Nut with cupule / THU 4-15-10 / Howdah occupant maybe / Sneaker symbol / Unit proposed by Leucippus / Crop farmer of Genesis

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley & Joon Pahk

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: -ER to -A — familiar names / phrases with "ER"-ending words are reimagined as wacky names / phrases with "A"-ending words

Word of the Day: Taiga (17A: Areas in northern forests? => TAIGA WOODS) —

Taiga (pronounced /ˈtaɪɡə/, Russian: тайга́; from Turkic or Mongolian) is a biome characterized by coniferous forests. Covering most of the inlands Canada, Alaska, Sweden, Finland, inland Norway, the Scottish Highlands and Russia (especially Siberia), as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States (northern Minnesota, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, northern Wisconsin, Upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine), northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia, and northern Japan (Hokkaidō), the taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not much time this a.m. So, let's see. I really liked this puzzle, despite doing it in a daze at 5:30 a.m. Because of said daze, I'm not exactly sure how tough it was, but it felt toughish. If I had known what TAIGA was, perhaps it would have felt less so. Also, if I'd spelled RADAMES (40A: "Celeste Aida" singer) properly, instead of going for RAMADES, things might have moved along more quickly. At any rate, all the theme answers except the central one (blah) are snappy and even funny. And I'm always happy to end on Batman, so thumbs up.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Areas in northern forests? (TAIGA WOODS) — from "Tiger Woods," who frequently sports a SWOOSH (42D: Sneaker symbol)
  • 23A: Chatty bird alliance? (MYNAH LEAGUE) — from "minor league"
  • 35A: Time when laboratories came into vogue? (EXPERIMENTAL ERA) — from "experimental error"
  • 47A: Witch's hamper? (WICCA BASKET) — from "wicker basket"
  • 56A: Heavenly food for the Duke? (WAYNE MANNA) — from "Wayne Manor" (as in "Bruce Wayne," as in "Batman"); this took me a bit, as I was thinking, "OK, a duke lives in a manor ..." But it's "THE Duke," i.e. John Wayne.
Other highlights:

  • Amos had a last name? —> JONES (21A: Amos of "Amos 'n' Andy"). Rather than evoke the era of blackface, I'd have gone in, say, this direction:

[Sharon JONES and the Dap Kings]
  • Erased "J" in JONES because I couldn't make sense of 21D: Beetle's cousin? and figured no beetle started with "J" ... I was right. Not a beetle. A car related to the (Volkswagen) Beetle, i.e. JETTA
  • Wanted CASING at 20A: Digging further, say (NOSIER), then got CASED at 48D: Scoped out.
  • SW was by far the easiest part of the puzzle. Never saw any of the Acrosses except OPRAH (52A: Co-producer of the film "Precious"). Got all of it from (easy) Downs.
  • Learned RADAMES (not RAMADES, which I just now mistakenly typed again...) from xwords. Same is true for HEINE (25D: Poet whose works were set to music by Schumann Strauss and Brahms) and AVOCET (53A: Wading bird with an upcurved bill) — thank god for experience.

  • 22A: ISP with butterfly logo (MSN) — ISP = Internet Service Provider / MSN = (originally) "The Microsoft NetWork"
  • 31A: Capital on the Dnieper (KIEV) — in (the) Ukraine. "Dnieper" is one of those great odd-consonant-starting European cities, Like BRNO and GDANSK.
  • 55A: R&B singer Shuggie ___ (OTIS) — not ringing a bell. Let's listen:

  • 60A: Beverage with a lizard logo (SOBE) — history says: many of you did not know this. Got searched / googled like crazy last time it appeared as a clue.
  • 3D: One who labors for labor's sake? (UNION REP) — excellent clue; that whole NW is pretty sweet, actually.
  • 6D: Nut with a cupule (ACORN) — remembered this feature from some earlier discussion we had about the word "cupule"
  • 36D: Howdah occupant, maybe (RAJAH) — completely forgot what a "howdah" was ... it's the ornamental compartment in which one might ride an elephant.
  • 46D: Unit proposed by Leucippus (ATOM) — many people know that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's original name was Lew Alcindor, but very few know that the Lew was short for "Leucippus" ... or that Kareem was an important child scientist.
  • 54D: Crop farmer of Genesis (CAIN) — first thought: "Oh come on, didn't they all farm crops!" But then I remembered the different offerings of CAIN and Abel. Reread GENESIS recently, which helped.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Brendan Emmett Quigley 7:25 AM  

Just sayin', our submitted clue for JONES was {"Mad Men" actress January}.

