Architect Louis / THU 5-5-11 / Only bird with nostrils on tip beak / Theme for Julio Iglesias / Nonrectangular part of skyline / Series grisly cases

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: JR. — four long Down answers are all names that should end in "JR.," which appears to be omitted from each answer, but which is supplied by the "JR." formed by the black squares in the central portion of the grid


Word of the Day: Louis KAHN (24D: Architect Louis) —

Louis Isadore Kahn (born Itze-Leib Schmuilowsky) (February 20, 1901 or 1902 – March 17, 1974) was a world-renowned American architect of Estonian Jewish origin, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. After working in various capacities for several firms in Philadelphia, he founded his own atelier in 1935. While continuing his private practice, he served as a design critic and professor of architecture at Yale School of Architecture from 1947 to 1957. From 1957 until his death, he was a professor of architecture at the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Influenced by ancient ruins, Kahn's style tends to the monumental and monolithic; his heavy buildings do not hide their weight, their materials, or the way they are assembled. Louis Kahn's works are considered as monumental beyond modernism. (wikipedia)
• • •

My only complaint is that this was a full minute easier than yesterday's puzzle, which is more a complaint about yesterday's (misplaced) puzzle than it is about this one. Again, as with yesterday's puzzle, we have a memorable, unusual grid, with a clever manipulation of the black squares into letters, adding a new visual dimension to the puzzle. I have to say I found the theme here pretty ingenious. On the one hand, theme-wise, it's just four guys' names. On the other hand the structure of the puzzle allows for a true "AHA" moment when the gimmick reveals itself. I got HARRY CONNICK early and thought "isn't he a JR.?" and then I got ROBERT ... DENIRO. Only after I fumbled a bit with the SE and realized that DENIRO was wrong did I ditch it and pick up DOWNEY. That answer, of course, led me to another "isn't he a JR.?" moment, followed by a "what the...?" and an "Oh ... wow, cool," once I finally noticed the "JR." spelled out in plain sight, right across the center of the grid.

Theme answers:
  • 4D: Baseball star (KEN GRIFFEY) — prettiest swing I've ever seen
  • 5D: Jazz/pop singer (HARRY CONNICK)
  • 20D: Actor (ROBERT DOWNEY)
  • 29D: Singer/dancer/actor (SAMMY DAVIS)
Fill is largely fantastic, though it gets pretty ... improvisational there in the middle. NO ACT / DODECA / ODO (22A: "Deep Space Nine" role) are doing a *lot* of load-bearing work, which is why I can't hate on them too much. Love love love BARACK over USOFA and SMOKE over REEFER *and* the fact that those two sets of answers are rotationally symmetrical. Super awesome x a million. "YEAH, I smoked some weed back in the day. Drank some BUDS. Now I'm leader of the free world. Maybe you've heard of me. I've been in the news a little lately." I'M ON A ROLL is right (17A: Gambler's jubilant cry).

Bullets:
  • 1A: It's bisected by the Missouri R. (S. DAK.) — really? "R." is an abbrev. for "river?" I got it easily, but I've never seen that abbrev. before.
  • 24A: Only bird with nostrils on the tip of its beak (KIWI) — My wife is a KIWI. The beakless kind.
  • 58A: Figure in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision (SWING VOTE) — my favorite answer in the puzzle. Lovely.
  • 45A: Series of grisly cases ("C.S.I.") — *TV* "series"...
  • 3D: Theme for Julio Iglesias (AMOR) — at first I thought this meant he had a theme *song* ... in four letters? Uh ... "FAME"? ... "LADY?"

  • 11D: T.A., someday? (PROF.) — I love that this has a "?" at the end? HA Ha. There's no real reason for it. No wordplay. No cleverness. Just ... sad economic / professional reality. Without the "?" off, the answer would be "Adjunct."
  • 31D: City known as the Big Guava (TAMPA) — that is one stupid name. And a rightfully well-hidden one (never heard that name in my life).
  • 59D: Actor Wheaton (WIL) — the "Star Trek" geekery of this puzzle is kind of adorable. Had no idea who ODO was, but know very well that WIL Wheaton played Ensign Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek: TNG."
  • 2D: Nonrectangular part of a skyline (DOME) — could've been lots of things, but not lots of things in four letters.
Happy Cinco de Mayo,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter or Tumblr]

76 comments:

