Sci-fi knight / TUE 3-10-15 / City in 1960 Marty Robbins chart-topper / Obsolescent bank item / Who said knock you out in an LL Cool J hit / Longtime Nascar sponsor

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Constructor: Allan E. Parrish

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Before cars — three theme answers are all two-word answers where the second word is also a term for a wheeled, horse-drawn vehicle…

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: BABUSHKA (10D: Russian grandmother) —
  1. (in Poland and Russia) an old woman or grandmother.
      a headscarf tied under the chin, typical of those worn by Polish and Russian women. (google)
• • •

Weird in a number of ways. The positive: for an olde-timey puzzle (Horse-drawn vehicles! PASSBOOKs! PAPER CARRIAGES!?!) that has clearly been filled without any computer assistance and that is a mere 72 words (on a Tuesday?!), the grid is not terrible. There are parts that are downright smooth. ABEE and APIN are unfortunate, and PARI-, sure, yuck, but overall, that's a lot of white space that has been hand-filled with pretty solid results. You are forgiven if you had no idea what the theme was—especially if you are not a regular solver and/or are under … some age. I don't know. Possibly 120. You'd have to be pretty damn old to have lived at a time when coach types were carriage types were widely, commonly known. I think that you'd actually have to be dead. But many still know them, of course. I know them, and I am well under 120. But I solve a lot. Anyway, the fill is halfway decent, but the theme doesn't work that well for me since I think of LANDAU and COACH as types of CARRIAGE. Actually, both CARRIAGE and COACH seem like general terms, whereas LANDAU seems specific. LANDAUs are fancy. Two facing seats with two retractable / removable roof sections. Like so:

Actually, it seems CARRIAGE is the very general term, and both COACH and LANDAU are types of CARRIAGE. I guess you could argue that, in this puzzle, the general term is in the middle, and the types are flanking it on top and bottom, creating a kind of symmetry. I don't buy that, but you *could* argue it. Anyway, this is close to a non-theme. An easy themeless.


The one unforgivable thing in this grid is GRASSLE (42A: Karen of "Little House on the Prairie"). That answer is 100% absurd. The percentage of people who are gonna be familiar with that name is something close to zero. Well, closer to zero than twenty, that's for sure. Compare that with the familiarity of virtually every other answer in the grid (w/ possible exception of PARI-—also not great). GRASSLE is why you should not be afraid to let computers help you out with filling your grid. The theme here is not demanding: just 37 squares total. So grid should be squeaky, and utterly obscure-actress-free. *Especially* *On* *A* *Tuesday*. GRASSLE is nuts. She played Caroline, the mom—admittedly, a major role. But she has not been in the public eye in any significant way for 30+ years, and even I, who watched that show A Lot, didn't know her name. Yeah—everything in that DIR (29D) / PARIGRASSLE region (exclusive of themers) should've been torn out and redone. GRASSLE! When you rassle on the grass: GRASSLE! It's such an outlier here … in a tough themeless, maybe. In a much more theme-dense puzzle, perhaps. On a Tuesday in a thin-themed puzzle? No excuse.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 12:15 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  I liked that the theme was a tad subtle.  

I have to agree with Rex re: GRASSLE.  It was a WOE as I never watched Little House.  However, growing up in the '50s, I either read or had read to me almost all the books.  

This had more zip than the usual Tues., so fun solve, liked it.

Steve J 12:17 AM  

Nice Tuesday. Didn't GROK the theme, but it works. And I like its economy. I'm not a fan of having a whole bunch of theme just for the sake of having a whole bunch of theme. Especially when the result of a SPARSEr theme like this is very good and clean fill (agreed with the three examples cited of less-than-ideal fill, but those are small bits that didn't get in the way of the puzzle overall).

Lots of nice words that aren't terribly common in crosswords in this one: KISMET, BABUSHKA, COBALT, ACACIA, MAINSTAY, LAPDOGS, SCHLEP.

As to GRASSLE: Yes, obscure proper name. But very fairly crossed (the AMAS cross is probably the toughest for newer solvers who haven't memorized their Latin crosswordese). Not ideal, but hardly a disaster.

Z 12:22 AM  

9 Seasons and I never watched an episode, so GRASSLy first.

IZOD/NIKE crossing NAZI/GROK strikes me as very very wrong.

Speaking of GRASSLey - no one ever actually gets convicted for violating the Logan Act.

wreck 12:28 AM  

"You are forgiven if you had no idea what the theme was—especially if you are not a regular solver and/or are under … some age. I don't know. Possibly 120."
Actually laughed out loud at that!

I had no idea what the theme was either, but it was a decent Tuesday.

Anonymous 1:33 AM  

Cobalt is not blue!

Anonymous 1:37 AM  

@anon 1:33. No, it's most definitely white!

chefwen 2:18 AM  

Cobalt is most definatly blue. Never heard of cobalt white, what am I missing?

Easy one, and I loved BABUSHKA, it's just fun to say. Kinda like onamonapia! Love that word.

