2015 Whitey Bolger biopic / WED 11-161-16 / Early American diplomat Silas / Silent screen actress Naldi / Indian drums similar to bongos / Question repeatdly posed by Ferris Bueller's teacher / Hendrix famously used on in his woodstock rendition of Star-spangled banner / 1960s tv icon whose name follows pair of letters found 16 times in this puzzle's Across answers

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Constructor: Jim Peredo

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: BATMAN (71A: 1960s TV icon whose name follows a pair of letters found, appropriately, 16 times in this puzzle's Across answers) — themers begin with comic book sounds and then, I guess "NA" appears 16 times? because ... of the TV theme?:

Theme answers:
  • BANGALORE (21A: City called the "Silicon Valley of India")
  • BAMBINAS (34A: Little Italian girls)
  • POWER NAP (45A: Post-lunch pick-me-up)
  • WHAMMY BAR (55A: Hendrix famously used one in his Woodstock rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner")
Word of the Day: "BLACK MASS" (35D: 2015 Whitey Bulger biopic) —
Black Mass is a 2015 American biographical crime drama film directed by Scott Cooper and written by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth, based on the 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. The film has an ensemble cast including Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Peter Sarsgaard, Rory Cochrane, Adam Scott, Dakota Johnson, and Corey Stoll. // The film follows the criminal career of infamous American mobster Whitey Bulger (Depp). Principal photography of the film began on May 19, 2014 in Boston, and wrapped on August 1, 2014. It had its world premiere at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival. The film was released by Warner Bros. worldwide on September 18, 2015. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow. The "NA" x 16 thing probably sounded interesting in your head, but on paper all it does is create a weak-fill train wreck. Oy. Talk about stressing out the grid for No Good Reason. Actually theme material is really thin, and then remaining answers are blah to bad much of the time (N, NE, S, ABEAR, ANEG, etc.). I love BATMAN, but this did nothing for me. Counting NAs? Nah. Also, as you can see, those comic books noises that open the themers aren't the ones that appear over the actual nananananananana opening theme. Where is my ZOK! answer?:

Exceedingly easy to solve: more Tuesday than Wednesday. Every single bit of resistance in this puzzle, for me, came from "BLACK MASS," of which I have never, ever heard. I also had trouble with the WHAMMY BAR cross (don't really know what that is), and so I was sitting on BLACK _ASS for a bit, and you could've convinced me that many different letters went there. On reading the summary of "BLACK MASS," I see that I definitely remember hearing about the basic subject matter of this movie, but the title? No. Did it win anything? Nominated for anything? Do huge box office? Bueller? Bueller? ANYONE? ANYONE? (48D: Question repeatedly posed by Ferris Bueller's teacher).

Nothing much interesting to comment on. I flagged the clue on ANYONE? (which is good), and ... that's it. This is a puzzle! The end!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Best Wednesday time ever. Enough said.

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

I am gonna be honest. Kind of disappointed Rex didn't lose his **** over 58D: ADES.

Unknown 12:27 AM  

Had a flash back to,when my brother and I would tie towels around our necks and run around the house to the "na na na na" theme song - good times!

Unknown 12:46 AM  

I found @Jim Peredo's puzzle mostly very easy, except I was unable to complete the bottom middle. BAD seemed like a perfectly reasonable description for most knock-knock jokes, and that left me in no position to unravel either a 2010s dance or Indian drums. ANYONE else run into those problems?

Thanks for all those links, @Rex. I had no idea that @Alan NApier was a costar on the campy Batman TV show (yeah, the butler did it). But who am I to complain about all those sodium atoms, even if their raison d'ĂȘtre in this puzzle is based on a comic book?

Two Green Bay Packers quarterbacks: STARR and FAVRE. Always a delight to see Arthur ASHE, and the WNBA. Wonder if ZOOM and PANS could have been cross-referenced.

Unfinished business from yesterday: The Confines' Friendliest.

puzzle hoarder 12:50 AM  

Another overly critical review but then again comic book are his expertise. I don't know who counted the NAs but now I know at least one person who can cite "zok."

I've never heard of a TANKINI but I have heard of a "crotchtini." There's a well known alcoholic on the north end of the city we'd get sometimes twice a day. She's a careless dresser and the fifth she stuffed in her bra was often in plain sight. It became routine to pour it out while waiting for the ambo. One time a paramedic asked me if I'd found her "crotchtini". He'd learned this from one of the ER docs. I'm hoping this just meant she hid it in her underwear but then again he did hear it from a doctor. Ah the glamor of medicine. To say nothing of drinking.

Unknown 12:58 AM  

A friend sent me this relevant xkcd cartoon.

Reminiscent of this song, often played at major sporting events.

Unknown 1:02 AM  

44 Down: There's a big difference between zoom in and pan, at least in the film world (pan is moving the camera from left to right - or the reverse - while in a fixed position while zooming in is moving closer to a subject using a lens rather than physically moving the camera closer). A quick pan is usually called a whip pan. Maybe the clue/answer makes sense another way?

chefwen 1:10 AM  

Got through the puzzle quickly and easily enough but did not pick up on all the NA's which to me just means non alcoholic (boring).
Never watched Batman so even if I did pick up NA it wouldn't have meant a thing to me. Had to Google the theme song for it to make any sense. Never heard of a WHAMMY BAR either, but I'm pretty sure I want one.

Oh well, Thursday is on the horizon.

jae 1:12 AM  

Easy for me too. My only problems were @George bad before OLD and not knowing the NAE NAE hip hop dance. Fortunately TABLAS was familiar.