Tobias Duncan 12:57 AM  

I wanted ACME for 2 down but I guess it was a stretch.
This nerd also had to flip through his mental DS9 rolodex and choose between ODO, Dax, Nog and Rom.
Sorry for the long post, but if I dont tell this anecdote, I fear I may burst.
When I was in high school, I went to a sixteenth birthday party thrown by some kids hippy parents.The mother was against us drinking beer so she provided insane amounts of marijuana,it was everywhere throughout the house on paper plates.At one point ,I was in the driveway drinking beer with some other kids and she came up and mildly scolded me "there is tons of weed in the house man" she said "tell you what, I will trade you this joint for the rest of that beer". I sheepishly handed over the beer and she stood around long enough to make sure I lit up the joint.I took one small token puff and passed it on.Big mistake, in the 80s Taos was nationally known for strong pot and I have never been able to tolerate the stuff well anyway.The last thing I remember was wolfing down chocolate cake with the other teenagers and dimly realizing that something was horribly wrong. I turned to the kid next to me and asked how he liked the cake. He allowed it was the worst thing he could remember eating but was powerless to stop the constant shoveling action as he tore through a second piece.I looked around and everyone else was in a similar predicament. Turns out it was some kinda goddamn vegan CAROB cake with no flippin sugar.
Now some of you I am sure will be horrified that children were given drugs by adults and yes that is morally tenuous ground to be sure.But giving stoned teens carob cake is just plain twisted and should carry a stiff sentence.

PurpleGuy 1:14 AM  

@Tobias - great story man. One more toke ?

Trying to follow his post is like following the proverbial dog & pony show.

My absolute favorite part of the puzzle was having SMOKE over REEFER. Actually REEFER in a NYT puzzle is pretty F'ing amazing !!!
I'm sorry, but I was not much impressed. The letter "j" I can see clearly, but the "r" is a stretch. They should have been one square narrower each.

Otherwise, a rather easy puzzle. Had to get the baseball guy from crosses. I'm a Star Trek nerd so ODO was a gimme.

I really also have a hard time accepting USOFA. I like USA, and that seems to be what most people say.

Ok. I guess I'll go have another martini and smoke some more Panama Red !!!!!!!!

SHIT - Sure Happy It's Thursday !!!!!! ;)


Shanti -
Bob/PurpleGuy

CoolPapaD 1:18 AM  

Loved this puzzle, but I REALLY loved @Tobias Duncan's story more (and I'm a vegan). Too bad the parents didn't supply whippets - you could have worked nitrous OXIDE into the tale!

Agree that this was quite a bit easier than yesterday's gem, and I'll readily admit that I never saw the Jr on the grid before coming here (well, I saw the weird pattern before embarking, but never make the connection between the grid and the missing "Junior"). I had Albert Downey for a time before realizing he was an invented actor (I had Albert Brooks's face in my head).

errhode 1:35 AM  

I think you're missing part of the theme -- in all four cases, the clues hold for both the Jr. and the (mostly less famous) Sr.

Or maybe that's just incidental?

syndy 1:59 AM  

had a little trouble with the nw since I couldn;t dredge up the ballplayer and had put down patents for 19 across and OHIO for 1 across (have seen the "R" on maps)gotta love a puzzle were a priest'a rabbi and a duck walk into a bar smoking a reefer! but why oh why do so many architects build so many butt-ugly buildings? whats with that? captcha UNALUMA: she didn't graduate.

retired_chemist 2:23 AM  

@Tobias Duncan - good story. Thanks for sharing.

Not a fan of "themes" which provide no assistance in solving the puzzle. Jr.? Meh.

However, the puzzle was enjoyable to solve. Started with AWAY GAMES @ 14D, figuring HOME might appear once I had a cross. It did. Said crosses also ruled out my first guess, PATENTS, @ 19A.

Had DODO @ 24A - its nostrils acc. to the pictures in Wikipedia look pretty far down the nose too. I BET for 32A seemed to fit with DODO but - surprise - the downs just. weren't. happening. KEN GRIFFEY to the rescue though. That whole section fell one I saw him.

Thanks, Mr. Fagliano.

jae 2:54 AM  

Yes, easier than yesterday's.

Yes, clever/fun theme with lots of great fill.

And yes Tobias, a stiff sentence is deserved!

chefwen 3:19 AM  

I found this one to be more difficult than yesterdays. Had no idea who Ken Griffey was, had to get him all by crosses. Did not see the JR. until Rex had me color them in, where as the Us in Wednesdays puzzle smacked me in the face immediately.

We were visiting New Zealand a couple of years ago and were invited to an "after hours" tour of a endangered species animal park by the owners. We went into the Kiwi enclosure and one of the owners plucked a Kiwi out of his/her hidey hole and I go to pet him/her and even gave it a little kiss on the head. Sheer bliss!!! My brother was incensed, "I lived in New Zealand for five years and never even saw one". Pays to have connections Mikey!

@Tobias - Loved your story, AH, the joys of youth?

I skip M-W 3:49 AM  

@ Tobias, funny story; you're right about carob, and the odd hippy ideas.

I thought this puzzle was excellent, even htougyh I barely knew any of the names, they came through on crosses. I had heard vaguely of all the seniors except Sammy Davis Sr

thanks @Rex for explanation of shapes, and for Louis Kahn bio; you left out that he was a secret bigamist with two separate families,and that few of his building designs were actually built, but he is widely considered a truly great modernist architect
@ errhode, thanks for the point about the Sr's. Is there a hidden S somewehre in the puzzle design

Many of the clues seemed great and very refreshing.
I'm shocked too that the grey lady would allow a reefer. the Times used to fire even excellent reporters who smoked the stuff. But drinking beer or anything else was quite allowed.

captcha = bariast , one who serves reporters and does gymnastics too

andrea carob michaels 4:05 AM  

@Tobias
Now that's a story!
(And thanks for considering ACME for 2D)

This puzzle was strangely hip, yet in a 40-years-sort-of-late kind of way.
(The whole REEFER, MIME thing, yet >:( suddenly pops it into this century)

Did not know ODO...but luckily never saw that clue!

