THURSDAY, Apr. 23, 2009 - S Dobis (Documentarian Morris / Financial writer Marshall / One of Isabella I's kingdoms / Word with mountain or fly)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: BROWN (71A: Shade that defines 17-, 27-, 49- and 65-Across)


Word of the Day: IVOR Novello - David Ivor Davies (15 January 1893 – 6 March 1951), better known as Ivor Novello, was a Welsh composer, singer and actor who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the early 20th century. [...] After World War I, Novello pursued a film career until the 1930s. He starred in two silent films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The Lodger and Downhill, both in 1927. (wikipedia)

Not much to say about this one. Solid. Non-theme fill is pretty blah, but the theme is nice, tight, and the BROWNs are wonderfully varied - a name, a company, a football player, a school. The only thing that provided any difficulty in the puzzle, aside from some odd names here and there, was the fact that in a puzzle like this, your answers are really definitions and so are not apt to spring readily to mind because they don't tend to hold together as stand-alone phrases. The one big exception here is GODFATHER OF SOUL, which would be a fine entry in any puzzle (hard to think of any puzzle, or anything at all, that wouldn't be improved by a little James BROWN).

I had no trouble with the puzzle, though the first two theme answers were slower in coming than I would have liked. Much as I love James BROWN, I was not looking for him (didn't know the theme was "BROWN" yet, and I had GODFATHER -F SOU- and my mind went "GODFATHER OF SOUP?" and about a millisecond later I realized the right answer. Also had most of FEDEX COMPETITOR before I was able to get it. My FEDEX read -E-EX, and I thought "TELEX COMPETITOR?" Forgot, for a moment, that "BROWN" was what UPS has been calling itself lately. The other two theme answers were much easier for me to uncover.

Heavy on the proper nouns today. ROMER (34D: Former Colorado governor Roy) and LOEB (63D: Financial writer Marshall) and (oddly) LINC (51D: "The Mod Squad" role) were the only ones that gave me any trouble, but IVOR (56D: Songwriter Novello) might have been tough if you've never seen it before. AOKI (62D: Golfer Isao), ERROL (28D: Documentarian Morris), and OLSEN (19D: Merlin of football and TV) are standard crossword fare, and GIBB (55D: 1970s-'80s singer Andy), while not exactly common, is pretty damned famous (or was, in the late 70s). He was Teen Beat heartthrob of epic proportions.

[Olivia! ... give the video 10 seconds to get going]


  • 9A: Certain sultan's subject (Omani) - one of many vague clues. Got it easily 'cause I had the "O" in place.
  • 21A: Midcentury year (MDL) - see. Vagueness.
  • 37A: Language that contains no adjectives (Navaho) - wow ... how does that work. No BROWN?
  • 54A: Alternative to "roll the dice" ("spin") - I wanted STAY or STOP or something that meant "I choose NOT to continue in this game."
  • 55A: Band lineup (gigs) - I know that you "line up" GIGS, but would you call your GIGS a "lineup?"
  • 69A: Def Leppard hit "Pour Some Sugar _____" ("On Me") - don't mind if I do.

  • 72A: Title grp. in an ABC drama (NYPD) - "old" would have helped here
  • 6D: Word with mountain or fly (ash) - I don't know what mountain ASH or fly ASH is. They sound familiar, but I couldn't define them or draw you a picture. The former is apparently a tree.
  • 50D: One of Isabella I's kingdoms (Aragon) - a place more often associated with Catharine. Still, pretty easy with the "AR" in place.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Interview with me over at Crossword Corner today - you've probably heard it all before, but why not hear it all again!?


Parshutr 8:01 AM  

My fastest Thursday ever. It really helps to get enough sleep, and to recognize the GODFATHEROFSOUL immediately.
No sticking points today.

joho 8:34 AM  

I thought this to be way too easy for a Thursday. Also, I was hoping the color would be green to commemorate yesterday. Course, it would have had to run yesterday to really work. Oh well.

