Five-time world champion figure skater Carol / MON 2-28-11 / One of four singing brothers of 1950s / Nonmusical Abba / Fashion style setter Wintour

Monday, February 28, 2011

Constructor: Mike Buckley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: *A*A — four theme answers begin with "xAxA" word (where x is a variable); also, four different xAxA words can be found in the Across answers in each of the four corners

Word of the Day: Carol HEISS (64A: Five-time world champion figure skater Carol) —

Carol Elizabeth Heiss Jenkins (born January 20, 1940 in New York City) is an American figure skater. She is the 1960 Olympic Champion in Ladies Singles, 1956 Olympic silver medalist and five-time World Champion (1956-1960). [...] Following her retirement from figure skating in 1960, Heiss played the female lead in the 1961 film Snow White and the Three Stooges. (wikipedia)
• • •

I am trying to write this while watching — and tweeting non-stop about — the Oscars. Not easy. So this puzzle ... a kicky little number. More Tuesday (or easy Wednesday) for me (time in the high 3s). Very name-heavy, with somewhat toughish cluing throughout (e.g. MALTA clued 28D: Its coat of arms has a cross, but no falcon). There were also at least two answers I've *never* seen before: Cindy HEISS (???) and RATED A (!?!) (5D: First-class). Is that last one a bond thing? I now of nothing that is RATED A (certainly none of the papers I'm grading right now, zing!). Holy crud, Celine Dion is singing Happy Birthday at me. I don't care if it's for The American Cancer Society, it's torture. See this is what happens when I blog with the TV on. Argh. Between the unknown answers and TIES UP for TIE-UPS, I had issues (45D: Gridlocks). I also did a total face-plant while trying to spell ELLLLLIOTTTTT (how many Ls, how many Ts?). Theme density probably had something to do with the somewhat unMondayish fill. But whatever. So it belongs on a different day? So what? It's still good. I do miss RARA, WAWA, and PAPA. Also, NANA seems not to fit that well, as that first "A" is flat, like the vowel sound in "MA'AM," unlike the first "A" in all the other *A*A words.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: "Till next time!" ("TATA FOR NOW!")
  • 26A: "Heavyweight" of 1960s folk/pop (MAMA CASS ELLIOT)
  • 43A: Group in a hit 2002 film with "divine secrets" (YAYA SISTERHOOD)
  • 56A: Liquor-soaked cake (BABA AU RHUM)
  • also, GAGA, DADA, NANA, and HAHA

Catnip is a LURE (39A: What catnip is to a cat)? If I want to LURE my cat anywhere, I just open a can—any can. Catnip = DRUG. I'm not sure I ever knew "ANTZ" was set in Central Park (47A: Animated 1998 film set in Central Park)—maybe I'm confusing it with "A Bug's Life." Why did I think Wintour's first name was EDNA (11D: Fashion style-setter Wintour=>ANNA)? I needed a clue for ELI, and I think I may have found one (25D: Automaker Ransom Eli=>OLDS). Puzzle would have been much tougher if I hadn't had much crossword experience (against my will) with Mr. ED AMES (46D: One of four singing brothers of the 1950s). Crossing HEISS? Yipes. IDED = [Point at 46-Down]. So weird-looking... EBON EBAN! (51D: Nonmusical Abba) The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


retired_chemist 12:15 AM  

Challenging - about 3 minutes slower than a good Monday for me. Nice theme, nice execution.

1A was a lot of stuff before it was correct - NUTS, BATS, considered LOCO. 10A was SIRE - misread the clue as father OF a baby. Got the theme at YA YA SISTERHOOD after GAGA emerged, and then all started falling into place.

Do not recall OPAH as a sashimi/sushi fish, but it is. Apparently a recent (1980s-90s) addition to the menu, acc. to Wikipedia. I had thought OPAH were smallish, aquarium-sized tropical fish. No. They are HUGE. I imagine their ROE would impress even WADE.

Like Rex, never heard of Carol HEISS.

Thanks, Mr. Buckley.

