2010 chart-topper for Ke$ha / SUN 4-10-11 / Italian sportswear name / Dammed river in North Carolina / Burial site early Scottish kings

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "All-Pro" — "FOR" is added (as a prefix) to words in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued wackily ("?"-style)

Word of the Day: ELLESSE (70A: Italian sportswear name) —

Ellesse is a sports apparel company founded in Italy in 1959. // Ellesse was founded by Leonardo Servadio in Perugia in 1959. The name Ellesse derives from the initials of Servadio's name, "L.S." // Ellesse grew in popularity during the 1970s as a producer of skiwear such as quilted jackets and ski pants. In 1979, Ellesse's Jet Pant, a ski pant featuring padded knees and a wide lower leg to fit around a ski boot, was included in an event at the Pompidou Centre in Paris celebrating Italian design. // Another sport with which Ellesse has been closely associated since its early years is tennis. The Ellesse logo references the form of a tennis ball with the shape of the tips of a pair of skis. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well, the theme is a dud, but if you can get past that, there's some pretty nice stuff in this puzzle. Started out really kind of liking the puzzle, with the cool and pop-culturey MCFLY (1D: "Back to the Future" family name) and "TIK-TOK" (12D: 2010 chart-topper for Ke$ha), the lovely LORGNETTE (26A: Operagoer's accessory), and the threat that someone might BACKSTAB ARISTIDE (timely, given that he has recently returned to Haiti from exile in South Africa) (7A: Betray, in a way + 21A: Haiti's first democratically elected president). But then there was FORGO COLD TURKEY. I was looking for the complexity, the trick, the ... Sunday Something that was holding this baby together. But one more theme answer in, and I realized that it's just FOR. Added FOR-s. And a bunch of barely sensible wacky answers. MONDO letdown (87A: Extremely, in 1970s slang). But the non-theme stuff continued not to disappoint, for the most part. I actually found this puzzle on the tough side for a Sunday, though I thought that might end up being offset by the pretty easy theme (hence the mere "Medium" rating).

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Skip Thanksgiving leftovers? (FORGO COLD TURKEY)
  • 30A: Say "No," "Never" and "Uh-uh"? (DO ONE'S FORBIDDING)
  • 47A: Plea for immediate absolution? (FORGIVE US THIS DAY)
  • 63A: Like food that's acceptable to cattle? (FORAGE APPROPRIATE)
  • 79A: Memorable theatrical performance? (PLAY HARD TO FORGET)
  • 93A: Abstain happily? (GRIN AND FORBEAR IT)
  • 108A: Is well-endowed? (CARRIES A FORTUNE)
OK, so there was a significant BLOC of crosswordese, but at least it was pretty well spread out. ELON ELEE ELIO, as a trio, almost overcome the ugliness they possess individually (5D: Southern university that shares its name with a biblical judge + 34A: Mrs. Robert ___ (Mary Custis) + 37A: Chacon of the 1960s Mets). In other E-word news, I once again confused EBOLA and EBOLI (17D: Place in a Carlo Levi memoir), and I completely blanked on ELLESSE, despite that name's being very familiar from my tennis-playing days in the 80s. I associate that brand with Chris Evert more than anyone else. Vintage tennis returned again with Guillermo VILAS (48D: Tennis's 1977 U.S. Open champ), whom I always used to confuse with VITAS Gerulitis. Let's see, what else? There was some random French I didn't know (PIAF), the return of a name I used to not know but now know (STANS), a South Pacific place that I know about only because I nearly put it in a grid once but ultimately couldn't go through with it because it was so godawful (LAE), an arcane word I've heard of but couldn't have defined for you (BELAY; 33D: Ignore, imperatively) ... but in the end it was all redeemed and then some by BOBO (39D: Mr. Burns's teddy bear on "The Simpsons"). That bear has an entire episode dedicated to it—an amazing, extended "Citizen Kane" parody (with BOBO as "Rosebud"). Genius.

Apropos of nothing, I am listening to metal while I write, and it is strangely energizing without being lyrically distracting. I eschewed metal for the longest time because it sounded like something that only the scariest of white people listen to (and something that a guy who uses words like "eschew" would not listen to), but I'm coming around... well, a little. I mean, I discovered the band (Red Fang) via NPR (which I do *not* eschew), so how scary can it be?

