Edomite patriarch / THU 10-16-14 / Pacific Surfliner operator / Trevelyan Agent 006 in GoldenEye / Reville Hitchcock's wife collaborator / Inspiration for Johann Strauss II / Computer language named for Lord Byron's daughter / Penelope's pursuer / Goal of some industry lobbyists

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Constructor: John Farmer

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: REPEAT (69A: What three-letter words do in five answers in this puzzle) —

Theme answers:
  • WHOOPIE [PIE]S (18A: Cream-filled chocolate treats)
  • SCARLET [LET]TER (19A: Mark of dishonor)
  • PERCY BYSSHE [SHE]LLEY (39A: "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" poet)
  • LANDON [DON]OVAN (57A: All-time scoring leader for the U.S. men's soccer team)
  • PAPAL [PAL]ACE (62A: Official residence)
Word of the Day: LUNA (3D: "Two-horned queen not the stars," per Horace) —
In ancient Roman religion and mythLuna is the divine embodiment of the Moon (Latin luna; cf. English "lunar"). She is often presented as the female complement of the Sun (Sol) conceived of as a god. Luna is also sometimes represented as an aspect of the Roman triple goddess (diva triformis), along with Proserpina and HecateLuna is not always a distinct goddess, but sometimes rather an epithet that specializes a goddess, since both Dianaand Juno are identified as moon goddesses.
In Roman art, Luna's attributes are the crescent moon and the two-yoke chariot (biga). In the Carmen Saeculare, performed in 17 BC, Horaceinvokes her as the "two-horned queen of the stars" (siderum regina bicornis), bidding her to listen to the girls singing as Apollo listens to the boys.
Varro categorized Luna and Sol among the visible gods, as distinguished from invisible gods such as Neptune, and deified mortals such as Hercules. She was one of the deities Macrobius proposed as the secret tutelary of Rome. In Imperial cult, Sol and Luna can represent the extent of Roman rule over the world, with the aim of guaranteeing peace.
Luna's Greek counterpart was Selene. In Roman art and literature, myths of Selene are adapted under the name of Luna. The myth of Endymion, for instance, was a popular subject for Roman wall painting. (wikipedia)
• • •

The core idea has some potential, but the grid ends up with gibberish in it, and the simple fact of a repeated letter string really isn't that interesting, from a solver-enjoyment point of view. What really kills this puzzle, however, is the lame revealer. REPEAT is far too generic—totally anticlimactic. A puzzle like this really *needs* the final punch of a revealer to keep it from being merely a structural exercise. This puzzle needed a CHUCK BERRY (see yesterday's puzzle), and all it got was a REPEAT—the revealer equivalent of a sad trombone sound, or a "thud." The theme has a couple things going for it. The repeated letter strings are in face "words" in their own right, as the revealer clue says, though PIE is a bit of a fail since PIE is a part of the answer WHOOPIE [PIE]S, whereas none of the other three-letter "words" are actually parts of their answers (i.e. LET, SHE, DON, and PAL have no etymological relation to the answers they're found inside). Also, the three-letter REPEAT words all come at the beginnings of words … though where else would they come, now that I think of it? Three letters end one word and begin the next. That's the idea. The more I write about the theme, the less impressed I am, so I'll stop now.

The cultural center of gravity on this one is set back a few decades. It's pretty old school in its frame of reference, ZAC Efron notwithstanding. All this means is that I got slowed down by a slew of proper nouns that just weren't in my wheelhouse. SALEM and ALEC, primarily, but also REESE (whom I know, though not by number) and ALMA (whom I know vaguely, but whom I couldn't see because I had written in AS ONE for 5D: Collectively (IN ALL). Long Downs are very nice, most of the rest of the fill is just OK, DEREG is terrible. All IN ALL, an entirely adequate Thursday that just wasn't my thing. They can't all be my things. Wait, is there a code? … PIELETSHEDONPAL … and that anagrams to … aw, I give up.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Moly Shu 12:16 AM  

Well, agree with @Rex today. LANDON DONOVAN and SCARLET LETTER are good. PAPAL PALACE is ok, but never heard of the other two. Thankfully crosses bailed me out. Couldn't imagine the CYBYSSH string was correct, but everything else fit. Liked TRIPLEPLAY and LOYOLA, and of course I go MENTAL over PRIMERIB (lately though, I have to have the horseradish, can't just eat it plain). Not a bad puzzle, but don't think it measures up to the previous 3. Here's hoping we bat .800 for the weekdays, with tomorrows offering.

wreck 12:21 AM  

Glad I'm not the only one who struggled with PERCYBYSSHELLEY. The WHOOPPIES thing stunted me for awhile as well. Other than those, it was fairly easy.

jae 12:39 AM  

Medium-tough for me.  BUckUP before BUOY UP kept LOYOLA obscure for a while.  Plus not knowing LANDON DONOVAN made the SE an object of staring.  I changed mOLE to VOLE only because DONOVAN seemed more plausible. 

Clever, tricky, and pretty smooth, liked it more than Rex did. 

Walter Isaacson was on Colbert recently with a new book "The Innovators".  ADA Lovelace was one of the four ground breakers featured.

Whirred Whacks 12:40 AM  

I liked the repeating concept (certainly more than yesterday's Berry-less answers).

This puzzle had one of my favorite and one of my least people in it.

For the past decade, I've greatly enjoyed watching LANDON DONOVAN play. Who can forget his game winner against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup? Last Friday (Oct 10, 2014) Donovan played his last match for team USA.

I find Bill NYE to be an incredibly annoying and pompous individual. The less I see of him, the better.

