YSL perfume named for drug / WED 8-3-16 / Time for latish lunch / Mike Doonesbury's daughter in "Doonesbury" / Winner of four consecutive Olympic gold medals 1956-68 / Hamlet's relative

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Constructor: Neville Fogarty

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Gerund in the noun" songs, literally — song titles that follow the pattern "blankin(g) in the blank" are represented "literally" in the grid, with the first word being sandwiched inside the two halves of the second word (with the "the" inferred ... by me, the solver; or implied, by Neville, the constructor):

Theme answers:
  • WI BLOWIN' ND (17A: 1963 hit for Peter, Paul and Mary, literally)
  • DE ROLLING EP (31A: 2011 hit for Adele, literally)
  • DA DANCING RK (48A: 1984 hit for Bruce Springsteen, literally)
  • RA SINGIN' IN (66A: 1952 hit for Gene Kelly, literally)
Word of the Day: AL OERTER (36A: Winner of four consecutive Olympic gold medals, 1956-68) —
Alfred Oerter, Jr. (September 19, 1936 – October 1, 2007) was an American athlete, and a four-time Olympic Champion in the discus throw. He was the first athlete to win a gold medal in the same individual event in four consecutive Olympics. Oerter is an inductee of the IAAF Hall of Fame. (wikipedia)
• • •

Frustrating start, as I both failed to read the theme clue completely and forgot what day of the week it was. I started this thing with Tuesday Mind, and when I encountered Themer 1, with its apparently nonsensical array of letters, I could feel myself getting annoyed. "Nothing Starts WIB...," I internally exclaimed. So it turns out I missed the key word, "literally," at the end of the first theme clue. I don't know that it would've helped me get the gag straight away, but at least I would have had some idea that the WIB- start could (as it was) just be part of some letter-arrangement gimmick. I have no idea when the theme kicked in. Well, I have some idea. It was "Rolling in the Deep" that did it; I just don't remember when. I think at that point I saw the literally, and perhaps the -INGEP, and my crossword brain kicked in (it's been slow to come back since my vacation). Anyway, after all this struggle, I ended up with a highly average Wednesday time (low 4s). Theme is pretty straightforward and, uh, literal, so no oohs and aahs. Also, two -INGs and two -IN's where the initial song title word is concerned, which is an exceedingly minor detail, but my brain is nothing if not princess/pea where that stuff is concerned. At a minimum, the theme is adequate, and I thought the rest of it was probably a notch above average. Definitely a step up from yesterday (though most puzzles are).

["Wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face"]

I tripped over 1D: Hamlet's relative in the predictable manner. I could not come up with RENTAL (8D: Airport pickup) despite having (literally) picked up a RENTAL at the airport just last week. WISE TO was a real problem (18D: Not tricked by), as not getting it effectively blocked an important escape route out of the NW. So you can see how my NW felt like a bit of a disaster at first. Didn't realize I'd still have to know the characters in the "Doonesbury" universe in 2016, so ALEX bit me (12D: Mike Doonesbury's daughter in "Doonesbury"). For someone who gets PEEVEd a lot, that one sure took me a while. I have an unaccountable prejudice against OERTER in crossword grids, even in his full-name state. Something about that OE- opening feels like cheating. Like ... no one puts him in a grid 'cause they want him. You put him in because you need him. You need his reliable, dependable, discus-hurling presence to keep your grid in line. He's not sexy, but he'll do the job. Actually, I've seen pics, he's sort of sexy. I'm talking about his name. Not his body. Where was I? Oh yes, The ALOERTER / ELIAS Howe / ERNIE Kovacs trio was not a highlight for me. Too much name, too much bygone. But FOUND MONEY is fantastic, and I liked the trick clue on LOS ANGELES (11D: Where Venice is). I liked remembering AARON Paul—I remember him from ... earlier this evening when I watched "Bojack Horseman" (in which he plays "Todd"—you're gonna wanna know this stuff, trust me). I have odd sounds emanating from my talocrural joint, AKA ANKA ANKLE, so I should go.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Whirred Whacks 12:06 AM  

Fast solve. Fun puzzle.

I met Mel TORME (the "Velvet Fog") in August, 1984 in Bermuda. I gave a speech at a company off-site meeting there. The company also flew in TORME and an eight piece ensemble for evening entertainment. Very pleasant man. He sang many favorites. He even sang, good-naturedly I might add, his own composition "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire) after someone requested it. It was 85 degrees outside and Christmas was about the last thing on people's minds -- but folks got into it.

How about that: two Garry Trudeau references in two days! Is Trudeau still a thing? I consider him to be someone who was sort of popular (and amusing) in the 1970s, but then lost relevancy by 1982 or so.

I'm an Olympic buff, so discus thrower AL OERTER was easy for me. Carl Lewis accomplished the same 4-straight gold medals in the same event (long jump) from 1984-1996). Swimmer Michael Phelps has three straight Olympic wins in both the 200 Individual Medley and the 100 Butterfly, and next week he will try to match Lewis and Oerter with an Olympic "four-peat" in those events.

George Barany 12:20 AM  

It took me all the way to the "Singin' in the Rain" reference to get the gimmick of @Neville Fogarty's puzzle, and that helped me figure out the rest despite not having heard of the Adele song whatsoever, associating "Blowin' in the Wind" with Dylan rather than Peter, Paul & Mary, and only dimly recognizing the Springsteen title.

Of course, it was delightful to see AL_OERTER remembered so close to the opening of this year's Olympics, and the AUNT clue sent me scurrying to Google, but why not indulge @Neville with something related to his day job? The "Where Venice is" clue had a surprising payoff, and the ALEX clue was quite a surprise. As @Whirred Whacks has pointed out, second Doonesbury reference in a row, so I might as well remind @Rex-ites of its current timeliness.

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Nice story! Also, here's a fun fact about "The Christmas Song": Mel Torme and his song-writing partner (his name escapes me) wrote the song in the middle of the summer in an effort to keep cool.

