Catchphrase of announcer Harry Caray / WED 4-25-12 / Football club that plays at San Siro / Baggy pants popularizer in 1980s / Bygone sports org for which Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura was TV analyst / Locale in 1964 Stan Getz hit

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: SEVEN Cs (61A: Punny title for this puzzle that's a hint to the answers to the starred clues) — DESCRIPTION

Word of the Day: COLETTE (68A: "Gigi" novelist) —
Colette (pronounced: [kɔ.lɛt]) was the surname of the French novelist and performer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette(28 January 1873 – 3 August 1954). She is best known for her novel Gigi, upon which Lerner and Loewe based the stage and film musical comedies of the same title. (wikipedia)
• • •

OK, I'm gonna tell you why this theme doesn't quite work. Don't freak out, OK? OK.

The revealer is SEVEN CS. This is true about no aspect of this puzzle. There are more than 7 Cs in the grid. The perfect puzzle would've had Just Seven. But, let's give some leeway and say "look, you know what it means ... it's referring to the *theme*." Well, OK. It's just that ... there are more than 7 Cs in the theme answers too. See RC COLAS and DC COMICS. That takes you to 10 Cs, by my count, and I might have missed one—I'm really not paying that close attention. "But ... come on, you're nitpicking. You knooooow what SEVEN CS is getting at — it's those "C"s in the second position, the ones that you actually pronounce as "SEA"—those!" At that point, I guess, I would say, "you got me." I can't argue with that. I can say, however, that the (at least) three different answers beginning "AC" that are *not* theme answers are a distraction, esp. as two of them are Acrosses exactly the same length as other theme answers. "Can't you just let things go!?" Clearly, I can't. I actually enjoyed parts of this puzzle. I made a whole puzzle about MC HAMMER a couple weeks back for his 50th birthday. It is always enjoyable to remember MC HAMMER. FACE OF EVIL (32D: Villainy personified) was hard and a little off-the-beaten path, but once I got it, I kind of liked it. DACTYL (also hard) (45D: "Innocent," but not "guilty") was cleverly clued. AC MILAN brought a nice Euroflair. I didn't know "CUBS WIN!" was a "catchphrase" (sounds more like a simple declaration of fact) (1A: Catchphrase of announcer harry Caray), but I love it at 1-Across. But the theme has issues. And if, as So Many Insist, the theme is everything, then the theme oughta be air tight. Fill here is decent. Sadly, I finished up in the very worst part of the grid (the ATLAS / LUNES / ANENT part) (35A: Space launch vehicle / 36D: Crescent shapes / 37D: Regarding), so I was left with a bad taste in my mouth, but looking back, I think the state of the fill is not bad overall.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Football club that plays at San Siro (AC MILAN)
  • 18A: *First soft drinks sold in cans (RC COLAS)
  • 19A: *Green Lantern company (DC COMICS)
  • 33A: *He said "Start every day off with a smile and get it over with (W.C. FIELDS)
  • 43A: *Big clothing retailer (JC PENNEY)
  • 56A: *Baggy pants popularizer in the 1980s (MC HAMMER)
  • 59A: *The Wolfpack, informally (N.C. STATE)
  • 8A: Early French settler (ACADIAN) — or A.C. ADIAN, I'm not sure. I always think of ACADIA as a mythical place.
  • 15A: Locale in a 1964 Stan Getz hit (IPANEMA) — Off the "IP" it was easy. I don't think I associate the song with Getz, though that is, in fact, who made it famous. I was thinking Herb Alpert for some reason.
  • 31A: Bygone sports org. for which Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura was a TV analyst (XFL) — Had the "X," so ... easy. I miss that (insane) league. Mainly I miss He Hate Me.
  • 56D: Figure in a crèche (MARY) — really, really thought this would be a French word. The whole RESTYLE / DACTYL / MARY nexus gave me (small) fits.
  • 48D: "Jane Eyre" locale (MANOR) — I wrote in MOORS. I think I confused it with "Wuthering Heights." I can't be the first.

So earlier today I was having a busy, cruddy day—too many encounters with too many pathetic, dishonest, or otherwise insufferable people (both in real life and online)—but once work was over, I had yoga (always good), and then, right after, I had "An Evening With Neil DeGrasse Tyson" awaiting me (and my family) at the university. So: yay. Only ... when I got to the Tyson talk, as I'm waiting in line to get in, a young woman from the BU Student Association pulls me aside and says "so... they were expecting you backstage." I just stared at her. Then said: "What? WHAT?" Now, I should back up a bit here: a friend of mine (you may have heard of her ... xword constructor ... initials ACM) is friends with Dr. Tyson and I knew she had asked him about any possibility of my daughter being able to meet him during his visit here ... but that was weeks and weeks ago and I never heard anything definitive back, so I figured it was a no-go. So to hear that I was expected (!) and missed it (!!!!) was exceedingly deflating. How was I expected, but no one told me!? So, I felt slightly sick. But then the young woman said, she'd go back and ask if maybe we could still get back and see him; this is about 20 min. before start time. So we're like "cool!" But then she Never comes back, so we figure she's forgotten about us, or it just wasn't possible, or whatever. THEN, right before start time, she comes up to us and says "I'll take you to see him after the talk. I know where you're sitting. I'll come get you." So we're like "Yay, game back on!" (keep in mind there is an 11-yr-old Tyson fan next to me clutching her copy of Dr. Tyson's "The Pluto Files" this whole time). Then the talk (brilliant, 2.25 hrs) ends, and ... the young woman never comes back. Place empties out and we're just ... standing there. We wander out ... nothing. Just people milling, buying books, etc. Then it's announced that there won't be a signing. So—hopes dashed. We linger a while, but no sign of my Student Association contact. So we start to exit the building by the back way, and there are three kids lingering in a hallway, and I'm half wondering what they're doing just standing there, and then I can hear what sounds like a small party on the other side of a nearby door, and I recognize Tyson's voice very clearly among all the other voices. As I approach the door, the kids all say "the door's locked." Aargh. So close ... yet so far. So I'm thinking about maybe knocking, but then I see that my wife has moved down an adjacent hallway and is standing in front of an *open* door and motioning me over. I come over and bam, there he is, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, surrounded by Adoring students who are handing him all manner of things to sign. (He did not, however, want to sign a blank piece of paper this one kid gave him: "A blank piece of paper? I can't ... this is just too sad ... do you guys have a leftover program or something ... I mean, a blank piece of paper!? We gotta do better than this." I said "Maybe you can sign his boob," but I don't think anyone heard). When we first come in the room, one official-looking Student Assoc. person looks at me like he's wondering "who the hell are you?" but then I see the young lady from earlier, as well as a former student of mine, and I'm in. And, more importantly, my daughter is in.

