Former Belgian national airline / SUN 11-10-13 / Genus of small rodents / Massenet opera based on Greek myth / S Merkerson four-time NAACP Image Award winning actress / Old camera settings / Massachusetts motto starter / Poem that ends This ghoul haunted woodland of Weir / Jesse Leo of sitcoms / Nickname for Huntington Beach CA / Books in running brooks Shakespeare

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Constructor: Alan Olschwang

Relative difficulty: Medium 


THEME: "Bye-lines" — famous closing-line catchphrases

Theme answers:
  • HIYO SILVER, AWAY!
  • THE BALCONY IS CLOSED
  • TH- TH- TH- TH- THAT'S ALL FOLKS!
  • SAY GOODNIGHT, GRACIE
  • AND MAY GOD BLESS
Word of the Day: ASAS (59A: Old camera settings, for short) —
Based on earlier research work by Loyd Ancile Jones (1884–1954) of Kodak and inspired by the systems of Weston film speed ratings and General Electric film values, the American Standards Association (now named ANSI) defined a new method to determine and specify film speeds of black-and-white negative films in 1943. ASA Z38.2.1-1943 was revised in 1946 and 1947 before the standard grew into ASA PH2.5-1954. Originally, ASA values were frequently referred to as American standard speed numbers or ASA exposure-index numbers. (See also: Exposure Index (EI).)
The ASA scale was arithmetic, that is, a film denoted as having a film speed of 200 ASA was twice as fast as a film with 100 ASA. (wikipedia)
• • •

It is comical how badly edited this puzzle is. Sure, we all enjoy these somewhat-to-very familiar catchphrases (even if there are Only Five Of Them), fine. But the fill!? Not just that, but the Absurd crossings. Honestly, I almost never encounter a completely blind cross (aka "Natick") any more, but I had Two today. Total guess at SABENA (1A: Former Belgian national airline) (!?!?!?! "bygone") / ENO (4D: 2005 Drama Pulitzer finalist Will) (!?!?! "finalist") and again, and worse, at EPATHA (49D: S. ___ Merkerson, four-time N.A.A.C.P. Image Award-winning actress) (!? x one million) / ASAS (59A: Old camera settings, for short) (uh… "old"). Indescribably bad fill crossed in ways that are laughably unfair. HA ha. I mean, I guessed right, but I could easily have guessed wrong, in multiple different ways, in both cases. And that's *knowing* ARIANE (2D: Massenet opera based on Greek myth), which … why would you know that? "Greek myth" *barely* helps. We know her as "Ariadne" if we know her at all. The problem with having good xword-making technology nowadays is that you can Really tell when the constructor doesn't use it. I gotta believe using Compiler (PC) or CrossFire (Mac) would've really, really helped iron the absolutely subpar junk out of this puzzle. Don't Be Afraid of Technology. Most constructors simply can't hang, nowadays, without it. It can't make your puzzles good, or smart, or funny, but it sure as hell can keep you from crossing EPATHA and ASAS, my god is that even real or am I still drunk? Wow.


So, theme was easy, fill somewhat less so. [Genus of small rodents], HA ha. That's an actual clue. The answer is MUS! What year is it? Did Will discover Maleska's Last Puzzle under some old books and just decide "oh what the hell? Run it!"? TBEAM!? Seriously, this stuff is making me laugh out loud now.  I wrote in COSIN for COTAN, OENONE (?) for ARIANE, and CATTAILS for RATTAILS. I think that covers my major hiccups, anyway. Oh, UOMO for HOMO and IPODMINI for IPODNANO. That's all. Folks. Fingers crossed for a better tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I liked SURF CITY (9D: Nickname for Huntington Beach, Calif.). A lot.

85 comments:

The Bard 12:02 AM  

As You Like It , Act I, scene I

OLIVER: Where will the old duke live?

CHARLES: They say he is already in the forest of Arden, and
a many merry men with him; and there they live like
the old Robin Hood of England: they say many young
gentlemen flock to him every day, and fleet the time
carelessly, as they did in the golden world.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
As You Like It , Act II, scene I

[Enter DUKE SENIOR, AMIENS, and two or three Lords,
like foresters]

DUKE SENIOR: Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
'This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.'
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life exempt from public haunt
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones and good in every thing.
I would not change it.

Pete 12:10 AM  

It is my contention, one which I will take to the grave with me, that there are 5 THs, not 4, preceding THATSALLFOLKS in each and every Porky Pig closing.

Will's just getting out of hand lately!

jae 12:16 AM  

Aside from knowing all the bye-lines this was on the tough side for me.  Probably medium over all.   Mostly because of what Rex pointed out about the obscure crosses.  Knew EPATHA from The Shield, but...see below.

The quotes seemed geezer friendly.  Ebert's is the most current.

Needed to guess again on the MUS/ULALUME cross and got lucky again. 

Wasn't OGLALA the opening to "Hooked on a Feeling"?

