Satirist Tom / WED 4-4-18 / Shouts made with waving of white hankies / Cheesy 1992 military drama / Resuming the previous speed in music / Tolkien elf played in film by Orlando Bloom / Wall-E's love / Roman moon goddess

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Constructor: Weird Al Yankovic and Eric Berlin

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: cheesy movies — old movies turned into cheese puns:

Theme answers:
  • "A FEW GOUDA MEN" (20A: Cheesy 1992 military drama?)
  • "FETA ATTRACTION" (28A: Cheesy 1987 thriller?)
  • "THE PELICAN BRIE" (46A: Cheesy 1993 legal drama?)
  • "MUENSTERS INC." (53A: Cheesy 2001 animated film?)
Word of the Day: Tom LEHRER (17A: Satirist Tom) —
Thomas Andrew Lehrer (/ˈlɛrər/; born April 9, 1928) is a retired American musician, singer-songwritersatirist, and mathematician. He has lectured on mathematics and musical theater. He is best known for the pithy, humorous songs he recorded in the 1950s and 1960s.
Lehrer’s work often parodies popular song forms, though he usually creates original melodies when doing so. A notable exception is "The Elements", where he sets the names of the chemical elements to the tune of the Major-General's song from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. Lehrer's early work typically dealt with non-topical subject matter and was noted for its black humor in songs such as "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park". In the 1960s, he produced a number of songs dealing with social and political issues of the day, particularly when he wrote for the U.S. version of the television show That Was the Week That Was. Despite their topical subjects and references, the popularity of these songs has endured; Lehrer quoted a friend's explanation: "Always predict the worst and you'll be hailed as a prophet." (wikipedia)
• • •

I love Weird Al. I grew up on Weird Al videos. I have been listening to Weird Al's "Hamilton Polka" fairly regularly for the better part of a month now. With him, the bar is pretty high as far as exceptionally clever wordplay is concerned. And these puns ... I don't know, man. Maybe these are the best cheese / movie puns out there—don't know, haven't brainstormed farther than a few low-hanging GOUDA puns. But these aren't groaners so much as shrugs. None of them seem particularly outrageous or inventive. "FETA ATTRACTION" is the clear winner of the bunch, in that GOUDA puns are old as the hills and BRIE for BRIEF is not exactly spot on, and MUENSTERS is plural, which is both awkward and not in keeping with the other cheeses. Yes, I am overthinking theme consistency here, but only because the puns are not undeniable winners. If they were, I would have to give into the force of the pun, succumb to the punniness, kneel before Punz. But because they're actually kind of tepid, their weaknesses stand out. Would've liked this much more if the puns *and the clues* had been much more outlandish. Maybe imagine the cheese titles as if they were real. The "cheesy" movie angle is clever, but it gives all the clues a bland uniformity. Better for the clues to have to imagine what "FETA ATTRACTION" or (dear god) "PELICAN BRIE" might actually look like. [1993 legal drama about the illegal trade in shorebird-flavored soft cheese?]. Think of the weird places you could've gone with titles like "BRIE ENCOUNTER" or "MUENSTER'S BALL". This version is just a little too staid, a little too dad joke, not quite Weirdish or Alish or Yankovician enough.

The fill skews a little old and a little old-fashioned, with more old-school crosswordese (ONAGER!) than I'd expect in a simple, four-theme-answers Wednesday grid. The grid design really limits the potential for interesting fill, as there are no non-theme answers longer than 7 letters, and only two of those. I am having very mixed feelings about BIC PEN, which seems both original and "original" (in the sense of weird, redundant, made-up). I mean, Bic makes pens, sure, but I'm having trouble imagining anyone saying BIC PEN in any context, nowadays. My favorite part of the puzzle is actually the inclusion of Tom LEHRER, a nice little nod from one song parodist to another. Hope you didn't think it was spelled LAHRER, and that Wall-E's love was EVA, because that would've been most unfortunate and I'm certainly glad I definitely definitely did not make that error.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Eric Berlin, this puzzle's non-Weird contributor, is one of the only people I know of making very high-quality puzzles (of all kinds) for children. You can get one (free) every week at, and if you wanna get your kids started on actual crossword puzzles (and, come on, you know you do), you can get a set of 20 mini-crosswords for kids for just $4.99 at Eric's store.

P.P.S. Eric is also the author of the Winston Breen series of puzzle/mystery novels, so you should probably go ahead and buy those for your kids, too.

