Hellhound of Norse mythology / SUN 5-26-13 / Stoutly built Dickens villain / Baroque French dance / NBC newsman Holt / I Never Played Game memoirist / Santiago's milieu in Hemingway novel / Nikkei unit

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Constructor: Joon Pahk and Jeremy Horwitz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Made-For-TV Movies" — Movie titles have (one-word) TV show titles added (or vice versa, I guess), creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Theme answers:
  • 23A: TV movie about ... where I can easily get a cab? ("TAXI STAND BY ME")
  • 30A: ... where to go in Togo? ("OUTHOUSE OF AFRICA")
  • 47A: ... a Hispanic "hip hip hooray"? ("THREE CHEERS, AMIGOS!")
  • 62A: ... trying to get a friar to violate his vow of silence? ("SAY ANYTHING, MONK")
  • 83A: ... a singing group that meets for bacon and eggs? ("BREAKFAST GLEE CLUB")
  • 97A: ... Skywalker's trendy hygiene products? ("COOL HAND SOAP, LUKE")
  • 111A: ... giving a pipsqueak the brush-off? ("GET LOST, SHORTY")

Word of the Day: ICC (108D: Former railroad regulatory agcy.) —

The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was a regulatory agency in theUnited States created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. The agency's original purpose was to regulate railroads (and later trucking) to ensure fair rates, to eliminate rate discrimination, and to regulate other aspects of common carriers, including interstate bus lines and telephone companies. Congress expanded ICC authority to regulate other modes of commerce beginning in 1906. The agency was abolished in 1995, and its remaining functions were transferred to the Surface Transportation Board.
The Commission's five members were appointed by the President of the United States with the consent of the United States Senate; the commission was authorized to investigate violations of the Act and order the cessation of wrongdoing. However, in its early years, ICC orders required an order by a federal court to become effective. The Commission was the first independent regulatory body (or so-called Fourth Branch), as well as the first agency to regulate big business in the U.S. (wikipedia)
• • •

Tons of fun — assuming you keep *relatively* current on movies and television. Actually, nothing here feels very obscure or come-lately. I think "GLEE" is about the most recent title in any of the theme answers, and that show's a big enough hit that virtually everyone will at least have heard of it. Maybe some people forgot about "MONK"? No big deal, since the crosses and the clue make it inferrable. I think I might like / admire the theme a little more if the TV shows were, in every case, shoved inside the movie titles—then it would seem like the movie title was primary, and then altered (i.e. re-"made") with a TV show. So essentially you'd need to ditch theme answers 1 and 3 ... but those two are funny enough for me not to care *that* much about the inconsistency. All the TV titles are just one word, so there is a kind of consistency there. The only thing that really bothered me about the puzzle is the SW corner. A bygone governmental initialism crossing CAIRENE (a word I have never seen in my life until this puzzle)!?!? I ran the alphabet and still had nothing. Considered ZAIRENE (a native of Zaire???), but knew that there was no way a "Z" was going to be in a regulatory agcy. name. Then I re-ran the alphabet, slower this time, and saw the "Cairo" connection. Puzzle still done in better than average time, but I really could've done without that bit of obscurity/ugliness. In a corner that's already weighed down by A MENU, that crossing was a little much.

Started out very fast in the NW, but then slowed down. Ended up getting huge swaths of the puzzle done before I ever really understood the theme. Eventually had OUT ... OF AFRICA, then mentally filled in "HOUSE" to complete the joke, and (Aha!) I had my theme. There were a couple WTF-type answers in the grid (beyond ICC / CAIRENE). I thought I had at least a passing familiarity with Norse mythology, but I cannot remember ever learning about GARM (52D: Hellhound of Norse mythology). And TGV? It means "Train à Grand Vitesse" (i.e. "high-speed train"). News to me (79D: French high-speed rail inits.). Those were three random letters, as far as I was concerned. But again, my ignorance of this stuff didn't hold me back much, since the crosses were fair and mostly quite easy.

