1980s street artist Keith - SUNDAY, Jul. 5 2009 — Mustachioed TV muckraker / Perennial N.L. leader of old / 1977 thriller co-starring Bo Derek

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Constructors: Tony Orbach and Amy Reynaldo

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: M? No, P! — familiar phrases have their "M"s turned to "P"s, creating wacky phrases, which are then clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: ETIOLATE (90D: Bleach) v.tr.

  1. Botany. To cause (a plant) to develop without chlorophyll by preventing exposure to sunlight.
    1. To cause to appear pale and sickly: a face that was etiolated from years in prison.
    2. To make weak by stunting the growth or development of.
v.intr. Botany.

To become blanched or whitened, as when grown without sunlight.

[French étioler, from Norman French étieuler, to grow into haulm, from éteule, stalk, from Old French esteule, from Vulgar Latin *stupula, from Latin stipula.] (answers.com)

First, congratulations to my fellow crossword blogger Amy Reynaldo on her first NYT puzzle by-line. [sound of clapping] She has clearly embedded her first name at the top of the puzzle, a little three-letter right angle created by AMPS UP (7A: Escalates) over CYRANO (21A: Hero known for his nose).

A simple theme (change-a-letter) that yields some nice results. Switch-a-letters are interesting in that, in general, they are dependent on the involved letters relating in some interesting way to one another, through some clever phrase word play like today's title letter string, MNOP, or an answer somewhere in the puzzle that tips the theme (I've seen "SPIN" used to indicate that "SP" goes "IN" to ordinary phrases to create wacky phrases, for instance). My favorite among today's phrases were STUD PUFFIN and THE POD SQUAD. Some nice non-theme fill here too. I especially like the inclusion of both GOUACHE (13A: Watercolor technique) and GOULASH (76A: This-and-that preparation ... went looking for OLIO or GALLIMAUFRY or similar word here at first). Overall I found the puzzle very easy — my fastest Sunday time in a dog's age (is that an expression or am I just inventing L'il Abnerisms now?). From a difficulty standpoint, the puzzle was basically a ton of very gettable words and ... ETIOLATE, which is a word I want to mean "lessen" or "fade away" or "thin out" or something like that ... there must be a like-sounding word that means something akin to what my brain wants. ATTENUATE? Nah, that doesn't feel right. Anyway, aside from some names I had to fish for, everything else in the grid was very familiar.

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Give Axl and Pete a break? (spell the Roses) — clearly, it is the year of Pete Rose in NYT puzzle world. This phrase threw me at first because I kept thinking the base phrase was SPILL THE BEANS.
  • 33A: Tripping over a threshold, perhaps? (portal danger)
  • 45A: Pea farmers? ("The Pod Squad")
  • 51A: Summer apartment with no air-conditioning? (boiling pad)
  • 69A: Floral Technicolor dreamcoat? (Full Petal Jacket)
  • 91A: Strutting bird on an ice floe? (stud puffin)
  • 94A: Residents at a Manhattan A.S.P.C.A.? (New York pets)
  • 105A: Move a movie camera around a community? (pan about town)
  • 122A: Explanation for an interception? (pass confusion)

Lots of old-timey women's names in the puzzle today. DOREEN (92D: One of the original Mouseketeers) seemed only vaguely familiar, and I didn't know LAVERNE at all (though getting it from crosses was simple) (125A: One of the Andrews Sisters). Joining those ladies in the mid-20th century are LOLA (41D: "Damn Yankees" vamp), ERIN (73D: A Walton), ENID (57A: English author Blyton), and MYRA (8D: Hess who was a dame). Even the ladies from comics go way back: ISIS (101A: DC Comics superheroine) goes back to 1976 and LOIS (70D: Lane in Metropolis) to 1938. Men's names were, in general, slightly more modern. SAKS is pretty old-timey (61D: "The Odd Couple" director), but Philip Seymour (not Dustin) Hoffman won the Oscar for "CAPOTE" (brilliant) just a few years ago (82D: 2005 Hoffman title role), and MILO Ventimiglia currently stars on "Heroes" and is responsible for a comic I read that appears to have died or gone on hiatus but was pretty good while it lasted — "Rest." Also, before he was famous, he made a guest appearance on "Sabrina: The Teenage Witch," Season 1. I learned this from first-hand experience, thanks to my daughter's current DVD-renting proclivities.

