Historian Will or Ariel / TUE 7-24-12 / Marat's counterpart in a Peter Weiss title / Galvanic cell component / Thick-trunked African tree

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Constructor: Andrew Marc Greene

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Ain't That a B — Vowel progression puzzle in which each theme answer is a two-word phrase where both words begin with B and are followed by the same vowel in each word (BA___ BA___, BE___ BE___, etc).

Word of the Day: HABIB (31D: Diplomat Philip)
Philip Charles Habib (February 25, 1920 – May 25, 1992) was a Lebanese-American career diplomat known for work in Vietnam, South Korea and the Middle East. The New York Times in observing his death described him as "the outstanding professional diplomat of his generation in the United States."

Beginning in 1949, his foreign service career took him to Canada, New Zealand, South Korea (twice), Somalia, and South Vietnam. He held the State Department position of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1967–1969 and was part of the Vietnamese peace talk delegation in 1968. Habib acquired increasingly important posts, serving as Ambassador to South Korea (1971–1974), Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (1974–1976), and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (1976–1978), during which time he was the chief mediator for the US between Israel and Egypt in the Camp David Peace Accord. According to some reports, he intervened to save the life of South Korean opposition leader Kim Dae-jung during a kidnapping in 1973. (Wikipedia)

• • •
Greetings, CrossWorld -- Evan Birnholz again, reporting for duty.  I am the last thing standing between you and the Return of the King, as Rex Parker himself will be back tomorrow.  He will no doubt be shocked at how we substitutes have trashed the place in his absence.  So let's get down to business and trash the place one more time before he CRASHES the party.

Today's puzzle by Andrew Marc Greene takes a simple concept -- two-word "BB" phrases, proceed in order by vowels -- and provides a solid grid with some good theme answers and decent fill.  There were a few not-so-great entries (A DAY here, A-BOO there, some URBS and the partial I NEED), but the grid is otherwise very clean.  It wasn't a terribly challenging puzzle, although the southeast corner did give me a little more trouble than the rest of it.  That's where I ran into the B-heavy twins BAOBAB (54D: Thick-trunked African tree) -- which I only recall from reading The Little Prince in high school French class -- and NABOB (50A: Big wheel), which was confusing because I don't normally think of "wheel" as a slang term for "guy" unless it's referring to someone as a "third wheel."  I didn't know the equally B-heavy HABIB either, but I didn't have to, as all of the crosses there were straightforward.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: A.T.M. printout (BANK BALANCE) — A legit phrase, but it's probably the weakest of the theme answers.  In my experience it's usually shortened to just "balance."
  • 32A: Joe Six-Pack's overhang (BEER BELLY) — So, the Joe Six-Pack of this clue doesn't have six-pack abs?  That's false advertising, man.
  • 41A: Yellow "Sesame Street" character (BIG BIRD) — Weird coincidence: When I subbed for Rex about two weeks ago, "Orange TV character" was the clue for ERNIE, and now, I get the yellow TV character from the same show.  I know today was an early-week puzzle, but would it be too much to ask that the next time ELMO makes an appearance that it not be clued simply as "Red TV character" but with something more....ahem....colorful, like "Muppet who saved Christmas in a 1996 TV special"?
  • 48A: Portable sources of music (BOOM BOXES) — Not much anymore these days, after they got mostly swept to the dustbin of audio history along with the monstrosity known as the Dictabelt.  The last time I saw anyone non-ironically carrying a boom box was when the Joker's henchman Lawrence jammed with one in Flugelheim Museum in the 1989 Batman movie. As I recall, he throws the boom box at Batman at the end of level 3 in the Sega Genesis game of the same name. 
  • 63A: It appeared before Moses on Mount Horeb (BURNING BUSH) — Didn't it also make a cameo appearance in the cursed video tape in "The Ring"?  Or was that a burning tree?  YouTube says it was a tree.  Whatever.  The point is, fire.
One other interesting little tidbit: This is the first puzzle that I can explicitly recall where there were no clues with a question mark at the end -- you know, when they insert puns or other clever wordplay into the clue.  Even in an early-week puzzle, there's usually at least one of them.  Not so today.  That probably helps explain why it *felt* easier than normal for a Tuesday.

