Russell Myers comic strip / TUE 2-5-13 / 1964 #1 Four Seasons hit / Former M&Ms color / White-whiskered sort / Tattooed lady old tune

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Constructor: Robert A. Doll

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: LYIN'! — familiar phrases have -LY added to them, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: Hilaire BELLOC (49A: "Cautionary Tales for Children" writer) —

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (/hɨˈlɛər ˈbɛlək/French: [ilɛʁ bɛlɔk]; 27 July 1870[1] – 16 July 1953) was an Anglo-French writer and historian who became a naturalisedBritish subject in 1902. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, satirist, man of letters, and political activist. He is most notable for his Catholic faith, which had a strong impact on most of his works, and his writing collaboration with G. K. Chesterton. He was President of the Oxford Union and later MP for Salford from 1906 to 1910. He was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds, but also widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man.
His most lasting legacy is probably his verse, which encompasses cautionary tales and religious poetry. Among his best-remembered poems are "Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion" and "Matilda, who told lies and was burnt to death".
• • •

Weird. Just three theme answers? And with so thin a concept? But the resulting grid is at least interesting looking. Without all that theme material weighing you down, you can do some interesting things with grid shape (long Downs in odd positions, a jelly-donut center). But honestly, with this little theme material, there is no excuse for all this crosswordese, no excuse for having all these little pockets of dullness everywhere you look. And who *chooses* to use BELLOC? That's a completely avoidable answer—you can do lots of nice, non-proper-noun stuff with that slot, without much grid modification. Plus, the parts you'd have to modify aren't exactly gold. That little southern section, for instance. SERA ULAN ALTA ERAT DANA ... that's junktastic. Middle theme answer is weak, so this puzzle gets you two good theme answers, a couple of solid long Downs, and then ... RUT. Gotta raise the bar, especially when you aren't serving up much in the way of theme.

Overall, not tough. Only hang-ups were the author names. Hilaire BELLOC is only barely known to me (and BELLOC was utterly ungettable without "Hilaire" in the clue—I entertained BELLOW for a while...). And Richard Henry DANA? Not anyone I know (66A: Richard Henry ___, author of "Two 67-Across Before the Mast"). Otherwise, smooth sailing. Brief pause to remember which [Sea nymph] I was dealing with (wanted NAIAD, didn't fit—it's NEREID). No idea what this "old tune" about a Tattooed Lady is (28A: "___, the Tattooed Lady" (old tune) = LYDIA). I will say that the puzzle feels "old," in general. But some days are like that. I accept that. Fans of sea novels and comics people used to read may find this one charming. Not I.

Theme answers:
  • 16A: Hefty honcho? (PORTLY AUTHORITY)
  • 37A: Add just a dash of pepper? (GINGERLY SPICE)
  • 57A: Successful dieter's award? (THE NO-BELLY PRIZE)
  • 41A: 1964 #1 Four Seasons hit ("RAG DOLL") — again, old-skewing, though with some crosses I got this one readily enough (listened to a lot of "oldies" in high school ... yes, this was an "oldie" When I Was In High School).
  • 44A: Former M&M's color (TAN) — I miss TAN
  • 15D: Russell Myers comic strip ("BROOM HILDA") — took the Sunday funnies into my Comics class to talk about the graveyard that it has become (lead comic from last Sunday was written in 1966, for example). But it's not yet so much of a graveyard that it carries "BROOM HILDA."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Askhouda 12:07 AM  

Lydia is from an old comedy song. I want to say Groucho Marx?

Cross Reader 12:33 AM  

Ah yes, "Matilda, who told lies and was burnt to death". Childhood memories. Good times.

So, was the Lydia Lunch, Atomic Bongos a tie in with the Baloc whore?

PK 12:41 AM  

Thought the theme was cute and appropriate for a Tuesday. Agree with Rex on Belloc and Dana - WTH? But still pretty fun and easy.

Wish I could win the Nobelly Prize. Engine 2 diet going strong.

jae 12:43 AM  

A mildly amusing theme with a fair amount of zip...GEEZER, RAGDOLL (if you get a chance to see Jersey Boys, do it), ARRIBA... I liked it more than Rex did.  Plus a HELGA HILDA comic strip characters mini theme.

