Eschew Uber say / MON 8-8-16 / Sister brand of Gillette's Sensor / 1956 James Dean western / 1963 Steve McQueen epic / 1932 Greta Garbo classic

Monday, August 8, 2016

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel and Don Gagliardo

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*—largely because of the preponderance of proper nouns, particularly the themers)

THEME: BIG PICTURE (58A: Long view ... or what the answer to each starred clue is?) — movie titles whose first words mean, roughly, "big":

Theme answers:
  • GRAND HOTEL (17A: *1932 Greta Garbo classic)
  • GREAT ESCAPE (11D: *1963 Steve McQueen epic, with "The")
  • SUPER-SIZE ME (24D: *2004 documentary about fast food)
  • TITANIC (37A: *Winner of 11 1997 Oscars)
  • GIANT (28D: *1956 James Dean western)

    Word of the Day: LEN Berman (43A: Sportscaster Berman) —
    Leonard "Len" Berman (born June 14, 1947) is an American television sportscaster and journalist who is based in New York City. He is currently hosting the morning show on WOR-AM with Todd Schnitt. // Berman is widely known for his career with NBC, specifically his work for the network's flagship station WNBC-TV. Berman spent twenty-seven years as the lead sports anchor for WNBC and also worked for NBC Sports covering Major League Baseball and the National Football League. He was employed by WNBC until 2009, and prior to that worked for WCBS-TV in New York from April of 1979 through August of 1982 and WBZ-TV in Boston. (wikipedia)

    • • •

    This felt easy, but I was a good 20 seconds over my average time for a Monday (statistically significant, at the speeds I travel). I think part of the issue was the trivia nature of the theme clues, which means you know it or you don't, and you have to go fishing with crosses. Titles / names are thornier than straight vocab if you aren't familiar with them, and the clues today were not that explicit. You get a year and and then one other details (star, number of Oscars). They are all well-known movies, but in early-week puzzles, tons of proper nouns tend to have a slowing effect. Which is weird, because in late-week puzzles, often, for me, they have a propelling effect. They are often the thing I get quickly when all the other words / phrases are clued hard. I handled today's movies OK, but totally forgot about "GIANT" and and with the "N" in place wrote in "SHANE" (despite knowing very well James Dean wasn't in that—it was Alan Ladd). Took me a while to pick up DISNEY, too—another film-related proper noun (20A: It acquired Lucasfilm in 2012). None of this was truly difficult; it just provided a mild headwind that affected my final time. But my own mistakes did that too. I had LE VOILA! instead of ET VOILA! My version literally means "there it is." I don't think the clue is good at all, in the sense that VOILA all on its own means "There you have it!" That ET is crucial (it means "And"). Clue should've been ["And there you have it!"].

    I also flat-out misspelled / wrong-spelled HOARD (21A: Squirrel away). Went with HORDE. That hurt. Then there was LOPES, which I just couldn't see (49A: Easy runs), mainly because I had no idea how "runs" was being used. [Easy running paces] or [Easy paces] or even [Runs at an easy pace] I would've gotten a lot, well, easier. BOLSTER hard to see from just [Strengthen], and CALL A CAB not at all clear (to me) from 39D: Eschew Uber, say. My first inclination was to find some version of the answer "walk." Lastly, STOP BY was not intuitive to me at all (48D: Visit). I had STOP AT and stumbled around there fixing it. I thought the grid was quite clean overall. The theme was decent—seems like it could be infinite (lots of movies must begin with some synonym of "big"), but when you take movies starting in "(THE) BIG" off the table (as you have to here, because "BIG" is in the revealer), the number of usable movies shrinks considerably (usable means it fits the basic criteria of the theme *and* is Monday-familiar). Totally acceptable Monday fare.

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    jae 12:05 AM  

    Medium for me. Pretty smooth grid, clever/fun theme, liked it a lot.

    Hugh before CARY only because he has a movie coming out with Meryl Streep.

    Da Bears 12:08 AM  

    If an alien from another planet read Rex's review yesterday and his review today, he/it/she would scratch their head wondering if it is the same person. Totally inconsistent and the only conclusion one can reasonably have is the difference is the authors.

    Okay puzzle and too corny of a theme for my taste.

    Jonathan R 12:18 AM  

    Fastest time ever! Which maybe isn't such a valuable data point because I've only been doing the puzzle consistently for a few months. Those proper nouns were a total boon -- they were all items of information I knew and had rapid access to, brainwise. And CALL A CAB was a gimme for this carless New Yorker.

