Bloomsday honoree — SUNDAY, Oct. 4 2009 — Political comedian with 1973 album Sing a Song of Watergate / Enemy in 1980s arcade game Arabian

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Constructor: Todd McClary

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Initial Offerings" — theme answers are famous person + word that sounds like initials in famous person's name, e.g. SAMUEL ADAMS ESSAY (S.A. -> "ESSAY")

Word of the Day: CAVY (115A: Rodent named for a 20th-century novelist? -> KURT VONNEGUT CAVY) — n., pl., -vies.

  1. Any of various tailless South American rodents of the family Caviidae, which includes the guinea pig.
  2. Any of various similar or related rodents, such as the capybara, coypu, and agouti.

[From New Latin Cavia, genus name, perhaps from Galibi cabiai.] (


Cute and easy puzzle today. Didn't we just have this "NV"-to-ENVY type puzzle? Am I making that up? Feels awfully familiar. Theme phrases are fresh and entertaining. The gimmick was too easy to uncover and made solving too easy for me — I had a sub-10 min. time, my fastest NYT Sunday time ever, I think, or close to it. Needed most of the crosses to get the first theme answer, SAMUEL ADAMS ESSAY, but a. those crosses were easy to get, and b. after that, with the theme in hand, the other theme answers were a cinch to knock down. Just a few letters in CUTIE gave me the entirety of QUENTIN TARANTINO CUTIE for instance. Yes, that's how the Easy factor is injected into this puzzle. For once, solving the tail end first actually helps make the whole answer clearer. Usually coming at answers from the back, as opposed the front, is less helpful. Not so today. But some of the theme answers you could get just by looking at the clue. Television award give to a Surrealist? — that shouldn't take anyone (who knows anything about art or does crosswords ever) more than a second to get. TV award = EMMY ... M. E. ... surrealist ... Max Ernst. Piece of cake. I don't mind the simpleness so much because I sort of like all the answers involved. Wish the non-theme fill had been tougher, though.

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Article written by an early American patriot? (Samuel Adams ESSAY)
  • 39A: Dental problem for a boxing promoter? (Don King DECAY)
  • 47A: Desire to be more like an actress of Greek descent? (Nia Vardalos ENVY)
  • 66A: Adorable child of an edgy filmmaker? (Quentin Tarantino CUTIE)
  • 88A: Tent used by a Latin musician? (Tito Puente TEPEE)
  • 94A: Television award give to a Surrealist? (Max Ernst EMMY)
  • 115A: Rodent named for a 20th-century novelist? (Kurt Vonnegut CAVY)
The only place I got even briefly hung up was in and around CAVY, which felt new to me, though it probably wasn't. I've seen, learned, forgotten, relearned, and reforgotten a lot of rodent names since I started doing puzzles. AGOUTI? PACA? Sure, whatever. I get AGOUTI confused with ARGALI, and when that happens, you know you've been doing way, way too many crosswords. Thought the STERNER PEARLER (124A: Less lenient + 109A: Oyster bed diver) and the SORER ELATER (87D: More likely to snap + 97D: Someone offering a lift?) were pretty horrific, especially considering they're swimming next to each other down there. You can take IDVE and the clue for LAA back wherever they came from (40D: "If only _____ known ..." + 104A: "_____ note to follow ..."). Didn't know AILEEN (6D: Actress Quinn), but it didn't matter because I had nearly all her letters before I saw her clue. Thought I knew NOLA but it turned out her name was NONA (112A: R&B singer Hendryx). As for MOS DEF (94D: "The Ecstatic" rapper) — you're welcome.


