Locale of St. Catherine's Monastery / SUN 1-29-12 / River to Korea Bay / Sheiks garments / Simpsons character with platform shoes / George nicknamed Mr Basketball / Mythical figure blinded by Oenopion / Leucippus Deocritus philosophically / Gold rush town of 1899

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Networking Event" — familiar phrases wherein the first word is also a TV network; "?"-clues imagine that the phrases are network-related

Word of the Day: HONE (101A: You might rub a knife across it) —
  1. A fine-grained whetstone for giving a keen edge to a cutting tool.
  2. A tool with a rotating abrasive tip for enlarging holes to precise dimensions.
• • •

Found the cluing on this oddly hard. Clues were *just* out of my familiarity zone. I've never used [Savvies] or GROKS, for instance. I've been entranced, but never HEXED. I know HONE as a verb, but not a noun. I know ALBS, but not ABAS (64D: Sheiks' garments). I have no idea what trio a LAMPPOST could possibly be part of (79D: One of a secretive trio). I didn't not know ION was a TV network *or* that ION EXCHANGE was a thing. I did not know that beads of any kind came from CORALS. I spelled PAYTON thusly. Etc. I actually had an error up top because the clue for SINAI was utterly meaningless to me, devoid of anything SINAI-ish at all, and so when I ended up with SENAI (because of BEER instead of BIER at 5D: Drink served with Brezeln), I didn't even question it (18A: Locale of St. Catherine's Monastery, said to be the world's oldest working monastery). If the clue is fantastically esoteric, it must be because it's trying to justify the importance of some strange geographic location I've never heard of, I reasoned. Quality-wise, everything in this puzzle seems just fine. 

Theme answers:
  • 22A: Fancy footwear at a TV station? (SPIKE HEELS)
  • 24A: Advertising department at a TV station? (E-MARKETING)
  • 36A: Slide show at a TV station? (ENCORE PRESENTATION)
  • 56A: Q&A at a TV station? (ION EXCHANGE)
  • 72A: Expert at a TV station? (HISTORY BUFF) — this one doesn't repurpose HISTORY very well (or at all)
  • 86A: Enrollment at a TV station? (LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP)
  • 104A: Recruiters at a TV station? (FOX HUNTERS) — nothing about this said "FOX" to me. These days, with shows like "House Hunters," seemed like any three-letter word could've come before "HUNTERS"
  • 106A: Fish holder at a TV station? (OXYGEN TANK)   

  • 5A: Cowboys' home, familiarly (BIG D) — I remember the first time I saw this in a puzzle, mainly because it Naticked me (thought I was dealing with one word, and the cross was ... something, clearly)
  • 27A: ___ Levy, four-time Super Bowl coach for Buffalo (MARV) — I hear the fifth time's the charm...
  • 35A: Classic toy company whose name is its founder's middle name (LIONEL) — Toy trains. Does anyone under 40 still "play" with those? Reverend Lovejoy of "The Simpsons" is a model train enthusiast. No idea if the same can be said for DISCO STU (8D: "The Simpsons" character with platform shoes)

  • 50A: River to Korea Bay (YALU) — a river I know mainly from constructing. It's a lifeline I generally refuse to use (unless there's no alternative, obviously—so far that hasn't been an issue).
  • 82A: George nicknamed Mr. Basketball (MIKAN) — I wanted MIKUS. I think that's the last name of some of my parents' friends. Somebody and Connie? Where is this info coming from?
  • 103A: Country singer David Allan ___, writer of "Take This Job and Shove It" (COE) — parents were big POE fans, I'm guessing.
  • 109A: It's picked in the Pacific (UKE) — I took "in the Pacific" literally. 
  • 10D: Gold rush town of 1899 (NOME) — Gold, four letters, this is it.
  • 14D: Mythical figure blinded by Oenopion (ORION) — their names are disturbingly similar. I did not know ORION was "blinded." My daughter would likely laugh at my ignorance (so don't tell her, for god's sake; she's stroppy enough as it is). 

  • 49D: Leucippus and Democritus, philosophically (ATOMISTS) — "The atomists theorized that the natural world consists of two fundamental parts: indivisible atoms and empty void." (wikipedia). ADAMISTS, on the other hand, are nudists. There's an interesting Venn diagram waiting to happen.
  • 88D: Half of a title role for John Barrymore or Spencer Tracy (MR. HYDE) — took a lot of doing. You never know what "half" is going to mean in a clue like this. MATA could be half a title role, for instance. I mean, not here, obviously, but, well, you get my point. Or you don't.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Only a few weeks left to enter Patrick Blindauer's latest interconnected crossword contest, and this time it has a musical theme. Pay $9.95 via PayPal on Patrick's website and you'll get access to a PDF of crosswords; each puzzle has a final answer and those answers combine to form a meta-answer which can be sent in (before Feb. 16) for the chance to win a prize (swag includes gift cards and puzzle books). Sign up now so you have time to solve and enter!


Anonymous 12:14 AM  

Have you ever watched the History Channel? They've totally repurposed history with shows like The True Story of the Martian Invasion, so the clue, which is actually about history, doesn't relate to anything on The History Channel.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

Between you, me and the LAMPOST?

pk 12:35 AM  

There is no joy in Kosmonopolis tonight. Sunday puzzles just take too long, and in the end, usually do not result in enough satisfaction.

