SUNDAY, Feb. 8, 2009- A Arbesfeld (1666 London fire chronicler / Noted Spanish muralist / Bygone Coney Island attraction)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Pajama Party" - all theme answers are two-word phrases where the two words start with the letters "P" and "J," respectively

Word of the Day: NITERY - slangy term for a nightclub. Here's a quotation from a late-40's Variety article, praising the work of actress Jane Greer: "Femme honours go to Jane Greer, nitery canary . . . she wraps up two songs in fine style and registers strongly in dramatic scenes."

The only drawback to this puzzle was that knowing the theme (which you could pick up almost instantly) made every theme answer exceedingly easy to get. I filled them all in at first glance. Still, it seems clear that the cluing and even some of the fill was toughened up in bits in order to make this puzzle offer at least a little resistance. Those not familiar with airlines and -ports of Japan might have stumbled - haven't seen NARITA for a long time (25A: Airport where 91-Down flies - 91D: Flier to 25-Across, for short -> JAL). I have never heard the term NITERY (101D: Bistro, informally), but I like it a lot (way better than that crappy NABE word we had some time last year). Many of the quotations I found on-line were in some way related to film noir (Jane Greer was in the legenday Out of the Past, for instance - found another quotation where someone was describing a "seedy Santa Monica NITERY" in an Ida Lupino movie). AMEN RA is always good for waylaying a few solvers (9D: Egyptian god of the universe), and ANAIS NIN is very well disguised today, so she might have tripped a solver or two (89D: Who wrote "The only abnormality is the incapacity to love"). I'm not a fan of pharmaceutical companies, generally, but I have to say that ELI LILLY looks good in the grid (92D: Prozac maker). He and ANAIS NIN are just showing off down there with their full names. Overall, the fill in this puzzle is fresh and bouncy and interesting, which more than makes up for the excessive gettability of the theme.

Theme answers:

  • 23A: ChapStick alternative (Petroleum Jelly)
  • 33A: Bygone Coney Island attraction (Parachute Jump) - sounds ... dangerous
  • 52A: Trick (Practical Joke)
  • 70A: Deli receptacle (Pickle Jar)
  • 90A: One of the former Big Three in news (Peter Jennings)
  • 105A: Comeuppance (Poetic Justice) - thankfully, not clued via the terrible Janet Jackson film of the same name
  • 122A: Dole offering (Pineapple Juice)
  • 42D: Pizza Hut competitor (Papa John's)
  • 49D: Hardly a beauty queen (Plain Jane)
I assume that the NARITA / ELIHU crossing was gettable for folks who knew neither answer - once you know that the name ELIHU exists (which I did not until I started doing crosswords), it shouldn't fool you any longer (16D: Grant's first secretary of state _____ Washburne). No other name looks quite like it. The one other thing up in that NE corner that might cause confusion is SLR (15D: Canon type, briefly), a common enough crossword answer, but one masked by a slightly tricksy clue today. Beyond that, not a lot of toughness, but a lot of entertaining fill. The puzzle even has its own admiring crowd noises built in. OOHs and AAs everywhere.

  • OOHS (82A: Circus cries)
  • OOLALA (86A: "Hubba hubba!")
  • AARP (9A: Powerful D.C. lobby)
  • NCAA (102D: College World Series org.)
  • MPAA (118D: Film-rating org.)
  • MA'AM (60D: Word said while tipping one's hat) - I love this clue. It's so John Wayne / Gary Cooper

In addition to the fabulous MA'AM clue, I also loved PULPS (105D: Dime novels and such) - the stories and covers are a major fascination of mine - and BANJO (104D: Hand-picked thing) - my dad taught himself to play a bit, and there were bluegrass records around the house and we even went to a bluegrass festival once. I have great fondness for this instrument. Watched Steve Martin play on "The Colbert Report" the other night. Had no idea he was that accomplished. More banjo, less embarrassing "Pink Panther" nonsense - was the public really clamoring for that sequel? Remember "Weekend at Bernie's 2?" Of course not.