Mark 2:27 AM  

How, oh how, is it possible, that when I saw "Karen Little House," I immediately said GRASSLEE? How is that even possible? Of course it wouldn't fit, but chopping off one E is not that difficult. Did not GROK the theme, but spent a second or two wondering what MARTIN, PAPER, and BATTING have in common.

Benko 2:38 AM  

Cobalt blue is definitely a color. A very popular one for painters. Go to any art store and look at their oils. Or watch any Bob Ross ever.
I feel like this puzzle was insanely old fashioned. Could easily have found it in a Maruchka collection.

Anonymous 2:43 AM  

Hard, lustrous grey metal. And, the simplest ion that cobalt forms in solution is pink.

George Barany 2:47 AM  

@Allan Parrish is an experienced constructor, averaging several NYT puzzles a year, and additional at other outlets. I recognized the name, but further googling does not reveal a lot ... guess he must want the quality of his work to speak for itself.

The inclusion of @MARTIN_LANDAU in the answer grid also brings back interesting memories. What a long and varied career (and he's still alive, age 86), starting with his memorable role as James Mason's sidekick in Alfred HItchcock's classic "North by Northwest" and including a pillar-of-the-community ophthalmologist who hires Jerry Orbach to bump off an inconvenient Anjelica Huston in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Ellen S 2:52 AM  

Okay folks, you have obviously been out living meaningful lives, in order to have missed the latest internet craze -- a picture of a striped dress, where some people apparently see the stripes as blue and white, and others as something else. As a phenomenon, if it replaces Justin Bieber, we should all be grateful. But anyway, the two anonymice were just having fun with that.

I didn't see the theme, and after @OFL pointed it out, I wondered if he had gone off his meds, fishing themes out of thin air. Three types of carts, two of which are pretty much interchangeable, that makes a theme? How does he know? But Jeff Chen also says it's theme. I dunno. I think the NSA is listening to my phone conversations but even I don't see crossword themes everywhere. well... in truth, I don't even see the undeniable themes three quarters of the time, until I come here.

I blazed through this (for me), no cheats of any kind. Only one complaint - MSN as an ISP. MSN provides email accounts, but they don't provide internet access do they? I guess email is an "internet service" but does the term ISP cover all internet services? Porn? Amazon? I thought it was only the provider who gave one access to the internet -- Comcast, Time Warner, some DSL provider. Am I wrong?

Martin 3:16 AM  

MSN is an ISP. We tend to forget dialup, but MSN is second in dialup, after AOL. Oddly, AOL doesn't seem to bug us when clued as an ISP.

Loren Muse Smith 4:35 AM  

I finished this one easily (Agree with Rex about GRASSLE but also agree with @Steve J that it was fairly crossed.)

@Steve J – "AMAS cross is probably the toughest for newer solvers who haven't memorized their Latin crosswordese" – and now we have to know that it's the one that's second person. Hah!

I agree, @chefwen – BABUSHKA is great. So is SCHLEP.

@M&A – I loved your account yesterday of your flying budgie. It's all fun and games until your pet bird lands in the spaghetti sauce. Did the budgiecake contain fudge for this flying pudgepot?

I liked SPA crossing SOAKER and PAPER CARRIAGE crossing ANCIENT.

Yeah, look at those last two words above. I agree this whole thing will be right up Dad's alley, and he's 86. I certainly didn't get the theme, either, though I tried mightily. 20A contains INLAND, and I really thought I was on to something there. Also – I bet anyone who plops down PAPER CARRIAGE easily will have vague memories of a PASS BOOK.

I drive past this house almost every day and marvel at its lawn, front porch, side building thingy. Everything is so tidy and perfect. Then I always think the same thing, "I bet it's neat as A PIN inside." And then I wonder about why A PIN would be neat. Makes no sense. Heck, you could say "neat as a Q Tip." "Neat as a spatula." "Neat as A BEE." "Neat as a 16-penny nail."

I enjoyed the exercise – certainly not time misspent. Thanks, Allen. Ya got me on the theme, though!

GILL I. 6:11 AM  

Good write-up @Rex..funny as well!
Yes, it did feel old timey but I liked it because it reminded me of Mr. Maleska.
I always get my foreign grandmas confused. I picture a sweet little grannie in Russia wearing a kerchief. Does her grandchild yell "BABUSHKA, you're not wearing the BABUSHKA mom gave you." My favorite is grootmoeder followed by bubby.
@Loren....I too wonder about that neat as APIN. WHY?
Thanks for the theme explanation because I didn't GROK it til comin here.
Oh, I remember my first PASSBOOK. My American Anglo BABUSHKA opened one up for me so that I wouldn't squander all of the cash that was being lavished on me. It was COBALT blue (actually, navy blue)on the outside and yellow on the inside. I remember all the little stamps in the margins that showed the exact amount you deposited. I loved that damn book more than Little House on the Praire.

