Funky Cold Medina rapper Tone / WED 7-18-12 / Wife of Augustus / Doughboy's headgear / Gershon of Showgirls

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Constructor: David Levinson Wilk

Relative difficulty: Wednesdayish


THEME: Same-Sex Marriage — Men are brought together in gridly matrimony.

Word of the Day: PETRICHOR (Not actually in the puzzle, but it's awesome) —
Petrichor is the scent of rain on dry earth. The word is constructed from Greek, petra, meaning stone + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology. The term was coined in 1964 by two Australian researchers, Bear and Thomas, for an article in the journal Nature. In the article, the authors describe how the smell derives from an oil exuded by certain plants during dry periods, whereupon it is absorbed by clay-based soils and rocks. During rain, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin, producing the distinctive scent. (Wikipedia)
• • •

Greetings, Rextarians. The smarter half of DougKat is in the house, bringing you your daily dose of blog. Fun puzzle today. Let's get to it.

Theme answers:
  • 16A: 1864's March to the Sea? (SHERMAN MANEUVER)
  • 22A: Something once consulted before plugging in headphones? (WALKMAN MANUAL)
  • 37A: Wearing togas and saying "Ave," e.g.? (ROMAN MANNERISMS)
  • 47A: The Marshall plan, e.g.? (TRUMAN MANDATE)
  • 57A: Hot-button issue hinted at by 16-, 22-, 37- and 47-Across? (SAME-SEX MARRIAGE)
First off, I've got a confession to make. I'm a peeker. Before I start a puzzle, I always take a peek at the last theme entry to see if it provides a hint about the theme. So I had SAME-SEX MARRIAGE filled in before any of the others. I know I shouldn't peek, because it ruins the "aha moment," but I can't help myself! When I was a kid, I used to secretly slice open the wrapping on all my Christmas presents and look at them. So I had no surprises on Christmas morning. In fact, I peeked at everybody's presents. Jeez, kinda sad, isn't it?

My favorite entry/clue was ROMAN MANNERISMS. It was goofy enough to tickle my funny bone. I thought TRUMAN MANDATE was a little boring, until I realized that a MAN DATE could eventually lead to a SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. Gives that entry a little more oomph. And here's one for the ladies: The champion calf roper always used a FIRST-CLASS LASSO.

Bullets:
  • 8D: Tennis's Ivanovic (ANA) — Looks like she's getting married at 45 Down. Congratulations!
  • 10A: "Funky Cold Medina" rapper Tone ___ (LOC) — I just noticed all the names in the upper right corner. Some of you may have gotten all Naticked up. I know Tone Lōc, but he's not exactly in the rap pantheon. If you're a little older than me or a little younger than me, he might not be on your radar at all. I guess I'm in the Tone Lōc sweet spot.
  • 12D: Psychologist Jung (CARL) — Uh oh, I know people are going to put KARL here and get Tone Lōk for 10A. Actually Tone Lōk looks cooler and more rappy than Tone Lōc, so I wouldn't even count that as an error.
  • 45A: Words after count or clue (MEIN) — I know a place in Chinatown that has great clue mein.
  • 31D / 33D: Actress Thurman / Actress Rigg who played the only Bond girl to wed 007 (UMA / DIANA) — This reminds me of the time I put UMA into a puzzle with the clue [She played Emma in "The Avengers"]. Man, I got so many angry comments on that clue. Diana Rigg has some hardcore fans. To make it up to them, I've included this sexy photo from "The Avengers." Enjoy!
  • 51D: Author depicted next to a steamboat on a 2011 stamp (TWAIN) — The post office loses billions of dollars a year, right? I've got a genius idea to get them back in the black. Why not sell ad space on postage stamps? I'm sure Coke or Disney or Nike or somebody would pay to have their logos and products plastered on postage stamps. Believe me, if there were official "The Dark Knight Rises" postage stamps, I'd be in line at the post office everyday.
Signed, Doug, Factotum of CrossWorld

P.S. [from Rex]: Hey everyone. Hope you're enjoying the hard work of my substitutes while I'm in New Zealand. I'll be back on the job a week from today. In the meantime, please enjoy this article I wrote for Rock Cellar Magazine about crosswords, music, and an assortment of new books from some the best independent constructors in the business: "A Crossword Puzzle Revolution? Indie Puzzle-Makers and the Music that Moves Them" (Rock Cellar Magazine, July '12). If you enjoy it, please tell a friend. Or Friend. Or "Friend." Or many friends. Thanks to all my stand-ins, and I'll see you next week—RP

95 comments:

dmw 1:36 AM  

Ditto on NE corner, otherwise fun puzzle.

jae 1:47 AM  

I was probably one of those Rigg fans.   Nice write-up.  

Caught the MANMAN thing early and wondered what was going on.  The revealer made me smile.  So, even though the theme was pretty much it for zip, I liked it.  

Odd observation:  Mini word ladder MAIN MEIN NEIN?

