Wild Duck dramatist / WED 3-4-15 / Bow-toter on seasonal cards / Title woman of 1957 #1 Paul Anka hit / Popular Japanese pizza topping / Walrus mustache feature

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Constructor: Jeff Stillman

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: puns involving male movie roles  — familiar phrases are clued as if they have some relation to roles played by famous actors

Theme answers:
  • BOND TRADERS (17A: Connery and Lazenby, between 1967 and 1971?)
  • ROCKY START (11D: 1976, for Stallone's rise to stardom?)
  • TRIPLE AXEL (29D: Eddie Murphy, after 1984, 1987 and 1994?)
  • PLAYING SOLO (64A: What Harrison Ford was doing in 1977, 1980 and 1983?)
Word of the Day: SERIN (44A: European finch) —
noun
  1. a small Eurasian and North African finch related to the canary, with a short bill and typically streaky plumage. (google)
• • •

Inconsistent. Off. Wonky. I just couldn't get into this one. The fill skews old and stale, too (SE is particularly gunky), so there wasn't much for me here, except CETOLOGY (big Moby-Dick fan) (27A: Study of whales). So what, exactly, was wrong? BOND TRADERS was OK. A little thinky (i.e. you have to know that the role of Bond went from Connery in 1967 to Lazenby in 1969 and then *back* to Connery in 1971 …). Even then, the answer's a little forced, but I could roll with it. But both the answer, ROCKY START, and its clue (11D: 1976, for Stallone's rise to stardom?) felt off. It's *Stallone's* rise to stardom. But it's the franchise "Rocky"'s start. Stallone got his start (stardom-wise) playing Rocky, but ROCKY START does not capture that. Also, ROCKY START … isn't the tightest phrase. No tighter than "rough start," which means roughly the equivalent. Then there's the role-outlier, AXEL (Foley), which belongs in this puzzle not at all. Those movies did big business, but compared to James Bond, Rocky Balboa, and Han Solo, the name "Axel" just doesn't rate, fame-wise. Worst of all is PLAYING SOLO,  which isn't a phrase. Or, it is, but it's weak. GOING SOLO or, better, FLYING SOLO, are better, more solid, more real things. PLAYING SOLO … meh. Also confusing that the three years quoted in the clue for TRIPLE AXEL mattered (i.e. three years relates to "TRIPLE"), but the three years quoted in the PLAYING SOLO clue … didn't. So lots of little junky things about the cluing and answer quality just kept this from being that entertaining to me.

[FALTERMEYER]

Bullets:
  • 56A: ___-watch (BINGE) — by far the hardest thing for me to get. Not knowing the [Title woman of a 1957 #1 Paul Anka hit] (told you the fill skewed old…) I figured it must be something uncommon like DEANA, so I had BENGE-watch and stared at it and had no idea what part could be wrong. This is especially weird, considering I had just finished watching Season 1 Episode 3 of "Mad Men," which I am semi-BINGE-(re-)watching in its totality, leading up to the series finale this April 5.
  • 55A: Cy Young candidates's stats (ERAS) — ??? … They're every pitcher's stats. The worst pitchers have ERAS. This clue is ridiculous.
  • 34A: Walrus mustache feature (DROOP) — ??? … I see that the wikipedia entry for "walrus mustache" says they have a DROOP (because the lip hair "droops" over the mouth…), but … man, that is a weird direction to go for this clue. If I had to list ten features of a "walrus mustache," that word wouldn't come up.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

84 comments:

Herman Melville 6:58 AM  

CHAPTER 32 Cetology

This whole book is but a draught- nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!

Loren Muse Smith 6:59 AM  

Well cool. Who knew that that ubiquitous candle-topped bottle in pizza joints was called a fiasco?? So if you're ANTI CHIANTI, do you UPEND your fiasco in the DEEPEND?

CETOLOGIST is a cool word, too.

I'm no limnologist, so always, always I have to leave rivers like LOIRE and ELBE to the crosses.

Etude before SCALE, then before THUS, pewits before IBISES. Rex - me, too, for not seeing BINGE (even though I love me some binge-watching).

Hey, Dave Barry – add DROOPY DACTYLS to your list of good names for a rock band.

SUBTITLE – my husband was forbidden to go unattended to Blockbusters to get a movie for family movie night. Imagine settling in for a ROCKY or BOND movie only to see an opening montage filmed in PERU about the plight of the INDIGO SERIN after a large SCALE DDT spray, complete with SUBTITLEs. Uh, really?

Here's my big take today, though - "Says, in teenspeak" GOES. I always sneakily monitor speakers on this issue, and I swear, I think this kind of GOES has almost disappeared in favor of "is like." Almost everyone uses this quotative like.

