2006 Jay-Z single / WED 5-15-13 / English comedian Mayall / Iditarod terminus / Pitcher Dennis in Cooperstown for short / Film character based on Hearst / Neuf Parisian landmark / Soap brand that contains pumice / 1983 Tony-winning musical

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Constructor: David Sullivan

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: sounding opposite — two-word phrases where the words sound like opposites of one another (when actually one of them is just a homophone of the opposite)

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Good stretch for the Dow (STRONG WEEK)
  • 23A: Extra after a movie's credits, perhaps (HIDDEN SCENE)
  • 39A: 2006 Jay-Z single ("LOST ONE")
  • 50A: Midas service (BRAKE REPAIR) 
  • 59A: Cry accompanying the arrival of visitors ("THEY'RE HERE!")

Word of the Day: Dennis ECKersley  (46A: Pitcher Dennis in Cooperstown, for short) —
Dennis Lee Eckersley (born October 3, 1954), nicknamed "Eck", is an American former Major League Baseball pitcher. Eckersley had success as a starter, but gained his greatest fame as a closer, becoming the first of only two pitchers in Major League history to have both a 20-win season and a 50-save season in a career (the other being John Smoltz). // He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004, his first year of eligibility. He is also noted as the pitcher who gave up a dramatic, walk-off home run (a phrase Eckersley coined after this home run) to the injured Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. (wikipedia)
• • •

Me: "'STRONG WEEK'? That's pretty weak." Totally unironically. Had no idea what the theme was at this point. And now I know why I had to suffer through some weak phrases—for this interesting if slightly gangly theme. I don't believe HIDDEN SCENE is what its clue says it is. How is appearing (!) after a movie's credits "HIDDEN?" Also, "LOST ONE"? Not exactly a front-of-the-catalogue single. I blew through this puzzle in high-Mon/low-Tue time, but I'm quite sure that was not the case for most folks. Probably played closer to normal, based mainly on the odd theme phrases and, let's say, ECK. Or, I don't know, maybe you thought Steve Austin had a bionic LEFT ARM (that's the first thing I wrote in). I mostly like the fill here, though what the hell is a RIK Mayall??? (62D: English comedian Mayall). I'm looking at his wikipedia page and the only thing I even vaguely recognize him from is "Drop Dead Fred." He's clearly big in Britain, but here? He's a name? Wow, missed that. I think RIK and the EYE/ARM thing ... and the Jay-Z song ... were the only parts of the puzzle that gave me any trouble. Oh, I wrote in EDIT instead of FONT at 19A: Microsoft Word menu pick. Still seems like a reasonable answer.

LEFT EYE was the stage name of Lisa Lopes, one of the three members of R&B group TLC. That would've been a cool clue, but probably more Friday/Saturday-level.

Started with CATS (1A: 1983 Tony-winning musical) and just ran the Downs from there. Very segmented grid, but in such a way that there's really no way to get stuck—you've got outs all over the place. For whatever reason, most of the clues gave up their answers almost instantly. Charles Foster KANE (36D: Film character based on Hearst). NOME, Alaska (53D: Iditarod terminus). None of it took much mulling over. Speaking of, enjoyed MULL OVER (48A: Reflect deeply on) and especially EPITOME (26D: Prime example). Also enjoyed all the Ks. Though not KAY so much (30A: "Every kiss begins ..." jeweler). Weird.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


dmw 12:04 AM  

I found it easy also, for me for a Wednesday, but I had to read what the theme was and read the theme answers a few times before I got it. Sometimes a theme helps, and sometimes wtf?

Unknown 12:04 AM  

Good blog post, wish was good as mine.

Does anyone find the "NAME DROP" a little bit too close to yesterday?

JFC 12:07 AM  

Theme good. Rest not matter. Rex....


jae 12:13 AM  

Easy for me. Only erasure was axis for NAZI. But, I really had to stare at it to grok the "opposites" theme. Also, kept wondering how MULL OVER and NAME DROP fit in. So, maybe this is tough themes week or maybe I'm just dense tonight?

Smooth grid except for maybe ECK which along with RIK was a WOE.

Not real zippy but the subtle theme made it interesting. Liked it.

I'm wondering who is more obscure for Rex's generation, Steve Austin or Lisa Lopes?

FearlessKim 12:22 AM  

Lots of theme-like competition from 7- and 8-letter acrosses made the theme ungrokable for this solver. So I just solved away, in kind of an average time, without any particular feeling of ECK or ARG, and not much to MULLOVER, other than a brief pause at ECK. Not a STRONGWEEK for me, but chacon a son gout, right?

