Jazz saxophonist Gordon familiarly / TUE 5-24-11 / Julius Dithers wife Blondie / Raja Serpent Rope novelist / Chief Whitehorse tribesmen

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Constructor: Michael Blake and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: ["clue word"] partners? — two words that can each be paired with the clue word in a "___ AND ___" phrase paired are instead paired, awkwardly / strangely / unexpectedly, with each other in their own "___ AND ___" phrase

Word of the Day: TIT willow (65A: Lead-in for mouse or willow) —

The Willow Tit (Poecile montanus) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a widespread and common resident breeder throughout temperate and subarctic Europe and northern Asia. It is more of a conifer specialist than the closely related Marsh Tit, which explains it breeding much further north. It is resident, and most birds do not migrate. [...] The Willow Tit is referenced in one of the musical numbers in the comedic opera "The Mikado" written by Gilbert and Sullivan, (On a Tree By a River). [that song is apparently listed officially as "Tit-Willow," the only instance I can find of that "tit"-in-front formulation] (wikipedia)
• • •

The awkwardness of this theme is neatly exemplified by the awkwardness of my explanation. There's something slightly cute and charming about the concept, but DRY AND MIGHTY is the only answer that really zings. The rest are just ... pairs. Not exciting. Not nearly as exciting as the brilliant HATCHET JOB (11D: Malicious attack) and only slightly less brilliant ARE YOU NUTS? (30D: Question after some 26-Down), two of the greatest long (non-theme) Downs I've seen in a while. The rest of the grid ... is the rest of the grid. Never (or barely) heard of Raja RAO (9D: Raja ___, "The Serpent and the Rope" novelist). Probably should've made that the "Word of the Day," but ... no, TIT-willow needed figuring out.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Tell partners? (KISS AND SHOW)
  • 24A: High partners? (DRY AND MIGHTY)
  • 38A: Pride partners? (PREJUDICE AND JOY)
  • 49A: Go partners? (TOUCH AND STOP)
  • 60A: Shine partners? (RISE AND SPIT)

Sometimes the clue word is the first word in the familiar phrases, sometimes it's the second. This is fine, but ideally answers that feature first words are symmetrical with answers that feature first words and answers that feature second words are symmetrical with answers that feature second words. ORTHO- (long prefix) crossing THERMO- (long prefix) = not great. Also not buying the extra "X" in XOXOX (70A: Complimentary close). Nice clue at 56-Down, Andrea [wink].

Is Hirschfeld the guy who does the NINAs (56A: Artist Hirschfeld and namesakes=>ALS)? Didn't know he was an AL, nor did I know Chief Whitehorse and his tribesmen were OTOS, but I got those plurals easily enough from crosses. I was baffled by 63D: Jazz saxophonist Gordon, familiarly for a few seconds, until I realized I owned a DEXter Gordon album. I just wondered what I'd call him if I were speaking to him familiarly. "DAD? DEXY!? No, probably just DEX. But that would mean a five-letter answer starting with "X" at 70-Across. Complimentary close, again? XANAX? XEROX?" I could go on.

  • 26D: Motivations for some bungee jumps (DARES) — if that is your motivation, you are a weak-willed idiot.
  • 50D: Friend of Kukla (OLLIE) — like a Friend of Dorothy, only *way* gayer.

["Sorry, Fran, I'm a madcap..."]

  • 29D: Julius Dithers's wife in "Blondie" (CORA) — a crossword staple whose name I always botch, though today I CAME gave me the "C," which made it easy ("I CAME" also an important revelation in the tell-all autobiography "I, FIDO").
  • 58D: "Come Sail Away" band, 1977 (STYX) — this song reminds me of the final scene of the pilot episode of the (great) TV series "Freaks & Geeks." Then of course there's Cartman's version.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

P.S. "Mighty" is in the clue for MIRA (27D)... which is a pretty mighty oversight (see 24A).


fikink 7:27 AM  

Tit-willow, tit-willow, tit-willow.

Went for Bugsy SEGAL and found out later that he spelled his name "Siegel" - must have been thinking of George and, not until the end, did I come up with MORAN.

Loved ARE YOU NUTS and HATCHET JOB which reminds me, a couple of mean girls got ahold of me recently and, after a few glasses of wine, convinced me they should cut my hair. Speaking of "weak-willed idiot," @Rex. - A real Dumb Debby.

Can't remember the last time I saw KF&O. Thanks, @Rex.

RISE AND SPIT - very rural.

A fun puzzle, Michael and APEX!

"subsenti" - dimwitted

Glimmerglass 7:28 AM  

RISE AND SPIT kind of makes sense (it's not wise to spit lying down). TOUCH AND STOP (advice to a teenage lover)?

dk 7:29 AM  

I liked the yin and yang, pitch and yaw of this puzzle.

