MONDAY, Jun. 16, 2008 - Ronald J. and Nancy J. Byron (CARRY, SLANGILY)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: 1960s weather songs

This is a simple, pleasant puzzle, but the theme, while entertaining (fine songs all), seems pretty arbitrary. Is there a reason weather was important in the 60s? Why not a puzzle built around horse songs of the 70s or dog songs of the Reagan era? WIND, SUN, and RAIN are a fine set (all weather phenomena), but again, they are arbitrary as a set. Where's SNOW? or SLEET? FOG? If there is coherence to the theme that I'm missing, I'd be happy to hear about it. I'm a bit surprised that this theme was deemed acceptable by NYT standards. But that said, the grid is strong, solid, professional, mostly free of groaners. A good overall construction job.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: 1960s weather song by Peter, Paul and Mary ("Blowin' in the Wind")
  • 36A: 1960s weather song by the Beatles ("Here Comes the Sun") - since nearly all Beatles songs are "1960s" songs, the clue felt strange ... I guess I'm not seeing why you needed "1960s" at all in the theme clues.
  • 51A: 1960s weather song by the Cascades ("Rhythm of the Rain") - wow, this is a serious, precipitous drop in fame from the other theme clues. The Cascades? I know this song well (having listened to Oldies stations in high school), but I figured the song's title was like the song's actual lyric: "Listen to the rhythm of the FALLING rain..."
I finished the puzzle in an average Monday time - would have been significantly faster, I think, had I not completely tripped over 39D: Self-aggrandizing acts (ego trips). I had the EGO part and couldn't think of a thing, so wrote in (stupidly) EGOTISMS, which had the unfortunate effect of giving me "M" in the first position of 62A: Fur trader's fur ... and so of course I wrote in MINK. Only when I looked at 56D: Washington nine (Nats) did I realize that MINK was wrong (answer is PELT), causing me to backtrack and fix my mistakes from there.

There were a handful of other answers that I either didn't know or tripped on. Had no chance at 49A: "_____ Gavotte," "My Fair Lady" tune ("Ascot") as I have never seen the movie and can hardly imagine what such a ridiculous title could refer to. I had no idea that there was any such thing as a TOE pad (45D: Place for a Dr. Scholl's pad), I forgot the "Ben-Hur" author's name was LEW (32D: "Ben-Hur" author Wallace), and of course I wrote in AVERS for AVOWS, as I always do (41A: Openly declares). Oh, and WTF is 61A: New Orleans's Vieux _____ (Carre)? The whole Vieux / Gavotte vortex just pulled me under the water (temporarily). My favorite clue of the day was 28A: Wrigglers, to a fisherman (bait), because with that clue and a four-letter answer, any seasoned solver is going to enter EELS without missing a beat. THUD(S)! (13D: Falling sounds)

The Rest:

  • 16A: Poison ivy symptom (itch) - confidently wrote in RASH
  • 18A: Persistently follow, as a celebrity (stalk) - [Criminally follow] might have been a bit more apt. APTER!
  • 25A: Secret matters (arcana) - best word in the puzzle
  • 40A: Bull or cow in the forest (elk) - never saw this clue while solving, but if I had, I would have blinked at it for a few seconds before coming up with any kind of acceptable answer.
  • 44A: Animals with brown summer fur (stoats) - it's a disturbingly fur-happy puzzle. While walking in the woods, I often goad my dog into hunting down all the STOATS and voles and weasels that are lurking in the bushes (probably not, but I just like the way those animals' names sound, especially in my "talking to the dog" voice - about an octave higher than my natural voice and at least vaguely cartoonish).
  • 57A: Rani raiment (sari) - How about [Rueful raiment?].
  • 22D: Archie's "dingbat" (Edith) - love her. Weird use of the possessive in this clue, though. Not sure why it's striking my ears as odd, but it is.
  • 26D: Predigital film part (reel) - Is "predigital film" a retronym?
  • 37D: Fish that's no longer in the sea (catch) - very nice clue. Also goes nicely with BAIT.
  • 44D: Carry, slangily (schlep) - the "C" spelling today. I thought SCHLEP was simply a synonym of "tote" or "carry" and not necessarily slang.
  • 46D: Criminal burning (arson) - thankfully, there was no hyphen in the clue. This answer goes well with PYRES (48D: Combustible funeral structures)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


janie 9:14 AM  

so -- you had to "take back your 'mink'," eh? ;-)

and yes, more lyrics:

Take back your mink --
Those old worn out pelts
And go shorten the sleeves
For somebody else!

one of loesser's greater "character" rhymes.

