Onetime reality show with Whitney Houston / TUE 4-19-11 / Biographer Leon / 1997 Jennifer Lopez biopic / Medieval treasure chest

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Constructor: Randall J. Hartman

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: BBB (33D: Grp. that battles consumer fraud ... or a hint to some much-repeated letters in this puzzle) — puzzle has a lot of Bs in it. It sure does.

Word of the Day: Leon EDEL (16A: Biographer Leon) —

Joseph Leon Edel (9 September 1907 – 5 September 1997) was a North American literary critic and biographer. He was the elder brother of North American philosopher Abraham Edel. // The Encyclopædia Britannica calls Edel "the foremost 20th-century authority on the life and works of Henry James." His work on James won him both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. (wikipedia)

• • •

Very easy and somewhat entertaining because of a few of the longer answers (most notably BAN THE BOMB, BEER BARREL, and especially "BEING BOBBY BROWN"). Wish the theme had been tighter: BBB isn't a hint to anything, really. It's just 3 Bs. It's no more a hint to the puzzle's theme than B AND B (AND B AND B AND B etc.). Thought briefly, as I was solving (very quickly) that there were three Bs in every long answer, and possibly that every long answer was a three-B-word phrase (a lot to ask), but no. And no. Just Bs. All over the place. To the long answers' credit, all words in those answers begin with B, so that's something, consistency-wise, I guess. There are an unfortunate number of repeated letter strings: BARB and BARBARA; BOB and BOBBY; ABA and BABA and ABABA and BABAR; etc. I was going too fast to be bothered much by any of these repetitions. ARCA (15A: Medieval treasure chest) and EDEL are irksome crosswordese, but all in all, despite having kind of a non-theme, this one bounced enough to be moderately enjoyable.

Long answers:
  • 17A: Relaxing soak (BUBBLE BATH)
  • 23A: First lady who wrote "Millie's Book" (BARBARA BUSH)
  • 38A: Onetime reality show with Whitney Houston ("BEING BOBBY BROWN")
  • 47A: Louisville Slugger, e.g. (BASEBALL BAT)
  • 10D: Brewery container (BEER BARREL)
  • 29D: Anti-nuke slogan (BAN THE BOMB)

Hardly a hesitation today. The [Dumb cluck] clues could've been just about anything (lots of applicable 4-letter words), so I had to wait for crosses there, but otherwise I didn't blink, not even at EDEL (a gimme to me now, after being a !?!?! to me a couple years back) and BRYCE (no idea why I know this Canyon, but I do). Went so fast I didn't even see the clues for BENES or ALEPH (13D: Letter before Beth). The ampersandwich is really making a comeback of late—two RANDRs, a DANDD, and now a BANDB (47D: Hardly a chain hotel, informally). A welcome trend, I would say, were it not for the sizable uptick in desperate emails that I receive every time one of these answers shows up ("I don't understand"). See also any clue referencing a letter string via a telephone keypad (e.g. [6 letters]=>MNO). Man, those baffle people for some reason. Can you still "POKE" people on Facebook? I'm on Facebook every day, but have never POKED or been POKED (to my knowledge—so, if you've been poking me ... you're doing it wrong) (67A: Contacted on Facebook, in a way).

  • 46A: 1997 Jennifer Lopez biopic ("SELENA") — Look, Jennifer Lopez is indeed "beautiful," but "Most Beautiful Woman in the World?" If she weren't on "Idol," would "People" really be saying that? Also, am I really spending 30 some-odd seconds typing these questions as if they are meaningful? (answer, sadly = yes)
  • 24D: Dubai denizens (ARABS) — ARAB here crosses the ARAB in BARBARA BUSH. I know, I shouldn't notice these things, but I do.
  • 37D: 1987 album later rereleased as "The Celts" ("ENYA") — "ENYA" as album title = nice entry into the "How the Hell Do I Clue ENYA This Time?" sweepstakes.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
[Follow Rex Parker on Tumblr]

P.S. Crossword constructor and constant commenter Andrea Carla Michaels gets fan mail. I know this because much of it is sent to me. Just a taste...

