Psychiatry writer R.D. / THU 4-9-15 / Brown-eared comics character / Against a thing legally / They say it in Spain in old Andrews Sisters hit / Part of FIOS / Tryptophan leucine / Tiny adjustment to atomic clock / Andean article

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: That "Who's on First" routine from a million years ago—maybe … Abbot and Costello?? [checking…] Yes, correct — Who's on first, what's on second, I don't know's on third (thus: "who" "what" and "I don't know" are rebused in the Across squares, and "first" "second" and "third" in the same squares, respectively, heading Down);
  • BASES (63A: Contents of three squares in this puzzle, per an old comedy routine)

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: Frank LLOYD (15D: Frank ___, two-time Best Director Oscar winner) —
Frank William George Lloyd (2 February 1886 – 10 August 1960) was a Scottish Americanfilm director, scriptwriter and producer. Lloyd was among the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and its president between 1934 and 1935.
Lloyd was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of a Scottish mother, Jane, and a Welsh father, Edmund Lloyd. He is Scotland's first Academy Award winner and is unique in film history having received three Oscar nominations in 1929 for his work on a silent film (The Divine Lady), a part-talkie (Weary River) and a full talkie (Drag). He won for The Divine Lady. He was nominated and won again in 1933 for his adaptation of Noël Coward's Cavalcade and received a further Best Director nomination in 1935 for perhaps his most successful film, Mutiny on the Bounty. (wikipedia)
• • •

"Old comedy routine"—three words to set the young solver's heart aflutter. The routine in question was, in fact, quite famous, but there's going to be a very clear generational divide today, with this thing likely titillating the retired set and likely proving somewhat of a drag (if not a total mystery) to younger solvers. I was stuck in a kind of no man's land, remembering very well "Who's on first …" but being less sure of "What's on second…" and not at all sure what the hell was on third (the fact that it's "I don't know" = apt!). Combine the tricky concept with the datedness of the concept (and fill) and the mostly hard cluing, and you've got a puzzle that, for me, was very challenging (as Thursdays go). Double my normal Thursday time. The whole middle threatened not to open up at all, partly because I stupidly thought the longer answer (which ended up being BLUE PENCIL), not the central answer, would be the themer. Also, I had ---IONARY and still couldn't figure out the [Roman soldier] (LEGIONARY). EASY TARGET, yeesh! (40A: It gets more than its fair share of jokes)—needed every cross and am still not sure I get how "gets" is being used there. Tortured cluing. Also, I've never ever ever heard of PETE ROUSE and am not even certain that his name's not PETER OUSE. Let me check... Hmm, looks like ROUSE, not OUSE. Also Looks Like He Was Only *Interim* Chief of Staff And Only For Three Months WTF!?!? The bar for crossworthiness is somewhere near floor-level today, I guess. Wow.

[Not first or second or third] 

Ah, who can forget Frank LLOYD? I mean, besides me, who? He's 2/3 of an architect! He won Oscars for directing "The Divine Lady" and "Cavalcade". How could I, or anyone, not know that?! Those are (probably, to someone) classics! I'm feigning enthusiasm! Hurray, sarcasm! It's one thing to have your core concept be old—that's not a bad thing (though expecting current common knowledge of this particular routine to run deep might be a bad thing). But to have the rest of your puzzle run old and (often) clunky … that's a problem. There's nothing fresh about this puzzle. It's cultural center of gravity is decades and decades ago. There are some brave attempts to freshen things up with the clues on LATTE (18A: Iced ___) and OPTIC (6D: Part of FiOS), but it's pretty old-fashioned, overall. To be fair, though, the theme type is pretty contemporary—the split Across/Down square concept is not original, but this iteration is clever and conceptually up-to-date. There's just a combination of hard and stale that makes this one feel like a zombie puzzle, risen from the Maleska era. Again, some will enjoy that. I mean, the Andrews Sisters?! Come on, man. Why so aggressively olden? Can't you meet me halfway? You don't have to come all the way forward to Scissor Sisters. I'd settle for Pointer Sisters.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:02 AM  

Frank Lloyd is 2/3 of an architect. Good one, Rex! Sure beats your normal complaining!

jae 12:12 AM  

Just about right for a Thurs.  A double rebus, some tough cluing, not much dreck.  Liked it a lot.  Medium-tough for me, but I'm a member of the retired set WHO knew that I DONT KNOW was on third.

I suspect I'm not the only one who had Capra (even though he won 3) before LLOYD (WHO @Rex was a WOE for me also, as was PETE ROUSE).

 Plus hone before WHET and LiNE (as in picket) before LANE (as in bowling). 

Finally, a puzzle with some teeth this week.

Moly Shu 12:14 AM  

Capra before LLOYD was a major hangup and I'll admit that I had no idea what the AAA tower is or where it's located or how tall it is. I almost googled it and then, dopeslap, tower,as in towing cars. Agree with @Rex on the LLOYD and PETEROUSE obscurity, and with the difficult for a thurs. I kept getting confused with the WHO/FIRST and WHAT/ SECOND shared squares. Which one went across which one went down. Major struggle. I got the IDONTKNOW/THIRD combo first and that helped with the theme, but I still had trouble locating the others. I really liked it.

wreck 12:15 AM  

I knew from the revealer clue exactly where the puzzle was going, but still struggled with rebus placements. It was challenging, but a pretty good puzzle despite a few pretty dated entries. Thumbs up from me!

John Child 12:21 AM  

Well @Nancy, we got our wish! Saturday time, two cheats, and still one error. That makes up for the "all too easy" M-T-W puzzles!

I would have done better if I'd seen BASES earlier, but NIB, IN REM, UNA, and NUEVO put up a lot of resistance.

I wonder how many of the challenging clues were Mr. Stulberg's (he, BTW, looks from his photo to be clearly in the "younger" generation) and how many were WS's. The constructor notes at wordplay or xwordinfo are quite interesting despite not revealing that bit if information.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

Tough. It took a while to figure out the theme. Lots of words I knew but didn't know I knew. Got stuck in the east section and that was the last to fall. "F on a test" was a great puzzle question.

Agreed with Rex about the fill. Definitely skewed old.

Doubt there will be any bragging about times today!


Whirred Whacks 12:32 AM  

Challenging indeed. Got the BASES-rebus concept early on, but the clueing made the solve a grind.

Like @Moly, I had CAPRA before LLOYD. Turns out that Capra won 3 best director Oscars.

@Steve J: I've been curious about the photo used in your avatar. I assume it's you. What was the occasion? Were you having a good time (looks like it)? Is there more back story?

@Nancy: I enjoyed your Herb Caen story from 1962!

Steve J 12:56 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 1:01 AM  

Thought this was an excellent puzzle, even with its (potentially) having a couple problems.

The theme was great and greatly executed. And, yes, Abbot and Costello debuted the bit in the 1930s, but it's also one of the most famous bits in the history of comedy. It's not obscure to younger people like, say, the Andrews Sisters. I'm in my 40s, and I've known it since I was a kid. I'll hardly be surprised if a good number of 20- and 30-somethings are familiar with it as well.

The couple potential problems I noted with this one were in the SE. It seems more common these days that calling someone needy or referring to NEEDINESS is a reference to their being emotionally clingy. I wanted NEEDfulNESS in that slot. Or maybe it's just me who thought clue and answer didn't quite fit in tone.

Bigger problem, and my downfall, was the NADIA/EDNA Natick. ELNA is also a woman's name (which anagrams to NEAL), and NALIA is also a woman's name. Needless to say, I guess the wrong letter in the cross.

Agreed that PETE ROUSE was hard to get. I keep pretty current on politics and major figures, and I'm completely unfamiliar with him (although, to my chagrin, I cannot name who is the current White House Chief of Staff. I thought of Bill Dailey, but he wasn't working with the crosses, and he also was after Rouse.

@Whirred: Yep, that's me. No occasion, other than out having drinks with friends.

chefwen 1:06 AM  

Tough but fun. Got the clue from HEAD FIRST and the boy WHO CRIED WOLF. Challenging was a understatement. Have no idea why, but the NW did me in and I ended up with a big fat DNF. Such a change from Mon - Wed puzzles, Friday and Saturday are scaring the liver out of me! Brace yourselves!

