Whom Marlin sought in a 2003 film - TUESDAY, May 5, 2009 - T Payne (Evil computer in 2001 / Decide against reorganizing the pet store?)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "S" to "ZZ" - phrases have their "S" sound turned to a "Z" sound, resulting in wacky phrases which are clued, "?"-style

Word of the Day: FUSS AND FEATHERS - Needless commotion and display, as in There was so much fuss and feathers over the award ceremony that I decided not to attend. This expression probably survives because of its appealing alliteration. [Mid-1800s]; also the nickname of a general from the War of 1812 (Winfield Scott, aka "Old Fuss and Feathers") and a 1918 film.

Apologies to all, but I have a hellishly busy day, so I'm going to crank this one out quickly. I was not a fan of this puzzle. Sound change seems tired, examples seem arbitrary. I don't know what holds them together besides the sound/spelling change, and that doesn't seem like much. Resulting phrases are ho-hum (odd, considering how many "Z"s are involved, but true nonetheless). The strange "?" clues made the theme answers really hard to see at first, but that difficulty was more than offset by the ridiculously easy cluing on the rest of the puzzle. I just ignored the theme answers and tore through the rest, and ended up with a time that was actually a bit better than my average Tuesday. Ickiest thing here is "FUZZ AND FEATHERS," which is a phrase which, in its original form, I'd never heard or seen until just now. Unless I have seen it and forgot it. It feels very old-fashioned and out-of-the-language, not a great combination for a Tuesday theme answer. Further, FUZZ AND FEATHERS doesn't give much of a new valence to FUSS AND FEATHERS. If you had told me the former was the actual expression, I'd have believed you.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Decide against reorganizing the pet store? (don't move a muZZle)
  • 38A: Conversation-filled places in a restaurant? (buZZing tables) - weird that the letter/sound change results in a part-of-speech change
  • 61A: What chicks have? (fuZZ and feathers)


  • 1A: Cheney's successor as vice presdient (Biden) - even just now, as I typed it in, I wrote GORE. While solving, I actually had to pause a second or so to remember whom I was dealing with.
  • 6A: Prize in the ad biz (Clio) - One of the many awards it helps to know when solving crosswords. OBIE and HUGO are in there too.
  • 44A: Evil computer in "2001" (Hal) - "evil" is pretty strong / moralistic. Not sure a machine, however murderous, can be judged in such moral terms
  • 2A: Musical whose opening song is "All the Dearly Beloved" ("I Do, I Do") - Never heard of it. I know the ABBA song "I DO I DO I DO I DO I DO" (which was a crossword answer a while back)

  • 5A: Jules et Jim, par exemple (noms) - "Names." Sort of misdirective, as "Jules et Jim" was a Truffaut FILM.
  • 53A: Massless particle (photon) - my physics failed me. Not sure what I had here at first, but I had to piece it together from crosses. One of the few non-theme answers that gave me any resistance.
  • 40A: Whom Marlin sought in a 2003 film (Nemo) - saw this identical clue in some other puzzle some time in the past few days, it feels like.
  • 38D: Low-pitched instrument (bass tuba) - there are other kinds of tubas? I had BASS VIOL.
  • 51A: Sudan/Saudi Arabia separator (Red Sea) - "Saudi Arabia" part of the clue made it easy. Sadly, I'm not sure I could have told you Sudan was on the western side. I knew Egypt was. There's one more country over there. Can you name it?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 7:56 AM  

I thought this was difficult for a Tuesday.

PuzzleGirl 8:30 AM  

I didn't love this puzzle. And, this is weird. Looking it over now I see that I like most of the down answers, but not the acrosses. Can't say I've ever noticed that about a puzzle before.

I'm not a big musical person, but I've heard of "I Do, I Do." I didn't know there was such a thing as a BASS TUBA, but I know that most people want to call all those big horns back there tubas when they really have other names. So I guess it didn't surprise me that I didn't know one of those other names.

I thought KATE Winslet was the one who spelled her name with a C, but that's Cate Blanchett.

Got a kick out of ALL-STAR, USER ID, and RINGLET.

hazel 8:31 AM  

I did not find this difficult for a Tuesday, but did find it a bit odd (for any day, not just a Tuesday). And oddly enough, I liked the acrosses!

