Daughter half sister of Oedipus / SAT 10-22-16 / Four-time NBA scoring champion in 2010s / Maugham's title girl of Lambeth / Rugby rival of Harvard / 1955 R&B hit for Bo Diddley

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Constructor: James Mulhern

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Mulhernity

Word of the Day: ISMENE (4D: Daughter and half sister of Oedipus) —
Ismene (/ɪsˈmn/; Ancient Greek: Ἰσμήνη, Ismēnē) is the name of the daughter and half-sister of Oedipus, daughter and granddaughter of Jocasta, and sister of Antigone, Eteocles, and Polynices. She appears in several plays of Sophocles: at the end of Oedipus the King, in Oedipus at Colonus and in Antigone. She also appears at the end of Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes. (wikipedia)
• • •

I am in Massachusetts, which I taught myself to spell on the way out here by focusing on the name on license plates, which I had occasion to see a lot of, as traffic frequently just stopped. I'm at the home of my friends Lena and Brayden working on a super secret crossword project. Also drinking. A lot. Oh, and it's raining. A lot. A lot a lot. A lot. We walked home in a storm. Streets deluged. Clothing—head to toe—sodden. Ensoddened. I've never walked for any length of time in anything like it. Heavens opened. Amazing. All of my clothing is in the dryer. I'm now wearing pajamas and drinking an aquavit toddy and sitting at L&B's dining room table, after having solved this perfectly decent Saturday puzzle. We had been drinking, a lot, and so it took a while to get some traction in this thing. ETSY, I think, was first, then GEENA. Gimme and gimme. Later, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW was also a gimme. That is too much of a giveaway. Or ... just enough of a giveaway, I don't know. Anyway, anyone who knows anything about Pynchon knows that title. Nice to have a 15-letter gimme. Hope you enjoyed it.

Hamburger U. is real. It's a real thing. It's 100x more real than Trump U. Here is Hamburger University's website. It has a curriculum and scholarships and everything. "Quality is an excellence all communities recognize and respect." Already you have learned a great deal. Now you can go on to major in Onions. Congratulations. I like MICKEY D'S over IN AND OUT, because it's very hamburgery, though technically it's IN 'N' OUT. Close enough. Here's the thing. YOU'RE is not acceptable as a way into DARN TOOTIN'. It's YER, if it's anything. Otherwise, it's grammaticality becomes oddly hilarious. YOU ARE DARN TOOTING! No. It's YER. Actually, there is a Laurel & Hardy movie called "YOU'RE DARN TOOTIN'," so I guess I'm wrong. But I'm not. YER. Not YOU'RE.

What is an ISMENE? I have never seen that name ever, that I recall. Not in a puzzle, not anywhere. I thought I knew the Oedipus legend. I guess not. What else? Nothing really. BOOZE. Lotsa BOOZE. Good night!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:37 AM  

Easy for me because of several gimmes, MICKEY DS, GRAVITY'S..., GEENA, ETSY, DURANT...and because I typically don't start drinking until later in the evening.

ISMENE was the only WOE.

Lots to like about this one, although if you want a tougher Sat. you should try the NYT archives in the mid 1990s (I'm currently wrapping up 1994) or the Saturday Stumper.

Mike in Mountain View 12:40 AM  

Strong Saturday puzzle. I've read GRAVITY'S RAINBOW (excellent if long) but still didn't get the answer here until I had RAINBOW from crosses.

This was almost like a Patrick Berry puzzle, except not quite as cleverly clued: fresh and original without crosswordese, and solvable step by step without feeling easy.

Also, this is my favorite kind of write-up from Rex, filled with personality and dry humor. Oh, wait. Wet humor. But humor, nonetheless. Thanks, Rex.

Mike in Mountain View 12:41 AM  

By the way, bEtte before GEENA.

AskGina 12:42 AM  

My streak of this week ended in the northwest. There was some opening euphoria over Gravity's Rainbow. Then getting nothing, absolutely nothing else in that corner except leans, I headed south then east and north where everything easily fell into place before circling back to the beginning where I crash and burned. McGill, airsea, imaman, maven, ismene, and lan (which I guess I should've known but haven't heard anyone mention for a decade or two), nada. Good thing @rex was hilarious. You're delightful on booze!

Johnny Vagabond 12:47 AM  

Rex, did you solve this or just push reveal? Lots of red in the corners. Looks like my Sunday when I get tired of slogging through a long puzzle and just say "what the hell"

chefwen 2:16 AM  

Rex, you need to drink more when blogging. That was really funny!

Filling in range at 27A and wanting Yer DARN at 12D left me with a big mess. Had to do a lot of back peddling to tidy up that area.

A fun Saturday, liked it.

Charles Flaster 2:37 AM  

Absolutely terrific puzzle.
Six creative clues--EDS, MISS USA, BOOZE, TEST TUBE, NET, and EBB TIDES.
Writeovers--MAVEN for nAkEd and GEENA for bEtte.
Loved the use of proper names from multiple decades:
1930's--CIMARRON and Maugham
1950's--Bo Diddley
Thanks JM

John Child 2:37 AM  

@Mike in Mountain View: "wet" humor. Very well done sir.

Very fast solve starting with knowing Pynchon right out of the blocks, but at the end I couldn't give up NrS for NOS and couldn't see what BOR_E was. DNF ignominiously.

The "wall" diagonally across the grid has 11 blocks. It looked scary but didn't slow me. Down at all. It was a wheelhouse day... thanks for an excellent puzzle, if a bit on the easy side.

Larry Gilstrap 2:45 AM  

Glad to know that OFL is not the only guy around here who enjoys an evening out and then solves. Kinda like swimming up stream, but this Saturday effort faced a strong current. I'm good at these things, but that was a hard puzzle. Can't believe we have MICKEY D's riding above IN AND OUT, which the geo-centric New York rag erroneously misspelled: In-N-Out is the famous burger place. It's a big weekend in my little town, so I had to IMBIBE. Did I mention that this puzzle was hard?

