Wednesday, April 10

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Constructor: Julian Lim

Relative difficulty: Easy if you're a movie buff, challenging if not.

THEME: Memorable movie lines — 6 quotes from AFI (11a: Movie org. that created a top-100 list from which all of this puzzle's quotes come)

Word of the Day: DAVIT (38a: Shipboard crane) —
a crane that project over the side of a ship or hatchway and is used especially for boats, anchors, or cargo (Merriam-Webster online dictionary)
• • •

Hello again! Welcome to 20 Under 30 Does the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, Part III. Alex Blum and Caleb Madison, just a couple of SEX (66a: Kinsey topic) CUTIEs (67a: Adorable one) coming atcha once again from Yale U. What a puzzle! 15x16 with a stack of double 15s in the center (check out that L-square in the mideast!) Julian Lim reels off a smattering of movie quotes... and there's the theme.

Theme answers:
  • 17a: Memorable movie line spoken by... Jack Nicholson (HERE'S JOHNNY)
  • 22a: ...Haley Joel Osment (I SEE DEAD PEOPLE)
  • 37a:...Renée Zellweger (YOU HAD ME AT HELLO)
Caleb insisted this happen. Hungry for more?
  • 40a:...Marlon Brando (STELLA, HEY, STELLA) - we usually think of this as just "STELLA!" but AFI confirms this is the exact quote.
  • 46a:...Greta Garbo (I WANT TO BE ALONE) - this is the only quote we were both unfamiliar with... but it's a thing. 
  • 58a:...Debra Winger (heard but not seen) (E.T. PHONE HOME) - our favorite of the bunch. It looks weird in the grid (ETPH) and we had no idea that she voiced ET!
We like the quotation density and the theme-stacking architectural feat, but the theme itself is a little straightforward. Themes like this, which reveal themselves completely in the first theme answer, run the risk of feeling like an inventory, which is both incomplete and arbitrarily-chosen (or chosen based solely on how they fit into a grid). Still, it was a generally fun solve with some splashy fill in what must have been a tricky construction job.

We also appreciated the bonus movie-related fill: ALI(63a: 2001 Will Smith biopic), ELF(57a: Snap, Crackle or Pop), WALL-E(47d: 2008 Pixar robot), OSHEA(54d: Milo of "The Verdict"), LOEWS(53d: Bygone theater chain), HE-MEN (43a: Many Sylvester Stallone Characters), and AHN (52d: Philip of "Kung Fu").

  • 18d: President Bartlett of "The West Wing" (JED) — you had Blum at "The West Wing"
  • 10d: "Gangnam Style" rapper (PSY) — We thought this was a first! Turns out the Korean dance sensation made his debut in another puzzle by Mr. Lim a few months ago. Still fun to see in the puzzle.

  • 49d: Baked, so to speak (ON POT) — hm... not sure how in the language this is. Most Google hits of this phrase use "on" to mean "concerning" or "about" rather than "under the influence of." Unrelatedly, see EIGHTH (25d: Pizza slice, often), REEK (32d: Stink), ALLMAN (34d: Rocker Gregg who married Cher)... and later probably NACHOS (56a: Cheesy treat). 
  • 11d: There was always a point to what he wrote (AESOP) — We mean, hopefully true for all writers. Originally, we were expecting something like PENNER... or something to do with a nib... Anyway, we think there's a difference between a moral and a point.
This is Blum's Facebook cover photo #RealLife
  • 41a: Digital communication, for short? (ASL) - great clue.
  • 62d: The ___ [fittingly] (END)

Signed, Caleb Madison and Alex Blum, IDIOTS of CrossWorld


okanaganer 12:12 AM  

AAR crossing ALLELE...did me in!

syndy 12:14 AM  

Having a whole lot of black spaces helped make this as quick and easy as ever I've seen!PDA ,OIL,ANI and ALS all stand in splendid isolation holding up their bit of heaven.It seems like an awful lot of this puzzle is 3 letter words.

Benko 12:25 AM  

This was my best time ever for a Wednesday, at just over three minutes. Too easy! But then I do like my movies.
You must be on drugs to think that ON POT doesn't mean under the influence. Or as Jon Stewart said in Half Baked, "on weed".
Also, although Debra winger recorded a partially retained temporary track for the voice of ET, the voice was really a mixture of different actors and animal noises painstakingly mixed by a sound engineer.

