Retreat 1970s-'80s New York City club / WED 8-31-11 / Victim in Camus's Stranger / 1922 Physics Nobelist / Reindeer herder

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Beach Boys hits — 5 of them

Word of the Day: AMORIST (37A: Smitten one) —

["Did you mean 'define amorous'?" No, I didn't]

  1. One dedicated to love, especially sexual love.
  2. One who writes about love.

[Latin amor, love; see amorous + -IST.]

• • •

Pretty straightforward Wednesday fare. Only trouble I had was navigating the grid—found the theme answer placement awkward on the split answers, what with the parts being far apart and the first part being on the right and second on the left. This is one of those themes that seems far too basic. Pick a band. Pick some hits that you can arrange symmetrically ... puzzle? Repeat using playwright / plays? Author / novels? Actor / movies? I don't really understand the puzzle's reason for being. It's an OK grid, though theme density leads to some unfortunate compromises, esp. in the SW, which made me wince. LAR IBO ABOU all scrunched together like that!? That's dangerous crosswordese density. But mostly, as I say, it was fine. Adequate. Here today, gone tomorrow. The best part — and the only thing separating this puzzle from USA Today fare — is the tripartite Down theme answer, "DON'T / WORRY / BABY." Helps that that is one of the very best songs the Beach Boys (or anyone) ever recorded.

Theme answers:
  • 10A: With 64-Across, 1963 Beach Boys hit ("IN MY / ROOM")
  • 17A: 1965 Beach Boys hit ("CALIFORNIA GIRLS")
  • 23A: With 49-Across, 1965 Beach Boys hit ("HELP ME / RHONDA")
  • 57A: 1963 Beach Boys hit ("LITTLE SAINT NICK") — did anyone else try to make LITTLE DEUCE COUPE fit? What about LITTLE SURFER GIRL? (not the actual title, I know) Bah!
  • 7D: With 30- and 53-Down, 1964 Beach Boys hit ("DON'T / WORRY / BABY")
Had a few missteps here and there. Went CAIRO (off the "A") instead of RABAT (62A: African capital), and ALGERIA instead of ALBANIA (that's a big miss) (45D: Neighbor of Montenegro). Also couldn't remember STINE or STYNE (65A: "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" composer), couldn't easily get to the vague MARKER from 25D: Surveyor's stake, typically, and (shockingly) couldn't place Ronsard's "Odes" in the right year (though, now that I think of it, I do know the century) (12D: Year of Ronsard's "Odes" => MDL).

  • 1A: Reindeer herder (LAPP) — a gimme! Finally, this crosswordy answer has become a gimme. I didn't even trip on the "LAPP or LEPP" issue (an issue I invented, as LEPP is not a thing).
  • 34A: 1922 Physics Nobelist (BOHR) — his name came up at dinner tonight as we were discussing crosswordy words that every constant solver just Knows. The conversation started with a discussion of EDINA (where my wife bought many bras this past week) (I'll let her tell you about it).
  • 52A: Minor player, so to speak (COG) — I like this clue / answer pair a lot. I just didn't get it ... until I did. That "C" took a while.
  • 27A: ___ Retreat (1970s-'80s New York City club) (PLATO'S) — really, Really surprised this passed the old Breakfast Test (it's a very famous swingers' club). About as good a clue as you're going to see for PLATO'S. Way better than ["___ Republic"].

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:11 AM  

Oh yeah.

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

I liked this puzzle much less than Rex did. Surprised it made the NYT. Weak excuse for a theme, only 2 songs I'd heard of (california girls and help me rhonda), annoyingly split theme entries - plus the fill is sub-par. PLATOS ICICLED MDL LAPP -ARIAN ECTO- I ATE RAKER OVI DOL IBO TEC LAR. I loved IM OVER IT, but that wasn't (nearly) enough to balance the negatives.

PK 12:28 AM  

Welcome back, sweetheart! We missed you. And didn't you just come roaring back home!

I like the Beach Boys a lot, but I didn't really love this puzzle.

Had three margin comments (all "stupid")...37A Smitten...52A Minor Player, so to speak...and 57A, which was "unknown," instead of "stupid."

It was fun for the most part.

NittyGriddy 12:28 AM  

California Girls, fine.
In My Room, fine.
Help Me Rhonda, fine.
Don't Worry Baby, fine.
Little Saint Nick ??????

No. 69 on the charts is a "hit"? Only reason this obscure tune is in this puzzle is to catch the A of Don't Worry Baby - which is a pretty paltry reason. And it causes such god-awful crap in that lower left corner. Why not forget the fact that Don't Worry Baby catches the N of California Girls and instead write Don't Worry Baby across the center? Then, Wouldn't It Be Nice to have a real 15-letter hit across the bottom? Hint hint.

Agree with Rex on this one.

Ellen L. 12:38 AM  

HTG (That means Had To Google, right? I think I saw someone use it before.) which is not normal on a Wednesday for me. If you don't know the Beach Boys songs, you are probably out of luck today. I knew all the songs after filling in enough crosses. The first tune that popped into my head was "Help Me Rhonda", and that's what I kept singing as I struggled in the southwest.

I liked seeing ADAM near EDEN. And does a matador wear a BOLERO jacket when fighting ELTORO. Maybe I'm stretching here...

Happy Wednesday.

