Automaker Chevrolet / SUN 5-15-11 / Villainous group Get Smart / Train part where sorting was once done / Fleet Amtrak train / Damascene's homeland

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Constructor: Cathy Allis

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Included Herewit" — "-TH" sounds are changed to "-T" sounds in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style. This is apparently some kind of tribute to "My Cousin VINNY" (75D: Film cousin whose accent this puzzle spoofs), which I never saw and never had any desire to see. Weird how the puzzle doesn't even mention the Oscar TOMEI won for that movie ... anyway ...


Word of the Day: TABOR (34D: Small drum) —

n.
A small drum, often having a snare, played by a fifer to accompany the fife.

[Middle English tabur, from Old French, alteration of tambur. See tambour.]

• • •
Despite the fact that hardly any of the theme answers were instantly graspable, and much of the fill seemed pretty unusual (in a mostly good way), I think I set a new Sunday speed record. I don't know what my old record was, honestly, but I don't think it was much under 10, and I was well under 10 on this one. By far far far the biggest hold-up came in the NE—I have never heard the phrase "sweet bird of youth," so I had to fight for every last letter of that damned answer. Also didn't now that LOUIS (14D: Automaker Chevrolet) was Chevrolet's first name, so had a brief moment of panic that I'd get Naticked up there. But the clue on the theme answer finally made UTE clear, so I got out of there, and nothing in the rest of the puzzle gave me any kind of trouble. Was there really a BAT ROOM? The Bat Cave, I know. I mean, I didn't watch the '60s show, so anything's possible, I guess. Also, I don't understand the clue on TABLE OR BOOT (68D: Non-choice for restaurant seating?). "Non-choice?" What's a "non-choice?" Is the point that you literally can't sit at a boot? I really hope that is not the point, because that would be the weakest of weak sauce. Is it that you get a TABLE OR you get the BOOT, as in "booted from the restaurant." Also not great. Oh well. The rest was pleasant and reasonably entertaining.



Cathy Allis is the new puzzle-maker for New York Magazine, replacing the legendary Maura Jacobson.

Theme answers:
  • 24A: Salt Lake City athlete's dear hawk mascot? (SWEET BIRD OF UTE) — That's a pretty forced / awkward clue.
  • 27A: Possible result of a costly Italian vacation? (DEBT IN VENICE)
  • 55A: Jokes in a campy 1960s TV locale? (BAT ROOM HUMOR)
  • 64A: Akin to milking cows? (LIKE PULLING TEAT) — this one *should* be in the middle, because it is the clear winner of the day.
  • 78A: Bless butter with a gesture? (CROSS ONE'S PAT)
  • 108A: Vessel for just the two of us? (YOU AND ME BOAT) — ew, not good.
  • 113A: Role of a boxer's physician? (WELT MANAGEMENT) — easy once I got over the idea that "boxer's physician" would be a veterinarian.
  • 4D: What Ernie may wish he had vis-à-vis his roommate? (BERT CONTROL)
  • 68D: Non-choice for restaurant seating (TABLE OR BOOT) — "Would you like a table, or would you like to sit in the trunk of a car in London?"
Mild confusion abounded today, though clearly not enough to hamper my forward progress much. I was sure that the puzzle would have Barney as some kind of SOT, but no, they went with his other defining characteristic—his SLOBbiness (13A: Barney Gumble of "The Simpsons," e.g.). Went through many possible types of CAR (including MAIN CAR) before I hit on MAIL CAR (52D: Train part where sorting was once done). Spelled EVONNE's name wrong at first, of course (115A: Tennis's Goolagong). Wavered between TABLA ("a small hand drum of Norther India"—answers.com) and TABOR at 34D: Small drum, but made the right choice. Nailed both NFL clues — L.A. RAMS (84A: Former SoCal N.F.L. team) and RAVEN (74A: Baseball : Oriole :: football : ___). Also nailed "GLEE" (42A: Hit show with New Directions singers) which I probably would have gotten instantly even if I hadn't watched an episode immediately before starting this puzzle.



Bullets:
  • 54A: Shakespearean fairy king (OBERON) — this makes me think of prison, in that I once taught Shakespeare in prison, and I just got a message from the guy who runs the program, so ... I may be headed back. Too bad "Crosswords" isn't really a college-credit-worthy course. Unless...
  • 88A: Damascene's homeland (SYRIA) — "Damascan" seems better, but nobody asked me.
  • 65D: Villainous group in "Get Smart" (KAOS) — well, if you didn't know this one, then you clearly didn't listen to my extended radio interview, which aired last week. Interviewer asked me to comment on a Newsday puzzle as I was solving it, and KAOS was one of the first answers I ran into (first audio is the piece that actually aired—scroll down to the bottom for audio of me solving and commenting in real time). I'd like to thank the puzzle for allowing me to shamelessly replug myself ... as it were.
  • 100D: Fleet Amtrak train (ACELA) — If I made a list of every recurring crossword answer that I learned only after starting this blog, I wonder how long that list would be. However long it was, this answer would probably be the first thing on it, alphabetically.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

102 comments:

arlene 12:30 AM  

Sweet Bird of Youth is a Tennessee Williams play.

