TUE 7-10-12 / Green Acres Con Man / Parseghian of Notre Dame / Riga Native

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Constructor: Chris A. McGlothlin

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: AND... — Down answers intersect with Across answers to form common phrases when the word "and" is inserted betwixt the two (as it's clued). If you want to get FAST and LOOSE, you could potentially argue that they form a "+" symbol, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Word of the Day: ARA (4D - "Parseghian of Notre Dame") —
Ara Raoul Parseghian (born May 21, 1923) is a former American football player and coach of Armenian descent. He served as the head football coach at Miami University (1951–1955), Northwestern University (1956–1963), and the University of Notre Dame (1964–1974), compiling a career college football record of 170–58–6. During his 11 seasons as head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, known popularly as "the Era of Ara," Parseghian tallied a mark of 95–17–4 record for a .836 winning percentage. His teams of 1966 and 1973 won national titles. Parseghian was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1980.
Maybe this wasn't the WATD for you, but for a guy who doesn't follow sports (much less college football) and who immediately thinks of bad jokes about "his face sure rings a bell"... this one got me good. I suppose it's better than the alternative clue: "a southern constellation situated between Scorpius and Triangulum Australe."

• • •

It's been a week now, so I'm sure you all know the drill: Rex is in a magical land where it's technically tomorrow and the sheep outnumber people around 8:1, so a group of us have volunteered to fill in (no pun intended) for him until his return. I'm Brian Grosz, the guy on the right who dresses respectably and doesn't clutter his skin with tattoos. And while you've probably never heard the music I make, you've most likely heard my voice reading scripts on TV - which, obviously, qualifies me to write up today's puzzle.

• • •

As with most early week puzzles, I was expecting the theme to appear in the longest answers in the grid, but that prejudice was immediately shattered by the trifecta of cluing in 13A, 14A and 15A. Yes, I grumbled - loud enough to rouse the attention of my better half who was grossly entrenched in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. Since I transitioned from paper to my iPad, all that scrolling bumps up my solving time and I was worried about what lay ahead.

Fortunately, things fell into place fairly quickly. Unfortunately, I had been hoping for some kind of pun, alliteration, spoonerism or a even a fleeting modicum of cleverness... but what can I expect from a Tuesday puzzle? A sweater?

Theme answers:
  • ON THE SPOT (2D and 13A) - THEN and THERE
  • FAMILY (7D and 14A) - KITH and KIN
  • SNACK OPTION (28D and 37A) - CHIPS and DIP
  • MEAGER MEAL (31D and 38A) - BREAD and WATER
  • LODGER'S FEE (48D and 59A) - ROOM and BOARD
  • ALL AROUND (51D and 60A) - NEAR and FAR
  • ONE WAY TO PLAY (54D and 61A) - FAST and LOOSE
Nothing too crazy here for a Tuesday. Cross-fill easily got me through any trivia that was beyond me. The thematic symmetry was certainly appreciated from a construction standpoint, seeing as how the typical "long fill is the theme" axiom was broken. I also appreciated that all theme-related answers led off with the Down clue. I'm not familiar with McGlothlin's work, but I'd like to see his later-week offerings and I might become a FAN [22A].

(Also, I can't ever say the words "FAST and LOOSE" without think of the long-running Led Zeppelin fanzine, Tight But Loose - a fantastic way to describe Jimmy Page's guitar playing.)

That said, anyone who attempts to use the term AOLER [56A - Certain Netizen] from here on out will promptly be dragged into the street, covered in bacon grease and set upon by a pack of vicious, underfed Dobermans. My (legally blind) grandmother is the last person I know who uses AOL to access the internet and even she would never refer to herself in such a fashion. I'll let it slide today, but this faux-cabulary will not be tolerated in the future.


  • ATLAS [1A - Rockefeller Center Statue] — I've been a New Yorker for most of my life and, as a result, I avoid tourist traps like Rockefeller Center. That said, ATLAS is not the first statue to come to mind; I immediately think of the Prometheus statue in the skating rink.
  • LETT [3D - Riga Native] — "Riga... yeah... that's in Latvia. SLAV? Nope..."
  • GIN [17D - Play stopping declaration] — This shouldn't have thrown me for a loop, but it did. I spent 12 years of my life in the theater studying Shakespeare and look where it got me: misled on a crossword puzzle, trying to fit EXEUNT into a three-letter space.
  • HANEY [18A - "Green Acres" Con Man Mr. ____"] — Crosses are the only thing that saved me here. I can whistle you the theme song but I can also guarantee you that I've never seen a single episode. Should you care to learn more about The Hustler of Hooterville, you can click here.
  • REED ORGAN [57A - Harmonium] — A friend of mine owns a hand-operated/portable harmonium, so I really wanted this to be PUMP ORGAN. It's a fascinating instrument to play (and isn't nearly as terrifying as an accordion with all of its buttons and associations to guys named Yankovic). If you want to get technical, a melodica could also be classified as a REED ORGAN.
And on that note, this inked-up nerd who owns 12 harmonicas, 2 melodicas and a child-size accordion should leave you with a video from one of my childhood heroes, Weird Al...

