Israeli conductor Daniel / WED 6-3-15 / Granny player on "The Beverly Hillbillies" / Skull island beast for short / Dreads sporter / Deion onetime nickname in NFL /

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Constructor: Herre Schouwerwou

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: [Pickup line?] — same clue for all themers …

Theme answers:
  • 17A: "NEED A LIFT?"
  • 39A: F-SERIES
  • 52A: "SO WHERE WERE WE …?"
  • 63A: "IT'S FOR YOU"
Word of the Day: IRENE RYAN (35D: Granny player on "The Beverly Hillbillies") —
Irene Ryan (October 17, 1902 – April 26, 1973) was an American actress, one of the few entertainers who found success in vaudevilleradiofilmtelevision and Broadway.
Ryan is most widely known for her portrayal of "Granny," the mother-in-law of Buddy Ebsen's character, on the long-running TV series The Beverly Hillbillies (1962–1971), for which she was nominated for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1963 and 1964. (wikipedia)
• • •
[Note: a version of this theme has been done before, with two of the same theme answers, back on Aug. 22, 2007, by Patrick Blindauer. Check out my (now-vintage) write-up.]

This works pretty well. It's a bit of a victim of poor timing, from my perspective, because there was a phenomenal "line"-related puzzle in the Indie 500 tournament in D.C. on Saturday—but that's an unfair comparison, on several levels. This one is, in most ways, different from that way, and this isn't meant to be a marquee puzzle; it's a mid-week puzzle, and it's doing its job just fine. The core concept works. All of the lines seem like actual lines, not forced or roll-your-own type dealies that you often see when a concept is stretched to its limits. Ironically, or aptly, or both, or neither, the one answer that isn't a (spoken) line is the one that I liked the best—the one that I struggled with, and that (pleasantly) surprised me: F-SERIES. Sometimes, inconsistency works. It's the shortest, it sits in the center with no symmetrical counterpart, and it's like "screw all y'all, i'ma do what I wanna do." I like its attitude. You be you, F-SERIES!

Fill is not great today, but it's up from yesterday, so I'm gonna keep comments to myself on that front, for once. I think of BEEFCAKE as a general category. I do not think of male models as individual cakes of beef (3D: Hunky guys). Speaking of oddly individual thing, we saw an individually (plastic-)wrapped pickle at a Sheetz yesterday. Speaking of SHEETZ, I wish it (they?) were less regional (I've only ever seen them in PA and MD). It would make a nifty crossword answer. (Sheetz is a gas station / food store chain, for those who aren't familiar.) … SO WHERE WERE WE? Ah yes, BEEFCAKES. Also, ENDALLS. That is not a plural I believe in.

  • 59D: State made up of two state postal abbreviations (COMA) — I love this clue, but it felt Friday/Saturday tough. That "state" meaning switch, mid-clue, is hard / impossible to see.
  • 13D: Manhole emanation (STEAM) — for reasons I'm not sure I can articulate, I'm finding the clue [Manhole emanation] … disturbing. Upsetting, even. I have to stop thinking about it now.
  • 14A: Israeli conductor Daniel ___ (OREN) — Whoa. That's new to me. Terrible fill, but interesting trivia. I tried and tried to get BARENBOIM to fit.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:08 AM  

What a difference a day makes.  Medium for me and, aside from a couple of awkward plurals, this was delightful.  Fun/clever theme, reasonably smooth grid, liked it a lot!

Erasure: TRex before KONG

Had to stare: F SERIES

chefwen 12:34 AM  

NEED A rIde before LIFT and FSERIES was a real a real head scratcher. Saw the F and S next to each other and figured I had to have something wrong. Gotta go study up on my trucks. CLEAN YOU ROOM was a chuckle.

In the medium camp also.

I would thank the constructor, but I'm sure I mess up his name somehow. Anyway, good one Mr. S.

Wood 12:39 AM  

Pleasantly chewy. Themers weren't easy to get even after understanding the gist. I still don't think I get how IT'S FOR YOU is a "pickup line." Agree some of the clues were tough for a Wednesday. COMA clue was brilliant. Liked it!

Wood 12:42 AM  

P.S. Is it Shoe-ver-voo?

jae 12:42 AM  

@Wood - Pick up the phone, IT'S FOR YOU.

Wood 12:44 AM  

Doh! Love it.

Moly Shu 1:27 AM  

COMA was great, and I also liked LAVERNE. Had the FS in FSERIES and thought that can't be correct, but expanding pick-up line got me there.

@LMS, there's that word DEIGN again. Awesome, no??

AliasZ 1:43 AM  

At least Mr. OREN gets his 15 minutes of fame in crosswordium, if not on the podium.

Very clever theme that I don't remember seeing before. The statute of limitations of seven years has passed a year ago anyway, so it matters not at all. Did Mr. Schouwerwou steal the idea from PBII? Rex seems to think so. I didn't. Will didn't either. According Herre's comments at xwordinfo, it was an original idea. Did he lie?

Getting one theme answer was absolutely no help in getting any of the others, which made this one an above-average Wednesday. My favorite pickup line was CLEAN YOUR ROOM. I got the F-SERIES entirely from the crosses, then I remembered the Ford F-SERIES pickup trucks. Suhweet!

Among none-theme entries I couldn't help notice that today RUE is less RUER than yesterday. I loved the WITTY clue for COMA. I also noticed the FAVE-NAVE-AVE cluster in the center and the HUNG-KONG-GONG trio. Cute.

END-ALLS however is awful. It's nothing like overalls to require a plural. I cannot imagine a sentence where END-ALLS would be used. "BEEFCAKES have become the be-alls and end-alls of Bertha's wanton existence." I don't think so. And TO HEART? Long partials are ughs.

Despite a few shortcomings, this one worked for me. It gave some resistance for a Wednesday, and a quite enjoyable solving experience overalls. Thanks, Herre.

