Leakes of reality TV / WED 12-17-14 / Litotes for beauty / Hairy son of Isaac / Ebenezer's ghostly ex-partner / Ancestor of Gaelic Manx / Reporter's question collectively

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Constructor: Stu Ockman

Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging 

THEME: some rhetorical devices — I don't even know, really...

Theme answers:
  • IT'LL TAKE FOREVER (17A: Hyperbole for an arduous task)
  • MAKE HASTE SLOWLY (22A: Oxymoron for cautious travel)
  • NOT UNATTRACTIVE (45A: Litotes for beauty)
  • AS THICK AS A BRICK (50A: Simile for denseness)
Word of the Day: NENE Leakes (56A: Leakes of reality TV) —
Linnethia Monique "NeNeLeakes (/ˈnn/née Johnson; born December 13, 1967) is an American actress, television personality, producer, author and fashion designer. She is best known for being on the reality television series The Real Housewives of Atlanta, which documents the lives of several women residing in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2013, she was commissioned to star in the spin-off series I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding, which focused on the preparations for her remarriage to husband Gregg Leakes.
Leakes portrayed the recurring character Roz Washington on the sitcom Glee since its third season in 2012, and has also played Rocky Rhoades on the award-winning sitcom The New Normal until its cancellation in 2013. Leakes appeared as a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice 4, where she finished in seventh place in 2011, and the eighteenth season of Dancing with the Stars. It was also announced that Leakes would be joining the cast of Cinderella on Broadway from November 25th, 2014. (wikipedia)
• • •


Hi all. It's time for my week-long, just-once-a-year-I-swear pitch for financial contributions to the blog. If you enjoy (or some other verb) this blog on a regular or fairly regular basis, please consider what the blog is worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. In making this pitch, I'm pledging that the blog will continue to be here for your enjoyment (or some other noun) for at least another calendar year, with a new post up by 9:00am (usually by 12:01am) every day, as usual. I'm in my ninth (!) year of writing about the puzzle every single day, and while there are occasions when the daily grind gets a little wearisome, for the most part I've been surprised by how resilient my passion for solving and talking about crosswords has been. It's energizing to be part of such an enthusiastic and diverse community of solvers, and I'm excited about the coming year (I have reason to be hopeful … mysterious reasons …). Anyway, I appreciate your generosity more than I can say. This year, said generosity allowed me to hire a regular guest blogger, Annabel Thompson, who now brings a fresh, youthful voice to my blog on the first Monday of every month. So thanks for that. As I said last year, I know that some people are opposed to paying for what they can get for free, and still others really don't have money to spare. Both kinds of people are welcome to continue reading my blog, with my compliments. It will always be free. I have no interest in cordoning it off, nor do I have any interest in taking advertising. I value my independence too much. Anyway, if you are so moved, there is a Paypal button in the sidebar, and a mailing address here:

Rex Parker
℅ Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton NY 13905

And here: I'll stick a PayPal button in here for the mobile users.

I assume that worked.

For people who send me actual, honest-to-god (i.e. "snail") mail (I love snail mail!), this year my thank-you cards are "Postcards from Penguin"—each card a different vintage Penguin paperback book cover. Who will be the lucky person who gets … let's see … "Kiss, Kiss" by Roald DAHL? Or "The Case of the Careless Kitten" by ERLE Stanley Gardner? Or the Selected Verse of Heinrich HEINE? It could be you. Or give via PayPal and get a thank-you email. That's cool too. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say so. No problem. Anyway, whatever you choose to do, I remain most grateful for your readership. Now on to the puzzle …

• • •

The best thing about this puzzle is the new, fresh (though totally unknown to me) clue for NENE. I was like "who the what?" but that's pretty legit screen cred she's got there. Nothing I've seen, but the clues can't all be "Broad City" and "Rockford Files."

[PKW is fill I can get behind…]

The rest of this puzzle is a disaster. Ill-conceived and weakly executed. We seem to have yet another non-theme. Just a very, very loose assortment of rhetorical devices that have nothing in common with each other, content-wise. They're just rhetorical devices. Oh, and they're all 15 letters long. Which brings us to this puzzle's bigger problem—72 words??? It's hard enough to make a good themeless at 72 words. Why in the world would you torture a themed grid like this if you don't have to. I mean, if you can pull it off cleanly, more power to you, but hoo boy. No. From the DPI / ALT / WELL KNIT (!?!?!) opener to the KEW / KUE (!) / AMI / AH ME (!!) closer, this thing has "No" / "Do Over" / "Refresh!!!" written all over it. EELER?! ADELA! So creaky … ISMANIS! RITTATEE! Boo. Delete. Escape. Reboot.

HYPER in the grid when "Hyperbole" is one of your rhetorical devices? No.

I'm done. I hear tomorrow's puzzle is good. So let's hope my intel's solid.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    wreck 12:05 AM  

    WTF? I DNF as I really had no desire to continue. I read Rex's review as well as Crossword Fiend and X Word Info and STILL don't get the theme (I don't think they do either!).

    retired_chemist 12:07 AM  

    Liked it much better than Rex did.