GILL I. 1:11 AM  

I couldn't wait to come here to hear what I thought would be a bit of a primal scream from at least someone, only to find out that so far, I'm the only one with the scream. I GET IT. I got it at DEROLLINGEP only because I love Adele. This felt like when I was in art and my teacher told me that I was nuts for pretty much hating all of Picasso's paintings.
OPIUM. Now that I love because I wore it for years. My daughter would say she could smell me a mile away. I would tell her I always knew when she borrowed my clothes.
I did like the clue for LOS ANGELES....Thursday?

Mark 1:13 AM  

I actually liked Tuesday's puzzle better than today's. I'm not sure why, maybe I just like the puns better than Rex does. Today's puzzle wasn't any harder than Tuesday's was

jae 1:43 AM  
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Vincent Lima 1:49 AM  

When I saw MS-DOS, I cringed, not because I minded the reference, but because I thought it would provoke a @Rex rant about dated fill. It didn't. Perhaps vacation is a good thing!

jae 1:51 AM  

Pretty easy for me. meLT before WILT was about it for erasures.

AARON Paul is excellent in "Eye in the Sky". An interesting exploration of moral dilemmas in the drone age.

Trudeau's Doonesbury is in reruns in the LATimes except Sun. where he tends to lacerate buffoons. Last Sunday

Cute somewhat familiar theme, smooth grid, liked it.

Gregory Nuttle 2:37 AM  

So, @Rex, are we doing letter grades now permanently? I like it.

chefwen 2:48 AM  

Started off nicely with my late FIL'S body double, MEL TORME. Got 1, 2 and 3 down right away so when I got to 17A with the WIB in place I knew something was afoot. BLOWIN IN THE WIND was a gimme. TA DA, got it! ROLLING IN THE DEEP was the only song I didn't know, unlike @GILL I, (Hi there) I'm not up on Adele's music.

The top middle was last to fall. For some reason I thought Kristen's last name was hIIG, no idea where that came from, but it sure messed me up. RENTAL and MEDIAL were slow in coming to light.

Née instead of AKA at 47D didn't help my cause either.

Puzzles this week (so far) seem to be a little more on difficult side, or maybe it's just me, but I'm liking it.

Martín Abresch 4:07 AM  

SINGIN'_IN_(THE)_RAIN is wonderful, I loved the clue for FOUND_MONEY (Change out of an old pair of pants?), and I always appreciate a good quotation clue ("The SOUL should always stand ajar": Emily Dickinson).

But the rest was not for me.

Adele has some pipes but wastes them on mediocre songs. Bruce is ... well, I've never understood his popularity. Boring. BLOWIN_IN_(THE)_WIND is one of my least favorite Dylan songs. It takes itself too seriously. (And, yes, I realize the irony of me saying that.)

In "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," some super-intelligent mice had the answer to life, the universe, and everything ("42") but didn't have the question. They brainstorm possible questions, and there best try is "How many roads must a man walk down?" That's what I think of when I think of that song.

I had "fun" guessing at crossing proper names: LOLA/ALEX, AL_OERTER/ELIAS, and ELIAS/ERNIE. Somehow guessed them all correctly.

P.S. Just finished watching the third season of Bojack Horseman. It's full of puns and absolutely brilliant in spots, but the center of the story is yet another middle-aged white man (err ... brown horse) having a mid-life crisis. Oh look, he's alienating his friends. Oh look, he's being self-destructive. Oh look, he's seeking redemption. Rinse and repeat. Critics love it—some calling it the best show going—but I can't summon that level of enthusiasm for it. I place Bojack at #5 in my current tv comedy rankings, behind Broad City, Silicon Valley, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Rick & Morty.

Loren Muse Smith 5:20 AM  

Again with the literal stuff. Be still my beating heart. These aren't just song titles with gerunds and "in" - they're song titles with the word "the" and the thing the gerund is in is just four letters. So "Falling in Love" or my avatar wouldn't work. This set had to have been tricky to come up with.

Rex- me, too, for not seeing RENTAL for a while. @George – I entered the grid at 64A AUNT.

My first thought for 46A how to nab Bigfoot was "at night." Man. Lots of possibilities there, huh. "With care." "Genially." ON CAMERA was easy enough. Those guys can't be serious on that show, though, right?

Speak for yourself, Neville – my beard hair isn't COARSE. My ANKLE hair, on the other hand… sheesh. Have to part it to see my tattoo of FDR.

Misread the clue for 27D as "lavish" lunch. Well, yeah. If I had to wait until ONE PM, I'd probably lavish it up some. Yesterday we didn't break for lunch until after twelve, and I kept gravitating to the nifty little snack table after I inhaled the lunch I had brought. One granola bar. Forgot how good those things are. Two more granola bars. They're smallish. A pack of nabs. Handful of wintergreen lifesavers. Ok. One final granola bar. Bottle of water. Just because.

@jae, me, too, for '"melt" first.

@Whirred – cool TORME story. No pun intended.

@Martin – totally agree about the clue for FOUND MONEY.

NF – nice job. Had fun with this one.

Laura the Kiwi 6:13 AM  

Ok - brave enough to post on here now... I must be about the only New Zealander who does the NYT crossword but hey... our crosswords here are British style and boring as all hell with very closed grids so I'm a convert. The US general knowledge has taken a while to get the hang of so I had put REP/OPIES instead of REB/OBIES but realised it once I had OPIE in the NW. Likewise, I had to use my one or two googles I allow myself (on American general knowledge stuff) to get ALOERTER. I would never have got that through guessing. Theme was ok... but like Martin - I have no idea why but I can't stand WIBLOWINND at the best of times, and now it is stuck firmly in my brain.

Funny reading the Christmas story about TORME singing the Christmas song in the height of summer. Here it's summer EVERY Christmas.... so everyone will be lounging around exhausted after eating a massive winter meal in the height of summer, surrounded by wrapping paper with snowmen etc on it... so I'm used to hearing Christmas carols in the heat.

