1986 hit for Talking Heads / MON 10-31-16 / 1988 #1 hit for UB40 / 1990 hit that samples bass line from Queen/Bowie's Under Pressure / Old boys networkk meeting places

Monday, October 31, 2016

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "SWAN SWAN HUMMINGBIRD" — Hurrah. We're all free now ... what noisy cats are we ...

Theme answers:
  • "ICE, ICE, BABY" 
Word of the Day: "BYE BYE BLACKBIRD" 
"Bye Bye Blackbird" is a song published in 1926 by the American composer Ray Henderson and lyricist Mort Dixon. It is considered a popular standard and was first recorded by Sam Lanin's Dance Orchestra in March 1926, followed by Nick Lucas and Gene Austin the same year. (wikipedia)
• • •

Happy Halloween, everyone! This puzzle ... was not scary. It was actually quite delightful, largely because of its recalling several songs that I quite enjoy. I was just talking about Talking Heads "True Stories" earlier today with my wife while narrating the history of my fandom, lamenting that they're never gonna get back together and tour, etc., and bam, here's the single off that album (which is also, with "BYE BYE BLACKBIRD"—never heard of it—probably the least known song-song of the bunch-bunch). Mom game me a "True Stories" movie poster the day she dropped me off at college in 1987 (yes, the album "True Stories" was also a movie "True Stories"). Also related to my freshman year of college: "RED, RED WINE," which could be heard coming out of every other dorm room window in the fall of '87 (along with the rest of their 1983 album "Labour of Love"—not sure why That album should've been So popular on campuses four years on, but it was on mine). Before the college years were over, I would be subjected to the catchy trauma that is "ICE, ICE BABY." And then there's Marvin, who transcends space and time. So, yeah, the theme songs really hit me where I live.

[John Goodman, comin' atcha!]

Fill is OK, not good, not horrible, definitely not terribly MODERN / AGE (lotsa usual suspects: ELOI, ODEONS, ERMA, etc.). FRENETIC and MEN'S CLUB gave the puzzle some nice life, kept it from being too BLAH. I got down into record solving time territory, which I *think* is like 2:26, but I had a few tiny hiccups and ended up at 2:33. I often choke at the very end, when I've destroyed a puzzle and am Well Aware my time is going to be great. My fingers get all clumsy and my eyes don't read the clues right. Not clutch. So at the end I blanked on 71A: Word with finger or America (MIDDLE) and had to toggle around and come at it from crosses. Also had trouble earlier with "BYE BYE BLACKBIRD," which I came at from the back end, via KOPF, which I also didn't know (though I guess I "know" it as the last part of "dumKOPF," which I have heard). Two cross-references also slightly impeded my forward momentum, but only slightly. OK, time for dinner, then possibly the final game of the World Series.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Richard Rutherford 12:33 AM  

Bye Bye Blackbird sung at every wedding reception in my family. Also prominent at end of Sleepless in Seattle.

Cassieopia 12:35 AM  

FRENETIC was the bomb. Otherwise a slightly tetchier Monday than usual, not having OFL's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s standards.

TomAz 12:49 AM  

The puzzle was fine.

Rex's writeup was much better, just for the music talk. I've been on a big IRS-era REM bender the past week or two, especially Document and Life's Rich Pageant, so to pull Swan Swan H out -- well let me just say this is one reason I read this blog every day. (That's a rather inarticulate was of saying I'm digging it).

I'm a few years older than Rex though, and I see True Stories as decidedly on the downside of Talking Heads' discography. "Wild Wild Life" was one of the few good songs on that album. Everything before that was absolutely glorious, though.

which gets me to thinking. ENO shows up enough in the NYT xword I wonder if some clever constructor could come up with a Brian Eno-themed puzzle. Roxy Music, Another Green World, Bowie, Talking Heads, U2, ambient... hopefully we'd leave Coldplay out..

Imagine the shape of a puzzle that could accommodate More Songs About Buildings And Food.

The puzzle? it was fine.

Martín Abresch 1:01 AM  

Loved the theme. Good mix of songs. I know BYE BYE, BLACKBIRD from Miles Davis. Throw in Marvin Gaye and the Talking Heads and you got yourself a stew going.

