Common Sense pampleteer / WED 7-26-17 / Rambler maker / 2006 Supreme Court nominee / Mineral in kale / Peter Paul and / Queen of the Nile / Jack's love Titanic / Typeface similar to Helvetica

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Constructor: Brian Cox

Relative difficulty: Easy (5:38)

THEME: Knock-Knock jokes — You know what a knock-knock joke is.
  • 17A: Response to "Knock knock": WHO'S THERE
  • 21A: "Esther ...": ANYONE HOME
  • 36A: "Yvonne ...": TO BE ALONE
  • 42A: "Sadie ...": MAGIC WORD
  • 52A: "Ken ...": I GET AN AMEN
  • 62A: "Luke ...": MA NO HANDS (did anyone else parse this as "man o' hands"?)
Word of the Day: ARIAL (27D: Typeface similar to Helvetica)
Arial, sometimes marketed or displayed in software as Arial MT, is a sans-serif typeface and set of computer fonts. Fonts from the Arial family are packaged with all versions of Microsoft Windows from Windows 3.1 onwards, some other Microsoft software applications, Apple Mac OS X and many PostScript 3 computer printers. The typeface was designed in 1982 by a 10-person team, led by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders, for Monotype Typography. It was created to be metrically identical to the popular typeface Helvetica, with all character widths identical, so that a document designed in Helvetica could be displayed and printed correctly without having to pay for a Helvetica license. (Wikipedia) [This paragraph is in Arial.]
• • •

Come senators, congressmen please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it's ragin'

I love knock-knock jokes, and I had high hopes for this puzzle -- up through 42A I thought there would be some kind of progression, i.e. that the person knocking would say the magic word and be let in. Maybe the magic word was DORIS. Doris who, you ask? Doris locked, that's why I'm knocking. Or maybe it was CARMEN. Carmen who? Carmen let me in! Wait, no, it's HARRY. Harry who? Harry up, it's cold out here! Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

Knock knock. Who there? Phyllis. Phyllis who? Phyllis decent but not flashy. I suspect people may trip over HOB (63D: Play ___ with (do mischief to)) -- it's not an expression I'd heard, and most of the sources I'm finding suggest that it's a British idiom. OVINE (66A: Like a merino) is a handy Scrabble word if you're trying to use up a V tile, or if your opponent has played VINE and you have an O. I'm curious about the cluing on AMOS (55D: "Chicago" simpleton ___ Hart) in a Wednesday puzzle, since there's a far more famous Amos.

Also: this is a debut, the first one I've blogged for Rex. Congratulations, Brian! Looking forward to seeing more puzzles from you. 

The only 30D I recognize

No bullets, but a quotation from 1A: "Common Sense"pamphleteer (PAINE) 
“Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.”
Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Worst puzzle ever – and that's SOLELY because of the HOB answer. But the knock knock jokes were just terrible. This is not fit for the NY Times. Juvenile, idiotic, and disgusting.

Elaine2 12:30 AM  

Nice quote, Sorceress

Unknown 12:33 AM  

Thanks, @Laura the Sorceress, for subtly providing the @Tom PAINE quote, and amen to what you and the 12:09 a.m. commentator wrote about HOB in @Brian Cox's debut New York Times puzzle. I had every other letter correct, and was unable to get that Natick theme crossing even after making alphabet runs in both directions.

What a political vibe to some of the fill/cluing -- SWAMP, NIGEL, ALITO, PENCE, and ALL HAIL (am I missing any?) Under the circumstances, I was surprised that KANSAS was clued to the Wizard of Oz rather than to Governor Brownback's state.

AMOS (Hart, husband to Roxie) was a pleasant surprise, and inspires today's earworm: Mr. Cellophane from the Kander/Ebb musical "Chicago."

jae 12:38 AM  

Easy-medium for me - top half easy, bottom more medium.

Smooth grid but the theme just didn't do it for me.

We just got back from a trip to Jackson Hole, WY to see the Tetons. One bit of trivia we learned on a tour is that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem covers 22 million acres. We also saw a moose.

puzzlehoarder 12:41 AM  

I didn't pick up on the theme until over half through the puzzle. TOBEALONE made it click. In the mean time I'd put in MAGICWORD from the crosses, that and the fact that it's an obvious phrase. Without the theme the southern pair weren't quite coming together thanks to AMOS and HOB. With the theme it was easy to mop up. The NE corner caused some hesitation due to a couple of write overs and a lack of familiarity with "Titanic." Obviously I enjoyed the puzzle, hence the boring detail. What's not to like about a puzzle with HOARD in it?

Tom 12:44 AM  

It's Wednesday, anonymous. Knock-knock jokes are basically juvenile by nature. Why so bitter? Great quote, Laura. A sign of our national nightmare. ALLHAIL he who claims to be draining the SWAMP. LOL...or just shake your head and get ready for 2018.
Easy for hump day, not brilliant, but had Decent fill.

Giovanni P. 12:47 AM  

Fuck me, the Trump Derangement Syndrome is going to become a full blown pandemic isn't it???

Keep that triggering up kids. I would LOVE to see what Sharp has to say about this!!!

Larry Gilstrap 1:19 AM  

What a coincidence that our reviewer today is one of the few remaining fans of Knock-Knock jokes. Lucky us! Laura, I admire your enthusiasm. Your suggested themers seem superior to the puzzle's, but I'm no constructor. There must be some continuum involving strong theme and crappy fill, and this Wednesday was filled nicely. See what I just did there?

Speaking of coincidences, MAN O' HANDS was my nickname in college. Perhaps, that's why the result was much time TO BE ALONE. Yesterday I get the GOSPEL and today I GET AN AMEN? Let's get silly; I'll go first.

