Widower of Maude on The Simpsons - WEDNESDAY, Jun. 24 2009 — Chantilly's department / Uniformed comics dog / Flying Cloud of 1927-36

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Constructor: Corey Rubin

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "TAKE AN AD OUT" (60A: Promote one's business, maybe ... or a hint to 16-, 23-, 30-, 41- and 47-Across) — "AD" is removed from familiar words/phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: ROISTER (41D: Whoop it up) — intr.v., -tered, -ter·ing, -ters.

  1. To engage in boisterous merrymaking; revel noisily.
  2. To behave in a blustering manner; swagger.

[From obsolete roister, roisterer, probably from Old French rustre, ruffian, alteration of ruste, from Latin rūsticus, rustic. See rustic.]

Tougher-than-usual Wednesday, due largely to the nature of the theme. That is, it's often harder to move through grids where so many answers involve trying to see unfamiliar phrases, unintuitive phrases created by letter removal. So the puzzle was doable, but just slower-going than your average Wednesday (for me). I'm pretty sure I've seen AD OUT before (maybe with tennis cluing). Or maybe that was AD IN. Or maybe both. At any rate, despite the impressively high theme density, I wasn't much of a fan of this one. Theme phrases were a bit blah (except RIO ACTIVITY and ROLLER BLING, which are kind of nice). TONS of black squares to make this grid work (42 is up near the high end of legal) and yet there was still a lot of unlikeable fill. Two variants (2D: Newbie: Var. TIRO + 13D: Fencing thrust: Var. RIPOST)? Two partials beginning with "A" ("A RUT" + "A CASE")? SHTETL (65A: "Fiddler on the Roof" setting) and RAO (67A: Indian novelist Raja _____) and "LOVE IS" (26A: Vanessa Williams/Brian McKnight duet) all strike me as less than optimal (and ONER always strikes me that way - 56D: Lollapalooza). All in all, not terrible, just slightly disappointing. Maybe I would have liked "LOVE IS" better if it had been clued as the creepy comic strip "about two naked eight-year-olds who are married" (Homer Simpson).


Theme answers:

  • 16A: Talking like a junkie? (drug diction) — from "drug addiction"
  • 23A: Agnostic's display? (show of a doubt) — from "shadow of a doubt"
  • 30A: Sunbathing at Ipanema? (Rio activity) — from "radioactivity"
  • 41A: Rink jewelry? (roller bling) — from "roller-blading"
  • 47A: Letter carrier's uniform? (mailing dress) — from "mailing address"

I had my biggest struggles trying to get the tail ends of ROLLER BLING and MAIL DRESS. My wife wiped out in the GEKKO (50D: Gordon _____ ("Wall Street" role)) / RAO, having somehow missed a lot of America's 1980s in part by not being an American or living in America at the time. She also said "I don't know who Moe Howard is," and then I said "I think the 'Howard' is throwing you," and then she said immediately "Oh, like Larry, Moe and Curly? ... I still don't know what he pokes." This is why pop culture has its perils. Speaking of EYES (54A: Targets of a Moe Howard poke), I don't get why shoemakers use DYES any more than any other maker of dyed things uses DYES (51D: Shoemakers' supplies). DYES do not seem very shoe-specific to me. At all. But I'm no cobbler (i.e. I actually *have* a PIE CRUST — sorry, that's a weak (and week-old) callback). MABEL (47D: Normand of old movies) and ROISTER (41D: Whoop it up) are a couple of old-fashioned bits of fill that are likely to slow or stop some people today. Hardly anyone knows who MABEL Normand is any more (I kept thinking NORMA DESMOND here) and no one outside a Renaissance Faire (perhaps a MERRY ANDREW) uses ROISTER.


  • 1A: "60 Minutes" correspondent starting in 1991 (Stahl) — a gimme/lucky guess. Got me off to a nice start.
  • 20A: Canape topper (paté) — "topper" is a very xwordy clue word, up there with "denizen" and "slangily."
  • 21A: "The Hot Zone" virus (ebola) — were RHESUS monkeys involved (43D: What "Rh" may stand for)? I think some kind of monkey was. More than you want to know about EBOLA here.
  • 40A: Widower of Maude on "The Simpsons" (Ned) — Maude died when she plummeted out of the stands at the Springfield Speedway after being shot by a T-shirt cannon.
  • 66A: Wahine's offering (lei) — "offering" is kind of like "topper" in that it has a lot of clue cred.
  • 6D: Fence supplier (thief) — took me a while to understand the gist of the clue.
  • 9D: Pear variety (anjou) — hey, it's not BOSC, for once.
  • 14D: Uniformed comics dog (Otto) — first thought: SNERT. Also, kept reading "uninformed."
  • 24D: Blazin' Blueberry drink brand (Hi-C) — The apostrophe makes it Xtreme!
  • 27D: Chantilly's department (Oise) — "Chantilly" makes me think of only one thing:

  • 32D: Batman after Michael (Val) — VAL Kilmer was Batman for exactly one film: "Batman Forever" (1995). The "Michael" of the clue is Michael Keaton.
  • 52D: Flying Cloud of 1927-36 (REO) — learned this just a few days ago, and here it is, back again, for an encore.
  • 61D: Tuskegee U. locale (Ala.) — "locale" "topper" and "offering": a fine clue-word triumvirate.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


John 8:23 AM  

Kept me off balance for sure! SHTETL, Isnt that the Jewish versiopn of a SHUTTLE?