And, I am always happy to get an extra X from Acme.

TIT (despite my inner 12 yr old joy) was a puzzler. The rest of the puzzle flowed nicely as Andrea's creations are oft wont to do.

Back to moving to Western Wisconsin. They do not laugh at my Resistol there.

*** (3 Stars) I like (insert squash jealous rage about here) the team of Blake and Michaels.

joho 8:06 AM  

I did this late in bed, super tired from early morning thunderstorms causing lack of sleep along with earlier evening tornado sirens wreacking havoc with my nerves. The point of this story being: this puzzle picked up my spirits immeasurably. I smiled through the whole thing and laughed out loud at AREYOUNUTS?

TIT mouse and TIT willow are very familiar to me so no problem there. Isn't TIT for tat a phrase, too? (@dk, have I said TIT enough to tintillate your inner 12 yr. old boy?)

Loved the XOXOX/APEX crossing, just like a real sign off in a letter.

Thank you, Michael Blake and Andrea Carla Michaels, for this fun, original Tuesday!

joho 8:08 AM  

Please delete "c" from wreaking!

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

All the theme answers work with the and except spit. Its just spit shine those boots. Other than that a great puzzle Acme, Apex? Not your average tuesday unless Will is ramping it up a bit which is fine by me. Golfballman

OldCarFudd 8:19 AM  

The AINGE/MIRA crossing was a personal Natick, since I'd never heard of either name.

I've heard of spit shine, a particularly glossy treatment for shoes, but not spit AND shine.

A fun Tuesday.

davko 8:46 AM  

Nearly everything a Tuesday should be, offering quality fill (RAO, TIT, TAN, SUR), and clever, playful clues while still managing to keep the difficulty level in check.

I had only one small reservation about the theme. Not that it was a bad one -- I actually liked the pairing of "partnered" words -- but the fact that AND was a dead giveaway in each of these answers. If you happened to get the second paired word first, you just had to back in this freebie, dumbing down the whole solving process. But then again, one must be mindful of the day: If it's Tuesday it Must Be... Easy.

As for 6D, I don't know why I always assumed it to be "Yada, yada, yada " (with just a single D), as when spoken by Jerry Seinfeld's inimitable Elaine, et al. Maybe just one of those oral constructs with no proper spelling. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Can someone please explain how one reflects on an axis (2D)? This might be a question for Retired Chemist (re: structure of crystals?), I'm not sure.

Foodie 8:53 AM  

I have friends who come from really different worlds and I often think it would be hilarious if they met. I would never be able to guess whether they'd mesh or hate each other. This is what the theme of this puzzle brought to mind. I really enjoyed watching what emerged from the combinations-- something funny, harmonious, odd, dissonant, it's all part of the surprise of the collision! Great theme, highly original!

ARE YOU NUTS is fantastic. APEX came with a little wink.

What a fun Tuesday! Thank you Michael and Andrea!

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Hugs and kisses for Andrea and Michael!!!

Does 65A pass the breakfast test??

It's chef bea here. Google wont let me in :-(

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

WARNING: blogger is eating comments again! grrrrr
This is Tobias
Always makes my day do see an ACME puzzle pop up on my screen!
No one was gonna mistake this one for a Monday though I can tell you that. I rate this one as challenging for a Tuesday, I ended up with a solid Wednesday time.I was sure RUSH sang Come Sail Away.At pub trivia I am pretty much worthless at pop music and sports.
Really wanted MORANS to be clued ones that should "get a brain" after the iconic picture of an American with a mullet and a blue stars bandanna at a tea party rally with his homemade protest sign. http://news.lavenderliberal.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/get-a-brain-morans.jpg

Listening to the Cartman clip as I type and giggling like mad.

Gonna print out an extra large stack for the coffee shop crew today!

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

jesser here. Blogger keeps eating my love notes about this puzzle. Damned Blogger. My only complaint is NECRO. Yucko. And I wanted 45A to be hetero, but it refused to be. The way way gay Ollie saved my skin down California way, because I didn't know TUFTS was in Medford, and I knew not grippe or rudimentary French. Thanks, Ollie!

efrex 9:03 AM  

davko: Many symmetrical forms have an axis of reflection. Fr'instance, human beings are bilaterally symmetrical: if you were to imagine yourself cut in half from top to bottom, you could recreate your shape by mirroring each half. The line running from the top of your head, between your eyes and down to your navel is called an axis of reflectional symmetry, or an axis of reflection.

efrex 9:07 AM  

Lots to like in this puzzle, although I share in the SPIT nitpick mentioned above (SPITSHINE, not "spit and shine."). Probably just my dirty mind, but I thought we got a wee bit racy for the Old Gray Broad (not that there's anything wrong with that), what with being PAW(ed) AT, HIT ON, and thrown some XOXOXes during the process. Right back atcha, Micheal & ACME!

