Actor's order to sock NBA legend / WED 6-20-12 / Withdrawn apple spray / Writer-turned-Utah carpenter / Greek gathering spot of old / Controls prison guard like pop singer / Saturday morning cartoon dog informally

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Spoonerisms of famous names — wacky phrases clued as something having to do with the people whose names are being spoonerized

Word of the Day: Jack Warden (whence the phrase WHACK JORDAN) —
Jack Warden (September 18, 1920 – July 19, 2006) was an American character actor. [...] Warden had his first credited film role in The Man with My Face in 1951, and in 1952 he began a three-year role in the television series Mr. Peepers. After a role as a sympathetic corporal in From Here to Eternity, Warden's breakthrough film role was his performance as Juror No. 7, a salesman who wants a quick decision in a murder case, in 12 Angry Men.

Warden guest-starred on many television series over the years, including two episodes of Barton MacLane's The Outlaws on NBC in 1960, The Fugitive, and later on Marilyn Maxwell's Bus Stop on ABC. He received a supporting actor Emmy Award for his performance as Chicago Bearscoach George Halas in Brian's Song, and was twice nominated for his starring role in the 1980s comedy series, Crazy Like a Fox.
Warden was nominated for Academy Awards as Best Supporting Actor for his performances in Shampoo and Heaven Can Wait. He also had notable roles in All the President's Men...And Justice for AllBeing ThereUsed Cars (in which he played a celebrated dual role), The Verdict,Problem Child and its sequel, as well as While You Were SleepingGuilty as Sin and the Norm Macdonald comedy Dirty Work.
Warden appeared in over one hundred movies, typically playing gruff cops, sports coaches, trusted friends or similar roles, during a career which spanned six decades. His last film was The Replacements in 2000, opposite Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves. [he was also in one episode of "Bewitched" playing a character called "Rex Barker"] (wikipedia)
• • •

No idea what was going on at first, as the name Jack Warden is pretty meaningless to me (though I've clearly seen his face a lot, it turns out). Also, I say the "wh" in "whack" differently than I say the "W" in "Warden," so the Spoonerism doesn't quite work. Then there's the apparent back-to-back Chicago Bulls answers ... but POTTY SKIPPIN' got me the theme, and from there on, the fight was pretty normal. I have real trouble doing spoonerisms on the fly, so figuring out the names was not instinctive to me at all. Thankfully, the fill was all very gettable and non-strange, so despite the mental gymnastics I had to do to make the theme answers come out, I actually came in just under my normal time. I am quite impressed at how smooth the fill is, especially considering that several Downs (four, to be exact) have to run through 3 theme answers (this can be very limiting—I will avoid running fill through 3 themes if at all possible just because it can send the level of difficulty, construction-wise, through the roof; really pens you in). Just a couple of issues with the theme answers. First, the apostrophe is misplaced in the clue for POTTY SKIPPIN'—SKIPPIN' is parallel with "avoiding," not "trainin'." Second, I can think of a much, Much better clue for MORMON NAILER. True, it's probably unusable, but it's the clue that answer really wants. The clue it's begging for.

Didn't know COALERS was a thing (44D: Some fuel transporters), and had an inexplicably tough time coming up with both OSCAR (14A: Reason for a February thank-you speech) and HOBBLE (47D: Walk haltingly) (issues with the latter being somewhat more explicable, as I generally think of HOBBLE as a verb meaning "to injure"). Cute theme, smooth fill overall, nothing terribly clunky. A fine Wednesday.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Actor's order to sock an N.B.A. legend? (WHACK JORDAN)
  • 24A: Teammate of the 17-Across legend avoiding toilet trainin' (POTTY SKIPPIN')
  • 33A: Old comic actor's Little Bighorn headline? (CUSTER BEATEN) — OK, admittedly these clues are fantastically nonsensical...
  • 43A: Theaten a classic comedienne like a talk-show host? (MENACE DILLER) — I forgot that Dennis Miller was ever a "talk-show host"
  • 51A: Writer-turned-Utah carpenter? (MORMON NAILER)
  • 62A: Controls a prison guard like a pop singer? (TAMES JAILER)
  • 20A: Julian Assange posting (LEAK) — I feel like I just read that he is seeking asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy? Or did I dream that? Nope, it's real.
  • 28A: Saturday morning cartoon dog, informally (SCOOB) — second appearance in just the past couple months. For some reason, his last appearance befuddled a lot of readers (i.e. Lots of people were googling his clue).
  • 57A: "Copernican revolution" philosopher (KANT) — philosopher, "K," KANT. That was how my brain processed that clue and got the answer (instantly).
  • 7D: Kneeler's words ("MARRY ME") — Wanted some version of "My lord..." I can think of other [Kneeler's words] ...