Jeff - I liked it. Clever theme, fun puzzle!

Danp 7:14 AM  

@lms - I'd come to believe that GOES was a WV thing. Since I came here 20 yrs ago, I hear it way too often. Before that, it was something I occasionally heard on TV.

jberg 7:21 AM  

@Loren, almost always contracted, though , so really 'S LIKE would be it. What great fill that would be!

I've been in Japan a fair amount, but never had pizza. I never noticed a pizza parlor, either; but then, I never noticed a pachinko parlor either, until I mentioned this to my son and he pointed out the six that were in view from where we were standing. The visual clues are just different.

59A is good Latin, but the word in my footnotes is Ibid., short for ibidem -- the same word in some other case (dative?), because you mean it is IN the same place.

Off to my 8 AM breakfast meeting --glad @Rex finally posted!

Glimmerglass 7:23 AM  

Rex was a little slow this morning, so I read some other blogs while I was waiting for Rex. Is that cheating on Rex? Jeff Chen and Amy Renaldo loved this puzzle. I agreed with them. Perhaps because I read Rex third, I found his comments petty and silly. Ah well, that's what makes horse races (and wars).

Mohair Sam 7:31 AM  

Disagree totally with OFL today. Very good Wednesday puzzle - played tough for us and we dnf'd with a K for ENBLOC and SCAT.

What the heck is Rex's problem with ROCKYSTART. Rocky doesn't have to have two meanings - a positive ROCKY was the whole gotcha idea of the clue, an excellent one, btw.

A walrus mustache is a DROOPy mustache famously, first, and always. I have no idea what 10 other things come to Rex's mind - but my list of descriptors of walrus mustaches is one word long - DROOPy.

Great Wedhesday puzz Jeff Stillman, thanks.

Mohair Sam 7:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
GILL I. 7:33 AM  

GOES, in any kind of speak, is right up there with "whatever" and "It is what it is." My DACTYLS want to go off the DEEP END when I hear it.
I actually enjoyed this puzzle because it got the neurons all fired up for a change.
@Loren....I only bought CHIANTI for its candle propensity (wow, how's that for a word!)... I must have had about ten of them very carefully placed around my San Francisco apartment...The wine...well, it was sucky but I drank it anyway.
Do you think IBSEN ever wrote about IBISES @leapy?
I bet someone other than I had SODA before COLA. Couldn't a whale study be a SEAOLOGY? Go to Cabo to watch them...They love Mexico.
I enjoyed your puzzle Jeff. BINGE and all.

Aketi 7:46 AM  

I always think of walruses when I hang out with my brother, a firefighter, and his buddies. They all have the same DROOPY mustaches,

Asked my teen about GOES and he gave me that look of exasperation perfected by teens to indicate scorn for parental stupidity. Apparently it's not used that way by NYC teens.

NCA President 7:49 AM  

@Glimmerglass: Agreed. I read Chen's review which seemed to delight in the very things Rex didn't like. The fact that the Bond's traded out wasn't a necessary tidbit to know, but a bonus. Chen makes a good point about Rocky 1 ending in a way that was, well, rocky.

Interesting contrast between the two reviews for sure.

I'm beginning to see that different outlets' puzzles have different personalities. It just appears that if the NYT puzzle were a person, Rex just wouldn't like them. Nothing personal, you can't like everybody and ::newsflash:: not everyone likes you.

That said, as the Bard pointed out in 12th Night...your foes are your best judge sometimes. Your friends are going to say you're a wonderful person with flaws that are no big deal...whereas your enemies will go into great depth about what an ass you are. So, in a way, my understanding of the NYT is shaped by the love given by Chen and the endless criticism given by Parker.

I personally liked this puzzle, FWIW.

DShawMaine 7:51 AM  

I had Soda too, which led to Doire as the river, and, foolish me, could not find it so hit the reveal. Yet, other than this hiccup, I thought it was on the easy side for a Wednesday. I liked the puzzle - TRIPLEAXEL was the only one I thought was a bit forced.

chefbea 8:01 AM  

Being a pun lover...I loved the puzzle. Had a few problems..like end bloc and dactyls.

We have a fiasco bottle in which I put a candle and let it drip.

There are a bunch of Ibises around our neighborhood. I have seen them walking down the street or up on neighbor's roofs. What a mess they make.

joho 8:06 AM  

I would hate to have @Rex grade my papers! But I do agree that BINGE-watching "Mad Men" seems like a great idea.

I thought the theme was fresh and original my favorite entry being ROCKYSTART but I found fun wordplay in all the answers.

@ GILL I., my question is, did IBSEN like IBISES?