And slight disconnect on "Couldn't agree more" being = to YEAH??? Seems to call for something more emphatic...like YSER.

Happy the fill was easy-ish and same experience as @Rex thinking "Hmmm, HARRYCONNICK never seen it without the JR..." so lightbulb came on right away...
But at the end, I wanted a reveal, and didn't see the j r till I was finished!

So is @errhode 1:35am right? Do the clues fit BOTH father and son??? Was SAMMYDAVIS Sr also a Singer/dancer/actor? And is HARRYCONNICK SR a Jazz/pop singer?

So @Rex, even tho you weren't far off on writing in Deniro, as I believe he is a JR too...(Wasn't he just in a court case about his dad's art?) the clue "Actor" wouldn't have fit father too.

What seems great is that BARACK Obama is also a JR which we just learned last week in that BOS puzzle.

Also, I thought SAMMYDAVIS JR was adopted by a Jewish family, so you would never have a JR, bec you can't name someone for someone alive in case the Angel of Death takes the wrong one...
(Altho, as my pal Arthur Phillips points out, if the Angel of Death is that bad at his job...)

I liked that ROBERTDOWNEY actually went DOWNey.

I tried calGRIFFEY bec I'm a girl, but luckily a dim bell was rung... (and tried enOS before AMOS and aLSo before ELSE)
Oh, all right, I also had 28D "They are universally accepted", I put in "thanks"...then idIOMS...

My biggest self-induced chuckle was that for about two seconds I ACTUALLY considered "Helen" for "Deep voiced Hayes"!

A bird with nostrils seems borderline creepy.

jae 4:47 AM  

@ andrea -- me too for ALSO and ENOS.

Glimmerglass 7:50 AM  

I'm with chefwen. Still can't see the R in JR in the grid.

thursdaysd 8:32 AM  

Well, that was a slog, as the only one of the four I was sure of was SAMMYDAVIS. Needed google (well, Bing) to get from tARRYCONNICK to HARRY as I wanted tiRe instead of HARD. Had no idea of the JR until I came here.

Liked SWINGVOTE, ORIGAMI and AXIOMS, but otherwise too many proper names. I need to go find a cryptic to take the taste away.

David L 8:34 AM  

Pretty easy, except that I got stuck in the NE corner -- ALSO for ELSE, LOUIS for LIRAS, and before that ODER for YSER. LIRAS are not bygone coins, I think -- still in use in Turkey.

I sort of vaguely realized that the names should have a JR on the end, but I didn't see the JR in the puzzle until I came here. Only for KENGRIFFEY is the SR in the same profession: Connick Sr was (is?) a DA or somesuch in Louisiana, who came out on the winning side of a recent (and appallingly bad) Supreme Court decision. Downey Sr was a TV host, not an actor, I think. And Davis Sr? Who knows....

Catechist 8:41 AM  

@David L: I also had a problem with the NE; it was the last part I got.

I really wanted 20A to be PINATA but I knew ROBERT DOWNEY was correct.

But yeah, overall good puzzle. Nice theme (I can see the "r" in the grid, and I guess the period below it). Good long answers.

I am a T.A. right now, so that ? after the clue makes me cry inside.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

I was thinking Cinco de Mayo and immediately plonked down pinata for one getting hit on at a party. Messed up my whole day.

jackj 8:59 AM  

If the puzzle doesn't direct one to check the note pad, then, why check the note pad? It wouldn't have mattered since the alleged "R" wouldn't even make a decent blot in a Rorschach Test, let alone make me think it was a letter of the alphabet.

But, the KENGRIFFEY answer had raised the question, Junior or Senior? HARRYCONNICK, next door, answered that for me, must be Junior for a 2011 Times puzzle and that must be the gimmick.

SWINGVOTE was my favorite answer in the puzzle, (but I note that Rex already wrote those same words). Well, I would have added the word "Lovely" for further emphasis. (Oops).

Nice puzzle, though it's too bad it is first up after Jeff Chen's classic; comparisons seem unfair.

jesser 9:00 AM  

Ah, Tobias! The memories of Taos! I smoked a bit of REEFER up on Sally Howell's roof and wound up eating all that was available in her kitchen: smoked oysters. Two tins of 'em. She and I giggled late into the night.

I have to remind everyone that Jimmy Buffett tours with the Coral REEFER Band. Loves it.

Oh. The puzzle. It was like 7 mini-puzzles. The center was, by far, the hardest zone for me. I had I'M sAD at 43A for a long time, which made ORIGAMI hard to see, on account I know squat about Deep Space Nine. But guessing the first D in DODECA helped me parse the rest of it.