The fill reminded me of being in a class where the teacher is calming talking and the room is warm so you get a bit drowsy and your eyes get heavy and then WHOMP! The teacher has smacked his cane on the table and is asking you some crazy question out of nowhere and you feel like you're in a weird dream and can barely make sense of the question. "A cubic meter is called a what, Mr. Abresch?" "Head in German, if you please, Mr. Abresch." "Tell me what you know of Grecian ODEONS, Mr. Abresch."

Anyway, the fill is mostly very easy and the difficult words are fairly crossed, except for AWN/ODEONS. That one's a killer. Had to guess a few letters there before I got the happy music.

Fibonacci 1:02 AM  

I solved this puzzle in 18.352 seconds. I filled the entire grid with numbers.

I am awesome.

Larry Gilstrap 1:07 AM  

Nice Monday effort by all concerned. All of the tunes are classics made famous in fabulous recordings, with the exception of 63A. Most artists, I assume, freely sanction sampling if only to generate revenue. Why not? But, Vanilla Ice in a self-reverential ham-handling of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury? Galling! And speaking of self-referential, see what I just did there?, is using EASY to describe a Monday puzzle an example of "meta." With all due respects to OFL, to characterize BYE BYE BLACKBIRD as the outlier of this hit parade is absurd. Google recordings of that tune and the list is a veritable who's who of musical giants. Well, Tiny Tim, not so much. Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Paul McCartney, etal.

Shortz once again allows ANO without the tilde, crossing the tilde-less MODERN. Sloppy editing? Discuss.

When I first started solving the puzzle in the 80's, I soon had to learn standard crosswordese. AWN was one of the first that often showed up in regular rotation. Rarely seen these days.

Charles Flaster 1:10 AM  

Very easy even though I was only familiar with two of the songs.
Love Marvin Gaye.
Liked clue for NESTER.
Thanks PAC

jae 1:13 AM  

Medium for me but it probably plays tougher for a beginner. Knew the song titles but have only actually heard two of the four, @Rex BYE BYE BLACKBIRD is one of the two.

Talking Heads fans might enjoy Documentary Now's Final Transmission on IFC.

A fine Mon., liked it.

Grandpa 1:13 AM  

"At first, I was kinda tentative about this new title, Grandfather. Like a big old clock sitting in the hallway, tick tock tick tock tick... dusty and irrelevant. And then the baby came, and I was the proudest guy in town."

chefwen 1:55 AM  

Made a total mess in the NE. First thing I filled was cARgo for the baggy pants, bzzzt. Out, HAREM in, had the AG and the MO in 5 & 6D and without thinking (obviously) filled MOment AGo, bzzzt! Try again, sweetheart.
Heard my father call my brother dummkoph a thousand times, but never associated it with head, so that was slow in coming cuz I didn't know the life part of WILD WILD.

Easy Monday made difficult by silliness on my part. I'm going to blame it on the Packers!

chefwen 1:57 AM  

OOPS, NW not NE. Doh!

Anonymous 2:01 AM  

Sometimes on Mondays I like to resrict myself to filling in the grid square by square, left to right and top to bottom. This was a perfect puzzle for that bit of distraction. Eight minutes ain't bad for doing it that way.


Anonymous 2:54 AM  

Favorite line from True Stories: from Byrne's voiceover as a flat and treeless stretch of Texas suburbia pans by at Lincoln (?) convertible level, "who can say that it is not beautiful?"

Cristi 3:27 AM  

To get Bye, Bye, Blackbird into your head, Rex, watch Melvin and Howard...an '80s pleasure. My grandfather used to sing me to sleep with it.

Loren Muse Smith 4:16 AM  

Ok. So now I have the earworm, Bye, Bye Love. Hah! And that song was upstaged by the 15 BYE BYE BLACKBIRD.

At first I was thinking there'd be lots of possibilities for themers, but actually, titles with only three words… not so many. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, Green Green Grass of Home, Poor Poor Pitiful Me…nope

Ok – maybe Baa Baa Blacksheep.

Oh, and too bad this is only 9 letters. I love this song. "You so 2000 and late." I. Love. That. Line.

So DURHAM is a twin city of Raleigh? Never heard that one. Sister city, maybe. But the RTP is a triangle of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. So Durham could be a little triplet. With a big ole wart. Go Heels.

It felt a little sly to clue LAND as a word repeated in a song title.