(Fair warning: Some R-rated lyrics and content in this video)

  • 3D: One reciting others' lines (QUOTER) — Not really a fan of this word, or most words where if you add an R or an -ER onto the end of a verb it becomes a noun that no one really says, where the definition is just "[verb + R] = One who [verb]s."  And that's basically what the answer and its clue are: A QUOTER is one who quotes.  Just like a STANDER is one who stands.  A CRASHER (10D: Uninvited partygoer) is better, though.  That leads me to....
  • 8A: William Tell, for one (ARCHER) — I so, so wish the clue had been a reference to the animated FX TV show "Archer."  My soon-to-be wife and I just started Season 3.  It might not be for everyone -- it's very fast-paced and very racy, and has quite a lot of 43A: Driver's license datum humor....I mean SEX humor in that show -- but if it's your type of comedy, holy hell is it funny.  Observe clip #1:

And now clip #2:

  • 14A: Mich. rival in the Big Ten (O.S.U.) — A Big Ten rival of both schools just got hit with some big penalties: A four-year ban on Bowl games and saw all of its wins dating back to 1998 officially wiped off the books.
  • 16A: Historian Will or Ariel (DURANT) — Neither one was familiar to me.  They probably should be since I'm gunning to be a historian. The Durant I'm much more familiar with is the three-time NBA scoring champ Kevin.
  • 33D: "Still mooing," as burgers go (RARE) — I have not heard this expression before.  If your burger actually does start mooing right before you start eating it, then....you might want to get that checked out.  Both the burger and yourself.
  • 39D: Feline's "feed me" (MEOW) — Whoa, when did the New York Times acquire the ability to speak Cat?  How did they know what the feline meant?  Cats meow all the time even when they're not hungry, especially my cat, who whines whenever I'm not in the same room as she is. You could have inserted anything inside those quotation marks and it would have been just as good a clue, and you know why?  Because MEOW is all they say.  Yeah, maybe it's sometimes it's "mew," or perhaps "rrrrowwww," or....however you spell it when they do that weird hissing sound.  But it doesn't matter.  Because they're cats.  And cats can't talk, except to say "meow."
  • 66D: Echolocation-using mammal (BAT) — I originally misread the clue as "elocution-using mammal," which would most likely be MAN.  Instead it was BAT.  Speaking of both, can you tell by all my repeated references to Batman now that I recently saw "The Dark Night Rises"?  Oh man, I should tell you all about it!  The best part of that movie was when [comment redacted] and [no spoilers here, sorry] totally did the [thing that if I told you was it was, it would ruin everything and you'd hate me oh-so-much for spoiling it for you] and so they [Batman].
Alright, so now that I've blogged about Beer, Burning Stuff, the Sega Genesis, Batman on several occasions, and a couple of videos that alluded either to Sex, Drinking, and/or Gambling, I'd say I've done a half-decent job of sufficiently giving this blog a final good trashing.  And if Rex or anyone else should think it wasn't ruined enough, here's my response:

And with that, I and all other pretenders for Rex's throne during these past several weeks wish you good BYE.

Signed, Evan Birnholz, Earl of CrossWorld


syndy 5:56 AM  

Durant was a gimmee but this was super easy anyway but not as annoying as tuesday sometimes are.Also a gimmee -when puss is meowing a "FEED ME" is in there!so many B's it had to be a BAOBAB

Z 7:16 AM  

UMA BIGBIRD SEX - The central plot point of the next Tarantino film.

Nice Dude video.

dk 7:29 AM  

Andrew, nice unoffensive Tuesday. Who nu!

What Evan wrote minus the movie references.

We are cat-lite here in the hood. I think Mr. Fox keeps them close to home. Last fall Mr. Bear kept them away for weeks. I tell ya life for a NY boy in Western WI is like livein in a fricken Wild Kingdom episode.

