Upstate New York city where Mark Twain was born / WED 3-16-16 / 1970 #1 Jackson 5 song / Title hero of Longfellow poem / Online site for business reviews / Fish said to be named for Mediterranean island / Martini's partner in winemaking

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Easy (minute faster than yesterday)

THEME: DRUNKEN COOK (62A: Preparer of 17-, 27- and 47-Across?) — two-word food items where first word can be a synonym of "drunken":

Theme answers:
  • FRIED ONIONS (17A: Serving with liver)
  • PICKLED PEPPERS (27A: Food in a tongue-twister)
  • STEWED TOMATOES (47A: Chili ingredient)
Word of the Day: David MUIR (3D: News anchor David) —
David Jason Muir (born November 8, 1973) is an American journalist and the anchor of ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, the news department of the ABC broadcast-television network, based in New York City. Muir previously served as the weekend anchor for the flagship ABC News broadcast ABC World News Tonight, and the co-anchor of the ABC newsmagazine 20/20. Muir formerly acted as principal substitute for World News with Diane Sawyer on weeknights, and then succeeded Sawyer in the anchor chair on Monday, September 1, 2014. At ABC News, Muir has won multiple Emmy awards and Edward R. Murrow awards for his national and international journalism. // Muir is one of the most visible journalists in America. According to the Tyndall Report, Muir's reporting received the most airtime in 2012 and 2013. TV Week has called him one of the "12 to Watch in TV News" and TMZ, a celebrity news website, has called him "the Brad Pitt of news anchors" or is Brad Pitt "the David Muir of movie actors?" Muir was listed as one of People Magazine's Sexiest Men Alive in 2014. (wikipedia)
• • •

Second day in a row with a revealer that is not a legitimate stand-alone answer. When I finished I wondered what a "DRUNKEN COOK" was; I figured it was some phrase like, I don't know, "full nelson" or ""dirty martini" or something, and that it was being repurposed here for humor's sake. But it's not. A DRUNKEN COOK is just a drunk cook. That is massively disappointing. The revealer should pop, not fizzle. Too bad NYT puzzles don't have titles—you could've put your "the cook's drunk, everybody!" in the title, and then added DRUNKEN NOODLES and then changed that first themer to FRIED ... something that makes it a 14. FRIED DUMPLINGS, maybe. And there you go: four foods, all two-word phrases, first words all synonyms for "inebriated," no dumb, made-up revealer. Just a thought.

This puzzle was absurdly easy. I had a small regional advantage over some of you, as ELMIRA is in my backyard. I used to teach at the prison there. So 1A: Upstate New York city where Mark Twain was born went in easy, which is always a huge help in propelling you into the puzzle [Update: clearly my brain saw only the words "Upstate New York city" and "Mark Twain" and completely missed the Factual Error about Twain's being *born* in ELMIRA; he was born in Florida, Missouri. He is *buried* in ELMIRA]. I had no idea who David MUIR was (3D: News anchor David). Figured he was some old-timey news guy. Turns out he's younger than I am, although he *does* anchor a nightly network news show, which automatically adds 30 years to your age. I think that math is right. Anyway, I know only two MUIRs, the woods guy and the poet guy, so there was minor hesitation there, as there was with NEB (I had NIB). I think that NEB (41A: Bird's beak) is one of those rare answers where I prefer an Abbr. clue. All answers went straight into the grid without much thought. Toughest part, by far, was trying to figure out the front end of the non-phrase DRUNKEN COOK, and that wasn't terribly hard. The grid, overall, looks nice. Long Downs, sweet (though pluralizing HONOR ROLLS is a little iffy). Hardly a cringer in sight. And the theme concept has merit. But the revealer really hobbles this thing.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I thought of another MUIR: "The Ghost and Mrs. MUIR"

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Very easy for me too and kinda goofy. Had to change @Rex NiB to NEB, but that was it for erasures.

I have only the vaguest idea about ITS and apostrophes, I just assume I'm right about half the time.

Silly theme and not much dreck, liked it.

George Barany 12:08 AM  

@Rex is right, this puzzle was very easy, even though it was somewhat different from what we've come to expect from @David Kahn.

Ironically, I got off to a poor start with 1-Down. Couldn't get CEES to fit (yeah, we have grade inflation at the U of M), tried DEES, and finally settled for EFFS.

When we see a student struggling with the material, we try to be proactive and convince him or her to either change study habits or drop the course. Hence, F's are very rare. We also don't give E's either, because students carrying out sub-D work might mistake that grade for "Excellent." Also, our HONOR_ROLLS are called Dean's Lists.