    Vincent Lima 12:35 AM  

    @Jonathan R writes, "And CALL A CAB was a gimme for this carless New Yorker." You call a cab? You don't "hail" a cab or just "take" one? (I use "catch," but that doesn't fit.) That one slowed me down a bit. Also, silly me, I though of Hugh Grant as a leading man before CARY.

    chefwen 2:49 AM  

    Not exactly a walk in the park Monday from our prolific C.C. I'm not sure she even has the time to turn around with all the puzzles she cranks out. With each one, be it a Monday or a Sunday she keeps getting better and better.

    Got a little set back at 21A with stoRe before HOARD and not so quickly corrected, it took HUB to steer me straight.

    Took me awhile CC, but I liked it.

    George Barany 3:15 AM  

    Full disclosure: @Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel is a Minnesota neighbor-friend, and @Don Gagliardo is someone I've corresponded with.

    What a GREAT idea for a puzzle, and what a professional implementation! What a warm and gracious review from @Rex. Kudos all around.

    I grew up in New York, where (as @Jonathan R. has noted) we don't have cars. "CALL_(me)_A_CAB" is an entirely typical expression, to which the joking response is "you're a cab."

    Challenge to @Rex-ites: The aforementioned dialogue also takes place in one of the classic movies of all time, set in Hollywood. Do you know which one? (Hint -- that movie came up within the past week; I'll check in later with the answer).

    @Jae and @Vincent Lima both referred to the upcoming movie (link is to the trailer) starring @Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant. It looks like that should be a lot of fun. Still, @CARY Grant is about as close to Hollywood royalty as they come, and that entry in the puzzle did not slow down my solve one iota.

    No BS 5:19 AM  

    Liked viola with voila.

    Mark 5:38 AM  

    The puzzle was one of cleanest filled ones I've ever done. I kept waiting for crosswordese but there wasn't any. The theme was consistent and all well known films, as Rex noted. Rex, I think you should enjoy getting a Monday that made you work a little and give it a higher grade. I thought it was a perfect Monday puzzle.

    Lewis 6:22 AM  

    Not just ACUTE theme; the "big" connection in the theme answers lifted it above the typical Monday simple-ness. The grid is spotless, and that has become one of Zhouqin's signatures. There were some lovely answers -- MANDATE, INDIGENT, ETVOILA, IGNOBLE. My only nit was ASHY which better describes a fireplace than a face (where "ashen", I believe would be more appropriate). I liked the backward TEE directly under the downward one, and it is cool that that TEE is within two squares of three additional tees (the letter). So, all in all, a high quality Monday offering from this pair, one that will, I believe, keep newcomers hungry for more.

    One movie -- and it's an actual movie -- that I'm glad didn't find its way into the grid: Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009).

    Loren Muse Smith 7:14 AM  
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    Loren Muse Smith 7:15 AM  

    Rex – fwiw, I like the grading system.

    Hah! @Lewis – I almost used that movie as my avatar! I guess "mega" is a full-blown word now that can mean big? I looked it up, and Merriam Webster describes it as an adjective right off the bat. No mention of it being a prefix, at least there at the beginning. Cool.

    @No BS - terrific catch on the VIOLA-VOILA pair. Wish I'd noticed that.

    I would say CALL A CAB, but I live in an area where to do such a thing would be An Event. No idea where the darn thing would even come from.

    If you squint, you can see all kinds of movie title parts in the grid – The BLOB, DAZED and Confused, HOLES, ALI, MAN-DATE, URBAN Cowboy, That DARN Cat, SONIC the Hedgehog, YEAST of Eden… Plus there's GENRE, CARY, DISNEY. And the hordes of ignoble brats who make up that world that I would kill to be a part of. At least for one day. I practice how I would handle the paparazzi accosting me as I leave the house. It's my plan to be gracious and engaging. Patient.

    ZB and DG – what a great find that TITANIC crosses GIANT right at that center A. And there the cross is smack dab in the center of the puzzle. Mega observation. Nice job.

    Anonymous 7:22 AM  

    Unusual spelling for Kabbalah as Cabala

    NCA President 7:24 AM  

    LEN Berman: That hair though...

    Easy Monday with just a few mistakes: trotS for LOPES, DAng for DARN, hAiLACAB for CALLACAB, gravE for ACUTE. So this definitely played a bit more difficult...and yet, that said, there were large portions of the grid that I didn't even see the clues because the crosses filled them in for me: OTITIS, OREM, SUITES, SONIC...all filled in automatically.

