Bandleader Jones of 1920s-30s / SUN 2-6-11 / Island near Quemoy / TV Guide's Pennsylvania headquarters / Nine-time world champion rodeo cowboy

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "High School Reunion" — theme answers are part of a joke

Word of the Day: ISHAM Jones (108D: Bandleader Jones of the 1920s-'30s) —

Isham Jones (January 31, 1894 – October 19, 1956) was a United States bandleader, saxophonist, bassist and songwriter. [...] From 1929 to 1932, his Brunswick recordings became even more sophisticated with often very unusual arrangements (by Gordon Jenkins and others; Jones was his own arranger early on, but cultivated others for offbeat arrangements). During this period, Jones started featuring violinist Eddie Stone as one of his regular vocalists. Stone had an unusual, almost humorous tone to his voice. His other vocalists included Frank Sylvano, Billy Scott, Arthur Jarrett and Stone beginning in 1929 and in 1932, he added Joe Martin, another of the band's violinists. In April that year, young Bing Crosby recorded two sessions with Jones' group which included "Sweet Georgia Brown". Crosby at this point in his career was still singing in a jazz idiom, transitioning to his better known "crooner" style. // In August 1932, Jones began appearing on Victor, and these records are generally considered among the very best arranged and performed commercial dance band records of the Depression era. Victor's recording technique was especially suited to Jones' band. In October 1932, he teamed up with the Three X Sisters in New York who had just departed from CBS radio. They recorded "experimental" songs for RCA Victor which Jones began to fuse jazz, and early swing music. They recorded Where, I Wonder Where? and What Would Happen To Me If Something Happened To You. His Victor releases had an almost symphonic sound. He stayed with Victor until July 1934, when he signed with Decca. (Jones' recordings during this period rivaled Paul Whiteman and other dance orchestras as examples of the very best and most popular dance music of the era.)

• • •

Ha ha, it's funny 'cause she's old and unattractive...

Hey, here's another one: what has two thumbs and doesn't like "jokes?"

[this guy]

You either liked the joke or you didn't. This puzzle obviously wasn't meant for me, but maybe it was meant for you. I accept that this sometimes happens (i.e. that I'm just not the intended audience). That's all I have to say about this theme, except that the answers practically filled themselves in. Once you got past that opening fragment (TO SEE A NEW DOCTOR), you could see every part of the joke coming down Broadway.

Fill was very nice except for one nutso place in the south (which was, coincidentally, the last part of the puzzle I arrived at). ISHAM (108D: Bandleader Jones of the 1920s-'30s) and MATSU that close together felt a little brutal, but crosses ended up being pretty gettable, so I got slowed only slightly. Oh, the TWAY / TY MURRAY part is pretty wicked too (86D: Bob ___, 1986 P.G.A. Player of the Year / 88D: Nine-time world champion rodeo cowboy), if you're not familiar with either name (TWAY was somewhere in my brain, as opposed to Mr. MURRAY, who was nowhere in my brain). Again, crosses were kind, and I ended up with a sub-10-minute time, which is lightning-fast for me.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: A woman went TO SEE A NEW DOCTOR.
  • 31A: In his office, she noticed a DIPLOMA ON THE WALL.
  • 42A: She remembered having a high-school crush on a handsome, dark-haired boy with THE SAME NAME.
  • 53A: However, this man was balding, gray-haired and JUST AVERAGE-LOOKING.
  • 68A: She thought he was much too old to have been her CLASSMATE.
  • 79A: Nevertheless, she asked him if he had attended her high school, and after he said yes, she asked "WHEN DID YOU GRADUATE?"
  • 92A: He answered "In 1971. But WHY DO YOU ASK?"
  • 106A: The woman exclaimed "YOU WERE IN MY CLASS!"
  • 118A: He looked at her closely, then asked "WHAT DID YOU TEACH?"
P.S. Doctors have their *high school* diplomas on their walls? How desperate are you for wall coverage?