Since I'm here... I'm going to mention my bug-bear when the word MAORI comes up in crosswords (meaning indigenous New Zealander). MAORI is fine... MAORI*S* is not. The pluralising of the word MAORI by putting an S on it is a no-no. I've been toying with the idea of doing a NZ theme and submitting it for fun, but I doubt it'd get published even if I could manage it ;-)

George Barany 6:30 AM  

I enjoyed reading the just-posted comment from @Laura the Kiwi, and appreciate her observations about MAORI vs. MAORIS. For the record, the xwordinfo.com data base established by @Jim Horne and maintained by @Jeff Chen teaches that the singular has been used 178 times (54 during the @Will Shortz era) whereas the plural has been used 42 times (18 during @Shortz era).

Left over business from yesterday: five letter word clued "Gay ___." With the P and E in place from crossing entries, I confidently entered PRIDE. Of course, the actual answer turned out to be PAREE. Did anyone else have the same experience?

Lewis 6:46 AM  

@ww -- Doonesbury is still relevant to me. Witty on-point satire. His Sunday strips are current and his Trump skewers brilliant.
@loren -- Ankle hair comment had me laughing hard.

This made for one big aha and an excellent workout of my solving skills. I enjoyed the WARMup, the STYX under the TREE, the five double E's, the clues for TOWN and SALINE, and the answer FOUND_MONEY. Thank you, Sir Neville.

After that big aha, the theme answers fell pretty quickly, but still the solve was happily a bit tougher than a PAWALKRK.

Hungry Mother 7:02 AM  

Cute and quick.

Aketi 7:21 AM  

@George Barany, yes

Got it at WI BLOWIN ND, didn't know Adele, but not so hard to GUESS

IF you WARM an ICEE, it won't be ICEE for very long.
IF you are RA SINGIN IN, you are not going to WILT but if you are the Wicked Witch of the West you might melt,

@Lewis, very low double letter count today. Some are the result of inserting one word into the other, do those count?

Mary Perry 7:58 AM  

I found this delightful. Easy medium for me-maybe because I figured out the theme right away. Fun!

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Pretty old stuff consarn it!
FDR's marriage
By camera or On film!

kitshef 8:08 AM  

Way fun, and way easy, doing nothing to alleviate my EVERTed Tuesday/Wednesday feelings about difficulty. Helped that ALOERTER was a gimme, and that all the songs were easy peasy, despite spanning sixty years.

The three letter words rely too much on abbrevs: BFF, STL, FDR, REB, ENG, AKA, FLU. But that’s a small price to pay for such a fun puzzle.

Theme seems really tight. Seven-letter gerund (or six contracting the g)/in/the/four letter noun. Song popular enough for a majority of solvers to know it. Can't be many of those (I've struck out trying to think of another).

And for those who don't know her, Adele at the Grammies

NCA President 8:12 AM  

It's funny...I know of Adele (mostly just her name and that she has some songs), and I know the song "Rolling in the Deep," but I didn't know she was the singer of that song. So looking at DERO--INGEP and having it attributed to Adele, well, it took me a very long time to put two and two together. MEDIAn didn't help matters.

I got ALOERTER entirely by the crossings. Never heard of him...with all due respect to him as an Olympian...and if I've seen him in xword puzzles, I've blocked him out.

EDYS ice cream. Maybe it's because I've spent most of the late spring and all summer up here in the VT/Upstate NY area, where ice cream is like an art form and highly competitive, but seriously? Does anyone intentionally buy EDYS ice cream? Even if you live in places that aren't so ice cream centric, you'd do better with Blue Bell or even B&Js or Hagen Daaz. EDYS? How do they keep going?

One nit: Ants live in a hill. I've never heard their home referred to as a "NEST." Hornets have nests. Birds have nests. Snipers have nests. You can have an infestation of ants, but they live in a hill. An ant hill.

Chef Miklos Molnar 8:17 AM  

I am luffing Kovacs ERNo!!

And he was luffing my chicken Molnar! if you are making it, make sure you are chiolCAPPUTTINGERivecken!!


@Rex baci, your talo-crural joint is yours for the token, but taken care of it,igen?

RAD2626 8:22 AM  

Totally agreed with Rex write up today, including cleverness of FOUND MONEY and LOS ANGELES clues. What I liked the best was that none of the four theme songs seemed forced. All huge hits in their time, all readily recognizable and spread out over four different decades. AL OERTER is a musty of convenience but is ERNIE Kovacs really in the same category? Would all the great 50's and 60's comedians be?{Sigh}

Unknown 8:23 AM  

Martin A: I find the puzzle and comments a bit reassuring and a bit of exercise in the morning, but your analysis was so true to my sense of stuff that it gave me a level of comfort that I haven't had for a while. Thanks.

Roo Monster 8:27 AM  

Hey All !
Liked theme, similar to last weeks one. That puz and Nevilles here beat me to the punch.

First time seeing AL OERTER, with letters like that figured it'd be more popular. Liked the low dreckness. Only one writeover, and only one letter, MEDIAn-MEDIAL.

And my beard hair isn't necessarily COARSE, I take offense to that. :-) I've been WISE TO Kristen WIIG only because of unusual last name spelling. I THINK she's cute, though...

RHO RHO RHO your AUNT, gently down the TREE...

Charles Flaster 8:28 AM  

Liked this one ; caught theme right away but Adele's song was unfamiliar.
Write over-- WISE TO for WIth it.
Liked cluing for SCREEN, SALINE, and FOUND MONEY.
AL OERTER was a true Olympian whose career amazed me.
Thanks NF

AliasZ 8:39 AM  

What tickled me most about this puzzle was the SKATE below the ANKLE, and the ANKLE crossing the KNEE, the way some men sit in a crowded subway car oblivious to their surroundings.

Lots of ALs too: RENT-AL the Hertz clerk, MEDI-AL the ER attendant, AL-EX who used to date LOLA, PED-AL the bloke who walks everywhere, S-AL-INE the guy in the trig function, and off COARSE, AL OERTER the discus thrower.

I'd like to see Chris EVERT and WILT Chamberlain hurl a discus in competition with Dame FLORA Robson and my dear AUNT Sally.