I like the part where I'm an afterthought ... :)


treedweller 12:06 AM  

when I first got on facebook, I poked a semi-random friend to see what would happen. My first poke happened to be my, um, first poke. A little embarrassing when I thought about it later. FWIW, you haven't missed anything. It's about as exciting as it sounds (on FB--I liked the other kind pretty well).
I like all the Bs because my name has three, but that's about all I have to say about this puzzle.

Gil.I.Pollas 12:10 AM  

A perfect whimsical and enjoyable Tuesday puzzle.
What's not to love about BEADY BOOB BABA or a NONO BABY BOOMER?

foodie 12:10 AM  

There is something fun about Bs! Yeah, they bounce! They look jolly! My 3 year old grand daughter loves the name Bob! For a long time, she searched for a Bob, hadn't met one. And then one day she announced: I met a Bob! He's my dentist! She's forgiven him a lot of stuff because his name is Bob!

A beautiful, bubbly, buzzle!

Anonymous 12:11 AM  


Tobias Duncan 12:17 AM  

So much faster than yesterday's puzzle.Rex is right, that sure is a lot of Bs.I don't mind weak themes though as long as the puzzle is fun and this one was.

pizzatheorem 12:25 AM  

This was a pretty playful hive of a puzzle buzzing with bees. All the alliteration was just fun and the repetitiveness of the some of the fill added to that fun, strangely enough. I count 34 instances of the letter B or about 18% of the fill. Not bad for a 3-point scrabble tile I think. Did this one in about six minutes which is fast for me. Bees.

PurpleGuy 12:39 AM  

@foodie- tell your daughter my name is Bob. Plus I am deathly allergic to bees, and all stinging/biting insects.

I loved this puzzle. Thought it way easier than yesterday. A real delight to solve.

I can picture a scene where PurpleGuy IDLES in a BUBBLEBATH in SANAA at the onle BANDB he could get because the ARABS wewre all ABOIL. BABA EDEL with his BEADY eyes had hired the BOZO BOB BRET to plant a BOMB in the SAAB. He was distracted by the enchanting airs of EINE Kleine Nachtmusik and the image of Jesser massaging his back.

OMG. I've been away too long. Miss you all, but am doing fine.
@Jesser- love you man.

Randall - we must have been on the same wavelength. This was a really fun puzzle.

Another great writeup, Rex. Thanks for all you do with this blog. It's like family.
You all have gotten me through a rough time.
And mom's birthday is this Thursday.

Shanti -
Bob/ PurpleGuy

captcha: fulbra - Jayne Mansfield's ?

pizzatheorem 12:40 AM  

35. 35 bees. AH AH AH AH AH!

CoffeeLvr 1:24 AM  

I think I will have a slice of Bread and Butter Before Bed.

@PurpleGuy, good to hear from you. An interesting story, But the tone changes quickly from BUBBLEBATH to BOMB. Nevertheless, I found it amusing.

retired_chemist 1:29 AM  

Our girl Ch. Schoolhouse A, Bee, C's (Sting) and her son Schoolhouse Son of a Bee (Buzz) approve this puzzle.

Easy Tuesday. Had DODO @ 6A before I saw the theme. No other writeovers.

Wonder what a BONG has to do with Big Ben Roethlisberger (23D). Last I heard, he was into stupid motorcycle accidents and sexual assault, but not BONGable substances.

Thanks, Mr. Hartman.

Rube 2:05 AM  

Knew none of the BROWN/EWAN/ENYA crosses but guessed them all correctly. Then I blew it at the BeNES/EDeL crossing. These are all pop culture and shouldn't be crossing, IMO. Oh well, if Rex learned EDEL then I guess I will have to also. Banes sounds a lot more plausible, again, IMO.