    I liked the puzzle...sufficient push back for a Monday with no groans. I'm guessing that a B+ is the normal "high" in Rex's classes. I've had teachers like that. The dreaded bell curve and normative grading...ugh. But from a literal standpoint, the puzzle is indeed above average but not quite superior...where superior is remarkable and well...superior.

    Cassieopia 7:41 AM  

    A full three minutes off my average 10-minute Monday, and wondered the entire time if the constructor was slyly invoking this political season, what with all the superlatives. MANDATE, INDIGENT, and IGNOBLE just heightened my suspicions, but maybe I've been reading too much Politico these days. Either way, that merely added to my already mega-enjoyment of this uber-fun puzzle!

    @George, I had to google that quote to find the movie - indeed a classic. Fun little hunt on a Monday morning :)

    RAD2626 7:48 AM  

    Thought this was a really good puzzle, albeit Monday easy. No junk, cute enough theme. Good cluing. Solid all around.

    Also started to write in Shane for GIANT. Thanks for mentioning one of the great bad movies of all time. There is a classic scene where the animals get all riled up and the cows try to climb the fence out of the corral that makes all the schmaltz worthwhile. I cannot imagine directing that. "OK Cows, see if you can show a little more enthusiasm".

    Imfromjersey 7:52 AM  

    @rex When you said you misspelled HOARD, for a second I thought maybe you spelled it WHORED.

    chefbea 8:06 AM  

    Tough Monday...too many movies I did not know....Love lasagna!!!

    kitshef 8:26 AM  

    Today, I’d like to rant about the corruption of the word MANDATE. To have a mandate means you have been given authority to represent the electorate. A victory by one vote does this exactly as much as a landslide.

    The word has been tortured to mean something else by anyone who wins a ‘landslide’ victory, which often means a 53%-46% victory or thereabouts, and is used to mean “I was voted in, therefore the people ache for me to do whatever I want’. It is used to abandon an ongoing responsibility to represent the electorate; to act as though each person who voted for him/her is in agreement on every issue.

    Oh, very good puzzle, top-notch fill, well-executed theme, pretty easy. This is about as good as it gets on Monday.

    Chris Lope 8:37 AM  

    I was thrown off by lasagna (singular noodle) as I've always spelled the dish lasagne!

    Mohair Sam 8:51 AM  

    You can pretty much tell a poster's age by whether they gimmed Hugh or CARY at 66 across.

    We enjoyed this lively Monday puzz with its clever theme - only complaint being @Rex's nit with ETVOILA clue needing an and. It had to help for those of you from New York City where you CALLACAB and hear LEN Berman every single day. I thought you called Uber and hailed cabs in the city (I made the "hail" mistake for a minute) - but from reading above I guess not. LEN Berman, hmmm, first time I saw him nearly 40 years ago I wondered who he knew to get that job. Still feel the same. IGNOBLE a great word, neat to see it in Monday puzzle. And VENN is becoming a regular from out of nowhere. How about that?

    Watched a few Jean Harlow movies on Turner this weekend. Interesting to see ASHY clued as "Pale as a ghost" today - would have described her complexion perfectly. That complexion was actually a clue to the kidney failure that killed her at 26, but no one understood at the time - thought it was overwork. Sad.

    Nancy 9:02 AM  

    I guess I'm a killjoy, but I sometimes think that "as good as it gets for a Monday" is never going to be good enough for me. No matter how smooth and crosswordese-free it might be, if there's no challenge, I'm going to be stifling a yawn.

    Glenn 9:06 AM  

    @NoBS: me, too, on the viola/voila!

    @Chris Lopez: just yesterday, my spouse and I had a conversation about frequently Americans have trouble with Italian singulars and plurals, especially, pasta names.

    Anonymous 9:12 AM  

    Smooth as silk! Came in under 3 minutes...only 17 seconds over record and almost a full minute below average. Couple of minor hiccups balanced by very fair crosses.

    Hartley70 9:15 AM  

    Wonderful Monday! Right off the red carpet, I give it an A. Its elegance is in the details. It has across and down themes, a double reveal in the themers (movie and "large" synonym), no junk fill at all, and that great cross in the center. It's a primer for great construction and I'd be pleased to see it on a Thursday if the constructors could work a rebus in there. Thank you for a Monday to remember.

    mathgent 9:23 AM  

    I'm with @Nancy 9:02. A bore.

