Lohengrin heroine / TUE 1-29-13 / 1968 Mark Lester film / 1972 Jack Lemmon film / Silent film effect / Like some fails in modern slang / Seiji longtime Boston Symphony maestro

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (just over 4:00)

THEME: EXCLAMATION MARK (40A: It follows the answer to each starred clue) — theme answers are all films that end with said mark

Theme answers:
  • "VIVA ZAPATA!" (17A: *1952 Marlon Brando film)
  • "MAMMA MIA!" (21A: *2008 Meryl Streep film)
  • "OLIVER!" (30A: *1968 Mark Lester film) [uh, who?]
  • "AVANTI!" (46A: *1972 Jack Lemmon film)
  • "AIRPLANE!" (54A: *1980 Robert Hays film)
  • "HELLO, DOLLY!" (64A: *1969 Barbra Streisand film)

Word of the Day: IRIS IN (32D: Silent film effect) —
iris-iniris-out - this transition almost never appears in contemporary films and was used much more commonly in early cinema.  Here, the shot goes from a full frame to focusing a small circle around a certain part of the shot, with everything else blacked out (the iris-in), or the reverse occurs (the iris-out).  You may have seen this transition at the end of a Looney Tunes cartoon, when the cartoon character will sometimes poke his or her head out of the iris as it closes in and crack one last joke (e.g when Porky Pig says, “Tha-tha-tha, that’s all folks”). ("A Short List of Film Terms..." by David T. Johnson)
• • •

Didn't enjoy this one very much. The concept is one that is somewhat interesting, in retrospect, but not that much fun to solve (random year / actor pairings are hard to pick up—a lot of work for not much thematic payoff). Further, the grid is just choked with crosswordese:

ERNE, etc.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the grid seems to be suboptimally constructed. It is really, really hard to get even one Down answer to go through three answers cleanly (i.e. with clean fill in the whole surrounding area). Theme answers go in the grid first, and they really lock you in. You generally try to build a grid that will give you some flexibility, fill-wise. This grid doesn't do that. That central section of the grid is so terrible For A Reason: three consecutive Downs get driven through three theme answers (24D, 31D, 32D). That's nuts. No wonder you've got junk like the P-less VSO and plural MERS and LETAT and (esp!!!!) IRIS IN, whatever that is. Doesn't help that "AVANTI!" is in no way a famous movie. The crosswordese infestation is probably related to this grid rigidity as well. Sometimes having a grid that is chock full o' theme answers (as this one is) comes back to bite you in the ass. The grid just can't take it. Buckles. Cries "Uncle!" Etc.


  • 49A: Harvard Law Review editor who went on to become president (OBAMA) — embarrassed by how long it too me to get this (probably took me only several seconds, but it should've been instant). Note: OBAMA is just OZAWA (5D: Seiji ___, longtime Boston Symphony maestro) with different consonants.
  • 67A: Lensman Adams (ANSEL) — easy, but man I hate the term "lensman." 
  • 71A: Former New York archbishop (EGAN) — also, former (and first) governor of Alaska.
  • 60D: Many a YouTube upload (VLOG) — I know these exist, but I never see this "word" these days. Most people just say "video blog," because most people, upon hearing "vlog," are just going to ask, "I'm sorry, did you say 'blog?'"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Zapata & Zadora = Zilch ability to complete

jae 12:31 AM  

Medium-tough for me also. There were some tough spots for a Tues., e.g. AVANTI/ IRIS IN.  Didn't know the film and had to pause to recall the effect. Plus BOXY/AB OVO might be tough if you aren't familiar with AB OVO which seems more late week than Tues.  Again, I liked this better than Rex did.  Thought the theme was a cut above the usual Tues.

Carola 12:44 AM  

Interesting puzzle. Thanks, @Rex, for going into detail on the grid layout. I'm leaning more toward "tour de force," with those two long downs also connecting three theme answers - though admittedly VOLT AMPERE is low on sparkle. Got the theme early, but was briefly flummoxed when "EXCLAMATION point" refused to fit. Agree with @jae about the theme. Liked it.

Thought the IRIS IN - AVANTI cross seemed hard for a Tuesday. I knew IRIS because I used to teach German Expressionist film but first guessed IRISes and AVANTe - corrected after I got NIL.