Harry 12:51 AM  

Liked this, probably because I was able to get the song titles without much trouble. Trouble did arise (as others have already noted) in the lower left, specifically at the ABOU/IBO intersection. Also slowed up a bit by entering I MOVED ON instead of IM OVER IT. Took me a minute to re-parse that.

Zach 1:05 AM  

Had FOCI at one down and could not find my error. My first thought for 2D Man Without Parents...ISLE. Wow thinking to hard for a Wednesday.

Tobias Duncan 1:15 AM  

Southwest crosswordese corner did me in. What the hell is little about saint Nick? Christmas music is unbearable to me unless its hundreds of years old.

Penn Jillette shared this flashmob Bolero on his twitter today so I will share it with you.

retired_chemist 1:35 AM  

Didn't much like it, because the Beach Boys and I were just out of sync. I was busy in grad school and Assistant Professoring during their heyday. CALIFORNIA GIRLS is the only title used that I had heard of. Consequently, it was a bunch of picky work with the crosses.

Same story with RABAT - CAIRO first, knowing there were MANY other 5 letter African capitals, let alone possible 5 letter monetary units.

At least almost all the crosses were straightforward.

Chased down a zero for O typo (OD0R/P0LO) for about 2 minutes. Bah.

34A was Max BORN - also a physics Nobelist, but not until 1952, despite the fact that he was born three years before Bohr.

Thanks, Mr. Collins - the puzzle was fine, just not in my wheelhouse.

John Hoffman 1:46 AM  

Small error in one of the clues: “Cómo ___?”

It should have the upside down ? at the beginning of the sentence. They do that in Spanish. "¿Cómo ___?"

CoffeeLvr 2:04 AM  

I am not happy about my Wednesday DNF. Didn't know and still don't remember LITTLESAINTNICK. Also wanted Little Deuce Coupe.

My first hangup was not remembering the other meaning of capital. Tried DOc for District of Columbia, knowing it couldn't be right. Then I checked it, since I already had LITT. Since I had already earned the DNF, I gave up and Googled the composer of "Let It Snow."

I knew ABOU from memorizing poetry in grade school, well, not at school, at home, but at that age.

@NittyGriddy, great suggestion. Wouldn't It Be Nice is a much better song.

I did like how DONT WORRY BABY went down the center, but the cross referencing was confusing, as I was looking for something that was DONT ???? since the clue for BABY doesn't reference 30D.

jae 2:41 AM  

Very much in my wheelhouse. I had the poster from the Endless Summer album on my office wall from the day I started until I retired. (I worked for the gov in San Diego and they really didn't care.) Yes for trying to make DEUCECOUPE fit but STNICK was an obvious next choice, if you listen music radio at all in Dec. you've heard it. So, I liked it and had it as easy (actually faster than yesterday's).

Rex is right about DONTWORRYBABY.

chefwen 2:43 AM  

Me to husband "what's a Beachboys song that starts with HELP ME?" answer: "Jesus, Wendy, try RHONDA" me, DOH! 1960's senior moment settling in. I swear, that was my only problem.

capcha - egomend which is what I needed after that little gaff.

Branwell 3:31 AM  

Help Me Rhonda and CA Girls were the only ones I recognized.

1922 Physics Nobelist BOHR.
Just watched "Copenhagen." It tells a Rashomon-like story about Werner Heisenberg's 1941 visit with Niels BOHR. Some of the best dialogue i've heard in a movie.

andrea californiagirl michaels 3:48 AM  

So you know PLATOS Retreat but not THEPURPLEONION...ah, it all becomes clearer!

If you watch "The Hills" in reruns at 1 am, like some CALIFORNIAGIRLS do, you can see Heidi Montag crying
IMOVERIT, over and over about Spencer, her then boyfriend, present husband, and probably future eventual killer.

Terribly cool that DONTWORRYBABY can be split up that way and cross the other two 15s...good to keep in mind.

Nice one, Peter!

PS @The New Girl 12:38am
ADAM is not near EDEN, he's near ADEN...but maybe he can take ELAL

K2P2 6:11 AM  

Love Christmas music so LITTLE SAINT NICK wasn't a problem.

Thanks to @CoffeeLvr for the capital explanation. I went down the wrong path trying to remember my state caps since DOC wasn't a fit. I was oh so happy when I filled in my last letter and Mister Pencil Guy popped up - but perplexed!

GILL I. 6:19 AM  

Yawn...scratch - scratch
Where have my meaty Wednesday's gone?
Well, at least AMORIST was new to me.
PLATOS? really? Am I supposed to go ooooh? Well, I guess you could call that meaty.
I usually like Peter Collins but today's puzzle was just a fill in the blanks - I've seen all these answers a million times before, time for bed puzzle.

PETER 6:54 AM  

Well, if it means anything to anyone, the reason for this puzzle's existence is that The Beach Boys formed in 1961, making this their 50th anniversary year. I had that fact embedded in my clue for OHIO (home of the R&R Hall of Fame), but I see that that bit of information didn't make it out of the editing room.

I think I'll post this at Wordpaly and The Crossword Fiend, too.

- Pete Collins

Glimmerglass 7:32 AM  

Hand up here for Little Deuce Coup[e]. One still hears LITTLE SAINT NICK every yule. It has the memorable chorus, "Run right, reindeer." Speaking of reindeer. LAPP was also in a Boston Globe puzzle this week. "Lapp" is politically incorrect in Norway. I learned there that the word I learned in elementary school is a pejorative. It means "ragged" or "dressed in rags." The people, who call themselves Sami, are just now getting civil rights in Norway. They even have their own radio and TV programs in the Sami language. Only about 10% still heard reindeer.