  • 26A: Expressionist artist James (ENSOR) — gimme. He's a rather common five-letter artist. "Impressionist" is gonna give you MANET or MONET, probably, but "Expressionist" is a good hint that it's ENSOR.
  • "One Mic" rapper (NAS) — never saw the clue; don't think I've seen this NAS clue before. I would commit it to memory, but, honestly, three-letter rappers? There aren't many.

  • 105A: 1969 newlywed in the news (ONO) — Coincidentally, "Wedding Bell Blues" was a #1 hit that year (coincidentally, the week I was born).
  • 8D: TV Guide's Pennsylvania headquarters (RADNOR) — this is like some bad crossword joke. This is the clue you'd trot out if you were trying to prove how *&$^ing obscure and random crossword clues are.
  • 8A: Certain bias (RACISM) — whoa. OK. I'll deflect this one, this way (by request...):

Matt Gaffney is running a special crossword contest from his (very popular) website—here's the message he sent me a couple days ago:
I'm running a special month here at MGWCC ("Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest") called "Literary February." Four book-themed puzzles, and *every* solver who answers the four February metapuzzles correctly wins a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set.
Matt's a fantastic constructor and his metapuzzles add an extra bit of fun to the solving experience. Get in on the action. You'll be glad you did.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 12:15 AM  

Normally I do not like themes that have quotes or other kinds of extended answers unless there is some pun or irony involved. Midway through I had my doubts about this one. Well, Mr. Kahn had one great big kicker at the end. I did not know whether to laugh or cry. But the story was so good I read it aloud to my wife and we laughed out loud together. We are allowed to laugh as Sunday we celebrate our 46th. So 1D (ALTERED) says it all for most of us as we travel from our glory days to our golden years….

Well done, Mr. Kahn. A memorable Sunday puzzle!

PS to Rex: I think the older you are the more you appreciate this kind of humor.

PPS. To Chefwen – As a Bears fan since the days of Bulldog Turner the last time I rooted for the Packers was in the first and second Super Bowls (1967 and 1968). In the first I was in the Air Force stationed at a base 50 miles east of Kansas City, so you can imagine that I did not want the NFL embarrassed by the AFL Chiefs. Maybe I will regain that sense of loyalty but the Steelers were also from the original NFL, so I think I will just sip on some bourbon and enjoy the contest. However, I can still wish you good luck with your team even though I might enjoy watching the Steelers wipe that little smirk off Rodgers’ face....

retired_chemist 12:17 AM  

Easy and unexciting. Did not get the theme until quite a few crosses were in place.

Malapop - WILES 2 25A was wrong, but WILE turned up @ 24D. NEATO! (does anyone ever really say that?) Debated INDEXES vs. INDICES @ 95A - crosses settled that one.

Asked non-puzzle wife if THE GAP was a Lands' End rival. She said yes, sort of, but L L BEAN was a better answer (without even looking at the puzzle!) Shopping impaired, she is not.

REWED (66D) is just ugly.

foodie 12:19 AM  

I liked it in large part because it was a nice change of pace from the usual switch a letter Sunday formula. And it was funny in this too close to home sort of way. I just saw someone I had not seen in over 30 years-- the younger brother of one of my best friends. And I had no clue who he was-- he was gray and balding, etc. He was very nice to me, but now I wonder :)

NEON! All I had to do is say Edith B yesterday and NEON appears in the puzzle.

PS..Rex, I think in this story, the dude has his name on some other degree, and she remembers the name itself and asks whether he went to the same high school... Otherwise, I agree, he's not only bold and gray, he is desperate :)

Jo 12:25 AM  

This same basic joke appeared on blog on Saturday, which I found pretty amusing -- a bit more amusing than the joke, honestly. And the SW corner, with its plethora of sports heroes -- rodeo, golf, and baseball -- just made me whimper.

Noam D. Elkies 12:28 AM  

Not bad(*), but not easy either for me, at the upper end of my usual timing range; I wonder what the solving stats will say.

Shouldn't the clue for 92A:WHY_DO_YOU_ASK end with a question mark after the “…”, as does the clue for 79A:WHEN_DID_YOU_GRADUATE?

