Humorist Bennett / WED 10-9-13 / One ringy-dingy comic / Bleeding Love singer Lewis / Three-time NHL All-Star Kovalchuk / Together in Toulouse / Christine heroine of Phantom of Opera / U2 song paying tribute to American icon / First in line of Russian grand princes

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Constructor: Jason Flinn

Relative difficulty: Easy/Challenging


THEME: two stories by Philip K. DICK (42A: Author Philip K. ___)— that's pretty much that. Stories (on which movies are based) divide astonishingly neatly into two 15-letter segments each.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: With 20-Across, story by 42-Across on which the movie "Blade Runner" is based ("DO ANDROIDS DREAM / OF ELECTRIC SHEEP")
  • 54A: With 59-Across, story by 42-Across on which the movie "Total Recall" is based ("WE CAN REMEMBER IT / FOR YOU WHOLESALE")

Word of the Day: Bennett CERF (23D: Humorist Bennett) —
Bennett Alfred Cerf (May 25, 1898 – August 27, 1971) was an American publisher, one of the founders of American publishing firm Random House. Cerf was also known for his own compilations of jokes and puns, for regular personal appearances lecturing across the United States, and for his television appearances in the panel game show What's My Line? (wikipedia)
• • •

AceD457
I just described this to my wife as a "break hard/break easy" puzzle. You either know the stories or you don't, and if you don't, ha ha, god help you. Actually, I knew the top one cold, and needed some crosses to get the bottom one. But I knew it, so I didn't need too many crosses. As a result, I was under four minutes today—very, very fast for me, for a Wednesday. It helps that I have a massive vintage paperback collection containing many of DICK's early novels (not to mention an entire website dedicated to said collection). But this is a pure trivia puzzle, and while I'm of course thrilled to slay a Wednesday so quickly, I can't say it's a *good* puzzle, precisely because it's Just Trivia. I love how the stories miraculously break into such neat and stackable 15-letter segments. But if you are not a DICK fan, this isn't going to be too pleasant. Especially since the fill is not that great. I had to use DAAE once in a puzzle and it absolutely killed me. Inside. Like, I had nightmares about it. This puzzle over relies on such, let's say, odd, names (four of them at least: DAAE, ILYA, STAEL, LEONA). It also has PEWEE crossing REPEN [frowny face]. The AWFUL UNIE. Etc. So, big thumbs up to DICK as a writer, and to the fantastic luck that the stories stack this way. But mixed feelings about the puzzle qua puzzle.

AceD103.SolarL
Wife said "this was like two different puzzles." She flew through everything on top (that story is easily Dick's most famous) and then ground to a halt down below (a much less famous story punning on the title of a once-famous but now little-remembered book (and musical), "I Can Get It For You Wholesale." Or maybe the musical is famous. I wouldn't know famous from unfamous where most musicals are concerned. At any rate, perhaps this puzzled played like two different puzzles for you, too. I wouldn't be surprised.

Bullets:
  • 31A: Music magazine founded by Bob Guccione Jr. (SPIN) — Sr. published Penthouse, (in)famously.
  • 36A: Like bits of old music in some new music (SAMPLED) — nice modern clue here. Like it.
  • 30D: U2 song paying tribute to an American icon ("MLK") — I knew they sang about MLK in "Pride," but I didn't realize they gave him his own song. Interesting.
  • 47D: "One ringy-dingy" comic (TOMLIN) — love her, but this bit doesn't ring a bell. I thought this was some Rat Pack thing, but I was thinking "ring-a-ding." 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

95 comments:

August West 12:01 AM  

Homage to one of my favorite authors. Knew both double stacks straight from their clues, so this one fell like a birch to a beaver. Loved it.

Yeah! Yeah! I'M HIP! I'M HIP!

John Child 12:03 AM  

What day of the week is this? There are lots of things to like here beyond the wonderful Philip K. Dick titles, including RAT and FLEA, CAPED crusaders, and PIGOUT.

But there are too many people I've never heard of in this one: LEONA Lewis; IVAN I; ILYA Kovalchuk; Christine DAAE; Alan LADD (well sort of, maybe, but it's a 60 year old film); and Madame de STAEL. And a CALLA lily, whatever that is.

But STEEL next to STAEL was nice, and the homage to DICK was worth the DNF.

jae 12:08 AM  
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Chad Montgomery 12:09 AM  

Yeah, well, I didn't know the author or either of the stories, and it led to a sky high Wednesday time. For a few minutes I was concerned that the SW might crack me - on a Wednesday!

Over at Crossword Info, constructor and Shortz are so, so sorry about REPEN, which was good for a laugh because that is the least bad of the bad stuff.

I had CUDGEL before CIRCLE for a while with "Club". Fixing that was the most interesting thing for me today.

jae 12:09 AM  

Pretty tough for a Wed.  Knew the Blade Runner title but not the Total Recall one so had to work a bit for the South half.  Plus the clues for 48a and 41d are more Fri./Sat. than Wed.  So, medium-tough for me.