FearlessKim 12:23 AM  

and yes, @KerrySmith, I was surprised to see another NAMEDROP in today's puzzle.

okanaganer 12:44 AM  

Done in by baseball again! With some crosses, I might have inferred the full surname from just "Pitcher Dennis", but the nickname ECK means nothing to me. Cuz I also had no idea on LOCKE I was left with a random guess for the letter C, so finished with one error.

And our good old friend ESSO. Funny...you may think being Canadian would help here, but the only way I know this answer is from past puzzles. How could we know you don't have it down there? It originates from Standard Oil ("Ess O"), right?, which was an American company. "Gas brand in Canada" should be Petro Canada, Husky, etc.

Bookdeb 12:46 AM  

@Rex: double check 17A in your write-up.

I know the "HIDDEN SCENE" after the movie credits as an "Easter egg", not a hidden scene. There's a good one at the end of "Cars" featuring Richard Kind and Edie McClurg.

Unknown 12:55 AM  

Very easy. I don't think I got held up anywhere. Cute theme.

The first three themers have the homophone as the second word, while the last two have it as the first word. For symmetry, maybe it would have been nice to have a double homophone in the center. Tough to think of one that can be clued (preferably without '?') and has an odd number of letters. Christmas shopping in the YULE AISLE is an example that fits but isn't good.

If the puzzle had an even number of columns, it gets easier to find double homophones but not good ones.

GNEISS MIEN (Fantastic Four member The Thing's countenance?)
RAY'S RAYS (my apologies)

retired_chemist 1:37 AM  

Theme? Unknown until I came here. What I noticed particularly was the choppy feel of the grid. So many short answers made for a fairly slow solve even though the answers were in general easy. ARG.

Mini NO down theme - NO ID, DR NO, NO TUP and NO LA. I prefer NO TUP to NOT UP - just because crossworld is the only place I have ever seen TUP. Has to do with naughty actions of sheep in England, apparently. MULL it OVER. Or NOt....

Thanks, Mr. Sullivan.

Numinous 1:59 AM  

"Every kiss begins with KAY!"

I never even saw ECK, I got it with downs and never looked back until I saw it here.

My only erasures were eng for ARG and asta for TOTO. I was positive that If Asta hadn't bitten Miss Gulch, Nora would have.

Most of this one filled in easily on downs for me so I got a wry surprise when I noticed the opposites.

benko 2:08 AM  

Also finished the puzzle in Tuesday time.
I usually call it a "bonus scene".
Rik Mayall is best known for the Young Ones, a British comedy classic. Try it out sometime! Witty and anarchic, smart and stupid in all the right places.

Benko 2:14 AM  

We used to have Esso, but we changed the name to Exxon. Standard Oil had a lot of bad press here because of anti-trust lawsuits. The US is the only place they have Exxon instead of Esso.

Michaela 2:14 AM  

Rik Mayall is also known for two indelible appearances on Black Adder as Lord Flashheart: "I've got a plan, and it's as hot as my pants!"

...ok, two episodes of a foreign show may not make him a household name in the States but that one was a gimme for me.

syndy 2:23 AM  

I did not notice the homo opposition of the theme answers-I was hung up on their bogusness.I guess they have some reason for the phases even if they are totally bogus like how an oboe is a cone-really???

chefwen 2:39 AM  

I took more time trying to figure out the theme than it took me to solve the puzzle. Finally gave up and figured if they can have a themed Saturday (hardly ever happens) then they can have a theme less Wednesday (also, hardly ever happens) These people have to quit messin' with my head.

41A reminded me of our old pal @Jesser, miss him and hope he is doing O.K. Which reminded me of @Tobias - miss him too.

Easy week so far, are we in for a bumpy ride ahead?

Loren Muse Smith 5:46 AM  

I didn’t get the theme, either, so I’m so glad that I can come here to be schooled. Once I saw it, I loved it! Loved it. This is exactly the kind of observation of our language that delights me. Oxymorons that aren’t oxymorons – they just sound like THEY’RE oxymorons. My instinct is to kick myself that I’ve never noticed anything like this myself, but, honestly, only THEY’RE HERE is a phrase in my world – BRAKE REPAIR, almost. But I buy that the themers are real phrases for most solvers and I have to say again, I really got a kick out of this one.

@Keith H - I liked what you said and was impressed with your pairs. I clicked on your name and didn’t see much about you. I’ll be watching for your comments now. The only pair I could come up with would work for @jackj (I imagine) and other Bostonians:


@jae – RIK and ECK – WOEs for me,too.