Arlene

oldbizmark 12:34 AM  

"my cousin vinny" is great. what is the matter with you? i thought i was a movie snob.

Anonymous 12:50 AM  

By the transitive property of humor, you would like My Cousin Vinny. I enjoy your jokes and I love that movie.

Adrienne 12:52 AM  

Do you want to sit at a table or booth? As opposed to sitting at a table or getting the boot.

Joe 1:03 AM  

Here's the scene that must have inspired the whole puzzle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpNgONH2ncI

Also explains why the first theme answer (at least the last word of it) had to be in there.

CoffeeLvr 1:07 AM  

MAILCAR and ACELA, the old and the new.

I found a lot of the clues forced, like the restaurant "choice," but the puzzle was fast and did not have any horrible sticky places. In other words, the ease of solve was pretty consistent throughout. Did not know ANTA or ALAI, but the crosses were pretty clear. I like DEBT IN VENICE best of the theme answers.

CoffeeLvr 1:10 AM  

@Joe, thanks for posting the link!

chefwen 2:19 AM  

Under 10 minutes, it takes me 1/2 an hour to just read the freakin' clues, WOW!

I liked it, didn't love it. BAT ROOM HUMOR was a favorite. Husband is in the industry, so that's a biggy in this house.

Two new words for me were LABILE and PROLIX.

CoolPapaD 3:23 AM  

Rex - I suspect that you are going to get many messages urging you to watch "My Cousin Vinny," arguably one of the funniest movies in the past few decades. @Joe - thanks again for the clip.

I enjoyed this, with a single blank at the TABOR / OBERON cross. The first clue reminded me of my dear grandmothers, one of whom was my introduction to the NYT puzzles.

A big thanks (or not) to the constructor and you posters who got me hooked on Ted Talks. Good LORD, the time can fly as one sits listening to an amazing 11 year-old violinist, or to Mark Bittman, or to the other five or six lectures I sat through in the last two days. I am hopelessly hooked!

jae 3:26 AM  

Cute and easy--no missteps. An odd and subtle way to salute a memorable movie.

Gil.I.Pollas 4:06 AM  

I knew I would like this one the minute I entered 1A. I used to pronounce it booby until my cheeks were pinched and I learned to add H at the end.
DEBT IN VENICE is my favorite since it rings so true.
@CoolPapaD - I'm also hooked on Ted Talks. I think you can thank @Tobias D.

Anonymous 4:27 AM  

In the international edition (International Herald Tribune) there is an extra row along the right-hand side, which made it very confusing (since it made no sense). Just saying for those of us who got that edition.
Peri (in UK)

Jamie 4:50 AM  

I'm so jealous that you haven't seen My Cousin Vinny yet - you will. It's great.

Anonymous 7:13 AM  

The easiest sunday puzzle i've ever done.
Has the NYT readership been dumbed down, or has Will just given up?

Bob Kerfuffle 7:16 AM  

As remembered from a hundred years ago (give or take a few): "What's the first thing Batman and Robin do in the morning? They go to the Batroom."

Glimmerglass 8:02 AM  

No, no, Rex. WELT MANAGEMENT is what the fighter's trainer does in his corner between rounds (styptic pencil, etc.). This was my favorite theme answer, as a stereotypical boxer my pronounce "wealth" that way.

chefbea 8:24 AM  

Never saw My Cousin Vinny but this puzzle was sooo easy.

Did not know neocon but noticed the shout out to one of our own at 9 down!!!

The Bard 8:25 AM  

A Midsummer Night's Dream > Act IV, scene I

[Music, still]

PUCK: Now, when thou wakest, with thine
own fool's eyes peep.

OBERON: Sound, music! Come, my queen, take hands with me,
And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.
Now thou and I are new in amity,
And will to-morrow midnight solemnly
Dance in Duke Theseus' house triumphantly,
And bless it to all fair prosperity:
There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be
Wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity.

PUCK: Fairy king, attend, and mark:
I do hear the morning lark.

OBERON: Then, my queen, in silence sad,
Trip we after the night's shade:
We the globe can compass soon,
Swifter than the wandering moon.

TITANIA: Come, my lord, and in our flight
Tell me how it came this night
That I sleeping here was found
With these mortals on the ground.

[Exeunt]

joho 8:52 AM  

Funny write-up, Rex. I, too, was wondering if there was ever a bat room. I suppose there's one somewhere in the cave.