    AT dawN first, ditto KASmAN, qUE (ugly either way), ZIppo. No other writeovers.

    Thanks, Mr. Ockman.

    Carola 12:09 AM  

    I'm hoping someone will write a comment replete with rhetorical figures; meanwhile I'll just say that unlike @Rex, I got a kick out of the theme. I thought it was cute that MAKE HASTE SLOWLY is given a REST AREA and (also unlike @Rex) that HYPER adds to hyperbole (which is its nature, I think). Anyway, litotes is one of my favorite devices, so I'm never unhappy when it gets a nod.

    A couple of pairs: Iago's "CREDO" aria from OTELLO ("I believe in a cruel god..."), the Biblical brothers JACOB and ESAU. TRITEST next to EELER also got a smile.

    Evan 12:09 AM  


    I needed explaining on this one too, but....

    Hyperbole, oxymoron, litotes, and simile are all examples of linguistic tropes.

    I got nothing else. I'd be curious to see what percentage of solvers actually got that during or shortly after solving.

    jae 12:15 AM  

    Easy-medium for me, except for figuring out the theme (my take is "figures of speech") and the NENE/ UTHER cross.  Instead of flipping a coin I called my granddaughter, who is known to have watched a Real Housewife or two, and  she gave me the E in NENE.  And, no I'm not counting a one square help from a 16 year old as a DNF...alright, technically it is, but I'm still not counting it.

    The theme answers are pretty zippy and the dreck count isn't that awful.  Liked it more than Rex did.

    Whirred Whacks 12:46 AM  

    Medium for me. Liked GALLEONS and KASDAN as answers.

    Haven't seen the word "litotes" in print since my long ago Latin days when I was learning rhetorical devices.

    Is Q really spelled KUE?

    "Far from shore" was a tricky clue for INLAND (for me). I initially pictured myself swimming in an open-water race. Turned out to be the wrong image.

    Steve J 12:57 AM  

    Oy. So, so many problems with this one. The theme is too obtuse. Rex isn't sure. Both Jeff and Jim at Xwordinfo aren't sure. Amy at Crossword Fiend isn't sure. @Evan posited a reasonable guess above, but he's not quite positive, either (meanwhile, Deb Amlen at Wordplay declares this is definitively the theme; I would suspect she has inside knowledge others don't, given it's the NYT's own puzzle blog).

    A tight theme shouldn't have this much guessing from people who routinely grasp the theme even when many don't.

    This would be ok if the rest of the puzzle is up to snuff. From my chair, it wasn't. Several obscure and/or non-standard proper nouns, awkward cluing (I suppose one could pull off to a REST AREA - rest stop in my dialect - to text, but more likely they're stopping to stretch their legs and refund the soda or bottled water they've been drinking for the last 100 miles), everyone's favorite a-something answer.

    And KUE. KUE. KUE. No matter how many times I look at it or read it, it doesn't stop looking like WTF.

    A few nice bits, despite the problems: GALLEONS, INLAND's clue (it totally misdirected me into thinking "at sea", since that or its cousin, asea, is such a crossword staple). But overall, this just didn't work for me at all.

    Questinia 1:02 AM  

    Offbeat and likeable. I think there is a definite theme as per @ Evan. But I found it hard in the NW because I had the -TLLT- of ITLLTAKEFOREVER and .... it did.

    But my dumbest moment came from "Scrabble 10-pointer spelled out" = KUE. I counted it K-U-E and got 7 points. Then I wondered whether there was a triple word red square at the *E*, but that gave me 14 points.

    It gets better. I then thought that there was a double word hidden in there, then a triple letter and a double letter. Even though I had filled it correctly I perseverated on not establishing the pointage correctly.

    Meanwhile I began to doubt whether a *K* was actually 5 points as I haven't played in a while or perhaps they'd changed the value of it. Then I gave up and mercifully moved on.



    chefwen 1:06 AM  

    I liked it just fine. After I got THICK AS A BRICK I figured the rest of the longs were going to be ASA clues. BZZZT!

    Knew NENE Leakes from Celebrity Apprentice, she was kind of a Biaach, if I recall correctly and what did you do with my favorite bird?

    I did love the AMI/AHME and KEW/KUE pairs. Cute! stalest before TRITEST. Had to let the directors fill themselves in, which they did nicely. I gave up trying to attach a theme and felt just fine with this one.

    Benko 1:22 AM  

    Puzzle? Meh. What I really liked was seeing Hannibal Buress on Rex's blog. I saw him do standup live a few weeks ago. Besides being hilarious and inventive, he also spoke for a while on his role in the current Cosbyversy.

    AliasZ 1:28 AM  

    I love figures of speech. It makes the language sparkle and come alive.

    It would not be unrealistic [litotes] to liken Stu Ockman to an honest politician [oxymoron]. He is like a star [simile] that lights up our dreary existence with the brightness of a million suns [hyperbole].

    However HYPER breaks the rule of having an answer in a clue. HYPER (Greek ὑπέρ) = over-. In both cases it has the same meaning.

