Doggie of old cartoons / SUN 12-4-16 / 7Up in old ads / nova musical style of late Middle Ages / Actions of environmental extremists / Eco-friendly building certification for short

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Action Stars" — actors whose names are turned into past tense verbs and clued as fill-in-the-blanks at the beginnings of vaguely movie-related sentences:

Theme answers:
  • ORLANDO BLOOMED ... into a major film star (23A)
  • HELEN HUNTED ... for just the right film role (34A)
  • JAMES GARNERED ... several filmmaking awards (52A) ("filmmaking??")
  • SEAN PENNED ... a new film adaptation (66A)
  • BRAD PITTED ... two film studios against each other (69A)
  • SHELLEY LONGED ... for meatier roles (83A)
  • GLENN CLOSED ... the film deal (96A)
  • RUSSELL BRANDED ... himself as a big-screen film star (111A)
Word of the Day: TIANA (4D: First African-American Disney princess) —
Princess Tiana of Maldonia is a fictional main character who appears in Walt Disney Pictures' 49th animated feature film The Princess and the Frog (2009). Created by directors Ron Clements and John Musker and animated by Mark Henn, Tiana is voiced by Anika Noni Rose as an adult, while Elizabeth M. Dampier voices the character as a child. // Tiana is loosely based on two princesses. Firstly, Princess Emma, the heroine of E. D. Baker's novel The Frog Princess. Secondly, the princess that appears in the Brothers Grimm fairy tale titled The Frog Prince (published in 1812) by which E.D. Baker's novel was originally inspired. (wikipedia)
• • •

Jodie Fostered ...
Cary Granted ...
Fredric Marched ...
Robert Donated ...
Gregory Pecked ...
James Earl Jonesed ...
Geoffrey Rushed ...
Sally Fielded ...

... and that's just when I thought the theme was actually consistent. Then I noticed GLENN CLOSED, the only answer where just "D" and not "ED" is added. If you just add "D," well, as you can imagine, more names become available (Demi Moored, Tom Cruised, Russell Crowed, Geraldine Paged, Stephen Read, etc., etc.). This theme is cornball, mediocre in conception and average (at best) in execution. The clues sometimes relate directly to the actors in question ... sometimes ... not (James Garner's in particular seems not right). I wonder if the cluing wasn't the result of the editor's just trying to salvage this thing. Trying to make something out of not much of a thing. You are all being acclimated to a new normal, similar to the way our country will acclimate to a new normal over the next four years. "It's fine ... it's fine." And then eventually you're wallowing in filth. This Mediocre Madness Must End. I mean, it won't, I'm just one voice in the wilderness, but solvers of "the best puzzle in the world" shouldn't have to settle for this lukewarm stuff. They should be AGOG or AGLARE or ADEN or something.

Fill was decent, if largely non-descript. I wonder if the constructor got a hold of a more robust wordlist. YEAH I BET and ZIPCAR and a few others are a bit more ... lively than what I've come to expect. ECOTAGE is more what I expect (ugh, 119A: Actions of environmental extremists) (also, see clue for LEED (36D), which has "Eco-" in it—no no no). Honestly, there isn't really anything here to comment on.Fill, fine. Cluing, pretty straightforward. Short. Dull. I hope you had more fun than I did.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Passing Shot 12:14 AM  

What say you regarding GLEN and GLENN? OgGIE for AUGIE held me up a bit in the middle. Not sure I understand the cluing for 39 Across.

Unknown 12:31 AM  

Congratulations to @Bruce Haight for your first Sunday ... reading what you wrote elsewhere, I_GUESS that @Rex may be on to something about wordlists. I was working POOLside until QUAYSIDE emerged, and found the ARS clue to be AS_ALL_GET_OUT.

Despite my having adult children who were the right age when those films came out, TIANA and HAGRID were real huhs to me (the latter crossing AUGIE). GRU and SHAYNE were distracting too, given all the proper names already in use for theme entries (like @Rex, I was trying to squeeze in that other brand-name RUSSELL, Mr. Crowe). Second Sunday in a row for ZALES!

Also, a reminder of the protagonist of PUTIN on the Fritz--no Prince IGOR he. YEAH_I_BET.

chefwen 1:42 AM  

I had a lot more fun than you did Rex. It was a tad bit on the easy side, that's O.K. by me on a looong Sunday puzzle, I really liked it and it didn't take the majority of my Saturday afternoon. I had other problems like getting through that horrible Badger game (CHOKE) and I had such high hopes. AW RATS! Ah well, it's only a game, right?

Favorite long ones ORLANDO BLOOMED and BRAD PITTED, SHELLEY LONGED was pretty cute too.

My biggest error was at 69D putting in dormer, thinking a room in the GABLE of a house, well the ER worked. DOH, silly me!

jae 2:06 AM  

Easy-medium for me with the bottom half tougher than the top.



Reasonably smooth, OK theme, liked it...or maybe I''m just getting use the "new normal" ?

Unknown 2:23 AM  

Best thing about this crossword? It reminded me of "ALLEGRO non TROPPO", a (mostly) animated Italian film that parodies Disney's "Fantasia." For instance, it uses Ravel's "Bolero" as the score to a depiction of evolution, from the sludge at the bottle of a Coke bottle to the horrifying monstrosities of human cities.

