Silents actor Novarro / WED 12-1-10 / Celtic sea god / Hall-of-Famer Walter Dodger manager for 23 years / Shaded passageway / Sheik's mount

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: WOODY / ALLEN (1A: With 66-Across, subject of this puzzle, born 12/1/1935) — nine WOODY ALLEN movies clued only by their years of release

Word of the Day: Walter ALSTON (8D: Hall-of-Famer Walter who was a Dodger manager for 23 years) —

Walter Emmons Alston (December 1, 1911 – October 1, 1984), nicknamed "Smokey," was an American baseball player and manager. He was born in Venice, Ohio but grew up in Darrtown. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he lettered three years in both basketball and baseball and is a member of the University's Hall of Fame. He maintained his residence in Oxford and died there in 1984 at the age of 72.
• • •

What a weird solving experience. Strangely, the theme was completely beside the point for me. I mean, once I got it, I knew all the movies, so no problem at all. No tricks, no whistles, no bells. The problem for me was Everything Else. The cluing felt hard all over and I struggled a lot more than I usually do on a Wednesday. First of all it took me a while to pick up WOODY, since 1D: Something played out in a theater (WAR) and 3D: Geometric suffix (-OID) [frowny face] were big ????s to me, as was YEOMEN at first (5D: Palace workers), so I just had -O-D-. It dawned on me who it was only after seeing (with several crosses) that 34A: ... 0f 1971 must be ... BANANAS, thus the theme must be WOODY and the years must be movies. OK.

Thought my struggle was over, but no. ELYSIAN? Ouch. I know ELYSIUM. Forgot it had an adjectival form. ALSTON? Double ouch (turns out I didn't know him back in 2008, either, which is the last time he showed up) (8D: Hall-of-Famer Walter who was a Dodger manager for 23 years). No idea what an ION exchange is. BTWELVE took forever to see (27D: Vitamin involved in cell metabolism). Trying to get CLASSA from bottom up (12D: Top-level)? Not easy. Didn't get ANO even after I had it filled in (it's AÑO—man I hate that as a crossword word). ALIGNED is not a word I think of when I think of [Neatened]. PERGOLA (52A: Shaded passageway)!? FEBRILITY!? Great words, I'm not complaining—they were just tough to come up with. Only real complaint is SW corner (which I got rather easily)—looks like a junk heap. AAAMAP is pretty made-up. NONONO is ... just 3 NOs, and ANEAR? A-NO! So strange to struggle (somewhat) in a puzzle where I knew every theme answer, and one of the answers (29A) is one of my favorite movies of all time.

Theme answers:
  • 9A: With 64-Across, 1-/66-Across movie of 2005 (MATCH / POINT)
  • 17A: ... of 1987 (RADIO DAYS)
  • 22A: ... of 1990 (ALICE)
  • 29A: ... of 1979 (MANHATTAN)

  • 34A: ... of 1971 (BANANAS)
  • 36A: ... of 1973 (SLEEPER)
  • 43A: ... of 1977 (ANNIE HALL)
  • 50A: ... of 1983 (ZELIG)
  • 57A: ... of 1978 (INTERIORS)
  • 28A: Silents actor Novarro (RAMON) — again, NO idea.
  • 22D: Sheik's mount (ARAB) — mind would *not* let go of camel. Would. Not. Let. Go.
  • 24D: One-named 1970s-'80s supermodel (IMAN) — This, I knew, though for some reason I wrote in ELLE at first (even though ELLE McPherson clearly has Two Names).
  • 47D: Hank with voices on "The Simpsons" (AZARIA) — This, too, I knew. He's won four Emmys, three of them for voice-over work on "The Simpsons"

  • 54D: Celtic sea god (LER) — the only part of OOXTEPLERNON I ever want to see in a puzzle is "NON."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Retired_Chemist 12:12 AM  

A tour de force that had me feeling halfway through like a kid who was part of the out group looking at the in group longingly. I am not a movie buff. The large number of theme answers were all mysteries until, after a bunch of down crosses, I got _LLEN @ 66A and then figured out that and 1A. AHA! Then, instead of staring at a honkin’ bundle of cross-referenced clues I didn’t know what to do with and was kinda p***ed about, I started asking myself what WOODY ALLEN film names did I remember. And they flowed.

Not my usual kind of buzz from a crossword, but in the end it was quite a satisfying solve. Someone who totally hated movies and knew nothing about Allen’s filmography probably would hate this puzzle with a passion. Not me – I really, really liked it. A gem that coruscates despite having some lackluster short fill.

Well done, Caleb!

foodie 12:14 AM  

I stayed up just to see what you thought of this, Rex (I have a complicated day tomorrow co-chairing a meeting in MANHATTAN, so I really should be in bed).

I was very impressed by the construction and density of the theme. But of course this always comes at a price--


I HASTEN to add that I love the constructor and really admire the talent it took to make this one happen.

D_Blackwell 12:17 AM  

A very tough Wednesday for me, but I got it after hitting the FEBRILITY / LER cross. I'm not a big WOODY ALLEN guy. I remember walking out of MANHATTAN. I liked ANNIE HALL a lot, but haven't seen any of the others. I'm not usually a fan of crosswords that are chockablock with theme squares, but this is a good one. Fans ought to love it. Me, I can appreciate it without caring about it.

I got lucky seeing MANHATTAN fairly early (and for no reason) with just a couple of letters. Getting the theme was helpful; necessary, really.

Loved the AWW / AWE cross. AS I RECALL was nice; PERGOLA, NO NO NO.

Speaking of NO NO NO - AOUT. LOL

fikink 1:03 AM  

Rex, agree big time re: MANHATTAN; that and Crimes and Misdemeanors are my favorite of WOODY's films. And Sean Penn is his best in WOODY's Sweet and Low Down.

@retired_chemist, looked up " coruscates" - wow! do you run across it often in your line of work?

@foodie, how I wish it were Webcast. Much good discussion tomorrow, I wish I were joining you!

I know FEBRILe as an adjective, but never even thought of its noun form.

