1955 Julie London hit / WED 12-24-14 / Old New Yorker cartoonist William / Return of Jedi dancing girl / Maserati competitor

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Constructor: Adam G. Perl

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: geographical puns — three answers all have symmetrical pun equivalents:

Theme answers:
  • CRY ME A RIVER (17A: 1955 Julie London hit) / CRIMEA RIVER (62A: Certain waterway to the Black Sea?)
  • GO-BETWEEN (33A: Intermediary) / GOBI TWEEN (44A: 11- or 12-year-old Mongolian desert dweller?)
  • PARASAIL (21A: Glide, in a way) / PARIS ALE (55A: Left Bank quaff?)
Word of the Day: "CRY ME A RIVER" (17A: 1955 Julie London hit) —

• • •

1955 Julie London hit!!? This clue alone says everything about why this puzzle skewed hard for me. You know, there was a much bigger (and *much* more recent) song with this same title. It hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2002. But I guess 1955 is closer to the typical NYT solver's comfort zone. Still. Somehow.

[2009 Justin Timberlake hit]

Between not knowing Julie London's work and having MAJOR for MACRO and the tough clue on TIME (4D: Cons do it) and the so-horrid-I-didn't-trust-it APAIR, that NW corner was a bit of a bear for me. Also, I had no real idea what the theme was until near the very end. Actually, I had half this puzzle filled in before I had a single theme answer (I mean, before I had a single "?" theme answer in). I don't know what a NATAL chart is. EPEE relates to sign language? No idea. I actually think the theme is kind of cute, but virtually everything about this puzzle skewed older and well out of my wheelhouse.

The fill here is less than strong. The Scrabble-****ing (in NE, SW) is mysterious. I don't really understand it. I mean, I do, but I don't. Actually, the SE corner almost makes me wish there'd been some Scrabble-****ing over there. It looks like a bunch of anagrams of the same word, over and over. Lots of subpar stuff here = OOLA, APAIR, ARIP, ENEROS (!), QEII, NOBIS, the SITON / SETON crossing … it was all a bit of a slog. But I did kind of dig the geographical puns, in retrospect.

Gotta go because my computer is gonna die and I don't have my charger :(

Happy Christmas Eve.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I'd've liked APAIR if the clue had been ["Grow ___!"]


jae 12:09 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Almost put in onkP for PREP but there was no way the Albany clue or the campus clue would work.  I did have Pest before PILL which was promptly erased when I saw the Jeans clue.  Almost zero pitfalls in this one compared to yesterday's.

STEIG was a WOE.

Delightful but odd new clue for ÉPÉE.

"Nebraska" is worth renting. 

Found this mildly amusing, liked it.

Unknown 12:16 AM  

17 min for 95% of puz. 17 min on OOLA ALARM MRISCAN NATAL corridor. AwARe for ALARM had me going every way. Nearly gave up. But didn't!

I am now called upon to type Happy Holidays, which makes me feel like a robot. Thanks captcha.

Charles Flaster 12:19 AM  

Easy/medium and liked theme.
Favorite was GO BETWEEN / GOBI TWEEN. Just very creative and perfectly symmetric.
Liked cluing for GORES, ATOMS and LEVEE.
Nebraska star Bruce DERN should have easily won the Best Actor Oscar. So I am glad Julie London was clued and not the more recent one!
No crosswordEASE.
Thanks very much AGP.

Whirred Whacks 12:19 AM  

I liked this fun theme.

Unfortunately, the play on words CRY ME A RIVER and CRIMEA were much in the news his year starting in March with the Russian invasion of the Crimean peninsula.

Long ago when I was a TWEEN, NIKITA Khrushchev scared me (and many others) with his statement: "We will bury you." Many years later in 2007, I went to Khrushchev's grave in Moscow and placed one of my toy products on it. That was a most satisfying moment.

QEII feels wrong. I've usually seen Elizabeth the monarch referred to as ERII.

Merry Christmas Eve to you.

Elaine2 12:26 AM  

Rex: A "NATAL chart," as far as I know, is what an astrologer does. Not an "old" reference, just a weird one...

I thought this was fun.

okanaganer 12:51 AM  

It was a fun theme, but isn't anyone bothered by RIVER being in both 17 and 62 as the same word? In the other theme pairs none of the words are repeated. I would have bet substantial money Rex would mention that.