[#1 the day I was born]
  • 58D: Withdrawn apple spray (ALAR) — common crossword answer, though somehow this clue makes ALAR sound quite benign, as if "apple spray" were some kind of household product, or even a taste treat, as opposed to a crop spray (a growth regulator, it turns out, and not a pesticide, as I had assumed all along).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:10 AM  

Kinda convoluted but interesting.  Medium for me. 

LLD for LLB which LBJ fixed.

No real problem crosses.

I liked it (except for COALERS) because, as Rex noted, the theme took some ferreting.  Plus, the answers were pretty zippy. Nice Wed. and easier for me than yesterday's.

Tobias Duncan 12:10 AM  

Too much rage to comment today.Perhaps in the morning.

Johnson 12:11 AM  

So, I'm sailing through this sucker - Jack Warden, no problems. Scottie Pippin, Buster Keaton, Norman Mailer, James Taylor all just tripped off my tongue. I looked back and said to myself, wow, they all skew pretty old. Then I realized my body skews old. Seriously, major parts are askew, nowhere near where they originally started. Symmetry has failed, pieces just aren't where they belong.

LeBron 12:13 AM  

@Tobias - May we assume that your rage has nothing to do with Michael Westbrook's hair brained play in the waning seconds of game 4?

pk 12:47 AM  

Lively skip thru the park for me. Knew the theme was *something* about switcheroos with first letters of names, but it didn't slow me down much (certainly didn't help!) - thought 17A was going to be "Whack Shaq," but that didn't fit. Was so astonished to see Rex's pic of Jack Warden, whose name was completely unknown to me but who we have all seen in so many movies. That is so cool that he made it into a *spoonerism* NYT puzz. I don't know if he would be proud or not, but I am, in memory of him.

As far as the apostrophe being misplaced in the clue for 24A, my normal reaction to this comment would be that it is beyond the pale of xworld geekdom, but having just spent the past week with USGA Rules Officials in San Fran at the Open, I can safely say that we are not alone.

Guy #1: What if the ball gets lost in a tree, but the tree is inside a TIO?

Guy #2: Are the roots inside the TIO?

Guy #1: Most of 'em are.

Guy #2: Then you get relief from the TIO. If it's reasonably certain that the ball is lost.

Me: What planet are we on?

Guy #1: Seriously, the cypress trees have swallowed up 20 balls in the past 2 days.

Me: Who knew???

Rookie 12:48 AM  

@LeBron to Tobias



Joe The Juggler 1:05 AM  

Since I never heard of Jack Worden, it took until I got the Scotty Pippin clue to figure out the theme. Then it went very fast for me.

I liked the spoonerized names that mean something else theme.

syndy 1:07 AM  

I defy to to name ONE Grimm story about an ELF.FACEIT it isn't so! that nw corner was by far the hardest and I did know JACK WARDEN's name.The MORMAN NAILER does have an OBGYN standing by!

Rube 1:26 AM  

I'm not sure what's going on here, but this is the 2nd day in a row with just one writeover, POTTYSKIPPIN/_SKIPPER. Plus, finished in what would be record time if I kept time. In retrospect, as @Johnson pointed out, there are a lot of "oldies" answers here and, as I'll point out, few pop culture answers, (e.g. NEVE & MOE). This, as the saying goes, is probably what separates the men from the boys, (or women from the girls).

Enjoyable puzzle, but no stand-out fill.

girlfriday 1:56 AM  

I really disliked this one, which is unusual since I love a good puzzle but don't really mind the bleah ones. Something about the fill that seemed super easy for a Wednesday plus the convoluted clues for the forced theme entries really grated on me.

I'm really not enjoying this trend of sacrificing quality for the sake of tricks. I do enjoy trick puzzles, but Thursday plus Sunday plus the odd weekday was enough for me. I picked up the daily puzzle a few months ago after a year or two out of the habit -- am I just behind the Times now?

travis 2:00 AM  


Evan 2:46 AM  


I have it on good authority that Tobias isn't mad about Michael Westbrook's brain-dead foul for the Oklahoma City Thunder. That authority is based on the fact that there is no Michael Westbrook on the Oklahoma City Thunder. I figured you'd know that, since you're playing defense against him, and all. Russell Westbrook, on the other hand.....

chefwen 2:49 AM  

I didn't know Jack Wordan until Rex ran the pic and that familiar face made me say "Oh yah, that guy, still didn't know his name. Scottie Pippin was also a unknown. Caught on with MORMON NAILER and TAMES JAILER. CUSTER BETON was pretty good also.

Had mixed feelings about this one.

Seven sports clues Tobias, I sensed your pain while solving.

manitou 3:02 AM  

65D: Blotter letters (LSD)

Anoa Bob 3:42 AM  

Glad to see Jack Warden (Oh yeah, that guy) get top billing in this puzzle. He was a great actor but didn't have the usual movie star appeal to make him a leading man.

As the snippet from wiki shows, he had an incredible list of credits. One that I especially liked was him with Paul Newman in "The Verdict". James Mason was memorable in that one too.

