Ethan Frome's wife / TUE 11-1-16 / Skins opponent in pickup game / David comic with famous Richard Nixon impression / Lead-in to land for Willy Wonka's workers / Downton Abbey headgear / Source of indigo

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Constructor: Ruth Bloomfield Margolin

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for T)



THEME: country's [things that rhymes with country] — just look for yourself:

Theme answers:
  • TOGO'S LOGOS (15A: Commercial symbols in Lomé?)
  • YEMEN'S LEMONS (19A: Basis of a refreshing Mideast beverage?)
  • FRANCE'S DANCES (36A: Gavotte, minuet and cancan?)
  • CHINA'S MYNAH'S (52A: Far Eastern mimics?)
  • CUBA'S TUBAS (60A: Providers of low notes for rumbas?)
Word of the Day: David FRYE (36D: David ___, comic with a famous Richard Nixon impression) —
David Frye (November 21, 1933 – January 24, 2011) was an American comedian, specializing in comic imitations of famous political figures, most of whom were based on notable Americans, including former U.S. Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, Vice Presidents Spiro Agnew and Nelson Rockefeller, Senators Hubert Humphrey and Bobby Kennedy, as well as film celebrities, e.g., George C. Scott, Henry Fonda, Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Jack Nicholson and Jack Palance, and media figures, e.g., William F. Buckley Jr. and Larry King. (wikipedia)

• • •

So many OYS. This theme is not one. Further, if you're going to do this ultra-simple theme, at least make the answers really funny and / or outlandish. FIJI'S SQUEEGEES! LIBYA'S TIBIAS! NORWAY'S DOORWAYS (15)! CHAD'S PLAIDS! I mean, FRANCE'S DANCES? Zzzzzzz... So the theme is just too corny and simple and not nearly amusing enough. Second, the grid is poorly constructed, which results in most if not all of the bad fill. To have theme answers separated only by 10-letter answers (!) (as is the case with the top two and bottom two themers, respectively) results in an incredibly inflexible grid. Ridiculous stacks that create lots of ugliness in the fill. Drop YEMEN'S LEMONS / lift CHINA'S MYNAHS and you can then put some space (i.e. a black square or two) in between the themers, letting them breathe and letting halfway decent fill settle in. Actually, the top's not too bad (with just the unlovely AGR. screwing things up), but the bottom is worse (esp. for a Tuesday, esp. when it doesn't *need* to be so wobbly). THOS and AMBI and (the absolute worst) OUS crossing ASAN!?!? Could that not be rescued in any way? Because that is about the ugliest cross I've ever seen on a Tuesday (or any day). Puzzle skewed old, but that's not its problem. It's just structurally unsound and thematically unimaginative.


Wanted I SAID SO because that's the phrase (1D: Arbitrary non-explanation after "because"). Took forever to see LOOMPA because "land" wasn't in quotation marks and so I just couldn't understand the clue at the most basic grammatical level (8D: Lead-in-to land for Willy Wonka's workers). Had TINA for LANA at first (16D: Actress Turner). Not sure why I thought she was an actress. Oh, right. "Thunderdome."


Gotta get some sleep. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

83 comments:

Moly Shu 12:11 AM  

Couldn't figure out how a USAToday puzzle ended up in the NYT. Agreed, not good.

Anonymous 1:24 AM  

- Thanks for the Frye sketch. Worth listening to for sure.

- Moly Shu: FYI, the USA Today crosswords are now competently editited by Fred Piscop, since the previous editor was fired for plagiarism a few months ago. The USAT made no formal announcement at the time. Piscop is a talented pro, I think you'll find a vast improvement in quality. (full disclosure: I contribute to the USAT now. I never contributed to the former "Editor", and neither did anyone else recently, at least
knowingly).

-MAS

dumbnose 1:27 AM  

Theme was completely meh. Fill was terrible. Usually, I think Rex is a bit hard on the puzzles. Not this time.

John Child 1:33 AM  

Aloe's auras, Roma's comas? Those look like themers but aren't, and they are forced by the decision to put theme answers in rows two and 14. Unfortunate.

If you want DIN, someone HASTA, make the ORC PIE, YOU ASS. Over and out.

jae 1:34 AM  

Medium-tough for me too. I had SlEEpY before I read the across clues. Also tried CUBAn before going with the S.

Yeah, this one has some issues, still liked it slightly better than @Rex did.

Anokha 1:41 AM  

I didn't think it was too terrible, but that might be because I enjoyed the randomness of LESOTHO and TOGO

Larry Gilstrap 1:45 AM  

Heads up to new solvers: ANIL and ETAs will appear again in a puzzle near you. Hardly a mundane Tuesday effort in my estimation. So much to talk about, but I will spare you some of it. I once made serious eye contact with Stephen Sondheim during intermission at a Penn&Teller show on Broadway. But, who hasn't? I wish I would have said, "You wrote 'There's a Place For Us' didn't you?" Kinda what Juliet was thinking when she uttered ROMEO O ROMEO. Best song ever?

