Offspring of Beauty / THU 4-30-15 / Paige of Broadway London's West End / Galloping Gourmet in Germany / Clothing line from Oscar-winning singer

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Constructor: Herre Schouwerwou

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Famous people (or, once, a fictional character) + other word (except in the case of HERR KERR, where the pattern's reversed for some reason) = wacky phrase that sounds like actual phrase. Oh, and they all rhyme with "air" (again, HERR KERR seems like an outlier here, but I guess "KERR" = "CARE," which I would never have guessed). Looks like all the (alleged) "-air" sounds are spelled differently. Was that the goal? — I don't really know if that's an accurate description, but it's the best I got.

Theme answers:
  • POEHLER BARE (polar bear)
  • CHER WEAR (shareware)
  • BELLE HEIR (Bel Air)
  • HERR KERR (hair care) (??)
  • THOREAU FAIR (thoroughfare) 
Word of the Day: NON-METAL (41D: Any of about 18 elements on the periodic table) —
In chemistry, a nonmetal (or non-metal) is a chemical element that mostly lacks metallic attributes. Physically, nonmetals tend to be highly volatile (easily vaporised), have low elasticity, and are good insulators of heat and electricity; chemically, they tend to have high ionization energy and electronegativity values, and gain or share electrons when they react with other elements or compounds. Seventeen elements are generally classified as nonmetals; most are gases (hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, neon, chlorine, argon, krypton, xenon and radon); one is a liquid (bromine); and a few are solids (carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, selenium, and iodine). (wikipedia)
• • •

No time for a full write-up today.

This was a weird one. I found it hard, despite the fact that when I look over the grid now, there's nothing hard-seeming about it, except that theme, which is bizarre. FREAKY, even. Fill is pretty clean, which, as you know, I like. But the theme … it doesn't hold together well at all. I like its wacky spirit, but despite the "-air" rhyme thing, it's got virtually nothing holding it together. The people involved aren't even all people. The non-people words are all different parts of speech, and one of them comes first (HERR KERR), where every other time they come second. People don't have anything in common besides being reasonably well known (again, for the third time, HERR KERR is an outlier—I had no idea what that guy's name was. I think he's from a generation before mine. I couldn't tell you his first name. All I want to say is "Jerome" … it's "Graham"). Grid is strangely built, with giant corners and ultra-choppy middle. No harm done there, as those big corners are cleanly filled. They did add some difficulty to the solve.

So the theme is very loose and inconsistent. It is also responsible for most of the difficulty (big corners and tough cluing responsible for rest—lots of one-worders and vagueness). If theme had made more sense, I would've enjoyed this one.

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


    Loren Muse Smith 7:05 AM  

    Oh, man, Rex – I beg to differ here.

    The first themer that fell for me was BELLE HEIR, and I loved it. THOREAU FAIR was next, and as the magnitude of the conceit slowly became apparent, I was floored. Just think about what, ahem, Herre, has done. It’s five-fold

    1. Find last names of famous people that are homophones for regular words. POEHLER, THOREAU… check.

    2. Find common phrases that work with above words. POEHLER bear, THOREAU fare. Check.

    3. Change the second word of the phrase to create a wacky new phrase. POEHLER BARE, THOREAU FAIR. Check.

    4. Find two symmetrical pairs. Check and check.

    5. Find a fifth themer that runs down the middle and crosses with two other themers. Check. And checkmate, buddy.

    Think about how hard this had to have been. While I got ready for work and drove in, I racked my brain for other possibilities. JAYNE ERR was all I could come up with. PEW is right. And Jayne isn’t even a last name.

    Heck, just to find *any* famous name and manipulate it like this is hard just to complete the first two steps. CROWE’S FEAT is out because of the S. DOGG DAZE is a keeper, if I do say so myself. FOXX GNUS, not so much.

    This theme and its execution is, in my opinion, brilliant.

    Michele Curley 7:09 AM  

    I liked this puzzle - a lot. I was able to solve it 20 minutes faster than my average. (I'm a relative newbie.). I also liked the theme, probably because I'm a language teacher. Maybe the "HerrKerr" is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the author of the puzzle. I also liked the placement of rock ('em) and sock ('em). What can I say--I'm a nerd.

    Rex Porker 7:29 AM  

    Leave it to me to take one of the best puzzles of the past few weeks and hate it, basically because it has a theme. I have a secret formula for which themes I find acceptable, and pretty much no theme fits into that formula. This puzzle was clever, remarkably tight and free a bad fill, had some excellent puns, and was the perfect level of challenging (***for a Thursday***), but I will dwell on complaining about how the theme doesn't fit into my preconceived notions of what a theme should be. It is reviews like today's that basically ruin my credibility when I trash truly awful puzzles like Tuesday's.
    If I say a few of the puzzles suck, then they probably do. If I say almost all of the puzzles suck, then I am probably the one doing the sucking.

    Anonymous 7:31 AM  

    I'm with LMS. Brilliant puzzle, tied together by the constructor's first name. "Poehler Bare" and "Thoreau Fair" are off the charts.

    Denise Dobkowski Hammond 7:32 AM  

    I own two of Graham Kerr's cookbooks and I still had to come here to figure out what the heck the answer meant. 7:39 AM  

    Thank you for explaining Herr Kerr. I couldn't figure it out especially since Kerr is pronounced like "Cur", so Hair Cur made no sense to me! I found this puzzle hard and not that enjoyable. I did like Thoreau Fair and Belle Heir.

    Anonymous 7:42 AM  

    I had the NO of 41d which led to the very confident filling on of NOBLEGAS. This led to the wonderful answers of "lilt" for LIMP, and "sagiest" (misspelled of course) for LOOSEST. Couple that with misreading "firm" as "film" which led to ACETATE for 68a, and you have a FREAKY southeast. I also never know if it's ahh or AAH.

    Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...

    All eventually sussed out, which led to a very satisfying Thursday finish.

    Thank you Mr. Schouwerwou.

    Aketi 7:46 AM  

    @lms, thanks for your marvelous write up this morning. It was much appreciated. While I did manage to finish with minimal trouble, my brain definitely went on pause with the theme.
    I did manage to remember that my mother watched Graham Kerrr because she thought he was cute,

    Imagine attending a 2-hour college FAIR with over 200 schools sending recruiters for school of about 3000 science-oriented EGGHEADs and their parents. My synapses just gave up entirely when we finished with the recruiters in classrooms and entered the gym where the recruiters were packed like sardines in little booths.

    Aketi 7:47 AM  

    That's why my brain was fried this am

    Anonymous 7:51 AM  

    When her friends surprised her, did the bride-to-be say, "a SCHOUWERWOU?!"

    steveo 7:52 AM  

    NOblEgAs got me for a while too. That, and THOREAU isn't really a homophone of thorough. Once I got past that I wanted THOREAUshow (see, it rhymes like CHERWEAR).

