Western writer Wister — TUESDAY, Nov. 10 2009 — Aussie outlaw Kelly / Funny Mort / Flip side of Beatles If I Fell /

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: WOODY ALLEN (61A: WIth 63-Across, name associated with the starts of 17-, 23-, 36-, 45- and 57-Across) => starts of those answers = "TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN"

Word of the Day: NED Kelly (22A: Aussie outlaw _____ Kelly)Edward "Ned" Kelly (June 1854/June 1855 – 11 November 1880) was an Australian bushranger, and, to some, a folk hero for his defiance of the colonial authorities. Kelly was born in Victoria to an Irish convict father, and as a young man he clashed with the police. Following an incident at his home in 1878, police parties searched for him in the bush. After he murdered three policemen, the colony proclaimed Kelly and his gang wanted outlaws. A final violent confrontation with police took place at Glenrowan. Kelly, dressed in home-made plate metal armour and helmet, was captured and sent to jail. He was hanged for murder at Old Melbourne Gaol in 1880. His daring and notoriety made him an iconic figure in Australian history, folk lore, literature, art and film. (wikipedia)


Seems like I should have loved this, with all its crime fictiony elements, but I didn't. The whole "SOPRANOS" angle was more annoying than interesting. There are so many "SOPRANOS" answers (three) that I thought that was the theme. But it wasn't. Only it kind of was, in an oblique way, because "TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN" is crime fiction (albeit of the slapstick variety) and so is "THE SOPRANOS" ... and MONEY LAUNDERING is a crime ... you could even make the case for TAKE PLACE and RUN SCARED (e.g. "Fear that a serious crime was about to TAKE PLACE made him RUN SCARED"). But ... then there's "AND I LOVE HER," which is about as uncrimefictiony as you can get. I mean, you could use the phrase "AND I LOVE HER" in a crime fiction story, but the song ... no way. It's about as unhardboiled as it gets. Creating a title out of the first words of theme phrases is an old trick. This puzzle seems to have attempted to dress the grid up with bonus LURID criminess, but final result is a general messiness and unclear sense of purpose.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Happen (TAKE place)
  • 23A: First cable series to win an Emmy for Outstanding Drama ("THE Sopranos")
  • 36A: Process involving illegal drug profits, say (MONEY laundering)
  • 45A: Flip side of the Beatles' "If I Fell" ("AND I Love Her")
  • 57A: Retreat in fear (RUN scared)

The puzzle has a slightly more open feel than most Tuesdays have, with the stacked nines in the NW and SE and long Downs in the NE and SW keeping things from getting cramped the way they are toward the puzzle's ceneter. RIDE SHARE is an interesting phrase (60A: Carpool, say), and not one I've seen in the puzzle before (despite all its common letters), and WOMEN'S LIB (11D: 1960s movement rejecting traditional gender roles) has a lively (if dated) feel (re-reading Richard Stark's "The Hunter" (1962) and watching "Mad Men" (set in 1960) right now — phrase "WOMEN'S LIBeration" didn't begin to enter common parlance 'til 1964). As for screw-ups, I had ORATE instead of OPINE (25D: Speak one's piece). I would like to OPINE that I'LL DRY and QAS are terrrrrible. Still, there's plenty that's endearing about this puzzle. Bites off more than it can chew, theme / sub-theme-wise, but still manages to be reasonably entertaining. Better an ambitious, loopy mess than a snooze-fest.


