Indian Ocean vessel / WED 1-5-11 / TV show that debuted on 1/5/61 / High-tech surveillance acronym / Fergie's duchy / Dance like Hines brothers

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Constructor: Mr. Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: 50th anniversary of "Mr. Ed"'s debut — three theme answers related to the show

Word of the Day: AWACS (33A: High-tech surveillance acronym) —

An airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system is an airborne radar system designed to detect aircraft. Used at a high altitude, the radars allow the operators to distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft hundreds of miles away. AEW&C aircraft are used for defensive and offensive air operations. The system is used offensively to direct fighters to their target locations, and defensively to counter attacks. It can also be used to carry out surveillance, and C2BM (command and control, battle management) functions. // AEW&C is also known by the older terms "airborne early warning" (AEW) and "airborne warning and control system" (AWACS, pronounced /ˈeɪwæks/ AY-waks). [Mmm, bygone acronyms ... who doesn't love those!?] (wikipedia)

• • •

In case you didn't know that "Mr. Ed" debuted 50 years ago today, here is a 15x15 grid to tell you so. The fact that today is the anniversary is a lot more interesting (in a passingly trivial kind of way) than this puzzle, which seems to revolve around a joke that might have been funny 50 years ago — a horse saying "TIME TO HIT THE HAY / OH, I FORGOT, I ATE IT. . . IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE THE FIRST HAY WAS IDIOMATIC AND THE SECOND HAY WAS LITERAL AND OH THE WORDPLAY SHENANIGANS WE'LL GET UP TO ON THIS SET!" Mr. Ed was, in fact (or fiction, I guess), a (or THE) TALKING HORSE, and the first line he said was "HELLO, I AM A HORSE AND YOU ARE HEARING ME TALK." Somewhere in all this is the fact that the constructor's name is Ed. Too. Presumably he is not a horse, and thus no relation. The way to tell the difference between a horse and a human? When we screw up, we say "D'oh!" and when a horse screws up, he says "DHOW!" (50D: Indian Ocean vessel).

[Why does the man write his plays in the barn?]

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Opening line from a TV show that debuted on 1/5/61 ("HELLO, I'M MR. ED)
  • 25A: With 43-Across, line spoken by the show's star ("TIME TO HIT THE HAY / OH, I FORGOT, I ATE IT")
  • 57A: Familiar title for the star of the show ("THE TALKING HORSE")
Perhaps this puzzle brings back fond memories of a show you enjoyed as a child, or in reruns, or that you still enjoy on DVD, god help you. But the premise wasn't that interesting to me. Perhaps some cleverer concept would have made this non-"Mr. Ed" fan a fan of this puzzle. But this puzzle expects me to love "Mr. Ed" so much that I'll be tickled with a mere "remember this joke" line. Didn't work. Not a lot to complain about in the overall fill department (just ATWO, IST, OSH, and that AWACS thing), so if this puzzle amused you, I'm happy for you. I can imagine a "Simpsons" puzzle would have a pretty low bar with me, while others would shrug and think "why should I care?," so diff'rent strokes.

How is a puzzle like this allowed to come into being without WILBUR, and without a single line from the theme song!?

I started off very strong, with MEDICI as a gimme (1A: Renowned family of Italian history), and flew through the grid until I hit the west, where "I WISH" wouldn't come easily (26D: "Wouldn't that be nice"), I wasn't *certain* of the number of the MACH (it's I, 27D: Chuck Yeager's breakthrough), and AWACS was a complete mystery. Lots of flailing there. Wanted the overlong FORBIDDEN at 41D: Prohibited and thought the puzzle was taunting me as I uncovered F, then FO, then FOR, then FORB (come on!) (it's FORBADE). Did not know EILEEN (62A: Former space shuttle commander Collins), but her crosses were easy, and did not know DHOW, though I've certainly seen it before. Finished with DHIW, and had enough sense to know that couldn't be it. DHOW doesn't look much better, but its last two letters at least make a recognizable combo in the English language, so I went DHOW.