Unknown 1:08 AM  

Medium-difficult, but a clean solve in 80 mins, so I'm not complaining. buck for STAG slowed me down. My incidental and none-too-intimate knowledge of romantic poets convolved with sentimental notions of their poetry gave me the MESSY memory PERCY Blythe SHELLEY, which kept me guessing at the theme until I solved the revealer by crosses. ALEC was Anna and LUNA was LUck, which drove me bonkers, but not MENTAL, until the 70th minute. [Mark of dishonor] had to be a name like Mark Felt, but, you know, longer, and actually dishonorable. ESAU, LANDONOVAN, PAPALACE were slow susses.

DEREG/EVE was dastardly, and the last clues I filled. Fall Guy only means Lee Majors to me, and his partner was Farrah Fawcett, and that bleaches my mind like so much peroxide. I tried to make DcREG work for a while. You know, lobbyists make more money off regulation than deregulation. Oh, yeah.

Anoa Bob 2:03 AM  

Didn't know "Cream-filled chocolate treats" or the soccer dude, so a DNF for me. There was still enough good stuff to make it an enjoyable solve.

Suspected some Thursday shenanigans at 19A. SCARLET LETTER was my first guess for that slot and it wouldn't fit. Then the gorgeous central grid spanner put me onto the trick. Thank you Mr. Burkett, Eng Lit, Martin J.C., Pulaski, TN, 1963, for introducing us to PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY. A great poet with the crossword-craziest middle name I can imagine. Pretty gutsy, methinks, to try and work that one in as a themer in your grid.

I wonder if REPEAT as the reveal was an add-on, thinking that without it, the theme difficulty would be more FriSatish. Maybe another case where less would've been more.

There were a few morsels here and there to quicken a word-nerd's pulse, CORNUCOPIA being my favorite.

chefwen 2:34 AM  

Got the theme pretty early with SCARletTER, but PERCY BYSSHE SHELLY and LANdonOVAN were unknown and needed a little outside help, so a big fat DNF for me too. Papal Palace and Whoopie pies, not a problem. So, a fun puzzle, a little tainted for me due to unknowns, let's hope I retain my newfound knowledge, probably not. Oh well, on to the weekend.

Conrad 5:08 AM  

When I read "Mark of dishonor" I thought "Dang! SCARLETletTER won't fit." I got the theme right away from that and WHOOPIES. I was breezing through at an easy-medium clip until the SE. I had to Google for LOYOLA because 47D wasn't BUck UP (hi, @jae) and 53D wasn't LEASE. I would have preferred "overlap" as the revealer rather than "REPEAT" but I guess geometry intervened.

LHS 888 5:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
LHS 888 5:28 AM  

Sounds like @Chefwen & I had a similar experience. I tentatively got the theme at WHOOPIES and confirmed with SCARLETTER. PAPALACE was no problem. Had BYSSHELLEY, but had to google for PERCY (evidently my education has some major holes in it that I never learned SHELLEY's full name. Shame on me.) Only other google was LANDONOVAN. With those 2 names I was able to complete the puzzle in 71 min., although it was an official DNF.

asone > INALL (Hi @Rex!)
queen > ALUMNA
beat > LICK
ozzie > ZAPPA
BUckUP > BUOYUP (not alone in this one I see)

Had the hardest time seeing IDEA from the clue.
NEBS was a Natick to me, ungettable without the LANDONOVAN Google. Although, looking at the completed grid I should have been able to infer the N.
Didn't know REESE, but gettable from crosses.
Really liked the clue for AWOL.
Small aha moment for LAPD
Learned that the cat PEPE LePew chased around was named Penelope.
Favorite word was CORNUCOPIA (Hi @Anoa Bob!)

Lots to like about this puzzle, proper names notwithstanding. Thanks JF / WS!

Danp 6:11 AM  

I got Percy Shelly, but BYSHEE was so ungettable. I couldn't even imagine a name that started with RCY or ended with SHE. And for some reason, I couldn't see FIN and ABE together.

I enjoyed the puzzle. Like @Anoa Bob, I wondered if John Farmer thought a revealer was unneeded, but Will disagreed. I imagine it is tough to throw one in as an afterthought.

GILL I. 7:36 AM  

I started out enjoying the upstairs SCARLETTER section but then the dreaded unknown names started to give me MENTAL WHOOPIES..
I got PEPE whose real name is Jose and the guy who leaves his moniker in the snow is now named MAPPI. ZAC and ADA didn't have a chance.
Yay me because I did know DONOVAN but then we watch lots of soccer.
Boo me because I didn't know SHELLEY's full name because poetry bores me to tears.
I give this a big thumbs up for a clever idea but say FAH on the names.

Dorothy Biggs 8:04 AM  

I'm sure the constructor was very proud of the PERCYBYSSHELLEY answer, but probably in the same way as winning in solitaire. It may be a personal triumph, but it doesn't translate to external accolades. Kudos to John Farmer for getting that thing in there...but it is absolutely lost on me. It's far more complicated than the other answers so it kinda sticks out like a sore thumb, and without the support of like-answers elsewhere, it just kinda sits there wanting to be admired...all dressed up and no where to go.

I've taken the hovercraft from Calais to Dover...I knew it was a quick trip but I don't remember seeing the cliffs from France. But no worries, I got Calais right off....what else could it be?

PAPALACE reminds me of the band from the 70s that gave us The NIght Chicago Died. Thought sure Rex would include a YouTube link to it.

@Whirred Whacks: As for not liking Nye, I guess you can't like everyone, nor can you be universally liked. Maybe he wouldn't like you either? Either way, he probably doesn't care all that much since his real attention is on spreading science into schools and helping it become more accessible...not so much trying to be liked by everyone.

