Event of 10/30/10 / TUE 10-26-10 / Sobriquet for Bill O'Reilly / Eric who played Hulk 2003 / 1918 song girl whose name sung stutter

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Constructor: Chris Handman

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: 10/30/10 — tribute puzzle dedicated to this weekend's RALLY TO RESTORE SANITY (1A: With 17-Across, event of 10/30/10), hosted by Jon STEWART (41A: Organizer of the 1-/17-Across), and MARCH TO KEEP FEAR ALIVE (54A: With 65-Across, event of 10/30/10), hosted by Stephen COLBERT (39A: Organizer of the 54-/65-Across), both being held in Washington, D.C.

Word of the Day: Michael CERA (31D: Michael of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World") —

Michael Austin Cera (pronounced /ˈsɛɹə/; born June 7, 1988) is a Canadian actor best known for his roles in Arrested Development, Superbad, and Juno. Cera received two Canadian Comedy Award Best Actor nominations in 2008 for his work in Juno and Superbad, winning for the latter. Since 2008, Cera has starred in Year One, Youth in Revolt, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Paper Heart and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well, I knew this one was coming (I'll tell you how later), but I didn't know what it would look like, exactly. Don't like the non-symmetry of the theme answers, or the arbitrary (and equally non-symmetrical) bonus theme answers (PAPA BEAR and EMMY) (6A: With 10-Across, sobriquet for Bill O'Reilly used by 39-Across and 72A: Award won for 39- and 41-Across's programs). Theme answers also Very (too) easy to get if you are aware of the march/rally, and (probably, I guess) hard as hell if you somehow aren't. The grid as a whole seems pretty solid, with LADY LUCK (28A: Gambler's best friend?) and ANATHEMA (48A: Object of loathing) and AIR BALL (7D: Complete miss in basketball) and TAG TEAM (46D: Wrestling duo) providing some lovely (and, ironically, symmetrical) zing.

Strangely (considering I'm going to the march/rally) I don't have much to say about this one. There it is. . . Lots of cross-referenced theme clues are a minor annoyance. Michael CERA and Eric BANA (10D: Eric who played the Hulk in 2003) are important actor names to know, as they will likely become 4-letter crosswordese in the near future, if they aren't there already. The only answer I had any trouble with today was, briefly, OMB (21A: White House fiscal grp.) — it's the Office of Management and Budget, but OMB is not an initialism I see much, so I needed crosses to pick it up.

Went to doctor today re: sinus issues (ugh). We'll see how long treatment takes to help ... already a little better, but this *#$& has been fluctuating so much that I am not allowing myself to be optimistic yet. How is this relevant? I'm very tired, and going to bed now.

[32D: 1918 song girl whose name was sung with a stutter]

See you tomorrow,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:10 AM  

Since I watch Jon STEWART fairly regularly, but Steven COLBERT only irregularly, the top was easy and the bottom a bit less so. And since I cannot handle the cross-referencing, I mostly worked this vertically, and thought it on the Easy/Medium side.

Did not know PAPA BEAR and had DEAR PAPA instead, until Mr. Happy Pencil refused to pop up.

Is it kosher to have basketBALL cluing AIR BALL?

All in all, I thought it was a fun and timely puzzle.

D_Blackwell 12:19 AM  

Loved it. Screw the oh too precious symmetry. It beats this past Sunday's lame and trite, pitiful-pun-filled slog by a long shot. I would agree that the bonus theme entries were unneeded and I usually deduct points for excess theme, but I was okay with it today. It's a Tuesday. It's supposed to be a tin can.

PurpleGuy 12:27 AM  

When 71 Across wouldn't take "gay" "queer" "Me" "PurpleGuy" or "Jesser," I declared it ANATHEMA and asked it to leave ;)

I don't care much for cross reference puzzles, so like @foodie I solved mostly vertically. Even though I'm more of a horizontal guy ;)

Wasn't lovely K-K-K-Katy in yesterday? Hope she doesn't w-w-w-wear out her welcome !!
Maria Callas sings a really beautiful "Caro Nome" from Verdi's "Rigoletto." Worth checking out on YouTube.(I have absolutely NO IDEA how to embed).

Feel better Rex.
Happy (Trails?) No, Tuesday all !!!!

@ Tinbeni - a toast to you with the good Green scotch from both of us.

@Jesser - A toast with the Bullitt for allowing me to reference you in my comments. "A Votre Sante," my friend ;)

gatum: yesum did !!!!!!!

Robin 12:41 AM  

I can't remember who the cranky commenter was yesterday who was negative about the "Internet Crowd," but whoever you were, sorry, We're Back!

Thought the puzz was way easier than yesterday, but maybe that's just because I like Stewart and Colbert, so I pretty much had it from 1A/17A. I hate the self-referencing thing too, but I forgave this one, just this once.

@Rex, that is so cool that you are actually going to the rally - you have to give us a full "report."

presses: wait, that's a real word

Tobias Duncan 12:49 AM  

Rehem was so ugly I though it was some obscure word I did not know.
Since I dont have a TV this one was a little tough. I had heard whisperings on NPR about all this stuff but have been far from inundated as it sounds like most of you have been.
I have seen Galt in the grid before but this was the first time I have seen Roark.
Never heard of Chita.
Geez that corner was tough for a Tuesday.
PurpleGuy put me down as another Bulliet fan. Dont have any in the house tonight though so it will have to be some fancy pants rye.
Heres to ya.

fikink 12:58 AM  

Since I was aware of the RALLY and MARCH, Saturday, the puzzle was over too soon. Nice to see Howard ROARK in the puzzle and ANATHEMA is always good stuff.
Hope you feel better, @Rex, ...sinus pain - ugh!

andrea colbert michaels 1:15 AM  

I like this puzzle for a different reason than usual, ie it was nice to see Will break his rule of not wanting timely/expirable themes (as it's harder to seem fresh in syndication or put in books six years down the line) so I think this is great!