Lots of people have commented on the loveliness of REEFER below SMOKE. I'll just chime in that I think it's appropriate that REEFER intersects ROBERT DOWNEY, and HOME GAMES intersects KEN GRIFFEY, and A BAR intersect SAMMY DAVIS (although maybe I'm thinking of Dean Martin), and NO ACT intersects HARRY CONNICK. Maybe I'm stretching.

Cinco de Mayo is a big deal down here on the border. I'm headed to Mesilla later for a beer or two on the Plaza with friends. There will be live music and mucho celebrating!

Conni! (Only if the Toas Police had caught me that day) -- jesser

Pete 9:09 AM  

@Andrea - THAT Arthur Phillips? I've been trying to decide if 'The Tragedy of Arthur' is worth reading, or if it's another POMO Pale Fire ripoff. Tell him you want the royalty on the one book I'll buy today.

I vaguely knew HARRY CONNICK (Sr) was a singer, but he's way, way more famous for running one of the most corrupt District Attorneys offices in the country.

tptsteve 9:13 AM  

@Tobias Duncan- fantastic story.

Another twist to the puzzle, perhaps intended but more likely just a coincidence, is that New Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick (Sr), was the petitioner in a case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court this past March-- it was a 5-4 decision (swing vote. He was also a party to another case decided by the Court in 1983, also by a 5-4 margin.

hazel 9:15 AM  

Kind of a harumph from me. Maybe it was just a letdown after yesterday's. And it was super easy - kind of like the much maligned wedding puzzle.

Also seemed to have a macho vibe -except for Fred Flintstones' wife (and good old Mother Earth) nothing but males in the puzzle - with a lot of excess testosterone to boot (INASTEW, IMMAD, ONAROLL, PILESINTO, etc.!)

Re TAs, I was a TA who never had any intention of being a PROF. Same's true for the overwhelming majority of Masters' students in Geology. Could be we are the anomaly? and its still a sad commentary on the economic climate - differences in job opps for MAs vs. MSs.

Doug 9:20 AM  

This was about on par with yesterday's puzzle. Started with KAHN and went northbound. Even after I got all the themed answers, I still didn't get the "Jr." till I read the blog. Oh well. Had TIBER before NIGER and ROAM before ROVE and SOSAD before IMMAD but I begin using pencil on Thursdays, so I only ended up with a few erasures.

JenCT 9:23 AM  

@Tobias: great story!

Had IWONAGAIN instead of IMONAROLL, SOSAD before IMMAD; didn't know DODECA. Also found this harder than yesterday's.

Also loved SMOKE over REEFER - hidden directive???

retired_chemist 9:24 AM  

@ Hazel - no, you are not anomalous. Chemistry is similar, in that there are few academic jobs relative to the pool of fresh Ph. D.'s. IMO this is because there is a (usually) solid industrial job market in R&D which does attract students into grad schools.

dk 9:30 AM  

Tobias, send me the mom's name. The CAROB cake is criminal.

Today I got the theme right out of the shute. Woo woo!

And, tonight I see Acme.

Buying a lottery ticket.

The whole SMOKES, ONAROLL and REEFER theme was not wasted on me or on Robert Downey for that matter.

Fun puzzle.

*** (3 Stars)

John V 9:38 AM  

Pretty easy Thursday, but a two-seater nonetheless. Center gave me the most challenge until I got 33A lime; I was thinking the fruit, not the stuff you use in the yard. After that, all fell into place.

Initially had SUDS for 48D. Absolutely no idea about ODO, which solved with the crosses.

Theme was easy, knew all the names and saw the JR straight off.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Not very literate in baseball so I guessed KING RIFFEY and somehow had SLIM in 1D. So I could not get HOME GAMES even though it was staring at me. The rest went OK with some googling.
I noticed the "J" but not the "r". The JR connection of the four theme answers left me underwhelmed.
Being able to solve the puzzle with a bit of googling makes it a medium for me.

John 9:43 AM  

I still can't make out the "R."

Rex Parker 9:45 AM  

You see the "J," presumably. So ... the corresponding symmetrical black squares make the lowercase "r."

efrex 9:54 AM  

Definitely could've switched yesterday and today & I would've been fine, but I still got a kick out of this one. Since I solve on paper, I saw the instructions before starting, and recognized the JR right off.

Originally thought we were going to have a "Dallas" theme, but after getting KENGRIFFEY, I caught on, and the remaining 3 theme answers fell quickly.

The SW was the last to drop, thanks to a double mistake (ROAM for ROVE and ASWE for ASIT). Somehow resisted PINATA for REEFER.

The old gray lady allowed SMOKE, REFFER, and BUDS in the same puzzle?! Guess she's hipper than I thought...

quilter1 9:54 AM  

Hand up for suds and also.

In my world there is no substitute for chocolate.