Jack Warden did star as the leading man in a 1959 Twilight Zone first season episode "The Lonely". His co-star was Jean Marsh, who went on to "Upstairs, Downstairs" fame.

This episode is available on YouTube. Just watched it again for the first time since the original. Bonus: Ted Knight has a bit part.

This episode presents an interesting twist on the prove-you're-not-a-robot challenge.

North Beach 4:30 AM  

@chefwen, @Tobias
Respectfully, I count 10 sports related clues.
I vote "like", though admittedly high on the TRS (Tobias Rage Scale).
Enjoyed seeing the return of NEVE Campbell. She used to be as ubiquitous as Mel OTT.

MaryRoseG 6:18 AM  

Always loved Jack Warden. Bumped into him years ago in a grocery store in the Hamptons. He was very tall, taller than he seemed in films and he was very sweet when I said hello to him. I was only about 20 at the time and I think he was pleased a young girl would recognize him.

Maybe I am a robot 7:39 AM  

@43A references a comedienne, so Phyllis Diller, not Dennis Miller.

Enjoyable puzzle for me today, better than average time.

Z 7:43 AM  

WHACK JORDAN? - With pleasure - the most over-hyped, over-rated athlete in my life time. His accomplishment - exposing the NBA as more WWF-style entertainment than sport. From what I hear, LeBron is now getting the Jordan treatment.

Oh - the puzzle - Enjoyed the spoonerisms. Even the 3-letter regions in the NE and SW were relatively clean. The people in the puzzle do skew old. Warden and Mailer passed away 5+ years ago, Miller's greatest days were in the last century, as were the Bulls hey day. James Taylor and Carole King's recent tour featured music as old as the songs in Monday's puzzle, Custer was making headlines before that, "Deliverance" was in the movie theaters in the early 1970's. Definitely not a puzzle for the 20-something set. I did notice that the Three Stooges answer was spruced up with a current movie clue. Not being 20-something, though, I liked the puzzle just fine.

Zed 7:45 AM  

@Maybe I'm a robot - The talk show host Dennis Miller threatening comedienne Phyllis Diller results in the spoonerism on Dennis Miller's name - MENACE DILLER.

loren muse smith 7:49 AM  

I loved this puzzle!!!!!! Two North Carolinians in the six, count’em six theme answers and (@Rube, I have to disagree) some terrific fill! HOBBLE, BRAWN, SCOOB, SOAVE, LURKING, KNAVE, FACE IT. . .

And some funny crosses – brilliant KANT crossing, well, less brilliant NEVE, French HENRI/Spanish PADRE, the BRAWN we showed at IWO, and the whole mish -mashed SW with AMORAL, ORGIES, MORMON, OBGYN . . MY MY!

@Pete – “Saturnalias.” One for your word list.

I already emailed @Tobias about today. Perhaps the clue/answer that really adds insult to injury is 6D: “have on” – SPORT!

SLIP OF THE TONGUE 15. Lots of other spoonerisms out there LURKING. Just sayin’. . .

MikeM 7:50 AM  

I am 52 and had no problem with Jack Warden. Always liked him, very recognizable face. Loved this puzzle and I thought WHACK would somehow involve Shaq. Then I got to Scottie Pippen and said "wait, Pippen didnt play for the lakers, did he?"
I was thinking along the lines of Katy Perry when I cam across "pop singer", not the great JT.

John V 8:01 AM  

Loved it, love spoonerisms! Had a bit of a catch in the West, having CUP for CUD and not seeing IDS right away (Doh.) Really pretty easy, owing to the high quality, gettable fill; kinda felt like a challenging Monday, JACK WARDEN notwithstanding (never heard of him either.)

I enjoy Alan Arbesfeld's puzzles. Spoonerism candidate: when I was a lad, my friend, Tom, always played baseball with TOMS MITT. Rexie, put that with 51A, eh?

JenCT 8:12 AM  

Took a while to figure out the theme, but I liked it.

I just knew @Tobias would be livid...

@Tobias: resistance is futile.

Wanted ARROW for 1a (first thing that comes to mind when I think of that movie), ORC to ORK, didn't know KANT, the definition of KNAVE, or COALERS.

jackj 8:18 AM  

From a tired clue for NCAA to an equally anemic clue for ALAR, we are entertained on the in-between by some Spoonerisms that cause less mental excitement than an ice cream brain freeze, (MORMONNAILER excepted).

Alan Arbesfeld has been cranking out crosswords for so long that he knows all the tricks, all the theme possibilities and how to fill a grid without breaking a sweat and does so again today, (not break a sweat).

Certainly it’s a respectable bit of work but hardly standing tall against the imaginative puzzles being offered us by Cruciverbalism’s Young Turks and so today’s is a disappointment for those of us hoping for an aggressive workout from an old pro but only getting to join in a walk around the block.