I recommend that music lovers listen to Bo Diddly, at least once, just to learn what is known as the "Bo Diddly Beat." I'm no expert. but it is memorable, maybe iconic.

One nit: MAVEN, ala Malcolm Gladwell, is to me a bit more authoritative than a buff, but maybe I'm wrong.

Seems like the grid spanners are nastier in the down position. Wow, I just used a form of the adjective "nasty." My wife just told me that Janet Jackson is marrying an Arab mucky-muck, a title which is a step down from what?, POTUS.

John Child 2:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Child 2:49 AM  


Zig Zag Man 2:59 AM  

Roooolll another one, just like the other one..."

jae 4:10 AM  

I should have mentioned that I met my bride on the dance floor during Spring Dance weekend at Kenyon College in 1964. Bo Diddley was the band.

Dolgo 5:34 AM  

This was a great puzzle! Lots of challenges, but the slap on the forehead of discovery is always welcome at 2 am. A minor cavil. The violas are not front and center in all orchestras--the Berlin Phil, for example. But, of course, that rare variation doesn't really affect the outcome.

Loren Muse Smith 6:10 AM  

I laughed out loud at the, well, the onanistic 16A. How coincidental. Just learned a new word and boom, there you go. Hi, @Cato Rosenbaum (from yesterday).

Only that _ E _ _ _ was a gimme for the Davis actor. I was thinking Bette first, too, like others.

I agree with @AskGina - really hard, mainly the northwest. I gave up, never seeing AIR SEA. Dumb. Even having changed "toned" to MAVEN 19A and finally pulling CIMARRON out somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain.

Never got the email that BOGART is a verb. I've been showing teachers this clip because this is me when Mr. Minney's wife sends in little individual loaves of banana bread for all the teachers. I sneak downstairs during 3rd period and, well, you can just watch. It's only a few seconds.

Like @chefwen, I went all Monday on the place where antelopes lope. But I guess in retrospect, they play on the "range." Song probably would've been doomed to a B SIDE if it had been, "Home, home on the VELDT…"

I've always liked SEWER RAT. Rats are bad enough, but, man, a sewer rat … that just sends it over the top. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Nice one, James. I liked the footsome STOMP/TROTS/BOOT and SEWER RAT crossing ODOR.

TrudyJ 7:07 AM  

ISMENE is a gimme if you've taught the play Antigone to Grade 12 students every year since ... well, since it was written, it feels like.

Glimmerglass 7:45 AM  

ISMENE was a gimme. Oedipus had only two daughters and Antigone is too many letters. Ismene is a minor character in Sophocles' plays. I'm not sure she has any lines. That was my first entry in the NW, which otherwise was hard for me. Pynchon's title entirely from crosses, and xxxxITYSRAINBOW didn't help me at all. xxxMAN not a familiar BSIDE. MAVEN had an ambiguous clue (I was thinking of tonEd). MAIM eventually got me MCGILL and then CIMARRON. The correct expression at 12D is "Yer durn tootin." I grudgingly put in YOU'RE, but I hung on to DuRN until the very last, which made it hard to see IDEA, which I imagined had to be some thing like "clue," only ending in eu. Great Saturday puzzle. I'd call it "challenging" and when solved, very satisfying.

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

Add mine to the large chorus of voices PLEAding with Rex to BOOZE it up (as I plan to vote) early and often before writing his comments.
Loved the clues for KNEE (which I still didn't understand until well after I finished and almost came on here to ask all of you geniuses but didn't want to embarrass myself) and BOOZE. A fun, fast Saturday romp.

Jamie C 7:48 AM  

Add mine to the large chorus of voices PLEAding with Rex to BOOZE it up (as I plan to vote) early and often before writing his comments.
Loved the clues for KNEE (which I still didn't understand until well after I finished and almost came on here to ask all of you geniuses but didn't want to embarrass myself) and BOOZE. A fun, fast Saturday romp.

Mr. Fitch 7:54 AM  

Solid puzzle. I've recently been watching old Oscar-nominated movies, which made Cimarron a gimme. Horrible, terrible movie, though. Grand Hotel is far better.

chefbea 8:55 AM  

I hope @Rex isn't in Natick...hear yesterday that the Natick Mall was robbed!!!

Oh, the puzzle - usually don't even try Saturday's because they are too tough....as was this DNF

Of course love puns!!!

kitshef 8:58 AM  

Nice Saturday-level puzzle. Took a while but was worth it.

I start by going through the acrosses until I get one. Had to go more than halfway through the puzzle before getting ... BOGARTS. This may be my favorite entry ever.

Like so many others, I found the stiffest resistance in the NW, where MAulS before MAIMS 'confirmed' by loVER before MAVEN were really hard to give up, and MCGILL and ISMENE were woes but the cross was logical.

Alcohol mini-theme with BOOZE, IMBIBE, DALY.

evil doug 9:00 AM  

I know I don't belong here since I'm apparently the only one who's not only never read, but never even heard of, Gravity's Rainbow. Ask me about Travis McGee or Nero Wolfe or Quiller or Reacher, and I'm there. You don't know how tough this played without that Pynchon gimme for you edjoocated types....

Ted 9:07 AM  

Drunk Rex is happy Rex. :)

Good Saturday, just challenging enough for the most part, with a few bits I could get an edge on and start. BOGARTS and BALSA were the first ones I was pretty confident about, and worked the crosses from there to sort the wheat from the chaff.