BLACK MASS is excellent. Depp is unrecognizable as Bulger.

Cute theme and I really didn't have problems with the fill, liked it a lot more than @Rex did.

Anonymous 2:13 AM  

I enjoyed the comic book onomatopoeia theme and enjoyed seeing the hidden NAs which I hadn't noticed until the revealer

John Child 2:54 AM  

A construction feat for sure. But the solver never sees the NA repeat until the reveal. The solve therefore is simple theme plus fill that's badly constrained. Not a great experience. Monday time here. BONA KONA all.

Loren Muse Smith 3:04 AM  

Aw, c'mon. I loved this! I went back and counted all 16 NAs. (Hi, @puzzle hoarder) The whole time humming the song in my head. I'm with @jae – I liked this a lot.

It took me forever, though, to figure out the NA part. Sheesh. But once I did, I was delighted. So, @John Child, I beg to differ; I liked the delayed aha moment. That the NAs didn't stand out, to me, is a credit to the fill.

I was thinking "monokini" (too long) before TANKINI despite the fact that the clue said "two piece." Dumb. But for getting the NECTAR cross, I may well have considered "burkini," too.

I liked the RIPE BANANA BLACK MASS group. Funny how that one banana can go unnoticed, hidden in the fruit bowl until the bajillion fruit flies alert you that there's a problem. That's when Grandpa Jack says it's perfect to eat. Seriously.

@George and @jae – OLD went right in because I recently saw that ANYONE scene. It's very funny. That could be me up there in front of my 9th graders, leading a discussion on present participles vs gerunds. (@anonymercyme – mea culpa. I deserved that smack down yesterday. Hey – my email is right there on my profile; next time I start pirouetting, you could spare me the embarrassment and warn me privately. Hah!)

I have to whine about the BANGALORE/A NEG cross. I guessed "o neg," so I had a dnf. "Bangolore" looks just as viable.

Impressive puzzle, Mr. Peredo. I got a kick out of this.

Anonymous 4:33 AM  

Exactly the same for me. It was a breeze until I hit that section.

Joe 6:07 AM  

Whammy bar is slang for a tremelo arm on a guitar like a Stratocaster that allows the entire string block to be decreased in pitch. Signature sound of Jeff Beck and others. The lonesome sound of "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak.

Glimmerglass 6:08 AM  

I came to gripe about pan and ZOOM, but anonymous 1:02 beat me to it. I always mix up zok and zot (BC).

AnonyMercyMe 6:14 AM  

@Ms Muse, I don't mind your pirouetting, since you're not only droll but also maintain a light touch. As I'm sure you remember, my remark was addressed solely to @Z, so it was unnecessary (though kind) to feint with that bit of protective deflection. Principally, @Z needs to understand that a stuffed shirt doesn't go well with a tutu. Easy concept.

John Child 6:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gregg Toland's Ghost 6:24 AM  

As a paid-up dues member of local 600 in Hollywood, a ZOOM is not the same as a pan.

Also, PANS as an answer and pan in a clue: bad form.

Rex, I've read over 2000 of your blog posts over the last 18 months. I feel like I know you. In the last seven days you've been relatively gentle in your reviews of puzzles. I attribute this to alcohol. As a former Navy submariner, I'm right there with ya buddy.

My gosh we need Hunter S Thompson right now.

Lewis 6:27 AM  

@george -- Yes, the bottom middle was the only area of resistance, as I didn't know the dance, was tricked by the ESS clue (there are other things that can come before Tee), and TABLAS eluded me for a while. The rest of the puzzle was like an easy Tuesday.

I originally had "chain" for the "Ball's partner" clue; I love being tricked like that. Liked the answers BANGALORE, POWERNAP, WHAMMYBAR, and REDCOAT. Never heard of TANKINI, ABEAR, or that dance.

It's a cute theme; I had forgotten about the Batman theme song. I have a dog with an especially good nose (he can whiff a Ritz Cracker at 50 yards), and during a walk, when he gets scent of something particularly attractive, he gets in a state, and like a SLED DOG, pulls the resistant me until he gets to whatever it is, and now I have an ear worm to accompany the chase.

Dammit 6:31 AM  

What we need is a mulligan.

John Child 6:33 AM  

@Ghost, it's Frank Zappa I miss the most. There's a lot of hypocracy in this world just begging for witty scatalogical skewering. Thompson saw it and riffed on it, but Zappa was the master.

Anonymous 7:20 AM  

I don't know. When I finished and realized the NA's, I smiled. I was entertained. If that is the mission of a crossword, then this one was successful.

Rhino 7:40 AM  

Should have been a record time but I had BANGLoDESH and wasted 30 seconds finding it.


Dorothy Biggs 7:40 AM  

Okay, first I didn't know what the theme was until I came here (I thought it was just about the circled letters), second, 16 NAs would be, depending on how you counted it, two bars before the sung "Batman." If you listen to the opening credits that Rex linked, there are a bunch of NAs before anything is sung, and once you get past the "hits" and the singers sing the first "Batman" it isn't really two bars but three. In other words, the count of NAs is completely arbitrary. Not that it matters, but since it is arbitrary, the number 16 really shouldn't be a part of the clue/theme. When you think of the Batman theme song, you basically just think of a bunch a NAs where bad guys get beat up followed eventually the singing of Batman. So, musical fail.

BTW, 60s music had some of the best theme music ever...even though the Batman theme song is "rock and roll" based, the vocals are very definitely infused with some jazz with those chord clusters and the horn stabs. Nice.