WONK is timely, right? I can't follow all the wonks and their discussions about whether Comey violated any law.

For 10D – that old boys' meeting places – my first thoughts were drugstore counters (you know – for breakfast) or barbershops. Proctologist offices, even.

I really liked the clue for 71A MIDDLE. It feels cynical but maybe I'm just overthinking things.

Peter – always a pleasure to see your name at the top. I love your puzzles. Favorite cross this morning: WILD/ABANDON.

Happy Halloween, fellow word wonks.

Susierah 5:28 AM  

Very seldom,or never, do I learn new words on Monday. Today, awn and Kopf got added to my crossword vocabulary.

Lewis 6:01 AM  

Solid Monday, in which I enjoyed FRENETIC and EXCISING, and noted the cross of ROT and DREGS. It filled quickly despite my not knowing STERE or two of the theme answers. It had a bit more heft than the typical Monday, IMO, and if I may be permitted to be inspired by the NE corner, I'd say that this puzzle emitted a nice mass.

Passing Shot 6:37 AM  

The puzzle was fine, but did anyone else find the cluing a bit too on-the-nose, even for a Monday?

Z 7:10 AM  

I asked for Opera and Rap, dammit.*

I liked this appreciably more than yesterday's offering, but let's not be hypocritical. It is still a Pop Culture centered theme. That it is not one company's products makes it better. That the songs range from a 1920' standard to the 90's is an improvement over a single decade's worth of OS names. That we get the "three words with the first two repeated" motif is a nice touch. But if you weren't born in this puzzle's sweet spot (I'm guessing 1957-1972) I wonder if you're buying some bone chains and toothpicks.**

@LMS - It's not "whether?" it is "how many?" MERCY, MERCY ME, how many comparisons between Republicans and Captain Ahab are future historians going to make?

*Sorry. Still in "Get out of the f;$#%*€g left lane" driving mode
** I really really really want to see Michael Stipe explicate these lyrics. Really.

Z 7:17 AM  

BTW - If you like David Byrne but don't keep up on his post Talking Heads work, let me recommend Everything that Happens will Happen Today (with Brian Eno) and Love This Giant (with St. Vincent). Good stuff.

Jim Webb 7:38 AM  

Was he trying to be topical with the pairing on 71A?

chefbea 7:56 AM  

Of course I knew 1 across!!! but I really would have like a halloween puzzle...I know we got one last week.
Never heard of wonks???

kitshef 8:08 AM  

Easy and fun. Was enjoying the theme and resulting EARworms enough not to notice any fill issues (which are very few as I look back now).

MENS CLUBS horizontally symmetrically placed to HAREM - neat trick.

Great start to the week.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Holy Pumpkins, Charlie Brown --- something I finally totally agree with Rex about: Talking Heads and True Stories! This is my absolute favorite movie of all time ... and there are several great songs on the album/in the movie, but the movie scene with "Wild Wild Life" is so fun and I dare anyone not to smile while watching it.
Among the many messages of the movie is the notion that all sorts of different people can find a way to live harmoniously .... something we so much need these days.

And apropos of really nothing except that maybe there are people here who might also appreciate one of my favorite quotations from the movie (David Byrne, as narrator):
"I really enjoy forgetting. When I first come to a place, I notice all the little details. I notice the way the sky looks. The color of white paper. The way people walk. Doorknobs. Everything. Then I get used to the place and I don't notice those things anymore. So only by forgetting can I see the place again as it really is."

Oh, and the puzzle was fun too :-) for the music reasons discussed.


NCA President 8:25 AM  

Duck Duck Goose.

So the theme is what again? Just two of the same words followed by another...that are songs? Mkay.

I know BYE BYE BLACKBIRD as a jazz standard....and somehow, from my childhood.

I didn't know ICE ICE BABY...but got it easily on the crosses.

Is it me or has EPIpen been in the puzzles a lot lately?

EXCISING and AWN were the only two "challenges" in the puzzle...the rest was basically just fill in the blank (and evidently self aware) EASY. There were big swaths of the downs I didn't even get to because I'd filled in all the acrosses.

So, yeah. Monday. Bye Bye October...