Signed, Brian Grosz, Licensed Reverend and First-Class Misanthrope.


jae 1:13 AM  

This was tougher for me than it was for Brian. Felt more like a Wed. Bottom center slowed me way down. Was unsure of spelling PROVENANCES and the NEAR/ FAR combo did not leap to mind quickly. Plus, if you don't know who Michael CERA is you might have problems here.

WTF word: SKEG

OK but a tad too tough for a Tues.

Modesty Blasé 1:13 AM  

Hi 'Brian'. You're obviously Rex's 'ganger, right? And as I'm sure you watch Doctor Who, this won't be lost on you.

Enjoyable write-up of a decent Tuesday sweater/puzzle.
KITH and SKEG next to each other was no fun for me as I've never surfed or heard the Scottish (?) expression.

retired_chemist 1:24 AM  

Nice writeup, Brian.

Puzzle easy-medium here. I do not like internally referential cluing, but that's a matter of taste. You needed a few crosses for each pair, but once you had those the answers were all easy. Just a bit time-consuming.

Some fun stuff - PROVENANCES (maybe not a Tuesday word), REED ORGAN, and ETHAN. Little crap IMO.

Not a NYer (or, for that matter, an AOLer) so I Did. Not. Know. what statue was in Rock Center. But the crosses were so easy, so who cares?

Thanks, Chris. Good one.

e.a. 1:34 AM  

faux-cabulary! LMAO

PurpleGuy 1:42 AM  

Brian - great write up. Really made my night and made me laugh.

I enjoyed the puzzle. figured the theme with THEN and THERE, clinched with KITH and KIN. Others came right away with the down clue.

I've spent numerous Christmases and summers in Hawaii, but did not know SKEG. Would have been my WOTD.

FAST and LOOSE was my favorite. Thought of my friend @Jesser right away.Hope he is OK. Miss ya.

Had REED ORGAN, then changed to HAND ORGAN. Bah. NEAR and FAR brought it back.

It's way too hot here in Phoenix to think of a sweater, unless you are referring to the person.
You all realize that sweat is fat crying !!!

Thanks again Brian. Hope you come back soon.

Happy Tuesday everyone.

Shanti -

syndy 2:02 AM  

While I'm sure ACME will recognize this puzzle for the archetechural feat that it is it sure wasn't much fun to slog through.sometimes just because you CAN do something doen't mean you should;and if you do feel you must how about a little pizzazz?thanks Brian thou misantropic baritone much more entertaining than the puzzle!

chefwen 2:25 AM  

Had a few choice words to say after seeing See 2 down, See 7 down, See 11D. No one home, so my rant was totally wasted on my 4 legged companions who just huffed at me. After easily getting the first few, my rant was even wasted on me.

PROVENANCES was a wee bit of a struggle, HANEY, crosses only, and GHOst before GHOUL.

Easy/medium for me also.

Great write up, thanks Brian.

Evan 3:06 AM  

Brian, I took a listen to "Dogs of Winter - Beneath the Fold" from your website. Sounds great! I'll be sure and check out some more of your songs later.

Like @jae, this played harder for me than normal. So many long, one-word answers like SERRATES, RETARGETS, CHEESIEST, and PROVENANCES. I've written before about how one-word answers tend to be trickier for me than multi-word answers. My theory is that if you can figure out one of the small words in a multi-word answer, that may trigger your recall of all the other words in the phrase and hence you'd get the whole thing. For example, if 38-Down was giving you trouble at first, but you could get WENT----, then you'd have a pretty decent shot at figuring out the missing SOLO. But if it's one word, that trigger might not be there, not unless RETA----- sets off RETARGETS in one's head (which it didn't in mine, not without getting most of the other crosses). And the P in PROVENANCES/PABA was a complete shot in the dark for me, but I got it right.

When there weren't long, one-word answers, there were entries that I wasn't able to parse correctly and thought they were one-letter words, like REED ORGAN -- the clue "harmonium" just didn't evoke an instrument right away, so I thought it was a pretentious word for "peace and harmony." My thought at first: How on earth does one achieve a permanent state of REEDORGAN?

My favorite initial mistake: When I dropped in BAN confidently at 22-Across, that gave me the beginning of BILE SERVERS. I suppose those electronic depositories could be full of bile, if they're from the YouTube comment section.

Evan 3:11 AM  

By the way, @jae, I hadn't seen until late yesterday that you cited me on Saturday as a small source of help for resolving Natick square problems. Thanks! I don't think my strategy is really all that unique, though perhaps it is slightly less scatter-shot than throwing down every letter in the alphabet once and seeing what sticks best.