ArtLvr 7:32 AM  

Ah Rex, you sense of humor always wakes me up! I'm definitely not looking up Alcindor to find out what his first name came from, but I do think the Dnieper is a river on which KIEV is located...

I was pleasantly surprised to finish this BEQ opus relatively easily, since his crossword vocabulary ranges for beyond mine in many directions -- just yesterday his puzzle elsewhere was full of cars I don't know! But here we had TAIGA WOODS and WICCA BASKET and MYNAH LEAGUE: those made the day for me!


ArtLvr 7:36 AM  

p.s. -- JETTA did come to me, even though I wouldn't have been able to tell you it's a car...


Leslie 7:42 AM  

WAYNE MANNA--definitely one of my favorite crossword answers ever.

r.alphbunker 7:55 AM  

Seemed a little tame for a BEQ. But perhaps that was because I did it right after finishing his "No Kidding" puzzle.

r.alphbunker 7:56 AM  

Does anybody know if Across Lite works on a IPad?

OldCarFudd 8:04 AM  

Enjoyed all the theme answers except EXPERIMENTALERA, which was lame for a 15er. What the hell is SOBE?

No time today. Gotta go fire a car restorer who's been padding my bills. Bound to be traumatic.

Dough 8:07 AM  

I liked the puzzle. Surprised at how many classical refs there were, as BEQ usually populates his grid with things I just don't know (like January Jones :)

joho 8:15 AM  

@Brendan Emmett Quigley ... ooh, I love the clue January for JONES! When I finished this puzzle I couldn't believe that you, of all people, left this a "Q" short of a pangram!

This was a really fun Thursday for me. Loved WICCABASKET and SWOOSH.

Thank you Brendan and Joon!

jesser 8:17 AM  

I have the Major Man Crush on BEQ, so I knew I'd be happy with this one. I was right.

SWOOSH, SCRIBE, NEWT, AVOCET, ZOO, O-RINGS. It just kept being fun. I was TRANSFIXed throughout.

And the theme answers were slap-my-leg funny, even at this unGodly hour of the day.

Only write-over was at 22D where I initally entered ModE, before the AFROS disabused me of that error. I somehow like the idea of being disabused by AFROS.

Loved it.

I am scheduled for a 90-minute massage later today. That's the good stuff, right there!

Ounsa! (Exactly how much prevention is worth a pounda cure) -- jesser

Parshutr 8:40 AM  

Toughish, but lots o' fun! Now I know where the Avocet missile gets its name.
Guessed ROUE instead of STUD, but 1d had to be SAT...
Do UNIONREPs do any actual labor? I'm just askin'

Elaine 8:54 AM  

Your UNION REP is usually there working right alongside you, just willing to put in some extra time to protect workers' rights and safety. Don't fall for the propaganda!

Hand up for MODE.

The NW fell nicely for me, but the SW, with two logos, an R&B singer, and an error (RTS instead of STS) gave me fits. Add not knowing JENI and ATTEM_S for the Ancient Wonder, and I required 3 doses of Auntie Google--SOBE (Rex was right); OTIS, and ARTEMIS. D'oh! A Finish with a Fail.
At least I knew Dnieper was a river (and I knew KIEV--you know, the place with the great gates.)
Congrats to all who did better than I did!

David L 9:13 AM  

First theme answer I got was EXPERIMENTALERA, which baffled me because (being a Brit) I pronounce ERA to rhyme with Mark O'Meara but ERROR to rhyme with terror. So I didn't understand this until I saw Rex's explanation.

But a nice puzzle.

catim: two or more cats, in Hebrew?

dk 9:15 AM  

Had bside instead of SIDEB and Homer for HEINE for some early time dragging fill. Also was convinced Rocky (as in Nelson R.) was the 3 term NY Gov.

WICCABASKET would be how we pronounce it in Maine so I don't see what is so cute about that :)

Lived in Pasadena/Altadena for a few years and used to drive by WAYNEMANNA (from the TV Batman Show) several times a week. Always prompted a smile.

BEQ and Joon, thanks for a fun time this AM.

*** (3 Stars)

@oldcarfudd, tell them you said tuck and roll not tuck it to me.

Zeke 9:22 AM  

Man, I couldn't see how ERA fit. My imaginings of a Boston accent just wouldn't go there, still doesn't frankly. Then in the SE, I had WAYNE & MANNA in mind, but because each of the other themes started with the reformed words (I still hadn't acceeded to EXPERMINENTALERA, assuming it had to be a reveal), and thinking that this entry had to follow the same structure it took way too long.
This one didn't make it for me.

