First Congolese P.M. Lumumba / SUN 4-17-11 / Scottish psychiatrist R. D. / French walled city on English Channel / Tree-lined path in une foret

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "End of the Line" — 7 punch lines, or parts of punch lines. That is all.


Word of the Day: R.D. LAING (34D: Scottish psychiatrist R. D.) —

Ronald David Laing (7 October 1927 – 23 August 1989), was a Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness – in particular, the experience of psychosis. Laing's views on the causes and treatment of serious mental dysfunction, greatly influenced by existential philosophy, ran counter to the psychiatric orthodoxy of the day by taking the expressed feelings of the individual patient or client as valid descriptions of lived experience rather than simply as symptoms of some separate or underlying disorder. Laing was associated with the anti-psychiatry movement although he rejected the label. (wikipedia)
• • •

I did not care for this one, despite finding a couple of the punchlines funny. Couldn't you just open any Giant Book Of One-Liners (or the equivalent) and just collect punchlines and then once you have critical mass, find pairs of equal lengths, and voila, puzzle? Especially if, as this puzzle does, you use *parts* of punchlines. Matt's puzzles usually feature spectacular, complicated, ingenious themes. This one ... doesn't. It's also got some ugmuff fill, all over the place. That PATRICE (14D: First Congolese P.M. Lumumba) / ALLEE (22A: Tree-lined path in une forêt) / MEOR corner is pretty bad. Also not digging IRID (50D: Crocus or freesia, botanically), and really not digging USAR. Mostly the fill is heavy on the short stuff (a preponderance of 3- and 4-letter answers), which the theme required you to hack through, since large chunks of the punchlines were simply not gettable (to me) without significant, sometimes almost total, help from the crosses. I knew the Woody Allen punchline at first sight and had a good idea of the gist of the Stephen King punchline; the Groucho one was reasonably easy to infer. The Mitch Hedberg one was funny, but everything after I STILL DO required crosses. The Bill Hicks one was the worst in every way. Couldn't pick it up at all. Didn't think it was that funny. And I'm not thrilled with the punchline from "Anonymous" (!?!?!). Also not thrilled that IN A PEDESTRIAN WALKWAY has as many spaces as IN A PEDESTRIAN'S POCKET, and is, to my ear, much funnier (for being both subtler and less morbid).



Theme answers:
  • 23A: "I used to do drugs. ___": Mitch Hedberg ("I STILL DO, BUT I USED TO TOO")
  • 36A: "The car stopped on a dime. Unfortunately, the dime was ___": Anonymous ("IN A PEDESTRIAN'S POCKET")
  • 58A: "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it ___": Woody Allen ("THROUGH NOT DYING")
  • 68A: "Whoever named it necking was ___": Groucho Marx ("A POOR JUDGE OF ANATOMY")
  • 79A: "You know what I hate? Indian givers. ___": Emo Philips ("NO, I TAKE THAT BACK")
  • 101A: "I don't mean to sound bitter, cold or cruel, but I am ___": Bill Hicks ("SO THAT'S HOW IT COMES OUT") — there really should be a comma after "am" in the clue
  • 120A: "I have the heart of a small boy. It ___": Stephen King ("IS IN A GLASS JAR ON MY DESK")
Cluing felt significantly harder than normal for a Sunday, perhaps because of the aforementioned preponderance of short stuff—short answers are typically much easier to turn up than longer ones, so perhaps to counter that effect, the clues were amped up. Difficulty achieve through vagueness as much as anything else. FEN could've been BOG (46D: Wet lowland), "SIT up!" could've been "EAT up!" (97A: Dinner table command, with "up"), FEAT could've been ... lots of things, probably. I had BELT (FEAT seems a really weak answer for 72D: Grand slam, e.g.). Didn't know ST. MALO or PATRICE, but everything else seemed at least vaguely familiar. Seemed a lot of higher-end French in the puzzle, though I'm mainly just talking about SEUL and ALLÉE. I appreciated the two or three laughs the puzzle provided, but overall it was kind of a disappointment, kind of a slog.

