1980s Salvadoran president / WED 1-4-12 / Detroit rapper a-Che / Org whose logo features letter pi with arrow through it / Courtier who invites Hamlet to duel with Laertes

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Quip puzzle18A: Start of a quip by 44-Across [Brendan BEHAN]: "I SAW A NOTICE / WHICH SAID / DRINK CANADA DRY AND I'VE / JUST STARTED"

Word of the Day: Brendan BEHAN (44A: Writer Brendan) —
Brendan Francis Behan ([...] 9 February 1923 – 20 March 1964) was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both Irish and English. He was also an Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army. (wikipedia)
• • •

So he's Irish, but he was in Canada once, I guess? Or he's drinking Canadian whiskey? I like the quip, but the fact of his not being Canadian is slightly confusing to me. I don't know BEHAN at all—doubt it would've helped much with this difficult puzzle. Quote puzzles are notoriously time-consuming (compared to other themed puzzles) because there is no pattern to pick up and no way to know where the quip is going (unless you've heard it before or it's moving in some very predictable direction I guess). I am not familiar with the use of "NOTICE" in this quip, though I'm guessing it simply means advertisement. Once I got the quip as far as CANADA DRY, I knew vaguely what the joke would be. I like the punchline's terseness. As for the rest of the grid—it is eye-popping. Very tough, but very light on junk. Enjoyable, but much more a Thursday than a Wednesday puzzle. Combine BEQ's sensibility (which involves tricky, often very contemporary cluing) with a quip puzzle, and you have a recipe for toughness. My near downfall was the FSIX / SIM CARD crossing. I never use F keys so that clue meant nothing to me. And I can't remember the last time I saw or used the phrase SIM CARD (26D: Data holder on a cellphone). Scary, but that "S" was (in the end) inferrable via F-SIX (25A: Key in the middle of the top row), though I'm sure there are people out there right now wondering what an AIM CARD and a FAIX key are. Or a LIM CARD and a FLIX key. Etc. 

I'd completely forgotten the name DUARTE (1980s Salvadoran president). Was totally flummoxed by ONE DOWN (1D: You are here). Had BEYONCÉ for BELUSHI (2D: Only person to have the #1 movie, #1 album and #1-rated late-night TV show all in the same week) (really should've read the clue all the way to the end...). Clue on CIG was rough (22A: Parliament, e.g., in brief). Wanted ZIT to be NIT at first (51D: Small blemish, in slang). Briefly wondered why Eisenhower would've been the [Subj. of the 1948 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]. "Ohhhhhh ... DDT! Yeah, that makes more sense." JEEZ and ANAL seem borderline profane, so I like that they are symmetrical.

  • 14A: Org. whose logo features the letter pi with an arrow through it (NEA) — I think this is my wife's union. I've never seen their logo.
  • 24A: Courtier who invites Hamlet to duel with Laertes (OSRIC) — minor character, but I used him in a puzzle once, so he's an easy pick-up. The word "courtier" (as well as the 5-letter length) is a give-away.
  • 4D: Feature of Dr. Frankenstein's lab (SWITCH) — a great but (again) very tough clue for SWITCH

  • 21D: Detroit rapper ___-a-Che (RIC) — sounds like "ricochet." Don't think I've ever heard him, but I've definitely seen the name before. Possibly in another BEQ puzzle. 
  • 37D: ___ Kitchen (organic frozen food company) (AMY'S) — wow, do people know this company? I do, but only because I shop in the little "healthy" ghetto in Wegman's (where all the whole grains and loose leaf teas and soy milk and gluten-free junk is). I enjoy some of AMY'S veggie burgers. The pot pies, not so much. Too much crust.
  • 48D: Thing watched while driving through a speed trap (NEEDLE) — it's hard to shoot heroin and drive at the same time.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:06 AM  

I'm not a fan of quip puzzles but this one was fine.   I mean ONACID, ANAL, John BELUSHI, a booze quip and, a "Q" short of a pangram (that had to be intentional) .... what more do you need on Wed.?

Easy-Medium for me.  Write overs were MOO to MEW and  G  to J in JEEZ.   Doing two BEQ's a week seems to help.

I know AMY's from Whole Foods.

Tobias Duncan 12:10 AM  

The top of this puzzle was a Thursday and the bottom was a Tuesday.I guess together that makes a Wednesday.

foodie 12:11 AM  

yeah, I agree with Rex. Tough but some of the fill is wonderful. Scrabbly, beautifully clued. Don't necessarily love the quote-- may be because I had so much trouble parsing it, even after I was done. I kept reading DRY AND DIVE instead of DRY AND I'VE. But even after I got it, I did not find the saying particularly clever..

On the other hand, look at the BANJOS and JETHROs and XEROXES and SNEEZY... Good stuff!

I knew SIM CARDs from all the traveling. The secret is to get a phone with an open configuration and buy a local SIM card if you can possibly manage it. Saves a ton of money.

Rex, AMY is now everywhere, it seems.

NW was quite tough. But Good work out! Very BEQ...

