2002 sequel starring Wesley Snipes / WED 1-30-13 / Hades river of forgetfulness / New York site of Mark Twain's grave / Cyberspace zine / Deny membership to skater Starbuck / Shul attendees

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Constructor: Will Nediger

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: DON HO HO [Wear snack cake?] — familiar words and phrases ending in "O" have final syllable doubled, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style (note: wackiness may or may not require reparsing of base phrase)

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Coming on to a patient, perhaps? (DOCTOR NO-NO)
  • 21A: Deny membership to skater Starbuck? (BAN JO JO)
  • 36A: Dictator's directive at a dance club? (LET MY PEOPLE GO-GO)
  • 55A: Bad-mouth designer Chanel? (DIS COCO)
  • 59A: "Strive for medium quality on this one"? ("MAKE IT SO-SO)

Word of the Day: LILA Kedrova (26A: Kedrova of "Zorba the Greek") —
Lila Kedrova (9 October, c. 1918 – 16 February 2000) was a Russian-born French actress. [...] In 1932, Lila Kedrova joined the Moscow Art Theatre touring company. Then her film career began, mostly in French films, until her first English appearance in 1964 as Mme Hortense in Zorba the Greek. Her performance won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She then went on to play a series of eccentric or batty ladies in several Hollywood films. In 1983, she reprised her role as Mme Hortense on Broadway in the musical version of Zorba the Greek, winning both aTony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical and a Drama Desk Award in the process. (wikipedia)
• • •

The theme is cute, and the grid is pretty snappy (5 Js!?). My only issue with it is theme consistency—I have to break BANJO and DISCO apart to make the Wackiness work in those theme answers, where with the others, I don't have to break any words in the base phrase. There's nothing in this inconsistency to really diminish enjoyment of the puzzle, but it's bugging me nonetheless. Now, the theme would be pretty hard to flesh out if you had to rely solely on base phrases that ended in two-letter / second-letter-O words. GO, NO, and SO work, but after that ... it's slim pickins. You could use DON HO HO, but you'd still need another 7. Anyway, no big deal, theme's inconsistent, it happens. Oh, I guess I kind of hate the written out "DOCTOR" in DOCTOR NO-NO, since it's only ever DR. NO (I mean ... that's what the novel / movie is called). The solving process was not unpleasant. I mostly tore through this one, except in the NE, where I got slowed down both by having *no* idea what a JOJO Starbuck was (at that point, I didn't have the theme, so I was Really at a loss), and by having CARAT instead of COMMA at 31A: Less-than sign's keymate. That last mistake was really stupid. I think I was thinking of the shape of the CARET (with an E), since the less-than sign is essentially a CARET on its side. Who knows?. As for JO JO Starbuck (again, !?!?!), she was a figure skater of some (but not much) renown in the '70s. She was, however, Terry Bradshaw's second wife, so that's ... something. I'd've gone with 7-time NBA All-Star JO JO White, but ... it is what it is. Anyway, that corner messed me up, but everything else was fast and so my time was pretty normal.

BLADEII (35D: 2002 sequel starring Wesley Snipe) is a terrrrrible answer, and yet I have a strange affection for it (as an answer, not as a film ... though I did enjoy BLADEI). DO THE MAMBO, however colorful, is ridiculous (4D: Dance to Tito Puente, say). It's like WIN THE GAME or EAT THE SANDWICH, or DO THE [insert dance here]. But again, as with BLADEII, it's at least amusing in its outlandishness, so I'm having trouble getting really outraged.

  • 29A: Cyberspace 'zine (E-MAG) — among the crosswordese I least enjoy. No. One. Uses. This. "Term."
  • 66A: Muslim woman's veil (HIJAB) — a sweet little 5-letter answer. You rarely see it, perhaps because of its odd letter combinations, but I think it's about as fabulous as 5-letter fill gets.
  • 32D: Sunday hymn accompaniment (ORGAN MUSIC) — got it easily, and it's definitely a real phrase, but so is CLARINET MUSIC or [any instrument] MUSIC, so there's a GREEN PAINTish feeling to it.
  • 46D: City of northern Spain (OVIEDO) — a pretty crosswordy city. I misremembered it as OVIDEO. Which is not getting underlined in red by my computer ... why? Is OVIDEO something? Not that I can see. Well ... there's this ... which I have now watched and cannot unwatch. WTF?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Pete 12:10 AM  

There's a huge body of music written specifically for the organ, no so much for clarinet, so I think of ORGAN MUSIC as a thing.