Forget today's tidy little theme. Let's talk about the hidden theme: sexual tension. First, I remember seeing LANA Turner in the Postman Always Rings Twice on a monochromatic TV set, not an RCA, and honestly, she stirred me. I'm gonna have to watch that again, soon. Next, when I was in a Masters program I attended a James and Wharton seminar. The novels of Henry James are as thick as doorstops and a character might spend three pages hanging on a doorknob. Aargh! His short stories and travelogues can be terrific. His contemporary, Edith Wharton, is less oppressive. I became enthralled with her novel Ethan Frome, about an everyman yoked in marriage to a crone ZEENA and living with their house guest, her young cousin Mattie, who is as hot as a pistol. Spoiler alert, watch out for that pickle dish. Finally, we watch very little TV, nutty huh! My wife was a Downton Abbey fanatic, so a few Sunday nights each winter I was committed. I had a hard time distinguishing one character from another, we have a small TV. Somewhere during the fifth season, I realized that I found Lady Mary to be extremely attractive. Now, there's a theme!

Moly Shu 1:51 AM  

@MAS, yeah, I know and probably should have gone with "an old USAToday". Sorry if I offended (full disclosure: I enjoy your puzzles, even the ones I can't finish)

puzzle hoarder 1:55 AM  

Let's see,"structurally unsound","thematically unimaginative" sounds like someone doesn't know when to turn the day job off. I enjoyed this puzzle. It threw enough curve balls to keep me thinking. 19A is the least correct themer. All the themes stress that first syllable so the yay and lem sounds not rhyming made that one clunk a little. Maybe that was the "structurally unsound" part.
I even got a dnf with ZEEMA for ZEENA. How would I know the difference? It does sound just like that hideous drink so why not. Ironically I annotated ZEENA in my Webster's when it last showed up about out four and a half years ago. Of course I haven't seen or thought about it since. Must have had my smart phone back then. The Wikipedia plot summary seems familiar. Nothing like a happy ending.

Da Bears 2:30 AM  

I don’t take Rex very seriously anymore and don’t visit here as much as a result. I’m just up late tonight from having gone to the Bears game. Rex gave a two thumbs up to that Sunday puzzle by one of his favorite constructors and it was a sheer bore. I mean puzzles don’t come any flatter. Today’s puzzle is cute but not cute enough for Rex. Meh. The puzzle is as good a puzzle for a Tuesday as one can conceive.

Martín Abresch 3:40 AM  

I'm filing this with Hitchcock's "Marnie," U2's "Zooropa," and the first season of "True Detective" under "interesting failures." I like this category much better than "acceptable and generic."

Putting a 10-letter theme answer in the second row and a 12-letter answer in the fourth row? That seems utterly and completely insane, but I'll be damned if the NE doesn't pull it off. Plus it uses the wonderful ALLOSAURUS! Ho-ly balls! The corresponding SW (-OUS, AMBI-, AS AN, THOS) looks like the hot mess that I would have expected in the NE.

The theme answers reminded me of Ry Cooder's "France Chance." I would order them from worst to best in the exact order that they appear, from TOGOS'S LOGOS (meh) to CUBA'S TUBAS (noice). I absolutely agree with Rex that it's better to go outlandish with the theme answers. FIJI'S SQUEEGEES would have been spectacular and is better than anything that I came up with: Togo's Pogos, Mali's Dollies, Morocco's Cockcrows, Peru's Kangaroos, Romania's Pyromaniacs, Sri Lanka's Willy Wonkas.

Also interesting was the reference to Bonnie and Clyde's CRIME SPREES. In the movie version, Bonnie and Clyde were played by Norway's Dunaway and Haiti's Beatty. Coincidence? I think not.

Also driving me batty were several mystery squares. Is it spelled SWANEE or SWANIE? Let's check the cross ... 38-Down ... "Wheel of Fortune" buy ... which obviously is ... AN E or AN I. Well that's no help. (I correctly guessed E on the theory that ANI would have been clued differently.) Then there was ZEENA. It's been two decades since I read Ethan Frome, so I don't remember the wife's name. Let's check the crosses ... 45-Down ... Cry after "Psst!" ... well that's obviously I'M HERE ... or is it IN HERE? Great. What about 46-Down ... Sampled ... that's easy, TASTED ... or is it TESTED? Argh!

I loved the clue for EYE (What a cyclops has in common with a cyclone?). I also liked the clues for NOT ONE (Emphatically zero), PRAYING (Speaking up?), NINETY (No longer an octogenarian), and INNER BEAUTY (What kindness and graceful aging reveal). I'll take fun clues like these and a messy puzzle over an orderly snoozefest any day.

Loren Muse Smith 4:29 AM  

Rex – I, too, started imagining other possibilities, and that's when I saw that things like your CHAD'S PLAIDS,my SPAIN'S BRAINS, and @Martin Abresch's PERU'S KANGAROOS wouldn't work – all of Ruth's themers have a "BUMbum BUMbum" sound (hi, @puzzle hoarder). Trochee trochee, I guess.

I love your FIJI'S SQUEEGEES and NORWAY'S DOORWAYS. Those beauts fit the pattern. How 'bout JORDAN'S WARDENS or LAOS' SOUSES?

I liked the long downs INNER BEAUTY and CRIME SPREES. Also, Oompa LOOMPA feels kind of TUBAsome, right?