CoolPapaD 12:24 AM  

LOVED this - would have been much harder to do ON ACID. Parliament was my brand when I partook, and was also the CIG of choice of a major character in The Art of Fielding, which I finished yesterday, so that fell nicely. As the only vegan in my household, Amy's frozen foods are a staple (great quality, but small portions).

I'm assuming SNL, plus the Blues Brothers movie and album were the three number 1s in 2D.

Had GEEZ - seems better than with a J. I've always assumed that it was short for GEE WHIZ, not for Jesus. Oh well - when Mr. HP wouldn't appear, that was the only letter in question!

GILL I. 12:25 AM  

I got the SIMCARD but I'll be damned if FSIX reared its head. FSUX sounded more Quigley(esque) and ONACUD sounds like you might be tripping. By the way, what IS ONACID?.
Also not a great fan of quips but I just danced along in my fog induced hacking cough and decided this was a damn good puzzle.
Loved GEEZ, BOSSY and GOAD in that little right hand corner.
My kids say I'm ANAL about everything...Not sure why.

Julie 12:28 AM  

As a pediatrician, I object to an OBs being called baby docs.
The woman in labor is the patient of the OB; the baby is the patient of the pediatrician. I spent many nights of my residency running tithe delivery room, to be handed a newborn to resuscitate, while the OB delivered the placenta and attended to the mother.

Aaron 12:49 AM  

Rex, don't you mean "it's hard to shoot heroin and speed at the same time"?


pk 12:51 AM  

Hand up for the Geez/Jeez error initially. Can't believe "anal" made it into the puzz, but why not? @Gill, not to worry, people say it about me, too. Suspect that a lot of us who hang around here in Rexville are candidates.

And "you are here" = "one down!" Be still my heart, BEQ. Brilliant.

Deb 1:00 AM  

@Gill I.P., just in case you weren't joking, it parses as ON ACID. I found it kind of interesting to learn that Steve Jobs considered taking LSD to have been "a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life." I tried it a few times in my youth and just saw lots of pretty colors. Maybe I was doing it wrong.

@Julie, it irks me, too (OBs being referred to as "baby docs"). It's simply wrong.

I got stuck on the FSIX/SIMCARD cross, too, but mostly because I happened to be sitting at my desktop computer while I solved and the F8 key is in the middle on my particular keyboard.

Nogram - invisible monogram

Clark 1:36 AM  

That was fun! Nice to be on the constructors wave length for a change. And BEQ no less.

I kept trying not to look at the top row of the keyboard, but it was like not thinking of an elephant.

syndy 1:40 AM  

Flamed out at ABC/ABYS.The NW corner was the last in- ONE DOWN was a hoot.A lot to like and I won't hold a grudge I've never seen Breaking Bad but I should have known it wasn't ABC.I wanted SWIVEL at first and then thought maybe SWINGS? but SWITCH I finally remembered from Young Frankenstein.Two pipe joints-JEEZ louise!

Anonymous 1:53 AM  

Not sure whether you're joking, Rex, but in case you're not: Behan was a notorious alcoholic; Canada Dry is a soft drink (similar to ginger ale); hence the pun in the quip.

Alighted Canada Michaels 1:54 AM  

60+ year old joke, author does a shout out to himself, and no screams from @rex...right on!

Had sort of a drunken druggie feel...BELUSHI, Brendan BEHAN (total drunkard..as the quote attests), ON ACID, Chech MARIN, CIG, an unhooked BRA...

3Js, 2Zs, 3Xs...my hero! Total pangram because I'm counting the Q in BEQ!

chefwen 2:21 AM  

Dislike quip puzzles, never heard of Brendan Behan. Did the same thing as @foodie with DRY AND DIVE, had gEEZ before I looked up the Bruce Springsteen album (sacrilege on a Wednesday) and changed my geez to JEEZ. Not a good experience tonight, looking forward to Thursday.

davko 2:22 AM  

I was so convinced 2D had to be Henry MANCINI -- a man whose talents also spanned various media -- it took me a while to clean up the NW corner, especially with SWIVEL as my first choice for 4D. Once fixed, the rest was a breeze... but can someone clarify the quip? The pun on "dry" isn't quite tracking, familiar though I am with both the soft drink and alcohol-free connotation.

retired_chemist 2:27 AM  

Hand up for disliking OBS (1A),not only for reasons given by others but also because an abbreviation wasn't indicated.

Medium here, except for FSIX. Like Rex, I never use the F keys and I wasn't expecting it. My downfall was in having NIL for 12D (NIX) so I was looking to fill F_IL. Had to check squares in AL and them it was clear.

SW was slowed a bit because of LEERS @ 61A to start.

Debated whether "Breaking Bad" might be on ABC and the organic frozen food place be ABY'S. Decided not and was rewarded for that decision. Apparently this AMY'S is no relation to Amy's Ice Cream, which is primarily an Austin TX chain and well worth a visit if you're there.

20A was (Daniel) ORTEGA for a while. Wrong Central American country. Also, he is President again (who knew?) so "former" would have been misleading.

