1996 slasher film with villain Ghostface / TUE 12-13-11 / Kojak portrayer / 1980s defense secretary Weinberger / Singer with 1995 12x platinum album Pieces of You

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Constructor: Jonathan Gersch

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: ELMO (61D: Pal of the starts of 17-, 24-, 40-, 52- and 66-Across) of SESAME STREET (19A: With 63-Across, where to find all the characters at the starts of 17-, 24-, 40-, 52- and 66-Across) fame—theme answers begin with BERT, OSCAR, GROVER, TELLY (?), and ERNIE, respectively



 Word of the Day: TELLY
Telly Monster, known usually as just Telly, is an eternally worrying, fuchsia monster Muppet on Sesame Street. He is puppeteered by Martin P. Robinson. // On his debut in 1979, he was known as the Television Monster, a character that was fixated on television. He had antennae standing out of the top of his head, and his eyes would whirl around when he watched television. After that stint through season eleven, producers worried that he would be a negative influence on their easily influenced viewers, and changed him into the worry-wart character that he has been ever since. [...] Telly is a triangle lover, and he has a pet hamster Chuckie Sue. He has been known to pogo stick uncontrollably around Sesame Street, often causing havoc with all that gets in his way. This segment is shown on Sesame Street Unpaved. Baby Bear is his best friend and appears occasionally in many of the main plots in the later series. Telly also has somewhat of a friendship with Oscar the Grouch, since they appear in many segments together. (wikipedia)
• • •

So the big revelation for me today was that there is a "Sesame Street" muppet named TELLY. Wow. By 1979 I wasn't watching "Sesame Street" any more, so I guess I just missed him and Never Picked Him Up. TELLY must *$&%ing hate ELMO. ELMO gets a big marketing campaign and he's all baby-voiced and cute or whatever, and TELLY's just an ugly depressed oaf. This theme is fine. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Felt very easy, except for a couple of moments when it wasn't. Those moments: ALBA (1D: Francisco Goya's "Duchess of ___")—really could've used a Jessica clue here; HISS (4A: Snake sound)—I wrote in HSSS (!?); the SE corner—I didn't make any errors, and even got WEAL off just the "W," but needed every cross to get LOT (73A: Drawing); VIERS (55D: Contenders)—it was my first guess, but I just couldn't convince myself it was a word; and ADWEEK (16A: Marketing pro's magazine)—absolutely no clue ... sounds vaguely familiar, but I needed virtually every cross. Still, finished under 4, which means if I didn't mention it in this paragraph, I torched it.



Theme answers:
  • 17A: Cowardly Lion portrayer (BERT LAHR)
  • 24A: "The Odd Couple" slob (OSCAR MADISON)
  • 40A: President who was once New York's governor (GROVER CLEVELAND)
  • 52A: Kojak portrayer (TELLY SAVALAS)
  • 66A: 2011 inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame (ERNIEELS)
Bullets:
  • 57A: Stella D'___ (cookie brand) (ORO) — I do not know this cookie at all. Star of gold.
  • 68A: Stately trees of Lebanon (CEDARS) — Stately Trees of Lebanon sounds like a band name. Like Kings of Leon, only much better.
  • 8D: 1980s defense secretary Weinberger (CASPAR) — one of those answers that will tend to be a gimme to anyone who was an adult in the '80s, but possibly a mystery to the under-30 set. Political cabinet positions tend to work that way. I often get comments like "how could you not know J.F.K.'s Secretary of the Interior?" and I always want to reply "You don't know that because you studied it or because you're smart, you know it because you were breathing air in 1960." But mostly I don't reply at all. And the answer is Stewart Udall.
  • 25D: Winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, and Oscar, and three Golden Globes (CHER) — a very dull clue for CHER. I mean ... CHER. Look at her. Look at her body of work. And "this* is your clue? Snore. Not nearly CHER-Y enough. I thought the answer was Rita Moreno at first.
  • 34D: 1996 slasher film with villain Ghostface ("SCREAM") — my only comment here is I can't believe that movie is already 15 years old. 