Ok, I wake up and I am King. I'm benevolent by nature, so I establish a MERITocracy. Scan your badge at Costco, Starbucks, CVS, or Best Buy, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Mary Travers is unfortunately gone, but her beautiful harmonies with that trio will live on. Dylan's lyrics for "The Times They Are A-Changin'" express the frustration of a young person's voice about an older generation. That was common in the 60s. Laura, are you nineteen? I certainly am not but I'm feeling frustrated, and it is no longer a generational divide.

First take back in the day, I could not get my head around seeing a FAKIR lying on a bed of nails, or is that laying? Ok, transitive verb needs a direct object...

gzodik 1:20 AM  

And HOB was to me a gimme. Because I grew up rural? Texan? Because I'm Older than durt? All 3? When was a kid I asked old Mr. Egger on the next farm if he had fixed his roof, and he said "No, but I holp (helped) it". I thought he was ignorant, but he was just archaic. Has "holp" ever appeared in a crossword? Wist? Dorst? Am I too great a nerd even for the dam crossword blog?

Anokha 1:26 AM  

Hi Laura! Great write-up and thanks for subbing. HOB killed it for me.

File as fog 1:39 AM  

Easy/medium for me. Theme revealed itself but I didn't recognize any of the knock knock setups. Maybe that's because I was raised in the U.K.? Speaking of, I'm almost 60 and I've never heard the expression "play HOB with". Play hell with, sure, but play hob gets no hits in my world

Hartley70 1:54 AM  

I too Naticked on the H in HOB and finally hit the Reveal Square button. When I saw MAN O HANDS. I said it aloud multiple times and never got any sense out of it. I'm grateful to Laura for explaining it and not making me feel like an idiot. She has a deft touch as a reviewer.

While "knock knock" jokes are a conversation killer outside elementary school recess, I think they work well as a Wednesday theme. The fill could sparkle more for my taste. I look forward to some question marks amid the cluing. Since I didn't see any, I have to give this an easy rating.

Anonymous 2:12 AM  

Got the whole puzzle easy but got a DNF on the southeast corner. HOB was something I'd never heard and MANOHANDS was something I didn't get until after i cheated

Robin 2:31 AM  

No problem with HOB here, and in general the puzzle was almost okay. But the theme answers... oh, so weak.

Phil 2:46 AM  


How long are we going to keep off the metric system. Road sign-maker's PAC, whoever that may be, must not have the cash

Back to the puzzle...I thought it was very poor cluing to be explicitly giving away the themer. Kind of ruined the whole thing.

'Question in the dark'
Or even
'Beginning to theme'

chefwen 3:10 AM  

The only HOB I know is a lovely lady who lives on this beautiful rock and wrote a book called HOLY MOLI: ALBATROSS AND OTHER ANCESTORS. A unique book on a fascinating bird.

Husband and I quibbled about the abbr. of Fr. misses. I lost, DAMN!

Recently adopted 51A Shelter rescue a couple of weeks ago. He was obviously beaten and abused, poor baby. He's getting better day by day and we are hopeful that in a couple of months he will be a trusting and happy dog.

Unknown 4:14 AM  

"Phyllis decent but not flashy" - loved it, Laura. Liked the knock knock theme - pretty clever but not something I want to see again anytime soon. And the Thomas Paine quote - spot on!

evil doug 4:47 AM  

[Kramer is at Jerry's, waiting for his ride to his karate class. Young Joey finds him...]

Joey: Come on, Kramer!

Kramer: Hey there.

Joey: Come on. Mom's down in the car.

Kramer: Okay, Joey.

[Joey exits.]

Jerry: You guys both have class at the same time?

Kramer: No, we're in the same class.

Jerry: What do you mean you're in the same class?

Kramer: He almost beat me.

Jerry: Kramer, you're fighting children?!

Kramer: We're all at the same skill level, Jerry.

Jerry: He's nine years old! You don't need karate, you can just WRING his neck!

evil doug 5:10 AM  

[I know, I know. Could have gone with MOOpS, but we had that a few weeks ago. Also hard to ignore MAN(o)HANDS down there. Just too much Seinfeld material today....]

Loren Muse Smith 5:53 AM  

I’m with Laura – I still love KNOCK KNOCK jokes, too. I’m embarrassed to say, though, that when I saw her write up and that the theme was KNOCK KNOCK, I had forgotten about that entry and taken the themers on their own, as just a play on words using phrases that are in-the-language. (So, @phil phil, it sure wasn’t explicit enough for me.) Which is why I appreciate this theme even more. Brian found common expressions (hi, @puzzlehoarder) to work with the pun. Very cool.

So most KNOCK KNOCK jokes wouldn’t work as elegantly because the punch lines are contrived. My favorite is

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Duane who?
Duane the bathtub! I’m dwowning!

Both my kids could’ve easily said this until they were about four. (The no-R part - not the dangerous bathtub part. Ahem.)

I really liked IT’S TIME. Feels so serious and ominous. The door opens, the guy comes in and quietly says to you, IT’S TIME. You both nod to each other, and you square your shoulders and step past him out the door…

I was sure 62A would be “both ways.” Didn’t fit.

Secret “Santa” before AGENT. I love Secret Santa time.

Liked SWORN crossing WORD.

@chefwen - a new dog! I'll look forward to some pictures.

Here’s my biggest take-away this morning: the entry MA NO HANDS. So you have the Spanish word for hand right next to the English hand. I was stunned and kept looking at it. How fun is that? It would work in French, too – I use my main hand to eat Oreida Tater Tots. Ok. That’s a stretch, but still…

I echo @Tom, @Kris in ABCA on the PAINE quote, Laura. And I’m with @Kris on laughing at your “Phyllis is decent but not flashy.” Excellent.

