Cathedral of Florence / WED 6-28-17 / Nobelist Pavlov / Garbage-hauling boat / River of France Belgium / Heed coxswain

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Constructor: David Kwong

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (just figuring out wording of quote, esp. very beginning, added difficulty)

THEME: 1A: Start of a quip about a whimsical celebrity couple —"HOW I WISH NATALIE / PORTMAN DATED / JACQUES COUSTEAU / SO I COULD CALL / THEM PORTMANTEAU"

Word of the Day: DUOMO (2D: Cathedral of Florence) —
Duomo (English: /ˈdwm/, Italian: [ˈdwɔːmo]) is a term for an Italian cathedral church. The formal Italian word for a church that is now a cathedral is cattedrale; a duomo may be either a present or a former cathedral (the latter always in a town that no longer has a bishop and therefore no longer has a cathedral, as for example Trevi). Some, like the Duomo of Monza, have never been cathedrals, although old and important. (wikipedia)
• • •

I'm clearly missing something, because this joke is not original, and yet ... no credit is given. Not in the clues, and not on the NYT puzzle website (which often publishes constructor's "Notes"). I think this is the origin of the joke (but in the Age of the Internet, who the hell knows?):

It's a cute gag. But the rephrasing for crossword purposes (i.e. the remaking of the joke into a symmetrically divisible joke) made everything a little weird, especially at the beginning. HOW I (as the phrase opening) is oddly quaint—the joke, in a plausible voice, should just start "I WISH"—and that initial HOW I part runs right through the roughest / strangest part of the grid. That one corner created 80% of my trouble. DUOMO!? (2D: Cathedral of Florence) DEWAR flask!? (3D: ___ flask (thermos)) Yikes and yikes. I had EJECT before EVICT (4D: Kick out). So the overlap of odd phrasing (for symmetry purposes) with bizarro fill made things icky from the jump. Then there was the fact that I kept misreading "PORTMAND..." as "PORTMAND AND" (ugh!) and so kept looking for someone's name on the other side of AND. But on the other side of AND was ATED (?), and *that* area was the *second* roughest part of the grid. LYS!?!?! (27A: River of France and Belgium) My brain didn't trust that ALDO was right (25D: Gucci of fashion), and I could Not figure what kind of "range" was in play at 19D: Things having their home on the range? (TEES). Wanted the context to be the stovetop, not the driving range. Phew. Bottom half of grid way way way easier. No issues except singular SCAD (ugh) (40D: Whole bunch). Wanted SLEW (duh).

[R.I.P. GERI (4) Allen]

No more to say. Quote should've been attributed. Fill could've been better. Moving on.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. The themer clue is painfully inaccurate. A "whimsical celebrity couple"? It's a fictional couple. If I have a "whimsical" sense of humor, that sense of humor Actually Exists ... whereas this couple ... does not. Bizarre.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:42 AM  

Kwong does give credit to his friend Choset on Jeff Chen's xwordinfo site.

Passing Shot 6:47 AM  

I could have sworn I'd seen this pun before; and I thought I'd seen it in a crossword, but I guess not. Goof before FLOP led to grift before FRAUD led to all sorts of problems in the NE. Isn't it a cardinal rule of crosswording that a France Belgium river *must* be "Yser"?

Surprised Rex didn't know DUOMO.

Loren Muse Smith 6:52 AM  

Rex – point well taken on giving someone credit for the joke. Wonder if it’d be possible to track that down. I guess if a joke is widespread enough, it’s a ridiculous thought to try to credit someone, though, right? What’s black and white and read all over? A newspaper (Freeman, 1923). I just made that up, but still.

Whatever the case - I couldn’t disagree more. This is the coolest quip puzzle ever. Ever. I don’t think this deal of marrying two people’s names to get a word is new (Desilu), but the committee who comes up with these must have a lot of fun. BradyBundch, KimYe, Bennifer, TomKat, Billary. . . If my husband and I were famous, we could be “Lard” (Loren/Gardiner).

Bobby Knight + Meryl Streep = KnightMer
Harry Truman + ZaSu Pitts = HarryPitts
Barbara Walters + Anthony Hopkins = BarHop
Jackie Kennedy + Armand Assante… Ok, I’ll stop.

But, BUT - the meta PORTMANTEAU is brilliant, and I don't care who came up with it. I'm just happy that it's now on my radar screen thanks to a puzzle. This one has the added self-referential layer, and That’s. So. Cool. Like Amal Clooney divorcing George and marrying Bryant Gumbel. AmalGum. Hah.

Rex – maybe ‘cause I had CATES in place early on, I saw PORTMANTEAU easily and sussed out the trick with no push-back.

@Passing Shot - I knew DUOMO, too. No idea how, though.

I liked the progression of I WANT YOU to DATED to I DO.

Our family always watched The Rookies back in the ‘70s, and when it was preempted by a JACQUES COUSTEAU special, we were devastated. I told my husband this once, and he said, Funny – JACQUES COUSTEAU was one of the few shows my family ever watched. We stared at each other briefly, shrugged, and went back to our reading our magazine articles– his on Brexit and mine on Brangelina.