Ah well, on to Friday.

joho 8:24 AM  

This is a case where the reveal really helped me figure out the REPEAT trick. At first I was trying to squeeze LET into a square. WHOOPIES confused me because I thought it was the whole answer, a shortening of WHOOPIE PIES (after I threw out moOnPIES, which fit.) So REPEAT LET me see the doubling of PIE, LET, SHE, DON and PAL. Nice variation of a rebus! A little double talk on a Thursday for a change!

PERCYBYSSHESHELLEY across the middle is a beautiful thing.

Thanks, John Farmer, I enjoyed your twist on the expected rebus!

AliasZ 8:31 AM  

This was a fun puzzle from Farmer John. The theme seems simple at first, but the "end with/start with" concept is not as easy as it appears at first, especially if one needs to select examples which are meaningful and interesting phrases. Oh, I could come up with a dozen entries from today's puzzle the first three or last three letters of which can become the end or start of other words, but the result is gibberish, unlike PERCYBYSSHELLEY.

Actually a few could work both ways:


What would have made this one more interesting? Two-letter rebuses in the center of each theme entry, through which the down crosses in fact needed those two letters to make a word, something like: PA[PP][AA][LL]ACE crossing FRA[PP]E, S[AA]R and A[LL]IN. In this case, the entire phrase of PAPAL PALACE would have been correctly spelled out and @Rex couldn't complain about the gibberish. Finally, the reveal could have been DOUBLE PLAY instead of [yawn] REPEAT.

Isn't it great to just sit back and criticize other people's hard work? This is what makes life worth living.

ALMA and DANUBE deserve more attention, but time is running short. Maybe later.

John V 8:36 AM  

SE did me in. Hand up for not knowing soccer guy.

Charles Flaster 8:37 AM  

Medium in 24 minutes but at least 10 were spent trying to figure what goes between PERCY and SHELLEY. Stayed with BYS but only from the easier crosses. Missed an ABE answer a while back so I was happy to see it .
Landon Donovan is only one of four soccer players I know.
RAMBLERS have been known to me since1963 when I saw them upset Cincinatti in an NCAA basketball final.Game was beyond intense.
REESE was a gimme from Bklyn days.
Lucky to know the proper names.
Did not think REPEAT was necessary.
Liked clues for AWOL and STAG.
Thanks JF.

SenorLynn 8:39 AM  

Had NiBS for birds' beaks, which made PAPALACi look all right.
moonPIES went right in, but kept me away from the theme for a while.
Some names/titles I didn't know, but what else could they be? Author=ECO, etc.
Still, 30 min, & admiration for a nice theme.

dk 8:41 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 moons)

The WHOOPIE PIE fill (made with Creme of Marshmallow at times) brought me back to the sunny slope of memory. Maine state treat and frequent summer fare for the young dk. I have tried to recreate these as an adult and most often fail. Will try again this Thanksgiving.

Gibberish as Rex penned sums up this puzzle. There is nothing to really complain about (insert heavy sigh about here), the trick works and the fill is okay. It just does not come together for me. I am glad others found it fun.

Unknown 8:42 AM  

Had BYSHELLY but couldn't figure out how to get Percy in there. LANDON donOVAN gave it away, though. Had the 'Aha!' Moment and das war das. Medium is a fair rating. The theme didn't really do much for me,. That being said, when I finally got the theme I thought it was pretty clever to notice the doubling-up of the words. Still, I agree with Rex that a more dramatic revealer would have helped.

A fun Thursday.

Z 8:44 AM  

An Ultimate rally killer is a "Callahan," which would have been very timely as today is the beginning of the USA Ultimate National Championship. Here's rooting for Chicago's Machine to pull a mild upset and take it all in Men's. I'm also rooting for Nemesis out of Chicago in Women's - but that would be a huge upset, sort like the Royals winning the World Series without losing a single playoff game.

PERCY BY(SHE)LLEY revealed the theme. I agree with @Anoa Bob - omitting REPEAT would have improved the puzzle. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the solve.

jberg 8:45 AM  

Thursday morning reading: Good piece on the #ebola panic (scroll down past the fund pitch).

Leapfinger 8:49 AM  

This PIEce of Belles LETtres went well, so this solver, SHE DON't PALE.

Caught up with the themery at SCAR/2xLET/TER, and did fine till the last. I know LANDO Calrissian, but not LANDO N. DONOVAN, so I needed to cross him in. Like @jae and others, this dodo had to redo the starting rodent.

Farmer John is a lurker and occasional commentor on WP (perhaps on RexWorld also), where his comments are as good as his constructions. For me, this sprightly Thursday turned into the gift that keeps on giving.

Some other themables:
A DODO: As noted above, me with the vole/MOLE
AD ADULTS: Cat of Masmen
REP REPEAT: Retuurn to acting
PRIM PRIMERIB: Hester has a roast
LOYOYOYLA: Catholic institution initiates Hebraic Studies program

Parseable entries and rows:
MEN TAL, women short?
SCAR LETTER APSE: Gang member with shiv and cellphone
WHO OPIES? Ron Howard used to
U TEN, YE BYES: Old enough to treat the playgroup at the candy store
CALA IS NUDE and PAPA LACE: let your imagination run riot

Both parseable AND themable:
DAN, U BE STAG AGAPE: Poor Daniel couldn't get a date for the prom
ALUM NANA EPIC; PIC URES -- This Grandma's 50th college reunion is taking place up in Montreal even as she types. Had to make some tough choices and couldn't go, helas.

Farmer John, thanks for ADA Lovelace, and for ALMA Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel [... Klimt Burkhard von Zeminsky Kokoschka ...]. Had a great time.

