SUNDAY, Jan. 18, 2009 - R. Ross (Baggins portrayer in "Lord of the Rings" / 1976 Connery/Hepburn film / HBO sports sitcom)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "High Five" - answers to the 9 starred clues all contain the letters O, B, A, M, and A, in order (though not consecutively - that would be next to impossible)

Word of the Day: NAMU - only the second orca (killer whale) captured and displayed in an aquarium exhibit; also the subject of a 1966 film, "Namu: My Best Friend"; SHAMU was provided as a female companion, but they didn't get along, so SHAMU (the only orca I know by name) was relocated to Sea World in San Diego [wikipedia]

Try to get this song out of your head:

Another day, another Obama puzzle. This one pales somewhat by comparison with D.J. Kahn's election-related state rebus puzzle from last week. My only quibble with this puzzle is that the letters from OBAMA's name occasionally intervene within the progression from O to B to A to M to A. What I mean: in MOBILE ALABAMA, you have OBAAAMA, in ROBERT MCNAMARA, you have OBMAMA, in COWBOY HAT MAKER, you have OBOAMA - but with the five others, you have a perfect O-B-A-M-A progression with no extra or intervening Os, Bs, As, or Ms. It's a small matter, but I found it mildly distracting. Maybe there are only 5 phrases in the world with a perfect O-B-A-M-A progression. I don't know. I haven't tried to formulate any. I did, however, try to formulate theme answers in which the letters O-B-A-M-A appear consecutively. Here's what I have so far:

  • [Indignant response to my uncle] - "I, BOB, AM ANGRY!"
  • [Crimson Tide cheer] - "GO BAMA!"
  • [Steal from a bullfighter] - ROB A MATADOR

Only a few more to go and I'll be all set.

Theme answers:

  • 23A: "That" something in an Arlen/Mercer tune (old black magic)
  • 25A: Kyoto Treaty topic (global climate) - yes, WARMING fits too. Did you find that out the hard way, as I did?
  • 36A: Links accessory (golf ball marker)
  • 51A: Stetson, for one (cowboy hat maker)
  • 67A: Berlin production ("God Bless America") - nice touch
  • 89A: 1976 Connery/Hepburn film ("Robin and Marian")
  • 98A: Kennedy/Johnson cabinet member (Robert McNamara) - "The Fog of War" is a great documentary
  • 120A: Hank Aaron's hometown (Mobile, Alabama)
  • 112A: She played the Bong girl in "Goldfinger" (Honor Blackman) - OK, I thought the "black" in "old black magic" was just coincidental, but please don't try to tell me BLACKMAN was an accident. Was it? HONOR BLACK MAN!!?! For a puzzle celebrating Obama's inauguration day!? That is the kind of genius (or coincidence) that takes a puzzle from "ho hum" to legendary. O man. Talk about your plausible deniability ... "What? What? She's an actress. Honor Blackman. How is that code? That's her name." Offended white people should send their angry letters to the Times, which is clearly promoting a radical black agenda (whatever that is)

Not a lot to say about the puzzle's non-thematic elements. Once again I was helped out by a raft of pop culture gimmes, including ALFRE Woodard (31A: Actress Woodard), "Time is on MY SIDE" (46D: What "time is on" in a 1964 Rolling Stones hit), Joe PESCI (55D: Joe of several "Lethal Weapon" movies), Axel FOLEY (62D: Det. Axel _____ of "Beverly Hills Cop"), "OB LA Di, OB LA Da" (113D: Di or da preceder in a Beatles song) and, my wife's favorite scifi hunk, Scott BAKULA (40D: "Quantum Leap" star Scott). The funny thing is, I was all set to write about my wife and her affection for "Quantum Leap," when I hear this exclamation from the next room: "QUANTUM LEAP!" HA ha. She tells me that the only reason she got excited is that she knew I would make a big deal out of its being in the puzzle since I apparently have a very exaggerated sense of how much that show means to her. She probably mentioned that she like it one time in her whole life, but since she's the only person I've ever known who watched the show, and since she is still in many ways inscrutable at the level of pop culture proclivities, I tend to latch on to the few things I can confirm. And I can confirm that she once said she liked "Quantum Leap." And that ... is my "Quantum Leap" story.

