MONDAY, Jan. 26, 2009 - T Powell / N Salomon ("My sweetie" in a 1957 hit for the Bobbettes / Aura, informally / Instrument with 30+ strings)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Bad idea!" - same clue used for three long theme answers

Word of the Day: KIBITZER - (n.) an outsider or nonparticipant who looks on and may offer unwanted advice or comment esp. at a card game; verb "KIBITZ" means "to act as a KIBITZER" (W3I)

This is a fine Monday puzzle with a good dose of Scrabbly letters and some surprising and lively fill. The KIBITZ (44A: Offer advice from around a card table) / ZITHER (45D: Instrument with 30+ strings) crossing is particularly nice. I had no idea "MR. LEE" was Monday fare, esp. as a full title and not just a partial "MR. _____" (37A: "My sweetie" in a 1957 hit for the Bobbettes). I know the song well from my high school "I Give Up On Contemporary Music" years of 1985-87, which also happened to coincide with the release of the movie "Stand By Me," which featured "MR. LEE" on its soundtrack. It's a great, catchy, snappy, growly little number.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: "Bad idea!" ("Let's not go there!")
  • 38A: "Bad idea!" ("You must be joking!")
  • 52A: "Bad idea!" ("I didn't hear that!")

This grid makes me realize how much easier a 14/15/14 theme grid is to construct than a 14/13/14. Imagine black squares where the "Y" and "G" are in 38A. You can't segment the grid as neatly in that scenario and have to run at least two adjacent 8s from top to middle and middle to bottom in two of the corners. In this puzzle, you've got a single 10-ltr Down in the NW and another in the SE, and then a single 8 in the NE and another in the SW. Grids get far harder to fill (smoothly) when you are forced to run 8+-ltr Downs side-by-side through two theme answers. The only reason I say all this is because on its surface, it would seem that a 14/15/14 grid is more challenging to construct than a 14/13/14 because of the additional squares involved, but I don't think that's true. This observation has nothing to do with the quality of the current puzzle and everything with my trying to understand the harsh mistress that is the 15x15 puzzle grid.


  • 30A: Sunken ship's locale (seabed) - a nice answer. "Locale" refuses to take a break.
  • 41A: "_____ River" (song from "Show Boat") ("Ol' Man") - Speaking of "River," River Phoenix was in "Stand By Me" (see nostalgic music memories, above)

  • 58A: Couturier Christian (Dior) - alliteration! DIOR and YSL are the big fashion icons in puzzleworld.
  • 10D: Two-by-two vessel (Noah's Ark) - love the answer; not sure about the clue.
  • 26D: Undercooked meat danger (E. coli) - I refuse to put this answer in any puzzle I might construct. Not too crazy about EBOLI either [I know that EBOLA is the disease and EBOLI is the Italian place name in the Carlo Levi title "Christ Stopped at EBOLI" - 6 of one, as far as I'm concerned, fill-wise]. If I got really, really desperate, I would use E COLI, but deliberately putting E COLI in something I make ... doesn't seem right.
  • 29D: Aura, informally (vibes) - I get a weird VIBE (singular) from this clue because of the singular / plural disparity ... although I can imagine switching "aura" and VIBES out in a sentence, so it's technically legit.
  • 35D: Beachgoer's acquisition (sun tan) - unless you are me, in which case you either burn or stay white because you were lathered in sun block and / or stayed in the shade. Stupid family history of skin cancer!
  • 49D: Cello feature (F hole) - this sounds dirty. Also, I didn't know it. Also, my wife had an error here because she sort of misread the clue at 48A: Babe in the woods (naif) ans something having to do with wood nymphs, and even though wood nymphs are DRYADS, and even though NAIAD is spelled thusly, she wrote in NAID.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Jeffrey 9:35 PM  

Message to today's posters:


That is all.

George NYC 9:39 PM  

I DIDN'T HEAR THAT crossing FHOLE? Call me a NAIF but something seems amiss here....

Kurisu 9:47 PM  

KIBITZers really just watch, they don't necessarily offer unwanted advice.

FHOLE/NAIF was the only sticking point for me; I guessed "f" because I vaguely remembered seeing a word "naif" before. Got lucky, I guess.

dsf 10:14 PM  

My daughter plays cello so I liked FHOLE. Especially crossing REED (I once played bassoon)

Unknown 10:21 PM  

First I have to disagree with Shin: a kibitzer is definitely one who gives advice - ad I'd say in all areas of life. (See, for example, the role of "Yudelson the kibitzer" in Al Jolson's Jazz Singer.) I think a better clue for KIBITZ would say, "Be a buttinski."