(*) Except for the godawful SW, with not just 86D:TWAY and 88D:TY_MURRAY but the whole bottom 5x3 rectangle stuffed with three parallel proper names. (Well two of the three were familiar, but 124A:ELYSE? I even misspent a bit of my youth watching that show and still couldn't tell you what the mom's name was.) Admittedly there's not many choices for ?Y?U????, which is forced by the theme joke and has never been done before as far as xwordinfo remembers; but there's a much better name LYCURGUS that would fit (even sharing the 5th-space R, so 112A:RACK could be kept), and also the nice PYRUVATE that's key to the Krebs cycle and several other metabolic pathways. Let's see: try 88D=LYCURGUS, and put in 86D=SWAY and 87D=OH_NO, making 86A=SOLE and 99A=ANC as in Mandela; and then the SW can be


(changing 10D:WARTS to WANES), which isn't great but passable and I only spent a few seconds on it (and didn't try to do away with 93D:ONE_CASE) so one must be able to do better.

@ret_chem: I've even seen 109D:NEATO in a referee report some 20 years back. 66D:REWED, yes that's an ugly word; it looks like somebody left off the beginning of "screwed". At least it ties in with the clue for 115A:SPLIT.


Anonymous 12:28 AM  

thought i'd solved but had spelled elyse as in fur elise and didn't catch it with perp.
the joke actually happened in a way to a teacher friend of mine who saw a new colleague and recognized him as a classmate of many years' back. he said, "you were in my kindergarten class," and the other fellow said, "i dont think so, i had a woman teacher."

Anonymous 12:40 AM  

Rex - I agree with foodie. The diploma was not a HS diploma but only gave away the name of the doc (even tho one might think she would have known his name before seeing him); otherwise there is no need for 79A (unless there are 2 HS with the same name).

Besides, it's only a joke, not a theorem...and jokes are never funny if you see the punchline coming down Broadway....

syndy 12:53 AM  

Agree with Rex in that I was thinking the whole time that the puzzle was aimed at someone who wasn't me.Slogged through it anyway but knew I wasn't going to enjoy it.Kept hearing Bill the Cat going ACK

chefwen 1:26 AM  

Having seeing this joke not too long ago I breezed through this one. Was a little disappointed bec. is was over too soon. It was, however a welcomed relief after three days of DNF's. Thursday did me in, Friday 3/4 done, Saturday 7/8 done. Close but frustrating.

@Anon, da bears guy - I'll take a smirk vs. a Bear wearing a skirt.

Go Pack!!!

JenCT 6:45 AM  

I enjoyed the joke - yes, it made solving easier, but under 10 minutes (for Rex)? Wow...

I admire Aaron Rodgers, and the way he remains upbeat & in a good mood throughout the game no matter what - I don't see it as a "smirk." Go Green Bay!

OldCarFudd 7:48 AM  

I'm in the demographic (age 74) that finds this kind of joke very funny, since it hits so close to home. So I liked the puzzle.

ArtLvr 7:58 AM  

Ugh! The solving was easy enough, but the joke didn't hang together. The diploma would have had a date on it as well as the school's name, unless it was in numbers too small for the woman to read. Did I mention being literal-minded?

That said, I liked the SOO, though I think we usually refer to it in the singular, plus a rhyming MATSU which I remembered paired with Quemoy but will have to look up why! Our Rome in NY made me smile, as we also have a Cairo (pronouced Kayro). Fingers crossed for the fate of the original Cairo...

@ Noam D, just as well we were spared your "nice" alternatives Pyruvate and Lycurgus! (If you had the MURRA__ it wasn't so hard to see the Y in ELYSE?
Like Rex, I was working on the Downs and never saw the NAS. Nasty...


captcha -- ouffish,that's what I'm feeling!

JaxInL.A. 9:01 AM  

@NDE, I completely agree that the SW 5x3 stack of proper names is a stinker, and I know nothing of golf or rodeo, but can you seriously feel that "Lycurgus" is an improvement? Not only is he more obscure than the current 3 combined, but he's a pretty bleak figure when you look him up.