Yes it was easy, but I didn't see the theme and was annoyed by seemingly random guys' names. Didn't see the Jr in the grid til I came here. I now appreciate the cleverness of construction more as well as many clues/answers that I liked, many mentioned already. On to LAT.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

@Tobias Duncan - You need to look at it the other way around. Say you've got this CAROB cake sitting around your house. How else are you going to get rid of it other than inviting a bunch of teenagers over and getting them stoned? No one else would eat it.

Brilliant problem solving on the part of the hostess if you ask me.

Captcha: unsings - What people wish was a realistic possiblity whenever I sing.

chefbea 10:06 AM  

I agree - much easier than yesterday.
Got Ken Griffey right off the bat (no pun intended) Have no idea how I knew that name. Also knew he was a Jr. Figured Sammy Davis had to be there also.

Fun puzzle

Glaucon 10:07 AM  

Rex, your take on the '?' in 11D has my mate and I in stitches.

Matthew G. 10:42 AM  

I loved this puzzle, and probably would have loved it twice as much (although had a worse time) if I hadn't solved on my iPad, wherein a note popped up as soon as I started informing me that the black squares contained a clue to the four long Down answers.  At first I thought we were going to get people whose initials were J.R. (I scanned for one who was an author so I could drop in J.K. Rowling, but no), and it took me until I got the latter part of KEN GRIFFEY's name to realize it was "Jr."  Getting to that point took a while, but then everything fell fast and, I, too, had a better time than on Wednesday.  But I would have enjoyed the a-ha moment if I hadn't seen the JR until after finishing.

@retired_chemist: I don't understand your criticism that the theme doesn't help with the solve.  If you realize the black squares stand for "Jr.," then you know you are looking for four people famous as Juniors.

@David L: You are correct that LIRAS are still used in Turkey and are therefore not "Bygone coins."  I learned this from crosswords, and it was actually why I resisted putting LIRAS in that space despite thinking of it immediately on seeing the L.  Hurt my time.  Bad clue in an otherwise fantastic puzzle.

@Tobias: Possibly the best anecdote I've seen posted on this blog. Brilliant.

JaxInL.A. 10:44 AM  

Ooooohhhh, maaaan! I flew through this Thursday in record time and kept saying to myself, "Hey, I must be getting much better at this!" Then I get here and everyone says how easy it is. I should resign myself to the idea that, even if it's Thursday, if it's easy for me then its probably just because it's an easy puzzle.

@acme, I did had to take out Helen to make way for ISAAC, too. What was I thinking? Glad you got home okay after having your flight cancelled Monday. Have fun with @dk.

Very funny write-up today.

That center block in the puzzle is gorgeous. CAROB, OXIDE, NIGER, NO ACT, IM IMAD with that great emoticon clue... Going down in that block AXIOMS, ORIGAMI, DODECA... Wow.

My daughter occasionally insists that I watch a scene from Family Guy, which in general is not my cup of tea. My favorite, though, is the scene where Stewie transports the cast of DS9 to his bedroom. He pronounces WIL Wheaton's name "Hwil Hweaton." Now I hear that voice anytime I see WIL's name.

Captcha = perpolo: good to see you again, @PurpleGuy!

Howard 10:44 AM  

If the 4 theme clues had been worded just a little differently, then the Sr/Jr thing could have been at play nicely for all 4. Griffey is clear. Connick is pretty clear too (though the jazz/pop thing is a little off). Both Davises were dancers, but I don't know if Sr acted and sang enough to fit the full clue. Downey Sr. was more of a director than an actor.

The theme is much more interesting if both Sr and Jr fit, because it explains the choices of these particular 4, rather than, say, Ray Parker, John Wayne Gacy, or Dinosaur.... So it's like one of those almost-pangrams. It's oh so close.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Harder than yesterday for me, since neither Harry C. nor Ken G. existed in my mental universe. Who what? Thank gods for Star Trek.

dk 11:13 AM  

Matthewg, click on my little picture and tell me how to do the puzzle on my iPad. Please and thank you.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:16 AM  

Nice puzz. Wrote a long post, Blogger ate it, no time to rewrite.

When my friends had reefers, didn't offer to me; I wouldn't have accepted.

Father had carob as part of heart health diet, I learned to hate the stuff.

These people are known as "Jr." because their fathers were famous.

What other abbr. is there for River?

Tempted by pinata; wrote over 9D, ALSO before ELSE, 50 D, ROAM before ROVE.

Two Ponies 11:22 AM  

I really really dislike proper names puzzles however this was another example of thinking outside the box so I had to applaud. Much easier than yesterday. I kinda wish Will would have timed this one differently. Following so closely after yesteday's beaut is a shame.
Great story Tobias.
@ dk, Can't wait for details about you and Andrea. If you've loved her from afar you're really going to love her in person.

joho 11:30 AM  

@Tobias Duncan, your story definitely set the mood today in a good way!

I liked the aha moment when I saw the theme as being Jrs but I never did see the j r in the puzzle. Thank you, Rex.

I guessed wrong at the ODO/DODECDA crossing ... ODO can't be well known and I'm a obviously a DODO when it comes to DODECA.