Further items:

  • 30A: He played a gas station attendant on "The Andy Griffith Show" (Nabors) - back (but not black) by popular demand, the soulful stylings of Jim NABORS:

  • 105A: Kind of position (fetal) - had FIRST, then FATAL (?)
  • 2D: Connecticut governor Jodi (Rell) - mega mystery. RELL is to the NW what NAMU is to the S (114D: Movie whale)
  • 7D: Baggins portrayer in "The Lord of the Rings" (Holm) - I do not remember Ian HOLM's being in the movie, but wife assures me he was there.
  • 1A: HBO sports sitcom ("Arli$$") - Is the "$" a legal character? It should be.
  • 10D: Lead provider (galena) - clunk. Not a word to me. I'd sooner believe it's some Russian lady's name. Apparently it is "by far the most important ore of lead."
  • 13D: Ballerina Karsavina (Tamara) - could have been GALENA, as I say. If you had told me TAMARA was an ore and GALENA a ballerina, I'm not sure I would have doubted you for a second.
  • 17D: Mil. medals (DSCs) - mmm, random abbreviations. Always fun.
  • 43D: Felipe and Alfonso (reyes) - confused for a second, but then realized (I think) that they were both kings - but then shouldn't "and" be "y"?
  • 52D: Lux. neighbor (Belg.) - the Belgians are clearly plotting a slow, steady takeover of the NYT puzzle. Yesterday, the Smurfs (it's in the clue, not the answer, syndication people - don't get angry). Today, this. I had NETH.
  • 84D: Psychiatrist Berne and others (Erics) - Is he somebody? He's TAMARA GALENA to me. Apparently he created something called "transactional analysis" and then died at 60.
  • 86D: 1930s ring champ (Baer) - crossword standard, but I still like the name.
  • 100D: Bald condition (no hair) - a friend of mine talked me out of putting GO BARE in a puzzle, and I have to say, GO BARE (e.g. [One option at a clothing optional beach], [Show skin], etc.) is way more of a real phrase than this is. When does anyone say "no hair," unless it's concluding the sentence "That guy's got ..." Perhaps it's the imagined response to a hypothetical "What musical should we revive?" query.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of Cro$$World


Jeffrey 10:03 PM  

I think TAMARA GALENA is the name of the Muppet with Jim Nabors.

James Nabors has OBAMA in it backwards.

Robin and Kato (Bruce LEE) reappear today.

It all means something deep, which I'll leave to others to explain. I can't do everything for you, people!

jae 11:02 PM  

An enjoyable and easy Sun. to cap off the weekend. Yep, I went with WARMING and also ROUGH for ROCKY. I had similar thoughts about BLACKMAGIC and HONORBLACKMAN. I think they covered her nearly nude body in gold paint in the movie.

Discovering the theme was fun, change is good!

Anonymous 11:07 PM  

While Berne's book that introduced the concept of transactional analysis, "Games People Play," was a huge best seller in the 1960s, the book that was even more of an enormous success and left a mark on many of us who nevertheless managed to survive the 1970s with our psyches intact, was "I'm OK, You're OK" by Thomas Harris.

In terms of your last observation, I'm at that age where one might use the phrase 'going bare," but I would certainly prefer the description that I have almost 'no hair' (of course, not including my beard).

nanpilla 11:07 PM  

OK, I admit it. I loved Quantum Leap, and watched Enterprise just because of Scott BAKULA.
I also loved STRATEGO.
Thought GLOBAL CLIMATE was a bit forced until I figured out the theme. Overall decent, but not exciting puzzle.

However, we had a shout out to BEA
and beets in a clue.

Been baking bread all day, inspired by this month's Gourmet cover. Yum!

ceb 11:55 PM  

I did not have to take any meprOBAMAte to do this puzzle.

Anonymous 12:01 AM  

Certain Canadian parent: ManitOBA MAma.

Hey, I tried!

George NYC 12:16 AM  

I'm sorry, but I thought this "theme" was too stretched, too obscure, not really worked out. When I can finish a Sunday puzzle and not understand the theme, something is wrong. And in this case, I don't think it was me. Looking at the grid now, after reading Rex, I can appreciate some skill in getting OBAMA in the theme answers. But come on, the spacing is so random! And "High Five"?! Just give the news please. Also, Braun is a shaver, not a razor. And who has ever used the phrase "global climate"? It is eather global warming or climate change. Lazy editing here, Will.

George NYC 12:38 AM  
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Orange 1:25 AM  

@George, we're not honoring him as a man, we're honoring him as a person. The maleness is beside the point. (And I don't think Obama would say that his blackness is beside the point. It's part of who he is.) But seriously, it is a rather surprising entry for an OBAMA-themed puzzle.


@Rex, I just blogged about my husband got me hooked on Quantum Leap. Scott Bakula and the guy who played The Pretender (the character named Jarod with an O, who's been in crosswords), Michael somebody, occupy the same piece of real estate in my brain.

There's a Galena, Illinois, that produced tons of lead ore in the 1800s, and some Chicago-area people like to vacation there.

Matt Ginsberg 2:05 AM  

There's also MANITOBA MAPLE, which is what the Canadians call Box Elder.

Matt Ginsberg 2:09 AM  

And while we're at it ...


santafefran 2:30 AM  

IDIDIT which is more than I can say for Friday and Saturday!

However, I didn't get the theme til coming here, but I often miss the theme which is one reason that I appreciate Rex and this blog.

We Obamanos here in the Southwest are cheering!