A fun solve overall. Thanks, Mr. Q.

retired_chemist 2:32 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 2:33 AM  

@ davco - "drink Canada Dry" <=> drink the beverage, while "drink Canada dry" <=> drink until one has consumed all of Canada's alcohol.

Nate Conrad 3:16 AM  

'Sim card' is quite a common phrase in Asia, although the iPhone 4 and 4s are using a 'micro sim card'. I got 'sim card' right away but struggled to come up with 'F six. Once I remembered that Peter Falk was Columbo, the super obvious combination of 'f' and 's' gave it away.

Joel 3:26 AM  

The quote was alright, but the fill was just incredible. Super smooth and lively everywhere, truly impressive construction in my opinion.

Wood 6:47 AM  

Pretty crunchy for a Wednesday. NW stayed blank for an alarmingly long time. But loved the accumulating "Doh!" moments -- ONE DOWN. F SIX. I use the F keys all the time (I'm a programmer) but was doing the puzzle on my iPhone and could not visualize a "top row" on a standard keyboard any higher than the numbers! Even after I had the initial FS I was like, WTF? Started to wonder if it was Peter Salk. No, that's the polio guy.

But this is the kind of puzzle I like... doesn't give itself up TOO easily. Something about how the quip was parsed between the theme answers made it really tough to make sense of until the very end. And that's how it should be!

Rudy Shankar 7:33 AM  

Inspite of quip-heavy from obscure author, this puz was fun. Overall boozy theme. At one time I had the entire North filled with zero entries in the South! The quip appeared quite easily. 26a and 51a were original, as was 1d.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

Au Contraire Retired Chemist

The clue for OBS was "Baby Docs", not Baby doctors

dk 8:04 AM  

Two points:

JEEZ it should be a sign THAT said: not WHICH.

@Aaron you are referring to a speedball and it is definitely hard to shoot one and drive as your head snaps back and your eyes... not that I would know.

Teen angst, sex, drugs, rock and roll all things BEQ.

*** (3 Stars) OGLES, BRA and ROD. I feel a need to chortle... better call my sponsor.

d(sixty year old joke)k

Mexican bandit checking into a hotel is told to wait in the lobby while they put a SHEET on his bed. Bandit pulls out his gun saying if you SHEETs on my bed I kill you.

AnnieD 8:24 AM  

Hand up for geez/jeez. NW corner was the last to fall, helped a lot once I got one down....a doh! moment.

Good puzz all around. Thanks BEQ!

AnnieD 8:27 AM  

Quote puzzles always remind me of the best one of all from about 20 years ago...about the pastor who could only think of sects, sects, sects....

joho 8:39 AM  

I ended up with FlIX/lIMCARD. I didn't even think of the top row on a computer as I was focusing on the "key" to the answer at 25A being in the top row of this puzzle! (Took my lead there from 1D's "You are here" clue.) So I convinced myself that SLOMO would be seen in FLIX. Ugh.

I did love all the scrabbly letters and tough cluing, but dare I cry Natick at that sticky crossing?

evil doug 8:41 AM  

Hate to spend (now) $2.50 on the Times to do a Wednesday puzzle---normally I'll only spring for the Thursday-Friday-Saturday triad---but after a glance at this BEQ triumph I gave my SBUX barista the dough.

ACME: I'll reluctantly give BEQ a pass on his narcissistic shout-out since it was in the clue rather than the answer. A close call, though....

I was kind of surprised that this isn't the first time 'anal' has made it, but only a few others. Once it was an abbreviation for "psychological work", so that doesn't really count (although a nice way to sneak it in). Not at all surprised that BEQ had used it before in a diagramless puzzle in 2010: "Incredibly persnickety".

Funny episode of "The League" on FX had the boys struggling with their spell-checkers. Pete's girlfriend joined them at the bar and wryly pointed out that Pete's texting suggestion of 'alan sex' sounded interesting.


Tita 9:09 AM  

This puzzle slew me...esp NW.
employED for SALARIED, Alas, poor ioRIC - er - yoRIC - umm - euRIC,I never knew him, Straps for SWITCH, Moo for MEW...oh no, a rapper too?

But I did know SIMCARD, from living in Europe, and even knew FSIX! (w/out looking, that is - had I, I would've put in Ften.) No- really - I didn't look...

Had leg as my abbr. for Parliament...
Also, insisting that 14A should at least start with a "P" forced a google.

Was gob-smacked by ONEDOWN when I finally got it! Brilliant!

retired_chemist 9:12 AM  

@ Anon 7:51 - good catch!

Je Suis Innocent 9:21 AM  

Baby docs? I was thinking Haiti all the way. Nice misdirection BEQ!

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

As I am currently ON EARTH the northwest proved impossible.

John V 9:26 AM  

Medium/Challenging/20 mile-er, Stamford to Woodlawn. Counting down to Charlotte.