Z 8:01 AM  

Thanks for the clarification Peter - I was wondering if today was some Beach Boy anniversary.

Breezed through the top 2/3rds of the puzzle, then popped "BOSNIA" in at 48D as the answer to the clue for 45D. That took a bit to clean-up (and wouldn't happen in Across-Lite since it highlights the squares for you - the only thing I like better about doing the puzzle online).

Same struggles as others in the SW and South. HTG RABAT and STYNE because DONT WORRY B--- just wasn't coming for me. End result for me was 2/3rds easy and 1/3rd challenging.

The Beach Boys are just part of the cultural noise to me, I've never been much interested in getting to know their work better even though many artists I do love love Brian Wilson. I am more familiar with them than Ronsard, though.

David 8:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
joho 8:23 AM  

@Thanks, Pete! I was going to mention that it was cool that you got OHIO, the "Home of the Rock and roll Hlal of Fame" into the puzzle. The Beach Boys surely must be members.

@Thank, Rex, for "DONTWORRYBABY" which I've listened to twice already. Also agree that this placed vertically down through the middle is brilliant.


I love the Beach Boys so I really enjoyed this!

JaxInL.A. 8:35 AM  

Hand up for LITTLE deuce coupe. Fits nicely.

Thanks for the extra info, Peter. I liked the puzzle just fine, and now I like it more because it has a 50th anniversary raison d'être.

In the past week I have learned a great deal of behind-the-scenes info on puzzle constructing and editing. It feels a bit like watching all the deleted scenes, making-of featurettes and interviews in a DVD's special features.

JaxInL.A. 8:37 AM  

P.S., really nice to have you back, Rex, and to know that all the rest of the eastern citizens of Rexworld came through the storm with relatively little effect.

dk 8:44 AM  

Second all the LITTLESAINTNICK comments. Although I did like the mini holiday theme in the lower decks.

INMYROOM is an ode to depression as Mr. Wilson stayed in his room for nearly a year except when he hung out with an aspiring song writer Charles Manson.

Kinda, sorta, in a blind with your second cousin way liked this one.

** (2 Stars) off to put on Pet Sounds

Hey Acme you are a California Girl.. fur sure dudette.

Surf's up, aboard a tidal wave 9:03 AM  

Re: Little Saint Nick - The song borrows its rhythm and structure from the group's 1963 hit "Little Deuce Coupe."

The bridge is :
Run run reindeer
Run run reindeer
Run run reindeer
Run run reindeer

John V 9:15 AM  

Having grown up with the Beach Boys music, this was by far the easiest Wednesday ever. Played like an easy Monday for me. Only hiccup, if that's the word, was consistently misreading 25D as, "SURVIVOR'S stake".

Thanks, Peter, for the tribute.

Zak 9:16 AM  

Total horseshit crossword that, typically, alienates younger people - I am too young to know or care about the Beach Boys. (The entirety of my knowledge of their catalog comes from KTEL commercials.) Didn't help that the SW corner of the puzzle was beyond cryptic.

archaeoprof 9:31 AM  

Two writeovers in the NW got me off to a slow start: line/LOCI and imovedon/IMOVERIT.

As a kid I was afraid of heights, so I smiled at the cross ACRO/WORRY.

Good Wednesday anniversary puzzle. I vote YES.

chefbea 9:32 AM  

Love the Beach Boys!! Loved the puzzle. Knew all the songs. Had trouble with the southwest like most of you.

Favorite clue..35A

Now to dig out an old Beach Boy CD

Brian 9:38 AM  

It was a yeoman-like puzzle, I think. Workable and accessible, I thought, but lacking in a certain zip or an inspired twist that might lift it to another, more memorable level.

Knew all the songs. Listened endlessly to the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean one (appropriately enough) summer.

Really liked the cluing for COG. BROCADES is a lovely word. And I liked IMOVERIT. Also, "Sprites, for instance" is clever.

But I wanted something more in the end.

phillytony 9:41 AM  

southwest southwest...good lord. somehow i put EBO, so i guess it was in the back of my mind somewhere. was guessing something along the lines of GET ___ SAINT NICK and got stuck.

somewhat amusingly, i guessed that STYNE would be STONE and i scratched my head and shrugged that the BBoys had a hit called DONT WORRY BABO! silly me...morning brain freeze

puzzle was okay...i liked RAKER and DART and ALBANIA was fun to figure out. love the ALI references too!

Andy 9:44 AM  

Someone please explain 50D. Feel like the only one here who doesn't get it.

Smitty 9:50 AM  

@jae Endless Summer - yea baby...!

Sad to hear their music is irrelevant to young people. I like Sinatra, Cole Porter, etc. even if they weren't from my generation. Good music is good music forever. Bad music goes the way of the Macarena.

jackj 9:57 AM  

Old friend Peter lets his bromance with the Beach Boys overtake his constructing "Spidey-sense" by giving us a tepid tribute puzzle, made even more frustrating by the need to wrestle with multiple cross-references and tired crosswordese.

Best thing about the puzzle seemed to be the positioning of DONT WORRY BABY as it flowed down the grid from top to bottom like a dripping icicle.