  • 25A: Early spring bloomers (CROCI) — I actually used this word in conversation today. They're coming up in our front yard.

  • 28A: Longfellow's words before "O Ship of State!" ("SAIL ON") — I like this song.

  • 75A: Burial site of early Scottish kings (IONA) — ugh, IONE fail! Speaking of Scottish, though: my man James HOGG! I read "The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" for three (3!) different classes when I studied in Edinburgh in '89 (4D: Scottish poet James Known as "The Ettrick Shepherd").
  • 113A: Dammed river in North Carolina (PEE DEE) — strangely, a gimme. I mean, I didn't know it know it, but it's the first thing I thought of—crosswordy river in the Carolinas (often used as a non-urine clue for PEE).
  • 115A: Region conquered by Philip II of Macedon (THESSALY) — wonder if the region is as pretty as it sounds. I've never been.
  • 7D: Sled dog with a statue in New York's Central Park (BALTO) — are there other Central Parks we might confuse with New York's? Seems a weird qualifier, esp. for the *NYT* puzzle.
  • 72D: "___ dignus" (Latin motto) ("ESTO") — the language has a motto? Whose motto? Just ... *a* motto? No matter how many times I look at this clue, no matter what I do, even now, I see only "dingus."
  • 84D: Bear vis-à-vis the woods, e.g. (DENIZEN) — surely Paula and/or Will knew that SHITTER fits perfectly. Nice work. [Slow clap]
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


syndy 12:15 AM  

Edith PIAF aka the LITTLE SPARROW was a fabulous french singer especially known for LA VIE EN ROSE-not a random word-oh loved the puzzle -was slowed down in the forest- gnawed by the bear; but was grinning too hard to care!even lorgnette which I knew and knew that I could not spell!almost stepped on the emerald lark but spotted the trip wire in time-paula was feeling pretty raunchy today

lit.doc 12:25 AM  

Wow, tough one for me. Got through it in forever + n, but enjoyed the solve. Last spot to fall was the block below Rex’s WOD. Fiiiiinally capitulated on 77A LETS and (almost) immediately saw “Rents” = RIPS. Wow.

Thought the theme answers were clever as hell. Couldn’t have stuck with the puzzle so long if each “Aha!” (a one-word euphemism for much longer vulgar phrases) hadn’t been such a delight.

@Paula, did you intentionally clue 84D to bring out the worst in (some of) us?

lit.doc 12:34 AM  

@syndy, me too re “OK, I can hear and say ‘LORGNETTE’, but how the hell do you spell it?” I’m a poster child for CFS Syndrome. And crosses like HOGG and ELON didn’t help.

Noam D. Elkies 12:42 AM  

The theme is indeed far from astounding, but sufficient for this purpose. Some other neat midrange entries: 43A:ALL_AT_SEA, 44D:SET_DESIGN, 34D:EDGED_OUT, 44D:UTTER_ROT, 58A:GONDOLA — none of which is quite a premiere according to xwordinfo, nor is 26A:LORGNETTE and 7/21A:BACKSTAB/ARISTIDE. The morbid 104A:NEAR_FATAL and morbidly clued 40D:IRON_FENCE are new, though, as is Freakonomist 102A:LEVITT.

(Apropos 26, how else would one spell it? GN for Ñ is known from several Romance languages, as in Agnus Dei, champignon, gnocchi. Granted the weird RGN sequence is unique.)

What's up with the clue for 2D:A_ROOM? OK, it has to be a partial, but I've never heard this one before (get a life/clue is all I could think of). xwordinfo remembers just one previous instance of this clue out of 23 previous A_ROOMs, on a Saturday six years ago. urbandictionary.com says "Derisive or humorous comment said to couples engaged in heavy-duty PDA [...]" which seems rather risqué for the Grey Lady, even more so than the unbearably cute clue for 84D:DENIZEN.

"Gerulaitis" always sounds like some obscure disease — and looks even more like one without the "a", as Rex spelled it...