A terrific, perfect Wednesday, even though I never heard of Behan. The quip was funny stuff. I had a bit of a time seeing "IVE" = I'VE. Hardest part by far was FSIX (which I thought was fabulous) cross, but I knew Peter Falk right off and SIMCARD was pretty easy, IMHO. SE and NW were fabulous, with XEROXED and ONEDOWN; fill to make these work was okay, given these brilliant ones. With BELUSHI, FALK, DUARTE, played a bit to the older crowd, which works for me, but I can see this playing more Thursday for the South of 50 cohort.

quilter1 9:27 AM  

I always enjoy cracking a BEQ puzzle and this one did not disappoint. Hard clues for easy answers a challenge for early morning before the cobwebs disappear.

I have actually heard this quip before someplace. And I go on record to say that Vernor's ginger ale is far superior to Canada Dry. It might be a brand confined to the Midwest, but if you see it and like ginger ale, give it a try. Very gingery.

Kurt 9:31 AM  

Great puzzle...even though I'm not a big fan of quips. Loved SNEEZY, BELUSHI, XEROXED and BANJOS. Great fill with lots of scrabbly letters.

Thanks Brendan. And thanks Rex.

efrex 9:34 AM  

Wow, a BEQ Wednesday that I finished in one sitting... either I'm getting better at these, or BEQ is getting old like the rest of us fogeys.

Never heard of Mr. BEHAN, but the quote was a worthy one. Lots of great fill all over the grid with tough-but-gettable cluing. Struggled with FSIX (initially wanted FMAJ or FMIN, but neither worked with the crosses) and ONEDOWN (like someone else, considered ONEARTH for far too long), but otherwise chugged through this one pretty cleanly. Only writeover: had MOO before MEW.

Bravo, sir Quigley!

jackj 9:34 AM  

Quote puzzles are usually about as much fun as a root canal gone wrong but, BEQ's non-theme cluing is delightfully gnarly and the over-all puzzle is as fresh as a newly unwrapped bar of Irish Spring. (Or, maybe, using a more appropriate Behan metaphor, as smooth as 24 year-old Irish whiskey).

With the keyboard's obscure FZIX, JEEZ rather than the expected GEEZ, and AMYS crossing AMC, BEQ seemed to be giving many solvers an unwelcome chance for multiple Naticks but, as a slight reward, Shakespeare's courtier du jour, OSRIC has evolved into a friendly gimme over time.

And, finally, who else but BEQ would make the effort to include a mini-theme featuring "Pipe joint"(s) he has known, by presenting the letter shaped bends of ELL and TEE.

It was nice to have to work a bit for a change.

Thanks, BEQ.

chefbea 9:36 AM  

Couldn't parse onacid til I got here

1D was a great clue.

Understood the theme - drinking all the alcohol in canada

Had to google a bit but then it was fairly easy. Of course loved cookie sheet

John V 9:36 AM  

@quilter1: This Buffalo kid is right there with you on Vernor's being better than Canada Dry. Not even close.

Sparky 9:38 AM  

Drink so much that you drink the place dry.

Z 9:42 AM  

Played like a Thursday for me, with the NW being Friday tough. I have to agree with @Julie and @Deb about OBS. I never wrote in "ped" but it was my hypothesis up until the very end. Having OrRIC also blinded me to BELUSHI, I was picking my brain to come up with a Carson competitor who might have made number 1; Bishop, Griffin, seems like there was a new one every couple of years in the sixties and seventies. I also thought it should be "that" not WHICH. So that whole corner took a long time to sort out.

Where I grew up there were still a number of older Hollanders who were more offended by JEEZ, gee whiz, or god's blood, than by ANAL or other scatological phrases. Taking the Lord's name in vain is enjoined in the Bible, after all.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

BEHAN was a gimme for me because he's the Irish playwright I don't know.

I don't like artists who profit from the fact that they're raging alcoholics/addicts by making jokes about their addictions while it's still funny/evocative but don't hang around to rue their addiction after they're dead. Seems like a cop-out to me.

Z 9:53 AM  

@Quilter and @John V - Vernors is so different from other ginger ales as to be a whole different kind of soda pop. And I always warn people first trying Vernors about the SNEEZY result of opening the can too close to your nose.

One letter short 9:55 AM  

I'd like to think the *missing Q* is the author's shout out to himself rather than 44A.

Much more subtle and befitting of BEQ.


Sparky 10:03 AM  

Also do not like quip puzzles but love BEQ challenges. Got BEHAN right off. Perhaps an age or I'm Irish American thing. DNF. Missed 2 and 3D and too eager to come here so quit, though I had DUARTE and erased him. Mind stuck with talk shows, not SNL. Went all the way back to Steve Allen trying to think of answer.

Really had a good time with this. O-S threw me off; liked slant on OGLES; lots of Js, Zs, Xs, crunchy as noted above. BEQ self ref okay by me; my name in there too, tee hee. Thanks Mr. Quigley.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

@Julie We OBs consider the Baby (ok fetus) our patient until it emerges.

Jeffrey 10:16 AM  

The last letter which eluded me for the longest time was the final A in CANADA. Go figure.

EG in TO 10:20 AM  

Usually I don't like quote puzzles but this one was a lot of fun-- clever cluing and smooth fill. Got the quote pretty quickly which helped a lot, but I don't know Brendan Behan so I didn't connect that answer to the quote until I came here.

One small quibble-- the ukulele is related to the banjo in that they are both stringed instruments, but they have very different ancestry, the banjo descending from African gourd instruments, and the uke descending from Portuguese stringed instruments brought to Hawaii in the 1800s. Probably a little beyond most people's knowledge of music instrument history, though

Finished with one blank square at ONA_ID and _IG. Kept thinking "On a ??-- WTF?" and was stuck on forms of government for "Parliament, e.g." so I had to come here for the answer. Still loved the puzzle, though.
Absolutely agree about Vernor's. Best!

GILL I. 10:43 AM  

@Deb - thanks. I actually Googled ONACUD before retiring to bed, and it gave me ONACUP! ON ACID is a lot more appropriate (I think!).

r.alphbunker 10:45 AM  

BEQ on quote puzzles:

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

I usually cannot get on BEQ's vibe but today I did. Loved this grid full of my favorite sins.
LSD was my drug of choice back when I knew where to get it and the quality was top notch. My reaction was very much like Steve Jobs'.
We had a discussion about Behan last time he was in a puzzle. From that I bought Borstal Boy. Borstal is Brit-speak for any detention center for young men/boys.
Lots to love in the grid and the clues. Thanks Brendan.

Orange 10:55 AM  

Rex, I was eyeballing AMY'S pot pies yesterday afternoon! "Too much crust" is a compelling argument in favor of the pies, if you ask me—but alas, the inclusion of tofu in the veggie pot pie makes it a nonstarter for me.

Greg Charles 10:57 AM  

I know Brendan Behan, from The Pogues' "Thousands Are Sailing":

In Manhattan's desert twilight
In the death of afternoon
We stepped hand in hand on Broadway
Like the first man on the moon

And "The Blackbird" broke the silence
As you whistled it so sweet
And in Brendan Behan's footsteps
I danced up and down the street

Almost DNF for me because of Parliament and Amy's, but finally broke through.

JaxInL.A. 10:57 AM  

My Christmas present to myself was getting the twice-weekly BEQ puzzle subscription. He's a bit of a bête noir for me, as we don't seem to share a wavelength. So when I saw his byline, I groaned.

I SAW A NOTICE and it SAID... so the NW stayed doubly obscure for me. I was employed and not SALARIED, I rejected OBS and tried to think of baby documents that might be abbreviated into two letters. Never knew the rapper, didn't recognize the logo, and reading Hamlet 12 times in my youth and even seeing it recently didn't help me with OSRIC. The only president I could come up with was Allende, who didn't fit and wasn't Salvadoran. WHEW!

Finally I looked up the phrase and everything began to fall into place. Very nice puzzle, even if I can finish a BEQ only rarely.

Tita 10:57 AM  

@EG in TO - You're quite right about the Uke...
I am not a musical instrument historian, but I am Portuguese!
Speaking of which, the January bonus puzzle celebrating the Euro turning 10 may interest you...

fruitypants 11:04 AM  

Love, love, loved it. Several times I thought to myself "No way..." as I was solving. A completely refreshing puzzle.

John V 11:10 AM  

Best new blog handle of the new year = fruitypants.

BocaBoy 11:17 AM  

I also got thrown by 1-down being"onedown." It was the last clue I got.

I'm also embarrassed to say that I'm from Pgh. and put in SSE initially for Pgh. to Bal. direction.

quilter1 11:17 AM  

Some years ago there was a Kenneth Branaugh production of Hamlet on PBS. Robin Williams played OSRIC and even though it is a tiny part I remember it well. He played it totally straight, yet deserving of the ridicule of Hamlet and friends.

Glad to see so many Vernor's fans.

Gram Parsons 11:18 AM  

Two Ponies is right--Behan has tripped up people before when he was clued as author of Borstal Boy (or vice versa.)

I didn't know he was the source of that joke. I thought it was just an old cornpone joke--sounded like something from the WSM radio days. It's been the source of at least a couple of country songs.

I got a lot of the things that tripped people up today--ONE DOWN and CIG were first pass answers I got--but got tripped up by(and failed the puzzle because of) the "London jazz duo" clue crossing "small blemish." I went with NIT/NEDS. NEDS makes no sense, NIT only slightly more sense, but I got lazy going through the alphabet, I guess.

imfromjersey 11:19 AM  

Does it count as cheating if when solving online, I looked down at my keyboard and found that FSIX was in the middle of the top row?

HARD puzzle for a Wednesday but very enjoyable. Thanks BEQ! And if I recall correclty, BEQ is known for alcohol references in his puzzles, so this is the perfect quip.

@rex, thanks for including the Aimee Mann clip, hadn't seen that one before, I am a HUGE fan of Aimee (and her husband Michael Penn for that matter)

Masked and Anonymous 11:33 AM  

High point: Finally figuring out FSIX/SIMCARD, ABM.

Low point: Coming here and learning that gEEZ shoulda been JEEZ. Sheez. Snort.

Personal problem: Confusing PAD and PAt for a tourney-disqualifyingly long amount of time. Made the quip look like it had "no dice" in it, which was making a pleasant BEQ crossword seem like War Puz. (Just saw "War Horse" yesterday, so everything is War ___, today. Especially War Budgie.)