Jennifer Garnered
Christoph Waltzed
Hugh Granted
Ellen Paged
Nicolas Caged
Emily Blunted
Vincent Priced
Sally Fielded
Julianne/Demi/Roger Moored
Christian Baled

The theme and fill seemed rather benign. There seemed to be a lot of speech entries: AW RATS, DARE ME, TOLD YA, I GUESS, YEAH I BET, and GOT IT. Also SHUSH, HOORAY, and WELL (clued as ["I'm waiting ...?"]).

I didn't know the expression AS ALL GET-OUT, so that was fun to learn. I also liked ZIPCAR, UNCOLA, HAGRID, TIANA, SPRAY GUN, BOOSTER SHOT, and DANTE.

Wanted POOLSIDE (which is definitely a thing) instead of POOL AREA (which seems like green paint to me). I'm looking askance at QUAYSIDE (which I'm not convinced is a thing).

The cluing was boring. Mildly liked the clues for THUMB [Something that turns up when you snap your fingers?], SANTA [December temp], and BUTLER [Gable part].

I usually love a quotation clue, but the one here for DANTE left me cold [Poet who wrote "In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost"]. These are the opening lines to "Inferno," of course, and (how to put it?) they don't really stand alone as a quotation. A good quotation is more than trivia, it provides a bit of joy all by itself. Contrast another Dante line: "a great flame follows a little spark."

Anonymous 2:48 AM  

@Passing Shot: A"suit" is a white collar worker or management, and many of that ilk sport MBAs, a sometimes dubious graduate degree,

Anonymous 3:46 AM  

Too late for Saturday but "moldy" for "old-fashioned" rankles.
Moldy : Old-fashioned
Cheese : Hoopskirt.

Phil 4:50 AM  

yes to POOLside
Maybe if clued properly.
'She's down pool area getting a tan'. WHAT???
'I mean poolside' oh, thanks.

'mericans in Paris 5:40 AM  

Exactly what we expected @Rex to say. And we are 100% with his observation on "the way our country will acclimate to a new normal over the next four years."

We agree that the theme was about as simplistic as it gets. Would have been better if it was a bit more edgy, however. Scene at a Hollywood watering hole:

Ellen Burstyn to see SHARON, STONED. HUMPHREY BOGARTED the last joint. Meanwhile, at the bar, TOM CRUISED, and RUSSEL CROWED about his latest film role. Oblivious to all around her, ELLEN PAGED her agent, while KATHARINE HEPBURNED, alone in her booth.

The fill was OK, but with too many speech entries. We DNF because we had Ah, RATS instead of AW RATS. The two worst for us, however, were POOL AREA and EATABLE. WHo ever says EATABLE rather than EdiBLE?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was a gimme for me, as I work with colleagues who work on the energy and water efficiency of buildings. I consider it a fair question for anybody who lives in or visits a city with modern office buildings or hotels. If the building has been constructed (or redone) since 2000, chances it has been LEED certified. Just look at the brass plate in the lobby.

Lewis 6:16 AM  

@martin -- I appreciate your balanced reaction to puzzles. You occasionally soar with love for a puzzle or slam with hate, but mostly you just evenly point out the goods and bads, using wise observations.

Just because there are many examples of the theme that aren't in the puzzle doesn't make it a bad theme. Has this theme been done before? If not, it is cute, clever, and original, IMO. Already, it's got other people here coming up with other theme answers -- a sign of a catchy theme. I think this is a Sunday puzzle precisely because there are so many theme answer possibilities, but, on the other hand, those possibilities are fewer because many wouldn't fit in the puzzle.

The puzzle does seem to have a mini-theme that I'll call ENDED. Besides the theme answers, I counted eight words that end in ED. I think the puzzle would have been more elegant without them. I also think it would have been better without other actors as answers (DERN, BELA).

There were some cool pairs: DERN/BERN, EDEN/ADEN, BELA/BALI. And I love the vowel-string words QUEUED and ROUES.

I do love the dazzling puzzles that come along, but I'm also grateful for the ones that get my brain figuring things out, and jog memories that haven't been poked in quite a while, and get me to earn a few ahas along the way. This was one of those -- not particularly memorable, but giving me a good solving experience.

smalltowndoc 6:44 AM  

Toss up for worst entry: EATABLE and TEHEED. I think the latter wins.

A little nostalgia in the puzzle for this (just) 61 year-old: AUGIE DOGGIE (and wasn't his father Doggie Daddy) and UNCOLA (anybody else remember the 7Up commercials with Trinidadian actor Geoffrey Holder: "This is a cola nut...").

Definitely not nostalgic: LSD TRIP (more commonly, "acid trip"). I witnessed a few at weekend parties (9th grade!) and wondered why anyone would want to experience temporary psychosis? No thanks.

Easiest part of this puzzle was the obvious "ED" that one could automatically add to the end of each theme entry.

Most inaccurate clue (anatomic picking of nits): "Radius" for ARMBONE. That would be the forearm, not the arm, which extends from shoulder to elbow. So, clue should have been "humerus". You're welcome.

Jon Alexander 6:52 AM  

Not gonna comment on the general "meh" of the puzzle, but ASALLGETOUT??? I have never heard of that phrase before. Is it just me?

