FRIDAY, May 30, 2008 - Natan Last ("THE WANDERING HEIR" NOVELIST, 1872)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Put ERROL (54A: "The Fog of War" director Morris) into the grid straight away, and then spread out from there, with the dead center of the puzzle being the very last thing to fall. I kept nibbling around the edges of it, but since the center featured an olde tyme composer intersecting an olde tyme tune, I was really out of my element. To my credit, my first guess at 35A: "Just in Time" composer was the right answer: STYNE. It just took me a while to confirm it because I refused to allow TRY TO into the grid at 26D: "_____ Forget" (Harbach/Kern tune) - TRY is already in the grid over at CAN I TRY SOME (21D: Question while eying someone else's plate). Violation! Ugh. But that is one of only a very few problems with this puzzle. Mostly it was a blast to solve - lots of fresh fill, lost of interesting clues.

Here are the highlights (I have "YAY" written next to all these clues):

  • 1A: Elaborate procedure (rigmarole) - I use this word every chance I get. It sounds like what it is - it's fun to say ... whimsically derisive. Also, often pronounced as if it had four syllables.
  • 16A: Living end (bee's knees) - again, as I said yesterday, the puzzle lives perpetually in 1959; this is not always a bad thing (I just typed "bad knees"...?).
  • 34A: Shape-shifting giant of myth (Loki) - LOKI was also a 15A: Playful trickster, though the answer there is PIXIE.
  • 40A: The classical elements, e.g. (tetrad) - great word. Earth, Air, Fire, Water = 4 = TETRAD.
  • 42A: Luxor Temple sight (obelisk) - I actually have "woo hoo" written next to this clue. Fantastic word, especially when seated on top of ORYX (46A: Animal some believe to be the source of the unicorn myth). If only this puzzle had a BASILISK. . .
  • 55A: Old comedian known for his unique piano-playing style (Chico Marx) - I am not a big Marx Bros fan, so I did not know this bit of trivia, but CHICOMARX looks fantastic in the grid.
  • 60A: "My parents are gonna kill me!" ("I am SO dead!") - a perfect colloquialism. Spot-on.
  • 2D: He played one of TV's Sopranos (Iler) - I was reviewing my notes on common crossword fill yesterday, and this guy's name was there, so though it's not the greatest or most original answer in the world, I have "Yay me!" written next to it.
  • 5D: Peter who wrote "The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde" (Ackroyd) - another "Yay me" - I pulled this guy's name up out of god knows where because he wrote a book about Shakespeare once, I think.
  • 10D: Follower of Sha Na Na at Woodstock (Jimi Hendrix) - I'm seen JIMI in the puzzle before, but you could put him in the puzzle every day and it would be a while before I tired of him. A great crossword name all around.
  • 45D: Golden-Globe-nominated actress for "The Opposite of Sex," 1998 (Ricci) - I was going to write in KUDROW (which tells you that I actually saw this movie), but it didn't fit. I preferred RICCI in "The Ice Storm" (one of my favoritest films ever), but this movie was pretty good too.

My only criticisms of this puzzle: the aforementioned double-TRY; NTEST (47A: Big bang creator), which is standard fill that stands out only because it's so far beneath the general caliber of fill in this puzzle (see also D-TEN - 36A: Call in the game Battleship); and the clue for FAA - 51A: Org. that can't be lax about LAX. Too much cutesiness.

OK, I'm taking D-TEN off the negative board, as it brazenly intersects TEN-D (actually, TEND - 29D: Lean). If there's one thing I admire in a puzzle, it's BALLS (see Wednesday).