Steve J 12:55 AM  

Didn't enjoy this at all. And it wasn't because of the theme puns, which were good as far as such things go, (other than PARIS ALE: the green paint of beers). It was the overabundance of subpar fill, some tortured cluing, the incredibly ungainly NE, SW and SE corners. Complete slog.

chefwen 1:19 AM  

Loved this one, mainly because I got a great laugh at myself while solving. Read 22D as matinees and filled in NOONERS as I thought "The Gray Lady is really getting risqué". Nothing was working with that so I reread the clue and couldn't stop laughing as I replaced nooners with SEA COWS. Jon was very perplexed with my laughter which make me laugh even louder.

RIVER twice made me kind of wince, but not enough to spoil the fun.

Thank you Adam G . Perl

timcates 1:51 AM  

I liked the homophone crossings (I.e. SETON/SITON and ALEVE/ELEVE) but they made identifying the theme more difficult...almost like an unrealized potential secondary theme....

Thomas808 3:06 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle, too. No slog for me. I liked the ALEVE ELEVE LEVEE mashup and many of the clues were clever. The best for me was the clue for GOBITWEEN. Not knowing yet that it was a theme, I read "11- or 12-year old Mongolian desert dweller" and said "Whaaaaat???". And then there it sat for the next 10 minutes or so while I worked away at the rest of the puzzle. I circled back repeatedly with growing anticipation. It wasn't until I sussed out the theme with CRIMEARIVER that I got the help from GOBETWEEN and the lights went on! Great fun!

Just finished watching Ben Hur with my young adult daughters. They could not believe how the chariot scene could be done without CGI!

Danp 6:51 AM  

Note to comedians and xword puzzle constructors: If you have to explain the joke, it doesn't work!

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

Was Julie London used instead of Justin Timberlake to make the puzzle accessible for the older crowd or was it done just to make the puzzle more difficult?

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

The Julie London Song was used solely to irk Rex. That's reason enough for me. Anything that dispeases Rex makes me happy, because he is such an ass.

mathguy 7:40 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Cute theme and I needed it to get CRIMEARIVER and GOBITWEEN. I would have liked a little more crunch (64 squares were filled with gimmes).

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

ferrari is misspelled.

GILL I. 7:43 AM  

I think I'm a bit in the @Steve J camp. Maybe because it took me ages to finish. But then...when I did, I looked back and thought it pretty clever. I don't believe I've done a puzzle like this before.
@jae: I had ONKP and couldn't get rid of it. Just staring at it for about an hour made PREP finally emerge. (I'll never make it at ACPT!)
@Whirred Whacks: Was it a Gobot?
Aside from CRYing a bit at the IQS QEII and why are round trips HRS?...I'm going to call fowl (foul?) at SERAPES. Gauchos wear PONCHOS....A SERAPE is for our friends south of the border...

A VERY MERRY to all of you. Christmas Eve is but a short time away and Santa is busy now. Stay safe and warm!

Gubdude 7:46 AM  

Took me a long time to get the theme but liked it once it was discovered.

I do not like seeing a plural month, like ENEROS. Aprils Mays or Junes would work but only if we were talking about names.

Dorothy Biggs 7:52 AM  

Weird experience today. Relatively quick run time...kinda easy-ish...and then BOOM! DNF because of the NE (actually I quit because I ceased caring). The -EII of 11down, along with the I-S of 10A just. Wouldn't. Fall. Like I said, I got the entire puzzle in good time and just sitting there looking at that blank letter just didn't seem worth the time to figure it out. When I hit the reveal button, I was glad I didn't spend any more time.

With the recent chatting about "fairness," I submit 10A as an "unfair" clue. There is nothing in that clue that, once you get the answer, do you think "Oh, yeah...IQS!"

Don't get me wrong, QEII is okay...but frankly, I thought that was a ship, I didn't know they actually called Queen Elizabeth that. I was thinking, with that double "I" that it was some mideast amir, or a pope, or someone not the Queen of England.

In retrospect, I agree with Rex looking at that SE corner. There used to be a commercial for a frozen dinner with a cowboy named "Libby the Kid" and he'd always say, "That's Billy the Kid spelled sideways, sort of." That's what that corner reminds me of...lots of the same words spelled sideways. Sort of.

One question for Rex...if 13A were clued "Grow ____!" wouldn't you count off because "APAIR" is a partial? Let's just say that APAIR is bad.