WOEs (as clued):  ENO, OGLALA, ULALUME, LIA, IVO, MARTA

Liked it if only for the nostalgia and chuckle I got from the 64a.

Evan 12:18 AM  

Not just those two crossings....I thought the MUS/ULALUME cross was cruel, too. I only got it right because I surmised that MUS would be short for "muskrat." Somehow I got all three of those Naticks right -- guessed ENO rather than INO because I've seen the former, and I picked an A from the AS_S EP_THA cross only because I figured it couldn't be an I, otherwise it would've been clued like [Yard sale specification]. If many others guess some other vowel there, it wouldn't surprise me.

Anyway, total lucky guesses on all three. Can't say I'm that happy to have gotten them because of all the sub-par fill everywhere else -- LIA, ENSE, EAP, CO-TAN, LAA, XERO-, SCHUSS, ARIANE, TRAX, OGLALA, AGLET, IVO, OBLA, CROSSE, and didn't we just talk about ASPERSE as a verb last week? I also don't care for the clue for YES IT'S ME since it repeats the word "is" (same reason I don't like a clue such as [Reply to "Who's there"] for IT'S ME....you're repeating IS in the contraction).

So yeah. Not my favorite Sunday. At least I've now learned that those British Yeoman GUARDS are colloquially called "Beefeaters."

Gill I. P. 12:20 AM  

Oh lordy. I haven't disliked a puzzle this much in quite some time.
Yes @Rex - first thing I wrote down was that this feels like the puzzle was constructed sometime in the 70's.
About the only contemporary thing here is EMINEM...!
I couldn't even find Jesse and Leo of TV Sitcoms in Google. EPATHA? Sweetie is TOOTS? Please, never call me TOOTS. 1993 Nirvana album is IN UTERO??? Gaaaah. SABENA stopped flying about 13 years ago.
Finally quit at TH TH TH THE phhhhffft! That's all folks.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:22 AM  

After the long discussion a few days ago, I had no choice but to make my first entry at 80 D "YES IT IS I" before *correcting* to "YES IT'S ME."

Most of @Rex's problem answers were gimmes for me - got SABENA off the . . . NA, for example. I suspect this will be another puzzle highly sensitive to the age of the solver, easier for geezers like me.

clark 12:23 AM  

S. Epatha Merkerson is the only person to have been a regular on both the original "Law & Order" AND "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" (as Reba the Mail Lady)! She heartily deserves a few seconds of crossword fame.

Steve J 12:33 AM  

I so intensely disliked this puzzle that I actually wrote up comments hours before Rex posted. Some of that will show up in a moment, but what I'm laughing most hysterically about is how my original comment so closely matched this from Rex:

"Did Will discover Maleska's Last Puzzle under some old books and just decide "oh what the hell? Run it!"?"

So much Maleska-esque BS. EPATHA, the ARDEN/SELENE crossing, ULALUME, ARIANE, AMATIS. I actually probably should know AMATI, but the rest of it is just stuff for the sake of stuff.

I actually flew on SABENA back in the day, and while it took every cross, as a reasonably accomplished amateur photographer, I recognized ASAS (not that anyone would say that in plural, ever) when it showed up. Those were the only reasons I avoided getting totally bogged down in those sectors. ARDEN/SELENE was also a Natick (and one where I failed to complete without googlig). I'm sure there were others, but I stopped keeping track of all the problematic parts.

Other horrendous stuff:

The general flatness of the cluing (I don't recall a single a-ha moment or any chuckling in a "oh, that's clever" sort of way). Attempts at providing more-contemporary fill (IN UTERO, EMINEM) that were clued in ways that indicated knowledge came largely from Wikipedia, not from firsthand experience. (Just like when I used to write for a living, the mantra was "write what you know", I believe that crosswords should primarily consist of subjects the creator knows; don't try to force something just for the sake of covering broader ground).

Especially irritating: the fact that 32A and 57D, both in answers and clues, were the exact same thing. That's just sloppy construction, and it's further evidence of the bad editing Rex mentions.

Look, while I know I'm one of the counterpart to other posters who can find good in the worst puzzles (i.e., I can find something off in the best of puzzles, although I like to think that I'm ready to lavish praise upon the really good ones), I don't actually relish slagging so whole-heartedly on a puzzle. I know that people who create any puzzles - even ones I consider bad - pull off something that I, to this point, cannot, and I know it sucks having one's work ripped up (I have my own creative outlets, and while I can usually dismiss differences of opinion, harsh criticisms still sting). But I struggle to think of the last time I found a puzzle so completely unsatisfying. Halfway through this, I couldn't have cared less if I finished (for the record, I didn't). It's rare that I find that happening, even on Sundays.

Agreed that SURF CITY is one bit of good, fresh fill. The TANKING/INCENSE/STENGEL triad was pretty good, too. Beyond that? Not at all to my liking.

Questinia 12:40 AM  

Unfair puzzle but enjoyed it.

ELL is flat out wrong as it is a fourth of July, not third. But at least one could know what was being gone for.

