Outfielder Hunter with nine gold gloves / WED 1-8-14 / Manse occupant / Gee I think you're swell girl of 1960s song / She in Salerno / Stanford Binet figs

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Constructor: Sam Ezersky and Victor Fleming

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Spongebob Squarepants — last words (or word parts) of theme answers are SPONGE, BOB, SQUARE and PANTS, respectively. Central answer reveals his channel, NICKELODEON (36A: Channel for the character named by the ends of 18-, 24-, 52- and 59-Across)

Theme answers:
  • BATH SPONGE (18A: Tub accessory)
  • THINGAMABOB (24A: Doohickey)
  • TIMES SQUARE (52A: New Year's Eve hot spot)
  • "BOSSYPANTS" (59A: 2011 Tina Fey autobiography)
Word of the Day: ILO (33D: U.N. workers' agcy.) —
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards and decent work for all. 185 of the 193 UN member states are members of the ILO.
In 1969, the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving peace among classes, pursuing justice for workers, and providing technical assistance to developing nations.
The ILO registers complaints against entities that are violating international rules; however, it does not impose sanctions on governments. (wikipedia)
• • •

THE PUZZLE: This should've been much more amusing than it was. The one thing I do like, theme-wise, is that the toon's name is broken into four discrete syllables, so when I read them, I am reminded of the way his name is chanted in the opening theme. Sponge! Bob! Square! Pants!

Beyond that, it's simply a "final words make a phrase" puzzle with a couple pretty good theme answers and a lot of unremarkable fill. Of course the fill looks Amazing compared to what we had yesterday, but that's a pretty low bar. What's more troublesome here is actually not fill quality, but clue lacklusterness. There are no interesting clues. My constructor friend said this about a puzzle from earlier this week as well. Just very unimaginative and blah. Or else just awkward—[Puck handler's surface]? Why go with such out-of-the-language phrasing? It's no less transparent, and no more interesting, than the more economical and mellifluous [Skater's surface]. But the main issue is dullness. Just read down the list of clues. 1-Across (Message indicating "adult beverages not supplied") is positively scintillating compared to most of the rest.

Didn't have much trouble. Only slow-ups happened at DBLS (39D: Some substantial hits: Abbr.), where I had RBIS and thus had trouble initially getting into the SE; and then again at NEW ISSUE (?), where I had NEW STOCK (36D: Initial public offering). Is "new issue" a tight phrase? I'll defer to someone w/ greater expertise in that area. Anyway, none of this provided too much of a problem. Couldn't spell ELENORE, but that's no surprise. TORII is not great fill, but I do like that someone finally bothered to give it the baseball clue it deserves (20A: Outfielder Hunter with nine gold gloves). So much better than the old [Shinto shrine gateway] clue. Speaking of baseball—only three months til opening day! I'm already semi-giddy w/ anticipation.

Stay warm!
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:07 AM  

    Very easy Wed. for me.  Caught the theme quickly and filled in the theme ends.  Only iffy thing was TORII (a WOE) but I was sure of IGA.  

    I thought the theme was zippy (hi @Questina) plus NUT JOB, RAN OUT ON, BYOB, ROVE (as clued), OVER IT, BLINK AT, ELENORE (a fine Turtles tune from the '60s that was a sort of inverse redo/parody of "Happy Together")...your mileage may vary.

    So, lots to like and not a lot of clunky stuff.  Nice one guys!

    Steve J 12:10 AM  

    I don't know if it's just me or if the puzzle was way too easy for a Wednesday, but I finished this faster than my average *Monday* time. NW came together instantly, and I had BATH SPONGE and THINGAMABOB by the time I got to 36A. Which means that filled in instantly, as well as the second halves of the remaining two themers.

    I've not once seen the show, but Spongebob Squarepants seems to be pretty much ubiquitous. It's a cute enough theme, but it's on the wrong day. While I'm sure there are some people out there who won't be familiar with the show/character, it seems like that would be pretty broadly know so as to be quickly gettable.

    Fill was definitely an upgrade from yesterday, and I especially liked BOSSY PANTS, NUTJOB, KARATE, IRKSOME and one of my favorite words, AMOK. Agreed that the cluing lacked flair. But it was a reasonably fun - if overly quick - puzzle.

    Garth 12:15 AM  

    I forget where I heard it, but in response to someone saying "Baseball is boring," someone else responded, "It's only boring to people with dull minds." Now I'm certainly not saying that @Rex has a dull mind--he proves otherwise with his remarkable record of writing a high quality blog day in and day out. But as someone who gets great pleasure out of solving crossword puzzles, I would never describe them as being dull. Yes, I understand that some fill could be better; some themes are better executed than others; some skew towards a more contemporary or more traditional style, etc. But the act of solving is something that I love and never find dull.