Erasure: SaaR for RUHR

WOE: STAEL.  I know Camille SAENS from crosswords but not Anne De STAEL.  Also ILYA.

@Rex - You need to go back to Laugh-In for the ringy-dingy skit.

Really liked this one.  REPEN was the only cringy answer and the theme was unusual and fun. Excellent debut Jason!  Keep them coming.

Anonymous 12:10 AM  

True fact: The K in PHILIPK DICK is short for Krotch.

FearlessKim 12:13 AM  

Like Mrs Rex, had the top title cold, while the lower title took some serious crosses, and then hand met forehead. Not crazy about the triple acronym-of-convenience (AOC) BMI/UPC/MLK, and I wish Evil Doug were around to comment on the BUMP/Guccione/DICK/ADULT nexus, but I enjoyed the solve nonetheless. Thanks, Mr. Flynn!

Evan 12:14 AM  

Extremely hard for me, and that's even after knowing the title to the top stack. I haven't read it, but somewhere I pulled that title from my head when I had enough crosses. I needed almost every cross, and my decent-but-not-great knowledge of the movie "Total Recall," to take care of the bottom stack.

I dunno. I'm sure Jason was thrilled when he spotted the 15-letter symmetry of those titles, but I feel like the fill might have been better if they had been separated, i.e. not stacked on top of one another. It's possible that might have been trickier to pull off, but I'm just not crazy about most of that northwest corner, A VOTE, IVAN I, UPC, CERF, I'M NO, PEWEE, UNIE, REPEN.... and that DSCS/CALLA/STAEL nexus is brutal. COMMIE and PIG OUT are good answers, though.

mathguy 12:15 AM  

Not easy for me. Nine entries I didn't know including the bottom Dick story. But eleven gimmes. ARRAYED and ACRID seemed a bit off.

FearlessKim 12:15 AM  

@chad Montgomery: also had cudgel before CIRCLE. I like our word better.

Z 12:21 AM  

What next, an Elvis Costello theme?

I'm definitely in the target audience for this one. ILYA was alex, and some of the other southern answers slowed me a bit, but an easy Wednesday for me. If fifties/sixties science fiction isn't your thing, though, I expect this will be brutal.

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

What's wrong with DAAE? As far as I'm concerned, The Phantom of the Opera is the most popular opera of all time. Seen far worse.

JFC 12:23 AM  

@Rex, You are right. This was a hard puzzle for me because I don't know Dick....

JFC

okanaganer 12:33 AM  

After watching baseball today (this is the only time of the year I do that, cuz...well, it's on about 6 different stations all day) I am inspired to comment: how does TAMPA rate so many pro sports teams? A city of less than 400,000 has NHL (Lightning), baseball (something Rays), and football (Buccaneers). What's their secret? They even won the Stanley Cup, for pity's sake...in Florida!!! Chew on that, you miserable Vancouver Canucks.

BTW (that's a TEXT thing, right?) thanks, pk DICK, for giving me two easy stacked 15s today! (the ANDROIDS..ELECTRIC SHEEP that everyone seems to know).

Not a Phillip K Dick fan 12:49 AM  

Ghastly

Too Old to Care 1:14 AM  

Surprisingly easy for this septagenarian despite absolutely no connection to Mr. Dick. Credit the crosses if you will. Stubbed my toe on ARRAYED (first tried ARMORED) but recovered quickly enough. ACRID was my first pick, but the clue was too big a stretch. Seems to me that more and more clues are off target of late. Thought a few have been downright incorrect, but would rather not engage in battle over a pastime.

Anonymous 1:49 AM  

I knew none of those stories, so this was a difficult one for me. Got Tomlin right off, but you probably have to be old enough to remember Laugh-in, which as far as I know hasn't been on TV anywhere in recent history.

Benko 2:06 AM  

Fastest Wednesday Ever. Wow, there are so many obvious jokes to make about this Dick puzzle.

chefwen 2:53 AM  

Had not seen either movie. so I was pretty much "at sea". Still don't quite get it. Finished it with all the correct letters in place, but, ???.

Not too fond of a puzzle that needs to be explained to me and I still don't git it.

Ablest Circle Mutes 3:41 AM  

Hand up for Cudgel, misspelled as CudgLE before light went on.
Didn't know either story, but knew IcangetITFORYOUWHOLESALE ... And that, sir, was enough.
Didn't even see DAAE. But wow, yikes!

@john child
Think Katharine Hepburn saying "the CALLA lilies are in bloom"

However, I belong in one of those camps that it's so inspired to notice two 30 letter titles that can break PERFECTLY...twice!
And stacked...twice! I think that's brilliant enough to warrant a very cool puzzle even for those, like me, needed every single cross. What's the harm in that? I struggled and learned something :)

Steve J 4:09 AM  
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Steve J 4:15 AM  

DNF. DNL.

My experience with the puzzle was pretty much like Mrs Sharp's: Top came together fairly quickly (I couldn't remember the title straight away, but it fell in place with a few crosses), but the bottom was brutal and where I ultimately did not finish.