Apart from that pesky NE, this puzzle was almost too easy for me for a Wednesday...

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

@Gill I 20743: HR=home run, a (round) trip around the bases.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

So does a moron like anon 0742 even check before posting idiocy about missspelled words? A little embarrassing...

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Ok people: we JUST HAD a clue that was something like "medical test for claustrophobes." Answer: OPENMRI. Anyone? Bueller?

Conrad 8:09 AM  

Easy Wednesday, probably because I lucked into the theme. Got CRY ME A RIVER right away; didn't remember Julie London but knew the song and the performer and got enough crosses to put them together. Next themer was GOBI TWEEN. Thought "Uh-oh! Maybe it should be CRIMEA in 17A. Checked, and there was no question mark. That gave me the theme and the rest fell more-or-less easily. I agree with @Rex that grow _____ is a better clue and with @NCA that QEII is a ship and that @Rex would have complained about grow ______.
A happy and a merry to all, and my thanks for the lively wordplay on this blog.

RooMonster 8:10 AM  

Hey All !
Thought the theme was kinda neat. GOBI TWEEN being the favorite! Agree with Rex on the NE corner. So many other options, unless going for the pangram, which it's not, no J or X. SW corner fine with me. I actully thought this one easier than yesterday's.

Fell into the onkP trap, after having PEZ. Had ROam first for ROVE, GsAT for GMAT.

Didn't. CRYMEARIVER at this un, LOPEd through, no REDHOT SEARing.

Loved Rex's APAIR clue!


Leapfinger 8:12 AM  

#chefwen, replacing NOONERS with SEACOWS? Odd thought, definitely bordering on kinky!

Loved the humoresque theme; I think GOBI TWEEN will always make me laugh. Wish there was something do-able with 'Sahara Senior'!

Thought it a good ploy to offset the punny theme with staightforward cluing, with some very notable exceptions:
Eye opener: ALARM
Some sneaks: NIKES
It may be original: SIN
Subject of elementary educ'n: ATOMS
Cons do it: TIME
Horns in on: GORES
Bank security features: LEVEES (the Best!!)

Some nitlets: (a) the INCA were the Conquistadors' victims more than they were foes, and (b) I see no reason for SEA RED, when RED SEA is definitely the accepted nomenclature. Lastly, I think of the Roxy or Loew's for classic heater names; the RITZ is always a hotel to me.

Was very pleased to see Wm. STEIG. I've enjoyed his cartoons for ages, and his children's books for almost as long. Although Shrek is now probably his best-known, my favourite are the two about Dr. De Soto, the mouse dentist, who treats all except confirmed carnivores. Steig's talents fit right in with today's theme: see "Pete's a Pizza". A couple of years ago, I chanced on an exhibit of his work somewhere on NYC's Museum Mile, and discovered that he also designed theatrical sets.

@SteveJ, @NCA Prez, avert y'all's eyes.
Thanks to today's theme, I can now tie Tannic Acid to the treatment of several minor ailments, eg, burns and diaper rash, sore throat and ingrown toenail. Nothing Titanic, but useful nonetheless.

I'm a TUPELO person, but occasionally will use three, esp. if they're eiderdown.

I heard they've approved some new gas taxes; in particular, the Fee Nicks Arizona... or Arizonians.

If your holiday plans include a visit to Germany, may you share some bonhomie with your Bonn homies.

Ugh. I just walked the dog, and stepped in some Rotterdam.

Mohair Sam 8:16 AM  

Very easy Wednesday. Nice theme, but we found it too quickly. Whenever I encounter the CRIMEA RIVER in the news my mind goes to the song. When the Julie London gimme at 17A popped in I said hmmmm, and looked for another 11 and sure enough. A quick search found the rest of the themers and this puzzle was essentially done.

Big fan of both songs, btw, so the use of Timberlake 2002 wouldn't have bothered us a bit.

@NCA President has a point. You can get about a zillion different figs. on a bell curve. But I'm aware that the old girl in England is a crossword fan, so QEII a gimme off PARASAIL, and the corner filled.

AliasZ 8:27 AM  

My problem with GOBI TWEEN is that the word TWEEN is about as alien to GOBIans as a good ALE is to PARISians or the color green to painters. Is there a RIVER by the name of CRIMEA? Really?

