Furniture superstore / TUES 4-24-2018 / Polish seaport / Hunky-dory / Mortise's partner

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Hi, crossworders! It's Clare, and I'm back for yet another Tuesday puzzle. By the time we meet again at the end of May, I'll have graduated! Maybe I'll even have figured out where I'm going to law school by then. As it is, I've turned my thesis in and have just one week of classes left, so it's now a battle between my senioritis and me.

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Medium-Difficult for a Tuesday

THEME: NO MAN IS AN ISLAND (55A: John Donne quote disproved by 17-, 25- and 43-across?) — Parts of the names of the theme answers are also islands

Theme answers:
  • BRET EASTON ELLIS (17A: Author of "American Psycho")
  • CUBA GOODING JR (25A: "Jerry Maguire" Oscar Winner)
  • IDRIS ELBA (43A: Star of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom")

Word of the Day: GRIZABELLA (29D)
Grizabella is the "Glamour Cat" in the musical production Cats... Grizabella is, at the time of her appearance, a very old cat, withered by her age to the point that she no longer resembles the proud, carefree, flamboyant dancer of her youth... Possibly because of this, it is Grizabella whom Old Deuteronomy consigns to the Heaviside Layer to be reborn. During her change, Grizabella sings the song "Memory," which has been thought of by audiences as a very emotionally touching, profound, and even mysterious composition. It has been recorded by over 150 different artists, including Barry Manilow, Michael Crawford, Barbra Streisand, and Kikki Danielsson. (Wikipedia)

• • •

I thought the theme was clever. It didn't help me solve the puzzle at all, but it was a fun "aha" moment when I looked back after I had finished. Elba has just a brief role in history, but it did provide for that nice Napoleon palindrome, "Able was I ere I saw Elba." (As an aside, IDRIS ELBA definitely has my vote to be the next James Bond).

So, there were lots and lots of names in this puzzle — SO many names. Beyond the names in the themers, there's GARR (32A), ERMA (18D), OLGA (36A), and GRIZABELLA (29D). Even JAKE (30D), although it's clued as an expression and not a person. (The term is such an old-fashioned way to describe hunky-dory that, gasp, it isn't even in Urban Dictionary.) I got so caught up in the names that I convinced myself that 60A: Mortise's partner (TENON) was going to be talking about an old crime show duo or something, not a way to form a joint.

There was also a fair amount of obscurity (by Tuesday standards). The cluing for SERTA (33A) felt pretty strange — I had no idea they were known for numbered sheep plush toys. HD TV SETS (24D: Modern hotel room item) are not really a modern contraption. The old way of talking about them is often "tv sets," and the new way is "HD TVs" or just "TVs," but certainly not combining the terms. CRUDITY (40D: primitiveness) seemed like it was making fun of itself — that word is a crudity. NONCE? ANON? Those are so old that they weren't a big problem; they just provided a musty air for the puzzle.

I had trouble in the SW corner. It seems odd to describe Mao and Xi as ICONS (47D) in China. Leaders, sure, but icons? DR MOM (48D: She might check for a fever with her hand) is a weird way to talk about something every Mom (and Dad) does. It also took me a little while to figure out that 46A: Approach furtively, with "to" was SIDLE UP and not "sneak up." Mix all those in with a 60-plus-year-old Patti Page song, I CRIED, and I stared at the screen for a while. (In the interest of improving this millennial's culture, I listened to I CRIED on YouTube after this puzzle, and it's a very nice jazz song!)

  • Why do crosswords love the color ECRU (2D) so much? I swear there are many more interesting colors than that. Maybe try chartreuse next time?
  • I'm starting to feel bad for ORCAS! They're usually described as killer whales, but this puzzles says they're 28A: Menaces of the deep, which is kind of sad. They're just trying to survive in a dark and dangerous ocean!
  • The new racing bike attachment is clipless pedals; definitely not TOE CLIPS (23D). Those went out of fashion for racers a long time ago.
  • 5D is clever (They're likely to get into hot water: TEABAGS) but felt like it should have a question mark at the end of the clue because it seemed pretty punny.
  • A 13th anniversary gift is LACE (61A)? Who came up with these lists anyway? When I get married, I'm certainly not going to be getting my husband lead for our 7th anniversary... (And just imagine if he tries to give me some)
  • My thesis is on the Confederados, the thousands of Southerners who fled after the Civil War and settled in Brazil, so I was glad to see I'm not the only one with BRAZILIANS  (27D) on my mind.
Hope you all have a great week!

Signed, Clare Carroll, an almost-done-with-college Eli.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 1:32 AM  

I had Odensk for GDANSK, and when I put in GDANSK, I left the e in instead of the A, so that caused a solve holdup for a while longer than it should have. Good Tuesday workout with solid fill.

jae 1:36 AM  

Medium-tough for me too. This was one fine Tues.! We have ERICA who wrote of the zipless...., we have BRAZILIANS, American Psycho... Liked it a bunch, clever theme with some crunch.

I just saw IDRIS ELBA in Molly’s Game. An excellent “based on a true story” movie written by Aaron Sorkin (the screen play got an Oscar nod). Well worth a look.

Melrose 2:21 AM  

On the tough side for Tuesday, but fun. Theme is nice. Idris Elba is hot.

chefwen 2:38 AM  

Did this one starting before and finishing after a dinner party. The before part was a lot easier than the after part. DUH! Did not know BRET EASTON ELLIS , I had to rely on all the downs to fill that puppy in.

Had a wee bit of a problem with kitty cat GRIZABELLA , wanted two z’s and one L, didn’t work, should have known better, saw that play three or four times.

Cute theme.

Mo Pariser 3:21 AM  

Clare>Rex. Love your write-up today.

