Mexican salamander / SUN 9-2-12 / 1930s world chess champion / 1974 hit with Spanish title / Scapegoat's onus / My reputation Iago / Lake at one end of Welland Canal / 1979 #1 hit for Robert John

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Pardon Ze Interruption" — Familiar phrases have "ZEE" sound added to them, creating all manner of wackiness and "?"-cluing

Word of the Day: Max EUWE (35D: 1930s world chess champion Max) —
Machgielis (Max) Euwe (Dutch: [ˈøːwə]) (May 20, 1901 – November 26, 1981) was a Dutch chessGrandmastermathematician, and author. He was the fifth player to become World Chess Champion(1935–37). Euwe also served as President of FIDE, the World Chess Federation, from 1970 to 1978. (wikipedia)
• • •

A nice little add-a-sound puzzle, with an especially lovely middle section. Wide-open, lots of white space, but incredibly evenly and brightly filled. The clunkers (EUWE, XXO) are very few in number, and every Sunday gets a handful of passes anyway. One of the best things about *this* add-a-sound puzzles (as opposed to some others I've seen) is that the sound that's added almost ensures that the resulting changed word will be at least interesting, if not downright entertaining. The resulting phrases here are, for the most part, legitimately amusing. HOLDS SWAYZE and ASIAN FLOOZIE create great, vivid images, as does CAPITAL ONESIE, which in my head is an exclamation made by an aging British gentleman wearing a monocle. And remarking on a ONESIE, of course. Something like ZEBU RADLEY would've been funny as a phrase, but is utterly preposterous as a visual, whereas every theme answer here (however unlikely as a phrase) creates an image one can legitimately imagine.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Chihuahua that eats only the best dog food? (CHOOSY TOY)
  • 25A: What Jennifer Grey does in "Dirty Dancing"? (HOLDS SWAYZE)

  • 32A: Promiscuous woman of the Far East? (ASIAN FLOOZIE)
  • 52A: Begin a game of "She loves me, she loves me not..."? (SEIZE THE DAISY)
  • 70A: First-class piece of infant's wear? (CAPITAL ONESIE)
  • 83A: Everest? (MOUNTAIN DOOZY)
  • 106A: Where busybodies live? (NOSY MAN'S LAND)
  • 117A: Group that regularly plays a classic dice game? (YAHTZEE CLUB)
  • 119A: Drop a hip-hop star from the festival line-up? (SCRUB JAY-Z)

There is a bit of E- and S-laden crosswordese in here ("ERES TU," ESTEE, EPEEIST, etc.), but it's so spaced out that it never generates enough collective power to offend. Also, the cluing is current and clever. Nice bit of trivia on the COLBERT clue (12A: Comedian who was the only man on Maxim's 2012 Hot 100 list of most beautiful women), and while JAM and AUGHTS aren't the most scintillating answers, their clues gave them a good dose of pizzazz (120D: Basketball highlight, slangily + 95D: Period of George W. Bush's presidency). Loved the clue on DESK—totally threw me (74A: Anchor's place). SMOOT (30A: ___-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930) and AXOLOTL (3D: Mexican salamander) are slightly arcane, but I consider them very high-end crosswordese—the kind of stuff they keep behind a locked glass case at the crosswordse store (which is to say I haven't seen them often in crosswords, but I've definitely seen them, and without crosswords I wouldn't know about them).

I goofed and wrote NSA at 93A: MI5 : Britain :: ___ : U.S. (C.I.A.) and HOT SALSA at 56D: Burrito topper (HOT SAUCE). I have no idea why ["Laugher"] is in quotation marks. A ROUT is a laugher, not a "laugher." Weird. I don't think I've ever heard of the Welland Canal, which makes it a nice way to clue a very well known lake like ONTARIO (121A: Lake at one end of the Welland Canal). PSAS are public service announcements, in case you're wondering (127A: Ad Council output, for short). NBC used to have a bunch of horrible, preachy ones where, like, Ross from "Friends" would tell you not to beat your kids or whatever, and then this star with a rainbow trail would shoot across the screen followed by the words "The More You Know ..." Or maybe I'm misremembering. It was the 90s, after all. That decade's kind of a blur.