Sue McC 8:27 AM  

Ditto pk's first paragraph. Also tried to make a Phyllis DILLER thing happen. Worried at first that this was gonna be a sports themed DNF for me (NCAA, JORDAN, PIPPIN, etc.), but it turned out to be fun after all :-)

ArtLvr 8:44 AM  

MOI aussi, I thought the NYT was clever, even if the first two theme people were unfamiliar, and I also appreciated the sparkling fill. LURKING was especially apt, as the downplayed news of last night was the return home to Russia of the huge ship halted off Scotland which had been carrying attack helicopters to Syria… Kudos to our President and allies who deftly and quietly managed a potentially horrendous situation!

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Of course I knew Jack Warden and am a little surprised and greatly disappointed that @Chefwen did not. He portrayed the greatest coach in the history of the NFL George Halas (who was also the NFL’s founder) in the tear-jerker movie made for TV “Brian’s Song.” Brian Piccolo was a walk-on but Gale Sayers turned out to be a great number one draft pick. They were running backs, roommates and very close friends. Brian died from testicular cancer at the age of 26. So the puzzle has two Bulls and Papa Bear. I’m cool with that.

I suppose because of the difficulty it is not important that the spoonerisms (thank you, @Rex, for that word) are not all literally correct but phonetic in some instances. But because I am so anal (even though I do not always spellcheck) I do not like that. I also doubt that W. A. Spooner would approve.

Whack Jordan is a little eerie for reasons I will not explain here but will say it is not appropriately clued.

I liked LURKING. I’m sure @Chaos is doing just that….


Ed from Hackensack 9:08 AM  

For those unfamiliar with Jack Warden I reference Used Cars (1980) which also featured the esteem "Grandpa" Al Lewis

Pete 9:15 AM  

@Loren, @Hazel - No, No, No! Saturnalia isn't bullshit, neither is [pre/post]prandial. They've got hundreds of years of usage behind them, are evocative, and they mean something distinct. Coulrophobia has none of these, it was made up in the 1980's.

Or, by another metric, I know Saturnalia and [pre/post]prandial, whereas I didn't know coulrophobia.

One of these criteria is the deciding factor in my bullshitword list.

Shamik 9:18 AM  

Having not gotten the theme, the words that came to mind when I saw --STERBEATEN did not pass the breakfast test.

chefbea 9:29 AM  

Fun puzzle. I knew Jack Warden. Saw him many times on TV and at the movies. Hand up for Phylis Diller.

Lots of K's today (for Andrea to like) and 16 O's...not as many as yesterday.

Nakitab 9:33 AM  

Ed, I was waiting for someone to mention that Jack Warden played dual roles (brothers), in the hilarious movie Used Cars.

Jacob Grimm 9:45 AM  

No Elves, huh?

Yes, the text says dwarves, but they're elves in common parlance.

oldbizmark 9:58 AM  

I FOUND THE LOST MONDAY PUZZLE!!! "Medium?" Really? I enjoyed the puzzle but it was what I would expect from a Monday not a Wednesday.

afrogran 10:26 AM  

This was an easy one for me.

Although I only 'got' the theme at Norman Mailer, when the lightbulb finally went on above my head, the cluing was very dull.
I expect more from a Wednesday.

Masked and Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Theme answers' clues reminded me of a cryptic crossword's shtick. Made for a little extra mind explosion. Tough little puzs, this week. Rock on.

Fave fillins: SOAVE, LLB/LBJ, SCOOB. Also, anything that starts with WHACK...

Better clue for 28-A: "AGEAR or ADIVE go-with"
Re: 51-A: Ole Newt was a pretty good MORMONNAILER, during some recently entertaining primaries.
24-A: Good to see elided G's makin' a comeback.

Better clues for SOAVE...
1. Ea. St. intersector
2. She as er problems, and ___ I.
3. Urbane with a lid on it. (Hint: recall my fave letter) Too wonky? Thought so.

Masked and Anonymous 10:33 AM  

P.S. Did anyone else connect the o's in the correct order yesterday? What a picture!


Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

Somehow got through the sports junk (I hear ya Tobias) but getting the theme took too long. I was beginning to think this was going to be a technical DNF meaning I filled the grid but never got the theme. Finally it clicked so I ended on a high note.

Sparky 10:46 AM  

Had the fill on 17 and 24a but couldn't really parse them till Buster Keaton. No idea who Scotty Pippin is but that's okay. Roll with the punches @Tobias. I enjoy spoonerisms.

The stress test fine. Was told get more execise and push yourself. Fair enough.

jberg 10:50 AM  

It was OK, and a fairly quick solve, but I was bothered more than Rex by the WH in 17A. Between the change in consonantal sound and the obscurity (to me) of Mr. Warden's name, this one just didn't fit for me. It was obviously WHACK JORDAN, but it didn't lead me to the theme. And I had no idea about Scotty Pippin, so that didn't help either. So I spent too much time worrying that MORMON NAILER wasn't an anagram, until it finally clicked. For a moment I actually thought the theme had to do with adding a superluous K, so that 33A was CUSTER [K] EATEN. Not that he was - that's a little too lurid (which was my one writeover, for LUSTY.)