I have never seen her starstruck before, but she literally lost her ability to speak and answer questions like a human being. It was pretty adorable. He was gracious and generous and warm to everyone, and he signed my daughter's book with an elaborate drawing and dedication. I told him I was ACM's friend and he said "oh, *you're* the guy we've been expecting." Yes. Yes I am. And I was *that* close to missing the experience entirely. So thanks ACM. And Dr. Tyson, of course.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. if you have time / inclination, you really should check out the epic thread about "bad fill" at Tyler Hinman's blog (with contributions by many constructors and bloggers, as well as a certain xword editor whose name you may know). Very interesting debate, though kind of insidery. Maybe you can bring some perspective.


foodie 12:45 AM  

Wow, wow, Rex, what a fantastic story about the book signing!!! Beautifully told! And Andrea, so cool that you had made the contact, it means so much to a young person to meet an idol! Fantastic!!!!

--Stealing andrea's Exclamation Points for the occasion!!!

Rex Parker 12:48 AM  


Now she just has to meet you and her future as superscientist will be all but guaranteed!


foodie 12:52 AM  

Ok, now about that puzzle! I thought it was enjoyable, but I totally take your point, Rex re the tightness of the theme. While it may be too tough to construct a whole puzzle without additional C's, the theme answers per se should ONLY contain 7 C's. Probably hard to manage.

Is AC MILAN as famous as, say, RC COLAS? It took quite a lot of crosses for me to get it .

PS. I know what you mean about cruddy days with people who can be insufferable. So many agendas that have nothing to do with the matter at hand... It makes me sad sometimes. But something lovely like this happens, a child (who has fantastic taste in authors) is thrilled, and life is worth living!

retired_chemist 12:54 AM  

Nice story about Neil DeGrasse Tyson et al., Rex.

The puzzle - easy but slow here. Took me a while to catch on to the theme. In fact I was filling in 66A, with most (maybe all) of the theme answers already in place when I got it. Did not find the theme irksome, but I solved it like a themeless.

Chance for another theme answer: clue for 40A could be "How many cooling units you have." But that would have made it eight Cs and thus require a redo of the SE.

LOVED the clue for DACTYL. Liked most of the fill = no complaints about any.

Thanks, Mr. Wentz.

Mike 12:56 AM  

Thought it was fairly easy but got hung up on a couple. ACE for 40D Crackerjack?? What? Had RECOUNT for ACCOUNT on the cross and it held me up forever. As a diehard Cubs fan I immediately wrote in HOLYCOW in 1A and had to rethink after no crosses worked. On a sadder note, I don't think we'll be hearing CUBSWIN too often this year (thought two walk-offs in a row vs STL is about as good as it comes)

foodie 12:58 AM  

Rex, you make me blush! But you know she has an open invitation, not only because she's your daughter, but because I have a soft spot in my heart for smart girls (and boys) who are curious and love to learn about the world! She may even transform it! I bet Neil DeGrasse Tyson feels exactly the same way.

jae 1:11 AM  

Delightful Wed. Easy-med. for me.  Not much zip but a cute/clever theme and reveal clue.  The extra Cs did really bug me.

Me too for MOORS and I was looking for cars at 6d.  Might have mixed up my G's and As.

Haven't seen ANENT in a while.

Well told story Rex, nice to finish the day with a smile.

JaxInL.A. 1:28 AM  

Awwww!!! That picture is adorable. What a story. Our local PBS station re-ran the NOVA series that Dr.Tyson hosted and my husband has been raving about it. As a black man and a closet astro-physics buff, it had special appeal to him.

I have hopes that better science teaching at her new school next year will fan the embers of my daughter's interest. We really do not value good science teachers enough in the U.S.

That discussion of Xword fill is indeed pretty interesting Thanks for recommending it.

I liked AC MILAN because I pulled it from that secret place in my memory that houses trivia, and anytime something pops up from there, it feels like magic. I gotta agree, though, that the non-theme answers that also had C in the second position detracted from the overall success of the grid.

Tobias Duncan 1:55 AM  

As a HUGE Acme fan and a HUGE Tyson fan, tonight's story had me on the edge of my seat.Rex, I am glad someone in your family is sciency.

The puzzle however filled my heart full of hate. I had a bunch of really mean stuff to say about sports but the Tyson story melted my heart and I forgot my anger.

Anonymous 2:27 AM  

Before Harry Caray went to Chicago, he was announcer for the STL Cards, and his tag was "HOLY COW!!". First
thing I put in. Did he not use that phrase with the Cubs?

andrea carla michaels nee eisenberg 2:35 AM  

My gosh, where to start? Her smile says it all!!! So glad it worked out.
Neil is a classmate from college, we go back 30 some years and it's been fantastic watching him change lives, inspire and demote planets! ( i helped him name that book she was clutching so it all comes full circle!)

That story had me on tenterhooks. i HAD reminded him yesterday and had written to you guys to make sure you flagged him down, but he warned me he is on a tight leash there but would look for her. i didn't want to build hopes too high in case it didn't happen, but I'm sorry if that resulted in confusion that it wasn't gonna happen at all!
Anyway, thrilled that she got to hear him at all and that he made a little fuss! (I remember what it was like to meet my idol...and the impact it had on MY eventual career choice!)
Anyway, glad my "insufferable name-dropping" (to quote one nonfan!) finally paid off for someone!
Ok, puzzle...