Rex Parker 9:13 AM  

Wow, if you think RAO, TIT, TAN, SUR = "quality fill," then we have Very different definitions of the word "quality." RAO in particular is highly suboptimal.

And, yes, NECRO- is icky on two levels. First ... just yuck (UGH), and second, it's the *third* long prefix in this thing (with ORTHO- and THERMO-).


Retired_Chemist 9:19 AM  

Blogger won't let me in either.

65A actually PROVIDES breakfast to some..... :-)

The one that fails the breakfast test for me is 60A.

@efrex is referring to a plane I think. Here is what @ ulrich said the last time AXIS,clued identically, came up (April 13, Liz Gorski):

@ret.-chem.: In a 2D plane, you definitely reflect (the plane or a figure in the plane) about a line, which is sometimes called the "mirror". Since any of the axes is a line, you may safely reflect about it.

Here is one of the most interesting theorems in Euclidean Geometry I know: Any figure can be mapped on any congruent figure in the plane by at most 3 successive reflections. Beautiful!

@archaeoprof: Yes. And in classical buildings, the axis is the center line about which one half of a building plan (or facade) can be reflected to form the other half (that's why it often called bilateral symmetry)

Pick A Vowel ... 9:20 AM  

Same personal Natick as @OldCarFudd turned this into one of my faster DNFs --- guessed O.

Upon further reflection over 3D, depending on the branch of science, through, about, over and to all work, but I have a hard time shaking that spinning feeling that goes with *on an axis*.

Even so, enjoyed this outing --- nice job.


Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Shine and spit is more the way of some high end hotel client recently.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Quilter1 here. Having the same problem posting as others,so try, try again.
I liked the puzzle, liked the inclusion of acme for APEX, and the answers others liked. Very nice Tuesday solve.
Thanks for the Kukla clip. I wonder where the puppets live now?

PIX 9:30 AM  

@45A Straight prefix = Ortho.
As in orthopedics...initially their main job was to straighten kids' ("peds") spines back in the days when kids were not getting enough vitamin D and spinal problems were very common.

hazel 9:57 AM  

Thought this puzzle was catchy. Kind of ironic to me, tho, that some are put off by NECRO (death is a part of life) but could argue for hours over the inhumanity of GISMO. Maybe theres no overlap in this particular Venn diagram and this is just another of my tuts. Not sure. XOXOX anyway!

Blogger can not fool the IPAD (typos and all)!!

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

I saw The Mikado just last night, so the willow clue was a gimme. And I remembered singing the song in elementary school.

thursdaysd 10:07 AM  

Nice one, although I had two naticks requiring guesses, two guesses in the case of AINGE/MIRA. I had BEE before TEA but it didn't last long.

Another fan of HATCHET JOB, also the clues for ON RED, EGG and POBOY.

jackj 10:09 AM  

It's hard to criticize my favorite Monday constructor but, by including SPIT, the tight constraint created for the theme entries is bastardized, presumably just to get "Acme" into the puzzle as a clue (for APEX).

"SPIT and shine" is not in anyone's book of quaint sayings, (with the possible exception of Roseanne Barr), and doesn't fit as a theme answer here, either.

Highlight of the puzzle was the clever inclusion of the BEQesque AREYOUNUTS( !!??).

Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

I think the pairing is spit and polish.
The SW did me in. A DNF on a Tuesday!!??
My French sucks, including Medford Mass was no help, didn't know grippe either.
ther than that I enjoyed it.

Two Ponies

Mel Ott 11:03 AM  

My favorite sandwich of all time is an Erster PO' BOY.

Agree with the comments re SPIT SHINE.

Good puzzle. I also loved ARE YOU NUTS and HATCHET JOB.

fikink 11:07 AM  

Is it possible that blogger is only working on Macs today? I know @dk and I both use one and Hazel vouched for the iPad. No wonder there are Apple conspiracy theories. Are all y'all on PCs?

@Hazel, I'm with you on NECRO. S**t happens.

syndy 11:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
XWDer 11:18 AM  

Sometimes the clue word is the first word in the familiar phrases, sometimes it's the second. This is fine, but ideally answers that feature first words are symmetrical with answers that feature first words and answers that feature second words are symmetrical with answers that feature second words.

This asymmetry bothered me so much, I did not like the puzzle at all, just a random combination of words in my view.

