Bygone Ottoman rulers / THU 1-14-16 / Immortal flower in Paradise Lost / Dog attacking newsstand / Longtime Law order actor / Boyfriend singer to fans / Features of urban ancient Rome

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: THE BEATLES (53A: Group whose songs get spoonerized in 18-, 23-, 32- and 46-Across) — just what it says:

Theme answers:
  • "TRAY DIPPER" (18A: One who might cause a spill at a cafeteria?)
  • "PAPER RACK BITER" (23A: Dog attacking a newsstand?)
  • "SHE'S HEAVING LOAM" (32A: Answer to "What's her job in the garden supply store"?)
  • "LEIGH SHOVES YOU" (46A: What happens after getting in Vivien's way on a movie set?)

Word of the Day: HALON (47D: Fire-suppressing compound) —
any of a class of chemical compounds derived from hydrocarbons by replacing one or more hydrogen atoms by bromine atoms and other hydrogen atoms by other halogen atoms (chlorine, fluorine, or iodine). Halons are stable compounds that are used in fire extinguishers, although they may contribute to depletion of the ozone layer (

[ database]

• • •

SPECIAL MESSAGE for the week of January 10-January 17, 2016

Hello, solvers. Somehow, it is January again, which means it's time for my week-long, once-a-year pitch for financial contributions to the blog. The idea is very simple: if you read the blog regularly (or even semi-regularly), please consider what it's worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. In making this pitch, I'm pledging that the blog will continue to be here for you to read / enjoy / grimace at for at least another calendar year, with a new post up by 9:00am (usually by 12:01am) every day, as usual. This year is special, as it will mark the 10th anniversary of Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle, and despite my not-infrequent grumblings about less-than-stellar puzzles, I've actually never been so excited to be thinking and writing about crosswords. I have no way of knowing what's coming from the NYT, but the broader world of crosswords looks very bright, and that is sustaining. Whatever happens, this blog will remain an outpost of the Old Internet: no ads, no corporate sponsorship, no whistles and bells. Just the singular, personal voice of someone talking passionately about a topic he loves. As I have said in years past, I know that some people are opposed to paying for what they can get for free, and still others really don't have money to spare. Both kinds of people are welcome to continue reading my blog, with my compliments. It will always be free. I have no interest in cordoning it off, nor do I have any interest in taking advertising. I value my independence too much. Anyway, if you are so moved, there is a Paypal button in the sidebar, and a mailing address here:

Rex Parker
℅ Michael Sharp
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And here: I'll stick a PayPal button in here for the mobile users.

There. Hope that helps.

For people who send me actual, honest-to-god (i.e. "snail") mail (I love snail mail!), this year my thank-you cards are "Sibley Backyard Birding Postcards"—each card a different watercolor illustration by ornithologist David Sibley. You could get a Black PHOEBE. A California TOWHEE. Or maybe even a picture of some fabled SCARLET TANAGERS (15). Or give via PayPal and get a thank-you email. That's cool too. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As I say in every thank-you card (and email), I'm so grateful for your readership and support. So thanks, not A TAD, but A TON (partial fill! coming in useful!). Now on to the puzzle …

• • •

OK, it's hard not to laugh a little, or at least smile, at the last two themers, particularly "LEIGH SHOVES YOU," which is the clear winner of the day. Was "She's Leaving Home" a single? The other songs are very, very famous. That one, by comparison ... less so. But there really aren't that many Beatles songs that will spoonerize well, so I think it's fine. There's only one really good Beatles spoonerism that this puzzle missed (or just couldn't accommodate): [Competitive sunbather's goal?] => MAX TAN! You could also go with [Sensation experienced by one solving a corny crossword?] => PUNNY HIGH, [Casino exhortation to actor Marvin?] => "BET IT, LEE!", or [Nickname of Comedian Bruce, back when he was a mob enforcer?] => LENNY PAIN. But I think MAX TAN is the one you could actually get away with. There are some unfortunate aspects to this puzzle. One big problem is the flat, dull revealer—my kingdom for a puzzle title (which obviate the need for space-hogging, cruddy revealers like this). When I first encountered trouble up top with the themers, I just went looking for the revealer clue (usually the last long answer), saw "Group..." and just filled it in instantly. Your revealer should never be that transparent. There's also the issue of this puzzle's less-than-great fill. HALON is of course bananas, but the bigger issues are ICER and DEYS and both ERS and ORS and EVO, AINTI, ELY, LAPP, STE. And there's no color in those big banks of Downs. MISUSERS? Side-eye + frowny face there. If you always start explanations with "SO...", you have SOITIS. That's how I'm reading that answer, at any rate.

[the only acceptable clue for BLING in 2016]

Always nice to see crossword constructor Tony ORBACH's dad in the puzzle (41A: Longtime "Law & Order actor), and I really like the misdirection on the RAPPER clue (11D: Drake, e.g.)  and the punny (!) clue on BERRA (6D: The catcher in the wry?). Get it? 'Cause he played catcher. And his humor was ... wry? I guess? Sure. I need to go to bed now, as I've been up since 4:15am due to screeching carbon monoxide alarm (malfunctioning battery, said the team of firemen in our house before sunrise). So, yeah, that's all, folks.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Mediun-tough for me, mostly because I had nbc instead of RCA for way too long in the NE corner. While nbc is technically correct it just wasn't working. Also BERRA and BLANC did not come easy. What did help was abandoning the top half and getting the reveal. BEATLES songs I know, so I was able to fill in the spoonerisms and fix the top problems.

Gotta love any puzzle with a BEATLES theme which for me more than makes up for the fill problems.

Carola 12:17 AM  

I LAPPed this one up. I have a soft spot for spoonerisms - or maybe I'm just soft in the head, but they've tickled me ever since I encountered a fractured fairy tale in which Cinderella went to the ball wearing a dragnificent mess and a stink mole.

Finding the Acrosses rather unyielding, I read through the clues to "spoonerisms," which allowed me to see TRAY DIPPER and get THE BEATLES. The BITER eluded me for a while, as my lait et riz were BLANd. I really laughed at SHE'S HEAVING LOAM and thought LEIGH SHOVES YOU was almost as good. A treat of a Thursday.