  • 1A: Political comedian with the 1973 album "Sing a Song of Watergate" (Mort Sahl) — often in puzzles as last name only, his was the first name that came to mind. Oh, and I learned his name from crosswords (before my time).
  • 32A: Record label for Bill Haley and the Comets (Decca) — Dang, I just wrote a clue for DECCA almost exactly like this. Now I gotta go change it.
  • 34A: Enemy in the 1980s arcade game Arabian (Roc) — loooove this clue even though I have never seen / played the game in question. "Arabian" was enough of a giveaway for me.
  • 44A: Chinese dynasty 1,000 years ago (Liao) — Went with LING, then LIAN ... bah. If 39D: Clue game board space (door) had come to me sooner, LIAO would have been no problem.
  • 56A: Godzilla contemporary that was a giant flying turtle (Gamera) — "contemporary," HA ha. Like they constitute a historical era. GAMERA was the subject of at least one ep of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," so I know ... him? ... well.

  • 120A: Name beside a harp on euro coins (Eire) — seen this clue many times now.
  • 16D: Looney Tunes lothario (Pepe Le Pew) — a skunk who is hot for cats.
  • 17D: Like much of the Danube's territory (Slavic) — I think of "Slavic" as relating to people, not land.
  • 33D: Animal that leaves when it's cared for? (Chia Pet) — I don't like "leaves" as verb meaning "grows leaves," but the clue is a valiant misdirection attempt.
  • 48D: Overly enthusiastic (rabid) — yes, like fans.
  • 51D: Salamandridae family member (newt) — "Salamandridae" looks formidable, but you can see ordinary "salamander" in there, and NEWT is supercommon.
  • 63D: Bloomsday honoree (Joyce) — remember how I told you I've never read Yeats? Well he's not alone on my DNR list ...
  • 64D: Skedaddles (scoots) — I had SCRAMS.
  • 71D: Member of a modern theocracy (Iranian) — technically a "theocratic republic," I think.
  • 99D: Court great Karl (Malone) — I worry about Mr. MALONE. How long until people just forget about him. I know he's a Hall-of-Famer for sure, but still ... I see future crosswords with future solvers complaining "Who the hell is Karl Malone?" To which I will reply, "How could you not ...? Why, in my day ..."

And now your Tweets of the Week (puzzle chat from the Twitterverse)

  • fleetwoodwack Don't solve a Patrick Berry crossword with a hangover.
  • Zahornberger I got so close to finishing this crossword... WtF is "Nosegay"?
  • ericaandbaxter Sometimes I wonder whether nytimes crossword puzzles are in english
  • miltonline I have been treated really badly by the UK Press this year. They keep charging me for each newspaper & give me really difficult crosswords.
  • Belflower122 No Shame Theatre was full, so it's beer and Twizzlers and The Office and crosswords! I am so exciting.
  • BriefCanPhotos is watching Jet Li fight himself, and is beginning to think his love for crosswords may be unhealthy
  • AlChiz Catching up on missed NYT crosswords, and I find Sept.12th was one of my Dad's. Gee, thx for telling me, Pops. Sigh. [follow-ups: AlChiz @rexparker Ta for shout-out, tho my tweet contained a mistake: it was 9/9 that was my dad's (Richard Chisholm). // AlChiz @rexparker PS it may cheer your readers to learn that my dad constructed his first puzzle in his 70s (he is 85) after 50+ years as a solver.]
  • ertchin More Kickstarter crosswords! I want one of these projects every month. At least.

That last tweet is no joke. Click through to visit the Kickstarter page for Patrick Blindauer's new puzzle project, "2009 Holiday Puzzlefest." It's the lastest independent puzzle project from one of the very best constructors in the business. A suite of 10-12 puzzles of the very highest caliber and cleverness, and you can get in for a mere $5. In just a couple of days he was already better than halfway toward his subscription goal. Get on board. Support independent constructors. You won't be disappointed. There's a contest and everything. Get details here. It'll be the crosswording event of the Holiday season. OK, I'm not sure what the competition's like in that category, but ... I'm pretty sure Patrick will own it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


poc 8:38 AM  

I can't believe I'm the first. Not much reason to comment other than that. The puzzle was OK though a slog for me in some parts - maybe it's too early in the morning. It took me a while to get the theme even after filling in some of its answers. And sorry Rex, I never heard of Mr. Malone. You can not read Yeats and Joyce, and I can not watch sports, deal?