Quite a few names ending in A: OZAWA, ZAPATA, NENA, OLGA, ELSA, OBAMA, ZADORA. Liked the two MAMMAs, MIA and CASS. And there's DAD as well.

retired_chemist 12:47 AM  

Medium. While I understand Rex's technical concerns, I enjoyed solving the puzzle. That there was too much crosswordese bothered me too, however. Took about my average Tuesday time, maybe a half minute longer.

ZIPPO @ 15A, the T in TBAR (66A), and NANA @ 56D were pretty much all I needed to overwrite.

Wonder how the nonscientists feel about VOLT-AMPERE. WATT say y'all?

Karl 1:02 AM  

I did not care for this puzzle at all, mainly for the same reasons stated by our blogger. Too much crosswordese. In particular, I find "IBAR" particularly loathsome. I have been in construction most of my adult life and I have never heard the term. It's an I BEAM! Hated it. Two thumbs down.

Anonymous 1:19 AM  

If I had more hands, I'd give it four thumbs down. No fewer than six places where I went "ugh" out loud. ALERS by far is the steamingest turd of the bunch. Oh, what? Steamingest isn't a word? Neither is ALERS. What's our clearance, Clarence? We're out of here. Roger, Roger.

Evan 1:29 AM  

Funny coincidence that last night I posted on Facebook this video from the 1984 spy parody "Top Secret!" starring VAL Kilmer. Believe it or not, the silly character in the clip, Déjà Vu, is played by Jim Carter -- the same actor who portrays Mr. Carson in "Downton Abbey."

I actually found this puzzle on the easy side for a Tuesday, though I can't really explain why. IRIS IN took me a little while to work out, as did LET AT (I had SET AT originally). And like @Carola, I was a little confused by the revealer since I've always heard it as EXCLAMATION POINT. But I had heard of five out of the six movies (except for AVANTI!), and had no serious trouble otherwise.

Rex's points on the fill are well-taken -- I'd add AROAR to his list -- though do people really consider AETNA crosswordese? Its combination of letters make it convenient fill material, sure, but it is a pretty big health insurance company (#5 as of last year). Perhaps it's not available in other solvers' markets, but in my experience it's not just a useful term for grid fill.

Avanti! Cavalry Mammamia! 1:51 AM  

How could I not love this!!!!!!???!!!

Altho I've always assumed they were EXCLAMATION points as well!

But what a fun fun fun idea!!!! Love that young David thought of it! this is the kind of energetic theme I would have loved to have thought of!!!

And altho AVANTI! was obscure, it had to match OLIVER! so that was great to get SIX films in there plus the long reveal.

Even tho there was quite a bit of crosswordese
(I noticed too, sorry, David, and thought this had the ring of a computer program) I thought he MORE than made up for it by having

My only writeover was IMOUT for IFOLD...and I kept reading 49D as DeSSert, so OASIS was hard to see (sort of like a mirage!)

Anyway, fabulous!!!! VIVA DAVID STEINBERG!!!!

syndy 1:53 AM  

How does a single STAIR connect multiple stories? If your theme reveal has to be tortured to fit maybe you should start over?or whats the Point?maybe a U or two would have helped.

chefwen 1:54 AM  

Was shocked with yesterdays rating of challenging when I thought it was was easy. I was prepared to see an easy rating today because I thought it was challenging. Satisfied with the rating. Didn't Google (horrors on a Tuesday) but there were a couple of unknowns that were filled in by crosses, AB OVO, IRIS IN, I guess that was it. Not a huge movie buff, so those came slowly to me.

FERVOR is a cool word and I was surprised when I ran out of squares to put point at the end of 40A. I'M Out before I FOLD also held me up a tad.

Tobias Duncan 1:57 AM  

The only one of these movies I have seen is AIRPLANE. The last two puzzles kind of sucked. If Will has such a hard time getting early week puzzles, how about paying the constructors a premium for them? There is no reason it needs to be a fixed price. He could send out a tweet upping the payment to 1500 bucks a pop until he had a nice stack then send out another tweet lowering it back to 200.
I still maintain that Monday and Tuesday are the most important puzzles of the week because they are the entry point for new solvers.

Hi back to dk Sparky and Loren! I love you guys.

Rube 3:14 AM  

I too thought this was moderately challenging, but primarily because I didn't know what Bubkes meant. I've heard, (or seen), the term, but never really put it into the storehouse, to my embarasment. Anyway, Googled Bubkes and then finished(?) the puzzle... until I came here and realized that ABOVe should be ABOVO. Thus, DNF a Tuesday... most embarrasing.