RAD2626 1:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
RAD2626 2:15 AM  

Filled in "want A LIFT" and "what's YOUR sign" right away. Was quite pleased until none of the down words worked. Slowed me down considerably. While I eventually got F SERIES from the crosses, I wondered why some bonds were a pick up line. Got it before I got here but not by much.

Fun puzzle with some really good clues. Liked staying with the French Canadien mini-theme with Prince Edward Island instead of the architect.

George NYC 3:11 AM  

"Manhole emanation" has less eww quotient for those who live in New York City, where steam that is piped underground to various buildings by ConEd is often vented for who knows why via orange-and-white striped vertical tubes protruding from the middle of major thoroughfares. Think "Taxi Driver."

Ellen S 3:49 AM  

I liked it, too. Like @Rex, tried and tried to fit BARENBOIM in there but had to give in to the crosses. Didn't understand F-Series until I got here, very clever. That also came from crosses, and I was sure it was wrong, that and several others, so I was not surprised when I filled in the last blank and got a razzberry instead of the happy music. But I noticed an O that Puzzazz had rendered instead of the "A" that I thought I was writing, and when I corrected that, I was startled to get the happy jingle. So I did not DNF. Delightful. (And I think the cluing for COMA should get some kind of award.)

Thomaso808 4:06 AM  

Minor nit - I think cluing with the single word "pickup" works for 17, 39, and 52, but CLEANYOURROOM and ITSFORYOU call for the two word "pick up". Using the same word for all adds to the misdirection, which is great, but using the two word option might have made for some head scratching, too.

I liked the not-so-obvious theme for a change. FSERIES was great. Wednesday needs a little bite here and there, so no problem here with COMA. Yes, manhole emanation definitely gave me pause -- I doubt even NYers use that term -- but still very funny!

John Child 4:28 AM  

Good clean fun, with nary a "Hey Sailor!" or "Come here often?" to be seen.

"Cheesecake" as a term for a woman dates to 1662, but BEEFCAKE apparently only post-WWII. Who knew?

George Barany 4:39 AM  

Fun puzzle by @Herre Schouwerwou, and insightful review by @Rex. I wonder if Beefcake has any relation to these guys, My friends who are musicians cringe at the mention of Daniel OREN, who just might be the Idi Amin of conductors.

Anonymous 5:26 AM  

KOBE BEEFCAKE are hunky guys regularly massaged and brushed with sake

Anonymous 5:29 AM  

In my judgment, nothing in Rex's review suggests that he thinks the theme was "stolen."

George Barany 6:06 AM  

Yesterday morning, some questions came up comparing puzzle reviews by @Jeff Chen and @Rex. I wrote a three paragraph comment that I posted no fewer than five or six times, throughout the day. Each time, my material appeared on the site, only to vanish within the next half hour or less. Apparently, M&A went through something similar. With help from some of my friends, I tried to troubleshoot this specific content, since I normally don't have any problems. While we still don't know for sure what happened, the successful solution was to post each paragraph individually -- if the topic still matters to anyone, go to yesterday's thread and see a series of consecutive posts running from 4:43 AM to 4:48 AM. Anyone who has a hypothesis why the full comment was repeatedly auto-deleted can contact me off-Rex.

Jim Walker 6:34 AM  

This is the type of puzzle that leaves me in awe of speed solvers. Rex rates it medium. I did it in 16:09 with no write overs, mistakes, or cheats. Hesitated maybe once or twice. I assume Rex and the rest of you Mercurys out there took about as much time as it is taking me to write this comment.

This was also a happy puzzle with a variety of takes on the theme answer and no groans. The theme answers were placed symmetrically in the grid with the biggest misdirect right in the middle. As far as I can see, the two unfortunate plurals pointed out by OFL were the only warts.

An elegant effort by Mr. Schouwerwou.

mac 7:04 AM  

Charming puzzle!

Hand up for thinking of Barenboim and TRex. Please, @George Barany, tell us more about Oren!

You can't get more Northern Dutch than Herre Schouwerwou. @Wood, in Holland it would rhyme with Scow-er-wow. Not sure how it's pronounced in Canada.

Mohair Sam 7:16 AM  

Wednesday puzzles don't get any better than this. Loved the FSERIES misdirect right smack in the middle. So cool that not one of the theme answers fit your first definition of pickup line (i.e. - 'What's your sign?' which we tried to fit in four different locations).

COMA filled off crosses for us, glad we came here to discover the clue - a gem.

Sure , like others we had a couple of nits, but nothing takes away from the overall quality. Great puzzle - thanks Mr. Schouwerwou.

Z 7:20 AM  

@Jim Walker - Nearly 21 minutes here.

@George B - This disappearing post issue has popped up before. As has the triplicate issue. It is very sporadic, seems to impact only one or two people, and the cause has not been determined.

F-SERIES - local headline is that Ford is shortening the summer shutdown to make more trucks. Good because jobs. Bad because trucks aren't exactly the most eco-friendly vehicles out there. I experience a level of schadenfreude every time I see a "mine is bigger" truck ad because it really does suggest that guys who drive trucks have a certain amount of insecurity. Having a brother-in-law who is a mason, whose truck was always full of tools and dirty because work, I can do nothing but shake my head at trucks that are luxury vehicles with a truck bed.

Fun puzzle with some clever cluing. TRA LA LA clued as if the answer could be AVE was cute. I have to wonder if SOWHEREWEREWE sounds much like Schouwerwou or if they are just near eye rhymes.

Re: IT'S FOR YOU - I saw on Twitter yesterday this comment (loosely quoted), "My daughter asked me why we say "hang up the phone." I now feel 90 years old."

Hartley70 7:27 AM  

The last theme answer, ITSFORYOU as the "pickup", felt really dated to me. The receiver of a landline is what we oldsters used to pick up before we had a chat on the telephone, and those phones are fast becoming relics. The younger generation doesn't bother with landlines at all. The modern world has left them behind for cell phones that one "answers", can put on speaker with a push of a button and never "pickup" at all.

dk 7:29 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOONs) Classic Wednesday.