Anonymous 12:21 AM  

a) FRIED is never used to describe a drunk. You're FRIED with too much weed, to much acid, too much peyote or mescalin, but not alcohol.
b) Can we please stop with thinking put-downs of drunks is somehow ok? Would this pass muster if we were making fun of fat people?

Carola 1:23 AM  

I agree with @Rex that a puzzle with a funny title would have worked better with this theme. I also thought it would have been more amusing to envision the mayhem ensuing in the kitchen if the ingredients themselved were imagined as smashed. After solving, I entertained myself by scouring the grid for other cooking-related entries: FAUCET, SARDINE, OXO, REVEREware, ROLLS, ICED items, a pancake TURNER, and the GOO that collects around the stove dials.

Cristi 2:10 AM  

I'm not very good at these (but trying to get better)--solve them on my phone, and I'm all thumbs. Knocking off a Wednesday should be a good feeling for me, but today I felt hollow inside before I even finished (in half the time). Too quote Rod Steiger's sheriff: "I don't want your pity. Nosirree."

John Ray 2:30 AM  

Agree. Good fill, bad theme. Perfect monday with a better revealer (bottom right was worst part of grid anyway!)

GILL I. 5:35 AM  

There's a wonderful restaurant in Westchester NY called The Little Drunken Chef. Doesn't that sound neat? Fresh oysters, lots of great tapas and a decent paella. I wish they had a sister restaurant called DRUNKEN COOK because then I would have found a way to loved the puzzle.
I'm not really sure what I should say about this one. Maybe I'm in need of inspiration. If your menu features FRIED ONIONS, a SARDINE, PICKLED PEPPERS and some STEWED TOMATOES then I suppose you could name your restaurant DRUNKEN COOK, or you might be one, or you think that's a cool name or maybe it reminds you of your uncle ADO and aunt ANGELA talking SMACK in the kitchen.
I'm missing my ooh's this week.
I watch David Muir every night because that's when I'm practicing being a DRUNK COOK. Always one glass of Pinot Grigio while stirring the dinner pot. I like him but I liked Chet Huntly and David Brinkley even better because that's what my grandmother always watched while she was cooking up some of her fine cuisine. Does that add 30 years to my age?
Speaking of a PAGE TURNER, I'm just finishing "Wine & War" by Don and Petie Kladstrup. It's about "The French, The Nazis and the battle for France's 'Greatest Treasure.'" Well worth the read.
Now I come to OXO. I use it as stock but the Urban Dictionary has different ideas. I guess it could be a drippy FAUCET as well.

A Martin 6:30 AM  

I have bever beeb near Elmire but I knew the answer and Mark Twain wasn't born there. He died there, but was born in Missouri, unless Mr Clemens chose the pen name while living in Elmire. I have never read anything to suggest that.


aging soprano 6:38 AM  

Please a few words about yesterday's puzzle which I only got to very late at night.@Carola, I often REBOIL the LIQUID in the kettle when I prepare a hot water bottle. I am very attached to that old fashioned form of foot warmer. I actually enjoyed the the puzzle, if less than Monday's, and found it went down easily. A lot of ALLOTs lately, no? Can someone please explain panagram to me and point it out. I will Google panagram as soon as I post this. Talk to you later, maybe.

Anonymous 6:57 AM  

As a Missourian, I'm pretty sure Mark Twain was born in Florida, MO.

Isession 7:03 AM  

Twain is buried in Elmira. Was born in Missouri, died in Connecticut. My college roommate was from Elmira -- this was a major bragging point. I was hoping this was part of some tricky urban legend type theme that would be uniquely suited to my arcane knowledge. Alas, just a fact-checking blunder.

Wes Davidson 7:03 AM  

Thanks @A Martin....thought that sounded off about Mark Twain since we visited his birthplace in Florida, Missouri.

Hungry Mother 7:09 AM  

Used AON twice this morning, and never before that as far as I recall. Very fast today.

SandySolver 7:25 AM  

The possessive form is, like similar possesives [his, her, my, your, etc.] WITHOUT apostrophe.

Aketi 8:15 AM  

Finished this one too fast. Not ready do DEBUNK yet. I'll have to find some other excuse to keep sipping my coffee in bed.

Having lived in Ithaca for six years, ELMIRA was a gimme.