David Kwong – you’re one of my all-time favorite constructors. I’ve shared this clip many times, but I never get tired of it. Even my husband, a dyed-in-the-wool nonpuzzler, is stunned by this trick.

QuasiMojo 7:02 AM  

Isn't a quip supposed to be witty or funny or clever? this is the dumbest one I've ever heard. First of all Jacques Cousteau is dead and was born in 1910. Gives me the creeps to think of him "dating" someone born in 1987.

LOUSY puzzle.

QuasiMojo 7:11 AM  

Sorry, she was born in 1981. Typo.

Sir Hillary 7:29 AM  

What a joyless slog. Not a fan of quip puzzles in general, and this one certainly won't change that. The theme is not very funny, and the fill is boring.

Agree with @QuasiMojo on the skeeviness of the whole idea. Maybe she could date a hockey-playing Matteau instead. Or maybe she could sprain her Portmantoe. Or start a car-hauling business called PortmanTow. Yeah, still not funny.

Not much of a week so far.

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

I don't like quote puzzles much though the downs made it fairly easy to suss out except for northwest as OFL pointed out. The play on words was not too funny. On to Thursday.

Two Ponies 7:32 AM  

My goodness I wish I had the sunny attitude of @LMS.
I thought this was horrible.
Was such a convoluted clue necessary for Soap?
That is just the beginning of the unpleasantness.

Glimmergllass 7:38 AM  

The trick or gimmick is not really a joke -- or not a a very good one. It's what the cavalier poets (e.g. John Donne before he got religion) called a "conceit," a whimsical idea, the more farfetched the better. "To a Flea," for example, is about a flea crawling on a beautiful woman's body. I once had a student whose first name was Harley. His mother was divorced and marrid to a man named Davidson. If my student had taken his stepfather's last name, he'd have been . . . (wait for it).

kitshef 7:38 AM  

Not a fan of quips. Thing is, this is an unusually fine quip – one of the best I can recall, but it still dragged the whole puzzle down.

DUOMO/DEWAR/IMAC crosses seem designed for Natick, though I think they are fair as three different areas of knowledge.

Had jimi before ARLO. I’ll happily listen to either one, but I’ll take MCLEAN over either one. Vincent is one of the few songs that can still draw me in like it did the first time I heard it.

When I was a tad the portmanteau joke was done in the form of "if x married y". My favorite of those: If Tuesday Weld married Frederick March the third, she'd be Tuesday March the third.

three of clubs 7:48 AM  

Disliked it at first until I got into the spirit. The whole conceit is over the top ridiculous and the clues are similarly full of verve.

Sissy 7:48 AM  

This quip is like some weird take on "Weekend at Bernie's".
Creeps me out.
Has Jacque been dead long enough to joke about?

John V 7:58 AM  

Clever or not, I hate quip puzzles.

chefbea 7:59 AM  

Did not like the puzzle or the quip. Did not understand things having their home on the range?...tees. Someone explain please

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

I see no evidence that this puzzle was "hate constructed".

Hungry Mother 8:20 AM  

Couldn't let go of "deer" instead of TEES, so DNF.

three of clubs 8:22 AM  

@chefbea TEES go on golf ranges

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Well, how, then? How do you wish?

Was convinced Rex would excoriate this one, ending what seems the rather subdued streak he's got going.

ulysses 8:26 AM  

Puzzle was garbage. Plain and simple. And "sched!?" Really? I have a hard time accepting "sked" as acceptable crosswordese but "sched" is gross.

kitshef 8:27 AM  

@chefbea - golf reference. The TEES are golf tees and the range is a driving range.

In the unlikely event anyone even remembers this in the 24-hour puzzle cycle, I'll note that Finn Vigeland and I did connect off-blog yesterday. Finn was welcoming and enthusiastic and clearly very devoted to his craft.

Nancy 8:50 AM  

Normally I don't like quotation puzzles, but this one was cute and fun to solve. Crunchy enough to hold my attention, but not so difficult as to be frustrating. (And when they're hard, quote puzzles can be very frustrating.)

I never heard of a DEWAR flask, but now I know where DEWARS, the Scotch, gets its name. Or is it vice versa?

Z 8:54 AM  

I got to "Start of a quip...," swore, and went on to interesting puzzles.

A Listener 8:58 AM  

No fun

Rob 9:01 AM  

My biggest complaint about the puzzle, other than the terrible, unfunny quip, was the Natick at 31A/32D (ALAIN/LARA). I was able to guess it -- L at least made a plausible name in both directions -- but the fill here is not good enough to merit a cross like that.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

MB said -
I really, really wanted GOOF, GRIFT, and FEAR in the NE. But that totally messed up NEUTER. But it all worked with ODIE and RIDE! After I fixed that and got VEE it was ACED. I can't CARP, the theme wasn't LOUSY i liked it very much, thank you.

Nate 9:04 AM  

I haaaate "Quip" puzzles... but when this one clicked, I actually kinda liked it. Got a "heh" from me, which is all I need when I'm half awake and doing my morning crossword.

The majority of this puzzle was totally fine (hey, SSN instead of IDNO deserves some praise). There's really no interesting long downs or acrosses because of the long quip, which is a shame, because usually those are my favorite clues in the puzzle. I learned the definition of ASSAY, which is a word that I guess I've always known but not really known, so that was nice. I WANT YOU was good.