  • 19A: Wester writer Wister (Owen) — wrote the very popular "The Virginian" in the early 20th century. Tried to read it once. Failed. Maybe I'll try again some day.
  • 43A: Original N.Y.C. subway line (IRT) — provincial crosswordese; I've grown to like that the puzzle has a certain conservative New York-centrism about it. It's kind of charming.
  • 52A: _____ May Clampett of "The Beverly Hillbillies" (Elly) — Not how I would have spelled her name ("Ellie"). I think I even made this EDDY (!?) before I settled on ELLY.
  • 6D: Potions professor at Hogwarts (Snape) — just added him to the list of "New Crosswordese for the 21st Century" (a hand-written list tacked next to my desk). There are two "SOPRANOS"-related names on that list (actors Robert ILER and EDIE Falco)
  • 7D: Ad agcy. clients (accts.) — I'm up to the part in "Mad Men" where the latest client is Israel. Lots of talk about crossword stalwart "Exodus" by LEON URIS, with its central character of ARI (played by Paul Newman on film).
  • 27D: Domesticated insects (bees) — Threw me. I was imagining someone taking their BEES for a walk, or petting their BEES, or sitting on the couch watching "Mad Men" with their BEES, etc.
  • 54D: Funny Mort (Sahl) — man he is Everywhere. You'd think poor Roald DAHL would get more action.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. I turn 40 this month, but I'm not the only one. Please enjoy this special 40th Birthday Puzzle, courtesy of Eric Berlin (just click "Print" — AcrossLite version will be available later in the day)

How the Neighborhood Has Changed


Brendan Emmett Quigley 7:18 AM  

Thank Christ it was about WOODY ALLEN and not about STEVE MILLER. Cold comfort for sure, but bears sayin'.

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

Easiest monday puzzle ever, oops meant tuesday. Less than one smoke for me. Golfballman

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

Easiest monday puzzle ever, oops meant tuesday. Less than one smoke for me. Golfballman

The Corgi of Mystery 8:20 AM  

I actually quite enjoyed this one, although I always find it a little silly to have theme answers beginning with AND and THE, since there are a gazillion possible phrases to choose from.

Didn't see the problem with I'LL DRY which seems pretty in the language to me...I will agree that QAS should have a little frowny face beside it though.

JannieB 8:24 AM  

Thought it was a fine Tuesday puzzle - very little crappy fill, good cluing. Wasn't distracted by the "crime fictiony" stuff nor the Sopranos entries. They kept me off-balance trying to suss out the theme.

CoolPapaD 8:25 AM  

I LOVED this one - Woody Allen and the Sopranos in the same grid? That's all it takes! If there is a funnier visual than a young Virgil Starkwell playing cello in the marching band, I want to know. Rex's clip was also priceless. I remember watching this with my father thirty years ago, and it still brings tears to my eyes! Don't disagree with me- I have a gub!

jerseyan 8:34 AM  

I blazed through this: I overslept by an hour and still completed it before I left for work. I loved having THESOPRANOS et al. in there ...but I'm from Jersey.

treedweller 8:36 AM  

I started my run at THESOPRANOS looking for a cable network--pays to read the whole clue. Once I finally saw the answer, I cringed, since my boycott of that show continues. Then I saw the tertiary clues and cringed even more, though it turns out even I could come up with EDIE and TONY (once I had TON_).

Then I got to the theme revealer, which was spread out over two answers and referenced four others, and it made my head hurt. Of course, since it's Tuesday, I was able to simply ignore them and use crosses, but it soured me a little on this one. Overall, the remainder wasn't so bad, though. Instead of a convoluted theme and a sub theme, I will simply view it as a really easy themeless and enjoy it as such.

joho 8:44 AM  

Loved the puzzle, loved the WOODY ALLEN clip.

I didn't and don't watch THE SOPRANOS but couldn't miss all the references in the grid. Beyond what Rex said I'd add LAW, I LIED, EGOS, SIC EM, AGONY and SPY. This underlying crime subtheme is cool.

Just when I learn to spell it AMOEBA it morphs into AMEBA.

@Andrea Carla Michaels ... it's time to bring out your photo of you and Woody at Michael's Pub!

Thanks, Alan, fun Tuesday for me!

Newbie 8:49 AM  

Thought this was very easy, as there wasn't a word or reference in the puzzle I didn't know - but I don't time myself. I noticed it was rated Medium, however, and realized that for a "time solver" it probably took a few more minutes, as in some cases there was a need to change direction to get a few more letters to be sure of what answer was being sought. Am I correct on this?

Silvio 9:13 AM  

Tony Sirico aka Paulie Walnuts is frequently cast as a bit player in Woody Allen movies.

James Gandolfini describes himself as "a 260-pound Woody Allen."

Meg 9:19 AM  

I'm sure I'll feel stupid, but I don't get QAS. Someone please explain!

