#2 hit by Richard Harris / 3-31-14 / Jane Fonda sci-fi / Ars Poetica

Monday, March 31, 2014

Yay! We're back!  Just like the first ray of sunshine after a long, gray, endless winter. For those who don't know us, we're Liz and Jenny, aka Rex's BFFs. Here's a little more about us: Our spirit animal is an ELK (31A - Antlered animal); our celebrity soulmate is Brad (29A-Of "Moneyball") PITT; if we were a snack food, we'd be a (14A-Triangular chip) DORITO; if we could have any hairstyle, we'd have an (40A-Bushy hairdo) AFRO; the place we should live is (53D- Jakarta's Island) JAVA; if we were a constellation, we'd be (51A-The handle of the Big Dipper is its tail) URSA MAJOR. (Rex hasn't begged us to blog in a while, so we've been killing time taking BuzzFeed quizzes. Don't judge...you know you take them too).

Constructor: Robert Cirillo

Relative difficulty: So easy, even we can do it! (Oh right...that's why we're here)

THEME: MA and PA — All starred clues are 2-word (except for one that is 3-word) phrases where the first word starts with "MA" and the last word starts with "PA"

Word of the Day: SEINFELD

Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998. It lasted nine seasons, and is now in syndication. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself. Set predominantly in an apartment block in Manhattan's Upper West Side in New York City, the show features a handful of Jerry's friends and acquaintances, particularly best friend George Costanza (Jason Alexander), former girlfriend Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and neighbor across the hall Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards).

We know, we know, it's not in the puzzle. But, in addition to taking BuzzFeed quizzes, we've been watching a lot of Seinfeld reruns on the the TV. There are so many references to Seinfeld in the answers. Is Mr. Cirillo a fan? All clues point to YES!

Speaking of Seinfeld...last April, Liz went to LA. On the flight out, she told her husband "If I could meet any star in LA, I'd want to meet Larry David."

Look what happened at baggage claim!!
Theme answers:
  • MAsquerade PArty (16-A: *Where Romeo and Juliet meet)
  • MAssage PArlor (24-A *Often-seedy establishment)
  • MAcarthur PArk (42-A *1978 #1 Donna Summer hit that covered a 1968 #2 hit by Richard Harris)
  • MArdi Gras PArade (56-A *New Orleans event with floats)
Ma and Pa reminds us of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer makes Jerry take his shoes to the Ma and Pa shop to be cleaned or re-soled or something. And Kramer gets a nosebleed, puts his head back, and sees wires sticking out of the ceiling. Somehow the fire marshall gets involved and Ma and Pa can't afford to fix the wires and they skip town with all of Jerry's shoes. Oh, and guess what??!! They don't even have kids! So they're totally not even a Ma or a Pa!!

Seinfeld clues:
  • MAandPA (35-A Rural couple...or what the respective halves of the four starred clues start with) — see above
  • MAssage PArlor (24-A *Often-seedy establishment) — George gets a massage from a male masseuse, and he thinks "it" moved
  • MAcarthur PArk (42-A *1978 #1 Donna Summer hit that covered a 1968 #2 hit by Richard Harris) — Jerry has a box of stuff from his grandparents and in it, is a statute that George wants because, when he was a kid, his parents had the same statue, and he used it as a microphone to sing "Macarthur Park" and accidentally threw it during the finale and it broke.
  • PITT (29-A Brad of Moneyball) — Elaine worked for Mr. Pitt!
That's all for now. For those in the Mid-Atlantic area, join Rex's BFF Liz at the 12th annual Annapolis Book Festival on April 5 from 10-4:30. Until next time, just remember, if we were a 1968 Jane Fonda sic-fi film, we'd be (10D) BARBARELLA; if we were a breakfast food, we'd be an (59A-Yolk's place) EGG; if we were a car, we'd be a (60A-famously available in any color, as long as it was black) MODEL T; and if we were a song, we'd be (46D-a 1961 hit) RAMA LAMA DING DONG!


Moly Shu 12:09 AM  

Great Monday, theme was good, but some of the fill was outstanding. JASPER, EXHUSBAND, STORMSURGE, all excellent.

Slight nit to pick, IM-IN and OPT-IN, maybe there should be an IN-QUEST.

Could not parse MODEL-T for the longest time. Kept wondering what a MO-DELT looked like.

Thanks for the write-up @BFF's

Steve J 12:10 AM  

Anything I write's going to be a massive letdown after that writeup.

