Huck Finn's father / SUN 9-30-12 / Sholem Aleichem protagonist / One-named Brazilian soccer star / One-sixth of drachma / Weavers willows / Capital of Swiss canton of Valais / ABC in Variety-speak / Wild equine

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Constructor: Elayne Cantor and Victor Fleming

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging


THEME: "Car Talk" — car-related answers, wacky non-car-related clues

Word of the Day: PELEG (12D: Genesis man who lived 239 years) —
Peleg (Hebrewפֶּלֶג / פָּלֶגModern Péleg / Páleg Tiberian Péleḡ / Pāleḡ ; "division") is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as one of the two sons of Eber, an ancestor of the Israelites, according to the "Table of Nations" in Genesis 10-11 and 1 Chronicles 1. Peleg's son was Reu, born when Peleg was thirty, and he had other sons and daughters. According to the Hebrew Bible, Peleg lived to the age of 239 years. (wikipedia)
• • •

We're into a run of not-so-great puzzles. Honestly, the last few have felt dated, stale, and seriously lacking in overall polish. Here, we just have car stuff. All the interest is in the clue, but those miss as often as not, and are often forced and awkward. Then there's the fill, which, collectively, is some of the worst I've seen on a Sunday puzzle in some time. A punishing barrage of crosswordese—or worse, often: plural crosswordese: OSIERS, ENOTES, RAYONS, NAES, LEOS, TSETSES, GRRS, OLLAS, TEHEES (!?!?!)—just painful. There's lots more non-plural junk as well, and almost nothing sparkly or thoughtful on the plus side to balance it out. I've written down "YO, DUDE," NIGHTIES, and BACK PAY as non-theme answers that I particularly like. That's it. I'm begging constructors—try harder! DEMAREST is a massive waste of an 8! You only have so many longer answers—make them count. And the short stuff doesn't have to be scintillating, but keep the truly stale and outright gag-worthy stuff to a small handful. It Can Be Done. In this day and age, what with all the tools available to constructors, and with more scrutiny than ever given to puzzles, there's just no excuse for filling puzzles in ways that are barely serviceable.  I'm looking at that KIP, PAP, ANEMO-, ADESTE, ASI, CTS corner and thinking "Why!?" Yes, BACK PAY and "YO, DUDE" (both in that corner) are good, but did they really necessitate all that dead weight? Sundays especially, being long, should have many, Many highlights. "Barely serviceable" becomes "actively abusive" in a puzzle that's 21x21.


I have a long list of the stale fill that plagues this puzzle, but I'll spare you. You can see it. You saw it. It has been SEEN by you (50D: Comprehended).