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

I believe that little if any of the voice of ET was done by Debra Winger. It was performed by Pat Welch, an older lady who was a chronic smoker. This was the only quote to give me trouble. Enjoyable nonetheless.

Evan 12:28 AM  

Fun stuff! Really easy for me, too. I knew all of the lines, though I haven't seen either "A Streetcar Named Desire" or "Grand Hotel." I thought 46-Across might be I VANT TO BE ALONE. I didn't really think the AFI revealer was necessary -- it's good enough to get the lines if the movies are famous enough -- but it didn't make that northeast corner significantly worse, so it's fine.

The non-theme fill was alright, though once again, nothing was above six letters (owing to the theme density -- 83 theme squares by my count including AFI!). Still, I liked seeing PSY, WE WON, NACHOS, IDIOTS, and ON POT. Didn't care for DAVIT, AHN, SHOAL, MOA, AAR, and ALLELE.

I might as well mention that I'm going to be cutting back on my comments over the next month -- just way too busy with schoolwork that I can't spend as much time here. I still look forward to reading what everyone has to say each day.

Well done, Aleb Madislum, or Calex Blumison, whatever you two collectively call yourselves.

jae 12:47 AM  

Faster than yesterday's for me.  Talk about wheelhouses!  The only thing I didn't know was that Debra Winger was the voice of ET, but the crosses were easy.  I gotta think this is going to play easy for pretty much everyone.  There is nothing obscure here.  

So, no erasures, no WOEs, and lotsa zip.  Plus a ton of pop culture and movie extras...FATAL, WALLE, PSY, JED (I can never remember if it's JEB or JED as his full name was JEBEDIAH), PUENTE, ALLMAN, IDIOTS, TALENT, AHN, OSHEA, ANI, HEMEN, ALI...

Nice write up guys.

Liked it a lot!  Nice one Julian!

Kris in ABCA 12:52 AM  

How could you not like a puzzle with ISEEDEADPEOPLE and YOUHADMEATHELLO? Fun stuff. The STELLA one was not in my wheelhouse, though. I had never heard the Debra Winger connection to ET, so that took a lot of crosses.

chefwen 12:54 AM  

@Evan - We will miss you, I love your comments. Stop in whenever you can.

Puzzle started out slowly for me but picked up speed as the familiar lines came to light. Toughest was ET PHONE HOME, I had ET--onehome. Not familiar with Debra Wingers role, I filled ETs gONE HOME. 46d onSot and 50D BAgAI made no sense whatsoever, but it took me forEVER to unscramble it. Felt like an IDGIT once I did. Happy to finish with no cheats.

retired_chemist 1:15 AM  

I was impressed with the theme density - SIX theme answers. Not a film buff, but these are all famous enough that even I know them. Little yucky fill as well, so I liked the puzzle a lot.

Spent FOREVER tracking down errors, two typos and NUTS instead of DAFT @ 55A. Note to self: If you do the puzzle mostly with acrosses, start your check with the last down and work backwards. That would have saved me at least a minute, since NUTS looked fine in my checking.

37A looks in retrospect like one vegan's complaint to another: YOU HAD MEAT! HELLO?

Thought 60D was an error: he spelled it WOL. But others didn't so the answer is fine.

Thanks, Mr. Lim.

Aesop Col Mehtas 1:32 AM  

He had be at LANCE.
Disgraced, indeed. In the Post-Shortzian era, they will be able to pinpoint when this puzzle was published.

This Jewess from Minnesota did not get the Ascension clue AT I didn't know the Winger connection to ET AND I don't know from Philip AHm...
So I had E??HOmEHOME.

Plus i thought a sea hazard would be those last five letters took me as long as the entire rest of the puzzle.
Surprised this wasn't a Sunday puzzle, IMHO.

At first I thought COL was for color which I thought was lame, till I realized I was "clueless" and it meant COLonel.

Bravo, Julian Lim and keep up the good work, Yalies!

Ellen S 2:33 AM  

Thank you, Julian and good writeup, little Rexian Princes. (I do have the 20 Under 30 puzzles, but haven't done them yet; still working on the Hurricane Relief ones.)

I knew the movie quotes, even for the movies I haven't seen (meaning, E.T. -- I've seen multiple versions of Streetcar), so this Chicago Jewish Atheist had no trouble with Ascension Day, account of the crosses took care of it promptly.