Tough cross for a Tues.: NEREID/LYDIA

syndy 1:09 AM  

@ASKHOUDA-Yup Groucho it was his Signature song! Marx Brothers "at the Circus" I liked "CUBED" otherwise..

retired_chemist 1:15 AM  

Liked it better than Rex.

BILK before SCAM @ 5A. Tried SADIE @ 21A because it rhymed. Tried OYEZ @ 36A because I thought it was a perfect fit (albeit incorrect). TARIFFS before EMBARGO @ 20A. Picked RIND instead of PEEL or ZEST @ 62A - worked. BELLO_ @ 49A suggested BELLOW (not!). EOE vs.EEO is always a problem - guessed right, easy to fix anyway if I were wrong. So, a lot to fix but straightforward crosses made it easy to.

Not a lot of joy in this one. Another Nike puzzle.

chefwen 2:03 AM  

For anyone who has been on a diet 57A was a big BELLY laugh.

Had a little trouble with BELLOC/DANA area but CUBED pulled it all together nicely.

54D always trips me up, I keep wanting to to make it ULoN instead of ULAN, I wish I knew why.

Quick and easy Tuesday, liked it.

Rube 2:18 AM  

Yep, this is an oldies puzzle: DANA, LYDIA, RAG DOLL, BROOM HILDA, HELGA, ASTA, ILSA, ALI, (GEEZER), and arguably MAHRE. BELLOC is too old & obscure for this oldie. IMAC is about the only relatively new answer and what are they, 10+ years old?

Only writeover was SANG/SAid.

Still, despite the thin theme, an enjoyable puzzle.

Arriba Cubed Mbargoes 2:46 AM  

RAGDOLL a shout out to the author RICHARD DOLL perhaps!
I accidentally left in BELLOw :( and thought D for ?ANA but left it blank. On a Tuesday! I blame D-mentia.

Took me three tries to spell HAYDEN (sh*t, I mean HAYDN...also considered HYDEN. I feel so Class-ic-less, but I got EROICA, tho it looked like a misspelled EROtiCA.

What was with SLY, CRY, TRY, PLY? I liked that!
I count at least 8 Ys!

I think without the ASTA/ILSA cross this wouldn't have felt so old.

Speaking of old, I remain technochallenged. I had how to embed on my old computer, not this one...but of course it's Groucho!!!

(And I like how LYdia echoed the LY theme!)

Groucho Marx
Lydia, The Tattooed Lady lyrics


Oh Lydia, Oh Lydia
Now have you met Lydia
Lydia the tattooed lady
She has muscles men adore-so
And a torso even more-so
Oh, Lydia, Oh Lydia
Now have you met Lydia
Lydia the queen of tattoo
On her back is the battle of Waterloo
Beside it the wreck of the Hesperus too
and proudly above waves the red white and blue
You can learn a lot from Lydia

There's Grover Walen unveilin' the Trylon
Over on the West Coast we have Treasure Island
There's Captain Spaulding exploring the Amazon
And Lady Godiva--but with her pajamas on
She can give you a view of the world in tattoo
If you step up and tell her where
Mon Paree, Kankakee, even Perth by the sea
Or of Washington crossing the Delaware.

Oh Lydia, Oh Lydia, now have you met Lydia
Lydia the queen of them all
She has a view of Niagara which nobody has
And Basin Street known as the birthplace of jazz
And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz!
You can learn a lot from Lydia!
--Lydia the queen of tattoo!

Anyway, LoveLY.

Dr. Rob 4:15 AM  

Oh Lydia, Oh Lydia, now have you met Lydia, Lydia the tattooed lady? When her muscles start relaxin' down the hill comes Andrew Jackson....

Classic Groucho.

Evan 4:51 AM  

Some other possible theme answers:

* COSTLY BENEFIT (Health insurance, e.g.?)
* DEADLY LETTER (Threatening note?)
* HARDLY KNOCKS (Taps on the door?) [this one might not work since it creates an adverb rather than an adjective]
* HOMELY BOY (No handsome devil?)
* LONELY RANGER (Kemo Sabe, when Tonto is away?)

loren muse smith 5:31 AM  

Like @chefwen, 57A made me laugh. Great answer.

I liked this conceit, but for me, it would have been a whole lot more fun/tight for all three answers to involve one’s girth. Hmm – WIGGLY, BURLY. . . nope – no traction there. There probably is no third girth word that works.

@retired_chemist. Yep – EOE/EEO is always a poser.