Things I did not like: SCHED. That's a nonword word, but hey, better than "sked!" *shUDDER*... NEUTER doesn't make any sense to me. I googled it afterwords, and it turns out that it's an actual thing and not a made-up crosswordese abbreviation for "neutral". Alrighty then! Good to know. I feel like GUNMEN could have been clued better. I was looking for something... mobbier?

Okay, last one... what in the world does VEE mean in that context? I have quite literally no idea.

Cass Garnet 9:09 AM  

If Al Franken ran for president on a ticket with Jill Stein, that would make quite a monster.

SouthsideJohnny 9:12 AM  

Nate - VEE as in Victory Sign.

Hartley70 9:13 AM  

Good Golly Ms. @Loren..That David Kwong video was terrific! I could only be more impressed if he had levitated and started dusting the corners of the ceiling.

I finished the puzzle before I watched the video so my review isn't colored by my slavish admiration. I got a kick out of the quip and thought it was a perfect Wednesday selection. The only answer that gave me pause was DEWAR because I was a Johnny Walker girl myself. I hadn't seen this quip before and I got it before most of the fill was completed so at that point I finished quickly. Good fun!

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Awful puzzle No enjoyment at all in this one.

GILL I. 9:30 AM  

Such vitriol for a puzzle full of mimsy. I let out a chortle when I finished the quip.
I don't normally like quips but I had fun with this. It also helps that I love Lewis Carroll and I loved watching Aye Calypso Jacques Cousteau and American Pie was one of my favorite songs.
Wed. fun. I'll take Cutty Sark.

Nate 9:32 AM  

I still don't understand what a "victory sign" is and how one does one with their hands. Guh.

GHarris 9:34 AM  

Any puzzle I can complete relatively quickly with only one write over (I first had fail for flop), and was able to schuss names I didn't know, and have Rex label it medium challenging, is a fun romp and a triumph for me.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Wow. Lot of hate in here this morning.
I'm with LMS. I enjoyed it. Thanks Mr. Kwong.

(And in the who the heck cares department...Thank you Will. I've been adding an h to sync for the 28 years I've been in film. Seems I've been wrong my whole career and I've been surrounded by folks too kind to call me on it. )

RAD2626 9:44 AM  

I thought the quip and puzzle were great and that the criticism of Rex was as convoluted as the NW corner. My issue is probably equally convoluted. Is it really a PORTMANTEAU when you use her entire name and half of his? I actually found it jarring which probably speaks much more to my issues than the constructor's.

Stanley Hudson 9:47 AM  

Warren Zevon, R.E.M., and the Hindu Love Gods sing about Jacques Cousteau.

kitshef 9:50 AM  

@Nate - what you may think of as a peace sign - arm up, index and middle fingers pointing up, thumb, ring and pinky fingers down - is also known as the VEE sign.

Churlish Nabob 9:57 AM  

Does anyone remember Finn Vigeland?

Wm. C. 10:03 AM  

@LMS -- Tnx for the link to the David Kwong crossword trick. I can't believe it's possible to do that, even if he had a few hours to do the construction, and even that doesn't explain how he knew the eight of hearts was picked, So I've gotta believe that the deck of cards he has was ALL eights of hearts, and that he had the puzzle pre-constructed.

I've visited il Duomo, and all the other fantastic sites in Firenze. Our family stayed three nights at a B&B a few miles out of the city as part of a three-week car vacation, mostly in northern Italy, although we started in Vienna (meeting my daughter at end of her semester abroad), and ended in Nice. planned the itinerary and made reservations 6-months in advance. Florence was clearly the highlight of our trip.

@Nate -- Extend your forefinger and middle finger while tucking in your thumb and other fingers, making a V-sign. Like Winston Churchill, with a big fat stogie in his mouth and a smile on his face.

DJG 10:03 AM  

Love the joke, but I was quite disappointed to learn it wasn't original. (The constructor does attribute it to a friend, but he doesn't say where the friend got it.)

It's in that weird gray area of attribution, where it's not old enough to claim as a "public" joke. But it's also probably not known who exactly came up with it first.

Charles in Austin 10:10 AM  

Thank you, LOREN MUSE SMITH (6:52 AM), for your elegant and tasteful comments.

Your really got it -- and appreciated its charm. I wouldn't expect anything less from an avowed lover of paraprosdokians!

jberg 10:10 AM  

I kind of liked it -- but then, I'm recently back from a vacation in Italy, where DUOMOs are everywhere. I particularly liked this striped one in Siena.

@Nancy, I thought of the scotch connection too -- but who would want to put scotch in a thermos? It seems to be a different DEWAR. Also, the James Dewar who invented the vacuum flask is not connected to the James Dewar who invented the Twinkie.

I was about to argue that the 48D clue was wrong, but figured it out just as I started to type my complaint -- the "Elite Eight winners" are four teams, not eight. Doh!

@Hungry Mother -- I, too, had dEEr out there on the range, and almost resorted to googling Ms. PORTMAN to see if she spelled her first name wrong; but just in time I noticed the question mark in the clue, and puzzled it out.

