TUESDAY, Mar. 17, 2009 - R Chisholm (1940s hit radio show featuring bartender Archie / Pakistani leader 1977-88 / Ferrara ruling family)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Obliquely saluting the Irish - five theme answers all begin with possessive forms of a conventionally Irish names; the theme is intended as a "salute" to ERIN (57D: Land that's saluted in this puzzle)

Word of the Day: GSA (38D: Fed. property overseer) - General Services Administration: sets policy for and manages government property and records. More specifically, the GSA's duties include the construction and operation of buildings; procurement and distribution of supplies; utilization and disposal of property; management of transportation, traffic, and communications; and management of the government's automatic data processing resources program. (answers.com)

How to salute the Irish on St. Patrick's Day? Well, first, start in a TAVERN. They love that. Then trot out their traditional heroes, like ... that incompetent boob who was shipwrecked for the better part of a decade, or ... that irrepressible prisoner of war who was played by an "avid amateur pornographer" who was later bludgeoned to death. Yes, that'll do. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This was a good day for (very) old people. None of the theme answers dates from after 1970, and three of them date back to the pre-television era. 30s, 40s, 40s, 60s, 60s. "DUFFY'S TAVERN" and "MCNAMARA'S BAND" were absolutely unknown to me. I got to the DUFFY part of that answer quickly and then realized it was going to be a (relatively) long solve. My wife challenged me to name Anyone named "DUFFY" last night, and I couldn't, though this morning Patrick DUFFY came to me as soon as I got out of bed. He played that guy from "Dallas" ... who dreamed an entire season. There's a contemporary singer named "DUFFY," but since she just has one name, like CHER or MADONNA, I wasn't sure there was anything particularly Irish about her.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: 1940s hit radio show featuring the bartender Archie ("Duffy's Tavern") - when I think of "taverns," I think MOE'S. When I think of a guy named "Archie" in a "tavern," I think "All in the Family" "Archie" is also the nickname of Doug Dreiberg's "owl-ship" in "Watchmen" (short for "Archimedes"), in case anyone ever asks you.
  • 28A: 1939 James Joyce novel ("Finnegans Wake")
  • 36A: 1960s sitcom about a group of castaways ("Gilligan's Island")
  • 44A: 1946 Bing Crosby hit ("McNamara's Band")

[Not Bing Crosby]

  • 51A: 1960s sitcom set in a P.O.W. camp ("Hogan's Heroes")

The personal pronoun "I" is in this puzzle three times. Is there a limit?

  • NO I (32D: "_____ won't!")
  • I TOO (62A: "Am _____ late?") - usually clued as a Langston Hughes poem
  • I AM SO (37D: Schoolyard retort)

There are more black squares in this puzzle than I have seen in a puzzle in ages. I consider 42 pretty high. Most early-mid-week puzzles have 38 or 40. This one has 46. This makes the grid Very easy to fill, and means, in this case, that there are No Long Downs. Grid becomes very boring very quickly (outside of the theme answers). The one part of the grid I do like is the GUMP DISCO FELONS part, primarily for the jarring incongruity. (36D: Forrest _____, 1994 Oscar-winning role + 33D: Establishement with a revolving mirrored ball + 28D: Prison population).


  • 35A: Pakistani leader 1977-88 (Zia) - completely unknown to me. "General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (Arabic: محمد ضياء الحق‎) (b. August 12, 1924–August 17, 1988) was the president and military ruler of Pakistan from July 1977 to his death in August 1988." (wikipedia)
  • 50A: Sculler's item (oar) - Crew being one of the more popular sports in CrossWorld
  • 66A: Jew traditionally dressed in a black coat and hat (Hasid) - had a conversation with my barber (!?!?) about HASIDs just the other day. I have no idea how it could have come up. Something about hair, I'm sure.
  • 6D: Ado (bustle) - here was the source of my major slowdown. I had TUSSLE, which made both BASE (6A: Contemptible) and DUFFY'S TAVERN very hard to see. I later changed TUSSLE to BUSSLE, forgetting that that is not a valid spelling of the word.
  • 60D: Instrument famously played by Bill Clinton on "The Arsenio Hall Show" (sax) - nothing says "early 90s" better than this clue. The SAX is also Lisa Simpson's instrument.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


mac 8:34 AM  

Smooth sailing all the way, not even a write-over. Agree with Rex on the weak points of the puzzle, but I'm glad we are celebrating St. Pat's day, as I am watching some dancers in Dublin on tv.
I don't know Duffy's Tavern, and am not too familiar with the other programs, but somehow they showed up easily.
@chefbea: corned beef and cabbage today? Good with a parsley sauce.

Unknown 8:41 AM  

Also found it easy...must be my age!
Glad it is good for something! Top o' the Morning!

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Oh oh. I must be very old as knew Duffy and McNamara and even vaguely remember Duffy's Tavern on TV.
What about colcannon instead of boiled spuds with the corned beef? Delish.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Oh oh. I must be very old as knew Duffy and McNamara and even vaguely remember Duffy's Tavern on TV.
What about colcannon instead of boiled spuds with the corned beef? Delish.

joho 8:46 AM  

Oh, Rex, don't you go be putting a pall on this glorious St. Paddy's day puzzle celebrating the Irish!

I was glad to see an Irish theme today .. thought the puzzle was fun and easy ... Oh, I must be very old.