Really nice long downs: BARBARELLA, INQUEST, STORM SURGE. Solid fill with a couple small and completely tolerable exceptions (although my pedantic side finds RBIs to be equivalent to PIN number in its redundancy). Theme answers were solid (although I thought of MASQUERADE ball, not PARTY). And I liked some meatier stuff like JASPER Johns, and some nice cluing (like for TRYST and MASSAGE PARLOR). Good Monday.

And, for the record, I didn't think of Seinfeld once while solving.

jae 12:12 AM  

Delightful Mon.  Medium for me.  I can never remember if it's eRDU or URDU, so eRSA required some erasing.   Zippy theme answers, a low dreck grid,  and a couple of very nice long downs,  just about perfect for a Mon.  Liked it.

And  @Liz and Jenny, thanks for the smile!

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

Pretty good. Pretty pretty good.

retired_chemist 12:17 AM  

Good, easy puzzle. Decent theme, reasonable fill, not much dreck to complain about IMO.

UNAPT is, I think, less common than iNAPT, which I had first. But either is correct.

Thanks, Mr. Cirillo.

Moly Shu 12:18 AM  

Forgot to mention the movie that gave us Duran Duran. Another excellent entry.

Billy 12:46 AM  

Hey nice job Rex's BFFs!!!
I don't recall your doing any actual solving in the past although I'm a fair-weather crossword friend, so I wouldn't know, but that's some nice Seinfeld tie-ins!

Anyways, as everyone knows by now, I think NYT Mondays are the only ones worth spending your time on!

Mark 1:19 AM  

Now that's what I call a write-up. I haven't laughed so pleasurably since attending a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest about 8 hours ago.

Clark 1:32 AM  

Good times. Rex's BFFs are back. Yay!

I did my constellation learning with H.A. Rey's book. So I always think of the handle of the big dipper going along the back of the bear's neck to his nose. Follow the curve of the handle and you find Arcturus, the bear-watcher. The herdsman(which includes Arcturus as its brightest star) sits smoking his pipe. And he looks toward the bear's nose, as H.A. Rey pictures it. But I see that the traditional depiction of the bear puts him the other way around, so the clue is legit.

Iftekhar Ahmed 1:43 AM  

Glad to read your post :). It is very informative!

okanaganer 3:05 AM  

Lately I have been trying to do Monday puzzles without looking at the down clues. This is the first one I have ever finished without any wrong letters, and I think it's because today's answers are so solid. Hardly an absurd plural or a nonsensical abbrev. to be found! (ARR and IMS are the only duds).

MACARTHUR PARK was the last answer to fall. I had M----T---PA-- and for a while the best I could come up with was 'MAMA STUCK PAPA', which didn't sound quite right. And the only thing I could remember Richard Harris singing was 'Camelot'.

(Gotta say: that song has the goofiest lyrics ever.)

okanaganer 3:09 AM  

Doh that's a bit ambiguous...by "that song" I meant, of course Macarthur Park, not Camelot.

John Child 4:44 AM  

Lol @okanaganer I did think you meant Camelot and "happy-ever-aftering." MacArthur park is also goofy but in a pompous-psychedelic way that reminds me fondly of the era. You might like SCTV's version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQIJUC2DYrg

Danp 5:37 AM  

A writeup about nothing. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

AliasZ 7:19 AM  

Hello, Newman.

Fine Monday puzzle with an appropriately light and airy theme. I solved it at a MAddening PAce.

MAny PAlatable "MA-AND-PA" MAtched PAirs could've MAde the PArty at this MAsochistic PArade: MAjor PAyne, MAndy PAtinkin and MAnny PAcquiao MAke PAr, together with MArcel MArceau the PAntomime PAradigm, some MArine PArachutists, MArgarine PAckages and MAshed PApayas. Some MAyoral PAlaver MAde it PAst MAssive PAtches of MAmmalian PArasites, MArred by PAndemonium among MAlaysian PArakeets, but I remained MAsked & PAranoid with a touch of MAle PAttern baldness. In the background a MAgical PAssage from Bach's St. MAtthew PAssion MAy be PAraphrased.

A side note on the St. Matthew Passion. It was Felix Mendelssohn who re-introduced the world to the music of the greatest composer who ever lived: Johann Sebastian Bach. His famous performance of the Matthäus-Passion took place in Berlin in 1829. Until then Bach's works were rarely performed outside Leipzig, and he was remembered mostly in scholarly circles. Mendelssohn's revival brought the music of Bach, particularly his large-scale works, to public attention. The appreciation, performance and study of Bach's music have persisted into the present era, and is not showing any signs of diminishing.

But what could be more appropriate for a Monday than Monday Monday by The MAMAs & the PAPAs?