And perhaps we shouldn't go there, but maybe it's time to revisit that difficulty rating. Personally, I can't recall the last Monday puzzle that made me pause and skip so many time during the first run-through -- with so few sure answers and so many odd entries, in all parts of the board:

NADA (as opposed to ZERO)
NAG AT (as opposed to HOUND, or some such)
STAIR (do we usually use the collective singular?)
ACH (with a clue that makes you think they're talking about the umlaut-ed "O" in "Österreich"
SOT (I'm thinking BUM on a Monday)
VIBES (do we use that plural? Think, "He gives off a bad ____")
F-HOLE (to which I can only say...)

I rest my case. A fun puzzle, and it was neat to feel it come together. But it made my blink more than once on a Sunday night. I'd say "medium-well."

Greene 10:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 11:05 PM  

Monday's have a new feel. I agree I paused as much tonight on fill as I did on the much bigger Sunday puzzle. Everything came together though because the crosses had just enough easy answers to jog my brain for the obscure things. I may have been faster if this were a Thursday/Friday, but I think things are all shook up. There was a master at work on this one.
Loved NOAH'S ARK crossing a pair of OXEN and SEA BED while PESKY footed BLIND DATE.

jae 11:17 PM  

Delightful, excellent Mon. Lots of interesting fill. Misread 68a so had OBOE briefly and also went with TEHE at first figuring there are a lot of variants on laugh syllables. Didn't know FHOLE either but did know NAIF.

Kurisu 11:20 PM  

That's right, I forgot about NERTS -- that was one I had to look up to make sure it actually existed.

Greene 11:24 PM  

As soon as I entered FHOLE into the grid I thought, "Well this should make for some lively discussion on the blog." Now before we all become engulfed in adolescent giggles, let me remind you that f holes are those openings in the cello which are shaped like a scripted letter f and allow for both greater resonance during performance and act as an access port for cleaning and maintaining the instrument. For a picture of the f holes and an illustration of their uses...oh, I can't stand it anymore. This has got to be the most target worthy entry in a puzzle since I started working them. Bloggers of the world take aim.

I suppose that next you gentle readers are expecting some kind of assessment of "Ol' Man River" and its place in the pantheon of American popular song. Well, all I can say is that when a song has become so ingrained in the American psyche that Dr. Julius Hibbert can be featured as a steamboat captain singing it in an episode of The Simpsons, and even theatrephobes like Rex can get the joke, well that's fame by anybody's definition and my work here is done.

Orange 11:27 PM  

@Rex: Knowing that you would never deliberately put E. coli in something you make definitely makes me feel better about the prospect of having a hypothetical dinner at your house.

Jeffrey 11:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffrey 11:37 PM  

Hypothetical dinner, Orange? Didn't you get the invitation like the rest of us - I mean, never mind.

Shin, Rex and all of us are kibitzers to Will and the constructors.

Anonymous 11:59 PM  

The only problem I have with this puzzle is 62A: [Are, in Argentina] (ESTÁ). It should be clued [Is, in Argentina]. [Are...] would be "ESTÁN".

Anonymous 12:01 AM  

This is the first Monday in a long time that has given me trouble. Had know idea that STAIR could refer to multiple STAIRs, because, you know, that makes sense. I echo the NAIF/FHOLE comments as well.

Anonymous 1:02 AM  

Funny! :)

I got GREENTHUMB first and thought that was going to be the theme (those long downs! Always get me!)
So I started putting in BLUE for BLINDDATE! ACH!

AND having just come from an all- day Scrabble tournament
(I lost five of my six games, thank you for asking!) I put in NERTZ with a Z, bec, damn it, that's how we spell it.

Despite your name being a Hebrew letter (and on a dreidel no less!) you do have that backwards. KIBITZ often has two B's and specifically means in Yiddish to intrude and make unwanted comments.

(BTW I have a list of all the Yiddish/Hebrew words that are acceptable in Scrabble for anyone who would like a copy)

Lots of K's and X's and the J and Z
only missing the Q!!!