This was super easy and kinda cute. It definitely makes me want to see "My Cousin Vinny" again. "Yute!"

Lindsay 9:00 AM  

Yesterday I was off at a rowing race, competing in the doubles division. It never occurred to me that my partner and I were in a YOU AND ME BOAT.

And that was fine.

conomist 9:04 AM  

MEH.

That is all.

CFXK 9:32 AM  

My first thought on getting my first theme answer, "Sweet Bird of Ute," was MY COUSIN VINNY:
http://youtu.be/YpNgONH2ncI

I hate it when people tell people the HAVE to see a movie, but you HAVE to see this movie. Really.

OK, so now I hate myself.

Cool Dude 9:44 AM  

Rex, your parsing of theme answers is quite often terribly and, clearly, deliberately obtuse, but you really take the cake this time with your refusal to understand TABLE OR BOOT. It is obvious what it means. Get over the fact that it took you two seconds to understand it or something?

An Old Woman 9:47 AM  

If one can live in a shoe, one can certainly sit in a BOOT.

Rex Parker 9:59 AM  

Not a single adequate answer for how BOOT is supposed to work. Everyone knows it's a reshaping of BOOTH. The question is, how does the wacky phrase work? And no one can agree. I'm hearing "you sit in a boot" (?). I'm hearing "you get the boot" (?). Even the guy who says it's "obvious" can't explain. "BOOT" is not not not the same as "the BOOT." If that is what is meant, that suxxxxxx.

Also, I'll never see a Joe Pesci film unless he gets killed in it (e.g. "Goodfellas").

rp

jackj 10:21 AM  

Was this the easiest Sunday Times puzzle of the Shortz era?

Not to say it didn’t give some pleasure, with its mildly humorous theme entries, but it needed better clued fill to give the puzzle more body.

There must have been giggles galore amongst Times crossword staffers as Saturday’s benign clue of “Milk source” for TEAT put on garish scarlet lipstick and sequined nipple rings to transform itself into the more aggressive and titillating, LIKEPULLINGTEAT. Oh, my!

One blessing of this puzzle, it got rid of that tired chestnut of a clue, “Tummy muscles”, for ABS, by cluing it as “Car safety feature, for short”. Take ye pleasures where ye may.

Greene 10:23 AM  

@Joe: Thanks for the clip. I had completely forgotten that Fred Gwynne played the judge in "My Cousin Vinny." An excellent foil for Pesci, the two of them spar deliciously throughout the movie. Highly recommended.

Since the puzzle riffs on Brooklynese, shouldn't 24A be SWEET BOID OF UTE? I realize this plays on a completely different aspect of Brooklynese, but what a wacky puzzle that would be!

The first theme answer I uncovered was BERT CONTROL (which remains my favorite). I love how some of the theme answers not only convert TH into T, but also phonetically spell out the changed results. The puzzle was easy, but this upped the ante a little bit.

I hope everybody noticed that I didn't write 3 paragraphs on IRENE yesterday. I found my self restraint to be admirable. :-)

JC66 10:27 AM  

@Rex

Watch it, or don't watch it, but what makes My Cousin Vinnie marvelous is, in part, that it spoofs the ideosyncratic traits of the characters Joe Pesci usually plays.

Also, Tennessee Williams isn't math or science, so you're never having heard of Sweet Bird of Youth does surprise me.

foodie 10:31 AM  

Damascene that I am, I agree with you Rex that it seems like an odd derivation, almost obscene...

People say that my sister looks like Marisa Tomei. I loved, loved her in that movie!

I laughed out loud at "LIKE PULLING TEAT".

I'm glad that there were no TH occurrences anywhere, i.e. outside of the t(h)eme.

Very fun, easy and nicely done!

JC66 10:31 AM  

@Rex

But I do agree with you on BOOT.

@Green

I, for one, looked for and missed your comment on IRENE.

quilter1 10:32 AM  

Naturally my first entry was PIECED. I didn't care what else was in it after that, but, I really liked this one for the theme answers. Esp. LIKE PULLING TEAT, DEBT IN VENICE, SWEET BIRD OF UTE, well, just all of them.
@Bob and Chefwen: at our house we say I'm going to the batroom, Robin.
@ChefBea: That's what I'm talkin' about.
Yes it was easy, but the fill wasn't stale, and I don't necessarily want to struggle on a Sunday. Off to take Mom to church.

Andrea Rouda 10:36 AM  

Are you 12 years old or what? I am amazed, week after week, that you ever get this puzzle done at all with your astounding gaps in basic knowledge. You never heard of the expression (or the play) "Sweet Bird of Youth?" Did you attend high school in this country? And by the way, "My Cousin Vinny" was a truly great movie, turn off "Glee" and watch it!