PS. Did anyone notice that PINOT is a rebus for OPT? "P" in O-T.

Z 7:22 AM  

I was getting all excited for M&A with all the U's in Idaho, I thought we might be looking at a record U day.

Favorite Clue - JASPER Johns. Ohhhhh, that kind of pop artist.

Russell Long 7:40 AM  

@okanaganer How dare you denigrate my wedding song! As the saying goes, "let he who's never left a cake out in the rain cast the first stone...yada yada yada"

L 7:54 AM  

@John Child that's one of my favorite SCTV bits of all time. And it's exactly what popped into my head during the solve. Great Monday!

jberg 7:57 AM  

MACARTHUR PARK (along with "Knock Three Times") is pretty sentimental for me, due to what we were doing when we heard it the first time on the radio, so I liked this OK.

BUT -- the theme should have been something about mothers playing golf -- or else PA should not have been followed by R at every appearance.

Also, JASPER Johns was not really a Pop artist, but that's far less important -- and he's sometimes lumped in with them because he painted flags. That doesn't make him Pop, any more than this painting makes Demuth Pop.

Minor quibbles, though, fun fast Monday, and a fun writeup. Gotta get my TV fixed so I can see what this Seinfeld thing is all about.

loren muse smith 8:12 AM  

I actually thought this was crunchier than most of you. I finished, but it wasn't the easiest of Mondays for me. Go figure. I liked the theme and the bonus long down STORM SURGE.

Am I wrong? Is this our own @Rob C? I can't remember.

My only major pain was not knowing/remembering MACARTHUR PARK. I just youtubed it, and it is vaguely familiar. @jberg – MACARTHUR PARK was a bit later than "Knock Three Times," right? I certainly remember what I was doing when *that* song was on – trying my darndest to rollerskate all bouncy and dancyish like Barbara W, Sharon, N, and the rest of the queen bee posse. I just never could skate that way, and frankly I think it kept me from advancing further up in the echelon of Middle School Cool Girls.

@jae – you're with Dad on the URDU remembering. He says he always thinks it starts with an A.

Possibly *the* best soup I've ever had was on Long Island in the Bahamas at this tiny restaurant that was really just someone's house. It was Chicken SOUSE, and it was so good, you just wanted to turn around and slap someone.

I kind of stumbled on DISH – "food serving." Maybe I'm not seeing it – as in a DISH of stew? In my language, it's a DISH of pet food, but a bowl or plate of people food. And my way is always the correct way.

@AliasZ – good catch on the PINOT/OPTIN anagram.

@retired_chemist – add inept to the list. Oh, and I tried my best to decipher your riddle yesterday - kUdos to M&A for seeing it. Clever!!

As to the disappearance of posts yesterday– I never saw the ones that vanished, but it has happened to me before, and the first time, I emailed Michael because I was afraid I had said something wrong. He told me he had not deleted my post, that he tries to delete only obvious spam or massively inappropriate posts.

Time to SOP up some EGGs – no pancake making for me, buddy.

Oh, and DEBUG – I wish I knew more about computers; mine certainly has several viruses – shady pop-up ads, weird screen font sizes, periodic freezes. . . Half the time, I just want to toss it on the manure paisle.

Hey, Rob – fine Monday puzzle. Shukria!

MountainManZach 8:15 AM  

"____ Lama Ding Dong"

Did anyone else want DALAI there?

joho 8:25 AM  

@jberg, or should I say Eagle Eye regarding all the PAs actually being PARs. It's hard to imagine that wasn't on purpose. Perhaps to make the theme even tighter with all those PARallel PARs?

Anyone else see the MA in MAJOR? Or the PA in APPAREL? And they met right in the middle at that cross.

@Steve J, I would have to join you at the MASQUERADE ball.

I loved opening with such interesting words as IMAX/EXHUSBAND/MASQUERADE ... definitely got the puzzle off to a good start.

Fun Monday with a fun write-up! Thanks, Robert & BFFs!

evil doug 8:32 AM  

ESTELLE: I feel a draft. (Grabs the bread basket and her drink) Let's change tables.

FRANK: Get outta here! We have a booth.

ESTELLE: Frank, I'm cold!

FRANK: Order a hot dish.

I took my own post down. Started to make up some of those puzzle gags, saw it was too easy, and bailed.



Z 8:34 AM  

@MountainManZach - No, but I wish I had.