Theme answers:
  • 23A: What Katie Holmes lost in divorce court? (CRUISE CONTROL) — "lost?" I thought she wanted out. Also, "control?" That's what you have in a marriage? What kind of vaudvillean gag is this? "Take my spouse ..."
  • 28A: Commute on a crowded bus, e.g.? (REAR BUMPER) — not even sure how this works. Is the guy bumping people's REAR ends? Is he at the back of the bus? Mystifying.
  • 55A: Epiphany? (HEAD LIGHT)
  • 69A: What "Send" triggers? (AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION)
  • 80A: Legal proceeding over a meth bust? (CRANK CASE) — drug slang. Good. More of that.
  • 110A: Smell of sour milk? (TURN SIGNAL)
  • 118A: Bling-bling? (HOOD ORNAMENTS) — "Bling" (and esp. "bling-bling") is, and has been, dead. From the wikipedia entry, subheading "Mass Usage" (emph. mine):
While the specific term bling was first popularized in the hip hop community, it has spread beyond hip hop culture and into mass culture. This is similar to the meteoric rise of hip hop music itself, which has led to its most popular artists becoming mainstream pop music icons. "Bling" was added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 2002 and to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2006. Companies such as Sprint and Cadillac have used the word bling in their advertisements. During a 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade in Jacksonville, Florida, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney admired a baby decked in dress attire with gold jewelry and said, "Oh, you've got some bling-bling here."[3]
In 2004, MTV released a satirical cartoon showing the term being used first by a rapper and then by several progressively less "streetwise" characters, concluding with a middle-aged white woman describing her earrings to her elderly mother.[4] It ended with the statement, "RIPbling-bling 1997-2003." In 2005, the rapper B.G. remarked that he "just wished that he'd trademarked it"[5] so that he could have profited. Like many cases of once-exclusive vernacular that becomes mainstream, the views of the originators towards the term have changed significantly over the years. On VH1's Why You Love Hip-Hop, rapper Fat Joe stated, "rappers don't call jewelry 'bling' anymore, we just call 'em "diamonds"."
For a relatively straightforward puzzle, I found parts of it pretty hard. Specifically, the NE and SW corners, which were serious problems. At one point I wasn't sure I was going to get the NE at all. Couldn't remember how to spell DEMAREST (40A: 1946 Best Supporting Actor nominee William). No clue on EIRE (33A: "Sing of old ___ and the ancient ways": Yeats). No clue on CARB (14D: Dual-___). Never ever heard whatever meaning of ACE that clue is going for (13A: Dandy). I had FOP and then A-OK. ACE as adjective? OK, I guess so, though "dandy" doesn't feel like a very tight synonym. POTPIE, also tough (16D: Round entree). SW corner was a little easier, if only because TURN SIGNAL was understandable and gettable (where REAR BUMPER, in the NE, really really wasn't). But still—I had either BIG-TIME or BIG-DEAL or something like that before BIGGEST (90D: Number-one). No clue on SION (111D: Capital of the Swiss canton of Valais). NECK before NAPE (104A: Spot for a farm laborer's sunburn). No clue on PENN'S (100D: ___ Landing (part of Philadelphia)). ENTIRE before INTACT (97D: Whole). And SUD-for-SUR (84D: Spanish direction) meant that IN SPIRIT took a good long time to see (97A: With one's heart, if nothing else). Rest of the puzzle seemed relatively normal, difficulty-wise.


Bullets:
  • 51A: Digit in military lingo (NINER) — not the "digit" I was imagining. I was picturing a toe or finger.
  • 85A: Programming behind computer pop-ups (ADWARE) — aka The Worst Thing About The Internet (after trolls).
  • 109A: Potentially slanderous remark (LIE) — I had DIS.
  • 123A: Wild equine of ASIA (ONAGER) — crossworld's biggest ass. Anagram of "orange." Always makes me think of Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin," for some reason.
  • 126A: ABC, e.g., in Variety-speak (NET) — neglected the "e.g." which had me thinking of ABC specifically. I knew CBS was "the Eye," but ABC ... eluded me.
  • 2D: One-named Brazilian soccer star (ADRIANO) — I don't know this guy. RONALDINHO I know.
  • 55D: ___ bar (HEATH) — Ugh. Lowercase "bar" made me doubt it til the bitter end, but I guess the bar is just called HEATH, so "bar" would be lowercase. Still, ugh on this clue.
  • 70D: One-sixth of a drachma (OBOL) — if I had to nominate, say, five crossword answers for Most Quintessential Crosswordese, this would almost surely make the slate. The clue reads like a parody of itself. Sounds like every pop culture representation of crosswords ever. Movies and TV shows always imagine crosswords as reservoirs of exotic and/or obscure words. In "Someone to Watch Over Me" (1987), for instance, Mimi Rogers (speaking of ex-Mrs. Cruises) impresses her bodyguard when he asks for help with his crossword and she comes up with the answer: URDU. And I thought: Of course. Of course it's URDU. Had to be something four letters long and foreign, right? But at least URDU has the virtue of being spoken by millions and millions of people, whereas no one currently living has ever spent an OBOL
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

68 comments:

syndy 12:34 AM  

"Gag inducing" was My discription exactly!It went from dead stale to really putrid(yes "REAR BUMPER" I'm talking about you!)However EIRE was a gimmee,YEATS? and I think they were trying tp refer to the gossip that Mr Cruise is uber controlling.SION sure why not

Anonymous 12:38 AM  

The first tribute puzzle honoring the demise of a radio show in history! Car Talk (tm) is deceased as of Oct 2012.