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

@Rex - Do you have something against Joe Pesci?

thursdaysd 10:52 AM  

Well, that went fast, but I thought the theme answers pretty dumb - haven't seen the movie, and doubt I will. But then I'm not fond of puns.

Interested to see RADON show up, haven't heard about that in ages. Liked the cluing for AROMAS and ROYAL. But what on earth is ALOP?

Greene 11:21 AM  

@AndreaRouda: Oh come now, we all have astounding gaps in our "basic knowledge," whatever that phrase means. I suspect what you mean is that you are amazed Rex's educational focus and interests don't mirror your own.

The difference between you and Rex is not these so-called gaps, but the fact he is willing to freely and publicly own up to what he doesn't know. That takes a kind of intellectual honesty that is, in my experience, quite rare. I'll take that honesty over intellectual snobbery any day. Besides, the man solved the puzzle in under ten minutes and likely knows more than you and I combined, so you might want to curb your outrage.

Incidentally, "Sweet Bird of Youth" is an obscure play that premiered in 1959 and has not been seen on a Broadway stage for over 35 years. I know it because I love theatre. I'm delighted to find others who know of it, but I certainly don't expect people to carry the Tennessee Williams canon in their back pocket as "common knowledge."

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

To this elderly viewer, a serious movie buff since the New Wave of the late 1950s, My Cousin Vinny is one of the best movies ever made. Marisa Tomei was close to perfect. I can understand missing it but can't understand having no desire to see it.

Chance Wayne 11:34 AM  

Relentless caper for all those who step
The legend of their youth into the noon
—Hart Crane

PRINCESS: (Raising a band as she listens to it)-- All day I’ve kept hearing that sound, a sort of lament that drifts through the air of this place: I can’t bear it any longer. I’ve heard it too many years, Chance. In all of my exile places. Tangier, Monte Carlo, The Island of Cyprus: palm gardens around grand hotels, olive groves on Mediterranean Islands. It says “lost” to me, “lost, lost” -- all that I lost with my youth, that sweet bird that suddenly, some day flies away from your heart and leaves you with someone like me, and me with someone like you. Hear it ? Try to hear it darling. It’s much wiser than we are: we want to stay: that’s foolish, it tells us to go on along. . . . Come on, let’s go on along the Old Spanish trail. Call the car and let’s go ! (Pause.)

Mel Ott 11:36 AM  

My favorite was BERT CONTROL, but LIKE PULLING TEAT was right up there.

I'm not a movie person, but I liked "My Cousin Vinny".

Skua 11:39 AM  

Sweet Bird of Youth, a revival of Tennessee Williams' 1959 play about an aging movie star and an ambitious hustler. James Franco told MTV news that he and Nicole Kidman will star. David Cromer will direct. Target opening: fall 2011.

chefbea 12:05 PM  

Ditto what @Greene said!! and I also had heard of Sweet bird of youth!!

Captcha = Dialing...what we aren't doing any more

davko 12:31 PM  

I hardly felt challenged by this somewhat goofy, quasi-pun driven affair, but with an answer like LIKE PULLING TEAT, you don't feel completely let down.

I noticed this puzzle partially breaks with a Sunday penchant for placing theme answers horizontally, and it was good to see a couple of verticals (4D, 68D) this time. But why not go the distance? I'd love to see a balanced number of across/down theme answers for a change, and maybe you constructors out there could enlighten us as to why this rarely occurs.

Enjoyed the "Gotcha" at 62A, where I instinctively wrote in ARAL, only to see it correctly pop up at 67D. Meanwhile, it was nice to see ALAI clued differently than by way of a favorite Florida pastime.

Can anyone explain ROYAL for "What we may be?" (98A) I'm wracking my brain, but just don't see it.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:34 PM  

@davko - As in, The Royal We.

Queen Victoria: "We are not amused."

CoffeeLvr 12:55 PM  

@Greene, thank you for speaking for me (and others.) I learn something from almost every puzzle, and remember some of it.

@Chance Wayne, thanks for digging up the source of Tennessee Williams title.

@Bob, thanks for reminding me of teasing my little brother with that (ouch) joke.

Karen 1:08 PM  

I agree with @conomist.....MEH is a non-word.

davko 1:12 PM  

@ Bob Kerfuffle
I'm an Anglophilic ignoramus for sure, as this is the first I've learned such so-called "nosims" amongst Royals. Maybe I should've joined the masses and tuned in last month... Thanks much.

Kurt 1:51 PM  

Okay. I'm the first to admit that I'm not a big fan of the Sunday puzzle. I find the themes too cute by half and the fill to be of Tuesday difficulty. Rather than a stimulating challenge, it feels like a boring endurance test.

So almost every week, I work a puzzle from Will Shortz' book "Tough Crosswords" which are reruns of past NYT Friday & Saturday puzzles. I'm now on Volume 12.