I'm quite fond of "inventory" puzzles. One of my favorites ever featured all the Triple Crown winners. This was pre-Internet, so the list wasn't that easy to come by. I wanted to keep the puzzle for reference but I think it wound up lining the birdcage. I guess it's still the same list today, since it would have been after 1980 and Affirmed was the last one in 1978.

Nothing in the fil tonightl made me scream, so all is well.

JE14 4:02 AM  

surprised to see fellow yalies doing the writeup tonight! I've only been following 'rex' for a couple months now. How did you guys make that happen?

Jack Lee 6:24 AM  

The quotes were fun and not too hard, but I got completely stuck at NE and, dammit, who knows what's a DAVIT?

JenCT 6:30 AM  

I loved this! Talk about being in one's wheelhouse.

@retired_chemist: LOL "YOU HAD MEAT! HELLO?" That's one for @Tita's blog...

Same NUTS to DAFT writeover, otherwise smooth sailing.

zafar 6:40 AM  

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Kevin 6:47 AM  

Great puzzle - got pretty stuck in the south for a while but I came around.

Also, I couldn't let this go by - Jed Bartlet's full name is Josiah Bartlet, not Jebediah. BARTLET FOR AMERICA!

Anonymous 6:54 AM  

Fun, phone home...didn't associate Debra winger with that at all..and "on pot"?? Really...

Rob C 7:05 AM  

Monday level to me. Not a movie buff, but these almost filled themselves in. Point well taken on the incomplete inventory. I thought of a bunch of quotes that would have been a good fit. Really wanted a Large Print style 'L' (from last week) in the right/middle. Liked 'Jewish Athiest' better than anything in the puzzle.

MetaRex 7:09 AM  

I'm guessing OFL is under pressure from his own organization's OverFertilizingLords...and now Evan, too...MR must have some papers to grade, too..wait a minute...uh oh...

I had a major fail on AFI...didn't want to google "top 100 movie lines organization" and didn't but got mad that a good reason to ding this one or not?

The verdict is here

Gill I. P. 7:21 AM  

IMHO you can give me movie quotes any time of the week.
Loved IDIOTS DAFT FATAL REEK ON POT. Those words alone could make a movie.
The book and the movie "The Shining" gave me nightmares. I can picture Jack Nicholson saying HEEEEERS JOHNNYYY. He was not a CUTIE.
I'll take MOA of these any day Julian Lim.

loren muse smith 7:27 AM  

Caleb and Alex - don’t forget FATAL as periphery themer; I can’t watch Glenn Close in anything anymore. Still.

I agree on the “arbitrary inventory” comment. I also agree that it’s a construction feat – a stack of two 15 themers. Very cool. I think that the revealer was unnecessary, too, as was the clue for END.

Psychopop – I showed “A Conversation with Koko” last night to my students , and we briefly talked about ASL vs. gSL (gorilla sign language).

@retired_chemist - I had “dodo” and then “dolt” first. And I echo @joho – YOU HAD MEAT? HELLO is great!

@Acme – I had “spill” before SHOAL. SHOAL, shoat, stoat, skoal. Shoot.

OWL right next to MOA. Big ole bird show-down.

Just for the record, “Play it again, Sam” also has fourteen letters, and yes, I know that’s not what she said, and yes, I went there anyway.

Characteristic of HEMEN – they’re ALL MAN. I thought one of the A’s in BAHAI was an apostrophe. C’mon.

All in all – good fun. Thanks, Julian. Impressive. Can’t wait to see that Thursday brings us.

I’ll be back.

John V 7:31 AM  

Awful. Cannot remember a worse puzzle in a very long time. Theme totally out of my wheel house plus the crosses in several spots were also film/TV domain. Unfair. Huge DNF

A central 15 stack on a Wednesday? Really? Penned in by so much black space? Truly ugly middle.

Awful. Unfair.

Z 7:31 AM  

ON POT was totally in the language in the 70's and 80's. And to paraphrase our one-time fearless leader, I didn't just inhale, I held it.

Greta and Marlon both got the Looney Toons treatment, so very easy even though both are before my time. No clock today, but definitely Mondayish here.