So once on a bidness trip to South Carolina I espied a gentleman's club named The 63A. I am not certain but... I think they were trying to invoke a different vision. Cue Johnny Cash and Ring of Fire about here.

💰💰 (2 Money Bags) Rex who!

JenCT 7:45 AM  

This is one of my favorite talking cats videos:

Patty Cake cats

Fun puzzle & writeup; hubby gave me BAOBAB.

William Safire 7:57 AM  

“In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H Club — the ‘hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.’”

Sue McC 8:20 AM  

I love the word BAOBAB. Other than that, not much to add, so I will B going. Oh, and coincidentally, there are 2 Bs in my captcha: knbstab

joho 8:26 AM  

Wow ... a double vowel progression from A to U hidden in phrases with double "B's" ... very impressive!
And not a BIT Boring.

How can you not smile at NABOB, HABIB and BAOBAB?

Getting the usually elusive "F" and "Q" in the puzzle with FAQ at 1A I was thinking this would be a pangram but no, a Z short. But still filled with scrabbly letters.

I thought this was a great Tuesday, thank you, Andrew Marc Greene.

And, you, too, Evan, Earl of Crossworld for another great write up.

Carola 8:31 AM  

Evan, I had a lot of fun at your party. Having entered my golden years but not the nursing home, I mean continuing care community, yet, I'm glad to know that some wild BOOMBOX SEX awaits. For now, my son's old boombox resides in the basement laundry room and blasts classical music at me while I sort socks.

Senescence helped me with HABIB and DURANT, but I wanted "swiss" for ARCHER. I liked how MONEY was flowing into the BANK BALANCE.

@JenCT - Hysterical patty-caking! There's a CAT hiding in CATHODE, too.

@William Safire - You'll be happy to hear that your immortal phrase lived on in our household to characterize our (sometimes) uncooperative teenagers.

Very neat puzzle, Andrew Marc Greene. Thank you for the fun start to the day!

Loren Muse Smith 8:45 AM  

MONEY BAG crossing BANK BALANCE, INSECURE crossing I NEED, BAOBOB and ELMS, IRAQ and QATAR, BIG BIRD and BAT, MEOW and LYNX, UMA and BEN. . . Great puzzle.

I never fail to put “alea” before ALEE. Never.

@JenCt – I’ve always loved that clip. Another good one (but it’s a dog):


And the very last across in the SE – BYE!

jackj 8:46 AM  

While Philip HABIB is revered at Foggy Bottom, (deservedly so), he is likely to be a total unknown to many Tuesday level crossword solvers. Since Ambassador HABIB’s name is involved with two of the five theme entries, (BIGBIRD and BOOMBOXES) and is attainable from the crosses, it won’t be a Natick, but it sure might trigger a lot of “Huh’s?”

A very smooth theme from Mr. Greene with the double B words presented in AEIOU fashion for each of the relevant B words and, since “B’s” beget “B’s” there are also a passel of non-theme B words to contend with, highlighted by BAOBAB and its cousin NABOB.

Also-rans in the parade of the buzzing bees gave us BREE, BOK and BIDEN and to prove he’s not just a “Johnnie one-note/Andrew one-letter” constructor, we are treated to some interesting non-B goodies like AMMONIA, INSECURE, ODDITY and MATISSE.

Seeing the friendly wave at the end, with “BYE”, I wished 1 across could have been “HEY” or some such so that there was an on ramp to start the puzzle, as counterpoint to the nice exit line that ends it.

Good work, Mr. Greene; hopefully you won’t wait another 5 years before we see your name here again.

orangeblossomspecial 9:05 AM  

Used to be that you couldn't open a copy of Time or Newsweek without seeing a full page ad for Will & Ariel Durant's 'Story of Civilization'. That got you into a book club, as I recall.

Here's a recording of 8D "Forever and A DAY".