My only area of struggle in this puzzle (and it was brief) was in the SE, where RHONE for RHINE (111D: River straddled by Basel, Switzerland) and DREGS for DROSS (110D: Chaff) gave me PASSCENFUSOON on my first pass at 122A. Also stumbled very briefly near the middle of the grid, where I initially stuck SÉNATS (!?) where JUNTAS belonged (71D: Postrevolutionary councils). Else, aces. Not to be confused with ACERS (7D: Deliverers of the unreturnable), a variation of which has been in about half the damned puzzles I solved this weekend.


  • 1A: Wind source (gas bag) — that's a great 1A.
  • 13D: Mustachioed TV muckraker (Geraldo) — See 1A. (Love the word "mustachioed" btw)
  • 72D: Language akin to Yupik (Aleut) — also the name of the people who speak it. Alaska and Hawaii have been good to crosswords.
  • 84A: Fourier series function (sine) — thankfully, no real math knowledge was required to get this.
  • 115A: Interlaken's river (Aare) — crosswordesey flower that helped me sort out the whole PASSCENFUSOON mess.
  • 3D: Extended operatic solo (scena) — forgot this word. Like ARIOSO, it's an opera term that's useful to know for crosswords.
  • 16D: Perennial N.L. leader of old (Aaron) — yuck. Leader of What? I need a stat. He's not a team, so he's not literally leading the N.L. Home run leader? R.B.I. leader. You can't use "leader" this ridiculously generic way in baseball. Is it that he was captain of his team? If so, that's still pretty weak.
  • 24D: 1980s street artist Keith (Haring) — if you don't know his name, you've probably at least seen his very recognizable and iconic work.
  • 34D: Dobbin's nibble (oat) — Dobbin is a special hobbit-sized horse. Not true, but should be.
  • 48D: "Superman II" villainess (Ursa) — when you're sick and tired of constellation clues, you can always turn to "Superman II."
  • 60D: 1977 thriller co-starring Bo Derek ("Orca") — this clue makes me laugh. I never saw this movie, but I'm guessing hilariously bad.

[How high was Dino De Laurentiis in the 70s?]
  • 68D: Co-founder of the Nonaligned Movement (Nehru) — identical clue used for TITO a while back.
  • 118D: Cuzco inhabitant (Inca) — "Cuzco" sounds like liquor. Or a Mexican "Costco."
Time for the Crossword Tweets of the Week (culled from Twitter):
  • kanedaniel Dear New York Times crossword, I hate you SO much right now.
  • timinhouston At brunch. 2 couples @ bar (jointly) working on crossword puzls. The salvation of printed newspapers?
  • accordingtonina Me: Who's Foghat? Mom: He was doing a crossword too so half way thru flight we exchanged. Me: What? Mom: Yea, he's so cool.
  • Liz_Whittemore I thought the guy was drunk. I was mistaken. He was just doing xword puzzles while driving. My mistake. Carry on sir.
  • arjunbasu He says, I'd like to eat you. She says, You smell like lobster but in a bad way. And so they go back to doing their crossword puzzles alone.
  • BillyDoc Soon I found myself hunched over a crossword with her. Our faces were inches apart. It was magical.
  • BenJimenez This crossword must be broken. I'm not getting most of the clues
  • illogicalvulcan Once again baffled by the Times crossword due to the fact that my program doesn't print circles. Also, I cannot spell.
  • jkru finishing a crossword in a bed that is not inflatable = WIN.
  • aiela The Scrabble documentary is nearly as good as the Crossword one but not as good as the Donkey Kong one because nothing is.
  • rndrum 5 adults vs. 1 TV Guide crossword puzzle book. This might go better with booze...
  • JenniferGarza I did the crossword puzzle in back of the Frosted Mini Wheats box in less than 2 minutes! hehe It was SO easy! http://twitpic.com/98n3m
  • kenjamin23 Is paying 80 cents a day just to do the Crossword puzzle. lmao
  • carolermp Coffee and crossword time then off later to nursing home to see elderly gentleman and make his day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