    As I began reading, I thought "Is this Rex or the return of Rex Porker?" Twenty seconds gone forever.

    Roo Monster 9:35 AM  

    Hey All !
    Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Thought it a nice, somewhat slighty-tougher-than-a-typical-Monday MonPuz. On the fence about VIOLA and VOILA together. Did like the fact of a clean, dreck-free grid. And the Center crossing themers.

    ACEdIT, with only having an A in INDIGaNT as a writeover once ACUTE set me straight. Thought the clue for LASAGNA very good. OTITIS a non-Monday wird, but crosses fair. Liked IGNOBLE.

    @LMS, that HOLES movie very strange. Also DISNEY next to GIANT. Aren't they the ones who just came out with The BFG?

    STOP BY and see me sometime...

    AskGina 9:49 AM  

    @Loren there's a Sunday puzzle in Yeast of Eden (I'm smiling before 10:00 am). Together w @chefwen you could pull it off. And Rex would loath it! YEAST OF Eden. Chuckle

    JC66 9:51 AM  

    Nice, easy Monday.

    Too bad the constructors couldn't work TOM HANKS into the grid (or the reveal).

    Tom Hanks 9:55 AM  


    I'm grateful that you thought of me.


    T Hanks

    Aketi 10:32 AM  

    This was a quick instafill for me finishing 7 minutes faster than my average time with ET VOILA. I don't even try to speed solve.

    QuasiMojo 10:49 AM  

    Hoarding and squirreling away are not really the same thing. Trust me, I know. :) But that's nit-picking. I thought this was a terrific Monday puzzle. Speaking of "Giant" movies and alternatives to Uber, anyone remember "The Big Bus"?

    old timer 11:01 AM  

    My pen-and-ink time would have been about 8 minutes instead of my actual 12 if I had not made the C in SONIC look like an S, which left me wondering what obscure word meaning Jewish mysticism begins with an S. And if I had not mused for half a minute about the reveal.

    I'd say any puzzle that has VIOLA and VOILA together is first-rate. When I was in college people often said "VIOLA" instead of VOILA just to be funny.

    The theme is brilliant because not only is the GREAT, etc. in each one a synonym for "big" but also each movie was a big honking Hollywood hit. Well done, fellas!

    P.S. I don't know how many of you have browsed through Fowler's "Modern English Usage" (my 2d Edition is in shreds; the First Edition is great, too, and don't bother with the new version), but Fowler had interesting things to say about when we use "great" or "large" and when we use "big". And how in different contexts the opposite can be "little" or "small".

    Numinous 11:06 AM  

    Neither hated nor loved this one but as a rule, I think CC's puzzles are good. Who is Hugh Grant. I know of CARY well enough due to my age but also I worked for a producer who is married to his grand daughter.

    I put in LASAGNe first but realized the 'e' wouldn't work. I always spell it with an 'e'. That got me to investigating and I came across this:

    As with most other types of pasta, the Italian word is a plural form, lasagne meaning more than one sheet of lasagna, though in many other languages a derivative of the singular word "lasagna" is used for the popular dish. In English, lasagne (of whatever spelling) is usually used for the dish, and some redundantism like "lasagna noodles" can be used for just the pasta. –Wickipedia

    Does Starbuck's sell cappuccini? I've never eaten a panino but I do know one thing for sure. We are in the USA and basically speak English (or Spanish). How we use words defines them, at least according to linguistics studies. The NYT crossword puzzle is a puzzle in English. Solving in pen or pencil allows one to enter a tilde over the N to avoid being an ANO if one wishes. If the clue specifies the singular or plural of an Italian, Spanish, French or German word then the distinction some grumble about would be valid however, In an English language crossword, it makes sense to use the word as it is used in this country. Folks who want to pick that nit should do the crossword in la Repubblica.

    I'm not sure what @Rex thinks makes a PICTURE BIG, but I recall seeing GIANT a bunch of times way back then. Movies used to change every week at the local theater. I used to go every weekend afternoon, both Saturday and Sunday. In Berkeley, in those days, there were five theaters to chose from. I would favor one or the other, maybe depending on what was playing. I believe GIANT came out around about the time theaters began showing BiG PICTURES for weeks on end. I wan't thrilled with that development but I got to know pictures like Gypsy, Auntie Mame, Breakfast at Tiffany's, A Summer Place, and so on really well. I used to be able to quote entire scenes and cite details others wouldn't notice. Maybe that's why movie trivia bores me these days. I don't know about SUPER SIZE ME but the rest of the films are indeed BIG PICTUREs, with or without the synonym.