I didn't like seeing GOGOL just under LETMYPEOPLEGOGO. There's only so much GOGO dancing someone can take at one viewing.

Is being an ex-wife of Terry Bradshaw enought of a thing to merit crosswordiness? It's no like it's an exclusive community or anything.

Danny 12:16 AM  

At least the parse/no-parse was symmetrical.

jae 12:18 AM  

Very easy Wed.  The only tough spot for me was SW where I tried to misspell Avila into the OVIEDO spot (I've heard of  GOGOL, but didn't know what he authored). Liked the theme a lot, made me chuckle.  And, the grid seems pretty smooth, just a Z short of a pangram. 

I'm wondering how long it will take to run out of EMIL's I've never heard of.

Nice Wed. Will!

Evan 12:24 AM  

I like the theme answers a lot -- a hand up for imagining Jean-Luc Picard announcing MAKE IT SO-SO on the U.S.S. Enterprise. Nearly messed up big time with DO THE MAMBA (I always mix up my snakes with the dance twins SAMBA and MAMBO), but fixed it before finishing. Overall a fairly easy outing for a Wednesday, but I wouldn't be surprised if the GOGOL/OVIEDO crossing causes problems.

I think I like BLADE II more than Rex does (also as an answer, not as a film....although the film does have one of my favorite movie insults, courtesy of Kris Kristofferson: "Some of us can't see in the dark, ya f***ing nipplehead!"). The Roman numeral is actually in the title rather than an Arabic numeral, so it's just as legit an answer as other movie sequels like SAW II, and it's only a matter of working out the crosses to eliminate any V's or X's at the end.

Noam D. Elkies 12:35 AM  

Oh, *that* kind of 66A:HIJAB, not a punch to be followed by a LOWBLOW (each of these which has just one xwordinfo appearance).

@Pete: not much *unacccompanied* solo clarinet music out there (one famous example is a movement from the Messiaen quartet), but one would probably count a Mozart concerto or Brahms sonata as "clarinet music" despite the accompanying orchestra or piano. Maybe even a clarinet quintet (clarinet + 4 strings, not five clarinets). Admittedly even that must be way less than the 32D:ORGAN_MUSIC of Bach alone.

NDE (captcha = "todutoe", which like "hijab" suggests some kind of misspelled slugfest...)

Rube 12:53 AM  

I guess the theme was clever, but it did not turn me on. Wanted GOGOL to be part of the theme, but no... well, maybe as GOGO 49ers!.

Only writeovers were at IMOK, but as I was doing this in pencil, don't remember what the corrections were.

retired_chemist 12:55 AM  

Enjoyable. Medium. Difficult to see error was at the bottom so my check took a lot of time, about a minute: 67A DOLT for DOPE.

My seeker of WEED was USER to start.

NY 17 (Southern Tier Hwy) strikes again - STEUBEN (Corning) earlier, now ELMIRA. is BINGHAMTON next? Or, even closer to @Rex and more cluable is VESTAL.

Thanks, Mr. Nediger.

PK 12:59 AM  

Lovely, lively puzzle! Gadded about the grid - chastising the naughty Doctor No-No, sympathizing with the dissed Coco. One thing I didn't understand is why it's a "dictator" saying Let My People Go (go). I thought that was Moses or Jesus or somebody like that - not a dictator. ??

Carola 1:04 AM  

Inspired theme. DOCTOR NO-NO made me laugh, MAKE IT SO-SO second favorite. The puzzles have been getting steadily easier for me this week - this one went by fast (for me).

Liked all the music - BANJO mirroring DISCO and DO THE MAMBO mirroring ORGAN MUSIC, along with B MAJ, ELLA, COLE. Also liked WEED next to NARC, with some DOPE cached down in the corner.