PurpleGuy 2:13 AM  

@CoffeeLvr - Thanks. My original story was eaten by the cursed blogger. Couldn't remember the exact details of the first one. I think my segue from bath to bomb was better in the original. ;)

lit.doc 2:17 AM  

I'm with @Rube on that BENES/EDEL crossing. Guessed correctly, but still had to guess. No biggy, just odd to see that sort of minor obscurity in a Tuesday puzzle.

bandrea barla bichaels 3:19 AM  

B's are definitely bouncy, but a bit bewildered this theme flew without more of a payoff or consistency...
like a bee hive at the end, or all phrases with # Bs
(Loved BEINGBOBBYBROWN, but didn't like a THE in BANTHEBOMB when all the other themes were just BB...)

I like that Elaine's last name bubbled up from the recesses of my mind, it was something that I wouldn't have thought that I actually knew, tho I wonder how they decided to name her that.

IDLES is sort of a bleedover from IDLY yesterday.
and the lefty kneejerk liberal in me sort of likes CREEP over BUSH,
but I have nothing against BARBARABUSH per se, tho it cost me on WHeel of FOrtune years ago!
I had BARBARA B-S- --- and actually tried to buy an E :(
1989 and I refused to even let those people into my subconscious, so I thought BARBARA BeSt?
I was a BOZO BOOB.

Like that little corner with OZONE/BOZO/AMOK.

Did not know the word BOLE.

Loved @Rex comment on Enya...and one day I will listen to her, but not yet.

Baby Barbara Brown 6:53 AM  

That "Roll out the Barrel' polka video has to be the highlight of my week.

It was worth being buried in Bs just to have an opportunity to see the great Walter Ostanek band, which is the Beatles of polka -- in Canada at least.

Did not find the puzzle as amusing as others. Lots of Bs. OK, and?

joho 7:43 AM  

To me this puzzle felt like taking a BUBBLEBATH Bursting with BBB! Frothy and fun.


Thanks, Randall! Today I dub you Banball B. Bartman.

mmorgan 8:13 AM  

The "theme" was simple, but for some reason I found it really nice -- I guess "bouncy" really fits. I had also thought that all long theme answers had 3 B's in them -- too bad BEER BARREL couldn't steal the extra one from BUBBLEBATH. Was looking for a BABBLING BROOK. I actually liked the combination of BOZO BOOB BOB BABA (etc.) and never thought I'd enjoy seeing BARBARA BUSH (even with BARB also in there).

Had to guess on the ED_L/B_NES cross (16A/12D) as I had no clue -- Natick for me. Guessed A... (oh well).

Also ran into a mega-Natick in the East but somehow got through it.

Didn't someone just predict we'd soon have BANDB or was that something else???

Very nice Tuesday for me, Mr. Hartman!

John V 8:14 AM  

@Rex 33D BBB is Better Business Bureau.

Came close to calling foul on East with all the pop culture crossings, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, Star Wars; initially had Hill for 35D, place for ace. Otherwise, blindingly fast, for sure.

quilter1 8:24 AM  

Yes, yesterday someone said, R and R, D and D, what's next, B and B? And voila!
This was lots of fun for me as I am anticipating a demanding day and it helps to start with a smile. A festival of B's.
Hate rats but liked BEADY. Also BABA. Have to make that one day.
Dark, raining, windy and cold here. I hope we are not sending more bad stuff eastward. Take care, everyone.

captcha porkey: are you talkin' to me?

dk 8:33 AM  

More than a hive of Bs. More importantly a beloved Tuesday puzzle. We should take this a sign of hope for all of us.

Misreading Video as Voodoo was my only mistake. I suppose one could film with a cat... picture might be fuzzy.

**** (4 Stars) A lot of fun. Perhaps I should fire up the 23D and listen to the BOBs.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Am I off, or isn't 23D about the Big Ben in London going "BONG"?

Just so you know 9:08 AM  

Elaine BENES - 9 appearances
BART Simpson - 9 appearances

jackj 9:10 AM  

After filling in the first three across clues I thought, "Gee, that's a lot of "Bs"." A bit later the clue at 33 down tells me, in part, "a hint to some much repeated letters", translation, "Gee, that's a lot of "Bs"." Not much of a surprise.