@FearlessKim – those 8’s kept luring me in, too, as themers.

@retired_chemist – my brother-in-law’s* nickname is TUP.

I really liked NAIVETE, EPITOME, SKEIN, (poor, poor ESL students – how to pronounce them?) MULL OVER, and NAME DROP. Bleedovers like NAME DROP please me rather than bother me.

With the H. . . .O, I was writing in “hell no” for HEAVE HO, thinking, “wow.” Had to regroup when I ran out of letters.

David Sullivan – I’m going to spend a lot of time, now, trying to notice more pairs like these. Thanks!

*extremely linguistic, probably boring to most: we add the plural s to a hyphenated noun:
but the possessive s to the end:

I wonder why. No idea.

Anonymous 6:58 AM  

And I remember that there was some problem with Exon being a dity word in another language, so the admen added another x. I thought it would be cool to know all the noon words in all the other languages so I couldn't be busted for swearing!

Milford 7:01 AM  

Hand up for not getting any theme until coming here. I wish I had tried saying the phrases out loud, it may have helped. I knew there had to be one, as I could not believe STRONG WEEK and HIDDEN SCENE were included just for being nice, long phrases.

@retired chemist - NO TUP made me laugh. I actually knew what TUP meant!

Like @benko, I know RIK Mayall from watching "The Young Ones" on MTV with my older siblings in the 1980s. He was the obnoxious anarchist whose name was Rick, with a silent "P". Agree that it's still pretty obscure for a Tuesday.

Liked EPITOME, PESKY, and the cluing for TOTO.

Glimmerglass 7:25 AM  

Got LEFT EYE but wrote File and FiNd before FONT. Never saw the theme.

Z 7:32 AM  

Would RIK Smits be any better known? I doubt it since I had to google to remember his last name.

Meditate slowed me down in the SE, until LIME pointed out my error to me. 14 minutes is slow on a a Wednesday for me. LEFT arm, DRax before DR NO, dOnne before LOCKE, a little bit to MULL OVER in just about every corner. NAME DROP and MULL OVER seem like they should be themes, so no idea until coming here. I like it. Subtle and playful.

Are NAZI ZITs a thing? I suspect NO TUP for you if you have one.

John V 7:33 AM  

Easy. LOSTONE was last to drop, of course. Wasn't sure if we wanted ASTO or TOTO @ 44a, but hello Toto.

That's all I got.

John V 7:33 AM  

That would be ASTA, of course.

dk 7:38 AM  

Sister was in love with The Bionic Man so we got to hear all about his bionic parts over and over and over again.

Sailed through this one. Not quite up to par for a Wednesday, Too easy.

@tobias you lazy sack of hammers: post.

** (2 Stars)

evil doug 7:57 AM  

I have a nice mien.

Tried MUse OVER, Loren, and I was really going to let you have it had that been right.


Raúl 7:59 AM  

Tom Friedman in today's NYT reports from SANA, Yeman.

Old joke:
My uncle is from Alaska.

Nome ?

Of course I know him, he's my Uncle.

joho 8:04 AM  

I'm not buying that Will doesn't put the same words in puzzles as bleedovers when we had NAMEDROPPERS yesterday and NAMEDROP today. He's much too savvy. BTW, it doesn't bother me at all, I consider it a bonus.

This theme was so subtle it escaped me. I'd like to think if I'd spent more time trying to see (hear?) it I would have. Very original, I liked it!

Good one, David Sullivan!

Horace S. Patoot 8:21 AM  

Don't know if numinous was calling attention to it, but "Every kiss begins..." "with Kay" around these parts.

Tita 8:22 AM  

Got the theme, mostly. Thought that just like yesterday, how lame it is when the word smackdab in the middle isn't part of the theme.
(sheepish grin).

I liked it. Like @LMS, I like clever twists with the language.
"It was a STRONGWEEK on Wall Street, and the Hang Seng was up by..."

I agree that HIDDENSCENE is not a thing, but I'm still OK with the puzzle.

It seems like it's been forever since TOTO was in the grid.

And I used to love LAVA soap! Is it still made?
After painting with oil-based paints, LAVA would clean you up lickety-split.

Learned that there is such a thing as "The Microsoft Sound", and that it has a composer.

Thanks Mr. Sullivan!

Tita 8:26 AM  

@Horace - I was outraged too - till I realized that it isn't a blank, but "...".