GILL I. 9:30 AM  

Oof. Lots I didn't know and what I did I was scared to pen in. I hesitated at MC GILL (Hi @Leapy), never read Thomas Pynchon (nor have I heard of him), don't know anything about Bo Diddley, ISMENE wasn't Antigone, so RATs... That @Ask Gina section remained empty.
@chefwen @Loren ...me two on the range. @Loren, now you have me singing VELDT VELDT on the range.....
I was pretty SURE SURE about MICKEYDS so that helped me in the NW.
So Humphrey doesn't like sharing his weed?
Anyway, this played typical hard Saturday but I got about 90% of it done without Google. Yay me.

Mr. Benson 9:32 AM  

How is GEENA such a gimme when OSSIE and BETTE also fit?

Teedmn 9:37 AM  

"I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree". Having tried to memorize this poem while on a bicycle trip in southern WI (the Sparta-Elroy trail; the poem is carved on a stele under a very nice tree in one of the little towns along the way) gave me my first "in" on this puzzle at 47A. But the E of POEMS still did not settle the bEtte vs. GEENA controversy so I kept moving clockwise.

SAIL and ROOM went in and I saw the long 3D, read the clue and said, "Thank you, James Mulhern". I tried reading GRAVITY'S RAINBOW in the 80s. I got to about page 800 and gave up. Too stream-of-consciousness for me. Maybe I could read it now, but why?

My easterly side of this puzzle is sooted up with a "coat" of black ink. That coat started as ENamel, off of ETSY. I couldn't GUESS what GU at 44A was trying to tell me. I finally put in my GUESSes of STOMP and SPED and that filled the SE. But 28D's "indY", then "artY" (which worked with "range" all too well) held up that middle for quite some time. The DARN TOOTIN "D" finally gave me 27A and all's VELDT that ends VELDT.

Nice Saturday, thanks, JM.

mathgent 9:41 AM  

Not much to like here for me. The only pleasing entry was VELDT which was offset by the clunky YOUREDARNTOOTIN. Only four clues were mildly amusing led by "Vessel opener." And there were ten clues which were faulty for a variety of reasons.

The ten were MICKEYDS (it should have specified slang), "Ri-I-ight," "Took care of," for RAN, "What there often is for improvement" (obvious but woefully clumsy like it had been translated from another language), "Court position" for PLEA (not accurate), "One who goes on to try to conquer the Universe (trying too hard), etc.

It wasn't easy. Eight entries I didn't know plus having to fight the inexact cluing. But little fun to justify the labor. Can't do better than a C plus.

QuasiMojo 9:52 AM  

I know "literature" is an umbrella term and that a literature professor may focus exlusively on one field or genre. I was a "Literature major" in college. Not an English major. Nor Comp Lit. Just Literature. And I can tell you that if you did not know your Ismenes and Antigones and Jocastas you flunked, even if you became an expert in femme fatale-filled hardboiled American noir or analyzed the metaphors in the lost works of Chrétien de Troyes. Ismene, btw, also appears in Anouilh's play "Antigone," a staple of modern theatre. She does not appear, however, in "Gravity's Rainbow," a scatalogical and scurrilous tour-de-force which makes Onan's misdeeds pale by comparison. (HT @Loren Muse Smith.) Pynchon's novel was the first thing I entered and it "sped" me through the rest of this puzzle at a breakneck clip. Loved the clue for "Miss USA" -- I laughed so hard, it almost gave me a "Mulhernia."

Nancy 10:00 AM  

So happy to see you, @mathgent (9:41)! Everyone else here seems to like or love this. And everyone else here, including you, @mathgent, seems to have solved it. But I didn't. Too many names were out of my wheelhouse: MICKEY DS (whaaaa?); DURANT (which I would have guessed, only I didn't like the DT combo at 27A leading to VELDT (which I never thought of). Never heard the slang term BOGARTS at 34A (was Bogie known as being selfish? I don't get it.) Never thought of IDEA at 31A (I had AURA and would have had ODOR, if it weren't already written in at 48D.) The mistakes above kept me from seeing EDGY at 28D, which I wanted all along, since AURA gave me PARA, not PLEA (which I had also wanted earlier) at 24D. I had ITY'S RAINBO and pulled GRAVITY'S RAINBOW out of my always-foggy memory. (Never read it, though.) Figured out the unknown MCGILL from the CG combo. And I knew CIMARRON. But I didn't know the Bo Diddley hit, nor the computer system. For me, this was a losing struggle. I didn't hate it, since I always like a challenge, but I was frustrated throughout.

AskGina 10:03 AM  

@Doug, you had to be there 'when' for Gravity's Rainbow and it doesn't mean you were willing or able to slog through it. Like @teed, I dnf, HA, barely started. Over the years half the man I knew tried to get me to read that, Dune or Enders Game. No. Although grok has stuck w me. Or was that some other book I didn't read?

Mohair Sam 10:11 AM  

Played wickedly tough for us. Didn't read, and totally forgot everyone's gimme at GRAVITYSRAINBOW, and ISMENE is not Antigone so the NW gave us fits. But Lady M finally yelled MAVEN, then i guessed LAN, therefore MAIM and MCGILL and the book was remembered and we filled.

Awesome cluing throughout IMO. Loved BOOZE clue, misdirect on VELDT (yup, we "ranged" at first too), nifty clue for TOLL. How 'bout BOGARTS?!? And MISSUSA? Great stuff. Did a bunch of franchise financing so MICKEYDS a gimme.

How can you guys just throw in GEENA when BETTE and OSSIE are out there and crossworthy as all hell?

Note to self: If you ever get a puzzle published in the Times take @Rex drinking the night before.

Nancy 10:12 AM  

@kitshef (8:58) -- Just read your post and see that you solved this (for me) bear of a puzzle. Who's the "elite solver" today, @kitshef? Anyone who's paying attention knows that it's you!

