
What caused my DNF was the unknown playwright crossing the Keats quote.
I was just proud to get everything else.
The Bad Seed was the only true gimme.
The playful spanking that Rhoda gets around the roll of the credits in the movie ruined the whole creepy experience. I guess 50's sensibilities were in need of soothing in those days.
Hunh was ridiculous.

Squeek 1:45 PM  

Yesterday we had Howdyedo and today Hunh.
I'd rather learn a new foreign word than try to figure out these mangled spellings.
Puzzle was some tough love today.

Matthew G. 2:04 PM  

This puzzle was seriously hampered for me by at least two answers that I just don't buy. HUNH makes me say "What the ..." -- but not the other way around.

And who on Earth sneezes from TICKLES? Not me or anyone I've ever tickled, that's for sure. I guessed PEPPERS in that space and it threw me off for a while.

A few others were stretches, even if I was pretty confident about them. I don't really see how Ken Starr "navigated" the Whitewater scandal -- more like he steered it (of course, that may be my political views creeping into the solve).

And despite years of living in parts of the NYC area well populated with hipsters, I too had never heard of a HOBO BAG.

PuzzleNut 2:38 PM  

DNF, but glad to come here and see that I wasn't the only one that had trouble. URB? UBI?? HUNH??? Damn those U's.
HOBO hAt had such a nice ring to it that I just couldn't let it go. Took a guess at PFLUG, but still couldn't see the FBI AGENT (but then I never had much confidence in the F, unlike the mistaken T from HAT). Had all three of the long SE answers fairly early on, but that got me thinking of INGE, instead of SYNGE, and I figured JMS might be an abbr for JAMES (not!). Had a few ideas for T?I but ?UNH was so ugly I finally just gave up on that letter.
EDIT MENU was a slog, but it was worth it once I finally saw it. Same with GREEN BELT.
I'm always a little disappointed with a DNF, but today I was excited that I got as much as I did. Very enjoyable!

SethG 2:49 PM  

There was a lot of stuff that I painstakingly worked out. In not one case was I delighted by what I found when I finally got it. (Maybe because the stuff I really liked, either for the word or for the clue, I got right away. Like EDIT MENU, UP IN ARMS, ICELANDIC...)

Er, scratch that. I couldn't believe that was really the clue they came up with for RING A BELL, because I was thinking they should have clued the colloquial phrase instead of the actual ringing of a bell by, say, Pavlov. Until just now. Yeah, never mind.

I had a budget GAP, but HUNH pretty much right away.

Anonymous 2:50 PM  

anon at 11:59: There are 3 ratings: easy, medium and challenging, so challenging more or less equals very difficult.

CoffeeLvr 3:10 PM  

I am pleased with my results today. Had one Google to fix J M SeNGE, it just didn't look right. One wrong square where Ms. bIGG crossed bANKS. SE hardest, like almost everyone.

@Rex, I am with you on Ah So. I see it as pejorative, and have certainly seen it used in that way, by US auto workers referring to Japanese engineers.

@EdithB, agree a good spanking would not have helped Rhoda. Cover story in current SciAm Mind is "The Making of a Psychopath, Why They Don't Care: They Can't." Answer, in brief, abnormal brain processing & physiology that impairs emotional development. Genetic component thought to be about half. So yes, there can be a BAD SEED. Apologies to Foodie for gross over-simplification.

joho 3:27 PM  

@Matthew G ... think of how something pungent like black pepper would tickle your nose to make you sneeze.

As far a HOBOBAG, it's something you'd hear or read about in a fashion magazine, not at all that uncommon of a phrase.

After all the comments regarding THEBADSEED I've decided never to watch it!

Evgeny 4:13 PM  

since Ulrich's probably busy watching tennis, i'll jump in. @ ArtLvr: yes, German speakers do say "Ach so" all the time and it means exactly "I see". Not the least bit offensive to Germans AND a more coherent way to clue "ach" than what feels like the last five times i saw it in the nyt crossword.

fikink 4:14 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, my sincere congratulations on your breakfast feat. This puzzle moitelized me!

