Kind of dye with vivid colors / WED 1-25-17 / Christina who played Lizze Borden / Montana city that consolidated with Silver Bow County / Giraffe's cousin / bit of birdbath gunk / Uriah Heep's profession

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "@#$!" from [various fictional characters] — bowdlerizations and euphemisms for profanity

Theme answers:
  • DAGNABIT! (17A: "@#$!" from Deputy Dawg)
  • HORSE HOCKEY! (24A: "@#$!" from Colonel Sherman Potter) (fun fact, your editor once told me and a co-constructor that Sherman Potter was not famous enough to be a theme answer in a puzzle) (this was after rejecting Sherman Alexie) (puzzle ran in another venue) (it's probably the best easy puzzle I've ever (co-)made) (true story)
  • SHAZBOT! (39A: "@#$!" from Mork)
  • OH, BARNACLES! (50A: "@#$!" from SpongeBob SquarePants)
  • JEEZALOO! (61A: "@#$!" from Frank on "Everybody Loves Raymond")
Word of the Day: Uriah Heep (52D: Uriah Heep's profession=>CLERK) —
Uriah Heep is a fictional character created by Charles Dickens in his novel David Copperfield. // The character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness, and insincerity, making frequent references to his own "'umbleness". His name has become synonymous with being a sycophant. He is one of the main antagonists of the book.
• • •

Well. OK. I actually enjoyed parts of this, despite the extreme datedness of the whole thing. Not sure how anyone under 40 is going to find this puzzle doable at the Wednesday level, since even "SpongeBob" watchers are in their 30s now, and the shows only get older from there, and only a few of these @#$!s are truly iconic / representative. SHAZBOT is the only one that even approaches a definitive catchphrase, and HORSE HOCKEY is the only one I can even clearly remember hearing, though JEEZALOO rings a very faint bell. The animated ones fall on either side of my wheelhouse, though I've certainly seen both toons and have zero recollection of hearing these particular exclamations. This is to say that they are familiar to me in precise relation to my age (i.e. "Mork & Mindy" and "M*A*S*H" were childhood staples, I watched a little "Everybody Loves Raymond," and the others I watched sporadically, accidentally, here and there). Despite the generational bias, I still think SHAZBOT is the only spot-on entry. I certainly know DAGNABIT but that expression isn't strongly associated with any character in particular (in my mind) and is therefore by far the weakest thing here, conceptually. Sounds like a @$#! from any OATER, honestly. Seems like it's also kind of alt-spelled (I'd do two "B"s) Anyway, mothball city, theme answer-wise, but the concept was kind of fun, I think. Fanciful profanity is at least original and wacky, and no more or less than it pretends to be. Face value fake-swearing. Fine by me.

Going on to my "Let's Not!" list today is every formulation of [network]TV. No one but no one would say that "The Voice" airs on NBCTV. What, did you think someone might think it was a radio program? It's on NBC. Stop the madness. AZO and ALGA and PROSY and ON HIRE and multiple FSTOPS are the clunky stuff today, and that's not too bad. RUMOR HAS IT, SYCAMORE, and SNAPCHAT are nice-ish long Downs. I misspelled CRONIN thusly, and stupidly wrote SPAM / PANING instead of SCAM / CANING (which is to say, I wrote in SPAM for 32A: Robocall from the I.R.S., e.g. and didn't check the cross very well—only reason I even found that mistake was because SPAM magically occurred "again") (53D: Much-maligned food). Alright, I'm done. See you Thursday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. a note from Ben Tausig, ed. of the American Values Club Crossword:

"This Wednesday's AVCX is a polemical puzzle by me. After the pos energy of the march, maybe it's a little poorly aimed to point a cruciverbal weapon at trump. I mean, whatever, but what we're going to also do is donate 100% of subscription money received this Wednesday to Planned Parenthood. The puzzle itself, titled "Of the Free World," will be available free. There will be a blurb/link on the front page of to download it." Here's the official statement re: today's puzzle.

P.P.S. to enter for a chance to win one of FIVE American Values Crossword Club subscriptions I'm giving away today, just RT this Tweet or "Like" this Facebook post some time today. Thanks!

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:33 AM  

Well, eat my grits, this was fun! Those phrases I didn't know made me smile when they revealed themselves.

Terrific idea for a theme and terrific execution of it, along with an overall feeling of spark. I liked RUMOR_HAS_IT and AU_JUS, the intersection of STRIP and BUTTE, and the puzzle also has a HAUL to go with that BUTTE. There's a Boggle-style TAKE (starting with the T in ANTIC) to go with that SPIT. If there had been some clever wordplayish type clues (as we start expecting on Wednesday), this puzzle would have completely knocked me over. As it was, it hit me very sweetly. Dang, ya think I liked it?

I am off for a bit of travel and will return in a week. Ciao!

Anonymous 6:35 AM  

Being in my mid-fifties, I can vouch for Dagnabit. Came instantly to mind associated with DD. Made me chuckle.

Whirred Whacks 6:36 AM  

Fun puzzle, Tracy Gray. I especially liked the answer for 22 Down "Diamonds, in plane geometry): RHOMBI.

It's not every day you can solve a NYT crossword puzzle, and discover that one of the answers is a word for which you own the registered trademark.

But that's the case for me. I own RHOMBI in the toy and game category. It's one of my magnetic creativity products that will be out on the market later in 2017.

US Registered Trademark for RHOMBI

Enjoy your Wednesday!

John Child 6:37 AM  

A dern-tootin fine puzzle, from Ork to a pineapple at the bottom of the sea. "If I don't know it is an old/marginal/bad answer" from OFL is getting tiring. I'm always ready to learn and usually willing to be taught.

Thanks Ms Gray!

Loren Muse Smith 6:41 AM  

Well, heckfire and damnation. This was a little hard!

Look at the other tie-ins: OATH, NBCTV, ORAL, SNAP (ya gotta work with me here).


I had “to hire” 16A way before ON HIRE, and that mistake is what mucked up things for a while. I kept wanting some weird plural for “atlas” for the book with large pages.