I had the same exact experience navigating the SW. Could have finished in great time if not for my futile attempts to shove moMmy in as my fever checker.

My first time seeing Holy Roman Empire abbreviated. No opinion regarding it. Just stating a fact.

"Racing" bikes. Yuch. They're road bikes and they certainly don't have TOECLIPS. Least favorite clue of the day- notwithstanding Jake (what?) nor ISMS which is a cop out of a word in my opinion. Soon enough we'll be speaking in only prefixes and suffixes and the world will turn to complete anarchy.

Otherwise a really nice puzzle. Can't get Safety Dance out of my head though... We GDANSK if you want to... 🎶🎵

Mike 4:13 AM  

I felt a lot more at risk of a Natick than I would expect for a Tuesday, but I finally worked out all the names that weren’t obvious.

Loren Muse Smith 4:17 AM  

Hey, Clare – congrats on almost graduating. Good luck! I enjoyed your write-up this morning and agree about the clue for TEA BAGS needing a question mark.

Anyone else try to fit in “Renée Zellweger” for CUBA GOODING JR? I kept tweaking the double letters, thinking I was misspelling it. And she didn’t even win the Oscar. Sigh.

I guess I knew that SIDLE UP meant being sneaky, but in my head the meaning had morphed into more like someone working their way over and kinda scooching in sideways. So I could picture this guy sidling up to me, grinning, with an ulterior motive. Wanting to talk to me about Amway. No sneak about it. I’ll probably continue to use it this way for the nonce until I investigate further.

EIRE sidled up to the northeast corner. Themer wannabe.

And leave it to Peter to sneak in an, ahem, Easter egg with that center islandsome entry, CCV. Crimean Congo Verde is a little-known island in the Black Sea famous for its superb lace. And kiln tiles.

@Mo Pariser – we’ll have to agree to disagree on the ISMS deal. I’m thrilled when I hear a prefix or suffix leaving the nest, spreading its wings and flying off as a full-fledged word.

Person A: Is it that Serta mattress comfortable?
Person B: (doing the hand swivel thing and screwing up his mouth) Ish.

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND. I could come pretty darn close. Even though I present here as social and chatty, I adore being alone. I know the expression means much more than that, but still. Solitude feeds my soul.

Peter – always a pleasure.

Charles Flaster 4:38 AM  

Liked the puzzle and loved the review.
Good luck, Clare.
The proper names were in my skewed old bailiwick so a rather quick time.
“Cats” is a beautifully written show that should be seen by all ages.
Thanks PG

LHS 888 5:21 AM  

I also enjoyed the puzzle and the write-up.
@LMS - hand up for the Renee Zellweger attempt, but it sorted itself out quickly enough.
@chefwen - hand up for needing crosses to spell GRIZABELLA correctly.
JAKE = hunky-dory was news to me. (JAKEs = privy) Thank heavens for crosses!

Lewis 6:22 AM  

@clare -- That was one terrific and perceptive review, with excellent points about SERTA, HDTVSETS, ORCAS, and TOE CLIPS.
@Loren -- Still laughing at your take on that center-of-the-grid RRN.

Peter knows names, which so often people and crowd his puzzles -- this puzzle had, by my count, nine people names, not counting the theme answers, or IRIS, JAKE, or GRIZABELLA. I often flinch at names, especially pop culture names, in puzzles, as opposed to my wife, who thrives on them, wants them in. All the names today, though, were in my brain, some closer to the surface than others. And GRIZABELLA, by the way, really livens up the grid.

I liked the clues for PETE and TEA BAGS, and the theme is clever and original, a wow. Peter has such a talent for themes and throwing puzzles together -- it seems to come easy to him, whereas for me, puzzle making is like hacking through the vines (and yet I love the process). This puzzle had a mini-theme of answers ending with A (10), and certainly gets an A for the enjoyment it gave me. Thanks, Peter!

smoss11 6:43 AM  

Can someone explain how "ever's partner" is "anon"? I would understand if the answer was ever (as in "ever and ever"), with the A from Sinai I thought it might be "amen" but that didn't look right. Even harder crossing with the odd way "icons" was clued and I was sunk in the SWISS corner.

three of clubs 6:48 AM  

But, MAN is an isle.

BarbieBarbie 6:50 AM  

Near-record-time Easy, but not enjoyable because of all the names. I don’t feel any kind of Aha when I fill in a name. Just a Yup, That One. So, two thumbs Meh for this puzzle.

Me too on SIDLE. For me it’s someone casually edging up. Then speaking to you, and you jump. For example.

Clare, congrats on the thesis, and have fun at graduation. The most interesting part of today’s puzzle was learning about the Confederados. Brazil is kind of a starting-over place, huh? Italians and Germans too, plus innumerable second-sons. Question for you: if someone was a dyed-ITW Confederate enough to feel the need to flee post-Bellum, then where did they get the money to go set themselves up in Brazil? Were these all people who hedged their bets all along?

Z 6:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cassieopia 6:54 AM  

Love the write up but puzzle had too many names for my taste (and tbh my abilities). Yes LMS I tried Renee Zewelliger too. As a biker, can confirm TOECLIP is a relic of the past - they’re just clips. And last quibble - ORCAS tend to stay near the ocean’s surface.

Z 6:54 AM  

@Mo Pariser and @LMS - When I see ISMS I immediately remember my Under Heavy Manners. Trumpets. I can hear trumpets.

Largest group of Portuguese speakers and the largest group of Spanish speakers and largest group of English speakers are all on this side of the pond. The colonizers are 4th, 3rd, and 5th. Huh.

Mao gets beat up here fairly frequently for being a mass murderer, so I chuckled at the provocative use of him to clue ICONS.

@LMS - If you see the Amway guy coming you take immediate protective action, so of course they have to SIDLE UP furtively or their prey... er, future customers will escape.

Nice to see my aunt OLGA in the puzzle. She was not Russian.

Ever and ANON

Two Ponies 6:58 AM  

A grid that depends totally on names just isn't fun for me and not why I do crosswords.

When asked in an interview "What is your favorite ingredient?" Paula Deen responded without a moments hesitation and in her lovely Southern drawl "Butter". I loved it!

I only have heard nonce in England as a synonym for dumb ass as in "Don't be such a nonce".

Brylcreem, a little dab'll do ya.

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

It's been awhile since I've used them so if they are out of style I wouldn't know but they were good for letting you add power to your pedaling on the up stroke.

Anonymous 7:16 AM  

IDRIS ELBA, the sexiest man alive.

kitshef 7:26 AM  

Very good, especially for a Tuesday. This had a nice, coherent theme, a solid revealer, and some elegant fill like BRAZILIANS and GRIZABELLA. Did not notice the name-heaviness (beyond the themers, of course).

Cassieopia already picked my nit that ORCAS aren’t really creatures of ‘the deep’. Being air-breathers, and lacking specialized adaptations for deep diving (like, say, sperm whales), ORCAS stay pretty shallow.

Robert A. Simon 7:31 AM  

Clare, I thought your review was terribly kind to an awful puzzle trapped by its wonderful theme. Once the constructor noticed that "NO MAN IS AN ISLAND" was 15 letters long--and thought of three famous people with islands in their names--he couldn't resist. And who could? The resulting problems have been well-noted here--as usual-- but again, the theme was so clever, it was well worth my time.

And Clare, don't worry about the anniversary gift symbol thing. For our seventh anniversary, I took my wife to NY to see a couple of Broadway shows, figuring there were enough "leads" to qualify.

Long Islander 7:41 AM  

Ellis isn’t an island anymore than Long and Staten are islands. Ellis Island is an island just like Long Island and Staten Island are islands.

Warren Peace 7:52 AM  

It's widely believed that what Donne actually said was, "no mayonnaise in Ireland." The context is lost to history but he was known to have said it after eating a blt.

GHarris 7:53 AM  

Challenging ( because of all the names) yet fun. Needed the crosses which were fair. Theme helped me with one name Elba.

Glimmerglass 8:03 AM  

Hardish for a Tuesday because of all the names. I didn’t remember PETE Session (only Jeff came to mind) and never heard of author Ellis, but where they crossed, the T was the only letter that gave two first names. Interesting theory, Clare, about hunkydory. I think of it as very rural (Midwest or Appalachian). I can understand WWII soldiers hearing about a Japanese red light district, but not in the 1800s — that would have to have been whalers.

Hungry Mother 8:05 AM  

Unblinking stare at the SW for a long, long time before it fell. The theme saved me on some of the entries.

wgh 8:09 AM  

In what decade does JAKE mean hunky-dory?

michiganman 8:20 AM  

ever and ANON is an old phrase meaning occasionally. "They're likely to get into hot water" did not need a ?. This is a straight forward literal clue/answer. I think as solvers we sometimes try to make a solve more difficult than it is. That's the fun. Sometimes it's the easy one. Other times it's not. I would like to see less use of "?", "say", "maybe", "in a way", etc. I like doing xwords because I often have to think about the different ways words and phrases are used. Re: TOE CLIP-it's a real thing. I still have clips on one of my bikes. Loved JAKE.

PoopyPants 8:22 AM  

Ahhh, a vituperation-free write up. So soothing in the morning. Thanks, Clare.

QuasiMojo 8:24 AM  

Where did you PREP?

Hi, Clare, welcome back! And congrats on being so close to finishing college. Ironically, New Haven is at its loveliest in May, just as you will be leaving. The wisteria awash on the faux-gothic moats near Harkness Tower... Enjoy! Your senior paper sounds fascinating. That is a chapter of history I know nothing about.

GDANSK is still DANZIG to me.

I'll have to look up this IDRIS fella. I didn't know I had some competition for being the sexiest man alive. (just barely... the ZEST is fading.)

TOE CLIP sounds like something they might SIDLE UP to you and foist on you at a corner PEDI bar.

Don't look up TEA BAGS, Clare, in the Urban Dictionary.

One time a dear friend of mine flew in from Paris. I asked her if she wanted to see a Broadway show. There were so many brilliant plays and musicals to choose from. She insisted on seeing CATS. I couldn't dissuade her. I scrounged up a ticket and proceeded to be petted and pawed (a little DAB won't do them) by aging chorines in ratty costumes that smelled like moth balls and days-old SAN GRIA. Everything was not JAKE. Grizabella was miked to death with a voice that sounded like Teri GARR after too many RYES. One of the worst experiences in all my YEARS. But life GOES ON.

No man is an island but Cynthia RHODES is one; so too Ione SKYE; Doubting ST THOMAS; and perhaps CEYLON Dion; CATALINA Valente; MAURITIUS Povich; Gimme SHELTER (illegitimate daughter of a certain rolling stone); and let's not forget that man-eating sensation on the West Coast: ORCAS.

Amy 8:32 AM  

Spot on.

Kendall 8:37 AM  

I can see why people like puzzles that have a lot of proper noun density but they just aren’t for me. Combine that with the fact that most of the puzzle could have been written the same exact way 30 years ago and I think I’ll just move on tomorrow and not put another thought toward this one.

Actually one last thought - what a terrible and inaccurate clue for ORCAs. They are no more a menace than any single other predatory animal and they certainly don’t spend any significant amount of time in “deep” water. At least not more than a few hundred feet in it, anyway.

Nancy 8:51 AM  

I normally hate puzzles with a plethora of proper names, but I forgave this one because the theme is so cute and the revealer is so clever. And the theme helped me get the third name of IDRIS ELBA -- the only themer I didn't know.

Easy for me at the top and much harder at the bottom. I didn't know the Patti Page song, even though she was from my era. (All I remember her singing was "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window". You remember that doggie -- it's "the one with the wagg-el-y tail".)

I never thought of SIDLE UP. I wanted either SNEAK UP or STEAL UP. I'm also not quite sure what a mortise is, much less a TENON. So I had more problems than I normally do on a Tuesday, and I was grateful for every one of them. Because when I was cruising blithely through the top, I was afraid it was going to be another snoozefest like yesterday. Nice puzzle.

paperkin 9:04 AM  

I did not like JAKE or LIT.

Bagelboy 9:08 AM  

SW corner tough. Agree ICONS strange answer, and had ITRIED. Thought ANON was correct, but wasn't sure on that either.

Beaglelover 9:24 AM  

@long islander, Long Island is a peninsula. Ellis and Staten are both surrounded by water so they are islands.

ArtO 9:49 AM  

Never heard of EVER and ANON. SW did me in.

On the whole pretty damn tough for Tuesday,

Nancy 9:49 AM  

Interesting "Cats" commentary today. @Chefwen -- I thought you lived in Maui, so how did you see "Cats" 3-4 times? It played there for many years? Or were you living somewhere else at the time? @Quasi (8:24)-- I knew that hilariously scathing memory of the show could only have been written by you, even though I hadn't yet seen your name. (I happened to be scrolling up at the time.) As for me, believing the many NY critics who had put down "Cats" as a corny, touristy, plotless musical, plus not thinking it was a "Nancy" show (I'm not all that wild about cats in the first place, to tell the truth), I avoided seeing the show until very, very late in its very, very lengthy run. When I finally did see it, I had to admit: It's quite a good show that works in its own unique way. I wouldn't want all musicals to be of that ilk, but I'm very glad I saw it. And unlike Quasi's experience, no cats SIDLEd UP to paw and fondle me. Not a single one. Maybe they only do that to the guys. Maybe it's because my seats weren't as close to the stage as Quasi's. Or maybe it's because my entire demeanor screamed out: Don't even think about it!

Wm. C. 9:49 AM  

@Beaglelover -

Long Island a peninsula? I don't get it. There is no land connection between it and the mainland, only bridges over the East River. ???

Long Islander 9:53 AM  

@ beagle Long Island, including Suffolk, Nassau, Queens and Kings Counties, is an island surrounded by water. The point was that Ellis is a partial.

GILL I. 10:07 AM  

I'm not fond of names in my puzzles. As I matter of fact, I usually grumble a lot when I see them. I also groan at the CCV's because I never learned Roman numerals and I don't like product names. BUT...when I came to GRIZABELLA, I smiled. A lot. "Memory" - such memories....I saw "Cats" in New York many moons ago. Betty Buckley played GRIZABELLA and her rendition of "Memory" absolutely blew me away. I only knew her as the sweet mom in "Eight is Enough" and had no idea she had some incredible pipes. That song is very difficult to sing because of the ranges. You have to be able to go deep and high in complicated stages and your vocals better be able to carry any pitch. One of my favorite renditions is by Elaine Paige.

For a Tuesday, I found it on the tough side. Never heard of BRETEASTON ELLIS. When I came to "No Mayonnaise in Ireland", (Hi @Warren Peace) I figured we were talking islands here. When I finished, I sat back and thought...cute!
Congrats to Clare. And now Law School! Will you be the Queen of Torts?

Carola 10:10 AM  

So handy when the grid offers the day's puzzle rating: today, SUPERB. From the tiny Brylcreem amounts to the substantial parallel-Z BRAZILIANS and GRIZABELLA, to the witty reveal, this one was such a pleasure.

Re: ORCAS - "deep" can also just mean the ocean ("the briny deep"), admittedly "poetic and rhetorical," according to the OED.

Clare, thanks for the write-up, and congratulations!

Azzurro 10:11 AM  

I usually don’t care for heavy use of proper names, but I loved the theme today. None of the names were too obscure, and the crosses were easy enough to get if the name wasn’t obvious. Clare’s write up was spot on: Great puzzle, only knock was the musty fill in a few spots.

paperandink 10:12 AM  

congrats claire... nice thesis topic.. brazil speaks portuguese because of a disagreement on colonizing twizt spain and portugal... the sitting pope used a longitudinal line declaring all to the west belongs to spain,to the east,portugal.. thus the only non spanish speakers in southand central america reside in brazil..

loved the puzzle..lauren, love loved the ccv comment

loved the write up

Azzurro 10:17 AM  

@Nancy, I completely agree. I usually don’t care for heavy use of proper names, but I’ll forgive this one because the theme was so nifty. It also helped that none of the names were too obscure, and the crosses were easy enough to fill in any gaps.

Great write up by Clare too. I agree that the only blemish on this Tuesday offering was the odd bit of musty fill.

pmdm 10:21 AM  

Had this puzzle been published on a Wednesday, I still would have complained about the great number of proper nouns, but I would have accepted the puzzle as appropriate. In my opinion, a puzzle like this should never be assigned to a Tuesday slot. For those who are familiar with the names, the puzzle must have been one of the easiest. For those who are not, the puzzle must seem like an abomination.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Of course you do. Scrubbed sulci!

emily 10:56 AM  

He will forever be Stringer Bell from ‘the Wire’ best show ever.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Wm. C.

Of course Long Island is a true island. But I have a quibble: barely any of it is separated from the mainland by the East River. By area, it's Long Island Sound that does nearly all the heavy lifting of separation.

Not sure what @Long Islander means by saying Ellis is a partial. But be assured it is also a bona fide island. I can see it right now.

Joseph Michael 11:04 AM  

I'm trying not to hate this puzzle because it does have a clever theme. But by my count, 38% of the grid answers are proper nouns. So it feels more like a trivia contest than a crossword. This seems to be a recurring characteristic of Peter Gordon puzzles.

Nice write up, @Claire. I agree with all of your criticisms. Trying to picture a luxury hotel brochure touting its HD TV SET. And it's in color, too!

I saw "Cats" years ago but sure don't remember the name GRIZABELLA, though she does have the best song in the show and, by some accounts, the only one worth remembering.

Perhaps it's time for a musical about ORCAS to set the record straight on what cute and adorable creatures they really are.

Mr. Benson 11:09 AM  

I'd never heard of Confederados, and now I want to see that in a crossword someday. But only with very fair crosses!

Roo Monster 11:10 AM  

Hey All !
Pretty much agree with Clare.

NAMES. Lots. PPP-fest. Did like GDANSK, though.

DNF at ICRIED. Had SINAI spelled SaNAI, and DEEN as DEaN, so the song was aCRIaD. Why not?

DRMOM weird. Cool opposing Z's. But, no F's! I CRIED. :-)


Masked and Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Tough, but doable. BRETEASTONELLIS was one of the slow-down culprits, at our house. Had heard of the CUBA and ELBA dudes, tho.

Primo grid layout. It looks like it is takin target practice on CCV. Ergo, staff weeject pick = CCV.
Also admired the E/W symmetric Z's.

Great write-up, with the not-used-often-enough-anymore bullet points.

As Peter G. mentions, over at his xwordinfo.chen author comments, there just ain't many famous folks out there that have islandic names. That's why we got served up sorta-famous BRETEASTONELLIS, maybe?
Coulda had more contenders, if U went for puns, tho...
Example Bullets:

Thanx, Mr. G. The big G stands for: Good to see U back so often, lately.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


jberg 11:27 AM  

Nice to see the bilateral symmetry, just for variety. And I did enjoy the puzzle. My main problem was with BRET EASTON ELLIS. I'd heard of him, and of the novel, but I mixed up my centuries, so first ai wanted Bret Ellis Harte, than when EASTON emerged, Bret Easton Harte. I needed EDEN to see ELLIS in its proper place.

My other problem was that I had ---AGOO, and was looking for a Mr. MaGoo-related answer.

I once had a couple of days to spare on my way to a conference in Aarhus, so I spent a long weekend on Aero Island, Denmark. There was a rack of brochures at the ferry landing; they bean "Welcome to a real island. A real island is one that you have to take a boat to." Maybe that is what beaglelover had in mind -- more likely, he or she is just not from the refion.

When my wife was laid up with braces on her neck and knee a couple of years ago, we got a TV after a long hiatus, and set out to watch The Wire. She quit after two or three shows, finding it too bloody, but I got through the first 3 seasons. They scrolled through the cast at the end, always mentioning IDRIS ELBA, but they never connected the names of the cast with those of the characters -- so it was maybe another 18 months until I learned which one he was. (Tip: if you are convalescing and trying to keep up morale, go for "Mozart in the Jungle," instead.)

@Quasimojo, Ione Skye is two islands, actually, one of them misspelled on purpose. Oops -- I just looked her up, that's her real given name. Her parents must have had a morbid sense of humor.

@Loren, sorry, I don't recognize that guy! (Anongoing problem for me--my wife takes me to her hairdresser; we just switched to a new guy because the former one was killed in an auto accident. That's a sad story, but the point of this one is that the new guy took one look at me and said "I'm thinking Ed Harris." Martha said - "great idea;" I said "Who's Ed Harris?" Fortunately, he pulled up some photos on the web.)

jb129 11:30 AM  

I had creep & sneak up on until I figured out sidle - loved 1 down DABS - "Brylcreem amounts"

Long Islander 11:30 AM  

Anon11:02... I know it’s beating a dead horse but I said Ellis is not an island. Ellis Island is an Island. You can see Ellis Island not Ellis and I am standing on Long Island not Long.

Dave OB 11:34 AM  

I literally had the exact same thought about that clue for ‘Orcas’ & laughed imagining that someone at the NYT has had a bad experience with one.

Banana Diaquiri 11:35 AM  

ECRU - my guess, not having built a Xword, is that there're loads of random 3 or 4 letter combos that result from the main construction, and this is just one of them with no other option

BRAZILIAN - I'd been happier with a clue about depilation :)

TEABAGS - I'd been happier with a clue about certain right wing zealots :)

IDRISELBA - he must drive certain right wing zealots nuts with an English accent with no hint of Ebonics, although Adrian Lester ("Hustle"/BBC, AMC USofA) must be even more annoying to them.

Bob Mills 11:39 AM  

I found it easy, but enjoyable. Luckily I knew "No man is an island," because I'd never heard of Idris Elba. Other island names they could have used are Long, Falkland, and Easter.

mmorgan 11:40 AM  

Super easy up top, so I was surprised I hit so many roadblocks down below. Having IDOLS for 47D did not help at all.

I immediately thought of Ira Gershwin's "Comes the revolution, everything is jake / Comes the revolution, we'll be eating cake."

Great write-up, Clare!

Chris 11:45 AM  

Fun puzzle and great commentary. I, too, grumbled at HDTVSETS. I learned JAKE as a term from The Sting, one of my favorite movies. Have not successfully integrated it into my everyday patois, but do throw it out every now and again.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

While clipless pedals are the newest and greatest invention for cycling since the derailleur, track racers still do use toe clips (and usually double straps) to keep their feet tied to the pedals come what may.

old timer 11:54 AM  

When I read the write-up I thought OFL had lost his curmuge. Nice to see his replacement. Clare is clearly super-bright and will do well in Law school. I think if she got in to Yale she might as well just stay in New Haven.

Tough-ish for a Tuesday, and I was surprised the solve took only 15 minutes. Afterwards I stared and stared at Mr. ELLIS before remembering it is an island. Does it have a bridge to NJ? It's close enough.

I do think the choices of islands are off, given the Donne poem. By NO MAN IS AN ISLAND he meant no man is so separate from the rest of humanity, so the islands that he had in mind were not attached or nearly attached to the mainland. CUBA qualifies, ELLIS does not (neither would Staten or Lawn Guyland). Indeed ELBA barely qualifies. It is close enough to land that Napoleon had no difficulty escaping from it to raise a new army. Now after Waterloo they sent Nappy to St. Helena. There's an island for you.

Nate 12:10 PM  

It's rare that I agree with a puzzle review 100%, but this one might be the one. All of the problems Clare mentioned bugged me (or just confused me) as well.

The SERTA clue was clever, I guess, but seemed really obscure. They're known for their plush animals? What?

I was thinking of something way more modern than an HDTV, and I would never think of calling it an HDTV SET. I don't know that that's necessarily wrong, but does anybody call it an "HD TV SET?" I'm not even sure what the "set" part of "television set" is supposed to me. Isn't the entire thing a television? Does the word "television" only refer to the display portion of the device?

TOE CLIP is a dated clue. No racing bikes in use in 2018 utilize toe clips. The pedals now attach to a specialized shoe and are specifically called "clipless" pedals to set them apart from the TOE CLIPs of the past. I guess as a concession I'll note that toe clips are still sold, and anyone can attach them to their bike, so it's not like the clue is 100% WRONG.

Some things I just flat out did not know, which slowed me down: GRIZABELLA, JAKE, SAT (what the hell did this clue mean, anyways?), ANON, LACE, NONCE... that's probably it for the total whiffs. Mostly gettable from the crossing clues, however.

The theme was undoubtedly clever and led to a good "ah hah!" moment. Plus I knew all the themers, which helped. I'll also give credit to BRAZILIANS, which was a good long word that was interestingly clued. So all in all, I enjoyed solving the puzzle.

TJS 12:16 PM  

To continue beating the same poor horse, a Siamese can be a cat, and a Ford can be an auto, but can a stadium be a Yankee ? Now I dont know what to think.

JC66 12:33 PM  
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JC66 12:34 PM  

@Carola said

"Re: ORCAS - "deep" can also just mean the ocean ("the briny deep")."

Wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes people read more into a clue than necessary (see @ Old Timer, above).

@ jberg Today's @LMS avatar is Howie LONG.

Beaglelover 12:38 PM  

@Long islander and @wm.c I don't care what wikipedia says, Long Island, to a New Yorker, is Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Therefore, a peninsula.

JC66 12:53 PM  

@ Beaglelover

Aren't you confusing Long Island with Long Peninsula?

Just kidding. I'm a native NYer too, so please look at a map . Brooklyn and Queens are part of Long Island, too

pabloinnh 12:58 PM  

I'm one of those people who has never used JAKE in conversation, unless I was kidding around, but knows it perfectly well, probably from some of those hard-boiled detective novels full of crosswordese, where the TEC always has to be careful because the bad guy has a GAT, or better yet, a ROSCOE. To those of you who continue to refer to such terms as "musty" or "stale" or "dated" or "ancient", I suggest the word you're looking for is "classic".

Z 1:09 PM  

@Beaglelover - I don’t care what my birth certificate or scale say, I’m 29 and 181 lbs.

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

Am I the only person on earth to have yet to see "Cats"? GRIZABELLA was sussable but I thought, "Uh-oh" when I saw the clue. And Rummikub? Where's a good mah jongg clue when you need one? It occurred to me that perhaps Rummikub brought TILES as an answer into the 21st century, but as a game, it escaped moi.

I love Clare's idea of Mortise being an item with TENON. Perhaps the male version of Morticia?

And TOE CLIPS - thank goodness they've gone the way of the horse and buggy. Back in my early mountain biking days, I had more than one tip-over due to toe clips. You'd take a foot out to go around a hairy turn and then you needed your foot back in the clip in order to take a steep hill. But gravity being what it is, the clip part would be hanging below the pedal and by the time you got your foot back into it, it was too late and you weren't going to make it up the hill. Not that clip-ins were flawless. When mountain biking in muddy conditions, there were many times when I found myself doing the "Shimano stomp" as a friend described it - banging my shoe against my Shimano brand pedal in order to get the encrusted mud off so I could re-clip in. Now I only road-bike and I love my clip-in pedals.

Peter Gordon, thanks for a tougher-than-normal Tuesday and Clare, thanks for the great write-up.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

SAT means "Wasn't a straphanger"; a standing passenger in a bus or train.

Wm. C. 2:23 PM  

@Clare --

Well, the top Ivies are Harvard, Yale, and Priceton, but I don't think Princeton has a Law School, so if you don't want to stay in New Haven (kinda a rough town) go to Cambridge (nice location, all around).

OTOH, you may want to try the Left Coast, Stanford (very pretty area) or UCBerkeley (just across the bay from perhaps the most interesting and beautiful cities in the country) ... And both have MUCH nicer year-round weather than the northeast.

Not to ignore some other world-class schools: Chicago and Northwestern mid-continent; and Duke and Texas down south.

Best of luck wherever you choose to go. And let us know.

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

@beaglelover...While it’s true that people from Brooklyn and Queens generally don’t consider themselves Long Islanders, I’m pretty sure most of them realize they live on an island. Similarly, going to “the city” means going to Manhattan and I’m pretty sure most Brooklyn and Queens residents realize they live in a city.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

hi @paperandink. gonna have to add to your idea about spanish and portuguese. there are three south american countries whose primary official language is neither spanish nor portuguese.

now, if you want to include some/any of the caribbean islands you might start an unintended debate.

and lastly, it's pretty hard to ignore the many indigenous languages still spoken in central and south america.

yes, the puz was a name-fest. clever idea about the names/islands, and many of the commentators had excellent suggestions to add to idris, cuba, and ellis.

not sure why there was so much debate about islands. surrounded by water on all sides. done.

Paul Rippey 3:17 PM  

What a clever theme: All proper names I've never heard of!

That was a Tuesday??!

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

Wm. C.

The Supremes are six to three, Harvard whipping Yale. No other ivies need apply. ( Snooty old Nassau wouldn't deign to sully itself with any professional school).

For my money, I say hurrah, hurrah for the Red and the Blue. Because while fair Harvard has the judiciary, Penn has the White House.

Lion 3:31 PM  

@Anon 3:23 ....Justice Ginsburg is a Columbia Law School graduate having transferred from Harvard.

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

Yes!!! I forgot. Sorry Lion. Can't forgive you for stealing bagnoli though ;)

QuasiMojo 3:52 PM  

@Nancy, glad you enjoyed my take on "Cats." I wish you could have been with me at "Beauty and the Beast," when the vast mechanical stage device broke down and rather than "the show must go on" they told us to sit in our seats until it was fixed. Imagine a theater filled with thousands of children screaming from boredom, running up and own the aisles, throwing candy, bawling, kicking the seats in front of them, racing for the bathrooms.

M&A, some great island names there. I was disappointed no one chortled at my "Mauritius Povich" one. Or even "Ceylon Dion." How about "Malta Watthau?"

As a former Long Islander, I can attest to the fact that it is indeed an island (120 miles long I think. I biked most it once.) And yes, Brooklyn and Queens are part of it, geographically speaking. But keep in mind the East River is apparently not a river, the way that Pluto is not a planet. It's an estuary, I think, whatever that is.

sanfranman59 4:33 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:57 4:24 1.13 79.7% Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:45 5:31 0.86 20.3% Easy-Medium

An easy but fun Tuesday. I didn't know that Serta makes toys, but I think that's about the only "huh" I got here. I'm a big fan of IDRIS ELBA's work going back to his days on The Wire. DR MOM was a minor hang-up in the SW and HD TV SET is a bit awkward (does anyone really refer to them as SETs anymore?). Plus, I don't know my "Cats" characters, so GRIZABELLA was almost entirely from very get-able crosses. A quality puzzle from PG.

newspaperguy 4:54 PM  

@wgh said...
In what decade does JAKE mean hunky-dory?

In what decade did hunky-dory mean the cat's pyjamas?

I write a weekly newspaper column and recently a fellow called me on the phone, laughing uproariously. "Scofflaw?" he sputtered. He then went on to insist I had spent hours finding just the right word (which he did not know previously, but loved immediately) and wouldn't believe it was a word I grew up with. Nonce falls into the same category.

Masked and Anonymous 4:58 PM  

@QuasiMojo: I really coveted the Ceylon Dion one. Could also go with Malta Stewart, I reckon.
L. Frank Guam is a bit too desperate, right? Right.


Anonymous 5:03 PM  

Now you're just trying too hard.

Masked and Anonymous 5:10 PM  

This just in, to all the "Long or not to Long" commenters…

Henry Wadsworth, in a desperate attempt to preserve the peace, has just changed his last name to: Longislandfellow.

"The Island Recluse of Crossword Construction"

JC66 5:22 PM  

@Quasi & @M&A

Here are a few more:

Frank Capri

Lucille Bali

Joe Maui

Seychelles Maddow

Frank Sumatra

JC66 5:25 PM  
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JC66 5:28 PM  

And some real ones:

Jill Ireland, Jill St. John & Tim Cook

William Lovas 5:30 PM  

Re: SERTA: I actually really liked that one! Note that it never says they’re *known* for their plush sheep toys, just that they have them at all.. which for me made for a fun little cultural guessing game once I had a few cross clues to work with. Ah, of course — a mattress company *would* have plush, numbered sheep, if they had any kind of plush at all! :)

Mohair Sam 5:51 PM  

@Clare - Confederatos! Sounds like a great subject - something in US (and Brazilian) history that I never knew about - I'll be researching. Apparently "The Boys From Brazil" could have been concerned with Jefferson Davis clones.

I'd like to thank everyone here for the brief and inconclusive geography lesson about Long Island. How about a new rule that anything we are bridged to is no longer an island? Maybe tunnels (UK now part of continent)? Constantly running ferries?

You know how most of you guys complain that anything in the puzzle that makes you even think of Trump ruins your day? Well I'm that way with cats - and I was forced to work for every stinking letter in a cat's name. Puzzles like this normalize the hideous creatures.

Joe Dipinto 6:43 PM  

I don't know about this theme. If you cruise around the perimeter of Canada, you'll find lots of men who are islands: Baffin, Ellesmere, Banks, Vancouver, Axel Heiberg, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Prince Patrick, King William, Melville, Cornwallis... There's even a woman who's an island: Victoria. All were named after explorers or royals or businessmen who financed expeditions.

Okay: LONG ISLAND. I once had to explain this to a friend visiting from Indiana. If you live in Brooklyn or Queens you live on the land mass called Long Island, but in no way do you live on "Long Island". You have to go out to Nassau or Suffolk to be on "Long Island." (@beaglelover -- that does not however qualify "Long Island" as a peninsula.)