And yes, even with my strategy in place, I too got that same square wrong in the Saturday puzzle. IGY when I GO would have been a perfectly acceptable entry?? Really?!

NancyKav 7:20 AM  

Did not know SKEG or KITH, so DNF (a Tuesday!!). So demoralizing . . .

dk 7:31 AM  

See 2 Stars (🌟🌟).

Hopping and skipping around the grid and I wind up feeling like the bunny from that other Glenn Close movie: potted in boiling water. This puzzle is perhaps the CHEESIEST Tuesday ever.

The crossing of the "ands" is interesting but the aforementioned hopping is enough to make ATLAS shrug.

Mr. Haney and Brian's write-up saved the day. Next to Arnold (the pig) Mr. H made Green Acres delightful for stoners of a certain age.

Purchased software to clean up the duplicates on my iTunes and now I get to reload about 30% of the music as the software scrubbed a little too hard. A real pain when your library is measured in Terabytes. Fortunately I backed up to a FILESERVER.

exaudio 7:39 AM  

How does FAN (22A) mean strike out?

orangeblossomspecial 7:41 AM  

@jae and @NancyKav, SKEG is the tail fin of the surfboard, the part that gives it guidance. Surfers always sit around and talk about the design and length of the board's SKEG. Not a clue for HODADS, a word from last week's puzzle.

I'm not a big fan of linked clues to begin with, so this felt like slogging through mud.

Here's the original Yankovic, Frankie Yankovic, with his Yanks.

Z 7:48 AM  

Easy? Not here. I ran the alphabet on -OLER and wondered what a pOLER might be on the web. PABA finally occurred to me to fix that little issue. I also had a vowel issue with PROV-NANCES, even after needing most of the other crosses to get that far. SHARD was my first guess, but the "Var." made me question that A. The only other writeover was GHOst to GHOUL, but the blankety blank "and" phrases did not all occur to me right away. THEN and THERE as well as NEAR and FAR both took awhile to dredge up.


Nice write-up. I didn't realize Rex had so many Tats or was a ZZTop fan.

Zed 7:51 AM  

@exaudio - to FAN is a baseball term synonymous with striking out.

exaudio 7:54 AM  

Thanks, Zed. Never heard it before.

joho 8:12 AM  

First margin note in last night was "cross referencing = beyond annoying." But when I got what was going on, the theme was pretty easy to see and solve, so not as annoying in the end.

The hardest crossing answer by FAR for me was FAR and NEAR. My favorite was FAST and LOOSE. Most difficult long answer was PROVENANCES.

@Brian, great write up! And, guess what? I did circle all eight (8!) theme answers to make little crosses all over the puzzle! One of those weird and wonderful moments was when I was circling DEATH and TAXES Andrea Mitchell on TV was saying at exactly the same instant: DEATH and TAXES!

I really did not like SHERD.

Loved the clue, "School in the making?" for ROE.

@exaudio ... think baseball. I think batters fan out, right?

Thanks, Chris McGlothlin! Once I got over having to do all that cross referencing I liked it.

JenCT 8:16 AM  

Never heard FAN used that way, either.

Lots of writeovers for me; definitely Medium difficulty.

Hey Brian: nice tats & great writeup.

That Led Zep video gave me the spins...

ArtO 8:31 AM  

Since day of week and time to complete determine difficulty there is no way this rates EASY.

Further enlightenment on FAN for the sports challenged...to fan is to swing and miss in striking out - I.e. instead of looking at a pitch the umpire determines crosses the strike zone and which usually causes the batter to give him a look of "you must be kidding."

voice over got back 8:36 AM  

@brian: since you're a V/O talent, you really should have read review and submitted it as an audio link.

at the very least you could have started it, "in a land where crosswords were rare and difficult to review, one man stands alone..."

or ended it with "member FDIC..."

btw and quite apropos, the only thing truly memorable about green acres was mr. haney's voice.

Kevin 8:41 AM  

Tougher for me than some others - PROVENANCES gave me a lot of trouble, and I didn't know some of the more obscure answers like SKEG, PABA (what the hell?), and ATRA (although I know I've seen that more than a few times in puzzles).

jackj 8:43 AM  

Clever Chris McG, he of the Times Friday puzzle of last July that crammed ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM into 11 spaces, surfaces with a charmingly effective theme that has nine phrases, eighteen words, beautifully placed in the grid and all joined by “and” to give us the likes of KITH and KIN, FAST and LOOSE, CHIPS and DIPS and six more.

In strong support of the theme, we are treated to some special cluing; much of it a bit difficult for a Tuesday puzzle, maybe, but worth toughing it out for such pleasant surprises as RIGHTTOVOTE, PROVENANCES and WENTSOLO.

