Soprano Nixon / WED 6-1-11 / Warren Buffet's sobriquet / 1981 Chrysler debut / Undergrads Greek leadership society / Target many New Yorker cartoon

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: OOO (32D: Tic-tac-toe line ... and a hint to this puzzle's theme) — three-word phrases where all three words start with "O" (and middle word in every case is "OF")

Word of the Day: MARNI Nixon (1A: Soprano Nixon) —

Marni Nixon (born February 22, 1930) is an American soprano renowned for being a playback singer for featured actresses in well known movie musicals. This has earned her the sobriquet "The Ghostess with the Mostess", and "The Voice of Hollywood". She has also spent much of her career performing in concerts with major symphony orchestras around the world and in operas and musicals throughout the United States. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one was nowhere near my sweet spot, and on top of that it was teeming with less-than-wonderful fill, so not much joy for me today. ORACLE OF OMAHA is a nice answer to build a puzzle around, but "ONE OF OURS" is not exactly marquee Cather (Pulitzer notwithstanding), and I've simply never heard of ORDER OF OMEGA. I've also never (or barely) heard of MARNI Nixon or "The Makropulos Affair" or OKEMO (except in some forgotten crossword, I'm sure) (37D: Vermont ski resort), and I didn't know W.A.S.P. was still a thing or that "The New Yorker" still cared (49A: Target of many a New Yorker cartoon). In short, my response was mainly "what year is it?" and "maybe if I were a patrician W.A.S.P. opera-goer from the northeast, this puzzle would be more likeable."

Junk: IOS, OLIOS, CCIX, ABO, POTRO (DEL POTRO would've been just fine), SEG, ORIEL, DFCS, as well as the clues on FEY and FEST. Not junk: the FLIP and FLOP answers (FLIP A COIN and MEGAFLOP) (18A: Make heads or tails of something? and 38D: Big bust). Putting sportsy SHAUN White next to sportsy Juan Martin del POTRO seems slightly cruel to the notoriously sportsphobic, but with all the damn "New Yorker" / opera / FARRAR, Straus and Giroux snootiness everywhere else in the puzzle, I guess it's only fair.

Theme answers:
  • 14A: "Love the skin you're in" sloganeer, once (OIL OF OLAY)
  • 19A: Undergrads' Greek leadership society (ORDER OF OMEGA)
  • 35A: Warren Buffet's sobriquet (ORACLE OF OMAHA)
  • 54A: You need to raise your hand to receive this (OATH OF OFFICE)
  • 60A: Pulitzer-winning novel by Willa Cather ("ONE OF OURS")
IN ARABIC seemed like cheating to me (5D: How a fatwa might be issued). I guess any "IN [insert language here]" phrase will do now. MADOFF is pretty close to a universal gimme as clued (1D: Financial scammer Bernie). BACH was also a gimme, if only because he's a composer in 4 letters (ARNE and ORFF be damned) (23D: Composer with 20 children). Never driven a K-CAR (30D: 1981 Chrysler debut), but I can tell you that BOCA Burgers are pretty tasty (9D: ___ Burger (veggie patty)). We like to use the ground stuff in pasta sauces, though tonight we had wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon that was so gorgeously unimaginably pink that it put the pathetic, wan, farm-raised stuff to shame. Probably cost an arm and a leg, but I didn't really look 'cause when it comes to that kind of stuff I don't want to know. I just want to eat.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]


Octavian XXI 6:41 AM  

Very nice Wednesday puzzle, with some obscure names like Marni Nixon and Order of Omega to lend some midweek spice.

Once again I have to disagree w/ our host, as I love it when the puzzle includes people and things that I have never heard of.

As for fill, I mean -- there were some gems. Flip A Coin, Inebriate, Ankara, Tierod, Odessa and Slime. Very cool.

Three stars, with one missing for the weird plural of Agora, the truly random Roman numeral and one of my three least favorite crosswordese, "olio" (others are olla and etui).

Also, I mean, Willa Cather. Come on. One of the most overrated novelists of the 20th Century. Boring does not begin to describe her style. "One of Ours" is easily one of the worst major books centering on WWI. (It won the Pulitzer for literature.) I challenge anyone to name a worse one.

imsdave 7:12 AM  

Adding NNW, EEE, and IFALL to the garbage list. The idea is fine, but we expect so much more from Ms. Gorski.

Hopefully Greene will show up and do the write-up on MARNI Nixon.

dk 7:19 AM  

Well, I hand the mantle of star assignment to Octavian XXI.

While not a MEGAFLOP this one just cleared the Wednesday bar for me. Every part of this puzzle is just OK.

The lower section was my favorite with a nice mix of clueing and interesting fill.