  • 14A: Soapmaking compound (oleic acid) - I know nothing about soapmaking (shocking!), but this was remarkably easy to piece together, so no problem.
  • 18A: Where to find lifesavers, for short (ERs) - flirts with excessive cutesiness, but I'll let it pass...
  • 19A: "The Wandering Heir" novelist, 1872 (Reade) - the Official 19th-Century English Novelist of the NYT Crossword Puzzle.
  • 21A: "The Big Lebowski" director (Coen) - my least favorite COEN Bros. film.
  • 31A: Orsk is on it (Ural) - I had OREL ... then ARAL ...
  • 33A: Rabbit punch landing site (nape) - this clue returns, and this time, I got it no problem.
  • 38A: Four-legged film star of the '30s (Asta) - Is ASTA the "star?" Usually we refer to actresses and actors as the "stars," but ASTA is a character...
  • 59A: Disclosure on eHarmony (type) - I think I don't understand how "disclosure" is being used here. eHarmony "discloses" your type to you? Or you "disclose" your type to eHarmony? And is type some broad concept like "you're not my type?" I got married before eHarmony really took off, so I have no idea how that all works, exactly.
  • 7D: Sealab inhabitants (oceanauts) - god that's a great word, even though I didn't even know it was a word until I put it into the grid...
  • 23D: Publication with an annual "Green Issue" (Elle) - Really? Huh? What it would it mean for a fashion magazine to be "green" - is it somehow not made out of paper?
  • 32D: Process of molecular synthesis (anabolism) - did not know this. Sounds a bit too much like CANNIBALISM for my ... tastes.
  • 52D: Scena segment (aria) - Opera!

The End

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


ArtLvr 9:03 AM  

Wow! Kudos to Natan again -- This latest puzzle is certainly setting the standards higher! I started in several places with isolated answers like ORYX which turned out to be right, but breaking a section open didn't happen until I found KEGS and EXONERATES.

From the NE, I pretty much worked clockwise -- I'd thought of 1A as "rigamarole" but it didn't fit, so the NW where I ended up last! Discovered much to cause the "aha, wonderful" moments... just one little unhappy pair to be a bother afterward: 12D RINK as place where "flames shoot in it", since it would seem that a circus "ring" would be more apt? With 20A that would give "sings" instead of SINKS, the latter obvously better for "settles" -- but "sings" is also possible if you take it as a plea bargaining way of settling court suit!

I suppose TETRAD refers to "earth, air,water and fire" as the "classical elements, e.g." - egads. I'll be looking forward to everyone's FAVE comments...


ArtLvr 9:09 AM  

p.s. Main Entry: rig·a·ma·role
variant of rigmarole -- so thar's not wrong, according to M-W

Unknown 9:10 AM  

Natan has an ear for the language and has given us an enjoyable puzzle, but I sure did not find it easy. I wondered if the Lifesavers were EMS or ERS. I didn't know he/she of The Sopranos, so I was lucky there.
Chico Plays the Baldwin here and shows why they say his style is unique.

I had a few other struggles, but I like it just fine looking back at it this morning and look forward to hearing from others. Rigamorale/ Rigmarole is going to be a common problem today I think. I went down the wrong path for sure.

Megan P 9:12 AM  

I really loved this puzzle, which I found a little hard, actually. But I was so distressed to learn that Rex doesn't love THE BIG LEBOWSKI. . . I almost didn't want to leave a comment. That is a gorgeous movie.

How wonderful to have Hendrix clued so cleverly - imagine him following Sha na na - the incongruity - and having him in the same puzzle with Chico Marx is so great. Just a couple of many amusing/surprising moments.

JannieB 9:14 AM  

This was probably one of my favorite Friday puzzles. It was a real workout for me, but so satisfying to solve. I kept writing in rigmarole and taking it out. Kept thinking it had another "a' in it so I checked the spelling and finally left it in but still kept staring at the NW. Moving eastward, I got some traction and moved down the coast pretty steadily. Started back in the NW and the light bulbs started flickering. Last fill for me was "trey". Just couldn't figure out that SW corner. Lots of names I didn't know but gettable from crosses. And some day, I'm going to study Russian geography so I know when to use Aral vs Ural. Are both of them mountains AND rivers? Too much.

Anyway - a great puzzle to start the weekend.

BTW, regarding symmetry. I never have focused on its use in construction beyond the design of the grid. To me it's not a big deal if rebuses (rebi??) aren't symmetrical, or if there are 4 down theme answers and only two across. I just want to have a good time solving the thing. Give me clever clues and fresh fill and I'm happy. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

PuzzleGirl 9:19 AM  

It was a three-google Friday for me and I ended up with two mistakes. One that's too embarrassing for me to admit publicly, the other has already been admitted by artlvr so I don't mind joining the party. I thought of SINGS as, for example, singing a lullaby and settling a child. Worked for me!

