THURSDAY, Jul. 31, 2008 – Allan E. Parrish (1979 AC/DC seven-time platinum album / Author of a once-popular book of quotations)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

Oh, it’s really too bad that Rex is still on vacation; I’m sure he’d have some Danteësque explanation for the theme that really pulled it all together and which might mystify my math-major mind. And it’s really too bad that PuzzleGirl’s not up today, because the theme entries are expressed musically, and I’m sure she’s all over that. Me, I had quite a bit of trouble with this puzzle, but I still generally enjoyed it.

This was one of my slowest Thursdays of the year, and only part of the reason can be attributed to the distractions of my houseguests, the PBS show we were watching about an aircraft Carrier, or the continuing arctic-like conditions in my living room. Though when I look back at my other relatively slow times, often the puzzles seem to be not bad for lots of people. But I know PuzzleGirl had some problems today, too, so I don’t feel bad.

THEME: From Heaven to Hell – answers are musical and include Heaven, Earth, and Hell.

Theme answers:

  • 19A: 1979 Bee Gees chart-topper (Too Much Heaven)
  • 34A: Band with the 1970 hit “Get Ready” (Rare Earth)
  • 50A: 1979 AC/DC seven-time platinum album? (Highway To Hell) – I recognized all of the songs once I heard them, but this is the one I knew the answer to right away. Though I like Get Ready more...

Lots of stuff to talk about, and I’ve let Rex and morning people down by being so late so I’ll just get to it.

The Stuff:
  • 1A: Temple activity (worship) - wanted PRAYING. Or, really, lots of other stuff. This was one of my last fills. Don’t tell my mom.
  • 2A: Tex-Mex treats (tamales) - My first answer, and very surprised to find I was right. In honor, I will try to make it to the market today for tamales for lunch.
  • 18A: Bach work (cantata) – isn’t that a cat food commercial? Really didn’t help me to cross that with 12D: Michael ___, Bush secretary of health and human services (Leavitt) and 14D: Suffragist Elizabeth Cady ___ (Stanton).
  • 21A: Civvies (mufti) – Uh, huh? I guess it’s accurate:
    noun: a jurist who interprets Muslim religious law
    noun: civilian dress worn by a person who is entitled to wear a military uniform’s ridiculous. Mufti sounds like a sandwich, or an endearment for a small woman in a nursery rhyme. Maybe Ken dresses in mufti, GI Joe does not.
  • 25A: Great Plains tribe (oto) – crosses 22D: Multipurpose truck (ute). Lotsa cluing options here.
  • 30A: Professor Lupin in Harry Potter books, e.g. (werewolf) – Also, Michael J. Fox and Jason Bateman. I always want this to have more letters.

    I feel a little bad because my posted picture isn’t actually from Harry Potter, but I’ve never been into the series…I read the first, and saw that movie, but it didn’t draw me back for more. But...Frisbee!
  • 39A: Many Latin compositions (epitaphs) – Not epitaths, and not at all what I was expecting to put here. I’m only a little embarrassed to admit the trouble I had getting to 40D: Military wing (phalanx). I had (T)HALAN_ for a long time, crossed with 62A: Takes over (anne_es). I finally had to run through the alphabet, then I chuckled with pity at, well, me.
  • 47A: Author of a once-popular book of quotations (Mao) – when it wasn’t Bartlett, I was thinking it was maybe from Cats.
  • 55A: Blow up (enlarge) – Someday, I will not think explosion with this common clue/answer.
  • 59A: Smaller than small (teenier) – Does this work? I don’t think this works. What’s that second small doing in there? Does this make anyone else think “ice cold”?
  • 60A: Where the buoys are? (channel) – While you’re there, watch out for 10D: Harbor danger (mine(s)).

  • 1D: Fighters’ org. (WBC) – three letters, put a B in the middle and work on the crosses.
  • 5D: Radio ___ (onetime propaganda source) (Hanoi) – A bit older and I’m sure this was a gimme. I had HAITI for a long time, along with To Touch Heaven, a perfectly plausible Bee Gees song title. PuzzleGirl just sent me an email joking about Bee Gees music to make fun of the fact that I’d never heard of some country dude she likes and for another reason.
  • 9D: Menotti title character (Amahl) – Is this opera? Then the answer must be ARIA or OTELLO or FIGARO? No? Then I don’t know it.
  • 11D: Architectural pier (anta) – Is this architecture? Then the answer must be...actually, I don’t even know a standard answer here. (Sorry Ulrich!)
    20D: One that’s “perky” in the morning (coffee pot) – obvious, but still fun.
  • 26D: Chess tactic that involves attacking two pieces at once (fork) – That makes a lot of sense. In retrospect. But this was the last area I solved. My problem: I had ST MARY for 36A: One of the four evangelists, briefly (St Mark). And the chess tactic could easily have been named after someone, and 26A: County of St. Andrews, Scotland (Fife) could have been lots of stuff. I think my first stab was FORY, but I think I tried TORY and maybe WORY before changing my saint. I’m an ordained minister, but I never had to study evangelists or anything.
  • 37D: Drill instructor’s charge (trainee) – I got to this exactly when the carrier-folk on tv started taling about their new trainees.
    38D: Got around at a get-together (mingled) – I’m a good schmoozer, maybe the situation in which I’m most socially competent. Mingling is much harder if you don’t know everyone.
  • 42D: Hardly a chug (sip) - Again.
  • 44D: Football Hall-of-Famer Gale (Sayers) – His career was cut short by injury, but when he played he was one of the best ever. He’s also famous from the movie Brian’s Song, which detailed his close friendship with his (white) teammate, Brian Piccolo, during Brian’s struggle with cancer. A great movie and story, but I’ll post this Sayers video instead.