Bullets:
  • 10D: J.F.K.'s successor (ARI) — do not like the presumed abbrev. equivalence of J.F.K. (initials) and ARI (a shortened form of a name)
  • 56A: Biblical name meaning "hairy" (ESAU) — hairiness is pretty much ESAU's main trait. That, and getting screwed out of his inheritance.
  • 75A: Sci-fi film with a hatching egg on its poster ("ALIEN") — ads for this film and for "The Shining" pretty much ensured that I had nightmares throughout the entirety of 1979.
  • 87A: Crush, sportswise (OWN) — very contemporary. Nice.
  • 124A: Classic role-playing game (D AND D) — as in "Dungeons & Dragons"
  • 1D: Feature of many a Jet Li film (TAI CHI) — yay for a clue that recognizes TAI CHI as a martial art, and doesn't place it in a "dojo."
  • 12D: 1960s doo-wop group with an automotive name, with "the" (EDSELS) — did they *want* to fail?

  • 59D: Start of a fitness motto ("USE IT...") — not, as I imagined at first, "NO PAIN..."
  • 100D: Ann Landers or Ayn Rand: Abbr. (PSEUD.) — I had them both as PRESByterians at first.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

82 comments:

CoffeeLvr 12:36 AM  

Interestingly, Rex's WOD was a gimme for me, one of the few in this long slog. I ended up with three sets of notes on my paper solve, as follows.

Wrong? GEL (4D, how is this Get fixed?), ARI (10D), got the explanation for this one over at WordPlay, and MNO (122D 6 letters - would someone please explain this to me?

Don't Know: ST. MALO (103D) and Roger REES (31D)

Ugh: HARD G at 96D, IRID at 50D, and PSEUD at 100D. DEWIER is okay as a word, but it sure looks wrong.

Agree with Rex, the Bill Hicks line is not funny. I only knew the line from Woody Allen, so most of this was like pulling teeth.

Liked: RESERVOIR, NIMBLE, CHARADE, TAI CHI, clue for NOON.

I'll come back tomorrow, someone please put me out of my MNO misery.

The Bard 1:09 AM  

King Henry IV, part I > Act III, scene III

PRINCE HENRY: O, my sweet beef, I must still be good angel to
thee: the money is paid back again.

FALSTAFF: O, I do not like that paying back; 'tis a double labour.

PRINCE HENRY: I am good friends with my father and may do any thing.

FALSTAFF: Rob me the exchequer the first thing thou doest, and
do it with unwashed hands too.

monkistan 1:10 AM  

mno are the letters that are on the #6 on a telephone.

this one felt kinda easy bc for some reason I knew most of the quotes.

lit.doc 2:10 AM  

Even using Check All, almost couldn’t work out central East coast. Anyone know who originated the expression “joyless slog”?

chefwen 2:36 AM  

@Rex saying "hack through" and "kind of a slog" pretty much spelled it out for me.

Of course I had LBJ at 10D, which did not go anywhere, took me way to long to get ARI.

I had too many write-overs to enumerate, so I won't go there. It ate up much of my Saturday afternoon and didn't bring a lot of joy except for 79A "NO I TAKE THAT BACK" that was cute.

jae 3:01 AM  

Medium for me and a bit sloggy. Only real missteps were LBJ for ARI and IRIS for IRID. I knew the Allen and King quotes but had the same problems as Rex with the Hedberg and Hicks lines. I liked this one despite the slog because of the novel approach to the "quote" theme.

jae 3:05 AM  

@chefwen --nice to know I had company.

andrea charade michaels 3:44 AM  

once did a week at the SF Punchline as the opening act for Emo Phillips.
Total freak, but I mean that in a nice way! Happy to see him getting a shout out, but that joke is one of his least funny.
No, I take that back...
it IS his least funny!
YouTube him and you can see him shine. (Caveat: you will be talking in his weird singsong nasal voice for hours afterward)
Wildly fun, inventive theme, MG!

Bob Kerfuffle 6:12 AM  

Worked my way through, had a big gap in the section defined by 9 D to 12 D, anchored by the "gimme" of LBJ at 10 D, took a long time to work that out, then longer yet to interpret the jumble of letters in 23 A.

KULTAR 6:50 AM  

History of the Congo might have been different had Patrice Lumumba not been assasinated soon after his election. surprised you didn't know his name.

mmorgan 7:52 AM  

Liked it -- didn't love it. I thought some of the punchlines were pretty funny. But some clues bugged me. Dives into = wades?? Forbidding = dour?