    Ellen S 12:20 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Ellen S 12:23 AM  

    ER... I somewhat enjoyed yesterday. Today I felt like I had fallen into a TV Guide puzzle or somethin'. At least there are a bunch of U's for U-know-who, and no EELS or ERNS but ... I dunno. Maybe just found it depressing to see SpongeBob SquarePants in the same puzzle as the ILO.

    "Adult content not supplied." And I say this as one who just started watching Jerry Seinfeld's online show, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee", and I enjoy that! As an adult time-waster. And I never much liked "Seinfeld", but what I'm saying, I don't think I'm setting the bar too high.

    Ellen S 12:25 AM  

    okay, I give up. I can't get the link right. it's ComediansInCarsGettingCoffee.com. I'm going to retire from all things technological and drink myself into a stupor with vino that I have supplied.

    okanaganer 12:25 AM  

    The middle of the puzzle should be like the middle of your body...full of vital stuff. Except here where we have at ground zero: MOTET / OTIC / ILO. ILO is Rex's word of the day?..really?
    54D: Yawn inducer...kinda says it.

    The corners are better, except for OTOE. OTOE and OTIC together again?

    TORII: "noun, plural to·ri·i...(in Japan) a form of decorative gateway or portal" would have been...funner...kind of a big visual Pi.

    August West 12:50 AM  

    Easy. Workmanlike. Bland. Skewed a li'l pop culture heavy.

    Poor OISK. I fear the golden sombrero.

    Unknown 12:53 AM  

    Smooth solve with only a couple of bumps. I spelled TORIe wrong and forgot to check the crosses. On review, ugh, of course I know how to spell his name, and Jhonny Peralta's, too. And Andruw Jones. Hey, I see a theme emerging: "Sic-th Sense"

    Also pooched it at ETuIL/RuNOUTON. Forgot to check the tense. Certainly faster than a typical Wednesday for me, and google less, to boot.

    Regarding the coming season: pitchers-n-catchers report 2 weeks after the Super Bowl, so we won't have to wait a whole 3 months, even.

    Amok Combs Motets 1:14 AM  

    What a fun theme!!!!
    Loved it!!!!
    and as @Rex said... SPONGE! BOB! SQUARE! PANTS!!!
    Plus NICKELODEON, what a fabulous word...tho I would have defined it by it's actual old-fashioned meaning. Why not?

    Smooth smooth smooth...

    My only hiccups were misspelling NICKleODEON
    (IEOEO), guessing on TORII/IGA after running the alphabet and IGA rang the dimmest of bells...I don't think they have them out West...
    and starting out with THINGAMAjig.

    and I love that ELENORE song!

    Just getting A TO B now.

    Wildly amused by this puzzle...
    And I think defining Morticia by her relationship to Fester was an example of nice cluing throughout.

    And Loved BOSSYPANTS, laughed outloud every single page!!! Can't wait for Tina Fey to co-host Golden Globes again...should be a scream.

    You'd really have to stretch to find something wrong with this puzzle! LIMP it ain't!

    Fun theme, fun fill, losts of Ks, Q, J.
    Lots of joy to be found here...

    Elle54 1:14 AM  

    I loved it, not only because of the hat tip to Sponge Bob, the song embedded into every parent's mind, only to be sung at future nursing home sing a longs , but also because of ELENORE. I agree with Rex... It should be spelled Eleanor! (my name !)

    Questinia 1:19 AM  

    Why engage in this charade? This was, as @ Ellen S plainly states, a TV Guide puzzle from the early aughts.

    My WOE was @ jae's WOE -TORII, but with with more uncertainty as I thought there might be an IGA variant, say aGA, in another part of the country.

    Please, @ Ellen S, whereas I can understand ern, don't increase your perimeter of disgust to include neither adit nor etui.

    @ Evan. You made a comment a while back regarding mouse species as an unwelcome clue for a puzzle. But I'm glad you were both insulted and amused by the misinterpretation. That's range! I recently fell for @ Alias Z's story on how Aaron Copland got his name from cropland.

    I agree with @ Steve J's take, this should have taken the place of La Burnikel on Monday.

    But maybe Monday is the new Wednesday.