@joho - I asked Will about that once in Westport - he swears it is pure coincidence.
I too find it hard to believe when it an insanely obscure or never-seen-in-xwords word, but, I think that the constructors who have been through the process now that it is not highly computerized, and I get the feeling that they would be incapable of managing the effort.

Unknown 8:31 AM  

Easy to fill in, but just oKAY in terms of fun. I, too, love a good turn of phrase and wanted to like the theme, but for me, this doesn't quite get there. Next time.

Paul Keller 8:39 AM  

I wish I could enjoy the theme as loren did, but for me it is nothing but an ornament that fails to be decorative. If there had been some motivation to figure it out in order to solve the puzzle, then I might have found the theme cute.

Unknown 8:54 AM  

@Loren- why is the plural of mongoose not mongeese, but mongooses ? Go figure.

retired_chemist 9:09 AM  

Didn't mean to offend your BIL, @Loren.

But does this bring new meaning to TUPperware?

I'll stop now.....

lawprof 9:15 AM  

The theme was no help at all in the solve, which otherwise succumbed Monday-quick.

Never did recognize the theme until I came here. I could pretty much infer where the theme answers were in the grid, but didn't see the pattern.

One writeover: MoonOVER/MULLOVER.

jackj 9:24 AM  

If a themed puzzle has no reveal and the theme isn’t reasonably apparent, I won’t spend ten seconds worrying about it and will wait for someone else to provide the details.

Such is today’s by David Sullivan, who hurt his cause by having too many two word phrases that were not theme entries, mixed in with his five homophone/antonym phrases that were theme entries.

A quick look at the theme shows HIDDENSCENE(SEEN), spawned from a strained clue, a suspect answer, at best and maybe the puzzle could have used MISE-EN-SCENE for an elided “Missing/Seen” or anything else that at least had some clued connection to reality for a solver.

But someone trying to suss out the theme also had to wonder about the other phrases, NAMEDROP, HEAVEHO, LEFTEYE, MULLOVER and ITSTRUE and try to understand if and how they fit into the scheme of things (and for my money, “It wasn’t worth the trouble”).

Evad, (his screen name at the Fiend web site), did give us some terrific fill, not the least of them being NAIVETE, that competed with EPITOME and WORSHIP for most elegant, but quality all.

KETTLE, clued as the corn snack was a nice feint from the MA or PA of the old-timey duo and there were a couple of Red Sox notables sneakily included by my fellow Bay Stater, first with ECK, cluing the Hall of Fame pitcher and current Red Sox TV color guy, (with a language all his own; to ECK, a 95mph fast ball is “cheese”), Dennis Eckersley.

And then PESKY, even though it wasn’t clued directly for legendary Red Sox short stop/manager Johnny PESKY, one of the featured players in David Halberstam’s wonderful book, “The Teammates”, (along with Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio), to a Red Sox fan, PESKY is a word always joined at the hip with “Johnny”.

Nice puzzle David, though I’ll remember it as a rare Wednesday themeless.

chefbea 9:35 AM  

Couldn't get the theme. Had to come here to find out.

Hand up for noticing name drop again.

Isn't the garnish for a gimlet an onion???

Carola 9:43 AM  

Found it a very enjoyable puzzle to solve. Got the theme (or rather 4/5 of it) only after the grid was filled, thought the idea was very clever.

@retired_chemist - I liked your NO TUP. I learned the word from Othello, where Iago says to Desdemona's father:
" 'Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on
your gown;
Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul;
Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe."

@Tita - After reading your post on the center entry, I thought, "Wait..." and went back and said "LOST ONE" over and over to myself until I got it!

quilter1 9:44 AM  

Found this easy and solved all around the edges and then into the middle. That was the fun part.

Eric 9:45 AM  

Another zippy one today, though like many here, didn't get the theme until I came here. Muchas gracias, senor Rex.

It's a little confusing, though, that NAME DROP and MULL OVER didn't mesh with the theme...and that Billy Shortz allowed an 8-letter phrase like NAMEDROP to be used 2 days in a row.

- Noticing an uptick in ALIST usage lately.

- Same goes for MSNBC (all those yummy consonants)

- Qom? Maybe on a Saturday. The answer was easy enough (IRAN), but still....Qom? Are we supposed to just know that?

- I love the word EPITOME. Such a nice flow to it and I love that it doesn't end in Y or IE.

- METH makes me think of Breaking Bad , how much I miss it, and how on edge I am to see the final 8 episodes. THEY CAN'T COME SOON ENOUGH!!!! Walter White, you mad mad genius.

Heidi Fleiss 9:53 AM  

My John @39D was Donne because Johns just come and go, who can remember their names?

@Retire Chemist - The tupperware joke was made 3 years ago.

Notsofast 10:00 AM  

HEAVEHO was fresh. But not much else. Clever theme.

jberg 10:01 AM  

Amazingly, since I so often don't manage it, I did figure out the theme after I solved the puzzle-- no clue earlier, so it didn't help at all. I was thinking the first words or last words would have some thing in common, or there would be a dropped E, as in LOSe TONE and MULe LOVER. But that didn't hold up, and it finally clicked when I looked at STRONG WEEK.

I don't think the ellipsis permits the dropping of the with in the clue for 30!. It's just wrong.

All in all, very easy for a Wednesday, interesting theme in retrospect, and not much more to say-- except isn't A LIST also a bleedover?

Loren Muse Smith 10:05 AM  

@chefbea - a small cocktail onion is the garnish for a Gibson.

@retired_chemist - Hah!

@Wes Davidson - mongoose and goose have different origins, right? how 'bout the question I posed here a couple of years ago. . .If you go to Staples to get a mouse for your computer, see THEY'RE on sale and get two, do you leave the store with two mice in your bag or two mouses?

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

Coincidence? According to Twitter, today is Brian ENO's birthday.

Sandy K 10:20 AM  

It filled in easily enough. And then I MULLed it OVER... thought HIDDEN SCENE was the revealer. Kept looking for letters of SCENE to be scrambled somewhere. Saw NAME DROP again, said ARG for ECK- felt like the LOST ONE and wanted to give it all the HEAVE HO...but then I said "NO, I'll TURN to Rex."

And THEY'RE HERE! The answers were homophones. Wish I would've said them aloud like @Milford suggested.

Now that I see (hear) it, I think it's O-KAY... DR.NO YSER? (groan)

chefbea 10:30 AM  

@Loren thanks..I should have known that - My parents both drank Gibson's.

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

N. O., LA ? That irked me.
The theme escaped me. Oh well.
I read yesterday that the new remake of The Great Gatsby will have a (c)rap soundtrack by Jay Z.
A movie about the Jazz Age needs a different sound? Geez Louise. What is Hollywood thinking?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:42 AM  

I was very glad to have come up with the theme after much pondering. Among the things I noted along the way, not only the repeat of NAME DROP at 27 A, but the fact that it is crossed by META at 29 D - I was thinking "If there is a theme, it is on the level of a second or third week Matt Gaffney."(Well, maybe not that hard, in retrospect.) And also, look who is dropping in after the first letter of 4 D, SMOTHER! Again!

Filling in downs off the easy acrosses, I had my one write-over at 13 D, where I thought "'I'm in' indicator" could be A NOD.

Rex asks, "How is appearing (!) after a movie's credits 'HIDDEN?'" I would say because most movie goers get up and leave as soon as a movie seems over and the credits begin, while only a few dedicated cinephiles sit there for the entire credit roll, which often these days seems to include the entire population of New Zealand.

@Anonymous, 6:58 AM - I don't recall any naughty meanings, but we did learn in an earlier crossword that EXON is a rank for an officer in the Yeomen of the Guard.

GILL I. 10:49 AM  

Wow, when I almost finished I kept thinking what a non-fun puzzle. I knew there had to be a theme in this PESKY crossword and when I found it I thought OBOE I won't HEAVEHO the puzzle.
Loved seeing ECK. That was my father's nickname.
So TUP TUP and that's NOLA...

alan 10:53 AM  

Will someone explain brake repair.

retired_chemist 10:53 AM  

@ Heidi Fleiss - LOL re Johns. Apparently TUP brought out the inner fourth grader in the participants then, as it is doing today.

jackj 10:55 AM  

In addition to being Brian ENO's birthday, today is also being celebrated by peace activist WAVY GRAVY, nee Hugh Romney, who named his only child "Howdy Do-Good Gravy Tomahawk Truckstop Romney".

He has only appeared in a Times puzzle once, an acrostic published in April 2003; seems a natural for a Times weekend puzzle.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

As Rex said- sounding opposite

homophone of brake= break
break= opposite of repair

Evad 11:18 AM  

Hi folks, just wanted to unlurk and thank you for your comments. Apologies to those who tried to figure out the theme but couldn't; it's hard as constructors when you come up with a theme idea, it becomes your baby and you'd recognize it anywhere, so one might overestimate its transparency to those seeing it for the first time.

As Will has said here, if you didn't like it, there's always tomorrow, and if you did, I'm happy to have shared it with you.


Arby 11:34 AM  

I did all acrosses first and, without the benefit of crosses, dropped in "Bull Market" without hesitation instead of STRONGWEEK.

The word "EPITOME" will always make me chuckle as it now reminds me of comedian Brian Regan.

Audience Member: "You mispronounced every word in your act!"
Brian: "Well, if that isn't the epitome of hyperbole..."

(pronounced "EH-pit-ohm" and "HIGH-per-bowl").

Sparky 11:35 AM  

Did not see theme. I thought that Will Shortz grew tired of all the what day is it remarks and decided to do whatever he wanted to do whenever he wanted to do it. No such luck.

The puzzle solved easily enough. Thanks @benko for mentioning The Young Ones. I could picture it in my mind but not remember the name. (What mind?) Like @chefwen, I miss you two. Check in, please.

@Tita. Lava Soap at Ace Hardware. They have the bars and a pump dispenser. Who would have thought?

Unknown 12:13 PM  

Did any other iPad users have trouble with the comments link on the blog? It wouldn't open for me using Safari as I normally do, so had to access it from Feedly, where it worked just fine. Is it me? Probably.

Comment Problem Comment 12:18 PM  

@Susan: Not just U, on iPad comment link problem. It's The Blorg.

mac 12:26 PM  

Only write-over was axis for nazi. And I would have know Rik Smits.

Nice puzzle, for me because of naivete, smother, Babes at 50D and mull over. I have to admit the theme was too subtle for me, thanks for letting me know.


Lewis 12:34 PM  

Dave -- I DID like this puzzle a lot, like Loren. I love playing with words like you do with the theme. I don't think the theme helped anyone's solve, but it was so cool I believe it was definitely worth doing! And I did figure it out -- after solving the puzzle.

I guess I'm not alone in learning that an oboe is conical; as a musician, I should have known that.

Yesterday was like a Monday, today is like a Tuesday. I think Will likes to keep up guessing.

Adolf Rzepko 1:01 PM  

@Lewis - "I guess I'm not alone in learning that an oboe is conical; as a musician, I should have known that." Perhaps not. Yes, it does say in Wikipedia that an oboe has a conical bore. However, the bell is not conical, it flares both its interior and exterior. The vibration producing part of the oboe has a conical bore, the instrument isn't conical in any way.

I've come to dislike picking random facts from Wiki ( I'm looking at you, Walter Payton Award) for clueing.

Thoracic 1:17 PM  

I was at Staples today and the display of multiple types of clickers is labelled "mice". So right or wrong, at Staples it's MICE.

LaneB 1:21 PM  

Succeeded with two Google assists at a39 and d39 [should have guessed LOCKE right away since he seems to show up often in these puzzles.] Other common answers I've noticed recently are: EDEN,ALIST,TSK,ENO,ANTE,ESSO and NERO , all using, of course,high-frequency letters. I'm relatively new with the Times' puzzles and experience really does help. [But so still does Google.]

Bird 1:37 PM  

I liked this one better then @Rex as none of the theme answers bothered me. Alas, I finished with an error at 39A/39D. I thought the name of the song was NO STONE (as in unturned) and had no idea who John LOCKE is/was. Sandra Locke, yes. Also messy was 10D – ARM, then EAR, then EYE. METH was originally USER.

Happy Humpday!

Avid Cusp Metas 1:52 PM  

I agree about Wiki cluing that is a tad off. It comes from everyone feeling pressure to come up with a new clue for an old standby (like OBOE). Wanting freshness has led to lots of obscurity and not being correct lately (because people are taking wikipedia as "correct" even tho it can be more like crowdsourcing, if that's the right word.
I find it akin to Family Feud vs Jeopardy! What most people said vs rigorous factchecking by the writers. That's the scary part in the world we live in...
Onthe other hand, when there IS a new super fun fact (presumably correct, whatever that means now) it really makes the puzzle sparkle.

(speaking of/to @Adolf, I've always been under the impression that NAZI was a NEIN NEIN in a grid)

As @tita says, Will insists bleedovers are coincidental, but I think they are subconscious as he's putting together the puzzles for the week...NAMEDROP as both a theme and then as an extra long nontheme answer has to be noticeable to him on some level.
It may be his way making the days flow one after the other (a more cynical snarky pal rails that it's sloppy, but I think it's more magical than bad)

@Sandy K
DRNO YSER is brilliant!
You found the HIDDENSCENE!
( yet another term that seems a tad off. Easter Egg I've heard. And on DWTS recaps the hysterically funny. ET blogger whose name escapes me, Annie someone, has HIDDEN gems... Freezeframes from the show that she and commenters submit that is usually worth the whole show)

LEFTARM up here foo for trying LEFTeye, not being able to link to comments (till now) thru ipad, and not getting the theme, despite staring at the answers, writing them out, and finally giving up.