The Bard 12:40 AM  

Othello > Act I, scene I

IAGO: Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city,
In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man,
I know my price, I am worth no worse a place:
But he; as loving his own pride and purposes,
Evades them, with a bombast circumstance
Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war;
And, in conclusion,
Nonsuits my mediators; for, 'Certes,' says he,
'I have already chose my officer.'
And what was he?
Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife;
That never set a squadron in the field,
Nor the division of a battle knows
More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,
Wherein the toged consuls can propose
As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,
Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:
And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof
At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds
Christian and heathen, must be be-lee'd and calm'd
By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster,
He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,
And I--God bless the mark!--his Moorship's ancient.

RODERIGO: By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman.

IAGO: Why, there's no remedy; 'tis the curse of service,
Preferment goes by letter and affection,
And not by old gradation, where each second
Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge yourself,
Whether I in any just term am affined
To love the Moor.

RODERIGO: I would not follow him then.

IAGO: O, sir, content you;
I follow him to serve my turn upon him:
We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark
Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave,
That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,
Wears out his time, much like his master's ass,
For nought but provender, and when he's old, cashier'd:
Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are
Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
Do well thrive by them and when they have lined
their coats
Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul;
And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir,
It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, 'tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

Evan 12:44 AM  

I found this remarkably easy except for that northeast corner -- that was death. No idea who PELEG or William DEMAREST was; it's always annoying to figure out if a four-letter answer for Ireland is going to be EIRE or ERIN; I also had FOP before ACE (and thus PUCE before ECRU); and I had no help trying to figure out if 16-Across was POS or NEG. Finally getting REAR BUMPER (don't we usually just call it a bumper?) broke it open for me, but it was a real struggle up there.

Perhaps adding to Rex's frustration with the fill is that there's relatively little theme density -- only seven theme answers encompassing 85 squares. On a Sunday, I'm accustomed to maybe 8 or 9 theme answers taking up 100+ squares. I'm on record as saying that more theme is not necessarily better because that might compromise the fill. But the less theme you've got, the more reason that the rest of your fill has to shine. I think it's both good and bad in certain places, but I'll leave it to others to say if they think the fill is sparkly.

The theme itself is perfectly fine and I'd add THE GAP, GOOGLE, BAG IT, and ON SCREEN as good non-theme answers. And Rex's points about Katie Holmes's divorce and bling notwithstanding, I still found the clues for CRUISE CONTROL and HOOD ORNAMENTS to be pretty funny. But I really don't wanna see LAMES or the singular form as a verb again (Damn it, I really lamed myself this time!).

Last thing: Is there any reason why there's a cheater square right below the I of CRUISE CONTROL? Seems to me that could be removed. Put in an S at that square and you've got KIPS/AS IS, and in the corresponding spot in the southeast, you could do LIST/LEON.

chefwen 2:48 AM  

Had a dinner party tonight and they are all out on the Lanai right now fighting about politics, which is why I am in here reading the blog. It's either join them and lose it, or separate myself from the fracas, I chose the latter. They are getting out of CONTROL and getting getting CRANKy and ERRATIC.

That nonsense aside, I like the puzzle more than our leader. The NE was my last to finish, had the most trouble with 21A which is crazy because I am.

Good one Elayne Cantor and Victor, time consuming but enjoyable to me.

jae 3:20 AM  

Medium-tough for me also. Pretty much what Rex said except I'm with @Evan for the CRUISE and HOOD clues being amusing. That said, I'm also with @Evan on LAMES... no mas, por favor!

Anonymous 5:00 AM  

Had "Rear Fender," (as in someone who has to fend for his/her rear??!!) which led to "nude" for almond shade, and the NE corner was downhill from there. Was on Cruise control otherwise. Nice way to pass a calm night in the ER (working, not ailing).

Bob Snead 6:20 AM  

Not good.

Although, I would argue that DEMAREST isn't really as bad as Rex says.

paulsfo 6:46 AM  

Hmmm, contrary to Rex's opinion, I thought neither YODUDE and BACKPAY nor their clues were interesting at all.
I hated the clue for TAMER. I think fewer people have uttered that as a noun than have referred to an ENOTE(S).
Also thought the clue for GRRS was bad/pointless (i.e., doesn't help specify the answer and isn't a humorous phrase, or a phrase which is used at all, for that matter).
I did like REARBUMPER, though, asnd liked the clues for OBIT and LACTOSE.
Finally, regarding the clue for MEN, was "restroom sign" really the most interesting/funny/*something* clue they could have come up with with? If only they'd put their heads together for, say, 30 seconds.
Meh.