I echo the praise for this little gem (opal).

Sheetz reminds me of an old joke about a bandito being asked if he wanted sheets on his bed. The reply was: "If you Sheetz on my bed I will kill you."

George, do not worry about your missing posts. Rex used to delete my all the time…. just sayin 😁

joho 7:39 AM  

Loved this puzzle!

Fun observations: KOBEBEEF(CAKE) and just put a a FIFTH between SAKS and AVE to create the store.

I think "That was the ENDALL of all ENDALLS!" makes sense.

I always RUE EYER.

I agree with everyone about the brilliant clue for COMA.

Superb puzzle, Herre Schouwerwou!

joho 7:40 AM  


steveo 7:47 AM  

Big "trucking" DNF. Maybe I gave up too soon. Maybe I'm weak. Couldn't see FSERIES or EYER and I could have used one of them.

Loren Muse Smith 7:54 AM  

First – rumor has it that Rex never reads these comments anymore. Well, if you do, Rex, thanks for a kinder, gentler you – terrific comments today while still calling out what you didn’t like. I love this place, and when soooo many friends on blog and off blog talk about jumping ship, it scares me.

Oh, and we have Sheetz in WV.

@Moly – thought of you, too, with DEIGN.

So speaking of lowering oneself…the whole “manhole emanation” STEAM thing could upstage the inevitable great pick-up lines we’re all going to share. Where do you even start with something like that? That time in high school I went on a diet where all you could eat all day was three boiled eggs, three frankfurters, and three bananas. I tell you, by 1pm I had achieved lift-off, and by 4pm I was practically sky-writing.

Puzzle theme was fun, and I guess the presence of the "?" meant we weren't gonna get the quintessential "pick-up line?" Cool. Again, I guess we will hear a bunch of them today. "Hey – I know we haven't met, but could I hug you?"

Wanna hear the pick-up line I used on my husband in a bar and I swear I'm not making this up? He was sitting all alone in bar called "He's Not Here" in Chapel Hill, and I spotted him, made a beeline to him and said, "I'm the biggest Carolina fan in the world, but I spent the second half of the Virginia game looking at you through the binoculars." Of course he didn’t believe me, but when I told him what he had been wearing and that he had been talking to a guy with a white beard who was sitting in front of him…. Well, here we are. (The remarkable part of the story is that was the game when Tom Sheehy had done something nasty to Joe Wolf, Wolf was caught getting his REVENGE, a technical was called on UNC, Dean Smith came off the bench swinging, and Guthrie had to hold him back. And I was mainly just watching my future husband I had picked out of over 20,000 people.)

Herre – fun idea. Liked it. (Hi, @jae)

Danny R 8:04 AM  

LAVERNE Cox is one of the most visible, talked-about, influential actresses on TV right now. Maybe that's the LAVERNE we need to see in this puzzle, instead of a 40-year-old TV character. It would have given a good puzzle even more pick-me-up.

pmdm 8:13 AM  

I seem to recall that Daniel Barenboim is Argentinian, although he is famous (infamous) for his work in Israel. Some quite tough cluing in places today, but 53D was the only ULTIMATE stumper for me. But not an END ALL stumper.

Howard F 8:18 AM  

For me this was a really enjoyable puzzle. Herre Schouwerwou seems informed by the indie constructors without pandering to that style (not sure if that makes sense?). Anyway, I enjoyed COMA, GONG, KONG and TOKYO.

On a side note, had a blast at the Indie 500, even if I placed at 93! I love this blog, and I'm going to try to contribute a bit more by commenting...

chefbea 8:29 AM  

Great puzzle but had to google a few things. Had no idea what F series meant but now I do!! Loved clue for coma! Also remember hanging up the phone

Rex Porker 8:32 AM  

[" I tell you, by 1pm I had achieved lift-off, and by 4pm I was practically sky-writing." If only I could write like Loren--say, Smitty, would you consider ghost-writing my daily dose of pooped-out prose for me? It's an easy gig: "I'm Rex, I suck". Basically, it writes itself. Obviously.

Carola 8:35 AM  

Agree - super puzzle. I got all of the letters in the right spots but, ALAS, must confess to a DNF in the "didn't get it" department: F-SERIES defeated me. Like @RAD2626, I got interference from E-Series savings bonds, but I'd also not heard of the line of pick-up trucks. I see now that there were a oouple of vehicle-related hints, with OPTIONS and the cross with street RODS. I remembered OREN from a previous puzzle; ORONO and OTERI are two other names I know only from crosswords.

Some rhymes: FAVE NAVE, KONG GONG, some echoes: RUE ROO, ERE x (WH)ERE. Word-wise, I find something to RELISH in TAFFY balancing WITTY.

Rug Crazy 8:40 AM  

I saw the ST first, then the clue "manhole emanation", and immediately thought "stink"

Dorothy Biggs 8:49 AM  

Funny how some puzzles strike a chord and others fall flat. Maybe someone should do a study on it because it would be helpful to WS if he could bottle it. It would also be helpful to poor constructors like yesterday who has had two puzzles now get panned pretty hard. I wish I knew why I like today's puzzle but not yesterday's. Cluing? Answers? Theme? I don't know. But today I was challenging and had very few groaners, (I sort of groaned at SOWHEREWEREWE just because of the way it looked and how it fell into place for me), but wasn't gratuitously difficult or obscure. And while I think that is a noble list of things "good puzzles" have, it isn't objective enough to "bottle it." So, if someone can objectively compare why this puzzle is so user friendly and why yesterday's was so universally panned...I'd love to hear it.

Otherwise, had the same FS----- issue. FS?? But the crosses were firm and so I was forced to see the truck line emerge from the mire.

I don't say CLEANYOURROOM, I add an "up" in there. And believe me, I've said it a lot to my two kids. I find that extra word can add lots of emphasis. CLEAN. UP. YOUR. ROOM!! Without the "up" it loses urgency.