Just kidding. The theme was a lovely romp of puns to which I am partial. But I wonder if the following could work as well:

TUPELO | two-pillow
SPARTA cuss | Spartacus
Londonderry Air | London derrière
bored doughboy | Bordeax boy
Rijeka (Fiume) | reek, if you may
Toulouse-Lautrec | to loo, slow trek
term in Natick | terminate tick

[Make up your own clues.]

Don't like these? So Suomi.

Nice ALEVE-ELEVE-LEVEE cluster as previously noted, but I also noticed NIKES on a few FOOTS, and saw someone SIT ON SETON. The ENEROS are friendly with the GORES, Al and Tipper. SEA RED should be RED SEA -- everybody knows that. Do TATARS live in or near the GOBI Desert?

Let us enjoy this beautiful Hungarian Christmas song by Lajos Bárdos (1899-1986) called "Karácsonyi bölcsődal" (Christmas Lullaby).

Happy Christmas Eve to all, and to all a good Wednesday.

AliasZ 8:31 AM  

TUPELO - dang, @Leapy!

Leapfinger 8:32 AM  

@Gilly, HR= homerun makes good sense, but I was thinking a clock's hands go around the clock face every hour; it kinda works.

Forgot to add, a Buon NATALe to all who celebrate, and to all who don't!

Zeke 8:34 AM  

@NCA President The one thing that does relate IQs to a bell curve more than any other normally distributed sample is the infamous book of the twenty years ago, "The Bell Curve". The book was entirely based on factors alledged to contribute to where groups of people fell on the bell curve of IQ.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

A themeless, non-denominational Happy Holidays to everyone. Wishing the whole team - Rex, Annabel, all named and anonymous contributors - the best for 2015!

And a giant Thank You! to Rex for all the hard work. It requires a lot of time, and I'm sure it's not easy to take the personal attacks, well, personally.

Likewise Will and Joel. Great work and much appreciated.

Love to watch the Sherlock/Moriarty dynamic play out between Rex and Will. Maybe one week they can switch roles.

That would be:


Z 8:45 AM  

I avoided the on kP problem because I already had RPI, but still couldn't see PREP for the longest time.

@anon8:05 - that M was my next to last letter, which I got by running the alphabet and then doing the "D'Oh" slap. My excuse - SCAN through me off as it is always always always either an Open MRI or an MRI, never ever ever an MRI SCAN.

@Leapy - Two thumbs up for Dr. De Soto. Which pertains a little to OFL's CRY ME A RIVER observation. A fifth grader will read a novel about a sixth grader, but a seventh grader won't. We are more likely to be familiar with our parents' music than our children's. I think it fairly common to be much more knowledgeable about things older, not younger. You will find neither London nor Timberlake in my iPod, but the answer as clued was a gimme but would have been a WOE if clued as a Timberlake song. I see it with my own off-spring. Nirvana and the Beatles are "great music," Taylor Swift will cause their eyes to cross.

PARIS ALE is a little like Idaho tomatoes or Wisconsin beef or Texas intelligence - sure it exists but not what it is known for.

AnnieD 8:49 AM  

I enjoyed this puzz very much. Had me chuckling when I hit GOBITWEEN. And it feel faster than a normal Wed, so it was most enjoyable.

But if you're talking CRYMEARIVER, you can't do better than Diana Krall's version

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday!

AnnieD 8:50 AM  

fell, not feel! Sheesh!

Dorothy Biggs 8:51 AM  

@Zeke...I'm with you if the clue was "Figs. in The Bell Curve." Or somehow making the connection to the book by capitalizing Bell Curve.

The near natick of that spot is that it is also coupled with QEII...a name I associate exclusively with a ship. I can't imagine what it is like for your name and the name of a ship to be synonymous. Seems a bit rude, actually.

"Hey, I'm not saying you need to lose a few pounds, but we're going to name a ship after you."

Muscato 9:02 AM  

Maybe it's just because I'm on leave, but I rather adored this one - a satisfyingly fast-but-not-too-simple Wednesday and a nice giggle with the theme. And anyone literate enough to do the NYTimes crossword who doesn't first associate "Cry Me a River" with Julie London is a philistine, pure and simple.

And on that curmudgeonly note - happy holidays!