NDE (captcha = foride, which wants to be in the theme except that neither "foride" nor "ide" is quite a word (unlike "fluoride" and "ides"))

blockhead 1:15 AM  

Is that really Lionel Richie! ATEE, ADEER, AFOG,and AROOM: Hmmm.... oh yes, Tiger is back at Augusta.

jae 1:30 AM  

On the tough side for me also. Yes for EBOLA at first. The LORGN../HOGG cross was a sort of a guess. I'd prefer HOGG to be clued via Dukes of Hazard instead of an obscure (to me) Irish poet. Solid Sun.

Greene 1:33 AM  

I thought the theme was pretty standard for a Sunday, not great, not bad, just traditional Sunday construction. I also thought the puzzle skewed difficultish, at least for me. Guess I'm just not on Paula's wavelength today.

Loved seeing Marty MCFLY in the grid, though. Got me off to a great start. And BOBO! Knew Rex would be delighted with that. Probably a WTF answer to many solvers, but just more proof that The Simpsons is one of the best satires on television, ever. How the writers manage to keep it fresh season after season is a complete mystery to me.

My favorite theme answer was PLAY HARD TO FORGET. Totally wacky. It's as if Tarzan became a theatre critic. Lots of other theatrical bits here and there in the grid as well: Arcadia (Tom Stoppard's dazzling meditation on lust, thermodynamics, horticulture, and I can't remember what else is now back on Broadway), SET DESIGN, ENTR'acte, OBOE (whose clue references an orchestra pit, I assume). Even LORGNETTE rings theatrical for me, largely because it's one of those words I had to look up as a kid when I ran across it in Oscar Hammerstein's "Soliloquy" number from Carousel:

And I'll be damned if he'll marry his boss' daughter
A skinny-lipped virgin with blood like water
Who'll give him a peck
And call it a kiss
And look in his eyes through a LORGNETTE...
Hey, why am I talkin' on like this?
My kid ain't even been born yet!

There's something playful about GRIN AND FORBEAR IT also. The other theme answers I'm rather neutral on.

One of the days I'm going to remember PEEDEE. I really am. As it was, I needed every cross.

arcadia carriesafortune mashes 1:42 AM  

And then go to A WINDOW at 7pm (PST) (or at New York's 10pm, facing New York's Central Park), and shout "I'm Mad As Hell And I'm Not Gonna Take It Any More!"
in honor of New York's Sidney Lumet's passing
(Director of "Network", "12 Angry Men" and 50+ other films)

FORGIVE US THIS plug but my friend Lisa G is hoping her idea goes viral :)

chefwen 2:26 AM  

@Greene - Thought of you right away while filling PLAY HARD TO FORGET.

Loved the puzzle, I'm pretty sure I love all Paula Gamache puzzles.

First run through brought some fun (I thought) but incorrect answers. 16D emerald (thought that was too easy for a Sunday) before PERIDOT, 41D pin before CUP, 42D ad man before AD REP, 92D steels before STROPS, 73A maids before MINTS, 86A fore before TOOT. O.K. Now that you all are asleep, I will stop.

Anyway, a good Sunday, thank you Paula.

Ray 3:45 AM  

@Rex, loved your report on this puzzle, especially witty, had me chuckling aloud.

All fell into place for me pretty smoothly until my very last clue – was trying to conjure from the depths of my memory the name for those darn opera glasses... and spent way too much time trying in vain to suffix -ETTE to LOUPE. Then I had to revise ALLESSI, which sounded so much more Italian to me as a guess, and Latin is not my strong suit (ISTO/ESTO).

@Rex again: I must recommend Oakland, California's avant metal band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum... beautiful, technical, theatrical, lyrical and wonderfully strange music. Hope you like it!

CoolPapaD 4:13 AM  

Liked it a lot, but the NE was particularly brutal - a guess on SAIL ON, with very few crosses, helped tremendously.

56D confused me - the cluing for BAAL had somewhat of a negative connotation (false deity). The only BAAL with which I was familiar refers to the Baal Shem Tov, Hebrew for "Master of the Good Name"), who was the founder of Hasidic Judaism.

Had to leave one blank in square 72 - had no idea there!

Bob Kerfuffle 7:27 AM  

I enjoyed the theme. Each answer seemed smooth both with and without the FOR.

I suspect Rex's dismissal of PIAF as "some random French" is one of his little jokes.