    This one took me a minute or so longer than my average but I didn't notice until the iPad app told me so.

    Z 11:09 AM  

    A full minute slower than my PR, which is significant at the speed I travel.

    Movies with a big synonym in the title? Monday appropriate but hardly exciting. At least it is well executed. Not my cuppa, but that's me not the puzzle.

    @kitshef - The notion that any politician has a MANDATE is laughable. We are looking at the potential for the biggest landslide since Nixon in 1972 and over a third of voters think HRC is unfit for office. MANDATE? The only MANDATE we ever give politicians is "don't screw things up too much." Really, we've learned not to expect much more.

    jberg 11:10 AM  

    I got the theme with GRAND and SUPER, which made the central cross easier to pick up. Anyway, I knew Dean wasn't in Shane.

    Aside from that, what everyone else said, except:

    -I would count ACE IT as ESE.
    -Whether you hail or CALL A CAB depends on whether you are standing on the pavement or sitting in your apartment.
    -The weird thing about the ET VOILA clue is that "and there you have it" is much more common in English than the andless version.

    Joseph Michael 11:21 AM  

    Thought this deserved an A and suspect that the drop in Rex's grade was simply due to the fact that it's a Monday puzzle. Clever theme well executed with a satisfying revealer and clean fill. Not all puzzles have to be difficult.

    Liked the movie title parts that @Loren noticed throughout the grid and wonder if YEAST OF EDEN is what they use to make manna.

    Joe Bleaux 11:51 AM  

    You're right on "hoarding," but dont brag about your nitpicking. A REAL nitpicker, like (ahem) me would point out that a tree is the equivalent of a squirrel's apartment building. The precise four-letter word for a squirrel's HOME is "nest"😉. (You're right about the puz, too: fast, but fun!)

    Masked and Anonymous 12:02 PM  

    My complimentz to CC & DG, on a primo MonPuz. day-um … A grades is hard to come by, around these here parts.

    Coulda used a "HUGE" themer, or maybe even "YUGE". Speakin of which … Yuge schlock movie selection, @Lewis. "Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus" has graced one of our FriNite Schlockfests, in the past. Several of its actors really went for the Oscar, as I recall. Lorenzo Lamas's call for help flick. This film had several yuge sequels, which we have not yet viewed -- so much schlock, so little time. But, I digress.

    fave weeject: HSN. [Hokey Stuff Network] Honrable mention to EPS, whose "S" location no doubt got @Anoa dude pretty excited. HSN is pretty desperate, but it does get U a themer, a DISNEY, and a LASAGNA. Dinner and a movie and a cartoon, dude.

    hardass word of the MonPuz: ADONAI. Within easy shoppin distance of HSN, too.

    "The BLOB" was a pretty good schlock flick, also. Wonder if there's enough material for a "shapeless mass" movie puztheme … ? Or maybe movie titles with the letters "goo" in em … ?

    Thanx, CC & DG.

    Masked & Anonymo4Us

    GP 12:04 PM  

    Oh boy, so the comments are not moderated--I mean CENSORED anymore?? (Joke, at least if you're not a redditor). Can't wait to see how long that decision stands until the "P C R U N A M O K" crowd gets out of hand. Or until the "Rex is in the tank for X!" accusations get going.

    But remember, any bad posters are clearly sock puppets of Rex and his friends meant to justify further modercensorship. (Again, joke. Unless I'm just being a BRAT, which is a total possibility.)

    Content: 5:35 on the crossword, strikes me as a little odd to have two single word titles and the rest be "first word" titles, but maybe it was done to add on a couple themers. Not a terrible puzzle though.

    In before "why u so salty :^)"

    Carola 1:00 PM  

    A delightful ROMP. Loved the reveal.

    @Numinous - Living in London back in the 1970s, I took my visiting mom for coffee at an Italian cafe. At that time, the only word for coffee in our Wisconsin hometown was "coffee." So, feeling quite sophisticated and wanting to show off a little, I ordered two cappuccinos. The waiter turned to the bar and said "Due cappuccini." I hung my head.

    Anonymous 1:11 PM  

    I don't think it's right to say that a puzzle is more difficult if it takes longer--at least, not when it comes to a difference of a few seconds. The tougher puzzles are the ones that force you to think or whose answers you do not know. An easy 21x21 puzzle would take longer than a relatively tough 15x15, but it would still be easier.