    Fun and challenging, and ultimately solvable.

    mathguy 7:54 AM  

    Pretty easy for a Thursday. 29 squares occupied by gimmes but only 11 squares occupied by unknowns. That's a MGI OF -18. Most Thursday's are around +20.

    Liked the puns, liked the puzzle.

    NCA President 7:55 AM  

    @LMS Thanks for explaining the theme. After I read your post I warmed up to the puzzle a lot more than immediately after completing it. Maybe Rex was so much in a hurry that his usual adeptness at naming the theme was compromised...but you explained it well.

    Also, Rex's levels of difficulty usually coincide with mine where "challenging" of any level equates, for me, to having to Google at least once or do some kind of cheat. But today, no cheats...which usually correspond to an "easy" level from Rex. So, I'm calling the puzzle "easy," even though it took me a while...but I finished with no cheats.

    Some of the cluing was a tad bit on the gratuitous side (49D, Skips the rite stuff? [tortured] 16A, Performers with lots of fans? [GEISHAS only use maybe two fans at once?])...notice that they are all the ? clues (which, to me, conflict with the themers which are also ? clues).

    So, yeah, like Rex I felt like the puzzle, upon completion looked pretty tame, but the snags came with some really obscure cluing.

    Weird puzzle for a Thursday, though. Usually there is some kind of extra level puzzle (rebus, letters missing), but this was pretty straight ahead.

    Anonymous 7:56 AM  

    So he complains when the puzzle is too easy and he complains when the puzzle is too hard. He's a complainer. One starts to understand why he didn't get tenure.

    joho 7:58 AM  

    So happy that @Loren set the right positive tone that this puzzle deserves. And remember, folks, if it's wacky @Rex won't like it.

    Beautifully done, Herre Schouwerwou!

    (Silly and temporary mistake with pARTIME before WARTIME. I know it's missing a T but, still I considered it until I saw TOPLINE.)

    r.alphbunker 8:00 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    r.alphbunker 8:02 AM  

    Wow! I raced through the top half of this in 1/10 the time it took to solve the whole puzzle. I can't remember ever solving a puzzle where one half was so easy and the other so hard.

    Some things I had to get rid of to finish the bottom:

    {Hitch} snag --> LIMP
    LBJ didn't want to be a oneTIME-->WARTIME president
    {Word with parking or price} tickET->STREET (is there any requirement with these type of clues that the answer must either follows or precedes both words?)
    {Of the highest reputation} TOPrank --> TOPLINE

    Loren Muse Smith 8:02 AM  

    Someone may have already added this - I'm in a huge hurry. As I was on bus duty this morning, I realized I left out a step. (So now there are SIX steps) - all the themers rhyme!!!!

    Lewis 8:10 AM  

    Is CODERED the new DOOK?

    The tricky cluing made my brain work hard -- which I like. The clue for ATTACHE made me smile. Like Rex, I didn't know who KERR was and needed a moment to figure it must be pronounced like "care" (but someone above says no to that).

    I think @lms is correct in that this was an impressive constructing accomplishment (for her reasons plus the clean fill and excellent cluing, and that Rex is correct in that the theme is inconsistent in quality (if BELLEHEIR and HERR KERR were up to the quality of the other three, this would have been one of the puzzles of the year, IMO).

    All in all, a memorable and satisfying solve (thank you HERRE!), and another -- I hope I'm sounding like a broken record here -- refreshingly nonjudgmental review from Rex.

    AliasZ 8:14 AM  

    I found much pleasure in this puzzle. The phrases of names+AIR homophones tickled my fancy - and I swear, I am not a homophone. Never mind that HERR is not a perfect homophone of hAIR, nor is THOREAU for 'thorough,' but close enough for punning. Shareware and the Chevy Bel Air were my favorites.

    The fill was über-free of crosswordese too, appearing more like a good themeless. ESSA, BLTS, EMEER and the dreaded TSK were as bad as it got. That is superb. Those lovely seven-stacks in the four corners of the compass rose were exemplary for their variety and cleanliness. The cluing was excellent too, "skips the rite stuff?" and "paper work not usually done at the office" especially sparkle.

    I couldn't help notice that ELAINE makes a curtain call in almost the same spot as yesterday. We also have some DISROBED GEISHAS and a FREAKY EGGHEAD with NONMETAL MUFFLES. How appropriate that those GEISHAS appear alongside ORIGAMI. I liked to see two members of the DENTE family, AL and PAOLO, crossing each other, although I am not familiar with PAOLO DENTE's work. I am familiar however with PAOLO Caliari (1528-1588), not to be confused with Dr. Caligari.

    I have also heard a few works by Italian composer Giovanni PAOLO Cima (c.1570-1622), a lesser-known contemporary of Girolamo Frescobaldi and Claudio Monteverdi. Speaking of which, tonight at Carnegie Hall Monteverdi's "Vespro della Beata Vergine" will be performed by The English Baroque Soloists under by John Eliot Gardiner, and I will be there. Katica, I wish you could join me.

    So far, the best puzzle of the week. By far. Excellent work, HERR Shoe-verve-ooh!

    Mohair Sam 8:16 AM  

    Tough puzzle for us, but we got it. Liked it a lot, and appreciate it even more after reading @lms - thanks Loren.

    How old are we? CHERWEAR and HERRKERR nearly gimmes, but had to fill every letter of POEHLER (just googled her - Oh, that one! Sure - - she's good).

    So having The rhyming CHERWEAR and HERRKERR we assumed that Thoreau had to row. But it didn't fit. But if we distrusted our spelling of Thoreau we made THOuREAUrow work. What a mess. (and I just finished a book which referred to THOREAU repeatedly. Idiot.)

    Anyhow - Very little "ese", very clever theme, very tough cluing - what's not to love?

    Z 8:25 AM  

    The theme helped me finish because I had TOP rank crossing tickET in the SE. The realization that the K wasn't going to allow an "air" finish helped me let go of my tick (testy people tend to have ticks, dontchaknow) and finish.

    I agree with @LMS. Theme is tight enough, "puns on names creating wacky 'air' phrases." The exceptions, BELLE is fictional and KERR comes second, are fine in service of the other requirements in my opinion. I had a good time solving this puzzle. I did start wondering if this was going to be an outhouse puzzle for me (my first letters in were RDA at 21A), but once I worked out from SOW/OWL I started to get on Schouwerwou's wavelength and proceeded apace. I have to wonder if Schouwerwou hears as many interesting pronunciations of that last name as I hear of mine (mine is a weird looking Dutch name with an "-igte-" letter sequence that is hard to process for English, Spanish, Arabic, French, heck - anyone who speaks something besides Dutch or German).