I thought they were sort of noirish, suspiciously cool - not the s to z sound part which I thought was a mess - rather, I liked the words and the grid arrangement alot. Seemed to hold lots of little hidden stories/moments. TUB NAP ECRU (warm and comfy - and a chance to eat a BITOHONEY). FIG SCI PROPS (tedious science project). UBER EYES EERIE (case for the LA Confidential detectives). KATE TEL HAL (who knows what she could be calling him about - nothing good I think).

Anyway, kind of a cool puzzle for me, dawg.

joho 8:48 AM  

@hazel ... kind of cool for me, too, only maybe a little pitchy.

I definitely liked it better than Simon .. er, Rex.

DONTMOVEAMUZZLE made me smile.

As Tuesdays go, not too bad ... we've had much worse.

HudsonHawk 9:01 AM  

The third country across the Red Sea would be ERITREA, a good crosswordese bit of geography. I also liked the downs, especially the NEZ PERCE next to the ALL STARS. As for 38D, SOUSAPHONE was a BAD FIT, so I went with the BASS TUBA.

hazel 9:12 AM  

@joho - totally right! it WAS a little pitchy!!

PlantieBea 9:46 AM  

A relatively easy Tuesday with some fun answers--CAVIAR, RICH chocolate, PRADA, PHOTONS, FIG, TORIC shaped doughnuts. I liked seeing BIT O HONEY, but recalling the taste of the grainy, chewy candy--BLECH! We never wanted those in our Halloween bags.

I have not heard Fuss and Feathers before, so that themed answer fell flat.

nanpilla 9:48 AM  

I liked BUZZING crossing BIT O HONEY. And the clever way to clue OOMPAHPAH with BASS TUBA. Other than that, this left me a little flat.

nanpilla 9:50 AM  

@PlantieBea : I guess we are both thinking deflation today!

Anne 9:54 AM  

This one was odd. I liked it because it took a bit more effort than the usual Tuesday (photon, for example) but I didn't like the theme much, starting with the clue about the pet store. I remember liking a Bit O Honey a long time ago, funny how one remembers taste.

retired_chemist 10:00 AM  

Liked it OK but didn't find it thrilling. The theme did seem a bit forced. Should have had PHOTON instantly but needed crosses.

Wikipedia confirms that there is a BASS TUBA and it is played by a human instead of a fish, which image was my chuckle for the puzzle. Now I know there are subcontrabass tubas (but rarely), contrabass tubas, bass tubas, and tenor tubas, the latter better known as a euphonium. Now you do too. This is more than I EVER wanted to know about tubas. Maybe you too.

Not knowing the reference, I started with MES, not LES, @58A. That made 47D, "Amazingly enough," NO MESS. Looked at my desk and decided NO MESS would indeed be amazing, but went with NO LESS.

slypett 10:14 AM  

What kind of pet store sells MUSSELS?

foodie 10:14 AM  

I kept changing my mind about whether I liked or disliked this puzzle, as I was solving it. Some of the things I liked included the slightly quirky, yet easy to figure, clues... e.g "expensive eggs", "cousin of beige", "very chocolaty". But while the theme idea could have been fun, it ended up a bit flat.

I had IRIS in lieu of ISIS which caused some trouble near Sacramento.

Does BIT-O-HONEY still exist? I'm not a candy person so I only figured it out from the crosses, and it was only remotely familiar after the fact.

On the other hand, I am a FIG person. Fresh figs in particular. I totally get their association with Eden.

foodie 10:19 AM  

P.S. "Au Revoir Les Enfants" has got to be one of the best movies, ever. A great way to clue "LES"

@Xman, LOL. I don't think the clue was supposed to also apply to the original phrase. But your question made me think that the theme would have been terrific if that had been the case

Two Ponies 10:27 AM  

I thought this was more difficult than the usual Tuesday. Esp. the NE with Adano crossing an unknown (to me) musical and toric plus a few higher-end answers scattered around.
Don't move a muzzle was my favorite too.

ArtLvr 10:38 AM  

This had a reasonable freshness factor, for me. I did it fast, but the first theme answer seemed to be DON'T MOVE A MUSSEL until I corrected it with crosses in the NE, -- NEZ PERCE was a gimme since PBS just reran Ken Burns' great "Lewis and Clark".