AskGina 10:22 AM  

Half the MEN I knew! : D

Carola 10:28 AM  

Medium for me as well. I started with a nice chain in the NE: STENT-->PENT-->VELDT-->VIp-something for the front-and-center group, so that river ran into the dust. Then I spotted the Pynchon clue, and that opened the grid up for me.

I liked the two universities sharing the top row.
Hats off to those who have finished GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, which has failed to yield to my multiple attempts to get into it.
In college I went to a Halloween costume party as ISMENE, along with my dorm-mate as her sister ANTIGONE (we were reading the Anouihl play in French class; also, easy costumes: bed sheets).
I ordered my Nasty Woman t-shirt from an ETSY seller and am eagerly awaiting the shipping notification.

JC66 10:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 10:37 AM  

Iconic picture of Humphrey BOGART shows him with a cigarette dangling from his lips.

Fade out to a group of people sharing a joint; one unthinkingly keeps it in his mouth while relating some boring story and the anxious person who's next in line says "Don't BOGART that joint."

NCA President 10:45 AM  

This is one of those puzzles that newbies find intimidating and people who do them a lot shrug "it's just not in my wheelhouse." The NW was bad for me. I'll take everyone's word for it that somehow GRAVITYSRAINBOW is common knowledge...it's just not in my wheelhouse. Nor is ISEMENE nor is MCGILL nor is CIMARRON nor is IMAMAN. For the non-titled entries, AIRSEA, MAIM, and MAVEN...those were really obtusely clued. So, doing the math, that whole corner was a DNF for me. Google to the rescue. I only guessed on ERTE because art and 4-letter name must be ERTE.

I don't know what about "Hamburger U" would necessarily imply that McDonalds would be used by it's familiar name. I think Hamburger U is what everyone calls it all the time.


Wasn't SEWERRAT a famous French pointillist painter?

So, yeah...not in my wheelhouse. I don't even know what a wheelhouse is, but as wheelhouses go, this was different than mine.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Loooved the comment about "yer" and totally agree!

Alysia 10:49 AM  

Before I took up crosswords, I played the iPhone equivalent of Scrabble.

During a game, I once threw down VELDT, quite proud for digging that one out of the 5th grade Social Studies cobwebs. My opponent accused me cheating and quit the game.

I couldn't help but smile, and to this day, the word still causes the same reaction. VELDT makes everything a little bit better.

Z 10:50 AM  

" (I)t's grammaticality becomes oddly hilarious," is worth the price of admission.

@Evil Doug - Haven't even heard of it? GRAVITY'S RAINBOW is one of those books, you know, the ones everyone has read even though hardly anyone has actually read it. Here is a perfect quote from the Wiki article, "The novel's title declares its ambition and sets into resonance the oscillation between doom and freedom expressed throughout the book." Oh. My. Fucking. God. Vonnegut does it better and in fewer pages.

@John Child - Yep. I may or may not have sung that ditty a few times. Just as I may or may not have said, "Inhale? Hell, I held it."

@Jamie C - I was swimming and running and thinking of the puppy drinking before my d'oh moment.

@QuasiMojo - It sounds a little like your profs were more focused on trivia rather than literature. Here's the question I'd ask on my final: Would you rather be Antigone or ISMENE? Why?

That NW is a PPP Cluster. Noted rugby school MCGILL, B-side IMA MAN, ese artist ERTÉ, 1931 western CIMARRON, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, ISMENE, LAN. That's 30 of 37 squares that are Pop Culture, Product names, or Proper nouns in at least one direction. I'm sure I'm not alone in struggling in that corner.

Hartley70 10:54 AM  

This was DARN tough, especially if GRAVITYSRAINBOW wasn't a gimme. Don't worry @evildoug. You're not alone. I was eight minutes above my average Saturday.

I wanted plain, not range (@LMS and Gill I), instead of VELDT which was my last entry. A Facebook friend mentioned this week that she was butchering an antelope in her garage and I wondered yet again if Colorado and Connecticut were really on the same planet. I tried rootinTOOTIN for a while but I like DARN better.

My way in was BALSA when memories of the Pinewood Derby arose. That gave me the SW to start.

I thought BOGARTS was pretty EDGY. @Nancy, here's a hint...joints are involved and for the first time I'm not talking KNEEs!

Rex's comments were over the top today. I'm delighted to hear he finally has "M-a-s-s-a-c-h-u-s-e-t-t-s" down. And presumably there was no BOOZE involved at that point. We sure could have used some of that H2O downpour here. Wells are running dry all around the town. Been there in the 80's and it's not fun.

Lowell George 11:00 AM  

@Rex, don't BOGART the BOOZE, man, pass the SEIDEL.

Z 11:03 AM  

@AskGina - Great typo. Also, Stranger in a Strange Land is the source of "grok." Of all the books half the man has tried to get you to read probably the least testosterone poisoned, although that's purely because the others are practically dripping in the stuff.

Grumpy Joe 11:06 AM  

Really enjoyed seeing MICKEYDS right on top of INANDOUT. Two places a person might crave after he or she BOGARTS a joint a la Harold and Kumar (who wound up at White Castle instead). There is, of course, no comparison between the two--if only In-N-Out Burger would open on the East Coast!

Nancy 11:12 AM  

The most hilarious comment I've read so far today is @Teedmn's (9:37 a.m.) on GRAVITY'S RAINBOW: "I got to about page 800 and gave up." Because I've never read the novel, but because I know it has the ODOR of a Very Difficult Literary Work, I went online and looked up two excerpts. Oh boy, Very Difficult is an understatement. When I worked as an Editor at the Literary Guild, we had a term for being tormented by such books. We said at editorial meetings: "I read at it." Everyone knew what that meant. When I read at the two excerpts just now, I was GOBSMACKED by the gorgeous words and phrases swirling around one another. Nothing ordinary or pedestrian here. A real wordsmith. There was only one tiny problem: I didn't have a clue what Pynchon was talking about. And to me, the first obligation of a writer is to communicate. I'm damned if I'm going to do the work for him. So, @Teedmn, if you got to page 800 of this book, I think you deserve a gold medal.

