Popular sheepskin boots / WED 6-24-15 / Region known for its black tea / Monch Eiger for two / BC animal that goes ZOT / Classic Langston Hughes poem

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Constructor: Ian Livengood and J.A.S.A. Crossword Class

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: FIVE STARS (56A: What 17-, 23-, 33- and 47-Across each have) — five-star things, each answer having a somewhat different sense of what "five-star" means:

Theme answers:
  • THE PIERRE (17A: Luxury hotel overlooking Central Park)
  • OMAR BRADLEY (23A: First chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1949)
  • SOUTHERN CROSS (33A: Constellation visible in Melbourne and Sydney)
  • CHINESE FLAG (47A: Flier over Tiananmen Square)
Word of the Day: THE PIERRE 
The Pierre is a luxury hotel located at 2 East 61st Street at the intersection of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, facing Central Park. The hotel, which was designed by Schultze & Weaver, opened in 1930, and was later acquired by Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces of India. Standing 525.01 feet (160.02 m) tall, it is located within the Upper East Side Historic District as designated in 1981 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. (wikipedia)
• • •

I've quite liked puzzle co-constructed by J.A.S.A. in the past (J.A.S.A. stands for Jewish Association Serving the Aging), but this one seemed a bit weak. The core concept just isn't that interesting or entertaining. And it doesn't cohere that great either. I've heard of a five-star general and a five-star hotel, but not a five-star constellation or a five-star flag. SOUTHERN CROSS and CHINESE FLAG are associated with stars, sure, but the number "five," not so much. Also, if, like me, you get your sense of the SOUTHERN CROSS from the flag of New Zealand, then you were under the (apparently mistaken) impression that the constellation actually had four stars. So that was weird. Also, do people who don't live in NYC know THE PIERRE? I'd never heard of it. I get that the class (like the puzzle) is NY-based, so there's nothing *wrong* with a parochial answer like that, but I don't think that answer's going to resonate much in the sticks (i.e. outside the five boroughs). Ian and his class have certainly polished the puzzle well—I hope you can see the difference between puzzles made by experienced, conscientious constructors (Joel on Monday, Ian today) and run-of-the-mill, under-edited puzzles that the NYT runs. No wincing! All answers real and (mostly) interesting! OK, ARMLET is weird, but I'm pretty sure it's real. Anyway, this wasn't terribly exciting. Acceptable, for sure, but too basic, conceptually, and too wobbly in the execution for my tastes.

Biggest troubles were in and around THE PIERRE, just because I'd never heard of it. Wanted SCHEMATA for SCENARIO (3D: Plot outline). Wanted TO-DO for STIR (29A: Hubbub). Wanted STALLS for STABLE (11D: 35-Down [i.e. HORSE] quarters). Oh, I also had trouble around RODGERS, because I also don't really know who Richard RODGERS is. Is he RODGERS and Hammerstein RODGERS? Ah, yes, look at that—so he is. Not knowing him made FRIED and LOVED and SKI TRAIL all weirdly tougher than they should've been. I somehow thought the AMA  was the ["Protecting and promoting your health" org.]—that's a mistake I can understand and live with. I still think the expression is TRUE DAT but there's plenty of evidence that, at least on paper, I'm wrong. Or, rather, TRUE THAT is more popular. Crossword mainstay Michael CERA recently released an album entitled "TRUE THAT," so put that in your crossword trivia pipe and smoke it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


Wood 12:13 AM  

Glad I did the puzzle from top to bottom, so the revealer was the last themer I hit. A nice aha moment realizing what tied the other four together. A fast, smooth solve (decided not to struggle with downs-only this time). Cool idea to offer a crossword class!

jae 12:20 AM  

Easy-medium for me with @Rex the SE a tad tougher than the rest.  raVED before LOVED didn't help.

Nice to see ETS clued as something other than UFO pilots.  Speaking of which I attended a conference at their Princeton Headquarters a while back and it was very plush.  FIVE STAR accommodations and dining on site.  Something to think about when you mail in those  SAT/GRE/MCAT/LSAT/GMAT... checks.

Solid Wed. all the way around.  Liked it.

wreck 12:23 AM  
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JFC 12:23 AM  

Rex, I stayed at The Pierre in 1977 during the Blackout, so, yes, even though I was living in Cleveland then, I've heard of The Pierre. And, I can attest that its view of Central Park is spectacular.

Frankly, Rex, I am beginning to think that you are parochial in your critiques. I mean you work and live in Binghamton. That's a nice community north of NYC (I once knew an investment banker who married someone from there) but, really, you need to realize that in today's world there are a lot of people who do the NYT XWP who actually have experienced more in life than a black cow at the local drug store.


wreck 12:24 AM  

The revealer didn't help me much as I did not figure out the theme until well after I finished. I didn't know the New York hotel and guessed it might be The Palace, until the crosses put me on the right track. I also didn't know the Southern Cross constellation had 5 stars -- seems the 5th star is feint and not always visible, but the clue reads "constellation" not a flag, so I guess it is valid. Maybe not scintillating, but a pretty decent Wednesday for me.

Z 12:45 AM  

Under 11 minutes on a Wednesday even with the WOE of THE PIERRE. Not Le Pierre? Not The Peter? Yeah, pretty parochial in a U.S. sort of way. I have to agree with Rex, not the best JASA we've seen. Competent but not resplendent.

@Hot Fudge from yesterday - Rolling around on the mat with buff 20-somethings getting sweaty? TMI (Hey @GN - Auto correct keeps demanding an apostrophe in "somethings")

Whirred Whacks 12:48 AM  

Fun puzzle. I liked the 5-star theme.

Curious side note: Roger EBERT used a 4-Star (maximum) rating system.

I agree with JFC's 12:23 comment about the parochial nature of some of Rex's complaints. I had THE PALACE first, but after that didn't fit, I knew enough to fill in THE PIERRE (I've never stayed there, but I've walked by it many times -- I live in California).

Also, I don't understand his griping about Richard RODGERS. Rodgers is responsible for a quarter of the "Great American Songbook." Rex does know many more rappers than I do, however. But I do know that Diddy (Sean Combs) spent 9 hours in jail on Monday on charges of assaulting a UCLA assistant football coach with a 37 pound kettlebell.

George Barany 12:49 AM  

Puzzle was fine. I learned something new about Richard RODGERS, and was tempted to put in THE_PLAZA except for the fact that this iconic Central Park hotel is one letter too short. THE_PALACE occurred to me to, but is a better match for a Detroit sports arena than any hotel abutting Central Park [NYC and San Franciso each have a Palace Hotel, but that's not the same, nor is the NYC one anywhere near the Park]. For the record, both growing up in NYC, and then visiting every year or two thereafter, I have many times passed the Plaza Hotel (also memorialized in Neil Simon's play "Plaza Suite") but have only been in the Pierre once, at the closing banquet of a scientific conference.

There were other several mini-misdirections that sorted themselves out relatively quickly, like SALESMAN before SALESREP, CLEANS before CREAMS, TIRED before FRIED, and ADA before FDA (although what would the American Dental Association be doing promoting health beyond one's teeth). I would have probably clued NITRO differently, even with the same idea: it's the N of TNT. The ETS clue was refreshing, and the EBERT clue was amusing.

Well done, @Ian Livengood and @J.A.S.A. class (special hello to @Dan Chall, whom I've met and communicated with on multiple occasions).

John Child 1:23 AM  

I filled in a lot of the puzzle quickly. Unfortunately two of the early answers were wrong, so cleaning up AC/DC and CUT RATE took several minutes. The other error, RAVED {Gave a glowing review}, clogged up the reveal. Dentists were initially promoting my health too @George Barany; saw the reveal last, like @Wood, and enjoyed it more because of that. All in all a Wednesday time and more fun than usual!