    The good thing about NENE was that it wasn't clued as the Hawaiian goose. The bad thing, I knew what the Hawaiian goose was but had no idea who NENE Leakes was. Not remembering UTHER did not help, so it was a toss-up: NENA-NENE, one or the UTHER. I went with the UTHER: NENE.

    It was fun seeing ESAU downstream from JACOB. I also enjoyed CREDO, part of the Ordinary MASS, near OTELLO with "Ave Maria" in it. Too bad for KEW, KUE (pew!), EELER, A-ONE and a-two and A-TEE, but I know one or two WELL-KNIT OLD IRISH clans. It is important to be reminded of the FIVE W'S, a few of which seem to have been all but forgotten by some of the current run of journalists. GALLEONS and ZIP IT added a little zip to it.

    Why is it that when you see the clue "Far from shore", your mind automatically travels to the middle of the ocean? Because, when you are INLAND, the word 'shore' is the furthest thing from your mind. On the other hand, the only reason you would ever go to sea is to reach the shore of your destination. The sooner the better. Classic misdirection. Clever.

    TRITEST: repetition of an experiment three times.

    Try this charming piece, you may like it. Actually it's "Three American Pieces" for Violin and Orchestra by (you guessed it) American composer LUKAS Foss (1922-2009). It is played here by Itzhak Perlman and the Boston Symphony conducted by Seiji Ozawa, a name not unfamiliar to [litotes] crossword solvers.

    Now it's time to zip it. Enjoy your Wednesday.

    John Child 2:37 AM  

    Google tells us that Kue is a feature rich priority job queue for node.js backed by redis. I'm glad that's cleared up.

    Click and Clack from Car Talk on PBS used to ask rhetorically, "Doesn't anyone screen these calls?" That's what I felt like today.

    Let's say you love these various fingerbones of speech (*) as a theme. There's little else to love here, and a great deal of truly unfortunate fill.

    The best part of the puzzle was playing Jethro Tull all morning. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXCPYKdHVB5DmH71cNwk13iEnSY9lUqGy

    (*) See Walt Kelly's brilliant comic POGO. Seriously, check it out.

    Charles Flaster 4:19 AM  

    Easy save for a Natick--Uthur.Never heard of NENE as a person save for the NBA.
    Liked MAKE HASTE SLOWLY but never knew THICK AS A BRICK.As heavy as a ton of bricks or as thick as thieves are both more common to me.
    Loads of crosswordEASE--ESAU,LLAMA, ADELA, A TEE, EELER, A ONE, SNO and AMI.
    Overall theme was rather creative especially the 15 letter symmetry.
    BTW just did another puzzle--Ode to Joy.
    Try it.
    Thanks SO.

    GILL I. 4:28 AM  

    @Rex... I don't disagree with you except that I happen to love any thing remotely akin to figures of rhetoric speech. This puzzle gave me the pleasure of a smile.
    Why, however, do I always ask for an H in MYNA and why do I want to add an E at the end of ANIS? Inquiring minds...
    Enjoyable Wed. for moi ....

    Trudy 5:22 AM  

    I wonder is the ANY crossover between the people (like me) who would instantly get UTHER and people who would instantly get NENE from that clue? How many people are fans of both Arthurian legend and Real Housewives?

    Danp 6:05 AM  

    THICKASABRICK - Finally, a heavy metal reference. Äwesöme!!!!

    Ian Anderson 6:19 AM  

    Heavy Metal ?

    John Child 6:33 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    John Child 6:37 AM  

    @Gill I, you what to add the H and E because those are the common spellings. ANIS is quite rare: Google books ngram

    MYNA is less rare but also a var.: Google books ngram

    Anonymous 7:16 AM  

    I think the clue calls for anise in French, hence, ANIS.

    Casco Kid 7:23 AM  

    Naticked at NENa/UTHaR, referring A to E as A was more likely to give 2 names than E. Second day in a row with a DNF bomb hidden in the solve. SAPOR/KAPI were worth learning. This pair? Not really.

    I did enjoy the rhetorical reminders, especially litotes.

    Casco Kid 7:31 AM  

    @jae Ruling from the replay booth: calling your granddaughter is allowed under the Who-wants-to-be-a-millionnaire rule set. Using xwords to keep in touch with family For. The. Win. :)

    Lewis 7:37 AM  

    @questinia -- that post made me laugh because I could relate

    This provided an enjoyable workout. The grid gruel was definitely there, but my trying to figure out the theme answers, as well as the fill with tricky clues, made this an enjoyable fight, so I liked it.

    I think ATNOON is superfluous, should just be NOON. I don't understand why 45A are litotes rather than a litote. I guessed at NENE/UTHER. High double letter count (13).

    That the themes are all rhetorical devices is enough connection for me. That is not so wide as, say, "Phrases that contain words", and narrow enough to count as a theme, IMO.

    Gubdude 7:38 AM  

    NENE as a basketball player is pretty famous, at least for me.

    And I did learn what a Litote was.

