1910s-'20s flivver — MONDAY, Oct. 12 2009 — Broadway songwriter Jule / Title bear of 1960s TV / Lenten treat

Monday, October 12, 2009

Constructor: Richard Chisholm

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for a Monday)

THEME: another (not-so-great) vowel shift — from BAN to BUN through all the vowels

Word of the Day: Flivver (44A: 1910s-'20s flivver => MODEL T) n. Slang

An automobile, especially one that is small, inexpensive, and old.

[Origin unknown.]


Wow, was I on the wrong end of a generation divide today. Yipes. I have never seen so many Monday answers I flat-out didn't know. Four. At least four that were not just tough to get, but utter mysteries to me (though I'm nearly certain all of them have been in some puzzle I've done, somewhere, before). But there was other stuff that made the puzzle seem not just tough, but weak. First, the theme itself, which is about as tired a concept as there is in Puzzle Land. "C'EST SI BON" is weak as an answer, esp. as clued (i.e. completely unimaginatively, as a literal translation). Why not this?

Probably because it would have made the puzzle even harder than it already was (for a Monday), but it's already skewing hard (for people born after WWII), why not at least put a good clue on the answer. IS INTO and IS OUT? Boo. OTT and ORR? Double boo. D'OR? Blecch. ARE SO? I had AREN'T in that slot (20A: "You _____ wrong!"), which makes only slightly less sense to me than the real answer. AWW is, as one of my Twitter followers exclaimed, "egregious" (5D: Exclamation before "How cute!"). Esp. ugly right next to "random Roman numeral" (LII).

But as I've said, the ugliness of the puzzle wasn't a big obstacle to solving. It was the TAFT-era sensibility of the puzzle that left me on the outside looking in."Flivver" is known only to very old people, car experts, and crossword experts whose memories are better than mine. Jeez louise. Other stuff that eluded me: GALBA (27D: Emperor after Nero)? No idea. STYNE (29D: Broadway songwriter Jule)? Uh uh. Felt slightly, vaguely familiar, but not familiar enough. I thought I'd never hear of "LILI Marlene" (34A: "_____ Marlene" (W.W. II song)), but a. I think it's been in a puzzle somewhere before, and b. when I complained about the answer to my wife, she said "Oh I knew that. You know that. I know you know it because it's in that Leonard Cohen song ... 'Famous Blue Raincoat.'" Me: "He's saying 'Lili Marlene?!' I never knew what he was saying." I didn't tell her that in my head I was thinking "... you mean he's not singing 'Lillum or Lane?' I just thought Lillum and Lane were two guys he knew." Every single one of the answers I didn't know is totally valid. I just wouldn't expect to see any of them (let alone FOUR of them) on a Monday. So it took me 4+ minutes to solve. I'll survive.

Theme answers:

  • 18A: Likely result of pollution along a beach (swimming ban) — right away, not the zippiest-feeling theme answer. Why is this "likely?" I'm guessing in most of the world it is highly unlikely.
  • 23A: Title bear of 1960s TV (Gentle BEN) — about as close to my sweet spot as any answer got today, and it barely caught the corner.
  • 41A: Receptacle for some donations (used clothing BIN) — I'm not fully convinced this is a thing.
  • 54A: "It's so good," in Paris ("C'est si bon")
  • 62A: Lenten treat (hot cross BUN)


  • 15A: Sting, in baby talk (owie) — AWW, an OWIE. Why "sting?" Come on, pick a less ambiguous word. Me: "Why would a baby be talking about a sting (operation)?"
  • 40D: "Aha!" ("I get it!") — mocking me.
  • 58D: Citi Field player, for short (NY Met) — ugh. Just ugh. No no no. Google it (in quotation marks). Only the opera gets referred to this way.

I have to stop now. But one last thing: thanks to everyone who wrote and asked about the stray basset hound and Jack Russell terrier that we took in for a night last week. After a couple of days, the following notice appeared in the paper:

We called all relevant parties last night and got no reply, but it looks nearly certain that the outcome here is going to be perfect: dogs back with original owners. And now my wife (whose birthday is Wednesday) wants a Jack Russell puppy. She thought she hated small dogs. Turns out that's the opposite of true.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


PIX 8:33 AM  

Agree with Rex: difficult for a Monday..."Lili Marleen" has been discussed at least once in the past on this blog, although I did not remember it until I looked it up again...and I never, never realized that that was what Leonard Cohen was referring to in "Famous Blue Raincoat", although I have listended to the song a thousand times. Thanks for mentioning that.

nanpilla 8:40 AM  

The only appropriate place for that AWW is in reaction to that photo! I think I actually said it out loud.

Just back from France, and still did not like the C'EST SI BON. It seemed so out of place and desperate to fill out the theme.
Was impressed that at least they appeared in order, AEIOU, from top to bottom. There seemed to be an awful lot of 3 letter words, I guess because of theme constraints, but the theme wasn't cute enough to warrant them all in my opinion.
Good to be home!

treedweller 8:44 AM  

Not only was a a little slow on this one, but I had to correct mistakes three times. Well, one mistake I corrected twice (Bumps to Humps to LUMPS). Lili Marlene? Yeah, I probably saw that in a puzzle before. I'm sure I snorted, groused to no one in particular that it was ridiculous to expect em to know it, and moved on.