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

walrus mustache
n.
A bushy, drooping mustache.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011

-MAS

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Rex is way off base today, which seems to be happening more and more. Lovely little puzzle with cute themers and mostly nice fill, and some very pretty words: DACTYLS, CUPID, EROS, CETOLOGY (which I got because I know the constellation "cetus" from astronomy), ASPEN, SERIN, MONET, CHIANTI. All in all, might make for quite a romantic night. With a whale.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

Ah, whale romance. Anon @ 0809: For your romantic evening, don't forget ALDENTE and LARIAT (50 shades of gray whale?!)

Roo Monster 8:27 AM  

Hey All !
Cluing seemed a bit chewy for a WedsPuz, had to screw down the thinking cap a tad tighter. Got held up in W center, took a while to see TRIPLEAXEL. Also, not knowing CETOLOGY didn't help.

But, good puz, two themes with the names first, two themes with the names last. Stuck the old EEL in there! Also liked tbe Triathlon double-up, but was hoping for Biked somewhere!

GITS
RooMonster
DarrinV

AliasZ 8:52 AM  


Why PLAYING SOLO? Because singing SOLO, flying SOLO or going SOLO is not what Harrison was doing those three years. Han SOLO never sang, nor did he ever go or fly SOLO. Chewbacca was always gurgling by his side.

Very clever and fresh wordplay theme today by Jeff Stillman. I liked it. The only additional one I could think of was Humphrey Bogart and Howard Duff for KING OF SPADES but it doesn't really work as well as any of Jeff's. Both Bogart and Duff played Sam Spade, the film and radio version, THUS the plural. See what I mean? And as Jeff Stillman says at xwordinfo, Matt Damon's repeating role for BOURNE AGAIN wouldn't make the cut because it's a homophone.

I loved the multiple echoes in this one: the bow-toters CUPID and EROS, SWAM and RAN in a triathlon, an old LP WARPS causing it to SKIP, the rivers LOIRE and ELBE, then CUBA and PERU, GOES and GITS, the birds SERIN and IBISES with IBSEN thrown in as a bonus, ETALia crossing INTER alia, then UPEND and DEEPEND, with AMEND as a re-echo. When I saw DROOP, I was looking for SAG, but the closest I came was its anagram GSA. Besides, one word is more than enough to describe low-hanging body parts. We also have SCATS and CETOLOGY, which combined become scatology. There is also my favorite member of the DENTE family, AL, who loves his CHIANTI. The triple treat of EKE, ORR and EEL is as clunky as this puzzle ever got. This was hunky DORY, I enjoyed it.

Speaking of CODA (Italian for tail), here is a tail that almost never ends by Beethoven.

Enjoy your Wednesday.

Horace S. Patoot 9:03 AM  

I'm unhappy with the clue on OVA. "In vitro" refers to just about everything that takes place in a bio lab, fertilization being just one of them. For instance, if you give a blood sample, what they do with it is all in vitro, and it ain't about making babies.

pfb 9:07 AM  

Had SODA, ETUDE, and IBID but very quickly backed away from them and solved quickly (for me). I also had PLAYINGINDY which made a lot less sense than PLAYINGSOLO, although I cannot recall ever hearing or reading playing solo (maybe performing solo) but it was not so low for me as it was for Rex.

Ludyjynn 9:16 AM  

Sounds like Rex could use a bottle of CHIANTI to chillax. This puzz. was witty and fun to solve, IMO. The cluing was not far-fetched or inelegant. (We always drank mateus in college, a cheap Portuguese rose wine that came in a lovely bottle w/ a pretty label and perfect for dripping candles after consumption).

Best clue EVER for EEL!

Weird fact: the day after I saw a Stallone "ROCKY" flick, I literally came face to face w/ him at an antiques show in Miami. He was furnishing his new home there w/ cool stuff and we were both inspecting vintage books at the time. Nice man, although he had a bodyguard hovering in the background. I was told by a jewelry vendor at the show that Madonna had just stopped by her booth, but I did not see the diva during my visit. One celeb. sighting was worth the price of admission.

And so it GOES.

Thanks, JS and WS for a hunky-DORY solve.

Hartley70 9:18 AM  

I'm in the soda camp too. It gave me a DNF. COLA was a real head slap.

Bird 9:19 AM  

Started out nicely with 17A and 11D, but 29D is off a bit (as clued) and 64A should be FLYING SOLO. The fill could have been much better, especially the bottom half.

Dropped in SODA at 27D and never looked back (Don't know SETOLOGY from CETOLOGY. DOIRE looked reasonable and I never checked it's clue). Maybe if I did the puzzle electronically I would have been forced to check my answers in order to get the happy pencil.

SCATS? SKATS?
Tough cross at 59A/60D
Too many ENDS for my taste
Where's the middle part of the triathlon?

@Loren - love your 1st paragraph.

