Jewelry designer Elsa / SUN 11-7-10 / Lex Luthor alter ego / First near-Earth asteroid / Spot overseer / Sitcom role for Brandy Norwood / Has 21 spots

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Constructor: Will Nediger

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Leading Articles" — familiar two-word phrases where second word starts A+[double letter] have double letter turned to single letter and "A" detached (to function as an "article"), thus creating wacky three-word phrases, which are clued "?"-wise


Word of the Day: Elsa PERETTI (14D: Jewelry designer Elsa) —

Elsa Peretti (born May 1, 1940) is an Italian jewelry designer. // She was born in Florence, Italy, the daughter of a well-to-do Roman family. She became interested in making jewelry while in prison [ed.: !?!?!]. Educated at Volbicela School in Rome, with a diploma in interior design. In early jobs she was a French teacher, a ski instructor and a model. She moved to New York in the 1960s, where she began designing jewelry for a handful of top designers, including Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Giorgio di Sant'Angelo and Tiffany & Co. (wikipedia)
• • •

This played much tougher than the average Sunday. Far fewer gimmes, and a theme that (at least for me) took a while to figure out. Also, cluing that was thorny. Deliberately vague or misleading, all over the place. I didn't like it so much as I was solving, but on reflection, there is much that I admire. This discrepancy between solving and post-solving attitude is possibly due to the fact that I didn't *fully* understand the theme until just after I finished — that is, I didn't get how "LEADING ARTICLES" was at all relevant. "LEADING" had me looking at the front of the *whole* answer, and finding no "article," I was just annoyed. But once I noticed that the theme answers involved not just double-to-single-letter switches, but the detachment (in every case) of the "A" from the second word, such that it became the indefinite *article* "A" ... well, then I had to revise my opinion of the theme a bit. Revise it upward. Really, I should welcome the added challenge on Sundays—too often, Sundays just feel like bloated Wednesdays, with themes that, once cracked, offer little enjoyment. This one required work, and the grid was at least interesting, and often quite compelling, everywhere I looked.

That NW was just ridiculously hard for me to get into. No idea that Telly SAVALAS had been Oscar-nominated. Despite the Greekness of the clue, he was Nowhere on my radar (1A: Oscar-nominated actor with the given name Aristotelis). VIS-A-VIS, ugh! (3D: With 4-Across, in relation to). No hope (for a while). Started with correct SIR and AGE, but then figured 19A: "Fine, tell me" was "GO AHEAD!" (instead of "I GIVE UP"). That pretty much shut things down up there (for the second day in a row, I finished in the NW). The section just underneath that was no picnic either. DUAD!? (28D: Couple) Oh, my eyes/ears! Tried DYAD but "Y" didn't work. EDEN was forgotten by me (30D: British P.M. between Churchill and Macmillan), and AD EXEC (grumble grumble) was a no-hoper as well (43A: Spot overseer). [Vigorous] wasn't exactly a direct route to DYNAMIC. So the entire NW region was a slog.

NE had issues too—total middling proper noun fest. Jewelry designer I've *barely* heard of (and then only from xwords) (PERETTI). Same with the opera singer (18D: Opera singer Simon => ESTES). No hope for "RAMA" (21D: Arthur C. Clarke's "Rendezvous With ___"). BENIN I guess at, correctly (17D: Neighbor of Nigeria and Togo). POWERPC (93A: It was developed by Apple, IBM and Motorola) / HAVASU (102A: Lake ___ City, Ariz.) region was fraught with rough waters as well. So I earned my Happy Pencil today. Not much to complain about, honestly. Thought ATOM MAN was a bit beyond the pale (I know a little something about comics and did not know this) (130A: Lex Luthor alter ego, once). Fell into the MORLEY-for-LESLEY pit (128A: First name on "60 Minutes"). Not much else to tell.