AskGina 11:17 AM  

@Z, So THAT's what was going on!

QuasiMojo 11:23 AM  

@Nancy, it helps if you drop acid first before reading "Gravity's Rainbow." @Z, I think you misunderstood my comment. Perhaps in my attempt at being catty, I became obtuse. But my point was that Sophocles and the play "Antigone" are fundamental to any understanding of literature. I would hardly call it "trivia."

jberg 11:29 AM  

@Evil Doug -- GRAVITY'S RAINBOW is about the V2 rocket (the 'rainbow' is the arc of the rocket's orbit)-- right up your alley in some ways, though probably not in others. Most people read it for the sex scenes., I think.

@Loren, that's what I was trying to think of, "tonEd!" I'd have put it in if I'd thought of it, except the Pynchon clue saved me.

I'm totally with @Rex for wanting "yer." But I did think the "U." in the clue was sufficient to suggest an informal name; it worked for me, eventually, after I gave up on fitting in "Lower Saxony."

@Rex, that was some rain all right. My wife and I had gone to see Boston Baroque perform Bach's B minor mass (for which the VIOLAS were sitting way over on the right, by the way). I turned on my phone on the way out and it started vibrating with a flash flood warning. I later learned that two workers had been killed by the collapse of a sewer they were repairing.

I AND OUT / RINSE OUT. Is that becoming OK?

Teedmn 11:43 AM  

@Z, was "Stranger in a Strange Land" written before Heinlein started describing his female characters as "pneumatic"? "The Puppet Masters" novella is the only Heinlein I could really stand.

@Nancy, at page 800, I still didn't know what was going on except I think they were trying to figure out how to predict where those "doodlebug" V1 bombs were going to land, one of many interlaced plotlines which I couldn't keep track of. Much of my memory about the book is lost in the mists of time (or never "grokked" in the first place!).

another bad hair day 12:03 PM  

I remember learning the word VELDT reading a Ray Bradbury short story entitled the same. He is one of my all time favorite authors. Thanks for the memories. Will have to pull out my old paperbacks and revisit The VELDT again...

Lewis 12:17 PM  

@nca -- SEWERRAT comment made me laugh aloud.
@rex -- You have blogged several times now after some serious imbibing, and every time has been a most enjoyable gem. Space out the sotty blogs, please -- I care about you -- but do keep them coming. They are happy surprises.

Solid enjoyable puzzle, with my favorite answers being BOGARTS, SEWERRAT, and INANDOUT, and my favorite clues being the ones for NET and KNEE. I liked the cluing overall very much except for the one for MISS USA, which felt like James tried a little too hard. GRAVITY'S RAINBOW got me in, and through luscious fits and aha-filled starts I TROTted through his. Most enjoyable!

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Many years ago I tried to read GRAVITYSRAINBOW. After a hundred pages I hadn't a clue what Pynchon was talking about. Turns out neither did the iconic reviewer Clifton Fadiman (can't find the quote). I thought heck if Fadiman thinks Pynchon is inscrutable who am I to disagree and never read another page.

And speaking of EDGY, just saw The Book of Mormon a truly disrespectful even sacriligeous POS. Substitute Book of ISLAM and maybe I would have joined in on the raucous skewering of someone else's religion. And what's not like when you have these FUN FUN lyrics:

(from Hasa Diga Eebowai!)

Fuck you God in the ass, mouth,
And cunt-a
Fuck you God in the ass, mouth,
And cunt-a
Fuck you God in the ass, mouth
And cunt-a
Fuck you in the eye!

Mohair Sam 12:55 PM  

@Z - My head still spinning from the Wiki quote on "RAINBOW", but I do love your reaction. BTW, "Stranger in a Strange Land" was recommended to me by the distaff side - great read, and kinda touchy-feely for sci-fi I thought.

@Nancy - 11:12 - ". . . the first obligation of a writer is to communicate. I'm damned if I'm going to do his work for him." I've been trying to say exactly that for years. Thank you.

puzzle hoarder 1:01 PM  

I hate to admit that I had a dnf on a relatively easy Saturday. By confusing the spelling of VELDT with that of svelte I went with SVELDE. Done in by my atrocious spelling again. The mistake was compounded by DURANE just not looking like a real name. Knowing who Will and Ariel are should have made that T pop up. That tells you right where I'm at. A couple of obscure writers I know, some kid who was a top NBA scorer, never heard of him.
Worse than the dnf was thinking 7D was a single obscure word. After I finished I even looked for it in my Webster's. When it wasn't there I thought this must be really obscure! When I saw it horizontally in the xwordinfo.com solution list the lightbulb went off. Hey if you're going to go stupid go big.
One more thing personality changes in association with alcohol is a major red flag.

Z 1:07 PM  

@QuasiMojo - I see. There are still those who teach details and miss the point, so that's what I thought you were saying. As for "fundamental to any understanding of literature" - we have to part ways there. I'm much more of the opinion that men and women haven't changed overly much in the millennia separating Sophocles and us, so you can get much the same understandings reading crime fiction, science fiction, watching Opera or Shakespeare, even Gothic novels, though probably not Pynchon. However, having a good grasp of Sophocles will enrich your experience as you watch Antigone and ISMENE ON STAGE at, say, a debate.