Hartley70 9:08 AM  

As soon as I saw Julie London I knew I was going to love this puzzle. @AnnieD I love the Diana Krall version too, well actually anything she does. Adam Perl and I were on the same wavelength today so this skewed easy for me. My only hesitation was LAG or tag in conclusion. The theme was clever. What more could I want? I give it a rave!

ArtO 9:09 AM  

Tricky clues and a very clever theme. Strong Wednesday workout. Well done Mr. Perl.

Teedmn 9:11 AM  

Aack, I have started a run of DNFs this week ( or actually, continued from last week). Today it was the SW, like yesterday. Like @ Gill I, I had onkP for PREP. I finally took that out, put in APSE and hit the " check" button. Turns out I had inBETWEEN at 33A so there was an error I wouldn't have caught until Mr Happy Pencil failed. Banging head against counter while exhorting self to pay attention to the theme!

Now that I have finished my self-help therapy, I would like to thank Mr Perl for a nice puzzle and wish all here a lovely erev Christmas!

Norm 9:25 AM  

Cute puzzle. GOBI TWEEN was laugh out loud funny. Watch out, Rex, you're getting coal this year for being such a grump.

joho 9:31 AM  

Cute theme: TY Adam! My favorites were GOBETWEEN/ GOBITWEEN.

TY, too, anon 8:00a.m.for your HR explanation. I like @Leapfinger thought it was the hours on a clock but a home run makes a lot more sense.

@Leapfinger also thanks for pointing out all of the clever clues.

I feel very thankful today for lot of things including this blog (that means you, Rex!) and everybody here.

Merry Christmas Eve to all!

Jo Ho ho Hanna

Leapfinger 9:35 AM  

@Alias, I also edged you out on the RED SEA, shore 'nuff, Honey!
(But I always enjoy the London derriere)

@NCAP, tons of ships have been named after people, with never an insult intended. The Cunard line famously gave all its ships names ending with -IA (my family came over on the Samaria), and apparently approached the Royals in the 1930s for permission to name their next ship after the Queen, having Victoria in mind. Before the company's representative could specify otherwise, King George V said, "Queen Mary will be so pleased!". And that's how the -IA ending tradition was broken.

Danield 9:37 AM  

Shocker...not a perfect puzzle! Some complainers are like cops who don't like the clues at the crime scene. C'mon our job is to solve what is presented. This was a hard Wed for me, but, as always, I marvel at the creativity and overall intellectual horsepower of those who craft these.
How 'bout a shout out for Joe Cocker and his memorable version of Cry me a River?!

Bird 9:40 AM  

Morning all and Merry Christmas Eve!

Fine theme and construction with one notable exception: the two RIVERs. This one was a good challenge as I didn't get the theme until late (lots of blanks the first run through) and because I didn't believe RIVER would be in the grid twice.

Z 9:44 AM  

@Zeke and NCA President - I deleted my IQS/bell curve rant (no need to clap everyone). The misunderstanding of testing by John Q Public is one thing, demagoguery by politicians based on misusing testing borders on criminal. (When I say "politicians" I mean both parties and would have to go to confession for swearing if I believed in that sort of thing)

noone 9:46 AM  

I was unable to find a Crimea River in Ukraine, Crimea, or Russia, but I did find this:

The Crimea River is a negligible, scenic river in Ukraine (or occasionally Russia) that commands a significant historical drainage basin. It flows 230 miles through the densely forested region of Timba Land before discharging its silt into BRITTANY Bay. Its source is the remote TIMBER LAKE, a popular vacation spot for many Europans, which are not to be confused with Europeans. The surrounding area is notable for both the Yalta Conference and the town of Simferopol, the place where more tears are shed per capita than anywhere else in the world. . . .

Z 9:53 AM  

@Danield - CRY ME A RIVER. I want that hat.

George Barany 10:01 AM  

I'm a bit late to the party, so apologies if I duplicate observations made above. For 24-Across, "Round trips, of a sort: Abbr." I filled in YRS, thinking of the annual trip the earth makes around the sun. When the Y was clearly conflicting with 14-Down, I changed it to the correct H, thinking that in an hour, the minute hand of an analogue clock makes one round trip around the clockface. So, I guess time was on my mind, for once, rather than the elegant baseball explanation offered by several commentators.

quilter1 10:02 AM  

I found this easy. I got the theme right away and just filled in the rest. Nice early Christmas gift. On to pie baking.

jberg 10:15 AM  

First of all, it's more than just puns. It's change a vowel to I and get a pun. That makes it better, and sort of excuses the two RIVERs. Except it doesn't quite work, because for PARIS ALE you have to change other letters. Better would be "flu strain originating from the Left Bank." Sure it's strained, but it's a pun, so that's ok.