It's fun to think of other themers, and that's always a huge plus in my book. So I enjoyed this theme even after the solve.

Hungry Mother 5:48 AM  

DNFed on another name: ZEENA. I had "Zeema" and "I''m here" instead of INHERE. More trivia instead of puzzle.

Lewis 6:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
George Barany 6:39 AM  

I solved @Ruth Margolin's puzzle last night and made it just long enough to read @Rex's analysis, but was too exhausted from all the political and sports news (yeah, Da Bears beat the Viqueens) to contribute anything then. Now, already a baker's dozen of comments, many of them astute and/or funny, and several making some points that had occurred to me.

I did note the exchange between @Moly Shu and @Martin Ashwood-Smith about the USA Today crossword. Let me reiterate that under the editorship of @Fred Piscop, this is an essentially new product with good themes and minimal dreck, designed to be Mon/Tues on the New York Times scale. @Fred Piscop himself constructs many of the puzzles, and other contributors from the past two months include @MAS, @Frank Longo, @Victor Fleming, @Patrick Jordan, and yours truly. Sample them at this site (a calendar appears below the puzzle du jour), or contact me off-Rex for some representative puzzles as pdf's.

As already noted by @Martin Abresch, there was an absolute standout clue for EYE, which brought to mind this puzzle inspired by my wife's cataract surgery 2 1/2 years ago. Hope it makes some of you laugh.

Lewis 6:41 AM  

Hand up for ZEEMA and IMHERE.

I came off of this puzzle thinking that this had everything I want in a Tuesday puzzle, usually the most maligned puzzle of the week. It had playfulness and grit. It had some very nice cluing (EYE, PRAYING, DIN) and two beautiful long downs. It had a terrific ironic cross (DYED/INNER_BEAUTY). I was actually thinking that this puzzle was rife with INNER BEAUTY.

And then, Rex, you told me all the reasons I should hate this puzzle. Your suggestions for theme answers -- well, I loved FIJIS_SQUEEGEES, but your others didn't seem to me any better than Ruth's. I agree that there was some ugly fill, but I didn't notice it during the solve when I was smiling over the things I really liked in this puzzle.

So, like @Martin, to me, the good outweighed the bad, and thank you Ms. Ruth for a very enjoyable experience!

G.Harris 7:44 AM  

Unfair to cross loompa with allosaurus . I had allasaurus and, Dnf.

jberg 8:09 AM  

I ought to read more. Never read Ethan Frome, and so went with TeSTED/ZEENe. I'm running up a string of DNFs as I get older (not even an octogenarian yet, though).

Two theme answers with only a 10-letter non-themer between them. Bug of feature?

What I didn't like:

-CyuBA does not actually rhyme with TooBA
-To me, the extraneous non-theme countries CRETE and LESOTHO are a distraction. (Oops! I see that Crete is not a country; but Lesotho is, landlocked or not.)

@Larry Gilstrap, I thought Juliet said that too, which would have made the answer wrong. But further research indicates that she said "O ROMEO, ROMEO," so that's OK.

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

RomeoRomeo in a puzzle where the theme is rhyming pairs?

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Oh. Well, I enjoyed it.

kitshef 8:25 AM  

Hope this gets through. CAPTCHA has gone loopy today...

Five very good, very consistent themers, plus we get ALLOSAURUS, CRIME SPREES, and INNER BEAUTY. That deserves some love, not a panning.

Only quibble, as has been pointed out, is the ambiguity of the ZEENA crosses, which could/should have been fixed with better clues.

chefbea 8:31 AM  

Tough for a Tuesday...I agree. Char/sear again????

pmdm 8:47 AM  

Because Monday and Tuesday puzzles are supposed to be quite easy, I often find them easy but not incredibly interesting. But I thought much of today's puzzle improved on the usual formula.

The constructor elsewhere (XWordInfo,com for one) reveals that the theme clues were edited to make them easier (that is, Tuesday level simple). I liked the original clues better. The point is, if you didn't like the clues, it's the editor's fault, not the constructors. I guess that would mean one shouldn't expect things to change.

AliasZ 8:50 AM  


I thought LESOTHO should've been avoided in a country-name theme, but that's just me. ROMEO ROMEO was also confusing. Wasn't MOUSY one of the seven dwarfs? But I loved his cousin SNEEZY crossing the SWANEE (Crimea) river.

Madagascar
had a gas car,
but LESOTHO's
were less so, those
ran on steam.

Tasmania's
jazz manias
are not unlike
a dork in a lasso
in Burkina Faso.

Hungary's
dungarees
ain't worth a
Philippines
hill o'beans.

I could play this game all day long, but I posses that INNER BEAUTY which forbids me to do so, besides, I must go to work. Aren't you glad?

Happy All Saints' Day.

Mohair Sam 8:52 AM  

Hand up with the ZEEmA/ImHERE crowd. Somebody said ZEENA hits puzzle once every five years or so - I'll have to read "Ethan Frome." @jberg had an interesting variant on the natick using ZEENe and TeSTING. I think his natick makes more sense. I mean, who whispers "Psssst" before yelling "I'm Here!"?