@PK - I scratched my head over the wording of that directive clue, too.

PK 1:07 AM  

Ovideo is pretty stinkin'cute. Reminds me of the island in Captain Bluebear. O Romeo. O Sole Mio.

Acmes 1:14 AM  

Such fun!!!
LETMY PEOPLE GOGO actually makes me laugh outloud! So visual!!!

Yeah, GOGOL a tad offputting, esp with OVIEDO cross... Tho i could see folks liking the echo.

Anyway, how could I not love a puzzle with FIVE Js, an X, a Q, 2Ks, a cross of JEWS/JINX/HOAX and ACMES!!!!

Trying to compare the solid ORGANMUSIC, esp with a hymn clue to GREEN PAINT is looking for a fault where none exists, imo.
I had lots of writeovers tho:
HubCAP/GASCAP which led to athOL/GOGOL
also considered Caret, tried COLon before COMMA

Loved this, lots of fun and the right amount of hard!

chefwen 1:48 AM  

Getting a little excited about the game @Rube? I'll be pulling for your team, even if you did beat us. Boo Hoo!

Loved this one. Used to have a kitty named Jolie, we affectionately called her JO JO, I remembered JO JO Starbuck right away, can even remember watching her skate. Yeah, I know I'm dating myself, again!

Ended up with a mistake at the evil GOGOL/OVIEDO crossing, didn't know either and guessed at an A where the O belonged. Oh well, I had fun anyway.

Thanks Will and Will.

Joma 2:08 AM  

Got the theme answers but got stuck on Gogol/gadded and Elmira/Lethe /ojai.
Fair enough for a non American /non New Yorker.

Acmes 2:19 AM  

Minnesota crossword tourney link:
Www.thefriends.org/programs/calendar/minnesota-crossword-tournament.html with puzzles by Andrew Ries, Tom Pepper, me and Victor Barocas (who organized it this year after winning it last year, so all new and improved ) and in St Paul this weekend if you can't make it to Westport, CT!

After triple MAMMAMIA synchronicity (Mon LAT, Tues NYT, and Tu Jeopardy! Answer), they just showed the Bupkis episode on the Old Dick Van Dyke show! That's where I first learned the word.

Crazy day to have been sick in bed.

Anoa Bob 2:23 AM  

I think there's a sub-theme going on here. Along with WEED, NARC and DOPE that Carola calls attention to, there are the five J's that Acme mentions. And isn't J a shortened form of joint, which itself is slang for a marijuana cigarette? Could this be a subtle shout out to Washington and Colorado?

WHO AM I (48D) sounds more like a philosophical inquiry than an "Amnesiac's question". Amnesiacs usually can't remember events for some specified period of time, often following some trauma like a concussion. Not remembering who you are would more likely get you a diagnosis of Dissociative Fugue (300.13 in the DSM-IV).

The Count 2:27 AM  

Been reading Rex for about two weeks and I'm picking up on a smug, arrogant vibe. Is that shtick, or does he really think every puzzle would be better, if only he were asked to write them?

Meanwhile, I can only imagine how he'd react if another constructor dared to include a clue as strained as "Wear snack cake?"

Eejit 2:44 AM  

Yes, that's the shtick. There are other options if you don't like it, the Internet is a big place.

chefwen 3:31 AM  

Bravo Eejit!

Hope you're feeling better Andrea, a lot of nasty stuff floating around these days.

Elle 54 5:18 AM  

Hand up for Gogol/Oviedo fail. Also Hajab/Sal. Did anyone else put Pagel/Padded?

Loren Muse Smith 5:56 AM  

Fine theme and puzzle! And DON HO HO is funny!

Defeat Dorothy’s dog on the mat? PIN TOTO?

I didn’t know EDAM doesn’t spoil, but I did know that BRIE is easy to spread.

Liked IN A JAM and WON BIG. Like @jae – tried to fit Avila for OVIEDO.

Biggest problem – kept thinking “Buttinsky” and “Bulba” must be some kind of grandmothers. ;-)

Thanks, Wills.