    @Aketi - All three of my sons went to strong science schools (Kalamazoo College and Warren Wilson College) so that they could major in Religion, Political Science, and English. Personally, I think those "fairs" are a waste of time. If you can visit campuses do that. Several promising schools got knocked of their lists after the visits because of factors you can't know from a brochure, website, or recruiter.

    Anonymous 8:30 AM  

    @Lewis @8:10: You have a very strange understanding of the word "nonjudgmental:"

    "This was a weird one."

    "But the theme … it doesn't hold together well at all."

    "'s got virtually nothing holding it together."

    "Grid is strangely built, with giant corners and ultra-choppy middle."

    "So the theme is very loose and inconsistent."

    "If theme had made more sense, I would've enjoyed this one."

    I'd say Rex's review had a very dense theme consisting of "judgmental." It seems you have been so inured to Rex's diatribes that any review that doesn't consist of a non-stop rant is now perceived as reasonable.

    Billy C 8:46 AM  


    Re: Thoreau not a homophone for thorough.

    Actually, it is.

    Most people think HDT pronounced his last name
    "Thor - OH."

    In fact, he pronounced it as "thorough."

    As a long-time Concord native, I can assure you of this. ;-)


    chefbea 8:47 AM  

    Tough one but I finally finished. Still don't understand Herrkerr - I too pronounce his name Graham Cur. Maybe in Germany Kerr is pronounced "care"

    We have a street here in Wilmington...Kerr Avenue. The correct way to pronounce this street is CAR..go figure

    Carola 8:54 AM  

    I agree with the accolades on the theme and TOPLINE fill. Like some others, after entering CHERWEAR, I assumed the theme answers would have an internal rhyme rather than rhyming with each other: confused, I actually had to run the alphabet for BELLEHE?R...then the AAH-ha!

    Hey Hey LBJ 9:05 AM  

    Sadly, in a country where "war" is one of the top priorities and drives the economy and political process, pretty much every president is a "wartime president." (Carter is the only recent exception that comes to mind.)

    RnRGhost57 9:06 AM  

    Really fun puzzle. Thank you HS.

    Anonymous 9:07 AM  

    Here in Philadelphia, where words that end in -er rhyme with purr not pear, this one was a little confusing.

    Becca 9:14 AM  

    Thank you, Rex, for posting Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee song “Air”, wherein she sings in a soaring kind of moment that “you were patiently giving me every answer.“ An interesting rhythm in that song with the electric guitar at the anvil, with how many strong largo beats per measure? Six? And syncopation, and other stuff.

    Charles Flaster 9:17 AM  

    Loved each themer as it was an "aha" moment.
    Agree with LMS more than Rex.
    Kerr has two different sounds as in Deborah or Johnny (old time NBA).
    Liked cluing for ELSE, ATTACHE,ORIGAMI( got me once before) and FEUD.
    TOPLINE was a stretch from " top of the line".
    ELAINE Paige is a brilliant Broadway performer I really enjoy.
    No crosswordEASE.
    Thanks HS.

    Ludyjynn 9:17 AM  

    Loved, loved, loved this puzzle. Clever, clever, clever. Fun, fun, fun. Perfect Thursday fare. TSK, TSK, Rex.

    Thanks a bunch, HS and WS. This really hit the sweet spot.

    Nancy 9:18 AM  

    @mathguy -- Before I forget, I've been meaning to ask you: Is MGI a real math term or a made-up term? I've never heard it before and was wondering if it might stand for "mathguy index".

    I had an @r.alphbunker experience, in that I found the top half very easy and the bottom half not so much. Had LInk before LIMP. Didn't understand the pronunciation of HERR KERR, either. Nor have I ever heard of "share wear." But I finished. And once I got over my predictable non-rebus disappointment, I found this lively and fun -- for a pun puzzle. (Haven't we had an awful lot of pun puzzles this week, though?)

    Bob Kerfuffle 9:22 AM  

    Excellent puzzle! Who could ask for anything more?

    Well, as noted, some of us still hope for a Thursday rebus, but its absence is not the constructor's fault.

    Hand up for NOBLEGAS before NONMETAL, and Sod before SOW at 24 A.

    According to the all-knowing internets Kerr rhymes with "hair" and "care."

    Anonymous 9:24 AM  

    Clueing CADENCE as tempo is a bit squirrely. It's certainly not true in music, and tempo is a musical term.

    Billy C 9:24 AM  

    @Nancy --

    It's "shareware."

    A form of downloadable software that is time-limited, or feature-limited. The publisher's goal is to entice the downloader to purchase the non-restricted version of the software.

    Anonymous 9:26 AM  

    Like others I was at first bothered by HERRKERR which I thought did not come close to "Hair care" in pronunciation. But a little web browsing brought out that Graham Kerr is English and that Kerr is a Scottish name who many pronounce quite similarly to "care". Try clicking the speaker icon in

    Gerry W

    On Borrowed Time 9:31 AM  

    @r.alphbunker-Ditto. Finished the entire northern hemisphere in 3 minutes. I was headed for a Thursday record. 37 minutes later I completed the southern hemisphere. I was wondering if others had this experience.

    Agree with @Rex that in hind sight the south looks rather clean and straight forward.

    wreck 9:34 AM  

    I guess I'm in the distinct minority - I wasn't overly "wowed" by this puzzle. I might have even switched yesterday with today's in both difficulty and "trickery."

    Lewis 9:36 AM  

    Factoid: It is estimated that there are 1,000 to 2,000 GEISHA in Japan (mostly in the resort town of Atami), compared with over 80,000 in the 1920s.

    Quotoid: "To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody ELSE means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." -- e. e. cummings

    Armagh 9:41 AM  

    I guess the extent to which one does or does not enjoy this puzzle depends on the degree to which one appreciates "cutesy" themes. I don't. Medium puzzle effortwise. Grid lay-out creates two unfortunate dead sections that rely on too much three-letter fill.

    Lewis 9:42 AM  
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    Lewis 9:43 AM  

    @anon 8:30 -- One can be critical without being judgmental, I believe. This, from the free dictionary: JUDGMENTAL -- Inclined to make judgments, especially moral or personal ones.

    Norm 9:43 AM  

    Fantastic puzzle. For a while, I thought each part of the theme answers had to rhyme, since CHER WEAR and HERR KERR were the first ones I got, so that slowed me down/perplexed me until I got THOREAU FAIR, and the rest came relatively easily. HERR KERR would have come even easier had it been clued to the Golden State Warriors head coach. Go Team!

    What is this new annoying match-an-image captcha? Ugh.

