"Hair" producer Joseph / WED 7-11-12 / ___ the Tentmaker / Depression-era agcy. / Org. for R.V. owners / The Plame affair, informally / "Giant Brain" of 1946

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Constructor: Allan E. Parrish

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: PRIMARY ENDS — The theme answers end with synonyms of primary. No wackiness ensues.

Word of the Day: DRAX (12D: "Moonraker" villain) —
Sir Hugo Drax is a fictional character created by author Ian Fleming for the James Bond novel Moonraker. Fleming named him after his friend, Sir Reginald Drax. In both versions of Moonraker, Drax is the main antagonist. Hugo Drax is a billionaire living in California in a château that was imported from France. He owns Drax Industries, which constructs space shuttles. An example of the Drax character's ruthlessness as portrayed in the film is given by the manner in which he disposes of enemies. Bond follows a trail around the world to investigate the theft of a space shuttle on loan to the UK by Hugo Drax, starting in California at Drax Industries, and following it to Italy, then to Brazil, then into space.
• • •
Hey there cruciverbalists! Greetings from Portland, Oregon where Summer is finally starting. It's your new Rex for a day Bret A. making my second appearance in CrossWorld. It's nice to be back for my second 15 seconds of micro-celebrity.

So about the puzzle... meh. The theme has been done and done and seems misplaced on a Wednesday. The theme answers are also completely flat. There is some trickyish cluing to try ratchet up the difficulty to Wednesday, but it doesn't quite get there. It's a 78-worder (the max word count for the NYT), and you definitely get the smooth grid you'd expect from such a high word count. There's no real junk in the grid, and the worst of it is easily inferrable. The longest non-theme answers are only 7 letters, but they are the most interesting in the grid, as it should be. It's a "Q" short of a pangram, so there's that. There's not a single "?" in any of the clues. No junk. No wackiness. No sparkle. Just meh. I was really hoping for something really good or really bad for my stay here. This is just... fine.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Joe Clark in "Lean on Me," e.g. (SCHOOL PRINCIPAL)
  • 29A: Item on a superintendent's chain (SKELETON KEY)
  • 48A: Ripe territory for pirates, once (SPANISH MAIN)
  • 63A: Losing player in the first Super Bowl (KANSAS CITY CHIEF)
Hey, the MLB All-Star Game was in Kansas City tonight. INNING and RBI are down in that part of the grid too making for a mini baseball theme.

  • 1A: Body part first transplanted in 2010 (FACE) — Actually, this was first done in the 1997 Travolta/Cage classic Face/Off.
  • 15A: ___ the Tentmaker (OMAR) — If I had my way, this would always be clued with some sort of reference to "The Wire."
  • 55A: Depression-era agcy. (NRA) — There's that cluing, trying to make this feel like a Wednesday. How about a clue like (Group of piece advocates?) It's still easy, might as well try to be funny. Or punny at least.
  • 6D: Whisk broom-wielding official, for short (UMP) — More baseball!
  • 25D: "99 Luftballons" singer (NENA) — Well, that's stuck in my head now. 

  • 38D: "___ pig's eye!" (IN A) — This is the funniest thing in the grid. That's sad.
  • 46D: Some steaks (RIBEYES) — Mets legend/broadcaster/"Seinfeld" guest star Keith Hernandez calls RBIs RIBEYES, and they cross in the grid. Sure, that's probably only interesting to me. But still, more baseball!

That's it for me. Rex will be home before you know it. Let everyone know how much you miss him in the comments. 

Signed, Bret Agins, HEPCAT of CrossWorld


jae 3:31 AM  

Bret A. and I had exactly the same take on this one.  I wrote easy and meh in the margin of my AcrossLite print out.  I started filling it in and only pondered the DRAX/AMARE cross, but it had to be "R". 

The theme was so-so with a smattering of zip...HEPCAT, CIAGATE, MADFOR...and some old time crosswordese...OTIOSE, RHEA...and a lot of names...AXL, PAPP...

