Bewitched witch in 1960s TV / TUE 10-16-18 / Periodical format not much seen nowadays / Card groupings in canasta

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (3:25)

THEME: "THAT'S LIFE!" (66A: Comment of resignation applicable to 17-, 28- and 50-Across) — All theme answers could be clues for the word LIFE

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Classic activity for family night (BOARD GAME)
  • 28A: Serving in a bowl with milk (BREAKFAST CEREAL)
  • 50A: Periodical format not much seen nowadays (PICTURE MAGAZINE)
Word of the Day: ENDORA (12D: "Bewitched" witch, in 1960s TV) —
Endora (Agnes Moorehead), is Samantha's mother and Darrin's chief antagonist in the series. Like all witches, she never reveals her surname, indicating to Darrin that he would be unable to pronounce it. Endora finds mortals dull and disapproves of Darrin, as do many of Samantha's relatives. Endora refuses to even speak Darrin's name correctly, alternatively calling him "Derwood", "What's-his-name", "Darwin", "Dum-Dum", etc., all much to his annoyance. She refers to him as "Darrin" only eight times during the entire series. Endora's ploys to provoke a breakup always fail as Samantha and Darrin's love overcomes every obstacle. Even though Endora casts countless farcical spells on Darrin, she never attempts to destroy him outright. During the first season, Endora threatens her warlock husband Maurice, after he destroys Darrin, saying that she will not have a human being on her conscience. It was one of the few times when Endora went out of her way to protect Darrin from Maurice (see episode 1-10). Endora, once, let Maurice kiss her. But, when she realizes that, after he has kissed her and disappeared, she has contracted an illness which leaves her unable to use her powers, she is furious – until Maurice returns to gives her an antidote, and take her to "the place we used to go to on the Milky Way" to have dinner. She doesn't get along with Darrin's mother, Phyllis Stephens, because she gets along too well with Phyllis' husband, Frank. But, they are civil to one another in, what Samantha calls, "killing one another with kindness". Endora does dote on her grandchildren, Tabitha and Adam; They call her "Grandmama". (wikipedia)
• • •

Happy snoozeday. I like how this puzzle is apparently actively hostile to all things that happened after 1980. You know a puzzle skews very, very old when RHEA Perlman is your hip pop culture reference (72A: Perlman of "Cheers"). Canasta clues and Jack PAAR and "CARA Mia" and ENDORA and OMAR Sharif and "MR. ED" ... you know, for the kids! You could at least pretend to be living in the present. I mean, you clued DRAKE via the duck!? I feel like the original clue on ELENA must've been [Actress Verdugo] and someone in editing was like "This is a little too much, even for us." OK, sure, SELFIE's in here, but even then, the cluer thinks people actually take them with those ridiculous SELFIE sticks, which I've not only never used, but never seen. Lots of short common crosswordesey stuff, and a theme so basic that it's barely there. Also, PICTURE MAGAZINE? What ... is that? Cluing it as "format not much seen nowadays" is absolutely no help. That's just a terrible clue. It provides no valuable information. Ugh. Have you looked at most magazines nowadays? You know what they have a lot, and I mean a Lot of? Ads! Also, pictures. The clue on ENDORA is bizarre, too. What is this mythical "Bewitched" that *isn't* "1960s TV"? Why would you add "in 1960s TV" to that clue?  Again, It Adds Nothing. Also, it's your second "1960s TV" clue of the day. Lastly, that SW corner is a real non-winner. Look at all those identical intersecting letter strings. NET crosses NET. ONE crosses ONE. TON crosses TON *and* TON. Rough. Rough all over. Some of the Downs are nice, but overall ... Ruff.

I had two slow-downs today. The first came at 10D: Crowd-wowing (ELECTRIC), a clue I couldn't really process. Even with ELECT-I- in place, I had no idea what was going on. It's election season, so that probably got in my head a little. Anyway, that's a very odd clue for ELECTRIC. The other trouble spot was, unsurprisingly, around the PICTURE part of PICTURE MAGAZINE (again, I renew my ugh). I couldn't get 52D: T-shirt material (COTTON) the first couple of times I looked at it. I guess the connection between that garment and that fabric is really not that intuitive or tight to me. Are all t-shirts cotton? Ah, I do see that the definition of "t-shirt" does say "generally made of cotton," so OK. I feel like there are far, far more interesting and precise clues you could've gone with there, but this clue is very ... this puzzle. So there's something apt.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Robin 12:10 AM  

Spend some time in NYC and you will see more SELFIE sticks than you can, well, shake a stick at.

In the context the puzzle uses, I've seen ELECTRIC often used to describe to the atmosphere of an event, rather than the performer.

There was the 2005 "Bewitched" movie, which is better forgotten, but "kids these days" might be more likely to think of it than the TV show us old fogeys watched after school.

I had no feeling either way about this puzzle, although some of the clues definitely did skew old. Youngsters might have enough trouble firing who Carson is that PAAR would be beyond them. And MRED? That was off the air before I started grade school and I don't think I ever saw it on afternoon re-runs.

It was the fastest Tuesday I've done this year.

Patrick O'Connor 12:17 AM  

Couldn't agree more, on all fronts.

JOHN X 12:23 AM  

This puzzle was pretty good! This is all solid crossword puzzle knowledge that all the newbies better learn quick because nobody gives a shit who the latest Instagram star is, except for Rex. Hey BATPHONE was in there! The 60s TV Batman is the only good Batman; all other versions are insipid, this is a proven fact.