NE and SW took a very long sloggy time...

Thanks for the MNO explanation, @monkistan.

bredo johnsen 7:54 AM  

" IN A PEDESTRIAN WALKWAY" is SUBTLE? FUNNY? What's "unfortunate" about stopping in a pedestrian walkway? For one thing, it clearly implies NOT having the misfortune of hitting any pedestrians.

Glimmerglass 7:55 AM  

Liked the jokes. Some clues were Thursday-clever (ARI). Mostly easy/medium for me.

twangster 8:05 AM  

I finished this, but could not figure out what "I STILL DO, BUT I USE DTO TOO" meant. I thought maybe DTO was a recreational drug popular among senior citizens.

Actually I thought I had 1 letter wrong but couldn't figure out which one it was. When I verified it was correct it finally dawned on me.

Adam 8:21 AM  

Can someone explain ARI to me? I still don't get it.

JenCT 8:32 AM  

Resisted putting in THROUGH in the answer to the Woody Allen quote, because it was in the clue - isn't that not allowed?

I really miss Mitch Hedberg - thanks for the clip, @Rex. Loved his quirky sense of humor.

Never heard IRID before; wanted CORM.

Some parts were easy, but lots of the puzzle felt like a slog.

JenCT 8:36 AM  

@Adam: Jackie married ARI Onassis after JFK.

JenCT 9:06 AM  

Oh, and USED TO is also in both the clue & the answer.

DLB 9:18 AM  

Patrice Lumumba is mentioned in the lyrics to Neil Diamond's hit Done Too Soon.

mitchs 9:28 AM  

I enjoyed this one a lot more, apparently, than most here. The quotes were funny and there was enough legitimate misdirection to forgive the few stinkers in the fill.

SW slowed me down a lot.

Smitty 10:06 AM  

@Adam - I thought ARI was questionable because letters are not initials - at least write JFK not J.F.K.
I agree w/Rex - Medium, cause I finished, Challenging, cause it was.
PS I didn't know there was an original to Fireside Theater's ..."Unfortunately the dime was in Mr. Rococco's pocket"...

Smitty 10:07 AM  

Sorry - meant to say Firesign Theater..

Go with the crowd 10:45 AM  

According to the author, all the quotes are paraprosdokians.

Unfortunately, that's unlikely to change anyone's opinion.

JC66 10:49 AM  

@JenCT

*Resisted putting in THROUGH in the answer to the Woody Allen quote, because it was in the clue - isn't that not allowed?*

Blame Woody Allen (he wrote the joke), not Matt and/or Will.

Matt Ginsberg 10:52 AM  

Interesting (although predictably disappointing, for me) -- the puzzle seems to be much better liked on the other blogs. I'm glad Rex likes my work in general, though.

Here's my philosophy on this. The theme entries are supposed to make you smile. The rest of the fill is supposed to be as solid as possible given that. It's obviously a tradeoff and you can't fill a puzzle with junk whatever (so, for example, I've never had a Roman numeral in any puzzle I've made).

These punchlines all made *me* smile, and I hadn't heard of any of them before. What's more, they're all of a very specific type -- where a word or words ("Used to", "Necking", "Heart", "Dime", etc.) means one thing in the beginning and then changes meaning in the end. That means that the jokes are all "paraprosdokians" which I wanted to fit into the fill as well but that was just too much.

As far as the rest of the fill goes, I certainly struggled with the NE but thought it was generally ok. In a puzzle with 7 long answers (including 5 19+), there are going to be a bunch of shorter words but I thought that in general it was all ok.

Rex, I've got a few more puzzles in Will's queue, which I hope will be more to your liking!

jackj 10:59 AM  

Hmmm; not feeling the love from other solvers for this Matt Ginsberg puzzle.

Seven (mostly) funny and punchy quote jokes, (instead of the usual lengthy, lame one topic effort at quote humor), and lots of devious cluing for the fill made it a fun Sunday for me.

Fascinating to see that perennial quipster Groucho Marx comes across best in show with his pungent words on anatomy and the Hedberg and Hicks quotes seemed the only stinkers in the bunch.

In the area of tricky fill, ARI was terrific, DECOR, clued to trigger XRAYS, was a nifty misdirection and ending with the wonderful ANO for "Mayo container?" followed the dictum "Always leave 'em laughing".

