Funeral song in Scotland / SUN 1-22-12 / Hero who debuted in Weird Tales 1932 / Villains in 1939's Stagecoach / Hallmark of Philadelphia sound / Duo with 2003 hit All Things She Said / Switched On Bach instrument

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Constructor: Adam Fromm

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Snow White's Employment Agency" — all clues follow [Bad job for [dwarf name]?] pattern.

Word of the Day: CORONACH (52D: Funeral song in Scotland) —
A coronach (also written coranich, corrinoch, coranach, cronach, etc.) is the Scottish Gaelic equivalent of the Goll,being the third part of a round of keening, the traditional improvised singing at a death, wake or funeral in the Highlands of Scotland and in Ireland. Though observers have reported hearing such songs in Ireland or in the Scottish Highlands, and melodies have been noted down and printed since the 18th century, audio recordings are rare; not only was the practice dying out or being supressed through the 19th century, but it was also considered by its practicioners to have been a very personal and spiritual practice, not suitable for performance or recording. (wikipedia)
• • •

Good idea. Very cute. Dopey's bad job was super-arbitrary (ALGEBRA TEACHER) and Doc's wasn't really a job at all (VILLAGE IDIOT), but other than that, the answers were pretty close to spot-on. Grid was easy to move through, though the west felt disproportionately tough—in part, perhaps, because of the arbitrariness of the Dopey answer (i.e. could've been *anything* TEACHER). My lanterns at the start of evening were UNLIT (duh), not RELIT. My experience with MINIMs is in the realm of medieval manuscripts, so this MINIM didn't leap immediately to mind (38D: Half note), and SOCIABLE (49D: Convivial) ... well, I didn't have the "B," so even with SOCIA- I didn't get anywhere at first (SOCIAL didn't fit, SOCIALLY was the wrong part of speech). A word about TATU (64D: Duo with the 2003 hit "All the Things She Said")—that word is 'ugh.' They were never big here. Two girls have a top 20 hit one year, kiss on TV, like, once, and now they're an acceptable crossword answer? No. Yes, 4-letter "U"-ending words are in short supply and Very Very necessary to constructors, but No. Banish. (I'm surprised to see this answer only once in the cruciverb database, and then only as a var. of TATTOO—I could've sworn I'd seen this "band" in puzzles before. Let's just make sure it never happens again).

Theme answers:
  • Bad occupation for Happy? (GOTH MUSICIAN)
  • Bad occupation for Sleepy? (NIGHT WATCHMAN)
  • Bad occupation for Sneezy? (FLORAL ARRANGER)
  • Bad occupation for Grumpy? (MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER)
  • Bad occupation for Dopey? (ALGEBRA TEACHER)
  • Bad occupation for Doc? (VILLAGE IDIOT)
  • Bad occupation for Bashful? (TV PERSONALITY)   
Tripped hard on CORONACH, a word I've never seen ever. That "H" was a total guess, though seemed like the most plausible letter, however improbably it might be that any novel would end with the word "THE" (86A: Last word of "Finnegans Wake"). Other "never heard of it" words include VOLAR (98D: Relating to the palm of the hand) (because the palms are what you fly with?), and CANEM (4D: Cave ___) (Latin for "Beware the dog" [!?]). Put in BIGWIGS when what was called for was (the much worse) BIGGIES (115A: Honchos). Got stumped by both "market" clues—didn't know "Best" was a verb in 84A: Best in the market (OUTSELL), and thought the [One going to market] was a person of some kind, not the PRODUCT itself. I would not have known how to spell ALAKAZAM (46D: "Voilà!"). It's about the most exciting thing in the grid.

  • 32A: Hero who debuted in Weird Tales magazine in 1932 (CONAN) — I used to read this comic and it still took me forever to figure out which hero was intended. I think I know too many pulp heroes. 
  • 44A: Villains in 1939's "Stagecoach" (APACHES) — A John Ford film I have never seen. I should fix that.
  • 105A: Hippocampus hippocampus, e.g. (SEAHORSE) — pfft, no way. I mean, in retrospect, yes, "hippo" means "horse," I know that much, but the hippocampus is a part of your brain, right? Needed many a cross to pick this one up.
  • 25A: Group with the 1995 #1 hit "Waterfalls" (TLC) — hard to remember now, but for a few years in the '90s, they were Huge. I remember seeing their TV debut on "Arsenio" and thinking "What The...?"