    Lewis 7:56 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Lewis 7:59 AM  

    Factoid: The "FIVE W'S" (and one H) were memorialized by Rudyard Kipling in his "Just So Stories" (1902), in which a poem accompanying the tale of "The Elephant's Child" opens with:

    I keep six honest serving-men
    (They taught me all I knew);
    Their names are What and Why and When
    And How and Where and Who.

    This is why the "Five Ws and One H" problem solving method is also called as the "Kipling Method". (Wikipedia)

    Quotoid: "I'll love you, DEAR, I'll love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street." -- W. H. Auden

    NCA President 8:05 AM  

    Definitely on the challenging side for me today. NE was my Waterloo, because glory is fleeting or some such thing...Anyway, FIVEWS took a long time to reveal itself. RITT could have been ReTT for all I knew...and just looking at 10A, it might have just as easily been CoOS (Chief Operating Officers) as CFOS. I also have never heard of ADELA, but that E was the best guess. So there I was with that --V-WS. Just. Couldn't. See. It. Even when I shoe-horned it in there it took a while to see the device. Ah! Middle School journalism class....Who, what, when, where, and why....SOISEE....

    I do not know how I know UTHER. Obviously, it's from xword puzzles, but why I remember that and not so many other words...it's a mystery.

    KUE is terrible. Definitely an outlier word to the rest of the puzzle. Mr. Ockman's BP must have soared when he discovered that KUE was indeed a word and so he was bailed out of that corner. Never mind that no one ever uses the word...or that the word is not Wednesday friendly. Ugh.

    I don't really ask for much in a puzzle. Rex gets all jiggy with some of the details of the fill and 72-word this and natick that. I get through most of that stuff...but what truly pisses me off is when the fill isn't "fair." Granted, that's a pretty subjective requirement...but I know unfair when I see it...or when I "feel" it. KUE is one of those words that actually elicits an emotional response from me that makes the puzzle just a little unlikeable. Fortunately there weren't many of those in this puzzle, but there it is nonetheless. Penalty flag thrown. 15-yeard unsportsmanlike conduct. The play will be further reviewed to decide if there will be an ejection as well.

    RooMonster 8:15 AM  


    Leapfinger 8:16 AM  


    As the CFO'S (Chiefly Finicky Overseer) saying goes: If you lie down with DAWGs, you'll get up with PLEAS. AH ME!

    (still THICK AS Thieves)

    @KUEstinia, I liked it, just like KEW
    @Trudy, I'm UTHERwise, have only seen Real Housewives(!) off TV.
    @Traveling Incognito, nice analysis of INLAND. Don't now be trying that on "analysis". HBTY

    PLEAS consider the Giant SeKUEoia tobe an example of HyperBole.
    Sorry if that's de trope

    Exeunt, enjoying.

    RooMonster 8:17 AM  

    Lost two posts :-(
    Liked puz, some dreck, some nice fill. Didn't get theme. Good WedsCrunch.


    John V 8:19 AM  

    LITOTES? Seriously?

    Mohair Sam 8:21 AM  

    Medium/challenging for a Wednesday - and fun, it had a different feel. That's always good.

    Had @Questinia's experience with KUE, interesting form of misdirection (is 'key' worth 10 in scrabble?).

    I'd like to thank former Denver Nugget NENE for helping us avoid a natick at 56A - "Jeez hon, I've heard of a NENE but never a NENa."

    Have no problem with HYPER being in the grid while Hyperbole is part of a theme clue. I am told that this is not done - but I'm OK with it.

    I see OFL hated DPI and WELLKNIT. Disagree totally. DPI is different three letter fill, nice to see. And WELLKNIT is a common term and perfectly clued.

    joho 8:25 AM  

    I misread the clue at 1A as "Horney" and thought we were off to a racy start.

    I felt THICKASABRICK trying to figure out the theme (or THICKASAplanK as Princess Diana used to describe herself.)

    At one point I thought an IsLAND is "Far from shore."

    I got it all in the end, even the unfamiliar NENE, so I enjoyed the solve which seemed spot on for a Wednesday. Plus any puzzle dealing with the English language is interesting to me.

    Thank you, Stu, you're as clever as a fox!

    Donvan 8:31 AM  

    Kue is the letter "Q" which has a value of ten points in Scrabble.

    Hartley70 8:36 AM  

    @Trudy. ME ME ME! UTHER and NENE are both in my head. "Cross your legs to married men!", Morgana.

    I also immediately went INLAND on that clue, although as I was reading the posts I wondered what was wrong with me this morning. Maybe the oxymoron thing was addling my brain.

    All in all kinda liked it.

    Thick as a Brick 8:37 AM  

    Jethro Tull is NOT heavy metal. The musical ignorance of commenters on this blog is rivaled only by Rex's ability to rise to new levels of asshattery each day.

    "And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away
    in the tidal destruction the moral melee.
    The elastic retreat rings the close of play
    as the last wave uncovers the newfangled way.
    But your new shoes are worn at the heels
    and your suntan does rapidly peel
    and your wise men don't know how it feels
    to be thick as a brick."

    Sir Hillary 8:40 AM  

    Wow, this makes the NYT grade? Really?

    In the spirit of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," I will sign off and be back tomorrow.