DebinSac 1:19 AM  

What could be better than to celebrate the beginning of the baseball season with a baseball rebus puzzle? I was slow to get the 1st, 2nd, 3rd base half of it, and even slower to realize the Who's on First routine factored in. Really liked this one, despite never having heard of people like Pete Rouse (who I thought was Peter Ouse).

andrew 1:44 AM  

and HOW's OUT (of luck) at HOME, wondering how to fill in the rebus squares on his iPad to get the CONGRATULATIONS! and keep the consecutive day (winning) streak alive... can anyone give an ASSIST in helping me turn this 3 square DOUBLE PLAY?

John Child 1:58 AM  

FIRST, SECOND, THIRD in the rebus boxes worked for me @Andrew.

Vladdrac 2:01 AM  

I liked this one a lot, even as a "younger solver". I'm also a baseball fanatic though, so this one was, to use some baseball jargon, in my wheelhouse.

George Barany 3:14 AM  

I came to this puzzle by @Jacob Stulberg with high anticipation, based on an enthusiastic e-mail from my friend @Brent Hartzell who wrote: "You may enjoy this one more than any you've solved." My excitement ramped up another notch after receiving an e-mail alert from @Hayley Gold announcing this Thursday puzzle as the subject of her webcomic for the week. I vowed to myself, no spoilers, no googles, charge right in ...

Was I ever rewarded! 11-Down: "Tryptophan or leucine." Bingo: AMINO_ACID! The classic Abbott and Costello shtick (click on the link!) A reference to Minnesota's WNBA franchise, the LYNX (though clued orthogonally in 64-Across)! One of my favorite Hollywood directors, Frank CAPRA! What's not to like?

Curious location for the reveal. The NYT applet would not accept 1,2, or 3 for the rebus. With all due respect, PETE_ROUSE (although that sets up one of @Hayley Gold's jokes). Frank LLOYD (although that sets up @Rex's wonderful 2/3 of an architect line).

In summary, nifty theme idea that inspired evocative associations and stimulated the humor and creativity of the blogosphere. Looking forward to more ...

MDMA 3:55 AM  

@Steve J,

"Elna" is not a name I've ever heard of, while Edna is merely old-fashioned. Likewise, never heard of "Nalia" and in any case this would not be a Slavic name that goes with Petrova. This may be your own personal Natick but maybe you were just overthinking it.

Like @WhirredWhacks, I got the theme early (from "_RAIL" needing THIRD as a rebus, even before getting BASES) but the clues made it tough, though only at first.

This was one of those puzzles where you begin quite slowly but then it just starts to flow smoothly and the solving speed increases steadily until the end, without getting stuck anywhere. The most satisfying kind. "Peter Ouse" was the last to go.

GILL I. 5:04 AM  

Even though I needed help with Google (LLOYD, PETE ROUSE, AHMED) I thought this was one of the best Thursday's in a long time. This is how they should be.....
I got my first base with the babies clue. Yikes, the things that went through my mind....painful as hell, get this sucker out, oh god, I'm going to die. Instead, it was Abbott and Costello who made me laugh. Epidural, ladies...
I thought ODIE had black ears.
I'm a happy Thursday camper Jacob...Thank you!

Z 5:05 AM  

It's the clueing that makes this feel so dated. Dame EDNA anyone? Andrew LLOYD Webber, LLOYD Bentsen (if you want An the obscure politician mini theme), or LLOYD Carr are all more familiar to me (and two are still alive). I had to look up RD LAING post solve. It looks like he was well known in the sixties. WOE here. Heck, Garfield's buddie ODIE is 37 years old, pretty damn old for a dog.

NEEDINESS took every cross, for much the same reason @Steve J mentioned, which made that DEAN anagram, not Ivana Petrova corner tough. In fact, having grown up pretty poor I never felt particularly needy at all. Yep, pretty damn condescending notion, there, now that I think about it. In my experience it's often rich people who are neediest, I "need" this big house, I "need" this Hummer, I "need, need, need." I must admit, I do avoid the needy, I have little patience for them.

Danp 6:17 AM  

Those who were thinking Peter Ouse were probably trying to come up with Peter Orzag. He was OMB but seemed higher-profile for a while.

John Child 6:40 AM  

Well said Z. I now live in a country where the average income is one-twentieth of the US. GUESS WHAT: people are happier here than anywhere I've ever been.

One of the richest people I've ever known was a perpetual sad sack. He didn't like his luxury waterfront condo, he and the wife hated their nine-month-old Mercedes and couldn't wait for the new model year, and on and on. I worked for him, so I accepted that listening to this and feining sympathy was part of the job. In retrospect I think that experience was part of what motivated me to become an expat.

I believe that people are happy or unhappy not based on their circumstances but by how their circumstances and expectations match. Western consumer culture teaches us to need, and thus to be unhappy. As my rich boss showed my by example, "needs" are a bottomless pit.

/rant off

Three and out.

Anonymous 6:44 AM  

Although I agree with Rex about most of the obscurities in this puzzle, I weep that "Who's On First" could be considered at all obscure by any living American. I wasn't around when the routine first came out, but it's just as much a part of my cultural upbringing as the Three Stooges, W.C Fields, Lucille Ball, Little Rascals and other seminal comedy classics.

I think I'm only a couple of years older than Rex, but his comments really made me feel old today...

grammar nazi 7:33 AM  

@Gill I: PLEASE don't use an apostrophe to pluralize a day of the week. "Thursdays" will do just fine.

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

My high school kids and I bantered lines from "Who's on first" as soon as I got the theme. Great comedy should be timeless.

My favorite though was AAA ... certainly my favorite, and only, tower.

Name that tune 7:52 AM  

This was an amazing feat of puzzle construction, with a theme befitting the start of the baseball season this week and incredibly little bad fill. However, rather than praise the mastery of the construction or the timeliness of the theme, I will instead place my one very small item of praise ("contemporary theme type,") almost as an afterthought at the end of my rant, and I will resort to many of my myriad greatest hits to insult the puzzle and the constructor. Here are but a few (I paraphrase): "Dated concept." "I am too smart for this puzzle." "Tortured cluing." "Obscure references." "Clunky." "Old fashioned (again)." "From the Maleska era." "Aggressively olden." I will repeat "this is an old-type puzzle" ad nauseum, because I feel that repeating oneself over and over and over is the best way to make a point. (Basically, if a puzzle doesn't reference things that I have direct knowledge of because they occurred when I was between the ages of 20 and 40, then it is either "trying too hard to be to hip" or it is "ancient and obscure.")
Sure, most solvers will find that this was one of the best puzzles in a very long time; however, I, Rex Porker, know better.

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

Up-to-dateness is certainly one criterion of crossword criticism, but I don't think it's first or second or even fifth on the list, despite the frequency with which Rex employs it. This was a spectacular puzzle, I submit, based on its balance of breadth, depth and intertextuality. I'd give some points for getting from an ancient fable (high brow) to hair removal (no brow!), certainly. I'm still more impressed that Stulberg packed so many related clues on so many topics into one puzzle: The Bible gets three, one of them tricky, languages get five (Sp., Fr., and De!), sports get tennis (x 2), sailing and bowling and athletic gear. Science shares one with the Bible, at least etymologically, and references organic chemistry, nuclear physics, astronomy, entomology and the atomic clock! Animals? Three, plus that damn ODIE, the dog who won't die. Law? Three! There are even three ancient culture references -- Greek, Roman and Arabic -- or are the Arabian Nights really Persian?
The clues have a broad range, too, the idiom to the red herring to the pun to the erudite. I get the sense that a lawyer or scientist would enjoy the presentation as much as those of us struggling to remember high-school chemistry perhaps did. And those horrible old clues Rex is so mad about are actually brain games: If you can't get LLOYD when you have a name with two "Ls" in it, or if you have to know the song to realize that SISI is likely, you probably don't much like crosswords, anyhow.
There's a "lady doth protest too much" quality to the charge that crosswords are dated. It's nice to think that solvers are more likely to know Nas' Illmatic than Abbott and Costello, but that seems unlikely; one pictures Will Shortz advising a puzzlemaker to scroll through the artist lists at to up their "street cred" score. "Hart, like Moss or Gary?" "No, heart, as in 'gist'." It's a nerdy pastime, definitionally, and pretending that 20-somethings who don't know "Who's On First?" are among us is but wishful thinking!
It's among my favorites, for sure. The kicker for me: I was very wary when "Indian" appeared in a clue, since I really care about the Washington football team horror show. And I suspected that tomtom was some kind of "noble savage" drum reference -- uh oh! A quick google comes up with the real origin, on the Indian sub-continent -- and so knowledge triumphs over the stereotype, and hurray!