  • 1A: Friends in a pub (MATES) — good clue. Confused me. I think the foreignness of "pub" didn't register w/ me.
  • 13A: Baroque French dance (GAVOTTE) — that thing that you watched yourself doing when you were being so vain that you probably thought that song was about you. If you don't know your French dances (or your Carly Simon) (or the fact that Eli went to OLE MISS), that NE corner might've proved a bit tricky.
  • 58A: NBC newsman Holt (LESTER) — I like him. It's hard (for me) to take contemporary news anchors seriously, but he seems to do a pretty good job, from the little I've seen.
  • 76A: Old French line (ROIS) — I like this clue. Something about the vagueness of "line" makes it interesting.
  • 90A: "Stoutly-built" Dickens villain (SIKES) — I've read one Dickens novel in my life, I think, and not the ones one usually reads. I read Our Mutual Friend. This is to say, I have no idea what novel this SIKES guy is from. Oh look, it's Oliver Twist. OK, then.
  • 12D: Santiago's milieu in a Hemingway novel (THE SEA) — Pretty sure I've never read The Old Man...  either. Plenty of Hemingway short stories, but novels—not so much.
  • 95D: "I Never Played the Game" memoirist (COSELL) — also never read this, though I suspect I'm less alone on that count. I got this easily, and it really helped me round the corner down into that southern section.
I have two great independent puzzle projects to tell you about, but since I don't want to overwhelm you with information, I'm going to hold off talking about one until next week. 

THIS week the project you really ought to get in on (if you are a puzzle junkie who is desperate for really good, finely edited, and very up-to-the-minute fare) is Peter Gordon's new Kickstarter venture, "Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords." For over four years, Peter wrote a puzzle every week for the magazine The Week, specifically about the previous week's news (this is what I mean by "up-to-the-minute"). He's now seeking to do the same thing independently, in a way that allows the puzzles to be even more current (puzzles are delivered instantly, the moment they're done).  He's an exemplary constructor as well as the best editor in the business. The "Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords" are designed to be about T or W-level of difficulty (unlike his regular "Fireball Crosswords," which are Very hard ... as well as Very awesome—frankly, you should subscribe to them, too). Peter's are the first (and so far only) puzzles for which I've ever written a book cover blurb. Read his detailed and informative description of "Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords" here, and then support the project. Inexpensive and *well* worth it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Pete 12:10 AM  

I didn't like this at all. The complete inconsistency of the structure of the theme entries was off putting. It was just jamming one short movie/tv title randomly into another tv/movie title. It was as if the discovers of Reese's Cups, enamored of their success in putting two great tastes together tried again. With Mac&Cheese and Lemonade. With filet mignon and blueberry pie.

jackj 12:14 AM  

Joon and Jeremy join forces to justify jogging the juices of those with a jones for jazzy tv shows by conjoining same with memory-jogging movies and jejune jocundity ensues.

(“J’s” are tough nuts and to make matters worse “J” is one of only two letters not used in today’s puzzle!)

While not cottoning to the theme, there were some non-theme entries that really floated my boat, from MATE to MITRE, ASOCIAL to GAVOTTE and a passel of words in between.

The entire bottom left quadrant from ARGOT, BARGES and INNIE, down to MIMOSAS, IMMOVED, CAIRENE and CROESUS, (and with BEEHIVES and GILMORE on the side), was a treasure chest of vocabular pleasures and their clues made for a doubling of the fun.

Also spotted around the grid were gems like Clara Bow, the ITGIRL; ANAPEST, that is the beat in a limerick but looks as if it stands for an unthinkable form of torture meted out by the Inquisition’s worst whip slingers and then TALKSDIRTY (maybe about TAXRETURNS); HOTBATH and OLEMISS all help to bring a bit of joyful normalcy to the festivities.

There’s lots of room in a 21 X 21 grid to provide jaunty joy or jaundiced junk and Joon and Jeremy opt to provide us with lots of intelligent wordplay and, (GARM aside), nothing that causes serious intellectual pain in the fill.

Thanks for a fun Sunday!

Noam D. Elkies 12:19 AM  

She may sing "gavotte" but that ain't no gavotte. This is. (or if you want a 20th century take on the dance, try Prokofiev).


Richard 12:27 AM  

I wasn't a fan of this either. How on earth is MONK inferrable from crosses? Those crosses were GARM, OPIE, ANAPEST and ARKS. Only two of those are even remotely ordinary words, as far as I can see.

The ICC cross with CAIRENE didn't bother me as much as with CROESUS. Never seen that particular "ancient king" before. Again not inferrable.