Gill I. P. 8:35 AM  

@joho - wow - good eye you have...
I thought this was a terrific Monday puzzle.
My only burp was not knowing MACARTHey PARK (Hi OISK) which gave me eNAPT and yAMA. That KINK was straightened out zippity fast though.
Fun write up and great puzzle - perfect Monday.

dk 8:55 AM  

🌕🌕🌕(3 Moons)

Favorite church dodge in the young dk household was watching Ma and Pa Kettle on channel 3 in Upstate NY. Francis the talking mule was right up there as well. We would whine….. mom this is the good part we cannot leave now. At times exasperated mom would relent. We would silently high 5.

Once on a BBQ at a former three initialed work place I wore a JASPER Johns target t-shirt. The resulting photo was similar to the deer cartoon with the too bad about the birthmark gag line.

Smooth Monday outing.

Casco Kid 9:06 AM  

As @okanaganer and @john child have may agree, this is excellent excuse to revisit the Richard Harris MACARTHURPARK, a song that begat the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore show (gotsta've) and taught Barry Manilow that you can add a key change at the end of any song to create a "heightened experience."

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain

I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again, oh noooooo

Oh noooooo! What a parody of poetry! I had no idea who sang that song (op cit, yesterday) but I imagined it was a blind-drunk Glen Campbell or Gordon Lightfoot. Now I learn it was the actor Richard Harris trying desperately to prove to the world that while the Broadway Camelot may have ended Richard Burton's vocal career, the movie Camelot would only launch his. Never mind that the second to last key change made him a STILETTO falsetto and the last one needed dubbing by a choir of studio sopranos. (Thanks @john child for the SCTV video spoof-proof of same.)

Just checked the Donna Summer version. The great DIVA herself could not save the song, but the disco beat didn't really hurt it. At least she could hit the high notes.

Oh, the puzzle? ADUE is new and MIDI, too. Fine puzzle and sassy write up. Rex attracts talent, that's for sure. I'll stick around in the kindergarten class. I'm liking the substitute teachers more and more.

And if you never tire of bad singing from tough-guy actors, there's Paint Your Wagon:

http://youtu.be/nn8YubD01sk Clint Eastwood

http://youtu.be/XuEiwrISIiU Lee Marvin

Lee wins.

Rob C 9:08 AM  

Hi all. This is Rob C. Thanks for the nice comments on the puzzle. I don't like that MARDI GRAS PARADE is three words either, but it was such a good phrase I wanted to include it. I reasoned that, at least in reference to the event, you'd never hear one without the other.

Will returned the original draft of this puzzle for some revisions. My one regret is that in reworking it, I lost the words GYRATE and REAR which had been right next to each other (yes, deep down I'm still 13 years old). A link to the original grid is attached at Jeff Chen's xwordinfo site.

@BFFs - thanks for the nice (I think?) write-up

@jberg - Good catch with the PARs. I did know that when I sent it in, but didn't think anyone else would notice or care.

@LMS - yes, I am your fellow Rexite Rob C. However, I haven't posted in a few months - busy with work and other stuff. So, at this point I may just be an honorary Rexite. But I still read and enjoy everyone's comments.

chefbea 9:17 AM  

Welcome back girls..great writ up. Easy fun puzzle, and thanks @Rob C for chiming in.

The first modern painting we ever owned was by Jasper Johns "Painting with Ruler and Gray"

Questinia 9:19 AM  

BARBARELLA. Hoochie Mama.


Elle54 9:56 AM  

Serenity NOW! Loved your write up! So funny that you met Larry David!

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

NO ONE refers to where Romeo & Juliet meet as a "Masquerade PARTY."

It's always "Masquerade BALL."

RnRGhost57 10:08 AM  

A fun Monday puzzle and an energetic write-up. Haven't seen that many exclamation points since I had classmates sign my senior yearbook. Thanks fer the chuckles ladies.

John V 10:11 AM  

Good puz. Did not know that about MacArthur Park, which, IMHO, does not pass the breakfast test.

Milford 10:13 AM  

I'll come clean and admit that I DNF this easy Monday - I wrote in MACARTHey PARK and never really checked the crosses, I guess. eNAPT and yAMA (lama ding dong) must have looked plausible. I may have actually been thinking of "Shama Lama Ding Dong" from Otis Day and the Knights in "Animal House" ("Do you mind if we dance with your dates?").

Now that I realize that it's MACARTHUR PARK, and have become aware of which song it is, I am terrified I will have it as an earworm all day now ("Oh, noooooo!").

I really liked EX-HUSBAND in the MA AND PA-themed puzzle. Also, MPAA is sort of a MA-PA anagram!

We try not to have too much junk food in our house, but when a bag of taco-flavored DORITOS sneaks in, it doesn't live to see the next day.