First theme answer I got was GOBI TWEEN -- that made me look in all the other likely theme spots, and the rest was easy (except for ALEVE, since I misread brand as 'band').

And looking for symmetrical themers made me notice some other nice symmetrical entries: NIKES on your FOOTS and the TATARS with their SEARED earth policy. (Also, Stalin deported the Tatars from CRIMEA during the second world war.

I'm thinking Will Shortz must have had an MRI experience recently, and spent the time thinking up how to clue it.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Ludyjynn 10:30 AM  

Same as yesterday; I liked this one a lot. Puzz. was fairly clued and easy for a hump day offering, w/ a cute theme. And as usual, I learned something new: Mr. EPEE.

I have cruised frequently and had the pleasure of being in NYC when the QE11 departed for her week-long trans-Atlantic crossing to her home port in Southampton, GB.
The ship was launched and named personally by Queen Elizabeth 11 on 9/20/67, who used the same pair of gold scissors that her mother and grandmother had used to launch the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary, both magnificent vessels in their day. (The latter is now boardable in Long Beach, CA for dining, touring and staying the night.) QE11 was in service c. 40 years. I agree w/ others here that QE11 references the ship and not the monarch, herself, and should have been clued as such. But I also appreciate the crossword connection his clue evoked.

TUPELO honey,locally created and harvested in Georgia, SC and Florida, is a treat for the senses. Makes me think of Van Morrison, not Elvis. Sort of like the Julie London v. Timberlake v. Krall discussion, above!

Bruce DERN, one of our finest and most under-appreciated actors.

Thanks, AGP and WS. SEAL of approval for sure.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:33 AM  

Fun puzzle.

Like everyone else, it seems, loved that Mongolian minor.

Happy Happy.

Zeke 10:34 AM  

@Z - I thought long and hard about posting a reference to that book on Xmas Eve.

AnonyMongolian Minor 10:43 AM  

Didn't we just have some AmerIndian TRIBE? And now we have NEE PEZ...

Steve M 10:47 AM  


AliasZ 10:56 AM  

@Leapy -- which translates to: I shouldn't have dilly-dallied for half an hour trying to find the perfect performance of the Karácsonyi bölcsődal... [smileyface]

I forgot to mention Othello, the MOOP.

Here is Regina Coeli, K 276 by Mozart. About half way through (3:00) you may hear "Ora pro NOBIS."

old timer 11:15 AM  

A delightful puzzle all in all. It took me forever to remember "Cry Me a River" but it definitely was in the Top 40 when I was ten.

It was impossible to make the joke without using "RIVER" twice, so I'll excuse what would otherwise be a construction faux pas.

It used to be if you wanted a draft beer in Paris, you got a mass-produced (but refreshing, in hot weather) beer from Alsace or the North of France. They have brewpubs now, just like most places do these days.

Original SIN invariably reminds me of Tom Lehrer and his "Vatican Rag. "Then the guy who's got religion'll tell you if your sin's original. If it is try playin' it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, Four, Six, Eight, time to TRANSUBSTANTIATE!" I was just wondering of some priests don't have that little ditty in mind as they elevate the Host.

Questinia 11:16 AM  

**Lore from the Hills**

William Steig lived in the farmhouse up the road from mine in the 50's-60's until who knows. (Another New Yorker cartoonist, Al Frueh, lived in the farmhouse across the hollow from me in the 30's and beyond).

Evidently William Steig had an orgone box and a farmer's wife went inside and was never the same.


fly, spaghetti monster 11:17 AM  

Roam for ROVE, ONKP for PREP, both easily fixed from crosses. Easy wednesday, and, praise jesus, no christmas theme.

Doug Garr 11:44 AM  

Perfect Wednesday for me; took me a long time but finally finished and guessed correctly on the 6 or 7 words I still have no clue about the clues. Good theme, but some of the fill was pretty out there.

Tita 11:48 AM  

Merry Christmas!