I also echo the sentiments of the first poster - inconsistency in the theme answers. The TV shows was plugged into the middle of the movie for all of the answers I solved first... the two which bucked the theme were the last to fall.

Pete 12:32 AM  

@Richard - You were supposed to get MONK from the inclusion of friar in the clue. If you didn't get MONK from friar because friars and monks are different, you're excused.

Questinia 12:46 AM  

Theme answers did not do the rest of the puzzle justice. "SAY ANYTHING MONK" seemed particularly random to me.

retired_chemist 12:52 AM  

Nice one, albeit tedious to solve. Seemed I was filling in a lot of short answers. Last fill was correcting MaGEE/aEO with the (in retrospect, obvious) MCGEE/CEO.

Any other chemists (or even real people) out there put HGS for 114D (Cinnabar, e.g.)?

Theme? Looked like a random conglomeration of shows, and I didn't understand it until I came here. But the short crosses made the theme answers mostly clear, GARM being an exception (although MONK was obvious so it didn't matter).

Surely there is a better clue for 13D.

Don't know about you, but my TAX RETURNS (3D) don't go to Washington - they go to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Thanks, Messrs. Pahk and Horwitz.

jae 1:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 1:43 AM  

Easy medium for me too. Knowing the movies and shows helped. So, clever fun breezy Sun.  Only erasures were sEn for DEM,  for 13d @r_c I had ease up for GO SOFT which had me briefly put in Alabama for OLE MISS off the a in ease.  Like Rex the SW corner was the tricky spot...CAIRENE???

Nice one guys, liked it. 

Tom 2:09 AM  

Can anyone explain how "concave object of reflection" is innie? I get the concave part, but object of reflection?

Anonymous 2:33 AM  

Refers to the expressions contemplating one's navel and navel gazing.

John Child 3:54 AM  

SAY ANYTHING MONK? Yuck. Or even Yech. Didn't recognize TV or Film there. Had "Tuck" instead, and GART and ACAPEST seemed as likely as anything.

Magenta Crayola 4:04 AM  

Wish the NYTimes would take the lead and create a vault for retired, made-up, and out-of-favor words and clues thereto. Constructors could certainly use these words/clues, but must contribute 10 percent of whatever they are paid for the puzzle to a charity or other good cause.

One of the first suggestions for the vault from me (today) would be any word pertaining to Prince Valiant's family.

Oh, and it would not be acceptable to sneak in an obscure clue for an old familiar word. If a constructor is going to use "Opie" just use the routine "60s TV boy, son of sheriff Andy..." clue. Just own it and make the charitable contribution. Don't try to cover it up with some other person with the same name. We all KNOW who Opie is.

Charlene 6:07 AM  

My tax returns go to Stapon Road in Winnipeg. Took ages or me to stop looking for something beginning with "tai".

Bob Kerfuffle 6:12 AM  

Reasonable Sunday fun. Wish all of the themers were as good as 30 A, though.

If I were looking for a nit to pick, it would be 25 A, "I'm not kidding" = SERIOUS. Just barely plausible as equivalents in any usage I can think of.

Doris 6:27 AM  

For me, OUTHOUSEOFAFRICA doesn't pass the Breakfast Test (nothing in this area is O.K., though I don't mind sexual references), the clue reminds me of a little paperback I have from the U.K., called THE GOOD LOO GUIDE, OR, WHERE TO GO IN LONDON.

YontifSadie 8:08 AM  

I'm still confused by SAY ANYTHING MONK. All of the other theme answers have a stand-alone blend of the TV show and movie title. TAXI STAND, THREE CHEERS, GLEE CLUB, etc.

Twangster 8:19 AM  

OK, but I found it frustrating because in all cases but one, you can make a two-word phrase from adjoining words in the theme answers (so I thought you'd be able to do this for all of them). TAXI STAND, OUTHOUSE, THREE CHEERS, GLEE CLUB, HAND SOAP, and GET LOST. However, there's no phrase ANYTHING MONK.

Was anyone else puzzled by this?

Anka 8:32 AM  

Fun and easy......fav answer was 30A. The only thing that bugged me (along w/some others here) was that the TV show wasn't consistently inside the movie title.
I didn't know Cairene either.... but it was gettable. And, now I do!