Natick City in each quadrant but sussed out each one until DNF in SW with oLALUME and MoS

Although much referred to "former, old or bygone" they could ultimately be gotten by crosses and flexibility of mind. Happy to see Nirvana in a puzzle but together with Eminem they seemed to be token nods at a more modern era.

Knew OGLALA by the watershed.

Say Good Night Q

"Good Night Q"

Steve J 12:42 AM  

@Questinia: "ELL is flat out wrong as it is a fourth of July, not third."

Totally missed that. Will was clearly asleep at the switch with this puzzle.

retired_chemist 12:51 AM  

I am with Bob K. All of Rex's problem answers I knew, except for Will ENO. Geezers rule! That said, I had my own Natick: AVEO/IVO, but I guessed right.

Working my way out of LSD TRIP (98A) took time. Due to the typo EYS ITS ME @ 80D I was faced with _yLONS @ 86A - do people sniff nyLONS in supermarkets? Mine did, momentarily.

Thanks, Mr. Olschwang.

retired_chemist 12:53 AM  

@ Questinia, SteveJ - L is the third letter of July. Clue is fine.

Carole Shmurak 12:54 AM  

I agree with Clark that Epatha was not that obscure. Law & Order was an extremely popular TV show for 20 years and she was on it for about 15.

ELL is the THIRD letter of July. Not one-third as some of you are assuming.

Questinia 12:57 AM  

OOPS!
Sorry @ Steve J for luring you into my error!

Davis 1:14 AM  

Wow. So much about this puzzle made me crazy, with no payoff in return.

First off, this was Natick-city: SABENA stopped flying in 2001 and apparently hasn't been in a puzzle since 1998, so crossings were the only way to get that. Had never heard SCHUSS, but that S was inferrable. But I guessed wrong at the ENO crossing--why wasn't that clued as Brian? ULALUME was not Poe I know, but I got MUS thanks to a video game. So of course I was also left clueless at the EPATHA/EAP crossing.

Anonymous 1:53 AM  

Jesse and Leo didn't show up in google because they weren't a pair of uncles on the same show - Jesse was from Full House, Leo from Seinfeld.

Benko 2:07 AM  

@jae--
Epatha Merkerson wasn't in The Shield. Perhaps you were thinking of CCH Pounder?

Evan 2:22 AM  

@Steve J:

I don't think you have to apologize for how you felt about this puzzle. Getting one's work criticized, even harshly, is part of the deal of putting it out for public consumption. And I think others can recognize that your comments are often astute even if they didn't share your reaction.

Having said that, I disagree with your comment about how those contemporary references were jammed in there just for the sake of covering broader ground. You don't know if it was the constructor's clue or Will's clue. Plus, you don't know whether or not the constructor and editor have first-hand experience with those particular references, but even if they don't, so what? There have been plenty of things I didn't originally know that ended up as an answer or clue in my puzzles. They often went in as answers because I thought they could fit well with fair crossings, and I figured it was interesting information rather than some boring obscurity. Maybe Alan or Will clued IN UTERO as the Nirvana album because they know and like some songs from the album and thought it would make for a fun reference.

If you think the contemporary answers could have been clued in a more interesting way, that's fine. I would simply advise caution about judging the constructor's knowledge base or ascribing motives based on one or two clues and answers.

(And I say all of this as someone who similarly did not enjoy this puzzle.)

jae 3:46 AM  

@Benko -- Of course. I meant Law and Order. I'm often easily confused.

paulsfo 3:48 AM  

I don't think that either ASAS or EPATHA are really obscure given that, if ever bought film back in the day, or watched the opening credits of Law and Order, you're probably seen these words dozens or hundreds of times.
1A/4D, on the other hand.... :)

I didn't like the clue for 52A. If you're not looking for ePa, then clue it as initials, not "monogram" (whether or not it's technically accurate).

I have a private notation for clever clues; today it went unused.

Anonymous 4:52 AM  

SW corner was a cluster %^$##%#$ including OGLALA.

Signed,

Me. 589,775,635th best solver in the known universe!!!

Carola 5:31 AM  

Being old enough to have heard all of the BYE LINES except for Ebert's definitely helped, but I still found this puzzle on the tough side for a Sunday - which I liked. I'm also old enough to remember ASA, but didn't - so wrote in ASo crossing EPoTHA and thus DNF. Overall, I enjoyed the challenge.

@The Bard - Thanks for the Forest of ARDEN passage.

After "To Helen" earlier in the week, I was interested to see the reference to another poem by Poe. Not knowing "ULALUME," I was curious to see whether the MIRAGE - ULALUME - SELENE nexus in the SW corner had more than a crossword connection. This passage seemed to say yes:

    As the star-dials hinted of morn —
At the end of our path a liquescent
    And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
    Arose with a duplicate horn —
Astarte's bediamonded crescent
    Distinct with its duplicate horn.