@chefwen, I had “ulam” and never questioned it. So I DNF with dame/ulam/alte. They all looked fine with me!

@Acme – I missed all the Y-final words, but how ‘bout CRY: HARK! EAT! ARRIBA! TRY! And we have the BETE BRAYing.

THE NO BELLY PRIZE was worth the price of admission! Thanks, Robert!

Evan 6:16 AM  


GANGLY WARFARE (Fights between thin-skinned people?)

MaryRose( 6:48 AM  

Back to the old blog format? I prefer it. Thanks.

OTD 6:55 AM  

Easy puzzle for a Tuesday. Loved the "old" fill, especially LYDIA (can still see Groucho singing it), DANA (read "Two YEARS Before the Mast" as a kid and never forgot it), BELLOC, GEEZER, and all the other good old fill.

Hungry Mother 6:56 AM  

Dana Point is a lovely sea coast town of SoCal. The book is fascinating and explains the town's name.

Leon 7:01 AM  

The author is Richard Henry Dana, Jr.

The term, "before the mast" refers to sailors' quarters, which were located in the forecastle (the ship's bow), officers' quarters being near the stern.

Thank you Classics Illustrated.

Z 7:14 AM  


We also have the Old Witch pairing of AGNES Moorehead and BROOMHILDA to add to the "newness" of the puzzle. I can now watch AGNES in all her B&W glory on the newest rerun network on cable, beside The Donna Reed Show and I Dream of Jeannie (I didn't realize there were B&W episodes).

No real issues until the junktastic section. I went with BELLOw and ASarUle. ULAN "comfirmed" my error. SLY and CUBED finally forced me to correct AS USUAL, but I was still left with a guess at the DAN-/ALT- crossing. DANo/ALTo or DANe/ALTe or DANA/ALTA? I guessed "E" so a DNF (or a FWE). This seems to be a classic Paul Rean answer.

MetaRex 7:17 AM  

The middle is kinda girth-related...

The scarily thin Posh Spice Ms. Beckham is kind of a good complement to PORTLY and NO BELLY...yep, she's not the right spice, but she and Scary are the only ones I can picture...

This was the Westport puzzle on which my table neighbor Erhard of Jeopardy! and Millionaire renown opened up air between himself and the slowerpokes like MetaRex...the THE before NOBEL PRIZE and the cluing of TRY-HIE-ENS hung me up for a while...

Mike in DC 7:33 AM  

Thanks, Arriba Cubed Mbargoes, for the Lydia lyrics. The line I remember best must have been a Groucho invention: "Oh, Lydia, oh, Lydia, that en-cy-clo-pydia . . ."

I'm not so sure that clue skewed old; it just skewed Marx. If you've seen the movie, and heard a rhyme on "encyclopedia," you remember the song.

Milford 7:39 AM  

Easy, peasy here, with the momentary hang ups in the aforementioned ULAN/ALTA section, and the BÊTE/BBB/BELLOC section. Also first wrote THiN for the beginning of THE NOBELLY PRIZE.

Thought the pepper reference to get GINGERLY SPICE was awkward, since it doesn't really add heat to food.

The sweet LYDIA song is the one Robin Williams sings to Amanda Plummer on their date in "The Fisher King".

So I guess I get the GEEZER puzzle on my birthday - seems fitting!

joho 7:44 AM  




BROOMHILDA and HELGA fighting over Jack SPRAT.

I found a lot more to like here than not.

AlSO loved the shout out with RAGDOLL.

Thanks, Richard!

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

Wish I could have sat in on your "Sunday Comics" class :)

Rob From Brooklyn Originally 8:13 AM  


HARDLY WORK (sit back and relax until 5)

Susan McConnell 8:16 AM  

Liked it marginally more than Rex, but totaLY in sync with him re: BELLOw, and the SERA ULAN ALTA ERAT DANA section.

mac 8:21 AM  

Medium for me, too, with the holdup in the Belloc area. I thought the consumer protection was food related and frays sort of confirmed it for me.

The No Belly Price takes the cake, but shouldn't.

evil doug 8:46 AM  

Gil I.P.! Richard Gere!