Low points were a looming Natick where SEUL and LAING met and a hairy remembrance of ESAU, whose main claim to fame in this puzzle, is that he badly needs a depilatory.

Thanks, Matt Ginsberg.

kevin 11:05 AM  

Look at a telephone dial.

quilter1 11:10 AM  

I knew Patrice and some of the quotes. I liked this one. A little harder than usual for a Sunday, but in an OK way. Struggled with ARI but I see how J.F.K. had to be used to get to him. Thanks for your comment, Matt.

Going to see Jane Eyre this p.m. Yeah, we all know the story but I am a sucker for a period piece. Miss Eyre is such a puzzle denizen. Maybe this one will have a surprise ending.

bologiv: a holiday on which western neckties are bestowed

archaeoprof 11:12 AM  

SW was hardest for me today. Didn't see SUPERDOME for a long time.

Tried "amas" and "amat" instead of ESSE.

And "I keep it in a jar" looked right for awhile.

@Matt Ginsberg: the theme entries did make me smile. Thanks!

PuzzleNut 11:17 AM  

Can't seem to finish a Sunday puzzle without one mistake. ?UC?A became dUChA, which sounded foreign enough. EDSELS fixed the L, but the H was overlooked. I liked all the quotes, but I'd vote the Hedberg as my favorite. Took a lot of crosses and had the best twist, IMO.
A lot of good cluing, but the large number of short answers took a lot of the fun out of this one.
Thanks for your comments, Matt. Always enjoy hearing from the constructor. My hat's off to all of you.

JaxInL.A. 11:28 AM  

Wow. I am really surprised at the apparently near-universal dislike of this fun outing, at least in the early responses. I am reminded of one of our resident science minds here (please forgive me for not remembering who) doing an analysis of what we write here that showed how strongly Rex's opinion appeared to influence what people choose to post.  I wonder if some of that is operative here? I know that when I come to the blog feeling neutral about a particular offering, I will tend to focus on aspects of the puzzle that he writes about.  

Well, in this case I don't feel neutral.  I hope Matt comes back, as I really enjoyed this puzzle. Each punch line made me snicker and two made me laugh aloud.  Pretty good for a puzzle.  Though I have not heard the word paraprosdokian, I noticed the word play in each answer and thought it pretty good that he had found such thematically consonant punchlines.  (And I love at there's a word for it.) I had heard the Groucho and Woody Allen, guessed the Anonymous and the Stephen King with a few crosses, and enjoyed the surprise of the rest.

I have the usual number and level of quibbles, but overall I thought that getting seven good jokes into a single 21x21 was pretty impressive.  I object to Dives (in) for WADES; they are completely different things, whether literal or metaphorical.  I got PATRICE (thanks for the trenchant observation, @KULTAR) and PSALM right away, and added in ALLEE which I only know from here, so that NE corner didn't put up much of a fight. i finished without any help, and had a good time doing it.  Thanks, Matt!

Norm 11:30 AM  

I thought this one was pretty funny. No complaints.

syndy 11:31 AM  

Slapped down "in a pedestrian's pocket" without any crosses and thought this was going to be a breeze.I could get the sense nut had trouble nailing the details-wanted Groucho to have a GRASP of ANATOMY and fill cluing was very hard for a sunday!Yes there are some clunkers and Yes finish up became a bit of a slog: but I find doing Sunday on line does make it sloggish for me,before I started coming to this blog Sunday was a all affair slow intermittant and pleasurable-maybe I should print out Sunday? PARAPROSOKIANS I love learning new Words!!!REx nice write-up at WORDPLAY

JenCT 11:38 AM  

@JC66: yes, Woody Allen wrote it, but Matt chose it.

@syndy: Sunday is the only day I print out - I enjoy solving such a large puzzle on paper.

Thanks for stopping by, Matt.

Four and out (sorry Rex.)

CoolPapaD 11:41 AM  

Matt - you rock, and no apologies necessary! This DID make me laugh, lots. I often listen to the comedy stations on XM, and had heard the Philips, Hedberg, and Hicks quotes within the past few months (Bill Hicks was a big influence on my favorite comedian/social critic, David Cross, who BEQ quoted in a puzzle a while back). I've never heard the term "paraprosdokian," but interestingly, the Wikipedia entry has different examples by Groucho, Hicks, and Hedberg.