Theme answers:
  • 22A: Try staying awake? (RESISTING A REST)
  • 36A: Pinned down? (UNDER A TACK)
  • 72A: Really enjoy going to carnivals? (LOVE A FAIR)
  • 106A: Straddling one's opponent? (UPON A RIVAL) winner!
  • 123A: Frisking Dracula? (CHECKING A COUNT)
  • 16D: Mechanic's task? (EVENING A TIRE)
  • 64D: What the dissatisfied female giftee might do after Christmas? (RETURN A DRESS)


Bullets:
  • 21A: Steve who played the title role of Hercules in a 1959 film (REEVES) — a gimme. Nice multivalent mini-theme, with "Hercules" recalling NEMEA down in the SW (109D: Site of Hercules' first labor), and REEVES recalling *George* REEVES, who played TV's Superman, who is apparently a foe of ... ATOM MAN!
  • 54A: Popular word in German product packaging (NEU) — I went with the less probable NIE! ("Never!")
  • 104A: Prepresidential title for Bill Clinton or Woodrow Wilson (PROF.) — don't think I knew this; needed a couple crosses to pick it up.
  • 113A: First near-Earth asteroid to be discovered (EROS) — because asteroids are erotic? EROS backwards is SORE. How unfortunate.
  • 23D: Kingdom overthrown in 2008 (NEPAL) — weird to get your news from crosswords, but that's most certainly how I learned this about NEPAL. Another fun fact about NEPAL that I learned from xwords: its flag has five sides.
  • 39D: The "K" of James K. Polk (KNOX) — some day, after being beleaguered by this clue for years, I will remember the answer. Today was not that day.
  • 45D: Handyman's exclamation ("GOOD AS NEW!") — I had no idea even where to begin with this one. "I MADE THAT!"
  • 61D: It may involve punitive tariffs (TRADE WAR) — went with TRADE LAW; bad mistake, if only because it looked and felt so right.
  • 62D: Sitcom role for Brandy Norwood (MOESHA) — '90s! UPN! She was a super-talented teen sensation. MOESHA is a great crossword name ... until the show fades so far into the past that no one remembers it anymore. I think this clue is harder now than it would've been a decade ago.

  • 94D: Sitarist Shankar (RAVI) — Dude is virtually crosswordese. One of a smallish batch of flat-out gimmes for me today.
  • 108D: Unpopular baby name (ADOLF) — Hitler killed ADOLF. Did Amin kill IDI? I know Stalin didn't kill JOSEF / JOSEPH.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. just want to plug my friend Patrick Blindauer's latest suite of puzzles, "I Know Where I Was Last Summer," a 10-puzzle affair that is also a contest with pretty great prizes (GET IT HERE). Also, he has a new freebie puzzle at his website (GET IT HERE). You may know Patrick's puzzles from such publications as The New York Times ... and virtually everywhere else that publishes puzzles. He's one of the best.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

66 comments:

SethG 12:15 AM  

I had a largely different experience than you did. Started quickly. Entered VIS-A-VIS with no crosses. Got the theme from the first theme answer I filled in. Zipped through the diagonals. And finished in faster than average time.

My big sticking point: REEVES. And sticky it was--the sci-fi could be RAMA, LAMA, MAMA, or more. The jewelery I'd heard of, but PAR/PER/PIRETTI were all possible. LEDA/LIDA. And ExTES could be at least ESTES or ERTES. George REEVES would have saved me but good.

Nice work, Wills.

Anonymous 1:04 AM  

I've never had my tires evened...guess I'd better look into
that next week at the garage.

retired_chemist 1:08 AM  

Nice easy-medium Sunday. I was puzzled at the title – It revealed nothing about the theme to me. The theme was gettable from one example, though, so it wasn’t a problem.

I saw the clue [conger cousin] for 10D and instantly said, “That’s a moray!” OK, I didn’t. So sue me.

Thought of Jor-El for 86A but 68D needed a K at the end instead of a J, so that was that.

128A was MORLEY at first, “confirmed” by ---LEY being right. Easily fixed.

I have no idea about the history of EDESSA (132A), but it had the D and the two S’es needed, and it was right. High crosswordese.

I found little to enthuse about, but also little to complain about. Meh.

Joshua 1:38 AM  

Anyone else notice that the clues for 3-Down and 4-Down incorrectly referenced each other as 4-Across and 3-Across?

retired_chemist 1:56 AM  

@ Joshua - yes. It threw me for a minute.