  • 49D: “Walkin’ After Midnight” hitmaker, 1957 (Cline) – I assume she wore her boots.
  • 51D: Mandlikova of tennis fame (Hana) – I have yet to fully define my wheelhouse, but 80’s tennis stars (and she was, absolutely) are definitely in it.

Sorry this was late, all. Wade tomorrow!

Signed (contritely), SethG, Royal Vizier of CrossWorld


Barry G. 10:43 AM  

Morning, all!

I don't know if I'll be the first poster by the time I finish typing this, but what the heck...

I started out thinking this puzzle was waaaay too easy for a Thursday. Maybe I was just on the same wavelength as Mr. Parrish. Of course, that feeling didn't last too long as I descended into the lower depths of the grid. That area eventually cleared up once I got HIGHWAY TO HELL for 50A, which helped me get HANA, MAGEE, SAYERS and HAHN -- all previously unknown to me.

The only other part of the puzzle which caused me difficulty was the very center. I'm not a chess guru and had had ROOK instead of FORK for 26D. I finally figured out ROOK just couldn't be right, but I had no idea what the "County of St. Andrews" was. Once I had _ORK and _IFE, however, I figured that "F" was the most likely answer. I mean, "fork" means to split into two, so that would make sense. And "Fife" sounds vaguely Scottish, right?

Anyway, it was a good puzzle and I was able to finish unassisted. I still think that it was surprisingly easy for a Thursday, though.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Ok, so ignore my note I appended to yesterday's comments.

How the hell is MUFTI a CIVVIE?

Unknown 10:45 AM  

Impossible to believe that I am writing the first comment -- and on a day when the puzzle, uh, puzzled me quite a lot. 1970s pop music went on while I was submerged in grad school -- I missed it all. So this puzzle was a bit of a slog, aided by Google when I was desperate. I was glad to see a few things I know - the County of Fife, Jane Austen, and Patsy Cline. With Mufti and Brocade, that was enough to get going, and here I am.

So today, Seth gave a slow solver her 15 minutes of fame. Thanks!

Jeffrey 10:47 AM  

Great write-up, Seth.

oops, I need a new opening tag line.

I got into the hell portion very quickly, had trouble getting around on earth, and took a long time getting into heaven. But enough about my life, how about the puzzle.

ANTA? No. uh-huh. Get rid of it.
Belongs in the Hell section.

I just read the Harry Potter books - are they popular? - so I knew WEREWOLF.

All the 70s references should have been right in my wheelhouse, but I was blanking on Bee Gees songs - Stayin, Alive, Night Fever, Tragedy...


DAVENING, PRAYING for Temple activity.

Best clues: Half-and-half, maybe for MUTT. Author of a once-popular book of quotations- MAO.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

I guess we should just discuss amongst ourselves until the BBB posts what I am certain will be a great blog. I thought this was just about right on for a Thursday difficulty. I think it's interesting that HEAVEN is near the top of the grid, EARTH in the middle and HELL at the bottom.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

we used to have mufti day at school. A chance to get out of our kilts. I had emanate instead of radiate which had me in trouble for a while. But what really screwed it up was the lingerie drawer. I knew that we call all sorts of lingerie things different names to you and thought i was doing so well by considering hose, panties and finally landing on garters. No. But otherwise i liked this and felt quite able overall. Sorry i'm not capitalising clue answers, phone not letting me.

Shamik 11:02 AM  

Ach! I guess STMARY isn't an evangelist and there is no FORY in chess. Otherwise, an excellent!!! puzzle. What wonderfully splendid words there were!

PHALANX, HAI, EPITAPHS and an excellent theme. I liked this puzzle. Good job, Mr. P!

Now am I confused? Is it Seth that's waiting for a baby to arrive?

Barry G. 11:04 AM  


Civvie is short for civilian clothes, and that's the definition of mufti.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

It's rare to find an error in a Times puzzle, but Patrick Magee (47 down) won a Tony Award for Marat/Sade in 1966, not 1996 as the clue states.

imsdave 11:09 AM  

I was Natticked in the northwest by the song I've never heard of crossed with STANTON and LEAVITT. Finally pulled it out from the discovery of the theme.

Except for that, I really liked this puzzle.

I'll check back later after Seth wakes up.

Two Ponies 11:09 AM  

Earth right between heaven and hell. Nice.
Northeast nearly killed me but overall a nice musical puzzle.
Not many black squares which looked scary at first but a few gimmies got me going.
Is mufti an acronym of something?

Bill from NJ 11:11 AM  


mufti was a term used by the English in India to describe military personnel wearing civilian clothes when they are entitled to wear a uniform.

I liked the way this puzzle laid out moving from heaven thru earth in the middle down into hell.

ANTA is a refugee from the Maleska era . We are seeing more of this stuff all the time.