Brand new clue for me for ETNA.

Easy for me (no erasures) but there were quite a few sports/pop culture names which could cause problems especially, as Doug noted, in the NE...GINA, LOC, ONEAL...  Speaking of which Sorkin's new HBO offering "The Newsroom" is some of the best TV I've seen in quite a while.  It's up there with Mad Men and Breaking Bad in my book.

Evan 2:12 AM  

Once again, I'm conflicted. Yesterday I mentioned that the Tuesday puzzle had very little theme density. This one arguably has the opposite issue -- too much theme density.

71 squares are devoted to celebrating BROmance. The theme itself is great and timely, but as Doug points out, that constricted the grid in a way that led to a lot of proper names (at least 20 of them), plus a cornucopia of other short but less-than-stellar answers to slog through like AMT, ME IN, ING, WDS, SLO, STR, ETNA, OOP, ISR, ENGR, and ILE (though the clue for the latter is nice). None of those answers were necessarily tough to suss out, but they didn't add much enjoyment or aesthetic value to what I think is a unique theme idea, and there were a lot of them to boot.

(And yes, before anyone complains, I realize that "bromance" means something different from SAME SEX MARRIAGE in contemporary slang, but work with me here for now -- I think it's a funny alternate title for the puzzle.)

It's nice to see the NYT crossword give some love to SAME SEX MARRIAGE, but I feel like pretty much all of the puzzle's sparkle comes from the theme answers and revealer at 57-Across. I make an exception for DIEU, since the clue on that one is awesome.

@Doug:

No complaints about your puzzle-solving strategy, but you peeked at all your Christmas presents first? You didn't read the ends of the books your parents gave you before you read the beginning and middle, did you? :)

Doug P 2:25 AM  

@Evan - Nope, I didn't spoil my books. :) But I couldn't resist the lure of all those mysterious presents under the tree.

Modesty Blasé 2:37 AM  

Petrichor IS a great word, you must be a Doctor Who fan, Doug.

Nice Wednesday puzzle. TRUMAN MANDATE was perfect!

MNG 3:13 AM  

It's interesting that the NYT Crossword recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel when the international community does not.
"Israel's financial centre is Tel Aviv,[18] while Jerusalem is the country's most populous city, and its capital (although not recognized internationally as such)." -- Wikipedia

Eejit 3:18 AM  

I briefly wondered if lesbians would be annoyed about being left out. They would be tough to include though, not sure what answers you could possibly have. Fun puzzle.

jae 4:16 AM  

@Eejit -- How about "First class lasso"?

Jeremy Mercer 4:34 AM  

@MNG - I agree, the Jerusalem clue is disputable as even the U.S. keeps its embassy in Tel Aviv and only a consulate in Jerusalem.

(You may remember that during the primaries, Gingrich promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem on Day 1 if elected president.)

Jeremy Mercer 4:38 AM  

@jae & Eejit

Perhaps the 'GAL' theme would work better:

King's art collection: REGAL GALLERY

Cheap Spanish boat: FRUGAL GALLEON

Authorized measurement: LEGAL GALLON

Etc. etc. etc..

jae 4:50 AM  

@Jeremy -- Perhaps I was a bit to subtle. I encourage you to reread Doug's write-up.

wordie 6:36 AM  

Yep, totally naticked in NE.

And I know it's just a crossword puzzle, but same-sex marriage can be between women, or "ladies" if you're super duper sexist.

Z 7:28 AM  

The only other theme answer I had when I dropped in SAME SEX MARRIAGE was ROMAN MANNERISMS. This made me wonder if ROMAN MANNERISMS was some sort of slang. The MAN MAN clicked after TRUMAN MANDATE.

@wordie - true, but I imagine the set of women offended by either a LASS LASS puzzle or a GAL GAL puzzle to be non-zero.

No Popes, No RRNs, no RCD (full word directions like EAST don't count), no OLAV/F, no cross birds, no obscure rivers, no random music keys. Given the plethora of short fill, LOC, BRO, ANA, and HAM seem fresher than usual.

My first thought after filling 34D from the crosses was that Tel Aviv doesn't have USA in the middle. Interesting choice of clue for that 3 letter string.

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

Loved it! Nice theme, and I beat my Weds average by over 3 minutes without even once being tempted to cheat.

Bob Snead 7:48 AM  

I counted 16 names (17 if you count Romeo), but it felt like 26.

Not sure why this bothers me, but it does.

baja 8:03 AM  

Liked it, but had to google to finish. One nit, I don't think the person who wrote the clue for Toronto transport has been there recently!

The Bard 8:04 AM  

Romeo and Juliet > Act II, scene II

ROMEO: She speaks:
O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art
As glorious to this night, being o'er my head
As is a winged messenger of heaven
Unto the white-upturned wondering eyes
Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds
And sails upon the bosom of the air.