Awesome puzzle. My favorite answer was I AM SO DEAD. The trickiest, I thought, was "invented things" for LIED.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  


In the days of SeaLab, the occupants were referred to as Aquanauts (a parrallel ro Astronauts).

Never heard of Ocean-auts, which should at least have a double n to look less made up.


ArtLvr 9:39 AM  

@ puzzlegirl -- I suspected afterward that Flames was an ice-hockey team, thus RINK, and sure enough, that's where that came from.... Maybe a google in time saves!


Orange 10:05 AM  

A friend of mine completed the eHarmony questionnaire and they told her "Sorry, we'd never be able to match you with anyone. Good luck and goodbye." Maybe not the best dating site for a 49-year-old feminist?

Jannie, the Aral Sea is a shrinking inland sea, and not a mountain or river. The Urals are the mountain range that divides Europe from Asia, and (Wikipedia informs me) the Ural River begins in the Urals and ends in the Caspian Sea.

Glitch: Yeah, but oceanaut is a word. Does that de-quibble it for you?

Rex, I so often miss noticing the dupes, like the two TRYs. I gasped (literally!) when I read your mention of the violation. (Yes, I am a crossword nerd.)

The New Oxford American Dictionary draws a line in the sand and lists only the rigmarole spelling. The oddball word's derivation is reviewed here.

Alex S. 10:16 AM  

Me and this puzzle are just on different wavelengths.

TAKE THE RAP, to me, is not the same as "be a whipping boy." Be a patsy, sure, but be a whipping boy is, to me, some form of physical or emotional abuse with TAKE THE RAP need not entail.

I just don't get NEST for "Leaves home?" Didn't help that corner that I confidently put TREE there.

I know the phrase BEES KNEES but "Living end" is completely foreign to me.

Condifently had NECK instead of NAPE and MISS instead of D-TEN (which, though less common sucks as much as the Bingo call clues).

AQUANAUTS ruined the NW corner.

Really loved, however, everything in the SE from OBELISK on down.

jubjub 10:17 AM  

I agree with everyone above! Lots of interesting words today!

My first answer was JIMIHENDRIX. I learned this from the Simpsons, in a flashback of Homer & family at Woodstock. My two sources of culture, apparently, are cartoons and the NYT xword.

@Glitch, I also was sure of AQUANAUTS instead of OCEANAUTS, and this made the northwest of the puzzle absolutely impossible.

@puzzlegirl, I also wanted RING instead of RINK, but was saved by SINKS. I was thinking something about Johnny Cash's Burning Ring of Fire. Thanks, @artlvr, never heard of the Calgary Flames before.

Does anyone understand PASTE=Belt? Oh, and Goes right=GEES? I guess "One before four" means subtract one from four and write it all old-timey? Oh yeah, why is NEST=Leaves home? Is it because a nest can be made out of leaves?

@artlvr, I was also trying to figure out which letter of RIGaMAROLE I should remove.

JannieB 10:20 AM  

@jubjub = paste can mean to hit, as can belt. Gee is a command to a mule team to turn right. I had "tree" for nest for awhile too - my only thought is as yours - you can make a nest using leaves.

Wendy Laubach 10:22 AM  

This puzzle just beat me black and blue; after almost 40 minutes I was on the point of giving up when I finally Googled Reade and the NW finally started to fill in for me. I kept chipping away at variations of carambala and who knows what else; rigmarole was very slow to arrive. I had "LIED" pretty early, so eventually I knew the word below rigmarole must end in "ACID," but "ROBE," "BEESKNEES," "EDSEL," "OCEANAUT," and "MIS" really took their time. I couldn't remember Mr. Iler and called him "ILEM" with an "EMS" cross. He's the unbearably sullen son, right?

Anyway, a fine puzzle.

Thank you, thank you, Phillysolver, for the last half-hour of pure joy watching Marx Brothers piano clips on YouTube.

jubjub 10:31 AM  

ah, gee! i'd gotten stuck on that in a previous puzzle. okay, it is forever in my brain now, let's hope. thanks, jannieb

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Any puzzle that can fit in JIMI HENDRIX and CHICO MARX is the BEES KNEES.