Other than VP Spiro Agnew's quote about "nattering NABOBs of negativism", you don't hear the word frequently. This recording of "Rings on my fingers" includes NABOB in the chorus.

The Muppets did a version of 17A "I go to RIO".

John V 9:26 AM  

Good job trashing the joint, Evan. Did yourself proud :)

When first I encountered QATAR, I was told to pronounce it like guitar. What we need here is a puzzle theme of country names that are pronounced to sound like musical instruments. There are six: QATAR is one, UZBEKISTAN is another. I leave the remaining four as an exercise for the curious.

Fun, easy puz, more Monday than not, except for producing (hopefully) temporary psychosis in some commenters.

That's all I got. Just smile and say ASIAGO.

Tita 9:43 AM  

The vowel progression ends, aptly, with BYE as the final entry - love that!
Liked the crossing of BAOBAB/NABOB, and that none of those Bs are involved in the long theme answers.

In fact, there are a Bounty of Bs throughout.

Fun, although played tough for me for a Tue.

@Jen - that video breaks me up every time - thanks!
@loren - thanks for pointing out all the content mirroring (my new xword phrase o; the week - thx acme).

@Evan - nice one again - well done! Though like Syndy's, my cats meows almost always include "feed me" in there somewhere...

Thank you Mr. Greene.

chefbea 9:43 AM  

What a great puzzle!! Guess it's a shout out to moi???
All those Bs!!

I have a set of three measuring spoons - smidgeon,dash and pinch

retired_chemist 9:54 AM  

Oustanding writeup, Evan. I must say that the writeups in Rex's absence were uniformly entertaining, this one not least.

Saw the B- B- aspect of the theme quickly from BEER BELLY (which I did not take personally). Missed the vowel progression but didn't need it as I just went to all the other long answers and filled them in. BIG BIRD wasn't long enough to be on that particular radar screen but when I went back and saw it I smiled.

3 minutes! D**N! That's what I lost chasing the typo (ODDIIY) when I thought I changed ODDEST to ODDITY (52D). Someday I will wise up and start my checking in the SE downs going backward. Didn't help that AIL is a perfectly ordinary English (and common crosswordese) word.

Other kerfuffle was a domino effect from having put IRAN @ 21D. That left me NATA_ for 35A and DE_BIES for 25D.I could. not.see. DERBIES for some reason and wondered (a) whether NATAL was in the Persian Gulf (answer:no.) and (b) what DELBIES might be. Finally figured out 25D (D'oh!) and that undominoed the problem.

Overall a good, Tuesday appropriate puzzle. Thanks, Messrs. Greene and Birnholz.

Two Ponies 10:20 AM  

Nice to have a Tuesday puzzle we can all B happy with. Pretty rare (but not mooing).
Thanks for sitting in and giving the place a good trashing.

I hope Rex has some good NZ stories to share.

Z 10:38 AM  

The entire cat language discussion reminded me of this great line from Fiona Apple:
"And you looked as sincere as a dog
Just as sincere as a dog does,
When it's the food on your lips with which it's in love."

My cat has two words in her vocabulary, "meow {feed me}" and "meow {let me outside so I can kill chipmunks}." She says both with great sincerity.

As for HABIB, I don't know the exact transliteration, but "Habibi" is often heard from parents in these parts. It roughly means "sweetie" or "honey" or some other similar parental endearment.

Lewis 10:48 AM  

Cool how the vowels progress through the theme answers. Good writup, Even, funny and informative. I liked those Archer clips.

Mr. R, I'll be happy to be immersed in your cheer once again...

Lewis 10:49 AM  

Hmm -- fyi, if you didn't know, even if you don't type any number on the captcha, your comment will still be saved...

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

My thoughts exactly on DURANT. Kevin has reached a point where we should be seeing him in the NYT crossword. Especially after the Olympics, where the casual sports fan will be introduced to him. Hook 'em, KD!

wordie 11:20 AM  

@Evan B, I had the same thought re the Archer series. My 25-year-old son introduced me to it and I love it! Great puzzle! Fun write-up!

archaeoprof 11:28 AM  

What? A fun and interesting Tuesday? When did this start?