No matter which way I turned, I kept banging my elbows into the walls of the tiny fitting rooms in the NE/SW corners. They are so small, you have to step outside to change your mind.

The gozinta theme was sorta cute, but the resulting gibberish not so much.

ICEE y'all later.

Marcie Watts 8:43 AM  

Yes. Puzzled no else mentioned it.

Mohair Sam 9:14 AM  

Hard to post today, kinda agree with everybody. Fine puzzle, clever theme. Terrific clue for FOUND MONEY.

We join the group who assumed @Rex would complain about "datedness" of the puzzle, and were surprised he didn't. TORME, ALOERTER, MSDOS, and two of the songs over 50 years old didn't bother him a bit (and certainly didn't bother me).

Tip of the cap to @Martin Abresch, I've always been particularly unmoved by "Blowin' in the Wind" too. Most folks won't admit it.

Nice misdirects on "Hamlet's relative" and "Where Venice is" - We were naming all kinds of Shakespeare characters and off-the-main-trail Italian lagoons.

And finally a thank you to @Laura the Kiwi for declaring me winner of a MAORI/MAORIS argument I had about about 30 years ago. I knew I was right, but I kept seeing MAORI*S* in print from time to time. Now if I can only find Al to show him your post.

Lewis 9:15 AM  

@aketi -- To me, it was an average double letter count, as most puzzles have between 8-12, and this had 10. I just count all the double letters, unless it's a theme that produces a ton, and today's really only produced one (WINND) that wasn't kosher; that double-L in ROLLING is legitimate.

Carola 9:19 AM  

One of those "pride goeth..." days: I wrote in TOWN first thing, feeling very clever. That feeling lasted for 2 lines of the grid, when I ran into the theme...and...no idea. WIBLO??? Having no knowledge of Adele or Springsteen, I felt cleverness yield to a rising sense of panic as I faced a DNF due to NUT (not understanding theme). Thankfully, Gene Kelly came to my rescue.
Had to erase: California (felt clever about that, too).
Was hoping for: something like "doubloons" for the change in the old pair of pants.
Didn't like: SNAP next to ANKLE. A friend of mine just broke hers stepping off a curb. Yikes.
Liked: I GET IT x WISE TO. Took me a while today.

AskGina 9:20 AM  

Let me be the Rex of the experienced plodders. Ok, I had that first thought but now I can't work up the ire. But if you put the word 'blowin' inside the word 'wind' what you have is 'Blowin in Wind.' Etcetera. I hated this puzzle, literally. And there's no way this combo of ancient and newish pop culture clues is medium for a Wednesday.

mathgent 9:23 AM  

Has anyone ever been taught the "Please excuse my dear aunt Sally" rule? It would come up in an algebra class. I first took algebra in 1948 and have taught hundreds of algebra classes since and have never seen it before.

The only rule necessary is to do multiplication before addition. (In algebra, multiplication and division are equivalent. So are addition and subtraction. Exponentiation is multiplication.)

I found the puzzle enjoyable but the only crunch came from discovering the three gimmick entries. I agree with the B grade.

Z 9:24 AM  

@kitshef - I like Aretha's cover.

Things I agreed with this morning:
Too much name, too much bygone. Yep and Yep.
Something about that OE- opening feels like cheating. How often do we see Mark Spitz?
It takes itself too seriously. @Martin Abresch managed to summarize my opinion of Dylan's entire oeuvre in five words.
I got ALOERTER entirely by the crossings. Never heard of him...with all due respect to him as an Olympian...and if I've seen him in xword puzzles, I've blocked him out. I was done and checked every cross to make sure I didn't have an error.

@WW - 1982? Did you miss his skewering of Ronnie and GBI? Anyone who thinks Ronnie was a passable President should read 80's Doonesbury to get a flavor of what we lived through. Or this.

QuasiMojo 9:25 AM  

Like @aketi I was not aware of the Adele reference. Can't bear listening to her, and only am forced to in supermarket checkout lines. But figured it out quickly enough. A fun puzzle that had me occasionally, à la Nabokov, "Dalaughingrk."

chefbea 9:30 AM  

Fun puzzle...got the theme with singing in the rain. Hand up for melt before wilt. Never heard of Al Oerter. And what does AUNT stand for in math???

Nancy 9:30 AM  

I got the gimmick immediately at BLOWIN IN THE WIND, but, instead of saying Aha!, I said Uh oh, as in: I'm in trouble. But other than the Adele song, I wasn't. All the other songs were songs also from my era. I DNF -- because of the Adele song and because I had MEDIAN instead of MEDIAL (9D), so I couldn't see the word pattern.

I also loved the clue for FOUND MONEY. And I'm proud of myself for getting SOUL from just the SO-- (39A). It just sounded like something Emily would say. I also much preferred yesterday's puzzle to today's -- but still, this wasn't nearly as bad as I initially feared it would be.

chefbea 9:31 AM  

Meant to say...go cards!!!!!

Suzy 9:32 AM  

@Lewis-- I agree with you totally about Doonesbury! I'm in awe that Treadeau's wit and satire are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago.

@Rex-- liked both your comments and style today-- thanks!!

THought today's puzzle was terrific!! Feels like found money!

puzzlecrone 9:47 AM  

Trudeau is alive and well and has just published "Yuge!" Proving that he is a prophet.

Nancy 9:50 AM  

I never heard of the AUNT Sally math mnemonic either, and I don't think anyone here has explained it. Not even @Mathgent, who says it has something to do with algebra, but doesn't say exactly what. I assume that one is supposed to remember P-E-M-D-A-S in that exact order...but why? Can anyone explain?

Bruce Springsteen is not of my era, but there was a very popular song from when I was a child called DANCING IN THE DARK. "Dancing in the dark/ Till the tune ends we're dancing in the dark/And it soon ends we're waltzing in the wonder of why we're here..." Is that the Springsteen song, or is there a different DANCING IN THE DARK?

jberg 9:52 AM  

Come on folks, this is a crossword! You don't have to know what songs Adele may have recorded, you just have to know what sounds like a song title -- and once you get that EP and know the theme it pretty much has to be something in the DEEP. That's what puzzles are about -- finding answers that you don't actually know -- like AUNT Sally.