Once WOODY became clear, because I am a fan, things fell into place very quickly. Thanks for the memories, Caleb (although ENHALO???, hEllo! )

treedweller 1:07 AM  

Okay, I admit I plopped in DRI with only a moment's hesitation, but I still grimaced in doing it. When I got to ENHALO, I had the E and just shook my head, refusing to entertain it. I moved on to the NE corner, swept down and around to catch it from underneath, and then had to consider it after all because it seemed plausible that “enhale” would be correct. then ANO, again? and AAAMAP? Crossing AOUT and ANC? and IDI? And then there's KAN, CDI, and CST? And And BAAS, SYN, RTE? And LALA? AWW, RAMON IMAN AMAH LAMA! NONONO! NAE, I say! NAE MAS!
I wondered if I was biased because I don't really enjoy thinking about a creepy incestuous pedophile getting a boost in his day from this thing, or maybe because I am nevertheless a fan of a lot of his work and a perhaps a little jealous. But I think I finally figured out why this one got in.
Identifying all the abbreviations uniquely gave WS a chance to show off his mad thesaurus-like cluing skillz. Oh, wait. He used Abbr. twice and 3X [abbr. in clue means abbr. in puzz.]. (also “for short”, “in brief”,and “informally”, if you wondered). Huge theme density, at any cost?

retired_chemist 1:22 AM  

@ fikink - nah, I just like pretentious words.

azaria carla michaels 1:47 AM  


Saw the birthdate, filled in 1A/66A and never looked back. Fastest time for a puzzle for me...ever.

I love Caleb so much that AWE/AWW crossing just made me go AWWWWWWW

The WOODY/ALLEN in the top and bottom being perfectly balanced with MATCH/POINT is gaspingly brilliant.

And for Caleb to get in Woody's most well known (ANNIEHALL/MANHATTAN/SLEEPER/BANANAS) with the more obscure (ALICE/ZELIG) is so fabulous.

Whenever I'm despairing over the demise of the world (or much smaller things), my best friend Maria loves to reenact the scene from RADIODAYS:
when the little boy is fretting over the expanding universe and it's possible explosion, his mom smacks him upside the head and says "What is it your business?!"

And of course perfect chance for me to post the photo from when I was @15 and he 40+...but I STILL don't know how to embed!

sanfranman59 1:47 AM  

I rarely chime in this early, but I wanted to post this before I forgot as I always have in the past. I solve the puzzle using the online interface. But whenever there's a clue with a diacritic, it shows ? in place of the diacritic. Most of the time, I can kind of figure out what it's supposed to be, but it almost always slows me down. This puzzle's 48A. reads as Part of l'?t? and it came in what was for me the toughest part of the puzzle. I now know that it's "Part of l'été", but not understanding this clue definitely hampered my solve. Do others have this problem? My preferred browser is Firefox, but the diacritics don't display on my system in IE either.

Evgeny 5:50 AM  

Wow, the sheer amount of theme squares makes up for any "ugly" answers. well, supposedly ugly, stuff like that never bothers me anyways. Love the theme, love the puzzle, am amazed by the construction. Eight movies were gimmes, Zelig i've never heard of.

captcha - corotty - sounds like a word from "a clockwork orange". means "short", maybe.

easylob 6:17 AM  

Finally got a foothold in the middle east with avion and eloi. Azaria gave me Zelig and the theme. The rest flowed pretty smoothly. It's an amazing puzzle: nine movies plus a good number of long non-theme answers; didn't mind the short fill at all. My hat's off to Caleb.

Smitty 7:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smitty 7:22 AM  

Like @easylob Azaria/Zelig unlocked the puzzle for me.

Got thrown by ARAB - wanted TURK - since the origin of modern thoroughbreds are the Godolphin ARABIAN, the Darley ARABIAN and the Byerly TURK.

.....And as of tomorrow OTBs will B no more.

HBTY Woody!

7:19 AM

connieA 7:58 AM  

Woody loved New York so much! At the first hint of trouble...buildings falling down, he packs up, leaves for London, films the rest of his flicks there, never to return...while the rest of us put up with the ghost town/suburban mall that Bloomberg has turned Manahatta into: overweight poorly dressed tourists, Euro-bucks and trust fund babies.
Well, the buildings are still here. Most of them. But gee, NYC looked swell, gritty, with its Checker, and without a camera and 10 cops on every block. Except for the horse.

joho 8:02 AM  

Mighty Aphrodite! Caleb Madison has created a magnificent birthday present for WOODY ALLEN.

Impressive theme density and fresh fill.

The only thing I didn't like was AAAMAP. It's as feasible as an AirMAP and not quite as the ever handy AlpMAP. Oh, that and ENHALO.

Wonderful Wednesday!

efrex 8:40 AM  

Impressive number of theme answers, but the fill was just horrible, particularly if you don't really know the Allen filmography (which I don't). Should've remembered ALSTON from a great Danny Kaye routine on the Dodgers ("Oh, really? No, O'Malley!"). Actually got YEOMEN and ELYSIAN fairly quickly, but stumbled around almost everywhere else. Meh; they can't all be winners.

Tobias Duncan 8:56 AM  

Looks like I picked a bad week to start solving on paper. Honestly, I dont know how some of you guys do it.It is taking me about twice as long as normal to get through my daily puzzle. I was not aware of all the backspacing I was doing.
The whole scrolling down the questions with your finger is just barbaric.I am going to keep it up until I am competent with a pen but it really has been tough.
I knew all the older W.A. movies but I don't think I could name any after Zelig.Watched sleeper just a few months ago and was impressed with how well it holds up today.Still quite funny.

PlantieBea 9:01 AM  

This one had such a mix of CLASS A answers (ELYSIAN, PERGOLA, FEBRILITY) and big NO NO NOs (ENHALO was my least, least, least favorite). I've seen most of Allen's films--very helpful solving this one. Plus, ALLEN is one of the few actors/directors I can think of with such a time range in his film production. I remember loving ANNIE HALL when I saw it first in college, but I suspect I'd want to claw my eyeballs out if I watched it again! I still ended with an error with sELIG/Asaria Z spot. Happy to see BEA in the puzzle.

jesser 9:14 AM  

I agree the construction and theme density are impressive as all get out.