I'm glad the NE was the hardest to construct, because it was the last to fall - I had IT OR for 18D until the very end.

Any puzzle that elicits laughs, and is challenging enough, but ultimately do-able, gets 5 stars in my book.

@ACME - knew you were a woman of many talents, but did NOT know you did stand-up! Thought of you recently listening to an episode of the Diane Rehm show on naming/wording.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:55 AM  

@JaxinLA - We know that writing in full caps is the online way of shouting; I am still looking for the corresponding way of indicting diffidence, which I would chose to use. But here goes anyway.

The use of WADES (in) as an answer to "Dives (in)" has come up before. That did not prevent me from being puzzled by it again today. You say, " I object to Dives (in) for WADES; they are completely different things, whether literal or metaphorical." Actually, the word WADE appears to be one of those with two antithetical meanings. My dictionary says, "2: to move or proceed with difficulty or labor; 3: to set to work or attack with determination or vigor -- used with in or into."

Something we just have to accept.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:56 AM  

Indicating, not indicting!!!!

David L 12:24 PM  

Somewhat tougher than a typical Sunday, but I thought it was fine. A couple of the theme answers were hard to parse, as others have said, and some of the cluing seemed a bit strained (GEL, EMIT...) but I didn't find anything hugely objectionable.

Here's my theory: A Sunday puzzle with long theme answers is almost inevitably going to have a lot of short fill. Most of us expect the big challenge on Sunday to be working out the theme, and we want the short stuff to be a not-too-demanding stroll. In this case, there isn't exactly a theme to work out, just a bunch of phrases to find, and some of the short fill is clued in a way that might be challenging in a standard size puzzle but becomes tiresome on the larger scale of the Sunday puzzle. Hence the feelings of many that the puzzle became a slog.

Matthew G. 12:32 PM  

Anonymous needs to start using Rex's material instead of his own. Pedestrian walkway -- good one.

Enjoyed this. I hear Rex on the theme, but the jokes were funny and Matt G. did a good job finding ones where the punchlines broke at a good place to fit in the grid. Nicely done.

I felt slow today. Things that shouldn't have given me much trouble, like 6 Letters and JFK follower, tripped me up a lot. So I agree with the difficulty rating.

Now, time for more Matt G. with Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest!

Signed,
The Third (and non-constructing) Matt G.

mitchs 12:43 PM  

Matt, thanks for the comment! I wikied "paraprosdokian" and it looks there like the word describes any phrae that takes an unexpected twist. One example they cite is from Homer S: "If I could just say a few words...I'd be a better public speaker."

santafefran 12:51 PM  

Just my sense, but posts pre Matt's weighing in tend to be more on the negative side, and posts after Matt's comments tend to be more positive side.

DNF for me but still enjoyed parts of the solve.

Gil.I.Pollas 1:10 PM  

I always look forward to Sunday's crossword. We usually go out for brunch to a place on the Sacramento River where we can bring our two pups. We take our sweeet time so I can do the puzzle. The only thing I enjoyed about today's is that I finally put it down and ordered another Bloody Mary.
Of all the long answers, the one I could get without too much trouble was A POOR JUDGE OF ANATOMY and that's because I'm such a sap for Groucho Marx.
For the Woody Allen quote I wanted [marry my daughter.]
16A - Liza Minnelli is an ALTO?
Senor Ginsberg: I'm glad you stopped by. I tend to enjoy your crosswords; today's just didn't want to tweak the brain cells.
Off to play miniature golf where I know I can hook at least three or four.
Cheers.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Five punchlines would have allowed for an easier and cleaner grid fill.

Shamik 2:04 PM  

I liked it despite one wrong letter at IRE/FEAT and had IRL/FLAT having given up PLAY for the grand slam. Oh well. Still, it was a solid Sunday puzzle for me. Entertaining theme and hadn't heard all the quotes. Came in at an easy-medium 19:18. Thanks, Matt!

foodie 2:12 PM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I usually don't like quote puzzles-- I find them frustrating. But this one was fun, especially as the punchlines emerged. I chuckled out loud in some cases.

