'HOOD INHABITANT / JASON'S JILTEE (SUNDAY, Jul. 13, 2008 - Matt Ginsberg)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Parting Thoughts" - long quotation representing .... somebody's ... "last request" (before dying)

I normally don't like quotation puzzles - just a bunch of filling in the blanks, no playfulness or trickery, no theme, blah - but this one is pretty damned good. I love how completely reckless the puzzle is with any notion of Sunday-morning decorum. I like my humor dark, like my chocolate, and this puzzle's central quotation delivers:

26A: Last request, part 1 etc.:

"To die quietly in my sleep / like my grandfather / not / screaming in terror / like the people in his car"

In addition to blood on the pavement, we've got, let's see, Hitler and his BIG LIE (9D: Propaganda technique introduced by Hitler in "Mein Kampf"), slavery (81D: Slaves => THRALLS), and over in the SW corner, we have a big fat joint (89D: Marijuana cigarette, slangily). Is SPLIFF a word that people who are over 40 / never listen to rap music know??? I laughed out loud when I got it. It makes the whole puzzle better, man. Like ... REFERS (87A: Alludes (to)) looks like REEFERS. Good for Matt Ginsberg for taking the puzzle out of the safety zone. He's made a puzzle for highbrows and HOMEGIRLs alike (5D: 'Hood inhabitant). In fact, if you are a highbrow HOMEGIRL, you should have torched this puzzle.

Q: "Who does da HOMEGIRL like to hang out with?"
A: "DAHOMEY" (53D: Benin, until 1975)

Here's some stuff I didn't like (I don't always have reasons):

  • 93D: Ecological groupings (biotas)
  • 82D: Spinachlike plant (orach) - I like that this is one letter away from constructor Tony ORBACH's last name. Other than that, I don't like it at all. I've been in Many kinds of grocery stores and never seen it. Don't like that that "A" crosses the first "A" in EMERIL LAGASSE (61A: With 95-Across, chef whose recipes are used on the International Space Station). That "A" could have been an "E" as far as I was concerned. Luckily, the "spinACH" in the clue made me guess right.
  • 25A: Poet John who wrote "Lives of X," an autobiography in verse (Ciardi) - Whoa! Who? I mean, I know him - I think he's one of the many Dante translators out there. But ... yikes, I had no idea he was famous enough to be in the grid.
  • 47D: Keeper of a flame? (gas oven) - I should love this (a day after PILOT LIGHT), but something about GAS OVEN feels weirdly arbitrary to me. OK, I don't hate it. It's fine. Maybe if the clue had referred to The Bangles' "Eternal Flame," I'd have liked it better.
  • 23A: Take heat from? (unarm) - I will never accept that this word is real. It's DISARM or nothing.

Some stuff I screwed up:

  • 1D: Very dry (brut) - I had ARID
  • 28D: One of two title roles (in the same film) for Spencer Tracy (Mr. Hyde) - I had DR. HYDE - pure idiocy on my part
  • 42D: Social worker (ant) - BEE
  • 108A: European carrier (Iberia) - ITALIA (!?)

Didn't know:

  • 9A: Hale-_____ (comet seen in 1997) (Bopp) - completely forgot about this BOPP. Here are some Bops I cannot forget:

The rest:

  • 19A: Page facing a verso (recto) - studying medieval mss. occasionally pays off
  • 20A: Arthur Miller play about the Salem witch trials, with "The" ("Crucible") - not sure why, but those trials hold zero interest for me. I think Miller's play was at least in part a response to McCarthyism / HUAC.
  • 31A: Animal more closely related to the mongoose than the dog (hyena) - I have many good stories about daughter and Hy-henas, but they'll have to wait for another time.
  • 36A: Cabinet inits. since 1979 (HHS) - Health and Human Services, I assume
  • 41A: Endorsers, typically (payees) - this one was slippery, for some reason
  • 52A: Barney's buddy, in cartoondom (Fred) - They used to pitch Winstons.
  • 109A: Part of many an autobiography's author credit (as told to) - excellent phrase
  • 110A: Morticia, to Fester, on "The Addams Family" (niece) - Hence "UNCLE Fester"
  • 113A: Clothing retailer Bauer (Eddie) - if you have been in a mall or, I don't know, get mail, you should have known this instantly.
  • 114A: Erica Jong's phobia, ostensibly (flying) - funny, but too easy
  • 7D: Crowd in Calais? (trois) - seen it before, still think it's clever
  • 11D: What dead men don't wear, per a 1982 film title (plaid) - very memorable Steve Martin movie
  • 14D: W.W. I's so-called "U-Boat Alley" (Irish Sea) - so proud of myself for guessing correctly here, with almost no crosses. History is not always my strongest suit, despite the fact that I'm married to an historian.
  • 37D: Noted bunny lover (Hefner) - fabulous
  • 40D: Jason's jiltee (Medea) - Hef + Jason = Playas; also, more "jiltee," please
  • 46D: Pirate whose treasure is recovered in Poe's "The Gold Bug" (Kidd)
  • 95D: Poe poem that ends "From grief and groan to a golden throne beside the King of Heaven" ("Lenore") - wow, a pair of Poes, after yesterday's EAP monogram. Again, more evidence of this puzzle's dark side - HARD TIMES (49D: Dickens's shortest novel) next to EVIL DOERS (50D: Bad guys) ... you see what I mean?: darkness. It's good!
  • 74D: ESPN sportscaster Dick (Vitale) - seems like a nice enough guy, but I can't Stand his voice and over-the-top enthusiasm. It's freakish. Also, in general, I find guys who make careers out of obsessing about the bodies of teenage boys ... a little unsettling. The phenomenon is worse in football than in (Vitale's) basketball, somehow.
  • 107D: Roger who won the Best Actor Tony for "Nicholas Nickleby" (Rees) - dude, I have NO idea who you are.