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

Anon @ 0757--when Rex gets promoted to NYT crossword editor (heaven forfend!) you should take over his blog. Yours was an awesome write-up of an awesome puzzle. Thanks for your insightful analysis, and for giving this wonderful puzzle its due after Rex's gratuitous trashing. You and Porker nailed it this morning.

r.alphbunker 8:26 AM  

Loved this puzzle and loved hearing Abbot and Costello do it again.

Found a Spanish translation of it:

joho 8:26 AM  

Wow. Just wow. I thought @Rex would heap tons of praise on this brilliant Thursday rebus!

I got it at TELLMESOMETHING(IDONTKKNOW) ... a great, fresh "in the language" phrase that I never expected to see in a puzzle. (THIRD)RAIL was also a gimme so that rebus square was an easy tip off to the rest of the answers ... which weren't so easy, but so much fun to figure out.

I'd say the theme is "timeless" not old. Classic.

Loved the clues for LETS and FALSE.

Loved, loved, loved this puzzle. Thank you, Jacob Stulberg!

jberg 8:28 AM  

Hey, I'm no lawyer, but doesn't IN REM mean 'in the matter of?' At least, IN is Latin for 'in,' not for 'against.' ad REM would be closer -- but fortunately, I'm old enough to remember when a pen had a NIB.

Other than that, and doubting whether OMNI-science is a thing, i really enjoyed this tough puzzle.

Biggest hangup: no idea what leucine was, but I know tryptophan, so I wrote in 'soporific.' Nice misdirect!

Dorothy Biggs 8:30 AM  

@John Child: well stated. I'm a musician who "gets by" and by many standards I'm considered unsuccessful because I don't live in a big house and drive a brand new Lexus/Mercedes/BMW. But what's success? I'm doing a job that I love, I eat, I'm covered by a roof every night. Yet I am bombarded daily on the radio, on TV, on the internet with messages that tell me I need more...a new house, a new car, diamonds for my SO, etc. Capitalism doesn't work without we chase the tail endlessly.

As for the puzzle, the Abbot and Costello schtick was very well known to me. I'm 55, but the bit was old when I learned it. As for its place in modern culture, no matter how funny the word play is, the delivery is old timey and my kids lose interest in it once they figure out what's going on. Costello's frustration is hilarious to the 1930s crowd, but to a modern sensibility, it becomes annoying. So it's no surprise that the schtick is not well known to many and is in danger of fading away into the ether.

Hey, Twelfth Night is funny when you know what the typical Elizabethan thought was funny, but, for the most part, it just isn't funny today. It's quaint, and a high school audience will titter at the jokes, but they rarely, if ever, laugh out loud the way the original audiences did. Humor, like all art, comes and goes in and out of style. We're in the era of Vine humor now which is even making some of the early 2000s YouTube humor passé.

For what it's worth, I thought the puzzle was easily gettable. It was challenging in places, but for most of the proper nouns that were obscure, I got them on the crosses. I certainly filled in the rebuses quickly.

I had Capra crossing Caine (Biblical outcast) so that Minnesota area took a while to untangle.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Ok, can one of you geniuses explain to me why "peg" = THROW?

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Not sure I quite qualify as a "genius," but PEG can be a verb meaning to throw a ball. I think it comes from baseball, but I'm not sure. "He pegged the runner out at third"

DShawMaine 8:52 AM  

I loved this puzzle - a Thursday finish, a clever rebus, some tough clues, 3 cups of coffee - happy happy happy.

Rhino 8:54 AM  

I really wanted the bases to be in more of a diamond pattern.

There is no one solving a nyt Thursday puzzle who has not heard 'Who's on first?'

I cheated on my wife in a dream last night and made the mistake this morning of telling her.

Name that tune 9:02 AM  

@Rhino that's funny, because I cheated WITH your wife last night. I hope she didn't make the mistake of telling YOU!


Mohair Sam 9:04 AM  

This was a brilliant Thursday puzzle. Impossible at first, then a few guesses filled a few spaces, then understood the theme/rebus, and then worked steadily to a finish. Perfect puzzling experience.

Rex's review today reminds me of why I come to this blog less and less. "Who's on First" may be the most famous comedy routine ever. How the heck can Rex call it dated because it was conceived before his birth? Maybe we should ban Shakespeare references as not "fresh" enough. "Who's" is constantly in the media at the start of every baseball season and the line "Who's on first" draws a smile from kids of all ages.

Whiel I'm at it - maybe our coming up empty on the name of a former chief of Staff of a sitting President is our problem, not that of Will Shortz. I'm embarrassed that I had to get most of the crosses before remembering PETEROUSE - Rex and others prefer to consider the man obscure. Hmmm, maybe the fault is in the beholder.

End of rant, I can never state the case as well as did @Anon 7:57.

One of the best Thursday puzzles ever - fun and timely theme, unusual rebus, several clever clues (tower the best), and challenging. Thanks Jacob Stulberg and Will.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Thanks anon @ 8:42: In that case though, wouldn't "peg" by a synonym for "throw out," rather than THROW?

RnRGhost57 9:15 AM  

@Evil Doug, even funnier, my wife and I had a three-way with your wife last night.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

I wonder if this might finally be the day that all of the blind "defenders of Rex" realize how full of crap he is? Alas, I suppose not.

Nancy 9:21 AM  

Oh happiness, oh bliss, a rebus! Yes @John Child, it does make up for the last 3 days. Because it was an especially good rebus. Like you and @joho and @r.alphbunker and @GILL, I loved it and had a wonderful time solving it (or almost solving it.) For the life of me, I couldn't remember who was on 3rd base. First I thought it was "Why" or "Where", but that made no sense at all. Then I remembered it wasn't a word but a phrase and that that phrase had been the joke's final kicker. But I still couldn't remember. Finally I came here and saw TELL ME SOMETHING/I DON'T KNOW and I thought: How brilliant is that!

I got the theme at the first long answer: THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF/HEAD 1st, but I still had a lot of writeovers. My puzzle today looks like a hot mess and I would not win the Neatness Award at any puzzle tournament. Wanted HONE before WHET; NANO before OMNI, ID EST before I REST; AD REM before IN REM; GINZU before GINSU and YEARN before MOURN. But eventually got everything except I DON'T KNOW. Have I said how much I love it?

@Bob K -- thanks for yesterday's heads up. I've already sent my check in and I'll look for you there. @Whirred -- glad you liked the Caen story. Thanks for letting me know.

Name that tune 9:25 AM  

Now RnRGhost57, why would you ruin a perfectly good night by inviting my wife along?


chefbea 9:26 AM  

Great puzzle!! I remember the routine...I am old enough,,but still couldn't Finnish the puzzle. Had to google a lot.

Just got the AAA answer. Kept trying to think what the Eifel Tower was called!!

Name that tune 9:28 AM  

@Nancy, if you're not sure who's on third base, you may have possibly had too much to drink. You should at least know his first name.


Big Steve 46 9:41 AM  

This puzzle was the perfect excuse for me to ruminate on the eternal geezer vs. hipster discussion. Should the puzzles accommodate us (geezers) with old show bizz stuff, HOF baseball players, etc., and hold on to what I suspect is the core of the current solvers; or try to march boldly into the future with assorted hipster stuff (rap groups, i-phone apps and the like) and attract a new generation?

One thing I think would help to close the gap a little would be for constructors to avoid - to the greatest extent possible - proper and, especially, brand names. It seems the better constructors do that already. It always seems somewhat low-class to have product names in the NYT puzzle. The other factor would be for solvers to forget any moral, ethical or political correctness or incorrectness in the fill. They are just words. This is not the ed or op-ed page: your success is based on putting the exact same letter in each box as the creator intended. (This will not work for that increasingly large segment of the population that I call "the perpetually outraged," but you guys might be better off sticking to the Ken-Ken.)

