Small salmon Var / WED 5-7-14 / Will Realistic Joneses playwright / When doubled Billy Idol #1 hit / Pan producer / Tell 1962 hit by Exciters / Daily bread of eyes per Emerson / Letter between sierra uniform / French CD holder

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Constructor: Kurt Mueller

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: "IT'S SHOWTIME!" (63A: Possible title for this puzzle) — theme answers are all "intro words" from famous shows:

Theme answers:
  • "HERE'S JOHNNY!" (17A: Ed McMahon intro words)
  • "A ONE AND A TWO…" (24A: Lawrence Welk intro words)
  • "LIVE FROM NEW YORK …" (39A: Chevy Chase intro words)
  • "AND AWAY WE GO!" (51A: Jackie Gleason intro words)
Word of the Day: Will ENO (33A: Will ___, "The Realistic Joneses" playwright) —
Will Eno is an American playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. His play, Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 2005. […] 
In his Broadway debut, The Realistic Joneses began previews at the Lyceum Theatre on March 13, 2014 and officially opened on April 6, 2014, after a run at the Yale Repertory Theater in 2012. The play is directed by Sam Gold with a cast that stars Michael C. HallToni ColletteMarisa Tomei and Tracy Letts. The New York Times reviewer of the Broadway production wrote: "But don’t come to the play expecting tidy resolutions, clearly drawn narrative arcs or familiarly typed characters. 'The Realistic Joneses' progresses in a series of short scenes that have the shape and rhythms of sketches on 'Saturday Night Live' rather than those of a traditional play. (Most are followed by quick blackouts.) And while the Joneses — all four of them — have all the aspects of normal folks, as their names would suggest, they also possess an uncanny otherness expressed through their stylized, disordered way of communicating... But for all Mr. Eno’s quirks, his words cut to the heart of how we muddle through the worst life can bring." (wikipedia)
• • •

Theme answers were all very easy to get, while the rest of the puzzle was often clued tough and vague. The result was a puzzle of pretty normal Wednesday difficulty. There is some nostalgic joy, perhaps, in recalling these shows, but I found this puzzle a little too straightforward for me, theme-wise, and often choppy and awkward, fill-wise. "LIVE FROM NEW YORK" is a massive outlier, in that all the other examples of "intro words" are the very last words of the intro. But "LIVE FROM NEW YORK…" needs the very crucial, show-identifying words "… IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT!" to be truly parallel with all the others. I feel like Lawrence Welk is an outlier here too, but for reasons that have more to do with taste than anything else. All the other shows involve comedy somehow, and while I realize there are bits on the Lawrence Welk show that pass themselves off as comedy … no. All the other shows are comedically iconic. The Lawrence Welk show, well, isn't. But it is a show, and it was (probably?) on in primetime at some point (as opposed to now, when it is on weekend afternoons on my PBS station), so it's at least defensible, if not clearly fair.

[There's laughter in here, but it's the laughter of the damned…]

Had major, major trouble getting both 1D: Remaining (OTHER) and 2D: Where the action is (ARENA). Neither clue computed. At all. Had -THE- and -REN- and still no idea. Also thought Charles on a piano was looking for a last name, not a (famous) first one (RAY). So my start was very rough. But the initial "AON-" on the Lawrence Welk opener made that one a piece of cake, and once I broke into the middle via the obvious SNL opener, the puzzle got much tamer. I'm startled by the absolute terribleness of COHOE (7D: Small salmon: Var.). You should tear out the whole section before you let an out-and-out loser (never-seen "Var.") like that into your grid. Real, massive, intolerable blemish. Yeah, you've got a bit of a challenge there with the built-in --H-E, but if you can't get something real like TAHOE or OCHRE to work there, then Build The Grid Better so you don't have this problem. Gah. Choppy grid leads to predictable mediocrity in the short stuff: and EELER crossing an ETUI, an EMAG not far from ENO, etc. (what the hell was up with that ENO clue? (33A: Will ___, "The Realistic Joneses" playwright)—ENO is ENO, and making it tough to get, with an absurd "know it or you don't and you probably don't" clue, only makes it More annoying). LOOSE LIPS is a winner, but otherwise, but overall this one comes in slightly less than enjoyable, despite the inherent entertainment value of the themers.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

102 comments:

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

LOOSE LIPS is a winner? First, it's are, and second, LIPS (of any variety) should be firm.

Kim Scudera 12:12 AM  

It's remarkable how much foreign language one needs to solve the NYT -- today we had OUI, RAJ, PANINI, ENTRE, even ARENA, had it been clued differently. That's fine by me, but I do ask that the puzzle get it right. Today for some reason we have AMOR clued as Italian, which would be AMORe, or fine if it were clued as Spanish or Latin. But it wasn't. Argh.

jae 12:14 AM  

Easy for me, but I knew all the intros.  Had AYE aye before SIR and baTTY before DOTTY and that was it for erasures.  Fun theme, some zippy fill...TROU, OH WOW, LOOSE LIPS (WWII), POOP...pretty smooth grid (I'll ignore COHOE),  gotta like it!

So is an ETUI a jewel box (CD holder) ?  I thought it was more for needles, cosmetics and the like?

Lo (see I got it write this time) and behold a new ENO.