Well, no, I also put in Thomas Kuhn before KANT, since I don't connect Kant with Copernicus - but that would have been way too obscure, and he wasn't a philosopher.

@Jake G, I really want to believe that there is in ELF in your work somewhere, but the link you provide just leads back to the blog.

Tita 10:52 AM  

Hated this! I almost never hate puzzles.
Sure, the good fill everyone pointed out, including LURKING crossing LUSTY.

But I'm with @Tobias - way too much pop & sports (including 6d, @LMS!)

MOE? NEVE? Didn't know the law degree, nad by that time, was so annoyed, I didn't know LBJ.

Didn't like that some names were misspelled.
Didn't like that some had names, while others didn't.
Didn't like that some names were totally unknown to me, especially when misspelled! (The 1st 2 sports guys...)

DNF with TAzES_AILER, so figured it had to be a singer named TAILOR...light bulb never went off, even though I certainly know (and like) James TaYlor.

No puzzle other than that Titanic Sunday made me want to walk away.

Aaah...that was cathartic - thanks!

Tobias Duncan 10:57 AM  

I would like to thank everyone for the understanding and for the supportive emails in this difficult time.I tossed and turned all night but today is a beautiful day in Northern New Mexico. I have cancelled all my appointments and they have managed to squeeze me in for a day of destressification therapy at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

There I will receive the latest new age therapies lovingly applied by attractive hippie chicks.I am scheduled for several types of massage, a soothing mud bath and an extensive scalp peel(according to the reiki specialist, that is where I carry a lot of my sports rage).
I should be fine by the end of the week.

davidb 11:21 AM  

Definitely agree that it was a highly enjoyable puzzle.

But, I'm curious - does the NYT have a standard for maximum number of three-letter entries? I count 28 here (out of 78 total entries). That seems higher than I've ever seen.

Evan 11:23 AM  

Fun Fact of the Day #1: Scottie Pippen shares a birthday with this blog. It's true.

Fun Fact of the Day #2: I share a birthday with both Scottie Pippen and this blog. That's also true.

Matthew G. 11:39 AM  

Never knew Jack Warden by name, though like Rex I recognize his face. And basketball is the one major sport I don't like, so I couldn't come up with Scottie Pippen, although I'd heard of him once I slogged through the crosses.

The bottom two-thirds of the puzzle were awesome, though. My take on this is that it's a really great theme that, as executed, brought me personally less joy than it otherwise would have through no fault of its own: I know about as much about basketball as Tobias probably does. ;) I just can't get into that sport!

I absolutely loved CUSTER BEATEN and MORMON NAILER.

Mel Ott 11:54 AM  

Like some others I got the theme at POTTY SKIPPIN. But I did not realize that some of the answers had to be respelled to make them come out right. So I looked back at 17A and asked, "Who the hell is JACK WHORDAN?"

Jack Warden I know. Fine actor.

Greene 12:03 PM  

My only difficulty with the puzzle resulted from figuring out MORMON NAILER as the first theme answer. I naturally assumed the theme answers would also involve switching the initial letters of the first and last name of a famous person. Well, that didn't quite work out, but the spoonerisms soon declared themselves and I found the puzzle delightful.

"C'est Moi" is a deliciously humorous character song that introduces the vain and arrogant Lancelot to the world of "Camelot." The song was memorably introduced by an unknown Canadian actor named Robert Goulet in the original Broadway production of "Camelot" back in 1960. As I recall, he did pretty well for himself. Side note: the character of Lancelot was so deadly earnest that Alan Jay Lerner's script describes his face as "completely unlined, for he has never smiled." Here's Nathan Gunn in a thrilling rendition of "C'est Moi"

Carola 12:45 PM  

@ Sydny, I took up your challenge! Actually, I had doubts about ELF as well, so I went looking and found one Grimms' tale in which an “Elfe” appears. I think it’s short enough to post (my translation).

The Hand With the Knife (from Grimms Kinder- und Haus-Märchen, 1812).

Once upon a time there was a young girl who had three brothers who were their mother’s favorites, while she was neglected, snapped at, and forced to get up early every morning to go to the barren heath to dig the peat that they used for cooking and heating. Not only that, but she was given an old and dull implement to carry out this miserable task.

But the girl had an admirer, an elf who lived in a hill close to her mother’s house, and whenever she passed by the hill, he extended his hand from its rocky face, and in his hand he held a very sharp knife that had strange powers and could cut anything. With this knife she quickly cut the peat and headed home cheerfully with the required amount, and when she came to the hill, she tapped twice on the rock, and the elf extended his hand and took back the knife.