My conversations with Andrea have given me an increased appreciation for constructing. Ms. Gorski is a constructor I admire and I thank her for this offering. TIEROD is my favorite fill.

Glimmerglass 7:57 AM  

Check the heading It still says Tuesday.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

That NW corner.... Let's Carl the whole thing Orff.

OldCarFudd 8:15 AM  

Toughest Wednesday I can remember. Lots of things I'd never heard of.

I've skied at Okemo, but not recently. It's a pleasant family mountain, but the runs all seem alike, and there's no visual variety. Stand at top of run. Look at bottom of run. Descend, practising linked turns. Repeat.

I was forced to read Willa Cather in 10th grade and haven't seen fit to waste my time with her since.

joho 8:21 AM  

When I see Elizabeth Gorksi at the top of the puzzle I'm immediately excited to solve. Unfortunately today that just didn't pan out.

I had all the words mentioned by @Rex and @imsdave plus OLAV, ELO and OBOE. I really couldn't believe the SW corner. It is practically all crosswordese. And up top there's also DPS, not crosswordese but not great.

I think that because Ms. Gorski is normally so brilliant it really shows when the puzzle isn't.

John V 8:32 AM  

As an opera and tennis junkie, I was glad to see del Poltro show up but had never heard or Marni Nixon. Had BRA for 27A, intially, cried when it turned out to be bib. Alas.

59A was OMITS for a bit, slowed my SE.

Sort of easy side of medium, to me; around 10 mins on paper, which is an okay.

Tobias Duncan 8:37 AM  

I came here today ready to admit to everyone that I was an idiot who must have spent the last 30 years in a cave.I had actually written down the long list of things I had never heard of from ORDEROFOMEGA to NINERS, Rex covered a good chunk of it so it no longer stings quite so much.

@OldCarFudd come up to Taos this winter and I can guarantee you will not be bored on the slopes.

conomist 8:39 AM  

Pretty much what Rex said. The whole DFCS/SEG/OKEMA section was as close to a Natick as you should ever get on a Wednesday. Lots and lots of ugh...

efrex 8:39 AM  

I know she's a beloved constructor, but Gorski puzzles have consistently left me cold, and this did the same. Too much proper-noun trivia (FARRAR, ANKARA, OKEMO) for my taste, although I did like seeing the noun form INEBRIATE.

I can see others enjoying this, but just not my cuppa.

conomist 8:40 AM  

I mean, OKEMO... Clearly this puzzle and I did not see eye to eye.

jesser 9:01 AM  

This was a challenging Wednesday for me. I flat-out guessed at the middle letter of 63A, knowing it had to be either an O or an e. I guessed correctly. I had to do an alphabet run before the M in MAILED appeared. OKEMO? OK.

I've never seen/heard INEBRIATE as a noun. ORDER OF OMEGA was a big WTF that fleshed itself out only through patient crossings.

Writeovers were at 35D, where I first had OLAf, and at 38D, where I tried MEGAFail, before OLIOS buttered my bread. (Sorry.)

I could not tell you what DPS stands for.

What I can say with certainty is that if OldCarFudd takes up Tobias on his offer, he will most certainly NOT be bored by Taos Ski Valley. Watch out for the Volvos.

Happy Wednesday, friends and neighbors.

Oh, and ever since I guest blogged, I don't have captchas anymore. Thus the lack of captcha definitions, which is a plus for some, a minus for others and probably a shrug for most here. :-)

treedweller 9:12 AM  

OKiMO /SiG, anyone?

quilter1 9:41 AM  

Nice and easy for me. Things I didn't know came with crosses. I didn't really notice the O theme until coming here but it was cute. Not a Cather fan either but knew the title. With a shrug, see ya tomorrow.

GILL I. 9:55 AM  

As REX said. Not too much joy for me either and I really like Ms Gorski.
Juan Martin del Potro is so much fun to watch. In Argentina they love their soccer and tennis. It's kinda too bad though that his name is Potro - which means 'hernia.'
After I finished this - and it took me a long time, I was really hoping for a Patsy Cline embed. I'd do it but I don't know how.
BOCA burgers taste like chalk to me but our daughter loves them. I like my hamburgers juicy-greasy.

John V 9:59 AM  

Hands up for liking Okemo, one of many mountains in VT that I and the kids have skiied. As noted, good family mountain, good beginner/intermediate trails, good memories, including my best ever garage-sale wipe-out (see, for example, this poor soul: href: ), ski gear, clothing, etc, in the trees, etc. This is why I now stick to puzzles. Almost never happens here.