When you have a trivia puzzle like this, you have to make really certain that the crosses of the theme answers are quite gettable. There are some things in there that are not easily gettable. I had to guess at ILYA (inferring from __LA). The clues for LEONA and TOMLIN - both gettable words - needed to be clued much more easily (I remember Lily TOMLIN and I've seen clips of Laugh In - I was born during its run, but some retrospective shows appeared during the late '70s and early '80s) - but that clue was a bit too specific and required solid knowledge of the show. I would think a reference to LEONA Helmsley would be more broadly gettable than a reference to LEONA Lewis.

Yes, titles breaking into two 15-letter sets is interesting. But I'm in the CIRCLE that believes that interesting construction does not necessarily make for interesting or entertaining solving. This could have been put together better, particularly in cluing, to increase the entertainment possibility.

And one quibble: The French word for "together" is ensemble. Unie means "united" (as in les États Unis). Yes, they're synonyms, but I think when you're dealing with translations in a puzzle, you need to stick with the literal meanings when they exist. The clue's alliteration was too cute by half.

It wasn't all negative for me, though: I really liked the clue for SUNLAMP, and PIG OUT was fun (which has indeed been fun for the last 10 days on vacation), as was COMMIE.

loren muse smith 6:15 AM  

I don't read science fiction from any era. Don't know why. So I didn't even get half of this grid, and I can't remember the last time that happened on a Wednesday. Yikes! All of you who weren't familiar with DICK and finished anyway – I take my hat off to you!

@Chad Montgomery – agreed – the southwest was brutal. I didn't get any of it. Couldn't even see AWFUL and didn't know the word "affright." I guess I should have known UNIE, but I didn't get that, either. (Mornin', @Steve J)

@FearlessKim and @Chad Montgomery – Mom used to go to CIRCLE for a church group. I never understood that, but it helped me get at least that one!

@Steve J – well said. The clues for the crosses of the 15's just weren't in my wheelhouse. I agree with @Andrea, though, that it's pretty cool to notice that two thirty-letter titles divide perfectly, and I appreciate that they're stacked. But it was no fun getting my ASP kicked from here to TAMPA.

"Ruskie" very briefly until ORAL cleared that up.

Probably like tens of thousands, I used to do a spot-on imitation of TOMLIN's Edith Anne. And mine was best.

Are PEWEEs and PEWits related?

Didn't RAT FLEAs cause the plague?

Off to lick my wounds and regroup.

Congrats on your debut, Jason. Two stacked 15's in a debut – impressive!!

Gill I. P. 7:47 AM  

What a strange puzzle. Like @chefwen I too don't "get" it and like @Loren my ASP was kicked as well.
Never even heard of PK DICK. That BMI, UPC and MLK area was blank. Can't spell so DAAE and all the other proper names sort of hung like PEWEE.
I guess it was worth it just to get TOMLIN [snort!]

MetaRex 7:52 AM  

Loved this to pieces personally...shared the "knew the top, no idea about the bottom" experience of Rex and a number of us...

V. nice contrast between PKD's chatty titles and the sock 'em hard Hollywood titles...

Had MARTIN (of Rowan and __), which led to diverting confusions down low.

Yep, there's some grotty fill...and the off-center, unmatched DICK is also a prob from the purist perspective...but hey...a very big thumbs-up here to Will for green-lighting this one.

ZenMonkey 7:59 AM  

Lily TOMLIN's Ernestine is a lifelong favorite, though I'm certainly not old enough to remember when Laugh-In was on.

http://youtu.be/k9e3dTOJi0o

This was my fastest Wednesday on record. I got the theme clues and sort of buzzed through the rest while marveling at how nicely the titles fit.

John V 8:03 AM  

Wow, was this painful. The author and the works are completely unknown to me. Finished with one error @ 12D, with STELL, thinking the title might end with ELECTRICS HELP. Like I say, got nothing on this title's domain.

This was sort of the solving equivalent of shoveling snow. Nothing personal, Jason.

mac 8:36 AM  

This broke bad for me, too. Lots of respect for the two stacked 15s/titles, though.

Trying to decide what to do this afternoon: Dali or Miro.

joho 8:39 AM  

@John V, me, too! I thought it was spelled STAhL but when that didn't fit I went with the incorrect "l." I made the same rationalization that ELECTRICS could somehow HElP ANDROIDS.

I think I would have figured out SHEEP if I'd put the puzzle aside after I finished with a big AHA at BUMP when I changed eMI to BMI. At that point I was eager to read the blog.

I didn't know either title or the author so am very happy to have just one square wrong.

@Loren Muse Smith, I so wanted PEWEE to be PEWit!

I like when Will tries new things and this puzzle seemed that to me.

Congratulations, Jason Flinn!

Mohair Sam 8:42 AM  

This was a wonderful puzzle. I had heard of DICK, but knew nothing of his work. Still, I was able to complete this at probably Thursday speed. And the author's fans probably got it in Tuesday time.

Flinn was able to please fans of Phillip K. and yet give the rest of us a puzzle we could tackle. No mean trick - nice work.