Learning about the theme here tho again elevated the experience retroactively....so thank you @rex, et al.

A half homophonic oxymoron! That's complicated...and funny to me that Dave Sullivan (another super nice guy who was sorely missed at ACPT this year) thought it would be obvious!

Adolf Rzepko 2:17 PM  

@Avid Cusp Metas - I'm not German, I'm Polish. And I'm dead, so feel free to stop writing.

John Towle 2:55 PM  

In the oboe, it's the double reed that produces the vibrations. The oboe is a conical instrument which amplifies the reed vibrations: smaller bore diameter at the top & somewhat larger at the bottom, therefore conical, unlike the clarinet, which has a cylindrical bore.



evil doug 3:04 PM  

I'm as bored as an oboe...


sanfranman59 3:18 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 8:14, 10:03, 0.82, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:25, 5:54, 0.92, 28%, Easy-Medium

OISK 3:49 PM  

Very fast Wednesday, as others have said. Missed the theme until I came here. Enjoyable, despite Jay-Z and the Byrds who mean nothing at all to me, I have heard the song "Turn turn turn", but associate it with a female solo - Judy Collins? Lost one? "What the winner of a 5 game World Series did..." (I love baseball)

I remember Eck best for one of the few times he did NOT save an important game - the Gibson home run in 1988. I was listening to the game in the car, and we entered the Battery Tunnel ( no radio service in those days) in the ninth inning, and I missed the call!

Masked and Anonymo4Us 4:25 PM  

@evil duck: har.
Pretty lazy day. Wanna go shoot some eightball and grab a coupla cold brews?

Didn't latch onto the puz theme at all, while solving. Really wanted to, but nooo dice. Just had to grip it and rip it, and ask questions later. HIDDENSCENE was the bean-spiller, or me. It was just so unbelievably mega-funky, I knew there had to be somethin else goin on with it. Nice a-har moment.

Iron Man 3 had an extra hidden scene after all the credits. Long wait for it. Musta had around 2000 Asian digital animators with their hands in the pie.

Z 4:53 PM  

@Evil Doug- I bet this will interest you... The oboe bore isn't actually a cone, it is actually a frustum.

Well, at least M&A will like that "frustum" has two U's.

@Adolf Rzepko - segue?

Z 4:53 PM  

@Evil Doug- I bet this will interest you... The oboe bore isn't actually a cone, it is actually a frustum.

Well, at least M&A will like that "frustum" has two U's.

@Adolf Rzepko - segue?

I really don't stutter 4:56 PM  

Cool. The captcha said I erred (damn auto-correct) then posted it twice.

ileen 4:58 PM  

I finished the puzzle correctly without figuring out the theme. I was glad to see I got it all right after mispelling NAPOLEaN yesterday.

RIK Mayall was a gimme for me as well. Besides Drop Dead Fred & Blackadder, he was one of the stars of The Young Ones, a very silly new wave sitcom in the early 80s in the UK. MTV aired it a couple of years later, to my great delight. If you're immature at heart, or feeling extremely silly, give it a try.

jae 5:07 PM  

@Susan -- Me too for iPad linking problems last night.

Tom 5:33 PM  

In addition to Brian Eno's b'day, it's also the birthday of Joseph Wiseman, who played Dr. No.

Melodious Funk 5:47 PM  

Has OBOE ever been clued as "An ill wind that nobody blows good?" I believe that's called a transpositional pun.

I remember it from an old DannyKaye song, lyrics by his clever wife. And as far as I know, it's a rather famous line.


Ah, never mind. Google tells me the clue has been used twice in the past few years. And it may have originated with Ogden Nash.

Who knew?

Unknown 6:38 PM  

Medium Wed for me. Didn't get the theme but appreciate the puzzle more now that I do. Lots of good medium length stuff HEAVE HO, SMOTHER, EPITOME, WORSHIP, MULL OVER...