Very much agree with @Rex's assessment today. Given the rhyme scheme in the themers, the ROMEOROMEO felt kind of clumsy to me. Learned ALLOSAURUS today. wtf does "graceful aging" even mean - maybe I lack INNER BEAUTY.

Lobster11 8:54 AM  

I dunno. I think I liked it a little more than Rex but a little less than some of the rest of you. Whatever. It's Tuesday.

Unlike some folks, I enjoyed seeing ALLOSAURUS. I was a dinosaur freak as a young kid and knew the names of dozens of them at age 5. This got me into big trouble once in kindergarten. As in most kindergarten classrooms, I presume, the letters of the alphabet, each with a corresponding picture illustrating something whose name begins with that letter, were lined up above the blackboard in the front of the room -- y'know, a picture of an apple with the letter A, a zebra with the letter Z, etc. Well, it seems that one day the teacher tried to sell us some B.S. about D being for "dinosaur," which was perfectly satisfactory to everyone except me. A heated argument ensued in which I insisted that that the picture was clearly of a Brontosaurus, and hence should be paired with the letter B rather than D. Stupid teacher.

Anyway, I always thought that T. Rex was overrated, and that an Allosaurus would kick one's ass any day of the week.

Nancy 9:03 AM  

Thank you, @Da Bears, Lewis, and kitshef! As I skimmed Rex and many of the other early posters, I thought I was losing my mind. But this is a wonderful Tuesday, I thought. Playful and lively -- with an unusual amount of thinking required for a Tuesday. I found it a solving delight from top to bottom -- and absolutely loved INNER BEAUTY, both the clue and the answer. Oh, and btw, I, too, had I'M HERE/ZEEMA, so I DNF either. But I don't care about a natick when I've had fun. And I had a lot of fun today. Nice one, Ruth. Hope to see more of you in the future.

Nancy 9:08 AM  

@Mohair (8:52)-- You're being much too modest. I'm certain you do have INNER BEAUTY. I'm really, really sure of it!

His Radiance 9:16 AM  

Same here with the Zeema thing.

ArtO 9:20 AM  

I thought this had much more crunch than a usual Tuesday and consider it above average for that day of the week.

For average (maybe) solvers like me, I don't get into the details or fine points of puzzle construction such as OFL. It's just mind stimulation and entertainment of a certain level which appeals on a daily basis.

L 9:25 AM  

Add me to the I'M HERE crowd. And the CHAR v SAR thing is annoying too. I thought the puzzle was simply lame. FRANCES DANCES ugh.

Roo Monster 9:27 AM  

Hey All !
Nice puz theme. A bit chewy for Tuesday. Agree with Rex on moving Rows 4 & 12 themers, but not because of his reason. It would've made three spaces twixt all the themers, more elegant in my EYEs. Just sayin. :-)

Funny writeover, had erNie for SANTA, thinking Keebler Elves! Almost fell into the ZEEmA trap, but decided ZEENA sounded more plausible for a name. INHERE ImHERE a tough distinction.

NOT ONE could've been clued as - Dead telephone? NO TONE. ASS, ASS ORT, EAT BIT DIN,

I SAY SO :-P
RooMonster
DarrinV

GILL I. 9:35 AM  

Loved it - every single entry and OUS/ASAN didn't bother a wit. I wish BEE was a country because this was the Bees Knees for moi.
When Yuba Plays the Tuba Down in Cuba...Que bueno moreno.
ROMEO ROMEO wherefore art thou..HELEN and ZEENA and INNER BEAUTY.
Now, if only I could remember how to spell ALLOSAURUS. I should know it by heart since our son spent hours at the American Museum of Natural History.
Ruth, this was the most fun I've had on a Tuesday in a long time.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

The myna bird is from India, not China.

Roo Monster 9:51 AM  

Just realized it was a POC theme! Wonder if this will blow a fuse in AnoaBob! At least it's consistent...

RooMonster

GILL I. 9:52 AM  

@Anony 9:36. Two seconds to Google: The Crested MYNAH is native to southeastern China. DIN!

Hartley70 10:00 AM  

I was sure Rex would go bonkers over the ROMEOROMEO entry considering the theme. It's the only NIT I would pick on this amusing puzzle. Tuesdays don't get much better than this.

I didn't fall for ZEEmA because I guessed correctly at INHERE. Just lucky, I guess. LOOMPA took surprising long to see. It was my last entry once I changed oRAtING to PRAYING, my answer of the day.

Ruth, thanks! You gave me a good time this morning. Now off to see if my favorite Ruth in all the world has been up to any judicial mischief.

@HungryMother, now you're visiting my early stomping ground. I suggest you try a Kip's RI wiener, Del's lemonade, and make a stop at Champlin's in Pt. Judith for a fish dinner. Those three make me homesick.

Passing Shot 10:05 AM  

ZEEmA/ImHERE

I recall being assigned to read Ethan Frome in high school. I think the book died from suffocation in my locker, along with Emma. Perhaps I'll pick them up again some day...

Liked the puzzle more than Rex did and I appreciate @Martin Abresch's comments. That said, it's helpful (at least for me) to understand Rex's thinking regarding the construction of a puzzle, so thanks for that.