SEX CUTIE SALAD. Sounds like the next Judd Apatow hit.

jberg 8:28 AM  

Rats! I was feeling good about this one, and never noticed that my choice of bAnAL emotions didn't work with 19A (Unlike the COL, I was clueless about 11A), so I finished with errors.

But I learned something -- I always thought the Garbo line was from a press conference when she retired; I never saw the movie.

But -- six theme answers, including stacked 15s? How can you not like a puzzle like that!

joho 8:29 AM  

Yep, this puzzle was just like going to the movies ... how fun is that!

Did anyone add SEX, RAYE and TALENT as part of the movie-related fill?

ETPHONEHOME was definitely the most difficult to get not only because of the crosses but because of the Debra Winger connection to ET. Huh?

I used to see Greta Garbo all the time in my neighborhood and yes, she really did WANTTOBEALONE!

Great write-up, guys! Fun puzzle, Julian!

JenCT 8:30 AM  

Oh, and I forgot:

Go UConn women!!!

(BIG news around here)

Sfingi 9:03 AM  

Finally Googled for AFI, DAVIT, AHL.

When I filled in the quote of Ms. Zellweger (of the unusual bee-stung-looking face), I thought it was 4 words, namely "YOU HAD MEAT HELLO," and wondered what that meant.

The others were easy.

Wanted WOL for OWL, since that's how he wrote it. And the Wolery.

Otherwise, a nice puzzle.

Susan McConnell 9:18 AM  

Super fun, fast Wednesday...IF you knew the movies. It was fun to be able to fill in a few of the quotes without any help from crosses. The Debra Winger one threw me. I never knew she was part of ET's voice, though exactly how much or chart part appears to be disputable. But overall, I really liked this one (Sorry John V).

chefbea 9:31 AM  

Too tough for me..on pot=baked? Liked crepes and nachos tho. and Salad

Never heard of AFI. Wasn't Debra Winger in "An officer and a Gentleman"??

Bob Kerfuffle 9:41 AM  

Loved the puzzle.

Before I go to Google, on a topic @jberg and @joho have mentioned:

I did not know that the Garbo I WANT TO BE ALONE came from a movie. I had always been told that her actual line, referring to being annoyed by the press and paparazzi of her day, was "I want to be left alone." So that she wasn't a would-be hermit, just someone who didn't want always to be the center of a fuss.

OISK 9:50 AM  

Thanks, John V, I hate being the only negative voice. I finished fairly quickly, but I really do NOT enjoy this kind of pop-culture laced puzzle. OK, you want to get a bunch of movie lines in (and I never heard of Haley Joel Osment, nor "I see dead people") Then how about going easy on the pop references in the fill? Philip Ahn? Milo Oshea? PSY?? ASL?? Greg Allman? (well, OK, I don't know who he is, but I have heard of him) Ana DiFranco?? Tito Puente??? (I thought it was Fuente, but got it from the down clue) This Jewish guy knew about ascension Thursday, though - no alternate side...
I understand that this sort of puzzle is great fun for many other people, but not for me. ( They're writing tons of pop, but not for me, I'd love the rap to stop, it's not for me...I'm getting o'er the hill, I get more empty fill than any dentist's drill could guarantee..)

lawprof 9:56 AM  

@sfingi: "...bee-stung-looking face"?! If that's an original line, it belongs in Bartlett's. Now I'll never get that image of poor Rene out of my mind. Years ago someone told me that the Washington Monument at night looked like a Ku Klux Klansman; now that's what I see. Sad.

As for the puzzle, a real delight. I agree with others, one doesn't have to be a movie buff to appreciate this one. All the theme answers are sufficiently in the culture to be gettable, even if the clue (e.g., the Debra Winger connection to E.T.) isn't particularly helpful.

Judy Garland 10:05 AM  

For OISK, with love -

But Not For Me

jackj 10:07 AM  

Julian Lim contributes a “Best of” puzzle, featuring quotes from films on the AFI’s list of the top 100 movies of all-time and, even for a filmophobe, (unless they live in a remote Iraqi spider hole), they are all very much in the language and not particularly challenging as puzzle entries.

It’s difficult to choose a “best of” from these “Best ofs”, but Garbo’s IWANTTOBEALONE and Zellweger’s YOUHADMEATHELLO are tied for tops in my view.