Matthew G. 10:00 AM  

Only by Liz Gorski's lofty standards was this sub-par. It still qualifies as a very good Wednesday, if a bit Tuesday-ish in its difficulty level. Other than OKEMO, where I had an unfair advantage (see below), I'm surprised that this was rated challenging by so many. Once I picked up the theme, ORACLE OF OMAHA and OATH OF OFFICE were both gimmes and the grid filled in quickly.

There weren't too many stumbling blocks here, except for EEE (a shoe-size related term I'm not familiar with), MARNI, and not being sure whether it wsa FARRAR, FARRAh, or something else. I've seen ORIEL several times now in grids, but can never remember it, quite.

I didn't mind ORDER OF OMEGA too much, even though I've never heard of it, since it's pretty inferable from the theme (society = ORDER, Greek = Greek letter that starts with O). The weakest theme entry by far was ONE OF OURS, but hey, a Pulitzer's a Pulitzer. Legit.

OKEMO was a gimme for me because I recently returned from a one-year job in central Vermont, and have skied at OKEMO the past few winters. It was initially my favorite mountain, and I bought my skis there, but eventually I learned that locals were disappointed in me for skiing there because it is viewed as the out-of-staters' mountain. By the time I moved away, Pico had become my mountain of choice.

chefbea 10:15 AM  

Too many things I did not know which made this a DNF.

Boca burgers aren't bad if you put a lot of stuff on them...onions, tomato,catsup etc. Maybe even some red white and blue cole slaw!!!

JC66 10:20 AM  

Puzzle evoked fond memories of east coast skiing in the 60's. Shared in a ski house rentals in Machester Ctr, VT most winters. Usually skied Stratton or Bromley, but also OKEMO & Pico. Good times.

David L 10:30 AM  

Puzzle was OK but I want to put in a word for Willa Cather. I read My Antonia and O Pioneers years ago, and found them engaging and evocative of a certain time and place in US history. Haven't read One of Ours, though. The title sounds a bit naff, as they say in my homeland.

I tried to squeeze THESAGEOFOMAHA into 35A but settled on ORACLE once I saw the theme...

Two Ponies 10:34 AM  

Agree that this was not one of Ms. Gorski's best but a nice challenge for a Wed.
I wanted inebriant even though I'm not sure that's a word.
I have one nit to pick. I don't think Tom Thumb was a dwarf. I believe he was a midget. Dwarfism has a specific medical definition.

Tobias Duncan 10:42 AM  

Boca burgers are huge around here, I am always keen to try one but alas I am deathly allergic to meat free products.Discovered this as a child when someone gave me one of those cheesy leather bikers jackets with all the zippers, turns out it was vinyl and I broke out in hives. I had to rub bacon grease all over my torso for the next three weeks.

CoffeeLvr 10:52 AM  

I briefly considered "Wizard OF OMAHA" until my brain re-fired.

The theme helped with solving the bottom two theme entries, but I got tripped up when my success in the East gave me O****s***FICE, I kept trying to think of a phrase ending in OF ICE.

Also, as the "s" indicates, I fell for song-ster, and mis-spelled SHAwN, who I did know. Finally resorted to the check function for both of those, and chipped my way through the crosswordese to solve the Cather novel. Last letter in was the P in WASP, as I had no idea about the tennis player.

I read the clue without thinking and put in gIant for NINER, but that didn't last long.

Really liked FLIPACOIN, BECKON, INEBRIATE, even OILOFOLAY. I found the puzzle middlin'.

I put a little of Bragg's Liquid Aminos on my BOCA burgers. It adds UMAMI and counteracts the normal dryness.

CY 10:59 AM  

@treedweller: seg. is short for (line) segment; would sig. have been able to stand for something? (I had to get OKEMO entirely from crosses though, and then convince myself that it was a plausible-enough name.)

@jesser: Do you know the song Master of the House from Les Miserables?

@Two Ponies: Good point on the difference between dwarfs and midgets. has "a person of abnormally small stature owing to a pathological condition, especially one suffering from cretinism or some other disease that produces disproportion or deformation of features and limbs," so I'd say the clue passes muster, barely, but definitely non-ideal.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

DPS = Double Plays Started


Dough 11:29 AM  

I bet Elizabeth wanted to clue Farrar as "First crossword editor of the NY Times" but Will wouldn't allow it. I thought the puzzle was fine. Loved clues for "flip a coin" and "oath of office." For those of us who know Marni Nixon, it was nice to see her in the Times puzzle again. It's been awhile.

Two Ponies 11:31 AM  

@ CY, The proportions of a midget are the same as everyone else. Dwarves have a very distinctive body with head and torso of normal size but very short limbs.
I think it's late enough in the week to expect accurate clues.