And DAAE, btw, is a fine clue. One of the best known stage characters ever. I had more trouble with ILYA, I thought all hockey players were named Orr or Espo.

Z 8:56 AM  

@okanaganer - Because the Tampa Bay area has 4 million residents. Why 4 million people voluntarily live in Florida is another question. - Pure Michigan. - HockeyTown.

@MetaRex - Phillip K Dick is a much more philosophical writer than suits Hollywood's preference for visual effects and big booms. I think your observation about the titles is spot on, highlighting the difference in emphasis.

I imagined this to be at least Friday tough for people unfamiliar with science fiction (if you are into science fiction you will end up reading some Dick just because of his reputation regardless of your age) and this seems to be generally the case. If this had been 19th century operas instead of mid 20th century science fiction I'd be a lot grouchier than posters so far have been.

@Milford - I'm amazed at the number of good to great places to eat in Detroit. Good food, something a little different, and Michigan beers... these are my primary criteria.

oldbizmark 9:07 AM  

yuck. besides not knowing the books (i got the first after some work but the second remained a mystery as the SW corner was my undoing), there were many clues/answers that were just plain garbage. Some examples: RADS (I had RAYS because YAAE looked as plausible as DAAE), SUNLAMP, ENDIT, PEWEE! And, just so we are clear, a pewee (eastern or western) is not taht small of a bird - it is a 6/6.5 inch bird, putting it around the same size of a sparrow. When I think of small birds, I think of kinglets or certain warblers, but not a pewee. That is just the birder in me but I thought the clue was a bit off. I hated this puzzle. But, at the same time, I am glad that the puzzles seem to be getting better. For a while there, they were too easy.

Notsofast 9:15 AM  

Pretty crunchy for a Wednesday. And waaay too many obscure or unknown people. Leona Lewis? Daae? Stael for god's sake? And a hockey player? Really?

oldbizmark 9:15 AM  

... LEONA, LADD, UNIE, ARRAYED. Ugh. Who the heck is Leona Lewis. Who knows people from the movie "Shane?" I can make a great puzzle with clues from mid-90's indie rock (J of Dinosaur Jr. fame), baseball trivia (who was the first player with the initials DH to DH in the WS?)... this puzzle was junk to junkiest. if you can't tell, i am angered by this puzzle today.

Susan McConnell 9:19 AM  

My brain somehow knew the author, and like @acme, icanGETITFORYOURWHOLESALE helped with the second book. Needed lots of crosses for the first one, but Rex is right, lost of nastiness to have to put up with for the trivia. I found myself getting mad about things like UNIE, DAAE, DSCS, etc.

Then read the blog and saw that OFL couldn't recall TOMLIN's wonderful phone operator bit. Now I feel old. Wah wah.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Strange tie in -- Alan Ladd (63 Across) was the father of Alad Ladd Jr., producer of Blade Runner (17 & 20 Across).

Ruth 9:35 AM  

I think a clue hinting at Body Mass Index would be a better choice for BMI (for a Wednesday). More current, and I bet just about everybody is familiar with it.

Carola 9:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 9:41 AM  

Carola said...
Yup, count me in the "two puzzles" camp: top flashed by, bottom was tough. Knowing the title of the "WHOLESALE" musical was a big help, as I wasn't getting a lot from the crosses. I thought the twin stacks of intruiging titles was a neat idea and appreciate the homage to Philip K. DICK, but for me it wasn't the most fun solve - no challenge followed by a wrestling match with a bunch of people I didn't know.

If the PIG is OUT, you need to REPEN it.

@loren - Yes, I smiled at the bird reappearing in the form I know it - PEWEE instead of PEWIT.

@joho - "STAhL" (German for STEEL) would have made a nice juxtaposition.

Elle54 9:55 AM  

I never heard of The author or the books but was able to parse the whole thing. Hilarious sci fi titles (I do love Total Recall movie!)
Ringy dingy was a gimme for me and Christime ... Didn't know how to spell her name though.
So even if you don't know the trivia, you can solve it.

Lewis 9:55 AM  

Didn't know the author or titles, so I was extremely dependent on crosses, and some of those, especially on top, were tough for me. So it was a tough battle for me, but persistence paid off, and it was worth it.

Despite the wealth of grid gruel.

Really liked the clue for SUNLAMP.

wreck 9:59 AM  

Both halves were brutal for me. I'm with @JFC on this one. 55 minutes

oldbizmarky 9:59 AM  

and, another thing.

quilter1 10:21 AM  

Yes, Lily TOMLIN doing her telephone operator bit on That Was The Week That Was. Great TV. Good puzzle, I rate easy/medium.

quilter1 10:23 AM  

No, I meant Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in.

Two Ponies 10:25 AM  

I'm a big PK Dick fan and Blade Runner is my favorite movie so the theme entries fell easily. As for the fill... not so much.
You folks unfamiliar with the author have my sympathy. It probably wasn't much fun.