ACMichaels 2:51 AM  

I thought HOLYCOW too! Which is cool because it's the same initials as Harry Carey.
I loved this puzzle's theme, but I'm in TOTAL agreement about the theme revealer!!!! Totally wrong!!! Either leave it out, the theme is cute enough without...or have the reveal be MIDDLEC or something.

But fun fun fun (except the sports stuff was hard for me ACMILAN, NCSTATE, CUBSWIN, XFL but all gettable)

Anyway, i liked it lots...but the reveal was all sorts of wrong, as @rex explained, somewhat defensively...but i think he's dead on.
And I said MIDDLEC, eg, is same number of letters.
And I also concur ACADIAN and ACCOUNT threw off an otherwise cool puzzle.
ACtually, still a great puzzle but fatally flawed, if that's possible.

Some great great words tho COCCYX, NASTY, OLEARYS, DACTYL ( whatever that is) and a Beatles partial MEDO. Yes, Love Love ME DO!

JD 3:52 AM  

I think ELTON for 'John of London' is a little sloppy. He's not originally from there (he was born in Pinner in Middlesex) and his main home is in Windsor.

Anonymous 4:58 AM  

Harry Caray's catchphrase was holy cow!!! Not Cubs win! Wtf!?!

There's a lot not to like about this puzzle. The theme is nice and all but yeah if your theme is seven C's then there better only be 7 C's in the puzzle.

But I guess any puzzle with AC Milan in it is good enough for me. They're my fav Serie A team.

Gareth Bain 6:33 AM  

Neil Tyson rings as much of a bell as Sherman Alexi did the first time he was mentioned on the blog, which is to say I've never heard of either! But ACMILAN I definitely do know! All this goes to show: if Mr. Tyson were in a puzzle I'd be scratching my pip. For any name you either have ore haven't heard of it and just because you haven't doesn't mean that it isn't legitimately famous, I've made that mistake before!

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

Phil Rizzuto also used the catchphrase Holy Cow while announcing for the Yankees and allegedly became irked if anyone said that he got it from Caray. I would not call Cubs Win a catchphrase.

About the theme: There are exactly seven Cs in the puzzle that are initials for something. All of them are in the second box of the answer, but that is beside the point. So the theme is Seven Cs That Are Initials, which works perfectly well.

Z 7:26 AM  

As I read Rex's critique it occurred to me that changing 59A to NCWYETH would be a great improvement. ThenmMaybe we could even find a spot for NATICK, MA.

I was too busy being annoyed at all the obscurities to be annoyed by the theme:
PASEO and COROLLA (aren't they both former models?)
AERO-magnetic (huh?)

This felt more like a trivia quiz than a crossword, today. Toss in the misclue at 1A (HOLY COW is the catchphrase) and it left me less than happy.

Rex's story, on the other hand, is great.

r.alphbunker 7:48 AM  

@Anonymous 7:09AM
Well put. It was a fine puzzle.

But it is possible to quibble about anything as our host so often demonstrates. Here are a couple that he missed:

1. In the theme answers the initial C is in the second square instead of the initial one.

2. The revealer is plural but only two of the theme answers are.

3. The theme answers are not distributed in the same way as the seven seas are on the globe.

GILL I. 8:00 AM  

What a great story @Rex and especially since it has a happy ending. Your daughter's picture says it all.
The puzzle: There was a lot that I liked and yet there was a lot I didn't know.
I didn't even notice the amount of "C" reveals because I was bouncing all over the place trying to get a toe-hold. Right off the bat...I never heard of Harry Caray. Didn't know ACMILAN and I'll be damned if I couldn't remember how to spell JCPENNEY. I know I was alive in the 80's and back in the day I bought a couple of balloon or parachute pants but who's this MCHAMMER pants dude?
Liked seeing COCCYX and DACTYL - neither of which I knew how to spell and forgot who wrote "Gigi."
Tough workout and I cried UNCLE about 7 times before I could finally finish.

JenCT 8:05 AM  

Liked the puzzle; got hung up on JC PENNEY (!)

Especially liked MUTT.

PEWEES are adorable birds, named for their song: Eastern Wood Pewee

Great story, Rex.

joho 8:06 AM  

I was confused while doing the puzzle because I got RCCOLAS and DCCOMICS and thought a "double C" theme was in store. Then ACCOUNT came next and was one word, not AC COUNT and more confusion ensued until the reveal, SEVENCS, which totally lost me!

The hardest part for me was the NW which fell last. Was able to get the unknown ACMILAN through crosses. Would have liked holycow better than CUBSWIN.

I actually liked it in the end but more as a themeless.

@Rex, wonderful story and the picture of your beaming daughter says it all!

David 8:08 AM  

The above comments on Harry Caray are correct. His "catchphrase", whether broadcasting the Cardinals, A's, White Sox or Cubs, was "Holy Cow!" Conveniently seven letters, as is "Cubs Win!", that threw me off of my game and led to an embarrassingly long solve.

ERS 8:11 AM  

Z is right on. This puzzle was a test in inane trivia. Harry Caray's catchphrase was holy cow; using cubs win was a ploy by a seemingly desperate constructor. This was a very unenjoyable puzzle, and in my opinion right up there with one of the year's worst. My displeasure could also be related to the fact that I solved this puzzle while watching the tigers lose to the lowly mariners. Scherzer without any control, just like this puzzle.

Loren Muse Smith 8:12 AM  

Great picture, Rex! What a fun story. I’m so glad it worked out for you and your daughter.

After getting the fill-in-the-blanks and other low-hanging fruit –NC STATE, WC FIELDS, and RC COLAS (off COCCYX – loved, loved seeing that in a puzzle), I immediately started looking for MC HAMMER, not even knowing the theme yet.