Glimmerglass 7:56 AM  

Any sailors here? I think BELAY means to tie off a line. Used metaphorically, "Belay that" would mean stop doing or talking about something ("tie off that argument and get on to something else"). Not quite the same thing as "ignore."

imsdave 7:56 AM  

Definitely challenging for me, but in a good way.

@Greene - good call on the BOBO WTF - that would be me.

My wife loves PIAF, which is unfortunate, as I have never developed a taste for that kind of vibrato.

On the brighter side, I am pleased to announce that I have successfully completed one NYT puzzle in a row.

No BS 8:35 AM  

Belay is only occasionally used by sailors that I know nowadays, though you are right about the primary meaning; Paula may be right about the metaphorical meaning too although I think it is used more like "avast" or "stop that" than as "ignore". Usually refers to chatter of some kind when used in that sense, in 40s navy movies for the most part.

I'll tell you who does use the word in the primary sense as a basic top-ten term of art: rock climbers and technical mountain climbers. For them, there is both a verb sense and a noun sense: a particular tying off method is called a [whatever] belay.

Enjoyed this puzzle; did anyone else notice that the central across line contained the theme answer with both "for" and "pro". Is the Pope a denizen of Vatican City?

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

@Glimmerglass, @No BS - 'BELAY that order' is a phrase which means ignore it. At least it is in the movies.

mmorgan 9:17 AM  

Hand up for BOBO WTF. But that and a few others were all gettable from crosses for me ...except for the ELI_/PERID_T cross at 37A/16D. (KE$SHA is not a typo,I gather. She's no PIAF.)

Agree with @Rex and most of the comments here (even the ones that conflict!) My favorite theme answers were FORGO COLD TURKEY and PLAY HARD TO FORGET. Great clues for MINTS and RIPS.

JenCT 9:58 AM  

@chefwen: exact same mistakes as you!

Also chuckled at 84d; S**T wouldn't fit. How about 108a Is well-endowed?

Didn't know LORGNETTE; thought of yoga at first for 99a Dexterity exercise.

I've never said MONDO in my life.

Had blase before BLAND for 74d.

Fun puzzle with nice misdirection.

joho 9:59 AM  

It took me longer than usual to figure out the theme which is a huge plus. This puzzle provided me a most enjoyable Sunday morning.

A mini-story using some of the words I loved: "PSST, get AROOM!" "Why, that's UTTERROT you SILLY ASS!" "Oh, I BACKSTAB you, you BOBO, you, IDO!"

I've never heard CRATERS used this way but got it right anyway.

@arcadia carriesafortune mashes ... "Network" is one of my all time favorite films. I remember shouting "I'm mad as hell and I won't take it anymore" out my apartment window way back then. Can't remember why, I think it was a call to action. It would definitely be an appropriate send off to Mr. Lumet if everybody joined in today. Brilliant director!

jackj 10:16 AM  

A perfectly pleasant and acceptable theme which was elevated by some gnarly cluing for the fill.

Think UTTERROT, BELAY, SETDESIGN, MONDO, et al and then put an exclamation point on the fill fun with "Get AROOM!" trumping the obvious "Get a life".

LAE, that Papua New Guinea port, gives us a reason to google and we find this city of 75,000 or maybe 90,000 or, perhaps 100,000 people, (official census seems lacking), is known as "Pothole city", (the Wikipedia writers haven't been to Boston). And,most notably, Lae is home to the airport from which Amelia Earhart last took off before disappearing in the Pacific in 1937.

Good puzzle and GRINANDFORBEARIT has just the right sass and humor to represent the theme answers.

GLR 10:25 AM  

DNF here - broke a streak of seven. Found the whole thing moderately slow going, but the NW corner did me in. Had never heard of YMA Sumac or James HOGG or LORGNETTE. Had heard of Junipero SERRRA, but couldn't pull him out of the memory banks.

Oldactor 10:30 AM  

Yesterday I heard on the radio that Mr. Lumet had died, but the announcer pronounced it Sidney LumAY!
LUMAY? Oh, it was Fox News. Fox. Of course.

JaxInL.A. 10:38 AM  

Shrug for the theme but loved the fill and its very clever cluing. No idea on Ellesse, so I guessed aLLESSi like @Ray, which I only partially fixed. Finished with a RaNO for the city west of the Rockies.