Rube 12:33 AM  

Like @R_C don't think of OPAH as sushi or sashimi grade fish. I have grilled a fair amount of opah and it is excellent, but never wanted it raw.

Yes, this was a tough Monday. had lots of open space after my first time thru. Most unusual for a Monday. As Mondays go, I'd grade this challenging.

Never heard of the YAYASISTERHOOD, but that's not unusual. Misread the clue for SLIMS as "Successful diets". Had writeover at 13D, but too embarassed to talk about it. Also, wanted Silent Night, but it wouldn't fit and I couldn't erase the ink... made a mess.

Thought the theme was a bit weak albeit dense. Loved to see Mama Cass again and wanted something close to NYMPHETS, but it probably would not have passed the morning sensors.

Saw the last half hour of the Oscars. Apparently the 3 majors went as predicted. Ho hum.

Anonymous 12:38 AM  

Baba au rhum? Never heard of it. Baba O'Riley would have made me happier.

lit.doc 3:48 AM  

Really nice Tuesday puzzle. Four long and four short theme answers—slick. But it took me a good minute longer than usual, though I’m not sure why [addendum: Rex’s comments cleared that up, as usual].

Only thing even close to a glitch was initially betting on 60A EELS, though the Downs quickly fixed that. But, speaking of which, isnt the clue for 51D redundant? And, @Rex, me too re trying to spell Eliot, even with her vinyl sitting on my shelf.

Otherwise, was only surprised that, on Monday, the clue for 49D didn’t include
“poetically” or “to [poet of choice]”.

Favorite clue was the allusion to The Maltese Falcon at 28D.

Greene 4:12 AM  

I worked the puzzle absentmindedly last evening while snoozing through the soporific Oscar broadcast. Probably not a good idea since this puzzle was tougher than most Mondays and actually required some concentration to complete.

The baby-talk theme was fun, but I got in trouble in the lower mid-southern portion of the puzzle. Did not know HEISS and always have trouble spelling BABA AU RHUM. Did not help that I wanted one of the EVERLY brothers instead of ED AMES so that part of the puzzle was a mess.

All sorted out in the end, but I was repeatedly distracted by the sheer awfulness of the Oscar broadcast. James Franco appeared completely stoned and the lovely Anne Hathaway was simply in over her head. No amount of smiling is going to save you when you're saddled with that kind of deadly material. Thank God Billy Crystal finally showed up with some jokes.

Sorry, I know, this is a crossword blog. I'll shut up now.

CaseAce 8:00 AM  

The pic appended in the blog of ANNA @11D, lends credence to WINTOUR of her discontent.
The Buckley stops here for my DOREMI with a Challenging start to the week!

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Had no trouble finishing this one, but got several answers only by getting all the crosses - never heard of HEISS or BABA AU RHUM. The latter looked like it had to be wrong, but I was certain of the crosses.

Don't care for IDED at all.

Rex, I guess 63A could have been clued with a reference to Sha Na Na to make it match the rest of the theme answers phonetically.

efrex 9:03 AM  

Not knowing ED AMES or Carol HEISS gave me a most irritating Monday Natick. Other than that, and some repetitive cluing on the fill (LADY and MAAM), I thought this was a most impressive Monday work. I have no problems with IDED or any other contraction, but ATWT *is* a bit clumsy.

The theme density is fantastic, although I'm going to wind up addressing all my colleagues in baby talk for the rest of the day...

chefbea 9:10 AM  

I agree with Rex..more Tuesdayish. Of course I knew Baba au ruhm. Baba Booey could have been in the puzzle. Boy has he been in the Greenwich Ct. news

joho 9:21 AM  

TATAFORNOW doesn't really need the FORNOW does it? TATA will do. I'm probably just cranky from lack of sleep.

Loved YAYASISTERHOOD. Along with TATA, MAMA, YAYA, BABA, GAGA, DADA, NANA and HAHA I forced in LAH(DI)DAH, YA(MA)HA and TA(N)YA. Quite an ambitious theme for a Monday ... or any day, especially filling in all four corners.