And that - as old TV cop Beretta used to say - is the name of that tune!

My 2-cents for the day ...

Nancy 9:43 AM  

Good one, @Evil!

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Y'all remember now that the real Evil Doug hasn't been here for months...

Blue Stater 9:50 AM  

A complete, utter waste of time. I don't often quarrel with Rex, but Eugene Maleska would never have published a piece of junk like this.

Steve M 9:50 AM  

Oy vey

Don McBrien 9:52 AM  

I agree with those above on the timelessness of the Who's on First routine. That's classic American culture -- Smithsonian type material if it's not already. It transcends generations.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 9:54 AM  

@63: Found a copy of that "Hudson Hawk" flick at the used dvd store for $1.99.

Today's constructioneer appears to be pretty young; yet he sure knew all about who's on first. So, theme seems all around fair.
fave A & C flick: "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein".

Gained entry with ACNE (tho feared it might be ZITS), INANE. Then OAT/RAD. Then CELEBRITY.

Finished many moons later at UNA/INREM. Man, this here rodeo was one of them feisty puzs with the horns and all. Had to do a lot of probing into some questionable areas with a long, rusty guess or two. Those clues. Day-um. Those darn clues tried to get away with everything they could. But, hey -- they did tell yah up front it was gonna be a "puzzle"...

Notice that the middle themer is 6 long. GUESS(2nd)WHAT that means. yep. Grid is 16 x 15. More challenge for yer bitecoin.

PETEROUSE: What? Pete Rose with a U. Like.
NADIA Petrova: I Don't Know.
BURNS: Know this guy. Didn't he also write "ERE"?
EDNA: Cool clue that tries hard to offer as little help as possible.
SAUL: Anagrams to a gal's name and a U. Like.

Quite a puz. Darn near Legionary.


** gruntz **

Bob Kerfuffle 9:56 AM  

In the words of @chefwen, tough but fun.

One write-over:60 A, AD REM before IN REM.

@jberg, in case you weren't kidding:

[om-nish-uh ns]

1.the quality or state of being omniscient.
2.infinite knowledge.
3.(initial capital letter) God.

(And the fourth, unlisted meaning: A necessary quality for being a crossword blogger.)

mathguy 10:01 AM  

Great puzzle, great comments.

I got the gimmick at 52D, THIRDRAIL. That led me to search for FIRST and SECOND in symmetric positions. To no avail. Too bad that the three bases were almost in a straight line.

Even at 80, I don't know the lyrics to Andrew Sisters songs.

Wasn't the inspiration for "Who's on First" in the Odyssey? Odysseus fools a monster with similar wordplay.

@John Child: Thanks for your thoughts on happiness.

@NCA President: I've tried to find the humor in Shakespeare's comedies. But my sense of humor is unorthodox. Last night we saw Tammy, the recent Melissa McCarthy comedy. It was universally panned, but The Closer and I loved it.

Charles Flaster 10:04 AM  

DNF as I naticked at 15 across and down.
F on a test was a no- no in my class-- had to write out the word. Eventually gave ASN tests-- always , sometimes, never.
Puzzle was magnificent but proper names were not in my wheelhouse. Abbott and Costello are in baseball HOF.
Liked cluing for SAT IDLE, THROW, EASY TARGET and STEED.
Thanks JS.

Mike 10:05 AM  

Porker, that was a great post! I'm still laughing. The only question I have is why you and I are still here reading this negative, rant-filled vainglorious blog. Is it we just can't avert our eyes from a train wreck?

AnnieD 10:06 AM  

What a terrific puzzle! Loved the rebus and, though I got it reasonably early, still struggled with many of the corners with the cluing. BLIND before HEADFIRST, STOODBY before SATIDLE, STAGE before PHASE, CAPRA before LLOYD. Finally got it all, but no happy pencil!?! It's LYNX not LiNX. Doh!

I thought Rex would be delighted at the lack of junk in this puzzle, but instead he latches on to the references to the past. I guess he's not happy unless he's crankin' about somethin'. Or perhaps he's just unhappy because it blew his Thurs average time. Let it go, Rex and enjoy for a change.

As I've gotten older, my disdain for old things has really waned. When I was growing up, it was, "Don't trust anyone over 30." Now, for me, it's quite the reverse. In fact, as I get older, the decades past remain close. Only now is 80s seeming awhile ago, while the 90s are still quite recent. I appreciated the recollections this puzz triggered...of my brother and I as children dancing and singing to the Andrew Sister's ...or how my father laughed so heartily at Abbott & Costello shows. Thanks for a fine puzzle, Mr. Stulberg.

Lewis 10:08 AM  

I found the puzzle to be difficult, but eventually do-able, and so I loved having a successful struggle. Had no idea what was on third base. I was thinking the answer should be "TELLMESOMETHINGnew" and was totally confused. But I did suss the theme soon enough, and by dribs and drabs, solved the puzzle, and doing that felt very good.

Rex, you love it when a puzzle is in your wheelhouse, and when it is, you never say "The constructor should have met the older solvers halfway," so it sounds hypocritical to say that this constructor should have met you halfway. And, I don't believe any of the posters here so far have agreed that the puzzle was unfairly skewed old. I do agree that PETEROUSE isn't crossworthy, even if the crosses were fair.

@leapy -- on 22D I was hoping the last letter rebus would be "finger"!

@anon 7:57 -- excellent post.

I loved the clues for NOSE, CEL, AAA, and LEVEE, and I think the execution of the theme is so good that it's a worthy tribute to such a classic routine.

Lewis 10:47 AM  

Factoid: There is no pumpkin in the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice LATTE.

Quotoid: "Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent." -- R. D. LAING

Steve J 10:47 AM  

@MDMA: Elna's out there in the ether. Looking it up, it's Scandinavian in origin. I wonder if I encountered it growing up in Minnesota. Also from looking it up, it also appears to be even more archaic than Edna; Elna appears to have peaked in the late 19th century. And, yes, Nalia doesn't sound Slavic. So this definitely could have just been my personal Natick. Still, crossing two uncommon proper names is a bit dodgy.

Regarding the "freshness" issue: I like my puzzles to have things I haven't seen before, or things that I don't see often. A lot of times that means relatively contemporary references or phrases, but it doesn't have to specifically.

But that's an issue of taste, not of quality. It's worth pointing out when something skews too far one way or another, but it's not worth dismissing an entire puzzle because the references weren't in your wheelhouse. The bigger question is if everything was still gettable. I didn't know Frank LLOYD, but that answer was definitely gettable from crosses. I couldn't name an Andrews Sister, an Andrews Sister song (unless they did "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy") or an Andrews Sister lyric, but 62A was also quite gettable. Etc.

I expect different puzzles to hit different sweet spots. Sometimes they'll hit mine. Sometimes they'll hit someone else's. That doesn't make it a bad puzzle.

And I hope everyone complaining about Rex dismissing the puzzle because it skews old (a correct criticism of his critique, in my opinion) remembers that the next time they're inclined to complain about a puzzle having too much pop culture.

dk 10:52 AM  

🌕🌕🌕🌕 (4 mOOOOns)

Almost retired set here.

Alas there is a 23a to some of todays comments. A focus on an 40a or two that all leave me with a feeling of 46a.

A lot in this puzzle to 37a one's puzzle solving skills.

My 34a moment was changing manx to LYNX.

Hey Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn or get shot… and take that damn dog with you.

I may not be a robot but I am a curmudgeon (small town version of 35d).

Rug Crazy 11:06 AM  

I agree - great joke, Rex

(2/3 architect)

Polonius 11:10 AM  

Bog Steve @ 9:41--
Nice rant. Every area of the arts and creativity has this battle, as do religious institutions. How do we satisfy the traditionalists but not completely lose our audience as they die off of old age? Do we, as an orchestra, have "fun" concerts where the conductor jokes with the audience and the musicians wear bright colors? Does the priest pick up a guitar?
The answer is surprisingly simple: 1) try to present a variety of programming (puzzles) so there's something for everyone. 2) Most importantly--Kkow that you are going to thrill some people and you are going to piss off some people regardless of what you do. Therefore, (to paraphrase the Bard) be true to your art as you see it. That means make what you think is a good puzzle, or concert, or sermon, or painting. Let your audience do what they will with it.

grammar nazi 11:16 AM  

People, once and for all: They are "The Andrews Sisters." LaVerne, Patty, and Maxene Andrews. They are not the Andrew Sisters (mathguy), nor the Andrew Sister's (AnnieD), nor the Andrews Sister (Steve J). I realize that this is only partially a grammatical point, but why not have the courtesy and respect to call them by their correct name?