The thing I liked about this puzzle was that the theme did not become apparent after solving the first 2 long answers. I hate that.

I'm on vacation starting today. I took my puzzle to Starbuck's and sat in a big green chair. Lovely.

Meg 9:24 AM  

Never mind. Q as in queen. Geez.

Glitch 9:25 AM  


I'd say you were correct. Since the "ratings" are generally based on time rather than content, it only takes a few seconds "lost" in keyboard navigation to "bump up the rating".

Another phenomenon I find amusing is an exceptionally easy (or hard) puzzle is often flagged in the comments as being offered "on the wrong day".

As for me, being a non-speed paper solver from way back, I had a good time with this one, in both senses.


PS: @Meg --- That's "Q AS in Queen"

Van55 9:34 AM  

Since when must a crossword puzzle have to have a "sense of purpose" beyond simply challenging and amusing

This one challenged (a tad) and amused. Solid Tuesday entry.

another Jersey girl 9:38 AM  

Love THESOPRANOS! fun puzzle.

william e emba 9:40 AM  

The early WOODY ALLEN always makes me smile.

But OWEN Wister made me smile even more. No, not because I've read any of his books. Unlike Rex, I haven't even put one of his books in my hands. It's simply personal. Owen Wister was part of the Philadelphia Wister/Wistar family, and many years ago I used to work at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia.

The original institute was founded by General Isaac Wistar, in honor of the many esteemed doctors in the family. The general himself had a bullet in his arm from the Civil War. He donated the arm to science, and indeed, its skeleton was hanging in the Institute's entry foyer back when I worked there--I assume it's still there.

About 10 blocks down the road from the Wistar Institute is some Civil War historical society. They decided to publish a book of all the burial sites and the like for every Civil War general. At some point they learned that General Wistar's remains were in two locations, and paid us a visit. Well, at least we all learned what that arm hanging on the wall was there for!

dk 9:45 AM  

More TV puzzles, drat!

Chuckled over WOODY ALLEN as I am envisioning Andrea's post.

Still no TV in the dk household, but I have been told that Netflix works on a MAC with movies, et. al. on demand. Maybe they have Admen and old Soprano shows?

My boomer heart soared as I filled ANDILOVEHER. I remember pining for Denise M. (sat in front of me in world history). I gave her this 45 RPM for Valentines Day. She looked at me funny and said a quick: Thanks. I was devastated. 25 years later she told me she had a crush on me and thought I was just jerking her around. Sigh.... I can still see the afternoon sun in her long red hair.

Alan, I liked this one. Thank you.

@meg, make sure you tell Rex you are doing your puzzle in pen at Starbucks. Mikey really likes that! Maybe you can even get a rise out of that fat f#ck (smiley face sopranos reference) Evil Doug?

Off to Whack-a-Mole.

Elaine 9:57 AM  

I confidently filled in STEVE ALLEN (then quickly saw that it had to be WOODY.)
Not much to slow one down with this puzzle, but here's a question: I thought "to SHAG a fly" was to HIT it, not catch it. Anyone with some baseball info out there?

Trying not to gloat about the 40th birthday... (Old People are given to this, alas.)

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

loved this puzzle. Too bad Rex hates puzzles. Find a new hobby.

Chorister 10:08 AM  

@Elaine - to shag a fly is to catch the ball. When my friend and I went through our tennis phase we were really awful - kept catching the ball on the rim of the racket and sending them into the stratosphere - so we always took her 4 year old along to shag the balls. Which of course meant he gathered them up for us, because nobody of any age could have caught them - they would end up 3 courts away.

slypett 10:13 AM  

Well, it was Tuesday tough. (Ahem.)

I'm not a Beatles fan, but I got ANDILOVEHER out of the air.

I agree that QAS is limp--dorkiness².

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Don't expect much out of a Tuesday puzzle and this one still managed to disappoint.

SPH???? Somebody ought to take away this guy's pencil. Or maybe the NYT ought to find a new editor.


retired_chemist 10:29 AM  

OK puzzle. Theme was pointless for me. What treedweller said about it.