I'm out of here for many days - look for able-minded and able-bodied surrogates to keep this thing rolling in my absence. I'll be in and out intermittently for the next three weeks. Puzzlegirl, SethG, and Wade will keep things going in the interim. Either that, or they will secretly outsource the blog to India. We'll see.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Puppies (mine is the one not wearing green)

PPS If any of you know anything about sabotaging, destroying, or otherwise @#$#ing with plagiaristic google-whore sites like this one:


please let me know. If you are practicing your hacking skills, why not start with this asshole? Doesn't even give me a link or a credit, the way other rip-off artists usually have the courtesy to do.


Anonymous 9:30 AM  

anyone else notice that gasoven 47d comes right below 9d biglie (a Hitler reference)? Coincidence? Normally I would say so, but this was such a dark puzzle that I don't know. Not sure if I'm offended or impressed.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

I enjoyed this one, completed in my usual Sunday time.

Did have a natick moment with the end of 25A Ciard_ (insert a vowel, any vowel).

As to the quote itself, I remember it as a line delivered by a relatively popular standup comedian (at least enough to appear on tv), but can't recall the name. anyone know?

@Rex, Have a safe & fun trip!


Anonymous 9:32 AM  

I Had no idea who Roger Rees is either, so I happily turned him into Roger "Bees" because that made it grampa's "cab".

I like cab better than car because it makes the screaming in terror people more random victims. Plus, it's closer to the way I'd originally heard the quote, which had the innocents dying aboard grandfather's bus!

(Knowing a variation of the quotation made this a way easy puzzle for me and led to my ultimate downfall in the se as described above.)

JannieB 9:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 9:41 AM  

The quote has an autobiographical ring to it--who else would have these associations? I wonder if MG's grandfather was indeed a reckless driver who died peacefully in his sleep. BTW for someone like me, who never heard of spliffs and for whom the big 70 starts to appear over the horizon and who thinks about death more often than he likes, an early Sunday reminder of same is somewhat lacking in excitement.

On the positive side: I used to have ample opportunities to bitch about the cluing of German words, but these occasions become rarer and rarer. Even better, nie was clued spendidly the other day, and the clue for Herr today isn't bad, either.

@anonymous at 9:30: I, too, noticed and was startled by the coincidence.

@Rex: Have a great vacation--I was already wondering if you ever planned to took a break.

Ulrich 9:43 AM  

Addendum: I was composing my comment in parallel with others and see now that the quote has been around for a while--so forget what I said about "autobiographical".

bluecheese 9:45 AM  

google attributes the quote to comedian Wil Shriner (twin brother of Kin, who played Scotty Baldwin on General Hospital, heartthrob of my misspent youth)

@anon 9:30
good catch on the gas oven/big lie connection.

safe journey
we'll miss you

JannieB 9:47 AM  

was not an English major, but remember John Ciardi from Freshman English. And I just learned he taught at my Alma Mater (go Gators!)

As for Roger Rees, fans of The West Wing will remember him as the British ambassador who always called Leo "Gerald". And he also had a recurring role on Cheers as the new corporate owner of Sam's bar who Kirstie Alley had a thing for. Lately he was on Grey's Anatomy as a former fling/professor of Sandra Oh's character. (I'm sensing that I watch way too much tv!)

As for the puzzle, I remember that quote from a Maxine greeting card, I think. But no doubt it was lifted from another source.

