Rapper who came to prominence as member of Wu-Tang Clan / MON 5-7-12 / Storage for fast Web page retrieval / Opiate used in cough syrup / What Dubliners call homeland / Shaggy's nickname canine friend

Monday, May 7, 2012

Constructor: Guy Tabachnick

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: The Immaterial World — theme answers contain words that are (roughly) synonyms of "apparition"

Word of the Day: GHOSTFACE KILLAH (20A: Rapper who came to prominence as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan) —

Dennis Coles (born May 9, 1970), better known by his stage name Ghostface Killah, is an American rapperand prominent member of the Wu-Tang Clan. After the group achieved breakthrough success in the aftermath of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the members went on to pursue solo careers to varying levels of success. Ghostface Killah debuted his solo-career with Ironman in 1996, which was well received by music critics. He has continued his success over the following years with critically acclaimed albums such asSupreme Clientele (2000) and Fishscale (2006). His stage name was taken from one of the characters in the 1979 kung fu film Mystery of Chessboxing.
Ghostface Killah is critically acclaimed for his loud, fast-paced flow, and his emotional stream-of-consciousness narratives containing cryptic slang and non-sequiturs. In 2006, MTV included him on their honorable mention list of The Greatest MCs of All Time, while the editors of About.com placed him on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007), praising him as "one of the most imaginative storytellers of our time." Ghostface's storytelling abilities have widely been praised, with Q magazine calling him "rap's finest storyteller." (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow. I don't know if Mr. Tabachnick is a young man, but he sure plays one on T.V. This is what easy puzzles should look like in the 21st century. Theme is very basic — phrases share words that are synonyms — but those phrases are solid and current, and the rest of the fill (and cluing!) is alive and kicking, wherever possible. AGHA and IOTA and A-RONI, like the poor, will always be with us, but when you mix them up with DOPE (as clued—53D: Extraordinary, in slang), HOOK UP (as clued—9D: Begin a tryst), CACHE (as clued—2D: Storage for fast Web page retrieval) and BALLER (45D: One playing hoops), their spoilage capacity is severely diminished. SCOOB! (1A: Shaggy's nickname for his canine friend) Ha ha, I could barely believe that was real. I mean, it was a gimme, but made sure the crosses confirmed it, one by one. I found this puzzle very easy, though it was no record, largely because I lost precious seconds staring in slack-jawed awe at how college-y the clues were. I mean that in the best possible way.

I do, however, feel for the tens of thousands of regular crossword solvers who will Never have heard of GHOSTFACE KILLAH. That's a lot of grid territory to concede to someone who is gonna be virtually unknown to (I'm just guessing here) *most* crossword solvers over 50. Just a guess. I'll be thrilled to be wrong. I've been on the other side of this musical / pop cultural equation, and it's not always pleasant. I hope that at least the sheer wackiness of the guy's name brings you at least some measure of happiness.

My kingdom for a picture of GHOSTFACE KILLAH and ARLEN SPECTER together!

Theme answers:
  • Rapper who came to prominence as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan (GHOSTFACE KILLAH) 
  • 25A: Former Republican-turned-Democratic senator from Pennsylvania (ARLEN SPECTER)
  • 43A: Form of sparring (SHADOWBOXING) — GZA (pronounced "jizzah"), another member of Wu-Tang clan, had a 1996 single called ... "Shadowboxin'"; can't make this stuff up. Well, actually, you probably could, but I'm not. (WARNING: Video contains tons of profanity)

  • 53A: Whiskey or vodka (DISTILLED SPIRIT)
  • 3D: "America's Finest News Source," with "The" ("ONION") — I would say that this, too, is youth-oriented, but I'm 42, and it's oriented right at me, so ... you're gonna have to add "middle-aged-oriented" to the mix. 
  • 41D: Opiate often used in cough syrup (CODEINE) — had some when I was a teenager, following oral surgery. Never again. Stomach ... unhappy.
  • 10D: Langauge offshoots (DIALECTS) — hmm. I never thought of them as "shooting off," but I guess that's right. I like the answer, just as I like its symmetrical counterpart, RED STATE (36D: It leans to the right)—yet another nice 21st-century answer.
  • 44D: Ukrainian port whose staircase is a setting for "The Battleship Potemkin" (ODESSA) — you had me at "Ukrainian port" (and the "O"). So much so that I never saw the whole (Long) clue until now. Some nice cinematic trivia for you. I like that the puzzle isn't just up-to-date, it's all over the map. Bobbing, weaving, SHADOWBOXING its way into my heart.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Tita 12:14 AM  

Mini--multi-faceted theme right across the top of the grid, with the rhyming and the cartoon-related SCOOB-POOH-DREW! Too cool!