When I saw that WIB I thought 'literally' might mean that some or all of the letters were pronounced out loud, e.g. U R doing gr8t. I didn't get them theme until RASINGININ -- and at that i had to confirm the apostrophe with my wife. (By the way -- there are two INGs and two IN's, but they are symmetrical, which is nice).

@Rex, if AL OERTER gets in the puzzle just because of his letters, how about that WIIG woman?

Michelle Turner 10:04 AM  
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Wm. C. 10:12 AM  

For the PEDMAS questioners, see:


cwf 10:16 AM  

Amusing write-up, @Rex! I'm suspecting you missed the "literally" in the 17A clue because Across Lite does not know how to wrap text. The highlighted clue above the puzzle looks like it's trying to wrap but it often just truncates. And for puzzles with especially wordy clues (like the AVCX, often) even the clue in the right window can get truncated with an ellipsis. (And I'm using a 27" monitor).

Doug 10:17 AM  

If I didn't get Al Oerter right away and assume that the only song ever associated with Gene Kelly was Singin' in the Rain, I never would have finished this puzzle. I kept thinking it was a rebus and I couldn't figure it out until I got to singin and blowin.

Johnny Vagabond 10:19 AM  

I liked this because my enjoyment of a puzzle is not blowing through it in 4 minutes. It's having to keep coming around and around until you have that aha moment.

Whirred Whacks 10:26 AM  

@Z @9:24
People's tastes in humor change over time.

For example, I liked Bill Cosby's stuff in the mid-60s and 1970s, but not so much after that. I felt that Trudeau had about three jokes and he told them repeatedly -- until they became stale, in my opinion. (I did enjoy, however, his 1988 HBO series "Tanner '88", with Michael Murphy about the 1988 presidential primary season).

I loved Doug Kenney's "National Lampoon" in the 1970s -- until it ran its course (Kenney left, in 1977, and died in 1980 after producing "Animal House" and "Groundhog Day."

Exceptions: George Carlin and Joan Rivers.

Favorite Joan Rivers quote: "I have succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking."

mac 10:30 AM  

What a fun puzzle! I danced around for a bit before hitting ra-dancin-in and getting the theme, after that it was smooth sailing. Only write-over was aka for nee.

Quick but delightful Wednesday.

Nancy 10:48 AM  

I just looked up PEMDAS on my own. Very complicated explanation. Must be the New Math that I was lucky enough miss back in the day. It seemed pretty obvious back then that you would do the computations clustered together in the parenthesis first and then add or subtract the result from the rest of the equation. And if it wasn't obvious and intuitive, the teacher doing it on the blackboard over and over again that way in front of you would have made it so. I don't remember it being particularly complicated, difficult, or confusing. Of course you must understand that I have a notoriously fuzzy memory and don't remember much.

Mohair Sam 11:14 AM  

Good Lord @Nancy where have you been for the past 32 years! You've missed Springsteen's totally different "Dancing in the Dark", the video of which introduced the world to Courteney Cox (swoon). You can't honestly tell us that you never wanted your MTV, can you?

Hartley70 11:29 AM  
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Mike Rees 11:32 AM  

A well done puzzle and a fair write-up. Took me a while to figure out the gimmick too, but all fell into place after that. Total guess at the ELIAS/ALOERTER natick.

I like that @Rex is keeping the letter grade thing from MG's regency. I like it a lot.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  


No doubt Doug Kenney was a gem. Probably even a genius. Those who knew him best say there's nothing he couldn't do. But even they would concede he couldn't have produced Groundhog Day, what with him having been dead for 13 years before filming began.

Mike Rees 11:35 AM  

It's the correct order for mathematical equations, i.e., which number functions to perform in which order. Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction.

Joseph Michael 11:39 AM  

Thought this worked quite well. Like the mix of theme songs and the symmetry of two title gerunds ending with g and two without.

Got the theme at ROLLING IN THE DEEP and then the rest fell easily after initially feeling stumped by the whole thing.

Love the DIckinson quote and the pairings of WARM and ICEE, LOLA and USER, ANKLE and SKATE. Also notice that we have a BASED to offset yesterday's BASELESS and the River STYX flowing through the lowest region of the grid.

Hartley70 11:42 AM  

Pleasant Wednesday puzzle here. The theme was nicely done and I enjoyed having to ponder the first one, WIBLOWINND. The remaining three then became easy.

ALOERTER was new to me. I knew TORME and AARON, but not as they were clued so that was a nice touch for me.

I agree with the B. This was very well done, but I can remember Wednesdays with more difficulty and spice so I'm reserving my A. I would have raved if it had appeared on a Tuesday.

Nancy 11:54 AM  

@Mohair (11:14) -- Living under a rock. Too nice a day to do it now, but I'll Google the Springsteen song sometime soon.

Whirred Whacks 11:54 AM  

@anonymous 11:33

Good catch!

I meant "Caddy Shack" (not "Groundhog Day"). The image of the gophers in "Caddy Shack" blurred my memory. (Also both had Bill Murray.)

"Caddy Shack" opened to less than favorable reviews in 1980, and this made Kenney despondent. Some say he committed suicide by jumping off a cliff in Hawaii; some say he slipped off the cliff; and, his humorist-colleagues said he slipped while looking for a suitable cliff to jump off of. :-)

Numinous 12:05 PM  

I'll admit it, this one had me going. I didn't get the theme until the very end and then I had some letters to change to make things work. So, the whole thing took me a couple of minutes longer than my Wednesday average.

TOWN went in right away after the T in TORME, I wasn't going to be taken in by the Hamlet misdirect. ALEX was a gimme even though I hardly know a thing about GARRY's cartoon strip. My youngest daughter is ALEXandra. I lived in LOS ANGELES for twenty years so the Venice clue was also a drop-in.

Nigel tells us that when he established the songs he deliberately looked for gerund IN THE noun, not simply gerund IN noun. He also tells us that he sought a range of songs from verious decades that he thought would ring a bell for nearly any age group; sort of universal appeal.