@Loren, thanks for the video clip, that was impressive indeed!

Brian 10:11 AM  

With across quips it is faster to do all down clues first. Then most all is revealed. Easy=75% of my average

Nate 10:12 AM  

Thanks for the help on the VEE sign thing, folks. I always thought that was a peace sign? New one for me...

Naryana Gora 10:13 AM  

I find these types of puzzles difficult, you need the downs to get the acrosses, there is no back and forth.

I looked up DUOMO to finish, the NW was tough.

Back when Ronnie Lott played for the 49ers the joke went like this, if Pia Zadora married Ronnie Lott, she would then be Pia Lott. Funny, then.

Tom 10:17 AM  

Agree with Anonymous @9:39. What a bunch of grumps! Go someplace else and do a Sudoku.

Two Ponies 10:18 AM  

Wow! Thanks @Loren for the video link. Amazing good fun.

I also think @RAD2626 may have a point about what makes a true portmanteau.

Joseph Michael 10:28 AM  

I thought this was udderly delightful in spite of the fact that I don't usually like puzzles with quips or themes with repeated words.

However, it's the quip that's whimsical not the celebrity couple.

Had a hell of a time in the NW with DEWAR and DUOMO crossing UDDER and NUEVO and began to wonder if today was really only Tuesday.

Had no idea what George Orwell's alma mater might be, but given the four blanks figured it had to be ETON, the reigning school of Crossworld, just as OREO is its favorite cookie and ACNE, its most common ailment.

seems appropriate, but a singular SCAD feels off. Also thought that the clue for AREAS was trying too hard.

But all in all a fun puzzle by a master magician.

Rita 10:42 AM  

@Nate -- Google Victory sign Nixon to see some classic images. And, yes, it is also a peace sign.

jb129 10:47 AM  

I thought it was cute & (surprise!) & got it pretty quickly too.

Good puzzle, David Kwong

chefbea 10:48 AM  

Make sure you watch the video over at xword info. David kwong doing a magic trick

AZPETE 11:00 AM  

Guess I don't know how to spell portmanteau or Phoebe's last name so a DNF. Still liked it tho.

Robert A. Simon 11:05 AM  

I like quip puzzles because they demand another skill, i.e., sussing out words in phrases with (lots of) letters missing, à la "Wheel of Fortune." The best training ground is Acrostics. On top of the whole puzzle itself being a 180-letter-ish quote, back when Charles H. Middleton was the NYT Acrostic constructor, one of the clues was always itself a quote, often a quite lengthy one. So I had no trouble with the puzzle today, outside of the aforementioned DEER/tees trap.

Here's an absolutely true story about that. Twenty years ago, I'm at the LAX United Club. I see a group of about ten watching "Wheel of Fortune" on the TV. It had just started. I find a seat. Five minutes later, another guy sits down. Late twenties. Thin. Says, "How about ten bucks a person on the final bonus puzzle?" Well, yeah! Immediately, four others also want in, so it's a sixty-dollar pot.

C'mon! I do three acrostics a week. I watch "Wheel" almost every day. I'm already in the book store spending my winnings.

So it's time for the final puzzle. Pat says it's a "thing." R,S,T,L,N,and E are filled in, and we're looking at:

_ N _ _ _ _ _ _ E _
_ _ _ T _ _ N _ R _

Before the contestant can even spit out his three additional consonants and a vowel, the guy says, "Unabridged Dictionary."
We all do a head turn in perfect Bob Fosse unison and stare at him. He shrugs his shoulders, smiles a little like he's embarrassed he won, goes to the coffee table and picks up his winnings. I ask him, "What do you do for a living?" figuring he's an English Professor at, like, Brown. He smiles again and says, "I'm a cryptographer for the NSA," and exits.

Now that may have been a bunch of hooey, but I've always hoped it was true.

Jeff Anderson 11:05 AM  

I just really dislike quote puzzles and joke puzzles like these. Any quote or quip broken into multiple parts I can do without. However, as soon as I write that I remember my favorite all time constructors, Henry Rathvon and Emily Cox, frequently do those types of puzzles. Whatever.

RooMonster 11:10 AM  

Hey All !
Add me to the group who liked this puz. I had thought Will didn't accept quip puzs anymore. Good on David for this one.

That video @LMS showed was amazing! Wow, to put audience themers in grid, fill in Acrosses and Downs with words that are actual words, and get a functioning, symmetrical puz with the picked card hidden in is just mind blowing. Construction on steroids.

This puz gave a chuckle. No CARPS about it. Lots of U's for our Resident cinnamon bun devourer. Agree North section was tougher than South. Like some before me, wanted gRist/goOf in NE, messing things up a tad. NW difficult!

Some neat clues, IDO, e.g. Nice one, Mr. Kwong.


Alicia Stetson 11:10 AM  

What id Ella Fitzgerald married Darth Vader?

Jonathan 11:14 AM  

Without a doubt, one of the stupidest, most annoying puzzles I've ever had the lack of pleasure to complete. There should be some delight in discovering a themer that so dominates the puzzle-- and instead: a mystifying, deadly dull joke. I'm shocked Rex let it off so easily.

