1990 Nicolas Cage film / TUE 9-17-13 / Paper with Marketplace and Money Investing sects / Kampala resident / One of two used facetiously in Motley Crue

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: DATE MOVIES (34A: 18-, 23-, 51- and 56-Across?) — movie titles which contain the letters D, A, T, and E, in that order (not strictly consecutively)

Theme answers:
  • 18A: 1990 Kevin Costner film ("DANCES WITH WOLVES")
  • 23A: 1990 Nicolas Cage film ("WILD AT HEART")
  • 51A: 1967 Dustin Hoffman film ("THE GRADUATE")
  • 56A: 1989 Robin Williams film ("DEAD POETS SOCIETY")

Word of the Day: PEWIT (10D: Lapwing) —

See lapwing.

[Imitative of its call.]

• • •


The virtues of this puzzle are that the theme answers are all very well-known movies ("WILD AT HEART" is a bit of an outlier, though I know it well so didn't balk). Also, there's a bunch of mid-sized fill that adds a good deal of interest to the grid. I particularly love the pairing of MOLIÈRE and LEONARD there in the SW. Overall, the fill is around average. Mostly OK, a wobbler here and there. EEW indeed. Serious Scrabble-f*cking with the "J" in the 31 square. How is WSJ / IWO / JOS worth it? Not sure. The "X" Makes sense where it is because it's the best letter that can go there. That "J" ... less clear. But overall, I'd say the fill comes in at somewhat more interesting than your average Tuesday. The theme seems like it was designed in a lab dedicated to "Theme Types REX Does Not Like"—I recognize this is a personal aversion that perhaps not everyone shares. It's just that the "non-contiguous squares spelling things" idea doesn't strike me as interesting. You can cherry-pick letters in long phrases and find all kinds of "hidden" words. DATE just isn't intrinsic enough to these movies. They are not DATE movies except in the most attenuated way—which is the point of a theme like this. So I'm pointing out the obvious. Obviously, it's not my thing. So depending on who you are, it's clever or it's thin or it's something else entirely that I haven't thought of. From where I stand, it is done, which is what matters, as I have to get to sleep.

PEWIT has only ever appeared in the NYT once before. I'll admit to being ignorant of bird names at times, but this seems less than common. Odd for a Tuesday. PAVLOVA is a dessert popular in NZ. Apparently it is also the name of a ballerina who danced in "The Dying Swan" (whatever that is ... I see it's a ballet written to accompany a Saint-Saëns cello solo). I thought the clue was referring to a character somehow. Not that it would've mattered. I kind of like NOISE LAW, in that it's different, but it doesn't google *that* well (for instance, ["noise ordinance"] googles about 5x better). But different is good. Usually. This one gets a pass. Liked the clue on HAVE (25D: Privileged one), and on TEA (59D: What a caddy may hold—tricksy!). You can take back your ALPEs and SILs, though. Best mistake—CATNIP for CATNAP (8D: Quick refresher). I was confusing CATNIP with NIGHTCAP. There's a perfectly good rational in there, but I'm not gonna tease it out.

This puzzle is a super-sized 16 letters wide and yet still has a lower word-count than yesterday's.

And so to bed.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Steve J 12:15 AM  

I'm not a big fan of circles used in this way - as Rex said, it's just cherry-picking letters throughout the answer - but this was fine as far as these things go. At least the movie titles were all pretty well-known (although WILD AT HEART took me a couple ticks to remember).

I'm not a bird guy, so neither PEWIT nor its clue meant anything to me. Got it off the crosses.

Some good longer fill in the downs - BANGLES, CATNAP, MOLIERE - and I loved the clue for UMLAUT. Very clever misdirection at 59A with "caddy" (literal inner dialogue: "Oh, come on, they didn't somehow spell the wrong - wait a second"). Ds all tht mk up fr the plthra of abbrevs? Prhps nt.

Benko 12:18 AM  

PEWIT bothered me, too, but now that I know it is supposed to represent the lapwing's call, I can see it.
Anna PAVLOVA is one of the most legendary dancers of all time. Someone worth knowing.

Evan 12:35 AM  

I'm lukewarm on this. I'll grant that it may not have been easy to come up with movies for this theme, at least, as far as selecting well-known titles and ones that fit symmetrically. But I kinda found the theme a little thin, too. I would have preferred it if the circles were consecutive since I'm not really a break-up-the-circles kinda guy. Hmm, is that supposed to be a subtle message in the puzzle? Movies that will cause you to break up with your date?