.. and yet, I gave this an extra star on CrosswordFiend because I like acme's work!

syndy 11:20 AM  

Complete joy! PAW AT crossing POKE ! AXIS to ACME ! I'm going to start using the prase SPIT AND SHINE!(what kind of a grump would complain about an extra Kiss?) Blogger no eat my POST!

syndy 11:24 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arundel 11:36 AM  

Loved it, loved it, loved it! Thanks Andrea and Michael. Tuesday is a funny day on the axis of easy and complex.

For me there wasn't much in this one that wasn't gettable from the crosses, no matter how obscure they seemed at first. My favorites were DRYANDMIGHTY, and AREYOUNUTS. And then there's the strange confluence of the not-terribly-common tribe of OTOs both yesterday and today. That's the cosmos talking.

BTW, I'm on a PC and using Chrome as my browser if that tells you anything. Google products, both.

r.alphbunker 11:38 AM  

I liked the puzzle. The "AND" theme seemed appropriate for acme who often collaborates with other constructors.

Is there such a thing as an acme number, similar to an Erdos number?

SPIT AND SHINE brought back memories of the Army for me, but the term I am familiar with is spit shine. I was never any good at spit shining boots. Once, however, I achieved a perfect shine on one boot but could not reproduce it on the other. I ended destroying the perfect shine.

Lindsay 11:52 AM  

RISE AND SPIT made my day, particularly as I was solving while composing a testy email about an improperly executed agenda item at a public meeting:

"Madam Chair, I RISE AND SPIT on your failure to call for a secret ballot vote on the motion under consideration ...."

I only know MORAN in relation to tugboats, but the crosses made it clear.

Have a good Tuesday everyone.

Tobias Duncan 11:59 AM  

@r.alphbunker You stole that right out of my brain!!!! ACME number indeed!I am not even joking, I almost posted the same thing but figured folks here thought I was dorky enough already.
Thats the last time I take off my tin foil hat.

still unable to get in
using pc and google chrome

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Loved the off beat theme, which played medium to me. Only glitch was 25D which was BMIN/DMAJ about six times. This is a benefit of trying to be a musical wise guy.

My alternate WOTD: Danny AINGE. Never, ever heard that name.

Tried to post this comment around 9, blogger was picking on me, too. May have to rename Google to gismo. John V here. Blogger still OTL.

JaxInL.A. 12:11 PM  

No Blogger problems on this iPad either.

I liked all the obvious stuff about this puzzle, but I also thought that NECRO, ORTHO and THERMO made for a sort of sub-theme, a cool collection of Latin prefixes. Didn't bother me at all. I smiled at the many possible double entendres. I definitely thought this one could be interpreted as a little racy, as @efrex enumerated.

Thanks, Rex, for the silly puppet clip. I didn't realize that "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" (at its height) had ratings comparable to Milton Berle and Ed Sullivan. Clearly not just for kids. I figured that the Smithsonian must now have Kukla, Ollie and the other Kuklapolitans created by the legendary Burr Tillstrom. It seems, though, that Tillstrom felt so strongly about the vibrant characters he had created that his will specifies that any display of the puppets must be dynamic, never showing them as static, inanimate objects.

r.alphbunker 12:31 PM  

How about trying to link acme with Kevin Bacon? To do that you would need an actor with an acme number who is also connected to Kevin Bacon.

But maybe acme is already connected in the usual way given her show business experience (especially if you allow game shows)

jberg 1:28 PM  

Got here late, almost everything's been said, except:

Being from Boston, AINGE was a gimme;

What's with the Latin plurals? One of my two writeovers was ULNAS (54D)

The other was ARE YOU OKAY at 30D - maybe because I immediately thought of my son bungee-jumping at Victoria Falls. I wasn't there, but hearing about it was unnerving.

OTOS are only not-terribly-common in the real world; they crop up in crosswords all the time; very useful because there's an optional E at the end.

Octavian Moran 1:45 PM  

At first I did not like this theme due to the randomness of the phrases.

But then I came to think the absurdity of the phrases is the actual genius.

"Rise and Spit" is just sort of funny. "Prejudice and joy" don't go together at all so they are also kind of amusing. "Dry and mighty" also so bizarre as a pair that you have to smile; they sound like a Dr. Seuss epithet.

Are you nuts? I guess so. As the puzzle says, "Morn enemy on red. XOXOX."

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

@Chefbea - having that problem all day. Also, preview not working.

Did not know RAO or AINGE (sports).

Had bEe before TEA, as in quilting bee.

Love sub-themes: Votes; comlimentary closes.


pizzatheorem 1:50 PM  

Liked this puzzle. Thought the theme was very original even if not executed perfectly. Also found some of the cluing a tad unorthodox which yielded a toughish Tuesday time for me. Loved AREYOUNUTS of course.