  • 5A: Hastings, _____, where Kool-Aid was invented: Abbr. (Nebr.) - this was recently a topic of discussion in the Comments section. I won't say why, for fear of ruining that puzzle for the syndicated solvers
  • 21A: Homer's hangout (Moe's) - you knew this. You had to know this. Tell me you knew this.
  • 28A: Blood of the gods, in Greek myth (iChor) - new, from Apple. When OCHER just won't do - try iChor.
  • 38A: Cousin of a crow (daw) - slowly becoming my favorite crossword bird - look out, ERN/E!
  • 44A: Onetime Ritz rival (Hi Ho) - also, a slangy street greeting which might result in facial punching
  • 48A: Printerr's misteaks? (typos) - cute
  • 61A: _____ Bridge, historic 1874 span across the Mississippi (Eads) - this clue feels all kinds of messed up to me. "Hey kids, look at that historic span!" "Span" does not stand in well for "bridge" here. And was it historic only in 1874? It's historic or it's not historic. Presumably it functioned as a bridge after 1874. They didn't tear it right back down, did they?
  • 93A: German city whose name means "to eat" (Essen) - my main (!) German city problem is the ESSEN / EMDEN conflation. Here, not a problem.
  • 119A: Christopher who directed "The Dark Knight" (Nolan) - loved his "Memento"; have "The Dark Knight" on DVD (gift from one of my legion of grateful students), but haven't found time to watch it yet. Very odd, given my mild Batman obsession (I read the comic book and have an action figure of Bat Woman hanging on my computer screen).
  • 131A: Noted Spanish muralist (Sert) - get him and ERTE confused sometimes because ... well, because of the ERT.
  • 1D: 1666 London fire chronicler (Pepys) - anything about a chronicler or diarist and 17c. England is almost surely PEPYS (pronounced PEEPS, like the unholy Easter candy!)
  • 67D: "Loot" playwright (Orton) - no idea what this is. Whoa, just found out two things. One, Joe ORTON was killed in a murder-suicide in his 30s. And two, he wrote "What the Butler Saw," which is one of my very vivid early theater experiences. It may have been the first "adult" play I ever saw (@ the Ashland, Oregon Shakespeare festival, circa 1980)

And on that note ... it's orange rolls and coffee for me now

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


poc 8:29 AM  

I can't believe I'm the first to comment :-) Anyway, I agree that the theme was weak (I prefer rebus themes for Sundays) which made the puzzle too easy and not a lot of fun. Also, some rather dodgy cluing e.g. 50D OEDS. "They" refers to the *volumes* of the OED, which start with A-B, C, D-E, etc. And I'm not sure PRECIP is really a legit. abbr.

allan 8:32 AM  

I agree that this was a very easy puzzle, because of the theme. I had that exact trouble with Narita, having entered of fate for 13d.

Note to self: Remember snert! Had snerk. Everything else was easy.

@Rex: Yes I knew it. It's amazing how the Simpson's have become such a part of our culture. Even at my age, I know most of the mains.

Thanks for the Steve Martin clip. Love him and the Muppets. The first Muppet movie remains one of my favorites to this day.

HudsonHawk 8:40 AM  

I agree with Rex, once you got the theme, the long fills were generally pretty easy. In fact, I absolutely cruised through this puzzle from South to North until I got to Puget Sound (I rarely start in the NW for some reason--I usually just start with a clue that catches my eye).

I know most crosswordy French words (ICI for example, and a lot more), but EN FAMILLE didn't come to mind at first. Worse, I had PEPYS spelled PEPUS for a bit, but realized it didn't look right. But even after those were corrected, I couldn't recall the acronym for the broadcaster worker's union at 3D, nor the Belgian battle site. The R seemed right in YPRES and I filled it in, but not with great confidence.

Otherwise, I loved the crossing of APPS and APSE, and the misdirection of the 85D clue, Intimate. Nice.

chefbea 8:42 AM  

This really was easy or maybe I am better at xword solving after the wonderful experience we Nutmeggers had yesterday in Westport. Took great fotos which you will see when I send them to Rex to put on the blog. More later. Time for breakfast.

Bill from NJ 8:50 AM  

Joe Orton was an English playwright who was not quite ready for prime time. He was the subject of a very fine film called Prick up your ears, one of Gary Oldman's early roles.

He was, in fact, the victim of a murder suicide, killed by his gay lover, Kennth Halliwell, two days after Charles Manson killed Sharon Tate and the others in California.

Something about Helter-Skelter made Halliwell snap and he killed Orton with a hammer then killed himself.

Orton was a unique kind of English homosexual who went in for "rough trade" and haunted public restrooms for his assignations and rubbed these affairs in the face of his friend.

The fact that he was a talented writer added fuel to the fire and it altogether made for an interesting story.

If you are interested, Prick Up Your Ears was a Stephen Frears film made in 1986 costarring Alfred Molina as Kenneth Halliwell, Orton's star-crossed lover.

An interesting sidelight to this story was that both men were arrested and jailed for checking out library books, defacing them with lewd artworks and returning them to the library for unsupecting people to check out.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Argh! I am mad at myself. I was moving along, having a good time, avoiding all the missteps mentioned by Rex, thinking I was so smart, and then I rammed into the trolley at 56A and sat there staring for I don't know how long. I could not get that section to work - trolley, syst, eads and oeds. I vaguely remember a problem with Eads before and I know I had a problem with OED several times in the past. Oh, well. Overall, I thought it was a good solid Sunday with no real aha moments. I didn't get much charge from the theme but it was okay.

@Orange - Good catch yesterday. I didn't have a clue.