The Peter, Paul and Mary version of WIBLOWINND was released virtually within weeks of my second wife's cousin's version. Yeah, she was related and her grandparents sat front row in every NYC area concert he ever gave. I was aware of the version from 'Freewheelin'" before the PPM version as was actually surprised the first time I heard it wondering that such a "mainstream" group would pick up a song from a wierd-ass hippy. Turns out they had the same producers. Who knew? That same second wife was a rabid Bruce Springsteen fan so that song was easy once I had the theme. Does anyone over 50 not know RASINGININ?

Speaking of being over 50, I get into click bait from time to time and I recently looked at 50 or so celebs with famous parents. I was amazed to see the adult children of folks I'd seen as kids on TV or in the movies. Just for example, OPIE has a beautiful daughter who is all grown up.

While It may seem dated, I liked the not to Percy Dovetonsils who always threatened to tear me away from "Heigh-ho, STEVEareno."

@Laura the Kiwi, I only lived in Australia for six years but I know a few New Zeelanders, e.g. one with whom I'd worked in Sydney turned up at my job in L.A.. I think the idea of an En Zed puzzle is great. I'm sure @Rex and his old lady would love it too. I'm betting there are easyily understood words for Americans that could be clued a Kiwi flavour (see what i did there? It took me years to stop including M&A's favourite letter).

@Rex, I like the grading system, man, Keep it up.

Roo Monster 12:22 PM  

@Z 9:24AM,
To preface my response, let me just say I'm neither Rep. nor Dem. As I've said before, all politicians only tell you what you want to hear to get them elected.

With that, unfortunately there is no way to sway a Reps. mind from the fact that Reagan was a god, if not The God. I actually agree he messed up the country, if you look at graphs of money-related issues (generalizing here) everything is flowing along fine, everything going up slowly ans steadily, but when Reagan was in, they all spiked. Has been a while since I've seen said graphs, but remember one was inflation. Just sayin.

Now I must avoid thrown things by the Reps!


Anoa Bob 12:25 PM  

Me too for never hearing the AUNT Sally mnemonic and I got the Math Award for graduating H.S. with the highest GPA in that subject and was a pre-engineering student in my first year of college. (Then I discovered sex, drugs & rock and roll and went on a different tangent, but I regress...)

I agree with @AskGina. Whenever I'm expected to add extra info that the constructor wasn't able to include, in order to make the theme work (here the "the") it takes some of the shine off the puzzle for me.

I always thought "BLOWIN in the WIND" had a kind of Zen Koan feel to it, but then again, Peter, Paul & Mary could of sung a page out of the phone book and I would have liked it.

ALOERTER looks like it could be the person at the day spa who rubs you down with a soothing, natural unguent.

Masked and Anonymous 12:55 PM  

"IN" songs that U can sorta turn inside-out, and then they still contain one or more leftover IN's in em. Woulda only given that theme idea a C or so, becuz this kinda theme thing has been done a lot. But then I beheld the pure harlarity of the RASINGININ themer. I mean, shoot, U literally took out one "IN", and U got three of the little runts leftover! Primo. And I knew all the songs, so ... thUmbsUp+.

fave stuffins:

* FOUNDMONEY. Nothin better. Go for lots walks in a sorta outdoor mall area near our pad. Invariably, we find coins on the sidewalk. Found a quarter under a pickup, onetime, outside the sports bar.
* ENG. Misread clue at first, in my frenzy to shave off precious nanoseconds. Thought it was askin about the E in ENT. Well, could be English Nice Try, I reckon.
* ALOERTER. "Oer in Alter". Lesser known song.
* ONCAMERA. "Came In On Ra". Egyptian 50's hit.

Thanx, Mr. OG in FARTY.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Sorry if this a repeat, but I just skimmed the other comments. A GERUND is not just a verb ending in -ing; it's an -"ing" used as a NOUN. Otherwise it's a participle, sometimes as an adjective, other times as part of a verb phrase, which you can see if you look at the complete lyrics:
(The answer, my friend, IS) BLOWIN IN THE WIND. As a gerund: BLOWING bubbles is fun. Adjective: Her hair, BLOWIN.....got tangled.
(We WERE only) DANCIN IN THE DARK. As a gerund: DANCING is good exercise.Adjective: Do you like my DANCING dog?
(I'M) SINGING IN THE RAIN. Gerund: I enjoy SINGING. Adj: I hear America SINGING...)
As for Adele's: ROLLING IN THE DEEP might be a gerund ("we could have had it, i.e.....ROLLING...") or an adjective ("we, ROLLING IN THE DEEP could have had it all" or "tears ROLLING.. are gonna fall.)

Dick Swart 1:07 PM  

Enjoyed the gerunds, certainly more than yesterday's disaster.

G Trudeau is as relevant as ever! 'Yuge' came out in July. He has been skewering T-Rump for 40 years!

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

My gawd, how I miss Gaffney.

Joe Bleaux 1:25 PM  

Fogarty's puzzle is, IMHO, a dandy Wednesday-level diversion: clever, challenging (got the trick with WIBLOWINND, but not immediately), decently clued -- overall, just plain fun.

Teedmn 1:30 PM  

There's a big pool of ink at 41D where ENG went in and came out again because GRK at 48A was obviously...hey! "DADANCINGRK was where I finally got the theme and then it was just a matter of re-reading the theme clues except for the Adele song. She has a great voice but it's not my kind of music.

My favorite FOUND MoNEY was a $20 bill in an old book. My mom used to buy boxes of old books at auctions and they sat on our basement shelves, seldom visited. When I showed Mom my discovery, she tried to claim it, as the owner of the book. She caved and let me keep it after I pointed out that she would never have found it because she rarely read the old books, being caught up in her "Book of the Month" club selections.

MEDIAL was a WOE for me but otherwise a fairly easy puzzle. @Rex's sympathy for AL OERTER's being treated as a non-sex object had my co-workers wondering why I was snorting over a crossword.