Fave fillins: SWITCH, ONACID, JETHRO, SNEEZY. Shoot -- there's four of yer 7 dwarfs, right there.

Fave clue: The BELUSHI one. Forgot what the question was, by the time I got done reading it.

Fave 31 remark:"So he's Irish, but he was in Canada once, I guess?" Anyhoo, I raise my cinnamon roll in a toast to Brendans, everywhere. thUmbsUp.

Rookie 11:48 AM  

I had the right idea for 1D: Had "onthewn" (on the west north) - Was thrown by the "w" being where it was. Just gave in and thought it was part of the joke - because northwest can just as truly be west north, even though we don't say it that way. Eventually, the crosses corrected it.

Other problem was that PARLIAMENT for me was "leg." It didn't help that it and "cig" both ended in "g."

Fun puzzle.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

I'm sure it's a lot easier drinking Canada dry than Chicago. I've been trying for years without much success.

I knew Rex would like this puzzle -- lots of drugs and sex.

Evil -- You can always pay $39.95 for an annual online premium subscription. Wordplay can be a little pollyannish at times (groan) and could use your insight and wisdom....


archaeoprof 11:53 AM  

NW was hardest for me.

As a bluegrass guitar player, I cannot regard a banjo and ukelele as related in any way.

@ChefBea: agree with you about 1D

@CoolPapaD: just started The Art of Fielding last night. I'm already hooked.

David 11:55 AM  

I've been enjoying other BEW puzzles of late, all of which are very thorny and extremely satisfying to finish, so I was pleased but not too surprised to nail this one in a little under 10 minutes (a minor miracle for me in a quip puzzle, which usually slows me up big big time).

I loved this one - even though I've never heard of Brendan BEHAN, the crosses were very simple, and the quip was fun. Aside from that, it was a matter of filling in the easy entries, which seamlessly led to the medium and difficult ones, as the fill and cluing were terrific.

NW was also tough for me - for the #1 answer at 2D I was thinking too contemporary and also only considering late-night TALK shows, and 1D was just awesome and nasty. And I have just GOT to commit OSRIC to my brain - one of many frequent crossword answers that I never remember from one puzzle to the next.

Cheerio 12:03 PM  

I loved this puzzle! My favorite solve, by far, in a bunch of weeks.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

i "cheated" and peeked at my key board for fsix. it reminded me that when i gave the IQ test to kids for 20 years as a school psychologist not one child thought to look at the telephone on my desk when given a picture of a phone and asked to find what was missing in the pic. i knew behan but not amys. hand up for Geez. but otherwise didn't find the puzzle challenging for wed.

Loren Muse Smith 12:27 PM  

I would normally rather shove upholstery tacks into my gums than work a quip/quote puzzle, but I found today's delightful, zippy, and relatively easy. Having just yesterday upgraded my son's phone, I got SIMCARD immediately. Was held up in the E with PUSHY until the "s" in IRISES showed me BOSSY. I always appreciate Js and Zs! Speaking of The Beverly Hillbillies, has any constructor ever played around with the unexpected pronunciations of words like "victuals, chitterlings, breeches. . ..?" I'm a lot newer to Crossword Land than most of ya'll. Thanks, BEQ, for a terrific PREDAWN (what I kept wanting at 1D, since I solved it at 5:30 this morning)!

Lewis 12:30 PM  

@rex -- loved the needle quip, and I have heard of Amy's (good products too!).

@aaron -- very funny!

It doesn't happen often, but this puzzle was right on my wavelength. I threw down the whole quote with many letters missing, got 1D right away with a big smile, spelled JEEZ right, and so on. A joyful solve.

Amy's frozen Mexican dinners are excellent, by the way...

MikeM 12:40 PM  

There is a pub in Midtown Manhattan I frequent called PJ Morans. In it hangs a painting of Brendan Behan. I have always commented it looks just like John Belushi. Not sure if BEQ is aware of this coincidence

John V 1:14 PM  

@MikeM: Where is the Midtown pub?

JaxInL.A. 1:33 PM  

Over at Orange's place, Bob Margolis posted this intriguing article about crosswords and brain activity from New Scientist magazine.

Makes me feel slightly better about spending so many hours on this passtime.

mac 1:35 PM  

Fantastic puzzle, with the missing Q the cherry on the sundae!

I felt a distinctly European/British undertone. What a lot of fun.

r.alphbunker 1:53 PM  

Thanks for posting the link. I am in L.A. for a couple of weeks helping my wife with a show. I realize that this is probably like saying that I am in New England, but if we are near one another maybe we could have coffee.

You posted a couple of days ago that you were giving a course on the NYT puzzle. I am sure it was a joke but if not I would like to see the syllabus.

I once gave a lab in a computer security course I taught where the students had to crack the key that was used to scramble a NYT puzzle.

Rube 2:20 PM  

@JaxinLA, you didn't try hard enough to fit Alende into 20A... a little misspelling can do wonders for fitting wrong answers. Besides, when his first name is Salvador and you've finished off 3 bottles of wine with your company last night, anything goes.