"Are you happy to see me, or is that a gerbil in your pocket?"


jackj 8:51 AM  

At long last, our Tuesday nightmare is over, thanks to a clever piece of work from Robert Doll who weaves LYDIA, the Tattooed Lady’s beginning LY into three phrases that cleverly resolve themselves into lively puns, one of which, THENOBELLYPRIZE, is sure to be remembered fondly by chuckling, grateful solvers for YEARS to come.

Admittedly, there is a fair dose of crossword-ese, ALI, STL, ASTA, EAT, SHH, TSO, etc. to start the puzzle, but the clever theme and some decent fill mitigate the situation and help keep things lively.

From HAYDN to Beethoven (EROICA); Hagar the Horrible’s HELGA not Andrew Wyeth’s HELGA; AMIDST (in the middle of things); SNIPEAT hovering cattily over GINGERLYSPICE and noted witch Endora, aka AGNES, swapping nose-twitches with the warty-nosed ancient, BROOMHILDA, there was some fun fill to contend with along the way.

But then there is a second round of the dreaded xword-ese, HIE, ENS, SERA, ULAN, ALTA, RAE, etc., though hard on their heels come some antidotes to those familiarities with ASUSUAL, ARRIBA, GLOOMY, GEEZER, BELLOC, (he of the lovely first name Hilaire), DISNEYLAND, EMBARGO and RAGDOLL.

And the raucous string of words sprayed around the grid shows the curious mix that was; a mix that proved good enough on balance to win some applause from this corner.

Thanks, Robert Doll for reminding us that even NY Times Tuesday puzzles can sometimes be fun!

D 8:54 AM  

Although the Dana/Alta cross is very tough for those who don't know his work, DANA wrote his Two YEARS before the Mast about a trip to ALTA California, which makes this a nice little cross for me.

John V 9:04 AM  

Liked the theme at Westport, notwithstanding only three answers.

Off to VT, thus to ski. A week of puzzle withdrawal.

chefbea 9:31 AM  

Found this difficult for a Tuesday. Didn't know Dana or Belloc. Hated bath tissue feature. Of course loved STL.

B Donohue 9:34 AM  

Challenging Tuesday. 25 minutes rather than 10-15. I needed crosses for the authors and the witches.

NEREID- great word to say/hear/read.

Thanks, Rex!

Milford 9:39 AM  

Ok, scratch my comment on the GINGERLY SPICE. After my coffee, it totally works.

jberg 9:45 AM  

It was very literary; BELLOC and DANA gimmes for me. I've never read Two Years Before the Mast, but somehow have always known about it - maybe from playing Authors? Are there cards for him?

I liked ASTA at the top and ALTA near the bottom, and the PLEAT - PLY echo, and the constructor's name hidden in the center -- does the G stand for something too?

And THE NO BELLY PRIZE is a great answer indeed, but why does it get a THE when the PORTLY AUTHORITY does not? Minor quibble there - I was expecting everyone to be all over that.

Fun and easy, as a whole.

JC66 9:51 AM  

@ACME et al


Rex won't read this 9:52 AM  


And I expected *them* (or at least Rex) to complain that *NO BELLY* was the only one needing to be parsed.

ChrisM 10:09 AM  

For the record, here are the original lyrics:

Lydia The Tatooed Lady

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
and a torso even more so.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopidia.
Oh Lydia The Queen of Tattoo.
On her back is The Battle of Waterloo.
Beside it, The Wreck of the Hesperus too.
And proudly above waves the red, white, and blue.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!

When her robe is unfurled she will show you the world,
if you step up and tell her where.
For a dime you can see Kankakee or Paree,
or Washington crossing The Delaware.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
When her muscles start relaxin’,
Up the hill comes Andrew Jackson.

Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopidia.
Oh Lydia The Queen of them all.
For two bits she will do a mazurka in jazz,
With a view of Niagara that nobody has.
And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!

Come along and see Buffalo Bill with his lasso.
Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso.
Here is Captain Spaulding exploring the Amazon.
Here’s Godiva, but with her pajamas on.

Here is Grover Whelan unveilin’ The Trilon,
Over on the west coast we have Treasure Isle-on.
Here’s Nijinsky a-doin’ the rhumba,
Here’s her social security numba.

Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopidia.
Oh Lydia The Champ of them all.
She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
And now the old boy’s in command of the fleet,
for he went and married Lydia!

I said Lydia...
(He said Lydia...)
They said Lydia...
We said Lydia, la, la!