GILL I. 6:17 AM  

Cute, fun theme. A bit easy for this Wed. but certainly smile inducing.
I too raise my hand for not understanding dictator's directive. "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Let my people go."
Like @LMS didn't know EDAM doesn't spoil. I bet it turns a little green after a year in the fridge.

Zed 7:17 AM  

Faster than Monday or Tuesday, even with the GOGOL/GADDED/OVIEDO crossing causing me to run my alphabet and vowels. Strongly considered aVIEDO. "GADDED about" seems like a "Buttinsky/Bulba's" term to me.

Noticed from the comments that I never fixed SAc even though I knew E COLI to be 69A. I hate when that happens.

I see that ACME(S) gets a shout-out and I got DISsed by omission. Starting off with a Q, a J, and an X in the NW, I was expecting a pangram and my shout-out for the rest of the puzzle. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the solve. Hand up for wondering about the Dictator. I suppose he prefers to let his people GO-GO to letting them GO.

I found the clue for COLT a little...troubling. I wonder if they play ORGAN MUSIC. Change the clue on COLE a little and you have a fratricide, bombing, castration trifecta in that section. Ouch. I much prefer the "DOPE/WEED/J listening to Dark Side of the Moon while watching Bert LAHR" vibe in the rest of the puzzle.

Milford 7:45 AM  

@Elle 54 - Close. I managed to get OVIEDO, but then I was set on pADDED/pOGOL. I've heard of walking around, perhaps barefooted, as padding around, but not sure I've ever heard of GADDED. And obviously was guessing on the author.

So DNF. Again. Drat.

But otherwise I liked the puzzle, theme, scrabbly fill. Sorry, Z, about the non-pangram. Liked HIJAB, and QUADS clued as the muscles. Hand up for user before NARC.

Was sure that a key using all the black keys would be something-MIN, so B-MAJ surprised me. Now I'll have to go play it.

Could someone explain the COMMA clue? I think I'm missing something obvious...

Obviousman 7:51 AM  

@Milford - Look at your keyboard.

John V 8:05 AM  

Good one! Great theme, great grid, great fog in CT -- pea soup.

Singing off key? BONONONO.

Hey @Rex, is ELMIRA at all near SYOSSET? Just wondering.

Good puz, Will.

MarkK 8:10 AM  

Totally agree on Rex's point about the theme being inconsistant on the breaking of the words in BANJO and DISCO. I got the other three theme answers quickly but DNF'ed being unable to come up with a common 5 letter phrase out of B__JO and D__CO. But MAKEITSOSO is the clear winner here giving me a good smile. (DOCTORNONO? More like DOCTORLOSEYOURLISCENSE or DOCTORGETSSUED)

A fun great start, but then too many other personal Natick's to overcome. First there was GOGOL/OVIEDO/EDAM (good trivia question on the cheese though) trio, then there was the LESTHE/HIJAB/OJO/SAL combo and finally the LILA/NACRE that I should have been able to get but couldn't.

Other than that, a fun Wednesday.

Cory 8:17 AM  

Had a problem in NE and SE. In NE had _MAJ for 10D and figured 10A was Edam making piano key eMAJ. Apparently I don't know my cheeses or my keys. In SE I had ___EDO for the end of 46D so I thought it was tolEDO. Apparently I don't know my central Spanish cuties from the northern ones. Eventually figured everything out.

Looking forward to my first tournament in Westport on Saturday.

webwinger 8:20 AM  

Another very fun theme, enjoyable puzzle overall. Finished considerably faster than a typical Wednesday. Only had to google for the crossing letters in OBI/HAJIB (women’s apparel not my strong suit) and ELMIRA/OJAI (thought it shoulda been a Y—easily coulda been with different clues). IMO Rex’s grump-o-meter was set a bit low with the frets about parsing, especially since, as Danny pointed out, the inconsistency was symmetrical. Isn’t “Do the Mambo” a song lyric somewhere? That would give it much better cred than green paint. Confidential to “The Count” (as the old advice columnists used to say)—we come here because we like to be entertained by Fearless Leader’s shtick, and learn a lot about X-word building in the process. I’d say he’s pretty tame by blogosphere standards. The constructors who often stop by seem rarely to be offended by critical comments. And we usually get more upbeat takes from Acme and others as part of the package…

Elle54 8:26 AM  

Gadded makes sense . Have you heard of a gad-about?