Glitch 11:50 AM  

@Two Ponies

The 2nd definition in @CY's link:

2. an animal or plant much smaller than the average of its kind or species.

Also, from The WED

1. a dwarf whose skeleton and features are of normal proportions

These are both from a *common* usage standpoint, and as such seem correct for the purpose of the puzzle.

OTOH, I agree the medical condition of dwarfism is not something Tom Thumb appears to have suffered.

OTOOH, Midget is not considered PC among some of the *Little People*.


CY 12:00 PM  

@Two Ponies: I know the difference between a dwarf and a midget, when the distinction is drawn; I was just pointing out that dictionaries do support the looser definition of "a person of abnormally small stature" (Random House Dictionary)/"a person of unusually small stature" (Merriam-Webster so I wouldn't go so far as to call the clue "inaccurate".

jackj 12:06 PM  

What, BOCAburgers but no "O, O, Spaghetti-O's"?

In the "one person's pain is another person's pleasure department", OKEMO was a gimme, POTRO was not.

Not her best, but still a Gorski (and that's always good).

syndy 12:06 PM  

I expected more from E GorskiI don't mind not knowing stuff in a puzzle if I have a chance to figure them out.I have heard of MARNI NIXON but put in AGNES first anyway.I wont list the people/things I"ve never heard of but they are extensive I did like "ORACLE OF OMAHA"! BUT i went to bed still reading 5 DOWN as "IN A RABIC" and wondering just what a RABIC was! and agree about general TOM Thumb-not a dwarf at all! PILOT OOO POTRO The high priest of YOU-KNOW-WHO

Rube 12:22 PM  

Too much stuff I've never heard of here... MARNI, DPS, BOCA burgers, TERI, ORDEROFOMEGA, "Turn to Stone" -- and that's in just the first 5 lines. OTOH, INEBRIATE and TIEROD are inspired. Had the usual Friday number of Googles.

Just as OKEMO was a gimme for NorthEasterners, NINER was a gimme for us in the SF Bay Area. Good to see Patsy Cline in a puzzle... she deserves it.

I'm trying to look beyond my ignorance when solving a tough puzzle like this, and see it for it's beauty of construction. Can't see it here -- so agree with Rex.

Sparky 12:22 PM  

Had mINER/MARmI. Left OLAf and never saw clue for 48A. PLANA confused me till I saw it on the monitor and it fell in place. Wanted My Antonia before I caught the theme. Liked FLIPACOIN and INEBRIATE. So, several spots of error. An okay day; fair to middlin'.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

had rib as front cover for the longest time, made it hard to see in arabic. doh!

thursdaysd 12:52 PM  

Despite all the unknown-to-me names I managed to finish this fairly fast with some guesses, although I needed to change OLAf to OLAV to get the happy pencil. The people I didn't know were balanced by the places I did - well, aside from OKEMO - and I actually knew Shaun White - although I wanted to spell him Shawn.

But BOCA? Tofu - yes. Bean - yes. But I'd never heard of Boca. I just googled it - certainly won't be eating any!

Gimli 1:14 PM  

42D could have been a good LOTR answer. Harumph.

davko 1:26 PM  

I had never heard of a lot of this stuff either, but in some ways, this made solving all the sweeter. Thus, I'm reluctant to skewer this puzzle for all its arcana -- and there was plenty of it -- because it forces you to use a different strategy, intuiting obscure answers (like ORACLE OF OMAHA) that, by logic, make perfect sense and, in fact, couldn't be anything else. That Ms. Gorski did all this while avoiding Naticks and teaching us an odd thing or two along the way deserves commendation.

Clark 1:55 PM  

So what's with AGORAE as the plural of Agora. I found an english language dictionary that lists this as an alternate spelling of the plural in English. But where did that come from? The plural in Greek would be agorai. The plural in English should be agoras.

Ondrea kcar-la Michaels 2:02 PM  

I didn't know anything either, so ended up with ROllER for ROCKER!
I guessed the ski resort was OLEMA.
And I'm a veggie who didn't even know BOCA Burger! Nor that novel, nor the sports guys...
But yes, I'm in the camp that likes to learn something new everyday.

Lots of mistakes, I see I had tOFF/tPS too!

Altho I had BETA and OMEGA from the beginning, a lot of the rest of the fill was all Greek to me!

DPS? DFC? POTRO? Is Shaun White the crazy red haired guy?

So even tho I didn't know anything, I was super-impressed that there were 5 phrases that had OOO. SO that made a cool reveal and was very very helpful in the solve, as a neat little theme should be.