JULIET: O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

thursdaysd 8:05 AM  

For some reason my usual iPad app wouldn't download this puzzle, and I had to use the "official" app. I hadn't realized it wouldn't automatically tell you when you finished correctly, and wasted quite a bit of time looking for a non-existent error. I even wound up googling to check my (actually correct) gueses in the annoying NE.

Count me as another one taken aback by the NYT's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Even the US has its embassy in Tel Aviv.

Otherwise, fairly smooth and nice theme.

John V 8:16 AM  

Hopelessly Naticked in the NE, as @Doug guessed. Tone LOC? Really? I had KARL @12D.

Screwed up the East, wanting PUSAN instead of Jerusalem, therefore RSK instead of ISR. Don't know AARON Sorkin.

As noted, the heavy theme density and sort of limited connectivity -- 44 blocks, way above normal, 6 cheaters -- in the corners and East and West seems to have pushed up the crosswordese: BRO,UMA,OOP, OPAL all in one heap?

So, fun theme, execution felt a bit kludgey.

GLR 8:19 AM  

@Bob Snead, what bothered me about so many of the names is that the cluing was so repetitive - Pitcher Martinez, Psychologist Jung, Actress Thurman, Lyricist Gus, etc. The clue for O'NEAL was more interesting, but probably tough for non-sports fans.

I thought the theme was fairly clever, but between the names and all the three-letter crosswordese, I didn't have much fun completing this one.

Nice writeup. Great WOTD - hoping to smell that smell today, here in parched Michigan.

joho 8:22 AM  

I really liked the theme because it was unexpected and relevant in today's world. But I was somewhat put off by all the three letter WDS in the grid ... 24 to be exact!

Like @Evan, I loved the clue for DIEU.

@Jeremy Mercer ... you should keep going with your GALGAL idea!

@Doug, Factotum of Crossworld, fantastic write up!

Thanks, David Levinson for pushing the envelope with your theme. And, of course to Will for running it.

Lindsay 8:24 AM  

RAMON Martinez? RAMON Martinez? Who is this RAMON Martinez?

Would have liked the puzzle a lot better if I hadn't plopped PEDRO in first thing.

So having screwed up the top I started again the bottom. Which, btw, isn't cheating at all. I like to increase the challenge of early-week puzzles by getting the revealer first, then seeing how many theme answers I can get with zero (or few) crosses. In this case, however, working from the bottom up let me to initially conclude (oxymoron?) that the theme was "man date" not "man man"

Also, can't believe Jung spells his name with a "C". Don't for a moment believe it. Filing a protest.

Sue McC 8:31 AM  

I knew I would like this when I saw Tone LOC pop up early on. Oh, how I loved Funky Cold Medina back in the day! Great dance tune! I enjoyed the puzzle and theme with one tiny exception. When you know every theme answer is going to have MANMAN it's just too much of a gimme. But it is only Wednesday, so I will deal with it.

orangeblossomspecial 8:54 AM  

24A Gus KAHN wrote lyrics for lots of good songs, such as "My baby just cares for me".

Paul Anka sang a tribute to 33D just before DIANA Rigg became a rage in 'The Avengers'. She was hot!

Peggy Lee recorded 45D "MANANA" in the early 50s.

Z 8:58 AM  

@Rex - Nice article. Wanted to be offended by the AARP eligible comment, but I have my card so all I'll say is that AARP members are getting younger every year.

@SueMcC - Tone Loc loving, basil and weed growing trophy wife - you are one fascinating lass....

jackj 9:04 AM  

We know from Will that he stockpiles puzzles and presumably, one reason to do so is to make sure a puzzle’s theme relates to a current event, thus making it a more meaningful exercise for the solving public (and, hopefully, more fun too).

Then one might reasonably ask why this one? Why now? Why, indeed. Well, Congressman Barney Frank, at the ripe old age of 72, recently married Jim Ready, his boyfriend for the past five years, making Barney the first sitting member of Congress to marry a member of the same sex (he had earlier made history as the first sitting member of Congress to volunteer to the world that he was gay).

The four theme pairings of MANMAN are all clever and legitimate, if playful constructs, my favorite being TRUMANMANDATE and the reveal of SAMESEXMARRIAGE may be a “hot –button issue” for some but isn’t jarring at all to most of us who live in Massachusetts.

Along the way, between GNASH and WENDT, there was some stellar cluing like the misdirect of RAMON for “Pitcher Martinez” when all Boston baseball fans will tell you there is only one pitcher named Martinez and he answers to Pedro.

But, the cleverest presentation in the puzzle forces us to think in French to suss out “L’homme upstairs” and realize it isn’t the French building SUPE we’re looking for it is the big Kahuna himself, the main man. Mon DIEU, that is clever!

Thanks, David Levinson Wilk, I hope this fun puzzle loosens up a few more minds.

dk 9:07 AM  

@Lindsey, sigh… he does spell it with a C: Carl Gustov Jung.

@doug, I use the same strategy for solving a puzzle. It is known as framing or as some cognitive psych wags put it: The whole card response.