VOLT AMPERE is just the sort of answer us techie types want to see in our puzzles... sparkly!

Daisy MAE is not what I would call crosswordese. I have not seen my bride clued in a puzzle in the last 3 years, since I got serious about Xwords.

Not being a big movie fan, can't say I was excited about the theme. Never heard of AVANTI!, but the others are classics, (both good and mostly bad).

GILL I. 4:39 AM  

I thought bubkes were grandmothers!!!
I too dislike the clue "Lensman Adams" Why not clue him as environmental folk hero?
Fun puzzle despite a zillion proper names. Loved AIRPLANE. I've watched it many times and I always find something new to laugh at.

Loren Muse Smith 5:19 AM  

I solved this pretty quickly, but I agree that some of the words were hard. Rex’ point about the theme density and the price the grid pays is well taken. Still, to overlap the top two and bottom two and have three downs intercepting the middle three had to have been really tough.

OZAWA with his ANIME, YVES with his MERS, OLGA with her NYET, AHAB with his ORCAS. . .

Hand up for wanting point instead of MARK.

@Gill I.P. – I had the same inclination for “bubkes.”

@chefwen – I like FERVOR, too. FERVOR, furor, fever. . .hmm.

Thanks, David. Hi DAD!

CBCD 7:09 AM  

This puzzle took me more than twice my usual Tuesday time of seven minutes to finish, even though it was filled with crossword puzzle gifts - sloe, alers, nyet, ravi, silas, and more.

Obama was the president of the Harvard Law Review, not the editor. It was still a gimme, but I appreciate accuracy in clues.

Z 7:29 AM  

CAVALRY MEN? A future Retronym, perhaps.

PIA ZADORA was a gimme, but that region took me 6 minutes by itself. ScAM and my ignorance of the Boston Symphony kept me from seeing ZILCH (the cf. clue "49A with different consonants" would have been just as helpful). ICE axe and ignoring the "and others" part of the clue in 4D until the very end kept me from ICE SAW. W was my last letter in.

Today it was LET AT. Other days it is L'ETAT. Louis was definitely Master of his DOMAIN.

Anonymous 7:38 AM  

ORCAS are NOT whales; they are dolphins. Exclamation point.

Nancy 7:49 AM  


Anne Marie 7:53 AM  


Glimmerglass 8:29 AM  

Seemed easy to me, because 1) I used to teach film history (iris, VIVA ZAPATA! -- the B-side of On the Waterfront), and 2) I do a lot of xword puzzles. One drawback of xwording is that one knows, or can guess, a lot of junky fill. However, that's also an advantage, especially if, like Rex, one is obsessively fixated on time.

Goose Gossage 8:40 AM  

A name on a plaque is a DONOR
In this puzzle; that is a moaner.
In the Baseball Hall Of Fame,
When the people put your name
On a plaque it's meant as an hONOR!

evil doug 8:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 9:02 AM  

Exclamation mark question point question point question point

Anti nyet nailed nil rip zilch skat exclamation mark exclamation mark exclamation mark


Milford 9:08 AM  

DNF here. Amazingly I somewhat guessed on the AVANTI/IRIS IN correctly, and then OZAWA to finally see SAW. And Latin helped me get AB OVO, a phrase I've never seen. But what killed me in the end was having hONOR instead of DONOR, as @Goose said above. Can someone just give me a list of the 4-letter ports so I can memorize them by ROTE for future puzzles?

Got the theme at AIRPLANE! and was able to quickly fill in the rest of the movies fairly quick (save AVANTI). Hand up for being momentarily confused when EXCLAMATION point wouldn't fit.

Liked the clue for BILBO.

@Evan - Top Secret! is a great movie - too bad it wasn't included.

(P.S. Hi e.k. !)

joho 9:12 AM  

Interesting theme with a lot of FERVOR!!!!!!! However regarding the fill: send in the CAVALRYMEN!!!

jberg 9:23 AM  

Maybe it's another regional thing - back home in Sturgeon Bay we used EXCLAMATION MARK and point pretty interchangeably. And while only very old people knew how to play SKAT, we all played its derivative, sheephead. They have bidding and you take tricks, so I guess they are sort of like bridge - as compared to, say, poker. But not very much.

Aside from writing OBAMA in at 48A due to misreading the number, and having LET on before AT at 32D, this one was pretty easy - even though I hadn't heard of about half the movies.

Positives: 2 Zs, an X, a K -- all but the Q, I think. And a new clue for our old friend the ERNE, adding to my knowledge of avian tail colors.