This puzzle contains 2 of my favorite puzzle entries ever...
7D Words below Lincoln Memorial - fabulous redirect!
50D one might be made of bread crumbs...

Kudos Mr. Tabachnik!
(I just wish Casper had joined those other cartoon characters to represent the theme of "the OTHER side"...)

There are I think 5 rappers whose names I can conjure up for puzzles - this guy was not among them, so needed every cross.

Zipped through this fun puzzle - great start to the week.

jae 12:16 AM  

Delightful puzzle and an easy Mon. for me also. I'm over 50 and I've never heard of GHOSTFACEKILLAH (very zippy answer) so this was so pay back for all those 50's & 60's era gimmes. This was a lot of fun from SCOOB all the way to DELIA. Nice start to the week Guy T.

Unknown 12:19 AM  

I put in Ol Dirty Bastard first, then switched to GFK - and Rex I'm even older than you, so don't lose all hope! Very fun puzzle.

PurpleGuy 12:50 AM  

Agree with @Rex - this was a fun puzzle. The "K" in KILLAH was one of the last letters. Felt stupid when I realized the rapper-gang inference.
I like the position of ODESSA over REDSTATE.
ONECENT CODEINE would have the country in a "state."

Rearrange the far left side and you get BROS SWIGs DOPE. This is rather a druggy puzzle I hadn't realized before!!

Okay - RUGRATS KISSERS just did me in.

Happy Monday all.

Shanti -

Anonymous 1:37 AM  

I've never heard of Ghostface Killah (I'm 47) but got it fairly easily and loved this puzzle. Great for all the reasons Rex pointed out and then some.

pk 1:54 AM  

The PK is not about to reveal her age (or if she should happen to do so, it will be a lie.) Never heard of Ghostface Killah, but was able to suss it out nonetheless.

Was fascinated by the video Rex posted of the GK. Such a lovely message under the aegis of such an ugly name. Probably need a well-trained psychotherapist to get to the bottom of that conundrum. Or maybe our own ACME will jump in here and explain it to us. Looks like the GK is the same age as Rex.

Kind of a poignant solve. Rex is all bouncy b/c he thinks he can keep up with these young uns, but just as the Maleska era passed, so will the era of Shortz and RP. And the PK. But she's going to struggle on.

Sharon AK 2:37 AM  

Just had to tell EvilDoug I Laughed Out Really Loud at his breakfast order Sunday April 29.
(Just finished reading that days comments here in Syndi-land)

chefwen 2:48 AM  

Off to a slow start on this one as I am not up to snuff on my rappers, Dr. Dre excluded, sometimes I can't hit the mute button fast enough. Switched to the bottom and worked my way up and it suddenly turned into easy. Loved RUG RATS aka ankle biters. Does BRA have to appear in almost every puzzle?

Atria codeine michaels 3:50 AM  

Also never heard of GHOSTFACEKILLAH but i think the puzzle would have been better saved for Halloween.

Guy is one of the Brown student hipsters who have officially taken over.
Someone is feeding these puzzles directly to Will, he is under their spell, and the rest of us can stand on the sidelines screaming till we RASP about the new doublestandard about what we've been told is acceptable for a Monday, (SCOOB as 1A? DELIA as 65A?!?) and then hobble off into the sunset.
Goodbye cruel world!

exaudio 6:29 AM  

As Rex predicted, the only unknown cultural reference for this 54-y-o was Mr. Killah, but I loved seeing Shaggy, Arlen Specter and a reference to the Odessa Steps scene, because those bits of knowledge are from my real life, not just crosswords.