Steve J 11:20 AM  

@grammar nazi: Why not have the good sense to recognize the difference between typos and misuse?

AliasZ 11:22 AM  

Yesterday I asked for a robust rebussed puzzle. GUESS WHAT: I got it. Very clever, Jacob Stulberg, the plethora of obscure-at-best names like PETER OUSE, R. D. LAING (who?), LLOYD Nolan, EDNA St. Vincent Millay and NADIA Comaneci notwithstanding.

HEADFIRST gave away the theme, simply because ass FIRST would have been a breech of protocol.

Jack SPRIT could eat no grit,
His wife didn't eat, she barfed,
And so between them both, you see,
They didn't survive. They starved.

When I hear someone say "I DON'T KNOW" I always interject: "THIRD BASE." This is how ingrained this classic A&C routine has become. My coworkers must hate me.

I read with great interest the comments about the rich, and how much they deserve everyone's scorn. It reminds me of reading one of the many pamphlets written by Lenin in post-1917 Russia, or a GEM from "The Collected Speeches of Chairman Mao." I, for one, aim to get rich only to find out what it feels like to be an EASY TARGET and NOT GIVE A DARN (shortstop).

@Leapy, I hope you'll LEAP in for a LEAP SECOND to say hi.

Here is some dreamy Erik SATIDLE.

Enjoy your day.

grammar nazi 11:25 AM  

@Steve J: Is it really a typo?! What a strange coincidence that you typed it incorrectly the exact same way three times!

Andrea 11:26 AM  

I grew up in Mexico and am about the same age as Rex, and still know the famous "who's on first" routine. They even tried to create a Spanish language version of it, to not such hilarious results, obviously (tell me something I don't know). So I did enjoy this puzzle quite, even with all the old fashion stuff (which I prefer a million times over sports trivia), though I must side with Rex also in the "meet me halfway" argument.

Nancy 11:26 AM  

A few more thoughts, generated by today's comments:

@NCA Pres & @mathguy: I've felt like a Philistine for years because I don't find Shakespeare's comedies especially funny. (I'll make an exception for "Taming of the Shrew," but that's probably because of "Kiss Me Kate.") Anyway, thanks for making me feel better about my blind spot.

Like others, I found Anon 7:57's post to be insightful, interesting, and well-written. Missed it the first time around because I often skim by the Anons. You can't read everything.

Speaking of not reading everything, I'm in the habit of skipping Rex completely. I don't consciously think about it; my fingers just automatically scroll past. Today, because of all the comments saying that Rex had criticized this terrific puzzle, my thought was: HE DID??? REALLY??? WHY??? So I read him. And after I read him, I thought: Today's blog illustrates in a nutshell why I don't read him. And I do believe I'm a happier person for it.

Noam D. Elkies 11:29 AM  

Andrews, Pointer, Scissor, whatever. A feh (or fico) on all their houses. Weird Sisters (isn't Rex an English lit. prof?). And if you can't wean yourself of the compulsion to "modernize" the clues you could write something like "Yule Ball 1994 band named for a Shakespearean trio".

Carola 11:36 AM  

I'm with those who found it challenging, loved it, caught on at THIRD RAIL, thought Capra before LLOYD, had manX before LYNX. Lots to like apart from the theme - EASY TARGET, LEGIONARY, BLUE PENCIL, TOMTOMS, and some tricky clues. Thought the whole thing was RAD.

Thank you @jae for explaining bowling and @Moly Shu for towing. @Z - Interesting about the meaning of NEEDINESS shifting away from poverty; I got that answer right away, perhaps from reading about the New York Times Neediest Cases for years.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

yeesh, my first pass and i had written in OAT and that's it although i suspected 52 down was 3rd rail. lot of tough clues.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Maybe, just maybe, it is you who are full of scrap.

nick 11:54 AM  

Wow. Really? If the nyt is in the business of persuading its readers that crosswords are musty old relics, then well done. Kinda hated this one from start to finish, not because it was tough, which I love and welcome, but because of all the cobwebs.

Master Melvin 12:16 PM  

Wonderful puzzle.

@Don McBrien: I don't know whether the routine is in the Smithsonian, but it is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. At least it was last time I was there.

Steve J 12:20 PM  

@grammar nazi: The other examples you noted were arguably typos. Mine was sloppy writing: the first singular was correct, and I didn't switch to the plural for the others.

More to the point, your constant pouncing on the slightest flubs is tiresome. This is a casual setting, not a formal publication. As long as people are understandable, it's needlessly fussy (to be kind) to call out every slip.

GILL I. 12:22 PM  

@Andrea Ojeda....I remember that Spanish episode "Quien Esta en Primera." I think it was on Siempre en Domingo or some such. It was a miserable groan inducing failure. The worst part was the canned laughter. Abbott and Costello on the other hand....
@Grammar Nazi....Thank you for the lesson. Now I'm in mourning. I love apostrophes; I live for them, I apostrophe as much as I can...[sigh] Whats will I do?

RooMonster 12:27 PM  

Hey All!
Happy @Rex called it Challenging, cause I just couldn't seem to get a toehold! The funny thing is I figured out the theme before anything else! Had NIB & LEVEE in the SW, read revealer clue, said might be bases, then looked back at 5D, said HEAD FIRST! , then decided BASES must be right, it's the Abbott & Costello routine! Thought 22D was nano SECOND, then went looking for the 3rd, found it at THIRD rail. Then pretty much the rest of the puzzle was all white squares for near an hour! I just couldn't get anything. Not much sleep last night, I blamed it on! Had to break down ang Goog FiOS, had OuTer, thinking (something) in Outer Space! Didn't help I was reading 16A for 15A, finally decided my LATTE & ODIE was correct, which got me LLOYD, managed to finally see CELEBRITY, which gave me Aesops fable, with the WHO sharing the FIRSTs square, and finally the Lightbulb Aha moment. Holy moly.

Lots of wrongness and writeovers in the NE. It looks like a pen exploded up there.
nano-LEAP, StooDby-SATIDLE, STAGE-Sacks-STAGE, because thinking GEM was kEy, IdEST-IREST. Wow. Also had to Goog to get SE, cause it just wasn't happenin down there. Nice misdirect on Veet. Who knew? I don't need either, my hair is going away on it's own!

After all that, did like the puz, apparently just had to jostle the brain with those few Googs. The IDONTKNOW/THIRD square is cool. Lots of misdirectional clues. The old tennis LET vs net. 41D, I was lile, who could the Cleveland Indians possibly beat all the time? :-) Sorry, Indian fans!


andrew 12:57 PM  

@John Child - thanks for answering my question - had tried that and various other rebus combos but nothing worked. Then checked out the grid - I had ERNA instead of EDNA (thinking Arne was the man's anagram - having lived in MN when Arne Carlson was governor - missed the Dean/Dane possibility for the more common EDNA). And agree with you on happiness - just came back from Dominican Republic - people friendly and happy just to be in the moment! Also agree with some of the posts - think Rex was too hard on this one - a challenging Thursday that was solvable and clever - ERNA/EDNA notwithstanding...

Leapfinger 1:18 PM  

@grammar nazi:
Whose on first
Whose on first
Whose on first

And a big ole kudo to Anony 0757!

Knew it was going to be a good 'un when [Bad marks in high school] was ACNE (which I knew imMEDiately). And it crossed INANE. (Hi @Blanche, are you out there?)

Like @Gil, HEAD FIRST was no sweat, as was getting the right Aesop's fable off the WO. Seeing how to make those two misfits fit... WHO onFIRST...ha! had the whole shebang flash and had me jumping up&down. Thought the work-in for THIRD BASE absolutely inspired, but forgive me for kvelling over LEAP SECOND. It's an honour and humbling to medal in this scenario, even if not taking the gold.(Yeah, I know, too much Chariots of Fire yesterday. @Lewis, you 're being a sweetie again).