I thought hard for a Monday between FHOLE, MRLEE, NERTS, OHSO/HEHE, ONTV, OLMAN, EDYS
(I could go on!)
I mean, Nancy is this generous genius person but I am NEVER on her wavelength!

retired_chemist 1:08 AM  

Truly, a lovely Monday puzzle.

Lots of music refs, and they were eclectic.

Just the right level of obscurity to the sports references - which is to say, not very much.

Loved EATS footed by SEDER, with EDY'S right after, where dessert should be.

@ Peter S - I too wanted the umlaut in Österreich. Oh well...

chefwen 1:50 AM  

Loved the puzzle, went through it like a warm knife through budder. The picture with the snowmen roasting marshmallows was priceless.
I too wanted two b's in kibitz.
Looking forward to the rest of the week.

Unknown 7:11 AM  

To Anon @ 11:59:

I thought the same thing about ESTÁ (which is why I initially put ERES, the 2nd-person familiar of "ser").

However, ESTÁ does translate as "are" for the "Usted" form of "estar" (Ud. está aquí, "You are here").

Now watch me realize I've screwed up by conjugations two seconds after hitting Publish. Oh, you medium Monday!

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

@Peter S.--I was waiting for someone to answer that. We have that complaint whenever that specific clue appears. Without fail.

Rex Parker 7:43 AM  

Why is there an argument about the meaning of KIBITZ(ER) when the decision on the word's meaning has already been RENDERED!? My KIBITZER definition (it's the @#$#ing Word of the Day) is Straight Out Of Webster's 3rd Intl Dictionary. Case closed.


Unknown 8:02 AM  

Rex's comment (@ 7:43) made me suspect even more strongly that kibitz, in its everyday usage, had left the card table almost completely -- even if the dictionary hasn't caught up with that fact. Google helps. A search for "was kibitzing," e.g., produces a catalog of results that hardly ever reference a card game. You're more likely to see chess, family affairs, political lobbying, and computer programming.

In fact, cards only comes up regularly when the word appear in entries for online dictionaries -- or discussion of online dictionaries. So, look that one up in your Funk & Wagnalls.

Or your Webster's -- which, perhaps, stands as our real NOAH'S ARK.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

I am just beginning to think about puzzle construction so I appreciated today's explanation.

I also thought this puzzle had a bit more zing to it than most Mondays. I guessed correctly, but I don't use or see the word naif and I knew nothing about cellos (now I do).

The word of the day for me is pink-slipped - it sounds so innoucuous. And the cross of the day for me is NSA/blinddate since the country was on a blind date with them for quite a while.
(Political news junkies see the world differently than others.)

And finally, some years ago I went to an exhibit featuring Degas ballerinas; it was simply breathtaking.

Orange 8:40 AM  

IIRC, "kibitz" is pretty much always a one-B word. Isn't it just the kibbutz that has two B's?

Alex Greenberg 8:41 AM  

In case anyone didn't notice, the clue, "Are, in Argentina" is way misleading. "Esta" means "is." I had "eres" there for a while, which means "(you) are," as in "Eres una buena persona," "You are a good person."

miguel 8:50 AM  

?Como esta usted? means "how is you now?" jeez. Let is go. ESTA is acceptable.

allan 8:51 AM  

Maybe it's my age, but I thought this puzzle was exceptionally easy, even for a Monday. My only real stumble was CIA instead of NSA. This made eensy more difficult than it should have been.

I, too, thought there was a double 'b' in kibitz, because in my world, the single 'b' makes the first 'i' long.

@Alex Greenberg: Como esta usted? This issue was addressed earlier in the post.

Can't wait for Passover so we can all sit around the seder table and kibitz.

JannieB 8:59 AM  

Curiously, at bridge tournaments, many people gather round to watch the pros play. They are referred to as kibitzers (often accenting the second syllable) but there are severe penalties involved if they speak.

I thought this was a really elegant Monday puzzle - and I have no problem with the medium rating. Only took a tad bit longer than my usual time. Well done.

joho 9:11 AM  

Great Monday puzzle!

My only quibble was HEHE ... which I'd spell either heehee or hehheh. OHSO minor nitpick.