John V 8:27 AM  

Hey @Cory, be sure to say hello to fellow Rextillians in Westport.

chefbea 8:33 AM  

Fairly easy. Had two Naticks - Gogol/oviedo and Hijab/lethe.

Have a houseguest for a few days so I am getting her into xword puzzling.

joho 8:35 AM  

Absolutely loved this puzzle with its great beat that's easy to dance to! Bouncy, fun and downright funny.

I liked all the theme answers my favorite being BANJOJO (of course!)

I had the same exact missteps as ACMEs (get better!) with tolEDO before OVIEDO and hubCAP before GASCAP, athOL before GOGOL. Tricky corner!

I think you WONBIG with this Wednesday, Will, thank you!

jackj 8:46 AM  

If it’s Wednesday it must be Monday; at least that was what it felt like with this much too easy crossword.

Not that there was anything wrong with it, other than being posted on the wrong day. The theme was cute(sy), as evidenced by DISCOCO, LETMYPEOPLEGOGO (and the three other theme entries), plus there were some fun side benefits like GOGOL, DOTHEMAMBO, even YELLO, that were “wannabe’s” looking to butt in on the theme’s action.

The fill was generally of good quality and the first entry, QUADS, that then crosses QED, sets a nice tone for the rest of the puzzle.

Little phrasings, WHOAMI, INAJAM, WONBIG, GASCAP, IMOK, RATEDPG and LAYOVER also contributed, as they gave the puzzle a fun, light touch that nicely complements the theme.

As always, there were a few entries that might give a solver serious pushback notably OJAI, OVIEDO, Expressionist painter EMIL (Nolde) and those knotty little bits in the bottom right that sought HIJAB, LETHE, OJO and SAL, all potential troublemakers.

Thanks to the Will’s, but please don’t be so gentle; it’s mid-week, after all, and time to have us focusing on the upcoming late week high jinks.

B Donohue 8:48 AM  

It was great to re-learn OVIEDO and SKOAL.

I erred on a few entries in the SW, mostly because I entered hubCAP mistakenly.

Thank you, Rex!

The Count- welcome to Rex's page. If you don't like it, go elsewhere and keep your negative comments to yourself.

Unknown 8:52 AM  

I thought this was super cute. Would love to see a video remake of The Ten Commandments with a LET MY PEOPLE GOGO scene. Liked all of the theme answers very much....a fun Wednesday.

Milford 9:00 AM  

@Elle54 - hmm, yeah maybe. Sounds British to me?

@Obviousman to the rescue! Thanks. Should have thought of the keyboard.

MetaRex 9:06 AM  

Yes! The combination of the overt theme with an implicit music and dance theme (BANJO, DISCO, LET MY PEOPLE GO-GO, DO THE MAMBO, and ORGAN MUSIC) is v. nice.

My one quibble is w/ the cluing of the central 15...I'd rather give the floor to a spokesman for the peeps than to the dictator. I like linking up JEWS on the top to a clue like, "Demand to dance hall pharaoh?" Not a big deal...

Going to a go-go

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

If that's the schtick, it was adopted after Rex/Michael had his first puzzle published in the NYT. If you check out the blog archives, you will see that the commentary was once far less captious and far more instructive about interesting trivia regarding clues and answers. Alas, the Internet is a big place ... A big faceless place where we can get away with slamming other people in a way we would not do in face-to-face interaction. Rex's new-found imperiousness--and Eejit's hasty disinvitation to a newcomer who notices it--are but two examples of an increasing incivility in American society. Rex's blog has value nonetheless, but perhaps not as much as it once did. Still, I appreciate the daily effort Rex makes to log his thoughts for us,and I thank him for it.

mac 9:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mac 9:16 AM  

Cute theme, easy-medium Wednesday to me, with only Gogol and Oviedo/gas cap giving a little resistance.

First I thought: Edam is so good, you eat it before it can spoil, then, doh, the red wax keeps it from spoiling.

The party in Westport is growing and growing!