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

84 comments:

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

>TELLY must *$&%ing hate ELMO.

But he gets his revenge here- a theme clue while Elmo is relegated to the corner.

SethG 7:33 AM  

Liked the theme, especially the people consistency, but I do wish Telly was one of the more famous ones and Oscar Madison existed. Some rough fill, but also nice touches like AZURE/ASSURE. And I love Laura "VYERS" Viers.

jberg 7:36 AM  

A snap for me - but then I would have got Stewart Udall right away, not to mention the Duchess of ALBA (pretty famous painting, actually). Like @Rex, no idea about TELLY on SESAME STREET, but the answer was a gimme, so no problem.

Amazed myself by getting ERNIE ELS right off - an answer I know only from crosswords. Nice to see all those full names!

One writeover, arT before LOT, a nice misdirection, I thought. Oh yes, and PEAch before PEARS, but saw RPI before I even finished writing it in. And I should have thought VyER, but the crosses were unambiguous.

joho 7:52 AM  

The only ugly thing in this puzzle for me was SORER.

Fantastic dense theme. Finding ELMO in the lower right corner was a bonus.

I learned some things, too. I did not know that GROVERCLEVELAND was once governor of New York. Nor did I know the IRA was defunct.

Loved seeing all of ERNIEELS.

Very nice Tuesday, Jonathan Gersch, thank you!

buzzheart 8:06 AM  

Since when AMA a health advocacy group? It's a doctors advocacy group. Also fajita is a cut of beef not the wrap it is served in.

evil doug 8:10 AM  
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Tita 8:11 AM  

@Rex...if you had grown up in the NY area, you would know Stella d'Oro by the aroma from the bakery in the Bronx as you drove in or out of the city.
Trivia of the day re: the company"

SW slayed me. DNF on a Tuesday?? Themed with puppet celebs, no less...!
Even with JE_EL, had no clue there...
art for LOT, no clue about ELS, and think that WEAL is just ish...

The rest was super easy.
Duchess, Joan, Bert, all gimmees...brother went to RPI...

Glimmerglass 8:17 AM  

Easy -- but I screwed up the north center. I've seen ssss so often recently that I wrote that in for "snake sound" with SLA (Symbionese etc) at 5D. Wondered a bit about sALEST and AlCO, but left it. Never saw TELLY on SS, but T. SAVALAS was a gimme. This at the same time I was congratulating myself for the WEAL/LOT cross at 73A!

evil doug 8:24 AM  

Admiral sailing the fuchsia seas: Elmo Zumwalt.

Songsters we wish we'd seen: Steve and Idi.

Golfer who doesn't mind hitting one in the water: Erni Eels.

Where Perry Mason likes to crash after a few cocktails: On Della Street.

One of three African monkeys: Tsetse no...

Evil

Miette 8:39 AM  

Super easy! The only problem I had was the L in Alba/Lac.

quilter1 8:45 AM  

Yes, super easy. ALBA no problem, nor WEAL. I really liked it, though TELLY of Sesame Street was a stranger, TELLY SAVALAS was a gimme so it had to be right. Very nice Tuesday. Have a good day, all.

The Letter B 8:48 AM  

B

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

Saturday was the anniversary. Guess disrupting the "later in the week is hard" rule requires the importance of a Steve Jobs.

Doménikos Theotokópoulos 8:51 AM  

Francisco, mi amigo, just one artistic hint. Painting an unattractive woman in an even more unattractive background doesn't make the woman look more comely, it just makes for a completely unattractive picture.

El Greco

DocRoss 8:52 AM  

I'm pretty sure that Lake Geneva is known as Lac Léman, not Lac du Genève. That threw me off for a second, but it was still inferable. I enjoyed this one though.

mac 9:11 AM  

Easy puzzle with a nice theme, but I think the editing left something to be desired:

Nordic land: icel.?

Atria are light, with lots of glass, but not necessarily outdoor.

Agree about the fajita mistake, it's the meat.

With all those names, it's unfortunate that Ian Fleming was included.