Also a good illustration of philosophical differences, where Rex's 'long downs stupidly crossing 3 theme answers' is some others' 'Wow! Long downs crossing 3 theme answers!' That's what makes blogs (and horse races) interesting, difference of opinion.

p.s. Is there really oil in Yemen?

John V 9:24 AM  

Agree with the rating, more challenging that not. Got it okay, but just stared at IRISIN and could not for the life of me know what that meant. LETATT beside IRISIN is not wonderful.

The theme? Meh. I was very nervous that I'd have a DNF with six film titles; I think I've only seen Airplane. Miraculously I got them all.

jackj 9:27 AM  

Taking note that David Steinberg is, what, 14 years old maybe, there’s not much in his puzzle that didn’t happen before he BAAED his first joyous bellow of birth.

Of course that’s immediately evident as he features six films that pumped up their images by using an EXCLAMATIONMARK in their titles as his theme, with only one of them, MAMMAMIA, having been initially released during his time here on planet Earth.

No matter, David elevates the “Terrible Tuesday” puzzle to a commendable level by featuring interesting entries like DOMAIN, NAILED, the “Bubkes” Yiddisher twins, ZILCH and NIL and my favorite, FERVOR, then shamelessly interweaves them with Pia ZADORA, a company of charging CAVALRYMEN, Mama CASS, Boston’s own, (now Vienna’s own), maestro Seiji OZAWA and a host of additional people, places and things that for him are history, but for most of his solvers are recent events.

He pushed the limits for a Tuesday puzzle’s fill with such outliers as IRISIN, NENA, VOLTAMPERE, VLOG, ERNE and ABOVO but he at least made sure that the crosses were friendly enough to help with the answers.

(It’s of interest that in his capacity as Editor of the Orange County Register’s crossword puzzle (imagine that!), David lists the following instruction for constructors who are submitting puzzles to him for publication:

“Keep uninteresting obscurities (such as African antelopes and all the various shorebirds) and crosswordese (e.g., ESNE) to a minimum.”

David would likely argue that his questionable entries are “interesting” obscurities.

What a joy to have such a talented and ambitious young man sharing his gifts with us!

Thanks, David.

B Donohue 9:28 AM  

I loved my "aha" moment when I finally understood the theme as I was filling in my 3rd theme answer. MAMMA MIA and HELLO DOLLY fell first, but AIRPLANE was the dead giveaway. Lots of fun.

I just learned the term IRISIN (I had IRISeN), but this 36-year-old is familiar with it from the cartoons (e.g. Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry) and James Bond movies of my youth. Seems like good crossword-ese.

Unknown 9:28 AM  

Guess I picked the wrong week to stop taking amphetamines.

I fall more toward Rex on this one, mostly because of ABOVO. For a puzzle with so many EXCLAMATION points, I wanted zippier theme answers. OLIVER! AIRPLANE! and HELLO DOLLY! all fit, but the others are too obscure to be much fun for me.

(CAPTCHA doesn't seem to be working...just says: reCAPTCHA challenge image in the box, with no buttons to refresh :-/

chefbea 9:40 AM  

Tough Tuesday!! Had to google before I could finish.
Loved the clue for stair and absolutely love Airplane!!! Cant tell you how many times I've seen it.

No Respect? 9:53 AM  

Avanti! (1972) at IMDb
Rating 7.1/10

Golden Globes 1973

Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy Jack Lemmon

Best Director - Motion Picture Billy Wilder
Best Motion Picture - Musical/Comedy
Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy
Juliet Mills
Best Screenplay I.A.L. Diamond
Billy Wilder
Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Clive Revill
Writers Guild of America, 1973

Nominated - Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium
Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond

Lindsay 9:55 AM  

Are you sure the theme isn't "movies you thought were stage shows"? (MAMMA MIA, OLIVER, HELLO DOLLY)

With a helping of "movies you've never heard of"? (VIVA ZAPATA, AVANTI)

dk 9:56 AM  

Every other day, every other day,
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Tuesday comes, but whenever Tuesday comes
You can find me cryin' all of the time

Apologies to Mama CASS.

What is it about Tuesday? Environmental Psychologists talk about the power/curse of place. For example: The corner where every restaurant fails. Is Tuesday that day in puzzledom. I have done the math (really) and this is the most disliked day of the week.

Rex even invents grid rules to dis this offering up to the alter of Tuesday.

