Otis's feline pal / WED 9-13-17 / Fizzy citrus beverage / 1787 Mozart composition / Repeated Lyric in La Bamba

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Constructor: Daniel Mauer

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: THE LITTLE THINGS (62A: They're what really count, so it's said ... or a hint to the multilingual answers to the starred clues) — three phrases begin with foreign terms for "a/the little"

Theme answers:
  • LE PETIT DEJEUNER (17A: *Breakfast, in Burgundy)
  • EINE KLEINE / NACHTMUSIK (23A: *With 52-Across, 1787 Mozart composition)
  • UNA POCA DE GRACIA (40A: *Repeated lyric in "La Bamba") 
Word of the Day: ORANGINA (41D: Fizzy citrus beverage) —
Orangina (French pronunciation: ​[ɔʁɑ̃ʒina]) is a lightly carbonated beverage made from carbonated water, 12% citrus juice, (10% from concentrated orange, 2% from a combination of concentrated lemon, concentrated mandarin, and concentrated grapefruit juices) as well as 2% orange pulp. Orangina is sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup (glucose-fructose) and natural flavors are added. // Orangina was invented at a trade fair in France, developed by Dr. Augustin Trigo Mirallès from Spain, and first sold in French Algeria by Léon Beton in 1935. Today it is a popular beverage in Europe, Japan, northern Africa, and to a lesser extent in North America. (emph. mine) (wikipedia)
• • •

This one was feeling stuffy from 1A: Hairdressers' challenges (MOPS). Something about that slang feels strangely dated to me—something you'd say about some Dennis the Menace-type's hair in the '50s. You'd probably also call the kid "impish." The kid would play marbles. You get my drift. But that was just a harbinger, an omen, boding ... not evidence of stuffiness. Evidence came later in an onslaught of overfamiliar short gunk (or OMRI, as I'm now calling it, for the second day in a row). This puzzle is seriously awash in it. HOTSY *and* EENIE? And then a dozen other things I've seen scores of times in the 25+ years I've been solving? (OPEL! SRI! Multiple OLES!) Sigh. But the theme? What of the charming theme, you maybe ask. Well it just doesn't work. I don't know why sticking the landing doesn't appear to be important to people. But it's important. It is. And LE PETIT DEJEUNER just doesn't work here, for at least two reasons. First, the other two are "a little" where this one is "the little." Yes, that matters. But what matters more is that the other two translate perfectly as "a little" (A Little Night Music, a little bit of grace), whereas no one but no one would translate LE PETIT DEJEUNER as "the little lunch" (though that is the *literal* meaning of those words). It's just ... breakfast. Also, why are these multilingual? And why doesn't the revealer have any relation to multilinguality? This just isn't tight. It's a slim idea, meekly executed. It does have I AM SO DEAD, which, ironically, is the answer that is in the least amount of trouble with me.

Here's a little more trouble for you, re: 24D: McDonald's founder Ray:

Wikipedia concurs, noting that, "It was founded in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald, in San Bernardino, California." And also: "Controversially, Kroc would present himself as the founder of McDonald's during his later life" (emph. mine both times). Can't wait for the correction on that one. Wife just walked in, indignant about HOTSY. "Who says HOTSY-totsy? Have you ever said HOTSY-totsy?" I was like, "No, but I think I know what it means." But then I didn't. Ugh, HOTSY. Anyway, one upside of this puzzle is I solved it fast. EINE KLEINE / NACHTMUSIK was a lot of real estate to just give away, and the grid was chopped up into tiny, easy-to-get answers, so I finished in about the same time I had yesterday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:05 AM  

This seemed like it should be hard but it turned out easy-medium for me. I was familiar with two of the three phrases and the fill was pretty easy.

Surprising fun fact: EINE KLEINE NACHT MUSIK means A Little Serenade not A Little Night Music if Jeff Chen is to be believed.

This one gets kudos from me for being so off the wall, liked it much more than @Rex did.

jae 12:12 AM  

...and I've said HOTSY-Totsy but not recently, it may be an age thing.

The movie The Founder with Michael Keaton playing Kroc is excellent and accurately portrays Ray as a major A-hole.

tbd88 12:13 AM  

The musical terms Nachtmusik, Nocturne/Notturno, Serenade, all have similar origins: music that is played in the evening as light entertainment, often outdoors. Calling it "Night Music" is more literal, but less idiomatic.

George Barany 12:14 AM  

Interesting point-of-view, @Rex. For what it's worth, this appears to be @Daniel Mauer's New York Times crossword constructing debut, so kudos to that. I found it amusing that yesterday's Roman numerology lesson continues today with the clues for III (38-Down) and TEN (65-Down).

Dawn 12:19 AM  

I liked the puzzle fine, but the title for *Gandhi* is Mahatma, not SRI. This is like cluing the title for MLK, Jr. as "Mr." instead of "Rev."...technically correct but just tone deaf culturally. You could argue we're talking about any Gandhi and not the most famous bearer of that name, but it's a stretch.

Dan M 12:41 AM  

Hi all, constructor here :) Had a feeling the fill might not exactly make Rex do jumping jacks, and I can't argue with *too* much of his criticism there. The themers were pretty constraining, and it took several revisions (and a good chunk of help from Jeff Chen, who was awfully generous with his time and assistance) to get it over the hump.

Anyway, that said... I love the theme (and am definitely not biased about that), and was pretty happy I managed to get I AM SO DEAD in there :) maybe next time around I'll make the Rex Parker Approved list, but for the time being I'm just extremely excited about the whole thing. Cheers all!

Jyqm 12:49 AM  

Rex's complaints about how the themers would be translated simply reveals that he doesn't actually know what he's talking about - or at least doesn't know German. To complain that the French answer doesn't work because it wouldn't be translated that way, while ignoring the fact that the now-standard translation of the Mozart title is itself incredibly stilted and not accurate - well, what else have we come to expect, really?