I put a WTF? in the margin of 35D Blanket = Lie Across. Like a blanket of snow lies across the front yard? (Which, since I live in Texas, it does not.)

Ditto for 53D Oil Producer? = Paintbrush. K, so I think the tube of paint could be an oil producer, and certainly the artist could be, but the paintbrush itself....I don't think so.

Also don't get 83D Beta Decay?

Thx @Rex for the rating - otherwise I might have given up on Sundays altogether!

Larry I in L.A. 12:43 AM  

Slooow going yet again, and between you and me and the LAMPPOST, HTG to confirm that BeER/SeNAI was my problem.

@pk re: PAINTBRUSH, "I don't much care for your water colors, but your oils are exquisite."

Because of ALPHARAY in yesterday's puzzle, BETA was a gimme today.

syndy 12:59 AM  

I can't remember where but I have heard BETWEEN YOU ME AND THE LAMPPOST.lots of gristle to work on in this one!lovely fair and tough -it doesn't get any better!

jae 1:56 AM  

For me this was just what a Sun. should be.  Not too flashy, not too hard, solid theme and fill,  and getting the theme early helps the process. Easy-med. for me and, just between you, me and the ......., I liked it.

GROK is from Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. It roughly means to deeply know or understand. There is an emotional component to GROK, so savvies is in the ball park.

CoolPapaD 2:12 AM  

Tough, not as grin-inducing as some, but certainly above average in difficulty and groan-induction.

Thanks to anon et al. for the LAMPPOST explanations.

BAGEL? Really? Where do they say this?

What is a LEANER??

An OXYGEN TANK does not hold fish. It holds oxygen. Anyone?

Having SIP for NIP made 104A the last one to fall - took forever to see the error there.

chefwen 2:18 AM  

I rarely look at the heading and unlike @jae it took me a stooopid long time to get the theme. That's pretty embarrassing for me as I am T.V. junkie (too much alone time). Anyway, when it finally slapped me upside the head I was able to finish in a fairly decent time.

Ian Livengood is one of my favorites and I was pretty excited to see his name up top, unfortunately, this one left me mildly disappointed. Not too disappointed Ian, keep them coming.

Love 98A OH SNAP, must find more opportunities to say that.

chefwen 2:23 AM  

@CoolPapaD - A leaner, I am guessing is a horseshoe that you throw and it hits the pin, leaning on it instead of circling it, worth 1 point. Someone correct me if I am wrong, I've never played horseshoes but I have heard that term.

mytk56 2:24 AM  

I hear sportscasters say "put up a bagel" meaning shut out. A leaner is a horseshoe that leans on the stake. Is there any other kind of tuba besides a bass tuba? Aren't all tubas bass insturments? In any case, never heard of it. Beta decay, I think, refers to some type of subatomic activity...

jae 2:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
GILL I. 2:56 AM  

Well, this puzzle bored me to tears. I normally like Ian Livengood a lot but I couldn't find The Love...I don't usually pay that much attention to T.V. unless "Shameless" is on. I'm addicted to that show although it should be called DEPRAVED.
Anyway, even if I'm not familiar with the theme's objective, I will still plug away and hope to learn something fascinating... this puzzle just didn't hit the target.
I did learn though that BAGEL (16D) is a zero in slang and that MOATED (31A) is perhaps the most moronic word ever invented.

retired_chemist 7:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 7:29 AM  

BETA decay in that sort of radioactivity in which a beta particle (an electron) is emitted.

ION EXCHANGE is how your water softener works if you have to buy salt for it.

MY problem was that I DO NOT pay attention to all these odd-sounding channel names. Non-puzzle wife records stuff, I watch some of it with her, and there are news and sports programs. I figured I could put the phrases in using as many crosses as necessary, and that pretty much worked. So it was not until 104A FOX HUNTERS that I understood the theme.

@ CoolPapaD: OXYGEN TANK - the fish tank at the OXYGEN TV studio.

You need to be a seriously superannuated sports (basketball) fan to remember George MIKAN. I qualify. He was a Laker, but not a LA Laker. He retired well before the Lakers moved from Minneapolis. You have to be superannuated to remember that too.

Thought "Green Eggs and Ham" to no avail before recalling that EMUS have green eggs. I suspect NYT crossword solvers as a group have the highest per capita knowledge of this obscure fact among those who are not actually emu farmers.

In my universe Leocritus and Democritus were ANIMISTS before they were ATOMISTS. Add THAT to your Venn diagram, Rex.

All told, this felt fresh, more challenging than the usual Sunday, and more fun. Kinda like going out for Thai instead of having pot roast and peas for Sunday dinner.

Thanks, Mr. Livengood.

retired_chemist 7:38 AM  

Umm - that was Leucippus, not Leocritus. Not that I ever heard of the real one...

Rudy Shankar 8:00 AM  

Took me forever to get the theme! For a moment thought it was E- anything (NETWORKING?) so merrily filling in 24a EMARKETING (correct) and then 36a ENDOFEPRESENTATION(incorrect) until I discovered much later that it should be ENCORExxx. Still did not get the theme. It was only after OXYGENTANK after a full 90+ minutes did I get it.. And who remembers network names these days when channel numbers run into 4 digits?