Nice going, AMG!

@ChefBea: I like the idea that this puzzle is a shout-out to you.

Rob C 11:47 AM  

BYE was good in the SE corner, BYEBYE would have been great.

jae 12:17 PM  

What everyone else said. Solid enjoyable Tues. that was very easy. Lotsa of Bs just added to the charm.

@Orangeblossom -- It was Mr. Safire's quote, Agnew was just the dummy sitting on his knee.

Still mooing harks back to the 50s early 60s Rat Pack/Mad Men area where martinis and rare steak went hand in hand.

mac 12:22 PM  

Good Tuesday and funny write-up!
Only wrong idea was "muffin top" for "beer belly".

@JenCT: love that cat video.

jae 12:34 PM  

Oops, forgot to add Evan's write-up to the enjoyable part.

Banbrea Barba Michaels 12:36 PM  

@rob c
Ooooooooh!!! Right! BYEBYE would have been PERFECT with the BY.BY. Progression!!!!!

We already got a nice double theme today, BB phrases which I think would almost be enough, but then he goes and does the vowel thing for BOTH words!!!!!

So glad to get Evan's terrific writeup, I was almost afraid folks wouldn't notice that it wasn't just phrases with 2B or not to be alliteration!!!!
Five, with both words being parallel vowelwise, and in order , and lively! So that BYEBYE would havemade me faint!
The BBonus words, as others have mentioned, NABOB, HABIB, BAOBAB gave an extra dollop of subtheme atmosphere and were all just this side of difficult to make me feel happy and smart.

Loved that it started with FAQ, followed by JAMB and the Scrabblyness continued with 2 Xs 2 Qs...if SEX had been ZAX, my above faint would have have been elevated into a coma!

And IMLOVIN the pinpoint observations that there were no ? Clues, that BYE was the last word, and the subtleties about the differences of -ER words QUOTER vs ARCHER. Or CRASHER!

Evan, you were an excellent trash-er and didn't even have to re-explain your Natick solving technique!

So forgive my echolation of others comments today...but Such a good puzzle, so many keen observations and BAT didn't even have a baseball clue!!!

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

Thanks for all the kind words. (And sorry about QUOTER.)

Bidding farewell with "BYE" instead of "BYEBYE" was intentional, since Y is only "sometimes" a vowel. I was afraid it would be too subtle, but I'm glad to see so many people picked up on it!

- Andrew Greene

Carola 12:59 PM  

"...and sometimes 'y'" - Wow, Andrew Greene, you are just too good!

Z 1:25 PM  

I missed the vowel progression. Then I failed to notice BYE saying "ta ta." Now you are telling me I missed the sometime "y" subtlety. So much for feeling smart this morning.

joho 1:26 PM  

@Banbrea Barba Michaels ... ZAX! I had no idea. Looked it up to see what it is. Love learning new words!

Bird 1:29 PM  

Write-up: Great

Puzzle: Great

I smiled at 32A and 41A because this BIG BIRD (my full nickname) has a BEER BELLY.

RIP Sally Ride


mitchs 1:40 PM  

@Evan: Love VERBER = "one who verbs"

Henri Matisse 2:22 PM  

At least they didn't misspell my name! I would have flipped if 20A was MATISE or METISSE or MATESSE.

It's bad enough OLAV gets dissed.

Rob C 2:28 PM  

@Bird re: RIP Sally Ride
Your post got me wondering how many times Sally Ride has appeared in the NYT xword. Just looked it up on the database and found the results interesting.

The word RIDE has appeared 73 times and was only clued twice in honor of Sally-once in '97 and once in '94. Common word + Great person does not necessarily = lots of NYT puzzle references.

Also SALLY has appeared 9x, clued twice as Ride. Once in '01, once in '95.

The NYT puzzle has been Sally Ride free for 11 yrs. I would think somone of her stature deserves more.