The puzzle made me hungry for DRUNKEN chicken. Kind of scary to think of an AMOEBA embedded in the middle of a DRUNKEN COOK

Will the person who promises "I'll BE THERE" MOPE when the object of their affections tells them to "just BEAT IT"? With all the food references Weird Al's version, EAT IT has become an ear worm.

Poor Dawn Brancheau suffered the consequences when SHAMU (aka Tillikum) had his MR HYDE moment. So much for the image of happy cute orcas performing for humans.

bbs 8:16 AM  

The doubters about Elmira as Twain's birthplace are right. Born in Missouri, NY Times. Hard to believe that went unchecked. He spent time in Elmira, wrote books there,and is buried there. Actually lived mainly in Hartford, CT, once settled.

Lobster11 8:25 AM  

Is today Wednesday? I solve on paper and never time myself, but if I did I think I might have beaten my Monday record today.

Agree that DRUNKENCOOK isn't really a thing, but that didn't bother me as much as the straightforwardness and humorlessness of most of the cluing: There just weren't many challenges or chuckles to be found.

There are times when we might have reasonable arguments regarding the factual accuracy of clues/answers, but this is not one of them. The places where Mark Twain was born or buried are simple matters of record that can be confirmed or disconfirmed by spending approximately 50 nanoseconds with the Google Machine. And at 1A, of all places? For shame!

Unknown 8:28 AM  

Does anyone really refer to the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving as Thanksgiving Eve? It was easy enough to get from the crosses, but I can't imagine anyone other than Tom Turkey and people stuck in traffic hoping to get out of town for the long weekend, giving that particular evening an auspicious name.

George Barany 8:36 AM  

I'm no Mark Twain scholar, but can Google as well as anyone. See this NPR article, which says that Huck Finn was written at his sister-in-law's summer home in ELMIRA, New York. The question then is whether the clue for 1-Across takes liberties with the word "born," since nobody doubts that Samuel Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri. Nor can anyone doubt that Clemens died in Redding, Connecticut, but the same article also says that he (along with numerous relatives) is buried in ELMIRA. So perhaps "was born" should be "is buried." @Rex, this is your area of expertise ... I'm curious as to your thoughts.

Kitty 8:42 AM  

Drunkeness is a scourge that destroys many lives. Nothing entertaining about it so I wish it would cease its appearance in NYT puzzles.

kitshef 8:54 AM  

Twain also got married in Elmira. No idea where he was when he first adopted the pen name, but I strongly expect this is just an editing error.

Puzzle gave pretty much no resistance. No overwrites, and just a brief pause in the south, like @Rex, with the start of the revealer, ERTE being unfamiliar to me (along with AON and MUIR). I was amused by the revealer, as I had not cottoned on to the drunken theme.

I'm okay with FRIED for drunk - definitely heard that. As opposed to baked, which is exclusively for pot.

Liked FRIED and DOH in the puzzle, wish they could have crossed.

World figure skating championships are at the end of this month in Boston. We'll be there at the ice skating rink to watch the AXELs. Funny how many skating feats are four letters: JUMP, LUTZ, LOOP, SPIN, FLIP.

chefbea 9:07 AM  

Was sure the theme was going to be some kind of CHEF...but cook is just as good. When I make liver and onions..the onions are sautéed ..never fried. And I don't use stewed tomatoes in chile...but I guess if I was drunk I would. What do you have to say about this @Chefwen??

aon center??? vol???

liked that OXO was in the puzzle and we know I love puns

pwoodfin 9:19 AM  

@jae from yesterday...

re: your comments about the difficulty working the word EBULLIENT into a conversation. This from Frank Bruni's column in today's NYT.

"Republican traditionalists who prefer Cruz
are no more ebullient in their outlooks."

There you have it!

Roo Monster 9:21 AM  

Hey All !
Misplaced puz day, apparently. Swap this one out with Mondays. Maybe the JOKE's on us?

Anyway, did like it, took a second to suss revealer, as only looking at the food part of themers. Once I got that you had to use the whole theme answers, saw the DRUNKEN part and got a little chuckle.

Nice 10 letter Downs. Two sets, and light dreck. Looking at you, SOIR, OXO, TKTS. We get a RGL (Random Greek Letter) today, PHI. TEFLON twice now! Fun clue for PUNS. Even get a built-in DOH! And the actual spelling of AMOEBA.


Z 9:35 AM  

WOW a legit, no questions asked, error in the puzzle. Schadenfreude addicted nit-pickers have entered nirvana today. In case all of you who noted this in the comments don't realize it, OFL updated his post to reflect the error.