Congrats on your NYT debut, Brian. Worked for me. (Oh, and I got HOB from the crosses and didn’t even notice the word until I got here.)

Eric 5:56 AM  

@chefwen. Thanks for adopting. I adopted an abandoned and scared pup. Three months later she's a happy, well adjusted friend. Don't understand people who abandon and mistreat helpless animals. Definitely hope for yours with tlc.

Brett 6:03 AM  

A fakir is a Muslim, not a Hindu.

Anonymous 6:04 AM  

Pence, Farage, Swamp, Alito. Probably the best puzzle ever.

Lewis 6:24 AM  

It might have been better, even though it's not a great answer, to substitute GETAD ("Almost fail") for BETAS, to get rid of that HOB.

I love the quote, Laura, and my Trump take was MANO HANDS, which comedians love to point out he lacks. I thought the theme was cute, inventive even (have we ever had a knock-knock joke puzzle?). It gave me a good aha. I love the word WRING, and I liked the clue for SWORN.

Congratulations on your debut, Brian, and enjoy this day!

Passing Shot 6:34 AM  

The best oart of the puzzle was the so-unfortunately-timely quote from Paine as provided by The Sorceress. This puzzle bit.

Anonymous 6:42 AM  

Now that the economy is no longer in a choke hold, the markets are soaring and we're rolling in it (wealthy).

Brian 6:51 AM  

The one who asks Who, is somebody home.
Kk jokes need to make some kind of sense.

Two Ponies 7:10 AM  

Ivan rather than Yvonne would have sounded better to me.
I tried to watch "Chicago" but 5 min. into it I turned it off. It was just another version of "Cabaret", so what was the big deal?
Hair metal bands are just hair bands to me.

Congrats on the debut.

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

Had no trouble with HOB since my mother used to say that to me when she saw I was trying to do something difficult as a child: "You're going to play HOB with that." I can hear her now. Maybe it's a NW Ohioism, or maybe because she was Scots.

FAKIR can be both Hindu and Muslim religious ascetic or mendicant monk.

I also like Knock Knock jokes. Brings back fond memories of my kids.

OTD 7:15 AM  

Previous so-called "anonymous" was a mistake. Wouldn't want to antagonize the real "anonymous." I hit the wrong key. That's what happens when you're Older Than Dirt. Sorry

Laura the kiwi 7:16 AM  

I liked it! Especially for a new one - and I think it was clever. The inclusion of AMOS also links to the obvious A MOSQUITO response to a knock knock joke too. I didn't catch that it was quite that themed until after I had completed it - like I caught the word play but I hadn't linked it back to that clue. I was focusing more on a whodunnit type theme I expected to show up. And I like it when I miss the theme totally and then it comes together at the end. *shrug*. Nice :-)

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

Boy, there are some real snowflakes here. Get a grip man.

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

Ha--I see Rex likes to pick substitute commentators with the same politics as himself. However, it was a funny and insightful quote. I am glad you did the review today, Laura, as it was much more enjoyable than the scorched earth one we would have gotten from Rex. The puzzle was ok. If I didn't have the theme, I would never have grokked "hob".

Hungry Mother 7:32 AM  

Couldn't gert HOB by itself, but had the theme down by then and got it as a side effect. Cute theme.

kitshef 7:38 AM  

No issue with HOB here. Made my traditional ARIeL/ARIAL mixup, fixed thanks to the MAGIC WORD.

Like @Loren Muse Smith, I never realized that WHOS THERE was a theme revealer and thought they were just punny expressions.

This would have made an excellent Monday and a very fine Tuesday, but Wednesday needs to be harder. I feel like we've had three Monday level puzzles this week. Let's hope that means we're in for a doozy tomorrow.

chefbea 7:41 AM  

hated the puzzle!!! Have no idea what Esther or Luke are suppose to stand for???

clk 7:42 AM  

What does it say that I love puns but knock-knock jokes leave me cold?
I'd never heard of the HOB expression and don't know what an OTC trade is but got both on crosses. Easier than Monday or Tuesday for me.

RAD2626 7:55 AM  

"Deft" and "Subtle" not words I would use to describe Paine quote. More like raising HOB.

Liked puzzle just fine. Great debut. Congrats. Did not like ENSLAVE but maybe I am going soft. Tried to come up with easy fix to make it ENcLAVE but failed. Probably because I am terrible at word ladders.

Z 8:06 AM  

Hmmmm - I wonder why the anonymouse thinks the quote is about Trump when Paine was writing in the 1770's.

Word Play > Letter Play so this puzzle was better than yesterday's.

Unknown 8:06 AM  

Is there anyone home? And Look Ma, no hands!
I had fun but took me a while to finish!

Kim Scudera 8:10 AM  

Hi, @chefbea: "Esther" subs for "Is there" in the question " is there ANYONE HOME?" "Luke" subs for " look" in the exclamation "Look, MA NO HANDS!"

Naticked on the H in HOB. couldn't see MA NO, only MAN O'. Argh.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

This is just awful!!!

ghthree 8:12 AM  

A trio of multilingual Knock-Knock jokes,
based on national anthems:
Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Jose who?
O say can you see?
Klopf, Klopf!
Wer da?
Welche Alice?
Deuschland, Deutschland Uber Alles!
Frap, Frap!
Qui la?
Quel Alonzo?
Allons enfants de la patrie!

chefbea 8:25 AM  

@Kim Scudera...thanks!!

Trombone Tom 8:45 AM  

I grew up on the west coast and HOB was a gimme so I don't think it's midwest regional. Maybe more skewed to old codgers?

Finished the puz, but couldn't figure out MAN O HANDS(!) until I came here.