  • 41A: Phileas ___, fictional circumnavigator (FOGG) — like the clue, though once you see "Phileas," you either know it or you don't. It could have read [... Sno-Cone enthusiast] or [... leather fetishist] and I'd have had FOGG in there before the implications of the description had time to set in. I might not even have seen the second part of the clue, frankly.
  • 47A: It was "lost" in 1981's top-grossing movie (ARK) — then it was found and then it melted the Nazis' faces. I went to a stunt show based on this movie at the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park just this past Sunday. Sadly, the Nazi face-melting was not a stunt they recreated.
  • 52A: Of the lower small intestine (ILEAC) — I'll add this to the "non-ideal fill" category. It's just ugly. Also, I was not aware that the small intestine was up for grabs, so to speak, fill-wise. How is that better than RECTUM? It's all connected, right? I guess ILEAC just isn't a word that's going to make you spit your coffee all over your paper. Probably.
  • 10D: "Rocky and Bullwinkle" villainess (NATASHA) — I like this one because of the word "villainess" and because it's roughly from the same time period of the show being honored.
  • 13D: Jazz duo in London? (ZEDS) — Word "Jazz" has two Zs, or ZEDS; old trick.
  • 52A: 37D: Fergie's duchy (YORK) — she married Prince Andrew 25 years ago ... thus 25 years after the debut of "Mr. Ed." Coincidence? Probably.
  • 29D: Dance like the Hines Brothers (TAP) — Gregory Hines had a brother? Whoa. Check it out:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 12:04 AM  

Not sure about this one. On the one hand it is depressing to think that Mr. Ed premiered 50 years ago today. On the other hand the theme was solid and the puzzle not too difficult. I suppose this was fun for Mr. Ed fans. I never was and never watched it and never thought the premise of the show was funny. Time to go to bed and have the nurse tuck me in....

Go Bears

Peter 12:33 AM  

Mr Ed, rather the theme song from Mr Ed, reminds me of my neighbor to the south in my childhood home. If ever I were to believe in a haunted house, that one would be it, as over 50% of the inhabitants there went crazy. With the first family the mother was seriously paranoid, probably schitzophrenic, i.e. would come over to ask us to check out her heating registers to see if we heard the voices too. For many years neither she nor her two children ever left the house, until they took them away. The second family, a young couple moved in, but the wife moved out when her husband went crazy. He simply bricked up all the windows except the one in the living room, never mentioning the voices in the heating ducts. I kind of regretted that he bricked up the upper bedroom windows, because those were the ones where the first kids used to serenade us, for hours on end, with
A horse is a horse, of course, of course, but no one could talk to a horse of course, unless of course the horse is the one and only famous Mr Jones.

This puzzle failed to significantly alter my reaction to Mr. Ed.

Anoa Bob 1:21 AM  

This looks like a niche puzzle. I thought niche puzzles were TABOO for the biggies like NYT and LAT. I remember Mr. Ed and I WISH I could say I liked it but I didn't and I dare any of y'all to set up an episode on YouTube and WATCH IT.

On another level, this could be ground-breaking. Is the the first NYT Mon.-Sat. puzzle with a title!? I've seen Ed Sessa as the constructor before, so adding "Mr." could be construed as a combo of the constructor and, yes, the title.

Or maybe there have been Mon-Sat titles in the past and I'm all astir over nothing.

chefwen 1:56 AM  

I always thought it was I AM Mr. Ed, not I'm, but that is pretty much insignificant, kinda like the show. Watched it as a kid because I would watch anything after not having a T.V. for the first 10 years of my life. Dear Old Dad didn't believe in them. Now he watches Fox News 24/7, good Lord, spare me! I think I would prefer Mr. Ed.

Puzzle was super easy, again, being of a certain age. Only write overs were at 3D DOLT over dope and 8D CLIP over clap.