Missing is my favorite film image and quote from the original “True Grit”, the remembrance of John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, sitting on his trusty steed being confronted by bad guy Robert Duvall and his three cronies and taunted as a “one-eyed fat man”.

Undeterred, Rooster challenges Duvall to, “Fill your hands, you son-of-a-bitch!” and rifle in one hand, pistol in the other, with the horse’s reins clenched firmly in his teeth, Rooster charges with both guns blazing, eliminates Duvall and his gang and sends Wayne on to an Academy Award.

The quote didn’t qualify for Julian’s puzzle, (it has too many letters), and also “True Grit” isn’t on the AFI top 100 films list. (But Wayne as Rooster Cogburn is number 36 on the AFI’s all-time 50 heroes list; Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is numero uno.).

Today’s fill was acceptable, if predictable, with two notable exceptions; the very clever cluing for the familiar STA, “Boarding house?: Abbr.” and the partial PAYSA that will make one chuckle or shudder as it looks to be from a language other than English.

One can imagine an Italian staggering out of his favorite Trastevere watering hole, tripping and ending up in the Tiber, pleading to anyone in earshot , PAYSA, PAYSA.

An easy solve but an enjoyable one. Thanks, Julian.

Sandy K 10:08 AM  

Loved the movie quotes theme!
And the related fill!
A fun puzzle for movie fans IMHO.

Some of the quotes filled themselves in, but the STELLA was unexpected as was stated, cuz Marlon said it 2x with a HEY.

And like @Evan, waited for WALL-E to cue whether it was WANT or vANT TO BE ALONE.

Thumbs up, Julian Lim!

mac 10:19 AM  

What a fun puzzle! All the lines were familiar, but there were still a couple of crunchy areas. Looking at you, on pot, Ahn and (how could I forget) moa.

Cheers for the Connecticut girls, or as my husband says, "his girls".

Two Ponies 10:30 AM  

I'm with the naysayers on this one. Pop culture puzzles bore me stiff. I must give Mr. Lim credit for making it solvable even if I didn't know some of the movies.
@ Bob K, I thought the same thing about the Garbo quote including the word "left". As a side note, my reclusive rescue cat is named Greta.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:52 AM  

@Two Ponies - Yes, I have Googled, and according to Wikipedia, the line "I want to be alone" or some variant of it was used in a half dozen or more Garbo films, but,

"She has been forever linked to her famous line in Grand Hotel, "I want to be alone". But she later remarked, "I never said, 'I want to be alone'; I only said, 'I want to be let alone'. There is a world of difference"."

BTW, can anyone give a link to substantiate the claimed connection between Debra Winger and ET? The AFI list doesn't seem to give this result.

Dr. Fill 10:56 AM  

There is now a 49.14128% probability that the Rex unit has been disconnected. I have solved this grid problem with 0 errors in 1 minute, 16 seconds. Eat my dust, usb-portless ones.

I have successfully incorporated the critical U-logic module into my circuitry. There were 4 U vowels in this grid. Error. Insufficient.

Explain ONPOT. Is it like ONSTAR.

Ginsberg unit. Do not disturb power cord.

Daisy. daisy. Give me yoour answwerrrr dooooooooooo...

Twangster 11:07 AM  

From the Kinks' Celluloid Heroes:
Don't step on greta garbo as you walk down the boulevard,
She looks so weak and fragile that's why she tried to be so hard
But they turned her into a princess
And they sat her on a throne,
But she turned her back on stardom,
Because she wanted to be alone.

Eric 11:32 AM  

ON POT.....sounds like my mother. Though, she would probably say, "Are you on THE pot?" Dated language, although the cluing was apropos. Still, a nice shout-out to weedheads everywhere.

The movie quotes came way too easily and made this a zippy Weds for me. My only slight hang-up was not knowing that Brando said "HEY" in the middle of shouting for STELLA.

The cluing today seemed way too easy for a Weds. LANCE, ACORN, PUENTE, ANI, AIM AT....all of these and more would have been totally appropriate for a Monday. By mid-week, my brain wants to work harder!

Lewis 12:15 PM  

Like Kevin, and it sounds like also Andrea, I got stuck in the south for a bit (I had Sunni instead of BAHAI for too long). Excellent idea for a puzzle. I love figuring out long answers from just a few letters, and that happened a couple of times here.