Thanks, Mike Buckley!

Dory Kornfeld 9:27 AM  

I think you're confusing Anna Wintour with Edna, fashion designer to The Incredibles

quilter1 9:32 AM  

I loved it. I guess I was on the constructor's wave length because I just slid on through top to bottom. Loved the cute theme. I remember Carol Heiss and even the Stooges movie. She was more or less the second skating superstar after Sonja Heinie.

For those who don't know Baba au Rhum it is a dense cake soaked in rum flavored syrup, decadent.

We watched Masterpiece Theater last night--the Oscars are a waste of everything.

Lindsay 9:40 AM  

Liked it a lot. Started in the SE with Ms. Heiss, Mr. Ames, and the cake. All of which ring bells, but none of which I could suss out from the clues, particularly Ames, whose name ends in an "s" even though he is but "ONE of four singing brothers."

Found the sailing more Mondayesque toward the top.

So thumbs up. I'll check back later to see how the jails v. prisons reprise is coming along.

Sparky 10:07 AM  

Enjoyed it, got it right off with TATA and DADA. Many other AH sounds around; OSHA, NAPA, YAMAHA. And RATED A could be considered a revealer. I don't remember HEISS but the downs gave it. Off to agood start. Monday, Monday for sure. Thanks Rex.

Oscars deadly. Smart move @Quilteri.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

I loved it, esp. with 59A. I never realized that "Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats" sort of makes sense, though I needed wikipedia to understand the whole song; and the borderline nonsensicality of the song was just right for the borderline nonsensicality of the tatas, babas et lalalias of the puzzle.
- Abu Owlfish

mac 10:16 AM  

A Monday with bite, wonderful. Lots of little crosswordese, but I liked the YaYa Sisterhood (nice book), the baba au rhum (called rum baba in English) and Mama Cass Elliot.

I was sure this was going to be a pangram, but the q and x are missing.

JaxInL.A. 10:19 AM  

I had to go thru Hollywood near the Kodak Theatre yesterday on the way home from Hebrew school. Security and road closures made it look like a major international summit, and I had to go miles out of the way to get past it.  Watched the Oscars but thought Franco and Hathaway were a bit too cute much of the time.  And how come she had to change clothes so often but he kept on the same suit? Rex tweeter nonstop through the Oscars? Have to check that out, once i figure out how.

Today's puzzle gave me a rare case of positive arexia. Pretty smooth, solving mostly the downs.  But, well, it's all relative, isn't it? I took a good bit longer than Rex's 3 minutes, but for me it was quick and fun.

Maybe the NANA pronounciation is a regional thing. We say it to rhyme with all the other theme answers in the puzzle, not with that funny flat a like I hear in the east.

archaeoprof 10:31 AM  

TANYA Tucker! Country music in the NYT puzzle! It's going to be a good day.

balto 10:35 AM  

I really liked this one -- I got the theme quickly, and knowing it helped me a lot. But essentially I DNFed because of the ED AMES / HEISS / BABA AU RHUM crosses -- never have heard of any of these.

JenCT 10:39 AM  

Had ATNO before ATWT for 13d; EVERLY before EDAMES for 46d.

Otherwise, fun puzzle.

Who'll be at the ACPT this year? Looking forward to meeting some of you.

Two Ponies 10:41 AM  

Very nice. I love Monday puzzles that make me think.
Favorites clues: conniptions and the coat of arms, as noted above, b/c of the reference to the Maltese Falcon was clever.
My huhs were the skater and ABBA member. I thought the letters in ABBA were the initials of the singers for some reason.

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

Oh, I get it, it's Abba Eban.

Shamik 10:57 AM  

Excellent medium-challenging Monday puzzle. Is this a debut? It was a good one. I thought my extra time was because the husband was interrupting me and I lost seconds stopping and starting the clock a couple of times.