But every once in awhile, I take on the Sunday puzzle. Like today. My wife is out of town. I'm bored and lonely. So I took my NYT Magazine to the local bar & grill over-looking Naples Bay .... and started in on the Bloody Marys and the puzzle. Big mistake.

The theme was, again, too cute by half. YOU AND ME BOAT? BAT ROOM HUMOR? LIKE PULLING TEAT? C'mon. Even after four Bloody Marys , it wasn't clever.

And true to form, the fill was right out of a Tuesday puzzle. ALOP, SARI, SLOB, RAVEN, ALER, TERN. C'mon again.

My question for Will is: Would you ever run a themeless Sunday puzzle with Friday/Saturday difficulty? My guess is "Never gonna happen!"

Evil Doug: I could use a little support here.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

I enjoyed all the comments almost more than the puzzle.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

I won't see a movie with Winona Ryder, my mother wouldn't see one with Rosemary Clooney. Sure, we missed some great movies--as My Cousin Vinny is.

Enough on the subject already.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

Debt in Venice adds a b and drops an h.

Marisa Tomei is almost always nearly perfect.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

@Greene, Rex is quite capable of defending himself, according to past experience.

Also, it is a bit rich for you to criticize a commenter for intellectual snobbery, then proceed to snobbishly consider Broadway theatre the only theatre that matters, and yourself the premiere authority on it. We don't all live in Noo Yawk, but some of us hayseeds out here actually know a thing or two on our own account.

Ed Begley 2:13 PM  

Obscure ?

Tell that to the Oscar (Supporting Role) I won beating favorite Omar Sharif in 1962 for my stint as Boss Finley in Sweet Bird of Youth.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

Love the blog, hated this puzzle. And it's "booth"

A Girl's Life In Dog Years 2:26 PM  

Sitting in a booth at a diner eating brekkie...not sure what the hullabaloo about booth is, but LOVED this puzzle!!!

jberg 2:28 PM  

My only problem with this puzzle was the title - it should have been INCLUDED HEARWIT rather than HEREWIT, since all but one of the theme answers not only dropped an H but changed the spelling of at least one word. Then TABLE OR BOOT would not have fit, but as Rex pointed out it doesn't fit anyway. (I guess the idea was that TABLE OR BOOTH is a choice, but TABKE OR BOOT is no choice at all, i.e. a nonchoice. Yech!)

As for MEH being a non-word, weren't a bunch of folks clamoring for it a few days ago, the day we had MWAH? C'mon, let's be consistent!

Well, one other complaint - mueslix is a generic name for a type of cereal, originally from Switzerland, not a Kellogg brand, even if they do sell it. Or - wait - maybe that's MUESLI, and they brand-named the X? Evil!

I did have one error - had BEBBE for one A (don't know Yiddish, and never heard of ULEE, thought maybe Peter Fonda had played Robert E LEE sometime).

@Andrea Rouda - you're missing the point. Rex's greatness resides in his ability to solve puzzles quickly without actually knowing anything about much of the content. Wish I was better at that!

KarenSampsonHudson 2:44 PM  

For me, about 3/4 of the clues were easily known or inferred, and 1/4 were NOT. "Table or boot?" Meh.

Matthew G. 3:03 PM  

Rex, your strange aversion to seeing "My Cousin Vinny" baffles me. I think it really is widely regarded as one of the funniest comedies of the last couple of decades. I'm usually a pretty highbrow guy when it comes to film, but you're really missing out on this one. The American Bar Association ranked it third on their list of the 25 greatest movies ever made about the legal profession (behind To Kill a Mockingird and 12 Angry Men), and I agree with the rating. Among many other treats, it features Fred Gwynn (Herman Munster) in his final role, and one of his best, as the judge/Southern gentleman/straight man and Pesci's foil.

In any event, Joe Pesci's accent in the movie is one of the film's classic trademarks, so this theme worked beautifully for me. I think if you've seen the film, there's nothing puzzling about TABLE OR BOOT -- "boot" is how Vinny would pronounce the word "booth." And sometimes when you go to a restaurant, they ask if you want to sit in a table or a booth. Simple as that. I don't understand what there is to not understand.

Fastest Sunday ever for me, too. And a breezy Sunday that never felt like a slog. I look forward to Cathy's work in "New York" magazine.

quilter1 3:05 PM  

@Andrea Rouse: come, now, it is a game. We do it for fun. And because we can't stop ourselves.

Must have puzzles.

LIKE PULLING TEAT made me remember a mini-scandal some years ago when an Iowa congressman (probably Grassley or Harkin) used the farm phrase "sucks the hind tittie" in an interview. Oh the lawsie me's going around the media, and we didn't even have the ability for it to go viral then. Some peole thought he was cussin' in public and that it wasn't seemly. Iowa just laughed.

Shamik 3:09 PM  

Love the movie.