Z 10:08 AM  

It just seems to me that if you're married to Ethan Frome you should have a malt beverage named after you.

I agree with Rex, if you're going to do this kind of theme go over the top, way way over the top.

Ellen S 10:14 AM  

Hand up for ZEEmA / Im HERE. I read Ethan Frome about 50 years ago, forgot his wife even had a name. Now I feel bad about that.

I agree with @Rex for a change. I can't imagine puzzles like these being the kind of brain challenge that will stave off dementia. If @Will Shortz has dumbed down the clues so they're no challenge, my main amusement is coming here and seeing what all you clever people do by way of wordplay.

Of course, there's always Saturday. I couldn't even get a toehold on last Saturday's. Probably dementia has set in from too many airline magazine level puzzles earlier in the week.

Leapfinger 10:14 AM  

'ALLO SAURUS my old friend,
I've come to talk ragout again.

This is the kind of theme has me giggling; well done, and also fooled me into thinking the TUBAS would be ArUBA'S.

Enormously thoughtful of Ms Ruth to feed us teasers to play with, like CRETE's feats. Then there's
PEORIA's Queen and Beckham
SWANEE's Osmond and Wahlberg
And (if you're willing to bend it like Beckham)... there's LESOTHOS Bebe REBOTHOS

'Tone deaf' =  TINEAR? [Dig it, WS; I read your sly!]
MOUSY ALLOSAURUS? Not in my view.

Unfortunate ending: besides TiarAS before TOPPER, I dnf'd with [apparently common]ZEEmA. Oh well, one stroke over the line. 'Speaking up' was a cool misdirect, with PRAisING so close to PRAYING.

Nice work, Ms Ruth. Thought this Mardi was gras with INNER BEAUTY.
..............

Just read @Rexie's review. Oops. Pls scratch everything I said about liking this.

Kudos to the Budapest anapest.

Nancy 10:32 AM  

@Leapfinger (10:14) -- I'm not @Always Check Your Grid (whose identity, btw, I've never been able to figure out.) But if you had TOPPER, you have more than your ZEEMA mistake. Sorry to be the bearer of such bad tidings :)

Tita A 10:37 AM  

@lms...I see what you did there with yer avatar...clever girl.

The first themer could be good speech therapy exercise.
You see, my niece used to do that when she first started talking. S for F too. Her most famous phrase, while at a seafood shack on the Cape, was "I don't yike yobster...I yike sish."
The therapy is for me and Phil... It was so cute, we would imitate it (never in front of the kid, of course!!) My niece grew out of it 25 years ago. We still talk that way.

I thought ROMEOROMEO was a themer, and was mad at it. Ok...I see it's not, but I'm still mad at having a fraternal twin of a themer right in there in a very plausible theme position. Harrumph.

@MAS...you mean I can no longer feel all superior by not deigning to do a USAT puzzle??

Side note...I'm fascinated by the mistakes people make when speaking...whether it's folks learning a second language, or kids just learning to speak. I think those mistakes give a peek at how the brain works. Is there a branch of linguistics that deals with that?
Some of it is physical...it's harder to make certain sounds...w is easier than r...m is easier than anything, which is why in every language on the planet mama is mama. Some of it might be related to hearing and sight ...if baby can't hear or see mama well, she won't be able to successfully repeat.
And second language, well, you fill in the blanks with constructions and words from your own language, and make assumptions based on what rules you do know in the second language. Like pronouncing "have" the way you pronounce "wave".





mathgent 10:49 AM  

As Rex pointed out, the theme was zipless. Not in the Erica Jong sense. "Fiji's squeegees" would have helped.

Seeing HELEN in the puzzle reminds me of the unit used to measure beauty, the millihelen. The beauty required to launch one ship.

Can't do anything better than a C.

Tita A 10:50 AM  

@yobster eyeven...I yiked your ayyosaurus story. Have you always stood up to authority for what you know to be right? (OY, Ms. Margolin...now yook what you've done...)

Btw...constructor musta been hungry... EAT, NIP, BIT, PIE, DINdin, TASTED... Nice foodie sub theme!

Ellen S 10:57 AM  

@George Barany, thanks for the cataract surgery puzzle. Fun enough but then I read your Midrash. Oy! Not listening to the post-op instructions, and then focusing on your puzzle about the experience. Was Barbara brave enough to have the procedure without sedation? I stayed awake for the whole deal -- I would rather have it without even local anesthetic rather than have my memory wiped by that damn retro-amnesiac stuff -- but even so I needed close watching afterward because I had both eyes done at once. What fun! For several hours both sets of eye muscles were worthless, going off in random directions, so I couldn't tell which way was up. I did need help and my son-in-law was kind enough to stay with me until I could (literally) "see straight." (It was like I imagine being on LSD on a merry-go-round inside a kaleidoscope. Sammy took me out to lunch; the two servers put down three plates. One of them held my meal, but which one? Which of the multiple cups of coffee should I reach for? Which fork is real?)