Loren Muse Smith 6:52 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 6:54 AM  

I struggle when a puzzle I really liked is so roundly smacked down. I question myself. How could I have enjoyed this "mediocre madness"? Shame on me. Even now after a couple of years, it's scary for me, a big weenie, to be a foil here. So I'll sit there and do a quick Enjoyment Check to make sure I'm not just sticking to my shtick. I really do. In the end, the one single thing that bolsters me is the bottom line – this puzzle tickled me. I smiled when I *finally* got HELEN HUNTED. I sat back and relished the entire solve. I had so much fun figuring out the themers.

I thought Rex would complain about CLOSE/CLOSED's pronunciation change. And that the verb is pit but the last name is PITT.

FLOG crosses LAY INTO. Nice. And ASPIRE is over YEARNS.

@Martin A – I liked UNCOLA, too. 7-up. That big green bottle with the red seven and U P after. (And I agree with @Lewis – you can deftly call out what you don't like without being nasty.)

Three mistakes: 66d "teens" for SANTA, 96d "I copy" for GOT IT, and 59a "dog" for HUG.

Oh, and "yea right" before YEAH, I BET. Dumb.

I hesitated on the clue for RUINED ("bankrupt"). If only. Some people can declare bankruptcy several times and just keep on keeping on.

@Tita – very sweet AGA story from the other day. The relationship between human and dog is nothing short of a miracle.

Yeah, @smalltowndoc – I went in and shamelessly filled in all the EDs. One fewer thing to worry about. (Hi, @Nancy)

If we ever get chickens, we'll have to have two roosters, Gregory and James Earl, so I can say that Gregory pecked at the grain while James Earl jonesed for real worms.

I'm with @Lewis on everything he said except one: this puzzle is one I'll remember. It amused me.

Anonymous 6:55 AM  

"And then eventually you're wallowing in filth."

My goodness. Who would write a sentence like this in a review of a crossword puzzle?

Rex Parker. For some reason.

Give the hostility and condescending attitude a rest.

'mericans in Paris 7:03 AM  

@Jonathan Alexander: My parents, both born in 1924 and raised in the greater Boston AREA, both used AS ALL GET OUT, as in "I'm tired AS ALL GET OUT". Perhaps it's a New England thing.

John Child 7:28 AM  

Jeez you people are fun. I'm on @Martin A's wavelength again today for Allegro non Troppo, my first thought when I filled that in. AS ALL GET OUT makes me think of my grandmother who was full of colorful phases like "He doesn't know enough to pound sand down a rat hole." I agree that it could be northeast regional.

I loved QUAYSIDE and would have preferred POOLside, but clearly couldn't have both. Totally in agreement that the puzzle would have been better if the other ...ED entries were not there.

LOL and a grimace at @LMS's note on bankruptcy.

@smalltowndoc: my life has been much better for a few LSD TRIPs. It was enlightenment, not psychosis. Steve Jobs famously suggested that Bill Gates should have done the same.

Nick D 7:51 AM  

Finished 10 minutes under my average.

Final square for me was the Natick at SCAR/SHAYNE. Why would you clue that with two relatively obscure proper nouns when you don't even have to? Laziness?

chefbea 7:51 AM  

Some of the movie stars I never heard of. Too busy making xmas cookies to finish the puzzle

Dorothy Biggs 8:04 AM  

Easy, and I've come to like easy on Sundays. It makes those extra long solves go faster.

I made the mistake of watching Network last night. The "mistake" is that now I think everyone should watch it. So very prescient...and weirdly relevant to Rex's take on "the way our country will acclimate to a new normal over the next four years." Paddy Chayefsky saw what was going on in the latter teen years of TV and saw the logical outcome of people who would blindly accept what they saw on "the tube" as Truth. Not gonna lie, it's a bit preachy at times...very much in line with the style of the film...but the points land one after the other for us in 2016.

And to those of you who think political commentary is beyond the scope of this xword blog...thank you for your time, but you didn't have to read this, nor do you have to think much more about it after you scroll on past. But there is no denying that this election in particular has wormed its way into our everyday lives as no other election has. We can pretend it's not there and we can pretend that everything is's fine, we're fine, we'll be okay...but that's the point Rex is making and that's the point of Network (among others). We're not going to be fine. We've crossed a line that can not be uncrossed.

Say it with me now, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore."

kitshef 8:21 AM  

1A went right in as sharpIe. Quickly removed so I could put in whip at 1D. Quite the start.

Hand up for POOLside before POOLAREA, and that had to come out to put in AW nuTS (before AW RATS.

dockSIDE before QUAYSIDE, coLnE before LILLE, nuT before OAT, ECOcidE before ECOTAGE, sHavE before PHONE.

Worst of all... selIg before PalIN before PUTIN

@Martin Abresch - "speech entries" is a good word for something I can't stand in crosswords. As @Nancy is to pop culture, I am to speech entries.

And a trio for @smalltowndoc
- "Nevah had it, nevah will".
- Just about everyone else defines the arm as going from the shoulder to the wrist, and separated into the upper arm and lower arm.
- Article in the Times earlier this week on how psilocybin trips can be of great aid to cancer patients in dealing with with depression.

Glimmerglass 9:10 AM  

I didn't like this puzzle. First, it was too easy for my taste. Second, the theme was a clever idea, but @Rex's comments were spot on. Several of the early commenters had better ones. Third, some of the clues were just jarringly "off." Not enough to add much difficulty, but enough to make me wince. DARE ME is not quite the same as "You think I won't" (that would be "Watch me"). I GUESS isn't quite the same as as, "if you say so." To ASPIRE is not necessarily to "strive." It's the difference between "hope" and "try." LARGE is sometjing less than "vast." A ship is QUAYSIDE, but not something on land. "You ARE here" is not a phrase; it's a sentence. UNDERBID is something someone does intentionally -- at an auction you can bid again. And on and on. I had problems with 22A, 55A, 89A, 7D, 68D (a favorite Trumpism).

booksell 9:17 AM  

I've lived in the South all my life, and AS ALL GET OUT is quite common.