Wow @anon12:21am - I thought I was a little sensitive to excessive use of pejoratives in puzzles. I doff my cap to you. I've never really thought of the myriad slang synonyms for "intoxicated" in the language as any more inherently insulting than the myriad synonyms for "intercourse" in the language. If you add an article in front then sure. "You're drunk" isn't an insult. "You're a drunk" is. Of course, none of the "intoxicated" words in today's puzzle are nouns, so not so much insult to be found here.

Personally, I was thinking "lamest food theme ever" until the revealer pointed out the chef's sauciness. This took the puzzle from a disappointed "meh" to a wry "Oh. Cute."

Of all the EVE clues possible, "Thanksgiving ______" has the sweetest smell of desperation.

PPP Analysis
22/76, 29%
Biggish but not in the trouble zone, even going with a Product name for OXO instead of "tic-tac--toe loser."

PPP explanation
PPP are clue/answer pairs involving Pop Culture, Product Names, or other Proper nouns. The math is the number of these types of answers divided by the answer count of the puzzle. Anything in the 25% range is not going to generate much hate. At 33%+ there is a high likelihood that some subset of solvers are going to dislike the puzzle. Which subset will depend on lots of other factors. Early week (easier) puzzles seem less likely to generate hard feelings.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Does anyone know how the NYT website calculates its Fastest "This Week" and "This Month" scores? There was nothing on the site FAQs. Daily fastest are listed strictly by time, but the others look to be an aggregate, with the fastest solvers having the 'highest' numerical scores. I cannot crack the code.

Z 9:42 AM  

@kitshef - The Wikipedia article on Twain quotes Life on the Mississippi, indicating that Clemens adopted it while on the Pacific Coast. I guess Clemens would know. No wiggle room on this one, no escape clause, just a flat out "oops."

Phil Safier 9:44 AM  

Hold on. No Chris Crispy jokes?!?

Jennifer Freeman 9:54 AM  

Perhaps the name Mark Twain was born in Elmira?

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

And Frank Muir from the wonderful old BBC radio show "My Word." NPR used to play it on Sunday mornings.

Malsdemare 10:08 AM  

Goodness this was easy. I shall have to do one of my Merle Reagle puzzles to satisfy my need for a workout today. Plus, they are just happy creations that make me smile, something that's in short supply these days.

The Squirrel Nut Zippers version of "The piano has been drinking" is better than Waits' version. It's (note correct apostrophe!) one of those songs that I sing along with, loudly, while listening to music on long country walks.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

Too easy, but I did chuckle when I got to the revealer. @GILL -- Your restaurant sounds like fun.

jberg 10:16 AM  

Yeah, "Thanksgiving ____" as a clue for EVE is horrible -- I refused to put it in without all the crosses. But after coming here, I now know a lot more about where Mark Twain was born than I did before.

But as for the revealer, check out this menu.

mac 10:54 AM  

Easy Wednesday, but I had to stare at the reveal. Drunken cook?

Too obvious a mistake about Elmira, is there an explanation anywhere?

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:55 AM  

Is 'apostrophized' used to mean 'added apostrophes to'? And does 'fop' mean 'sharp dresser'? I think of sharp as complimentary and foppish as ridicule.And somebody has already mentioned 'Thanksgiving EVE'.

old timer 11:08 AM  

This was Monday-easy for me, probably because I guessed most of the long Downs very quickly. I really think the puzzle should put up more of a fight on a Wednesday.

I have only a couple of complaints: NEB as clued -- way too obscure. And EVE, Thanksgiving has no EVE in the sense of the night before. No ceremonies, no special get-togethers. The day before Thanksgiving is just that -- the day before, often the day many of us pick up the turkey from the butcher's or market and buy the vegetables for the big meal. Now if EVE was short for "evening", that very much is a Thing -- the meal is over, the dishes are washed, and it is time to finish off the wine and have another slice of pumpkin pie.

Hartley70 11:25 AM  

To weigh in on the Samuel Clemens controversy, I spent 2 long years in Elmira in the 1960's and was taught that Mark Twain wrote there in summers in a small open air building called The Octagon. It was moved to the campus of Elmira College where it served as the logo and the name of the student newspaper. Never was it claimed that he was born, died, or was buried there. I now live next door to Redding CT and drive past The Mark Twain Library frequently and it is so named because Redding believes he died there. Sometimes I wonder if I am following him around.