The ZZ's were FUN, with added early US history in LEE and FUZZ AND FEATHERS. I did try pRoton and Bit-a Roney for a moment, fairly sure that was wrong, plus BASS viol, like Rex. Nice TIE TO the TUBA with OOMPAHPAH (many thanks to R_C for the full tuba gamut).

The MEDiterranean clues were neat too, with ISIS, ADANO, TEL, RED SEA and FIG tree, EZRA too even if ONAN wasn't clued Biblically. And YEWS added another tree... Film director WELLES crossed with filming WRAP was more icing on the cake.

Favorite fill -- DITZES. I'm in that kind of mood today!


Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Yuk--I hated this puzzle and didn't even finish it.

edith b 11:00 AM  

I developed an interest in Native American history based on Chief Joseph of the NEZPERCE's famous statement "I will fight no more forever.", something I found both wistful and dignified at the same time.

Reason number 235 why I love crossword puzzles.

DJG 11:13 AM  

Very hard for a Tuesday, I thought, particularly the NW with ADANO and IDOIDO being unknown to me.

Overall, so-so puzzle -- really contrived theme answers, but some good non-theme fill.

Noam D. Elkies 11:21 AM  

Yes, tubas come in several sizes of which the bass is one; and there are also Wagner tubas, which some authorities claim are not tubas at all. Curiously the word is from Latin but meant "trumpet" to the Romans, whence the name of the obsolete saxtuba (readers of Word Freak might remember the unexpected anagram "subtaxa"). Back to the crossword — 9D:OOMPAHPAH would indeed be a nice link with 38D:BASSTUBA, but as clued it is instead an old error: the tuba only goes OOM, while tenor-range instruments such as trombones or French horns provide the PAHs.

Yes, I wondered about 47D:NOMESS too. And since I solved from the bottom up I didn't know what the theme was gettig at until I reached 17A. OK puscle but not great.


Chip Hilton 11:49 AM  

Thanks, Rex. I feel better knowing that I wasn't the only brain-cramper on BIDEN/Gore. Amazing how when you misread a clue, it just doesn't want to correct sometimes.

TORIC, IDED, and the aforementioned Veep clue tied up my NW corner for a bit. Otherwise, Tuesday appropriate for me.

Doc John 11:58 AM  

I struggled through this one, finally realizing that "mussles" wasn't the correct spelling and changed it to Zs and that did it for me. With the theme, I would have expected a clue or at least a pic of this.

Hm, a sub-contrabass tuba. I've GOT to play one of those once- probably blow out windows for miles around! As if sousaphones weren't fun enough to play. *grin*

jeff in chicago 12:01 PM  

This was just all right for me. We had two changes from SS to ZZ and one change from SC to ZZ. Ugh.

@NDE: Yes! Tuba for the OOM only. (The former band geek in me comes forth!)

We have CAVIER dangling over NEMO. And I'm not sure if there's a fish joke there or not.

Eric 12:04 PM  

Enough with the Simpsons already

Ross G-Whiz 12:12 PM  

I had IDED for 23A (Picked out of a lineup) then meandered my way around the puzzle until 50D USERID (Computer handle) and thought hmmm ... too similar for the same puzzle. So I crossed out IDED and wrote in EYED. Until I came to 66A ("Windows to the soul") which had to be EYES.

Is that overthinking for a Tuesday?

Shamik 12:14 PM  

@joho: LOL...yes, this was certainly a Cowellesque write-up this morning on Rex's part.

Found this one to be medium-challenging and delightful! As I was solving, I was thinking, "great puzzle...everyone's going to love this one." SHOCK! Good thing there are so many flavors of ice cream, so many different horses to bet on, etc.

If it weren't for crossword puzzles, I wouldn't be so familiar with Simpson Culture. Ok...so I had STU instead of APU, but quickly resolved that.