C. Ross Word 9:49 AM  

Fun puzzle though easy for a Wednesday! That said, I was personally Naticked by HIJAB / SAL; had HIJiB / SiL. I wasn't as thrilled with that answer as @Rex. Thought it was a "low blow" (thanks @Noam D. Elkies).

Sandy K 10:08 AM  

Cute theme. Got it from DOCTOR NO NO, so that helped me put in the other _O_O answers.

Almost got naticked by HIJAB and LETHE, but guessed right again.

Wanted Les Miz clue for 48d-
"WHO AM I? I'm Jean Valjean!"

joho 10:12 AM  

ELMIRA is also a song that adds more music to the fun.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Isn't the song ELvIRA?

Two Ponies 10:27 AM  

The theme answers made me laugh so good puzzle. It was almost too easy for a Wed. except I also fell into the same traps as mentioned above.
@ loren, Good one!
@ joho, Are you thinking of Elvira? I know I did.
Agree the dictator clue was off. I wonder which Will to blame.

dmw 10:27 AM  

Easy Wednesday, except didn't anyone else have trouble with the LETHE/HIJAB cross?

joho 10:34 AM  

Yep, Elvira it is!

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

No there's a song ELMIRA. As I recall, it goes something like this.

Oh, Elmira, the pit of New York State!
Oh, Elmira, the city it's residents hate!
You want a job, commute to Syracuse
You're still here, what's your excuse?

quilter1 11:07 AM  

Really fun and cute theme that I enjoyed. I guess the dictator is is being demanding. I liked the suggestion of using pharaoh instead of dictator. I've enjoyed the comments today.

Notsofast 11:22 AM  

I took a HIJAB to the face on this one. Putting all those obscure words in the tiny little SE corner struck me as carelessness. BUT...I really had fun. GOGOL was cute. Props to W.N. B

Gary Harke 11:28 AM  

If you follow the Afro-American spiritual "Go Down, Moses," the command to "let my people go" is the instruction God (aka "the Lord") gives Moses. As the refrain goes, "Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt's land; tell old Pharoah to let my people go!" (See Exodus 3:7-12.)

Rob C 11:28 AM  

It was God commanding Moses, and then Moses repeating to the Pharaoh what God had commanded - Let my people go.

Agree that the dictator clue is off - it could be "Directive to Pharaoh at a night club"

Puzzle was fun. As already stated funny theme answers and zippy fill.

Sandy K 11:33 AM  


I said that I had trouble at the HIJAB and LETHE cross.

I guess that's not the same as the LETHE/HIJAB cross...

jberg 11:35 AM  

Let's not be too rough on The Count! After all, complaining about Rex is also part of the tradition here.

@webwinger, you may be thinking of "They Were Doing the Mambo" - a guy singing about looking everywhere for his wife and his best friend -- who were "doing the mambo . . . while I just stood around."

Whenever I see OJAI in print, I think the name was a joke about growing oranges. Californians - what's the real story?

OK, the puzzle: I guess it depends on whether you have read GOGOL or know about the rivers of Hades (I learned that in high school Latin, but few take that anymore!) So easy for me -- I've seen plenty of Nolde paintings, too, and am willing to suspend disbelief on the non-spoiling EDAM. (Most cheese gets better with age, so that's actually a weak claim). And it was cute of the constructor to taunt us with the missing Z -- there only in the clue to Zac EFRON, making his second puzzle appearance this week.

Writeovers: TolEDO, saMBa, and ASssEnT befoe ACCEPT.

Now to prove I'm not a BOTRORO.

Ellen S 11:37 AM  

Don't be so negative to The Count. Anyone who comes here knows it is possible to leave; let's rather make them want to stay. Rex is entitled to his opinions, but it's the rest of you posters who keep me coming back. The civility I (usually) find here--oh, and when The Count meets Evil Doug, it will put Rex in perspective.

Lewis 11:54 AM  

@rex -- excellent writeup, things well explained, some humor, and the Ovideo video made my morning. It's just so... strange.

I was Naticked at HIJAB/SEL and guessed wrong.

Loved the theme, especially the silliness of MAKEITSOSO.