@lms - I see what you are saying about a DISH of food - it's clued as a "serving", and I guess I took it as the entire DISH that gets served to everyone, not the individual serving. But we also will each have a DISH of ice cream (which technically we serve in our otherwise-unused tea cups, so I have no idea why we say dish).

Adam vs. ALAN Arkin - gotta wait for those crosses.

I know that the front lip of the dipper in URSA MAJOR will point to the North Star, which is then the "handle" tip of Ursa Minor, but in my neck of the woods you can not see it very well.

Thanks BFFs for the write up!

Susan McConnell 10:14 AM  

Loved this Monday puzzle! Monday easiness but with lost of beautiful long answers,

Oh, MACARTHUR PARK! So much nostalgia! It was the signature song of our competitive marching band, and man, We Were Awesome! We are always in demand for regional parades, and even won the opportunity to travel to Disney World and appear in their Bicentennial celebration. Yes, I'm dating myself.

In addition to the versions previously mentioned, Andy Williams did one...kind of on the tame side compared to the others. My favorite is the instrumental version by the incredible Maynard Ferguson and his band. I feel my Monday playlist coming together.

quilter1 10:28 AM  

Appreciated the easy and original Monday. Sadly, when we drive past MCARTHUR PARK when visiting LA it has become a vast homeless shelter. I wonder what Will has in store for April Fools Day.

tensace 10:35 AM  

@okanaganer: I thought I was just weird for trying to solve Monday with only one direction of clues. I guess weirdness loves company.

As to MACARTHURPARK that was for me a gimme. It has likely the worst lyrics ever written and surely the one oddest groaner ever:

"MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain

I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again, oh noooooo"

Oh NOooooo indeed. Someone left the CAKE OUT IN THE RAIN. What the…??? Must have been Richard's coke years or booze years or both.


mac 10:56 AM  

I was looking forward to the BFF's! Nice write-uo, ladies!

Very good Monday, medium for me. Pure luck to write down MacArthur instead of MacArthey, I think I remembered the Rama.

MPAA is new to me, but all the fair crosses filled it in.

Thanks, RobC, congratulations!

Steve J 11:05 AM  

I've never actually paid any attention to the lyrics of MACARTHUR PARK until today. Wow. Mind-bogglingly awful. No wonder it shows up on worst-song-ever lists. I thought it was just because the music was so cheesily melodramatic. The whole song's so awful it almost makes me love it. It's like the Plan 9 from Outer Space of pop.

@retired_chemist: Hand up for iNAPT here, too.

@Loren: Side dish. Dish of ice cream (smaller than a bowl of ice cream, where I come from). And, speaking of where I came from (Minnesota), there's the local parlance (much hated by me) of calling a casserole "hot dish", as in:

"What are you bringing to the potluck?"

"I'm bringing hot dish."

Note that to be proper hot dish, no matter the other ingredients, it must always contain copious amounts of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

As a former massage therapist, I resent the implication that massage parlors are "often" seedy establishments. "Sometimes," maybe, but no longer often. This is a well-respected profession which helps millions of people!

Ludyjynn 11:42 AM  

I had the pleasure of seeing Richard EXHUSBAND Burton play the King in a 1984 revival of "Camelot" at Lincoln Center in NYC. Probably the most charismatic performer I have seen in person my entire life. True, he could not sing a lick, had bony legs protruding from his stockinged pantaloons, and an acne-scarred visage, BUT whenever and wherever he walked onstage, he had every eye in the sell-out audience upon him. All other actors just melted into the background when he opened his mouth and uttered a single line. I whispered to my companion that I understood Liz' attraction to him...the man could read from the phone book and transfix you with his voice!

At the end of the show, there was a standing ovation for him. He motioned for us all to re-take our seats and proceeded to honor the rest of the cast, including a lowly member of the chorus, who he picked out of the line of actors standing in the back row. He took the man's hand and told the audience to keep an eye out for this guy, who was leaving the show to take on the lead in a new play called "Che". The actor's name...Mandy Patinkin. He then took his final bow, hand in hand with Mandy. Talk about a class act!

Thanks for the memory, RC.

evil doug 11:43 AM  

I resent it when there isn't a happy ending.


Masked and Parnonym007Us 11:46 AM  

Good MonPuz, @Rob C. 'Bout time the Kettles got some recognition, around here. And good to hear from U, again, too.