Milford 8:38 AM  

Pretty standard Sunday, difficulty-wise, and while the theme was cute and fun, the inconsistency was bothering me, although I wasn't quite sure what it was. After looking at theme answers post-solve, I agree with @YontifSadie, @Questinia, et al. that SAY ANYTHING, MONK is the outlier, in that it's not creating a new compound phrase, e.g. OUTHOUSE or HAND SOAP or GET LOST.

Of course I may just be sour grapes because MONK was very slow in coming to me, and every clue crossing it was obscure. Finally got that the Torah holders weren't people and got ARKS (plural? really?) and then the lightbulb.

That SW corner was insane for me too - like @Rex I considered Zaire as Arafat's place of birth, MIa?MIO?, and I've never heard of CROESUS.

OSMOTIC, NICOTINE, and TALKS DIRTY were all great with their clues.

@retiredchemist - did not go with HGS, but I get it! And I LOL at your 13D comment.

And @Bob Kerfuffle, I will second your nit with SERIOUS not a substitute for "I'm not kidding". SERIOUSly makes sense to me.

Even with all my complaints, I actually liked it for a Sunday. Now on to enjoy a lovely day.

Tita 9:01 AM  

I held my breath when I saw the title, as I am not at all up on TV or movies. Happily, they were all gettable, though sometimes by brute force.

@Ret_Chem - lol re" *real people*.
DNF at _AIRENE. Same thought process as OFL, except the alpha run didn't help.

Fav clue was for INNIE.

Took TGV often when I lived in Europe. The most civilized way to travel. I took my 8 year old cousin to La Rochelle (I was born in New Rochelle). Got her all psyched that I was taking her on a trip on the fastest train in the world.
Only problem is we had to take the commuter train from her home Louveciennes to Paris, then 2 subways to Gare Montparnasse.
Each time one of those started moving out of the station, Sara would ask with wide eyes "Is THIS the fastest train in the world?"
"No, not this one." I replied each time.

When we finally got on the TGV, which travels quite slowly until well outside of Paris, she said "This isn't so very fast at all..."


Well, thanks J&J for a fine Sunday.
Hey - just noticed how much Francofill is in the grid - bien fait!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:15 AM  

@YontifSadie - No one said there was "a stand-alone blend of the TV show and movie title. TAXI STAND, THREE CHEERS, GLEE CLUB, etc."

The movie titles are STAND BY ME, THREE AMIGOS, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, etc. The blend is the complete movie title with the one-word TV title, not just one word of the movie title.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Two posters have never heard of "rich as Croesus"? How can a phrase that's been around for millennia die out in a generation?

Sandy K 9:19 AM  

Yes, the TV show did not always fall in the middle, but so what? Inconsistency, inconshminstency.

It was fun!! Mashing movies and TV shows- most were kinda COOL- eg GET LOST SHORTY, BREAKFAST GLEE CLUB, and if you're not 'squeamish'- OUTHOUSE OF AFRICA.

I know Stephanie MEYER, but Urban was gettable, as well as CAIRENE. Wasn't too much YUCK fill- several elegant answers made up for it eg OMICRON, CROESUS, GAVOTTE and IT GIRL were nothing to SNEER AT.


YontifSadie 9:24 AM  

Yes, I get that. It was an added bonus on all of the other clues except ANYTHING MONK. That's all I'm saying.
And where was THE in THE Breakfast club?
At first I started with THE and quickly went back and restarted with BREakfast.

Z 9:27 AM  

Rode the TGV back in '82, and I am still amazed that 30 years later we don't have real high speed rail throughout the US. We are so backwards about some things.

I was just referencing The Old Man and the Sea yesterday in relationship to the whole soft g/hard G controversy. Apparently the creator of the GIF format announced that he subscribes to the incorrect soft G pronunciation. I immediately recalled that Hemingway allegedly claimed that there is no religious imagery in The Old Man and the Sea. Just cuz you created it doesn't mean you're the best expert on it.

SW - WTF. Everything else, Sunday fun.