Slowly worked my way around until I got stalled for good in the NW. RIGMAROLE seemed to be missing an A, also had AQUANAUTS but those I sorted out. My downfall was the Sopranos star - had I_E_ and was very proud of myself for putting in ICE-T. This led to OCEIC ACID - plausible to a non acid expert like me.

That led to ETS for where to finding lifesavers, for short. Was this some weird medical abbreviation? Emergency Technical Service? ExtraTerrestrial Savers? I never got out.

Invented things could easily be LIES and the 1872 novelist REASE was another "could be" so I really had no way to get this puzzle right. Still liked it though.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

TREY is slang for the playing card with the number "3".

I started with TREE, too. I interpreted NEST as a home in or among the leaves, tho I don't doubt that one can also be made with leaves.

BEE'S KNEES is closer to 1929 than 1959. "Living end" is more 40's-early 60's. Comments? Anyone willing to admit their age?

Joon 10:59 AM  

this puzzle was quite difficult for me, even though it continued the trend of fridays written by very young constructors. "living end" indeed.

i had the same RIGaMAROLE problems as everybody else, though i wanted that word pretty early on. JIMIHENDRIX was a gimme based off of just "woodstock" and the fact that it was 11 letters. also tried TREE for NEST, had CANIEATTHAT (because i already had TRYTO in the grid), didn't like NTEST, and really didn't like the clue for TREY, so the SW was definitely the last to fall.

i know what a TREY is, but that doesn't mean it's "before" four. it's below four. [One below four] would have been a great clue for TREY. [One before four] makes no sense for TREY. m-w says that there are three definitions: a three-pipped domino, a card with three pips (e.g. the 3 of clubs), or a three-point shot in basketball. none of those are "before" anything. unlike the counting numbers, cards or dominoes are not a sequence. would you say that a king is "before" an ace? not me.

enough griping--this was a really nice puzzle overall. IAMSODEAD is excellent. in fact, the whole SE corner is excellent. FLYSOLO, ANABOLISM, CHICOMARX, ORYX... yes. all wonderful.

Ben Hassenger 11:46 AM  

The NE/E side of this puzzle somehow fell into place for me fairly easily... "Leer at" and "a peek" were my first two answers in the grid, and after staring at it for a few seconds I grabbed "Jimi Hendrix" and that side fell into place for me. The SE was slightly harder but not bad (I nabbed "I am SO dead" with only a few crosses, I got used to saying that a few years ago)... my huge problems lied all through the W ("May I try that"/"Can I try that"/May I try some"/What the #&$# is this??).

I did this in a little over 30 minutes, with some help from Google... but finishing a Friday/Saturday is definitely still an accomplish for me, so I am content. I am happier if I can nab the colloquialisms and trickier answers as opposed to the ones that are a particular name or place.

miriam b 11:49 AM  

I was delighted to see young Natan Last's name today. The puzzle exceeded my expectations. It took me a while to finish it what with a few shaky spots (RINK, which I PPG'd*; SLAT; NAPE; DTEN) all of which were gettable via crosses. All in all, a great mix of clues.

I agree that BEESKNEES is probably from the Roaring '20's and is thus so old that it predates me. That's saying something.

Thanks, Mr. L., for OLEICACID and ANABOLISM.

Had to be ORYX, as our friend NARWHAL didn't fit. Reminded me of another neat scary novel of Margaret Atwood's: Oryx and Crake.

BTW, I've never seen RIGMAROLE spelled any other way.

*PPG = Post Puzzle Google

eliselzer 12:18 PM  

Had great fun with the puzzle today, but Rex, our similar taste in films seems to be separating. While I didn't like The Big Lebowski much the first time I saw it, I recently went to an anniversary screening at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and went from thinking it was OK to absolutely adoring it. It also helps that I've joined a bowling league since first viewing.

And the Marx Brothers...well, let's just say that I have a Duck Soup poster as the wallpaper on my phone. I played Chico in a Marx-styled play I did in college and was downright giddy to have him be the first thing I put in the puzzle today.

jae 12:40 PM  

Fine puzzle. I needed a lot of inferring/guessing to finish this one and in the end had an error. I didn't know the Heir novelist and went with LIES for the down. Other than that a lot of lucky guesses/inferences = ERROL, ANABOLISM, ACKROYD, OLEIC, LETHE, LOKI. Also a lot of missteps along the way CANIHAVESOME, TREE, JIMMORRISON (I know, a wild guess), STERN for STYNE, and ACTA for ARIA.