[R.I.P., Hal David]
Iago shows up in the clues today instead of his more customary location in the grid (12A: He said "My reputation, Iago, my reptuation!" => CASSIO). I like the clue on BLAME (15D: Scapegoat's onus), even though my brain keeps processing it as the nonsensical [Scopegate's anus]. "Revolutionary Road" is a great novel. Reminded me a lot of John O'Hara's "Appointment in Samarra," only I actually liked it better (59D: "Revolutionary Road" novelist Richard). I also love "Watchmen" by ALAN Moore, the importance of which, in the world of comics, cannot be overstated (84D: Moore who wrote "Watchmen"). Lastly, I got mildly mad at myself for not nailing the 1979 pop music clue right away (91A: 1979 #1 hit for Robert John => "SAD EYES"). I really, really know my Top 40 songs from 1978-80, both because I listened to the radio constantly then, and because I recently went back and compiled a massive Spotify playlist of all songs that charted in those years. Sadly, Robert John is such a dull name that I never remember who he is or what he sang. I do like the song, though, in a nostalgic kind of way.
Good day.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:09 AM  

    Easy-medium and not quite as amusing as the last couple of Sundays, but still some fun clue/answers... ASIANFLOOZIES, HOLDSSWAYZE...


    Cringes: EUWE, EPEEIST, XXO

    Erasure: MOtEl for MODEM.

    Nice breezy Sun.

    Anonymous 12:10 AM  

    What is scrub j?

    Anonymous 12:12 AM  

    You know, almost everything in the world has been immortalized in music. Love, hate, every damned thing every teen-aged girl ever thought of throughout history.

    Everything but one. YAHTZEE. Why has there never been a song about YAHTZEE? Seriously, Rihanna's on the tube this very second, singing about what I don't know with the exception that it's not YAHTZEE, and it has to have something to do with her crotch because she keeps grabbing it.

    I want me a song about YAHTZEE

    Pete 12:22 AM  

    @Anon 12:10 - A scrub jay is a bird, the western equivalent of the blue jay.

    I was, lets say, led astray by the first two theme entries I uncovered. A CHOOSYTOY might be picky about his chewtoy. Jennifer Grey held sway in the movie where she HELDSWAYZE. However, an ASIANFLOOZY doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Asian flu. Unless, of course, if she gave you the clap and what you tell your wife about your repeated trips to the doctor is that you have the Asian flue.

    mikeametrics 1:44 AM  


    I put SET for opposite of rise... JOHNEE sounded wrong but SET felt so much more right than SIT!!!

    m(_ _)m

    JFC 1:59 AM  

    @Rex - One of your better, maybe best, write-ups....


    syndy 2:08 AM  

    Crosswordese comes in handy.ENO gave me ARBOR,gave me club,that chaged AROUSE to AMOUNT and I was back to the races! fun scrabblely and tasty! fav was SEIZE THE DAISY (carpe asteraceae!)

    horny guy 2:53 AM  

    @mikeametrics -- I had SAGS which didn't work with JOHNNIE but made sense if you're preoccupied with boobs.

    chefwen 3:42 AM  

    I just went back over the puzzle to pick a theme answer that I liked the best and I couldn't because I liked them all.

    Thanks for the write up Rex and thank you for a fun puzzle Joel Fagliano.

    Brookboy 6:05 AM  

    Nice upbeat review of the puzzle, thank you, Rex.

    Another enjoyable if not memorable puzzle with a very clever (to me, anyway) theme. ASIANFLOOZIE got me on the right track for the theme answers, but there weren't any gimmes in any of them.

    Didn't know what a SCRUBJAY is but I finally got it from the crosses.

    Had laBOR day instead of ARBOR (107D) at first, slowed me down a little until the crosses showed me the error of my labors.

    Nice puzzle on a nice day...

    Anonymous 6:18 AM  

    I can't call "easy medium" a puzzle with "scrubjay" (never heard this word in 61 years in the planet)and "laugher" cluing "rout" (huh?). Found this to be quite hard, and couldn't do a thing with the lower left because I had "candle" for "wax cylinder"--which unfortunately worked fine for "CIA". Cute theme, but tough cluing. How in hell did Jamie Foxx ever win an Oscar, by the way?

    The Bard 7:02 AM  

    Othello > Act II, scene III

    IAGO: What, are you hurt, lieutenant?

    CASSIO: Ay, past all surgery.

    IAGO: Marry, heaven forbid!

    CASSIO: Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost
    my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of
    myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation,
    Iago, my reputation!

    IAGO: As I am an honest man, I thought you had received
    some bodily wound; there is more sense in that than
    in reputation. Reputation is an idle and most false
    imposition: oft got without merit, and lost without
    deserving: you have lost no reputation at all,
    unless you repute yourself such a loser. What, man!
    there are ways to recover the general again: you
    are but now cast in his mood, a punishment more in
    policy than in malice, even so as one would beat his
    offenceless dog to affright an imperious lion: sue
    to him again, and he's yours.