Only two little nits - Why isn't NOLA clued with an 'abbr.' or 'for short'? Don't like NO ID either-is that really an in the language phrase.

where's MetaRex on a day he was NAMEDROPped in the puzzle

sanfranman59 11:32 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 7:07, 6:14, 1.14, 94%, Challenging
Tue 6:14, 8:09, 0.76, 1%, Easy (2nd lowest ratio of 180 Tuesdays)
Wed 8:14, 10:03, 0.82, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:55, 3:46, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 3:48, 4:47, 0.79, 2%, Easy (3rd lowest ratio of 180 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:04, 5:54, 0.86, 12%, Easy

Acme 12:09 AM  

The EW blogger who gives me as many laughs as this blog is named Annie Barrett who posts the Hidden Gems of DWTS.
Kristin Baldwin is the other one who leaves me in stitches when she blogs the Bachelor.
On to tomorrow!

spacecraft 11:42 AM  

Had it been a traditional "themeless" day (Fri/Sat), I might well have missed this one. Those four phrases, dumb all--just HAD to have some kind of common thread. Try saying them out loud...Oh wait! Homophonic opposites! O-KAY, very clever. Sadly, I was already primed to be underwhelmed--as soon as I saw the clue for the centerpiece. Oh no, it's rap; I'll have to get the whole thing on crosses.

Notes: Loved HEAVEHO. Anyone notice that DR__, "Bond villain," might be DRAX? Let's have a puzz with THAT little wrinkle! Almost filled in MEDITATE for MULLOVER; it fits. NOLA for the Big Easy?? People say that? I've heard "N'Ollins" but not that. NAMEDROP has to be the longest direct bleedover ever.

And finally: "Addict's need" according to whom? REHAB? ITSTRUE--but not to the addict!

Ginger 1:35 PM  

As many others, the theme eluded me until OFL explained it all. Thanks Rex. while the theme phrases seemed a bit odd, the puzzle was a good romp. Wanted outtakes for 23-A, and though it didn't fit, it slowed the solving process like an ear-worm.

I detest the Kay jewelers ad. She's only going to kiss you if you buy her a diamond? NOT!

@Evad Thanks for dropping by. And, thanks for a super fun puzzle.

captcha - presused sense (pre used what ever sense I've got?)

Waxy in Montreal 1:35 PM  

Also thought it was a theme-free Wednesday until arriving here though toyed with no, no, no as in NOID, DRNO and NOLA.

Enjoyed @jackj's Red Sox tie-in via current NESN commentator Dennis Eckersley (ECK) and 1940's legendary player Johnny PESKY.

Syndi Solver 1:48 PM  

I love homophones so this was a great puzzle for me. Kudos to Dave Sullivan!

I think it was wise to put the "WEEK" entry first (har har) since the other four entries were much STRONGer. But seriously, I like that first entry just fine, mostly because that's where I guessed the theme. This made the rest of the puzzle much easier than it would have been (did not recognize LOST ONE, for example).

I thought the clue for HIDDEN SCENE was okay. A scene played after the credits is "hidden" from most viewers in the sense that they might leave too early to see it. So this was okay by me.

The hardest entry for me was ECK. Huh? Lucky for me that HEAVE HO cross gave me the E. I also wondered how NAME DROP managed to bleed over from yesterday's puzzle!

Syndi Solver 2:23 PM  

@Ginger, I also hate that "all women love jewelry" stereotype in the KAY advertisements. I actually didn't even see that clue while solving since I got all the downs in that area.

How did I remember that it was Steve Austin's LEFT EYE that was bionic? I think it means too much TV as a child. :-)

After being reminded that LEFT EYE could also be a clue for the late Lisa Lopes, I've got an earworm ("Don't go chasing waterfalls...")

Syndi Solver 2:25 PM  

Oops, I meant to post a link to Waterfalls in that last message.

Three and out.

DMGrandma 3:12 PM  

Never saw the theme, but impressed that so many others did. However, that didn't slow down the solve which was straightforward enough despite atrocities like ECK and RIK. Embarassed by you how long it took for me to parse the meaning of ANTE. Clue had me thinking of it as a prefix. I finally accepted it, but was sure something was wrong! So it goes....

November so soon? Yesterday Captcha told @SIS to Elect rybakind. Today I'm promised mhelect would.

Solving in Seattle 8:07 PM  

I've got a friend whose family makes a game of finding triple homophones, and he's roped me into it, e.g., "isle, I'll, aisle."

Saw the theme after completing the puzz.

Agree, from a guy's standpoint, what @ginger and @syndie solver say about the KAY jeweler sick ads. I will never shop there.

capcha: said goireca. Who is Archimedes, Alex.

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