Actually I didn't know DUFFYSTAVERN or MCNAMARASBAND but they were not hard to get.

Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody!

O' Joho

Doug 8:49 AM  

I found this puzzle anything but challenging. Finished faster than yesterday, and yesterday was very fast for me -- a middling solver. Word of the day was bustle, for me. Got Hogan and Gilligan and Finnegan right away but Duffy and McNamara are both before my time. Needed crosses for those. So you know I'm a boomer.

mac 8:51 AM  

@Hobbyist: I love colcannon, in winter the Dutch also mash lots of cabbagy vegetables with potatoes (and butter and hot milk). Try to do it with brussels sprouts, can be very elegant with a pork roast.
Oops, now where is that food blog?

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

challenging, hardly!

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

I'm with Doug, this puzzle was not challenging at all as I got my best Tuesday time ever (2:51). While it may have been a good day for old people, it was also a good day for college aged people like me too! Only part that tripped me up a little was the HASID/SADE crossing.

William Reid 8:53 AM  

This geezer thought it was quite easy but mostly boring.

JannieB 9:01 AM  

Ouch - just because a puzzles doesn't refer (gratefully) to the Simpsons doesn't mean it skews "old". I also marched right through this celebration of things Irish - and enjoyed the parade.

It's a beautiful spring day in my neighborhood - so I'm going to enjoy it - might even make an Irish stew!

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Another geezer here. The time was the fastest i've ever had. Granted that I am a relative tyro and still took 4 minutes, but the age demographic must have a lot of affect.

Greene 9:08 AM  

Very enjoyable solve and pretty easy too. Geezer's rule!

Duffy's Tavern served as a training ground for up and coming comedy writer Abe Burrows who went directly from Duffy's to writing Guys and Dolls for Broadway (and a bunch of other plays and musicals as well).

Favorite Borrows line (sung to tune of "There's No Business Like Show Business"):

Yesterday they told you you would not go far,
Last night you opened
and they were right.

Parshutr 9:10 AM  

Hardly challenging for those of us pushing 70, especially if we grew up in Boston, where all the Irish settled after the potato famine...and became cops, politicians, and the Irish Maf.

Ulrich 9:13 AM  

One more geezer who found this easy, even with two theme answers that were unknowns (the tavern and band), which emerged readily from crosses.

And what a lovely day for a Guinness!

DanaJ 9:16 AM  

I'm with JannieB - it was easy for me, but that does not necessarily imply geezerhood. Happy green beer drinking, all.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

"If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now,
It's just a spring clean for the May queen"

Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven

No idea what they are talking about, but it's my favorite use of the word "bustle".

Hogans Heroes and Gilligans Island seem like a rather lame attempt to salute Erin.

Glitch 9:19 AM  

I too found this a "one cupper".

My only problem was in the SE, deciding if it was HasiD or HasiM, the "Menu phrase" of saDe or saMe not quite making sense.

Then, owing to dead tree solving, bifocals, and tiny numbers, realized I was one clue off on the downs.

Off to put the Corned Beef in the slow cooker --- leaves more time for the Guinness that way.


HudsonHawk 9:25 AM  

I thought the cluing for 34A "Instrument held with two hands" was kind of strange. That would describe most musical instruments, so the clue didn't strike me as particularly clever, nor misdirectional.

Like Rex, the clue for 20A made me think of Archie Bunker's Place, the spinoff of All In The Family where Archie owns his own tavern.

As for the theme, it's Amateur Night (and Day) here in the city. Unfortunately, I live near the parade's end, so will undoubtedly encounter plenty of New York's Bravest on their best behavior on the way home tonight. Oh well, the Guinness at my local pub should be quite fresh.

chefbea 9:26 AM  

Is there a feminine geezer?? If not then Im a geezer as well. Knew all the Irish names.

@Mac Made corned beef and cabbage yesterday. Good idea = colcannon. I'll make that with the leftovers. yummm

This isn't the food blog??? Sorry

foodie 9:35 AM  

geezers and geezerettes, it's our day!
Easy, breezy...

nuzzle put 9:35 AM  

Thanks, Richard. This ol' geezer appreciated your entry. A tyro with 40 years of earnest puzzling, and more that a little slow on the draw, i found it as a great boost to my puzzling ego! And Rex is redeemed by the introduction of McNamara's Band. All is well.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

LASER was cute for surgeon's tool.

Found this one enjoyable if trite.

How do you solve puzzles in 21/2 minutes or even 4? It takes me longer than that to read the clues. And I have the nerve to call myself XMAN!

jubjub 9:39 AM  

So what's the deal with the theme? I get that Finnigan's Wake is by Joyce so probably Finnigan is Irish. But are the characters in the shows referenced Irish? Or do they just have Irish-sounding names? And are those Irish-sounding names?

I thought maybe the ugly ugly grid shape was chosen to look like a four-leaf clover, but that may just be the rotational symmetry required of any puzzle.

My main slowdowns were spelling mistakes -- finnIganswake, mcnamErasband. Though I'd never heard of Duffy's Tavern or Mcnamara's Band, they were both gettable from crosses. All I know about Hogan's Heroes I learned from the Simpsons.

edith b 9:45 AM  

I'm right on the edge of radio days so Duffy's Tavern and Der Bingle were neons to me. And unless you grew up in a cave, "Gilligan's Island", whether you watched it or not (I didn't) must be a part of our shared life in America.