Music by Harold Arlen. Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg

Gill I. P. 10:12 AM  

@evil doug....HA!!! my first BELLY laugh of the day...My daughter had a hampster named Mocha GERE....Did you notice he crosses BRAYS?
@Milford..Happy B-Day - it's mine too. ARRIBA ARRIBA!

Carola 10:18 AM  

Puzzle + comments = nice Tuesday! The last letter I wrote in was the B in NOBEL/NO-BELLY) - hadn't seen it coming at all, made me laugh (as did the Groucho song!). For the -LY's in the theme - the grammar police part of me frowned at the non-parallel construction - 2 adjectives, 1 adverb - but the adverb is so nice, itself containing a spice, that I got over it.

Of GEEZER age, I had "Richard Henry Dana Two Years Before the Mast" drilled into me in h.s. senior English. Have never read it.

@acme - I also liked CRY, TRY (facing off in the corners), SLY, PLY and poor HIE wanting to fit into the group, too.

@Milford and @Gill I.P - Happy Birthday!

lawprof 10:18 AM  

The juxtaposed DANA and YEARS entries at the bottom of the grid were gimmies for me, having read the book about a hundred years ago in college. It made a great impression on me at the time.

In some ways "Two Years Before the Mast" was a precursor to "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in that it sought to publicize the evils of institutionalized mistreatment of a discrete and exploited class of human beings, in this case, merchant seamen.

The book is far more than a sea adventure. It formed the basis for later reforms in maritime law, a specialty of Dana's in his later distinguished legal career.

Lindsay 10:29 AM  

Well I think the puzzle's darn cute. Each of the 3 theme answers is funny, AND I've actually read Two Years Before The Mast, even though I never read books ever, crossword clues taxing the limits of my attention span. Apart from the seafaring angle, TYBTM is very interesting for its descriptions of California in the 1830s. Back before DISNEYLAND.

Notsofast 10:32 AM  

A clever, fun and not too easy puzzle today.Good job! ASTA and TSO took away some of the sparkle, but GEEZER and NOBELLYPRIZE were fun. B

quilter1 10:58 AM  

Yep, knew DANA from high school, and knew the rest, too. Hand up for being old with a pretty good memory. Loved THENOBELLYPRIZE. We have never had either Hagar or BROOMHILDA in our paper and I've been reading the funnies since age 4, um, 62 years. I enjoy reading other funnies when we travel.
I rate this easy and I always like fun puns.

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

No belly indeed wins the prize.
@ Evan, good ones!
Funny how geezer in the US implies age but in Brit-speak it just means a guy.
Thanks Mr. Doll for a fun Tuesday
as so seldom happens.
My captcha is grouuca, so close to Groucho.

nanpilla 11:35 AM  

Medium here. Hand up for Bellow before Belloc. Is there a rule about amid vs amidst and among vs amongst in usage?

Rube 11:44 AM  

Got curious about BROOMHILDA so looked her up in Wikipedia. Turns out the strip was launched in 1970 based on an idea by Elliott Caplin, brother of Al Capp... that's right, Al Capp's real name is Caplin. Didn't know that.

Melodiousfunk 11:45 AM

Words fail.

Watch the wrap.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

@andrea: my incredible aunt kate turned 100 on Sat and you asked me to contact you but i have no idea how to do so. please advise. thanks

Bill 12:35 PM  

@Leon - Funny - I knew Dana from the Classics Illustrated version as well!

John 12:38 PM  

You can custom-order tan M&M's from their web site if you really miss them that much, as well as other non-standard colors.

Happy 12:41 PM  

The point of a Monday or Tuesday puzzle is that it is an easy puzzle to solve, for anybody. One of the ways of making an easy puzzle is to incorporate crosswordese into the grid. There's nothing horrible about the theme. So I guess those of you who complain (as is the write-up) simply don't like easy puzzles. Perhaps a better way to put it is that they prefer hard puzzle without common answers. C'est la vie.

dk 12:51 PM  

E. D. on staff at Cedars when the alleged rodent incident was said to occur - it did not. But OJ did it.

Epic fail with fda for BBB and tANA for DANA. All was forgiven with the oft mentioned NOBELLYAWARD.

Not bad for a Tuesday, nicest pas.

🌟🌟 (2 Stars) A fan of sea novels (tho not Master and Commander) and reading Classics Illustrated in the hammock by the lake got me into honors english in HS.