Cute that Mel BLANC is there to voice Bugs's "AIN'T I a stinker?"

George Barany 12:19 AM  

Fun writeup, @Rex, all the more impressive given your personal tale of woe. I liked this puzzle by @Jeffrey Wechsler just fine ... it was a head scratcher until I got to THE_BEATLES and then everything fell together quickly.

Second time this week we see ELY, although today it's clued for the English city rather than the Tarzan actor. I too liked the BERRA clue, was surprised when ONLY_ONCE emerged as the answer to its riddle of a clue, and was stumped by HALON despite my chemistry bona fides. Is ANNE KLEIN an interior designer (think back to yet another puzzle from earlier in the week)?

Dr. Demento 12:33 AM  

"Old Yeller's Final Thought?" RABIES YOU'RE A BITCH, MAN.

kozmikvoid 12:36 AM  

I liked this one, but I'm not sure if it's only because it hit where yesterday's puzzle completely whiffed: clever plays of words instead of...well, yesterday's puzzle. This took a while to get through, but only slightly longer than average. So, medium-ish?

I, too, enjoyed BERRA and RAPPER, and found each themer enjoyable. My only gripe is ONLYONCE. The answer doesn't fit the clue. Once isn't a how, it's a how often. Other than that, an enjoyable, Powerball-winningless evening.

CerintheM 12:45 AM  

I enjoyed this one a lot, although perhaps that's because it was all-time record fastest Thursday for me. The theme was cute.

I started out with DOUCE instead of BLANC and AGNES instead of WRATH. SORE LOSERS before BORN LOSERS even though I was thinking that didn't fit schlemiel well. I was stumped on AMARANTH because all the ones I've grown have been annuals and obviously not even immortal-ish. (I'm afraid Paradise Lost and I have thus far failed to make each others' acquaintances.)

Isn't LAPP considered an offensive term now?

Unknown 12:51 AM  

She's leaving home is from Sargeant Peppers. Every song on that album is famous (at least for those of us who were 15 in 1967).

Dr. Demento (again) 12:51 AM  

"Complaint from the audio tech on the set of Enter the Dragon? YOU MIC LEE TOO MUCH

Trombone Tom 12:53 AM  

I don't always agree with OFL, but I think his review nails it today. LEIGH SHOVES YOU is the clear winner. Had a hard time getting ABBESS; wanted a name. Liked SHUNTS.

chefwen 2:00 AM  

Yesterday Rex rated the puzzle challenging and I thought it was easy/medium, today he rates it easy/medium and I thought it was challenging. Yeah, that seems about right. I guess spoonerisms ain't my shtick. I did laugh at every theme answer, but getting there was a struggle for me. I even had to resort to Uncle Google to help me out a wee bit.

Tuesday I mentioned that you couldn't walk across the room without tripping over a C.C. Puzzle, guess who I tripped over today getting to the L.A. Times puzzle? Yup, you got it! At least it was a cute one.

John Hoffman 2:47 AM  

This was a challenge for me, but I got it done. Fun theme! Nice misdirection on "make beads" = PERSPIRE.

Charles Flaster 4:35 AM  

Great review by Rex- easy pickins as soon as THE BEATLES came to light.
SHES HEAVING LOAM was my favorite.
Three write overs slowed me down a bit-
BiEB for BEEB, KarAN for KLEIN, and smU for TCU which was totally careless.
CrosswordEASE-- DEYSand AHI.
Thanks JW

Loren Muse Smith 4:45 AM  

Well heck. This one slayed me. I was really, really surprised at the "easy medium" rating. I gave up before I got all the themers, and I hate that. Rex – She's Leaving Home never would have occurred to me, so I had "she's heaping…" what. Seed? Dirt? Soil? That southwest corner killed me. Now that I see it, I feel dumb, though. Completely choked on the Mason clue, not seeing a proper name but just some stoner dude.
Other early goofs that messed me up:

"so I see" for SO IT IS
"gander" for RAPPER
"bull" for LIES
"angst" for ANIMA
"do chores" for PERSPIRE. (Misread clue as "make beds")
"Kate Spade" for ANNE KLEIN

Spoonerisms are always fun. I agree that LEIGH SHOVES YOU is terrific, but PAPER RACK BITER is right up there, too, imo. (I think LEIGH really did slap Butterfly McQueen in that scene, and apparently filming was delayed until Vivien apologized. I can so picture her shoving someone.)

@Teedmn – ELY's back, and I can aver that it's one swell place!

The clue for BLANC was tough for me; guessed I just blanked on "riz." Cross-reference with AIN'T I would've helped me on that one.

I was succor punched by the clue for AID. I never, ever remember what that word means.

I can't shut up about us MISUSERS who are becoming more and more willing to publicly commit to using the singular "they." And because this seems to be all I can talk about right now, I've had a couple of conversations with people (my husband being one) who claim they never use it that way. Yeah, right. If you are one such person, either your speech is very weird, or you're mistaken.

I'm disappointed I gave up before finishing. Pobody's nerfect, right?

Lewis 7:24 AM  

This was a wordplayer's delight. Even @Rex couldn't resist coming up with some theme answers of his own. Terrific clues for ATTORNEY, ONLYONCE, and PERSPIRE. My favorite answer was SHES_HEAVING_LOAM. There's a LAPP up, and a mini theme of words ending in ER or ERS (9). Many clues were thorny for me, and I didn't remember what a spoonerism was, so I had to have a complete answer before figuring out the rest. Thumbs up from me.

Glimmerglass 8:00 AM  

Hey, Rex. Sorry about your alarmingly wakeful night. It always seems that my detectors start chirping in the middle of the night, and I have to find batteries and climb on a chair to shut the damn thing up, half asleep. I didn't find this puzzle easy at all (but that's a good thing). I did find it clever and amusing. PAPER RACK BITER was my favorite. SHE'S HEAVING LOAM sounds like the punch line to a shaggy dog story.

blinker474 8:06 AM  

Well, I got it done, and enjoyed it. But can someone unspoonerise "tray dipper" and "paper rack biter" for me. Plainly everyone who has posted so far can. Thanks.