FEEBLE and FUTILE are nice, but no word ladder. HORSE BORNE does though:


All Scrabble words, btw.

McFly 1:23 AM  
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AliasZ 1:40 AM  

I really enjoyed the challenge this Wednesday. I'll give it 4½✭s.

One reason ½✭ is missing: the SOUTHERN CROSS (Lat.: Crux) does not only have five stars. Within the borders of the constellation 49 stars have an apparent magnitude of at least 6.5, i.e. visible to the human eye through the atmosphere. The four points of the cross are Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta Crucis in descending order of magnitude, going from the foot to the right arm, to the head and to the left arm of the cross. Delta Crucis at the tip of its left arm is the dimmest of the four stars that make up the cross. Epsilon Crucis, smaller than Delta, is situated under the left armpit, and it does not figure in the shape of the cross at all. It is really a distraction from it, in fact the New Zealand flag proudly displays only the four largest stars. Therefore the clue "What [the theme answers] each have" is not entirely accurate for 33A. Yes, the SOUTHERN CROSS does have five major ✭s, but only four of them form the cross, and it certainly has a lot more than ✭✭✭✭✭. OMAR BRADLEY does not.

The other entry with which I personally found a problem with was TRUE THAT. First of all, it is TRUE DAT. Second, TRUE THAT in my mind is akin to other overused "hip" phrases that I have grown to despise, such as "it is what it is," "that having been said," "at the end of the day" "shoot me an email," etc. etc. Saying TRUE THAT indicates a FEEBLE attempt to appear hip and with-it but mispronouncing it, and it betrays a regrettable carelessness with proper English usage. Why "that's true" is not good enough is beyond me. It is similar to saying "Obvious this." or "Incredible that." or "Annoying the other thing." Yet in the judgment of Ian Livengood it was a ✭✭✭✭✭ entry today. Distressing that. It's OK as a cute-ish-in-an-awkward-way slang crossword entry, but it is my least favorite of the 72 today.

These two nits are responsible for that missing ½✭.

Otherwise I liked the lively theme entries gathered from far-flung fields. The fill was more than serviceable as well, with only a few minor ETS, STD, URI, and a tiny little ARMLET. I was surprised REcOunt didn't fit. It would be nice to be able to REVOTE six months after you realized you had made a mistake. Instead of obsessing over that, find solace in this all-too-brief excerpt from a lovely piece of music worth two FRANCs: Symphonies pour le festin royal du comte d'Artois by FRANÇois FRANCœur (1698–1787).

thursdaysd 1:51 AM  

@JFC - how nice for you that you can afford to stay at The Pierre. I have visited NYC several times, but have never heard of The Pierre (entirely agree, should be Le Pierre). That's because it's way out of my price range. (I stay at the Jane.)

JFC 2:03 AM  

@Thursday, I was on an expense account and Goldman Sachs was paying for it. My point is not the opulence. I am now eking out an existence (which helps me with the word EKE). My point is that people who do the NYT XWP come from varied backgrounds and experience and Rex should know that.


Poor son of a gun 2:21 AM  

JFC your obsession with Rex just gets creepier and creepier.

chefwen 2:30 AM  

Dang, I just erased my comment! Shoots, I hate when that happens. I won' t reiterate, don't want to bore the socks off of everyone (I was beginning to nod off myself.)

Made some of the mistakes mentioned above and still finished in record time. Fastest Wednesday that I can recall, but I liked it.

@George B. "It is what it is" and "At the end of the day" makes me want to run out of the room screaming NOOOOOO, stop it!

Rebus tomorrow, please!

mac 2:51 AM  

Fine Wednesday puzzle. I liked Scenario and True That, although I've only seen it with dat.

Yes, I know the Pierre, it's next to the Sherry. Wonderful location.

MDMA 4:11 AM  

The flag of Australia is seen much more often than that of New Zealand, and it shows five stars in the SOUTHERN CROSS (plus an additional sixth "Commonwealth" star in a different corner). Fun fact: New Zealand might change its flag next year.

I also briefly succumbed to THE PALACE disease, thanks to some obscure crosses. But we all should have realized that any true luxury hotel in NYC would always have an understated name. Anything with a blatantly "trying too hard" name like THE PALACE would be rejected as too tacky and gauche by its intended clientele.

I foolishly tried bIRthS rather than VIRGOS, with a too-clever interpretation of "Labor Day" and ignoring the obviously capital D.

SALESman for SALESREP held up the SE for a time.

@GeorgeBarany, NITRO for nitroglycerine is more appropriate for a Wednesday than asking people to know what the individual letters of TNT stand for.

@JohnChild, for BURST - BURNS, you left out BURNT in the word ladder.

MDMA 5:00 AM  

PS, the "constellation visible in Melbourne and Sydney" cluing establishes an Australian context, nothing at all to do with New Zealand. From the wording it's equally likely to be the one on the Australian flag as the one in the sky.

Also, some anagrams:

their peer
bad army role
stoner's chorus
english cafe

JTHurst 5:54 AM  

My definitive response to the star question of the Southern Cross is defined by my alma mater, the Americal Division shoulder patch. The Americal was formed during WW II in New Caledonia.

The five star US military designee was derived only during WW II to clarify leadership ambiguity over combined forces. Only nine have held the rank which was retired after Omar.

In my Wiki search I was surprised to see that General Washington was retroactively promoted to supreme general of US forces a rank superior to any officer rank in the US military history and unattainable by any other past, living or future soldier in the armed services.

Isn't it amazing how we can become locked into a word solution and even after crosses dissuade us from our original solution we still reluctantly relinquish it like "Palace" to "Pierre". Mine was 'skittish' for slippery slope and when crosses defined skitrail as the answer, I could not fathom what a skit rail was until my 'aha' moment.

Loren Muse Smith 6:46 AM  

I came really, really close to a Wed dnf, but only because I had "does" for DEER and didn't see the problem (even with _ _SS for the end of that knob plural). Once I changed "ada"(hi, @George and @John Child) and "raved" to LOVED (hi, @jae and @John), I finally got it.

Earlier on, I was certain it was The Plaza; I had an extra A in there somewhere because I wasn’t paying attention. And for the umpteenth time, I had "mosies" for MOSEYS.

Rex – I kept going back to make sure that "schematic" didn't fit. Agree that ARMLET is a weird word. That diminutive there reminds me of the old joke: Where does Russia keep its army? Up its sleevey.

UGGS – bite the bullet and get the real ones. I'm a big fan of buying generics, but I tell you, UGG knock-offs just aren't as good. (And while I'm at it, I find the generic tater tots, saltines, and Rice Krispies don't make the cut, either.)

PODIA. Great clue that doesn't commit to the things you stand on or stand behind. Serendipity - just yesterday I announced to my husband and son my plan to jump on the bandwagon and use the word podium for lectern, at least conversationally. I don't think I could write it, yet. Baby steps.

Also, last week in The Economist, I read *in two different articles* a sentence with their referring back to someone. Yeah, yeah, argumentum ad verecundiam and all that but still. On The Economist's Style Guide page is a quote by Henry Hazlitt:

“To write a genuine, familiar or truly English style”, said Hazlitt, “is to write as anyone would speak in common conversation who had a thorough command or choice of words or who could discourse with ease, force and perspicuity setting aside all pedantic and oratorical flourishes.” (bolds are mine)

So I guess I'm slowly folding up lectern and his or her, putting them in the keepsake drawer joining whom. Come over to the dark side, @Z!