“Rests” for FASTS, ETa, and thinking the quotation mark in front of COLETTE was a star and hence a theme answer, all had me scratching my head.

I needed the second “love” to get ME DO. MARY and LUNES were reversed; like Rex, I wanted MARY to be a French word, and I put in “moons,” not expecting a French word.

I liked that 1A and 1D began with a C, and as far as the theme is concerned, I see both sides. It would have been really cool to have only seven C’s in the puzzle, but there are only seven C initials, so I’ll buy it.

jberg 8:13 AM  

@r_alphbunker Brilliant!

The real trouble with CUBS WIN as a catch phrase is that he didn't get to say it very often, since they usually lost.

I got stuck in this one because for some reason I couldn't get EENY from the _ENY-- possibly because I think it should be EENie. Anyway, I finally decided that the word of choice must be dENY, which made me question XFL. I was also expecting 26D, John of London, to be a synonym for WC. Finally had to look up XFL, after which everything came right - but that was cheating, of course.

Great story, Rex!

@Z, see @Gareth Bain's comment a bit earlier - ERASMUS, who founded humanism and gave his name to the European system of university course equivalency, is definitely famous.

John V 8:17 AM  

Hand up for being thrown off by ACADIAN and ACCOUNT. Didn't get the Cs pronounced as seas until I came here.

Played hard for me because, I think, of the shortness of the theme answers, so it was hard to get a toe hold. Alas, in the end, I felt like I worked hard but had little joy to show for it.

Please explain DTACYL for 45D. Got it but don't understand.

@Rex, thanks for sharing the Neil DeGrasse Tyson story, a thing of beauty in so many ways. There is absolutly nothing more magical for a parent than seeing the world come alive in one's child. Dr. Tyson genius is his ability to evoke that child-like sense of wonder in all, adult and child alike. One of the world's great people --right up there with ACM :)

David 8:32 AM  

A number of folks have already weighed in on Harry Caray and CUBS WIN vs. Holy Cow, but as a Cubs fanatic of 40 years I must weigh in.

Fortunately, I almost never fill in 1A (esp. one of 7 letters) without at least one cross, so I didn't throw in my first answer of HOLY COW right away, and was stumped for a good 20 seconds while I figured out how UPC and SNIDE could fit. It was bittersweet when I finally got it, feeling that ANY time there is an answer relating to my all-time fav team I should be able to get it right away.

I have 3 "obsessions" in life - crossword puzzles, the Grateful Dead, and the Cubs. My favorite T-shirt, which I wear all the time, is a "When Harry Met Jerry" print, with Mr. Caray and Mr Garcia smiling at the ballpark and having a good old time together. I never met Jerry, but once, hours after an extra-inning Cubs victory I witnessed at Wrigley, I drunkenly stumbled south down Clark after leaving The Piano Man (quaint bar) and saw Harry heading toward his car. My scorecard clenched in my hand, I somehow summoned the motor skills to sprint to him for an autograph - he tried to get away (can't say I blame him), but he eventually turned to me and graciously signed: "Holy Cow! Harry Caray".

And yes, as I emailed a fellow "Cub Fan Dead Man" last night, the Cubs may end up as the worst team in baseball this year, but at least we have two walk-off, come-from-behind victories over the hated Cardinals the last two evenings.....

Matthew G. 8:38 AM  

HOLY COW is most intimately associated with Yankees broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, although Harry Caray was also known to use it. Neither originated it. So says Wikipedia.

I liked everything about this puzzle except: (1) the two AC_____ entries that are non-thematic and; (2) the word ANENT, which I've never heard before. I got ANENT because of the ENE directional clue, but I just stated at it and was sure I must have gotten a crossing wrong. Was stunned when I looked at Rex's grid and saw that I _didn't_ have any errors.

dk 8:51 AM  

I try not to do this as the oft referenced ACM has schooled me on the difficulties of construction….

I would have loved this puzzle if there were seven clues or fill related to the seven seas. Alas there were none. And, as Mr. Bunker noted they are not placed on the grid as the seas are on the globe (Mercator Projection).

🌟🌟 (2 Stars) Peter next one needs to be: 42A

Rex, some advice for your daughter. Do not take Organic Chemistry in summer school in an effort to lighten your course load for the fall. English will be the third or fourth language for your instructor and walking into a classroom on a warm morning and exiting after 3 hours of lecture and 4 hours of lab…

Note: Course was taken at the other BU.

orangeblossomspecial 8:55 AM  

Rex's story was a fun read and I couldn't wait to get to the conclusion. Rex fell into the same trap as the puzzle constructor: a C in second position (aCm).

Lots of musical references today. Here are a few:

Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto & Astrud Gilberto in the '64 original "Girl from IPANEMA".

Perry Como had a 1950 hit of 11D "Hoop de DOO".

Tony Bennett's original of 34D "The best is YETTO come", although the song became a bigger hit for Frank Sinatra a few years later.

Here is 56A MCHAMMER's major hit, "Can't touch this".

Howard B 8:59 AM  

HOLY COW here too at first.
While I agree with Rex on the theme here, I have to say that this is one of those puzzles in which:
- Outside of the most dedicated solvers and other constructors, the nuances of theme will not be noticed. The overall idea of 'xC...' times 7 will be the detail remembered.
- I did not notice issues during solving, and only wondered about the overall theme afterwards.

Whether or not this is of any significance I'll leave as an exercise to the reader. I had fun solving this one, and had trouble in some spots. Seemed challenging for its day of the week.

Pete 9:05 AM  

There are a couple of things in life I know to be true.

a) When someone starts a sentence "I know I shouldn't say this, but ..." they are about to say something no one with any sense at all would say.
b) When someone starts a sentence "I'm no racist, but...." they're about to say something horribly racist, and
c) What a xword clue starts with "Punny title for ... " the clue is horrible.

jackj 9:10 AM  

CUBSWIN, not HOLYCOW?? Well, it may qualify as a Harry Caray catchphrase but of one thing we can be certain, Harry never got hoarse from saying it too often. (And, it’s nice to see that Red Sox boy wonder Theo Epstein has already squared away the Cub’s 2012 edition).