Won't mention the first thing that came to mind for 1a.  Any one else try stooge for 3d?

So,  meh is the WOTD,  nothing to show your kith and kin (unlike last Thursday's keyboard masterpiece).

Accrue Crosby Michaels 3:57 AM  

Allan E. Parrish should win an ESPY for crosswords...that was some tremendous amount of space devoted to sports:

Hyper-sports, I can almost hear @Tobias revving up.

I mean, that's sort of crazy...
And all that just for PRINCIPAL, KEY, MAIN, CHIEF?

Well, the good part about the theme, is each is used in a different context from it's synonym in this context.

And nice and crunchy, 2J, X, 2Z, and 6K!!!

This is one of the first times i didn't know a clue nor the answer: INDOLENT/OTIOSE.
I mix up indolent with insolent and indignant...but it means idle and lazy.
OTIOSE i would have guessed had something to do with ears.

I imagine some will get in a HUFF over the nonPC Cheats/GYPS rearing its head again...i think it needs to be retired with SPAZ, no?

I like Allan E. Parrish puzzles...he is crazy prolific and has had a huge breadth of interesting themes, even if this isn't one of his most stellar.
He's the guy who's brought us diff deinitions of XXX, diff defs of LOCK, four different kinds of JACK...

Then had that cool MC puzzle with 8 folks who started with MC.
He did a dance one where the phrases ended with
And song titles with HEAVEN, HELL! EARTH.

AEP's made anagrams of long words like SKATE, REMARK and did a cool homophone one about his last name: PARRISH, PERISH, PARISH!!!

Another of his had all the space shuttle names, plus he's had a Saturday themeless...this guy is the real deal!!
Prolific, interesting, fun.

The first time I ever subbed, with Puzzlegirl, was for an Alan E Parrish puzzle, almost four years ago (August 20, 2008, also a Wednesday) it seemed so daunting.

Got nostalgic and went back and reread that blog...and was shocked to see the old gang commenters!

(Despite still present pals @dk,@ mac, @ chefbea, @jae there were so many folks no longer around... @Bill, @Green Mantis,@ karma sutra, @ulrich,@ Doc John, @foodie. It really was a trip down memory lane.)

Times have changed, but Allan E Parrish rocks on.

chefwen 4:51 AM  

Started out thinking that I might have to Google a couple of things, mostly because of sports clues. Never did get off my lazy A$$ and ended up not needing to.

16A was a complete unknown as was 12D, I guessed at the R thinking the Moonraker villain was DR. AX, never having seeing the movie, how was I to know?

Only tiresome write over was 5A snit to tiFF to HUFF, which what was what my dogs did to me yesterday.

r.alphbunker 6:00 AM  


I did the same thing with DR AX but not with a lot of confidence because there was already a Dr No.

Z 6:22 AM  

A Mondayish time for me, since all the sports are super easy for me. Agree with the Meh! rating (exclamation point to emphasize the Mehinity).

@Accrue Crosby Michaels - Ulrich still makes an appearance. Thanks for the AEP quality recap, not every effort is going to be great.

Regarding SPAZ vis a vis GYP - the Wiki article does a nice job of delineating the difference between British usage (offensive) and US usage (inoffensive) of SPAZ. This is very different from using a word derived from an ethnic stereo-type. Having said that, the stereotype source of GYP is something I only learned after 50 years on the planet. I conclude that it has lost most of its potency. Am I wrong?

Anonymous 7:36 AM  


John V 8:04 AM  

Had a bit of a snag in the NE; didn't see that the clue had an abbreviation so wasn't looking for JANDJ. Perhaps some had problems with the AMARE/NAPA crossing?

Wanted AGAR for AGER @ 71A for the longest time. ONEL/WOO was also slow to come.

Wanted SNIT for 5A, initially.

Hello 99 Luftballons!

Easy, save for the snags noted.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

Always had a thing for Nena. Not sure what it was exactly. Maybe a combo of the lips and the leather pants.
Easy Peasy - didnt stop once. Not sure what OTIOSE is but didnt need to.
Easy Wednesdays are often followed by killer Thursdays.