Anyway, one nit I have to pick with the themers is that even though you can spell out DATE, some of the letters in DATE appear more than once. I know, they're incredibly common letters, so it'd probably be very tough to get titles where the D-A-T-E sequence shows up only once -- but since the circles are non-consecutive, they stand out a little less elegantly because sometimes the repeats are between the circles. DANCES WITH WOLVES comes close, but the first E that shows up is in between the A and T, so you sorta get D-A-E-T-E. The repeats are more apparent in DEAD POETS SOCIETY (with the circles, spelling out D-E-A-D-E-T-E-T). WILD AT HEART and THE GRADUATE have repeats too, but at least they're outside of the circles in those answers.

NINE IRON, NOISE LAW, SO BE IT, and JUNIOR were my favorite bits of fill. I could do without AWN, JO'S, partial TO SEE, SRTAS, EEW, SRI, PEWIT (that due north section is a little rough), ELEM, ATT, ORIG, and LENTEN, though.

mathguy 12:41 AM  

Pretty easy, 24 gimmes, but it was fun. I agree with Rex about how lame it is to drop circled words into the long entries. Reading his obituary inspired me to read more Elmore Leonard. Valdez is Coming was terrific.

Anonymous 12:47 AM  

Birding clues are what relegate the NYT xword to white upper middle class east coast Ivy League bullshit hell. I mean nothing says 'bourgeois posing wanna bes' like birding. I mean if the. NYT wants to be as intellectual/classless as its pretensions, then less (I.e., no) birding and more actual culture, big C or small.

jae 12:49 AM  

Medium-tough for me.  Knew the movies but was iffy on some spellings in SW (UMLAUT,  MOLIERE, LEONARD) so had to stop and think more than usual for a Tues.  

And speaking of the late Mr. LEONARD, Justified maybe the best thing on TV since Breaking Bad.

Smoother grid than yesterday's. 

I'm with Rex, the theme seems a tad loosey-goosey.


So, although, like Rex, the theme is not one of my favorites, I liked it.  Any puzzle with 4 good movies plus The BANGLES and PHOEBE has got my benefit of the doubt.

Questinia 12:52 AM  

Thin but oddly kicky and tricksy with that tea/tee caddy thing.

Went for eww ere eew and now actually prefer the latter spelling.
Thank-you Mr. Collins for being a taste-maker of eew for me.

Odd for a Tuesday but easy.

Anoa Bob 12:57 AM  

I've only seen one of these, and it didn't really strike me as a DATE MOVIE. Wait a minute, what the heck is a DATE MOVIE anyway?

Glad the POCometer is down for modifications because I think that the combination of BANGLE/JO, ANSWER/MOLAR, DATE MOVIE/LEVEL, & AU/GOER all sharing a POC ending S would have been too much for it. If that wouldn't have done it in, then EDICTS leading into SRTAS in the SE would have fried the circuits.

Enjoyed MOLIERE, PHOEBE, and especially PAVLOVA, although I thought her first name was IVANA. Maybe just a reflex on my part.

Z 1:00 AM  

MOLIERE, LEONARD, and Alcott make for a very literary west. PLIÉ and PAVLOVA add a little dance for cultural variety. And then there is the tricksy RRN hiding in the clue for JUNIOR. How appropriately Tuesday. I put this in the like column.

Chad Montgomery 1:09 AM  

Not a theme that I'm going to appreciate, but fine for the Tuesday crowd, and that's kind of important on Tuesday.

PEWIT isn't here because of "white upper middle class east coast Ivy League bullshit'. It's here because the constructor got stuck with it and was thankful that somewhere, somehow, it is an actual thing. I'm willing to overlook it and the crosses were easy.

What I especially hope for when we get stuck with something like PEWIT is that I'll learn me something interesting.

'Kibitz', in a roundabout way comes from PEWIT. And we should be grateful that they didn't cross reference with PHOEBE.

Questinia 1:13 AM  

@ anonymous 12:47

Intellectual/classless would include knowing the names of birds. Upper class would be shooting them for sport.

Otherwise birds are cool. Provided you observe them through lorgnettes while tea is served, dressed in head-to-toe crepe-de-chine Chanel neutrals on a chaise longue...

Clive, where is my Peterson's?!

Ellen S 2:36 AM  

@Chad Montgomery, thanks for the great etymology link for pewit and kibitz! What fun! And @Questinia, I agree. My grandmother came here from Moldova or Russia, as it was then, and sold rags off a cart to put my father through law school. Not very upper-class but I know what a pewit is when I see one in a crossword puzzle.