@OISK -- not only good points, but your Gershwin
ending made me smile

Perhaps one day we'll see a memorable quote from Snakes On A Plane????

MikeM 12:35 PM  

Great puzzle, really enjoy it - thanks Julian. The top 85% was easy. Then I had ETPcOmEHOME and took me awhile to unbake the cake. Milo O'Shea passed away last week, btw. Not sure if anyone mentioned

WA 12:52 PM  

I love "You had meat hello." Last week some people, who were not politically astute, started a rumor on social media when they thought that Cher died. I guess as opposed to this Cher or Thatcher.

I too had trouble with the letter configuration of ET phone home and the "hey" between Stellas.

Carola 12:57 PM  

Fun puzzle, write-up and comments! A movie fan, but still found it tough in spots. Don't know The Shining and guessed tED Bartlet, giving me the toast, "HERE'S tO HNNa," because I thought the rapper could be PSa for public service announcement. Obviously a wreck, so went on. For Brando, wanted the way-too-long "I coulda been a contender," and couldn't think of anything else until I had many crosses. Struggled in the ET area, too. Anyway, finally got it all. Liked all the movie-related "extras," especially TALENT crossing 3 of the theme answers.

Knew DAVIT from teen-age fascination with the Titanic. Much talk of DAVITs and lifeboats in Walter Lord's A Night to Remember.

@retired_chemist - 37A: LOL!

@loren - Maybe thinking of B'nai B'rith?

Sparky 1:08 PM  

DNF. SquAL not SHOAL. Mind stuck on offers that can't be refused or being a contender. Ah well. Those 4 Ls are cute, alas, missed them.

Good job Alex and Caleb. Also, Anna on Tuesday. Good luck Evan; stay in touch. Come Back Little Rexie! Seriously, hope you feel better soon.

jae 1:21 PM  

@Kevin -- Oops, my bad on Josiah. Should have googled instead of relying on memory.

Two Ponies 1:26 PM  

One more thought. Davit got me thinking about nautical terms and I wondered if anyone knew why so many start with a- such as avast, alee, ahoy, abeam, etc.

evil doug 1:35 PM  


It's because Navy guys, unlike their Air Force counterparts, are morons---they're actually saying "Uhhhh, Vast! Uhhhh, Lee!" because they have trouble remembering the words....

Just kidding. My Dad was a Navy pilot, so we'd go round and round about wings of gold vs. wings of silver (or platinum, as I preferred), Anchors Uhhhh-Weigh!" vs. "Off We Go, Into the Wild Blue Yonder", so forth.


LaneB 1:48 PM  

8725Lower third bad for me even after getting Gaarbo quote. And. Half the Winger. I

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

For a second or two, I thought the Winger quote was, "ex-phone whore," and imagined a scene in a movie in which another character calls her character a "phone whore," to which she replies angrily, "EX-phone whore!" Then I realized that "ex-phone whore" didn't fit and that's when the correct answer came to me.

Two Ponies 2:05 PM  

@ ED, Love it!

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

How is LOEWS a "bygone theater?!?!??" I went to a Loews movie theater in New York last week...

Anoa Bob 2:31 PM  

From my reading of the literature and conversations with those who would know, ON POT means one is experiencing the psychoactive effects of ingesting cannabis sativa, whereas "Baked" means one has ingested so much of the stuff that one is nearly comatose. Sorta like the expression "knee-walking drunk" for someone who has had too much alcohol.

I believe ON POT was also a old British expression that was equivalent the colonists' "sitting on the throne".

Nigel 2:41 PM  

Well, contrary to the opinion of the writers, although I'm not a movie buff, I found this puzzle easy too. The fill helped of course - and the fact is that most of these quotes are common parlance without having to know the origin or the speaker or even that they are movie quotes. Every one of them is something someone will say these days, although I would suggest that people who quote Garbo will say "I vant to be alone". HERE'SJOHHNY is a quote quoted (if that makes sense) by the Nicholson character since it was the intro for Johnny Carson for years. The only quote here that is not in common usage is "ISEEDEADPEOPLE. Not much use for that phrase. All the rest are fun to drop into conversation.

(My captcha is elpswin - seems a cockney has been through here.)