But I can't stand Woody Allen, so this was not enjoyable. ANNIE HALL is easily the most over-rated movie Ever. I mildly enjoyed SLEEPER. That's the extent of my praise.

I realize I'm just a New Mexican rube who can't be expected to understand the brilliance of WOODY's existential angst. I accept my rubeness, as long as it is steeped in green chile sauce.

I love Hank AZARIA, particularly in The Bird Cage.

I also loved BEA Arthur.

This puzzle? Not so much.

Clarer! (my bourbon and water, when viewed next to Tinbeni's neat Scotch) -- jesser

Quick Interruption 9:27 AM  

For those looking for closure:

In was mentioned yesterday, in passing, that the Rock Center tree lighting was moved up a day this year so as not to conflict with the start of Chaunakah (var.)


ArtLvr 9:49 AM  

I think I've seen only a couple of these films, but some of the titles RANG a bell and the puzzle was still relatively easy to solve. Good work, Caleb!

By now I expect everyone here has heard of the difference between Año and Ano in Spanish, though it must be ignored in xwords. In French, the spelling of the month of August needs le circonflèxe ^ over the U: Août. However, we can skip that too...

STOLA was amusing over ROMAS, as was B-12 spelled out. Was FEBRILITY a first appearance? Now there's a Wednesday word!


Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Hard Cluing?

AWKWARD, CLUNKY cluing, but I got it done - whoopie

FEBRILITY? I'll ask around the Doctor's Lounge at lunch about that one

Plus Woody Allen is mostly a no-talent, unless you actually believe NYC is a great city

AWW ... where's ICK when you really need it

JC66 9:55 AM  

Here's what I remember most about Walter ALSTON (per wikipedia):

*As a manager, Alston was noted...for signing 23 one-year contracts with the Dodgers at a time when multi-year contracts were becoming the norm in the sport.*

Matthew G. 9:56 AM  

I liked this one a lot, but it was definitely very hard for a Wednesday.

Slowed myself down very badly in the NW by two bad initial guesses -- ACT instead of WAR and GON instead of OID. Let go of ACT early enough, but felt very sure "GON" would be the geometric suffix. That made it hard to see WOODY. But when I had most of MANHATTAN filled in, I knew who I was looking for and the other theme entries filled in quickly (had at least heard of all of the films except MATCH POINT and ZELIG, and the crosses took care of those two).

From there, my solving experience was pretty much like Rex's. The theme was no sweat, but some of the other entries had me mumbling to myself like one of Woody's characters. Never heard of PERGOLA, FEBRILITY, or LER, so that section of the puzzle was absolutely brutal. Surprised myself by getting BTWELVE, NONONO and AAAMAP with relative ease, but "ANEAR"? Dictionary says it's an archaic form of "near," so okay, but oy.

Had the camel problem with 22D. Never heard of RAMON Novarro or IMAN, but managed to get through with a combination of crosses and educated guesses.

A great Friday workout on a Wednesday. Good stuff, Caleb!

mmorgan 10:01 AM  

Fumbled around for awhile, confused and not getting anywhere ("what happened in 1977?", etc.). Then I got ALLEN and figured out what was going on and then everything fell smoothly and VERY quickly into place... until I got stuck. Got held up in the NE until I remembered MATCH (I only got STOLA from crosses, but I knew ATOGA couldn't be right). And it took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get RADIODAYS because I had YEsMEN for 5D and ALlTOM for 8D for the longest time.

Finally, with great sadness, I had to give up because of one stinking letter -- I just didn't know what was missing from PERGO_A (that missing letter was also the first letter of the unknown Sea God, _ER). (I wrongly guessed T. Drat.)

I really liked the puzzle overall. It brought back good memories of some terrific films -- Woody Allen is a genius, sorry some folks here don't like him -- but some of the fill was, well, crunchy. (Like @Rex, I also dislike AÑO -- and I assume you know the difference between that and ANO!)

Liked NONONO. ANEAR, not so much.


fikink 10:33 AM  


@ConnieA said: "overweight poorly dressed tourists, Euro-bucks and trust fund babies."

From this derives John Lithgow's line to the cashier in Terms of Endearment, "You must be from New York."

chefbea 10:34 AM  

Tough puzzle. Thought maybe the puzzle was in my honor what with Bea Arthur and St. Louis.

Did we not have a woody Allen puzzle a while back???
Or was that in another paper?

CaseAce 10:36 AM  

Congrats Caleb! Nice puz cuz.
@ Smitty You say OTB bites the dust today...did not know that. Guess we'll have to go back to placing bets with the neighborhood bookie...provided any of them are still alive?
@ Treedweller I love your combining Scottish and Espanole with Nae Mas...Half Scot and half Latino---now that is truly one singularly rara avis!

Smitty 10:46 AM  

@CaseAce....Sorry, it's Friday, not tomorrow...

There's always online wagering if your bookies have sprouted wings...!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:02 AM  

Very well constructed puzzle, as we have come to expect from Caleb Madison.

I recognized all of the movie titles, but reviewing the list, I realize that ZELIG is the only one I have actually seen.

I thought perhaps Master Caleb was winking at us with 31 A, Asian nurse, AMAH, since to me that is the quintessential Crosswordese. I can just see her riding across the steppes on her GNU!

@mmorgan - If you give your street address, we can send a team of acolytes to convert you to worship in the church of Ooxteplernon, and, as Rex suggested, you will never fail to recognize LER again.

JaxInL.A. 11:08 AM  

FEBRILITY, smebrility. I had FErtILITY which works if you want it to. And it gives you reasonable crosses, especially if OTR looks like off-track racing and if you don't remember Rex's rant on OOXTEPLERNON despite reading his FAQ recently. Twice. Sigh.   