Speaking of rock and roll, the whammy bar became really popular in the 80s. I'm a keyboard player, but I definitely remember that every guitar player who was anyone, had a whammy bar in the 80s. Van Halen, Lukather, anyone in a hair band...

The puzzle was really easy...near my best time...and the theme was so so. One last thing about the NAs, they seem to be randomly placed which is a bit inelegant to me. They are sometimes in the crosses with the circled letters and sometimes not. In the theme song, they are neatly arranged one after the other...they aren't randomly placed at all.

D+...below average, but as good as it can be without failing.

Andrew Goodridge 7:50 AM  

I was similarly shocked that this clue somehow got by. A "dolly" and a "zoom" are potentially easy to conflate (dolly = physically moving the camera forward/backward; zoom = rotating the glass elements in the lens to narrow or widen the field of view). But a pan and zoom are not even close, Mr. Shortz. Shoot an email to A. O. Scott if you're not rock solid on a film term. You've got a damn fine film writer working at your paper who is cringing right now.

chefbea 8:17 AM  

Still don't understand what the 16 Na's stand for. And I've never heard of a dance called the Nae-nae
Got all the theme wors though

kitshef 8:21 AM  

Completely disagree with @Rex today. The fill, far from being "a weak-fill train wreck", is unusually clean. The two examples cited, ANEG and ABEAR, are no worse than a dozen things we get daily. I would have lauded this puzzle for its fantastically clean fill.

Nobody seems to want to talk about the elephant in the room, which is that WHAM never appeared as a fight sound effect in the TV series, unlike the other three. What makes it so much worse, WHAMm did appear in the series, so all they had to do to fix this error is shade/circle the second 'm'. That they did not is a spectacular editing fail.

@jae - the most-watched YouTube video last year was Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae). It is fascinatingly awful.

Leapfinger 8:38 AM  

Pretty much what @John Child said. Moreover, I grew up without benefit of TV, so rarely saw BATMAN and had no incentive to look for 16 of anything. @GeoBar's link and ShaNANA would've rung my bells.

Liked BLACK_MASS (freed of clue), and thought India's Silicon Valley might be BANGlades, the city after which BANGladesh was named. My favourite almost-entry was troubADouR, before it turned into BALLADEER, though I can't see why singing love-songs would make a trouba dour. BALLADEER is one of those EVIL entries RIPE for parsing.

Nice to see SLEDDOG so soon after the @Malsdemare puppy discussion.

FAVRE still makes as much sense as Boehner to me. Can anyone explain the pronunciation? ANYONE?

Wondering if there's a secret message assoc with A DON IS GO FAR...

I was well amused by @loren's modest proposal of monokini for TANKINI. That
not-so CHASTE style 
was invented by Rudi Gernreich in 1964, and a few thousand of them were sold, but according to reports, only two were EVERS worn in public, one being worn by Carol Doda, a dancer at the Condor Club in San Francisco, who thus became the first topless dancer. I remember reading about her in Time magazine sometime around the mid-60s. By that time, she had undergone enhancement to a buxom 58"; I may be off a tad on the exact measurement, but I remember the joke in the article: "What does she do?"..."They say she crawls onto the stage and tries to stand up." Actually, that wasn't true; she came onto the stage dancing atop a grand piano that was lowered through a hole in the ceiling by a hydraulic mechanism. Some years later, the club's assistant manager was crushed by the hydraulic piano while he was lying atop his topless-all-the-way-down girlfriend. Sadly, he did not survive acting the cream in a girlfriend-piano OREO sandwich. Talk about Just Deserts.

Looking forward to a super Thursday!

Zwhatever 8:47 AM  

Again, pretty much with Rex here. Also, hand up for struggling with the bad OLD clue, spelling NAE nae, and remembering TABLAS. Got it right in the end, but those are precious picoseconds of my life I'll never recover.

@LMS - There's the difference between you and me. I read that last night and thought to myself, well, I won't share exactly what I thought to myself. But first, he thinks I do my pirouetting for him, as if I care what he thinks. Second, he does it as an anonymouse. Apologizing for playing around with what all these grammar terms mean never occurred to me. As has been mentioned a bazillion times before by others, if ANYONE doesn't like what someone here writes one has the ability and right to skip over it. Something else I've learned, people will be thankful for what seem to me to be the oddest things. So maybe no one appreciated our little gerund/present participle back and forth. My guess, though, is someones out there knew you were right and is glad you showed why.

And never forget, the plural of stubble is opera.

Zwhatever 9:00 AM  

@kitshef - I'm between "train wreck" and "clean." CNBC, WNBA, ABCS, AFI and EPS are more initialisms than I like (is ABCS an initialism?). ESS, NAE, I DO get a bit of a pass because glue is glue, but I don't love them. And then there are the esey ARES, IONA, ALES, AVIA, ADES and EATS. As @John Child has pointed out, the NA constrains the fill. If @NCA President is right about 16 being arbitrary (I am NOT going to listen to that theme and count the NAs), mayhap fewer NAs would have permitted cleaner fill. Still, I think "train wreck" is a bit of hyperbole.

GILL I. 9:08 AM  

I never did read the entire 71A so the NAs were never counted nor seen. I thought to myself what a boring BATMAN puzzle. I'm glad they were pointed out because now I like the puzzle...clever!
WHAMMYBAR TABLAS were my unknowns. Watch me whip NAE NAE...Cute kids dancing.
@Leapfinger. Carol Doda! boy does that bring back memories. I met her a couple of times. She was rough looking as she aged but anyone who mattered loved her. Herb Caen thought the world of her saying she was one of the brightest people in San Francisco. When the RNC was held in SF during the Goldwater nomination the biggest request from delegates was for reservations to see Carol Doda at the Condor...!
Speaking of Republicans...NOAM Chomsky went all BANG BAM POW WHAM on Trump saying "The Republican Party has become the most dangerous organization in world history." Zoiks.! Does that include the Nazi Party?
Isn't it Gift of [THE] GAB?