Given the comments of others here, I'm very proud of getting LORGNETTE right off, and for the same reason as @Greene. I had all of @Greene's thoughts on the theatrical clues while solving, so reading your summary felt like having someone walking around in my head. When ARCADIA became clear, I wished for a Stoppard-related clue. All of his work is extraordinary but ARCADIA is astonishing.  

More than usual slightly risqué (for the NYT) clues kept me smiling. It couldn't hold a candle to BEQ or The Onion for risquosity (?!), but very playful. 

It seems that ESTO dignus is a command to 'be worthy' and serves as the motto for the Columbian Squires, a program for boys through the Knights of Columbus.  Still seems pretty random to me.

@CoolPapaD, according to Wikipedia, "Baʿal" can refer to any god and  [most Biblical uses apparently] refer to any number of local spirit-deities worshipped as cult images, each called baʿal and regarded in the Hebrew Bible in that context as a false god.

@arcadia mashes, I love this idea, though I'll be at my first Seder of the season at the time, and may not be able to explain yelling out a window. Good luck with a great tribute to a genius of film. Listening to NPR's tribute as I write this.

I do run, don't I? Sorry.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

I don't get the "All-Pro" title. Is it suppose to relate to golf? Shouldn't it be "fore" then, and not "for" in the theme clues? What am I missing?

jackj 10:58 AM  

This was posted just before 10 AM and has disappeared. Can't imagine why so, here goes again:

"jackj‬ said...
A perfectly pleasant and acceptable theme which was elevated by some gnarly cluing for the fill.

Think UTTERROT, BELAY, SETDESIGN, MONDO, et al and then put an exclamation point on the fill fun with "Get AROOM!" trumping the obvious "Get a life".

LAE, that Papua New Guinea port, gives us a reason to google and we find this city of 75,000 or maybe 90,000 or, perhaps 100,000 people, (official census seems lacking), is known as "Pothole city", (the Wikipedia writers haven't been to Boston). And,most notably, Lae is home to the airport from which Amelia Earhart last took off before disappearing in the Pacific in 1937.

Good puzzle and GRINANDFORBEARIT has just the right sass and humor to represent the theme answers."

Auntie Thesis 11:05 AM  

@Anonymous, 10:55 - Think of pro vs con. Either you are FOR it or against it.

ForM asked and Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Mostly a real real easy SunPuz. LOR?NETTE/HOG? woulda did me in, but smarty spouse knew LORGN-whatsis. I miss so much by not attending the opera.

M&A Word of the Day: BALTO. Dog that the Iditarod is dedicated to. Shoulda called it the Balto-rod. Hand up, for luvin' the pooches.

Theme quality: B. Nothing really wrong with it, but 31 had a point: not too memorable, either. Needed a "har!" moment in it, like:
"Held a fast food seance" (FORtold a whopper)

And remember: ALEUTS CHOSE ELLESSE. But betcha Balto wouldn't wear that cr*p.

Auntie Thesis 11:12 AM  

@ j a c k j - (I'm afraid to spell out your name as given since I have no idea why you were summarily dropped) -

Just for the h*ck of it, I've copied your post out of my gmail trash. Let's see if it stays up:

A perfectly pleasant and acceptable theme which was elevated by some gnarly cluing for the fill.

Think UTTERROT, BELAY, SETDESIGN, MONDO, et al and then put an exclamation point on the fill fun with "Get AROOM!" trumping the obvious "Get a life".

LAE, that Papua New Guinea port, gives us a reason to google and we find this city of 75,000 or maybe 90,000 or, perhaps 100,000 people, (official census seems lacking), is known as "Pothole city", (the Wikipedia writers haven't been to Boston). And,most notably, Lae is home to the airport from which Amelia Earhart last took off before disappearing in the Pacific in 1937.

Good puzzle and GRINANDFORBEARIT has just the right sass and humor to represent the theme answers.

Auntie Thesis 11:15 AM  

I should add, j___j's post was deleted twice - and it didn't even contain a hot link - very mysterious - yet both times his post went out to those who asked to have comments sent directly to their email.

Auntie Thesis 11:23 AM  

And my post which quoted j ___ j's post disappeared instantly. It seemed perfectly innocent - does anyone have an explanation?