Lewis 11:54 AM  

We recently had SERAPE as well. I like the high IQS and the upperMOST. Good clues for NIKES, LEVEE, TIME, and HRS. I've thought of the sound-alikes for CRIMEARIVER and GO-BETWEEN before, but not for PARASAIL. This was a good blue collar puzzle. I guess it is about time to think about wrapping presents, or maybe I'll wait longer...

pfb 11:55 AM  

I enjoyed the theme; challenging but still a pretty quick solve. GOBI TWEEN was great! It did seem to tilt toward older solvers, but 1955 Julie London is well before my time, and I'm no youngster. I remember Julie London from Emergency produced by her ex, Jack Webb, and co starring her current, Bobby Troup.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Any time I find a puzzle easier for me than for Rex is a good time. It was tougher than most Wednesdays but lots of fun.

Andrew Heinegg 12:05 PM  

He could have used the recently deceased Joe Cocker as well and have been a little more contemporary than Julie London.

Masked and AnonymoUs 12:10 PM  

Happy Holly Days! to...
* this fun WedPuz and the guys it rode in on
* @63, without whom I would not exist
* Blue'Bel
* U's (a lil scarce, today, btw)
* runts and weejects
* All U solvers, whether U comment here or just lurk -- may all yer Christmas dreams and wishes come true.
* Especially Evil Doug, who was extra good, this year


RnRGhost57 12:33 PM  

For my money, Barbara Manning has the best version of "Cry Me a River."

Round John Version 12:33 PM  

Almost forgot...

Happy Holly Days to the Christmas SEAL. It plays a cool version of Jingle Bells on the horns, and was the puz's token Christmas reference. toot. arf.

Yall is calm...
Yall is bright...
Round John version...
Mother and child.


mathguy 1:08 PM  

AliasZ: London derrière and Bordeaux boy. Bravo!

Lewis 1:46 PM  

Factoid: William STEIG produced more than 2,600 drawings and 117 covers for The New Yorker, and didn't start writing children's books until age 61, winning the Caldecott award for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.

Quotoid: "I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all OVER again." -- Joan Rivers

mac 2:25 PM  

I thought it was fun, and also got it at Gobi tween/ go-between.

Back to the kitchen. Merry Christmas Eve!

LaneB 3:17 PM  

Hung up on HRS and MRISAN but otherwise got by more quickly than usual. Won't count this one as a DNF notwithstanding a couple of bad-guess mistakes.

orangeblossomspecial 3:31 PM  

Here is a reference to a NATAL chart:


joho 3:32 PM  

Great comments today! I forgot to mention that PILL next to ALEVE was a nice touch.

Leapfinger 3:40 PM  

@Alias, based on the results, I'd say all the dillying you can dally should be encouraged. The bölcsôdal is especially beautiful.

And now, tarhonya elkészítése for the soup.

Laurence Hunt 4:07 PM  

Thanks goodness for the 1955 vs 2002 clue. I don't know any songs that Justin Timberlake ever performed, though I've seen him in movies, including ones I liked ("In Time"). I also would rather identify the author of Silas Marner than the name of some rapper (sorry, I don't know the names of ANY rappers). Yeah, I did the theme answers first, and quickly, the NW corner was easy in my world, and then most of the fill came rapidly. Absolutely loved the geographical word play. This is one of my recent favourites.

dk 4:23 PM  

🌲🌲🌲 (3 firrrr trees)

Grew to like the theme. Only set back was rrated vs. the right answer.

Happy x mas eve everyone.

Ludyjynn 5:20 PM  

@Questinia, "orgon box"???

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

Can't wait to read RP bah humbug railing tomorrow, as he steers us away from the NYT, and towards any other "really clever" puzzle.
And again, I must chide the NYT for pandering to its readership, rather than trying to make RP happy with new themes. And really? The NYT puzzlers- older than rp's aka?

Arlene 5:48 PM  

I was surprised to see the Medium-Challenging rating Rex gave this puzzle. I guess it makes up for all the times he thought things were easy - and I did not!

This puzzle solved steadily - no Googles - and I got the theme at GOBI - after filling in GOBETWEEN.

I found the clues to be a bit obscure - pushing the envelope to seem fresh.

xyz 6:08 PM  

Enough elusive fill that the off beat clues of simple words got really annoying.