Nancy 8:57 AM  

Thought I had a solve, but came here and found out that mOLE should have been VOLE. (Ah, yes, that famous soccer player LANDON DONOMAN). This is why I hate puzzles with proper names.
Was frustrated when neither SCARLET A nor SCARLET LETTER fit, but didn't see the gimmick until I came to the SHELLEY answer. Frustrated again, I looked up the spelling of his middle name (bad, Nancy; bad, bad Nancy!) Only then went looking to see if there was a revealer I had missed and there was. I didn't at that point have REPEAT, but I figured out the gimmick at SHELLEY. Even so, I thought chocolate treats were WHOOPIES, not WHOOPIE PIES, but as long as it's filled in correctly, you don't have to know what you're doing, right?
Before my aha moment, I found the puzzle irritating. After my aha moment, I found it brilliant. A good challenge, even though I cheated.
P.S. I say I never Google and I didn't Google. I have many poetry books.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Puzzle was ok, but whatever happened to rebus Thursdays?

Mohair Sam 9:22 AM  

Another great puzzled this week, theme was fun and new, fill was excellent. Will is on a run And thank you John Farmer.

DONOVAN a gimme here, figured LAN was his nickname. SHELLEY also a gimme off two crosses - figured Mary must have called him BYS for short. So I had two theme answers and no idea of the theme. Wife comes down to breakfast, looks at those two answers plus my oreOPIES (it works off ECO with "frog" at 7d), screams WHOOpiePIES loud enough to wake the neighbors, and we finish this thing in good Thursday time.

Only real hold up was in the NW because I wanted an Asian airline at 4d, and we don't watch soaps. Saw the movie about Hitchcock a couple of months back so ALMA was more or less a gimme and opened things up along with CALAIS. Didn't know the Dover cliffs were visible from France, my NYT Crossword lesson for the day.

I'll bet @OISK got a gimme on REESE just like we did.

Queenoid 9:23 AM  

I liked the puzzle. I was pleased when I figured out Percy Byshe Shelley. I needed the crosses for Landon Donovan.
I thought it wass fun

Mohair Sam 9:28 AM  

Oh yeah. Thought getting SHELLEY and Nathaniel Hawthorne into a crossword theme was a nice change from pop culture icons. Loved the word EPICURES, and agree with @Rex that the long downs were very good (how 'bout that CORNUCOPIA)

Leapfinger 9:29 AM  

OY. AD ADULTS was supposed to be 'Cast of Madmen'. Subpar proofreading today.

@LHS888, Iwas going to tell you PEPE LePew wasn't a cat, till I got the parsing right.

@NCA Prez, I liked PERCYBYSSHELLEY ATON, though I often want to turn BYSSHE into Bishopric. Was your HOVERCRAFT full of EELS??

@Alias, headslap! I was going to mention Duna. Forgot.
Will shortly go out on a limb, predicting, if there's a musical link, it will be to Wagner's PERCival.
Your examples today are worthy of Asimov's "I'm in Marsport Without Hilda". At least.

chefbea 9:43 AM  

Too tough for me. Didn't know the soccer guy. What is WMD?? Wanted oreos to fit at 18 across...thought maybe all the O's go in one square. Oh well.

Whirred Whacks 9:46 AM  

@NCA President
The entertainer Bill NYE is "likable enough" for his work in stimulating science in schools.

For the past half decade or so, Nye has been a champion of promoting "Global Warming." That's fine, other people have done the same. When Nye does it, he does it stridently and talks about it being "settled science." There aren't many real scientists who are quite so dogmatic on what has become a quite-politicized subject (Nye has a BS in mechanical engineering from Cornell). Indeed, a number of the models in the "Climate Change" paradigm are coming into question -- which I think is a healthy thing (and something that a science educator would encourage).

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

Having just begun reading The Innovators, ADA and PERCYBYSSHELLEY blared right out at me. And "42" is a pretty recent movie; what lobbyist doesn't want to dereg something? In all, this was okay.

he's at it again 9:54 AM  

The usual. Good puzzle, rex being a dick. Repeat.

Bill from FL 10:06 AM  

From Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind":

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened Earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

RooMonster 10:11 AM  

Hey All !
Mustn't be up on poetry, as I had no idea of SHELLEYs middle name! Only got the BYS part from the Downs. Was filling in knowing something was happening, especially after WHOOPIES just didn't sound right. The ole AHA moment hit me as the SCARLETTER part, when I finally succumbed after having S_A_LETTER, said, "Scar Letter?", the AHA.

Was looking at the three letter answers after getting revealer, and trying to figure out which ones had the same letters! 20 threes, so thought there was something there. Apparently the only one who thought that...

Nice puz, was looking for the pangram after ZAPPA and LEX, but not. Missing J and Q.Nice 6's in the corners.

Writeovers: wanted cuckoo for MENTAL, as one for INALL, as others had, doublePLAY at first, but crosses didn't work, and mOLE for VOLE. Spelled LOYOLA LaOLYA at first. Oops!

Come SALEM away with me...

whirred wacks ignores facts 10:17 AM  

Whirred Whacks is an embarrassment. Of course global warming is settled science, just like evolution, gravity, and the the fact that the world is round. WW is today's equivalent of a flat earther (perhaps he is one?). Here's the IPCC report on the subject for anyone who is interested actual facts as opposed to ignorant spouting: http://report.mitigation2014.org/spm/ipcc_wg3_ar5_summary-for-policymakers_approved.pdf
Yes, every reputable scientist agrees that global warming is real. Flat earthers do not.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:23 AM  

Solving on paper, finished with NIBS instead of NEBS (as noted by @Senor Lynn).