    King Henry IV, part I > Act III, scene III

    FALSTAFF: Rob me the exchequer the first thing thou doest, and
    do it with unwashed hands too.

    Glimmerglass 8:04 AM  

    Easy, but thanks for the crosses to get EUWE (WTF) and SCRUB JAY-Z. Never heard of a scrub jay. Thanks Pete for the info. I thought a scrub jay might be a blue jay with green (hospital scrubs) feathers, but I guess it lives in scrub forests.

    joho 9:01 AM  

    LOL @Glimmerglass. I, not ever hearing of a SCRUBJAY, decided that answer meant SCRUBZ describing hospital uniforms.

    I wasn't sure if adding IST to EPEE was desperate or brilliant!

    The hardest part for me was getting CIA, ROUT, AUGHTS. Everything else was eaZE, breeZE.

    Thanks, Joel!

    Anonymous 9:09 AM  

    Yes, the "Scrub Jay" with the added Z sound didn't make sense to me, but it fit. Had to go over the puzzle three times to realize the "Anchor" in question was a person and not a weight on a rope or chain - which finally led to deSk over deCk!!

    retired_chemist 9:12 AM  

    Couldn't even parse SCRUB JAY_Z to get the original SCRUB JAY, of which I have never heard.

    But a fun puzzle nonetheless. COLBERT cracked me up.

    Thanks, Mr. Fagliano,

    Zwhatever 9:32 AM  

    Carpe Asteraceae! I love it @syndy.

    Does anyone else know that yesterday was International Bacon Day? I considered it for a full half a second when I had ---O-.

    I think of GWB's era as the Coulda Woulda Shoulda era.

    Hand up for SCRUB JAY? I know JAYZ, and I got the crosses, but that's a new bird for me.

    fruitypants 10:29 AM  

    My only beef with this puzzle is the overabundance of ONES- ONEOUT, ONECAR, ONESIE...

    Baxnnex 10:29 AM  

    My only problem was with "pathfinders". Wasn't thinking vehicles. And couldn't figure out that "aught_" just needed an "s" at the end. Kept wanting "O" there. Of course, I had an "E" at the end of Iolani, which didn't help. Great puzzle from my point of couch.

    chefbea 10:40 AM  

    noticed all the ones. Never heard of scrub jay. DNF/
    Off to the beach

    Loren Muse Smith 11:03 AM  

    Fun one! What everyone else has said. My favorite theme answer was MOUNTAIN DOOZY, and I don’t even drink the stuff.

    Got the theme really early at SWAYZE. So then when I had SEIZE and not much more, I thought, “Ok. It’s not phonetic. We’re just adding ZE to expressions? SEI? Huh?”

    @Z – Even though tomorrow at the club we’re doing a huge Labor Day cookout, I put down ARBOR immediately. Go figure.

    @Joho – I vote “brilliant.” I love the way EPEEIST looks.

    @mikeametrics and h. g. – I had “dips” very early on for SITS.

    Lots of pairs and groups:
    SUMMA/TAU, ERES TU/ESTAS/ANO, NISSANS/CIVIC, three forms of the copula ARE/ERES/ESTAS, and the German anagrams EIN/NIE.

    Can’t KANT. Never could. I’m a philosophy SIMPLETON (coming smack dab down the center. Fun)!

    Thanks, Joel. AH YES, no MESS!

    jackj 11:18 AM  

    Our blogmeister goes all R-E-S-P-E-C-T for this follow on to the IGNISFATUUS unpleasantness of recent memory from the same constructor, even to the point of forgiving the arcanest of the arcane, AXOLOTL, as “very high-end crosswordese”, while others among us feel this puzzle is not so much a super DOOZY as an exercise that made us slightly WOOZY.

    Early comments are fascinating and worthy of singling out, as the puzzle inspired a mention of Rihanna’s nether region, a pesky case of VD and a penchant for zaftigness. Who knew the Z’s would trigger such fun imaginings and may they continue to appear in today’s comments!

    Props to SIMPLETON, AUGHTS and the double your fun with double your Z’s, SEIZETHEDAISY.

    But, the puzzle cemented my mildly negative opinion of it when the constructor included NOSYMANSLAND, YAHTZEECLUB and SCRUBJAYZ and it became obvious he had succumbed to “Too much of a good thing”.

    Milford 11:22 AM  

    DNF because of the whole bird thing in the SE. Got too wrapped up in wanting a ZE to exist in every theme answer, making CHOOSYTOY difficult to uncover.