>Where's SNOW? or SLEET? FOG?

not easily found, as they are here, at the end of each song title -- which is what gives these three song titles their coherence, in addition to all being from the same era. that's how it hit me, anyway.

loved the texas clue/fill cluster best.

pleasant and pleasing all around.



Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Didn't like the "Peter Paul and Mary" part of the clue -- "Blowin in the wind" is a BOB DYLAN song!

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

Hi Rex,

Having a grumpie morning?

Given the infinite universe of *themes", and the limited number of related answers that can fit a grid, aren't all rather arbitrary?

Three related clues/answers might be considered a theme by many, but if it makes you feel better, how about considering this one themeless but having three nicely related answer?

Have a nice day,


ArtLvr 9:26 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, and must have solved it in a record time for me. I probably approached it in an opposite order from Rex? No hitches!

The tune in my head is the ASCOT Gavotte from My Fair Lady -- first musical I ever saw on Broadway, and I love the movie too ...

Like Rex, my favorite word is ARCANA (from the Latin neuter plural for "hidden" and derived from "arca" for a chest in which you stow stuff). I also like the ANKH and OMEN, SARI and PYRES, which conjure up a Hindu widow's suttee.

Sorry, I didn't mean to be morbid. The sound of RHYTHM OF THE RAIN is great, even if I don't know the song... It's lightly raining here now!


Anonymous 9:32 AM  


Thanks so much for your brillint "solvings", and for always doing it so timely. You've saved me many times on a Thu or Fri train ride in.

BTW, how do you know you rank 55th among solvers? Contest score or just kidding?

Thx again!

Dave G.

lacy 9:33 AM  

I have never seen the movie and can hardly imagine what such a ridiculous title could refer to.>

I hope you'll run, not walk, and rent "My Fair Lady." IMO, the "Ascot Gavotte" is hands-down the best and funniest part of the movie.

Weirdly, I immediately got The Cascades' "Rhythm of the Rain." I usually have a tough time with the more obscure oldies.

chefbea 9:53 AM  

Dave g -Rex and a lot of the bloggers here participate in the crossword puzzle contest, now held in Brooklyn. Rex came in 55th this year - a big improvement over last year. I might go to next years event so I can meet you all.

Very easy puzzle today. Think I might get some wigglers and catch something for lunch

Unknown 9:53 AM  

My take...Nancy and Byron are environmentalist and the theme is renewable energy. We are still trying to find ways to be Green and while you know about Solar Panels and Wind Farms, you may not be aware of Rain power. Here is an overview I'll call Falling Rain

There are a few other answers in the puzzle that remind us of our ecology. I like that the other song from My Fair Lady that could have been here had it been a weather theme, 'The Rain in Spain.' The effect of Katrina on New Orleans' View CARRE also comes to mind.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Four minutes to solve this one, four more to find the one mistake. I had NETS for Washington nine. Perfectly understandable I couldn't get that as the correct answer, of course, is EXPOS.

Unknown 10:14 AM  

oops, Ronald and Nancy Byron (he seems to be the research guy)

jubjub 10:15 AM  

What is the deal with BLOWININTHEWIND not being clued as a Dylan song? It must have been a conscious decision. Was it to make the puzzle a little harder? Or was it to make all Dylan fans a little angry (success!).

I put in ISLe instead of ISLA and Washington nine=NeTS did not immediately spring out as wrong. Oops.

PS When I put in BAIT, I was like "Thank god it's not eels" in my mind.

alanrichard 10:22 AM  

I knew all the songs and the words to them, which dates me, but makes this into a fast puzzle. When I saw clear jelly used as a garnish I thought of all the useless information you learn. There was a Game Boy game called "Boomer In Aspic World", and I looked up the meaning, way back when people used dictinaries. Now that info came in handy in solving the puzzle. I always think of all the years of education paying off mostly in the ability to solve crossword puzzles. Ankh crossing ocean as a symbol of life, Edith and Nitwit parallel, arson & pyres, etc. - I'm beginning to appreciate the subtle clues even on these very easy days. Your're a good influence!!!

Pythia 10:33 AM  

A pleasant puzzle, agreed. Thought the sixties song thing made this tight enough. It's Monday, so just be thankful the ick factor in the fill is low.

Peter Yarrow of P,P and M is doing some interesting work these days --

Clue complaints:

THUDS would be more landing sounds than falling sounds, wouldn't they? Fall sounds, maybe.

A CORK is the bottle stopper, not really a bottle part itself. If part of the bottle were to go "pop," there might be THUDS and ILLS to follow.

Doug 10:48 AM  

Nice work and other than OVA and ION, very little of the common Monday fill.