    Benko 1:22 AM  

    I find baseball to be incredibly boring (guess I have a dull mind @garth) and don't live in a place with IGA. So that crossing was a series of random guesses for me. Ah well. Now I know.

    chefwen 1:59 AM  

    I'm with @Ellen S with this one, I much preferred yesterdays puzzle. If I never see Sponge Bob Square Pants again, it'll be too soon. Only ?mark was TORRII, but I took a chance that it might be right and TA DA, instincts paid off. Thought Mr. Sports Authority would help me with that one, but he drew a blank.

    Looking forward to a superb rebus tomorrow.

    Andrew 3:09 AM  

    I liked it. Had THINGAMAJIG before realizing it THINGAMABOB, otherwise, no real hold ups.

    Not sure why A TO B was clued as "Tiny bit of progress." To me, "a to b" can mean from the living room to the kitchen, or New York to LA. A more accurate (and fun) clue might be: "Place a cheap car is expected to get you, minimally."

    And, a LUAU sounds like a nice break from PolarVortex2014! Stay warm.

    Unknown 4:56 AM  

    New issue is standard terminology., but I've never heard of a MOTET in my life.

    Anonymous 5:48 AM  

    NEW ISSUE is definitely a tight phrase in the financial industry.

    GILL I. 6:35 AM  

    Cute enough...Maybe too cute for a Wed..?
    I was about to ask what ATOB meant and had fancY PANTS instead of BOSSY despite having read her book. Next time please leave out the YO in TE AMO.
    Well, I did like the clue Part makers for COMB. Fun enough words but I agree this felt more Mondayish.

    Joe The Juggler 6:38 AM  

    It felt very easy to me too.

    I don't normally like puzzles with so many little multi-word answers: OVER IT, RAN OUT ON, SIGN FOR, BLINK AT, NEW ISSUE (even the silly Latin YO TE AMO). Once I saw OVER IT and BE MINE, I was on the lookout for them, and it made them much easier to spot, I think.

    Airymom 7:06 AM  

    How I imagine hell: Being stuck in an elevator with these three opening lines playing continuously... "It's nine o'clock on a Saturday, the regular crowd shuffles in", " Her name was Lola, she was a show girl," and "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?"

    Mohair Sam 7:30 AM  

    Is today the 6th or the 13th? Easy Monday puzzle for sure. If The Turtles had been singing about Mrs. Roosevelt we would have had a Wite-Out free puzzle today. We don't time ourselves, but I don't think we've ever finished a puzzle more quickly.

    Didn't know Tina Fey had written a book, but love the title. And it was nice to get a chance to openly root for TORII Hunter, an old favorite on the diamond.

    Loren Muse Smith 7:55 AM  

    "Beyond that, it's simply a "final words make a phrase" puzzle with a couple pretty good theme answers." Aw, c'mon – this was a lot of fun. The reward of SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS carried the whole experience for me, and I never even really watched it. But let's all pause briefly and say a silent "Thank you" to the SPONGE BOB song for replacing Barney's "I love you, you love me. . ."

    Me, too. For "rbis" first.

    @jae – TORII was a WOE for me, too, but I pass a couple of shut down, well, forlorn-looking IGAs on my way to Planet Fitness.

    Liked SPUR and CELT sharing the grid, TEPEES crossing OTOE, and BE MINE crossing YO TE AMO.

    Especially liked PARSE crossing A TOB. What the heck is a TOB? No worries. I actually AM OK.

    IRKSOME is a terrific word, and I'm going to try to use it today. "Hey, Tim – the squeak on this bike is a bit IRKSOME. Got any WD-40?" (Mom – I know it's "Do you have" and I know yesterday it should have been "Big Mama's and Bid Daddy's" – so SUE me!)

    Kind of a third-grade recess vibe going with the BRATTY BOSSY PANTS tagging poor GEENA, with GEENA complaining - "Hey, I'm on BASE!' "ARE NOT," sneers BRATTY BOSSY PANTS.

    @Steve J – I found this one really easy, too, but I can see how a lot of people will find it nice and crunchy.

    @Questinia, @Ellen S, @jae, et al. "Crunchy." Interesting metaphor. Wonder if it works in other languages. I don't know if I've ever known how to say it in French or German, but in Japanese, it's hagotae ga ii – "good tooth action." To say something like 'Kyoo no puzzle wa hagotae ga ii" summons up a funny picture in my head of someone cramming the paper into his mouth and chomping it.

    Reminds me – when I was in Japan, on *several* occasions, people watched me and made one of the following two troubling observations: "You have really strong teeth." And "My, you have a large body!" Where do I even start with either of those? They had me feeling like a strong-toothed, large-bodied Westerner lurching around Ise-shi. How frightening for the kids. YIPE!