    Roo Monster 9:58 AM  

    Hey All !
    Fine puz, sneaking in five themers with rhyming "air"s. Hands up for the N easyish, S challenging. In SW, wanted the themer to end in hERR, but once figured out TOWS and SNAP, saw TSh wasn't right, so changed to TSK. Don't know KERR, but figured with the clue it might be HERR first, and was right! Took a sec to suss FREAKY for some reason. Had __EAKY, couldn't get off sneaky! So that was one writeover, others were DUadS-> DUETS, gIMP-> LIMP. But that was it. I managed to finish this puz with no cheats, no mistakes! No WEEPing or TSK TSKing today!

    HOKUM is a fun word. FREAKY HOKUM is a fun line!


    Ellen S 10:02 AM  

    Wikipedia says the surname KERR can be pronounced "car, cur or care". But I never knew Graham was a care-Kerr, so even after I finished the puzzle, I had to come here to find out what that themer was about.

    Like others, I thought it was super-easy on top, and a lot less so on the bottom half. I'm with Loren and everyone except @Rex on liking the theme. I was going to say, before coming here and seeing @Loren's writeup, that @Rex was overthinking the theme, but I see he was underthinking it. As I was; the difference being that I enjoyed it, despite the hitch when I confidently put KERR in the front of 39D, causing me to LIMP to the finish.

    Hartley70 10:07 AM  

    @CharlesFlaster and @LudyJynn, I too love, love, loved this puzzle from the moment I entered ORIGAMI and saw the ELAINE Paige shoutout. She's especially fantastic on my CD of "Chess". If I knew how to add a musical link, it would go here!

    No dreck! I couldn't find one smidge. I've been conditioned to expect that Patrick Berry has created anything this good. Could Herr Schouwerwou be his nom de plume du jour, in German of course?

    GILL I. 10:10 AM  

    I remember our constructors name from a previous puzzle that I loved as well. He's quite talented. Thank you @Loren for setting the right mind-set on this brilliant puzzle.
    I think I smiled at just about all the answers. SNAP did throw me a bit because I thought what if the waiter's name is SNAP? FREAKY was whacky so that entire middle west section held me up a bit. This little PIGGIES went to market....Wee wee, all the way home.
    When can we get some more senor Herre?

    Z 10:22 AM  

    @Hartley70 - I Know Him So Well

    Becca 10:23 AM  

    I found on Youtube that Graham Kerr pronounces his own name to rhyme with "care".

    Steve J 10:26 AM  
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    Steve J 10:31 AM  

    @wreck: I'll join you in that distinct minority who was not blown away by this one. I'll admit it could be because of my own struggles with it. Like @r.alphbunker, @Nancy and @On Borrowed Time, I blew through the top half of the puzzle and sat staring at a mostly empty bottom half. Even after I got both KERR and THOREAU parts of those answers, the crosses weren't coming for me, and because I didn't stretch them into pronunciations they don't ordinarily have, I couldn't see the other half of the themers. (To me, THOREAU as it's pronounced by nearly everyone is not a homonym with thorough, and I've always heard KERR as cur. Maybe Graham KERR pronounces his surname differently. I'm familiar only with the name "The Galloping Gourmet" - I've never seen nor heard him, let alone heard him saying his name.)

    Theme aside, I do agree with others that this is remarkably well-filled. Each of those big corners has some really nice fill - EGGHEAD, PIGGIES, MUFFLES, WARTIME, HANKERS - and there's the thinnest amount of dreck (really only EMEER, which at least the NYT flagged as a variant for once).

    On the whole, from my seat, it was a good puzzle that is short of greatness because of the homophone issues.

    Arlene 10:37 AM  

    I thought all the theme answer words were going to rhyme with air, having gotten CHERWEAR first. So that threw me off a bit.
    I did know the Galloping Gourmet - the wacky chef from the 1970's - remember him accidentally setting fire to his potholder.
    I needed a bit of an assist for ELAINE, to complete the puzzle - had MUZZLE before MUFFLE.

    Anonymous 10:43 AM  

    Enjoyed the themers, esp POEHLERBARE and THOREAUFAIR.

    Very little HOKUM fill was appreciated.


    Only Hitch was LIMP? Huh?

    Hartley70 10:44 AM  

    Thanks @Z! That musical never got the attention it deserved. I've only heard it in concert and love the music.

    On the other hand, the Galloping Gourmet, probably got more! I'm just the right age to remember his goofiness on TV, but too young to have wanted any cookery lessons at the time. I did love being reminded of him today, though.

    My apologies Herr Schouwerwou for confusing your gifts with those of Mr. Berry. Here in Rexworld, however, that puts you on the Hollywood A list. I hope that you're Red Carpet ready.

    Zeke 10:47 AM  

    The "eeeh" minority continues to grow as I throw in my two cents. Outside of the themers, it was a pretty good puzzle, but since you have a theme, that observation is pointless. Seriously, The Galloping Gourmet? A man whose two minutes of fame was a daytime cooking show lasting less than two years 40+ years ago?

    I don't know if Ms. Poehler is given to ego-surfing, but I sure hope not. Whatever glee she may have gotten from appearing as an answer in the NYTimes Xword puzzle would have to destroyed by having the appearance it had. I'm sure that since she was 8 she'd been taunted by "have you ever seen a Poehler bare" jokes at school. It's always nice when other's casual amusements bring up past pains.

    AliasZ 10:50 AM  

    @ Billy C,

    I am sure you are right and dictionarydotcom is wrong. Here is how they think thorough and THOREAU are pronounced. Click on the speaker icons. Your next mission, should you choose to accept it, is to convince them to fix it.

    Wikipedia: "Amos Bronson Alcott and Thoreau's aunt each wrote that 'Thoreau' is pronounced like the word 'thorough' (pronounced THUR-oh—/ˈθʌroʊ/—in General American, but more precisely THOR-oh—/ˈθɔːroʊ/—in 19th-century New England). Edward Waldo Emerson wrote that the name should be pronounced 'Thó-row', with the h sounded and stress on the first syllable. Another, perhaps more common pronunciation among modern-day American speakers is thə-ROH—/θəˈroʊ/—accented on the second syllable."

    Be all that as it may, his paternal grandfather was born in Jersey (Jèrriais), and the -eau ending betrays French origins, hence the accent on the second syllable does make sense.

    You say THUR-oh, I say thə-ROH -- let's call the whole thing off.

    This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Billy C.

    Hartley70 10:53 AM Testing 123.

    Hartley70 10:56 AM  

    Nope, how DO you DO that? I copied the link and then hit paste. Logical, but wrong.

    Robert Frost 10:56 AM  

    I was strolling down the THOREAUFAIR,
    The view was TOPLINE,
    And since it wasn't WARTIME,
    I felt like the prince of BELLEHEIR.