  • 82D: "Switched-On Bach" instrument (MOOG) — clueless once again, but a four-letter "instrument" starting with "M" can't be many things, and the "Switched-On" clue helped me get this one right.
  • 96D: Hallmark of the Philadelphia sound (HORNS) — some great acts were part of this "sound," particularly Melvin & the Blue Notes. Here's some O'Jays for you.

  • 99D: Apple software bundle that includes GarageBand (iLIFE) — well it's i-something, right? I'm a Mac owner, so this wasn't tough. 
  • 104D: "The Gondoliers" bride (TESSA) — if I knew anything at all about "The Gondoliers," this would be the time when I would tell you. 
A million thanks to everyone who made a financial contribution to this blog over the past week. It means more to me than I can say.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Larry I in L.A. 12:47 AM  

    My first crack at 86A was TIS, which I knew was the last word of Angela's Ashes, and it seemed plausible that Frank McCourt (the deceased author, not the carpetbagger that most in Los Angeles only wish were dead) could have been paying homage to James Joyce. According to the crack research team at (not invoked until after the puzzle was completed), Joyce made Finnegans Wake a never-ending story of sorts by using the end of the last sentence of the book's final page as the first sentence/fragment at the start of the book...or maybe he moved the beginning of the opening sentence to the last page...or

    NARRATOR (off camera): Larry, or what was left of him, was discovered by his family a few minutes later, his head having apparently exploded.

    jae 12:57 AM  

    Cute theme and a solid medium Sun.  for me.

    A potential Natick at CORONACH/THE but highly inferable.

    Nice clues for ANALOG and CHEEP.  

    Tried PLIE for ballet bit.  My backup was JETE.

    Good puzzle!

    Noam D. Elkies 1:12 AM  

    Neat puzzle idea, and a remarkably wide-open Sunday grid, which presumably explains the occasional solving 43D:HEADACHE like 52D:CORONACH.

    I know "cave 4D:CANEM" (as in "caveat [emptor]" + "canine"), but the clue is still tough for a Sunday puzzle because there's no indication of either the language or the meaning of the phrase. [xwordinfo shows two precedents, a 2003 Sunday by David J Kahn that added "(warning)" to the clue, and a 2000 Saturday by Bob Klahn with the even trickier clue "Cave follower".] 98D:VOLAR is new to me (and also to, and evidently unrelated with VOLARE (it would have been much easier if clued as the Spanish word for "to fly").

    As for 64D:TATU, if even Rex pans this kind of p*p-music clue then you know it stinx. Even worse that TATU was entirely gratuitous, even though it crosses two theme entries and the nice 81A:UNCLE_SAM: just change 69A:AIDA to AINU (and thus 60D:NADA to NANA), and the tabu TATU becomes the inoffensive TUTU, QEF.

    And now from a Snow White-themed puzzle to the no-longer-white snow on the roads back home... :-(

    pk 1:28 AM  

    Cave Canem. Hmm. Good to know. May have to have it put on a front door mat with a pic of the BDD (Big Black Dog). The one who lives here, but is nothing to beware of.

    I know I am going to feel like a complete idiot when someone explains this, but I did not understand 89A Gives a dam = sews??

    Deb 1:29 AM  

    Attention Rexites! If you don't want to suffer the same fate as Larry, do not read the last several lines of Finnegan's Wake. I'll copy and paste here as much as I think one can read without one's head exploding:

    "End here. Us then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thousendsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a long the"

    It apparently took Joyce 17 years to write the novel. He clearly had gone mad by the end of them.

    My only sticking point in this puzzle was COROvACH. I finally had to go through the alphabet to come up with NICE. I don't tend to be terribly diplomatic, but I don't think I'm not nice. Terribly.

    Deb 1:31 AM  

    pk - "Darn" as in darning one's socks. My mother actually had a darning egg, but I don't ever recall seeing her use it. I wonder if there's any single person who reads this blog who has.

    r.alphbunker 2:11 AM  

    Given the number of neologisms in Finnegan's Wake the last word could have been anything. The H was a reasonable guess for the Scottish word because of loch.