(Bec constructors don't get reprints fees...why should they be tied to only writing about things that have a long shelf-life? Esp for a newspaper)
Chris Handy seized a fun and timely event and maybe 10/30/10 will become in/famous)

Did not know PAPA BEAR and discovered the hard way today that COLBERT and STEWART not only have the same number of letters, they both end in RT!

@Tobias Duncan
In a perverse way, I sorta liked 70A Rehem as a clue, bec ugly as it is, it now becomes more in the language, and thus more usable in a puzzle grid!
By itself, it looks sort of like an Arabic first name.

LADYLUCK and ANATHEMA were both super cool too as non-theme answers.

Michael CERA was parodied in the opening monologue on SNL a couple of nights ago...and the guy had his voice just right!

Rube 1:35 AM  

I'm a west coaster and have been in Hawaii for the last two weeks and have absolutely NO idea what this theme is about or who the two organizers are.

Had to Google to solve a Tuesday puzzle, (gasp), to get ROARK, although I probably should have known this. Really wanted dOtER for HOVER and thought S.O.S. alternative/BRILLO was a brilliant clue. Iknew what Rehem was getting at, but could not come up with ALTER.

At least a Wednesday puzz, but fun.

chefwen 1:41 AM  

ANATHEMA is almost as much fun to say as BABA ghanouj.

Thought the puzzle had a little crunch to it, like Monday's did and I liked them both. It's nice when the early week puzzles are not on autofill.

Did not know OMB so my last letter to fill in was (after running the alphabet for PROM) the M in OMB/PROM.

flowerblogger 2:03 AM  

I loved the puzzle today with all the cross references. It made it more fun. At first I thought it would be a World Series theme which we might see later this week. The Michael Cera, hulk Roark and Eric were real roadblocks for me. Chita Rivera was famous in the 60's, especially for. her part in West Side Story, both Broadway and in the movie. Everything else just flowed. And Michael I hope the sinus thing gets better fast. Sometimes acupuncture helps a lot.

r.alphbunker 5:54 AM  

Am curious why the puzzle had to be non-symmetrical. 65A could have been "march to keep the fear" And 72A could have been "alive". However, I am sure that if I tried to make it work I would understand why. Puzzle brought to mind "Wordplay". It would be fun to hear Jon Stewart comment on the puzzle

The Hag 7:13 AM  

@andrea variable michaels said
Bec constructors don't get reprints fees...why should they be tied to only writing about things that have a long shelf-life? Esp for a newspaper

Agree with this 100%. Why not add the occasional current events theme to, say, Thursdays which are already trick/gimmick day? I'm also glad to see the rule bent - just wish it was on a better puzzle. It seemed to me that the only cleverness was in noticing that the two events and two names have the same number of letters. Isn't that sort of, you know, the minimum criterion? As a long-time fan of both shows (and attendee this weekend) I read the first clue, did 1D, then basically just filled in letters without even having to think. For non-fans, I suspect this was hard, if not impossible, without Googling.

Now that I think about it, the last topical puzzle (the Das Rhinegold one) was sort of the same thing. Though at least that one had the circled square pattern. Also, IIRC it had some general music terms and didn't seem so in-jokey.

But whatever. I don't expect every puzzle to be to my taste. It's a nice shout-out to Jon Stewart who is known to be a daily solver. I'm sure it will come up on his show and I am looking forward to seeing his reaction. I did like ANATHEMA.

Diana Holquist 8:18 AM  

I'm a huge Stewart/Colbert fan, but this felt out of place to me. Like an ad on the front page of the NYT above the crease. Maybe because I do the paper puzzle, I see the crossword as part of the paper, with its own unique "journalism" rules. This just felt like naked product placement to me. One big, fat PR piece for an upcoming event, with date included. (And we all know from WordPlay that Stewart does the puzzle....who's kissing who and why? Ick.)

(Rant over. Super busy, so probably can't come back to respond to the wrath, but know I am very interested in what you all have to say and will check back when I can. Am I the only one who felt this puzzle took "current events" a step too far? What's next? Will's favorite current-running Broadway play featured?)

SethG 8:23 AM  

TWO for duo is kinda strained, but crossing duos is nice.

I always think that a troubadour is a lover for some reason, which is only reinforced by the name of his song.

John V 8:49 AM  

Well, just a bunch of fun, here, for we Stewart/Colbert fans. Only pause was at 10D, Eric Bana, a new name to me, but all fell into place with the crosses. In all, an easy Monday, if you get the theme; otherwise, per @rube, this would not be a lot of fun.

jesser 8:55 AM  

LOL @ Purple Guy and 71A.

That said, I didn't finish, because I don't get how a troubadour's song is a LAY, and I didn't know either Michael CERA or the stuttering song gal, so I had L_ _. I knew the final letter for KAT_ had to be an E or a Y, but I couldn't make either one work in my brain. How is a troubadour's song a LAY? I feel denser than usual.

Two of my writeovers were weirdly transposed. At 34D, I initially had BORe, and at 58D, I had TORn. Those two letters had to switch places to make the thing come together.

Otherwise, I liked the puzzle.

I'm glad I'm a print-it-and-pen-it solver, because I can't stomach the thought of being chided by an animated pencil on a Tuesday.

Get better, Rex!