Began the puzzle last night with a hot toddy, fell asleep going over the same clues time and again, only to awake to the house full of smoke and the smoke detectors blaring. (I had forgotten I had put some stock to simmer on the stove.) Who knew doing crosswords and toddies was as dangerous as smoking in bed!

@Ben, indeed, recalling our blizzards of November, I confidently entered "roads" instead of RANKS.

I agree with @PuzzleNut, EDIT MENU and GREEN BELT get the blue ribbon for clueing.

Could not remember who in the dickens did the sketches.

Hawks lead it, 7-zip so far.
Life is good.

Happy weekending all.
(You, too, @Evgeny.)

Tobias Duncan 4:20 PM  

This hayseed actually thought for a moment that fashionable NY women were walking the streets of Manhattan with sticks slung over their shoulders that had little red ragsacks dangling from the ends. That seems more like a hobobag than an oversized purse...

I might just make one. Would that qualify as a unisex item?

valentine 5:28 PM  

Found Rex's diagnosis accurate. My problem began with "unwholesome" as a clue for "seamy." Showing the the seamy side up on clean linens prevents accidental smutching in the handling.

Evgeny 5:29 PM  

@ fikink: Just read your yesterday's last comment and feel that there has been a misunderstanding. I took your comment about Mr. Parker's mind moving at an other level of consciousness to be either a grossly oversized compliment to our host or a (not particularly funny) joke. This is why I - jocularly - referred to this comment - and to it only - as an expression of "faith". It is only in such context that I would call any "faith" nonsensical - along the lines of star trek conventions and the like.
Should you have actual religious convictions regarding this topic that I have offended, I am deeply sorry and take back everything I said to do so.

Anonymous 5:41 PM  

Brutal, and I hate to have to cheat at all, much less MANY times. But the answers produced many pleasurable groans at the very clever (and maddening) clues.

PuzzleNut 5:54 PM  

@Bob K - Congrats indeed on finishing today's puzzle. Unlike other days, our minds were not aligned today.
@fikink - Don't you just hate it when you are so close to the answer but you you can't quite get it. LOL!

Vega 6:39 PM  

I for one guessed HUNH as soon as I saw "what the..." but figured it just couldn't be right. Still learning that I need to trust my instincts more! And clearly, being from Washington State means something, because "1980" and "news" already scream to me MTSTHELENS -- add "high point," and it's a slam dunk. All of which is to say that I found the SE relatively "easy" (in a brutal-Saturday kind of way) and the NW by far the hardest quadrant. But I really, really, really loved this puzzle.

Anonymous 7:23 PM  

Is DHL even still in business? Got stuck with UPS there for the longest until I realized that the across had to be MTSTHELENS. I must be showing my age...I got The Bad Seed right off, which helped some. Got a bit misled by '50s comedy first name--used DEAN for DESI for a bit. And who knew that teak trees are in the mint family?

archaeoprof 8:04 PM  

Finished, with no errors.

But another charmless, dull, tedious, slog of a puzzle.

I solve for fun, but Brad Wilber's puzzles take all the fun out of solving.

So from now on, when I see his name, I'm just going to skip it.

syndy 8:29 PM  

dnf- suspect problem many have with Ah So is same as some had with jewfro;those familiar had less problem. As a celtic-chinese hybrid myself Idon't quite understand how a legitimate phrase by itself can be perjorative;anyway the emperor of Japan loved G&S's Mikado-surely intent and context count

foodie 8:37 PM  

Hi Edith B! I was just saying a few days ago that I missed you. It's great to have you back. I never saw the BAD SEED but your description is chilling.

@CoffeeLvr, you captured it well. There is definitely something miswired in true psychopaths, possibly genetic but it can also be due to experience during development. Very tough to treat. And the more they act on it, the more rewarding it seems to becomes, like an addiction. There is some interesting research on brain biology of empathy and compassion, so some day may be will figure out that biology. I'll pick up that article to see what it says.