Carola 10:00 AM  

Found it high on fun, low on TOIL. Clever theme, lots of other pleasing words to write in. Liked the international ARGOT in the west with the ARABIC, ROMANO, ROIS, GIORNO, AMO cluster, with GIORNO stacked over MIO and ROIS next to MERCI.

billocohoes 10:05 AM  

Down in the SE, not quite having got the theme yet, and (with my daughter in a show of 'The Producers' last month) having Mel Brooks on my mind, tried to go with 'Get Lost, Smart-y' until I got NICOTINE.

The ICC used to be mentioned in American History classes.

Croesus - king credited with using the first gold coins of standard purity.

JC66 10:21 AM  

@ YontifSadie

Very tactful.

chefbea 10:32 AM  

Did not like the puzzle!!Didn't realize the extra word were TV shows.

Don't get 101 across ..Boxer =Dem???

Barbara Boxer 10:37 AM  

Barbara Levy Boxer (born November 11, 1940) is the junior United States Senator from California (since 1993). A member of the Democratic Party, she previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1983–1993).

astroman 10:44 AM  

1. Please God, no more Prince Valiant!

2. Lester Holt, America's least threatening Black man.

Kim 10:48 AM  

I'm not sure what all the griping is about. It's Sunday & it's FUN! I actually laughed aloud at OUT HOUSE OF AFRICA. So what if MONK is out of place.

Being an OLE MISS girl, of course I knew all about Eli.

And thank you, @RexParker, for teaching me something today. Not only did I not know what a GAVOTTE was (got it off the crosses), but also after years of listening to Carly Simon, I never knew that word was in there until I listened today.

WA 10:54 AM  

I knew CROESUS, but since I never sent him a birthday card was unsure of the spelling. Add my name to list of people who still have no idea what Say Anything Monk refers to.

Can you write anything that is as arbitrary as 98 Down "I'd like to see.....a menu."

chefbea 11:06 AM  

@Barbara Boxer thanx

These aren't obscure 11:22 AM  

SAY ANYTHING trailer. The *iconic* image is 1:51 in.

MONK intro to a show about a private detective with OCD. No, really, that's the premise.

mac 12:17 PM  

Very fun Sunday, and I don't think that very often!
I got the theme quickly, and enjoyed finding the film/show combinations.

My only wrong letter was at the Garm/Monk crossing. Had Garg (gargantuan?). I realize I should have looked more closely at the clue, I certainly know about Monk.

Fitzy 12:24 PM  

I am a huge Hemingway fan and "The Old Man and the Sea" is a mere 128 pages long - a novella really. It is beautifully written and I highly recommend it to you. It is my second favorite after "For Whom the Bell Tolls" which is considerably longer.

syndy 12:47 PM  

Joyless dreck! I'm sorry SAYANYTHINGMONK is totally meaningless.Are we refering to the Liberty Tree in 116 across? Like @Doris I don't mind sexual references but isn't MRS PIGGLEWIGGLE pushing the envelope?

Carola 1:19 PM  

@syndy - MRS. Piggle-Wiggle is actually about as innocent as it gets. The books were standard fare when my kids were in grade school.

Benko 1:51 PM  

Wow, I'm surprised by all the complaints for this one. I had fun solving it. Enjoyed the theme, piecing together a movie and a TV show each time. Maybe the resulting phrases were slightly strange, but they always applied to the clues. I agree that TGV is obscure and Prince Valiant references are archaic. But much of the fill was great, and we had new things like TRUTV. CROESUS is the famous Lydian king, still known nowadays for his wealth. Went up against the Persians and lost. Read Herodotus!

Suzy 1:53 PM  

What's with all the grousing today?? It was a fun puzzle with just enough tough spots to make it interesting. It's good to stretch your brain on a lazy Sunday. Who knew
Arafat was from Cairo! Great trivia!

PuzzleFun 2:11 PM  

Really enjoyed this one. Very clever theme. Can't understand all the whining by some of the posters. Also can't believe Rex seems proud of his very limited exposure to Dickens and Hemingway. Where did you go to school?
Who doesn't know Bill Sikes, one of English literature's most nefarious villains? And not knowing the TGV, the world's fastest passenger train? Have to agree with CAIRENE, though.

retired_chemist 2:30 PM  

Umm - Prince Valiant is in the Dallas Morning News Sunday funnies every week. How archaic is that?

OISK 2:54 PM  

Missed Cairene, had Tairene - a variation on Tyre? Ruined a perfect streak this week! But I enjoyed the puzzle. Nice job.