But if I had submitted to the sedation, I would have been not only unable to see, I wouldn't have been able to think straight. It would have been up to Sammy to pay attention to the post-op instructions. I'm glad you kept your eyes on the road for the drive home. And I f Barbara had been drugged, maybe all she wanted to do was sleep. I hope the post-op instructions were clearly written down!

seanm 11:15 AM  

took me medium wednesday time (16:50).

didn't recognize Togo, Mynah, Zeena and Frye. most of which were gettable. the clue for Loompa was very hard to make sense of, agree with Rex.

as other people have pointed out, there are two potential ambiguities in Zeena, with both iMhere and tEsted. as far as i'm concerned, all combinations of N/M and E/A seem equally unlike a real name. not good.

THOS should never be used as a shortened Thomas.

Joseph Michael 11:16 AM  

Some lousy fill, but fun puzzle and tough for a Tuesday. Hard to match Rex's "Fiji's squeegees" or AliasZ'@'s "Philippines hill o'beans," but also came up with:

Greece's fleeces
Wales' jails
Congo's bongos
Libya's trivia

kitshef 11:20 AM  

@Alias Z - I got a kick out of your poetry, but have to point out that Leshotho is pronounced le-SOO-too.

Nancy 11:26 AM  

The Best Thing on the Blog Today? The millihelen as a measure of beauty. See @mathgent at 10:49 a.m. Did you make that up, @mathgent? If so, it's just wonderful. It's even wonderful if you didn't make it up -- but I'm kinda hoping you did!

Anoa Bob 11:33 AM  

@Roo, I guess we could call each themer a PON (Plural Of Necessity) because a possessive followed by a plural was needed to pull off the rhyme thingy. Otherwise we would have more sensible but less giggly stuff like YEMENI LEMON or CUBAN TUBA.

Besides, I've turned over a new leaf and instead of counting POCs, I'm working on my INNER BEAUTY. Ah, screw that.

Which of the following is an ASS ORT? a)AGR b)ACA c)ANE d)OUS e)all of the above

mac 11:39 AM  

Oldish feeling, but I still enjoyed it.

Hand up for Zeema/I'm here, it's been so long since I read that book. My new granddaughter, 6 weeks old, is called Zina. Several people have asked if it's spellen with an X.

old timer 11:45 AM  

I agree with OFL about the bad short fill. I agree with many of you about the unfair Natick at ZEENA/INHERE. Fell victim to it myself. I blame the editor, who should never allow that to happen in a Tuesday. But I liked FRANCES DANCES, and loved TOGOS LOGOS. WS should have ordered the constructor to ditch CHINAS MYNAHS and try again.

Nothing wrong with CUBAS TUBAS though. In my day politically correct folks used to pronounce Cuba "cooba" out of respect to Fidel Castro their hero, and the Cubano people. Nothing wrong with THOS either,. That's how he signed his name.

I did not immediately get ALLOSAURUS. Grew up with regular fleld trips to the La Brea Tar Pits and the museum there. For some reason that particular dinosaur was not featured. (BTW Chicago may be second to NYC in most things, but the Field Museum there is the best natural history museum on Earth IMHO.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

@GILL at 9:52, okay, but then why is the French clue specific to France? Sure they may have mynas in China but they also have Tangos in Paris. I was just pointing out the stupidity of theme.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

@Joseph Michael,

don't you mean "Wales's gaols"?

Numinous 12:37 PM  

I have to disagree with @Rex on one point. CUBAS TUBAS do rhyme exactly IF you pronounce CUBA in Spanish. CooBA, not CyoUBA. I will admit, it took me a moment to think of that after the fact but when I read @Rex i was like "Wait a minute, that ain't right!"
I've known enough Spanish speaking people from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean to know how they speak and of their general dislike of each other.

I thought this puzzle was groovy enough for a Tuesday. I knew that ZEEmA was a drink. I was thinking maybe ZinniA for the name, never having read Ethan Frome. I got IN HERE straight off thinking that it was sneaky enough to follow a Psst. What DNFed me was SWANiE/ANi. Should have thought/remembered that AN E is probably the first vowel a WoF contestant would consider. OUS/AS AN didn't bother me one bit. In fact, I was glad to have moved through the SW so easily.

Dunno why we missed out on the South Pacific seances with Fiji's ouijis.
Has anyone dined on LESOTHO risotto.
Seems like @Loren's Greeces Pieces might be some sort of mini peanut butter dolmas.
Then there is the big Argentinian import, Chile's fillys.
Driving south of the border you might be stopping at Mexico's Texacos.
Saving money in the UK by shopping at Wales sales.
Did Merriam Makiba ever sing Botswanas cantatas?

I'll admit, some of thes don't fit the two syllable constraint but in eleven years when this theme comes around again . . . .

Numinous 12:46 PM  

I have to echo @Nancy re @mathgent's miliHELEN as a unit of BEAUTY. I guess that will lead to centiHELENs and possibly kiloHELENs. Thats a lot of ships for a face to launch.

Leapfinger 1:22 PM  

@Nancy, whew! I'm fine, the error was in the comment, not the grid. TOPPER was a way-station on the road from TiarAs to TOPHAT, and stuck in my mind.

@Numinous, lol! Did you find Merriam Makeba in your Dictionary? Great list you came up with.

Kooba is a line of handbags, pricey but not castronomically exorbitant.

Burkina Faso's lassoes Signe Hasso's contrabassos in the Sargasso, see?