Hartley70 11:24 AM  

@Robert A. Simon 11:05am, that story was the best I'll hear all week!

Joe Bleaux 12:05 PM  

(I hope you don't regret his being a nonpuzzler as much as I do my wife's lack on interest in my daily diversion.)

Masked and Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Really like Ms. Portman [aka Queen Padme Amidala!] and also Mr. Cousteau [aqua-lung pioneer!]. Alternate portmanteau = pad me jock?

Man, a body needed one big-ass magic wand to break into that NW openin nanosecond-drenched slugfest. Quip/NUEVO/DUOMO/DEWAR? har. (M&A prefers to pass around de peace flask, btw.) I don't quite know if the NW had truly desperate fillins or not, but it sure did make M&A start to feel desperate, tryin to solve em. Magically made my initial WedPuz-level confidence disappear, Mr. Kwong.

MTGS is pretty much straightforward desperate, so I can admire it more readily. staff weejecta pick: UNE. Honrable mention to the LYE & LYS twins.

Kind of a challengin solvequest, due to that NW territory. And due to havin no idea where the quip was comin from or goin to, for a spell. Eventually, things sorta sorted themselves out, and IQS at our house improved. Overall, I'd rate the puz medium. Quip theme is fine by m&e, as an occasional change of pace. Variety in all things keeps yer wits twitchin.

Thanx, Mr. Kwong. Primo U-count. Glass of PORT was MANDATED, after puzzlin out that NW corner, tho.

Masked & Anonymo10Us


Joe Bleaux 12:20 PM  

Hold up two fingers, as in a peace sign ✌️

newspaperguy 12:30 PM  

I didn't mind the puzzle at all, though I thought the "quip" was as silly as the pun. No need at all to attribute a phrase like this, something that anyone who plays with words could (and probably did before the one Rex quoted) come up with. Sometimes the criticisms are so inane that I wonder if they actually come from an adult.

old timer old timer 12:32 PM  

One of those brilliant puzzles that teaches something knew to a guy who thought he knew it all. DEWAR flask = a thermos. I looked it up, it was named after it's inventor, named DEWAR. (No connection to the famous brand of Scotch I don't think).

The other: DUOMO. Obviously the Italian word for "dome" and in fact the most well-known DUOMO, in Firenze, is a domed church. I never knew until today that this has become a name for all cathedrals in Italy, domed or not, or at least the name for those cathedrals whose parishoners have chosen to call a DUOMO. Can you think of another famous domed church in Italy? Of course you can, St. Peter's in Rome. Which is (a) never called a DUOMO and (b) not a cathedral. The Cathedral there is St. John Lateran, which (a) has no dome and (b) is also never called a DUOMO. Well worth a visit though. Popes have been saying Mass there for something like 1700 years, though the current church is the successor of two or three others that were destroyed by earthquake or fires. It is the "mother and head of all the churches in the world" -- or at least of those churches that pay allegiance to the Pope.

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

Note to @LMS: you’ll love today’s WSJ puzzle.

I missed Fast Times at Ridgemont High when it came out, so I checked out the DVD from the library. The Phoebe CATES swimming pool scene had been replayed in slo-mo so many times that it would barely (pun intended) play.

This puzzle had too much PPP for my taste, but I enjoyed the PORTMANTEAU portmanteau.

Joe Bleaux 12:43 PM  

The number of CARPS about this Kwong quipper is, um, puzzling. Hey, it's a Wednesday, and it was a notch above the typical midweek same-old. But anyone can fault something about any puzzle (Rex is right about "whimsical couple," for instance, and I don't like the "Sierra OS" kind of clue, but ... ) To the DEWAR flask-inspired (so early!) references to Walker and Cutty, I'll add that my favorite everyday Scotch is The Famous Grouse. (Quick ... any fearless leading blogger come to mind?)

tea73 1:03 PM  

I hate quip puzzles, but really enjoyed this one. DUOMO was a gimme. My last erasure was DEER, so that the northeast could finally fall into place.

Love the NSA story. My husband is just a biologist but once figured out the first three words of an acrostic from just this:

_O_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ E _

Any takers?

Chip Hilton 1:06 PM  

Yes, kind of challenging, but in a fun way. I like the quip and will accept that the constructor credited it elsewhere. What really ticks me off is Rex deciding a clue or answer is sub-standard because he can't get it. The DUOMO in Florence is one of the best known structures in the world. HOW I as the start to the quip is just fine. I didn't care for DEWAR but I'm guessing lots of solvers knew it. Geez, man, grow up.

tea73 1:09 PM  

Rats. The HTML pushed all my dashes together. Here we go again.

_O_ _ _ / _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ E _

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

To be or not to be setting
Elsinore is a castle
The soliloquy took place
In a graveyard

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

Plenty of CARPS for me today - I had to drive to work due to it raining cats and dogs this morning. 40 feet out of the garage, the low tire pressure icon came on so it was back to the garage. Back on the road, I turned onto my usual route only to slap my forehead, remembering the detour. This added 2 miles to my route. I stupidly took a "shortcut" which has to be the most wash-boarded gravel road south of Hinkley (hi @Kathy of the Tower). The morning never really improved from that nadir, and then I get a "quip" puzzle on top of it all. Groan.