In high school, a friend and I saw "The Battleship Potemkin" at the Detroit Film Theatre and picked up the phrase "expansion of time through spatial manipulation" from the program notes describing the famous Odessa Steps scene. I have used that expression many times since then, even when it doesn't apply, because it just sounds so good.

John V 6:54 AM  

Here we are with an ATC hold at LGA ; from my Droid. 20a totally unknown to me, but easy crosses so ok. Under 5 on paper on the plane so pretty darn easy and fun. More later when I have a real keyboard.

mac 6:57 AM  

Really good Monday! Easy-medium for me, too, because of the kissers/Kix crossing, where I had to go through the alphabet. The rapper was easy because of the crosses. It's funny to see good old Olio in this young-feeling puzzle.

Until Andrea put me straight, I hoped the constructor was a 50/60 year old, and not one of the Brown pack.

My captcha is talking about ptimples.

Z 7:00 AM  

Such youth; ARLEN SPECTER, DELIA Ephron, EARTHA Kitt, Sam SNEAD, forty year old cartoon character SCOOBy Doo, I feel downright young again.

Sue McC 7:27 AM  

Super fun Monday for all of the reasons already mentioned. I got an unnatural amount of pleasure at SCOOB. And though I didn't know GHOSTFACEKILLAH, it went in easily enough from crosses. Great job, Mr.Constructor!

SethG 7:53 AM  

When I saw Ghostface, I laughed. Out loud.

Me likey.

joho 7:54 AM  

@Tita, you took the words right out of my mouth ..or rather my margin where I wrote them: "SCOOB, POOH, DREW ...how fun! Rhymes with SCOOBy Doo!"

These words immediately set the frothy tone throughout.

My only huh? was BALLER. Really?

I don't think @Rex has ever written such a rave review, has he?

Great puzzle, Guy, thank you!

Raúl 8:13 AM  

Graphics of the The Rise and Fall of Wu-Tang.

evil doug 8:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 8:29 AM  

evil doug said...

"Does BRA have to appear in almost every puzzle?"

I concur, chefwen. Unhook the bra from these puzzles. Burn the bra from our memories. Let bra-less freedom ring! Yea, verily, let the puzzle's cups truly runneth over! [And as to your comment yesterday: There's Doug, and there's Evil, and never the twain shall meet. It's hell---and heaven---being me(s). But I appreciate your thoughts.]

A scene from Applebee's...

"Mr. Killa, your table is ready."
"Yeah, I'm Ghostface Killah."
"Ah,sorry, Mr. Killah. I was calling for the Masta Killa party."

Thanks, Sharon AK in Syndi-land...

orangeblossomspecial 8:39 AM  

I got much of this working only the a crosses, like Rexie did in his video. But unlike Rex, I don't mind skipping around. I do 'em for fun, not speed.

Here's a song that fits 40A: "Gotta be THIS nOR THAT". Somehow, the film on this clip got reversed.

Who would guess that Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell would record 3D "TheONION song".

There's no more appropriate WASH song than "I'm gonna WASH that man right outta my hair"?

jberg 8:43 AM  

I didn't know GHOSTFACE KILLAH, but at least knew what the Wu-Tang Clan was, which was enough to give me the AH ending, and the theme helped with the GHOST. I had to run the alphabet for the C, but that didn't take long.

CODEINE is another blast from the past - you used to be able to get cough syrup with it just by signing a register, but haven't seen it in a long time. Can someone make a puzzle with dextromethorphan? That's 16, guess it'd have to be a Sunday.

I'm with Rex, fun puzzle. I especially liked the ghost of ARLEN SPECTER.

Nakitab 8:56 AM  

Can only hope that the rest of the week is as fun as this Monday puzzle. What great clueing.

quilter1 8:58 AM  

Yes, very fun. I just worked from top to bottom pretty smoothly and what I didn't know (only the rapper really) appeared. I liked everything.

jackj 9:05 AM  

While preparing to express righteous indignation (per me) or have a hissy fit (to the rest of Rex world) about BALLER, I learned that Mr. Tabachnick had simply echoed an earlier use by Caleb Rasmussen in Caleb’s July, 2011 Times puzzle.