    RAN OUT ON. English has this way of using ON to indicate that someone did something that caused you some trouble:

    Hey, you went and changed the key of that MOTET from A to F on me.
    We had planned to Samba together, but they all backed out on us.
    Don't go to sleep on me now!
    I sure hope Ron doesn't cut his hair on her; she's counting on a cool prom pic.
    My son borrowed the car and had turned the bass and volume on me. I jumped through the roof.

    I'll pause so you can all write this down.

    Sam, Judge – I liked this and hereby commission another:

    Oh, and Judge Vic – looking forward to seeing you in the talent show again!

    Nancy in PA 8:02 AM  

    Loved BRATTY and BOSSY and IRKSOME. Recently saw/heard Forty-Part MOTET at the Cloisters--amazing experience! Favorite word(s) today: semi-giddy.

    joho 8:11 AM  

    I loved the whole pirate'y theme going on in the NW corner with BYOB (bottle of rum) crossing YOHOHO made even better while listening to the SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS theme song ... thanks, @Rex! Also pirates are BRATTY and tend to ROVE.

    So, that set the theme for me and made this a most enjoyable solve.

    Thanks, Sam and Victor!

    Time to put on my NOSEBAG ....

    ArtO 8:12 AM  

    Yes, pretty easy for Wednesday. But, MOTET???

    Worth coming here just for Loren muse smith write- up.

    AliasZ 8:18 AM  

    Let's not forget that the theme was conceived by a 16-year-old Mr. Ezersky. Is it a TV Guide level or a NYT level puzzle?

    I agree with @Amuse Celt Mealy. If Will thought NYT solvers were smart enough to figure out what MMXIV stood for, they would have most likely also figured out how NICKELODEON tied the theme together, even if clued as "Early movie theater" or "Coin operated player piano." As it was, too much of a giveaway made it feel more like a TV Guide theme.

    However, the fill is definitely a few steps above. I did not mind the multitude of multi-word phrases since they were common, in the language and unforced, except maybe ARENOT. I don't think I ever said it myself. I usually say ARENT.

    I think the clues were just fine for a Wed. Any more imaginative cluing would have made it a Thu or Fri.

    After yesterday's INSANE asylum, today we have AMOK and NUTJOB. Then BYOB, ATOB, and that SOB THINGAMABOB. Lots of OB's. And SPONGEBOB? Absorbent and yellow and porous is he.

    Glimmerglass 8:23 AM  

    Not much to say about today's puzzle. The theme quickly supplied a lot of (free) letters. A few zippy answers. No WOE for me. I sent Rex 20 bucks. The PayPal button was a good idea.

    Z 8:38 AM  

    We were a Rugrats family, but still managed to see Hasselhoff's star turn in the SPONGE BOB movie. That Rugrats aired for 13 years and SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS is getting close to starting year 14 will, I am certain, be a matter of lengthy discussion amongst cultural historians.

    TORII (and Jhonny if he ever appears in a puzzle) was a gimme here. Speaking of baseball, the Tigers sent out their "buy your pre-season tickets now" email yesterday. I'm ready.

    There was an IGA on the corner of Columbia and 15th in Holland when I grew up. It closed decades ago. There is a bright shiny IGA in St. Jovite, QC, that I drove past last week. I did not realize until then that they still existed.

    Did anyone else fall for the capital trap? I started with lira.

    Beer Rating - If BYOB means ULTRA to you, we should talk. This puzzle gets a Sea Leggz Rye Porter.

    Unknown 8:41 AM  

    Liked: theme, Addams Family clue
    Learned: MOTET

    As @acme suggested, I think clueing NICKELODEON with the original meaning and then leaving us to put the theme together would have been more fun, and still be Wednesday appropriate.

    I loved Tina Fey's BOSSYPANTS, and liked her colleague Rachel Dratch's "A Girl Walks Into A Bar" just as much.

    Bob Kerfuffle 8:47 AM  

    Same two speedbumps as several others: TORII, THINGAMAJIG.

    Also, early on, with the (to me, seemingly extraneous) final letters on TORII and ELENORE, I thought we might be in for some much more subtle wordplay or rebus. Had not developed a plausible theory before I saw the actual theme.

    Anonymous 9:17 AM  

    Blew through this at monday speed!

    chefbea 9:20 AM  

    Got the theme right a way. Very easy puzzle but had the hardest time parsing atob!!!

    Still below freezing here in Wilmington..but it'd suppose to hit 42 this afternoon.

    Milford 9:29 AM  

    Call me immature, but I liked the theme for the exact same reason as @Rex - the shout-out of SPONGE, BOB, SQUARE, PANTS that the kids yell out in the theme song. That was perfect.

