British luxury SUV / MON 10-28-13 / Star-making title role for Mel Gibson / Gulager of Last Picture Show / Thinker's counterpart / Full political assemblies

Monday, October 28, 2013

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: dog names — iconic dog names can be found at the end of four theme answers

Theme answers:
  • 30A: *It's a happening place (IN SPOT)
  • 34A: *Sophocles tragedy ("OEDIPUS REX")
  • 43A: *British luxury S.U.V. (RANGE ROVER)
  • 45A: *Star-making title role for Mel Gibson (MAD MAX)

Theme is tied together by the two-answer song lyric "WHERE OH WHERE HAS / MY LITTLE DOG GONE" (17A: With 62-Across, question in a children's song)

Word of the Day: MAD MAX
Mad Max is a 1979 Australian dystopian action film directed by George Miller, written by Miller and Byron Kennedy over the original script by James McCausland, starring Mel Gibson.
It became a top-grossing Australian film, holding the Guinness record for most profitable film for decades and has been credited for further opening up the global market to Australian New Wave films. It was also the first Australian film to be shot with a widescreen anamorphic lens.[3] The first film in the seriesMad Max spawned sequels Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior) in 1981 and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985. A fourth installment, Mad Max: Fury Road starring actor Tom Hardy as Max, is currently in production. (wikipedia)
• • •

First, the question is "OH WHERE OH WHERE etc." There is an initial "OH." You can't just leave it out. Or, rather, apparently, you can, but that's just stupid.

[Stupid wrong answer was almost worth it just to get to see this LOL-bad animation]

Second, OH ME is not a thing. Leaving aside the replication of OH from the stupid wrong / incomplete song lyric, OH ME is just not a thing. It's part of a thing, maybe. "OH ME OH MY" is a part of some song lyrics, somewhere. But OH ME? No. No me. Look, if you have to have ridiculous "quaint" expressions no one actually says in your puzzles, I'll give you (barely) "AH, ME" (which you do see from time to time, sadly). Otherwise, you'll have to go with the more normal "OH MY!" or you'll have to tear out your easily refilled corner and do something less lazy. IMHO.

[Yes, this is permissible]

Third, MAX is not an iconic dog name. No. No. Yes, there are surely dogs named MAX in the world; MAX is probably a reasonably common dog name. But it is no REX. It is no SPOT. It is no ROVER. It is no, let's say, FIDO. That is, it doesn't even come close, in its iconic quality, to those other names. LADY is a. a more iconic dog name, and b. a name that might work as the last word in a reasonably common phrase, i.e. there are surely theme answers ending in LADY out there. Maybe not six-letter ones, but why not go HOT SPOT (waaaaaaaaay better than IN SPOT) and FAT LADY ([It's not over until she sings, in a famous expression]). 7 and 7. Rebuild your grid around those. But in the NYT's current low-bar environment, I guess easy suggestions for improving a puzzle aren't seen as worth making. Too time-consuming? Too much of a hassle to polish a Monday? Probably. I mean, it's "just a puzzle."

There are some nice answers in here (I'm a fan of PRESAGES, and MAD MAX, despite its utter inaptness as a theme answer, is great fill), but this thing's dead in the water. A non-starter. A possible starter, but as it stands, in its current state, a wholly inadequate offering.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Steve J 12:19 AM  

    Everything Rex said. MAX? No. Where's FIDO? Oh where, oh where has my missing OH gone?

    Also, it's RIATA. If you're going to use a variant spelling - especially on a Monday - you need to indicate it. I don't know when and why Will has suddenly decided to stop telegraphing variants (witness yesterday's unmarked MIAOW), but it's a little annoying.

    It also made a mess of OREGON for me, where I also had EASED instead of EDGED, giving me OIAPUS REY (oh yeah, I also had NAY instead of NIX).

    Even setting aside my own bolloxing up of a simple Monday, the missteps Rex noted rubbed me the wrong way. Not my favorite Monday by a long shot. Grr.

    nanpilla 12:27 AM  

    Quick vow?


    jae 12:46 AM  

    Completely different take on this than @Rex. Thought it was cute and clever.   Medium for me too and I liked  it.

    Non Mon. stuff: The var. @Steve J REATA, CLU (mostly known for Western roles in the '50s and '60s),  PLENA

    Erasure: Gel for GOO

    PRESAGES is a fine word and my granddaughter's dog is Max.

    Sarah 12:47 AM  

    Things I've avoid on a Monday:

    RDAS, EEC, OTT, OMEGAS, MCAN. And And then there's the stuff I'd avoid on any day (OHME, ANDUP, ELAL, HIHO....)

    Long downs: not too lively either. And WTH happened to the SE corner?
    (5 second improvement: ANTON/OTS/LOT)

    retired_chemist 1:03 AM  

    Puzzles are fun. This on was. That said, my take on the details is pretty much the same as Rex's.

    PLENA is not limited to political assemblies. It's any assembly of the whole of whatever body.

    On to Tuesday....

    Greg Charles 1:36 AM  

    On the way to lunch one day, my friend Max had a, fortunately tied up, dog lunge at him from behind some bushes. While still in mid-reel, poor Max was suddenly confronted by a stranger coming out of the cafe yelling, "Stop that Max!" The dog's name, you see, was also Max.

    chefwen 1:55 AM  

    PLENA was my WOD - new one for me. Agree with the medium rating, leaning a little on the easy side for me. Only hang up was changing RIATA to REATA. Clue us in on a Monday guys.

    Anoa Bob 2:13 AM  

    I thought the theme was just 4 random dog names at the end of the asterisked entries sandwiched between the partial children's song lyric. Didn't pick up on the iconic part.

    Also wondered why the asterisks were used. Was it to signal that REGALE & SEEPED at 27A & 48A weren't part of the theme, while the symmetrically placed, equal letter-count IN SPOT & MAD MAX at 30A & 45A were?

    I like PRESAGE & TRYST at 40D & 69A. The helper-square (aka cheater-square)"S" that both share at the end, not so much. That's a two-for-one POC (plural of convience). Two more two-for-ones are at the ends of 4D AREA MAP/38A RAGE, & 46D MERIT/68A MEL.

    The POC fest continues with RXS, OTS, RDAS, EGGS, GOWNS, & OMEGAS. That's too many, IMHO.

    Carola 2:20 AM  

    I liked the light-hearted Monday theme, although I actually misunderstood it in part: I thought REX and ROVER were the theme answers that went with the question and that the constructor had also HIDden SPOT as a bonus answer - because I didn't regard MAX as a typical dog's name.

    I liked HID as the opening answer in this game of looking for the little dog; would have been nice if the opposite corner could have ended things with an arf instead of a MOO.

    Benko 2:31 AM  

    I'm more excited to find out they are making a new Mad Max movie!

    Anonymous 3:29 AM  

    FWIW, I've never met a Fido in real life, the only reason I know it's a dog's name is comic books/strips and crosswords. And for Canadians 20 years my junior, the main association is with a cellular carrier

    Anonymous 3:37 AM  

    I would posit that any body of people that assembles is political, and especially ones that describe the whole of their membership as a PLENA.

    Anonymous 3:42 AM  

    PLENUM, but you know what I meant...

    Anonymous 4:51 AM  

    FYI, surely there ARE dogs named Max. Max is and has been for years the most popular male dog name in the US. Many more Maxes than Rex's, Rovers, and Spots. Don't know if that's iconic but it probably does mean it doesn't deserve the ridicule it's getting here. Cheers.

    MetaRex 6:38 AM  

    Better the way it is, w/ the doggie theme plus EWE, ELSIE, and MOO giving it a kiddie farm animal vibe?

    Or better w/ the SE changed per Carola's idea, w/ ANTON, GER., and a final ARF from the little dog that HID?

    Good either way by me...going doggier would be cute but would make the theme loose.

    Clarence H. 7:15 AM  

    Even with out the initial OH, the phrase is still the question asked in the children's song.

    @Rex: Would you kill the whole puzzle because of the omitted OH?

    Anonymous 7:39 AM  

    I think the "iconic" quality of "Max" might come from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" - same logic as using "Lady."

    I think I have heard "oh me" as a stand alone for worry, mainly in contemporary English, vs American ... but I wouldn't swear to it without checking up on it. I think it would be a truncation of "oh dear me," but not sure.

    IMHO, the case against replacing it with "oh my" is that the latter is usually used for surprise rather than worry, at least that is the way I have usually heard it used I think.

    I would disagree with "merits." Isn't it merit BADGES that are earned? or is it a common short-hand in the Scouts to refer to them just as merits? I'm not super knowledgeable on the Scouts, so that very well may be.

    I thought the theme was cute and liked it for a Monday.

    Scarab 7:52 AM  

    Count me in for aH ME and Nay. And I was also suspicious of OH ME when I filled it in.

    I ignored the asterisks and never went back to see what they had been about. I get the dog names, but I'm not sure I buy the whole kennels and leashes thing. The "missing" OH didn't faze me.

    This played more like a Tuesday for me. And my time was more in line with a Tuesday.

    Anonymous 8:11 AM  

    just googled the origin of the name "fido" for dogs. evidently it comes from the name of a dog that abraham lincoln was particularly fond of. it's kind of a sad story, actually.

    but the name fido comes from the latin for, roughly, "trustworthy." lincoln's dog was also the first to be photographed.

    if i had a dog, i'd name him fido.

    JFC 8:29 AM  

    I liked this puzzle for two reasons. First, our first dog was named Max. Second I like seeing Rex as a dog's name. Of course, Rex not liking it is just a bonus....


    Aggie Clu M(icha)els 8:35 AM  

    Maybe the missing initial OH was in the OHME entry.
    Didn't bother me, seemed like poetic license, literally.

    When I had a dog and would frequent dog parks, if you called "Max!" fifty dogs would bound your way and the other fifty were made up of Lucy and Bear.

    I didn't know the word PLENA. I tried arENA, as in "political arena" I'm guessing PLENA/PRESAGES was tough for many Monday solvers...
    At the same time, it classes it up a bit.

    Lovely to see so many folks in LA. Elissa Grossman is one amazing woman!

    Z 8:40 AM  

    Anonymous has already gone over her limit by three, so no more Miss Anonymous. You have to leave room for the spellcasters after all.

    I agree with @Anoa Bob, totally missed the "iconic" part of the theme and knew that MAX was (and still may be) the most popular dog name in the US. Probably more popular than Rex (Latin for King) or Fido (from the Latin for Faithful). If it's not from Latin it's not "iconic."

    Bonus Theme answer - COCO.

    Beer Rating: Mead - treacly and old fashioned.

    jberg 8:42 AM  

    You could also clue 10A with this song by Lonnie Donegan.

    Aside from that, I'm with @Rex - more on the song title than on MAX. And with anon on MERITS -- I was a Scout, and no one would say that. You get MERITS and demerits in military schools, you get MERIT badges in the Scouts.

    joho 8:44 AM  

    DOGGONE it, this was EASY for me! Didn't mutter, "OHME" once.

    This is one of those puzzles we can all jump in and add our own theme answers which is a good thing. Mine is, THELIFEOFRILEY (my adorable avatar who does.)

    @Anonymous Aggie Clu M(icha)els ... what in the world are you doing up at this hour!

    joho 8:46 AM  

    Other possible bonus answers: ELSIE, RANGER and REGGIE. Wait a minute, scratch ELSIE that links up with MOO!

    Bob Kerfuffle 9:24 AM  

    Must agree with @jberg - In 50 years in BSA, never heard Merit Badges referred to as "MERITS".

    chefbea 9:32 AM  

    A little tough for a monday but finally got it all. Had Oh my at first. My sister in law had a dachshound named Max.

    Unknown 9:34 AM  

    Oh, yay, a doggie puzzle. For this occasion, I changed my pic to my sweet bloodhound Daisy, caught in the act of eating tissues. Yesterday while we had the family over for a birthday dinner, she managed to grab a chicken carcass and ran through the house with it until she was finally cornered under the piano. Life with dogs -- much more fun than this puzzle. AH ME? Really?

    AliasZ 9:41 AM  

    IMHO we can ease up on the unflattering tone of some of the criticism, from REX on down. It's only a DOGGONE Monday puzzle, for PEEVE's sake.

    As for dog's names, I knew people who OWNED dogs named ROCO(CO), (RO)COCO, SONIA, REGGIE, and my favorite, Puccini, but I never knew a dog named ROVER, REX, SPOT or MAX.

    There is more theme-related material here than meets the eye. The aforementioned 15A: ROCO/COCO and its symmetrical pair at 66A, the classic excuse: "the dog (AER)ATE my homework," then in the center of the grid, the answer to the theme question is 35D: RAN away, but luckily s/he had an identification TAG at 39A.

    Since we are picking nits, along the line of "variants that are not noted in the cluing lately," like riata/REATA), the actual title of the Sophocles tragedy is Oedipus the King (Οἰδίπους Τύραννος, Oidipous Tyrannos), not OEDIPUS REX. The latter is its Latin translation, and last time I checked, Sophocles wrote in Greek, not Latin.

    However, Igor Stravinsky composed an opera-oratorio titled OEDIPUS REX, on a libretto by Jean Cocteau. This perhaps would've been a better clue for 34A, since it is the actual title of the piece.

    JC66 9:57 AM  

    At least the names in today's puzzle have some meaning, as opposed to yesterday's.

    Milford 10:08 AM  

    Didn't even see the DOG names in the puzzle until I came here - I must have missed the little stars on the clues.

    Medium Monday, got a little hung up in the PLENA/PRESAGES area, two words I'm not terribly familiar with.

    A dog named MAX lives across the street. We have a Malcolm, not an iconic dog name. Best friend had a beautiful collie named REX, which was particularly clever because their last name was King (hi, e.k.!)

    OEDIPUS REX makes me think of the Woody Allen short film in "New York Stories" titled "Oedipus Wrecks".

    Pet PEEVE can be added to the bonus answers.

    quilter1 10:10 AM  

    Played very easy for me and I did not see the theme at all. Kind of boring.

    Woof 10:14 AM  

    @Rex re:Max

    "Minimal fact-checking is greatly appreciated."

    Rex Parker 7/24/09

    Masked and AnonymoUUs 10:32 AM  

    Doggies! Fun. Works for me. I know of more dogs named Max than Fido. Do miss that openin OH a little bit, tho. (Where oh where has my other oh gone!) Chalk it up as a "pet" annoyance.

    fave MonPuz-like easy clue:
    "Oink : pig :: ___ : cow"
    also nice:
    "___ the Cow (Borden symbol)"

    The more yah think about it, CLU is a pretty great crossword name. Brings to mind another puz I just saw lately...


    M and A also 10:38 AM  

    Tricker treat puz, here:

    I'm told it don't work on a tablet. So take two tablets.

    gifcan 10:39 AM  

    Meh monday. May be my mood and not the puzzle.

    ONO and AGONY, side by side, seems appropriate.

    'shedive', my capcha. Rundown sorority?

    Melodious Funk 10:40 AM  

    There once was a man named Oedious Rex
    You may have heard about his odd complex
    His name appears in Freud's index
    'Cuz he loooooved his mother.

    -Tom Lehrer

    One of his best, for those of a certain age.

    Two Ponies 10:47 AM  

    I thought this was cute and fun.
    But I'm a sucker for anything dog.
    @Andrea is right. Call out Max! at the dog park and watch the stampede.
    I was hoping plena would be WOTD.
    Always a plus to learn something on a Monday. Oh, two things. Cool to find out the origins of Fido.

    Anonymous 11:01 AM  

    I'm sure MAX is a common name for a dog, and yes, you go to a dog-park yell MAX and several dogs will respond.

    So, go to the same dog park and yell ROVER. You'll be confronted with complete silence, except for the partially deaf dog who thought you said roll over, and is whining because he's so damned old he can't roll over. Yell SPOT and the only reaction will be the retrievers & pointers looking for a bird. Yell REX and the only response will be from my dog's playmate. However, these three names are, while relatively rare, iconic names for dogs. There are no iconic MAXs.

    Hence the point.

    Rex Parker 11:07 AM  

    MERITS = another giant "ugh" I forgot to mention.


    M and A Helpful Desk 11:18 AM  

    Heck, try goin into a crowded park and yell SQUIRREL. Near every dog will spring into action. MAX got into the Guiness record books, tho, as the world's oldest dog (26). So appropriately named! MAX was also the Grinch's dog. Not to mention, MadMax had a great dog, who for lack of a better name, could be called Little Max. Or Mini Max. QED.

    Waaaaa 11:32 AM  

    Pretty weak (read: rejection-worthy)for a seasoned constructor with >10 puzzles published in the Times. I think this work would definitely have been rejected had it been submitted by a no-name constructor.

    Hey, I could have said that yesterday, too.

    retired_chemist 11:51 AM  

    A PLENAry Session at an academic conference is one with no other sessions scheduled at that time, so the entire set of conferees is expected to attend. Of course a bunch of them are at the bar drinking during the session, but that's beside the point. It is normally a lecture and rarely in any sense political.

    Academe finds other venues to express the human political urge. Academic politics is so vicious because the stakes are so small.

    retired_chemist 12:00 PM  

    I know more dogs named MAX (1) than I do FIDO, SPOT, or ROVER (all 0 even if stereotypical) . I know a COCO (15A) and we have a PESO (61D).

    Martin 12:12 PM  

    Yes, "Max" is the number one name for male dogs and none of the other three make the top 100.

    What's with asserting the theme is "iconic" dog names and then complaining Max is not iconic? If the theme were "three names you think are popular and one that really is," it was nailed.

    Z 12:20 PM  

    To be fair, MERITS is a fine word, it's the clue that is off.

    Z 12:24 PM  

    And our dog is Sam, short for Samurai. Our late pet was Axel the Guardian of the Sanctuary of Water and Ice. Nothing better than having an 8 and a 6 year-old boy name your pets. No overly popular MAX or cliché Fido here.

    John V 12:55 PM  

    I mean, it is a puzzle, folks. The starred theme bits were a nice touch for a Monday. Nice to just go with the flow, is what I think.

    Ray J 1:00 PM  

    The ex had a bear-chasing, bunny-eating, 11-pound Maltese named MAX, known to the AKC as Sir Max Patch of Pinyon Pine. He was a funny little guy who didn’t allow his diminutiveness to be a factor when it came to “protecting his humans.”

    OH ME! Two HOs today – I’M HO and HI HO.

    GMC, RANGE ROVER, ALERO and my very own Mitsubishi Mighty MAX give the puzzle a mini vehicle theme.

    Pablo 1:08 PM  

    @Martin What's with asserting the theme is "iconic" dog names and then complaining Max is not iconic?

    How about three are iconic and one isn't?

    Anonymous 1:08 PM  

    MERITS is one of those plurals that isn't so bad. EGGS too.

    Martin 1:16 PM  


    My suggestion is like a joke with a punchline. Yours is like a shaggy dog story.

    Bob Kerfuffle 1:41 PM  

    @M&A - Quite a superb puzz. Fully conquered in 32 minutes, 20 secounds. (Sic)

    ahimsa 1:42 PM  

    I'm also a sucker for anything doggy (or kitty) so I enjoyed the puzzle in spite of any flaws or nits. It was fun!

    I did notice the missing OH. But the clue said "question in a children's song." So, isn't that still correct? That initial Oh! is an exclamation before the question. (I think someone mentioned this but I searched and I can't seem to find it)

    I agree with the @Z that MERITS is a fine entry. It's the clue that is a bit off. Seems like the logical thing to do is to clue it as a verb. Monday easy clue => deserves.

    And thanks to @AliasZ for the info on OEDIPUS REX. I was pretty sure it was not the exact title for the Sophocles play but my memory was fuzzy.

    Hey, @M&A, I did your puzzle! Not yer traditional puz, but it made me laugh, so thanks! Or should I say "Har"?

    I came to the blog today hoping you'd comment on the MOO-cow easy clue for 70A and was not disappointed. :-)

    Bird 1:51 PM  

    What @Rex said. And. . .

    Scouts earn MERIT BADGES. Unless of course they’ve done away with the badge part since I was in the BSA. Change the clue.

    If you didn’t know 34A, 27D might be wrong. I had RIATA at first. Same goes for 40A crossing 31D (which took me a second to remember the spelling (A? E? I?). There are some words that I’m just not 100% sure on despite the number of times I see them.

    No problem with MAX as a themer as I’ve met a few dogs with that name.

    MetaRex 3:09 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    MetaRex 3:14 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    AliasZ 3:19 PM  

    I forgot to mention Carl Orff's opera, OEDIPUS der Tyrann, composed in 1959. It is scored for 9 double basses, 6 pianos, flutes, oboes, trombones, bass drums, harps, xylophone, metallophones, stone chimes, wood block, bongos, timbals, tambourine, triangle, castanets, cymbal and Javanese gong, plus of course the cast and chorus. Not your typical matinée fare, to say the least.

    Lewis 3:20 PM  

    m&a 11:18 -- great post from start to finish, on a roll, sir.

    Agree with Rex on Max. Also agree with the earlier poster who said puzzles are fun and thus so was this. PLENA is not a Monday word.

    I like CLU under GOO.

    MetaRex 3:21 PM  

    Was thinkin about how ya could quantify the ese-load for today or any other day...

    The results are posted on the blog cuz there's too much nitty stuff for here...

    Introducing the Eseometer

    sanfranman59 3:21 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 (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

    Mon 7:12, 6:07, 1.18, 97%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:30, 3:46, 1.19, 97%, Challenging

    Bird 3:42 PM  

    @MetaRex - That's one way to look at it.

    Don't forget to throw in 1 pt for each RRN and RCD (or would these fall under the abbreviations and acronyms category).

    Then what do we do with the result? I guess the lower the number, the better?

    FearlessKim 4:02 PM  

    Nearly everything has already been said, so here's my lone contribution to today's blog: "oh me! oh my" is a line from the tune "Scotch and Soda."

    "Scotch and soda, mud in your eye,
    Baby do I feel high! OHME oh my!
    Do I feel high!"

    Sang it at the benefit on Saturday :D

    GILL I. 4:06 PM  

    In my neck of the metropolis if you yell BUDDY about 400,000 chihuahuas start singing in unison.
    Kinda wish this started with BOW and ended with WOW...
    @nanpilla: BRIEF I DO! Good one...
    ROCOCO is so OEDIPUS REX - OH ME such AGONY and finally DOOM..
    Can't wait to see what I can pick apart tomorrow. Should I fear the voodoo?

    joho 5:33 PM  

    @Gill I.P. -- BOW/WOW is brilliant!

    3 and out.

    ahecht 5:47 PM  

    This is the second day in a row that REX has shown up in the crossword puzzle. Is Will Shortz trying to send a message?

    Given that the other words in common are ELAL, HID, and CSI, is Rex an Israeli spy?

    Questinia 8:03 PM  

    I thought the theme was to be where has it "gone" as in all the answers would include "GONE" like AntiGONEY instead of OEDIPUS REX etc.. That was my only hesitation... otherwise easy puzzle. I know many MAX dogs. Also know many MAX cats.

    sanfranman59 12:13 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 7:13, 6:07, 1.18, 97%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 201 Mondays)

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:16, 3:46, 1.13, 91%, Challenging

    J Dipinto 12:27 AM  

    Who cares if Max is the most common dog name now, what's wrong with it in the context of this puzzle is this: Max is a much more common HUMAN name than it is a dog name. There are/have never been humans named Spot or Rover and precious few named Rex; even if those are no longer popular dog names, they used to be associated EXCLUSIVELY with dogs. Max simply sucks as a "theme" answer here. Tell you what, keep Max and insert three other names from the top ten current dog names, like Bailey and Bella and Lucy and defend this puzzle. Blech. Also, the song the dwarfs sing is spelled "Heigh Ho" -- more carelessness.

    spacecraft 11:04 AM  

    I must confess to not being a Sessa fan; his fill is often junky and, as we have seen today, there is a careless attitude about getting something right. OFL came back belatedly and pointed out those Scout thingies: maeit BADGES, if you please, not MERITS. Word is fine; just don't clue it that way. Is Will's editing pen out of ink?

    Theme payoff? Well, I gotta admit, I finished the grid and had to go back and look for the reason for the asterisks, so there was an aha! moment. MAX is a "common" enough pooch name, but not iconic. Semi-admissable, I guess. Good enough for Ed. See what I mean?

    PLENA is hardly Monday fare, and I thought sure it'd be OFL's WOD.

    spacecraft 11:07 AM  

    MY editing pen's not working too well: "maeit?"

    Ginger 1:55 PM  

    Love when a puzzle evokes fond memories, and this one did. I have visions of many 4 legged family members, and their ANTICs, some good, some not, gracing our lives over the years.


    DMG 1:59 PM  

    Back from a week off, to a puzzle with only one write-over, the badge/MERIT thing. Didn't see the dog name idea, and couldn't understand the blog contents until that light came on. Still haven't figured out the many any CLU references, but that'll hardly spoil my day.

    Anyone else see the Arizona Republic's "Big" Thanksgiving puzzle? it covers an entire two page spread and the final clues are 876A and 858D. They suggest it as a family project, and I think there is some MERIT to that. I did a tiny piece, and the shifting from clues to grid becomes ungainly. May need to hire a clue-reader. Or maybe just not do it?

    Happy December, everyone!

    rain forest 2:03 PM  

    Amazing what kind of stuff gets thrown around in here. Questions:
    How many dogs must be named Max for the name to become iconic? What *exactly* is an "iconic" name? My neighbours have two dogs--one named Jake, and the other Kevin. Fun fact.

    Let's organize several PLENA (but not on a Monday, Heaven forfend) in parks across the continent and invite all the dogs to see how many Maxes are present. This idea has several MERITS, not the least of which would be the efficient depositing and collection of s**t.

    This puzzle was less offensive than a missing OH might lead you to believe.

    Solving in Seattle 2:22 PM  

    I've never tried to embed a url in the comment box before, but if you go to this website you'll see one of my favorite Gary Larson comics. If Max is popular as a non-iconic dog name, Ginger is by far the generic Golden Retriever name.

    Our first golden was Nutmeg, who was the unofficial mayor of our 'hood. When she went to doggie heaven at age 15, Rainy took her place. No Rexs, Spots, Rovers or Maxs.

    Loved the hair splitting discussion.

    capcha: quityle. A dyslexic's bed cover?

    Ginger 3:00 PM  

    @SIS I've met many 'Ginger's, mostly dogs. However, once when I was working with a customer and I told her my name she said, "Oh, I used to have a cow with that name!" Good deflating laugh...

    rain forest 3:11 PM  

    @SIS - NOW I see where you get "Rainy" from. Maybe we've talked about this before, but I had a Golden, named Tanner, who pretty well ruled the entire West side of Heffley Lake, just North of Kamloops. Great, great dog.

    Dirigonzo 3:55 PM  

    Not too long ago I tried to make a list of all the dogs I have had in my lifetime - I came up with 14 names and none of them were in the grid.

    RANGEROVER does double-duty as a theme answer because RANGER is also a plausible (but admittedly not iconic) dog name. Now that I think about it, I bet there's a dog somewhere named OEDIPUS and his people call him "Eddie".

    Solving in Seattle 3:56 PM  

    @Ginger & @Rainy, I honestly don't think of either of you as goldens.
    Rainy is just a shorthand for Rain forest, like Spacy or Diri.
    Having said that, what a great breed they are. No wonder they're so popular.

    Cary in Boulder 4:42 PM  

    Gee, and here I thought the theme was "Iconic X-Wprd Bloggers."

    I have a neighbor named MAX and he has a dog. Does that count? We're fostering two kittens, but their names are Pumpkin and Suzy-Q.

    So much nitpicky for a Monday. I thought Monday was for the PLENA who don't like tough clues and obscure words.

    Ginger 6:51 PM  

    @SIS yes to being Golden aged, (Har) and have known many Golden Retreivers, great dogs. But, my all time favorite breed are Samoyeds, beautiful 'people' dogs, and next are pugs, natural clowns.

    @Diri, love your 'lab' avatar.

    Big game tonight....GO HAWKS!!

    Dirigonzo 8:38 PM  

    I meant to add earlier, today I met a service dog named Xe (pronounced Zee); not especially applicable to anything but I thought it was interesting in light of the dog name discussion.

    @Ginger - thanks for the compliment. I don't have a chocolate lab, but I do have the other three.

    Unknown 5:22 AM  

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