@Rex, perhaps when you need a break from your drive from Binghamton to Ithaca you could stop and peruse the Elmira graveyards vainly looking for his stone. That's considered entertainment here in New England.

This puzzled played faster than the very easy yesterday. My only hesitation was seeing KENCOO and surmising it was chicken coop until I checked the downs. SHAMU made me sad for all confined sentient sea creatures. If you want to see them, get in a boat.

@IGill, thanks for the restaurant tip!

Molson 11:26 AM  

A better title with "DRUNKEN NOODLES" as an answer would be "Now With Extra Sauce!"

Charles Flaster 11:40 AM  

I expect more challenging puzzles from Mr. Kahn. This was Monday easy with some classic CROSSWORDEASE-- ATRA, ORR, and ERTE.
Thought the theme was my favorite omelet--
Thanks DJK.

Lewis 11:48 AM  

It is a very nice grid design with good entry into every area, as opposed to exiled sections. I liked the playful theme. Thanksgiving Eve? Are we now going to have to go out to dinner on Thanksgiving Eve? I keep seeing the word REDINK as re-dink: once again hitting a drop shot. I would have liked some smashed potatoes in the grid, and finally, to go along with the theme, the puzzle has a backwards NIP.

Tuesday easy. I gave it to my wife, who only solves on Monday and Tuesday, and she said it was easier than either day this week. That's on Will, not David. Whatever the day, I enjoyed the clever theme idea and fun solve.

Leapfinger 11:49 AM  

Born, buried ... You know how it is: sometimes, when faced with a door, it's hard to remember if you're making an entrance or an exit. Just so long as you recognize there's a difference twixt the twain.

#McGILLicuddy, you gave me quite a frisson for an orly morning's read. Shall have to restock the pantry.

I've had the occasional restaurant meal where the consensus was that the cook must be drunk, but never as productively as Julia Child. As noted, many cooks and foods are improved by being GLAZED or SAUCED. I have this recipe for the Scottish version of sedate British trifle called Tipsy Laird... It'll get you dancing the Highland Fling.


Martel Moopsbane 12:05 PM  

@Aketi - do a google search for Ernie Kovacs and Chicken Molnar, possibly the best DRUNKEN chicken recipe ever.

When Graham Kerr was on TV with The Galloping Gourmet, there was most definitely such a thing as a DRUNKENCOOK.

puzzle hoarder 12:22 PM  

This puzzle was Monday easy. Had I been familiar with the 1A answer it would have been beyond Monday easy. JOKE and JAI were the introduction to how easy it was going to be. 11A could have been CHI or PSI so there was hesitation on that. Otherwise answers went in as fast as I could write them (not very fast.) The path of least resistance had me filling from east to west.
The Beastie Boys have a great song by the same title as 11D. Of course it has nothing to do with Paul Revere. Speaking of songs I don't recall anyone mentioning that this is the second time this month that we've seen "I'll Be There." That's quite a coincidence.
@Gill yes I think things can make us thirty years older. My parents were solvers and in a way I'm always trying to do their puzzles. It's a sign of the times that a person like David Muir can be so obscure. Back in the day he would have been like David Brinkley. Nowadays there are more celebrities than you can keep track of. More grist for the hoard I say.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:29 PM  

IIRC, "drunk" is among the top three words in the English language for the greatest number of slangy synonyms.

Hartley70 12:47 PM  

Oops, Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, NY says Mark Twain is buried there and they oughta know. It still might be worth a trip, Rex, to satisfy our curiosity and correct the NYT. How often does one get to do that?

Masked and Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Tight theme.
Coulda used DRUNKENCHICKENS (15) for tail-end dessert, and SMASHEDPOTATOES (15), as an entree. Altho, LOADEDBAKEDPOTATO (17) is also primo. Cooked in a WELLOILEDDISH. And, let's hear it for CANNEDBEETS, U chef gals!

@009: Cluin error at 1-A, U say (in REDINK!)? Given the theme, M&A personally has no objection to an openin clue written by a tipsy constructioneer. That puz wrap-up of TKTS/ALTARS is a mite weak, tho (yo, @AnoaBob again). Makes M&A's eyes soir, if not polluted.

AON. har. Looked it up. yep. Third tallest skyscraper in Chicago. Drumpf Tower is taller. The Retrumplickins wanted me to point that out.

Nice double-10-ers, in the NE and SW -- made the solvequest feistier and real fun. Also, luvly weeject-stax, plastered into the same corners. M&A may have had a record low WedPuz solve time; that puz was downright blitzed, sports fans.