retired_chemist 7:52 AM  

Nice. Very nice. Enjoyed the M -> P substitution. All theme answers made me smile. Didn’t understand the N and O in the title M N O P until Rex explained. Thought WOTD would be GOUACHE. ETIOLATE was my runner-up.

Had MAYA for INCA @ 118D - wrong continent. ☹

Nice clue for AIDA – who knew? Many of you perhaps, - not I. Some crosswordese, but not a lot – AMPS UP, ENLACED, ELOI, RNAS (the S makes it crosswordese, because nobody uses the plural in the real world).

Thanks, constructors, Torbach and Reynaldo!

sillygoose 8:41 AM  

The perfect level of difficulty! I enjoyed this puzzle. I found the theme at THE POD SQUAD. Cute.

I had taken for TAPED "attached in a way" but that was easy to fix. I have finally learned where the AARE is. I left the I in RHINE blank because I don't know the difference between the Rhine and the Rhone, but PASS CONFUSION was pretty clear. The Z in the obvious KLUTZES helped me to get BERLIOZ right away. I know he is a composer but I couldn't give any biographical data.
I had an error in GOUACHE (??). I guessed correctly on the O (Plastic wha??) but I thought the A would be a consonant. A was my third choice. I need to do a qwik course with hubby on baseball.
Since when can you only submit your solution once, or was it twice?
ETIOLATE was pretty straightforward, sort of like DAPPLE for spot. I don't say these things out loud but I know what they mean. I am still waiting for the day when someone talks to me in secret crossword language code.

joho 9:07 AM  

I read the puzzle title as "M" no "P" which is the opposite of what it is. How would you know to put a "?" after the "M?" And an "!" after the "P?"

Doesn't matter if that was confusing, the puzzle wasn't. It was fun and a better than average Sunday with clever clues and answers.

Congratulations AMY and Tony!

joho 9:08 AM  

Oh, @rex, that "Orca" trailer is awful ... it left me rooting for the whale.

edith b 9:19 AM  

Richard Harris and Bo Derek?
In the same movie? Priceless.

I had Hi-RES at 124D that prevented me from seeing the last theme entry. It didn't help that I had RHONE entered at 111D.

Since I worked this one North to South, I was held up for a long time at the very end of the puzzle, all due to my mistakes.

Great job, Amy and Tony.

Jed 9:20 AM  

I liked "stud puffin" a lot. Because the degree to which I am uncultured is shockingly high, the BERLIOZ/ARLES intersection was deadly.

As for ORCA... I figured that's what it was for a while, but thought that there was no way a "thriller" could be called Orca. I guess this was long before Free Willy.

The one answer I still don't get is APER for "Little or Short." Can someone clue me in?

Karen 9:33 AM  

My favorite clue was summer at a ski resort, since that is where I've been this past week. Lots of activities out here. It's hard to do the xword on a borrowed laptop though.

Crosscan 9:38 AM  

I don’t really know what a wheelhouse is but if you want to make a puzzle that’s in mine, here’s what to include:
Montreal Expos: Pete ROSE
More baseball: AARON, STANCE
Superman: LOIS Lane and URSA
More DC Comics: ISIS
Yiddish: KLUTZES
Disney: DOREEN and Orlando
1970s references: CBER, LAVERNE, Bo Derek, Walton
Bad 1980s groups: Duran Duran
Animal found on the Canadian coasts: STUD PUFFIN and ORCA
Canadian APERs: [Rich] Little or [Martin] Short
Places I’ve been to in 2009: CAESAR’S Palace, NEW YORK
Throw in great theme answers and you’ve got one fun Sunday puzzle.
Long live STUD PUFFIN !

pednsg 10:31 AM  

Yet another Pete Rose puzzle!