Wonderful job Timothy Powell and Nancy Solomon!

janie 9:31 AM  

>IIRC, "kibitz" is pretty much always a one-B word. Isn't it just the kibbutz that has two B's?

actually (and as acme points out), KIBITZER *is* acceptable in a 2-B variation. ditto KIBITZ, of course. this from leo rosten (the joys of yiddish), among others.

terrific monday puzzle -- full of surprises, not only in the scabbly letters, but the words they appear in. nice!

happy chinese new year, all --


mac 9:34 AM  

I thought this was a great start of the week. A few slowdowns, like eat at for 1A, and zithar with an a, but all was easily fixed. Never heard of Nerts, but it was unavoidable because of the crosses.

@Rex, interesting remarks about different constructions. I think more and more of us are thinking of trying our hand at "compiling", so these pearls are very welcome. Have to give up another part of my life, first, though....

I'm not the greatest Stephen King fan, with the exception of the novellas "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Body" ("Stand by Me"). Love both movies, as well.

I saw "Show Boat" some years ago in New York, and my son and I ended up in a group of about 20 Dutch theater lovers who had just gotten off the plane!

@Allan: thank you so much for yesterday's serenade.....

allan 9:44 AM  

@Rex: I thought your segue between Mr. Lee and River Phoenix was brilliant. Was rushed earlier and forgot to mention that.

chefbea 9:46 AM  

Thought this was a fine monday puzzle.

My father was an avid card player - bridge and gin - and he always used the word kibitz.

Getting ready for super bowl party this sunday. Lots of snacks, chili and maybe try those "red" brownies that were mentioned a while back

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

When I'm distrustful of something (17A), I'm LEARY of it. If I'm looking lustfully at someone, I'm LEERY.

Related problem: is there any mnemonic or linguistic principle that helps in choosing among various spellings of: O'Neal, O'Neall, O'Neil, O'Neill?

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Re KIBITZ--It gave me pause as well to have this associated with a card game, because I have heard this word used many times, but never in reference to any card game. Just meaning to give unsolicited advice; to chat in general. Apparently the card game scenario was the original meaning, but it's hardly used that way anymore. So it sounds like non-Jews consulted a dictionary for "accuracy" and actually wound up getting a fossilized usage from out-of-date sources. Card players, do you beg to differ?

Ulrich 10:50 AM  

A very fine Monday puzzle, to me, except (of course)...

... for the umlaut in Österreich--this is plain mean on the part of the constructors as we know that an umlaut will NOT appear in an answer (b/c it would require the same umlaut in the cross)--a complaint of mine since Noah built his ark.

Back to the puzzle: I really like these repeated-clue puzzles (I know others don't) b/c they illustrate the flexibility and redundancies in a language, even if they do not help at all in solving.

Rex Parker 11:01 AM  

Coincidentally, I just did a 14/13/14 puzzle that got around the construction problem I delineated in my second paragraph. It involves some very crafty grid manipulation, but it works beautifully - not surprisingly, it's a Patrick Berry puzzle (Chronicle of Higher Education, Fri. Jan. 23 - accessible here)


HudsonHawk 11:06 AM  

I liked the long down answers better than the theme, but a good Monday puzzle overall. Not crazy about STAIR as a singular given the clue. "The elevator is busted, I'm going to take the STAIR." What am I missing?

Rex, I also liked the snowmen, although I was hoping for the SNL parody ads for Bad Idea Jeans:

"Nah, I didn't use a condom. I mean, when will I ever get back to Haiti?"

JannieB 11:08 AM  

@Steve I - see my post above. Bridge players kibitz all the time. It is very much "in the language".

PlantieBea 11:21 AM  

I thought this was an excellent Monday puzzle. Loved the zither, cello, and reed crossings.

@Rex: Thanks for the construction comments.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

@jannieb--I don't play cards, so I wouldn't know. You learn something new every day. I just think the word's main meaning nowadays is broader than card games, so I'm surprised to see it clued as such on a Monday.

In general, I thought this was a tougher than usual Monday. I usually do Mon. across only, consecutively, and I found it very hard to do that way this time. It was still an easy puzzle, but not Mon.-easy.

edith b 11:52 AM  

I stumbled over a lot of different things on what should have been an easy Monday. It didn't help that I mis-saw the word "got" in 20A and couldn't parse what was wanted. It didn't help that I coudn't figure out what was required at the O*SO/*EHE cross.

I persevered, though. I had several other small problems that may have been terminal in an end-of -week puzzle but I was able to to plow through. I didn't know MRLEE or SEABED which prevented me from seeing BLINDDATE.

I was able to puzzle it out, though and returned to the Upper MIdwest and entered OHSO to finish.

I discovered I was right when I came here but it was little consolation at the 1 hour mark.

SethG 11:57 AM  

Wow, can't believe it took until 11:06 for someone to bring up the SNL skit. Nice work HH!

Also can't believe people still don't use dictionaries.

Ross G-Whiz 12:12 PM  

I typically balk at sports star/coach names but I was happy to see Big Nate Thurmond make a play today because his BBQ place is down the street from my house. I recommend the 3-point combo with brisket, links and memphis pork.

HudsonHawk 12:22 PM  

@SethG, thanks for the link. Still funny--and hopefully I will paraphrase a little better in the future. But I'm a little LEERY of people that use dictionaries.

ArtLvr 12:29 PM  

Happy Chinese New Year -- I'm told it's the year of the OXen.

Rex, you wrote about E-coli and "Eboli" -- but the second is Ebola: the hemorrhagic fever caused by the Ebola virus —called also Ebola Fever.

Someone mentioned the spelling "leary" so I looked it up -- LEERY is preferred in M-W, but leary gets second mention...And I didn't care for the HEHE spelling either, but didn't check it out. Wondered about KIBITZ with one B, but you all are right. The other one that sometimes looks wrong is "renege"...

Turner Classic Movies ran Showboat this past weekend -- what great songs! It holds up so beautifully after all this time!

I too played a cello with FHOLEs... Nice puzzle!


Unknown 12:36 PM  

What with NERTS and FHOLE, neither of which I'd heard of, I thought for sure I had a mistake somewhere but I clicked 'submit' anyways and got my 'thank you for playing'. I was quite surprised, since I thought the FHOLE might be a HOAX.

Now I know better of course, and will remember.

Other possible raciness in the puzzle (if you really try hard): TRYST, SHAG (the brit version), THIGH, and maybe TREMOR.

Margaret 12:37 PM  

A fun puzzle. I found it more challenging than the usual Monday -- probably why it was so fun. Plus you have to love kibitz, zither, etc. When I first got OKING at the end of the second theme clue, I thought it might be WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?

I didn't know what a FHOLE (which I read as all one word) until I got here. But here is my favorite image of an f-hole:

ArtLvr 12:42 PM  

Sorry, Rex -- I didn't get the above posted until a couple of hours after I wrote it, and now I see you added a comment about Eboli and Ebola...


Margaret 12:46 PM  

I just saw this today or I'd have posted it yesterday...

"There was the person who sent ten different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh.

No pun in ten did."

BTW, the Man Ray painting of my last post is a visual pun. Anyone know why?

deerfencer 1:23 PM  

Re Rye's Playland, it's a modestly famous 1920's art-deco waterfront amusement park on Long Island Sound that's been used as a backdrop in several well-known movies, including Big and a 1990's Woody Allen flick, Sweet Lowdown.

Coolest ride: the ancient Dragon Coaster, a mostly wooden-braced structure that I believe is one of the oldest rollercoasters in the country (built in 1929). Westchester County has operated Playland for many years at a modest loss, and many New Yorkers regard it (rightfully IMO) as an historical treasure. There's also a decent-sized indoor skating rink there that used to serve as a practice rink for the NY Rangers, and a fairly decent sandy beach to boot, all open to the public.

Doug 1:42 PM  

@sethg: Thanks for the link to SNL. Hulu is only accessible if your ISP is in America, go figure. They must be worried about Chinese copyright infringers easily downloading for The Best of Sara Palein DVD. Speaking of China, Happy Lunar New Year to all, and may the Year of the Ox create good VIBES for you all. The Ox among other attributes "...has a very logical mind and is extremely systematic in whatever they do, though they have a tremendous imagination and an unparalleled appreciation for beauty." If that isn't a definition of a constructor (or blog host!) I don't know what is.

If 17A was LARRY instead of LEERY it would have been a M*A*S*H tour de force: Larry Linville (Frank), Loretta SWIT and ALAN Alda. My first acting role was in M*A*S*H The Play, back in Toronto and I just reconnected with the guy who played Hawkeye, via Facebook of course.

I know SEDER from Curb Your Enthusiasm--Thank you Larry David. May you KIBITZ for many years.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

Happy Year of the Ox! If only I could remember to stop writing rat on all my checks.

chefbea 1:57 PM  

@anonymous 1:46 lol. that was priceless. Sounds like something andrea would say

allan 2:24 PM  

@Margaret: 1 of two reasons, the neck of the violin is too short, or the violin has a crack in it. ;>).

jeff in chicago 2:45 PM  

I don't have anything to add to the puzzle discussion, so, as is my wont, I will tell a story.