To me, Matt Ginsberg's taste in selecting the quotes exemplified a unique type of American humor. He told us it's about when a word means one thing in the beginning and then changes meaning in the end. To me, the additional twist is that the misdirection comes from a familiar use of a word or phrase that has acquired a very specific meaning-- when it really doesn't have to. The completion of the sentence recaptures the broader meaning. IMO, that gives the theme a great deal of coherence. And certainly a great change of pace from many typical Sunday puzzles.

PATRICE Lumumba was my gimme. I remember hearing his name when I was young and thinking it was such a cool juxtaposition of languages. My dad explained to me that the French/Congolese mix was an indicator of colonialism in Africa. It was a time when there was new hope for democracy in Africa and the Beligan Congo was at the forefront. Some of it resonates with recent events in the Middle East.

JaxInL.A. 2:14 PM  

@BobK, thanks for the explanation. I did not know that wade could mean both things. Now that I think about it, I guess I have seen both uses, but just used the one that makes sense in context. Hmmm... Food for thought. I should start a list of those words that have two equally valid, opposite meanings. And I'm sure there's a word for that. Anyone?

As for indicating equivocation, what about preceding and ending the statement with a tilde? As in ~this clue seems off~. The wavy lines remind me of the wavy motion you make with your hand to show that something is iffy, but I'm not sure it reads in print.

My car just broke, so I feel grateful for this as a way to spend time while waiting for the tow truck. Thanks, everyone.

Wikipedia 3:11 PM  

An auto-antonym (sometimes spelled autantonym), or contranym (originally spelled contronym), is a word with a homograph (a word of the same spelling) that is also an antonym (a word with the opposite meaning). Variant names include antagonym, Janus word (after the Roman god), enantiodrome, and self-antonym. It is a word with multiple meanings, one of which is defined as the reverse of one of its other meanings.

(That really simplifies things, doesn't it?)

joho 3:12 PM  

@JaxinL.A., how about confusing?

I enjoyed this one. Started late last night and finished this morning before racing off to church thinking that this was definitely different, fresh and at times amusing. I especially liked Woody Allen, Groucho Marx and Stephen King.

Thank you, Matt! Fun Sunday!

I did guess right at SEUL/LAING not knowing French or the psychiatrist ... this crossing has got to be a Natick.

joho 3:13 PM  

Thank you, Matt, fun Sunday!

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

One has to question the suitability of using that particular drug-related quote by Mitch Hedberg seeing how he died at the age of 37 from cocaine and heroin. People think this is funny?

GLR 3:31 PM  

Agree with Rex's Med-Challenging rating. Took me nearly 50 minutes, and still finished with one wrong letter - at the crossing of SEUL and LAING. Didn't know either word/name, and guessed at "R."

None of the quotes was familiar, but I had an idea of how each should be completed (except for the one from Hedberg). Still, the only one I filled in without quite a few crosses was the one from Woody Allen.

Nothing rolling-on-the-floor funny, but I thought each of the quotes was worth a chuckle. (Pedestrian WALKWAY?? @Rex, better stick to crosswords - no future in comedy.)

While I was solving, it seemed like there was some similarity in the structure of the quotes, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Thanks, Mr. Ginsberg, for stopping by with the explanation. Love the term paraprosdokian, but I'm sure I'll never remember it!

GLR 3:36 PM  

@Anon 3:24

I don't believe anyone thinks it's funny that Mr. Hedberg died young as a result of drug use. Nor do I think anyone finds the idea of a pedestrian being run over by a car funny. It's the word play that's humorous.

CoffeeLvr 3:43 PM  

@David L, your comment summarizes my experience of the puzzle so well.

@Matt Ginsberg, thank you for coming here to comment and explain. I did list a few "likes" for you. I sometimes react to the puzzle as though it were a product I purchased (which it is), instead of a creative endeavor to be appreciated as art and artifice. Very theme dense, and hard to suss out the punchlines because of the nature of a paraprosdokian. Thanks for NOT including that word in the fill.