Patrick Merrell's comment in the Wordplay blog notes that the problem has been fixed in the print edition.

chefwen 1:03 AM  

This one was a total slog-o-fest for me. I enjoyed some of the long ones after being revealed but the whole thing just seemed to me like pulling teeth, slow and painful. Maybe I'm just half a bubble off tonight. I did finish, but Jesus H. Chrysler, it took me forever. I almost said "I GIVE UP" halfway through but the other half said "don't be a weenie" so I persevered, and I won.

jae 2:26 AM  

Meh for me also (@r_c). EVENINGATIRE is a large stretch. Had the same problems in NW as Rex. Briefly tried DRAGRACING and fell for the MORELY misdirection. This was kinda of a let down after the Thurs.-Sat run.

DUAD vs. DUET?? Say what?

Jim 5:42 AM  

Was flying through the puzzle. Even went back and fixed my MOR/LES -LEY problem and changed to EDESSA--and then KABLAMO!! Hit the far east and NE. Gave up and came here to loosen the phlegm. Still little help. Made me glad I didn't fret over that section any longer than I already had.

Just...too many obscure names and interchangeable phrases. Didn't help that I had MORAt starting tE_ instead of YE_ for YELLSAT. Wanted tELLSoff but, of course, that didn't fit. Conger cousin? ? ? As in Dharva Conger? I thought "boy, the proper name bench is running low when you put in relatives of reality stars for 10 years ago". Oh well. Really enjoyed the theme...don't agree with the dismissiveness of others. EVENINGATIRE is nothing short of brilliant. Congrats, Mr Nediger. But the clue for REEVES was dastardly.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:11 AM  

I understood the mechanism of the "theme", but despite Rex's elucidation, I still find the concept rather murky. Funny answers, though, and maybe the article "a" was "leading" us to assume the standard phrase rather than the actual answer? Ack, quicksand of reasoning!

Thought I had finished with just one write-over, ECOL before ECON at 120 D, but on reading comments I see I actually had ODESSA instead of EDESSA, hadn't reviewed carefully, and pen on paper, no one to alert me to the mistake.

retired_chemist 7:38 AM  

I guess this one is for geezers, and probably a limited range of us. Didn't throw me but I admit it is kinda obscure.

Stephen L. Reeves (January 21, 1926 – May 1, 2000[1]) was an American bodybuilder and actor. At the peak of his career, he was the highest-paid actor in Europe. ...In 1957, Reeves went to Italy and played the lead character in Pietro Francisci's Hercules, a very low-budget epic based loosely on the tales of Jason and the Argonauts, though inserting Hercules into the lead role.

glimmerglass 7:50 AM  

I never had tires evened, either. Aligned? ADEXEC (my last squares) should have been clued to show both words are abbreviated. I can forgive these flaws (and the 3D, 4D typos) because this was a really fun puzzle! Caught on to the theme early and found it really helpful, because the crosses are mostly very hard. I think without getting the theme, I'd have been a DNF today.

ArtLvr 8:03 AM  

LOVE A FAIR! This was such a clever puzzle that I wish I'd dreamt up myself... Great theme gimmick plus tricky clues all over the place!

Elsa Schiaparelli leapt to mind as the designer at 14D so I tried Perelli before PERETTI. And I wanted Take in to be Read before REAP at 74D, fixed with POWER PC. Even at the end, ALOHA STATE was a bit hard to see, because I was thinking Karel rather than KALEL.

I smiled when Rex admitted ATOM MAN wasn't a comics gimme for him: me neither, for sure, but SAVALAS was my go-to Greek...

KNOX was my first choice for Pres. Polk's middle name, because his mother, Jane Polk (née Knox), was a descendant of a brother of the Scottish religious reformer John Knox. She named her firstborn after her father James Knox. Like most early Scots-Irish settlers in the North Carolina mountains, the Knox and Polk families were Presbyterian. While Jane remained a devout Presbyterian her entire life, Samuel (whose father, Ezekial Polk, was a deist) rejected dogmatic Presbyterianism. When the parents took James to church to be baptized, the father Samuel refused to declare his belief in Christianity, and the minister refused to baptize the child... At least he didn't have to answer for that as an adult, as the political climate was more rational with regard to personal religious beliefs than today's fixations on the far right!

Happy Sunday, all.

∑;)

p.s. I hope everyone remembered my longish note a few days ago about the distinctions between LEDA and Leto? No problem here, anyway.