If you want to see really dated:
Frank LLOYD knows my father,
Father knows Frank LLOYD.
Frank LLOYD knows my father,
Father knows Frank LLOYD.
Frank LLOYD knows my father,
Father knows Frank LLOYD.

Anyone who gets that is either really old, or a Brit, or specializes in alternate lyrics to "Onward Christian Soldiers".

RE SELLERS, I liked PETER best. There was something to Being There, IN REMembERRED BLUEPErs.

This was a stellar puzzle, for the many reasons of cleverness, novelty and range already given, and a delight to solve.

Jacob S, you're all WHET. You deserve to trade in that Stul for a Throne

ps to @John Child and co-panelists - Much of it boils down to blurring the lines between Need and Want. Complicated by 'planned obsolescence' becoming part of the culture. It's been shown that good health isn't CAUSE for happiness, while poor health does make SAD; seems wealth and [true] NEED are similar in that way. LETS not RAIL about it.

Howzzat, @AliasZ?

AZPETE 1:22 PM  

Thanks for explaining "tower". Only problem for me. Must be an old retired fart!

Jyqm 1:28 PM  

My my my. I know there are many folks around here who dislike OFL's curmudgeonly nature, but in some ways it's his increasingly ridiculous complaints that keep me coming back every day.

Are Frank LLOYD and PETEROUSE crossworthy? Maybe not, so fair enough. But bagging on an extremely clever and entertaining rebus theme because you personally happen to be less than familiar with perhaps the most famous comedy routine in American history? And then justifying your complaint by projecting your own ignorance onto half the solving population? That is some classic Rex Parker nonsense right there. I love it, I really do.

At any rate, this 32-year-old has long been a fan of that 80-year-old sketch, and I'm guessing plenty of other youngish solvers are, too. And for those who aren't, well, you learned about a classic bit of popular culture today, and isn't that one of the great joys of doing crossword puzzles?

Clark 1:31 PM  

@jberg -- IN REM is a kind of jurisdiction (compare in personam jurisdiction and quasi in rem jurisdiction) in which the court has power over a thing rather than a person. You know you are dealing with an in rem case when you see a case name like United States v. 11 1/4 Dozen Packages of Articles Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat's Shoo-Fly Powders for Drunkenness, 40 F. Supp. 208 (W D.N.Y. 1941).

AZPETE 1:34 PM  

Their bit is immortalized in the HOF.

grammar nazi 2:01 PM  

@ Steve J, that is what is so wonderful about the internet. You can write as lazily and sloppily as you want, call anybody by any name you want, and it doesn't matter. And I can call you on it. It is clear from your posts that ignorance, whether it be regarding the English language or to calling a singing group by their correct name, doesn't matter to you. It is also clear from your posts that you don't know what the word "typo" means.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

What part of " The routine in question was, in fact, quite famous,..." exactly implies that Rex didn't know about it?

Given that young peoples' interest in baseball is approximately nil, the fact that the routine is enshrined in the BBHOF has approximately zero effect on whether young people know of the routine or not.

As suspicious as I may be regarding Rex's ability to estimate who knows what, I'm equally suspicious of other people's claims that the contrary is true.

Ludyjynn 2:07 PM  

Such an apropos theme what with my beloved Os coming home from Fla. for tomorrow's opener.

Agree w. Rex's "challenging" rating; for me, despite getting the theme early-on, there were many obscure-ish answers, esp. in the Michigan section of the puzz.

Like others, my bad for not knowing PETE ROUSE. But now I am getting a kick out of his name being thaaat close to Mr. Baseball, Pete Rose. Very funny, WS!

Can't we all just get along? I am sick and tired of hearing oldsters insulting youngsters and vice versa on this comment board.

Thanks, JS and WS. Take me out to the ball game!

Lewis 2:07 PM  

@aliasz -- that little poem of yours really cracked me up!

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

"Basically, if a puzzle doesn't reference things that I have direct knowledge of because they occurred when I was between the ages of 20 and 40, then it is either "trying too hard to be to hip" or it is 'ancient and obscure.'"

If this is not self-sarcasm, then it's time to hang it up. No problem with a 2000-year-old legionary but Andrews Sisters and Abbott and Costello are fuddy-duddy? And "trytophan" is not obscure?

Totally unfair to criticize constructors of puzzles you apparently can't just whiz right through.

Name that tune 2:12 PM  

Hey @ grammar nazi, I once slept with Andrew's Sister. All three of them, in fact.

Lora 2:19 PM  

My 10 and 8 years old sons know the Who's On First routine because their baseball coaches showed it to the teams. I am glad the coaches thought of it because I wouldn't have.

I forced them to watch 45 minutes of "The Sound of Music" on Easter. We will get through the whole movie eventually. On Christmas day we will start on "It's a Wonderful Life".

Anyway the husband and I really enjoyed this puzzle. And the only term we had to google was VEET. Never heard of it, and I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about hair removal products.

Plus Odie is in it! Look out for that lion, Odie. I worry about him.

Zeke 2:24 PM  

@grammar nazi - I don't know what pleasure you take in doing absolutely nothing here but pointing out others' flubs. Whatever they may be, there is nothing honorable about any of it. You are simply unpleasant, unnecessary and unwelcome.

Any random sentence from any random post of Steve J's adds more to this comments section than does the entirety of your history here. Please just stop.

grammar nazi 2:24 PM  

First @ Nancy and now me. Doug, you are worthy of your name. Looks like those "typos" matter after all.

@ Lora--"My 10 and 8 years old sons?!" Really??!! It seems you are guilty of both grammar abuse AND child abuse!

AnnieD 2:27 PM  

@grammar nazi
I no longer take full responsibility for my typos...I blame autocorrect!

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

Well stated!

Martel Moopsbane 2:38 PM  

@Leapfinger - I believe you meant

Who'se on fir'st

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

Rougher'n a cob, as my old pappy used to say. Finally solved NE but don't know how. Why this Thursday easier than last Saturday?

BMA 2:43 PM  

Glad to feel extremely young following this slog of a puzzle. I've heard the Abbott and Costello routine, so the theme was eventually decipherable, but I agree with Rex that the puzzle, as a whole, was painfully old. At age 33, I don't use pencils (blue or otherwise), have never heard of R.D. Laing, and couldn't stop singing about Prince Ali from Disney's "Aladdin" after the "Arabian Nights" clue. My knowledge of the Andrews Sisters begins and ends with "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," and I don't know what a sprit is. I could've handled a French legionnaire, but the Roman legionary was just too ancient. Even referring to "Indians" as "The Indians" felt anachronistic. I guess that was intended misdirection to the Cleveland Indians, given the baseball theme, but I wasn't impressed. Too challenging for a Thursday and not at all enjoyable.

Z 2:46 PM  

@Leapy - I agree and would add that, beyond the conflating of "need" and "want," it is the lack of appreciation for what one has that makes people (rich, poor, and in between) seem needy. I especially appreciate the term "first world problem." My wife and I are debating how large of a TV we want for our vacation home. Everyone should have such problems.

@Steve J - seriously? You should know better.

@Anon7:57 - nicely argued but I disagree. There is the OPTIC/LATTE cross, otherwise this could just as easily have run as clued when I was in junior high 40 years ago. And I do see it as a clueing problem. If your theme is going to be from a March 1938 radio skit (according to Wikipedia), then the clueing for the fill could include a little bit more from the current century, or even the last quarter century (that's 1990-now).

As to whether or not "Who's on First" is much known by people under 30, I've no idea. I did see a funny piece not too long ago by a tech writer wondering if he was too old to "get" the Snapchat interface. He is 26 and noticed that the under 25 crowd had no problem with using the program. Given the pace of change, Rex's contention did not seem far fetched.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Not knowing the word SPRIT has something to do with age? Lame excuse.

grammar nazi 3:10 PM  

All of you make excellent points. I thought it was humorous that multiple people got the Andrews Sisters' name wrong in multiple ways, but it seems the curmudgeons on this board do not share my sense of humor. From now on, I will refer to Ted Zeppelin, Ernst Hemingway, and Willard Shakespeare, and hope you all know whom I mean. Zeke, you seem to be an angry man.