Unknown 9:16 AM  

Many interesting comments and suggestions for further research. My personal education into pop culture continued by Googling the NAE NAE song ... yeah over a billion YouTube hits, but I'll take that one for the @Rex team and won't perpetuate the link further.

On the other hand, something made me retrieve this ear worm from distant memories. The song features guest vocals from Ringo STARR and includes, in its lyrics, the Hawaiian town of KONA, as well as the Hawaiian state fish (which years ago, I counted out to 21 letters).

jackj 9:20 AM  

BLACK MASS had its high, hyped hopes dashed when star Johnny Depp, (who played the movie's subject, mass murderer Whitey Bulger), declared Bulger to be a sympathetic character. Down the tubes went the potential box office and the hoped for Oscars while the Raspberry award folks rejoiced at its floppiness.

Nancy 9:20 AM  

Some people keep tabs on their solving times, others on how many puzzles in a row they've successfully completed. I keep tabs on how hard my little gray cells have to work. And by that standard, this is the third clunker in a row for me. Although I did have to guess at the 3 or 4 crossing PPP clues in the SW: BLACKMASS; ANYONE; WHAMMY BAR and NAE. "Nae Nae" is a dance? Anyway, I guessed right, FWIW. Please let's have a challenging, interesting and amusing puzzle tomorrow. We're due one.

RooMonster 9:27 AM  

Hey All !

Beside not being able to figure out the 16 NAs, I thought it was a decent puz. Agree it seems more like a TuesPuz. I only had 14 NAs, as I DNFed on ARNeZ and NeE. OOF! Would've been cool to get Holy in here somehow. Do like the SE GROOVY A TRAIN BATMAN.

Another neat fact, there are No Down NAs. How's that for an extra constructing difficulty. Liked under EATS we have a POWER NAP. Would a cool night in Hawaii be someone in a TANKINI wearing a REDCOAT in KONA? That joke won't GO FAR. We also have an EVIL MONGOL and ADONIS BUNS! ZOOM!

A NEG, A BEAR, A SHE, A RES... :-)


Mohair Sam 9:31 AM  

We personal naticked on the "A" at TABLAS/NAE. God Bless each and every one of you who remembered the "Batman" refrain, and knew it contained roughly 16 NA's - explains a ton about the lot of you.

We enjoyed it more than OFL, we never counted the NAs but didn't think the fill was terribly strained. Maybe we liked it more because we saw BLACK MASS, just released last year, grossed $62 million, starring Depp and Bacon, and well advertised - how could you not have heard of it Rex? btw Rex - it was nominated for 20 awards per Imdb, one of which was the AARP Movies for Grownups (Best Actor - Depp). That's right Rex - AARP. Absolutely making the flick NYT crossworthy.

@LMS thanks for linking Ben Stein's famous "Anyone" scene from "Ferris Buehler." Whenever I see Stein I'm reminded of the best TV show in history, "Win Ben Stein's Money" - it's been all downhill on the tube from there.

Tita 9:37 AM  

I beg to differ. If you sing the song in your head, you most definitely sing 16 nas. And that's what the puzzle references. A cute theme.
And, in fact, it saved me from a natick... Yes, I counted all the nas twice, and when I had only 15, I dropped an A in to get NAE.

Btw, today is a perfect example of why this community is so great.

@lms mentions her initial thought of the wrong monoKINI. @Leapy picks that up for a tangent on not just who designed it, but who wore it. Then @Gill tells a great story about actually meeting that person!

Thanks, Rex, for giving us a place where this indirect puzzle commentary can happen.

And thanks, Mr. Peredo.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Cassieopia here, posting again from work as Anonymous. Found the puzzle super simple until the bottom middle: TABLAS, NAE, BLACKMASS, WHAMMYBAR and (embarrassingly enough) BAMBINAS all conspired against me. If I had just done the ABCs (bamAinas? no. bamBinas? aha!) trick perhaps the rest would have fallen into place, but I had never heard of the other four words/movies/whatever ***at all***, so was quadruple naticked.

After all the talk of malamutes the other day, I was really hoping that was the solution to "Musher puller" but sadly it was the much more prosaic SLEDDOG. I did very much enjoy a trip down memory lane with BATMAN and his sound effects, and it's too bad the more colorful ones such as TWACK!, KAPOW!, and ZLONK! couldn't somehow be worked in. I have no idea how that would be done, but where there's a will there's a way.

Tita 9:50 AM  

And if there were ever a place for grammtickling, this is it. Don't stop. Also, don't stop with those pretentious music recommendations.
My theory on @MercyMouse is that it had thought of that pretty awesome neologism, and needed to show it off.

Wait...why are we still feeding trolls? I'm so easily baited.

Wm. C. 9:50 AM  

@Hartley (from yesterday, re: altitude)

I too skied Vermont on many an occasion, having gone to school in the Boston area and subsequently worked there. Killington was my favorite. No altitude problem, but damn it could be cold! I'll stick with Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, A-Basin ...

wgh 10:02 AM  

Cute theme. I approve

Tita 10:05 AM  

Any native Italian speakers out there?
From my extremely limited knowledge of the language, and from some googling, I'm pretty positive that Little Italian girls are BAMBINe...
They don't form plurals with S. Maybe borrowed words, but this is not that.