(from LYKOURGOS (or Lycurgus) was an impious king of the Edonians of Thrace who attacked Dionysos when the god was travelling through his land instructing men in the art of winemaking or, in another version of the tale, while the god was still a child in the care of the Nymphs of Mount Nysa. As the troupe fled, Lykourgos struck down the god's nurse Ambrosia with his axe. The rest of the party dived into the sea where they were given refuge by the goddess Thetis.

As punishment for his crime, Lykourgos was inflicted with madness and in this crazed state slew his wife and sons. His own death followed quickly after:--some say that he chopped off his own feet with an axe before killing himself; others that he was struck blind and, being scorned by all, died in destitution; or that he was torn apart by his own horses; or devoured by the panthers of the god; or wrapped in strangling vines and despatched to Haides for eternal torment.


mmorgan 9:08 AM  

I guess this becomes at best mildly humorous for folks in that demographic. (Like the good doctor, I also graduated from high school in 1971). But the 'joke' filled itself in so easily that the rest of the solve was, well, strange.

I had ECO for ESO at 47A, thinking for some reason that it was referring to the Spanish word for "echo" (What's that, Jose?), and that VICA must be some plastic company I didn't know. Also didn't have the N in the MUON/NAS cross (who they?).

I actually loved seeing RADNOR in there -- a long story, but a gimme for me.

(@retired_chemist -- never even saw REWED till I read your comment.)

Unknown 9:23 AM  

'Wow, I am surprised that this puzzle would have ARROWMAN for one who is in cuffs! How many people will know that? Yay for me!'

Wrong-o! Answer was ARRESTEE.

Wot? LARAMIE is not a Midwest capital? It's LANSING? D'oh!

joho 9:57 AM  

It was definitely easy, breezy and amusing to me. After the punchline I wrote "Ouch!" in the margin. It was more fun than if she'd walked into an insurance office and he tried to sell her a Colonial Penn policy, don't you think?

Greene 10:04 AM  

Just did not enjoy this puzzle at all. The joke is stale and the fill was just so so. I dutifully filled it all in, but there was no joy in this puzzle for me at all. Well, other than the fact that I filled it in on my new MacBook Pro. That is one sweet machine. Wish I had christened it with this week's Friday or Saturday puzzle which I enjoyed thoroughly.

I suppose I can't say a puzzle with two Stephen Sondheim references is all bad. It's hard to believe that I saw "Passion" 17 years ago, because the memory still seems so fresh. Many of my theatre friends hate this piece and find it false and artificial. I found it extremely moving and painfully honest; the notion of a handsome young man falling in love with a hideous crone who is able to teach him that true love is not about exterior beauty struck many as ludicrous, but as presented by Sondheim was absolutely thrilling.

Consider this song fragment:

For now I'm seeing love
Like none I've ever known,
A love as pure as breath,
As permanent as death,
Implacable as stone.

Theatre lyrics just don't get any better than this.

Or this scene, where Fosca explains her "impossible love." It's just completely gorgeous.

And I've rambled again. Thanks again to Rex, as always, for putting up with my theatrical musings.

Now, back to the puzzle.

Areawoman 10:16 AM  

I actually enjoy jokes and quotes embedded in puzzles (which is why I love Merle Reagle puzzles. It's adds a reward for solving the puzzle and gives justification for obscure words or difficult cluing. The metas on Matt Gaffney's puzzles are a weekly favorite as well giving you extra brain play in the puzzle and makes you try to figure out why every word went where. But I am not a speed solver so I get to luxuriate in nuances of each puzzle.

chefbea 10:21 AM  

Thank goodness for a fast easy puzzle today!! Have lots to do before kick-off

DrGaellon 10:25 AM  

I keep my high school diploma on my wall... but I graduated from an internationally-famous honors high school in New York (the Bronx High School of Science). It's probably a more prestigious diploma than my baccalaureate.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

ArtLvr - good point re: 45D. I live in Michigan, and am familiar with the Soo LOCKS (plural), but they're all part of a single canal.