Sparky 11:24 AM  

Natick at LEVI-T/CRA-ERS cross. Like @joho, never heard that expression. First expected PRO to fill in but caught on to FOR with downs STRAFE, TIKTOK, ADEER. Took a while to get 47A as I had eNURE and was stuck on THe sins, or something. Had room before MINTS, lets before RIPS. Whittled away in two sessions, before and after reading The Book Review.

Enjoyable write up @Rex, fun comments. Fine tribute @Acme. Congrats @imsdave but you are joshing, no?

One last thing, pant, pant. Why everyone thinking of fecal matter with bear? Is it a joke or song I'm missing?

archaeoprof 11:28 AM  

Hard Sunday for me, but finally got it.

BAAL was the most-hated deity among Israelite prophets. He had a hot girlfriend, Asherah.

Thanks, Paula!

GLR 11:45 AM  


In response to a question to which the obvious answer is "yes," one might answer "Does a bear s**t in the woods?" or "Is the Pope Catholic?"

Shamik 12:47 PM  

@JaxinLA: You could time your window rant in honor of Mr. Lumet with when the door is opened for Elijah and have him use the window instead of the door this year?

Every time I see Ms. Gamache's name, I know it will be a good puzzle, but one that will ultimately frustrate me in one way or another. This time it was my uneven solve rate....whole little sections would fall and then nothing. And then another section and then a whole lot of nothing.

Ended up medium challenging at 24:10 with one square wrong for an original CASE. Kind of liked the theme. Really liked Rex's write-up....it sounded like a splendid early spring write-up. Must be the CROCI...which I dearly miss in Arizona.

David 12:48 PM  

loved FORAGE APPROPRIATE, answer and clue - that was my favorite of the biggies, that and PLAY HARD TO FORGET. I really liked the theme a lot, solid, fun clues leading to clever answers with the FORS scattered around well.

LORGNETTE stuck me for a while, as I didn't know SERRA or HOGG, and the 3 consonants in a row were tricky to work with (but excellent!). Not too much went overly fast, just staying with it and being patient brought it home for me in average time. NE was the toughest by far. Totally missed the definition of Iconoclast, wanting MODEL, thus the key to finishing was guessing SAIL ON (as others mentioned above), and flashing finally on CROCI. Never heard of ELIO Chacon, EBOLI and PERIDOT.

PanamaRed 1:00 PM  

When I was young, that answer to the obvious yes was, Is the Pope Italian?"

Got everything but that LORGNETTE thingy - I new about opera glasses, but had no clue as to what they were called.

Fun puzzle, I thought.

@oldactor - I've heard Lumet mispronunced as Lumay several times lately - and not just on Fox News either.

Dan 1:07 PM  

"84D: Bear vis-à-vis the woods, e.g. (DENIZEN) — surely Paula and/or Will knew that SHITTER fits perfectly. Nice work. [Slow clap]"

Likewise, BULLSHIT fit perfectly for 57D: Baloney and then some (UTTER ROT). First thing I thought of, actually, though that could be because I got the last T first.

Lindsay 1:44 PM  

I found the theme entertaining, but the fill ...... yeesh. Put me in mind of Roz Chast's ecru and onyx oryx narrative, only I'm thinking of an illustration, where the viewer is challenged to find examples of crosswordese:

Robert ELEE wears a LEI, and an OTOE plays an OBOE. YMA Sumac hisses "PSST, what's our ETA? ELAL only feeds us ORTS, and it's a long way from IONA to LAE via ERIN." Meanwhile, APERS argue with ALEUTS over ATEE time, instead of preparing an ENC for ELIO, an ELON ALUM with the IRS.

Yesteday I ordered my ticket for the Boston crossword tournament. I'm trying to talk my brother, who will be housing me, into participating, but he seems to be hung up on the idea that he only works the Globe puzzle, and that doesn't count.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

first couln't get a foothold,sruggled for a good while, realized the theme and then it went down pretty quickly but left out two letters and had to knock on my head and say "doh"as i was looking for vintners, not french brothers. (had Er_res as i had cEo). so close but dnf.captcha is ablenes, not what i had today.