James But I seem to be the only one on the planet who enjoyed watching the Oscars. I like looking at the glamour one night out of the year. I like people having a moment of victory. Winning an Oscar is a big deal. Am thinking people expect more out of the Oscar broadcast than it warrants. And then I get to add far more movies to my movies to see before I die list than I have life in which to see them.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:05 AM  

Am I the only one who hesitated at 57D/64A, thinking UGG/GEISS was not out of the question?

mmorgan 11:06 AM  

A Monday and a half -- at least -- and that's a very good thing. Didn't notice the *A*A pattern -- now that I do, the four corners are really nifty!

I was trying to put in BABA RUM CAKE (that's what I thought it was called) and was delighted that what I put in was right, despite my trepidations.

A very lively and engaging and satisfying Monday -- yum!

SethG 11:11 AM  

I don't like rum or cake. I like sashimi. I like the Oscars, though I didn't see last night's and haven't looked at the best/worst dressed galleries yet. I had a nan-a, not a nuh-nuh.

Was "Heavyweight" a reference to a particular song or just a fat joke?

Laura Nyro 11:22 AM  

Re clue for ELI - What's wrong with "He's coming"?

Sarah Lee 11:23 AM  

@SethG - OMG! Someone doesn't like me!

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

If Mama Cass hadn't made fun of herself I would say the joke was cruel. Yes, @ SethG, I think it was a fat joke.

JaxInL.A. 11:50 AM  

@SethG, if you watch the nifty video Rex posted of the Mamas and the Papas, you can see that even by today's augmented standards, Cass Elliott was hefty.

I loved that song, but I wish they didn't use lip-syncing so predictably in TV of the era. Even if they could have done the echo and other voice processing live at the time, (I don't think they could), there's no tambourine or keyboard on the stage despite their audible presence in the soundtrack.

And I liked the Oscars.

SethG 12:09 PM  

I know she was big, I'm just wondering about cluing her that way. I've never seen anything like [Obese Oscar snubber] for Brando, or ["Big" name in TV talk] for Oprah.

Sara(h), I miss the old you, back when you made bras and underwear and floor cleaners and shoe polish and insecticide. At least you still make sausage.

Stan 12:10 PM  

There was an amiable goofiness to all the pre-linguistic vocalization.

The "Nonmusical Abba" clue had me thinking sonnets.

Orange 12:43 PM  

My sister and I called our great-grandma "Nana," pronounced "non-uh." Our cousin called the same woman "Nana," pronounced "nan-uh." Pretty sure my cousin and Rex are just WRONG. :-)

Matthew G. 12:50 PM  

I'm surprised that Rex rated this anything other than straight-up Challenging. I cannot recall a harder Monday, ever.

I'm no proper name hater, but this puzzle just had waaay too many of them and they were almost all obscure. I've never heard of ED AMES, Carol HEISS, ANNA Wintour, or TANYA Tucker. Surely there are better Monday clues for ANNA and TANYA, at the very least.

But the biggest un-Mondayish thing today was BABA AU RHUM. I have _never_ heard of this confection. I got most of the crosses, of course, but since I didn't know ED AMES either, I finished with EDA_E_ and could go no further. So I gave up with two empty squares, and was actually convinced that some part of BABAAURHU_ had to be wrong. When I came here and discovered that my grid was correct but it really was that obscure, I was speechless.

I cannot for the life of me understand why this puzzle was published on a Monday.

mmorgan 1:05 PM  

[psst -- @MatthewG -- I don't have the Directory -- you can find my email on my profile here. Yay Pei dorms....]

miriam b 1:08 PM  

The Oscars are an embarrassment, especially when actors, who are usually most comfortable when pretending to be other people, try so hard to be articulate.

If any of my grandchildren ever try to call me NANA, regardless of pronunciation, I'll have to have a seious talk with their parents. I'm Grandma Mimi to all of them, and that suits me fine.

This was a fun puzzle, and really not difficult, IMHO.

Moonchild 2:00 PM  

My goodness, I must have seriously overslept! Like by at least 24 hours. I finished just fine but it was not a typical Monday at all.
I hope this was not the day someone said, "Today I will try the NYT puzzle, I hear they are easiest on Mondays."
Great theme.
I know a greek lady whose grandkids call her Yaya.
I don't recognize the constructor.
Debut? If so then double congrats.