Dorothy Biggs 8:36 AM  

"Picks up the letter that's lying there, standing alone at the top of the stairs, she breaks down and cries to her husband, 'Daddy, our baby's gone.'" Makes me cry every time. I cried when I was 12 listening to that...and I didn't even have kids then.

I had he-duck for Drake. Don't judge.

BIEB shouldn't really be in the same puzzle as The Beatles. Not that Biebs isn't that good, he just kinda stains the puzzle in the way that protein stain on your white tablecloth ruins your tablecloth. You can look directly at it, but not see it. But when you look away, you can see it.

I like saying AMARANTH.

Speaking of repetitions, wasn't Susan DEY in a previous puzzle this week? Is this her and her family?

Z 8:36 AM  

@LMS - For you. I like the caption of the picture.

@blinker474 - Day Tripper and Paperback Writer.

Fun but tough here. Solved the south then pieced together the north. Decent Thursday puzzle.

The high school where I was an AP also had the district's print shop. I shared the story of breaking up the black LATE PASS market with our school resource officer. He confessed to having engaged in the same market 20 years earlier. I always appreciated people who knew that kids today are exactly like kids when we were young.

chefbea 8:44 AM  

@blinker474 Day Tripper and Paper Back Writer

Too tough for me again today. Love the Beatles and all the songs

Ludyjynn 8:47 AM  

What a difference a day makes. This puzzle was a breath of fresh air. Thanks to Jerry ORBACH, who opened the solve, the SW quad filled itself and the theme was revealed. This was A TON more fun than a typical Thursday rebus (sorry, @Hartley).

I hit the "Law & Order" trifecta last night. There was so much crap on tv, the only shows worth watching were reruns of the original, SVU and CI. I play a little game with myself, trying to recall the episode within a matter of moments, based upon the opening murder. My average time is 5 seconds! Speaking of lawyers, I liked that ATTORNEY was clued as Perry Mason. My Dad would let me stay up late to watch the show with him. DA Hamilton Berger always had to eat his HAT when Perry showed him up in court, with the assistance of Paul Drake (no rapper, he!), his PI.

Gotta run. Thanks, JW and WS.

RIP, Alan Rickman.

Generic Solver 8:53 AM  

The Spoonerized titles were great, but Spoonerisms and Beatles songs seem like two randomly connected concepts. I mean one could make a Spoonerism-themed puzzle around anything, so the theme feels a little arbitrary to me.

Tita 9:19 AM  

@Carola...nice catch about Mel BLANC! And that quote elicits nothing but big broad smiles from me...the golden age of cartoons, Bugs was.

I too love Spoonerisms. These were great, though tough if you're not tuned in to the Beatles.

Rex an Dr....great alternate themers. And to the posters to come with even more, hats off to your creativity!

@Z...thanks...your explanation was perfect! worries...if I could throw stone hard enough across Candlewood Lake, I could hit the country club...I mean, correctional facility. It is beautifully situated, on the other side of the lake from me, but far away enough that I wouldn't see the wet, bedraggled escapees crawling up on the shore.
(I never watched it about the Danbury facility?)

This was medium challenging...NE last to fall. But really, really good fun.
Thanks Mr. We chalet!

Hartley70 9:21 AM  

This was very easy for a Thursday but good fun. I don't remember seeing spoonerisms in a long time, and you just can't go wrong with The Beatles no matter what age you're targeting. LEIGH was my first and Vivian gave it away, but they all were great!

The most thrilling moment for me was seeing DEYS and realizing Susan can take a vacation. It was such a brief moment of fame for all the work she's had to do since. Please take note, constructors of the world.

Mohair Sam 9:26 AM  

Lifelong fan of spoonerisms and The Beatles - how could I not love this one? And how could it not play very easy? Got THEBEATLES essentially off the clue, and LEIGHSHOVESYOU off the L. Zipped through things working up from there. Will should have flip/flopped Wednesday and Thursday puzzles this week, dontcha think?

Thought the RAPPER clue (Drake, e.g) was a great misdirect, and loved the BERRA clue like everyone else. Learned AMARANTH and HALON today, always good to find new stuff in the puzzle. @Rex dutifully pointed out a bunch of -ese, but I hardly noticed, was having so much fun.

@blinker474 - "Day Tripper" and "Paper Back Writer" - clearly you're under 40. Not there's anything wrong with that.

I put the over/under on Beatle themed NYT Crossword puzzles in the Shortz error at about 50. The over/under on themes concerning all other musicians in the history of mankind at about 6. Not that there's anything wrong with that either.

Dansah 9:31 AM  

Day tripper
Paperback writer

jberg 9:44 AM  

@bliner474 -- Day Tripper, Paperback Writer.

At first I thought this one would be easier than it looked, but it turned out harder -- because my ABBESS was named AlbErt (despite my having once spent a weekend in their ski resort, where every bit of wall space is covered by a a poster or clipping about the family, the musical, or the various movies, I can never remember the names of the Trapp family), my garden-store worker began with SHE SHElves Grass, my ADDER was a mamba, my school child had a LATE slip, and Jung suffered from Angst. It finally sorted out -- I got HALON strictly from crosses, without even noticing it. I thought the theme answers were wonderful.

@CerintheM, yeah, Sami is preferred.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

@blinker474: It's "Dray Tipper" and "Baperack Piter," both from the 1967 Lost Set release.

Nancy 9:50 AM  

There was a "fun" quiz that was done at last year's Lollapuzzoola that annoyed me in the same way this puzzle annoyed me. The tournament organizers came out and sang -- exceedingly badly, I might add -- punny versions of various pop songs. You were to raise your hand if you could guess the pun. And I was thinking: how the hell can I wordplay with songs I've never ever heard of? And so, this puzzle annoyed me too. Now, admittedly, I did know SHE LOVES YOU, but I didn't know the other three. So it was a struggle, but I finished. I'm proud of myself for overcoming my disadvantage, but I obviously didn't love the solving experience. And I'm sure I found it harder than any of the rest of you. Except OISK, of course.