Stupid outlaw? -- CONDODO

Comment Counter 12:11 PM  


At least 4 commenters mentioned the LETHE/HIJAB or HIJAB/LETHE 'trouble-makers'.

MikeM 12:42 PM  

I thought DO THE MAMBO was part of the theme and I tried to parse the heck out of it on the bus this morning. Southeast HIJAB did me in. Guessed wrong in 3 places

syndy 12:48 PM  

OJAI is pronounced OH HI! so nothing to do with oranges.It's a pretty little town inland of Santa Barbara heading into the mountains.I think Ojai is a Chumash Indian name. I found the puzzle easy and overly cutesy

Azbert 1:02 PM  

You are far too thoughtful. He's just a nit-picking negativist.

retired_chemist 1:03 PM  

Go easy on The Count - we rarely get visitors from Sesame Street.

From Wikipedia:

Chumash Indians were the early inhabitants of the valley. They called it Ojai, which derives from the Ventureño Chumash word ʼawhaý meaning "moon".[3] The area became part of the Rancho Ojai Mexican land grant made to Fernando Tico in 1837, and he established a cattle ranch. Tico sold it in 1853 without much success to prospectors searching for oil. By 1864, the area was settled.

Sparky 1:11 PM  

WiNBIG at first. Found the solve easy and fun. Ah hah with MAKEITSOSO. Filled in the double endings first. Misread 36A as Director, same difference. Pharoah clue much better.

I suppose EDAM turns rock hard in the fridge. Then you can grate it.

I did this last night with Across Lite and it went pretty fast. Couldn't redo it with pen this AM in Rex's time. How does he do that?

Have fun @Cory. Do say hi to the Rexites.

MarkK 1:42 PM  

And as a child of 70's TV, I know Ojai, California as the town where Jamie Somers, aka the Bionic Woman, lived in her 'secret identity' as a teacher.

chefbea 1:57 PM  

Turned TV on a while ago and CSI was on. Gibs was asking someone if they recognized a Hijab that had been found!!! Never heard that word before and...twice in one day??? Small world

xyz 3:53 PM  

Go figure, I found this puzzle very very easy.

Sfingi 4:07 PM  

Never heard of JOJO Starbucks. Sports. Could have been coffee.

Never heard of either OJAI or OVIEDO.
As far as OVIDEO, in the furture, every stupid cartoon will be on the internet.

I would guess GOGOL's most well-known is Dead Souls. "Don't blame the mirror for ugliness."

Easy puzzle for a Wednesday.

GILL I. 4:19 PM  

I can't believe how many of you have never heard of OVIEDO. I mean they make the best "fabada" in the world....really people!
@LMS...ooh, you wascal you...

sanfranman59 5:03 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Wed 9:21, 11:33, 0.81, 8%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:48, 6:29, 0.89, 20%, Easy-Medium

Tita 5:44 PM  

@dk - I was surprised at the benevolent dictator too...
Haha @acme - that Dick van Dyke episode is where I learned the word too!

In my opinion, no "real" cheese spoils - it just turns bleu...

@Cory - yes - look out for us - maybe @Rex will send us some official "31" badges to wear...

Great puzzle. Also liked Oxford ties. Though I want to know to which Will I point out that TOILE is not by any stretch a sheer fabric. vOILE is very sheer. I've not seen many bridal veils or teddies made of TOILE. Harrumph.

Thanks Will. Really fun puzzle.

LaneB 6:37 PM  

Finally made it through without too much googling,I.e. Gogol. Oviedo rather than Toledo, Twain gravesite. Not bad for an old eighty year old grinder.

John in Philly 7:25 PM  

First time I have laughed out loud in nyt puz in a while with let my people gogo. Loved that!

ACMES 9:05 PM  

PIN TOTO...good one AND it matches in length with @Rex's DON HOHO!!!

@Lewis, yes to yours, too! CON DODO but you would need to make the CON a verb for consistency sake
(e.g." Dupe a dope?")

That's what's the best about a good puzzle...makes you laugh AND inspires you to come up with your own additions to a fun theme!

As for all these dictator questions, certainly this one is a benevolent dictator... more peppy cruise director than Idi Amin, I imagine!