@Laura's comments are refreshing. Phyllis! Har!

Kendall 8:47 AM  

The clue on FAKIR is legitimately wrong, and not in the roundabout 10th definition kind of way that makes it sort of work. It's categorically Muslim and not Hindu. That plus HOB caused this puzzle to go from easy to nearly impossible to finish for me.

The theme was just OK for me, and Laura's write up got more laughs out of me than the puzzle.

Nice debut, minus the couple things other people are mentioning.

Black Sun 8:57 AM  

If you want to use the Paine quote from the 1700s to refer to the present you don't have to cast your net very far in either direction
to find someone, anyone, in politics that can fit the bill. Does the name Maxine Waters mean anything to you? Do you snowflakes really want to play that game?

Birchbark 9:03 AM  

My dictionary says that the mischievous HOB derives from a variation of "Rob, short for the proper name Robin." I suppose as in Shakespeare's Robin Goodfellow, a/k/a Puck from Midsummer Night's Dream. Turning to Robin Goodfellow in Wikipedia: "Puck may also be called Robin Goodfellow or 'Hobgoblin,' in which 'Hob' may substitute for 'Rob' or may simply refer to the 'goblin of the hearth' or hob." (The other dictionary definition of HOB is a fireplace grate attachement used for keeping food or drink warm.)

The "O" in HOB was the last letter to fall for me today, but fall it did and all's well.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  


Tita 9:17 AM comment of the week...I take it that 1D describes your technique when you were the self-proclaimed MANOHANDS?

There are plenty of ladies mostly up in the NE...GAL, ROSE, MARY, MLLES, IDA... ummm...HAG, EDNA.

@chefwen...many congrats on your newest PET.

I loved this puzzle as soon as I realized it was a KK joke theme. 52A is the weak one of the bunch, but the others were fun enough. Knowing the theme definitely helped me with the solve. Even helped me get the H of HOB.

I've mentioned how I grew up on Thomas Paige's apple orchard. We had 2 apple trees in our yard, which were the best climbing trees ever.
He was a big local hero. NY gave him land in thanks for his service, upon which he built an extraordinarily modest home.

@Laura...thanks for a fabulous write up.


Rex, quit lurking and log in!

Tita 9:19 AM  

@Hartley...I enjoyed my English muffin so much this morning...thanks! (See very late Monday comment)

Tim Aurthur 9:21 AM  

Knock-knock jokes were a fad in the 1920s (along with crossword puzzles). A famous one went thus:

Who's there?
Eskimo Christians Eyetalian.
Eskimo Christians Eyetalian who?
Eskimo Christians Eyetalian no lies.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  


It's true lots of people use fakir to refer to all sorts of non muslims. My favorite is Churchill calling Gandhi a cheap temple fakir. He was morally right, but alas, mistaken in calling a Hindu a fakir.
The term is of course Arabic and reserved for muslims.

@ Birchbark
My mother used to say "it's hotter than the hobs of hell". She had no tolerance for heat. I confess, I inherited that weakness.

RooMonster 9:32 AM  

Hey All !
Leaning (slighty) toward the not-liking group, but some of the comments have swayed me a tad to the other side. Took the ole brain until near completion to finally from the theme. Had to Reveal Square for the H in HIB, then Check Puz to see my LoDES was wrong. Changed to LADES, my brain finally saw I GET AN AMEN, and the "Aha, I see what's happening..." Already had __NOHANDS, so wrote in MA and never saw it as MANO HANDS.

Still kind of an ODD puz. After first two, thought it would a whole connected string. Had to WRING out the themers. Light to no dreck, though. And a debut, so good for Brian.


RooMonster 9:37 AM  

Har, auto(un)correct changed grok to from in "finally grok the theme." And HOB, of course, this newer phone I have likes to put in adjacent letters instead of the correct ones!


Z 9:40 AM  

FAKIR. I suggest checking multiple sources before declaring a NYTX Clue "wrong." It is also important to remember that while our words have all sorts of origins, we humans have the habit of adapting them to our own designs and intents. Perhaps someone can ask @John Child how the term is used on the sub-continent.

John 9:46 AM  

Re Paine quote, if the shoe fits ...

Wm. C 9:48 AM  

@Anon9:23 --

Re: "hotter than the hobs of hell"

Reminds me of my daughter's summer wedding in our old NE church with no A/C, and record-setting heat, hotter inside than out. About 100 degrees.

The wedding coordinator said: "It's hotter than the Hinges of Hades." The expression stuck with me, she could really turn a phrase.

Fortunately, the reception was in an A/C-ed Museum.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  


Your favorite, Wikipedia, flat out says the NYT is wrong.
And for a change, Wiki has it right. I can go to lots of websites claiming the earth is flat, that the moon landing was a hoax, that 9-11 was an inside job. Come on, be reasonable. Its true the term fakir has degraded over the years, but that is a perversion of the word. You should do some checking, hell, ask your pals in derarborn how they feel about fakir being applied to a hindu. Go a head, I'll wait.

Two Ponies 9:57 AM  

I recently fostered a pup from the local no-kill shelter for several months. While a stable environment away from the kennel improved his life and behavior, no amount of love and patience could undo his criminal nature. When I was in the room he was an angel but the moment my back was turned there was no limit to what he would steal or destroy.
He reminded me of the old story about the woman and the snake. After he bit the kind incredulous lady he said "You knew I was a snake when you invited me in."
Good intentions are not always enough.

Peter Puzzler 10:00 AM  

An acquaintance once played HOB with me by asking me if I wanted to hear the best KNOCK KNOCK joke. I said, "Sure."
He said, "OK, say 'KNOCK KNOCK'". I did that, and he said, "Who's there?"
Left me agape.