The current Duchess of Alba is a very old lady who just married a man 25 or so years older. Incredible palace (bigger than the royal one), full of art.

Sorry, not in the greatest mood, on our way to a funeral.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

@Evil - Porn movie I'd like to see: Sadie Rode Idi.

mac 9:13 AM  

In the Kanton Genf the lake is actually called Lac de Geneve.

John V 9:16 AM  

Easy. Liked Ghostly spirit,FAJITA, SCHWA. Like @Rex, needed all the crosses to get LOT. Needed crosses to get a three letter word; ergo, SE was outstanding! Not so much NW, which felt like auto-fill city. Good thing Joan and ABE save us there.

Enjoyed the theme, bringing back memories of watching Sesame Street on Saturday mornings with my kids. And, oh yes, I needed Telly Savalas to get TELLY, which came after my Sesame Street days.

So far this morning we have a Tuesday that @Rex doesn't hate and most everyone seems to like. How can this be? Is this the beginning of the end????

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Here's another puzzle for you old people! (hint: if Telly Savalas is a gimme, you're old. Sorry)

Tita 9:21 AM  

@Doc...methinkss you are right.
Have French friends who live there, and they concur.

(Capcha: riour- what the French-speaking Swiss do when they read that clue...)

Tobias Duncan 9:33 AM  

@Anon 9:20 Who loves ya baby?

I have a friend who is dead Casper shaped, its uncanny.

Puzzle felt easy the whole way trough and still my time sucked. I am in a serious slump.
Quite a few parents in the coffee shop crowd, think I will print out some extras today.

foodie 9:39 AM  

I really wanted a reference to Cookie Monster!

And I'm with Buzzheart and Tita about the SE corner. WEAL? and, yeah the AMA 's mission does state advocacy as a primary aim, but we all know that there is more and less to them, so the definition is off...

Favorite moment was CEDAR of Lebanon... Depicted on the Lebanese flag. Spent some of the best years of my life in Lebanon, and the mountains are beautiful although Cedar is not common any longer.

Fun puzzle!

JaxInL.A. 9:41 AM  
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JaxInL.A. 9:42 AM  

Before I state my philosophical objection to one clue/answer pair, let me note that I enjoyed the puzzle very much, even though I got the theme immediately. I still had fun figuring out which characters Mr. Gersch would include, and I liked the AHA of realizing that the one golfer I do know (from crosswords) is the only one I needed here.  Also, I _loved_ SCHWA and SKEIN.

So, like @buzzheart says, whatever you may think of doctors (I have a couple in the family) or trade and professional associations (often useful in the proper sphere), the AMA is not, I repeat NOT, a health advocacy organization, any more than the ABA is a justice advocacy organization.  I'm a member of the ABA, but I don't delude myself about the purpose of the organization, even though it does some good and useful things that help the larger society.

The AMA is a professional association for physicians and as such is interested in medical issues, but it's advocacy focuses on what the organization sees as the interests of doctors. That is not identical with being a health advocate.  I'll spare you the rant about the national delusion that we have the best health care system in the world when fully one-sixth of the population, including me and my family, have little or no access to it.  Well, maybe I won't spare you, but that clue/answer pair just made my blood boil.

So, thanks, Mr. Gersch, for a frothy confection of a puzzle (with a sour pickle hidden inside).

retired_chemist 9:45 AM  

Nice one. Was led to Rex's (and @glimmerglass's) HSSS (4A) by my former terrorist org. the SLA. That gave me ALCO for 15A - hey, it's the left coast and ALCO(hol) might be a brand.

Looked for 63A to be OPEN (SESAME) but after BERT, OSCAR, etc., I got it. Is it a fault that 4 of the theme answers are real and one fictional (ERNIE ELS, who lives only in crosswords)? Better all one or the other....


Thanks, Mr. Gersch.

Telly 9:48 AM  

I would think Big Bird would be really pissed. No mention? But how would you clue it? "Lyndon Johnson's mother-in-law?"