Danp 6:12 AM  

I'm pretty sure I misspent my youth cutting cans and tomatoes with a GinZu knife. Zapped all my energy. Thus DNF for me.

By the way, cobalt blue is something antiquers treasure in glass and ceramics. Very appropriate for today's puzzle.

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

Re: AMAS. Even though we never used amo (I love) in any of our Latin lessons in my all boys Catholic high school taught by Jesuits, I come by my knowledge of Latin not through crosswords but by four years of study. Just once though I'd love to see the answer to "You love (Lat.)" be AMATIS.

Jim C. In Maine

John Child 6:35 AM  

GRASSLE has been used on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday in recent years. It's not obviously beyond the pale for today.

I'm curious about OFL's conclusion that this grid was hand filled. Is there a giveaway?

A.E. Housman 6:52 AM  

XIII. When I was one-and-twenty

WHEN I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
‘Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;

Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.’
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
‘The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.’
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.

Glimmerglass 7:04 AM  

I learned AMAS in 7th grade. I had several PASSBOOKs. I used a typewriter for 40+ years before I owned a computer with a printer (dot-matrix, remember?) I've ridden in a horse-drawn CARRIAGE (but not a LANDAU or a COACH). I never heard of GRASSLE (she must be too recent). Very easy Tuesday.

NCA President 7:43 AM  

No real problems with this one except for the GRASSLE/AMAS crossing...I had GRiSSLE/AMiS until the very end when I didn't get my favorite little jingle...I checked the entire puzzle and that spot seemed the most suspicious, so I put the A in and voila.

BTW, that Little House on the Prairie opener is weird. The french horn solo at the top is just plain odd. I get that it's trying to be like the dawning of a new era or something and then the main theme hits when the title shows up, but the image of "dawning" or any kind of equivalent image to the solo french horn just doesn't exist. I don't know whose to blame there...the editor or the composer, but wow. Weird.

I was one who did not get the theme until I had it explained here. LANDAU...yeah, no. I know it very very faintly as a car roof thing. I guess all three themers have been associated with cars in some way, right?

Otherwise, it was definitely a throw back to the old days.

joho 7:55 AM  

I was surprised to see only theme answers. SPEEDIER left me wondering which one is faster.

I liked the RESORT/SPA cross as well as ELPASO/TOSTADA.

TING sounds right and made up at the same time.

I so wanted the answer for, "Like people in Yukon Territory" to be frozen.


In the end a most enjoyable Tuesday. Different and definitely not boring.

Thank you, Allan!

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Difficult Thursday for me. With 19 minutes and counting (almost double my average) I still had the SW corner mostly unfilled. Needed to Google GRASSLE to get traction. But even then I could not finish.
I never made a connection between LANDAU, CARRIAGE and COACH until I got to this site.

RAD2626 8:07 AM  

Put in AMoS first in the GRASSLE cross but decided that would have been clued as a name (given the theme maybe with Andy and not as a noted cookie) so switched it to "A" in time. Still got zapped on GINzU like @Danp.

Pretty hard for a Tuesday and odd but fun.

AliasZ 8:16 AM  

This puzzle left me feeling cranky. Very SPARSE on theme, and a rather simple one at that. In fact there were more than twice as many brand names than theme entries, even counting goCART as a themer: TOSHIBA, GINSU, IPADS, IZOD, Super-SOAKER, NIKE, D-CON, STP. Maybe the theme was "Brand Names" and the three long CARRIAGE-related entries simply a misdirection.

I grizzled at GRASSLE, and I don't think TING is a thing. Ping or clink yes, TING, not so much. The Free Dictionary disagrees but hey, you get what you pay for. By the way, TING is also the brand name of a soft drink sold in the Caribbean. Sorta like TANG, but totally different. I will leave ABEE and APIN alone -- already covered. I would only add that if A PIN were made of titanium, we would have a TIPIN.

I could write a doctoral dissertation on the Hungarian town of Kocs and the light CARRIAGE called "kocsi szekér" developed there, and how the word COACH made it permanently into the English language as a result, but you can read all about it at Wikipedia if you care.

I liked BABUSHKA and ACACIA, the ANCIENT PASSBOOK, LAPDOGS and my MISSPENT adulthood. I also liked KISMET -- no, not the musical, the opera "Prince Igor" by Alexander Borodin on which it is based, and specifically the Polovtsian Danses. I hope you'll enjoy it too.

pfb 8:41 AM  

I liked seeing MARTINLANDAU and was only bothered by GRASSLE because I was not sure of the spelling. I am more surprised that I could retrieve GRASSLE almost immediately, but I do remember that we enjoyed watching Little House on the Prairie back when your options were few. By then I had broken down (or rather had been worn down) and had purchased a color TV (LO RES).

I didn't look for a theme just to finish which was in a pretty average time for a Tuesday.

Hartley70 8:42 AM  

I'm feeling pretty chuffed that Grassle popped right into my mind when I saw the clue. I haven't the faintest idea how because I'm certainly too old to have watched the show and I don't remember her playing another role. "Just lucky I guess", she said smugly.