Happy Humpday!

Nancy 9:21 AM  

Cute and enjoyable. @lms -- I, too, don't know much about rivers (or any other features of geography), but once I had the R in -O-RE, there was no mistaking it for the Rhine or the Rhone, even for me. And the L in LOIRE gave me COLA instead of soda, which, not being sure of, I never did write in. I loved the theme answers and the rest of the fill was perfectly okay.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

As a younger solver, I would tend to agree with Rex on most of the fill here, especially about it skewing older. I have never listened to Paul Anka, and with nearly 60 years of music since DIANA, I think it's time to start updating the clues.
Also PLAYING SOLO, while accurate re: Harrison Ford, isn't a phrase anyone uses, unlike the other theme answers. It sounds like something that a kid who no-one wanted to hang out with would be doing.

Z 9:24 AM  

@Gill I - Hand up for sOdA first.

I enjoyed the themers and long fill, short fill not so much. ELBE, Elba, Able, Alba... or let's go all Law and Order with Erbe. I agree with Rex that the SE corner was a candidate for a DEEP END UPEND. Tireder fill includes ORR, EEL, EKE, ODE, ENS, SIB. I guess it is hard to have much verve in your three letter answers, but they don't make a puzzle better.

In my world most DACTYLS are pteros, so I needed every cross. More annoying, though, is I missed the tense on 22D so I DNFed with STiNG/THiS instead of STUNG/THUS, a mistake I might not have even noticed if @LMS had not referenced THUS.

Is RAW EEL AL DENTE?

mathguy 9:29 AM  

PLAYINGSOLO is a little weak, but the other themers are fine. Very enjoyable puzzle.

I guess that "binge-watch" is part of the vocabulary now. The Closer and I are resisting the temptation to stay up all night watching House of Cards, season three. We watched episodes one and two last night. Kevin Spacey is riveting.

Z 9:30 AM  

This is The End

Steve J 9:41 AM  

Like most everyone, I liked this on balance. There are a few shaky bits, and PLAYING SOLO isn't as strong a phrase compared to the other theme answers, but this was a clever idea executed well.

Being a Bond geek the way more people are Star Wars geeks made 17A super easy for me. I've always considered it a shame that the worst actor to portray Bond - Lazenby - appeared in what was probably the best-written script for the early Bond films.

@jberg: I also had Ibid instead of IDEM. The former I recall seeing in footnotes all the time; the latter, not so much.

@Many: The soda/cola trap was set a few weeks ago as well. It's one I've learned never to fill in instantly. It's like the 74 spelling of of kabob or the last vowel of a Spanish adjective like otro/otra. Never fill in automatically, as the crossword gods seem to delight in making your first choice wrong no matter what you put down.

Hartley70 9:42 AM  

Oh I had completely forgotten Mateus, @LudyJynn! It's all we drank too in college. I wonder if it's still on the market. A perfect choice for the financially challenged and undiscriminating palate!

This took me twice as long as yesterday's puzzle. In addition to not seeing COLA instead of soda, STUNG didn't feel strung enough to be deeply offended. I wanted ibid also. I thought the theme was fresh, AXEL being the most obscure but still sussable.

John V 9:46 AM  

Very Monday easy puzzle. Binge watch new me as was the Eddie Murphy thing.

wreck 9:48 AM  

NO drinker has ever ordered a "Rum and COLA" in a bar - ever! If they did, they should double check their fake ID!
I thought it was a nice Wednesday. I got the theme quickly, but it still was a challenge to get the answers.

wreck 9:48 AM  
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Leapfinger 9:53 AM  

@Gill I, for your eyes only:
IBIS? IBIS quit
SEA-OLOGY? SEA-BIS quit

Some do say that after too much PLAYING SOLO, a person GOES blind.

Guessed wrong again, @AliasZ. Thought we'd get Siegfried and ODE EEL's Dance from ASWAN lake. Oh well, it's aLL LOIRE in love and fair.

This was a great puzzle to mine, just what we deSERB on a good Wednesday. As @pfb said, not so low. ;)

Enjoy!

dk 9:53 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

Unique fill, misleading, clever cluing and humorous theme whats not to like?

I'll tell you: ENBLOC!

Had soda (27d), good for MOST, and Donna (53d) and it took me forever to remembers Ford's Star Wars role. I can only think of Leia chained to Jaba…. no stop… bad thoughts…

Once I got Leia out of my head…. so sultry…… ahem… I got this one done and dispute my errors and write overs it was good.

High fives for the EEL clue.

dk 9:54 AM  

despite my errors

Glimmerglass 10:00 AM  

@AliasZ. I once had a student named Suzanne Dente. Her father was a caterer named (I am not making this up) Al Dente.