BAGEL. The earliest I remember hearing this term to describe total wipeout was when that spunky tennis player Eddie Dibbs used it to describe losing 6-0. Like Sharapova was yesterday playing Azarenka in the Australian Open. A double BAGEL is losing 6-0 6-0

mmorgan 8:02 AM  

The clues all reference a "TV station," but these are all cable networks. There's a difference...

Deb 8:08 AM  

I appreciate that constructors are always striving for a new theme, but this one bored me. Perhaps it's because I'm paying over a hundred bucks a month for something that used to be free.

Remember that?

exaudio 8:44 AM  

Fun puzzle, would have finished except for MIKAN/YOKE crossing.

AnnieD 9:18 AM  

This was just not fun for me...I had no interest in the theme and found most of it a slog. I ended with the beer miss and 2 holes as I'm probably the only person on earth who has never watched the Simpsons and don't know sports. Sena_ led me nowhere and _ _ scostu meant nothing to me.

Only fun for me was Sir Thomas Lipton....reminded me that we have a piece of the mast of one of his ships in our attic somewhere....

@chef defined leaner correctly.

archaeoprof 9:54 AM  

Wanted ROMNEY for 61A.

The Swerve 9:56 AM  

The works of Leucippus and his prize student Democritus did not survive. We only have quotes and citations by others.

ArtLvr 10:06 AM  

Good one, @ archaeoprof! I was delighted to see the Brit expression OH, SNAP too -- I can't recall hearing it in the US, anyway?

jackj 10:18 AM  

Boring, boring, boring!

It had its moments like, GROKS, SUP, CHOPCHOP, BARTAB, BAGEL, OHSNAP and the inspired cluing for LAMPPOST but, that's only 41 squares out of 441 and the rest ranged from "So?" to "Yawn" to "Huh?".

Ian's one of the promising young constructors but he seems to have strayed from the fast lane for this one.

jberg 10:22 AM  

@Gill I. P., I didn't like MOATED much either, with that clue, but it's in Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet rendezvous at the MOATED grange, whatever a grange may be (something like a MANSE?) (For the latter, I wanted 'abbeys' and so thought stocks must be bought 'by' something or other).

Really, really slow to see the theme for me, mainly because I don't have a working TV. Are there really channels called E, ION, and OXYGEN?

Other writeovers were mattEL before LIONEL, and realISTS before ATOMISTS (wanted materialists, but it didn't fit). Also CAlled before CAME BY, and meaT before LUST (expecting more deception than there was).

All in all, slow and not that much fun.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

@ArtLvr - Snaps are old-time US, primarily African American, friendly insults. "You're so stupid...", "Your mama's so ugly...", etc. A particularly good one would evoke an OH, SNAP from the recipient. This goes back decades in my experience, because decades are the extent of my experience. Only recently has it become a mainstream expression.

Lindsay 10:22 AM  

This would have been easier for the sort of person who actually owns a television set (no one calls them "sets" anymore, do they?).

Had the AniMISTS glitch, plus I took 93D Savvies to be a part-of-speech-misdirection and wrote in GuruS.

Otherwise not much to say *except* that any rower making waves will soon be relegated to the tiddlywinks team, as energy expended in stirring up water isn't moving the BOAT forward.

Smitty 10:30 AM  

Well to start with -I haven't had a TV for 3/4 of my life so never heard of most of these stations...
And it went downhill from there.
Oh Snap?
Super Nes?
Finished, but no joy...

The Bard 10:33 AM  

Macbeth > Act III, scene V

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches meeting HECATE]

First Witch: Why, how now, Hecate! you look angerly.

HECATE: Have I not reason, beldams as you are,
Saucy and overbold? How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death;
And I, the mistress of your charms,
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never call'd to bear my part,
Or show the glory of our art?
And, which is worse, all you have done
Hath been but for a wayward son,
Spiteful and wrathful, who, as others do,
Loves for his own ends, not for you.
But make amends now: get you gone,
And at the pit of Acheron
Meet me i' the morning: thither he
Will come to know his destiny:
Your vessels and your spells provide,
Your charms and every thing beside.
I am for the air; this night I'll spend
Unto a dismal and a fatal end:
Great business must be wrought ere noon:
Upon the corner of the moon
There hangs a vaporous drop profound;
I'll catch it ere it come to ground:
And that distill'd by magic sleights
Shall raise such artificial sprites
As by the strength of their illusion
Shall draw him on to his confusion:
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear
He hopes 'bove wisdom, grace and fear:
And you all know, security
Is mortals' chiefest enemy.

[Music and a song within: 'Come away, come
away,' &c]

Hark! I am call'd; my little spirit, see,
Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me.


First Witch: Come, let's make haste; she'll soon be back again.


Nakitab 10:38 AM  

Thanks for the explanation of OHSNAPS. Never heard of GROKS. Otherwise enjoyed it. The middle east was tough territory for me.

Dwelling of a yeoman 10:40 AM  

Measure For Measure > Act III, scene I

It lies much in your holding up. Haste you speedily to Angelo: if for this night he entreat you to his bed, give him promise of satisfaction. I will presently to Saint Luke's: there, at the moated grange, resides this dejected Mariana. At that place call upon me; and dispatch with Angelo, that it may be quickly.

ISABELLA: I thank you for this comfort. Fare you well, good father.

chefbea 10:50 AM  

Hands up for never having heard of grock. I kept looking for ABC,NBC,CBS,MTV etc then realized the theme at encore and history.