ATLAS, representing the Rockefeller Center statuary at 1 across will likely be remembered by some as the huge bronze that many, at the time, complained looked too much like the hated Italian fascist Benito Mussolini.

The true star at Rockefeller Center, though, is actually Prometheus, Paul Manship’s classical work in which the Titan delivers fire to mankind. This monumental work is the one that overlooks the ice skating rink and reportedly is the second most photographed sculpture in NYC, behind only the Statue of Liberty.

Some of the smile inducing items today include learning that those surfer dudes rely on a SKEG to guide their ride and also seeing two unlikely entries, ITIS for “Indeed” (not the normal “Suffix for a disease”) and SOTHE as a Cronkite-ish answer to “And______story goes”. A little crossword humor to brighten one’s solve.

Another feather in Chris McGlothlin’s cap; may he earn many more!

Sue McC 8:48 AM  

Liked the write-up, did not like the puzzle. At. All. Hated the sight of all of the references to other clues before I even started. Not a FAN of the clue for FAN. Too many CHEESy three-letter fillers to be fun in my book. Blech.

Carola 8:59 AM  

A delightful Tuesday morsel for me. Will your ROOM and BOARD include CHIPS and the CHEESIEST DIP or just BREAD and WATER? Besides the inventive theme, I liked the impressive PROVENANCES and the new-to-me REED ORGAN.

Brian, thanks for the write-up with the great clips and the fruitless search for the "exeunt."

Heron 9:14 AM  

Hi Brian!

Seeing you guest-blog for Rex brought a first-time commenter out of the wood-work! Imagine my surprise when the worlds of tattooing and crosswords collide! Used to seeing you over on Needles and Sins. Good to see you here.

Had a little trouble with the west and south-west, myself. Little tricky for a Tuesday.

Loren Muse Smith 9:28 AM  

Thanks for the entertaining write-up, Brian, and for the gem "faux-cabulary!"

I’m extremely impatient (something I wish I could change about myself), so I almost just didn’t do this puzzle. A sea of cross-referencing clues is, for me, really off-putting. But, because of this blog and because I want to participate, I did solve it, or so I thought. I never noticed that I had “shard” instead of SHERD. Huh?

The complete and utter symmetry of the theme answers is impressive, complete with CHIPS and DIP right smack dab in the middle. I also appreciate the three odd vowel combos of OENO, OESTE, and ROE. And how fun is it that GHOUL and “ghost” have five letters and the same beginning? We had that sneaky answer very recently, right? And it begins and ends with a kind of blade. Cool.

Forcing myself to “finish,” though, felt a bit like taking my medicine. @jackj my only “smile inducing moment” this morning was “daffy duo?” and that just was not quite the spoonful of sugar I needed.

If the longer 11’s and 8’s had a bit more zip, I would have liked it more.

I feel bad for the people out there who eagerly anticipate easily-accessible Mondays and Tuesdays; I thought it was a pretty darn hard puzzle.

mac 9:31 AM  

Hi Brian! I think I met you at the time of that picture with Rex. Great write-up.

I thought this puzzle was really sticking it to the online solvers - it isn't so bad in the printed version. This time some of the long, beautiful words helped me out: serrates, provenances (plenty of problems with that in the NY art scene), right to vote and retargets. Sherd looked weird, hadn't noticed the Var. in the clue.

Very funny, lipo between chips and dip and cheesiest!

Nice medium Tuesday to me.

Tobias Duncan 9:43 AM  

In the photo, Rex is giving our guest blogger a version of the "Hover Hand" called the "One Finger".It's probably because he does not follow sports.

9:41 AM

Matthew G. 9:45 AM  

Like Loren, I thought this fell pretty clearly on the Challenging side of the Tuesday spectrum. While it is not at all difficult compared to a late-week puzzle, I am hard-pressed to believe that anyone could finish this faster than their usual Tuesday time. From unexpected spellings like SHERD and LETT to the time it takes to look at all the cross-referenced clues, this puzzle is built to slow you down.

Also, I did not like it. I had to laugh when one of the pairings was DEATH and TAXES, because the first thing I thought when I looked at the clue list was that it reminded me of a 1040 form. Count me among those who have a limited appetite for cross-references. I was worried that by the time I finished this puzzle, Will Shortz would know my adjusted gross income.

I really flailed in the NW, where LETT/ARA/GIN/RETARGETS took forever to piece together. Considering that "Latvian" is the more common demonym for people from Latvia, and that the word "Lett" is sufficiently obscure that doesn't even appear in Latvia's Wikipedia entry, I'm thinking I'm not the only one who was baffled by LETT. Perhaps it's crosswordese that has appeared before, but I don't ever remember seeing it in the last couple of years.


lawprof 9:46 AM  

Casey Stengel once described a pitcher as "Fast but slow." For me, this puzzle was similar, easy but slow.