Note to all: Next time you take a Rorschach test use the whole card in your response and denote motion or movement. You will pass as a smarty pants. Danger do not dwell on the colors.

The puzzle:

As the goose in Charlotte's web so accuraty put it:
B double O double R double I ng.

The theme fill is painfully twisted to fit the theme.

If you had to consult a manual to plug in headphones.. my guess is you would not give the whole card response.

Sherman's march was not a maneuver. It was a campaign. A campaign designed to kill and leave helpless any survivors. More a divorce than a marriage.

I suppose roman mannerisms may work but apparel is generally not a mannerism. It may be an affectation. You know: faking it.

And the Marshall plan had more to do with isolationism than marriage.

In sum, if your going to have a provocative theme it may be best if the theme fill is supportive. I suppose it could have been worse -- nope.

The rest of the fill was more Tuesday than Wednesday.

�� (one broken heart) Wednesday is my favorite puzzle day.

mac 9:16 AM  

I liked this one, although I could easily have gotten stuck in several places.

Things I didn't know but got anyway: tin hat, tram, Loc (thought it was another Def, maybe, Tone Def is a cute name, no?), Ramon (only know Pedro and Tino).

I scrambled around a bit in the North, then got Truman Mandate and Same sex marriage, which cleared up the theme. Still tried to put in woman at Roman mannerisms, but of course impossible.

Keep pushing that envelope!

Thanks, Doug, great as usual.

Pete 9:21 AM  

Post solve, I wondered how I would blog it, had I the task. In keeping with the current trend of using words not in the puzzle as the WOD, I thought I would lead with twin Words of the Day, the definition of Wacky, and the definition of Nonsensical, and contrast the two.

I found nothing Wacky about the theme entries, just forced, nonsensical word combinations. It made the solve a slog.

Mary Rose Goldberg 9:21 AM  

Baseball fanatic husband gave me Pedro which hung me out to dry for the longest time...

Loved the theme (shout out to Kevin and Joe if they read this blog)...Kevin is my crossword buddy from way back when....

Diana Rigg will always be Emma Peel to me. Check her out in a British TV film called "Mother Love.". She plays a a devoted mother (from hell). She was also great in The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries.

chefbea 9:46 AM  

Got the theme early on...without peaking!!

Wanted toque for 6 down. The pillsury doughboy does in fact wear one. If I knew how to embed I would show you.

Great write up!

Tita 9:50 AM  

My father signed the Marshall Plan for Portugal, so embarrassed that it took me a while to figure out the awkward answer.

Only error is the popular K for C in NW.

Liked the alliterative clue and answer at 6A.

@chefbea - fabulous alternative answer!

@Factotum - great write-up - esp. Clue MEIN...

Two Ponies 9:50 AM  

I'm glad you all had fun. Maybe that makes up for the pain I felt.
Wading through all the proper names just to make this work was not worth the effort.
Only bright spot was the clue for dieu. Other than that yuck.
I recently learned that in Olde English wherefore means why. If you insert that in the Bard's quote Juliet makes a lot more sense.
@ dk, Thanks for the tips. Trying to decipher these captchas every day feels like an ink blot to me.

Lonely Guy 9:59 AM  

I have no friends, or "Friends" with whom to share Rex's article.

EG in TO 9:59 AM  

@baja, as a Toronto resident I stared at the clue for TRAM for quite a while scratching my head, then decided to see if I could get some crosses to help me out. When the answer became obvious, I read it out to my better half and we both laughed our heads off.

I have lived in Toronto for over 30 years and I've never heard of any Toronto transport called a TRAM. C'mon NYT, if you're going to reference something geographcially, do your homework!!

Matthew G. 10:13 AM  

Mostly easy, but GURU/LIVIA/GINA/MANEUVER gave me fits. Had SHERMAN MANE__ER and just couldn't see MANEUVER.

GINA Gershon always messes with my head, because I'm a lawyer in NYC and there's a federal judge here named Nina Gershon. So whenever I see {____ Gershon} in a grid I talk myself out of putting GINA because I tell myself that only sounds right because I know someone with a similar name. Maybe by confessing this here I won't do it next time.

Loved the puzzle and the theme. Nice to see David Levinson Wilk's byline again -- I feel like it's been a while, and he always has the best theme ideas.

Gill I. P. 10:20 AM  

What's a four letter word for crap?
Why the question marks at the end of the theme answers? Because they make no sense?
I counted 18 proper names but there were probably more.
This puzzle felt like somebody was just sitting around thinking about a clever 15 letter topic. Hmmm, what can I do with SAMESEXMARRIAGE. Please, someone, explain how wearing a toga justifies ROMAN MANNERISMS - Huh?
Actually WALKMANMANUAL is worser.
The only thing i'll give credit for is there were three 15's (all ugly) and two 13's (just as bad)
I did like L'homme upstairs though...

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Loved the puzzle.
Loved the theme- no joke.
Loved the write-up.
Loved Tone Loc.