The "miraculous crescent," however, later proves to be illusory - "the spectre of a planet...This sinfully scintillant planet." Full text of "ULALUME"here.

Sticking with literature - if I might return to yesterday's VASTS, I found a nice quote from George Eliot in Middlemarch. The context is opposition to a proposed new hospital for the community. The narrator comments that "oppositions have the illimitable range of objections at command, which need never stop short at the boundary of knowledge, but can draw forever on the vasts of ignorance."

Steve J 7:04 AM  

@Evan: Very fair point about not knowing the source of the cluing (constructor or editor(. I'm usually careful about that, but I was careless on that point this time around. Better way of saying it: those two answers felt out of place with the tone of the remainder of the puzzle's cultural references, and the cluing was too similar and flat for both.

Rob C 7:20 AM  

Med/Challenging for me. Slow going all the way through. Ended with errors at two of the naticks mentioned aboves.

Agree with Rex and others on the fill. Although, not as strongly. I find something to like in every puzzle. Usually more than one thing.

Last year, Will Shortz commented on another site that he was interested in looking at Sunday-size puzzles with less theme density and a lower word count. This seems to fit that mold. Word count is very low, which I'm sure led to some of the iffy fill.

Didn't like that I was able to figure out the theme from the title. I like the aha moment to come while I'm engaged in the puzzle, not before the pen hits the paper.

Constructor should be commended for including ASPERSE in the puzzle. Brilliant, wonderful, fantastic, etc...
:-)

Jon88 7:34 AM  

There is an argument to be made that a puzzle with minimal theme material should be balanced with harder fill and clues. And there is a discussion to be had about the difference between "hard" and "bad." I knew this puzzle would be slammed for having only 4.5 theme entries (the Skelton is the half), but some other reaction I'm reading here and elsewhere seems unwarranted.

chefbea 7:42 AM  

I liked the puzzle even though I had the same Naticks as everyone else. Loved the clue for July 3rd.

Milford 8:17 AM  

The theme was stated right in the title, so the theme answers were pretty much filled on blindly. Red Skelton's was the only one I needed several crossings, and initially I had HI hO SILVER first.

Hand up for DNF, due to SABiNA/iNO. Knew MUS from years of biology.

I filled in EPATHA easily. I watched the original L&O for years and years. I was mostly annoyed that her first initial "S." was omitted. @clark - thanks for mentioning her Pee Wee's Playhouse credit! I forgot about that. I believe Lawrence Fishburne also was a regular. A cowboy? I think.

Liked IN UTERO as clued. @Questina - I like the idea of using July 4th as a clue for ELL. Even though I groan at these types of clue, yours is much more dastardly!

I fell asleep during the solve, but I also took cold medicine beforehand.

joho 8:51 AM  

Well, @Rex zeroed in on my two big sticking points where the crosses simply were not fair. And I guessed wrong at both ending up with SABiNA and ASoS as the only ASA I know is Gray. I just realized that a bad cross is my biggest negative about *any* puzzle and most definitely this one.

I did love THTHTHTHTHATSALLFOLKS, though.

And the clue for MELONS is great as it's very visual. I always see people in produce smelling the MELONS.

loren muse smith 9:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jberg 9:10 AM  

Come on, you guys, you don't know the Latin names for common genera of rodents? How can you expect to solve puzzles like that?

On the other hand, I blank on car models, so my personal Natick was the AreO IrO crossing. So I finished with one error.

NON-ACID was pretty lame, and while I knew the OGLALA of the Black Hills were different from the aquifer, I still thought there was another L in there. I got those from crosses, but the Chevy stumped me. All I have to say.

loren muse smith 9:11 AM  

I was able to finish most of this, but finally gave up owing to all of the aforementioned CROSSEs. A huge error prevented me from ever seeing the northeast – "set free" for RETAKEN. Never even questioned it.

Jeff Chen – you had to like 23A! Great LAT puzzle this past Oct. 30th!

"Apery" before APING
"Curb" before SNOB – hey, we just sold a house, and I'm inexplicably fascinated with those Million Dollar Listing shows.
"LSD TRIP" before BAD TRIP.
"Grog" before MEAD, appreciating "grog" and GRUB sharing a grid. (I guess "vittles" and not "victuals" alerts us that it's pretty slangy?)

FWIW – I worked one summer on a boat in Alaska and was told that once food is on a boat, it's GRUB, and THTHTHTHTHAT'S that. Also – rope, on a boat, is "line." Your day is now complete.

CAJOLE and AMBLE are just great words. My husband AMBLES. I dart. I don't think we ever CAJOLE.

Growing up, our bathroom always had what we called a RAT-TAIL comb. And a styptic pencil, wash rags, bobby pins, and a red hot-water bottle. And Mom wore ear bobs.

I immediately got ELL for "third of July" but really, really like @Questinia's "fourth" clue, too. "Fifth of vodka?" Take your pick, constructors. Morning, @Steve J. I know you hate those.

We're still seeing pronoun case questions with YES IT'S ME. Morning, @Bob K!