But when her mother noticed how quickly and easily she was bringing home the peat, she told the brothers that someone must be helping her, because otherwise it wouldn’t be possible. So the brothers sneaked after her and when they saw her getting the magic knife, they caught up to her and wrested it from her. Then they turned back, tapped on the rock as she had always done, and when the good elf reached out his hand, they cut it off with his very own knife. The bleeding arm withdrew into the rock, and because the elf believed that his beloved had betrayed him, after that he was never, ever seen again.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

very challenging but got it. After yesterday's junk food scene, back on track....

Jacob Grimm 1:17 PM  

One last try at posting an ELF reference

Bird 1:46 PM  

Took a while, but once the theme made itself known it was smooth sailing. A vast improvement over yesterday's 0 [zero] mess.

My only mistake was MUI crossing SUAVE as I didn't know either. Is a crossing of two fairly unkonwn foreign words a Natick?

I didn't know KITED either, but got it from the crosses (the 'I' was the only vowel that made sense).

For 54D I started with DDE (from LLD at 56A), but corrected to LBJ after getting 51A and 62A.

Happy Humpday!

chefbea 2:27 PM  

Just read in our paper today that June 22nd is national Eclair Day. Lets all celebrate!!

John V 2:33 PM  

I prefer real Clairs, not E-Clairs, please.

Thank you.

loren muse smith 2:35 PM  

@John V - Hah!

@Chefbea - did we ever definitively decide what actually goes in one?

chefbea 2:42 PM  

@loren -I think we decided that real clairs are filled with pudding or custard. I, myself prefer them filled with cream.

Lewis 2:44 PM  

I am impressed that Alan Arbesfeld was able to come up with names he did for the spoonerisms. I'm having a hard time coming up with some myself. (Maybe Dick Clark?)

Maybe that's why some of the answers were not so well known, which is a subtheme of todays comments...

Steve J 3:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 3:27 PM  

Overall, I liked this, even with also being a little slow to undo the spoonerisms. Caught the theme at CUSTERBEATEN.

Too bad this didn't appear in the Onion. Then not only could Rex have gotten his preferred cluing for MORMONNAILER, Forrest Tucker also could have appeared in the puzzle (not that I'd have any ideas on how to actually clue it, seeing as how TORREST isn't a word).

sanfranman59 3:32 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)

Wed 11:20, 11:46, 0.96, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:24, 5:53, 1.09, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

Alan may have thought of all of these himself, but CUSTER BEATEN is a classic spoonerism that I first saw in a NYT Sunday puzzle in the mid-1970s, and I think it’s even older than that. Ditto for MORMON NAILER. Shouldn't take anything away from Alan's puzzle, however - everything old is new again.

Sfingi 4:20 PM  

Spoonerisms would have been nice, if there wasn't so much (10) sports. I never heard of Jack Warden or Scotty Pippin.
DNF NW bounded by BANJO and JACKPOT. The first 3 downs were sports - blank, and my guess for Assange was mucK, as in muckrake.

Did manage to finish the rest w/o Googling, though I didn't care much since it was so sports heavy.

@ Steve J - Sophie Tucker - Toffie Sucker. Nicer image.

@DavidB - considering the "other" puzzle today had only 4.

@Carola - and how about Struwelpeter which include Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher 1845wherein a kid gets his thumbs cut off for thumb-sucking, and .. vom Suppen Kaspar where a kid who won't eat his soup dies, and ...fliegende Robert in which a kid flies away and is never seen again. No wonder they had Nazis.

Gill I. P. 4:20 PM  

I always like Alan Arbesfeld puzzles. Not only do I love his name, but he just brings a smile to this face when I try to figure out what he's up to.
Our son's name is Jordan and I send him t-shirts with something emblazoned on them that I try to invent which he never wears and ends up in his "clean - only never to grace this body - pile." I like WHACK JORDAN.
My husband is a huge fan of "spoonerisms." His favorite is Go Help Me God. Wow, the're two o's!
@chefbea and @loren - don't foget it was the Sherpa's that invented the eclair.

Gill I. P. 4:26 PM  

@JFC - Just for you...That should be "Go Help Me Sod" and of course, they're.

loren muse smith 4:56 PM  

@ Gill I.P. – my favorite of Dr. Spooner’s collections is

"You have hissed all my mystery lectures. You have tasted a whole worm. Please leave Oxford on the next town drain."

And I cannot for the life of me find the live clip, but there was a real radio blooper announcing, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States. . . HOOBERT HEEVER!” Then you hear the music “Hail to the President.” You can at least read about it here:

placematfan 5:03 PM  

Happy Summer Solstice!