I'm afraid that I feel like @connieA and @treedweller about Woody Allen.  I liked ZELIG and really enjoyed The Purple Rose of Cairo, so I acknowledge that he has talent,, but his personal choices make it hard to support him or throw my hearty congratulations behind his 75th birthday. My favorite acting appearance for him is a cameo in an unjustly obscure movie written and directed by Stanley Tucci called The Imposters. I can watch that film over and over and still laugh so hard I cry.  It has an amazing cast including Oliver Platt, Tony Shaloub, Isabella Rosellini, and Allison Janney.

Wish we could see that photo of a teenage @ACME and Woody Allen!  How did that happen?

Loved the cross of AWW and AWE.  Liked the cluing very much, esp. for WAR: something played out in a theater, and BTWELVE: vitamin involved in cell metabolism.  Will one of our learned scientists please explain why BASE is high on the pH scale?   

Thanks very much for the follow up on the tree lighting, @P>G>.   
Chag Sameach (happy holiday) everyone!

A Detective Down in Texas 11:08 AM  

One of these days I'll have to go to New York. It's just that it's so far! That's probably why most people still live somewhere else, despite how great New York is and all. (I don't know why I'm piling on with the New York snark. It just seemed fun, I guess.)

I've seen only a couple of Woody Allen movies--Match Point, which my wife rented a few years ago and I think I liked, though I was still drinking back then (I got a thing for Scarlet Johansen ever since seeing Ghost World, one of my favorite movies of the past several years, though I've only seen eight or nine movies the past ten years), and Take the Money and Run, which I remember thinking wasn't as good as the Steve Miller Band song it was based on. I tried to watch Annie Hall one time, because I understand that one's life has no meaning otherwise, but didn't get past the Marshall-McLuhan-standing-in-line scene. It was probably funnier way back then, and before you had to see clips of that scene embedded all over the place. Zelig used to be on cable a lot, along with C*H*U*D, back when cable was the shitz.

Hardest part of the puzzle for me was that little area of ALICE/RAMON/AMAH. It was crosswordy AMAH that bailed me out. I never heard of Alice. Weird how I knew all the other titles.

Two Ponies 11:14 AM  

Very impressive. I can't believe that all of the theme answers are symmetrical!
Not so much fun for this solver.
I will try to remember Ler even though Mer seems so much more aquatic. Pergola rings a bell but at the time pergoma seemed just as likely.

What I remember most about Sleeper was when they found the ancient VW and it started! I had one just like it and it was just as reliant.

Sparky 11:23 AM  

Oh Skit, I hit the wrong thingy and lost my whole comment. Stayed with YesMEN and couldn't trust WAr so never had RADIODAYS. Found ALLEN, ANNIE HALL and WOODY in that order. Did not like AWE/AWW cross. Don't see why 58D ILL is excellent, slang or otherwise. Challenging for a Wednesday. Good for Caleb, thanks. We are over the hump. P.S. Dec. 2 my birthday. I am older than Woody. Cheech!

Mel Ott 11:28 AM  

Not much for me to like, since I don't like proper names, movie titles, and cross-referenced clues. Maybe some good fill? No, the fill sucks too. OSA, OID, CST, Roman numeral, ATO, ANC, AAAMAP, ANEAR, ILL, RTE, SYN, NAE, SNL, DRI, AWW crossing AWE. And with all the movie stuff, throwing some silents guy into the fill? And the return of the ELOI! Where have they been? End of rant.

Well, not quite. I like some tough words like PERGOLA & FEBRILITY in a puzzle, but not crossing a guy who does voices for a cartoon! (I'm really grumpy today.)

Like Rex I got the WOODY theme at BANANAS and even though I'm not a big movie guy I do know most but not all of the titles. Speaking of crap fill, MSRP's reappearance from a few days ago saved the NE, since I did not know MATCH POINT and couldn't remember the alternative to TOGAS.

I actually liked NONONO and its clue. Maybe I'm mellowing.

Since you asked 11:30 AM  


I'm not a chemist, but sometimes play one on blogs:

On the acid/base pH scale (1-14), 7 is neutral (nominally pure water), lower numbers are acidic, higher basic (aka alkaline).

The further from 7, the "stronger".


quilter1 11:35 AM  

Not a Woody Allen fan but admire this puzzle. I know febrile from working in hospitals for 25 years, but have never heard FEBRILITY. Built a PERGOLA out back over the deck. For a long time I resisted ENHALO--sounds like a Spanish cigar--but finally surrendered. Also agree to dislike the SW corner. @jesser, anything with green chile sauce, yum.
Captcha vomen: female vermin

mmorgan 11:36 AM  

captcha = rhurr

Too bad nobody got this one yesterday!

@Bob Kerfuffle: Hmmm, I already have plenty of acolytes around here (some of whom are coruscating), but I'll think it over...

archaeoprof 11:39 AM  

Count me in the "I don't like Woody Allen" club.

Enjoyed this puzzle all the same. Interesting and challenging for a Wednesday.

BTWELVE is impressive.

@ChefBea: thought of you right away at 6A.

Masked and Anonymous 11:44 AM  

This Caleb kid has some talent. Gotta give him a thumbs up for construction gymnastics alone. Woulda really Really been impressed, if he'd smushed "... of 1972" in there, too!

"Sleeper" was the high water mark for me, vis-a-vis WA movies. Agree with 2-Ponies: can't beat that 500-year old VW scene. "Bullets Over Broadway" comes highly recommended, too. Plus it has a "U" in the title, which this puz was a bit D-R-I on.

Hi-Yo, Aout-ato-ano-aww-anc-osa-oid, away!

deerfencer 11:51 AM  

Fun challenging solve for the most part but, yeah, ENHALO is about as fugly and aberrant as it gets.

Separately, FEBRICITY is also in the dictionary and has identical meaning to FEBRILITY. I doubt if anyone on the planet has used either in a very long time.

Used to be a big fan of Mr. Allen but post-Mia his movies seem very tired/uninspired/hollow.