I also liked that you were asked for quite a bit of general knowledge from the arts which, I think, is what puzzling is all about - WEREWOLF across from AUSTEN was a particular cool touch

imsdave 11:14 AM  

Oops, I meant northeast. Looked up Patrick Magee and he died in 1982.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Oh great. MUFTI - Another term brought back by the British from India. Just what the world needs.

What's wrong with cluing it as an Islamic Legal Scholar? At least that's not 19th century British Colonial arcana

Bill D 11:27 AM  

Loved this puzzle, but thought it was a little easy for a Thursday. Nailed RARE EARTH and HIGHWAY TO HELL right away, but I had stopped listening to the Bee Gees after that disco craze hit, (I still adore "Odessa" and the great stuff before that - our garage band used to do "New York Mining Disaster 1941") so it took me a while to get TOO MUCH HEAVEN. Had I picked up on the progressive slant to the theme before I saw Jojo's comment it would have been easier. I suppose purists will not like the fact that the theme comprises two songs and one band, but I like it. Resisted TAMALES for a while 'cause I consider them true Mex food (which I love), not Tex-Mex (not so much.)

Hardly a bit of dreck in this one, though I never heard of ANTA, and some excellent stuff - PHALANX, SACHETS, SEDATES, BROCADE, WORSHIP, COFFEE POT. Good job!

Orange 11:34 AM  

Seth is, I believe, operating a Home for Unwed and/or Wed Mothers. It is one of the pregnant gamines who is expecting a child. Seth will be responsible for teaching the diapering and burping classes.

Crosscan, "Tragedy" and TOO MUCH HEAVEN are on the same post-Saturday Night Fever album. I listened (and linked) to the latter song while putting my post together last night, but restrained myself from watching "Tragedy" on YouTube. Even though I was kinda hankering for it. Discipline!

JannieB 11:41 AM  

Nice puzzle today - found it challenging enough for a Thursday. When I read the first long theme clue I thought we were in for lots of pop music stuff - and that is just not in my wheelhouse. Never noticed the heaven/earth/hell thing until someone blogged it. I have a tendency to lose the trees in the forest. ''

Curiously, we've had two words in as many days that start with P and end in X. Can there be any more???

Liked the clues for epitaph and Mao. Very fresh.

Two Ponies 11:42 AM  

Thinking back to yesterday's puzzle and the semi-mysterious AWN. Is that the root of the word awning?

Barry G. 11:43 AM  

@MargaretR - Sorry to rob you of your 15 minutes of fame!

@humorlesstwit - I guess it's a matter of perspective. I've always known mufti as meaning civilian clothes but have NEVER seen or heard of it defined as an Islamic Legal Scholar. So it were clued that way, I would have been royally stumped and likely would have complained about such an obscure clue for an otherwise common word.

Parshutr 11:44 AM  

Three really bad guesses on my part: FAJITAS for TAMALES, PATHWAY for HIGHWAY, and DRINKER for CROONER, almost did me in.
Saved by MINGLED, TECHNIE, and HANOI crosses.
Then, was this really a Thursday? I hardly struggled at all, despite being way too old for the musical references, with my EPITAPH (Whatever is worth doing is worth doing to excess) already written.
Old-timers words like MUFTI, AMAHL and STANTON just about made my day.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

This one did not resonate with me. The northeast killed me, with LEAVITT, STANTON, AUSTEN and the WTF that is ANTA. Throw in "elegant" where EMINENT should be and you have a real mess on your hands, let me tell ya.

Liked the UTE/OTO cross, as well as the latin/greek EPITAPH and PHALANX.

Can we move on to 80's music now?


Parshutr 11:47 AM  

I meant TECHIE, of course.

Jeffrey 11:47 AM  

That was "Spirits Having Flown" wasn't it, Orange? I do remember the song - nobody Gets...Too Much Heaven... it just wasn't coming to me until I got the theme.

By the way, I did the Orange co-authored puzzle mentionned late yesterday and it is great! A fast moving theme and references to Superman, Blondie, Star Wars, the Beatles, the Archies!, and a certain nameless female lawyer show. Only problem, with the book,not the puzzle, is the answers in the back are so tiny I can't read them.

jannieb: POX.

SandyB 11:48 AM  

This should make us all appreciate Rex, I am sure writing this blog is difficult!

Patrick Magee won the Tony in 1966, not 1996.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

I think that MUFTI as civilian clothes is regional at best, and probably more common in the UK than the US. I've heard of it, but it's not in common use around here (NYC area) as far as I can tell. People here would say "in street clothes" or "dressed down" (as in "Dress Down Day" meaning that you don't need to wear the usual uniform) or maybe "in civvies" (people of a certain age, that is.) So to Barry, I say, I don't consider MUFTI to be a common word.
BTW, those of you who comment things like "How the ---- is MUFTI a civvie?"--a suggestion. Google it before asking here. You'll learn more and retain it longer, so the next time it comes up, you'll know it.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Dull puzzle for a Thursday -- nothing very exciting about the theme. Heaven/earth/hell seems more like maybe a Tuesday, but more likely a CrosSynergy type puzzle. ... On Thursdays I expect something more clever. Like this week's Wednesdays puzzle, which was awesome.

Interesting elements for me were "hai" for Japanese "yes", since there are v few languages other than german/french/spanish/latin in puzzles; mow for shorten; and i thought "Get Ready" was going to be the Temptations after I got "Highway to Hell" and the evangelists ...

dk 11:54 AM  

Seth, Less is More.