MikeM 12:56 PM  

anyone who does not know Lydia needs to brush up on their Groucho; you are missing some classic stuff. He was a comic genius. GREAT puzzle; finished it just before arriving at the PORT(LY) AUTHORITY

Anoa Bob 1:03 PM  

You folks are easy! I waited to comment to see if anyone before me would notice that NO BELLY PRIZE is lexically sufficient (and funny) in itself and would be the natural complement to PORTLY AUTHORITY and GINGERLY SPICE. (Only jberg @9:45 did.)

Adding THE to NO BELLY PRIZE strikes this long-time solver/occasional constructor as another instance of gratuitously altering the letter count to match that of another theme entry.

This issue came up with the pluralization of EYE in yesterday's puzzle.

Here's the quote from the NYT's Publisher's Specification at "Themes should be ... narrowly defined and consistently applied throughout the puzzle." (Italics mine)

I have several theme ideas that I had to shelve because I couldn't find symmetrical entries with matching letter counts. Hmmm, so all I have to do is add or subtract an "s" or "es", use a definite article like "the", change a verb tense, or whatever, to alter the letter count and get the matching theme entries, cuz it looks like the editor and most solvers are fine with that.

Be on the lookout for an upcoming puzzle with THAT GREEN PAINT as one of the themes.

Azbert 1:07 PM  

Any idea why RP is such a needlessly snarky critic? Do you pity his students?

Bird 1:33 PM  

Nice puzzle. Only 3 theme answers, but they’re all 15 letters long. This played easy for me with nary a write-over.

I like how the answers are loosely related around the body’s midsection – a PORTLY BELLY soothed by a little GINGER. And I like 15D and 22D. My only nit is the cluing for 66A – never seen it done that way before and it held me up for half a second as I asked myself, “Is 67-Across an actual part of the clue or is it referring to the answer at 67-Across?”

I didn’t know AGNES, BELLOC or DANA, but crosses were easy enough.

@Evan – great answers!

JHC 1:53 PM  

Mike in DC: No, I'm pretty sure the whole lyric is Harburg. After all, this is the guy who wrote:

My heart's in a pickle,
It's constantly fickle,
And not too partickle,
I fear.


But I could show my prowess,
Be a lion, not a mow-ess,
If I only had the nerve.

Doc John 2:09 PM  

For the record, California Screamin' is not at DISNEYLAND, it's at Disney's California Adventure. The two parks comprise the Disneyland Resort so I guess the answer is technically correct. Another of the less-than-thrilling aspects of this puzzle.
I did enjoy THE NO-BELLY PRIZE, though!

Lewis 2:45 PM  

@anoabob -- I respectfully disagree. The theme IS consistently applied, the theme being to add the LY to a common phrase to give it a wacky meaning. This was done on all three answers. Furthermore, it is known as The Nobel Prize. People don't ask, "Did she win Nobel Prize?" -- the THE is always with it.

I guess the gray area is how narrow you view "consistently applied". On a Tuesday with a fun theme, I believe it doesn't need to be as narrow as you suggest.

LaneB 2:48 PM  

Record time [for me] and not one Google clue assist. Hooray for a "medium" Tuesday! Also loved the NO-BELLY PRIZE.

Jeffrey 3:09 PM  

@Doc John: Agreed, as I noted using nearly the exact same words last night on :

California Screamin’ is in Disney California Adventure, not Disneyland Park. The two parks are collectively part of the Disneyland Resort, so I guess the clue passes on a technicality.

sanfranman59 3:38 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Tue 7:59, 8:30, 0.94, 31%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:08, 5:01, 1.02, 57%, Medium

Ellen S 3:45 PM  

Thank you all for remembering Groucho and Lydia; Richard Henry DANA Jr.; and Hilaire BELLOC. Our host the lit prof had me worried, but maybe it's a generational thing.

Confess I put BELLOw first but wUBED didn't make any sense, and I even remembered that BELLOC did write those things when I put in CUBED. And I spelled NEREID about 20 different ways before finding the right one.

@JHC, thank you for the extra lyrics, I love Harburg's lyrics, and love Finian's Rainbow and that other rainbow thing.

@dk, @evil, are we talking about the flaming anus incident? The version I have (allegedly from Salt Lake City Hospital) is great literature, even if it never happened. As a great opening line, "In retrospect, lighting the match was my big mistake" beats "Call me Ishmael" hands down. And if it never happened, so much the better, considering the fate of the gerbil.