Kevin 8:27 AM  

*No junk except for PAPP. What the hell is that?

quilter1 8:33 AM  

Easy, but, yes, meh. Thanks for the write-up, Bret. Taking the grandboy fishing this a.m.

Sue McC 8:34 AM  

Totally agree with the meh rating. I thought it was theme less until I saw the write-up, so thanks for the info, Bret. Best part of the puzzle for me was the rhyming intersection of Nena and Geena. That's about it.

Now, thanks to reading these comments, I am having fun putting in the deliberately wrong number on the captcha. I'm such a rebel!

orangeblossomspecial 8:39 AM  

I'm trying to recall the first time I heard 'Omar the tentmaker'. I think it was one of the boxing bouts in the 70s when someone like Ken Norton or Joe Frazier came out in oversize shorts that hung below his knees. One of the ringside analysts (perhaps Angelo Dundee) said he was wearing shorts by Omar the tentmaker.

I'm sure 'The Wire' wasn't the first use of that expression.

John V 8:40 AM  

@kevin re: PAPP; Joseph Papp very well known producer, founder of The Public Theater in Manhattan. This was a gimme for me.

jackj 8:47 AM  

A somewhat awkward theme with nouns needing to be converted to adjectives for the recurring quest of “dominance” synonyms. In the process, Allan Parrish has given us a puzzle laden with sports clues that will thrill a few folks but likely be unwelcome to many of the more cerebral Times regulars.

No problem here; there were enough non-sports challenges in the likes of FRIEZE, OTIOSE and Mount HOLYOKE to counter the jock friendly CROSBY, LARAM, RBI and INNING so that a fair minded UMP would declare it all a tie game (if you exclude ENOS, ESPYS and AMARE, of course).

KANSASCITYCHIEF as “Losing player in the first Super Bowl”, triggered a host of fond memories for me to when I had scheduled my first business visit to LA for the middle of January, 1967 which, surprise, surprise, just happened to be when that first NFL/AFL shootout was taking place.

Tickets were readily available for the game, (the only Super Bowl game not to be a sell-out, I think), and though the Chiefs were trounced by the Packers 35-10, it was a day to enjoy being a part of what proved to be an historic event in the world of sport.

Oddly, my most vivid memory from that game is the deafening roar from two daredevils who surprised and delighted the 60,000 of us present when they flew into the Coliseum at half-time, wearing only military Jet Packs and meeting at midfield for a ceremonial handshake. My ears are still ringing all these years later!

Enough with the reverie; I did enjoy Allan’s puzzle, even though I thought it a mite easy for a Wednesday.

joho 8:48 AM  

Great write up, Bret and right on.

@chefwen & @r.alphbunker, DR. AX for me too. That's the only place in the puzzle I even hestitated.

@Accrue Crosby Michaels, I love that because you couldn't heap praise upon this puzzle you recalled all the brilliant stuff AEP has done. You found something nice to say!

I think HEPCAT of Crossworld is my favorite moniker yet!

Anonymous 8:59 AM  


Are you saying that those of us who are "thrilled" by sports clues are not cerebral?

lawprof 9:23 AM  

I'm somewhat chagrined to have naticked in NE because I had no idea who DRAX was and didn't see JANDJ (which I now understand to be Johnson & Johnson).

Drax was a problem for me because my interest in the James Bond movies waned after the Sean Connery era. But those early Bond movies still conjure iconic images, viz, when Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder) emerged from that lagoon in Dr. No, every pre-pubescent boy in the theater dropped the "pre."

Tita 9:28 AM  

I learned OTIOSE when translating a German film from the dawn of the Autobahn, showing its advantages over driving the local streets...the translation I found for müßig was OTIOSE, which I then needed to look up. Did not know it would make occasional appearances in xwordland!

@jackj - nude jetpackers?

Favorite clue: 66A Butler who didn't give a damn [RHETT]
The movie was just on again.