Serendipity – I had the sentence I laid down last night at 8:00. on the board and asked if there were any issues with it. Out of five classes, only one person guessed that it should be LAY. And even after it was corrected, no one believed me. I tell you, people, this lie/lay distinction is pretty much gone. And you can’t argue that using laid instead of LAY confuses things and interferes with what you’re trying to say. That’s just silly. I admit, I’ll still use LAY as the past tense, but I sure as heck won’t use the past participle lain; I’d feel conspicuous and affected. You pedants might oughta move on and choose your next battle. And, yeah yeah yeah, I need to stop whining about this. I’ll move on, too.

Hey, Tracy – fun idea for a theme! How can you not like all these harmless expletives?! I’m with everyone else so far – good fun! And @Lewis – safe travels.

Passing Shot 6:48 AM  

Tough and not fun. The only phrase I recall hearing on TV is Potter's HORSEHOCKEY; never liked Mork and Mindy and didn't watch the others. I guess AZO is another bit of crossword-ese I need to commit to memory. Thank goodness for the downs or this would have been a DNF.

Anonymous 6:51 AM  

25yo here - definitely not an 'easy' Wed time for me!

Anonymous 7:03 AM  

For @Loren -

Now I LAY me down to sleep. . .

And as I LIE here I think about how few people seem to care about the number/amount-how many/how much-fewer/less distinction. My local grocery store had the sign over its express lanes read "14 items or LESS." It irked me no end every time I saw it. I still remember how irked I was even now that the signs have been corrected to "14 items or FEWER"! I also can't stand the football commentators who talk about the AMOUNT of pass plays a team takes in a game. How much pass plays were there, anyway?

To the grammar police, we live in a mighty lawless world.

- Jim C. in Maine

Irene 7:04 AM  

To me, the crossing of Azo and Shazbot remains unknowable: I take your word for it but would have believed you just as much if you said it was Amo/Shambot or Aro/Sharbot.
A clever puzzle that has way, way, too many proper names.

Unknown 7:08 AM  

Shouldn't the clue for 19 across read "HidE from the cops, say" ....?

Unknown 7:25 AM  

Useful things to say when reading about Der Drumpfenfuhrer's latest antics!

kitshef 7:28 AM  

My sticky point was SHAZBaT, which lead to anAL instead of ORAL, plus RHOMBs, which made my film category NOsn, which at least I knew could not be right.

Count me among the fans of today's theme.

Heard on the radio yesterday of a study showing an inverse correlation between swearing and lying - that is, swearers are more honest. Now off to accuse my friend the Episcopal priest of something. Or maybe his wife, who actually uses words like fudge and fiddlesticks.

Eric 7:28 AM  

@irene I'm with you as I had Ano/Shanbot. I know Azo is common but I couldn't remember Mork's expression and earned a dnf for it.
Otherwise easy for a Wednesday

Unknown 7:41 AM  

I was about to ask the same thing!

Unknown 7:51 AM  

Good puzzle. CANING made me think about that international incident all those years ago....something about an American tourist getting spanked in Singapore. Funny stuff.

Z 7:52 AM  

DNF at SHAbBOT/AbO. %^&*#

Scatology is so pervasive these days that I don't think you could do a current "fake-swearing" theme. Nevertheless, this puzzle creaks. I do wonder if the chronologically ordered swearing was intentional. Nice little touch if it was. Wait, Raymond debuted before Squarepants. *&($^#

I have to disagree with Rex about NBCTV. I have NBCSN, MSNBC, and CNBC in my listings. For NBC and FOX especially, I think the -TV distinction is valid, maybe not so much for CBS or ABC, which don't seem to insist on having the parent network in associated network names.

Unknown 7:54 AM  

Simply not true that SpongeBob users are in their 30s. I teach high school and when I asked freshmen to write me a letter at the beginning of the year to get to know them better, a sizable portion of them offered, without prompting, that they loved SpongeBob. I am sure they would have gotten that answer easily.

Colonel Sherman T. Potter 7:56 AM  

I've also used "Buffalo chips!" "Mule fritters!" "Sufferin' sheep dip!" "Pony pucks!" "Pigeon pellets!" "Mule muffins!" "Buffalo bagels!" and "Beaver biscuits!".

chefbea 8:04 AM  

Hated the puzzle...couldn't finish!!What does shazbot have to to with Mork. What does Jeezaloo have to do with Everybody loves Raymond - which I loved watching - and horse hockey?????

the only thing in the puzzle I liked was au jus

Tita 8:21 AM  

ANO? Dnf'd with AnO. Ya know, like aNaline dye.
And I watched that idiotic show. Never watched Spnge Bob, but answer was pretty obvious if you at least know he lives under the sea.
And in spite of watching that pointless Raymond show when I need th idiot box blathering at me, needed every cross to get that answer.

I love SYCAMORE trees. They are magnificent. Beautiful trunks, beautiful giant leaves. Lovely in its natural shape, or in the bizarre, tortured pollarding that the French must spent billions of dollars to maintain. So add resilient to the list of adjectives.

Very fun puzzle...I liked it plenty.

Autrement 8:26 AM  

That AZO - SHAZBOT cross ABASES this puzzle. I SPIT in this puzzle's general direction.

Hungry Mother 8:31 AM  

I had to use perps for all of the theme entries. Had "Teri" for TORI for some reason until I came to my senses. LAYLOW clue seemed wrong as pointed out by others.

Wm. C. 8:42 AM  

@OFL mighta had no problem with SHAZBOT, but I'm with the several people above who DNF'ed on its crossing with AZO. Never heard of either one.

Clearly an editing problem to have an issue like this on Wednesday -- or ever!

Stanley Hudson 8:44 AM  

A pleasant, innocuous puzzle.

Now to sit back and wait for Trump outrage du jour.

seanm 8:48 AM  

joining the several others with a DNF at SHAZBOT/AVO

i didn't know any of the phrases, or even recognize any character names save mork and spongebob (at age 35, too young for former, too old for latter). given the reactions in the comments, SHAZBOT is clearly not widely enough known across agegroups to be a central answer to a wednesday.

besides the DNF, it did take a little less time than the average wednesday.