As for all you arrogant Texans crapping on the Big Apple, just remember that Texas has NUTHIN' on NY when it comes to arrogance, witness this great Updike quote I came across a few weeks ago:

"The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding. "
— John Updike

Mel Ott 11:54 AM  

I forgot about ENHALO. Ugh!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:56 AM  

Meant to add, in defense of AAAMAP, in addition to being a great crossword asset, it really is a commonplace tool of the driving class. To quote from the AAA's website, "AAA has always been known for our printed maps, but now the online TripTik travel planner does a whole lot more than help you find your way. Your customized map routing includes turn-by-turn driving directions, detour and construction information, road closures, rest stops, points of interest, ferry information … and even traffic congestion."

mac 11:58 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle. The SW corner was my least favorite spot, but I do always like to see repeat vowels, AAA.

I like Woody Allen's work (and I love NY), but I'm not going to congratulate him on his birthday. The only film I'd never heard of was "Alice", too. And by the way, @Rex: Elle is a one-named plus-sized model.

@Sparky, good to see you are back!

Margaret 12:03 PM  

Took some wrestling but a fun solve. I always know Amah from one of my favorite books from childhood. For me, Amah = The Secret Garden just like Chiffarobe = To Kill a Mockinbird.

I remember a glorious trip to New York soon after Manhattan came out. The plane circled the island as we approached LaGuardia and all I could hear was the Gershwin accompaniment in my head. The ACME of the trip, though, came when my friend and I spotted Woody Allen and Dick Cavett lunching in a little east side diner! We didn't bother them but we did go back later and sit in the same booth. I don't think I would sit my butt down now quite so readily on the seat recently vacated by Mr. Allen...

Another Texas Dick 12:13 PM  

I'm pretty sure it was 99% my state of mind last night, but this one felt horribly akward to me, so much so that I looked at who the constructor was, which I never do. I then hypothesized that Will had Caleb churn out a quickie Leslie Nielsen tribute puzzle.

The only time I ever really laughed at a Woody Allen movie was when it really wasn't a Woody Allen movie, it was "The Front", which I saw in a theater in the Upper East Side. The character played by Zero Mostel was harrassed by the HUAC to the point where he comitted suicide, and at his funeral they had his three children there, who looked exactly like him. The fact that the producers managed to find three children, ages 6 - 9 who looked exactly like Zero Mostel struck me as hilarious. The uber-liberals I was sharing the theater with were not appreciative of the same, and let me know it.

balto 12:14 PM  

Really enjoyed this one. Finally saw SLEEPER to get WOODY ALLEN. Agree with some of the non-theme toughies -- for me FEBRILITY/LER cross was brutal.

Shamik 12:16 PM  

@Sparky: An early happy birthday! Mine is next Wednesday. And I am not older than Woody Allen.

Woody Allen movies may have been more appealing to me if he hadn't been an actor in so many of them.

I applaud the heavy theme input of the puzzle and some of the intricate cluing. But maybe it was just because it was this theme, I didn't care for this challenging-for-me at 9:14 Wednesday puzzle.

I am happy to be an overweight tourist when I go to NYC. The good news about the real NYC is that there is still so much of it is gritty and non-mall-like. You ought to get out more, connieA, and see that it is still there....just in different places.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

@Sparky said...

Don't see why 58D ILL is excellent, slang or otherwise.


Every generation has its own slang for "excellent," e.g. "cool," "hot." Here are a few other current synonyms and examples (numbers indicate popular vote on the definition):

1. ill 1472 up, 215 down

cool, tight, sweet

that trick was ill


3. ill 314 up, 107 down

1. means Dope, cool, tight, raw, phat, etc.....

2. To be sick

1. Yo that Beat was so ill

2. Those 2 boys there are ill with the flu


So chill! :-)

Larry (whose slang is now at least two generations old; sigh...)

Jim 12:55 PM  

Thank you to those who resisted the urge to tell all of us how much you don't like Woody Allen. I have no idea why 'civilized' society decided we must all preface any commentary on the acclaimed director with 'I dislike the man personally' or 'I don't agree with his choices' or 'I wouldn't have married my stepdaughter, but...'

Yes, yes, yes. We're all pillars of moral rectitude and he's a sleaze. Let's move on...

Felt like a strange amalgam of Saturday and, mmm, I dunno, Monday. Reaaaallly slow going for a while, until ANNIEHALL became clear, then quite a bit quicker until the end.

Surprised at myself I knew ANC so readily. Well, that's one of the benefits of reading (all of) The Economist.

ASIRECALL, NONONO (or perhaps NONONONONO) was a very well-received answer on a Sat a few months back. At the time, I'd never considered such an idiom for an answer, but Rex seemed to enjoy it. So I've girded myself for the possibility ever since and, went down rather easily today as a result.

Also like AAAMAP. Mostly, the SW and the longer answers in the SE are what made it Saturday-ish for me, where the elegance and cleanliness and cleverness of the answers makes one smile. That being said, I generally dislike columned three-letter fill (of which we had a set of fours today. The nines look great, just don't read up and down).

For those non-Francophones, AOUT not only reads sill-ily, but pronunciation is a bear too. Essentially, it's Ooo, but you've gotta clip the end like you were punched in the stomach or something: Ooo! Never quite sounds convincing coming out of a native English speaker, IMO.

John V 1:02 PM  

This New Yorker has a very limited appetite for Woody Allen, especially his later (post '70s) work. So, this was a slog for me, more work than fun. Got a couple of wrong letters in SE, Hank Azaria being totally unknown to me, ditto neo-logism (IMHO) Febrility. Missed 41A, was wanting BLT. Usual outcome for me, when loaded with pop culture, very poor time for a Wednesday -- 2 hrs! (blush)

Doc John 1:06 PM  

What Rex said: pretty tough for a Wednesday, even though I knew most of the movie titles (except ALICE).
I also agree with Rex's ñ comment- if you're gonna have one in there, let the cross also have it. But those are all just nits. I'll forgive him because of all the cool words in the puzzle. And of course there's:
NO NO NO no, I don't *sniffing sound* no more...