Will S., at the Westport tournament, admitted to about 6 mistakes in NYT puzzles...one of them was something about "who spoke the final words 'I'll never go hungry again' in GWTW. Turns out the fact checker actually watched the movie (for the first time), saw the very climactic scene where Scarlett says that, hears the welling up of the music, the fade to black, and checked that off as correct!

Also liked Peachy: NEATO, FRIEZE, HUFF. Liked learning about Keith Hernandez' RIBEYES. Didn't know GYPS was a reference to Gypsies.

Alas, overall only meh. Themes not sparkly. I won't fault the constructor for all the sportiness, but that sure didn't add to my pleasure. Also, 1A, while a fresh clue for a common word, conjured up terrifying thoughts of that poor woman in Stamford - not an auspicious start to a puzzle.

@jackj - LOL at your too transparent poke at the "non-cerebral" among us!

Nice writeup, Sir Hepcat!

Shamik 9:28 AM  

Perhaps I'm just not totally awake yet, but found it to be a medium puzzle in difficulty and rather interesting. Of course, also didn't get the theme until I read the write-up.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

I have a question for Bret or others: How do you know the theme is officially synonyms for "primary" and not some other word?

I'm not arguing it. I can't think of any other word that serves better or as well. But it just seems kind of open-ended for a theme.

Anyway, WKRP yay!

dk 9:34 AM  

I dub this puzzle: Sporty Spice. OTIOSE was the only Wednesday-worthy fill. I am in a HUFF.

😡😡 (2 pouting faces)

Andrea, the clue for 34A is 52D 4U.

@lawprof, I only put the pre in my pocket so for 7D I wanted fart.

Off to an all seminar on predictive modeling -- I know how to party.

dk 9:36 AM  

that would be all day seminar

Loren Muse Smith 9:45 AM  

Hand up for “snit” before HUFF. Like @John V, I didn’t notice the abbr in the clue, so I had “curad” before J AND J.

Like @Sue McC, I thought it was a themeless Wedesday, too!

I felt bad for our very cerebral @Tobias. Eleven sports entries? Also – twelve proper names!

@Tita – I read that when Vivien Leigh filmed that “never be hungry” scene, Olivia de Havilland (Melanie) thought she could do a better wretching sound, and it’s actually Olivia’s gagging sound that made the final cut.

Thought the RHETT/OAHU cross was really, really clever.

For me, a perfect Wednesday level.
Thanks, Allan and Will.

Oh, and just kidding about that cross.

syndy 9:53 AM  

please google "Roma gypsies in the news"

Two Ponies 10:12 AM  

Most noteworthy (and not in a good way) was having fiscal conservative and Faux News stinking up the NW.
@ Z, I agree that gyp has lost its potency. It is so deep "in the language" that I imagine few people who use it mean anything bad by it. Actually I'm tired of kicking the topic around.
PC crap puts me in a huff.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Must admit that COHOST was NOT the first thing that came to mind for
Carlson or Doocy!! (3-down)

Carola 10:28 AM  

Quite a wide-ranging puzzle, from MOUNT HOLYOKE to the SPANISH MAIN, with various stops along the way. I liked VENICE paired grid-wise with OTIOSE, as I imagine an indolent life in the palazzi along the canals. Since a Green Bay Packer will never fit in a daily puzzle, I'll be content with a member of the team they so memorably (to some) defeated in the first Super Bowl.
@jackj - fantastic that you were there!

The puzzle also seemed rather heavily populated with proper names and acronyms, but I was lucky in that for every ??? (like WKRP) there was a cross with one I knew (RHETT. Clark Gable. Sigh.)

On the subject of movies, Bret's mention of Face/Off reminded me of Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face, which I saw in my small-town movie theater when it came out in 1962. Unforgettable. Now it circulates on the art-movie circuit and is available on a Criterion Collection DVD.

Thank you, Allan Parrish - I enjoyed this one a lot.

jackj 10:34 AM  

Anonymous@8:59AM said:

"Are you saying that those of us who are "thrilled" by sports clues are not cerebral?"

No, only not "more cerebral", I guess.

Tita@9:28AM said-

"nude jetpackers?"(LOL).

That really would have stirred the crowd!

Joe The Juggler 10:58 AM  

Another themed puzzle that I got through in very quick time (for me) without realizing there even was a theme.

I'm not sure if that reflects poorly on me or poorly on the theme.

Masked and Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Solid WedPuz. Standing O for the construction. Only stuff short on perfection was: AMARE and PAPP. Into every puz a little papp must fall. The gridfill gods seem to demand it.

Liked how ESP foretold ESPYS. This was an F/U puz -- i.e., more Fs than Us. Fave fillins: HOLYOKE, FRIEZE BREEZE, JANDJ ampersandwich.

Was hoping for a MEME in the fill; woulda rated cuing the Twilight Zone music. Closest was MEek.

Theme today was pretty basic. Made me go lookin' for something extra. Found a SHARK swimming around in it. Cool future puz theme: SHARK (or SNARK!)-infested grid? Too goofball? Thought so.

Masked and Anonymous also 12:16 PM  

P.S. PAPP irradicator treatment...
1. Correct 31-Down to read KOP.
2. Clue 41-Across as "Pod foursome".

Anoa Bob 12:16 PM  

Hey, what's the prob? I like sports and have cereal several times a week. Can't see how they are mutually exclusive. Someone please explain.

mac 12:18 PM  

Easy-medium for me, had to work a little on the KOA/otiose area (what's KOA?). Have to admit that I didn't even look for the theme, but the abundance of sports clues was really noticable.

Thanks for the write-up, Brett, and outstanding post by @Acme!

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Just read up on the whereabouts of NENA. She is now a grandma. Twice. My childhood fantasies are withering away.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Mac - Kampgrounds of America

chefbea 12:31 PM  

Easy puzzle but DNF. Had a Natick at the crossing of Drax and Amare. Never heard of Stoudmire or Moonraker.

Did notice all the sports!!

I thought the theme was different words for Important!

@Mac I think KOA is Kamp grounds of America. using a K instead of a C

mac 12:54 PM  

Thanks for the help!

lawprof 1:14 PM  

Several shots across the bow today in the intellectual culture war. As the fog of battle begins to clear, several indicia of anti-intellectualism begin to emerge, the most prominent among them being an interest in sports.

But past posts suggest a number of additional clues that one is unworthy, including, but not limited to: owning a television set; going to the movies; listening to (or even tolerating) rap music; being familiar with the name of a rap star; listening to Rush Limbaugh (apart from merely attempting to learn what the fewer-than-three-contiguous-teeth crowd is up to); doing the USA Today CX puzzle; not having read Proust and many more give-aways too numerous to mention.

For the record, I happen to agree with some of the above; disagree with some; am agnostic toward others.

Bird 1:35 PM  

This puzzle was a BREEZE, but also meh. I like sports (but that does not make me ignorant or foolish) so that definitely helped. Another baseball answer in 4D. Two writeovers - VIE for WOO and AGAR for AGER.

@Tita - nude jetpackers would have been one helluva sight

Happy Humpday!

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

@Tita - Were they steering those jetpacks using joysticks?

Mike 3:01 PM  

I can't be the only one that had IDOL for ICON. That one screwed me up for quite a while.

Mighty Nisden 3:33 PM  

Yes Mike I too had IdOl for the longest time.

Did not like the ENOS CROSBY crossing and could not infer it so DNF. Of course after seeing it I should have gotten it.

Liked the sportiness, but miss the fact that there were no ? clues.

jae 3:34 PM  

Look, I'm as elitist as the next guy, but if you are going to play this game well you need to have all the bases covered including rap, sports, TV, pop culture, opera, European rivers, long dead composers, geography, politics..., especially, if you want to play in BEQ Stadium.

Acme 3:35 PM  

@ joho
I wasn't desperately searching for something nice to say...i was just recalling how many great puzzles Allan has done, and tripped across that blog from so many years ago!