Brian 9:01 AM  

I'm on the SHAZBOT/AZO hate train as well - ended up cycling through letters on the app after finishing the rest of the puzzle, which never makes me feel terribly accomplished.

Crane Poole 9:04 AM  

Sufferin' Succotash! Inexplicably good Wednesday time, not knowing the Spongebob or the Raymond. Milo O'Shea is a favorite in 'The Verdict'. Christine Lahti before RICCI. Ricci obviously better for the role though I'll go with Elizabeth Montgomery in 1975. Young Hume CRONYN in 'The Postman Always Rings Twice'. Enjoyable puzzle, Help Me Rhombi.

jerkface 9:14 AM  

super easy except for the Z in SHA[Z]BOT and A[Z]O cross which left me with a DNF.

Nancy 9:14 AM  

A Compendium of Colorful Cussing. But, DAGNABIT, I don't know who any of the cussers are. I have a feeling that their colorful cusses may be far and away the most interesting thing about them. I didn't finish because I stupidly had AnO for the dye, giving me SHAnBOT for the curse -- which seemed very peculiar. SHAZBOT seems very peculiar too. My favorite curse is OH BARNACLES, which I might be tempted to use sometime. JEEZALOO has a certain je ne sais quoi as well. But not knowing the cussers, or where exactly (Comic strips? TV shows?) they came from, lessened the pleasure of the puzzle for me and made it much too much of a pop trivia fest.

grammar mamma 9:16 AM  

@Wes Davidson "lay" is the past tense of "lie." it is correct.

Bob C 9:29 AM  

Guessed the Z in SHAZBOT on the first try, agree that was the hardest one to get. I'm just old enough to vaguely recall Mork & Mindy, but for some reason I mis-remembered him as saying "SHAZam," possibly because of the cartoon I also vaguely remember watching at the same time. Quick look at some historical puzzles says that AZO is fairly common for ?Z? though:

14 OZS
16 AZT
27 IZE
31 AZO
65 UZI

Had no idea about "Everybody Loves Raymond" but crosses were easy.

mathgent 9:32 AM  

Diamonds on most packs of playing cards aren't RHOMBI because they don't have four equal sides. Baseball diamonds are RHOMBI but they are also squares.

Nancy 9:33 AM  

@Loren and @Jim C -- Keep on fightin' the good fight and tiltin' at windmills as you struggle to preserve the last shreds of proper grammatical usage, re LIE/LAY and LESSER/FEWER. I'll be there on the barricades right next to you. And when we all fail, as DAGNABIT we surely will, I'll be next to you at the bar, swillin' the CORONA and cussin' to beat the band.

Bob C 9:33 AM  

Just to add, looking at that partial ?Z? list, from my point of view AZT would have been more gettable than AZO, and CAsING / stIR would have been easy enough to clue.

mathgent 9:37 AM  

Sorry. I just took another look and playing card diamonds do seem to have four equal sides.

GILL I. 9:42 AM  

I thought the puzzle was fun but evidently I can't spell. I thought Sherman said HORSE puCKEY. Geewhillikins did that mess me up. The only thing I remember about Mork is his nanu nanu so....SHAZOOT looked about right and since I had absolutely no idea what diamonds in plane geometry is/are I had RPOMOI thinking it was obviously a fancy mathy word.
Unlike the ladies in my family my dad never used real cuss words - ever...but if he had to say something along the lines of "you're full of s@#&" he would say MALARKEY!

Leapfinger 9:43 AM  

I swear by all that's pure&holy that I remember Col. Potter as saying HORSE PUCKEY. Bii-i-i-g disappointment!!

On the other hand, we got BENZ w/o the ENE, and I guess a bad case of puppy love could be called a SYCAMORE. So one loss, two wins.

Good one, Ms.Gray, nothing PROSY or PHONY, even with two RHs thrown in. In short, a BUTTE.

Now I'm off to march against CRONIN Capitalism.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

As a child, I had my mouth washed out for calling my brother/sister "idiot" or "stupid". Even my dad, who was in the navy, would restrict his bad words to "gosh" or "gosh, darn it" even when he lost his temper. I worked in the medical world for a long time where cussing was not an appropriate way to express yourself. In latter years, I do remember working in a clinic where we had beautiful young ladies whose language would turn your face red and your ears blue. I didn't remember any of these expressions from TV. "Azo" is an important crossword answer to memorize for the future. I got stuck on "scam" and "spam" just like Rex. It took me a long time to spot that error but finally finished successfully.

Uncle Milford 10:02 AM  

Enjoyed that puzzle a ton. Being 45 (and an avid cartoon watcher), this was relatively easy. Weird that for the first time in my life I had the same mistake as the king o'crosswords (spam instead of scam .. which led to 2 answers that were spam which I never noticed). Nice to a see a puzzle with a very upbeat and dopey theme. Several nice crosses and sub-themes.

GILL I. 10:05 AM  

@Ketshef...I read somewhere that women are more foul-mouthed than men and therefore more intelligent!
A la Helen Mirren: "I have to tell you a story about f****** the Queen."

Mohair Sam 10:06 AM  

Back when there were only 3 commercial networks and PBS we had TV shows in common, but who in heck remembered the curse words? We were able to fill most but naticked as many did on the"Z" from Mork. Who was this Colonel character, btw?

Usually a big fan of Tracy Gray's work, but not so much here - the theme fell flat for us. Just don't watch enough TV I guess.

Milo OSHEA was so wonderfully detestable in "The Verdict" - great character actor. Great movie too, maybe Newman's best. Scene with Lindsey Crouse on the stand getting grilled by evil corporate lawyer James Mason is a classic.

AZPETE 10:06 AM  


GHarris 10:11 AM  

I join the shanbot / ano club but also tripped over Teri/tori since jeezaloo means nothing to me. Otherwise easy and enjoyable.

QuasiMojo 10:12 AM  

I'd never heard of any of these euphemisms either except "dagnabit" which I still use sometimes myself. I had to guess at the Z in Shazbot and Azo (is that a brand name?) Otherwise it was a cake-walk.

As for the LIE/LAY issue from the likes of the always affable @Loren and @Nancy, I cringe whenever I hear people make the mistake but it's now at the point where it's a no-win situation to even correct them.