Andrea tries her best to bring light to the tomb of Tuesday -- but alas even the clapping of bloggers can not help.

Me. I found this puzzle to be fine (considering the above). We know ICESAW as an auger here in WI and I read French seas as seats causing some puzzle angst.

🚫🚫 (2 banishments) Perhaps, like the 13th floor, we should just call this Moweday and banish the curse.

mac 10:05 AM  

Harder than usual Tuesday, but nice theme idea. Irisin didn't get parsed until I got here….

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Avanti was released in 1973, not 1972.

Sandy K 10:11 AM  

Glad I knew those movies, because it was too early in the morning to remember that they all ended with a !

Wasn't sure if it was A nOVO or A BOVO, and what is IRIS IN? But got them...

REDS is a movie, but no !
Nice to see Meg RYAN for a change.

Does our constuctor have a FERVOR for movies and names? I do! Thanks David!

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

What is a VAT doing in a textile factory on a Tuesday?

Never heard of SKAT, so the reveal took too long, and even once I had it, it didn't help me get the movies I'd never heard of.

Sandy D.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

There's this photo, an actual contemporaneous print, of ZAPATA hanging on the wall of my favorite Mexican Restaurant. He's sitting on the worlds' ugliest horse, with the requisite rifles, bandaleros, the whole shebang.

That photo makes me want to pick up a machete join the revolution.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

@Sandy D. - They're too heavy and bulky to move out of the factory Monday night, when we're through dying the threads we use during the week. Most are bolted to the floor, anyway.

Evan 10:19 AM  


I don't think Rex is "inventing" grid rules, but rather highlighting the fact that down answers which cross three theme entries, especially when they're all so close together, constrain the grid in such a way as to make the fill worse than they might otherwise.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

@armagh - Unless December 17th, 1972 is somehow is in 1973, no it wasn't.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

I don't know who won first, but the Jan 25, 2013 Crossynergy Wash Post by Doug Peterson had the same movie "!" Theme as today NYT and four theme entries were exact. Never saw this before, at least within 4 days!

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

The theme was fine but the fill made it not worth the price of admission.

Mr. Benson 10:57 AM  

Surely you can't find fault with a puzzle that has Airplane as one of the theme answers!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:58 AM  

Random musing: Seeing all these movie titles with Exclamation points in them (have only seen a couple of the films, but all the titles were familiar), I was reminded of the notable lack of a question mark in the title of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". According to MovieMistakes.com, "The title has no question mark at the end, because according to director Robert Zemeckis, there's an old superstition that films with a question mark in the title do badly at the box office."
(Submitted by Jazetopher)

Nothing about how exclamtory films fare!

Nick 11:11 AM  

Not much fun, plus with fill like VLOG and OLGA Korbut and CASS Elliot, it just felt fusty and dated.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

@Mr. Benson -I dont' recall any comments by Shirley, so to whom are you replying?

Internet Positif 11:39 AM  

very good posting ... still is making useful articles in the future
I like your postings

webwinger 11:42 AM  

With film critic hat on, I’ll put myself in the thumbs up column for this one. At least nodding familiarity with all of the movies, though I had only seen three of them. Time at just under 25 min was about half again as long as usual for a Tuesday, but I didn’t need to google at all. I remember calling ! an exclamation mark when I was in school (like question mark—I think that was Evil Doug’s point), though for many years have usually referred to it as a point. Didn’t mind the many dumb short words as much as Rex and some of the other commenters; think I’m getting used to them as I gather more X-word experience, and see them as part of the price for getting an engaging theme, which today’s definitely was for me. Even ALers came quickly—similar constructions seem fairly common in the NYT puzzles.

Carola 11:49 AM  

@Rube -
On VOLT AMPERE - I take your point. After I posted I realized it had more to do with my knowledge provincialism than innate sparkle.

quilter1 11:50 AM  

Not so challenging with all the crosswordese and the movies came easily (might be an age thing). Still, not the most fun I've had on a Tuesday.

Mel Ott 11:52 AM  

With the early appearance of APOP and CASS, and the liberal sprinkling of MAs and PAs throughout the grid, I thought this would have something to do with MAMAS and PAPAS.

But no - it's just about EXCLAMATION POINTS? No, MARKS!

CatholicBoy 12:22 PM  

I thought bubkes was Yiddish for "pals". as in "My bubkes forgot the potato pancakes, Oy Vey"

John V 12:27 PM  

Re: AETNA; appears in LAT puzzle today, too. Spoooooky. AETNA's coming to get us.