Easy puzzle, but I thought for a moment the constructor got the Telletubbies mixed up w/ Sesame Street.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:00 AM  

Learned something today, regarding FAJITA - commenters are originalists, but the language has moved on.

According to The Ultimate Authority, Wikipedia: A fajita is a term found in both traditional Mexican cuisine and in Tex-Mex cuisine, commonly referring to any grilled meat served on a flour or corn tortilla. The term originally referred to the cut of beef used in the dish which is known as skirt steak. Popular meats today also include chicken, pork, shrimp, and all cuts of beef.

Enjoyed the puzzle.

Wiki 10:01 AM  

The first recorded name of the lake is Lacus Lemannus from Roman times; it became Lacus Lausonius, although this name was also used for a town or district on the lake, Lacus Losanetes and then the Lac de Lausanne in the Middle Ages.[3] Following the rise of Geneva it became Lac de Genève (translated into English as Lake Geneva). In the 18th century, Lac Léman was revived in French and is the customary name in that language. In contemporary English, the name Lake Geneva is predominant.

baja 10:08 AM  

Schwa - unstressed vowel. Does this mean schwing - stressed vowel?

joho 10:18 AM  

@ret. chemist ... ERNIEELS fictional??? I wouldn't tell him that!

Under-30 10:23 AM  

As a member of the under-30 set, this puzzle wasn't nearly as easy as it was for others. The only theme answer I could figure out without a lot help was Grover Cleveland. The rest (and some of the non-theme clues as well) were beyond my knowledge base.

Felix 10:31 AM  

Under 30 or over 30; you've got to know Oscar Madison for Pete's sake.

Two Ponies 10:32 AM  

I got the theme answers early despite not knowing Telly the puppet but I do remember Kojak.
Some of the fill took coaxing to appear. Least favorite was the clue for skein. Cats might like to bat around a ball of yarn but a skien just lies there.

retired_chemist 10:38 AM  

@ Joho, Felix - was my humor too subtle? :-)

Blue Stater 10:45 AM  

I agree with mac; badly edited. I'm surprised no one noticed the repeats from yesterday: AZURE and Joan BAEZ (the latter was in the clue yesterday and in the answer today). I spent a few years in the area near Lac Leman, the Genfersee, and Lake Geneva, and never, never once, heard it referred to as Lac de Genève. The Florida section was a Natick, with JEWEL, ERNIEELS, and WEAL all jammed together.

Matthew G. 10:45 AM  

I'm only 35 and TELLY SAVALAS was a gimme, but I needed several crosses for the MADISON part of OSCAR MADISON (so I disagree with both Anonymous@9:20 and with Felix!).

This puzzle was supremely Easy, and I finished it 20% faster than I did Monday's puzzle -- I would have swapped these last two days if I were Will. It was easy mainly because this was one of those days where the theme was actually useful to speed solving. I got BERT LAHR and then when I got to 19A I guessed SESAME with no crosses, confirmed, and then figured out the relevant characters in each of the other theme entries. Then went back and did the rest of the grid with those already filled in and providing a skeleton, so my speed was blazing (for me).

I don't remember the Muppet TELLY from my Sesame Street-watching days, either. Oddly, I think the reason I knew TELLY SAVALAS was that when I was a kid in the 80s, Mad Magazine used him whenever they wanted to make fun of someone for being bald. That has to be it, because I've never seen an episode of "Kojak" but I knew the answer cold.

Felix 10:46 AM  

@retired_chemist - Fully chuckled at your Els comment. I feel the same way about Stephen Rea living only in the crossword.

Tita 10:47 AM  

All this talk about Geneve reminds me of a then 15 year old relative, who when I said I was taking the train from Lyon to Geneva, asked wide-eyed - "You mean that's a real place?" (Reference to some Julie Andrews movie where she is queen of Genovia....)

And am wrapping presents right now to send to friends who can't make up their minds if they want to live in Paris or on Lac Léman.