@Jed - Both Martin Short and Rich Little are inpressionists, APERS in crosswordese. This one had me for the longest time as well.

Rex - your point about having GASBAG and GERALDO in the same puzzle was priceless - I knew you were going to somehow bring this up, and the subtle way in which you did was terrific!

Overall, enjoyed this one very much, despite the many first names and other words I'd never heard of - all getable from the crosses. My last box was the "A" in HARING and ARAM (had EARL for ARAM at first!) - guessed A instead of E looked better.

Happy 5th, everyone!

Hobbyist 10:44 AM  

I don't understand "a toi" being a german phrase for "yours." Isn't it french? To me, it is at any rate. I must be missing something.

Crosscan 10:50 AM  

@hobbyist: Giverny [France], not Germany.

Hobbyist 10:55 AM  

Oops. My dyslexia.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Sorry still don't get your explanation of the theme MNOP. MTOP I get and that is really what happened in the puzzle. Explain further please. Golfballman

Glitch 11:07 AM  


[Is it a] M? NO [it's a] P


jae 11:08 AM  

Very nice Sun. STUDPUFFIN gave me a chuckle. I briefly had Swift writing EROTIC stuff but other than that very smooth. Congrats Amy!

jeff in chicago 11:11 AM  

Very nice. Congrats Amy and Tony. I had to roam all over this puzzle before I got a foothold, and it happened at FULLPETALJACKET. Which is a great answer. Also THEPODSQUAD, though that took a beat to get as I put HONEY in for 47D at first. (Didn't everyone?) Nice misdirection.

As the two longest non-theme answers, BALDEAGLE and OFFSEASON are terrific.

My only quibble would be with 23A, as it's the only theme answer in which the M-to-P change isn't the first letter of a word. Still, I liked this very much. My time was way too long, but I was watching Wimbledon while doing it. A perfect Sunday morning!

Denise 11:12 AM  

Yay, Amy!

I am NEVER doing the Sunday puzzle on the stupid "play against the clock" grid again == no fun at all.

I didn't get to really "see" the grid.

Greene 11:18 AM  

Flat out, the most enjoyable change-a-letter puzzle I have ever solved. And with 6 Broadway references to boot! Puzzles without theatre references make me BOILING PAD and cause PASS CONFUSION IMHO. Props to Tony and Amy! More, please.

Off topic nonsense (apologies, Rex): I will be in NYC 7/22/09 through 7/26/09 for a summer theatre glut. E-mail me if you'd like to meet up for drinks and/or puzzle chat.

@IMSDAVE: Got Tickets?

PlantieBea 11:37 AM  

Thanks Amy and Tony. I loved the STUD PUFFIN and THE POD SQUAD answers--got a good chuckle. We spent the morning pulling a wild pea so I could relate to the latter.

Leon 11:41 AM  

Thank you Mr. Orbach and Ms. Reynaldo for a most enjoyable Sunday exercise.

Since Niagara didn't fit, it had to be Seneca (famous for Woman's rights.)

Other NY Falls cities or villages: Genesee Falls, Glens Falls, Highland Falls, Honeoye Falls, Hoosick Falls, Hudson Falls, Little Falls, Lyons Falls, Montour Falls, Oriskany Falls,Rensselaer Falls, Schuyler Falls, Valley Falls, Wappingers Falls.

Puffin 11:50 AM  

Am I being dense? Why does "ACERS" mean "Deliverers of the unreturnable"?

jeff in chicago 12:11 PM  

@(stud)Puffin: Think tennis

ArtLvr 12:24 PM  

@ puffin -- A service ace in tennis is unreturnable, the server of the same is the ACER in xwords!

I loved the puzzle too -- very smooth, except i wanted Kleptos for KLUTZES at first. Kudos to Amy andd Tony...


Stan 12:34 PM  

Excellent Sunday! Even the clue for 23A made me laugh. Had some trouble in SE spelling out DOREEN letter by letter, but it all came together.

foodie 12:43 PM  

I loved it! What a great premiere, Orange! Sat on the porch, smelled the gardenias and had a lovely smooth solve. What more can you ask for?

The NEHRU clue reminded me that I have a small silver-inlaid box that my dad received as a gift from NEHRU (along with a photo of the two of them!). There was an evanescent moment of sanity in the Middle East when many countries decided to join the Non-Alignment movement, and my dad was a delegate to India as part of this exchange.

I had never heard of PINA cloth. Just looked it up. From Pineapple plant fiber!

@R-C I agree that DNA and RNA are never plural in scientific parlance. The word either indicates the whole category, or if one needs to be more specific, you add a modifier: eg. RNA molecules. It took me a while to accept.

Mike the Wino 1:07 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike the Wino 1:11 PM  

Fun puzzle!

It took me forever to get HI-FIS. Just couldn't see "high fidelity". It reminds me of "PASYSTEM", a word my buddy and I defined as an answer to a clue that is difficult to parse, which we pronounce as "passy-stem".

Did anyone else start out with SPARETHEROSES? That goofed me up for a while........

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

I guess we all loved the Stud Puffin clue.
Had trouble for longest time w/
Hi-Res instead of Hi-Fis
and klutses for Klutzes.
SO happy I can read this column as
often I don't get the clue &
now I got the p instead of m...duh!

Ulrich 1:47 PM  

I'm late--watched two unbelievable acers putting unreturnables into play at Wimbledon. And for the first time I feel actually sorry for Roddick.

I'm proud I figured out the theme, after the fact, using the same punctuation that Rex suggested. had reading MNOP backwards (put P ON M) as an alternative. I basically enjoyed the puzzle, if a little less than some.

One quibble: This is what I understand gouache to be (from Wiki):

Gouache differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk is also present.

In other words, you see the paper or underlying color shine through with watercolors, whereas gouache is used to cover everything up. In fresco painting, it's used to put in white highlights "al secco" (i.e. when the original plaster is dry), for example--something you could not do with watercolors.

Clark 1:55 PM  

Very enjoyable puzzle. I thought there was a misprint. AARON was supposed to be a "perennial N.T. leader of old." Oh! It's that baseball guy again.

Puffin 1:57 PM  

@Jeff and ArtLvr, thanks for the help. A real duh for me on the day of the Wimbledon men's finals.

(And thanks to Rex for the picture of the puffin, which I have a personal fondness for, as you could probably guess.)

I can't tell if all this talk about Pete Rose's recent ubiquity is appreciative or despairing. The puzzle authors could have avoided the controversy by going with Axl and Charlie. I would have liked that pairing better because I think Charlie Rose juxtaposes against Axl better than Pete does, and it might introduce a fun moment of confusion as the mind naturally pulled up Charlie Watts after seeing Axl's name.

Lisa in Kingston 3:16 PM  

@Mike the wino: raising hand for spare the roses....Arliss came along and erased that, however.

miriam b 3:19 PM  

LOOOVED the puzzle.


I'm with you, Ulrich, on the GOUACHE issue.

Also, I do recognize that there are two accepted meanings for GOULASH: (1) The Hungarian dish gulyás, a stew or soup with many variations;

(2)A mishmash.

I have a feeling - which I couldn't validate via Google or Yahoo - that the second meaning arose from confusion with the name of another dish, ghivetch, which really IS a big pot of miscellaneous stuff: many vegetables with or without meat. Various versions exist in Balkan and other cuisines (including Armenian) with accompanying variant spellings. The Turkish version is called turlu - but I digress. In general, it's like ratatouille, but with the vegetables arranged in distinct layers. It's baked, usually, and before the advent of Al foil the lid was sometimes sealed to the rim of the pot with dough.

A Romanian coworker once referred to a large disorganized mess on someone's desk as a givetch.

And in conclusion, if you've followed my gustatorily nerdy narrative this far,GOULASH, IMHO, is a pretty straightforward dish in any of its incarnations. Givetch, OTOH, is a wild party for vegetables.

Off to improvise a moussaka involving eggplant, tofu and potatoes.

mac 3:40 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, with its great clues (I'm not writing clueing again, G!) and LOL theme answers.

I did the puzzle completely North to South, but I looked at that first clue for a while. It made me realize there are many words for "gas" in Dutch. Yes, that gas.

Also, 7D, deliverers of the unreturnable almost had me fill in OB-GYN! Sorry.

Pod squad and stud puffins were my favorites, too. I got the theme with 23A, so it actually helped a bit later on in the puzzle. I never heard of Pina clots, just pima cotton, so that was a risky spot, but RNA solved it, right or not.

I think ski resorts try very hard to make their location a summer attraction. I've spent some (summer) time in Sun Valley, which has become quite an arts center.

If Amy tried to include her name in the grid, maybe Tony made a stab at it with TONI at the bottom right.

Congratulations to the two of you on a really good, smooth Sunday puzzle.

Ruth 3:40 PM  

Watched the "Orca" trailer (and that's plenty on that gem) and didn't see Bo Derek at all.
"Starring" Bo Derek? Ah, I see, it was before "10" which was in 1979, so she was pretty obscure then. Still, looks like it actually "starred" Charlotte Rampling. Which is pretty amazing too. Guess a gal's gotta eat.

chefwen 4:01 PM  

Like Jeff in Chicago it took me what seemed like forever to get my foot in the door, but once I got in I had a great time solving this puzzle. I really liked all the theme answers, and of course, STUD PUFFIN being the favorite. Toward the end I thought I would have to give up and then realized that I had written in SICS twice at 81 and 84 across, found my silly error and TA DA it was done.

Well done Orange and Tony, loved it.

pednsg 4:19 PM  

Forgot to say it earlier. Amy - thank you, thank you, thank you. Your book helped fuel my addiction and get me past mondays. You, Rex, and many of the regulars here are responsible for my continued love and appreciation for these puzzles!

still_learnin 4:39 PM  

Lots of brain freezes on this one. I started off with SPARE THE ROSES... and it was there when I finished. Knew it didn't fit with with the other theme fill, but i was totally convinced it was right. Also, had _ _ _ DEAGLE and couldn't think of a four-letter eagle! Doh!

The puzzle was great, Tony & Amy. The puzzle-solver, on the other hand, was not.

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

I hate to kvetch, but I am suprised that no one seems to have felt that the "HARING"/"ARAM" clue violated the NATICK principle. I thought that that, along with the unclued plural of "FIS" on the clue "Hi-", represented noteworthy weaknesses on the part of this puzzle--nothing, certainly, worthy of dismissing out of hand the quality of the puzzle as a whole; but certainly something worthy of mention.

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

Thanks to everyone for all the positive notes on this puzzle - Amy and I had blast doing it.

A few things for the road:

Rex, that PUFFIN picture is awesome! I mean, it really is a pretty studly one you managed dredge up! Speaking of puffins, "Puffin": I like your suggestion of [..Axl and Charlie...], but it actually confuses me even more, as Pete Rose's nickname was CHARLIE HUSTLE!

Last thing - "Orca". I remember seeing this movie with my dad - we went to see two movies that day and until recently I remembered vividly what that second movie was - "Slapshot" maybe? At any rate, I clearly remember how bad "Orca" was - and how clearly it ripped off the wildly popular "Jaws" of a few years earlier (with Quint's boat "Orca" another clue option, of course!). If anyone has the inclination and/or heart to make it through to the denouement of this thing you will be rewarded by seeing Richard Harris meet an end that will have you cheering!

See you on the blogs,

Orange 5:30 PM  

I'm definitely keeping my husband. Last year he was doing a crossword and trying to figure out an answer, and he asked me, "Is there such a thing as a STUDPUFFIN?" He needed STUDMUFFIN in that puzzle, but the STUDPUFFIN found life in its own puzzle. Glad to hear that so many others besides Tony and me got a kick from that.

Many thanks to Tony for a fun collaboration and to all of you for your kind words.

Our original clue for GOUACHE was [Watercolor alternative]. The artists tell me that's not exactly right either—all I know is that GOUACHE is fun to say, especially in combination with GOULASH. If I could paint, I'd make a gouache still life of a bowl of goulash and title it Goulasche.


fergus 5:53 PM  

Thanks puzzle makers. I found this more difficult than a typical Sunday. Quite a few entries, with ample follow-on effect, to throw one off: BURNING MAD, DRAWS instead of DRAGS, assuming that Taj Mahal could be a TRIO, etc.

Rex Parker 6:20 PM  

HARING and ARAM = flat-out gimmes in both directions for me. Both the artist and the book are quite famous (see Google). I'm guessing most solvers knew at least one, which is why no one is complaining much about that crossing.

I'm no fan of FIS, but I've seen it clued exactly this way in the NYT before. Masking plurals is one of the more common trick cluing techniques. If anything, this puzzle needed more in the way of misdirective cluing. Easiest Sunday in many, many weeks. My Google traffic is way down (though overall traffic remains pretty strong).


Bob Kerfuffle 6:53 PM  

The joys of failing eyesight: I don't know how many times I looked at the grid and confused 82 D with 92 D in the clues. I just couldn't believe that CAPOTE had been a Mouseketeer!

@ mac - OB-GYN passed through my mind also when I saw that clue!

(Totally tangential: There are many ways of shortening words. We have contractions like don't and can't. There are acronyms like scuba and snafu. Sometimes we use the beginning of a word, like auto or taxi or gym, and sometimes the end of a word, like bus or cab(!) or (I've heard but don't believe) za (for pizza.) But is any other word or phrase abbreviated exactly as OB-GYN is, grabbing two or three letters from the beginnings of the words involved? Examples, anyone?)

foodie 7:08 PM  

Rex, for the word similar to ETIOLIATE, were you thinking of Emaciate?

I love the word DAPPLE, and especially in Dappled Light. An architect friend once told me that some research has shown that almost all humans find dappled light to be very pleasing to the senses.

@mac OBGYN is really funny, and perfect, answer!!!

@Orange, I like the way your husband thinks. STUD PUFFIN makes more sense than stud muffin. I mean I know what the phrase means, but it always strikes me as odd. But Puffin is exactly what a stud does...

Bob Kerfuffle 7:16 PM  

(And add the joys of failing mental capacity:) I meant to add that another element that makes OB-GYN unique as a short form is that I have only heard it pronounced as O-B-G-Y-N, that is, spelled out.

Anne 7:23 PM  

I am so glad that I can say, without reservation, that I loved this puzzle. Congrats, Orange, you really deserve kudos for all the hard work that led you to this. And also to Tony for a great puzzle. I loved the theme and nearly all of the phrases.

If you haven't see Huffman as Capote, he was wonderful. Well worth seeing. And Giraldo Gasbag just has a ring to it, don't you think?

retired_chemist 7:30 PM  

@ Bob Kerfluffle -


And, I believe, a lot more that escape me at the moment.

XMAN 8:06 PM  

@Orange: Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. I won't tell you what I made of GOULASH!

joho 8:49 PM  

@Tony ... I'm trying to think ... what could be worse than being eaten whole by a great white shark? Richard Harris always ate up the screen (crosswordese would be EMOTED)... I can't imagine what happened to him in the end. Maybe Orca just flopped out the cold, frozen water and squashed him flat.

JannieB 9:02 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - how about def-con?

treedweller 10:41 PM  

@anon 4:50
If it makes you feel any better, I googled for ARAM. I suppose I should have known it, but that's the way it is with crosswords; either you know it, or you don't. Magicians do not interest me, and, despite an English degree, I have big gaps in my knowledge of literature. This was one. I might have cried Natick, but I figured it was just me.

Anonymous 11:12 PM  

Many of you spoke of Googling today. What is the protocal in terms of timing yourself yet resorting to Google? Sure it took me close to a casual hour to complete and had 3 cups of coffee, but not once did I Google. A very enjoyable puzzle indeed. Thanks Amy not only for this puzzle, but all the goodwill you do in puzzleworld

mac 11:32 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: I think the way OB-GYN is spelled out when pronounced makes it really unusual. I've been racking my brain but can't think of another expression.

treedweller 11:36 PM  

As an inveterate googler (only as a last resort), I will try to answer anon 11:12. My take is that the applet cannot be policed, and my time will never be absolutely comparable to other times. Since I really have no chance at the top times, I don't worry about it much. I assume some who get better times that me are cheating, and some who do worse are capable of better but got distracted by life. I don't worry about it much.

I am fairly certain some people are gnashing their teeth every time they see a confession of a google, since it messes with the grading curve. My take on that is that they should get over it. There's nothing anyone can do to eliminate cheating on the applet. If you want a fair gauge of your times against real solvers with no cheating, go to a tournament. Interestingly, though, my ranking in the ACPT this year was pretty much the same as it is every day in the applet when I don't resort to google.

One other point: when I stick it out and don't google, my time suffers, obviously. But I'm often surprised to find I can finish successfully when I was sure it would not happen. For me, google usually comes in when I feel I have no more time to devote to the puzzle that day, whether I could finish without or not. I enjoy it more when I get over the hump on my own, but I enjoy finishing more than I enjoy leaving a puzzle incomplete but keeping my pride intact.

I'm sure every solver has his/her own take on all this.

andrea infun michaels 3:19 AM  

Yay Orangebach!
Debut on a Sunday???!!! You go, you stud-ette puffin!

Liked GOUACHE/GOULASH...seems like a theme waiting to happen...

and that under GOUACHE was a double AA and a double CC so I thought I'd made a mistake. SO that was kind of neat.

Mini-malapop: put in "My name is ARON" (a bio of Elvis's dead twin?)
Wanted Asher Lev.

Other mistake...tried ICER for ACER, (thinking ICEMAN cometh) as you can't return ICE unless you act awfully fast.
Poor little stud puffins soon won't have floes to strut around on! :(

I think I've already told my Keith Haring story. Died too young from AIDS. So won't repeat...Sad to read he's considered a possible resident of Natick-ville...(sigh) so thank you, Rex, for that picture!

Did anyone mention it's a nice SCrabbly pangram what with the KLUTZES, QUILT and JUNTAS? (JUNTOS good too in Scrabble)

Totally cry foul on ORCA clue as Bo certainly wasn't even close to being a co-star.

(Ahem, notice absence in credits nor appearance in trailer...by the way, Charlotte Rampling's dad just died, saw an obit in the NYT and he was an Olympic athlete among other things, very interesting...I think she is one of the most beautiful actresses alive, right up there with Julie Christie)
But points for camp(y) fun-ness!

Hey, just noticed you can parse her as BOD-erek

And speaking of women d'un certain age...yes, TONS of old lady names in the puzzle...
but I'm taking that as a shout out!

Puffin 4:12 PM  

@mac (who couldn't think of any other short forms that are spelled out the way "O-B-G-Y-N" is): what about "RSVP", or "ASAP" (which some people spell out)?

Now, I know those are acronyms, not abbreviations, but Kerfluffle said "short form", not abbreviation.

Stan 9:22 PM  

Amy & Tony:

Very late post, but my wife insists I say that STUD PUFFIN is the single most amusing clue / answer we have ever seen in a crossword. Rex's jpg was icing on the cake. We bought a puffin refrigerator magnet today in commemoration.

nurturing 12:39 AM  

Congrats, Orange!

Mouseketeer Doreen was my favorite and the one with whom I identified, so I got that answer right away. So glad to see her in the puzzle!

Amelie 11:31 AM  

Tidbit: LAVERNE Andrews' birthday was July 6 -- nice shoutout.

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