I also am a Big Lebowski fan. I have a fondness for movies that kill off Steve Buscemi.

My take on NEST is a home among the leaves.

How does a someone as young as Mr. Last know about BEESKNEES?? I haven't heard that expression in 40 years.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

I did terribly-- no two ways about it. Mostly because of all the names that were totally unknown to me (see our previous discussion on the topic). I wont even try to catalog the different levels of cheating required to finish this (Was it Wade who provided a scale at one point?)

But I owe it to Rex and all of you to be able to separate how badly I do from how much I admire the puzzle. Beyond all of the above, I love the combination of "I'm so dead" with "c'est la vie"-- the life and death corner. So, I sucked today, life goes on...

Alex S. 1:10 PM  

Oh, and another place I shot myself in the foot.

For "Old comedian known for his unique piano-playing style" my brain immediately went to Victor Borge. Except my brain clamped down and I couldn't remember his first name. So I confidently wrote in Borge and was so proud of myself for remembering this comedian/entertainer last seen by me while trapped in my great-grandmother's living room almost 20 years ago.

I seem to swing in opposite directions with Friday/Saturday puzzles. Sometimes I am so aware of my weakness that I can't commit to any answer no matter how sure I am of it and then the next week I'll be so overconfident that I write in everything that comes to mind.

McGuff 1:24 PM  

Loved this puzzle, but it beat me up somewhat. To echo other's comments: Jimi, Chico, So Dead, Try Some, Bees.....many great answers. Somehow I always enjoy seeing C'est la vie in the puzzle.

Not mentioned so far for "Flames shoot in it"....I tried RANT, as in a flaming email, giving -ae for "Playful trickster", which seemed to point toward some classical / mythological creature. RINK was an improvement but PIXIE was a let down.

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

Got it done, didn't get any help. It took a long time, and was not very satisfying. Disagree with Rex that it was a good puzzle with few problems.
To start: TAKE THE RAP is not to be a whipping boy. It would have been better clued as being the fall guy. EHarmony is a closed community; I don't think their parameters are common knowledge, unless they are gettable by common sense, and WTF is "type"? Blood type? Introvert or extrovert?
A lot of arcane trivia, people and things that, upon discovery do not lead to an "AHA moment": Reade, Errol, Ackroyd, oceanauts, trey (I agree that the trey is not before the four but rather below it.) Rather than an AHA moment, these clues lead to a WTF moment. Some of the answers were well-clued and hard, but fair: ROBE, ORYX, SEAMY (I had SEEDY first). Some fill was too crosswordy to be there all at the same time: NTEST, ASTA, URAL, LOKI, GEES. All in all, I didn't feel accomplished when I finished, just felt glad that I was finally done.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  


Thx for the link on oceanaut.

So stipulated that it's a real word, a Rolex model, and a syn for aquanaut.

BUT: I can't tell from the clueing, since initial letter is always a cap, if the reference is to THE Sealab or a generic sealab.

Refering to the dfns in your link:

THE Sealab = Aquanaut, as reported in "all the papers" c1970 ---before there was a *media* ---and confirmed way down in your link :)

On the other hand,

sealab (generic)= oceanaut / aquanaut could be OK.

Consider my quibble reduced to a quiblet and I think I'll leave comments on words *just looking wrong* to Fearless Leader lest they be misunderstood.


JannieB 2:03 PM  

Better latent than never - my aha moment just came to me while reading Steve's post. I never did get why "robe" was something to put on before trying - but here come da judge!

PS - Also, belated thanks to Orange for the geography lesson. I think I've got it straight now.

jae 2:55 PM  

BTW my REASE/LIES error was a classic ASOK's BEAK


ER just killed off Steve Buscemi in their season finale.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

Just because a word exists doesn't mean it's fair game. I think that if you Google a word and very little of substance comes up on the first few pages, it's too obscure. Of course, I'm referring to OCEANAUT, which is most often a model of watch, not a deepsea explorer. After wracking my brain, with AQUANAUT in place, over what kind of word had a Q two letters before a D (crossing it), I finally inferred OCEANAUT by getting a few other crosses. But I still shook my head and said to myself, what kind of phony baloney word is that when the real word, everyone knows, is AQUANAUT. This was the tone of much of this puzzle for me.