    Post-googling revealed that a Hippocampus hippocampus is a short snouted seahorse. A long snouted seahorse is a Hippocampus guttulatus. That's the long and short of it.

    pk 2:12 AM  

    @Deb - Thank you so much! Gives a darn - how cute is that? I am familiar with a darning egg, and may have actually seen one, but have certainly never used one. Okay, I don't feel so stupid, but only because Deb was so kind.

    chefwen 2:40 AM  

    The constructors first name has the first four letters of my last name and his last name has the first five letters of my maiden name so I was pretty sure we would be in the same wheelhouse, and we were to begin with but after two back to back pizza parties and a week of entertaining (with another to follow) I was dragging my ASS toward the finish line.

    So proud of myself when I plopped in Mr. Peanut at 81A, not even close, but I think I like my answer better. Andrea, work on it.

    Grandma had a darning egg but the part that she mended always had a big lumpy feel to it, thanks anyway Gram, but I'll just buy new ones.

    Very cute puzzle, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER and NIGHT WATCHMAN were my favs.

    Rube 4:10 AM  

    Was cruising along smoothly until the SW & NW went blank. The SW finally gave when I surrendered ums for "Sounds of hesitation" and put in ERS. Had to laugh at the SEAHORSE as I too was thinking part of brain... that's hypocampus, of course. The NW got painful until I finally accepted GOTH MUSICIAN as an answer... whatever.

    @PK, I've taken to questioning every word that has "rm" in it as it so often looks like "m". FYI, my mother used a light bulb for a darning egg. As I remember, it made the socks last maybe 2 wearings/washings more, at best... bless her dear departed Scottish soul.

    Anybody else think of "Squeaky" "Frome" at 10D? Yes, I know it's Fromme, but that's what I thought of at first. Wait, Fromm is the last name of our constructor. Do you think, maybe...??? No, no way!!

    Never seen Stagecoach???? Why that's unAmerican. Get thee to a NetFlix ASAP.

    Then, I agree entirely re TATU.

    Then again, this engineer finds it hard to believe that an English PhD professor and xword genius didn't know the circuitry of Finnegan's Wake. I didn't know for sure that the last word was THE, but given T__, from the gimme Tolkiens ENTS, I filled in the rest with utmost confidence.

    Then again, again, the Philly sound and iLife are totally out of my ken... but gettable.

    @Chefwen, your MrPeanut brought my scotch out my nose. As it turns out, being tall, I was "Mr Peanut" for a part time job when in High school.

    Being a good Scot, CORONACH is my WOTD.

    @Rex, you're welcome.

    DL 4:11 AM  

    I, too, with great aplomb, plopped MRPEANUT down. "Oh, how cute!" thought I. But, no.

    This puzzle filled in very easily for me, which is not what I can say for the majority of Sunday puzzles. It has a certain filling flow that works quite nicely.

    However, VILLAGEIDIOT is definitely whinge-worthy, but not nearly as much as ALAKAZAM. Although the latter does have a nice consonant-vowel makeup.

    Les Kerr 4:31 AM  

    Don't feel badly if you were thinking of the brain when you saw "hippocampus". The brain part gets its name from the fact that in cross section it looks like a seahorse. I know that fact because seahorse in Esperanto is hipokampo.

    Glimmerglass 8:19 AM  

    My mother had and used a darning egg. My wife, an excellent seamstress, refuses to darn socks. Very sensible of her. Cave canem is a Latin joke. I also correctly guessed the Natick H in THE. Partly because it sounds Scots and partly because Finnegan's Wake is the most inaccessible book I've ever [tried to] read. However, @Jae, it is anything but highly inferable (you must have been waxing ironic there).

    Anonymous 8:22 AM  

    htg 1 down. and ent which i never can remember perhaps because i never read tokien altho my brother was a big fan when we were young. otherwise smooth sailing altho i felt the same as rex about algebra teacher and village idiot not being careers and thought it would really put rex off. liked goth musician. favorite was dds for bridge makers degree.

    Rudy Shankar 8:48 AM  

    Never mind I typed for 23a the famous TV sitcom people ROMANOs instead of the Russian Royal house; missed completely 62a Place for a flame; somehow got EELORS to fit for TALONS in 79a and never recovered from the tail spin. The puzzle i thought was going to be a drag with the theme around Snow White and was sure that I would trip. But as I gathered that was not the problem.

    Small nit: clue for 6d seemed to aim towards the Brits in us if ADV is meant ADs in Americanese. But if I am completely off base and ADV means something else, please help!

    Fun puzzle--or is that sweet pain? when you know you messed up royally as did the ROMANOVs.