INHASTE I typed in GLOBAL WARMING and never heard of NAMU or HONOR BLACKMAN--got them from the crosses.

OTB-another WTF until I googled and discovered it is OFF-TRACK BETTING.

Anonymous 4:07 AM  

I thought I'd defend Will from the charge of "lazy editing" as to "global climate." I am quite confident that he considered the awkwardness of the phrase, the difficulty of editing around it, and the overall quality of the puzzle. One may disagree with the substantive choice to go ahead with the puzzle with that phrase in it, but I really doubt that laziness is a legitimate charge. Missing a nuance that makes a fill clue be technically inaccurate may be lazy, but making a balanced choice is not. (I don't mean to be combative; I just feel strongly that "lazy" is a harsh and inaccurate word for Will.)

Anonymous 6:31 AM  


Rex: I'm pretty sure that HB was a BOND girl, not a BONG girl (At least not in Goldfinger!)

@jae: HB didn't get covered in gold paint...that happens in the film before HB ever shows up!


Rex Parker 7:30 AM  

There should *be* a Bong Girl.

George, I'm stunned that you (of all people) would take offense. That whole passage was completely tongue-in-cheek. I'm wondering what part came off as serious.

I do love (in that perverse way that I love when words do stuff you don't expect them to) that conspiracy theorists could make a lot out of this puzzle. And that HONOR BLACKMAN reads like a command from on high.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

How about:
Crowd a brothel manager - mOB A MAdam

ArtLvr 8:58 AM  

Postprandial mixed drink? - carOB-AMAretto liqueur

joho 9:25 AM  

Very easy. Not especially interesting. My only slow down was I had kISSME instead of MISSME. It didn't help that I've never heard of SCREEDS. But once I changed the "K" to "M" CMS became clear.

The most entertaining thing about this puzzle is reading everybody's own Obama inclusive phrases.

Unknown 9:40 AM  
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Unknown 9:41 AM  

The attention from the celebrity press could be called hearthrOB AMAzement.
His collection of advisors makes him a naBOB AMAsser
His first White House outdoor cookout could make him a kabOB AMAteur.

The puzzle was fun and pretty easy, which I felt I deserved after the difficulties I had solving this week. I would have had my fastest Sunday, but for Limp as 'arag" 'hen' for PLY and 'iou' for OTB.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

@ ArtLvr - where were you at 3 AM while I was driving myself nuts to meet RP's challenge? What I came up with was Baskin Robbins' flavor of the month, in honor of the inauguration - tada - "carOB-AMAretto!" Curses, scooped again (so to speak).

ROLANDO (RO) BLACKMAN would have been another good theme answer - All Star guard for the Dallas Mavericks and probably still the only NBA player ever born in Panama. Not a HAL GREER (see puzzle # 1129) but a very good player.

Michael Leddy 9:48 AM  

I'm with George NYC: I completed the puzzle without figuring out the theme (and after struggling in the Northwest).

I really liked "Berlin production" at the center of things. OLDBLACKMAGIC and HONORBLACKMAN seem kinda tone-deaf to me in an Obama-themed puzzle.

ArtLvr 9:55 AM  
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ArtLvr 9:57 AM  

@ Retired_Chemist -- I'll swap you a scoop of yours for a sip of mine! Especially at 3 a.m.

Philly, you've outdone us all... NabOB AMAsser indeed, starting with Oprah? Thanks a bunch!


Anonymous 10:17 AM  

This puzzle shows a bit of sfumato when it comes to dignifying and personifying our new prez, tho "God Bless America" helps balance the scales. I would have liked something more epic for this epic occasion.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

@ ArtLvr - it's a deal!

HudsonHawk 10:26 AM  

There should be a BONG Girl.

I agree with Rex on the consistency in the theme. Just felt a little off, though I did like the puzzle (the write-up and comments have been even better, though). My quibbles are with 36A and 51A, which seem forced. To me, Stetson is a HAT MAKER, while any golfer would just call the accessory a BALL MARKER. I would have preferred several of the suggestions made here.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Useless theme. Got the whole puzzle done and still didn't understand the theme. Even after it was told to me, instead of an "ah-ha!" my reaction was, "huh?"

JoefromMtVernon 10:30 AM  

What was the biggest gimmie for me was Hank Aaron's Hometown (Mobile, Alabama). What San Pedro de Macoris was to baseball in the 80's and '90's, Moblie was in the '60's. The late Tommy Agee, as well as Cleon Jones, came from Mobile.

Like Rex, I wrote in Global Warming (who says global climate?) and still had the gimmick; even though warming reversed the m and a.

This was a record...finally broke 25 minutes...which means I get to do laundry that much sooner.

My word of the day was newel, which was my last word to get.


Alex S. 10:32 AM  

Theme was very lame.