Oh, look, what a coincidence, right next door we have ICICLED! (But, wait, wait, has anyone, ever seen or heard the word "icicled" used in any manner, shape or form, outside this puzzle?)

With the offerings from the Times in recent days can we reasonably ask what's going on?

John V 10:03 AM  

@Andy, 50D DOL means dollar, which is the capital of the US, abbreviated.

GenJoneser 10:05 AM  

@Smitty...well put! I hope @Zak listens to a song or two. Might like 'em. Thanks Rex for keeping Don't Worry Baby in my head all day. Brian Wilson is a genius.

Lindsay 10:09 AM  

Peppy. Upbeat. Liked it.

I need peppy right now as the Planning Board is showing up at My House in 15 minutes for a site walk. Why me? Crappy abutters, that's why.

Solved humming "Little red reindeer .... mmm .... mmm .... Little Red Reindeer .... mmm ...." but didn't see LITTLE SAINT NICK until the very end because I thought the title of the song was .... Little Red Reindeer.

Have a great day everyone.

Zach 10:10 AM  

Andy DOL is short for dollar. Capital as in money.

dk 10:11 AM  

Left the word date out of my post..not that it helps.

@zak, you will get lots of Beach Boys advice today... so here is some more. Try to imagine it is early July and you are in the back seat of your parents 1962 Chevy Impala Convertible headed to the town landing... hoping against hope that Beecher Graham will be there...

Joe 10:11 AM  

Knew all the Beach Boys songs but, I agree with others here--a little too much for a Wednesday.

Andy 10:13 AM  

Thanks everyone! Now I feel even stoooopider :)

phillytony 10:20 AM  

andy, i couldnt figure that out either. wanted it to be DOC...District of Columbia. doh! i did some butchery today

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Zac writes:

"Total horseshit crossword that, typically, alienates younger people"

So... anything prior to, say, the mid '60s is horseshit in your books?

Good to know.

Noam D. Elkies 10:28 AM  

Finished, but DNCare. A few neat clues and entries (e.g. 4D:PRIVATE, 20A:I'M_OVER_IT, 53A:BROCADE, the YES/NAY pairing in 13D/47A), but you can't turn anywhere in the grid without running into yet another song title or fragment. Are the BB's having some kind of anniversary today? Their stuff may be better than most in the genre, but it's still a pale reflection of the real stuff... Alas these days we have to turn to the Chronicle of Higher Education for that kind of theme.

Coming off 50D:DOL., I expected 62A:RA*** to be RANDS, but no, for once it's a capital city. (BTW no "abbr." tag is necessary when the clue contains "U.S.", right?) Speaking of which, it would usually be nice to see "Oslo" in the clue rather than the grid, but you get no points for that if the resulting grid entry is 11D:NOR clued as an abbreviation. OSLO_NORWAY would be a great entry, but that appears only once in the xwordinfo database.


Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

I'm probably in the minority here but I find the Beach Boys' music (for the most part) so sugary and sappy that it almost doesn't pass my breakfast test.
Only write-over, like others I see, was I moved on.
Thanks for the explanation Peter.
Painful fill made this not worth the price of admission. Sorry.
I see the young whipper-snappers are crying foul again. Well said @Smitty.

Mike Rees 10:38 AM  

Well well well. I went through this one okay, actually know a lot of Beach Boys songs, even saw them live in ... 1999. Don't know IN MY ROOM and almost certainly don't want to know LITTLE SAINT NICK. Had Surfin' Safari instead of HELP ME RHONDA, which slowed me for a minute or four. Didn't figure out how DOL was the US Capital until I read the blog. Had DOC there and not knowing the across song it took me forever to fix.

Mostly enjoyed, I agree with everyone about the sludgy fill in the SW.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Well, I LOVED it, found it quite easy since I know the Beach Boy songs. Would have loved even more a 16x16 grid to allow "Little Deuce Coupe".

I did get hung up with "I MOVED ON" at 20A, which became "I MOVED IT", then the nonsensical "I MOVER IT" as I did the crosses. Looked at the answer for a while before it sunk in.

Loved "It has feathers and flies", "Zest alternative" and the clueing in general.

slypett 10:48 AM  

Got a COG caught in nis rectum.
HELPME RHONDA, he cried.
"I cannot," she denied,
Put up her dukes and she decked 'im.

bswein99 11:03 AM  

Could someone please put me out of my misery and tell me how "DOL" could be the correct answer for Capital of the U.S.? (50-Down) I got it because of the crosses, but I can't figure out why it's right.

DBGeezer 11:10 AM  

bswein99 @11:03 DOL for DOL lar which is financial capital in the US.

Yesterday there were many complaints because the clues referred to events or people solvers couldn't remember. Come on folks! I have never even heard of the Beach Boys. Got the songs through crosses and inferences.

Evan K. 11:13 AM  

The Beach Boys are all well and good, but there's no moment of discovery, and I hate to say it, but as a young solver I am just not familiar with the songs. So what was the point of this charade?

An obnoxious Wednesday that didn't have much going for it by way of enjoyability. That's all there is to it.

Michael Leddy 11:14 AM  

@Zak, who wrote "I am too young to know or care about the Beach Boys": you're never too young (or old) to know or care about the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson is a major influence on all sorts of younger musicians. Try Pet Sounds.

About the timing of the puzzle: I don't think the 31st means anything in particular, but Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, and Mike Love first began playing and singing as the Pendletones not just in 1961 but in August 1961.

Rex Parker 11:47 AM  

I love the fact that younger solvers are coming here and mouthing off and smoking and generally disturbing the peace. As it should be. "Damn punks! Cut your hair!"

But, honestly, w/ exception of that damned "St. Nick" song, you all should familiarize yourselves w/ the rest of the BB songs in this puzzle, if only bec. they are pretty-to-very good.


Stan 12:20 PM  

I liked the somewhat LAVISH vocabulary (BROCADES, SANCTUM, BOLERO, AMORIST), more AKIN TO the 'Pet Sounds' period than the earlier material.

The Beach Boys are a huge influence on indy bands these days: Best Coast, Beach House, Girls, Animal Collective, Surfer Blood, and Panda Bear to name a few.

Mel Ott 12:24 PM  

Finally got power back last night in the FLOODPLAIN of the Housatonic. Saved my laptop battery for other stuff.

Belated thanx to @Andrea for the BAGEL puzzle.

I'm not a big Beach Boys guy, but I liked today's puzzle, for a number of reasons already cited by others. Especially DONT WORRY BABY.

Banana Man 12:31 PM  

Not the kind of theme that left me saying "how clever". But pretty well put together, SW corner excepted. Not a lot of good L_R words, I guess.

Always fun to reminisce about BB songs. I'm remembering my college roommate, who was a classical music major, cringing when he realized how much dinero the BBs were making for singing "Bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bahrann..."

I'll be humming it all day now.

KarenSampsonHudson 12:57 PM  

"Don't worry, baby", about solving this puzzle. A smooth, quick few minutes---welcome after some that caused wrinkled brows lately.

Zach 1:15 PM  

At 27, I'm not sure if I qualify as a "younger solver," but I did actually somewhat enjoy this puzzle. Seeing the theme at first, I thought, "great, another puzzle with random pieces of information I won't know." I was pleasantly surprised how the song titles fell into place after some crosses. My aha moments were accompanied by an internal blaring of falsetto choruses. As far as why each one was chosen, for me, it helped that each title also happens to be the most repeated and most memorable part of the song.

For all you other young whippersnappers out there, if you turned on an oldies station for 3 hrs, I guarantee you'd hear each of these songs once, save Little Saint Nick. But if it was December, that would be easy too. My family insists on Christmas music in December, which I despise, because there's only one holiday album worth listening to.

GillyMonster 1:32 PM  

Barf. Not a Beach Boys fan - their singing occupies the same space on the tonal spectrum for me as nails on a chalkboard ... and now that god awful "run run reindeer" chorus is stuck in me head. Anybody have a spare cup of Brain-O? So this puzzle was an ugh for me. I admire the 3 part answer flowing down the middle, but had an E for BABE instead of a Y, so that square naticked me. Also the entire Southwest. Icky patang.

Lewis 1:40 PM  

In that southwest corner I've been trying to find a way out of LAR, IBO, ABOU. But assuming LITTLE has to be above and ROOM at the bottom, I can't come up with anything better.

Every Christmas we play The Muppets Christmas Album, which has LITTLE SAINT NICK on it, sung obnoxiously, and now I can't get it out of my head...

GILL I. 1:43 PM  

@jackj: My sentimientos exactly.
@Two Ponies: I'm right in line with you. I lived in S.Calif. at the time they became popular. You couldn't go anywhere without hearing "Good Vibrations" being piped (ad nauseum) up and down the PCH.

Matthew G. 1:45 PM  

FWIW, I am under 40 but got LITTLE SAINT NICK with just a couple crosses -- they play it on the oldies stations endlessly every December, making it more of a hit after its time than when it was on the charts, I think.

Liked the puzzle a lot. And I strongly endorse with Rex's opinion of the Beach Boys more generally. They were much bigger musical innovators than their reputation as a "surfer band" would have it. Brian Wilson was a legitimate genius.

toukan 1:54 PM  

Glad to see I wasn't alone in not understanding DOL. Got it but didn't get it.

OISK 2:24 PM  

Enjoyed the complaints from those who are too young to have heard the Beach Boys, because I am too OLD. I could name a half dozen Eddie Cantor hits, but only California Girls and Help Me Rhonda (because it was used in a film about a robot) were at all familiar, although I did not know who sang them until today. I had no trouble finishing, but I dislike pop-themed puzzles like this one.

ahecht 2:26 PM  

DNF on L?R I?O ??OU, but otherwise a solid puzzle. The juxtaposition of YES and NAY bothered me a bit -- I really wanted to but "aye" in the NE.

CoffeeLvr 2:29 PM  

@GillyMonster, all these years I thought Brain-O was a private family joke! Except we used it as a semi-insult when a sibling said something stupid: Take some Brain-O. Your post makes my day.

After reading the comments, I feel so much better about my puzzle solving skills than I did when I wrote my first post. I was not alone in not getting DOL out of US capital. Maybe it is because the only abbreviations I use for "dollar" are $ and USD. As for obscure entries, I don't feel too badly about not knowing STYNE because I did know IBO and ABOU.

Thanks for stopping by Peter. Overall I liked the puzzle, just frustrated by my performance. Beach Boys are okay by me; never liked them enough to spend my hard earned dollars on an album (I could only afford a couple a year), but I would turn up the volume on the transistor radio for some of their songs.