@Andrea, "A bird with nostrils seems borderline creepy" LOL

quilter1 11:53 AM  

Turkish LIRAS come in denominations of millions. We have a photo of piles of sneakers in a street market with 20 million lira price tags. When you travel in Turkey you get to be a millionaire for a few days.

quallys: relatives of kiwis with nostrils on their foreheads

CoffeeLvr 12:05 PM  

@Tobias, I like beer, too.

@Jesser, love seeing the associations you found crossing the names.

I confess, I cheated. I did see the NotePad note, and couldn't see anything in the grid except a J and its inverse. When I entered KEN GRIFFEY (first of the "4 longest down answers"), I thought: Ken? is that right? and consulted Google. I then saw the Jr., and used that ill-gotten knowledge to my advantage in completing the puzzle.

Funny thing, puzzles, it was easier to suss out 4 long vaguely familiar names than 1 unknown three letter mystery in the middle, ODO.

For 1A, I considered KCMO (Kansas City, Missouri) my home town, but not for long. Soon narrowed it to N or S DAK.

santafefran 12:29 PM  

Tobias--you rock!
@Bob Kerfuffle--Hated CAROB at first taste, no learning involved.

Saw the note early on but mistakenly identified the "r" as a "c" and was thinking it would be names starting with a "J" and "C" which kept me from breezing through. Had SW and NE,followed by the center of the grid but found the NW and SE challenging.
Writeovers included IDAH for SDAK and STORMINTO for PILESINTO. Also, I wanted GAIA instead of GAEA.

YEAH for SWINGVOTE!

sknorith--what my husband says I do loudly without my mouth guard.

william e emba 12:42 PM  

I turned this easy puzzle into a real challenge by filling in Betty for Pebbles' mother. I somehow managed to remember Pebbles was the child who went "Bam-Bam". Eventually, two pop culture clues that I've very weak on--ISAAC Hayes and KEN GRIFFEY Jr--enabled me to remember my Flintstones.

Regarding the black square hint--I thought that since there were four theme answers and four cheater squares, the hint meant something about cheating. Except I knew absolutely the NYT would not assume its readers know the lingo, but I couldn't think of anything else until I finished and saw the Big Jr. That kind of late aha moment reminded me of the ending of It's a MAD MAD MAD MAD World.

This kind of bad thinking that I knew was bad thinking did not slow me down, but it was highly annoying.

Sparky 12:49 PM  

Finished. OK,OK. @TobiasDuncan. Roaring out loud. Thought How frisky of NYT for reefer. I never liked pot; stuck to gin. Had ales before BUD, also before ELSE, DunE before DOME.

Could not see the JR, just the J. But now I think the r is that 6 square thingy below the big J. Had Sammy Davis first and was thinking Rat Pack.

ODO was Rene Auberjonois, another good actor, like Anthony Zerbe, who isn't a big star but makes everyone else look good. His Rene part used to show up in puzzles a while back. Fashions in crosswordese, I guess.

Have a good Thursday.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

when sammy davis jr lost his eye in an accident my husband's aunt was in the car with him. with all the hoopla over sammy, aunt eileen was declared doa. when her son came to the morgue to identify the body, it was noticed that she had goosebumps which corpses don't get. she was revived and went on to live a very long life. in fact she married at 71 to a 54 year old. they were both artists. as to today's puzzle, i solved it but needed rex to explain the theme altho i had noted that the jrs. were left off. couldn't see the r, thought initially that it would be names with JJ initials.

mac 1:13 PM  

@Tobias: great story, thanks!

This was very easy for me, because for once I read the note above the dead tree puzzle.... I immediately recognized the Jr. and also right away figured Connick and Downey would show up. Even remembered Griffey! Too bad there is no apt cross for Sammy Davis Jr.

This seems to be a very well thought out puzzle with my favorites: swing vote, reefer with smoke above, Barack with USofA underneath, and I'm on a roll!

captcha is "defacing"! Wow.

Doc John 1:23 PM  

After reading the notepad I went into the puzzle with the impression that the four theme answers has the initials J.R. Fortunately, that resolved itself soon enough and even let the constructor off the hook (albeit only my personal hook) for the small r.
A very enjoyable puzzle overall. I know ODO from the times I watched DS9 but there's a place here in town called Sushi Odo which is supposed to have great sushi and that's how I remember the name. Ultra geeky, eh?
Glad I'm not the only one to point out Harry Connick, Sr.'s role in the recent Supreme Court case. The fact that he seemed to show no remorse for his role in causing such trouble to an innocent man is very telling.

archaeoprof 1:31 PM  

This will be my last comment for awhile. Tomorrow I leave for this summer's dig. Will be back the second week of July.

I will miss our daily digital conversation. This group always brightens my day.

L'hitraoth/salaam aleikum!

PS: as an American headed for the Middle East, I'm glad those photos of bin Laden were not released...

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

I'm in the camp of finding this puzzle much harder than yesterday's which seemed breezy with all the famous palindromes.