Sfingi 12:43 PM  

Avanti Popoli! The communist anthem. Also, a rather nice Studebaker from the '60s.

DNF because of IRIS IN, AB OVO, VLOG. This is Tues.?

VIVA ZAPATA is a movie Not to see.

Got the theme last, which added Bubkes to the solve.

As the lamb said, "BAA."

@Rube - M-W are most important because they cause me (and I suspect others) to actually buy the NYT. Science section on Tues. helps, too.
There is no home delivery in these parts.

@Anon1136 - Maybe he meant Surely U. Jest from AIRPLANE.


Yiddish.com 12:48 PM  

Bubkes is Yiddish for horse or goat droppings. It's come to mean something of no value.

Bubbe is Yiddish for grandmother, as in my Bubbe forgot to bring the potato pancakes.

My sincerest sympathies to all of you for whom the two words mean one and the same.

Mitzie 12:49 PM  

I say take out OLIVER and AVANTI, rework the grid a bit, and you have a hit puzzle. Otherwise it's just a frustrating solve.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:10 PM  

Does anyone know what happened to Diary of a Crossword Fiend?

Anoa Bob 1:33 PM  

Not a movie buff so I didn't cotton to this theme, neither in the 1/25/13 Wash Post version nor today's NYT. Unusual that a movies-ending-with-an-! theme with essentially the same theme entries would run in two major xword venues so close together!

BTW, check at crosswordfiend.com to see anyone there noticed the near-duplication, and all I got was the announcement that "This account has been suspended"! What's up there?

Rob C 1:36 PM  

I got the same message at crossword fiend when I tried the link on xwordinfo.com. Then I googled it and got there with no problem.

skua76 1:41 PM  

@Bob K, I was wondering that too. But just now it's back.

I HATED this puzzle. Too many movies I didn't know how to spell. And what Rex said!

Bird 1:44 PM  

Cool concept, but I think this was a little difficult for a Tuesday. And, I was Naticked by 46A/32D – I finished with AVANTe/IRISEN. I was not sure of either one and both seemed reasonable/plausible. And all the crosswordese (who says/uses ALERS?). And AROAR (I hate A-words)

Corrections at 44A (I had TILT), 63A (I had LIME) and 60D ( I had MPEG).

Is David trying to be cute with “lensman”?

I thought VLOGs were sites where you uploaded videos (similar to blogs) and not uploads themselves.

AIRPLANE* is a great movie with all those quotable lines.

*EXCLAMATION MARK (right or wrong, MS Word uses the term "mark").

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

(PREPUCE)Since I have one, *bubkes made it hard. The puzzle. 100% complete, no errors, but a putrid puzzle. Just awful. Containing ROTE somehow self-fulfilling in its crosswordese.

*I thought grammy, too.

Lewis 1:55 PM  

@evan -- thanks for the clip, can't believe that's Mr. Carson!

Thank you @yiddish.com -- very well expressed.

I'm becoming a David Steinberg fan for his creativity. Just last night I did his January Fireball Puzzle which had clever cluing and sparkle. Someone said this puzzle felt like something from way in the past, but to me there was a younger feel, with VLOG, ANIME, and BILBO. The theme was definitely early week, but I agree with Rex that there was too much ugliness in the fill.

I believe the criticisms will help young David refine his art, and that many solvers will come to feel about him as I already do.

morecraft 2:26 PM  

VivaZapata! is one of the great movies of the early fifties. Brando, A. Quinn, David Weissman are all brillant. Only a Philistine would make such a negative statement abut this piece of art. Now Avanti! and Oliver! would fit into your missive.

morecraft 2:30 PM  

Sorry. Joseph Weissman

Acme 2:36 PM  

By the way, the second annual MINNESOTA CROSSWORD TOURNAMENT ( i know, it already needs a new name!) is this weekend!!!!
Check it out Www.Thefriends.org/Programs/calendar/minnesota-crossword-tournament.html

It's all Minnesota contructors including Andrew Ries, Victor Barocas and myself...

Nameless 3:23 PM  

@morecraft - OLIVER! is a timeless work of art starring many fine actors. And what's wrong with the Philistines?

Tita 3:33 PM  

As I dropped answers into the grid, I thought "I''m at the point where I know the answer not because I'm smart but because I've done a million crosswords.
AETNA - I knew it was AETNA and not cignA becausee the former is
simply more "useful" to constructors.