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

If you've never had a tire evened, you've maybe also never checked a count or straddled a rival, eh?

mmorgan 8:21 AM  

Really enjoyed this one -- all theme answers are terrific (except maybe EVENING A TIRE, which is pushing it a bit -- only because the "non-wacky" phrase was not so familiar and smooth both ways (as in RETURN A DRESS), Just a very minor quibble.

Huge portions of this were way easy gimmes to me, and most of what I didn't know was taken care of by crosses. But then I was left with little clusters of blank squares scattered about (maybe 20 percent of the puzzle) and those last ones were a s-l-o-g.

Really baffled for a long time by the 3D/4D clue typos -- I kept thinking it was intentional and we'd have to build partial words out of longer ones... or who knows what. But when VIS-A-VIS emerged on its own, I realized it was a typo.

Also had MORLEY before LESLEY, and ODESSA first. And I struggled for a while to accept DUAD -- wanted DYAD or DUAL or DUET -- but Mr. Happy Pencil popped up and saved the day!

Very enjoyable!

Jon88 8:50 AM  

My problem with EVENING A TIRE is that it's the only themer that requires a pronunciation change on the first word. Once again, "good enough" trumps "good."

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

vinegar=pep???? help

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

great!

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

vinegar=pep help

Tobias Duncan 9:26 AM  

Rex, today's writeup brought me much joy. Particle Man always makes me smile as do big scarlet letters that match the font on my lapel...

CFXK 9:38 AM  

@anonymous: as in "full of piss and vinegar"

OldCarFudd 9:39 AM  

I'd never heard of Steve Reeves, Rendezvous with Rama, or Elsa Peretti. Personal Naticks, so I ended up with Maeves, Mama and Paretti. Otherwise, a fun puzzle with a good theme.

I've never had a tire evened, either. I've heard that, decades ago, tires weren't always quite round when they came out of the mold. A tire that's a quarter inch out of round will give you a terrible ride. So mechanics had a tire shaving device. They'd spin the wheel and tire and shave the high spots off the rubber to smooth the ride.

Glitch 9:50 AM  

@jon88

Given the [world] wide range of accents represented in this blog, I find it's best not to open the "I pronounce ..." can of worms.

It tends to generate more non sequiturs than vegetables ;-)

.../Glitch

PanamaRed 10:10 AM  

Shaving tires is common in racing, but no one "evens" tires.

Jon 10:12 AM  

I had pretty much the exact same reaction as Rex, and then, like @OldCarFudd, I had double adjacent Naticks in the NE, ended up with NIEVES/PIRETTI/NAMA, figuring that as a writer of "speculative fiction" (I think that's what the cool kids are calling it these days), Arthur C. Clarke could put just about anything in the title. Should have thought of RAMA, though, I guess. What with the alliteration and all.

Anyway, felt like a slog going though, but afterward, I ended up feeling much admiration for the puzzle, and especially like the tough/terse/vague Saturday-esque cluing for many non-theme answers.

stix2metunesmiffin 10:13 AM  

Had exactly the same NW breakdown as OldCarFudd, and weakness of the theme answer in that quadrant gave a bit of grief upon completion. There's gotta be an official Natick in there somewhere.

Needed Rex to get the theme, too, but maybe that's because I fell asleep with the puzzle on my face and woke up this morning to throw in Maeven for Reeves!

Oh well, win some lose some, and I really enjoyed it otherwise.

chaos1 10:16 AM  

@ Anonymous: 9:09

I guess you've never heard the term "Full Of Piss And Vinegar "?
Must be a geezer thing ? Speaking of which, this puzzle was right in my wheel house. There were some sticky spots, but the crosses prevented any true naticks for me.

Nailed REEVES immediately and also KALEL. Had no clue on ATOMMAN. Remembered DUAD from the Maleska era.

Vis-a-vis 3 & 4 D, I picked up the typo right away. As for 16D, I've had my tires inflated, rotated, balanced, re-cambered, and at times flattened, but never evened! I really laughed at that answer. I'll cut Will & Will some slack, since EVENED is synonymous with BALANCED.

treedweller 10:21 AM  

for those who may have stopped reading yesterday's comments, well, yesterday, I have three words: Beetros Beetros Ghali.