Scot 8:26 AM  

I like how 4-down (HIGH SEAS) and 24-down (HI-C) parallel each other.

David Lee Roth needs to make more puzzle appearances.

DanaJ 8:27 AM  

Liked this one - and agree with RPs medium-challenging rating for a Wednesday. Picked up on the theme pretty quickly from RIOACTIVITY, but struggled with DRUGDICTION, thinking it must be "drug-addled". Loved the reference to Moe's eye-poking.

Hungry Mother 8:47 AM  

I could just barely eke this out.

foodie 8:48 AM  

I found this challenging/frustrating. As @John said, kept me off balance but not in a fun way. Too many short fill words that could go either way. Also, there is still a remaining AD in SHOWOFADOUBT (which is not, to my mind, a good definition of agnostic display).

One of the problems I had was that I didn't know how LA-Z BOY was spelled, and having LA- early on made me think there was a rebus with ZY!

On the other hand SHTETL is a great word to have in the puzzle. I had the TL ending and though "no way", but stuck with it out of desperation.

Kurt 9:07 AM  

I always look for ward to reading Rex after solving a puzzle like this. I know that I'm going to read "creating wacky phrases which are clued "?"-style."

I don't know why, but I just like this description. Even when the phrases aren't all that wacky.

Liked the puzzle. Liked Rex's commentary. Liked seeing MABEL on the HIGH SEAS.

Unknown 9:08 AM  

Had the same La-Z Boy problem, still confused after finishing the puzzle--til I read this above comment.

retired_chemist 9:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 9:12 AM  

Hurt me bad but it hurt so good. Really enjoyable despite a really slow time. Not knowing LOVE_S @ 26A, I inserted an R, which made HRC the soft drink I didn’t know. NaN - just my bad, since I had heard of HI-C.

39A PRIE-dieu is becoming familiar. Glad to see Mayo part of an ANO. Can’t make the tilde on an upper case N for some reason. I DO remember from a previous puzzle and the ensuing blog how important it is in this case.

Actually went to look at LA-Z-BOYs Sunday….

Two team abbreviations in one puzzle is one too many IMO. Both AL yet….

fikink 9:16 AM  

If you can't say something nice...yes, Mother!

But I must say, self-indulgently, that this was possibly one of my least enjoyable puzzle experiences. It was hardly a crossWORD puzzle for all the abbreviations and suffixes: AOK, NRA, LA-Z, TV, UV, ESQ, TPK, OSIS, IZE ...and the "wacky" phrases were just that - whacked!
Just not my cup of tea.
Off to BEQ's place - a Cryptic awaits.

fikink 9:19 AM  

@retired chemist - OH, Yes! and I even forgot BOS and CLE. yipes!

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

"Chantilly" made me think immediately of whipped cream! Plus I wanted "mayo" to be part of a BLT. Can't even blame these gustatory associations on being hungry, since I always finish breakfast before starting the puzzle.

jimweed 9:40 AM  

i still don't get 6D "Fence supplier" - THIEF. or 31D "Off one's feed" - ILL. anyone?

@rex - good point about DYES (51D). that's like cluing ATHLETE with "Uses muscles."

cluing was challenging for a wednesday, esp. E and NE. i got RIPOST but it was dissatisfying, as is the wont of any "var." clue. i initially didn't put SHTETL because i didn't think that word would be in a wednesday crossword but eventually got it thanks to crosses.

treedweller 9:43 AM  

I was trying to remember my sticking point on OISE (which I still don't get). I saw OSIS and couldn't even remember how that made it into the grid. Suffixes! [mutter]

But the O was what made me blink when solving. LOVEIS was a mystery to me, but it couldn't have been much else. I would have known it if it were clued on the naked-married-8-year-olds comic.

I'm with Rex's wife, though, in that RAO/GEKKO killed me. Even my new found strategy (stick in the most plausible letter) failed me. I tried RAe--no good. Switched to Ree--no good. RAa--no good. RAe--still not working. I finally just googled. Call me stupid, but I still don't see the O as a probable guess. And I've lived in this country my whole life. Somehow, "Wall Street" never interested me.

Then there were the issues mentioned by others (CLE/BOS--ugh, two vars.--ugh, see 38 Across-ugh) and MODI--ugh.

I did like "Many-armed org." And TRIX.

Blue Stater 9:45 AM  

Can someone explain "Targets of a Moe Howard poke" (EYES) to me? This, and much else in this mess, I simply can't comprehend at all. Got this puzzle, but Did Not Like It.

Jeffrey 9:48 AM  

Michael Nesmith - 0:13
Bip Bopper - 2:54 [100%]

HOAXES - Beware of e-mails from Nigerian princes and crossword bloggers. I'm just sayin'.

Put TOR for AL East team with _O_. Put CHI for AL Central team with C__.

KARAT. UV RAY. I'm sure the scientists will have a fun time today. Wake me when Andrea arrives.

Norm 9:53 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot, even though I started off on the totally wrong foot with TAMPABAY for "Buccaneers' place" and had to regroup in the NE. Thought RAO was reasonably inferrable for "Indian novelist" even if you didn't know of him. Have no complaints about DYES for "Shoemakers' supplies" since a lot of times the misdirection seems to lie in having you think it has to be something to the category but it isn't.

joho 9:55 AM  

@jimweed ... a THIEF gives a fence his stolen goods to sell. When you don't feel well (are ILL) you don't feel like eating. I think "off one's feed" usually refers to animals ...