Brookboy 7:04 AM  

I'm with Rex on his observation that the last three Sunday puzzles have all been not-so-great. I also agree that all of them had way too much "crosswordese", which I define as obscure words with abstruse clues.

I liked all the theme clues well enough, and for whatever reason I got DEMAREST right away. Even with that, the northeast corner was a killer for me (ACE??). Had some trouble with the northwest corner as well, but kept slogging away until I finally got it done.

Now here I am waiting for next Sunday's puzzle...

Bob Snead 7:48 AM  

By the way, anyone have an issue with the HOOD ORNAMENTS clue/answer pairing?

Seems at least mildly offensive.

jberg 8:15 AM  

From the Tarmac- it was a long slog, but get table. I'll miss "Car Talk."

joho 8:24 AM  

I had a very similar solving process to @Rex especially in the SW & NE. But unlike @Rex I thought the clues for the theme answers were clever and the best part of the puzzle.

I see that BARACK has met up with the BIDENS.

And, if one SENSES CENSORS ... run!

Glimmerglass 8:40 AM  

"Bling" used to mean ornaments (jewelry) in the [neighbor]hood. Tom Cruise was a control freak; so Katie Holmes escaped (lost) that part of her life. Yes, standing on a crowded bus, one bumps people's rears.
Clever theme (I loved TURN SIGNAL), but Rex is right about the rest of it.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

my girlfriend found this easy.
I too found it difficult and not so fun.
Will we ever return to puzzles
not so heavily proper-name dominated??!!

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

Isn't dual carb also a theme answer referring to an engine with 2 carburetors?
This puzzle worked my brain hard and I was a DNF but that's what a Sunday puzzle is for: exercising those "little grey cells!"

Four wheel drive 9:19 AM  

The concept of assigning odd definitions to a group of answers that have something in common is a common enough crossword puzzle theme, and often works quite well. If the clues are enjoyable enough, they can certainly make up for awkward fill. And some of the theme answers were good, such as rear bumper and turn signal. But then:

Cruise control seems to reverse the meaning: on a car you control the cruise speed, in the marriage it was Cruise who did the controlling.

Automatic transmission is simply clued wrong. If you have to click on a Send button to trigger a transmission, the transmission is not automatic: you are manually clicking on a button to send whatever you're sending. If an email program automatically transmits all unsent messages when you quit the program, that would be an automatic transmission. But not if you use a send button. Grr.

And I'm much less happy with the use of slang when defining crank case then our blogmaster is. The clue could have really been funny with a better definition.

What I consider to be a real lost opportunity is the failure to include the names of the Car Talk brothers somewhere in the grid, Tom, ray, click and clack are all words that can easily fit into a puzzle. Would have been fun if they were hidden in the grid.

I wonder what the Magliozzi brothers think of the puzzle.

jackj 9:27 AM  

A functional puzzle from Elayne Cantor and Judge Vic, turning auto parts into bits of wordplay. Best of the bunch was TURN SIGNAL clued as “Smell of sour milk?” with “Bling-bling?” cluing HOOD ORNAMENTS, not far behind.

Some decent fill was spattered about the grid with BAG IT being my favorite and the “Bro’s greeting” for YO DUDE also in the top rank, (the only other time this was used in a Times puzzle, in 2005, it was quaintly clued as “Jiver’s greeting”), while ON SCREEN, clued as “Viewed remotely” and that old “Round entrée”, POT PIE also were plusses for the puzzle.

Vic seemed to be using a little down home Arkansas lingo when he clued GIZMOS as “Dealy-bobs” but the constructors really pushed the difficulty envelope when they included ECK, OBOL, SION, PELEG, EDEL, ADRIANO and KIP. Also, “Mozart’s Donna…” for ELVIRA seemed a bit much for a vanilla Sunday puzzle and might better have been clued as “……..Madigan” or even “………Mistress of the Dark”.

Thanks to Elayne and the Judge.