Nancy 10:02 AM  

I also remember both Mateus and $1 Chianti (well, I'm probably older than you!) from my college days. They were two very different wines, but they had one thing in common. They were both absolute swill!

Numinous 10:07 AM  

@Rex, picky, picky, picky! I'd love to see at some time in the future Rex Parker's Crossword Puzzle Manifesto. I want to better be able ot predict your responses rather than assuming they'll be curmudgeonly regardless of the quality of the puzzle.

I enjoyed this on a lot. Scratched my head a bunch and had to work at getting some of the answers. PLAYING SOLO was my first theme aha. And I liked it. It sounds like a thing even if it isn't but in relation to the clue, that's exactly what Ford was doing. TRIPLE AXEL was the hardest for me to get. The problem was not with AXEL whom I remembered well. it was the TRIPLE that took a moment to sink in but it rewarded me with a smile. I also liked the LE/EL pair as I often want to spell the name the same way I spell the car part.

@ LMS I tried etude first too even thought it didn't really fit with the clue.
@Gill I, sOdA seemed obvious to me too but I know the word CETacean and the river LOIRE so that was not a big problem to correct.

There is some clunky, gluey, ESEy fill though the cluing for it all was generally good. For me it was read the clue, look at the letters and then realize "oh, yeah, that." Those things, as I've often said, will appear in puzzles and make the cool long crossings possible. Hardly much point inn bitching about them. They're just a fact of (puzzle) life. I'm reserving judgement on Chen's POW until I see the rest of the week's efforts but I think this one has a good chance.

@NCA Prez, I thought your summary was worth a lot.

@Aketi and LMS, One point I will agree with OFL on, GOES is dated. I have 17 y/os around me a lot lately, My stepson and daughter were recently that age and my newly adopted xword pal and her friends are frequently around and I just don't hear ". . . and so he GOES bla bla bla . . . " any more. What I hear lately is more like he said, she said, etc..

@Gill I again, When I was a teen in Berkeley, I'd snag CHIANTI flascos whenever I could and would burn those white candles which would drip multicolored wax to make said flascos look hip and cool. Then, in the light they cast, I'd sit and type "hip and cool" beat inspired poetry. Too bad the candles were hipper than the poems.

I had a lot of fun today!

Elle54 10:08 AM  

Maybe Rex was too young for the Beverly Hills Cop phenom?

Whirred Whacks 10:15 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle especially the ROCKY START.

@Loren Muse Smith
Last Saturday you took delight in describing your BAZOOKA experiences in Barry Silk's fun puzzle.
Today I discovered this World War II US Army training film entitled Mastering the Bazooka Rocket Launcher. Once I started watching, I couldn't stop. Take a look.

Best wishes!

Malsdemare 10:22 AM  

I liked it even though I, too, did the sOdA thing and the STiNG thing. I don't think I'm that discriminating a puzzler, and given the Mateus drinking (if we wanted to go upscale, we drank Lancer's!) not too discriminant, period.

But if every puzzle got an A from OFL, people would charge him with grade inflation.

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

News Flash:

Finding DORY will be the sequel to Finding Nemo.

On a SCALE of 1-10 I enjoyed this puzzle 8!

Arlene 10:34 AM  

I guess I'm learning new language here - never heard of BINGE-watching, although I was able to guess it. But I imagined it had something to do with an alcohol intervention program!
And since I didn't know AXEL or whale science, the SW didn't go too well - although I did get COLA and other crosses, but not enough to save me from a DNFa.
The three theme movies were well known, so those puns were great to uncover.

old timer 10:40 AM  

I notice that I knew the answers to all three top acrosses. So I go, "Hey, maybe I should time this!" And sure enough, the puzzle was done in 11 minutes. A good deal faster than yesterday.

I thought it was a fine puzzle. Rex must have had a bad day yesterday.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:53 AM  

Fun puzzle.

For me, the lesson of the day was discovering that I have long imagined a totally bogus word. I thought there was an alternative to 27 A, CETOLOGY, namely "balneology" which meant having to do with whales. Turns out that is the study of therapeutic baths, and I have been completely wrong! Live and learn . . . from crosswords!

mac 11:00 AM  

On the easy side for a Wednesday, but a lot of fun. I didn't know Eddy's Axel, but I know the jump, so no problem.

I have to admit to a lot of binge watching since we got Apple tv.... Who wants to wait a week for another episode?

Leapfinger 11:01 AM  

So I'm like OMG, me 2 on the Mateus Rose, the way-cool shape = the Flounder of the bottle world! And the Blue Nun Liebfraumilch, to feel even even more sophisticated... Thanks for reminding!