Vingsn! (slightly gamy deer meat is my best guess.) -- jesser

joho 9:00 AM  

I read too much into the theme adding and pairing ANATHEMA with PAPA BEAR and TAGTEAM with COLBERT and STEWART. I need to get a life.

I hate cross referencing clues but because I knew about this upcoming event they didn't even matter.

I love "Juno" so CERA was a gimme.

This puzzle was an interesting departure for a change.

GenJoneser 9:23 AM  

@flowerblogger: Sorry that was Rita Moreno in WSS (Bway and film) not Chita. I have worked with Ms. Moreno and she and Chita are friends who get a giggle out of how many times they are mistaken for each other. Chita was in Sweet Charity (among other musicals and films) and an exceptional Fosse-esque dancer. Just wanted to set the record straight.

chefbea 9:25 AM  

Tough for me for a Tuesday bec I didn't know (or forgot) about the up coming events for 10/30.

@Rex - maybe a breakfast at I-Hop will make you feel better

Sara 9:35 AM  

Rex, two words:

Neti pot.

Don't turn up your nose at it (because the water will run into your eustachian tubes)

foodie 9:52 AM  

@Jesser, I have to defend the honor of Mr. Happy Pencil. He only uses positive reinforcement-- no chiding. One only feels chided by his absence. I learned this as a parent- you can make it a policy to be very positive. The kids still make a scale out of that, and the bottom of the scale always feels like punishment. People are weird creatures.

@Andrea, yes, REHEM (Rahem) with slight modification, is an Arabic name- means kind or forgiving. I would have never made the association, though. Good eye!

SusanMontauk 9:58 AM  

If you check out Chita Rivera's citations for winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2002, you will find mention of her tony nomination for originating the role of Anita in West Side Story on Broadway. Rita Moreno won an Oscar for the film version.

I love Stewart & Colbert and made plans to go to the rally, but I agree that this is a little too much of an endorsement for tv that has a political slant.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

I mostly sailed throug this one until the SE. What up with the weird combo of Aar/Chita/Roark? And when did it become okay to use an ugly crossword filler word ("Rehem") as a clue??

JaxInL.A. 10:08 AM  

Great fun today. I hope to hear back in this space about the impression made on those planning to attend.  I lived in DC during the Million Man March and loved the atmosphere leading up to it. Counter to popular expectations and some of the media hype, the air had a feel of real hope, group effort to a common goal, and personal potential.  I can only hope that the Stewart'/Colbert event has a similar feeling.

@jesser, I agree that the troubadour clue is a mystery. I thought for a moment that it might refer to a song popularized by the pop group The Troubadors but could find nothing.    

Loved RETRO as "fashionably old". I hope I get retro and not just old. Nice spread on the actors' age demographic, too. I'm sure that Michael CERA must have appeared in puzzles before, but together with Peter LORRE?   

Very fun. Thanks, Mr. Chapman!

Trendines=fashionably tinned fish?

JaxInL.A. 10:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lindsay 10:12 AM  

I don't own a television, so this was not so all-fired easy for me. Especially as half the clues cross-referenced other clues that hinged on knowledge of ..... television.

Also unfamiliar with Cera and Bana. Saved from an error at square #10 (Papa Fear?) only because "fear" had already checked in at 65A.

I had no problem with 21A OMB, but topping it off with 51A emb is taking liberties.

So, thumbs up for the concept of au courant, but not wildly enthusiastic about the execution.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Did anyone think to, you know, look up LAY?

jesser 10:28 AM  

I knew someone would explain it or post a link. Thanks Anonymous 10:22!

I have never heard that word used to define a ballad In My Life. Seems like an wildly obscure clue for this early in the week to me. The things we learn in crosswords.

Van55 10:35 AM  

Far too topical and in a certain niche for me to approve of this one. And yes it seems like a plug for the events of which I neither knew nor care.

That said the puzzle was an enjoyable solve for me.

Sparky 10:35 AM  

Thank you, Andrea, for enlarging on the need for stars in Monday's puzz. You make a good point. Katy was indeed in LAT yesterday.
As for today: since I am not a Stewart/Colbert watcher just pieced it together with downs and what seemed to make sense. I'm watching Jeopardy! at 7 and in bed by 11.
Had a miswrite at BORe/AeNTHEMA that I didn't catch till here. The week is off to a good start.
Lots of sympathy, Rex, for sinus problems. Good luck with treatments.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:41 AM  

I tghought this puzzle was a lot of fun. I don't have cable TV, but I have certainly heard of these events.

My first thought was, "At least we know this puzzle hasn't been sitting in Will Shortz's in-box for five years!"

Second thought, "We often see Greek letters used as parts of rebus answers, but has there ever been a Greek letter in the clue before, a la 38 A?"

Finally, I hate to disagree with ACME, but I can't go along with "COLBERT and STEWART not only have the same number of letters, they both end in RT!" I couldn't possibly do the orthography, but isn't it the case that COLBERT ends in ". . . air"? :>)

JC66 10:43 AM  


I'd be more disturbed that constructors don't get paid for reprints than by the creative restraints reprinting may engender.

If the top 200 or so constructers got together to fight this policy, they'd probably be successful.

mmorgan 10:49 AM  

As others have noted, if you had any clue about these events, this was a breeze. I don't mind topical puzzles but given the amount of space taken up by the theme answers, it didn't seem like there was much left to do after they were filled in.

Slight pause deciding between AVOID and AVERT, and wondering about the unfamiliar ATSTUD (which, given crosses, had to be right).

I love Chita Rivera -- long time big fan. I also liked LADYLUCK and ANATHEMA, and even TREMOR.

After the other day, I was hoping that 7D (Complete miss in basketball) would be FOOZLE ;-).

I wonder if LAY has any etymological connection with LIEDER...