I don't think my attitude toward the puzzle, at least last night, was unduly influenced by Rex. After all, I had penciled my carps in the margin before I ever came here. I found the hardest parts of the puzzle for me in the SW because I didn't readily recall D AND D and did not know ST MALO; also stuck a long time around NOD, OWN, OWES for no good reason. As for humor, well, there is no accounting for what we find funny. Only one of these gave me a chuckle, or even a smile (Mitch Hedberg.) And now "anonymous @ 3:24" takes away that good feeling, with the information on the comics cause of death.

miriam b 3:57 PM  

A couple of the quotes seemed to be downers, IMO, but that's just MO.

Mayo in one's ANO? What an image. Send tilde, stat.

Stan 3:57 PM  

Thought the jokes were funny, overall, and liked seeing the more contemporary comics.

I am voting to bring back EMO Phillips as a clue -- the lackluster rock genre is getting worn-out.

Ben Mears 4:31 PM  

KING: People also ask, "Why do you write that stuff?" That's one that always comes up. The first reason is because I'm warped, of course. A lot of people are afraid to say that, but I'm not. I have a friend named Robert Bloch, who wrote the novel Psycho, on which Hitchcock's film was based, and he would always say in answer to that question, "Actually, I have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk."

ksquare 4:34 PM  

@Kevin 11:05 Where can I look at a telephone dial? Every one that I see has a keypad.
Also, not surprised that ACME can do standup. Her comments are always witty and I enjoy her PSEUDOnyms too. Very talented girl. (I'm 86 so every lady is a girl to me.)

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

I think both "Ann Landers" and "Ayn Rand" were both Jews, culturally, although Ms. Rand was also a devout atheist.

quilter1 5:18 PM  

"Jane Eyre" the film was very well done. I recommend it to those who enjoy that genre.

Ann Landers and Dear Abby are/were indeed Jewish and also twin sisters born in...Iowa!

Rube 6:53 PM  

Starting out with KungFu where TAICHI ended up got me off to a bad start and it was all a long uphill battle from there. I'll be the umpteenth to say it was a slog. (But did enjoy the theme answers.)

PATRICE Lumumba was a gimme, as I'll wager it was for many of us "oldies".

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

FiresignTheatre forever!

Elsie Roux 8:32 PM  

Hard puzzle for me for some reason. Maybe just tired and beat up from the flu.

Actually thought Friday and Saturday were easier than this puzzle, which was not normal. Breezed through both of those, while this one took more effort.

Rex's objections are stupid, however. The fill is fine, and the punchlines are mostly funny in their use of language even if there is nothing funny about drug abuse, hitting people with cars or keeping human body parts on your desk.

As for one-liners, I was sorry not to see any from the great Steven Wright. He has a terrific line in a similar spirit to the Woody Allen one: "I intend to live forever. So far so good."

mmorgan 8:40 PM  

@Anon 7:02: Yes, Firesign Theater was wonderful, and I vividly remember seeing them perform sometime in the late 60s/early 70s (it's vivid but hazy).

Just a comment WITH NO VALUE JUDGMENT: It's interesting to me how many people here don't know RD Laing. There was a time when he was quite the cultural icon, and everyone was throwing quotes at each other from 'The Politics of Experience' and 'Sanity, Madness, and the Family.' It's just interesting to note that (and wonder why) he's faded into relative obscurity.

@miriam b: un aplausio.

miriam b 10:03 PM  

@mmorgan: Firesign Theater: Great stuff. "And now for today's word in Turkish." "Waiting for the electrician, or somebody like him."

Agree re Laing.

Appreciate el aplausio, but still need la tilde.

Captcha: reateg. Most of a great egg.

Anonymous 10:43 PM  

Wordplay? Bullshit.
The person joked about his personal drug use and he died from it. It was in poor taste to use that quote.

Cruxlogger 10:53 PM  

Was it also Groucho who observed that "whoever said that the way to a man's heart was through his stomach must have flunked geography"?

Nice to see some Firesign fans !

jberg 11:11 PM  

@CoffeeLvr - Nobody every answered about 4D. When you are making jelly, or Jello, or various other things, it JELLS when it turns from liquid to solid - i.e., when the suspension is fixed. I question whether it can be spelled GEL, though, I have never seen that.

It seems to me that it's OK to use the same word or phrase in a clue and answer when both are part of a quotation, but not when one is the definition of the other.

I, too, have no idea why ANO is a container for MAYO (131A). Oh! I just got it! It's the calendar in Spanish! I was looking for some word along the lines of AMAYONA. I didn't get how mno was six letters, either, until I came here.