As far as I am concerned this is a themeless for all my predecessor's reasons....way too loose.

I filled in BABUSHKA right away and was sure this would be a granny themed puzzle. I was looking forward to that. Nanny was mine.

I agree this puzzle was really for the oldsters despite LIL and IPADS, but even retirement age doesn't qualify....perfect for my granny theme.

Bird 8:46 AM  

Liked even though I didn't get the theme. Didn't know LANDAU was a pre-car vehicle.

That GRASSLE section was the last to fall. I had undERCARRIAGE for a while and kept trying to figure out the voice behind the lyric (40A).

Hartley70 8:52 AM  

Oh and would you look at that mini! It's getting creative. Woohoo!

Anonymous 9:03 AM

chefbea 9:16 AM  

Don't have time to read all the comments cuz Im busy!!!! Will read them later Didn't know Grassle and watched a lot of Little House. DNF

And definitely there is cobalt blue!!

Lewis 9:21 AM  

Like @wreck, I laughed at Rex's 120 line.

This is a solid Tuesday. Often Tuesdays are rife with complaints here, but this one had bite and woke the brain up. It did have an ANCIENT feel, as Rex points out, with PAPERCARRIAGE, PASSBOOK, the song with ELPASO, GRASSLE's show, I guess even NAZI. And probably more.

I liked the SW, making me feel like taking a SOAKER at the SPA in a RESORT. I liked seeing BABUSHKA, LAPDOGS, and COBALT. And when I saw the word TING, I heard one in my head, and the answer rang true.

RnRGhost57 9:31 AM  

What @Steve J said.

John V 9:32 AM  

What everyone said re GRASSLE; cross with LETTER was last to fall. Got the theme just fine. A good Tuesday.

Tita 9:33 AM  

If "being alive" were a prerequisite for fill, puzzles would be a tad more boring, no?
Never mind the fact that I see CARRIAGEs in Central Park everyday (those poor horses), COACH is something I ride in when I fly, and LANDAU, well, yeah, I first learned it as a really ugly roof style on some cars marketed to codgers.
Now I know that in I fact have even ridden in one.

Does anyone have stories of LAPDOG to rival those from yesterday?
Thanks everyone for those - I need to show them to my sister, whose dogs are in the same league.

I must say, M&As budgie story was the best. The next time one of her labs does something awful with food, I'll say "at least she can't fly!"

Puzzle was fine - thanks Mr. Parrish.

Rex - how DO you know it was hand-filled?

Numinous 9:33 AM  

Even though I won't be 120 for over 50 years, I found this easy. GRASSLE was unknown to me but, as has been pointed out above, it was fairly crossed and came easily. While I was trying to figure out what kind of COACH swingers needed, I looked up at the grid thinking that the COACH had to be a themer. Oh yeah, there's CARRIAGE, (what the heck?). Oh, but of course, old MARTIN is a CARRIAGE too. I almost never concern myself with themes but this one got me even before the BATTer was ready to be poured into the cake pan. Only problem was trying to cross GOkART which is how I usually see those things spelt (ok, spelled–but I was keeping to the flour metaphor as I have to bake bread today).

When I was in my late teens, I used to race GOkARTS. I even flipped one once by running over the front wheel of a kart that had spun out in front of me. Evidence of a MISSPENT youth? Maybe not, I might be a better automobile driver for all that experience.

Only ten three-letter words and, in spite of the comments from OFL and those above, I didn't think any of them sucked. I even thought APIN and ABEE were kinda cute.

I have to agree with you @NCA Prez, where the orchestra comes in after the french horn is rough and sounds like a nasty edit. As a former film music editor, I thought it jarred. I'm not all that fimiliar with David Rose's film music. Apparently he worked on all three of Michael Landon's shows. Compared to the other themes of his that I recall, I'm going to guess that for one reason or another, the opening title sequence was shortened and the opening music had to be shortened too. But that raises the question: why didn't he rewrite that sequence for the rest of the episodes? Landon must have liked it that way! I agree, the french horn is totally unnecessary and out of place without a better transition.

So, I found this to be very easy and finished it in just over half my recent averages for Tuesday puzzles.

Norm 9:42 AM  

Am I the only one who remembers "Amo, Amas, I Love a Lass"? Or, simply, the "amo, amas amat" progression? Yes, GRASSLE was weird, but LETTER was not, so I have no issues with this puzzle.

Numinous 9:59 AM  

@Oski, amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant. I remember that from seventh grade.

When I took Russian, the instructor made a big point regarding the difference between a baBUSHka and your BA-BUSH-KA. The former, with the accent on BUSH is a head scarf while the Russian grandmother is pronounced with equal stress on each syllable. My Russian next door neighbor at the time confirmed it, saying, "моя бабушка".

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

I disagree with Rex that the theme terms are obscure but agree that GRASSLE is way too obscure.