Noam D. Elkies 11:11 AM  

@JaxInLA: Yes, I maintain that Lycurgus would be way better than Ty Murray, let alone Ty plus Tway. There were several people called Lycurgus in ancient Greek history and/or mythology, but I was thinking of the "Legendary lawgiver of Sparta, who established the military-oriented reformation of Spartan society in accordance with the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi" as Wikipedia puts it.

(And even if it were a "bleak figure", we've seen Cain and Judas and even Adolf in the grid, plus 45 instances of Satan Himself, so one more would do little harm.)

I realize that "pyruvate" is a controversial choice, but I for one would prefer to see more such real words in the puzzle, and less of the plague of proper names plucked from the inexhaustible miasma of pap/sportz culture. I found "disaccharide" delicious when it appeared in a Sunday grid three years ago.

And yes, of course I was able to fill in that final Y at EL?SE/TYMURRA?, but that's Y as in Yucko!


JC66 11:50 AM  

I liked this one.

Also think RADNOR would be a NEON for the patient, the doctor and the rest of us of a certain age ( I'm 71).

archaeoprof 12:07 PM  

What @Joho said: easy, breezy, and amusing.

I must be getting older, because I laughed at the joke. So did non-puzzle wife.

@Rex: sooner than you think, you will find jokes like this funny :)

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

My wife, a physician and a proud BHSS grad, says the doctor would have her chart with her birth date in front of him. He would know her age. He was just being mean and therefore unfunny.

foodie 12:27 PM  

@Dr. Gaellon, I would do that as well if I had gone to the Bronx High School of Science! I learned about it when my son became a finalist in the Westinghouse Award competition. So many people from your school have won that prize! And, in turn, that predicted Presidential Medals, Nobel Prizes and similar accomplishments. There are a few such places in the country. I wish there were more.

@Noam D. Elkies, in the same vein, I completely agree about the preference for real words like pyruvate over proper nouns. And if Rex makes it the word of the day, then it would be an opportunity to learn a scientific tidbit for the NYTimes puzzle audience. Perfect!

I laughed at your "REWED, yes that's an ugly word; it looks like somebody left off the beginning of "screwed"."

So many layers of meaning!

fikink 1:16 PM  

Let me second (third?) @foodie and @Noam in their preference for real words that would lead me to the dictionary.
@Greene, saw PASSION in today's puzzle and anticipated your appearance here today. Put me in the column of those who very much liked PASSION. After seeing it, much searching for Donna Murphy, beyond guest appearances on reruns of Law and Order, occurred.
The puzzle was sloggier for me than for FIL who, at 90, cackled a time or two.

matt 1:30 PM  

Josh RADNOR is the star of "How I Met Your Mother". But then, why use a current pop culture reference when you could reference a random town in Pennsylvania with a population of 30,000?

Obviously I'm not in the age group targeted by this puzzle.

ArtLvr 2:05 PM  

Okay @NDE, foodie and fikink: you've swayed me toward the real-word side, even with pyruvate and Lycurgus. I too appreciate learning moments!

@anon 12:15, loved it that your wife pointed out the chart that had to be in front of the doctor.

@Greene, I always enjoy your B'way recollections...

@ACME, if you are around -- don't miss today's puzzle from the Boston Globe. 'Nuf said.


retired_chemist 2:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
SethG 2:29 PM  

Ha. ha. Tee. hee.

1971, so they're what, like 58? That's so old. And if she thought he was much too old to have been her classmate, I wonder if she thought he was, like, 70? I mean, I'm balding and I'm, like, 38. At least I'm not average looking.

241 minutes 'til game time.

quilter1 2:30 PM  

Had Lincoln before LANSING. I think Laramie would be a western capital. I enjoyed the joke, even picked apart as it has been. Because...I had coffee with my brother and, preparing to leave the cafe lot I looked in the rear view mirror and thought, as soon as that old guy gets past I can back out. Then I realized the old guy was my baby brother.
Hand up for finishing thw SW last. Don't know golf or rodeo, but got them from crosses.
Wow! Don't pick on the little wine god! As a wine lover I think I know why the folklore was so hard on Lywhatever.
captcha: pence. What I have left over after property taxes.