JannieB 9:40 AM  

I agree with @POC - I'd prefer more of a struggle to get the theme. This was way too easy. While much of the fill/cluing was fun, I really didn't care for OED. Is "pulps" a valid word??? - seems like pulp is a collective noun needing no plural. I had no problem with precip - we use that en famille.

Leon 9:49 AM  

Nice party Mr. Arbesfeld.

I always spell it OOH LA LA but I'm not complaining because of NONAME (loved the clue) and ORTON.

Rex Parker 9:54 AM  

PULPS is exceedingly valid. Made a big difference, $$-wise, whether you wrote for the PULPS or the SLICKS.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

I wasn't paying attention to the theme and so had PINEAPPLESLICE for a long time...especially since RACER fit as well. And I am going to tattoo EZER on my hand so I never forget it again!

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle but slogged thru it, for some reason. Maybe I need new glasses. I read 70A as "Dell receptacle" instead of "Deli receptacle" ... That didn't help.

Chorister 10:19 AM  

The theme was a lot harder to get if the only things you could think of as alternatives to chapstick are carmax and vasoline. I didn't get it till way down at PINEAPPLEJUICE. My Doh! moment.

I defer to Rex's references for NITERY. Otherwise I would still think it isn't a word.

My other problems had to do with ham-fisted TYPOS.

I loved the APPS/APSE cross.

fmcgmccllc 10:26 AM  

My first fill was Mich for 5a since I lived there once. Had to erase quite quickly after remop and the last area I finished. I got Narita easily after JAL, but only because husband used to travel to Japan. This site is really improving my skills. Thank you.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

By coincidence, "Loot" is playing at the local community theater; I read the review but haven't gone yet. @Bill from NJ, thanks for the background on Orton.
The puzzle was generally easy (and dull) until the last crossing--SERT/SNERT, which was a Natick, at least for me; but I guessed right, guided by a very dim recollection of both.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

By coincidence, "Loot" is playing at the local community theater; I read the review but haven't gone yet. @Bill from NJ, thanks for the background on Orton.
The puzzle was generally easy (and dull) until the last crossing--SERT/SNERT, which was a Natick, at least for me; but I guessed right, guided by a very dim recollection of both.

Ulrich 10:47 AM  

A long-standing wish of mine has come true: The recognition that "essen" means "to eat" in German (or "meal", as a noun). Now, if we only could get that darned city out of the picture altogether!

Next wish on my list: Umlauts that appear in both words crossing at the square--I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say that I talked to a constructor yesterday who's working along those lines.

@rex: Thanks for a write-up I found particularly illuminating.

Parshutr 11:01 AM  

No, Rex, I Did Not Know Moes -- I'm unsimpsonized.
Really enjoyed this puzzle in spite of, or more because of, my inability to complete correctly.
But wouldn't you love to fly in to Fajita airpot after a Jet-assisted takeoff (JAT)?
And leasers are really at LEISURE, n'est pas.
I admit to bogeying this one.

Glitch 11:07 AM  

Having flown into Narita on both JAL and ANA, and Elihu being a not uncommon name to me, this intersection wasn't too hard for me.

For the Homer / Moe's connection however, I had to go through my "learned from croswords" mental cubbyhole of trivia.

Guess it's my sheltered life.


Greene 11:10 AM  

@Bill from NJ: Thanks for your excellent post on Joe Orton. I have little to add except to mention that those defaced library books have since become the most valued possessions of the Islington Library service collection. What a difference celebrity makes.

@Rex: Thanks for The Pajama Game clip. That is a great old show and it's wonderful to see John Raitt in his youthful prime. The possessor of one of Broadway's richest baritone voices, he was a rather wooden actor, which probably explains his failure to catch on in films. The show was successfully revived in 2006 with Harry Connick, Jr. and Kelli O'Hara. Watch them generate some honest to God sexual heat with the same number here.

I enjoyed seeing Edith PIAF in the puzzle and it's always nice to write in 1A immediately without hesitation. I was initially perlexed by 122A "Dole Offering" thinking, perhaps, that the clue referred to Bob Dole. When answers like THE PARTY LINE and THE SAME OLD THING didn't fit, I saw the light and went with PINEAPPLE JUICE.

Eli Lilly used to make Seconal which, when taken in overdosage, caused the untimely deaths of both Judy Garland in 1969 and Jimi Hendrix in 1970. The drug also figured largely in the plot of Valley of the Dolls in which three successful Hollywood women each fall victim, in various ways, to the drug.