    JenCT 9:02 AM  

    @Rube: I took it to mean ADVerb.

    joho 9:06 AM  

    Light and frothy Sunday with the added cartoony image of the seven dwarfs. NICE.


    Mini-story: ILLGO, IMHIT, IQUIT, DANG!

    Thanks, Adam Fromm!

    JenCT 9:08 AM  

    TATU came out of some deep recess in my mind...

    Hand up for MR.PEANUT.

    THE BARD and EVIL in the same puzzle...

    Had Last ROUND before Last RITES.

    Liked ANALOG for Having hands, maybe.

    It needs to be fed frequently: my first thought was sourdough starter!, but I like METER.

    Thought the puzzle was really fun.

    dk 9:25 AM  

    @deb, I have both the egg and the needle. As a teen I developed a theory that sock makers reinforced toes one year and heels the next to ensure a steady market. I shared this with my grandmother who promptly taught me how to darn. I have used this skill to repair tents, sals and suture wounds. The wound suturing does not include the egg: FYI

    Cute theme. I wanted Dopey to be a DEA Agent.

    Entirely too big. I want a small sundae (chortle)!

    *** (3 stars)

    There was in the eighties a great NY restaurant called Cave Canem. As I recall I first had Kamut there.

    Noam's elephant was very flirtatious but no so successful. As she saddled up to a young bull at the bar she whispered "since distance equals velocity x time, let's let velocity and time approach infinity, because I want to go all the way with you." His reply "Your approach is so obtuse it defies real and complex analysis."

    18a 9:30 AM  


    When in the chronicle of wasted time
    I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
    And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
    In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
    Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,
    Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
    I see their antique pen would have express'd
    Even such a beauty as you master now.
    So all their praises are but prophecies
    Of this our time, all you prefiguring;
    And, for they look'd but with divining eyes,
    They had not skill enough your worth to sing:
    For we, which now behold these present days,
    Had eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.

    Donkos 9:35 AM  

    @rudy adv is short for adverb.

    jackj 9:55 AM  

    It looked like this one might be a cream puff when I confidently entered SUGGS for one down, the gymnast, Kerri, certain that was her name and, thus, (I thought), a gimme. When the other entries in the upper left fought back, I moved on to complete the puzzle, clockwise, and when arriving back at Ms. Suggs, I was forced to eat a little crow and let STRUG fill in from the crosses.

    But, voila!, (or ALAKAZAM, as they say), because what then appeared was the best answer of the puzzle, Happy’s future job as a GOTHMUSICIAN, of all things. That is great fun and inspired cluing by Adam Fromm.

    The rest of the theme entries were perfectly acceptable and delightedly contra to their characters but didn’t quite have the zing of Happy’s unfortunate employment. What did further elevate the puzzle though was a nice edginess to the fill such as GOVIRAL and the SEAHORSE cluing; “Cave” CANEM (beware of the dog), Gauguin’s cynical comment on ART and a bit of military jargon, as ground units were STRAFED, with at least one person crying out for help with, IMHIT.

    This is only Adam Fromm’s third puzzle for the Times, the others coming in March of 2010 and June of 2008. Perhaps he’ll grasp that we like his work and want him to visit more often.

    Anonymous 10:01 AM  

    I have and have used one. Quite handy!

    retired_chemist 10:04 AM  

    And here I thought I would have the one and only MR PEANUT @ 81A. Thought the 89A clue was "Gives a dam?" and not "Gives a darn." Was going to ask those who sew WTF but now I don't need to.

    A really fun Sunday. Did NOT feel like too much same old same old, with a fun theme, CORONACH, PAELLA, THE BARD (né WILLIAM), ROMANOV instead of some Western royal family, SEAHORSE (who knew?), the anatomic inference from WALNUTS over BIGGIES, and MORE.

    We had the MINIM, clued similarly, on Dec. 31.

    My personal favorite writeover: PLAGUE => PLAQUE (109A). Didn't even look at the def. When I did, I had to laugh. Reminded me instantly of the University students' habit of giving the annual teaching award to the Assistant Professor whose tenure year is the following year and who doesn't make it.

    Mr. Fromm, thank you.

    captcha - sucktual. Oughta be a real word.

    Matthew G. 10:04 AM  

    This has been a banner week for me--personal best on Friday, second-best time on Saturday, personal best again on Sunday. Not sure why, but bring on the ACPT!