Never heard of Ken Griffey. Have heard of Sammy Davis, of course, but he's way older than I am. Harry Connick? Well, I've heard the name, but could not have told you what he did for a living, how old he was, or what he looked like. And thought I was good with Robert Duvall.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:08 PM  

(Back from my annual Cinco de Mayo lunch . . .)

As did @santafefran, on first looking at the grid, I thought I saw "J C."

But at second look, I thought I saw "J {capital Greek gamma}."

Anyone else? Surely @Noam D. Elkies?

But I did catch on fairly quickly once I started solving.

shrub5 2:12 PM  

Really enjoyed this one despite the need for a couple of googles. I had just enough letters of MERGERS to come up first with MARGINS and figured the 17A gambler's cry would start with I WON... so had a tough time up top. Moved down a bit and got more traction. Saw the emoticon clue and entered FROWN without anything around it to indicate it was totally wrong.

Another side by side pair, MVPS and YEAH, is a shout-out, I'm sure, to Derrick Rose of the NBA's Chicago Bulls. Well deserved.

jberg 2:24 PM  

@Jesser hit it- seven mini-puzzles, all but NW and SE with only a 1-square link to the rest. It was still relatively easy, but I couldn't get ON A ROLL, but had to start anew with eachsection.

I didn't figure out the theme until coming here - like many, I could see the J but not the R. I agree that the 5 black squares in the S look more like an R, except for that one after CSI, which messes it up - and it would mean going down diagonally from J to r, and then horizontally to the period - so I don't think that's it.

Hand up for DeNiro and pinata; also had ROAM at 50D, but not for very long.

The Missouri goes through 3 states with 4-letter abbreviations, MONT, NDAK, and SDAK, but SDAK is the only one it actually bisects.

@Tobias, great story!

Oh yeah, I guess there had to be mostly men because women don't usually use Jr., right?

chefbea 2:24 PM  

Don't know how to imbed...but for all us foodies, here's a new game and @Andrea..even though you can't boil water, you will like the game

http://www.usaopoly.com/cooking/

andrea carla michaels, jr 2:39 PM  

@anon 1:09 pm
WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
Loving how this puzzle is bringing out these fabulous stories!!!!

@joho
Yeah, I don't know ODO from Star Trek or whatever that was, but I know Greek!
So it's either Greek or Geek to get that crossing!

@peter
Yes, THAT Arthur Phillips (childhood friend whom I've known since he was 3 and already a genius) THAT Arthur, who named his son Felix after his very much alive father Felix! I will exact my seven cents residual when I see him next week! I haven't even bought the book yet, but c'mon, the man is a genius! And they will stage a reading of the play at the Public in NYC May 16th.
Yes, everybody, go buy "The Tragedy of Arthur"! Come see the play!

@Two ponies
Wish you were here to join us!
It's not really a date, we are just going to hang out today.
@dk and I have already met with the fabulous @sethg years ago for a long lunch in Mpls. Usually we only communicate thru the blog as a sort of an inside joke.
So today, worlds collide, but no details will be coming forth if I can help it! ;)

ksquare 3:05 PM  

Sammy Davis Sr. was a member of The Will Mastin Trio who appeared on Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town show as THE WILL MASTIN TRIO with SAMMY DAVIS JR.

sanfranman59 3:55 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)

Thu 14:52, 18:58, 0.78, 17%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 7:05, 9:09, 0.77, 17%, Easy

retired_chemist 4:19 PM  

@ Doc John - there was a notepad? Oh. Now I see it.

@ Matthew G. - the above rationalizes my inability to use the theme. Clearly, my bad.

greg Costello 4:26 PM  

I've never seen Gaia spelled "Gaea." That one really screwed up my time, as the mergers clue was making no sense with a GIR in there.

Two Ponies 5:05 PM  

@ Andrea, I had know idea that you and dk knew each other beyond the blog. Have a great time.
@ archaeoprof, Hope it's a safe and successful trip.

JenCT 5:16 PM  

@Anonymous 10:01: That is too funny! I believe you're asolutely correct...

Matthew G. 5:18 PM  

@DK: Sent you an email. For anyone else who is wondering, the app I use to solve on the iPad is the app "Crosswords" (that's its full name) developed by Stand Alone Inc. It's a universal app, meaning that for the cost of one download you can use it on both the iPad and an iPhone. Also, I recently discovered that you can import .puz files into it from an email. So if you subscribe to, say, Fireball Crosswords or Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest, you can click on their emails in your iPad or iPhone and jump straight to solving.

@Greg Costello: That's tripped me up several times now. Now, when I see a clue that clearly calls for GAIA/GAEA, I leave the third square blank and resign myself to getting it from crosses.

Tobias Duncan 5:49 PM  

Comments section cracking me up today. Just the image of PurpleGuy sucking down Panama Red alone...then vegans with whippits and a rabbi and a duck walking into a bar smoking a reefer.
@Jesser , Sally Howell is sorely missed here in Taos, glad you got to spend time with her.
@dk I think the statute if limitations ran out long ago on the carob caper.
@anon at 10:01 you are far too funny to remain anonymous.Please please please create a profile!
I am feeling a bit jealous that dk gets to take Andrea out to dinner.