Okay folks my Captcha is "Awnedom". That would be the land where plant beards reign supreme.

chefwen 2:38 AM  

Figured that PEWIT would be the WOD. I am a birder but have never heard of PEWIT, We have a similar bird here that has just arrived from its summer home in the Arctic. They are called Kolea and strut around in what looks like little tuxedos. They were once called the Lesser Golden-Plover, my spirits are always lifted when they come home for the winter.

I'm not much of a movie person but after figuring out the DATE theme and filling in all the circles, it all came tumbling down.

@Questinia - Where do you get your material? You always keep me laughing. Priceless!

Brendan 6:20 AM  

I'm a fairly serious birder and didn't know the word "Pewit." Seems arcane and obscure, even among the ornithologicslly inclined. A real outlier, to me...

dk 6:27 AM  

The day the earth stood still featured a group of dentists on Theremens. It seems the Theremen tho frequently heard is not often played. Best listened to in button fly jeans and a Motley Crue t-shirt.

Brother and I are thinking of building a Theremen.

Oh the puzzle. Yep I solved it. I think i took a date to The Graduate. I would have been 17.

** (2 stars) oddly satisfing

dk 6:28 AM  


Ana Catnap Molars 6:41 AM  

Was watching "Dancing with "Stars"" while solving so tried to put in DANCingWITH the WOLVES. (buzzer sound!)

Sweet idea for a puzzle.

Got caught with the TEe answer...
Bummed I missed the Oakland BACFILL this weekend (Yom Kippur, etc) but that would've been my inevitable one letter wrong square!
Rare that i don't check the crosses but there you have it.

Extra J totally worth it to liven up that corner and EJECT/JUNIOR was classy!

THEGRADUATE remains one of my all time fave films, thrilled it was in the puzzle.

And WILDATHEART has all the great Chris Isaak music.

The year I crashed the Oscars, which has given me an endless supply of anecdotes the past 20+ years, Costner beat Goodfellas with his DANCESWITHWOLVES and Diane Ladd (Laura Dern 's mom) was nominated for WILATHEART. She lost, can't remember to whom.

Elle54 7:01 AM  

I really liked it! Clever and interesting Tuesday !

Doris 7:07 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doris 7:12 AM  

It's hard to believe that you've never heard of Anna Pavlova. Her name was practically synonymous with ballet in the early 20th century. "The Dying Swan" is a brief solo accompanied by a Saint-Saëns cello piece, not the other way around.

"The swan can swim while sitting down.
For pure conceit he takes the crown.
He looks in the mirror over and over
And claims to have never heard of Pavlova."
—Ogden Nash

Mohair Sam 7:42 AM  

Am I the first to grumble about UMLAUT? Must be a lot of English majors commenting here.

I'm with Rex on the circle theme. If you're going to do random circles to make the word "date" you should be required to use real date movie titles. THEGRADUATE would never qualify (unless you're dating an older woman, hmmm, maybe not).

Stop complaining about PAVLOVA . . . I've been to the ballet twice in my life (second time at gunpoint) and Pavlova was a gimme off the P.

Susan McConnell 8:17 AM  

Theme struck me as kinda cute, even though I don't typically like circle puzzles. Evan's nit about the extra D, A, T, E out of order was valid. Fill went fast. Didn't know PEWIT, but was easily gettable from crosses, and gee, people, aren't you glad you learned something?

loren muse smith 8:36 AM  

@Evan – I looked for exactly what you described - the DATE to be the only such letters. Was only momentarily crestfallen/surprised (this *is* Peter Collins, after all), but it didn't spoil my fun. I'm impressed that he came up with two pairs of movies with matching letter counts and the DATE in the right order.

I always enjoy exploring the theme further to see other possibilities: The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, The Departed (Hi, Jeff ;-))

Hey – how 'bout CHICK FLICKS? Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Chopping Block

Yeah – that "caddy" TEA/tee thing was cool.

How weird is this – I had just finished fussing at our dog, PHOEBE, for being in a leather chair on our porch. Then I come back in and PHOEBE jumps out of the grid.

Lots of government periphery: WAR/ACT, NOISE LAW, VOTE, EDICTS, GORE, TROOP, INANE

@Steve J – and UMLAUT crosses Österreich! @Mohair Sam – I liked it, and I wasn't an English major. But I get your point.