All in all, a fine puzzle by Livengood and the JASA.

dk 7:00 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

Easy peasy and in Wisconsin we know it as a recall not a REVOTE. This was well done but seem more Tuesdayish..

@jfc, I hasten to point out that in Wisconsin one may see a black cow in the local drug store and in NYC one may order a vanilla egg cream :)

I typed in (have I whined enough about no paper) The Plaza as I would often stay there or at a small hotel next to Sarabeths, 1200 block of Madison. Used to live at 72 and Riverside round the corner from Zabars… those were the days.

What is it with you losers giving puzzles stars when I bring you the moons.

smalltowndoc 7:01 AM  

Was in agreement with @rex last two days. But not today. Another example where he didn't like the puzzle because of his own ignorance. Not familiar with Richard Rodgers? Seriously? Thinks Sydney and Melbourne are in NZ, apparently (33 Across could have been better clued but, as @MDMA points out, the SOUTHERN CROSS has five stars on the Australian flag). He never heard of the Pierre, therefore it's a bad entry. The World According to Rex, I guess.

I thought this was very well done. I really appreciate a xword (or is it an xword?) that teaches me new things.

dk 7:16 AM  

I am back. The small hotel in NYZ is the Hotel Wales. Stop in and go up to the Pied Piper room (second floor) where you will see great illustrations from Puss and Boots as I recall. My little gray cells and web searches cannot bring up the name of the artist. The illustrations are truly amazing and will teleport you back to your childhood in a NY minute. A NY refuge that may make old timers long for the return of the Actors bar at the Algonquin. NYC is full of small quiet places that provide some refuge, Write down the Hotel Wales and visit.

dk 7:16 AM  


Z 7:23 AM  

Reading the comments so far, I fear that Rex has been somewhat misunderstood:
1. Rex didn't know Richard RODGERS from this clue. Very different from not knowing Ruchard Rodgers.
2. If I were married to a Kiwi I might know that flag better than Australia's.
3. THE PIERRE is parochial. Worse, to my Midwestern ear it manages to sound both pretentious and provincial, too. "Understated?" Maybe relative to the trumpesque The Palace.

@LMS - Ask not for who the bell tolls, it tolls for you. {Z runs screaming from the room} Language evolves. Vowels shift. That doesn't mean we need to hasten every creative usage into the vernacular. Except for seeing it too much on soccer broadcasts, I love Neil Patrick Harris' "literally" ad for Heineken.

Z 7:28 AM  

Literally ad

AliasZ 7:35 AM  

The clue for 33A could not have referred to the Australian flag because CHINESE FLAG was already in the puzzle. Will would not commit such blunder two days in a row, would he? He did let OPEN and OPES slip by yesterday, but I am pretty sure in this case the intended reference was the actual constellation Crux visible in the sky above Melbourne and Sydney, as well as Auckland and Wellington. It is gorgeous, isn't it?

Steve O. 7:42 AM  

20 years living in NYC. If I've ever heard of The Pierre, it didn't stick. I guess it will now. Thanks, JASA.

AnnieD 7:55 AM  

Little easy for me. Solved like a Tuesday, but really enjoyed the fresh cluing and the fresh answers....nice fun for a Wed a.m. Why I'd give it 5 stars!

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

@Z - Rex clearly states "I don't really know who Richard Rodgers is." No misunderstanding there.

Seth 8:07 AM  

Dude. Rex. How in the world can you complain about CHINESEFLAG and SOUTHERNCROSS?? They literally have five stars. What do you mean they're not "associated" with five stars?? They have five stars in the most basic definition of the word "have!"

Name that tune 8:09 AM  

Sometimes you will be amazed by my ignorance. I am supposedly a professor of English, but I don't seem to know that "schemata" is a plural word. Either that, or I don't know how crossword puzzles work, which would be odd since I have been doing ten puzzles daily since I was in diapers. "Provincial" clues upset me, but my definition of "provincial" is "a clue about a place that I don't know." And seriously, "I don't really know who Richard Rodgers is?" Oh wait, I do?! But this is a crossword puzzle and it was clued fairly and creatively?! Waa.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

Me: What's a SKIT RAIL? Oh...

Elle54 8:14 AM  

I live in the sticks I guess ( Chicago suburb) so haven't heard of Pierre. Or have I? But now I want to stay there if it's that great!

RooMonster 8:18 AM  

Hey All !
Enjoyed this nice WedsPuz, actally finished with nothing wrong! Always feels good. Put me in the camp of not knowing THE PIERRE, further being distracted by the D I had in for the T in KIT. I kept thinking, DUE PIERRE?

Writeovers: STAlLs-> STABLE after reading cross referenced clue, ended up with FEElLE and said Wah?, Story arc->SCENARIO, SALESman-> mEn-> REP, DoEs-> DEER (Hi@LMS), KId-> KIT.

@AliasZ, did I read correctly you said Bradley wasn't a Five Star? He was...


Mohair Sam 8:25 AM  

Well we liked it a lot. Very surprised that many haven't heard of The Pierre, to us it's one of several famous NYC hotels you know about and can't quite justify staying at. Nothing parochial about it IMO. Didn't SNL guest hosts stay there in the '70's??? Seems like I can hear Don Pardo's voice mentioning the place.

I recuse myself from scolding @rex for not knowing Richard Rodgers without Hammerstein. I didn't know his Stan Lee the other day.

Great puzzle J.A.S.A. folks, way to go.

chefbea 8:29 AM  

I got the revealer first and expected to find the names of stars in the themes. I knew the Pierre...it's right down the street from The Plaza

RooMonster 8:32 AM  

@John Child, as the Resident Verbumleitermaus (thanks @Lewis!), I have to chime in on your Word Ladder. Too long! I got there in one step!
Using Lena Horne there. All's fair in Word Laddery! :-)


Dorothy Biggs 8:34 AM  

Relatively easy for me...sort of middling...no Googling, spell check, etc., but the PIERRE/PARER crossing (the R) took a while to fall. I actually wanted the hotel to be the PIERcE. Is this the hotel in one of the "Home Alone" movies? For some reason I associate this hotel with the Waldorf, maybe because the edifice is so well known I associate it with, to me, the most well known hotel in NYC. PARER didn't help. I have a paring knife...is that the same thing?

I also had raVED for LOVED and boss for CAPO.

I don't know what a SKITRAIL is. You got your slopes and your T-barred trams to take you up the slopes, but I've never heard of a ski trail...do you go hiking on it?

I actually say TRUETHAT..."true dat" is a colloquialism that is, um, outside my cultural sphere. That is, saying "true dat" is akin to saying "Wassup, dawg?" I just don't speak with those accents, but I do sometimes adopt the word order...I also sometimes say, "where you at?" I think it's mostly tongue-in-cheek. I think.

That damned Swiss Canton URI...ugh. I can never remember it.

From the "for what it's worth" department: Bambi always bothered me as a male deer name.

Aketi 8:36 AM  

@George Barany and @John Child, I went from WHO to CDC to FDA. Lately it seems as if members of the ADA actually spend more time on prevention than members of the AMA. I nn lame it on the current fee for service system in the USA.

@z, just to clean up yesterday's TMI vision, I like the buffer of the far more dense cotton of the BJJ Gis. For the most part, those who roll in BJJ are fanatical about the cleanliness of their Gis and the mat. Most also wear Lycra rash guards. Despite all the suggestive terminology of the techniques, 'Ive been impressed with the level of respect in BJJ. A few of the men in the "stand up" classes have had our senseis threaten to burn theI Gis because they didn't wash them enough. One sensei lgot so fed up she gave a new Gi to a repeat offender and threw his old gi in the trash.

joho 8:38 AM  

I loved the theme and wished I'd thought of it! Great job, Ian and J.A.S.A!