I liked the theme today but agree that the puzzle lacked something because it was packed with too many abbreviations.

I had one error at RAO/GEKKO ... where I had an "I" for the "O" thinking nobody would be named after a lizard.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  


A thief "fences" his goods by selling them to an intermediary, who is thus known as a fence and hence the thief is a fence supplier.

To be off one's feed is an idiomatic phrase for being sick.

mac 9:58 AM  

Completely agree with Rex's write-up, even thought of Norma Desmonds, as well. I found my Natick at Hi-C/Love is. I put in Lovers, HRC. I don't know much about sodas, and have the hardest time remembering the LEHI, or NEHI or something, as well. This time I couldn't count on the cross, since I didn't know the song either....
Rao/Gekko was purely a guess.
Had "boister" for roister for a bit, until I figured out the rollerbling. Boisterous, makes sense, right?

I had a good time, anyway, although a little too much of it.

hazel 10:03 AM  

I also thought pretty challenging for a Wednesday. Lots of intersecting misdirection plus figuring out the whole ad thing. And the payoff was a bit of a fizzle - the wacky phrases didn’t really do a lot for me either @fikink - they're basically phrases that mean nothing, which I guess is both odd and irrational, and therefore wacky. Still - didn't like them.

I actually liked many of the abbrevs. though. Hi-C (next to HIGH SEAS - liked that too @Scot), AOK, La-Z Boy, UV rays, PLASMATVs. All good stuff for me. Made-up stuff like TPK, and random word endings like IZE and OSIS - not so much.

And finally the tilde. Usually, I could care less about umlauts and tildes, but this clue was wilier than others and it just wound up annoying me. Since I didn't actually get ANO until towards the end of the puzzle, my irritation may have been at least partially related to those "wacky" answers, though.

jimweed 10:04 AM  

ty joho and anon @ 9:56. makes sense now.

Rex Parker 10:04 AM  

The Nesmith video is from his seminal music/skit collection "Elephant Parts," and is one of the most important bits of comedy and video of my early life. "Elephant Parts" would easily make a Top Ten list of "Early Comedic Influences." My family can (and does) still quote from it effortlessly. We owned it on Laser Disc (you know, the giant, LP-sized disc that would eventually be replaced by DVDS?). Michael Nesmith taught me the value of committing to the absurd. And the art of the deadpan. His mom invented Wite-Out, I hear.


toothdoc 10:17 AM  

Not being a constructor, can someone let me know the constructor's opinions on abbreviations/variation/prefix and suffix usage in a puzzle. Is that clue being edited by Will or is there a feeling in the constructor community about using these cluing "gimmicks". I don't keep track of it but is seemed like there were a lot of those clues in today's puzzle which just made it less enjoyable. Don't mean to critique what I am not able to construct but want to learn.


ps - everyone should have an Oral-B, great toothbrush and will keep you out of our offices ;)

archaeoprof 10:21 AM  

@Foodie: I agree with both of your complaints about 23A. But I guess the clue does reflect the popular image of an agnostic...

Pretty tough Wednesday. I don't keep my solving times, but I sure sat and stared at this one a lot.

dk 10:36 AM  

"Pick two fingers," Moe Howard

Spilled Gecko wrung.

Thought THEIF, one who steals things and fences them, was great.

Rex, Michael Nesmith did a post Monkees TV show with Brian Auger and the Holy Trinity that may be a must see four you

This puzzle made a monkey out of me even though I got the theme clue on my first pass. To much ebbing, waxing and waning. And does not EBOLA end in an I, isn't it modus.... I am having a COW here.

Over and out.

slypett 10:38 AM  

For once, I did better than the field. For some (bizarre) reason this was easy for me. I did have two errors
though, LOVERS for LOVEIS and SLE for CLE, which meant SOW for COW (which I'd actually read more than once).

SHOWOFADOUBT just isn't vernacular and shouldn't have been allowed. Could WS be getting desperate for fodder?

A thought on "exsiccate," a clue from Sunday. That was just old-time style, when the point, often, was to get obscure words.

DJG 10:39 AM  

This was slow-going for me (as it apparently was for almost everybody). So-so puzzle overall.

I really detest ONER. I've never seen/heard it outside of crosswords and I've only found it in one or two huge dictionaries. It might be the number one crossword-ese offender, worse than even ITER.

jeff in chicago 10:42 AM  

I found this tough. But doable. My time was ridiculously long. My only quibble is that in SHOWOFADOUBT, there is an AD in the answer, though split between two words.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

@DK - I had eboli for a long time too, but remembered that I was confusing ebola with e coli.

jeff in chicago 10:45 AM  

Oops. Somehow missed that foodie already pointed out the AD thing. Sorry!

poc 10:54 AM  

I didn't like this one at all. The theme was fine, though we don't often get rebus puzzles on Wednesday, but the whole experience was just unpleasant, like wading through treacle. I finally threw in the towel with several empty squares around MAILINGDRESS (I was fixated un some variation of DUNGAREES) when I realized I just didn't care enough to keep going. Maybe if it hadn't crossed with *two* obscure sports team abbreviations I might have kept going. In fact the whole thing had way too many proper names, brand names and what have you.

Nasty, brutish and long.

Two Ponies 10:54 AM  

A long run for a short slide.
Crappy fill with too many var.s and abbrev.s.
What are sheep doing in my dove cote?
My error was lovin' for the unknown duet making the unknown fencing move ripont (which to me looked as possible).
What is the connection between Plaza and tpk?
Anyone unfamiliar with Moe Howard's two-fingered eye jab can probably find a clip on youTube. Classic old "sight gag". (Insert groan for the bad pun.)

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

modi operandi for modus operandi is that a plural or what. No matter it sucks. Somebody please use roister in a sentence somebody would actually say. Do able yes fun no. Golfballman.

Two Ponies 10:56 AM  

Also, isn't the pear usually called d'anjou?

PlantieBea 11:04 AM  

Took me forever for a Wednesday and I have mixed feelings about it. I too think the aha reward did not match the challenge of guessing the wacky phrase, but I did like this puzzle, because of that challenge. I am conflicted.

I made some lucky guesses, especially with the O GEKKO/RAO. I ended up with an error having LOVE IT/RIPOTT in that crossing. ROISTER is a new word for me.

toothdoc 11:09 AM  

Two Ponies,
You pay your Turnpike (TPK) toll at a Toll Plaza.

Glitch 11:11 AM  


You will find a toll PLAZA on a TPK (Turnpike)

In my market, the sign simply reads "Anjou Pears"


Glitch 11:12 AM  


I gotta learn to type faster :)


Anonymous 11:12 AM  

SHOWOFADOUBT is correct. The theme is TAKE AN AD OUT not two. I enjoyed this puzzle. Thumbs up!

Guy Who Points Out When People are from Texas 11:18 AM  

Michael Nesmith is from Texas.

fmcgmccllc 11:24 AM  

Foodie, same here. I have driven past La-Z Boy for years. Bad.

I did not know you could roller-blade in a roller rink. Thought you could only roller skate inside.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  



Mike the Wino 11:47 AM  

I fergit what these types of answers are called, and the ones I am about to list probably don't all fit this category, plus I may not have listed all that were in this puzzle:


What is the (solvers/constructors) term I can't think of? I don't know why I can't think of it...must be in a fog from last night's wine tasting party...

Denise 11:50 AM  

I can't understand the MAYO -- ANO clue and answer. Anybody?

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Mayo is a month and ano a year, in Spanish.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

@Denise = mayo is Spanish for May, as ANO (excuse the lack of a tilde) is Spanish for year.

poc 12:00 PM  

@Anonymous (11:54): in fact the word is AÑO. As several people have pointed out in the past, the Spanish 'ñ' is *not* the same as an 'n'. Not only is the pronunciation different, it completely changes the meaning of a word. In this case using N instead of Ñ leads to a meaning I wouldn't normally expect to see in the NYT puzzle.

ileen 12:01 PM  

@Blue Stater. Moe Howard is part of the Three Stooges. He often pokes people (mostly the other two stooges) in the eyes, requiring the use of a 'block', placing your fingers vertically against your forehead/nose. At least that is my understanding. I assume you are female like me, and women notoriously are not fans of the Stooges. I have never seen an entire movie of theirs, or even a full scene. But I know they're stupid.

I did not get this puzzle at all, and since I was out last night, tried doing it at work this morning. Due to work duties interfering, my time was atrocious. A horrible Wednesday for me, but at least I had fun last night.

Orange 12:13 PM  

In Chicago, Shaw's Crab House had an annual Royster with the Oyster fest. I think oysters are gross, but that's where I picked up "roister."

@Foodie, the unifying phrase for the theme is TAKE OUT AN AD. Nobody said we had to take out two ADs, so I'm OK with the remaining one. It helps a little that this AD is split across two words. Not an A+ theme owing to the extraneous AD, I suppose, but I still liked it.

@XMAN, I dunno. You say the puzzle was easy for you, and yet you had some errors. So it's possible that the puzzle kicked your butt, but it did so quickly and painlessly. No?

@BlueStater: Aw, I thought for sure you'd nail the '30s-'60s pop culture clue about the Stooges.

3 stooges fan 12:26 PM  

ileen said...

"I have never seen an entire movie of theirs, or even a full scene. But I know they're stupid."

That's mighty brilliant. Let me try it, ileen.

"I have never read an entire post of yours, or even a full paragraph. But I know you're stupid."

Yes, I think that works.

DJG 12:30 PM  

@ileen, @BlueStater

I heard a joke from a male standup comic you might enjoy.

"I finally figured out why women don't like The Three Stooges... They're not funny."

Two Ponies 12:39 PM  

Thanks for the turnpike explanation. The capital P had me thinking of a proper place name.
I guess I'm the only one who cared, albeit mildly, about the sheep enclosure. No source I have seen had it as a stand-alone word. Sheep-cote hyphenated and dovecote (more familiar to me) as one word.
I'm being too picky.
I used to think the Three Stooges were funny when I was a kid. Maybe if you allow yourself to think like that again they will amuse you.

Ulrich 12:47 PM  

JZM: LOL--thx. I agree with you 100%

And to all of you who are of the female persuasion: I take real offense at the suggestions that guys, by virtue of their being guys, like the three Stooges--I don't, never did, and never will. So, give me some respect!