Arby 10:56 AM  

I had problems in the same area as Matthew G. Didn't help that I dyslexically misspelled manUEver, and bluffed NINA in for GINA, which gave me NERU as the expert.(!)

I had an early error when I confidently entered "VOLUMECONTROL" instead of "WALKMANMANUAL". Smart people check the volume control before plugging in headphones to protect their hearing, and are smart enough to know the procedure without consulting the manual.

John V 11:26 AM  

@Anonymous 10:34. Thanks for the pronunciation help on LOC. We AARPers have no idea, as @Rex noted in his on-the-spot write up.

syndy 11:29 AM  

Man oh man!thanks for the indulgence on the KARL/LOK thingie.@ Z the toga was not so much a garment as a life style-you needed a lot of help to get into it'you could only gesture with one arm -the other had to stay clamped to your side.Your elper needed to stay with you in case you needed a potty break!non romans did not have the training or the patience to wear the darn thing-therefore they were less cool!as cool as this puzzle !

jesser 11:40 AM  

Going through my emails this morning and there's one dated Tuesday from Tobias Duncan titled OH, COME ON! in which he asks that I do the puzzle and comment. Assuming he's referring to the Tuesday puzzle, I answer that I'm too late and haven't yet had time to finish the Saturday puzzle, and haven't started Sun, Mon or Tue.

I realized how pathetic that situation is, so I printed out all the puzzles from Sunday through today and resolved to at least do Tuesday's so I could see what it was he wanted me to see. THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA? Because I love Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett and Key West? That's a little flimsy, I'm thinking to myself. But I still have time before the radio shows start, so I bust out today's puzzle.

Light bulb!

And so, to appease Tobias (who I'll be seeing in Taos in two weeks, and we hope also to pal around with SantaFeFran), I am back. I have my office door closed and the blinds shut, so as to be stealthy about this.

I love the puzzle for tackling this issue in a way that I never expected. That said, knowing it's legal in New York and still illegal in New Mexico opens a mixed box of emotional Pandoras.

My ex is my ex not because we don;t love one another, but because in order to stay in the U.S. he had to marry a woman. They live in Tucson, and I wish them the best.

I also thought it was lovely that this puzzle appears on the same day the Boy Scouts of Homophobic America made the news for affirming their policy of excluding gays from membership and leadership rolls. Real progressive there, boys.

Only writeover was Wpm before WDS at 55A. I guessed right on LOC/CARL.

New Mexico love to y'all!

chefbea 12:28 PM  

@Jesser - glad your are back. We've missed you!!

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

What got me was "Gen ___" since there's a (gaming!) convention in Indy called "Gen Con" and that was the first thing that came to mind. "Xer" wasn't even on my mind as a possibility.

loren muse smith 12:51 PM  

I liked the puzzle a lot, especially SAME SEX MARRIAGE.

Cool far NW with GNASH and GASH.

I, too, had a dnf owing to the namey NE.

FWIW, Will addresses proper nouns in puzzles over at Fiend.

joho 12:57 PM  

@loren muse smith ... thanks for the heads up regarding Will's comment. Very interesting. And, I got a kick out of the fact that he used the term "Naticked!"

dk 12:58 PM  

@Jesser, make sure you get the crossword cocktail. Fran and Tobias will guide you. See if you can get the recipe.

@tita, have you seen the movie/documentary Marwencol. Your love of little villages made me think of this for you.

Walter White 12:59 PM  

Liked the puzzle although I am against same sex marriages. Nothing against gays, just a traditionalist here. And I certainly do NOT think it is a good idea to have a homosexual Scoutmaster. But again, that is just me.

The ROMANMANNERISMS irked me as well. Clumsy.

JenCT 1:40 PM  

@chefbea: Just what do you mean by "peaking?" And I also wanted Toque for 6 down.

Tone LOC definitely a gimme: "Funky Cold Medina" and "Wild Thing" used to be in heavy rotation on MTV.

Great writeup!

Deb 1:41 PM  

Enjoyed the write-up and want to offer thanks for the WOTD, Doug. I love that smell but had no idea there was a name for it.

@mac - Ha! Love "Tone Def!" I knew LOC, but have no clue why. I certainly wouldn't be able to name a single song by him. (Her?)

I'll stop there rather than take the bait WW just dangled.

Carola 1:46 PM  

I was SLO catching on to the theme - had SHERMAN, WALKMAN, ROMAN, and gerMAN (saw pretty quickly that wasn't going to work) but needed the reveal to get a grip on the second parts of each. I didn't see MAN DATE until coming here - nice!

About that Naticky thicket in the NE - luckily I knew both LIVIA and CARL so came through that corner unscathed. For those who have been sweltering lately - in her villa, Livia had a lovely subterranean room, completely frescoed with garden scenes - a cool refuge from the blistering Roman summer.