I sympathized with Bret A for not getting a puzzle that he could sink his teeth into, positively or negatively, as there were no really juicy bits to this one.

(And altho I'm wary now of commenting at all on the subs, i thought he sounded uncannily like @rex, esp in that first paragraph after his introduction!)

I don't know Allan E. Parrish personally, (AEP, Nnot to be confused with crosswordese EAP!) so i was just reminiscing about all the ones that gave me so much pleasure as a solver...
He has such a vast body of work in the NYT and LAT, all different ranges of styles and themes...
so I wanted to highlight that, esp because the constructors with the exception of a few faves, are often critiqued on just the latest piece, usually out of context of their whole body of work.

The blogs have given this place now to look at the bigger picture...i love how you can click on the tags at the bottom and see all of AEP's other puzzles!

jae 3:36 PM  

... the bible, advertising, U.S. corporations...

Me too for IDOL very briefly.

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

@ jae There has never been a puzzle with 11 of any of the things you mention.

Acme 3:52 PM  

I agree, but if there is a buildup in one area, it takes away the balance and some of the joy for many of the solvers and detracts from the overall experience.

I mean, i totally accept that most of the constructors and certainly the editors love love love baseball.
(hmmmm just caught a Freudian slip! I typed "except", so maybe "totally" isn't the word!)

Also the smartest men i know definitely fall into the sports-loving category, esp in this crossworld.

But i think it bears repeating (some might say ad nauseum!) that if you have the chance to clue a word/name in a nonsports manner, you might consider that.
There is nothing to be done about a name like AMARE unless you rewrite that corner, tho I think it's a lovely fresh kind of word to include in a puzzle.

But the name CROSBY had some other nonsports possibilities, eg Bing or Kathy Lee could have had a toughish Wednesday clue.

There is no other way to deal with a full team name or RBI or INNING, etc. but a word like FAN in a Tuesday puzzle had myriad other ways to go.

You need a huge breadth to tackle BEQ or Peter Gordon, et al...no argument there. But if there is a buildup, both the constructor and the editors working "as a team" need to give it additional thought.

Is three and out a baseball term?! ;)

sanfranman59 4:04 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 9:34, 11:47, 0.81, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:23, 5:53, 0.92, 29%, Easy-Medium

Tita 4:05 PM  

@jae- is that your puzzle apprentice in your pic? Fabulous!

As to joyssticks...lol...but hey - am I the only one who read @jackj literally? "wearing only military Jet Packs"

@mac - just came back from hearing a carillon concert at St. James Church - hadn't heard one since Heidelberg days. Next week will be a carilloneur duo from Groningen. I wonder - how does one play a duet on a carillon!

@lawprof, acme, et al - love the sports discussion.
Prize comment goes to Anoa Bob!!

Sparky 4:12 PM  

All of the above. Natick with 16a AM--E. I don't know car stuff or much about razor blades which also show up a fair amount. Saw the theme but it's exact meaning a bit vague.

Joseph Papp also responsible for Shakespeare in the Park.

Monday only half of my comment printed. I probably hit enter or whatever too soon.

Nice write up Bret.

It's asking me to sign in again. That's annoying.

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

This should have been Tuesday's puzzle and yesterday's should have been today's.

MerlePsyA 4:30 PM  

Hello, Bret,

An easy puzzle, but for me, not so meh. Pleasant. If I had my way, Tentmaker is a fine clue for Omar. The Rubaiyat is great poetry, and Omar Khayyam should be honored by cruciverbalists. I sailed through, then got stuck in NE corner. Don't know sports, so didn't know Amare. Didn't get the 11 down clue or answer. Napa? Auto parts? WTF? Don't know one James Bond movie from the next. Drax? Okay, now I know. So I was two letters shy of finishing without Googling. Googled Stoudemire, and finished. Thought 1 Down was a neat clue and answer -- fiscal finally came to mind after I got some crosses, and I was amused by the pairing of year and conservative in the clue to deliver fiscal. A nice mini-aha! moment. I enjoyed reading your comments....