Thanks Mr. ED Sessa and as always, Rex.

andrea lips michaels 3:23 AM  

Wow...loved @Rex's write up and the freaky one that @Peter wrote @12:33am (I think I need to reread that!) And the videos!!!

And then @Anoa Bob's noticing the Mr. Ed in the constructor's byline that went right past me, even tho I smiled when I filled in the first theme answer and made the ED/ED connection.
(All for constructor's sneaking in a self-reference!!!)

I too spent the whole puzzle waiting for Wilbur to show up. Can't figure out how the show can be 50 years old when I'm 51 and I remember watching it every day? (week?) as a child. Did it run that long? Did we already have reruns then?
It's so weird now that kids can watch any show from any period at any time, so how do they even associate something from their childhood? I mean, my niece who is 18, will she feel she grew up watching "The Old Dick Van Dyke Show", eg, too?

Like, my sisters and I would fight over whether we watched "The Munsters" or "The Addams Family" bec they were on the same night at the same time and I guess we must have had only one TV. Certainly no DVD/VCR/TIVO/whatever-the-latest-thingy is.
But we must have all agreed on "Mr. Ed"...but then again I feel like I watched it during the day.
I'm so confused. Senile?

One quibble: "WATCHIT" seems more like "Beware", or a threat like "WATCHIT, buddy!"
"Be Careful" made me want WATCH OUT! No?

Anyway, this was super easy if you are une femme or un homme d'un certain age...
Flew thru it...
except apparently I go ELK hunting instead of EGG hunting in the Spring (which was my favorite wrong answer of the day).

There is something bouncy and fun to offset the old-time-y-ness of the central joke...
eg the PEZ/AXE corner; the LAMA AMA (ding dong) across the middle; the OSH kosh b'gosh; the "Fee, fi, fo FUM", the BRIC-a-brac, even the "A one and ATWO".
I feel a rhythm here, almost like the CLIP clop of a horse!

Starting with MEDICI/MAHI made me think for half a second that all the answers were going to start with M, end in I.
That woulda been something, eh?
(Hey look! 27D is MACHI...does that count?!)

This puzzle is like if TV Guide bought out the NY Times (it could happen!). This would be the kind of puzzle they would publish.
And I mean that as a compliment, I think!

Anonymous 3:43 AM  

Can someone tell me?
I do the NYT puzzle in the International Hearld Tribune (the intenational edition of NYT), and there is no title to the puzzle. Does the puzzle have a title when published in the NYT?
From Bangna/Bangkok

Rube 3:52 AM  

Never did watch Mr. Ed, but then, I was a college freshman in 1961 and had more interesting pursuits, (e.g. girls and parties).

It was all guesses in the PEZ/AXE corner. Couldn't believe that everything looked good afterward. Still not sure about the MOSH pit... actually have no idea what this is. (Not much of a hard rock fan.)

Only writeover was sound for MACHI.

Will have to read some Bret Harte one of these days. For those of you who remember the San Rafael answer some while ago, there is a Bret Harte district in that city, (in Marin County, CA). That would be some esoteric clue/answer!

Despite the theme, I enjoyed the puzzle. (Read, minimum of pop culture.) Loved to see Natasha clued. We also had Boris Badenov recently. Now that was a TV show worth watching!

Rube 3:54 AM  

Anon @8:43. The NYT puzzle only has stated themes on Sunday.

Rube 4:14 AM  

What we have here is a lack of communication between Rich Norris and Will Shortz. Their puzzles today are an embarrasement.

John T. 4:38 AM  

I think the idea of a self-aware horse is funnier than the actual series (which I've only seen in the occasional Nick at Nite reruns), but the former is amusing enough for me that I have a soft spot for Mister Ed. I found the joke pretty funny by virtue of its corniness and the fact that it is delivered by a confused horse. One who is disappointed, and perhaps disillusioned, by the dawning reality that he has consumed his bed. Only a horse sitcom could pull off a bed-eating joke. I give this puzzle 5 delicious sugar cubes out of 4.