Jdipinto 3:00 PM  

I enjoyed the theme answers, but like others I take issue with SAY ANYTHING MONK, since MONK doesn't insert a common object or phrase into the answer the way the others do.

(On another note, there is a symmetry glitch in the Split Decisions puzzle. Changing TORUS/TUTUS to TORUS/TOGAS would have easily fixed it.)

JC66 3:13 PM  

@ Jdipinto

What's wrong with TUTUS?

Davis 3:44 PM  

Loved the theme and most of the puzzle, but am I the only one who got down to GAVOT?E and ?SU and thought "huh, there are multiple letters that could go there"?

Also, CAIRENE? I knew ICC because it came up in law school, otherwise that would have been awful.

jae 3:45 PM  

In defense of ARN: Three letter words and abbreviations that begin with A are part of the glue that makes crosswords possible. There is at least one for every letter of the alphabet except maybe Q. Plus they are part of the learning process that you go through to get good at doing this. Would crosswords be as challenging/fun if AZO, AJA, AIT etc...were common knowledge?

So, we kinda need ARN and his pals to make this all work.

Ellen S 3:49 PM  

Speaking of TUTUS, I was walking my dogs this morning and saw, in a heap on someone's lawn, a frilly tutu, or maybe a princess costume, with a pair of extremely muddy large-adult size track shoes sitting on top. Better than a flamingo, I guess.

I was stuck a long time on the GARM/MONK crossing until I realized that the melding of the movie and TV titles didn't follow the same ... I mean any ... pattern, so it was okay for MONK to be stuck on the end of the merged title. I know Stephanie MEYER but had to ask my brother about Urban; he also tried to tell me LESTER Holt but the connection wasn't good enough and I couldn't understand him, so DNF. But I knew CROESUS and Bill SYKES.

@PuzzleFun, we don't point out to the professor of English Literature that he shouldn't be bragging about his ignorance of English Literature. It wouldn't be polite; he is our host after all. Here are his areas of interest, according to the Binghamton U faculty page:
Medieval Literature
American Crime Fiction
Popular Fiction (weren't Hemingway & Dickens popular once?)
Arthurian Literature

Fun puzzle despite my DNF. I loved OUTHOUSEOFAFRICA.

The Captcha is "vrywome", sounds like something related to ANAPEST.

Ellen S 3:51 PM  

P.S. I'm feeling really old. Learned about the ICC in Law School? In history classes? Oy. I remember when it existed and regulated commerce. Of course, those were the days when you couldn't have a telephone extension without paying extra to AT&T.

quilter1 3:51 PM  

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is current. I currently read her to my grandkids and they laugh as hard as I ever did at their age.
No problem with this--agree on an easy rating. But I have to commiserate with @Anonymous 9:15 about CROESUS falling out of the language. As I assisted my mom with her lunch menu today I was astounded that the young nurses' aide had never tasted cranberry sauce and didn't know what turkey stuffing was. Where has she been for the past 24 Thanksgivings?

LaneB 3:54 PM  

Trouble with OMICRON, ANAPEST, the R in RLS,not figuring out Robert Louis Stevenson and never having heard of anapest. That left a hole in Vegas and New York STRIP (area and steak.). I guess the hole means a DNF but I' m satisfied with the morning's work and can watch the Giants play in peace. Fun for this Sunday.

The Master of the House 4:08 PM  

I don't think that the idiom 'rich as CROESUS' has fallen out of the language.

In fact, it is part of the lyric of a song in Les Miz- when The Thenardiers appear at the wedding scene, they sing "We'll be rich as CROESUS..."

Benko 5:06 PM  

@jae--QED, for Q.
@retired chemist...sunday funnies in a newspaper seem very archaic to me.

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

@jae- QOM- city in Iran
QVC-shopping network

jae 5:45 PM  

Folks please reread my post. I was talking about three letter words or abbreviations beginning with A. Can't think of a three letter AQ...oops, just thought of AQI air quality index.

Z 5:52 PM  

Apparently OFL has read Alexie but not Dickens or Brontë. Hmmm, let's be dismayed that he hasn't read "the canon" as determined in 1965. I am wringing my hands! How could anyone let him teach college courses? Mrs. Pigglywiggly will be used in a crude double entendre before we know it.