The only thing that thru me off was the sound of the O in both One as a W and in OURS as all the rest have a clear Oh of Oh sound.
So a bit of a clunker to end on.
But La Liz continues to be magnificent in my mind...and for those who don't think it's up to par, look at the theme/construction again and you will appreciate it for the freshness and ingenuity and all the words that have never appeared in a puzzle before, plus the sweet shout out to Margaret FARRAR!
so XXX on this OOO puzzle!

jberg 2:10 PM  

Never heard of ONE OF OURS, and O Pioneers is not only the same number of letters, but has 3 letters in common - so it took me some time to get over that one. Possible future theme: 9-letter Willa Cather titles.

I also wanted sage OF OMAHA, but that was easier to fix.

Haven't we seen a lot of gadzillions/bajillions/zillions = a lot/tons/a ton lately? Time for new clues!

Rex asks what year is this? Clearly, 209.

JenCT 2:21 PM  

We pass Okemo on our way to Killington.

Many writeovers: was sure that 14a was LUBRIDERM, had OLAF for OLAV, and also had BRA before BIB, del POSTO before POTRO.

@chefbea: totally agree that BOCA burgers need a lot of dressing-up! I prefer Morningstar Farms'.

Lewis 2:22 PM  

I am a relative newbie to crosswords compared to you pros, and was mighty proud to have completed this puzzle without Google. I made one mistake -- "sig" instead of "seg", rationalizing that it was short for "signature", a line at the end of a letter, when clearly "seg" is the correct answer.

I enjoy reading your comments and have one question to you more experienced puzzle solvers: Do you start with the across answers then move to the down, or vice versa, or something completely different??????

KarenSampsonHudson 2:29 PM  

Did this outside, keeping watch on the first big batch on chicken this season in the smoker~~using cherrywood chips. Gloriously delicious aroma took the edge off a couple stumpers in the puzzle.

Matthew G. 2:38 PM  

By the way -- I meant to mention this in my first post -- OKEMO Mountain was one of SHAUN White's primary practice sites in his youth and early pro-snowboarding career. Not sure if Liz was aware of this when constructing, but it's nice to see them so close in the grid.

agorae carlae michaels 2:45 PM  

oh, oh, lots of typos in my post...

@Matthew G
So SHAUN is who I was thinking of. and am now wondering if it's pronounced OAK-a-MO.
( I hope it's not O-Chemo...that would be depressing.)

Martin 2:47 PM  


Different solvers have different styles. Speed solvers (the sort who complete a puzzle like this in around three minutes) will probably attack it differently online than on paper. Watching the fastest on paper, they seem to do both across and down at the same time. I'm no speed solver but I find myself glancing at a down clue to confirm an across entry I'm working on, and I think the pros do the same and then fill both in where I might wait until I get to the down pass to fill that one in. It seems "touch only once" would make sense if you're trying to shave seconds.

Speed solvers also have to read the "next" clue while they fill in the "current" answer, and this tends to direct the solve order.

I often do the downs first, for the simple reason that long theme entries are usually acrosses and I'm less likely to get those in the first pass. If the long entries are downs, I'll do the acrosses first. If the theme entries are not long, I tend to do across first.

But there's certainly no "right" way, especially if you're not solving against the clock.

fergus 2:48 PM  

MARNI Nixon was infamous in my childhood for having the audacity to sing all the Julie Andrews songs on our record of "Mary Poppins." When my mother revealed this from the record sleeve it was worse than Santy Claus's fraudulence.

A couple of tough squares amid an easy solve seems to be the Wednesday signature.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:51 PM  

O - O - O! Oh, Oh, Oh!! Working from only the first "F" of 18 A, "Make heads or tails of something?", I confidently threw in FIGUREOUT, thereby not only missing a wonderful bit of wordplay, but also creating the need for a great deal of write-over! D'oh!

Pete 3:03 PM  

@Martin & @Lewis - Glad you guys are finally speaking to one another. It's been way too long.

@Lewis - One rule of thumb is that it is easier when you've got the start of words already in place. With this in mind, for every block, I read the across clue, have a couple of guesses in mind, then switch to the downs to see what matches, go back to the across clue directly below to verify. I pretty much re-start this in every new nook in the puzzle.

Lewis 3:26 PM  

@Martin -- thank you for the helpful tips. I've thought about doing the downs first for the very reason you mention.

@Pete -- VERY funny first comment, and I'll try your suggestion -- thank you!

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

"Target of many a New Yorker cartoon?"
Stupid clue.
It's an abbreviation and the clue didn't indicate that.
+ Rex was right: "what year is this?"
Stupid clue.

Jim 3:49 PM  

Anon 11:27:

The clue called for 'stats', i.e., plurals. So it's DPs, or double plays, quite a widely-known abbreviation. I'm a baseball fan, and even I wouldn't know Double Plays Started...that's pretty obscure.