A modest theme today with answers all over the lot, making for a helter-skelter, double-jointed mishmash of seven strangers seeking a common thread beyond the lameness of an unfunny connective pun while frantically looking for something to say to each other but finally deciding, en masse, this was all just a huge pain in the COCCYX so, let’s fuhgeddaboudit!

But, watch out for that DACTYL you ACRID ACADIAN!

John V 9:13 AM  

Um, that would be DACTLY, of course.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

@Rex - You really should include the cover for "The Pluto Files" in Pop Sensation. The massive phallic imagery there would be a nice counterpoint to the standard female oriented imagery of most covers.

Bob B 9:20 AM  

The clue for 1-across should have been "Seldom used catchphrase of announcer Harry Caray"

Whacker 9:26 AM  

Out in front of Harry Caray's restaurant is a statue of a cow with a bunch of holes in it.. I'll wager he said HOLY COW many more times than CUBS WIN.. That clue and answer were simply incorrect.. Frustrating.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Monday was fun. Yesterday and today, for me very easy and not fun. Btw, I am the Mama Robin watcher from yesterday. She is sitting for long periods and I have been talking to her through the open window. I like to think that she is thereforeore comfortable when I have to pass under her. Sooo liked Rex's story much more than the puzzle. C'mon, Mr. Shortz. We subscribe from DC to get the wittiest, hardest exercises for aging brains. Really like having the paper in my hand. Please don't make me reconsider.
Btw, does anyone care to lure me toward diagramless. I haven't a clue. Wow that was bad. Anyway love love the second Sunday puzzles, except for those. Seem to have a block.
End of gripe. Just like to be more challenged every day, not just Fri and Sat.

John Nordlof 9:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 9:34 AM  

Busy day so haven't read all the writeup or the comments. Did not like the puzzle and DNF

I remember when Harry Cary announced the Cardinal games in St. Louis, he always said..."It might be, it could be, IS a home run.

John V 9:34 AM  

Okay. So I can't spell/type. Googled DACTYL (third time's a charm) and found the answer.

PanamaRed 9:49 AM  

Harry made up for the lack of Cubs wins, by repeating it three times after each Cubs vistory: "Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win!"

Tita 9:51 AM  

SO nice to see a child starstruck for a REAL star, like Dr. Tyson.
Great story. Hats off to Acme for pulling those strings, and to Tyson for making moments like that happen, one kid at a time...

Puzzle - was fine, though really hard for a Wed. Almost DNF in the NE...
Agree with the careful critiques of the theme execution.

Oh - and liked Houseguests near WELCOMEMAT.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

@John V - Or, you could have just clicked on the link provided by Rex in his writeup.

xyz 10:28 AM  

Harry Caray's "catchphrase" was HOLY COW! (Just as a FYI - in the WIKI entry HOLY COW shows up maybe 10 times CUBS WIN? doesn't break duck. I used to live blocks from Wrigley, don't sell me this rot. Sub-par, lazy puzzle.

(That was hardly the only lazyness in this puzzle)

Oh, I finished it, it's not sour grapes just an ACRID puzzle. I post merely to dismiss this lump of coal of a Wednesday.

JohnVForWhomTheObviousTakesABitLonger 10:32 AM  

@Anonymous 10:09, yep link clicking would have done it. Sure missed that one.

Four and out.

Mel Ott 10:39 AM  

I agree with all of the remarks above about HOLY COW & CUBS WIN.

C'mon, there must be others beside @John V (and me) who did not understand DACTYL.

Somehow a themed puzzle where the longest answers are not part of the theme just looks wrong to me.

Lindsay 10:44 AM  

Is Neil DeGrasse Tyson a character in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? 'Cuz I never heard of him.

Really liked the puzzle though. Goofy. In a good way.

@John V --- Years ago my mother wrote a double dactyl (verse form) for a New York Magazine competition that began "NFC-AFC/ Boomer Esiason" So that's my dactyl mnemonic: Boomer Esaison.

Lawprof 10:51 AM  

Totally clueless on DACTYL; had martyr at first until crosses finished it off. Still didn't understand. Kept seeing pterodactyls flying around. Had to google it...after finishing, so I don't think that's cheating, at least not technically. (For anyone as poetically challenged as I, a dactyl is a metrical foot consisting of one long and two short syllables, or one stressed and two unstressed syllables, e.g., "Innocent").

Cyrano 10:54 AM  

Thanks for the story Rex. Anybody who can put that awed/happy look on a child's face is aces. I'm going to go buy that book for my ten-year-old nephew right now.

And FWIW, HOLYCOW all the way.

Lindsay 10:59 AM  

Got to wondering what the XFL's He Hate Me is up to now: according to Wikipedia, he's a high school counselor(!).

chefbea 11:06 AM  

@mel ott etal I didn't understand dactyl and still don't

Karl 11:16 AM  

Love Dr. Tyson, especially when he is a guest panelist on Bill Maher's show. Immediately plopped down HOLY COW for 1-across, but it didn't take long to catch my error. Even though I completed the puzzle correctly (no Google), I had to look up dactyl, which I knew meant "finger". I learned a lot about these iambic feet I see so often in the puzzles today.

mac 11:59 AM  

Lovely story about Rex's daughter and Dr. Tyson! Inspiring.

Tough Wednesday puzzle, but a nice solve for me. Ignorance is bliss, I guess, I just used the crosses to get "Cubs win". F.C. Milan no problem, we're into watching soccer at the moment, Chelsea - Barcelona last night (strange game) and Real Madrid - Bayern Muenchen this evening.

Went through a period of reading evering by Colette, but remember her writing about her cat and young boyfriend, Cheri, best.