Jim 2:46 PM  

It's funny -- BOBO is probably the most obscure Simpsons reference I've seen, but beside that, MCFLY and TIKTOK, my survey of one reveals this as the most un-pop-culture-laden Sunday puzzle in memory.

Eventually got it done to satisfaction, which is to say six or eight missing or incorrect letters placed in crossings of unknown proper names and / or foreign words. ELLESSE / BAAL / ASTO? LORGNETTE / ELON / HOGG / SERRA? Get the hell out of here.

Toughest overall corner, however, was the NE. Had no idea what that theme entry was going for. Had emerald, and the A___SEA entry was NOT helping, as I had never heard ALLATSEA in my life. ATSEA? Sure. Was really stuck. Replaced emerald with PERIDOT (I had no idea it was green) and just guessed at ARCADIA off the AR and then, mercifully, it was over. Tough tough tough.

Teresa in Detroit 2:58 PM  

I gave this one a shot, but the theme just would not come. I kept thinking that pro was going to relate to sports maybe football - And hard as this was, I didn't want to struggle with the puzzle for sports theme answers. (I was wrong about the sports theme, oh well.)

Anyway, I threw in the towel and have instead been thoroughly enjoying a gorgeous day in Detroit. We have the doors and windows open for the first time this year. Ahh!

quilter1 3:03 PM  

Dropped my last letters in today after church, and I liked it. Liked the theme, liked that I knew lots of stuff and that the pop culture/sports stuff was minimal. I knew PIAF, and PILAF. I really liked UTTER ROT. Have never said MONDO. Then I came here are saw I had a mistake, mat for CAT at 108D because I had written mARRIES A FORTUNE without a second thought. Boo.
Thanks, Paula
I am looking for the LATimes Sunday puzzle but Sat. is still up.

quilter1 3:05 PM  

Oh, and @Rex, on the cover of the Hogg book what's with the chick on
the floor. Did he kill her? ravish her? scare her to death?

mac 3:21 PM  

I thought the theme soso, the fill fabulous! Right up my ally. Needed quite a bit of the crosses to get some of the answers, but it was a good Sunday morning workout.

Rube 3:35 PM  

I question the "False deity" clue for BAAL. A liberal rag like the NYT normally does not make judgements on other peoples' Gods.

How come no-one has criticized LANED? A really lame answer.

What am I saying? I really enjoyed this puzzle, both the theme answers and the fill. All except for the ELLESSE/ESTO crossing which I, like @CoolPapaD, had to guess. YMA Sumac seems to appear about every 6 mos in the NYT. On further investigation, YMA has appeared 53 times in the last 7 years! PEEDEE, Peedee, Peede. I'll get you next time.

Esto dignus is my w(s)otd. Great motto.

GLR 4:03 PM  

I see in today's NYT Magazine, they've published a correction regarding the March 13 crossword (don't know that I've seen a correction to a crossword before, but I don't always look at the corrections).

The correction relates to the cluing for a Sartre novel, "Nausea." The clue said something about the novel for which he won, and refused a Nobel Prize (in fact, the Nobel is awarded for a body of work, not a particular work).

Seems that I recall that exact point being raised by a commenter here the day the puzzle ran. Wonder why it took the Times a month to acknowledge the error.

Sorry for the post having nothing to do with today's puzzle, but I thought this was sort of interesting.

jberg 4:05 PM  

I liked the puzzle, but not the title. I guess "pro" just meant FOR, but since you had to add the letters, not the meaning, the translation to Latin didn't seem APPROPRIATE, FOR AGE or otherwise.

And speaking of Latin, what is ESTO? I guess it must be imperative mode; I took six years of the language, but that was a long time ago, so I had ESSE at 72D until the crosses ruled it out - and I almost decided MONDE was OK at 87A.

I really didn't want to put in BAAL as a false god - the characteriztion seems biased. That was what Moses' followers thought, but presumably the worshippers of Baal thought the same about Jahweh. Who are we to say who was right?

No one seems to have mentioned old Mel OTT (76D), but there he is - 2d time in a week, isn't it?

Sparky 5:34 PM  

Ooh, so that's it. Does ring a bell. Thanks @GLR, PanamaRed, Dan. Takes me a while sometimes.

There was a movie, Mondo Cane, full of over the top things but I never heard it used as a common expression either.