Carola 10:32 AM  
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Carola 10:37 AM  

This one got a few more GRRS than TEHEES from me. Liked the theme answers fine, especially CRUISE CONTROL and HEAD LIGHT (TURN SIGNAL was a little too much for me this early on a Sunday morning). But the rest put up just a little too much of a fight for me to enjoy finishing.

Words I know only from crosswords: OLLA, ONAGER, OBOL (which at least pairs with AGORAS today). DEMAREST I knew from a fairly recent puzzle. Oh, and now I can add PELEG.

Also found the NE difficult, did the same fumbling around as others (aok, puce, etc.) but also fouled myself up by reading "Diary tidbit" as "Dairy tidbit" (well, I do live in Wisconsin), so I was thinking something along the lines of a cheese cube.

@glimmerglass -
Thanks for your read of CRUISE CONTROL - makes a lot more sense!

captcha - "orocide" - like the murder of James Bond's girlfriend in "Goldfinger"?

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

William dema rest started in My Three Sons as Uncle Charlie, I think
As an aide I lived in Demarest , New Jersey

JFC 10:43 AM  

I really am getting tired of coming here, reading Rex's comment and agreeing with him. The clues were not particularly funny and were sometimes unpleasant (who wants to think about the smell of sour milk?). The one shining spot is that I disagree with Rex on CRUISE CONTROL. That is funny and clever, especially when considering Scientology and how Katie had to plot to escape....

JFC

Sir Hillary 10:49 AM  

DNF, as the NE corner proved too much. Not much fun getting the rest. Rex nailed the review on this one. 'Nuff said. Looking forward to Merl Reagle's contest at 3PM.

chefbea 11:25 AM  

Pretty easy puzzle. Got the theme right away.

Loved round entree!!! We had one just last week. Yummm

Joe in Montreal 11:32 AM  

is CRANK meth? Oh. Is a HEATH bar a thing? Oh. Is a TAMER a circus employee? Oh. I would have thought that was done before it got to the circus. Is TEHEE a regular form of TEEHEE? Oh. Etc.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

So, PELEG lived to the ripe old age of 239 in JEWISHYEARS. What's that in CHRISTIANYEARS?

chefbea 11:45 AM  

or in cat years???

Sandy K 11:59 AM  

Really wanted to like the puzzle and pay HOMAGE to some of the more clever answers.

eg. CRUISE CONTROL- to me that one made the most SENSE, elicited a TEHEE, and was current!

AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION and CRANKCASE were also fresh...REAR BUMPER, HEADLIGHT, TURN SIGNAL were a bit TAMER.

Agree with Rex that 118A is dated.

On the LAME side: PILINGS for Pier group? ECK! OBIT, OBOL, OLLAS...

DEMAREST taking over for the ailing Wm. Frawley as Uncle Charley on "My Three Sons" was on GOOGLE and reprinted here recently...

BARACK and BIDENS get equal time for the 2 BUSH references yesterday.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Medium-challenging is usually very challenging for me, but this wasn't so bad. Obol and Sion are neither urdu nor hindi in origin but I think belong to that other indo-european language called randomese.

Susan McConnell 12:19 PM  

From the title, I was hoping for more of a direct connection to the radio show, which I love and will miss. Husband and I were in Boston this summer and on a lark, caught "Car Talk - The Musical" in Cambridge. It was campy, and about as bad as you expect it would be. Back to the puzzle, I enjoyed most of the theme answers, but like Rex, the NE and SW corners were a bear. In the NE, I misread 18D as DAIRY tidbit waaay too many times (shred? No...). Ugh. And in the SW, I had ENTIRE for INTACT for waaay too long. That's my bad. There was some dreck in the fill, for sure....most hated by me was ENOTES, and the reappearance (much too soon) of TEHEES.

I saw Rex announce he had a Sunday useless coming up...looking forward to it!

Etan 12:21 PM  

Fyi, you have peleg, in the hebrew, spelled backwards

Susan McConnell 12:23 PM  

Omg..I don't know how spell check corrected whatever I entered as PUZZLE to come out USELESS! No subtle meaning intended!

Davis 12:59 PM  

Lots of frustration for me, very little fun. I always love the "Aha!" moments when you finally complete an entry that's been stumping you, and you wonder why you didn't see that before. While this puzzle stumped me in places, each and every completion moment was "I guess that makes sense" at best, and not even clearly correct at worst.