No idea about SKEG, HANEY, THOM, MAXIE, CERA, but easily gettable from crosses.

Two writeovers: FIbEropticS/FILESERVER and sAgas/YARNS.

Cringed when I first saw the cross-referenced clues, but smooth sailing after getting the first two: THEN & THERE, MEET & GREET.

All in all, an enjoyable Tuesday puzzle.

Matthew G. 9:50 AM  

In the context of strikeouts, the word FAN is more often used as a transitive verb, from the pitcher's perspective. E.g., "Justin Verlander fanned nine batters over seven strong innings." It can be used from the batter's perspective too--e.g., "Alex Rodriguez fanned at the pitch"--but that is less common.

chefbea 9:52 AM  

Hand up for not liking cross referencing. And hand up for WOTD=skeg.

Nice write up.

Trouble spelling provenance cuz of sherd. Wanted shard

joho 10:01 AM  

I forgot to mention that Michael CERA is fantastic in "Juno." Love that movie.

John V 10:07 AM  

Put me in the challenging for Tuesday camp. Got everything okay, but slow.

Doesn't Michael Cera have a sister Kay? Know her, never heard of him. Any relation to Ernani? I thought the crossings in the South were a tad Natick-like.

Anyhoo, back to the Charlotte miasma after a glorious week in VT. Love Charlotte, but this weather is somthin' else.

GILL I. 10:10 AM  

What a strange Tuesday puzzle. It felt out of place - like it was calling for a home.
Like others, PROVENANCES just took longer than I like to get. I had PRO(geny) then the rest remained empty. I never know if we get ARFS, yips meow or grrr. Didn't know CERA and 46D could be just about any school in the whole world!
Like @Loren, I finished it so I could come here and read the comments.
Thanks @jackj for making me appreciate the puzzle a tad more and @Brian for the write-up.

Frank N. Stein 10:13 AM  

SKEG bad!


MaryRoseG 10:17 AM  

Faux-cabulary - my new favorite word....esp when playingWords with Friends. My first thought with this puzzle was how to cram Prometheus into 5 spaces....some challenging Rebus, no doubt. As a NYer (not an AOLer) who avoids that neighborhood, I always think of Atlas as being across from St. Pats, not in Rock Ctr proper.

Pete 10:19 AM  

Gotta love it when a guy who, if walking towards me at midnight in Alphabet City, would scare the crap out of me puts forth an amusing, articulate, insightful analysis. Kind of like the puzzle, where cross-referenced clues make me walk to the other side of the street, only to find an equally scary cross-referenced clue there, only to, at the end, find the puzzle to be an enjoyable amusement.

BTW Brian, with a last name like Groz, why did you waste time trying to be a Shakespearean actor? You had to know you would end up as a heavy metal musician, no? There was any choice with a last name like that?

Two Ponies 10:28 AM  

I liked the theme answers but not the fill.
Sherd is ridiculous.
One nit to pick. In the phrase "kith and kin" doesn't it mean "friends and family"? The clue just says family.
Great write-up Brian. Thanks.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Clue for 7D is plain wrong. Only Kin means family; Kith is neighbors, friends, acquaintances etc. Hence "kith & kin" lines up literally with "friends & family".

lawprof 11:30 AM  

Let's just see how nit-picky we can get. Try this: despite the impressive symmetry of the theme answers, the crossing letters of every theme are vowels--all except one, the "s" at FAST/LOOSE. The horror! The horror!

Christy 11:33 AM  

Man, this constructor had better be thanking his lucky stars that Rex isn't here to review this. Sorry, y'all, but this puzzle is just the opposite of fun. 18 cross-references? AOLER? LETT? SKEG? SHERD? And then there's the ITIS, OENO, SOTHE. I'm sorry, but this was a terrible puzzle. Where's the joy? Where's the creativity? Anyone can find word pairs that share a letter.

Sorry, my print subscription access to Premium Crosswords just ran out, and I'm grumpy.

KRMunson 12:02 PM  

Agree with all - challenging for a Tuesday. But SO worth coming here for Brian's sparkling write-up! Love the tattoo video from Weird Al - and ditto "faux-cabulary".

Just learned the word "meme" and I expect I'll see it in future Xwords. I looked it up on dictionary.com and still have no idea what it means. Can anybody give me a simple definition and usage example??

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Dude.....you're in the left

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Sorry....you are on the left. Not... in the left. Darned smart phones.