My two excuses: It's a mistake I've made before (how is that an excuse?) and I carelessly read 62 A as "residences," so PA(PAL)PALACI seemed like a plausible Italian/Latin plural.

Fred Romagnolo 10:29 AM  

Not sure about NYE, if he's that skinny, brunette guy who exaggerates everything to get a (mugged) juvenile laugh, then I'm against him. Caught on immediately with PERCYBYSHELLEY, so everything fell into place; didn't know the soccer player or that Goldberg made pies, but good old acrosses helped out. Agree that any puzzle with Shelley and Hawthorne is O K with me. I even knew ZAPPA! On visibility from Calais - only on clear days, and this is the English Channel we're talking about. One of Pinza's more exciting roles was as the old king in L'Amore dei TRE Re (before South Pacific). Hands up for not knowing Penelope was the cat's name. (How many of you know that Hyacinth is the name of the Hippo in Fantasia?)

George Barany 10:31 AM  

Fun puzzle by @John Farmer with several great finds among the theme entries, although IMHO @Rex is correct about the unnecessary REPEAT reveal. @Will Shortz is on record (repeatedly) as saying that he is quite low on non-rebus Thursdays.

Here is a Tom Lehrer song about a legendary Viennese ALMA; here is waltz by Johann Strauss I; here is the famous Blue DANUBE waltz by his son Johann Strauss II ("The Waltz King"); here is Der Rosenkavalier Waltz by Richard Strauss (no relation); here is (to be continued)

r.alphbunker 10:33 AM  

You could think of this as a rebus puzzle. There are fifteen squares that contain two letters. The letters happen to be the same and are written on top of each other.

BTW, October 14 was Ada Lovelace Day which is billed as an international day celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Fred Romagnolo 10:39 AM  

@Chef Bea: Weapons of Mass Destruction. @Nancy; nothing wrong with using references, that's what they're for - Googling is not the same thing, it's like looking at the answers.

George Barany 10:44 AM  

apologies for the two part post

... here is Franz Lehar's Merry Widow Waltz which was used in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, which finally brings us full circle to ALMA Reville, who wrote the screenplay for Shadow of a Doubt and was played by Helen Mirren in a relatively recent film about the Master of Suspense.

Ludyjynn 10:46 AM  

I liked this one a lot, mainly due to the CORNUCOPIA of lovely clues.

Helen Mirren as ALMA Revillle in "Hitchcock", as usual, was riveting to watch.

I'm working up an appetite re-reading the answers: REESE's pieces, FRAPPE, WHOOPIES, and my favorite local restaurant, The PRIMERIB. LICKing my EPICUREan chops just thinking about the full CUT. Yum.

Always nice to see PEPE LePew, the amorous skunk.

AWOL crossing LAM also tickled me.

INALL, thanks, JF and WS for a solid, easy-med. Thursday.

old timer 10:51 AM  

What? Am I the only solver who thought "TRIPLEPLAY" was brilliant, and in its way a better revealer than "repeat"?

I suspected the trick when Shelley came up. Knew it when Donovan appeared (he and Pele are the only two soccer players I would be able to get with no crosses). The last themer I got was SCARLETTER, because I had no idea about that old soap town, and wanted INSUM instead of INALL.

Then I was told that there were five theme answers. I could only count four. I finally remembered that those whoopies are actually called pies.

Dansah 10:52 AM  

WMD= weapons of mass destruction

Nancy 10:54 AM  

@Fred Romagnolo: Thanks, Fred!

Arlene 11:06 AM  

I'm always intrigued by puzzles which reveal my lapses of knowledge. I need to bone up on NCAA teams, soccer players - and even poets and novelists.

That said, knowing MOONPIES and NIBS wasn't terribly helpful here.

I got pretty far before resorting to "help." Filling in REPEAT was one of my last entries - a fitting finale.

Carola 11:11 AM  

I found it clever and fun to solve. Loved PERCY BYSSHE [SHE]LLEY "headlining" across the center. I couldn't figure out how to smush WHOOPIE [PIES] into their space until I saw the SCARLET [LET]; then things got easier. Got a kick out of EPICURES over WHOOPIE [PIES]. Lots else to like, too - a CORNUCOPIA of grid treats for me.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

@whired wacks:
There is nothing uglier than willful ignorance. Try an education instead.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

I dropped PIELETSHEDONPAL into an anagram generator and it spit back "spoiled elephant"

Rex may be onto something.

andy 12:01 PM  

Perhaps I should visit this blog more often than I do... What I take away from Rex is that it REALLY sucks being good at something. There is a distinct lack of joy on this page - at least whenever I'm here (maybe I'm the cause!) - although I see references to having actually liked a puzzle.

Usually I come here see where I messed up, but having finished and enjoyed today's puzzle, I came to see what a (mythical?) positive write-up looks like. Alas, some people aren't happy unless they're complaining.

quilter1 12:12 PM  

Easy medium for me. Shelley no problem as I read lots of poetry. I did look up the soccer player as I have zippo knowledge of soccer except Mia Hamm.

Hartley70 12:21 PM  

I got the gimmick at SCARLETTER quickly but I wrestled with this for nearly an hour before the solve. How did I think Shelley's middle name was Blythe? Was I asleep in all those English classes? I was truly astounded to see that BYSSHE worked! Never heard of DONOVAN the soccer player, "42", NEBS, and I've never tasted a WHOOPIE. Aren't they a Southern treat? I don't mind wrestling on a Thursday morning and it's alway a positive to learn something new, so this is a winner for me.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

@ andy you've hit the nail on the head. Rex is bitter and snobbish, and doesn't seem to enjoy the puzzles or the blog much at all.

mac 12:34 PM  

OK Wednesday. I got the theme quickly, with scarlet letter. I did need the crosses for Bysshe, but knew Landon Donovan.