Steve J 12:19 AM  

Mostly in agreement with Rex, although I don't have the same nitpicky reaction to the theme answers regarding whether they were all of like genres or like sentence positions. That analysis is way overthinking things. They're all iconic, all part of shows' starts, and all quite old now. And they all fit together.

I also had trouble with 1D and 2D, and also wanted Charles someone, not someone Charles. Also got hung up a bit in the bottom center, where CRITIC and HAREMS would not come to me at all. Didn't help myself with AYE-aye for a while at 48D. Nevertheless, I finished in average Wednesday time.

I also thought LOOSE LIPS was great, both as answer and as clued. Definitely a lot of dodgy short fill. And completely agreed about COHOE. Ughe (var.).

RnRGhost57 12:21 AM  

@jae, like you really enjoyed the new ENO.

Overall, an easy, mellow Wednesday.

Moly Shu 12:28 AM  

Easy again for me, that's 3 days in a row. Either I'm getting much better at this (probably not) or these were just good for me. Less than 11 minutes on a Wednesday is unheard of in this house. Helped that I knew all the theme answers and they went straight in. Seems like I've seen COHOE before, so that wasn't a problem either. Only real hangup I had was at the bottom. Wanted MANTRA to end with an "S", and the clue for CRITIC was killer, and I do mean great. Highlight of the puzzle for me.

@Jae. AYEaye first for me too. Isn't aye aye sir proper ? Also baTTY before DOTTY. Nicely done with the lo.

Anonymous 12:44 AM  

'aye sir' means simply "I understand." The clue specified that an order had been given, however, so the answer MUST be "Aye-Aye" which means "I understand the order and will act on it."

Casco Kid 12:45 AM  

Successful Wednesday, so no complaints. Ok, one complaint: IMCHEVYCHASEANDYOURENOT is Chevy's iconic intro, and even the name of his autobiography.

Elsewhere, Adam Ant got play a few weeks ago, and now Billy Idol makes an appearance. I'm hoping @AliasZ will give us something from Rigoletto inspired by the glam punk baritobe's appearance today. I read the lyrics to "Mony Mony." Go ahead, and ask yourself which came first: the dance beat music or the verblization of lust so primally rendered.

Like Rex, I pondered who Charles Ray was, for about 2 seconds. CHA seems to step between TANGO's legs. That's neat. Like @jae, AYEaye before AYESIR. Also, MotTos before MANTRA. ottER befor EELER. sillY then nuTTY then baTTY then DOTTY.
25 minutes. No googles. Gimme: NOMAR!

GOODNIGHTANDHAVEAPLEASANTYOMORROW.

wreck 12:54 AM  

Pretty straight forward Wednesday in pretty much Wednesday normal time for me. I knew all the "intro" phrases - so not much resistance. Some bad fill, but what puzzle doesn't have some?

Benko 1:35 AM  

I feel like "Where the action is" has been used many times for ARENA. Certainly it was my first entry, with no hesitation.
MONY MONY a was of course first performed by Tommy James and the Shondells, who also provided the original for another 80s remake hit, "Crimson and Clover" redone by Joan Jett.
@anonymous 1st post: "LOOSE LIPS" is one phrase, and it is one crossword answer.

Benko 1:53 AM  

Also, I'd like to register the idea that with the AMOR/LOVE crossing, this puzzle is a proposal at heart: JOHNNY MARRY ME.

Jisvan 1:54 AM  

I remembered all the phrases! But then there was... NOMAR. I Had to Google NOMAR. I'm sure he's a very fine ball player, but I just could not get around that name. (So jealous of Casco Kid!) Otherwise this was a fun 28 minutes Wednesday solve, which is good for me. I for one welcome the EELER, maybe he will catch the two EELs that got into the puzzle last week!

Ellen S 2:14 AM  

Ah, @Jisvan, great idea for the EELER. Maybe he could put the eels he catches into an ETUI.

But despite the EEL appearance (catcher or caught, it's still an EEL), I thought the clues were intelligent and satisfying. Until I read @Rex's writeup. Well, dang, I guess I didn't like the puzzle so much after all.

chefwen 2:16 AM  

Hand up for AYE AYE before it wouldn't work. Jon had a little hissy fit over that one. "I call bullsh*& on that, It's either AYE AYE or AYE AYE SIR" he has not learned to bend with the rules when it comes to puzzles, at least he's trying and finishing Wednesdays with only a little noodge from me. His inner child did like POOP.

Loved the CHA/TANGO crossing, but I am so done with Dancing With the Stars. Time to hang that show out to dry.

Davis 3:43 AM  

I ate my weight in salmon many times over during the years I lived in Seattle, and I never once encountered the supposed variant COHOE. Nuts to that!

John Child 5:07 AM  

I agree with @Moly Shu that this was easy, basically the third Tuesday puzzle in a row this week.

loren muse smith 6:11 AM  

I had three stumbles before I could put this one to rest.

First, I went straight to "How sweet it is" for Jackie's line and couldn't figure why it wouldn't fit. Of course, that wasn't his opener. Sheesh.

Second, for 3D, I guessed "fourth long," wondering how I didn't know that phrase since I have this vast understanding of football. Right.