@joho, we will be recruiting you for our cell, err group, that rants , err is focused, on puzzle decency. We serve treats at our meetings and as you may imagine beets are popular.

On the puzzle, I only know one song that I thought was by the Bee Gees and that is Hotel California which is by the Eagles (former backup band for Linda Ronstadt) and does not fit in those Teeny squares. In short, I want more Mott the Hoople clues.

RAREEARTH is also known as diatomaceous earth and is used to filter water.

MUFTI I only got in the crosses and I wanted drinker instead of CROONER for Dino.

Otherwise, A heavenly puzzle experience.

crackup 11:56 AM  

Nice Thrus. puzzle, didn't get the heaven/earth/hell theme until reading blog, but I like it. Was stuck in the NE corner- BeeGees, not one of my favs even back in the day, and Bush's guy just wouldn't surface, Stanton I should have known she's in a lot of puzzles, and I don't associate harbor danger with mines more like pier, jetty, errant scuba diver....and finally I wish I could spell, I always put Amahl down as Amhal everytime it appears in a crossword...why!

Twangster 11:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Twangster 11:59 AM  

My time-wasting one-letter screwup for the night turned out to be AMOHL and CONTATA, which should have been AMAHL and CANTATA.

Overall found it pretty easy, although I'm surprised I have no memory of the BeeGees song, despite being alive and listening to the radio in 1979.

jeff in chicago 12:03 PM  

Did OK on this one. A couple Googles. Found it easier to get into the HELL region than the HEAVEN area. Some will say this mirrors my personal life, but let's not go there.

During the disco era (ugh) I was listening to Yes, King Crimson, Genesis (before Phil Collins ruined them) and Emerson Lake and Palmer. Not a Bee Gees fan then; not one now.

Saw right away that the year couldn't be right for Marat/Sade. 1996 was "Rent's" big year (and "Master Class").

Bill D 12:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill D 12:06 PM  

@tintin - there was music in the 80s?

@Jeff in Chi - I, too, was listening to Yes, King Crimson, Genesis (before Phil Collins ruined them) and Emerson Lake and Palmer. Long live Baroque Rock!

ArtLvr 12:07 PM  

I liked this puzzle very much, and did it without help relatively fast, for me. Amusing that we see PHALANX today about where PHLOX was yesterday... and I sought another X with "mix" to start 38D, until MINGLED emerged -- neat word. Can mingy be far behind? I'm fond of MUFTI too.

HANA and HAHN, HAM and HAI were gimmes, as was HANOI when I finally got back to the NW, so WORSHIP was my last entry. I think of BROCADE as normally too heavy for a bridal gown, but it fit...

The theme was neatly arranged, with musical fill on top of the HEAVEN phrase and SCAMP just above the HELL, plus COFFEEPOT with implied "grounds" runs through RARE EARTH at the center! (HAHN is heavenly, though.)

Maybe Seth needed a jolt of java to wake up?


Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Ham in eggs benedict??? No way. Ingredient is Canadian bacon or Windsor bacon to us Canadians. Ham would be a poor stand-in.
Bad clue!!

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

I wanna throw my weight behind TAMALES being true Mexican food, not Tex-Mex.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Believe it or not, it's not so rare to find a mistake in the clues. It happens about once a month on average.

Two Ponies 12:23 PM  

@ bill d and jeff in chicago
I think we all have the same music collection. Had Lamb Lies Down on Broadway playing just last night.

HudsonHawk 12:23 PM  

As a forty-something music fan, this one was right in my wheelhouse. But I feel sorry for any solvers under 25 today.

Loved the early Bee Gees ("I Started A Joke", for example), tired of them during the disco era, but now will find myself singing along if I hear those songs on the radio. Guilty pleasure.

I saw Black Sabbath with Blue Oyster Cult on the Black and Blue tour, which tangentially reminds me of AC/DC's Back in Black, the follow-up to Highway to Hell.

Ulrich 12:29 PM  

I was sooo on the same wavelength with the constructor that the puzzle was easier for me than the last two---had a gimmie in every quarter. With its relatively few theme answers and no gimmicks, it did not have that Thursday feel---Wednesday, tops!

My wife explained sachets to me--my word of the day.

SethG 12:36 PM  

So today class, we've learned that I'm completely unreliable. (I originally said that I suck, but PuzzleGirl corrected me.)

I'm a bad, bad substitute blogger.

Sorry for the brief (!) is up, and now I'll go see what you've all been saying behind my back.


jeff in chicago 12:40 PM  

@billd and two ponies

Yes remains my favorite band to this day. I have 49 Yes albums, which includes many of the solo works of the various members.

I saw Steve Howe in a solo show once where he played mostly classical works. I thought he was brilliant, but much of the audience was not having it. People kept shouting "Play 'Roundabout'!" After about an hour of that, Howe finally - and angrily - said: "You want 'Roundabout'? Here's 'Roundabout' "

He then tore through a terrible (but thankfully short) version of the song just to get the idiots in the audience to shut up. Howe is one of the best guitarists I have ever heard in any genre.

miriam b 12:42 PM  

@anonymous 12:33: Agree about TAMALES. The Mexican ones are wrapped in corn husks, but tamales are also made in several other countries of Central and northern South America. They're wrapped in plantain leaves. A Colombian coworker once brought me a homemade tamale. It was weirdly good, but totally unlike the Mexican kind I'm familiar with.