    SPONGE BOB seems to be one of those cartoons that other parents like to tell you their kids are forbidden to watch. I'm one of the bad parents (clearly). I'm not sure why, probably just a trendy claim in the never-ending game of "my kids are better than yours". Whatev. It's no worse than anything I watched growing up, including NICKELODEON's "You Can't Do That On Television". Pure gold.

    @Gill I.P. - I thought of you with that emphatic YO TE AMO.

    Liked NUTJOB (I use that term often), and the Ks in IRKSOME and BLINK AT - although I had BLaNK AT first, which also would work. TGFC (Thank god for crosses).

    Liked learning MOTET.

    Kids still home from school today...

    MetaRex 9:38 AM  

    The JIG was up before the BOB for me, too, @Bob.

    For anyone interested, the latest twist in the MRian quest for a metric that would balance gruel against sparkle, applied to today's puzz: PIEDMONTESE v. 3.1.

    Sir Hillary 9:43 AM  

    @LMS - What treasures your posts are!

    I have no issues with this one. SBSP was a staple in my house for many years, so the puzzle fell quickly for me. Preponderance of sports clues also helped (TORII, SKI, PGA, ICE, CELT, DBLS).

    Never heard of MOTET, so had I been the constructor it would have been MOTEL, ILL, LLMS and DSLS. Not suggesting that is any better!

    All in all, to have a tight theme, 7s adjacent to the theme 11s, and corners of 4x6 and 3x7/8? Count me impressed.

    Lewis 10:01 AM  

    I count seven examples of grid gruel -- not bad, not good. I think the lively answers more than balanced that out.

    I never watched Sponge Bob (my kids were reared in the Sesame Street generation), but of course heard of him. The puzzle felt like a Tuesday, including the clues.

    Walking the dog in this freezing weather (NC) has me considering wearing a NOSEBAG. And I like IRKSOME crossing BOSSYPANTS.

    I'm afraid there are fewer U's than yesterday, dayum.

    RnRGhost57 10:07 AM  

    If you BYOB too much, you'll end up in REHAB.

    Easy Wednesday though it did not fail to AMUSE.

    quilter1 10:23 AM  

    Holy mother of pearl! Because of the grands I have watched lots of Sponge Bob. However, although I found the puzzle fairly easy I DNF because of a blind spot: ELENORE. I spelled it the traditional way and so could not see BONN. I was looking for a pre-euro monetary unit. Oh, well.

    PapaLeroux 10:32 AM  

    Had some problems in the NE when I entered parson instead of pastor. And I just now got A to B.


    Coming to you from the suburbs of Detroit, thanks @Rex for the photo of Torii and the Tigers.

    The days are getting longer! Spring is coming!

    michy 10:38 AM  

    So wanted rubberduck for 18A. Now Ernie's Rubber Ducky song from Sesame Street and the theme song from Sponge Bob are the alternating tunes in my head. Someone make them stop!

    Enjoyed the puzzle - nice job guys!

    Anonymous 10:39 AM  

    Just saw Evil Doug's post from 5 weeks ago re: the 3 to 1 SQU kerfuffle. I'm in his camp. Thanks Evil for saying what needed to be said.

    Evan 10:41 AM  


    Still not sure what you're referring to. I usually can remember if I've made a specific kind of complaint, but that one's escaping me.

    Do you mean this comment on a puzzle that clued MUS as [Genus of small rodents]? That's the only comment of mine I can dredge up that had anything to do with mouse species, and I was critical more for the fact that MUS crossed ULALUME. You might be thinking of Rex himself, who served up quite the snark over the clue for MUS in that puzzle.

    oldbizmark 11:02 AM  

    junkety junk junk puzzle. easy despite (or because of?) the poor clues. hated this puzzle. only difficulty was spelling NICKELODEON correctly, which I just had to fix in this post. the constructor of this puzzle should be punished.

    retired_chemist 11:04 AM  

    Medium and enjoyable. Didn't pay attention to the theme, so it was a pleasant surprise when I came here and found out that there was one.

    Don't get the complaints about the fill. It seems pretty good to me. TORII was completely unknown, and IGAs were only vaguely familiar. The ones around here exist in small towns, minimum 30 miles away, according to their store locator. So, a semi-Natick for me. Hand up for wanting TORII to be the traditional Japanese gate. ELENORE was a WTF but crosses were fair.

    Thanks, Messrs. Ezersky and Fleming.