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

You will recall in Peter Pan, the dog was called Nana - as in nan-uh - and I'm one too and I love it. Besides my name is Ann and it's similar.

Have to confess U had a write-over at 26 down - where I confidently put Dame to Sir's counterpart. It fitted beautifully too. Obviously I'm an alien!

retired_chemist 2:33 PM  

Hand up for EVERLY, until I remembered there were only two of them. ED AMES finds his way into crossword puzzles with reasonable frequency and so is worth knowing.

Jim 3:10 PM  

An absolute outrage. Even before reaching the bottom, the hardest Monday I have EVER seen. Never heard of EDAMES or BABAAURHUM. BABAORILEY would've been much better and at least would have allowed me to FINISH THE GODDAMN THING! Outrageous.

madmenlost 3:14 PM  

@SethG: Cass Elliot was sometimes billed as 'Big Mama Cass', so it could be a reference to that moniker.

sanfranman59 3:14 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 8:16, 6:55, 1.20, 97%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:26, 3:42, 1.20, 98%, Challenging

Definitely a challenging Monday. It felt like a Tuesday to me as I was solving last evening and the numbers bear this out. These solve times would rate as an Easy-Medium/Medium Tuesday.

John V 3:15 PM  

@Jim, LOL :)

mac 3:17 PM  

Who in the world is Baba O'Reilly?;-)

Jim 3:28 PM  

Mac: it's the Who song. I don't know 'who' it is, though, or even if it is a 'who'.

Look Up Guy 3:56 PM  

•"Baba O'Riley" is a song by the English rock band The Who, written by Pete Townshend. Roger Daltrey sings most of the song, with Pete Townshend singing the middle eight: "Don't cry/don't raise your eye/it's only teenage wasteland". ...'Reilly

7thecow 4:00 PM  

I remember ED AMES from this great Carson visit
This felt like a Monday puzzle for me, my big problem being the NW where I forgot to read the down clues first time through. Sleep/Step OVER gave me some odd downs to correct at the end.

chefwen 4:02 PM  

Google Ed Ames on Johnny Carson, you will see one of the funniest clips ever of him throwing a Tomahawk.

Loved this one, also caught on with DADA and TATA. Got HEISS using downs and I love BABA AU RHUM. Only one write over with JEST over joke

chefwen 4:04 PM  

@7thecow - Guess we were posting at the same time, similar minds think alike!

Clark 4:15 PM  

@chefwen -- Don't be shy. That's 'great' minds.

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

Is it Wednesday? Certainly today's puzzle had a feel of a Wednesday puzzle. I have done Mondays in 12-13 minutes but this one I was still slogging at it after 30 minutes. So this one must qualify as one of the most challenging Mondays I can remember. Just too many proper names for a theme in my opinion to make it less than enjoyable.
Had some blanks in the center right area but a couple of Googles helped fill them. Had BABA AU RHUM but read it as BABAA URHUM (?). Have not heard of either of them. Did not know YAYA SISTERHOOD either. And TATA FOR NOW is not an expression I have ever heard being used.
All in all a lame theme.

Matthew G. 4:26 PM  

For the record, I've reached the point where I almost always complete Mondays in under five minutes. And I couldn't even _finish_ this one. It wasn't so much that it was hard in the sense of taking an inordinately long time as it was hard in the sense of having way too many crossing you-either-know-it-or-you-don't answers for a Monday puzzle. I could have kept staring at my two blank squares all day and never come up with ED AMES, BABA AU RHUM, or HEISS.

@mmorgan: I haven't forgotten you. I'll e-mail soon.

william e emba 4:41 PM  

Well, heck, I remembered Carol HEISS from The Three Stooges and Snow White, but you're better off with The Outlaws IS Coming! co-starring Adam West!!

Rube 4:42 PM  

@chefwen & @7thecow, great clip.