My other mistake was just a typo, but I took a long time finding it, since GALBA and STYNE looked so ripe for error.

LEMME was my first thought, but on Monday I thought sure it would be "let me." MODELT was a fairly natural choice, but for some reason I auto-filled "Model A."

I guess it may just be one of those age things, since I am almost the same age as Rex and had almost the same experience (except for being half as fast, of course). Anyway, I just found this an odd puzzle in general. BYNOw.

dk 8:55 AM  

Two Jack Russells live next door. They are a hoot. One can almost jump a 5 foot fence from a dead stop at the base of the fence. And, the squirrels tremble when they come out.

Fine puzzle. I would have clued 9d as another dead prez. Loved MELBA. Never understood GENTLEBEN, another show that made me happy we grew up TV free.

We have had a spate of USEDCLOTHINGBIN robberies here in the twin cities. It also seems the Twins were robed of a world serious slot.

2 inches of snow on the deck.

joho 9:02 AM  

I got GALBA and the answer to flivver, MODELT, by crosses. In my mind I kept thinking flubber, why is flubber in this puzzle?

I also had flaptrap and letme before I got CLAPTRAP and LEMME which slowed me down on those theme answers.

OTT and ORR in the same puzzle? I think that's a first and hopefully a last!

Also the exact same clue for EVENUP and TIE did'nt win any points from me.

@Rex ... great write-up and thank you for posting the pup pictures. I'm so happy the wandering duo will find its way home. Cute dogs!

Parson Russell 9:13 AM  

@Rex, you're at a turning point in your life here, be very careful. Make the wrong decision, and within a year you'll be living on a farm with 3 ponys and a Jack Russel. Do NOT get a Jack Russell - They're wonderful farm dogs, great around horses, will keep their territory free of all critters, but they're not house pets. They are the most energetic, attention black holes of dogs. There are nice, small, house pets, but JRs are not them. Unless you're prepared to take up fox hunting, stay away.

Oh, the puzzle. Had to keep re-calibrating my mindset back 30 years. Ok once I did that.

JannieB 9:17 AM  

Glad to have a happy ending to the dog story. You and Sandy were so very generous to hold onto the dogs as long as you did. The owners will be very grateful.

As for the puzzle, it was easy for me. Only thing I didn't know was Galba, but it came easily with crosses. It was definitely skewed to the (pre?) Boomer era, but I don't see that as a serious problem.

It has its faults (weak theme and some groan-worthy fill) as duly noted in the write-up, but I don't think every puzzle has to be clued for the under 40 set to be run on a Monday.

ArtLvr 10:01 AM  

Lovely puzzle, and DROOPS is a great word: I can't think of a dog that can look as sad as a basset. So glad your two visitors are going home soon!

STYNE was a gimme, I just had to remember the spelling. I hope Greene will add more on him...


slypett 10:01 AM  

My thoughtis that the puzzle was easy-going, in all senses. All the obscurities mentioned were like air, except GALBA, which was smog.

The only gaffe was BAH as an exclamation synonymous with "Humbug!" The clue should have been "Lead-in to 'Humbug!'"

Rex: Re Jack Russells. I knew an elderly couple who had one in a small apartment, and they all did just fine.

Geezer 10:01 AM  

I'm sorry that Lili Marlene is unfamiliar. It is one of those songs that crossed the lines in WW II, and was enjoyed on both sides. It was written by a German in 1915, and set to music in 1938.
Stanza 1:
Underneath the lantern,
By the barrack gate
Darling I remember
The way you used to wait
T'was there that you whispered tenderly,
That you loved me,
You'd always be,
My Lilli of the Lamplight,
My own Lilli Marlene

Hope you techno-wizards can find the music and post it on this blog.

PlantieBea 10:03 AM  

Great write-up Rex. I was AT SEA over the same words, especially FLIVVER. Nina Hagen and Leonard Cohen spiced up this Monday. My favorite entry had to be CLAP TRAP.

The dog photo is precious--what an expression on that basset. I'm glad the owners will be found. Some neighbors have a noisy JR; it has a tendency to escape its yard by digging under a fence; and it bites.

Susan 10:10 AM  

I like the word CLAPTRAP. I definitely use the term USED CLOTHING BIN, but I make stuff up, so it could be not a thing.

I thought it was kind of fun to have a more difficult Monday, although if I never see OTT/ORR again I won't be sad.

Susan 10:10 AM  

I like the word CLAPTRAP. I definitely use the term USED CLOTHING BIN, but I make stuff up, so it could be not a thing.

I thought it was kind of fun to have a more difficult Monday, although if I never see OTT/ORR again I won't be sad.