Milford 10:27 AM  

Another solver here that was able to easily come up with the title in the north, and needed many-a-crossing to figure out the south title. Had absolutely no idea that Total Recall was based on a book.

Overall, a tough Wednesday for me, not just because of my sci-fi ignorance, but because of pretty much every one of @Rex's bullet points up top. Lots of educated guesses, but sometimes that makes for a fun puzzle. Having ARmored, before ARRAYED was a big hold-up for me.

I think if my kids used the word ABLEST I would correct them to say "most able" - such an awkward word.

Speaking of my kids, I love to listen to the radio with them in the car and point out how many "new" songs have riffs that are SAMPLED. The Eminem/Billy Squires song is the most recent one, and the Macklemore "Same Love"/"People Get Ready" is another. I know artists have always done this, but it amuses me as a parent now.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Longtime lurker here, first time commenter. Compelled to write because I just thought this was an AWFUL Wednesday puzzle, notwithstanding the double double-stacks, and no offense to Mr. Flinn intended.

Don't want to POUT any longer, just IMNOt one of those who thought it was NEAT.

jberg 11:00 AM  

On the one hand, I loved the PK DICK stories stacked so nicely; they did make the solve challenging, since until you had them you didn't have much help with the many downs crossing them. Still, the thing about Dick's titles is that they have an internal logic. I'd never heard of WE CAN REMEMBER IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE, but once you have enough letters you see that it couldn't be anything else--especially when you know it's related to "Total Recall" (which I've never seen, either).

Is ELECTRIC SHEEP really his best-known story? I'd have guessed "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said." Only 27 letters, though.

I read a lot of his work in my youth, but mostly in those Ace Doubles @Rex collects -- never read either of these.

OTOH, I DNF. Put in oRbiT for ERUPT, figured MBTE was some sort of video format or something (I don't have a TV, but still should have seen MUTE), and shockingly didn't think of Bennett CERF-- I was only thinking of Bennett as a surname -- even though my father had a collection of his humorous memoirs of life in Westchester County. If I had only thought to check 4D I'd have seen SUNLAMP, which would have firxed it - but I didn't.

But I'm really surprised that so many never heard of Madame de STAEL. We learned about her in grade school (well, maybe junior high) when we studied the French Revolution. Can there be generational diferences in knowledge of people who died 196 years ago? I guess so.

Benko 11:06 AM  

"WE CAN REMEMBER IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE" is actually only a short story. Nothing like the movie. In fact, none of the movies based on PKD's work (and there are quite a few) really bear any resemblance to the original work, apart from the overriding questions of what constitutes identity and reality. You would be very surprised to see how he imagined what became Blade Runner. Only Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, as far as I know, is a faithful adaptation.

jberg 11:07 AM  

Oh yeah, CALLA lilies - here are some more:

Nude with Calla Lilies

OISK 11:12 AM  

Under 10 minutes for me despite never having heard of "Daae," although I did see Phantom once - a great "opera" it is not - but I have my own nit to pick. A pewee is NOT a particularly small bird. The name is derived from its song, not its size. They are seen in NY mostly during migration. Liked this puzzle better than yesterday's and MUCH better than Monday's..

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Finished it.
Hated it.
Is REPEN the new RETAB?

Benko 11:15 AM  

@jberg:
Thanks to the anointing of Blade Runner as a film classic, ELECTRIC SHEEP is definitely Dick's best known title, though most have no clue how different it is than the movie. Flow My Tears...not so much. The Man In The High Castle, Dick's Hugo award-winning novel about an alternate universe where we lost WWII, deserves more attention. The VALIS books, his last works, have become popular among many fans for their religious/mystical theorizing, though personally I find them a bit too didactic.

Tom Q 11:31 AM  

Like many, I knew both titles, but at different levels: the first a slam dunk; the second one I needed some crosses to jog the memory.

For the record, there's even a (nonmusical) movie of I Can Get It For You Wholesale (with Susan Hayward). But it's most remembered as a musical because it launched the career of one Barbra Streisand, who had a show-stopping number about her character Miss Marmelstein.

chefbea 11:34 AM  

Never heard of the author..never heard of the books...never saw the movies. Got to the puzzle late and no time.

another lurker 11:39 AM  

PERHAPS theme FOR YOU is NEAT,
PSST- IVANI, UNIE, REPEN, REDO, ASOF, DAAE, STAEL, DSCS, BMI, UPC, ILYA- AWFUL!

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Please know this: Phantom of the Opera is not an opera. It's a musical about an opera singer. Spread the word. This statement ranks close to #1 in most universally despised comments made to opera singers by the general public: "Phantom of the Opera is my favorite opera".

This puzzle was not Wednesday fare for me. Never heard of Philip Krotch Dick, but his name is catchy.

Karen from the Cape 12:42 PM  

Just wanted to say I love the covers you posted here Rex, pulpy goodness. I've read a fair amount of Dick so sailed through this puzzle easily.