Anonymous 12:42 PM  


Here's another P____X answer, (besides PX, which is militarese for Post Exchange) - grand PRIX (well half an answer anyway).

Jeffrey 12:47 PM  

I checked jimh database and there have been 29 P_X words used, from PARALLAX to PHOENIX to PARADOX, to PENALTY BOX.

miriam b 12:48 PM  

Forgot to mention that NONE of the music clues struck a responsive chord. Finished the puzzle with the help of crosses.


mac 1:05 PM  

I couldn't start in my usual NW corner, but once I started (coffeepot was the first word to be written down), I worked my way from hell through earth to heaven.

The puzzle was so broad that I had lots of gimmes to help me along when I didn't know titles or names. I too like the crossing of Ute and Oto, phalanx (Latin class), annexes, crooner, worship and tamales (just noticed cornhusks at the supermarket, maybe I will make some fresh ones one day soon).

Mutt was fun, made me think of a conversation when our son was 4. He asked us to explain what a mutt was, and after hearing us out, said: "Then I'm a mutt!" (half Dutch/half American).....

I agree with Artlvr re the brocade, wouldn't want to do that to any bride, and with hobbyist about the ham: definitely Canadian
bacon, which is also very good with sauerkraut.

I think it's possible that Seth is this MTB's Lamaze coach.

Bill D 1:12 PM  

Good job, Seth - no need for apologies. Pressure of Blog Day may have clouded your mind on the puzzle a bit - I know I'd get nervous.

@Jeff - My Baroque-Rock heroes are the keyboardists. Saw Rick Wakeman a couple of years ago and had him sign my "Close to The Edge" CD and "Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios" LP. This 1971 Strawbs album was the first appearance by a young Wakeman on vinyl, I believe. When he took the jacket he slowly flipped it over as if going back 30 years and said, "This is a beautiful album", thus reinforcing my opinion of it - it's a Bill D Top Ten!

Ulrich 1:20 PM  

@sethg: ANTA violates IMHO more than the Natick principle--it violates what I call the Northford principle (Northford--where I live--is a part of North Branford which is a suburb of New Haven; neither is known beyond the limits of that area, and I cannot imagine that, unlike Natick, either would appear in any history book.)

ANTA is common knowledge only to specialists in classical architecture--if normal professionals have heard about it at all, it would be in a phrase like "Temple in antis", i.e. in an inflected form that makes it not even clear what the nominative case may be. (BTW this is the simplest classical temple known: The entrance is formed by two columns standing between the protruding side walls, i.e. in antis.)

Jeffrey 1:26 PM  

ANTA is dangerously close to the infamous Celebes ox, ANOA.

Barry G. 1:30 PM  

Actually, I don't think that ANTA violates the Natick principle at all. I agree it is horribly obscure, but the other words it crosses (TAMALES, EMINENT, CANTATA) are pretty common. Even if you want to argue that TOO MUCH HEAVEN is an obscure song that few would know, the HEAVEN part that crosses ANTA is pretty easily inferable.

Of course, if you can't get TAMALE, EMINENT, CANTATA and HEAVEN from the clues, you're not gonna get much help from ANTA, LEAVITT and STANTON....

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

dk: I have no idea what you're talking about -- I'm perfectly decent when I do the puzzle.

Michael Chibnik 1:32 PM  

I am pleased to see that others agree with me about tamales being Mexican rather than Tex-Mex. I've eaten many a tamale in Oaxaca (southern Mexico) where, for example, burritos cannot be found. [I'm sure someone will now post about finding burritos in Oaxaca, so perhaps I should amend this to "burritos are hard to find..."]

Song titles are not my strength and I completely missed the heaven, earth, hell thing, but still average Thursday time for me.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

"I had ST MARY for 36A: One of the four evangelists, briefly (St Mark). ...I’m an ordained minister, but I never had to study evangelists or anything."

Which of the 4 gospels did Mary write?
I thought this was one of the easier answers in the puzzle. After I changed it from St Matt with it clued "briefly."

Ulrich 1:40 PM  

@barry: Yes, I shouldn't have referred to the Natick principle. I should have said that the term is so specialized that it simply should not appear in a xword puzzle at all, gettable or not. It looks like a word that can only make it into a puzzle b/c the constructor googled to see if a certain letter combination forms something meaningful somehow, somewhere, and that's not good enough, I think.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Music theme? If you say so. The only music entries I recognized were 18A:CANTATA (could have been PARTITA also, sharing four of seven letters) and 9D:AMAHL (which must be Menotti's best-known piece by far, even outside of crosswords, though MEDIUM might get a Menotti clue one of those days). Expected another one for 39A (REQUIEMS, say) but it turned out to be a different kind of composition.

I too expected TOTOUCHHEAVEN, having guessed Radio Marti for 5D. Between that, 20D:COFFEEPOT, and RAREE____ for 34A, I was expecting a double-letter theme. Instead, merely titles that give Heaven/Earth/Hell. (Well, the last of these does end with a double letter, and there's a chain of double O's in the NW, but it's all too haphazardly placed to make a theme.) I guess the puzzle gets extra points for having them in the right place in the grid, with 1A:WORSHIP near Heaven and Devil-->48A:SCAMP near Hell, and double extra points for finding all the titles in 1970's pop -- but I didn't recognize any of them, so it left me cold. Sorry.