@Teedmn - The Puppet Masters, is from 1951 and certainly echoes that era. Stranger in a Strange Land is from 1961, but would definitely fit the flower-child era. Heinlein is a bit of a puzzle. Ex-Navy and it shows, concerned with nuclear war, government, and societal structure. You read some of his stuff and go "huh?" and other of his stuff and go "Yes!" This can be true wherever you are politically or socially. As for feminism, looking at him from 2016 he seems an avowed sexist. Looking at him from 1939 - 1980, though, and he seems more a progressive male who had the still radical at the time notion that males and females were equals. Unlike many authors who want to give you their answer, Heinlein seemed more intent in raising questions. Still, not to everyone's taste.

1820 Stone Colonial House 1:09 PM  
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ani 1:33 PM  

Expression from the 60s: don't bogart my joint (think of Bogie and that cigarette never leaving his lips).

Numinous 1:36 PM  

IN AND OUT made me homesick for California. When I was there they were all drive throughs except for in Valencia near Magic Mountain.

At this point I'm glad i've never heard of GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. I don't believe I have the patience for that sort of thing any more. I had to google for ISMENE, the last contact I had with Oedipus was in tenth grade. That class put me off ancient Greek drama forever. I had a bit of modern Greek drama in film school. Her name was Maria.

There is an old Muddy Waters tune: The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock And Roll. Bo Diddley was most assuredly one of the parents along with the likes of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Bill Haley. IM A MAN came easily, I remember it being on the juke boxes around where I lived in those days.

I struggled with this, it took me twelve minutes over my average. Persistance paid off though and gradually everything came through except for the step-sister. I wanted LEAN bud couldn't make it work beside LAN untill I remembered MC @GILL I. SE was the first to fall. NW was the hardest and last. DNF over DALe and EDGe. I have also never heard of Long John DALY. I seem to have missed so much so much in my life.

Joe Bleaux 1:55 PM  

@Z -- Re PPPs, I usually damn 'em, too, but without Hitch and Gilmer in the SW, I'd have had a hard time getting a toe-hold. The build-out down there led to the end of the Rainbow, as it were, culminating in this relative novice's finishing a tough puzzle. PPPs -- except when they unlock it for me, grrr-r-r, how I hate 'em😏.

Dean 2:02 PM  

Worst DNF I ever had. I knew what Hamburger U. was, but when MCDONALDS didn't fit I was stumped. (Nice juxtaposition of MICKEYDS and INANDOUT... or am I the only one who noticed?) Lost two 'cause I didn't know Diddley. And reading the comments, I see it's official: I am the only person in the history of creation who has heard of Pynchon but not GRAVITYSRAINBOW.

Airymom 2:04 PM  

Loved. loved, loved "bogart". Brings back wonderful memories of "Little Feat" concerts from about 30 and 25 years ago. For those unfamiliar with the word, here's "Little Feat" performing "Don't Bogart that Joint, My Friend"...at about the 5 minute mark on this video.


Anoa Bob 2:04 PM  

So, here's my read on BOGARTS (yes, I did note the POC) as "Uses without sharing, in slang". Originally, it didn't relate directly to sharing or not sharing, and it wasn't about marijuana joints. It had to do with the way BOGART typically smoked a tobacco cigarette.

A little background: In BOGART'S time, cigarettes were relatively expensive, and two or more people sharing a single cigarette was common. And cigarettes then were unfiltered and in order to keep the paper and tobacco at the end dry, so that it could be shared with others, one needed to take a puff by putting it up only to the outer, dry part of the lips.

BOGART, however, (who seemed to always be smoking in his movie scenes) would typically insert it further between his lips, where the moisture would get the cigarette wet, making it unfit for passing on to others.

So originally, to BOGART a cigarette meant to get the end wet from saliva, which was a social no-no from the point of view of others who might want a puff. In the 60s, this taboo of getting the end wet was extended to marijuana cigarettes, which were also often shared, and the exhortation "Don't BOGART that joint my friend" meant don't get it wet so the rest of us can get a hit also, which then transformed into "Don't keep that joint to yourself, man, pass it on".

At least that's my understanding of the etymology of the phrase. I would ask my evil twin Anoa Blob for further clarification, but last I heard, he's off somewhere in the Amazon jungle living with the locals, the Yanomami I believe, and snorting ground-up tree bark for its hallucinogenic effects. I don't know if you can BOGART that stuff or not.

Nancy 2:05 PM  

Thanks to everyone who explained BOGART as a verb. Maybe I didn't know it because BOOZE, not joints, is my thing. But all I can say after seeing the explanation: I wish that Bogie hadn't wasted all that lip-time on a cigarette. Instead, I wish that Bogie had BOGARTed me. (No, never mind, I didn't just say that. I didn't even think it. I swear.)

Z 2:25 PM  

@Joe Bleaux - Hitch and Kilmer? Damn auto-correct. Anyway, point taken. It is never PPP that's the issue, it's excessive PPP. Looking at the SW, we have PUN and POEMS clued by Hitchcock and Kilmer, We have GEENA Davis and the end of GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. We have K'ung Fu TSE. That's it. If we conservatively define the SW as SAIL - GUE and everything below, that is 19 of 39 squares. Still really high, but much better than the 30/39ths NW.

@Anoa Bob and @Nancy - TMI or just enough? I think just enough.

Fred Romagnolo 2:26 PM  

@puzzle hoarder: The Durant's obscure? Probably the best known historians of the last half of then 20th century! Be proud you thought of them instead of a basketball player. Rex is right on "yer," but shocking on Ismene. That 2nd "e" will always frustrate the Davis fans, and effectively exclude Ossie.I never read Pynchon, but this blog shows me that I don't have to bother.

evil doug 2:46 PM  

I'm kind of glad I didn't get Rainbow. It forced me to employ a more tactic-driven strategy of true criss-crosswording in West Germany to grind that half out. Same deal in the communist East, since my "You..." could have gone a few different ways in that long vertical. Rewarding workout. And thanks, kids; now I'm glad I didn't read the damn book....