The theme, "before cars," however, does not appear in the print version of the New York Times.

What is this? After I've subscribed to the Times, I'm supposed to go online someplace or other to find out what the theme of daily the crossword puzzle is, and then I'm supposed to google "Little House on the Prairie" to find the name of some little-known actress?

Joel 10:17 AM  

As someone whose been around baseball most of my life 'BATTING' coach hurts my feelings, should/has to be 'HITTING'.

Caryl Baron 10:19 AM  

PAPER CARRIAGE brought to mind my grandson, then 8, who, looking at a photograph of a typewriter at MoMA, asked, "What's that?"

COBALT blue is the cool blue color of the pigments made using cobalt salts of alumina. Cobalt blue pigments are extremely stable, and have historically been used as coloring agents in ceramics, (especially Chinese porcelain), jewelry, and paint. Transparent glasses are tinted with the silica-based cobalt pigment smalt. (Wikipedia—and wouldn't SMALT be a great xw?)

ANCIENT Memories: my first husband "remembered" the sinking of the Titanic because his aunt's attic had an old newspaper. And I remember some very old 78 rpm records my parents used to play of songs that were old even for them.

jberg 10:21 AM  

I'm almost half a century shy of 120, but I knew LANDAU -- I think it comes from reading 18th and 19th century English novels, where people are always talking about what kind of carriage they are riding in, or have stored in their stables. GO CART is another story -- I'm with @numinous, it has a K in it in common usage.

Even if you leave out the proper nouns -- Japanese brand names, Greek goddesses -- this baby requires knowing at least a bit of six languages, English, French, Latin, Russian, Spanish, and Yiddish. Impressive!

mathguy 10:24 AM  

Today's MGI is negative 11 compared to the average Tuesday of negative 35. So today wasn't hard, but it was harder than most Tuesdays.

I agree with @Steve J completely.

@6:22 Anon (Jim C). I also went to a Jesuit boys school here in San Francisco and we also didn't use amo, amas, amat as our model verb. But I can't remember what we did use.

How about "As neat as a nun"?

Trying to think of an "as neat as ..." line somehow reminded me of the line George Will had on one of the Sunday political shows. Talking about how Hillary will explain her use of private emails, he said "The Clintons can find a loophole in a stop sign."

Enjoyed reading When I Was One and Twenty again.

r.alphbunker 10:25 AM  


The problem of an obscure answer can be solved by using a CAPTCHA as its clue. Check out this runt puzzle from the desk of M & A.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

GRASSLE is only obscure if you don't know it.

Having seen reruns of Little House and seeing Ms. Grassle doing commercials not-so-long ago, it's valid.

So is my PASSBOOK- which my back refuses to update...Eugene Maleska must be the bank manager.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

bank- oops!

Z 10:51 AM  

Anon10:44 - That is the Pewit's Eyepit of insightful observations. Bravo.

Ludyjynn 10:57 AM  

GRASSLE was a gimme; in fact, it went in first. She is a lovely actress who held her own beautifully against two scene stealers, Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert. Funnily enough, I cannot for the life of me recall the name of the actress who played the other daughter who went blind.

As for MARTINLANDAU, he was my first great actor crush, from his stint as a master of disguises on TV's "Mission Impossible" w/ his then wife, Barbara Bain. What a varied career in film. as well. As @GeorgeB pointed out, he was a great villain in "North by Northwest" and the scheming brother in "Crimes and Misdemeanors", one of Woody Allen's best movies. What a cast: Landau, Jerry Orbach, and Angelica Huston, among others. Then there was "Tucker" w/ Jeff Bridges. Plus his Oscar turn as Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood".

Guess you can tell I really enjoyed this one which I solved as a themeless. Thanks, AEP and WS.

Roo Monster 10:58 AM  

Hey All !
Found it to be easy-medium, got stuck like most of youse. GRiSSLE/AMiS. Did spell GINSU correct. though! Also, like most, didn't GROK (nice word!) the theme. Oh well. Did like the puz overall. TING sounds like a Tuning fork for a piano.

EI EI CARDI O, my Army leader, COBA LT, hit on MISS PENT, but then had to RE SORT his priorities as she hit him in the CROC with an SC RAM. That's when NATUR AL came around, and said CEDE OR ATES this TOSTADA.

Previous statement might be from someone off ones meds. (Or in need of ones meds!)


Honeysmom 11:05 AM  

Let's be honest here. This was Challenging for a Tuesday! Happens too often lately. Am glad to see Rex called it Medium, rather than Easy though. It discourages relative neophytes like moi when geniuses claim to zip though difficult puzzles. (Methinks they're not that honest.)

Tita 11:11 AM  

One of my mother's endless troves of tricks to mystify and amaze:

Take a dinner fork, pinch two tines together - it makes a beautiful "TING". Wait a few seconds, then, with your fingers still pinched together holding tight onto that "TING", you release it over a crystal wine goblet...
"TING!" It now echoes in the goblet!!