Do like the Quantum Leap. Recently watched the whole series on DVD from Netflix. Most of the time when I rewatch shows I liked as a kid (though an older one in this case, from about 15-18) I find confirmation that I was stupid kid. Quantum Leap held up pretty well.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  


How about

Throw a DVD about Mozart LOB AMAdeus

Ulrich 10:55 AM  

I agree about the ho-humness of the theme: Spent almost as much time after doing the puzzle as I spent doing it (not really--pure hyperbole) to figure out if there was more to the high five title than the occurrence of the five OBAMA letters in the theme answers--I read everybody's comment, and apparently nobody has found anything deeper--shucks.

Things were not helped by the theme of the mag. as a whole, Obama's people, a gallery of "portraits" done by a hot-shot photographer who apparently thinks that the mug shot is the highest form of photographic portraiture (or, perhaps, hates Obama and was trying to make those amassed nabobs look as unattractive as possible--with one exception)--sheesh.

PlantieBea 10:57 AM  

Pretty easy, and I could see the theme even as I started writing GLOBAL WARMING (quickly erased!). Really, could there have been any other theme for this puzzle? The only ROCKY place for me was in ROBIN AND MARIAN territory where I not only didn't know the movie, but had to guess at BAER, ERIN, and SCREEDS (???). I also wanted FREE for Ready for Service instead of ONEA all of which eventually resolved this AM.

I love the alternative OBAMA answers posted here. I figured it'd be next to impossible to make them consecutive.

Leon 11:00 AM  
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Shamik 11:03 AM  

Aaaaarrrggghhh!!! I've spent the weekend trying to solve geocaching puzzle caches ( other obsessive hobby). My brain is aching from all the creative OBAMA clues y'all are throwing in...and loving every painful entry!

Didn't get the theme 'til I got here, but oh well. Laughed at the HONORBLACKMAN cleverness. Way cool. Not offensive. And yes, we honor the person, as Orange said. It's hard to be a left-wing Commie pinko aging hippie-wannabe in Arizona...but I try.

Did BEA have anything to do with the beet answer? I expected a whole slew of beet comments and saw only one 'til mine.

Always happy to see a Muppets video. Thanks, Rex! A general question I've always wondered. I've heard Jim Nabors sing. I've heard Jim Nabors talk...always like Gomer Pyle. Did the man have a different speaking voice similar to his singing voice? Is there a clip of that anywhere?!?!?!?

IOU for OTB (shows you how often I win)
AHA and OHO for OLE

And the song stuck in my head will be O-BLA-DI, O-BLA-DA.

Go Cardinals!

Parshutr 11:10 AM  

ELIE Googled her after I got it from crosses.
Embarrassed to admit I had some hesitation adding GOLF to the BALLMARKER answer.
Agree with others about the theme.
Best thing about Honor Blackman in that pic was the interchange
Blackman: "I'm Pussy Galore!"
Connery: "Of course you are."
Connery used that line in at least two more movies (Rising Sun, answering the statement "I'm a black belt", and The Rock, answering Nic Cage's statement that he's a weapons expert.)
Finally, I'd ID Shirley Eaton as the Bond Girl in that movie. Pussy was an enemy.

chefbea 11:13 AM  

Never got the theme til I came here. I figured "why look for five letters in each clue"

Why is lob an easy question?

Jodi Rell a gimme. she's our governor

@nanpilla of course saw the beets but where is Bea
Going to make bread today also since we are snowed in again. But we are having a heat wave...its 32 degrees

chefbea 11:31 AM  

@shamik your Cardinals use to be mine...St. Louis

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Not a bad puzzle, though it does suffer the bad luck of being in the shadow of last week's Yes We Kahn production. Still, today's entire NYTimes Magazine is Obama-themed, so it makes sense for the puzzle to be as well.

ceb already noted meprOBAMAte; this seems to be the only single word with the letters consecutive, and thingAMABOb (a variant of "thingamajig") the only one with the letters in reverse. It's been often noted during the past few years that AMABO = "I shall love" in Latin, whence the easy palindrome "amabo Obama" (I've also seen the version "Obamam amabo").

From the other side of the aisle, the only common phrase on the NPL wordlist that has OBAMA in order with *no* letters consecutive, and no other O's, B's, A's, or M's, is "not by any means"; other examples with extra MOAB letters include "obtain by fair means or foul" (that's a phrase? Anyway we don't need the "or foul" to find the theme letters) and "Who wants to be a millionaire?".

The list also includes "cOmBinAtorial MathemAtics", which reminds me I should get back to work...


Ulrich 11:44 AM  

To those who need a minute's respite from OBAMA: We talked some days ago about the changing fortunes of "Adolf" as a given name and learned what's hidden behind ADIDAS. Well, reports of the demise of said name may be premature--for those who haven't heard this yet:

Adolf Hitler - the three year old, that is - is back in the news. According to New Jersey police, the state's Division of Youth and Family Services took Adolf and his two sisters, one-year-old Joyce Lynn Aryan Nation Campbell and 8-month-old Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, from their parents' home Tuesday night....Little Hilter and his parents got their first fifteen minutes of fame after a New Jersey supermarket refused to put his name on a birthday cake.