Trombone Tom 1:07 AM  

Definitely on the easy side, but a fun LITTLE puzzle nevertheless. Liked it more than @Rex did. I think the themers came together just fine. And since this was Daniel Mauer's first NYT puzzle I give him kudos and look forward to more from him.

Back in the day of the hi fi the RIAA response curve was a big deal. Now we see those initials in another context.

For a somewhat tougher puzzle that gave me a lot of pleasure I recommend a look at the Wednesday WSJ offering from David Alfred Bywaters (love that name!).

Bryce 1:21 AM  

I thought the theme was fantastic, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to know the actual words to La Bamba. It's not "a mouth of thanks" (una boca de gracias)??? Nicely done Dan.

Paul Rippey 1:28 AM  

Totally enjoyable. Didn't know La Bamba lyric but asked my wife who got it instiand everything else fell quickly into place.

Paul Rippey 1:28 AM  

Instantly and

Larry Gilstrap 1:37 AM  

Oddly enough, LITTLE THINGS was my nickname in college, so I had that going for me. Also, I have studied both French and Spanish; German, not so much, but Mozart is still very popular. How dumb were we? I must have heard "La Bamba" a thousand times before I realized it was in Spanish. Sad to say.

That NW corner had me scrambling to move vowels around. I assume I'm done there. Paper solver, here.

There's a new movie brewing about the epic construction of the Oxford English Dictionary. Watch this space!

OMG! The constructor actually performs the walk of shame through this blog's comment section! Trust me, regulars love when that happens, at least I do. Real puzzle fans hold constructors in awe.

I practice yoga, and I highly recommend the physical and mental discipline that results. We use Classical Indian music as the soundtrack. Pandora is a place to start. Last spring we attended a performance of a sitar concerto by the LA Phil featuring Anoushka Shankar with the orchestra under the direction of Zubin MEHTA who wrote the piece with Ravi Shankar. It was like watching music history. Actually, we were watching music history. Great show!

Chris Jones 1:59 AM  

Nice job Dan! I usually agree with Rex but I enjoyed this one for a mix of modern and old clues. Nice level of theming for a Wednesday.

Mike in Mountain View 2:33 AM  

@Dan: Congratulations on a fun puzzle with an excellent theme idea. You squeezed a lot into a 15 x 15 grid.

Please don't let your first nyt puzzle be your last.

Clif 3:11 AM  

Rex should stop translating languages he doesn't understand. As anyone who speaks French knows, jeûne means fast, so dé-jeuner means break-fast. Historically the French apparently didn't eat a midday meal but when they started, the morning (and smaller) meal was demoted to petit. Lunch was le grand déjeuner or something similar, but was eventually shortened to déjeuner. (In Québec, déjeuner, I'm told, still means breakfast.)

Thomaso808 3:48 AM  

Congrats to Daniel Mauer on his NYT debut, and great to see your comment here! I echo @Larry Gilstrap that we real solvers hold constructors in awe. Thanks for an original and obviously hard-worked effort!

That being said, wow, this was a hard Wednesday. I did not know any of the French, German, or Spanish themers, so all had to rely on crosses. The crosses were almost all there, but MILO, STEIN, and KAGAN were not familiar, so some guessing was needed. I got through it, but it was just not fun to solve when the themers were jibberish to me. I can take a few foreign language words in a puzzle, but having 15, 10, 15, and 10 themers? I hope that never happens again. Sorry, Daniel!

I did like IAMSODEAD, and I think as a result of this puzzle I now will always remember that EBENEZER has only single E's in it and no other vowels.

Finally, I am hoping (please!) that the CRU / vineyard controversy is not resurrected.

Loren Muse Smith 4:19 AM  
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BarbieBarbie 5:55 AM  

@Bryce, har-- but, me too [ red face].
This was very easy for me even though I needed crosses for the lyric. Must have been in my wheelhouse. Almost a record time, according to my iPad.
Loved the clue for ELM. Lots of good misdirect in the short fill, for anyone with a Maleska memory-- so many that could have been more than one old, tired answer, making them fresh and un-tired. BRIDE/groom, GMAN/tman, ANN/Cod, BRIO/elan, etcetera. My only twitch of "uh-oh, this is Rex-baiting" came from seeing two clues so close together with Roman numeral X in them. Fair because the answers went in different directions, but the second didn't require any thought at all since that synapse had just finished firing, making it too easy. A different clue would have worked better.
Remembering back to HS French and German, Rex is flat-out wrong on that.

@DanM, count me too as in awe of any constructor, let alone a successful one. My bOCA says gracias. More please!

Loren Muse Smith 6:05 AM  

@Dan M – congrats! You’re gonna have a fun day today. Of course Rex didn’t like it; it’s the rite of passage that keeps on giving. And giving.

I’m not understanding the gripe about HOTSY. Sure, it’s dated. Would it have been more acceptable with some kind of “quaint” in the clue? Like we see with stuff like “neato” and “egad” – the entry didn’t bother me at all.

And, yeah, the “the vs a complaint was unexpected. I just saw the themers as all expressions with the word LITTLE in them. Rex – nice pic of The Little Prince.

Toughest cross for me was the KAGAN/RIAA cross (Hi, @Thomaso808). I guessed right. Hey – both appear often enough, so shame on me.

Again, @Thomaso808 – yeah – tough puzzle for people who avoid foreign language. Hi, Dad.

@Bryce - ”a mouth of thanks”

Enjoyable, different kind of theme that made me feel a little smart and worldly. @Dan M – not surprised at all to hear the Jeff helped. He’s a true mensch. Enjoy your day of trying to figure out how to casually let unsuspecting people know that it’s your puzzle in the NYT today.