Carola 12:56 PM  

The Oxford English Dictionary on "kith":

kith, n.
1. Knowledge, acquaintance with something; knowledge communicated, information. Obs.
2. Knowledge how to behave; rules of etiquette. Obs.
3. The country or place that is known or familiar; one's native land, home; hence gen. country, region, quarter. Obs.
4. The persons who are known or familiar, taken collectively; one's friends, fellow-countrymen, or neighbours; acquaintance; in later use sometimes confused with kin: see 5. Obs.
5. Phr. kith and kin: orig. Country and kinsfolk (see 3); in later use, Acquaintance and kinsfolk, one's friends and relatives; in mod. use often taken merely as a pleonastic phrase for Kinsfolk, relatives, family connections.

Masked and Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Puz was OK by me me. @KRM: was that in a puz somewhere? Was it in this puz in some alternate universe, like a lot of WOTD's lately? Confuses the M and A one. MEME = What the Higgs particle shouted, when God was choosin' up sides.

Too bad they didn't feature the renowned "Sherd and Skeg" pairing, in one of those crisscross jobbers. 31 would've rised up from that alternate future universe that he's been holed up in. Heard of S-curve, but S-herd and S-keg are new ones. Possibly they are from the Suniverse.

Fave pairing: "Hue and Ghoul".

jae 1:28 PM  

@Evan -- I realize your Natick resolution strategy is not entirely novel but it was much better articulated than my previous mantra which was "If it looks weird it's probably wrong."

@loren -- less than 30 seconds into this one I was saying "Oh, s**t, not one of these on a Tues.!"

Evan 1:32 PM  


Someone else could probably give you a better definition, but I define "meme" as a user-generated idea that achieves widespread popularity through social media like YouTube and Twitter and other various websites. Think of it like a portmanteau of "media" and "theme."

For example, if you've ever seen a LOLcats picture with playfully misspelled words, that's a meme. Or if you've seen a Rickroll'd video, where the Rick Astley song "Never Gonna Give You Up" is inserted into different situations, that's another meme.

One of the more popular memes on YouTube comes from a clip of the German movie "Downfall," where Hitler angrily berates his generals in his bunker. Many users have made their own comical videos where the regular subtitles in that clip are switched out to fit different scenarios, like Hitler getting angry that the Dallas Cowboys lost in the playoffs, or that the user's favorite TV show was canceled. The concept of creating videos based on that clip of Hitler in order to fit whatever situation the user chooses is a meme.

Bird 1:41 PM  

Loved the write-up.
Liked the puzzle.
Hated SHERD. This "variation" is a lousy excuse to finish contructing the puzzle. SHERD?!
LETT and AOLER are also ugly.

Lewis 1:50 PM  

@briangrosz -- the exeunt comment was very funny and the writeup a beautiful blend of wit, humor, snarl, and puzzle elucidation.

SHERD? Really? Are we allowed to do that, make words like leoterd?

John V 1:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reggie Jackson 1:58 PM  

Re: FAN . . .
In old-time baseball slang, to strike out swinging, i.e. to swing at the ball and miss for strike three. As a transitive verb, this describes the pitcher's action of throwing a pitch that makes the batter swing and miss for strike three. As an intransitive verb, it can describe the batter's action of swinging and missing for strike three.

Baseball Fan 2:25 PM  

@Reggie and others - we also use FAN on strikes 1 and 2, though not nearly as often as on strike 3.

PS. Do you really think Andy Pettitte and A-Rod should not be voted to the HOF, if placed on the ballot? And that Kirby Pucket and Gary Carter were not HOF material?

Wood 2:38 PM  

I thought Brian said he was the one WITHOUT tattoos.

First ever DNF on a Tuesday. Could not see RETARGETS even with RE__R__TS. Did not help that missing crosses were LETT, ARA and SKEG. Tried REDIRECTS and RESTRICTS to no avail. Harrumph.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

NO WAY this was an "easy" for a Tuesday.
"Medium" at a minimum.

Anoa Bob 3:17 PM  

Don't know why, I don't own an antique and don't plan on ever owning one---unless I become one myself---but I love to watch "Antiques Roadshow" on PBS, so PROVENANCES went in super easy. The crossing SHERD was just plain ugly.

I've seen SKEG in xwords before. It's a very common structure on the underside of watercraft, from surfboards, wind surfers, kayaks, rowboats, to ocean going ships. It's like a mini-keel on the aft end that provides directional stability and can also serve as a place to hang the rudder.

fergus 3:35 PM  

Very likely that SFMan's ratings will be on the difficult side, especially for the top 100. I, for one, get very tangled with cross-referencing. Don't care for it much in regular puzzles, and even less when it's the centerpiece.

PROVENNANCE is just the source or origin; yet there must be some jargon that uses it as Ownership history. Did not like.

Wiki 4:09 PM  

Provenance, from the French provenir, "to come from", refers to the chronology of the ownership or location of a historical object.[1] The term was originally mostly used for works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of fields, including science and computing. Typical uses may cover any artifact found in archaeology, any object in paleontology, certain documents (such as manuscripts), or copies of printed books. In most fields, the primary purpose of provenance is to confirm or gather evidence as to the time, place, and—when appropriate—the person responsible for the creation, production, or discovery of the object. This will typically be accomplished by tracing the whole history of the object up to the present. Comparative techniques, expert opinions, and the results of scientific tests may also be used to these ends, but establishing provenance is essentially a matter of documentation.