I remember Will Shortz talking about crosswords on different languages, and how Italian doesn't lend itself to Plurals of Convenience, because there are few legitimate words that string together 2 Es or Is.

So do we have a pileup of actual mistakes today? They are so rare...I'm expecting corrections to our corrections later in the comments. Thanks in advance, since I'm now 3nOut.

jberg 10:06 AM  

I live in Boston, where BLACK MASS was almost as big as Spotlight; and I heard a cello/TABLA duo playing about a month ago (but the instrument has been fixed in my memory ever since I heard the great Alla Rakha playing with Ravi Shankar about 40 years ago). And I grew up 30 miles north of Green Bay, so FAVRE and STARR were gimmes. (@Leapfinger: pronounced that way because American tongues can't handle those fancy French sounds.)

On the other hand, I had no idea about NAE nae. Or a WHAMMY BAR either.

And, like @Loren, I looked for the double letters as soon as I got the revealer, and then counted the NAs obsessively. Part of the obsession was that I kept getting 15; finally I had to write a number by each one as I went through the puzzle, and somehow that produced the write quantity.

Was BATMAN CHASTE? If not, this is what the physicists call symmetry breaking.

mathgent 10:13 AM  

@Nancy (9:20): I agree. I also agree with Rex.

Black Mass was forgettable, but I'm surprised that Rex hadn't heard of it. It had a big rollout.

I'm being generous in giving it a C.

Alex 10:19 AM  

Almost Monday-easy for me, which I suppose is Tuesday-easy. A couple of hang ups. The only one that isn't embarrassing is the WHAMMYBAR/TABLAS cross. I didn't know about the NAE nae, but I probably should have.
AND, Tita at 10:05, I have the same suspicious about BAMBINAS.
AND, Mohair Sam at 9;31, the Batman theme doesn't begin with "approximately" 16 NAs. It begins with exactly 16 NAs. Not that I was going to count them through the puzzle. I did (without counting) try WHAMMYnAR, because I'm lazy, that that didn't work.

TimJim 10:26 AM  

Big fan of Batman as a kid but didn't get the "NA" until I came here. Don't think much of it. Bottom middle was also Natick city for me.

Masked and Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Sodium High!

Na, na, na, na, na, na late at nite
Na, na, na, na, na, na late at nite
I have counted everyday since you've been away
It seemed like a thousand years
and at na, na, na, na, na, na, late at night
na, na, na, na, na, na late at night
I'll sit and count the U's …

@RP: ZOK themer is a toughie. They do evidently make a ZOKCLEANER brand for turbines and compressors.

Saw that BLACKMASS flick, then promptly dropped all memory of the title from my head.
I will now promptly do the same with ENCARTA and TANKINI. [zok!]

Otherwise, cute lil WedPuz. Thanx, Mr. Peredo.

fave non-NA weeject: AFI. 100 Years … 100 Crosswords! (Rate that AFI is bein used in puzs)

Masked & Anonymo1U

old timer 10:45 AM  

"Quickly pan in" is wrong if you are a Hollywood cameraman but is what we ordinary folk would say if asked to define the ZOOM function on our cameras or smartphones. And IA think you have to accept BAMBINAS because BAMBINAoS is a usual plural in English, according to Merriam-Webster.

That said, I did not enjoy the puzzle much. The repeated BAs or NAs did nothing but mess up the fill, so I agree with OFL. I did appreciate the fact that once you had POW and BAM and BANG you might come up with WHAMMY BAR, which I once knew but have long forgotten. My only real hangup was TABLAS, another word I knew back in the day, and was glad to dredge out of my memory.

QuasiMojo 10:46 AM  

Would have preferred Brenda STARR. Talk about dumbing down the NYT puzzle. This one felt like it belonged in Highlights Magazine.

old timer 10:50 AM  

Sorry about the typos I did not catch. BAMBINoS is the usual plural for "bambino".

WHAM may or may not be in the Batman movies, but it certainly was to be found in the comic books of my youth, and quite possibly was in the old Batman comics therefore.

xyz 10:51 AM  


if you say so, Will is king

Hungry Mother 10:53 AM  

Yes, Tuesdayish for me too. No problems anywhere.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Never heard of Black Mass?!!! It had more than a big rollout, it had a genuine A-lister in Johnny Depp who made all the rounds plugging it ad nauseam.

Thanks all for pointing out the zoom error. It's maddening to anyone in the business.

Finally, I know it's taboo to the folks who run this board, but come on, please tell me how virginity is appropriate for chastity? Anyone, and I mean anyone who's had even a taste of moral theology knows all people are called to chastity. Even folks who've been married forever and still enjoy conjugal relations.

Hartley70 11:04 AM  

This was really cutesy. I liked the visual sound effects, POW, and I too went looking for the 16 letter pairs. Of course I had no idea which two letters they were since I'm unfamiliar with the Batman tv theme song. I think I'm just a tad to old to have been watching it, and Marvel has always left me cold anyway. I did decipher that NA was the repeat, and so NAE became evident. I would have enjoyed it even more if I could have sung along off-key.

Carol Doda is a tickle in the back of my mind. I couldn't have come up with that name without assistance, so thanks for the scratch, @Leapy. The demise of the piano and the loving couple was outstanding trivia. I love the twisty turns that got us from TANKINI to the grotesque. How do you know this stuff, Leapy?!!

Hartley70 11:07 AM  

Oops, correction! DC Comics, not Marvel. I know, I know!

da kine 11:11 AM  

Constructors, take note: if something isn't exactly in Rex' wheelhouse (e.g., Black Mass), then your puzzle is absolute garbage.