Shuggie OTIS was a brilliant guitar prodigy - his sessions with Al Kooper when he was 15 were great. Apparently he fell the way of many a child prodigy.

PurpleGuy 9:33 AM  

The support from this community is truly a treasure that I cherish. Thank you all.
Thank you BEQ for a puzzle that made my dad and me laugh right to the end. What a wonderful way to go out. I thank you from my heart.
Knowing the support I have with you friends and family has made this time easier .

Have a wonderful day. Enjoy it to the fullest.
One last thing- I liked the shout out at 54D. My last name is CAIN !!


One of the "suits" 10:08 AM  

@Elaine @parshutr

Never confuse the Shop Steward (a Union Rep) working along side you, with the UNION REP employed by your union.

Martin 10:15 AM  

"Jetta" is named for the jet stream. For a while, Volkswagen models were named for winds or currents. Scirocco, Golf and Passat (tradewind) are other examples. In Europe, the Jetta has at times been named Bora or Vento, two more wind-derived names.

Rex Parker 10:35 AM  

I'd like to thank the constructors for leaving the grid short of a pangram. No sense screwing with a good grid just to get your precious "Q." Nice restraint.


Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

Except for the middle theme answer I really enjoyed this one.
I had a couple of slow moments such as reading scoped as scooped which gave me cored until Oprah sraightened that out.
Also the little cluster of names in the center took a bit to sort out but lots of fun after I was done.
@ Rex, You might be dazed but still funny this morning.
I liked the mini zoo theme with newt, kanga, mynah, tiger, and avocet.
Adm. Halsey showed up again but this time clued the way I remembered him last week.

@ PurpleGuy, You sound well today but I'm not sure I'm reading between the lines properly.

retired_chemist 11:01 AM  

Lovely puzzle, from a collaboration of two splendid constructors. I didn't get the theme until I had both EXPERIMENTAL ERA and WAYNE MANNA. Realized then that our constructors are both from Boston and, just WOW. I laughed out loud.

@Rex - RAMADES must be how the Inn group spells it. :-)

Last fill was the J. I had BONES, wondering if Amos/Andy had some kind of a vaudeville/minstrel show origin. No. Stared at BEETLE and BETTA for a while until the light dawned.

1A was GENT, then LORD before crosses set me right. JENI and SOBE were new to me. AMIGO instead of AMIGA was no problem since I kept an open mind about it - ARAL was my only option @ 39D, which cinched it.

Slapped down OPRAH and KIEV with no crosses, AVOCET with just the V and one other letter, and didn't know up front whether any was right.

Wanted a GINGRICH @ 65A but couldn't make it fit.....

Purple guy, I hope your dad got a kick out of seeing his surname in his last puzzle, as you did. It sounds like all was peaceful and that's great. We are all thinking of you and your family.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:06 AM  

Oops! Had AMIGO instead of AMIGA, and didn't realize it was wrong until I read retired_chemist's comment. One of the hazards of doing the puzzle pen on paper.

Count me among those who felt ERA didn't quite fit the theme - one of those regional pronunciation things.

Shamik 11:11 AM  

@Purple Guy: Also new to your sad news. You're in my thoughts and prayers. As a hospice nurse, if you need any extra support, give me a shout out at And, I believe I'm local (at least for the next 2 days).

Why couldn't this have been puzzle 5?!?!?!? Have to rate this one an easy-medium with a leaning toward the easy side with a finish at 7:41. It made me smile and had no ton of goofy fill.

Also had MODE for MAKE at first and also a "L" for LAT/LON instead of STS. My GPS for geocaching is so old school, there is no mapping feature. No STS.

2-3 days 'til north to Alaska.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Fun Thursday for me, as smooth as peanut butta.
Some missteps- had HESSE for Heine, then realized I was a century off. Like @Parshutr, started with ROUE, but quigley changed it. Wanted a Batman clue for WAYNE MANNA, and took a while to remember whether Rich Jeni was with a G or not. All in all though, a nice Thursday experience.

Stan 11:11 AM  

DNF but thoroughly enjoyed trying. Learned TAIGA today--how can I have not heard of "the world's largest terrestrial biome"?

Shout-out to my old union: The Newspaper Guild.

Shamik 11:12 AM  

And also had AIMEE for AMIGA.

chefbea 11:22 AM  

Great puzzle but hand up for not liking experimental era. I knew Sobe - a company formed by two guys who live in Darien Ct. Must admit I have never tasted any of their products.

Tinbeni 11:24 AM  

AVOCET, SOBE and TAIGA, all learned from crosswords and remembered today.
How the hell does that happen?

5 great themes, the top and bottom two are so good I'm giving EXPERIMENTAL ERA a thumbs up!