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

sanfranman59, i'm with you, both because i saw l'?t? as my clue for aout and because it really held me up. but we must be in the minority somehow.

dk 1:11 PM  

A few points:

John Updike is right.

Woody Allen's may have rode the urban angst theme a little longer than he should... but I like his films. And, as I live in a glass house - you get the rest.

Febrility sounds like a word from mary Poppins.

The puzzle

I share Rex's opinion. This was a weird solving experience. Made weirder by me filling in FONDA, PETER and then saying: "He wasn't in MATCH POINT!"

*** (3 Stars) I like the tribute and admire Mr. Madison's ability to pull it off.

Favorite ANNIEHALL quote: "I think I can walk to the curb from here."

PuzzleNut 1:16 PM  

@andrea - I remember when Rex posted that picture a while back. It was when I first found this site and I was totally impressed with you and that picture. I've always loved Woody's work and was more than a little jealous of you.
This is the last day of the week I do the puzzle diagramless, and this was a tough one with all the cross-referenced clues. Unusual grid pattern didn't help. Had MATCH, after a while, and thought of MATCH POINT, but was having trouble believing that Woody is 75.
After that, things fell pretty well, but I struggled with the Oregon area, not knowing ALICE and wanting guru for LAMA. COHABIT seemed to be really clunky. I see now that it is a real word, but I can't imagine anyone ever using it. Some of the other less than stellar fill was OK in my book, all easily inferred from crosses.
My WOTD was PERGOLA. Have always assumed it was the wooden structure built over a patio or walkway, but didn't know it could refer to the walk itself.

syndy 1:18 PM  

having given up on Woody Allen decades ago;once
I got the theme I lost interest.Sorry Caleb I'm sure anybody who could stomach Woody found it awesome

John V 1:24 PM  

@syndy -- ditto

NATE 1:27 PM  


What is captcha-corotty all about?

NATE 1:33 PM  


Ion exchange is how water softeners work. One resin exchanges
hydrogen ions for metal ions and
another exchanges anions such as sulfates for hydroxide ions.
Thus for a metal salt you get
HOH which is H2O.

Tobias Duncan 1:45 PM  

So what does a guy have to do around here to get to see the saucy picture of our Beloved Andrea hobnobbing with the neurotiratti?

I cant ignore the fact that GREEN CHILI was mentioned twice here today. Since I too am a New Mexican rube , I freeze and eat about 90lbs of this wonderful substance a year.If any of you here like spicy food and fancy yourselves foodies , you really must try it.

Mia 1:47 PM  

I think Woody is a genius. He's had some clunkers but I have enjoyed his films through the years. I also happen to think NYC is the best city in the world, nothing can compare to it.

I however, did not like this puzzle. ENHALO? I had ExHALt and it did me in. Far too many ugly fills.

retired_chemist 1:50 PM  

@ Nate and Rex re ion exchange:

The usual household water softener replaces the offending divalent ions (Ca++, Mg++) with sodium, not hydrogen ions. Nate is not wrong, but his post wouldn't explain why you need to keep buying salt to put in your water softener.

chefbea 1:52 PM  

@quilter1 we are about to have a pergola built over our patio. Can't wait.

SethG 1:55 PM  

A month ago when NONONONO was in the puzzle, Rex was out of town. When NONONO appeared last year, he said that it's "not much of an answer". So he has indeed been consistent.


Chip Hilton 1:59 PM  

Rex, Thanks for the 'Manhattan' clip. Goosebumps, yet again.

Being a W.A. fan, I greatly enjoyed the puzzle. ZELIG is a personal favorite, ALICE not in my memory bank. The symmetry of the theme answers really lovely. My last letter filled was the R in the FEBRILITY and LER crossing. Who knew?

Van55 2:06 PM  

OK, Caleb is truly a prodigy and the theme is so damned dense that it's hard to criticize. But I have to agree with Rex that some of the fill is just awful -- to me most decisively the ubiquitous random Roman numeral.

The down threes in the SE are not very good, IMO and AAAMAP next to NONONO is just a couple of NONOs.

TDS are not the exclusive province of the Raiders.

ATO z??? OID??? ENHALO???? LALA?????


Very much a mixed bag.

Perforce the movie titles are proper names -- there are 9 of them. Plus WOODY and ALLEN makes 11. Plus 19 more gives 30 total proper names today by my count.

Rube 2:48 PM  

Really enjoyed Woody ALlen when he was a stand-up comic in the 60s. Must have seen one of his early films because I developed an early dislike for his directing work and haven't seen any of his films since. However, did know of several of the theme titles and getting SLEEPER got the puzzle theme for me.

Had the same problem with YEsMEN as @mmorgan & others and the "O" of YEOMEN was my last letter. Also had MIStake for MISSTEP and togas for STOLA. Absolutely hate, hate, hate, falling for the Mayo/ANO trap again, ('scuse me, AÑO). Knew PERGOLA, but wanted PoRtico at first.

All in all, a challenging puzzle for me, and without ENHALO and ANEAR, would have been an enjoyable solve.

R. McGeddon 2:59 PM  

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio??

Is this wishful thinking?

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

i enjoyed working this puzzle through as was scatching my head initially. i really feel a sense of accomplishment. i had seen all films mentioned and used to be a big woody fan. met him briefly during a ban the bomb rally in the 60's. saw him many times in an east side bookstore. a friend lived in his building and found him very reclusive when he was at her political fundraisers in her apartment. i really like crimes and misdemeanors and interiors as well as annie hall which is still funny imo.also love it that someone is older than i am!

Jim 3:17 PM  


Is that right? Hmm... my memory is failing me. Well, someone liked it. Do you have a date?

R. McGeddon 3:23 PM  

Actually, I was a little disappointed by this puzzle. I was expecting one of the theme answers to be EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK.

sanfranman59 3:24 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 15:44, 11:43, 1.34, 95%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 7:41, 5:46, 1.33, 96%, Challenging

Definitely one of the tougher Wednesday puzzles in my database. As of now, it ranks 5th for the All Solvers group and 4th for the Top 100 (of 74 Wednesdays).