Especial likes:
* Extra themer MPAA.
* Seven U's.
* How U laid/layed/lied/ludd down the J and Q, and then wisely pulled back from the pangram, not knowing that there'd be friendly BFFs here today to greet yer grid.
* EXHUSBAND. Yep. Only logical way to clue it, was with Liz. She hated to be called Liz, tho. Or spouse, evidently.
* URSAMAJOR. Dude. Really nice bonus long Across entries. thUmbsUp.
* BARBARELLA. Gave schlock flicks a good name. Briefly.
* GOO. Rhymes with URDU, too.
* KINK. "Girl, I want to be with U... All Day and All of the Night..." But I digress.
* MODELT. Info on who stacked that last deck?

Anyhoo, great puz work. Thanx.

p.s. JAMES BOT will return, in
"Agent 007-U Drums the Kettles"

p.p.s.s. A little holiday-eve cheer, here:

Two Ponies 12:04 PM  

Nice Monday. Good one Rob C!

To the offended therapist at 11:11
if you want to see some seedy massage parlors (and I think the addition of parlor fits the clue) then come on down to Vegas! We also have 24 hour foot massage "parlors". How suspicious is that?

Lewis 12:16 PM  

Great Monday theme, lots of spark and freshness. It felt like an Acme puzzle!

Bob Kerfuffle 12:22 PM  

Very good puzzle; very good write-up!

Bob Kerfuffle 12:38 PM  

@M&A _ After 10:43, with some cheating (this time I just used the "reveal incorrect letter" function to work down the six or seven letters I was off) got the grid filled correctly, though 3 D remains a mystery to me.

But as the Platters said, "Only U" can make a puzzle like this!

Bob Kerfuffle 12:41 PM  

Oh, darn! As sometimes happens, as soon as I typed "I don't get it", I got it! I was just trying to be fast instead of seeing the overall pattern.

As usual, the M&A puzzle is perfectly consistent within its structure!

JTHurst 12:41 PM  

I guess the puzzle was OK but when it clued Barbarella my brain pan went to jello because the movie was directed by a hero of mine during my raging hormonal youth. He was the epitome of "cool'. Roger Vadim. He was not particularly handsome but rugged in a downhill slalom skier way. His father was a French diplomat and his friend Andre Gide did not like the first book he wrote and set him up in films. While an excellent director, we jugendlicher idolized him for his choice of wives and girlfriends. None of his early wives and/or girlfriends were over 30 years old. As he got much older the ages of his lady friends increased up into the 30s. And when he died in 2000 at the age of 72 his ex wives and current wife were all at his funeral. That was a man.

Brigitte Bardot (W) - 18 (And God Created Woman - still the sexiest movie ever made. OK, Maybe Last Tango in Paris is a close second)

Annette Stroyberg (W) - 22 Danish actress in Les Liaisons Dangereuses (remade later with Glenn Close and Malkovich)

Jane Fonda (W) - 28 - Barbarella

Catherine Schneider (W) - socialite

Catherine Deneuve - French actress, had his child.

Angie Dickerson - girl friend

Ursula Andress - 18 - Honey Rider in the movie Dr. No (met during filming of una americano a roma)

Mohair Sam 12:46 PM  

Dave Barry's 1993 survey found MACARTHURPARK the worst song ever. His 1993 Miami Herald column on the subject is worth googling (sorry, I don't know how to insert links). Barry eventually wrote a book on the subject, people enjoy this madness.

Very nice medium Monday puzzle with a fun theme. Nifty write-up from Rex's BFF's too.

M and Also 12:58 PM  

@BobK: I prefer to think of my runtpuzs as "perfectly inconsistent" within their structure. Happy U-know-what. ...also, happy 34-Across clue nod!! MAANDPA about as close as **I'll** ever come.

p.s. And Big Congrats on your buzzer-beater, edgin M&A out on the retired_chemist riddle. Lost valuable nanoseconds, plowin thru four or five really buttugly captchas. See what @muse did? Overlooks the dude who took her out to the nice Brooklunch, and credits the second-place snotpicker who went all craven and stood er up. day-um.

@the gal with the many Ponies: PuzEatinSpouse sees nothin at all wrong in the world with 24-hr foot rub joints. She is addicted.

@Collins dude (ex-pewit-grudge constructioneer): Alas, the curse of M&A rootin for the Michigan teams comes thru...


lawprof 12:59 PM  

Seems that most folks rate a puzzle's difficulty by the time it takes them to complete it: fast = easy; slow = difficult. The day of the week is also a factor so that, e.g., a 10-minute Monday and a 1-hour Saturday might both be rated easy.

I find myself using a different standard. Like @okanaganer suggests, an easy puzzle is one that can be solved using only the across clues. To the extent that one must consult the downs, the puzzle becomes increasingly difficult. Of course, the "time" standard and the "resort to downs" standard are highly correlated, but the latter affords (at least for me) a more visceral test of the puzzle's difficulty. So, in this case, medium for a Monday.

As awful as Macarthur Park's lyrics are, the image of that cake left out in the rain is one that will persist forever. Most awfulness is forgettable; some is classic.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

I used to be jealous that you are Rex's BFFS. Now, it is obvious it is because you met LD!

Carola 2:25 PM  

A gem. I loved how the "rural couple" didn't stay down on the farm but got around to all kinds of places.

Thank you, @Robert Cirillo - this was a real treat.

foxaroni 2:35 PM  

The clue for "Masquerade Party" may be iffy, but the phrase has some history. There was a TV show in the '50s called "Masquerade Party." The list of people involved reads like a "Who's Who" of early game shows. Google "masquerade party tv show" or go straight to Wikipedia for more details.

I'm sure a clue such as "early TV game show" would have generated far more complaints than the one used.

Arco maCarthur Massages 2:50 PM  

@ludyjynn 11:42
Great story AND MAndy PAtinkin fits this theme!!!

Great great puzzle tho working backwards without reading the clue I started writing in MAcysdayPARADE which makes no sense.

And hand up for thinking BALL better than PArty, but minor stretch.
@Rob C
The PAr was good consistency if not conscious, as @joho said it MAde it PArallel and above par! Or below, whichever is the compliment.
Also I think MARDIGRAS is always said as one concept so it didn't "read" as three words.

Like folks pointing out the MAPA/MPAA OPTIN/PINOT anagramming, that kind of close, but positive, read of the puzzle is fabulous!

Nice sprinkling of Js and Ks and X. EXHUSBAND is a wonderful long nontheme entry!

(thanks for the shoutout, @Lewis 12:13, tho change the byline and this might've been torn to shreds by some!)

Loved the puzzle, loved the pic of Larry David and the Seinfeldian write up!!! Very funny, gals!

Benko 3:04 PM  

I always hear the Waylon Jennings version in my head when I think of "MacArthur Park." In his version, the symbolism of the cake out in the rain as a disintegrating relationship seems far clearer.
Interestingly (to me), the song was originally intended to be performed by the Association, but they refused to record it.

David IN CA 3:55 PM  

Wonderful puzzle, yes. But a couple nits:
APED=PARROTED? NOT! Sure they both mean imitated, but I don't think you would ever replace one with the other. Parroting is verbal, aping is physical.

@Two Ponies
I have to side with the offended massage therapist @11:11. to say "often-seedy" really implies a predominance. Perhaps if it had been qualified with "in Las Vegas" that would have been reasonable.

re. Macarthur Park:
Perhaps my favorite Bulwer-Lytton contest entry from the 90's:
"She was as unhappy as when someone puts your cake out in the rain, and all the sweet green icing flows down and then you lose the recipe, and on top of that you can't sing worth a damn."

Penna Resident 4:17 PM  

this may seem a subtle point, and outright errors in clues are uncommon, but by shortening 60A "car famously available in any color, as long as it was black" is like play it again sam.

what ford actually said was "any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.". i always felt the importance of stating it in this way was that a person could get the color he wants - as long as the color that he wants is black. eliminating these words seems to make no sense.

sanfranman59 4:19 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)

Mon 6:04, 6:12, 0.98, 38%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:13, 3:58, 1.06, 79%, Medium-Challenging

@lawprof ... both Rex's and the ratings I post are relative difficulty ratings and take into account the day of the week. While I agree that solve time is not the only indicator of a puzzle's difficulty, I think it's a pretty decent proxy as long as you adjust in some way for the day of the week. But I've always been a numbers guy (a statistician/data manager by trade), so I bring that bias to the table.

That said, I'm having a hard time understanding why this puzzle is rating as difficult as it is. The Top 100 rating will most likely wind up in the Medium range by day's end. I went right through it with hardly a pause and ended up with my 5th fastest Monday since I began recording my solve times 5 years ago. I guess I was just in tune with the constructor.

Fred Romagnolo 4:22 PM  

I've only started doing Mon. & Tues. NYT puzzles since I joined this blog. Many of you have become distinct personalities to me, and I enjoy spending time with you. I really like the idea of limiting clues to just the "acrosses," will start tomorrow.

David IN CA 4:34 PM  

hmmm...was I offensive? Me comment it hath vanished!
A wonderful puzzle, but picking nits, APED is not a suitable replacement for PARROTED, even if they both mean imitated - one is physical, the other verbal.

Also must side with the offended massager @11:11. Saying "often-seedy" implies a predominance I think, which is hardly the case. Like saying "often-dishonest profession" for lawyer might annoy quite a few honest lawyers.

re. MacArthur Park: wonderful entry to the Bulwer-Lytton bad-writing contest years back: "She was as unhappy as when someone puts your cake out in the rain, and all the sweet green icing flows down and then you lose the recipe, and on top of that you can't sing worth a damn."

retired_chemist 4:52 PM  

@lms - I left inept out because it did not fit the clue. The ones I mentioned did.

Benko 4:53 PM  

@penna resident-- Although Ford claimed to have said that in his autobiography, it's unlikely that he actually did. The earliest Model T's were available in a variety of colors--black not being one of them, in the first year. Later, for a period, Model T's were only available in black because it was cheaper for the Ford manufacturing process, but that was after Ford claimed to have said that famous saying (he claimed it was in 1909).
As he also said, "History is more or less bunk."

Penna Resident 5:23 PM  

@Benko. i was referring to the quote in his book, not the claim regarding when he had said it. according to him, he made the statement in 2009 in response to having too many colors available previously. he was complaining that people had too much choice and didnt need it because they didnt understand the choices they were making.

the bottom line is that he did say it in the book, which makes it a valid quote. my point was that what he wrote is often misquoted, including here.

Z 5:49 PM  

@Penna Resident - as with so many other things (though certainly not all) Mr. Ford is ahead of his time. One of Steve Job's secrets at Apple was keeping to the rule of 3. In any particular product line Apple will give it's customers three choices. Early this was restriction of the customers' choices were oft criticized. Nothing shuts up the critics as much as success. Still, I don't see any real difference between your version of the Ford quote and the puzzle's.

@David in CA - For the second day in a row I see an email follow-up from a commenter saying their post has been deleted. I just looked and I see no post from you at 4:34, the time the email of your (2nd?) post showed up. I have no clue as to why, other than to say it isn't that you offended the blogmaster.

Z 5:51 PM  

I have no idea how "this" became "this was." The 5 beers at the ball game cannot have been the reason.

Rob C 6:31 PM  

Thanks again for all the nice comments. I'm glad everyone seems to have enjoyed it.

I really wanted to get MAndy PAtinkin in there as a theme answer b/c my daughter is a big musical theater fan and Evita is one of her favorites. Of course, he was Che. I thought MAxfield PArrish would have been neat too. But there's only so much room.

One last note on the puzzle. The final version I submitted had the following as the NW corner:


I suppose it was changed b/c of the possible Natick at 1A/3D on a Monday.

@Lewis - thanks for the wonderful compliment. that's a lot to live up to.

spacecraft 11:19 AM  

Unforced Scrabbliness, a simple yet dense theme and the huge bonus BARBARELLA make this one a keeper. Wonderfully camp, it gave the feel of a comic book, but filmed live-action instead of animated. And Jane was...fit, as always. Wonder what the now-serious Jane thinks of that moment in her career. Lotsa fun.

Worst entry = UNAPT. It's inept.

Wow, back-to-back quad nines!

rain forest 1:09 PM  

@Casco Kid, Gordon Lightfoot and MACARTHURPARK should not be in the same sentence. Gord rules!

This puzzle ruled as well. INQUiry befor INQUEST, but the rest came mostly from acrosses. Bouncy, "crunchy", fun.

Insane capcha looking at me. Nope, gotta go up against @Spacey's four 9's. Nope, again. Only 8's full of 4's.

DMG 1:54 PM  

Fun puzzle. Can't recall ever hearing the song but I did visit MACARTHURPARK many moons ago, and remember a pretty place with a pond and ducks. Sad to learn that's no longer the case. Tempest does not always fuget in a good way.

Can't beat all those 9's!

Dirigonzo 6:47 PM  

Sometimes on an "easy" puzzle I just throw things against the wall to see what sticks. Stuff that didn't stick today included INQUiry (Hi, @rainy), Dive (DROP) and a couple of misguided attempts at spelling MACARTHUR. All easitly fixed but they made for a "less than pristine" completed grid.

Maybe a pair of 9s and a pair of 5s is better than four 9s on grounds of "diversity"?

Solving in Seattle 7:30 PM  

Dive/DROP & INQUiry/INQUEST also. The 1st, 2nd and 4th MA/PA were kind of related. MACARTHURPARK wasn't.

He went to the MASQUERADEPARTY before the MARDIGRASPARADE then visited the MASSAGEPARLOR.

Fun Monday, Mr. Cirillo.

Four nines beats my boat.

John Dudley 8:24 AM  

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