    Spent all day yesterday helping at a Labor Day 30K race, so I think being up at 4AM is not helping me fully appreciate the last two days of puzzles.

    Anyone else immediately get the SMOOT-Hawley Tariff Act solely because of the Ben Stein lecture in Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Anyone?

    baja 11:53 AM  

    They call it the good old mountain - doozy
    and them that refuse it are - choosy

    Loved it!

    hazel 11:59 AM  

    Found this one below delightful, but above serviceable. Mostly engaging, i think. Favorites were NOSYMANSLAND and SEIZETHEDAISY and while I'm at it, the Colbert factoid - which I somehow missed; had to look up the backstory and, of course there was a colbert nation write-in campaign to get him on the list. Whole thing made me laugh.

    @rex - your blurry '90s in fact blurs into the AUGHTS too as The More You Know campaign continues. Could be that you no longer watch NBC.

    Anonymous 12:27 PM  

    All you east coast people! If this had been a LA Times puzzle everyone would have known "scrub jay".

    jberg 12:58 PM  

    I gave up on this one. I confidently plopped down "green" for 107D, "_____ Day," feeling so proud that I knew something from pop culture - and that really blocked me in the SW, as I kept trying to find some way to add a zee sound to AC/DC and turn it into acey-deucey. Couldn't be done, but it made YAHTZEE CLUB and ARBOR invisible to me. Likewise NOSY MAN'S LAND.

    Once again, I'm amazed how people's knowledge bases differ - SCRUB JAY-Z was a gimme for me, once I had the theme. It's a pretty common bird, just not in the East.

    Pretty good puzzle, actually, just a mental block for me.

    Carola 1:08 PM  

    Liked the theme, especially the floozie, the doozy and the onsie, and the cluing kept the rest interesting. In the fauna area, I also didn't know of the SCRUB JAY and needed almost all of the crosses to remember the AXOLOTL, which is quite an interesting beast.

    @Mikeametrics -
    My first guess for Cochrane was JOHNNeY, and when I had to change the Y to an E for TELECOM, I shrugged off "Johnee" with an "Okay, if you say so," never considering that SeTS wasn't right or seeing that it crossed with SET AT. Only realized I DNF when I read your comment.

    @Z -
    I see that I'm a day late for celebrating International Bacon Day, as bacon sweet corn hash is on for supper tonight.

    ksquare 1:44 PM  

    @Rex You're not so far from the Welland Canal in Binghamton or Vestal. Just go to Buffalo, cross into Canada and continue West. You'll come to it shortly. It has great locks.
    Is this TMI?

    Carole Shmurak 1:49 PM  

    Scrub jays are also in Florida, though I knew them from trips to the West. Maybe some of you need to get outside more!

    Sparky 1:52 PM  

    Had the SWAYZE right away but then slowed down by expecting ZE in all the theme answers. Got a chuckle out of most of them. Had to look up FOXX and Google the canal and the palace. DNF in SW. Candle for CRAYON. I do not really know the names of Hip Hop performers except for IceT and Dr Dre. Tripped over all the ONEs; finally filled them in.

    Thanks for the Hal David @Rex.

    Evan 2:02 PM  

    Despite joining others as one who's never heard of a scrub jay before, this was one of the easier Sunday puzzles I can remember doing. I dropped in AFC EAST and JOHNNIE with no hesitation and it was off to the races from there. For some reason I really like how the first two across entries are AJAX and AJAR -- something cruciverablly poetic about it! And, being a "Downton Abbey" fan, I loved SEIZE THE DAISY -- don't want to spoil it, but you'll have to watch several episodes of the show to know what I'm talking about (I'm still watching Season 2, so don't give anything big away!).

    I enjoyed the puzzle overall, especially the theme answers, but I have to give it a demerit for repeating a few words. @fruitypants noted the abundance of ONEs, but I have
    a bigger problem with the two pairs of EYES (of the RED and SAD variety).

    Also, I'm not totally feeling the clue for ALGAE. Yes, I understand that the "tank" refers to a fish tank, but why is ALGAE necessarily part of the top of said fish tank? Can't it be on the bottom or side of the tank, too?

    Anonymous 2:09 PM  


    Mel Ott 2:19 PM  

    I don't want to give the constructors among us any ideas, but for awhile I had an even uglier answer for 89A: EPEEIER.

    mac 2:53 PM  

    That was a surprise, that high little voice coming out of the man with the beard!

    Nice Sunday puzzle. It felt easy until I hit the bottom, but I pieced it together in the end.