The usually reliable Mr. Hartman gives us what I'd call a "serviceable" puzzle but he also, interestingly, introduces us to a sleazy sounding law firm aborning, ARCA, ALEPH, EDEL & BOLE.

jesser 9:15 AM  

You just have to love a blog where, out of nowhere: a) love is publicly proclaimed for you (Thanks, PG); and b) (B!) the term 'Beatles of Polka' appears. Thank you, Rex, for this amazing forum!

Man that puzzle was a shitload of Bs!

Predspa! (Where you go when your pred is sagging) -- jesser

chefbea 9:26 AM  

Chef B here!!!! Of course I loved this puzzle dedicated to me. So many of my names and nicknames!!

I have been to Bryce canyon and it is unbelievable as are the other canyons.

Beadola 9:28 AM  

A "B" is just a pushed together 13. :-D (paraphrasing Mitch Hedberg).

Orange 9:29 AM  

I was poked while I slept last night. A Facebook friend had posted that maybe he should poke all of his friends. I said everyone would think his account had been hacked (because who pokes these days??). And then he poked me when I wasn't looking. I don't even know where the poking function is hiding.

There's a place in Chicago called Café Bong Ho that's across the street from one of my favorite restaurants.

the redanman 9:38 AM  

NLE = no longer exists

meh= this puzzle

JenCT 9:43 AM  

Quick solve, liked it better than most Tuesdays. Didn't someone just note that Tuesdays are normally the most-disliked puzzles?

Speaking of Bs, just got our new bees from Georgia - they must be shivering up here! We're feeding them, though, so they should be fine until it warms up.

Pete 9:52 AM  

I would like to congratulate Anon 12:11 for the shortest cogent post in the history of this blog, with which I agree.

OldCarFudd 9:57 AM  

Amusing, but disappointing at the very end. The top three answers started with B, as did the first two answers in the last row. So, of course, I was looking for a B-word. Poked? POKED? I know nothing about Facebook, but what the hell is poked?

Tobias Duncan 10:08 AM  

Hey BACME any chance your wheel of fortune appearance is on youtube somewhere? Would love to see it.

Two Ponies 10:24 AM  

I caught the theme early on and amused myself by anticipating where the next B would bob to the surface. Could have been switched with yesterday it was so easy.
Beatles of Polka!? Too funny.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:28 AM  

According to some recent articles in The Times, perhaps 33D would be better clued as "Group that PURPORTEDLY battles consumer fraud . . ." (Citation? Hey, I read the articles. I didn't know there would be a test.)

Agree with BACME and OldCarFudd - disappointed that there wasn't a single B in 67 A. (Not that I could Ever construct a puzzle myself.)

Bye, bye, Betty Boop, and Buy Bonds!

baja 10:29 AM  

...when the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin' along. A happy puzzle - now if we could just get spring to last more than a day or so!

JaxInL.A. 10:49 AM  

Ongoing public service of noting Rex's video posts not visible on the iPad: middle one displays fine (even if it is very odd), but the spaces for the 1st and 3rd say "The video you have requested is not available."  Thanks to @Baby Barbara Brown I know that one is Walter Ostanek's band doing "Roll out the Barrel' polka. What's the other one? 

Most recent disappointment re: L.A. Crossword Tournament: after wrangling my way out of having to be at the L.A. Times Festival of books on Sunday, my daughter's (mandatory) piano recital is rescheduled for May 1 from 1-3:00pm downtown.  Urgh!  I would so very much like to meet some of you. Unlike @acme's chance encounter yesterday with @sanfranman59 (APB for woman stalking solvers notwithstanding), in L.A. people rarely run into anyone. Too spread out, too few public gathering / passing spaces filled with people. Sigh. Maybe next year.

Seriously, you gotta get in the habit of copying your posts before clicking on Submit so when Blogger inevitably eats a post all you have to do is paste it in again. I'm finding that it ends up happening about 25% of the time. Think of all the work you will save!  

I'm sorry that you are now facing all of the "first year without Mom" occasions that this year will bring.  Grieving sucks. 