Similarly, as @Anon 2:57 pointed out, although Brooklyn and Queens are two of the boroughs that make up New York City, if you live in either of these boroughs (or the Bronx or Staten Island for that matter), you do not live "in the city". You have to move or travel to Manhattan to live or be "in the city".

My friend was endlessly entertained by this concept. He repeated it to everyone he knew to demonstrate his superior understanding of NYC geographic terminology.

And HDTV SET is just stupid.

John Hoffman 7:34 PM  

No way to construct a puzzle. Too many proper names.

Joe Dipinto 7:36 PM  

Oh, duyy -- I misread the revealer. I read it as proved the quote, so I thought it meant they weren't islands because parts of their names were but the other parts were not, so they weren't fully islands, and...oh, never mind, it doesn't even make sense that way. Just ignore my first paragraph.

But I stand by my "Long Island" primer.

Anonymous 8:20 PM  

I'm no specialist here, but isn't it technically inaccurate to call the Holy Roman Empire the domain of Charlemagne? I think it really began in the 10th century.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Roo Monster 8:32 PM  

Don't any of you watch your HD TV SETS? There you will see the SERTA commercials with the animated Sheep. And they have numbers. Plus, they were giving away plush sheep at one point when you bought a mattress. I missed out. :-(


john towle 8:59 PM  

Hey, folks,

There’s a reason it’s called Long Island & not Long Peninsula. Water is water, is which you will learn if you read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Our august Supreme Courrt is obviously not privy to the lessons of geography. Where is Gertrude Stein when we need her?



Joe Dipinto 9:06 PM  

Oh, may as well jump in, even if on a tangent:

Tonight, at a sold-out event in Jamaica, Queens, actor Crete Williams, writer Ta-Tahiti Coates, and fictitious character Gladys Orkney from "Laugh-In" will discuss the poem "Corfu Must Not Ring Tonight."

chefwen 9:59 PM  

@Nancy, We’re on Kauai but spent many years (too many) in Milwaukee. We’d drive to Chicago to see it, only once was I able to talk my husband into taking me, that was enough for him the other times Mom would go with me, she loved it as much as I did and we both would cry EVERY time “Memory” was sung, you know, the ugly cry.

ehealth Pharmacies 1:55 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jodi reznik 6:58 AM  

Never saw Ryn-its always Rijn

Burma Shave 10:29 AM  


ERICA is SUPERB with LACE vis-à-vis nudity,
and ERMA GOESON with ZEST about prudity,
while IRIS is NOT shy
to SIDLEUP to a guy,


spacecraft 10:32 AM  

This was so awful that not even my top two all-time DOD's, SELA Ward (1) and Teri GARR (2) could pull it to par. Ridiculously obscure names, clues that were DEFINITELY not for the Tuesday crowd, and utter stupidities like HDTVSET really made me glad when it all ENDED. I'm supposed to know where the (ferGODsakes) 1971 Pan-American Games were held??? Come ON!

My darlings, I'm so sorry you had to be part of this. A good shower and you'll be fine. Bogey--and if not for you two it would have been "other."

fishrlayd 1:31 PM  

I usually figure if I can solve an NYT crossword, then I’m sure after I check Rex’s blog, that it’s going to be rated “easy.” Was surprised to see it rated medium-difficult when I was able to breeze through it. Made me feel pretty smart, for one day at least.

fishrlayd 1:32 PM  

I usually figure if I can solve an NYT crossword, then I’m sure after I check Rex’s blog, that it’s going to be rated “easy.” Was surprised to see it rated medium-difficult when I was able to breeze through it. Made me feel pretty smart, for one day at least.

leftcoastTAM 2:53 PM  

Yes, medium-difficult (for Tuesday) mainly because of the proper names, especially the non-themed GRIZABELLA.

Among the themers, the JR ending on GOODING's name took a second look, as did ELLIS's middle name, and spelling of IDRIS ELBA's.

Clues for IRS and LIT were clever, and who knew that LACE is a 13th anniversary gift?

Pretty good Tuesday.

Diana,LIW 3:03 PM  

Yup - our LOD (Leader Of the Day) touched on all the weirdness, as did @Spacey. Tuesday? Really?

With all that, I did finish and got it. Amazed myself, I'll tell ya. Especially with all those *&%$# names! And a quotation - I'm not a fan of quotation puzzles (especially the ones that go on and on for lines, unlike this one, but still...)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 3:06 PM  

Chacun a son gout, peut-etre. I liked this puzzle, not only because it had Teri Garr(1) and Sela Ward(2), but also because of the theme and its perfect revealer and tasty fill.

Sure, a lot of names, but they added some "colour" to the grid, IMextremelyH opinion.

I could go on, but I'd simply be repeating much of what has already been said. Maybe I should comment before reading real-timer comments, but I can't slide by @Lewis, @LMS, @M&A (all for pleasure), and @Z and @Nancy (some sort of masochism there). But I digress...

Tuesday is so often controversial, and I guess this one was, to an extent, but rarely does one get so much pleasure from finishing it.

rondo 3:46 PM  

As someone mentioned above, the Isle of MAN *is* an ISLAND (with a very interesting flag, check it out), so there is at least one MAN that is an ISLAND. But I knew something was afoot after ELLIS and CUBA. Knew GRIZABELLA since an old girlfriend had a cat she named that, only trouble was how many Zs and/or Ls; apparently a lot of folks named their cats after Cats cats. GDANSK a gimme.

An ACRE is one of many units for a surveyor. I used to be a surveyor.

SELA gets the yeah baby any day.

I just can’t dis a puz with the missus’ name in it.

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