I confess to two mistakes - trying to spell Emeril's name LeGasse, and wanting that veggie to be orech - my bad. But no googling so a fairly medium ride for me.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Very clever....I tried often to solve the quote but it delivered a good AHA moment filling in the last few blanks (ending with the R in this week's Mystery Guest Roger Rees)

Unknown 9:51 AM  

Rex and Sandy, travel well. I had hoped KIWIS would have been in the puzzle today, but the humor was 'all black(s)"

Loved the puzzle and our constructor. Despite some vagueness, the quip was known to me as I posted with Jim last night is attributed to the British stand up comic, Bob Monkhouse. I have since checked it out and Wikipedia cites it as such.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

PS. When I had REEARNED instead of REGAINED, I was left wondering if the last word could be NASCAR

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Fester is not Morticia's uncle, he is the uncle of Pugsley and Wednesday; he is Gomez's brother. So the clue is wrong and it totally screwed up that entire corner for me, because the answer could not possibly be niece. GRRRR.... Otherwise a very nice puzzle.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

I had ARID and DOIGO in the northwest, and that screwed up the whole thing for me. Ah well.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

I only got CIARDI and DAHOMEY from crosses, but felt pretty sure they must be right. Never heard of DEMENSE. Had to blink twice to parse HIMOM even after cheating here. Had to leave for dinner last night before sorting out the error (which was not coming to me despite knowing this was the trouble spot). Otherwise, I made it through the whole thing fairly steadily and had a good time with it. I, too, was wondering how many NYT solvers would have heard of a SPLIFF, but I think it is a fine word. To bad about that awful time I posted, but that's how it goes sometimes.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

@ anon 10:03

Here's a quote from Wiki:

"In the original television series, Fester was Morticia's uncle, and therefore technically not an Addams, although at times he claims the family name as his own. In all other animated and filmed content, Fester became Gomez's older brother."

I wouldn't use this source to back up a serious thesis, but I suspect it's pretty reliable in this instance.

Shamik 10:24 AM  

Had a few missteps...especially in the NE. RECTO, RENO and ACAD fell easily, but had to abandon and return.

I have to come hear to get all the "connections" in the puzzle. So, I thank you all for the compilation.

Don't care for quote puzzles for reasons others have cited. Also, have seen this one in way too many e-mails. Ha. Ha. Ha. A stale joke is a stale joke is a stale joke.

Over 40. Don't listen to rap. Didn't know spliff (but it fit in the crosses)...but I like the word!

Final sticking point was PAYEES and MRHYDE. Grrrr. But no googles.

Now that I'm tracking my time in solving...I'm dismayed! I thought it took longer to solve them. Like my solving pleasure drawn out. Need to find a new way to slow it down.

Shamik 10:26 AM  

P.S. Have a great vacation, Rex!

Barry G. 10:29 AM  

Morning, folks!

For the most part, I made slow but steady progress through this puzzle. There were lots of "tricky" clues, but I felt like I had seen them all before and none of them posed any problems. Also, the theme quote is an old, old joke I've heard before, so that helped immensely as well.

The one place I struggled with was the intersection of 101A and 82D. I was all set to come here and rant about the Natick Principle, but then I finally realized that LE CAR was probably the correct answer (despite the fact that I'd never heard of it). Of course, then I misspelled Emeril's last name as LEGASSE instead of LAGASSE, but I didn't catch that until I submitted to puzzle. Oops.

With regard to 44A, is ELECTIONEER actually a word? I got it from the crosses, but it just seems wrong to me for some reason.

Ah well. Not the most exciting puzzle, for the reasons I mentioned above, but still very solid.

Have a great trip, Rex!

Orange 10:30 AM  

I think reggae fans over the age of 40 might also know SPLIFF.

Roger REES is a British actor who starred in "Nicholas Nickleby" on Broadway in the early '80s, and followed that up by playing Robin Colcord, Kirstie Alley's love interest, on Cheers.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

"Don't like that that "A" crosses the first "A" in EMERIL LAGASSE... That "A" could have been an "E" as far as I was concerned."
It took me 10 to find that, ouch.

Nevertheless, enjoyed this edgy puzzle immensely. Lots of really clever cluing and fun fill. SPLIFF! Whoohoo! Haven't heard that word in at least a decade. And "Desire, for one" for STREETCAR - awesome clue! Nice work, Mr. Ginsberg.

Rex, thanks for "She Bop", now listening to Cyndi Lauper's "She So Unusual" for the first time since I heard someone say "SPLIFF".
Have a great trip!

foodie 10:41 AM  

I had never heard this quote, did not figure it out until the last letter and burst out laughing.