Gill I. P. 11:00 AM  

This was a fun puzzle to do. Any reference to Sesame Street will always bring a smile up on this face. Both our kids (as well as husband and I) would be glued to the TELLY and watch. Just wish we could have seen Donald Grump, Twiddlebugs, Chuckie Sue (Telly's pet hamster) and Grundgetta the Grouch.
Loved seeing ERNIE ELS right below JEWEL. He's a terrific golfer and loads of fun to watch.
Goya didn't do anyone any favors by painting the Duchess of ALBA. He evidently had an affair with her while he sketched her in various poses. The painting doesn't do him justice. Now if someone really wanted to get creative, (bring back Andy Warhol) I'd love to see a sketch of Spain's present Duchess of Alba.

chefbea 11:17 AM  

Easy puzzle even tho I did not know telly. Never heard of wraith either

Atria Coopts Michaels 11:30 AM  

Soon as i saw BERT and OSCAR knew it was SESAME STREET tho that's after my time...
Thought it was crazy impressive to get in six Muppets AND the words SESAME/STREET in parallel places, plus that wildly nice GROVERCLEVELAND spanning the whole grid!!!!
Wonderful job, even tho I knew someone would say
"but where's Big Bird?" etc. or make that "but one is not real" type nitpick on a fantastically dense (in the good sense!) yet light and airy and lovely theme.
Yay, Jonathan!

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

AMA is actually NOT a doctors' advocacy group either ! They are a politically motivated group that represents around 10% of doctors! Check out Docs4patientcare.org. They are the only true advocates if health!

Azure croc michaels 11:40 AM  

PS in a moment of synchronicity, i solved the puzzle last night while semi-checking out the new game show "You Deserve This" ( which would be fun to write for, I think)
And this incredibly dense guy (in the nonpositive sense) was given the clues one at a time: Pbs, green, hairless, "swine fever", feels "manipulated", emmy nominated song, middle name "the"... And still had no clue (it was painful to watch)

efrex 11:45 AM  

Cruised through, getting the theme right off the bat, and finished off in the SE with WEAL (one of those words that sounds vaguely biblical to me). Strong theme makes up for a lot of sub-optimal fill, but I'm not gonna start a RIOT or a MELEE over it.

Stella D'ORO swiss fudge cookies and breadsticks were always on hand at my grandparents' house: haven't had either in centuries, and now have an uncontrollable hankering for 'em...

treedweller 11:53 AM  

When I had MADISON and CLEVELAND I was trying to figure out how LAHR fit into a president theme. As a child of SESAME STREET, I am a little embarrassed at how long it took me to catch on. But then, my favorite muppet was always Mister Snuffleupagus.(I'd like to see that in a puzzle!).

I know Jim Henson was the voice of most early muppets, so they can't sound the same without him, but Elmo and his generation, with their high, squeaky voices, are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Have kids' ears evolved some sort immunity to lower voices in the past few decades? To me, this seems like evidence that CTW has lost the magic. They are no longer thoughtful adults in loving charge of tender minds; instead, they are now clueless adults who think kids are incapable of dealing with the real world and need some kind of "kiddie voices" to interact with the ideas they hear. But I could be wrong, as I can no longer watch SS for more than a few minutes (or a couple seconds if Elmo is onscreen).

treedweller 12:00 PM  

Oh, sorry for the rant--I guess I feel strongly about those damn squeaky muppets.

I liked the puzzle well enough, VIERS and EENY excepted.

Every tex-mex restaurant I've been to sells FAJITAS. They don't sell "wraps with fajita meat" or "Fajita meat tacos." Order FAJITAS and you get some tortillas, some garnish (usually some sour cream, cheese, a little salad, maybe some peppers, and some salsa) and the main filling. In hippie Austin, you can frequently get "veggie fajitas" that replace the meat with grilled squash, mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc.

North Beach 12:13 PM  

I knew Stella d'Oro cookies from their TV ads of the '70's (?). Which prompted me to do a YouTube search and boy was I rewarded. Coffee all over my screen from my spit take at the following 2 videos (I am on my iPad so can't get the URLs 'cause it sends you right to YouTube):

Stella d'Oro Breakfast Treats Ad (34,000 views)
Patton Oswalt Stella d'Oro Breakfast Treats (650,000 views)

****THE SECOND VIDEO MAY NOT PASS YOUR BREAKFAST TEST AND THE AUDIO IS NSFW.****

Maybe someone can help me with the links if you think it's worth it.