More recently the Lilly corporation got into huge trouble because of off-label promotions of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa and was ordered to pay $1.42 billion to settle the criminal and civil allegations. Back in 1999 and 2000 I distinctly remember pharmaceutical representatives trying to persuade me to prescribe Zyprexa for patients with dementia, even though there was no compelling research to support such utilization and considerable evidence the drug could cause aggressive behavior and a host of other side effects. Boy, how times change. You should see how careful pharmaceutical representatives are these days about only discussing prescribing indications which have met with FDA approval.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

I didn't know Moes either. The only time I ever watched the Simpsons was when it was part of the The Tracey Ullman Show. It frustrates me sometimes that it is in the NYT puzzle all the time. But today I read that The Simpsons has the distinction of being the longest runnning American sitcom, the longest running American animated program AND the longest running American primetime series, surpassing Gunsmoke in 2008. Maybe I should watch it sometime.

Zingiber 11:45 AM  

"Nitery" is really forced. One of those that relates to the letter of the definition rather than common usage. I used to live in France, have eaten in hundreds of bistros in my time, and not a single one was in any way, shape, or form a nightclub.

archaeoprof 11:53 AM  

NITERY just didn't look right, but I couldn't see any other possibilities. So I came here, expecting to be enlightened. And I was: NITERY is a word after all!

Thanks, Rex.

jae 11:55 AM  

Easy for me also. Tried EATERY at first and RIDE and DROP for the PARACHUTE answer, but, other than those, no problems. Seemed a little weak for a Sun.

jeff in chicago 11:59 AM  

Yeah, the theme might be a bit obvious, but I still had fun. There was some fun stuff elsewhere in the puzzle: SLURPED, VCHIPS, the SNERT/SERT cross. I give it a thumbs up. (Borrowing from Greene's avatar!)

Had no idea about AMENRA, but all the crosses were gimmes. Thought it was one word 'til I got here. Should have figured out the Egyptian/Ra thing. My (literal) "Doh!" moment came with MOES. I stuck with the ancient Homer and wouldn't let go. I had _OES and still couldn't see the M. Curse you, Amen Ra!!!

I'm of the right age to have been a big fan when Steve Martin first appeared on the national scene. His banjo was part of the act from the beginning. And he was really good. One of his first bits was about how you cannot play a sad song on the banjo. Martin has played with banjo legend Earl Scruggs. ("Banjo legend" - there's a phrase you don't see every day!)

I'm a big fan of Joe Orton,my favorite work of his being "Entertaining Mr Sloane."

Jon 12:09 PM  

I did a quick first pass of the puzzle, not thinking about the theme, and ended up completing the SW corner first. That lead to an amusing overthinking of the theme: because TAMMI lay over PINEAPPLE JUICE, the double Ms right above double Ps made me think the key to the theme was some abstruse bunk-bed reference that I wasn't completely getting. Then, working backwards, POETIC JUSTICE fell and it all became clear.

I liked both the cluing and the consonant run of MD DEGREES. SERT/SNERT was a Natick moment for me too; it's funny to me that both the Simpsons and outdated (outdated at least to me) comic strips are both such staples of crosswords. Those two worlds almost seem mutually exclusive; I guess it could even be said that the Simpsons, and the sophistication it brought to animated humor, seems to be largely responsible for the ever-increasing anachronism of the newspaper comics page. Maybe they should duke it out in some future grid.

Continuing yesterday's discussion of tuneful new crossword friendly names, I've been listening to a nice new record by an artist named Alela Diane. ALELA! That seems extraordinarily grid-friendly, and may help end the seemingly endless stream of Adela Rogers St. Johns appearances. Man, I'm sick of her.

Chip Hilton 12:16 PM  

The fact that there's been precious little reporting on Westport at this point makes me wonder just how late the Nutmeg Rexers celebrated the event. A prior engagement in the evening made it necessary for me to duck out upon completion of the tournament, but I can report that a good time was had by all. It was a pleasure to meet several of the folks who post here regularly.

The tournament consisted of three rounds, followed by a puzzle pitting the top three finishers against each other. The first puzzle was an easy Monday selection. The second was a Tuesday puzzle that had me and several others wondering how it had gotten to be Thursday so quickly. I'm sure the stress of competing had a lot to do with it, but after 20 minutes , I'd say at least a third of the hundred-plus competitors were still struggling included. A reasonable Wednesday puzzle finished the general competition.

One celebrity sighting (other than the great Shortz, who played a major role throughout) to report on. Across the room, quietly competing with the rest of us, sat Phil Donahue. Sadly, the former Mrs. Donald Hollinger was nowhere to be seen.

It really was great fun. I wouldn't hesitate to take another shot next year.

mac 12:20 PM  

I know Moe! Thanks Rex, for a great write-up today.

I think "nitery is a great word, but there is no way a bistro is a night club. Eatery would have been correct. Need that Ezer tattoo as well, and with the (great) Dole clue was thinking unemployment benefits and viagra....

@Bill in NJ: great info on Orton. Made me think of Francis Bacon and the wonderful film about his life: "Love is the Devil: Study for a portrait of Francis Bacon".

I enjoyed this Sunday puzzle, it felt fresh and the theme worked.