And I have no earthly idea why I insist in my brain that IRENEdunNe played granny. IRENERYAN's stroke/death is shrouded in mystery, or at least filled with conflicting reports. What is known is that she had a stroke on stage during a performance of her song, "No Time At All," which includes the line, "I believe if I refuse to grow old, I will stay young till I die." Whether she collapsed and died in the wings after that performance or 6 weeks later in LA, she was amazing.

Charles Flaster 8:51 AM  

First post at 12:01 was lost to cyberland. Puzzle was well a constructed and EZ
Really liked the misdirect of COMA.
CrosswordEASE--PEI and OTERI( graduated from same high school as my daughter).
Liked cluing for OVER, TO HEART and CLEAN YOUR ROOM.
Writeover-- NEED A hand → NEED A LIFT.
Thanks HS.

John V 9:04 AM  

Could not get FSERIES, cross with ERA was hard.

quilter1 9:24 AM  

At last a puzzle worth doing this week! Very enjoyable with just enough crunch.
@Z My daughter mocked me when I said "telephone."

Z 9:25 AM  

@NCA President - I remember the "fight" with my wife over the boys' rooms. "Why are you mad? You don't have to pick up after them." "If I don't they won't." "So....?" I "won" that fight since my wife stopped stressing about the boys' rooms (let's just say that the young men's definition of "clean" did not match mom's). Fast forward a decade, #1 and #2 are neat (#2 is almost ascetic - three years on the clean-up crew at school may be a part of the reason), #3 takes .03 seconds to make his space a mess, which always amazes us because he's the one who primps and preens before going out in public. All three are really nice people, which is really the only thing that matters to me.

As for emphasis - I have found that quiet staccato scares the bejeezus out of adolescents. Teens have been inured to yelling, but that quiet staccato they immediately recognize as the, "Oh, shit. I've gone too far," voice.

RnRGhost57 9:30 AM  

Adjective needed in English language: "COMAsetic"

Name that tune 9:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Name that tune 9:40 AM  

Really one of the great Wednesdays of the year, but I give it a "this works pretty well" and a "fill is not great today, but it's up from yesterday." I'll also point out that this theme was used before, but somehow that is ok today. What's funny is my readers see this as effusive and kind, coming from me. One day I might even smile

ArtO 9:45 AM  

Thought this a slightly tougher than average Wednesday. Clever theme and tricky cluing led to a satisfying solve.

Ludyjynn 10:03 AM  

I had the pleasure of seeing IRENERYAN perform in "Pippin" on Broadway in 1972, along w/ Ben Vereen and John Rubenstein, who played the young namesake lead. Interestingly, when the show was revived in 2013, four decades later, JR returned in the role of Charlemagne, his father! ALAS, Ms. Ryan passed away in 1973, as a result of of a stroke suffered during a performance.

One of the joys of summer, saltwater TAFFY, is no longer an OPTION for me because it plays havoc on my dental work! Used to RELISH stopping in the boardwalk shops at the Jersey shore, watching them make it and the homemade fudge before my very EYEs, and then picking through the bins for my own personalized selection.

Nice mid-week puzz. for reasons stated by earlier posters. Thanks, HS and WS.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:13 AM  

Glad to see spirits are picking up a bit around here.

mthakar 10:23 AM  

Cute theme, generally well done. one of George Barany's musician friends - in fact a professional conductor of symphony orchestras - I'd suggest dropping Mr. Oren from the crossword vocabulary. I'm sure he's a fine musician, but the fact is that the gentleman's only significant notoriety is from crossword puzzle constructors. No disrespect to Mr. Oren, but there should be a higher justification for an answer than "It fits."

RooMonster 10:29 AM  

Hey All !
Did ya miss me? :-)
Was on vacation this past week, visiting family and such, didn't get to a computer all week! Anyone? (Crickets chirping...)

Anyway, puz okay today. Nice theme, even though I'm sure variations of it have been done before. The SO WHERE WERE WE was interesting as it was filling. W's and E's everywhere! Had to wait on the TSAR or CZAR. The F SERIES is cool, hardly ever see FS start an answer.

So did Herre make this puz for me? He did EVOKE ROO as an answer! He did say ITS FOR YOU. Gave me an OREO, some TAFFY, and STEAMy BEEFCAKES with RELISH! (Although I'd rather not have the last one!) :-)


Nancy 10:40 AM  

Let me add my praise for this puzzle to that of just about everyone else here. An unusually fun and challenging Wednesday. Agree with @Alias Z in that, what makes it so much fun is that knowing the answer to one theme answer won't help you the least little bit with the next one. Also enjoyed the comments of @Mohair. I just love the range and variety of the pickup lines. Didn't understand F SERIES till I came here. (What I don't know about pickup trucks would fill a...pickup truck.) Was also initially baffled by the FS-----, but it came in from the crosses.

@NCA Pres -- When my mother used to sternly command: CLEAN YOUR ROOM, I was obliged to pay attention. No UP was needed to make the instruction more forceful, I assure you.

@Hartley 70-- I still have a landline, and I have no cell phone. And I still pick up the landline. Wanna make something of it?

@Aketi -- You're not going to be in the park today (after 12), are you? I'll check this site up till 11:20 a.m.)

Joseph Michael 10:52 AM  

For an example of how Rex has changed over the years, click the link to his 2007 writeup of a puzzle with a similar theme.

Enjoyed today's theme even though it has been done before. Got F SERIES from the crosses but didn't know what it was until I looked it up.

Agree that BEEFCAKES doesn't work as a plural but thought that the fill overall was good. Especially liked the five-star clue for COMA.

However, if your manhole emanation is STEAM, you probably need to see a doctor.

Annie Hawthorne 10:56 AM  

“Clean your room” is admittedly an odd offer to make to a girl you’re trying to be friendly with, but maybe there are some women who would go for a guy who has a light touch with a feather duster.

But then “F series” — no, I can’t think of any lascivious interpretation there, despite the F.