Arundel 10:52 AM  

As Anonymous 6:33 says, 9d!

Not my favorite Tuesday, and I usually like 'em. Plenty of good fill, though - OZONE, SELENA, ORBS, lots of non-standard words, even if the 3B ones were sort of blah. My favorite detail was Rex's use of Billy Bragg, who's one of my faves. Without the Seinfeld Elaine/Biographer Leon awareness, I had one of those Naticks where I just guessed wrong.

But, per my captcha, we just MODDLE through.

archaeoprof 11:23 AM  

I give this one a B plus!

Apropos of 47A: last Christmas my wife gave me a Louisville Slugger BASEBALL BAT with my name on it.

Lindsay 11:39 AM  

Intellectually stimulating themes are fine, but I don't require Deep to be amused, and the B-phrases amused me.

EDEL/BENES/ALEPH did not amuse me. RHEE/EWAN/ENYA isn't great either, now that I look the grid over. Nor is BONA/HANA/ABA/ABABA.

Oh well. Can't have everything.

syndy 12:17 PM  

My write over was 48d where I threw in ABUZZ! We're all Bozo's on this Bus!

CoffeeLvr 1:15 PM  

Thank you for sharing Sting and Buzz, Retired_Chemist. They are gorgeous; Buzz brought tears to my eyes.

@Rube, @mmorgan & @Arundel, I too had BaNES for Elaine, but wasn't certain, and had no idea for EDEL. This was my last letter, and since I was solving in AcrossLite, I tried the E. I would have had a DNF on paper.

@Rex, I actually watched the music video from the Broken Bells. I come from the generation where we used a 23D, closed our eyes, and supplied our own images. What's a seven letter word for sexy, creepy, funny and oddly profound? Thank you for posting this, I think; wonder how long it will be stuck in my head.

@jackj, your law firm was laugh out loud funny.

@syndy, you brought back such strong memories. On the way to and from debate tournaments we used to say . . . we're all bozos on this bus.

jberg 2:38 PM  

I think that was me predicting we'd see BANDB soon. So what's next? Maybe "Rasta phrase: IANDI?" "Popular candy: MANDM?" Or a real Natick, "Cambridge deli: SANDS."

It was indeed bouncy.

bacme up on this, will ya? 2:41 PM  

Good question! I'm not sure if it is posted in full...I didn't know how to upload my old video to YouTube, but you can see the part where I win a motorhome in this little doc called "Business with Passion" season two
Spoiler: double BB plays a bbig part!

Ha! Thank you for posting that fan letter!!!
Who knew?! I'd love a copy for my blue days...
I will hope there was a big fat check with it...or even a little skinny one!
love your site

Kendall 2:53 PM  

Really enjoyed this aside from the Eastern most part. RHEE was not a name I knew. Also had no idea what a biopic was, or why the name SELENA had anything to do with Jennifer Loopez. -NY- only turned into ENYA after I changed the last letter of 46A to A instead of E.

sanfranman59 3:13 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)

Tue 6:41, 8:55, 0.75, 2%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 3:59, 4:35, 0.87, 7%, Easy

ksquare 3:24 PM  

For 12D Elaine's name, there was an Edward BENES as president or prime minister of Czechoslovakia in the 30's and/or 40's.
And I always look forward to bandrea's contributions to these comments.

Bill from NJ 3:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 3:50 PM  

@Andrea WOW Just watched your business with a passion. That was fantastic and I hope all in Rexville watch it.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:06 PM  

Add my WOW to that of chefbea!

Clark 4:10 PM  

Crazy fun. We once had a cat that we named BOB. Turns out Bob was a girl, so she became Bob-Helena (pronounced BABA-lānä), in honor of Ms. Elaine Benes. Elaine's hair sometimes looked just like Bob-Helena's (who was a Turkish Angora -- well mostly anyway).

I confess that I sometimes listen to ENYA in the car. It's definitely a way to take the edge off. If you try this, be sure to approach it with a bit of ironic distance.

retired_chemist 4:47 PM  

@ Anon 9:07 - Gotcha! Big Ben (the Steeler) was a joke.