Unknown 9:40 AM  

Northern neighbour here.... Have frequently heard AS ALL GET OUT. Mostly older Canadians tho. From British roots perhaps?

mathgent 9:46 AM  

My mother used ASALLGETOUT a lot. She was born in 1908. And she spent her whole life in the San Francisco area.

I remember a Michael SHAYNE radio show from the forties.

Its flaws have been mentioned above. I expect more fun from Sunday themes. Put me down for a C.

Tita 9:51 AM  

@chefwen...the T in BUTLER and N in SHAYNE were my last two entries...came here scratching my head on that Gable part...thanks for the headslap moment.

Nice that there were other movie-related clues like that, it why skip the most obvious one...ARS gratis artis, instead of that truly bizarre middle aged music one.

What @ Martin said. While I really like the wordplay, so much pop leaves me cold. Might have been better had the clues been better...but they were all way to vague, and sometimes forced, to be awesome. Even though I knew all but one of the names. Actually, it was all the other pop clues, which I consider actually a cool add-on to the theme, that made this puzzle medium challenging for me.

However, on the Spark Scale, it sparked lots of good thoughts. REDEEMing those blue stamps and s&h green was my job to lick 'me and stick 'me into the books. Loved to peruse the catalogues and dream...the tea cart this time? We almost have enough for the fondue pot. We still have (and use) both one things.

Spent a week on ELBA...beautiful landscapes, lots of history, great ice cream.

Was a WHO in a high school production of The Grinch. Any requests for the WhoChristmas carol? (An odd choice for a catholic school Christmas show, no?)

Thanks, Mr. Haight.

Unknown 10:07 AM  

A "suit" is a person in charge. I don't know how to phrase that more elegantly; I haven't had my coffee yet.

Leapfinger 10:09 AM  

Flinn yesterday, ERROL today; DERN cute. Plus, I got the other half of my SCRIMP SHAMPI.

Fun to see that others also zeroed right in on 'Allegro non TROPPO', delicious AS ALL GETOUT. Famous last words, eh?

The non-equivalence of RUINED/'in bankruptcy' has been covered, and @glimmerglass did a great job with all the other squiffy clues, which meant I could concentrate on the important stuff.

On the thin side of themery, methinks. One look, and Edith Headed for the hills; some others were Doris Dayed in the water. RUSSELL BRANDED? Who he? How out of it am I not to know?

Ah well, better days ahead; Bruce Haight, maybe it was something INURE I's.

Just so you know, @smalltowndoc, you warmed my achy brachial heart.

RooMonster 10:19 AM  

Hey All !
Good job Bruce, you got me in in English (ROO) and French (ROUES)! :-)

Liked the gist of the puz. Name actions (verbs). Can do something similar with first names also, as in Dyans Cannon.

Overall fairly easy, but got hung up big time with bruise for SHINER. And with ROUES a WOE there that area was tough to wrestle to the ground. Really wanted QUEUED, but was concerned about QUAY, but it all worked out.

Have heard AS ALL GET OUT, but it's been a while. Also see UGLI fruitS, been a while for that, too. I see ONEL again. Is it ONE L, or all one word? Put in E__ABLE and waited on crosses. EATABLE a definite word, although used less than edible. TEHEED looks weird. Where's the other E? BRAG missing the Humble, I GUESS.

Not totally AWED or AGOG, but I GOT IT and had fun. Didn't RUINED the ole brain. :-)


SteveDubs 10:20 AM  
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SteveDubs 10:23 AM  

Ironically I had RUSSELLCROWED (which sorta worked with the clue), but his name refused to fit. And how about a shout-out to the great George Harrison (who died 15 years ago) with his song "Gone TROPPO"?

Leapfinger 10:25 AM  

Just so y'all know: the THUMB doesn't 'turn up' or turn in any other direction when you snap your fingers. Proof by observation; the anatomic prescriptivist has spoken. OTOH, December temp was an A-1 clue.

I'm with @NCAPrez on this one. This isn't a case of the fox guarding the henhouse; it's the wolves, and they're rabid.

Have a nice day.

Mohair Sam 10:30 AM  
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GILL I. 10:36 AM  

Oh...Action Stars. Where is my favorite Cary Granted in Operation Petticoat?
The first thing I thought was how ho hum the theme clues were. ORLANDO BLOOMED was my first entry and after reading "____into a major film star" I wanted to yell out Pirates of the Caribbean...
Lady's man (shouldn't it be ladies?) was a ROUE and then a RAKE and the AHA EARL. The MAJA was a nude for awhile and what a way to clue DANTE...UGLIS fruit is pretty ugly and I always wonder if BELA means beautiful in Romanian.
I was entertained by the puzzle; that's good for me on a Sunday. Maybe there were a few too many proper names for my taste but those that I did know (HAGRID AUGIE) brought a smile.
Did someone say PUTIN on the Ritz?