Without the pop link (and maybe on Friday or Saturday), 34A:RAREEARTH could get a much higher-end clue like "Mischmetal component". Nice that 30A:WEREWOLF could be guessed from the name Lupin even without knowing anything of the Potterverse. Oh, and I wonder what Rex would say about 3D:ROOTFOR blogging from Down Under ;-)


green mantis 2:49 PM  

Mmm, tamales. Also excellent: tlayuda. Thin little Mexican pizza, delicious. Also fun to say. And, no burritos in Oaxaca. Burritos, despite their admitted usefulness, are basically big piles of schmang wrapped in a bread blanket--not unlike a KFC Famous Bowl for those actually too lazy to employ even plastic cutlery. I'm trademarking schmang, by the way, so don't go getting any ideas.

That's right, I made a link. They grow up so fast. Soon, my tech-savvitude will know no bounds. I'm en fuego.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

The two scenic photos are nice, but of where are they, and what relation to the puzzle do they have?

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

I learned MUFTI from Asterix in Britain oh so many years ago. One of my all-time favorites. For that matter, PHALANX is in Asterix the Legionary, but I think I knew that word already. Another of my all-time favorites.

jae 3:22 PM  

I liked this one although the NE seemed more like Fri. than Thurs. e.g. ANTA, LEAVITT (turns out he was in the paper this morning). I also had CHORALE (it sorta works if you spell AMAHL wrong) at first which made it even harder. The rest, however, went pretty smoothly. Nice misdirection for SCOOT and SPED.

fergus 3:38 PM  

Also got stuck by having entered Radio MARTI too quickly. That ended up causing all sorts of doubts in the NW corner, including even Bobby ORR and PERU. NOT MUCH HEAVEN? Considered entering DRINKER for the Dean Martin Clue. Also, was fumbling about for 7-letter Jewish rituals, when plain old WORSHIP showed up.

RARE EARTH is another one of those bands that play on Friday nights at the Boardwalk for free. It's not really a commendation of their current status, but lots of people show up anyway, often out of an uncharitable form of sympathy.

I still have Brian Piccolo's autograph on the photograph of my 1967 flag football team. Just in case there are any sports memorabilia experts on this blog, could it by chance be worth anything?

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

I feel like there have been a bunch of bullshit crossings recently, but maybe that's just me.

Unknown 3:45 PM  

That's OK, Barry - I guess the 3rd commentator gets 5 minutes of fame! That's probably the best I'll ever do, being a slow starter in the morning and a slow solver. What I liked best about today was MUFTI, one of the few words I got on my first pass through these clues. I love that word -- it should be more popular.

jae 3:46 PM  

Oh, and add me to those who don't think TAMALES are tex-mex.

Orange 3:52 PM  

Crosscan: Thanks!

Ulrich, no experienced constructor has to Google to find ANTA. It's probably in their database. If it's a ranked database, the word is ranked low, sure, but they won't necessarily shy away from it if it enables a nice corner. Three 7s stacked atop a theme entry, crossing another stack of three 7s, qualifies as a really nice corner.

Anonymous 3:55 PM  

Agreed on TAMALES, although it was the north west that tripped me up for the longest time.

And am I the only person who thinks BUOYS are put to mark a channel, not to be in a channel?

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

smoked grilled beets are my favorite Tex-Mex item.

dk 4:28 PM  

@joho, one word: drat!

@cea, my sisters often said boys should be drowned in channels.

@sethg, in my ski patrol class we had to learn how to deliver babies as you know many times women who are in their ninth month just have to ski.... call if you need help.

SethG 4:51 PM  

I made it to the market for tamales today. So good.
(And the produce market? Pints of organic blueberries or raspberries for 99¢? Bing cherries, $2/lb or 3 for $5? Remind me why I don't go there every day?)

Anonymous, I didn't know there were four gospels, I didn't know the evangelists wrote the gospels. Tomorrow, I will forget again. At least I knew two different M saints. Tishrei Cheshvan Kislev Tevet Shvat Adar Nisan Iyar Sivan Tamuz Av Elul, sheimot hachodeshim.

NDE, ixnay on the ootrays or we'll be talking urnipstay for the next month.

green mantis, my next craving is for lahmacun. Get on it.

Anonymous, Rex is in Taupo, so I put that in my grid and smoked it.

Oh, and I might wind up dogsitting for the weekend, lest anyone think I'm taking on too much,

Ulrich 5:14 PM  

@orange: When I say "google" these days, I mean any web-based search. But I do get your point.

Still, I'm not sure about terms that are so specialized that even regular practitioners in the respective field may not have heard of them. Would you accept "acroterion"? It's no more specialized than "anta", only longer (and Greek instead of Latin).

evil doug 5:21 PM  

This puzzle was clearly clever code, designed by an anarchist to alert his skunk-dog rebels. If you tilt the paper just so, it's obviously a poppy plant, or else a red star. Look at the clues: Too much heaven? Hippie vernacular for an overdose of acid. Rare Earth? Colombian drug fields, that's what. Mines, killer whales, Mao, frickin' Radio Hanoi? Gimme my gun, honey, I got a feeling they're coming over the hill tonight....