    So also, even if the puzzle is of one size, your time probably depends on how many clues you need to look at, and not necessarily how difficult the clues are. Imagine you had a puzzle that was 3x50, and suppose you didn't know the two long answers. Even if every 3 letter answer was very easy, that puzzle would take a long time to solve. But if there were no clues at all for the down answers, and you had to puzzle out the long answers, the puzzle as a whole would be tougher--even if it ended up taking less time.

    My point is that a 20 second difference in solving time probably doesn't mean the puzzle is "harder." The tougher puzzles are the ones that force you to think harder, not the ones that take slightly longer. If I were you, I'd probably put more weight on whether it "feels" tough than on the precise amount of time you spend on it.

    On the other hand, suppose the columns were all un-clued, so you'd have to think through the three long answers. That would in a way be MORE challenging, because

    nick 1:12 PM  

    Considering the vintage of the pop culture in this one (Bobbsey Twins??) the guy in 39 down didn't 'eschew Uber', he never heard of it.

    Teedmn 1:16 PM  

    I'm with @Rex on the difficulty - it took me 15 seconds over my (unofficial) Monday average and I'm blaming the fact that the only one of those movies that I've seen is "SUPERSIZE ME" (well most of it). That's right, I've never even seen TITANIC though I've seen a few scenes on cable. I never go to the movies and my crossword habit has taken over my movies on cable habit.Yet I read reviews of movies so I usually know something about them if they come up in conversation.

    When a game comes down to the wire and is tied up at the buzzer, does the announcer say "OT IT IS!"?

    And it is interesting that DAZED is crossing ODORS in the SW. Our AC went out at work this morning. About an hour after the repairman left, the office filled with the smell of something burning that went straight to my head. Perhaps there's the source of my missing 15 seconds :-).

    Thanks, CC and DG, for as good as Monday as they get.

    Gerry Kahle 1:35 PM  

    LOL Rex ... You couldn't find a Len Berman clip that didn't feature Detroit losing?

    Daniel 2:10 PM  

    @Chris Lope and @Numinous,

    Count me as one of the LASAGNE stalwarts. I just couldn't let it go. Wish I had been up to snuff with my spelling of ADONAI, but I sure didn't know better, so DNF for me...on a Monday (sad face).

    Oh well.

    Wm. C. 2:42 PM  

    My comments on "mandate"

    @kitschef8:26 --

    You say that any victory --no matter how narrow -- gives the electee a mandate to do whatever s/he wants. I suppose that for a limited interpretation of the word that 's true -- for "lower case" "mandate." For upper-case "MANDATE," though -- one which I believe is the sense of the word most often used -- it means a substantial victory margin in a race where there were one or a few clearly delineated, important issues which framed the debate and the election. In that case, a substantial victory gives the electee a MANDATE to act on his position on these issues.

    @Z11:09 --

    In the case of the likely Hillary landslide, I don't think that this is on the basis of major debated issues separating her from The Donald. Nor, fwiw, is it the fact that she's very popular --she is very disliked by a substantial portion of the electorate. But lucky for her, she's running against an idiot who repeatedly insists on shooting himself in the foot with laughable-to- despicable statements, and is even more disliked. An unbelievable situation in a Presidential election!

    First time in my life I'll be voting Democrat for a national office ...

    Dick Swart 3:06 PM  

    Well, you know who i was waiting for ...

    Maude Lebowski: What do you do for recreation?
    The Dude: Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.

    ... better than Godot.

    mathgent 4:10 PM  

    @Wm.C. 2:42.

    In WSJ the other day, Peggy Noonan had a word for our government under either candidate. Kakacracy, government by the worst people.

    AskGina 4:31 PM  

    @kitschef @Z I paused at mandate doing the puzzle, thinking of the danger of that idea in this election. The primaries evidenced Mandates (@Wm. C.) of two extremes for Change. But woe to any individual who thinks any type of victory is a mandate. Nixon? Whoa. I recall Bush Jr. (Shrub, as Molly Ivins called him) thinking he'd won a Mandate, (2004: "Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.") Woo. Hubris. It'll getcha every time.

    Anonymous 4:32 PM  

    Re: Lasagna/Lasagne, Panini/Panino English borrows words from other languages, we don't borrow their whole grammar. We make the foreign words our own, then make our own plurals/tenses/etc out of them.