Also I got BROWN before filling in the theme answers which made this puzzle super easy.

retired_chemist 8:38 AM  

Only sticking point was an insistence on spelling NAVAHO with a J instead of an H, which made me Google OJARE. D'oh! I presume it is José Jiménez's favorite airport...

A nice puzzle. I had to wait to get the theme until I filled in many of the crosses.

retired_chemist 8:41 AM  

Oops -try

for José Jiménez.

Megan P 8:48 AM  

Loved the theme answers, especially FEDEXCOMPETITOR. One of my favorite Thursdays of late.

GlobalPittsburgh 9:00 AM  

Liked this puzzle. Agree with you, Rex, that a little James Brown is always a good thing.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

John 9:07 AM  

Had MML for 21A, thinking current centuury. There I go again, getting myself into trouble!!

PuzzleGirl 9:11 AM  

I got GODFATHER OF SOUL early, then went looking for the reveal clue. When I figured out that it was BROWN I thought it was referring to his skin color (Totally Blanked that his name was Brown) and thought "This doesn't seem appropriate!"

I also fell into the Navajo-with-a-J trap. And the stay-as-an-alternative-to-"roll the dice" trap. I would have preferred to see ASH clued with reference to Pokemon, but maybe that's just me. I wanted "Where the Iowa Straw Poll is done" to be Hamburg Inn, but that's the coffee bean poll. Also too many letters. Do attorneys really have LLDs? All the attorneys I've ever known (and, believe me, I've known plenty) have JDs.

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Good puzzle. Had to google a few times. Had ...excompetitor and put rolex before I got the theme.

Yummm Ribs St. Louis ribs!!!!!

Chorister 9:28 AM  

Somebody once told me that Navajo doesn't need adjectives because the language is already incredibly expressive without them. I don't know what Navaho is.

I'm with PG on the attorney question.

Glitch 9:28 AM  


Very roughly, varies by country, but in USA:

LL.D = Academic degree, generally honorary

JD = Professional degree (like MD)

So I guess the clue's use of "Attorney" is not strictly correct as one needs a JD to qualify.


fikink 9:34 AM  

I, too, wanted NAVAJO until OHARE had to be.

@Puzzlegirl, Hamburg Inn! HA! great!

Lisa in Kingston 9:36 AM  

Fun puzzle! I got BROWN before any of the other theme answers, so the rest of the theme was a little easier.
A minor quibble:
29D, Drone, is not clued correctly if talking about honey bees. Drones do not attend the queen, that's the job of the worker bees. Drones don't care much about the queen. They do, however, take regular flights in search of virgin queens!

David 9:41 AM  

I am a lawyer and my only professional degree is an LL.B. predating the awarding of the JD., so not all attorneys have a JD.

Shamik 9:57 AM  

Generally, here in Arizona you see NAVAJO because the original explorers wrote in Spanish. NAVAHO would be Anglicized. And, of course, the tribe calls itself "Dineh," meaning "the people."

I also wanted STAY for roll the dice. Taking it colloquially, that makes very good sense. Your casino alternatives to roll the dice would also include DEAL (the cards) or PULL (the lever...which doesn't exist much now) or PUSH (the spin button on the slots) or STAY (at blackjack).

Other mis-starts:
MML for MDL (thinking this century)

Easy puzzle for me at 7:58.

@PuzzleGirl: Hope you didn't need to hire all those lawyers you know for yourself! ; )

Glitch 10:05 AM  


Thanks for the xtra info.

I'm not a lawyer [I only play one on blogs].

My comments came from wiki quickie and thus the "very roughly" qualifier --- based on the source and speed ;-)


Pete M 10:23 AM  

Except for OJARE and HARMUP, this puzzle was a breeze. :)

I know Google is not a definitive reference, but NAVAJO gets 6 times the hits of NAVAHO. I would have preferred to see a "Var." there.

Two Ponies 10:28 AM  

Pretty easy for a Thursday.
What is fly ash or ash fly?

Ulrich 10:32 AM  

One more to fall into the Navajo trap--I've been there, Canyon de Chelly, a great experience, and I swear I saw the with-a-j spelling.