Unknown 10:02 AM  

My take on HOB (had to cheat, tho) was somehow it's a short hobgoblin.
So, it works. Puzzles getting easier. My next (far-off) goal is to tackle Thursday.

Nancy 10:04 AM  

The bottom of this puzzle was a hot mess for me. I didn't know HOB either, didn't get MANO HANDS until I came here, never heard of the expression Ken I GET AN AMEN and had to guess at AMOS. (The only Hart I know in "Chicago" is Roxy.) The top of the puzzle I found to be a mindless bore. I had gotten WHO'S THERE, but I wrote in ANYONE HOME as an answer to "Esther..." without knowing what on earth was going on. "Esther" sounds like "Is there"??? Give me a break. Ridiculous. And meanwhile, the rest of the cluing up there was a complete yawn.

By the time I got to the bottom, I had figured out the theme, but the knock knock jokes had gotten dumber and more peculiar. They didn't amuse me; they annoyed me. I never cracked a smile.

Joseph Michael 10:06 AM  

Congrats on the debut, Brian. Fun original theme. Didn't grok it until "Yvonne TO BE ALONE" and then had a second aha when I realized these were Knock Knock jokes.

IT'S TIME could be the title of this puzzle's subtheme. With inIT, imIT, slIT, merIT, exIT, ITch, and ITem, it definitely has the "IT" factor.

Also enjoyed your writeup, Laura, and the timely PAINE quote. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Similar insights about life and politics can be traced back to the Pharaoh Igetanamen in ancient Egypt who was FAMED for his addresses to boy scout troops.

mathgent 10:06 AM  

I enjoyed figuring out what the entries had to do with the first-name clues. I was hoping to find more knock-knock jokes here. One that I remember.

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

Anna Maria Alberghetti.

Anna Maria Alberghetti who?

Anna Maria Alberghetti in a taxi, honey.

My apologies to those of us under seventy. Both references are unknown to you.

I also didn't need the connection to knock-knock jokes to solve. I think that the connection is a little illogical.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

Looks like someone was triggered (it's you Black Sun. It's you)

JamieP 10:16 AM  

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Control freak...Now you say "Control freak who!"

Note: timing is critical to get a laugh.

Late to the rodeo on this week's Paul Newman anecdotes, but I wanted to add my $.02. I can confirm that he drinks Bud out of a can and that he doesn't have a pretentious bone in his body. I used to bartend in Watkins Glen ( shout out Finger Lakes) and he and his crew would often come by after he raced. My boss used to order extra cases of Bud when he knew Newman was in town.

Once my friend Dan and I were at the track watching qualifying. Newman got in an accident (as he often seemed to) and his pit crew came out in a truck. There was a bicycle in the back and he started to ride it back to the pits. As he was riding, Dan--always quicker and wittier than me-- started singing "Raindrops keep falling on my head..." Newman looked over and flashed that million-dollar smile and gave a huge thumbs-up.

Brett 10:19 AM  

@Z: I am a religious studies professor. Of course, this doesn't make me the final authority on all things religious, but, by God, I'm right about the word "fakir."

Lewis 10:20 AM  

@mathgent -- That was a well-remembered Mary Tyler Moore bit. Here it is, and it may bring a smile to your face: .

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Bill and Hillary are fakirs. Not a genuine bone in their bodies.

old timer 10:49 AM  

Fakir is a word I often saw as a child and have not seen for decades now. I think the last time I did hear it was in that scene towards the end of The Fantastiks where the Girl has become an unworthy person, sees a man on a bed of nails, and calls him a "fake fakir".

HOB on the other hand I got quickly, "Play HOB with" came up in radio plays, and I loved my radio (still do). Never quite knew what it meant, though.

The Paine quote was of course about George III, and a little unfair I think. He was hardly an autocrat and was well prepared for his job when he succeeded to the Throne in 1760. The policies that led to the Revolution here were those of his ministers, and like any constitutional king, George had to appoint those who commanded a majority in the House of Commons. Had Fox maintained a majority we might even now be loyal subjects of Queen Elizabeth (though self-governing, like Canada).

Hartley70 10:50 AM  

@Tita! I'm delighted to have enhanced your morning muffin experience, but in the hope of making you even happier, may I suggest you trying SLABBING on Bay's English Muffins, found in the refridgerator section of your market. Their modest nooks and crannies don't impede the SLABBING experience. We made the switch and are happier humans as a result.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  


Gah!!!!!! I mistook you for Anon @ 7:11. Thanks for not boxing my ears on my earlier post. And thanks for explaining to z his error.

Once again, my apologies.

schwartzy98 10:51 AM  

After finishing this, looking at the fill, reflecting on the theme, I view this puzzle as additional confirmation that the best puzzles these days are being published elsewhere than the NYT.

Anoa Bob 10:53 AM  

She's not a girl who misses much
Do do do do do do do do, oh yeah
She's well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand
Like a lizard on a window pane
The man in the crowd with the multicoloured mirrors
On his HOBnail boots
Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy
Working overtime

GILL I. 10:58 AM  

Oh dear...I wasn't around during the knock knock era so this little debut was completely lost on me. Like @Nancy, when I finished, my reaction was SO WHAT'S THE BIG FRIGGIN DEAL...So sad. So sorry Brian Cox because now that I've read @Laura and the rest, I kinda see how it's cute in a Wednesday way. It's different as well and it will make me look up some knock knock jokes and post them here just to make @Nancy groan.
I think the one thing about this blog that infuriates me is someone coming here and saying a clue or answer is flat out wrong - and in a belligerent tone. Faqir/FAKIR refers to not only Hindus but Buddhist ascetics as well. Hell, even the Merriam Webster has this definition: An itinerant Hindu ascetic or wonder worker. So, instead of calling @Z names and sounding stupid, why don't you look up the definition.
And if you're still out there. CRU "IS" a vineyard. Did you ask your brother-in-law and then not want to admit you were wrong?
Congratulations Brian Cox. I wish I had appreciated your hard work.

jb129 10:59 AM  

Hated it,,,,,

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

@ JamieP

FWIW,I was the guy that hijacked the Milo O'Shea answer into a Paul Newman thread earlier in the week. Thanks for the corroboration. Every so often I get an eye roll from folks who didn't believe me about Newman's taste for cans of Bud.
But more than that, thanks for taking me back. Some of my earliest memories are from the Glen. Though I never saw Newman there, my brother just raced there for the first time. It scared him but good. Having only raced at very modern tracks, he had never experienced truly high speeds with Armco fast approaching.

Ps Your friend Dan AND your boss sound great

TOCraig 11:07 AM  

Monday easy.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Who called Z a name? But given your poor reading comprehension, you've earned a name dummy.

Giovanni P. 11:16 AM  

Knock Knock

Who's there


Unfortunately who?

Unfortunately, I decided to take out my stress on several people yesterday. I done goofed; and I would like to apologize to anyone who I offended with my comments.

We already have enough unironic anons here; why add one more to the mix?

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Lame, lame, lame...

GILL I. 11:48 AM  

@Anony 11:14. I know...Mortimer Snerd and proud of it.
You... stop being a blatant pedant.

Masked and Anonymous 12:04 PM  


Fun and different. Like.

staff weejecta pick: ODD and ODS. Honrable mention to HOB.

Great debut, and definitely lookin forward to U knock-knockin on our doors again … Did have yer one slight rookie misstep, down there in SE Dixie…

1. HOB is desperate *and* kinda obscure. HOBblin. Gotta go.
2. I admire yer respectful desperation, in tryin to ram that one, solitary, lonely, afterthought of a U in, within the LIEU entry. But, day-um, dude. Go big or go home, M&A usually sez. Gotta insist on 57-A = LUAU.
3. Closin out yer puz with an "S" will not sit well with @Anoa Bob. OK by m&e, but de bustagut. Aim to please all the nice Comment Gallery folks.

Sooo … Maybe fiddle around a little longer down there, and before long U will have splatzed out [technical term] a semi-masterpiece like this here:

57. LIEU with more U's and fewer E's
66. Harvard, Yale, and some creepy vines
69. Go soft gradually, with "out"
58. Police group
59. "I got ZIP-___-doo-dah to put in this grid entry" [Shoulda fiddled even a bit longer]
60. KGB summer camp sponsor??
63. With it

Anyhoo, lotsa good fillins already in place, elsewhere: ISRAELI. ITSTIME. ALLHAIL. ENSLAVE. SAVIOR/VIRGO. KANSAS. MLLES [just kiddin, on that one]. Not much real looong stuff, but I blame that on the *six* knock-name themers.

Thanx and congratz to Mr. Cox. Hard to knock $300 moneybucks worth of success. One last tip: PENCE … only use in tiebreaker situations.

Masked & AnonymoUs


mathgent 12:07 PM  

@Lewis (10:20): I wasn't able to use your link but I found the Mary Tyler Moore episode on YouTube. Thank you very much. My wife and I just watched it and cracked up. What a great series that was!

jberg 12:09 PM  

I'M IT! (31A)
I NIT! (58D)
So I'm going to start an argument about FAKIRs and religion.

Seriously, though, this was a fun puzzle. Best part was getting Garbo's accent with "Yvonne."

I must have spent a minute or two trying to dredge up HOB from memory. Only after I had finally succeeded did I think to look at 69A and seen the obvious BETAS. Good thing I don't time myself.

Is ARIAL the Timothy Parker of fonts?

We got a rescue dog a bit less than two weeks ago; the folks at the shelter said she's from Georgia, where she probably lived outside as part of someone's hunting pack. She's sweet an docile and afraid of her shadow, but gradually getting more comfortable -- the number of places in the house she would go willingly went from 2 to 3 yesterday, and after a trip to a big park she is now willing to get into the car on her own. It's sad to think what her first 4 years must have been like, but wonderful to have her with us now.

Robert A. Simon 12:11 PM  

In the spirit of @mathgent, here's my favorite from more than a few years ago:
Knock, knock
Who's there?
Sam and Janet.
Sam and Janet who?
(SING) Sam and Janet evening, you will find a stranger...

Masked and Anonymous 12:21 PM  

@Robert A. Simon & Sam & Janet: har

@Laurasorceress: Saywhat … *No* bullets?!?! Ow! (Paine) :-(


Ken Wurman 12:30 PM  

I never saw so many comments!
Good puzzle, excellent write-up..

Teedmn 12:46 PM  

1A was a bit of a PAINE as I was thinking of Adam "Smith" and "Wealth of Nations". I was lacking "Common Sense" there, I guess. Not hard to overcome, though.

Easier today than yesterday. I think this is a great debut - thanks Brian Cox, and I look forward to more.

CDilly52 1:22 PM  

To me, "the kettle's on the hob" is the common phrase, but my Granddad also said "the kids have been playing hob with my tools again," so I had that one from two different usages. I agree that the trickery "hob" may indeed be shortening of "hobgoblin" - at least that certainly is the most benign meaning I can ascribe to Gramps's comment when we had been messing around on his shop!

As for the knock-knocks, I only enjoy those when they come from a very young child who is just figuring out what jokes are. Awareness of humor is such a critical stage in brain development and I am always fascinated by its manifestation in youth.

I didn't get the theme until "LUKE Ma' no hands." For whatever reason (probably that I am just old), this was a very common phrase when I was young used to mean "see, I have no need of any assistance or nagging from anyone, thank you very much."

Once I had that one, the rest of the puzz fell in record time. All in all an average Tuesday time but the "jokes" were not very theme-worthy.

chefbea 1:24 PM  

@Robert A. Simon...that was great!!! now i'll be singing that for the rest of the day

Joe Bleaux 1:27 PM  

Knock, knock
Who's there?
Mister Cocksure
Mister Cocksure who?
Mister Cocksure NYT debut is one for the books. Congrats!
@George Bar any, thank you for the earworm! "Mr. Cellophane" is a great replacement cure for "Time of My Life" (currently used in a TV commercial for ... nope, I refuse to abet the advertiser). @Laura, you've brightened the week (not that I don't miss Rex, but ... )

Charley 1:59 PM  

Never heard of hob. But my problem with this awful puzzle is 26 down. Adopting Trump's stupid insulting "swamp" is over the line for me.

Unknown 2:02 PM  

I'd be anonymous too if I were as stupid as this one.

Uke Xensen 2:14 PM  

Lost a little time in the NE by putting YOGIN instead of FAKIR. (The "Hindu" part of the clue did throw me off.) Then the G seemed to check with GRAM as the scale unit. But I soon saw the problem. That gave ANYONEHOME & the theme. Okay puzzle but I certainly wasn't wowed by the puns.

Mohair Sam 4:05 PM  

So I did the first few lines of the puzzle and decided to watch "Mike and Mike" while I waited for waited for Lady M to rise from ABED (you know how it is with kept women). Hence I pulled a Loren and forgot the knock, knock clue and never got the theme. Ruined what was probably a damned good solve.

Threw in FAKIR without a thought, should I feel guilty? O in HOB the last letter, but what other vowel could it be? Is there an AVINE? I'm a VIRGO - have you ever noticed that whatever sign you are, when you announce it someone in the room (usually a woman) will nod and say "aha, that explains a lot."

@Robert A Simon - Good one. If you listen carefully Ezio Pinza actually did sing "Sam and Janet" rather than "Some enchanted".

The PAINE quote - If y'all don't think that doesn't apply to every politician alive, well, y'all are fools.

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

If you're consumed with hate, you must not own stocks.

Unknown 5:09 PM  

Can be either.

Bill L. 6:44 PM  

Knock, Knock
Who's there?
Justin who?
Justin time for dinner.

I solve weekday puzzles while eating breakfast before work then usually check in here in the evening and rarely comment. But I gotta say I really enjoyed this debut. I grokked the theme early and smiled at each themer, and "Luke Ma, no hands" baled me out at HOB. Well done!

Excellent review by @Laura too!

Thanks, B.C.

Bill L. 6:53 PM  

argh! I meant bailed, of course. I blame it on a long day at the office.

Martin 7:15 PM  

Of fakir, Wikipedia says, "The term has also been erroneously used to refer to Hindu and Buddhist ascetics (e.g., sadhus, gurus, swamis and yogis). These usages developed primarily in the Mughal era in the Indian subcontinent."

Yep, it was a mistake, but a mistake that has been enshrined in English for hundreds of years. I have yet to find a dictionary that doesn't approve the usage.

The Encyclopedia Britannica is pretty explicit that, this being India, an awful lot of fakirs are sadhus.

Here's one from 1907 in Benares, Hinduism's holy city on the Ganges.

We call turkeys turkeys because of a mistake in where they were thought to come from. In French they're "Indians" because of a similar, but different, mistake. That's language.

Once the ship of mistake has sailed, and dictionaries all support a meaning, crosswords get to use that sense. It's actually very convenient and saves a lot of arguing. Of course, bemoaning that the damn language is so full of mistakes is always allowed.

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

Yes, of course. Everyone with no skin in the game accepts the error. The faithful have a markedly different view. Of words, truth and time.

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

That was for Martin. Sorry Bill.

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

By the way, I had to travel all the way to my living room to find a dictionary--The Two Volume OED--- which describes fakir as being used for hindus "looselsy".
Not much of an endorsement.
It as, as I stated 10 hours ago, and Brett more than that, at best a "loose" usage, at worst, flat wrong and offensive.

Martin 8:13 PM  

Yes, and they also give an 1861 citation from Dickens ("Hindoo fakir"). (I have the 20-volume edition; I'm not sure how much of the citation sections are in the 2-volume version.)

Loosely, inaccurate, mistaken all say the same thing. But the fact that it's listed means the OED is documenting that it's part of the language. As one of the faithful, you get to never use a word this way and hope that you convince enough other right-minded folks to do the same so that the dictionary changes. (History indicates this is more "quixotic" than anything else, but it's mostly harmless.) But while you're waiting, all those dictionary listings mean that you can't call others wrong for taking a different path.

Anonymous 8:20 PM  

No citatiion is given. As you know, citations are the chief difference between the sets.
But you concede my point by saying goes mistaken loosely and inaccurate are all the same thing, don't you?

Anonymous 10:00 PM  

If your team amasses the most point after nine innings,thank for good post and sharing......

Not Obsessed 10:55 PM  

Did the clue lead you to the correct answer?
All it is is a clue, a hint, not a dictionary entry.

Z 8:09 AM  

@Brett - Maybe I can be accused of wanting it both ways, but neither you not the clue is "wrong." You are correct from a religious studies perspective, the clue is correct from a usage perspective. What was most interesting to me from the Britannica article I linked to is that FAKIR is now the preferred usage in India.

@anon9:49 - Wikipedia is not my" favorite." I do this thing known as "checking the source." So let me suggest you go back to the Wikipedia article on FAKIR and look at footnote 5, the one in the third paragraph you reference. Did you notice?