Octavian 5:27 AM  

Sorry kids but since this puzzle was so saccharine and lifeless, I feel you must know the dark side of Mr. Ed, whose real name was Bamboo Harvester (no kidding).

From Wikipedia:

By 1968, Bamboo Harvester was suffering from a variety of health problems. In 1970 he was euthanized with no publicity, and buried at Snodgrass Farm in Oklahoma.

However, a different version was given by Alan Young, who played Wilbur: Mr. Ed died from an inadvertent tranquilizer administered while he was "in retirement" in a stable in Burbank, California where he lived with his trainer Lester Hilton. Young says Hilton was out of town visiting relatives and a temporary care giver might have seen Ed rolling on the ground, struggling to get up. Young said Ed was a heavy horse and he wasn't always strong enough to get back on his feet without struggling. The theory is the care giver thought the horse was in distress and administered a tranquilizer and for unknown reason, the horse died within hours. The remains were cremated and scattered by Hilton in the Los Angeles area at a spot known only to him.

r.alphbunker 6:47 AM  

The puzzle definitely triggered memories. Too bad VENTRILOQUIST wasn't in it.

Ruth 6:50 AM  

At the hospital where I work they have a couple rooms in the ER where they house patients who are in on "psych arrest" or are way high on something, i.e. people who need to be 1. kept in the room and 2. observed closely. The rooms have half-height wooden doors so you can look in over the top of them. The staff calls them the "Mr. Ed rooms." "Wow, the ER is really hopping tonight! The whole place is full! Even the Mr.Ed rooms!"
And even the young 'uns understand the reference (or have had it explained to them, I guess)

Hungry Mother 7:54 AM  

I did the LA Time Xword first today, so this one was a snap.

foodie 7:58 AM  

Andrea, there must have been reruns... I landed in the USA ca 1970 and bought me a tiny black and white TV and I remember watching Mr.Ed on it. I was told that watching TV would help me speak colloquial American English, so I logged many hours of Green Acres and Pettcoat Junction, Gilligan's Island and the Dick Van Dyke show, before shows like All in the Famiy hit. I could barely handle watching Mr. Ed.

It was such a dysjunction, watching these shows while trying to adapt to life in LA in the early 70's! Like two different worlds colliding.

Eric Berlin 7:59 AM  

When I saw the Raiders stunt show at the theme park, I was one of the volunteers plucked from the audience to be one of the onstage extras. I had to sign a waiver that informed me that there would be fire and burly people running around and heavy things dropping from the sky. They then suggested I would look better in my costume without my glasses. I decided that looking good in my costume was a lesser priority than being able to tell if I was about catch on fire.

I also had a death scene during that show. Man, when I was younger I would volunteer for all that crazy stuff. Not so much anymore.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 8:02 AM  

I guess I should make a Seinfeld puzzle that future Times editor Natan Last can schedule to run on July 5, 2039.

SethG 8:14 AM  

This was too similar to last year's Francis the Talking Mule 60th anniversary tribute.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  


Thanks. So I don't lose anything doing the puzzle on the IHT.

In Bangkok I get the puzzle at 6am when the IHT paper is delivered to my home, which 6pm the day before in NYC. So I can do the puzzle in early morning before going to office and then check the blog at lunch time when Mr. Rex Parker updates it.

I get the Sunday puzzle in Saturday IHT issue (one weekend issue only), so I don't get a chance to get the Saturday puzzle.

From Bangna/Bangkok

joho 8:36 AM  

I thought this was fun in a very retro way. @Rex is right, either you're amused by this theme or not, just like I wouldn't have a bit of fun doing a Simpsons themed puzzle.

I really enjoyed watching Clint Eastwood in that crazy short-cropped sweater.