Sandy 10:33 AM  

I am so so sick of the "rex hates puzzles" comments. Rex loves puzzles. That's why he holds them to such high standards.

When you call me that, smile 10:34 AM  


Therefore Trampas spoke. "Your bet, you son-of-a--."

The Virginian's pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: "When you call me that, SMILE." And he looked at Trampas across the table.

ArtLvr 10:34 AM  

QAS gave me a laugh, as I got it through crosses and then looked at the clue... Not into Sopranos, but enjoyed SATURN and its MOON, Titan, because of the recent science program revealing how the rings are held in orbit by gravity, miles across but so thin that they disappear if viewed on edge. It was quite a mystery to early astronomers!


gjelizabeth 10:40 AM  

Greatly enjoyed the puzzle but would like an explanation of 29A SPH. Unlike Anonymous @ 10:27 I don't have an opinion about the word; I just don't understand how it relates to the clue.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

@pednsg- I hear ya, bro.

Enjoyed this a lot, especially money laundering. What a great answer.
A few years ago on Halloween, my wife wore a sweatshirt that had Monopoly affixed to it. We cut the bottom out of a laundry basket and tied two pieces of elastic across the top, like suspenders, so she could wear it over the sweatshirt. Her costume-- laundered money.

retired_chemist 10:49 AM  

@ gjelizabeth -

globe = SPHere.

hazel 10:56 AM  

To me, this puzzle was ALL SOPRANOS - AGONY, MONEYLAUNDERING, BAR (the badabing!), LURID, RUNSCARED (too many to mention), TONY & EDIE, ILIED (too many to mention, but the robert iler character works well), LAW & SPY (seasons of wiretapping), SHAGS (other meaning, tmtm), BOAs, EGOS.....

And the, there was a lot of random phrases, which struck me as quirky in their straighforwardness - not WOODYALLEN quirky, but rather just a ton of straightforward phrases, right out of an office memo (INADVANCE, INORDERTO, ACCTS, TAKEPLACE, RDA?)

So I liked the puzzle, but didn't love it - it was missing a WOW factor. It needed more of a Woody vibe to go with that Sopranos vibe.

Did like WOMENSLIB, though.

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

I really enjoyed this fine Tuesday puzzle. Tuesday always seems to be the hardest day to meet expectations.
I love Woody Allen, the Beatles, and the Sopranos so this was a good day for me. Hey, I even love Beverly Hillbillies and Andy Griffith!
Just last week I picked up the first Harry Potter book to see why it is so popular (and to give me answers like Snape). I had such fun with it I think I will keep going and finish the series. It's a nice break from some of the dark and heavy material I'm usually drawn to.

MikeM 11:03 AM  

Loved the SOPRANOS subtheme. More of a Monday for me, just went straight through no stumpers.

Was at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC this past weekend and they had an exhibit of the planets. I had my kids memorize the moons of Saturn as they "were always in the crossword puzzle..."; they just kind of rolled their eyes.

gjelizabeth 11:11 AM  

@Retired Chemist: Thanks! I think the shoe would have taken waaay long to drop. My mind was running in Planet Earth tracks, not shapes.

Alice in SF 11:13 AM  

Geez, Rex, you're younger than my two sons. Our older son fell into a terminal snit when he turned 50 this past October and realized he was older than the POTUS.

I've never seen The Sopranos or the Simpsons or read the Harry Potter books. I should make myself a list of the main characters and post them next to my computer a la Rex.

Ulrich 12:01 PM  

@Sandy: DFTT.

Of course, that type of remark is idiotic--it's like someone telling me that I hate architecture when I pronounce a Philip Johnson skyscraper a lousy building.

BTW I had no problems with this puzzle...

PuzzleGirl 12:05 PM  

Surprised at the Medium rating. This was my faster Tuesday ever. I paid exactly zero attention to the theme though.

Also, it's not that Rex hates puzzles. It's just that he got up on the wrong side of the bed today. :-)

Rex Parker 12:13 PM  

Nope, I really do hate puzzles.

Man, that felt good to say.