As you've all pointed out, there seemed to be a high concentration of them.

Having said that, I enjoyed the puzzle. At first was like "ho-hum - movies", but then I was like "oh - they all have !s at the end - coo-ul".
Airplane! is one of the few slapstick movies that I absolutely adore. @Susan McC - lol!

Like the clue for CLAM, much happier to see local girl Meg RYAN than what's-his-name from last week.
And just reread The Hobbit (I lived in Middle Earth while in college, long before the current movies were a glimmer in Hollywood's eye.) And long before Mr. Steinberg was born.

So thank you for overall a fun Tuesday.

Oh - and right off the bat, at MAMMAMIA and only some I's and A's at VIVAZAPATA, I thought the theme was A's, I's and one consonant...

@Bob K - another of my favorite movies - never noticed the missing "?".

@acme - we'll be with you in spirit in Westport. Say hey to Tom Pepper if you see him.

MetaRex 4:02 PM  

I liked it. Had no idea what was up w/ IRIS-IN. But it's kinda cool in itself and has a neat implicit connection to the theme of movies with hyperbole. If the word most of us have never heard of had been NISIRI = former Albanian currency or something like that, I'd second the negative reax to the puzzle.

More here

sanfranman59 4:04 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)

Tue 8:43, 8:37, 1.01, 56%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:09, 5:03, 1.02, 55%, Medium

Bungerting Baloner 6:18 PM  

Come on Will! Your standards have really dropped in recent weeks...

Acme 7:02 PM  

As much as I love Tom Pepper, I will not actually be making a trip to Minnesota in February! My puzzle will have to represent! I do wish I could be both there and Westport and everywhere at once!

Strange, just did yesterday's LATimes by Gareth Bain and MAMMAMIA! Is a theme answer (tho totally different, fun theme) in the exact same place in the grid!!!

Laneb 7:14 PM  

Tough Tuesday. DNF because of ABOVO

chefwen 8:12 PM  

@jberg - My dad got my brother a summer job at the Caterpillar plant in MKE. All the workers there would play Sheepshead during breaks and lunch. On the way home after his first day my brother (not a card player) asked my dad why everyone was talking about some guy named Schneider. My circle of friends, avid Sheepshead players laughed about that for years.

C. Everett Koop 8:21 PM  

Clearly, while the rest of the nation struggles with influenza and norovirus, the denizens of Crossworld are afflicted with acute MAMMA MIA! MANIA.

OISK 8:40 PM  

Fascinating how someone found Monday easy and this one difficult - in puzzles as in art (and food), one man's meat... I sailed right through this one after having an awful time (and an error) yesterday. I had heard of all the movies, above was easy because I nailed all the down clues. 6 minutes total, which is unusually fast for me on a Tuesday.

Mr. Steinberg may be young, but he doesn't infuse his puzzles with a load of pop culture. That keeps me happy.

To nitpick just a bit, "Bupkes" as I have always heard it used, doesn't really mean "nil." As someone else wrote, it means "nothing of value." "I have three jacks, what do you have?" "I've got bupkes." You might answer "I have zilch.", but you would never say "I 've got nil."

I enjoyed the puzzle, and liked the theme!

OISK 8:41 PM  

meant to write (above) "ab ova" was easy, and wrote the mysterious "Above" was easy. Sorry.

OISK 8:43 PM  

Arghhh!!! That should have been "ab ovo" ! My computer keeps auto-correcting it!

Acme 10:33 PM  

@C. everett Koop
AND just now it was an answer on Jeopardy! Third answer under foreign phrases...MAMMAMIA that's a lot...
Monday LA Times, Tuesday NYT, Tuesday Jeopardy!

By the way, Tom Pepper who WILL be in person at the Minnesota Crossword tourney as well as a puzzle he constructed.

ANON B 11:24 PM  

I wonder if if printed "irisin"
on paper and showed it to 100
random people how many would
know what it means and how to
pronounce it?

Ellen S 1:14 AM  

I knew IRIS IN from that movie about F. W. Murnau that I can't remember the name of. It was a kind of cross between a horror movie and a biopic. Anyway, Murnau was making "Nosferatu" and kep saying, "Iris in" and we'd see the visible area shrink, as if we were looking through the camera.

sanfranman59 1:33 AM  

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

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

Waxy in Montreal 9:49 AM  
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Waxy in Montreal 9:52 AM  

Syndicomments begin here:

Loved the theme and its reveal but lost any FERVOR for this puzzle over its fill, especially IRIS IN, VLOG, SKAT, BAAED & AB OVO. Just because Google provides hits, I don't think the constructor should get a free pass from Will to include any number of obscurities and crosswordese. (Or maybe I'm just steamed because I thought Bubkes meant babies!)