Nancy 10:50 AM  

I found this perfectly pleasant to solve in a mindless sort of way. Not too many places to stumble -- but AS ALL GET OUT only came in once I changed ARt to ARS at 71A. I do have two complaints about clues that I don't think are synonymous with the answers:
The first is the cads = ROUES clue at 79A. I don't know too many women who would ever want to be involved with a cad. A ROUE, on the other hand, might be amusing -- at least for a while:)
The second is the vast = LARGE clue at 97D. The Universe is vast. My pastrami sandwich at the Carnegie Deli is LARGE.

Not the worst Sunday puzzle I've ever done, but completely unmemorable.

Da Bears 10:50 AM  

Roman Hruska was a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Nebraska. He was one of the most vocal conservatives in the United States Senate during the 1960s and 1970s.

Hruska is best remembered in American political history for a 1970 speech he made to the Senate urging them to confirm the nomination of G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court. Responding to criticism that Carswell had been a mediocre judge, Hruska claimed that:

"Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos."

GILL I. 10:53 AM  

Hey @George...Your comment was so funny that I plagiarized it.....:-)

Mohair Sam 10:55 AM  

We liked it, Damn it! (Hi Loren). Only possible complaint was that it was too easy. But we've got a busy Sunday coming on, so we liked that after all.

I guess we're embarrassed to have never heard of RUSSELL BRAND before this morning (but he filled easily). And surprised that SHELLEY LONG made the big star list - she kinda vanished after her "Cheers" run. Loved her in that role.

@Loren - Had the same reaction to the "in bankruptcy" clue. For the wealthy it can be a business strategy (I'm not pointing any fingers here). When I was doing small business lending I would find on occasion the young borrower whose business plan for their startup would include going bankrupt to avoid repaying student loans. I'd inform them that they could not include government guaranteed debt (their student loans) in bankruptcy. And then I'd ask them nicely to take their loan request elsewhere.

@Rex - You made a couple of weeks without a Trump complaint, congrats, it had to be difficult.

Tita 11:04 AM  

@Mohair - shame on you for not recognizing how *smart* those budding businessmen were. Do you remember any of their names? They may be cabinet appointees now...
In general, it makes me sad to think of creative folks like those enterprising kids, firewall hackers, malware creators, etc. in how their creative energies might make them millions while also doing a little bit of good. Oh how naive I am.

And as for SHELLEYLONGed, it took me several viewings of Modern Family to place Jay Pritchet's ex-wife...
(My sister got me started watching - I grudgingly and full-on abashadly admit that I love that show.)

@Nancy et al from yesterday - I am, in fact, a dim bulb - I don't think I'll ever get less/full right. I find it a victory that at least I realize there is a right/wrong there.
But thanks for the muchly attempts.

Teedmn 11:05 AM  

I have nothing to say that hasn't already been said. I think I was watching over @LMS's shoulder as she solved - my Dec. temp was "teens" before SANTA, HELEN HUNTED was my first theme entry, and as RUINED went in, I thought "Not hardly!" (I know that's supposed to be "hardly" but "not hardly" is as common AS ALL GET OUT here in MN. And I've heard the ALL GET OUT phrase in the wild here also.)

I peeked at the constructor's name last night and knew the HAIGHTers would be out. Bruce, I liked your puzzle - congrats on making the Sunday slot. And per his comments over at XWORDINFO, there aren't many Sunday puzzles in the QUEUE so sparkle is likely to be in short supply. I'd say, "Get used to it" but I'm not planning on being resigned to ANY lowering of standards, puzzle- or otherwise!

I did the puzzle using @r.alphbunker's randomization program; my solution is here.

Thanks, @chefwen - like @Tita, I needed your BUTLER comment to figure out Rhett was going on - I thought it was some weird architectural term: "The dumb waiter shaft is usually built into the BUTLER of the gable". YEAH, I BET.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

My personal dislike of this puzzle is in no way a measure of how good it is, but when I got to pool area and James Garner I stopped. Those answers suggested that there would be celebrities of yore and more tortured fill and I just didnt want to spend the morning asking myself questions like could this really be 'teheed?' C'mon. Seriously?

Wm. C. 11:23 AM  

@Roo --

It's "One L" -- which is the name of a book by Scott Turow, fashioned after his very painful first year at Harvard Law School. Actually, it overstates the difficulty there, because he aspired to valedictory attainment, which very few do. Most folks smart enough to be admitted to Harvard Law can coast through with moderate effort if they wish.

This construct is standard at Harvard, with (as examples) "Three C" being an undergraduate ("College") Junior, "Two B" a second-year Business student.

Unknown 11:33 AM  

Thanks, @Wm C, for explaining not only ONE_L (I'm familiar with the Turow book) but also TWO_B -- (insert 2B or not 2B joke).

Hartley70 11:39 AM  

Just to be contrary, I went for POOLdeck for sunbathing. I thought "side" and AREA were too generic and too far from the water.

I took Rex's "wallowing in the filth" phrase to be a political comment. Sometimes one's despair comes peeking through even if the context is unusual. @Loren did it more subtly today. @NCA President, with the assistance of "Network, said exactly what I'm thinking.

Mad "ASALLGETOUT" is commonly used in my world.

This was on the easy side, but it was well within Sunday parameters. I got the gimmick with BRADPITT and then it zipped along until HELEN. I would have preferred "Linda". I had a bit of fun with it and consider it a success. Thanks, Bruce.

Malsdemare 12:02 PM  

@Lewis. You said very eloquently what I was thinking. Nice, unremarkable Sunday. I'm watching the snow drift down and cover the dog poop I meant to scoop today so a pleasant puzzle and a delayed chore! What more could one wish for? Well, yeah, world peace, good will towards all people . . .

ASALLGETOUT could also be midwestern-speak or perhaps a southern-ism (I grew up in Cincinnati which is a melting pot of eastern and southern idioms); it's very familiar to me. "That dress is just as pretty as all get out, Lucy." Say with a slight drawl and you'll get the idea.

I didn't know RUSSELLBRAND, and the musical notations, despite years of piano and clarinet, have never sunk in so I need a few crosses before the penny drops for those. POOLAREA. is green paint, yes, and I did get a tad bored by the 'vocals.' Those things are so imprecise and, I don't know, seem lazy to me. But then I'm no constructor and I'm so happy to have a pleasant distraction in the morning that I'll forgive a lot.

@NCA Pres, as usual, you speak for me. I just finished Harris' '"Imperium," the first book of his trilogy about Cicero, and the corruption in Rome -- egos, creepy alliances, terrifying violence, election shenanigans -- made me realize a) our predicament isn't new and b) it could get really awful. I've never seen "Network." I've put it on my list, right after Grace and Frankie.

Thanks REX and Bruce!

ES 12:05 PM  

114D: "You will only say 'sir' at the beginning of the sentence. This is not the Marine Corps, this is the Army, we do not make sir sandwiches. Start over!" -David Lipsky, _Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point_

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

"...eventually you're wallowing in filth," and the frog in boiling water analogy are two ways of saying that the worst things happen so gradually you don't notice the decline and eventually destruction. It's so tempting to bring political commentary to this thought, but there are two sides of that argument too. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day... So stand your ground Michael. Good for you.

Blue Stater 12:20 PM  

No, Rex, you're *not* "just one voice in the wilderness." I've been saying this for 20 years, although you are saying it with much more knowledge of the crossword-puzzle trade. NYT readers, who accustomed themselves in the Maleska era to a much higher standard than this, deserve a lot better than we are getting. This puzzle is all too typical, for the reasons you cite and more, of the sloppy, lightweight work we have been getting, unworthy of the NYT and its public.

r.alphbunker 12:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
r.alphbunker 12:28 PM  

I got a clean solve because AUGIE rhymes with "Doggie". That allowed me to finish HAGRID and LEED. I should have heard of LEED because I live in an ecovillage.

I checked the puzzle against Jeff Chen's wordlist and all answers except the theme answers received ratings of 50 or higher so I was not surprised when Rex didn't complain about the fill. As @George pointed indicates that Bruce Haight used that wordlist.

Details are here.

RooMonster 12:29 PM  

@Wm. C. - Thanks for the explanation! I've said it before, I'm not much into books. Seems I can't get out of the TVs grip!

@ES 12:05 - Thanks for reminding me of that! Was going to comment on the Army clue. I was in in the late 80's, and it was either "Yes Sir1" or "Yes, Sergeant!" It was those wacky Marines who had to say Sir first! Was wondering if it's changed since, otherwise we found a wrong clue!


Fred Romagnolo 12:34 PM  

I believe that the fact that college loans were bankrupted at first led to their being exempted from bankruptcy. I think that there were a series of Michael Shayne B movies with Lloyd Nolan. TEHEED is like tepee for wigwam, neither is very logical, but useful to crossword puzzle constructors, like when you could always use "var" to justify your own misspelling.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

@Fred, How about SIC when you're just inventing something new. If you can substitute tehee for teehee, then you can substitute se, hed or ned for see, heed, or need. The two e's are there for a reeson (SIC). And @Ralph, perhaps Jeff Chen needs to revisit that word list. In any case, you both have white beards, and at my age, that's what I call sexy.

Carola 1:28 PM  

I thought the theme was clever, and I enjoyed the little brain workouts of figuring out what stars were doing what.
Today's categories:
Yup!: POOLside
Not me, on the Gable part: BUTLER went right in. You have no idea how big a crush I had on Clark Gable in 8th grade. Nice that he's crossed with modern-day dreamboat BRAD PITT.
Why must you taunt me?: ALLEGRO. I took up piano again a few years ago and am lucky if I can get anywhere near andante.

@Chefwen, YEAH, that Badger game. You might consider following volleyball: the team is on their way to the Sweet Sixteen next weekend.

Masked and Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Congratz to Mr. Haight; his first SunPuz. Makin a SunPuz is a real uphill climb. Appreciate the extra effort, from any constructioneer brave enough to trudge down that long, desperately bumpy road.

Fun solvequest. Theme was ok. M&A somehow gravitated toward the themers with an extra "edge" the most …
4. SEAN PENNED. [mildly]
… + ...

Shoot, the clues could all just be: {Tormented celeb?}, or somesuch. A Sundayful of Haight! (Too far gone to the dark side? [yo, @POOLside, @QUAYSIDE] … yeah, thought so.)

Thanx, Mr. Haight. Good job. Go construct a few runt puzzles now, to get yer nerve back. See ohso-soothin sample, below.

Masked & Anonymo12Us


Alan_S. 2:13 PM  

I heartily agree!

dick swart 2:35 PM  

This Rex Review should have been on the OpEd page.

Alan_S. 2:42 PM  

"I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take IT anymore." (But please tell me what can be done now? As you said, "We're not going to be fine" and "We've crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed").
Also, I certainly agree; This blog is as good as any to air out politcal commentary, especially on an issue as important and troubling as this.

Numinous 2:46 PM  

At the clue, I visualized a tiled gable but "part" in the clue reminded me of the movie theme so BUTLER whent right in, I didn't get the idea if the theme untill I saw BRAD PITTED. The others came slowly with some crosses to help. RUSSELL BRAND was someone of whom I'd never heard but that got figured out with logic (and a cross or two),

I vastly or LARGEly agree with @Lewis on this one. I enjoyed figuring out the actors and their actions. I have to wonder if, as an architect, Clark would have Gabled the roofs (or is that rooves?). I doubt that, by next Sunday, I'll remember this puzzle but I did enjoy solving it And it does bring back some memories.

My grandfather was fairly easy-going but every now and then he would obsess over something and get "mad AS ALL GET OUT".

I don't know about enlightenment and LSD TRIPs. I suspect it's illusory. One day, on The Avenue (Telegraph in Berkeley), for want of anything better to do, I was looking through the yellow pages of the phone book attached to a pay phone (remember those?). I stopped at one page where someone had written, "Help me, I'm on acid." That left me with a sense of desperation and hopelessness. I knew that person would get over it but that feeling, while in the midst of a trip . . . One wonders if any part of reality can ever be trusted again. In those years I baby-sat more than a few people who were on some rocky TRIPs. I even acquired a bit of a reputation as something of a "tour guide".

Apropos of nothing, yesterday I watched 41 which is a really fascinating Australian time travel film. It was made on a shoestring but doesn't really show it. No fancy CGI, no tricky special effects, just basic film-making and a wonderfully heart warming ending which will still leave you thinking.

Congratulations on your first Sunday, @Bruce.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

How can Princess TIANA of Maldonia be African-American? Isn't she African-Maldonian?

Scott Thomas 3:46 PM  

Best, tightest Elvis Costello/Attractions song ever!

Unknown 4:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 4:51 PM  

I entered the Air Force in 1971. We were made to say "Sir, yes Sir!" while in basic training. But never after we got out of there.

LSD: lots of fascinating times on this stuff. I wouldn't do it again, but no long term problems. And I think I have seen things that many others never will.

I'm fine with Rex commenting about the sad state of affairs re our to-be Prez.

Alex 5:14 PM  

Fear not, Rex. I had more fun than you did. I always have more fun than you do. I was really stuck on the MBA/MAJA cross, despite having one. An MBA, not a Goya. Anyway, I thought the themers were fun. I, also, caught on with BRAD PITTED.

jberg 5:18 PM  

I can't believe no one else has mentioned this -- but when I was growing up in Wisconsin, if someone was looking for something they'd mislaid, we would seize the opportunity to advise them to "go to Helen Hunt for it." (Say it aloud)

Not only AGOG and AGLARE, but AWED -- I was, for the second time, last march.

I thought EATABLE was just an ignorant misspelling of edible, but says it's been around since 1475, so I'm the ignorant one --

-- as is shown by my knowing neither the supervillain or Laura of "Blue Velvet," so I went with DEaN/GaU. DNF.

The English Avocado 5:19 PM  

If you hate the New York Times crossword puzzle, why write a blog about it?

G money 6:15 PM  

Come on Rex!
We do NYT crosswords as respite from the day to day leftist hysteria we read elsewhere in this rag.
I pay $6 for travel and the puzzle.
Please keep politics out of this.
Like my mother said 8 years ago after the incompetent Chicago community organizer was elected
"Get over it"!

QuasiMojo 6:45 PM  

I've seen more "action" in a Yoko Ono film. I want my $7 bucks back.

MetroGnome 8:19 PM  

RE: "Go to Helen Hunt for it. . ." Must be a North/Midwestern thang. My father, who was from Minnesota, remembered that as a boy, he'd hear people used a made-up name for the same punch line: "Go to Helen Lookfort."

MetroGnome 8:31 PM  

p.s. RE: "Less" vs. "Fewer" (from yesterday) -- Actually, it's even easier than that.

We have "less" of a singular, "fewer" of a plural: "Less" crime, "fewer" criminals. "Less" inconvenience, "fewer" inconveniences. "Less" crowding, "fewer" people. "Less" difficulty, "fewer" problems (or difficulties) . . .

Tita 9:52 PM  

@MetroGnome...this dim bulb is burning a little brighter thanks to you... Now that I can remember!

To further burn it in, I shall henceforth think "less>>>ssingular"
Many thanks! (Or is that much thanks... :( sigh)

Nancy 10:41 PM  

@MetroGnome -- Very nice, clear explanation! I agree with @Tita that it is simpler than mine and therefore easier to remember.

L 11:08 PM  

Ugh, make the musical terms STOP!! Or at least impose a daily/weekly quota on them.

Leapfinger 1:59 AM  

@jberg, congratulations on your recent regrooming!

PS. Any EATABLE that's been around since 1475 would likely be pretty MOLDY.

ChE Dave 3:18 PM  

Since Allegro non Troppo was mentioned, I have to say I used to tell my piano teacher it translated to "fast, but don't trip". Luckily, he did not object to my sense of humor as a 15 year old.

Tom 7:11 PM  

Didn't have more fun. Sort of like doing the chores. Take out the garbage, clean the cat box, do the dishes, etc.