P.P.P.S. this is what happens when you unleash the cheese pun concept on Twitter very late at night. Warning: it's not pretty.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 2:46 AM  

I had everything filled in, and since I didn't get the happy tone I started doubting my answers. The real problem was 50D SMaSH instead of SMUSH, but immediately I looked at the personal pronouns, especially the LEGOLA/SARA cross. I tried running the alphabet on this Natick prone square, but finally decided to put the U into SM_SH. Ten minutes wasted, and if it were on paper it would certainly be a DNF!

chefwen 3:15 AM  

Love cheese, loved the puzzle. I did, however, finished incorrectly with with EVa at 2D and TYnE at 6D. Didn’t know LEHRER and just took a stab at those two downs. Oh well, stuff happens.

Gotta go with THE PELICAN BRIE as my favorite. On second thought, I liked all of them. As far as cheeses go, the stinkier the better.
Too bad they couldn’t find a match for Limburger. I used to buy Limburger Cheese when we would go to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Seguins Cheese and Moccasin store. My husbands father and I loved it. MIL would make me wrap in plastic then aluminum foil then put it in a Tupperware container before allowing it in her fridge. Every time we would haul it out to enjoy the rest of the family retreated to the outside. I think UGH that stinks we’re the choice words.

Fun puzzle.

Anonymous 3:45 AM  

LEHRER and EVERLY crossing DEL, FEH, and TYRE? On a Wednesday? Someone should tell Mr. Shortz that not all the NY Times crossword solvers are eighty years old and American. Other than that bit of trash, I thought this wasn't bad.

'merican in Paris 4:29 AM  

Wow, a puzzle by Weird AL (DANTE) Yankovic. What a treat!

My experience was similar to that of @Harryp: I had SMaSH instead of SMUSH, but in my case did not find it, and had to click on "check puzzle" to reveal it. Out of curiosity, I looked in my 1970s era Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, and SMUSH is not listed. I have heard the word used of course, but usually in a baby-talk way, like wawa.

Not knowing what or who the CW was, aPN made just as much sense as UPN. Still don't know what that refers to.

Otherwise, I found the puzzle enjoyable, albeit pretty easy, especially in the north. Having never heard of THE PELICAN BRIEf, that area took me awhile to complete, especially LAVA (I had LiVe at first) and the "P" in ASCAP.

Loved the misdirection at 32 down. I had the "T" and the "A" and hesitated for the longest time at inserting TeAms, until the beam from the Mars Light flipped my brain switch.

@old timer (from yesterday): Mrs. 'mericans and I are still together, not to worry! Now that I have an electronic subscription to the NYT xword, however, I am usually solving alone during the week. So I use 'merican in the singular on those occasions and 'mericans when my better (and smarter) half teams up with me or we each do the puzzle in sequence.

Loren Muse Smith 4:32 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 5:08 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 5:09 AM  

Oh wow. Weird Al – I’m a huge fan. I have to ask – do geese see God? Seriously.

Loved PELICAN BRIE. And I have to admit to a FETA ATTRACTION. I love salt. Actually my best-ever favorite cheese is Taleggio. I’ve gorged on it many a night. Taleggio Nights. East of Edam. This is so fun!

Loved the clues for TRAIN and CLEESE.

Counted three ALs in the grid! I’m sure it’s serendipity. Either way, it always pleases me.

From yesterday – Yeah – I have thoughts on the subjunctive and whether or not to use a possessive with an ING form (you don't always have to). But bottom line – you can argue ‘til you’re bleu in the face, but you’ll never ever ever convince me that your public correction of someone’s grammar is anything more than a play to make yourself seem sophisticated and learned. Do you helpfully announce to the entire dinner table that your neighbor has used the wrong fork? Or sawed his roll in half and buttered both sides? Bet a lot of you armchair pedants butter your whole roll before you eat it. Shamey shamey.

As I said – I want you to think that I’m smart and sophisticated, too. I just don’t want to shame someone’s grammar on my attempt to climb up to the top. Honestly. Do you Really think that a slap on the wrist on a crossword blog is gonna give Annabel some kind of epiphany? Wow. I sure wish someone had taught me this grammar rule over the course of my studies that landed me in a beastly good school. C’mon. I like her voice, her folksy style. I swiss you guys would lighten up.

Lewis 6:34 AM  

@rex -- Clever writeup, and spot on, and of the tweets you posted, the havarti one is easily the best.

I liked the DEFECT/ERRATA and ATEMPO/SPED crosses, and the double-E mini-theme (5). The clue for ACTS (John follower) could have worked for CLEESE, and ASS could have been connected with ONAGER. There was an opportunity to clue SARA as a comic, with Silverman. That sure would have helped me, because I was simply guessing at the SARA/LEGOLAS cross. Also guessed at SMUSH/UPN. I smiled at the funnish punnish theme.