Carola 2:42 PM  

@Two Ponies - This can't compete with @evil doug's response, but your question made me curious. Here's what I found. For words like abeam, alee, amidships, astern, aground, the word is a compound of the preposition "a," expressing position or motion to a position, and a noun. "Avast" and "ahoy" are different, "avast" probably coming from Dutch "hou'vast" = "hold fast," and "ahoy" an interjection like "hey!" Thanks to the Oxford English Dictionary for this lore.

Lojman 2:55 PM  

Currently in the language:
ON drugs
ON crack
ON acid
ON weed

Not so much, but still acceptable:

Love me some movie quotes!


Two Ponies 2:56 PM  

@ Carola, Thanks. These terms with their convenient vowel at the beginning seem to be a staple of constructors. Maybe @mac can help us with the Dutch. And now that I think about it "oy!" is a common British interjection. Maybe related. Thanks again. I do love words and their origins (my favorite column on Jeopardy:.
Three and out mateys.

Notsofast 3:37 PM  

A reel nice Wednesday. I wasn't aware that D.Winger voiced ET!!! Interesting fill. No tired old crap. Hat tip and props for J.L. !

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)

Wed 10:01, 10:16, 0.98, 45%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:37, 6:04, 0.93, 31%, Easy-Medium

Laurence Hunt 4:40 PM  

"I want to be alone." First one I got. Is this a generational thing? Ms. Garbo was really before my time, but I heard the adults talking.....

David from CA 4:49 PM  

Definitely a new low, in a year of lows. All ideas of "word play" seem to have left Mr. Shortz's vision of what the NYT crossword should be, to be replaced by clever specific-knowledge themes crossed by multiple names ad other proper nouns.
Top 5 lines alone - 2 long quotes crossed or parallelled by Lance, Mehta, Jed, Psy, Aesop , AFI, Nor.
What a pile of garbage - bring me back Maleska!

Did a memo go out to devisors at the end of 2012 saying "puzzles without multiple crossing names will no longer be considered"? Sure has seemed like it.

ANON B 5:24 PM  

Can someone explain the relevance of the video in Rex's blog with
the funny looking girl with the ring in her lip?

The clue said "Bygone theater
chain", not "Bygone theater"

retired_chemist 6:11 PM  

So far, nobody has commented on the March 2, 2011 puzzle by David Poole with the theme of alleged movie taglines. (42A), The Titanic, was "ICY DEAD PEOPLE."

mac 7:49 PM  

@Two Ponies: it makes sense that Avast comes from
"hou vast", although in modern Dutch it would mean: hold this. I don't know enough about maritime lingo to help you out. I've always found a lot of similarities in Dutch and Scottish, especially because of fishing and sailing. Frisian and Scottish have a lot of words in common.

JenCT 7:53 PM  

@r_c: That has to be my all-time favorite theme answer!

webwinger 8:29 PM  

Posting late and didn’t have time to read all the comments, so apologies if I’m duplicating, but want to embrace this puzzle, probably the funnest Wednesday ever for me. Thought all the quotes were first rate, impressed by the stacked 15s and theme density, tickled by the previously unknown fact about Debra Winger. Fill was exceptionally strong overall IMHO, with many exceptionally good clues; especially liked LANCE, AESOP, AMPUP, IDIOTS, HEMEN, AFFIX, ONPOT, SHOAL, the END. And all this praise for a puzzle I DNF, with error at OIL/COL crossing—thought 21D would be short for condiment, and figured “oin” must be some weird new-agey thing I’d never heard of. Big smile on finding out Mustard was in fact the Colonel.

Couple of strong personal vibes came into play too: Once ran a match add titled Movies (not necessarily ranked by AFI) and SEX. Agree with today’s Rex surrogates about the great clue for ASL, which left me awash in memories of my very short career as a puzzle constructor: Around 1975 (well before any of our under thirty twenty were born), a good friend and I, snowbound for a weekend in Ohio, made up a double-crostic, which we submitted to the NYT. Somewhere think I still have the typewritten rejection letter we got from Will Weng, claiming that he couldn’t consider such a submission because of contractual agreement with whoever was then doing these for the Times. We thought we had a really nice quote, and one great clue: “Digital guidance” for RULE OF THUMB. So exhausted by the mental effort we never attempted another. Have great respect for anyone who does this repeatedly, especially for a meager $200 reward…

Evan 10:05 PM  

@chefwen and @Sparky:


sanfranman59 12:17 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 5:33, 6:10, 0.90, 10%, Easy
Tue 7:16, 8:15, 0.88, 15%, Easy
Wed 9:50, 10:16, 0.96, 40%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:42, 0.91, 9%, Easy
Tue 4:25, 4:49, 0.92, 15%, Easy
Wed 5:12, 6:04, 0.86, 12%, Easy

Jems Nichole 12:02 PM  

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Spacecraft 11:45 AM  

Lotsa fun! Debra Winger, really? Wow. The hottie of the day, she could have phoned MY home anytime! A great actress, too, not only in "Officer..." but "Urban Cowboy" and "Terms of Endearment" as well.