@DK, I too remarked the that/which error... I think that's why BEQ put anal in this puzzle.

@TwoPonies, thanks for bringing up the Borstal Boys from a puzzle past. I knew I'd heard of Brendan Behan before, but couldn't remember from where.

Why did I not finish last night? Had (got) SlEEpY, wasn't sure of IRISES, and couldn't remember Cheech's first name, gEEZ. (Missed that and AMY/AbYs too.) An embarrasing Wednesday DNF. Hand up for not liking quip puzzles. I also notice that no-one here has said that they like the damn things.

archaeoprof 2:35 PM  

@r.alph bunker: the course is for real. Our 4-wk January term features off-the-beaten-path content. 35 students signed up, all beginning puzzlers. Send me an email.

PuzzleNut 2:37 PM  

What a difference a year makes. Used to find BEQ's puzzles too hip and esoteric, but after solving his two-a-week puzzles for the past twelve months, this one went down easy. Had the AbC/AbYS problem, but now kick myself for that mistake.
Am not a fan of rap music and the meaningless names that BEQ uses, but even some of them are starting to get inferrable.
Overall, another masterpiece from Brendan. It must be hard for Shortz not to run every puzzle he submits.

Masked and Anonymous II 2:49 PM  

@JaxInLA: Cool article. Psychologists, etc could no doubt find some intriguing observations, getting into the heads of crossword constructors, too. BEQ'd probably scare 'em half to death. Har. He does me.

santafefran 3:37 PM  

After almost 2 wks off, husband is back at work today. Said one of his buddies dropped by looking for the SWITCH. What switch? The motivation to be working switch, not the Frankenstein one.

A tough puzzle for me. Agree with @Tobias that bottom half much easier than the top.

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

Anonymous said...

"Not sure whether you're joking, Rex, but in case you're not: Behan was a notorious alcoholic..."

I sincerely hope Rex is joking when he say's he's never heard of Behan.

sanfranman59 4:25 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Wed 14:58, 11:50, 1.27, 94%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 8:04, 5:52, 1.38, 98%, Challenging

ksquare 5:15 PM  

This may not be the place to ask, but can anyone provide a brief explanation of WTF the F keys are used for?

Tita 5:24 PM  

ksquare...back in teh mesezoic era of computing, before windows and guis and mice, computer makers offered up a new, dedicated row of keys to help perform commonly used tasks.
Now they do things like hibernate computers, switch to external displays, or offer themselves up to be re-assigned to any frivolous whim of the user.

I prefer keyboard over mouse for just about everything, myself.

@Jax - thx for the interesting read.

@archeo & @r.alph - wish I had y'all for profs during my college days!

Stan 5:29 PM  

A really fun puzzle, with unexpected fill and tough-but-fair tricky spots around every corner.

There is nothing in the world wrong with using 'which' to begin a restrictive clause, as long as you leave out the comma.

Thanks, Brendan & Brendan

Tita 5:31 PM  

@r.alph...thx for the other beq... That quip is a pretty good.
That was a fun solve, but I have now done all the quip puzzles I need to for 2012.

DR W 5:37 PM  

If it helps, I had pretty much the same reactions as Rex. Natick for the simcard and f6 fills. Only strikeover was on harass for 46D.

Joe 5:47 PM  

WOW--A BEQ that I could actually finish.
Worked my way through.
Liked some of the cluing and references. Good stuff mostly.
The rest you had to jog your memory or get on the fill.
OK by me.

quilter1 6:46 PM  

@JaxinLA: interesting article. It makes me wonder why the experts say that doing crosswords and other word or number games don't help keep us sharp as we age.

sanfranman59 10:04 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:49, 6:50, 1.00, 52%, Medium
Tue 8:51, 8:52, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Wed 15:04, 11:50, 1.27, 94%, Challenging (9th highest Wednesday median solve time)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:38, 4:34, 1.01, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 7:35, 5:52, 1.29, 95%, Challenging (8th highest Wednesday median solve time)

Anonymous 11:32 PM  

@ksquare I'm glad you asked that question as I have no idea what they're for.
Thanx @Tita for trying to explain, but I still don't get it.
ksquare, do you?

leyla 11:39 PM  

Dear Admin, it's urgent. Please get in touch with me as soon as possible, my email address is leylacag87@gmail.com

MikeM 11:42 PM  

@JohnV, 48th and 5th

Tita 9:40 AM  

@Anon 11:32 and ksquare...

Back when computers could only run one app at a time, and the only way to interact with them was keyboard (not a mouse), each function key had a task assigned to it...

FOr us "ordinary" folks - plain old users of computers, they serve little purpose.
On a desktop computer, about the only thing you might ever use is the Prnt Scrn key, which copies a screen shot into your clipboard.
On a laptop, more of them are used, for things like putting the laptop into sleep mode or switching the display to a projector.

If this be error, and upon me proved, I never writ, - oops, I digress...

If this doesn't help, I would take that as a sign that you don't need to know, and certainly don't need to care!

yantingl 5:22 PM  

I can never seem to get all the way on BEQ's wavelength for better or worse.