Andrew 4:05 PM  

Disagree with Rex. The third theme answer is the outlier. Portly and gingerly are words in their own right, whereas 'the no belly' is neither a word nor does it make sense as a free-standing phrase.

oldbizmark 4:20 PM  

garbage. and not in a good way.

Charlie Brown 4:50 PM  

You know, screw you Rex Parker.

You probably think I'm too stupid to know to whom you're referring as the tired, dated lead comic in the "Graveyard". Granted, I'm stupid, but not that stupid. It's friggin obvious.

It's bad enough that I had to lead out my entire existence as the comic foil against which all you, oh so high and mighty, humans can assuage your poor bereft psychies against, but to now be forced to relive that, year after year after friggin intermnitable year, is too much. And to this you think it suitable to hold me up to still further ridicule in your class? What sort of sadist are you? Is Moose Bondage not enough for you? You couldn't have chosen Bullwinkle for your class and gotten your jollies off that way? Beaten two mooses with one whip? No, you came back to me.

To me. The persone who lived out one life in shame and humiliation. Who, when it should have been mercifully over, had to live it out all over again. Not with the wisdom of my age, none of that 'if I knew then what I know now...', but with the memories of age, but not the wisdom. It's bad enough I never tapped any of that Little Red Haired Girl 'tang once, but I have to go through another decade or two still not getting any. Yeah, that's funny Rex. Glad you're having fun. I hope your punk students got a laugh out of that one.

Tita 4:53 PM  

While piling into cars to go to @mac's after Westport, (I rode with @imsDave), as we pulled out of the parking lot, "Lydia" started playing on the radio!

I loved this puzzle! I am not a speed solver, so the surreal experience of flying through a puzzle when someone shouts "GO!" is pretty - well - surreal.
I often miss the theme entirely.
Not with this gem.

Noticed it right off the top, and sniggered out loud (shh...its a library...) at THENOBELLYPRIZE.

Thank you Mr. Doll for rising above that glaring red countdown clock.

Happy birthday, @Gill IP, @Milford!

Almost naticked at ALT_/DAN_, but had to be ALTA.
Panicked at BELLO_, knew CUBED, but worried that those were not Tuesday words.

Thanks for all the Lydia posts and alternate themes.

Little Red Haired Girl 5:14 PM  

Why Charlie Brown...this could be your lucky day.

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

She gave you her email a few days ago. Check the comments since the day you mentioned it

Charlie Brown 5:19 PM  

@"Little Red Haird Girl". HAH! I know that's you, Lucy. Stick to the football. I don't need any other humiliations.

Anne Marie 5:34 PM  

Rex, thank you for posting Kermit and Lydia! It's one of my favorite bits from the Muppets. I've been singing it all day. "You can learn a lot from Lydia!"

Sparky 5:41 PM  

Found it amusing. Knew DANA. It was also a movie with Alan Ladd. Knew LYDIA. I wanted Groucho for TWAIN the other day. Does skew mature. By the way, NO BELLY PRIZE is not new either. Been a knee slapper for quite some time.

Happy Birthday and many happy returns @ Miford and Gill I P.

Milford 6:09 PM  

@Gill I P - ¡Feliz cumpleaños, tambien!

Thanks for the b-day wishes!

Is poor Rex the only one who did not know the Lydia song? It's been an earworm all day for me!

Ulrich 6:10 PM  

@MetaRex: If you think having Erhard next to you was demoralizing, picture me having the #1 and #3 finishers sitting smack in front of me at Westport--and one of them kept groaning for the whole 2 minutes it took him to finish a puzzle. Well, if one looks at the bright side, once I started to put letters in, I had a more or less unobstructed view of the table in front of me.

Anyway, this puzzle was weird. I started at a good clip (once these guys were gone), much faster than with the preceding puzzle, but then started to slow down as I was getting lower and lower in the grid, to come at a complete stop at the crossing of DANA and ALTA--spent almost the rest of the remaining time debating the pros and cons of putting in an A, O, Y etc. Finally, I remembered Joon Pakh's advice to use Bayesian theory in a situation like that and I applied it (just kidding!) to select the A. So, that was not the mistake that prevented me from getting my perfect-score diploma...

andrea carla michaels 6:43 PM  

@anon 12:34 of AUNT KATE...
my fullname at gmail

Love all the stuff I'm learning today! CAPLIN indeed!