JannieB 8:42 AM  

Don't think it was really fair to the constructor to run this puzzle this week. It's a nice puzzle, but following so closely on the heels of last week's initials rebus, makes it seem a bit redundant.

That said, the theme answers were fine, but the fill in the Texas region (anteing???) was just dreadful. Agree with the easy rating, but not a real joy to solve.

e.e. cummings 9:11 AM  

Nine EE words in the answers. EEEE!

Denise 9:22 AM  

I learned about Pepe LePew from puzzles -- and have pictured the character as a vampy female. Lothario?

Thanks for the info on the holiday puzzles.

If you are an person, giving the $$ is a one click, one minute deal.

Greene 9:23 AM  

Have to agree with @JannieB that this puzzle came just a little too soon after the PB1 rebus puzzle of last Sunday for full enjoyment. A few weeks spacing might have been in order. Nonetheless, this was a fine Sunday outing and kept me extremely entertained.

My first theme answer was DON KING DECAY and I have to confess that I didn't get it. After I got NEA VARDALOS ENVY I got the idea (NO DUH) and the other theme answers came fast and furious. I had no idea what a CAVY was, but got it through the crosses. Glad to see it's the word of the day.

Two major misfires held me up today: ALLERGEN for HEAD COLD and SET SAIL for GO TO SEA. It did not help that 70D (ROTO) fit with my GO TO SEA idea and so I wondered what a SIFT (79D) was and how could it be used in a shower. I had SOAP there initially (you know, works with SET SAIL), but TITO PUENTE set me straight.

I recently read Earl Hess and Pratiba Dabholkar's Singin' in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece. I know, a whole book devoted to my favorite movie of all time. I was practically orgasmic. The tome proved to be a very scholarly accounting of all aspects of film production complete with an analysis of the cultural relevance of the piece and explanations as to why it appears on so many critics' listings of the top ten movies of all time.

Personally, I just think the film is so infectiously good-natured as to be a greater antidepressant than Prozac. Like the Woody Allen character in Crimes and Misdemeanors I trot out Singin' every time my spirits need a lift. Works every time. Here's Gene Kelly in the rain dance sequence: 4 minutes of pure happiness. I already feel great about today. Happy Sunday, all.

Smitty 9:43 AM  

Wow Rex! That Gamera video was the best reward for doing the puzzle this morning.

That is priceless stuff. I was going to say Mothra would be fuzzy with envy - but I see he had a theme song too...

Only beef this morning was rodent Cavy- I was looking for Mickey or Minnie.

joho 9:48 AM  

@Denise ... PEPE LE PEW is definitely a male who is always pursuing pretty pussycats.

I wish IDVE liked this puzzle better than I did. Not crazy about it, probably for the reason already stated about the prior rebus.

Phrases like GREWON, WARMTO, MOVEIN and TAKINGIT left me cold. @Rex already mentioned the dreaded "ERs."

Still, I thank Todd McClary for my much needed Sunday morning distraction.

ArtLvr 10:11 AM  

My little hang-up was HEDGE for HEATH, the 52A Shrubby expanse, though HYDE Park should have fixed it quickly... LAA was like OOLA the other day, LOL. CAVY was as familiar as NEWT and ELMO and EEL, but GAMERA stayed only on faith in the crosses. Funny creatures!

@ Greene, me too, re "Singin' in the Rain" -- lovely. I'm a fan of MORT SAHL too.

Did I like the theme MOTIF? Well done, just not the greatest somehow. After URDU and ANIME, I did get a kick out of the quoted Twitterer who queried whether the NYT puzzles were in English. I did wonder if DUMAS wasn't the second, Jr. or II, but didn't check it, why quibble?

Thanks to Todd, and the Rex for an enjoyable write-up...


retired_chemist 10:13 AM  

A fun Sunday. Easy. Did not catch on to the theme until I was checking my answers. For whatever reason, the theme names were easy for me. The phonetic monogram endings all came from crosses until the theme gave me CAVY @ 115A – had mistakenly thought the rodent was CAVA and was trying to sort out what AES was @ 119D. At the last second, the light dawned.


PEARLER – if you say so. And Google does. And my dictionaries all do. {kvetch}I think it is ugly. And HOT WARS too.{/kvetch}

Kudos to Mr. McClary. Also to Rex for a fine, fun writeup.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

It shouldn't have taken you ANY crosses to get QUENTIN TARANTINO CUTIE. Come on, Rex.

JaneB 10:21 AM  

I thought there was some kind of mistake when I first cracked the theme (at decay). Didn't we have exactly the same theme last week in "tooth decay?" Then to use "envy" again? Seems weird.
Also was a bit stymied by Texas region - had to google for Malone and Marvin, and did not remember Arn from previous puzzles. Can someone explain "LAA" to me?
@Greene: One of my favorite movies, too, and that's exactly right about the cheerfulness of it.

F.O.G. 10:23 AM  

Alrighty, can anyone enlighten me to the meaning of LAA in 104A, "___ note to follow"? I figured it out from 97D-99D, but still have no idea what it signifies.

Elaine 10:29 AM  

Doe, a deer, a female deer;
Ray, a drop of golden sun....
Do Re Mi Fa Sol LA Ti DO

LA, A note to follow Do

PePe is a male nickname, and Pepe Le Pew was always spooning with female skunks. Cartoons before movies, plus the MovieTone News....Old people recall these.

Agree, too similar to last week's, but still kind of fun. And some fill that we a bit different, too.

On with the show....

Molly 10:37 AM  

A: James Joyce Jay Jay
Q: PBS Kid's show named for Dublin writer.

Yes I said yes I will Yes.

mac 10:37 AM  

Easy and pretty quick for me too, and not too bad for a Sunday (my least favorite puzzle day).

I thought of Al Franken first, but Mort Sahl came in through crosses. I think I got the theme almost immediately, the "Initial Offerings" made it so clear. Rex is right, in most cases I figured the names via the end word, except for Kurt Vonnegut. And thank you, Rex, for mentioning Mos Def yesterday(?), it's good to pay attention, I would have been at sea!

Not too happy with anteing, no duh (am not even sure I'm parsing it right) and idve, but all in all it was a competent piece.

Ulrich 10:44 AM  
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Ulrich 10:47 AM  

I spent as much time trying to figure out my mistake in LAA at 104A as I did doing the rest of the puzzle--at last, that's how it felt like. Then I gave up and waited for this blog to give me an explanation, for which I had to wait until now. Clearly, it's obvious to many, and...

...@Elaine: thx--now tell me where the quote comes from and I'll be happy!

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

In Pepe's defense, he only pursued the kittycats after they had crawled under a freshly-painted fence, causing a white stripe down their backs. He thought they were skunks. This was a recurring theme (the ONLY them) of that cartoon.

puzzling when should be working... 10:47 AM  

Re LAA: Oy!

we DID just have envy, decay, etc ... last week or something.

CoolPapaD 10:55 AM  

Agree with those above who got stuck driving through Texas - I had AN_EING, went through the alphabet about 12 times before deciding to prematurely evacuate and come here for guidance. Could not remember ERTE, though he's been in several puzzles in the not too distant past.

Though I got it on my own, it seems suspect when the first entry in google for IDVE is from the website.

Growing up, I used to listen to my parents' copy of the Hair soundtrack obsessively, so I loved and smiled with 53D, and was humming up a storm last night!

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Saw "R&B Singer Hendryx" and only wanted Jimi! (Yes, I know, "Hendrix" for Jimi, not "Hendryx")

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Saw "R&B Singer Hendryx" and only wanted Jimi! (Yes, I know, "Hendrix" for Jimi, not "Hendryx")

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Saw "R&B Singer Hendryx" and only wanted Jimi! (Yes, I know, "Hendrix" for Jimi, not "Hendryx")

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

What a letdown after last week! A total "Why Bother?" puzzle for me.

chefbea 11:00 AM  

I agree - a very familiar puzzle. Took a while to get the theme but then it was EZ

Loved shower need and especially TV tray!!

Meg 11:03 AM  

From time to time posters here rant about a pet peeve, and today is my day.

"If only I'd've" (I don't even know how to spell it!) is wrong. "If only I would have known, I would have......" is wrong.

The correct grammar is "If only I had known, I would have...." I'm an ESL teacher and this abuse of grammar just kills me. I've accepted that I have to tell my students they will hear "If I was", but I refuse to accept "If I would've". Don't ask me about "whom". I think it may have disappeared from spoken English.

Other than that, the puzzle was OK. I kept thinking that I had just done something similar and the first time was much more challenging.

retired_chemist 11:09 AM  

@ Ulrich -

Do, a deer, is from "The Sound of Music."

Hope you are feeling better.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

The Sound of Music

Ulrich 11:24 AM  

@ret._ch. and anonymous: Thx--perhaps I should force myself to watch the movie, if only to improve my solving capabilities...and yes, I'm almost back to normal, thx.

...and speaking about movies, I want to thank @Rex for reminding us of Jackie Brown, which, to me, is QT's most underrated film--he did some very interesting things with the novel on which it is based.

Norm 11:29 AM  
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Norm 11:31 AM  

Cute puzzle. Agree with Rex about "leaves" as a verb for growing leaves. Had the same gripe (but didn't post) a couple of weeks ago. My dictionaries only show "leafs/leafing" as the verb form, although there's probably an obscure OED basis for it. Minor gripe with a fun puzzle.

jae 11:33 AM  

More easy-medium for me. I was slow to get into the NW. Thought the theme was pretty clever. Did not like IDVE and had to stare at LAA a while before Sound of Music dawned on me, but, other than that (and the mess in the central south) an OK puzzle.

retired_chemist 11:35 AM  

This is easier than it seems:

Old TV host's airgun pellet

Old horror movie star's dairy logo

Other old TV Host's South Carolina river

Duck soup to an old movie actor (or concert violinist)

A clear geezer bias in my choices. Lower quality than the examples in the puzzle, but still.....

edith b 11:39 AM  

This one had an unfinished quality about it as if, once he got past the theme entries, he couldn't figure out how to complete it.

Coming out of Pennsylvania on a diagonal we have NODUH MGM NAY IDVE NEWT ELON which looks like a random set of letters. And at 104A LAA which, when I finally parsed it, I couldn't belive it was right.

I thought the theme sparkled, everything else, not so much.

Alice in SF 11:45 AM  

Thank goodness for my art historian husband who gave me the Chinese dynasty for 44A. He comments that Liao is one of those little Northern dynasties that held out during the early Sung (or, as it is now spelled, Song) dynasty. When he's not around, I stick in Ming or Tang whenever it's a four letter clue. So now we all know.

I'm a rabid tennis fan so 98D was a puzzle as I'm thinking that I've never heard of a tennis player whose name began with Karl. Aha; it's Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz who was the teammate of John Stark, one of my favorite basketball court favorites.

slypett 11:48 AM  

LAA-LAAA-LAAAA. I had one (is my face red?) mistaque.

Martin 11:55 AM  

I'm surprised that some dictionaries don't support "leave." The Merriam-Webster Collegiate (abridged) does.

I do agree with Meg that "if only I'd've known" is mangled pluperfect subjunctive. "If I knew you were coming, ___ baked a cake" would have been a way to go.

Francie G. 11:56 AM  

Rex, where are you own puzzles published? I'd so like to try them!

Rex Parker 12:02 PM  

Rex remains officially unpublished (exc. for stuff I've published from this website). That won't last.


PlantieBea 12:07 PM  

Easy, but as EdithB said, sparkly theme with lackluster fill. I'd've was the pits, followed closely by anteing.

I just finished Joyce's "Dubliners". The last of the book, "The Dead", has to be one of the best short stories I have ever read. "Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man" is on order.

Thanks for the writeup Rex, and the QT theme Todd McClary.

Desch 12:26 PM  

Agree with Meg above, "I'd've" is just ungrammatical- double contraction there. I know in speech, it does sound like that- but it's extremely slangy and pains me to see it written down.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

110 Down was the thing that made me smile.... an artist who named himself after his initials, is the answer in the puzzle about initials..... cool

Stan 1:10 PM  

As @Smitty said, the Gamera Theme Song is great! Must search online for the MST3K episode...

Karen from the Cape 1:21 PM  

Here's a short, typical Pepe video for those who don't know him. As Saturday morning fare, he was definitely inferior to Sylvester and Tweety for me.

Easy fun Sunday size puzzle. I got the theme at N.V. envy. LAA was my last entry, I figured it out after staring at it about 15 seconds. (Especially since I don't know MALONE.) My favorite wtf answer: EGGCUPS. I think I've seen those more in cartoons than in real life.

I was at a county fair a few years ago, you could pay 50 cents to see the 'world's largest rat'. I forget now if it was a capybara or a cavy, but I got the guy to admit it was a South American rodent.

Clark 1:30 PM  

I think 104A LAA is tied into 16D as something PEPE LE PEW would say. "Ooh la LAA!"

I'D'VE is cool to see written out, be it right or wrong. I also love to see 'a whole nother' in writing.

mac 2:03 PM  

@anonymouse 12.35: that is a great find, and to me the best part of the puzzle!

@Karen from the Cape: I have eggcups, and my husband uses them regularly. A friend collects the two-sided ones, one side to rest the boiled egg in (maybe with a little chrocheted cozy on top), the other, larger bowl to break and scrape the soft-boiled egg into. I imagine people used to dip toast into it (soldiers).

PIX 2:09 PM  

I spent the morning at the beach doing the puzzle; I seemed to have enjoyed the puzzle a lot more than most people...maybe it was the beach…

Isn’t there a law that says every Literature teacher has to read Joyce’s Ulysses?…considered by most one of the greatest works in the English language, including its detailed description of a man taking a crap (chapter 4)…like a good puzzle, challenging but worth it in the end.

Ulrich 2:21 PM  

@Karen, mac: I want to second mac re. eggcups--I use them every Sunday for the two soft-boiled eggs I have with buttered, crusty bread. If the eggs are good (fresh from a local farm that we trust), they're absolutely delicious...salmonella be damned with all the red wine in my bloodstream...

Brendan Emmett Quigley 2:29 PM  

Just saying, Tortoise had a great song called "Gamera."

Noam D. Elkies 3:06 PM  

Last week "that is two say", this week "you can say that again". Yes, much easier than last week's, but still a fun puzzle notwithstanding the déjà vu — thanks, T Mc & Will! Quite an open grid too, with little of the compromise fill that often comes with such territory.

Didn't know "cavy" either. I liked 33D:CHIAPET; even if the dictionary didn't explicitly endorsed this usage of "leaves" it's inferable from the noun, as with "calves". I'm less sure of this definition of 59A:IMBUE (which I've only seen used metaphorically) but I trust that it can be confirmed somewhere.

Apropos déjà vu: 10D:TVTRAY was an answer in an airline crossword I solved yesterday on a SFO-BOS flight... Otherwise it'd've been new to me, though xwordinfo remembers two earlier instances.

@Aileen, er, Elaine: LA should follow SO(H) — or "sew", in the lyrics — not DO.

Neat to have 72D:UNVEIL cross 82A:COVERT.


P.S. Nice Diagramless today too, an unusually sized 19x17 by Patrick Blindauer.

chefbea 3:20 PM  

@mac my mother always ate soft boiled eggs with her 2 sided egg cups. And of course she dunked her toast.

joho 3:33 PM  

@anon 12:35 ... I did not know that, thank you! I even own a lovely Erte that my dear mom gave me many years back.

Unknown 3:39 PM  

When tou think they are easy, I think they are hard and vice versa !

still_learnin 3:40 PM  

This one was at just the right difficulty level for me for a Sunday. I liked NODUH, CHIAPET and EGGCUPS.

I've always associated DeadHeads more with POT than LSD, but I'm sure some of the latter was used also. :-)

Now, back to grading...

poc 4:32 PM  

@Karen: it would be a capybara, the world's largest rodent (not really a rat of course). They are native to South America and people here in Venezuela call them "chigüire" (chee-GWEE-ray), presumably an Indian name. The cavy on the other hand is small, like a guinea pig. The Incas are said to have raised them for food.

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

I'm sure all you cw mavens know this, but what is "Kas in Kangaroo"?

chefbea 5:23 PM  

@allan its K as in kangaroo

Anonymous 5:24 PM  


Anonymous 5:28 PM  

OK, but it's really "K" is for Kangaroo, not K as in Kangaroo. K as in Kilo is how I know it.

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

LAA? No way, no more than DOO, REE, MEE, FAA, SOO, or TII. See WIki on Solfege ( This is just made up out of thin air. No fair!

JannieB 5:47 PM  

@Anon 5:30 - it's a song lyric LA A NOTE TO FOLLOW SOL from the Sound of Music

Martin 5:48 PM  

It's "LA, A note to follow (so)."

Glitch 6:37 PM  


I agree that although "Idve" isn't the best usage, it's fine for a puzzle trying to be cute.

I don't look to the Puzzle for correct usage (in any language) any more than for correct spelling (eg var.).


You (and I) may know "K as in Kilo" as part of an "official" phoenetic alphabet, but "K as in Kangaroo" works as well as "P as in Psychotic" does ;).

BTW: Again a good "On Language" column in the NYT Mag today. Most of us can identify with one side or the other.



You can learn all you need to know about the Sound of Music from the puzzles.

But if you insist, please wait until you are fully recovered. The yodeling song alone has health risks.


Two Ponies 6:50 PM  

I think La gets the shaft in that song. Every other note gets some cute explanation and poor La, what does he get? A note to follow sol! What a rip-off!

Martin 7:47 PM  

I disagree that La gets the shortest straw. He doesn't follow Sol, he follows So.

The other notes have grown-up names, but Sol has to go by a baby-talk nickname for the sake of a stupid song that wants a homonym of "sew." At least La can fly under the radar and retain some dignity.

Ulrich 8:01 PM  

@Glitch: There's yodeling in it? That's does it for me: I will never, ever watch it--and if it means I'm still in the 93% percentile at the next ACPT, so be it!

chefbea 8:13 PM  

A as in Allen

HudsonHawk 8:28 PM  

@Alice in SF, you may be thinking of the Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton. Karl MALONE, Stockton's teammate with the Jazz, will almost certainly enter the HOF next year.

John Starks spent most of his career with the Knicks. Often good, but not HOF material.

Noam D. Elkies 9:10 PM  

The variant "so" of the 5th solfège note "sol" may feel like a travesty, but losing the final consonant helps when one says or sings a series of notes quickly to the solfège syllables, which is one thing they're used for. Happily "sol" and "so" are almost indistinguishable in the familiar context do-re-mi-fa-so(l)-la-si/ti-do. The original hymn had "sol", but then it also started with "ut" — which is still used in some contexts but much less than the more easily pronounced "do" — and "si/ti" had to be added later.

@martin 7:47 — "sol" also has a homonym, "sole" (either the fish or the shoe or foot part); and if "far" can stand for "fa" then one can imagine the sixth note being "lar" (I've read it's a Roman god or something :-) ). But the lyricists also had this annoying meter and rhyme business to deal with.