Judith 10:10 AM  

Weird, but clever and fun weird. Liked better than most. Then again, I'm older than most (this disqualifies you as a puzzler????). Wm Steig's wonderful exhibit was at the Jewish Museum, 5th Ave., NYC. His range was tremendous and as the commenter said, the children's stuff began only when he was pretty old himself. (Another one for our side?)
Like everyone else, was taken with that Gobi tween. Only one real nit to pick: Gauchos do NOT wear serapes. Wrong country.
One more nit, for Zeke (whose comment was otherwise right on the mark for me): it's allege. No "d" in the middle. Given the context of your comment, it's important. Merry Christmas to all of you, and Have A Day to the Grinches.

Steiglover 10:28 AM  

That's right, Judith, the Steig exhibit was at the Jewish Museum. The odd thing is that we stopped there to see a different exhibit, so finding the Steig there on a different floor was a delightful bonus. The part that's odd is that now I don't remember the exhibit that drew us there originally!

evil doug 2:28 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 3:47 PM  

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Vincent L 8:40 AM  

Maybe people who did this when it came out in the NYT were in good cheer because it was Christmas Eve, but I hated this puzzle. Two RIVERs in the theme answers? What kind of sloppy starting point is that? The rest was smooth and easy, but the rivers took the joy out of the theme.

spacecraft 11:01 AM  

Disagreeable person is a PILL?? I've heard them called many things; PILL is not among them. Well, this is a disagreeable puzzle, and a bad PILL to swallow.

Lots of the clues were like that: Classic theater name? RITZ?? No, classic hotel name maybe. Theater? Can't place a single RITZ. And that crosses "Albany is on it--" EST. I get it, time zone. But why Albany? Weird.

Continuing: tell = SAYTO. Awful. Not give ARIP? Must be regional. Doesn't even make sense. Squelch = SITON (again, awful)? No. That is NOT what squelch means. And the NE corner! Of all the words to come after Christmas, SEAL, though certainly legit, does not occur. I only got it because 10a seemed to call for a plural. I do remember those, and the Easter ones too, but come on. We've been polio-free quite a while now.

As to the theme, I agree it is ruined by the repetition of RIVER. The other pairs (oh yeah, A PAIR, another defect; you can't just stick an indefinite article in front of an entry willy-nilly--in that sense I support OFL's clue "Grow_____!" Pluralizing a month {ENEROS} is just as bad) were OK, but overall, this one just won't fly. Sorry, Adam: F.

ronodo 12:09 PM  

Super EZ however boring as watching green paint dry.
Only reason to clue with Albany on EST must be its proximity to RPI.
54d could be clued Al & Tipper. And 30d politico Karl.
ELEVE and ALEVE crossing as bad as SITON/SETON.
This puz was really kind of a drag, almost a waste of TIME, IMHO.


DMG 2:22 PM  

Thought the puns were kind of cute, and they actually helped me finish the solve, so no complaints there.The only thing I could recall about Julie London was that she had long hair, and maybe was Mrs. Jack Webb at some point. so needed the puns and a few crosses for that one. My hold-up was "onkp" which had to give way to PEZ. Also briefly toyed with Eliz for the puzzling royal, but it seemed way to informal. On the other hand QEII is not exactly respectful sounding for the lady, not the ship. all in all, enjoyed this one.

963 Hey!

rain forest 2:47 PM  

Well, I'm in the camp of those who found this creative and enjoyable. I knew the 2 RIVERs would irritate some, but it didn't bother me.

Last week a played poker with the guys and on one hand a fella says, "I got ace-high", and the other says, "too bad, I got A PAIR". True story.
I'd have more to say, but I know you don't give A RIP (common around here).

Ginger 6:02 PM  

Liked it. Probably because it skewed older. CRYMEARIVER, went right in with no crosses. I remember slow dancing to it as a teenager. Thought the other pairs were fun, especially GOBITWEEN/GOBETWEEN. Thanks Adam

KariSeattle 9:02 PM  

I liked this one, and no googling ! Had MRI test vs scan at first but got Paris ale so prep followed. I also had never heard of a movie theater named Ritz, but just bought those crackers to go with shrimp dip for Super Bowl party. : ) Go Hawks!!!!

strayling 10:18 PM  

It isn't often I enjoy a puzzle enough to say so here. The playfulness of the theme more than made up for the obscurity of some of the answers. More please!

strayling 10:22 PM  

PILL is short for "pillock". Possibly more a UK slang term than USian.

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