Are Anon @ 1:09pm and I really the only ones with the problem of diacritics being replaced by ?s in clues in the online interface (see my earlier post)? Or is it just that no one here uses the online interface?

NATE 3:31 PM  

My apology. You're right.
There are resins which will do what I said but they are not used in water softeners. I was just
explaining what ion-exchange is.
I'm also a retired chemist but
I think my memory is starting to go

fergus 3:33 PM  

Reading through the comments I was expecting more criticism of WA and his films. I would have liked to have seen Vicky Cristina Barcelona slipped in there somehow, since that's a recent film that best reveals the writer/director's talents and shortcomings. I don't think Woody is as great at philosophy as he thinks he is, yet he's really good at exploring moral questions -- better than he realizes since he's so embroiled.

Cathyat40 4:08 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle's shout-out to LA Dodger fans: ELYSIAN next to ALSTON.

Dodger Stadium is located at 1000 Elysian Park Avenue, in the LA neighborhood of Elysian Park.

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

Woody who? Is he related to Paul Allen of Microsoft and Seattle Seahawks fame?

Kendall 4:15 PM  

I was only alive for two of the movies, and have only heard of half of them. This puzzle took me more than 4x as long as most other Wednesday's to finish. Ugh. I barely finished, and had to guess on a lot of it. I liked it for the most part I just didn't know enough to finish this easily.

Anne 4:29 PM  

I used to love WA long ago when I was still exploring moral questions (thanks Fergus) but he broke my heart. Whenever I see him now it's like seeing a old lover. And I hated the puzzle.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

What’s the difference between Woody Hayes and Woody Allen? One treated his players like children and the other treated his children like players….

Anne 4:32 PM  

I used to love WA long ago when I was still exploring moral questions (thanks Fergus) but he broke my heart. Whenever I see him now it's like seeing a old lover. And I hated the puzzle.

Cathyat40 4:33 PM  


I'm guessing the WA you were in love with was Woody Allen, not Walt Alston.

Huh? 4:36 PM  


Interesting you made the very comment you were thanking people for not making.

Also, you may be making an incorrect assumption as to the number of people excersizing restraint --- didn't we recently have a discussion about the possible "meanings of silence"?


andrea zelig michaels 4:37 PM  

@ Another Texas Dick
Mini zero Mostels!!!! LOL

How about a seat next to him?!

@TobiasDuncan, PuzzleNut
Thanks to SethG, Here you go!

I was about 15, he 40+, so already I was starting to be a bit too old for him!
Also, thanks to Jim Horne, I realized the scene Maria quotes is from ANNIE HALL, not RADIO DAYS.
(I guess bec they both depict him as a young boy, I conflated...)
Here it is:
Doctor in Brooklyn: Why are you depressed, Alvy?
Alvy's Mom: Tell Dr. Flicker.
[Young Alvy sits, his head down - his mother answers for him]
Alvy's Mom: It's something he read.
Doctor in Brooklyn: Something he read, huh?
Alvy at 9: [his head still down] The universe is expanding.
Doctor in Brooklyn: The universe is expanding?
Alvy at 9: Well, the universe is everything, and if it's expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything!
Alvy's Mom: What is that your business?
[she turns back to the doctor]
Alvy's Mom: He stopped doing his homework!
Alvy at 9: What's the point?
Alvy's Mom: What has the universe got to do with it? You're here in Brooklyn! Brooklyn is not expanding!
Doctor in Brooklyn: It won't be expanding for billions of years yet, Alvy. And we've gotta try to enjoy ourselves while we're here!

W. Allen 4:43 PM  

@ACME - Nowadays we can present the same dialog with pictures and sound.

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

The ANO problem could have been solved by just reversing the clue.

It is in Mayo. An O.

Clunky but it would have worked better.

ShayK 4:49 PM  

I've been doing the puzzles in the Times archives for a while and got to enjoying Rex's commentary, so I thought I'd "go current" and add my 2 cents.

This puzzle was pretty easy for me. My only misstep was the mistake of putting "mistake" where "misstep" belonged. (19A). I didn't get the theme right away, even when I had -o-dy for 1A. I thought "Howdy Doody?" It fits... and maybe it's a joke on "born" or something. But then all the movie references nixed that idea and pretty soon it was obvious who the real theme-person was.

I seem to know all of Woody Allen's movies, even if I didn't see them (e.g. "Radio Days" and "Zelig"). He's like some sort of sticky note in my mind. Whatever he does, I remember it. I honestly don't know why. He's just so....maybe more like a toon come to life than a real person to me.

Had one error: the pagola/ler cross. Never heard of either and went with pergoda/der, as pergoda at least had a vague resemblence to something architectural (pagoda) and isn't there a crossword constructor named (Kevin) Der? So that could be a person, right?

Cathyat40 4:54 PM  


I saw Manhattan when I was 19, on a first date with a guy who was 43 - AWKWARD! Our relationship didn't turn into anything as passionate as the May/December romance on-screen.

Lookup Guy 4:57 PM  

Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Friday, July 16, 1999

NONO (62)

PlantieBea 5:02 PM  

Great pic, ACME. Thanks for sharing.

fikink 5:03 PM  

Yes, Yes, I THOT that was from Annie Hall, @ACME, @Jim Horne. (I saw a good chance to shut up and wait.) And Shelley Duvall's quoting Dylan lyrics is killer!
But one of my favorite deliveries in Annie Hall is Alvy saying, "Max, are we driving through plutonium?"

@fergus, well put.

acme 5:19 PM  

ha! Now THAT'S funny! I wonder how many other teenaged girls your date took to see it that week as well! ;)

And did you notice that Walt Alston's bday was also today? How is that for synchronicity?!

Btw ZELIG is yet another five-letter Z movie to go with ZENDA, ZORRO and ZEBRA from the other day.