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

I enjoyed this one.
I'm insanely green towards those lucky enough to go to the rally/march.
This seemed to be a pretty impressive piece of construction considering the theme density.
Way to go Chris H.!
No idea about lay/Cera.
@ Lindsay, I love your Papa Fear answer. I think his middle name is Irrational.

The Hag 10:54 AM  

Re: Rehem. Actually, I always get a small kick out of seeing crossword-ese in the clues rather than the fill. Recently saw TERRIER clued as "Asta, e.g." which made me chuckle. But I do so much sewing that to me, rehem is a real word. I didn't even really register with me as I was zipping through.

*enststen - a British gun used by dyslexic tree people in Middle-earth*

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

Will's assertion is absolutely true, that subject matter for NYT crosswords can include anything covered in the NYT. The ink-and-paper NYT is, literally, my only information source for current events; I don't own a TV and rarely listen to the radio (PBS, satellite, or anything else), but I can usually infer or dredge up answers involving sports, TV series, awards winners, and music. Sure, I gnash my teeth over obscurities in all these (and more) categories, but that's the fun of it--not to mention making contact with (and sometimes even remembering for future use) a vast number of unrelated Fun Facts. The rants and remarks on this blog add spice to a wonderful OLLA.

Evgeny 11:54 AM  

Gee, the bloodthirsty European was looking forward to seeing a huge political discussion here... Either there's not many smart nyt-crossword-solvers who don't like Stewart and Colbert or they are very polite.

There's a couple of reasons why not having American tv over here is not a great thing. For instance, one doesn't get to see the daily show anymore (cnn international and comedy central both dropped it) and one never got to see the Colbert report.

Read "I am America (And So Can You)" last year - there's not many books that made me laugh so hard. Also, if anyone hasn't seen how Jon Stewart roasted "Crossfire" while being interviewed on "Crossfire" - google it and watch it immediately!

I guess the sum-up of the seminar would be: a familiar theme and a correspondingly doable puzzle!

hazel 12:00 PM  

awesome puzzle for what i hope will be an awesome event! definitely room in my world for the oddball "topical" puzzle.

reminds me of the novel i'm reading now (freedom by j. franzen) it has all sorts of topical references that may not be "fresh" 20 yrs from now - but at this point in time, its an excellent read (so far, anyway) and is making me think too. its quite different from more "timeless" writers who i also enjoy.

go giants! or rangers! either way, i like you both!
and there's almost nothing funner when playing a friendly game of hoops than saying AIRBALL!

Jim 12:01 PM  

Lot to disentangle today.

Real trouble in the bottom since I had millionmoderate instead of TOKEEPFEARALIVE. Vaguely aware of the event. But didn't understand the distinction between the two (Colbert's persona was originally brilliant, but seems tiresome).

Had ROuRK but could be loosely tied in w the theme--'39-A hero, maybe'. Maybe too obscure, but no more than LAY/KATY. Before Thursday,these have GOT to be edited out! 'Singer Perry' has first name / last name question cutesiness. Just don't understand why they allow unverifiable crosses like this. Ugh.

efrex 12:02 PM  

Meh. I adore both Colbert & Stewart, so the theme fell quickly, but it does read more like a promo than anything else, and opens the Times to more annoying "see how liberal they are?" ridicule.

ALTER & BRILLO had great clues, though, and LADY LUCK and ANATHEMA were fun to find. The ALTA/ARTE cross threw me, though, as did AAR/ROARK (I know, standard crossword-ese, but still...).

dk 12:09 PM  

REHEM - the sound Golem makes.

IHOP - pandering to our king

@sara, we are Netti Pot devotees and I agree Rex should give it a try.

@Purpleguy - my LOL moment was envisioning you dueling with Mr. Happy Pencil over your fill for 71A.

Alas as I am a TV luddite, like @frances, I was unaware of the various rallies or shows. However, the names of the stars are buried within my little gray cells.

*** (3 Stars) Nice one Chris, thanks.

Girding my loins, as my purchase of the farm is contingent on the bank approving a short sale. It is a sad commentary when you have to retain an attorney to get a bank to keep you informed, follow their own procedures and tell you the truth.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

@Evgeny, not a fan of Colbert, Stewart or any other liberal, but one cannot help but note that on this site the rabid non-thinking liberals froth at any suggestion to keep out politics unless it favors the left. The NYT has every right to publish whatever puzzle it wants, whether to promote a political agenda or a silly play on words. Readers have every right to do or not do the puzzle. One can only hope America keeps it that way. I did not find this puzzle to be particularly difficult or as playful as some, but it was ok for a Tuesday. The theme nor the lack of perfect symmetry was not a turnoff for me. PS. Maybe a hurricane will blow through DC on Saturday (as one did to drive out the British soldiers in the War of 1812) but I pray for Rex's (and everyone else's)safety if one does....

No Comment 12:24 PM  


I hear you, I felt the same way about the Ring Cycle puzzle.


mac 12:25 PM  

Good puzzle, and I like the timeliness. I too had Papa Dear, forgot about Bana. Somehow I knew lay, it must be crosswordese. Needed the prom to get OMB. Nice to have stanza and aria close together, and, as SethG said, the two duos.

Rufus P Pettifogger, Esq 12:46 PM  

@DK - What else do you think we're good for?

The Hag 1:20 PM  

@Evgeny. Stewart and Colbert's real target is the media. Whatever one's political beliefs, most people agree that the media leave *ahem* a lot to be desired. Sorry, NYT, you too.