Zeke 3:41 PM  

"@Gill I: PLEASE don't use an apostrophe to pluralize a day of the week. "Thursdays" will do just fine. ..."

"People, once and for all: They are "The Andrews Sisters." LaVerne, Patty, and Maxene Andrews. They are not the Andrew Sisters (mathguy), nor the Andrew Sister's (AnnieD), nor the Andrews Sister (Steve J). I realize that this is only partially a grammatical point, but why not have the courtesy and respect to call them by their correct name? "

Yes, each of these were said with the utmost of grace, kindness and humor. Not a single hint of condescension. I'm sure most everyone fell off their respective chairs laughing, as did I.

Finally, there's a difference between being an "angry man" and having little tolerance for people whose only contribution seems to be correcting, and thus, belittling people. To that little tolerance I plead guilty, and yet you've exceeded that long before I spoke up.

DigitalDan 3:52 PM  

I beg your pardons, Messrs. Stulberg and Shortz, but a Leap Second is a massive, humungous, enormous, unimaginably large adjustment to an atomic clock. Even a femtosecond is a pretty large one.

I wanted the bases to be arranged in a diamond formation.

The "Who's on First" routine is renewed in various ways sufficiently often that I suspect people of every generation know it, if they care to. For an up to date take on the concept, look up Season 4 Episode 10 of "The Big Bang Theory." Transcript is here but you can find clips on YouTube. Hilarious and thankfully relatively short.

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

As an old geezer and an Abbott & Costello fan, I enjoyed it. The Andrews Sisters were featured in the A&C film "Hold That Ghost", so maybe it was OK to have them in the puzzle.

Never heard of RD Laing - thought that was some country singer; but yeah, an architect clue would have worked better for Frank Lloyd.

DigitalDan 3:58 PM  

I think it's good to have one (and only one?) grammar cop in the bunch. Easy to ignore, or one might learn something.

"s" must be the loneliest letter, apropos the apostrophe thing.

Leapfinger 4:36 PM  

@Martel M. Bane,
You are correct, Sir. esp with Fir St. being just the next block down for me, after Maple, Oak and Elm.

Was it yesterday @Foxaroni caught me out for missing out Billy Goat Grough? GUESS I'm losing some of my LEGIONARY CELERITY.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

Zeke you must have had a very sad childhood, during which you learned that being corrected is the same as being belittled. In fact, it is just the opposite. Paying enough attention to someone to correct them shows caring.
Personally, I like to be corrected when I make errors. It's the way I learn best.

GILL I. 4:52 PM  

@Anony 4:46. I bet you think i'ts a hoot being corrected in front of a room full of people. "Look, what an asshole, she just mispronounced Yosemite"!

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

Unlike the King, I found this puzzle not at all challenging-must be my retired condition that the clues seemed to fall into place. Even the ne fell easily once hone changed to whet and bad marks became acne. Had great instead of sweet for a minute, but then it all fell into place. Yes, I am of the retired set. Guess that is why.

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

Ooh Gill. Sensitive subject? Well I suspect you got it right after that!

Anonymous 5:13 PM  

On my phone I click the more button and then it has a key that says rebus.

Robin Gausebeck 5:13 PM  

I'm sorry you didn't like this puzzle. I don't know how old you are but the comedy routine around which this puzzle is built should be familiar to you. It's one of the most hilarious of all time! I came to appreciate it even more when one of the major league teams, might have been the Red Sox, actually brought a player on board whose last name was Hu. I couldn't watch without doubling over laughing.
Just because something is old does not make it not worth knowing.

GILL I. 5:27 PM  

Nah....I have a pretty hard shell and will be the first to laugh at my foibles. I just find people who find it their mission in life to correct someone loudly, boring and sad...

foxaroni 5:31 PM  

I thought in Spain "they say" RUM AND COCA-COLA in an old Andrews Sisters hit?

foxaroni 5:38 PM  

@Leapfinger-- hey, you're a STAR in my book. 'Saul, folks!

Leapfinger 5:42 PM  

I love the thought of conflating kd with RD Laing. I had a couple of RD's books (yup, since the 60s) and never did get very far into them. Finally passed them on about a month ago.
@Gill, Yosemite's a good one. What do you think of con-spish-ous? Just my luck I never said it aloud before I sorted that out ... in college...

where's HE been all my life? 6:23 PM  

Did any other gals notice how handsome Andrew (12:57) is? (Don't mean to make you self-conscious, Andrew.)

Mohair Sam 6:27 PM  

@Leapfinger - Yeah, ever since KD came along I've protected myself by referring to 'that whatsisname Laing guy' in conversation. And yes, I still have my Laing books.

@Z - I suspect the PETEROUSE answer is less than 40 years old, or was Obama elected immediately after Nixon? When a constructor keeps down the number of proper nouns as this one did most of the fill is going to be as old as the English language.

RooMonster 6:54 PM  

@Mohair Sam, k d lang is a she. And she puts her name sans capitals on her records.
Just to let you know! :-)


RooMonster 6:56 PM  

Oh, I see you meant him for Liang, not lang. My bad! :-!


Blackeyedsusan 6:58 PM  

What a wonderful day! On a plane at 6 a.m. for a much anticipated vacation in Belize. Open the Times for the puzzle, perfect inflight entertainment. Except it wasn"t. I didn't know anything, couldn"t get a hold anywhere. Put it away. But kept coming back to it during the endless travel waits - three planes, airport tram, runway delay, customs line. Little by little it started to fill.
Got THIRD RAIL and wtih hint of "three'" in comedy routine clue, guessing it was the classic Abbot and Costello, and BASES filling in nicely, knew I was on my way. Still wasn't sure I'd get through without a google, but after a delightful visit with my three year old grandson (who lives here and is the reason for the trip), went back to it yet again and bingo! figured it all out. Must have been the palm trees and blue sea that did it.

As a relative newbie, I just felt so elated that I finished a puzzle that was both hard and clever. Then to come here and see that Rex and others thought it was challenging - well, I am one happy grandma (yeah, I know, I got it because I'm older. But my one rule for music in the car back in the day I was chauffering kids was no rap, so I'm often at a disadvantage for that very same reason. I figure it all evens out.)
@mohairsam - your first paragraph described my experience perfectly. Well said!

Questinia 7:12 PM  

Odd, I thought @ Gill's use of Thursday's was perfectly fine. It is a puzzle OF Thursday. It's Thursday's puzzle.

I thought this was hard and I know the routine but I didn't know who was on third ;(

old timer 7:29 PM  

I had to Google for Mr. Rouse. He really is too obscure. The rest, I got, though I came here without figuring out the rebus. I knew the answers were right, and it was a delight to learn that the rebus required "Who" and "I don't know."

I think Mr. Porker's satire is a bit of a stretch today. Don't get me wrong, I like seeing what he writes. But @Rex pretty much got it right today.

Anonymous 7:31 PM  

RD Laing is a major, major figure (or was when I was in college) and it's sad that more don't know him (and that's not a put down of those who don't). I adore anything related to Noel Coward, and that includes Cavalcade, but mainly for its historical value -- and it was a better show than a film. But I never heard of Frank Lloyd.

Teedmn 7:36 PM  

Hah, top of the sports page in today's Mpls Star Tribune:

"Who's on third? No Twins so far this season"

Unfortunately, too true :-(

My public humiliation was the word "epitome". My excuse for my mispronounciation is that no one in my small town had never said it, in front of me, anyway. Hey, I used it in the correct context, too bad it elicited only a "Huh?" before the laughter began.

Great rebus puzzle, challenging for me. Liked many of the clues, my favorite being "F" on a test. Thanks, Mr. Stulberg.

Cheerio 7:56 PM  

I loved this and am 51 so there you go. I loved the cluing. I knew from the start somehow that this was one of those special puzzles that you can figure out if you take a little time. But you don't need as much time as for a Saturday puzzle - so that's a perfect Thursday! Every day should have its version of this. For example , I loved the clue TOWER for AAA. So simple, but so trippy, as in it tripped me up. I'm adding Mr. Stulberg to my favorite constructors list.