Jeffrey 10:10 AM  

Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for doing this puzzle in under 4 minutes. I have no dog story.

mac 10:10 AM  

Hard for a Monday, I needed almost all the crosses for Galba, model T and Gentle Ben. Odd to have Ott and Orr in the same puzzle! I liked Valise, I'm packing for a trip to London.

What an unlikely duo, Nina and Nana, so funny when you grew up with the severa Nana Mouskouri. I love Leonard Cohen. Know the song, but didn't remember Lili Marlene was in it. I must have learned that name from CWPs.

I must say I almost always dislike those awws, eeks, arggs etc.

Isn't a hot cross bun an Easter pastry, so after Lent?

We once had a German cousin of my husband visiting with his wife and two little sons. We took them to the Fairfield beach and just after they walked into the water a flag went up and everybody had to get out. The water was too contaminated!

Nice to hear about the dogs returning home! I think I may have to agree with the Parson, Jack Russells are very hard to train.

retired_chemist 10:13 AM  

Good to hear that the the lost dogs saga is nearly at a happy end.

The puzzle - didn't seem as tough as my time tells me it was.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM  

Monday . . . a-e-i-o-u . . .supereasy puzzle pegged just at a (small g) geezer like me.

And since Rex included both LILIMARLENE and CESTSIBON, not much else to say. (@(Capital g) Geezer - click on the arrows on the pictures in Rex's blog to hear the music!)

mccoll 10:15 AM  

Aha! This one was easy. Whippersnappers might find it a challenge, but who said all puzzles had to focus on current affairs, tawdry affairs, or the names of teen-aged Pseudo-celebrities? Average solving time for Monday. I found the clues to be OK but the fill was repetitious and flat somehow.
Wait until Rex finds his first grey hair. Buying a Jack Russell should do it.
Thanks for the write up and thanks to RC the elderly.

Howard B 10:25 AM  

Rex: "Why would a baby be talking about a sting (operation)?"

Love that one. Spun me off on a tangent there.

"2am. It was dark now, like pulling a wool blanket over my head in the crib. As I started drifting off to soft, fuzzy sleep, I shook myself back to, pulled up my diaper and remembered why I was here - the stakeout; Big Tony's rubber nipple operation. If I go nappytime now, it's all for nothing."

Susan 10:25 AM  

@ mac Hot Cross Buns are traditionally made on Palm Sunday, still Lent.

Dough 10:32 AM  

Well, this did feel kinda hard for a Monday, but Saturday's puzzle was way too easy for a Saturday, so maybe it's just a little Yin and Yang.

Rex Parker 10:32 AM  

Long, non-puzzle-related comment:

I appreciate the feedback on Jack Russells, but really, I don't need to be lectured about what kinds of dogs JRs are. I'm well aware. We are the kinds of people who overresearch before buying / adopting, and the kind who train and exercise our dogs religiously. We're quite self-righteous about it, actually. And we know our limits. We may get a small dog, but I doubt it will be a JR.

But as far as training: any dog can be trained. Yes, terriers are willful ratters and not as easily trained as, say, labs, but usu. when people say "hard to train" they are making excuses. I Love dogs (really, it's sick — I see one and immediately start talking to it in my dog voice) but have issues with most dog owners because they overfeed, underexercise and undertrain their dogs. It's cruel. People compliment us all the time on our dogs' behavior, and I just think "it was not hard. We are not professionals. We just took the time to do it."

Our dogs should be the rule, not the exception. Sit, stay, come, go to your place, wait, go to bed, walk, down, no licks (for lab only), up, shake, off, drop it, stop, go potty (yes, on command) ... if you've got patience and treats, you can get your dog to do these things Easy. Their lives, our lives, and the lives of strangers are way better because the dogs are trained to listen. Well, 97% of the time they listen. A passing chipmunk can Really interfere w/ a dog's willingness to listen.

I will say, however, that I was having a bear of a time getting the JR to sit (in the five minutes or so I spent working with her). She seemed to have two modes: Stand, Jump. Fred Basset, on the other hand, put his butt right down, and ate many treats as a result.


Two Ponies 10:34 AM  

Anyone else think of LAPD for King beaters?
Very odd puzzle. Never heard of a flivver.
Like Parson Russell said be aware of what you might be in for if you choose a JR. Aggression and destruction are prominent traits. There are tons of other great small dogs to choose from.

Ulrich 10:37 AM  

Re. Lili Marleen: I can't find the original WWII version that I posted the first time we talked about the song, but here's one by the same singer:
Lili Marleen sung by Lale Andersen

Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

Sorry Rex, we were typing at the same time. I see you need no more dog info.

Karen from the Cape 10:39 AM  

Here you go, geezer. First is an English version by Lale Andersen, and here's Marlene Dietrich, who seems to be most closely tied with the song, singing in German.

I found it a challenging puzzle too. My last entry, for swellings, was MUMPS. We have SWIMMING BANS in our area, and USED CLOTHING BINS for recycling.

fikink 10:44 AM  

Knew I had heard of flivver before, but could not place it until ODELT formed.
Love that you thought Leonard Cohen was singing about guys he knew, Rex. Kinda like The Sadder Budweiser Girl. I think Ulrich posted a LILI Marlene some time back.

@Sandy, how fortuitous that you were there for the dogs. They thank you for your kindness. And, I, too, was never a fan of small dogs except for Scotties, then Frasier's Eddie came along.

fikink 10:47 AM  

@Ulrich, ah yes! Sorry about my repeating you. I guess Rex doesn't need more Lili Marlene and dog info today.

Sandy 10:54 AM  

I'm going to stand up for the maligned JR breed. The one pictured slept all night under the covers with me. What's not to love about that? Any dog can be obnoxious given the right(wrong) owner.

oh, there was a puzzle? I think I talked to Rex in that "i can't believe an english professor doesn't know..." voice about Lili Marlene, so sorry about that.

hazel 11:13 AM  

Today it looks like I agree with everyone (about the crazy huh words). On the other hand, I liked the puzzle. Thought it had guts, and was at the same time a bit foppish. I liked the combo.

Sadly, my smarty pants feeling from yesterday was short-lived (worst time EVER for a Monday), but still, for me, this curve ball was a good start to the puzzling week.

Very funny, @Howard B!
Corgi mixes rule!!

Rex Parker 11:34 AM  

How's this for coincidence? We just found out, just now, that my wife's brother (NZ) has a brand new ... JR puppy.



PlantieBea 12:06 PM  

@Rex: Aaw, who can resist a puppy. Looks like the cat is establishing dominance, even if it's only temporary.

bluebell 12:28 PM  

I could work this puzzle out until Styne, Reilly, Galba. I couldn't remember how to spell Stene, Stine, Styne, and tried Reidle, Reigle, and knew that Gadba and Gagba were not very likely. I hope my mind retains Galba for the next time! I knew Flivver from my reading.

Thanks for the Eartha Kitt.

Clark 12:28 PM  

I knew LILI Marlene (without knowing it was called LILI Marlene until semi-puzzle partner told me) from -- well, from all over somehow -- but, especially from the movie Judgment at Nuremburg. The song is frequently heard in the background during the movie, but there is a scene in which Marlene Dietrich (who is acting not singing) tells Spencer Tracy about the meaning of the lyrics. (Great movie. Did William Shatner and Judy Garland both appear in any other movie?)

@mac and @Susan -- I though hot cross buns were a traditional Good Friday thing. I see wikipedia concurs with that. Interesting: They were banned in England as too Catholic "but they were too popular, and instead Elizabeth I passed a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only at Easter and Christmas." So there's room for all of us to be right on this one. :)

Unknown 12:37 PM  

annoyingly challenging for a monday. for a minute i wondered if this was part of some retrospective of puzzles made in the 30's. take out a few answers and it could have been.

Hungry Mother 12:39 PM  

Funny thing happened to me last night. We had our last company of the season and they were vegging in our living room, littering it with empty cans and shoes. I decided to grab the Sunday Times puzzle and get my mind in a happier place. I noticed that the answers were surprisingly easy; then I noticed that the puzzle was surprisingly small for a Sunday. I inadvertently got this puzzle instead of the one I thought I was getting.

Greene 12:44 PM  

I didn't much care for this puzzle. As stated by others, this is a very tired theme that might be justified if the fill were truly creative and sparkling. Alas, no. Did it in my usual Monday time, so I didn't find it difficult, although I could certainly understand others finding it challenging for a Monday.

The theatrephile in me enjoys Charles Nelson REILLY crossing the great Jule STYNE (although I don't think the two ever worked together). I saw REILLY in the original production of Hello Dolly when I was 10 or so. I don't remember much except how eye-poppingly colorful the show appeared...and how kinetic it was. I'd never seen a show that moved so effortlessly and cinematically with literal wipes and dissolves, just like you'd see in film. The title song caused such an ovation in the second act I thought the show was going to just end right there. I've rarely seen a number take hold of an audience like that.

Jule STYNE was one of the greats of American popular song from the 1940s-1960s and may have been the theatre's second greatest melodist (right after Richard Rodgers). He wrote many pop hits for film and Frank Sinatra (with puzzle denizen Sammy Cahn) and it's an astonishing body of work: "It's Been a Long, Long Time," "I Fall in Love too Easily," "It Seems I Heard That Song Before," "Three Coins in the Fountain" and on and on. In the late 1940s he arrived on Broadway and created another catalog of song hits from a variety of hit musical shows including Gentleman Prefer Blondes, Peter Pan, Bells Are Ringing, Gypsy (his sole collaboration with Stephen Sondheim),Funny Girl, and on and on. He was amazingly prolific.

One of the most memorable things about a Styne show (to me at least) were his overtures which crackled with excitement, optimism, tunefulness, and a kind of brash confidence that was uniquely American. I still get gooseflesh when I hear those opening trumpet calls from the Overture to Gypsy. Styne was a real talent and he is sorely missed on Broadway today.

CoolPapaD 12:46 PM  

@Two Ponies - WAY too funny!