Evan 2:28 PM  

Appreciate all the kind comments, folks. I may respond a little more later this evening, but for now, I'll just give you one tip: Like Andrew Greene and his hidden BYE message, I too have hidden a message somewhere in the write-up. Can you find it? It's hiding in plain sight. Might give you an extra laugh, too.

fergus 2:36 PM  

Would have liked to also have seen BATBOY, Clued from the tabloid hero/menace. Or the great Spinal Tap anthem.

fergus's enemy 2:39 PM  

Poor fergus...doesn't understand the theme.

ZenMonkey 2:53 PM  

"Talk about mudflaps, my girl's got 'em!"

Thanks, fergus, I'll be humming that all day.

I'm annoyed by "Echolocation-using mammal." "Mammal using echolocation" would fix that hyphenated monstrosity. (Yeah yeah, typesetting, blah blah blah kerning.)

My cats don't MEOW for food, but they do whine, yammer, howl, croak, squawk, quack, beep, and growl.

Great job on this, the final guest writeup!


Friend of all those mis-understood or mis-quoted 3:01 PM  

@Fergus's enemy - Where did he say "as a theme answer"?

fergus's enemy AND NOW Friend of all those mis-understood or mis-quoted's ARCH enemy 3:13 PM  

@Friend of all those mis-understood or mis-quoted

Good point. I hate when I'm wrong! :-)

fergus 3:13 PM  

I have an enemy? How exciting!


Zoologically inclined French actress

Critcal error maker in '86 series

Theory of universal origin

Kippy 3:16 PM  

Great writeup and fun puzzle. I didn't notice the theme until I read the writeup.

I liked the cluing for TORAH - "scroll in the ark" - rather like a "stroll in the park". Which is about like a Tuesday puzzle should be.

Friend of all those mis-understood or mis-quoted 3:17 PM  

Wow! I have an ARCH Enemy! How friggin exciting!


Random nonsequitor #1

Random nonsueqitor #2

Random nonsequitor #3

fergus 3:25 PM  

Being quite attuned to pronunciation, I loved the subtle shifts in the vowel sounds of each apparent matching pair. But yeah, I went rogue rather heedlessly.

(We could revisit an interesting quiz from the past, where similar or exactly the same pronunications indicate your likely regional origin. Was it Orange who suggested that elocution questionaire?)

Tita 3:36 PM  

@Evan...methinks I found your hidden message, but don't want to spoil it for others...

Clever boy... ;)

Though I am still in awe, as I reread your post, that you have cats that sometimes are [gasp!] not hungry...
A state in which no cat o'mine has ever known (or let on).

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

I would just like to say first that I enjoyed the steamy discussion late yesterday between our beloved Deb and Martin who tests Will's puzzles. Having once owned a home with a sauna, I agree with Deb. While you can pour water over the hot rocks to make the misery index higher, it is not necessary to add water to start sweating. A sauna is like Phoenix before all those lawns were added that increased the humidity. A steam bath is like a tropical forest during the rainy season.

Another nice write-up by the guest Evan.

As for this puzzle, it was a gem of a Tuesday. I liked the mini theme: BAT, BEN, BIT, BOK and BYE with the U supplied with BUG, otherwise known as the VW BEETLE....


Bird 4:00 PM  

@Rob C - I'm in total agreement

@Evan - Still searching . . .

sanfranman59 4:19 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)

Tue 7:23, 8:56, 0.83, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:21, 4:38, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium

Sam M. 5:05 PM  

@Evan - Yup, some of us know morse code, and what you've encoded in your BatMan write-up is the most disgusting thing I've ever read. You should be ashamed!

Bird 5:16 PM  

@Evan - Aha!

lawprof 5:42 PM  

While Wm. Safire might have dreamed up the memorable "nattering nabobs...." phrase, no one could have spat it out with more sneering vituperation than Sprio Agnew (whose name, by the way, anagrams out to "grow a penis"). Funny how, given today's poisonous political climate, Agnew seems alsmost statesman-like. Well...maybe not so funny.