    I know this ruins perfectly good blog wars, but facts are like that.

    kitshef 4:58 PM  

    @Wm C - I said the victory gives the winner a mandate, and that people misinterpret that to mean permission to do whatever they want, when it actually means permission to represent the electorate.

    We get this a lot in local elections. Candidates will campaign relentlessly on an issue or two (schools! traffic!), then when elected, will claim a mandate to push through their pet project to change the color of the fire hydrants.

    Anonymous 5:07 PM  

    Rex, I love the letter grade system. Keep that. Thanks,

    Nancy 7:13 PM  

    @Wm. C (2:42) -- There used to be a Presidential election axiom: "As Maine goes, so goes the nation." Could this year's axiom be: "As Wm. C goes, so goes the nation"?

    Sure hope so.

    Rabi Abonour 7:32 PM  

    This one played super easy for me - like 2/3 of my average Monday time. It didn't matter whether or not I knew the movies because the crosses filled in so much. Looking back the grid seems quite clean, and I thoroughly enjoyed this for the few minutes I worked on it.

    Jay McDevitt 7:38 PM  

    I liked it -- flawless, if unexciting, for a Monday. 7:20 on paper, which is lightening fast for me.

    I knew every Movie right away, except for GRAND HOTEL, but I only needed MUG, ABA, and HSN for that.

    Highlights were few, but so was the crosswordese. CALL A CAB is good; catch, get, and hail also word among a quick poll of my roommates (all of us live in Brooklyn without cars).

    Not sure what to think of OTITIS, LOPES, ET VOILA (Rex seems right about the miscluing), ATRA, NAN, or ADONAI -- but I never noticed them while solving. Those would have slowed me down.

    Seemed VERY PPP heavy, and not only because of the theme. I counted 29 out of 76, 38.2%, didn't bother me, but there it is.

    A- from me!

    Andrew Heinegg 9:46 PM  

    I have a new and genuine respect for you. While I disagree with many if not most of your political positions and I am no fan of Hillary Clinton, I believe it to be important that the voters in this country recognize the serious and substantial danger that Mr. Trump represents. While we will not be better off as a nation with Hillary, at least we will not be in fear of some catastrophic decision leading to a nuclear war. Cold comfort yes, but it is the best we have at the moment, apparently.

    Andrew Heinegg 9:46 PM  

    I have a new and genuine respect for you. While I disagree with many if not most of your political positions and I am no fan of Hillary Clinton, I believe it to be important that the voters in this country recognize the serious and substantial danger that Mr. Trump represents. While we will not be better off as a nation with Hillary, at least we will not be in fear of some catastrophic decision leading to a nuclear war. Cold comfort yes, but it is the best we have at the moment, apparently.

    INDIpendent GENT 10:33 PM  

    @Z and other landsliders:

    Janus-like, I look back as I look ahead, and am loathe to misunderestimate what can happen as the Great American Public LOPES the STREETS in this GRAND HOT ELection year, rushing headlong toward its (Wo)MANDATE with Destiny. DARN well anything can happen as short-term memory rules the day, and I only PREY we aren't all left out TA ROT, or ROT we certainly will. I just hope we won't REPENT late, simply because we didn't take the time to PENT early.

    One thing's for sure: Canada won't be absorbing any mass exodus.

    IGNOBLEsse oblige

    George Barany 11:10 PM  

    I promised to check back later, so here goes. Interesting to see how the word MANDATE spawned a relatively sophisticated political discussion. @Wm. C, hats off to you for rejecting An Embarrassment of Riches.

    This link takes you to the screenplay for "Singin' In the Rain" -- from that point, just search for "cab" in the dialogue. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a free clip of that portion of the film on YouTube, so you'll have to accept this scene instead.

    Anonymous 11:12 PM  

    I feel like the world has turned upside down ... after breezing through this in no time at all (I have said before, I am a slow puzzler), I fully expected Rex to give it a total fail for being *too easy* -- what is the world coming to? ;-)
    I did not know all of the movies but the theme was so easy and I just guessed at the titles once i had a few crosses. Not a hesitation in sight.
    The "Cab" clue brought to mind "Singin in the Rain" of course ... always a cheery thought ....

    Anyway, I guess I'm just on another planet from Rex but there were a few commenters there with me - as is often the case, I appreciate fellow puzzlers ....


    Larry Gilstrap 12:18 AM  

    As a child, I am certain I threw a few temper tantrums, but by all reports, I was no BRAT. Kids have an excuse for sometimes behaving badly. Give them and their parents the benefit of the doubt.