Bird 5:08 PM  

@Tita - Not until I read your post did I think of nudists wearing jetpacks. Well, now that image is burned into my cerebrum. Thanks alot;)

KRMunson 5:20 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous - Love the "meme" shout out!! I'm still looking for a good way to work it into a conversation.

EZ puzzle. I must be dense (or non-cerebral) cause I didn't get that there was a theme to this puzzle until I came to Rexvile....

Anonymous 5:43 PM  

GYP is considered bad form and indeed almost racist in many circles nowadays, so I'm surprised it escaped the NYTimes PC radar...

Anonymous 5:45 PM  

@anon 5:43 PM
thats why I prefer GYPo

Anonymous 5:48 PM  

The word HUFF could have been clued Hall of Fame linebacker (Sam Huff), so not every possible sports clue was given.

That first Super Bowl wasn't called that at the time. It wasn't until the 3rd one before it became known as the Super Bowl....


jae 6:13 PM  

@Tita -- That's what I thought jackj meant, and yes that's my granddaughter about 3 years ago. I should update the pic.

@andrea -- Agree completely. I was talking more generally about the kinda stuff you need to have in your head to do this. Of course cramming too much of one category into a single puzzle is just bad form.

And I apologize, I'm over 3.

...movies, car makes, foreign languages including dead ones, logos, mottos, history...

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

@ jae once again,none of those catagories have ever had more than 11 entries in a puzzle.

Doc John 7:16 PM  

@acme- thanks for the shout out! I'm still around but more of a lurker these days. Lately, at work I've had to work. Barely enough time to do the puzzle, even!
That said, I thought of you today because I had a malaplop- i initially put in idol but only after mistakenly typing a C for the D.
Other than that, my views of today's puzzle mesh with the rest of the gang.

chefbea 7:29 PM  

@Doc John good to see you again

retired_chemist 7:48 PM  

I'm here, I did it. I wasn't thrilled. Had SAN DIEGO CHARGER for 63A only because they were the first 15 letter AFL team that came to mind. Easily fixed with a few crosses in the SE: 15 letters ending in -IEF doesn't leave much room for error.

Looking forward to whelping a singleton golden retriever puppy tonight and enjoying the four pug pups that are now 5 weeks old. Beats meh crosswords.....

Z 8:39 PM  

@tita - I was wondering about the nude jetpackers' ceremonial handshake my self.

mac 10:01 PM  

@Tita: that sounds lovely! I guess the duet must be like quatre mains, I can't imagine them bringing another carillon to the venue.

JenCT 10:03 PM  

@Tita: I read @jackj's post the same way...

@Sparky: I have such fond memories of PAPP's Shakespeare in the Park: going early with a picnic basket to get in line on the lawn, watching great actors while enjoying a cool night breeze; so much more. That was some great, free theater. Shakespeare in the Park

@acme: really appreciate your posts & insights.

I never got the theme of the puzzle, either.

Sparky 10:27 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
manitou 10:32 PM  

The 2012 ESPY Awards are tonight.

Sparky 10:55 PM  

@JenCT. Yes, it was something. I lived on 82 St. during the time it just started. We could just makeup our minds to go, join the line, and get in. The park is great.

sanfranman59 12:34 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:03, 6:50, 0.89, 8%, Easy
Tue 11:23, 8:58, 1.27, 96%, Challenging (8th highest median solve time of 159 Tuesdays)
Wed 9:36, 11:47, 0.82, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:26, 3:41, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 6:02, 4:38, 1.30, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest median solve time of 159 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:21, 5:53, 0.91, 28%, Easy-Medium

Stephen 11:56 AM  

Glad to learn OTIOSE,
but want to crank about 64D "Some GPS lines"...
Setting aside the fact that STS is drekky, the clue is just plain wrong. There is absolutely no notion of streets in any of the GPS equipment anywhere on this planet. GPS is a system for measuring 3D geoposition; it models position using lat, long, and elevation. Period.