I had a couple of happy X-word moments when both IMOVERIT and BROCADES went in with no crosses and were correct.

And I too dislike most contemporary "Christmas" music. Yes, LITTLE SAINT NICK from the 60's is contemporary compared to Greensleeves, What Child is This, Adeste Fideles.

Sparky 2:41 PM  

At the start just ignored the match-up-the-numbers clues. Liked Sprites near the TROLL. Had oneACT till flamenco wouldn't go where BOLERO did.

CALIFORNIA GIRLS the only title I really knew. The others, as revealed, were sort of an "Oh, yeah" kind of thing.

Ah whipper-snappers, someday you will be old too.

@Lewis. Love The Muppets. I'll have to get the album. Thanks.

Tobias Duncan 2:45 PM  

Starting to get a bit worried about SanFranMan.

Octavian Wilson 2:53 PM  

Pointless, boring puzzle -- and I am a huge Beach Boys fan.

Must be the worst puzzle ever by Peter Collins, who is normally excellent. I can't believe they took out the reference to the 50 year anniversary, as it would at least explain why this ran at all.

There was no cleverness, it was a big jumble, no interesting fill.

I hereby nominate this also for worst Wednesday puzzle of the year.

Only redeemed a smidge by virtue of the hilariously vapid "Dont Worry Baby" youtube video.

That video goes miles to show how the name Beach Boys was mostly a marketing angle for what started as a folk-singing quintet, and only later did it really reflect their music and the soon-to-explode surf culture of the South Bay area of Los Angeles.

Lewis 3:04 PM  

@sparky -- you'll have to like John Denver too. It's a John Denver singing along with the Muppets album. Our kids insisted on it every Christmas...

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

Didn't know a damn one of those songs.

Grumpy old solver

Modesty Blasé 3:28 PM  

A pox on the SW corner, but sort of enjoyable otherwise.
Agree that ICICLED isn't an actual word.
I used to work retail (Macy's) and there was (what seemed like) three months of Christmas music with LITTLE SAINT NICK in high rotation.

mac 3:33 PM  

Tough for me for a Wednesday, maybe because for the longest time I was thinking BeeGees instead of Beach Boys. I don't know all the titles, but got them all through crosses, no outside help. In that infamous SW corner, it helped tremendously that I knew Ibo, the rest was crosses. Wanted "rands" as well for 62A, and liked a lot of the clues.

The puzzle feels luxurious, with slathered, lavish, a brocade bolero, sanctum and my word of the day, amorist. Looking back at the puzzle, it's amazing how 51D is clued.

It's nice to be out of the powerless zone, back on the computer!

efrex 3:59 PM  

Very very mixed on this one. Not a fan of this type of puzzle in general, and not having any reason why it should run today didn't help at all. TEC is on my list of gawd-awful crosswordese, and IBO crossing ABOU is serious Natick-time. Only reason I got it was through guesswork ("If it were IDO/ADOU, there'd be a better clue for 58D"- type running through the alphabet)

On the other hand, pretty decent job at making the puzzle get-able even for non-Beach Boys fans. Only knew two of the titles (Help me Rhonda & California Girls), but everything else came together pretty nicely. Took way too long to figure out DOL (if it had a "?" I would've gotten it immediately, methinks) and BRONTE.

Not putting it on my "worst-of" list, but not particularly memorable.

long suffering mets fan 5:21 PM  

Rex, thanks for Don't Worry Baby --
incredibly, originally a "b" side -- this song and "God Only Knows" imho Beach Boys best

@Zak and Evan K -- I appreciate the fact that this music predates your years, but do yourself a favor, ask mom or dad if they have the "pet sounds" album and give it a spin.

Brian Wilson is a true genius

Saddest thing I ever saw at a concert -- saw the BBs about 25 years ago with a bloated, clearly out-of-it Brian Wilson drooling at his piano with the mike off and the others pretending he was part of the group. Thank God he got it together somewhat.

Highly recommend his solo work "Smile"

Jim 5:43 PM  

Tobias Duncan:

Thanks for the link. I'll always go for Ravel's Bolero, which I never quite 'got', given its melodic certainty (and repetition)--so unusual for Ravel! But one of my favorite non-piano classical pieces, nonetheless. Would've been better if a few in skimpy rhythm outfits actually danced...but this really isn't that kind of bolero, I suppose.

SE was uncertain but still fell quickly. SW was a disaster. Couldn't think of SAN__ and had Dlr for DOL, and LAR, IBO, LITTLE, ABOU and even TOO were just not coming to me.

Oh, well, it's finally come to pass...I'm far better on FRI/SAT puzzles than I am on TUE/WED ones. And oh, so much more satisfying.

And...OHIO for Home of the rock and roll hall of fame'? What's the matter, Cleveland too obscure? Would we accept 'Home of the Browns' for this answer? Boo-urns!

william e emba 7:53 PM  

ABOU ben Adhem will always make me smile in the puzzle, ever since Rex years ago admitted he had never even heard of the poem. Woo, that was bizarre.

And I'm old enough to remember Biafra and the Nigerian Civil War: the IBO were the dominant Biafran people trying to secede.

So I found the SW corner very easy.

On the other hand, other than CALIFORNIA GIRLS, not one of the song titles rings any bells. I had a bit of difficulty filling in LITTLE ----- NICK, in fact, but at some point guessed it and finished that part.