Funny – my son and two friends are visiting this weekend from college, and we had Tater TOTs last night. I don't get the clue, though.

The biggest thing I take away from this is SEWED. The other day, my husband said something like, "No one had ever showed me how to budget. . ." and I heard nothing else; showed totally hijacked my mind. Slowly lots of our irregular verbs are taking regular past tenses. Showed, sweeped, dreamed, sewed. . .shown, swept, dreamt, sewn are disappearing. Not RIVEN, though, huh?!

ALAN – (hah!) I loved THTHTHTHTHAT'S ALL FOLKS coming across the middle! And somehow I keep picturing Carol Burnett tugging her earlobe.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:16 AM  

@Milford - Are you doing the puzzle online or on paper? My copy of the magazine has 49 D as "S. ___ Merkerson . . . "

@lms - Thanks for noticing. And BTW,

tot2
tät/
verb
Brit.
verb: tot; 3rd person present: tots; past tense: totted; past participle: totted; gerund or present participle: totting

1.
add up numbers or amounts.
accumulate something over a period of time.
"he has already totted up 89 victories"

Z 9:29 AM  

@Clark - Pee Wee's Playhouse was pure, unfettered genius.

@Jon88 - the line between "hard" and "bad" is highly subjective. I think the dominant opinion here is that "hard clever" is good while "hard obscure" is bad, although there is a minority who still like the "hard obscure," @OISK comes to mind. The occasional obscurity is one thing, but when solvers repeatedly have to play "Guess the Vowel" the puzzle will get slammed.

Things that bugged me:
XERO - Huh, lost an X?
M-S/-LALUME
SAVANT - Huh, lost an idiot?
leek to herB to BULB
Having to think about the label of the gin bottle to come up with GUARDS
INBRED Teletubbies - they're creepy enough already
TOOTS - something caused by beans, definitely not sweet
CAJOLE - not sweet, either
SEWED - SEWN IMHO
SABE - Huh, lost your SAVANT?

Signed,
Your Beautiful Creep

nurturing 9:44 AM  

Such fun! A breezy puzzle with a few ponderables. Got "Epatha" since I've known her name, S. Epatha Merkerson, for a long time through watching Law and Order. I used to say it out loud when I read the credits each episode!

My first write-in was the "Les" in "Les Sylphides". American Ballet Theater is performing it right now during their short fall season!

It was nice to think about Red Skelton...

Milford 9:52 AM  

@Bob K - Thanks, just checked my online puzzle and it indeed did have the S. Totally missed it. I'll blame it on the cold medicine.

AliasZ 10:08 AM  

Finally a Sunday puzzle that was a little more al dente than usual. Too many times we complain that Sunday puzzles have become nothing more than bloated Tuesdays lately: lots of work but not much substance or joy. This time the fill approaches Thursday-ish levels, so what do we do? Complain.

Just because certain words are not in my immediately accessible database file does not mean they are bad fill. I knew SABENA, IVO Andrić, ULALUME, SCHUSS, EPATHA, but I did not know of Nirvana, except as a state of profound peace and lack of suffering, and didn't know if they created anything titled IN UTERO or not, and if so, who cares. I also did not know the Teletubbies and who or what a LAA Laa is or was. Likewise, the Eastern Woodlands (or is it the Black Hills?) native OGLALA was new to me. I knew about the Olmecs and the Mayans, but not much about the TOLTECs. It's time to brush up on my pre-Columbian cultures.

In my mind, the focus of this puzzle was the fill rather than the theme. I agree that the title gave away the theme right off the bat, but they were all 14+ letters, and one spanned the entire grid. That is cool.

I liked this one a lot exactly because it gave me such a hard time. The thrill comes from the chase rather than the easy conquest. For me it does, anyway.

Any puzzle that has terrific entries like: TEATRO alla Scala of Milano, and the family of violin makers, the AMATIS of Cremona, ITALIA, then SCHUSS, MAGENTA, AENEAS, ASPERSES, RIVEN, RATTAILS, TIERODS, SURF CITY and ARIANE, can't be called terrible or old fashioned. Even the overused ENO was clued so it didn't seem like throw-away junk.

To top it off, the very low word count and the unusually high number of 6-letter or higher entries (almost half of the 136) gave me a deeply satisfying solving experience.

Speaking of ARIANE, let me close with the orchestral suite based on the only opera another composer wrote, ARIANE et Barbe-bleue by Paul Dukas, performed by the NBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Arturo Toscanini, the son of Bella ITALIA.

Ciao.

@cascokid 10:08 AM  

MUS musculus, the common mouse, is well known as an early mammalian genome sequence. ULALUME echoes TOHELEN, which appeared here recently, and so was fresh in mind from that previous google. Both were gimmes.

I was done in by INBRED/AMBLE as I preferred INURE/AMULE to the point of blindness.