PuzzleGirl 4:36 PM  

One thing I've learned since joining this community here at Rex's blog is how silly people sound when they say things like "everyone knows."

mac 5:02 PM  

What a perfect Friday puzzle, in that it was tough enough that I had to put it aside a few times, looking forward to coming back to it, but still got it without googling. At a certain point I needed the long answers to get the fill! Here are those Marxes again.... Cringed when I read about the rabbit punch, if it means what I think. When I read the names Harbach/Kern I figured it had to be some oldfashioned title, so I put in "Lest I", which got fixed by getting obelisk. Was pretty proud I got Shea, if you had asked me what the Jets played I woulde probably have gotten it wrong....
I'm already looking forward to checking the comments when I come back from dinner and theater (The Pavilion by Craig Wright).
See you later.

SusanMontauk 5:09 PM  

Asta was a dog who starred in many movies in the 30's best known for his roles in the Thin Man Movies. But I put on a robe before trying what? Clearly I am not reading this clue properly. Help!

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

Rex, give The Big Lebowski another try...gotta love a movie with comic nihilists! IMHO: Most overrated Coen brothers movie: "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Liked the puzzle though, a fast Friday for me, missed one letter, the T in slat and tetrad would not come to me.

jae 5:21 PM  

@susan -- A judge puts on ROBE before trying cases.

Anonymous 5:25 PM  

Still don't get "fire starter" MIs...actually found this one rather difficult, had to google 5 or 6 times..

Bill from NJ 5:32 PM  

I am a collector of archaic expressions. They tend to stick in my mind and the dustier they are, the better. So, for me, BEESKNEES was highly recognizeable (through crosses) as something that means the best or tops in my book and bears no relation to my age.

I think, as a reader and a watcher of old movies, my head is chock-a-block full of information of just this type. With BEESKNEES, a flash of Jimmy Cagney appears to me and it probably means I remember it from some old movie.

I just read something about commands to horses and mules so GEES was fresh in my mind. ILER was the only 4 letter Sopranos star that I knew so, along with RANEES and EDSEL, I broke open the NW which I assumed was the hardest part of the puzzle.

Boy, was I wrong.

At 21D I had CANITASTEIT crossing ERROL and my puzzle blew up. 45 frustrating minutes later, I called this puzzle finished because I couldn't come away from CANITASTEIT.

IAMSODEAD and all I can say is . . .


miriam b 5:33 PM  

@Anonymous 5:25 - Start of the word MISfire!

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

What does "Goes right...GEES" mean...ponderous, man, ponderous!

Rex Parker 5:33 PM  

I know who ASTA is. Everyone knows who ASTA is. My question was whether that was the dog's actual name (which would warrant cluing ASTA as a "star" of anything). The answer is no: the dog's actual name was SKIPPY. The character is ASTA. The dog is named SKIPPY.

Mis- is a prefix for "fire."


Anonymous 5:39 PM  

How could the big lebowski be your least favorite coens film? Blasphemy!

And I wanted sealab inhabitants to be "aquanauts" for a very long time, but the q did not look good as a cross for the soapmaking compound. great puzzle all around.

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

Never mind...saw the answer above...great blog!

Rex Parker 5:52 PM  

Thanks, anonymous 3000.

I found "The Big Lebowski" boring and self-indulgent. Just ... dreadful, and not at all funny. I just remember sitting there thinking "Why am I not laughing?" Maybe I was disappointed because "TBL" was their "Raymond Chandler" movie, and as a die-hard Chandler fan, let me just say, no.

That said, the Coen Bros have made two of my very very favorite movies ever: Fargo and Blood Simple. I have No Country for Old Men sitting on my DVD player right now ... waiting. I don't think I've disliked Anything they've done Besides "Lebowski." I even liked that B&W movie with Charlotte Johanssen that no one saw.