The puzzle? 18-down

Just happy to be solving a puzzle. Work truly does get in the way of puzzle solving.

Elizabeth 3:19 PM  

Oh, please. The movie is not that great, people.

/admitted film snob

AV 3:22 PM  

@davko: it was good to see a couple of verticals (4D, 68D) this time. But why not go the distance? I'd love to see a balanced number of across/down theme answers for a change, and maybe you constructors out there could enlighten us as to why this rarely occurs

simple answer: intersecting theme entries is not easy.

longer answer: grid constraints (symmetry, number of blocks, etc.) dictate the placement of theme entries. since theme answers are required (in most cases) to be the longest entries, you will usually see, say 5 entries going across, with 2 down entries (with the theme entries not crossing one another).

in some themes, where there's a plethora of good entries to choose from, one could have an equal number of across and down theme answers, but i am not sure constructors would deem this a more elegant puzzle.

what i liked about this puzzle was the interesting intersection of several theme entries.

e.g., 4D, 64A and 68D are connected; the added intersection of 4D-27A, 68D-108A is rare because the letters at the intersection of two theme entries need to match!

so, all-in-all, while a similar theme (where all theme words changed spellings: death --> debt, both --> boat, wrath --> rat, myths --> mitts, birth --> bert, breath --> brett, wealth --> welt, ruth --> root) has been done before (NYT, "MAKE TH A T SOUND", 10/1/2006), i quite liked the extra oomph created by vinny, tomei and the intersecting entries.

Anonymous 3:36 PM  

@conomist and @karen:
Ditto you.
MEH? Neeevver heard of it.
Sloppy.

Sparky 3:41 PM  

Found it fairly easy and puns okay. Did not take them out as far in meaning as Rex so just saw them as changing the sound. I thought the booth was no choice because who would sit at a table mid-room when you can sit at a booth? I always like the banquette.

64A--aren't we getting frisky? Spelled EVONNE wrong at first. Hate ALER or NLER answers. Always fall for them, too. DUH. Not every SARI wearer is a bride. Same kind of mushy clue as the Girl Scout SKIRT.

If I bragged about my wide knowledge I'd be rather long of toot.

Rex Parker 3:42 PM  

Just saw "Bridesmaids." Now *that* is a funny movie.

RP

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Ok, so I just rewatched the Vinny movie on NetFlix, and it's just not that great. The plot is akin to TV lsituation comedy. The miscommunication that sets the thing in motion is stupid and implausibe. The long set pieces on southern stereotyping are campy stick, and the resolution scene where Marissa Tomei shines is bad TV writing. It's Tomei that makes this movie watchable, IMO.

Matthew G. 3:49 PM  

@Rex: Very much looking forward to "Bridesmaids" myself. Hope you come around on "Vinny."

@Elizabeth: Sorry, but it is. I mean, I almost never buy movies on DVD, because once I've seen a movie once, it's very rare that I see any point in seeing it again. I mean, I know what happened in it, so what's the point? "My Cousin Vinny" is the rare exception -- one of maybe 10 movies I knew I'd enjoy rewatching every year or two and therefore purchased on DVD.

To each one's own, but: (1) recognize that if you don't find "My Cousin Vinny" very funny, you hold a distinct minority view (87% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes); and (2) refusing to see it at all if you're willing to see something like "Bridesmaids" is just stubborn.

syndy 3:51 PM  

Loved the word damascene used to disscribe a syrian and not just a blade!Got the vinney theme at sweet bird of ute! sorry for Rex depriving himself-but what can you do?anyway gotta love a puzzle with LABILE and PROLIX!

joho 3:52 PM  

I forgot to mention that it was great that he not only "spoke" the theme answers, but VINNY actually showed up in the grid. Fantastic!

Rex Parker 3:53 PM  

O no, I hold a minority view. How will I live?

A. Rotten tomatoes ratings are useless
B. "Bridesmaids" has a 90%.

Victoriously,
RP

evil doug 3:56 PM  

Kurt,

I support you. The Sunday puzzle is just busy work.

Also, my pen doesn't like the feeling of that shiny NYT Magazine paper stock.

Also, the Magazine generally sucks hind teat with its pompous, mathematician-like arrogance.

Evil

Matthew G. 3:58 PM  

Rex,

The "minority view" comment was directed at Elizabeth, not you. She's seen the movie, and has a different opinion than me, which is fine, though I wanted to point out the overall consensus about the film. You have a weird bias against even seeing it, which is another matter altogether.

I expect "Bridesmaids" to be extremely funny myself, and as I said, I look forward to seeing it. I find Rotten Tomatoes ratings pretty reliable, on average. Look up 10 movies you love and 10 movies you hate, and you'll find them pretty accurate overall, I think, with the occasional outlier.

Three and out.