My second fastest Sunday ever.

jesster 10:35 AM  

Dear nurturing,

If you like "Les Sylphides" as a ballet, you might also enjoy a poem of the same name by the under-read Irish poet Louis MacNeice:

Life in a day: he took his girl to the ballet;
Being shortsighted himself could hardly see it--
The white skirts in the grey
Glade and the swell of the music
Lifting the white sails.

Calyx upon calyx, canterbury bells in the breeze
The flowers on the left mirror to the flowers on the right
And the naked arms above
The powdered faces moving
Like seaweed in a pool.

Now, he thought, we are floating--ageless, oarless-
Now there is no separation, from now on
You will be wearing white
Satin and a red sash
Under the waltzing trees.

But the music stopped, the dancers took their curtain,
The river had come to a lock--a shuffle of programmes--
And we cannot continue down
Stream unless we are ready
To enter the lock and drop.

So they were married--to be the more together--
And found they were never again so much together,
Divided by the morning tea,
By the evening paper,
By children and tradesmen's bills.

Waking at times in the night she found assurance
In his regular breathing but wondered whether
It was really worth it and where
The river had flowed away
And where were the white flowers.

Unknown 10:50 AM  

I LOVED it except for Epatha and Oglala -- but then I'm a geezette who lived in front of TV as a child.

What is ELL? Only defs I know are 1. unit of measure
2. English language learner.

Master Melvin 11:02 AM  

I don't think I've ever seen so many Naticks in one puzzle. Ruined what could have been a good puzzle.

Awful!

quilter1 11:10 AM  

I wanted to see Jimmy Durante's Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

Norm 11:17 AM  

This geezer liked the puzzle, but then I remember ASA film speed ratings and seeing SABENA planes and reading ULALUME, so they weren't Naticks for me (and not a rapper in the entire puzzle, so hooray for that!). Didn't think ARIANE was any more unfair than the often-seen OTELLO (another instance where most are familiar with the character under a different spelling).

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

SABENA was easy; the travel agent's explanations was: Such A Bloody Experience -- Never Again !!!

Z 11:35 AM  

@Unknown - ELL is the letter after kay and before em, as in the rapper EMINEM (M&M). @Norm- apparently you knew the only rapper in the puzzle, even if you didn't know he was a rapper.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

To my ear, Porky is saying "Ibitty ibitty That's all folks"

cascokid 11:49 AM  

Just to add, rumors of the death if ASAS are grossly exaggerated. Modern high-end DSLRs have an ASA setting on the configuration screen. Do you bother to set it? You might want to play around with it, especially for night-time/ existing lit sports pix.

I haven't seen a reference to DIN in years, but digital Leica or Hasselblad owner may report DIN is still around in the German market. The perpetuation of ASA in the DSLR market is further evidence of American cultural imperialism writ, well, rather small.

Norm 11:52 AM  

Z: Good one! I did that corner mainly on the downs and never saw EMINEM -- who is actually about the only rapper I "know" except for ICET (now, apparently, more of an "actor") and DRDRE (or whatever s/he goes by). I feel about most rappers' names the way Rex feels about other gibberish. You're allowed to just throw down a series of random letters and call it a valid answer?

Lojman 12:50 PM  

@Anonymous 11:45 - YES!!! I agree! There is absolutely a B sound in Porky's sign-off. Maybe the script calls for TH-TH-TH-TH-etc, but who cares! The pig says B!!!

Learned XERO when we lived in Salt Lake City and xeriscaped our back yard - gorgeous, if not lush native species. There was nothing quite like driving past an office park in mid-July, watching the sprinklers going full blast in the dry afternoon heat, 90% of the water evaporating before touching the lush green grass. Ah, people.

Wholly unsatisfying. Didn't know or recall most of the sign-offs, no interesting twist or link of hte sign-offs, and the naticky fill created barriers everywhere I went. No need to go on.

Cheers,
Lojman

MetaRex 1:06 PM  

The ESE count at 104 was almost exactly the same this week as in last week's puzz. This one had EPATHA/ASAS, ULALAME/MUS, and other ESE-y crossings, but also had more long fill that doesn't rack up the points on the Eseometer that 3-letter words do...for that matter. EPATHA and ULALAME only rated 1 each on my (imperfect) scale.

Sheila Bell 2:39 PM  

Totally unenjoyable puzzle! Maybe these guys should go back to non computerized construction!

Paucle 2:54 PM  

to add to the S Epatha Merkerson comments: not merely a Law & Order regular, but in fact the longest-running regular character on the series.

paulsfo 2:58 PM  

@MetaRex: what is an "ESE count?"
thanks

Clark 3:06 PM  

[Upper Case C Clark]

I am not the "clark" that commented earlier today. Not that I disagree with the comments of said clark. I was a huge fan of Pee Wee's Playhouse. During my clerkship in Washington Saturday morning usually meant coffee, chocolate croissant, and Pee Wee Herman. (Our favorite character was Tito.)

Ms. S. EPATHA Merkerson was also in Terminator II as the wife of Dyson the scientist. And she is a Golden Globe and an Emmy winner.