David 12:28 PM  

@Tita - thanx for the Stella d'Oro memory! When I was in Sales many moons ago covering territories in the Bronx I would drive down the Major Deegan and get a wonderful whiff of the Stella D'Oro plant (maybe the only fun activity driving on that wretched highway).

Enjoyed the theme, got it immediately, never heard of Telly. But Kojak was a gimme so no slowups there. Only obstacle was forgetting WEAL, and considering WELL for Prosperity for a bit. Had an outside shot at a sub 5 minute time, but ended up with 5 mins 10 seconds, a few secs better than average.

CoffeeLvr 12:51 PM  

Well, I started out looking for a Wizard of Oz theme, but didn't enter anything, as it wasn't enough letters. Good thing.

Had a lot of trouble in Minnesota, trying ssSS, SDS, etc. Finally remembered ARCO (from crosswords) and left it there long enough to suss out the rest of the block.

Seems to me that if you don't know the SESAME STREET TELLY, you are likely to know the Kojak TELLY. At least that fits my experience.

JenCT 12:57 PM  

Fun, easy puzzle.

Only answer I didn't care for was ICEL.

I also briefly considered that the puzzle could be about the Teletubbies, before getting the SS theme.

Troi 1:14 PM  

TSETSE has got to be the most crossworded bug ever.

Lewis 1:31 PM  

Thank you @the letter b.

The puzzle went quickly for me, and felt meh. I did love Sesame Street, but felt no sparkle in this puzzle. And a puzzle either has that spark or it doesn't.

I did like the recent Sesame Street movie though -- that's a lot of fun!

retired_chemist 1:33 PM  

No, I think ANT outrates TSETSE.

captcha natic - my only reason for posting.

Kendall 1:39 PM  

Really liked the theme and theme density here. Quite impressive how much was able to be fit into the puzzle.

As for the rest of the fill, no thank you to a lot of it. Something about EMCEED just couldn't have been uglier in my mind. Combined with the seemingly higher than usual for a Tuesday crosswordese, I just felt like I was all over the place trying to wrap things up. RARA, BAEZ, TROI, TSETSE, TOSCA are all things I've only ever encountered because of puzzles. Thankfully those steered clear of each other and I could fill them all in based on crosses.

Again, thankfully the theme more than made up for my other dislikes and I finished this one with a smile. Hopefully when I'm not taking 3 statistics finals in one day I'll have a better attitude about crosswordese in crosswords. It's something I should get used to

archaeoprof 1:45 PM  

Same HSSS/SLA mistake as @glimmerglass and @retired_chemist.

Loved this puzzle!

My two all-time favorite Ernie songs:
"Dance Myself to Sleep" and "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon."

Bird 2:01 PM  

Great theme and great use of it to fill the puzzle. I was smiling with each fill. Since my nickname is Big Bird (I'm 6'6") I was a little disappointed at his omission, but I can't think of a decent clue.

I also dislike ICEL. WEAL is a word?

Only write-over was SAGA/EPIC.

jackj 2:18 PM  

A fun theme, (who can not like the Sesame Street characters; that would be a gaffe as serious as being against apple pie and motherhood), though it would have been nice if the group were somehow expanded to include non-PBS muppets like my fave, The Swedish Chef.

Three "yucks", SORER, VIERS and the cluing for EMCEED were offset by three "goodies", SKEIN, WRAITH and WEAL and a good time was had by all (except Big Bird).

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

@jackj - technically the characters on Sesame Street, with the exception of Kermit, are not muppets. If the theme was Jim Henson then we could have seen Miss Piggy, Animal and the two old stogies in the balcony Statler and Waldorf.

JHC 2:28 PM  

I call foul on OSCARMADISON. I'm a Jewish playwright from New York. I've been reading and seeing Neil Simon plays since I was prepubescent, including more iterations of "The Odd Couple" than I can count. I got OSCAR off the clue alone, no crosses at all. His last name? I didn't even remember that he HAD a last name.