Even worse, I had great difficulty finishing the middle west. ---TOS Retreat meant nothing to me, could not guess the fall man, had OV? and EST?, and no luck guessing ---NDA. BreNDA? Eventually PROPER and LAVISH came to mind, and then I had to change "is INTO" to "AKIN TO" and I was done.

Sfingi 8:14 PM  

Great theme. and mini-theme Thrilla in Manilla, one of the few sports I understand.

Did not have to Google, either, but did wonder over DOL. Now I see.

Peter Collins, "May his tribe increase" - and his puzzles. Nice ref to Leigh Hunt's poem, which I read to my class after 911.

@Branwell - speaking of Rashomon type stories - How about that Cheney?

acme 8:33 PM  

since the NYT is charging for content now, I'll just paste this here...It's from today in case anyone didn't think being in a band that has lasted 50 years was worthy of a crossword tribute!
Unfinished Beach Boys Album Is Set for Release, 44 Years Later

One of the most famous unfinished recordings in the history of popular music –The Beach Boys’ “Smile” sessions — will be released in November, 44 years after it was scheduled to come out, Capitol/EMI records has announced.

The recordings were made in 1966 and 1967 and were intended to follow on the band’s critically acclaimed album “Pet Sounds.” But “Smile” was left unfinished and shelved after the group’s co-founder, Brian Wilson, suffered an emotional breakdown and the group’s legal dispute with Capitol Records over the formation of the band’s label.

Mr. Wilson was riding the crest of his creative peak during the sessions, and the zaniness surrounding the recordings has become part of the band’s legend. Some of the songs were said to have been written in a sandbox Mr. Wilson had installed in his living room to recreate the feeling of the beach. Mr. Wilson also was said to have set the studio on fire during the recording of another song, “Fire,” which was to have been part of a suite about the elements.

Some tracks were later released as singles or appeared on bootleg tapes, and Mr. Wilson re-recorded the set of songs for a solo release in 2004.

The two-CD set entitled “The SMiLE Sessions” will include material never made public, including studio chatter, bonus tracks and alternative versions of some songs, the label said. A deluxe set will also be released with four compact discs full of additional recordings from the sessions and a book of photos that have not been published.

Zak 8:52 PM  

I'll clarify. I grossly oversimplified my understanding of the Beach Boys. I have heard the Beach Boys' music. It is treacly, sappy garbage and, IMO, not worth investigating, no matter how influential it may be. Pet Sounds, always pimped as a masterwork chiefly because its author is mentally ill, is especially intolerable.

I also deplore crosswords that overly rely on dated pop-cultural references, such as the Beach Boys, but also bar soaps (DIAL) and other banalities that are doomed to fade from public memory. Let's be real: The Beach Boys don't matter in any significant way to anyone under 30. We're not talking about Beethoven here, or even The Beatles. It's asinine to assume that younger crossword players will know their catalog, and we of course are the future consumers of these puzzles.

P.S. - DOL also was total horseshit. ICICLED too, but that was extremely easy to suss out.

Z 8:52 PM  

Talking about today's blog over dinner and asked my 14 year old (plays bass in a band with his HS buddies) what he knew about the Beach Boys. His response, "Didn't the Bare Naked Ladies do a song about someone in that band?"

For the record - the 14 year-old hates Bieber's music but still has a Bieber haircut.

Smitty 8:59 PM  

This one's for you Pete
Sail on Sailor

Z 9:07 PM  

@Zak - "not worth investigating, no matter how influential it may be." - ummm, if it is "influential" than people who are successful at the craft are saying that it is good. "I don't care what the experts think" puts you right in the flat-earther, creationist category. Maybe you want to rethink your disdain?

That's three, it's late, I'm out.
Missing SanFranMan - anyone know what's up?

joho 9:12 PM  

@acme ... thanks for article, I can't wait to hear the "Smile Sessions."

@Zak, the Beach Boys influenced the Beatles ... and you're all wet, because I just figured it out, you're a TROLL.

JenCT 9:13 PM  

Knew all the songs, so found this pretty easy, except for the Naticky lower left corner.

Whether you liked the puzzle or not, any puzzle with this many comments has obviously hit some nerves.

Finally got power back today - what a relief! 61 hours without power sure felt like a lot longer...

Zak 9:18 PM  

@Z - MTV's "The Real World" has been hugely influential in the reality-TV space, which is hugely successful. Is it worth investigating?

I'll stop, I really don't mean to be a troll. I'm just sick of the shallow pop references and would prefer a less Shortzian crossword.

mac 9:43 PM  

@zak: here's from someone who is extremely weak on pop references. I did just fine with this puzzle!

Marlo 10:26 PM  

Had GERM at 14 across until POLO made me change it, which was an easy fix but points to a pet peeve of mine: Lysol is a *disinfectant* spray, not a *deodorant* spray.

Anonymous 11:04 PM  

I'm not generally one for political correctness, but @Glimmerglass understates the issue with using LAPP. In Norway and Sweden, it has the offensive force of "nigger" and "chink" - and as such it really does not belong in NYT crosswords. Just sayin'. (For my sins, I lived in Scandinavia for a decade).

Otherwise, I liked it because I finished it with no trouble despite being too young to be familiar with the Beach Boys catalog. Oh, I recognize their sound on the radio, and can even hum along, but as for what their hits were called. . .