    Stop Whining 11:06 AM  

    Skrillax, @Zeke.:
    Here we go again. A word is obscure to you, so it is therefore a terrible answer in a crossword puzzle. In the future, puzzle constructors should surely consult you to suss whether a clue lies with in your particular fund of knowledge before submitting their puzzle to the Times.

    Hey, I never heard of the guy, either. But he was fairly crossed, it made for a decent pun and a great fit with a great theme, and I learned something. Rather than whine about it, why not take the same approach? Wouldn't be much fun if every answer was a gimme, would it?

    Anonymous 11:09 AM  

    Hey @ Hartley70, try this:

    how to add an HTML link

    jae 11:18 AM  

    Add me to the LMS contingent on this. Delightful! My only issue was that it was too easy for a Thurs., but then I know who Graham Kerr is.

    Leapfinger 11:19 AM  

    TSK. Didn't get my Thurs rebus fix, but still thought this puzzle ROCKs. Look, I don't even know how to CODER, but for HERR Schouwerwou, I CODERED with glee. I think I ROES to the occasion on account of the BLTS, the FEUD of the Gods.

    Really enjoyed seeing POEHLER BARE, and I'm sure I'm not alone on that. For me, there was the additional fodder that it lets us revisit the pronunciation of "Boehner". Got a THOREAU understanding of how rarefied the AIR could be, TH'EAU I found that FAre wasn't FAIR, and TAINT a good fit with a [price or parking] tickET. Thought I spotted a touch of HOKUM around the Galloping Gourmet, since I hear KERR usually spoken as Carr. Hairy Kerry not required.

    Erroneous paths I took:
    NOble gas before NONMETAL, and No, I don't need any chemists telling me "Boy, is that dumb!"
    As mentioned, FAre wasn't FAIR and tickET wasn't STREET
    FREAKY wasn't quirKY or spooKY; how bizarre.
    Maybe the last thing LBJ wanted was to be a WARTIME president, but I remembered that near the TERM end, he said he didn't want to be a two-TIME president

    I've heard for a fact that when Castro and Guevara CODERED, "ATTA CHE!" quoth Fidel.

    Nice to see:
    ELAINE seems to have come HOME to her comfy spot in the grid
    The subtle nod to RAWed E. McDOWEL
    The plan to RETAR the ROCK a WAYS, and maybe also Anita LOOSE STREET
    MUFFLE ETA, as they make them i New Orleans (Yum)
    O FLATE, which suggests D. FLATE and yesterday's con FLATE
    I SEEN LIMP, but AL DENTE is always better
    I haven't read all the comments yet, but I'm sure RAWer minds than mine have already made hay of the AL DENTE, HARD vs LIMP issue. Just remember, as you SOW, so shall you WEEP.

    Loved yer clues, mine Herre. All very SPRUCE and TOPLINE. Too bad we can't ELOPE.

    Zeke 11:19 AM  

    @Stop Whining - When did I say I didn't know KERR? In fact I did know it (I learned about ghee from his show), I just didn't think it appropriate as a theme entry. It was a judgement on my part, one I stand by, for the reasons I cited. Contrast KERR to POEHLER. Kerr was daytime, 40+ years ago, two years on air. Poehler was in two very popular shows, 6+ years each, all within the past decade. There's no comparison between the two.

    Z 11:22 AM  

    @Zeke - Number of original shows is not a good measure of cultural impact (the original Star Trek and Roots come to mind). I never watched KERR or Child but know both of them well. These two strike me as the cultural forebears of The Food Network. I think both Emeril and Guy Fieri display a certain "galloping gourmet" in their schticks.

    I'm confused by the "homophone" criticism. The least homophonic is THOREAU, and that phonic difference is open to debate. I'm also curious about all the different pronunciations of KERR. I always heard it as "care," so am surprised that so many thought it sounded like "cur." Not so surprised by THOREAU, having seen this debate before (here I think). Of course, I can barely understand a heavy Boston accent so imagine there are many "correct" pronunciations.

    old timer 11:23 AM  

    I just barely remembered that the Galloping Gourmet was "care" not "cur" or "car". (In England, the "er" combination classically rhymes with "car" -- The 50's actress Deborah Kerr pronounced it that way, and she was British-born.)

    So, what the constructor had to do was to search for a KERR that rhymed. Fortunately (as Rex well knows) old Henry David rhymed his name with "burrow".

    I admire the puzzle more now than when I was doing it, because it was definitely Thursday hard even without any rebi -- oops, I) mean rebuses.

    Leapfinger 11:30 AM  

    @LMS, nice breakdown formulation of today's theme, and your avatar-du-jour apse-olutely surprised me.

    re your JAYNE ERR: you could recover the surname pattern with JAIN, a last name found in India. Jainism being a religion that revolted against Hinduism, it may be a little arcane for general consumption, and the reason Iknow it is thatIhad anadvisor by that name.

    Now to prospect for more nuggets.

    evil doug 11:30 AM  

    Even I was overwhelmed by the prurient possibilities in this puzzle. A BARE DISROBED POEHLER. HARD (as a ROCK?) crossing GEISHA. LIMP, FLAT, LOOSEST, FREAKY, RAW. It's enough to TEAR people's TAINTS!


    Anonymous 11:33 AM  

    evil, I thought you might go there. "The Taint, The Grundle, The Fleshy Fun Bridge..."
    You are going to make @Nancy blush.

    wreck 11:34 AM  

    Personally, the two people that come to mind named "Kerr" are Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors coach) and Robert S. Kerr (former Oklahoma Governor and U.S. Senator) who may be better known as being from the same family as the Kerr-McGee Company (think the Karen Silkwood case).
    They both pronounce "Kerr" as "cur."

    Becca 11:42 AM  

    Regarding pronunciation … the Walden Wood Project website [], (which is devoted to Thoreau), posts something from “The Goddard Biblio Log [The Goddard Biblio Log, Spring 1973, p. 7] (a journal of the Clark University Library in Worcester, Mass.):

    ‘A note on pronouncing the name Thoreau: in determining the way in which to pronounce his name, it seems best to bow to the authority of those who knew the Thoreau Family well. Edward Emerson, the son of Ralph Waldo Emerson, is very clear. In a letter to Dr. Loring Holmes Dodd, October 11, 1918, he wrote: "We always called my friend Thó-row, the h sounded, and accent on the first syllable.”’

    Aside from the rhyme and the accent, I’m not sure what it means to “sound the h” — is it different from the common “th” sound or is it the “th” sound?

    MDMA 11:50 AM  

    Took a while to get started, as there were hardly any gimmes for me.