My son-in-law has his mother's original set of Lionel trains that we saw circle around the Christmas tree this year. He is always looking for old original cars.

Tita 10:54 AM  

Dull theme for me, since most of those channels I know only from deleting them from my Favorites list. Not much of a TV watcher.
@Deb - right on!!

Savvies - from the French, Savoir? as in Vous savez? You know?

Between you, me, and the LAMPPOST, one of my favorite clues ever...
And liked HECATE & HEXED together.

@CoolPapa - I had OXYGENmAsK, so was equally quizzical...(mOP, as in mop the floor with someone, and just a dumb typo at IRONON.)

@Lindsay - hand up re: making waves. Wakes, maybe - waves, no...

Favorite thing about today's puzzle- causing Rex to make that Venn diagram remark!!

Captain Kidd 11:00 AM  

Any boat moving through water makes bow waves (assuming they are moving forward, otherwise they'd make stern waves, but that's just stupid). Nautical engineers work their collective butts of to minimize the bow waves, but they always exist.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Grok, not grock. As in "I grok it to the fullest." Robert Heinline.

Good puzzle. I've never heard bagel for zero. Nada, zilch, bupkis, but never bagel.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Rex _ Have you ever wondered hoe the LA Lakers ever got their name? Likely not, I'd bet. Well, they got their name when they were the Minneapolis Lakers. Minnesota is the land of 1,000 lakes. When they played in Minneapolis their star was a tall center named George Mikan, who was also a star at DePaul in Chicago. Later the team moved to LA. That was a gimmie for me but when I filled it in I thought there would be a ton of solvers who never heard of him....


Anonymous 11:15 AM  

I am glad to see so many of you not using TV. We have never owned a set and never will. So the answers came from inference and from crosses. Didn't understand the theme till you all explained it here.

Matthew G. 11:19 AM  

I don't think of OH SNAP as a British expression at all. It's an extremely common expression among Americans under 30.

Thanks for all who explained the LAMPPOST trio. I've never heard that expression before.

Never heard of the network ION, so it was the exact center of this puzzle that gave me the most difficulty.

But overall, I really liked this one. The rare Sunday that takes a long time without feeling like a slog.

foodie 11:24 AM  

A big goose egg on BAGEL for me in trying to solve this one. I got the theme and hacked my way through most of it, but still DNF without help...

My lack of enthusiasm is actually confusing to me. I don't mind DNFs. And I usually applaud constructors who don't try to be too cute on Sunday, and actually wind up with phrases that make some sense. But the problem is that the theme answers were just flat-- LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP? I did like SPIKE HEELS. ION EXCHANGE is something we've done in the lab, where we also have an OXYGEN TANK, so may be too close to work. Why is a slide show an ENCORE PRESENTATION? Couldn't be a first time presentation? (I give talks on a regular basis using slides, and there is, thankfully, no ENCORE involved).

Norm 11:24 AM  

Boring. Did like the LAMPPOST, but there wasn't a lot in this one to make me smile. I would think only a bad ROWER would make waves (plural). Eh.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Did not like NES. Do not like HISTORY channel since it's acquisition by Rupert Murdoch (who I like to call Rupert Morlock).

Z 11:43 AM  

The theme answers seem generally problematic to me.

An OXYGENTANK is a thing that doesn't hold fish.
Recruiters don't hunt for foxes, well, maybe at GQ or Maxim.
I don't GROK how IONEXCHANGE is a Q&A.
Slide shows are Encores?
EMARKETING is done by websites.

I can stretch to make some of these clues work, but better cluing on the themes would make this less of a slog. The fill has more sparkle than the theme IMO.

KRMunson 11:44 AM  

Contrary to what @foodie said, I expect Sunday puzzles to be cute. Not too cute, but cute. Fun, light, generally easy, and full of puns.

My 18 year old son say "Oh, snap" a lot. It's considered a new, American, slang way of saying "you've been owned". Just like the clue said - it's a sassy response to an insult.

chefbea 11:48 AM  

Be sure to read Mark Bittman's column in the NYT Magazine...all about root veggies ie. tubers!!!

Mel Ott 11:51 AM  

Pretty good Sunday puzzle. Not too hard, but just enough pizzaz to keep my interest. OH SNAP & GROKS are totally new to me. Always enjoy learning stuff.

George MIKAN was the NBA's first great big man and really its first superstar. I remember Cousy also being called Mr. Basketball. Funny, I don't remember any of the later superstars (Wilt, Kareem, Bird, Magic, Jordan) being called Mr. basketball.

Shamik 11:56 AM  

I am so very grateful for Rex's blog. Without it, I would never have known what the theme was. And when I read it, it was like, OH, but not OHSNAP. Agreed it was medium-challenging, but only mildly enjoyable. I definitely prefer when I get the theme to get at least a wee chuckle. And not an OH.

My ex-husband had his Lionel O-gauge trains from his childhood. It was great fun at Christmas to put the little liquid smoke in the steam engine and watch it puff around the track. It was less fun to drive into Manhattan to look for pieces for it at one of those little narrow storefronts dedicated to model train enthusiasts.