Didn't mind the long prefixes, even if they're considered bad fill by others. Bad fill to me is either very boring or very uninferrable/obscure and isn't independent of the cluing. What I mean is that you can't just look at a grid entry and call it bad fill for sure without knowing how it was clued. I like ORTHO, NECRO and THERMO a lot more than some random 3-letter name. That said, I'm not in love with RAO.

captcha is havugle, the sound made by a klaxon.

Masked and Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Thought this puz was hungry and evil. (Good partners)

I find it is always advisable to rise before one spits. Emily Post, etc.

Thumbs up, Andrea darlin'. You too, Michael dude. Nice 6-pack of U-know-whats. Fave clue: "Acme"; woulda been sweet if the answer had also been ACME.

Wavy word of the day: sockemou. Sounds like some kinda bird puppet.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

CoffeeLover here. Blogger ate my post too, but thanks to warnings here, I had copied it!

@RetiredChemist, thanks for refreshing my memory about an AXIS of reflection. I did remember this tricky clue from the April puzzle, and was pleased I did, but the details did not store in my brain.

@Thursdaysd, also BEE before TEA. mISt before WISP, sun before HOP, and ooh before TRA. I waited for the crosses before entering OTOS instead of uTeS.

When I went to bed I was trying to think of an alternative to SPIT, as entered in this puzzle. I could only come up with RAIN OR shine, so that would have violated the consistency of the theme also.

@Rex, really liked the DEXter Gordon. Cartman, not so much.

I did truly enjoy the puzzle, as it had enough moments where I had to pause, then could think Aha! Thanks, Andrea and Michael.

Bemused... 2:15 PM  

@Rex Parker 9:13 AM said...

Wow, if you think RAO, TIT, TAN, SUR = "quality fill," then we have Very different definitions of the word "quality." RAO in particular is highly suboptimal.


Rex or anyone,

What defines "quality fill" as relates to three-letter entries? Any principles or examples?

This issue seems to keep coming up, courtesy of OOXTEPLERNON, but all I see are what Rex cites as negative examples. Specifically, what is wrong with "TIT, TAN, SUR"?

Sparky 2:18 PM  

Had sky before DRY; same thought re SPIT shine. @jesser, tried hetro but that's not how you spell it. Everyone's said it all.

I just loved Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Sigh.

Enjoyable solve Michael and Andrea.

Have been distracted for a few days. Am back in NYC. Have a lot of catching up to do re this blog and other stuff. Have a good week.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

I'm amazed the left side of this puzzle made it past the censors. On top is the PAW AT, POKE and KISS corner, the bottom has TOUCH hovering over the intersection of TIT and NUTS, and I CAME is sandwiched right in between.

I giggled quite a bit.

Masked and Anonymous II 2:28 PM  

RAO is quality fill. It's the clue that's hurting. Better clue: "Paddle against the flow". (Thanks, Erul.)

Clark 2:28 PM  

I had fun doing this puzzle -- especially guessing the theme answers before the crosses were in. I didn't notice who the constructors were til I came to the blog. Thank you Michael and Andrea. (Usually when there is an acme in the clue or answer I think to check. I was just in too much of a hurry. But I did smile and think of you, Andrea, as I wrote in APEX.)

chefbea 2:29 PM  

Just got back from a trip to Fayetteville where we drove through none other than ACME NC. I have a friend who lives in APEX NC. Now we'll see if blogger lets me preview or eats this.

It's chef bea here and I have a mac

nope - no preview

Anonymous 2:50 PM  

Great Tuesday puzzle, had fun filling it in. Kiss and show is a riot, as is Rise and spit! XOXOX is pure Andrea, did Michael do all the scientific stuff and Ainge??

Ended up with one mistake; as usual I spelled the actress's name Myra, and obviously Aynge looked just fine to me. I also remembered tit-willow from the song.

@fikink: Noooooo! What did they do to your hair??

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Forgot to sign: Anonymouse at 2.50 is mac.

Glitch 2:55 PM  

Per Google (2:50pm ET):

We're investigating an issue which is preventing login and comment posting for some users, and hope to have a fix released shortly.

Thanks for your patience in the meantime. — latest update on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

[no time of day given, not a good sign - ed.]


Anonymous 3:05 PM  

What's not to like about eight answers ending in O, which I took to be just eight more hugs from ACME?

sanfranman59 3:06 PM  

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

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

Tue 9:24, 8:56, 1.05, 66%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:22, 4:35, 1.17, 89%, Challenging

evil doug 3:07 PM  

I guess it's cute when one of Andrea's fans plugs her nickname into a puzzle. Tiresome in its frequency, but charming now and again. Hey, she's an icon here, so be it.

But when Andrea plugs Andrea's moniker into the puzzle, it's disturbingly narcissistic.