@Matt Ginsberg -- there's a Roman numeral in 17D, isn't there? So I assume you mean that you never use a Roman numeral as the whole answer

jberg 11:19 PM  

Forgot to remark -- twice last week we had RANDR, now today DANDD (124A). Easy for me, since my two sons devoted their early years to it. But is this a trend? BANDB next?

GLR 11:55 PM  

@Anon 10:43

Sorry your sensibilities have been offended. With everything going on in the world today, I wish I could think of nothing better to get riled up about than "poor taste" in a NYT crossword.

The word play is still humorous.

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

pedestrian's walkway doesn't fit with coin. pocket was perfect.

Robin 1:40 AM  

I can't stand those quote puzzles where all the theme answers consist of one (usually lame) long quotation. (Notable exception: An MLK quote puzzle many years ago.) But this one was super-fun, bc the quotes were all different, and you had a chance to get them from the front of the line whether you knew them or not.

Started out at 2:00 a.m. in AcrossLite, and it was so easy that I just printed out the one quadrant and the first quote that I had completed and saved the rest for breakfast.

Yes, fell for LBJ, so that was in the printed part, so that required Flair pen write-over, but other than that, pretty easy, which I was sure was going to be Rex's rating.

But I forget that he solves against the clock, whereas my difficulty rating just has to do with whether or not I can actually do the puzzle. And have fun. Which I did.

Can't wrap my brain around the concept of paraprosdokians, but I wrote it down and will think about that tomorrow.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:30 AM  

@jberg, 11:11 -- Interesting question you ask, and I have learned something in preparing the answer: Re: 4D, GEL, I was thinking that "jell" was a commercial word derived from the older "gel", maybe by the same process by which "Boiardi" became "Boy-ar-dee" or "Bongiovi" became "Bon Jovi."

But as it turns out, although both ultimately derive from the Latin gelare, to freeze, JELLY was in use in the 14th century, and the back formation JELL first recorded in 1869, but GEL (a back formation of "gelatin") is listed as first appearing in 1899!

But both are good words.

Kip 12:43 PM  

Since when is "wades" (in) synonymous with "dives" (in)?

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

Dear Rex,
It's funny that you had both Ayn and Ann as Presbyterians. They were both Jewish.
Ida

Judy 2:42 PM  

Didn't read all the comments but I think Robert Bloch of "Psycho" fame was the first to use the S. King Line. Fact check?

Dirigonzo 3:11 PM  

It's Easter Sunday in syndicationland so most stores are closed and I was glad to have a puzzle that took up a big chunk of the afternoon. Ultimately failed in the NE because I did not know the first Congolese P.M.'s name, which I feel bad about given his importance in the history of that part of the world, and I just could not see how the Mitch Hedberg quote was supposed to read.
It seems like there was a mini-shout out to the Spanish speaking solvers among us (Hi, @Gil.I.Pollas) with the Mexican Valentine's greeting and Madre's hermano sitting in the middle of the grid, and the Colada fruit and Mayo container (both needing a tilde) down at the bottom.

insin - how unmarried couples used to live before cohabitating became commonplace.

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

If you like the word 'paraprosdokian' you'll love the word 'perithamnotypic' ... or is it 'perithamnotipic' ... I'll get to the point eventually.

Gil.I.Pollas 8:54 AM  

@Dirigonzo: To paraphrase Miriam b: MAYO in one's ANO?

Dirigonzo 4:46 PM  

@GIP - Many years ago I found one of those humorous greeting cards that were all the rage for a while (probably about the time I was living insin). On the front it said something like, "Love is grand..." and inside it added, "...and with a little mayonnaise it can be absolutely FANTASTIC!" No idea what that meant but I bought it, although I forget who it was intended for.

Anonymous 11:37 PM  

Expect that Gel is being used in the sense of a hair gel as a fixative.

M07S 2:55 PM  

My first time here. I'll definitely bookmark this site as The NYT Sunday puzzle is the highlight of my week. I would like to ask what Natick means.

Dirigonzo 3:05 PM  

@M07S - click on the FAQS button at the top of the page and scroll down to "helpful definitions" and you will find the answer, plus learn much more that will help you really enjoy this blog - it's a really special place!

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