Right now I have a $450 voucher for Southwest airlines who are charging $670 for a RT flight to LGA for me to get to the ACPT. I can pay another airline $358 and save the voucher for something more reasonable. Where are the days when I could get to the NY area for $280 RT?

Mel Ott 11:59 AM  

@Z: I don't think you quite got the theme.

The OXYGEN studio might have a TANK in the lobby that holds fish, so it could be called an OXYGEN TANK.

The ION network might have a panel show that involves Q & A, so it could be called an ION EXCHANGE.

Teresa in Detroit 12:05 PM  

Loved seeing grok in the puzzle - a favorite word of mine.

I had history book for history buff. That coupled with never having heard of the ION station or knowing that emu's eggs are green gave me an onni where Sunni should go and kept the center of the puzzle blank until the end. It was edifying to finally fill it in.

Couldn't figure out the cluing of lamppost, but it's cute and clever. I agree with Rex, tricky cluing today.

Anoa Bob 12:19 PM  

I don't think I savvy how to get my comment to come up. Tried this earlier and it didn't work.

I think "savvies" derives from a bastardization of the Spanish "saber", meaning "to know". The "b" and "v" sounds in Spanish are very similar, so "Quien sabe?" for "Who knows?" sounds like "key in sah vey". In the Old West, it became "savvy". The sheriff would tell the drifter to "Get out of town and don't come back. You savvy?"

Tita 12:28 PM  

btw- I learned GROK from this blog some time ago...
I had to google it the first time I saw "I grokked the theme early on..."

Loren Muse Smith 12:36 PM  

This one started out extremely difficult for me. That I plunked in "midori" (Ito) instead of CRISTI messed me up for a long time.

I watch TV only once a day - Top Chef reruns while I work out. I'm not much of a cook, and my obsession with this show is borderline creepy.

Loved LAMPOST (was trying to remember the Three Musketeers' names) IMOFF, and PEEKED.

Overall - eh.

Larry I in L.A. 12:51 PM  

Forgot this anecdote when I posted last night...

Relatively early in our marriage (c.1985), my wife and I played Scrabble with her sci-fi BUFF brother. (Glad SyFy didn't make it into the puzz--real science fiction is being methodically squeezed out by campy monsters, wrestling and paranormal hooey.) Anyway, during the game Georg played GROK. AGHAST, Conny and I challenged this LOONY word, pulled out the dictionary and made Georg take it back.

The next Christmas, our gift from my bro-in-law was a new Webster's with a bookmark at the page proving that GROK had changed into a real word.

Conny and I have also read/watched a lot of great science fiction since then.

Z 12:58 PM  

@Mel Ott- [sound of hand slapping head]

jae 1:11 PM  

@Z & foodie -- What Mel Ott said also applies to ENCORE which is the name of a cable movie channel (actually a series of channels). So a slide show by that channel would be an ENCOREPRESENTATION.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Loved the tough cluing, the wide ranging subject areas, and some of the snappy answers. Had a lot of write-overs but managed to solve the bier/sinai problem. Cool that there's an old monastery there. Courto

Montreal Joe 1:39 PM  

I don't feel too bad about the ones I missed since I don't know most of the TV stations referenced. The real head-slapper for me was GROKS, because I put in GEEKS taking Savvies as the plural, not the 3rd s. verb. now I grok!
I work in a high school - the young people often say "oh snap!" or just "snap!".

Cheerio 2:19 PM  

I enjoyed this.

An Isreali friend once told me a story about a moment of high school glory he had involving St. Catharine's monastery. Well, actually he had dropped out of high school (from boredom) and was backpacking with a friend across the Sinai. He and his friend hiked up to St. Catherine's and arrived over a bluff just as his former high school classmates were all clambering geekily out of school buses on a field trip to the monestary.

Rube 2:27 PM  

I was down to the last theme answer, FOXHUNTERS when the theme finally hit me. I kept thinking that these clues and answers are just not related. Then when I realized the theme, went back and reread all the clues and answers, and thought, brilliant, Ian.

Actually, got a lot of joy out of some of the fill also like CHAIRLIFT, TOOTHPASTE and LAMPPOST. Put down Syria before SINAI, changing BeER into BIER at the same time, guessing that Brezeln was German... yep, that's German for pretzel... didn't know that.

Wanted ATOMISTS at first, then thought that was too obscure so changed it to AthEISTS... another segment for the Venn diagram!

I too remember GROKS being used here in the past. Couldn't remember whether it was Heinlein or Herbert, but certainly remembered the term.

Great puzzle. Took a bit too long, but had to do something while rebuilding the wife's C-drive. She clicked on an e-mail from FedEx and opened the zip file! All yesterday and into this morning have been a nightmare. I know none of you would do such a foolish thing... just a reminder, don't.

Greg Charles 2:29 PM  

A fun puzzle I thought. Clues for things like lamp post, LSD, and yoke were tricky, but gettable ... Just tough enough to make me feel smart. I'm a fan of Joshua Lionel Cowen too, so that helped.

foodie 2:55 PM  

@jae, thanks... I don't think I can explain what bothered me about this one theme clue/answer... I understood the theme in general, and it helped me get SPIKE HEELS, etc. But for some reason, something felt off here. It was probably just some slippage in thinking on my part...

hazel 2:58 PM  

@tv haters - I watch TV. You don't care? i didn't think so. Likewise I don't care that you don't watch TV, and can't, for the life of me, imagine why you think it necessary to let us know - Unless of course you'd like to expand - on whether its just TV that you don't watch - or if it includes movies too - also photographs - is it all visual imagery? Do you like news? Or just listening to it? does your distate extend to any sort of narrative? ballads, and/or opera. also, please also Tell me what you like to read - for I am really good at distinguishing between what's good and what's really just a waste of time. feel free to email me and I'll let you know.