@GLR. Thanks for the note re the NYT correction.

Anonymous 5:47 PM  

"...Wonder why it took the Times a month to acknowledge the error...."

Their record of acknowledging unquestionable errors (crossword and otherwise) is abysmal. And if their is any wiggle room at all regarding correctness, well, ROTFL.

"...I liked the puzzle, but not the title...

1. I did not like the puzzle, but eventually ground out a victory. I'm sure that lots of people loved it; I just don't go for these ' wacky phrase' themes.

2. I thought that this may have been the worst and stupidest crossword title ever. (I mean, I get it - but I don't see anyway to forgiving it.)

kottke.org 6:10 PM  

@Anonymous, 5:47 PM - NY Times corrections are always up-to-the-minute . . . or were you thinking of this:

Best correction ever?

On July 17, 1969, The New York Times issued a correction related to an editorial the paper published in 1920 that dismissed the idea of rocket travel in the vacuum of space. The editorial read, in part:

That Professor Goddard, with his 'chair' in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react -- to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high school.

The correction stated:

Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Issac Newton in the 17th Century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.

Arundel 7:36 PM  

After being thoroughly flattened by both Friday's and Saturday's puzzles, I got a good grip on this one, and Stan and I team-solved through to the end. Mr Happy Pencil resisted only because I had spelled Aristide wrong and didn't catch it in tEk-tok.

@Lindsay, tell your brother the BostonT tournament is just plain fun. There's no need to be competition-ready to have a good time.

This was a truly fine spring day in Maine, and the first planting of peas is in the ground, so it's very late to be posting. Nonetheless, regarding the denizen of the woods: many years ago in my circle of friends, the standard answer for the glaringly obvious question was always "Is the bear Catholic?"

Bill from NJ 10:10 PM  


In my circle of friends when I was a kid was to turn that bear/Pope question around - No offense to my Catholic friends was intended.

Anonymous 10:34 PM  

Thought this was a lot of fun. BUT please someone explain 77A rents=RIPS. Thanks.

chefwen 11:38 PM  

@Anon 10:34 rend/vb. rent - to split or tear apart or in pieces by violence.

Dirigonzo 2:17 PM  

@Arundel commented that it was "a truly fine spring day in Maine" when the puzzle originally appeared in prime time. I'm sad to report that by the time the syndicated edition appeared a week later the weather here has taken a chilly turn - no solving outside today!

I liked having to figure out what the title meant in relation to the theme, which became clear after FORGIVEUSTHISDAY and GRINANDFORBEARIT appeared early on. Then the other theme answers were pretty easy to deduce. Still failed in the NE due to my ignorance of operagoers, California missionaries and southern universites/biblical judges. My guesses at those crosses, while they looked reasonable to me, were all wrong.

Had a lot of fun but still wish the weather would warm up!

paabo 6:07 PM  

every NYT puzzle is to me very enjoyable and interesting, but I can't solve them all. Question:
If I look up an answer in my dictionary or on the internet and use it - does that mean I did not
properly solve the puzzle?

I learn a lot from the puzzles, but
having recently discovered this site
I think I'm learning more from all of you who post comments - thanks much.

when I was young one of the cleaner
jokes in circulation* was about the Peedee - a preacher is sermonizing about the evils of drink and exhorts the congregation to "throw all your alcoholic beverages into the great Peedee river". At the end of the sermon he announces that the choir will now "lead us in that old beloved hymn 'Shall We Gather at the River'"

* Hey, it was 1940 and we were teen-agers in Chadbourn, NC

Bob Kerfuffle 6:23 PM  

@paabo - We do crossword puzzles for fun, so any way you can solve one is the proper way for you.

I started looking up a great many words in paper references, before I ever had heard of the internet. I like to think that I learned a lot that way. Nowadays I don't look up much if anything when doing a Times puzzle, but if I am doing a Brendan Emmet Quigley or Matt Gaffney puzzle, either of which is likely to have what are to me impossibly obscure references to indie bands, chess champions, or the like, I see no problem in looking something up if it helps me finish.

You generally can't look anything up at a crossword tournament, but at last year's Lollapuzzoola 3, you could raise your hand and get an answer for a slight point penalty.

So, whatever works for you.

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