@Anoa Bob, that was a good catch seeing the "Mr." in front of Ed at the top. I know @andrea lips mentioned this already but it's worth noting again, I think.

My only writeover was BMOC before EXEC.

Thanks, Mr. Ed Sessa for taking us down memory lane.

(And, yes, @Brendan Emmett Quigley, you should definitely do that Seinfeld puzzle ... NOSOUPFORYOU must be included!)

No 'Count 8:58 AM  

Katy Perry can't show a tiny slope of boob but the Hines Hoofers get to superimpose their junk in 3D all over God's creation? Shame on Sesame Street.

mmorgan 9:03 AM  

Thanks for a nice puzzle, Mr. Ed (Sessa). So much to like here, at least for me. I really enjoyed the whole NE corner -- great stuff. (And a really terrific write-up, Rex.)

Ended up with two dumb mistakes -- WiN for WON at 60A, and OhS for OWS at 63A. That gave me DHio for DHOW 50D, but what did I know?

@chefwen -- In the intro, he speaks the line, "Hello, I'm Mr. Ed" before the song starts (the last line of which contains the "I AM..." part).

I for one did not miss Wilbur.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ed -- I loved your show as a kid. Hope you have a great celebration!

John V 9:07 AM  

All I'm saying is thanks for the unfair advantage for solvers of a certain age, who grew up with Mr. Ed. Just a fun puzzle, pretty easy for a Wednesday, nothing more, nothing less.

chefbea 9:14 AM  

Fun puzzle. I remember watching Mr. Ed every week with my kids. And yes Wilbur should have been included

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

@mmorgan, same ending here but that's one difference between Across Lite and print. In AL no Mr. Happy Pencil appeared so I went over the whole thing and made those two changes and MHP appeared. Is that cheating? Ask Mr. Ed....

mmorgan 9:21 AM  

@Anon 9:19: when I got no MHP I just took a short cut and asked it to reveal my incorrect letters. I think your way is less cheating than mine, since you fixed your own mistakes.

connie a 9:34 AM  

@ chefwen: You are obligated to provide your dad with as many Mr. Ed's as you can find. He will then see what intelligence is, even from a horse who eats his bed, (you gotta admit, that's some fine acting) and dear Father will never be able to watch the idiots on Fox again.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

@morganm, must confess I use your method on weekends, sometimes. But only when I get to the point that the choice is that or jumping off my 36 floor balcony....

JaxInL.A. 9:41 AM  

The puzzle was okay for me. I liked the astro-aviation (ok, I made that up) sub-theme, seeing Chuck Yeager and EILEEN Collins and AWACS in the grid. Lot o' body parts, too. Thought we might see glutes, but perhaps that crosses the line like rectum, as noted by @Rex.

I think Maurice Hines is still around. What a fabulously talented pair they were. Gregory just wanted the acting career more than his dancing partner from childhood did. I remember being truly shocked when Greg died so young.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

For a Wednesday this was a fairly easy puzzle. Did it in 25 minutes without help but a few mistakes. I am of a certain age but did not grow up in America and never watched the show. I knew vaguely of Mr. Ed but did not know the opening line.
To this solver the theme is rather lame and there were just too many obscure and foreign words for my taste.
Never heard of PEZ, FOGG, HARTE, DWOW, MOSH and ILEAC.
Did not like MCAN, OSH, ENTS, ETAS, OWS to name some.
We'll see what Thursday will bring.

quilter1 10:15 AM  

Easy fun puzzle tho I never watched Mr. Ed. I, too, had a dad who was picky about TV. He died before Fox News existed, but watched the History Channel about WWII obsessively. Liked the Hines Bros. clip. I remember seeing it with my kids. Phileas Fogg also reminded me of being thrilled as a child going to see the first technicolor film of Around the World in Eighty Days.

dk 10:16 AM  

This one had me at Mr. Ed Sessa.