One man's crip is another's downfall and vice versa, that's what I get from a discussion of a puzzle such as this.

65% fell, 10% made no sense from BEQ cluing until the reveal.

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

For those interested, the long partial could have been avoided by changing 32-Across OOF to EFF. This move allows 6-Down to become TRADE OFF/WRITE OFF or many ????E?OFF combos. There's at least on good solution for the upper left corner using TRADEOFF.

Anonymous 11:37 PM  

this is the first time in over a year i got my hands on nyt x-word puzzle. long long story on why i haven't gotten my hands on one. (no i haven't been in jail!) here is my $0.02:

did not get the quip. guess you got to be irish or canadian. eh? or both

lot's of Js. no problem, just an observation.

@archaeoprof - you're right, the banjo and uke are not related
(44D) the the uke is close to guitar and banjo is closer to mandolin. banjo & uke are string instruments thats about it.

only got about 25% done. now that i'm back in the game, i can get up to my average of 75%-100%

DJ Stone 12:57 PM  

Funny that someone didn't realize that ON ACID equates to tripping. While looking at all the pretty colors (someone else's reference), you might just miss the curb and fall on your face. Personally, when my college roommate and I did acid the first time, we stayed up playing Asteroids (great tracers) before going out to watch the sunrise (pretty spectacular colors).

No gram = invisible monogram? No. It means you're completely out of weed. Especially here in Oregon where less than an ounce (28 grams!) gets you the equivalent of a parking ticket.

Thanks to Two Ponies for the Borstal reference. One of the all-time great punk songs is "Borstal Breakout" by Sham 69. I'd always assumed that Borstal was an English slum. Who knew?

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Hey,John V. Another Buffalo boy here. I can remember when the Vernor store was on Main Street next to Shea's Buffalo. First time commenting although been reading the blogs for some time. Although I got FSIX fairly fast, I, for whatever reason, was thinking of the musical Key of F, and therefore didn't understand the answer right away. First had GEEZ/GOAD, and since I'm too old to know any Springsteen tunes, I realized it was "J" not "G", because I knew the character Tom Joad from the novel "Grapes of Wrath". Rest of it came fairly fast, but some challenges.

Dirigonzo 3:19 PM  

I second all the love that has been heaped on this puzzle. Any grid that has "DRINKCANADA" right smack in the middle gets two thumbs up from me(although I'm more apt to drink Kentucky). It even has ZEDS for solvers north of the border - fabulous!

Does anybody but me have to put their captcha in twice before blogger will publish a comment?

rain forest 4:21 PM  

@archaeprof: That's like saying "As an oboe player, I don't regard the tuba and the cornet as relatives."

@dirigonzo: Right on! Canada Dry!Two zeds! Stanley Cup next.

Passing thought: If people didn't know in advance that this was a BEQ puzzle, would the love have flowed as gushingly? Anyway, a fun puzzle, but perhaps because I'm from Canada, I thought that Aby's was a fine food company, alas.

LongBeachLee 4:34 PM  

I can't believe I'm the first SLOMO griper. SLOMO is not a view. Oblique, head-on, and rear, etc are views. SLOMO is a speed or rate, as in replay rate.

Mighty Nisden 6:06 PM  

Arrgh! (Still a pirate today) Could not for the life of me figure out the FSIX. Couldn't stop thinking of the piano keyboard. And I use a computer all day long while I solve.
Loved 2D but started with Jay Leno as the only talk show host with seven letters.

Because I can't spell very well could only thing of granny as the Beverly Hillbillies rep. Thought JETHRO was jethrow...
Oh well, great puzzle.

Spacecraft 7:04 PM  

Hard to believe that joke actually had to be EXPLAINED to someone. It's at least fifty years old. And before we get too holier-than-thou with drinking artists, let's remember that without alcohol, we might never have known Behan, or Poe, etc. etc.
I found this puzzle easy-medium; would have been a straight easy but for a couple of trouble spots. The first fill I knew 100% was the wonderful Peter FALK as Lt. "One-more-thing" Columbo. That gave me the F of 25a--which I rushed to assume was FIVE. Later, even when I wanted NIX I rejected it until very late, after almost everything was in.
My other trouble was trying to guess 2d; that's the kind of trivia you think you just HAVE to know without looking up. So instead of working crosses--which is what I wound up doing anyway--I took a shot with BOBHOPE. The B was in, for sure (OBS).
As has already been said, the fill is great. I like to combine neighboring entries, as: there's ONE BELUSHI DOWN and one still SALARIED. IRISES in NICHES make me SNEEZY, BANJOS give me ENOUGH HASSLE, and don't you hate it when people OVERUSE XEROXES?
The one that doesn't belong in there is ALIGHTED. Wouldn't the past tense of ALIGHT be ALIT? JEEZ.
All that plus a pangram. It's not Q-less: we have not only the constructor, but the quip.
Toughest clue: "Parliament, e.g." for CIG. A long, unabbreviated name for an abbreviation. Hmmm. Thanks to both Brendans.

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