    Burma Shave 10:17 AM  


    A ROMP with ACUTE escort was a GIANT mistake,
    because ETVOILA – NAN was IAN – I was on a MANDATE!


    SharonAK 12:10 PM  

    I found it substantially hard than a typical Monday. Many of the clues not for names seemed vague, seemed they could have several answers, until I got enough crosses to clue me in. I Appreciate my Monday puzzles being easy as expected (but with some clever cluing for humor or a quick aha. (I do Mon - Thur and Sundays, never try Friday or sat)
    Did not find it as clever as most of the commenters did.

    rondo 12:33 PM  

    I’ve seen all of those films, so that part was kinda easy. I wasted some time and ink doing a STOPin/STOPat/STOPBY thing. The STOPat was derived from thinking of Grant hARt, who is not a leading man except in the manner of being best known as the drummer and co-songwriter for the influential alternative rock and hardcore punk band Hüsker Dü from right here in the Twin Cities. But the Beeb and the BLOB fixed that.

    Iowa’s COE college finally shows up instead of jOE College.

    Would somebody from CABALA CALLACAB?

    GRANDHOTEL star Greta Garbo was my grandmother’s much younger cousin and apparently harbored much resentment in the fact that so much of the rest of the Gustafsson family emigrated to the US and they did not make allowances to bring Greta’s family with them. Seems odd to call a relative yeah baby. Even one that distant.

    DARN nice puz, in the whole BIGPICTURE.

    leftcoastTAM 12:38 PM  

    Will come here first before reading anything.

    This puzzle is a puzzling Monday.

    Of the four theme answers, three are literally BIGPICTUREs that could also be puns (assuming Garbo's was considered big hit at the time).

    The fourth, SUPERSIZEME works as a pun, but it was not literally "big" as in a hit or at the box office, although I guess it did well enough.

    ADONAI, ETVOILA, and OTITIS are Tuesday or Wednesday level. VENN is okay because we have seen it recently.

    Okay, a nice mix maybe, but a puzzling one, literally and figuratively.

    spacecraft 12:50 PM  

    Wow, look at all those wonderful films--and then...SUPERSIZEME???? Oh, I realize that the first word fits the theme, but really. Clearly, this entry Does. Not. Belong. I would even rather it be SUPERMANIII. But the crossing of those two in the center is, well, TITANIC. GIANT. Take your pick.

    I had no trouble with CALLACAB, since here in Sin City it's a sin to hail one. Not the hailer's sin; that of the driver. Cabbies cannot pick up fares on the STREETS here; it's actually against the law. And no wonder: the incidence of car vs. pedestrian deaths is high enough. You can call one, of course, but you must be picked up at an off-STREET address.

    I do like the reveal phrase, and all but one of the theme entries. A plethora of threes yields some rough fill, but by and "large" it's not too bad. Strange clue for REPENT; I don't think I'd use the word "apologize." I think REPENT is a much stronger sentiment. "Apologize" sounds like you bumped into somebody. REPENT is for when you bumped somebody off.

    Loved @M&A's "Dinner and a movie and cartoon, dude." Casting (wink!) about for a DOD I have to use one of the flicks: the incomparable Elizabeth Taylor as she appeared in GIANT. Especially the beginning. This one's a toughie to golf-grade, maybe another "pardie." In football terms, it'll move the chains: first down.

    leftcoastTAM 12:55 PM  

    @BS: FUN-NY!

    Diana,LIW 2:34 PM  

    Overall Monday easy, with the exception of a few ADONAI OTITIS kinda answers. Yeah, ok, maybe a Tuesday rating.

    I can't always guess which word of the day will send the commentariat into a tizzy. The MANDATE today was not clear.

    Speaking of which (hello @BS), The Lady Chablis died recently. No one but she could play herself in the big movie, Midnight in the Garden... The STREETS of Savannah will never be the same.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

    Sailor 3:50 PM  

    A GRAND puzzle, I thought. Not quite TITANIC, but certainly the most entertaining and accomplished Monday in quite some time.

    I won't even complain about the high PPP level today, 'cause I'm one of the least movie-literate people around, so if I knew all of these "BIG" PICTURES, I've got to assume most everyone does.

    I do agree that the clue for REPENT seemed a little off. And CABALA has got to be the least common of the several variant spellings.

    But, ADONAI, ETVOILA, LASAGNA, IGNOBLE and OTITIS! Those, and a clever and well-executed theme, raise this puzzle well above the typical Monday.

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