I did the puzzle on the train to The Hague, and wrote in Erasmus just as we were pulling into Leiden. And then dk mentioned Mercator as well! As a wedding present we were given a map of the Americas (with a lot of pretty decorations in places that weren't known yet) by him.

KRMunson 12:26 PM  

@Lawprof - Finally, a definition of DACTYL I can understand! Thank you for taking the time to explain that to those of us who are metrically-challenged.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Can someone please explain how "eeny " is a word of choice? (26A)

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

@Anon 12:55 eeny meeny miney mo

Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:03 PM  

Sounds like 31 would give it about a C+. Personally, I try not to freak out, whether he likes the puz or not; his write-up is just an opinion piece, after all.

Thought it was a fun puz. Harry would usually shout CUBSWIN several times, if an exciting victory. Poor Harry didn't get to shout like that much, tho.

thUmbsUp to daughters meeting up with their heros.

Real interesting bad fill thread discussion over there. Being a dude whose fave fill is the offbeat "DOO"-type stuff, I found the whole thing pretty surreal. My only gripe is when the doo-doo crosses each other.
Fave fill today: COCCYX, DACTYL, JAVA. Fave "bad" fill: PEWEE.

I really should be doing something else with my life 1:05 PM  

" do you guys have a leftover program or something ".

I read this as 'do you guys have a leftover pangram or something '

I guess I can't read anything with Rex & ACME as protagonists without a pangram coming to mind.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:14 PM  

I just dropped a brilliant comment, but it evidently disappeared. To sum up...
Fave fill: DOO, PEWEE (people over at the bad fill thread discussion would turn blue). Also nice: COCCYX, DACTYL, JAVA.

thUmbsUp to daughters meetin' their heros. Looks like 31 gave the puz about a C+. Don't freak me out in the least.

Bird 1:39 PM  

@Rex – Beautiful story. So happy to hear your daughter met one of her idols. Now when will foodie arrange a meeting then forget to show up;) My son wants to be a scientist and we have taken him to Hayden Planetarium and he loved it. I will not however let him watch Bill Maher’s show when Dr. Tyson is a guest panelist.

Re puzzle: I understand your nitpicking, but if you think “seven seas” then the application of the theme is solid. Especially since the theme answers were clued with asterisks. And yes it would have been better if just seven c’s in the whole grid.

I almost didn’t start this one because I thought the answer to 1A was HOLYCOW and I am a diehard Yankee fan (no disrespect to the esteemed Mr. Caray) so that phrase belongs to Scooter. So I started with 1D and was relieved. Same thoughts BTW on CUBSWIN.

Didn’t like answer for 42A. To me, APLUS, or any A, is a GPA booster. I am also tired of random compass directions (RCDs). What the heck is DACTYL?

Happy Humpday!

acme 2:41 PM  

One more Neil story:
Neil really is incredibly inspiring. When he was in SF a few months ago, he wore a hat pulled down so he wouldn't be recognized.

I gave him all sorts of shit for this, claiming it was SF, not NY, no one had a TV and only listened to NPR on the radio, and today he was old-college-friend, not "famous scientist", etc. and I assured him we could run around in peace.

Next day, he did NOT wear the hat and it was funny bec we were mobbed all day long...well, mini-mobbed one person at a time:
The bellman/artist who told him he had read everything he had written; the older grandpa thanking him for inspiring his grandkids to take up science; the photographer/iceskating rink manager who also was so tongue-tied but wanted to say how much he had influenced her; the teenaged boy (I thought was some gang member) who rushed up to say "You're the dude from the History channel!"

And Neil was gracious and funny and reached out to everyone and then casually walked into this NASA meeting where they were awaiting him to share what was up with the Kepler Mission...and to gush over how much he had helped people recognize/support the work they do.
Alittle cake and wine to celebrate the 100th day of the launch,
then an hour later addressing 2000+ folks in San Jose, including a young boy in the balcony who was wearing a Tshirt with Neil's pic on it saying "What Would Dr Tyson Do?" He threw it down on stage, groupie- style to have Neil sign it!

It is so gratifying that he is indeed a rock(et)star, not for rhyming words or throwing a ball thru a hoop but for educating and inspiring and making Science accessible.
(I had a naming project that day to name a supposedly-eco-friendly-green lightbulb and Neil patiently explained to me how a lightbulb worked, where Ytterbium got its name and why it was my turn to pay for lunch)

(Kidding... he not only treated to lunch, he even donated anonymously to the soup kitchen I volunteer at and they had no idea "who" he was)

Yay, Neil and double yay (Rex's daughter's blog name)!!!

And, his real dream is to be an answer in a NYT someone pls get on that!

Masked and Anonymo5Us 2:48 PM  

Sounded like about a C+ from 31. Don't freak me out, much. Thought it was a fun puz.

thUmbsUp for daughters gettin' to meet their heros.

Wonder what the Bad Fill thread discussion would make of DOO. Seemed like poor ETUI was getting most of the heat, over there.

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

@ACME - Yeah, he sounds like a great guy, but he still chose a book cover with a giant telescope eminating from his crotch.

Tita 2:53 PM  

What, and no love for you, acme??
"Hey - you're the Queen of Mondays, aren't you...?"
At least I've got your autograph ...

That is a great story.
(Love Rock[et] star)

Unknown 3:29 PM  

Nice Wednesday.

@rex< I think you mean ARCADIA. Acadia is now Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island...The British deported most of the population all over the eastern seaboard in order to assimilate them. Most of them ended up in Louisiana. Acadians became Cajuns.


Lewis 3:37 PM  

Heart warming story, Rex, thank you!

The revealer says SEVENCS, that is, seven letter C's that sound like SEA. I think that's fair.

Miette 3:45 PM  

From Dictionary.Com:


1. 
2. a finger or toe.


1. any of a number of beings dwelling on Mount Ida and working as metalworkers and magicians.


1. -dactylous


1. a combining form meaning "finger," "toe," used in the formation of compound words: dactylomegaly.