But I tend, on occasion, not to like stuff that Everyone loves, like, I don't know, "Seinfeld," and ... what's that movie where Nic Cage is an alcoholic? ... with Elisabeth Shue? . . . man I hated that movie like I hadn't hated a movie in a long long time. And that's saying something ... I mean, Laurie Metcalf had a bit part in it, and I *still* didn't like it. And yet Ebert thought it was the best film of the year. Aha, "Leaving Las Vegas" - had to look it up. My brain suppressed the information so I wouldn't have to relive the film in my mind too often.


dk 6:24 PM  

A late finish for me: Work the curse of the puzzle class!

What made this one hard for me was MISspelling every other word including the oft cursed RIGMAROLE and CESTLAVIE (you would think that after 4 years of French 1...)

I think I remember JIMIHENDRIX came on stage on Sunday morning. I did not remember Sha Na NA's performance but ELO was canceled due to the rain. I had been up for three days as the soap making compounds I consumed worked very well thank you.

CHICOMARX is my FAVE for today and I am always happy to see ASTA (aka skippy).

And my someone else's plate question would be: gonna eat dat?

No Country for Old Men is the BEESKNEES along with Lone Star and Ulee's Gold all different and all about not going gentle into that good night.

Good night.

fergus 6:53 PM  

As the doubt about AQUANAUTS started to creep in, I started wondering about ARGONAUTS? And since when are Creep and JERK so closely related? That NW was also problematic since I had GELS for Goes right, which I still like better than GEES, and blindly left in RIGAMROLE, leaving me sure that Fire starter? was AIM, as in Ready, AIM, Fire. "Oh well."

You can add the two ATs in a row to the double TRY, but TAKE THE RAP and EXONERATES is such a good combo in deflecting any of the criticism one could level against this puzzle.

fergus 7:12 PM  

dk -- I hope your oleic trip left left you thoroughly cleansed.

fergus 7:17 PM  

I recall Homer being called the "Living end", and maybe even the BEE'S KNEES, by a gay steelworker in one of the more colorful Simpsons episodes.

Leon 7:29 PM  

@dk I was at Woodstock too and because of lost brain cells forgot that Hendrix followed Sha Na Na (08/18/69 a.m.) It did take a long time between acts.

The NYT had an article this week about the opening of the Woodstock Musuem at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

Orange 7:45 PM  

Rex, I've got The Big Lebowski in my Netflix queue. It never seems to float any higher than 20 or so. You meant Scarlett Johansson, not Charlotte, right? With skeevy whatshisname, Billy Bob Thornton, in the lead role? Google says it's The Man Who Wasn't There? I saw it. I don't remember what it was about. No Country for Old Men was absolutely violent, but funnier than I expected—I mean, I should have expected darkly funny given Fargo, but I didn't. I liked it.

And I had the same thought as Rex about ASTA. According to IMDb, it looks like Skippy's professional name became Asta. Oh, Skippy. You lost your real identity, subsumed into a fictional dog. How could you lose sight of the real you, man?

Michael Chibnik 7:55 PM  

I had a different problem with rigmarol than others so far. I wrote in rigamarole and it didn't fit. I thought maybe that rigamarol was an alternate spelling and had that written in for quite a while. I eventually got ackroyd and ranees, and checked to see if rigmarol was an ok spelling.

I am embarrassed that I had oceana_ts and still didn't get the "u". I kept wanting to put in an "a."

All in all, a nice puzzle.

Anonymous 7:55 PM  

"asta la vista baby" Skippy

green mantis 7:58 PM  

My only miscue was "fifth" for "stand" in something you might take in court. That's good though, right? I like it. Or almost good--I guess "THE fifth" is more apt. Apt!

I, like many others apparently, almost had an Asok's Beak moment at paste/rink/sinks, because I don't know about this paste/belt business, or this mythical Flames team. I couldn't get a ring of fire with a motorcycle daredevil guy out of my head.

Charlotte Johansson, also known as Scarlett (hee), just came out with an album of Tom Waits covers. Cue the apocalypse.

Blue and Orange!

jubjub 8:45 PM  

I've heard BEESKNEES in recent pop culture. From The School of Rock:

Jack Black: You could be the ugliest sad sack on the planet, but if you're in a rocking band, you're the cat's pajamas. You're the bee's knees. -

Nerdy student who plays the keyboard: Bee's knees ?

Jack Black: Yeah, the bee's knees.

So -- cat's pajamas and bee's knees -- not just for the octogenarian crowd anymore!

Anonymous 9:18 PM  

Sometimes a few clues and answers that I don't like can ruin a puzzle for me.

Jerk and creep are not synonyms. A jerk is an asshole, while a creep is just a strange person who's uncomfortable to be around or think about.

D-ten is garbage for obvious reasons.

"Leaves home?" for nest? What the hell is that even supposed to mean? Terrible pairing.

"Jets used to be seen there" is a dumb clue for Shea. For one, it's an odd phrase to describe the football team. I realize it's trying to be "tricky," but it's just awkward. Second, you can still see jets there. It's right next to LaGuardia Airport.

Lifesavers...ERs is also stupid.

fergus 9:28 PM  

Anon 9:18

Even though we concur on your first and third observations, a little subtlety in your dismissals might make your points more convincing.

fergus 9:56 PM  

The Ballad of Reading Gaol was really the last testament of Oscar Wilde. Those who have read it (where's Rikki?) might concur, or they may prefer the Ellmann (who did a fine job on Joyce) biography. Whatever ... I'm just idling before heading out on the town of Friday night, dropping hints, as we all do, of our peculiar erudition.

mac 11:28 PM  

I spot an anonymous(e).
The only thing I don't get is the slat on the plane wing.

@Rex: apparently you need to be 29 years old this year to really appreciate "The Big Lebowski". This fact has been discovered at the different international Lebowski fests.

@Rex: if you enjoyed Peter Ackroyd's book on Shakespeare, try "Chatterton"; it's truly delightful.

dk 11:57 PM  

@leon, catch you on another day. Happy to read there was someone else at White Lake ( aka Hamlet of Bethel)

@anon-0-mouse, leafs(sic) home (according to the birds on my block) = a nest. Imagine, grasshopper, it is the journey not the destination. And, having played battleship in the back seat of a 1958 Chevy Belair on the way to our summer home in Maine.. DTen may not be garbage.. it may be a wiener.

Whoops, bloging way to late.

Good night @Chefbea1.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

I'm joining the unanswered chorus: WTF does GEES have to do with "Goes right"

(Sorry if already answered....I've been imbibing....)

Ladel 8:14 AM  

@anon 12:22AM

when directing a mule or other such working creature the protocol is to train them to go right when they hear Gee, or go left when they hear Haw. You may also use those calls when celebrating, imbibing or calling a square dance.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Thank you Ladel!

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

To solve 12 Down it helps to know that the Flames are a hockey team; they shoot in an ice rink.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

I'm with foodie on this one. Too many unknown names-for me the fun is in working out the words, not Googling for an (to me) arcane name. That said, I just couldn't get with this puzzle-had Harpo instead of Chico-they're all too zany for me. Thought of sea monkies for sealab and couldn't go beyond that. Assume the Big Lebowski was a big hit with those a lot younger than I. Ah well, tomorrow is another day!

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Satisfying puzzle! Alas, like jae, I too erred with LIES for "invented things". REASE looked a bit odd, but hardly seems out of the question for an obscure 19th century author's name.

Anonymous 3:41 PM  


The Dude Abides.

- - Robert

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

6wl--at one point I had "led zeppelin" instead of hendrix, which gave me "lout" for "creep" and "toes" for "they're tapped." It all seemed so neat, and then--Oryx had to come in and make it obvious it had to be Jimi.
Rex, I know you're not a science jock, but "anabolism" is akin to "anabolic steroid," y'see. It's about GROWING. Just so you can put it in context. Ciao. DocRuth in Rochester

Anonymous 3:58 PM  

My "deuce" cents:

As my lead-in hints, TREY is poorly-clued; OCEANAUTS seems made up; TAKETHERAP, as stated above, does not mean what the clue wants it to (after TRYing RIDEAHORSE, I had TAKETHEROD, which makes infinitely more sense & kept me from completing the SW).

FWIW, JIMIHENDRIX faked me out temporarily because in the movie, he didn't follow Sha-Na-Na.

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