    JayZ's wife seems to favor the same bodypart as Rhianna when she performs.

    quilter1 3:25 PM  

    Smiling all the way.
    Is a scrub jay the same as a mountain jay? I will look it up.

    quilter1 3:30 PM  

    They are different birds. The mountain or Stellar's jay is crested. You're welcome.

    Wet Parrot Head 4:50 PM  

    Wow, I thought for a hot 5 minutes that Mr. Fagliano had really pushed the drug-reference envelope on this one-- far beyond the LSD puns that I'm used to. I had FIREAJAY(Z) in the place of SCRUBJAY(Z), with FOP instead of SAP. If only!!

    A Capriote 5:31 PM  

    No one else had RIOT for ROUT?

    jae 5:48 PM  

    @A Capriote -- Hand up for RIOT very briefly.

    @Mel Ott -- IER was my first thought but fortunately the crosses stopped me from entering it.

    Tita 9:47 PM  

    My only beef is that the puZZle was not chock-a-block with Zs, but sometimes "Ze interruption" was actually made with an "S".
    (I decided a while back that I would rate puZZles by # of Zs, similar to how M&A rates the U-fulness.)

    Loved the theme answers. Even though I DNF. I was certain it was AXyLOTL and AFlEAST.

    @Rex - never knew scopegates had anuses.

    CoolPapaD 10:50 PM  

    It's been a while since I've been here, what with work getting crazy and the Sulzbergers wanting more $ from me to do the puzzles, but I loved this puzzle and loved the write-up, so I just had to say hi! Left RIOT RIOT, though I knew that it had to be wrong. How is a ROUT a laugher?? Other than that, this was EZ PZ.

    Anonymous 12:03 AM  

    Who are you and what have they done with Rex.. sigh, since vacation, no rancor, no snide comments. this puzzle was ODIOUS not sure I can post this must go through the NYT version of the TSA....SIGH, SIGH, STAR.

    Lori 9:15 AM  

    A couple people have mentioned this, so just to try to clarify...I'm no expert, but I understand a "laugher" to be a sports term in which the score is so lopsidedly in your favor that it's laughable - in other words, a rout.

    I thought this was a shiny puzzle - clever theme (although I too got SWAYZE first and was looking for ZEs rather than the sound) and fun full. Thanks!

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    P-CO 10:21 AM  

    Rex, you may have inadvertently redeemed yourself. Sad Eyes is just a predictable R&B wannabee that drags on for a painful 4:05. If you are going to embed that piece of drek, then neutralize it with a truly great song. Thanks for paying tribute to the great Hal David with the real thing, a song that Dionne Warwick sings with more heartbreak in a minute less time, a song whose time changes and melody defined what a modern song could do. It's no wonder that David and Burt Bacharach received the Gershwin Prize this year.

    Pete M. 1:09 PM  

    MOCKING JAYZ would have been way cooler.

    Pete M. 1:10 PM  

    ps: I hate hate hate your captcha test. Always takes me at least 3 tries to get it right.

    Paul A. 10:13 AM  

    I understood everything except ROUT - "laugher". Never heard of a scrub jay, but now I know what it is.

    This one took some googling but I did eventually get it all right.

    Spacecraft 10:54 AM  

    I'm with the legion who never heard of scrub jays, but the crosses forced it in.

    I, too, had JOHNNIE/SITS, changed it to SETS when I saw the clue, then changed it back because I just couldn't hang with "Johnnee."

    Tried to make my dice game in the SW Parcheesi, but it wouldn't work. The "yacht" of YAHTZEE was an aha! moment.

    This old Mad Magazine fan recalls with fondness the nonsense word "potrzebie," which often appeared near the real (who knew at the time?) AXOLOTL. Ah well, I had one grunch but the eggplant over there. Easy-medium for me; a fun Sunday.

    Anonymous 12:58 PM  

    Re: 31 across: Why continue to give a clues to the Spanish "year" when the answer is written in English, it means "anal" or to be more precise "a**hole". ?Porque? And I don't mean porky.

    Dirigonzo 1:59 PM  

    Weekend puzzle partner and I had a lot of fun rooting out all of "ze interruptions"; we figured out early on that we were looking for phonetic equivalents, not necessarily "ze" by itself. Biggest groan was produced when Rock and roll, e.g. became NOUNS, and she had to convince me that AXOLOTL is a real word. We finished in the SE corner where ALGAE and AUGHT took a long time to see (the RioT we had down there didn't help).

    Blake 4:11 AM  

    Asian FLOOZIE?? Racist. You never hear about white wh*ore as one of the answers.

    Blake 4:12 AM  

    Asian FLOOZIE is “fun” that’s horribly offensive and bigoted.

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