Now that I've got that off my chest, I wasn't a big fan of this puzzle - although I usually adore a McLovin puzzle. Agree with almost everyone that LAMPPOST was well-clued.

@ Deb, my mom still gets TV for free. She has an antenna which she is very proud of. She also doesn't own a microwave (further pride) and her primary telephone is a rotary dial (which is maddening to use!).

archaeoprof 3:01 PM  

@Cheerio: that's the best way to arrive at St Catherine's, by climbing down from the top of Mt Sinai. Spectacular view!

On display at the monastery are the bones of every monk ever assigned there. Row after row of skulls on shelves...

PS: took me a long time to catch on to the theme today.

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

George Mikan looked like a very tall Clark Kent of Superman fame. His spectacles made him also look like a college professor. The first BIG man in pro basketball who was not very mobile, but he controlled the paint.

Poor Marv Levy coached the Buffalo Bills in 4 Super Bowls and came up short every time. Jim Kelly the QB has to carry that dubious honor also.

Thanks for the fill in on On snap and groks. New ones to me

mmorgan 3:12 PM  

When Google Chrome crashes, it says "AW, SNAP!" and shows a very unhappy computer face. They even sell T-Shirts with the face and phrase. (Sometimes it says, "He's dead, Jim.")

My mother (91) also gets TV over the air, and refuses to get cable, even though she has to fiddle forever with the antenna. She needed some help with this one.

edmcan 3:33 PM  

This was just such a boring puzzle that when it got too tough for me, I didn't even try to finish it. Bleh. The obtuse cluing didn't help either, although I did get most of those.

ArtLvr 3:49 PM  

For those unhappy with the History Channel's content, and have cable, I'd recommend the American History channel (577 on the Time-Warner line-up in the Albany NY area). I just watched an hour there about the brutal British removals of French settlers from Canada, and the Seven Years War culminating in the surrender of Fort William Henry on Lake George. The French made the mistake of not rewarding their Native American allies for their pivotal part in the victory, and this led to some 20 tribes' withdrawal of support for the French!

Jocelyn 3:58 PM  

Rex: "Stroppy"? Half the on-line slang dictionaries I just googled don't even list the word. When you say your daughter is "stroppy", what are you trying to say? Anyone else out there ever use this word? I hope it never shows up in a puzzle! (or has it?)

jackj 5:10 PM  


strop·py (strp)
adj. strop·pi·er, strop·pi·est Chiefly British

Easily offended or annoyed; ill-tempered or belligerent.

[Perhaps alteration of obstreperous.]

retired_chemist 5:14 PM  

I bet Kiwis also use the word and that provided Rex the connection to it. Sandy?

Kathy 5:25 PM  

Can someone explain the answer to 81 across? I have no idea what Super Nes means. Thank you.

chefwen 5:39 PM  

@hazel - BRAVA! Well said, couldn't agree with you more.

Bryab 5:45 PM  

@kathy - super nes is the standard abbreviation for Super Nintendo Entertainment System

mac 5:59 PM  

Just realized, after reading the Bard's post, that I have a mistake: Herate/Roe. I guess I was thinking erato/Hera. No, I wasn't thinking.

I got the theme fairly quickly, with Encore presentation, but was really handicapped by my lack of knowledge of cable stations. Got it almost, but it was a job. Loved some of the clues and answers, such as chop chop, wrest and nary.

We have a large drawer full of Maerklin toy trains for our son, but we moved so often that we never set up a real track table for him.....

I wonder if the commentersliving without tv are also having trouble with the sports clues? Sooooo happy I can watch Downton Abbey tonight!

Stroppy: fun word!

DigitalDan 6:03 PM  


The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was the successor to the original Nintendo video game system.

General comment:

I like 'em all. That goes for NYT puzzles and the various forms of audio and visual media available to select from in the world.

Irish Miss 6:31 PM  

Found this puzzle very difficult, even after figuring out the theme. Some very clever cluing but some foreign (to me, anyway) answers: groks, nes, bagel. I finished but it was a slog, not much fun.

Kathy 6:46 PM  

@DigitalDan and Bryab - Thanks! I am glad I asked, because I never would have figured that out myself.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

the anonymous commentator who discussed George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers cannot be a Minnesotan --- There are not 1000, but 10000 lakes, all thoroughly frozen ver right noe, I expect

i found the theme excessively stupid today --- aren 't they cable networks, not stations? Once solved, which was possible with crosses, they still were pretty dull and unnteresting

Theoda3rd 7:11 PM  

I with Hazel. R u a better person for not watching tv? Perhaps you would be a better solver if u did.

Sparky 7:14 PM  

DNF. Small voids here and there: gOOfY not LOONY, didn't know GRokS, that sort of thing. Also felt the cluing sort of vague or not in my mindset. Remembered BREAM from recent puzzle. Just didn't make me sit up.