@Tobias Duncan, your hobo bag description made me laugh. As Joho said, it's a recognizable item in fashion, with almost a million hits when you google it, as opposed to say "hobo hat" which gets a couple of thousands.

mac 9:13 PM  

dnf - mainly because I can't keep my eyes open, just returned from Holland. Good to be back, though!

Ulrich 9:45 PM  

Late to the party b/c my internet connection was down for most of the day and is up now after i spent more than an hour with two people on the phone who advised me to plug in or out various devices. I could finish this beast w/o help although I kept on staring at HUNH, believing there had to be a mistake--I still don't get it.

The highlight was that, for once, my German background helped: When I was looking at P_LUG and trying to figure out a plausible name, I put down the F b/c "Pflug" is a common German word--it means "plough"--that gave me the FBI agent and the rest followed...well, except for the incomprehensible HUNH.

fikink 10:19 PM  

Oh, goodie! A chance to make my case.
Thanks, in advance, @Rex for giving me leave.

@evgeny, no, you did not offend me. It is just the nature of the community that Rex has fashioned through his guilelessness that I rush like a Mama Bear to protect. Rex, at heart, is a mensch. He may have started this blog to instruct his students, as an exercise in writing every day, or just from an enthusiasm for crossword puzzles and the New York scene.
In his efforts he has managed to gather about him a schoolyard of playmates who like to be kind and clever and curious and sharing. And, in so doing, like any artist, his creation has a life of its own. There are no “should have knowns” or “I can’t believe you teach and don’t know that!”
There is just, “Hey, look at what happened to me today while I was transacting this puzzle.” And “Doesn’t vuvuzela sound a little too much like vulva?”

There is something really cool that is happening in this country. We are attempting to become an empathic nation without the divides of high and low culture, despite what all the Old Guard NYT maniacal pompous asses of the Establishment wish to perpetuate.

I advise everyone to just consider the following:

As Jim Morrison said, Nobody gets out of here alive.

shrub5 10:46 PM  

@Ulrich: Your internet experience has happened often to me too. I have gone through contortions crawling under my desk to unplug, replug, do this, do that for 30 minutes or more, just to eventually be told "oh, there's a service outage in your area." Why can't they tell me that right off? There's always the assumption that you're some dumbass who can't figure out how to use your own computer. OK, rant over.

Terrific but hard puzzle. Nothing more to add to the above. Thanks for the explanation of GREENBELT -- that clue really puzzled me.

PS: I have a HOBO BAG.

Moonchild 10:57 PM  

Hobo bag started out as hob nail in my grid. I was thinking hob nail boot as a combat boot would be. I guess the Clash were on my mind.

andrea reboundgal michaels 11:03 PM  

Joann Pflug and Fanny Flagg should come to one of those dinner parties is it Fkink who is always organizing and let them duke it out :)

Just back from Alameda tourney. About 60 folks, 3 puzzles from next week and a Tyler Hinman 21 x21 monster that I was happy to finish for once. No final 3, we all got an hour for the last puzzle which was fun. And shockingly, Eric Maddy won again!

Some past and present Rexites were there:
Crosscan and his lovely wife, Charlene, Karmasutra, Fergus, and this guy who lurks here who was a doppelganger for Patrick Blindauer.

SanFranMan59 and I finished in the top 13 more or less :) A good time was had by all!

Larry 3:36 PM  

According to RHD2, "God's acre" is a colloquial term dating from the 1600s.

Presumably it's what Caldwell based the name of his novel on.

I outclevered myself on this puzzle, figuring he *wanted* me to think about a rebound relationship, to lead me away from BOWLING PIN. Took me a long time to give that one up, with inevitable disaster in the SE.

On the other hand, I knew PFLUG, which got me ____ MENU, so the NW fell quickly.

Penny 5:03 AM  

Struggled mightily with this one; finally went to Rex's blog for 66A, filled in 'mtsthelens', but kept reading it as 'mts the lens'. Felt very foolish when I realised my stupidity, especially as we were deluged in ash here in southern Alberta at the time.
Thank goodness for the benign education one gets from this blog.

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