Ulrich 12:24 PM  

@Chip Hilton: If you abandon us for better things, of course you get to write the report--teaches you a lesson:-)

I may add one thing: Our (former?) friend joon won the whole thing.

mac 12:27 PM  

@chip hilton: thank you for the nice, accurate reporting! I definitely felt the tension, particularly with the second puzzle. You'll find out on Tuesday which answer I just stared at and stared at.....
And yes, we did party, but broke up after dinner, at a reasonable hour, and went our separate ways. It was great to get to know some of the regular commenters. My husband's eyes glazed over a few times, but he was a good sport about it.
Chefbea and imsdave, who isn't at his computer at the moment, will probably prepare an illustrated report tomorrow.

allan 12:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glitch 12:56 PM  


For the record, and accuracy (Wiki):


The spoken word "D'oh" is a trademark of 20th Century Fox.

It is typically represented in the show's script as "(annoyed grunt)".

Homer's ubiquitous catch phrase was famously added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001 without the apostrophe.

And for Ulrich:

In the German-dubbed version, "d'oh!" is translated to "Nein!"



... and in 1491 I bet "the world is flat" was the longest running geologic truth.

May you be as open minded as Columbus ;)

ArtLvr 12:57 PM  

No MOES for me either-- except through the crosses, of which I liked AMEN RA and loved PSYCHOS with ICHOR not far below it. Ditto SNERT, though I get it using a mental image of Mortimer Snerd. The Simpsonian Institution just isn't my cup of tea, nor comic strips in general..

PRECIP didn't bother me too much, but I'm leery of the day Will accepts the lingo of Variety such as "helming" for directing a stage production. Talk about torturing the English language! Grumpish today, I know.

I did enjoying seeing Steve Martin's virtuosity on the BANJO on the Colbert Repor' the other night! And congrats to joon and the rest of the Nutmeggers -- I too look forward to seeing ChefBea's photos...


allan 12:59 PM  

@Chip Hilton: Thanks for the info. I keep coming back today, waiting to hear about the experience. Can't wait for chefbea's photos.

Re the C. I. Parachute Jump. It seems that the ride was brought to Coney Island after its debut at the 1939 World' Fair (which I grew up hearing stories about). As a native Brooklynite, I was a frequenter of Coney. I never had the courage to experience the Parachute Ride, but this video of the original at the WF makes me wonder why?

I heard a few years back that NYC was going to refurbish the park, and possibly reopen the Parachute Jump. If they do, I'll be headed back to finally experience one of those childhood dreams.

Here is a little more on the history of the Parachute Jump.

joeyshapiro 12:59 PM  

I didn't know ichor and was a bit embarrassed, having majored in classics as an undergrad.

Nitery gave me trouble, too. Maybe if I have heard of Tammi Terrell...

Rex, great clip of Steve Martin playing banjo in the Muppet Show. There was a NYT article this week about his banjo habit/prowess.

RAlbert 1:19 PM  

Add me to the non-Simpson lovers so I didn't get Moes either & had
never heard of the Egyptian god.

Got the clue immed, started @ bottom & sailed north too fast for
my $4 worth today!!

Believe I've seen some of Orton's

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

I'm back from my business trip to New Orleans and definitely puzzle and blog deprived. I did buy a dead tree version yesterday and solved pretty quickly between Atlanta and Dayton. It is so good to be home.

@Bill from NJ -- I was going to mention Prick Up Your Ears. A great film ... your commentary is excellent. I hope others here will be prompted to see it. Depressing, yes, but worthy of being watched, definitely.

I rate today's puzzle PJ.

Sharon 1:33 PM  

@ any and all who have been to the crossword puzzle turnament in Brooklyn.
Saw the dates here a few days back (I'm on syndicate time)and relaized we will be in New York that week, for theater, concedrts, etc.
Wondering if I would find the event fun. I have enjoyed this blog, Rex's insights, the photos etc he posts, the comments, especially word play with puzzle words,love Emily cureton's drawings... but I find it incomprehensible that anyone (cept maybe autistic savant) could solve some of the puzzles without looking up people and places. And I've no interest in speed solving.
So, might I find things of fun and interest at the event? Or is it just focused on competition?

I know most of you have gone on to other things by this time of day. Hoped to find the post up before I went to bed last night. No luck.

Sharon 1:33 PM  

@ any and all who have been to the crossword puzzle turnament in Brooklyn.
Saw the dates here a few days back (I'm on syndicate time)and relaized we will be in New York that week, for theater, concedrts, etc.
Wondering if I would find the event fun. I have enjoyed this blog, Rex's insights, the photos etc he posts, the comments, especially word play with puzzle words,love Emily cureton's drawings... but I find it incomprehensible that anyone (cept maybe autistic savant) could solve some of the puzzles without looking up people and places. And I've no interest in speed solving.
So, might I find things of fun and interest at the event? Or is it just focused on competition?

I know most of you have gone on to other things by this time of day. Hoped to find the post up before I went to bed last night. No luck.

PlantieBea 1:36 PM  

@Bill f/NJ--Enjoyed your Orton lesson.

@Allen--The landing on the Parachute Jump looks teeth rattling/spine crunching.

The puzzle was pretty easy although I had to guess at the I in the Narita/Elihu crossing. Nitery is new for me too. Enjoyed the Steve Martin Banjo clip, and yesterday's links to Saadiq and Adele as well.

Parshutr 1:41 PM  

One little quibble. 110A is clued Some car shoppers. But the shoppers are not leasers (ones who give a lease) but lessees (ones to whom a lease is given).

Ulrich 2:17 PM  

re. Westport: I should have pointed out that mac was instrumental in making the "social program" following the competition a success. A particular brownie point is due to the grace with which which she rescued the two guys in the group who got lost b/c they missed the convoy to mac's house right out of the parking lot--I was too embarrassed to admit it at the time, but the fault was entirely mine--I don't want to go into the gory details. Thanks to all who remained good sports!

Doug 2:23 PM  

Steve Martin's been on a press blitz recently to promo PP2, but he's smartly launched a new bluegrass CD and is getting a 2-for-1 media punch. In fact, he's pushing the CD a lot more than the movie! Read all about it!

I just stayed in Chinatown and know that Little Italy is just north, then Soho and the Village to the northwest, but what's that TRIangle BElow CAnal street to the west? D'OH.

Ahh, no more ancient American civ problems for this guy: Inca, Maya, Toltec, Quetzalcoatl...must be OLMEC.

I don't know about Bass + STEIN. Sure, you can have it that way, but ale in a glass with a handle is like a Weissebier in plastic cup. Ketchup avec that filet, Monsieur L'Americain?

imsdave 2:44 PM  

@Ulrich - I have to add that we were the only two guys in the group and the only ones to get lost. Mrs. Dave was not suprised.

@Greene - I was fortunate enough to see Mr. Raitt several times in his later career doing summer stock. I don't think it was his acting that held him back, but the fact that he was slightly cross-eyed, a big no-no for Hollywood back then. What a voice though - a baritone with a b-flat! I had the privilege of driving him from W. Palm Beach to Stuart FL (about an hour). I asked him if Janis Paige really sang that offkey and his response was that 'she sang between the black and white keys all the time - but she was so electric on stage that it just didn't matter'. It is criminal that 'A New Town is a Blue Town' was dropped from the movie version.

Aside to Rex - my first starring role in a musical was as Sid in the Pajama Game at the Cider Mill playhouse, back when it was connected to SUNY-B - ah the good old days.

I think most of the salient info about the tournament yesterday has already been posted. I would like to add that, like Mac, I was a bit overwhelmed by the pressure - I really only went to get to meet my blog mates, but you really do get caught up in the moment. Doing the fourth puzzle (which didn't count except for the 3 finalists, I would have finished second to Joon. Big difference sitting at a table casually doing a puzzle and competing on a white board with over 100 people watching you.

@Joon - hope you come back to the blog. It was a plesaeure meeting you yesterday.

Joon was the first constructer to help me with a puzzle and it continues to astonish me what a giving and caring community this is. Special thanks to Doug P., Rex, Andrea, Amy, Doug, Jeff in Chicago, and Joon for all of your help with my pastime.

To the nutmeg group (plus Cape Cod Karen) - what a pleasure to meet you all. My expectations were greatly exceded.

To Mr. and Mrs. Mac - thank you for being such gracious hosts.

Sharon 3:21 PM  

See my question posted twice. Sorry. Sorry also about poor typing. If I knew how to remove I would.
I'll be watching current days commentsfor a while in case I get a response.

Unknown 3:26 PM  

Sharon, others may post, but if you will write on my name here and my email address should appear... I will correspond about the ACPT. Some others have more experience, but I am willing to be a sounding board.

Linda Ball 3:39 PM  

In a coincidence, I had no idea about the airport but I wanted the airline to be JAL (even before I was on to P--J--) because the CEO of JAL was on Sunday Morning today and the JAL was everywhere.

edith b 3:42 PM  

I really liked the NW corner today and got the theme right away. This is my least favorite themed-style puzzle as Rex and others have pointed out, so much information is already received that it becomes fill-in-the-blank time.

I did enjoy the Puget Sound section with PIAF crossing PEPYS, two figures spanning centuries, both making contributions to their cultures in wholly different ways with ENFAMILLE and YPRES - a little French night music crooning in a fizzy kind of way. OOLALA! in a PICKLEJAR.

And scattered throughout, a smattering of the Classical - Asian, Greek and Latin - a gong reverberating throughout the puzzle, beautiful, which redeemed the shortcomings of the theme.

All things being equal, a lovely puzzle.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

I wonder why there wasn't a sepcial
Lincoln puzzle today? Yes, I know about the other one, but still ...

Unknown 4:07 PM  

I am embaressed to admit that I didn't realise the theme until I came here. I didn't notice the title even after guessing 53D correctly! Maybe that made the puzzle more fun for me?
I don't know Simpsontology, and eventually gave up on 9A and 21A. Also guessed ELAHU/NARATA.

chefwen 4:27 PM  

Liked the puzzle but also thought it was a tad bit easy after getting the theme. My favorite clue of the day was Whack jobs, we have more than our share here on "The Rock".

Pythia 4:31 PM  

V. easy ... yet lots of fun. All the theme answers are solid, chewy phrases or names, and loved seeing NITERY, EN FAMILLE, TRIBECA.

Everything I know about "The Simpsons" I learned from the NYT crossword. Hope the "South Park" crowd will start to become puzzle staples.


fergus 5:25 PM  

OK, Rex offered a sound defense of PULPS. How about the Clue for RELIC? You can dig it -- that's missing a preposition, I would say. It's not clever.

Too bad we couldn't have had PEN JALS for 88A. ALL the PJs were fine, but with no other intricacy afoot, they ought to be.

How cryptic will the Cryptic be?

Stan 6:29 PM  

Good, fun, easy puzzle (easy if you knew all the cultural references, which today I did, except SERT and NARITA -- an embarrassing lapse)

Best comments: @Bill from NJ on Joe Orton.

@Rex on how to pronounce 'Pepys'.

@Greene on Lilly.

IMHO. of course

JannieB 6:38 PM  

@Fergus - the Cryptic is one of the most challenging I've ever done. Couldn't finish without help. Good luck!

Congrats to all the Nutmeggers. Glad you had a great tournament.

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

Just too easy...When the theme is so obvious, no amount of good fill can compensate.

I had to guess at the snert/nolan cross, but there aren't any other plausible last names of the form nola_

from someone with an uncommon last name

fergus 8:07 PM  

Yes, the Cryptic is. No middle ground today.

Anonymous 8:23 PM  

The french words can get me. I had EN CAMILLE up in Washington, the acronym ACTRA looked perfectly reasonable to my subconscious.

Sharon, by all means come to the ACPT in Brooklyn. There's a subset who are competitive and angsty, but most people just like sitting around doing puzzles. And you can buy crossword puzzle books, and see people in weird costumes. Okay, just that one guy.

I had a great time at the Westport contest. Mac definitely get brownie points for being the organizer, but chefbea get points for the brownies. It's great to put faces with some of these names. FYI, the puzzles were the ones appearing in this week's NYT, which I had forgotten until I opened today's puzzle. (The ACPT puzzles are exclusives.)

Now I'm going back to watch the Muppets again.

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

I very much enjoyed the puzzle today.

Rex - I don't know if you were joking or not, but I would like to report from beautiful St. Louis that James Eads's magnificent and historic span that bears his name continues to be a working crossing of the Mississippi.

allan 8:39 PM  

@ Fergus & JannieB: I didn't even know that help was available for the cryptic. They're my favs, and I am only about 1/3 into this one. Usually work on them throughout the week, and sometimes have those wonderful aha moments.

Just in case, where do I go for help (careful everyone). <;0)

chefbea 8:41 PM  

Hopefully the fotos from westport will appear tomorrow. Thanks to mr and mrs Mac for entertaining us before dinner. Mr. Mac made a great pot of coffee while Mac was busy finding the lost souls.

Mr Mac and my husband did indeed have something in common - they are both Marines!!!

At dinner we of course discussed crosswords and words in general. There are short words that are from Germanic and long words that are from romantic...
my husband prefers the short words.

fikink 9:17 PM  

It sounds like your weekend was wonderful and the Macs were excellent hosts. I wish Mr. Fikink and I could have joined all of you.
@fergus, allan, jannie: I have been struggling with the cryptic all afternoon and like you, allan, for me they are days in the solving (if ever). They present such a mental workout, I have recommended them to the farmercist to treat insomnia.

fergus 9:40 PM  

Jim Horne gives some somewhat cryptic Cryptic assistance today at that NY Times place. I checked to see whether Orange had done it, but apparently not today. I've seen a link at one point, giving full explanation, but couldn't locate it today. Hence, five or six enigmas still at large.

Chip Hilton 9:51 PM  

It's late and you probably won't see this, but if you do, check out "You're All I Need to Get By" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and you'll never have problems remembering Ms. Terrell's name again. Currently checks in at eleventh most played on my iPod with 44 hits. Such passion!

Rex Parker 9:55 PM  

This is not a cryptic blog. Please take the cryptic talk elsewhere.