A very pleasant Thursday for all the reasons Rex stated. I somehow managed to spot the hint in the SW early, which helped greatly in getting theme answers 2 to 4 with a few crosses. No trip-ups, for me, for once, b/c crosses would always come to the rescue.

I'm waiting for someone who actually knows Navaj(h)o to explain how it expresses properties of objects--or is this in itself a biased question?

Anne 10:45 AM  

When I was a teenager, I loved James Brown and in the small white southern town where I lived, that was scandalous. Now I hear his music used in mundane commercials and I just roll my eyes, in the same way my mother used to roll hers, for different reasons, of course.

But I thought this was fun and a good Thursday.

Anne, one of the lonely people. (That comment from yesterday also made me roll my eyes.)

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Fly ash is the solidified atmospheric pollution of (especially I think) coal-burning power plants.

You'd think (I would) that keeping this stuff from running around in the atmosphere would be a good thing.

But in this area anyway, somebody built a golf course on top of this stuff and now they have problems with ground water contamination.

Keep on truckin'

toothdoc 10:52 AM  

I was an attorney before seeing the light and moving to dentistry, for your edification:
J.D. - US degree (Juris Doctor)
L.L.B. - usually a british degree
L.L.M. - Master of Legal Letters(usually tax/finance guys)
L.L.D. - Doctor of Legal Letters (people with too much time on their hands)

Kurisu 11:08 AM  

Having lived in Chicago I was able to easily correct the NAVAJO mistake. Overall I liked the puzzle but the bottom section slaughtered me because of an overabundance of proper names -- GIBB, IVOR, AOKI, LINC, and LOEB were all unfamiliar to me, and I had HITS instead of GIGS which made the left part hard to get.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Even though I live in Chgo, had a devil of a time with 'OHARE'. Glad you include pic of Bernie Kozar---someone didn't know who he was a while back.

mexgirl 11:15 AM  

Really, really enjoyed this puzzle!!
Only complaints (well, let's call it instead "things I quite don't get") are Navaho without the J, ASH FLY/MOUNTAIN and BORER for DRILL..? My knowledge of English grammar fails me here.
I also thought it was funny that I got stumped forever looking for a Swiss city starting with F. :-)

Kurisu 11:24 AM  

A drill can be described (in crosswordese) as a "borer" because it bores holes in things. I've never heard of an ash fly or ash mountain so I can't help you there.

hazel 11:27 AM  

fly ash is definitely a pollutant associated with coal-fired power plants - its typically captured and slurried into a man-made pond. These ponds are generally (now) clay-lined to prevent leaching of metals (from the coal) into the groundwater. Sometimes the walls of the flyash ponds break, and the ponds deliver their flyash into adjacent streams and rivers and create headlines - this happened at a TVA plant recently, and I think the story made national news; it was certainly a big hullabaloo in the South.

I never thought I'd see the word in a crossword puzzle.

All in all liked this puzzle quite a bit. Agree with @Pete that Navaho should have been clued as a variant. The proof's in the googling.

slypett 11:41 AM  

Anyone else get AARON for ERROL? I guess you had to get the --RO- cross first to get dumped in there.

LeBron 12:07 PM  

I used to think that you liberal NYC types were merely dismissive of the Heartland of America, now I see you're downright cruel.
That of all Cleveland teams the NYTimes would like to remind my fellow citizens of, particularly during the basketball playoffs, are the BROWNS is inexcusable, cruel and heartless.

That's it, I'm not coming to NY!

ileen 12:18 PM  

One more for the Navajo issue here. I knew OJARE was wrong but wasn't thinking of an airport as a place that gets visitors, so it took too long to make this correction. I would have appreciated a (var) with that clue.

Doug 12:20 PM  

I thought this was pretty hard at first; got stuck with BERNE as the Swiss capital instead of FRANC. Got James Brown's theme fast and that got me going. Northeast corner had me stumped until the end.

Clark 12:24 PM  

To get an LLM or LLD you need to first have a JD or equivalent (say, LLB). So the LLD is a degree of attorneys. The US first rung attorney's degree used to be LLB, but that led to lawyers being treated under various statutory and administrative pay scales as if they had only bachelor's degrees. Now we couldn't have lawyers not being paid well, so rather than work to change all those statues and rules and policies, the lawyers just changed the name of their degree. At least, that is the story I heard.

I've never researched it to see if it is true. But, we did have a Mountain Ash tree in our yard when I was growing up.

jae 12:37 PM  

NAVAJO here too. Top third was very easy but the J and all the names made the bottom two thirds a little trickier. Plus I kept looking for a way to get UNITED PARCEL SER. into the grid. Good puzzle, clever theme.

Andy 12:41 PM  

I think "visitors" was the wrong word for O'HARE, or as I'd like to call it, "O'JARE." NAVAHO makes no sense to me without Variation. But back to visitors. That word implies a place being sought as a destination. I visit my coffee shop... I wouldn't say I visit the sidewalk on the way to go to the coffee shop. 80 million people "pass through" O'Hare every year. I bet less than a thousand actually visit.

I wouldn't care normally, but for some reason this puzzle held no joy for me. I think it's because the theme answers were crossed with so many proper nouns. I don't know my Colorado governors, so that's not something I can use logic to parse out.

It's weird, looking at it filled in it seems a lot nicer. I guess I just resent this being an easy puzzle for everyone but me!

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

Nice puzzle but the clue for UPS falls a little short. No one refers to UPS as simply Brown. It's Big Brown or the Big Brown Machine.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

@anon 12:52

What can Brown do for you?

PlantieBea 1:06 PM  

A pretty easy Thursday except in the center where I wanted 27A to be FED EX CORP something. Thought for sure, since I had most of the puzzle, that FED EX and UPS had been swapped by mistake. Quickly figured out the problem after getting OLSEN whom I didn't know.

European mountain ashes, commonly planted in the upper midwest, are beautiful trees that produce a bright orange small fruit visible in the fall. They are not in the ash family at all; rather, they are closely related to apples and such in the rose family. Another common name for this mountain ash is ROWAN. Check out a photo since you may have seen this tree without knowing what it was.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:11 PM  

Easy puzzle, would be a respectable Wednesday.

Now if the BROWN had been a rebus, it would qualify as a Thursday. (Only use, clearly not smooth, that I can come up with is "The Harvard cluB ROW Next in the regatta.)

Agree with all, should be NAVAJO.

Vega 1:22 PM  

Yep, I too was this close to googling "ojare." So glad I'm not the only one. I thought this was a fine puzzle, nothing spectacular but fine. As a diehard fan of Olivia (and Andy), I thank you for the video. Man, she's cute.


Sandy 1:24 PM  

Andy, I also took a weirdly long time with this, then looking back at it, I couldn't figure out why. I think I just held on to some wrong answers for way too long.

joho 1:39 PM  

I didn't even notice when doing the puzzle, but NAVAHO most definitely needs a VAR.


fergus 2:17 PM  

Way too straightforward -- this puzzle wouldn't even qualify as an ESCAPE.

jeff in chicago 2:19 PM  

PuzzleGirl in trouble with the law. Doesn't surprise me one bit!


Thumbs up to the puzzle.

Go Browns! (the Kosar days were great!!!!!)

edith b 2:53 PM  

I had a really hard time with this one, working from the South up. I had the clue to the theme from the very start but had real problems in the North that prevented me from seeing the clue to James Brown. I finally saw POTENCY and, from there, quickly filled in the rest.

Most difficult time I ever had on a Thursday and I hope it doesn't bode ill come Friday and Saturday.

Unknown 3:01 PM  

I had "BILL" in for 55A, which makes a lot more sense than "GIGS" based on the clue.

Bill from NJ 3:04 PM  

I had OHARE before I got NAVAHO so I neatly sidestepped that trap. On the other hand, I kept trying to fit BERNE as capital of Switzerland so I spent a considerable amount of time on this one. Ironically, I had no trouble with all the Proper names in the South.

Dough 3:08 PM  

The "Navajo" vs. "Navaho" alternate spellings reminds me of a story I heard from an editor at Dell Crosswords. They had "Navaho" in a puzzle, spelled with the "H." The crossing was "_ E W S," clued as "Cuts down." You can imagine the outcry!

Elaine 3:16 PM  


I got the theme, and "The Godfather of Soul," but then got stuck. I straightened out Navaj/ho to get OHARE, but never managed to find my way to "FRANC" from "BERNE."

Oh, and btw, Rex asked: "55A: Band lineup (gigs) - I know that you "line up" GIGS, but would you call your GIGS a "lineup?" The answer is NO, I and my band would NOT. We would say "we have 3 gigs lined up."

So, despite the interesting theme, a frustrating puzzle for me!

PS: Regarding Navajo and its lack of adjectives, wikipedia says, "There is nothing that corresponds to what are called adjectives in English, this adjectival function being provided by verbs." Sounds very interesting -- I'd love to find out more!

DanaJ 3:17 PM  

@Doug - Like you, I entered BERNE early on, instead of FRANC. Since I *knew* this had to be right, that side of the puzzle took me a long time. It even worked with 44A (NONAME), as both words have N as the 4th letter.
Haven't thought of Andy GIBB in a long time. In 6th grade, we always debated whether Andy or Barry GIBB was the cutest brother.

Ruth 3:25 PM  

Hm, I was debating who is prettier, Andy or ONJ. Also it strikes me that cosmetic dentistry for superstars has advanced so much in recent years that neither of them has an acceptable set of choppers by today's standards.

Ah well--de mortuis nil nisi bonum, in Andy's case.

Joe 3:35 PM  

Nah. Didn't like it all.
Too vague and then too specific.
"FedEx competitor" SUCKS as an answer.
And how about "navaJo"?

Glitch 4:29 PM  


re your: "... At least, that is the story I heard".

Was that before or after the Tooth Fairy story??

.../Glitcj er, I mean Glitch

Glitch 4:37 PM  


Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb = Bee Gees (for Brothers Gibb)

Don't think Andy was related, but still could be someone's brother, so your pondering still may be correct ;-)


Daniel Myers 4:53 PM  

(Yawns)-Easy puzzle--Don't see what all the to-do is about but,

@anonymous---I've noticed that - whether by research and/or knowledge - you always know whereof you speak.

chefwen 4:58 PM  

Maybe Puzzle Girl needed a lawyer to sue the person who spit at her.
Puzzle Girl?
Fell into the same traps as everyone else except Berne vs. FRANC as I was pretty sure that Bern didn't have an e at the end.
All in all a good Thursday

syndakate 5:08 PM  

Can anyone tell me when the Dinner Impossible episode airs?

Frieda 5:11 PM  

With Andy and Sandy and others on this--steady effort to get little bits of things, red herrings in a parallel universe puzzle that wouldn't stay put. AXLES for AUTOS, GED for RRR, COIN for CENT, AMPS for GIGS, and then all of a sudden it was all there as it should be.

NAVAHO/OHARE was one of those minor messes.

Here's a link that shows up some of the adjective issue. (Amazing Grace in Navajo/Dine, translations on screen)

Ulrich 5:13 PM  

@chefwen: "Berne" is the French name of the city named "Bern" in German. But since "swiss" in the clue is English, it was perfectly ambiguous which version would be asked for in the answer.

But I have also to say that I have little confidence in the foreign-language capabilities of the puzzle editors (judging by what I have seen when it comes to German and German history--I'm still smarting from the non-existing King Otto featured at the ACPT) and my guess is they were not even aware of the distinction.

HudsonHawk 5:21 PM  

@Glitch, Andy Gibb was the considerably younger brother to Barry, Robin and Maurice.

chefbea 5:23 PM  

@syndakate Dinner Impossible is wed. May 6th. 10:pm starring non other than our very own Andrea!!!

Two Ponies 5:33 PM  

Considering Rex's choice of James Brown videos I found it amusing that Godfather of Soul crossed with potency. That was one confident man!

Clark 5:44 PM  

@Glitch -- What do you mean the Tooth Fairy story? I put a tooth under my pillow; there was cash there in the morning. End of story. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.


Jeffrey 6:17 PM  

@chefbea - is that time confirmed? Neither the Food Network site nor the ACPT site has the episode listed.

Jeffrey 6:29 PM  

Answering my own question, does confirm Wed May 6 as chefbea said.

Unfortunately for those of us north of the border, it appears Food Network Canada is running episodes about 6 months behind the US.

Anonymous 6:47 PM  

Andrea has sent out the following:

And while I have your attention...might you mark your calendars for
WED MAY 6th 10pm "Dinner Impossible" on the Food Network

(looooooong story but I am a sous chef on a reality show!
Suffice to say it involves crosswords!)

Exclamation marks verify it's authorship.

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

First time poster. I come here a lot to see what I get wrong. I have been in syndication land for a long time and just subscribed to NYTimes. I have 1 question what is E.T.S. (48 across) GRE? Thanks.


jae 7:28 PM  

@anon 6:56 That would be Educational Testing Service located in scenic Princeton, NJ. They are responsible for the SATS, GRE (Graduate Record Exams), and others. And, yes Glitch, Andy is the younger brother of the three BGs.

chefbea 8:00 PM  

so I guess I was right!!!

Unknown 8:15 PM  

Thanks, Makes sense. It just wasn't coming this evening.


Lisa in Kingston 8:23 PM  

@jae, I used to live in Iowa City, IA, and I recall ETS had a facility there. Their website doesn't say anything about it, I wonder if they moved...
My goodness, can I think of anything drier to comment on than ETS?

fikink 8:41 PM  

@Lisa in Kingston, might you be thinking of ACT? Or are they one and the same? There are five buildings at ACT's Main Campus, located just off Interstate 80 in Iowa City.

michael 8:55 PM  

@Lisa in Kingston. I live in Iowa City. ACT is here, not ETS.

Jeffrey 9:11 PM  

@chefbea - You are indeed right and a beeter source than the "official" sites.

chefbea 9:17 PM  

@crosscan lol

Banjo Grrl 9:55 PM  

Just to answer Andy, 9 hours later: I also found no joy in this puzzle and was in fact quite frustrated. In addition to all the proper nouns, I got hung up on "having a bite." Eating? Lunching? Too many letters! And couldn't get two of the theme answers. Maybe I should stick to Monday puzzles....

Lisa in Kingston 11:10 PM  

@fikink @michael, hey you're right! I misremembered. Thanks for the refresher.
I used to live across from the dairy on Prairie du Chien.

mac 11:59 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, it had a little "tang" here and there, and I needed no outside help. I'm late and sleepy, and see you tomorrow!

Southern Ma'am 12:24 AM  

James makes us proud here in Macon. I used to see him at the City Auditorium with 5 other great acts for about four bucks back I'm the late '60's.
@Bea: tangy ribs and R&B! Yes!

Southern Ma'am 12:26 AM  

Hate typo's.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

Wow - you must've been in a good mood: the fill in the NE corner is worse than 'blah.' ATOR + NOUS + ERSE = ugh. And it's so closed off, there's just no excuse...except laziness.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

Well, was in a bad mood tonight but reading Rex's blog started to cheer me up and then everyone else's messages finished the job.
Did anyone think of this as a mood stabilizer? Or as a back soft jazz ensemble? Or a counselor? Or whatever? Or just fun?

Enjoyed the puzzle and the blog.

Kathy D.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Let BROWN do it! BROWN by itself is an excellent UPS moniker - comes from trucks and uniforms. We deal with their employees as patients on a regular basis and BROWN it is to them and us.

Sam 11:36 PM  

Cripes. Okay, I'm not that good. I obviously bit the bait and wrote "Berne" for swiss capital. Also I thought "band lineup" was for sure "bill". stupid clue (as a result of that i figured the urban street vendor's offering was "love" hahaha). I thought the first big one was Godfather's Pizza, so I thought 71-across was "black". I had "AGUES" for the last big one, so I thought it was something to do with the black plague. ARGH.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

Was that really LeBron James????

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