And lastly, after getting MIT and having _ ROMNE_Y in place for Chevy's line, I couldn't stop parsing it wrong and kept checking various pockets of my memory, thinking, "Really?"

I'm in the "aye aye" first, CHA/TANGO cross-loving group. Also – SHOW crosses LOEW.

I wanted "précis" for RECAPS :-) but didn't know how to plural it. précises? préces?

And, heck, I put in "bol" before SUM. Just cleaned yesterday, but I'm a Comet guy, myself.

So, @Lewis – is OM a MANTRA?

And why does it seem that words with OO seem lively and snappy? LOOSE, POOP, MOOG, SCOOT. Cool.

I enjoyed this trip down memory lane. The reveal is clever and ties it up with a nice bow!

Danp 6:11 AM  

I always thought it was cohoe, except in xwords. Apparently I was wrong. When I googled cohoe, the first four entries were about the fish. The fifth was today's Rex Parker, posted 5 hours earlier.

"It's showtime" evokes Beetlejuice for me. Big plus for that.

Gill I. P. 6:50 AM  

I will always think of Jack Nicholson when I see HERES JOHNNY. That book and movie scared the POOP out of me.
My Grandmother loved Lawrence Welk. She made me watch him every Saturday night when we first arrived in the U.S. Even today, when I happen on him, I smile and want to do a Polka or a CHA cha cha.
@Kim...Me too on AMOR(e)....
Fun easy puzzle and I really want to meet Loveth Anetor and give her some advice on how to get a green card.

Glimmerglass 7:14 AM  

@jisvan: Nomar Garciaparra's first name is his father's name backwards. I'm from New England, so I know stuff like that. Now you won't forget him either.

Susan McConnell 7:56 AM  

What a coincidence, I'm in the market for a good spell caster.

Puzzle was typical Wednesday fare. Cute theme....Rex's comments re: comedies and last words vs first never occurred to me. It holds together as is theme-wise, but yeah, some of that fill was icky.

John V 7:57 AM  

Just fine, but easy, not medium.

Mohair Sam 8:09 AM  

Nitpick of the year award to Rex for his complaints about the theme answers.

Had to guess "O" or "u" for Mr. ENO and OMS, but guessed right. For those of you who prize fresh clues I think "The Realistic Joneses" is as fresh as it gets. Surprised that there was some difficulty with COHOE and RAY, both gimmes here - different strokes I guess.

Liked the puzzle overall, an easy/medium Wednesday for us. The nifty balance of the OO words (MOOG and POOP) allowed us to forgive the dreaded EELER. Great clue for CRITIC, btw.

Whenever we see the word HAREM we think of the wonderful Depp/Brando movie "Don Juan DeMarco". Cult classic in this house.

Beaglelover 8:10 AM  

In the supermarket, cohoe salmon is a staple.
I live in New York and had no trouble with Nomar. He was a great shortstop.

joho 8:21 AM  

I'll bet there is a slew of us who had AYEaye first.

I liked the theme as all the shows are truly memorable and worthy of mentioning. AONEANDATWO can even be funny in a campy sort of way.

Is ITSSHOWTIME Bob Fosse's line?

I loved LOOSELIPS, MARRYME, PANINI, SCOOT, DOTTY and POOP.

I also rounded up some critters: RAY, EEL(ER), RAT, COHOE and ERN.

I wonder if teHeE fits where COHOE is now?

I enjoyed it, thanks, Kurt!

retired_chemist 8:37 AM  

Medium- easy and fun. Hand up for not liking AMOR, for reasons well stated above. I refused to put it in until I had all four crosses.

LFNY-it's SN is a Chevy a Chase signature? I did not know that. I just thought it went with SNL. Thought his was "I'm Chevy Chase and you're not," but it wouldn't fit.

Kind of thought about MONA MONA for 45A, since I have never heard if the correct answer. But SKa, legitimate as it is in Crossworld, just didn't seem right for 38D. Which I didn't know either.

Thanks, Mr. Mueller.

Horace S. Patoot 8:43 AM  

I do not think MANTRAS are words to live by. They are words (even nonsense syllables) chanted during meditation. I wanted MAXIMS or MOTTOS, which would have been closer to the clue.

mac 8:43 AM  

Aye Aye.

Not knowing two out of four theme answers didn't slow me down much. Pretty easy for a Wednesday.

Love the loose lips adage! A little surprised about the harem answer as the settings of Delacroix and Ingres paintings.

@glimmerglas: Is Nomar's father Catalan? The name Roman or Roma is more common around Barcelona. I know three of them.

Everett Wolf 9:08 AM  

I guess my nitpick with the cohoe clue is more about the word "small" since it's actually one of the larger salmons.

Sir Hillary 9:09 AM  

Grid has a New Yorky vibe to me. Did all these shows originate in NYC? Also LIRR and ENO as clued (guessing that was a Shortz addition).

Too many 3s for my taste, and a lot of them junky.

Yep, AYEaye for AYESIR.

Nomar's father is Ramon, not Roman.

Love how the Lawrence Welk entry literally takes TWO to TANGO.

Fred Smith 9:16 AM  

Beagle --

I live in Boston, and have the same trouble with Nomar as I do with Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury. Bought and paid for, by the evil empire.