But... Very nice puzzle. It solved smoothly, finishing faster than I thought it did. I felt good about completing this puzzle, as if I'd done a late week puzzle easily. Great trick)

Great job, Herre Schouwerwou!

PS. I'm just taking a few intervals to get chunks of work done on my research paper online. Hopefully it'll not be too much longer!)

GILL I. 11:04 AM  

@George B...Finally read your post yesterday regarding this blog. Very good write-up and spot on. @Rex isn't 40 anymore and his blog has changed - but I, for one, still enjoy it - warts and all.
@NCA President pretty much said it for me. I could do these type of puzzles every Wed. and be perfectly happy. Yesterday's was just some pretty stale stuff that we see way too often. Today was just fresh as a daisy for me and smelled good. Hey, at least the Manhole emanation wasn't GONG.
@Loren...Did you scare the pants off of him?
Eat TAPAS...they are good for you!

Arlene 11:11 AM  

This one took a while for me to get into - got traction in the bottom half. I thought they were all going to be pickup lines. Then the SOWHEREWEREWE had me thinking the answers were going to be two letters. And I never heard of FSERIES. And after all that thinking, I finished it all - in a respectable Wednesday timeframe. The beauty of the themes only became apparent after the solve, where I could appreciate each one.

Red Neck 11:22 AM  

(Guy drives up to girl in his massive pickup truck). "FSERIES, baby." They hop into the back and that's how I came to exist.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Nice @Red Neck. Now THAT'S a pickup pickup line!

old timer 11:35 AM  

Yesterday's abortion of a puzzle took me 7 minutes. Today's, 11 minutes, which was faster than usual for a Wednesday. Two writeovers: I had "Dino" where KING should be, and confidently wrote in "educe" where EVOKE is. I share OFL's disquiet over BEEFCAKES, because I don't think an individual hunky guy is one. More of a collective noun, or a genre. Back when real porn was illegal, there were a few stores in San Francisco that specialized in BEEFCAKE. I didn't mind ENDALLS, because it is a plural in the phrase "be-alls and end-alls". Not a common phrase, I admit, but it is a Thing.

Rex's review was right down the middle. This was a very good Wednesday puzzle. Not one of the best Wednesdays ever, so Mr. Porker and I have to disagree.

(BTW, can we have a moratorium on fake "rex porker" submissions? One Porker is enough, and the real one is usually pretty clever, unlike the others).

Bomaka 11:39 AM  

Suh-weet puzzle with no dooks or rappers' names, though the DAMN SNAG of FS-something HUNG me up for a while. Almost all interesting and clean fill, with a TRALALA and KOBEKONGGONG to boot.

Since living in NYC on 9/11 we have always kept a land line, as all our cell phones went down. However the only calls we get are either wrong numbers, pollers or companies selling electric service. I never PICK UP.

Four more months of paying RENT in NYC then forever rent free.

Love COMA clue.

I'm going out now to RELISH the perfect day and plant my veggies (which haven't really thrived so far, sadly), while my daughter has a HYPO for her trip to Africa. I'm envious - haven't been there in years. But reading Alexander McCall Smith The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency EVOKEs wonderful memories!

Thank you Herre Schouwerwou!

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

"for reasons I'm not sure I can articulate, I'm finding the clue [Manhole emanation] … disturbing."

Thanks... now I am, too.

BEEFCAKES is fine to me, ENDALLS not so much.

And there are Sheetz in WV and maybe Ohio, but it's definitely regional. Much better name for a gas station/convenience store than Kum & Go or Pump & Munch.

Lewis 11:47 AM  

@rex -- Excellent writeup, witty and funny as usual, calm and insightful. I will remember your line "Sometimes inconsistency works," and may have to call you on that at some point.

Loved the clues for COMA and DEIGN, and love the word EVOKE. I also liked KONG/GONG/HUNG. The puzzle had bite, was clean, and never felt dull. Good one, Herre, and thank you!

jberg 11:51 AM  

I'm kicking myself here. I never actually saw the whole movie, so I didn't know that big ape came from Skull Island. Even though Godzilla in the clues should have tipped me off that it was he, I went off in a different direction, first thinking said island was part of the chain where the KOdo dragon--which should have been KOmodo, anyway-- hangs out, and finally settling for the horrid abbreviation KaNG. Aren seemed just as good as OREN, so DNF.

That was too bad, because the rest was just fine-- once I figured out we were dealing with some kind of light truck, rather than a bond, a setting on my camera, or something Fibonacci came up with, I really liked the theme. I also liked the way the short fill used slangy meanings of ordinary words such as OVER, UP TO, and GO FAR.

As for those emanations, I'm pretty sure the steam is not the result of leaky pipes, but rather of groundwater that gets into the manhole and then is evaporated when it comes into contact with the hot pipe. I'm not entirely sure about that, however.

Unknown 11:55 AM  

As in picking up a phone

MDMA 11:57 AM  


I think "hanging up" a phone is a relic from the earliest days, when phones were vertical and boxy and often wall-mounted, and the receiver was a half-tube half-cone earpiece that you cupped to your ear and then hung on a hook when you were done. So the phrases "hanging up the phone" and "the phone is off the hook" were already obsolete even in the days of the classic desktop landline phones.


To get long fill that really shines, constructors need to cross it with short fill that is vowel-rich and/or has common consonants. Inevitably, some short words will occur far more often in crosswords than in real life. Thus, ESSEN is the most famous city in Germany, OBOE is the most prominent musical instrument in an orchestra, Cheri OTERI is the best-known SNL alumnus, ESSO must be the only gas station in Canada, etc. etc. So when it comes to conductors... just don't hold your breath waiting for a VONKARAJAN.

Lewis 12:04 PM  

Factoid: Although it is relatively rare on our planet, NEON is the fifth most abundant element in the universe.

Quotoid: "It is a DAMN poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word." -- Andrew Jackson

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Way too much random trivia. Personal preference, but wordplay is way more fun to solve. Harder than medium for me, and stodgy and dull.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 12:11 PM  

M&A pickup line: WHOGAVEMETHEFLU? (Coulda been worse, but I tried to keep entry length to 15 letters)

All the runts over here were acheerin, when they saw that COMA clue. Primo+.

fave weeject: ROO. Welcome home, dude.

fave other entry: FAVE.