I found this to be a pretty good sunday--I was tempted to quit partway through, but, unlike many sundays, kept at it and finished (with google). Liked COMBOVER best.

quilter1 10:44 AM  

Hand up for Morley and Odessa. I don't time myself but on Sunday my standard of difficulty is did I finish before church. Yes, I did. Can someone point me in the right direction to create a profile with photo? I can't seem to find it. Thanks.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

When a puzzle has savALAS and I GIVE UP, then EVENING A TIRE makes as much sense as when 3-Across and 4-Down mean 3-Down and 4-Down, respectively. All of which suggests that this puzzle seemed endless and I feel AD NAUSEUM (or is it NAUSEA?). I mean WTF is going on HERE?....

PlantieBea 10:45 AM  

Finished with the same errors @OldCarFudd had in the NE. Too many unknowns there for this solver. Also had ROUT and KNOR in the Knox spot. I thought the theme was clever with personal favorites of RESISTING A REST and LOVE A FAIR.

mitchs 10:58 AM  

The closest thing to "evening" a tire would be "balancing" in today's parlance. It's usually done with addding lead weights to the wheels.

But, I've also never heard of sitting upon a rival so it seems to me that both are ok.

chefbea 10:58 AM  

Got the theme right away but didn't and still don't understand why the theme is leading articles, even though Rex explained it.

Loved pinned down!!!

Had great perogis yesterday at the Polish festival!!!

Ben 11:23 AM  

Hi everyone.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 14th Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament, hosted by Will Shortz in Pleasantville, N.Y., and wrote about it here.

Good day to all.

deerfencer 11:39 AM  

Fun challenge, and an enjoyable if difficult Sunday for a change; my wife and I punted it back and forth all morning yesterday and eventually brought it down.

Favorite clue was "Sentence structure" for CELL. Some very creative effort throughout--thanks Mr. Nediger!

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Most clocks were set back one hour today. Yesterday we had TEN TO and today ended with TEN PAST, but where is the FALL BACK? Never heard of straddling an opponent. Have heard of straddling a friend, as in LOVE A FAIR(?). Never heard of EVENING A TIRE. Do those who think evening is the same as balancing also think tire is the same as grudge? Never heard of RESISTING A REST because I take all the naps I can. Watched 3 episodes of the first season of Mad Men last night. I guess that explains AD EXEC. Is there a reason NUTS is near the center? Have to go now becauwse I have a golf round scheduled....

Martin 12:17 PM  

Tire evening, tire truing or tire matching involves shaving the tread to equalize diameters and remove high spots. It has nothing to do with wheel alignment or balancing.

Ulrich 1:55 PM  

Once I got the theme, I was looking for "xxxxx A FORD", but it never materialized. Still, I found the theme phrases clever throughout (I gave "evening a tire" the benefit of the doubt) and some of them inspired, something I can't always say for a theme involving doctored phrases. So, thumbs up for this one!

Simon Estes: A gimmie for me from my time in Europe--his biography is worth knowing--he was a trailblazer when it comes to black opera singers.

edmcan 1:56 PM  

@chaos1 and CFXK and anonymous - I believe the correct phrase is full of pith and vinegar, although piss and vinegar is more common.

Otherwise, what Rex said and like Bob Kerfuffle, the 'theme' still doesn't make any sense to me either.

edmcan 1:58 PM  

Oh nuts! So much for feeling all superior! :-(


http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/pith.html

Rube 2:12 PM  

@RP, aApparently that time has come because I didn't remember MOESHA and don't remember even having ever heard of it.

Had to give up and Google in the NE for RAMA. Had inTENT for ARDENT and Rendevous with Riga.,.. sounded like a great SciFi title.

Got the SE quickly. Drive by Lake Havasu 4 times a year. The center diagonals were a breeze, what with all those 4 letter words. Also had trouble in Oregon 'cause couldn't believe that DUAD was a real word.

Being able to throw in UMA and ADOLF without hesitation make me think I have TMFT. (Or should be doing something constructive.)

I've heard VIS-A-VIS used countless times, but never really knew what it meant. My WOTD. In mathematics, the abbreviation is w.r.t., meaning "with respect to".

mac 2:16 PM  

Great puzzle! Had more or less the same problems Rex described in the NW, my very first word was SCUM.

Elsa Peretti was a gimme for me, but Reeves and Rama not so much. The stuff I didn't know (Moesha, Atom man, Kalel) I was able to get through crosses, and many of the clues were a lot of fun. I understood the theme, but it wasn't as if you could fill them all in so easily.