There are other oddities creeping into the language. Gifted instead of given, for instance. I've been reading a biography of a clever fellow who lived in the 20s and the author keeps saying things like "he gifted his friend with a first-edition of his book." etc. Whatever happened to saying "He gave his friend the book."? He is not a foundation for god's sake.I noticed the use of "gifted" vs "given" in Endeavour recently too even though no one in the 60s used that expression.

But last night was the worst. I was watching an interview with the guy who directed Ls-La-Land, who seems like a pretty smart fellow, and he said something about why he liked "Singin' in the Rain," because of "the privileging of emotion over anything else. The privileging of images..." Since when is there a verb "to privilege"? He used the phrase several times. What am I missing here?

Dagnabit! I want people to make sense.

One last pet peeve while I'm on a rant. Lately I've noticed pundits on TV (and yes even NBCTV) saying (or going... lol) "Sure, yeah, right" whenever someone asks them a question. You don't answer a question by saying "Sure." Or "Right. Or "Yeah." You just answer the question. All these young talking heads sound like dumb asses. These three words seem to have replaced "Well." But it's yet another sign of the idiocracy taking over.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

I do not consider it appropriate to use your "Puzzle Pulpit" as a political forum. I personally have no problem with you donating my $25 to Planned Parenthood but many people will. Can't we go anywhere without having being told what we SHOULD believe?

Trombone Tom 10:21 AM  

A pleasant little puzzle to pass away Hump Day.

I long ago gave up on the lie, LAY, laid issue. Modern usage has passed me by.

I didn't know some of these words, not having watched the shows in question, but the crosses yielded correct answers. You can date me by one of my favorites, "ROWRBAZZLE" from Walt Kelly's
"Pogo." Nearly every oater must have had a DAGNABIT or two.

RooMonster 10:25 AM  

Hey All !
Well, kiss my grits! (@Lewis, 6:33. LOLed at your eat my grits!!)

Pretty fun and playful puz from Tracy and Will. Gotta buck the status quo once in a while. Balderdash!

Liked it, always thought Morks colorful phrase was spelled SHAZzBaT. Those crazy Brits with their ON HIRE. For the grammarian purists out there, doesn't that sound like a mishmash of to HIRE and something else?

Also have OATH in a #@*¡% puz. Nice. Can someone clue me in on ABASES vs. ABAtES? Gets me every time.

Ding Dang it, a phrase I like, too.


Z 10:53 AM  

@mathgent - If it isn't a rhombus it won't look like a diamond. Although, I think I've seen "diamond" shapes where the sides are slightly concave arcs instead of straight lines, but maybe those are just non-euclidean RHOMBI.

@Ethan Cooper - I did not think that Rex meant "all" Spongebob viewers, although I don't know how many 12 year-olds were watching Nick back in 1999. It always struck me as aimed at a younger audience and middle schoolers would only ever watch it ironically.

@Anon10:12 - Standing by silently is not an option.

skua76 10:53 AM  

I'm well past 40 but didn't know several of these curses but got all of them from crosses. And neither 16A nor 19A looked right to me at first. But I did have problems with 37D. A cog IS a gear. Both a cog and a gear are parts of a gearbox or transmission. Gear parts are teeth. Oh dang it.

Charles Flaster 10:57 AM  

Very EZ as I was unfamiliar with any of he characters. I know it is time to start watching
MASH but HORSE HOCKEY is hysterical.
A fellow worker used "bull twinkles" to imply the same thing.
I was waiting for "shazzam" from Gomer to appear.
Lots of CROSSWORDease already mentioned.
Hume CRONYN was a most unforgettable actor with beautiful delivery and diction.
Thanks TG

puzzlehooarder 11:06 AM  

I had the ASO/AZO dnf. Also my $&@#! phone just lost all the comments I carefully texted up and painstakingly went over. One of these days I'll fix it with a hammer.

puzzlehooarder 11:07 AM  

I had the ASO/AZO dnf. Also my $&@#! phone just lost all the comments I carefully texted up and painstakingly went over. One of these days I'll fix it with a hammer.

Joe Bleaux 11:11 AM  

("Shazam!" was goofy Gomer Pyle's frequent exclamation on the Andy Griffith show.)

Tita 11:15 AM  

@quasi...saw that interview, crooked at that phrase too.

Though my pretty peeve is with the sadly correct word "commentator".
It would be so much better as plain old unfancy "commenter".
I mean, does anybody "commentate"?

Just what does that extra syllable think it's doing there, DAGNABbIT!?

Tita 11:17 AM  


And ...*pet* peeve...


Greg 11:18 AM  

Count me among the SHAZBOT/AZO DNFs. I did the puzzle last night and work up still mad about it.

Hartley70 11:23 AM  

The only expletive I knew was DAGNABIT and I couldn't remember much of what Mork said. I've managed to avoid Raymond and the kiddy Sponge (although I still wonder at times if someone is truly sponge-worthy).

This theme tickled me and I did not find it easy. I had to rely on crosses, and yes, AZO is a brand that helps with that uh-oh feeling while providing a bit of color in your life. Ouch!

The cluing felt wonderfully left of center to me and I got a bit of sparkle as I solved and that's rare on a Wednesday. I'm giving this a A with thanks for the fun to the constructor.

Malsdemare 11:23 AM  

I only have a few minutes before I have to see my lovely dentist so haven't read the comments. I was happy to see Grey's name; I usually find her puzzles fun, and this one was! I get Rex's criticism. The only themer I really knew, as a huge M.A.S.H fan, was HORSEHOCKEY. I knew DAGNABIT, tho no idea why, got SHAZBOT when only the Z was missing, but OHBARNACLES and JEEZALOO are total mysteries. Despite my abysmal lack of media knowledge, I finished this and found it fun.

Thanks, REX, for the link to the AVCX puzzle. I may have to subscribe.

I hope to find time today to do the puzzles I missed while gone and read everyone's comments. I missed y'all!