I agree with @chefwen about @Questinia – you're always clever and spot-on funny! I was one who didn't get the RETAB lyrics, so thanks, @ahimsa, for that link.

@Anoa Bob - HAVE without it's S struck me as odd.

Loved the clue for LEVELS.

Speaking of PEW, IT seems my dog, Owen is a gifted skunker. EEW.

I keep looking at the grid and seeing ASH ORE and wondering how I knew *that* one.

MOLIERE right next to LEONARD on a Tuesday! Poor Dad. I think the crosses are going to be tough for him with UMLAUT and NED. I'll have TO SEE. . .

Thanks, Peter. Cool idea.

Mom – did that "it's" make you think you got me again?!

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

A-Bob -- a Date Movie is one with with lots of romance, so you might get lucky later on.

jburgs 9:03 AM  

Am I a pewit for not knowing what 49D -III's father is all about? The answer is Junior. I just don't get it. Help please?

loren muse smith 9:13 AM  

@jburgs - Thurston Howell III's father was Thurston Howell Jr.

mac 9:15 AM  

Nice puzzle, with all the dates in order, but I also noticed the extra one in "darted".

Questinia is very funny! On our honeymoon (Vermont, New Hampshire, early January, don't ask, I've never been so cold in my life) we met up with a college friend of my husband's who had come from California with his wife and two very small children because there had been a sighting of an arctic tern.

Jon88 9:17 AM  

Re 6d: Eww. Okay, it's arguable whether there's a "correct" spelling for onomatopoeia, but if it's supposed to represent the sound, I wonder who says "EE-wuh."

MetaRex 9:18 AM  

Nice 16 x 15 construction...thx to Rex for tipping all of us who missed that.

Big thumbs-up on the theme. The four movies all feature signature roles for the four actors...nope, they aren't conventional DATE MOVIES, but they are definitely movies you could have brought your girlfriend to back in the day and hoped she would identify you with mystical Kevin, wild and crazy Nic, melancholy Dustin, or rapturous Robin. They are also a four set you could rent and watch as a woman in 2013 and think, hey, which one of these guys would I most like to/least like to hang out with for the rest of my life.

Lewis 9:23 AM  

I liked the theme. I'm guessing it isn't easy to come up with commonly known movies where you can find DATE inside, and date movies are a real thing. That's plenty for the theme, even if the movies themselves aren't date movies.

PEWIT is a great word, never heard of it. Probably more suitable for later in the week, but the crosses were very knowable.

Grid gruel: PSA, AWN, JOS, ARR, SRTAS, RTE, APO, ORIG, SIL, ATT, AUS, IPSO, ANA, IWO. Waiting for one of Anoa Bob's gruel passages.

Would have been sweet if it was SENIOR crossing THEGRADUATE rather than JUNIOR, but I did like the clue for JUNIOR.

@loren -- you have a very good puzzle idea -- go for it!

oldbizmark 9:33 AM  

i am a birder and "pewit" is definitely not common... probably because lapwings are not all that common, at least not in downstate NY. i think the circle some random letters to make a word is a cop out and completely agree that, while the answers came quickly, they were not "date movies." my biggest issue, besides the JOS, IWO, WSJ mess was the AWN PAVLOVA cross. Never knew an AWN was so "grain beard" sounded like some sort of farm pirate. That is all. Easy but disappointing Tuesday.

WA 9:36 AM  

The choice of movies seem as random as the circled letters. And the movies you do go see, depend on whom you are seeing.

quilter1 9:37 AM  

There were circles? I wanted PEeWee for PEWIT, another name for the same bird and wondered if it was a variation. But overall found the puzzle easy and pleasing.

chefbea 9:44 AM  

Fun easy puzzle!! Loved the clue for nine iron!! and of course Betty Crocker!!!

joho 9:56 AM  

I loved the theme of DATEMOVIES and especially enjoyed remembering the films Peter picked.

JOS BANGLES are what I wear! (Actually I don't have any BANGLES, just couldn't resist saying that.)

I give this Tuesday a resounding YES!

Sandy K 10:01 AM  

Except for WILD AT HEART, I actually did see these with my DATE- now long-time husband, so they are indeed DATE MOVIES for us...

Lots of good fill- MOLIERE, LEONARD, the BANGLES and never heard of the dessert, but certainly know Anna PAVLOVA- possibly the most famous ballerina ever...

DACHA from Thurs' Ian Livengood puz was an 'ANSWER' on Jeopardy last night.