(@Sir Hillary and @Teedmn from yesterday – thanks for noticing my avatar. I love it when that happens.)

Lewis 6:07 AM  

I'm with @loren -- PETIT, KLEINE, POCA -- foreign words for "little", with a reveal THE LITTLE THINGS. Plenty tight for a crossword. Rex, sometimes, IMO, you just pounce too hard.

I like the MOPS up. I don't know why HMO wasn't simply clued "ACA option, briefly" instead of spelling out the law. I think BRIDE crossing LINE DANCE feels like a just-right fit. ORANGINA crossing SLAW, I'm not so sure.

Congratiulations, Daniel on getting your foot in this glorious door, and please keep 'em coming. May today be un grand jour for you!

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

Nice work Dan. Really enjoyed it. Rex is a tiresome, self-righteous, bloviating buffoon who clearly has some issues that are not healthy to him or anyone related to him.

evil doug 6:21 AM  
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evil doug 6:26 AM  

(Elaine at Mrs. Oliver's place, where Elaine is sitting with the senior citizen she volunteered to visit. Elaine is bored out of her skull through a very pedestrian conversation. She keeps mumbling to herself throughout Mrs. Oliver's story:)

Mrs. O: And we would take long automobile trips--

Elaine: Oh, well, that sounds like a lot of fun...

Mrs. O: Staring out the window--

Elaine: Uh huh...

Mrs. O: You'd see a long view of rolling pastures and--

Elaine: Well, that'll get you goin' right there...

Mrs. O: Big, roaming cows--

Elaine: Cows, well that's fascinating...

Mrs. O: That's when I began my affair with Mohandas.

Elaine: What?

Mrs. O: Mohandas.

Elaine: Gandhi?

Mrs. O: Oh, the *passion*. The *forbidden pleasure*--

Elaine: You had an affair with Gandhi?

Mrs. O: He used to dip his bald head in oil and rub it all over my body...Here, look... [shows Elaine a picture of the two together]

Elaine: Oh, my God... The Mahatma?!

Anonymous 6:41 AM  

Good little puzzle. Foreign phrases often don't have exact literal English equivalents. Thus, I think you can just ignore the screed of OFL. I enjoyed the puzzle and found it easy. But I know French and Spanish. I had to work out the La Bamba phrase. I can see that those who don't know any foreign language would be flummoxed and frustrated by this puzzle.

Trombone Tom 6:52 AM  

HELLA long ago on Highway 40 (now I80) east of Vallejo, CA, there was a frenetically blinking neon sign announcing the HOTSY Totsy Club. I doubt they sold much ORANGINA there.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Hello, HELLA. Good to see you again. Actually, I'm surprised that wasn’t made into HELLo and cross-clued with ADELE (changing TEN to TEe and ANN to oNe).

I like most things in this puzzle, except for SETAT, III, and the RIAA/LSAT cross, which is yer basic no-no. But it feels a day late. Maybe should have been swapped with yesterday’s puzzle.

Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I probably hear HOTSY-totsy once a week, on average. Could refer to clothes, cars, jobs … basically used as a synonym of chic.

Ken R 7:18 AM  

Congrats on a great puzzle Dan! Rex is a terminal naysayer so take the blog with a grain of salt.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

Once the left wrapped itself fully in identity politics and convinced itself that America is inherently a white supremacist nation, patriotism and traditionalist ideas became indistinguishable from white supremacy. They are all of the same bitter origin and can have no redemption. And this view only serves to feed the tribalism of the current moment, and make it more permanent and ingrained in our society.

Hungry Mother 7:55 AM  

Very quick solve here also. It took longer than it should have for me to remembert NACHTMUSIK, but this old brain is slowing down.

chefbea 7:59 AM  

Fairly easy except I didn't know how to spell nacht , and didn't know 40 across. Wanted 46 across to be potato salad....but it wouldn't fit!!!! Arp has always been one of my favorite artists.

Aketi 8:06 AM  

I think HOTSY totsy is either regional or an age thing. My husband who is older and from the Midwest had heard it used, I had never heard it before.

Well, I can't say that DEJEUNing is something I normally do in the morning whether it's PETIT or not. I expected Rex to complain about the mix of two songs with breakfast, not quibbling over UNA and EIN.

What I liked was the LINE DANCE crossing UNA POCA DE GRACIA which is something I could wake up to after un peu de café. I enjoyed watching the multicultural array of people dancing to La Bamba. Here's a couple for those who might have finished the puzzle before finishing their first cup of coffee (like I did) and want to procrastinate a little longer.

For a gentle wake up here is the Indonesian version. The woman in the green head scarf seems to have a poco mas gracia even if she has a little less rhthym. And if you need a little more BRIO here is the Zumba version.

Aketi 8:15 AM  

I enjoyed watching the guy in the yellow shirt who pops up in the Zumba version try to catch up with the others when he gets a little behind. That would be me.

RooMonster 8:24 AM  

Hey All !
Surprised myself at getting the two unknown "little" French and Spanish phrases. Did spell the La Bamba one wrong, though. Had iNAPOkA. Also a C at MUSIc. Oh well, for a foreign word theme puz, all in all not too bad for the ole brain.

Luckily knew a bunch of answers from doing the puz for a while. Like MOPS, ECLAT, OSSIE, GMAN, SRI, SLAW, ARP, OED, SLOE, CRU, OPEL, LSAT. If a newer solver tried this puz, they'd be in for a long day!

Kinda disappointed about two RRN clues, XXX divided by X, and 65D X. Change 65D's clue, no?

Would Emanuels tirade be a KANT rant?