I had a strong feeling Rex was going to rate this difficult, and though there were some obscure references, it was very doable. I know LILI Marlene was in the puzzle fairly recently. I can't believe that I never heard of Leonard Cohen until a few years ago - I found him after Googling the song "Dance Me to the End of Love after hearing an amazing cover of the song and wanting to know more about it. Now one of my favorites, by far.

Doc John 1:24 PM  

I'm glad I'm not the only one who found it difficult for a Monday!
I did like the OTT and ORR fills, only because it was cool that both of their numbers were 4.

retired_chemist 1:41 PM  

@ Doc John - we can add Brett Favre to a list of number 4's - perhaps not as crossword worthy as the other two, but still....

HudsonHawk 1:41 PM  

Have to agree with Rex's rating and write-up. That GALBA, ELLIS, STYNE vertical was not Mondayesque.

For big L. Cohen fans, this is probably familiar, but a few years ago, a handful of music critics created a list of the 25 best Canadian pop songs (as well as the worst five). Hallelujah finished first, and Famous Blue Raincoat was #12. Funny commentary on the bottom five.

Best Canadian Songs

foodie 1:56 PM  

What Rex said... Jeez Louise!

And what Rex said about dogs is the best advice on raising kids I've seen in a while... Love,commitment, knowledge, responsibility and discipline on the part of the owners.

..Well, 97% of the time they listen. A passing (member of the opposite sex) can Really interfere w/ a (teenager's) willingness to listen.

imsdave 2:19 PM  

Very Monday for me. Just one of those days when I knew the more obcsure stuff.

@Greene - re: Styne commentary - I cannot tell you the number of musical theatre people I've met that say that they were hooked on the genre on their first hearing of the overture to "Gypsy".

Sadly, the overture seems to be less important today (not unlike the verse).

chefbea 2:40 PM  

I agree - was harder than the usual monday puzzle.

When I take my old clothes to donate at the thrift shop, the person in charge usually says "put them over there in the used clothing bin"

@Andrea read you post from late last night Wow!!!!!!!!!
That was great

sanfranman59 3:31 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 8:05, 7:02, 1.15, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:34, 3:45, 1.22, 88%, Challenging

Definitely not your average Monday puzzle today, although I feel pretty good about it since it only took me a little longer than my average Monday solve time (5:47 vs 5:33 avg). And this, in spite of the fact that at 50, I'm not quite old enough to remember the Taft administration!

Greene 3:31 PM  

I didn't get around to reading Andrea's post from last night, but you know who's a really great blogger/poster...?

chefbea 3:34 PM  

@Greene who me? chefpaula

chefwen 3:36 PM  

Liked the puzzle, a little more time consuming for a Monday, but enjoyable. Only trouble spot was where I put in elv. for height, thinking that was a wierd abbr. for elevation and filled in URGEd for URGES, so I ended up with dvyne for Jule, pretty sure that wasn't anywhere close to being right and finally sorted it out after Googleing GALBA. Google on a Monday, unheard of. Time out for me.

George NYC 4:08 PM  

Am curious how those two awesome looking dogs got lost in the first place...

PIX 4:10 PM  

@HudsonHawk: interesting list of the best/worst from Canada...maybe its the 5 year old in me but i'm not really convinced that Seasons In The Sun is the worst song Canada has ever tried to export.

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

AWW, how could you be expected to be in a good mood after your beloved Red Sox have fallen?

With deepest sympathy,


Elaine 4:31 PM  

Just now able to make it out of the rocking chair-- brushing my gray hair off my haggard, wrinkled brow, settling my bifocals in place to assist my rheumy eyes.... Can hardly believe said eyes: this puzzle is not for those "born after WWII?" (Quickly checked dates of WWII....confirmed that 1947 is considered post-war.) Then I had to pause to reminisce (in the way doddering old Baby Boomers do) about the year "C'est si bon" came out. I believe we bought one of those new 45 rpm records!

Except for trying PANCAKEShmm (thinking Maundy Thursday) before entering HOTCROSSBUNS, and having to pause a second before completing GALBA, this puzzle was quick. In fact, the top 100 solvers had fast times; c'mon-- 4 minutes is fast! It takes that long just to write the letters in the little boxes.

I admit to a little ARGHH when Mel OTT surfaced AGAIN, but this puzzle was not difficult, obscure, or especially challenging...IF, that is, you have the gift of years. (@PARSON RUSSELL...I think going back only 30 years is not quiiiite enough.)

Thanks, Rex, for the Dog Update. (Hey, you know, REX is a good dog name.....)

Denise 4:38 PM  

A beach can be somewhat polluted before swimming is banned -- then one day it gets polluted enough for a red flag. It's all relative.

Our local bakery (DC) makes hot cross buns on Wednesdays and Sundays during Lent. I love them!! This year Whole Foods had some pretty good ones, during Lent and even after Easter.

Usually I do the puzzle around 10 p.m., but I just did it today (4:30 p.m.). When timed, I am usually in the middle -- but this late in the game, I am in the top third!