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 8:03, 6:12, 1.30, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 163 Mondays)
Tue 8:44, 8:37, 1.01, 56%, Medium
Wed 9:24, 11:33, 0.81, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:32, 3:39, 1.24, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest ratio of 163 Mondays)
Tue 5:00, 5:01, 1.00, 47%, Medium
Wed 5:40, 6:29, 0.87, 17%, Easy

Jack Lee 4:10 AM  

I third that. The clue made it sound like we were looking for a phrase spoken by a dictator, which threw me off for a while.

Spacecraft 11:47 AM  

MY HIJAB natick wasn't at the H of LETHE (from which we get the word "lethal")--it was at the J of OJO. Yeah, I must be one of the last holdouts on the planet who doesn't know Spanish. What to put in there? Oh, let's make it a J; it's a common Arabic consonant and already has considerable accomaniment in this grid. Another lucky guess that rescued a near-fail on a puzzle that was everywhere else Monday-easy.

Extremely ambitious scrabbliness gave this grid a desperate feel, as if the builder only left himself one way out of being INAJAM, letter-combo-wise. In the middle of all this I overthought the break between flights, figuring LAYOVER would be too obvious. Why, I bet our sly friend meant flights of stairs! So, without even checking across and already having the LA in place: LAnding! Now we have "Make my--" DAN? A fine sentiment, in my case: Dan is my grandson, whom I love to bits.

Disappointed that the clue for 59a didn't read "Picard's order for some lukewarm Earl Grey?"

DMGrandma 1:54 PM  

Enjoyed this one. Had a bit of a slowdown in the HIJAB area, but OJO and OBI solved that corner. Only write over was to replace toLEDO, but even so I ended up with GOGaL. Guess I'm one of those who can't tell a snake from a dance! Ah well!

Dirigonzo 2:35 PM  

I didn't know HIJAB and I so wanted the puzzle to be a pangram that I decided make it one by using a Z to start the word - I'm surprised no one else did the same. Other than that the puzzle was just so-so.

Waxy in Montreal 4:04 PM  

Looked in vain for the ultimate theme clue "Told cellist Ma to stop fooling around?" as in NO MORE YO-YO, YO-YO.

Really enjoyed this puzzle - we've had an ongoing identity debate in Quebec, the destination for many Algerian and Moroccan immigrants, so HIJAB has become an extremely familiar word. Only problem was lack of familiarity with OVIEDO its crosses resolved things. Also had my dances confused for a while with both LIMBO & SAMBA preceding MAMBO.

Idle thought. If a certain Ms Blanchett wished to join in our discussions, could we say "WELCOME TO THE SYNDICATE, CATE"?

Dirigonzo 4:28 PM  

@Waxy - a little "cabin fever", maybe?

Waxy in Montreal 5:12 PM  

@Diri, guilty as charged. That's what happens 'bout this time of year up here in the great frozen north...

Solving in Seattle 5:41 PM  

Clever puzzle that made me chuckle, Will - thanks. Also at almost all of the "add-on" suggestions, especially @Waxy's re Yo Yo and Cate.

My natick also came at JIJAB, but with the SAL cross. Had to google.

Had to get Oviedo totally on crosses.

Loved Tarus Bulba with Yul Brynner.

rain forest 7:20 PM  

Wee chuckle on the shores of Gitche Gumee: Minnehaha haha.

Liked this one. Funny, especially MAKEITSOSO.

I recently bought a case of a wine from either Portugal or Spain called Avieda, and so I almost went for that, but realized that I couldn't make sense of 67A, so that part had to wait until other crosses solved the problem.

Like almost everyone else, I am so impressed by Rex's passion and unremitting adherence to the task of doing a puzzle and then writing a zippy blog, often educating and amusing us along the way. I DO dislike the sense that his first instinct is to find something he can complain about, though. Maybe it IS a schtick...

Dirigonzo 8:42 PM  

@rain forest - "Minnehaha haha" - Ha-ha! You and @Waxy should collaborate on a puzzle to expand on the theme (or maybe you both just need a vacation someplace sunny and hot - I know I do).

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