Lovely cornucopia and epicures, who will probably not go for the whoopie pies.

Ratswan 12:55 PM  

I thought the fill was very clean, definitely better than just okay. DEREG was the weakest link, by far -- and it helped FRAPPE and TRIPLEPLAY hang in there, so reasonable compromise.

Didn't know BYSSH or the soccer player, but who knows everything, after all? All the crosses were helpful enough for me to get it solved. I would be pro-revealer, here, especially since two of the theme entries were names.

Excellent clues for ANODE and RBI.

Ratswan of Metropolis.

Reedster 12:55 PM  

Closest I've come to solving a Thursday. I figured out the theme with LANDONOVAN but the NE corner gave me fits and I eventually DNFd with answers that I knew weren't quite right, but couldn't figure out why. I expected Rex to rate it Easy, but was pleasantly surprised to see him give it a medium.

Ratswan 1:02 PM  

BYSSHE with an E.

Whirred Whacks 1:06 PM  

For my comment about Bill Nye, I'm receiving almost as much hate as Rex usually does from the anonymice! Most amusing.

To quote Konrad Adenauer (which I did yesterday):

"A thick skin is a gift from God."

Enjoy your day!

Elephant's Child 1:07 PM  

Was CORNed Beef COPIus
When ALMA die Mahlerin
Wed Walter Gropius.

@Anon 11:23 -- That anagram of 'spoiled elephant'... Nothing personal, right?

Twogals 1:08 PM  

I forgot all about the flies and had SHOOPIES. This only after settling on a new word for Mark of dishonor - SCARLETIER; when scarlet letter didn't work, I figured there was yet another French word I didn't know. So that left NES_ . I thought about Nessie living up in that pond, but was unhappy about spelling the nickname without another "s" or with an "I"," "y," or worse, an "e."
Then I filled in the rest of the puzzle, honoring as @Nancy did, the famous "LanDonoman." Thank goodness for "Repeat," vague as it was, helping me see the "errors of my way," "LanDonoman," however, remained famous, regardless of my affinity for voles.

dick swart 1:14 PM  

Rex may gripe, but to an olde guy it was a pleasure to solve this Thursday so easily.

More of a Tuesday Thursday.

dick swart 1:22 PM  

@Elephants Child


Tom Lehrer: Gustav and Walter and Franz ...

Unknown 1:25 PM  

@hartley70 Huh! That makes two of us in the Blythe category. Now I'm wondering how misremembering the exact same way can happen.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

@Casco Kid - Hail to thee, blithe spirit! Bird thou never wert - by PBS. That's how you got the Blythe!

Lewis 2:29 PM  

@cascokid -- you are steadily improving. You would have been lost on this puzzle early on.
@NCA -- It's all in the wheelhouse. The Shelly answer came quickly to me. CALAIS not so fast.

Never heard of Whoopie Pies, so while I got the answer from the crosses, I figured the product was called Whoohoo Pies! I enjoyed the clues for EVE, RBI, DENS, and STAG. In the NW and NE I had lots of white to start out, ended up solving from the bottom up. I like the words BLARE and CORNUCOPIA. I didn't know a couple of names and I forgot NEBS, but the crosses were fair. While the reveal wasn't a wow, I thought it was fine, though I like @AliasZ's double-play a lot. Thank you John -- gave me a good one!

okanaganer 2:33 PM  

For once, I totally disagree with Rex. I loved this puzzle and enjoyed solving it. Loved CORNUCOPIA and many others.

I could have sworn P.B. Shelley's middle name was BYSE, so it was a case of "It's a theme answer"..."Oh, no it's not"..."Oh, yes it is".

Factoid: his wife Mary wrote "Frankenstein".

Lewis 2:38 PM  

Factoid: Two CORNUCOPIAS (horns of plenty) are seen in the flag and state seal of Idaho, and the Great Seal of North Carolina depicts Liberty standing and Plenty holding a CORNUCOPIA.

Quotoid: "Baseball is ninety percent MENTAL and the other half is physical." -- Yogi Berra

Noam D. Elkies 2:44 PM  

SPOILED ELEPHANT? I got POLLINATED SHEEP (cf. the "Deer John?" clue). Also A DOLPHIN STEEPLE (I thought there was something fishy about that APSE clue) and, dropping the animal theme, PINHOLE PEDESTAL and PLAID TELEPHONES.

Enjoyed the puzzle, mostly because it passed the key test for a variety puzzle: I got the theme early enough that it helped me finish solving it. Who cares that PAPALACES etc. are meaningless without the REPEAT? Think about it as a rebus variant. (Ditto for yesterday's Rex kvetch: it was a rebus with BERRY fitting between two adjacent squares.)


Unknown 3:10 PM  

@lewis Whoopie Pies became a thing here in Maine a few years ago. Someone thought it would be a good idea to make the Whoopie Pie the state dessert. Great, except that Pennsylvania insists its provenance. Meanwhile, the legend of Capt. Hanson Gregory, inventor of the sweet torus we call a doughnut, got short shrift. I myself rooted for the Moxie Float. Which exists. But don't mind me. I'm From Away, anyway.

There is a similar story involving Boston cream pie and Indian bread pudding down in Mass. @jberg?

sanfranman59 3:38 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)

Thu 15:33, 17:01, 0.91, 34%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:39, 10:44, 0.99, 47%, Medium

Anonymous 4:32 PM  

"Anonymice!" That is SO clever @Wirred Wacks. Did you just make that up?
It's pretty clear now how you can deny that the earth is round. Arrogance and ignorance. A deadly combination...

Atlantasolver 4:37 PM  

After all these years, nice to finally find the elusive WMDs hidden in a Times puzzle!

but,but, but, it's all Bush's fault! 5:02 PM  

The NYT Times just ran a huge story about all the old WMD's in Iraq and how they are now in the "wrong hands" .............. hmmmmmmmmm

RAD2626 5:10 PM  

Really liked CORNUCOPIA, EPICURES, PRIME RIB, and TRIPLE PLAY right next to Pee Wee Reese during playoff season. Theme was easy given how explicit revealer was. Never heard of WHOOPIE PIES however. Good timing on LANDON DONOVAN as well. Fun and gettable Thursday.

Sir Hillary 5:15 PM  

Finished this one late. Doesn't feel Thursday-worthy -- better for a Sunday. In fact, I recall a similar one from a Sunday a few years back -- one entry was GUARDIANGEL, which I liked.

Amazing how innocuously expressing an opinion on this board can get you labeled arrogant, ignorant, uneducated and a flat-earther from those who disagree. Don't you folks have anything better to do?

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

Yeah for those who are literate and read the whole NYT article they will see that those weapons were there in a munitions dump since the early 90's because of a UN sponsored disposal, and were neither secret nor usable. But believe whatever you have to to keep up the hate. You're likely a flat-earther, too.

Elephant's Child 5:32 PM  

@dick swart, thanks for the link. I've loved Tom Lehrer for half a century, ever since meeting him through Nikolai Ivanovich Lobochevsky. I couldn't pick a favorite, but ALMA is right up there!

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

Science denial is not innocuous. People die every day due to ignorant beliefs like those expressed by whirred wacks. It effects the development of new drugs, repiratory disease, and yes, weather patterns that will kill millions in the coming years and is already affecting the survival of entire species. Flat- earthers need to be countered now just as they were centuries ago. Let their ignorance stand at your peril.

Z 6:32 PM  

"Anonymouse" and its plural "anonymice" are terms of endearment for those who can't even be bothered to come up with a fake name to identify their posts by. These terms have been used by the commentariat for as long as I can recall. As we see again, today, the anonymous post all too often devolves into name calling.

@Whirred Whacks - Seriously? Did you hear that those tree-huggers over at the Pentagon disagree with you?

LaneB 6:45 PM  

All we'll but for filling "posTAL" for MENTAL leaving me with CApS andALoC and LUsA. Not a terrible DNF. Still looking forward to 5th game ok NLCS and possible trip to World Series for my beloved Giants. Go Mad Bum!!!

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

"People die every day..."
Damn, why can't it be those a**holes??

michael 7:17 PM  

For whatever reason, I found this one of the easiest Thursdays I've ever done. This seems not to have been most people's experience. Maybe it's just that I knew Percy Bysshe Shelleyand Landon Donovan right away and that gave me a lot to hook onto.

OISK 7:20 PM  

Didn't like crossing Zappa, (have heard of him, but not of any of his songs) with Zac - never heard of him, but I got it, and finished. I don't know what whoopiepies are, but it was gettable. In all, a nice Thursday workout. Oh, and also, I knew Donovan, but not his first name - originally had "Ray" and "Brass" for Trumpet. But fortunately, Prime Sib didn't work (unless on is into Fratricide).

On the science debate, (I teach and write about science) yes, global warming is happening. Calling it "settled science" is a bit of a stretch, given the enormous range of predictions. If "round" means perfectly circular, then the Earth is NOT round. And @ World whacks ignores facts - To state that global warming is settled "Just like gravity and evolution,' is bad science. There are LAWS of gravity, that predict future events with very high degrees of certainty. There are theories of evolution, which don't all agree, which explain past events, and predict future change with a lower degree of certainty. And there is the science of climate change, which explains past events, and predicts future events with a far smaller degree of certainty. The three are all science, but they are not comparable in terms of reliability. And I wish, (have said it before) that we could keep politics off this blog.

Whirred Whacks 7:38 PM  

@OISK Thanks for your thoughtful comments regarding some of the different types of scientific certainty.


I've found that no matter what one's endeavor in life is, a little humility can be a useful tool in trying to get closer to the truth.

As the Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus put it:
"There is a greater need to extinguish arrogance than a blazing fire."

Lewis 7:46 PM  

@atlanta solver -- good one!

Lewis 7:46 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leapfinger 7:46 PM  

@OISK, thanks for the healthy dose of extreme clarity. With regard to your last statement, I agree, but it's rather like Godwin's Law in that, taken far enough, discussion of essentially any topic will reach a political component. As always, it's the individual's decision whether to go there.

Z 8:03 PM  

@OISK - Ditto on the thanks. Reminds me of that old observation, "making predictions is hard, especially about the future."

As for politics, my preferred definition emphasizes "the allocation of scarcity" - which does tend to include most human endeavor eventually. Taken to the extreme, the presence or absence of RRNs in the grid can be seen as a political process. The only difference is the passion and vehemence engendered by the topics. "Ban the EELS" hasn't been on a bumper sticker yet.

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

I suppose Heraclitus wasn't standing particularly close to that blazing fire. He may have been stepping into that river again.

Of course, I could be thinking of the wrong philosopher Heraclitus.

Ancient Joke 8:53 PM  

Giovani to Guseppi - What did you do to make her moan and yell so much?

Guseppi - I rubbed Heralitus

PuzzleCraig 9:56 PM  

I was so hoping that they would tie this together with THREEPEAT. Oh well.