Overall, the puzzle provided satisfying brain exercise, and thank you to Eric and Al for that. Possible puzzle title, considering the famous co-constructor: Ham and Cheese.

mathgent 6:37 AM  

Rex expressed my feelings about it well. The puzzle was OK but the puns were weak. Some good ones in the comments, though. East of Edam. Colby By Your Name. Carlito's Whey.

Tom Lehrer was a big favorite in the mathematics community when he was performing. He was a brilliant mathematics student at Harvard when he started performing his material. I think that he was more talented as a performer than as a lyricist. If you played Rex's clip, you may agree. The only lyrics I remember are from Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.

"We'll murder them all amid laughter and merriment,
"Except for the few we'll take home to experiment."

"When they see us coming, the birdies all try an' hide,
"But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide."

Two Ponies 6:37 AM  

Onager! Where ya been? It's been ages.

The clue for 24D could have been "Like Weird Al's humor."

Even a new clue for eel couldn't save the glut of crosswordese today but the puns were OK. I'm glad this celebrity puzzle wasn't the over-done vanity vehicle we sometimes see.

I wonder if Legolas is going to cause some moaning.

Aketi 6:42 AM  

Never thought I’d see a Weird Al crossword puzzle! FETA ATTRACTION was my fave, followed ny MUENSTERS INC. GOUDA spiced it up with a bit more weird.

@LMS, haha, I confess I do point out my husband’s bad table manners, but at least I don’t do it in public. I did once kick him under the table at a really nice restaurant when the staff wanted to take his hat away to the coat room. and he insisted on putting it on the floor. It was the type of restaurant where you don’t dare drop a ctumb on the table cloth because they’ll immediately zip in and scrape it off the table. By the time we were near the end of that meal, we devolved hysterically giggling with the people at the table next to us over the pastel colored items that we saw was offered to nearby tables just before desert. The wait staff made a big production of lifting one end of them out of the jar and precisely snipping off identical size pieces. Sort of like doctors when they lift sterile cotton glaze out of the jar. We devolved to taking bets with the table next to us about what they could be. Turns out they were flavored marshmallows.

mathgent 6:44 AM  

The YouTube headquarters building where the shootings took place yesterday is in San Bruno, about fifteen minutes from my house in San Francisco. We sometimes eat in a Mexican restaurant across the street from it.

Sarah Palin 7:14 AM  

And I can see Russia from my back yard.

clk 7:16 AM  

I don’t really get ASS as the answer to yo-yo. Since ATEMPO wasn’t familiar, the A square took me the longest to figure out.

Fortunately, LEGOLAS and Tom LEHRER were gimmes for me, and SMUSH seems like a perfectly good word that fits the clue much better than SMaSH would. I can see the problem if you’re not familiar with the evolution of second tier cable channels though.

kitshef 7:31 AM  

Woo-hoo! A celebrity constructor I’ve heard of.

While any puzzle with ONAGER next to LEGOLAS and AL DENTE next to ISRAEL, plus Tom LEHRER and John CLEESE gets my respect, the theme felt like it needed to stew a bit longer. Nice that they are all movie references (though shouldn’t they have been songs?), but THE PELICAN BRIE in particular felt strained.

(I see THE PELICAN BRIE is @chefwen’s favorite – shows you how variable humor is). Also, @chefwen LIMBURGER HILL would work but you’d need another 14 to match it.

Irene 7:35 AM  

But what about the LEGOLAS/SARA cross?
I knew neither--strange as that seems to Tolkien fans--and had to leave the crossing blank.
Otherwise a lovely puzzle.

Birchbark 7:43 AM  

I liked the cheesy-clued CORN and the almost-cheese CLEESE. Write-over ERRATA included ERRors.

The Velveeta Rabbit (Cheesy children's movie narrated by Christopher Plumber?)

RAD2626 7:45 AM  

Liked all the puns. Neat puzzle. LEGOLAS and Bareilles cross definitely Natick territory but my mistakes were more fundamental. CiLLA which gave me the odd but plausible SiRA and SpAS for SEAS which gave me the bad looking TOUPpE comb-over.

QuasiMojo 7:46 AM  

I was watching reruns of The ROQUEFORT Files just last week. And hope to catch The EMMENTAList later tonight. I wonder if Weird AL skews old. Is he still popular with teens? If so, many OLES to him. Silly puzzle with a couple of good laughs. It GRUYERE on me.

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

The smash-smush problem held me up for a few minutes as smash is the more intuitive answer and I haven't followed the long history of cable channels changing names (nor do I care!). Unlike Will Rogers, I am not sure Rex has ever met a pun he did like! In any case, I thought these were funny. Weird Al is a cool dude and I am glad he was a collaborator on a puzzle like this. It made my day. I actually laughed when I saw "onager" in the puzzle. It was like an old friend that I haven't seen in quite a while.