The funniest comment on the blog where I found this item: The Campbells try to create the real soup Nazi.

jae 12:00 PM  

@bob -- thanks for the clarification on the gold paint. It was late and I should have checked.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

I didn't much care for the ARLISS/RELL crossing, not knowing either the sitcom or the governor.

poc 12:32 PM  

I got the theme before even attempting to answer the puzzle. Five letters in order in the starred clues, I wonder what that could be, two days before Obama's inauguration, duh?

Not bad all the same. I actually liked OLDBLACKMAGIC and GODBLESSAMERICA, though I didn't notice the alternate reading of HONORBLACKMAN till Rex pointed it out.

BTW, The girl painted in gold in Goldfinger was Shirley Eaton, popular in Britain at the time but probably unknown to most Americans. Honor Blackman played Pussy Galore, a name to conjure with if ever there was one. She was also the companion to Steed in The Avengers series before Diana Rigg came along.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Finished the whole puzzle without getting the theme until reading the blog.

And once I discovered it, my thought is "who cares?"

It provided no help in solving since there were many examples where there were intervening repetitions.

I thought Will's presidential word puzzle in the "News of the Week in Review" section today was more fun and difficult.

In the puzzle whenever there was a word I didn't know, the crosses made it obvious. I never heard of ROBINANDMARIAN but had no problem getting it from the fills.

So Sunday was a let-down after strong Fri and Sat entries.

fikink 12:43 PM  

@ceb - meprOBAMAte! good one!

@Shamik - from one pinko to another: Keep the faith!

A totally uninspiring puzzle, IMO. Does it allow me to apply the word "meh"?

mac 12:43 PM  

@Ulrich: that is a riot!

Not hard, but I had to come to Rex's parlor to find out about the theme, just forgot to look, I guess didn't need it to solve. I'm wondering about the "High Five" title though, at some point so much was made of a gesture like it between Michelle and Barack.

@Rex, thanks for the Neth., but it doesn't ABUT Lux. I never thought of the "black" connection, maybe because I had Honor Brackman......

I also went by car to the airport, had climate warming and had "eon" for 11D. Odd how we had "inches" in the last few days, cms today, and we were talking about conversion.

@nanpilla: my January Gourmet has spaghetti and meatballs on the cover. Makes me think of some menu's in London, where spaghetti bolognese is called SpagBol. I'm not baking bread, I will be roasting chicken.

jubjub 12:48 PM  

So the dictionary tells me that definition #6 of pile is REACTOR, huh. Semi-related confusion, does anyone know what "Stack role" = NESS means? And the puzzle title "HIGH FIVE", I see that OBAMA has five letters, is that what it means?

I resisted putting in NOHAIR til the very end -- it just seemed too stupid :). Other qualms: ALEE and LEE in the same puzzle, NODEAR crossing NOI, ICEBAG (as a formerly oft-injured athlete, it was either a "bag of ice" or an "ice pack", to me at least).

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

jubjub -- NESS is Eliot Ness, a character Ness played in The Untouchables.

chefbea 12:54 PM  

@jujub Robert Stack played Eliot Ness

jeff in chicago 12:56 PM  

Crazy mythical warrior - NUTJOB AMAZON

Mafioso apprentice - HITJOB AMATEUR

Vegetable leftover collector - CORNCOB AMASSER

Oh...the puzzle? Ordinary. Forced. Meh.

Liked the repetition in IDIDIT. IRKSOME is a nice word. Also SCREEDS and SHERBET. Like the two "doctor" clues.

PlantieBea 12:57 PM  

@jubjub: according to my dictionary, pile or atomic pile refers to a nuclear reactor. News to me too.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

@Michael L . . agreed, the tone-deafness is awesome. We expected an intelligent pre-Inaugural puzzle. Wake up, Old Gray Man!!!

jeff in chicago 1:06 PM  

I wonder how many people submitted Obama-themed puzzles. There had to be a few. It would be interesting to see some of the rejects.

Kurisu 1:19 PM  

The only reason I know "stack role" is because NESS shows up so often in crosswords.

Yes, I did the GLOBAL WARMING thing first as well, but EDDA is a crossword-ese gimme so I was able to quickly correct that.

ADIDAS was one of my early answers but it took me so long to get any of the downs near it that I considered erasing it several times.

George NYC 1:57 PM  

Agree w/ Ulrich re the Magazine portraits. I feel bad for some of the victims...