It's interesting that the hot-button issue SAME-SEX MARRIAGE has the affirmative AMEN centered over it and the refusal NEIN centered under it. Hmmm....I wonder why that ocean predator with giant jaws is swimming right under the nay-sayers....

@jesser, I appreciated your comments. My daughter and her non-spouse (Prop 8 in CA) are celebrating their anniversary this week.

JenCT 1:46 PM  

Ahh, this is what's meant by doughboy: TIN HAT

@mac: I too like TONE DEF!

chefbea 1:57 PM  

@JenCt - that was a typo..meant peeking

JFe 1:58 PM  

@jesser
@carola
Google "A Father, A Son, A Fighting Chance"

It was the Modern Love column in TNYT recently...I've never read anything more touching--so much love--on the subject.

archaeoprof 2:05 PM  

I'm here in Jerusalem, which is most assuredly Not The Capital of Israel. The US maintains two consulates in this city, one in Israeli West J'lem, and the other in Palestinian East J'lem. The embassy is in Tel Aviv, on prime beachfront property.

Glad to see Rexville alive and humming. I have missed our daily conversations. Coming home on Friday.

jesser 2:11 PM  

@JFe: Thanks, and WOW! That's a good read. I make it a point to divorce 'friends' who say they don't support same-sex marriage. I figure we can't be friends if we're not equal, and their beliefs make it clear that they think I deserve less in life than they do.

Thanks also for the welcome backs. Warms my heart. I can't promise I'll visit every day, but I'll make it a point to drop in more often. The schedule is hellish, but so is missing this community. Most of it anyway. ;-)

Masked and Anonymous 2:11 PM  

Pretty interesting discussion goin' on, about how many proper names are too many, puz-wise. The Fiendmeister says 14. The Shortzmeister doesn't like numeric limits. Gotta go with The SM on this. Not partial to lines drawn in the sand.

NE was a mighty tough corner, tho. And who are these TRIAL and GURU dudes, anyhoo?!?

Am thinking about specifying a minimum number of U's per grid...

Sparky 2:23 PM  

Kaught by KARL. Also had Walkman volume at first. I don't consider it cheating to look at bottom clues. I do Across first, then Downs, and wander all over the grid.

So glad to hear from you @Jesser. Nice write up Doug. My houseguet went to research what may be a Tuscan tulip vase. Ah, peace.

Sparky 2:28 PM  

That is house guest. Sorry.

Rookie 2:37 PM  

@JOHO.... A midwesterner, I was visiting a friend in Rhode Island last week. As we drove from Boston to her home in Wickford, an exit sign from the freeway loomed overhead. Big-as-day, it said NATICK. I got such a kick out of that! I knew the provenance of the word from this blog, but somehow this made it true! My friend wondered why I was chuckling.

Rex, interesting article. Nice that there is an attempt to provide different strokes for different folks in the xword world. Though a senior citizen, I get such a kick out of knowing a contemporary music reference. Names seem to nestle in some netherworld in my brain. Even though I may know nothing about a band, its name may have worked its way into my mind. I love how the brain works and how its tentacles glom on to bits of info without any awareness or effort on my part.

Victor in Rochester 2:47 PM  

Learned the hard way last year that in Mexico "Manana" does not mean the day after today. It simply means "not today" as well as "sometime in the future."

retired_chemist 2:48 PM  

No problems in the NE, since the downs were gimmes. Knew it was CARL Jung - saw the movie A Dangerous Method. Gloomy and Bergmanesque.

Always called it the Truman Doctrine, so MANDATE didn't spring to mind. Prof. Google apparently feels the same. SHERMAN MANEUVER feels similarly contrived.

Enjoyable anyhow. Thanks, Mr.Wilk.

fergus 2:54 PM  

Remebered seeing RAMON Martinez on a freezing night at Candlestick, so I didn't get stuck on Pedro.

Actually missed the MAN-MAN for a while, so I had some curiousity about what they were hinting at with Stereotyped (?) Maneuvers and Mannerisms on a Man Date. A true AHA moment solving from top to bottom.

Davis 2:55 PM  

Having been weaned on MTV back in its music video days, I remembered "Funky Cold Medina" quite well, even after all these years. I don't know why Tone LOC stuck with me as well, but I'm glad I was able to avoid the Carl/Karl problem thanks to my questionable upbringing.

I was also quite pleased to see George WENDT, aka "Norm!", appear in the puzzle — another delightful throwback to my youth.

Overall, I thought this was a solid puzzle — the MANMAN theme was pretty cute, there was a minimum of crosswordese or otherwise overused cluing, and I didn't feel Naticked by any of the names that were unfamiliar to me. Good Wednesday, and awesome word with "PETRICHOR" (I am in fact enjoying some PETRICHOR at this very moment, as the rain falls here).

JenCT 3:01 PM  

@chefbea: I was just teasing; I guess that didn't come through! I should've written LOL...