    Missed the "air" rhyming at first and fixated on CHER gEAR for a while. I guess "sog" must be some newfangled fertilizer.

    mac 11:54 AM  

    Whacky Thursday alright. I also found the top half much easier than the bottom. Plus I appreciate it much more after Loren's critique.

    I thought LBJ talked about "one term", but oddly enough one and term both show up elsewhere in the puzzle.

    No matter how Graham pronounces his name, IN GERMANY it would rhyme with care. My husband had one of his books, which I never opened again after I read the recipe for deep fried strawberries. He did have additional shows in England, but he cooked very healthy food after his wife suffered a stroke.

    MDMA 11:55 AM  


    In French, the "h" in Thoreau is silent. There was considerable French Canadian immigration to New England, and probably it took a while before the pronunciation of surnames in that region was fully anglicized.

    r.alphbunker 11:55 AM  


    MGI stands for "mathguy index." It is computed as follows:
    Let G = the number of letters in entries that you are very confident of without knowing any letter. It is okay to check the crosses to see if the answers make sense.

    Let U = the number of letters in answers that you do not know. For example, I have never heard of ELAINE Paige so that contributes 6 letters to U.

    The MGI = U - G.

    My MGI for today's puzzle was was -8 because my gimmes totaled 58 letters:
    {Layered lunch orders} BLTS
    {Say ___} AAH
    {Horrified} AGHAST
    {Man's name that's an alphabet run} STU
    {Wooden rod} DOWEL
    {Snowy _owl} OWL
    {Surface again, as a road} RETAR
    {Landing info, briefly} ETA
    {Brain-busting} HARD
    {Paperwork usually not done at the office} ORIGAMI
    {Fig. for a dietician} RDA
    {Don't ___} ASK
    {Pageant coif, maybe} UPDO
    {Ends of some utensils} TINES

    and my unknowns totaled 50 letters:
    {One time owner of NBC} (3) Did not know
    {Any of about 18 elements on the periodic table} (8) Why "about"
    ___ Research Center (polling group) (3) Have vaguely heard of them but know nothing about them
    Paige of Broadway and London's West End (6) No idea
    "The Walking Dead" channel (3) Don't watch TV so channel clues are usually unknown
    Like a mizzenmast on a ship (3) Did not know this
    Wear, and look great doing it (4) Have heard of the expression "You rock" but did not know it was about clothing
    Veronese who painted "The Wedding at Cana" (5) No idea
    Naked "Parks and Recreation" star? (11) Have heard of Amy Poehler but did not know she is in "Parks and Recreation"
    Italian pronoun (4) Knew that it probably contained e's, s's and o's

    What is not included in the MGI are answers you know once you overcome the misdirection of their clues. Counting these answers would add 16 points to my MGI giving 8.

    What is nice about the MGI is that it makes you aware of the stuff you learned from the puzzle so that maybe it will be available next time you need it.

    I would be interested to hear @mathguy's comments on this.

    dick swart 12:12 PM  

    It is sometimes disheartening to read a Rex review after having had an enjoyable romp through a puzzle.

    I really liked this Thursday AM.
    Homophones can be as much fun as rebuses.

    Rug Crazy 12:14 PM  

    got sucked into the Nobel Gas trap.
    Don't watch TV, so I have NO IDEA of what show runs on what network
    Puts me at a great disadvantage, these days (don't even know many of the networks)

    dk 12:25 PM  

    🌕🌕🌕🌕 (4 mOOOOns)

    What Loren wrote.

    @zeke, Mary had a little lamb and she also had a bear. I often saw her lamb but I never saw her bear.

    Little Runner 12:25 PM  

    Like in Haley's comic this week, I agree it is no Thursday puzzle.

    Master Melvin 12:43 PM  

    It's been a long time, but my recollection is that the Galloping Gourmet pronounced his last name CAR.

    Cognitive Dissonance 12:44 PM  

    @Z - "Number of original shows is not a good measure of cultural impact... "??? Of course there are exceptions, Star Trek being one (though not Roots - it was a limited engagement, hence out of the equation), but WTF? Extraordinary circumstances aside, the number of original shows == the number of people watching the shows. Then people start copying the successful shows.

    AZPETE 12:51 PM  

    Great puz. Lots of misdirects and puns. Only had to google once to get the correct spelling of HDT.

    Anoa Bob 1:02 PM  

    Gadzooks! All these years I've been pronouncing Henry David Thoreau's name wrong! Also my hard copy Random House dictionary. Also Merriam-Webster's audio pronunciation.

    Puns very rarely, if ever, work for me. Does that mean I'm a KLEPTOMANIAC because I TAKE THINGS LITERALLY?

    Hand up for erroneous NOBLE GAS. Shoulda known there weren't eighteen of those.

    Confidently threw in ONE TERM for the LBJ quote. Oh yeah, that Viet Nam thing. "I will not be deterred by Communist aggression in Southeast Asia."

    Liked GEISHAS doing some ORIGAMI fans.

    Stephen 1:06 PM  

    In a word... wow. Thanks, dear constructor.

    I will forgive you for the EMEER, just because there was so little else to complain about. Even Rex didn't whinge about uglies.

    Not having a TV, and not knowing there was a show called "parks and Recreation", and never having heard of Amy Poehler, it was distressing to see the string POEHLE start developing. Nonetheless, i persisted, and conquered. Very satisfying.

    Anonymous 1:11 PM  

    @Master Melvin Graham Kerr himself pronounced it: care. You can watch videos of his show on the internet

    Ludyjynn 1:11 PM  

    I second @Z's comment to @Zeke about "cultural impact" not necessarily equating to the number of original shows. On PBS, in addition to the relatively short-running but influential Graham KERR show, there was the one and only Julia Child (French) Jacques Pepin (French); Martin Yan (Asian); Justin Wilson (Cajun); Ming Tsai (Asian fusion); Jeff Smith (American), to name a few, all of whom had innovative, ground-breaking short, medium and/or long runs prior to the advent of Food Network 'celebrity' chefs.

    99% of the population 1:34 PM  

    @Ludyjynn Martin Who? Ming Who? Justin Who? Jeff Who?

    Anonymous 1:41 PM  

    You tell 'em @Zeke! You stand by that judgment! You are smarter than the constructor, Will Shortz, and all of us here.

    evil doug 1:48 PM  

    This puzzle was very much like a prudish cheerleader. The top half was much easier than the bottom half.