DBGeezer 4:10 PM  

@Rex Enjoyed your bio and hearing you solve a puzzle. Is the etymologic history of your penname public knowledge?
BTW, in the NYTimes this week there were articles about the hawk and her chicks. I learned that they are called EYASS. I should think this would be a great word / clue for crosswords. Have you ever used it or seen it used?

CoolPapaD 4:27 PM  

Two quick points: even though I indicated that Rex should consider watching "Vinny," there are few things I hate more than seeing a movie that EVERYONE thinks is the funniest/greatest/cleverest movie ever, getting to the end, and feeling let down. This happens not infrequently. I also HATE when I get to the end of a movie, not understanding what the HELL I just saw, and spending the next hour on the internet tryng to find out what the movie was about.

Besides the humor of "My Cousin Vinny," the lesson that it imparts (if there is one) is just how potentially flawed our justice system, the best in the world, can be. Without spoiling the movie for Rex, who is likely to rent it in the next few weeks, it is a scary thought indeed...

evil doug 4:30 PM  

Kurt,

Ooooh, one other important fact: Six effin' dollars. My friends at SBux let me gently read the Times, fold it back up and return it to the rack. If I put pen to (shiny) paper, though, I would be obliged to pay the ridiculous cost.

Evil
Unrepentant cheapskate

mac 6:12 PM  

Cute but much too big puzzle. Got the theme quickly, but there were some areas I had to almost guess, like Mueslix/prolix. I liked Debt in Venice and Like Pulling Teat, but the Sweet Bird of Yute won the price! Just thinking of that film makes me smile.

Those Larams almost got me again!

@CoolPapaD: which American justice do you mean, the one for the rich or the one for the not so rich?

fikink 6:16 PM  

@Evil, so good to hear from you!

@Mac, same here - too big.

Y'all make me want to rent My Cousin again for a lark.

Ripped through the puzzle with my first entry being DEBT IN VENICE. Must be because FIL baptized Gus, "Gustav Mahler Koenig" and Death in Venice a favorite film. Anyway, FIL was thrilled with today's fare, that's all that matters these days.

foodie 7:20 PM  

@Syndy, I had no idea that blade was a common clue for Damascene! I mean I know that Damascus is known for Damask and other fine patterns in both materials and in steel. I even have a Damascene sword (from my grandfather) with all kinds of patterns on it. I just didn't know that blade was the more common association for Damascene. What you learn on this blog!

To me, the one thing that stood out out re the Sweet Bird of Youth reference is that the expression is a great deal less common than any of the other theme entries...

@Greene, I agree that one of the things I admire most about Rex is his integrity in telling us what he did not know or what he learned through puzzles.

Raven Octavian 7:38 PM  

Easiest Sunday of all time. And as for the theme, I was not crazy about the homophonic h-bombs. Seemed forced. Like the constructor had an idea for two good ones but was forced to come up with five more.

Basically a big Tuesday puzzle with a half-baked theme. WELT MANAGEMENT is terrible, though ameliorated by being adjacent to SCROOGES.

Too many tired old crosswordese, including ESO, ASTO, ALOP, AROO, SNO, ATARI, ALER, ENNE. Meh!

Worst thing about an easy puzzle is that I just feel like I am filling out a list of words. Nothing sparkled or challenged at all.

breakfast fare 8:14 PM  

i wish "grits" had made its way into the puzzle.

chefbea 8:34 PM  

@foodie Didn't know that Damask table cloth is from Damascus. Another thing I learned

michael 9:08 PM  

I thought My Cousin Vinny was a very funny movie, but there is no point in telling Rex he ought to see it. I loathe for example Coen brother movies (unlike almost everyone I know) and get really tired of people telling me I'd really enjoy their latest.

Liked the puzzle, didn't find it as easy as some of you.

JenCT 9:13 PM  

Puzzle seemed very familiar to me, as I solve the ones in NY Magazine every week. So it wasn't hard, who cares???

@chefwen: I'm with you, it takes me a while just to read the clues!

*Sigh* - I'll never be a speed solver...

(Avatar is a female ruby-throated hummingbird that I watch just outside my computer-room window.)

mac 9:33 PM  

@JenCt: you have a lot of lovely birds around you! We're happy to keep the feeder filled for the finches, gold and house. And then there are the turkeys.....



Bablense.... I guess so.

Anonymous 9:51 PM  

My Cousin Vinny sucks. It's stereotypical, demeaning and definitely not funny. For once Rex has it right.

chefwen 10:30 PM  

@JenCT - When we lived in San Diego I had five giant hummingbird feeders that I toiled at keeping filled at the "height of the season". We don't have any hummingbirds here and I sure do miss them. They are fascinating little creatures to watch.

Sparky 10:41 PM  

@JenCT. Avatar: Wow. How did you get him to sit still?