Anonymous 8:26 AM  

sometimes the daily puzzle, flawed by Rex, is redeemed by the comments. For example, thank you whoever you are, the anonymous "left wrapped itself in identity politics..." and I'm almost breathless in admiration. I've been saying something close, but never so clear and simple. Jeezuz! What I've tried to say is that it's a whole hell of a lot easier to say how we think differently, than to do the desperately needed work to share what we agree on. Long live the spineless university presidents that give away Chairs instead of asking different parties to talk to each other. We say we have common values. Then, as a practice, we give them up.

QuasiMojo 8:33 AM  

Anyone else cringe when people start to line dance? There's something too creepy about it, as if people were lissome robots. I have to run out of the bar or nightclub before I get whatever they've got.

For a debut puzzle there was an awful lot of crosswordese in here that seems stale and too lazy. EDU, ADELE, CRU, RNA, OPEL, SRI, EZRA, TEES, ETC. Perhaps Shortz and his gang edited it to death? I was disappointed in it, even though I enjoyed the clue about Gertrude STEIN.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Wasn't Robert Byrd the Grand Dragon of the KKK ? If you're gonna ban people as is Rex's wont he'd be a good candidate.

RAD2626 8:35 AM  

Thought it was a fun puzzle. Congrats Dan M on debut. Actually knew spelling of all but lyrics like @Paul Rippey but crosses took care of it and knowing three long answers helped things along. Liked theme more than a little.

@lms - great link to New Yorker article. Never knew what they were called. Been guilty of "Bathroom on the right" for thirty years. My favorite from the article was "Olive, the other reindeer".

Aketi 8:47 AM  

@Quasi, I promise I won't try to contaminate you with what I've got in the unlikely event that we end up in the same bar or nightclub. I actually prefer conga lines to LINE DANCING because you don't have to achieve the same degree of synchronicity.

TomAz 9:00 AM  

I have a quibble about the clue on 40A. *Every* lyric in "La Bamba" is repeated eventually. And as someone else noted, the clue on SRI is not good. And Rex noted the problem with the clue for KROC. Bad cluing is not the sign of a good puzzle.

OTOH, I thought Rex's point about "a little" vs "the little" was needless nitpicking. C'mon man.

Aketi 9:08 AM  

@lms, good article. My LADY MONDEGREEN, a gender transforming Bob Moran for the title song of a famous Beach Boys song.

Two Ponies 9:21 AM  

Nice debut Daniel M.
I hope you are enjoying the comments, you deserve them.
As for Rex and his nit picking, I'm sure you knew what to expect.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

ArtO 9:28 AM  

Terrific debut puzzle. Long, unique themers. Dan, ignore Rex's criticism of the too frequently used fill. Sometimes it's worth it to get the best theme. And, there's at least three puzzles a week that come in for the same screed.

That said, the "La Bamba" answer really threw me as I could hear the music in my head but not grok the line you were looking for. Even after filling it in I had to parse it out.

jberg 9:30 AM  

The theme was fine by me, once I noticed that it wasn't just articles but actual words for little. But I started ruminating on ELMS (ones throwing shade, 22A). The American ELMS were pretty much wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease 40-50 years ago, yet we see them all the time as a common shade tree. It's true that there are Chinese elms, which are resistant to the disease, but still I'm pining for a more up-to-date clue here.

Malsdemare 9:48 AM  

I'm an idiot. At 0'dark thirty this am, I suddenly understood the mini. Jeez!

Stanley Hudson 9:49 AM  

Fine debut Dan.

It takes a small person to carp over foreign words from languages he apparently doesn't speak.

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

The hotsy answer reminded me of the only time I've ever heard the phrase hotsy-totsy. It was a post WWII chidren's joke: what did hitler say when his wife had a baby? "Hotsy-totsy, another Nazi!"
Hey, I didn't say it was a GOOD joke...

Joseph Michael 9:59 AM  

Congrats, Dan, on the debut. HELLA good job.

This puzzle looks like it was a bear to construct. It's unfortunate that Rex can't see the forest through the nits.

GILL I. 10:02 AM  

YO NO SOY MARINERO but you @Dan M are the CAPITAN today. This was a CUTie patootie puzzle and @Rex can be all hoity toity about "little" things like some HOTSY Totsy word and my favorite LE PETIT DE JEUNER.
Give me a foregin puzzle anytime of the week and I'm a BOCA DE GRACIA. I just wish it had lasted longer than it took for my kettle to start whistling.
The only "little" word that held me up was not knowing RIAA but I don't even care. This was a new concept and it worked just fine for a Wed.
@Larry G. My very first concert when I came to NYC was a Ravi Shankar sitar concerto. I had my first "smoke" as well and I wondered why in hell it had taken me so long to come back to the States. Life was fun then - and cheap! My 92nd and Broadway apartment cost me $150.00 a month and it included utilities! and it had an excellent view of my Puerto Rican neighbors fornicating all night.
Come back soon @Dan and yes, I love it when the constructor chimes in. You're a trooper/trouper or whatever it is....

GHarris 10:03 AM  

This one had something for everyone, two sodas, two poets, foreign phrases, modern lingo, quaint expressions, old-fashioned descriptions, biblical name, Roman numerals, cartoon name and sound effects, a true schmogesboard. What's not to like.

Malsdemare 10:25 AM  

I thought the puzzle terrific. I was so proud of my language knowledge; aren't I smart, says I to self. And then it turns out it's no biggie; everyone was totally cool with it. Even Rex didn't complain about needing to know three languages, though I guess you really only needed to know French. i honestly don't mind old stuff; it balances out the rappers and the current slang, whatever it it. No longer in the classroom, so staying on top of acronyms and the latest LINGO (hi yesterday's mini) doesn't happen.