As sanfranman and others have pointed out, rating difficulty on early week puzzles is really hard to do most of the time bec. the diff. betw. slow and fast is no more than 60 seconds. Today I was high 3's, and I couldn't remember if that was normal or what. So I went with "Medium." It's probably easier than most, in retrospect. Doesn't really matter how "accurate" I am, as others invariably chime in when they feel differently.


P.S. young woman behind counter at campus cafe: "Someone told me you're Rex Morrison! Is that true?"

PlantieBea 12:18 PM  

Very easy but enjoyable solve. Vintage Beatles, Woody Allen, The Sopranos, Ride Sharing, Women's Lib...much to like. I wasn't wild about the way the theme was put together with the first words, but overall, I thought this was not bad for a Tuesday.

Umm...Rex Morrison? Just looked him up and he is an "adult movie" actor, no photo posted.

Doc John 12:21 PM  

I thought this one was on the easy side, too. I also was under the impression that the shagger was the hitter and not the catcher- the things we learn doing crosswords!
As for Ned Kelly, I learned who he was because of my movie loving husband who showed me a movie about Mr. Kelly starring the great Heath Ledger called, simply enough, Ned Kelly. Definitely worth a look, both as entertainment and education.
Finally, James Gandolfini and I have the exact same birthday! And the same initials, too, now that I think about it (well, I don't know his middle name).

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Happy 234th birthday to all you Marines out there. Golfballman

mac 1:00 PM  

Perfectly fine Tuesday to me. I haven't seen more than two or three parts of the Sopranos, but Edie is definitely crosswordese.

I had ants for bees for a while, and later bra for 27A, thinking some cars have bras to protect them...

QAS is fine with me, but the sph wasn't very pretty. Really enjoyed the clip!!

chefwen 1:33 PM  

Fun, easy puzzle for me, no write overs, no corrections, just plowed right through it.

Watched the Sopranos once for about 10 minutes, I'm no prude and I know all those words, but do I really have to listen to them on TV? I think not, so I also boycotted the show. Not too crazy about Woody Allen either, I think he's about half a bubble off.

archaeoprof 1:34 PM  

All the VIBES on this one were good. Answers like LEROY Brown and ANDILOVEHER sure woke up some old memories.

Sfingi 2:02 PM  

@Corgi - Totally agree.

@Doc. - James J. Gandolfini.

@Meg - I hate those "C as in crap" type clues. Really lame.

@Alice - Just can't get myself to read the hairy potters. There must be a "can." CliffNotes, SparkNotes?

@Ulrich - Did you ever check out the 2 story Phillip Johnson in Utica? It's the main museum of the Munson Williams Proctor Institute. I've never grown tired of it, though it's modern. Form fits function.

@Emba - never heard of Wister, but your write-up makes me want to add his stories to my OCD SS collection. Seems he knew my cuz, Teddy. Many Civil Warriors are buried in Woodlawn, The Bronx.

@pednsg - What's a "gub"? (What does pednsg mean?)

@JannieB What is "suss out"?

@Treedweller - Why are you boycotting the Sopranos? Or is it cable? I'm wid da guys from Joisy.

@Elaine - We have 2 fine war statues facing each other on our "Parkway." One represents the Revolution, and is Kosciusko standing proud and tall with flowing cape. My son calls him, "The Pitcher." Across is a depressed, bedraggled, bent-over fellow representing WWI. My son calls him "The Catcher." He had to explain it to me, both in terms of how proud/not we were of each war, and the sexual thing.

My husband still mourns Jim Croce.

slypett 2:22 PM  

Ulrich: A rare voice raised against Philip Johnson! I, too, dislike his work. I find it bombastic at best and at worst reminiscent of the spirit of Third Reich architecture--glory to the crushing of the human spirit.

Ulrich 2:34 PM  

@Sfingi: Johnson did good stuff IMO when he designed in the modernist idiom, following in the footsteps of Mies, for whom he worked for a while. When he became a post-modernist, everything went downhill, especially in his postmodern skyscrapers, each one dressed up in a different historical style--what an asinine idea--which only goes to show how much I hate architecture!!!

@darkman: Did you know he was an outspoken fascist in the 30s? He had an audience with Goebbels, which he (Goebbels') mentions in his diaries. After the war, Johnson changed his orientation (political, that is)--clearly, it would not be conducive to getting commissions in the US

Oh, and I hate wine too: last night, I declared a bottle undrinkable!

Phil 2:49 PM  

I had this hugely insightful analogy illustrating why people should stop ragging on Rex for not liking half of the puzzles he reviews. I came off as such a douche bag.
Just thought I should share that.

George NYC 3:02 PM  

@Glitch: What's going on in that avatar? Did someone steal your BlackBerry?

@Sandy: I feel I'm not getting my daily recommended serving of fruit anymore...

CoolPapaD 3:08 PM  

@Sfingi - Check out the Woody Allen that clip Rex embedded. Virgil (Allen) tries to rob a bank, but the teller can't read the hold-up note..... "I have a gub.."

sanfranman59 3:12 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 7:37, 8:36, 0.89, 21%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:07, 4:25, 0.93, 35%, Easy-Medium

JannieB 3:23 PM  

@sfingii - suss out = discern, figure out, solve,realize, grasp (as a concept)

Charles Bogle 3:28 PM  

Thanks @retiredchemist for explaining SPH. Now, I have to say I never considered "Sphere" could be shortened...so, when I put SNAGS instead of SHAGS (which fits the clue) at 26D, SPN, I rationaized, could be short for SPAN, well, SPN works for me...other than that, I loved the puzzle, love the early Woody Allen movie; very little if any crummy fill; a solid and pleasurable, and nicely-challenging for Tuesday, puzzle!

william e emba 3:39 PM  

If you want more information, the Wistar Institute once published "The Autobiography of General Isaac J Wister", 1827-1905. Unlike the OWEN books, that's one I actually have a copy of.

Check out the clip of Woody Allen? Bah, check out the whole movie! It's a classic.

OK, I give up. I do not get BEQ's relief that it wasn't "Steve Miller". Wikipedia reveals about 8 Steve Millers to choose from. I'm guessing it's the musical one, and he has a song title that is not meant for breakfast.

Loose Dirt Laura Miller 4:08 PM  

The Sopranos appears to be a television show about the mob instead of about a choir. Given that and the money references in the puzzle, I assumed BEQ was referring to the Steve Miller who was a former city councilman in Las Vegas and who now writes for American Mafia Magazine!!


Clark 4:19 PM  

@Alice, @Sfingi -- The Harry Potter books are a really good read.

@Ulrich -- I love the AT&T building. I know I shouldn’t. I can tell you why it shouldn’t work, why it should be ridiculous and hideous etc. I just like it. But that doesn’t mean I like architecture.

For some reason I threw down 'womens lit' thinking as I did that it didn't quite fit the clue. At the end I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how 'vites' could be 'feelings, informally.' Those damn kids and their new words. Checked urban dictionary, etc. etc. I eventually figured it out.

Orange 4:41 PM  

I didn't care for this puzzle either. For the record, I have been hating crosswords for a lot longer than Rex. He's a relative neophyte at this puzzle-hating business. Yes, he can bring the vitriol like nobody's business, but sometimes a little vitriol is called for to keep the editors on their toes.

treedweller 4:41 PM  

I was trying to stay off the soapbox, but, since you asked, I just don't like the glorification of mobsters. Never really liked "The Godfather" either.

I also don't get any premium cable channels, but that's no excuse in the age of netflix.

Ulrich 4:52 PM  

@orange: I love it. We now seem to have a contest going to see who hates xword puzzles the longest or the mostest--too bad, I can't compete. On the upside: When it comes to hating architecture, I'll be tough to beat...

PIX 5:41 PM  

A tribute to Woody Allen in a fun puzzle...what's not to like?

@Alice in SF...I think you have incredible courage when you admit that "I've never seen The Sopranos or the Simpsons or read the Harry Potter books"...I've had some limited exposure to these and in spite of what people will tell you, you have not missed much...popularity (including number of times mentioned in the NY Times puzzles) should not be confused with substance...again, i applaud your courage.

Blackhawk 5:49 PM  

Great puzzle. Easy, breezy but had a nice kick at the end w/ the "reveal" on Woody Allen, one of the greatest creative geniuses of the past 100 years. Can't ask for a better Tuesday than this, as it was straightforward, leveraged contemporary culture in the fill, had a lively tone, and was punctuated with a surprise. The week is off to a great start.

Doc John 5:50 PM  

@sfingl- thanks, missed it by one letter! (K)

Two Ponies 6:20 PM  

@ william e. emba,
Steve Miller had a stupid song of the same name as the theme movie. You're not missing anything.
I hate puzzles so much that I visit this blog at least twice a day to remind me.

Olaf XIV 6:51 PM  

@Two Ponies
"Steve Miller had a stupid song" is an Olaf!

Two Ponies 6:51 PM  

P.S. Thanks for the extra puzzle Rex!
It was fun and took a bit to catch the theme but once I did I had to smile.

Anonymous 6:54 PM  

I need a bumper sticker that says "A bad day doing crosswords is still better than a great day at work!"

edith b 7:50 PM  

Rex took a beating a while ago for saying he was not interested in Yeats' poetry but really all he did was point out how idiosyncratic taste in literature can be. I am a female with a deep interest in both war history and war fiction and no interest at all in fantasy like Tolkien and Rowling. In my 20s I also took a beating from my colleagues because I cared more for Norman Mailer than Sara Teasdale.

I dislike the Simpsons, for instance, but I don't berate others for their interest in them.

I really enjoy this group of people for the wide and varied interests of the commenters. I learn something nearly everyday on this blog.

mexgirl 8:04 PM  

Thanks for the Woody Allen clip!
And the extra puzzle (still working on that one......)

I thought this puzzle was refreshing. Lots of new things.

Glitch 8:14 PM  


Rex Morrison, when I first read it, flashed Rex HARRISON, you know, "Dr. Dolittle", "Talk To The Animals".

Realized my error, but still like my first thought :)

@George in NYC Re: Avitar

It's a Public Service Announcement, subject to change without notice.

@edith b

Nicely put.


Robin 9:01 PM  

@Sandy: Ditto

@Anon 10:07 Find a new blog to pester.

Enjoyed the puzzle, esp. "and i love her"

Elaine 9:02 PM  

Rex: I loved the link and the Sesame Street puzzle. I saw it from about 1984 til...well, 1987 or so. I really missed it when my children "outgrew" it. It had something for everyone! and I can hardly believe it's 40 years old. That said, I still regard 40 as within the bounds of "whippersnapperhood."

Oh, and my apologies (belated, but I don't always read the comments in a timely way) for erroneously putting words in your (?) fingertips. You did NOT say "definition." My bad? Yes! I am just mad I could not get CRATE myself. Oh, and in revenge, my crate would not start the next day! Call off the dogs!

Your fan,
E in AR

Stan 9:10 PM  

Gawd, do I hate the ocean. Pisses me off on an almost daily basis. Also hate rock music (but not as much as Quigley, who dislikes Steve Miller, so he must really, really hate it!)

I hate these things more than Ulrich hates architecture, Chefbea hates beets, Treedweller hates growing things, Greene hates the theater, or Glitch hates cats. And of course I hate word puzzles. That's why I read Rex.

Glitch 9:32 PM  


... you got us pegged.


jeff in chicago 9:40 PM  

I hate the Marx Brothers.

The puzzle? Didn't love it. Didn't hate it.

michael 9:46 PM  

Liked the puzzle -- for whatever reason I enjoyed it more than most Tuesdays. But I missed a letter -- confidently writing in snags [flies] and wondering what "spn" was...

Elaine 9:56 PM  


I got SNAGged, too! darn it.
SHAg, SNag, what's the diff?
Our way made more sense!
but I stand corrected, thnx to Chorister.

Sfingi 10:14 PM  

Remember Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan?
It sounds strange to say, but I'm glad I read it before I swore off SciFi - Fantasy.
@Clark - Maybe I'll make an exception and take a bite of HarryPotter.

The fellow who killed 10 people in VA/MD was executed an hour ago.

The roll call at Ft. Hood today was very moving.

@pednsg - I watched it, sust didn't catch on. I love his early stuff, especially Sleeper. Everything came true! Kinda.