Few have kvetched about the R in FARRAR / ORIEL. No idea on either, so I had to run the alphabet and check my solution, well, hmm...18 times before it came back clean. Well, not exactly. I didn't try all the vowels...that would've been a little stupid.

OKEMO is the LAST place I ever skied. Senior year of high school. I hit a groomed lip at probably 25 MPH, doing my best Eddie the Eagle impression, and lost every piece of equipment and clothing except my pants when I finally landed. That, plus a concussion, which affected my short-term memory...that, plus a concussion, which affected my short-term memory. :)

Those who are used to skiing the ice mountains of the NE know what I'm talking about.

SEGment is consistently one of the most disgusting words in the English language.

Martin 3:57 PM  

Once again, an abbreviation signal is required only for abbreviations, not initialisms or acronynms. The signature of an abbreviation is having to know what it abbreviates in order to pronounce it. If you read "Thu." as "thoo," you show you're really bad at English. No special knowledge is needed to read "WASP." It's an acronym, which doesn't count as an abbreviation in Crossworld.

Rex's very different criticism, that WASPs are not funny anymore, is credible but not aligned with the actual number of cocktail party and country club cartoons still published every week. Yes, those could be WASPy looking Jews, but I doubt it.

Sfingi 4:01 PM  

Had Stowe before the unknown OKEMA and scratched my head over all the others mentioned by Rex. But, this is how I learn.

@Bob K - I also started with FigureOut.

@Clark - excellent research!

Looked up Ms. TAI Babilonia. So beautiful, I wanted to know her ethnicity: African-American, American Indian and Filipina.

Whenever I see ORIEL, I think of Troy, NY, because these windows are 2nd story things, supported by corbels, not like your ranch house bay window additions.

FARRAR Strauss, major publisher of Nobel and other winners. Logo is 3 fish.

fikink 4:09 PM  

Thought this puzzle took me so long because I am in fly-over country and don't frequent East Coast ski resorts or, like @Tobias, do not partake of BACO burgers. I salute you, @Quilter, fellow corn-fed beef stater!.

Haven't heard the word "snootiness" in a coon's age, but I really don't think Elizabeth Gorski was being a mean girl. Some lovely cluing, imo, like "garden party" for EVE. Vuvuzela!

Speaking of lovely language, "middling" - Ha! Nicely played, @CoffeeLvr, @Sparky.

Somehow I knew that The New Yorker routinely took on WASPs, but, more accurately, I think it targeted YUPPIES.
(William Hamilton was killer!)

My fav word of the grid is DOFF for it always recalls Noel Coward's Men About Town, which I cannot get out of my head now.

Bet @Dough is right about wanting to clue FARRAR with Margaret.

@Matthew G., thanks for that tidbit on SHAUN.

Had SLEW for A LOT. Knew SHAUN, but not DFCS. And the guaranteed OF mid all theme answers allowed me to finish.
Not up to snuff, but definitely not codswallop.

@Lewis, I am not a speed solver and tend to weave. Later in the week, I macramé.

sanfranman59 4:24 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)

Wed 13:19, 11:48, 1.13, 80%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:54, 5:49, 1.19, 89%, Challenging

Hurumph 4:30 PM  


The NYer cartoons lampooned WASPS long (longer and still) more than those Y [oung]U [rban]P [ofessional] PIES of the 1980's.

Octavian XXI 4:43 PM  

Was reminded of one other OOO phrase from my days at a certain large software maker where all the engineers and program managers had a culture of using a TLA to communicate whenver possible. (TLA = three letter acronym)

When you were not in the building, you set your status as OOF, which stood for "out of office." I wondered a long time why it wasn't OOO, and finally asked an oldtimer who said the original phrase was "out of facility."

More on this fascinating topic:

Matthew G. 4:49 PM  

@andrea: I'm afraid it is indeed pronounced "Oh chemo!" Sorry to depress you. Don't do anything rash.

@sanfranman: Those numbers are really surprising. I'm way under the "all solvers" time and close to the top 100 solvers time, neither of which is normal for me. I must have been in some weird zen-solving mode with this one. I suppose every dog has his day, and today was mine. I'll take it.

Three and out.

John V 5:07 PM  

@Jim, I'm lovin' the NE ice. That's why God gave us edges :)

Captcha sishbox: Where you land after a bad day of sishing at Okemo.

Stan 5:25 PM  

INEBRIATE has never appeared in an NYT puzzle. SOT has appeared 81 times.

The Cather title looks like 1:04's.

It would be cool if EVE sang I FALL to Pieces.