**** (4 Stars) Great timing, construction, fill and wit.

For all you Mr. Ed haters I give you My Mother the Car.


I may have watch Mr. Ed while putting together a Revell model AWAC I loved the little disc on top.

PIX 10:20 AM  


Anonymous 10:38 AM  

The Macbeth trio are really "sisters" not witches...AWACS goes back many, many years. My husband worked on that project and we've been together for 40 years.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

I flew through this one because I first did Donna Levin's LA Times puzzle, which also had a Mr. Ed theme, but split up the "TIME TO HIT THE HAY..." line across 4 enntires and had MISTER ED and PALOMINO to round out the theme.

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

Even as a horse-loving little girl I really disliked that show. Wilber was such a jerk. Why did shows like Mr. Ed, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeanie make the male leads idiots.
@ dk, You beat me to it with My Mother the Car.
The best part of the puzzle,
for me, was the inside joke of including Mr. in the by-line.
As for the Hines brothers, well, those tight trousers have left me nearly speechless. When did Sesame Street become R (almost X) rated?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:56 AM  

I had a true LOL when I came to the blog and saw the "Mr. Ed Sessa" credit which I hadn't noticed when I did the printed puzzle.

But to kill the joke by analysis: @Anonymous 3:43 AM and 8:24 AM, From Bangna/Bangkok: When you asked if daily puzzles had "titles", based on earlier comments, there was a bit of confusion. On the one hand, only Sunday Times puzzles have titles; that is, a name for the puzzle itself, which usually has some connection to the theme. On the other hand, no Times puzzle uses an honorific (as I call it; please, someone versed in grammar, what is the correct word?) or "title" such as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms., hence the rule-breaking joke of using "Mr. Ed Sessa".

Duncan Hines 11:01 AM  

Why all the negative comments about my brothers' outfits? Are none of you patrons of the ballet?

balto 11:15 AM  

DNF for me -- just the NE corner -- PEZ/ZEDS, had no idea.

I was 2 yrs old when Mr. Ed started -- for a 3/4/5 yr old, it was freaking hilarious! Come on, a talking horse, that's insane! But like a lot of that era's shows, sitcoms were still pretty new, and frankly viewers' standards were a lot lower for comedy. I doubt that Rich Little's LBJ imitation would hold up now on a purely technical basis, but for the time it was pretty new.

JaxInL.A. 11:21 AM  

Wow, L.A.Times puzzle really is just the same theme and quote. Has that happened before?

Nice to see @SanFranMan back yesterday.

JaxInL.A. 11:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:54 AM  

i wax nostalgic for a talking squirrel and moose but hated mr ed. breezed thru this but missed the "title" gag. would love simpsons and seinfeld puzzles. i just understood the jazz in london clue. found the haunted house anecdote earlier very interesting.

retired_chemist 12:26 PM  

Nice puzzle. Had to spend time chasing down my error: ILIAC/TEIN instead of ILEAC/TEEN. Bah.

Not only did Gregory Hines have a brother, he also had a father, Maurice Sr., and I always liked the act. Known as Hines, Hines, and Dad. Dad was NOT Earl "Fatha" Hines.

Evgeny 12:38 PM  

the new system firewall in my office blocks half of the pics in the write-up, including the puzzle... those who used to watch "Better Off Ted" know how i feel right now.

AWACS was a gimme, since in Germany the word is definitely not "bygone". They just continue using it for the new system as well (it Is easier to say, isn't it?)

Never even heard of Mr. Ed, which put the puzzle on the very challenging side of very challenging.

Van55 12:40 PM  

I might have enjoyed this one more had I not solved the LAT puzzle first as usual today. The Mr Ed theme and identical quote are quite an odd coincidence, but understandable, I guess, given the anniversary date. How both arrived at the answer OSH in the grid... One suspects collusion. LOL

Did not like ILEAC at all. Last entry was the P in LIPS and DEEP. Never saw Rocky Horror Picture Show. I guess I am deprived. But somehow I oddly pride myself on never having seen such popular epics as Ben Hur, Dr. Zhivago, West Side Story etc. Just an against the grain sort of thing.