Teedmn 10:55 PM  

Glad I stuck it out to the very end to catch the groaner joke? Maybe not. I can't get used to how robotic it seems, solving on AcrossLite compared to using pen on paper. I wandered around the grid without catching the theme even though I had three of the themes without noticing they didn't really add up. Papal palace let me know something was going on.

I tried red letters at first for mark of shame. But CALAIS was recently in so that guess finished the NW.

My brain is still reeling from doing the Syndicated version also today - it's been 5 weeks since the infamous Change of Heart puzzle. Big DNF for me!

Helpful Guy 11:38 PM  

@Ancient Jokester - Spelling counts, particularly when your punch line is her-a-clitus. And it's I licked, not I rubbed

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Nice crossword puzzle -- and I mean a "crossword puzzle" in the true sense of the term. Sorry Rex didn't like it and dismissed it as "old school", but what Rex calls a crossword puzzle is a contemporary pop trivia contest. That isn't a "modern" crossword puzzle, it's no crossword puzzle at all, but some other thing. As I keep saying, I'd go to the other extreme and ban all proper nouns so that there's no cultural bias in the puzzle, but if there must be proper nouns at least this puzzle understands that they must be of general interest, not just things known to hipsters living in DUMBO.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

IHO this is a marvelous, clever, original puzzle which was certainly doable by any crossword enthusiast, in spite of Mr. Parker's usual dark comments that never cease to make me laugh at his pedantry. There, I said it.

Thanks, Mr. John Farmer, and more of them, please.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (No nos.)

spacecraft 12:58 PM  

Forget "medium;" this was full-bore challenging. Tons of things I didn't know. Yet from somewhere I managed to pull DONOVAN--though not the first name, so for a long while the trick eluded me...even after completing the SE and having "REPEAT" in hand. I thought they were three-letter entries occurring twice in the grid--normally a no-no unless it's the theme.

Finally working across the middle my old friend PBS wanted to emerge, but PERCYSHELLEY was too short and PERCYBYSSHESHELLEY...aha!. So, some two hours in, I (like WHOOPI in "Jumpin' Jack Flash") found the key. Leave it to OFL to "b-flat" about it. I thought it was original and clever.

Plus, a daunting puzzle defeated; that's always good for a PRIME grade. Cluing UPHELD lateweek toughness throughout. A-.

1132. Stuck in a 7 rut. Just enough to get my money into the pot, only to lose. Story of my life.

eastsacgirl 1:44 PM  

Got the gist from PAPALACE but took awhile in SE corner because of LANDONOVAN. Not a huge soccer fan and was looking for an abbreviation for 64A. Not bad though.

rondo 1:45 PM  

Alot of hate, or DNF, or had-to-google from the semi-pseudo-intellects in real-time solve land. Also seems that OFL is age-ist - anything not new and hip and modern doesn't seem to suit him.
I figured this one out fairly easily once I got a toehold with my first entry of LSD. ZAPPA was a real gimme. Don't know what that says about me. SCARLETTER was required reading of course, so figured the theme from there. I really liked this puzzle.
All the proper names and such are quite easy if one pays a minimum amount of time listening to what is happening (or has happened- e.g. yesterday's SCHIRRA)in the world. I don't think OFL and some of his minions get out of their own boxes very much.
Sorry if this seemed like a mini-rant.
Also like any puzzle with NUDE ALUMNA WHOOPIES.

394 - streak of 9s is over, tie w/ spacey?

rondo 1:47 PM  

@eastsacgirl - Nice to see you back!

rain forest 2:43 PM  

I found this relatively easy for a Thursday, and I liked the cleverness of the theme. I think that REPEAT was unnecessary, and when I went looking for a revealer I was hoping to find "double duty" because that's what the three-letter words actually do. Obviously, that would have been impossible without a massive rewrite.

Though climate change is a fact, predictions relating to its effects are pretty difficult, although look at Buffalo right now. It's a question of who wants to save lives (in the future) and who wants to just make more money.
Yeah, yeah, off-topic, but I didn't bring it up. It was that Bill NYE guy.

340 Three-way tie at the moment.

leftcoastTAM 4:11 PM  

I liked this puzzle a lot. Clean, fair, and medium Thursday-tricky. Tougher stuff, especially BYSSHE, was accessible via crosses, which make most puzzles potentially doable. With the revealer clue and REPEAT in mind, this one opened up for me thanks to SCARLETTER.

Dirigonzo 4:47 PM  

WHOOPIES was a gimme but I didn't catch on to the "double duty" aspect (thanks for the term @rainy) until PAPALACE came along. Had to come here to find out what was repeating in PERCYBYSSHELLEY as I knew only his last name. Then I screwed the whole thing up by misspelling BouYUP and not bothering to check the crosses. GRRRR.

869, but there's an American flag nest to it - surely that's worth something?

DMG 5:00 PM  

Took awhile to catch on to the REPEAT thing, but figured it out with SCARLETTER. Not that I finished this one. Missed the Z and couldn't hack much of the SE. Unknown player and team, both crossed, in my case, by BuckUP, left some blanks down there. Alas, so,close, but so far.

2543 Not even close!!

Waxy in Montreal 7:49 PM  

Never having heard of WHOOPIE PIES (an obvious gap in a knowledge-base which otherwise includes trivia about long-dead poets) caused no end of problems, appropriately in the Buffalo area of the NE. But overall a fun puzzle with a not-too-challenging twist.

Wonder if anyone still programs in ADA.

In 1965, I had a summer job at a suburban mall near Montreal which opened with a replica of Michelangelo‘s David on display. There was a huge outcry from some people about the appropriateness of such a display of male nudity in a shopping plaza. Philistinism ruled as management quickly caved and had the statue removed.

309 Even further away.

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