Unknown 9:50 AM  

@Z, @M&A, and others yesterday regarding Side 1/A & Side 2/B for records (and for the record). This is a sort of summary of the history as I know it, some details having been noted by others yesterday.

This all goes way back to the days of early 78 rpm records. At first they were one-sided and secondly, multiple discs were required for longer pieces of music. This was “interrupted” at some appropriate point to continue playing it on disc 2, disc 3, and so on for, say, a complete symphony. However, double-sided 78s requiring multiple discs for a single work raised an interesting problem for the labeling. Not only could there be multiple discs but multiple sides.

Taking a cue from M&A, I also have some “disc” history that I pulled out. Here’s how it (generally) worked out across multiple examples I have, domestic and foreign, “indies” and big name labels, starting around 1920 until CDs came along. With rare exception, each double-sided disc has an “A” and a “B” side, so labeled (sometimes etched in the lead-out groove area or as part of the mfgr’s catalogue code).

For multiple-disc 78 sets, the order of the sides to play is labeled numerically up to as many sides as needed (say 1 thru 8 for a work needing 4-discs). With the advent of record changers, a multiple disc set had to be stacked correctly to play it in order. The labeling convention for this is such that you play all the “A” sides of the discs first, numbered 1 thru say 4. You flip the stack over "as is" and you play all the “B” sides, in this case numbered 5 thru 8. So, for example, “sides” 1 and 2 played in order are on different discs, but each is an “A” side.

With the advent of the LP, what took multiple sides on multiple 78 rpm discs could be put onto one 33-1/3 rpm disc with just 2 sides. Ergo side 1 and side 2, still designating the order of play, just as it did for the multi-disc 78s which they replaced. As well, multiple LP sets continue this convention, as did the 78s, with side 3, side 4 etc., as needed, but also usually have the “A” and “B“ labels somewhere on the sides of each physical disc.

The 45 rpm record replaced single disc 78s, which were also largely a 2-song format. The latter were normally labeled as having “A” and “B“ sides, not sides 1 & 2, I'm guessing likely for ease of catalogue numbering, e.g Vict123A & Vict123B versus Vict1231 & Vict1232. This gives each disc a unique number with its multiple contents as the letter suffixes. This is also a classic (aka Harvard) outline format – one good numbering system for any such “product” hierarchy.

I recall always looking for the “A” and “B“ labels on those double-sided, single 78s I played as a MERE child that dated back (the records – not me!) to the early 1900s. One was a pre-WWI disc of military bugle calls. Knowing those well later came in handy as Boy Scout as I had to play some of them at times in summer camp.

It does seem clear this “A” and “B“ side labeling was simply carried over to the newer 45 rpm format. As with the 78s, there was usually no particular playing order or musical hierarchy. In time, however, they were strongly marketed with an “A-side” hit song and a filler on the “B” or “flip” side. At least that’s what the producers and DJs came to intend they should be when they chose the songs. This was not always the result, but it didn’t really matter monetarily, the “A” and “B“ designation being immaterial to which side created the disc sales. As long as sold…..

Labeling exceptions? Of course. I have a 2 LP set (J. Hendrix) has its 4 sides labeled A thru D, but in the correct order for stacking on a changer.

There were no formal rules, only the two conventions that most record companies followed for 45s: arbitrary A/B (ignoring marketing), and for LPs: 1/2/3/... for the playing order of all the sides, but also, usually, with each physical disc having an A & B side. Today's labeling for new vinyls? I have no clue.

So move along folks. Nothing more to see here...


RooMonster 9:57 AM  

Hey All !
Not a huge fan of THE BEATLES, so once I got the revealer (off, of all things, the BIEB, which I had as BeEB) I said, "Ugh, another BEATLES puz... But the spoonerism twist made it palpable. This was, for me, quite a difficult puz. Got SW easy (again, from annoying Mr. BIEB), but rest of puz was punching me back. I think the puz won a few rounds. Another throwing off aspect was in thinking all the clues were misdirectional, and then some, like the middle two, being straightforward, BEER and A TON.

Had LIar for LIES in SE for a long time, and the kiss and Mason clues throwing me for a tizzy. Ok in NE, couldn't wrap the ole brain around the themer. Did have TRAY, but the DIPPER took me ridiculously long to suss. And PATE also wasn't forming. But, kept at it, and managed to wrestle it to the mat for the win! Well, technically a win. Had an L at AIl/lEYS. Oof. Like @Loren, every time I see Succor, can never remember what the heck it means.

So, actually proud of myself for just the one letter DNF. WARNing! I shall now STRUT my ANIMA about!


Howard B 10:05 AM  

@blinker: Day Tripper, Paperback Writer

Leapfinger 10:21 AM  

I'm not good with song titles, even with THE BEATLES' songs, after "Jay Hewed" and "Worn Each in Nude", so had to work these themers out bit by bit. Thought LEIGH SHOVES YOU was the best, till I got back up to SHE'S HEAVING LOAM. Had to cover my eyes and shake soundlessly for about 2 minutes at that point. Reely, they OttaWARN ya.(I spose I've been known to HEAVE a little LOAM myself, in my time.)

Good theme, nicely integrated with the cluey fill. Didn't that Catcher in the Wry say "If you see a fork in the road, spooner it up"?

Jung conceiving of ANIME
eel for AHI
darns for TAPES
'lait et riz' were BLANd
'You might be recorded using them' was a nice grammatical parsing misdirect: I had that BUGS before ATMS

Existential Questions:
Is it possible to drink BEER from a KLEIN bottle?

Cupola other things:
SOITIS: a highly infectious speech disorder, wherein almost every sentence is started with the word SO. SO maybe I have a touch of it myself, must try to control. Sue me. Long. (Pooh that OFL put this in his blog; I guess everyone's onto the SOSO of SO by now)
Great line that Bugs had -- "AIN'T I a stinker?" -- but it seems Bugs also had a quirk and absolutely refused to have sunscreen applied (or SO I've heard). Apparently, that Bunny shies over the lotion

Altogether, I thought this was TRAY jolie, TRAY DaPPER.

Have a Happy STE SHUNT'S DEY, and don't forget to STRUT your stuff!

DBlock 10:22 AM  

Day Tripper
Paper Back Writer

Sandy 10:25 AM  

AINTI [a stinker] made me smile, especially with BLANC elsewhere in the puzzle (even though is wasn't clued to Mel) . Loved the spoonerisms too.

@blinker474 : "Day Tripper" and "Paperback Writer"

gifcan 10:26 AM  

Snort! Very funny!

mac 10:29 AM  

That was a cute Thursday! Day tripper/tray dipper gave it away before I got to the reveal. She's heaving loam made me laugh out loud!

I remember the first time I went to Ely, Cambridgeshire. In the middle of nowhere you come upon this huge cathedral. I think that's the reason this small community (20.000 or so people) is called a city.

ArtO 10:34 AM  

Thought this even tougher than yesterday. Just couldn't get a toehold anywhere until Mrs. O took over. She usually begs off anything after Wednesday but is often helpful when I get stuck late in the week. Go figure! After 52 years of marriage, it works.

gifcan 10:40 AM  

Liked the puzzle but I, too, didn't much care for the kiss clue. ONLY ONCE doesn't seem to fit all that well.

Loved BERRA clue. Wish I could remember AHI. DEYS, yeah, whatever.

She's Leaving Home is a beautiful song.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Jeffrey.

DJG 10:58 AM  

I immediately wanted UECKER instead of BERRA at 6D -- "Cather In The Wry" is the name of a book, not by Yogi Berra, but by former MLB catcher (and former "Mr. Belvedere" star) Bob Uecker -- but it didn't fit.

RAD2626 11:05 AM  

Liked puzzle a lot. Easier than most wordplay Thursdays. Liked clues for PERSPIRE, BERRA and ONLY ONCE, the latter apparently out of step with other solvers. Maybe because I first thought it read ON LYONCE and had no darn idea. AMARANTH a woe. Had Mother instead of ABBESS until the revealer got me the songs and allowed me to finish the north.

GILL I. 11:21 AM  

@Carola. I bet you also remember Rinder Cella - a girl who slopped her dipper.
This was fun. Agree though, that the reveal was a gead diveaway. Once I had THE BEATLES I went right back upstairs and finished the spoonerisms.
MISUSERS sort of fit the theme and I like that it's next to ATTORNEY.
I bought three Power Ball tickets even though I never play. In my mind I already gave it all away to my favorite charities. I didn't get one single number. The SPCA will be very upset.
Good puzzle JW....

archaeoprof 11:21 AM  

Loved it,, especially the clue for BERRA.

@ludyjinn: sometimes I think Law&Order was an update/reboot of Perry Mason for a more cynical era.

RIP, Alan Rickman, who stood out as the Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood."

blinker474 11:26 AM  

Responding to Mohair Sam. I'm not under 40, I'm over 80. Either one is a likely explanation for my lack of info about the Beatles.

gifcan 11:28 AM  

I guess if you lived in a caste system you could be a BORN LOSER. Even in this society you could be born with a couple of strikes against you. A black woman. A blind homosexual.

Yes, I know things are changing but it can take generations.

Are things changing? Do strikes against you ever go away or are they still there, low and inside?

Anoa Bob 11:39 AM  

If you like song title spoonerisms, there's A TON of them here:

Song Ttile Spoonerisms

All of the Beatles' spoonerized titles in today's puzzle appear there, the only variance being LEE (rather than LEIGH) SHOVES YOU. To find others, including MAX TAN, click on the page according to the first letter of the unspoonerized song, e.g., S page for "She's Leaving Home" & "She Loves You", P for "Paperback Writer" & D for "Day Tripper".

Anonymous 11:58 AM  


Mark 12:00 PM  

Huge fan of The Beatles (Have every album on vinyl and CD, us and Import, etc.) but this puzzle kicked my butt. Like someone mentioned earlier, today was challenging for me and yesterday was easy, exactly opposite of Rex. I went through every title I could think of from Meet the Beatles onward and Leigh Shoves You and Paperback Biter came fairly easily, the other 2 didn't, and the crosses were tough as well.

She's Leaving Home from Sgt. Pepper was not a single (none of the songs were, although Penny Lane b/w Strawberry Fields Forever was released as a single only and proceeded the album) but it is famous, not just because of the album it is on, but Paul wrote it based on a story he had read in the paper. Although some of the facts were changed, the girl became something of a celebrity. It is also one of the few songs that none of the Beatles play instruments on, since it is backed by an orchestra or strings only, along with Eleanor Rigby and Good Night (last song on the white album).

Mohair Sam 12:37 PM  

@blinker474 - I stand corrected. Thanks for the lol, sometimes getting to chuckle at ourselves is the most fun. Somebody once told me something about what we do when we assume, but I always forget.

rorosen 12:39 PM  

is there somewhere a list of all the rappers who feature in puzzles? I need to learn my rappers,..

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Please explain the attorney clue. Ty

old timer 12:44 PM  

I have not had more fun doing a Thus puzzle in a long time. I was 22 in 1967, and heard every song on Sgt Pepper (and Revolver and Rubber Soul), over and over. Still have the LP's with great songs on Side One *and* Side Two (count me among those who reserves "A" and "B" sides for singles). I got the spoonerisms only when I reached LEIGH SHOVES YOU, and the revealer, the BEATLES really helped me solve the others -- the last to be solved was TRAY DIPPER. No matter. I spent part of the solve singing "PAPER RACK BITER" to myself. You know that was *not* on any original album, don't you, not in the USA versions. It was the flip side of the BEATLES' greatest song ever, Rain. Maybe I love that song so much because where I live we think about rain all the time -- when it is present, and when it is not. Where I live, it is dry 8 months of the year.

My favorite: SHE'S HEAVING LOAM. In that hippie era, it spoke to so many of us who headed off to SF or NYC and met so many people who had left home -- sometimes on good terms with the parents, sometimes not.

I shall now share my favorite Spoonerism, attributed to the great Dr. Spooner himself, who was an Oxford don:

"Sir, you have tasted two whole worms, you have hissed all my mystery lectures, you have been caught fighting a liar on the quad. You must leave Oxford by the next town drain."

Hartley70 12:48 PM  

You're killing me here @Ludy! Bite your tongue, but I will settle for stacks if it makes you happy because I love playing the martyr.

@Tita, the short answer is yes, but I sent you a note.

@NCA President, I know exactly what you mean. I'm dealing with those stains after cheese fondue dribbled on the white tablecloth over Christmas. It's the off focus glance that gets you every time. Luckily if the BIEB made a Christmas album, we avoided it.

Andrew Heinegg 12:54 PM  

I thought this was both delightful and significantly harder than yesterday despite RP's thinking otherwise with the rating. I thought the heaving loam was just as/nearly as good as Leigh shoves you. And the puns today are in such sharp contrast to the ones from yesterday as todays are wonderful in their groan-inducing quality. I also enjoyed the reference to Jerry Orbach. One interesting thing to me about observing actors is how you can think you get a sense of what kind of a person the actor is in real life. Jerry Orbach always gave me the feeling that he was a kind, intelligent and good humored person who was a wonderful actor. The times I saw him interviewed or as a celebrity contestant on Jeopardy reinforced that feeling.

Jamie C 1:26 PM  

Clue: Comment made upon Atilla's return from the desert
(for a Sunday grid, even bigger winner for SERE COMES THE HUN KING.)

Unknown 1:33 PM  

I forgot what a spoonerism is, didn’t look it up, but finally ‘got it’ with TRAY DIPPER. I actually use them, made up ad hoc, usually forgotten in minutes.

Tough puzzle even after I got the theme. Shameless cheating, but no complaints about and liked what I could get.

Crostini? Looked it up, then wanted lobster as the topping, hoping for a Thursday rebus. Then wondered if there was a lobster pâté? Sure enough, Sir Google says (or is that Dame Google?). As to “using” the actual liver like the turf, or rather aerial, variety pâté, one source says that just eating the liver (presumably “as is” from the cooked lobster; I often do), “cooked and firm it’s like lobster liver pâté.”

Now, please note that pâté significantly crosses LOBSTERS, which as spelled out by 26 across with the “TE” from pâté and the B from BITER….which role a lobster can fill, painfully, for a careless handler. Never had the pleasure, thanks. It's obvious to me that it was a delicious lobster pâté of which Mr. Wechsler was thinking, not the stuff from birds.

When I got it, SHE’S HEAVING LOAM really, well, got to me for some reason. Clue + answer = Too funny for several reasons. Just is.

TART TRAYDIPPER (Hooters[c] waitress)

LATEPASS ATMS (the one’s you have to use your card after hours to get in the bank lobby)

WRATH AGREES (I guess it would for one who, for some BLANC reason, likes getting angry)

RAPPPER ONLY ONCE (booed off the stage at the Apollo)

PER the SPIRE RED EYE (how you took a “religious” journey at night)

STRUT BEER (try that after a six-pack or so of them)

ATON AINTI (unknown Italian composer, unlike the next guy I mention…the “known” part, not the Crostini connection)

It’s a stacked one, but --
LEIGH SHOVES YOU OR BACH MELTS! (Yikes! Who knew?....but no idea either; just liked it)


Teedmn 1:42 PM  

Friday-Saturday hard for me today. My toeholds were spaced out over the grid; AHI, BLANC, ICER, ASH, REDEYE and TART were all I had for a while. Filled in the SW which gave me a fighting chance but it was a fight. When I looked up from the grid, finally, nearly 29 minutes had passed. Definitely a weekend-strength challenge on a Thursday, which is how this whole week has tended for me. Did someone lobby Will Shortz to dial up the daily difficulty? That's not a complaint but it will take some getting used to if this is the new normal.

Fun theme. I had to get the BIEB before THE BEATLES was revealed. And I don't know any of his songs, so thank goodness the clue included the 'with "the"' addition.

In my world, "Arctic char" are residents, which gave me an immortal hyAciNTH for a bit. Nice answer for 'first kiss', good clue for EACH, PERSPIRE and STRUT. The theme spoonerisms brought a smile but I didn't like MISUSERS any more than @Rex did, and didn't appreciate the Perry Mason misdirection. On the other hand, I can hear my mother saying "SO IT IS" when someone made a particularly self-evident remark so I liked that one.

Thanks, Mr. Wechsler and WS. I'll be looking for a super tough Friday tomorrow

Jim Finder 2:31 PM  

HALON is of course bananas

Anyone concerned with fire prevention (isn't that all of us?) knows HALON.

I'm not concerned with waterfowl so "drake" had to wait for the crosses.

Greg 2:58 PM  

Halon is a pretty commonly seen term in industrial settings. You will see a sign that says something like, "In event of fire, evacuate immediately. Halon gas will be released." Meaning that the space will be flooded with halon gas, which will get rid of the oxygen, thus suppressing the fire. Good for fire control, not good for breathing.

Yet Another No.1 Fan 3:36 PM  

@Chuck McGregor,

I almost invariably read your Entire Comments (oh and btw, thanks for mentioning 'rogue waves' recently --- I looked that up when I was browsing "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" a cuppla days ago, and learned some fascinating and very scary stuff)... Where was I? Oh yes! Today, I think I zoned out right after 'This all goes way back to the days of early 78 rpm records'. My eyes must have rolled back in my head, because the next thing I remember seeing was 'So move along folks. Nothing more to see here...'

So my question to you is: Do you recommend my going back when I'm feeling stronger and taking another shot at what came between? Also, do you realize how chancy it was that most of Maine didn't stay North of the Border?

Awaiting your response with great interest.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

@DJG, Will a "Cather in the Wry" catch on, d'you suppose?

Michael Knight 4:02 PM  

I am sad to say that this one totally kicked my ass. Somedays my brain just won't cooperate.

Masked and Anonymous 4:26 PM  

A lotta lil weejects sure got the cold shoulder, in the write-up today …

* EVO. Tough name to come up with, if U don't know yer Bolivian governments. Better clue would smooth this one over. Example: {Start to evolve??}

* ERS. Has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. Also, fairly easy clue.

* ORS. Great clue! And PB1 Immunity, again.

* ELY. Not only does this have Jack ELY "Louie, Louie" Immunity, it also has Double PB1 Immunity. Untouchable, IMO.

* STE. Guess what. PB1 Immunity, again. Plus, a nice nod to the ladies. Do see this one a lot, tho. Awful constructioneer-friendly letters.

M&A's advanced apologies, if he steps on a Beatles song that's already been put up for a vote. Answers at the far bottom.
1. "Pick up after yer dog, Pierre!"?
2. Octet of tricky hockey choices?
3. Mislabeled crate of anacondas?

har. Fun theme. Thanx, Mr.Wechsler. Darin stack, in the corners. Really liked PERSPIRE clue and answer, in those parts.


** gruntz, now with L. Ross Akite **

1. Move le Do
2. Eight Ways a Deke
3. The Wrong and Winding Load

Diana,LIW 5:01 PM  

@Nancy from yesterday. Wonder where I got the Philly/NJ idea from - I DO know your a NYCer. (Lived for a bit at 101st and Riverside, 6 rms riv vu) But that Philly accent is a real thing - tho most of the population doesn't have/use it. Hop on Amtrak for a visit - the Kimmel Center is worth the ride, and there's so much art, music, good food, and good people! I guarantee within an hour you'll hear how someone's "dewin." It's like a Brooklyn accent, but a bit softer. Also, wanted to let you know that a fav movie of your is on today, I believe. Fiddlee dee dee

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

OISK 5:09 PM  

Great fan of Spoonerisms, not so much of the Beatles, so this was just OK. @Nancy - Hey! I actually knew TWO of the songs! (She's leaving home and she loves you) I also never heard of the Bieb song, but he has been in the news lately, so I guessed him immediately, and a drake is either an explorer or a duck. Rapper??? How about cluing that "Unmelodious musician."?

Despite the unfamiliarity with the pop clues, I finished without much trouble, which is a compliment to the constructor. But this year, wouldn't a Sinatra themed puzzle be more apt??

bswein99 6:13 PM  

6D was a potentially great clue, but Yogi Berra's humor was exactly the opposite of wry. Wry humor is ironic or sarcastic; what made Yogi so funny was precisely the lack of irony.

Still, I did like the spoonerisms.

Pedantic1 6:38 PM  

Not a spoonerism, but a mondegreen.

Laura 6:51 PM  

Perry Mason, 50's tv lawyer show

OISK 7:21 PM  

@oldtimer - we are apparently the same age!. At college parties in the 60's it was almost as difficult to avoid the Beatles as it was to avoid pot. ( I managed to achieve the latter) So I am familiar with their early stuff. But I graduated in 1966, and so know very little about them after that.

What has often happened since, is that my students, realizing that I was a young man in the 1960's would ask me excitedly about The Beatles, The Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Woodstock, and were very disappointed that I had very little knowledge of any of it!

But did you know that there was a rapper named Drake??

Anonymous 7:33 PM  

@ Full of WOE - Yikes! Literal much? The expression BORN LOSER and the term Schlemiel refer to the terminally unlucky, not to the seriously disadvantaged. I think your missing an inherent element of humor. ...Albeit humor not necessarily unmixed with pathos.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

"Catcher in the Wry" is a book by Bob Uecker---so more misdirection than pun, because Uecker played catcher.

The one that had me stump a long time was ATTORNEY: I kept trying to think of something arcane about the Masons, before realizing the clue referred to Perry Mason.

This one took me awhile, but still well under an hour (we can't all be as light on our feet as Rex!)

Anonymous 7:54 PM  

HALON was super easy for me: anyone who knows anything about fire-suppression systems knows about Halon. It's commonly used for computer rooms, or anyplace water would cause damage. Halon is effective in low enough concentration for the air to remain breathable, another plus. Last I heard, the exact mechanism of its efficacy was not fully understood.

Anonymous 9:00 PM  

HALON is more familiar to those of us in STEM... I couldn't believe it at first here, though.

`She's Leaving Home' is quite famous, at the time it was a mark of the Beatles Growing Up.... was compared to Brahms, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys loved it, etc.

There are even those who think it was the Beatles at their pinnacle.... the White Album was a kind of back to roots exercise by comparison, as was Let it Be... Abbey Road the beginning of the 1970's super click production...

Unknown 9:28 PM  

As in Perry Mason, the TV show

Teedmn 11:48 PM  

@LMS, nice avatar!

Unknown 9:41 AM  

@ Yet Another No.1 Fan 3:36 PM

I am humbled to know someone reads some of my posts. I enjoy writing them and writing in general. Doing the NYT crosswords, as with others here, the words spur memories, knowledge, random thoughts, emotions, et al, and, for many, tickles a funny bone or two. Of course they are shared on a “for what’s it’s worth” basis.

As always, if the topic is of interest or worth, in this case if you’re curious about some facets of the history of records and how that related to their labeling, read on McDuff….if not, nothing to see there :>) I freely admit, it’s arcane stuff and, I’d wager a lot, it’s not something you’ll discuss around the office water cooler! However, that’s why online “water cooler” blogs like this exist.

I do know that facet of Maine’s history, that we could be Canada. I’ve read it, but don’t have off-hand recall of the details….but I could look them up :>)


spacecraft 11:56 AM  

Leaky pipe in Peru? LIMA OOZER. Couldn't use that one today because of LOSERS. Spoonerisms are fun. I won't subject you to more.

Today was one of those "I'll-never-get-this" triumphs. I looked through those clues and thought: I'm like Schultz. I know no-THING. I finally made a tentative beginning with REDEYE/MAY, and from there it just...oozed. This seems to be my WOD. Once I nailed THEBEATLES it came a little more easily--but only a little. Last one I got was TRAYDIPPER; why that took me so long I don't know. A headslap, for sure.

For a change I had to actually fill in the word RAPPER--which of course came all on crosses. Drake to me is a male duck, period. Oh, and maybe a hotel somewhere. I think.

Always enjoy a "triumph" solve; always enjoy all things BEATLES. SOITIS with great pleasure I did this one. Fill not bad. B+.

rain forest 1:52 PM  

Very enjoyable puzzle. Spoonerisms are fun ("at the end of WWII, they flung the hags from the windows". "Canadian Broadcorping Castration". Those were actually spoken, btw). The Beatles are/were great. How could this puzzle go wrong?

Nice to see two Canadian entertainers, both of whom won Grammys: Drake, who is uber-talented, and The Bieb (ugh).

This was easy-medium, but I made it harder by putting in LATE slip (that's what we call them in Canada), and SO true before investigating crosses. After those were repaired, things went smoothly.

For all you @rain forest fans, a true tale. My first day at my new high school, I confess I was a TRAY DIPPER, with soup on the tray(!). The excoriating reaction from dozens of people I didn't know caused emotional scars from which I have yet to heal. Bag lunch every day after that.

Burma Shave 2:02 PM  


who LAPP up BEER and REDEYE, EACH by the quart,
but it MAY happen ONLYONCE to infrequent MISUSERS,
to make a LATEPASS at that TART, who's an ABBESS, not an ESCORT.


Diana,LIW 4:36 PM  

Is this some kind of designer week? Interior designers on Tus, Gucci yesterday, and ANNE KLEIN comes back to visit today.

Loved sussing out the spoonerisms, and now I'll have Beatles tunes in my head all day. Worse things could happen.

It's all been said, but I saw this little "Star Report" article by Tony Hicks yesterday, quoted in its entirety. Thot the timing was apt:

"Paul McCartney was rejected at the door of Tyga's Grammy Awards after party Monday night. Right...yeah, the Beatle. Right...Tyga. TMZ was there to capture the moment, after which McCartney told his crew (which included Beck and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins) "How VIP do we gotta get?" and "We need another hit." The party was at The Argyle in Hollywood. Tyga later told TMZ that McCartney was a legend. Rapper Bow Wow was less ambiguous. "Wait. THE Paul McCartney came to the Argyle?" he later asked the reporter. "And they wouldn't let him in? You've got to be lying."

SOITIS. I predict a Tyga clue in the coming weeks. You heard it first here. (The prediction, perhaps not the story.)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Unknown 6:43 PM  

On the tougher side for me, but enjoyable to solve.

The north could have been a stopper with AMARANTH, BLANC, BERRA (very good), ABBESS, and RAPPER, but the crossings including TRAYDIPPER opened them up.

The BEATLES spoonerisms were clever and amusing, although I thought LOAM HEAVING was a difficult job to envision.

leftcoastTAM 6:51 PM  

leftcoastTAM is my real name. "Tom Morehouse" is my alias.

Cathy 6:59 PM  

Alert the media! I am from a different planet.

Enjoyed yesterday, not today. Spoonerisms can be funny, but I did not find any humor to the clues or answers.

TRAY DIPPER, SHES HEAVING LOAM? I really expected Rex and most commenters to dis this. Boy was I wrong.

As always a Beatles fan, and even if not, this was embarrassingly stupid too me.

I'm going to LAPP up the STADIUM VENDORS OFFERING of a BEER and hope you don't think I'm on the BORN LOSERS planet.

Cathy 7:30 PM  

@rain forest-

"At the end of WWll, they flung the hags from the windows"

Now that's funny! And actually spoken:)

Liked your TRAY DIPPER memory. I fooled my way into a waitress job loooong ago.Yeah, I know wine service, how to carry the stand etc. First table, dropped the iced bucket with wine bottle which of course broke, all over. All. Over. Luckily the patrons were nice, happy they were comped the whole meal, cocktails and dry cleaning. Lucky I kept my job. 30 years later still at at:)

rondo 8:41 PM  

Late today as I was “busy” earning PDHs and CEUs. Finished the puz during the plenary session and my best co-worker friend groaned at every theme answer I completed. All from the bottom up. He’s not a puzzler, so I’ll cut some slack.

Loved that BEER was dead central. Then some REDEYE to boot. Drink up, folks.

This puz didn’t bother me at all, once I got the deal at LEIGHSHOVESYOU and worked my way up.

Can’t go wrong with THEBEATLES. Not having read any comments or OFL’s entry, I suspect there were those who don’t go along with that sentiment. At least it wasn’t a rebus. Thumbs up.

Diana,LIW 11:02 PM  

I'm here to go out on a limb, as Rainy did the other day. IMO re justice and politics, if you don't remember..

Heard a coupla hours ago about "the Pope vs. the Donald."

I'm a Friend (Quaker), not Catholic, and I love this Pope. He reminds me of my favorite sight in Italy, which was St. Francis's torn and mended robe in Assisi. (sp???) Took my breath away more than the Vatican.

So when the Pope suggests that it isn't really a Christian thing to "kill, and/or lock out" thy neighbor, the D thinks he shouldn'[t knock someone else's religion. Ha, ha, ha. If only it weren't funny.

One of my posts got killed yesterday, and this might, but thot I'd give it a try.

Diana, you know who

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

I got all of the theme clues, but BLANC and BERRA and ELY were complete blancs to me, outside of the themers, so abbess was lost too. Ugly section of the puzzle.

sdcheezhd 12:56 AM  

I will weigh in on She's Leaving Home as well; Bernstein used it (particularly the last resolution) as an example of musical genius and Ned Rorem called it "a mazurka equal in melancholy and musical distinction to those of Chopin."

wcutler 3:04 AM  

Wow, I'm with Loren Muse Smith. I can usually finish Thursday puzzles, but I only got 8 answers(of which four were 3-letter words) and I had an additional four wrong ones. I did not get the reveal I had the starting letter incorrect), did not get any of the theme answers. It seems pretty cute, now that I read about it. I've heard of the Beatles. Oh, now I see one I could have filled in. Maybe I should have stayed with it, but I don't think I'd have got it even if I'd worked on it all week.

rain forest 3:53 AM  

Obviously your comment came through. You are right, The Donald is a supreme idiot (I could use a stronger word). I wouldn't mind if he won the Republican nomination because I know he would be killed by either Sanders or Clinton. If he doesn't, I equally dislike Cruz or Rubio. I dunno. Just musing up here in the Great North.

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