From @Loren's link (re 'like'):
“I tell my students, eventually all the people who hate this kind of thing are going to be dead, and the ones who use it are going to be in control.”
Well, that's heartening!

Personally, I liked the theme with AXELotl, but didn't think Harrison Ford necessarily deserved the double billing he got from INDIGO.

I see your Al Dente and match you with Polly Dactyly.

Keep smiling.



Joseph Michael 11:07 AM  

Didn't know CETOLOGY so like others fell into the SODA trap and took a long time to realize that 56A wasn't referring to a timepiece. Didn't see the Eddie Murphy films do didn't know AXEL either. " Yet I enjoyed the puzzle and the theme, especially BOND TRADERS.

Thought Rex's critique was usually anal. Has he gone off the DEEP END?

NCA President 11:15 AM  

Axel was sort of famous... he had his own theme that got some heavy airplay in the 80s. Both Rocky and Bond had themes too, of course.

@leapfinger: Polly must be Terry's sister?

God how I hate puns....

GILL I. 11:21 AM  

@Numi....Just to be different, my candles were red and I actually pored that god-awful Shalimar on them to make the apartment smell good. I finally switched to patchouli (sp?) but my neighbor told the landlord I was smoking pot....
@Nancy....I would be desperate at the end of the month and my dinner was usually cocktail sausages and a sneaked in bottle of Ripple...! I'm so glad I've grown up.

Carola 11:31 AM  

I feel as though I should give a curmudgeon(ette?) alert: I found the theme wan and inconsistent. But I liked SKIP over DACTYLS and trying to imagine what CODA COLA tastes like. Also what WOMAN is ROCKY'S TART.

TokyoRacer 11:56 AM  

Take it from one who has lived in Japan for 40 years - EEL is NOT a popular japanese pizza topping. Tuna, yes, mayo, yes, even shrimp and octopus not eel. In fact, I have never even heard of eel on pizza.

PuzzleGranny 11:59 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle. It was fun and clever. As is often the case, when Rex has a problem with clues, they are easy for me and vice versa. And, Anonymous, no need to retire Paul Anka lyrics just because some solvers are young. There are loads of current pop culture clues, about things we silver haired solvers know little, to balance things out. And there is always the ubiquitous Bobby Orr, in case one is having difficulty finding a place to begin.

Leapfinger 12:16 PM  

@Gilly, it sure is nice being grown-up and no longer having to sneak in the bottle of Ripple.

@NCA Prez, 14 minute lag time, not bad!
As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, 'You got a lotta potential, kid!"

Roo Monster 12:25 PM  

Didn't anyone drink Boones Farm here? That's the cheap stuff I drank in my Army days! No college, though.

In the funny names department, I always liked (well known photographer) Peter Lik!

RooMonster

wreck 12:31 PM  

@Roo
Boones Farm
Mad Dog 20/20
Annie Green Springs

Lewis 12:38 PM  

I agree with Rex that AXEL isn't as well known as BOND/SOLO/ROCKY, but so what? The theme is about punning on movie roles, I believe; if one is less known, it just makes the puzzle more difficult, but it doesn't violate the theme.

I like the upSCALE, outerMOST, and sideCAR. I thought the fill was clean except for three 3-letter words. The theme was cute and afforded for me a couple of ahas. And the puzzle had grit, which made for a satisfying solve. The only thing I would preferred was some more clever cluing, which I especially look for on Thursdays and beyond.

Overall, a jolly good time.

Sir Hillary 12:43 PM  

Probably the easiest Wednesday solve I have ever had. After two tribute puzzles in three days sandwiched around a boring Monday theme, I was grateful for something that made me smile. This one certainly did, and for that reason I am not paying attention to the junky short fill or the relative weakness of PLAYINGSOLO. I had fun, which is all that really counts.

Man oh man, did I cringe at the all-too-true clue for GOES. My biggest pet peeve in current spoken language -- unfortunately, it ain't just "teenspeak".

Lewis 12:49 PM  

Factoid: In a traditional meal in CUBA the food is not served in courses; instead, all the food is served at the same time.

Quotoid: "Behind every great man is a WOMAN rolling her eyes." -- Jim Carre

jae 1:17 PM  

Easy Wed. for me.  My only serious hang up was confusing a sacred bird with an Alpine goat in SE.   Fun theme, TRIPLE  AXEL was my favorite, liked it.

@Numinous, lms, Aketi...I'm not hearing GOES from my 16 yr. old granddaughter and her friends either, but I did hear it frequently from my  daughter and her friends and when she was 16.

Sheila Bell 1:52 PM  

Can you imagine Rex on a Downton abbey puzzle? The Countess would annilate that Yankee upstart!