ASPIC as a garnish? Thankfully that's either an old or regional habit! BOSNIA has a new neighbour in Kosovo, how about that? Reminds me of the good old Yeltsin days when countries were popping up Starbucks and Subway.

dk 10:49 AM  

Noel (Paul) Stookey of Peter, Paul and mary founded a radio station in Blue Hill Maine (WERU or and it is one of the finest community stations in the world. Listen on line.

Did this one (in ink) while awaiting a soy latte (8oz 2 shots). The question on the wall was What happened in Bethel NY in 1969 (Woodstock). Thusly, I was P squared (poser and pompus) this morning.

Favorite word: ARCANA.

mac 10:55 AM  

Nice tight puzzle, real Monday level. As Rex said, never heard of a toe pad, and didn't remember the Ascot Gavotte, have to watch that again.
I agree, Mr. Zimmermann should get the credit for "Blowin...." (got into a tight spot when I filled in blowing).
Restaurants are closed today in Toscana, it seems. I guess I'll be able to rustle up some food, but I better not tell you what....

Spencer 11:02 AM  

EGOTISMS fell right in there for me, too. But then I needed the I to be an R and then EGOTRIPS was obvious.

I'm pretty sure that the first version of "Blowin in the wind" with which I was familiar was the PP&M version. I think my parents (I was pre-teen or tween at the time) were more PP&M type people than Dylan type people.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

is STOATS well known? never heard it.

for whom is such a puzzle easy?

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

@ anonymous 11:04 AM

This was a pretty easy Monday puzzle for those who do puzzles every day. All of those words, while not likely to be heard in everyday conversation, are very common "crossword-ese"

I really liked this puzzle and felt that the theme was just fine for a Monday.

foodie 11:34 AM  

For me, "Vieux CARRE" was the best thing about this puzzle. It made me happy to see a reminder of the great city of New Orleans. It's another name for the French Quarter, or "the Quawter" as the locals seem to call it. While not very commonly used outside NO, the name is quite visible when driving around that city, including exit signs from the freeways pointing to the "Vieux Carre" (so may be this should be a Tuesday level clue?)

The Vieux Carre was not hurt by Katrina and is still the most distinctive part of any US city, not to mention the FANTASTIC food! When we visited last, cabbies and waiters thanked us for coming to New Orleans. This great city deserves much better than it got...

Parshutr 11:38 AM  

An xlnt Monday offering, IMHO. Only slightly put off by the cluing "Predigital Film Part" -- there just ain't no digital film.

Jerry 11:43 AM  


I thought it was:

Take back your mink
Take back your pearls
What makes you think
That I was one of those girls

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Aspic is NOT colorless and not always used as a garnish. We used to have tomato aspic at Xmas and it was red. Faulty clue.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

This was a Monday level puzzle, EXCEPT for the south, which had two proper nouns plus a French word crossed with STERE, a word unknown even in countries that use the metric system. Sure, effortless for all of the veterans, but solving a Monday shouldn't require knowledge of words found only in puzzles.

"The new Honda Pilot, now with six stere of cargo space..."

eliselzer 12:22 PM  

Count me among the Dylan fans who stumbled a bit on the PP&M clue. I think I actually grumbled out loud, much to my coworkers' alarm.

Having done My Fair Lady in summer stock during college, Ascot Gavotte was a gimme. One of my favorite parts of the show (it refers to the race track, by the way, Rex).

ArtLvr 12:30 PM  

Hobbyist is right about ASPIC! Recipes oftten say "clear" but that doen't mean colorless, just the gelatin free of inclusions. My mother liked to make chilled summer meals like chopped vegetables in tomato aspic or shreds of cooked chicken in plain aspic, formed in fluted molds and turned out on lettuce. Not much of a kid thing actually, but she often had us try various "grown-up" things anyway.

Am happy to report that the strawberries and rhubarb from my garden are great, despite weird weather, and I am much enamored of my new "Tumbling Tom" cherry tomatoes -- prolific, delicious, and decorative too. Good luck in your quest, Mac!


Joon 12:32 PM  

two amusing tidbits from my solving experience:

1. i filled in BASS and ANT at 28D and 29D, and then looked at the clue for 28A: [Wrigglers, to a fisherman], for BA__. i could only think... "um ... BASS?"

2. 56D, [Washington nine]. i'm a huge baseball fan and drew a blank here. "how am i going to fit SUPREMECOURTJUSTICES into four boxes?"

luckily these things both made themselves quite clear in due time. the only other hiccup was filling in the third theme answer from the middle out, and thinking, "what the hell is going on with this HMOFTH section?"

STOATS and ARIEL are just common english words, i think. STERE less so, and CARRE was totally unfamiliar to me but i'm glad to know it now.

hobbyist, the ASCOT clue does not claim that it is colorless, merely "clear." which it is. and it certainly doesn't have to always be used as a garnish for the clue to be right.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

I should leave this for chefb, but Aspic is clear...adding tomatoes makes it red...adding beef stock makes it brown adding parsley makes it green etc. It is defined as a garnish.


Joon 12:35 PM  

whoops, i just claimed that ARIEL was a common english word, which it obviously isn't. but ARIEL is a major character from one of the bard's most frequently performed plays, so i can't see that as being too tough even for a monday.

Joseph Brick 12:49 PM  

Sure, Blowin in the Wind was written by Dylan, but PP&M's version was the first one all over the radio.

I mentally group this song with "If I Had a Hammer" - super dumb omce removed from the context of the 60s. "How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?" What, seven?

Orange 12:50 PM  

Yeah, STOATS and STERE are words that crossword newbies might well not know. For anyone who's been doing crosswords for years and years, though, those two are huge gimmes.

Vieux CarrĂ© is French for "Old Square" and it's another name for the French Quarter. Everybody should vacation at least once in New Orleans. If you go, try the bread pudding soufflĂ© at Commander's Palace—it's transcendent. But off-topic—the restaurant's not in the French Quarter. But it remains one of the best desserts I have ever tasted.

ArtLvr 12:59 PM  

p.s. the brown STOAT's winter coat is white -- and is then known as ermine! And "stele" or "stere" will turn up often, because of the usable letters.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  


I did the exact same thing with 56D (NATS)- my brain went straight to the Supreme Court rather than baseball, and I live in DC and am going to a NATS game later this week! Uggh!

Not helping matters was the fact that I misread the clue for 39D (EGO TRIPS) and put EGOTISTS at first. When I couldn't figure out what TSL- or TEL- were, I realized it might possibly be wrong. :-)

Overall not a bad Monday. I too grumbled at BLOWIN IN THE WIND not being clued as a Dylan song, especially given the history of the PP&M version (which was released mere months after the Dylan version and was more successful commercially- this has lead to the popular belief among Dylan fans that PP&M ripped him off).

Ronathan :-)

dk 1:16 PM  

@Foodie, my chef son lives, attends Tulane and works (ccoks) in NOLA. Visit the Museum of the American Cocktail next time you are in town.

@Orange, Commander's Place yum, Arnauds (French Bar) yum yum for the French 75. Acme Oyster Bar yum x 3

I propose a field trip we could do the puzzles (in ink) at Cafe Du Monde. We could walk to the streets named after the muses.

No STOATS but Nutrias abound.

Rex, Vieux Carre is what my lovely wife calls me in addition to poser

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Wow, I blazed through this! On a good day, I might be able to skip reading a few clues, but today I never saw 14 of them! And I broke 5:00 for the first time ever! (4:57) Yay, me!!! :)

green mantis 2:51 PM  

Isn't the problem with "Washington nine" that the team is The Nationals, and there was no indication of an abbreviation in the clue? I'm from D.C., but I've been away a long time, so maybe I'm out of date on the acceptable term--do people just say Nats? Like Knicks instead of Knickerbockers or whatever?

If so, may I just say: that's a pretty limp nickname. Although there's not much to work with there, as whoever thought that The Nationals was a good name to start with, as opposed to, say, The Fanged Vipers or The Rabid Stoats, was really phoning it in that day.

fergus 2:57 PM  

Another plug for two-syllable N'awlins. A great deal of fun, even if you don't care that much for jazz.

ARCANA are obscure, odd or irrelevant, and now I learn they're Secret, too. Comes from Latin Arcanum, "a supposed great secret of nature that alchemists sought to discover." RHD, def. 2

BOSNIA SHOWCASED again in quick succession!

fergus 3:00 PM  

I think the old Senators (from Walter Johnson to Frank Howard) were sometimes called the NATS, too, lending that dull appellation some historical heft.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

I have done the puzzle every single day for past three years. Monday I always do in under 10 minutes and I can get about 2/3 of the way on Saturday, sometimes finishing -- to give you an idea of my skill level.

I have never seen STERE or STOATS in a puzzle and have never heard these words used before in my life.

This wasn't a regular Monday puzzle -- and it's not just "newbies" as some of you smuggly put it, who think so.

green mantis 3:58 PM  

I'm sure someone else will apprise you, anonymous, of the exact number of times those words have appeared in the puzzle in the last three three...two...wait for it...

I mean, I've only been doing The Puzzle for about a year, and I know I've seen 'em. I don't think anybody's being smug when they say simply that these words rear their oddly-shaped little heads from time to time and that that fact makes today's grid quite gettable; it's just the truth. Ruth.

chefbea 4:12 PM  

I'll comment on aspic after i watch Tiger in sudden death

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

According to JimH:
STEER 32x's
STOAT 22x's

chefbea 4:45 PM  

Wow Tiger did it again!!!

Aspic is a clear savory jelly used as a garnish - like with pate (pat-ay)

Artlvr - i also grew up with tomato aspic made in a mold with bits of celery and green pepper.

Rex - sorry for the food stuff

mac 5:00 PM  

@Orange, I'm downright hungry after your last comment!

foodie 5:08 PM  

Cool re New Orleans and your son! Is he the one making Tapas?

Maybe we should talk Will Shortz into holding the tournament in New Orleans one of these years... Since I've never been to the tournament, we need someone with right credentials to start a movement. Orange?

Rex, once you eat at Cafe du Monde, you will discover what trumps IHOP...

Rex Parker 5:18 PM  

If you do the NYT with any regularity at all, you cannot claim not to have seen STERE. It was in a puzzle in late May, and has 60+ attestations in the database. It is true, however, that STERE rarely appears on a Monday.

I don't know STOATS from xwords. I just ... know them. They aren't That weird. I think TAPIR and COATI and OKAPI are weirder.


PS hurray for Tiger and all, but the real excitement right now is the European Cup soccer stuff. I don't even follow "football," but I find myself mesmerized every time I turn it on. Yesterday, I found myself improbably absorbed by a match between Turkey and Czech Republic. Things went from ordinary to legendary very very quickly. Amazing. Just ... jaw-dropping.

jubjub 5:40 PM  

PS as well: The Euro Cup has been great this year -- yay ESPN for actually broadcasting it! In '04, the bars in my area were charging $20 covers to come watch it. Also, I love the crazy Scottish and Irish announcers. One of 'em keeps telling anecdotes about "going red" and punching various guys in the face.

Joon 6:20 PM  

amen, rex. that turkey-czech republic match was unbelievable. i've literally never seen a more exciting sporting event.

agreed on STOATS, too. i can't figure out why i would know this word if other people don't, so i can only assume that everybody else does. which is obviously not the case. but it's weird to me, like if somebody were to complain about MARMOT or FERRET.

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

STOATS = Wind in the Willows. My children and I know stoats that way, at least.

I think I've been to Cafe du Monde with Rex, though the memory is quite hazy -- Mardi Club!

Doris 6:44 PM  

Just noticed that "My Fair Lady" is on Turner Classic Movies this evening. The Cecil Beaton costumes, particularly in "The Ascot Gavotte" alone, are worth seeing. If you've never seen it, set your DVR or VCR. Or even sit down and watch it. Delightful spoof of proper Edwardian manners.

Leon 7:05 PM  

To the Dylan vs. PP & M debate:

You don't need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows
"Subterranean Homesick Blues"

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

@puzzlemensch: both verses are from "Take back your mink."

Anonymous 7:52 PM  


Take back the gown
The shoes and the hat
I may be down
But I'm not flat as all that

janie 8:05 PM  

puzzlemensch --

I thought it was:

Take back your mink
Take back your pearls
What makes you think
That I was one of those girls

and it is, but there's a whole song that that's part of:

take back...

for reasons i'll never understand, all the lyric sites say "tell 'em to alter and rise it" instead of "hollanderize it". take my word on it -- the original lyric is "hollanderize"!

cheers --


Anonymous 12:31 AM  

Going seriously off-topic in a couple of ways, but I don't care because at this point no one's reading anyway. My sister has a 10 year old cake made by Bob Dylan's mom in her freezer. I can vouch for the fact that it was given to her by a friend of Bob's mom. Other than that, if you'd like a rather freezer-burned cake of doubtful provenance, let me know.
And off-topic, two. We have a fabulous place called the Global Midtown Market here in Minneapolis. Many vendors of all over the globe have fabulous stands there and it is one of the best places in the US to watch soccer. Everyone congregates to cheer on their team and it doesn't matter who wins or loses, we just cheer and eat wonderful food.

fergus 1:17 AM  

West coast listener hears this late.

It's only just gotten dark. On a Monday, with no school for a while. Temptation to get up to no good ...

Yet watching sport on TV
has left me sort of docile

Musing without a muse 11:36 AM  

Years ago on San Diego radio stations were ads promoting "San Diego's own Cascades." I couldn't remember the venue they played so I sent an email to the band and they kindly responded. Their venue was the Red Coat Inn a club that is long gone.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

36 Across I haven't the Beatles version. I have heard Nina Simones'

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