Steve J 2:34 PM  

Count me amongst those not part of this puzzle's target. Maybe the joke gets funnier a bit later on, but apparently it falls flat when one's 40ish.

Don't count me amongst those who found this easy. I struggled with this one for some reason, and I had to resort to Googling things, when I'm normally Google-free on a Sunday. Had a giant hole in the NW because I wasn't getting the joke, and none of the downs were coming to me. Even after googling Sondheim, I still don't recognize PASSION. Also had to dig up RADNOR in order to break into Minnesota.

SW was tough as well. Got TWAY, but TYMMURRAI looks no more absurd to me than TYMMURRAY, and I had no idea how Mrs Keaton spelled her name, since they tend not to write out characters' names a lot on TV.

Lots of missteps as well: Had LAMER in for a long time at 73A (I see Debussy in a crossword, and his most-famous work is filled in reflexively), QUE instead of ESO at 47A and YEAS instead of AYES at 52A. Made for a long solve.

retired_chemist 2:37 PM  

@ ArtLvr - Formosa (now Taiwan)/Quemoy/Matsu were a big deal when I was in school. The skirmishing between the PRC and the ROC started in 1950. I remember a Weekly Reader in sixth grade which had a map and tried to explain it all to elementary school students. An armed crisis between the PRC and the ROC developed in 1954-55. If you are of a certain age perhaps this is what you are almost remembering.

Steve J 2:37 PM  

@christelb_devlin & @quilter1: LARAMIE definitely would not be a Midwestern capital. Nor western. Wyoming's capital is Cheyenne.

retired_chemist 2:47 PM  

D'oh re LANSING, which I have flown into a half dozen or more times. Had LA_R_NG (the R from REEL) and stared at that for far too long before the light dawned. Do NOT tell my Michiganian wife it wasn't a gimme.

thebro730 2:56 PM  

My non-puzzler wife rolled her eyes at the joke. Of course this is the same woman who asks me occasionally for a clue. One Sunday it was, "OK, 6 letters, Biblical strongman", to which she immediately blurted out, "Fred Sanford"...Another Sunday it was "Like cats in a Disney Movie"...(Lady and the Tramp- "Siamese"); not hesitating for a second she yelled, "The King and I"!! I usually hit the "hard stuff" right after I finish the puzzles......

Leah 2:58 PM  

Rex ... your youth is showing ... the joke wasn't that she was old and unattractive ... rather Both she and the doctor were seeing each other through the memory lens of high school ... Also for oldsters the Kennedy-Nixon debates heated up on RMN's assertion he would (unlike JFK) go to war with china over defending the islands Quemoy and Matsu ... if you check the met opera this sat, you'll see RMN didn't go to war with china, he just went to china ... thanks

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

Leah ... your oldness is showing ... did you miss the punchline?

Stan 3:23 PM  

I liked the joke and enjoyed the puzzle. QED. Rex is correct that if you don't like the joke much, it's not going to be a lot of fun.

Struggled with JUST AVERAGE LOOKING (I thought it would start JUST AS and thought AGE would be a complete word).

Did not see the last word coming and got it from crosses -- which was perfect.

quilter1 3:29 PM  

Oh, yeah, I had La Mer for the Debussy clue, too.

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

@Leah - I know what you meant and agree.

@Chefwen -- I'm rooting for Da Bears today regardless of whether they are playing or not or whether Cutler is wearing his Depends or not....

r.alphbunker 4:04 PM  

gimmes (no crosses needed):

freebies (all crosses):

answer evolutions:

I saw the joke as a pun on the word "class" and didn't dig any deeper than that.

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

Perhaps Rex's youth is showing, but for me it's because of "Matsu." A real gimme to anyone who lived through the 60's. One of the great cold-war crises of the decade was the long-term communist shelling of the Nationalist Chinese islands Quemoy and Matsu.

As for that diploma, the text of the joke does not state that it's a high school diploma. Just a diploma. I assume it's a medical school diploma. It bears the same name as her old high school crush, which is why she asks if he attended her high school. In fact, if it had been his high school diploma, she wouldn't have needed to ask!