@.... I'm a moderate. Liberals think I'm a facist. Conservatives think I'm a communist. I dislike yelling. That's why I'm going. Using the analogy of an invasion by a foreign power when talking about a peaceful gathering in our nation's capital doesn't strike me as terribly apt. But I completely agree with you about hoping the various freedoms we enjoy as Americans continue, including freedom of assembly.

Re: puzzle appropriateness. I always weigh the potential to annoy or offend vs. the inherent quality of the book, TV show, movie, puzzle, whatever, as well as the ease of avoiding it if you are going to be annoyed or offended. IMO (let me repeat, IMO) in this case it was low vs. low and low. Eh. Pretty close to a toss-up. If I were queen of the world, I wouldn't have run it feeling it not sufficiently good to overcome its nichey-ness.

shrub5 1:21 PM  

Was initially turned off when the first three Across clues referenced other clues. I hate it when that happens. ;-)

Wow - four people commenting on this blog (so far) do not have TVs. I have both feelings of admiration and puzzlement. You are missing some good stuff but also a lot of 'empty calories.'

I have a question for those advocating the Neti pot for sinus washing. Doesn't that just get rid of the goo temporarily without dealing with the underlying cause?

Enjoyable puzzle. NBA and AIRBALL were right up my alley. Made the BORe to BORN and TORn to TORE changes as others have mentioned. I didn't know the Hulk BANA nor that COLBERT calls O'Reilly PAPA BEAR, but guessed the B at BANA/BEAR correctly.

Unknown 1:54 PM  

Surprised so many people got hung up on "LAY"; doesn't feel particularly obscure to me, although I can't say it's in common usage. While I sympathize with those who had difficulty with the puzzle because they don't have TVs, I don't "have" (and don't want) opera or dance or b-way or classical music or religion. Almost everything I know about any of those subjects I've picked up from doing crosswords, and it's especially irritating when I can't finish because clues from two of those topics cross.

ZZZ 1:57 PM  

Am I the only one who is tired of people commenting on their CAPTCHA 'words'? I find the majority of these comments...not amusing in the least.

Matthew G. 2:04 PM  

Enjoyed the unusual timeliness of the puzzle, and zoomed through most of the puzzle because I knew the theme answers without crosses. Talkin' bout my generation.

Sadly, however, I still finished with two incorrect squares. Celebrity names are always my undoing, and I didn't know Michael CERA, nor had I ever heard of a song about KATY. Didn't know LAY for a troubador's song, and so I guessed CERi, KATe, and Lie. I convinced myself that "Lie" was a plausible word for a troubadour's song, conceivably a derivation from the German "Lied," meaning "song."

But, no. Drat.

Unknown 2:06 PM  

Thanks everyone for both the praise and the mehs. I knew going into this that the theme would deliver a nice payoff for some and perhaps a WTF moment for others. To make it up to the latter group, I tried to seed the grid with some fill that (I hope) offered above-average sparkle for a Tuesday.

One of the most common complaints about early-week puzzles is that the themes tend to be the same warmed-over leftovers we've had before. Although no one will be awarding me a MacArthur Genius Grant for simply throwing the names of a few events and comedians across the grid, I thought that the timeliness of the events would offer--if nothing else--a nice surprise and reprieve from the ordinary. After all, one of the ways BEQ so successfully keeps the themed puzzles on his site so fresh is by mining whacky current events (see his au courant The Rent Is 2 Damn High theme from last week). That sort of nimbleness is hard to achieve at the NYT, so I thought (and Will thankfully agreed) that this RALLY/MARCH puzzle might offer a little jolt of immediate--albeit ephemeral--relevance. With any luck, the puzzle delivered just that for a few solvers.

@Jim, my original clue for KATY was precisely along the lines you suggested: Perry who sings "I Kissed a Girl." But perhaps because KATY is lying right beside CERA (shh, don't tell Russell Brand), I suspect that Will changed the clue for KATY so that there wouldn't be too adjoining answers playing to the 18-35 demographic.

@KooKooKaChoo, the inspiration for the puzzle was the fantastic coincidence that these two events shared the exact same number of letters, that they each broke cleanly 5+15 across the grid, and that the organizers of these "dueling" events each contained 7 letters in their last name and therefore could square off mano a mano in the center of the grid. It seems to me that the puzzle--which resides in the Arts section, tucked safely away from the front page--is above all else supposed to be entertaining. The goal in riffing on these two timely comedic events was just that: to entertain, not to shill. Glad I was able to succeed with some; apologies that I heaved an AIRBALL for you. Win some, lose some.

Thanks again to everyone for the terrific commentary! It's been a fun Debut Tuesday.


rabid non-thinking liberal 2:12 PM  

On my least-thinking day, I think more than most Bush/Palin/Limbaugh supporters. Maybe the difference is, I can then articulate my non-thoughts, so people are more aware of me.

joho 2:22 PM  

@ZZZ ... just don't read them. Problem solved!

@Chris, thank you for your comment.
It adds a lot to the solving experience to hear from the constructor. And congratulations on your debut!

PunLvr 2:25 PM  

@ZZZ. I suspect most people do it to amuse themselves - not you.

fikink 2:30 PM  

@PunLvr, agreed.

@Chris, thanks for this puzzle. I love your use of the word "nimble" to describe BEQ. Apt!

chefbea 3:15 PM  

@Chris thanks for stopping by.

@ZZZ I like to try to figure out words for the captchas
Sort of like figuring out words on license plates

Diana Holquist 3:37 PM  

@Chris I'm all for entertainment, but I know enough to recognize product placement when I see it embedded in my entertainment, no matter how many letters are in each word. Fine in my Project Runway show, where I expect it. Not so fine in my NYTimes crossword puzzle, where I expect separation of content and ads. If the march is this weekend, wait till it's over, then run your puzzle. It would have felt different to me.