    This puzzle was exactly what a Sunday should be -- quick and jocular. I agree with jackj -- more from Adam Fromm would definitely be welcome, especially on Sunday, a day I often skip lately because it tends to be a dull slog.

    Anonymous 10:09 AM  

    Can someone explain CHEEP?

    Nancy in PA 10:09 AM  

    I have my grandmother's darning egg and remember my mother using it. I've been known to darn my own handknit socks because of the time and effort involved in making them, but store-bought ones? They go in the trash with the first hole.
    My one and only memory of TLC was seeing them accept an award (Grammy, I guess) and hearing the host (Steve Martin?) quip after they left the stage: "Now I know that TLC stands for Too Little Clothing."
    Am I the only one who thought Finnegan's Wake ended with Yes I said yes I will Yes?

    A Dummy 10:10 AM  

    Now, if there were an eighth theme entry, "Bad occupation for the Evil Queen" with and answer of "Fruit Peddler", the puzzle would have been epic.

    Does a position of Village Idiot in a medium sized village pay well? I'm highly qualified, can feign an epileptic siezure on command and willing to relocate. I can be reached at

    Leopold Bloom 10:12 AM  

    @Nancy in PA. Yes.

    R. McGeddon 10:13 AM  

    By the way, RIP Etta James.

    One of the great voices of her time and one of the great gifts to crossword construction

    Helpful Guy 10:32 AM  

    @Twangstger - Little baby birds are pretty much the only ones who would say "give me the worm", and they would say it by saying CHEEP.

    For future reference, putting in the clue # would likely speed up the response to your questions.

    captcha: hearders - those who have heard things.

    skua76 10:34 AM  

    Darn! I sewed some holey socks not long ago and thought it would be much easier with my mother's darning egg. Never thought about using a light bulb. Don't think a compact fluorescent would work though.

    Great puzzle, what Rex said! My guess on Joyce's last word was ToE...dang.

    Z 10:35 AM  

    Hand up for Mr. Peanut. Then a part of my brain spent energy trying to remember the name for the Monopoly character. UNCLE SAM just doesn't seem very "classic" to me.

    @DK - I was also thinking along the lines of narcotics agent.

    The AROD clue is a stretch. Joltin' Joe is a "longtime Yankee nickname." The Babe, The Iron Horse, even "Whitey" Ford. AROD barely qualifies as a nickname, the player is barely accepted as a Yankee, and certainly isn't "longtime" yet.

    Kerri STRUG spent some time in a Federal grant office. I know this because upon discovering this fact my grant-writing partner insisted on calling and asking unnecessary questions. Wasting a government employee's time because she was an Olympic star is not the worst thing I've ever done, but I still find it embarrassing.

    Anonymous 10:42 AM  

    Helpful Guy--
    Thanks -- After mulling it for a while, I figured it out 30 seconds after I made my post. I was overthinking it ... for some reason I assumed it had to to with tequila, and when I googled cheep work tequila nothing came up.

    chefbea 11:01 AM  

    Fun puzzle. Good old Waldorf salad..yummm.

    I knew 18A would stop by!!

    Have seen the darning egg, even sold them when I worked in a fabric store but have never used one

    archaeoprof 11:06 AM  

    Every one of the theme answers made me smile.

    And I needed that this morning, after my state of SC embarrassed itself again yesterday.

    Thanks, Adam Fromm. You saved my weekend!

    GILL I. 11:15 AM  

    I'm with @Matthew G. Using his words "quick and jocular" defines this fun Sunday puzzle for me.
    Several words I've not seen in a puzzle ALAKAZAM, COROCH, VOLAR, BIGGIES.
    I use to read all of the Conan the Barbarian books back in the late 70's while riding BART into work. I have no idea why I liked these books so much since anything coming close to "he-man, romantic novel" made me sound like a VILLAGE IDIOT.
    Speaking of, I thought Finnegan's Wake was the most idiotic allegory - from start to finish - that I ever (had to) read. Give me Lewis Carroll any day.
    49er's - you're on my mind......