George NYC 2:00 PM  

Rex, apologies for my over-reaction to the Blackman comment. I plead post-puzzle midnight grouchiness (who needs to be reminded of Robert McNamara in a NYT puzzle?). Removed.
Even after morning coffee(s), though, and having read through the comments (especially the clever OBAMA alternatives), I still find this puzzle a bit off, both in theme execution and some of the cluing. As others have pointed out, Honor B was not the Bond girl, but a baddie; no one says "hey, do you have an extra golf ball marker in your pocket?" etc. But what the hey. I had a dream last night that an airliner was floating down the Hudson...oh, wait... G

Kurisu 2:19 PM  

Actually I do; I guess I usually just call them "ball markers" but I typically use them when playing.

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

@Rex -- it's not terribly interesting, but I will note that there was one episode of Quantum Leap that was filmed on our alma mater's campus. It might have been the year after you graduated. I remember them putting lots of spanish moss in the trees to make it look like Mississippi or something.... and I remember watching that episode just to see our old stomping grounds.

treedweller 2:51 PM  

I liked the puzzle. This was the first Sunday in awhile that I didn't get an unhappy message back the first time I submitted due to either carelessness or ignorance. I actually spent some time after solving to figure out the theme. I had noticed the repeating OBM's, but had to study a moment to figure out what they represented. I agree it was disconcerting when some had extra OBAMA letters between the 'active' ones.

meanwhile, to add to the fun:
Act like paparazzi: MOBAMAJORSTAR
Hit a remote branch: ROBAMACHINE
Cover a messy face: GIVEASLOBAMASK
Acquire noddles by supernatural means: GETSOBAMAGICALLY

treedweller 2:52 PM  


Stan 3:05 PM  

A nice, relatively easy puzzle --well worth driving out for in a snowstorm.

Great write-up and links from Rex, esp. the Obama in a COWBOY HAT pic, substitute theme answers, Public Enemy album cover, and the dollar sign signature...

I'm happy that GALENA actually is a place name, because I wrote it in with no idea that it was a kind of ore.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  


61A:YELLFIRE: nice -- have we seen this one here before? It also gives the construction some choice to change to HELLFIRE if needed.

85A:OBIES is not short for "Obamas" :-)

92A: Who or what is "Glorioski"?!

I like 73D:THEGO with this clue; not so sure about adjacent 74D:BYCAB...


Anonymous 3:17 PM  

I listened to "Fight the Power" with Chuck D and Flavor Flav as I read the comments, which was interesting. According to VH1, it is the #1 hip-hop song of all time, something I learned while channel surfing. So thanks, Rex. And my husband and I had fun solving Will's presidential quiz in the NYT's today. I recommend it. I could not get into a puzzle groove today, I slogged along until I finished, without googling but with a few mistakes. I think I may have a hangover from the Friday/Saturday puzzles, which cannot be cured with an icebag. I started at the bottom with Mobile Alabama and somehow thought Obama. Doesn't it seem as if the election were years ago? But finally, the end is near.

jae 3:28 PM  

Because I've always called them BALL MARKERS I parsed GOLFBALLMARKER to mean the special pen you carry to mark your golf ball so you can ID it from other players' balls. I think Titleist once had a commercial about how different pros distinctively marked their balls. Of course, I realize now that this take on the clue is quite a ways out in left field.

Three and out!

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

I spent a couple of minutes looking at "glorioski" and it doesn't seem to be equivalent to egads as the puzzle indicates. The way it is used seems to express wonderment or surprise. ??? I have never heard of the word.

edith b 3:37 PM  

transitive verb
1: to hit hard : beat
2: to plod(one's way perseveringly)

In both senses of the word, that's what I did. When I saw the two answers with black in them, I remarked to my husband that the constructor was too clever by half. My husband told me I was too sensitive by half. The comments here seem to come down on both sides of the issue so . . . c'est la vie.

I managed to bypass the global warning trap as I had the C in place and I went forward in a generally southeasterly direction towards the Florida Keys, turned West into the TETONS, went up the West Coast to pick up the COWBOYHATMAKER clue and finished up.

Except for a few minor quibbles, I had no problems with this one. I didn't even try to figure out what theme was as it wasn't germane to solving this one. I waited until I got here for the theme but it didn't seem to be worth the wait.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

Dear kindly social worker,
They say go earn some dough,
Like be a soda-jerker
Which means like be a schmo.
It's not I'm anti-social I'm only anti work.
GLORIOSKI, that's why I'm a jerk.

foodie 3:46 PM  

There was a small spot in this puzzle that confounded me, due to my total ignorance in certain areas--the combination of BAKULA and ALFRE crossing UTES (clued as cars). I wanted ATVS for "all terrain vehicles" and settled for ATAs for Automobiles, thereby renaming those folks BAKALA and ALFRA! Oh well, one person's gimme is another person's double Kenosha.

Otherwise, I actually liked this puzzle. Guessing the theme early on helped me as I had never heard of HONOR BLACKMAN or ROBIN AND MARIAN. It also allowed me to guess GOD BLESS AMERICA, which I thought was very apt for this week.