I, like @George Barany, wanted THEPlaza at first, but when it didn't fit immediately thought of THEPIERRE. @Rex, "Mad Men" shot some scenes of their new agency at THEPIERRE!

I always enjoy the J.A.S.A Crossword Class puzzles and this was no exception. Thanks again, guys!

Rhino 8:40 AM  

As a Minnesotan, I really wanted 'Pike, e.g.' to be 'fish.' When that didn't work, as a nerd I wanted it to relate somehow to a medieval weapon. Only with all the crosses did I see it was ROAD, which made no sense to me at all. But I live in a small town (where we actually did have a few cows escape and run downtown in the middle of the night last fall) and mostly drive on County Roads and State Highways.

noone 8:52 AM  

I rather enjoyed this puzzle. Admittedly I'm a New Yorker, so THE PIERRE is familiar even if I never stay in a NY hotel—but I could name a few well-known hotels in quite a few cities in the US and elsewhere. Well, maybe not Binghamton. . .
Rex may not have heard of a FIVE-STAR general or flag, but the word in the clue was have, not rated, so it helps to have a flexible mind.
I've only been doing x-w puzzles regularly for less than a year, but I'm constantly surprised by the words I didn't know I knew (ASSAM, PODIA), as well as by my almost total ignorance of pop culture (not so much of that today, thanks!).

Malsdemare 9:06 AM  

I think I may actually be the epitome of a "sticks-liver," living in a rural area outside a tiny, no-horse town, 10 miles from a central Illinois "city" of 40,000, and I got THE PIERRE. Maybe from New Yorker ads, maybe from books, who knows; some random neuron firing for a reason only it knows.

I wanted a harder puzzle today and this wasn't it. I blew through this too fast, hiccupping only at aDA (don't dentists care about health?), and StRAit for SCRAPE

Now I'm headed off 350 miles to another tiny town to try to find my great-great-grandmother. Genealogy is a lot like crosswords. You are trying to fill in a grid from obscure clues, often written in another language or misspelled (Var.), that can lead you down false TRAILS, and really mess with your mind. Often the build is very slow, just one or two people in disparate parts of the puzzle. But slowly, bit by bit, people emerge from the distant past and an overall sense of the puzzle starts to emerge. And when you finally break through a really challenging clue, the "aha" is blissfully sweet.


Indypuzzler 9:14 AM  

Since I've been crazy busy with work I just caught up on yesterday's interesting blog comments and particularly the grey v. dye for women and whether compliments on grey/silver are disingenuous. If left natural I would be the dulling brown version of salt and pepper. As I first starting getting more gray I found that the greys were a different texture and didn't seem to want to "play nice" with the other kids. Adding color adds texture to the pesky greys..voila...back to playing nicely with each other! I agree that it must be done to NOT look like a dead animal on head, highlights, shine, etc. and I am lucky to be able to budget for those perks. Lately I have made comment to a few women who have beautiful silver/grey hair. Usually they are the ones that not only have a beautiful complexion that complements the hair but I notice that their hair still PLAYS NICE! So those of you who fall into that category ( and you know who you are), please believe that these comments are genuine.
Yes, I noticed I used grey as in Grey Goose, then just stayed with it for consistency.

Haiku Nerd 9:16 AM  


Doug Garr 9:27 AM  

I knew who Richard Rodgers was but then I thought, did he win all those awards? Agree with Rex about True that. I always thought the slang version ruled. I though the review was a rave and not a love at first. I thought the labor day deliveries would be babies and not virgos, which I thought was a pretty obscure clue. But any time I finish a Wednesday fast I'm happy.

joho 9:57 AM  

Off topic, sorry, but @Malsdemare, love the crossed paws!

Tita 10:02 AM  

@dk...I've lit two cigarettes for us...

I liked how these phrases are linked... Would have been fun to have a few more star-related sub-entries, like EBERT.

I googled "how many stars in southern cross", and got an article from a Canberra news station saying five. @aliasz...I get what you're saying...there is the "accepted" number of stars, as defined by the Arabs, Greeks, etc..., and then there is the fact that there are an infinite # in any given constellation...

Factoid...the Portuguese João Faras, astronomer/physician to the king is generally considered to be the first "modern" westerner to document the constellation. 15th c explorers were looking desperately for a southern pole star to help in navigation, so astronomer to the king was a pretty good gig.
His drawing from 1500 shows more than 5.

Thanks JASA!
Oh...Faras was thought to have been a Sephardic Jew who converted to Christianity when he was brought to the court of the king. Whether that was his idea, a convenience, or a coercion is beyond he scope of this puzzle!

grammar nazi 10:20 AM  

@Porker, you beat me to it. I was going to point out Rex's "schemata" error.

Nancy 10:20 AM  

Loved how differently all the theme answers related to the theme and how knowing one answer wouldn't help you with the next answer. An unusually good Wednesday, I thought, and medium for me. too. But...

What is this new thing with me, where I write in wrong answers darkly, want to erase them and can't? (@jae, next rainy day, I'm heading to Staples.) This time it was THE PLAZA-oops-I'm-short-one-letter! This slowed me down, although, as a lifelong New Yorker, I certainly know THE PIERRE. But it is THE PLAZA one always thinks of first, as it is NYC's most iconic hotel. Anyway, maybe we should add to @lms' and others' lists of phrases for people who Aren't Playing With a Full Deck: "One second too quick and one letter too short."

About Richard RODGERS -- He deserved every award he ever won. No greater melodist ever drew breath. Or, as his daughter Mary once put it (in a talk I was privileged to be at): "He just peed melody."

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

@Nancy you live in New York? We hadn't heard.

BronxPuzzler 10:26 AM  

This puzzle was eminently solvable - with or without the 5 star theme. It is next to impossible to imagine that anyone who can complete even a Monday crossword - much less a Wednesday- might not know about Richard Rodgers.

Andrew Heinegg 10:43 AM  

I usually disagree with bloggers who criticize Rex (especially when the critcism comes in the form of a character assasination) but, complaining about a well clued reference to the estimable Mr.
Rogers, well, come on Rex! I thought this was a nicely constructed Wednesday-ish puzzle.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

The Pierre is referenced in Annie Hall, where "Jack and Angelica" are staying. While it is very NYC, and Annie Hall is very NYC, I do remember that line and so came to me quickly.

Nancy 10:43 AM  

@dk (and @tita): Tita may have lit two cigarettes and may be waiting for you in the Pied Piper Room, but I'M the one who lives 3 blocks from The Wales and I'm pretty sure I can get there ahead of her. Just sayin...

Anon 10:25: Wanna make something of it? (I may call in Aketi to help me out.)

Hartley70 10:46 AM  

@ChefBea, think across Fifth Avenue and just a scooch uptown and there you have The Pierre, which I'm sure is what you meant. I've never been in the Sherry Netherland, @Mac, but The Pierre is lovely. Much smaller than The Plaza, and a bit more expensive and upscale than the Plaza was. I seem to remember a club-like disco in the basement there in 1971 where I danced one night away, but it was gone "in the blink of an eye". (I couldn't help myself.) I don't think many of us could manage a prolonged stay there, but we don't shop at Bulgari and Harry Winston either. It doesn't mean we can't dream.

This was a very enjoyable puzzle. I totally had a flashback to the TNT clue with NITRO. It was a chilling moment.

My only hangup today, which means I needed those crosses, was TRUETHAT. That's a thing? It's horrible, only made better by the existence of TRUEDAT apparently. Please bring back "lectern" if this is the future!

@dk, thank you for the Hotel Wales info. It sounds wonderful and could be very useful. I've been particularly taken with your posts this week. Do you get Zabar's to send you nostalgia packages?

Alvie Singer 10:49 AM  

Anon@ 10:43: Thank you! It was killing me that I couldn't remember which famous movie mentioned The Pierre. Now I can sleep tonight.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

And just to tie things together, "Under the Southern Cross" is one of the movements of the suite "Victory at Sea", written by Richard Rodgers

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

And I suspect Roger Ebert reviewed some movies that had Roders' songs...

Name that tune 10:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:59 AM  

^^^^ oops

Joseph Michael 11:02 AM  

FIVE STARS for a perfect Wednesday solve.

Liked learning about Richard Rodgers' multiple honors. (I didn't realize he had won ALL of those awards, including a Pulitzer). Also liked the clues for VIRGOS and ANTEATER.

But looking back at the grid without the clues, I must say that I wondered what a SKIT RAIL is...

...a barrier to protect comedy performers from the audience?

Leapfinger 11:09 AM  

Ha! "It is what it is" and "It ain't what it used to be". Better take your pick, if you try to have it both ways, you'll end up with AMISHmosh and INCApacitated.

I always enjoy Livengood and his class act. Like @GBarany, I TOO wanted THE Plaza, likely on account of the crosswordese EL_OISE. (Also, I know that intersection at 5th Ave: it's a tough one for pedestrians.) Similarly, NITRO says -glycerin to me, rather than TNT, but no biggie.

Am in agreement that ARMLET is fairly FEEBLE [I trust no sickos out there were thinking of thalidomide], but have to take a stand against @Rex, 'cuz I'm down with the five-star SOUTHERN CROSS. TRUE THAT both @AliasZ and NewZ-land opt for four, but Australia, Brasil, Samoa and Papua New Guinea include that axillary ancillary little 5th Epsilon Crucis. Like the Fiddler on the Roof and the US 1st Marine Division, I'm going with Tradition.
NB: there are no stars on the flag of BORNEo, and only three PER SE from Michelin.

Liked the BRONTE sorors and the ungrammatical AN TEATER. Matter of fact, liked the whole KIT and caboodle from KISS to SRS crossing the ALPS.

@Alias, I've not yet listened to the FRANCs, but if it's half as good as Rossini's MOSEYS, it'll be a treat.

"Are all the roofs made of slate?"
"No, there's a FUTILE."

Gotta run, lots to reINSTATE.

Alvie Singer 11:16 AM  

A small correction @Anon 10:43:

TONY (to Alvie and Annie):
"Uh ... w-we're going back to the Pierre.
We're staying at the Pierre ... and we're
gonna meet Jack and Angelica, and have a
drink there, and ... if you'd like to come,
uh, we'd love to have you."

So it's Tony (Paul Simon) and his girlfriend who are staying at The Pierre (perhaps with Nicholson and Houston?).

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Can someone help? How is PIKE a clue for ROAD? Is it like a turnpike? Is shortening it to "pike" a NY/northeastern thing (much like turnpikes themselves)? I've lived in Texas, California, and Chicago but remain confused by this clue/answer. I thought it was a fish? Or the original captain of the Enterprise?

weingolb 11:22 AM  

Great puzzle with solid fill, I thought. In photos, I definitely recognize THEPIERRE, so I'm glad it's there as a themer and that Rex refers to its Wikipedia page. Take a look at its Mansard-roofed greatness.

An aside: Did you know Wikipedia entries can include green paint, just like xwords? The entry for THEPIERRE says Charles Pierre left Pierre's (his restaurant, which came before the hotel) because of the "democratization of public manners." I wondered exactly what this meant. It's a phrase that only seems to be used in the Charles Pierre story (or so says Google). The wiki entry cuts out context that would have been helpful, making it appear vague and green-paintish. Is the D of PM really a thing? The original source material to which the entry refers elaborates: Pierre angrily left his restaurant because women were increasingly smoking publicly (and in his establishment). ...oh, those public manners!

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Considering the fact that this puzzle appears in (duh) The NEW YORK Times it always amazes me to read the complaints about clues that pertain to this city. Just because you don't live here doesn't mean it isn't well known or that some of you think the name should be different. It's The Pierre...not Le Pierre.

old timer 11:26 AM  

One of the charming things about Rex's blog is that he frankly admits to the *bad* ideas he comes up with before putting in the right answers, and slaps himself in the face for his mental lapses, like forgetting who Richard RODGERS was (and I can hear the "d'oh!" he must have let fly when he figured out it was the composer of "South Pacific" and all those other great musicals). Rex, I know you read this blog, and please, don't change your style.

Well, you *could* stop being so provincial. I knew of THEPIERRE before I ever saw it, because I used to read about Bobby Short, who performed there for many years. And I have walked past it and taken a peek inside. Way to expensive for my wallet, but then my favorite hotel (the San Carlos) has gotten pricey too -- just not that pricey.

I was saying to myself, "This is way too easy for a Wednesday" until I got to the revealer, which revealed nothing, in my case. Like many of you, I wanted "raved" instead of LOVED. And I had "AMA", changed to "ADA" because DEER. FLAG and FRIED gave me FIVESTARS, and of course FDA.

Then I started looking for the letters in "star" in the themers, and could not find them. When I figured out that these were people, places, etc. with five stars, I sat back and said, "This was a surprisingly good puzzle, and not as easy as I thought."

Alvie Singer 11:27 AM  

Eureka! I found the Annie Hall scene. Fast forward to 1:21:30:

Annie Hall

Carola 11:35 AM  

Liked it very much - nifty theme that kept me guessing all the way to the reveal, many other fine entries. I also liked the international flavor of the puzzle: ASSAM, INCA, SOUTHERN CROSS, CHINESE FLAG, FRANC, ALPS, URI, YEN along with the N. American references make 5 continents. Also nice, the agreeable stack of I,TOO and TRUE, THAT.

How I knew SKI TRAIL: "Canadian Sunset," 1956:

Once I was alone
So lonely and then
You came, out of nowhere
Like the sun up from the hills

Cold, cold was the wind
Warm, warm were your lips
Out there, on that SKI TRAIL
Where your kiss filled me with thrills

A weekend in Canada, a change of scene
Was the most I bargained for
And then I discovered you and in your eyes
I found the love that I couldn't ignore

Down, down came the sun
Fast, fast, fast, beat my heart
I knew when the sun set
From that day, we'd never ever part

And, while I'm at it, I also noticed INCA ROAD across the top. According to the Smithsonian mag, "The Inca Road was built by engineers and laborers working with bronze and stone tools and llamas. At the height of the Inca Empire, it integrated nearly ten million people from a hundred nations. Today, much of the 24,000-mile network is still used by South America’s indigenous peoples. The road’s backbone, the 3,700-mile Qhapaq Ñan, runs the length of the Andes, connecting Santiago, Chile, to Quito, Ecuador."

@loren - I also wrote in DOES (under Four STAR), so that patch was a mess. Then I remembered that Bambi is a boy.

@chefwen, @George B, @Alias Z - C'mon guys, at the end of the day, it is what it is. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Sir Hillary 11:41 AM  

No time to read comments today, so apologize if I'm repeating others'. Just wanted to say that I was totally in the dark until the revealer itself, which was the last word I wrote in. That alone made the puzzle cool.

William C 11:43 AM  

@Leapy --

I'm jumping in before @Mr. Nazi, though this may be off his beat...

Re: "Liked the Bronte sorors..."

I assume you're referring to your HS Latin, in which case (no pun intended), you may have meant "sorores" (plural accusative case, from your context).

And this from me, who has no language ability, then foolishly struggled through 4 years of HS Latin, barely dodging Cs most of the time (but not always). I'll always remember our teacher Miss Mason, fondly known as "Moose Mason," with a body type to match. She was classically educated, frequently referring to her European experiences in her youth, often prefacing with "When I was abroad..."' which always caused tittering among us clever young men.

Oh how I do ramble on ...

Lewis 11:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 11:48 AM  

THE PIERRE has also been referenced in Mad Men, The Sopranos, and CSI:NY (Wikipedia).

The grid is clean overall, and I liked MOSEYS, FADERS, and TRUETHAT. Like @nca, I've written and said "true that" and don't write or say "true dat". Yes, one can easily say "that's true", but I just like the feel of saying "true that". I thought the theme was original and clever and held together well. Mini theme: Answers that start with F (5). It was a little easy for a Wednesday; I would have liked some more clever cluing. But it had enough bite to make the solve satisfying.

I don't know how a crossword class comes up with a puzzle -- do students vote on clues? Would Ian or a class member care to edify???

Billy C 11:50 AM  


You may be right that "Pike" as "Road" may be a northeastern thing.

Here in Massachusetts, the easternmost portion of Interstate 90 is called "The Mass Pike."

See: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e0/Mass_Pike_shield.svg

Hartley70 11:52 AM  

@Anonymous 11:21, I'm not a PIKE expert, but my grandmother lived on Putnam Pike in Rhode Island and it was not an official abbreviation for turnpike which as I understand it, collects tolls. Perhaps a Pike has once been a toll road, but no longer operates as such.

Billy C 12:01 PM  

@Hartley70 --

More rambling on "Pike:"

Turnpikes now may or may not be toll roads. My guess is that there are probably both now.

But originally they were toll roads, constructed by private interests as profit-making enterprises. Entryways were guarded and blocked with a swinging pole (or "pike"), which was enough to make horse-drawn wagons stop before paying the toll. After which, the guard would swing open ("turn") the pike to allow passage.

Lewis 12:13 PM  

Factoid: AMISH dolls are typically rag dolls dressed in the Amish style, and while some have faces, the best known are faceless, to emphasize the fact that all are alike in the eyes of God. (Wikipedia)
Quotoid: "My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said OKAY, you're ugly too." -- Rodney Dangerfield

Questinia 12:17 PM  

THE PIERRE....to meet *him*
The Carlyle.... for drinkie-poos
The Plaza.... for tea and crosswords
The Waldorf-Astoria.... for floral arrangements.
The Sherry Netherland.... to dish with Muffy and Bitsy.

Then off to Bergdorfs and Bendels. Bloomies for frozen yogurt ONLY.

Arrivadella Dahlings.

chefbea 12:23 PM  

@Old timer Didn't Bobby Short play at the Carlyle??

mathguy 12:59 PM  

I know The Pierre because The Closer's dad ran the check room there when she was a girl. She checked coats for him from time to time.

Where might I have heard TRUETHAT? In a sitcom?

I liked it. I learned a couple of thongs.

Chip Hilton 1:09 PM  

@Questinia - Mahvelous.

Here's to the City.

Ludyjynn 1:17 PM  

@oldtimer and @chefwen, Bobby Short had a very long run at the Café Carlysle. YouTube has a nice video of him playing piano there. Google Café Carlysle for the link.

Hand up for 'THE Plaza' before PIERRE; it made me crazy when it wouldn't fit. It is TRUE THAT both are ritzy, but to me the Plaza is simply iconic, in particular for the exterior scenes shot there in "The Way We Were" and my own experiences at the Palm Court. "Crocodile Dundee" was also filmed there. BTW, @Questinia, your swanky NYC hotel breakdown was priceless!

The puzz. was OKAY, but didn't STIR me up one way or the other. Neither LOVED it nor loathed it. Did like learning the EBERT book title and about the many awards earned by the great Richard ROGERS.

Thanks, IL, Xword Class and WS.

RnRGhost57 1:24 PM  

A fun and interesting puzzle. Hats off to IL & JASA.

Young Turk 1:29 PM  

Well I'm certainly glad the conversation has gotten more contemporary today. Anyone here see Mozart when he was playing at the Imperial Court in Vienna?

RnRGhost57 1:35 PM  

@Young Turk: why so churlish? Not had your afternoon milk yet?

Ludyjynn 1:35 PM  

Make that Carlyle.

Eddie Haskell is at it again.

Benko 1:52 PM  

I also say TRUE that sometimes. But I hate "It is what it is." Usually it means, "I'm a jerkoff, but I'm not apologizing for it."

Young Anatolian 2:44 PM  

OK, the self-described Young Turk has gotten our 15 minutes of attention. Can we all please ignore him from now on, and maybe he'll grow up or go away?

My guess, actually, is that he is a bitter dotard, destined to always be on the sidelines, who just never got past the bullying phase.

You do know that old adage (coined, ironically, by a seriously old dude) "On the internet, nobody knows you're an ass."

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

@ Young Anatolian:
Way to ignore the troll. You should keep posting things about ignoring him.

Pete 3:43 PM  

@Young Turk - Yes, I have memories from 20 years ago, and on occasion some of them brought are to mind by something in the puzzle and I may or may not. I can see why this, memories of 20 years ago, is upsetting to you as your only memory of 20+/- years ago is crapping your pants on an hourly basis.

You have my apologies.

Masked and Anonymous 4:16 PM  

Knew THEPIERRE, because that's where Ossie Davis (Marshall) tells Tom Hanks (Joe) to stay, for his "last night in New York", in the primo "Joe vs. the Volcano" flick. Joe eats dinner alone there while listenin to Elvis sing "Blue Moon".
***** movie.

3-U puz.

Lots of wide-open spaces and long answers in this one. Fun solve, for a puz made by committee.


Hartley70 4:39 PM  

@Ludy, ding, dong! I'm "sensing" a presence at your front door.

grammar nazi 4:50 PM  

@Pete said, "Yes, I have memories from 20 years ago, and on occasion some of them brought are to mind by something in the puzzle and I may or may not."

I don't think I have to say anything at all.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

My only real issue today is Nitro. I have never heard anyone refer to nitroglycerin as Nitro. I luckily got the clue from the crosses.

This puzzle seems better for a Tuesday, in my opinion.

Dr. Phl 5:26 PM  

Anon@ 4:54--I guess you don't know any doctors or nurses, or cardiac patients, or pharmacists...

Sarah Palin 5:30 PM  

Hah @GN @4:50--@Pete sounds a lot like me!

Pete 5:35 PM  

@GN = Yes, I left out "share them here" from that sentence. I noticed an error in the previous sentence as I was typing, left the current sentence to fix it, and proceeded blithely along on the subsequent sentence. It was a mistake. I plead guilty to being human.

You, however, are just an ass.

Leapfinger 5:53 PM  

Say Hey, Anonym! In the Wiki disambigu8 for NITRO, the first section is Chemistry, first item in list is Nitroglycerin. Of course, they also list nitrous oxide there, which I've only heard abbreved to 'nitrous'. Guess you'll need context to avoid significant medical errors.

@William C, assuming you aren't Billy C, I'll just say I'm willing to mess up any declension if there's a Brontesaurus pun to be made. My HS Latin teacher (Peter Church) would have approved, I think; he knew that 'hujus, hujus, hujus' was funny to say. I'm sure that his telling us that 'recalcitrant' came from 'calcaneus' ---'a schoolboy, kicking back his heels' --- that started my lifetime love affair with word roots.

In case you are @Billy C, I'll say that in spite of all the recent news on Caitlin ne Bruce, I'm not currently interested in gender reassignment.

And don't laugh at @Pete; haven't we all had text suddenly highlighted in blue, that gets deleted before you can stop yourself hitting the next keystroke? Let's have a little empathy here.

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

Do not laugh at @Pete, because he certainly can't laugh at himself. He responded exactly how @GN wanted him to.

William C 6:34 PM  

@Leapy --

My bad [blush]. Didn't get the Bronte sorors (brontosaurus) pun.

Unknown 7:57 PM  

Check out Mammoth Mountain Ski Trails map:

With the drought, wishful thinking.

Teedmn 8:02 PM  

I have cross grid write overs - acdc for KISS and (blush) dane for ALPS (thinking of Munch, yes Norwegian, I know) but SALESman made it too easy and I didn't have the crosses, etc., etc

But because I had acdc, none of the downs in the NW were going anywhere so moving into the NCentral gave me the ERRE of 17A, eliminating one common error here today.

I do not have a bucket list, per se, but will do my best to get south of the equator at some point. Every time I talk to someone who has visited the Southern Hemisphere, I ask them if they looked at the constellations down there. A few times I've gotten a jaw-dropped response as they (they is OK per @LMS) realize they missed that opportunity. My favorite CSN song is Southern Cross. So someday I'll see those four (five) stars in person, I hope.

In my teens, I heard myself use the phrase, "I remember ten years ago..." and thinking, 'Wow, I can remember more than ten years back now'. As time has passed and I can remember multiples of ten years, I sometimes think of that first epiphany. It's not painful, just sometimes surprising. But I certainly haven't gotten to the point where I live in memories. I don't see how people can write memoirs unless they kept a journal. It's a big blur with some stand out moments for me. (Too much time spent reading, not doing, perhaps). This is apropos of not much, sorry.

FWIW, SKI TRAIL could refer to X-country skiing.

Thanks, Ian and JASA, nice theme and fill.

Unknown 8:14 PM  

OLD movie safecrackers. YEGG, sorry, an uncontrollable impulse, and a word I've never encountered other than in crosswordland.

Ludyjynn 8:26 PM  

@Hartley70, a package seems to have MOSEYed its way to my front porch late this afternoon. I let the bomb sniffing dog and cat inspect it and they assure me that anything from "Rexworld" is safe to open as long as I follow the instructions...the countdown begins!

Nancy 8:43 PM  

@Leapfinger--Your HS Latin teacher sounds a lot cooler than my HS Latin teacher. Mrs. Cannon Ducky (our nickname for her, since she was a British Cockney of a certain age who called everyone in the class "Ducky") was an absolute ditz and a disgrace to one of NY's premier private schools. We called First Year Latin: "Latin, Self-Taught." She fancied herself an opera singer, and would sing, in a shrill falsetto with much vibrato, at the drop of a hat. She sang the hic, haec, hoc declension to "Three Blind Mice" -- but damn, if I don't remember it more than a half-century later:

Hic, haec, hoc,
Huius, huius, huius,
Huic, huic, huic,
Hunc, hanc, hoc,
Hoc, hac, hoc.

Or DO I remember it? Latin scholars, let me know. I didn't look it up. I'm just hearing Three Blind Mice in my head. And if I'm right -- or even close -- then maybe her pedagogical method wasn't so bad!

JFC 9:12 PM  

It's at the end of the day and I decided to scroll through the comments. The two points of interest seem to be Richard RODGERS and The PIERRE.

@chefbea, it's been many, many moons but I recall that The Pierre is around the corner from The Plaza, not down the street.

Sometimes I feel when I come here I am embroiled in a bout of mud wrestling. I try to help with a bucket of mildly warm, soapy water but, alas, my good intentions never seem to be appreciated.

Now, to be real for a second, what, frankly surprised me about this puzzle was the military undertone. I can't recall when Will Shortz last published a puzzle with that hue. And, to be fair to Rex, while he did not put it this way, Shortz seems to have changed his standards to publish this puzzle, likely because of its constructors.


Anonymous 9:26 PM  

@Nancy@8:43: You're STILL from New York?!

Hartley70 9:30 PM  

@JFC, both hotels have their main entrance on Fifth Avenue. the Pierre is just on the east side of Fifth and the Plaza on the west side of Fifth. The Pierre is just a bit further uptown.

@Ludy, Phew... I like a woman who appreciates anticipation.

Anonymous 9:38 PM  

Anon@9:26: Nancy went to a "premier private school." In NY, of course.

Very, very impressive.

Aketi 10:23 PM  

@Nancy, happy to oblige. You can hire me as your body guard anytime for the price of a capuccino in the am or a beer in the pm or merely a walk or jog around the reservoir. Working on freeing up my Friday for a moment in Central Park since my work week has been quite busy so far.
@Teedmn, I loved xcountry skiing when I lived in Seattle and later when I lived in Ithaca.
@Carola, like the ski trail poem. I have friends in Montreal that I'd visit every New Years for x country skiing and there is nothing quite like the beauty of skiing in the nose freezing weather when the snow is so cold it squeaks and your thighs burn with the pain of the cold. I spent six months in the Andes doing surveys in 30 randomly selected pueblos, some of which were on the Incan trail. There were many sites on that trail that were as achingly beautiful as the beauty of a freshly broken trail through the snow.
@Roger Brown, as a fifth generation Californian whose parents met on the slopes of Tahoe, the effects of the drought on the ski slopes make me sad.
@JFC, I am a veteran of lactation listserves and Facebook breastfeeding groups. This blog is merely a microscopic speck of mud on your toe in comparison to the mud wars that occur in the infant feeding discussions. The media always loves to detonate the nuclear option whenever possible so they can increase ratings by pitting mom against mom.

Aketi 10:31 PM  

@leapfinger, I am very fond on NITROUS OXIDE after having had sebpveral surgeries using other types of anesthesia that left me feeling quite ill for up to a week afterward. After a long discussion with a very funny anesthesiologist about all my reactions, he decided to try nitrous oxide on me. It was the best experience ever. I woke up feeling happy, but never felt hung over. The first thing that comes to mind when I read NITRO, however, is NITROX for scuba diving, I haven't tried that yet.

Z 11:09 PM  

@anon8:02 am - Oh, I also had trouble around RODGERS, because I also don't really know who Richard RODGERS is. Is he RODGERS and Hammerstein RODGERS? Ah, yes, look at that—so he is. Do you see how the rest of the quote shows that Rex didn't make the connection from the clue? Rex writes in a "natural voice," quite useful in this blog as most solvers can relate to not getting a clue and then going, "d'oh." But, yes, Rex did know of RODGERS of RODGERS and Hammerstein.

Someone smarter than me once observed that New York is the main character in many Woody Allen movies. Citing Annie Hall just reinforces my parochial impression of the answer THE PIERRE. Not that there is anything wrong with being parochial - it's pretty much part of the human condition. I still think it is true, even of Americans in our highly mobile society, that a sizable majority of people will die within 10 miles of where they were born. Not one of you will ever convince me that any beach anywhere on the planet surpasses the beaches of west Michigan. Parochial? TRUE THAT.

JFC 11:59 PM  

Hartley70, The Plaza is on Grand Army Plaza and The Pierre on around the corner on Fifth Avenue after a block. But Grand Army Plaza seems like it's Fifth Avenue.

Hartley70 12:37 AM  

Grand Army Plaza is just the fountain in front of the Plaza's main entrance. Think of it as a little front yard and the Plaza's driveway comes around it. The Plaza's street address is Fifth Avenue, not Central Park South. I suppose this is all semantics and we'd both know exactly where to go if either one of us were visiting these iconic hotels.

Unknown 1:39 AM  

An extremely easy puzzle for me today. Saw a clue, wrote an answer, all the way down to the very bottom where I put in AMA instead of FDA. One erasure!

Billy C 7:59 AM  

@Aketi --

I too used to ski in Canada, north of Montreal at Mont Tremblant. Several of us single guys would drive up there from Boston over the long Thanksgiving weekend, since there typically was no snow yet in New England, perhaps a little of the man-made stuff. It also gave a few of us the opportunity to try out our HS French. We'd stay in a Montreal hotel one night, to experience the "Continental atmosphere."

Much later we visited Quebec once with two other families; much more "Continental" there, of course.

Fond memories ...

Leapfinger 10:10 AM  

'My favorite CSN song is Southern Cross. So someday I'll see those four (five) stars in person, I hope.'

So here's me thinking, "Hey, that's only three stars! Four, if you include Neil Young!" Guess my short-term memory only goes back one sentence at a time, eh?

Speaking of "eh", thanks for Canadian Sunset, @Carola. Bet that took a bunch of ex-pats way, way back. And drove some young turks around the bend, into the bargain.

'...I try to help with a bucket of mildly warm, soapy water...'
Sounds like an enema to me, JFC.

@aketi [sic], hope this won't be the start of a litany with everyone reminiscing about their nitrous experiences, or this will never end.

Appreciating the nice reminiscing about Montreal and environs, while somehow feeling parochially possessive about it. (Seventeen years, did some of the first stages of my growing up there.) In those days, the 'mericans came to la Belle Province, the Montrealers went to Plattsburgh. Not sure how well the HS French did; the Quebecois isn't exactly Parisian French.
From my POV, Quebec City is more 'French', Montreal is more variedly 'Continental'. YMMV

Mercredi beckons.

Aketi did 11:56 AM  

'I am a veteran of lactation listserves...'

Is it possible to roll your eyes so far back in your head that they only show the whites forever after?

I don't think I've sinned enough to deserve this.

Unknown 2:37 PM  

Am here to testify what this great spell caster done for me. i never believe in spell casting, until when i was was tempted to try it. i and my husband have been having a lot of problem living together, he will always not make me happy because he have fallen in love with another lady outside our relationship, i tried my best to make sure that my husband leave this woman but the more i talk to him the more he makes me fell sad, so my marriage is now leading to divorce because he no longer gives me attention. so with all this pain and agony, i decided to contact this spell caster to see if things can work out between me and my husband again. this spell caster who was a woman told me that my husband is really under a great spell that he have been charm by some magic, so she told me that she was going to make all things normal back. she did the spell on my husband and after 5 days my husband changed completely he even apologize with the way he treated me that he was not him self, i really thank this woman her name is Dr Aluta she have bring back my husband back to me i want you all to contact her who are having any problem related to marriage issue and relationship problem she will solve it for you. her email is traditionalspellhospital@gmail.com she is a woman and she is great. wish you good time.

Teedmn 8:57 AM  

@Leapy, you got me. But since I've seen the "three" stars in person, I'm going to stick with the four star goal and I'm not talking Neil :-).

kitshef 11:29 PM  

After filling in 1A I felt compelled to make all my esses in the form of those in the KISS logo.

SynopsIs before SCENARIO - thought everyone would have that but unless I missed it no one has mentioned it in the comments.

REVOTE - not really a thing, is it?

Anonymous 4:47 PM  

How about SPAMcaster?

Burma Shave 10:20 AM  


The SALESREP’s SCENARIO went something like this:
The AMISH girl said, “DEER, I’ve a YEN for a KISS”,
and ADDS, ”Resistance is FUTILE, nothing INHIBITS me, I warn.”
So there in the STABLE I ROAD her and SIRED her first BORNE.
And NOSIR, it’s not TRUETHAT I LOVED her by force,
OKAY, so then let’s be FRANC, I’m hung like her HORSE.


spacecraft 10:46 AM  

Lot of action today. Lot. Of. Action. "You shoulda played those kings." OKAY, enough of the Rounders dialog--spoken in Binghamton, heh heh. But "At Last" I have found Monday's puzzle: it's here! Why these two weren't reversed is a mystery to me. The challenges for this one were miniscule: accepting TRUETHAT and REVOTE as legit entries. I have never heard of a "REVOTE." Plenty of recounts, but no REVOTE. Perhaps in another country, where democracy is merely a facade...

As for the other one, I'm in the TRUE DAT camp. People do say TRUE DAT, whether using or imitating the dialect. I have heard no one say, "True THAT." NOSIR.

Other defects: Not one but two THE's. No attempt, or occasionally a FEEBLE one, at freshening the clues. This clue set definitely belongs in a Monday puzzle. I breezed through this like Walter O'Brien doing the SATs. Still, I liked the theme. It's original, clever and well executed, save for that THE in front of PIERRE. I concede that no one would think of saying "PIERRE" (meaning the hotel) without the "THE," but it still doesn't belong in a crossword grid. All it is is a stretcher to extend an entry to the desired number of letters. A crutch. The rest of the fill isn't bad. Wanted Synopsis before SCENARIO, and hand up for the chauvinistic SALESman.

The spellcasters just won't go away; they're like the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is (wait for it) FUTILE. Today: B-.

spacecraft 10:52 AM  

[The preceding being recorded while @Burma was stealing my punchline]

rondo 11:36 AM  

Agree with @spacey that Mon/Wed could be switched around. Did have the SALESman like many others; clean grid otherwise.

Saw the movie TEN back when my good friend (and current barber) and I were temporarily pursuing a different line of work. We had time to kill between jobs and took in the early matinee. Slo-mo-Bo; yeah baby.

TV’S GENIE = Barbara Eden = yeah baby. PARER with Bo and I‘ll KISS them on their PODIA. TRUETHAT.

Don’t mind the band KISS, but never really got into them that much. SOUTHERNCROSS by CSN on the other hand – classic.

VIRGOS unite! We’ll be having birthdays soon!

Kinda easy Wed-puz. Good, but not FIVESTARS.

BS2 12:29 PM  


ITOO will KISS your mom’s sister,
when she’s INSTATE and we meet her,
And that’s all that she’s ODE mister,
but if she’s a TEN call me ANTEATER.


cg 1:10 PM  

I lived in Manhattan for ten years and had never heard of The Pierre (or heard of it, but forgot it) despite the fact I probably walked past it on a semi-regular basis.

DMG 1:51 PM  

In a rush today, so just stopped by to say Hi! Will probably get to reading all the comments later??? at any rate, my only pause here was having SALESmEn turn into ...REPS. Ta Ta!

eastsacgirl 2:00 PM  

Did the bottom half first then the top fell into place. Kind of easy for a Thursday but I'm not complaining.

Cathy 5:09 PM  

I've never used or heard anyone say "true dat". Where have I been?
I've traveled the world, have been working in casinos and hotels for over 30 years, currently Las Vegas for 10+ years. Maybe my brain will not accept "dat". Sorry @Space craft!

Have never said "true that". I prefer that's true.

Sorry, don't know why I'm gripping. I liked today's puzzle!

And dats dat.

leftcoastTAM 7:28 PM  

I'm liking all syndilanders, but hoping we don't get too much into the habit of recounting (somewhat tediously) our trips through the puzzles--much like many of the realtimers. (Rex is the model for that, but he's an expert.)

Today, reading the realtimers, I got a good chuckle out of @Lewis's quotoid. Then, along came BS's products 1 and 2. He does it again and again.

The puzzle: OMARBRADLEY opened up the whole theme, which made for a good, medium Wednesday.

I'm getting to look forward to this stuff.

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