As for the J.S. butt-kissing...still...ICK. I never go to the WordPlay blog, as I find it boring, but today I was curious and looked. It made me wince w/ its pandering oh, I can't WAIT for J.S. to see HIS puzzle! We were all SO excited for John to see this!!!

So, blatant PR and celebrity pandering. Not entertaining for me, no matter the section. @efrex put it better than me: "...opens the Times to more annoying "see how liberal they are?" ridicule."

Citizen Dain 3:40 PM  

I loved AIRBALL, loved seeing NBA crossed with NCAA, love Peter LORRE being in the same puzzle as Michael CERA. Theme was okay but most of the fill was a lot of fun. Until the SW corner, where I didn't know the river, the Ayn Rand character, whatever clue led to the answer ALTER, or the Tony-winner. That corner was almost empty for me, which is a shame because I was so proud of getting a lot of the interesting fill answers around the rest of the puzzle.

andrea yyy michaels 3:57 PM  

Maybe you need more ZZZs? You might feel less cranky about it. Point taken, but yes, do skip over...and don't make people feel self-conscious about it...it's wonderful that people want to add a little creative fillip (sp?) to their posts! Why should the constructors have all the fun?
(I imagine my middle name change is irritating to some as well, but it's really all just to add a little spark or another dimension to the experience of chiming in.)

I am. Some of us tried. We weren't. ;)

Right on! Don't know how you managed to submit something so topical, bec it so easily could have gone the other way! Bravo!!!

And there was a puzzle about the Rent is too Damn high???!!! Must check that out immediately! Ha!

Van55 3:57 PM  

@KooKooKaChoo -- I agree with you. Running this puzzle next Tuesday would have been equally timely and not at all like a promotion of the event. Still, I think that an aim of the NTY puzzle should be a sort of timeless ness such that I can do a 2001 puzzle with as much chance of soliving it correctly as a 2010 puzzle. I predict that in a year or more virtually no one will remember the Colbert/Steward "rally" other than perhaps those who attended.

sanfranman59 4:10 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)

Tue 9:10, 8:56, 1.03, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:43, 4:36, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Unknown 4:14 PM  

@KooKooKaChoo Product placement? As Inigo says in the Princess Bride, "You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means." The Piperline.Com accessory wall on Project Runway is PP; a xword theme built around two cultural events occurring on the national mall is not. After all, the entire media--print, TV, radio--have already chronicled these events to one degree or the other (and continue to do so). Unless you're going to say that the Times, the WSJ, etc. have all engaged in pernicious product placement when playing up these events, I don't think you should hold a goofy 15x puzzle to a more exacting standard. In any event, as Rex himself said after the Times ran the iPad, iTunes, iMac, iPod puzzle this summer (where you'd have a much stronger case for PP): "Some people will get their hackles up and squawk about product placement (perhaps by starting their complaints with 'In my day...'), but I don't care (much) about such things." I feel the same way. But I certainly appreciate your different take on matters.


David from CA 4:35 PM  

Chalk me up as another west coaster sans TV who hadn't heard of either theme event. But despite that I found the puzzle entertaining and quite doable, and I'm certainly not a crossword ace like lots on this blog! So thanks Chris. Only nitpicks would be your making me guess at a bunch of proper-noun crosses, BEAR/BANA/ENID/RAYS and CHITA/AAR/ROARK.

@Chris: I'm also curious - Did you consider putting "MARCH" in 73A to maintain the symmetry that would have made Rex very happy?

And, forgive my ignorance, but what are the "CAPTCHA words" ZZZ is complaining about?

@shrub5: Strongly suggest you try locking your TV away for a period. You might find there is a lot of "good stuff" your are missing by spending time watching it!

Unknown 4:50 PM  

David thanks for the kind words on the puzzle. Yes, I did consider moving MARCH to 73-A to preserve symmetry. The problem with that approach, to my eye at least, is that it's slightly odd to begin the phrase with a word that appears beneath the rest of the phrase. Although it was a very close call, I ultimately concluded that it made more sense to break from strict crossword symmetry here to preserve a different sort of visual symmetry: ensuring that both phrases would read in a natural top-to-bottom order. I promise that my next puzzle won't take such liberties!


Jim 4:52 PM  


Glad to hear it's Will who is my bete noir. I thought briefly about it and couldn't come up with one, but perhaps there was some middle ground on KATY that couldve been achieved. :-)

As someone who enjoys current event references in my puzzles, I could only but marvel at the orgy of fill to that end today. As to the political /'product placement' (I think you mean promotional) aspects of this puzzle, I am of two minds.

Much like the Juan Williams imbroglio--do I want my sources of information (NPR, NYT) not even to have the whiff of partisanship, regardless of the extent to which the other side hhas no qualms whatsoever about their 'news' coverage being laced with opinion (or malice)? I'm coming to the conclusion that we have to push back against the idea that there is equivalence in all things. There is not. JS actually frames Fox News' MO beautifully. It is not liberal to point out the tactics of the enemy of real journalism. And we do the country no favors by allowing them to continue to call us every name in the book, independent of facts, and set the terms of the debate.

If the timing of this puzzle does end up promoting the rallies more, so be it. There are far more partisan events to be associated with--as far as I can tell, these are both quite decent, honorable men.