Spacecraft 10:58 AM  

Okay, I may not even look at Friday's or Saturday's puzzle, if Tuesday is gonna be like this! I damn near DNF because of that natick. Pure guess: I, and I was home. I agree, that whole center (last place I filled) was terrible. That AVANTI must have been a real stinker; a Jack Lemmon film I've never heard of? I didn't think that'd be possible. And IRISIN? Who besides a serious film history student would ever know this? With the yucky partial LETAT the middle was just a mess.

I had about half the films in place, trying to think what 15-letter thing follows them and never realizing what--until the Robert Hays clue. That's a gimme (his only known follow-up other than Airplane!2 was a flop called Take This Job and Shove It!--yet another example!) At that "point" I got the big fifteener--which had to be altered to the much-less-familiar "MARK." I bet David was tempted to widen the grid a notch and rework. (He should've.)

I've heard the term clued twice here for "nothing", but in my neck of the woods the second consonant sound was "p," as in "bupkus." So I was a while getting around to that.

I liked that CASS sits over MAMMAMIA--but Mama was used in the clue...awfully close to a yellow flag there, dude. Medium-challenging--and a shudder for what is to come.

And PLEASE, Rex, stop putting your ridiculously short times in parentheses after your rating. It's beginning to annoy the hell out of me. So you're a genius. I get it already!

Ginger 3:06 PM  

Learned something today; IRISIN! It cost me a DNF, because of the Natick with AVANTe. @Spacecraft, I've not heard of it either.

AIRPLANE! is a classic. I can't read the title without laughing. Pure genius. It gets you with the first sequence, showing a commercial jet, with the sound track of a little prop plane, and Jaws lurking below.

Crosswordese doesn't bother me as much as most of you here, sometimes I need it to get a toehold :-)

I liked this puzzle, though pretty tough for Tues. Thanks to the wunderkid!

Dirigonzo 3:08 PM  

Many years ago when my younger son wqas a toddler I got a Cocker Spaniel named OLIVER; Alex could never quite master the name and it came out something like "Huckleber", which is what we called the dog for the rest of his days.

At one time I thought the Studebaker AVANTI was the coolest looking car on the road and I seem to recall it had a lot of innovative features for its time - kind of makes me wish I had bought one and held onto it.

I learned some of the crosswordese in the grid today by ROTE.

DMGrandma 3:19 PM  

I saw this one as a cluster of "v's" and "z's" and thought it was kind of fun. I, too, thought Bubkes referred to some kind of elderly person, but once I got one of them, the other was a gimme. In the end, I came to see what was wrong with IRISIN, only to find my error was not there, but in the NE where I had ANIMa. What do I know about Japanese films? True ALaRS looked strange, but I figured it was another, unknown to me, sports something. So, another almost day, with a lot of friendly blog talk here to liven it up a bit!

Well, maybe failing the robot thing has added more spice to my life-grr!

rain forest 5:44 PM  

Exclamation mark, for sure. Also a good puzzle thematically, and not as bad, fill-wise, as some assert.

Like @dirigonzo, loved the Studebaker Avanti, and the Silver Hawk. Unfortunately, they dared to be different, and I guess car buyers didn't.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

Hated this puzzle for all of the reasons stated but most especially for copying someone else's work!

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

Why make so many people miserable so early in the week! I'm not even going to finish this week out! Ridiculous!

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

For a Tuesday Crossword, this was awful. I circled eleven clues where I had either never heard of the clue or the answer. Eleven!






BUBKES - (again)? And I got nothing.




ELSA? Lohengrin I'd have gotten, but Elsa?

VLOG? Never heard of it.

I had issues with others:

68A was "Common feature in Roman statuary." I guessed "nudity," but too many letters. The answer was "TOGA". TOGA?

4D: So "Baden-Baden" is a spa. Who knew?

29D: VOLTAMPERE? So now we gotta be an electrician to work the Tuesday crosswords?

The mark of a good crossword puzzle is one where you don't have to speak a foreign language, or know the names of obscure rivers in Eastern Europe, the directors of long gone movies, or who won the 1927 Baseball World Series, in order to work it.

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