Andrea, your blog posts are always darling and worth reading, and your puzzles are fine. You earned your byline. Let your many fans here exalt you; you don't have to exalt yourself.


CK 3:08 PM  

Is "spit and shine" a thing? Otherwise, SPIT is the only theme answer that doesn't join the clue with "and." I.e. "high and mighty" and "high and dry" vs. "rise and shine" and "spit shine." This really did not sit well with me.

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

@evil doug - You lived up to your moniker.

Thought the puzzle was lively and fun to do. My only sticking area was at MIRA/AINGE, sports minded husband confirmed that the I was correct in AINGE, so I guessed right. Also had to change ulnas to ULNAE.

Good puzzle Andrea and Michael.


Stan 3:44 PM  

Really fun puzzle. We'll be saying "Rise and spit!" for many mornings to come.

Thanks to @joho for noticing the cool APEX/XOXOX sign-off.

Not much to add, but does everyone know that Mira Sorvino went to Harvard? Making a Boston-area sub-theme with Danny AINGE and TUFTS.

Great job, Michael and Andrea!

acme 3:50 PM  

Thanks everyone! This may be long, feel free to scroll past, but I'd like to chime in on the whole backstory.

I keep trying to imagine what I would have thought if this weren't one of my own puzzles, bec as a collaboration it IS in part like solving a stranger's puzzle! (Or at least a good friend's!)
And it was a bit tough for me, but I liked it!

First off, I actually agree by and large with @Rex!
(Tho I think Ollie is probably neither bi- nor large...)

A) MIGHTY in both clue and puzzle IS an oversight. Damn!

(Neither Michael nor I can find a copy of the final submission to check if that was an error on our end or not, so I shall simply look at the second "Mighty" in "Mighty Aphrodite" as a shout out to Woody!)

B) RISEANDSPIT (which I think is really amusing tho not breakfast-y) may very well be MY mistake!
Until I read these comments I thought the phrase "was" SPIT AND SHINE!
But Google seems to say it's either SPIT AND POLISH or just SPIT-SHINE :(
(Not to be defensive, but there are some references to SPIT AND SHINE, but they seem to be names of things, or other people like me who thought that was the phrase...
so that is a theme inconsistency of sorts.)

But it met all the constructor-y criteria:
ie, it was the same amount of letters as another combo AND there was a balance of "the partner" as the first or second part of the phrase AND it made some sort of sense as a stand alone...and and and...YADA YADA YADA)

I think our whole top two rows might have had a facelift, bec at least in one version of our work that I HAVE found (our 5th grid!) POBOY was ENJOY, which would have been a no-no with PREDJUDICE AND JOY...
So either we or Will (or a test solver) caught that, and I think POBOY is lovely and an improvement needless to say...

Neither of us recognize PAWAT/AXIS so the NW corner may have been airbrushed as well!

The style and indeed the genesis of the idea is more Michael than me, in this case.
I'm usually not a big fan of "not real phrases" in the grid
but that's almost the whole point of this, to sort of make up NEW in-the-language phrases...
eg KISSANDSHOW makes me laugh...as does the semi-erroneous RISEANDSPIT!).

I should probably let Michael tell this part of the story, but he's sequestered every Tues on Grand Jury duty!
Michael had (what I thought was) a very very interesting and original idea (that ironically didn't make it into the final grid).

Over lunch one day he shared his idea of combining two halves of other phrases...thus forming a third.
He started with "Alive and well" and "Alive and kicking" and came up with "KICKINGWELL".
(He also had "Cut and dried" and "Cut and Paste" which would be = DRIED PASTE, which is super clever, but shortish, phrase-wise...plus how do you tip off that you left out CUT?)

So my contribution was that "Well and Kicking" might tip off that they were both ALIVE partners...
and that maybe we could come up with whole new partners, sort of like a barn dance, where they'd switch off with each other and create new partnerships with their own inherent meanings.

When solving this last night (so I'd know what folks were talking about, as we wrote the puzzle a year ago) I have to admit I didn't know what "Complimentary close" meant! Plus it was in there TWICE so I "suspect" it wasn't one of our original clues, ha!

Also, for the record, I didn't know RAO (or TIT Willow!) or MORAN but unbelievably know AINGE from my Boston days...
(also my mom's husband and my stepbrother taught at/went to TUFTS)

It felt a bit risque and fun to have KISS AND SHOW and TOUCH AND STOP (which is indeed a shout out to @dk!)

Btw, when PREJUDICEANDJOY turned out to be a 15, we were thrilled, bec then we could have FIVE theme entries!
And Caleb/Ian be damned, five is the new nine!

Retired_Chemist 3:51 PM  

@ the anons who have trouble wih blogger and sign in as anonymous but then sign their nom de blog - FYI you can select the name-url option and just use your nom de blog.