GILL I. 8:55 AM  

Pack up all my
cares and woe
feeling low here I go
That was a favorite at our house when I was little. @Rex...I'm sure you know it. Perhaps you've heard a rendition by Nina Simone or maybe Ella Fitzgerald?
NICE Monday fare.
Is a WONK a wanker?
Apropos of nothing, last night we went to an adult Halloween party. My friend's husband always wanted a man cave type room to be shared by everybody. Anyway, they bought a house in Auburn with lots of land on it and an old barn. They converted the barn into a play house and one end of it has a huge Sony HDTV - and I mean huge. Our host wanted everyone to watch "Hush" because he thought it was a neat scary movie. If you have Netflix, watch it. Turn all the lights off and make yourself a stiff drink and don't answer the door.

Tita A 9:01 AM  

I like the pairings that @kitshef and @lms pointed out. Made the puzzle less BLAH.

And of course the last clue/answer raised an eyebrow. (Actually, it raised two. I don't have the gene that lets me raise a single eyebrow. I've always secretly envied those who can. Is it possible to teach oneself? Do people have a dominant eyebrow?)
Anyway, that can't not be an message.

35A...answer could be just about anything. Except for Green paint...for that, the answer would be overUSED.
Were the textbooks used by that nearby USER in the grid?
Besides, everyone knows that those books aren't USED - they're pre-owned.

And while I've worked my way onto that tangent, pre-owned has got to be the single most cringeworthy, condescending, madeup ad speak ever... illustrative of what little regard our admen and women have for their target audiences.

G. Weissman 9:10 AM  

Does anyone else think it's lame that the crossword now uses Spanish, French, and German words regularly? Not foreign words that have entered the English language, but words that require solvers to know foreign words. As if there are not enough words in the English language to craft a crossword puzzle. Sad, as Trump would say.

Also, "True Stories" is the point where Tslking Heads went bad, imo. First album of theirs without a lyrics sheet, which was telling. "Wild, Wild Life" is an unfortunate song.

Hartley70 9:11 AM  

I missed the 80's. I wasn't in a coma or an alcoholic stupor, but I don't remember much except bottles, diapers, and Raffi tapes. I'm sure I knew who the President was, but there was no pop music in my world. That meant that three of the themers were a wash for me, and I had to use the crosses. Without Marvin and the BLACKBIRD I might have had a DNF on a Monday, and what a Halloween Horror that would have been.

I had trouble in the mid-section with AWN and ELOI and KOPF. They don't seem Monday appropriate. Grumble. Grumble. But I had them at the end so I had a satisfying finish.

JHC 9:15 AM  

No shout-out for Citizen KANE literally sitting on his SLED?

Nancy 9:17 AM  

MERCY, MERCY ME -- I actually know BYE, BYE BLACKBIRD. What's more, I can sing it, complete with every single lyric. Just as though it were yesterday. Which, of course, is the whole point. It was yesterday. It was Very Yesterday. As for the '80s and '90s songs -- never heard of 'em. Fortunately, in a puzzle this easy, it really didn't matter. But after yesterday's completely mindless pop music trivia fest, I do have a something to say to WS:

There are so many critical things happening in the world today, Will. Surely #1 hit songs can't be the only knowledge an educated solver is required to have. If one fills up one's mind with such nonsense, how much room is left for really important subjects? Just asking.

jberg 9:20 AM  

Damn, @JHC just beat me to it. Not much more to say, excpet to welcome back D-DAY and EPI pen from yesterday.

@Rex's writeup makes me feel really really old. "Bye Bye Blackbird" is, as the WOD definition says, a "standard"--which is supposed to mean everyone knows it, so musicians can improvise on it and you'll see what they're doing. Sigh.

LB 9:21 AM  

Bye Bye Blackbird is a famous standard. I know nothing of Talking Heads. Showing my age.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:41 AM  

I once restrung an autoharp for a lovely old man whoise father had given him the instrument as a Christmas present shortly before skipping out on the family. In 1920 or so. BYE BYE BLACKBIRD was one of the first songs he played with me when I returned it. He also needed a D major chord added to the instrument, in order to play Finlandia on it, which he had learned on his harmonica while witnessing for peace in Nicaragua in the 1980's. "This is my song, o gods of all the nations..."

On an even less puzzle-related note, the people who think Hillary is about to steal the election stole my Hillary sign from my front yard yesterday. NICE.

