WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2, 2008 - Patrick Blindauer

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: O-BOW (it's a pun ... hurrah) - connect the O's and you get a bow-tie shape of a sort

If the O-BOW was supposed to be the payoff for all the crap I had to endure in this puzzle, I have to say that it was Not worth it. I don't like puns, so fine, that's just me. But when a puzzle's punny "theme" entails torturing the fill in order to make it work out ... ugh. Just ugh. Part of my frustration was that it took me Forever to finish this - 9 minutes!? That was with several different "Your puzzle is incorrect" messages (at some point I stopped caring about this puzzle and didn't really bother scanning or double-checking. I just wanted it done). I had a couple of dumb errors, one of which was simply an earlier mis-entry that I'd fixed incompletely. I would like to go on record now as saying that puzzles that require me to do something after I've finished are entirely unwelcome. The pleasure should be in the solving. If it's not, puzzle is a failure, no matter how many O BOWS or I BEAMS or O RINGS or T SQUARES you manage to create.

It's bad enough that I have to wait til I'm done to see what the hell the "theme" is all about - but to have to endure the painful misdirection of the theme-cluing answer; that was too much.

20A: With 59-Across hint to this puzzle's secret (clarinet / relative)

Get it? OBOE and if you CONNECT ALL THE O'S (41A: What to do after completing this puzzle, with four straight lines), you get an O-BOW. [insert groan here]. For the record, I'd much rather get torn a new one by Bob Klahn than have to endure cutesiness like this on a Wednesday, or any day (by the way, Bob Klahn's NY Sun puzzle today is fantastic, and, unlike last Saturday's Klahn, doable).

What was wrong?:

Plain old bad fill, and a lot of it:

15A: Mythical king of the huns (Atli), who would have died a quiet death long ago were it not for crosswords. We haven't seen a lot of him lately, but he used to be all the rage. Now, he just reeks of desperation. You want more crosswordese? You got it:

  • OTOE (45A: Chief Whitehorse, e.g.) - If you had gotten the O's to form a giant toe shape, I'd have stood and applauded
  • ONE / O'CAT (65D: With 32-Across, a ball game) - most hated of no-longer-known "ball" games
  • ASST
  • ARID
  • IPO
  • TOTO
  • ENIDS - which was at least clued interestingly, albeit in horrible plural form: 44A: Children's author Blyton and others - Whoa, this woman's books are disturbing. No wonder she's not real big on this side of the pond. Here's one about the SS:

And then - well, there's this racist insanity (all apologies for offensiveness, but I just thought this had to be seen to be believed):

Go here for more on the "Golliwogg" controversy. On with the parade...
  • ACH
  • HST
  • LOL
  • ISERE (38A: River to the Rhone)
  • EEE, for god's sake

My ignorance, which never ceases ... well, it just never ceases:

  • 1A: Rivera of the original "Chicago" (Chita) - after a few moments, the name CHITA floated up out of the misty part of my brain that stores cultural references from 70's game shows
  • 56A: Gwen of the original "Chicago" (Verdon) - quit bludgeoning me with this crap. One dated Broadway reference per puzzle is quite enough
  • 49A: "The Gift of the Magi" gift (fob) - my mind went "gold, frankincense, myrrh ... nope." Forgot completely about the O. Henry story about the couple who sell their most prized possessions to be able to buy gifts for each other, only to find out they each sold the things that their respective gifts were intended to adorn: she got him a FOB for a watch (which he sold), and he got her hair combs for her hair (which she sold). Stuck on a Biblical frame of reference, I had OIL in here somehow (to anoint the Christ child?). Thus I had ... OLOO where OLOF (37D: Former Swedish P.M. Palme) was supposed to be. That spelling of OLOF is painful. A sacrifice to the O-BOW gods, I guess.
  • 47A: Japanese leader of the 1960s (Sato) - I had NO idea here. Another "O," another stumble.
  • 43D: Pope after John X (Leo VI) - LEO the anythingth is one of my least favorite bits of crossword fill.
  • 30A: Epigram (mot) - I do not like these as synonyms, though I've seen this exact clue / answer pair before. The only time anyone might reasonably use MOT when speaking English is as part of French phrases: bons mots or le mot juste
  • 4D: Color faintly (tinct) - I routinely botch this answer. I go with TINGE. I want TINT, and it won't fit, and I go to TINGE. Dumb.
  • 28D: Violinist Schneider, informally (Sasha) - never heard of ... him? Is this the guy? Alexander Schneider? Isn't this obscure, as violinists go?
  • 53D: Spanish skating figures (ochos) - I hate this answer perhaps most of all. Even if there is a phrase in Spanish meaning "to skate figure eights," I still hate it. "Figures" can mean lots of things.
  • 48D: _____ Foods, Inc. (Oreida) - I quickly and confidently entered ONEIDA. This resulted in my guessing FASTENED for 52A: Promoted (fostered). So while the puzzle itself was the primary cause of my annoyance today, I annoyed myself almost as much at times.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Today's other puzzles:
  • NYS 9:47 (C) - RECOMMENDED: Bob Klahn, "Piece by Piece"
  • Onion AV Club - [failure] (C) - RECOMMENDED: Byron Walden, ["Dirty Debate Tactics"] - very timely puzzle about the Presidential candidates
  • LAT 5:05 (C)
  • CS 4:46 (C)
  • Newsday 3:36 (C)
  • Universal 5:31 (P)