Evil's recap pf Elaine's visit reminds me of a totally off-topic dinner I had years ago. It was a business dinner, I was the good spouse, and seated in between the two most boring people of the planet. They didn't travel, had no kids, had no hobbies, didn't read, didn't go to movies, YADDA YADDA YADDA. The servers were topping of wine glasses at a ferocious rate and I was almost falling into my plate when the male half of this couple mentions, yes, ever so casually like he's commenting on the scenery, that he used to play jazz sax, played, oh, yeah, with Getz, Dorsey, and God only knows who else because I was twelve sheets to the wind and barely able to see, much less hear or, heaven forfend, respond. Later that night, I dimly recall, I told my spouse's best customer to "f*** himself." And then thought "I AM SO DEAD," though I prefer Doomed. Thankfully, he was also too drunk to remember. Amazingly, spouse continued to include me in business dinners, I switched to tonic, and managed to conduct myself without shame for the remainder of his career. Kiddies, don't try this at home.

Fun puzzle; just over too soon. More, please, Dan.

Nancy 10:29 AM  

Un peu difficile et beaucoup ennuyeuse. (I looked it up. Ennuyeuse means boring, not annoying.) Easy enough, except for UNAPOCADEGRACIA, which I didn't know, but whatever I liked about the theme (not that much, actually) was marred by the awful crosswordese-laden fill. MOPS. I BET. POW. Ugh.

I'm still here. I'm now told that the renovation project next door may not even start next week because of the Jewish holiday. The later it starts, the farther it will go into winter. Sigh.

Tim Aurthur 10:46 AM  

To take @Clif's point a bit further, the word dinner (French dîner) comes from déjeuner. So everything is breakfast. We should all be eating GRAPENUTS three times a day.

Mohair Sam 10:49 AM  

All of you who, like me, thought "NACHTMUSIK" translated directly to "night" and "music" can blame Stephen Sondheim. Send in the clowns.

That particular Mozart serenade is one of our favorite pieces of music in this house. Took French instead of Spanish in high school because the French teacher was cute (you got a better reason to select a foreign language?), hence never understood that lyric in "La Bamba". ORANGINA new to me, sounds godawful. ADELE the answer to Final Jeopardy! last night, she's on a roll.

Excellent debut Mr. Mauer - congrats.

Nancy 10:59 AM  

Funny, colorful, wonderfully revealing anecdote, @Maldemare (10:25), that I found interesting and fun to read.

To Dan Mauer -- So nice of you to drop by. I'm one of the people who likes it when constructors show up on the blog. Had no idea this was your first puzzle in the NYT. I hope it's the first of many, and congratulations on getting it accepted.

Teedmn 11:05 AM  

I know very few of the lyrics of La Bamba, or even what the song is about, actually. So UNAPOCADEGRACIA was just a jumble of letters until I Googled it, post-solve. I see there isn't a whole lot to the song, maybe I was better off ignorant of the meaning :-(.

This seemed to take as long as it takes paint to dry, but actually I came in at my Wednesday average. Though considering the various ups and downs we've been experiencing in the daily puzzle difficulty, perhaps that doesn't mean anything anymore.

I like the crossing of CUTS and GLUE, makes me think of elementary school art class (do they still have that?). And I AM SO DEAD crossing an irregular variant of SLeW.

Thanks, Daniel Mauer for a puzzle that made me feel sort of smart and congrats on the debut.

Choco 11:09 AM  

How did "una boca de gracia" become "una poca de gracia" (which is both ungrammatical and meaningless in Spanish)?

David Schinnerer 11:23 AM  

Daniel Mauer: Please, please do not craft your puzzles to try to appease the King of Snark...Only friends of his get a pass from the vitriol. Your puzzle was good, congrats on the debut. I, for one, appreciate you giving me some morning entertainment today. Those who can do, those who can't...sit back and criticize.

old timer 11:23 AM  

Yo no soy marinero. Yo no soy marinero soy capitan, soy capitan! I thought everyone knew the lyrics, though what they know could be a mondegreen. The most charming version I ever heard was in one of those Great Railway Journeys of the World episode, when a bunch of Peruvian kids sing it spontaneously while (I suppose) riding home from school on the little train.

I see someone already noticed that OFL is our Ignoramus-In-Chief today. DEJEUNER translates exactly to "break fast". It can be a substantial meal served in the middle of the day, in which case the initial meal of coffee and a brioche or croissant is the PETIT DEJEUNER.

I was absolutely delighted with this puzzle. I will agree with OFL on this point: If you knew the themers, it was very, very Easy.

Hartley70 11:30 AM  

There was so much here for me to like. I had a great time with this puzzle and it was over too fast. Congrats to Daniel!

The theme was new to me. I liked the use of three languages, or four if you include English. I think it could have been expanded into an excellent Sunday. I have a soft spot for La Bamba lyrics. My two children became obsessed with the song when they were 5 and 6 years old and would sing/scream it from the backseat of the car as we drove around. No one here speaks Spanish so it cracked me up.

I'm a big fan of HOTSY. I have been using and hearing it with Totsy my whole life. I also like SHIRK and SHOAL. I don't think I've seen these beauties in a puzzle, but I don't know how to look that up as some here do.

ORANGINA is delicious, but like the millennials I've become a devotee of La Croix....fewer calories and cooler. I think I saw a New Yorker cartoon where the cans are substituted for Warhol's Campbell's soup.

IAMSODEAD rings true for everyone. Who hasn't been there? Perfection. I'd like to see a puzzle theme made entirely of these current colloquialisms.

kitshef 11:37 AM  

Oh yes, forgot my own La Bamba mondegreen - 'una puerca de gracia' - a graceful sow.

old timer 11:42 AM  

@choco, the lyrics are very good Spanish, and Valens was a Spanish speaker. "To dance La Bamba one needs a little grace, for me for you". Yes, you might normally say "un poco de gracia" but there is nothing wrong at all in changing "un poco" to "una poca" for the sake of accommodating the words to the tune.

Red Pill 11:52 AM  

So @ Nancy, which is it? Ugh (see me agree with Rex)10:29 or congratulations (see me agree with everyone else)10:59?

Masked and Anonymous 11:55 AM  

LITTLE is known to M&A, in multiple lingos. So that helped, even tho German is the only thing I'm slightly multi-lingual in. Liked the theme just fine. But man, did I need a passel of crossers, to get the French and Spanish ones done right. Extra precious little nano-seconds really spun by on the counter.


* MOPS. I suppose usin a mop could be a challenge for some hairdressers. Or for M&A's.

* OMRI. This is @RP's term for *overfamiliar* short gunk?? Reminds M&A more of "ornery".

* HOTSY. Used to neutralize HELLA, on the crossword timeline. Sooo … ok.

* LINEDANCE, IAMSODEAD. ORANGINA. EBENEZER. har. Now, there's a vary-gated foursome of tall stuff. Needed lotsa crosses to get ORANGINA.

* SHIRK. fave entry. Comes with such great SHARK-SHIRT cluin possibilities ...

* MEHTA. fave desperate entry. At least, it made M&A desperate, havin to get it solely from crosses.

* III and TEN. staff weeject picks, mainly on account of their X-tra sassy all-X clues. Shows a little 'tude. Sorta makes up for no XI- themer, in the last rodeo. [@kitshef: If U change TEN to TEE, U probably need to change 18-D, too, tho.]

Thanx for the foreign lingo lesson and congratz on yer feisty/fun debut puz, Mr. Mauer.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

one of them little things:

Dan M 12:19 PM  

OK going to try to do a quick all-in-one response because I technically should be working right now :)

Really appreciate all the kind words & congrats, it really is a major thrill for me. And @LorenMuseSmith, you're spot on with "day of trying to figure out how to casually let unsuspecting people know" :P ...My primary goals for today are (a) enjoy it and (b) don't be annoying!

As for Rex: Harsh? A little bit, maybe, but that's his deal. I read this blog for a single person's unvarnished opinion... Honestly, I can't say any of his individual comments were unfair, and in some cases I agree with them. Given the constraints coming from using 15-10-15-10-15 theme entries, I'm satisfied with the fill (sure was a bear getting there!)... but I can certainly see how if the theme didn't click with you, you might not find the whole thing terribly exciting. À chacun son goût! Regardless of any of that I think the negative stuff Rex points out on a daily basis has had a positive effect on my construction abilities in the months since I submitted this one, and he's amusing. So, I don't intend to stop reading :)

Or, for that matter, constructing! You'll definitely be seeing more :)

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

@Malsdemare 10:25 That little account should be required reading for anybody who has been jonesing for a new Mad Men episode.

Nancy 12:25 PM  

Hi, @Red Pill (11:59) -- I could never in a million years construct a crossword puzzle, even a bad one. And therefore I applaud all those who do it -- especially if they're brave enough to pop up on this blog. No, I didn't like all the crosswordese and abbrevs in this maiden attempt at all. But if the constructor has talent and persists, his next effort may be better. Maybe much better. Look what's happened with David Steinberg, whose pop culture-laden clues drove me crazy at first, but whose work I now tend to enjoy.

I wouldn't have written my second comment had I not seen Mauer's post. But I didn't want him to go away too unhappy. He sounds like a lovely guy.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

@Aketi, 9:08, holy cow, that's the first time I heard of somebody else who heard it the way I did:
Bob Bob Bob, Bob Bob Moran.
Went to a dance, Lookin' for a man,
Saw Bob Moran and thought I'd take a chance.
I loved that song until I found out it was about a girl!

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Boomers (or older) who have not heard the term "hotsy totsy" have not heard it likely because they were not born and raised of a class that used that term. Blue collar or working class folks might describe someone as "they think they are hotsy totsy", which usually meant they were putting on "higher class" airs or such.

Ellen S 12:37 PM  

I agree with both of Nancy's posts. In my own words, I loved the themers even though I not only don't know the words to La Bamba, I don't even know the *wrong* words to it, despite having heard it a million times at least. So that one took a little longer, waiting for recognizable Spanish words to appear from the crosses. No quibbles about "the" vs "a", and nice to learn that Nachtmusik means serenade.

And didn't like the fill, too old and easy. Although -- given the long foreign-language themers, maybe easy crosses were a blessing. I hadn't considered that -- without all that glue I might still be working on the puzzle. Or the La Bamba answer, anyway.

Here's a quibble nobody seems to have raised: 39 D is clued "Listen Here!" And the answer is EAR. As a verb? Or is that what a London bobby says, "Ear now, what's all this, then?"

Anyway, Dan, keep it up. I look forward to your subsequent effort. Maybe dial back the grid-killing themes and give us more clever fill like I AM SO DEAD -- because in this case, you are not.

Teedmn 12:54 PM  

@Trombone Tom (1:07 AM), thanks for the heads-up on the WSJ puzzle. DAB is one of my favorite constructors, even though I haven't seen a lot of his published work. And that puzzle was fairly challenging (for a Wednesday).

JC66 1:19 PM  

@Ellen S

Listen here=where one listens, so EAR.

Yeah, it's a weak, but this type of pun is used from time to time o toughen up the cluing.

tea73 1:34 PM  

Super fast time. Knowing French and German didn't hurt. I had to fumble around a bit with La Bamba. I love the song, love the movie, but I've never had much notion as to what he was actually singing. Certainly never caught "UN POCA DE GRACIA" in there! I actually think part of the problem is that the Los Lobos version is harder to understand, and I owned that album.