Kendall 5:02 PM  

This was my first Monday DNF in probably a year. The S and SE were the hardest for me by a mile. HEISS was a mystery and was part of my DNF. Namely the cross of HEISS/ED AMES did me in there. IDED/ED AMES got me too. It might have helped if I had even considered it might be a first and last name rather than just a last name. Oh well, on to tomorrow...

Joe 5:13 PM  

Ed Ames is most famous for the Carson show episode.
The longest sustained laugh in Tonight Show history.
The rest of his career--Daniel Boone, The Ames Brothers...forget it.

Anonymous 6:37 PM  

I cannot believe the number of complaints about how hard this puzzle is. The difference between a Monday and a Tuesday is more illusory than real. I think Will Shortz Rule No. 10 states: If Monday is too hard, save it for Tuesday....

Squeek the Anonymouse 7:37 PM  

No matter what day of the week it is I am shocked at the number of DNF's today. Really? It was hard *for a Monday* but not that bad. It must have been the Ed Ames/Weiss area but esp. Ed Ames is fairly well known.
My sympathy to those who had to suffer the humiliation of being beaten by a Monday puzzle. Keeps us on our toes. Maybe we are in for a tough week. Bring it on Will.
Of course I'm still digesting the serving of humble pie I got last Sat.
Poor Mama Cass having to stand next to Michelle. Cruel irony if she really choked to death. True or urban myth?

mmorgan 7:55 PM  

I had no problem with ED AMES. This scares me.

I wasn't 100% sure of the spelling of either BABA AU RHUM or HEISS but with the crosses firmly in place I saw no alternatives -- and under the circumstances neither one seemed unduly bizarre or unlikely to me.

This also scares me.

But I feel that just because I have no clue about something (say, some band from the 90s), it doesn't mean that the puzzle is unfair. Some stuff you know, some stuff you don't, and as long as we're not in Natick, that's just how it goes... no?

David Pearce 8:00 PM  

I wonder if anyone else is having problems with Times Reader 2.0? That's the way I get my Times & my puzzle.

I was out of internet contact for the weekend and when I got back home and was able to download the Saturday and Sunday updates to my Times reader, two weird things happened: 1.) On the Saturday issue, in the place where the title bar normally says FRONT PAGE, this time it says ENERGY (while displaying the normal front page stories; and 2.) The Sunday puzzle refuses to load, and still hasn't loaded, and I just got to look at a little bit of it "live" in a friend's Magazine.

Anyone else have problems like this?

Thanks, and Thanks, Rex!

mmorgan 8:00 PM  

@Squeek -- I have no first hand info, of course, but reasonably reliable sources suggest that the more bizarre stories are just myths and that it was a heart attack.

If anyone doesn't like that, ask Oliver Stone to do a movie.

So glad I was able to ignore at least 85% of the Oscars last night.

[Over my quota, sorry!]

Anonymous 8:05 PM  

Had to check a few up here...tougher then most, maybe all Mondays.

Somehow, figured in UMP at 9D...which eventually got me "A PORNO" for 18A...figured it out eventually though...oops.

retired_chemist 8:51 PM  

Well, Snopes thinks the rumor about Mama Cass is false.

sanfranman59 10:06 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 8:26, 6:55, 1.22, 99%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:20, 3:41, 1.17, 98%, Challenging

By this measure, this was the 2nd most challenging puzzle for All Solvers and the 3rd most for the Top 100 of the 88 Monday puzzles I've tracked. Only Allan Parrish's 7/27/2009 and Richard Chisholm's 10/12/2009 puzzles were tougher Mondays.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

I thought this was one of the best Monday puzzles in a long time, with many witty clues, including two terrific ones: The Malta clue (bet Rex would have gotten it instantly if he weren't multitasking), and "Mares eat oats, and [does] eat oats." Fondly remember my dad, with his lovely baritone voice, singing that little ditty!