Anonymous 10:10 PM  

"Far, far from Ypres
I long to be
Where German snipers
Can't get at me
Damp is my dugout
Cold are my feet
Waiting for whiz-bang
To send me to sleep"


mac 11:31 PM  

@robin: who can we thank for this sad but beautiful poem?

Didn't see much of the Grammy's because I was feeding some people, but I just caught the last song by Stevie Wonder, and I will take it to heart.

Anonymous 11:56 PM  

It's a song from WWI...Ypres was apparently a very sad place to be... I learned it as a teenager performing in "Oh What A Lovely War"

Anonymous 11:56 PM  

It's a song from WWI...Ypres was apparently a very sad place to be... I learned it as a teenager performing in "Oh What A Lovely War"

mac 12:08 AM  

I hoped you had a more specific name for the poet, our friend google was pretty vague about it. Belgium is the country in Europe that has had more wars fought on its territory than any other. In the meantime it was (and I think it still is) divided by language, which did not make life easier.

Jeffrey 12:58 AM  

I'm home and very tired. Six hours from Orlando to Seattle in the middle seat is no fun when you are 6'3". Then a quick trip up Pugent Sound that you all love today. And I get to fly cross continent all over again for Brooklyn. Hey, Will, isn't it time for the tournament to visit the West Coast?

Fastest Sunday puzzle ever for me. Easy theme, but fun puzzle. I know Moe.

foodie 1:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
foodie 1:13 AM  

@mac et al, I'm just catching up with several days of missed blogs (been traveling, I'm writing this from Toronto). It's so great that you all have met and that mac you hosted a gathering!

Watching two versions of the same Pajama Games song was fun, thanks Rex and Greene...

@Crosscan, I thought of you as soon as I landed in Canada (I know, wrong part). I love seeing all the French. And the bread in airports and such is better-- not like Paris, but a definite improvement.

And a belated Happy Birthday to the green mantis! I hope it rocked.

Jeffrey 1:22 AM  

And speaking of PRACTICAL JOKEs and airports, no gum is sold in Orlando airport. Huh?

Anonymous 3:10 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle ... nice theme ... easy-going and non-aggravating... perfect Sunday solving experience.

Orange 9:39 AM  

Rex says to take your cryptic talk elsewhere. If Fergus had only left a comment at my blog yesterday, I would have directed him to the Crossword Fiend Forum for the answers.

@Crosscan: I know! I couldn't buy gum on board the cruise ship (they don't want the associated clean-up when people drop their gum), and I needed some for my flight home. So I'll buy some in the Orlando airport, I figured—but no dice. What the...?

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

In Re that Grant cabinet member. Seeing ----M, I filled in HIRAM instantly. It took a bit for me to notice I was one column off, and I was supposed to fill in ----U.

Heard of MOES? I had ATENRA for the Egyptian god at first, so I ended up with TOES. I had the good sense to check the clue, and kept puzzling about Homer's hangout. Then I remembered: there was an AMENRA also. Then I realized which Homer was clued.

Joe Orton is sick, twisted, and funny. I read his complete plays way back when, but have only seen one production of Loot.

PlantieBea 11:19 AM  

@Crosscan and Orange: This is our home airport, so I had to check it all out! About that no chewing gum policy at MCO (from the Flug Revue...

For many people, a high level of background noise is a stress factor. Hence most of the walking surfaces in the terminals are laid with carpet so as to dampen the sound of people walking around and the clatter of suitcases. Moreover, a fountain has been installed in the central building as the sound of water has a calming effect on people. To contain the costs of carpet maintenance, the shops in the airport are contractually prohibited from selling chewing gum.

So, it's all for your travel comfort:-)

nurturing 8:06 PM  

My father took me on the parachute jump with him when I was 10 or 11. He was a paratrooper in WWII, so his opinion of it was that it was pretty tame. For one thing, we were sitting down!
The landing was exactly as shown on the clip. It was nothing really. Looks much worse than it was.
I loved the jump, though. It was exciting for me!

Anonymous 8:18 PM  

Onetime Ritz rival? (44A) Could someone please clue me in to what a "hiho" is? I enjoy staying at the Ritz and eating Ritz crackers, but have never heard of a "hiho." Thanks.

And I agree, a bistro is NOT a nitery.

@Parshutr: You're not only right, but the "givers" of leases are "lessors." Isn't English fun?

@Rex: Has anyone ever challenged a constructor or has a constructor ever created a puzzle that included absolutely no crosswordese? It was a thought of mine a few weeks ago. I would make a list of banned answers and see if it could be done.

RAlbert 8:00 AM  


it is HiHo and they are a brand of crackers that resemble Ritz; not as
well-known obviously as Ritz & prob lesser sales.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

HiHo - saltine by 'Sunshine' Brand

Michael5000 1:53 AM  

The Sunday Puzzle is in trouble when it's too easy for ME. "Pajama Game" = P.J. = fill in all theme clues = mop up.

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