Proposed two-letter 1-A clue fix: {Upstate New York city where Mark Twain tweren't born??} . Old Sam woulda liked that editin.

Thanx, Mr. Kahn. It was a blast.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


AliasZ 1:03 PM  

After establishing that neither Samuel Langhorne Clemens nor Mark Twain was born in ELMIRA, this quote by him would be entirely appropriate: "When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear."

I took DRUNKEN COOK as a punchline to a JOKE, not a common "in-the-language" phrase, similar to Carnac the Magnificent divining the question to the answer "Sis Boom Bah" as "What sound do you hear when a sheep explodes?"

UNO and ONE symmetrically placed was a nice touch.
Two Michael Jackson hits: I'LL BE THERE and BEAT IT. I prefer Weird Al's EAT IT.
Shouldn't it be TEFLON™?
REDINK -- Hit sharply again.

How about a sonata by Salamone ROSSI (c.1570–1630)?

"All generalizations are false, including this one." -- Mark Twain

OISK 1:06 PM  

Monday like for me as well, but I enjoyed the "reveal" at drunken cook. I don't enjoy PC comments about what should be in the puzzle and what should not, and love the wide variety of available synonyms for "soused." (In German, one such term is "blau," which literally means "blue," and there is a song, "Die ganze Welt ist Himmelblau," that ends with the words, "so blau, so blau, so blau," and I have a fond memory of an entertainer in Austria staggering about while singing it)

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

I did the Google search "recipe for drunken..." and the suggested endings were noodles, chicken, weenies, meatballs and pasta. Like @Rex, I wish David Kahn would have gone that direction rather than with the non-phrase DRUNKEN COOK. Other than that, it was a fun puzzle..

Someone gave my Dad a tee shirt that read, "Damn, I'm GOOd" but after a couple of washings, the D came off so it read "Damn, I'm GOO" (perhaps the destruction had some help from my Mom? We'll never know.)

I know some people who can't carry a tune so everything they hum is ATONAL. But it doesn't bother me - I figure if someone is happy enough to hum, who am I to complain?

The born vs. buried problem was fixed before I printed out my copy so only the early comments let me know of the controversy. I guess I thought he was born in Hannibal, MO but definitely not in NY.

Alby 1:23 PM  

I thought FRIED referred to acid or pot only. In any case, all those adjectives sound out-of-date. But guess it'd be hard to work TURNT, LIT, CRUNK or similar into the NYT puzzle. (This ain't Buzzfeed.)

Mohair Sam 1:35 PM  

Wednesday easier than Monday for us this week. Most unusual. But we enjoyed.

Today Will Shortz learned why ELMIRA should always be clued with reference to The ELMIRA Express, Ernie Davis. Ernie was a Syracuse grad, which is where David MUIR grew up. Those of us who lived in The 'Cuse when David premiered there as a local newsman were surprised to see this nervous newcomer lacking the square jaw, fatherly brow, or basso perfundo normally required, jump so quickly to ABC's national stage. Those of us who still picture him as the scrawny kid are left scratching our heads at the sexiest man alive thing.

UTICA yesterday, ELMIRA today. Five'll get ya ten we'll see ITHACA tomorrow, probably clued as "Home to Albany State University."

Cannot believe Gene Tierney was not the first MUIR that came to OFL's mind. He's losing his TCM creds. But all is forgiven when he reminds me of Tom Waits and I get to link (again) to "You're Innocent When You Dream" - thanks Rex.

Jon 2:06 PM  

I too got confused with the Elmire one, as I had thought he was born in the south, but the city in upstate NY when I had the L immediately thought of Albany for some reason, and it fit with Lara going down... After finishing the puzzle wikipedia seemed not to have much on the pen name location, i felt it was a bad clue and a bad answer. Other than that, for a Wednesday too easy. Didn't care for the theme, i fact got the answer before the other clues.

Aketi 2:25 PM  

@Martel Moopsbane, my afternoon tea went up my nose. Not yet 5:00 pm so I can't start my DRUNKEN chicken yet. My mother loved Graham Kerr and Hamburger Helper. After a brief period in my son's early childhood when I felt compelled to make home cooked meals before I realized competitive motherhood was not my thing, I think Ernie Kovac's version of Chicken Molnar is about my speed,

Masked and Anonymous 2:26 PM  

M&A Play-By-Play Analysis: SE Corner.