Reggie Jackson 4:14 PM  

@Baseball Fan - When Andy and A-Rod retire, they will have the numbers to be considered for HOF contention, but those numbers can be considered tainted because they admitted to using roids during their career. I love them like brothers and I was only expressing my opinion. Kirby and Gary were very good players, but were they outstanding enough to be in the Hall? I don't think so.

fergus 4:25 PM  

Objecting to Ownership part. Seems overly specific, and thereby misleading. My big RHD (which I believe to be WS's ultimate source)says nothing of Ownership. To me, Provenance also has the connotation of creation that didn't start with anyone owning said object. Of course, I'm not saying the other uses are wrong -- merely that it struck discord with my sense of Clue/ANSWER pairing.

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

AROD and Petitte admitted using steroids. They should never be allowed in the Hall. Pete Rose is the one that should be allowed in.

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

A-Rod and Andy used steroids when they steroids were not banned. Let them in.

Anonymous 4:40 PM  


Quit the moralizing 4:41 PM  

Petitte didn't use steroids, he used HGH.

Neither ARod or Petitte broke a single rule of MLB. Petitte may have broken a law in LA, but ARod didn't even do that, he took the 'roids in The Dominican, where who knows if it were legal or not.

It ain't cheating if it ain't against the rules. MLB *loved* the bulked up gorillas who brought fans back to MLB with the home run chases.

chefbea 5:13 PM  

Here's a good game to play


Joel M 5:27 PM  

I'm not exactly a crossword pro, but "sherd" really bothers me. And can we just say that Will Shortz is the most out of touch human for allowing so many AOL references? It seems like there's one each week.

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

easy? Really? I thought there was some serious drek in here. kith and kin? Ski goes with bunny or jump? Scholarly org is an inst? Maybe I don't live in the right region or the right century....

syndy 6:25 PM  

@WOOD absolutely! Brian is the pink shirted individual,the other chap went walkabout.

brian 6:45 PM  

Gang... my comment about the picture was (supposed to be) a joke. I am the man on the left who has subjected himself to 90+ hours under the machine. The professorial hepcat on the right is your esteemed, albeit vacationing, host.

It was my original intent to rank this an EASY-MEDIUM simply because of the time it took to complete, due in no small part to all of the cross-referencing. But, at the end of the day (outside of SHERD - which I knew would be crap upon seeing "var.') I had no major stumbling blocks, so I went with EASY.

Apparently this Brooklyn Boy (who's friends released an album called KITH AND KIN) knows too many surfers at Rockaway Beach. SKEG was a soft underhand lob for me.

retired_chemist 7:57 PM  

@Lewis - SHERD is fine. The dictionary defines it as a short form of POTSHERD.

Tita 8:30 PM  

Thought the theme fun for a Tuesday, though maybe easy enough for a Monday.

ATLAS is the first statue that comes to my mind, as my father worked in the building behind it at the Portuguese Consulate.

As to AOLER, it has now become a badge of honor...and btw, you would be surprised at who in our own small xword world still is an AOLER...I won't spill those beans.

Has anyone mentioned the reverse-theme answer - 44A Food & Shelter? I liked that one.
(sorry - getting here far too late. Will read comments later...apologies for any dupes...)

Liked ANTIC, scareed that my brain bubbled HANEY ot the top in less than 1 second, think that a REPOTted plant can remain in it's original spot, ETHAN Allen has a highway here and the furniture store is hq'd here.

Thanks Mr. McG, And MFC (Misanthrope First-Class)

Rex Parker 9:40 PM  

Just saying 'hey.' Hey.


P.S. I haven't done an NYT puzzle in days, but / and I approve this write-up.

KRMunson 9:41 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous - "Meme" was the WOTD in an alternative universe - MINE. Not in the puzzle. I just knew I could count on my friends in Rexland to help me figure it out.

@Evan - your definition of "meme" really helped. It was far better than the dictionary.com definition. Thank you!!

Z 9:42 PM  

@brian 6:45 - Commenters all realize that everything on the Rex Parker blog is divinely inspired and, therefore, literally true. To call such truth into question with heretical lies like, "The professorial hepcat on the right is your esteemed, albeit vacationing, host," puts your immortal crossword soul in peril.

Tita 9:58 PM  

@Anoa Bob - love your Roadshow comment...and your SKEG definition.
SKEG - another example of surprise at wheelhouse differences - this was one I didn't have to think about. Must be all those years of windsurfing.

Reading through all the comments made me appreciate the puzzle, and the blogger even more.
Oh yeah - that's why I come here!! ;)

Continue to enjoy, Rex!

Clueless in Texas 11:21 PM  

Mr. Haney always was creepy to me.

Enjoyed the puzzle once I finally figured out the pairing theme. Enjoyed the write-up even more--especially "faux-cabulary"! I love that! Hope it's your original coinage, Mr. Brian, as I will be given you credit when I definitely use it in the future! Thanks for a great write-up.

(P.S. I wanted it to be a [57A] pump organ, too, as I have never seen another kind!)

pk 11:26 PM  

Great write-up, Brian! Just a tad of snarkiness, which we all miss, b/c ya know this puzzle was stupid. I can think of a different "s" word, but I won't post it. Rex would not have been as kind as you, but then again, he's not solving right now, so he doesn't know what we are dealing with here!

Acme 12:53 AM  

@clueless in TX,
Faux-cabulary exists as a dice word game (see @chef bea 5:13pm link above) but tattoo guy used it so perfectly and introduced many here to the word/concept, so he should still get props for it!

sanfranman59 1:40 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)

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)

Definitely not an easy Tuesday by the numbers.

Anonymous 1:42 AM  

.thanks for sharing

rain forest 1:57 PM  

Nice to see Sanfranman's stats on this one. It was definitely challenging pour moi. No clue on the statue, and I was sure the razor was a Trak (progenitor of the Trak II--wrong!), so the NW was left blank while I tackled the rest of the puzzle, very slowly. The gin/fan combo inexplicably remained unfilled for far too long, and even with AO-ER, I was too stupid to think of AOLER. Actually thought that AORTA would go, not realizing what a "netizen" was. In the end, I got it, but in an embarrassingly long time, and I am one of the few who enjoy cross-referenced clues, probably because I am not interested in whether I whiz through a puzzle or get bogged down. So, a fine job by Chris and by Brian.

Ginger 2:03 PM  

The multitude of cross-referenced clues are painful when solving on line, but not a problem on paper. My only write over was hop for SKI, though I delayed filling in GHOUL and CHEESIEST until I verified they were right from the crosses. SKEG just popped up from I know not where. IMO, PROVENANCES, RIGHTTOVOTE, SERRATES and REEDORGAN (wanted mouthORGAN but it didn't fit) are definitely not Tuesday words.

Enjoyed the write-up, @Brian, here in the TW (timewarp) Zone. phrase by @Diri.

I'm off for a week in Vegas, wish me luck!

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Not easy for me. SHERD, PROVENANCE and REEDORGAN are all "huh?"s to me. I eventually got the bottom by thinking of that scene in The Hustler when Fast Eddie first gets a shot in the rematch with Fats: "How should I play this one, Bert? Should I play it safe? That's how you always taught me. Well, here we go: FAST and LOOSE. One ball, corner pocket."

Nicely done theme, but oh, that fill! AOLER and EFS both deserve to be taken out and shot.

DMGrandma 3:22 PM  

I'm with those who don't like hunting out cross-referenced clues. That said, I tend to ignore them until they more-or-less solve themselves. And, most of these did, only leaving me hanging for a bit when I wanted FAR,s companion to be wide.
Learned a word today, or at least how to spell one. Living in surfer's paradise, I've always called a surfboard fin a SKaG, so one write over.
My final letter was the A in MAXIE. That square was my natick, but A seemed a better fit than I.
Hotter than hot again, so think puzzle will suffice for exercise.

Dirigonzo 5:26 PM  

My "Bit of tomfoolery" was a PRANK for a while and I wanted the patriot and furniture guy to be naTHAN, until I ran out of boxes.

Mini computer theme, with the intrepid AOLER (who's a legally blind granny)SCROLLSBY some offers while looking for TRAVELDATES on Expedia.com which has all the info on its FILESERVERS, all of which is made possible by the CHIPS in the motherBOARD of her laptop. Go granny, go!

@DMGrandma - none of the above is intended as disrespect to you; it was Brian who mentioned the blind granny. Also, I saw a SKaG on a surf board once and it was not a pretty sight.

wcutler 9:13 PM  

You guys are SO fussy. I came here to see what the regulars would say, expecting to see kudos to the constructor, and am blown away. Here were nine easy but cute theme clues (or 18, depending how you count them), and almost no trite overused clues or answers. OK, there was one - aoler, and sure enough, it got singled out.

This was very fun, and I'm sorry that I see it a month late when I'm sure no-one is reading this blog any more.

Dirigonzo 9:54 PM  

@wcutler - many of us syndilanders, as we who do the puzzle 5 weeks later call ourselves, will read your comments as will several of the "regulars" who get updates to the comments via email, so you should never feel that "no-one is reading this blog anymore". And I for one agree with you, some here are very fussy, indeed. But hey, I even cut aoler some slack!

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