Unknown 12:59 PM  

Rhesus monkeys didn't have anything to do with Ebola research. The Rh stands for Rhesus antigens identified on human red blood cells. I was friends with the daughter of Dr. Philip Levine in NYC whose research made the connection between these antigens and hemolytic disease in newborns. His research also led to significant improvements in matching blood types for transfusions that saved many lives in the field during WWII.

ArtLvr 1:02 PM  

I really liked this puzzle because it was unusually challenging for "hump day" of the week and also because I made it through without error. Starting at the bottom with SHTETL gave me the theme early and the MAILING DRESS confirmed it...

I thought the theme phrases were in the genius class, since the missing AD could be anywhere in the original phrase from RadIOACTIVITY to ROLLERBLadING. A lot of the fill was exceptional too, from BONE-DRY to ROISTER and PLASMA TV, and I loved the clues with Nigerian princes and Gordon GEKKO.

MABEL Normand came back to me, since I'd seen Ninotchka last night and had been thinking of very early film stars, but the Moe/EYES connection was a guess, gettable only with crosses. Simpsons guy ditto, ugh.

Anyway, my take overall was quite positive, contrary to that of many solvers.


Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Had RING towards the end of 41 across for "Rink jewelry?" Took awhile for that to straighten itself out. I always hated the "word" BLING. This WAS a tough Wednesday and did a good bit of just staring at it until it started to flow.

Campesite 1:07 PM  

I'm not a fan of Major League Baseball div. scoreboard clues in general, and more than one seems a violation of some sort. Maybe if the AL Central team showed up in the center of the grid, and the East team was on the far right of the grid, it wouldn't bother me as much, but I doubt it.

ArtLvr 1:07 PM  

@ Brad -- glad you mentioned the RHESUS factor! That was another one I enjoyed seeing here. In biology class way back, we had another pioneer of blood typing and she had us comparing factors -- even to the point of determining that we had some factors in common with Limulus, the horseshoe crab!

Karen from the Cape 1:08 PM  

I feel like I've seen SHTETL in several puzzles recently, put it hasn't been in the NYT in years. I think it's a great word myself. Shtetl. Like schlemiel or schnook it's just fun to say. I read the Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon last year and had to learn a lot of new Yiddish words. Unfortunately the only one I remember is that detective=nose.

I'm another American from the 80's who doesn't know Gordon GEKKO. Although it looks like Michael Douglas won an Oscar for the role, so it's not all that trivial.

I enjoyed the puzzle and the theme. Thank you Rubin.

Jim in Chicago 1:27 PM  

A fun puzzle, agree that it was challenging for a Wednesday.

My only quibble is with using Pate as a topping. The pate would pretty much BE the canape, I think of a topping as being something like that little sprig of watercress that you put on top.

fergus 1:30 PM  

I found this a very vexing puzzle. Probably the crappiest I've seen in the NY Times. Whatever cleverness there was struck me as irritating. No wry smiles today.

slypett 1:45 PM  

Orange, you devil! You'd take away a triumph! Hmph! (They were errors of ignorance. I thought they were likely right. So, right or wrong, I'm holding onto my moment.) So, as they say in the playground, there!

andrea-osis michaels 1:47 PM  

@Two Ponies
Sight gag! Funny!!!!
Before this devolves into a pie-throwing, eye-poking, why the Stooges are funny kerfluffle, may I just say, that IN GENERAL men find slapstick more humorous than women...
and Ulrich, your disliking them and being all sophisticated and euro and all is exactly why I love you!

also, Two Ponies, I thought cote was for doves too and had COO in there for a while that really messed me up. Baaaa (bahhhh?)

Shtetl = easy for Jews bec of "Fiddler on the Roof", but definitely missing some vowels here and there! I can't think of another SHT word but maybe shtup!

generally speaking, a rebus should be a word on it's own, esp something you could even draw a picture of, Concentration-style like eye or star, so ZY wouldn't cut it.
Tho I loved the LA-Z (less so if BOY hadn't been in the puzzle) bec it made this a wonderful pangram!

There was lots to hate about this puzzle, already mentioned, but I thought it was great that not only SIX theme entries, but beautiful pangram with ANJOU, HOAXES, LAZ, IRAQI...I mean that's just too cool.

Doesn't forgive CLE (I had CHI but what do I know from AL teams?) BOS, etc. but sort of does!

For you K-lovers (love is-ers) those were my two mistakes first-writing in CARAT and GECKO.
I've seen the film, but I don't think you have necessarily had to, bec not only did Michael Douglas win an Academy Award for it, as @Karen from the cape pointed out, BUT he is an iconic figure that is often referred to in articles about the downfall of Wall Street and in tons of Madoff articles, etc.

As a namer, I hadn't liked the name at the time, bec even tho I got that he was supposed to be lizard-like and it was a play on Gecko, etc. it seemed too on-the-nose at the time as it's so unlikely a last name in real life...but when has Oliver Stone been not too on-the-nose?
(or like a poke in the eyes?!)

I loved that you pointed out the Hi-C/HighSeas connection, which may have been leftovers from Monday's puzzle!!!!!!!