Be sure to use a crystal goblet - though on occasion, it will work with s simple glass.

The secret, of course (don't tell her I'm telling), is that at the moment you "release", you also surreptitiously bring the other end of the fork down on the wooden table surface - that gives the still vibrating fork a chance to transfer the vibration to the "sounding board" that the table has now become.

Kids, and grown-ups - are always amazed!

Sadly, seeing it live is a whole lot better than this clumsy explanation I just gave.
If I go to ACPT, I'll demonstrate!!

mac 11:12 AM  

Nice, easy-medium Tuesday. I've seen many episodes of Little House, but I'm not I've ever heard the name
Grassle. Also have to admit I didn't stop to look for the theme, thank you, Rex.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:24 AM  

FWIW, the theme was obvious to me! Must be approaching 120!

But come on, get with the times, New York Times: 62 A now calls for a past tense.

Also, trouble at 60 A: Neither PUZZLE nor GIRL would fit!

Beadola 11:27 AM  

@chefwen see this:

The cobalt joke was very funny if you knew about this viral photo where some people saw this dress as white and gold, some blue and black, and a lucky few who could see both. Sorry I don't know how to embed.

Benko 11:54 AM  

Apologies to regular Rexite @maruchka, whose name I confused with Maleska in an earlier post. I knew it didn't seem right!

Lewis 12:16 PM  

Factoid: The term LAPDOG is sometimes used to describe an institution that can be very easily controlled (as in the lapdog press in contrast to the tougher, more confronting watchdog press). (Wikipedia)

Quotoid: "Sixty years ago I KNEW everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance." -- Will Durant

Masked and AnonymoUUs 12:17 PM  

Quaint misbehavin.

Big problem for m&e in gettin the theme was LANDAU. Does Chevy make that one? I'da gone with somethin less quaint, but still sneaky, upfront there. How'bout DEGUSTIBUS? Or FINDINGREBUS? MISSEDTHEBUS would be real good, if it weren't so dang obvious; but woulda made a funny revealer.

But I digress, since horses don't pull busses (buses? busae?) too much. No problemo. How'bout INFRAREDRAY? har.


Leapfinger 12:20 PM  

@Numinous, we had it as 'Amo, amas, amat; Amamus, a_tatis, a_kind'. Capeesh? My favourite, however, was the hic, haec, hoc declension. It was such fun to say 'hyoo-yuss, hyoo-yuss, hyoo-yuss'!!

@Benko, good that you explained; the earlier was confusing.

Excuse the hit&run. Toute a l'heure.

Reedster 12:25 PM  

Not a bad puzzle. I missed the "A" crossing GRiSSLE and AMiS, which seemed a little obscure to me, even though my Dad grew up in Walnut Grove, MN and I watched many episodes when a kid. I also didn't GROK the theme, but that's nothing unusual for me.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

"What everyone said re GRASSLE":

"I have to agree with Rex re: GRASSLE"
"GRASSLE has been used on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday in recent years. It's not obviously beyond the pale for today."
"No real problems with this one except for the GRASSLE/AMAS crossing"
"I'm feeling pretty chuffed that Grassle popped right into my mind when I saw the clue"
"Having seen reruns of Little House and seeing Ms. Grassle doing commercials not-so-long ago, it's valid"

Way to take a stand - ambiguously.

old timer 12:34 PM  

It was Medium for a Tuesday, since my time (on paper) was 10 minutes. Despite GRASSLE, which is Inexcusable. Most of these movie people, by the time I have most of the letters from crosses, I get them -- MARTINLANDAU for instance.

Since I do it on paper, I definitely did not get the theme, but I agree, the puzzle tilts Old. I wonder how many people today have ever used a manual typewriter, and hence know what a PAPERCARRIAGE is?

Actually, I wonder how many people under, say, 55, ever learned to type? I did, in 7th grade, and on a manual, too. But when I reached 8th grade, I had an electric typewriter. I may also be among the last to learn the Palmer system of handwriting, but with me, it didn't take. The only thing I ever do in cursive is sign my name.

maisie 12:36 PM  

Once I relaxed into the mid-century vibe (paper carriage, passbook, El Paso) the puzzle was fun, nice and toothy for a Tuesday with minimal junk. (Well, other than having to recall the existence of tv's "Little House", the awful -- sorry, Rex -- reimagining of Laura Ingalls' wonderful books.)

And yes, cobalt is blue, a gorgeous, deep, satisfying blue.

Joseph Michael 12:36 PM  

Thought this was tough for a Tuesday, especially the SW corner which was the last to fall.

In defense of KAREN GRASSLE, she is a wonderful stage actor who continues to work in theaters around the country and has appeared in national TV commercials in recent years. Glad to see her in the NYT.

When I think of the film "Ed Wood," I think of Johnny Depp not Martin LANDAU and had no idea that the latter was also an early form of transportation. Theme was pretty obscure and not much fun to discover,

Liked the clue for 53A.

old timer 12:41 PM  

P.S. "Batting coach" is slightly more common in the SF Bay Area than "hitting coach". Just looked it up and the Giants have a "batting coach" but also an "assistant hitting coach." Go figure. However, the broadcasters refer to the "batting coach" whenever the topic comes up.

Hartley70 1:16 PM  

@Tita I'm stuck on pinch two tines together. My stainless tines don't budge and I'd hate to wreck the silver. This may be more magical than you think.

Z 1:47 PM  

@old timer - to my ear "BATTING COACH" and "hitting instructor" sound righter than "hitting coach" or "batting instructor." None of the four bothers me, though.

COBALT can be clued as a color, an element, a mineral, or a Chevy. I'm putting my quarter on a car clue appearing either Friday or Saturday.

Anon10:14 - The NYTX only provides titles on Sunday. Nevertheless, M-Th puzzles almost always have a theme. Part of the fun is to suss out said theme.

oldActor 1:48 PM  

I did a national pre-Broadway tour with Karen Grassle called "The Bashful Genius". It was about GBShaw. She is such a lovely sensitive actress. Shaw was played by Stephen Boyd who died at 45. Much too soon.

The play didn't make it to NY but it was a great experience. Wonderful memories.

Steve J 1:49 PM  

@old timer: The typing discussion popped up a few days ago, too. Touch typing is actually quite common among the under-55 set, thanks to computers. When I was in high school in the 80s, typing class was commonly taken, as it was already apparent everyone was going to need to use computers in their work. And I think since the 90s it's become largely standard (although it's called "keyboarding" class now).

retired_chemist 3:44 PM  

GRASSLE was a total unknown to me but since its crosses were zingy (OK, I'll give Rex PARI as a clunker) it was a pretty fun corner. No other complaints.

[chem lesson]Sure there is a cobalt blue. The ancients used a cobalt-aluminum oxide for a stable blue pigment. As occurs with many transition metals, the color depends both on the oxidation state (II and III are both possible) and on the ligands. The other common color is rose-pink. And sometimes green. But not white. [/chem lesson]

All in all a fun Tuesday. Thanks,Mr. Parrish.

RAD2626 5:10 PM  

LANDAU could also be used as a theme answer with "convertible" "hardtop" as types of car roofs. Not much odder than CARRIAGE and COACH.

Frank Waletitsch 5:10 PM  

Does anyone else think it should be go Kart?

Tita 6:36 PM  

Ha ha, @Hartley...
I don't think she channels Uri Geller - the tines don't bend...

Just "pinch & release" with your fingernails...

I guess I'll just have to ask her to come to Stamford to give a rendition.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

I don't think of a natural as a quick learner, but rather someone who's good at something before they even try it.

DragonsMom 6:48 PM  

Just what I thought. Brothers were Jesuit schooled. I got my four years of Latin from the Ursulines.

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

GRASSLE was not fairly crossed on its initial letter. Not knowing any rap stars or Las Vegas landmarks, I had to make wild guesses and did not finish.

Teedmn 8:24 PM  

I thought the theme was obsolescence, like the PAPER CARRIAGE and PASSBOOK, but that didn't work so well with the rest of it so it was good to get the real one from @Rex. (Unless he really is seeing themes where they aren't as per Ellen S - good one!)

Thanks for the puzzle, Mr. Parrish!

Richard Black 8:48 PM  

A mistake for 36 down (please correct me if I am wrong)! The nutrition facts panel on a cereal box has Daily Values (DVs) and on the front you might find the same numbers (on those little thumbnails). The DVs come from guidance developed in the 1960s (yes, the regulations governing that aspect of the label are a bit ANCIENT), and are very different from the RDAs (now the DRIs) that many might know, which came much later.

Anonymous 11:06 PM  

Please help with 40 across. Are the quotation marks in the wrong place?

Tita 11:06 PM  

Meant to mention..
I actually have typed on a typewriter...both a manual and then new-fangled 'electric ones. Did my term papers on'em.

Later, I helped usher in the obsolescence of those devices, working at Wang Laboratories, bringing in the era of word processing, obsoleting typewriters.

I still have my Dad's Hermes portable... A sleek, lightweight version...the MacBook Air of its day.
On one of Dad's traverses of the Atlantic by ship, typing away on deck, Noel Coward asked if he might borrow it. How I wish my Dad had popped in some carbon paper, so we could know what he wrote! And sell it on eBay!

Btw, just as "hang up the phone" and "off-hook" come from the old time phone with the separate earpiece that hung, so the"Return" key on computer keyboards harkens back to the 'carriage return" key on typewriters that "returned" the carriage to the beginning of a new line.
Only later did some mfgs change the key label from "Return" to "Enter".

History lesson over.
You're welcome.

Anonymous 11:12 PM  

Please, again. Are the quotation marks in the wrong place at 40 across?

Z 11:14 PM  

@Anon 11:06 - No, but it's a good question.

Simple Simone 11:55 PM  

I always thought that "off the hook" referred to fishing.

Anonymous 2:20 AM  


The other daughter was played by Melissa Sue Anderson, I think.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:45 AM  

@Tita -- When did you become such a proponent of cutting edge snark?

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Thanks. Stand corrected. And gave my age away to boot. Older than a boomer.

CrossMom 9:52 AM  

As a female in my late 40's, I knew "Grassle" immediately, and I would argue that many other 70's television kids would, as well. I loved the quaint feel of this puzzle and enjoyed solving it.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

I did not get the theme at all. I had no idea what the measly three answers had to do with each other. Some of the clues were sub par and the fill was awful. Namely:

PARI ???
PASSBOOK (please end it)
GROK (what in the world?)
GOCART (Is that the correct spelling?)

Very unfulfilling puzzle.

J. W. Norwich

spacecraft 10:57 AM  

Unlike the ACACIA that I handled in my wholesale floral job, I found today's offering a bit thorny. Things I never KNEW include:

-->that BABUSHKA was also a term for grandmother ("How do you smuggle 50 elephants into town? Put BABUSHKAS on 'em and put 'em on a bingo bus.")

-->what a "Super SOAKER" is. In all my MISSPENT youth, I never came across such.

-->who said "Knock you out." There's them pesky rappers again. Arrgh!

-->New Jersey's ____Center. Or the name IZOD...wait, I think I saw that word on a shirt once. Just lucky that the crosses came to the rescue. IZOD. What an absurd name.

What I DID know was GRASSLE. Not that she was a favorite actress or anything, just the name itself seemed to get stuck in my head after viewing only a few episodes of LHOP. Certain names inexplicably do that.

Two common interchangeables further hindered the solve: was it LOA or KEA? Hitting or batting coach? Both quickly resolved today.

In @Ludyjynn's resume for the redoubtable MARTINLANDAU, she omitted his forgettable stint--again with spouse Barbara--on "Space: 1999," as well as a much more memorable part as the law professor in "Rounders." However, I managed to miss "Ed Wood," so was strangely clueless about his only Oscar role. Sorry about that, Marty.

I'm a little under 120, though a lot less that I wish (!), but I had no problem with the themed vehicles. Pity we couldn't work in the HANSOM CAB, of Sherlock Holmes fame.

I liked this one, though maybe it belonged in tomorrow's slot. A tad crunchy for a Tuesday, but a little crunch never hurt anybody. B+.

Burma Shave 1:31 PM  


MAMA was at the AGE where there was time MISSPENT
In SPARSE clothing she’d EXPOSE herself, or NATURAL she went.
I KNEW from the ALERTS and from the PARENTAL report.


rondo 1:56 PM  

Emphasis on the first syllable of BABUSHKA (BAH – bush – kah) no matter how much you want to stress the BUSH. Almost more like BOB-ish-ke, the last syllable like a schwa. I know, I’ve been corrected, sternly.
This was good for Tuesday. Was wondering about wagons and such after MARTINLANDAU, and the others appeared.
I’ll bet the original clue for LIL had more to do with a Mae West character than a rapper, but we must stay hip, now, and wow, mustn’t we?
Jessica Biel, ultimate yeah baby.
I might still have a PASSBOOK lying around in a drawer somewhere. I suppose our LIL friends wonder at what that item is.
I gotta SCRAM, OK puz by me.

DMG 2:17 PM  

Lot's of stuff here that was sorta unfamiliar, but once I made the KEA/loA decision, it all sorted out into a memory lane puzzle. Knew BABUSHKA as a scarf and the thing on the typewriter as a CARRIAGE with no modifier, but those were the only two slow ups. Never watched LHOP or Ed Wood (movie?), but the crosses were kind! A good Tuesday! Oh, also didn't know PASSBOOKS are obsolete- must get out more!

I still get numbers-some not so good. 129

rain forest 3:10 PM  

I didn't really see that this puzzle could be termed "old-timey", and really don't care, either.

I thought it was one of the better Tuesdays we've had, with some very nice entries, a simple but good theme (got it at __CARRIAGE), and pretty darn good fill all round. GRASSLE was a gimme, and I don't know why. Wife used to watch the show, but not I.

Bit of personal lore for which you might not care: I took typing in Grade 11, did well, and my Dad got me a huge old manual Underwood for Christmas (I wanted a guitar) which I used throughout University and typed my Master's Thesis on it in 1974. I no longer have that typewriter, but I have 4 guitars, 1 of which my Dad got for me 48 years ago. Loved the man.

Gimme food or numbers--Ach!

leftcoastTAM 4:57 PM  

Re: GRASSLE. Easily filled in via crosses. Relatively obscure proper nouns are not that unusual, even earlier in the week Don't know why RP made such a fuss over it.

Shax 7:16 PM  

Got the theme, but wasn't carried away. It's definitely onomatopoeia! Since I'm 121, Grassle was a gimme.

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