@Barany dude: M&A now has a conspiracy theory that The Blorg has been reprogrammed to automatically sweep through and delete any comments that contain any "hot button" keywords in large paragraph chunks, like certain sorta magical-like spam spewers would be prone to use. We shall see...

@muse: mucho thanx, for the runty theme idea. Consider yerself hugged, or whatever other contact from a masked stranger with C-roll breath might be appropriate.

fave planet alignment: SAKS & AVE.

toughest corner award: NW. Had so much day-um trouble gettin started, M&A suspected a rebus.



Michael C. 12:16 PM  

Anon@12:06: You are indeed stodgy and dull.

mathguy 12:16 PM  

A little bit of crunch, a fresh theme, not too many gimmes. Good Wednesday.

M and Also 12:20 PM  

SAKS + black square in FIFTH column position + AVE. (!!)

A little too strong on the dept. store conspiracy theory, there? Thought so...


Z 12:22 PM  

STEAM coming from manholes is pretty common in Detroit, too. That first image is a very common sight in the winter, otherwise the visibility issues can be problematic.

@MDMA - I don't think you have to go that far back. Wall mounted telephones (often with very long cords) were still very common in my youth (through at least the '70's). My Dearborn house (built in 1939) had telephone lines of at least three vintages, the tiny little square box along the floor, the wall mount in the kitchen (we used it to hang kid's art), and the cable/telephone combo outlet that was probably added in the late 80's or early 90's. I remember seeing advertising for the Trimline phone being adaptable for either desk or wall (mid-80's innovation apparently). So having the handset "hang" isn't that old of a visual. Nevertheless, anyone born in this century is very likely to never have seen a home with a landline (unless it is their grandparents home).

Young Turk 12:33 PM  

Ok, we're at the part of the day when old people reminisce about things like telephones. Wow that's interesting. Maybe we can get a discussion of typewriters and black and white tv, too? I wonder what the average age on this board is?

Southern Man 12:35 PM  

Add NC to the list of Sheetz states.

relicofthe60s 12:37 PM  

Sheetz is a mid-Atlantic chain that hoes as far south as North Carolina and as far west as Ohio. No more provincial than some of the New York stuff in puzzles.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

You can get hos at Sheetz? Talk about a service station!

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

@LMS you proved your lack of prudishness today. From avoiding hugs yesterday to waxing poetic about your manhole cover today. Way to keep us on our toes.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

I remember fairly recently when rex absolutely trashed a puzzle (and its constructor) for sort of rehashing a theme. The constructor was called lazy for not bothering to look it up. Today we have an exact rehash and it gets a pass from the Great One. Makes one wonder why.

MDMA 2:18 PM  

@Young Turk,

Actually, it's directly relevant to today's puzzle.

Someone mentioned that the "pickup line" IT'S FOR YOU, in the sense of "picking up the (landline) phone", is rapidly becoming obsolete. That segued into discussing other obsolescent phrases like "hanging up the phone" and "the phone is off the hook".

On Monday, the clue "Three sheets to the wind" was cited as obsolete by Annabel, and someone explained its origin from sailing ship terminology. Same deal.

People interested in solving crosswords are often also interested in the evolution of language and vocabulary. Duh.

PS, the term "young Turk" is about a century old. Just sayin'...

Young Turk 2:28 PM  

Yes @MDMA, "pick up the phone" is exactly analogous to "three sheets to the wind:" An expression that few here would know the origins of without an explanation. Wow, in the old days people used to "pick up" and "hang up" telephones?! Teach me more, grandpa.

Unknown 3:21 PM  

Another theme answer could be NOW PRESTO or simply STEP ON IT.

MDMA 3:22 PM  

Complain to the constructors instead. If they use such phrases in the puzzle of the day, then we'll talk about them here.

You yourself say: "An expression that few here would know the origins of without an explanation". But then someone actually provides that explanation, and you whine about it.

Young Turk 3:32 PM  

@MDMA, You're not so good at the sarcasm, are you? Let me spell I it out for you: "Pick up the phone" I'd NOT an expression, since it means, um, "pick up the phone." See if you can tell how that is different from "three sheets to the wind."

Benko 3:37 PM  

@mdma: I believe they were being ironic. Telephones are obviously far more widely known about than nautical terms. They didn't disappear that long ago.

Anonymous 4:05 PM  


Don't be scared! Why don't YOU start a blog? Loren's Stories! And take sooooo many of your clubhouse friends with you.

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

This guy, whose name I can't pronounce, is quickly becoming a favorite constructor. Shower, wow!

question of the day 4:20 PM  


Pickup Artist 4:25 PM  

"Your parents must be terrorists because you're the bomb!"

NYer 4:47 PM  

I still have a wallphone in the kitchen. Just sayin'.

Pickup Artist 4:56 PM  

"If you really want to burn my ass put pepper on your tongue."

Warren Howie Hughes 4:59 PM  

How'dyado, Folks, WHH Herre, Back amid the fold of RexWorld after having been absent but for a days time.
You'll come to know that I'm somewhat rather prone to punning just a tad, and I'm extremely well aware you're quite familiar with AliasZ and Leapy, who are surely numbered among the best to be found ANYwhere in that particular AREA of cyberspace!
I always love seeing REAP in a Xword puz, as it was my late mums maiden name, a very rare Irish name, it is.
I really rather RELISH joining all of you wonderfully WITTY Rexites here on his popular blog, and I hope to 'AVE a nice long run,FIR as long as I had over on Word Play!?

nrota 5:01 PM  

Danny R I'm with you on Laverne Cox

Pickup Artist 5:06 PM  

"Hi, I'm new in this town and I don't know my way around. Can you show me the way to your house?"

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

Like many, I had the "FS" to start in the middle and thought "this can't be right."