Lewis 2:51 PM  

And just as a trivia question, do you remember Felix's last name?

Bird 2:55 PM  

@Lewis - Unger

The intro to the TV series . . .

On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence; that request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that some day he would return to her.
With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his childhood friend, Oscar Madison. Several years earlier, Madison's wife had thrown HIM out, requesting that HE never return.
Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?

dum, dah-dah, dah-dah . .

Felix 2:57 PM  

JHC are you under 30?

John V 2:58 PM  

@JHC: Ditto on the last name. However, the crosses for MADISON were very straight forward, save for SKEIN, trouble for some, and more of a W/T answer, IHMO. So, I'd only say Yellow Card infraction. (Sorry @Tobias)

Gill I. P. 3:26 PM  

@efrex: While visiting friends in NYC, we had some Stella D'ORO breadsticks. My friend said she bought cookies as well from a place called Glatt Mart in Brooklyn. You can order them on-line if the yen or nostalgia is strong enough. They were delicious.
@treedweller: Well haarumph. I'm no child psychologist but I can vouch for "kiddie voices" catching the attention of the wee-ones. Certain sounds seem to get them to listen, which in turn leads them to mimic whatever is being said. Our "red-headed little imp" learned the alphabet and lots of Spanish words thanks to Sesame Street. She didn't like the way "Nonie" sounded and I couldn't blame her.

Z 3:58 PM  

I can forgive VIERS since it resulted in a Laura Veirs video. She's great and deserves to be more famous than many women who are famous for being infamous.

To all those under 30's who struggled today, if you are lucky you too will be old some day and people like Rahm Emmanuel and Arne Duncan will be gimmes for you.

sanfranman59 4:03 PM  
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treedweller 4:06 PM  

@Gill I.P.
point taken. I guess I'm saying the other voices caught my attention fine back in the day and didn't drill into the brains of the adults around me in the process. Maybe high and squeaky is a little more effective, but at what price?

JenCT 4:12 PM  

@sanfranman: did you mean Tuesday?

chefwen 4:27 PM  

Very easy and I have never intentionally watched Sesame Street but their characters seem to pop up all over the place. I agree with @treedweller with their annoying squeaky voices.

Only write over was COOPTS over adOPTS at 8A.

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

I was expecting Rex to comment that Oscar Madison was the only theme answer who is not a real person since he loves conistency. Alas, nothing. Nada, Zip. Zilch. Instead he expounds on Telly. That's what I love about Rex: he is consistently inconsistent....

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

I'm doing the crossword in Switzerland looking out at Lac Leman, not Lac de Geneve as it says in 14 across. Only in English is it called Lake Geneva; in French it's Lac Leman.

sanfranman59 5:47 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Tue 7:58, 8:52, 0.90, 20%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:30, 4:34, 1.03, 50%, Medium

I'm not sure what to make of the discrepancy in the stats for the two groups of solvers today. It's a little early to tell, but I don't think there will be fewer successful online solvers today than is typical of a Tuesday, so I don't think that's the explanation. I can't identify any answers that should lead to more than the usual number of Tuesday DNFs. My own solve time slots it as a solid Easy-Medium and basically splits the difference between the two groups (32%). Hmmm.

(fixing my post from earlier today ... all of the numbers were correct, I just somehow got in my brain that it was Wednesday when I added my commentary ... thanks to JenCT & Atria Coopts/Azure Croc Michaels for showing me the error of my ways)

historian 5:49 PM  

Lake Geneva

sanfranman59 10:05 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:59, 6:51, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:58, 8:52, 0.90, 20%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:35, 4:34, 0.96, 44%, Medium

There were 731 online solvers compared to a Tuesday average of 787. So a little below average and it could at least partly explain the discrepancy between the two groups.

John Hoffman 10:16 AM  

No, I never heard of a Sesame Street character Telly.

ICEL is a stretch! Surprised that there's not more crankiness about that.