BigSteve46 5:26 PM  

Some points:
1. There is no such thing as a good veggie burger.
2. I like obscure stuff that I don't know and have to intuit, as much as the next guy, but - they should be separated. Like I don't like having two obscure athletes right next to each other, like "Shaun" and "Potro."
3. I have no idea who the people are who make up these puzzles and I intend to keep it that way.

From the "Oracle of Pelham, New York."

Ruth 6:02 PM  

Well, it's late in the day and I can only hope someone reads to help my ignorance: what on earth does the clue "what "-" means in a google search" MEAN? I came here confident someone else would have asked the same question by now and am devastated to find myself apparently alone in the dark. Please help!

thursdaysd 6:07 PM  

@ruth - means don't show results that include the following term. Has the same effect as going to "Advanced search" and using "But don't show pages that have... any of these unwanted words:"

Stan 6:25 PM  

Ruth: It means NOT in a Google search. Like if you wanted to search for Paris, but not Paris Hilton, you could type 'Paris -Hilton' in the Google search bar.

Since the Internet is not really a database, this won't always be successful in eliminating what you don't want -- but it can have some influence on your search results.

fikink 7:12 PM  

@Hurumph, you are indeed correct, Sir/Madame. WASPs have been in existence far longer than the young, upwardly mobile professionals of the '80s. How narcissistic of me to speak of my own experience with the New Yorker! I should have thought about the album of NYer cartoons in my parents' bookshelf. FIL still talks in those terms.

captcha "fictory" - pyrrhic

CoffeeLvr 7:32 PM  

@Stan, LOL at Eve singing IFALL.

michael 7:32 PM  

liked it, didn't find it too hard, live in the middle of the country (though I did live the first half of my life on the right coast most of the time)

Haven't seen too many WASPS in New Yorker cartoons lately.

mac 8:18 PM  

A little disappointing for a ECG puzzle - we've been spoiled.
Still, got it all without help, although there were plenty of names and terms I didn't know.

Anonymous 8:46 PM  

I am surprised that nobody has commented on MEGA FLOP. I have never seen Dolly Parton's name spelled that way.

Z 10:02 PM  

Enjoyed these comments way more than the puzzle itself.

I have to agree with @ fergus about being really easy with one or two (or three) really hard squares.
Didn't realize those were WASPs in the New Yorker. I can accept the 'white' but rich white people are not anglo-saxon or even protestant in my neighborhood. I guessed wasH(ington). Then OKEMO is a complete Natick for me. Drove through Stowe last summer, stayed near Smuggler's. Used to live in Okemos. Never heard of Okemo. Since running the alphabet gave me LEG and that didn't fit as an abbreviation I ended up flying through the whole puzzle only to end up with two blanks and error.

sanfranman59 10:20 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 6:40, 6:52, 0.97, 44%, Medium
Tue 7:49, 8:55, 0.88, 18%, Easy
Wed 13:20, 11:48, 1.13, 80%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:40, 1.01, 58%, Medium
Tue 4:03, 4:35, 0.88, 14%, Easy
Wed 6:35, 5:49, 1.13, 83%, Challenging

mac 10:45 PM  

@Rex: we had the exact same fish last night. With asparagus and an ear of corn.

bcbnyc 11:16 PM  

I'm a patrician opera-going WASP from the northeast, and even though I got "The Makropulos Affair" with no problem, I didn't like it that much, either.

CY 11:31 PM  

@sanfranman Thanks for providing the stats that you do. It's a great idea, and I definitely appreciate it. It's nice to have a relatively objective measure of a puzzle's level of difficulty (which, more often than not, lines up with my subjective sense of it).

Sfingi 11:42 PM  

@Anon846 - when my son was a wee lad, he referred to them as the Dolly Pardners.

Nighthawk 2:55 AM  

@Sfingi Dolly Pardners cracked me up.
@Anon 8:46 So did MEGA FLOPS.
@fikink. "tend to weave. Later in the week, I macramé." Coffee sneeze funny!

Lots of women and music in this one, which was nice for a Wed. Or any day. Never heard of MARNI Nixon, but nice to learn of the "Ghostess with the Mostest" and, thank goodness, another Nixon. DONNA, TERI, EVE, and ALICIA. And perhaps anKARA and Dolly. ELO, OPERA, BACH, and the great Patsy Kline. SWEE!

Bromely, Stowe, even Pat's Peak, and Waterville Valley, sure. OKEMO a total unknown.

captcha: reoganqu. Those who rejoined the tribe.

GILL I. 8:26 AM  

@Nighthawk: I'm in love !
It's after 5 in the morning, I'm doing a BEQ puzzle and I'm listening to Patsy Cline.....