Speaking of OBAMA, I went back and listened to his 2004 convention speech, then to his Nov. 2008 acceptance speech, in that sequence. It's a pretty remarkable combination, like reading Chapter 1 and then Chapter 2 and waiting for the rest of what promises to be an amazing story.

Back to packing--heading to Arizona for a few weeks on an off campus assignment. It will be good to see some sun!

treedweller 3:48 PM  

@ jae
I was thinking of pens, too. I didn't even realize the discrepancy till you pointed it out. But then, all my knowledge of golf comes from crosswords, comics, Caddyshack, and Happy Gilmore..

Anonymous 4:16 PM  

LIked the puzzle, liked the theme. Thought "was rarin" would be "itchen" (not itched), and since I didn't know that Mil. medals were DSCS, couldn't correct it. Also, the crossings of PSA, Bea, Ebro, and Terr (what is that?) were a quagmire for me.

I believe that Glorioski is from the old Little Orphan Annie comics, and was used the way Egads (which my grandmother used to say) was used.

fvigeland 4:46 PM  

I, too, started to think of made-up phrases with consecutive OBAMAs in them, which I think would have been much more entertaining than these phrases. (Liked the HONOR/BLACK/MAN pickup, Rex.)

I didn't like the intervening OBAMA letters that weren't in order.

Some of my thoughts that appear to be somewhat different from the ones already listed here (progressing from feasible for a punny puzzle to just plain contrived):
*[Newbie to the gang] = MOB AMATEUR
*[Itinerary on a trip to Spain] = CORDOBA MADRID {yeah, that clue needs a little work}
*[Poor credentials] = NO BA, MA OR PHD
*[Question regarding Yankee Chamberlain's fielding] = WILL JOBA MAKE THE CATCH?

That was fun.

foodie 4:57 PM  

@edith b et al, the discussion about the BLACK answers in today's puzzle highlights for me the mixed feelings we have in the US as we deal with the diversity of our cultural, ethnic and racial heritages -- wanting to honor them and yet see them fade into the background. Before immigrating to the US (a million years ago) I had heard the expression "melting pot" and came to the US with the idea that my job would be to blend in as fast as possible (easier said than done) and become a "typical American" -- though I had no idea what that was. But then I would hear people identify themselves as Italians, Polish, Irish, not to mention Yankee, Southern, etc., and I would look quizzically at them. They seemed 100% American to me, but I came to understand how important it was to preserve all these ethnic and cultural distinctions. So, as usual things are more complex here and there is no one formula. But the conceptual tensions, even the friction, serve to make us more aware of the fabric of our culture.

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

Hmmm.... seems as if many of you solve directly on the computer. On Sundays I still like to take pen to magazine paper. But the paper-published edition contains a header explanation that more or less gives away the theme. Found that both helpful and annoying. What's the point of a good themed puzzle if someone hands you the trick before you even start?

With the theme in hand, I actually got some of the themed answers (OLDBLACKMAGIC, for instance) without any crossing answers in place. So it seemed a little too easy.

I did enjoy the overall Obama celebration that was revealed once you saw all the themed clues together.

But, while I'm happy that Mr. Obama is being sworn in on Tuesday, I'm not sure I needed TWO Obama themed Sunday puzzles in a row.

Bill from NJ 5:31 PM  


It always seems to me that Sunday is a letdown after Friday and Saturday's puzzles

Rex's write-up, the combined efforts of the Commenters, the various made-up OBAMA phrases, were, IMOO, superior to the puzzle.

A good time was had by all.

Go gang!!

Blanche 5:42 PM  

newbie: It wasn't Little Orphan Annie but a comic strip called Little Annie Rooney. Annie had a dog named Zero, and she was constantly exclaiming, "Gloriosky, Zero!"

retired_chemist 5:57 PM  

@ Blanche - so who can remember Little Orphan Annie's dog's name?

fergus 6:02 PM  

Good football game going on right now, for those of you who might show only a passing interest.

FINAL Position, not FETAL.

I remember a trip to GALENA, Illinois, where we learned all about Lead ore.

Why are my Flies attached nowadays? Weren't they always? Misread from looking up at television.

George NYC 6:07 PM  

ATTACHMENTS refers to computer files, such as documents or photos, sent attached to email. G

mac 6:29 PM  

@Fergus: about a month ago I heard a funny thing: a financial analyst was asked what position he was taking. He said: "cash and fetal". If I am repeating myself, apologies, but at least we have a whole new crowd here!

Hi, @bill from NJ: I agree with you. After Friday and Saturday, Sunday often just seems big.

jeff in chicago 6:52 PM  

I nominate fvigeland as the winner for:

Poor credentials = NO BA, MA OR PHD

PuzzleGirl 6:54 PM  


George NYC 7:00 PM  


mac 7:11 PM  

So moved!