Hungry Mother 9:42 AM  

I've been to Raleigh-Durham Airport many times and used to visit that region often when my daughter lived in Chapel Hill. Now she's in Massachusetts, near the Rhode Island border, so we traded grits for clam chowder. The puzzle was a nice start to the week.

r.alphbunker 10:14 AM  

Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin', it was all I hoped it would be

(ma)(ma)s and (pa)(pa)s

Details are here.

Mohair Sam 10:16 AM  

See. Monday's can be fun. Nifty theme.

One risk of @Rex's blog is exposing your lack of knowledge of one commonly known item and getting pounded for it. Today's "Bye, Bye Blackbird" is the perfect example. How can he not know that standard? You and I, of course, know everything - this could never happen to us.

Hang in there Rex.

mathgent 10:50 AM  

@Fibonacci (1:02): Delicious!

No fun. D.

Masked and Anonymous 11:20 AM  

C. C. RIDER mighta got points here, for a good crossword-related tune. The ones that made it into this puz are pretty good, too. Agree with @RP: Marvin Gaye's songs were all crazy great. Not sure I know ICEICEBABY; sure didn't understand its clue.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Oak or elm} = TREE. Interestin, that the answer could also be extended into: sTREEt. Probably a whole new puztheme idea, deep in there somewhere.

fave weeject: AWN. Should be a contraction called AWN'T, coined in its honor. Scariest thing in this Halloween puz: ODEONS crossin AWN. That AWN'T such a good MonPuz combo. Curdles the moo-cow's milk, a mite.

Thanks, Mr. Collins dude. Happy Halloween, all U dudes and darlins. And a special boo out to C.C. [M&A'da put U in this puz.] Nice write-up, @RP; have a Hershey's Kiss, on m&e.

Masked & Anonymo2Us


Joseph Michael 11:23 AM  

Can't remember the last time Rex gave a puzzle such a positive review. Thought at first that someone else must be guest hosting, but then saw the byline and there he was.

Perhaps it's a Halloween thing?

Whatever, it's a welcome departure from the usual grumpy Monday morning.

As for the puzzle, it was, um, okay.

Liked the clue for MIDDLE. A political WONK recently described Trumpism as America's middle finger.

Roo Monster 11:25 AM  

Hey All !
MERCY MERCY ME, a double-theme-puz from PACman. No WONK here on this offering. Just a by-the-numbers MonPuz. BLAH BLAH BLAH...

Edgy clue with MIDDLE. And I believe the OSAMA clue really did not need the qualifier of SEALS target. Everybody knows ___ Bin Laden. NAG NAG, I know. Extra themer by clue, LAND LAND. @Lorens BAA BAA BLACKSHEEP is sorta in at 27D, BABA. NICE NICE. Lots of (ok, 2, but seems higher) mid-Y words. No one's complained about the non-tilde ANO. USED USER, ETAL.

I like to keep track of F's in these puzs. The F is like @M&A's U. It seems to be the reject of the consonants. 2 today.


relicofthe60s 11:37 AM  

"Bye Bye Blackbird" is the "least known song"? By whom? Because it's old? I would say it's the best known, certainly better known to a lot of people than "Ice Ice Baby," which I for one had never heard of. Oh, it's hip hop. No wonder. One of the things I find most annoying about Rex is his assumption that gaps in his knowledge, many of which I find shocking, match up with everyone else's.

Masked and Anonymous 11:41 AM  

@Roo: yep. F's are cool consonants, and don't turn up much. They do get some respect when they do, howsomeever: 4 scrabble points, a pop. Now … yer G's don't show up much more, and get only 2 points. (Shoot, even D's get 2 points, and they show up all the time.) So … G's might well be the Rodney Dangerfield of consonants.

F's are cooler, tho. Good letter to keep yer eye on.


Gardenia Spectre 11:44 AM  

A rather subtle tip of the hat to the fact that it is Vanilla Ice's birthday today.

old timer 11:59 AM  

It would have been great to work "Monday Monday" into the puzzle. Which was easy even for a Monday, at least once you figured out that each themer started with two repeated words. The clock clue made the Roman numeral XII respectable, I thought. My grandfather's clock struck 24 when he carried his bride through the door. Sadly, it stopped short, never to run again, when the old man died.