Right on @Deb and Vita. So much $$ for repeats that jump from channel to channel, one little squib of film repeated over and over again in *true crime* show. Cheap junk. The weather Channel doing stories and skipping the weather. Yet I am glued to the screen. Husband watching Steven Segal movie. He's fortunate it ends before Downton Abbey or the Banshee would fly at him.

@chefbea thought of you when I read the Bittman. Glad you saw it.

There's always tomorrow.

JenCT 8:14 PM  

DNF, but that's because I quit! Didn't like this - sorry, Ian.

Was watching the Pro Bowl, but it's boring too.

I happen to really like the History Channel...

Rube 8:16 PM  

Finally this came back to me just now. Who among us oldies remembers Piet Hein, the Dane who, back in the 60's wrote books full of Grooks, (not to be confused with GROKS). I believe they are classified as aphorisms. Some examples:

"Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back"

"The road to wisdom? - Well, it's plain
and simple to express:
and err
and err again
but less
and less
and less"

I could go on, but Rex might pull my license. For those with inquiring minds, Google him.

Anonymous 8:58 PM  

Glad I gave up on this. How many crossword solvers know all those TV channels?

Anonymous 9:27 PM  

Very difficult. Knew bagel after watching Aussie Open slaughter of Shriek-apova. Also live in NYC area, birthplace of commentator Patrick McEnroe.

Husband got lamppost; enjoyed it after he shared it.

PaulK 10:14 PM  

Super NES?

Anonymous 11:35 PM  

I don't watch TV, I don't even own one. You know why I mention that? Because the theme is about TV channels. Which I have no need to know about, because I don't watch TV.

Deb 12:07 AM  

@Hazel - re your mom's rotary dial phone, I just read an article yesterday about young people faced with old technology. The way they typically dialed a rotary phone was to always dial from the zero to the number they wanted.

Personally, I miss old telephones. Not the rotary aspect, but the earpieces were much more comfortable, especially on lengthy calls.

Sarah @ Baby Bilingual 2:31 AM  

I've been watching past seasons of Saturday Night Live (thanks to "watch instantly" from Netflix), and just today, in a Weekend Update segment from 2004, Tina Fey said "Oh snap!" after Jimmy Fallon made a particularly cutting comment.

Favorite fictional character's use of "savvy": Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. I remember reading that when developing his appealingly louche character, Johnny Depp added lots of touches, including the tag "Savvy?" to mean "Do you get what I mean?", even though it was anachronistic.

(I heart Johnny Depp, btw.)

Second favorite fictional use of "savvy": Ingrid Law's 2007 (?) Newbery-nominated young adult novel, Savvy, about a girl figuring out her place in the world now that her savvy (special power) has manifested itself. Highly recommended, along with the companion book, Scumble.

hazel 5:20 AM  

Oyez oyez. Let it be known that there is an anonymous person who does not watch tv or even own one. And has not heard of the TV channels.
Oyez oyez.

OHSNAP, Anon! You didnt really need to know channel names to solve this puzzle, though it iwas likely helpful in saving a few minutes. the puzzle must have been a complete mystery to you before coming here where you presumably learned about this crass theme. Did you get any of the "words" through crosses? Do such crazy words exist elsewhere in your life without TV? SPIKE, FOX, ENCORE,

To me, the phrases all make Sunday (wacky) sense in the context in which they were clued.....plus those "crosses" can be pretty helpful too!

Oyez oyez insomnia makes me cranky!! !

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

@Hazel - My comment was directed at the fact that, for once, the phrase "I don't have a TV" was relevant to the discussion of the puzzle, and wasn't necessarily an implicit statement that "I am better than you". I don't think anyone used the phrase "I don't have a TV" outside the relevance that had to the puzzle.

hazel 10:56 AM  

Gotcha, @anon. I suppose Iwas a little over the top with my comment. sorry for that. it does seem like we see "i don't have a tv" alot here - regardless of the context of the puzzle (although I guess there is a TV show or pop star generally being complained about). in fact when I latched on to the theme, my first rxn (after the briefest of AHAs )- was dread at how much I would actually be seeing it today!!

In my 3-d life, when people tell me they don't have a TV - there usually is a whiff of superiority. its kind of like when people ask what kind of dogs I have, and I reply that they're rescues, I feel a bit smug. i'm going to stop doing that now.

Thanks for yr response - While criticizing others' behavior, I've resolved to change my own!

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

To Rube @ 2:27 PM. I am computer-
hopeless. What is a zip- ?
If I know, I'll be sure not to open one.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

"savvies" is more likely of French origin -- "savez-vous?" means "do you know?". My dad was in France during WWII and it was one of his favorite expressions.

Also, Kiwis definitely use "stroppy" -- it refers to sassy, difficult kids, like mine!

connie in seattle 4:20 PM  

Here's how my NW corner started:
I put in "eins" for 17A;, "sesame" for 1D; "Lipton" for 2D; and "Univac" for 3D. That gave me "SpikeHeels" (funny - crossing the platform shoe-wearing DiscoStu). That left me with _sk for 4D, so I put in Tsk. Hmmm... that gave me "Slut" for 1 across -
clue: "swivel on an axis" - poledancer? I left it with a chuckle, as racier things have been showing up lately in the NYT puzzles. Only when I saw "Tsk, Tsk" at 83A did I realize it couldn't be there twice, so fixed it. Good for a laugh, anyway.