This TKTS/ALTARS fill choice in the SE was fully justified, due to desperation.
M&A has spent numerous precious nanoseconds, tryin to improve on it,
with nothin to show for it, other than a slightly shinier pants seat.

Main problemos:
1. Finale -COOK of DRUNKENCOOK turns out to be really crapulous. It nearly forces a
vowel after the K, in the 60-D ?K??. [-CHEF ender don't work much better, btw.]
2. This leads to either an E or S in the $ spot of the 60-D $K??.
3. An E in the $ spot leads to a vowel in the # spot of 59-D's #O??, which about has to be an E. That leads to EONS, which leads to nowhere, man, in gettin long (real) words for 67- and 70-A.
4. A 60-D SK?? start leads to a % vowel in 67-A's BE???%. This also leads to nowhere good.
5. So, having tried that $#% route, M&A concluded that U have to rip out some of 49-D and 50-D's stuff, which crosses 2 themers each.
6. That course led to no U in the &@ endin of 52-A's SHA&@, which had been SHAMU. Removin a U is a total $#%&@ SHAME, to say the least. So… not ok.
7. p.s.: M&A Did find one semi-decent fill solution, that involved usin TURNER for 50-D. But then you have yer violent clash with the very nice 27-D PAGETURNER, so … not very $#%&@!! ok, also.

Real Good SE corner fill job, Mr. Kahn. TKTS to Ride.


Tita 2:32 PM  

@aging soprano - my mom will still use the still-warm water from the hot water bottle to wash with in the morning! Portugal being a temperate country, central heating was scarce, but 49 degrees on an early February morning feels pretty damn cold...
Sure, they had hot running water, but - different times.

Regardless of the factual error, Mark Twain wasn't born anywhere. Samuel Clemens was.

Thanksgiving EVE - not a thing.
"I'll be flying home on Thanksgiving Eve, mom." Said no one, ever.

@Gill - I'll have to try that place! Maybe I can apply for a head chef there, as I occasionally fit the description.

@Martel...thanks for the flashback to the Galloping Gourmet!
And thanks for calling me out yesterday.
I was caught up in a frenzy of self-admiration for coming up with the so-clever "the puzzle was sublime" line that I choked on what sublimation actually is.
P.S. you've got the best nom de blogue!

Puzzle was a little sloppy, yes (I say "I'm fried" when I'm exhausted from overwork), but not a stinker.

Thanks Mr. Kahn.

Margaret 4:04 PM  

Thanks for catching the factual error about Mark Twain and Elmira. Like you I saw the words "up-state New York city," and "Mark Twain," and wrote in "Elmira." I have been driving through and around Elmira for decades, and yet as I thought about it, I was pretty sure the connection was not to his birth. As for the ease of this puzzle -- I think yesterdays was easier. And you are so right about the theme revealer -- produced a definite groan from me.

jae 5:06 PM  

@SandySlover - thanks, that comment was actually helpful. I'd like to think I knew that at one time and just forgot it, but that might no be true.

@pwoodfin - l like the quote, but by "conversation" I was referring to oral discourse. My feeling is that EBULLIENT is not a word that is likely to come up in a casual chat with a friend....hence my comment about not rolling easily off the tongue.

kitshef 5:45 PM  

@Z thanks for the link. Of course, that leaves open the possibility that the original Mark Twain, Isaiah Sellers, was born in Elmira. (note: he wasn't)

aging soprano 6:03 PM  

Actually, more grist for the board.

lg 7:00 PM  

Record time for this one so yeah, easy. Usually the puzzles Rex finds easy I find difficult and vice versa but today was an exception.

Would have been faster but I got hung up on The SE corner. I wanted DRUNKENChef which through everything off for a couple of minutes. Other than that, piece of cake.

the redanman 9:57 PM  

SE relatively messy, otherwise rather tame and easy as stated many times

A Martin 6:24 AM  

Interesting information on Mark Twain. I remembered the Elmira connection, but failed to check where he died when I double checked that he was born in Missouri. I was just so surprised at the original error, I couldn't keep from making one of my own.