    Fred Romagnolo 1:50 PM  

    I'm with Anon:10:43 - limp? A person with the puzzler's name would naturally pronounce KERR to rhyme with care if he hadn't ever heard it. As to THOREAU, it's close enough for purposes of a pun puzzle without needing the esoteric knowledge of a professor of American lit. I got my start in the Northeast, and everything flowed from there; I never heard of POEHLER, but did of Graham KERR. The acrosses were fair. I had forgotten the name of Beauty in the Disney version, but it's BELLE in the Cocteau movie; French for beauty. If you haven't seen it, do so - it's enchanting. I also didn't know ELAINE Page, but again, the crosses were fair. The proof that @Mathguy knows his stuff, and that I majored in the Humanities is that I have absolutely no idea of how that system works!

    Anonymous 1:50 PM  

    Rex, I am quite surprised to see that you basically panned this puzzle. As the first commenter said there is much to admire about this puzzle. Whimsical, pleasant to solve and difficult to construct. One of the better puzzle in a long time.
    After 30 years of regular solving I regularly struggle on anything beyond Wednesday. This one I solved the top but needed googling for the bottom. Even then DNF.
    Looking back at all the answers I missed they were all gettable.

    Z 1:53 PM  

    @Cognitive Dissonance - Guessing that the noise stopped you from using the google, I looked up "longest running tv shows" for you. Oh look, Wikipedia has a list.* Music and the Spoken Word has been on the air for 65 years and 4,406+ episodes. The Guiding Light lasted 57 years and 15,762 episodes. There are a couple more soaps in the over 50 group. I suppose there are people out there who would argue that soap operas have had significant cultural impact, but I'd be hard pressed to believe such an argument (Are there conventions where people dress up as their favorite Soap Stars? Did I miss the the movies, spin-off series, spin-off movies, and reboot by JJ Abrams?). As for Music and the Spoken Word, Huh? That sounds like a textbook on Gregorian Chant. I assume someone here watches/has watched this show. Kerr to Cher?

    I guess I could have been clearer and said, "number of original shows by itself..." but I guess I thought that was self-evident.

    @ludyjynn - I think the cultural impact of PBS is often underappreciated. I think sharp TV execs and producers look at PBS for inspiration far more often than we realize. Sesame Street and Austin City Limits are obvious but are really just the tip of iceberg.

    OTL again so I'm done for the day.

    *Yeah - sarcasm and testiness do sound a lot alike. Feel free to consider me testes all you want. Have a ball, as it were.

    Danield 1:56 PM  

    Late to the party, but congratulations and thank you to Herre Schouwerwou for your outstanding puzzle: theme, execution and clues. I was glad to see the post by @Loren Muse Smith ( my new hero) whose comments are spot on. I learned Kerr was "Care" years ago when my aunt made me watch his show, decades before cooking was the big deal it is today. Thanks, Aunt Nora.

    Masked and Anonymo4Us 2:01 PM  

    Old West author's city official?
    Massachusetts senator's weight allowance?
    Flemish painter's twosome?
    Looney Tunes voicer's step up?*

    har. fun.

    on the road in the sunshine state

    *spoiler alert*

    Gray mayor.
    Warren tare. [wear n tear?]
    Bosch pair.
    Blanc stair.

    Clark 2:05 PM  

    I second @mac. In Germany the name KERR would be pronounced care not cur or car. And that is what the clue said.

    And now something that @mac didn't say, though she well might have: the name "Schouwerwou" looks more like a Dutch word than a German one. But I have no idea whether it is a common name or even a real one.

    lawprof 3:03 PM  

    The hoi polloi say "ThorEAU." The cognoscenti say "THOReau." The folks from the small western New Mexico town of the same name say "ThoROO" or sometimes just one syllable "THREW."

    Cognitive Dissonance 3:03 PM  

    @Z - One would presume that Music and the Spoken Word was of great importance to the people in Salt Lake city who've been listening to it for those 65 years, so yes it had great cultural importance within the Mormon community.

    BTW, who was arguing "cultural importance" here, other than you? All anyone mentioned was knowing an individual.

    Old Greek Meanie 3:19 PM  

    @lawprof - . . . and hoi polloi say "the hoi polloi."

    Anonymous 3:32 PM  

    Schouwerwou couchez avec moi
    Ce schwa ?

    A very good THOR's day.

    (PS, that's not Evil D)

    Wood 4:16 PM  

    Very nice explication!

    Anonymous 4:52 PM  

    CD@3:03: Now you're just embarrassing yourself.

    Ludyjynn 5:24 PM  

    @99%, since you asked:

    1. Martin Yan-1998 Emmy winner for "Yan Can Cook" tv show, has world-class knife skills;
    2. Ming Tsai-1999 Emmy winner for best cooking show host, beat Bobby Flay on "Iron Chef America", sells cookware line on HSN (can't get more 99% than that!);
    3. Justin Wilson-recorded 27 comedy albums of Cajun storytelling and music, 1st album sold 1 mill.+ copies, catchphrase: "I gar-on-tee!";
    4. Jeff Smith-hosted "The Frugal Gourmet" from 1983-1997, tv career ended when he settled sex abuse allegations lawsuits, authored 10 cookbooks.

    Now you know.

    Dave 5:32 PM  

    Knew Graham Kerr from my grandmother watching his show - and I'm 55, so it was pretty obscure at best!

    chefbea 5:44 PM left out my cooking show....maybe because it was on the radio.

    Thomaso808 8:01 PM  

    I guess I was in a PIGGIES frame of mind. When I placed the W in CHERWEAR I looked at 24A and said, "Uh, okay, I suppose to her little piglets a SOW could be considered a 'Spread on the farm'". Then the aha hit. Loved it.

    Teedmn 8:34 PM  

    HERR Herre, thanks for the fun Thursday puzzle.

    I felt so smugly smart at the beginning of this puzzle, getting ORIGAMI and PIGGIES with no crosses and working down at a smooth and even CADENCE. Then I sat with the KU of HOKUM, UPDO, ELOPES and STU and nothing ELSE. I nibbled around the edges but the No. Cal section left me with a Blanc Stair (nice one, M&A).

    Finally I decided a three letter word to do with boats had to be AFT, so I started "say"ing to myself "say a..." Oh, it's AAH (or AhH). That let me finish with no cheats but really, RCA and AMC were mysteries and the Galloping Gourmet's real name a total WOE.

    So we get a DOOK of CODERED (@Lewis) and @Leapy's ATTA CHE (you made a good 'case' for that one :-) ). Nice!

    Nancy 9:25 PM  

    Very late getting back here...and then there were so many comments to read. But

    @Billy C.--Thank you for shareware. Since it's a computer term, of COURSE I didn't know it. What else is new? I thought the term was share wear, as in unisex pajamas.

    @R.alphBunker -- I THOUGHT MGI stood for mathguy index!!!! That it was a ratio he thought up himself!!!! I'm so smart!!!! Not smart enough to UNDERSTAND the formula, mind you, but smart enough to know @mathguy created it.