The NYT has this odd conceit that the average solver went to prep school or an elite college and is reasonably fluent in French therefore. Spanish tends to be limited to words like "buenos" (dias) or ANO (Feliz Nuevo) that are in common phrases. Though without the tilde a "nuevo ano" is what you get when someone rips you a new one, if you get my drift. German? Generally limited to numbers, so the appearance of KOPF was a surprise. However, most people have heard of "dumkopf" which is how I got that word today/

Numinous 12:37 PM  

A reasonably easy Monday Monday, so good to me . . .

Someone stole my underwear
I don't care
I'll go bare

I know that's not a verse from the song but I learned it not long after becoming aware of the tune in or around 1955. It was featured in the movie, Pete Kelly's Blues starring Jack Webb and sung by Peggy Lee.

@Roo Monster, Keeping track of the "Fs" in a puzzle? Try to keep up with the C and CL sounds in this Dragnet spoof with Johnny Carson.

MERCY MERCY ME was the only other song I knew. Two out of four AWN't bad. The other two came from crosses. RED _ED WINE showed up first and I really didn't want to put in an R at first. It just didn't sound right to me but HAREM pants forced the issue.

I was hoping for a spookfest in this puzzle but alas . . . . Last night I watched The Woman In Black with Daniel (Harry Potter) Radcliffe, talk about spooky. But it had a perfect ending. Tonight, @Gill I, I may watch Hush. I'd consider one of the Saw or Hostel movies but I'm not that into gore.

I thought this was a fine Monday puzzle!

Chronic dnfer 12:55 PM  

Dnf'd at own/nocl. Not a good start to the week. Puzzle was much harder than a usual Monday.

Masked and Anonymous 1:00 PM  

@Numinous: M&A has been binge-watchin schlock horror flicks for a coupla days, over on the Turner Classic Movies channel. Last night late they showed a silent Lon Chaney flick called "The Monster", that was absolutely amazin. Did flip over to the Cubbies game now and then, for an extra jolt of tension.

Anyhoo, just sayin … bucket'o schlock flicks, and no commercials to spoil the mood. TCM.

MERCYMERCY -- time already for some REDRED strawberry margaritas on ICEICE and another WILDWILD schlock movie session. And possibly another cinnamon ROLLROLL. (And our giant automated caudrin of boilin hot canola oil is just about ready, for dumpin on tricker treaters, later on.) BYEBYE.

M&Also again.

AliasZ 1:07 PM  

Cute theme, but where were Please Please Me, Bad Bad Leroy Brown, Never Never Gonna Give You Up, Up Up and Away, or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

I knew BYE BYE BLACKBIRD, MERCY MERCY ME and heard of ICE ICE BABY, but not the other two.

Today marks the 499th anniversary of Martin Luther (1483–1546) posting his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, thus starting the Protestant Reformation. Johann Sebastian Bach was the most prominent Lutheran composer, and the Kapellmeister of the Thomaskirche, Leipzig, from 1723 until his death in 1750. To celebrate this momentous occasion, here is his cantata Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch (verily, verily, I say unto you).

Yo-Yo Ma is not the performer.

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

I'm totally with @Rex that both the movie and the album "True Stories", are the best! I found the movie delightfully absurd (though I'm not sure it has aged well) so I went out and bought the album, which is not a soundtrack but just the songs in the movie sung by David Byrne. Papa Legba is just one of the great songs on it (WILD WILD LIFE is one of my least favorites.) Rompiendo la monotonia del tiempo!

Had a rare sub-six minute Monday so those dupe words must have helped a lot in the solution of this. Not much ROT, not BLAH at all, thanks, Mr. Collins.

If you want to go AWN over a Halloween-themed puzzle, you should try out M&A's Runt today - fun stuff!

tea73 2:08 PM  

I'm always surprised by what Rex doesn't know. "Bye bye blackbird" was my parents' music but I heard it frequently and it was catchy enough that it's stuck with me. We had the Tammy Grimes recording. I remember the Talking Heads movie being weird, but interesting. Did not know AWN.