@JannieB - I don't think I'll pick that one up. Whither came it? In German, suss (granted, with an umlaut) means sweet, so I can't get past that.

@Ulrich - Did not know PJohnson was a Nasty. I once programmed for a company called Mohawk Data Sciences and refused to do a fix for Krupp because they were Nasties. When we were all laid off, a fellow worker remembered me as refusing because Krupp were "Krauts."

@Treedweller - if you're married to a Sicilian, he either gets together with family to watch it, or he's one if those Sicilians who say, "There's no Mafia, and all my enemies are in it." Goes along with, "There's no God and Mary is His mother." So we take part in analyzing it.

Would love to see a parallel universe where Mrs. Soprano takes up with Silvio "from the other side."(I still love you, Silvio.)

Stan 10:24 PM  

@Glitch: Thnx

sanfranman59 10:27 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 6:19, 6:55, 0.91, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:40, 8:36, 0.89, 22%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:41, 0.91, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:05, 4:25, 0.92, 29%, Easy-Medium

andrea spy michaels 12:27 AM  

(insert Woody Allen stories and pictures here...didn't know his middle name was SPY)
(insert how mean Mort Sahl is here)
(insert how crazy I am about Early Beatles)
(insert comment about how much I like Alan Arbesfeld puzzles in general, i always look forward to his kooky craziness, his themes within themes wrapped inenigmas.
AA really makes me smile...SPH not withstanding)

Shoot, I think I've said everything I've ever wanted to say on this blog.
Except: Happy 40th Rex!!!!!!!!!!

ps Ask SNAPE how HE would clue SHAGS.

crackup 1:26 AM  

...and A Happy Birthday to Sesame Street!

william e emba 12:44 PM  

Rex hates crossword puzzles? Such talk reminds me of the incredibly funny T Coraghessan Boyle short story "Sorry Fugu". The main character is a chef who is terrified when he learns he is up for review from the world's meanest food critic. He comes up with an ingenious plan. It turns out she more or less hates all food equally.

Paul 9:30 AM  

Once again, a breeze. Feels like my learning curve is steep, but I'll be shot down again later. Spending way more time reading comments.

Nullifidian 11:38 AM  

In from syndication-land

Being no Woody Allen fan, though I liked Crimes and Misdemeanors, Hannah and Her Sisters and The Front, I had never heard of Take the Money and Run. I solved this one as a themeless.

I still don't get 53A's "QAS the queen", but I was able to get it through crosses.

What's with not noting in the clue that AMEBA is an alternate spelling?

Perhaps it was a function of trying to solve the puzzle at 6 a.m. without my morning tea, but I found it slightly more difficult than an ordinary Tuesday. Still, my only write over was 27A's "Drag show accessory". I wrote in WIG, for no better reason than the fact that it was three letters long, but BOA emerged easily from the crosses.

Because of the long across answers in the NW and SE, I started solving in the NE and moved diagonally to the SW, then solved the central W and E areas, and finally tackled the NW and SE corners.

Singer 12:02 PM  

Okay, except for SPH this was a fun puzzle. Q AS in Queen was Tuesday obvious, so it isn't all that lame.

Admit to bra before BOA. Also tried clods before CAKED.

Waxy in Montreal 4:57 PM  

Apparently as per many, this was an easy Tuesday for me, except for BRA and SPN. Actually, IMHO snagging a fly ball better describes catching it than shagging it which is more about the act of chasing the fly - may or may not thereafter be caught. Could it just be that A.A. (or W.S.) just wanted to stay well clear of an alternative clueing for SHAGS?

Singer 6:10 PM  

"Shagging (baseball)

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Shagging describes the act of catching fly balls in the outfield when not involved in actual baseball games. Pitchers may do this during batting practice before games. In the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby, children are recruited as shaggers in order to field balls that do not go out as a home run. Also, during batting practice anywhere, "shagging balls" describes the act of catching and gathering up balls that are thrown back to the pitching area, usually by a player standing near the pitcher."

During baseball practice, coaches will hit fungo, i.e. hit fly balls to fielders to practice catching them (shagging flies). The definition includes retrieving them and throwing them back, but generally is to be taken as actually catching them.

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