    @lawprof -- I don't know what the hoi polloi say vis-à-vis the cognoscenti, but I went to some well-regarded schools and colleges and ALL my professors pronounced it ThoREAU. Just sayin'.

    jberg 10:45 AM  

    I'm a day late--and a dollar short, in that I had LuMP before LIMP, and never went back to fix that section. Aside from that, I loved the puzzle. There are two schools of thought about this sort of theme:

    1. Make it all symmetrical (e.g., person's name always first) or

    2. Vary it as much as you can within the basic constraint (e.g., spell the sound 4 different ways, make the downs rhyme byt not the acrosses, both surnames and first names (CHER is her first name, folks!)

    I prefer the second, but either can be good.

    My only complaint was cluing PAOLO Veronese as the painter of "The Wedding at Cana," as if it were necessary to distinguish him from all the other famous painters named Veronese.

    Troy 1:42 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    rondo 9:19 AM  

    Agree with evil doug re: prudish cheerleader effect. Big snafu with NOblEgAs (for NONMETAL) entry causing galLaNt for TOPLINE – gallant is high reputation, no? But UPDO had to be right and I corrected myself from there.

    @jberg – obvious misdirect attempt with Veronese since there were many painters, and other gentlemen, from Verona. You should know better.

    Always dislike EMEER, but if it’s nearly the only complaint . . . well, I’ve seen it so often it’s an automatic fill.

    RETAR may be in the vernacular, but it is wrongly used. There is no TAR in your pavement materials or structure. If there was, you wouldn’t like it. Garr-own-teed.

    ELAINE has been popular OFLATE.

    TAINTS have been covered, unfortunately. Above that is.

    POEHLERBARE? Yeah baby. CHERWEAR? Like her onstage costumes? Yeah baby.

    Really liked that there weren’t multiple latters crammed into theme squares. This was a pretty good Thursday puz, IMHO. More Thursdays like this please.

    Burma Shave 10:01 AM  


    If Amy DISROBED, we’d see POEHLERBARE.
    To see CHERWEAR nothing, it’s HARD to compare.
    If they ARE both on the STREET with shaved pubic hair
    it’d make ONESTOP and DIGEST: TAINTS on the THOREAUFAIR.


    spacecraft 11:58 AM  

    Yeah, LIMP for hitch "THOREAU" me for a loop, too. I suppose it comes from the saying "a hitch in [one's] giddyup." But believe me, I ran the alphabet on that sucker. The SE was a "BARE." Another FREAKY clue was "Of the highest reputation" for TOPLINE. Is TOPLINE even a thing? To me, GM's TOPLINE would be the Cadillac. It's a bad entry, and a bad clue for it. I finally put that section to bed with the AAH of ALDENTE.

    Spread on a farm: spread is a verb. To spread (seed, as with a seed spreader) is to SOW. Our friend in the sty is a homonym, not a homophone.

    These difficulties and several others notwithstanding (especially thee homonym "row" meaning FEUD), I navigated around this one successfully. Of all the pronunciation arguments given here, I'd be curious how to say our constructor's name. However it's said, he (I think) deserves high praise. Just look at those meaty corners. They fairly SING. And what memories! The Johnson remark, and of course this:


    I knew @BS would make good use of the POEHLERBARE/DISROBED cross, and he didn't disappoint. But "shaved pubic hair?" C'mon, man. Let's not go all X-rated here. MUFFLES.

    Did Bre'r B'ar have to RETAR the baby after Bre'r Rabbit came by? That word is RETAR-ded, but is BAREly enough to add a minus to the A.

    BS2 12:27 PM  

    @spacey - Sorry, after posting it occurred to me I could/should have used "and shaved down there", but too late to take it back. My apologies.

    rain forest 1:38 PM  

    After reading @Rex's ridiculous and nit-picky review, I was going to immediately scroll down here and offer a terse rebuttal replete with brilliant bon mots and other retorts. Thank goodness @LMS saved me the effort.

    Puzzle is wonderful. When the bulk of the commentariat's conversation revolves around the pronunciation of KERR and THOUREAU (constructor is correct in both cases), you know the puzzle is just fine.

    This is the best puzzle thus far in the week, and in the top 5 of the year, obviously in my opinion. All the examples I could use to support my evaluation have been amply described above. Great stuff, indeed.

    Anonymous 2:04 PM  

    Yesiree Bob, I couldn't have said anything better than Rainforest. Agree, wholeheartedly. Really liked the puzzle and found it Easy/Medium.

    Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (Right next to Lemon Grove, where there hasn't been a grove of anything in years).

    DMG 4:02 PM  

    Broke the code at THOREAUFAIR, which alerted me to look for pronunciation-alikes (like look-alikes?). Got slowed down in the NW by the TV star, thinking POHLER couldn't possibly be right, but adding BARE seemed to make it work sound wise. And, so it went. But, alas, not a perfect finish. I spread SOd on my farm, leaving the singer selling CHERdEAR, which I sounded odd, but there it was. At any rate a good mental romp, and I loved HOOKUM, haven't heard it in years. Sorry for those who missed Graham KERR, his show was a delight. Used to watch it while I was doing the ironing! Another lost art!

    Can't read whatever the robot is offering, and can't seem to it-now what??

    leftcoastTAM 9:00 PM  

    If LBJ didn't want to be a WARTTIME president, he would have SEEN that his EGGHEAD advisors fell FLAT. (Go back to "The Best and the Brightest" by David Halberstam.)

    LadyDi 11:09 PM  

    As a long time lurker of this blog, I rarely comment especially since by the time I get the puzzle in syndiland some 36 days later, all has been said and done. I make the exception today because I so enjoyed this puzzle and would rate it as one of the best in a decade of doing the NYT Xword.

    My batting average on completing the puzzle correctly is pretty good and only on rare occasions am I stymied since I consider the use of google a DNF. However, I don't speed solve because I like to savour the experience and find rushing through a puzzle is akin to racing through an art exhibit without actually looking at the pictures. I am also in total agreement with the poster who commented, awhile back, that he did the puzzle in ink, on paper, as God intended.

    One other thing for @ Casco Kid, I have been following with interest your struggle to become a competent solver. As you are obviously educated, it seems to me that if you would just have confidence that the answers ARE, in all likelihood, things that you HAVE heard of, even if at first blush, you don't think you know them. I often have many clues for which I have no idea what the correct answer might be but I persevere with the crosses and lo and behold the answer pops into my head. Of course, the older you are the more things you are likely to have heard of but I'm afraid that works in inverse proportion with recent pop culture that may have escaped one's notice. Also, the more puzzles you conquer WITHOUT GOOGLE the more your brain gets used to thinking outside the box and your store of crossworese increases. Hope this helps.

    Anyway, I loved today's puzzl

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