FWIW Blogger bounced me - I use an iMac. The procedure above worked however.

J 3:53 PM  

If you own one Dexter Gordon album--and you should--it should be "Go!"

quilter1 4:28 PM  

I've been in many a staff meeting where I wanted to RISE AND SPIT.
Blogger shows me signed in so I'll try it, but copy first.
Quilter1 over and out.

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

to elaborate on what an Anonymous poster mentioned earlier, I am surprised that more people aren't commenting on how R-Rated this puzzle was! Actual answers include I CAME, TIT, RISE AND SPIT, POKE, RODE, HIT ON, and PAW AT in the same puzzle, with KISS, TOUCH, and NUTS as part of phrases...

-Citizen Dain

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

I knew 56 Across because Al Hirschfeld lived on my block here in Manhattan. I'm posting this anonymously because I can't get into google right now.

Two Ponies 5:17 PM  

Thanks for the back story Andrea.
I read every word.
Earlier this morning I posted that I thought the saying was Spit and Polish but I got no support. Good to know I remembered correctly.
Now if tit willow sticks maybe I'll recall it next time.

Matthew G. 5:23 PM  

(Trying to post this for the third time today ... Blogger won't let me sign in for some reason ... initially tried to post this at 10 a.m.)

I thought this was on the challenging side for a Tuesday, especially because of the SW corner. Finished well above my typical Tuesday time. I can never keep those Kukla/Ollie characters in my brain, and I had ARE YOU OKAY for a long time instead of ARE YOU NUTS. TOUCH also took me the longest to see out of any of the word pairs in the themes.

Acme (Apex?), queen of easy puzzles, you gave me much more of a run for my money than most Tuesdays do!

Unlike Rex, I liked the theme. Frankly, I find all of them fun to say aloud, with a little flex of the grin muscles rising with each one. C'mon, how can you not love the image of RISE AND SPIT? It's so ... contumacious. And TOUCH AND STOP in the grid just two lines away from ... never mind. I liked the theme, there you go. But I agree that the fill was sub-par.

The crossing of MIGHTY with a word clued by "Mighty Aphrodite" made my jaw drop. I'm bothered less by these things than some people, but this one was so flagrant I don't understand how it happened.

chefbea 5:29 PM  

I was able to post on my daughter's blog - lets see if blogger will let me post here

Hoo-ray. I think blogger likes me now

davko 5:52 PM  

@ Bemused... What defines "quality fill" as relates to three-letter entries? Any principles or examples?

I pondered this question too upon considering Rex's caveat. Certainly, not all 3-letter words constitute fill, and maybe what I should have written was "quality words of only a few letters that are fresh or insightful by virtue of their cluing (i.e. 65A) or the actually word itself (i.e. 9D)." It does raise the question, though: if these obscure, hard-earned insertions don't meet the criteria of "quality fill," then what exactly does? Or is fill, by its very nature, just basically junk?

JenCT 5:59 PM  

@Anonymous 2:24 and 4:59 - agree that it's a very risque puzzle!

Hangups were ORTHO and TOUCHANDSTOP.


Didn't know Grippe = FLU.

davko 6:12 PM  

@efrex: In the world of art and cinema, the "axis of reflection" per the human body would be what's referred to as the "sagittal plane."

andrea carla mighty 6:42 PM  

yes, we have found the original submission and the MIGHTY big mistake was indeed ours...
(that's what I was agreeing with @Rex about, NOT that our phrases weren't each zingy in their own right!) ;)
I guess bec the first one in the grid was in such a different context...and the second one was in the clues and must have seemed like it was the clearest way to clue MIRA (altho now I'm thinking we could/should have gone with my buddy MIRA Nair!)
You may now return your jaw to its normal position! ;)

@Citizen dain @4:59
Ha! The R-Ratedness is the mind (hand?) of the beholder! But after all, the whole theme was partner-swapping!

william e emba 6:53 PM  

The only criticism I can make was that I did not like the Naticky crossing of MIRA with AINGE. I did guess the I correctly, but it would not have surprised me in the least to have learned it was some other vowel.

I'm sure 90% of the posters here recognized at least one of the names, so it's 100% legitimate and not actually a Natick.

Hah. The real WOTD is "chalaque".

Kurisu 8:53 PM  

Yeah, I think Mira Sorvino is well-known enough that doesn't qualify as a "true" natick (maybe a personal natick for some people). (For me, CORA/MORAN was the one I couldn't get. I put in CARA/MARAN instead.)

I had the same feeling as Anonymous, by the time I had put in I CAME, I already had PAW AT, KISS AND SHOW, and XOXOX so my mind was in the gutter.