Del Mar Grandma 8:00 PM  

I like my rotary phones. Didn't like having to get one of those push button things that mean when you try to call someplace you get snared in a phone tree. Remember when a phone call actually reached a live person?

Am I the only one toI find a similarity between the Piet Hein musings posted by Rube and the Burma Shave signs that brightened many a highway mile. My favorite "Twinkle, twinkle, one eyed car, how we wonder where you are?"

Looking back is fun!

gueppe barre 9:29 PM  


LEANER in horseshoes - good for one point in the the traditional scoring.

gueppe barre 9:34 PM  

Leans on the stake but isn't "on."

JenCT 10:01 PM  


Delia Downing 10:21 PM  

As a Canadian solver, the referenced networks were a mystery to me, with the exception of Fox and History. A very disappointing Sunday.

Old Man Rivers 11:09 PM  

As usual, I'm a week late - but I am also old. Also,I get the puzzle in our local paper. If I remember "Grok" correctly, it meant"I'm one with the universe! I dig it, man! I feel your pain!" USV. Strange word, strange story, strange that it should reappear last week. And stranger still in a strange land.

Spacecraft 1:04 AM  

@Del Mar Grandma: No, you are not the only one who remembers the Burma-shave signs. Two of my faves:
His face
was loved
by just
his mother;
he Burma-Shaved
and now
oh, brother!


has sprung,
the grass
has riz
where last year's
driver is.

And now to today's slogfest, made so by triple-twisted cluing and some HUH?!? answers. Super NES?? OHSNAP?? Those would be the HUH?!?s. Somebody is gonna have to 'splain those to me, because so far they don't even present a tangential relationship to common sense to me.
SHADER?? I don't know whether to call that "word" INANE or AWFUL. I must admit I did not know there were different timbres of tuba, so I thought BASSTUBA was a redundancy. Then there were clues like "crate" for HEAP. Good grief, first you have to fish the clue out as a slang word for old car, among all the other meanings it might have, then pick another slang word for old car. That's stretchier than my wife's 15-year-old pantyhose.
Finished, but with several Googles. Will, you're trying too hard to maintain Saturday difficulty in the Sunday puzzle.

fishole: where they got the BREAM for the OXYGENTANK?

Rube 1:06 AM  

@anon - (Computer Hopeless)
The last 3 or so letters following the . (dot) in a file name are called the extension. A zip file has the extension "zip", as in "filename.zip". BVe extrememly leary about opening this kind of file.

Actually, you should not open attachments from anyone with whom you are not familiar and trust. Most antivirus programs can intercept a virus in an e-mail message, but many cannot detect a virus in an attachment.

Sorry, Rex, but I felt that C-H should get this advice.

Anonymous 1:12 AM  

From syndication land... It was timely to see St. Catherine's in the puzzle after the news this weekend of two American women kidnapped in the Sinai after visiting the monastery. I've not commented before, but am a faithful reader. Thank you. Thank you.

Dirigonzo 2:05 PM  

A day late even by syndicate standards (and chronically a dollar short, but that has nothing to so with the puzzle). At 71d, "Ready!" follower, my mind immediately went to "Set! - Go!" to start a race, not "AIM! - Fire!" to start a what, firing squad I guess? I like my answer better.

It's always fun to watch a food fight break out between tv watchers and tv shunners, but knowledge of tv (cable) networks was essential to understanding the theme.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such excellent info being shared freely out there.
Sorel Women's Cate The Great Boot

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

I am not a TV watcher, but neither am I a shunner. I agree, though, there are many people who do say it in that inverse snobbery manner. I hope I am not coming across that way! I was hopeless with the network clues--only Fox registered at the time, although after reading all the helpful comments ahead of me, I realized I *should* have recognized Encore & History! Surprised Rex had never heard the phrase "Between you, me and the lamppost". I thought it was tough and stumbled over many of the same things already mentioned--wanted Super "man"; never heard of "Acte" and I thought "groks" was simply "awful". I enjoyed it, though, as I always do and also enjoyed reading all the comments ahead of me.

ali 7:07 AM  

good choice


Clay 4:41 AM  

Of course I heard of it between you and me and the lamppost, but I never connected that to this clue until I read these comments. I thought the puzzle was OK, although the connection to the theme was very thin

Prune 4:02 PM  

The theme simply left me flat. We have a phrase in art critique: a piece has to pass the "so what?" test -- did the piece evoke anything in the viewer other than the sheer mechanics of constructing the piece.

This failed.

We finished the puzzle, but didn't get joy of it.

BAGEL, LAMPPOST, SIDECAR, B'NAI, SEDER, OH SNAP, all presume a certain intimacy with a particular flavor of city life. I realize that this *is* the NYT puzzle, but much of the inherent culture tends to exclude those of us living elsewhere.

Grok is Heinlein's term, from "Stranger in a Strange Land". I have yet to see a crossword that gives a competent clue.
This raises another complaint I have with perhaps two puzzles a week: when the Times accepts a clue that is not only local slang, but *incorrect* elsewhere, it detracts from the puzzle for the rest of us.

Similarly, I have yet to find any person, or any small group, who can give me a meaningful definition of OH SNAP, except as a generic interjection. "Retort" doesn't match it's third-party usage, and neither matches the current usage here on the Left Coast.

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