Milford 6:05 PM  

Yeah sorry, but rich as CROESUS is just not a phrase I've ever heard. Not sure if its regional or generational, but it's always interesting to see those types of things be gimmes for some and utter blanks for others.

I think the rich references I remember involved either Rockefeller or the Sultan of Brunei.

michael 6:26 PM  

very easy, except for my very last letter tty-/-ester

I guessed "l" and was right. Probably should have known ttyl, but I didn't.

Anonymous 6:28 PM  

"Rich as Croesus" is something my mother (b. 1919) used to say.

Agree with all the criticism of the theme answers; they were hammered together in unfunny and inconsistent ways.

Also, "I'm not kidding" cannot be a clue for "serious."


Abdul Qadeer Khan 6:34 PM  

@jae - Hey, Don't forget me -

AQK Abdul Qadeer Khan

My abbreviated name is well known in some circles, though based on what I have read, maybe not at this blog.

fralex 7:02 PM  

Noticed a mistake in this puzzle. Yasir Arafat is a cricket player born in Pakistan. Yasser Arafat was the PLO leader born in Cairo.

Unknown 7:42 PM  

Lots of light fun, considering I was doing this late in the day. Enjoyed the theme answers. Got snagged in the SW corner with Cairene.

Not sure the Lester Holt comment made aways back was entirely nice or necessary.

Paul Keller 7:57 PM  

I found the puzzle tough, but enjoyable. It seems to have been fair. There were a lot of words I didn't know. I couldn't solve either the ICC-CAIRENE or the GAVOTTE-TSU crossing, but I see that CAIRENE was gettable and that GAVOTTE was known to the more erudite among us.

Transliteration's a batch . . . of fun 8:06 PM  

@fralex - You say Yasir, I say Yasser. It's Arabic. Different sources render the same name differently in English.

Yasir Arafat

Arafat, Yasir or Yasser (yäsērˈ ärˈäfät; –sər) [key], 1929–2004, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the coordinating body for Palestinian organizations, and head of Al Fatah, the largest group in the PLO. He was born in Cairo, but . . .

Read more: Arafat, Yasir | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/people/arafat-yasir.html#ixzz2URlMm6le

jberg 8:26 PM  

All you people complaining about CROESUS, take it from me -- you will hear or read the phrase "rich as Croesus" three times in the next month. Trust me on this. It's one of those things that you just never noticed before.

It was all gettable, even to a guy like me who has not watched TV in 10 years and had no idea that there was a show called MONK. However, it was a tedious slog, even with clever (but offensive) answers like OUTHOUSE OF AFRICA.

I live in Massachusetts, but had no idea the ELM TREE is our state symbol. Actually we have several, incuding a state muffin (the corn muffin) and a state insect (the ladybug). A friend of mine is currently campaigning to make "Road Runner" the official rock song of Massachusetts - the bill has been introduced, but there's considerable controversy.

A MENU was awfully clued - but "boxer, e.g., in brief" more than made up for it.

okanaganer 9:10 PM  

When I saw 23A began with TAXI... I was so sure the movie in question was TAXI DRIVER.

I agree that SAY ANYTHING MONK is inconsistent; I really wanted it to be SAY ANYTHING GOES. I've never heard of a TV show called GOES, but until I read this blog I'd never heard of MONK either.

nurturing 10:39 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
nurturing 10:40 PM  

Monk was a favourite show of mine. I've loved Tony Shalhoub ever since "Wings". I loved him in the short-lived TV show "Stark Raving Mad" where Neil Patrick Harris played the Monklike character.

Gavotte was a gimme as well. Just sayin' - different strokes.

acme 2:36 AM  

waited all day and no one remembered nor mentioned it, so I guess I will. Patrick Blindauer and I had this same Sunday theme (and title!) back in August 2009... just want to quote part of Rex to show how much has changed in 3 and a half years!

Constructors: Patrick Blindauer and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Made For TV-Movies" — 5 grid-spanning answers are wacky, hypothetical shows; each answer is made up of an existing TV show and an existing movie linked together by a shared word

A very clever and very easy puzzle from two of my favorite constructors. Theme answers were few, but enormous, and easy to get with only a handful of crosses in place. When you can throw 21-letter answers across the grid with relative ease, the rest of the puzzle is sure to follow.

Theme answers:

22A: Dirt-dishing lass who's been cut off? (Gossip Girl, Interrupted)
44A: Dad is familiar with top Broadway star? (Father Knows Best in Show)
66A: Actor Joel's crime scene analysis? (Grey's Anatomy of a Murder)
90A: One-quarter of a mourning lacrosse team? (Two and a Half Men in Black)
113A: Hollywood hanky-panky? (Sex and the City of Angels)

sanfranman59 2:41 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 7:18, 6:14, 1.17, 96%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 179 Mondays)
Tue 9:09, 8:09, 1.12, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:47, 10:00, 0.88, 24%, Easy-Medium
Thu 13:26, 16:53, 0.80, 15%, Easy
Fri 16:05, 21:35, 0.75, 12%, Easy
Sat 23:58, 25:19, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium
Sun 27:21, 28:59, 0.94, 43%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:21, 3:46, 1.16, 94%, Challenging
Tue 5:23, 4:49, 1.12, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:10, 5:45, 0.90, 25%, Easy-Medium
Thu 7:58, 9:49, 0.81, 15%, Easy
Fri 9:50, 12:19, 0.80, 18%, Easy
Sat 14:48, 15:08, 0.98, 45%, Medium
Sun 18:46, 19:51, 0.95, 38%, Easy-Medium

Jdipinto 7:36 AM  

@JC66 - there's nothing "wrong" with TUTUS as an answer, but TORUS/TUTUS is not symmetrical with ELUDE/EVADE on the upper left side of the puzzle. I was suggesting just one alternative that would make the two symmetrical.

Z 8:16 AM  

@ACME 2:36 a.m. - A clean grid and a fun solve. I must have still been primarily a lurker back then since I remember the puzzle but see I didn't comment.

What's changed? You're still a great constructor whose work we don't see enough of. Rex is still a wonderfully snarky task master holding everyone's toes to the fire in search of the perfect puzzle. And you clued OBI as a sash, not as the more famous (in Holland, Mi.) Ottawa Beach Inn. Now to see if I can get the Monday puzzle to work on my iPad.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

It sounds as though many of the bloggers didn't know of the 1989 John Cusack movie "Say Anything".

syndy 1:46 PM  

We knew the movie-It did not make the phrase SAY ANYTHING MONK mean anything.Hand Soap is a thing out house is a thing SAY MONK is not

Anonymous 8:10 PM  

Seriously could not figure DEM out. That clue was entirely insufficient.

Spacecraft 12:54 PM  

I love the Simon song, but GAVOTTE still makes me think of My Fair Lady:

Ev'ry dyuke and lord and peah is heah
Ev'ryone who should be heah is heah
What a grrripping, absolutely rrripping moment at the Ascot Op'ning Day!

Gotta love the Ascot Gavotte!

This one was cute. I liked it despite the usual forced dreck in a 21x21, already touched upon. In particular, the two long downs make a wryly humorous tandem: TAX RETURNS: TALK DIRTY. Need more be said?

Interesting juncture: UPSTART/GOSOFT.

For "Parliament constituent," having the NI in place, I went for NIghtowl (you know, a parliament of owls), thinking my pinup guy's features could be his legs. And my "Boxer" could have been a Dog! But after switching the E and R of MITer, I got everything in the SE straightened out.

Stumbled at the start trying to put the film TAXI Driver in 23a before I realized the TAXI part referred to TV, not a movie.

Agree that the SW needed to be reworked. I'M not MOVED by what was there. AMEN, U!

Dirigonzo 4:00 PM  

A very late start Sunday evening (and possibly too much bourbon) kept me from finishing the puz until this AM and even then, it took a while. The Prince Valiant strip that appeared in the same paper as the puzzle featured his wife Aleta and twin daughters Karen and Valeta (serious), so no problem there. The theme answers mostly came easily enough but some of the fill gave me fits - GOSOFT started out as easeup then mutated to letoff before I finally got the two Os from crosses and saw the right answer. Finished with an error at MIa/CRaESUS.

I just realized that for cruciverbalists, TGIF could stand for "Thank God I Finished!" There are some puzzles that leave me feeling that way.

Unknown 4:01 AM  

My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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