SharonAK 6:24 PM  

Was no one else bothered by the clue for 4D "Western U..s. oil giant" instead of "Former western..."
ARCO has not existed as a company since BP took it over (at the ARCO president's request)in 2000. Had the "a" in place so did think ARCO but hesitated to put that down.
Is it accepted to speak of past organizations, etc, as present?

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Easy peasy--until I moved to the SW (something I did in real life last year). There I was well and truly Naticked! Ironically, it was Google that gave me the howdy-do to Mr. del POTRO, surely the single most obscure name in all of sport. And WASP? What was that, the 70's?? I was never gonna get that one.
The fill in this one, I agree, is atrocious. NNW next to EEE--flanked by IOS and the ubiquitous OBOE--was particularly stinky.
And I'd like to say, hot as Ms. Hatcher is, let's have a shout out for TERI Garr, a marvelous actress with a flair for comedy and oh yeah--an equally hot bod.

Ben "The Best" Tuthill 11:28 AM  

MEGAFLOP is one of the worst answers I've ever seen. Is that a thing people say?

Doug 12:27 PM  

Potro = hernia? Maybe in slang. It means foal or colt in standard castellano, so Juan del Potro is, more or less, John (Jonathan) Colt.

I didn't care for the spelling of the patron saint of Norway (I think we can agree it's "Olaf"). I do believe that "Olav" is the patron saint of washing in Norway, though.

I'm not sure about wasps being the target of NY cartoons, maybe snobs. Wasps themselves have always been overrated and vilified. As ethnic groups go, a study years ago found that wasps (white anglo saxon protestants) ranked behind many hyphenated groups in income: German-, Italian-, Polish-, Irish-, Japanese-, Chinese- and Korean-Americans. Well, what can you say, you gotta have enemies or where can you aim your stones you're throwing?

Willa Cather. I had to read "My Antonia" and "O Pioneers" in high school and never looked back.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

I read an article about veggie burgers in the Food and Wine section just before starting this puzzle. Boca burgers were rated near the bottom. Ironically I didn't even see the clue for BOCA until I was almost done with the puzzle.

Another thing I didn't notice until I finished was the ampersandwich-like answer at 3D. That's kind of how I felt over the weekend.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  


ARCO still exists here on the west coast.

EverAfter 3:21 PM  

Oh, I know it's too late, but will someone please explain to me how "garden party" is EVE?

Z 3:49 PM  

@EverAfter - Snake: How many in your party? Adam: Two, my wife, Eve, and myself.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:50 PM  

@EverAfter - According to the Good (Legal) Book, Adam was the PARTY of the first part and Eve was the PARTY of the second part. . .

NotalwaysrightBill 3:56 PM  

Syndi-late puzzler.

Notable for how fast I solved this considering how much I didn't know.

Flyoverer so I dunno no DONNA Karan New York from OKEMO BOCA burgers which do not BECKON, come nowhere near my "sweet spot."

It all felt like some FEY world where FAGIN, Bernie MADOFF and other SLIME from the ORDEROFOMEGAOILOFOLAV connive to have Tom Thumb be a DWARF instead of a midget and IFALL to pieces because some imposter MARNI Nixon impersonates Julie Andrews playing Mary Poppins in order to make Disney have a MEGAFLOP. Next thing Dolly's Pardners won't be real either and somebody'll force me to read Willa Cathers.

Time to go back to PLANA to the MAX, BAM=" . . . like THAT": BRER Rabbit (OBOE plays): "Eh, what's up, doc?"

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

Eve was one of the "parties" in the Garden of Eden.

Dirigonzo 5:27 PM  

In my estimation this was a wonderful puzzle, one to be savored like a fine wine not thrown back like a cheap whiskey. It had nuance (I'm not a drunkard, I'm an INEBRIATE), it had Patsy Kline, and it had triple (count 'em - three!) O's right down the center and in all the theme answers! Damn, that is one satisfying puzzle! Thank you, ECG (at times like this I wish I still smoked.)

GILL I. 10:17 PM  

@Doug 12:27
Castellano can be a world apart from South American spanish. Try explaining some fruit names - not to mention not using the word "drawer."
I bring this to you live from "Espana" where I'm enjoying my croquetas and vinitos.

EverAfter 5:29 PM  

Thank you, @Z, @Bob Kerfuffle, and @Anonymous4:10PM. I needed all three of your explanations for it to make sense to me.

Thank you @Z for the smile, @BobK for the esoteric, and @Anon for the final penny-drop.


Weighing in from syndication land, lo these many weeks later. I discovered "One of Ours" by Googling my daughter's name one day and finding it as a very, very minor, fleetingly mentioned character in this book. So I bought it and read it... I actually found it kind of pleasant. Fun to see the kid's name in print in a Pulitzer-winning book!

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP