French network / THU 10-19-17 / One of billions in puffball / Sch backer

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Constructor: Ned White

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: HEAD OVER HEELS (39A: **One way to fall in love ... or a hint to the answers to the starred clues) — Two stacks of [Honcho] (i.e. a "head") over [Louse] (i.e. a "heel"), and then a [Honcho] over HEELS and a HEAD over [Louse] toward the middle of the grid (hence the "**" on the revealer ... I think)

Theme answers:
  • BIG WHEEL over "HEELS" 
  • "HEAD" over DIRTY RAT 
Word of the Day: LUSAKA (50D: Zambia's capital) —
Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia. One of the fastest developing cities in southern Africa, Lusaka is in the southern part of the central plateau at an elevation of about 1,279 metres (4,196 ft). As of 2010, the city's population was about 1.7 million, while the urban population is 2.4 million. Lusaka is the centre of both commerce and government in Zambia and connects to the country's four main highways heading north, south, east and west. English is the official language of the city, but Nyanja and Bemba are also common. (wikipedia)
• • •

Getting a late start tonight, and have to get up early tomorrow, so I'll keep this brief. The theme is cute—the center is weird because the HEAD and HEELS are literal there, whereas up top and down below they are a [Honcho] or a [Louse], respectively. The two asterisks on the revealer clue are more bizarre than helpful. Also, aren't the stacks in the NW and SE really "HEAD OVER HEEL," singular? If this theme were done perfectly, then the various [Louse]s would be in plural form, giving you actual singular "head"s over plural "heels." The more I look at this thing, the wobblier it gets, so maybe I'll just stop looking.

The fill is really pretty bad. I've scrawled a list of the crosswordese on my printed-out copy of the finished grid, and I stopped at about twenty entries—the scrawl starts in the margin above SASHA and then continues unbroken, clockwise, all the way down to the margin outside OBLIGES. I started with RUDI and stopped at O-TYPE and you're just going to have to take my word for it that there are lots of answers in between. Speaking of O-TYPE, yuck. Here's a tweet about it, from a pediatrician.

RUES x/w VUE is NOTOK. I didn't have much trouble with this, except for a little bit in the SW, where I didn't know LUSAKA (my bad) and the whole STOPGO / SHOT thing was hard for me to figure out. I was lucky enough to pull NOGOODNIK out of thin air—no crosses; just tried it and it worked. I can see someone getting destroyed by the TOPOL / LUSAKA crossing. I certainly wouldn't have any idea about TOPOL if it weren't for crosswords, and we've already established that I didn't know LUSAKA, and if you don't know either, then that "L," well ... good luck! OK, I'm done. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


kitshef 12:05 AM  

Some iffy short fill, but also some pretty cool longs.

If there are NO-GOODNIKS, surely there are goodniks?
If there is a TOP BANANA, who is the bottom banana?
If there is a BIG WHEEL, is there a little wheel?

STONEHENGE, Where the demons dwell,
Where the banshees live and they do live well.
STONEHENGE, Where a man's a man,
And the children dance to the Pipes of Pan

George Barany 12:30 AM  

Thanks for your interesting review, @Rex. It's hard for me to be objective, since @Ned White is a good friend and we've even co-constructed a puzzle. So I'll simply note that the clue for PUPIL reminded me of this classic joke.

Trombone Tom 12:35 AM  

Pleasant diversion for a Thursday with minimal problems.

Like @Rex I am somewhat abashed that I didn't know a city of several millions in Africa.

Agree that O-TYPE is not a thing. NOTOK sounds like the hero of an Arctic tale.

jae 12:36 AM  

Easy except for the part around BIG WHEEL which took me a while to get as I kept wanting cHEEse and the French-French cross needed some staring.

Me too for LUSAKA as a WOE.

Pretty clever but a bit to easy for a Thurs. (or what we seem to be getting lately). Liked it.

okanaganer 12:41 AM  

Since there was a HEEL in 36A, and expecting some Thursday hijinks, I was looking for, say: a HEAD "over" each starred answer? But no.

Robin 12:43 AM  

Another issue to complain about: TOPOL was known professionally as just TOPOL, omitting his given name. So the CHAIM entry didn't need to be linked and could have been given its own separate clue.

mathgent 12:51 AM  

So disappointing for a Thursday. I can't think of anything good to say about it. I will do the WSJ tomorrow morning. I expect that it will wash the bad taste out.

Hartley70 1:42 AM  

I liked the HEADOVERHEELS theme. It was a clever device I haven't seen before. I think @Rex's nit over the plural HEELS was inconsequential because the S was needed to demonstrate multiple times that the head was over the heel. Or maybe I'm over tired and so is he.

The SE was a bear for me. It's ridiculous that I didn't know LUSAKA but at least I'm not alone. I had LUS but I had to eke out the rest. It seems that the city doesn't have a different earlier identity so I can't claim that as an excuse either. Too bad. It was called LUSAKA even when Zambia was still called Rhodesia.

I wanted "druids" until TOPAL appeared and changed it to PAGANS, but I didn't know his first name and had to guess once I had CH. He's just a little before my time. I can barely remember his face.

I can already hear the collective whine, "Where is our rebus?" I too feel the pain, but this puzzle did a more than adequate job of filling the Thursday slot.

Hartley70 1:47 AM  

@George Barany, very amusing and apropos link today!

Don From Accounting 2:02 AM  

I finished this in no time! I just knew everything. When I got to the first theme I looked at 39A and just knew HEADOVERHEELS. I started crossing it in my head and I knew I was right. I even knew TOPOL, although I'm disappointed to learn he had a first name. To me, he was the Cher of the Yiddish theater, and not only that his one-name was his last name instead of his first or (even better) only name. I guess Zulu from the original Hawaii Five-0 is still the king of the one-namers, and his character was named Kono. I don't know if the new Hawaii Five-0 reboot has a one-name actor but it should, in my opinion, even though it looks pretty lame. You just can't replace Jack Lord, and you could sharpen a knife on that man's jaw line. Kam Fong played Chin Ho if you recall.

I really liked all of the words in this puzzle, particularly NOGOODNIK. That's just a fun word to say, and it's even more fun to call someone that, especially if they're young. It really puts the whammy on their heads because they have no idea what you mean, except that it sounds vaguely bad. You can also call a young person a DIRTYRAT but do it in a James Cagney voice and it really confuses them. I only do this in good fun though, because young people are our future.

Speaking of young people, thanks for the Go-Go's video. Back in the early 80's the Go Go's called me up and asked if I would come over and get them all pregnant. Now they are all very attractive and adorable but I had to say no because I had just got done knocking up Bananarama and I could barely walk. Their manager sweetened the pot by saying that if I would just plant my seed in each of them they would do anything I desired and they mean anything. Well I was tempted to say yes because I had some shirts that needed ironing but instead I think I fell asleep on the phone. Sorry Belinda!

Anyway I just loved this puzzle even though it was just so goshdarn easy. Look at that I'm late for choir practice. God bless!

tkincher 2:04 AM  

Both CHAIM and TOPOL were blocking my foothold into the SE, it’s not a name I ever remember. LUSAKA/TOPOL did me in. DNF without Google.

Larry Gilstrap 2:04 AM  

OFL complains about the fact that the HEAD is singular, so the HEELS should be plural. Sure, he's right. but should I care? Just what we need in the puzzle: more plurals. Zambia's capital and family? Hope we never see that one. He then complains about copious crosswordese, and again I concur. None of this bothered me until I read the review, and I'm not sure it does, yet.

I have heard of TOPOL, but not LUSAKA, I made it out of Africa. Thank goodness, because my first thought on Birthday party urging didn't pass the breakfast test. Something to do with candles on a cake.

I promise never to complain about RBIS ever again. I give up. I guess that is part of the new normal. But, you ought to know better.

Remember my English road trip in '78? We went to Stonehenge despite warnings. They were having a rock festival. Very weird.

I, unashamedly, am a native of California. I know nothing about the Mid-West and don't care to learn. Truthfully, I have been to Chicago which, as I recollect, was on some kind of coast and offered strange delicious hot dogs and pizzas that were casseroles. I used to hang out with a bunch of people from all over, and natives used to play annoyingly dumb when our friends talked about growing up in, for example, Wisconsin. "Is that near Ohio?" or some other nonsense. Just jerking your lanyard!

Trombone Tom 2:06 AM  

@mathgent, I did the WSJ puzzle by Morton J. Mendelson and think you will find it rewarding. His contortions make for an interesting challenge. It does seem that the WSJ is providing a challenging alternative to the NYT, especially toward the end of the week.

chefwen 2:37 AM  

Hand up for druids at 48D, took me a long time to remove it, like @Hartley TOPOL finally got me on the right tract.

I’m with Jae on a tad bit too easy and not as tricky as I like Thursday puzzles, but I liked it. Husband helped me with LUSAKA, asked him if he looked it up, he said “no” hmmm?

Thomaso808 3:58 AM  

Putting TOPOL as a second name / entry was a major misdirect. Same with driuds before PAGANS (hi Hartley70 and @chefwen).

If I had to guess the country of LUSAKA, it would be Japan, where they enjoy their SAKES.

I briefly had TankTOP before TUBETOP (dude, you really gotta read the clue, especially when it crosses three themers!)

@Don From Accounting, I'm with you on the NOGOODNIK thing. Maybe also with the DIRTYRAT thing. Uh, third paragraph with the Go-Go's and Bangles, OK, haha.

It's a good theme puzzle, but sad there's no trickery or rebus. I'm beginning to think that Will just doesn't get enough tricky submissions.

andrea carla michaels 4:09 AM  

I had to check crosses of LUSAKA 3 x convinced I had something wrong (maybe it was the capital of T's Nambia?

@kitschef 12:05
I'd love to do a puzzle with BOTTOMBANANA in it!!! I think you've got something there!

So many BIGs: WHEEL KAHUNA CHEESE (and the one I had inexplicably for longer than I should have: BIG WHale)

Happy birthday to John Lithgow ;)

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evil doug 4:44 AM  

Boris Badenov is my favorite nogoodnik.

I always say "and" in the middle of STOPGO.

Ando 4:50 AM  

Nobody in the history of the world has ever said they were in "Stop-go traffic".

Anonymous 5:34 AM  

I'll say that 12D is flat wrong. The traditional beer of Oktoberfest is *lager*, not ALE. I'm not saying you can't possibly find an ALE in Munich during Oktoberfest, but if you're going to clue as if we're referring only to the genuine article, it had better be lager.

(Hell, if you even go to the Wikipedia page for Oktoberfest and click the link to the page for "Oktoberfest beer", it redirects you to the entry for lager!)

Homebrew Bob 6:22 AM  

Hear hear @anon 5:34! A blatant error.

Elle54 6:36 AM  

DNF because of that darn "L" in Topol/Lusaka

Jonathan Alexander 7:08 AM  


total Natick on the L for me

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

if 8-A had been one of the Trumps instead of one of the Obamas Mike Sharp would've spent his whole column whining about it. It also wouldn't have fit.

Hungry Mother 7:32 AM  

I was in Zambia on a safari, but still failed on LUSAKA. DNF streak at 2 now. Names! Trivia! How about some rebuses or other wordplay?

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

Too much crosswordese but otherwise a good concept. For a while, I had dirty rot because if you circle up backwards you can find the word 'ten' (backwards of net) to form the combination of dirty rotten scoundrel which seems to be head over heels in a different way. For blood, I agree it is type O not O-type. Usually, you don't need to say type, as context is evident.

Glimmerglass 7:47 AM  

@Rex, I think you missed one pair of themers. Although DIRTY RAT is directly under the HEAD of the revealer. I think it’s BIG WHEEL that it is supposed to be OVER DIRTY RAT. I came her last expecting that @Rex would object to the offset position of the parts, but I didn’t think you’d miss it.

GHarris 7:56 AM  

Had to check on the spelling of Topol, initially had it Topal. Then the final section fell. Easy yet fun.

Lewis 8:03 AM  

@larry -- First paragraph, right on the money!

NOTOK is a DOOK! I like the ONE up, TEE up, and SHOT down. Cute theme, well executed and a solve that kept me on my toes.

The puzzle contrasts HEAD and HEEL, when during this Weinstein moment it's quite clear that the two can be congruent.

Two Ponies 8:06 AM  

This was one of the flattest, most boring puzzles I've done in awhile.
Crossing two French clues seemed to be a desperate attempt to inject some life but too little too late. This patient was DOA.

I would have been happier if Sasha and Syd had been clued as a Russian ballet nickname and late member of Pink Floyd.

Just for fun, since the puzzle gave me no enjoyment, I read the gambling spam comment. Obviously no one edits these ads. Talk about lost in translation. Wow. So lame that it is funny.

I don't know who Don from Accounting is but that is a very odd post. Almost amusing but not quite. I'm kinda worried about that guy.

QuasiMojo 8:11 AM  

Shouldn't the theme be "HEAD OVER HEEL" or "HEADS OVER HEELS"? The construct didn't make much sense to me. And was one big yawn.

I wanted to squeez in BIG CHEEZ but ended up finally with the less interesting WHEEL.

I've never heard of STOPGO traffic. STOP and GO, yes. And even a KWIK MART called STOP N GO (not sure about the apostrophes there.)

STATION is always shortened as STN at least in the world in which I live. So this constant use of STA in the NYT puzzle is bizarre.

The only CHAIM I know is POTOK, although I do recall the actor TOPOL. But since "Fiddler" is currently on Broadway 'til Dec 31), I think the clue was not clear enough that it was the original 1964 Broadway production, or 1971 film, it was talking about.

Anyone here ever use TOPOL tooth polish? I somehow doubt too many of you were smokers. L'CHAIM!

lujoc 8:23 AM  

The weirdest thing that's bugging me about this puzzle is why did the clue for 4-Down need "(art institution)" added after "Museum" ??

Aratorb 8:24 AM  

@mathgent is spot on re WSJ. It’s clever and challenging without depending on obscurities and crosswordese. Reminds me of Patrick Berry, the gold standard in wordplay. Sad that the late week NYT has drifted so far of late.

fgillis 8:34 AM  

Enjoyed most of this one, but didn't understand DOREMI for 35D Moolah. Explanation?

Joe 8:37 AM  

That LUSAKA/TOPOL crossing is not acceptable. Crossing two incredibly obscure proper nouns should not be allowed. I literally just typed in every letter on my keyboard until the notification popped up that the puzzle was complete. I wanted a K there, not an L. Even with the L there, it still doesn't look right.

Birchbark 8:47 AM  

The L on TOPOL/LUSAKA was the last to fall -- started running the alphabet but fortunately succeeded on the second try, still more of an inference than a blind stab. Or, as I might like to think, a "voluntary walk into the unknown."

I had initially tried TOPOk, which has all the letters of POTOK, the CHAIM I've seen on dust jackets.

ONE over NUMERO UNO is interesting.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Clever puzzle. First entry was HEADOVERHEELS after browsing the clues.

Sir Hillary 8:59 AM  

Not the best, but serviceable. The plural HEELS vs. the singular themers caught my attention, but didn't bother me too much.

OTYPE and STOPGO bothered me a lot more. I've never heard either of those spoken or seen them written. Maybe it's me.

I had the Go Go's song in my head for the entire solve, so was very amused to see @Rex's video link.

Unlike yesterday's KEYES / KATISHA cross, I knew both TOPOL and LUSAKA cold. Horses for courses.

Messrs. White and/or Shortz could have opted for [P]OTOK and [P]EW at 62, and used CHAIM yet again as a cross-reference, or used it SOLEly for POTOK since TOPOL is better known only by his surname.

Cute clue for PUPIL, and thanks @George Barany for the joke.

@Don From Accounting -- Definitely the most gonzo post I've read here in a while. I approve...I think.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Please. There are multiple hitters each with RBI so there are RBIS.

Stanley Hudson 9:12 AM  

@Don from Accounting, I want some of what you’re on . . .

Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi, folks, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.

Woody Guthrie, Do Re Mi

Two Ponies 9:13 AM  

Take @ Trombone Tom's advice and try the WSJ puzzle today for some fun. I'm glad I did.

Wm. C. 9:18 AM  

Like many others, I didn't get the capital of Zambia (Lukasa). But even though I consider myself fairly well knowledgeable on geography, I'm not ashamed of this. Without trying to be rude to the fine citizens of Zambia, I'd have to say that it's a pretty inconsequential country.

Only 16 million people, a GDP of a little over $1k/person. But now that I've googled the country, I'll have to remember that when @Shortz asks what its currency is, I'll get it: KWACHA. ;-)

J. Lithgow 9:26 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Nancy 9:28 AM  

Worst. Thursday. Ever. (Hi, @mathgent. I went looking for your comment before posting. I knew it would be devastating.) Haven't read anyone else yet. I'm assuming everyone else is beyond disappointed too. I'll go take a look now.

Nancy 9:32 AM  

@kitshef -- Do I by any chance see your sly little hand in the 9:26 post?

Zambian from Lusaka 9:37 AM  

Yeah, screw those obscure African countries and their inconsequential-ness. Not to be rude or anything, of course. Maybe we should get the Brits down here again to help us out, because that worked so well the last time.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

@Two Ponies,
You had to Mention Syd Barrett! Sahme on you!! You should know better after Rex's bizarre thoughts on Dark Side last Saturday was it? You can be sure some microagraession or bit of toxic masculinity has his panties are already in a twist and you go and poke him.
Watch out, his homunculus @Z will be on the case in no time to defend his master, and regale us with some more of endless not-quite-right analysis.

Mohair Sam 9:57 AM  

My first reaction to 47A? Finally! - Someone besides TOPOL from "Fiddler" - Who knew the guy had two names?

Very clever theme, liked it. Two new cities for me - LUSAKA, Zambia and NOTOK, Alaska. If they ever use SASHA's sister in the crossword I'm toast. Druids before PAGANS, anybody else? Somehow the RODIN always seems to look empty when you drive by. Refused to believe STOPGO for the longest time.

@Don From Accounting - Liked your take on the puzzle. Interesting anecdote, btw. Don't be a stranger.

CDilly52 10:14 AM  

Liked it although I have been singing “Sue Me” from “Guys and Dolls” since my solve (“. . . All right already, I’m just a nogoodnik. All right already so true. . . “ clever and enjoyable despite the singular/plural problem described by OFL. Got LUSAKA from crosses and knew TOPOL, but not CHAIM since TOPOL typically used just TOPOL to identify himself. Some good wordplay made it enjoyable despite the crosswordese.

kitshef 10:20 AM  

@Nancy - nope, someone else's little brilliancy there.

Re: Zambia. The greateest expeerience of my life was a four-day walking safari in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. Seeing lions when you are on foot is a very different experience from seeing them from within a van.

@Wm C - Malawi also uses the kwacha, while Angola uses the kwanza. Coming soon to a crossword near you.

chefbea 10:24 AM  

got head over heels right away...but DNF even after googling.

@Chefwen..sent you an e-mail yesterday but it came back . Guess I didn't have your current address...going to try your way of steaming eggs!!!

Hartley70 10:30 AM  

What a zany string of comments this morning, starting with @George's joke.

@Don from Accounting, you are weird in a very good way and I think we may need you as a regular. Political comments have gotten way out of bounds here and we deserve a break.

@John Lithgow (or whoever has assumed your persona), thank you for the laugh. I expect you'll be making a regular stop in the immediate future.

@Anonymous 7:35, I appreciate DIRTYROT and your new method of solving by reading entries back to front. You need to stay too.

Malsdemare 10:30 AM  

I really needed a tougher puzzle. For reasons I won't explain, I blew through our monthly allotment of bandwidth in one day and have been offline for most of the week (will go offline again in a moment). So I've been living a sociological experiment (well, case study), attending to how my behavior has altered with no social media and little news until evenings. For what it's worth, I've felt more serene, but that could be because the weather has been lovely and I've been active. However, the puzzle: I simply want more challenge as I sip my second cup of coffee. I knew TOPOL, wasn't bothered by the singular HEAD with muktiple HEELS, had no trouble with the French or woth SASHA. I thought the theme was cute, the fill okay. But, as I said, I'm pretty mellow these days; you should probably ignore me.

So I've printed out the WSJ puzzle and will now turn off our system, collect the puzzle from the printer, and wile away a few more minutes. See you all when our system resets the 29th.

Unknown 10:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ethan Taliesin 10:36 AM  

I increased my time by nearly half scanning the puzzle trying to figure out what I did wrong.

For some reason I had NO GOOD NIT for louse, which made a small amount of sense at the moment never mind that it ain't a thing.

(And duh, neither is LUSATA)

phantomtides 10:39 AM  

There is no little wheel; it's "small wheel." As in "small wheel turn by the fire and rod, big wheel turn by the grace of god."

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Er, that production of "Fiddler" closed December 31 last year, though it's not immediately apparent from its still-running website. Which is a shame because it was a really great one - Danny Burstein as Tevye was phenomenal.

Joseph Michael 11:13 AM  

Great joke, @George. Thanks for the laugh!

Doreen 11:15 AM  

@ Ethan T. 10:36,
I nearly did the same thing with nit, which is of course a young louse. No nit is a good nit.

Barbara Weinstein 11:19 AM  

Liked this puzzle overall, but not only did O-type sound like "not a thing" but wanting two names for Topol was questionable. If you look at the cast for the film of Fiddler on the Roof, he's always listed as Topol, no Chaim. I had no idea that was his first name; luckily, the crosses made it relatively easy to figure out.

Tita A 11:21 AM  

@Don in Accountig's entire post was a caricature of all our posts. Well done.

In Germany, the traffic reports on the radio are a thing of beauty. Traffic conditions must be described in very specific terms...Stopped, bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go.
And they announced the roads in numerical order.
And they always preceded each incident with the direction and the exits...
"On the 656 direction Heidelberg btwn exits 8 and 10, stopped traffic."

So much better than the local colloquialisms used here. "Traffic's a mess on the Mixmaster. And a tire-changer in the No-Exit Zone is slowing traffic to a crawl."

Only problem for us at was German numbers. We would listen intently to the report, but by the time our brains processed "sechshundertfunfundsechsig" to "Six hundred five and n further to "656", the announcer would be on to the next road.

Loved the puzzle. I like wacky ideas like this. wanting BIGCHEEz messed me up for too long.

a jazz listener's thoughts 11:36 AM  

Agreed. It was obvious but strange.

a jazz listener's thoughts 11:39 AM  

Woody Guthrie song “if you ain’t got the do re mi....” is where I know it from

a jazz listener's thoughts 11:42 AM  

What is APU?

RooMonster 11:43 AM  

Hey All !
Nice theme, good Honcho and Heel words, resting on top of each other, but I found the fill to be NOT OK. Two Frenchies crossing? WEST as clued? O TYPE?? TOPOL CHAIM (CHAIM TOPOL)? TOD the Fox? DO RE MI for moolah? Eek.

So a half and half puz for me. Puz was HEAD OVER HEEL, my solve was FRIGHT OVER SHOT. :-)


Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Jobless claims lowest in 44 years. If you're getting your daily dose of hate on CNN or MSNBC, you will have missed that.

Joseph Michael 11:47 AM  

Ned White, we must be on the same wavelength. This puzzle practically filled itself in. My only hesitation was the TOPOL / LUSAKA cross which I got thanks to a lucky guess.

Theme is cute but kind of goes KABLOOEY when you realize that the singular HEAD over the plural HEELS doesn't quite match what's happening in the grid. A one-legged man would have to fall "head over heel" in love to accurately reflect the grid entries.

However, it was fun anyway (though it does seem like more of a Wednesday than Thursday offering). Liked the name calling in the themers, especially NOGOODNIK, the long downs, and the clues for AUTOS and OPEN IT. Also liked the shout out to Chicago with EL TRAIN.

@Lewis beat me to the comment that NOTOK is a DOOK. I hope someone is building a Dook Dictionary for future generations.

mathgent 12:14 PM  

Discouraging news for those of us who wish that rappers would just go away. Today's WSJ reports that five of the ten songs to hit no.1 on the Billboard singles chart this year have been rap, the most ever.

I don't listen to rap but I enjoy learning the names of some of the top performers. I've learned some of their names from the puzzles, a source of a surprisingly large part of my knowledge. Today's WSJ article had some new names for me. Kendrick Lamar, Migos, Childish Bambino, Lil Uzi Vert. My middle-school grandson went to a concert with his dad by Logic. Logic was in the mainstream media recently because of his concern about teen suicide.

old timer 12:34 PM  

From "The Wheel" by Garcia and Hunter:

Little wheel turn by the fire and rod
Big wheel turn by the grace of God.

I was fortunate to hear that song for the first timess at a little club in North Beach Garcia liked to perform at when the Dead was not on tour.

I put in "Potok" at first. Only got TOPOL after running the alphabet for LUSAKA. Which I remembered eventually. The revealer did not reveal much so I was not helped there,

jb129 12:36 PM  

I thought this would be a breeze when I got "Head over Heels" right away as my first fill-in.

Embarrassed to admit that SCOUNDREL & NUMERO UNO killed me & had me going for a while.

All in all, enjoyable.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

This is now the fourth puzzle in a row with an Obama clue. This is unacceptable and would not have been allowed in the Maleska era. I saw the clue and tossed the puzzle aside. enough already.

QuasiMojo 12:40 PM  

Thank you @anonymous 11:09 for clarifying that about the latest Broadway version of Fiddler. I apologize for my mistake regarding the closing date. I just assumed since the site was up and didn't specify the year that it was still current.

Cassieopia 12:44 PM  

@jazz 11:42 - Apu is a character on The Simpsons, he works at the Kwik-E Mart.

Bob Mills 12:49 PM  

I didn't know Zero Mostel had changed his name to Chaim Toool.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

@ Anonymous 9:46
Watch out, his homunculus @Z will be on the case in no time to defend his master, and regale us with some more of endless not-quite-right analysis.

In classical Greek, no doubt.

Dr. R 12:55 PM  

OK. Been reading this blog for a while and can't figure out WOE. I think I get most of the other inside jokes. Is there a list of abbreviations approved/tolerated by OFL and the community?

jberg 1:03 PM  

@kitshef, thanks for the Stonehenge link. I first went there in 1982, or thereabouts, and the authorities had built a high chain-link fence around the whole thing to keep wannabe Druids from messing the place up. Kind of took the edge off the spiritual experience, although it was still there. I went back with my wife a few years ago, and it's much better -- all open, and they even closed the nearest highway to improve the feeling of awe.

I haven't been to LUSAKA, though, but c'mon -- as @rex says, your bad if you don't know the world capitals.

@Glimmerglass, Rex didn't miss that -- he interpreted it differently: BIG WHEEL is over the word HEEL, bhile DIRTY RAT is under the word HEAD, so that's two theme pairs, only done differently -- a nice touch, IMO.

I'm truly impressed that I remembered the name of ENOS, though. He was sort of led to the slaughter, wasn't he.

kitshef 1:20 PM  

@Dr. R
WoE = What on Earth!? - used for an answer that not only did you not know, but you didn't recognize it even after seeing it.

Fred Romagnolo 1:26 PM  

When I was in Chicago, everybody just said "the El," never heard anyone say "the EL TRAIN." I played Tevye the same year that the movie came out so I was familiar with CHAIM TOPOL. I was under the impression that Zero Mostel was in the original Broadway cast. APU ran the Kwik-E-Mart in the Simpsons. I agree that the term "DIRTY RAT" will forever be associated with the great James Cagney. As a historian I'm familiar with the fact that most people wrongly assume that Stonehenge was built by Druids. I was there in 1969 when you could still wander around in it. It was a raw and blustery day, exactly right for the location, awesome. I'm not convinced that crossword solvers should know everything that Tom Hanks ever said. The good professor's joke was charming. I see anon still has it in for @Z, what a bore!

Teedmn 1:30 PM  

So I don't know the name of a capital city with a greater population of 2.4 million, sheesh. I conSOLE myself with thinking that perhaps most Zambians don't know the name of the capital of Minnesota - until I consider that most kids have better geographical knowledge than I do - so no consolation after all :-(. (I did guess correctly so at least I didn't have a DNF).

TankTOP held me up on this relatively easy puzzle (certainly I was never able to "hold up" a TUBE TOP!). R_DI was an unknown to me, for 31A. When I finally hit the West DIR., HEAD OVER HEELS made TUBETOP appear.

I liked the clues, "Split to join" for ELOPE and "Its home is on the range" for BURNER. Thanks, NW.

And @kitshef, thanks for the eternal TAO questions and the STONEHENGE link.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

@anon 12:53

Of course! That's how @Z rolls. Aint no one smarter, more erudite or insightful than our man @Z. Why, just ask him! Just don't ask him to predict a political race. Or do ask. Then run to the nearest bookie and bet on the candidate he says will lose.

Chance 2:38 PM  

Results for "stop-go traffic" on Google: 39,900, and many of those have an ampersand. Results for "stop-and-go traffic:" 649,000. I call foul.

Chance 2:45 PM  

Life lesson: Learn your world capitals if you want to be Thursday finishers.

Joe Dipinto 2:51 PM  

They should have had


at 62, and then CHAIM could have been clued as "First name of 47a and 62a."

@mathgent -- The rapper's name is Childish Gambino, not Bambino -- I hope that was a typo and not an error by the WSJ. He's the alter ego of actor Donald Glover, who just won an Emmy for the show "Atlanta".

Carola 3:02 PM  

Cute theme, but nitpicker that I am, I also thought that all of the HEELS should be plural. Thanks to @Rex for pointing out the HEAD and HEELS position in the central spanner relative to the honcho above and scoundrel below; I'd skipped over that line.

My husband has trouble with these phrases that involve BODY parts. Two of my favorites are "I haven't seen head nor hair..." and "Making money hand over foot."

@Quasimojo et al. - I thought it was cute that CHAIM is over NOTOK instead of Potok.

@Fred Romagnolo - I have similar memories of Stonehenge from an early spring visit in 1971. Our group of four had it all to ourselves. Never forgotten. (Also - I think EL TRAIN is OK as clued: you take the EL, but the sight you see is the TRAIN.)

@evil doug - I totally agree about Boris.

QuasiMojo 3:05 PM  

My bad. Yes, Zero Mostel played Tevye in the original Fiddler (it ran for eight years!) My big surprise is that Bea Arthur was in it. lol. BERT CONVY was in it too. I always would ask my Mom when he was on the Match Game or whatever show he was on, "Who IS that guy?" Recently I saw him in a supremely god-awful movie called ACT ONE in which he played "Archie Leach" aka Cary Grant. He didn't even pretend to have a British accent.

Masked and Anonymous 3:36 PM  

Head louses! Excellent. Darn good enough, at least -- I can dig it.
Only thing: Awful eazy-E theme for a ThursPuz. Had that part pretty much figured out just eye-ballin the situation, before I ever picked up the pencil. HEADOVERHEELS has the name DOVER hidden in it (yo, @muse) … sooo … this puz has some sole, dude.

What **would** be the plural for a head over heel pair? Choices:
* Two heads over heels.
* Two (head over heel)s.
M&A could be sold on either variation, provided the seller accompanied his fave choice with a coupla free cinnamon rolls.
Anyhoo, that issue didn't worry m&e, all that much.

OTYPE. har. Must hafta be one of them ERDOCTORs, to bond with that OTYPE puppy real tight.

staff weeject picks: Both STA and DIR dare to be desperate.
fave stacked coincidence: ONE over NUMEROUNO.

Thanx, Mr. White. And congratz on yer puz #20.

Masked & Anonym007Us


okanaganer 3:39 PM  

@mathgent and others... can you please write SPOILER ALERT in caps, or something, if you are going to mention answers in other puzzles that the reader may not have done yet?

chefbea 3:41 PM  

got head over heels right away...but DNF even after googling.

Mohair Sam 3:43 PM  

@Tita A - You're right, @Don (2:02A) was mocking us all - makes his (her?) delightfully strange post all the more clever. Nice catch.

@George B. (12:30A) - Yeah, I remember that joke from a million years back, thanks for linking.

G. Weissman 3:44 PM  

Can someone please educate me re 35D and 62A? Thanks in advance.

Chris Ott 3:47 PM  

Thanks for this explanation. Listening to the song now sure does remind me of Mr. Trump’s new immigration policy. Old is new again again.

Lewis 4:46 PM  

@joedipinto -- That POTOK suggestion was brilliant!

Joe Dipinto 4:46 PM  

@G. Weissman - "Do-re-mi" is a euphemism for money, like "moolah" or "dinero". Probably it started as an extension of "dough." NOTOK reads "not okay."

Joe Dipinto 4:52 PM  

@Lewis - Hah! Well, I should have read X-Word Info before posting, because that was exactly what the constructor did originally. Apparently it caused other problems (though I don't see how) and got changed.

mathgent 5:44 PM  

okanaganer (3:39): I didn't mention the answers to any other puzzle in today's posts. I wrote the names of some rappers who were in an article I read. Not in a puzzle.

ChE Dave 5:55 PM  

Sorry on 12D, but Oktoberfest is a lager, not an ale.

As a National Beer Judge and certified beer geek, I am qualified to make this statement.

There are German ales - Kolsch, Wheats, Altbiers, but you usually don't find these at Oktoberfest.

burtonkd 6:19 PM  

Regarding little wheel, small wheel: Classic spiritual
Zekiel saw de wheel
Way in de middle of de air
De big wheel run by faith
Little wheel run by de grace of God

Middle and little roll of the tongue rhythmically, much like flowing rappers - not always a fan, but it does come from some very old traditions.

Z 6:49 PM  

Jesus H Christ. I don’t even have time to post and I get my pet anonymouse talking to himself three or four times?

As for TOPOL/LUSAKA, seems like a classic natick to me. The role we all remember TOPOL for was released in 1971, 46 years ago. If you had asked me who starred in the movie I would have said that it was Zero Mostel, so even though I knew TOPOL I don’t know if it’s fair to say he’s any more famous today than NC Wyeth. And LUSAKA? Sure, crossworthy but I’m guessing that less than 5% of solvers given an unlabeled map of Africa could find Zambia. As with yesterday, it’s not that either is not crossworthy or fair by themselves, it’s the crossing of a foreign name with a foreign city, making the answer uninferable, that is the issue.

@Evil Doug - I would have guessed Natasha Fatale.

Nancy 6:55 PM  

@Quasi (3:05)-- ACT ONE, the movie, was godawful. ACT ONE, the book, was the best memoir I've ever read. I have a hunch you'd really like it too, based on the interests you've indicated on the blog. So if you've never read it, I hope maybe you will now.

@Carola (3:02) -- Your husband's malapropisms are really funny!

Anonymous 7:18 PM  

PET ANONYMOUS? You're one sad sacknow of a choad.
I assure you there'should at least two anonymouses taking you to task for being a tool.

Joy2u 8:02 PM  

@RooMonster thanks for yesterday's kind correction. I do understand arbitrary rules, and did wonder whether my take on things would be within the parameters. Oh well, kitshef's was simply splendid anyway.

Anonymous 8:08 PM  

Shouldn’t that be “anonymice?”

Joy2u 8:59 PM  

@all who care:
We have one (singular) HEAD; we have two (count 'em) HEELS.
If we take a tumble, the HEAD is going to flip with the HEELS.
That is the primary subject of the (older than me) saying. Something like, "I'm HEAD OVER HEELS in love ..."
In the case of the entire 'grid' (is that correct, grid?) the dirtyrottenscoundrel is one heel, but the only possible 'nit' would be that it 'should' be "HEADS over HEELS".

Anonymous 9:02 PM  

Owing to your lack of time to read, let alone respond to posts(LOL),
I'm not sure why I'm bothering, but God bless you. You are one sorry piece of work. Go wing a Frisbee, or leer at some poor exploited soul in the nudeie bars you're an expert on in Windsor. Either way, sleep tight choad.

Anonymous 11:47 PM  

Z said...
Jesus H Christ. I don’t even have time to post and I get my pet anonymouse talking to himself three or four times?

You have more than one "admirer," so wrong again, genius.

Austenlover 12:19 AM  

Topol was a gimme. Lusaka was not.

Unknown 6:35 AM  

WOE is what on earth. Had to search around in the comments myself a while back to figure it out!

G. Weissman 8:19 AM  

I got NOT OK as the answer, but don’t see what sense it makes. Never heard do-re-mi as slang for $$. When was that a thing?

Anonymous 8:17 PM  

All the "clever" ones were "ugh, really?" instead of "ohhh, haha!"

The "hint" was not a hint. "honcho" and "louse" do not need clarification.

Most of the trivia and all of the slang is wayyy before my time, and I'm pushing 40.

The one current pop culture attempt is "Syd Tha Kid" (79,000 results on Google... one of the LEAST famous members of a 14-member rap collective that itself is not really famous... and I've only heard of them because I'm a hipster [Odd Future])

and then a bunch of just hideous fill.

-Rex Parkour

Chili Guy 5:13 PM  

My wife and I enjoyed this joke immensely!

Chili Guy 5:19 PM  

I love your imagination.

Blogger 2:58 PM  

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Burma Shave 10:22 AM  




BS2 10:25 AM  

still must learn to proof:
CHUMP from recently, chumps today

thefogman 10:26 AM  

I solved the theme at 39A right off the bat and completed quite quickly from that point on. The only writeover was at 48D where I fell for the trap and had DRUIDS before PAGANS. The puzzle was chock full of DOOKs (ERDOCTOR, NOTOK, SIDEB, OTYPE etc.) which I am not particularly fond of. As for the theme, it was fine, but am I being picky if I say it should be HEADsOVERHEELS or HEADOVERHEEL as there are an equal amount of both so how can it be HEADOVERHEELS? Also, there was some French cluing, which might have caused grief to many who do not know the language. I'm not sure if TOPBANANA Mr. Shortz should give the green light to foreign language cluing as freely as he does. Am I a NOGOODNIK for saying so?

thefogman 10:37 AM  

After reading his blurb, I see HEAD honcho Rex raised the HEADs vs HEAD issue too.

spacecraft 10:56 AM  

Well, @thefogman, Each (normal) human BODY had one HEAD and two HEELS, so the reveal line is fine by me. I note that BIGWHEEL contains HEEL within; truly a Freudian slip!

Theme and execution are OK; fill is NOTOK--which is a case in point. I knew the actor the way he was billed: last name only. This means I escaped the popular Natick at 50, but that mess in the middle east (how familiar does THAT phrase sound?!) was a wild guess. The clue for RUES, "French network," is Saturday-brutal. Too much French there. I did fill in VUE, saying "IHOPE I'm right." Whew.

Other fill crap abounds; I'm not gonna list 'em. I think the Obama girls are growing up quite nicely, so am pleased to award SASHA the DOD SASH. See what I did there? Honorable mention for imagining Mae WEST in a TUBETOP.

All right, I will mention one stinker. As the tweet above states, no ONE ever says "OTYPE." It's Type O, which makes me, being negative, a universal donor. Or I was; too old now. But I have my 8-gallon pin. Fun fact learned: that Rock Around the Clock was SIDEB. Par.

rondo 11:07 AM  

It's a Thurs-puz and I'll give thanks it wasn't a rebus. TOPOL a gimme and LUSANKA filled itself in, so no Natick here. Wondered what was going on in the WEST with ERDO__ showing, the answer took care of itself.

Probably more beer at Oktoberfest than ALE. Don't much care for ALE.

Hand up as ONE who thinks first of Boris and Natasha when seeing NOGOODNIK.

TUBETOPs remind me of Kicks soccer and the men's room at the old Met Stadium. There's a story there; maybe some other time for all our SAKES.

I won't RESORT to the former president's H.S. age daughter, rather call on WWE star yeah baby SASHA Banks. So highbrow.

IHOPE y'all enjoy your turkey today, I'll have mine after I VUE the Vikes game.

thefogman 12:31 PM  

@Rondo Is LUSANKA the decaf version of Zambia's capital? :-)

rondo 12:54 PM  

Good to the last drop, if I drop that N.

Diana, LIW 2:14 PM  

First - Happy Thanksgiving all. I am thankful for this blog.

And, at first I thought my T-day turkey arrived early. Easy - hah! I couldn't get started. Even once started, still tuff going.

Didn't know the rapper (!), the D&D company, name of fox, the capital, always forget chimp's name, Zac, et.

But a toehold was had, and my slow victory - no look-ups or errors - was made sweeter. Well butter my buns and call me a biscuit - I finished!

Thought the theme was fine and dandy. Maybe not a typical Thursday "trick," but still... Had to remind myself to think outside of whatever box I was in to get the DOOKs.

Knew APU, TOPAL, RUD (I or y?).

We're off soon to a local hotel's sumptuous spread. Oh boy - the Christmas movies are starting to roll. Anybody have a movie they're looking forward to?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and Christmas Story

Diana, LIW 2:20 PM  

PS - meant to mention - Bill Butler's crossword blog has a better explanation of the theme - I think OFL overthought it.

Lady Di

leftcoastTAM 3:02 PM  

Yes, relatively easy, and the theme was quite helpful, but there were a couple of glitches.

Started with MALIA in the NE, later saw crosses required SASHA. No sweat.

Had a relatively smooth trip to the SE and the TOPOL/LUSAKA cross. It came down to either a K or an L. Guessed K, dnf.

Happy Thanksgiving!

centralscrewtinizer 4:16 PM  

Huh? We all have one head and two heels. Hell, even one loaf has two heels.
Don did a great accounting with a droll turn into the absurd.
Got a great laugh from my wife with the sixth grade punch line.

strayling 8:31 PM  

Happy Thanksgiving, left-coasters. I don't comment much myself but I do enjoy reading what you all have to say.

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