This puzzles wasn't a BADFIT for me. IDOIDO puzzles every day, no matter what DANGER I get in for not taking a STEP towards goetting my work done. BAR none, Trip Payne gave us a RICH one today. It was FUN and a BITOHONEY for the EYES. Could we make a lunch of FIG, CAVIAR and ORZO? What if we invite EZRA, KATE and LEE over? CUZ we can let HER KID watch NEMO while we WRAP up the meal.

chefbea 12:19 PM  

Harder thn the usual Tuesday. But lots of good food mentioned both in the puzzle and in the posts. Figs, mussels,chocolate, bit-o-honey. I do remember eating bit-o-honey but if you wore braces it was a
no no.

chefbea 12:21 PM  

forgot caviar and orzo. I think I could make a meal out of all the foods.

Greene 12:32 PM  

I was taken to see I Do! I Do! way back in 1967 and I remember being completely charmed by it. Mary Martin and Robert Preston were absolutely at the top of their game in those days. They had a kind of star presence that most modern theatre performers lack.

The show covered 50 years in the life of a married couple, so these actors had to start out playing young and end up quite old. I think what they mostly did was play themselves, but I do remember them applying their own aging make-up in full view of the audience (even while a scene was going on). It seemed rather novel at the time.

Cluing the show with the song title "All The Dearly Beloved" is kind of clever if you ask me. Nobody knows the song (well, except me I suppose), but the title puts you in mind of a wedding and makes I Do! I Do! pretty gettable with maybe just a few crosses. I think if Trip had chosen to clue the show with the only song hit, "My Cup Runneth Over," then I think more solvers might have been temporarily stumped.

Vega 12:38 PM  

This felt like a fairly easy, fairly pleasant Tuesday puzzle to me.

I had the same thought about HAL, too. "Evil"? I don't know about that. Self-preserving, maybe, frighteningly in control, yes, but "evil," not quite.

Again, overthinking for a Tuesday.


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

@Green or anyone

Not knowing the musical, is it the same "My Cup Runneth Over" that was a big hit for Ed Ames?

Also, "overthinking" on Tuesday, or any other day, tends to take the fun out of solving.

(Will check back after I walk my pet mussles).


12:51 PM

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

I agree, enough w/ the Simpsons clues...
Had trouble in the NW corner. Put the paper down (I do hard copy, right after KenKen)and picked it back up and it all came to me. I didnt know Nez Perce, got it from the crosses.
More of a Wednesday puzzle for me anyhow.

mac 1:19 PM  

I must be in a really good mood today, because I enjoyed this puzzle. The theme was fine (you know how I feel about themes) and the fill was fresh and in some cases very good. I love that expression, "fuss and feathers", and liked to see toric and tarsal back again. The tuba and oompahpah connection was fun, as well, although it was interesting to read Noam's info on the oom and pah distinction. It is an "in the language" expression, though.
On to the LAT.

PIX 1:37 PM  

Agree with Eric and Anon: enough with the Simpsons.Get a new cartoon to prove you are...well, whatever it is you are proving.

Puzzle was difficult for a tuesday...but fair and fun. Enjoyed it.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:40 PM  

I'm a bit surprised that only Shamik and Greene so far have mentioned that the constructor is Trip Payne. No matter how famous you are in the world of crosswords, you must earn respect one square at a time!

@foodie and @Xman - if the gimmick had been a simple substitution of Z for S, 38 A would have referred to kissing tables instead of clearing them!

I only had one write-over, 30 A, had TORUS before TORIC. When I put in TORUS, I was thinking that the clue, Doughnut-shaped, wasn't exactly right, that the answer should have been TOROIDAL (few too many letters there.) I was right about being wrong.

Overall, I liked the puzzle.

Greene 1:42 PM  

@Glitch: Same song.

archaeoprof 1:43 PM  

Maybe the theme answers weren't all that great, but the fill sure was strong today. Definitely better than a typical Tuesday.

Sometimes I get NEZ PERCE confused with PINCE NEZ.

jimmy d 1:48 PM  

I had the same feelings on BIDEN and BASSTUBA....but I knew I could come here and learn all about tubas!

I also liked the way PTA and NEA were symmetrical..I'm always confusing one for the other in puzzles.

mexgirl 2:42 PM  

I see nothing wrong with today's puzzle, except maybe that I didn't know DITZES, and since I had TORUS instead of TORIC, that whole corner was stuck forever. Otherwise, I found it was very easy in some parts and very challenging in others, making it very interesting, indeed.

Unknown 2:51 PM  

Found this tough for a Tuesday- had a very hard time with the NW, but gained traction in the southland. liked oompahpah and bitohoney.

jae 2:52 PM  

Harder for me too than the average Tues. But, I thought the theme was kinda cute. So, put me down on the "I liked it side" for this one.

JannieB 3:03 PM  

@Greene - exactly! I didn't know the song at all but it definitely said "wedding" to me and I had heard of I Do, I Do so filled it in promptly, no crosses necessary.

@Glitch, why not try litter box training your mussels - they'd probably feel right at home!

Fun puzzle - but I agree with Jeff in Chi, two "ss" substitutions" one "sc" - not very symmetrical. Still, the fill and cluing seemed a bit above average for a Tuesday - a real Trip! (sorry, it just had to be said!)

andrea carla michaels 3:12 PM  

I think Trip is amazing...he beats Tyler in time every year I've been to the ACPT, he's a movie star, a champion Scrabble player AND he constructs!!!!!!!!

@Bob Kerfuffle
I LOVE the idea about being right about being wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Need a name for that!
(Or actually maybe not, it's a lovely phrase as is!)

Yes, overthinking...tho rightfully bec it was the one weakness in the puzzle having IDED (already awkward) and USERID. Essentially that should count as having the same word in the grid...

BUT it was so great to have BITOHONEY! OOMPAHPAH/BASSTUBA!

Even tho I knew Fuss and Feathers, I do have to agree with Rex that it could have been Fuzz and Feathers and that would practically not change the meaning, but you gotta love the ZZZZZZ's, without it being a snorer.
(Not to be confused with schnorrer)

Lots of French today, just THINK of what Sethg learned! Maybe NADA.

(Speaking of NADA, it was interesting that was clued without any nod-a to Spanish)

Also I had just the P in NEZ PERCE and confidently wrote in ARAPAHOS and thought, never mind Simpsons' references, what's with ARAPAHO being in every puzzle!

Does NEZ PERCE mean Pierced Nose? I got me one of those.

love that Chief Joseph quote, it DOES make you want to cry, doesn't it?

acme 3:16 PM  

I'm assuming they don't want to clue ONAN biblically bec it might lead to a discussion on certain blogs about where we get the word ONANISM!

(Not to be confused with CONANISM, now earlier on NBC!)

Hey! But don't watch Jay tomorrow night @ 10pm, tune in to "Dinner: Impossible"!

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

@Andrea - I still think ONAN should be clued as "Inventor of the world's favorite passtime"

foodie 3:26 PM  

You know how the Google man wrote one time and said that he wondered why there was a sudden spike in searches for some specific term on a given day, and it turned out to be clues in the NYTimes puzzle? Well, I think the Food Network is going to wonder why there is a sudden spike in its audience of "Dinner: Impossible" tomorrow at 10pm. And it will be the Andrea Carla Factor!

And for the first time, you will be able to see how one wears an apron with panache-- a contrasting scarf really gives it a certain je ne sais quoi!

Doug 3:29 PM  

Hard puzzle for me. Felt more like Thurs. or Fri. BASSOON didn't fit so I went with BASSDRUM which made me take forever to finish the southwest. Never thought there was such a thing as a BASSTUBA.

John Hoffman 3:57 PM  

I know the muzzical I DO, I DO, but was not able to parse it. So obvious once you see it.

Fuss and Feathers is a new expression for me.

Never heard of a bass tuba!

But still fun.

edith b 4:17 PM  

re: The Simpsons

I'm really not a big fan of the Simpsons - I don't think I've seen more than a half dozen episodes.

But . . .

A broad cross-section of constructors seem to find them interesting and keep putting them in their puzzles. If it was just a handful the Simpson haters may have a case but it is not. I'm reasonably certain that Will doesn't insist on Simpson clues be in every other puzzle.

I made peace with Homer and his family a long time ago.

Charles Bogle 4:22 PM  

totally agree this particular puzzle was (1) a bit too hard for a Tues and (2) not much fun besides. Got stuck thinking it was "dunces" instead of "ditzes"...don't really get any connection between "buzzing tables" and "oompahpah" sound

It just doesn't seem to come together in any nearly clever or cute way-

On the other hand, I thought yesterday's was A LOT of fun!

SethG 4:36 PM  

Everyone realizes that "mussels" didn't appear, right? Right? Not in the puzzle, not in the phrases on which the theme entries were based. And for those complaining about the two SS and one SC changes, spell it "busing" instead of "bussing" and then the changes are all different.

I zoomed through the top half, then got mired in blah on the bottom. Never heard of fuss and feathers, and I wanted a parent with the -THERS end.

Not just French, @acme, but lots of stuff around the Med. Sure LES and NEZ PERCE and ECRU and NOMS, but also CLIO and ETA and PRADA and ADANO and ORZO and NADA and ISIS and TEL and RED SEA and EZRA and ONAN and FIG. Oh, and MED. Heck, they even study PHOTONs at NEMO, the NEutrino Mediterranean Observatory.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

Eritrea, the other country.

PurpleGuy 4:51 PM  

Rather enjoyable puzzle for a Tuesday.

Am visiting family in New York.
The liquid sunshine is nice, but am missing the Phoenix sun.

mac 5:21 PM  

I just read, in "Travels with Alice" that in Little Italy in NYC, there is a very ornate former police headquarters with the nick name St. John the Fuzz!

Eritrea is a former Italian colony, so more Mediterranean.

Got to check out where this Dinner: Impossible is being shown in CT.

Glitch 5:32 PM  


All [should] agree "mussels" was neither a clue nor an answer in todays puzzle, but like "Eritrea", it appears more than once in the blog --- with alternate spellings to boot! ;-)


Anoconda 8:24 PM  

Scott's retirement.

fergus 8:30 PM  

Yeah, pretty incomplete theme. MUSSEL would never work, so screw it, just hand in some work that seems labored. Admiration for Mr. Payne demoted (common word these days, eh?) ever so slightly.

Trouble in the Pacific Northwest two days in a row. Not a good OMEN, since I'm soon to spend a week up there?

PHOTON was penned in very lightly, but my Physics is still a hazy late 70s version.

retired_chemist 9:02 PM  

Hey, we had photons in 1970....

fergus 9:28 PM  

... but wasn't it not yet assured that they were a definite particle?

foodie 10:38 PM  

@fergus, I think most physicists would have agreed that a photon was a particle in the 1970s, but there were a few hold outs. So, if a textbook was trying to cover all bases, it would have said it was still controversial. Our Wiki friends do say:

"Although the evidence for photons from chemical and physical experiments was overwhelming by the 1970s, this evidence could not be considered as absolutely definitive; since it relied on the interaction of light with matter, a sufficiently complicated theory of matter could in principle account for the evidence. Nevertheless, all semiclassical theories were refuted definitively in the 1970s and 1980s by photon-correlation experiments.Hence, Einstein's hypothesis that quantization is a property of light itself is considered to be proven."

Jim in Chicago 12:00 AM  

Bit of trivia for the day.

The use of the word "tuba" to designate a trumpet still exists in organ nomanclature. It has a very distinctive sound, in a sort of combination of "smooth and mellow" and "knock your socks off. There is one famous organ composition titled "Tube Tune" and is one of my favorite pieces to play.

You will also occasionally run across a stop named "Tuba Mirabalis" and the sound matches what you think it would sound like. I'm sometimes surprised when they don't blow out the windows.

fergus 1:02 AM  

re: the definite particle

Thanks for taking the bait, Foodie, knowing full well that I was fooling around with linguistics or grammar as well as the supposedly dead debate about the constituents of light.

If only there were such a resolution about the meaning of words, and their usage ...

Stan 10:02 AM  

Solid Tuesday fun, IMO.

Good job, Trip!

Spencer 10:04 AM  

So, hey, what about Djibouti? It's on the RED SEA, although not across from Saudi Arabia, exactly.

Has anyone worked Djibouti into a crossword?

ddb 12:10 AM  

Doesn't this puzzle represent the remnants of Trip Payne's 'Roughly Speaking' Sunday puzzle from a few weekends ago? I read that he had to drop the 'UH' sounds because he couldn't make them work along side the ERs and AHs (or whatever it was). Is this puzzle a nod to that concept?

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