"Ol' Man River" conjurs a funny memory. In high school band I played baritone horn. You know, the less-glamorous trombone that has valves, is curled differently and sits on your lap. Baritones and tubas are the forgotten instruments - always in the back row and never featured.

My senior year the band director chooses a medly from "Show Boat," and lo and behold, "Ol Man River" is a baritone solo. I sit first chair, but only because Tom Queen is a junior. He is much more talented than I, but I'm a senior (and band treasurer). Rehearsals go well, and concert night finally comes. I suddenly am completely overcome with stage fright. I turn to Tom just before the solo and say: "You need to play the solo. If you don't play it, it won't get played." He plays it fine and no one in the audience knows anything is going on.

I will never forget the look on the director's face as Tom was playing that solo. (Mr. McCleaster - you were a great teacher and I learned a lot from you!)

Then I end up being an actor, and I've never had a moment of stage fight while acting. Go figure.

evil doug 3:00 PM  

I like f-hole even more than a-hole, musical explanation notwithstanding. I wish b-movie, d-cup and g-spot were here, too.


Ulrich 3:34 PM  

@evil: At least, t-squares are gone, so is k-mart (or not?), and there are people who doubt that g-spots ever existed. But the q-tip survives, even in xword puzzles.

Shamik 4:04 PM  

Easy puzzle...and a lovely Monday construction.

@chefbea: Yay for red food this Sunday!

Back to studying. :-(

Doug 4:19 PM  

@ulrich: K-Mart merged with Sears in 2005. "K-Mart" still exists as a store brand and there are well over 1,000 of them throughout the U.S. I visited K-Mart stores in Prague and Singapore in the 1990s when they were trying to (poorly) globalize as Walmart was clobbering them.

I just looked up K-Tel out of interest and found that they are a Canadian firm. I am SO embarrassed.

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

even though miguel is right about the "how ARE you" therefore "cómo ESTA usted" validation, it still sounds awfully wrong to clue it like that. How are you is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of ARE in Spanish. My first thoughts are always: SON, ERES, ESTAN, ESTAS... and much later the formal way.
But then again, who cares? The use of Spanish often seems so arbitrary...

jae 4:31 PM  

@andrea -- I hesitated on NERTS because I really thought it ended in Z. And, the main reason I knew it was because Frank Burns would utter it occasionally on M*A*S*H.

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

ARE would have been acceptable as a clue for ESTA if it had referred to any other Spanish-speaking country, but not Argentina. They don't use USTED, but VOS, as in "Como estas vos?". So in Argentina, it would be ESTAS, not ESTA.

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

Easy, breezy, wonderful puzzle that had some interesting scrabbly fill to boot.

Nancy is the real queen of Mondays with over 30 fantastic constructions in the last decade or so. My hats off to someone who has consistently delivered (and with the best mentoring record, I hear) - even before the blogs became a popular kibitzing forum.


Orange 5:51 PM  

Some dictionaries decline to give credence to the "leary" spelling. Probably because someone using that spelling looks like they have trouble spelling, huh? My Random House Unabridged defines "leary" by sending you to the "leery" entry, and gives no mention of the "a" spelling at the main entry. "Leery" isn't defined as having anything to do with the creepy-look sort of "leer," but if anyone's looking for an adjective for that, I think "leering" may suffice.

@SethG, so many people are allergic to Google, too.

Anonymous 5:52 PM  

@Cheryl said... "Other possible raciness in the puzzle (if you really try hard): TRYST, SHAG (the brit version), THIGH, and maybe TREMOR."

Also Hotlips Houlihan and, er, um, 28D.

-----> Joe in NYC

Margaret 6:50 PM  

@ allan -- both good guesses about the Man Ray image but no cigar.

The original nude is by Ingres who was a masterful painter but who was also mad about playing the violin. So much so that the term "violon d'Ingres" came into common (French) usage as a general term for any hobby or avocation, particularly if one is very good at it. So Man Ray created a literal (figurative?) "violon d'Ingres."

Another French lesson for Seth G.!

fikink 7:20 PM  

OMD! You can tell he hung out with Duchamp.

(Seth G: OMD = oh mon Dieu!)