Tita 3:06 PM  

@dk- yes, thanks...someone in this little village of Rexville mentioned Marwencol some time back - probably around Christmas when my village was in full swing. (In fact, it might have been you!)
I watched it back then- quite remarkable, as is the story of its creator.

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

The photo is from the wrong Avengers. Diana Rigg was star of the British TV series, which has no connection whatever with the Marvel comic characters.

sanfranman59 3:50 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 10:54, 11:46, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:01, 5:53, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Carola 3:53 PM  

@JFe -
Thank you! Just wonderful.

Sfingi 4:04 PM  

Also, NE corner blotto. What do you call a block of Naticks? Actually, I didn't Google, but made 6 good guesses in this puzzle.

L'Avventura was one spooky movie. I don't think I could recommend it. In the category of Last Year at Marienbad.

Just listened to Tone LOC "singing" Wild Thing. It didn't make my heart sing. He's a guy. Completely rap, no melody. I'm 67, a grumoy old lady. Music means melody. Artists paint pictures, they don't sing. Guitars don't have to be called acoustic, bikes require leg power, etc.

Sfingi 4:07 PM  

That's grumpy.

Ulrich 4:13 PM  

..and I know a much better clue for MEIN in the context of this puzzle! And to be clear, it's not ____ Kampf!

r.alphbunker 4:15 PM  

Loved "But if you’ve ever stared down the barrel of an empty square ..." in the RP article.

@Tita
I like your idea to collect crossword solving heuristics on your blog. Will try to post ones that work for me when they happen.

Unknown 4:50 PM  

Pierre says:

very enjoyable puzzle.

I think I'm the only one today who doesn't the clue for DIEU. It's a gimme for anyone who speaks French, but if DIEU is an HOMME, then He's not God.

With all the video of DIANA Rigg avalable on YouTube,with put a picture of Scarlett Johanssen? I think the writer did that on purpose!

I like ROMAN MANNERISM, it's how frat boys behave during their parties..

Have a great day!

Pierre

Aorta Carl Mananas 5:21 PM  

Loved the MAN on MAN action!!!
Surprised by the name buildup, and even tho I knew Tone LOC (LOVED funky cold Medina and its Spanglish!!!) i would have put in K for Jung, despite having most of his books (unread!) on my shelf!

The cluing was all over the place, seemingly trying to be new and fresh at least... But hard for me, as they were long and it was coupled with my misreading at least 8 times... Esp didn't notice plural of "wordS" in MEIN clue.

Doug's writeup was fantastic and funny and thorough and another breath of fresh air. I think I'll reread and then trip over to Wordplay to get insight into the mysterious workings of our editor!

@Jeremy Mercer
Totally second @joho's suggestion to run off with your GAL idea!

@dk if i see you in Mpls next week, remind me to sit you down and go thru this puzzle line by line till you see why you could love it!!!

chefbea 5:29 PM  

@aorta carl mananas every day I try to guess what name you will post under. I was pretty close today

Aorta Carl Man

Erik 5:38 PM  

great writeup, doug. now i've got a clue mein jones.

Acme 5:41 PM  

@chefbea
Ha! You win!

@sfingi
I replied late to your yesterday comment if you're still reading...and feel less grumpy! ;).
Zero in on Tone Loc 's super fun wordplay and semi-bilingual jokes ...and the nonmusicality will seem less offputting (perhaps! )
Works for me!

Tita 7:08 PM  

@Doug P - thank you for today's WotD.
I am sitting on a deck overlooking Cape Cod Bay, after a magnificent (and long-awaited) thunderstorm.
The petrichor is dazzling!

I resolve, now that I know it has a name, to become a petrichorophile, distinguishing one from seaside from one from the woods, etc..

joho 7:44 PM  

Petrichor in parched Hamilton, Ohio, too ... thanks, Doug for the WOTD.

3 and out.

Sfingi 9:48 PM  

@Acme - I went back and read your comment. I know Rex is mainly a college prof, and I think he did a 3-credit college unit at Elmira, a max prison in NYS Corrections. He can correct that if I'm wrong.

I was full-time, main job, at Mohawk, a medium security prison in the same system, teaching GED. I was NYS certified in math, English, and literature. The main subjects everyone flunks on the GED are math and the essay. I definitely taught "to the test." So, the men tended to write short subjects and read short stories. College courses tend to go into more extensive work, both in reading and the writing.

Few NYS prisons provide college courses since NYS eliminated funds for college. Skidmore, my alma mater, holds courses at Great Meadow, and Bard holds them at Sing Sing.

Another "famous" prison teacher is Wally Lamb, who is half Sicilian.

said... 10:33 PM  

Anon @ 3:29 - You dumbass. Of course Doug knows that. He's just following Rex's fun by putting in misinformation. And you fell for it.

sanfranman59 12:07 AM  

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

Mon 6:10, 6:49, 0.90, 13%, Easy
Tue 7:35, 8:57, 0.85, 10%, Easy
Wed 11:01, 11:46, 0.94, 38%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:37, 3:41, 0.98, 45%, Medium
Tue 4:29, 4:38, 0.97, 47%, Medium
Wed 5:36, 5:53, 0.95, 41%, Medium

Acme 2:08 AM  

@sfingi
Intersting!!!
For the record (not a prison one!) I mixed up "Funky Cold Medina" with Mentirosa!!! (lyrics below, but it's Mellow Man Ace, not Ton Loc)
Then again, i mixed up Wordplay with Crossword Fiend...no wonder I couldn't find Will's remark!
Not a stellar day!