Joseph Michael 11:19 AM  

Finished the puzzle without understanding the 16 NAs. Used to watch Batman on TV and know the theme song well, but would never have figured this out on my own.

Nor did I find the puzzle particularly easy since I didn't know BANGALORE, Build A BEAR, WHAMMY BAR, EPS, TANKINI, BLACK MASS, TABLAS, or DEANE. Was able to solve most of the puz by guessing and working the crosses.

So I guess my experiece was different from the many of you who breezed through this or found it boring. Thought it was a fun idea but not in my wheelhouse.

Raoul Duke 11:20 AM  

Dear god, man. Why would you wish such a fate on Hunter? He'd already have sold Owl Farm and moved to Uzbekistan by now. He survived Nixon and Bush 1 & 2. Had he not taken his own way out, this surely would've done him in.

Don McBrien 11:28 AM  

I'm surprised so few people have heard of the Whammy bar. I'm not sure Jimi would have called it that, as it's technical name is the vibrato arm, and I think that's probably what it would have been called until probably the late 70's/early 80's, when "whammy bar" came into use.

The vibrato arm is a lever attached to the bridge of a guitar that allows the player to slightly move the bridge in a manner that reduces or tightens the tension of the strings, and therefore adjusts the pitch, creating vibrato. You hear this effect a lot in surf music.

When Jimi came along, he played the vibrato arm almost like a second instrument, instead of just adding vibrato, he created all kinds of new sounds by going multiple steps higher and lower with the bar. Since it was not intended to be used in this way, this often had the effect of throwing the guitar entirely out of tune.

This problem was solved by Floyd Rose, working with Edward Van Halen, who together developed the Floyd Rose locking tremolo system, which uses locking nuts to hold the guitar string in place in a manner that permits aggressive use of the vibrato arm without losing tuning of the guitar.

I believe it was the advent and popularization of this system that really changed the nature of the vibrato arm and turned into the whammy bar. It was not just for adding vibrato anymore, instead it became a critical tool and technique in rock guitar playing.

Zwhatever 11:48 AM  

@Mohair Sam - AARP! Too perfect, especially after doing the AVCX puzzle. Yes it's a weekly not a daily, but a wonderful themeless by a great young* constructor with truly clean fill. @People, if you're not doing the AVCX you are missing out.

@Tita A - Please don't make me count the NAs. I just want to believe @NCA Prez that it's not 16.

@ Wm C. - My record cold ski trip was Mont Tremblant the winter of the polar vortex. The Thursday high was -24° F.

@jberg - I don't know about about symmetry breaking, but I'm not the only person to ever wonder what exactly made Robin a "boy wonder."

@anon11:02 - While non-virgins may or may not be CHASTE, virgins are, by definition, CHASTE. Care to share any thoughts on the chastity of the Boy Wonder?

*compared to me

Masked and Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Forgot to mention …
Altho the puz solve went pretty smoooth at our house, was 100.1%-totally dim on the "pair of letters" that came before BATMAN's name, in a 16-ish way. Had to get clued-in by @RP.
Early discarded theories:

* BW. Bruce Wayne monogram. Used only in mailing addresses.
* OW. Yelps of pain from volleys of ZOKs.
* XO. On bat-greeting cards, perhaps.
* EE. Bat screetchin soundz. [Actually, M&A's first thought; understood "pair" to mean a double letter.]
* MA. Infant Batman offering. Would also accept DA.
* HO. Santa Batman.
* UU. Hey. It's in me nature, to hope. Heck, I'm still hopin Wiscosylvania will change its mind.
* YO. Big Lebowski Batman.
* AR. Pirate Batman.
* NO. Safe word Batman.

See y'all later, after we get back from our big holiday roadtrip ...



Numinous 12:31 PM  

I thought @Rex would loathe this one. I really don't like superheroes. I watched Superman for a while on TV as a child and then Batman. The problem for me was the cartooniness of the villains. I never believed them so I just stopped caring and watched something else on afternoon TV. The same goes for the modern Batman movies. I just don't care.

I thought PANS and ZOOM could have been cross referenced. But not the way PAN was misused in the clue for ZOOM. I was a film editor but in film school I did some of everything. My firs job was as a camera assistant. Performed many focus-pulls and ZOOMs using camera tape attached to the focus or ZOOM rings.

I never owned a guitar with a WHAMMY BAR. In fact, I avoided them. I'd rather stretch a string, pick and relax to get that effect. I used to play my girlfriend's TABLA while she belly danced. I thought Will missed a bet not cluing that as an instrument popular in 21A.

Nothing here was much of a mystery to me. NAE was new but was easily figured out. Ferriis Bueller was never a movie I liked or even watched all the way through so the ANYONE clue was lost on me. As the ANY emerged I was disappointed that ANYONE was all the answer was going to be.

@Gill I, I've been wondering what Noam Chomsky was going to say but have no idea where to look.

On xwordinfo, Jim Paredo says he was going for 13 "NA"s because that's how many he counted at the end of the theme. Will Shortz said the puzzle needed 16 because that's how many there are throughout the theme. That tells me more about Will than it does about the theme. Anyway, Mr. Paredo went "back to the drawing board" and put in the rest. He's planned this for the 50th anaversary of the show which would have been on a tuesday but Will wouldn't go for it. So this was a Tuesday puzzle pushed up to Wednesday and the difficulty presented reflects that.

BoZO Killer!