Wasn't "no cigar" Groucho, though?

SethG 7:42 PM  

@all y'all: my first answer yesterday was ETATS.

Bayartai, margaash uulzaya!

Anonymous 7:48 PM  


@chef bea
First I'm demoted as Queen of Mondays by JohnG (altho he's right, but it still seem pointed!)and now someone's recycled Chinese New Year joke is getting pinned on me...
FHOLE, KMART, TSQUARE...ok, I'm on it!

Ulrich 8:03 PM  

@margaret: Thx for the skinny on those f-holes--I always thought that there was not more to them than there is to the mustache Duchamp drew on the Mona Lisa--or are you going to tell us now that Leonardo was a mustache fetishist?

miguel 9:07 PM  

A line
B movie
C sharp
D base II
E coli
F you
G spot
H e double sticks
I man
J lo
K nine
M C Hammer
N sync
O boy
P diddy
Q tip
R c cola
S sr
T rex
U thant
v W
X men
Y mca
Z car

as easy as ABC

fikink 9:12 PM  

@miguel, the farmercist and I are on the floor! too funny!
the best was, amid the morass, "U Thant"!

fergus 9:35 PM  

Quite late in the day, I just had a fun solve. The STAIR issue was the only blemish. Been waiting for that little zone-out the puzzle provides, and this was a good one.

With my clipboard and pen on the couch, I seek the ritual meditation, which comes to me at different times on each day of the week with some intrinsic yet not steadfast rules.

Anonymous 9:47 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, but definitely think it was Tuesday-level. I had a several cross outs of my original entries, which rarely happens on a Monday.

I know "kibitzer" from chess, more from the literature on the game than from actually hearing the word.. It is a term that I think was more common in chess 40-50 years ago than it is today. In a chess sense, kibitzers can be quiet onlookers of casual games (which might well involve betting), but that goes against their essential nature, which is to offer loud and often misguided advice during the game (antisocial behavior, of course) and after the game (more tolerated).

I don't think that you could have a kibitzer at a high-level chess tournament -- at least I've rarely, if ever, seen the word used in this context.

fergus 10:05 PM  

Miguel, I like your cleverness.

From the Wallace Stevens sidetracked digression the other day, I wanted to insert this poem,

Snow Man


One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Robert of San Francisco 11:19 PM  

I should like to point out that all of the theme answers to today's puzzle can be read a second way:

20A: Instruction for use of Kleenex tissue ("Let snot go there")

38A: Comment upon recognizing an old female friend ("You must be Jo King!")

52A: John F. Kennedy's recollection of his insistence on remaining bare-headed on a chilly Inauguration Day ("I didn't heart hat.")

Sorry about that...

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

mi-guel! mi-guel! mi-guel!!!!!!!!

See, now we're talking!!!!! we have to figure out a way to make this into something! Seriously!

@Robert in San Francisco


This is the reason I enjoy the blog more than the puzzle these days!!!!!
Where are you here in Frisco?

Ok, Yiddish Scrabble-kopfs, co-constructors/conspirators, fellow Franciscans, write to me as I don't want to take up further Rexspace!

fergus 12:43 AM  

Andrea, you're as much a nut as I am, I've come to realize. Thankfully our focus is twice Venn circumscribed.

ArtLvr 12:50 AM  

@ Robert of SF -- Super puns, well spotted!

@ margaret -- many thanks for the visual pun of Man Ray's "Violon d'Ingres"... I don't have a good one to trade you.

@ acme -- you're up too late for most of us on the right coast! But you can try your hand at my idea of a rebus xword using a lip as in lipstick, lip service, flip one's lid, etc.


Anonymous 1:32 AM  

Fergus, loved the poem; always love a
W.S. "There is a jar in Tennessee..."
Love it when Rex goes all symbolic, too.
This puzzle was all that and...never

Anonymous 1:44 AM  

I hate it when I misquote Wallace Stevens!
Sorry, sorry. "I placed a jar..."
That's better. Off to bed!

fergus 1:53 AM  

... where the jar was placed
may be consequential, but how it
was might have greater consequence

which is why we like this poet guy

Anonymous 4:39 AM  

Thought this was a usual Monday-difficulty-level puzzle, but it was fun to get.

As often is the case, the blog is even more interesting.

Thanks to Rex for the "Mr. Lee" video and all of the music videos that are posted.

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