NeilD 3:11 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
NeilD 3:12 PM  

It was fine but I really wish the constructor had used "Wild Wild West" by Will Smith instead of the "Wild Wild Life". Of course, that's a generational thing and it seems like most here would balk at that preference. I only knew the horrendous Vanilla Ice song. In what is I'm sure is another heresy, I recognize "Mercy Mercy Me" as a Kanye line.

puzzle hoarder 3:22 PM  

This as as about as close to knowing every answer in a puzzle instantly as I can reasonably expect to get. I hesitated on 9D because it could have been FRENZIED. This caused me to check the Z out by looking at 31A. Only with the T did I think of FRENETIC. Misreading the 32A clue as "Religion" made me skip that one. 39A was the one themer I was unfamiliar with. I first put in NC for the start of 46A then erased the C and thought of the correct letters. AWN and KOPF were the only other things I couldn't get from the first letter.
My time was 8:07. I reprinted and just read the across clues and filled in the answers. This took 3:53. I read and print slowly. The extra 3 seconds or so per clue difference between these two times is composed mostly of the above mentioned problems and the time I waste going from hand printing to the across and down lists This is especially true when alternating between the two lists. I'm aware it's inefficient but I don't really care. TMI for sure but your time is about the only interesting aspect of a Monday.
Speaking of times @Rex must have been about 8 when that first Talking Heads album came out. Another reminder of what a late date we live in.

Z 3:43 PM  

@relicofthe60s - ICE ICE BABY was released in 1990 and was #1 on the Billboard Singles chart. It was also in the news as a high profile copyright infringement case. The 9-21 year olds who made it a #1 hit are now 35-47 years old, an age group that is roughly 20% of the US population. Add in their parents and kids and you have 40-50% of the US who have directly experienced the chilly ear worm. On the other hand, the "old standard" crowd is down to 13% of the population at best. We may not like it, but Rex was exactly correct in his assessment.

Roo Monster 3:56 PM  

@Nasked&Avenger :-)
I think the G gets an automatic disqualification in the fact alot of -INGs show up. MAYbe?


Roo Monster 4:35 PM  

@Masked... Damn typos....


jae 5:18 PM  

Speaking of typos/brain aneurisms, I just checked my post and realized I meant to say three of the five, not two of the four. I managed to avoid hearing ICE ICE BABY and I know my daughter, who is Rex's age, was intoTalking Heads, but not while I was around. Again, the Documentary Now take on the Talking Heads final concert Stop Making Sense is worth a look.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

Thx @jae for the Talking Heads info. I am a big fan . A solid Monday - had to do some thinking!

Alex B. 8:28 PM  

I remember Bye Bye Blackbird from Liza with a Z, where she sang it to some of the most Bob Fosse choreography ever Fossied.

Leapfinger 8:51 PM  

Unusual that I start a Monday puzzle with problems, but nowadays, I'm more likely to be in CARGO pants than HAREM pants. Also, as @lms ETAL have mentioned, Raleigh and DURHAM make up the Triangle with Chapel Hill, which makes us triplets instead of twins, and explains my wondering if Duluth might be the answer. The saving grace is that I can riff on @AliasZ's London mot, and sit back with the DURHAM DAIRY AIR.

otoh, had no trouble with AWN because of all the Botany courses in my distant BiolSci track, nor with STERE because of hours I stered at the Weights and Measures on the inside covers of my Random House Dictionary (after I'd read my fill of DEFs, of course). Love the word 'avoirdupois'. Have some peas, please

Thought ASIAGO went NICEly with REDREDWINE, and also noticed Citizen KANE on his SLED, but sadly I missed @loren's WILD ABANDON: Oh what ANNAS IAM!!

Like others of my cohort, I only recognized two of the themers. (There may be more, but I'm abysmal with song titles.) There are some fine bluesy versions of BYEBYEB-BIRD, but my favourite MIDDLE EARworm of Marvin's is Nightshift, not by but about him.  Noticed a couple of baby themers still in the budding stage and waiting to grow up: BBS and DDAY. The theme seems a slim concept, but tougher than it looks to find X X Y titles, so kudos to those who did. The only other one I could think of was Cee Cee Rider; apparently Elvis has not yet left the building.

Best surprise were the stellar long Downs: NICE that FRENETIC MEN'S CLUBS ABANDONED their WILD, WILD LIFE.

Now I have to put my BILL CAP AWN, for it's time I was EBBED. Thanks, PACman

PS @Roo, I like 'Nasked'. Kind of a cross between Naked and Masked.