My pet peeve is the folks who say they never read sf. People forget that a lot of Stephen King and Kurt Vonnegut are sf, and Margaret Atwood and J.D. Robb. The Road was depressing sf, the Time Traveler's Wife romantic sf. Unless you're one of the unfortunates who rarely reads a book :(

Phantom 12:50 PM  

Anonymous 12.15, I was just going to comment Pahtom of the Opera is not an opera. I have seen it 3 times on BWay through the years. DAAE pops up in crosswords from time to time, it is good to know her name

CruxLogger 1:03 PM  

Finished but ridickulous!

Gill I. P. 1:14 PM  

@Karen from the Cape. Not to mention H.G. Wells, Asimov, Verne, Bradbury and the list goes on.
I Googled DICK to see if I've read any of his books but none looked familiar.
I think he falls under the "Cyberpunk" subgenres of all that is labeled Sci-Fi...Not my cuppa. Give me a "Dune" any day of the week...;-)

Masked and Anonym007Us 1:15 PM  

@lms: har, re: PEW-birds comment. (And, dang, girl -- that heavy eyebrow treatment gives U a whole new look!) har.

Shlock A-movie Blade Runner's book title was pretty much a gimme, altho didn't quite remember what the androids dreamt about for sure. Total Recall book title, well -- dimmer on the old recall screen. That Dick dude really knew how to title-up his stories, tho. The Shortzmeister should do that for these here crosswords: give 'em really long, bizarro titles. Then they will live on thru the ages, like Dick books. Examples ensue...

1. Do Rex Dudes Have Nightmares About Berry Pangrams
2. Do Rex Dudes Dream of Chopped Up MonPuz Grids
3. Do Masked Dudes Dream of Double Digit U-counts
4. Do Krozels Dream of Grids Without Black Squares
5. We Can't Remember This Stuff at Any Price
6. We Can Pewit for a Kilo of Primo Thistle Seed
7. Agent 007-U Will Return, in For Your Pewees Only.

M&A

M and A Repens 1:50 PM  

p.s.
... or Agent 007-U, of course, could possibly instead return in "The Living Daaelights".

We now return to yer originally scheduled programmin.

Bird 1:52 PM  

Couldn’t remember the stories and did not think this was worth the effort so D N F. The downs crossing the long themers should have been clued better or simply easier so that those who did not know the stories had a chance.

Liked SAMPLED and COMMIE

DAAE, ILYA, STAEL, LEONA, REPEN, UNIE = WTF

Blade Runner is a great movie and Total Recall is a good comedy.

Nuff said.

Happy Humpday!

Idahoconnie 2:19 PM  

I do the syndicated puzzle so get left out of commenting on this site. Today I did the puzzle that features names such as KCAFFLECK. What I want to say is that some solvers will complain that they are too old or too young to know the answers to some clues. I am 68-years old and get complaints from family and friends that I am too into pop culture. Well, that makes me a perfect solver of crosswords. I knew reading Us Weekly and People magazine would pay off. Of course I don't buy them, I read them at the grocery check out. One time I was reading the National Enquirer and one of my intellectual acquaintances was standing in line behind me. When I turned around and saw her I quickly blurted out "I just want to see who Taylor Swift is dating now" and gave her a wink. No red face here. I also want to say that Loren Muse Smith has the freshest comments of anyone. Keep it going, Loren.

Z 2:26 PM  

@Gill I.P. - PKD is pre-Cyber Punk, but is certainly one of their paranoiac roots, along with Stanislaw Lem (if you have a taste for sci fi/classical mash-ups try Lem's Cyberiad)

DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP may be PKD's most famous title, but I would guess that the alternate history The Man in the High Castle has long been the most likely title to be seen on a bookstore shelf. There has been a rejuvenation of interest in PKD of late - the NSA and the surveillance state are practically ripped from his forebodings, so I see more of his titles on the shelf today than when I was a teen and he was still alive.

@Bird - Are you referring to the Arnold version or the more recent remake of Total Recall? The first struck me as very cartoony, a cliché of what sci fi movies are supposed to be. The newer one is still no Blade Runner, but is more of an adventure flick with some paranoia induced undercurrents as opposed to pure cliché.

And just because people too often believe the jokes made on the internet - the "K" stands for "Kindred," apparently PKD's mother's maiden name.

BTW - I'm more of a David Brin, Ursula LeGuin, Harlan Ellison, James Gardner fan than PK Dick fan.

Three and Out.

allan 2:53 PM  

IMHO. Rex was dead on in the write-up today. Unfortunately, I was one of those who found it challenging. I solved Do Androids...of Electrics Help, which made sense and had Stall as the cross (my apologies if that's been mentioned earlire. I speed read the comments today). The bottom title parsed much easier. Overall, solved more like a Thursday.

sanfranman59 4:01 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 14:00, 9:44, 1.44, 98%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 7:49, 5:37, 1.39, 98%, Challenging

By the numbers, this one will go down as one of the toughest Wednesdays in the 4+ years I've been tracking solve times. It currently has the 5th highest ratio in the Top 100 group and the 4th highest in the All Solvers group (of 197 Wednesdays in my spreadsheet).