Well, I SWANEE! Anyone else notice that EYE OYS YOU BIT?

Teedmn 1:33 PM  

Perhaps if 50A had been clued as "Princess Warrior homophone", I might not have made the DNF of the day, but alas.... I'm HERE!

Having SlEEpY in before SNEEZY, it leads me to wonder how many times SlEEpY was given cause to STIR(S) due to an untimely "achoo"? It's enough to spur one into a CRIME SPREE(S).

And I'm guessing many of us are PRAYING that INNER BEAUTY will get us through those "graceful aging years". I'm certainly not willing to do anything more direct than "Speaking up"!

I don't agree with @Rex's NIPs of NITS against this puzzle. Perhaps, if RBM's original clues for some of the themers hadn't been edited out (per Xwordinfo), he would have found it zippier, but I think it had a charm all of its own.

Thanks, @Tita, for pointing out @LMS's apt avatar - I missed it first go-round.

Martín Abresch 1:46 PM  

Ha! Love "millihelen." Thanks, @MathGent.

A quick Google search shows me that, yes, this word has been thought of before. I wouldn't be surprised if multiple people discovered this word independently. (Side note: I hate it when one comes up with what thinks is a clever neologism, only to find out that others beat you to it. I remember this happening to me with "fauxthentic.")

Millihelen reminded me of the term "micromort," which is a measure of riskiness set to a one-in-million chance of death. For instance, bananas are slightly radioactive, and eating 1000 bananas raises your chance of dying by one micromort.

Wednesday's Child 1:59 PM  

I've got to chime in, too, loved the millihelen!

The puzzle was ok. I botched it in the CEL-EYE-FRYE section.

Prefer mousey.

CLB 2:02 PM  

Another hand up for ZEEMA/IMHERE. I actually went back and forth and guessed wrong. ZEEMA sounded more likely to my brain, maybe because of the drink (ZIMA)? For a moment I also had TESTED for TASTED, fixed it but also based on a complete guess. Boo for ZEENA! (and imprecise crosses)

Masked and Anonymous 2:55 PM  

Well, I thought this TuesPuz had a lotta BEAUTY IN 'ER. Had a buncha stuff U don't normally get, in yer usual TuesPuz. Different. Different is good, within limits. (yo, @Trump)

Bullets:

* 72 words. 5 long themers. Promises some pleasingly-plump pockets of desperation.
* CRIMESPREES. ALLOSAURUS. INNERBEAUTY. PEORIA. SWANEE. LOOMPA. SHIRTZ. Fine looong stuff.
* 18 weejects to choose from. [staff pick: OUS.]
* Opportunities to sweat precious nanoseconds, tryin to figure out tricky crossins. Examples: Briefly wanted SWANIE/ANI, but talked self out of it. Wanted LOOMBA/BRAYING at first, but prayed LOOMPA was right. These choices were kinda well-nasked (yo, @Leapfinger).
* Cool theme idea. Like @muse always says, "It's fun to think of other themers, and that's always a huge plus in my book." yep. I especially enjoy themers that make U wince a mite, becuz they ain't quite dead-center fits. Examples: UKRAINES FLUSTRAINS. POLANDS SWOLL'NGLANDS. NAURUS YAHOOS. etc. har
* AGR. Used 44 times, in the Will Shirtz Era. So … seems fine, to m&e. Better clue: {Crumpled rag??}.
* 5 U's. Ms. Margolin maintains proper vowel decorum. Well done.

Team-solved this puppy upside-down, at the pancake house this mornin. Seemed like a pretty eazy-E solvequest, and we had most of it done before the vittles showed up. PuzEatinSpouse liked it overall a bit less than M&A did. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion, on vittles.

Thanx, Ruth Bloomfield darlin. NEPALS GAMEBALLS? yeah. Didn't think so.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


**gruntz**

Mohair Sam 3:48 PM  

Millihelens - That rating system's been around forever, thought it died when the words "chauvinist pig" were coined.

jae 4:46 PM  

Just read the comments and realized I also had ZEEMA. Dang, @Nancy shoulda checked my grid!

Masked and Anonymous 5:01 PM  

p.s.

@RP: yep. NORWAYS DOORWAYS indeed is maybe ever so slightly more excitin than FRANCES DANCES. Elevates it to the FRANCES VALANCES level. Who wants can-cans, when U can stare at doors or drapes.


Surely that there SW corner of OUS/ASAN fame could be gussied-up, a dash. Shoot, a doorway here and a drape there, and @RP mighta fallen in luv with this puppy/hound.
Simple example:

ACROSS.
62. Ireland's ___ Islands [Has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity]
DOWN.
57. Word less frequently used, following divorce?

SNEEZY was also a great word, btw. (M&A sorta combined it with SHIRTS to get SHIRTZ, in his earlier list of faves.) I kinda liked AMBI, too; but it ain't for all tastes. AMBI may require an UMAMI filler-taste, mayhaps.

Was there ever a "ROMEO ROMEO + somethin" song title? Just reminiscin.

M&Also

Leapfinger 6:05 PM  

ROMEO ROMEO where the buffalo home-o

Yeah, I didn't think so, either.

Chronic dnfer 6:15 PM  

Hmmm. Dnf'd at sneeky/keeme.

Kit Marlowe 7:08 PM  

Aw c'mon, @Mo'hair S! Millihelens don't have thing ONE to do with swinish chauvinism! You can't be going about doing PC-cleanup on the Dead Poets Society.

The pseudounit may have Faust been coined by a Cambridge mathematician/physiologist, though others call  that a Rushton judgement and give the honor to Asimov. Asper @Numinous, there is indeed a hierarchy of Helens, in fact, there's a whole rafting flotilla of them.

Just for future reference: It's considered inadvisable to use the term millihelen, since Roman prefixes  ought not be mixed with Troy units.

Little Red Hen 7:47 PM  

@M&A, harking back to yesterpuzz for inspiration... AMBI could be clued as 'Headless AWN'. Oh deer, is that's going too far?


I just found out that both the Felix Salten and the Walt Disney BAMBI are older than me. And I'm no Spring Chicken.

John Child 7:50 PM  

@Kit, owww, owww. You're killing me!

phil phil 8:08 PM  

Unbelievable
Ok ZEENA what kind of name is that????

Anyway sampled = TeSTED
answer to psst = I'm HERE

SO SCREW THAT.
Soory if that has been mentioned but I was so irate about that i had to come and blow off some steam!!!!!

rondo 9:35 AM  

Tuesday is where meh puzzles go to live, or die. Rhyme time or not. Shouldn’t be a surprise to OFL or anyone else. Did not bite on the m for ZEENA, never occurred to me.

For a nanosecond I thought we might get a cowpoke loverboy with a ROdEOROMEO, but there’s no country name involved and it was in the wrong row, so, no.

Rental properties I own? Rondoscondos.

And let’s not forget the Sweater Girl, yeah baby LANA Turner. Or Natalie’s forgettable sister LANA Wood.

According to OFL this puz has been to HELEN back. But it belongs to Tuesday because ISAYSO. That’s how I ROLL.

Burma Shave 10:02 AM  

SEAR DIN

Play a real LOOMPA DUET? “NOTONE”, the TINEAR man says,
but CUBASTUBAS are set to play FRANCESDANCES.

--- MAYA MOSS

spacecraft 12:23 PM  

It played a little tougher for the day, but I still wouldn't call it medium-challenging. I was hampered by not knowing FRYE or ZEENA, so I'd expect it to be more like easy-medium for folks who knew them.

As themers go, I agree that the centerpiece, which ought to be the strongest, was the weakest. It does form a symmetry of sorts with the top and bottom ones in that the rhymes are spelled the same. YEMENSLEMONS at least changes the schwa, but the outstanding winner is CHINASMYNAHS. More entries like that would have upgraded this effort nicely.

And fill-wise, this puppy needs some upgrading. ROMEOROMEO? That feels like, I dunno, cheating or something. This must be repeat week, looking at yesterday and today. I trust that the printed stutter will be cured going forward.

The INNERBEAUTY in this grid is without doubt DOD Lana Turner, though Tess OCEAN deserves another encore. As does HELEN Hunt.

It was sorta fun doing this one, but there are too many flaws to award more than a par.

Diana,LIW 1:38 PM  

Yeah, Im HERE. Sheesh.

When I play all over the puzzle I don't notice "bad" fill - just favorite clues or answers.

I have a friend from Swaziland - it's surrounded by SA, but wouldn't fit in the puzzle.

No MOSS.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

BS2 2:01 PM  

CEL INHERE

NOTONE cop in NINETY was of ASSORT PRAYING for duty
to stop CRIMESPREES of Clyde and his MOUSY cutie.
From PEORIA to the SWANEE
YOU kept WON EYE OUT for Clyde and Bonnie.
When their DUET ENDED, so DYED their INNERBEAUTY.

--- THOS. FRYE, MBA

leftcoastTAM 2:25 PM  

Refreshingly fresh and Tuesday tough. This is a good one.

Theme works nicely with its simple but fun rhythms,
TOGOSLOGOS and YEMENSLEMONS leading the way and drawing smiles.

ALLOSAURUS is new to me (and may be handy to know in times to come).

ZEENEE is an unusual outlier, and I fell for ZEEnEE.
Don't even feel bad about that dnf-er.

Enjoyable.

leftcoastTAM 2:40 PM  

ZEENE and...fell for ZEEmE, I mean.

leftcoastTAM 2:48 PM  

Oh, and TeSTED instead of TASTED, leaving a small pile of dnf's in the SE. Now feel a bit bad but not much.

Anonymous 3:24 PM  



Fun, enjoyable puzzle. Made you think, and left you feeling happy. Not bad at all for a Tuesday.

cb77305 5:00 PM  

Bitch, bitch, bitch. Nothing is ever good enough for rex. I find myself checking Bill Butler's page more often.

lodsf 10:28 AM  

I thought it was good *for a Tuesday*. Didn't even realize that I DNF until I came here and saw ZEENA (I solve on paper so no "happy pencil"). And clever clueing at 22A kept me from seeing Willy Wonka's land & timid [people]... isn't "speaking up" orating... but no "up" [to the heavens] is praying.

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