Loved this puzzle. Thank you, Alan. I noticed the high 3-letter word count before I started, but didn’t even think about it while doing the puzzle. My only nit would be COALERS and ILSAS crossing LLB, but that minor flaw is completely eclipsed by the brilliance of the grid. As others have cited, I was really impressed by the number of entries (and the quality of those entries) that spanned three themers, and by the absence of clunk fill. This is one of those puzzles where I could see the time and love the constructor spent making it. If the theme idea didn’t exactly make we want to do cartwheels, its execution did. The stacked 6s in the NE and SW are awesome. A puzzle tight like this is a work of art.

The apostrophe of 24-A didn’t bother me. I think the pertinent question is, “Does ‘avoiding toilet trainin’’ equate with ‘potty skippin’’”? I think it does. The former implies colloquialization in the latter, and the answer satisfies the clue’s demand by being colloquial; to ask that the apostrophe placement be identical is, I think, superficial and hypercorrect, especially as the former is structured as Verb + Phrasal Noun while the latter is Phrasal Verb. I only recently learned the term “hypercorrect” while researching the Proper Plural of Octopus debate. And omg I am so of the aforementioned Geek Clan: not only was being able to employ “hypercorrect” exciting, getting to use the punctuation string of [’’”?] was better than my first kiss. Whatever, anyone up for some D&D?

Not a robot or geek 5:09 PM  

@placematfan - OMG you are such a GEEK. D&D? Really?

Then again I did play it freshman year, but we made it non-geekish because we had drinking rules. Good times.

mac 5:38 PM  

I liked this one, and I got the theme at Scotty Pippin, whom I only know/remember because I like his little face. The Dennis Miller/Menace Diller is great, too.

Good thing you explained, @Gill I.P., my anesthetized brain could not figure it out.

Scary heat here, but I'm staying in with my feet up on two pillows. Right leg is still completely numb from the knee down.

joho 5:52 PM  

Late to the party ... great comments!

This puzzle tickled me. BANJO at 1A was a great way to start.


Loved LURKING. A big shout out to many, I'm sure ... you should jump in.

@loren muse smith, LOL at HOOBERT HEEVER! I'd heard that before but didn't remember until your comment. Thank you.

And thank you, Alan Arbesfled, your puzzle was the best part of my not-so-hot Wednesday!

placematfan 7:06 PM  

I don’t understand all this talk of some theme entries involving respelling and some not. They all do, such that the respelling is a facet of the theme entries’ continuity, not the opposite. What am I missing?

‘Member the last episode of “Freaks and Geeks”? Freak James Franco is sentenced to join the A.V. Club, much to the dismay of its geek members, and ultimately they all end up sitting around a table playing D&D and Franco’s character Carlos the Dwarf cleans up.

Funny how kids in their basement dressing up and playing fantasy are made fun of and called geeks, while adults who do the same thing in Hollywood are paid lots of money and called movie stars. My mother refused to let me play as an adolescent; in her mind D&D was linked to vandalism and matricide. I wish I’d then been able to convey to her Einstein’s thoughts on the weight of imagination.

Gill I. P. 7:17 PM  

@mac - I gave myself a headache.
@loren- Ha!...good one. "Give three cheers for our queer old dean."

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

@placematfan - MORMAN NAILER is an example of proper spelling when you switch the M and the N. When the switch is made in the other theme answers, the speling is not correct. For example, POTTY SKIPPIN does not spell SCOTTIE PIPPIN with the switch. But SCOTTIE PIPPIN sounds like SKOTTY(?) PIPPIN.

PS. When I first wrote this I spelled spelling slepping, a Freudian spoonerism?


Test Pinecone 8:05 PM  

The inconsistency of the cluing in hinting at the spoonerisms was annoying.

For Scotty Pippen, we get "Teammate of the 17-across legend." Well, when you say Jordan Teammate, there's typically one guy. Bam.

And for Buster Keaton, we get "Old comic actor," but for Jack Warden, we get "Actor." Not only does it double up, but I just kept looking at that corner, knowing I wasn't wrong, but never having heard of a Jack Warden as I untwisted the answer.

"Talk-show host," "writer," and "pop singer" are ... well, I don't care about that being part of the clue. I know this puzzle is tough to construct, but I'd much prefer no help on the spoonerism and, maybe, four thematic names. Four spoonerized writers' or actors' names would be more fun than six that aren't connected.

Still enjoyed the fill around it, though it was pretty breezy for Wednesday.


placematfan 8:07 PM  

@JFC: The A in NORMAN becomes the second O of MORMON; that is a respelling. And MORMON NAILER is given the same phonetic maintenance as the other five theme entries.

chefwen 8:09 PM  

@JFC - Had Jack Warden played Vince Lombardi I certainly would have remembered him.

Chip Hilton 8:33 PM  

My favorite Spoonerism involving a person's name:
Former Baltimore Orioles outfielder whose name gave his occupation.

You ready?
Paul Blair, the Baul Plair.

Sparky 8:36 PM  

Happy Birthday @Evan. You did it again @Tobis. LOL. So glad you are up and puzzling @MAC.