Looking back though, my blog comment last year on Caleb’s puzzle was silent on the dreaded entry so I guess my bitching rights have been voided or at least overcome by crossword laches and fairness says, on to the puzzle.

This was a dynamite debut by Guy Tabachnick and from SCOOB to DELIA, from RUGRATS to KISSERS, there was brilliant fill, a fitting partner to a wonderful theme; a theme that at least deserves a round of “Huzzahs!” for GHOSTFACEKILLAH. I don’t know diddley about the rapper but I sure love his handle!

There are many other standout gems along the way, such as DIALECTS, SENSEI, REDSTATE, TRAIL, ONECENT, ONION (as clued) and HOOKUP, which is cleverly clued using current jargon pointing to a “tryst” not to a “tow truck”.

Thanks, Guy. Please don’t wait until the next time you Brown folks produce a suite of puzzles to share your talents with us again.

chefbea 9:13 AM  

A bit tough since I had never heard of the rapper,Delia or dope but got them from the crosses.

Use to love Kix..haven't had any in a while.

Airymom 9:15 AM  

I usually do the puzzle while I'm eating my breakfast, after my kids are off to school. It's my own personal "happy hour"...or happy 10minutes.

Today my son went in late (he's a senior, so who knows). I can't tell you how I knew "ghostfacekillah", but I did. Probably from a bad dream I once had.

My son was looking over my shoulder and was amazed that I got the answer. Thanks, Mr. Tabatchnick, I got a "shout out" from my 18 year old.

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Not too easy for a Monday, fresh, not a lot of garbage fill.

jesser 9:41 AM  

Solid puzzle, and lots of fun! If only HOOK UP and BALLEr could have been placed symmetrically, then @jackj could have had his bitchfest with justification!

I'm still around, and reading the blog each day. Things have changed (again) at work, which often keeps me from commenting. I'll leave it to others to decide whether that's a good thing. :-)

Happy Monday!

foodie 10:05 AM  

A somewhat different definition of a Monday puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:14 AM  

A hauntingly beautiful puzzle.

r.alphbunker 10:24 AM  

At this point I am used to rappers and cartoon characters that I have never heard of. The clue that surprised me the most was CACHE being clued as {Storage for fast web page retrieval}.

That is a remarkably sophisticated computer-related clue. As the digital natives start taking over the world we digital immigrants are going to have to expect more clues like this.

Some other possibilities
{Type of memory} VIRTUAL
{Interface between software and hardward} DRIVER
{Data transmittal path} BUS
{Type of loop} INFINITE

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

I feel very old after this solve.

@ jesser, Glad you're still out there.

archaeoprof 11:15 AM  

Plenty here for the older crowd: ETTA, SNEAD, EARTHA, KIX, KISSERS.

DISTILLEDSPIRIT crossing CODEINE left me woozy and lightheaded.

FearlessK 11:24 AM  

Was patting myself on the back for getting "redshift" at 36D off the RE_ , thinking those liberal ed physics courses weren't wasted, until 53A DISTILLEDSPIRITS demanded a rethinking. Enjoyed this puzzle tremendously, and I'm looking forward to more appearances from Mr. Tabachnick!

Mighty Nisden 11:32 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mighty Nisden 11:34 AM  

Enjoyed this one even though I too have never heard of GHOSTFACEKILLAH. I'm 52 and can only stomach a few rap songs. And only because my daughter tells me the ones she thinks I'll like.

Loved KIX as it was my favorite cereal growing up.

As an old golfer liked SNEAD so it had good stuff for all.

Jakarta Dan 11:34 AM  

What makes this puzzle great is Shaggy's shout "Scoob!" followed by the assorted ghosts coming out.

1A is definitely part of the theme, and in an inventive way.


JenCT 11:45 AM  

True story: I ask my Staten Island nephew if the rap music he's listening to is Wu-Tang Clan. He says, "How do you know Wu-Tang Clan??". To which I reply, "Hey, I'm hip!!!!"

GHOSTFACE KILLAH was a gimme for me - wonder if I should be worried?

Fun puzzle, no junky fill.