Evgeny 5:51 PM  

@ Nate:

not sure i get your question... it seems to be a running gag here to try and figure out what one's captcha means; so today i jumped on that train for the first time. that's it.

quilter1 7:02 PM  

@Cathyatforty: We like Elysian Park very much when we visit our LA grandkids.
@ChefBea: I like our pergola except when the walnuts and acorns start to fall the squirrels perch on top and drop the shells on the deck. Sweep, sweep, sweep.

william e emba 7:12 PM  

I started off in the NW with the OSA bear, but went with GON for the geometric suffix. So I'm thinking of an actor -OG-- -----, and got ROGER MOORE!

As it is, I've seen most of the films up to ZELIG, none afterwards. I never suspected that there were so many WA haters out there. Those early films are at times the epitome of gut-busting comedy. Of course, some of the humor is topical--it perhaps helps a lot to be familiar with Howard Cosell before seeing the opening scene of Sleeper.

I have been vaguely aware of ILL meaning good for some time now. If there was any weakness in my memory for this, it was erased by the explosion of Phillies "ILL" T-shirts worn around Philadelphia this past baseball season, where the giant "ILL" on the shirt is taken from the center of the distinctive Ph"ill"ies logo. As a non-sports person, it took me a month before I figured it out, and then only when I saw an ILL-shirt next to a PhILLies-shirt.

chefbea 8:29 PM  

@Quilter1 No squirels, no acorns just pine straw here in NC

Stan 9:25 PM  

The symmetry and density of the theme are just amazing, especially considering that almost every title is fairly well-known. Me, I prefer Allen's "early, funnier" movies and I think "Interiors" literally gave me a migraine.

Never, ever would have gotten LER if it weren't for OOXTERPLERNON. Thanks, Rex.

NATE 9:49 PM  


What is so hard to understand about my question? I just want to know what captcha-corotti means.
Your remark was hardly informative.What do you mean by
jumping on the train?
The trouble with so many commenters is that they use their own jargon, punctuation and grammar rules. I always thought that the purpose of a comment was to impart information,not to show how cute one is.
one is.

sanfranman59 10:05 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 7:03, 6:56, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:29, 8:56, 0.95, 43%, Medium
Wed 15:48, 11:43, 1.35, 95%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:48, 3:42, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:24, 4:36, 0.96, 43%, Medium
Wed 7:31, 5:46, 1.30, 95%, Challenging

Betsy 10:22 PM  

Imagine that> It's your birthday and you wake up to do the puzzle and it's about you!!
Some of the filler was tough on the nerves.
Good work Caleb.
Happy Birthday Woody!

william e emba 10:56 PM  

Oops. I referred to Howard Cosell and the opening scene of Sleeper. I meant the opening scene of Bananas. There is in fact a brief scene with Cosell in Sleeper--not the opening scene--that's worth a chuckle. But the opening scene with Cosell in Bananas is waaaay funny.

Sfingi 12:03 AM  

Today is Hubster's 68th birthday, so I just did the puzzle!
Had to read 99 comments!

Of course, I knew WOODY ALLEN right off, first in. Next year - Bette Midler? We are in the I Love WOODY and have kind of forgiven him for the sex thing Club. I prefer his early movies, before psychotherapy. I have his books, too. He was a philo major, but didn't finish. As he said, he cheated by looking into the soul of the guy next to him.

Did not like ANEAR, ENHALO, NONONO or FEBRILITY, but they came.

Did not know the actual meaning of PERGOLA. Thought the handsome Novarro was RoMan, not RAMON, don't know why.

Learned STOLA. That's for the gals while toga is for the guys.

Like the WAR and AAAMAP clues.

IMAN is Mrs. David Bowie. Beautiful.

Caleb seems like a nice young man.

Anonymous 12:10 AM  

Great - a Japanese word crossing a supermodel I've never heard of. I guessed "O"

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

First, thanksWoody for inserting the dialogue clip. And a very happy birthday. Celebrate well.
Caleb, I am always impressed by the cleverness and layout of your puzzles. I must admit that I was perdido in solving it. But the balance and elegance were wonderful. I look forward to many more from you.
@San Francisco man 59 there is an app for the iPad from magmix that presents the NYT puzzle and reads correctly.

And to all of you who think Annie Hall was passe, I loved it! Vicky Christina Barcelona is perhaps my fav WA movie, and Sweet and Lowdown. I watch it over and over.

clansman9448 6:05 PM  

Toughest one for me since last Friday. Came in through back door with AZARIA/ZELIG, so knew who it was. I'm not a big fan, so didn't know INTERIORS & MATCH+POINT right away. Took a bit for asiRECALL, STOLA, FEBRILITY/LERS+ILL, BTWELVE, & that ugly little group of a's & o's down in SW. Even now, AOUT?(AUGUST in French or what?)I just stopped because I had all else filled.

NotalwaysrightBill 6:50 PM  

Syndicated paper solver.

Got the theme at ZELIG. The rest of the theme answers fell fine, but the fill was such an OID. Going to turn my nurse roommate onto FEBRILITY so she can lay it on some difficult patient when she likes.

The recent story about the guy who jumped nine stories trying to escape New York livin'--just to be foiled by a pile of garage--says it all to me. That and having an ELOI burger for lunch, WITH delicious green chili sauce.

Saw ANNIEHALL thrice, can't remember a single scene. Most memorable WOODY ALLEN line for me is (from whatever movie) when his wifebeater-shirt-wearin' father responds to him that he can't even work a can opener, so "How should I know why there's Nazis?"

Right. What's the point of social structures, family relationships, even incest taboos in an expanding universe? "Hannah and Her Sisters" is probably my favorite ALLEN movie. In the end, with rampant schmuckery all around her, and after doing her level best to abide by the altruistic social mores she grew up believing in, the heroine lays next to her garbage husband for a little hairstroking, the idea being that her garbage husband thereby salves and saves her emotional life. Poignant insight, but fersurefersure ALLEN's understood from the milieu: where would we be without our garbage?

More ELOI?

Peace AOUT.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP