Dallas actress J Wilson / SUN 4-23-17 / parvis magna greatness from small beginnings / Sister of Helios Selene / Record label that looks like the name of radio station / Tough draws in bananagrams / Summer piazza treat / One-named singer with #1 hit cheap thrills / Beverage sponsor of old Little Orphan Annie radio show / Occurrences in 30s say

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Constructor: Olivia Mitra Framke

Relative difficulty: Easy

the phrase: QUEEN OF JAZZ

[With apologies for my image-editing skills, which are lacking]

THEME: "A Century of Song" — tribute to Ella Fitzgerald (LADY ELLA) on (a day that is close to) the 100th anniversary of her birth (68A: With 70-Across, nickname for a celebrated performer born on April 25, 1917):

Theme answers:
  • 21A: 1938 #1 hit for 68-/70-Across, which was inspired by a nursery rhyme ("A TISKET A TASKET")
  • 15D: Repeated collaborator with 68-/70-Across (LOUIS ARMSTRONG)
  • 47D: Signature tune of 68-/70-Across ("HOW HIGH THE MOON")
  • 119A: Notable quote by 68-/70-Across ("I SING LIKE I FEEL")  
Word of the Day: SHEREE J. Wilson (19A: "Dallas" actress ___ J. Wilson) —
Sheree Julienne Wilson (born on December 12, 1958[1]) is an American actress, producer, businesswoman, and model. She is best known for her roles as April Stevens Ewing on the American prime-time television series Dallas (1986-1991) and as Alex Cahill-Walker on the television series Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001). (wikipedia)
• • •

Tribute puzzles are almost always underwhelming. The typical move is to fill the grid w/ symmetrical trivia. That's basically what this puzzle does. A thoughtful move is to add some twist or gimmick or *something* that elevates the puzzle above mere symmetrical trivia. This puzzle does that too. I am on record (multiple times) as not particularly caring for the "once you've finished, draw on it!" type of gimmick. If the gimmick doesn't relate to the actual solving experience, then it's not much use to me. Interesting, curious, but not compelling the way a more integral theme concept is. So this one is trivia plus ... children's placemat art. The fill holds up OK but doesn't do much more than just sit there. This is all to say that this is a very very average tribute puzzle. It's serviceable, but it doesn't shine. And yet, two things. One, Ella is Ella, and always a joy to remember. One and a half, Ella is my daughter's name, so bonus points there. And two, that crown thing is actually kind of hard to pull off. It seems like it should be easy, what w/ just a smattering of letters here and there, but filling the grid around letter strings that change elevation is surprisingly hard. I have a puzzle in the works with theme answers that run exclusively on diagonals and Dear Lord it's gonna be the death of me. Essentially, you add a full answer's worth of letters (QUEEN OF JAZZ), but you don't actually lock down *any* answers, while compromising / restricting nearly all of them (at least in the upper-center of the grid). E.g. "Q" has to be a certain place—that's two answers compromised (Across and Down). Repeat that for every letter in QUEEN OF JAZZ. Trust me, it's a choke collar. So pulling it off without egregiously painful fill is a nice little feat.

Delete SHEREE from your wordlists. Please. I beg you. You're using it only as a crutch. Delete delete delete. Also, if an answer causes you pain to look at, causes you to make a face, causes you to have to ask whether it should be allowed to fly, for god's sake, no no no. I'm speaking of course of ENNUIS (23A: Listless feelings). What's the plural of ENNUI? Stop it—that's the plural of ENNUI. Those are my only real gripes today, fill-wise. Nothing much to call attention to outside the theme answers, though I like the MAMMA'S GORILLAS stack, if only because it's a good sitcom premise. There were almost no tough parts today, beyond SHEREE. I misremembered the song as "TOO HIGH THE MOON" (?). I had GRAY as GRIM (71A: Dreary), and NIÑO as NENE (56A: Piñata smasher, maybe). The Z-TILES / ZLOTY cross seemed a little cruel, considering that "Z" is not at all solidly inferrable in the Down, and ZLOTY ... well, you should know it's a currency, but I could see someone's guessing something else (VLOTY?). In the end, the QUEEN OF JAZZ thing gives you yet another way to get it, so no foul. Z-TILES just seems a cheap way to get a "Z."

ACETAL (96D: Perfumer's liquid) ... nope, not known to me. ACETYL? ACETATE? ACETONE? Those are all things, right? I just can't keep up. At least I knew enough to guess TAOIST and not MAOIST at 118A: Lao-tzu follower. When I see "name on a blimp" I think Goodyear and literally nothing else, so FUJI was a surprise (38D: Name on a blimp). My favorite moment of the puzzle (by far) (excluding humming "A TISKET A TASKET" to myself) was when I totally utterly and epically misread the clue at 97D: Summer piazza treat (GELATO). Me: "Summer pizza threat!? Uh ... Ants? How the hell should I know?"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:11 AM  

Easy-medium for me and pretty much what @Rex said. ELLA of course is fantastic.

pmdm 12:18 AM  

Reasonable write-up that deserves praise. And for a debut puzzle, the constructor deserves tons of praise. Her comments, posted on XWordInfo, make a worthwhile read.

I tend to convince myself that it is Condi Nast, so I was scratching my head for quite a while trying to figure out who Illa was.

With an enjoyable puzzle and a Rangers' win, a perfect Saturday.

Mel Torme 12:25 AM  

Rolled eyes also at ENNUIS. TEALS too, as clued. Multiple bluish shades? "This color is teal. So is this. But it's a different teal than that one. They're both teals though." Why not just go the duck route?

chefwen 12:53 AM  

When I saw the circles and then found out I get to draw on it, ALA Elizabeth Gorski. I was in heaven. I swear I heard @Nancy moan and groan all the way from NYC to the middle of the Pacific.

Had a little trouble following the direction of the crown, finally got it after a false start.

Also struggled with a couple of the songs that I was not familiar with, but the crosses were fair and I was able to put this to bed.

Great debut, Brava Ms. Framke, lets see some more.

Anonymous 1:01 AM  

NUI crossing NUIT? Ugh

Robin 1:42 AM  

Chalk me down as another who disliked ENNUIS and TEALS.

Didn't have to draw the crown, since the Times website drew it for me as soon as I filled all the letters in.

I'm giggling at the idea of an Hawaiian goose smashing a piñata. Perhaps because I'm a little tight.

Alan_S. 1:55 AM  

Much tougher for me. Finished but too many answers solely from crosses. Didn't know agnus dei, ariosi, et seq, acetal. Rough crosses with zloty/ztiles and satay/yew, "Sackful" doesn't feel right and I still can't figure how 99D = leaner. Anyone?

Anonymous 1:58 AM  

So that's a Hawaiian goose breaking a piñata¿

Moly Shu 2:01 AM  

I'll probably be in the minority, but I thought this was a terrible slog. By the time I finished I didn't care what the circled letters spelled or what the image was. I see I didn't miss anything. Give me rap or death metal or new wave, anything but jazz/scat whatever it's called. Get that crap out of my ears. Please. Trying to find something I liked, nope, can't do it.

Moly Shu 2:03 AM  

@Alan_S. Horseshoes I'm guessing.

chefwen 2:04 AM  

@Robin - That would be a funny sight. Do you think the Nene hold the stick in their little beaks? I'll have to keep a lookout for that.

Alan_S. 2:14 AM  

Just came back to say "scratch that, got it, ringtoss!, but horseshoes is it. Thanks

Mark 2:21 AM  

I agree with Moly, and this despite the fact that I don't mind tribute puzzles and that learning something about Ella, is more fun, than say, a tribute to Elvis. The puzzle just seemed to be all uninteresting fill and strained definitions. The Times could definitely have picked someone more Modern; George Michael, for example, was very popular, not too recent for the Times, and died recently.

Anonymous 2:29 AM  

...So Hawaiian goose smashes a piñata?

Robin 3:57 AM  

@Mark, I have to partially disagree. The "uninteresting fill and strained definitions" complaint, okay, I can see that. But jeez, a centennial/centenary. That's just a hell of date. You either take note of it, or blow it off entirely. And as much as I appreciate George Michael, well Ella is.. Ella.

Anonymous 4:01 AM  

My ever persistent problem with American puzzles is the lack of tilde. If you can't use it, then clue it as something else, period.

Dakota 4:09 AM  

Why is everything so old? OMG! Its so hard!

John Child 4:10 AM  

Trivia puzzles are far from my favorite, but this went down quite quickly so I didn't need my grumpy pants after all. And the circled "revealer" with grid art was a nice bonus.

Impressive debut. Thanks Ms Framke!

'mericans in Paris 4:56 AM  

Given that there were no Hawaiian clues or answers in this puzzle, put me down as loving the image of a nene crashing into a piñata. BTW, anybody else notice the menagerie in the northwest? We have GORILLA, LEOS, and CHAR, and not far away APE. (Here's lookin' at YEW, kid!) Perhaps could have added @Rex's ants.

Once we figured out the theme, the puzzle fell fairly quickly for us. As several have already posted, most of the answers could by obtained from the crosses. Having MOTETS alongside ARIOSI was tough, though. Almost Naticked at the crossing of CEE LO (unknown to us) and ORSER, but Mrs. 'mericans reckoned the skater's name began with an "O", so we got it right. Also guessed the "C" in ACETAL.

Can't say we were BEGUILEd by the puzzle (as a puzzle), but we admired the effort, especially the masterly stroke of arranging the hidden phrase in the shape of a crown. Impressive! Like @Rex, we appreciate giving LADY ELLA her due.

Mrs. 'mericans is getting ready to vote in a French election for the first time. Everybody is nervous as hell that the choice in the second round won't be between a far right and a far left candidate. If it's the centrist Macron who comes out on top, however, we'll thank our lucky STARS and pop open a CABERNET. Maybe even have some GELATO for dessert.

Loren Muse Smith 5:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 5:18 AM  

I have my stinky little system for solving, and on Sat and Sun nights, it involves printing out the puzzle but not doing it until the proper day. Anyway, I saw the first part of the note as I put it on my desk. And I dreamed that when you connected the circles it spelled MOM right-side up and WOW upside down.

As themes go, I prefer wordplay, letter manipulation, wacky parsing, puns… but a picture puzzle is fine once in a while. I am so impressed and childishly jealous that this is a debut. Kudos to you, Olivia!

Rex – sure we’re very different in our reactions to puzzles, but I’m not one of the ones who has sworn off reading your write-ups. There are too many wickedly funny gems I would miss. Your sitcom idea of MAMMA’S GORILLAS is a hoot. What a fine idea for! LAGOON ENNUIS, The HOT DOG GOSPELS, APE LADY, UPSET STARS…

I’m just going to put it out there that I always think it’s “Karma” SUTRA. I say fermiliar, too, instead of familiar. Hmm. I think I’ve just found the missing R’s from my libary, suprise,and thow it away.

Just like we’ve all asked a woman when she was due when she was in fact not pregnant, I bet a bunch of us have managed to MISSEND and “reply all.” Surely someone out there is working on a tool for Gmail that lets you hit “send” but then keeps it in limbo for a time so that you can reach out and grab it back before the snarky comment about the co-worker needing a SCALE reaches everyone including said co-worker. At the very least, we should get an ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO REPLY ALL? message. Same with voice-mail. I left a message once for my son’s coach that he would “miss practice tomorrow.” But we had just gotten a Newfoundland puppy and for reasons I can’t explain, my daughter and I had started pretending this dog talked with funny R’s, and we talked that way non-stop. So when I said “tomorrow” on the vm, I pronounced it “tuh MAUW wohw” without thinking. I sat there willing that word to come back to me. To explain something so ridiculous – where do you even start? (Earlier that year, same coach and son said they had seen me at a stop light, and that I must have had the radio on because I was really carrying on, eyes closed, bopping my head, hitting the dashboard. Ok – I’m sure it was Honky Tonk Woman, but I looked at them, deadpan, mystified, and said my car radio hadn't worked for months.)

I liked HOT DOG crossing TOFU. Hah. For my hot dogs, the cheaper and nastier the better. I love the really red ones with God knows how many chemicals and suprising pig parts.

My first piñata breaker was “Nana.” When my son was about 4, we had an Easter party at Aunt Charlotte’s house, and she had bought a piñata. Lots of excited kids there. Lots of goes at the bat; that sucker was one tough piñata. Logan finally broke it open, and everyone got quiet. Cricket sounds. Charlotte didn’t know you had to add your own candy.

I appreciate the work that went into pulling this off. But I had a dnf because of the ERRATUM/JAIME/AGNUS DEI. Heck. I should’ve seen AGNUS DEI but I thew in the towel ‘cause I have a ton of grading to do.

Loren Muse Smith 5:31 AM  

@ED – meant to tell you – I responded on that thread.

Charles in Austin 5:31 AM  

An untold story the authorities don't want you to know:

When astronauts first visited the moon they came across a group of moon cats playing HOW LOW THE EARTH.

Charles Flaster 5:54 AM  

Easy but a careless DNF ( I never Google) as I never changed mAOIST to TAOIST.
Thought the picture was quite ingenious.
TUN and NUI are my CROSSWORDease.
One writeover--HOT DOG for HOnest; thank god for the crossing YENTA.
Creative cluing: O'TOOLE and SLEETS.
Thanks for a fine debut OMF.

Lewis 6:32 AM  

Congratulations on the debut, Olivia, a Sunday no less! Enjoy this day...

I was misdirected -- and I love when that happens -- twice. Once with CHINA, where I was stuck on the "location" meaning of "setting", and again with FRANK, when I was thinking along "honest" lines (like @charles above). And, by the way, to echo the theme, there is a Boggle-style SCAT starting with the S in SCALE.

A quote I like from Ella: "It isn't where you came from, it's where you're going that counts."

Glimmerglass 7:40 AM  

Excellent, well-balanced review today.

Kristin McCracken 7:56 AM  

Gmail does indeed have that limbo thing! I use it all the time. Look at your general settings. You can determine how long (30'seconds?) you want.

'mericans in Paris 8:13 AM  

Wish there were an edit function. Meant to write: "Everybody is nervous as hell, hoping that the choice in the second round won't be between a far right and a far left candidate."

Meant to add also that I learned something new from the puzzle. Hadn't realized that NEOLITH was a real word. Yet, according to Merriam-Webster, it does indeed mean "a Neolithic stone implement". (Curses, FOILED again!)

mmorgan 8:34 AM  

I love Ella. CEEL_/_RSER was a Natick for me -- and I guessed wrong. Also took me a while to get the R in LEANER. I first thought the drawing was going to be a basket. I love Ella.

CFXK 8:42 AM  

For those who have any reservations about Ella deserving a Sunday tribute, here's why: https://youtu.be/djZCe7ou3kY

I guess the auto-tune and electronic re0engineering wasn't working that day, she had to go it alone.

Unknown 9:08 AM  

Thought I had BHOLE setting up as the answer to "Ring (85A" and that would have totally redeemed this puzzle but alas

kitshef 9:09 AM  

For the most part, a typical Sunday. On the dull side, fairly easy, lots of junk (ELHI, ETSEQ and SIC, ENNUIS, JAWAT, TNUT and ZTILES, RESNAP, JAIME (I have complained before that Game of Thrones trivia is NEVER EVER crossworthy).

Then things got curiously interesting in the S and SE. Good misdirect about the 30s (though absence of an apostrophe should have clued me in), not knowing the quote, clever clue for LEANER, arcS before ELLS, KTEL … that little section was like a standalone, harder, more interesting puzzle.

I did like having both APE and GORILLA, but overall, an UGLI puzzle I had trouble INJESTing.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

I had to cheat ("reveal word") on ACETAL, ZINC, and MACS/SIC. Had no idea pennies now contain zinc and thought that a BUB was a MACK, not a MAC. (Can't spell for beans.)

And I'm with Alan_S: Could someone please explain how 99D Near ringer = LEANER. Huh?

Rob 9:18 AM  

ACETAL was baffling. Everything else was basically okay from crosses, though I don't understand LEANER either. Fine puzzle, bit light on theme content.

CFXK 9:23 AM  

In horseshoes, you can get a ringer, or short of a ringer, hit the post but it only leans against the post. It's called a LEANER.

ArtO 9:32 AM  

Weelllllll @Moly Shu, your taste in music certainly differs from that of we who are of a different generation. To dis Ella and Jazz in favor of the stuff you like just goes to show that the French had it right with "chacun a son gout." (and that is putting it mildly)

Very happy to see the tribute to Ella who continues to give so much listening joy to so many. A very fine first Times puzzle effort.

Nancy 9:33 AM  

I didn't draw a line, tra la,
I didn't draw a line,
I think the puzzle's fine, tra la,
Just fine without a line, tra la,
And so I must decline, tra la,
Decline to draw a line.

I won't connect the dots, tra la
I won't connect the dots,
When I'm connecting dots, tra la,
It ties me up in knots, tra la
Just finding all those spots, tra la,
Just finding all those spots.

Don't want to spell a phrase, tra la,
Don't want to spell a phrase,
To find that hidden phrase, tra la,
Could take me days and days, tra la
And fill me with malaise, tra la,
And fill me with malaise.

'mericans in Paris 9:43 AM  

@Nancy: Would you be willing to share with us whatever you recently consumed? I'll gladly pay the postage.

QuasiMojo 9:56 AM  

Nice write-up, Rex. I must admit I didn't see the illustrated aspect of this puzzle until I came here but when I went back to my online puzzle page to check a word, the crown jumped out at me, like some extra in Tron. Pretty clever even if I agree with Rex that I am not a fan of the tendency to employ these gimmicks. But credit where credit is due, especially to a first-time constructor here.

I wanted "attars" before "acetal" -- and was thrown by "sallys" -- as for the Z in zloty I guessed that because of the frequency of the letter Z in Polish.

@LMS, the first time I tasted a tofu hotdog I literally spat it out, involuntarily. Sorry for that image, but I had never tasted anything quite so unappetizing. It tasted like foie gras that had been left out in the Sahara for a week.

In French, "ennuis" is quite common. Or "commun" I suppose. "Soyez bon pour lui, comme vous l'êtes toujours, et protégez-le contre les petits ennuis dont je vous ai parlé." -- George Sand.

I'm a lifelong fan of Ella Fitzgerald. I saw her live in Charleston at the Spoleto Festival in 1978. Even at that ripe old age and singing at midnight, she brought the house down. And whenever I'm feeling nostalgic I will play her superb album of Cole Porter standards.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

I got maybe five minutes into this puzzle before I had to stop and go listen to How High The Moon live in Berlin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR1__k-BxhY

chefbea 10:19 AM  

Great puzzle which I almost finished...My favorite Beet is there and puzzle husband's favorite is hot dog!!!!

Rita Flynn 10:30 AM  

Can we also drop ELHI from word lists? I have never, ever heard this used in any sentence.

GILL I. 10:42 AM  

Oh, this one shines for me....
I'm not a big JAZZ fan, especially Dixieland, but I do love me some ELLA. I wish OMF could have found some room for my favorite "But Not For Me" and maybe a "Misty" here and an "Easy Living" there. My other favorite LADY DAY is Billie Holiday. Can we do a tribute for her?
I didn't get any note to draw anything but it was easy to figure out QUEEN OF JAZZ. My crown doesn't quite look the same as OFL's because I didn't connect all the dots - nevertheless, it don't matter to me Sheree.
AMALFI atop LAGOON BEGUILES and the ENNUIS only set in after my BFF and I finish a CABERNET. That whole NE section set me in a good mood.
I liked NUIT/NUI/DUI. I liked all of the puzzle. I liked that this is Olivia's debut and that it made me hum.
A TISKET A TASKET: I dropt it, I dropt it and by the way I lost it.

Alan_S. 11:00 AM  

Please Rex!, you can't include a poptrash video clip like that Sia garbage right after one of the divine Ella. It's just not right!

Hartley70 11:05 AM  

I completed this in half my usual Sunday time and I enjoyed every bit of it. I am, however, cheesed at my defective version of the NYT app. Unlike @Robin and others, no crown sprung into view when I finished and I had to squint my eyes to see the teensy circles and figure out the message. Unlike @Nancy, I'm too curious to let it go.
I love to draw a line tra la
I never can decline tra la
I often do opine tra la
What fun to draw a line!
It was the theme that really gave me a kick. Ella! She's not for just the oldsters. My daughter "discovered" her in her teens and what a relief after The Backstreet Boys. No offense to the boys, but I share a bedroom wall with whatever music Is playing in that room. Does anyone complain that Bach is old? Nope, neither is Ella.

Paul Rippey 11:07 AM  

Great puzzle.

Guessed the naticky crossing of CEELO and ORSER, neither of which my wife and I had ever heard of. But that's not what sunk ua. We had MoMMAS (Italian relatives) and oRIOSI (melodic passages). So I had to look at Rex's solve to get that.

MAMMA was bugging me so I looked it up. Yes, it's Italian for "Mama" (although by the way the double M in the familiar term for ones female parent only exists after M in English, apparently: http://tinyurl.com/MamaMomma).

Z 11:10 AM  

Tribute puzzles are above quote puzzles. I like Grid Art. So solid if somewhat unremarkable puzzle.

Hartley70 11:15 AM  

@Loren, "Just like we’ve all asked a woman when she was due when she was in fact not pregnant"....dear Lord, say it isn't true! I would rather go back under that umbrella with a nest of bats than be standing there in the grocery store having asked that unfortunate question of another woman. Oh, the horror!

Alan_S. 11:21 AM  

Moly Shu already has. See above.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Whatever happened to the Fashion Nazi's "outing?"

Maruchka 11:35 AM  

Fun cluing, nicely done, Ms. Framke. Looking forward to more.

Ah, Ella. She had THE magic voice. I mean, she could do anything with it, and in perfect pitch.

One of my two Ella stories:

Our high school a cappella director relates this tale to his rapt neophytes -
At a concert with full orchestra and Ella during a too hot summer, the instruments would not tune. Conductor says, "Ella, please give us the notes." And she did. And then all tuned just fine.

Happy 100th, Ms. Fitzgerald! Hi to Louis, too.

Teedmn 11:38 AM  

Two laughs today with @LMS's piñata story and @Nancy's poem with @'Mericans' reaction. Good stuff. And yesterday, @Gill I's armpit hair-growth watching activity.

NUI and DUI, a couple of Donald Duck's nephews? DADS and MAMMAS both made the puzzle. I worked with an Italian woman for a while. Once, when frustrated by something, she exclaimed, "MAMMA mia" and I started laughing. I had to explain about spicy meatballs.

I was expecting a tern or an erne (a terne?) rather than a SCALE as a fixture on a fishing pier. I liked SLEETS occurring in the 30s. I got a jam Up in the SINUS. And I see I didn't have to take a walk outside to get some air, I just had to INHALES right where I was.

I was stymied by Game of Thrones' JAIME for a while because I was thinking of the next generation's Joffrey, but he was so 3 SEASONS ago.

Congrats, Ms. Framke, on your NYTimes debut!

Stanley Hunter 11:48 AM  

Fine puzzle honoring a national treasure.

Joseph Michael 12:01 PM  

I experienced several ENNUIS while solving this puzzle.

Mohair Sam 12:11 PM  

Very nice debut Olivia Mitra Framke. A Sunday no less - bring us more.

Cannot say more about this because once I saw to whom we were tipping the cap I put on our "Ella in Berlin" album and my mood was decidedly up and my remarks would be positively biased.

LADY ELLA and her assistant once met my with my older sister for what was supposed to be a brief overview of a planned performance at the college where Margaret worked, not that far from Manhattan. Both ELLA and my sister knew how to JAW and one thing led to another and things ran very late. When the assistant got ELLA out of there, protesting that ELLA had a show that night, the limo provided by the college wouldn't start and they were forced into the my sister's car - A 14 year old Dodge I had gifted to her when the Air Force shipped me overseas a few months before. The thing had over 100K on it, duct tape covered the rust, and stuffing squeezed visibly out of the seats. Ms. Fitzgerald laughed that she had traveled in worse, although not much worse. When safely in Manhattan she treated my sister to dinner, a place backstage, and a great seat for that night's performance. Oh, the people Margaret met and the stories she heard. My family will always love LADY ELLA.

@Loren - Great idea on the "Reply All" warning. Twenty or so years ago I remember Don Imus saying that everything you type into an email you should do with the assumption that everyone on earth will read it, because they just might. Hello Mr. Podesta.

Old Hunter 12:12 PM  

@Steve Reed:

Because the plural of teal when referring to ducks is still teal. A hunter would say, "I shot a pair of mallards" but he would never say, "I shot a pair of teals." Unless of course, he was looking forward to getting laughed out of the local post-hunt coffee shop.

@'mericans in Paris:

I though of you guys yesterday, when I read
this article.I found it a fascinating read. Thought you might be interested?

@Quasimojo: "It tasted like foie gras that had been left out in the Sahara for a week." LMAO! Awesome analogy!

Mohair Sam 12:13 PM  

@Nancy - That was awesome!

Masked and Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Congratz to Olivia darlin, on her primo debut. This SunPuz has somethin for everybody:
* The Circles.
* Grid art.
* Almost every letter (sorry, X-lovers).
* 35 T's (for the TNUTs in the crowd).
* 15 U's (almost twice the usual SunPuz count).
* 20 weejects. staff pick:FFF.
* OVALTINE. Not to mention its NEOLITHS, SEALPUP, and GORILLA flavors. TVCAMERA was also neat.
* Subtly satisfyin beads of desperation. faves: MISSEND. ACETAL. AMALFI/MANGA. RESNAP.
* Har-larious clues. fave: {Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette ___"} = RIEN. May-urd! We've moved on to French 102 class, now. Btw, be sure to all vote for that Arch de Trump prez candidate, U French folks. Misery luvs company. But, I digress. Also admired the {State representatives?} = STARS clue. {Good name for an Irish carpenter?} = OTOOLE was kinda interestin; better than my initial ONAILY and NAELEM guesses.

Thanx, Ms. Framke. Fun, slightly feisty Sunday solvequest.

Masked & Anonymo15Us


Old Hunter 12:31 PM  

@'mericans in Paris:

Sorry there was a glitch in my first link. Hopefully this one will work.

Unknown 12:49 PM  

Ella Fitzgerald was never known as "Lady". That was Billie Holliday and no one else.

old timer 1:07 PM  

Technical DNF here because I had to look up CEE LO. And actual DNF because I did not know SIC in that Latin phrase, and find MACS just wrong, somehow. Not a lot of joy in this solve. I too did not draw the line, but I must say it is cleverly done. I got ACETAL, and could not resist looking it up after writing in the last letter. I guess it's a real thing, but not one I've seen in print before.

Je souhaite que le jour d'election soit satisfactoire, Mme. 'mericans.

No reason to retire ELHI, IMHO. ELHI is in standard use in the ed biz.

Trombone Tom 1:24 PM  

I'm with @Steve Alcott, "Lady" Day was the one and only Lady of jazz.

That said, ELLA is timeless. Whether or not you like "jazz" (whatever that means to you) Ella was one helluva singer. She had a wonderful voice and was an outstanding performer. And remember, that was before the advent of autotune.

Many kudos to Olivia Mitra Franke for this amazing first effort. Oh, sure, there were a couple of clunkers, but even the masters suffer those at times. And to do all this and add a crown on top of it . . . WOW!

I was going to object to ENNUIS but see that the French pluralize it. so who am I to complain.

Worked my way through the puzzle and did ok until I dropped in bAgfuls without checking the crosses. Took me a while to get back to Santa's SACKFUL.

The clue for SLEETS was a great misdirect. I'll bet I wasn't the only one looking around for events from the 1930's.

I look forward to hearing more from Ms. Framke.

Crane Poole 1:44 PM  

I motored down the west side and uncovered HOW HIGH THE MOON. Saw two highlighted 4-letter answers and without looking at clues, assumed Paul and Ford. Nope. Ella's would-be-100th is days away so let's celebrate. Never did hear or see the title LADY ELLA but let it be. Fairly easy here but some nits needed picking before the duck would come down. Absolutely hated the ZTILES/ZLOTY though I guessed correctly. ACETAL fell with the crosses eventually. Last to fill: SIC/MACS.

QuasiMojo 1:45 PM  

@Old Hunter, many thanks!

@Nancy, your poem gave me beaucoup de plaisir.

@Mohair Sam -- wonderful anecdote about your sister.

pcardout 1:47 PM  

Thanks CFXK. LEANER was the only answer that bothered me. You can be a "dead ringer" if you look like someone else, but if you only sort of look like them you are Leaner? It made no sense. Thanks for the horseshoes connection!

pcardout 1:50 PM  

I think Acetal is a stretch. I suspect someone of Googling to fit a clue. Acetal is a base chemical in the polymer industry. Perfume is not its primary function.

Tim Aurthur 1:59 PM  

The French pluralize ENNUI when it means "trouble" or "difficulty," as in "ennuis d'argent" or today maybe "ennuis electoraux."

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

With Rex totally as to drawing on the finished puzzle. A puzzle is a challenge. Drawing a line from one circled letter to the other is childish busywork.

MetroGnome 2:29 PM  

"LADY ELLA"? Well, okay . . . but how about "FIRST LADY OF SONG"? That's how she is most commonly feted.

MetroGnome 2:37 PM  

p.s. Great story, Mohair Sam! I had the pleasure of spending time with B.B. King on several occasions, and he was exactly the same way --a class act of the old school..

RooMonster 2:48 PM  

Hey All !
Lost my first post. Pissed off

Liked puz. Couple of hard spots. Some misdirect cluing.


Hungry Mother 3:02 PM  

I needed the red letters on the cross of ZTILES and ZLOTY. I still don't like trivia contests in a crossword, especially on a Sunday. Give me a rebus.

bronxboy 3:23 PM  

Newbie here. Could someone explain the FFF answer for me.. thanks. Also I figured out what a Natick is but how was it derived? Thanks

MetroGnome 3:25 PM  

With all respect, Hungry, I can't consider an artist as monumental, significant, and of lasting importance as Ella Fitzgerald to be anything approaching "trivia" -- or Louis Armstrong either, for that matter. They are worthy of inclusion in the canon that should be known and understood by anyone who considers him/herself a culturally literate citizen.

Malsdemare 3:57 PM  

Puzzle was fun but the comments today are je ne sais quio! Merci, mes amis. Nancy's poetry, LMS' and Mohair's stories, and ELLA! Nice reminder to get an album or two of hers, perhaps with some Satchmo collaboration.

Frieda 3:59 PM  

@bronxboy FFF on a music page is short for writing "forte" ("loud" or "loudly") 3 times, that is, telling a musician to play or sing very loudly.

About "Natick" details and date, I defer to others; my memory was "Natick" was the answer to one hard-to-get proper name clue, crossed by another, from a particular puzzle. For me, "Naticks" are often related to the pop culture/product names/proper noun (PPP) rate that can make puzzles difficult and/or irritating.

Frieda 4:06 PM  

Ps. I meant to add @bronxboy, welcome! And to cite @Z? For PPP insight. Been a Rex and comments follower for quite a few years, really enjoy it anew with the paper NYT again each morning.

Larry Gilstrap 4:12 PM  

I suspect that some of the tedium of a Sunday solve is the result of peering at the minute grid and trying to cram all those answers into tiny squares without obliterating numbers and, today, circles. Yikes! And I'm told my corrected vision is still pretty good. Add to that, no explainer appeared in my printout. I don't know how they could have shoe horned it onto that 8 1/2 x 11 sheet anyway. Not a fan of "grid art," but I admire the construction skills exhibited.

One revelation of Facebook is learning that many of your friends and family have some pretty weird passions. But, what is up with this TIKI nonsense? Don't get me wrong, I love Hawaii and respect those who enjoy a fruity rum laced cocktail, but when did this become a cult-like obsession? Even my flesh and blood adult nephew completely high jacked a conversation with his jibberish about a little statue. I'd prefer he was babbling about anything else, Amway, name it!

Speaking of mumbo jumbo, astrology can be fun. Near mid-life, I suddenly found myself single after twenty years of marriage. I then began a phase of serial monogamy featuring, I'm not making this up, consecutive relationships with four brunette diminutive LEOS. The cycle ended in marriage.

'mericans in Paris 4:22 PM  

@Old Hunter. Good article -- thanks! We're breathing a big sigh of relief (thanks @old timer!).

chefbea 4:25 PM  

@Bronxboy...welcome. I give you a bunch of BEETS!!!

Confirmed Bachelor 4:53 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap:

You really are a glutton for punishment, aren't you! Actually, probably closer to a masochist? Sorry your starter wife didn't work out, but four petite Leos in a row and you married the last one? How often does she let you off the leash? Are you allowed in the house?

My childhood sweetheart was a petite brunette Leo. Went with her from 1964 to 1969. She had me totally p---y-whipped. I finally realized what was in store for me if I married her and broke it off. I owe her more than I can ever repay, and she will always have a very special place in my heart. You never forget your first. Almost 50 years and countless lovers later, I'm still single and loving life. I owe it all to her.

Mohair Sam 5:04 PM  

@Bronxboy - Welcome. Click on Rex's FAQ (at the top of his page). He has a Vocabulary section at the bottom of that which explains Natick. The FAQ section is a nifty primer in lots of ways, worth a few minutes of your time.

MetroGnome - BB King. A Syracuse columnist wrote a piece years ago about the man that backs up what you say. He was not a fan of King at all but was assigned to cover a concert BB did in 'Cuse. He said he had never seen an entertainer give his fans so much time nor treat them with so much respect. I wish I could locate the article for you.

Larry Gilstrap 5:06 PM  

Behind every great man, there's a woman leading the way.

Confirmed Bachelor 5:51 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap:

LOL. You're a smart guy Larry, and I always enjoy your posts. Having said that, I'm sure you realize that much of my comment was "tongue in cheek." At any rate, I chose the path less traveled, since I always preferred to blaze my own trail. Marriage is fine for some people, but I realized it was not for me. Alison Krauss & Union Station wrote and performed my adopted anthem. I've made arrangements to have it played at my wake, and even if you're not into C&W music, I think you'll appreciate it?

Have a nice evening.


Nancy 5:59 PM  

@'mericans; @Mohair; @Quasi; @Teedmn and @Malsdemare -- many thanks to all of you!

Confirmed Bachelor 6:01 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap:

The second link that says "here" was an error. Sorry about that.

Anonymous 6:21 PM  

I saw Ella near the end. Still great.

old timer 7:11 PM  

@'mericans il me plait beaucoup d'apprendre que M. Macron va (surement) etre votre President.

As for marriage, I was sad at the time when my longtime girlfriend dumped me. Turned out for the best, though, because that prompted a month-long solo trip to England, after which I met my future (and current) wife in San Francisco. We now are both parents of three and grandparents of three (so far).

Larry Gilstrap 7:13 PM  

@Bachelor - Not my line or my sentiment, but:"Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to be an inmate?"

calvin93 7:42 PM  

With all due respect to the genius of Ella and Louie, this puzzle was a miserable failure in terms of fill. The post-puzzle crayon reveal was not worth FIVE clues in French, TWO of which crossed Latin words, and knowledge of Turkish, Greek, Polish, and Italian words (and starting the puzzle with the ethnically tone-deaf MAMMAS as actual Italian relatives). I agreed with Rex that placing the letters to make the QUEEN OF JAZZ crown is an impossible feat. But isn't Rex our guardian against garbage fill? Or, in Rex-speak, FFF TUN EOS ISH ELHI AGHA NUI crossing NUIT, ET SEQ.

Mohair Sam 7:43 PM  

@Confirmed Bachelor - Gotta respect the Alison link.

Z 7:53 PM  

Anyone looking for a high quality 60 word themeless? Here you go.

@Mohair Sam - I recall my superintendent telling a roomful of school administrators in 1996, "assume every email you write will end up on the front page of the Press and Guide" (our hometown weekly paper). I'm always gobsmacked that professional politicians forget this.

Paul 7:54 PM  

Never heard of a SPITZ, plus, when I had SEALcub instead of PUP. So I was in the doghouse, twice.

Confirmed Bachelor 8:05 PM  

@old timer : Excellent! Fate was on your side. I miss San Francisco, and especially the Irish coffees at the Buena Vista cafe.

@Larry G: LOL! I've heard that one but it still evokes a chuckle. My favorite has always been, "Why spend my life making one woman miserable, when I can spend it making so many women happy?" That philosophy has always worked for me.

Three and out!

Anonymous 8:35 PM  

Emails are subject to circumspection but not posts on a blog?
Whatever you say.


Effing off

Anonymous 10:27 PM  

Can't believe I'm the only person to struggle with ETCEQ. Never heard of it!

Alex 11:57 PM  

Her first puzzle published in the NYT! I am excited for her.
I came to grief in the SW due to my personal ignorance.
A nice puzzle.

calvin93 12:59 AM  

ET SEQ is a Latin phrase meaning "and the rest." Used in legal papers when citing the first section of a statute and intending the reader to understand you're referring to the entire statute. I'd imagine lots of solvers struggled with that one.

PatKS 5:51 AM  

How are bubs macs?

Maruchka 10:01 AM  

@MohairSam - GREAT Ella story!

OK, here's another: My dear (now departed) friend John is living in LA early 90s, when he finds out that his heart isn't well. He gets a good cardiologist and endures a series of appointments.

Now, John has an amazing baritone voice and uses it often and to effect. He's sitting in the doc's curved waiting room, humming a tune. He can't quite nail a note, but keeps trying. From the other side of the curve, an unforgettable voice calls out, "I think you're looking for the B flat." John, amazed, walks over and sees - ELLA. He asks, "Is it you?" She laughs, and replies "Just another heart patient". Then they have a nice chat.

A lady indeed.

Joe Bleaux 12:52 PM  

C'mon, pal 😏

Olivia 2:57 PM  

Wow!!! Just found this blog, and so glad I did. Thank you to everyone who enjoyed my Ella debut puzzle! Just finished reading through all 99 comments. I agree with basically everyone, and believe me I knew exactly which entries would get criticism ;) Anyway, I thought I'd give some fun facts about the clues!

Overall, as a newbie, you may not be surprised to hear that my original clues were too easy. Some were slightly changed, some completely changed. A few were even changed such that I would not have known the answers myself :P for example - FUJI, MACS, SIC. Originally, my clues were, respectively, [Japanese summit], [Apples in some classrooms] and [Bracketed word in a verbatim quote].

Also, here are some of my favorite original clues that didn't make the cut:
DADS [Tellers of some cringeworthy jokes]
CONTINUE [Question after a 'Game Over' screen]
EDITOR [Will Shortz, e.g.]


Olivia 3:20 PM  

Oh! and some notes on the construction part, for those interested -

This started as an asymmetrical grid featuring a music note (funny that that concept made it into the Times last Weds!!) to a first attempt at a crown design (in which the crown was bigger and used alphabetical connectors, with QUEEN OF JAZZ as a central entry) to what you see now.

Perhaps the most time consuming part of construction was figuring out where to place the letters in the circles... since technically I could put the Q in any of the 11 circles and just start from there. So, I had to figure out the best of the 11 iterations (actually make that 22 because the phrase could have gone counter clockwise) to make the fill as easy/clean as possible... and with a Q, J, and two Zs, it was certainly a puzzle ;) And then, since my four long theme clues were all the same length, I had the freedom to determine where best to fit those... which was a blessing and a curse, as all of THOSE iterations then impacted which of the 22ish iterations of the circled letters would be best. Whew!

Luckily, my hard work paid off. I gotta say, this is what I'm really loving about crossword construction. It's a puzzle in itself ;D

unclejohn 12:28 PM  

Don't know if this will be read but anyway....
I am always late with my sparse comments because Sunday is the only puzzle I do all week and I like to drag it out. (cop out?)
I enjoyed this puzzle and really appreciate your reflections, Olivia. I do like to "connect the dots" and those that do not miss the work you put in to make it so. I also read all the comments when I visit this site and don't always agree with Rex's assessments but do support the site.
P.S. Ella is one of my favorites.

spacecraft 10:38 AM  

Well, two DNFs in a row. I get who we're tributing, ELLA, but never heard the "nickname" "LADY ELLA." And was about 1/4 done and had already seen three naticks! I'm supposed to know an actress whose ONLY claim to "fame" was her Dallas role? And cluing CHAR as a fish??? This looks like an Observer puzzle, full of obscure people and biological terms and European rivers and...Please! Now this particular Natick I did manage, H being the most reasonable guess.

But then: Anastasia's love interest crossed with the last word (place name, I'm sure) of a French song? Puh-lEEZE. And: Illustrator software maker?? *pure tech: eyes glaze over* with some one-named singer? I had two of the three letters and had no clue!

Perhaps I might have tried to hold on, but at this point there had already been a piece of RE-diculousness (RESNAP) and the silly WTFFF-fest--and OFL says that "the fill holds up OK"?????? You and I have VERY different definitions of what "holds up OK" means. sir.

Yeah, I drew the crown. Big whoop. I loved ELLA, and she deserved WAY better than this. Let us hope that the new week brings a return to sanity.

Burma Shave 10:57 AM  


as a CONSUMER of the LADY’s SUTRA kamas,
but those TENETS are SALLY’s not MAMMA’S.


brought to you by OVALTINE

rondo 11:33 AM  

36 minutes and nary a write-over. Even knew the Latin and French words, for once. So I guess I have no regrets. Edith Piaf was heard from time to time over the years on a previous MPR Morning Show. ELLA much more so, for good reason.

Knew OFL would disdain ENNUIS. Funny he didn’t say something about that eFF-Fest.

Watched Dallas regularly back then. Seems like two of the STARS, yeah babies SHEREE and Charlene were the only actors/actresses my age or younger, and not by much.

Time is money today and this is costing me OT pay. Gotta SEETO some work.

Eric Selje 12:54 PM  

If you don't know CeeLo, you must avoid the radio like Crazy. (Forget) You!

Honestly I didn't get HotDog at first, and had Akita rather than Spitz until Seal Cub changed to pup, but I doggedly pursued until it heeled. My sledful reduced to a sackful and my OWI was changed to a DUI before my DNF due to ariosi.

I.e. I liked it.

rondo 1:59 PM  

@Eric Selje - That's good stuff! Don't be a stranger.

Diana,LIW 2:31 PM  

Missed CEELO and SHEREE by a total of three letters. So I'm in the same miserable dnf-land with @Spacey.

As I said yesterday, there should be another name, other than dnf, for a 99% clean solve!!! I knew (or guessed) all the other crab that Naticked its way around this puzzle. Who gives a blip about an actress from Dallas and a "reality" voice coach crossed with a skater? Even if I've heard of these folks, they wouldn't come to mind. I looked up Wilson's films, and haven't seen one of them.

Sure - give us the occasional not-so-well-known name with fair crosses, but all that work for what?

AND...I enjoyed the rest (read "real part") of the puzzle. Love Ella and Louis. But I also felt like the constructor just threw in a couple of other names to allow the "Century of Song" title. No. Just no.

One final thing - the crown actually did help me get the Z in the Polish currency. Never heard of Banannagrams either.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Fairness in Puzzledom

AnonymousPVX 4:12 PM  

I got the solve, but...
I'm calling a NATICK on 77D and A. Rex said you could get the Z by drawing the figure…and what if there ARE no circles, as happens often?

So once again I raise my objection to the Gimmick puzzle, in all its sad forms. Never mind having to do the drawing at the end, how about some decent clueing instead that doesn't rely on drawings?

leftcoastTAM 5:35 PM  

Interesting to see that Rex calls this "Easy", yet seems to have had a number of hang ups with it. I have to assume he sussed them all out.

Theme was pretty easy once recognizing LADY ELLA, and her pairing with LOUIS ARMSTRONG. Greatest jazz duo of all time. Made the puzzle easier, too. Looked for that last Z and found it heading up ZLOTY, otherwise a hard one to remember.

FOILED at the ACETAL/CEELO cross. Never heard of either. Guessed a T instead of a C.

I'll call it a small dnf, and say I all but finished it, though it took 2 hours plus.

rondo 7:40 PM  

Maybe you didn't see what I did with "I have no regrets" followed with the Edith Piaf mention? Je ne regrette rien!

Diana,LIW 9:35 PM  

Yes, @Rondo - I saw the regrets comment. Well done - didn't mention it - pourquoi? Je ne sais pas. Pardon, s'il vous plais.

La Dame Di

wcutler 2:03 AM  

I came to find out what the title line on this meant, which in the Vancouver Sun was "The Downsizing of Nathaniel Ames". And the constructor names were given as Peter Broda and Erik Agard. I see that the constructor names were incorrect, and I'm glad to see that the downsizing thing had nothing to do with it either.

Michael Leddy 8:35 PM  

The puzzle in syndication, at least at the Seattle-PI, is way, way off. The clues and the grid don't add up. The answer for 14-Down, for instance: AGNISARMSTRONG. Yikes.

DXMachina 7:53 AM  

Yeah, I had the same issue with the Seattle-PI. It looks like the first column was moved to the last column, and then renumbered. So there are some two letter answers, all of the down clues after the first row are offset by two, and the revealer is now 67-69, not 68-70. I gave up.

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