Anonymous 11:35 AM  


Couldn't agree more. Reason and decency weep every time some misinformed Nazi praises the eugenicists ate PP. And don't say they aren't Nazi's; they want to kill all kinds of unworthy babies like those with Down syndrome.

And by the way scatology needs feces somewhere in it. Your comment for example.

Curleegirl 11:37 AM  

Thank you, Jim. I think you're commenting on the use of "lay" low as past tense for "hid?" Lain low or "hide from the cops." Am I making a mistake or did this grammatical error slip by creator AND editor?

QuasiMojo 11:46 AM  

@Tita A -- I liked the idea of pretty peeve. Agree about commentate. It's a bit like the "preventative/preventive" issue.

Andrew Heinegg 11:49 AM  

I filled it all in correctly and fairly easily but felt like I was not enjoying myself much in the process.

I am not going to argue the grammar issues. I will just say that they caught my eye and I am of the opinion that the puzzle has them wrong at least in the context of common usage if not correct grammar.

I was scratching my head at oil heaters. I am not going to bother to Google it but, I would bet that it is in excess of 50 years since they any amount of them were sold in the U.S. BTW, you are either a weird or a delinquent parent if you attach one mitten to your child's snowsuit. Yes, I know the clue indicates the singular but, if the singular leads to an incomplete-nonsensical answer, it doesn't belong.

I am also aware that shortening of phrases and 'things' are done with great regularity. However, to me, Dilbert or Blondie are either comics or comic strips. I have never heard strip used as a reference to comics.

The benign cursing of TV characters was cute but dated as Rex said. I have this theory that, while I certainly have used my fair share of four letter words, the conversation and the atmosphere surrounding conversations are more civilized and ultimately more enjoyable and productive when the four letter words are kept out. But, I have just exposed myself as a dinosaur.

Numinous 11:51 AM  

Odd, I only remember Hume CRONYN by name, I don't recall anything he was in. Milo O'SHAY I recall but I recall him a s the villain in Barbarella. He was the guy with the orgasm machine.

I have to say I've seen quite a lot of Sponge Bob Square Pants. My step-daughter loved that show. At her graduation from UGA she topped her cap with a sort of screen capture that said " . . . Four Years Later". I'm not ashamed to say that if SBSP came on tv and I wasn't looking for something else specifically, I'd watch it. I always thought it was a cute show. Now, are you ready for an ear worm?

Help me RHOMBI
Help help me RHOMBI
Help me RHOMBI, yeah.
Get her out of my heart!

I thought this puzzle was pretty frelling* good. Not too much HORSE HOCKEY in the fill. I did this in half my Wednesday time. I nearly got fraked** with the AZO SHAZBOT crossing becuase I never liked Mork and Mindy. I've never really liked Robbin Williams anyway. I find his over-the-top manic humor exhausting. I never watched Raymond. Well, okay, okay, I've seen probably three episodes but I have no idea who Fred is.

Drat, blast and DAGNABIT, I used to like Deputy Dawg but that was when I was maybe 12 or 13. I'm not sure I've seen it since in spite of working for Hanna-Barbera for twelve years. I did watch a lot of M*A*S*H. When it first came out I didn't think Alan Alda was a good replacement for Donald Sutherland as Hawkeye. Eventually, I got used to him. I always enjoyed the interplay between Col. Potter and Radar.

* Euphemism from Farscape
** Euphemism from Battlestar Galacta

Greg 11:58 AM  

I liked it, especially OHBARNACLES. But I'll still have to gripe about random verb+prepostition substitution. "Hand down" = PASSON.

thfenn 12:04 PM  

Lots to like about this one. I suppose technically it's another DNF as I had to peek here to get the Z for AZO/SHAZBOT but where I got really stuck was being unable to fix APIARI/CRONIN - As much as I enjoyed Cocoon, I was sure it was CRONIN, and I suppose APIARI looked right crossing OKAPI (despite my Mom having actually enjoyed beekeeping for a bit) so I couldn't figure out what was wrong until I compared every answer with Rex's. Having SPAM (laughing, oh shush dear, don't cause a fuss, I'll have your spam, I love it! - how great was Monty Python? I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK...) at 53D kept me from repeating it at 32A.

With Mohair Sam on The Verdict - loved that movie. And agree with Skua76 that a COG is a gear, not part of one. Might have been a little dated in terms of pop culture (as am I) but PHONY GASBAGS sure felt current. Very much enjoyed today's. And hey, yet another day of shared dental visits - am off this afternoon to see mine again...

Stephen 12:16 PM  

I know the "official" lay/lie thing, but the clue still strikes me as off. If I were hiding out, I'd be more likely to say "I'm going to lay low for a while" rather than "I'm going to lie low for a while.", even if the second one is "correct".

If we're going by the "official" way, a proper sentence would be "Ever since the robbery, he has lain low.", but that sounds super archaic and awkward to me.

Joseph Michael 12:22 PM  

Curses! Foiled again!

old timer 12:23 PM  

DAGNABIT was the only one I knew -- I think not only TV but also comic book characters said it. Only got SHAZBOT when I remembered AZO, a word I have only seen in crosswords. Great puzzle for those of us who did not know the others and learned something new (and yes, I have heard "horsepucky" but not the other one).

One nit: A witness does not usually take the OATH from the stand, he or she faces the clerk on the floor, the clerk administers the OATH, then the witness climbs to the stand.

Lay is a perfectly good transitive verb as in "Lay your head on my shoulder" or " lay me down to sleep". And it is the past tense of "lie" which is intransitive: "He lay down in bed." It's true though, "lain" the past participle of "lie" is seldom used. "Laid" the past participle of "lay" is used all the time. However, contrary to that old Boston joke, "scrod" is not the pluperfect form of "screw." It's a fish.

John Child 12:25 PM  

@Quasi Gift as a verb has long usage in the Queen's English. It is apparently becoming more popular in the US now. It avoids the ambiguity of plain old give:

"I gave the book to her." Was it a loan, the return of a loan, just handed on, or a present?

I loaned... I returned... I passed [the book] on... I gifted...