Toocood 12:37 AM  

Agree with Rex on this one. Extremely lame. And by the way, I might say "try me", but I doubt I've ever said "dare me".

Mettle Fatigue 7:35 PM  

"eatable" seriously?

spacecraft 11:33 AM  

Easy? EASY???? You take that back right now! You CANNOT, no way, shape or form call this easy! For Ken Jennings it wouldn't be easy! You're kidding. You have to be. I get it; you wanted to see if you could get a reaction if you rated it "easy." WELL, YOU GOT ONE!!! Ha ha, the joke's on me. Easy? It's not possible. Not humanly possible. I could believe your ridiculously short times sooner than this. Why did you lie?

As if the puzzle hadn't exhausted me enough, the above rant took even more out of me. Every single row and column was a struggle. The clues were bad enough, but the entries! POOL "AREA?" Who says that? Nobody! It's POOLside. EATABLE? Who says that? Nobody! It's edible. And this ERROL. Forget Flynn, we have to come up with Morris? Who dat? "The Fog of War?" I'll take a penny for everybody who never heard of it and give you a dollar for everybody who saw it.

I could go on, and on, and on, but I'm just too damn tired. Two hours of hard labor, and this jamoke calls it easy. Just take the SE, which looks like I spilled an inkwell on it. Naturally I started writing RUSSELLCROWED...till I saw the extra blank. Never thought of BRAND. Had to tear up the obvious YEAHsure for YEAHIBET. Last letter was the natick at ECO_AGE/DAN_E. Had to run the alphabet to get DANTE, but WTF is "ECOTAGE?" It's a word, I see. Sort of like, short for eco-sabotage, IGUESS. A damn nightmare, that corner.

For DOD, we could reprise HELENHUNT, or go with GLENNCLOSE, but I'll go off-theme and pick TEENA Marie. Triumph factor on this one would be off the charts, but it seems like a Pyrrhic victory. Challenging, to say the least. Grade? I honestly don't know what to score. Just make it a par, IGUESS.

Burma Shave 11:57 AM  


but SEANPENNED himself in when GLENNCLOSED the door.


Ray - O - Sunshine 12:28 PM  

Teheed? Not teeheed? Otherwise fun puzzle. Finished earlier than usual

Ray - O - Sunshine 12:28 PM  

Teheed? Not teeheed? Otherwise fun puzzle. Finished earlier than usual

rondo 2:12 PM  

After JAMESGARNERED his place, I saw what BLOOMED up top and knew what was in store. And that OFL would dislike it. What's new? Didn't find it too hard, just consumed some time with the names. Don't consider RUSSELLBRAND in the same category as the others.

Just three temporary w/o squares at MAiA and YEAHIsEe.

This puzzle could use some Viagra since it is suffering from an extreme case of ED. 5 out of 6 ending in ED down the middle and double it with the crosses. Better go "see Alice". har

Plenty of yeah baby theme headliners, so Laura DERN will do nicely for today.

PER @teedmn, ASALLGETOUT is/was in heavy rotation in MN. My grandparents used it more than ALLGETOUT,

OK puz IGUESS. Back outside for more snow removal. HOORAY!

AnonymousPVX 2:32 PM  

Well, lucky me, yet ANOTHER "gimmick" puzzle, complete with the nonsense clues and answers. Two weeks in a row, and that is enough.

I finished this, under self protest, but I started it and decided to attempt to finish. I did, but not a lot of fun at all. Some really NASTY clueing, double clues (Spellbound, e.g.).


Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Make that 8 years. 8 years of whining in the mainstream media. Pervasive brainwashing that befuddled our host.

Diana,LIW 3:04 PM  

After all the lovely, edible themes this week, this was barely EATABLE.

Crafty @Spacey took the words right outta my mouth.

Got all the themers, but missed a lot of other stuff. At least I got to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" while playing the puzzle.

Wonder what the LATPX has in store?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 3:14 PM  

I think Burma Shaved a couple lines from his usual quatrain. Good one nonetheless.


I don't know RUSSELL BRAND. Is he anybody?

I found this medium (sorry @Spacey) and it went fairly smoothly. The themers were mildly enjoyable, and easily gettable, except for Mr. Brand. Some foods are eatable though not edible, I think, eg, squash.

Just wondering: does Donald Trump actually listen to himself?

leftcoastTAM 7:06 PM  

Agonizing + grind + some overly clever clues = frustrating slog. Main WTF's:

1. James Garner was not a film "maker", he was an amusing character actor.

2. Why do all the theme answers add the ED to the completed names of the "stars" except for GLENNCLOSE, which needs the E at the end of her name and adds only the D?

3. Was Shelley Long a "star"?

4. Why did I spend so much time on this puzzle? (That's for me to think about.)

I worked on this ASALLGETOUT, and still did not finish, though GOTIT to the tune of 90+%.

AWRATS (another WTF problem).

leftcoastTAM 2:34 AM  

@spacecraft--Have to agree with most of your critique. As for ERROL Morris, I did see "The Fog of War" doc. It was very good. Robert McNamara's confessional. Please send $1 to...whom? Rex?

Bananafishie 10:50 PM  


Shelley Long certainly was a star. Cheers really owes its success to her character, and she also starred in several very successful movies - notably, Night Shift and The Brady Bunch Movie(s). She is even fun to watch when she shows up on Modern Family. She was never a superstar, but a star? You bet.

Joe 2:39 AM  

I donated $15 to this loser a few days ago. Never again!

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