It reminded me of the way my husband's grandmother died. She was in her late 90's, lived in a small town in the South, was driving along and apparently her heart just stopped. Her car rammed into another one at an intersection and the poor other driver was not only scared out of his wits by the accident but horrified because he thought he killed her. So, I could definitely see it! Really fun puzzle because of the counterpoint between the darkness you think about all along and this unexpected jolt of humor at the end.

Rex, enjoy your trip. I hope you have a chance to look at the night skies-- amazing! and so different from anything you see in the northern hemisphere. You might even locate COLUMBA!

Joon 10:50 AM  

great fill in this puzzle. i didn't dig the quote theme (i like dark humor, but not quip themes... or dark chocolate), but enjoyed it anyway. the 1D ARID mixup was absolutely BRUTal. how can [Very dry] be anything other than ARID or SERE? wow that was rough, although i grudgingly admire it.

have a good trip, rex.

janie 10:56 AM  

enjoyed, but didn't loooooove, this puzzle -- probably because i was slowed down so much in the nw (another one who confidently entered "arid" for "brut"...) um, and down in the sw entered "sabena" for "iberia" -- but that got sorted out far more rapidly. ;-)

in addition to the credits already cited for roger rees, he remains a welcome, production-elevating staple of the new york and regional theatre scenes as both an actor and director. that rsc nicholas nickleby was something to behold -- and clocking in at some 7-8 hours, a tad longer (...) view/read than the more slender hard times!

to a sensational "sabbatical," rex and family!!



Matt Ginsberg 10:58 AM  

Hey All:

The GAS OVEN/Hitler thing was not intentional. I remember actually trying to get *rid* of GASOVEN as I constructed the puzzle, but the quality of the fill fell a lot and I decided to leave it in there. Will changed just a handful of clues on this puzzle, but the GASOVEN clue was one; it was initially [Cooker found in a motorhome] because I was looking for something that would minimize the Hitler connection. I think I like [Keeper of a flame?] better, though!

Jeffrey 11:00 AM  

For "Keeper of a flame?" with the OVE in place I put in "EXLOVER". Downhill from there.

Not a fan of this puzzle.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

The only doubt I had in this puzzle was "SPLIFF," not ever having heard this words, despite having worked with inner-city youths for the past 30 years. The cross clue about the airport was going to be either "STL" or "ATL," but (a) having been through Atlanta, I didn't think it was the name of any airport there, and (b) SPLIFF looked more like a word for a joint than APLIFF did. Natick, anyone?

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Easy puzzle as others have said since the main theme is an old joke.
Never heard of splif..kept trying to end it w/a form of reefer from
the 'f' in flying.

Happy vacation to you Rex!

SethG 11:26 AM  

Rex, don't forget MMM, Blitzkrieg or The Big.

Last night someone reminded me about a Situation, and of course I couldn't fall asleep for a long time, and of course for some reason I wound up starting the puzzle at like 3am. Which isn't always a great idea--for example, it took me several seconds to think of FLYING. Which would normally be fine, but the book is literally on my nightstand right now.

I was somehow able to muddle through anyway, probably largely because I'd heard the quote before. Anyway, I couldn't find my error (yup, LEGASSE) at all, and I finally gave up.

Thought it was a little weird to have LE CAR above ...HIS CAR.

I like the family theme, with OB/GYN, GIRL, GRANDFATHER, MOM, NIECE... And I just this minute noticed, and really like, how AVIATION crossed FLYING, FALCON (a type of jet), IBERIA Airlines, and SCREAMING IN TERROR. Have great travels, Rex & family!

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Thanks to wobbith for identifying the first YouTube clip as a Cyndi Lauper performance. But who was the second clip by?

I'm hopelessly out of touch with pop culture, which forces me to google more often than I would like to. But I was intrigued by both of the clips.


Bill from NJ 11:49 AM  

I'm with busy bee - didn't know Roger REES and thought "his cab" ended the phrase well so I left BEES in place. Couldn't parse COTTONY UNARM DEMESNE BIOTAS but chipped away at the puzzle until I finished, starting in the Midlands, moving South, up the East Coast and into The NW last.

It was a long slog but I finished, eventually correcting all my problems but leaving Cab in place till I got here.

Being Jewish, I picked up on Hitler and GASOVEN and was mildly offended but I figured "hey, it's just a puzzle, for God's sake" and I gave the constructor the benefit of the doubt.