Carol 9:45 AM  

I too was surprised at the Elmira error as a native of Elmira I know he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery schools took field trips there he wrote his best novels in a little study on East Hill now move to the Elmira College campus his Elmira connection began when he married Olivia Langdon daughter of a wealthy Elmira family

Carol 9:58 AM  

As a native of Elmira I know that Mark Twain was not only buried in Woodlawn Cemetery but that ewrote some of his best works in his little study on East Hill overlooking the Chemung Valley the study now sits on the Elmira College campus. HiElmira connection began with his marriage to Olivia Langdon daughter of a wealthy Elmira family they were not terribly thrilled with him as a son-in-law

Diana,LIW 8:06 PM  


Really - watch it!


spacecraft 11:34 AM  

Okay. In my paper (not The Sun, in which the NYT puzzle appears and which is delivered along with my paper), the Review-Journal, there's a variety page containing two daily 15x15 crosswords. These are "nothing" puzzles, cranked out by who-knows-who (or what), so simple that after the first day I just ignored them. THIS, folks, is one of those. Oh, excuse me, there is one difference: it has a "theme." Louisiana Purchase.*

And aren't all our old friends here? JAI ORR UTA ATRA ERE IOTA...a virtual list of the hackneyed. I guess EKE got a pass because it was just here yesterday. But that is not enough: we have to deal with weirdities like AON and OXO. And NEB, as clued without the (var.).

Sorry, guys, but ol' Will fell asleep this time. No way this is NYT material. Maybe on a desperate Monday, but that's it. F.

*Big Deal

leftcoastTAM 12:30 PM  

Played more like a Monday, possibly a Tuesday in the NW, but no head-slapping DOHs here.

Cute, simple theme. DRUNKENCOOK drew a smile, but little else to distinguish it from any other unusually easy day.

I except more of a bite tomorrow.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

By the time this puzzle appeared in the Kansas City Star (the syndicated version of the puzzle)on April 20, someone, somewhere had changed the clue to "Upstate New York city where Mark Twain was buried." So the error did not occur in my version; somebody must be paying attention to Rex and friends.

Burma Shave 12:44 PM  


and there’s just ONE WAY your ROD EFFS, my dear,


leftcoastTAM 1:20 PM  


Thanks, I watched it, and remembered that I heard it some time ago. It made sense to me then as it does now.

I think our brains have a tremendous capacity, and I'm not worried that my brain will literally be cluttered up or filled up and will run out of space.

But trivia is still trivia, sometimes useful, often not--useful in solving crosswords, but not an asset in understanding the world.

That's where Foer's memory training or "mindfulness" comes in. I think it can be very helpful, not only in our learning about and understanding the world, but also ourselves.

I have to admit I fall short in applying his lessons.

rondo 2:30 PM  

I breezed through this with no idea of a connection in the themers except they were food, and then get DRUNKENCOOK? Not even a funny JOKE. Then realized that there was a pile of three letter answers, must be more than 20 of them. DOH, no wonder so easy. That’s just too many 3s.

Yeah baby ANGELA Bassett brightened things up in the middle.

Maybe the rest of the day I will contemplate my NAVAL. First I suppose, I should get FRIED, or maybe PICKLED or STEWED. Any ONE ELSE wanna get INON it. Synderellas?

I think that when 30% of the answers are 3s, IT’S (apostrophized correctly) more annoying than that many in PPP mode. Maybe I’ll follow MJ’s advice and BEATIT. Again I ask, Synderellas?

Waxy in Montreal 3:08 PM  

NYT repaired the Elmira clue for the syndicate updating "born" to "buried". Nice of them to think of us - rarely happens.

DRUNKENCOOK. Really? Hard to imagine an UGLIER reveal. The only solace is that it reminded me of a great Fawlty Towers episode (weren't they all?) featuring Kurt, the drunken cook.

Diana,LIW 4:14 PM  

Who's buried in Grant's tomb? Let's all Google it.

Got the majority of the puzzle thru long answers, thus avoiding the "ese" fill. So it had to be an easy puzzle.

@Spacey - I also get those EZ puzzles in the Pac Grove paper in the winter - I do them and it helps me appreciate even a simple puzzle like this one.

Had the revealer early on - knew immediately the cook was "DRUNKEN," and thot of the Galloping Gourmet. Then filled in the themers at a galloping speed.

Had a goo laugh at Teedmn's dad's t-shirt. Could wear that to the gym.

Except I always wear my Bloomsday t-shirts at the gym. Bloomsday (Spokane's annual 12-K) is May 1st - I'll be (walking) in it for the 15th time. Last year I was #28,772 out of 43,028. 2 hours and 15 minutes - about my average crossword time. This year should have more finishers, as it's the 40th anniversary. Not too late to enter, and the Spokane Falls are gorgeous this year!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting to see what Thursday brings

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