Tita A 10:54 AM  

@Leapy and @JHC...thanks for pointing out KANE on his SLED. Cool!

NM Robin 10:15 AM  

Disliked the puzzle. I got everything from crosses. Guessed at all the song titles. It was easy.

Burma Shave 10:30 AM  


with MENSCLUBS and a HAREM, I’ll LAND a wife.
So BYEBYEBLACKBIRD, I don’t mean MAY be,


spacecraft 12:02 PM  

@JHC: Yes, that corner was the last I filled in (but anyplace could've been last...or first), and I thought it was a smashing finish. "Rosebud..."

Too bad we couldn't squeeze in the Four Seasons' "Bye Bye Baby," but we already have BYEBYE, plus BABY and BABA. Another pair of kissin' cousins, USER and USED, might bring objections. To me it's not that big a deal. Or as an old friend likes to say, "Is this the hill I want to die on?" I love that quote, and it stays with me. What a different world (BETTER!) it would be if people would just ask themselves that simple question. The guy who fusses about tildes would do well to ask it, for example.

The puzzle was certainly Monday easy, no wind gusts messing up the order so far THIS week. I never heard of HAREM pants, but all I have to do is picture "I Dream Of Jeanie" and I get it. Always thought what a shame it was to hide THAT pair of legs. In fact, since I'm thinking about her, let's install Barbara Eden as DOD. Honorable mention might go to Ann-Margaret, star of a musical which not only fits in today's theme, but contains today's grade: "Bye Bye Birdie."

Diana,LIW 12:11 PM  

From Syndieland yesterday - Sunday...

Mr.D 1:02 AM
ok. I give up....Someone "fill me in" (get it ?) on what the heck IDEAS (61 down) has to do with "What germs may turn into". tnx.

You have a "germ" of a thought, that leads to an idea - this germ into idea motif shows up from time to time in puzzles


rondo 12:17 PM  

Talk about EASY. Got the theme while reading the Marvin Gaye clue. Had enough crosses to not even read the clues for the other themers, didn’t take ESP. Knew all the hits and the standard in the MIDDLE.

Glad that a few others saw citizen KANE on top of his SLED.

Did I ever mention that I once OPENED for Johnny Cash? Wouldn’t want you to forget.

For those who didn’t KNOW WONK(S), you’re a WONK when you KNOW it backwards and forwards.

I had the Talking Heads on last week’s CASSETTETAPEs. 89.3 The Current (stream it) plays WILDWILDLIFE and others (Psycho Killer comes to mind) from time to time.

Decent EASY Mon-puz.

rain forest 2:21 PM  

@Spacey - "Is this the hill I want to die on?". Good example. I wonder if the tilde guy gets deranged when a long vowel crosses a short vowel, or when a silent K crosses a hard one. Bit of a wonk. Personally, if I am going to die, and it's quite likely I will, I don't want to die on no hill. Too tiring.

@Z - by osmosis, because of the plethora of times the song has been recorded, performed, and sung by millions over eons, I'd say that the percentage of those exposed to 39A is rather more than 13.

@Lady Di - I think "germ of an idea" is pretty much in the language.

Nice easy Monday puzzle today. Didn't know the sampled song, and if it was done by Vanilla Ice, it's just as well. Knew the others, and they are all memorable, for various reasons. Numerous NICE downs, and a paucity of -ese.

Liked it.

leftcoastTAM 2:30 PM  

FRENETIC-ally fast waltz through the hit parade, not Rex-time but my-time.

KOPF required crosses, and wanted STElE before STERE.

EASY but not BLAH.

Z 2:35 PM  

@rain forest - Never underestimate the ignorance of the American People.

Diana,LIW 2:47 PM  

Was Rex joking about BLACKBIRD? I wrote that in without one cross letter - sheesh!

Good Monday, Monday - can't trust that day.

Had Series before SITCOM, but not for long.

ASIAGO goes well with RED WINE.

Yeah, KANE's SLED brings memories - wonder if Rex ever heard of the movie?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

fakt chekker 3:40 PM  

@Z - well, you know that 50% of the people are of below average intelligence.

rondo 8:32 PM  

I don't want to die on the hill of three letter answers, but
I MAY pull my SLED up it from time to time. Tilde and umlaut hills, not so much.

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