This one skimmed the top of our cultural experience - something for everybody. Cliched Irish stuff.

Even though every part of this thing was familiar to me, I didn't care for it. But that's just me.

Orange 9:45 AM  

The theme absolutely skews old. Two '40s pop culture bits that are guaranteed not to have much familiarity among people under age 60? Oh, yeah. That's old-skewing for sure. The '60s TV shows are familiar to the generation born in the '60s (we saw the shows in reruns in the '70s), but I bet there are a lot of 25-year-olds who have never heard of Hogan's Heroes. The Joyce novel Finnegans Wake is from 1939, but at least it's canonical and is likely known by many educated people of all ages. DUFFY'S TAVERN and MCNAMARA'S BAND fairly shout "crossword for senior citizens."

@jubjub, all five names are Irish surnames.

Mark Murphy 9:53 AM  

"Duffy's Tavern" was also a training ground for Larry Gelbart, who later went on to develop (and write many scripts for) the TV version of "MASH." (And before that, he wrote "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.")

janie 9:59 AM  

why you would HAZARD saying, "This was a good day for (very) old people" makes me think you wuz stirrin' up the pot -- and the POSTS here today would seem to support that. middle-aged does not EQUAL "(very) old" or even "old" in my book. "oldER" perhaps -- but i don't make that a sin. ;-)

>DUFFY'S TAVERN and MCNAMARA'S BAND fairly shout "crossword for senior citizens."

no. i think it's more like "crossword for the (adult) children of senior citizens." it's on our radar because it's stuff our parents listened to.

firsthand experience of cultural phenomena may help, but does not ensure smooth-sailing with puzzle-solving. seems to me it's more a question of keeping open to the times, making associations that make something *not* in one's sweet spot somehow accessible. "hogan's heroes" was not a show i watched (though i know i saw it a few times). but i also know it was based **loosely** on the play/movie stalag 17, and that's what comes to mind for me whenever we get puzzle references to the tv show... i have to work backwards (wwii pows --> stalag --> hogan...), but it usually comes together.

and greene: here's a fave abe burrows bit. seems periodically he checked himself into a fat-farm. contacting a friend, he is said to have written: "please send a file... with a cake in it."


Kurt 10:01 AM  

Captain Geezer reporting for duty, sir!

Easy puzzle. Fun puzzle. Great prelude to the green beer.

Enjoy the day!

PlantieBea 10:02 AM  

HAH! After placing that answer, instead of BAH, I ended up with MCNAMARA's HAND.

Sitting here with my Irish mother on Captiva; she thought the puzzle was very easy. Instead of the usual corned beed tonight we're having stone crab claws.

Happy St. Pat's day to all y'all.

Jeffrey 10:08 AM  

What's going on? 7:00AM PDT and nothing left to be said.

Record Tuesday time for me too.

I am not a geezer! I am a man!

I will spend today deciding which is more annoying - bagpipes or accordian.


Anonymous 10:16 AM  

I am 26 and sailed through this puzzle. While I haven't seen any of the shows in the puzzle, I was able to deduce the answers pretty easily. I can be aware of things without having been a part of them.

And frankly, I am GLAD there weren't Simpsons references for a change. Funny, because I kinda consider THAT an old-school show for old(er) folks!


Anonymous 10:18 AM  

I'm 80 and also wonder how anybody can do these in four minutes???

roxanne 10:24 AM  

For those old enough to remember, the show always started with a guy answering the phone : "archie's tavern, where the elite meet to eat. Archie the manager, speaking."

I may be old, but certainly not a geezer....that would be really old.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

I am not old. Well, not that old -maybe kinda old. But it just so happens that I read quite of few of Rex's important posts (see side bar) over the weekend, and I feel as if I know him a little better (particularly after reading his thoughts about Ally McBeal). (By the way, was she Irish?)

So I wonder if he might be in a snit today. Is that possible? (I can imagine him saying, I'm right here, why are you talking about me as if I'm not?) I have never heard of Duffy's Tavern or McNamara's Band and finished in record time. Hogan's Heroes is in constant rerun and anyone who watches tv should know of it - old or not. Finnegan's Wake should be vaguely familiar to most people.

So Irish or not, old or not, Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.

miriam b 10:36 AM  

"Duffy's Tavern, where the elite meet to eat. Archie the manager speakin'. Duffy ain't here — oh, hello, Duffy."

Archie,of course, was the bartender as well as the manager. And Duffy was never there.

I loved that show. If this makes me a geezerette, so be it.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Here Comes Everybody with the canonical correction: it's Finnegans Wake, no apostrophe.

The only DUFFY I know of is Bruce Duffy, author of The World as I Found It, a biography of Wittgenstein presented as a novel. Magnificent reading for philosophy and logic geeks, but I suspect everyone else rightly avoided the book.

And no, I never heard of DUFFY'S TAVERN or MCNAMARA'S BAND, and I was stumped by most of the NW for too long, still, I managed to solve this at the upper limit of my standard Tuesday time, so it only felt challenging in part.

The Archie I like to think of is Archie Goodwin, the first person narrator of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries. Read them all! In sequence! There were maybe two duds tops.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

My shout out to the Irish for today.