Rex, have a good time on your New Zealand vacation and looking forward to pictures of same

mac 11:51 AM  

Brut and New Hampshire caused some problems, but I had quite a few aha and lol moments: loved "streetcar", "as told to", "Mr. Hyde" , "Hi Mom" and the joke, which I hadn't heard before. Thralls is a good word, too.
There were quite a few unknowns for me, but I managed to get them through crosses, slow going, though.

Had a good time with it this morning. It's a beautiful day in CT, on to watering the plants.

Rex, have a wonderful time in NZ, we'll miss you.

Bill from NJ 11:57 AM  

I just now read Matt's comment about the GASOVEN clue. I enjoy his work and knew it wasn't intentional.

Thanks for the clarification, though

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Count me as one who did not like the quip/quote. I thought it was insensitive, as best, but I'll leave it at that.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

I do not like quote/quip puzzles and in spite of the punch line, I truly wish I don't see any more puzzles of this type, especially on Sundays.

Reason for the dislike is that I am effectively solving without crossings through most of the grid - and for what? Some dark humor, or a punch line at the end? Not worth it.

Give me back my themes so I can have my aha moment and then take a stab at the theme entries!



miriam b 12:43 PM  

Bon boyage, Rex & Co.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

I had a little problem with the theme answer, because I was told a different version of the joke by my grandfather when I was younger where the dead guy is a bus driver. Kept trying to fit in BUS of BUSDRIVER in the grid to no avail. My grandpa was Austrian, so maybe there was something in the German version of the joke that got lost in translation?

Other than that, I thought this was a clever puzzle. Count me in with the ARID instead of BRUT crowd. Also thought, incorrectly, that the title of the book was TAI PAI and not TAI PAN. Why I didn't see MTI as wrong instead of MTN, I don't know. Perhaps because I did the puzzle late last night.

Also thought that I was SO clever because I immediately filled in THE CHIMES as the Dickens novel instead of HARD TIMES (I obviously already had the last few letters which are the same). D'oh!

Some very clever cluing in this puzzle, most of which has already been said. And coincidentally, I have to drive about 10 minutes west of here to BETHESDA to visit this afternoon. I'm really impressed, BTW, that the author and/or Shortz knew that NIH stands for National Institutes of Health instead of Institute (singular). I can't tell you how often I see people (even in the newspapers) make that mistake.

ronathan :-)

Pythia 1:06 PM  

Sorry to say I'm in the "disappointed" camp today v-a-v the theme. Old joke, which has no juice when repeated.

Otherwise, an enjoyable solve, with fill and clues entertaining enough, except for

*BIG LIE over GAS OVEN = not so nice. BESTIAL EVILDOERS lurking in the grid, like U-boats in the IRISH SEA.
*ORACH crossing LAGASSE = not fair
*LIKELY crossing(!!!) LIKE (which appears twice in the quip) = a puzzle no-no, yes?

Learned SPLIFF, which will come in handy. Would it be correct to say, "Don't bogart that SPLIFF, my friend?"


Anonymous 1:10 PM  

I remember Dahomey from the "orange kangaroo in Denmark" mind reading trick. My brother's mind works in strange ways and he came up with "a khaki yak in Dahomey." Have a great vacation, Rex. I have a friend who visits her husband's family in NZ on a regular basis. Every Christmas she sends me beautiful pictures of blue oceans, sandy beaches, sunny skies...wait a minute, I hate her!

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

I was offended by the "Big Lie" answer in close proximity to GASOVEN but I noticed the maker's name and said -

A Landsman!! and thought "Naaah."

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

I liked the puzzle today but thought it was too easy. However, I just learned this week that the Sunday puzzle is of a Thursday difficulty ... I've always known it's less than a Saturday, but I thought the Sunday should be just as challenging in a more fun way. Does this make any sense?

The Hale-Bopp answer totally brought back when I was living in San Diego not too far from Rancho Santa Fe where the whole Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide back in 1997 ... talk about dark!

I'm new to this blog but even in this short time know I will miss Rex's insight. But, one thing I know from being here is that the "regulars" have excellent insight as well.

Have a wonderful vacation, Rex & family ... and think about taking along "The Wolfen" for some light reading.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

I think spliff is usually associated with slang for a joint in reggae and west indian circles.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

I did this spuzzle from the bottom up, it just seemed easier that way. I really wanted BRASH to be BRAVE but it wouldn't work with RECTO. I have always associated SPLIFF with the Brits for some reason. Also, had to ask my 10 year old for the former name of Benin - sad for me, amazing for him.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

As a 60 year-old, "spliff" was a snap. Back in the long ago, a spliff was a gigantic reefer, way bigger than one or two rolling papers could make. I still have my one ancient copy of "High Times" with Bob Marley on the cover and photos of him inside the mag with a spliff. There's gotta be a lot of us happily burrowed in the conventional world with vocabularies that would astonish a couple of younger generations.

miriam b 2:00 PM  


Doug 2:06 PM  

Okay, before I read anything here is my botched theme answer:


I don't have the time to untangle this thing!

Doug 2:21 PM  

Ah, I see where I went so badly wrong. Right off the bat (written as I watch the Jays CLOBBER the Yankees) with BRAVE instead of BRASH did me in for the NW.

DHS not HHS. Interestingly, former Clinton HHS secretary Donna Shalala signed my B.A. from Univ. of Wiscnson-Madison when she was Chancellor. That was 6 months before Tommy Thompson took office as Governor of Wisonsin, and prior to taking over from Shalala when Dubya was elected. Is my grammar correct?

SPLIFF: Saw Richard Branson on a late night show talking about enjoying a 'spliff' or two. When I was last in Amsterdam with a friend I brought up the term SPLIFF so we promptly shared one and laughed all the way home, mainly because the name is just so darned amusing. Or, it is when you're enjoying one!

Leon 2:47 PM  

Great Sunday work-out Mr. Ginsburg.

The Gold Bug clue prodded me to re-read the story. William Legrand solves the cipher by use of letter frequency analysis. Forget R S T L N E. He uses e a o i d h n r s t u y c f g l m w b k p q x z.

Analysis of letter frequency in some famous works :

David Copperfield: etaoinhsrdlmuwycfgpbvkxjqz
Pride and Prejudice: etaoinhsrdlumcywfgbpvkzjxq
Wuthering Heights: etaonihsrdlumcyfwgpbvkxjqz

The Gold Bug provided Alfred Mosher Butts with his “eureka moment” in inventing Scrabble.

chefbea 3:20 PM  

Fun puzzle. I had heard the joke but didnt fill it all in til the end. Had arid instead of brut as did others.

Of course I flew into Lambert airport a few weeks ago.

I have an autographed copy of one of Emeril's cook books - never met him. but I wonder if he has ever made orach?? Never heard of that veggie nor have I heard of spliff

Rex have a great vacation

jae 3:24 PM  

Hadn't heard the quip so enjoyed this one even though I'm not fond of quote themed puzzles. Confidently started with SASSY/SERE only to erase it with RENO and RECTO. NW stayed pretty blank for a while. Didn't know CIARDI, DEMESNE, ORACH, or DAHOMEY but the crosses were sufficient (I'm a tad over 60 and I did know SPLIFF). Remembered REES from Cheers/West Wing.

Good puzzle, clever clueing and interesting fill.

Enjoy your vacation Rex, who is puppy sitting?

matty lite 4:05 PM  

For the second time in the past twelve hours, a SPLIFF has made my day.

Loved the irreverence and playfulness of this puzzle.
I never heard the joke and I did that thing where you honestly and truly LOL. There should maybe be an acronym for when you say that and mean it. Or maybe computers could have a kind of black box audio recorder that can kind of scan back a few seconds when someone types L-O-L to make sure...

I can't imagine when it'll come in handy, but I'm glad I know how to spell TOBOGGAN properly now, with both G's.

@ anonymous non-pop-culture-knower: it's Poison, a really popular hair metal band from the late 80s and early 90s. Also made my day.

@ Rex: So you're one of those people who says "an" in front of "historian," huh?

Thumbs way up,
Matty Lite

fiddleneck 4:05 PM  

Ulrich, I thought you might say that ein berliner was a jelly doughnut and berlinerin was a Herr. Is that old remark about jfk wrong?

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

Besides his role in Cheers, I remember Roger Rees as the Sheriff in Mel Brooks' Men in Tights.

Unknown 4:31 PM  

Indeed, JFK said literally "I am a jelly doughnut" but everyone knew what he really meant. I guess we're supposed to do that here too. I gave up, leaving ARID at 1D, thinking that 1A had to be BRASSY, and you can see the troubles in NW. It was too nice a day here to sit with the puzzle for very long.

Adorable puppies. Is his little brow furrowed because he wishes he could go to NZ?

The retired librarian learned a new word today -- spliff -- and she's glad to be up to date.

mac 5:06 PM  

I think Ulrich told us some weeks ago that "Ich bin ein Berliner" is perfectly fine.
@Ulrich, sorry to speak for you but you're probably on the beach getting ready for cocktails at sundown, followed by oysters and steamed lobster, cole slaw and French fries.. ....

Ulrich 5:22 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 5:22 PM  

John Ciardi had a clever 2 minute spot about word usage on NPR,and wrote 2 books of obnoxious limericks with Isaac Asimov. He is known by scholars for his poetry and for his definitive translation of Dante's Inferno. I met him. He was a hard-drinking, down-to-earth, brilliant guy.

George Lewis 5:45 PM  

I was thrown by 18D because I remembered that James Clavell wrote "Taipan" before he wrote "Shogun", so how could "Taipan" be a sequel? But since "Shogun" is set in 17th century Japan and "Taipan" is set in 19th century Hong Kong, I guess it qualifies as a sequel, sorta kinda.

Ulrich 6:00 PM  

@lurene: I posted my take on this non-issue here some weeks ago.

@mac: I'm back from the Cape--wish I was still there. Most memorable moment: getting so close to about 30 humpback whales that I got wet twice from their spray--an experience I'll never forget.

Orange 6:15 PM  

Well, the usual folks who share recipes here have been silent on this issue, so it falls to me to dig up some ORACH recipes. Orach borsch (sic) and orach pudding are said to have aphrodisiac properties. Good luck following the recipes, though. Parsley root and a bunch of hashed lovage? "3 spoon of crackers"?

fiddleneck 6:15 PM  

thank you mac and ulrich. Sorry I missed it the first time.

qv 6:46 PM  

Woah, got the Sunday out too for the first time, the notion that crosswords prevent dementia is now officially proven with this n=1 clinical trial. Some tactical help from Uncle G, natch.

Rex, actually you're not allowed to go away now that I've found you, get back to work. NZ is scarcely worth all that airport irritation, it's just Australia lite with extra sheep. Keep your knees firmly in the kneehole, chill out with an orach salad and maybe a spliff. Your continuing support is vitale.

miriam b 6:50 PM  

@orange: I have lovage growing in my herb garden, and I'm sure it's easy to hash. I can get parsley root occasionally at the supermarket, but it will probably be necessary to grow the orach. Just the stress of assembling all the ingredients is enough to compromise one's libido.

Anonymous 7:10 PM  

I had the pleasure of seeing Rees portray Hamlet on the West End in London many many years ago... he was amazing...I'm in my mid-50's & have known about "spliff" for a long long time... shame on that guy for ripping off Rex... the Irish Sea was tucked away somewhere in my Irish mind too...LOL!

Michael Chibnik 7:19 PM  

I don't much enjoy thess types of puzzles and hope to see less of them in the future. But maybe I'm just vexed because I had "arid" and "do I go quietly" and I had to come here to get the nw. And I also had legasse/orech instead of lagasse/orach. Well, after getting Friday and Saturday completely, maybe I needed this to prevent hubris.

Shanti11 7:48 PM  

19A RECTO made me think of yesterday's TOSSED SALAD...

Have a great vacay, Rex et al!

mac 7:57 PM  

Good for you, Orange, to pick up the slack! I used to have lovage as well until a friend told me she got blisters and hives from it - didn't want to run that risk. I planted it first because Thomas Keller, my favorite chef, had a recipe in his "French Laundry" cookbook, but I never actually used it. Parsley root can be replaced by parsnip and parsley.

chefbea 8:00 PM  

@orange - thanks for the recipes for orach etc.

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

i don't see how this theme is worthy of mainstream publication since car accidents and death are neither funny nor entertaining... this makes ethnic cleansing look like the winner for liveliest entry... i'd rather fill out a puzzle with racial slurs in it than this... i have a bunch of empty squares and don't even care.

this is all on top of the fact that sunday quips are incredibly unsatisfying because one basically has to piece together all the words from the crossings... worst sunday puzzle i've ever done by far.

mac 8:55 PM  


Bill from NJ 11:05 PM  

I went to that rip-off site and found it to be a big mishmash of material that made little sense.

I don't understand what his point was - aassuming it was a he - and what it was he was trying to accomplish.

I don't possess the requisite skills to hack into his site to mess it up but I wish I did. The discussion here goes far beyond the crossword puzzles it is supposed to be about and, for that reason, this site is important to me and I hate to see someone do something - do anything- to mess it up.

Orange 11:20 PM  

Bill, the rip-off sites are meant to siphon off traffic to boost the site's ad revenue. The more eyeballs the page gets, the more money the bottom-feeder makes.

Orange 11:21 PM  

That was my third comment. This one's the fourth and should be deleted...

mac 11:26 PM  

Don't, Orange, we are always happy to hear from you. People with discerning taste will take one look at that site and never come back again.
P.S. This may be my 4th comment! When the cat's away.....

Rex Parker 11:35 PM  

The cat's right here, honey.

You all are so cute with your "ooh, it's my fourth comment, don't spank me" comments.

I'll be back.

Must sleep.


Anonymous 11:36 PM  

Did you deliberately omit this Bop?


Happy Travels.


A Fellow Kriss Kross Fan

mac 11:43 PM  

Oops. Don't sleep, Rex, save it for the plane....

Jeffrey 11:44 PM  

Have a nice trip, Rex.

Anonymous 12:04 AM  


Blogger mac said...


ok, so basically, it's ok for you to post about recipes and stuff you plant, but not ok for me to say that i really hated today's puzzle? thanks!

fergus 12:18 AM  

Though the grid wasn't too much trouble to fill in, I have to admit that I could not make sense of the quip. I can be a bit obtuse, and honestly didn't think about the old guy falling asleep at the wheel.

I'm concluding that SPLIFF has different meanings in different places and may have evolved over time. My first exposure was in England where morsels of hash were dropped into a pile of tobacco with at least three rolling papers. But now, at least in California it seems to refer to any old joint though possibly larger than average. I wonder how closely synonymous a SPLIFF is to a BLUNT?

Just got back from a fine dinner, featuring chimichuri (unsure of spelling), a tangy Argentinian parsley sauce to accent a main dish. First time I've had that, and would be eager to have it again.

Bill from NJ 12:43 AM  

@orange re:rip-off sites-

Oh, what a naive boy am I!

matty lite 2:15 AM  

It's not often I get to play the expert, but:

SPLIFF: a joint, usually huge, usually made with two or more rolling papers somehow magically conjoined into one giant cylindrical container of marijiuana, aka WEED

BLUNT: a cigar or "cigarillo" cut open, emptied of its contents, and refilled with WEED.

chefbea 7:11 AM  

@fergus in case you are still reading this blog - I had chimichuri sauce for the first time also yesterday at ny daughter's. It was yummy and I have already googled to get the recipe. Will make it this week

Orange 10:56 AM  

It's spelled chimichurri, with two R's.

I recently learned at the gas station that those fruit-flavored cigarillos—grape, peach, strawberry, etc.—are typically emptied out and used to make blunts with a fruity wrapper. I don't know why the fruity ones are popular for this. My topic is food flavors and plants, so I think it'll fly here...

Orange 10:58 AM  

P.S. The anonymous poster who Mac called a troll is right to complain about quip themes in general. They're one of the least appealing kinds of themes because, as Will Shortz once explained, they offer only a single "aha" moment. The gotta-use-the-crossings aspect is, of course, also unfun for many solvers.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

i don't think the people in the car necessarily died. the request is only that the narrator does not want to die screaming in terror.
and how likely would it be that the grandfather would survive an accident that killed everyone else in his car? not very.

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

Good puzzle, I enjoyed it, though I didn't finish.

But more importantly, that's one adorable puppy. My black lab will be three years old at the end of August. I hope you have a yard with plenty of room to give the dog plenty of exercise, or you will pay, my friend.

Enjoy your trip.

Anonymous 10:56 PM  

Let's see: the theme is death, Hitler is in the puzzle, and so is "gas oven." And the author is Matt Ginsberg...

Unknown 7:36 PM  

I have a problem with 41D: "Matador's move" [PASE]. I studied Spanish for years in school, majored in college and studied in Spain for a semester, and have never seen this word used as a noun, as the clue suggests to me. A matador performs a "PASA" (as in "pasa doble"). "PASE" is either a subjunctive conjugation or the command form of the verb meaning to "pass."

Other than that, I enjoyed the puzzle muchly:-)

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

As someone who gets the syndicated version, here are a couple of late comments:

I loved the segues from the punch line of the 'Request' to 'racy' (13d), the two inclusions of 'car' (101a and end of 102a), the one 'kar' (16d), 'Austen/Austin' (55a). 'liter' (101d), and the two inclusions of 'gas' (95a and 47d).

Similarly, the south-west 'flying' theme (including 'spliff') was nicely echoed in the south-east by 'acid' (16d).

Unknown 9:08 PM  

That was my one burning question: IS aspirin an acid? I guess I'll accept it

Anonymous 9:24 PM  

acetyl salicylic acid or the generic ASA

Anonymous 3:48 AM  

getting to this weeks late..but I have always thought this was a Mitch Hedberg joke...but Wil Shriner and others wildly predate him, so I guess Mitch didn't do all original stuff, but he seemed so original and his death so premature. If you don't know who he is, YouTube him and you are in for a treat.

thefogman 5:55 PM  

Nobody cared to look it up? The quote belongs to Will Rogers. Voice of the Future aka The Fogman reporting from July 17, 2020

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