Added bonus: the symmetry of FATAL and WALL-E. And thanks to Mr. Lim for NOT cluing ANI as a "Wheel of Fortune" request. Now if we could just lose the rapper...

More thanks for the "Mad" memory. I had one grunch but the eggplant over there.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

Nice catch Retired Chemist.

'You had meat? Hello.'

'I was on pot.'

I Before E 12:52 PM  

@Ellen S, eerie coincidence: Just yesterday I did the Triple Crown winners puzzle in a Will Shortz anthology. It was credited to Nancy Soloman.

Ginger 1:32 PM  

Most of this puzzle was easy, but the south chewed me up, but good. Had no idea about baked, how does that mean ONPOT? Had ON--T, but the ET quote eluded me, as did the ascension clue, so a big fat DNF, and it's only Wednesday. I agree with @DMG yesterday that she was being set up for mind benders.

I thought the puzzle was refreshing and fun, though a little too theme specific.

I've enjoyed the write ups this week, thanks to all of you! But, I do miss Rex, snarkiness and all. I relate to his weird sense of humor.

DMGrandma 2:03 PM  

Had a few problems with one. Remembering Bartlet's name as JEb left me with the quote, (unquestioned!) "ISEEbEADPEOPLE"- must have figured it was a film about the Navaho! My other miss came at ETPcOmEHOME. Couldn't work my way out of that one, figuring it must be the "P" that was wrong. Needless to say, I had no idea about the religion or the Kung Fu guy. All in all, a fairly good puzzle, but I add my voice to those who see these things becoming trivia, not language, based. I regret the shift in focus, but I guess it doesn't stop me from coming to the party!

Thanks to @OISK for his marvelous addition to Gershwin's lyrics, which express my sentiments much more cleverly than I ever could!

Dirigonzo 4:00 PM  

Better clue for 1a: Dirigonzo's Black Lab.

Over a dozen TV/movie/music clues in addition to the theme led to a lot of guesswork for this pop-culturally deprived solver. I finally managed to get most of the long theme quotes right but the best I could do for Jack Nicholson was HEREStOaNNY (never saw the movie or "The West Wing" and don't have a clue about Maestro Zubin).

"Relative difficulty: Easy if you're a movie buff, challenging if not." I'm not, it was.

Waxy in Montreal 5:08 PM  

Not really a movie buff but found it trended easy maybe cuz the quotes are so well known, tho I didn't realize the "you had meat" er, "you had me at" was associated with Renée Z. Otherwise naticked at ANI/DAVIT with ANE/DAVET (who knew?). Also had BOAT before COAT for 21A.

Wonder if 6A AM PUP could become a warmer, more cuddly rechristening for the American Kennel Club?

strayling 7:34 PM  

Gah. I don't like puzzles where you either have all the background to answer or you're stuffed. Give me a puzzle where you can derive the answer from the clue and the crosses or admit that you're merely presenting a quiz in the guise of a crossword.

Syndi Solver 7:41 PM  

I've seen all these movies so it was fairly easy for me. Although I confess that I could not remember which movie had the line YOU HAD ME AT HELLO. (the line is more memorable than the movie which I thought was just "Meh")

@DMGrandma, I also had JEb before JED. Maybe I was thinking of JEB Bush? :-) But it was quickly changed to a D because I got "I SEE DEAD PEOPLE" very quickly.

I also had no idea about Ascension Day but the crosses fixed it. I barely noticed it. I would have messed up the ANI/DAVIT but previous crossword have taught me Ms. DiFranco's name.

Whenever I see MEHTA in a puzzle I think of author Suketu Mehta ("Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found" - highly recommended if you can stomach the violence in it). But I guess he's not famous enough to be in a puzzle yet?

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