Evgeny 5:11 PM  

Ha! Now, that's more like it, with 'rabid non-thinking', 'political agenda, who mocks whom and what not! Over here in "Old Europe" (as one US-minister carelessly called it), politics are just so very boring, with four or five big political parties ranging, by American standards, from 'a bit to the right from the Democrats' to 'a bit more to the left from the Democrats'. If people rally/march over here, it's mostly about such mundane things as global warming, nuclear waste disposals or union strikes. So, always great to see how political debate over there is about exciting stuff like who was more of a war hero back then or who knows where Kenia lies and whether it makes them seem suspicious. I honestly knew more about the last US presidential election then I did about last year's Bundestag election, in which I actually did go to vote - partly because German media seemed to cover the former much more intensely.

Anonymous 5:45 PM  

@ The Hag, I wasn’t intending (but subconsciously might have been) comparing the invasion by the liberal comics and their fans to the invading British Army, but lest one of the rabid-non-thinking liberals on this site call me a weasel, I like the comparison! I was really suggesting that historically a hurricane in DC is not out of the question.

@Evgeny, glad to oblige. A little name-calling cleanses the soul, which explains why all the politicians and Stewart and Colbert think they know the road to heaven. Hope you voted for Merkel....

r.alphbunker 5:55 PM  

Since "march" is 5 letters and so is "alive" why didn't you have 65 across be
"march to keep fear" instead of "to keep fear alive"
and have 73 be
"alive"? instead of "roark"?

chefbea 6:04 PM  

@David from CA Captchas are the words we have to type before our post is accepted

such as mine= ingrack

David from CA @ Gedliz 6:23 PM  

@r.alphbinker - I hope Chris is still on and replies, but I would hazard a guess that PFEAR 2 rows over ALIVE might yield some really nasty fill, especially that _ _ A _ V. But then, I am in awe of crossword devisors in general, so maybe one on this list will come back with "no problem".

@chefbea Thanks! Mt personal word-of-the-day.

your average blank 6:23 PM  

chris thanks for a timely great tuesday puzzle. I solved this on in the drs office awaiting a prostate exam so it was nice to have a challenging puzzle to keep my mind off the exam. I truly mean this as a compliment

edith b 6:41 PM  

I was in a quandry with this puzzle as I am a Democrat and my husband is a rampaging right-winger. We keep peace in our family by not watching "Partisan TV" which I define as Limbaugh, O-Reilly and their ilk and he defines as Maddow, Olbermann and the like.

I had to approach this one from a wordplay angle - which I did - and ended up finishing in just under 15minutes. The things we do to perserve peace!

edith b 6:46 PM  

Oh, It does surprise me that there are so few conservatives that comment here as I was cringing in anticipation of a lot of name-calling today. Pleasantly surprised, I might add.

Unknown 7:01 PM  

@ your average blank, of all the compliments I've received today, yours stands out as the most wonderfully peculiar. Thanks for the nice words. I hope you aced the exam.

@r.alphbunker, yes, I did consider that formulation; even had a draft grid with that layout. The problem was that the fill that resulted was awful. But what concerned me as well--perhaps more so--was that beginning 65-A with MARCH would have upset a different aesthetic concern: ensuring that the two long 15-letter entries begin with the infinitive phrase. To my eye, there is something pleasing about having 17-A and 65-A both begin with TO RESTORE/TO KEEP. So again, I opted to take a risk and dispense with strict symmetry in this one case. Worth it? I hope so, but I recognize it's unorthodox and the payoff may not be worth it for some.

foodie 7:58 PM  

Over 800 people completed this puzzle on line. It seems like an unusually high number. Sanfranman, is that correct or am I making up stuff?

Two Ponies 8:30 PM  

Between @ Chris and everyone else this has been one of the more intelligent and entertaining days on the blog. I think that is a sign of a good puzzle.
Thanks so much for your input Chris. I feel like a puzzle groupie but it really thrills me to have a constructor stop by.

Sfingi 9:07 PM  

Didn't know the 2 young men, BANA or CERA. Old people know CHITA and KATY. So, it's "Fair and Balanced."
Didn't know AVOIR.

The puzzle was pretty clever, including both activities in a parallel way. Didn't notice asymmetry, so I guess it's unimportant to me. And it was timely, definitely.

Had itup before (shake) ALEG; mist before HAZE.

At the start, was wondering who called Bill O'Reilly doPe hEAd.

Always wondered how people could consider Europe and Asia 2 continents with only a mountain range separating them.

NBA crossing NCAA 2 sports abbrevs) was a Natick for me. I took a guess on the last letter and got it right.

Get BENT used to mean drunk a few decades ago. Everything has meant drunk at some point, I believe.

@Andrea - why should? Because the papers have the vehicle. Until lately, it's been Freedom of the Press for those who own one. This is changing. Sometime you too will be able to distribute your puzzle across English speaking nations.

@Edith - let me help. Just remember, it's the conservatives who commit the murders in the name of religion and conservatism. The Democrats are the ones with manners.

Anybody notice EMMY and EMMA? (I tried to read everything here.)

@Purple Guy - easy enough to get on YouTube. No need to embed that one.

@Jesser - that's just what they always called the courtly love song in Northern France. Other troubadour songs were about jousting, say, or hunting and were not called lays. It might have got them laid, but that's just luck.

mmorgan 9:21 PM  

@Chris -- Great to hear from you (always love to see a response from the constructor here), and congrats on your debut Tuesday -- I really enjoyed the puzzle even though (or because?) I zipped through it.

Interesting to hear about the KATY clue. I was delighted with one we ended up with, since it was a gimme for me, and I have no idea who Katy Perry is. So these things balance out!

@Anon @12:21: I am certainly (and proudly) what you would call a "rabid non-thinking liberal, but I don't think that kind of rapid non-thinking
invective does a lot to enhance the quality of discussion here.

Terst. (Couldn't resist noting my captcha!)