Yes, thanks to Anonymous @12:35 for noting the appropriateness of 110D:"RT" to today's theme!


MikeM 9:19 PM  

Better late than never. Loved the puzzle, thught the MOTIF was perfect. Actually had "topic" instead of MOTIF. And when I didnt come up with what you bring to a shower with GIC_ I knew something was wrong. Slammed in NAMESAKES, overwrote MOTIF and put this baby to bed. Most enjoyable other than the spat I had w/ the wife "You'd rather do the crossword than talk to me!"... I replied "What do you bring to a shower, GIC_..." which of course was only fuel to the fire. The small things we fight about.... anyhow Cheers

Two Ponies 10:28 PM  

Thanks NDE, I think you got what I was trying to say.
Do got an e to make it doe. Ra got the y to make it a ray of sun.
Couldn't La get an extra letter to make it something to rhyme with?
I'm not clever enough to follow through but how about a w to make it law? Greene, this is your area.

Elaine 11:15 PM  

OOps, so sorry for the error in explaining the "Song of Music" lyrics. It was a new movie in about 1965...and I don't think I've really watched it again. Can't trust to memory anymore! But I see it did not help that much anyway, to explain!

C'mon, Ulrich! Don't be a sissy! Watch the movie! In reward, you can see a Pepe Le Pew cartoon!

I am tired...and the duck soup one is eluding me. Groucho? Pinkas Zuckerman? Itzhak Perlman? (SP?) PLEASE send decoder ring setting...

retired_chemist 12:26 AM  

@ Elaine -

Easy for Efrem Zimbalist (Jr. or Sr., your choice)......

Stan 12:30 AM  

@Ulrich: Stick to your guns and don't ever watch it! Life is too short.

Greene 7:44 AM  

@Two Ponies:

You are correct that "La" receives short shrift in the song "Do Re Mi" but as NDE points out, there are constraints of meter and rhyme to consider. Because of the rhyme scheme of the song, whatever new identity one gives to "la" will necessarily have to rhyme with "do":

Sew, a needle pulling thread
La, a note to follow So
Tea, a drink with jam and bread
That will bring us back to Do.

You see the puzzle faced by the lyricist and Oscar Hammerstein was one of the greatest. I have seen reproductions of his working notes for this lyric and believe me when I tell you he struggled mightily with this problem. I grant you, the final solution may seem a bit pedestrian, but it was the best possible choice given the constraints of meter and rhyme scheme.

I think people often fail to appreciate just how clever this song is. It has grown stale with repetition, true, but in the context of the original stage play the song is a complete delight and serves the triple purposes of:

1. Acting as a charm song as Maria begins to win over her new charges.
2. Serving as an instructive plot song to teach children how to sing in solfeg.
3. Appearing to be an age old folksong, in effect giving the impression that children have been taught with this song for generations.

This is an extremely tall order for any song to fulfill -- to establish mood, a sense of place, further the plot, and entertain an audience. I heartily recommend all critics of musical theatre in general, and The Sound of Music in particular, to give this a try some time. It is supremely difficult.

Whitney 2:50 PM  

Super easy and fun puzzle for me. It was a little confusing following last Sunday's (?) puzzle...So similar! I just want to say that without this blog I never would have been able to parse KAS in Kangaroo and LAA note to follow (I was thinking MEMO or something along those lines....).I never would have gotten MORTSAHL, ERTE or MAXERNST, either. Many thanks from me to you all for helping me improve my skills. I do crosswords for fun (don't we all?!?) but find that I have more fun when I'm really good at what I'm doing :)

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

OK, I've solved the short-shrift for LA problem:

DO, a deer, a female deer
RE, a drop of golden sun
MI, a name I call myself
FA, a long long way to run
SO(L), a needle pulling thread
LA, to put you on death row
TI, a drink with jam and bread
and that brings us back to DO!

Now with the added benefit of keeping the kids in line with a threat of capital punishment!

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