APO pissed me off because I've seen this on crosswords before and every time I promise myself I'll remember it for next time, and I never do.

sanfranman59 10:04 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 7:05, 6:52, 1.03, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 9:45, 8:56, 1.09, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:14, 4:35, 1.14, 89%, Challenging

cody.riggs 10:48 PM  

I disagree MIGHTilY with the notion that this puzzle's theme answers didn't sizzle. I laughed at every one of them.

Perhaps something is lost when one speed-solves. (perhaps? of course!)

I do admit I was primed to expect a pleasant romp when I saw Andrea Carla Michaels' name in the byline. Not only are her comments here consistently delightful, so are her puzzles. Normally I don't solve early in the week, unless it's a name I know. (Yes, Michael Sharp is among them.)

Thumbs up on this one.

Doris 4:57 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 3:34 PM  

If "spit shine" is okay then so is "moonshine" and RISE AND MOON makes me giggle

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

RISEANDSPIT does not fit (RISE AND Show would have worked), but save the odd phrase for one of those subtract-a-letter themes. It's one N away from a common dental phrase.

R-Rated? I had to take a cold shower after finishing this one.

Dirigonzo 3:43 PM  

From syndi-dom, this was a puzzle to be savored - racy comments (at least in the mind (hand?) of this beholder, theme answers that combine in some strange way to form a story just waiting to be told, and Bob&Carol&ted&Alice are all lurking in the background waiting for the partner swapping to get under way! And it had a happy ending!

Speed-solvers and nit-pickers be damned - this was FUN!

barsubz - what they call POBOYs in my neck of the woods.

Nullifidian 4:12 PM  

Syndicated solver here:

I thought this puzzle was a medium-challenging, but that's because of all the baby boomer-era clues that I had no idea about. I'd never seen Johnny OLSON, who died when I was five; never saw the name Peter NERO; had never heard "Come Sail Away" so I obviously couldn't know that STYX performed it; and couldn't name Raja RAO to save my life.

Then there were more clues that required several crosses to remember. I had only the vaguest notion that CORA was the name of the woman in the Blondie strips, Danny AINGE was stuck in the recesses of my memory, and Kukla and OLLIE took some digging as well. All in all, not the easiest set of cultural clues I've ever seen, especially for a Tuesday.

I've seen XOXOX before, so that didn't bother me. In fact, I thought it was rather cute.

Overall, I liked the theme's simplicity, which aided me in finishing out the puzzle when many of the cultural clues refused to fall. I think most of the theme answers were clever formulations, but I have qualms with PREJUDICE AND JOY. This is the one case where it refers to a novel, not a saying, and even if it's a famous novel that doesn't change the fact that it violates the coherence of the theme.

I have heard the term "SPIT AND SHINE", which is primarily a working class Southern formulation. Though I'm in San Diego, half my family is in the South and we're all working class, so I've heard it many times. I'm surprised to see complaints about it and none about PREJUDICE AND JOY.

NotalwaysrightBill 5:53 PM  



Occasionally I get a flash of wavelength somewhere in the middle of a puzzle. Long before APEX I had to peek at the constructor's name to find out that I was quite right this time. Looking at my pocketknife, I see that the scrimshander signed his initials to his work; but anybody can forge letters; ACME's irrepressible delight is her truer signature, IMO: it's more KISSANDSHOW than prescriptive.

Which is why the "extra" X is complimentary instead of whatever the formula for hugs and kisses is supposed by Rex (I had no idea) to be.

Wish fearless leader would let a little bit of Andrea's asymetrical delight rub off. Easiest way to get rid of nonquality fill would be for someone to yank that bat out his butt.

Only truly didn't-meet-the-breakfast-test answer for me was Bugs MORAN. He was originally from St. Paul and it was Bugs' gang that was gunned down in the St Valentine's Day massacre of Prohibition-era Chicago gangland fame. But he left one nasty legacy. Bugs is usually the one given credit for popularizing the "drive-by" style of putting a hit on someone. Charming.

captcha: "squidsei":
deepwater martial arts instructor for those who have lots of arms and are able to squirt ink

eastsacgirl 10:42 PM  

Had a long tired day and this puzzle did the trick. Made me giggle all the way through. For some reason, my paper didn't have the byline of the constructors. Finished in under 10 minutes which is average. Favorites were RISEANDSPIT/AREYOUNUTS.

That would be my response to a dare to bungee jump.

Off to bed in syndi land.

SharonAK 12:36 AM  

Rex, Thanks for the Dexter Gordon.

I would have liked the puzzle a bit more if the new phrases had sounded meaningful to me, most sounded odd.
But it was fun, fun.
LOved Andre'as comment re the suggestiveness - it's theme was about changing partners.

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