Overall the solve was too easy for my taste for a Wednesday.

Glitch 12:42 PM  

MRED, after 50 some appearances in the puzzle, deserves a little back story.

Will the even more "popular" Olav (60 or so) be next?


Frances SC 12:52 PM  

Like Rube, I, too, was in college by the time Mr. Ed came along, so it held no interest for me. I completed the puzzle last night without any difficulty, but also without much joy. Kinda blah.

But I totally enjoyed the video of the Hines Brothers, who I remember seeing when I was very young on early TV, probably on The Children's Hour, a show that came out of NYC and featured young performers. I also remember the brothers dancing with their father as Hines, Hines, and Dad. BTW, Gregory Hines is awesome in the film White Nights with Mikhail Baryshnikov. This is off-topic from the puzzle, but on-topic with Rex's delightful inclusion of the Hines Brothers' Sesame Street appearance. Thanks for that!

NATE 1:45 PM  

Similar to Anonymous at 10:43 except the puzzle by Donna Levin was in the (NJ)Star-Ledger.
I was amazed when I then did the NYT. It wasn't until I read Rex that I understood about the 50th anniversary. Hardly a significant

NATE 1:56 PM  

@DK at 10:16

Can you let the rest of us in on d(owillllbber)k or am I the only
one who doesn't know?

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

@Nate - O Wilber

TimJim 2:16 PM  

Even as a kid I thought "Mr. Ed" was pretty lame (so to speak), so the lame joke in the puzzle was entirely appropriate. Too bad Clint wasn't into his "Dirty Harry" phase then or he mighta pulled out his Magnum and plugged the pony.

william e emba 2:27 PM  

Of no relevance to anything, but the clip from Mr Ed that Rex offers has Dear Abby listed as a guest star.

NATE 2:39 PM  

@Anonymous at 2:12

That doesn't help me. Is there
some significance to that?

Anonymous 2:43 PM  


Doc John 3:39 PM  

Had a bit of a rough go of it myself today. Home sick and let's just say that ILEAC sums up my troubles pretty well.
Disappointed that "A horse is a horse, of course of couse" didn't find its way into the puzzle somehow.
As for AWACS, Rex was too hard on that word. AWACS favored prominently in the early eighties for some reason or another. I think maybe they were being sold to Saudi Arabia and people didn't like that.

sanfranman59 3:47 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 10:17, 11:45, 0.87, 25%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:30, 5:47, 0.95, 41%, Medium

I wonder if there's a bimodal distribution of solve times today with those who solved the LAT puzzle first having faster solves than those who solved the NYT puzzle first? I know that I did the LAT puzzle a hell of a lot faster than I otherwise would have.

@Andrea ... we're almost exactly the same age and I too remember watching Mr. Ed as a child. Your post got me to wondering, so I checked with my Uncle Wikipedia and it says the show ran original episodes until 1966 (seriously?!? ... they came up with enough material for a talking horse for 6 seasons? Hard to believe.) I'm guessing that I watched at least some original episodes, but probably saw most in reruns.

@NATE ... Wilbur was Mr. Ed's owner and the only person to whom the horse talked. Mr. Ed would often use the phrase "Oh Wilbur".

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

LA Times aka Tribune:
Discussion is at

Sparky 5:27 PM  

Enjoyed the write up Rex. Had ofyore instead of INAGES for a while which slowed 43A. Tripped up by tense of Hit the jackpot and did not catch it so two wrong squares in SW corner. Those old shows were so innocent. I remember the song "a horse, of course" best.

Susan 5:33 PM  

Did anyone notice that 12 down was clued without a corresponding abbreviation?