@Lewis 2:45pm
(respectfully) agree with you word for word...
plus sometimes you just have to add the THE or pluralize to get the lengths and the laughs...
would have to be filed under the "lighten up" category!

acme 6:46 PM  

@evan, Love LONELY RANGER...
make it THELONELYRANGER and it's 15!
Perfect start to a sequel

Sfingi 7:38 PM  

So, I know LYDIA the Tatooed Lady (considered Groucho Marx's signature song, whether he wrote it or not) and Richard Dana - but neither of the Emmas. It's an age thing.

Also didn't know ALTA and the skier on it, MAHRE. A sports thing, as usual. These things don't change.

Anonymous 7:46 PM  


I've asked here before and have yet to get the answer. Is this theme something Rex Parker made up, or does it appear somewhere? If so, where?

chefbea 8:09 PM  

@Andrea love your Wharhol avatar

Captcha is itdomly... put that in your puzzle

Anoa Bob 8:24 PM  

Hi Lewis and Andrea. Just as no fluent speaker would ask "Did she win Nobel Prize?", neither would they ask "Who is port authority here?" They would put in the missing "the" in both cases.

In this puzzle, we get the THE in one case (NO BELLY PRIZE), but not in the other (PORTLY AUTHORITY).

That's being inconsistent. No biggie. I'm just a little surprised that this much leeway appears in the NYT. USA Today, yeah, the but the NYT?

All comments are made light-heartedly, albeit by a hard-core word nerd.

Anonymous 8:51 PM  

@Anon 7:46 - Mon - Sat Rex makes up the theme. Actually, deciphers it for us and gives it a (potentialy) humorous title.

sanfranman59 1:20 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:58, 6:08, 0.97, 36%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:03, 8:30, 0.95, 31%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:39, 0.98, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:48, 4:57, 0.97, 36%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

@Anon 8:51 PM - Thanks. That explains (at last) why the themes, though apropos and clever, don't appear along with the NYT weekday puzzles.

schmuzz 10:29 PM  

all of you who remember groucho marx and lydia make me feel young(er) -
because i used to listen to the
burl ives rendition in college in the late 70's...
we used to belt it out and laugh our heads off...

Spacecraft 11:17 AM  

I fear OFL has solidified into the curmudgeon he seemed destined to become. How can you not like this puzzle? Our theme gent starts out PORTLY, but by GINGERLYSPICing he ends up with THENOBELLYPRIZE! Tell you what, I want one of those!

Oh. You mean, I have to get rid of this...oh dear. Never mind. [Sigh]

I don't agree with @Rex's assessment of the fill, either. Good, easy-medium puzzle with a big BELLY-laugh built in! What else do you want? More please, Mr. Doll.

Ginger 2:07 PM  

Tuesday easy for me, though I think my (old) age helped. No real hold-ups except BELLOC slowed things a bit. Easily fixed with CUBED. Of course I got a kick out of 37-A.

Thanks @Acme for the Groucho clip.

rain forest 6:06 PM  

Agree with @Spacecraft, though I won't pile on ol' Rex today. I really enjoyed this one, and laughed while doing it. How can you dis Hilaire Belloc? A near Natick at the DAN_/Alt_ cross, but I guessed A before E, and voila! RAG DOLL may be an oldie, but Jersey Boys has brought it back with a vengeance. If you haven't seen the show, you're missing something good.

DMGrandma 6:44 PM  

Loves this one. Loved remembering Lydia and the rest. A change from all those strange names adopted by rap stars and the like. What skewed it old for some was a trip down memory lane for others.

@Charlie Brown. I look forward to your adventures every day. Look at it as reliving experiences that brought so much pleasure to so many!

Dirigonzo 8:15 PM  

My "White-whiskered sort" was an old man before the more curmudgeonly GEEZER showed up. A Tuesday puzzle that includes a reference to one of my favorite movies ("Here's looking at you, ILSA") and one of my favorite sea-faring novels (Two YEARS Before the Mast) is definitely OK in my book.

@Gil I.P. - Happy birthday in syndicated time!

Gill I. P. 9:01 PM  

@Diri: Such a dear - thanks. I'm still celebrating......I get senior discounts!!!!

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