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

Disappointed not to get a video of Adele's "Rumo(u)r Has It"

Numinous 12:29 PM  

I once took a linguistics class @Quasi Mojo, One of the things that I recall being mentioned and discussed was the idea that in English any noun can become a verb. We could make a verb here of our very own as long as folks will understand It. We could, for example, say that to rubbish a puzzle might be to Parker it.

Rubbish: [Rub-ish] verb int,
To talk trash about.

I have to agree that using gift as a verb is terrible and privileging is appaling. It seems that nobody knows how to speak these days. @Tita, another one that gets me is people saying "conversate" or "conversating". (Oh boy, my AutoCorrupt really didn't like those two words.)

Masked and Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Crussword puz!
Well, blow me down.
Leapin lizards.

The "@#$!" thingy had no "%" in it. Feelin bad, that % got no respect. And how'bout "*" ? Left out their "star" cusssymbol.

Like @Mohair Sam, I'm not all that up to snuff on TV shows. Confused "The Voice" with "The View", while tryin to solve 55-Across. Lost a tvad-full of nanoseconds.

@RP: DAG NAB IT. No double-BBIT. Sorta like CARN SARN IT. No double-NNIT. Or SCREW THIS. No double-WWTHIS.

fave crussword cussword today: JEEZALOO. (Didn't someone famous use to say "Jeez and crackers!"? Didn't think so.) Did have lotsa enjoyment splatzin SHAZBOT in, also.

fave weejecta: JEB JAB. Good themer for another puz we saw lately.

fave moment of desperation: AUJUS. If U gotta switch lingoes in midstream, always pack it to the "*@#%$!" gills with neat vowels. [See how much better that cussy-thingy looks? Full and shapely.]

Thanx, Tracy, U salty darlin. Fun -- and kinda easy for a WedPuz.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Anonymous 12:45 PM  

To the grammar deputies commenting, both lay and laid would be correct with the wording of the clue. As both lie low and lay low are expressions the past tense of either lie (lay) or lay (laid) would fit. There is not an error in tense agreement.

jae 12:56 PM  

Easy for me too. Liked it a lot, made me smile. Knew all but the Sponge Bob answer but it was pretty obvious.

AZO is crosswordese 101. I've seen it a bunch. Three letter dye is almost always AZO.

TimJim 1:00 PM  

A few years before Hume Cronyn died, my family and I were vacationing at the home of friends who owned a vacation home a few houses down from a place he was renting. We decided to invite him over for cocktails, and amazingly, he said he would come. We all agreed we would be cool and not act like fawning fans when he arrived. As soon as he walked in, my wife rushed over to him and said: "I loved you in 'Cocoon'!!" He was most gracious.

foxaroni 1:03 PM  

I'm with @Gill I and @Leapfinger...PUCKY is what I remember. Also agree that the DD phrase is spelled DAGNABBIT. @Mohair Sam, please tell me you're kidding when you wrote "Who was this Colonel character, btw."

The AZO crossing wasn't a problem for me, AZO being an oft-used bit of crossword-ease. My difficulty was not knowing auto pioneer Karl. What made it impossible for me was that I had ABCTV, making Karl's answer BEA?. Another block is never having seen an episode of "Raymond." So his euphemism could have been "Jee_aloo" (pick any letter).

I detested the Deputy Dawg cartoons. They used unfunny hick humor. SBSP is far too frantic, but my granddaughters loved it. To be fair, I think "Oh, barnacles" is pretty good, though.

My second ex-wife used "f??karooti." I don't know where she got it, but I find myself using it every now and then.

Really liked the puzzle--thanks, Tracy.

NatickGuy 1:05 PM  

After years of posting here anonymously, I'm able to now identify my whereabouts here in Natick, MA, the most maligned town in this puzzle. Because today I was stymied by the Caronyn, Oh Barnacles cross. No idea whatsoever. Rex, I hope you are reading this, because I want to say something important. If you are going to schnorr for money, you need to keep your politics down. There are a lot of people here in Massachusetts, military or otherwise, who are very supportive of our new president. Some of us do the puzzle to get away from politics. Don't politicize your blog and then ask for money. Its a bad mix.

Bob Dylan Asked: 1:13 PM  

Should I have sung, "Lie Lady Lie?"

If I had my way with her, would the past tense be "Laid Lady Lay"?

If I didn't really have my way with her but claimed that I did, would I be guilty of "Lying about laying?"

So confusing! I should have paid more attention to the works of William Faulkner.

Chip Hilton 1:25 PM  

The central Z crossing was my last letter to fall and it came down to a lucky guess - with just a hint of Mork recollection - over SHAmBOT. Good old Sherman Potter was easiest for me.

Fun, and a bit tough, for a Wednesday.

Teedmn 1:26 PM  

I was about to go @Tita's and @Nancy's route with Ano but SHAZBOT sounded more like something Mork would say, even though I never saw even one episode. Googling post-solve, I see that the show aired during the four years I never saw a television except when on college breaks. And I have seen exactly one "Raymond" episode. Meh. I find SpongeBob rather amusing, though not as much as my husband does. It was fun to watch it awhile back when in Austria, where it was dubbed in German. His "square pants" are rather reminiscent of lederhosen.

"Crumb cake", "buggershnoo" and the almost-too-close-for-comfort "cheese and rice" are my go-to GENTEEL profanity substitutes. And I think I'll add "Holy JEEZALOO, Batman!" to "Holy Camoley".

Nice puzzle, thanks Tracy Gray.

Not quite ashen, but appaling 1:28 PM  

@Numinous said:

"(Oh boy, my AutoCorrupt really didn't like those two words.)"

At least your AutoCorrupt is on the job. Your SpellCheck is out to lunch!

JC66 1:33 PM  

@ Tita & @ Quasi

Re: commentator vs commenter, you might want to check this out

QuasiMojo 1:37 PM  

@Numinous, I love your neologism "to Parker." Let's hope it catches on.

@John Child, there's no ambiguity in saying "I gave her the book." That's why we have invented other words like "loan," "hand over," or "presented." Gifting is an abomination when used in place of "to give." There's still plenty of ambiguity even with that. Did you giftwrap it? Did you write it off as a tax-deduction? Did you regift it to her? Did you remove the price tag? Please. There is no excuse for it. It's just pretentious twaddle. As for La-La-Land and its loquacious director, I just read a very enlightening review of it in the New Yorker by Richard Brody. I recommend it to all.