Eric Halsey

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

Gestern Iwo Jima, heute Matsu, morgen die welt!

Anonymous 4:57 PM  

Once again, I had a gimmie because of a They Might Be Giants song:

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

For me this was a rather easy Sunday puzzle. Solved most of it before going to Google to get ISHAM, MATSU, TWAY, TY MURRAY, ENSOR and a couple of others. With these entries I was able to finish the puzzle to the last letter.
Things that slowed me down were putting BONDAGE instead of PEONAGE in 2D, EAT AT instead of NAG AT 46D and putting TRAIL or TRACE instead of TRACK in 33D.
The theme joke is quite offensive to my taste and not funny at all.

Unknown 5:52 PM  

I don't know if I should be embarressed or proud that I knew RADNOR, PA.

Sparky 8:26 PM  

The joke is old. First line for me stuck at TO the ....DOCTOR so that corner a hole. EMU meat? Yuk. Small holes here and there. First que at 47A then EcO. Missed TW.Y and the rodeo guy. Sort of a slog. Thurs., Fri., and Sat. managed only about helf of each. Sigh.

Well, that's some show The Black Eyed Peas put on. I liked Prince and I suppose it's too much to hope for Lyle Lovett and His Large Band?

Jim 10:42 PM  

Wow. Had to do this in three parts today. First two got me lower two thirds, and I was gonna give up. Came back one more time to finish it and, to my amazement, no wrong letters. That PEONAGE/PASSION/ALTERED (had AmendED) area was a disaster, along with ARAL/GAGA/AGES/OSAGES. Once I got the first two theme answers in their entirety, nothing else made sense (not that these did either, but at least it was the right combination of vowels and consonants to make word-like structures.

Ugh. Exhausting. And hardly worth the payoff. But I'm still in brussels sprouts mode when it comes to late week puzzles, so I suppose I'm hoping the investment begins to pay off in a reduction in time. But when???

Prefer INDICES over the alternative (and just wrong) indexes...ultimately a safe bet since this was not a "seven-letter word starting with X" kind of a day.

Ridiculous note of the day that demonstrates my struggle with this puzzle: I had birdMEAT for 19A for WAY too long..."Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?"

Jim 10:42 PM  

Wow. Had to do this in three parts today. First two got me lower two thirds, and I was gonna give up. Came back one more time to finish it and, to my amazement, no wrong letters. That PEONAGE/PASSION/ALTERED (had AmendED) area was a disaster, along with ARAL/GAGA/AGES/OSAGES. Once I got the first two theme answers in their entirety, nothing else made sense (not that these did either, but at least it was the right combination of vowels and consonants to make word-like structures.

Ugh. Exhausting. And hardly worth the payoff. But I'm still in brussels sprouts mode when it comes to late week puzzles, so I suppose I'm hoping the investment begins to pay off in a reduction in time. But when???

Prefer INDICES over the alternative (and just wrong) indexes...ultimately a safe bet since this was not a "seven-letter word starting with X" kind of a day.

Ridiculous note of the day that demonstrates my struggle with this puzzle: I had birdMEAT for 19A for WAY too long..."Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?"

chefbea 10:55 PM  

All the chili is gone!!! Nary a drop left. What a game!!

Octavian 1:05 AM  

Very weird week for me --

Breezed through the Friday and Saturday puzzles ... but DNF'd on Thursday and Sunday, which are usually a walk in the park.

Just was not on this puzzle's wavelength and did not even enjoy one square of it. Found not one iota of clue or fill likeable.

Two big thumbs and one fat emu down.

Miss Riggy 12:34 PM  

When you are in your sixties, you really start to look older, but you don't feel old. This joke really captures the phenomenon. I think most sixty-somethings have experienced this little shocker in one form or another. Here both parties are guilty of the same mistake, even though only one gets zinged. Very funny for a select audience!!

william e emba 4:47 PM  

I will disagree with Rex characterizing RADNOR as some random Pennsylvania town. It's part of the Main Line, and as such has automatic cachet.