[drawing by Emily Cureton]


PhillySolver 8:48 AM  

Took a lot longer than nine minutes for me, but while it came slowly, it wasn't too difficult.

I did have an error...I entered 'mom' for 30A and guessed 'moto' for curtain puller thinking Quasimoto or whoever that scary guy was in the old movie "Phantom" was a good enough fit. I got 41A and thought that's odd...tried it and got a big x the way I did it and only saw I was supposed to do the up and down Os after I read your blog. FOSTERED didn't come quickly and had 'dde' for a bit as well as 'aide' and 'ogod' and 'ich' so I had to redo the SW.

I guess SASHA is always a nickname for Alexander...came from having read 'War and Peace' maybe.

Still thought it was a good puzzle.

Linda G 8:58 AM  

Thought the puzzle itself was easy enough for a Wednesday...didn't have any of the difficulties Rex described. My only problem was trying to make sense of CLARINET/RELATIVE after I'd connected all the O's. It took me forever to see that I'd made an O-Bow. Unlike Rex, I'll take a good pun any day.

I didn't find the fill to be forced in order to pull off this feat of construction. To have all of the O's contained in a puzzle in four lines is nothing short of brilliant.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

This was definitely a hard Wednesday and some strange fill. CHITA Rivera came quickly but it took a while for Gwen VERDON to fall, and even then it was very tentatively.

The middle came very slowly to me. Finally after I realized that the theme involved O's, I decided to fill in more O's in the middle and OTOE, ROLO, OLOF, and MOT finally fell. Ugh...

On the subject of OTOE, one of the truly pantheonic tribes, it would perhaps be a good project for the readership to compile knowledge about such fill so that obscure cluing like, "Chief Whitehorse, e.g.", can yield answers more easily. Any thoughts on a wiki-pantheon project?

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Despite never seeing the o-bow, had no real problems with this one. But could someone explain why TOTO is a film puller??? Stay warm all - it's in the teens and snowing lightly in Tennessee which means I'm duty-bound to go buy bread and milk.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Shows how my mind works. When I read "Curtain puller of film," my first thought was "Norman Bates."

I'm not sure I ever saw OLOF spelled with two "O"s.

Can't say that I disliked this one as much as Rex did, but it sure seemed more difficult than the usual Wednesday. (UH-OH - what does this bode for the rest of the week???)

I also don't mind connecting letters after the puzzle is completed, but I was stared blankly at it after I was done. I didn't get the bow-tie bit until I logged on here. (That's two days in a row in which this blogged has helped me with the theme after the fact. Thanks, Rex!)

I kinda liked seeing the two stars of the original CHICAGO clued in the same puzzle. If only Jerry Orbach had been included, it would have been the trifecta!

Dan 9:40 AM  

Always makes me feel better to see you tanked the same stuff I did. It took me over 10 minutes, and I'm about at your speed level for early/mid-week.

Did the exact same thing with ONEIDA/OREIDA and FOSTERED/FASTENED. I'm kicking myself for not figuring out OCHOS, even with the sneaky clue.

Once I filled in "clarinet relative," I figured out the "O" gimmick, which helped me get that damned OLOF and other crappy fill.

As I'm sure you know, but are exaggerating for curmudgeonly comic effect, Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera are two of the biggest Broadway stars ever, and their joint appearance (just like in Chicago) is the best thing about this fill. It's like if someone complained that MAYS and AARON in the same puzzle were "dated" and overkill...

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

jannieb, in the 1939 movie version of THE WIZARD OF OZ, Toto pulls back a curtain to reveal the Wizard is just an old man. This leads to the classic line, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

Rex Parker 9:48 AM  


Thanks for stumbling where I did.

As for Gwen and Chita, I was not exaggerating. CHITA, sure, heard it, Gwen VERDON ... no way. I just don't do Broadway at all. It's worse than opera for me now. As for the MAYS and AARONc comparison - com on. Are you taunting me? (if so, that's cool - I'm sure I have it coming).


Alex S. 9:56 AM  

Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon may have starred in the original musical version of Chicago, but the original Chicago was a 1926 straight play, also on Broadway.

Not only was the "original" performed 50 years before the "original" used in the clues, but the original was from before either of these two people who supposedly starred in the original were born.

Not that this cluing error hampered my solve. I'm well aware of the stage history of Chicago but I haven't a clue who starred in the various versions. The name Chita Rivera was vaguely familiar to me but not so for Gwen Verdon.

Otherwise, I found the non-theme fill to be someone stressed by the form it was being crammed into but most of my problems were self inflicted (such as an apparent inability to spell DINERO).

However, I've never heard the phrase "SIC on" (or is it "on SIC"?). We always told dogs to "SIC him" or some other pronoun.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Actually, MOT for "epigram" is not correct. "Mot" is simply French for "word". "Bon mot" is French for "good word", or more loosely, a clever saying, i.e., an epigram. So an epigram is a "bon mot", not just a "mot"!

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Wowie - looks like I have a new mission: to write as many "What's Next?" puzzles as possible and fill them with Broadway factoids.

Luckily, a life upon the wicked stage has given me some thick skin. (Think Jumbo from "Barnum")


wendy 10:51 AM  

Yeah, billnutt, Jerry Orbach would have been nifty, esp. since his son, Tony, is a crossword constructor!

Are you kidding me with that golliwogs book? OMG!!!

Orange 10:59 AM  

I usually expect to see one or two Broadway clues in a Patrick Blindauer puzzle. These clues bug me when I don't know the names, but Chita and Verdon have tap-danced their way across crossword grids enough that completing their names = gimmes. And now if there's a provide-the-corresponding-first-or-last-name clue involving Gwen or Verdon at the ACPT, Rex, you'll have another gimme.

I liked this sociologist's essay, "The Golliwog Caricature," at the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia site. I read it last spring when [Golliwog] was used to clue OGRE in another crossword. I thought I'd found a cool old word,

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

Yup. This one sucked like a Hoover on steroids. Contorted, convoluted, un-clever and for what? Who edits these things anyway? I think Shortz is too busy trying to shoehorn his sudoku profits into a nine by nine box.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

My only complaint about today's theme is, being an on-line puzzler, I really don't care for things that almost require using paper. I figured out that the after-puzzle would be something to do with Oboes, and I love puns. Just don't like playing connect-the-dots on my monitor. It took seeing Orange's blog to actually visualize the "o-bow" which took away that part of the pun fun, for me.

Otherwise, just about right challenge for a Wednesday. I did the Oneida/Oreida, tinge/tinct mistakes as well as (since I know nothing about the play) starting in with Chico for Rivera (until I got tinge) and mis-spelling Verdon (verdun).

I enjoyed the ochos skaters, but never have heard of one o'cat. I'm glad Rex mentioned it as I was going to ask here wth is that?

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Toto, the dog in the film "The Wizard of Oz" was seen pulling Dorothy's dress (to lead her, not undress her).

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Being a musician, I was a little put out by not knowing anything about SASHA Schneider. I guessed MISHA. Didn't get the O-BOW until Rex helped me out. I'm impressed with the construction though - not only are the Os in lines, but they're evenly spaced too. Wow. Hat off to Mr. Blindauer.

Google tells me that Mr. Alexander "Sasha" Schneider (1908-1993) was no obscure figure, however. He founded the New York String Orchestra in 1968 and was involved in pretty much everything in the NY music scene from the 1930s, focusing on teaching. He was also the first one to play all Haydn's string quartets in a concert series (well, him and the other three members of course). An impressive figure.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Some fresh clues and answers mixed with some cliches. I like puzzles with added twists, but the pun here is a stretch-and-a-half, and the clarinet/relative clue is incorrect: the clarinet is not related to the oboe.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Had to come here to find out what a bow tie had to do with a clarinet. Sheesh.

And I missed the "o-bow" pun even though I'd listened to Mozart's oboe concerto the other day.

Gwen Verdon was a wonderful "Lola" in "Damn Yankees." "The ugliest girl in Providence, Rhode Island."


Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Single reeds are used on the mouthpieces of clarinets and saxophones.

Double reeds are used on the oboe, oboe d'amore, english horn, bassoon, contrabassoon, and bagpipes.

Source: Wikipedia

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Aren't the clarinet and the oboe both reed instruments? That makes them relatives, even if somewhat distantly, in my book.

DONALD 12:02 PM  


Bring it on!

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

For future reference, this SATO person is usually clued as the winner of the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize.


Anonymous 12:18 PM  

I too dislike having to draw lines after the fact as I do the puzzle on line and have difficulty visualizing shapes.

I figured it was an oboe and did not pick up on the pun especialy as I thought the connected lines looked like 2 horns attached mouth piece to mouth piece.. I like puns but I don't like post-puzzle gimmicks. I want to do a crossword not play connect-the -dots.

As to Broadway stars, I too groaned when I saw those clues.Although a New Yorker, I have been to Broadwy perhaps 5 or 6 times and never to a blockbuster musical. However, Chita did pop into my mind (she is one of the few (or perhaps only) actress to win a Tony, Oscar and an Emmy, that makes her culturally relevant and she still acts I believe. As to Gwen Verdon, I have no idea who she is or what she looks like but once I got some letters from crosses,her name came to me too. I therefore felt that since she is in my subconscious she too is probably not obscure. That is my criterion for whether a clue deserves a groan. I know little about Theatre, Opera and even less about Sports and cars. When I see clues in these categories, I want to groan. However, if I realize later they are famous (although not to me) or recognizable just from seeping in from the ambient culture, I feel that they are puzzle-worthy. If not, then they are not and I may legitamately groan.

Norrin2 12:37 PM  

Right on, Rex,let's get rid of puns and wordplay and any innovative attempts to expand the definition of what a crossword puzzle is and what it can do.
Let's just bring back Eugene T. Maleska.
(BTW, this is called sarcasm.)

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Rex, I think, based on my exhaustive research, that the leap from "tint" to "tinge", bypassing TINCT, is universal. Me, my wife, and my dog all did the same thing.

The good news -- four consecutive NON-melancholy Oboes!

The bad news -- Huh? If I connect the "O"s, there are stop points along each of the four lines, where all the intermittent Os are. What do they contribute? You get the same effect by connecting just the four most-distant Os. What is the purpose of the others? I have never seen a bow-tie as tall as it is wide....this could have been done in truer proportion by squeezing the top and bottom Os closer.

I had OTaE and OLaF -- it was a toss-up as to which one I wanted to misspell (or so I thought). And I misguessed the SATO ESTER crossing. I'm good with the VERDONs and CHITAs, but Blyton was brand new for me.

In general, pretty ingenious, just not my cuppa. I'll remember it as the OX-Bow Incident.

Stephen 12:52 PM  

I tried connecting every O to every other one!

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Mark me down as clueless on Broadway also. Although if I'd read the clue for PROFITEERED more closely I probably would have gotten it. And I think New Year's Day sleepiness kept me from getting SPCA and CONDO in good time. ATLI just looks wrong. And I hit TINGE.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

I'll put in a vote for much harder than normal for a Wednesday puzzle.
Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon killed me, never heard of them and I do lots of crosswords. (But I don't do Broadway.) Also thought "Mot", "Fob" "Olof" were Fri/Sat answers...Clue for "Toto" was definitely Fri/Sat hard. Top and bottom came fairly easy, got hung in the center of the puzzle for a long time.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

karmasartre, I think we are the ones who said bow tie. The pun is about a bow, any bow that you make, e.g. on a Christmas package, and it happens to be made out of "O"s.

I agree that the construction took some doing, even if it did not appeal to many...

I must say that I appreciated Mr. Blindauer's humorous response to the commentary. It made me like the puzzle better, by somehow making the whole package seem more tongue-in-cheek and playful. Why not experiment a bit?

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

I think the problem with this puzzle is it seems designed to thwart the speed solvers - those who fill in a word on seeing one letter. We plodders who look for confirmation of our guesses before filling in the whole word did better on this puzzle, relatively speaking. My time, which is usually several multiples of Rex's, was about the same, but then I didn't have several bouts with the "incorrect" message.

BTW, I couldn't see the "four straight lines" clue at work on the screen after working the applet. So I did it again in Across-Lite, printed it out, and then drew the lines. Voila! I wonder if there is a way to print out a filled-in applet. Anyone?

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

This puzzle was o-tay!

-- Gumby

kumar 1:42 PM  

Amen to all of Rex's comments, especially the ones relating to the crosswordese clues and answers and the tortured and torturing theme.

When I don't get an answer and read about it in Rex's blog, I have one of four reactions:

1. Should have know that one!
2. So that is what the clue was trying to tell me.
3. Stupid clue
3. Boy, am I glad I don't clutter up my mind with this kind of (expletive deleted).

Many reactions of the third kind on today's puzle, and a few of the fourth.

Also, isn't Atli just another name for Attila, a real historical figure? What was so "mythical" about him?

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

Nineteen minutes and eighteen seconds for me, and that included a phone call that I managed to "solve" through.

Work, the curse of the puzzle class!

No idea for the Chicago clues and Tinct was new for me. And, I wanted Igor to be the curtain puller. I got all of those via the crosses

The rest came fairly quickly.

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

More for to the oboe discussion: Red Skelton in one of his patter songs (Anatole of Paris) defines the oboe as a "woodwind that no one blows good".

fergus 2:11 PM  

The "Epaminondas" series, by Constance Egan, offers some comparably dated stereotypes, though hers don't seem as demeaning as Golliwogs.

I wasn't too pleased with this puzzle either. After struggling with quite a few clues, none of the revelations had much gratifying recognition. More like: is this really going to be the dull answer?

Profiteering on the Arms trade was a good crossing, though. And the ABRASION wasn't bad, either.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

Lots of clues seemed to be stretches today.

I also read CERTAIN puller so didn't get TOTO until late in the game.

Gwen VERDON was a guest on an episode of M*A*S*H so that's how I knew her. If you haven't heard of CHITA, though, you must live a really insulated life!

Orange 2:24 PM  

Profphil, I think you're thinking of Rita Moreno, who's won the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony (one of nine people to do so—and no, I have no idea who the other eight are).

Kumar, the Wikipedia writeup on Attila says Atli is a Norse variant of the name, and that Atli has been included as a fictional representation in old Icelandic literature. I don't know why [Mythical king of the Huns] is typically used to clue ATLI—anyone else know?

Anonymous 1:15, I wouldn't say the puzzle necessarily thwarted speed-solvers—there are at least four legitimate applet times in the sub-4:00 range.

For those of you who don't read the NYT "Today's Puzzle" forum, there are plenty of raves about today's puzzle. Not everyone hated it! Me, I liked it just fine.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Sic em: 63,800 google hits.
Sic on: 66,300 google hits.

Derived from sick and seek. Etymology.

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

Thanks Billnutt - had I read the clue more carefully, I'd have understood. I read "certain" puller - hence the confusion. Always interests me to see where the speed bumps are for others - some day it will be second nature for me to think of bread and money as synonyms, but those clues always give me pause - like randr, etc.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

I also was not really fond of this one. Like marice I do Wed. on line and needed Orange to reveal the pun, although I was pretty sure it had something to do with oboe. I've only been doing this for a year +, so ATLI was new to me, ISERE on the other hand I filled in with no crosses. For some reason TOTO was practically a gimme, could have been the O in the OTOE gimme.

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

My wish for 2008 - may Patrick Blindauer run out of all funky patterns that he alone can see within the 15x15 to 21x21 grids. May he exhaust all the puzzles within puzzles possibilities. Once this is done, he can focus on creating powerful, lively crosswords that we know he is capable of! :-)

More seriously, today's was a reasonable puzzle but this is the kind of puzzle which appears to be trying to hard to be different or creative.

A pictorial snowman once a year with some dazzling fill I like. O-bow tie, with a lot of crosswordese to create a groan, not so much. (But then Blindauer should take heart that we are comparing his creations to Gorski's!)


Anonymous 5:16 PM  

doctor j at 2:06 pm:

It was not Red Skelton who sang Anatole of Paris, it was Danny Kaye, known for his patter songs.

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

Gertrude in Hamlet: "...and there I see such black and grainèd spots as will not leave their tinct."

Hamlet is an education in itself. Provides many useful bits of X-word info. Has other merits, too.

Other than in puzzles, that was the only place I had ever seen the word "tinct."

Re Golliwogs (also of "Cakewalk" fame): Under pressure, some years ago the Robertson jam company in the U.K. removed their trademark "Golly" from the labels on their jam jars. Whew!

Anonymous 5:33 PM  


and the line is "It's an ill wind that no one blows good."
(not a 'woodwind'.)

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

Did not enjoy or finish this puzzle under my own steam, but as an aging Brit I have to come to the defense of Enid Blyton. The Gollywog books that have drawn so much fire of late were a very small part of her work, and, in those very different times, were not unusual. She did write very many children's mystery books ( I think the US Nancy Drew books are probably a good comparison) and got many young children - myself included - hooked on reading for life!! She also wrote many stories used in schools for teaching about nature and the bible.

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

Just re-read Rex's comments on Enid Blyton and realized I did not say that the SS he draws attention to in that book title, was a group of seven children (or it may have been six children and a dog!) who used to solve very innocent mysteries. Really nothing sinister about them at all!! There was another series of books about a group of children called the Famous Five and yet another about the Adventurous Four!! I loved them all and could depend on having the latest adventure book in my Christmas stocking every year.

Anonymous 5:47 PM  

Considering TINCT- what finally made it click for me was when I remembered "tincture of iodine".

Rob G. 5:57 PM  

If the last two days are any indication, 2008 is going to be a bad year for puzzles.

Dan 6:38 PM  

Rex -
So sorry to post and run this morning, I was late to work... (rehearsal for a musical! Really.)

I was totally serious in comparing Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon to Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, fame-wise. It's not the best analogy, of course, because baseball players are way better known to the average American than Broadway stars.

Bob Gibson is a better match for Verdon - tops in his field for a while, but not enduringly famous. So just as a hypothetical "Cardinals 1968 MVP Bob" clue would be a gimme for you (I assume), that's what the "Chicago" stuff was for me and dozens of others. I think that was my point...

I was really reacting to your calling them "dated Broadway reference[s]," which at the least is a bit unfair. But that's your blogging style, and we love it or we wouldn't be here...

And I wasn't trying to taunt you at all - that comes after I beat you in the tournament. Heh!

Rex Parker 6:53 PM  


Bob Gibson is perhaps my favorite pitcher of all time, so you're killing me with these comparisons.

I concede that if you are into musicals, the "Chicago" answers were likely no-brainers. I don't doubt or dispute the fame of ... I swear, I can't remember her name even now ... Gwen Verdon (had to look back at your comment!). Anyway, I watched a PBS program on Jerry Herman today just to try to begin to learn a thing or two about musical theater. I hope my "research" will make me a better solver, if not a better person. (Watch me become a Show Tune addict...).

And let me add, generally (because I feel it needs saying): Patrick Blindauer is an ambitious, even visionary constructor. He has recently displayed this affinity for the concept puzzle that I do not always enjoy - putting (IMOO) the Vision ahead of the puzzle's overall smoothness and quality. That said, at least he takes risks. Better an Ambitious Disaster than Another Bland Puzzle. PB is bound to be a major force for Good in puzzling for years to come.


Howard B 7:09 PM  

I did like this puzzle, but I'm weak on Broadway as well, and I'm not (entirely) ashamed to admit that I couldn't figure out the theme for the life of me. First, I'm lousy visually (what profphil said). I then crossed the four remaining Os (not part of the cross) horizontally, which didn't really make anything but a screwed-up hourglass. I even tried connecting them diagonally, which made a nice asterisk but little else.
Anyone else need to stop by the blogs to figure the theme?

Anyway, ambitious puzzle, and we even got to visit good old ATLI again.

Anonymous 7:24 PM  

Debussey wrote a neat piano piece called "Golliwog's Cakewalk." I had always imagined that it referred to a tadpole-like critter, like a polliwog.


Anonymous 7:47 PM  

Rex -- The PBS special on Jerry Herman, creator of musicals "Mame", "Hello Dolly", "La Cage aux Folles", etc. was indeed terrific. Now you should rent the movie made from the musical "Fosse", winner of the 1999 Tony Award for Best Musical. There you'll hear more of Gwen Verdon plus highlights from movies and shows including "Chicago", "Pippin", "Sweet Charity", "Cabaret" and "All that Jazz".
As for Chita Rivera, also a Tony Award winner and first Hispanic woman honored with a Kennedy Center award, one of her most famous roles was Anita in the original Broadway and London runs of "West Side Story". Enjoy!

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

Orange, have you ever heard of the FORBIDDEN BROADWAY parody about the confusion between Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno? It's set to the tune of "America" from WEST SIDE STORY. All I know are the first two lines:

"My name is Chita and not Rita."
"My name is Rita and not Chita"

As for other people who have won the grand slam of awards (Oscar, Tony, Grammy, Emmy): John Geilgud, Mel Brooks, Marvin Hamlisch, Helen Hayes, Audrey Hepburn, Mike Nichols, Richard Rodgers, and an arranger/orchestrator named JOnathan Tunick.

If you include Daytime Emmys, Whoopi Goldberg would also qualify. A number of people have won honorary awards that would put them on the list (notably Barbra Streisand), but these names above are the folks who have won in competition.

Oh, and both Richard Rodgers and Marvin Hamlisch have also Pulitzer Prizes.

Anonymous 8:26 PM  

I finished the puzzle and drew the lines, stared at the shape with the hint "clarinet relative" in mind, but ...."bow" did not dawn on me. Even though I had been thinking about oboe earlier in the puzzle. Oh well!
Agree with Anon 10:11am that the appropriate answer for "epigram" is "bon mot".
However, I was impressed by the construction skill, lining up all those O's does not look easy!

Anonymous 8:46 PM  

I think this was the most truly horrible NYTimes puzzle I have ever done. Or tried to do. I got the clarinet relative, but just kept drawing blanks. Not a single "aha" moment, although both Sato and Olof came relatively easily. I think both have made cameo appearances in the past.

Roll on Thursday, maybe it will be easier.

Anonymous 9:48 PM  

I still don't get it!

I takes me 9 minutes to fold the art section of the newspaper!

Anonymous 10:08 PM  

Don't know if anyone else has commented on it, but I appreciate your new end-of-column feature, about puzzles other than the NYT.

Peter Gordon and Rich Norris are among the best of the best.

I've thanked Orange in the past for her blogging efforts on these "other" puzzles. Nice to see somebody else mention them. Miss Green Genius' comments on the NYS.

fergus 1:17 AM  

Sharing a similar opinion about Bob Gibson. He was the archetype right-hander when my greatest aspiration was pitching. A full Rooster cycle ahead of Rex, I got to see him in his prime, mowing down Cubs at Wrigley Field in the late 60s. Also got to see Clemente play there, too. As a White Sox fan, I was perhaps more appreciative of the Visitors than most in that crowd.

G 6:00 AM  

Patrick -- if you are still reading the responses:

I thought this was a brilliant, fun puzzle despite the crosswordese and hope you continue to do these. They make you think, they're amusing, they are creative and just plain fun.

So I am glad to hear you have a thick skin and hope you keep up your efforts to stretch the definition of what a crossword puzzle can be.

Eric Selje 9:41 AM  

One thing that nobody's really mentioned... on the middle theme clue, I didn't think it was referring to the crossword puzzle itself, but some other puzzle. So I thought, "what puzzle has four straight lines?" Ah, a tic-tac-toe board. "Ok, what do we do when we finish a tic-tac-toe puzzle?" Yes, right, CONNECT THE O'S.

It wasn't until later that I realized he meant this puzzle.

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

Most annoying:"NOES"

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