Ted W 1:40 PM  

I agree. I cannot shoehorn it into any tense that makes sense.

Carola 1:47 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne H 1:50 PM  

Rachel Maddow on MSNBC (as opposed to NBCTV) uses "horse puckey" all the time! I have never heard of "horse hockey". This was a tough puzzle and I had to turn to the blog earlier than usual to fill in the %#*^+s as I am not STRIP reader or an animated movie watcher.

Carola 1:53 PM  

@Mohair Sam said it for me: "Usually a big fan of Tracy Gray's work, but not so much here - the theme fell flat for [me]" Probably because I have no associations with any of the shows - never saw any of them.

@Loren, re: lie v. lay - You'll do half the work of the kids' future German teachers if you hammer in the distinction: when they get to liegen v. legen, they'll think to themselves, "Oh yeah, Ms. Smith taught us that." Only half kidding.

@Quasimojo - From my teaching days, I recall the gag-worthy "privileging" creeping into the language along with a lot of other pretentious talk in the 1980s, when American academics fell under the sway of French postmodernists. Just checking my memory against Wikipedia, I spotted this sentence: "Derrida, the father of deconstruction, practiced philosophy as a form of textual criticism. He criticized Western philosophy as privileging the concept of presence and logos, as opposed to absence and markings or writings." Deep, right? Sorry, I could never get onboard.

1:47 PM Delete

tea73 2:26 PM  

Geez Louise! That was fun, but so many shows I didn't watch. AZO is so commonly used in crosswords it should be a gimme, but of course today I couldn't recall it. Never watched Mork and Mindy. Or Raymond. I do remember Sherman Potter saying Horse Hockey. We watched the entire series on videotape with our kids. It aged amazingly well.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

SHA_BOT/A_O was a personal Natick for me -- and I guessed wrong.

thursdaysd 2:43 PM  

Painful - HORSEHOCKEY was the only silly phrase I knew, although I did guess correctly on the AZO cross.

Am surprised no one has called foul about ON HIRE. I grew up in England and the phrase is for HIRE, I have never, ever, seen ON HIRE.

RooMonster 3:02 PM  

@Numinpus 11:51
Goram , from Firefly TV show (Serenity movie)

All these remind me of Mad Magazines rejiggering of Movie Titles, like Star Bleck, e.g


Cassieopia 3:10 PM  

Fun and easy for me. Well under Wednesday's average. I also thought it was horse pucky. Watched a ton of Mork & Mindy in college. The sitcom was formulaic, but Robin Williams was an absolute joy to behold.

Grew up swearing like a sailor, but toned it down when I became a parent and my angry two-year old threw a tantrum yelling something about mother truckers, except his enunciation was frighteningly precise. That was the day I gave up least until the kids left the house. I'm slowly retreating back to my saltier vocabulary - it's like putting on a pair of well-worn and well-loved house slippers.

@quasi mojo: agreed, verbing nouns is poxifying the English language. And all other languages, for all I know.

@M&A: oh your first four lines made me laugh! The rest of the post, too, but dredging up leapin' lizards! Made my #*@%! day!

Pdxrains 3:13 PM  

Yuk. I guess I don't watch enough mediocre TV

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

It's ok to write puzzles full of sexual innuendos and misogynistic Rappers that objective women, as long as you donate your "profit"* to Planned Parenthood. Eh, Ben?

* defined by Ben

chefwen 3:32 PM  

Absolutely loved this one. Didn't know SHAZBOT or JEEZALOO, but the work arounds were fairly easy. AZO for some reason was somewhere in my memory bank, so I was saved from that trap.

Don't do a lot of on line shopping (other than Amazon) and had never heard of HSN, right after I finished the puzzle I started leafing through a magazine that I had been using as a lap desk and saw a blurb about Marlo Thomas debuting her fashion line on HSN. Eerie, when that happens.

Hume CRONYN and his wife Jessica Tandy were two of my favorite actors, they were a real class act.

Teedmn 3:33 PM  

@Tita, I'm going to chime in with disliking "orientated" when "oriented" seems to work just fine.

Mohair Sam 4:14 PM  

@Foxaroni - So I Googled after reading your post and discovered that Colonel Potter was a "MASH" character on TV. I'd read the book before seeing the movie (wonderful book, classic flick), and then watched a few of episodes of the TV show when it was new - what a letdown. Never watched it again. The ratings indicate I was nearly alone in that assessment. But Alda imitating Sutherland? C'mon.

btw - Watched the movie again just a few months ago, don't recall a Col. Potter character.

Slow Motion 4:35 PM  

To further the lay/laid/lain discussion, Dorothy Parker said, "If all the girls at the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised."

Chris 5:26 PM  

SHAZBOT? Never watched Mork & Mindy, never heard it before. (I tried SHABBOT without much hope that it could be right.) Crossing it with AZO? Bleh.

QuasiMojo 6:30 PM  

@Carola from 1:47pm-- good find! Yes, that must be the source of it. I studied deconstructionism in college and enjoyed the original texts we were required to read rather than the deadly analysis of them. Thank you for bringing that up! And all of you who kindly responded. I learned a lot today.

jae 7:10 PM  

@Mohair - In the TV series McLean Stevenson had the Henry Blake role. He was a hit and left the series early to pursue a movie career. His replacement was Jack Webb's old Dragnet sidekick Harry Morgan as Col. Potter. The series went on for 10 or 11more seasons, Stevenson's movie career never came to much. More than you probably wanted to know.

Anonymous 7:12 PM  

Planned Parenthood does a lot of good work. They are a serious women's health organization. Abortion is a small part of their work. A vast majority of their abortions are early in the term, which most Americans support. A significant minority of the abortions are "late term" or "partial-birth" abortions. Please don't support Planned Parenthood until they renounce late term abortion.

Charles Emerson Winchester III 7:12 PM  

HORSEHOCKEY is how the more demonstrative plebeians term what the rest of us call polo. Colonel Potter, in my recollection, too, said horse puckey.