Edac2day 3:51 AM  

Nope. Awful. I didn't get the knock knock jokes, and even after reading the answers it took a while. "Mano hands" I thought had something to do with Mano a Mano. "I get an amen" left me scratching my head.

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thefogman 9:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 10:02 AM  

Fun puzzle, albeit a bit easy for a Wednesday. The only writeover was caTS before PETS. I only got HOB via the crosses. Play HOB with...Does anyone use that phrase? It sounds like something Fitzwilliam Darcy would have said to Elizabeth in the hansom cab. There was more corn in the themers than at a Labour Day picnic, but I to chuckled anyways. Aside from a few minor imperfections, it's hard to knock the constructor for his fine effort.

Knock Knock! Who's there? Rex. Rex who? Rex a good scotch by pouring it on the rocks.

spacecraft 10:33 AM  

No, I won't do it. All I know about Knock-knock is: if your car says it, ITSTIME to take it--or trade it--in. I'm not quite getting the phrase at 52-across; I guess I don't go to enough revivals.

If a puzzle can be cute and elicit groans at the same time, this would be it. Let's just say I'm glad we don't have this type of theme every day. The fill is OK but suffers from awkward-partial-itis. NESTSIN is just awful.

DOD is Kate Winslet as survivor ROSE. Interesting to learn about the two native ISRAELI. Par.

Burma Shave 11:23 AM  


ITSTIME for a PAWS then,
WHOSTHERE to SEE and be heard?


Longbeachlee 12:24 PM  

Like Loren I finished, but missed the knock knock theme. But Loren, or someone, help me understand the Phyllis one.

thefogman 1:01 PM  

@Longbeachlee - Re: Phyllis, I believe Laura is referring to the crossword's fill as in Fill is decent but not flashy...

Phyllis who? Phyllis decent but not flashy

Diana,LIW 1:21 PM  

Never played HOB with anyone, but I have played Tom Swifty. Glad @Rex missed his chance to slay this puzzle.

The theme snuck up on me, but once I got it, HOB filled in nicely. Like Phyllis, fill is easy to get.

Almost forgot ROSE and AMOS, but they eventually appeared. Love the control freak knock-knock - must go use it on Mr. W.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Tricky fun. I'll take one like this every Wednesday...

leftcoastTAM 2:59 PM  

Clever and fun, with a good chuckle from "Yvonne TO BE ALONE".

The "A" in AMEN was the last letter to go in. Was tempted by oMEN, but "Chicago's" crossing AMOS made it LOGICal enough.

As for the Washington SWAMP, not sure that "establishment" quite describes it. You could say that the whole place is a swamp, but a few of its political players have managed to find and stand on a few pieces of dry land.

The question of course is WHOS THERE?

rain forest 3:00 PM  

I ended up liking this puzzle, but it took me ages to connect WHO'S THERE with the themers. Kind of a reverse revealer, I guess. It finally kicked in with the last themer, and I then was able to go back and see how it all worked.

Is "Can I GET AN AMEN?" something that evangelKists say? I don't know.

I don't think I know how to pronounce FAKIR, and I'm one of those who is completely ignorant of its origin. Maybe I'm a bad person, or maybe I'm just playing HOB with you.

But, IT'S TIME to go. I liked this puzzle and I'll leave you with:
Knock, knock
Who's there?
Rondo who?
Ron don't do a comment today. Sorry.

Diana,LIW 4:06 PM  

Ladylike groaning ensues...

Lady Di

rondo 7:17 PM  

Too beautiful of a day. Cycling, Adler Planetarium, etc. House of Blues (HOB) in a little bit. ISRAELI Portman, yeah baby!

leftcoastTAM 7:37 PM  

Fellow Syndilanders--

Once again, after looking through many of the comments, it is apparent that we syndies are pretty much out of it. Five weeks is a long time in between. Usually there are fewer than ten of us left who comment.(Not that we're insignificant, mind you.) Is commenting really worth the time and effort?

WHO'S THERE, anyway?

thefogman 8:06 PM  

@LeftcoastTam: Knock, knock. Who's there? Syndie. Syndie who? Syndie Lou Who from Whoville. That's who! We are here! We are here! We are HERE!!!

Diana,LIW 8:28 PM  

Oh my goodness, @Lefty, did the spellcasters get to you? Must I call upon Dr. Zorba to bring you back to reality? Puhlease...

Synders - UNITE, don't UNTIE!!!

At ACTP (you know, the biggie in Stamford) I met lots, and I mean lots, of Futurelanders, who read us regularly. One doesn't need to wonder why. 'Cause we rock. And we don't:

piss and moan
stick our noses up arses and declare stink
declare our, and only our, greatness
name call
call names and then denigrate

Out of it? Out of it? Thank the Lord!!! We are in the goodness.

Several Futurelanders at ACPT asked if I would become one of them. I told them a vehement, "no." And why? because I love my Synders. We are the sweethearts of the Sigma Chi of Crosswords.

We're good enough, we're smart enough, and darn it, people like us.

I wouldn't give up Syndertom for a free entry to ACPT. Please don't give us up.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Synders to Unite!!!!!

leftcoastTAM 11:45 PM  

Okay, okay, got it. I have occasional days of doubt. Will try to keep the faith. Thanks.

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Tarheeled 10:07 PM  

Fun puzzle. Didn't catch on to the knock knock aspect until almost finished. Had no problem with hob. Prolly cause Mom was a Brit and used lots of terms like that. No one I read above (didn't read everybody) mentioned that a hob is also part of a stove or fireplace. A shelf for keeping food hot. You can't beat a liberal arts education!!

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