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

Nah... not so much on "smush"/upn...
Ever hear an adult use "smush"?
Either do I.

Z 8:10 AM  

@Two Ponies - Yes, but not because I mind LOTR answers but because Gimli and Aragorn came to mind but I wasted precious nanoseconds not remembering LEGOLAS. Totally ruined my solve time.*

Timely SARA Bareilles appearance. I thought her Mary Magdalene was fantastic. It’s funny what causes reactions. Mrs. Z keeps commenting on not liking Jesus in tennis shoes. I saw some self-described Christians took offense to the tattoos. Personally, I’ve always been jealous of any person who can sing the Caiaphas part well. And, of course, Ian Gillan is still the exemplar Jesus that everyone else pales in comparison to.

Anyone else wonder if some presalting would have prevented that SKID at 10D?

*That’s a joke. I solve in paper most of the time without a timer.

Lewis 8:13 AM  

Scratch my Silverman comment -- she spells her name Sarah.

Odd Sock 8:17 AM  

When I saw Weird Al in the by-line I was expecting something edgier than this. Seems tame and not as funny as I hoped it would be.

@ chefwen, Leave it to the Yoopers to have a cheese and moccasin store. Yea, I'd shop there.

mmorgan 8:43 AM  

I like these celebrity puzzles! I don't know Weird Al's work all that well but what I know I like a lot and want to know more. I could see myself as him in another life. This was fun but I kept expecting a trick, such as an AL rebus. Sorry to, say, but the S in the 8D/35A LEGOL_/_ARA cross was a complete and utter Natick for me -- and I was just in Natick yesterday! (Having Tom Lehrer in the puzzle was a nice tribute, even if not intended as such.)

I hadn't had the pleasure of the Hamilton Polka. I'm speechless.

kitshef 8:46 AM  

@Quasimojo - 1) nice ones. 2) Weird Al had a #1 album in 2014, so I think he skews 'timeless'.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

SMaSH + push = SMUSH.

Alicia Stetson 8:56 AM  

Rex's review (Cliff Notes version): "I don't like puns."

Mohair Sam 9:06 AM  

Fun celebrity puzzle. Our then 12-year-old son dragged Lady Mohair to a Weird Al concert about 20 years ago - they still laugh about it now. Great entertainer for all ages.

@Lauren - How could you not link "Do geese see God" again? I can't link anything, but Google "Weird Al Bob" for a treat on YouTube (or go straight to YouTube).

I'd like to thank Jim LEHRER for saving me from a natick with EVA. I'd like to thank my son's old girlfriend Mandy for going on endlessly about LEGOLAS and thereby saving me from a natick on SARA. I'd like to thank Michigan J. Frog for getting sued by the UPN network (long story) therefore saving me a natick at SMUSH. And finally a hat tip to Lady M for remembering CALLA lilies and saving me from naticking on ALI.

Thomaso808 9:24 AM  

Too hot to hoot. I love Deb Amlen’s comment on “Our national nightmare has come to an end.” Meaning that Weird Al has finally contributed to a NYT crossword, yay!

@Harryp and others, yeah I thought that SMUSH was a little unfair. I remember the UPN when it first came out, but SMUSH?

I filled in HES thinking, “Are they really quoting the Star Trek line?” And yes, yes they were!

I was hoping for a shout out to Dr. Demento. Weird Al says he got his start after giving Dr. Demento a demo tape that he recorded with his accordion in his basement on “a cheesy tape recorder”.

Nancy 9:36 AM  

Why cheese? Why not? Cute puns. You, too, @Quasi (7:46).

Calman Snoffelevich 9:36 AM  

What is cheesy about corn?

GILL I. 9:44 AM  

Sacre Bleu a CHEESY puzzle.
I couldn't pick Weird Al Yankovic out of a line up. I've heard of him because I don't live under an apple cart but I've never seen anything he's done until just now when I Googled him acting like an ASS. Is he supposed to be funny?
I, like @chefwen, love cheese. Me, however, doesn't like this awkward puzzle. Maybe MUENSTERS INC.
A FEW GOUDA MEN sounds like something Danny Devito would say in Throw Momma From the Train.
I also love puns and miss-pronouncements and groany things but for some reason I didn't have fun with this one. I think @Rex is right in that this needs to up the ANTE a bit in so far as clever cluing. None of that happened. I just did a FEH and an ugh. AND IM SO EASY TO PLEASE!

'merican in Paris 9:47 AM  

@Calman Snoffelevich -- One definition of "corn" is something that has the characteristic of being mawkishly old-fashioned, tiresomely simple or sentimental.

One definition of "cheesy" is cheap and of low quality.

Not perfect synonyms, but most equivalents in crossword puzzles don't clear that high bar.

ebtobiassen 9:50 AM  

Could we agree to a Banon cheese puns?

Cheese Whiz 9:57 AM  

@Calman, It's corny.

GHarris 10:10 AM  

Probably being used as a noun (type of humor) rather than as an adjective, "corny" which may equate to "cheesy "? I dnf because, working on paper I was not alerted to mistakes occasioned by smush and Sara. Thought those had terribly unfair crosses.

jberg 10:21 AM  

The puns were fine, but count me among those looking for more edginess.

Had no idea about UPN or CW — but around here to smash something is to break it into shards, while to SMUSH it is to press it with your thumb, the back of a wooden spoon, or through a garlic press until it is reduced to a pulp, as the clue says.

@Loren—thanks for giving us a little peek behind the curtain to see you as a mistress of refined table manners. But don’t overdo it or you’ll spoil your act!

OISK 10:27 AM  


Malsdemare 10:46 AM  

Someone corrected me yesterday for confusing Bill Hicks with Dan Hicks, confirming that my knowledge of pop culture is abysmal. But that didn't stop me from having a blessed moment of humming "The Piano has been drinking," and that's all to the good. And, noting my knowledge deficit, i also had to run the alphabet for the 8D/35A letter. (Hi, @Lewis!) "S" is quite a ways in there, well before C, D, L, and M, which would have worked just as well to my mind.

I liked this a lot better than Rex did. I didn't think I liked puns, but apparently I'm not consistent. MUENSTERSINC was a winner. And that SMUSH / UPN cross was another guessing game. So I didn't really finish, but I have a completed grid and NYT thinks I did just fine.

@Chefwen, the trip from Champaign IL to Marquette MI, where my sister lives absolutely requires a stop at Seguins for cheese and moccasins. Marquette requires a stop at the Yoopers for truly bad taste jokey hats and t-shirts, and a stroll through their reverse hunting camp, where it’s the deer and elk doing the hunting (the pickup truck with the stag in the driver's seat and the hunters tied to the roof never fails to amuse). Okay, I'll halt my trip down memory lane.

Thank you, Rex, for "The Masochism Tango." Such a fun way to start the day.

Hartley70 10:53 AM  

Somehow I've avoided Weird Al Yankovich. I know the name but anything else about the fellow is a blank. It could be an age thing. It sounds like he could be a modern version of Stan Freburg. Does "Do Geese See God?" compare to "Take an Indian to Lunch"?

I enjoy a bit of cheese with the rest of you, although THE PELICAN was the weakest I thought.

This is nitpicky but I don't think of the CW/UPN channel as a cable channel as it has been referred to above. It existed before we were all wired up as two broadcast channels 11 and 9 in NYC which were subsequently combined and showed as the CW on NYC broadcast channel 11. Think Buffy and Dawson's Creek from years ago. At least that's how I remember it and can't imagine how this clutters up my brain.

Roo Monster 11:14 AM  

Hey All !
Weird Al! Holy cow, that's awesome! He was a childhood favorite of mine. Loved the spoofs, and then comparing his videos with the originals. Thanks to @LMS's past links, I've caught up on a bunch of his recent (last 5 or so years) hits. He's still got it! There was also a spoofer named Ray Stevens, if you've ever heard of him, and although he's funny, Weird Al is CHEDDAR. :-)

Puz was good, cheesy cheese puns. Har. Knew UPN, as I am a certified couch potato. Having a Monty Python clue awesome, especially Silly Walks.

The North center was kinda rough. ONAGER and LEGOLAS were tough. Was nice to see ECRU, though, where's ya been? For CORN, almost wrote in pORN!


Masked and Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Luv movies. Luv cheese. Luv puns. Luv Weird Al. Got nuthin against Berlin, either. Ergo … we have an M&A bingo, here.

staff weeject pick: FEH. Sound effects word! Primo. Better clue: {Hef sneaking in the back door??}.

Still tryin to come up with a decent movie title with mozzarella in it … Kinda hard, becuz can't use "monster" (muenster already did it). Otherwise, had quite a few schlock flick candidates.

Thanx for the fun, Al & Eric.

Anyone do one with Parmesan in it, yet? Mozzarella. Parmesan. I've got to think …

Masked & Anonymo5Us

weirdal one:

Kids grown now 11:18 AM  

I'm just glad that when my children were in school, teachers felt it was their responsibility to teach good grammar, good table manners, and everything in between.

nyc_lo 11:19 AM  

I LOLed at AFEWGOUDAMEN and FETAATTRACTION without even noting who the constructor was. Makes sense given my affinity for Weird Al and goofy puns. A pleasant and fun midweek puzzle.

Joseph Michael 11:22 AM  

I was surprised to see that Jeff Chen named this the Puzzle of the Week. For the second day in a row, I agree with everything Rex said.

Strained puns, too many proper nouns crossing proper nouns, crosswordese, strangled corners.

However, I did like FETA ATTRACTION and the realization that John CLEESE is almost John CHEESE. Also liked "Follower of John" as a clue for ACTS and the excellent clue for COACH. Somewhat amusing as well to see TAT under ASS.

Would love to conclude with a really great cheese pun but Havarti been beat to the punch by Rex's friend Craig Mason.

old timer 11:22 AM  

Technical DNF because I too put in "smash" instead of SMUSH. But this was one of those ones where the theme helped the solve. Probably would not have got PELICAN BRIE without it.

@'merican, glad to now Mrs. 'merican is still on your team. I wonder if she would have guessed SMUSH.?

@malsdemare, it was Tom Waits who penned "The Piano Has Been Drinking" though maybe you knew that. One of those artists who traded alcoholic inspiration for a longer life, I've been told.

For some reason, the line from Poisoning Pigeons I most often recall is:s

"And maybe we'll do
In a SQUIRREL or two..."

Lehrer was a favorite when I was in junior high in 1957. Still a favorite, and if anyone performs Tomfoolery in your area I recommend you go see it. You will leave determined too learn all the words to "The Elements."

Whatsername 11:23 AM  

I loved the cheesy theme but feh! There wew a few clues that threw me. Overall a fun Wednesday. Thanks Weird Al.

Jim in Chicago 11:26 AM  

Whey beyond fun.

Amelia 11:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Banana Diaquiri 11:49 AM  

at least as a performer, he was pronounced LEER, not LAHR-ER, as the newsman. and thus fits with the cheese answers.

jb129 11:51 AM  

Can't believe I was stuck on No Prob for Easy Peasy :(

Fun puzzle except for Pat Kiernan's giving it away on In the Papers on NY1 - sorry Pat

Hazel 12:04 PM  

As unlikely as it sounds John Cleese's father changed his name from Cheese.

Joe Bleaux 12:15 PM  

FEH? Meh.

relicofthe60s 12:24 PM  

“... one of the only people I know ...” makes my teeth hurt. “Only” means “one,” so the phrase is redundant. What you mean is “one of the few.” End of today’s grammar lesson.

Kath320 12:25 PM  

Weird Al can do no wrong in my book. Don't pass up a chance to see his live shows - simply excellent entertainment!

Nate 12:27 PM  

Fun theme, with only a few complaints:

The LEHRER/TYRE crossing was a total "?" to me, and I was wrong at first because I could have sworn that Wall-E's love interest was "Eva," not EVE. Doesn't he say, "Eeee... vah" a bunch? Am I making that up?

The other weird one, for me, was the CORN-INNS crossing. I had no idea where they were going for either word, and I accidentally put in ERIE instead of ERIN, so I was totally lost. What, exactly, is an "INNS"? Intersection? That has only one "n" in it, so... ???

John Hoffman 12:36 PM  

Still not getting CORN for “cheesy stuff.”
Had SMaSH instead of SMUSH.
Medium Wednesday challenge, I’ll say.
Took me a long time to see AL DENTE. Good clue.

Jonathan 12:40 PM  

Rex, BRAVO on the Wallace & Gromit title. I'm dying.

Teedmn 12:59 PM  

Huh, I'm with @Rex today, surprisingly (to me anyway). The clues for the themers seem like they should have been more than just "cheesy". And clues for other parts of the fill seem like they were holding on by the seats of their pants - I'm thinking of the rather wordy yet vague clue for INNS (52A) and just what about lava "rolls"? (42A). Doesn't it ooze? Those seem like DEFECTs in this otherwise pleasant puzzle.

I originally had "mEH" at 3D and with Weird Al as one of the constructors, I wouldn't have been surprised to get a BL rebus to make 1A [BL]Emish, but it wasn't to be.

I did avoid the EVa mistake at 2D due to a DNF on that answer some puzzles ago (plus I have heard of Tom Lehrer).

THE PELICAN BRIE is my favorite and I have a fondness for MUENSTERS, INC. also. Thanks, Weird Al and Eric.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

In NYC they had a "Cheese and Antiques" store on the corner of 69th and Columbus a couple of decades ago. I never shopped there and I wonder what's there now.

Masked and Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Forgot to mention, only cross that gave m&e trouble was: LEGOLA?/?ARA. Guessed right.

OK … Here we go …

{Cheesy 2004 romantic comedy fantasy??} = *

{Cheesy 1993 made for TV courtroom drama??} = **

yo, @jberg. Are these titles edgy enough?
Keep workin on it? Yeah … kinda thought so.



Z 2:43 PM  

CORN, CORNball, CORNy, get out the popCORN, can of CORN, even my CORNs hurt from laughing so hard. The first three relate in meaning to "cheesy" when used to describe art or performance. The other three I just threw in to prove once again that the language lives and breathes and if you go through life thinking it doesn't you are in for Whoop Can worth of frustration.

@relicofthe60s - I believe the new commentariat rule is that all grammar corrections must be expressed using the subjunctive. So let it be written. So let it be so.

@Moly Shu - I forgot to mention - you nailed it.

Roo Monster 3:56 PM  

Since we've had a grammar on grammar war these past two days, and since Weird Al had composed todays puz, let's hear his song about grammar.
Also, his way clever palindromic song, Bob.
Plus, as a bonus, here is the Silly Walks sketch.

You're welcome. :-)


Hungry Mother 4:28 PM  

Nice puzzle Weird Al. My Lord of the Rings addiction came in handy today. Somehow I didn’t have any issues with the puzzle and sailed througfh it.

sanfranman59 4:32 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 4:21 4:18 1.01 53.3% Medium
Tue 6:17 5:37 1.12 72.0% Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:29 6:00 0.91 36.0% Easy-Medium

Pretty much right up my cultural reference alley (both the puzzle and the celebrity constructor). But that's not terribly surprising since Weird Al was born almost exactly two months after I was. I think the only thing that gave me any pause whatsoever was FEH. I was thinking mEH.

Malsdemare 4:47 PM  

@oldtimer, I did not know who composed the song about the inebriated piano and I'm not sure how I leapfrogged from Dan Hicks to the Squirrel Nut Zippers, but sometimes my brain slips its leash; this was one of those times.

michiganman 5:06 PM  

52A INNS There are usually many inns, motels, hotels close to major highway interchanges.

mitsukuma 5:38 PM  

I know the movie does not get released until 2019, but Dora the Explorateur would have been a winner.

Joe Dipinto 5:49 PM  

1. Cheesy 1981 Paul Newman movie
2. Cheesy 1972 Sophia Loren movie
3. Cheesy 1937 Paul Muni movie
4. Mobster who inspired a cheesy 1983 Al Pacino movie
5. Cheesy character in the musical "Hamilton"
(answers below)

This puzzle was okay. Like Rex, I wish the puns could have been a little sparklier, but there probably wasn't much maneuverability with this theme. It seemed pretty much perfect for a Wednesday.
1. Roquefort Apache, The Bronx
2. Man Of La Manchego
3. The Life Of Emile Gorgonzola
4. Al Mascarpone
5. Aaron Burrata

Rita Flynn 6:07 PM  

Has anyone mentioned yet that John Cleese’s father changed the family name? From Cheese?

Joe 6:39 PM  

I have no idea what CW and UPN are. Just fill for me. I have to say, I thought a Weird Al puzzle would be more fun.

Joe Dipinto 7:56 PM  

Cheeze! It took almost two hours for my post to show up. Is that parmigiano for the course now?

Mohair Sam 8:04 PM  

@oldtimer - A Tom Waits reference! His "You're Innocent When you Dream" is one of my favorite songs - poetry to break your heart.

semioticus (shelbyl) 8:15 PM  

I DNF'ed because of SMaSH/aPN. Normally that would piss me off. But because this is a puzzle by Mr. Yankovic, all I can say is "huh, I got tricked by Weird Al. That's cool."

The one thing that I hate about pun themes is inconsistency. The YAWANNAPIZZAME puzle by Mr. Haight infuriated me back in the day. How am I supposed to get at that fraking answer with all the weird spelling when the clue/theme suggest nothing of that sort? But this puzzle had that consistency: Four rather well-known movies. Nice. Even if the pun is bad, it doesn't bother me. (And let's be honest, THEPELICANBRIE is pushing it a tad)

But yeah, I guess the construction really limited this one fill-wise. Nothing of value. Stop trying to make FEH happen, it's not going to happen! And even though the puzzle mostly avoided bad threes and bad fours, the longer entries also disappointed a bit: ASCAP CALLA ONAGER STUCCO do not evoke any emotional response.

Nonetheless, it has a Weird Al-appropriate theme and clues. That's always welcome.

GRADE: B-, 3 stars.

P.S.: If this is the puzzle that got the POW! from Jeff Chen, oh boy, this is gonna be a loooong week.

BarbieBarbie 8:36 PM  

I am a total fan of solo cross-Atlantic flights, which I guess makes me a Limburger.

I know... bad enough to make you Chèvre and Cheddar, right?

OK puzz. Nothing really tickled me, but I thought it was cute. Of course, I don’t know Jack, so....

Adam Frank 8:36 PM  

Tom LEHRER and HE’S dead, Jim make this puzzle a winner!

Missy 8:49 PM  

And Waltzing Matilda!

laura R 10:24 PM  

LEHRER over FEH and TYRE made this a DNF. Isn’t it a NATICK, tho, with EVE (which I knew) and TYRE? Plus, I’ve never heard anyone use “Feh.” Also, are INNS really what are at interchanges? Not motels or hotels? Inns, by their very nature, are usually out of the way in a bucolic location.

Andrea 1:48 AM  

Moved to comment for the first time today. Loved encountering TomLehrer today--That was the Year That Was was an important piece of my childhood (knew all the words before I understood them), and then was privileged to encounter Professor Tom Lehrer when I was a student at UC Santa Cruz. Overall thought the puzzle was,fun and had a better than average (but not best) time for a Wednesday. I liked the puns, but perhaps I'm not as demanding as Rex.

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

11A? Why is 'ass' the answer for 'yo-yo'?

Bruce Fieggen 11:31 PM  

Nvm. Saw my mistake

thefogman 9:33 AM  

This was edam gouda puzzle. Weird Al is emmental genius.

spacecraft 10:17 AM  

I predict that @Burma-Shave will sign today's poem "WEIRD AL DENTE." W.A. is always fun, and today is no exception. Good, funny theme. The fill has perhaps too many PPPs, and if you don't follow Tolkien or know who that Bareilles chick is, sq. 35 could be a REAL problem. (And I didn't. Decided on the S for SARA. Whew!) I almost put M because LEGOLAM would be a hoot of a name.

Lots of familiar DOD candidates today, including a famous boxing daughter and various SARAs and ERINs, but when I saw THEPELICANBRIE I thought of Julia Roberts, and all others faded into the background.

I don't know how to rate this. Pardie? Bogar? Oh heck. Birdie.

wcutler 2:30 PM  

laura R 10:24 PM asked "... are INNS really what are at interchanges? Not motels or hotels? Inns, by their very nature, are usually out of the way in a bucolic location." Yeh, Holiday Inns, Rodeway Inns, Comfort Inns, to name three.

Burma Shave 2:57 PM  


but one DEFECT stinks –
ONAGER man sub, OSO BENT on distraction.


rainforest 3:01 PM  

This puzzle was a lot of fun, maybe not as amusing as Weird Al's songs, but pretty damn good. My fave was THE PELICAN BRIE for some reason but all the themers were good.

Didn't know SARA but LEGOLAS came to the rescue, as he did so often in LOTR.

I knew there once was a UPN, but I don't really know what CW is.

I'm sure Tom LEHRER is an icon for Weird Al. All LEHRER's stuff is great.

leftcoastTAM 3:09 PM  

Know your cheeses? If so, NOPROB.

Liked the GOUDA- and FETA-flavored movies the best.

One potential Natick in the fill: the LEGOLAS/SARA crossing S. Figured that the most common name, SARA would work best, and of course it did. Another was UPN as "superseded by CW". CW? Okay, I guess so.

Entertaining stuff. Thanks, Weird Al and Eric.

Diana,LIW 4:19 PM  

Did not know ONAGER or LEGOLAS. Thought waiving a white flag meant surrender, so tho I wanted OLES, I didn't. Surrender that word. Surrendered the puzzle instead. So this cheese stands alone. Oh, the deario.

Or is it dairy-oh?

Diana, LIWfC, and crazy for Mr. Yankovic - mah man! That kinda mind is my kinda "yeah baby"

rondo 4:22 PM  

Cheeses! First DEFECTs were ERRors and not ERRATA and mEH. Before cheeses helped me see the light I had no idea what DEmEC_ was supposed to be. And my cheesy stuff was at first a CuRd before corn. NOPROB elsewhere, but those above really blew a lot of time.

The previous morning show on the local MPR station would sometimes play a Tom LEHRER ditty, as well as the EVERLY brothers. NOPROB there either.

Looks like SARA Bareilles is circled; she can sure carry a TUNE. Yeah baby.

Good enough, kinda CORNy, but that’s Weird Al.

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

This...and this.

Enjoyed the Music & Comedy references (CLEF, TUNE, EVERLY, LEHRER, CLEESE...) and sorry Rex but these groaners are totally Weird Al.

Anonymous 12:42 AM  

If a person is a yo-yo, then you could also call the person an ass.

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

My favorite Tom Lehrer song, "Send in the Marines" has endured. Relevant when it came out and relevant today and in all the 20th and 21st century America.

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