JoshyJosh 12:25 AM  

50 Down (Capital of US): How is "DOL" an abbreviation for the District of Columbia? District Of coLumbia?

This puzzle was bullshit.

+wordphan 12:52 AM  

Remember that line from "American Graffiti"? Don't like that 'surfing #!*% either. This was not easy for a R&B fan.

Cool Dude 2:02 PM  

Don't Worry Baby--best record of the 60's? Probably!

Cool Dude 2:03 PM  


+wordphan 3:26 PM  

Blogden Bob: check your Webster's: CAPITAL, cash; CAPITOL: DC. Tripped me, too. These folks are sly!

Doug 12:12 PM  

Like others, I had trouble with DOL, but it did not enrage me. Capital clearly has 2 meanings, I should have been more flexible.

Speaking of flexibility, Zak's rant on Beach Boy music shows little. Quite the commissar of taste, Zak. My kids (in their twenties) do like the Beach Boys; I'm more neutral, but In My Room and Wouldn't It Be Nice linger quite nicely, even today.

Classical (orchestral) music had its arc long ago, zenithing (ha!) sometime in the late Baroque (Bach) and early Classical (Mozart), and then descended beginning with Beethoven (overrated, especially the later works, but then again, he was deaf) and Mahler (almost unlistenable) to today's orchestral offerings which are terrible. Given the option of listening to "Wozzeck" all the way through, or doing 3 years in a chain gang, well, it would take a little thought . . .

Similarly, popular music had its arc, acme-ing (ha!) with the Big Band era and the musical complexity of Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and other true musicians. Since then (beginning with Elvis) it's been a pretty straight descent. The Beach Boys, with their various themes and harmonics were a lone bright spot. Perhaps a little respite with some of the early folk music types, maybe the first 2 or 3 albums from Simon and Garfunkel. The Beatles? Remarkably mundane (and musically illiterate)--borrowers of American R&B and heirs to the British music hall tradition of silly ditties (Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Octopus' Garden, need I say more?) with some rather remarkable treacle of their own (Michelle, Yesterday). Is the White Album the Wozzeck of pop music? Of course today with rap (pretty much self important doggerel) and the decline of the country tradition, there is little left. But that's the way declines end.

grace 12:34 PM  

At 91 I'm too OLD for Beach Boy music.

let's have a happy medium re music? Neutral territory?

I MISS Eugene Maleska. my diminishing age group work the puzzles daily, great brain exercise, but miss the classics, Latin, etc. We are a diminishing number. Rex does a great job of selection MOST days, even from my warped perspective!

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

@Zak 9:16 AM
Spoken like a toddler.

Lurking, Just Behind You 2:49 PM  

I (Heart) the arguing over the validity of the Beach Boys legacy and their relevance to the younger crowd. I would love to hear the hue and cry of the older set if there were a puzzle about the songs of Eminem or They Might Be Giants or any other of the bands that people who are in their 40s love...even better if the arguments were over the songs of Grizzley Bear or Bright Eyes or Pomplamoose, but none of those songs have entered the lexicon enough to be NYT worthy....YET.
I do agree with @Two Ponies - I have had the opportunity to see them free before....and passed both times. Tomato /To-Maa-To.

you wouldn't believe the CAPTCHA for the day *fights* Really.

Dirigonzo 3:42 PM  

Writing in synditime, and like @long suffering mets fan I had a bad BB's concert experience. Mine was in 1964 when they played in Bangor, Maine (I don't remember the name of the venue, but there was a big statue of Paul Bunyon outside - still there, I think).
After making the crowd wait way too long (there was no opening act) they came on stage and proceeded to lip-sync their way trhough the entire set! And then they left - there were no calls for an encore.

The puzzle was better than the concert although I just noticed that I left the IxO/AxOU cross blank because I had no clue as to what consonant belonged there.

Interesting that the inter-generational pop-culture war among the commenters rages on. "Can't we all just get along?"

Red Valerian 1:15 PM  

Puzzle was fine, but I did not finish because of a stupid mistake. For 29D (Like), I had isINTO. Yes, of course I can see that that's the wrong tense now. But RAsER looked fine (person who rases (demolishes) a house, though maybe that's Canadian spelling), and I thought PLiTOS??? If the club had been PLATO'S Cave (not Retreat), I woulda got it for sure!

@Dirigonzo: hear, hear. Though this blog wouldn't be quite as entertaining to read :-)

Anonymous 8:41 PM  

What a night/day difference between two almost-same-named bloggers: Zak and zach! Zak needs to take a chill pill. It's pretty widely acknowledged that the Beach Boys contributed innovative vocal harmonics to our musical history, and so I come down on zach's side. Ditto many comments about DONT WORRY BABY; if you listen to those lyrics, the girl's soothing reassurances echo those of many artists of the day, as their followers faced increasingly troubling times. That song hit just the right notes for a lot of us.
LITTLESAINTNICK? Well, okay for calling it a "hit;" it was, sort of, making the top ten of a few cities and the top twenty of a few more for the holidays, but I doubt anyone citing The BB's best work would mention that one. I'm disappointed that "Good Vibrations" contains only 14 letters. Talk about innovation!
Anyway, I enjoy nostalgic themes wherever I find them, crosswords included.

capocan: The Don markets his own pasta sauce.

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