Evil Doug
Highway to Hell, OH

Two Ponies 5:57 PM  

Evil Doug, You get the prize today. You cover the front, I'll watch the back.

fergus 6:17 PM  

On pain of being tedious, wasn't the the ROOT FOR answer beating around the bush, so to speak, of that which our Vizier has banished?

Anonymous 6:17 PM  

Evil Doug, how many times do I have to tell you? If you don't have anything evil to say, please sit quietly and don't interrupt the evil deeds of others.

alanrichard 6:22 PM  

i KNOW YOU GUYS ARE looking for clandestine meanings in this puzzle. If you look at the SW and take the AL from enlarge, the IEN from teenier and the MA from Magee and RS from Sayers: you get ALIENS FROM MARS! Now, not only did I solve the puzzle, (MUFTI and all) but I uncovered something that will lead us to Rosewell NM and security area 54!!!
Lets have Audie Murphy exhumed to lead us from Hell and back to Earth!!!

RodeoToad 6:28 PM  

Oh God. Oh God. There's an O under the black square under 27D, right above 44D. It's . . . LEO SAYER!

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

"One of the Four Evangelists, briefly" suggests to me that the name is going to be shortened. In that case, STMATT seemed a gimme.

Why add the "briefly" if it's going to be STMARK, since the name itself isn't abbreviated? They never do that when the answer is STLEO. Hello?

Jeffrey 6:34 PM  

I used the Bible Code and found the true message:


JannieB 6:48 PM  

We are going to be in so much trouble when the King comes back from the Crusades.

green mantis 7:04 PM  

Ooh Seth I AM on it; that sounds delicious. Sounds, in fact, a lot like the pupusa I just had with my tamale (sweet corn with crema, if you must know). Oh, savory stuffed doughy foodstuffs, why do you haunt me so?

I tried to find a video of some hot tlayuda-on-tlayuda action so I could flex my linking muscles some more, but they're all terrible quality. The tlayuda lobby really needs to up their production values or hire Karl Rove or something. Do some attack ads on other, more rock star menu items that, while better-known, are all empty rhetoric and vague, if exotic, fillings. I like my fried snacks plain-spoken; nay, even inarticulate and sometimes visibly disoriented. Take that, garlic naan, you elitist pancake.

fergus 7:07 PM  

Wade, Leo was from Fife, so he carried a 1-iron.

Where's your Lassie from?

fergus 7:12 PM  

Green Mantis, The elitist pancake is someone we'll be hearing from, I fear.

crackup 7:38 PM  

Sounds like everyone is hungry. Ken doesn't get to wear mufti, he wouldn't even look good in a uniform. I hope Wade is eating more than the other day is tomorrow the weight is on his shoulders.

Bill from NJ 8:00 PM  

This puzzle was chock-a-block full of women today: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, J K Rowling, Jane Austen, Hana Mandlikova, Hillary Hahn, Patsy Cline - 1 Athlete, 1 singer, 1 activist, and the rest from the arts.

Nice sub-theme, if you can call it that

Bill from NJ 8:03 PM  

@mediavalist jackie-

How about because Saint was shortened to ST

Orange 8:39 PM  

Holy crap, Wade! You're right. There's LEO SAYER, stalking you. He's in cahoots with MAO, so please don't watch the Beijing Olympics. For your own protection.

Noam's not talking about root vegetables, he's talking about the Aussie slang "root" that corresponds to the F-word in many ways.

Ulrich, ACROTERION might fly in a Saturday puzzle, though it would make people cranky. ANTA gets a free (or low-cost) pass because it's half vowels and half common consonants—and it's short. Short words with common letters and plenty of vowels help make the crossword magic happen. ANTA was practically a gimme for me (with crossings, anyway) because it's been popping up in crosswords for years and years.

jeff in chicago 8:47 PM  

I have just decided that my superhero persona will be The Elitist Pancake. All criminals beware my golden brown superiority!

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

Can I be your sidekick - the Lowly. Latke?

fergus 8:58 PM  

Papadum, and you're toast

fergus 9:02 PM  

idle chatter,

@ the End of July

A month of expiation

and soundness

worry lost in

an enchantment

and a maturation

of a twelve

year-old son

getting so many

new ideas

about everything

he thought he knew

no matter the source

of his


ArtLvr 9:04 PM  

@ noam d elkies -- "Music theme? If you say so..." You recognized only CANTATA and AMAHL! Very wry, but the three theme answers were clued the way they were, relating to pop music -- though I sympathize and didn't get them that way either, only through crosses. However, one also has to add in three more music-related non-theme answers, given the context: CROONER, CLINE and HAHN. Even if two of these are also pop-related, the extraordinary violinist Hilary HAHN surely is tops on classical musicians' lists!

@ Ulrich -- many thanks for elaborating on the ANTA, but it's in the dictionary and has been used in crosswords for scores of years, long before pop names like Enya existed -- it was a gimme for me, being on the senior side. Very difficult to get an otherwise obscure word like that dropped, after its long history as acceptable xword fill...

@ sethg -- Glad you are back in good form! Your aside "ixnay on the ootsray" was too funny (LOL).


jeff in chicago 9:04 PM  

In our next episode, Elitist Pancake and Lowly Latke team up with Wonder Waffle to battle the Evil EggBeaters in the Battle for Brunch.

fergus 9:10 PM  

... which would then be on the menu at IHOP

JannieB 9:23 PM  

IHOP no doubt being the only place with the nerve to serve Eggs Benedict with ham (just to keep us puzzle-centric)

Ulrich 9:24 PM  

@orange and artlvr: If ANTA has INDEED been kicking around for years and even ACROTERION would be acceptable on a Saturday, I can only say, as an architect: Hats off!