State north of Virginia (abbrev.) MARYL

mac 6:11 PM  

@John Hoffman: what bothered me most was that there is "land" in de clue and in the answer.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Easy Medium ???

I think your rating of difficulty should include more than the time it took you... For example... Alba, Halest, Schwa, Skein, LAHR (from Bert)... all in top are words I've never even heard of ... and all this is crossing each other.

Maybe I'm an idiot, but those are obscure words and that should play into your rating despite your knowledge of the words.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Spacecraft here. Whipped through this one like a hot knife through butter. Soon as BERT fell in, and I looked at the theme-clues at 19/63a and 61d, the jig was up. In an instant (or at least, as fast as I could write) all the theme answers were in. OK, so I'm old. And hey...where's the Count? I demand a recount!
I especially liked the symmetrical placing of roommates Bert and Ernie. Knew WRAITH from old days of playing Rogue--who remembers that one? I don't know how ICEL could be fixed, but it should be! Gawd, that's awful! HALEST made me flinch, too.
Now Rex: what's your beef with Cher? You know, they don't just throw those statues around for any old hack to pick up. She earned them. Yeah, DO look at her body of work. Hell, just look at the body! But seriously--did you ever see her in Mask? That's a remarkable film, and she's equally remarlable in it.
Defenders of Cher, unite!

DJ Stone 1:01 PM  

Sometime back in the early 90's, Cher made a music video where she performed an eminently forgettable song while dancing in her underwear on (as I recall) a Navy ship. Only reason I remember this is because of a comment I read from Richie Sambora, Bon Jovi's lead guitarist.

Told that Cher was getting heat for basically doing a nude video, Sambora, at the time Cher's boyfriend, replied, "Hey, I love that s**t!" Since Sambora is neither a gay man or a dance club bimbo, pretty sure he wasn't talking about the song.

Sage of La Mesa 3:08 PM  

Just for the record: The acronym ARCO stands for Atlantic-Richfield Oil Co. This knowledge from the 31st Greatest Oil Co. Guru in the world. Very easy, simple puzzle, especially to anyone with puzzle experience. Don't understand the kvetching. Of course without the nits and picks this blog wouldn't hold any interest, except for Evil Doug - my favorite commentor.

Dirigonzo 3:39 PM  

From the TWI(Time Warped Insights)-Light Zone, Cher is 65 years old and still totally HOT - Rex should have more respect for his elders.

Am I the only one who totally fell for the obvious trap at 8a "Takes as one's own" and plunked down ClaimS without waiting for any crosses?

By April 2007 Rexville was starting to resemble the modern community, with some commenters appearing daily and lots of banter among them, including Rex. Most of the names were unfamiliar from modern times, but bluestater, Waxy in Montreal, Deb and doc john all made appearances and are still with us. Rex even turned the blog over to guest hosts for a week while he vacationed in Mexico. And @Linda G if you are still around, I would like to meet you.

Red Valerian 9:17 PM  

@Dirigonzo--"TWI-Light Zone" That's cute, but maybe too oddly au courant with those books and movies. But I can't think of better. "TWI-side" doesn't have much of a ring to it.

Liked the puzzle (as I am wont to do). Balked at WEAL, but got it from crosses (though I agree with all the to-do above about the AMA), and didn't like VIERS.

Was surprised to read that only @chefwen seems to have wanted adOPTS for COOPTS at 8A (takes as one's own). But, thinkz me, what could 'd*E to Billie Joe' be???

It didn't help that I read 21A (shed tears) as in the past tense, so had Wept instead of WEEP for a while.

To me, Stella d'Oro is a beautiful daylily.

@North Beach: I had to look. Very funny. I looked at the routine before I looked at the real ad, and that's the way to go. But I will try to block all that from my mind come spring.

captcha: psivi... Greek Fiction?

Dirigonzo 10:07 PM  

@Red - You're right of course, the "zone" throws it off. How about TWI-Light Time, reminiscent of the old song recorded by the Platters, Willie Nelson, and lots of others? Or Maybe just TWI-time?

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