PurpleGuy 7:40 PM  

@Blanche &Retiredchemist-
Little Orphan Annie's dog is Sandy(Arf).

Way to go Cardinals !!!!

I felt the same as many about yje puzzle -meh!!!!

Orange 7:44 PM  

The motion is passed. The Board of Commenters hereby bestows upon fvigeland the top prize and a certificate of commendation.

chefbea 8:07 PM  

hooray for the cardinals!!!

chefbea 8:07 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
nanpilla 8:20 PM  

@chefbea: I meant at 76 across

@mac : I'm cooking out of the February Gourmet. The Butternut Squash Galette was amazing(pg.15)

Anonymous 9:25 PM  

Orange, Minnesota would like a recount.


Anonymous 9:27 PM  

Liked the theme, kind of hard crossings with GALENA / NABORS / ALFRE, ARLISS / RELL / LAGO... never heard of any of those.

chefbea 10:29 PM  

Cardinals vs Steelers!!! Makes for a great superbowl party. should I have beets or chili ???

Daryl 10:42 PM  

As someone who actually worked on climate change, I've heard "GLOBAL CLIMATE" referenced a few times; it's legit, just rarer.

I do agree with Rex that it would've been nicer to get phrases that didn't repeat the OBAMA letters, but GODBLESSAMERICA and HONORBLACKMAN were nice touches.

mac 11:02 PM  

@Miguel, you are funny! So what is the price anyway? I would have tried out if I'd know there was a reward! How about soba manjuu? It had to be food.....

Anonymous 1:53 AM  

The puzzle was not a lot of fun because the fill was pretty boring and the clues seemed too random.
Also we just had an Obama puzzle last week, which was way better, so I basically solved this only grudgingly.

Plus there were some very obscure items like the Hepburn film and the psychoanalyst. 2 stars.

Anonymous 2:05 AM  

Nothing to add just wanted to ring in.
Oh about the puzzle, clever. We now have a president
with a cool name, sur & Christian.

Christopher Casúr 3:26 AM  

I believe the Jonesin' puzzle a few months back had an Obama themed puzzle where "Obama" was consecutive in all the themed answers. The only two answers I can remember were "MANITOBA MAP" (prop for Canadian weatherman?) and "THE BLOB AMAZES ME" (quote from a sci-fi movie fanatic?)

If anybody can track down this specific puzzle, I'd be appreciative, because I'm far too lazy to scrounge about the archives of Ephraim's. Also, if somebody already mentioned this in the comment, my apologies, but again, too lazy to read all the comments.

Go Steelers.

Anonymous 5:21 AM  

ARLISS/RELL Natick nomination?

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

The extra OBAMA letters didn't bug me, but COWBOYHATMAKER is truly God-awful. NOHAIR + DSCS + MSED + tons of partials = ick. Use fewer theme entries, for Pete's sake. Repeated BLACKs, I's crossing I's, HIGH in the title and the grid (15D), 6-letter partial @ 46D, etc.

in a daily would've been better, imo.

Jack C. 1:01 PM  

[Ramen superhero?] YAKISoba maN

[Ludacris, Emeril, and Isley Brothers exclamations, respectively] Ho bam aND SHOUT

[Mad rush to a grocer?] Mob a maRKET

[Toss a Sharpie] Lob a maRKER

The last two are quite similar, but I'm an amateur. These are tough, but fun.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

If we're all done worshiping at the altar of the savior-elect, can we get on with a non-political crossword next week? Here's hoping.

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

@ Biff 3:43 PM

Citing the "Glorioski" reference from West Side Story's "Officer Krupke" number deserves a shout out. Too bad I'm a day late and few will see it!

And though some questioned the title "High Five" I didn't read any clear response to that, and thus I admit to being perplexed by it also.


George NYC 8:55 PM  

I saw it! Am also still waiting for High Five explainer. 5 letters in Obama? General congrats? All around good feelings?

Anonymous 9:24 PM,1,

George NYC 9:31 PM  


Anonymous 3:04 AM  

Please, how does 83A (Nonmember of a union: Abbr.)=TERR? Terrorist? Terrapin? Terrible Scab? Terrace Logging Contractor(

poc 10:30 AM  

@Anonymous: TERR = Territory

Anonymous 7:34 PM  

Probably too old for most of you. Old crystal radios (my Dad had one he let me play with) used a galena crystal. You'd probe around the crystal with a metal wire and somehow found a spot where you could listen to the radio station on ear phones.

Anonymous 11:15 PM  

gets the award for the suckiest theme in months

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Re 43D: Felipe and Alfonso Reyes are brothers who are Spanish professional basketball players.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

First time poster.

I'm with George NYC. Somebody please explain what the 'High Five' theme is about? It's driving me crazy trying to figure it out! Please someone put me out of my misery and tell me!

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