Had a DNF on the AZO/SHAZBOT cross. Couldn't stand Robin Williams in Mork, nor in anything else he was in, so avoided it all.

Anonymous 7:12 PM  

azo/shazbot is a natick, IMO.

Tita 8:36 PM  

@Numi - I like AutoCorrupt - I'm going to steal - er - use that...

@Teed, Numi, QM - thanks for those new ones to get my goat.

Numinous 9:14 PM  

@Tita, one day, while writing "Auto Correct" the word "corrupt" occurred to me. That's when I dubbed it the AutoCorrupt process. That was easily three years ago and I have been using "auto corrupt" ever since. I believe that whenever someone reads that they read "auto correct" in mcuh the smae wye yuo can raed this. It's a strange phenomenon that our minds see what should be there or what we expect to be there. You are more than welcome to use the term any time you like. I expectt by now you've noticed that more often than not, it seems to be perverting what it is you're trying to say.

Freddy Murcks 11:20 PM  

I am pretty certain that Sherman Potter said "HORSE PUCKY." I've seen every single episode of M*A*S*H multiple times and I remember horse pucky, but I don't recall ever hearing horse hockey. Horses don't play hockey, but they do sh*t (a lot) and 'horse pucky' is a euphemism for horse sh*t.

Tom 11:58 PM  

Frank is known for holy crap! But he does say jeezaloo in the show.

andrea c(&* michaels 2:22 AM  

what an original fun interesting puzzle with great long downs!!!
As for colonel potter, he said both Pucky and Hockey:

Tracy taught me the *^#$( are called grawlixes!!! Learning that alone was worth the whole puzzle! I'll bet folks will remember this puzzle lonnnnnnnnnng after they remembering quibbling about AZO!

You F(*^%& go, girl!

AnonyMouse 2:51 PM  

This was a HARD Wednesday for a 26 year old.

spacecraft 10:31 AM  

Coupla things...Who would know the precise vowels in the iconic "SHAZBOT!"? The "ah" sound is repeated, so why not "SHAZBaT" or "SHoZBOT," etc.? It's not as if any of us ever saw the thing in PRINT. I guess that's a good point, construction-wise: you can spell it however it suits. The other one concerns HORSEHOCKEY. That's a serious outlier, theme-wise. The others are all "cussing," as when something has gone wrong. But this expression says "I don't believe a word of it." Or more succinctly. "Bulls**t." It's not something the good colonel would say in exasperation. Also, OILHEATERS is fine--but nearly impossible to clue; "room warmers" is a truly lame attempt. Warmers for heaters. I don't have any alternative suggestions--which may lead to its not being a very good entry after all. These things are bothersome, but it was still fun to do.

Easy-peasy for a Wednesday, and not much to fuss about in the fill--though I do agree about NBCTV being downright silly. FSTOPS is OK: it's a real term. Loved AUJUS, surely @M&A's favorite way to have prime rib. It is mine. DOD competition is keen today; the TORIs are tough, but the lovely Christina RICCI wins the sash.

Oh, one more thing (with apologies to Lt. Columbo): with all the complaints about the PPP glut, why are two perfectly good lower-case words clued as proper? BUTTE and VOLT didn't need to be on the list; why put them there? A fine grid with some snazzy entries, but doesn't offer enough resistance to warrant more than a par.

Burma Shave 10:33 AM  


RUMORHASIT you STRIP on SNAPCHAT where the FSTOPS for you.


Diana,LIW 11:59 AM  

Well butter my buns and call me a biscuit, as they say in Tuna, Texas. This conjured up all kinds of funny memories.

Wasn't sure about that final Z. You know the one. The one you never saw in print (right @Spacey). But it was right. Thank you puzzle. Bless your heart.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting, but never cussing

rondo 12:18 PM  

RUMORHASIT there’s some PHONY swearing going on. The first three were gimmes. The last two? Never saw a minute of either show, so crosses. And no hint of a write-over nor Natick. Back in the day when we still made blue blueprints, diAZO screened by ultraviolet light then exposed to ammonia fumes was how the blue color was made on those prints. Even after that really strong ammonia was weak enough not to combine with the diAZO it was still stronger than what you bought in stores; great cleanser if you could stand the fumes.

On my only venture into Mexico, Tijuana in 2007, I had plenty of 99 cent CORONAs and had my photo snapped several times with the CORONA GIRLs in their Hooters-like outfits. Such ANTICs! Still have my CORONA cap somewhere.

I’ve got the clues for the yeah baby TORIs and AMISS RICCI circled. I’m partial to the musician TORI.

Pretty good Wednesday, that’s where the comment ENDS.

leftcoastTAM 2:25 PM  

Never watch TV sit-coms or cartoon shows (M.A.S.H. was in a class by itself), so I left this one, or it left me, fairly early on.

Got most of the rest of it (no consolation there), but some necessary crosses of themers eluded me. Eg., wanted eASy instead of RASH because I thought it better fit the clue.


rain forest 5:29 PM  

Nice playful puzzle. As my Dad used to say, "Joozus Peroozus", whatever that meant. I once wondered what all the fuss was about re Raymond, so I watched it once. I'm still wondering. JEEZALOO, what an inane show.

I'd seen M.A.S.H (great show) and Mork and Mindy (funny) and knew the epithets, but the others I had to get from crosses. Also, I'da thought that AZO with reference to dyes has reached crosswordease status.

The week has been pretty good so far, as I see it.

Blogger 5:17 AM  

If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (even if they're dating somebody else now) you must watch this video
right away...

(VIDEO) Get your ex CRAWLING back to you...?

Blogger 10:15 PM  

Are you looking for free Google+ Circles?
Did you know you can get these AUTOMATICALLY AND ABSOLUTELY FREE by getting an account on Like 4 Like?

Blogger 1:52 AM  

Quantum Binary Signals

Professional trading signals sent to your cell phone every day.

Follow our signals NOW & make up to 270% per day.

Blogger 3:32 AM  

If you want your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (even if they're dating somebody else now) you gotta watch this video
right away...

(VIDEO) Get your ex CRAWLING back to you...?

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP