1997 Demi Moore title role / SUN 1-19-14 / Scarlett's sister-in-law best friend in Gone With Wind / Old from one beer lover to another sloganeer / Supposed ancestor of Dracula / Egyptian resurrection symbol / Pulitzer-winning novelist Jennifer / Warren baseball's winningest lefty

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Olden Goldies" — two words in classic song titles get spoonerized, with wacky results

Theme answers:
  • "I CITE THE WRONGS" (23A: Traffic copy's answer upon being asked "Describe your job"? [1975]) [Problem: "Describe your job" is not a question, so you can't "ask" it]
  • "RAFTER IN THE LANE" (32A: Post-tornado highway detritus, perhaps? [1974])
  •  "SHE'S SO HIGH" (50A: Remark about a female stoner? [1980])
  • "DOWNED HOG" (72A: Roast pig after a pig roast? [1956])
  • "FUN WINE DAY" (89A: Napa Valley excursion, maybe? [1963])
  • "YOUR HEATIN' CHART" (108A: Data request from a good ol' furnace repairman? [1953])
  • "MAD BOONE RISING" (122A: Frontiersman awakening in a foul mood? [1969])
Word of the Day: TABORET (41D: Backless seat, for one) —
taboret (also spelled tabouret) refers to two different pieces of furniture: a cabinet or a stool.
The popular sense refers to a small portable stand or cabinet, with drawers and shelves for storage. It is used as a method to bring organization to a work area. This name for a portable cabinet is common to artists. In the context of a the Arts and Crafts Movement, a taboret is a stand for a plant or a beverage.
As a stool, it refers to a short stool without a back or arms. The name is derived from its resemblance to a drum (diminutive of Old French tabour). (wikipedia)
• • •

This is cute, though it has some consistency issues. These theme answers are snappiest and tightest when all words (excluding prepositions, articles and pronouns) are involved. But I found the non-spoonerized DAY (in 89A) and RISING (in 122A) to be distracting and inelegant. Still, it's a nice light amusement, as themes go. Fill is just so-so—very clean, but pretty blah as well. TABORET is a ridiculous outlier—about a thousand times more arcane than anything else in the grid. It was also the only answer that caused much resistance at all today. At the TABOR-T / S-ERED crossing I just stopped. Couldn't see it. Wanted "E" but SEERED is not a thing. Rookie Mistake. Hang-My-Head, Slap-Myself Mistake. That's Parsing 101 right there. Not SEERED, of course, but SEE [space] RED. SEE RED. This was my bad, but did nothing to endure stupid TABORET to me. It's the worst answer in the grid, right? Right? You agree, right? I'm sorry, I mean, you're all AGREERS, right!? Right? OK, wait. I change my mind. There's a worse answer.

Mildly disturbed that half these so-called "oldies" are from my lifetime. But only mildly. Interesting attempt at 9D to put some lipstick on the crosswordese pigs that is ORR / OAR / ORE / O'ER (9D: Hockey great whose name is a homophone of 88-Across and 123- and 124-Down). Had a few missteps. Wanted OSIRIS at 1A: Egyptian resurrection symbol (SCARAB), even though I knew it was a stretch to call a god a "symbol." Wasn't until just now that I understood what BATH meant as the answer to 6D: Setting for David's "The Death of Marat." I was like "BATH? In England? The death of Marat took place in England? That … makes no sense." Indeed. Wrong kind of BATH. Not the city BATH. The splash splash BATH. Terrible clue on LENIN (37D: Name that starts a well-known "ism"). A. there are so many clues and go with one that involves a crosswordese suffix? and B. LENINism is a lot less "well known" (and oft-said) than many, many other "ism"s. Just a lifeless clue, that one. I like the part where LOLITA is likened to a puzzle (126A: About whom Nabokov said "She was like the composition of a beautiful puzzle—its composition and its solution at the same time")—nothing like having the activity you're currently engaged in be compared to pedophilia, amirite? Not Tone Deaf At All, I'm sure you're all AGREERS.

On to other business. Two other puzzles you might be interested in checking out. First is Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords, a biweekly puzzle focused on current events, ed. by Peter Gordon. These crosswords are super-timely, and tend to be easier than regular Fireball Crosswords (which, again, you really should be subscribed to by now). Today is his Kickstarter's last day, so get over there and support it if that sounds good to you. Also, you might check out Andrew Ries's "Aries Puzzles"—he makes wonderful Rows Garden puzzles (a variation on crosswords that involves rows of answers and circular "blooms" that cut through them (full explanation on his site, in the sidebar). He's offering subscriptions on a name-your-own price model. How can you go wrong. The new season just started, so jump on board.

Hardcore puzzle solvers should be sure to bookmark "Today's Puzzles" over at Amy Reynaldo's "Diary of a Crossword Fiend." It's got links to ALL THE PUZZLES, including the independents, and it's updated daily. It's my one-stop puzzle destination every morning. I go there, I print puzzles, I load up my clipboard, I head downstairs and solve over coffee. Seriously, this one page pretty much eliminates the problem of trying to track down all the different puzzles, trying to remember which one comes out when, etc. You just click, find the puzzle you want, and bam. Done.

OK, and now time for my PUZZLE OF THE WEEK: this week was competitive, with several themelesses making strong claims for my attention, but in the end, it was a puzzle that started the week that stood out the most. Lynn Lempel's NYT Monday puzzle (ONE AND ALL) was a model of the form. Crisp, clean, lively, simple. Looks easy / is not. Early-week themed puzzles are so often forgettable (in large part because they go by so quickly), but they have to be carefully crafted like every other puzzle. Well I guess they don't have to be. But they should be. Lynn is a master craftsperson when it comes to easy themed puzzles, and her Monday puzzle this week was truly exceptional.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Ellen S 12:35 AM  

What ... am I really the first one here? I finsihed without cheating. Even for sunday, something of a miracle. I thought it was fun, except I own a TABORET -- the cabinet with drawers kind, so I was confused by it showing up as a backless chair. Mine is only plastic and would collapse if I sat on it. Though it is backless.

Ellen S 12:37 AM  

P.S. - Gill I.P and Acme and I spent the day together in San Fran. Could not have been more fun. What a delightful bonus of this blog! There are pictures we have to figure out how to share.

jae 1:11 AM  

Love Spoonerisms loved the puzzle.  Lotsa zip, lotsa fun.  Plus, it was on the tough side of medium for me.  It took me three tries to get STRANDS after HELICES wouldn't work...spirals and strings.

Nice shout out to Colbert. 

I've never heard the song Groundhog (1956) and wiki has not been helpful.

Nice one Dan!

Unknown 1:29 AM  

If I'm not mistaken, the song is Hound Dog, and not Groundhog!

jae 1:44 AM  

@Jesse - Of course! 'D'oh! I also just failed Parsing 101.

Steve J 1:56 AM  
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Steve J 1:58 AM  
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Steve J 2:02 AM  

(Great. Fix a typo, introduce a new one. I give up with this post.)

Don't know why, but it took me forever to grok what was going on with the theme. I think I was thrown, in part, by the fact that SHE'S SO HIGH is an actual song from a late-'90s one-hit wonder (which obviously wouldn't have matched the provided date, but for all I knew the song was a cover and the original was from 1980). So I didn't catch the spoonerisms going on until I finally stared at FUN WINE DAY and got what was going on.

The theme answers were pretty decent, although I was thrown by the switch occurring at different parts of the answers.

Rest of the puzzle was so-so. Didn't find much of anything outside the theme that was exciting. And SEPIAS is not a thing. Unless you're referring to cuttlefish. (Sepia is indeed a thing, but it's essentially never used in the plural in English in terms of photography.)

Bob Kerfuffle 6:35 AM  

Agree: Nice puzzle; Medium difficulty; New word I (hope) I learned: TABORET.

My so far apparently unique write-over: 45 D, "Space cadet", had PUTZ before DITZ.

Loren Muse Smith 7:31 AM  

This was really, really fun and easy for me except for the lucky G guess at the DENG/EGAN cross and the lucky A guess at the SPAHN/TIAS cross. "Spohn" just looked too weird, but not really out of the question.

I'm with @jae and love Spoonerisms. I CITE THE WRONGS had to have been the seed? I liked DOWNED HOG, too; I eat bacon every morning of my life.

Son: - "Hey, Mom – wanna go PF to work out?"
Me: - "Give me a couple of hours for this DOWNED HOG to digress.(Mornin', @M&A)

Lots of angst – MAD right over ANGERED, SEE RED, TENSE, ON EDGE. . . Hey – throw on your YOGA TOGA, grab a Stella ARTOIS and CHILl.

I always like seeing the outlandish collective nouns we have for animals. Whoever made up English had a huge dictionary, a ton of time, and a lot of STROH'S. I just did a little research . . . it's a "skewer" of EGRETS. Sheesh. I sure would be looking over my back all the time. . .

That MELANIE was such A TEASE. A real LOLITA.

SWAT AT – we're still being invaded by these little %$#@& lady bugs.

"Like beef for fondue" – I had the bright idea when my son was in fourth grade to celebrate his birthday by inviting 15 boys over for fondue. (And of course it became a yearly tradition.) Raw beef, shrimp, chicken. Three pots of boiling oil. Thirty sharp forks. Fifteen excited young boys, each given his own two color CODEd forks. SHOULDA NODE better. Oh well – no emergency room trips, so I guess it all worked out.

Got a kick out of SHE'S SO HIGH crossing DITZ. WEEDER ETTE.

YACHT AFLOAT and you can hear the "AYE AYE SIR" followed by "AT EASE." Can you imagine being that rich? No LOOS for you – just heads.

I can honestly see the collective AYE roll when I say I got a kick out of the lipsticked ORE, OAR, OER, ORE guys.

DIVERSE eras - '80s - '90s vibe with IMELDA, ARSENIO, STROH'S, earlier decades with Barry Manilow, Neil Sedaka, Creedence Clearwater, The Chiffons. . .@Rex – more than half these "oldies" are of course from my lifetime, but I thought the title was the cleverest of all the Spoonerisms today, and had I been the constructor, "Olden Goldies" would have been absolutely irresistible.

Know what would have been truly the pièce de résistance here? Take SHOULDA, try to rework it to fit SPOONER, and use the LENIN clue there.

Dan – loved your song choices. I sniffed around, and it was hard!
. . . Nah. I need TO GO lie down.

PS - @Bob – I have my plane tickets, hotel reservation, and am registered. See you soon! You getting there early enough Friday to do lunch? Any others out there going but don't want to be all public about it - email me so we can meet up.

Z 8:01 AM  

I did this last night (off to NC this morning to return the middle child (turns 21 Tuesday) to college). MAD BOONE RISING is the first one I filled completely and that helped as I cycled back up. Olden Goldies had flown right over my head like a skewer of egrets, or I might have gotten more of a foothold earlier. The years in the clues were basically meaningless distractors for me, except for the occasional debut album year that info just doesn't stick in my grey database. Also, I have to thank Rex for the He's so Fine video, because I was doing a 'groundhog?' parsing on that one (hi @jae - there's a wiki?).

The fill was inoffensive, but struck me as a little LINTY. I did find GI JANE right there by JOE kinda cute. The rest, get out the roller and get it off of my puzzle, it makes me look disheveled and I want to look heveled.

Not an oldies fan 8:07 AM  

In terms of the theme, nothing outstanding but OK. Although there is one problem.

If one is familiar with these songs, the puzzle would probably seem cute and nostalgic, even humorous. But if, like I, one is not an oldies fan, the puzzle falls flat, seeming dull and even tedious.

I guess this is why it sometimes seems to me that critiquing the puzzles is more of an egotistical statement than an objective assessment, especially when the comments spew anger and ridicule.

I am happy to let the oldies fans solve a puzzle they should enjoy, and I am happy to wait until next week for a puzzle that hopefully I will enjoy more.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

I agree of TABORET, but LENIN was a starter of of a famous 'ism"-- Communism.

Mohair Sam 9:27 AM  

Played as a medium here, and we enjoyed. Who doesn't love Spoonerisms? Pretty much agree with @rex on everything. Although we thought the lipstick on the ORR/OAR/ORE/OER hog was very clever - sneaking four crosswordese terms in one clue and getting a pat on the back. Not bad.

Agree with Rex totally on the LENIN clue. If the term "well-known" wasn't there it would have been easy, but we had to let the fill force old Vladimir in there.

Since we didn't know TABORET it took us a full 10 minutes to realize that 40a "Chilling" meant the opposite of the scary answer we were searching for - great misdirection clue.

And finally someone points out that most Nabokov clues involve a pedophile or his victim. I had the exact same reaction as Rex when I saw the clue. James Mason was a great actor, but he'll always be the horrid Humbert Humbert in my mind. Kinda like Matthew Broderick is Ferris Bueller.

AliasZ 9:28 AM  

Nice one, I like. Favorite theme answer: FUN WINE DAY, although I would've preferred if DAY were also part of the Spooner trick, like FUN DINE WAY, but good luck cluing that one.

The unusually high number of 6-7-8-letter entries were all excellent, with very few exceptions, e.g. SEPIAS and AGREERS, but these were already fully covered. I especially liked SCARAB, SHEBANG, PIEBALD, DRY-SALT and most others, and I say AYEAYESIR EVERYTIME I salute a superior officer. Seeing SEERED and SNEERED made me SLIME, I mean smile.

It's always fun to learn new things. Today it was TABORET and TANNINS. Tannins in tea and wine have antioxidant benefits and may also promote cardiovascular health.

Many opera lovers know that Verdi composed an opera titled Otello, but fewer may know he also composed one titled ATTILA.

A few more Olden Goldies occurred to me:

- Mellow Larry who?: Genial Mr. King? [1961]
- Slang on hoopie: Jargon worn by basketball fan? [1965]
- Fight lie mire: Resist swamp of untruths? [1967]
- Hail Rouse Jock: Storms awaken athlete? [1957]
- Oh, not a white!: Gosh, another Caucasian? [1975]
- Slew Shade Boos: Killed disapproval of sunglasses? [1955]
- Lenny Pain: Comedian Bruce's ache? [1967]
- Eye whammy, say: Ocular hex, for instance? [1978] (this one's a groaner)
- Dave, the Mast Lance for Sea: Mr. Letterman, the spear stuck in thar pole is to be used only after we leave port? [1960]

There is more, but why bother?

Happy Sunday.

art mugalian 9:53 AM  

Stroh's backwards is shorts.

August West 10:42 AM  

Played easy and very fast here, due to the largely straightforward, unchallenging fill. Unlike Rex, SCARAB/SPIEL went in immediately. I then just worked eastward across the top, thinking, "OK, gotcha" as ICITETHEWRONGS came into view.

Quibble with the clue for ARSENIO not being qualified with "One time," or "Erstwhile," or ", once." Didn't slow me down because the crosses were there but that answer is certainly off, as clued.

Drank a lot of STROH'S in Indiana back in college. Now, I really enjoy Stella ARTOIS.

Guess I should watch Stephen Colbert. Not sure I get the clue. Is "Truthiness" one of his "words?"

Danp 10:49 AM  

Bitten by the sock of the day - Attacked by Wednesday's hose.

ChrisM 10:52 AM  

Put your shed on my holder (add own clue here!)

Carole Shmurak 11:00 AM  

I thought STRANDS for DNA structure was really bad. If you're going to mention something specific like DNA and ask about its "structure", then it should be a lot more specific than strands. I tried helical, helices etc until the crosses made it clear it couldn't start with an H. Even tried to get Busch in there for Strohs.

@aliasZ: I need some translations for your Olden Goldies! #s 1,8,9

chefbea 11:01 AM  

Took a while to get the theme. Got it at Downed Hog!!
Love all the olden goodies.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

I understand the theme, and actually got them all correct. But even though I got SHES SO HIGH and FUN WINE DAY (mostly from the crosses), I don't really "get" them. Can anyone explain them to me? Thanks.

DeanR 11:06 AM  

This. Puzzle. Sucked!

Evan 11:08 AM  

@August West:

It's arguably his most famous word. He coined it on the pilot episode of his show and it became Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2006. It means "truth that comes from the gut," i.e. without regard to facts.

Steve J 11:19 AM  
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Ralph Waldo Emerson 11:20 AM  

@Anonymous, 11:02 AM - "He's So Shy" and "One Fine Day." There are some complaints about how three word titles are handled by this puzzle, but my motto is, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

Steve J 11:21 AM  

@Anon 8.29: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels may have an argument with your claim that Lenin started Communism.

@August West: Setting aside that "one-time" qualifiers are as rare in clues these days as "variant" qualifiers, referencing ARSENIO as an erstwhile host would be inaccurate. He's actually back on TV since last September, with a revival of the Arsenio Hall Show.

Danp 11:31 AM  

@Carole Schmurak:
Hello, Mary Lou
Save the Last Dance for me
YMCA (you were warned)

Unknown 11:43 AM  

DNF. All clear except for TABORET, which I finally decided was French and so must be leBORET, which gave me TeeNINS, which seemed plausible, AlDASE, which seemed wrong, and deCODER, which seemed just fine.

I also blotched it at PIEBALm/mOT.

3 googles at the end cleared it up.

And FWIW, JEU and SCARAB also seemed wrong, so I'm used to accepting wrong-seeming fills.

The Spoonerisms were slow going. 3 hours to sort them out. Another half hour of guessing on the problem patches. My local guru said it was a 40 minute romp for him.

Three cheers for the new numerical captchas!

mac 12:03 PM  

I had fun solving this puzzle, and I don't always feel that way on Sundays.

Taboret somehow popped out. I love the shape of a scarab, use it in my jewelry design sometimes.

jberg 12:09 PM  

I was maybe 40% through this one when I remembered that it's good to look at the title on a Sunday; about two minutes later I figured out what it meant, and things got a lot easier - if still not completely easy. I did know most of the songs (though not "Laughter in the Rain," but some of the fill was a little tough. Especially that drove of HARES. I mean, a flock of sheep is something that a shepherd herds, but doea anyone herd HARES? Hard to imagine, so I kept trying to fit in oxen there.

Anyway, I loved the concept, especially YOUR HEATIN' CHART, and had fun solving it. AGREERS and TABORET did not invoke my LENINist ANGE RED of revenge, but SEPIAS bothered me -- not so much the plural, but that they are not "shots." They are the result of a particular method of printing; you could take the same negatives and print them in black and white. Somebody SHOULDA taken a WEEDER to that one.

Garth 12:15 PM  

Thought the puzzle was cute and breezy.

Rex's criticisms today were reasonable and measured. I enjoy learning about the aesthetic strengths and shortcomings of a given crossword if the criticism points out the problems without beating the issues into the ground.

But I also know you can't always get what you want.

(But if you try some time, you just might find, you'll get what you need).

August West 12:36 PM  

@Steve J: Yes, he's onTV. No, he is not big. I only learned that he is, in fact, airing currently, on googling to see when he was last relevant. Imagine my surprise on reading the first Google entry, indicating that his dismal ratings are in a "tailspin," and the recent incarnation of his show is not long for this world.

The Daily Dramaturg 12:49 PM  

This week's Sunday New York Times Crossword: a little on the tough side for me. Took 30 minutes and 59 seconds according to the website clock. I had to look up my final square on Rex Parker: 67-across, "Familia members" (TIAS), intersecting with 53-down, "Warren _____, baseball's winningest lefty" (SPAHN); I had TIOS and SPOHN and couldn't understand what I was doing wrong. I'm surprised; I'm usually a little better at baseball clues, but I've never heard of this guy. Apparently he led the Milwaukee Braves to their 1957 World Series win, so I'm sure I'll be encountering his name somewhere down the line here in Wisconsin. Check out more at my blog, http://www.thatssojacob.wordpress.com

Brookboy 12:51 PM  

Medium to challenging for me, and I LOVE Spoonerisms. First stopper was entering deCODER (42D) and SEEthe (76A). Got that figured out then entered HOmer (114D) for Odyssey Maker. Seemed correct at the time.

I also liked the artful way ORR, ORE, OER and OAR were presented. Even though I knew all the words would begin with O, I still had to work to get them right.

All in all a very enjoyable puzzle for me. Thank you, Mr. Schoenholz.

Brookboy 12:59 PM  

@the Daily Dramaturg:

I am old enough to remember watching Warren Spahn pitch for the old Milwaukee Braves when I was a kid. He holds the record for most wins by a left-hander in baseball history, and he won more career games than any pitcher in MLB since 1920 (considered the modern era). He's well-worth looking up:


Numinous 1:20 PM  

Gee, Rex, if you had seen The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, you'd never forget the lovely Glenda Jackson, as Charlotte Corday, stabbing Ian Richardson, as Jean-Paul Marat. BATH would have been right at the top of your compass in your wheelhouse.

I thought this was going to be a puzzle of total gimmes and sailed through counter clockwise with little real regard for the theme answers until MAD BOONE RISING hove into view. AYE AYE SIR, let's go back and look at the title. Well I'll be . . . . The only difficulty was the central coast and stumbling into the central plains. SOCK was the very last to fall and I was unsure of TABORET until the "WELL DONE" popped up on my iPad.

I still think this was an easy one even though it took me fifteen minutes longer than my best Sunday time.

No rant today. Sadly, this puzzle has triggered no memories. I could go off about SEPIAS, but I won't. I'm sure y'all'll be pleased not to have to wade through my blather.

Enjoyed this, Dan, a pleasant Sunday morning diversion.

GR 1:47 PM  

Initially wanted SEETHE rather than SEERED; I guess that could be considered a rookie mistake also. The aforementioned one-hit wonder left me confused with SHE'S SO HIGH, well, more confused than usual.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Man, oh man. I loved this puzzle but it was very very difficult for me. I slaved on it for over an hour before I finally completed it. This puzzle just plain had my number -- I stared at GIJANE for several minutes before I grasped it.

There were some real groaners on the theme clues, which I love -- the stupider the better. Hard to pick a favorite but maybe it's DOWNEDHOG.

I am glad that there are others who don't care for, or don't watch, Stephen Colbert. I am sure he's an o.k. guy in real life but I can't take his smug TV persona.


Carola 2:44 PM  

I love this kind of word play (Spiel, jeu) and knew I'd love the puzzle as soon as I read the title. I still remember some Spoonerized fairy tales from my kids' grade school years that involved Cinderella going to the ball in a dragnificent mess.

Lots of fun - especially I CITE THE WRONGS and YOUR HEATIN CHART - and easy except for the TABORET area and the far SW, due to inablility to see "rendezvous" as plural.

Thanks to commenters above for the extra laughs!

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

@jae, there is a song that Doc Watson made popular about a groundhog (gopher) but I don't know a date for it. The song also calls the groundhog a whistlepig. Each verse ends with "oh, groundhog."

ocanada73 2:52 PM  

Well, I thought it was fun and clever. And, Rex - you didn't mention the fun sub-theme: Olden Goldies. The 4 homophones are all based on the word 'ore' - and that ore is gold!

D 2:56 PM  
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Unknown 4:29 PM  

This has been the best nyt xword weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun) for me in recent memory. I finished them all without Googling and I enjoyed them all. This one especially - the theme answers made me laugh out loud.

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

DD --

We Older Bostonians will always remember Warren Spahn of the old Boston Braves. In the 1948 World Series, he and Johnny Sain were their pitching stalwarts, and a columnist coined the famous phrase:

"Spahn and Sain, then pray for rain."


Ms Beechum 4:43 PM  

Rex, what were the "several themelesses making strong claims for [your] attention" this week?

sanfranman59 6:02 PM  

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

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

Mon 5:48, 6:22, 0.91, 12%, Easy
Tue 9:52, 8:15, 1.20, 90%, Challenging
Wed 8:46, 10:26, 0.84, 13%, Easy
Thu 14:44, 19:03, 0.77, 12%, Easy
Fri 21:05, 19:52, 1.06, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 33:12, 28:53, 1.15, 84%, Challenging
Sun 34:28, 29:48, 1.16, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:35, 3:58, 0.90, 5%, Easy
Tue 6:21, 5:12, 1.22, 95%, Challenging
Wed 5:28, 6:11, 0.88, 18%, Easy
Thu 8:37, 10:36, 0.81, 16%, Easy
Fri 12:57, 11:32, 1.12, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 22:17, 18:12, 1.22, 87%, Challenging
Sun 22:32, 20:23, 1.11, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Go Niners!

okanaganer 6:59 PM  

@Numinous...funny you should mention de Sade, as I really wanted to put him in as the answer to 37 down.

r.alphbunker 8:00 PM  

A spoonerism for Rex Parker could be clued {Vaccine for the Black Plague?}

Steve J 8:29 PM  

@r.alphbunker: It'll probably seem obvious once you explain it, but I don't get it. Pex Rarker?

Rev. Spooner 8:36 PM  

Pax (pox) Recker (wrecker). Get it? Aargh!

OISK 8:58 PM  

Never heard of some of the songs that were spoonerized. laughter in the rain? He's so shy? And One fine day refers to an aria from Butterfly, right? Still a worthwhile Sunday workout.

Numinous 9:39 PM  

Yeah, Right, Madame Butterfly.
This was on the juke box at my after-school hang-out

OISK 9:55 PM  

@numinous Of course you knew I was joking, right? But un bel di is one of the most famous arias in all of opera, and I really never heard of the rock song...

Numinous 10:05 PM  

Doo Wop

The high school I went to was made up of a collection of buildings laid out like railroad cars with stair wells at either end. They were rather like medieval towers with concrete walls instead of stone and concrete stairs. They made perfect echo chambers.
The school day was divided into 45 minute periods from 8 AM to 3 PM. The lunch period was divided into two so as to avoid unleashing 3,000 kids on downtown Berkeley. Not everybody left the campus for lunch. Invariably, whatever stairwell one chose at the end of any lunch period one would be serenaded by the guys or girls taking advantage of the "room" singing covers or original songs in the doo wop style. There were at least eight groups and probably more competing for the stairwells.
That wasn't really my style of music back then but I must say the harmonies were terrific. I don't recall ever hearing bad music from those halls.

Ok, so one memory got stirred up.

Captcha: Webdir SAMUEL

Numinous 10:10 PM  

But you triggered a strong memory from my past.

I don't really know Madame Butterfly in spite of once going to an opera about Japan sung in Italian at the Greek Theater, in Berkeley, California.

My favorite aria is Queen of the Night.

michael 11:29 PM  

@daily dramaturg Warren Spahn was a terrific pitcher.

Glad Sundays are easier than Saturday. After yesterday's puzzle, I was wondering if I had lost my crossword mojo...

Unknown 11:36 PM  

Hey, Rex, thanks for the Pointer Sisters video. Was that a young Gwen Ifill singing lead? Seriously,the video had a naïveté that captured the spirit of the song perfectly. Who needs choreography when the Sisters can sway to their own sweet mellow.

IFILL. Haven't see that one yet. En garde!

paulsfo 3:11 AM  

@Anonymous Ralph Waldo Emerson: I agree. As i've said here before, probably too often, if you want symmetry, play Sudoku and stay away from the English language.

Liked the theme a lot. Got hung up for a while when I *knew" that 72A would end with "ham".

Anonymous 10:27 PM  

Am I the only one who reads this midweek? Just that our routine, doing the puzzle Wednesday or Thursday, means I lurk, rather than contribute. Nevertheless, this blog always makes me smile, sometimes more than the puzzle itself. Many thanks to you, Rex, and all the "early birds" for the insightful commentary

uncle john 5:05 PM  

No, you are not the only one as attested to by this post. I usually make the puzzle last for a few days and then check these comments occasionally, as I feel it enhances the solving experience. I had a sticking point in this one at a herd of "hares" area.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

@carola - You made me laugh! What I remember about Cinderella is that she slopped her dripper...

spacecraft 12:15 PM  

@Mohair Sam: For me James Mason will always be VanDam, the bad guy of "North by Northwest." A close second would be the bigtime, dirty-playing defense lawyer of "The Verdict."

On to today's offering. Who knew the past tense of "input" was "input?" Same with the plural of "rendezvous." Both of these slowed me up, because ENTER was two spaces short; TRYST one. At one point I thought both of these entries must be some other word.

My DNA STRANDS were STRiNgS at first, and though I didn't have OFL's parsing problem with SEE( )RED, I did have SEEthe in there.

I enjoyed it. Fun with "OR"s. My favorite themer was the shortest, DOWNEDHOG. I had forgotten the Pointer hit "He's So Shy," so thanks for that.

I'm an AGREER about TABORET, which I looked up in my Scrabble dictionary (after solving) to find only "a small drum." So the chair thing had me worried I might've gone wrong elsewhere in that section, but as I could find no fix, I left it.

If I'd had a champagne breakfast while doing this, I'd have had a FUNWINEDAY.

Trip 9's; couldn't fill.

rain forest 5:14 PM  

I'm with the AGRREERS who had lotsa fun with this one. I knew all the songs, and they were spoonerized wackily indeed. I didn't pick up on the non-question, because the intent was clear, but I guess the clue could have said, "Traffic cop's answer when asked to describe his job". Just addressing a nit picked by OFL.

Pretty smooth throughout, except for the SW, because I knew neither singer in there, and spent too much time figuring out that *rendezvous* was plural.

@Carola and @ Anonymous (11:34 AM)

There's also the line "...whose foot this sooty flipper pits"

6's full of 9's

Dirigonzo 5:23 PM  

I'm old and an oldies fan so the Spoonerized song titles were right in my wheelhouse.

SHOULDA also appeared in the Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo today, with the exact same clue.

Yen 10:43 PM  

I normally love the Sunday puzzle, but I'm 25 years old and my parents didn't listen to oldies American music growing up (more of a Vietnamese folk song people), so I knew zero of the songs. The title of the crossword told me immediately that it'd be spoonerisms, but that's not helpful if you don't know songs from 1956 to spoonerize. Sad that this puzzle feels so inaccessible to me.

saintpeg 5:43 PM  

I'm deeply sad that no one has yet mentioned the only "She's So High" that matters: Blur's.


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