Carola 12:38 PM  

This was fun to solve - so many words I enjoyed writing in: BALLADEER, TANKINI, RED[color]COAT x BLACK[EVIL] MASS, BANGALORE, WHAMMY BAR. The reveal left me flummoxed, though: I dutifully sought out the NAs but had no luck connecting them with BATMAN or Bruce Wayne. But I knew I could come here for enlightenment. Very cute.

According to greekmythology.com, when ADONIS died, his lover Aphrodite poured NECTAR over his blood, and the flower anemone emerged.

@Tita A, I had the same thought about BAMBINAS, but wasn't too surprised about the S-plural, remembering an earlier discussion here about German women as "Fraus."

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

I can only dream about how enticing it must have been to play the tabla while your girlfriend bellydanced. I guess a Catholic upbringing and the sexual taboos associated therewith quashed any thoughts of such delightful activities.

Passing Shot 1:12 PM  

If nothing else, it forced me to look up NAE NAE and watch the video. Cute, but damn, I'm old. I think I'd heard of "watch me whip" but didn't know it was associated with the dance. The things you learn doing crosswords...

Couldn't understand the revealer clue so I didn't bother with it. Easy puzzle, nonetheless.

RIP, Mose Allison.

Chim cham 1:17 PM  

You're not dead yet brother. Make it happen!

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

I never heard of NAE NAE before today - I'd be trying to do it Gangnam style. And I'm with M&A both on mistaking the 71A clue as referring to BA (which elicited a "what?" from me) and with having lost all memory of the Whitey Bulger biopic title. I caught some of it while my husband was watching it. Johnny Depp does "menacing" well but I hate those kinds of movies.

@Mohair Sam, I agree that "Win Ben Stein's Money" was highly entertaining - Jimmy Kimmel and Ben Stein together were great. And we just saw the Ferris Bueller clip on Monday in Annabel's write up so it should have been fresh for everybody.

The old BATMAN series was a must-watch at our house back in the day so I found today's theme and hidden ear-worm inducing song reference to be great fun. Nice one, Jim Peredo.

Doc John 1:36 PM  

TABLAS x NAE? Pretty Natick-y to me!

Dorothy Biggs 1:40 PM  

For those wondering if I just have too much time on my hands to count all the NAs in the puzzle, there is an easy way to do it. The phrase is 4 distinct notes long (so we're going to call that 4/4 time, or one distinct note per beat), and each note is repeated, that is, there are two "NAs" per distinct note. With me so far?

So that make 8 NAs per measure/phrase. What the puzzle is proposing is that the singing "Batman!" would be sung after two phrases, or 16 NAs. But if you listen to the recording Rex linked, that isn't necessarily true. It's arbitrary.

Maybe if you and your friends are sitting around and singing TV theme songs from the 60s you might do two phrases before you sing Batman!, but officially, from the actual TV show, it's not true.


Now you're probably wondering how I had so much time to explain all that...

Larry Gilstrap 2:00 PM  

A classic example of my least favorite themed puzzle involves this process: solve the entire puzzle, ponder the revealer, and then head out on a scavenger hunt through the across answers looking for some kind of pattern. Add to that the fact that the shaded squares of sound effects did not print out, resulting in this solver's swimming upstream. And another thing, let's cross a blood type with an Indian city not called Natick. Problems most of you didn't have, so why should I MIND?

I watched way too much TV in the 1960's and even as an adolescent I found the BATMAN prime time series to be too goofy, well, except when Julie Newmar was rocking that catsuit. Camp humor, at its finest is edgy and best taken in small doses, not twice a week on ABC. While solving, I balked at the use of "iconic" to describe BATMAN. I was thinking more like Gunsmoke, or Twilight Zone, or Walter Cronkite. But I guess, with the proliferation of a cultural phenomenon like Comic Con, BATMAN has become iconic.

I danced more than a few times during 2010 and I'm pretty sure I never NAE NAEd, to my knowledge. I often listen to Indian classical music during a yoga practice and TABLAS provide that beautiful rhythmic sound. Sublime!

thfenn 2:13 PM  

Fun time with this one, but then, just completing a Wednesday without cheating is still fun, good puzzle or bad puzzle. POLLEN before NECTAR, TOMATO before BANANA, CHAIN before ARNAZ, TOTE before HAUL, ICARE before IMIND and AMIONE before ANYONE - all of which probably explains why just completing a Wednesday on my own is still fun. And, believing that all Boston movies are good movies, even liked having BLACKMASS in there. Baseball, Chicago, and the Cubs yesterday. Batman, Boston, Duke Ellington, and Hendrix today. All good.

Numinous 2:18 PM  

So sad to learn of the passing of Mose Allison yesterday. He was one of my favorites. Another raised middle finger to add to John Oliver's 2016 summary, one of the worst years in my memory (skip to the end if you can't handle the Trump-bashing).

Gareth Bain 4:45 PM  

Thank you for the Youtube link. It meant I have finally seen 1960s Batman (TV in South Africa didn't exist until 1976, and I didn't exist until 1986, so...) It is as awful as I imagined it.

ani 4:47 PM  

You teach grammar??? Where? Bless you.

L 4:55 PM  

Am I the only one who did to know that Hydrox came before Oreos?? I always thought it was the other way around, Hydrox being the lesser (but the onky kosher one back in the day) cookie.

foxaroni 5:04 PM  

@M&A....thanks for the shout-out to "I Count the Tears," by the Drifters, with the legendary Ben E. King on lead vocal. Your "I'll sit and count the U's...." was pretty funny too.

And I, too, am curious about what makes Robin, a boy, wonder. (Although I have a pretty good idea....)

evil doug 5:06 PM  

Well, Gareth, since you've been deprived of modern conveniences until recently, it's understandable that you don't understand the meaning of "camp". Also, you're apparently not 12 years old.