Re: NE corner
Build up of anything is a drag, be it sports, proper names or whatever..but I think crossing a rap star with LIVIA was kind of fun and classic!

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/m/mellowmanacelyrics/mentirosalyrics.html

Tarzana 11:02 AM  

Ramon is older bro of Pedro and played for the Dodgers. Excellent pitcher. Dodgers made one of the worst trades in baseball lore. Giving up Pedro for a nobody 2nd baseman.

Waxy in Montreal 1:28 PM  

@Tarzana - the Pedro trade was a great trade from an Expos perspective! Except for real baseball fanatics, methinks his bro is pretty obscure for a Wednesday puzzle, though. Pedro and Dennis were two far more famous Martinez pitchers.

Solving in Seattle 3:14 PM  

Wow, was the NE tough - last to fall. I did the puzzle from the NW to the SE and smiled when I saw the theme answer at 57A. And for the record, I'm for it.

@Retired Chemist, I believe there is a distinction between the TRUMAN Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. The former being aid to Greece and Turkey after WWII to fight communism. The latter being aid to rebuild war-torn Europe. I think Mr. Wilk, or whomever clued 47A, was taking some constructor license to make the MANMAN connection. No biggey.

@Waxy, no team can top the bad trades the Mariners have made. We could field the All-Star team with our traded players.

Dirigonzo 3:36 PM  

If I remember my Little League Baseball scorekeeping sheet correctly, "K" denotes a strikeout and it appears that David Levinson Wilk struck out the side (including me) with all the "K"s in the upper right corner of the grid. I had an otherwise perfect grid, too.

In a bit of synchronicity, my older son had a SAMESEXMARRIAGE in Germany practically on the same day as this puzzle originally appeared.

Spacecraft 7:04 PM  

I do not know what little glitch kept my post from registering; it's happened before. Not that I shared anything apocalyptic, but I did want to contribute an entry for the distaff side:

Percy BysSHE SHElley

If I misread one letter in these warped capchas, does that kill my post? If so, PLEASE HELP, I can't handle them! I AM NOT A ROBOT!!!!

DMGrandma 7:34 PM  

@Spacecraft. I just discovered that my earlier post never got posted...and after I found a Captcha I could read!

As for the puzzle, I ended with the K. Never heard of LO? So that left the corner to Mr Jung, and I figured K was more Germanic.

I'm with@singf, I like my music musical. Maybe it's generational , but I have no ear for rap and find it hard (painful?) to listen to.

Will try again to post, after sorting through the captchas until I find something I hope I can read-they seem more obscure every day.

Dirigonzo 7:56 PM  

@Spacecraft - I confess to being totally ignorant of Percy BysSHE SHElley, so I googled her and now agree that she is puzzle-worthy. But her name is 18 letters so you'll need a big grid (Sunday, maybe?) and how the heck are you going to clue her?

While I'm here, I want to encourage anyone who has an interest in SAMESEXMARRIAGE (pro or con) to follow @JFe's advice and google "A father, a son and a fighting chance" (or you can go to my blog where I posted the piece in its entireity).

Z 9:09 PM  

@Spacecraft - two strategies seem to work for people. After I post I "jump to comment form." If the captcha didn't work my post is still there and I try again. You have to do this before leaving the comment window.

Others have said that they copy their post in case it disappears, then paste it back in if the captcha fools them.

Generally speaking, the captcha complaints have increased. My current one has something that could be an "N" or a "u." I'm cycling through 3 to 8 to find one that is decipherable on a regular basis.

Spacecraft 12:22 AM  

@Diri: Shelley, though perhaps at least effeminate, was a guy. He completed the triumvir(?)ate of romantic poets along with Byron and Keats. His sister Mary was also notably published (Frankenstein).

Didn't realize examples had to be 15 or less. Sorry.

Anonyrat 2:51 AM  

Just goes to show it's not what you know, it's who you know. LOC was my first entry, even though rap albums constitute approximately 0.5% of my record collection. For anyone who cares, "Tone Loc" derives from his first name, Tony, and the fact that he was purportedly "loco" (Spanish for crazy).
On the other hand, needed every cross for AARON Sorkin and LIVIA.
Like many others, I too was left wondering where the USA is in Tel Aviv. Didn't make any sense TIL I came here.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

Unless the shenanigans in the Shelley family were even more draconian than those that shocked early 19th century England, Mary Shelley was actually Percy's wife, not his sister! From Wiki: "Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley."

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