SWIGS, BRA, HOOKUP & NAPPED - yup, sounds college-y to me...

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

At 47, with two kids in college, this puzzle was just a sweet spot for me! Entries aimed at an "older" solver like Arlen, Eartha and Snead - easy. Clues I got from being a mom of people Guy's age, hookup and ghostface, dope and baller (known as b -baller to mine) also easy. Then all the great fill from my own lifetime - kix, scoob, filet o fish matched with a fish called wanda (which I saw in college) and the beloved pooh - the whole thing brought a smile to my kisser (i wonder if ghostface has grilles on his kisser?). Best Monday puzzle in ages, thanks Guy!

mac 11:50 AM  

Just realized we are not talking about the "theme" much, just about the great words and clues.

John V 11:56 AM  

To add and close: I am fond of saying that everything I know about pop culture I have learned from the Times puzzle. Today continues that education. I have no hope of overcoming my visceral reaction to rap/hip-hop, so this will be classroom for these subjects.

I think it is a GOOD THING to learn new words from the puzzle.

Sparky 12:07 PM  

Took me a while to see theme: GHOST, SPECTER, SHADOW and SPIRIT. Spelled SkOOB first; good clue on ONECENT; Ephron sisters fairly well known. Anything I did not find on across I found on down. Learned word SENSEI from watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You never know what will come in handy.

OISK 1:06 PM  

Slowest Monday in a very long time. I seem to be the lone dissenter, but I did not like this puzzle at all. Scoob, Ghostface, Dope (as clued) Delia, all totally unfamiliar to me, and with "onion" cache, Scoub, and Ghost all in the NW, no fun for this old guy. I don't think that the clue for "dope" is Monday appropriate, and I have never heard an athlete called a "baller." Bah.

Masked and Anonymous 1:07 PM  

@Andrea, Darlin'--Har.

@Guy dude: Smooth debut. Liked it, even tho rap is right up there with French, in my Oh No drawer. Goose that U count up, and come on back.

Lewis 1:20 PM  

And a thank you to Will for bringing in these young constructors so that puzzle content evolves gradually rather than in sudden shifts.

I'm a bit disoriented. I don't believe I've ever found RP to be so happy and... mellow!

John V 1:27 PM  

@Lewis: Could it be the codeine?

John 1:33 PM  

I'm over 50 and am a fan of rap/hip-hop so the Ghostface Killah was an easy one. It was nice to see someone more contemporary than Doris Day in a puzzle for a change ;)

retired_chemist 1:38 PM  

This puzzle does not get the love here that the rest of you are giving, but it was certainly a solid Monday. Never heard of GHOST FACE KILLAH. RICK SANTORUM also fit the length of 25A. OK, I guess he never became a Democrat but he might as well have for all the good being a Republican did him.

Hand up for puzzles going BRAless. BROless too.

SENSEI is a teacher, not just a karate teacher. Just sayin'....

Is ther not a better way to clue CIV, e.g. Western___?

Thanks, Mr. Tabachnik.

Yogeshvara 2:05 PM  

Sensei may be a teacher but I got it off the clue immediately and would have needed crosses if the clue was just teacher. Quickest solve in memory and I never heard of Ghost face either. Fun and easy. Nice Monday!

oren muse 2:06 PM  

Overall, I thought today’s puzzle was easy. However, I still have trouble recognizing the theme. It seems so obvious once I learn what it is.

I agree with Rex’s remarks about 20A GHOSTFACEMILLAH. Being 83 I had no idea who he was. I don’t like rap music….the radio is turned off and the tv is muted when it comes on. Also I wouldn’t put 3D ONION, America’s Finest News Source and 30D BROS, homies in this category. I am familiar with BROS, but not homies.

I have never heard of 45D BALLER used to refer to someone playing hoops.

I finished today’s puzzle which provided me a little more confidence after getting frustrated and throwing in the towel on Saturday’s and Sunday’s.

dk 2:08 PM  

The old me would have reveled in BALLER and BRA.

The new me finds this puzzle spiritual. What do you think Harvey?

👻👻👻 (3 Ghost faces)

oren muse 2:13 PM  

Typo....in my blog, my wife incorrectly typed "wouldn't" instead of "would put ONIONS &
BROS in this category".