Daniel Myers 2:35 PM  

Toughie for a Hump Day
But all came round AOK
No FOCI in sight
And MODI are alright

A Merry Wednesday to all
Except Brian McKnight!

andrea moodi michaels 2:42 PM  

can you try and rewrite that in iambic pentameter for us non-mathematicians who are poets at heart?

Sam iamb

archaeoprof 2:48 PM  

As a kid, I didn't like the 3 Stooges at all. Like the wicked witch and her flying monkeys, they scared me.

But now, sometimes, I can watch them and really laugh.

Is it possible that the 3 Stooges are, like fine scotch and good cigars, an acquired taste?

edith b 2:53 PM  

I have fond memories of my father and two brothers sitting in front of the TV circa 1960 giggling like school girls at The Three Stooges. I never liked slapstick comedy per se but the "boys" sure did. Whenever the subject of The Three Stooges comes up, I always detect a whiff of superiority from the Stooge-haters but that's just me.

I had SAFER at 1A that kept me from appreciating the theme for the longest time. I finally got it at 47A but it took me forever to give up on Morley SAFER and fill in the NW.

As a person who is both a movie buff and have a penchant for remembering names GEKKO was a neon for me so I was able to skate on by the GEKKO/RAO cross and avoid the trap.

Because of all the abbrevs. and var. and scoreboard stuff, I found this to be a disagreeable mess. I don't know which was worse - the fiasco of my own making in the NW or the puzzle's obvious flaws.

chefwen 2:58 PM  

I actually liked this puzzle, agree that it took me much longer than usual for a Wednesday but all in all I had no complaints other than after I finished I said I gotta look up that SHTETL bit, can that really be a word, and I'm Jewish?

Got DRUG DICTION first and said "oh I get it" husband walked into the room and said "you're talking to yourself again and it's beginning to scare me".

Every time I hear the name MABEL I think "get off the table Mabel, the quarters for the beer" Grow up Wen.

Clark 2:59 PM  

My first day at home after five days hanging with the rarely-fully-assembled family out in Cal wine country. Three generations of puzzlers there, though none quite as obssessive about it as I have become.

I loved this puzzle. Though I got jammed up in the lower left corner again. Guessed MABLE instead of MABEL, which left me with LLQ for Barrister's abrev. What was I thinking? Legal Letters Queen? And ELI for Wahine's offering! Well, who know's what all goes on in those clubs at Yale.

DYES seemed well clued to me. It's true that dyes are not specific to shoemaking, but if you were getting together the supplies that a shoemaker would need dyes would be pretty high on the list. When was the last time you saw a blue or a red cow?

@dk, @anon 2:55 - modus is singular, modi is plural, operandi is genitive singular. Mode of operation and modes of operation both work.

@xman -- SHOW OF A DOUBT is not in the vernacular as a phrase, but neither are the other theme answers. Isn't that what makes them wacky?

@Rex -- Two thumbs up for the Nesmith video. Love the opening shot.

crosscan 3:05 PM  

I never saw a purple cow

Inever hope to see one

But I can tell you anyhow

I'd rather see than be one.

Daniel Myers 3:06 PM  


I'm afraid these are the doggerel days of summer, rather than the winter of our discontent (more conducive to iambs, don't you know).

Iambs are a bit naff anyway, don't you think? Wait--do you use say "naff" in the States? Anyway, passe is what is meant.

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

That's one ballsy theme, what with TAKE OUT A NAD.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

- "Greed is good." -- Gordon Gekko
Classic movie line. Some things change, some Wall Streeters stay the same. (A sequel is allegedly in the works. How timely.)

@ andrea [theme word of the day] michaels: Speaking as a Jew who knows "Fiddler on the Roof" well, my combined knowledge of musical theater and Judaism messed me up there. I kept starting at the screen and thinking (well, singing, actually), "Anatevka. Anatevka." I then wrote RUSSIA in. Sigh. It took me awhile to fix the problem. (I do all of the across clues before I start on the downs.)

The song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWiRetxeviw

Orange 4:28 PM  

The most ardent Stooges fan I know is a woman. She also enjoys world travel (South Africa, the Galapagos islands, London, etc.), so it's not as if a fondness for slapstick can't coexist with keen intelligence and wide-ranging interests.

@XMAN, sorry 'bout that. :-)

andrea curly michaels 4:30 PM  

When I regaled my lunch partner today with the whole 3 Stooges men vs women, highbrow vs lowbrow controversy potentially abrew on the blog today, he giggled like a schoolboy and asked, "What are the last words you want to hear as you go under on the table?"
"Paging Dr.s Howard, Shemp and Howard to the OR, please"

(I might have mangled that punchline as much as I have mangled the punctuation...is it Drs? Dr's? Dr.s'??? Should I have chickened out and written "Doctors"? Help!)

Three (stooges) and out

HudsonHawk 4:35 PM  

Michael Douglas' performance as Gordon GEKKO in Wall $treet was phenomenal. It's actually one of only a few Oliver Stone movies that I really liked.

But it's even funnier to watch now, if only for GEKKO talking to Bud Fox from his beach in the Hamptons on his cutting edge cellular phone, which is about the size of a shoe box.

As for the Stooges, I was never much of a fan, but some of their schtick was very funny.

edith b 4:40 PM  


I think the punch line was "Paging Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard"

It is interesting you used the expression "giggled" to describe a male's reaction to the Stooges. That is what I recall the most about a man's reaction to them - giggling.

We have roughly the same thing happening now with Sacha Baron Cohen, do you agree?

chefbea 4:50 PM  

I agree - more difficult than the usual wednesday puzzle.

When my husband comes home from work today I will have to wash his mailing dress. - although he doesn't wear a dress!!!

mac 4:55 PM  

I guess you had to be there....

@Two Ponies: I think it is Anjou
pears and rose (with accent egu) d'Anjou.

I don't think shoemakers use a lot of dye anymore in this disposable society. When was the last time you had your shoes resoled? Actually, I'm picking up some shoes tomorrow (just heels). Or are they talking about the shoes that you can have dyed to match a dress?

So that's what the old Monkee is up to!

Gelett Burgess 5:44 PM  

@crosscan - Copyrights may expire, but a simple acknowledgment is always appropriate.

Two Ponies 5:49 PM  

@ mac, A brief scan showed both d'anjou and anjou with the former having more links.
I learn something here every day.
@ andrea, Glad someone liked my bad pun.

mexgirl 5:58 PM  

Rex, anybody, please explain FENCE SUPPLIER=THIEF?

And I agree with the lack of tilde in lots of words in Spanish. Someone should come up with a puzzle dedicated to the tilde. There are countless words with it!!

And that was a good joke about the Three Stooges (they're just not funny!)

Loved Daniel's poem.

treedweller 6:03 PM  

For the record, I am not Guy Who Points Out When People are from Texas (today). But I wholeheartedly approve of his efforts.

I am also not a Guy Who Loves the Three Stooges, though, like archaeoprof, I find they've grown on me somewhat over the years.

andrea cow-la michaels 6:04 PM  

Yes, you're right! That was the punchline and would have saved me some grammatical grief!!! Dr. Fine!
I had already forgotten Larry's (?) name by the time I got back from lunch! SO not a fan am I! I couldn't be less of a fan unless they played on an AL team of some sort!
(And the giggle I cadged from your note, to gently poke fun (tho not in the eyes) of your earlier phrase of "Giggling like school girls", bec as you pointed out, grown men giggle too (esp if you make a nad joke!)

As for Sacha Baron Cohen, maybe with Borat, but I'm gonna guess with Bruno that the homophobia will outweigh the indulgence in silliness, so men will not be quoting it with the same passion as a Monty Python cross-dressing routine.
What IS it with the sexually ambiguous Brits, anyway?!
(Not you, Daniel...'naff said...)

@Gelett Burgess channeler
Perhaps dear CrossCan was being low key and circumspect and self-protective of life and limb, lest you rose from your grave...
as I see on Wikipedia it says:
"Famously, Burgess became somewhat exasperated with the success of his poem, of which he was constantly reminded. A few years later, he penned a riposte (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) that became almost as well-known as the original.
It was titled "Confession: and a Portrait Too, Upon a Background that I Rue" and appeared in The Lark, number 24 (April 1, 1897):
The 1895 issue of The Lark in which Burgess's "Purple Cow" first appeared

Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow"—
I'm Sorry, now, I wrote it;
But I can tell you Anyhow
I'll Kill you if you Quote it![1]

crosscan 6:21 PM  

I plagarized "A Purple Cow"

I thought it would be funny

Go right ahead and sue me now

Ihaven't gotno money

archaeoprof 6:23 PM  

If only our governor here in SC had gone to Brazil, perhaps his recent trip could be described as RIOACTIVITY...

Nash Bridges 6:26 PM  

I've never seen an abominable snowman,

I'm hoping not to see one,

I'm also hoping, if I do,

That it will be a wee one.

slypett 6:28 PM  

@Dan Myers: What language/nationality does naff come from?

@Orange: Omigog, you took me seriously. I'm sorry: I meant you're the devil in the nicest way.

@clark: I'm going to belabor a point. SHadOWOFADOUBT is a phrase in the vernacular, as is (a) SHOW- OFDOUBT, but SHOWOFADOUBT is not English as she is spoken here. The other answer phrases, though silly, are phrased vernacularly.

jeff in chicago 6:29 PM  

Gekko actually says: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." And he makes some excellent points that should have been heeded long ago.

Like this: "Today, management has no stake in the company! ... You own the company. That's right, you, the stockholder. And you are all being royally screwed over by these, these bureaucrats, with their luncheons, their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes."

Or this: "Teldar Paper has 33 different vice presidents each earning over 200 thousand dollars a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can't figure it out. One thing I do know is that our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I'll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents. The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. Well, in my book you either do it right or you get eliminated."

We should have listened closer!

tekchic 7:47 PM  

@crosscan Thanks for the giggles, nice one! :) I wouldn't worry about Mr. Burgess hunting you down too much.

This puzzle frustrated me. I had to give up and come here for the answers (and a laugh). Didn't understand THIEF, ANO, OISE at all until I read the comments. I see ANO is one of those tricky ones I'll have to add to the xword tool belt -- looks like it crops up fairly often.

I almost had to look at my calendar to make sure I hadn't teleported to Thursday or Friday's puzzle by mistake. Teleporters are funny things.

Blue Stater 8:16 PM  

@ileen: Thanks for the added info about Moe Howard. No, I'm not female. I am a geezer old enough, as Orange points out, to get 30s-60s popcult references. AAMOF I did get that Moe was a Stooge, but, never having seen a Stooge movie (I was culturally deprived by growing up in a family all of whom except me are professional classical musicians), I didn't get the reference to "targets."

luisa massim 8:20 PM  

Thanks, Corey Rubin, I liked this just fine. It was hard but rewarding. Fit into a generally chaotic day.."a little bit of this, a little bit of that..." (see: shtetle.)

mac 8:29 PM  

@Jeff in Chicago: Amen.

@Andrea: great post and quotes!

So, Crosscan, are you really there
Or are you an imposter
Don't worry, you are quite allright,
The Purple Cow, we lost her.

How's that for iambs!

PuzzleGirl 8:53 PM  

I vaguely remember "Wall Street" but didn't remember his name. I guessed a U because I thought RAU sounded sufficiently Indian.

There's a local band in Iowa City called La-Z-Boy and the Recliners.

I love the word SHTETL.

fergus 9:03 PM  

Taking out a nad was an amusing reparsing of the theme. I feel like I was too harsh in trashing this puzzle earlier. Very ragged, compared to the usual NYT elegance, but that doesn't mean it was bad. With some consistency, I guess, this puzzle had the crude appeal one might find with the Stooges. Seemingly brutish, but more amusing when you realize the intentional crassness.

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

This week's numbers ... the number in parentheses is the number of solvers.

Mon (all) 6:16 (905) prev 2 week avg: 6:58 (908)
Mon (Top 100) 3:25 prev 2 week avg: 3:43

Tue (all) 9:03 (694) prev 2 week avg: 8:13 (877)
Tue (Top 100) 4:35 prev 2 week avg: 4:12

Wed (all) 17:19 (574) prev 2 week avg: 13:18 (674)
Wed (Top 100) 7:54 prev 2 week avg: 6:30

By the numbers, definitely the most challenging Wednesday puzzle of the last 4 weeks (as was Tuesday's puzzle compared to the previous 3 weeks). I wonder what Will has in store for us with the late-week puzzles?

As a passionate baseball fan, I had little trouble with the scoreboard abbr's in today's puzzle. For those who contemplated CHI instead of CLE, the White Sox are usually abbreviated as either CHW or CHA to distinguish them from their north-side counterparts (CHC or CHN). This is particularly relevant in this age of interleague schedules.

Charles Bogle 10:34 PM  

Good thing I'm so late today--everyone's covered my lows (mostly) and highs here. Thanks Rex for another on-point write-up. My own break-down was rampant;half the grid is empty and I was left clueless. TIRO? ONER? OSIE? ANO? Day after hump day? A Simpson's character my nine-year-old can't place? If I can't catch enough breaks on the "fill," I have no chance where, as here, the theme" totally eludes me

The thread was a lot of fun. Let me offer a suggestion to anyone who wants to give the Three Stooges a try: start w shorts they made for Columbia Studios in the late 30's and 40's, esp WW II era. Many combine slapstick w some very funny dialogue and situations. Avoid the Curly-replaced-by-Shep debate and embrace them both

More fun than a barrel of RHESUSMONKEYS!

Stan 10:46 PM  

This may not be worth reading but:

So I've actually met, and kinda hung around with for a day, David Lee Roth's mom. And when I told my wife this (vis-a-vis today's puzzle) she asked, "Is she the one who invented Wite-Out? Some rock star's mother invented Wite-Out."

This conversation actually happened, about an hour ago, before I logged in to RexWorld.

fergus 10:48 PM  

No surprise on the data today. Have you checked for any correlation with your times and Rex's scale? His scale, I would think, could easily translate to a zero-to-ten gradation. For a Wednesday this would be a 9 in my view, though in translating the Rex assessment, only a 7.

An interesting point that many of us might debate is the quantification of relative difficulty (to serve as a normalizing factor) if you're doing more statistical analysis. My estimate for Monday to Sunday would be 1-1-2-4-8-9-5. As I infer from your observations, you're also intrigued by an analysis of something that's hard to put properly into worthy numbers.

You're in San Francisco too, like many other latter day commenters, I assume?

PuzzleGirl 10:50 PM  

@Stan: That was totally worth reading. :-)

fergus 10:55 PM  

(Wasn't there something in "Slumdog Millionaire" about trash-pickers valuing Wite-Out remnants for the volatile high-inducing compounds?)

poc 11:10 PM  

@mexgirl: a FENCE is a seller of stolen goods, i.e. someone supplied by a THIEF.

Anonymous 11:21 PM  

on 23A (agnostic display?) was i the only one who mistakenly had "shingledoubt?" nunyo.

Guy Who Points Out When People's Moms from Texas Invent Office Supplies 11:27 PM  

Liquid Paper, people! She invented Liquid Paper, not Wite-Out! And why is there no H in "Wite-Out"? Is that some kind of high-concept pun?

PuzzleGirl 11:28 PM  

That guy who keeps pointing things out looks awfully familiar. Does anyone else smell a trout stuffed with sage?

Stan 12:01 AM  

@PG -- Thnx :-)

Re: sage-stuffed trout -- u may be right!

Waxy in Montreal 4:24 PM  

Syndibonus trivia -
SHTETLS is a contender but, without a sh(ad)ow of a doubt, the champion for the longest word in English with a single vowel remains STRENGTHS.

Just wondering but do we have a term for a day in which RexWorld is way more fun than the NYT puzzle itself? Like today!

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