I had UDDER NUEVO crossing EVICT ROW when I had to DEcamp from the NW. I almost never read theme clues until I get a few answers in, even when it's not a quip puzzle, so I didn't even know it was a quip puzzle until I had MANDA in at 23A. I wrote in JACQUESCOUSTEAU off the CQUESC. Ran back from ELSINORE to find NATALIE and I wrote in PORTMANTEAU off the O of ELSINORE. So the joke fell into place fairly easily but getting the gist and then just having to mop up the HOW I WISH and SOICOULDCALL made the payoff not quite as fun as it might have been.

My silly writeover was at 13D. Looking at 10A, I speculated that "Lay an egg" would be "bomb". LILT and ODIE gave me FLOP but I bombed on writing it in, as FLOb. I was wondering what bEER pressure was alluding to at 13D. But I did fix that before I finished.

I can't LYE, I found this fairly entertaining. Thanks, David Kwong.

chefbea 1:26 PM  

As long as we are discussing scotch...I prefer J&B

DigitalDan 1:35 PM  

Medium hard until I started on the downs. So many obvious short downs that the skeleton was readily formed, after which the rest fell into place. The quip is funny, I don't care who you are.

G. Weissman 1:42 PM  

Naticked by 27A/25D.

Anoa Bob 1:50 PM  

PORTMANTEAU is a word nerd's delight. And making PORTMANTEAU a portmanteau itself would be doubly delightful. I'm in the camp, however, that thinks that having to combine the name of someone who was 71 years old when the person who is the other half of the combo was born, and then having them date each other, having them become an item, like BRANGELINA or BENNIFER, is just too forced, and unnaturally so.

And, as with every quip puzzle I've seen, if you don't cotton to the quip, there's not much left. It eats up so much real estate that, as happens here, you're left with desultory 3X3 and 4X4 sections, and that diagonal cascade of threes. Hard to breathe any life in those. And so the fill can become a joyless slog.

At least the clue for 14A NUEVO wasn't "Prospero Ano ___"! And today we get a true cornerstone of contemporary psychology, Nobelist IVAN Pavlov at 18D. Did you know that he did not use a bell in his laboratory studies with dogs? He said he tried that at first, but the dogs became very agitated and upset at its sound. So he decided to use the sound of a metronome as the conditioned stimulus rather than the bell. Yes, it's Pavlov's metronome, not Pavlov's bell.

Speaking of PORTMANTEAU, here's Red Hot Chili Pepper's Californication. I'm not a gamer, but after watching this video, I might look into it.

Marge 2:28 PM  

Winston Churchill....

Ralph 2:34 PM  

"Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play
..." _ee_. The clue: "Things having their home on the range?" TEES, not DEER! I call foul.

Anonymous 2:35 PM  


Mark McClain 2:45 PM  

Just to set the record straight SCHED is a valid dictionary abbreviation for SCHEDULE, so clued as it was, it is totally legit. If you don't like abbreviations, fine, but this isn't a non-word.

Anonymous 3:05 PM  


Maybe you know duomo from The Silence of the Lambs.
In one of their exchanges Starling remarks on Lecter's Art work.
Lecter bites, accepts the compliment and the audience sees the drawing.
Lecter: "It's the duomo as viewed from ( some place in Florence I cant recall)
Starling probes: "All that detail from memory?
Lector answers" Memory is what I have instead of a view

Anyway, the drawing is as exquisite a rendering of the structure as I've ever seen. And while you read the word duomo often enough, it's one of the vew times ive heard it spoken.

Jessica 3:24 PM  

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Anonymous 3:46 PM  

@Ralph there's no foul on TEES.That's just misdirection. The ? in the clue tells you that the answer is not the obvious answer, but instead is something more clever. As a professional magician, David Kwong probably takes even more delight in misdirection that most constructors.

feckless moron 3:52 PM  

Wow! I'd sure like to get back together with a spouse that cheated on me and abandoned me and with whom life was constant quarrels. Sign me up!

Trombone Tom 3:56 PM  

Well,now that @Jessica has had her say, back to the puzzle. This was truly a polarizing puzzle. I'm kind of amazed at how often the word "hate" appears regarding quips (or any other popular target).

I thought this was a rather cleverly constructed "quip" puzzle. I mean, c'mon, no one is positing the two celebs as a real couple. This is supposed to be fun and games. I'll admit to being a big fan of nearly all word games.

I'm often a little surprised at the areas of OFL's lack of knowledge, like IL DUOMO. But that's one of the interesting aspects of Xwords; our individual "wheelhouses." He excels, and I'm hopeless, in modern bands and singers.

I found this more on the easy side; definitely not challenging. Thank you Messrs. Kwong and Shortz for a fine Wednesday.

Alexander 3:59 PM  

Am I the only one who first put in 'Fart' for 10A?

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

Markets up bigly again. Nothing to hate about that.

Glimmerglass 4:19 PM  

@anon 1:11. No, 3 i is not in the graveyard.It's in the castle.

Mohair Sam 4:22 PM  

C'mon folks, the payoff was worth putting up with a quip puzzle. The portmanteau is portmanteau, how cool is that? - I mean, c'mon.

@Robert A. Simon - The guy probably wasn't NSA, but who cares - great story.

@sissy (7:48) - "Has Jacques been dead long enough to joke about?" - You must not be Irish. Fifteen, maybe twenty minutes is long enough wait to poke fun at the corpse in my world.

@Kitshef - I did Finn Vigeland's puzzle after reading your post. It was more fun than the original for me, amazing considering the haste with which he put it together. I've gained a bit of sympathy for old Will Shortz however. Can you imagine the submissions he gets from these young guns with answers like EATME, and cluing OTHELLO as a play not being protested by "right-wing lunatics". Hence they hate Will for not being hip. btw, @Evil hit it on the head when he said constructors rely on rappers and Star Trek - in Finn's haste he had three rap clues (plus one SIA) and one Trek star. Still, it was a fun puzz - and the GROUCHO quote clue won my heart.

OISK 4:52 PM  

In dear Milano, where are you Momo?
still selling those pictures of the scriptures in the Duomo? (from Kiss me Kate. ) Enjoyed this one, despite cross of Lara with Alain, both unfamiliar to me.

Pete 5:06 PM  

So, how is relying on a rap artist's name such as sin when today's puzzle was built in large part around NATALIE PORTMAN? Let's think a minute...
Ooh! Ooh! - I got it! Pretty White Girl's name vs Black Man's name.

jae 5:28 PM  

Mostly easy for me but the tough NW (@M&A) pushed it up to medium. Count me among those not that fond of quip puzzles, but this one was kind of amusing/goofy if you ignore the creepy age factor...speaking of which I highly recommend "Beautiful Girls" one of Ms. PORTMAN's early films.

Liked it.

Mohair Sam 6:19 PM  

@Pete - Two of the three rappers in Finn's puzzle were women. But nice try.

Anonymous 6:44 PM  


Thank you. Thank you. Thanks you.

For all of it, but especially for telling Sissy how it is in certain circles.

Everyone else, stop reading.
After his two HRS last night, and Caesars injury, is Kingry the first call up!?

Joseph Welling 7:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph Welling 7:37 PM  

@ anonymous 1:11 pm

You're think of the "Alas, poor Yorick" scene

Daniel 7:40 PM  

This! Needs to be some shared letter or at least both names as fragments. Otherwise it's Portman with a tumor.

Mohair Sam 7:49 PM  

@Anon (6:46) - I've got 'Pigs tix Saturday night, I'll let you know
if we oughta trade Cesar Hernandez (maybe my favorite Philly). Nick Williams has all the tools, just can't take a pitch. Rhys Hoskins is a pleasure to watch at the plate, OBP near .400 with 17 homers - he just plays the wrong position. Tough to be a Phillies fan these days.

Anonymous 8:08 PM  

Corrine Brown.

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

Anonymous 8:08

Anonymous 9:08 PM  

I'm half generation younger than you ( I think) which means the 1961 Phils are about your earliest memory. That was the last season of 100 losses. I think we're headed for another.
I haven't been to Lehigh Valley this year (though I did manage Lakewood a day before you) but the "kids" aren't wowing me with their stats. Please tell me they're better than their numbers.

To everyone else, especially the usual inmates, thanks for indulging me. MOHAIR's bona fides (and graciousnesss) are well known. I know anonymice arent even worth the key strokes to smack em down.

(Go Phils)

BarbieBarbie 9:43 PM  

WOW I was going to take some time and contribute a well-written, thoughtful post, but now I need to save that time for DR UNITY!! Sorry guys!!

Clark 11:36 PM  

This is what I think of as the quintessential victory sign. (I mean the Churchill photos, but there are some other good photos there too.)

Rony @ catbird 8:14 AM  

I see you daniel.

Andrew Heinegg 12:45 PM  


Andrew Heinegg 12:45 PM  


Cathy Luis 7:58 PM  

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Anonymous 3:07 AM  

I am amazed at the precise detail that was given during my reading. I am even more grateful for the detail given in my journey.Lord Afar assisted in the transformation of my life from rags to riches. I am forever grateful and will never ever forget this journey. If you want results; (

spacecraft 10:48 AM  

One great big fat HUH??? Am I supposed to KNOW this stuff? Some cathedral in Florence? The name of a flask? What the hell "Sierra OS" is, let alone "What might run" it--or them??? Oh, and now we come to the famous (???????) Whoever-DeBotton who wrote "The Architecture of Happiness." I can tell you what happiness is NOT built of: quote puzzles with tons of impossible fill that appear on--of all days--a Wednesday. This is ridiculous. Way, WAY DNF. Or, as a frequent anonymous contributor often says, a "pisser." Next.

Burma Shave 11:03 AM  


SOICOULDCALL myself her beau.
I’d DEWAR a service and UDDER, “IWANTYOU


thefogman 11:05 AM  

My final squares were filled by googling to double check the spelling for DEWAR flask which begat IMAC and completed DUOMO which almost Naticked me. BTW, Can Natick be used as a verb? I find it remarkable that the constructor managed to run this clever theme across 15 squares three times and 12 squares twice.

thefogman 11:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 11:24 AM  

PS - Even though his smash hit American Pie is forever stuck in our heads, I had to reflect to remember it was Don MCLEAN who wrote and performed the song. He's like what's his name who accompanied Annie Lennox on the Eurythmics. Everyone knows who you mean but can't remember his darn name.

rondo 12:00 PM  

Feeling good about no write-overs, but the quippage made me spend some time at it. Not a whole lot was going in up top but I found JACQUESCOUSTEAU in the middle and then the end of the quip which found me the beginning of the quip and a buncha answers came in by crosses.

There was some DEWAR’s scotch talk above. Even when I asked the waitress at an Edinburgh outdoor patio for their smoothest whisky (not whiskey), I thought the taste was EVEL. Scotch is not for me; Jim BEAM’S more to my liking.

Star of the quip is yeah baby NATALIE PORTMAN followed closely by yeah babies LARA Logan and Phoebe CATES. If LARA Logan DATED Halle Berry . . . well, gimme THEM Loganberries.

IDO not normally like a quipuz, but I almost smiled at said quip. Did not find this puz LOUSY.

Teedmn 12:08 PM  

@BurmaShave, Bravo for today's "quip". The last line is perfect!

leftcoastTAM 12:18 PM  

Yeah, getting the quip figured out was the key to putting this one to rest. It's kinda cute, but it's also a little strained and not really a knee slapper. Still, it was challenging enough for Wednesday.

The NW corner put up some resistance with the DUOMO-DEWAR duo, and the crossing quip lines helped there. LYS needed its own crosses too.

Nothing to CARP about here.

BS2 12:22 PM  

I believe that the verse count for consecutive days has passed the 900 mark with +/- 950 total (since every so often a day may have multples). That means that somewhere around Veteran’s Day (should I get there) it would be 1000 days in a ROW. Thanks for your patience.

rain forest 1:26 PM  

I wonder if "fleurs de Lys" is a reference to the river LYS, which I didn't know (but do now), and which was part of my DNF because I *knew* that dEEr play on the range along with the antelope and hence made the incorrect assumption that Ms PORTMAN spelled her name with a "D". Damn.

Anyhoo, despite that stupidity, I liked figuring out the quote with POERTMANTEAU describing itself as well as ending the quote.

DUOMO and DEWAR were gimmes, so I had no trouble in the NW which makes my DNF even more galling. At least I didn't have a SCAD of errors (can you say that?), but I do wonder if there is a river in France/Belgium called the Lyr.

@Burma Shave - Continued impressivosity, especially that last line of today's poem. Think you could get into Guinness?

Diana,LIW 1:48 PM  

Once again, starting in the lower half paid off with a revealer of sorts - mucho help with the quip.

Don't generally adore quip puzzles, esp. one with 5 lines, but this one was sussable. And I, like LMS, kinda liked the double "joke." (PORTMANTEAU)

Speaking of words, @Foggy from yesterday - I've been pronouncing acai incorrectly - thanks for the new info.

Had just a one-letter dnf by misspelling DoWAR and NUoVO. duh Bill Butler's site explains whence the name - from 1892 no less. Talk about skewing old.

Dumped in DUOMO early on - very famous church in Firenze, and star of the movie "A Room with a View." The DUOMO is the view. Great movie to watch as a travelogue. Used a book about it's construction, Brunelleschi's Dome, in one of our core philosophy courses.

I've learned to note the OS clue - operating system - so knew that was some kind of computer.

Have we seen LYS before as a river? I really should start keeping a list.

Day 6 and counting for our roofers. Still not a single shingle. They got called away to another job early today. Tomorrow we should see the dumpster leave our driveway. Picked up 19 nails in the driveway yesterday.

@BS - do you find yourself thinking in rhymes during the rest of the day?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

thefogman 2:09 PM  

@Diana,LIW - With regards to the riddle I posted yesterday - Sound of disappointment - your answer NORA, though not the answer I was looking for, is worthy of a sincere bravo.

Longbeachlee 2:20 PM  

@ LMS. Go ahead and be the better half of LARD. You're famous in my little world.

BS3 2:41 PM  

@rainforest - I get into a Guinness whenever I get a chance, especially on St. Pat's Day.

Larry Jordan 2:53 PM  

Where I live WoF is on one
channel @7:00 and a different
channel @ 7:30.Same show.

BS4 2:53 PM  

@Diana, LIW -
No, I wouldn't try to live that way,
I couldn't possibly do it,
if I went around like that all day,
and had gum I'd not be able to chew it.

Enough from me.

Scott McLean 12:15 PM  

(No relation to Don)

Count me among the haters of this one.
You have JACQUES COUSTEAU spanning the grid right in the middle. What a wonderful opportunity for a fun under-the-sea theme or something, in tribute to one of the greatest and most famous ocean explorers of all time!
Instead, we get a lame joke about a "couple" with a 71-year age difference. Ick.

Add in some truly, truly terrible fill (MTGS, SCHED, SSN, LYS) and a Natick-y cross at ALAIN/LARA to drag it down even further, and you end up with a thoroughly joyless slog.

This was 53-down.

Blogger 8:27 AM  

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