I am 63, and I love Leonard Cohen, and I also knew flivver, "Lili Marlene," and Taft (the last not personally).

fikink 4:48 PM  

Hand up as another Leonard Cohen fan. I think my favorite song of his is Sisters of Mercy. Judy Collins recorded it early on.

Blackhawk 4:56 PM  

Rex wrong again on the puzzle and the dogs.

Enjoyable, clever puzzle -- especially for a Monday. I liked the a/e/i/o/u deal and thought the answers were Fridayesque in their non-obviousness.

Re Jack Russells. If you have a JR, you have way too much time on your hands. They are a total pain, the entire breed. They are the Bart Simpsons of dogs. You would look w/ pity on someone else who accidentally got one, but to willfully go out and get a JR is just a little crazy. Super-neurotic without any of the playfulness of a lab or shepherd.

joho 5:09 PM  

@Blackhawk ... bad dog! I've been around plenty of Jack Russells and they, just like people, are all different. Some hyper, some not. Some sweet, some mean ... you get my point. They most definitely are not ALL neurotic ...

@Greene ... Paula Poundstone! (Andrea, forgive me, I couldn't resist!)

I've said this once before here, my favorite Leonard Cohen song is "Hallelujah" sung by Jeff Buckley.

Van55 5:17 PM  

I agree that it was a challenging puzzle for a Monday, but that's not a bad thing in my book. I like a challenge, and finishing a Monday puzzle in 3 minutes or so isn't much fun.

I also appreciate Rex's criticism of the "random Roman numeral." But at least the clue was straight forward. If it had been clued DCCCLXXXIV divided by XVII, I would have been really annoyed.

I've never heard of GALBA before, but I remembered Charles Nelson REILLY and got the emperor with the crosses.

chefbea 5:56 PM  

@Blackhawk a JR lives across the street from us. He is soo cute and well behaved. My daughter had two of them - Chester and Lulu many years ago and they were adorable. Unfortunately they are no longer around.

Anonymous 6:14 PM  

@retired_chemist said...

@ Doc John - we can add Brett Favre to a list of number 4's - perhaps not as crossword worthy as the other two, but still....


Not crossword worthy at all (except in some nightmare), but still....

Lou Gehrig, maybe the finest of all of them, despite being a Damn Yankee!


retired_chemist 6:24 PM  

@ fellow Cal alum Larry - didn't know about Gehrig. Good one.

Stan 7:03 PM  

Great news about the dogs, Rex! Someone's going to be very, very happy.

AV 7:21 PM  

You __ wrong!

My German Shepherds are smarter/nimbler/__ than your honor students/JRs/__ :-)

Two Ponies 7:42 PM  

Even though I was guilty earlier of putting down JR's (from first-hand experience at their cat-killing ways not to mention furniture destruction) it is apparent that any critical remarks in this dog loving blog is akin to speaking badly of someone's grandchildren. It's pointless and someone always gets mad.
I think we all must agree that a well-trained dog is the happiest dog because he is surrounded by happy people and is a pleasure to have around.

Glitch 8:25 PM  


An RCA US recording of Lili Marlene, by an anonymous chorus in June, made it to No. 13 in 1944. It hit the US charts again in 1968, the German charts again in 1981 and the Japanese charts in 1986.

The song is said to have been translated into more than 48 languages, including French, Russian and Italian and Hebrew. Tito in Yuogoslavia greatly enjoyed the song.

Lili Marlene is easily the most popular war song ever.

If you simply want a pet for your family, I do not recommend this breed. Jack Russell Terriers should be involved in advanced obedience, or agility (obstacle course), or in an earth dog club (where terriers dig and tunnel after small critters who are secured in a sturdy cage so they can't be harmed). Jack Russells were never intended to be simply household pets. Their strong hunting and chasing instincts are inappropriate in a normal household setting. Trying to suppress these "hardwired" behaviors, without providing alternate outlets for their high energy level, can be difficult.

I probably wouldn't have known either if it were not for today's puzzle and blog.

Perhaps tomorow will be a better day.


sanfranman59 8:50 PM  

With apologies to the non-fans of baseball in this crowd, here's a bit of baseball uniform number trivia ... The 1929 Yankees were the first to wear uniform numbers and they corresponded to the spot in the batting order the player usually occupied. So Gehrig wore #4 because he usually batted 4th in the order. The rest of the order was Earle "The Kentucky Colonel" Combs #1, Mark Koenig #2, Babe Ruth #3, "Long" Bob Meusel #5, "Poosh 'em up" Tony Lazzeri #6, Leo "The Lip" Durocher #7, Johnny "Nig" Grabowski #8, Benny Bengough #9 and Bill Dickey #10 (the last 3 shared catching duties that season and usually batted 8th in the order). Six of these players are in the Hall of Fame. Sadly, I knew most of that off the top of my head. I often wonder what meaningful knowledge I'm crowding out of my brain with all the baseball trivia I have stored up there.

Charles Bogle 9:53 PM  

Poor Mel Ott..greatest all-time NY Giant/Polo Grounds player; reduced in the minds of many to hackneyed Xword fill

agree w Rex's rating--difficult for a Monday...largely because of some seemingly out-dated and/or archaic stuff... I knew STYNE but not LILI or MODELT and some others..but on the whole seemed a bit boring and drab. CESTSIBONNOT/

RP's first-rate write-up and following the dog saga compensated for my losing interest in the puzzle itself!

foodie 10:03 PM  

@Sanfranman, I'm not a baseball fan (I almost feel like I'm going to get deported for saying that), but I still enjoyed reading the information you posted. I only knew 4 of the names you listed, but it could have been worse... So now I have a question. Why does everyone have a nickname? Is this tradition stronger in baseball than other sports?

edith b 10:07 PM  

As a 60ish history and literature buff, this puzzle was right in my wheelhouse. My skills are knowledge based more so than wordplay or just the reverse of how I percieve Rex and most of the other speed solvers to be.

I found none of the fact-based answers to be difficult but I still have to fight my way through late week puzzles and, in the year I have been coming to this blog, my wordplay skills have certainly increased and for that I am grateful to Rex for all his help.

sanfranman59 10:39 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 8:10, 7:03, 1.16, 83%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:30, 3:45, 1.20, 88%, Challenging

@foodie ... Nicknames are common in all sports, but I think particularly so in baseball. However, it seems to me that they're less common and much less colorful these days than they once were. You just don't hear nicknames like the Splendid Splinter (Ted Williams), the Bambino (Ruth), the Yankee Clipper (Joe DiMaggio), the Say Hey Kid (Willie Mays), the Hammer (Hank Aaron) and Charlie Hustle (Pete Rose) anymore.

foodie 11:08 PM  

@sanfranman, thanks! I agree these old nicknames are very colorful! The way they emerged, and stuck, must have been interesting.

Your musing about what you're crowding out by knowing all this baseball info reminded me of one of my favorite quips about the limits of memory. The first President of Stanford U., David Starr Jordan, was an ichthyologist (that word should be in a puzzle!) He'd walk around campus and chat with the students and appeared to know all of their names. People were very impressed with his memory and asked him how he managed this feat. He said "Every time I learn the name of a student, I forget the name of a fish"... But actually, I don't believe that we come anywhere near the capacity of our brain to store information. In fact, learning induces more storage capacity-- one of the beauties of the brain. It's just that there's only so much time and energy to focus and process all the different types of knowledge...

fikink 11:19 PM  

@foodie, funny you should mention ichthyology. Saturday, in response to the clue, "Like Japan's national diet," (the answer to which was BICAMERAL), I spent a good deal of time trying to work in an ICTHY... word.

Sfingi 11:22 PM  

Easy for oldster/oldstress. I saw the theme, since I know about this sort of theme now because of this forum, and loved it. Why? I did this one at the Home with my mother who remembers only pets and songs. I said C'est si bon (Say see bone) and she sang it for me. I said Lili Marlene and she sang, auf Deutsch, "Sie heisst Lili Marlena." I said "Hot Cross Buns," and "1-a-penny, 2-a-penny," etc. Then "Martini and Rossi" - the ad. Then "Tam O'Shanter" "When chapman billes leave the street..," didn't know it all - it's really long and scary. "And you'll look so neat in the little seat of the flivver built for 2." Great fun.

When Marlena Dietrich sang Lilli, she would take the skin on her throat between 2 fingers and shake it to make a trill. Yikes! Can you imagine an "artist" (singer, that is) doing that today?

What's the back-story on the pups?
Jack Russels are rather wild.

Anonymous 12:51 AM  

I thought the puzzle was easy, but then, I'm a little old lady. Lili Marlene was a gimme. JRT's are my favorites, and yes, they can be high-energy, but they can be (and have been for me) soul-mates. If Sandy was drawn to this little girl, then she needs one. Just socialize him (preferably him) to the lab, which you would do anyway, with any new dog. They do have their idiosyncrasities, but that's what makes them so adorable beyond their puppy days.

Ok, I've tried to publish this several times under what I Thought was my Google Account, but since I'm a little old lady, I've obviously forgotten my username and password and am now going to fly it out there under the Anonymous Banner. --Robin

Anonymous 1:53 AM  


andrea byn michaels 2:49 AM  

I think OTT and ORR could have worked if there was also OWW instead of AWW...and ODD, OFF, OMM, OPP, OSS then it would be fun!

I don't think BAN, BEN, BIN, BON, BUN is boring! It's SO hard to do five in alphabetical order...been thru this before! (BIN thru this before?)

The problem (as I see it) is that once again it's a Tuesday being pushed on to Monday...so flivver, CESTSIBON, etc. so a perfectly nice puzzle is getting harassed. you go, Richard Chisholm! Just go on a Tuesday!

Jack Russells are super cute (I always accidentally call them Jack Daniels, but perhaps not after today) but you know which dogs are seriously fabulous?
Paula Pounddogs!

Anonymous 5:26 AM  


Geezer 10:35 AM  

@Rex, I agree 100% with your comments on dog training. Those dogs that are called rude, obnoxious or poorly trained are not that at all. It is their owners that are poorly trained.

Thanks for the posting of the songs of Lili Marlene. How sweetly nostalgic to hear them!

Van55 1:25 PM  

Bing translates the first anonymous Chinese entry as follows:

"Foreign brides struggling, Tainan has a mainland brides, he in the Mainland is a Xinjiang dance teacher, he is married and came to Taiwan when mainland brides, but he as hard up his order to let the beauty of Xinjiang dance so that Taiwan is known to teach in the park with Vietnamese brides, the Lin family home in this way become good sisters, Vietnamese women because of this, his personal life is also more happy."

The second translates:

"” “ beauty is subjective, and therefore the planning system furniture design before it is most important is the consumer and the communication between the interior designers and consumers to life using the provided message needs and preferences and interior designers-side you with professional experience, ergonomic, color, and other integration all the information in planning the body of principles, and so on in order to meet the actual results.
Systems furniture in the market have been paid by long time, as has already been springing early unit, instead, there is not only the quality of environmental protection, building materials, the design of more included can sense of correspondence between the consumer needs.Of course you can also use exterior, more practical and fun, the number of cases by the actual opens a new vision of system furniture.
1. the colours system furniture color is, indeed, very subjective impression, but the color was able to convey clearly the feelings of intuition, so how is edged with color system furniture is very important, and applied in different capabilities of space to highlight the vibrant colors of Interior Design.
In all actions concerning the application of a dark-coloured mild steel knife below the wood grain, left and right above the fog silver and white Crystal steel Grill light plane door mashup interior design, skirting to light-coloured maple wood ® and putting in 1/3 reduce condensation.
In all actions concerning the use of light yellow, 苹果绿, Cheng-red tricolor mashup .. bright colors, added system furniture space bright and lively.
2. the principle of proportionality system furniture cabinet design in addition to the color at the aspect ratio and symmetry equal division, it is most likely to render the intuitively; so-called aspect ratio was referring to the height of the watch by the positive and width Billy, symmetric equal division is a continuous link of cabinets to grasp the principles of equal width, these two principles does not make cabinets a sense of loss of lively and design, on the contrary, ranking system furniture Cabinet integrity.
In all actions concerning the wardrobe doors movie size to a total length of the Planning Division.
The child shall be left below the high Cabinet and Cabinet on either side of the dwarf-size symmetrical equal division principles, of course, above the high Cabinet is also a choice of one sided system furniture good choice.
The child shall be proportional symmetric may not necessarily be immutable interval shapes, and other symmetric rendered particularly liked this kind of a different character."

Not sure what these passages have to do with the crossword blog. LOL

Singer 11:50 AM  

Looks like I may be first from syndication land. I found the puzzle to be at least average - I think I finished a littel quicker than most. Had trouble with CEST SI BON because I don't know how to spell in French and had CEST ce BON. The crosses fixed that pretty quickly, though. Other write overs were AREn't to ARE SO, AWe to AWW and LEtME to LEMME. Flivver, not so hard. Hey, the Absent Minded Professor was on TV on Friday - if you knew flubber, you should have known flivver. ;-)

Nullifidian 1:00 PM  

If Singer is the first, I'm the second in from syndication-land.

I did this on the bus this morning. My one write over was GALBA. I forgot the order of emperors and thought that Nero's successor was Gaius (a.k.a. Caligula). In fact, Gaius was Nero's second-to-last predecessor, immediately before Claudius. Then the theme clicked for me, and I realized that the fourth letter in the answer had to be a "B", hence GALBA.

I started off easily enough in the NW, even retrieving GENTLE BEN from somewhere in the recesses of my memory (I was born in 1980, eleven years after it went off the air), but then I slowed down somewhat, given the antiquarian nature of the puzzle. If you told me this puzzle creator was old enough to remember President TAFT, I wouldn't disbelieve you.

I didn't care for the overuse of phrases, either. IS OUT, I GET IT, IS INTO, etc. seemed to be there just to make the puzzle slightly easier, but so many at once seemed contrived. Surely it couldn't have been difficult to come up with easier clues and answers than the ones we had today.

Why, for example, did we have "Charles Nelson REILLY, longtime 'Match Game' panelist"? "John C. ___ of the film 'Chicago'" would have been far more like a Monday clue, and it would have been shorter. Today was the first time I'd ever heard of Charles Nelson Reilly or Match Game.

Looking it up, I think Match Game may be the most recent cultural allusion in the entire puzzle.

Singer 5:48 PM  

Hey, Nullfidian. I think maybe the Dear Abby reference is more current. Match Game bit the dust in 1999. Dear Abby is still around, although no longer in our local paper since the original quit (or died). Here daughter took it over, but still goes as Abigail Van Buren. I do agree with you and others that the references in the puzzle were dated, however since I am a bit dated myself, it is nice to see cultural references that I know, rather than things like Zac or the obscure one from 'N Sync.

The puzzle was pretty pedestrian, I thought. Monday puzzles are always easy, but often are very entertaining. This one not so much.

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