Far too many of the "checks" didn't really check for me. Some example moments: the ADESTE/CTS crossing: ADESTE was new to me, but I had it down to C?S at the crossing. But at this point, the check is just some random abbreviation, and so I went for CSS ("cases") with ADESSE, which looked fine to me (hey, that's two legit Latin words). Had a similar problem at the TEVYE/ELVIRA cross — I went for ELMIRA, and the cross did nothing to help there.

When I enjoy the theme I instinctively forgive and forget a puzzle's Google moments, because the theme is what sticks with me. Here, the fact that I was just frustrated and annoyed at the end (and lingering on the bad rather than the good) was a clear sign that the theme just wasn't up to the task of carrying the junk through.

Anoa Bob 1:06 PM  

"Commute on a crowded bus, e.g.?" is REAR BUMPER? Really? Are we talking frotteurism here?

Laurie 1:34 PM  

Still don't get adeste?

syndy 1:46 PM  

Adeste Fideles....(O Come all ye faithful..)is a Christmas carol.@ANOABOB yea most of the theme elements seemed a little creepy to me

Bob Kerfuffle 1:49 PM  

Adeste Fideles

e.a. 2:23 PM  

i'm with Bob Snead on this one. that clue is so ignorant it physically hurts me.

C. Ross Word 2:27 PM  

Listless Sunday puzzle. Tripped up by MUDD DEV crossing; had L instead of first D in MUDD; obviously knew neither. Overall meh!

Clark 3:51 PM  

If you've ever travelled through Valais/Wallis then you probably looked up as you passed the town of Sion, noticing the two hills rising up out of the center of the valley floor.

Airymom 4:29 PM  

Only answer I liked was 31A--Knicks venue--MSG--my daughter's initials. Back to watching football and the Orioles.

Isabella di Pesto 5:16 PM  

Did not like it. Wouln't give you two obols for it.

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

As the boys say "well you've done it again , you've wasted another hour listening to Car Talk" a statement I totally disagree with, unless they were referring to the time I spent on this miserable grid.

Lewis 6:31 PM  

@evan -- excellent analysis

@anon 11:40 -- made me laugh

As to the puzzle, I liked REARBUMPER, and cluing GOOGLE and YAHOO similarly, and somewhere in the recesses of my memory I found DEMAREST. Still SMHon that one.

Rob C 7:18 PM  

Perhaps the clue to CRUISE CONTROL should have been "What Katie Holmes escaped in divorce court?" Would have left no confusion.

@Sandy K - re: yesterday's question - I went to Brooklyn College in the late 80s and they did refer to it as the quad. However, I didn't do a lot of hanging around the school. Took early classes and left for home asap.

Michael Hanko 7:48 PM  

Why the fuss over TAMER? Isn't a lion tamer a pretty well-known member of the circus?

Anyway, this puzzle reminded me why I normally skip Sundays. A large grid has to sizzle or it starts feeling like a chore.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Since no one's brought it up, "epiphany" as the clue for HEADLIGHT seems feeble. There is an obvious option to clue with halo or nimbus, and probably other clever and less obvious possibilities. The only definition of "epiphany" that fits at all is the most colloquial one, and it doesn't even really fit. But the Wikipedia page for "Epiphany (feeling)" has a picture of a guy with post-it with a drawing of a lightbulb stuck to his head, so I guess that trumps all.

OldCarFudd 7:51 PM  

Doesn't MODEL (A and T) count as car talk? I drove my Model T 65 miles today, passing through 4 covered bridges in Parry County, PA. Also on the tour were three other Model Ts and a Model A.

Brian R. 7:56 PM  

No comment on the fact that "inure" was misspelled as "enure"? Misspelled words in puzzles drive me mad.

chefwen 9:08 PM  

@Carola - Did the same thing with dairy/diary almost to the bitter end, DOH! Former Cheesehead here. GO PACK!!!

rottweiler puppies Miami 6:50 AM  

nice video

GenJoneser 10:52 AM  

They named a college for this guy
Harry Mudd?