Randy Miller 3:56 PM  
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mark shuper 4:16 PM  

Gravity's Rainbow is better experienced than read, and 1000 micrograms and a 14-hour devotional should just about do it. Saure Bummer discussing Rossini in the ruins of Berlin, and who can ever forget Raketemensch pursed by Major Marvy in the tunnels of Nordhausen? Let's sing one of the Rocket limericks they never taught you (Ja ja in Prussia they never eat pussy/ There just aren't cats enough). Now everybody...

mark shuper 4:16 PM  

Gravity's Rainbow is better experienced than read, and 1000 micrograms and a 14-hour devotional should just about do it. Saure Bummer discussing Rossini in the ruins of Berlin, and who can ever forget Raketemensch pursed by Major Marvy in the tunnels of Nordhausen? Let's sing one of the Rocket limericks they never taught you (Ja ja in Prussia they never eat pussy/ There just aren't cats enough). Now everybody...

OISK 4:20 PM  

Totally defeated. First time in over a year I really didn't finish - I didn't even guess in the NW. I don't speak computerese, (LAN) although I guess I have seen that. Gravity's rainbow, - I think I heard of it 40 years ago, but now??? Cimmeron? Never saw it. Ismene?? I'm a man????

Glad to read that I wasn't the only one to be slaughtered today.

kitshef 5:17 PM  

Re: Pynchon. We had to read The Crying of Lot 49 for book club, which is maybe 120(?) pages. Incomprehensible, dense, immensely unpleasant reading. I can't imagine trying to slog through 800+ pages of that. Universally acknowledged as the worst book we ever read in book club (except by the person who suggested it).

Re: Davis. My first thought was Essie, where everyone else thought Bette or Ossie.

Michael 5:23 PM  

I thought this was easy for a Saturday until I got stuck in the northwest. I was able to drege up Cimarron from my memory but just stared at ----itysrainbow. Googled it and was irked because I knew the book (though never tried to read it.) Also had to google Ismene, who I had never heard of it.

What was really irritating, though, was running through all sorts of universities and not coming up with McGill until after the googling of the Pynchon book and Oedipus relative.

Anonymous 6:09 PM  

I did get a chuckle out of "In and Out" below the Hamburger U answer, even though, as Rex points out, the delish burgers are spelled differently...

Norm 6:44 PM  

That Harvard rugby clue was very sneaky. You have to know that college rugby is generally not an NCAA sport and is not restricted by those leagues. I remember Dartmouth playing Army and a number of other non-Ivy schools when daughter was on the team. Still took me a long time to come up with MCGILL [not one of the teams Dartmouth ever played as far as I know] and ISMENE was just plain mean. I had more trouble in the NE than the NW, however, until I gave up on RANGE for the antelopes' playground and rebooted. Nice puzzle.

pmdm 7:24 PM  

As mentioned elsewhere, this puzzle is a tribute to the constructor's deceased dog Mickey. Tough for me, but enjoyable enough.

I read Gravity's Rainbow on recommendation of a friend. If any of you have not read Gravity's Rainbow yet, I offer this advice. The novel is in four parts if I remember correctly. Read the two middle parts first. The prose in those two parts is quite lucid, and you should have little trouble in understanding the narrative. Just as Pynchon himself is enigmatic, the prose in the other two parts is enigmatic and dense. Pynchon ofter writes in a stream-of-consciousness style that is tough to understand. Like some of the late week crossword clues.

Numinous 7:43 PM  

@Norm, I agree, ISMENE IS MEan.

@pmdm, I don't believe I care what Pinchon has to say. I don't like James Joyce much either. Kerouak is as "stream of consciousness" as I care to get.

Hungry Mother 8:53 PM  

Surprised that I got through it after 2 hours 20 minutes off and on all day. Lots of interesting answers. As I've said before, my most effective solving skill is patience.

George Barany 5:02 AM  

Sorry to be so late to the party. I started to solve this puzzle on Friday night, and was very pleased to plop in 13-Down right off the bat {and yes, I've not only heard of the historians, but even read several of their wonderful books).

With a hat-tip to @Christopher Adams, find out why by solving Moving Forward (7x19 puzzle), which is particularly relevant given that the NBA season is about to tip-off.

My daughter-in-law recently earned her M.D. from McGill University, a venerable institution that could surely have been clued in more accessible ways than via a rugby rivalry. Also, I SURE_SURE would have liked to see PEPTIDES in lieu of the actual answer to 51-Across.

Kate 12:31 PM  

It's always funny whats a gimme or what's not depending on the player. For me Ismene was a given not as much for Oedipus as for her sister Antigone. As an acting student there was always someone working on a scene between the two sisters.

Burma Shave 12:16 PM  


SURESURE there’s ROOM for doubt,
but MISSUSA never RAN


spacecraft 12:52 PM  

Medium-challenging for me because of (DRUMSET roll) the NW. Again. Most surprising: I actually ATTENDED MCGILL--for a short time. Wonderful, cosmopolitan city, is Montreal. Some indelible memories there...but I had no idea they even HAD a rugby team, let alone playing rival to Harvard. Nor did I know any of the other stuff up there. Even AIRSEA, which should have been a gimme, was slow in coming. I did want MAIM right away for 1-down, but couldn't for the life of me figure out what those M's went with. Buff = MAVEN? Not exactly. A buff is an aficionado, one who is likely to have in-depth knowledge, I suppose, but a MAVEN is an expert, an authority, one who surely MUST have that knowledge. LAN's another techie term; I'm lost there. ISMENE's a WOE as it was to so many.