Thanks NF!

aging soprano 1:39 PM  

I also, like @J.Vagabond, enjoy wandering around my puzzles in no rush. I was surprised to see one like this on a Wed. Thought the letters out of order stuff was reserved for Thursdays or Sundays. I needed the crosses to get OERTER, but once I got him I sure remembered him. I was surprised that his Olympic golds happened such a long time ago, when I was still growing up. Just doesn't seem that long ago. I am reading the 1999 book "Rebels in White Gloves" by Miriam Horn. It is about the Wellesley class of 1969, Hillary Clinton's graduating class (only one year after Al Oerter's fourth gold). I also am from the class of '69, tho' not Wellesley, but the book is just full of ALOERTER moments. Lovely.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

@MandA: " FOUNDMONEY. Nothin better." - Not so fast. It's established (psychological) fact that Won money > found money > inherited money > otherwise unearned money > earned money. According to US tax code, you're right, Found money > inherited money > won money > otherwise unearned money > earned money, assuming you're not so stupid as to report found money.

Master Melvin 1:56 PM  

Long Islander AL OERTER was an old fashioned Olympian. Worked at Grumman for years. Every four years he dusted off the old discus and went and won a gold medal. Probably never heard of steroids.

OISK 2:14 PM  

Bruce recorded "Dancing in the Dark," that lovely Howerd Dietz song from "Bandwagon,"? ( beautifully sung by Mary Martin...) NOT!! I went to Spotify to listen to the Springsteen rendition, and of course it was a completely different ( and for my taste FAR inferior ) song.

I have never actually listened voluntarily to anything from Springsteen, so of course I had no idea there was a newer tune called "Dancing in the Dark." In fact, if one Googles "Dancing in the Dark," it is difficult to even find the wonderful old song. Some time in the future, no doubt, some rocker will write some garbage and call it "Our Love is Here to Stay," and out goes Gershwin. (yes, I am being judgmental, I mean no disrespect to those who enjoy different music. I am past 70, though, so forgive me...)

I never heard of the Adele song either, but other than Aaron Paul, most of the pop culture answers were familiar to me. I like wordplay. I give this one a B.

OISK 2:17 PM  

Oh - my favorite rendition of "Blowin' in the Wind " was by the Chad Mitchell Trio.

Chronic dnfer 2:38 PM  

Thought I had a dnf. Just kept writing in letters. Didn't get the theme til I came here. Knew al Oerter but not the spelling. I can still here frank Gifford saying his name wide world of sports.

Masked and Anonymous 2:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 2:44 PM  

@AskGina: U make a good point, about "Blowin in the Wind" not = BLOWININWIND (WIBLOWINND). This kinda "droppin articles on the way to morphed themers" has been done before, tho. See 3 Nov 2011 NYTPuz, for instance.

@Laura the Kiwi: Big howdy and ginormous welcome to U! The Maori, the merrier. Always super-great to have more international flavoUr (yo, @Numinous), around this here dump.

@(maskless&)Anonymous 1:55pm: M&A will release his tax returns, right after the Trumpmeister does it. (I hear he has found more quarters under the pickup than M&A has, so he got IRS-audited.)



mathgent 3:57 PM  

Today's WSJ puzzle is by David Steinberg. IMHO, far superior to today's NYT offering. I wonder what prompts Steinberg to submit to WSJ instead of NYT? WSJ puzzles have titles and today's provided a hint to the theme. But today's title gave no more information than what was provided in the list of clues.

Mohair Sam 4:22 PM  

@OISK (and @Nancy by default) found an instrumental of the original "Dancing of the Dark" with Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire doing the dancing, at night, in Central Park, on Page 3 of a YouTube search. Then I found Sassy Miss Sarah Vaughn singing the original on page 8 (fabulous). Everything else that came up was Bruce's version and covers of same. So you're Oisk, we could lose some classics.

Nancy 5:14 PM  

@OISK (2:14 p.m.) I love, love, love your comment! How true, how true! (And how incredibly sad.) To anyone who missed that comment, go back and read it. OISK -- it's quite remarkable how similar our taste in, and knowledge of, music is. Long live Arthur Schwartz. And to Mohair Sam (4:22 p.m.)-- So glad you went Googling (or YouTubing or whatever it's called) and found such great versions of the real DANCING IN THE DARK. To everyone else here I say: Go and do likewise.

G. Weissman 5:22 PM  

The theme clues just don't make sense. BLOWIN is not literally "in the WIND." It is literally placed within the word WIND. There is no "the" to speak of in any of these clues or in the puzzle. So I found this less cute than poorly realized.

kitshef 5:38 PM  

Welcome to the board, @Laura the Kiwi. Love your beautiful country, featuring the best drivers in the world. But I'm afraid I'll be rooting hard against the Football Ferns tonight.

Teedmn 6:48 PM  

I'm surprised @Rex didn't post a link to his fave Diana Krall singing Dancing in the Dark. I liked it better than the Sarah Vaughn version because it was a bit peppier with an almost salsa sound to it.

Mohair Sam 8:18 PM  

@Teedmn - Stupendous video - thanks. Shame on me (and Rex) for not finding it. Ever seen Krall perform live? She's amazing.

Nancy 8:39 PM  

I just listened to the Springsteen song, DANCING IN THE DARK. I had to switch to the online version with lyrics provided, because, as with almost all rock numbers, the lyrics were completely drowned out by the heavy bass and the singer (Springsteen) appeared to have no interest whatsoever in enunciating them clearly. This always seems especially odd when the performer is the one who wrote the lyrics. You would think he would want them understood, but I guess then the rock song wouldn't be quite as rock-y. I found the song very...energetic. Sorry, @Mohair, but I'm with @OISK -- this DANCING IN THE DARK doesn't hold a candle to the Schwartz song.

Mohair Sam 9:26 PM  

@Nancy - I never said it did, I said I liked Courteney Cox. See my 8:18 post.

Nancy 10:26 PM  

Mohair -- I assumed that, because you were shocked that I wasn't familiar with the Springsteen song, that meant you liked it. Sorry if I misconstrued your comment. I'm not familiar with Courteney Cox, the object of your swooning, but I'll Google her tomorrow.