Tita 2:19 PM  

With about 99.7% of sports being played with a ball, why would a basketball player be referred to as a BALLER? Just askin'...

@PurpleGuy...isn't ONECENT CODEINE the cousin of some other famous rapper?

Doc John 2:27 PM  

Hey, I was just happy to have heard of the Wu-Tang Clan!

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

@Tita - It's a little known universal fact that ball refers only to basketball. Any kid saying he's going out to play ball is going to be playing basketball.

sanfranman59 3:48 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)

Mon 6:38, 6:50, 0.97, 41%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:40, 1.01, 58%, Medium

chefbea 4:26 PM  

Went to the store a while ago and bought some Kix. Took a foto but don't know how to imbed. Any easy hints??

r.alphbunker 4:34 PM  

AFAIK you can't embed an image in a post. What you need to do is upload the image to a server and post a link to it.

r.alphbunker 4:39 PM  


chefbea 4:54 PM  

changed my profile for the day

Masked and Ghostface 5:32 PM  

Anyone else have a little more trouble breaking into the NW territory, than normal for a MonPuz? Only friend I found home there was WANDA. I had to traipse over to POOH/PAPA/PESO, just to get a full foot in the door.

Occurred to me that this puz has only six 3-letter words. And only 72 words, total. Give it tougher clues, and it could almost be yer SatPuz. Congrats to Guy & Will, for figuring out how to make it play nice with Monday solvers.


Anonymous 7:40 PM  

@Chefwen - ED forgot EIRE go BRA!


TSG 9:03 PM  

I'm 60 and this puzzle was not a problem. Ghostface killah included.

treedweller 9:18 PM  

By coincidence, today I heard a comedian talking about how a lot of 70s pop icons were on the dope. "I mean, his middle name is Dooby! Am I the only one who noticed that?"

Sfingi 9:43 PM  

Had to wait for GHOSTFACEKILLAH, for - do I say "perps" for perpendiculars instead of "crosses," this year?

Had meaNS befor PLANS

Octavian 10:31 PM  

Best Monday puzzle in years -- love the up to date references and easy-going lightness of the theme.

I am in mid-50s but due to ownership of a pair of teen-agers, Ghostface Killah and the Wu Tang Clan have been part of the household vernacular for years.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

Ghostface, Dope, Baller, Hook-Up, Codeine, Grille -- I think this was some kind of rap theme!

Parker o rings 4:18 AM  

Thanks for the puzzle.

rain forest 12:38 PM  

Solid puzzle today with a little bit for everybody. I liked the reference to Battleship Potemkin, even though the clue could merely have said Black Sea port. I recall having a cough syrup with codeine thirty years ago, and I liked it, too much. Glad they don't put it in anymore. Rap and hip-hop aren't in my bailiwick, but I like that they turn up in the puzzles.

Solving in Seattle 1:45 PM  

Fun puzzle, Guy T, with cluing that brought a smile to my KISSER.

Word in the pro golf community was that Sam SNEAD was an as***le.

@John's reference to Doris Day reminded me of Oscar Levant's quote: "I knew her before she was a virgin."

BALLER is bogus.

Capcha: gamenter. One advising a person attracted to the same gender.

Ginger 2:11 PM  

Okay, missed my wheelhouse by 40 + years. Never heard of GHOSTFACEDKILLAH, or Wu-TangClan either, so this played me like a Thursday which made it much more fun. I like it when I have to stretch the mental muscles. Crosses were fair and interesting for the most part. Had a brief hangup with ARnoldSPECTE...oops. But he corrected himself (as he tried to do politically). Love 53A liked the clue and answer too.

Good Monday workout.

DMGrandma 2:25 PM  

This one made me feel my years. I must be the only one in Rexdom who never heard of Shaggy or the rapper or how to store something for quick retrieval. So even with SWIGS, WANDA, ODESSA and SENSEI in place, I was left with some blanks on the NW. Finished the rest, but don't understand the use do DOPE, or what a "homie" is. D the only Ephron I know is Nora! Time for another cup of tea!