Semi-puzzle partner, Barcelona guy, and I transcontinentally Skyped this thing. We got SABENA with no crosses, remembered ASA (64? 200? 400?), and figured out ARIANE without too much trouble (BG is a professional opera orchestra player). But we got naticked at the MUS/ULALUME/SELENE crossing.

August West 3:22 PM  

What year is it? Did Will discover Maleska's Last Puzzle under some old books and just decide "oh what the hell? Run it!"?

Best line ever.

I, too, thought this downright Maleskan, encountering most of the same unknowns Rex and others have highlighted. Generally liked the puzzle, though, as it wasn't just a long Tuesday. Enjoyed the workout. Total guess on MUS, but it worked out.

retired_chemist 3:24 PM  

After all the discussion I still do not see the connection between July 4 and ELL. Would some kind soul explain?

S. EPATHA Merkerson is a name one simply cannot forget. At least I can't.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:28 PM  

One fourth of July, one letter of the word, would be ELL. In the clue as written, July third?, the third letter in the word is ELL.

OISK 3:48 PM  

Don't know where @Z got the idea that I enjoy the obscure. I dislike obscure rock-pop-hip-hop clues, and don't enjoy product references, or references to TV shows I never watched. On the other hand, I don't mind geographical or literary references even when they are obscure to me.
I missed a square , the "U" of Ulalume," and never heard of the Oglala Sioux, but I looked up both of those, and discovered that I had actually read the poem long ago. On the other hand, "Nirvana's (whoever they are) platinum" is leaden to me. And when I missed "We be Sillin' " I had no interest whatever in checking out some 1986 Hip hop song. Some comments about Maleska have popped up. In general, (and excepting Berry and Silk) I PREFER Maleska puzzles, and Weng's as well. I could go a year without a DNF in the Maleska days. I still return to collections of his puzzles now and then; they play harder now of course.

I got the theme clues all immediately, which ought to make for a pleasant puzzle, but I found the rest of the fill annoying, for reasons already cited by others.

OISK 3:49 PM  

Quick apology - "We be sillin'" was from over a week ago; I don't want anyone searching this Sunday's puzzle for it!

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

What a mess! I easily wrote in three of the bye-lines to start with, but most of the puzzle was hard to get, and some of it I never got. Natick City. And I used to enjoy Sunday puzzles. Not any more.

okanaganer 4:13 PM  

I'm of the age to remember vividly 3 of the theme answers--Porky, Red, and Roger--and to have heard of the others. But I have a bit of a quibble with Red's being "AND MAY GOD BLESS". The full version was "GOOD NIGHT AND MAY GOD BLESS", right? For quite a while I had GNITE N GOD BLESS which didn't sound quite right but fit. Also, it made Jimmy Carter and Thomas Jefferson both FARTERs. (Which is not quite as naughty as being a 500 year old dildo collector.)

Davis 4:26 PM  

@cascokid -- I'm not sure about your camera, but mine refers to that setting as ISO, not ASA.

August West 4:27 PM  

@OISK: Never heard of Nirvana? You be illin, dawg.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

Wasn't there an Uncle Jesse on DDuks of Hazard too?

Michael Hanko 4:47 PM  

@Anonymous 11:45: Yes! A recurring gag in these cartoons was Porky's trying unsuccessfully to get out a word that brought on his speech impediment [this would never fly in these PC days!] and eventually settling on another, easier-to-pronounce synonym. At the end of the show, he was probably trying to say "Bye-bye" or something like that before switching to "That's all, folks!"

And that's indub-ub-ub-ub, er, surely the truth!

Anonymous 7:46 PM  

DNF for us.
But why?
Perhaps because we are
geezers (who got all the theme answers before any of the cross).
Part B: agree ibitty, ibitty, ibitty is Porky Pig.
Also that hi yo is Lone Ranger and
hi ho is Seven Dwarfs.

D and A

Z 8:15 PM  

@OISK - "I PREFER Maleska puzzles, and Weng's as well. I could go a year without a DNF in the Maleska days." That's where I got the idea. I recall you praising hard puzzles with lots of cultural/literary clues while expressing frustration with rebi and writing words backwards and such. And in no way is this a criticism, just an observation that you prefer a style of crossword that often gets panned here. The world would be a dull and colorless place if we all liked the same thing.

Anonymous 9:06 PM  

Z,

It's just creep.

LaneB 9:16 PM  

T
ToOk me all day while watching SF Niners getting thoroughly whipped by Carolina but finally managed to finish. TIERODS, XERO, REPROS, EAP, TOT and REPROS slowed me almost to a stop, but all' S well that etc.

Anonymous 9:17 PM  

By the way Z, why not accept OISK's observation that you were wrong about the type of puzzle he likes? Why not own up to your error? Platitudes like the world would be dull if we all liked the same thing are silly, and off point.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

sometimes you know stuff, sometimes you don't and sometimes you need to reach down deep and pull it out of your a**. Anyone who complains that "I didn't know this..." is a big baby. Geezers indeed! Do you know about Columbus, The Roman Empire or Beethoven? I love when it's a challenge; even if it messes my time and requires some thought or debate.