GILLIGANSISLAND and HOGANSHEROES are from my era which was 40 years ago for teenaged TV watching, but I'm guaranteeing you all that your average 20ish person of today watched more of each that anyone in my generation did – you’re all forgetting TVLand and endless reruns on cable.

Bill from NJ 10:41 AM  

Boy, janie sure hit the nail right on the head today. Crossword for the adult children of senior citizens. Perfect.

I think "Duffy's Tavern" was the Simpson's of the radio age.

Scratch a person who hates references to Pop Culture and you will most likely find a person who is not open to the times.

I dislike the dumbing down of American culture particularly when it expresses itself in the "Beverly Hillbillies" and "Gilligans Island" but, as edith b says, you must have grown up in a cave not to be aware to such things.

retired_chemist 10:53 AM  

Ho-hum. Another geezer who found this easy. BTW the PC term for geezer is "gerontologically challenged person of flatulence."

Two Ponies 10:53 AM  

I expected something Irish today but Gilligan and Hogan?? They might be Irish surnames but neither seems representative of anything Irish.
This one was so easy that I had most of it solved in my head before I even picked up my pen. Yawn.
Later I'll stop for a Guinness a our local British pub. Corned beef is in the slow cooker. Yum.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

As I was doing this I thought the theme was xxxx's xxx, i.e., titles with a possessive followed by a noun. I was expecting to see McHale's Navy at some point.

Unknown 11:05 AM  

O'Geezer here with a few memories. First, Duffy never appeared in the Tavern or on the show. Second, the script was full of funny word plays and third, the theme song was 'When Irish Eyes are Smiling.'
McNamara's Band (any Whiffenpoofs stories imsdave?) is purported to be the story of an actual Irish band. I know it from my days in North London where is sung by the loyal fans of Tottenham Hotspurs.
In Gilligan's Island it is unknown whether Gilligan is a first name or a last name, or as Bob Denver claimed, it was Gil Egan. I know nothing interesting about Hogan's Heroes.

jeff in chicago 11:15 AM  

Ah yes, we Irish love that we're known for drinking, paddy wagons, and angry fighting dwarf college sports team mascots. [sigh]

Another puzzle by E. Hugh McFeh (only Greene will get this. but Greene...McFeh really works today, no? HA!)

also @Greene: your post got me reading on Abe Burrows. A Pulitzer for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Wow! I did not know that. I was not surprised to see he is the father of James Burrows, who gave us The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace and others. Quite the talented family!

Doug 11:18 AM  

Well, call me a cavedweller but I didn't even know it was St. Patrick's Day despite the obvious theme. If I was Irish I guess it would be different! I just looked up the Canada Census and found Irish descendents = 14% of our population. That's 64 people if you do the math ;P

Wow, Montreal has the oldest N. American St. Pat's Day parade, from 1824, and the Montreal Shamrocks won the Stanley Cup in 1899. And Newfoundland is supposed to be the most Irish place in the world outside Ireland.

miguel 11:20 AM  

It is FINNEGANS WAKE not Finnegan's Wake. While initially hard to read, it is a comedy. Once in to it, you find yourself laughing literally on every page. The portmanteau, word plays, made up words (quark is taken from FW), confusion and disjointed narrative are amusing. The last sentence is a partial that is completed by the partial in the first line making the book circular.
(What an interesting crossword idea. Did Merl Reagle compose a set where the theme of the puzzles were completed/revealed on the second day?)

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

I vaguely remember "Duffy's Tavern" from when I was a kid, especially the opening line of the show. Simpson lovers--and any student of culture--should read the Wikipedia entry about Duffy's. It has deep roots.

O'Bert B

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

I felt the same way as JubJub. The actors aren't Irish (as far as I know), the characters, apart from Finnegan, aren't Irish (as far as I know). They just seem to have Irish names. So? Maybe I don't know as much as I like to think. Maybe I'm looking for too much from a theme.

It was a Tuesday, so I managed to get it all with crosses and general cultural knowledge, but I didn't feel particularly excited.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Oh, and Rex doesn't say there's anything wrong with being old, just that, well, the clues are mostly older cultural references.

Which makes me wonder - are there more recent Irish names in American pop culture? Or has the era of Irish dominance over American entertainment passed.

DJG 11:39 AM  

I definitely think it is safe to say this one skewed older. Not because it doesn't reference "The Simpsons", but because, as Rex pointed out, there is no theme entry pre-70s and three are from the 40s or earlier! (I'm not complaining about the puzzle, by the way.)

In response to Tanner, obviously it is possible to be aware of things without being a part of them, but unless you spend your time reading history, you are going to be much more knowledgeable about things your are a part of.

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

This was in line with my Tuesday average. If I solve at my regular pace without paying attention to the time, the clock is invariably at 5:28 when I finish a Monday or Tuesday. That's what it was today.

I wish I knew enough (or anything) about Finnegans Wake to come up with a parody of it crossed with Gilligan's Island. I did do an exercise one time where I tried to link authors' names by picking up the last name of one author as the first name of another, ad infinitum (Henry James Joyce Carol Oates . . . .) and ran into a Finnegan-like loop with Ford Maddox Ford.

archaeoprof 11:42 AM  

@Orange: this theme skews old? Ouch!

But I did love HOGANS HEROES as a kid...

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Should have said "more often than not" instead of "invariably." ("I don't think you know what that word means.")

HudsonHawk 11:48 AM  

Sandy, I agree regarding the names. At first, I thought all the theme answers would have a GAN in the Irish name. But three do, and two don't. Funny--before I regularly read this blog, I'm not sure I would have cared. How about COOGAN'S BLUFF and CARDIGAN SWEATER?

HudsonHawk 11:51 AM  

Wouldn't you know it, Coogan and Cardigan are of Welsh origin. Oh well...

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Half-cupper in Arizona.

SethG 12:21 PM  

Michael Flatley is Irish. I just look like I am.

I had hustle and rustle before I had bustle. I had Duffy's Saloon. I am not, nor do I look, old.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

I'll point out that they drink Duff Beer at Moe's Tavern.

On a different note from the blog, is I a proper noun, or a pronoun? And are those two terms etymologically related?

mac 12:36 PM  

@SethG: people often think I am Irish, as well, I've been told because of my coloring and the way I pronounce the "s". I have no problem with that, we're all potato eaters.

allan 12:46 PM  

Yo, this was def e-z to the ol' geez. Does that mean you young 'uns need complain? Say it's hard? Who complains when there are a million Simpson's refs, and shout outs to rock bands even most of you haven't heard of or care about? That's why they invented crosses.

Oops, just had a sip of my first Guinness and it seems to have a slight bitter orange flavor.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.

Avram Mendl Ha-O'Cohen.

jeff in chicago 12:46 PM  

an aside: don't let your crossword habit get the best of you, as this woman did...


(sorry, I don't know how to imbed web addresses)

GlobalPittsburgh 12:53 PM  

Challenging - NOT.
Maybe growing up in and around Boston (watching afternoon TV) and being an English major helped me with this one.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

Katie 12:59 PM  

I submit that, at 39, I am the youngest person who ever heard of Duffy's Tavern. It was mentioned in a trivia book I used to enjoy thumbing through when I was a kid. (Gads, was I ever a nerd.) McNamara's Band was also familiar after a bit of (mental) groping.

Also, I know it must be hard to come up with a fresh way to clue OBOE, but "Instrument held in both hands"???

Katie 12:59 PM  

I submit that, at 39, I am the youngest person who ever heard of Duffy's Tavern. It was mentioned in a trivia book I used to enjoy thumbing through when I was a kid. (Gads, was I ever a nerd.) McNamara's Band was also familiar after a bit of (mental) groping.

Also, I know it must be hard to come up with a fresh way to clue OBOE, but "Instrument held in both hands"???

Katie 1:00 PM  

Oops, sorry about that, guys.

retired_chemist 1:09 PM  

@ Jeff in Chicago:


which was: type text you want

Select page source in your browser's view menu to see the syntax.

If this doesn't work I will be red as a beet.

retired_chemist 1:19 PM  

@ Jeff - Basically I am red as a beet. I can't show the proper syntax on an html page without it parsing as a link. Catch 22.

e-mail me at caldwel2@airmail.net if you want help.

Shamik 2:02 PM  

Top o' the morning to you! (I know, it's probably afternoon where you are! It's only 11 a.m. here in Arizona.)

Old crone here with a time of 3:57. We all need an easy semi-Irish puzzle for a semi-Irish drinking, parading, corned beef and cabbaging holiday. Can't wait to meet Rex and pat the wee young laddie on the head or pinch his cheek. Hey...isn't that what old crones do? LOL

Hungry Mother 2:05 PM  

Another old Irishman who had an easy time of it.

Stephen 2:07 PM  

MTV VJ/Revlon (?) spokesperson Karen Duffy.

Blanche 2:09 PM  

Challenging??? NOT. And I see that ageism is rife on this blog.

foodie 2:28 PM  

Here's the thing... I'm very far from Irish and though I'm a geezer, I'm functionally like someone in their thirties, using YIA (years in America) as my measure. Never remotely heard of Duffy's Tavern or McNamara's Band. But I still found this fairly typical for a Tuesday.

I bring this up because this discussion made me realize something-- to me, it seems immaterial that I didn't know 2 of the long answers, as I often solve with such a disadvantage. I imagine that a lot of people who are US born but not so plugged into pop culture are in the same boat. I'm thinking that, by contrast, Rex and other young whizzes must achieve their amazing speeds through a convergence of all the factors--native talent and brain processing powers, experience and also extensive knowledge of pop and general culture. With all the clues referring to older events/figures, this puzzle erodes that latter advantage and becomes more challenging. In other words, Rex's rating today gave me a glimpse of what it takes to be such a whiz...

fikink 2:31 PM  

Rex, didn't Bobby's wife, Pam Ewing, have the dream?
A longtime friend of mine is a cousin of John McGinley of Scrubs (is that name-dropping?) and Duffy is her middle name.
@joho, I agree, no pall today unless we are going to sing "Danny Boy."
@jannieB, the finches are beginning to change color; Spring is definitely in the air here, which is why my favorite clue was "one catching a ram's eye."
@Crosscan, Elephant Man?
@mac, Vincent Van Gogh's "The Potato Eaters" is very evocative to me.

Geezers are better known as "Gomers" here.

Puzzle Mom 2:32 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Puzzle Mom 2:35 PM  

This rating (challenging) makes me feel a whole lot better about all those days when you rate puzzles easy or medium and they are neither. With all due respect, Rex, you've got some work to do on the ratings thing.

That said, I'm sure I can speak for the whole Puzzle family, Girl, Sister, Mom etc., in saying we are proud of our Irish heritage and happy to celebrate the day with the NYTimes Puzzle and Rex Parker.

retired_chemist 2:41 PM  

@ fikink - finches were turning here (N TX) 3 or 4 weeks ago.

joho 2:41 PM  

@fikink: so odd you'd drop John C.McGinley's name which is as nice and as Irish as Duffy. Years ago my ex-husband cast him in a commercial where he played a psycho ... and he's such a nice guy!

Oh, Danny Boy ... the pipes, the pipes are calling ...

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

Willie Nelson defined "perfect pitch" as throwing a banjo and hitting some bagpipes.

fikink 2:51 PM  

@retired chemist: Show off! :-)

@joho, yes, he's a doll, especially when he's "in his CUPS"!

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

Ageism? I just don't see it. The word "geezer" was introduced in the comments section, not by Rex.
It seems absolutely normal that some people will find a puzzle easier or harder than others, based on all sorts of factors. Age is a factor that influences what your gimmes are.
Bill in NJ - you think American culture wasn't dumbed down before Gilligan's Island? I'm not sure there was ever a Golden Age of High Culture. Maybe that's not what you're saying.

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

Hi Puzzle Mom! And here I thought you all were Norwegian or something :)

four and out.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

To follow up on Sandy, all the "geezers" were self identified as far as I can see. There's no ageism there.

miriam b 3:09 PM  

I'd have liked to see ZIA clued as the sun symbol on the NM state flag. This emblem originated at the Zia pueblo and has great cultural significance.

jeff in chicago 3:16 PM  

@sandy and Bill in NJ: At about the same time Gilligan's Island was on, there was also The Smothers Brothers show and even Laugh-In. It seems there is almost always something that can make you think (Frasier, even South Park) and crap (What About Jim? or Yes Dear).

Rex Parker 3:20 PM  

I can't wait to teach my four-part course on understanding and solving crosswords at the local Lyceum next year (continuing education, primarily for retirees). I'm going to explain that everything they know from "the olden days" is useless. Then I'm going to make them watch my favorite "Simpsons" episodes.


Unknown 3:26 PM  

I didn't grow up in a cave, but I was in England - so near enough.
Using foodie's YIA age, I'm a teenager, and all the theme answers (except FINNEGANSWAKE) were either completely unknown to me, or things I might have heard my wife mention.
I still managed to finish in only slightly longer than an average Tuesday, because the crosses were all very gettable. I think they must have been deliberately making allowances for non-geezers.

Ulrich 3:48 PM  

@miriam b; The best clue in my book for ZIA would be "my aunt in Rome" or something like that, perhaps even involving a "padre", b/c that's what ZIA means in Italian--it would give the TIA crowd fits.

mac 3:49 PM  

@shamik: I have never LOL-ed as loudly as when I read your comment!

@Foodie: I'm in the same boat, great post.

@Fikink: I thought of those paintings and sketches, too. Just saw them again last October.

What do you mean by finches turning? We have reddish brown house finches all winter, then any day now, hopefully, the gold finches return.

@rex: I'm studying those Simpsons...

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

I'd have hated to have seen ZIA clued as the sun symbol on the NM state flag.

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

@mac. The gold finches may very likely have been there the whole time, or for quite a while now. They've been here in NJ over winter, with new arrivals for the past month or so. They're just not gold until breeding season, and then really only the males.

Bill from NJ 4:03 PM  


High Culture was always there for the people willing to pay for it. Witness the cost of subscriptions to the opera and the theater.

But when TV replaced radio as the source of free entertainment for most people in the late 50s - early 60s, that was when the Tin Age of Culture began, the 2 examples I cited as evidence.

Understand, this is IMOO only.

Dan 4:04 PM  

I have to agree that Rex's Difficulty Meter is broken today, and has been uncharacteristically faulty lately. Odd.

Nobody remembers the awful TBS reality show from a few years ago, The Real Gilligan's Island?? Good.

Constructor/editor Fred Piscop has a site called MacNamara's Band, where he posts a free puzzle every week. There are hundreds of top-notch Tuesday-level crosswords archived there.

Miguel: Did Merl Reagle compose a set where the theme of the puzzles were completed/revealed on the second day?
Merl talked about this idea in the latest Ryan & Brian podcast, but he's still working on it...

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

Easy one for me, got the Irish theme (even though I thought "Hogan's Heroes" was a real stretch!)

Old? I'm not old! Just been around a while.... ;-)

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

I would have liked to see ZIA clued as "Coochie Coochie girl ___ Padora"

MarkTrevorSmith 4:33 PM  

This is one the very very easiest puzzles I've ever done in NYT; as a non-power solver, usually I need cross-outs or google, but not here at all. After three of the theme answers, though, I thought the theme might be something like "...gan's [something]"

@karen You're right; "I" is a pronoun, not a proper noun.

fikink 4:35 PM  

@Mac, Anonymous at 3:54 confirms the phenomenon I GRASPed this year when I kept the TERRA cotta feeders filled with black thistle. The goldfinches didn't HAZARD the trip south and I was able to observe them for the whole SPAN of winter. I was GLAD.:)

Glitch 4:51 PM  

@Orange, @jainie, @roxanne, @Bill NJ

Just because someone knows a bit of [popular culture] history doesn't necessarily make them either old or a geezer.

Just because they don't, I don't consider them dismissive and arrogant young twerps.

Even Rex has found merit in old novels and comics, maybe someday he'll realize the Simpsons are really not innovative, just repackaged for his generation.


Xavier 6:22 PM  

For the record, it is Patrick Duffy's birthday today. Rex, maybe that is why you thought of his name so easily this morning! Eerie.

This puzzle felt very average to me. I finished in an amount of time that would warrant an easy-medium rating on my scale, which means about 6:30 for a Tues.

I'm clearly no speed expert, but for those that want to increase their speed on early-week puzzles I think one trick is to read fewer clues. That is, force yourself to look at the long clues before you have (m)any letters. Does that sound about right to all you speed demons out there?


Jeffrey 6:38 PM  

This puzzle demonstrates the brilliance of well designed puzzles. Many of us had never heard of several of the theme answers, yet completed the puzzle in record time.

Just imagine how minor changes to some of the down clues could have turned this into a deadly late week stumper.

Blanche 6:59 PM  

Direct quote from Rex: This was a good day for (very) old people.

Anonymous 7:06 PM  

@Glitch: fully agree with comments about the Simpsons...being relatively recent (is 20 years recent?) and sarcastic will appear to young people as innovative...in reality its just repackaging of the same old stuff...what did the Simpsons replace on the longetivity scale, Bonanza or Gun Smoke or some such brain dead show...to see so many references to it in the puzzle is just annoying...QUICK: if all you want to do is do the puzzle quickly, would you learn about Beethoven or Bart...obviously the answer is Bart, but that is very very sad.

Ulrich 7:27 PM  

@Blanche: This quote can be offensive only to someone who thinks being very old is bad--so, who's the ageist?

I'm a geezer and proud of it!

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

As a semi-geezer, I found this very easy. But Duffy's Tavern is surely before the time of almost everyone here. And Finnegan's Wake is an age-related clue in the same way that "A Tale of Two Cities Is" -- which is to say not at all.

I appreciated the constructor's working all those names in, even if it required a lot of black squares.

foodie 7:32 PM  

It's interesting to me that associating something, even a puzzle solving advantage, with being old seems potentially insulting. Imagine the converse. There are puzzles that we see filled with references to new electronic gadgets, recent music bands, tv shows, urban expressions and the like (they're usually quite fun). If Rex comments that this is a good day for young people, would those young people be offended? Both types of comments are paying attention to the age variable as relevant to the solving process. But there is a reality to this that is no different from saying that a puzzle that's full of science references favors the scientists. Ageism implies discrimination. But I heard nothing that made me feel discriminated against.

I guess may be it's because I don't mind being old(er) or being perceived as such. It's a fact of life. It has some disadvantages but I see lots of advantages, and consider myself very lucky for it. And if someone thinks that my age helps me figure out something more easily, then I'm deeelighted : )

mac 7:43 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 7:45 PM  

Thank you foodie and ulrich.

Plus, I don't think you have to choose between Beethoven and Bart. It is possible to enjoy both.

Sorry. That was five.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

what's a geezer?

joho 7:56 PM  

@Blanche: I think Rex saying "This was a good day for (very) old people" was funny. I think you're as old as you feel, as old as you act ... and most assuredly, as old as you look. But the third reason is the least important as long as the first two are going strong.

I don't believe Rex is an ageist. He's not even that young!

I'm taking my Irish self off to relax after a very long day ... good evening everyone.

Anonymous 7:56 PM  

@Sandy: of course you could enjoy both but the question is: if you had to decide between the two and your only interest was doing well in the puzzle, which one would you study? the answer is Bart and that's a sad answer.

Leon 8:01 PM  

Thanks for the puzzle Mr. Chisholm.

I'm a geezer (ala I'm Spartacus ! )

Lots of memories flow from this puzzle and comments. Finnegans Wake leading the charge. riverrun (lower case) starts the tale and merges back from the end. Talk about Wordplay, he was the master.

High culture v. low culture , mid-cult v. mass-cult - Dwight Macdonald are you still relevant?


retired_chemist 8:10 PM  

I'm a geezer, you're a geezer, he's a geezer, she's a geezer - wouldn't you like to be a geezer too?

(sung to the tune of the Dr. Pepper commercial)

Jeffrey 8:15 PM  

@retired_chemist - I was just going to say (sing) the same thing!

Crosscan O'Geezer

Three and O'ut

retired_chemist 8:31 PM  

@ Crosscan - great minds think alike.

FWIW I REALLY enjoy the late afternoon and early evening posts, for which the sobriquet "silly season" could be appropriate.

five or so and out - but I think the silly season posts don't count, just like calories eaten while standing up do not count.

Retired_chemist O'Geezer.

Anonymous 8:44 PM  

old-timey term for an old fart...

xyz 8:50 PM  

Finished really early, posting really late, couldn't post at 0900 - my usual when I finish over coffee.

Easy fun puzzle to a "stuck can't-get-past-finishing-Thursday", just a small stutter in the mid-north, but easy from crosses to work out.

This is just the kind of puzzle I like - not a bunch of re-gurg fill in the blank. Some stuff I haven't a literal or proverbial clue (like ZIA) but easy to confirm by crosses.

Sometimes I wonder if I want to advance to best in the world, tee-hee. I really liked these two so far, call me a heretic toad.

Glitch 9:10 PM  

@foodie & Ulrich

agree -

I once felt "Simpson Challenged", but thanks to this blog, even that's passed.

@the redanman --- Thursday?!?
BTW you're a heretic toad :=)

Gotta go, maybe too much Guinness, call me a taxi


Anonymous 9:15 PM  

I finished quicker than yesterday, under 15 minutes. That's about average for me on a Tuesday, so I wouldn't say it was challenging. Yesterday's seemed hard for a Monday to me. I've never heard of Duffy's Tavern, but it was easy to figure with the other clues.

Orange 9:20 PM  

@Bill from NJ: Hey, Bill, your profile says you're 61. That qualifies you for the senior discount in a lot of places. I adore you, but you're not 30 anymore. Hell, I'm not 30 anymore either. But I am not eligible for any senior discounts.

Of course, when I've 59, "senior citizen" will be defined (by me) as age 75 and up, and I'll be just entering the prime of middle age. Remember back in the day when middle age meant 40s and 50s? Now it seems to mean 50s and 60s, with each generation clinging to its own degree of youth.

I may agree with Rex that this theme skewed old and that two of the theme answers were rather mysterious to me. But I still finished in 2:48 despite my youth relative to the theme. :-)

Orange 9:21 PM  

P.S. Loved the comment from the younger solver who said Simpsons references are for an older generation than his/hers!

retired_chemist 9:22 PM  

@ anon 8:44 -

PLEASE! be PC! Old fart indeed. We are gerontologically challenged persons of flatulence, as I said @ 10:53.

Guinness would be fine but the imbibition of the evening is the cheap (but remarkably palatable) Lindemann's 2007 Shiraz.

@ Crosscan: re O'ut - WELL DONE!

Anonymous 9:38 PM  

Radio: “Duffy’s Tavern, where the elite meet to eat. Archie the manager speakin’. Duffy ain’t here — oh, hello, Duffy.”

TV: "Moe's Tavern, where the elite meet to drink."

Glitch 9:38 PM  


You wrote:

"I may agree with Rex that this theme skewed old and that two of the theme answers were rather mysterious to me. But I still finished in 2:48 despite my youth relative to the theme. :-)"

So 2:48 from a self proclaimed neo-geezer ---not bad, and may even negate your previous point(s).

Recalling a mantra from MY youth: "Never trust anyone over 30", also help to put your remarks in context.

.../Glitch (not to be trusted)

janie 10:25 PM  

so hard to read all these takes on age and not think of these words from the bard dylan:

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

of course that'd be bard *bob* dylan -- and the lyrics for the entire song are here.

'night all --


allan 11:51 PM  

@ janie:

Or we could go with his take like this:

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

I know, not the dylan blog.

Tis a great day to be pseudo Irish.

janie 11:58 PM  

allan -- staying young at heart? yep -- i'll drink to that! what a terrific post --


Bill from NJ 12:23 AM  

This is the first time I've posted three times in a day for a long time.

I think there is a mass blurring of cultural references going on here with all the cable TV channels around.

I don't think there is so much reading going on as watching.

Orange, my family was stationed in Japan during the 50s and there was no TV. What we had for entertainment were old radio shows on Armed Forces Radio and old movies and newsreels at the Base Theater. So in my tween years I was exposed to a lot of radio shows from the 30s and 40s and movies from the same period.

When we returned to the States after our tour, talk about culture shock! All the actors and actresses had aged 30 years!

I developed an interest in Silent movies when I was in college so my head is full of pop culture references that span the 20th century.

I guess it came as no surprises to me during last years Teen Week the breadth of the constructors knowledge.

xyz 7:21 AM  


Yeah, I get stuck trying to finish Fri and Sat Puzzles, they puzzle me most of the time. There seems to me a quantum leap + increase in difficulty for my abilities from Thursday to Fri and Sat puzzles. They're hard for me, waaaah, and I'm not making any progress.

Wanta take it outside after finishing that Guiness?


I'm just breezing M-W, getting Thursday and looking like a third grader on Friday and Saturday.

But I'm not quitting.

Buy you a whisky - teach you how to drink .....


Anonymous 10:22 AM  

i got curious what the suffix -gan/ghan, -han in Irish names meant since 3 of the 5 had it...
it means "little" or "descended from" or "born of"...
(I guess like born-a-ghan?)

But I have to agree, what was Irish about Hogan?
I had mixed feelings, seems it was fun to have a radio show, a song, a tv show, and a book...so the fifth being another tv show, another -gan and nothing about being Irish threw it off for me...

One of those examples where I think 4 would have been better than 5.

And even I noticed how many black squares...but overall fun!
(Cheater squares were it could have been ERGO/DEADO, or something...

Two instruments you can hold with two hands: OBOE and SAX (too tired to insert rude joke here)

fergus 10:58 PM  

Way late, but the most appropriate Dylan line would be:

"I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now."

Anonymous 2:27 AM  

5wl... and up late at that too...

And glad to be confirmed with the "Challenging" rating.

Lots of typical 3/17 Irish crap innuendo here most of which is just really not new at all.

@Bill from NJ - you're one of my heroes and I was stoked to see you post 3 times. Sláinte!

- - Robert

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