    Yes, Heavy Metal! 8:41 AM  

    Jethro Tull: "The flute is a heavy, metal instrument." Heh

    Play it ian! 8:49 AM  

    Definitely not heavy metal, but damn can that guy play the flute!


    Andrew Morrison 8:52 AM  

    Funny. I looked over the puzzle when complete, scratched head, and thought, "Well I guess I'll have to see what RP says about the theme because I have no idea."

    NENE/UTHER is Sunday-level stuff. Two obscurities, separated by centuries? I hate needing a lucky guess to finish a Wednesday.

    In spite of all the insanity, the long (theme?!) answers were pretty easy for me, so the puzzle played EZ-Med for me.

    Bird 9:06 AM  

    Not a linguist so didn't get the theme. Nearly DNF at unknown 16A crossing nearly unseen 11D (ran thru the vowels a few times not thinking the answer could be 2 words). FEVEWS? Not until I got a fresh cup of joe did the light go off.

    In the end I didn't care for this one much. I fear that WS will use today's puzzle as an excuse for future puzzles with similar answes - "Hey, this terrible answer/clue/crossing/___ has been published before"

    Happy Humpday!

    Gerald Bostock 9:07 AM  

    Gerald Bostock was the gifted writer of the songs on "Thick as a Brick." He was only 8, but man could he write!

    John Child 9:08 AM  

    For @Casco and others unfamiliar with Uther Pendragon and the King Arthur story, Please, please read The Once and Future King by T. H. White. You won't regret it.

    Z 9:12 AM  

    I didn't notice the fill until Rex pointed it out, so the good far outweighed the bad for me. I did notice that the NW and SE only had the narrowest of connections to the SW-NE diagonal, making this solve like three puzzles. HYPER, though?

    UTHER is a gimme of the first order, here. A guy who gets help from a friend to trick his enemy's wife into sleeping with him resulting in a son - sounds like a plot line right out Real Housewives to me. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if OFL had gotten a compare and contrast paper or two making similar points.

    My texter started on the Roadside before RESTstop before finally resolving to REST AREA. All three are better than the guy texting while going 60 in the left lane.

    @Thick - Your inability to grasp when people are joking makes me wonder why you enjoy coming here.

    @Steve J from last night - Our evolving response to the captcha is a source of fascination to me. When I first came here the game was to define the "words," to often great effect. Then "42." Syndy solvers using the addresses as Baccarat hands is truly inspired. Personally, while I'm glad that Lord Google has deemed me "not a robot," I do miss the inventiveness of the "define the captcha" game.

    Anonymous 9:21 AM  

    never heard the term "fivews" before.

    Josh 9:23 AM  

    Slightly slower than a typical Wednesday, but still under 5:00. The English teacher in me likes the theme answers, so much that this puzzle will probably end up on a bulletin board.

    The KEW and KUE are undoubtedly crap, but the open spaces in the NW and SE are well executed. I like the ambitiousness of the grid; it's much more enjoyable than tons of three- and four-letter words.

    I like the look of FIVEWS in the grid.

    I think this fits the bill for a Wednesday puzzle perfectly.

    AnnieD 9:24 AM  

    This one fell as a very typical Wed puzz for me, with the exception that I had one Natick. OLdIRISH and KASdAN. Or rather than Naticked, I was DOOKed as I was yesterday...when the mind refuses to read an answer as anything but one word when, in fact, it is not. A real DOH! once I hit reveal.

    I didn't like the clue for MASS. In my book, if the clue is an abbrv. so should be the ans.

    Ludyjynn 9:26 AM  

    Despite a DNF in the SW(I fell for the misdirect and had 'island' for INLAND), there were two answers that made me smile (a lot): Lawrence KASDAN's very sexy movie, "Body Heat" is one of my all-time faves. What a date night treat; my boyfriend and I, along with every other couple in the theater, left in a rush to get home and ... Also, it was memorable for the breakthrough performances of Kathleen Turner as the hot, hot, hot villainess and Ted Danson as he dancing DA. Not to mention William Hurt and the bathtub scene. Where was I?

    Oh yes, my second smile was for the classic Jethro Tull number, THICKASABRICK. I'll be humming it all day.

    Both of these made it worth the price of admission, so to speak, NENE Leakes and her ilk notwithstanding.

    Thanks, SO and WS.

    mac 9:30 AM  

    Give me some tropes any day. I enjoyed the solve and the comments all around! Good start of a very busy day.

    Steve J 9:33 AM  

    @Thick as a Brick: Careful with that ignorance axe, Eugene. The heavy metal comments are jokes in reference to Jethro Tull's (inexplicably) being awarded the Grammy's first award for best heavy metal performance.

    Michael Strahan 9:36 AM  

    I'm busy, so I have to make this quick - Appearing now on Live! with Kelly and Michael is none other than NENE Leakes

    Steve M 9:38 AM  


    Elephant's Child 9:38 AM  

    @Lewis, I rather enjoyed your Factoid du jour. Noticed that WH (Auden) would make #7. Am divided on the subject of singing salmon.