Malsdemare 7:46 PM  

I thought it was rather "meh." I always forget to follow up on reveals, which is good in this case because I had to read all the comments here before I could resurrect the NA NA thingee. Thanks, @NCA for providing the key to flipping the switch in my brain. I never saw the show, but if you were alive during the Batman era, it was hard to escape the theme. I did get BANGALORE, TANKINI, AND NAE, but the Nae Nae dance is due to my granddaughter, age 8, executing it perfectly.

I enjoyed the whole gerund/participle brouhaha; I'm an editor here in my dotage, and these kinds of questions -- yes, impossible to believe but true -- actually emerge in my world as worth debating. So bring it all on, folks.

Leapty, your story of the TANKINI-wearing dancer made my day. And I, too, want a WHAMMYBAR; is that like a kapo?

We shall soon add that 's' back to "maldemare;” which means for the first time in many years I will have two dogs who pull. Here's praying for serious snow this year so that my SLEDDOGs get to do what they are bred to do. And no, I'm failing completely on the name thing, so don't ask.

Hartley70 9:51 PM  

@Malsdemare, I'm partial to focusing on the good guys at the moment. How about Truman or Harry, Humphrey or Hubert, or Claiborne of the Pell grants? There's so many to choose from!

Anonymous 4:28 AM  

This , but ESStee stinks!

gusw 10:25 AM  

My initial reaction to the appropriateness of 16NA,s was reference to the 16th of Nov.in year 2016. Alas

Burma Shave 11:27 AM  


Why would IMIND? You’re not just ANYONE’s STARR,
I took ATRAIN and CHASTE you FAR and NEAR.
So BANG the TABLAS and bend the WHAMMYBAR,
and I’ll sing another GROOVY OLD BALLADEER.


spacecraft 12:05 PM  

Zok! Also, where's BIFF!? That one was my favorite. Did this baby in a New York minute--or so--but failed to even understand that last clue. Pair of letters? Sheesh, I forgot all about that theme song chant. I really must be getting OLD. I don't count that as a DNF though: I finished the grid. BANG those TABLAS and slide that WHAMMYBAR, I did it.

Mini-theme: Packers QBs. Single-letter stuff IMIND, but not too much: ANEG, ATRAIN. DOD: my fantasy love GEENA takes a curtain call. Is there actually a dance called NAE NAE?? Good grief! That would be my response to "Can you do the highland fling?" Par.

centralscrewtinizer 12:29 PM  

Thank you John Child for your typo.
Hypocracy is as good a name as any for what passes for government in the U.S. and is about to be even more apt. Wish I had thought of it myself. Kleptocracy, cacatocracy are good, but lack subtlety.

leftcoastTAM 1:18 PM  

Puzzle doesn't hold together very well or make much sense to me. BATMAN's name follows a pair of letters? BA? NA? What? Not going to count them, whatever they are.

Middle South was a muddled triple Natick.. NAE-nae? Never heard of it or WHAMMYBAR or TABLAS.

The rest of it was very easy, but nothing much to talk about. Disappointing.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

Another very enjoyable puzzle, even though I was completely unaware of the na na business, and was caught in the nae/tablas hell-hole.

Steven J. Wangsness 2:21 PM  

The plural of "bambina" is not "bambinas" but BAMBINE. Harrumph. Also, they are not "young girls" (RAGAZZE) but "babies." Harrumph.

rondo 2:30 PM  

A little NANA-ing to get the BATMAN Theme theme. Huh. I mean WHAM! I did think something was odd with all the As in the west and BANANA and NANA, but was not thinking about sounding out the BATAMAN Theme. Huh again.

A few of the guys on the H.S. baseball team came to calling me BATMAN during the season. I BATted lead off and led the team in BATting average for 3 years. Two doubles in my very first varsity game as a sophomore, at least one hit in every game through senior year. Hence, BATMAN.

About the same time as Donny Iris had his hit song “Ah LEAH” I was spending most of the summer bunking in a resort cabin, leased by my company, while supervising a large construction project. LEAH was in the cabin next door and neither of us ever pulled our curtains, even when STARK raving you know what. One night she came knocking on my bedroom window and I invited her in. Ah LEAH indeed.

NITA the xword vamp makes semi-frequent appearances, but more contemporary is yeah baby GEENA. She’s in a league of her own.

And now for something completely different: NANA NANA, NANA NANA, hey heeeey, good bye.

rain forest 3:33 PM  

Swiftly done and kind of entertaining. I remember the Batman TV series, and the NA NA stuff, but I couldn't piece that together from the wording of the clue for 71A. I counted the 16 NAs but singing the intro didn't occur to me.

I didn't find the fill as clunky as some did, but it was easy (*for a Wednesday*). Nice to see NOAM Chomsky in there. He's kind of my idol, for a lot of reasons. Also nice was GEENA.

@Rondo - Man, you clearly cling to the saying, "So many women, so little time".

Diana,LIW 3:56 PM  

Mostly easy except for the SW boondoggle. NAE is one of my favorite crossworrdisms, but never heard of the dance. Wha wha pedal, yes, WHAMMYBAR, no. Remember Bulger in the news, but not the movie.

Na na, nae nae.

Diana, (oh look, another na) Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Michael Leddy 1:01 PM  

Doing the puzzle in syndication, but I have to pipe up: Billy Strayhorn wrote “Take the ‘A’ Train,” as Duke Ellington reminded audiences a zillion times: “And now our theme, Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Take the “A” Train.’”

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