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

"Two puzzles" indeed. Top half wasn't two bad (did doubt for a while that 3-D could possibly be DAAE), but bottom half nearly killed me. Having GEODE for 53-D helped, but I struggled with 41-D, making it ARMORED on first try, ARROWED on second try (weird, yes, but couldn't think of anything else for a long time), finally broke everything out with ARRAYED.

LaneB 5:05 PM  

IMNO purist, so don't CALLA me a RAT because I looked up the complete works of P.K. DICK and found the 2 titles that had 30 letters each. No surprise that " challenging" became " easy" thereafter.
Thought the clue for PSST was strange, but otherwise the puzz was straightforward and interesting. A fine Wednesday, indeed!

retired_chemist 5:31 PM  

I knew NOTHING about P K DICK or either book, yet I finished with a creditable time (for me). The whole of the puzzle was to get enough crosses to suss out the book titles. The East gave me my best shot, and when I had enough to put in DREAM, SHEEP, REMEMBER IT, and WHOLESALE as probables there were enough crosses in the West to fill out the titles. They sounded kinda stupid but they were right.

A lot of fun fill, some dreck, as others have pointed out. MOPE instead of POUT @ 32D was a complication. ORYX with no crosses made up for it.

Thanks, Mr. Flinn.

GeordieGirl 6:42 PM  

My English background led me to Alan Bennett rather than Bennett Cerf so that whole little block was an unholy mess.

Anonymous 7:04 PM  

All about age: the ringy dingy routine was what first made lily Tomlin famous (laugh in see above) but she didn't do it much after. I like puzzle even tho I didn't know the stories.

Bird 8:10 PM  

@Z - I forgot all about the remake of Total Recall. I haven't seen that one yet, but when it arrives on cable I'll have to catch it. The original has a few corny parts and a couple scenes where you say, "C'Mon, really?", but it's still a good enough movie for me stop surfing and watch a bit.

Anonymous 8:13 PM  

Had the same experience as August West 12:01 AM, about 20 hours later. We are the 2% !

michael 9:14 PM  

I wrote in "Dick" right away, eventually was able to remember the top book, but the bottom one I had to get by crosses and logic. For a while, I thought this was going to be an unusual DNF Wednesday, but eventually finished in an ok time (for me).

michael 9:15 PM  

I wrote in "Dick" right away, eventually was able to remember the top book, but the bottom one I had to get by crosses and logic. For a while, I thought this was going to be an unusual DNF Wednesday, but eventually finished in an ok time (for me).

Questinia 9:21 PM  

Weighing in in the midnight hour. Same top half easy, bottom half one worked for.

Awkward but overall a wonderful debut.

gifcan 9:43 PM  

Like @joho I sometimes race through the puzzle to get to the blog. Not today, I finished it though I had never heard of the author or either of his titles.

So, @oldbizmark, who is the first DH to DH?

Anonymous 10:11 PM  

I liked the STEEL / STAEL juxtaposition.
Knew both Dick titles so that gave me a leg up.
And go to YouTube and search for Lily Tomlin Ernestine.

sanfranman59 12:07 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 6:06, 6:07, 1.00, 47%, Medium
Tue 8:15, 8:15, 1.00, 51%, Medium
Wed 14:00, 9:44, 1.44, 98%, Challenging (4th highest ratio of 197 Wednesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:50, 0.97, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:49, 5:10, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
Wed 7:23, 5:37, 1.31, 97%, Challenging (7th highest ratio of 197 Wednesdays)

Ellen S 1:45 AM  

I read everything science-fiction in the 50s and 60s, and thereafter until it all turned into dragons and wizards and crap like that. Aside from the sci-fi being fairly easy, I made all the mistakes everybody else mentioned.

@anon 11:14, I think REPENT is the new EEL.

COMMIE reminded me of myself, so, nice puzzle.

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ahimsa 12:51 PM  

Late comment but I had so much fun with the puzzle that I decided to post. (Hello to any syndi-solvers who might be reading this!)

Thanks and kudos to Jason Flinn!

This fell into the "easy" column for me but still fun since I have read both of those stories (and several others). My only hiccup was briefly thinking it was "memorize" instead of REMEMBER in that second title.

Just as a bit of trivia here's a quote about one of my favorite words, kipple, that comes from Philip K. Dick:

Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's homeopape. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you to go bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up there is twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.

No one can win against kipple, except temporarily and maybe in one spot.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:23 PM  

Knew the titles; liked the puzzle.

spacecraft 11:54 AM  

Totally out of my wheelhouse. I read neither story, saw neither movie, and don't know how I snatched the name DICK out of thin air; I must have seen him once in a list of preferred sci-fi authors. And I needed that snatch; the toughest of all was that little center pocket. The phrase "Like bits of old music in some new music" was meaningless to me. I'll say it again:

There IS no new music.

Anyway, that's a ridiculous clue for SAMPLED, and WAY out of place for a Wedensday.