On the Eco-friendly issue, pickup trucks certainly can't be worse than their 90%-the-same-but-heavier SUV cousins.

As to why pickups, when the open-bed utility isn't needed. My guess is price. My Large SUV Toyota Sequioa cost about $50k. It's equivalent twin-cab Tundra (seats 5 same as the 2seat Sequoia configuration), well fitted-out like the Sequoia, probably costs well under $40K, priced for a different demographic profile. Granted my Sequois has a 3rd seat that could carry another 3 people, but the minimum room for anything else and no trunk, of course; AND, the Tundra does have that utility of an open rear truck deck.

I've had posts deleted, and always assumed it was because Rex was offended. In fact, my former Nom de Rexville gets content deleted ALWAYS, so I assume that this blog framework has an option for the titular owner to do so. So probably some other such features as well.

aging soprano 6:12 PM  

Daniel Oren is actually an excellent and highly respected Opera conductor. He is a bit odd; he has the habit of singing along under his breath, so it is best not to sit in the first row when he is conducting. ALAS, I never got to sing under him. I was supposed to once, but he cancelled (he was known to do that a lot in his younger years) and was replaced by Hubert Soudant.
Dani Barenboim was born in Argentina but his parents moved to Israel and he grew up there. Neither Barenboim or Oren live in Israel today. Oren is remembered also as a child for his beautiful rendering of the boy soprano solo from Bernstein's Chichester Psalms.
By the way, OREN is the Hebrew word for pine tree, so we have both a FIR and a pine in this puzzle, along with KONG and Gonzilla.

aging soprano 6:13 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy 8:00 PM  

@aging soprano: You almost sang with Daniel Oren? I'm not asking you to blow your cover, but I am curious: If you DID reveal your name, would just about everyone here know it? Are you famous? Are you even very famous?

Teedmn 8:19 PM  

I started in the NE, and when I got down to ROOM, I was able to fill in the 2nd themer in full. Trying to go backwards across the top, I put ConeY at 7D. Which led to NEED A hand at 17A along with those silly mental justifications one makes when the answer doesn't exactly match the clue. I can't remember how I got it all sorted out but that section has much black ink spent on it.

Once again we get a peek at @Rex's moisture phobia, not liking STEAM (or at least the idea of manhole emanations), moist or spume - constructors, a theme perhaps?? :-)

I always liked how the Brits got off the phone in all of the anglophilic novels I read back in the day; they would 'ring off'. Not as prone to technology obsolescence in my opinion.

Nice puzzle, HS, thanks for a scintillating Wednesday, which is not a phrase often spoken here.

(And @M&A, I had arrived at a similar conspiracy theory, thinking Google had rewritten its rules for the blogger function. I went to Syndiland to see if any of the spell casters' posts had gone walkabout but it looks like most of them have actual Blogger IDs and those, at least, are still there. Back to square one on theories.)

Mohair Sam 9:27 PM  

@Nancy - You're not gonna get an answer - but good question. We're guessing here too.

Tita 9:44 PM  

@Z - my mom had the old "candlestick" style as a girl in Portugal. I only learned recently that it is from those phones that we get the phrase that has persisted. Thanks for the reminder about those "recent" wall phones.

Like @GeorgeB, I never looked past the ubiquitous NYC manhole covers venting STEAM. Glad I didn't.

@lms - love your pickup story! And your diet story. I hope you never jump ship!

kitshef 11:10 PM  

@Danny R - and yet, I'd to bet that 95% of solvers knew Laverne of Laverne and Shirley right away, and 80% have never heard of Laverne Cox. It's an inevitable consequence of the fragmentation of the market. Forty years ago, ANY show that ran more than a season was known to everyone. Even if you did not watch the show, you saw commercials for it and were aware of some things about it. I've never seen Dallas, but I know who shot JR, and [spoiler alert] I know about the season that was a dream. With only three networks, we all had the same cultural references. Conversely, today there are innumerable 'popular' shows that - if you don't go out of your way to see them - you'll know nothing about. I've heard of Orange is the New Black, but could not name an actor in it or tell you anything about it. And for sure the first time I've heard of Laverne Cox was in your comment above, and the first time I've seen here was when I googled her after reading your comment.

Anyway, I'd buy Laverne Cox for a Thursday-Saturday, but not for a Monday-Wednesday, on the basis of relative obscurity.

Laverne Cox 11:50 PM  

@kitshef: I am not for sale.

Anonymous 3:03 AM  


Leapfinger 9:22 AM  

Wonderful Wednesday, and I agree with all that FSERIES really came at you from around the corner. A theme both clever and novel, and a totally enjoyable solve. The clue for COMA alone deserves the Mother of all Blue Ribbons.

@lms, loved your 'how-we-met' story. Big smile with remembering He's Not Here (I always stayed outside). That game was before the Dean Dome, but finding one in 20,000 still made you a damn good eyer, even with binoculars!

DEIGN-O! (DEIGN-light come an' we wanna go home)

Surprised that more Noo Yawkwers didn't bring up SAKS 5th AVE. Clue for HYPO got under my skin; given my background, that 'shot from a doc' had me go with XRAY first. Since the correct plural is "mothers-in-law", it seems we should have had ENDSALL... and probably BEEvesCAKE. However, I really like the look of WHEREWEREWE -- an exercise in diminution.

I s'pose the 'Indie racer Luyendyk' isn't from India; I wonder how Mynheer Schouwerwou came to pick that clue. Not that I'm shilling for India ARIE...

Thanks for the Norwegian Wood earworm, mine Herre, and the best Wednesday in forever. A very catchy theme: when you get it, it Sticks!

Otto Mann 12:20 PM  

How many SHEETZ to the wind?

Literary (not land) lines:
KOBE or not KOBE? That is the question (Hamlette)

CheeseCAKE is a pinup hangs on the wall, as a representation of a pinup girl. As a parallel construct, BEEFCAKE is the representation of a hUnky gUy, not the hUnky gUy per se.
So sez the hUnky gUy.