On another (totally unrelated) point, I've been doing these puzzles now for decades and "Actress Thurman" is a common clue. It's become almost a point of honor that I cannot remember if it's UMA or UnA, and I now simply refuse to remember which it is. I just wait for the cross and fill in the M.

chefbea 5:52 PM  

@sam M what morse code??? where is it?? E-mail me

Tita 5:54 PM  

@Bird & retired_chemist...lol re: your BELLY remarks.

@Bird & Rob C - on the more somber note, yes, a puzzle re: the illustrious Dr. Ride would be a small but poignant tribute to a worthy scientist.
Maybe acme can co-construct with her buddy Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Another passing thuderstorm, another petrichor moment.

Sparky 6:25 PM  

Liked the puzzle and all the BBs buzzing around. Misspelled BoaBAB at first but then I always do. Overlooked the BYE till I came here.

Don't get the ARCHER clips, which should come as no surprise. Would someone do a spoiler around 10 P.M. and just tell me the message? Please.

Really nice Tuesday Mr. Greene. Enjoyable write up Evan. Thank you so much.

Sparky 6:28 PM  

@JenCT. Laughed at th cats. Flora and LouLou used to do the same thing before chasing all over the apartment. Thanks.

Sam M 6:49 PM  

@Chefbea - Just joking, implying that the parts of the batman story he redacted constituted his hidden message in the form of morse code.

John in ptown 7:28 PM  

Loved this puzzle - fun and interesting. I'm
Still laughing over the Spiro Agnew anagram remark above .

jberg 8:26 PM  

Rats, I didn't even see the vowel progression until I came here. I thought it wasn't much of a theme, but now I see that it is - so nice work! (And nice writeup, Evan!)

We had a black and white TV when my kids were of Sesame St age, so this character-color bit always throws me - but pretty easy from the context, anyway. My only problem is that for some reason I tried to squeeze in 'porkpies' instead of DERBIES - got that soon enough, though, and the rest was a breeze. As for whether I NEED a vacation - not any more, because I'm having it now!

Milford 8:40 PM  

Found the hidden message - nice!
Thanks for a great write-up, Evan. It was fitting that I had to use the Natick resolution to get me through the NABOB/BAOBAB cross on your day to sub!

Evan 9:29 PM  

@Sparky and others looking for my hidden message:

@Sam M told you where to look. Like I said, it's hiding in plain sight.

Z 9:42 PM  

@Evan - Comment redacted indeed.

Anonymous 10:51 PM  

Beautiful bauble today. But why a Z short? Is it that BAZ crossing ZEST is too much of a stretch?

r.alphbunker 11:06 PM  

Color #000098 would have given someone who doesn't know HTML a chance.

Dirigonzo 4:06 PM  

I hate not being clever enough to see the theme (although I forgot to look for one) or the hidden message in the write-up, and I did look for that! I also think I sould have discovered that anagram of Sprio Agnew long before it was pointed out here - I have to start paying closer attention to details.

As to the puzzle, I started off with 3 wrong down answers distributed evenly down the grid (Anger for ABASH up top, bowlerS for DERBIES in the middle and True for THAT on the bottom) - all easily sorted out with the crosses but it made for a pretty messy grid for a Tuesday. I needed all the crosses for BOK choy, diplomat HABIB and ex-Yankee TINO Martinez.

There was a tribute to the Tuskegee AIRMEN at the air show in Brunswick last weekend.

Dirigonzo 4:16 PM  

In re the hidden message, I found it and now that I'm feeling all smug about it I won't spoil it for any other syndilanders who may still be looking.

DMGrandma 4:59 PM  

Saw lots of B's, but didn't catch the vowel part of the theme until I came here. Only slow spots were misspelling BAOBoB, but that, HABIB and CATHODE all worked out from the crosses. A pretty smooth Tuesday. Now off to face the Captcha god and look up zax.

Captcha looks like putting Junior to bed: sakipo.

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