    Questinia 11:10 AM  

    @ Evan. I remember that comment but it wasn't that one. Perhaps I've conflated that comment with another one but I recall thinking " oh, geez, mouse genus is exactly the kind of fill I'd use" ( grace to a father who was teaching me Latin, German, and French at age five). Perhaps you used mouse genus subsequentlyin another comment.
    In any evant, ;), if I constructed a puzzle, it will now contain both MUS and MINSK a la Seinfeld ( hi @ jae). They'll probably cross...
    Unless I use Peromyscus Leucopus, clued as " natural vector for Borrelia burgdorferi" ( mouse which hosts the bacterium that causes Lyme disease). But I'm assuming Will would edit the snot out of it.

    Questinia 11:17 AM  

    @ lms, I think your Japanese is straight out subarashii. Think I'll venture later to the local okonomiyaki vendor on seventh street and get one "just how I like it".

    Evan 11:20 AM  

    Easy for me since I had both NICKELODEON and THINGAMABOB very early and then basically auto-filled in the other themers after that. I thought this puzzle was pretty good -- the theme isn't eye-popping, but BOSSYPANTS is a fun answer and the fill is for the most part very well done. Of course, I knew TORII Hunter and didn't consider how that might be an unfair crossing with IGA. Just goes to show that I need to stay aware of potential Naticks because one of the crossings is in my wheelhouse.

    Too bad that they couldn't do SIDESHOW BOB instead of THINGAMABOB. Nothing wrong with what they chose -- but, well, I'm a sucker for lines like this:

    "You want the truth?! You can't handle the truth! No truth-handler, you. Bah, I deride your truth-handling abilities!"


    Ah, I think I may have found it. Do you mean this one where I listed my personal Fill I Try To Avoid where I listed a water bug genus near the top?

    Questinia 11:20 AM  

    Airymom said: How I imagine hell: Being stuck in an elevator with these three opening lines playing continuously... "It's nine o'clock on a Saturday, the regular crowd shuffles in", " Her name was Lola, she was a show girl," and "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?"

    That would be Sartre's No Exit as directed by Pewee Herman.

    Jisvan 11:29 AM  

    Thought for a moment that the theme would be "Names for items we can't remember the actual name of" with the wonderfully useful thingamabob, so was looking for doohickeys, widgets, and the like. It fell very fast once SBSP became obvious. Played Monday-ish here, but I'm not complaining! Gave me an extra time for other pleasures!

    TORII Spelling? 11:31 AM  

    YO NO TE AMO ESA puzzle.
    PARSing A TOB was IRKSOME.
    I sent Rex $MMIV by snail mail.
    My note was even cutesier.

    Questinia 11:34 AM  

    @ Evan. Yes! I hybridized the comments. I suppose its better to have thought I was comparing you to a mouse than a water bug. Mystery solved!

    Malsdemare 11:38 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Anonymous 11:40 AM  

    I can't think of Spongebob without being reminded of the kerfuffle at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, where a family purchased two plots for their twin daughters and attempted to erect 6 foot Sponge Bob monuments. Spring Grove is on the National Registry, has a REPUTATION to consider. and despite the monuments having being approved in normal channels, removed the monuments almost immediately. No surprise: the family is upset. I kinda wish Spring Grove had been clued somewhere. But that wouldn't have been a Wednesday clue.

    Sandy K 11:56 AM  

    Thanks to my NIECEs, I got SPONGEBOB right off the bat...but not TORRIe.

    BLINKed AT eGA and saw nothing wrong. YIPE! A DNF on Wed?!

    Also had writeovers at THINGAMAgig, A Tad, and rBiS...love ELENORE, but tried to spell it like Eleanor? Rigby. SOB = (

    Rob C 12:32 PM  

    Easy Wed. for me. Fun theme. Picked up on it early. Also started out with THINGAMAjig, but getting the theme easily straightened that out.

    Although it didn't occur to me as I was solving, I get Rex's point about the dull cluing. Not a lot of zip. And only one ? clue. By Wed., I'd expect some interesting, tough clues to start working their way in. I'm sure the straightforward-ness of the clues resulted in most of us finding this easy.

    Does anyone keep stats on ? clues. I recall seeing up to 11 or 12 on a Saturday.

    On the parenting debate, we always let our daughters watch sponge bob, so count my wife and I as bad parents. Over the holidays, I asked a 4 yr old relative of my wife if he liked spongebob (b/c he had just received a spongebob related gift). He said that his mom didn't let him watch it, but his dad did. That started an interesting conversation between his mom and dad.

    Anonymous 12:43 PM  

    Okay fill, but themes like this are rather disappointing. The combinations are near endless. You could literally pick just about any compound word/phrase and make it into a puzzle. The raison d'etre is missing.

    Z 12:52 PM  

    Parents "ban" SpongeBob? How's that working for you? Puritans - Pity them or laugh at them - I can never decide.

    Carola 12:54 PM  

    I thought the puzzle was fun - I don't know the first thing about SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS, but the phrase is funny, NICKELODEON a nifty word, and many of the other entries zippy.

    Off-topic and spoiler alert: Saw "August: Osage County" last night, in which Meryl STREeP plays a kind of BOSSY PANTS NUT JOB - not MEALY-mouthed at all. Her husband RAN OUT ON her, and after he's placed in his TOMB, there's a family dinner at which some members run AMOK and others SOB. Meryl refuses REHAB, while one of her daughters discovers her boyfriend trying to get from A to B with her BRATTY NIECE. Many issues from the past arise and no one can get OVER IT. All very ULTRA! ENNUI never looked so good.

    OISK 1:11 PM  

    @August West - You are right! Three days, three one box DNF! Actually, other than Sunday's easy puzzle, I haven't gotten a puzzle completely right in a week. (Did not get to try last Friday's) Missed a square Thursday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, and today…Never heard of "IGA", Have heard of Torii Hunter, but didn't recall that his name is spelled that way, so I had the logical alternative, Torie. Amazing - this is after four weeks of perfection that even included a David Steinberg! Other than that one natick, I really breezed through this one. Not just because I missed it, though, I think that is a bad cross. _GA, a store I have never seen - do they exist in Brooklyn? - and a very unusual first name. Perhaps I will be able to solve tomorrow's...

    Bird 2:05 PM  

    Fun theme, very easy and not much crud.

    Thanks Sam and Victor

    Happy Humpday!

    LaneB 2:29 PM  

    Only problem came in the NE when I first filled 11 and 12d with RANOffON and SIGNoff , respectively for the correct RANOUTON and SIGNFOR. That made the rest of the fill in the NE quite confusing and that led to my only Google assist, ELENORE [since I'd not known the 1960's song.

    The rest was fun and ujnlike mony days, I did get the theme fairly fast.
    @ Tina
    Thanks for the comment. It was a lovely sojourn. Had I known you, I'm sure you'd have been invited. Can you tell me more about the photo accompanying yesterday's comment?

    foxaroni 2:30 PM  

    I am not a horse owner or rider, so I would appreciate a clarification. I thought a NOSEBAG was for use AWAY from the stable. My mental image is that of a carriage driver and horse taking a lunch break in Central Park--the driver brown-bagging it and the horse nosebagging it.

    It' s 35 in Kansas City right now--woo woo! It was -8 Monday night. Not like the upper Midwest or East, but still pretty cold for us Jayhawks.

    Acme 3:10 PM  

    That "on" discussion is fascinating... Never noticed and would have been impossible to teach in ESL where idioms with "up" are already nigh impossible!

    Two things, why don't YOU make that WHOFRAMEDROGERRABBIT puzz as four 10s are sufficient for a Monday (or used to be!)

    AND you definitely need to reconsider writing a funny novel. You could set it as a big toothed healthy body white gal in Japan.
    As she goes thru her daily life and reminisces about her Southern upbringing vis-a-vis Japanese culture!
    I'd definitely buy it!
    (perhaps Rex could share some of his paypal money to crowdsource your literary endeavors...)

    As for folks who are putting down the theme as being TV Guide-ish...having created 50+ TV Guide puzzles in my sordid past I can vouch they have no themes and themes were at best ignored/discouraged :(

    Plus having a 16 yr old dream up this theme from an iconic show from his childhood should be applauded...it's no worse than had it been a Simpsons puzzle
    (not comparing writing qualities of the two shows, just the theme-worthiness)

    Steve J 3:31 PM  

    @Questinia: "No Exit as directed by Pewee Herman" = near spit-take and my favorite comment/image of the day.

    David IN CA 3:58 PM  

    Naticked with TORII/IGA like others.
    @acme : Appears IGAs do exist in CA, but closest to Bay Area are up in the North Bay - Santa Rosa, Sebastopol.

    I'm probably being dimwitted (more so than usual, that is), but can someone explain the "43" reference in the K. Rove clue?

    Anonymous 4:24 PM  

    Bush 43 refers to George W. Bush, the 43rd Pres.

    sanfranman59 4:30 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

    Wed 8:41, 10:26, 0.83, 11%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Wed 5:50, 6:11, 0.94, 33%, Easy-Medium

    Anonymous forgot to add 4:41 PM  

    As contrasted to George H.W. Bush- referred to as Bush 41.

    mac 5:08 PM  

    Easy Wednesday, but a DNF because of IGA/Torii. I don't read about baseball, I rarely watch baseball, I just hear it in the background. No spelling included.