;-)

-- Fred

quilter1 9:16 AM  

Liked the theme and knew them all so the rest fell easily. Nice middle of the week.

Generic Solver 9:21 AM  

The theme answers were all very comfortably in the wheelhouse of this mid-late Baby Boomer, plus I didn't find the rest of the fill particularly awkward. For once a puzzle where I didn't feel totally out of touch with culture!

Davidph 9:24 AM  

Om is a yoga thing? I know it from Transcendental Meditation.

COIXT RECORDS 9:24 AM  

This blog should really be retitled "Rex Parker Hates the NYT Crossword"

quilter1 9:25 AM  

Also cruciverbalist was an answer on Jeopardy yesterday.

COIXT RECORDS 9:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jberg 9:26 AM  

Umm, @mac, you might want to try spelling NOMAR backwards again...

It was a long time ago, so I didn't trust my memory, but I just checked YouTube and "The Honeymooners" did not open with "And Away We Go." That was just a tag line, along with "One of these days..." and "To the moon!" (Neither very attractive, since they treated domestic abuse as comedy). Welk didn't open his show by counting, either, but he did open particular numbers that way.

Speaking of Welk, this Stan Freberg parody was what helped me get WURLITZER a few days ago. (The parody is 7 minutes long, and probably not funny unless you have watched the show. It was made for audio, but somebody has matched it with various video clips.)

The different meanings of 'settings' in the clues for 35A and 70A was a nice touch!

lawprof 9:27 AM  

Easy-medium for me with four writeovers: StarT/SCOOT; AYEaye/AYESIR; inON/UPON; LOEb/LOEW.

All of the tag-line theme answers were familiar, and their symmetry in the grid (including the revealer) made this puzzle sparkle for me. That, coupled with the superbly vague clue for CRITIC, renders a thumbs up for Mr. Mueller.

I tried to like Nomar Garciaparra, I really did. But his habit of repeatedly fastening, unfastening and refastening his batting glove before and after every pitch before settling into the batter's box annoyed me to distraction. (Query: does every elite athlete named Garcia have an annoying ritual, viz, Sergio Garcia's endless waggling at the tee before every drive? In fairness, he did tone that down in more recent years).

Davidph 9:28 AM  

Oh, and I have a beef with the ATONAL clue. Atonal music doesn't have a key, but it most definitely has harmony.

Carola 9:33 AM  

Fun and easy, except for the NOMAR DOTTY AREA. Thanks to those who pointed out CHA x TANGO and AMOR x LOVE. I also liked CRITIC under SHOW.

@loren - OUI, I also thought about "précis" :)

chefbea 9:43 AM  

I too knew all the intros!!
@Quilter saw cruciverbalist on jeopardy...knew that answer right away,

Loved Bologna sandwiches!!!

Kim Scudera 9:47 AM  

Hand up for AYEaye before AYESIR, and thanks, @Davidph, for tagging the clue on ATONAL.

mac 10:01 AM  

Talking of sandwiches, should the plural of panini be panine?

Doug 10:01 AM  

I actually filled in the first AYE and knew it could be either AYE or SIR, but I went with AYE. That screwed up south central until I got CRITIC. Otherwise I guessed medium for Wednesday. I liked that there was a throwback to Welk and the Exciters. Same era. Finished three in a row pretty quickly this week. Tom'w it will be a lot harder as usual.

dk 10:08 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons)

Remember the night at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park: HERESJOHNNY?

All the theme answers fell like the dominos once a staple of late night TV.

Not so annoyed with the fish as Rex as I know it as COHOE as well.

Last but not least - Any puzzle with POOP in the grid is a big wiener IMB (in my book).

Cue closing seen of Shane: ACME ACME come back ACME. And we all know how that ended.

And, what if I want to be a robot.

OISK 10:09 AM  

Aye aye for me, also, soon repaired. Pretty fair Wednesday; of course I had no idea what Billy Idol sang, despite some vague recollection that there was a song called "mony mony", and really dislike the gratuitous use of a 50 year old pop song by a group I certainly never heard of ( "The exciters"???) to clue "him" . While we are nit-picking, and I thought this was a fine puzzle, I don't think that pansies are actually annuals. Petunias, marigolds, impatiens, sure, but pansies can come back, especially after mild winters. ( a check of Google reveals that some species indeed behave as annuals, and many are grown as annuals. Strictly botanically speaking, they are perennial. So this is a very, very, minor quibble, but marigolds would have been a better clue)

Bob Kerfuffle 10:09 AM  

Really can't explain it, but somehow I found the (grammatically perfectly correct, and correctly clued) 43 A, "Diamond datum", STEAL, a Singular of Convenience, slightly disconcerting, much more so than any Plural of Convenience I have ever encountered.

retired_chemist 10:20 AM  

@ mac - I think so. The singular "Bologna sandwich?" would have been the correct clue.

Steve J 10:21 AM  

@mac and @retired_chemist: PANINI is already plural. The singular in Italian is panino.

Two Ponies 10:24 AM  

I enjoyed remembering the old shows.
The SW took me as long as the rest of the puzzle combined.

@ joho, I remember the Bob Fosse line as well. Loved All That Jazz.

@ dk, Very funny you robot you.

jyocum3 10:30 AM  

This puzzle was clearly meant for older people. A really tough Thursday for me since I didn't know any of the themed clues without massive help. HERESJOHNNY came to me pretty quick, as did the SNL one, but the rest relied completely on crossing answers. Thankfully the rest of the grid wasn't too tough, otherwise it would have played like a Thursday puzzle for me.

I'm really looking forward to a new generation of crossword puzzle creators so I can stop having to worry about pop culture references from 1950-1980, decades before I was born. Ah well, maybe in a few more decades so I can do a puzzle and share that feeling of "Ah, I remember that show/movie/song!"

jyocum3 10:30 AM  

This puzzle was clearly meant for older people. A really tough Thursday for me since I didn't know any of the themed clues without massive help. HERESJOHNNY came to me pretty quick, as did the SNL one, but the rest relied completely on crossing answers. Thankfully the rest of the grid wasn't too tough, otherwise it would have played like a Thursday puzzle for me.

I'm really looking forward to a new generation of crossword puzzle creators so I can stop having to worry about pop culture references from 1950-1980, decades before I was born. Ah well, maybe in a few more decades so I can do a puzzle and share that feeling of "Ah, I remember that show/movie/song!"

Debra Block 10:33 AM  

Jackie Gleason had a variety show on CBS I think on Saturday nights with the June Taylor dancers Live from Miami Beach--there would be a Honeymooners sketch on the show"
my nitpicky comment is that after his opening monologue, before he started introducing the rest of the show, he would say, "Away we go, crook his leg and do a faux soft shoe"--so technically, there was other material before the line...

Arlene 10:42 AM  

For those lamenting not seeing Lawrence Welk in primetime, every age has its advantages.
And I guess being a New Yorker made me appreciate the LIRR clue all the more as well.
It's interesting how certain clues can conjure up images - if you've been there and done that.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

LIRR is easy when you live in Eastern US but not so easy if you live a few thousand miles away. EG what is three letters for a way out of Vancouver. Simple, it is TCH.

pmdm79 10:45 AM  

Davidph (and Kim Scudera: Both of you posted your comments while I was composing mine. You are very correct. I have an additional gripe about today's puzzle. Let me write about my new gripe and thentry to explain the reasoning about your gripe in more detail for those that may not understand exactly why the clue is wrong.

First, I used to watch the Jackie Gleason Show when I was a child. As I remember it, the show began with a dance number with the June Taylor Dances, continued with a Jackie Gleason monolog, and then cut to a commercial. After the commercial, the show would return with the skit(s) of the day. Mr. Gleason would end his monolog requesting some traveling music and then saying the catchphrase 51A. To me, it seems the catchphrase is more a conclusion to the monolog than an introduction to the show. If anything, I would call it an introduction to the commercial ("It's commercial time!") Anyone else remember it that way?

About the atonal clue. Towards the end ot the 19th century, classical music became so chromatic that composers felt they needed to take harmony someplace different. They wanted to continue to compose engaging music, but using techniques transcending the tradition major and minor scales. In The Firebird, at times Igor Stravinsky used a 10 note scale. Some composers used folk song scales (modes). Some experimented with bitonality. It wasn't until around the 1950s that the serial composers seemed to decide that atonal music should be written in an uncompromisingly harsh language. For various reasons, the popular misconception arose that all atonal music sounded like the music being written by the serialists. Based on today's clue for 15A, that misconception persists.

By definition, atonal music is music that does not have a definitive key, a tonal center. By definition, music that has harmony is music that is pleasant to listen to. (The technical musical definition of "harmony" may be different but let's use the common definition.) There is nothing incompatible between atonal music and harmonious music.

Some examples. Franz Lizst wrote an atonal piece that is pleasant enough to listen to. Currently, the Chicago based composer Easley Blackwood has written numerous atonal compositions that avoided harshness. (Try to find a recording of his string quartets.) Alban Berg's last work, a violin concerto written in memory of a beloved child who had just died, is a bit morose because of its subject but is for the most part hardly harsh. But the best examples would be some of Claude Debussey's work. He often used the whole-tone scale which, laking major or minor triads, can lack a tonal center but still be ravishingly beautiful. Listen to the beginning of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun as an example.

Conversely, if composers include many major sevenths, minor seconds, or tone clusters in their composition, they can write tonal music that is extremely harsh and unharmonious. Many listeners would use some music from Bela Bartok's string quartets as examples. Others might point to section of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. I'm not sure I totally agree with these two examples, but the fact remains that tonal music can be written to sound incredibly harsh.

The word "atonal" appears in crosswords not infrequently, I guess because it consists of all very common letters. And you don't want the same clue every time it's used. But one needs to be careful in trying to vary the clue. "Lacking in harmony, at times" or "Lacking in harmony, often" would pass muster. But not today's clue.

Perhaps this comment is more technical than most of you want. Sorry about that. But for those who hoped for the reasoning behind calling the clue wrong, I hope you appreciate my analysis.

In the end, I blame Mr. Shortz for the error. I consider this to be a lazy error.

Danp 10:46 AM  

@jyocum3 - As long as primarily older people rely on the old gray mare (whatever) for news and entertainment, I suspect most NYT puzzles will accomodate them. On line puzzles are the place for you.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

This killed the good streak I'd been having the past few days. Never seen any of the theme shows, and had similar hang-ups as a lot of you: in the slew of AYEAYEs, wanted the proper AMORe spelling, the only ENO that comes to mind is the excellent Brian (coincidentally, his song "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today" has been on my mind, as it's the last day of classes for the term here at my uni) because I'm not up on either my nostalgic television or my contemporary NYC playwrights. Also got stuck on the Cambridge sch. as UK, not USA; crossing with the not-Italian fill didn't help.

Favourites: Robert MOOG, and LOOSE LIPS sink ships.

Can anyone explain the reasoning behind POOP being the "inside dope"?

retired_chemist 10:57 AM  

@ Steve J- I looked it up and you are right about PANINI. So why does a restaurant post a sandwich as a menu item but a PANINI instead of a panino?

Jisvan 11:04 AM  

@Bob K., agree with that, but did like the clue diamond datum for the word abutting FLAW. That's my kind of diamond!
@glimmerglass: thanks for explaining NOMAR. I will remember it now! And I'm grateful my mom named me after her grandmother, her mother and herself without reversing the letters!
@pmdm79: thanks for the music lesson. This is one of the reasons I read the blog. Next you should learn to embed clips.

mac 11:10 AM  

jyocum3:I think we all have gaps in our knowledge, not necessarily related to age.

Now get off my lawn! ;-)

mac 11:13 AM  

Thanks, J.Berg and ret-chem!

Steve J 11:29 AM  

@retired_chemist: Good question. It's probably the same reason American restaurants and diners insist on calling the main course an entrée, even though that word means entrance/start (the rest of the English-speaking world seems to get it right and uses Starters or Entrées to describe the first course, and Mains to describe the main course). English is very good at appropriating foreign words, and very good at doing so incorrectly.

jdv 11:38 AM  

Challenging. Ugh. I had so many missteps in this one: AFAR for LIRR; INON for UPON; DEAL for DRAW; MOTTOS for MANTRA; AYEAYE for AYESIR; EIN for ICH; ITSABOUTTIME for ITSSHOWTIME; BATTY for DOTTY. One of the hazards of trying to go too fast, I guess. Never heard of GRUB or Will ENO.

Wednesday's Child 11:44 AM  

Got the theme answers but was slow to relinquish AYEaye. This added much time to my miserable attempt. I finished but it took me more than 30 minutes.

@Bob K - I like your SOC.

Bad grammer but what about STEAL SUM MONY?

Masked and Anonymo4Us 11:57 AM  

Wanted a YOUVEJUSTCROSSEDOVER or WEWILLCONTROLALLYOUSEEANDHEAR themer. But I was kinda a weird TV kid. And how'bout WHERENODUDEHASGONEBEFORE? Talk about yer showtimes...

Funky fun puz. And its got yer DUDE EMAG. And the always poopular PO*P. Well, hey -- there's yer rodeo.

Do constructioneers often get submitter's remorse? Kinda weird. It's like yer puz is the greatest thing since sliced E-fortified COHO, until U send er out to NYC. Then suddenly U start second-guessin the way U set up the theme, or yer long crossin fill, or that one slightly shady weeject, or... day-um.

Note on FORTYLOVE: For non-tennis pros, game scorin in tennis goes...
LOVE (0)
FIFTEEN (1)
THIRTY (2)
FORTY (3)
GAME (4)
But U have to win the game by two points, tho. So it's possible to still be tied at 500-apiece, say. They call that tied state "deuce". If U are up by 1, and woulda won, except yer only up by one, they call that "ad in", if U are servin, and "ad out" if U ain't servin. And who are these "theys" that dreamt this scorin up? ... Same bunch that came up with the minimum alternate tax worksheet.

But I digress. But my point was gonna be that often, U start off with a real snazzy crossin down fill entry, like HOGCALLS, but then one letter of it don't work down at the bottom, so U change that letter, and end up with GREENPAINT instead. Happens. So, here's a runtpuz, where extra long (8 or bigger) bonus fillins ain't ever gonna be an issue...

www.xwordinfo.com/Solve?id=3282&id2=966

M&A

Bob Kerfuffle 12:07 PM  

@M&A - 4:48; very 12 A.

M and A Nother Dayum Typo 12:10 PM  

p.s.
NUDE EMAG, not DUDE EMAG.

Lewis 12:16 PM  

@davidph and @loren -- OM is a mantra that is often used in meditation (and there are plenty of others as well). In Yoga, quite a few classes begin and/or end with the chanting of OM, which is said to be the underlying sound of the universe.

I liked the theme answers which brought my memory back to some shows I used to love (except I hated Lawrence Welk). I can see how this puzzle would skew difficult to solvers under 30.

Fun fact -- the word ETUI has appeared in the Shortz era 17 times more than the word PTUI.

I like ENO, NANO, and COHOE all in the same neighborhood.

Workmanlike puzzle that got my brain going...

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

His father's name was Roman.

M and Also 12:54 PM  

@BobK: thanx for playin. And for the nice words. Sure beats "your puz is so fat, that..."

@Gill I.P.: Yep. And I was crushed -- crushed, I say --- after already finalizin and committin to my new constructioneer penname, to behold the magnificence of "Loveth Anetor". What a superb handle. Sounds like a mystical anagram. Altho, if Anetor was sposed to be Anteater, then that spell-caster needs to work on his spellin a smudge.

@muse: How's yer hubby's country/city themed crossword comin along? Keep us up to date on its journey to fame and glory. Tell him, "if M&A can submit a puz, anyone can -- cept maybe that Loveth Anteater dude..."
U wouldn't believe the postage these days, on sendin a puz off to the NYT, tho...

M&A

LaneB 1:40 PM  

Decent googleless We'd but failed with CRITICS and OCS cross. Ah we'll....

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

@pmdm79

Thank you for the exposition (I for one...). As an amateur musician, I knew the clue to be a mismatch with the 'answer', and understand atonality (just) enough to have some idea as to the reason(s) why this is so, but I very much appreciate your exposition of the matter, and your examples of variations of atonality as exploring and expanding the limits of tonality. (Though perhaps this is a misapprehension on my part -- this is at the limits of my own understanding.)

@jyocum3

re: your complaints about the 'age' of puzzle references.

If you have not yet checked into them, Rex's list of alternate sites provides links to a trove of wonderful sites, many of them not requiring a subscription. I myself have only recently begun looking into them, and have meant to come here to second Rex's kudos for them, and to point them out for anyone else who might have been oblivious to them but wanting something beyond the rather staid versions of puzzles afforded by the GL. I myself am a mid-Boomer, and don't know most of the music-related clues and answers, and some of the pop/computer game culture items are completely outside my ken, BUT I love the looser feel, the often interesting and unusual answers, the often different ways of cluing standard crossword fare, and especially, the sense of playfulness, the wit, the occasional self-referential cluing, the generally greater sense of fun. They are often a romp, and never a slog.

Being a person of limited means, I know only the puzzles from the sites which are free. I would like to point them out (hoping that this is kosher):

BEQ
Glutton for Pun
Neville Fogarty

And two not linked here:

Eric Birnholz Devil Cross

Ben Tausig's Inkwell Puzzles

... hoping they will afford others here as much pleasure as they have me.

Also -- have not yet done many of these, and don't recall whether they match the above in currency, but they definitely are a pleasure:

Chronicle of Higher Education Crossword

And yes, I discovered these last ones by following links that Rex put in his write-up. I want to thank him for what he is doing to further an awareness of many of the professional and quasi-professional, and less conventional, constructors.

Finally (if I may), a delightful site I happened across -- not for Xwords, but by a constructor well-known here:

Joon Pahk's Guess My Word

If you love words AS words, and would welcome a bit of brain-stretching different from that provided by Xwords -- check it out.

Beatrice

Last Silver Bull Woot 2:33 PM  

more@muse: ... and don't be afraid to lay that "if M&A can make it in NY, anybody can" stuff on yer hubby. Heck, those were almost my spouse's exact words, at breakfast this mornin. I immediately de-ployed the ruy lopez of husband defenses, hangin my head down low until my nose dern near touched the cinnamon rolls. Always evokes sympathy. QED.

M&A

Fred Romagnolo 2:39 PM  

Casco: It's yomorrow, and the weather in San Francisco is ypically lovely. @Kim is right on "amore," and @Steve J is right on "Panini." @Ret C: same reason some people pronounce it "baloney," but this clue is referring to a place, not a sausage; a place that has the oldest university in Europe, and is the gastronomical capital of Italy; it is the capital city of the ancient province of ROMAGNA, or "Greater Rome." @Oisk: I believe that pansies are biennials. @Mac: think of "oda" for harem. @Davidph is right on ATONAL, bad clue.

mathguy 2:41 PM  

Does anyone read these very late posts? We're on vacation in Maui and the Marriott prints up a ten-page Times Digest every morning with the puzzle. I finished it at 8 which is 2 in NYC.

I'm surprised that a puzzle constructor like Rex can expect so much of the theme answers. I thought that they were fine. Good puzzle.

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

As a lover of classical music, I thank you for your excellent explanation contrasting atonal and serial compositions. You have demonstrated how it is possible for me to appreciate the former while not enjoying the later.

bigsteve46 3:09 PM  

ENO/NANO was a perfect Natick for me. I guessed "M" for EMO/NAMO but, in retrospect, I should have intuited "NANO" as a better computer-device type name.

As for NYC-centric clues, this is still the NY Times and it is perfectly reasonable for the puzzle to have a NYC flavor, IMHO.

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

Oops. I mean the latter.

Benko 3:18 PM  

@M&A: little less than a minute on that one. Nice cluing throughout.
Outer Limits was my dad's favorite TV show by the way (twilight Zone 2nd, but I liked it better). Bought him a complete set on DVD like 10 years back.

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

I doubt many in the millennial generation (me) had any success with this. I remember watching Lawrence Welk one time with my great grandma when I was in preschool. SNL is far better known by Chris Farley, Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell, though Chevy Chase was doable. Here's Johnny is from The Shining and Jackie Gleason never existed. So for many of us there as little to no help from the theme leaving a difficult and joyless puzzle.

sanfranman59 4:02 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 9:23, 9:54, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:11, 6:12, 1.00, 49%, Medium

chefbea 4:11 PM  

@Mathguy - I read the posts all day long...and also the next morning to see what people have said while I'm sleeping.
Have fun in Maui...You going to see @chefwen.

DigitalDan 6:13 PM  

Welk used that phrase to count off songs, not to launch his show. That one doesn't actually fit the theme.

Sfingi 8:12 PM  

My problem was a Natick at POOP crosses NOMAR. The 2nd word is sports, but I guess I couldn't say the first if I had a mouthful.

The expressions were nice memories.

As far as the English language, since 1066, it's been half Anglo Saxon and half Old French, with 11% Greek thrown in. Oh, that's more than 100%. Well, since English is twice as big as any other language, let it be >100%. We'll work it out later.

Fred Romagnolo 9:19 PM  

@anon 10:51 am: " I got the straight poop on that one, Boss" expression from the 20's & 30's.

sanfranman59 10:17 PM  

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 6:20, 6:04, 1.04, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:46, 8:32, 1.03, 60%, Medium
Wed 9:22, 9:54, 0.95, 38%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:04, 3:55, 1.04, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:21, 5:15, 1.02, 55%, Medium
Wed 6:07, 6:11, 0.99, 46%, Medium

Wednesday's Child 10:11 AM  

@mathguy - I read the later posts looking for buried treasures.

Corinne Petterson 7:02 PM  

Doesn't help when you don't grow uo with American TV. But very chuffed that I made it through in two days.

MaharajaMack 1:02 PM  

This puzzle wins because the constructor got in a POOP reference and drop TROU. I also liked the clue for CRITIC and ISNT. Hate to see ENO, SUER, EELER, EMAG, ERN, and OMS. And I don't like the Chevy Chase clue because that intro isn't unique to him; every show for the last ~30 years has had that intro, and Chevy didn't do them all.

spacecraft 11:45 AM  

Cool puzz, but the revealer clue should read "Beetlejuice intro words." Since COHOE is easily inferrable, I have no great problem with it. Except for the EELER/ETUI crossing, This one stays AWAY from trite fill, which earns a thumbs-up here.

Weird that TORPEDOES would fit perfectly at 36d; only the clue tag "in an old saying" removes the ambiguity.

My trip to Welkland triggered by the WURLITZERORGAN of the other day continues today. Okay, enough: Turn-a off-a the bubble-a machine-a. PLease-a.

Once again can someone PLEASE fix the syndilink BEFORE the weekend?

Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

We call him "Rex the Wretched Reviewer" in my household. Perhaps there would have been less consternation if the main clues began with: Sentences Associated With or Sayings made by.... That said,I had the same write-overs as many of the above but felt it was an easy one overall.

Ron Diego 10:00 AM PST

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Goodnight, Spacecraft and inky, dinky do to you.

Mrs. C.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Ive sent many puzzles to the NYT, only to be told the theme didn't excite Shortz enough: -(

DMG 2:49 PM  

A trip down memory lane, even if I haven't seen all the shows mentioned. My only hang up was AYEAYE, which left me trying to parse CRyTIC until the light bulb went off. Everyone was into the War Effort in the 40's, and I remember my 4th grade class struggling to make appropriate posters. Mine showed the front half of a ship that was sinking into a craft paper wave, with, of course, the slogan, LOOSELIPSsinkships!

Basra la vista!

DMG 2:57 PM  

Bit by that spell check thingie again. I wrote, or so I thought, "Hasta la vista".

Waxy in Montreal 4:10 PM  

APART from an ENO/NANO personal nattick, thought this was rather easy - and fun, to boot. Loved the theme answers, especially Jackie Gleason's, though in my imperfect memory "Boy, you're a good group tonight" always preceded "And away we go".

The reference to TRENT Lott serves as a reminder as to the very transitory nature of any life in politics - just ask Eric Cantor about that today. Not to mention pro sports where NOMAR is no more.

STEAL SUM MONY is a great line but not so fond of AYESIR for the reasons OTHERs have provided.

LOOSELIPS always reminds me of a tribute to Time Magazine founder Henry Luce years ago that had a title beginning LUCE LIPS.

Solving in Seattle 4:37 PM  

I am also a CRITIC of the missing AYE. nuTTY before DOTTY. There should be a Spacy flag on that one. vALES before DALES. That would've make The Thinker NUnE. Nah.
There are Rodins at the Sam Hill museum in Southern Washington - a worthwhile trip.
Liked HIM in the HAREMS.
Hey @Waxy, what do you think of Ted Cruz eschewing his Canadian citizenship?

Solving in Seattle 4:39 PM  

BTW, no one in the Pacific Northwest spells coho COHOE. Nary a sole.

Dirigonzo 5:09 PM  

So in the NE corner we have a SOT doing the CHA (Cha Cha) and the Tango on his OWN, to MOOG music led by Lawrence Welk (A ONE AND A TWO), all of which culminates with MARRY ME. I had a night like that once.

Waxy in Montreal 5:11 PM  

@SiS, frankly I'm pleased not to be lumped in any longer with him. And it's funny that unlike Obama, Cruz doesn't get any grief from the birthers - no double standard, of course!

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