    1A started out COZY, quickly went to the DAWGS. Have to say, however, that every duel I've heard of was scheduled AT DAWN. UTHERwise, have never noticed much that resembled reality in the few "reality" shows I've seen.

    Very enjoyable comments today to match the enjoyable solve, but must now litote to work.

    Anonymous 9:39 AM  

    Knew Uther.
    Didn't know Nene.
    But, could give you names from RHOC or RHBH.
    Don't know what that tells you.

    Norm 9:39 AM  

    Count me in the plus camp. Familiar phrases exemplifying rhetorical devices. Very nice.

    wreck 9:42 AM  

    How much does a flute weigh?

    Z 9:45 AM  

    @Steve J - An Ummagumma reference in a Jethro Tull comment! I'm expecting some Brain Salad Surgery next.

    mathguy 9:59 AM  

    FIVEWS reminds me of the first day of Journalism 1 in college.

    Until I read Bill Butler's blog, I thought that it was a themeless.

    I liked the variety in the fill.

    Nice puzzle. My only annoyance was WELLKNIT. "Tightly-knit" is the expression I'm familiar with.

    jberg 10:02 AM  

    I do love figures of speech, and love showing off by using their names even more. So I thought this puzzle was OK, although I wasn't AROAR about it.

    I had two problems: 1) Despite aforementioned love, I can never remember what a litotes is, so I had to wait for the crosses.

    2) I also had to wait for crosses to see whether it was cASDAN or KASDAN. Then the cross turned out to be cARAT or KARAT. The brain finally dredged up some slight preference for the K in both cases, so I was all right.

    I knew UTHER from THORIUM White's novel. It's a hard name to forget once you've heard (or, in this case, seen) it.

    Lindsay 10:04 AM  

    Got ROSA and JELLO, then worked myself into a lather that the NYT would suggest texting at a REd_light. Relieved to learn otherwise.

    I much prefer the FIVE WS to the "journalistic story-telling" that's all the rage now. Every article in the Times seems to start out "It was ... (auto-complete 'a dark and stormy night')..." and then you have to beat your way through three paragraphs of pronouns to get to a proper noun i.e. a "W".

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:18 AM  

    I must rate this as an Interesting puzzle. I finished with a clean grid, but I failed to grasp the theme, even though it is, in retrospect and with Rex's help, clearly spelled out in the clues.

    One quibble: 45 A, Litotes for beauty, NOT UNATTRACTIVE. To me, these are not the same. Either "Litotes for a beauty" or "Litotes for beautiful" would be better matches.

    And, KUDOS for the commenters above who joked about learning a new word, "litote." (I hope they were joking, since LITOTES, like KUDOS, ain't plural.)

    Jeff 10:20 AM  

    Hi -
    Is KARAT *ever* with a C? It's a mistake I find I repeatedly make.

    old timer 10:28 AM  

    I thought the puzzle was very tough for a Wednesday, and not satisfying. Sometimes when you get a tough clue (and this puzzle is full of them) you say AHA! and smile. My only such moment was when I had to replace "caravels" with "galleons".

    KUE is atrocious. Not in my Webster's Collegiate. I think when it is necessary to spell Q out, it is normal to write "cue".

    Lindsay 10:29 AM  

    @Jeff ---
    De Beers (?) used to advertise the four Cs (not to be confused with the five Ws): color, cut, clarity, carats. So that's diamonds.

    Pure gold is 24k.

    What I need is a mnemonic for that little arrow editors use to insert a word.

    dk 10:39 AM  

    🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

    Alas, JACOB could not shed his chains. This one was a bit of a slog but NOTUNATTRACTIVE.

    My only wish was cue would have also been in the grid.

    This puz has me thinking of a JELLO salad comprised of white and black squares as a XMAS adventure.

    AHME, off to the NaCl mines.

    Stu, thanks it took me five minutes to replace snug with DAWG --- you devil.

    Charles Flaster 10:49 AM  

    Happened to see NENE just now on TV. Like the NBA much better. The letter Q is spelled Cue.
    Five W's is from junior high.

    chefbea 10:52 AM  

    too tough for me. Luckily I was kept waiting at the doctors office so had plenty of time to play around with this...and not get the theme

    Haven't read all the posts but has someone explained Dawg=homey??I had warm

    Hartley70 11:01 AM  

    @ChefBea - DAWG is dog and HOMEY is home boy. Both are your pals.

    Anonymous 11:21 AM  

    @BobK, Litotes are plurals in Thebes.

    karat,carat, caret, carrot!

    Gerald Bostock 11:29 AM  

    And you shake your head and say it's a shame.

    dick swart 11:57 AM  

    Re: Litotes …

    Dinsdale of the Piranha Brothers used to terrorize all of London with his use of rhetorical devices. Listen for the list at the end of this segment …

    Andrew Heinegg 12:06 PM  

    Shame on you for that punny question/comment. You can do better!

    Bob Kerfuffle 12:27 PM  

    Anonymous 11:21 must be correct, for I have heard that there is honor among Thebes.