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

This theme has been done before, possibly a few summers ago. In that puzzle every clue contained the letter b. Did anyone else have deja vu?

chefwen 5:09 PM  

@Andrea - That was one impressive video.

Puzzle was certainly bouncy, but a tad bit too easy and slightly bbboring in my opinion, at least B's are fun to make.

Two Ponies 5:11 PM  

@ andrea, Thanks so much for sharing. Very fun and interesting.

treedweller 6:10 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle good use of PURPORTEDLY. I've seen some of the companies in my line of work that are BBB approved or certified or whatever. Don't put a lot of stock in their recommendations, is all I'm saying.

To those complaining about some of the ABABABA fill, take some solace in the fact that we didn't get a single "rhyme scheme" clue in this one.

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

Rex - We all know that this is Acme's blog and you are the front man, so to speak,,,,

santafefran 6:38 PM  

ACME--how wonderful to see glimpses of you growing up and pictures of your family. Also cool to see you and Woody Allen on your shelf.

You really are a special person; thank you for living passionately and sharing your energy with us every day.

The puzzle made me smile and put a bounce in my step.

And Rex--thanks for hosting all of us.

michael 6:54 PM  

Bole is new to me. Thought nle was National League East...

Glaucon 7:17 PM  

All those B's and no love for Busby Berkeley? WTF -- er, WTB?

Shamik 8:29 PM  

4:09. Very easy. And that's going on 1-1/2 hours of sleep. B-b-b-beautiful puzzle. Sort of.

@Purple Guy: It must have been one of my non-solving days...but I am sorry to hear of your loss. One of my many hats is hospice nurse. Don't hesitate to contact me if you need to talk. And I'm Peoria, least through next Tuesday.

abeaffie: any opinion by chefbea!

Sfingi 8:45 PM  

I did OK with the young pop stuff, but (like @Arundel and @Rube) had my Natick at EDEL crossed BENES. Despite being a Philo major - 50 yrs. ago, including a semester of American Philo. Further, I'm probably the only person in America who thought the final episode of Seinfeld did the right thing putting those characters in jail.

Did like the puzzle. Yes, there are other BBs, but I agree I can't construct a puzzle and am glad they keep on coming.

Syngman RHEE is very oldster. SELENA is an excellent showcase of Lopez' talent. She was unrecognizable and totally immersed in the character.

chefbea 8:48 PM  

@shamik lol

JenCT 9:03 PM  

@ACME: finally got a chance to watch the video - what a poignant interview! Sounds like you've had a very interesting life so far. Thanks for sharing yourself with us every day.

@Rex: LOL on the fan mail.

Anonymous 9:16 PM  

@bacme up on this... I truly enjoyed your life story, but i am confused about your spoiler alert - Spoiler: double BB plays a bbig part! What did you mean?

Sparky 9:37 PM  

This bubbled right along. First was working on the long crosses and then realized there were a lot more Bs there. Fun to play with.

Thanks @Andrea for the moving interview. @PurpleGuy. Good to see you again. @Rex you've given us a gift, thanks.

acme 12:41 AM  

@anonymous 9:16
BB was referring to the word solved to win the motorhome...

Thanks to all who watched the show! Very suitable for a memorial service, no?
(Only regret is that he edited the AIDS references which made it sort of end on a downer note, but that had been mid-interview...and my hair has grown back since then!)

But the whole thing came about BECAUSE of this blog! Someone who reads it recommended me to Jay...

Do watch the other folks too, many are interesting and inspiring!

When does the backlash begin?

Dirigonzo 5:24 PM  

From syndicationland where I just watched the amazing ACME video (modifier applies to both the person and the video) - if we all took @acme's advice and did what we love the world would be a happier and better place. Unless what you love is making more money than the next guy, or than you will ever need for even your most extravagant dreams, in which case never mind.

B-movies are not so hot; this B-puzzle was a lot of fun even though I Naticked at the oralb/arca cross and guessed wrong. Had BEERBottle for a while but the crosses fixed that problem.

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