    Badir 11:23 AM  

    I agree with many that the CORONACH/THE crossing was unfair: Most people don't know either answer, so you have to guess. My first thought was H, but I thought THE would be ridiculous. Of course, it is _Finnegan's_Wake_, which already is ridiculous. So I went with the E, since I liked the ACe ending. You shouldn't have to play mind games like thinking, "They always have weird clues for 'the', so it must be correct." :(

    jberg 11:43 AM  

    My mother had a darning egg, taught me to use it as a boy, and gave one to my son, who liked using it as well. However, it's not like riding a bicycle - I couldn't darn a sock for the life of me, so I have to resort to damning them when they go bad (but then they're holy so that doesn't work).

    Nice to see the tribute to EVIL Doug in there. But who is FLORA LARRANGER?

    For some reason, thinking of Romanoff, I put down ROMANOv at 23A, and never noticed the error. Did they ever intermarry with the royalty of Norway? That would have given us a very useful Olaf/v Romanoff/v for puzzles.

    Shamik 11:46 AM  

    Tried to watch the TATU video. The mullets frightened me.

    My captcha is:

    mothfqk: I won't even go there.

    CoolPapaD 11:48 AM  

    As you pull a crossword answer from the depths of your mind, you should all know that your hippocampi (pl of hippocampus) were responsible. This part of your brain is intimately involved with memory. Interestingly, it is also one of the most vulnerable structures areas of the brain, and responsible for a great many seizure disorders. Removal of the hippocampus and surrounding structures can often cure (or vastly improve) certain cases of epilepsy.

    Did not know STRAFED/I LIFE. I had a V instead of F. I also had TOE as the last word of Finnegan's Wake.

    Shouldn't Finnegan's Wake have an apostrophe? I've not read it, but it seems as though it should!

    Loved the puzzle, and couldn't stop thinking about the Brady Bunch episode where they did Snow White in their back yard!

    Wyonative 11:59 AM  

    My mother was a seamstress by avocation and sewed all my clothes. She taught me to darn, which I did religiously for the first decade or so of marriage. I used a light bulb since I didn't own a darning egg. There was something quite soothing about darning a sock.

    First time poster; long time reader of the blog. Enjoyed the puzzle today, especially since I always get stuck naming all of the dwarfs.

    Mel Ott 12:11 PM  

    Yeah, my mom had a darning egg. She used it until I was maybe 7-8 years old, but kept it for years thereafter. Wonder if my sister still has it? I remember the spot of the repair being really uncomfortable. Out, out darned spot! Sorry.

    mac 12:16 PM  

    Fresh and fun Sunday puzzle, not a slog at all. Steady solve with the only hold-ups a long stare at coronach/the and making the mistake of putting in "flower arranger". The headache cleared that up.

    Volar was new to me, and I'm still wondering about the 20A O-ration or oration. Help?

    I draw the line at socks, but a favorite sweater with holes in the elbows can be sort of fun to darn.

    Shamik 12:18 PM  

    Happy Birthday, Mac!

    chefbea 12:27 PM  

    Happy birthday Mac from me too!!!

    JenCT 12:30 PM  

    @mac: ORATION, as in public speaking.

    ' 12:38 PM  

    See original cover.

    Joyce removed the apostrophe in the title of his novel in order to suggest an active process in which a multiplicity of "Finnegans", that is, all members of humanity, fall and then wake and arise.

    mac 12:40 PM  

    Thank you!!

    CoolPapaD 12:45 PM  

    Oh - I've always thought Wake was referring to his wake (as in funeral, etc...). My bad!

    William Wallace 12:52 PM  

    Actually, the most common funeral song in Scotland is "One hundred bottles of beer on the wall".

    Larry I in L.A. 1:12 PM  

    @jberg: Thanks for the laugh re: your damned holy socks.

    The next time JILLION or ZILLION makes it into the puzzle, perhaps the clue could be: "Estimated number of James Joyce's sins against grammar"

    quilter1 2:34 PM  

    @jberg: very funny.

    Yep, had Mr. Peanut first. and also FLOwerArranger. Really wanted lap dancer for 110A, but I'm in an impish mood. We've had STRAFE a couple of time recently, I think.

    I, too, used a light bulb as a darning egg, but today I wouldn't darn a sock unless, like @Nancy in PA, I had knit them myself.

    David 2:50 PM  

    Got a little cute up top and threw in JANICE for MONICA, which slowed me up a bot, though I did still finish in my 2nd sub-20 minute time ever (around 18 1/2 mins). Fun theme, 7 answers were very easy to get from a few crosses, but most provided a decent reaction.