    Martel Moopsbane 12:28 PM  

    I propose the DOOK award be given to the worst bit of fill in a given puzzle. DOOK's full name would be something like Dreck On the Order of Kue.

    Masked and Anonymo4Us without a Preview net 12:30 PM  

    @63: Yo, sunshine! Just luv it, when U really get into a puz like this. Did yer source mention how many U's were in tomorrow's offerin? My Ipad news source says "@63 soon to normalize relations with the NYTPuz." So, there may be a hopeful pattern, here, readin between the sources...

    This puz was not unfunky. It bravely explored new territory in the themeless vs themed puz dmz. And got scalped by wild blogmeisters. Such overtures of manifest desperation at least deserve a review of a few churce highlights...

    * DAWG. As @chefbea points out, clearly a Var. spelling. But really, a MYNA infraction.
    * KEW/KUE. Yo,@Q! Is this Stu dude a friend of yers?
    * SOS. This is only proper procedure, to put out an S.O.S. in the NE, when encounterin RITTs, ADELAs, plural abbr. weejects, and opera.
    * UTHER/NENE. Rated an imbedded S.O.S., in SOISEE. Observe and learn, @63, as a master solviteer decodes the Meta Theme.
    * OLDIRISHRESTAREA. yep. Here's where yer 72-word count arosed from. These lil 8-stackettes in the NW and SW. M&A and other lesser constructioneers woulda slapped an extry black square in there, and gone with ALDI + ISH. And NEL+ KNIT.
    * When M&A used the term "72-word" in that last bullet, he, of course, was usin one of them weird figures of speech. A hartotes. Cousin of litotes.
    * Litotes. Learned somethin there. This should not go unnoticed.
    * Oh, man. Just an X short of a pangram. (Had an honorary kue.) I can dream, can't I? That blog of @63's woulda been really primo, if we were talkin pangram, here.

    "Oxy Moron"

    RooMonster 12:41 PM  

    Not unhaving a Q also.
    Had a good original post to, well, post, but my phone went all screwy on me and deleted it! Took me this long to unfury.


    RooMonster 12:44 PM  

    Oops, just noticed your "honorary kue". My bad.


    Karl 1:00 PM  

    This puzzle gets an "F" from me, mainly because of the cluing for LLAMA. I would have thought it would have been thrown out for giving the first two letters away...

    M and Also 1:38 PM  

    Lil 8-stackettes in the NW and SE (not SW). Bad hartote-ins.

    Now, see... that's where yer Preview button comes in handy, kids. 'Course, anybody as dense as M&A breath woulda hadta sit there since -- what? -- an hour ago, and stare endlessly at his own comment, lookin for such myna peccadilloes...

    ** sigh **


    okanaganer 2:09 PM  

    KARAT vs CARAT...

    "A karat is a measure of gold purity, where 24 karat is pure gold..."

    "A carat is a unit of weight for gemstones... one carat equals 200 milligrams"

    (From various sources; I guess the gold purity one is sometimes also spelled "carat".)

    Benko 2:16 PM  

    I'm with a lot of posters here on NENE--in my world, the Washington Wizard deserves to be the one clued.
    I'm against a lot of posters' reactions about Jethro Tull being "heavy metal". While metal has changed and evolved quite a bit over the years, Tull was indeed included among the "heavy" bands of the late 60s and early 70s by rock critics of the time, along with Deep Purple and others. These bands, now considered to be "proto-metal" by most metal writers, helped to set the stage for future efforts. There are perhaps more subgenres of "metal" than any other form of popular music, and some of them are closer to Tull than to Metallica. There are prog-metal bands who in their own way carry on the Tull legacy.

    Benko 2:18 PM  

    Let me just add that the guitar riff from "aqualung"' the main theme, is perhaps one of the most influential riffs in the history of metal.

    LaneB 3:17 PM  

    Felt more like a Friday or Saturday what with stuff like KUE, FIVEWS, NENE and EELER etc. plus the themeless 15-letter crosses. But managed to finish with a couple of errors only. Still, the thing made me wonder how some entries get accepted, this particular fill seeming to be forced. Perhaps
    Shortz has his favorites [since the same constructor's names keep re-appearing.]

    Fred Romagnolo 3:58 PM  

    There is a pleasant old comedy movie called "Teacher's Pet" with Clark Gable and Doris Day. It is about journalism and the FIVE W's are clearly stated, and are in fact part of the plot. Gig Young is also in it, worth a look. The "homey" DAWG thing sticks in my craw, it's legitimizing a sub-standard conscious debasement of the language. Is DPI dots per inch? I agree that KUE is ghastly. Otherwise I liked the puzzle.

    Mohair Sam 5:07 PM  

    @Fred Romagnolo - Yes on your DPI question. For those of us who were around when the dot matrix printer was king of the small office - the DPI of a printer was a very big deal.

    Yes, I've seen "Teacher's Pet" a few times - great flick. Big Gig Young fan here - he was amazing in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"

    It's Disco! 5:12 PM  

    Jethro Tull is a glam band. Like Queen. Or Abba.

    Dansah 5:12 PM  

    Yes, an amusing story of Grammy committee's ignorance. I am tempted to use a simile here relating this to the aforementioned blogger...but I won't.