Could the movie be CIMARRON? Didn't think that one won an Oscar, but the fit began to make sense. There's that old crutch ERTE again; we should give that guy a vacation. A long one. After filling it in, I still wasn't sure I was right, so opening this page brought a "Yes!"

The first time I saw GEENA she shot an arrow right through my heart. She reigns supreme as today's DOD, towering above the competition.

I agree on "YER." And "DERN" instead of DARN. Another wrong clue is for BOGARTS. "Uses without sharing"? No.o.o, it's "Throws away that joint," as Bogey flipped his cigarette butt. He woulda shared. If he felt like it.

A fun puzz to tackle, suitably hard for a Saturday, and relatively clean. Plus, it has GEENA. Who loves ya, baby? Eagle.

rondo 1:08 PM  

Two reasons I got the NW to fall. The Bo Diddly gimme and the school I know/remember only because it shares a name with yeah baby LPGA golfer Jill MCGILL. Otherwise 3d and 4d could’ve started with any letters and I was going in another direction with the “buff” clue, like tonEd. BSIDE the inkfest there, the rest of the puz filled cleanly.

@evil doug and @Z – I never read nor heard of that book. Sounds like it may not have been for me. I think that at that particular time I made sure nobody BOGARTS my joint, my friends. That was also about the same time frame in which I read my last bit of Heinlein, for a college class. I’m not exactly a MAVEN.

Apparently the ENIGMA that is Don Trump will always have an interest in the MISSUSA pageant whether he runs it or not.

Ever notice yeah baby GEENA Davis’ batting stance and swing in A League of Their Own? That’s an athlete there, folks. And her attempt to be an Olympic archer was a CLOSEONE.

LIZA couldn’t have been clued Minelli? GUESSNOT on Saturday.

The next time I see ETSY will be too soon. Unless I BOOTUP and check the ‘NET for it. Probably a bad IDEA.

Nice puz except the NW took a TOLL on my pen. Time to IMBIBE some BOOZE, once that bottle is OPENED.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

An irritating puzzle that left a bad taste. Multiple pissers right away. Rejected.

leftcoastTAM 2:19 PM  

More than tough (for me) today. First, had trouble getting a foothold. Then bogging down after starting up.

At the top, wanted Cornell, but didn't fit. Had to be Ivy League, I thought, but none worked. MCGILL? Who knew?, not I. And ISMENE? Hopeless.

Then MICKEY D's? Had most of the letters from crosses, but YOUREDARNTOOTIN was hard to see, though I still do speak some Minnesotan as an ex-Gopher stater.

VELDT? Shoulda, coulda, known, with friends now in South Africa on a safari, though they haven't used the term yet in our email exchanges. Guess I'll blame them for the lapse.

Have to blame myself for not getting BOGARTS, which I've seen here before, and ETSY, a more recent crossword entry.

Consolation prize: Got GRAVITYSRAINBOW after cheat to get MCGILL. Some consolation.

leftcoastTAM 2:38 PM  

Rex, I toast>drink>IMBIBE to your review. Fresh and funny, even at five weeks later.

rain forest 3:00 PM  

I do these things in the late morning, so coffee is my bevvie of choice. After seeing so many references to @Rex BOOZing it up though, I relaxed my embargo on reading his post, and it was great. Funny, flippant, and generous - the way he should always be.

Those are not adjectives that apply to GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, however. A beast of a book. I started to read it, and there are passages that are transcendent, but I didn't finish it. Maybe one day. I did read Inherent Vice, however, and it is quite brilliant, in a stoner, don't BOGART that joint sort of way. All this to say that 3D was a gimme.

The rest of the puzzle was delightful; one of those that gradually come together, even if some of the proper names elude you. Agree with @Spacey about GEENA Davis (waited a bit to see if Bette was going to work).

For 12D, I checked to see if Yer would work, and so settled for YOU'RE, but nothing to get my knickers in a knot about. The puzzle had a good range, er, VELDT of subject matter with some fine clues. Liked it a lot.

Diana,LIW 4:29 PM  

Interesting literary discussion today. GRAVITY'SRAINBOW sounds like the educational philosophy books I plowed through. I used to call it "like swimming in glue," you got through it, slooooowly.


Won't be COY - had a dnf. The usual suspects. (A BOGART quote.) But was pleased that I got most of it without help. Half way though my first go through with no answers - thought it would be a record.

Favorite misdirect - aid in studying a culture - TESTTUBE. And I'm looking for the goll DARN TOOTINg Rosetta Stone.

And yes, the final word, it is YER.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

I can see how some might find this easy, but the NW was heavy on proper names and titles that weren't in my wheelhouse. I haven't read Pynchon, though when I looked up GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, the cover was familiar, with its 1970's shadow font over a sun in an orange sky. CIMARRON was another title that I didn't get without almost all of the crosses, likewise I'M A MAN. Didn't think to go to Canada for Harvard rival MCGILL, couldn't come up with MAIM with no crosses (I was trying to come up with a short word for amputate). The best I could do for buff was tonEd, which made me change LEANS to tEndS. Finally gave up and looked up Oedipus' sis-daughter ISMENE, then things fell into place.

I also cheated on the NE. DURANd wasn't working... it turns out that there is a Kevin Durand, an actor from Thunder Bay (If you go there, look up Paul Shaffer Drive by the Community Auditorium). When I googled to find it was DURANT, I had a momentary conundrum with the DT ending, before I thought of VELDT, and things fell into place, ending with BOGARTS.

For me, this was the hardest puzzle in months. David St. Hubbins was right, "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever".

Steely Dan 5:24 AM  

Pynchon is more relevant than ever now that we have a President Elect with bizarre, conspiratorial, bat-shit beliefs!

Steely Dan first appeared in Gravity's Rainbow — as a dildo not a band.

I wanted "Yer darn tootin'" instead of "YOU'RE..."

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