@Young Turk, what do you know without knowing your past? Do you know the origins of'young turk'?


Unknown 8:04 AM  

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He cast spells for different purposes like
(1) If you want your ex back.
(2) if you always have bad dream
(3) You want to be promoted in your office.
(4) You want women/men to run after you.
(5) If you want a child.
(6) You want to be rich.
(7) You want to tie your husband/wife to be yours forever.
(8) If you need financial assistance.
(10) is the only answer to that your problem of winning the lottery

Contact him today on:

Burma Shave 10:55 AM  


“SOWHEREWEREWE?” and “Do you NEEDALIFT?” were a couple of her WITTY queries,
“ITSFORYOU to decide your OPTION to ride, we can GOFAR in my FSERIES.”

So I took that TOHEART as LAVERNE SATON my lap and said, “Let’s see how you’re HUNG, you NAVE.”
OVER and OVER I RELISH what that DAMN woman was UPTO, we made STEAM because lighting the TORCH was her FAVE.


spacecraft 11:35 AM  

Hand up for the "FS_____ can't be right" camp. In fact, the center was the last to fall--but a great aha! moment when it did. This kind of letter+word entry I don't mind; it's In The Language.

I'm reminded of an old urban legend from the world of theater. Many pairs of famous names were attached to this story--none true. I'll call the two actors Jim and Bob. These two were in a play together, and they were always playing pranks on each other. One night Jim went to the sound tech and asked him to ring the phone in the middle of a scene in Bob's living room. [Of course, there's no phone call in the script.] So the phone rang, Bob picked it up--then held it out to his buddy: "ITSFORYOU."

Fun times, those. SOWHEREWE? The puzzle. I liked it. All it's missing is another 13-letter one: COMEHEREOFTEN? to go with the two already there. Not a big fan of TRALALA, but otherwise the fill isn't painful. FAVE cross: I wonder how often a VETO has been issued in REVENGE. A solid B.

rondo 11:37 AM  

I thought this was a really decent Wed-puz, even with a couple of odd plurals which I didn’t RUE that much. No write-overs so it couldn’t have been too DAMN difficult. Biggest worry and only slowdown was the FS there in the middle, so I went around it saving it for last. Then, “Doh, you knucklehead, you’ve got two FSERIES out in the driveway!”

I guess I’ve used a lot of pickup lines over the years, but not any of these. I do remember saying, “WHEREWEREWE?”, not as a pickup line, but as I was hopping back in bed after calling in sick to work. I think she answered, “O, RON, O.” Something to that effect. Thank you, Deb, good memory EVOKEd.

Cheri OTERI, comedic yeah baby, as I recall. ENYA, musical Irish ethereal yeah baby.

Going to work was not an OPTION today, so a very casual solve experience at home. And this Bud? Wish I could say ITSFORYOU, but no. Nice puz to start the day.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

I'm in the same box as everyone who finished with "F Series." What a great puzzle and Easy at that. No complaints at all, and thank you Mr. Sch......

God what a beautiful day here in S.D. I really feel bad for all of those people affected by the tornadoes and storms in the past week. Many months ago I read an article about the weather station at the Arctic Circle relative to creating tests and experiments to perhaps control the weather. I wonder sometimes if these experiments have some effect on the crazy weather conditions experienced around the world. The weather science community should be investigated, IMHO.

Ron Diego La Mesa, CA

rain forest 1:53 PM  

I wonder if the constructor deliberately made sure that every solver would get to FS-----, leave that area, and then eventually return to finish the puzzle there. That's what happened to me, too. Pretty awesome.

@Ron Diego - climate change. Here in Vancouver, rain capital of Canada, we haven't had more than a few drops since the beginning of May. Unheard of.

When I was 6, my family lived in a naval housing complex with its own self-contained phone system including an operator who could place calls outside the system. The phones had a crank to call out, separate mouthpiece and earpiece. Our number was two longs and a short. Some may find that interesting. Your reaction may differ.

Liked this puzzle with its myriad "pickup" lines, none of which you'd use in a bar. I'd like to hear some of @Rondo's...

rain forest 1:56 PM  

Weird. I made my comment, and now I'm being asked to leave my comment.
See above.

Cathy 2:57 PM  

Fseries was my first entry. Ha ha, kidding!!

Had fun today. Took me a while which is good. Clean my room or puzzle...clean my room or puzzle...

Had a what?.. At wiener topper. R_ _ ish. Radish? I remember the controversy of slaw on hotdogs. Doi, relish of course!

@Ron Diego- surprised there hasn't been a movie about that. Or has there?

Gonna go listen to a story bout a man named Jed. Have a nice day all!

DMG 3:39 PM  

My stopper wasn't FSERIES which, fortunately, filled from the crosses. Did have to come here to find out what it was. Would have guessed something to do with electronics! My problem was trying to make sense of SO_ HE_ EWERERE. I somehow got focused on the EWE part, but couldn't think of anything "sheepish". Finally resorted to the old trick of writing it out in longhand, and all became clear. So a successful Wednesday solve.

@Rain forest; my grandparents lived in Burnaby when it was still country side, and their ring on the wall mounted, crank phone was two shorts. Think everyone was on a party line then.

@Z: I still cling to my land line dial phones, one of which is wall mounted. With an ADHD husband who literally cannot remember where he puts anything, I need phones that stay in place! Besides they all work wonderfully. Must admit I did have to break down and get one of those push button models to satisfy all those who demand you "push one"- whatever happen to having humans answer phones? The fits-everything rigmarole I go through when I call to fill a prescription is insanely annoying! Enough venting!

leftcoastTAM 8:29 PM  

Rex seemed unusually loose and relaxed in today's write-up. Maybe he was a bit into his cups? (Read it again and see.)

I anticipated Burma Shave's poetry as I went through some suggestive theme answers and then some very exploitable fill: BEEFCAKE and HUNG. But I would never be able to put it all together nearly as well as he can.

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