I admit to being completely biased, since for me it was a superduper personal gimme. I grew up in the area, went to school in the area, and still visit the area rather frequently. As a bonus, I even once job interviewed at TV Guide in RADNOR, apropos this clue.

On the other hand, other Main Line towns have made it into crosswords over the years. Bryn Mawr, being the home of a famous women's college, seems to provide half its name regularly without comment. Devon was in the puzzle very recently. I've seen Paoli in non-NYT puzzles--but it seems to be clued after the man the town was named for, apparently the second most famous Corsican ever. I don't recall seeing Villanova, but they are of course nationally famous.

nurturing 7:01 PM  

63 years old here and LOVED this puzzle. Took me a lot less time than 2 hours, too! No googling, some giggling! (Laugh all you want, you 20-minutes-or-die solvers - I'll bet you don't enjoy doing these puzzles as much as I do!)

Thanks for a lovely Monday (which is when our Sunday Times is delivered). It's what got me out of bed in the morning - the thought of the NYT Magazine waiting for me. Then hubby taunted me by bringing it into the bedroom and holding it hostage as he read the last page!

sblumert 5:51 PM  

It was not his high school diploma on the wall. It was his medical diploma, whose display is standard for doctors. It bore the same name as her high school classmate.

David Pearce 10:20 PM  

Dear Rex,

Thanks for being tolerant of those who like the joke: I am one! To me this is the "essence of joke", i.e., the complete surprise answer comes out at the end.

It's the "Gift of the Magi" in a new setting--each person is expecting the other to be so different.

On another topic, as I have said, I'm not a good or true Puzzler, but I am losing some interest, because it seems that the Monday-Tuesday puzzles are just too easy, while the Thursday-Saturday puzzles have become just infernal. Thoughts?

Thanks, Rex.

Anonymous 3:39 AM  

Er, Rex, the joke is that they are BOTH old and unattractive.

Puzzle generally easy, other than that TWAY/TY section, which had me flummoxed.

BobbyF 8:58 AM  

Were it not for the ease of figuring out the verbal exchange, the solution of the puzzle, overall, would have been a lot more time-consuming. I leaned on the dialogue for support rather heavily. In the end, I missed only once, on the “muon”/”nas” handshake.
Overall, a fun exercise, thanks to an engaging dialogue with an entertaining ending.

Dirigonzo 1:17 PM  

@Nurturing pretty much summed up my solving experience, so I'll add only that it was nice to see LLBEAN appear at 74a since the company headquarters and flagship store are in my home town. (You might think this would dramatically reduce my property tax bill, but sadly it doesn't.)

Fully expected to see much more crowing or crying here at the outcome of last week's Superbowl, but I guess by the time the game was over everybody had moved on to Monday's puzzle which I won't see for 4 more weeks (such is the time warp in syndication.)

Marc 10:31 PM  

I'm not a big fan of quote-themed puzzles, but this one was actually a challenge for me. Of course I could tell where the joke was going but I had a hard time filling in the beginning, so I danced around it filling in crosses and the first line of the joke came last.

I generally object to golfers or tennis players being included, but rodeo stars ... well, that's going too far. :) Combine a rodeo star with not one but two golfers ...
let's just hope that david j. kahn someday has to solve a puzzle based on a detailed knowledge of the personnel changes of Fleetwood Mac, or the family relationships of the Julio-Claudian Emperors. That's the kind of thing I know about.

rawcer 2:03 AM  

Woohoo, this pen-on-newspaper doer finally cracked forty minutes on the Sunday puzzle. Pretty soon I'll make the farm league, then I'll only have Class A, Double A, and Triple A to battle through to make the bigs. (Fat chance.)

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Here in Texas, we get the Sunday crosswords a week late, so I didn't do this until yesterday. Although most of it was easy, I had trouble with "just average looking" for a little while. I'm a 70 year old woman, and the joke is funny because you never think you look old yourself until you see someone your age who does - you'll get there! And she just got the name from the diploma - it didn't say it was a high school diploma. Thanks - I love your site!

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