@ArtLvr: thanks for the Polk family history!

@Ben: now I'm sorry I didn't go...



rethrab. Almost sounds tire related.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

it must be my age (old) but this geezette found this puzzle easy for a change. so now i have an excuse for my difficulties at times solving....not up on the new age. i also had morley before lesley and some difficulty with nw corner. at any rate sure is a feeling of satisfaction when i find a medium challenging easy for me! hoohah!

George NYC 2:58 PM  

I took EVENING A TIRE to mean rotating the tires, as in periodically moving front-left to rear-right, etc., as a means of keeping tread wear even.

But I agree with above(s) that it doesn't need to make literal sense.

foodie 4:01 PM  

Thank goodness for vanity as I know, and even own a piece of jewelry by, Elsa PERETTI. Otherwise that whole NE area would have been a lot harder. And along the same line, RETURN A DRESS was my theme revealer.

I'm somewhere in the middle on this one. Not my favorite, but I agree with Rex and many others that it feels solid and crunchy.

@ Treedweller et al, in case you care... Butros Butros Ghali translates into Peter Peter Dear.

Stella in NYC 4:04 PM  

PERETTI was the first one I got, no doubt because every Sunday on page 3 of the NYT there's an ad for Tiffany & Co., and she's often the featured designer.

joho 4:05 PM  

I liked it.

@ArtLvr ... like @mac I appreciated the Polk family history. Just this morning I attended the Knox Presbyterian church in Cincinnati where we were treated to a glorious performance of Maurice Durufle's "Requiem." Was like I died and went to heaven.

@mac, PERETTI was a gimme for me, too. She moved into the penthouse of my pre-war, rent-controlled apartment building when Halston moved out. She was very nice. As was he. If he was catching a cab in the morning when I appeared, he'd put me it it and wait for the next. A true gentleman.

Back to the puzzle. Thanks, Will and Will!

PuzzleNut 4:14 PM  

A very good Sunday, in my book. I loved Rex'x description of some recent Sunday puzzles (bloated Wednesdays). It seems that with the big Sunday grid, the constructor should be able to give us something special and this one did. After reading other comments, I agree that EVENING A TIRE is the weakest answer, but I felt that others more than made up for that. LOVE A FAIR may have been my favorite.
I found this tough and got off to a slow start, picking at the puzzle here and there. My first theme reveal was RETURN A DRESS and that gave me the trick. Worked carefully to avoid most of the mis-directs, but did have faNAtIC for a long time. The NE was tough, but I guessed right today. Never heard the phrase POWER PC, but reluctantly put the P in the REAP/POWERPC cross. It seemed like it READ was a better down answer, and TOWERPC was a better across.
On to the Acrostic.

chefbea 4:56 PM  

@Foodie I too have a piece of jewelry..a Peretti heart

quilter1 5:10 PM  

Estes was a gimme for me, too, as I live in Des Moines (Iowa, not N.M. or Wash.) and Estes is an Iowan, graduate of Simpson College. He lives in Switzerland but spends lots of time in Iowa doing great things with/for young musicians.

Ben 6:09 PM  

You can combine two well-known people, ELSA PERETTI and CHE, to get a third, CHELSEA PERETTI.

Sundance 6:35 PM  

I'm impressed with those of you who could do this. I got nowhere! Was very hard for a Sunday, I thought.

The mistake around referencing a 3-Down and 4-Down really threw me, too.

Going to keep trying, getting smarter, and hope to rise to the challenge for next time.

mac 6:59 PM  

@Sundance: good for you!

Anonymous 7:17 PM  

Back from my golf and the comments haven’t changed much. Surprised nobody has commented on Telly Savalas. “Who loves ya, baby” he would say with his lollipop on Kojak! But my favorite was his role as a tank driver in Battle of the Bulge. As for the theme, it just struck me as flat with no pizzazz, a ho-hummer. Not that it was bad, but fairly easy to get and after you get it, so what? Parts were difficult but overall not particularly challenging (which matters not for a Sunday). So, I am reminded of my favorite Peggy Lee song: Is That All There Is. Now for my Maker’s Mark and my recording of the Bears game....

My name is Talky Tina and you better be nice to me 8:21 PM  

Telly was in one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes.

Van55 8:32 PM  

Decent enough puzzle, I guess. I got it fine. Found the theme gimmick right away.