Miette 4:07 PM  



1. Symbol 
2. a finger or toe.

1350-1400; ME < L dactylus < Gk daktylos finger, a dactyl, referring to the three joints of the finger


1. any of a number of beings dwelling on Mount Ida and working as metalworkers and magicians.

<Gk Daktyloi (Idaiol) (Idaean) craftsmen or wizards (pl. of daktylos, dactyl)

1.) Esp. with nouns: pterodactyl

1. -dactylous


1. a combining form meaning "finger," "toe," used in the formation of compound words: dactylomegaly.

<Gk, comb. form repr. daktylos
finger, toe

(For some reason, it wouldn't C&P the entire definition. So I had to manually add what was missing.)

sanfranman59 4:38 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 13:48, 11:49, 1.17, 88%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 7:29, 5:53, 1.27, 93%, Challenging

oren muse 4:48 PM  

I'm not quite up to the level of Wednesdays yet, but when I opened today's I was very excited to recognize the clue for 1A and immediately filled in HOLYCOW. I never listened to Phil Rizzuto but can still hear Harry Caray saying "holy cow" as well as singing "Take me out to the ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch.

I thought clue 1A and answer CUBSWIN was very weak.

I didn't complete but with RCCOLA/WCFIELDS/JCPENNEY I completed more than I thought I would.

Z 5:27 PM  

@jberg - threw down ERASMUS with nary a head scratch. DACTYL and AERO-magnetic were new to me, the rest I had no problem with. However, on the scales between knowledge and word play, this one weighed too heavily on the knowledge side. No crossbirds, RRNs, or Olaf/Olavs, so we've definitely have seen worse. Yet, that list I compiled is 18%of the answers, toss in IPANEMA and NCSTATE and you're over 20%, ruining the gestalt of the puzzle for me.

acme 5:28 PM  

1A is SO important! Sets the tone for the whole experience!
still loved the theme tho!
Simple yet bouncy.
but not great 1A and not-spot-on reveal.
If this were a sandwich, I'd throw out the bread, grab a knife and fork and just dig in.
Less fattening that way, too!

cubs win 6:00 PM

fergus 6:20 PM  

In Praise of Folly -- ERASMUS

A book to be read at all ages.

Anne Marie 7:11 PM  

Had to laugh about confusing Jane Eyre with Wuthering Heights, and I was an English major. Oops. Your daughter looks so dear. Great photo. Glad it all worked out. Thanks for keeping this blog so cool.

chefwen 7:33 PM  

Husband gave me 1A HOLY COW. When I told him that was not working out he just looked at me with a blank expression and said "Then the puzzle is wrong".

Not crazy about the puzzle but managed to finish.

Was crazy about your story and the photo of a beaming child Rex. Very touching.

Rod Smart - really 8:12 PM  

He Hate Me said...

I currently work as a school counselor (and volunteer football coach) at a high school in Charlotte, NC. I spent 4 seasons in the NFL, and one in Canada... I have done a bit of acting...and my hair is MUCH shorter than it was when I was in the XFL.

Sparky 8:35 PM  

Wasn't there a whole discussion on Holy Cow, Harry Caray and Phil Rizzuto a week ago? Or am I having a major deja vu?

Caught two initials fairly quickly; WCFIELDS, RCCOLA. So AhHa at 61A helped. The other ACs did give me a pause.

Great story @Rex. Had me gripping my seat and then so pleased at the end. What a happy smile.

Good friend @ACME.

foodie 10:26 PM  

@Andrea, I really like hearing that interest in science is alive and well in the good ole US of A! I think the idea of exploring the unknown and wanting to discover and do more with that knowledge are all defining traits of this country. It makes me happy to see them continue unabated-- in Rex's daughter, @Bird's son and all the wonderful kids out there who get excited as they learn. (@Bird, I would definitely show up-- though of course no star power :)

BTW, I lOVE that tie that NDT is wearing. If anyone knows where I can get one, I would be eternally grateful!

sanfranman59 10:37 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 8:17, 6:50, 1.21, 98%, Challenging (4th highest median solve time of 148 Mondays)
Tue 10:12, 8:53, 1.15, 87%, Challenging
Wed 13:58, 11:49, 1.18, 88%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:31, 3:40, 1.23, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest median solve time of 148 Mondays)
Tue 5:09, 4:35, 1.12, 85%, Challenging
Wed 7:21, 5:53, 1.25, 92%, Challenging

It seems to be Challenging week here in NYT CrossWorld.

Anonymous 11:14 PM  


Dr.Tyson just made a cameo appearance on Daily Show with Jon Stewart!
You should check it out...

nebraska doug 5:06 AM  

Neil Tyson is rapidly becoming the new Carl Sagan, the unofficial American ambassador of science for the masses. Catch him on Bill Maher and the Colbert Report. A passionate promoter of scientific thinking in the new dark ages we're living in.

rain forest 1:51 PM  

Foolishly, I put in "pewet" for the little bird (thinking that it really should be pewit), and so ended up with tasya for the GPA booster (thinking THAT was some US thing). Totally overlooked the crosswordese "easy A". Agh. I liked the puzzle, and wasn't put off by the seven C's reveal. Made sense to me. Aeromagnetic is a new term for me, but I left it in since nothing else would work.

Solving in Seattle 2:05 PM  

I thought of @Loren, the Scrabbler, when I laid down COCCYX.

@ERS/@Z, go Mariners! It seems the only team they own is Detroit.

@Rex, nice story about your daughter, although, like @Garreth Bain, I wouldn't know Mr. (Dr.?) Tyson if he bit me in the ass. Likewise, the only reason I know Sherman Alexi is because he spoke at my kids' school and I was the driver. This said from a guy who loves Jack Reacher.

Isn't CUBSWIN an oxymoron?

Caught on to the SEVENCS theme about halftime but didn't go in to the "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" analysis as did Rex and the RTers. (Kinda sounds like a fifties Motown group. "Next up on American Bandstand are Rex and the RTers!)