Dirigonzo 3:18 PM  

It was nice to have ETTA James and EARTHA Kitt sharing a puzzle.

I knew that @ACME would pronounce this a non-Monday level puzzle because as much fun as it was, a beginner probably is not going to get all the way through it, so I agree with her on that point. I happen to glance at the prime-time puzzle while I clicked on the "syndicated puzzle" button and I noticed her name as a co-constructor, so in 5 weeks we'll get to see how the Queen of Mondays does things.

I think @Rex may have mixed CODEINE and DISTILLEDSPIRITS before he wrote his review - at least that would explain his giddiness.

Waxy in Montreal 5:21 PM  

@Solving in Seattle, you're absolutely right about Sam Snead. As a teenager, saw him at the 1964 Canadian Open held near Montreal and, when dissatisfied with a poor shot he'd just made, he dropped his club on the ground, walked 50 yards down the fairway and then yelled profanities at his caddy for not having picked up the club and generally made the young man feel like sh*t. Never forgot how this so-called living legend of golf treated a fellow human being. A complete contrast to the courtly Arnold Palmer, then in his golfing prime, who was extremely pleasant throughout the round with fans, fellow-competitors and certainly his caddy.

Great Monday puzzle - like virtually everyone older than my grandkids, no clue would have helped me come up with GHOSTFACEDKILLAH but it was readily discernible from the crosses. Thanks Mr. Tabachnick.

Spacecraft 7:04 PM  

Alas, the world, as Stephen King put it so eloquently in his Dark Tower books, "has moved on." Music is dead, replaced by rap and hip-hop. I mourn its passing.

The puzzle today was fine, with a few exceptions already noted, but I hope that Mr. Killah will not "always be with us;" I ceratinly hope that the audial arts will evolve further.

Texas Solver 8:44 PM  

@SIS -- BALLER is not bogus. Very common expression with younger people. I'm in my mid-50s and I've heard it many times. Not knowing something doesn't make it bogus.

Solving in Seattle 9:25 PM  

@Texas Solver, thanks for your post. And I most certainly agree that not knowing something doesn't make it bogus. I've been going to the same gym three days a week for 30 years and the basketball court is right next to where I work out, and I share the drinking fountain with the players. I also know a number of them, both members close to my age and their sons and daughters. Just saying, I've never heard the term applied to basketball players. If I asked a woman if she was a baller I would probably get my face slapped. If I asked a guy, he might wonder if I was accusing him of being a crybaby. Out of context, the term does not in any way connote a hoopster.

The Urban Dictionary defines "Baller" as thug that has "made it" to the big time. Originally refered ball players that made it out of the streets to make millions as a pro ball player, but now is used to describe any thug that is living large.

Tex, it might be a regional thing, so maybe we're both right.

Nullifidian 3:25 AM  

This was a fun start to the week, and one of my standout moments in terms of solving time. I don't actually time myself, coming down on the "savor" side of the savor vs. speed debate, but I can tell when things are moving along at a fair clip rather than otherwise.

The ease in solving probably came from the fact that this puzzle was almost entirely aimed at my generation (I'm 32). I got GHOSTFACE KILLAH off the first three letters and ARLEN SPECTER just from the clue alone.

I liked SCOOB, CACHE, The ONION, A Fish Called WANDA, and Battleship Potemkin coming close together. The ODESSA Steps sequence is a classic movie moment.

Not only is RED STATE a nice 21st century clue, it's a great example of a kind of memetic "format war". The original colors were borrowed by association with British politics, where blue represents the Tories and red represents Labour. Dave Leip's Presidential Election Atlas still has the original color scheme of red for Dems and blue for Reps. But somewhere along the line, one news outlet flipped the colors, and now broadcasters were put in the position of having to standardize one of two mutually contradictory schemes or risk leaving viewers hopelessly confused. So they settled on the color-flipped standard and a new pair of matching phrases was born.

My two areas of difficulty in this puzzle were Sam SNEAD and DELIA Ephron. I'm lousy at sports history and I only know the latter's sister, Nora. Luckily, crosses weren't difficult to find.

Overall, this was a terrific and well-constructed puzzle—an A+ bit of work.

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