    Z 5:31 PM  

    @Benko - if only crosswords had as many sub-genres as Metal. The truly amazing thing is how much hate fans of one sub-genre have for other sub-genres.

    Benkoooo 5:49 PM  

    @z: Well, in music, there is often a tribal aspect to fandom. People who like belonging to a tribe also tend to like looking down on other tribes as inferior. Maybe this extends to crossword tribalism as well. But there are plenty of people who like the variety of many different experiences as well.

    jae 6:06 PM  

    @Mohair - Clue: One-hit wonder with 99Luftballons. Answer: NENA

    Deep Thoughts 6:31 PM  

    Wow Benkoooo, that's deep.

    Teedmn 7:48 PM  

    Jethro Tull may not be " heavy metal" but they rock out pretty seriously, at least on my 14+ albums by them. Saw them in concert back in ' 84, during the " Under Wraps" tour. Cool.

    Hands up for being in the UTHER as a gimme camp - never heard of NENE Leakes so glad that cross was easy. My favorite take on the King Arthur legend is a multi-book series by Jack Whyte. He sets Arthur as living closer to the time when Rome was just leaving Britain, as opposed to later, as most place him.

    DNF on this puzzle - couldn't see FIVEWS, had FaVEWS until Mr Happy Pencil made me rethink it, along with blowing DPI/PLEA. Was thinking SQ IN so had DsI. doh! Wrinkled nose at KUE but I'm not a purist. So thanks for the puzzle, Mr. Ockman!

    Z 9:55 PM  

    Aoki clue alert. Isao, Nori, and now Steve. Not Heavy Metal.

    Anonymous 3:30 AM  

    CUE KUE QUEUE all good in Scrabble. KEW is not.

    Stacy Donald 3:54 PM  

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    spacecraft 10:43 AM  

    KEW/KUE kute?? How can anybody love KUE? That is so horrible it carries its own yellow flag, which deploys automatically the moment it lands on a grid.

    I had a bit of trouble at the outset of this one; couldn't figure out FI_E_S for the reporter thing. I was convinced there was a rebus somewhere. When I got enough of the long acrosses to fill the rest in, I finally saw it. I'm getting tired of letters as letters, but those, I guess are inevitable. *sigh* So you will understand when I flag an entire WORD as a letter, as in KUE. To begin with, I have no idea how anyone arrived at that spelling; my natural instinct would be...KEW. Ah, but that's already in the grid! And a wondrously lovely place it is, too; if you're ever in London, don't miss it.

    Count me as a proud member of the class who has never seen--and never will see--any program titled "The Real Housewives of [fill in the city]". So NENE gets the H-less MYNA (?) bird.

    A quibble for one of the theme clues: NOTUNATTRACTIVE would be litotes for "BeautIFUL" (emphasis mine) not "beauty." Let's clean those up, Mr. Editor.

    Theme mildly interesting; fill weird and not the best; a very Wedensdayish C.

    rondo 1:54 PM  

    Cue the eewww for KUE and KEW.
    Quite the treat on one line - HYPER JELLO!! Must jiggle really fast.
    Honestly, this puz was an odd NENE. What an assortment of fill.
    THICKASABRICK will never be anything other than Jethro Tull for me.
    @Teedmn - if you were at that Tull concert I may have fathered your child.
    OLDIRISH seems like it should be whiskey related.
    I put my golf ball on ATEE, usually only once per hole.

    How 'bouts a captcha:
    I'm not a robot, oh DEAR

    DMG 2:00 PM  

    Stumbled through this odd collection of clues, finally accepting DAWG for 'homey', In my day a dog was an unattractive or HOMElY person. Still finished down one square. Try as they may, puzzles haven't taught me that. cARAT is wrong for gold. Maybe @Lindsay's reference to 24k will finally make the connection for me!

    2104 = not enough

    rondo 2:42 PM  

    BTW in the mid-early 1970s our (then) progressive radio station KQRS did a simulcast with the public TV station KTCA of one side of THICKASABRICK. The video portion was a real mish-mash as I recall, kinda far-out for the time. Well before MTV and music videos. It was a big deal and drew a good audience if memory serves. We mighta been a tad high.

    longbeachlee 3:23 PM  

    So bad it was good

    ecanarensis 5:32 PM  

    @JohnChild 9:08, You are so right!! I've given out dozens of copies of that book over the years...'bout my fave of all time. My dog has several stuffed hedgepig toys (but they don't have fleas or talk to their stomachs).

    Count me with the folks for whom UTHER was a gimme but didn't know NENE even after I had it from crosses. And glad to be that way.

    leftcoastTAM 8:08 PM  

    An off-beat Wednesday puzzle. Double-Naticked at aTHoR for UTHER. (As a syndilander, I'm way out of date. Still, I like to check in now and then.)

    Anonymous 9:23 PM  

    I'm sparking one up! : )

    Teedmn 12:37 AM  

    @rondo, sorry, no kids here. But we could have tried...

    And yeah, there was a time when KQ92 was progressive.

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