Unknown 4:09 PM  

Seems more and more-the syndicated puzzles are not in sync--what's the problem with that??
A Hawaiian Fan

Rex Parker 4:11 PM  

No idea what that means. Syndicated link for today is correct, as it is 99% of the time (unless I forget, like a stupid human being).

grace in Eugene 11:19 AM  

When you "youngsters" have difficulty with a puzzle, it's a breeze for me-- at age 90.
Some of us with links to England still sign e-mails TTFN, "Tata for now!"
The Ames Brothers and Mama Cass come readily to mind... We stay-at-home moms MADE Baba au Rhum in our kitchens.

You lose me when there are current pop stars who produce NOISE rather than music, the current sports heroes.

Where is Eugene Maleska when WE oldies need him?

LOL Grace from Eugene.

NotalwaysrightBill 4:11 PM  

Syndi-lated paper solver.

Just back from my annual Big Fat "Heavyweight" Mexican Vacation, where it's pronounced "naw-naw," and I thought I was all caught up on my rum-soaked-pretty-much-everything, but NOOOOOOO. So what's this Baba fooey in, anyway? French?

"And no-one's getting fat except Mama Cass." So lighten up already.

"Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lambs edivy." Is there another song? Drop the quotes if you can't get it right.

Knew for a fact that [46A "Fingered, for short"] HAD to be an abbreviation of "diddled," so I assume that IDED is pronounced with a short I sound.

"Banana NANA fo fana . . . . "

The writing at PC-uber-alles Hollywood just sucks any more, although the technological proficiency's still going through the roof. ALL the Oscars belong in the same Sesame Street garbage can.

Dirigonzo 4:23 PM  

What @mmorgan 7:55 said five weeks ago - me too.

Hey @G.I.P - that song you planted in my brain (no, not La Cucaracha)a while ago helped me with this puzzle - except you had the wrong words!

@Rex - syndicated link is almost ALWAYS right. Thanks for providing it, and bigger thanks for providing this blog - as a syndicated solver I love it just as much as the prime-timers do (and yes, to anybody who is wondering, I learned the word "sycophant" here too.)

Hey, @NarB is back! Fingered = diddled - love it!

Nullifidian 4:33 PM  

Another syndicated solver here:

"Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lambs edivy." Is there another song? Drop the quotes if you can't get it right.

It is right. You're forgetting the bridge of the song.

If the words sound queer
and funny to your ear,
a little bit jumbled and jivey,
Sing "Mares eat oats and does eat oats
and little lambs eat ivy."

I also have no idea what "PC-uber-alles" has to do with The King's Speech winning Best Picture. I'll admit that the field wasn't very impressive this year, so they simply went with the obvious contender that had "To the Academy: For Your Consideration" plastered all over it. But I hardly think that has anything to do with some imaginary moral panic that asserts that we're being just too, too considerate of each other. Instead, it's just a sign of Americans' sense (perhaps justified) of their cultural inferiority when compared to Britain and their tendency to be impressed by any old costume drama that comes out of Blighty.

Now, as to the puzzle:


It didn't help that this theme clue intersected with cultural and sports clues that only people in their 70s would get. I had never heard of ED AMES, and indeed didn't know it wasn't EDAMES. My knowledge of familial singing quartets from the 1950s is extremely sparse. Worse yet, the S in AMES intersects with Carol HEISS. My knowledge of figure skaters who were active in the early 1960s is similarly lacking.

I just had to give up and guess. Luckily I guessed correctly, but it was not comfortable.

Thus my only write-over was 16A: ON IT, after I had written OVER. I misread the clue and thought it said "Word after step or sleep". STEP OVER or SLEEP OVER would have fit, but alas it actually said "Words".

Tim 4:36 PM  

DNF because of the whole TIEUPS - HEISS - BABAAURHUM - ED AMES tangle, and the fact that I thought it was TIESUP. I did get GOAPE, but I wanted to put in EVERLY (brothers) and lost my bearings. Sigh. I haven't had trouble with a Monday in a long time, so it was a disappointing way to start the week.

Anyway, I wanted to echo @dirigonzo's thanks for the Syndicated Link. **So** much easier than searching for the constructors' names. Thanks!!

Waxy in Montreal 5:04 PM  

Echoing some earlier remarks, I guess your age was a determinant as to whether this puzzle was really Monday-challenging or not. Being on the senior side of the divide, Ed Ames and Carol Heiss were well-known to me. And though I've never heard of BABA-AU-RHUM, it was readily discernible from its crosses.

Really enjoyed the puzzle - although too bad that MB couldn't have found a way to get the immortal BABA WAWA into the grid.

Dirigonzo 5:14 PM  

@Tim - In the highly unlikely event that RP *forgets* to update the link in timely fashion you can still find the syndicated puzzle fairly easily by going to the puzzle's original publication date (which is the "No." of the syndicated puzzle)on the right side of the blog. But you *ALMOST NEVER* have to do that.

@Waxy - You are so right. BABA WAWA would have been perfect for this puzzle!

SharonAK 6:43 PM  

@Dirigonzo and others. Would like to know what the "syndicated link" is.
I always type in most of the heading "Rex Parker..."and the date, and usually the first theme answer (that didn't work this time) Sometimes I get the blog I want just fine. Sometimes I get puzzles from years ago and maybe the one current for the day, but not the one I want. When it goes weird like that it is very frustrating.
If there is an easier way would like to know about it, please.
As to the puzzle. It seemed about average to me. Quite fun. (missed the humor in the Malta clue until coming here, thanks whoever it was who mentioned it) I'm quite familiar with baba au rhum. Sort of recognized Carol Heiss and Ed Ames as the names appeared. Was surprised at those who thought it way hard for Monday. Seemed like every answer I didn't know came easily from crosses.
Thought @Jim's other Baba suggestion was ridiculously obscure and uninteresting.

Stan 6:57 PM  

@SharonAK: Try this. Go to the Rex home page. Look for the bar across the top outlined in a light color. Third one from the left says Syndicated Puzzle. Click it. Then what appears (for me today anyway) is the Rex blog for Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, with your comment!

Unsophisticated User 7:00 PM  

@SharonAK - If I can do it, you can do it. First of all, you say, "I always type in most of the heading "Rex Parker..."" Surely you have some kind of "Bookmarks" or "Favorites" button. Go to the current Rex Parker blog by whatever means, click on Bookmark, Select "Bookmark This Page", and you are never more than one click away from the blog.

Then at the very top of the blog click on the box (Third from Left) that says "Syndicated Puzzle" and you will instantly go to the puzzle of five weeks ago.

Really very easy!

Stan 7:04 PM  

@Unsophisticated User: Great (unsophisticated) minds think alike!

lodsf 11:38 PM  

[2/28 syndic. Apr’11] Was very glad to come here and see how many people thought this was a difficult Monday. Couldn’t believe that I had to ‘give up’ and finish with guesses which I ‘knew’ were wrong (but were right). The infamous “1950’s cross”: Edames (now I know, it’s Ed Ames) plus the skater making that “s” simply a WAG. How to spell baba rum cake? Have never heard of the “nonmusical [Eban] Abba” but since couldn’t fit b a v a r i a n….cake of any sort it had to be “baba”. The rest was all in place by the time I got to the S-SE, but I forgot to look for the theme, which, now that I know it thanks to Rex et al, is pretty impressive. Nice to be challenged on a Monday (especially when it’s not just me who is challenged!).

Nullifidian 6:17 PM  


Have never heard of the “nonmusical [Eban] Abba”

Abba Eban was a major figure in the Zionist movement and early Israeli politics. He was involved in the Federation of Zionist Youth and later the World Zionist Organization. Later, he was Ambassador of Israel to the United States, and thus key in establishing the current relationship of Israel to the U.S.

For me, this was easier than the usual run of Israeli- or Jewish- themed clues, being interested in the history and current relations in Palestine/Israel, and the relations of both with the U.S. At least I wasn't asked the months of the Jewish calendar, which we are apparently expected to know even better than the months of the Islamic calendar or the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar.

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