Tita 6:55 PM  

First day on a new job was spent on a plane to Rome. Have been completely immersed in both new company and new country, in all ways wonderful, but little time for doing the puzzle or coming here.
I miss y'all!
Managed to do this puzzle, and delighted to see so many references to Rome - a Borgia here, a Borghese there... but unable to get here to gush about it till now.

Tita 6:56 PM  

Oh - liked the puzzle, because I love cars, love Car Talk, and love Rome. And, too busy to dwell on all hte dreck.

Anonymous 9:13 PM  

Solved it with no help but had to confirm "Peleg," (thought at first it would be "Peled," which at least is a fairly common surname in Israel), "berm" (which isn't really a "side of the road" but rather a structure providing a barrier) to get "bag it." I'd like to bag this entire puzzle, not in the sense of quitting it but in the sense of trashing it; it was a lousy puzzle.

Z 9:49 PM  

Didn't do this puzzle until Monday because I was in Rockford IL playing ultimate. I ran into Seth G (who plays on a national championship team) on the fields.

The games were far better than the puzzle. I hope Saturday's is better.

nurturing 12:13 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
nurturing 12:19 PM  

@Brian R.:

"In older printed works, the spellings inure and enure occur frequently with either meaning.

Both the OED and Merriam-Webster offer enure as a variant spelling, but modern usage seems to favor inure for the sense of “habituate.”

It may be useful to reserve the spelling enure for the legal term."

I had a wonderful time doing this puzzle. No quibbles from me at all!

Spacecraft 1:13 PM  

Someone actually called BAGIT their favorite. HUH? Do you want that here or to go? OH, BAGIT. To throw in the towel?? BAGIT??? What alien world is THAT from? 100% ungettable for me, not in 239 years. Nor is that famed (?) Bible dude PELEG. Gee, one more G and he could become a pirate. Nor, in fact, was the ENTIRE NE of this puzzle!

Yes, I had 16a narrowed down to POS or NEG. Which? It was a coin toss. A really big problem is the clue for 13a: "Dandy" for ACE. Somebody explain that one to me. There must be a hundred ways to clue ACE; "dandy" is NOT one of them.

Yes, I got the long across. When you hit "Send," the feature AUTOMATICally TRANSMIts your mail to everybody you checked off; you don't have to send to each individual separately. In that sense, the clue is OK.

Other clues? Guys, many times I think you're trying too hard. Or maybe just trying to introduce a little highbrow artsy-fartsiness into our lives with "Mozart's Donna ______." None but the most serious music students will get that. There are more accessible choices for ELVIRA.

One bright spot: "Epiphany?" for HEADLIGHT. As OFL says, "More of that."

When I couldn't crack the NE, I gave up and DNF. Oh well, as a recent Xword honoree would say, "Two out of three ain't bad."

paulsfo 1:39 PM  

@Spacecraft: Dunno if you're too young or too old for this one but "(to) bag it" was common in the 60s and 70s and is still in some use. If you google "decided to bag it" you'll find lots of entries similar to this one: "The weather got significantly worse overnight and we decided to bag it for Sunday."

Dirigonzo 3:45 PM  

Weekend puzzle partner and I worked out way through the grid alternately groaning or chucking, depending on the lameness of the theme answers. By lunch time only the northeast remained mostly blank because we had settled on NEG/GOSSIP in the corner and of course we had fop as our dandy. When we finally went from being NEGative to being POSitive our whole outlook changed (POTPIE was our epiphany) and the corner fell pretty quickly - there has to be a moral about life in general to be had there somewhere.

Anonymous 6:47 PM  

CRACK is meth

CRANK is speed

Ginger 12:39 AM  

It's really late, and most likely no one will read this, but I liked it better that #31 did. Maybe because it was relatively easy. True, the fill was clunky and unispiring, but it's how I was able to get many of the theme answers. I did TEHEE at CRUISE CONTROL and TURN SIGNAL. First put in Entire at 97-D, but when INSPIRIT showed up I changed it to INToto, oops. All fixed, eventually. Liked seeing BARACK and BIDENS in the grid.

@Tita Good luck with the new job!

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cbarnert 10:49 PM  

Rex: haven't you noticed that the common cliche "meteoric rise" is nonsensical? Meteors NEVER rise--they streak through the atmosphere as they fall towards the earth.

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