Z 11:44 PM  

@Wm C - We need to teach you to embed. That URL is intimidating to look at.

Surprised that math people don't know Please Excuse My Dear AUNT Sally. Must be below their pay grade. It's about the order of operations one executes when one is simplifying a complex math expression, and is probably most often taught in middle school or ninth grade these days. And there is a big difference between exponents and other mathematical representations of multiplication. Exponents before other multiplication is important.

@Whirred Whacks - I get your point. I think it's been argued that there are only seven basic dramatic plots. Wouldn't surprise me if there are only 3 basic political jokes.

@Roo - I've said it before, I'll say it again; Reagan, both Bushes, and the entire Republican Party of 2016 are far far FAR closer in politics and demeanor to James Buchanan than Abraham Lincoln. People don't get that statement quite often, but it is no more radical than saying Springsteen and Bon Jovi perform in the same genre.

Anonymous 11:51 PM  

NCA President 8:12 am I am glad to hear that you do not have carpenter ants in ice cream country. Their nests are in wood and they do not make hills, though they do live in colonies.

Sarah Jasson 3:26 AM  

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Mark Rukavina 9:11 AM  

Hi all! I try to do the puzzle every day and I enjoy reading your comments but I have a question. How does Rex measure his finishing times? I have tried filling in the grid by just repeating the alphabet as fast as I can write and even that takes me two minutes!

Burma Shave 10:42 AM  


If you’ve FOUNDMONEY and you’re ROLLING in it DEEP,
what was BLOWIN’ in the WIND, I THINK is WISETO keep.
So ISAY go SINGIN’ in the RAIN, go ONCAMERA, have a lark,
Let the whole TOWN see you on the SCREEN when you’re DANCING in the DARK.


spacecraft 12:07 PM  

How refreshing to see ALOE as part of something bigger! Yes, he's an oldie, off whom you have to knock the dust, but a goodie. So is ERNIE Kovacs, who remains one of the few really original comic minds. For me, his relevance is timeless. Here's to ya, ERNIE--and a tip o' the hat to The Nairobi Trio!

Ol' Ern was my way in, actually. Though I strongly suspected TORME for 1-across, I wasn't quite sure, and couldn't fathom that anyone would EVER want to name a product after OPIUM. My mind is closed on that subject; it's why I never watched a minute of Breaking Bad--and never will. Now I'll be inundated with comments about how well the series was done, how many awards it won, etc. I don't care. The premise is simply unacceptable, period.

ONCAMERA is a familiar phrase, so it passes...but don't we really mean on FILM? I don't THINK I'd make out too well bopping Bigfoot over the head with my trusty Leica. And I DON'T eat that beef jerky that advertises "Messin' with Sasquatch." A more ridiculous ad campaign I can't imagine: we're supposed to identify with those idiots??

But I wander. This was MEDIAL for a Wednesday. I kind of liked doing it for those OBG's; can't count the Adele one because I haven't heard it--or of it. Very little in the fill trash department; even BFF, consonant string that it is, is squarely in the language. Same deal with (pardon the dust again) MSDOS. For DOD I'm passing on Ms. WIIG and LOLA, and going with Chrissy EVERT. Hah! Birdie.

rondo 12:53 PM  

@AskGina – you are correct that this was not medium for a Wednesday – it was super EZ EZ EZ!! I’m no pop culture maven, but these songs are all such flat out gimmes. If you didn’t know at least three of the four, well, you need to come out into the real world a bit more – nay, a lot more. Knew some gimmick was going on with the WIB___ start, figured it out in no time and off to the races.

The Springsteen video for DANCING in the DARK, featuring yeah baby Courteney Cox, was actually (not literally) filmed about 5 blocks from where I am sitting in St. Paul, MN. Not in NYC nor in LOSANGELES.

Would rather see STYX clued as Blue Collar Man band. To the best of my knowledge STYX has not covered any of today’s four theme songs, but they did an album of covers about 10 years ago called Big Bang Theory (before the TV show). Their versions of Summer in the City (Lovin’ Spoonful) and Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull) are nothing short of fantastic. I blew up a pair of speakers playing that STYX CD. Some of their other covers verge on terrible.

If you know your math functions at all, you really don’t need to count on AUNT Sally to help you remember. I had forgotten all about her.

EVERT shoulda been clued Chris. Funny yeah baby Kristen WIIG makes an appearance today. Ever see her dance routine to the Sia song? Hmmm.

I THINK this puz was a SNAP.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

What a come down from yesterday's pearl. Could tell something was strange in the theme words, but not paying any attention to lyrics/song titles tied my hands. But, I couldn't care less about the theme, and worked the rest fairly easily.

leftcoastTAM 1:30 PM  

On the easy side for Wednesday once flushing out the theme. Gene Kelly's classic was "literally" the most revealing. Adele's entry was least so in my case.

AL OERTER was an Olympic hero of mine when I was a kid, and, later, ERNIE Kovacs a favorite comedian. He died too young.

Fun cluing for TOWN.

I SAY makes another in a string of appearances.

All in all, good, mildly entertaining.

Diana,LIW 3:14 PM  

Read Rex's opine and the Synders' comments, so hope I'm not saying something 100 other folks did.

I got the theme at the bottom, and found much of the solve pretty easy. But I was eventually done in by the ING vs. IN' variations. Blowin' in the Wind makes sense, but it is SINGING in the
Rain. So what Rex calls a pea for the princess, I call a foul. And not knowing Adele's song also messed me up.

Otherwise fine and fun, but not as good as yesterday's.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

From Wikipedia:
Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American musical comedy film directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds.

leftcoastTAM 4:53 PM  

@Teedmn-- Thanks for the link to Diana Krall's "Dancing in the Dark" video. Very nice, movie romantic (not always a bad thing), especially the William Holden/Kim Novak sequence from "Picnic," despite that he looks old enough to be her father. But Krall holds her own, with or without the video.

Diana,LIW 9:16 PM  


Point well taken:


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