BTW We architects pride ourselves for being the second oldest profession in the world!

mac 10:05 PM  

I actually thought of Leo Sayer as well as the name came up - he was probably more popular in Europe. I always considered him quite twitchy, not very attractive.
What do you think this means, 36A, short for Marcus?
That root / turnip was probably a shoutout to our beloved beet.....

green mantis 10:16 PM  

Oversight alert: Childish Chapati (squabbles with other breads), Righteous Roti (always going on about one oven-related injustice or another) and Perky Parantha (mostly just sits there looking inexplicably happy, so annoying). And yes, papadum, Fergus. Prickly papadum, as it turns out, because it has a famously thin skin and a brittle countenance.

This message has been brought to you by The Tlayuda Group, a five-minute-old organization dedicated to raising awareness of underrepresented unleavened carbohydrate-based patties. Ask not what your bread is stuffed with, but how you can be stuffed with bread.

mac 10:27 PM  

Except for Martha Stewart's Masala Dosa, I think Indian bread just packs on the starch and calories. I like my Lamb Saag with just some really good basmati rice and raita.

Anonymous 10:28 PM  

Artlvr is right: I thought I might be forgetting at least one music entry, and 51D:HAHN was it. Yes, 17A:CROONER and 53D:CLINE are there too, but they didn't help me much. Nor did any of the theme entries: yes, I can see that they were clued as pop references -- otherwise I couldn't have placed any one of them in the correct decade from just the title -- but the intention must have been for the solver to react "neat, heaven/earth/hell with three 70's pop songs", and this solver didn't because I don't recognize a single one of those songs.


Unknown 10:49 PM  

I like Indian bread....its a naan starter. I think we should tell more beet stories tomorrow.

Bill D 10:52 PM  

Going for the One (hundred).

Miguel, is this a joke? "Smoked grilled beets are my favorite Tex-Mex item..."

Yes, ixnay on the eetsbay. Thanx for tryin', Seth.

Finding Leo Sayer hidden in the hell part of the grid is a bad omen, I fear.

If we're taking sides in the stuffed pocket food wars, I'm forming the Powerful Pasty & emPenada Phalanx Plus Pan-Fried Pierogies Platoon. Bring 'em on!

Bill D 10:53 PM  

Darn you Philly! 101! Drat.

Anonymous 10:55 PM  

Beets. Why did it have to beets?!

mac 11:23 PM  

@Ulrich: so what is the oldest profession?!!

Pythia 11:31 PM  

Zipped through this at the end of the longest day ...

Elegant theme structure with HEAVEN, EARTH, HELL in descending order and musically connected.

A little light on theme squares at 35. Only 72 words -- themeless territory. Found the solving a bit ARID, with a themeless structure that lacked the pizzazz a themeless is meant to deliver.

Blind crossing for me of FIFE and FORK as clued.

Happened to have the opportunity to flip through a wedding mag this morning. Lots of bridal gowns, but not one BROCADE dress in the lot.

Drive-by shooting from the 4th grade boys with the Harry Potter wewewolf dude.

Evidence of a senior moment -- Marat/Sade and Patrick MAGEE decade-challenged clue. Grandpa must have been helping out.

Time for Colbert.


Orange 11:34 PM  

Mac: General building contractor, of course.

I say yes to pierogies and my new discovery, their Ukrainian twins the vareniky.

Orange 11:34 PM  

Damn! I meant to say:

Mac: Beet farmer, of course.

Anonymous 11:38 PM  

I have a great recipe for empanadas with beef and golden beets, but I fear I will be banned here if I share a beet recipe.

Long-time lurker,

Loose Dirt Laura

Anonymous 3:10 AM  

darn it, if I come to late, it's always devolved into a food chatter thing.
Just for the record, I hate the word "wheelhouse" it really really bugs me but I can't say why.
I had to go thru the alphabet for the quotations there a book of quotations by MAC? Did MAD mag publish one? how about MAE West?
Was there one by MAN? MAP? a MAX I don't know?
By the time I got MAO, I literally had to slap my forehead...

Even tho I barely knew any of the songs, nor the violinist or even Amahl, I loved that
were in proper order and always still bum a little that so few notice the theme till they come here...
for me, it's ALL about the theme, secret subthemes, and conspiracy theories!
(May I say again, for the record, I hate the term "Wheelhouse" and the endless discussions on food?
I know, I know, it's not my blog... and I

Rick 10:37 AM  

I found this to be an easy Thursday. Maybe because I love pop music, although I wasn't aware of Rare Earth. I was only 3 or 4 at the time. Love that STANTON made the puzzle as I went to Elizabeth Cady Stanton Elementary School. Obviously she's an historical bigwig in my hometown.

ANTA is a great word for anyone who plays Boggle. You'd be surprised how often it turns up. This is where I think playing Scrabble and other word games helps tremendously with crosswords and vice versa. My comment on yesterday's puzzle didn't get posted, but does anyone know a word for "word lover?" "Logophile" sounds like you appreciate Golden Arches or Apple's apple. And as a word lover should I be ashamed I don't know a word for "word lover?"

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