GILL I. 2:11 PM  

@Leapster....On a good day, I would order up a Maneschipple. That one always sounded sophisticated and expensive.
@Lewis....Lechon al mojo criollo con Moros y Cristianos, yuca y platanos verde....Once a month at my house we have Cuban and yes, you have to pile it all on! My adult children and their friends beg for it :>)....

Nancy 2:30 PM  

@Steve J. -- I always thought when it turned out to be OTRA instead of OTRO or OTRO instead of OTRA (wrong again, Nancy!) that it was just my bad memory, that I had remembered it wrong. Thanks for letting me know that the two words tend to be switched arbitrarily by crossword puzzle creators.

Zeke 3:17 PM  

I'm genuinely surprised by all the love evinced for this puzzle, one whose only redeeming feature for me was that it was easy and passed quickly.

I understand that this is a standard early week theme (find something you can contort with wordplay, and voilà you've got a puzzle). I don't know why it is, only that it is. Were I the MOTU, it wouldn't be such, but I'm not MOTU, nor do I want it to be. That is, unless as MOTU I can limit my involvement to eliminating petty things I don't like regardless of the tastes of the rest of humanity. With an additional nanosecond of thought, of course as MOTU I could certainly decree as my right. Digressions aside, back to the puzzle. If you're going to do this, it had better be spot on. Connery & Lazenby were only BOND TRADERS in the most tenuous of senses, they simply quit sequentially, and Connery was lured back with truckloads of cash. I get the joke, it just was horribly strained. Similarly, PLAYING SOLO isn't a thing in any portion of the time/space continuum I've seen. I've played a solo, played solitaire, played by myself, played with myself, but never played solo.

All this being said, I will admit that my view of the puzzle may have been jaundiced, as I solved it immediately after spending an hour and a half in the rain trying to clear my driveway of 3 inches of snow topped by 1/2 inch of sleet. I did this to avoid having my driveway be completely covered in ice when I got up in the morning. I failed miserably.

Thomas808 6:30 PM  

I got stuck with a BINGo/IBSoN cross that hid itself for a long time. Only found it by Googling the presumed Google-able right answers until "The Wild Duck" showed me the light. DNF but can't complain.

Really enjoyed the theme and I thought the fill was good. Hard to be really good with so many threes. We had GIT and GAT. Too bad with so many three-spaces we couldn't also have GET, GUT, and GOT for the cycle.

David from CA 6:55 PM  

Amazed at the reaction to "PLAYING SOLO"-it is a term used any time a musician is performing alone, or an actor/actress I believe. It out-googles the proposed "SINGING SOLO" by a factor of 2, and comes close to "FLYING SOLO".

Thought it was a great fun and clever puzzle, like most here.

Teedmn 7:03 PM  

I'm definitely in the "like" camp for this puzzle. I don't have any problem with the PLAYING SOLO phrase - seems like something I could expect to hear from one of my musician friends. Two write-overs, had Gun for GAT and started to write in LAsso but changed it when I saw it was too short.

I'm afraid I pick up all the bad speech habits. I've been policing myself to stop saying "like" but I find myself saying "whatever" and GOES all too often. But as with @Gill I, I can't stand to hear "It is what it is". Ick.

@Roo, @Wreck, the fiasco of CHIANTI was way out of my price level in college so it was Ripple, Mad Dog, Boone's Farm. Anyone else hate T J Swan's crappy apple "wine"?

Thanks, Jeff Stillman, pun out!

beatrice 7:38 PM  

This apparently didn't go through when I tried posting this morning, so I'll give it another go.

A Christmas 'villancico' by Esteban Salas (1725-1803), a native of CUBA who wrote in the style of the late Baroque as Europe was transitioning into the Classical era. (If you read Spanish [I don't] you can also learn something about him here. Wiki has a very brief but interesting article.) The group performing this is Cuban, and was apparently Cuba's first period instrument ensemble.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc_Wy6HBh4U

mac 9:56 PM  

I think that a tiny glass of Matheus rose from a lovely terra cotta flask was my very first alcoholic drink. Christmas eve when I was about 12, served by my father. A beautiful memory.

Charles Flaster 10:47 PM  

Very easy but enjoyable.
DIANA was first song I ever heard on my new 1957 transistor radio. WMCA 570 on your radio dial.
Liked all the movies.
Thought I would see the bike as the middle of triathlon.
Cy Young candidates present Low ERA-- a better clue.
Thanks JS.

Andy Piacsek 12:06 AM  

I was mostly liking this puzzle, until spent ten minutes banging my head against the wall trying to figure out ENBLOC/SCATS... mainly because I had MANET as the "father of Impressionism," just like I heard on NPR the other day. That's what I get for being so sure of myself.