NATE 5:55 PM  

to Sanfran....at3:47


To DK at 10:16

How is anyone supposed to know that? I am old enough to have
watched the show but avoided it like the plague. And what about younger people? Is the purpose of this blog to conduct private conversations?savalizo

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

EXEC is a word of its own. An informal one, which was clued informally. See here.

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

Nate, Wilbur was mentioned in the write-up, then by several commenters. He was the lead role of the show that the puzzle was about. What private conversation are you talking about?

And the purpose of the blog is whatever Rex wants it to be. If he has a problem with the way people comment, why don't you let him deal with it?

Rex Parker 6:04 PM  

Friendly reminder (once again) of 3-comment limit. Thanks, rp.

fergus 6:08 PM  

"... but MISTER ED will never talk
unless he something to say."

mac 6:24 PM  

Good Wednesday puzzle. I know the Mr. Ed song somehow, but I cannot remember any story line at all. I just love the idea of a speaking animal.... Remember Saki's cat!

First Italian historic family name I thought of was Estes, of course. Almost put in Finn instead of Fogg. Loved the clue for "lips", made me think of Mick Jagger.

deerfencer 6:34 PM  

Enjoyed it, though had a leg up after seeing the constructor's name published as MR Ed Sessa-dead giveaway. All in all an enjoyable solve IMO.

Sandy 7:14 PM  

I can't comment at work, otherwise I would have said something much earlier in the day to all the people spoiling the LA Times puzzle for me.

But now that I'm home, I can ask you all to at least have the decency to put up a spoiler alert so I know not to read any further.

chefbea 7:42 PM  

@Sandy.. I agree!!!

nanpilla 7:53 PM  

Loved the show as a kid. As an adult, I wonder how it is that Mr. Ed never:
sneezed on

farted at

stepped on

used as a tree ( to scratch some part or another on)

wiped grassy slime on


These things always happen to me, and these are only the things that pass the breakfast test.

Thanks, Mr. Ed Sessa for the memories!

Noam D. Elkies 8:59 PM  

Since our resident Bard channeler has been silent on this score:

King Lear 3.IV.99 Sessa! let him trot by.

(My captcha is "flingst", which looks like it should appear in Shakespeare too, but I can't find "flingst" or "fling'st" there.)

A bit surprised that Rex should play the neighsayer here; I had fun with this one, and I can't have seen more than the occasional Mr.Ed episode if that much.

On to Thursday,

michael 9:28 PM  

I am a bit surprised by how many people seem to do more than one crossword puzzle every day. Naive me...

Sfingi 10:39 PM  

@Anon1154 - Squirrel and Moose superior talking animals. Also like Dominick the Mouse (Italian).

Had some trouble in NE because I started with deRm for PARE nad didn't know the PEZ folks had a convention - or that PEZ was a real candy. Don't you buy them for the containers?

@Michael - I do LA M-Sat, USA Today M-F, and NYT M-W.

@Nate - How's anyone supposed to know half this stuff? Or remember? But that's how we learn. Or relearn.

sanfranman59 10:42 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:04, 6:55, 0.88, 8%, Easy
Tue 8:36, 8:54, 0.97, 47%, Medium
Wed 10:22, 11:45, 0.88, 27%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:18, 3:41, 0.89, 8%, Easy
Tue 4:20, 4:34, 0.95, 40%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:19, 5:47, 0.92, 33%, Easy-Medium

Waxy in Montreal 11:56 AM  

Like several people who commented five weeks back, I too was in my mid-teens when Mr. Ed debuted in 1961 and you only can imagine how extremely dumb it seemed to watch a show about a talking horse. Especially given way cooler shows like 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye, The Twilight Zone, etc. But Dad controlled what was on TV so the choice was Mr. Ed or do your homework.

I'm sure FCC Chairman Newton Minnow had Mr. Ed clearly in mind when he described commercial TV as a "Vast Wasteland" later in 1961!

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