Anonymous 8:51 PM  

@Placematfan - Thanks. Right you are. That makes me feel better. They are all bad but consistently bad.

@Chefwen - I already knew that but they would never make a movie about the Green Bay Packers. They don't have any sob stories....


JenCT 9:46 PM  

@mac: Hope you're feeling well & that you have good meds! It's a good sign that you're up & puzzling, as @Sparky said.

Sparky 9:50 PM  

Hi @Greene. So happy to see you. Thanks for the wonderful song.

Carola 9:59 PM  

@Chip Hilton - the Baul Plair...from Bawlmer! Your comment made me nostalgic for my one-time hometown.

sanfranman59 10:06 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 8:48, 6:50, 1.29, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 156 Mondays)
Tue 14:01, 8:57, 1.57, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 157 Tuesdays)
Wed 11:26, 11:47, 0.97, 45%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:47, 3:41, 1.30, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 156 Mondays)
Tue 7:05, 4:38, 1.53, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 157 Tuesdays)
Wed 6:20, 5:53, 1.08, 77%, Medium-Challenging

syndy 10:51 PM  

okay I quess there were a few elves.FINE

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

RIP Grandpa!

Ashley Garrick 11:39 PM  

Interesting, tried it and I was really like "OMG"..that was great though. :)
Ashley | Olympics 2012 London

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

This is the worst fucking piece of shit puzzle I have done in 20 years and the worst week for puzzles in 20 years.

Spacecraft 12:19 PM  

Sorry, I thought it was really clunky. Top half, I had no idea what was going on; it took me till CUSTERBEATEN to see the (?)light.

Coalers? COALERS?? You have got to be kidding. If that's a word, it damn well shouldn't be. And ONEONE is just as ridiculous.

The planet shouldn't be 3/4 of the name in the clue (Mork-->ORK). Orson's planet, or Mearth's planet would be fine.

I didn't like this one, overall. My favorite Spoonerism is the one my dear old Dad taught me:

I cositively pan't ralk tight; I six my myllables moo tuch.

Ya had to know Dad.

Solving in Seattle 2:15 PM  

Gotta love a puzzle that has MORMONNAILER on top of OBGYN crossing AMORAL and ORGIES. MYMY. Also, ROMEO, the LUSTY KNAVE, is LURKING.

A little more fun than yesterday's puzzle that looked like a spilled box of Cheerios when completed.

I'm off to pour myself some ALE that's ONTAP.

Anybody in Syndieland catch King Felix beaning Jeter, ARod and his ex-teammate Ichiro last night? Go Mariners!

Z 3:12 PM  

@Seattle Syndi Posters - I believe the actual name is "Damn Yankees." And even though I don't mind if Grandy does well, I hope he never wins a single game as long as he wears Damn Yankee pinstripes. Nevertheless, I hope the beanings were from lack of control and not intentional.

Ginger 3:35 PM  

@SIS Great Post, I'm still laughing! Watched most of the game last night. Didn't see ARod get hit, (hear his arm or wrist is broken), did see KF get Ichiro's toe, but he stayed in the game, also saw Ibanez's close call, where he landed on his a**. I seem to remember a discussion about 'Chin Music' a few weeks ago. So....will it carry over today?

Word play, puns and spoonerisms are all fun, and this puz was no exception. Really enjoyed it. I'm surprised at how many posters didn't know Jack Warden, I've enjoyed his characters for years. Notably in 'While You Were Sleeping'.

I'm quite a sports fan, tho not so much for pro basketball (A bunch of pituitary problems running aroung in their underware), but IMO Bull teammates Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin transcend their sport. MJ has been in so many Nike ads that I think most folks would know him.

Lot's of fun in this one, thank you Alan

DMGrandma 3:37 PM  

Solved this and then had to come here to see who was meant by POTTYSKIPPIN, just couldn't parse it because I never heard of the real guy. Only slowdown was hEX for VEX. but immediately realized there was no way the "h" would work in the down wine. Not particularly a fan of this type of word play, but glad that someone went to all the effort to provide me with a few minutes of brain play. As I couldn't possibly create a crossword of any type, I appreciate those who do, and wonder why others are so eager to throw bricks at them,

Solving in Seattle 5:08 PM  

@Z, definitely not intentional on Felix's part. He had control problems and Wedge pulled him after he hit ARod on a 3 and 2 count.

@Ginger, unfortunately ARod's 5th metacarpal is broken. Out for weeks.

Dirigonzo 8:09 PM  

Given the complications that the phrase MARRYME has caused for me, is it any wonder that I wanted blessME to be the kneeler's words? I had the grid all completed before I figured out the gimmick with the names.

@SiS - It will be interesting to see if ARod is "out for weeks" in puzzle terms.

@DMGrandma said: "As I couldn't possibly create a crossword of any type, I appreciate those who do, and wonder why others are so eager to throw bricks at them" - amen, amen.

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