RIGHT NOW I have a happy DAZED grin on my face.

I do the LAT before the NYT (yeah, I start on SIDE B) and I cannot remember a day with two such exceptional puzzles.

BEQ & Joon, you made this day less taxing.

jae 11:24 AM  

I too liked it although it was a bit tame for a BEQ (see yesterday's "No Kidding" at his web site). No real problems except I keep forgetting the H at the end of MYNAH.

I wanted to comment on my criteria for a DNF. DNF for me is that I had to google/look something up. The next level up is finish with an error (or two or...), followed by finish correctly with outside human help (e.g. spelling help, answer help,...), followed by successful solo completion. So DNF for me is not being able to fill in all the squares without going to a reference.

mlm 11:32 AM  

Great Thursday puzzle BEQ and Joon (Pahk not Park).

hazel 11:32 AM  

This was the most fun I've had solving a puzzle in a very long time. It was practically a perfect puzzle IMO. Took a while for me to get the gimmick (WICCABASKET), but then TAIGAlands got changed to TAIGAWOODS and I was off and well still gliding, but I thought it was a fantastic puzzle.

Thanks for the Shuggie feature - he had a fro's fro! it made me go find/listen to some of his songs -Strawberry Letter 23 & also Aht Uh Mi Hed - almost fits in with the theme - sounds like he's living on the coast, recording occasionally. What a sound. Gonna buy me some Shuggie today!

Ergo: Awesome clue and awesomer puzzle!

lit.doc 11:45 AM  

Tough going for me, though I came in under 25 minutes and had at least two-thirds of the grid worked out before I started googling. In contrast to @Elaine, that 3x10 block in NW was last and hardest.

The “I [Joon]pahked my cah in Hahvad Yahd” theme was nicely executed. Lots o’ fun (BTW, does anyone not know where the Quigley lives?), though TAIGA was brutal (and there’s that “biome” thingy again).

@Rex, first time I ran aground on SOBE I was sitting on my usual bar stool. To bar staff: “Yo, energy drink with a lizard on it?” Bar staff in unison: “Sobe”.

Only rekeys were 3D UNIONIST before REP (no surprise) and 39D URAL before ARAL (freaking four-letter river names!!).

Meaning no disrespect to @Rex, Kareem’s birth name actually wasn’t Lew, it was “Alou”. Happy we are to not have that additional worn-out-fill threat.

@BEQ, the not-your-clue for 21A sucked, both as to obscurity and negative cultural baggage. Would have loved to see “Basketball ____”. I mean, if you’re gonna do obscure…

@r.alphbunker, my ‘droid system doesn’t support AcrossLite, so I’d be surprised if your iPad does.

@David L, yes, “catim” is the Hebrew plural for “cats”, like “seraphim” for “seraph” (while fewer than one is “sanseraph”) or “sheriffim” for “sheriff”.

obertb 11:58 AM  

@r.alphbunker--Of course not. Even Flash, the most common language of better websites everywhere, doesn't work on an iPad. Hope you didn't waste your money and buy one. (And I'm a life-long Mac user and iPhone owner.)

The puzzle: whenever I see a BEQ puzzle, I just guiltlessly fire up Google, because I know there's no way I'll know a tenth of the arcana that's bound to be there. I can't say I find this kind of puzzle much fun to solve. Reminds me a lot of the Maleska era: fairly straightforward clues to maddeningly obscure answers.

Brenden seemingly knows everything there is to know about pop music. I know an great deal (but far short of everything) about wine. If I constructed puzzles loaded with the names of cult wineries from all over the world, would that be fun for most solvers? Would it be reasonable, fair, to expect solvers to know this stuff?

OK, I know. The world is neither reasonable nor fair. It's just a crossword puzzle. Get over it.

fikink 12:09 PM  

@Hazel, that's "awesomah" puzzle.

A delightful puzzle!

And a shout out to Joon who is getting short shrift in the comments today.

Eric the Half-A-Bee 12:11 PM  

@lit.doc -- LOL!

I started composing a comment asking how there can be fewer than one seraph, when (I think) I caught on to your pun on "sans serif."

Rex Parker 12:16 PM  

There is simply nothing arcane or obscure about today's puzzle. Where...? Where, seriously? Certainly nothing pop cultural. JENI and HALSEY are the only answers remotely close to "obscure," and they aren't. Brendan's proposed clue for JONES is infinitely superior to Will's, and if you don't know January JONES, who cares? "Mad Men" is a huge hit, and Ms. JONES is at least big enough to have hosted SNL, and at any rate, most people (I'm betting) sure didn't know the Amos 'n' Andy JONES. More famous + more contemporary + less blackface = Win.

Probably good to focus on the actual puzzle in front of you and not some puzzle you are imagining in your head.

And yes, as @fikink says above, Joon Pahk wrote this puzzle too.


hazel 12:18 PM  

@r.alphbunker - I don't actually have an iPad yet - waiting to check out the 3G, but I have looked into the crossword app issue and iTunes does have an app, for 5.99 I think.

@fikink - you got me!! faeh and squaeh.

Unknown 12:32 PM  

Loved the theme and the puzzle overall, but "Taiga Woods" is still bothering me. It's saying "prairie grassland". I had Taiga in place for a long time, and could not figure out what might come after it--I kept trying to think of specific areas within the Taiga. Not knowing Dewey or Acorn didn't help me out with that, either.

I actually thought "Experimental Era" was pretty funny, though I have to admit that I busted out laughing at "Wicca Basket".

iPad 12:41 PM  

There's an App for that.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Long-time (intermittent) listenah, first-time callah

Had --OCET but was pretty sure there isn't an exOCET bird (which had me stuck for a second). Can't tell if @Parshutr was joking or not, but also pretty sure there isn't an AVOCET missile.

Had -----MANNA and got stuck on that lame private school in the Carolinas. ;-) Then seemingly simultaneously got John Wayne and Wayne Duke (former commissioner of the Big Ten Conference).

Captcha: "gropeco"...*resisting my inner dirty old man* so no definition. ;-))


P.S. All the best to PurpleGuy. Parents are hard, but sibs are even worse. Remembering the good times is the best for not wallowing in the pain. Likewise, one soon realizes it happens to everyone sooner or later. My Mom died after 8 years in a nursing home (2 strokes). Strong-as-a-rock Dad went peacefully & unexpectedly in his sleep. Just 2 months ago lost my favorite brother after 3+ years fighting Multiple Myeloma & 2 miserable weeks in ICU with ARDS. You'll also find those who don't know you well and/or don't know what to say end up telling you about their experience. :-)

CoolPapaD 12:45 PM  

@lit.doc - Fond memories of Basketball Jones as a kid - as I recall, it was SIDE B to a much more famous routine, though I am drawing a blank as to which one.

@PurpleGuy - add another to the list of those whose thoughts are with you and your family during this time.

This was a great puzzle - had never heard of TAIGA, RADAMES, or HEIME, but all were all quite gettable from the crosses.

SWOOSH, TAIGA, and STUD in the same puzzle! Do I detect a mini-theme? This ICON was TIPTOEing around, on the MAKE, trying to score some HEINE...til he was was found DAZED next to his decidedly non-ECONOCAR...

MikeM 1:00 PM  

Cuomo, Carey, then DEWEY made it especially tough. Really enjoyed this but challenging for me

JF 1:08 PM  

I've spent the past couple of weeks puzzling through BEQ's archives on his website, particularly the 'hard' puzzles, so I was already in the groove for today's affair. Fun puzzle all around. Thanks B&J!

I inexplicably had TAIGALANDS before catching onto the theme, but that was the only hiccup.

January Jones would have been a MUCH more natural reference. Perhaps Will thought the puzzle was too easy otherwise?

Masked and Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Thumbs up to BEQ and joon's Thursday thrilla. How on earth did they think up a theme anchored by TAIGAWOODS and WICCABASKET...? (TAIGA and WICCA may not be obscure to some, but I for one sure learned a coupla new words.)

Loved the clue set, especially clues for RIGHTNOW, JETTA and UNIONREP. Oh, and being an old record collecta, hats off to the SIDEB clue. Not sure who to "blame" for these, what with three sets of fingers in the pie. Great puz, y'all!

ArtLvr 1:33 PM  

Yes, many thanks to joon as well for today's romp! And I forgot that I started with a lovely Enthrall (right number of letters) for 2D TRANSFIX... soon fixed. Also glad to see KANGA for the Pooh pal, as her baby Roo gets into crosswords far more often.

@purple guy/bob -- thinking of you too.


mac 1:40 PM  

Great puzzle, thanks Joon and Brendan! I got the theme fairly easily, but the "wicca" and the rest of the SW was a struggle. Loved Side B, swoosh and transfix, the last of which I don't think I have ever seen in a puzzle.

Clark 2:25 PM  

Thanks BEQ and JP for teaching me TIGAH. I've never heard of it -- and I grew up in it (the Keweenah Peninsula of the UP).

The SW corner almost did me in. I had nothing but OPRAH for the longest time. What broke it open was _____BASKET. I finally just made myself think of what could go in that blank.

mitchs 2:43 PM  

Anyone know the winning time on puzzle at the Boston tourny?

edmcan 2:54 PM  

Oooh, this was fun! Thanks BEQ and JP.

Elaine 3:00 PM  

Maybe I should try solving in a they serve breakfast there?

TAIGA is a word I associate with Arctic-line forests (think Siberia, Russia, maybe Martin Cruz Smith's novels) so I was surprised to learn that forests further south are also so-designated.

Hand up for saying EEE-ra and finding 35A a little off.

I first solved the East, with WayneManna tipping the theme, and ARNO and Dnieper city KIEV helped crack open the NW and center portion. But even OPRAH and TIPTOE would not crack that SW corner for me. RADAMES was no problem, but not knowing JENI, plus my insistence on TEST for [Doctor's recommendation} did me in. I had forgotten WICCA, though I wonder if a witch wouldn't be a WICCAN.

unaphyt-- one-sided tantrum?
See you tomorrow.

sean m 3:00 PM  

my one quibble is with 'side b'.

the question asks for the SONG that people flip for, which as everyone knows is the b-side.

where is that song located? it's located on side b.

I Before E 3:27 PM  

First time as a non-anonymous commenter. Also first time not from syndication land, thanks to BEQ's site.

Great puzzle and to me a bit easier (and as noted, tamer) than his usual stuff.

Like Rex, had misspelled RADAMES, and had JEEPS crossing DOSE for a short while.

sanfranman59 3:30 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)

Thu 19:26, 19:37, 0.99, 53%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:41, 9:24, 1.03, 65%, Medium-Challenging

Peace to you and yours, Bob.

Moonchild 3:39 PM  

I thought this was pretty cute.
I remembered Taiga from the Planet Earth series.
Is experimental error a well known phrase?
For those of us who do not get HBO January Jones would be a complete unknown. But Basketball Jones would have been great. Was that a Flip Wilson thing?

@PurpleGuy, I'm glad it was a peaceful journey's end.

foodie 3:41 PM  

Two wonderful constructors, and a great, and funny, puzzle!

One nit to pick... it bothered me that MYNAH was the only punny answer that ended with H, all the other substitutions being just A. I know everything is spelled correctly and it's all meant to be phonetic, but it would have been great to see another H ending, for the sake of symetry.

Or may be I'm just DAZED from my continuing struggle with the 7 hour time shift...

fikink 3:44 PM  

@CoolPapaD and @lit.doc - The most hilarious scene (imo) in the movie, "Being There" with Peter Sellers is when he gets into the limo with Shirley McLaine and Basketball Jones is playing on the TV.

Thanks for the memory.

Chauncey 4:00 PM  

@fikink - I like to watch.

archaeoprof 4:29 PM  

Fun puzzle, delightfully quirky, especially for a Thursday.

WAYNEMANNA is flat out hilarious.

But now how do I get that "Admiral HALSEY" song out of my head? Someone help me, please!

retired_chemist 4:47 PM  

@ foodie - I too am usually put off with letter changes that are just phonetic and not spelled consistently. This one, though, I love because of the Boston accent theme. That does limit the constructors a bit, maybe a lot. We would be the poorer if BEQ and Joon had not produced this gem despite what you and I might consider a "flaw.".

Glitch 4:53 PM  

@Rex - ah come on - Never watched Mad Men, and that JJ also hosted SNL, another show I don't watch, is no reason I should know JONES any more than you should have known the 50's TV stars a while back.

I happen to know JONES as clued, but "Too Tall ___" would be a clue that I bet would cross a lot of knowledge lines, (can't avoid those Geico commecials), more than either the published or the proposed.

Off to make a 10 pound biscuit ;)


Zeke 5:00 PM  

@Glitch - I can think of one reasone why some of us would be expected to know January Jones more than Rex should have known 50's TV stars. See, we're alive now, when January Jones is current, and we weren't alive for 50's TV. While which TV shows we watch or not is a factor, being alive as ephemera was happening would trump that, no?

obertb 5:03 PM  

Ah, a lecture from the Lecturer. You are, of course, quite right. My comments were more general than specific to this puzzle. My bad.

By the way, only TIGER ends in -ER. MINOR, ERROR and MANOR all end in, well, -OR. And MYNAH ends in -H, not -A. Not that it matters. It's only a crossword puzzle.

Rube 5:11 PM  

Knew TAIGA, but my new 0.9mm Pentel put down TioGA, as in the camper you see on the highways. After getting WOODS, went back and realized the mistake my new Pentel had made, getting the theme at the same time. Went on to finish this most enjoyable puzzle without Googles so I guess @Orange's purported weapon of choice is worth the investment. Now I have to figure out how to supercharge it.

Some years ago we had some placements with shorebirds on them along with their names, probably Audubon Society stuff. One was of an AVOCET. Up 'till today, I've never seen, heard, or had any experience with AVOCETs. Strange things you remember.

Saw that EMINENCE would fit in 37D, but think of that as a title, as in a Catholic Cardinal or such. A quick dictionary look-up tells me it's also a "state of being eminent". (Eminence is also used in Geology, but not here.)

Never heard of Shuggie OTIS. Think I prefer the elevator guy clue, but that's too Mondayish. Never heard of Richard JENI, so debated between RAJAH and RANAH at 36D, but the J won out. FWIW, Andy's last name is Brown. Radames was a gimme and LOL, (does that work in the past tense?), at Big bushes = AFROS. Disliked RANAT, again. Liked all the theme answers.

Thank you BEQ and Joon.

chefwen 5:12 PM  

Brenden and Joon always throw up a challenge for me, different wave lengths. This one was fun and I did manage to finish, just felt a little bruised at the end. Started out with Coumo and crazy at 5A & D, Prep before ELEM and mode before MAKE, eventually sorted the whole lot out. PHEW!

@obert - bring on that wine puzzle, my non solving husband would probably be able to get it.

@purpleguy Bob. Many thoughts and prayers flowing your way.


lit.doc 5:28 PM  

@Moonchild, "Basketball Jones" was by Cheech & Chong.

@CoolPapaD, a pox on your B-side curiosity. I even found one of the original 45s on eBay. But did it tell me what was on the other side? Noooooo. Now I know of one more thing I don't know.

@fikink, I had totally forgotten about that scene from Being There. LMFAO! Thanks for the memory.

CK 5:30 PM  

Great puzzle.

Brenny and Joon?

fikink 5:45 PM  

@Rube, your post caused me to try to confirm that the "grey eminence" was Cardinal Richelieu, as that is what I always think of when seeing the word, EMINENCE.
LO AND BEHOLD! I have remembered it incorrectly all these years. The Grey Eminence was Richelieu's "right-hand man," one Francois Leclerc du Tremblay.

This is why I am such an avid reader of this blog!

Off to make dinner for the FIL. My thoughts are with you, Bob.

captcha: shemi - How I landed Mr. Fikink.

Moonchild 5:46 PM  

@ lit.doc.
Now I remember! Considering what I was doing back then I forgive myself. I just heard this high (not that kind of high) voice and was thinking of Flip.
@ archaeoprof, The only way I can get rid of an ear worm is to actually sing it out loud for a line or two. Works for me. Good luck.

fergus 5:55 PM  

The outtakes during the closing credits were awfully funny too.

Stoked when I noticed the authors, but it made me a little guarded about entering anything, since there was probably some trick up their collective sleeve. Even though it wasn't very tricky, the puzzle still lived up to the high expectations I had.

Anonymous 6:09 PM  

I much preferred the Amos and Andy clue.

Glitch 6:13 PM  


It's not age, it's interests. I don't have a great interest in today's TV (despite spending many years in the industry), and do not have access beyond "basic" cable (by choice) --- I have other timewasters, er diversions ;)

My knowledge of 50's TV is second hand, but I have done a lot of research in that area, both personally and professionally.

Rex is a professor (and professer)of classic literature, including his upcoming Arthurian class. All written before he was alive.

He also has a blog devoted to Pulp Fiction, another of his interests. The majority written before he was alive.

My point was that with respect to contemporary TV (Simpsons, Mad Men, The Wire, et al) no one, especially our host, should imply "everyone should know".

In fact, "everyone" and "nobody" should be banned from this blog IMHO.


CoolPapaD 7:20 PM  

@lit.doc - After perusing a few sites, it seems that "Basketball Jones (featuring Tyrone Shoelaces)" was the A-side, and "Don't Bug Me" was the flip-side. That bit is also hysterical - just Google "Cheech and Chong Don't Bug Me," and there is a free link to listen to it!

Robert of San Francisco 7:43 PM  

Challenging! I almost didn't finish, until MOSES changed to JONES (Amos Moses is SO much more musical) and CAREY became DEWEY (which broke 15 minutes of puzzlement over the TAIG combination). For me, a real killah.

Andrea, I apologize for stealing one of your exclamation points.

joho 8:26 PM  

@Bob/PurpleGuy ... I tried to email your personal address but it came back to me. So I'll say here that you are in my thoughts. Remember all the happy times ... from your comments it sounds like you had many.

SethG 8:52 PM  

Whether you're interested or not, January Jones is part of today's culture. Amos Jones? Not so much, unless you're talking football. Other famous Joneses include Marion, James Earl, Tommy Lee, George, Dow, Grace, and Davy.

William Meissner, the new CEO of Jones Soda, used to work at SoBe. One would maybe use a Wicca basket to turn me into a newt. Cupule was from the Klahn puzzle.

Rex Parker 9:09 PM  


Your comparison of Amos 'n' Andy to Morte D'Arthur is enormously ridiculous, and you know it. Zeke referred specifically to pop culture, and he is right. He never said "nothing before my lifetime is valid."

Stan 9:20 PM  

Amos 'n' Andy is famous above-all for its racial stereotyping. Without passing judgment on its creators or its fans (at the time), I'd prefer not to see the characters clued in the New York Times. Holy Cow, there are a gazillion other Jones's to choose from.

sanfranman59 10:03 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 6:44, 6:55, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Tue 6:40, 8:49, 0.76, 7%, Easy
Wed 12:50, 11:52, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 19:25, 19:37, 0.99, 52%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:40, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Tue 3:32, 4:30, 0.79, 11%, Easy
Wed 6:05, 5:49, 1.05, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 8:49, 9:23, 0.94, 36%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 10:33 PM  

completed about 5% of the grid, like all of BEQ's puzzles, and therefore hated all of BEQ's puzzles.

HudsonHawk 11:13 PM  

Old/new--I don't care. But January is a far more interesting clue than Amos for something as pedestrian as JONES. Especially in a puzzle that might have included ENERO (50D turned out to be EVENT). I just don't think Will did us any favors there. By the way, Mad Men is on AMC (basic cable), not HBO, as Moonchild mentioned.

Richard JENI was a comic genius. I saw one of his last shows at Caroline's, and I can't believe he took his own life so soon thereafter. R-rated, to be sure, but it seems the comic mind is often troubled. So sad.

Zeke 11:38 PM  

@Glitch - Whether you like it or not, being alive vs not being alive sometimes trumps interest. I have absolutely no interest in Sandra Bullock's marital woes, any more than I have any interest in [random 50's movie star]'s marital woes. Yet I know way too much about Ms Bullock's and absolutely none about [random 50's movie star]'s, due solely to actually being alive as they publicly go through their marital woes.
You said you have little interest in today's TV, but have specific interest in 50's TV. That's fine, but has nothing to do with what I said. I simply said that, absent any specific interest one way or the other, being alive is kind of a prerequisite for knowing things, and that all of us were alive for the past 3 or 4 years, going back 55+ years, not so much.

HudsonHawk 11:52 PM  

By the way, JENI's last HBO special, A Big Steaming Pile of Me, is still relevant and hilarious. But I will always remember an earlier bit he did about cooking shows, and how there really should be one targeting the average guy. His suggestion:

"We're about to create a dish from ingredients you don't have, with utensils you can't afford, in a kitchen bigger than your whole *&%ing apartment!"

As you can tell, my man crush on JENI is right up there with BEQ and Joon. Great puzzle, fellas.

Rube 1:20 AM  

@Glitch, I don't understand @Zeke's rant, but I do agree with you 100%. On to Friday's puzzle.

Glitch 11:10 AM  


For the record, I never compared A@A to Arthur, and wouldn't.

The point was "interests" before our times.


I know an Editor, active in the NYC Arts community, who owns neither a cell phone nor a television. He exists. He knows not of "Mad Men".


Rex Parker 11:25 AM  


Who cares what some guy you know does or doesn't know? It's completely irrelevant, as NOBODY has argued ANYWHERE that "everyone knows 'Mad Men.'" You are deliberately avoiding the better, more cogent argument of Zeke in order to continue fighting a straw man.


Glitch 11:38 AM  


I guess I don't understant Zeke's point.

I took his "I know way too much about Ms Bullock's and absolutely none about [random 50's movie star]'s, due solely to actually being alive as they publicly go through their marital woes." to mean it's "unavoidable".

I (and my friend) disagree.

Leaving it at that.


tingod 1:39 PM  

Did not like "waynemanna" at all. Mis-spelled "mynah" as "minah" and kept trying to shoehorn "Pataki" where "Dewey" belonged. Oops.

Tyler James Young 8:56 AM  

I know I’m late to the party, but if anyone else is solving their way through the archives and enjoyed this theme, you may also enjoy “SAY AH” from February 3, 2002 by Richard Silvestri. It even has two of the same theme answers, if you count the way I expected to spell MYNA.

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