    I've seen pictures of sponge Bob so I picked up on the theme, but not before also trying to put in a rubber duck.

    @Loren: when I visited my mother-in-law's home village in Germany (which she had not seen herself in 40 years) one of the first remarks by her relatives was: She has such nice teeth!

    It really is staying light longer!

    chefwen 7:28 PM  

    @mac - How's the foot doing, healing quickly I hope.

    mac 8:01 PM  

    @chefwen: so far so good, I'm enjoying the time off, reading a lot.

    Rob Tunis 9:03 PM  

    I thought it was a good puzzle--appropriate for a Wednesday. Given that one of the "creators" is Victor Fleming, they should have had a Wizard of Oz theme.
    Rob T (Scarsdale, NY)

    sanfranman59 12:07 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 6:54, 6:22, 1.08, 81%, Challenging
    Tue 8:02, 8:12, 0.98, 44%, Medium
    Wed 8:49, 10:26, 0.85, 13%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:02, 3:58, 1.02, 55%, Medium
    Tue 5:03, 5:09, 0.98, 41%, Medium
    Wed 5:20, 6:11, 0.86, 12%, Easy

    spacecraft 12:05 PM  

    As a sitting grandpa, I have "absorbed" many SBSP episodes. I always liked Sandy, the curiously displaced squirrel.

    But early on, before I latched onto the theme, my doohickey was a THINGAMAjig, even though it made a 5-letter entry end in J. Was thinking, do we have a Nicky Minaj shoutout here? But no. So, w/o.

    Lots of multi-word entries today. Stand-alones like OVERIT, BEMINE and the fabulous NUTJOB are fine; the partials, not so much. While I like the side-by-side RANOUTON and SIGNFOR, familiar in-the-language phrases, they're still partials. Like BLINKAT, it's a defect compareed to the ideal, but not a flaggable offense. Much closer comes ARENOT, which trashes an otherwise great corner.

    I agree that some of the cluing could have stood to be a bit less pedestrian, and that YOTEAMO is, well, unfortunate. But I couldn't match Bob's yellowness with my penalty flag today. If nothing else, the fantastic GEENA gives this one an automatic pass.

    [Serendipity aside: today's paper has a story on the World Archery Festival's recent shoot; I'm sure Ms. Davis was on hand, or wanted to be.]

    Appropriate to today's theme, I have a boat (!) of 5's over 8's.

    Waxy in Montreal 1:06 PM  

    Pretty bland and not much of a Wednesday challenge except for the MOTET/OTIC crossing (really?).

    @space, I had THINGAMAJIG as well. Maybe a generational thing shared by grandpas?

    Not sure I agree with the OGLE clue - minimum twice-over, IMHO.

    DMG 1:31 PM  

    Joined those who couldn't master the baseball/grocery cross, but other than that, smooth sailing, tho my insecure Priest decided to become a PArsOn before settling in as a PASTOR. Not much more to say other than I once tried watching Sponge Bob and found it pointless. Maybe I just didn't stay with it long enough?

    Three 8's, two 2's. Sorry @spacecraft.

    Solving in Seattle 2:16 PM  

    The cluing was waaaaaayyyyy too easy. Kinda took the fun out of the solve when I was able to throw down -SPONGE, NICKELODEON, -SQUARE and -PANTS off the BOB in THINGAMABOB. I agree with @ACMe that 36A maybe should have been clued to its original definition.

    Sam and Vic, good clean puz with some nice phrases.

    @Waxy, OGLE, to me, is more than checking out twice, it's "can't take one's eyes off.

    Capcha: (still won't let me sit down at the table.) Vigrespo. Bulgarian e.d. brand.

    Waxy in Montreal 2:34 PM  

    @SiS, at least we agree an ogle's not just a once-over! I used "minimum twice-over" so as not to be overly critical of the constructors but your "can't take one's eyes off" works well for me too.

    5 nines and a pair of eights. Unbeatable...

    Dirigonzo 2:37 PM  

    As usual I finished with OWS (nope, not that one) but I'll get OVERIT.

    I finally drew a straight but it's not good enough today - unless, of course, you'll all concede that it's a straight flush.

    Ginger 6:06 PM  

    What a romp! A fun solve.

    IGA cleaned up TORIe, and jig to BOB gave pause. I always want to misspell NeiCE.

    At XWord Info, Sam mentioned that this was his first acceptance and that he was 16 at the time. Also, he has several more in the pipeline. Looking forward to them!

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