    Was gonna go with CORONACO/TOE but fortunately saw some kind of connection with the CH sound and the language, and there was something so "clever" about THE being a last word vs. TOE that I threw it in as a guess.

    Stan 2:58 PM  

    The demand for symmetry with seven theme answers must have been challenging: two 12s, two 13s, two 14s, and a 19 across the center handles this well. No wonder some of the incidental fill was a little uneven in terms of difficulty.

    I guess 'forensic' doesn't just mean CSI?

    Happy birthday, @mac!

    Even lip-synched on Soul Train, "Back Stabbers" is an awesome song.

    retired_chemist 3:13 PM  

    I echo the happy birthdays to @mac - a real asset to this blog.

    Tita 3:53 PM  

    @dk & @Mel Ott- love your darn stories...
    And dk - your post made me realize the real cleverness of that clue...
    To the constructors out there - do you latch on to things like that on purpose? That darn might be read as dam? Clever...

    @Z - 100% agree with your Nickname rant - perfectly put.

    Happy Birthday mac!

    Lewis 4:42 PM  

    Somehow CAVECANEM popped up in my brain. Where did that come from? Not knowing my art, I had BATS for 19D and it took me a long time to see GOTH. For 67D I had ORATE, and having filled in ORATION earlier, I was thinking, "How did Will let this go in?" Finally figured it out.

    Excellent writeup, Rex, with your usual wit and humor. Did you get your 10 hours sleep the previous night?

    chefwen 6:03 PM  

    @mac - Joining the chorus of Happy Birthday wishers.

    Sparky 6:42 PM  

    Happy birthday MAC.

    DNF: holes in center and NE. Hand up for MRPEANUT, MOOG fixed it. @Chefbea apple before WALNUT. @NancyinPA: Yes is last word of Ulysses.

    @jberg, MelOtt, skua76--who would expect the darning egg to hatch so much humor? Laughing my socks off.

    My Grandmother used one, Mother, not so much. I tried with mild success. Still have two in my tin Schrafft's Chocolate sewing box.

    Sparky 7:50 PM  

    Thanks @Gill I P. I tried the sign in on the tail end of yesterday and it worked.

    Anonymous 9:38 PM  

    Very tough, but enjoyed the theme answers.

    Cave canem is taught in Latin 101 as an example of imperative.

    Had flower arranger and changed to floral to get chronicle.

    sewall 9:34 AM  

    The brain part is named hippocampus because the guy who named it thought it looked like a seahorse.

    Anonymous 4:13 PM  

    Mike---- what the heck is a goth musician?

    nurturing 6:59 PM  

    Another "yes" to the darning egg... :)

    mac 10:31 PM  

    Now I want a darning egg, too!

    Anonymous 12:52 PM  

    This was the kind of puzzle I particularly enjoy -- because of the word play, e.g., 30 d soap and 55 across having hands= analog.

    Goth was beyond my ken so my NW corner was difficult.

    Dirigonzo 12:49 PM  

    From the syndicate, both hands way up for mr peanut wearing the top hat, and I didn't even try to guess the last letter of the Scottish Funeral song/last word mash up (although the cross is somewhat ironic, I think).

    EVIL Doug gets his very own shout out at 106d and doesn't even come here to acknowledge it? How ingratious - ACME would never do that.

    Anonymous 1:25 PM  

    Spacecraft here. I vividly remember the incredible courage of Kerry STRUG as she managed to stick her vault landing on a broken foot. I thought then that I'd never forget that name, and it served me well today.
    It was a good kickoff to a very enjoyable puzzle. Cutesy theme, not uite perfect as RP noted, but fine overall--and this grid contains my all-time favorite Q-cross:

    "You mean all I get for being employee of the month is this lousy PLAQUE? I QUIT!"

    psyming: poetry on the analyst's couch.

    BRofLCWA 11:06 PM  

    We get the puzzle the following week, so I can't imagine anyone will every get to this point. But, I must say it anyway and waste a few electrons: "Village Idiot" was and is a good choice. Even a great choice. I thought of the Monty Python skit about Village Idiots. Hilarious. Every Village had one and as I recall they had a union. Clearly, they needed an employment agency.

    SharonAK 1:47 AM  

    Loved your Village Idiot comment.
    Did not love the puzzle as much as everyone else. Somehow the answers didn't sing for me and some of it was very tough or I was being very DOPEY

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