Tita 1:47 PM  


I had to drop the puzzle mid-solve to go study up on fiasco! A hearty head-slap that led me to connect the fiasco-flask-flasche-flacon-flaggon dots...
And here http://blog.oup.com/2008/04/fiasco/ is someone's desperate attempt to explain how fiasco morphed to mean complete and disastrous failure.

@Ludy...agree about the suitability of Mateus fiasci as candlesticks...and that's about all...a cheap wine for export...it and Lancer's gave Portuguese wines a bad name...
@mac... Lancer's is the one in the terra cotta fiasco.

But wait...that means that *any* Italian wine is *traditionally* sold in one.

Anyhow, that one bit of fill spilled over into the rest of the puzzle, making it a total pleasure.

Tita 1:49 PM  

I had to drop the puzzle mid-solve to go study up on fiasco! A hearty head-slap that led me to connect the fiasco-flask-flasche-flacon-flaggon dots...
And here http://blog.oup.com/2008/04/fiasco/ is someone's desperate attempt to explain how fiasco morphed to mean complete and disastrous failure.

@Ludy...agree about the suitability of Mateus fiasci as candlesticks...and that's about all...a cheap wine for export...it and Lancer's gave Portuguese wines a bad name...
@mac... Lancer's is the one in the terra cotta fiasco.

But wait...since it means "bottle", *any* Italian wine is *traditionally* sold in one.

Anyhow, that one bit of fill spilled over into the rest of the puzzle, making it a total pleasure.

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spacecraft 12:06 PM  

*flush* And now, back to the show.

Yo, if you want Italian lessons I recommend a ROCKYSTART! I have to agree, the theme phrases aren't the tightest, but yeah, OFL's criticism does seem rather anal.

Lazenby was a joke, the Edsel of Bonds. I don't mind PLAYINGSOLO so much, but that whole section was a bear. Thank goodness I remember "Oh, please, stay by me, DIANA," Anka's tribute to the cha-cha craze. SCATS, okay, but GITS? I know it; I just didn't think I'd ever see it in a xowrd grid. And ENBLOC is another rarely used saying. So I'm left with _IN_E-watch. Huh? Lemme tell ya, THAT took some alphabet-running. I did finally find BINGE, and luckily my memory was jogged by a single recent reference to an (in-)activity that makes no sense to me. You can bet your last nickel you'll never find me BINGE-watching ANYTHING. Absurd.

Over in the SE corner was another near-natick. River names make my eyelids DROOP, and I never heard of "Novi Sod." Didn't know GSA either, but guessed that _ER_S, as natives of somewhere, might be SERBS, and so to the CODA.

So, no BIKED? Have we turned the triathlon into a bi? No, that's a whole nother event, involving GATS and skis.

I generally liked it, with the twin Italian entries ALDENTE and CHIANTI (cue the quivering lip of you-know-who). Easy-medium most of the way; S/SE turns it into a straight medium. B-.

Now that was weird. The captcha presented nine photos of food, with the directive "Select all sushi below." I neither eat nor recognize sushi. Fortunately I was retriggered to a number, 325, the first in months. Uh-oh, and now I've been timed out; here goes. Wish me luck. 7300; still no good.

rondo 1:15 PM  

This puz was OK. Despite what OFL says about it, I have been seen PLAYINGSOLO if I have no partner at the golf course. So I'll buy it.

Had sOdA at first, but it cleared up. Same with etudE for SCALE.

Why turn a perfectly good word like ERAS into an acronym??

My cousin's daughter DIANA was named after that song. So like OFL dfcroes of the fill, I guess I am also trending older. Can't be a kid forever Rex!!

Good thing we have SERIN and not sarin, or we'd all be dead. BTW - SERIN was our favorite beer-cart girl at the course last year. Yeah baby.

No complaints really. I thought this one fair.

rondo 1:18 PM  

Sorry, OFL decries - blame my re-built left limb again.

rain forest 1:34 PM  

Clever, cute, medium, but not wonky.
The prince of anality strikes again, but I will not respond. He wouldn't read us syndies anyway. Write over: Ibid before IDEM.

I semi-BINGE-watched Breaking Bad, if you can semi-binge-watch anything.

Re captcha: I had the food thing a couple of months ago. Weird, yes, but much more fun than just getting a checkmark.

Burma Shave 1:34 PM  

DACTYLS ODE

If you’re ANTI OMANI you may SKIP this poem,
ORR DROOP INTER the LOIRE.
But in the ASPEN the SERIN RAN to its home
And the SERBS EEL SCATS ASYET more.

--- DIANA DORY, DDT
This stream of unconscientiousness sponsored by CODA COLA

Ginger 12:45 AM  

Harrison Ford was flying SOLO a couple of weeks ago when he crash landed on a golf course. Of course, no one will see this because I'm so late.

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

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