There are plenty of navigation systems that do combine street maps with a GPS system and their users are clearly interested in the street names and positions. But calling such a combination system by the name of one of its subsystems is a wacko misnomer. GPS existed for decades before street navigation systems arose, and the additional features are in no way a component of the satellite positioning system.

So there. I feel better.
Will constructors stop with that nonsense now?

Stephen 12:00 PM  

In the days of the Spanish New World Empire, the mainland of the American continent enclosing the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico was referred to as the "Spanish Main".

Spacecraft 1:02 PM  

I stopped. When I got to 9a and knew what I was supposed to fill in there, I just stopped. I couldn't do it. I cannot make myself write such nonsense as two initials separated by the written-out word AND. It violates common sense, and I won't write it.

I do these puzzles for mental exercise, not torture. It's my simple position that you can't have that which would NEVER appear in its crossword form OUTSIDE of crosswords. I'm sorry, you just can't do it. And I, for one, am not goimg to go on solving when I see one. I quit. I am on strike.

No more blankANDblank, no more SILENTwhatever. If I see one, I just stop. I invite all who care about this lovely language of ours to join me.

DMGrandma 2:20 PM  

Guess the sports stuff in this must qualify in the in the "common knowledge" arena, 'cause I got it all. My only pause was the same as @jae: the AMARE/DRAX crossing. Originally put in DRNO, but that died when I vaguely remembered AXL Rose. Then the A fell from the cross, and I, very inadvertently, ended up with the right answer. Tho I have to admit I still don't understand if it is DRAX or DR AX?
@Diri. Enjoy your posts, and never thought you meant I was the Granny.

Z 3:46 PM  

@Spacecraft - When I was new to crosswords these -AND- or HARD G or SILENT E answers were innovative misdirections. After the third or thirtieth time of getting fooled by these they became a crossword trope. I am not yet ready to join your strike, but I imagine in another year or five what was once clever will become cliché to me.

Dirigonzo 6:08 PM  

My first run through of all the clues produced a grid that was totally complete south of the equator, which is fairly rare for me on Wednesday, with some substantial holes in the north. The AMARE/DRAX nearly did me in but the R seemed to be the only likely candidate. Looked for the theme but couldn't find it until I came here, so the obvious still eludes me much of the time.

I did not know that ENIAC and I are the same age.

@Spacecraft - I regard the "_and_" as kind of a reverse rebus where you replace the symbol with three letters instead of replacing three letters with a symbol. Seems fair enough to me (but I'm known for being easy).

@DMGrandma - thank you.

Spacecraft 9:31 PM  

Sadly, I quit before seeing the great Bond-villain name DRAX (the movie Drax was a piece of crap). Once I was at a bridge tournament that featured four experts in a "Bridge Jeopardy" between-rounds event. The "answer" was: "The best possible result for your side, vulnerable, holding AKQJ, AKQJ, AK, KJ9." One panelist rang in immediately and responded "Minus 200--" correctly! It's a sacrifice 7 notrump bid to keep the opponents out of their cold (!) 7club contract in the so-called "Duke of Cumberland" hand:

RHO has 4spades, 4 hearts and 5 clubs while LHO has 8 diamonds to the queen and AQTxx of clubs. All declarer need do is ruff two diamonds on the board, finessing in trump on the way back each time, draw the last trump and run the diamonds, now established.

The best the strong hand can do is take the sac at 7NT, losing two club tricks at the end (no, not three with the long diamond, because "West" is squeezed at trick 10; work it out).

Anonymous 10:21 PM  

The Drax/Amare cross flummoxed me (Moonraker was the worst Bond film ever made so I have purged it from my brain), but otherwise wondered if Tuesday and Wednesday somehow got switched this week.

Waxy in Montreal 12:33 AM  

No post from @Solving in Seattle when the strong baseball subtheme in this crossword appears on the same day as the Seattle Mariners' Felix (don't call me Keith) Hernandez pitches the first perfect game in team history? Who woulda thunk it...

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