Gil.I.Pollas 10:44 PM  

If you want to smile for the rest of today as well as this week, type in Rescued Baby Humming bird.

Depressed Guy 10:46 PM  

@Gil.I.Pollas : Rescued Baby Hummingbird.

Nope, didn't work.

Gil.I.Pollas 11:49 PM  

Sorry should have been more specific.
Go to Google then type in Rescued Baby Hummingbird. I swear it works and I promise a smile.

Forio 1:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
WillGH 1:06 AM  

Decent puzzle. Got a little confused by the Elvis clue. Wasn't his middle name Aaron, not Aron?

Princess Kosmonopolis 2:00 AM  

@CoolPapaD: You know RP is going to have to rent the movie, just to see what his loyal followers are talking about.

@RP: If you do watch the movie, will you tell us what you thought?

@breakfast fare: The grits scene is one of the best!

WillGH 9:54 AM  

Ah... answering my own question.

http://www.elvis.com.au/presley/article_aron_or_aaron.shtml

nurturing 10:01 AM  

As soon as I saw "Cathy Allis" I wondered if she had made this puzzle more difficult than her New York Magazine offerings (which are more difficult than Maura B. Jacobson's but still quite easy).

I suppose a crossword constructor can't change her stripes - she is who she is - and that's why this puzzle, for me as well, was so easy I breezed right through it in record time (for me - I'm no 10 minute solver!).

My mother, a dyed-in-the-wool Maura B. Jacobson fan, finds Cathy Allis's puzzles too confusing by comparison. Whenever I visit her in NY and see her NYMagazine (I leave the puzzle for her to do), I'm happy to see Cathy Allis's name. That means my mom will need my help!

That said, she is just too easy for the NYT Mag.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

You missed one of the funniest and most accurate courtroom comedies ever if you missed My Cousin Vinnie. I often used it in teaching lawyers trial advocacy.

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

Your comment that the answers didn't include "Tomei" is strange as #59 across is the name of the actress.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

I think RP's comment was that the clue did not mention that she won an Oscar for her performance.

RT

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

I, too, had probs with "table or boot" and decided to google. It's a computer term! It just didn't make any sense.

Dirigonzo 5:19 PM  

The prime-time denizens of Rexville seem to have been a tad cranky a week ago, with everything from the perceived (not by me)ease of the puzzle to our host's taste in movies being up for criticism. And the harshest critic, whom I shan't name but I think it's pretty apparent who I mean, turns out to be someone right here in my own home town! Small world, I guess.

Anyway, I didn't find the puzzle all that easy as I was doing it and none of the theme answers jumped into view for me as they did for others. But as I look at my completed pen on paper grid it looks less messy than usual so maybe fewer write-overs indicates it was easier than it felt.

Favorite wrong answer was at 114d- G.M. debut of 1964 where I put GeO (I know, I know - they came much later but, hey, it fit!) Was thrilled when NEWT came along (but more thrilled when his presidential aspirations crashed and burned in real time this week) and GTO, a car I actually owned in the '60s, appeared and inspired happy memories from my yout'.

Thanks @Gil.I.Pollas for the baby hummingbird video - a smile-inducer for sure!

@Rex - it was good to hear your mind at work while solving a puzzle.

Matt 5:58 PM  

Saw My Cousin Vinny. Didn't like it. Don't tend to like anything with Joe Pesci, one of the actors I least enjoy watching, so I'm with the minority here.

I did think the puzzle was really easy, but it wasn't near my fastest time. Probably because I was watching Mamma Mia while doing it.

Favorite clue: the one about NASA.

NotalwaysrightBill 9:29 PM  

Syndi-solver.

After watching "My Cousin Vinny" five times, I, too, have no desire to see it. Except for the scene where Tomei is wearing the most New Yorky fashion outfit ever filmed since the Follies days (and pulling it off mahvelously) and stamps out Mr. Ed style, "My biological clock is ticking!!!" Yeah, and ya just wound MY watch too!

I imagine that PULLINGTEAT would be pretty good BERTCONTROL. Just don't let Ernie get too close to Katy Perry next time she's featured. That's more than just WELTMANAGEMENT there.

Ginthepin 5:02 PM  

Did nobody notice that 'Mueslix' is spelled incorrectly in this case?

Kelloggs makes a cereal called 'Muslix' (umlaut over the u; no 'e' in the word)).
Just sayin' .

Re "Vinnie": if you can't stand an actor, wild horses can't drag you to the theatre.
I can't stand Dianne Keaton, but I'm sure she's been in some funny movies....nevertheless, I've no interest in
seeing any of them.
It's the singer, not the song.

I get Rex's comments 100%

Lois 4:03 PM  

Rex: Develop the desire. Vinny is Pesci at the peak of his crazy powers. He deserved the Oscar, not Tomei.

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