I counted 38 proper nouns -- an amazing 26 of them down answers. The latter seems excessive to me. The lower right trio of UMA, NAS and TNT looks ugly.

I too confidently inked in MORLEY were LESLEY eventually appeared.

I'm guessing that Puzzle Girl had no problem with "straddling one's opponent" = UPONARIVAL from her wrestling obsession.

Octavian 3:19 AM  

awesome -- a classic Sunday puzzle. hard but not ridiculous. amusing. clever. mix of high and low culture. perfect.

TimJim 10:45 AM  

Got the theme fairly quickly and had fun trying to guess the others without crosses -- really like puzzles in which you can do that. Wanted FETCHING a tire .... Lot of proper names I didn't know but doable through crosses. Best Sunday in a while IMO ....

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Interesting that nobody mentioned the RARE mistakes in clues for 3D and 4D. Should read DOWN, not ACROSS. Since mistakes are so rare, I really considered that they might have some trick involving portions of 1A, starting at the 3rd and 4th letters.

I, too, really enjoyed this devilish puzzle.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

@anon 11:51
does your internet not show the third and fourth comments from yesterday?

Stephen 4:48 AM  

It appears no one commented on 36A (Pinned down?) being an astonishing double entendre.
Whereas all the other theme clues addressed themselves to the meaning of the warped phrase, this one works both to describe both UNDER ATTACK and UNDER A TACK. How brilliant is that?

Rex picked 106A as the winner clue of the day. I think he should reconsider that selection.

BobbyF 12:44 PM  

My only problem with this puzzle was the Annapolis Frosh entry. I applied 'middy',which screwed up the northeast. "Plebe" never occurred to me. What, after all, do I know of "Peretti?"

Dirigonzo 1:59 PM  

Syndication is only one week behind on Sunday so I feel like I'm almost catching up to the rest of the pack! Figured the theme out about two-thirds of the way through and that helped a lot to finish the puzzle. Got ADEXEC right from the crosses but never did parse it correctly until I came here - now I get it! Only quibble is cluing MORON as fool, as I don't think the terms are interchangeable. I've been called (probably correctly) a fool, foolish and fool-hardy (never fool-proof) but I'm not a MORON (well, maybe sometimes.) Anyway, I liked the puzzle a lot.

Dave in Seattle 2:56 PM  

A good work out for a Sunday for a change, at least a medium for me. Fell into the LESLEY/Morley trap and also wanted Rendezvous with RIGA which would make a good sci-fi title, but finished without too many write overs. In the Seattle Times syndiated version VIS-A-VIS was clued under the downs as "3 & 4 'In relation to' " so no confusion out here over that one.

Nighthawk 10:17 PM  

Nice puzzle and like @Dirigonzo, my local paper's print puts me a week behind on the Sundays.

Liked the themed, and really have no beef with EVENING A TIRE even if it is a bit klunky in itself in terms of daily usage, evening attire certainly isn't.

ADEXEC threw me because nothing in the clue pointed to abbreviations. Others were stumblers for me were DUAD, BADE and XOUT.

Some of the clues were really fun, like 65A.

@JOHO... My mother and step-father were regular Knox Pres attendees. Well, my mother more so. Step father was usually on the golf course around the corner. The routine was service, lunch at Teller's, and a scoop at Graeter's. The last time I attended services in Knox, they were for my step-father's funeral. He actually had died and gone to heaven.

captcha: smsynati - curiously

Nan 2:01 PM  

Usually when I see a comment about "I got that because I am / am not a geezer" I find myself thinking, "no, you probably got it b/c you read The Joys of Yiddish or your dad listened to reruns of Bob and Ray." Knowledge of trivia is largely dependent upon individual experience, not necessarily upon age.

My (non-geezer) husband knew immediately who Steve Reeves was, because of Rocky Horror Picture Show lyrics. We are the same age and I didn't know the lyrics.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

Well, I got this thing a week ago via syndication, and (true to the completely unrelated answer) yesterday I finally gave up. I have everything done but that cockamamie 3-Down and 4-Down business. Made no sense, had to be an error. If I could have nailed "Savalas" I maybe could have inferred the rest (which is how I got PERETTI).

Overall it was tough but fun. Just wish those two clues hadn't been muffed.

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