Despite not knowing either of the titles--perhaps I never read him because I was put off by way-too-wordy titles--I somehow finished this puzzle. So I guess @Loren's hat is off to me. Somewhat like @retired_chemist, I worked from crosses and filled in obvious gaps: R_M_MB__ has pretty much got to be REMEMBER, no? Especially when the clue refers to Total Recall.

No one could snort like Lily TOMLIN's Ernestine. Had a bit of trouble with the natick at DA_E, but in the end decided that the whole title must be a question, so as improbable as DAAE might be, I went with it. What kind of a name, real OR fictional, is DAAE? AWFUL.

spacecraft 11:54 AM  

Totally out of my wheelhouse. I read neither story, saw neither movie, and don't know how I snatched the name DICK out of thin air; I must have seen him once in a list of preferred sci-fi authors. And I needed that snatch; the toughest of all was that little center pocket. The phrase "Like bits of old music in some new music" was meaningless to me. I'll say it again:

There IS no new music.

Anyway, that's a ridiculous clue for SAMPLED, and WAY out of place for a Wedensday.

Despite not knowing either of the titles--perhaps I never read him because I was put off by way-too-wordy titles--I somehow finished this puzzle. So I guess @Loren's hat is off to me. Somewhat like @retired_chemist, I worked from crosses and filled in obvious gaps: R_M_MB__ has pretty much got to be REMEMBER, no? Especially when the clue refers to Total Recall.

No one could snort like Lily TOMLIN's Ernestine. Had a bit of trouble with the natick at DA_E, but in the end decided that the whole title must be a question, so as improbable as DAAE might be, I went with it. What kind of a name, real OR fictional, is DAAE? AWFUL.

spacecraft 11:59 AM  

Help! How do I delete an inadvertantly doubled post?

rain forest 1:24 PM  

Like @ Spacecraft, I knew neither book nor the author, but the phrase DREAMOFELECTRICSHEEP was sort of familiar. For me this was a puzzle of two halves as well: East, which came easily, and West, which took some doing and intuiting. We've had DAAE before, though I didn't remember it till it was filled in.

Look, that sheep is escaping. REPEN it immediately.

Overall, though, it was fun to suss out the 15's despite the fact they are unwieldy titles.

For me, medium.

Cary in Boulder 1:44 PM  

Well, now. Not just in my wheelhouse, but a fat pitch that I could hit a mile. Thanks Mr. Flinn. I've read all of PKD's novels, at least the ones that came out during his lifetime.

I figured the comments would break down along lines of those who knew and those who didn't. I've been on the "didn't" side way too many times, so I feel for you. To all those "never heard of him, never read him, don't like sci-fi" folks (none of whom read the syndicated comments either, I'm sure): you really should check out Phil Dick. As @Z said, these ain't no shoot'em-up-in-outer-space books. While sometimes overly paranoid, he gives your brain a lot to chew on.

My solving experience was almost identical to @Rex. (Although it would take me longer than four minutes just to fill in in random letters.) I dropped in PEWIT for the bird, just on general principles. Got that fixed when I realized it was RUHR, not RUuR and that the Swiss miss was the gal who famously rained on the end of an exciting NFL game many years ago. Yes, REPEN really re-sucked. Until I cottoned to that one, I was thinking the comedian might be TOM somebody. Tom Lee? Tom Liu? Rebus for Tom Lehrer? Aha, CALLA LILY TOM LIN.

DMG 2:21 PM  

Only one blank square in the middle! Not a bad finish considering I have never heard of the author or his works, and had to rely on guessing for many other unknown people or odd usages. You say ABLEST, I say AptEST, until it doesn't work. At any rate my blank was the crossing of the author's name with BM? Still don't know what BMI is, British Music Inc.? And DAAE, got it, but couldn't believe it! Maybe tomorrow???

Dirigonzo 2:50 PM  

Well, I don't know dick about the titles, the author or most of the proper names in the grid but I still managed to reduce it to one empty square. I figured the STAE_/CAL_A cross was an L or a D but I didn't know which so I left it blank.

@Idahoconnie 2:19 pm said, "I do the syndicated puzzle so get left out of commenting on this site." And yet here we are, commenting on this site.

@ahimsa - "Hello" right back at ya!

Solving in Seattle 4:00 PM  

I really don't know what to say about this tribute to an author about whom I know DI.., er, squat.
OK, I do know what to say: I googled! There, I said it.
When I looked at the clues for 17A & 20A, and 54A & 59A, I impatiently looked them up, thew them down, then finished the puzzle.
I don't want to say anything negative to a debut constructor, but this was like making me attend a composer's debut of an atonal concert. Can't get through it fast enough.
I have never developed an appreciation for science fiction, either in literature or movies, along with vampires, zombies and monsters from the deep.

capcha: greadt. What this puz did on my nerves.

Waxy in Montreal 6:16 PM  

Have to admit I read almost nothing but Sci-Fi back in the 60's (not so much since then) so Philip K. Dick and his works were right in my wheelhouse making this very easy for me. One exception - the STAEL/CALLA intersection was a pure guess but fortunately a correct one.

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