Cheerio 7:59 PM  

I also agreed with mohair Sam.

Wendy the Snowperson 8:06 PM  

When our son was small we showed him lots of classic comedy: Abbot and Costello, the Marx Brothers, Preston Sturges movies, Charlie Chaplin. They're not OLD. They are, however, great.

Z 8:11 PM  

@Mohair Sam - You're right, but in the grand scheme of current events, Mr Rouse is trivial trivia*, so hardly a balance to the dated feel of the clueing. If you want to be a memorable as a chief of staff you either have to be fictional (Leo McGarry), really bad at the job (Rahm Emmanuel), or be involved in advocating and defending one of history's major screw-ups (Donald Rumsfeld). Being a quietly competent aide, while vital, doesn't make one crossworthy or an antidote to a bunch of clues from before color TV.

* Trivia = What album has Taxman on it.
Trivial Trivia = what is the fourth song on the B side of Get Happy.

Teedmn 8:19 PM  

@Z, trivia answer = Revolver

Trivial trivia answer, could it be "B Side"? Wouldn't pass muster in a crossword puzzle, with the answer being in the clue and all ;-)

But good point on trivia.

Z 8:48 PM  

@Teedmn - B Movie, and I'd write the clue as "Side 2." See what happens when you rush. Hey, congrats to your Twinkies getting a run AND setting the record for scoreless innings to open a season. For your sake and mine I hope that it was that the Tigers are just that good and not that the Twins are that bad. We suffered through 2003 and I wouldn't wish that kind of season on anyone (except the Yankees, natch).

Arlene 9:07 PM  

I loved this puzzle. My kids knew the routine by heart. There was even a board game created based on this routine. And we have a video of my kids reading from the script. It's a classic - and if that's considered dated, then so be it.
I had to Google some of the names, as others have done - but got the theme fairly soon.
Bravo on this one!

Teedmn 9:18 PM  

Gah, "B Movie" it is, @Z. Nice tie-in to the (Abbott and) Costello theme. And I agree that your hopes for our teams would be the best scenario.

Anonymous 9:57 PM  

@Leapfinger: I'll step up if no one else will: "Lloyd George knew my father; Father knew Lloyd George." I don't remember why I know that, but it became an earworm.

Meanwhile, here's evidence that the A&C routine is still relevant:

anonymous 10:23 PM  

Glad to see from the comments that this was as hard as I thought it was. Without Pete Rouse (and I follow politics closely and had "ouse" and still had no clue) or Frank Lloyd this became joyless and pointless to continue. Hate to throw in the towel on a Thursday but since this was much more like a Saturday I can deal with it.

Don McBrien 10:40 PM  

Cheerio...agree. 100%!!

Anonymous 11:40 PM  

It must be satisfying for you to look in the mirror every morning and know that there are very few people in the world who could claim to be a more pompous ass or pretentious than yourself as you complain about the pretentiousness of the writer of a blog that you read every day.

NYer 11:50 PM  

poem is the best entry among today's comments IMHO.

Elephant's Child 12:54 AM  

An excellent poem, agreed, and I'm vurry surprised it didn't invoke the wrath of the Eating Disorders-Contingent.

Nice that someone stepped up,albeit Anonymously, with LLOYD George. The words of the song are a sly substitution for 'LLOYD George knew my Mother', since LG apparently cut quite a deep swath with the ladies.

And speaking of 'sly'...Check out @Gill 4:52 -- i'ts a hoot

Unknown 9:20 AM  

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rondo 10:04 AM  

Wandered in the wilderness for a long time before getting BASES, then figured the WHO in the fable which finally got me HEADFIRST. Two words in a square thing was gumming everything. So searched out the others and somehow finally finished. The whole east side was blankish forever until the aha moment and the LEVEE broke. Maye the longest Thursday solve ever? One of ‘em at least.

Lots write-over ink spilled today. Wanted Capra for LLOYD , dowel for THROW, hone for WHET. All of them absolutely no help.

EDNA St. Vincent Millay – Savage Beauty – jazz age yeah baby. NADIA Petrova not so.

Shout out to WNBA Minnesota LYNX.

There was no EASYTARGET in this puzzler of a puz.

Burma Shave 11:33 AM  


That RAD CELEBRITY gal would THROW herself in the pool,
then I would LEAPSECOND, HAH! It was CHIC, it was cool.
I was such an EASYTARGET. GUESSWHAT? I was ready to burst
‘CAUSE the GAMES not only cannonballin’, I HOPE for HEADFIRST.


spacecraft 11:58 AM  

Come on. Oscar winning director Frank and it's NOT Capra?? Who among us did NOT put this in as an out-and-out gimme? First word I entered. My "anchor."

Let's just say, If OFL didn't rate this a full-out "challenging," I was gonna go to his house and punch him out. First of all, no way does this belong in a Thursday slot. It's a Saturday puzzle, period. The cluing was beyond brutal: it was mental waterboarding. Nevertheless, having said all this, I somehow navigated my way to a solve--littered with many a sloppy writeover, to be sure, but in the end correct, and with no help.

Longer clues draw my attention, so I spotted the location of the revealing entry early on. Right away I suspected NIB/BASES. And folks, generation gap be damned. Did none of you see "Rain Man?" There's your A&C routine; they even play part of it on a TV screen! It wasn't long before I saw 46a, ending in IDK. So we had a rebus; little did I know then I had only half of it. Not knowing what Subway had to do with IDK, I left and went to the center, where I spotted GUESSWHAT. But an atomic clock adjustment ending in WHAT made no sense. Something about a second would make more...HAH! It's 2nd base!! And now we get 3rd RAIL. At last I could return to the north (abandoned because CAPRA wouldn't play nice with his neighbors) with a little more info. I had NOTHING up there. Searched for something ending in "FIRST," found it at 5d, and eventually was able to correct our director to LLOYD. Hmm, not Harold. This guy REALLY wanted to make it tough. Not Frank Capra, and not Harold LLOYD. No-o-o. Frank LLOYD. OK, Jacob, if you say so. Some time we should talk about the concept of fairness.

Equally unfair is the clue "In" for CHIC. I have seen many fads that were "in," but were FAR from "CHIC." Is it "CHIC" to wear an outer pair of shorts so low that the waistband falls at mid-butt? I don't think so. But it is "in."

I can't say the fill scintillates: RESELLERS? NEEDINESS?? and Mr. Obscurity PETEROUSE is ridiculous, but I have to give props to the theme and its execution--and to the fact that despite uber-toughness I finished it. B.

197, almost as good as yesterday.

KG 12:24 PM  


rain forest 2:09 PM  

Well said, @Spacey. You described my solve exactly including my first entry, Capra. I got the whole East, and intuited the "I don't know", and went from there.
Extremely challenging, but eventually do-able, unlike some other challenging puzs I can think of.
Loved watching the A&C bit, again.
And, I really liked this puzzle.

D_Johnson 4:47 PM  

After a bit of a struggle (and no help from Google)I completed the puzzle correctly. But I totally missed the tie-in to Abbott and Costello, so the three horizontal answers didn't make sense-- the boy first cried wolf? Apparently I just skipped over the key clue in 63 across. Doh!

DMG 5:38 PM  

My Andean article was UNo wihich left me with BoSES as a revealer???! MAybe that's why I never caught on to the double rebus thing. solving (3rd) RAIL left me with the unfathomable TELLMESOMETHUNG(3rd). and so it went. So I ended with three circled squares which only made sense in one direction. I"ll try again tomorrow!

156 not my day!

leftcoastTAM 6:27 PM  

This puzzle spanned the generations, a thousand of them, as illustrated in many of the clues and answers. A real GEM of a puzzle.

Lots of griping and sniping going on among the real-time posters. Glad it's all died down by the time it reaches us out here in Syndiland, but it still adds some entertainment value to the blog.

Anonymous 8:18 PM  

Tsk, tsk, tsk! The comments today are sounding like an Arab, a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim and a Buddhist were all trapped in an elevator arguing religion.

Anyway, I really liked the puzzle and found it challenging and tres clever.

Burma Shave needs a good trim and Evil Doug could use some Holy Water. :)

Ron Diego, Late in the day

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