I am off to make some kefir and listen to the deep timbred musical stylings of Helen Hayes...

joho 5:53 PM  

@archeoprof ... Godspeed!

@Andrea & @dk ... you kids have fun!

chefwen 6:35 PM  

I had "looker" in first at 20A, glad it was wrong.

@archaeoprof - Have a safe and wonderful trip, will look forward to your return.

Noam D. Elkies 7:22 PM  

@Bob Kerf: indeed I saw J Γ too. Didn't check in here until now because I was in transit (solved the puzzle on the airplane). Puzzle didn't do much for me — it's a creative use of the grid to be sure, but all that comes out of it is four theme answers each of which is a celebrity 39A:NAME that happens to end with Jr. — ahimeh.

NW corner delayed by wrong turn at 17A: even with 7D/8D filled in I came up with I WON IT ALL, which is right in more letters than it's wrong but not good enough.

@Tobias Duncan: thanks for the hilarious 20A/27A: REEFER/CAROB tale!

Favorite clue: "Lime" as a kind of 33A:OXIDE. CaO, as I'm sure ret.chem. can explain further.

57A:USOFA — contents of a U-Haul?

NDE

retired_chemist 7:41 PM  

@ NDE - no need to explain lime any further than CaO. You did good, as our Aggies here say.

Julie 9:16 PM  

LOVED Tobias' comment (#1 on this thread).
First theme answer I got was Robert Downey, and since it's unusual for the theme answers to be "downs" I thought maybe they'd all be some reference to "down," so a little disappointed by the "Jr" theme, though I kept trying to figure out why there were J's on the board. Still, a fun and original Thursday puzzle.

Sfingi 10:09 PM  

Tobias Duncan can tell a story. Some day it will be as legal as carob and less barfy.

Found this difficult - so different from yesterday's. Didn't see the Jr, Googled 4 times (TAMPA, WIL, KAHN, REOS) changed antz to CARS, aLSo to ELSE, anger to IMMAD, IwONAROLL before IMONAROLL, MaRGinS before MERGERS. African river could have been Congo, until it was NIGER, ODO could have been DAX. Learned about KIWI and SDAK. I'm such a Wednesday person. Will I ever get past it?

@Glimmerglass - the r is lower case, though as big as the J.

@Noam - like your definition of USOFA.

HARRY CONNICK Sr. is definitely a sleezy D.A. I do like the Jr.

@Anon109 - For real? Why don't you come out?

Plural of LIRA is LIRE. At least in Italy.

When I taught in prison, there was a gay inmate who wore his hair in a pony tail on top of his head - and was called PEBBLES.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Noted the J in the grid, immediately wanted Derek Jeter as the ballplayer. That stalled me for a bit, but when I eventually got SAMMYDAVIS the r became apparent and GRIFFEY, CONNICK & DOWNY fell into place.

"no apt cross" for Sammy Davis? Maybe not, but SWING runs between the columns that contain HARRYCONNICK and SAMMYDAVIS.

12d: so close to ToKE.

note that Griffey Jr & Griffey Sr were both All-Star Game MVPS

Dirigonzo 3:03 PM  

From syndicationland.

That's an "r" - really? I was in the J C camp until Rex explained the lower case thingie and I still don't think it looks like an "r" - lack of imagination on my part, I guess.

Except for not getting the whole Jr. concept I thought this was pretty easy for a Thursday - finished with only a few writeovers and one blank square at #23.

Who knew there were so many stoners in Rexville?

Red Valerian 3:41 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. The ‘r’ does look a little less r-ish than the ‘J’ does J-ish, but they are utterly symmetrical. Didn’t know Ken Griffey.

@William e emba—I had Betty too!

@quilter1—Turkey decided to revaluate their currency in 2003 by stripping off six zeroes. The “new Turkish Lira” came out in 2005. As of 2009, it is no longer officially designated as “new.” One of your dollars (USD) is currently worth 1.57 TRY. (I’m Canadian.) We are going there for holidays in July. The “Arab Spring” hadn’t really started when we made our plans, but things look fine in Turkey, and we won’t be going close to any borders.

@archaeoprof- hope things have been going well. It’s a bit strange being here in syndi-land, sort of stuck in the past.

Dirigonzo 4:54 PM  

OK, now I see it (the "r" that is), and it's MOVING - groovy, man!

@Red Valerian - that's a really cool dog! And you are right, the syndication "time warp" can be very strange indeed. Safe travels to Turkey - my son went there a few years ago and loved it.

CAPTCHA is kaboopti which seems ripe with possibilities but in my present state of mind I can't see any of them. @NarB, any suggestions?

Waxy in Montreal 8:31 PM  

Count me in the camp of those who didn't recognize the r image so this puzzle became far more difficult than yesterday's. Thought the note hinted at JJ so began by (unsuccessfully) trying to fit JANISJOPLIN somewhere into the grid. Thereafter, went from bad to worse...

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