Anonymous 9:51 PM  

Watched Jon Stewart and Colbert
tonight...not one word about today's crossword tribute.
I don't get it.

edith b 9:52 PM  


I agree with you but I also love my husband for his non-political tendencies so he and I "agreed to disagree" a long time ago and settled out of court, as it were.

Rex Parker 9:56 PM  

If I have any "manners" at all, I'm pretty sure I got them from both my mother (democrat) and father (republican). Yes, they're divorced. Still, my point stands. Whole point of my going to the rally/march is to support a political discourse that isn't utterly dehumanizing. So I guess that's political ... but not liberal or conservative, as far as I can tell.

joho 10:15 PM  

@Rex ... best comment of the day.

3 and out. Goodnight.

Unknown 10:23 PM  

@ Rex: +1. I suspect that's why Stewart has pushed back so hard against allegations that his rally is political. Wanting to revive a sense of proportion and civility to political discourse is not, in the end, a terribly political thing.

Anonymous 10:26 PM  

Sorry, Rex, as much as I like you (and I do notwithstanding your liberal leanings) that is political but no matter because that thing on Saturday won't matter. Edith B has it right. If you want to remain friends, don't talk politics or religion if you don't agree....

The Hag 10:41 PM  

@Chris. Congratulations on the NYT get. Definitely cause for celebration. The puzzle wasn't to my taste but then early week puzzles rarely are. To each his own. Given that my opinion will have exactly zero effect on your life, I'm sure that you have no trouble not taking it personally. (:

My final (more than 3rd, I'm sure) post turned into a tl; dr on my philosophy of current event puzzles in general. So rather than clutter up Mr. Parker's blog. I've posted it elsewhere. Here specifically. Feel free to ignore the link.

@ZZZ. To hell with you.

*brains - I'm not kidding, it's really just brains, as in "what zombies eat"*

sick of hipster comedy 10:55 PM  

meh to this puzzle and meh to these TV shows.

Anonymous 11:33 PM  

18A Area. Did anyone notice that they printed an upper case Pi instead of lower case? Boo.

sanfranman59 12:00 AM  

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 7:31, 6:57, 1.08, 81%, Challenging
Tue 9:17, 8:56, 1.04, 63%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:42, 1.00, 51%, Medium
Tue 4:41, 4:36, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging

@Foodie: The number of solvers today is right at the Tuesday mean of 815.

Vincent Lima 2:08 AM  

Got around to the puzzle late today -- after Colbert spoiled it by showing the completed grid at the start of his show. Not that it would have been any harder had he not....

Brian 10:25 AM  

Hey @Vincent Lima, but Rex doesn't spoil it by showing the completed grid at the very start of the day?

Vincent Lima 10:58 AM  

Hi Brian! I come to Rex after I have completed the puzzle (or, occasionally, given up) so, obviously, there's no spoiling involved.

BTW, I wasn't saying "Colbert spoiled it" in an embittered way; I meant it in a smiling, amused way.

Ellen 1:10 PM  

Anon 11:33pm - The print version had a symbol for pi (that's at 38A), but Across Lite can't handle that so it had to be written out. It's capitalized because that's the convention for the first letter of any clue.

NotalwaysrightBill 12:16 PM  

Syndicated paper puzzler.

This means that, at five weeks or so later, the theme material is already dated, maybe even a little RETRO. Which bothered me nary a whit in enjoying my solve. Neither do I yet have any cultivated sensibility to be bothered that things weren't parallel. Plus the thing went slick.

I actually worked a season at ALTA ski lodge, so that one was a gimmee. Didn't know CHITA, but that's why ya have crosses, right?

ANATHEMA is pretty, but I'd honestly like to see some of humankind's most delicious words and names pop up now and again. Like Lilliokalani or Coatzacoalcos.

Have to RALLY to the defense of troubadours and LAY (which one commentor took the predictable ATSTUD approach to): I'm a little appalled that so many here didn't recognize the term.
I recommend reading some Joseph Campbell on the importance of the troubadours in being some of the first to implant into the Western psyche what may well be the one thing that sets it apart from the rest of the world's traditions.

"Campbell explains that the troubadours (i.e., professional storytellers) of the Middle Ages weren’t just telling mindless tales of romance and dalliance, they were spreading a radical, almost subversive concept: That men and women could pursue their own destinies, fall in love and relate to one another as equals under a groundbreaking concept known as “courtly love.”"

"You know, the usual marriage in traditional cultures was arranged for and by the families. It wasn’t a person-to-person decision at all. In the Middle Ages, that was the kind of (impersonal) marriage that was sanctified by the Church. And so the troubadour idea of real person-to-person Amor was very dangerous.”

In addition to everybody in the West being the modern beneficiaries of the troubadours' labors of love (literal), including modern artists (perhaps a reprise of the McCartney hit, "Silly Love Songs" might be in order ("How do I tell you about my loved one?")), some direct descendants of the troubadour tradition can still be found in the likes of the trovadores of Cuba and Mexico.

captcha: unconu: Scottish for very very wildebeast ly

Waxy in Montreal 1:42 PM  

From the syndicate: on the eve of December, theme seemed just so-o-o-o October.

Never having heard of that alleged Canadian Michael CERA, Nattick was avoided by knowing the obscure LAY meaning. How? My alma mater's football rally song including the bizarro stanza "Great our affection, though feeble our lays". Never to be forgotten.

And when did the PAPA BEAR sobriquet morph from George Halas to Bill O'Reilly?

Dirigonzo 7:31 PM  

The puzzle, which I enjoyed, and the rally/march, which I watched on TV, are weeks in the past but it still seems topical, and strangely sad, to point out that the most rational cable "news" shows can be found on Comedy Central.

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