Alan 4:33 PM  

I've been doing these things (NYT SUN. puzzles) for a little over 50 years.I had no idea as much time was devoted to analyzing, dissecting and musing over same. Just do them and get on to reading the paper. The latter is the real challenge.

rain forest 7:34 PM  

This puzzle certainly had the pedants get themselves organized to skewer it. Har, as M&A would say. Personally, I liked it quite a bit, and I don't believe I ever did a Maleska puzzle.

S. EPATHA Merkerson is a memorable actor with a memorable name. She was great on Law and Order.

ASA is a method of rating photographic film speed.

I don't point these facts out to show how clever I am. I am merely trying to show that there is no natick involved with that cross. Having said that, clearly naticks arise for individuals unfamiliar with certain terms, something a constructor cannot foresee. So, not a natick for me, but perhaps for someone else, like OFL.

If I ever get as riled up over a puzzle as much as some of the commenters here, shoot me.

BedfordBob 12:45 PM  

I'm an old guy and not a NYT expert but I only had one letter I had to guess at - MoS. I thought it was a fun puzzle. Great fun on a Sunday.

It took me about average time to do, so I'd rate it medium.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

I'm with Evan on the use of "is" in cluing the contracted "is". I've probably seen that before and not cared but today for some reason it bothered me. Probably because Stanford lost last night.

spacecraft 2:29 PM  

I am surprised that so many, including OFL, feel that S. EPATHA Merkerson, an accomplished actress and a regular on "Law and Order," is overly obscure. She's even contemporary. ARIANE? OK, THAT's obscure.

Yes, parts of this one were tough sledding, but doable. I smiled at recalling the familiar farewells, and wish we could have included "With 'wherever you are,' Jimmy Durante:" GOODNIGHTMRSCALABASH. Hey, it's a fifteener. Just sayin'.

Rosalie 4:22 PM  

My second time commenting because I'm inSyndie Land. There are a lot of complaints due to imagined rules. In particular that you should be able to finish without looking anything up. If you find an unfamiliar word when you're reading, do you call the writer unfair or do you look it up? And then there's clues from the wrong era, ie not yours. C'mon folks, suck it up! Consider these puzzles challenges and ENJOY THEM!

Dirigonzo 5:58 PM  

I plugged away at this off and on for most of the afternoon and the only reason I got as close to finishing as I did is because I am old and know all of the "Bye-Lines". In the end I failed in the same area as I did on yesterday's (real time) Saturday puzzle - in the SW corner. I left M_S blank because it could have been any vowel, although after reading the comments I now see how I should have inferred the U. That wouldn't have mattered anyway because I had SolarE in place of SELENE and never even considered that it may be wrong.

I'm probably the only person here for whom LBO was a bleed-over from the Saturday puzzle. (Sometimes I feel like I'm in my own personal episode of Time-TRAX because I leave syndiland once a week - it can get very confusing.)

@Rosalie - I could not agree more!

iedpete - affectionate nickname give to the bomb disposal expert in an infantry unit.

Cary in Boulder 6:35 PM  

I used to play lacrosse and I can assure you I never heard another player refer to his/her equipment as a CROSSE. It's a stick. (But the clue is technically correct.)

LBO? What was that? Got it on the cross, but ...

Left holes at MUS/ULALUME and IVO-AVEO and stuck with REfuSeS instead of RESISTS, which totally screwed that section.

FYI, ASA=ISO these days. Don't know why they changed it.

Like the bye-lines, though.

Dirigonzo 7:09 PM  

@Cary - LBOs are big news on Wall Street these days as they provide another way for the rich to get richer: (from wiki) "LBOs have become very attractive as they usually represent a win-win situation for the financial sponsor and the banks: The financial sponsor can increase the returns on his equity by employing the leverage; banks can make substantially higher margins when supporting the financing of LBOs as compared to usual corporate lending, because the interest chargeable is that much higher."

Warren "Jimmy" Buffett 8:17 PM  

@Cary in Boulder - Leveraged Buy Out

Cary in Boulder 11:12 AM  

Thx, @Diri and Parrothead Wealthy-Pants. Guess I should spend more time reading the WSJ, since the abbreviation wasn't on my radar.

On second thought, I think I'll stick to Zippy comic books.

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

This was the worse ever. I didn't even try to finish and when I looked at your website for some answers I just could figure out, I was glad I'd given up. The clues are awful.

Gary 8:50 AM  

Did you never watch Law and Order? S. Epatha Merkerson was a staple of that show for years! A great actor who deserves to be a NY Crossword clue!

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

Really - what a bunch of whiners- I thought this puzzle was different and clever and I actually learned a few things - so get over it!

Nomad UK 7:14 PM  

just testing...

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