Other than PEWIT and EEW, didn't even mind JO'S Boys and PINK. I enjoyed this puz A LOT!

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

SRTAS clue is so racist. Suggesting that all the Spanish do is go to bullfights. Disgusting

jberg 10:28 AM  

@Rex, at least you got your name in there. I liked it, but PEWIT was only from crosses, and that only after I got the theme. I might have guessed d for T there, thinking it was a bird family. I've seen a lapwing (in the UK, never seen one closer to home), they're cool, but never heard that name.

BANGLES is not a POC, it's the name of the group - also in the old song title. I think it's only a POC if you do something weird in the clue to get the plural, like yesterday's UNSERS.

As for bird names and ballerinas, I'll refrain from complaining about rappers and golfers if everyone else will stop complaining about them.

Carola 10:30 AM  

My eyes light up when I see Peter Collins and circles, so I was prepared to like it - and did. Thought DATE MOVIES was clever.

I also liked the pairings others have mentioned - PAVLOVA + PLIE, MOLIERE + LEONARD, PHOEBE + PEWIT (@Quilter 1, I also thought it was PEewee). @loren - Great catch on the UMLAUT for Österreich! And at street LEVEL, AVE and RTE.


@Sandy K - Speaking of the WSJ, did you happen to do Patrick Berry's "Border Crossing" from Saturday? I got to it last night - liked it! Funny to see 62A this morning.

Chad Montgomery 10:34 AM  

Trolling again?

Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

Top half stickier than the bottom. Overall pretty good.
@ jberg, So agree about birds v rappers.
I think it was Anna Pavlova who, on her death bed, asked for her swan costume.

Steve J 10:44 AM  

@Anoa Bob: I fear that in your quest to make Plurals of Convenience a thing, you've lost perspective. The name of the band was The Bangles, so 3D has to end with the S; losing it would be like using my forename in a puzzle and leaving it as TEVE, because the leading S left you with a plural to cross. Likewise, DATE MOVIES is not a POC. It's the theme revealer, and since there is more than one date movie listed, it has to be plural.

I agree that things like yesterday's UNSERS are clunky, but you've gone from pointing that out to waging a crusade on any and all plurals, which is absurd.

@Mohair Sam: Stop complaining about UMLAUT. For anyone who's seen This is Spinal Tap or who was a teenager in the 1980s (and therefore Motley Crue's primary audience), UMLAUT is a gimme. (NB: I don't actually think you should automatically know umlaut. I'm just pointing out the absurdity of expressing bafflement at how some people don't get things that may seem obvious to you. One person's obvious is a different person's stumper, as we all have different cultural experiences, came of age in different eras, etc.)

@Loren: Would singularizing a typically plural word, like HAVE without the S in this case, then be a Plural of Inconvenience?

Sandy K 10:47 AM  

@Carola- Hi! No, somehow I missed that puzzle. Will try to get it- can't wait to see what you're referring to...

gifcan 11:19 AM  

My memoir will be entitled DNF. Even on a Tuesday. Botched the SW corner. Maybe I would do better if I had attended an Ivy League school. I like the birds and din't get tripped by pewit. I'm a white, middle-class, west coast, junior college birder.

Thank you, Rex, for this blog. It often makes my day.

Masked and AnonymoUUUs 12:03 PM  

@lms: There was a chick flick called "Chopping Block", huh? Missed that one...

I laugh a lot at Q's comments, too. Kinda a nervous laugh. Like when I see PEWIT in a puz, or when someone remarks that PU, TONTO reminds 'em of old M&A. Or when some lawyer dude points out that 2Ns are bigger than one N. Nervous laugh of the woefully dense and/or uninformed. Dumb again, M&A breath. Here's to yah, Madam Q.

"Wild at Heart" is a DATE movie, in the same way "Chopper Chicks in Zombietown" is a CHICK flick, I suppose...

Yo. Maybe 4-Oh is indirectly on to somethin... why not just stick DATE into the movie title, without randomly breakin up its letters? Wouldn't even need the circles anymore! Collins dude!
To wit...
...works with about anything, except PEWIT.

But I forgot to digress...


p.s. Lookin at that there graph, looks like the PEWITs are startin to make a slight comeback. trouble brewin.

M and A also 12:19 PM  

p.p.s.s. (here comes the digressin part, now)

2N's is bigger than one N? Confuses the M&A...
1. If you got nothin, we'll be sure you get twice as much, right after this next e-lection. Thanx, Congress.

2. If everyone's in the room, and you double the size of the room, then who else are you plannin to invite???

3. N squared is more than N also bothers me, but not quite as much. If N is that there imaginary i dude, then N-squared is -1, right? Are negative real things bigger than imaginary regular things? Does this work, for PEWITs? snort.

M&Ath challenged.

ahimsa 1:00 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. This kind of theme is fine with me - no problems with circles or with the word being fairly common. Kudos to Peter Collins!

Anoa Bob 1:26 PM  

Hi Steve J. @10:44. Grid entries usually go in first and then clues are written to match them. I've never constructed a puzzle by writing out the clues first and then filling in the grid entries to match the clues.

If, for example, DOOR is one letter short of a slot, then I can simply add an S and clue it as Jim Morrison's band. One could then say DOORS is no longer a POC because it has to be plural to match the clue.

Same goes for BANGLE vs BANGLES. Many plurals can, in retrospect, be clued so that it looks like the entry has to be plural to match the clue. That doesn't change the fact that the S was initially added for convenience to make it easier to fill the grid and then the clue was written to match the plural. I don't see too much difference between UNSERS and BANGLES.

As to losing perspective and wandering off the reservation into the absurd, I have long pled nolo contendere to that charge. Trying to construct xwords, daily solving several, reading blogs, and writing comments is, among many other things, evidence for that.

Mohair Sam 1:41 PM  

@steve j - Awright, awright. I modify my statement to "English majors and Motley Crue fans," which weakens it a lot. But I'm holding out on PAVLOVA - she is to ballet as Pavoratti is to opera.

btw - Saw your italics on Spinal Tap (great flick) - how do you do that in our comments section?

syndy 1:41 PM  

I got PEWIT off the P with barely a thought but now I'm stumped on how I knew it.A thin theme made gossimer by not using "date" movies!GeorgeIII's father was Fredrick prince of Wales-Grampa was George II(Junior).carryon

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

I'm a life-long birder and I never heard of pewit. For what it's worth though, there were in fact 3 northern lapwings in a pasture this past winter in New Egypt, new Jersey. They attracted birders from all over the country. A very rare bird for the garden state.

@Questina My Petersons ( my third actually) is one of my favorite things in the world.

Ray J 2:21 PM  

Anyone bought a pair of Levi’s recently? The last pair I bought had four LABELs sewn into the waistband. Those labels aren’t just for washing instructions anymore… Levi’s has gone and added international licensing agreements onto theirs. On the plus side, if I ever run out of reading material I can just take off my pants.

I enjoyed the puzzle despite forgetting to pay attention to the circles.

Benko 2:22 PM  

I like the idea of just putting the word DATE into movie titles for a theme. How about RAINMANDATE?
I would say that even "UNSERS" isn't a true POC, since the UNSERS are a racing dynasty with multiple members, famous as a family. Like the BARRYMORES.

C J from Green Bay 2:22 PM  

Put me in the heard of it column for the PEEWIT. Note the double E, however. Put me in the unseen column for WILD AT HEART. Put me in the plus column, for liking today's puzzle. Thank you, Mr. Collins.

@M & A: What? No defense of N + 1 > N? Your dissertation is incomplete. No QED. No PhU for U.

Go, Packers.

Bird 3:03 PM  

Liked the theme and most of the fill, but almost DNF because I could not believe GOERS was legit, did not know if the club used was a four or NINE IRON (anyone can duff a long iron), is it ETA, ETD or ARR and I didn’t know the answers to those downs. Eventually everything fell into place after a couple reasonable guesses.

I also like the clue for SRTAS, but JOS and AWN should’ve stayed home.

Last Silver Pewit 3:44 PM  

Hey, @CJ. On account of bein M&Ath challenged, darned if I knew what I needed to do to get the treasured QED dealy. Thanx for bringin this to my attention.

Here goes nuthin.

Say somebody has got it all, but wants more. Hedge fund operator dude, say. Tries to get one thing more. Gets caught goin over even the legal illegal limits, say. Goes to jail. Does not pass Go. Ends up busted. Try tellin him that N+1 beats N.

While I'm here, allow me to wax poetic about those nice stacks of sevens in this TuesPuz grid. Primo work, Collins dude. Million dollar word of the day: UMLAUT.
Extra credit (two bits) for the REX, btw.

Steve J 4:16 PM  

@Anoa Bob: Good point about fill coming before clues (although, I'd still argue that the theme revealer isn't really an applicable case, as you typically get that fill worked in before the rest). The plural in most cases will have been chosen well before the idea for the clue.

That said, I view plurals like other elements that are used for construction convenience, like cheater squares or, especially, short fill (and all its related potential pitfalls: abbreviations, overused words, crosswordese, partials, etc.). They're infrastructure that helps support other, better bits. As long as they're not awkward (typically pluralizing surnames, but there are other words that we rarely see pluralized that will get dropped into a puzzle) or excessive, and if they're clued well (e.g., the brilliant "Feu fighter?" from the other day to clue the worn-out EAU), I don't see them as an issue. As with a lot of things in crosswords, it's about how you use them and keeping things in balance.

@Mohair Sam: Who's Pavoratti?

(Joke, of course. Although, Caruso would be a better comparison, given their respective eras. Of course, this opens the question of why I know Caruso but not Pavlova, especially seeing as I've attend more ballet - one - than opera - zero.)

To italicize, you need to enter a small amount of html code. The mark for making something italics is < i > (you need to remove spaces when you actually enter it; you can see the regular usage right below the comment-entry window where it says "You can use some HTML tags ..."). When you get to the end of the text you want italicized, you enter < /i > (again, without spaces). So, < i >This is Spinal Tap< /i > (sans spaces) becomes This is Spinal Tap.

Mohair Sam 4:59 PM  

@steve - thank you. And yes, Caruso would have been better.

Anoa Bob 5:00 PM  

Hello again Steve J.,

How 'bout this for the reveal:

grid entry: DATE MOVIE (9 letters)
clue: "18-, 23-, 51-, or 56-Across?

One letter short for the reveal slot, as is the case here? Then

grid entry: DATE MOVIES (10 letters)
clue: "18-, 23-, 51-, and 56-Across?

I'm not on any kind of POC crusade, just trying to bring it into the discussion of the many elements that go into achieving balance and quality in a crossword puzzle.

Bird 5:10 PM  

@Anoa Bob - The only problem with DATE MOVIE is that this is a 16 wide grid and losing that S means losing the symmetry (3 blanks on either side) requiring some rework.

In this case I don't think the plural takes anything away from the puzzle.

Enrico Caruso 5:41 PM  

Who is Luciano Pavorotti?

August West 6:02 PM  

It was fine, with bits of brilliance enough to outpoint the bits of pap. Didn't know PEWIT, but also didn't mind simply learning a new word. PAVLOVA went in on its length, and Tartuffe is one of the most scathingly hilarious indictments of pious hypocrisy ever written. If you haven't, do.

Theme was incidental. Circles highlighting d a t e within, say, 18A made DANCESWITHWOLVES no easier to get than, um, reading its clue. I guess seeing d a t e in the themers could assist in filling the reveal, although I honestly don't recall being consciously aware of the connection as I solved the puzzle. Didn't hate it. Didn't love it. My overriding sense was that it contained a higher number of typically later-week clues/answers than is usual for a Tuesday, which might discourage the toe dipping neophyte. Personally, however, I loved UMLAUT, HAVE, TEA and INANE.

wreck 7:51 PM  

My only observation is that so far this week, the puzzles are about a day ahead of themselves in difficulty.

schmuzz 8:42 PM  

i'm laughing at it all cuz i didn't even notice the circles- i was so excited about knowing the movies right off the bat. and why couldn't they all just be date movies...?lol

JenCT 9:42 PM  

@Chad Montgomery: I bet you're absolutely right...

Had PEWee before PEWIT.

Like @Susan McC said, I like learning something new everyday...

Z 9:44 PM  

It's been a long day so if someone has mentioned this and I just missed it, apologies. Each clue is DATE and the movie's star, adding another meaning to the DATE MOVIES reveal.

I also filled in the circles for the bottom two themers after getting the reveal. It never hurts to have eight squares filled in before reading either clue.

Anonymous 2:38 AM  

Pavlova is a dessert in New Zealand BECAUSE of the ballerina. Come on!!!

syndicate bob 11:26 AM  

I started with "Where sailors go in port" ASTRAY instead of ASHORE which slowed me down a bit. Would Independence Day be a date movie?

spacecraft 11:53 AM  

Silly me, the beans were spilled right out of the gate with LID-->DANCESWITHWOLVES, so I confidently wrote in the central revealer as "MOVIEDATES." Sorry, HAVE a seat, thanks for playing.

Well, of course I did fix it later, and had only one other w/o letter: TEe instead of its correct homonym. Yeah, come to think of it, caddies don't hold tees. The golfers' pockets do.

As random circles in long answers go, this doesn't grab me any more than most others. The films themselves? DWW is so long and boring, you gotta do SOMETHING sitting in a theater seat, so in that sense, a great date movie. The Cage one I don't know. DPS? Nah. Ah, but THEGRADUATE! Now there's a primo date movie! And may I say, as gorgeous as Katharine Ross is, few screen characters have ever been hotter than the incomparable Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson. The lady was an absolute master at her craft; I sorely miss her.

Yeh, Dusty was good too.

I liked this one because of the overall fill. Gotta love PAVLOVA (and I second @anon 2:38's comment!) and UMLAUT, don'tcha? Look, if you don't understand the difference fill makes, take yesterday's and today's puzzles and compare. Now can you see?

BedfordBob 12:30 PM  

I guess I'm the only dissenter here. I hate puzzles filed with proper names, authors, pop musicians and worst of all the Simpsons.

I got it all without any problems and I guess it was better than most Tuesdays since it took me a bit longer than usual

Waxy in Montreal 1:21 PM  

Fun puzzle. Enjoyed solving it, especially once the theme became apparent. Like many, learnt something new today - PEWIT (glad it was readily available from its crosses).

Showing my age - my TV PHOEBE was played by Peter Lawford in the early '50's sitcom "Dear Phoebe" in which he played a journalist who penned a lonely hearts column, à la "Dear Abby", under the pen name Phoebe.

Ginger 1:43 PM  

Didn't notice the circles til after the solve, so I'm meh about the theme. Have never heard of the BANGLES, or PEWIT so it played tougher than Tuesday. Fortunately, I knew the movies, so everything fell nicely.

Dirigonzo 3:30 PM  

I liked the puzzle well enough, I'm just sorry I couldn't finish it. I convinced myself that "Privileged one" had to be fAVE (you know, short for "favorite") which left me with WILDATfEAR_, and since "Lapwing" was meaningless to me I went with as "s" and had to settle for two wrong squares. The only one of the theme movies I have seen is THEGRADUATE and I second @spacecraft's comments.

Charles F 6:00 PM  

Did anyone else notice that AUS is not the abbreviation for Austria?
AUT is the international convention for Austria and AUS is for Australia

ahimsa 6:38 PM  

@Charles F, I've noticed that about AUS and AUT before. I've always been afraid that I'd sound nitpicky if I pointed it out. But I'm glad someone else was brave enough to mention it so thanks! :-)

And AUS is probably not actually "wrong" as an abbreviation for Austria. It's probably on some older maps although I think I've seen AUST more often (just checked my old National Geographic atlas and AUST was used for Austria on one map).

But I have no idea why crossword constructors/editors don't clue AUS as an abbreviation for Australia. It seems like it would not be too hard but maybe I'm missing something.

Solving in Seattle 7:12 PM  

Wonder what kind of rating the Republicans give GORE?

Dropped in DANCESWITHWOLVES (one of THE MOST boring movies I've ever seen, right up there with Lincoln) and DEADPOETSSOCIETY, which made for a quicker than usual solve.

23A totally on crosses. Cage is way too whiny, but I like his American Treasure movies.

Only, very messy, write over was mrsrobinson before THEGRADUATE. Funny they have the same number of letters.

Is a PEWIT a Purdy bird?

Capcha: meengr. A short, nasty, high school coed?

Z 7:19 PM  

The AUS list starts off with AUStralia and has AUStria second. Both are preferable to cluing via Acute Urethral Syndrome or Arbeiten Unter Spannung (although certain posters would probably love the latter since the first word ends in EN and all).

Dirigonzo 8:33 PM  

@Charles F - I did not know that, so thanks for bringing it up.
@ahimsa - nice to see you way out here in Syndi-land where all points of view are welcome, nitpicky or otherwise.
@Z - why can I never find the "Like" button when I need it?
@SiS - I'm still trying to decipher your capcha but so far all I can see is me(chanical)engr (engineer) which I don't think is what you had in mind - what am I missing?

Solving in Seattle 8:46 PM  

@Diri, mine was an oblique stretchy reference to the movie "Mean Girls." I like yours better.

@Z, too bad about the Tigers and Leyland leaving. Next year. The AP had an interesting article about the Cardinal organization and how successful they've been over the past 15 years. Take a read.

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