Couldn't spell JCPENNEY, never heard of LUNES or ANENT, and just believed in my crosses. ACCADIAN popped out of my head, which probably means I'm spending too much time doing CWs. Learned another new word, totally on crosses, DACTYL.

W.C. Fields: "Who put grapefruit juice in my grapefruit juice?" and my favorite: " the wilds of Afghanistan, I lost my corkscrew, and we were forced to live on nothing but food and water for days."

Capcha: odereff descendants. My smelly kids?

DMGrandma 3:07 PM  

Agree this puzzle was all over the place, but gettable once I replaced FETID with ACRID. Ended up thinking I had an error because ACMILAN didn't, and still doesn't make sense to me. On the other hand, maybe it helped that I had no idea who Harry Carry was-thought he was a movie star-so waited for 1A to fill itself! and, I guess I'm the only one who thought the 7 C answers were fun
Have a good real Memorial Day!

Z 3:21 PM  

@SiS - Synchronicity with the RT folk today. I guess you'll have to wait five weeks to find out how.

Solving in Seattle 3:42 PM  

@Z, quit screwing with my mind.

Dirigonzo 3:54 PM  

@DMGrandma, I thought the theme answers were fun, too - although I didn't really notice them until I read the reveal clue and went back to circle the starred clues and saw what was up. And yes, May 30 is real Memorial Day.

@Waxy - shout out to your part of Canada at 8a! And ACADIA National Park, located in downeast Maine is definitely not a mythical place, although it is a magical place. @Rex is on vacation as I write - maybe that's where is is.

My creche figure was the babY before it was MARY. And for a while I thought G3, G4 and G5 were Audis - don't they have model names like that?

Spacecraft 8:44 PM  

I have never met Dr. Tyson, my bad luck, but from watching many TV science shows I can easily tell that he is on a mission to make science more accessible to the people. Hence (my inference), he likes people; hence: as I was reading @Rex's story I was confident the outcome would be successful, well before I got to the end. Kudos to Tyson, Michio Kiko and all who participate in this great effort.

And now to today's effort. A scan of the clue bank pointed me to 61a, so I started in the SE. Okay, no foothold there, so I went up to good old ALAIN Delon (my, hasn't he been busy lately, xwordwise?) and the NE. Almost sprained my COCCYX writing that marvelous word in, and so arrived at my first themer, RCCOLAS (takes me back to the 60's, when that was the soda of choice at Berrigan's Subs: yum!)

Working on down I knew JAVA--which led me to JCPENNEY. Aha: a pattern. Now believing I had enough to work out 61a, I tried to concentrate on the nearby themer at 56a. Somebody-C-something. Hmm, figure in a creche...MAGI, maybe? MC...aha! HAMMER (never enjoyable for me to remember). Filled in MSEC and MEDO, so I'm looking at SE_____. So with C's in second position as theme initials, I naturally thought: SECONDC. But what's the "punny answer?" Abbr. for Second City?? So I left it blank. Good thing. That meant that my only writeover was the YL over RESTorE.

Loved the WCFIELDS quote, and the two best entries in the whole grid: the long downs. WELCOMEMAT and FACEOFEVIL: it just doesn't get any better than that. Wasn't too happy seeing the third EASYA this semester. One should be the limit.

Medium seems about right. Very good puzzle. Most...enjoyable.

Dirigonzo 9:13 PM  

It occurs to me that the prominence of Dr. Tyson in the discussion provides a nice seque from the puzzle to the astronomical update for June (I know some here watch the night sky), so here it is:

June always marks the beginning of summer for us in the Northern Hemisphere. That will happen at 7:09 p.m. Wednesday, June 20. The sun reaches its highest and northernmost point on the celestial sphere at that moment. That is also known as the summer solstice and will give us the longest day and shortest night of the year.

However, this June, a much more rare and dramatic event than the solstice will happen. That will be a transit of Venus across the sun on June 5. More than half the Earth will be able to see at least part of this great event, and for a change the northeastern U.S. will actually be able to see some of it.

The most exciting parts of this six-hour event are the beginning and the ending.

This time, first contact will happen at 6:05 p.m. It will take 18 minutes until the other side of Venus also completely enters the surface of the sun.

After all this excitement is over, just enjoy watching the planet progress across the sun for about two more hours until the sun sets just after 8 p.m. The whole event takes about 6½ hours. You would need to be at the West Coast to see the whole event and to catch Venus emerging from the sun again.

On June 4, full moon is at 7:13 a.m.. This is also called the rose or strawberry moon.

There you go - now get out there and enjoy the wonders of the night sky!

Sharon AK 2:22 AM  

I was so glad to see the ratings. I found it mucho hard for a Wednesday. But I didn't mind the "problems" some found with the theme. Thought it quite fun including the reveal.
@Dirigonzo. thanks for the Venus tip. I'll 10try to remember 2) hope for clear skies.
Think the tiing will be quite dif up here tho. The sun does not set until way past 8.

Dirigonzo 5:28 AM  

@Sharon AK - Until I read your comment I did not realize that you are in Alaska, "the land of the midnight sun". So you will be able to enjoy the whole event, with plenty of time to spare (you'll need a properly filtered telescope though - Venus is pretty small). The full moon should be worth seeing, too. Enjoy!

Tita 2:37 PM  

@Dirigonzo...thanks for the heads-up!!

NASA will have a live web cam, handy in case the weather doesn't cooperate.

(There is an app for that too, of course.)

Hey - did anyone in New England see a huge meteorite in the east at about 10:30 pm on May 10?

Anonymous 12:54 AM  

HOLY COW! I'd like to point out (to nobody, probably, at this late date) that the wink at 1-A with the misdirecting clue points us to the team that wears a C on their caps. Wentz has gotta be a die hard Cubs fan to craft a puzzle like this.

John Edward Voelker 4:43 PM  

Hate Tyson as he supports Al Gores carbon mythology.
Any scientist who supports Al Gore is a non scientist in my opinion.

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