GILL I. 2:00 PM  

To whomever said La Bamba is grammatically wrong...No my friend. To follow up on @old timer, Valens family were Mexican. He was born in L.A. but his grandparents spoke to him in Spanish.
UNA POCA DE => adjective as you add your GRACIA or pork or mouth.....
UN POCO DE => Noun
And yes, CRU is French for vineyard. Jeeze Louise.....
@Loren thanks for the Mondegreen reminder. Some time ago (and possibly one of my favorite blog posts,) we had a bunch of fun sharing some of them. I believe it was @ACME who started it but I remember it was a new word for me and I was pleased as punch to know I wasn't the only person who misunderstands the English language! My all time favorite was: Blinded by the light, wrapped up like a douche or corona in the night.

Malsdemare 2:06 PM  

I had to look up Lady Mondegreen. How fun is that? So is Bob Dole's "bomb, bomb,bomb, bomb, Iran" a deliberate Mondegreen?

Malsdemare 2:08 PM  

Oops, not enough bombs. Should be five!

Joe Bleaux 2:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Bleaux 3:18 PM  

Although I know more Spanish (and not much of that) than I do either French or German, 40A was the only themer I relied entirely on crosses to get. Felt a little silly, having heard the song a zillion times. Awed by all constructors as much as other regulars, I'm always surprised to find clues so easy that even I could've written them. Examples from the NE: 12D (TERMS -- what else might Byrd have served nine of?), crossing 16A (wedding cake figurines -- a list of two to choose from, right?). All around, nothing I call dreck, and nary a sloggy moment. @Daniel Mauer. Thanks for coming, and big congrats on an impressive debut just right for midweek.

ANON B 3:32 PM  

As usual, much ado about nothing. The theme is "The little things"
and that's what the words that mean "little" are. Petit, kleine and poca
mean "little" regardless of what they modify.

Mohair Sam 3:46 PM  

@Lauren - Loved the article, thanks for the link. I still say "spit and image", am I wrong?

@Mals - Terrific anecdote. For years I had a martini every night at 6 to unwind after work. Then I started doing deals on the west coast from my eastern time zone office. I quickly learned that business meetings are best held cold sober. Within a month I moved my martini time to 9.

Thomaso808 3:47 PM  

@LMS, thanks for that "mondegreen" link. I now have a word for what I knew was a thing.

Spotify did a list of the top ten misunderstood lyrics. By far, the number one misheard lyric is from the song Blinded By the Light with the mondegreen "wrapped up like a douche when you're rollin' in the night" The real lyric is "revved up like a deuce, another roller in the night". Seems to me the mondegreen makes more sense!

kitshef 4:17 PM  

@M&A - good point. Make 18D TEEM and 27A MRI. So one will miss SRI.

kitshef 4:30 PM  

@Thomaso808 - I think you meant "another runner in the night".

Oddly, in the Bruce Springsteen original, it was "cut loose like a deuce" rather than "revved up ...". Great album, by the way (Greetings from Asbury Park N.J.).

Suzy 4:30 PM  

It's a lovely puzzle, nice debut! Don't worry about Rex-- he can take the fun out of ice cream!

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Got it all right at first go, but only buy guessing in at least 3 places.

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

Seinfeld fans know hotsy totsy.

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Alison 6:26 PM  

Congrats Daniel. I'm so dead was charming answer!

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

Hope he didn't bring back the herpes with him.

Hartley70 6:36 PM  

Anonymous 12:35pm, the usage I am accustomed to has hoity toity as a pejorative, meaning snobbish. Hotsy Totsy means terrific. You'd want a hotsy totsy boyfriend, not a hoity toity one.
ps: neither blue collar or working class raised, just old.

Chance 6:37 PM  

Rex is a little rough on the poor puzzle makers, I sometimes feel. I liked this theme, although in hindsight I do agree with him that a few things are off about it, such as the unconnected multilinguality.

I kind of wish Rex would post his times. Are there any other NYT puzzle blogs that post their times? I like hearing other people's times.

Cassieopia 7:14 PM  

Had dUmb before CUTE for cat videos, and was toying with an alternate spelling of LILie as the NH State Flower. Had no idea on the Ricky Martin song so was delighted with myself for getting it from the crosses - nice construction there, Constructor Dan!

Faves were SHIRK and IAMSODEAD, both brought smiles. And recalling LEPETITDEJEUNER from the dusty niches of my cerebellum was especially delightful.

*Love* when constructors stop by this blog. Y'all are like rock stars. Thank you, Mr Mauer, for a fun Wednesday and congratulations on a great debut!

Thomaso808 7:46 PM  

@kitshef, thanks for catching that -- runner, not roller.

Also, thanks for that Springsteen tidbit. I did not know he wrote it. I see in Wikipedia that The Boss even jokes about it now, saying that it was not until Manfred Mann rewrote the song to be about a feminine hygiene product that it became popular.

GILL I. 7:54 PM  

@Cassieopia. Ricky Martin sang a song called "La BOmba." Richie Valens is the original "La Bamba."

BarbieBarbie 9:57 PM  

End of a very long day. I open the blog, scroll quickly down the thumbnails, looking for that airplane with a Bozo nose-- aha! There it is! And @EvilDoug does not disappoint! Elaine and Gandhi, HAR. Thanks @ED.

Dan M 10:22 PM  

THAT'S why that phrase was in my brain! Knew it was a thing, looked it up to make sure, but couldn't recall where I'd heard it.

Dan M 10:37 PM  


*clues CROSSWORD CONSTRUCTORS with "They're often mistaken for rock stars"*

Thanks for the kind words!

Dan M 10:43 PM  

FWIW, the submitted clue was actually "___ Lanka".

Dan M 10:48 PM  

Oh, I know what to expect from Rex's blog... my fee-fees remain fully intact. :) Been reading for a couple years now, so to be honest it was kind of fun to be on the receiving end of the acerbity!

Dan M 10:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan M 11:00 PM  

I figured "halfway decent Chicago wine bar that closed a few years ago" was a little too specific for CRU, so went with the dictionary ;)

Admittedly this puzzle's not much if the theme doesn't hit, but that's among the many ways in which varied proverbial cookies have been known to crumble. Thanks for the kind words :)

Dan M 11:23 PM  

So, the submitted clue for 40A was "It's necesita to dance the Bamba", and I was disappointed in the change until someone (on the wordplay blog I think) mentioned that they initially put in YO NO SOY MARINERO, which is also 15 letters... and that completely won me over to the "repeated lyric" clue.

Z 7:54 AM  

@Dan M - Thanks for stopping by. Your second comment is spot on. If you want sycophancy there are blogs for that. If you want to get better, read Rex.

The criticism of Rex's language criticism is way way off. Déjeuner is lunch, LE PETIT DÉJEUNER is breakfast, not "the little lunch." The absence of the circumflex above the U suggests that "déjeuner" comes from the word "jeune," not the word "jeûne," but etymology isn't the point of Rex's critique so I'm not going to bother checking. Mozart's title is oft translated as "A Little Nght Music." It is often translated as "A Little Serenade." Either way little is part of the translation. So we have two themers that translate literally, and one that does not,

Whether or not this is a little matter or a big matter is another question. A less idiomatic phrase would have been better, but this isn't a deal breaker for me. RRNs, though, Bah.

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Burma Shave 8:43 AM  


ADELE is SEMI-OBESE, BUT so CUTE when she sings,


rondo 9:25 AM  

Very LITTLE trouble with this puz even though I never really knew the words to La Bamba and know very LITTLE French. EINEKLEINE NACHTMUSIK a virtual gimme.

OLE'S here again with no Sven in sight.

@spacey will want PHI clued as the Eagles on a scoreboard.

Anyone else want two Es for the long E sound in EBENEZER? Almost an oopsie there. Odd name cross with EZRA.

Mark Knopfler's fantastic song about Ray Kroc: https://youtu.be/0sYK2RwH5E8

ADELE is a fine singer BUT yeah baby to JANE Fonda. No virgin there, BUT HOTSY-totsy indeed.

Hope y'all knew foreign languages a LITTLE.

thefogman 9:48 AM  

DNF for me. I was stumped at one square and guessed bROC for 24D. If I knew a LITTLE German I would have known about KLEINE. But alas, it was not to be. IAMSODEAD I thought. IBET the constructor was trying to be CUTE. I KANT stand it when they do that!
Aside from my one mistake, it was fairly easy for a Thursday. I did not like the second part of the Mozart themer not having any "little" word in it. That one STAIN (and the unfair Natick) did it for me. No Olés for Mr. Mauer today. YADDA YADDA YADDA. Bring on Friday.

thefogman 10:13 AM  

Like Rex, I also thought the revealer was weak. Not for the same reasons though. But because I thought it was unrelated to music. That is until I referenced the Google and found this:


spacecraft 10:25 AM  

So that's what ol' Richie was singin' about. Been trying to parse that out this long time. Didn't know the French one either, but as many have said, only a few crosses brought the Mozart work to light: as Salieri said, "Everybody knows Mozart." This was an unusual experience, in that whole "ungettable" theme entries were crossed by a bevy of gimmes, with the result that it's actually easy. -ish.

Attracted to multi-line clues, my eyes fixed on the revealer line, and when I read "multilingual" I thought I'd better start right here. I agree that the TERM is not used accurately. Each themer stays within its own language.

I learned something--the La Bamba lyric--so that's a plus. Loved IAMSODEAD. Needed every single cross for ORANGINA--BUT--while we're on GINA, we introduce the DOD: GINA Rodriguez of JANE the Virgin. Fill has some wince-inducers, but I noticed a few extras: ECLAT and CRU in the French corner, and BRIO on the Spanish side (somebody drove his OPEL there from GERM-any). Despite III and RIAA, this one earns a few OLES. Some day, @rondo, some day...Birdie.

thefogman 10:32 AM  

PS - Unless I'm mistaken the first themer LEPETITDEJEUNER is unrelated to music and therefor an imbalance remains, even if you include THELITTLETHINGS as a musical entry.

Diana, LIW 11:31 AM  

Now I know what it feels like when all the long themers are 100% in your wheelhouse. zip, zip, zip, repeat

Had a friend in high school who was from Puerto Rico - she could sing La Bamba sooooooo beautifully. Envy, envy - but I learned it from her. Sorta...

College boyfriend and his roommate quoted the "EINEKLINE..." piece around the dorm for weeks.

Took French HS and coll. Some things stay with one. Meals are important.

So I enjoyed it and hardly noticed the fill. Which rarely bothers me anyway.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

JimmyBgood 5:50 PM  

If Rex wasn't a nitpicker would we even read his blog? Each has his own nits to pick,otherwise, we'd be scratching all day long.

leftcoastTAM 5:58 PM  

Reading Rex's reviews may or may not be a good idea because of how they can influence the views and attitudes of commenters who follow. Sometimes he just puts people off. Too bad for them, IMO.

The fact is that he knows whereof he speaks, and there are interesting things to be learned about puzzle standards and qualities (or their lack) from his regular dissections and occasional praises of them.

Besides, it's his blog, and it's a helluva good one.

Oh yeah, the puzzle. Liked it a lot.

wcutler 9:21 PM  

I know no-one reads these comments from the syndicated crowd, but I wanted to thank Rex and the blog contributors again from keeping this blog going. I loved reading the comments today. And I really liked the mondegreen article, have already sent it to a friend.

It's always a treat for me to have the constructor stop by with comments.

rondo 12:02 AM  

@wcutler - I see your comments every day, or at least the next day. And others do, too, including Diana LIW and some real-timers. Know it for a fact.

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