Bourbon Street 12:28 AM  

Thought this was super simple but I’m getting up there in years so the cultural references were not a problem. Tuesday is supposed to be easy, but it’s not when clues can be obscure to anyone not 50+ years of age. To add to OFL’s list: how about Zoe Kazan rather than her grandfather ELIA?

Anonymous 12:59 AM  

somewhat easier than yesterday. bears repeating - themes are for dodo's. this puzzle had the "mailed it in" feel.

Larry Gilstrap 1:43 AM  

We enjoyed this Tuesday effort. @Robin, old fogeys watched Bewitched in prime time, you young whipper-snapper! And, we waited for the LIFE MAGAZINE to fall through the mail slot each week. Much of what I knew about the world outside Glendora, I owe to that periodical. Really!

I'm glad many pets have been ADOPTED, since rescue usually involves a helicopter. A large corporation like VW, for example, cheats a little bit and folks are...bemused? Any other examples? I'm not bragging here, but morality is a personal policy. Anyone else want to quibble with that? Whew! I feel better now.

I am an advocate of affordable and accessible college opportunities for any kid who wants to do better. My parents' efforts and the state of California helped me become the first person in my extended family to graduate from college. It made a huge difference in my life, and the DEBT incurred was minimal. Want to make things better? Offer education.

I rarely gather around a BOARD GAME, but maybe I should. I follow a baseball guy on Twitter who publishes a Top 100 List of games of the year. Wow!

The West Coast does jut out heading north, so SALEM is it. Bar bet: which sits farther west? Reno or San Diego?

Anybody ever drink a frosty bottle of ZIMA? Anybody ever like it so much that they got a tattoo of the logo? My cross to bear.

jae 1:44 AM  

Yep, easier than yesterday’s, so very easy. Cute, pretty smooth and clever, liked it, but then I’m over 60.

'merican in Paris 1:52 AM  

I'm surprised that @Rex didn't comment on the links in the themes between today's and Sunday's puzzles!

Be THAT as it may, I'm AT ONE with OFL's rating as easy-medium, and his view that it skews old (SETH Meyers being a notable exception). REO Speed Wagons were last produced in the 1950s! Perhaps Mr. Shortz SAT ON the puzzle for a couple of decades before running it? Makes for a BOARD GAME. In a RUT? Watch that CAR TIRE!

My time was on PAAR with yesterday (16 minutes) until I got to the last square: the KA_AN - _IMA cross. Took running through the whole alphabet before I got the happy pencil. Boy was I surprised! Afterwards looked up ZIMA. Doesn't sound like a good substitute for beer. But maybe I'm missing something.

Kinda cool, though, that the south-east has several identical wwejects in the downs and acrosses. Not just NET and NET, and ONE and ONE, but also TON and TON. Taken together, that lil' 3 x 3 grid makes ONE-TON TNT (in the diagonal). There oughta be a term coined for that.


chefwen 2:52 AM  

Much easier than yesterday’s puzzle with only two write overs. MAC over ham at 49A and IRON over club at 15A.

When I filled in BOARD GAME I thought “really, another one, how many more can there be?”

Pretty distracted while doing this one as we were watching the Packers almost blow another game, thankfully they pulled through at the last minute. @Carola, any fingernails left, mine are bitten drastically down.

Brookboy 3:50 AM  

Being of old (and perhaps rare) vintage myself, I did enjoy the puzzle, even if it did feel a bit, well, formulaic. One of the problems with accruing a hefty number of years under your belt, so to speak, is that your past has somehow become part of history, a topic that many, if not most, students seem to dislike.

On the other hand, if I, as the solver, am expected to be conversant with rap lyrics and computer verbiage and all the latest fads, why shouldn’t a young(ish) solver need to know some trivia that occurred 30 or 40 or 50 years ago? Isn’t it reasonable to expect someone of any age to have some knowledge of a movie and stage director like Elia Kazan? He directed “On The Waterfront” among many other notable films and stage plays. He won many awards, including Academy Awards, a Tony award for Best Director, Golden Globe awards, and many others.

Unfortunately, Kazan was also known for his testimony before the insidious and lamentable House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) and the equally deplorable Senator Joe McCarthy in 1952. The fact that he named names followed him for the rest of his life. Some said that “On The Waterfront” was his very indirect apology to Hollywood. The movie starred a young and compelling Marlon Brando who played Terry Malloy, a longshoreman who was associated with a gang of waterfront criminals, a sort of Mafia. In the movie, Terry Malloy slowly becomes more and more disenchanted with the gang, and he eventually decides to testify before waterfront commission, a crime-busting group. The parallels about testifying against your former associates and colleagues are evident.

Regarding the puzzle, I did enjoy it. Thank you, Mr. Sessa.

John Child 3:53 AM  

Yes, skewed old. My fastest Tuesday ever, according to the app, and well under two Rex’s. I’m glad it didn’t last any longer.

Rex is right about the careless SW corner. I wonder how long this was waiting for publication...
“Let’s give it to Mikey ... He hates everything.”

I Dream of Jeanie
Mission Impossible
The Beverly Hillbillies

These were the days...

John Child 3:58 AM  

And Flipper. How could I have left Flipper off the list?

'merican in Paris 4:52 AM  

Oops, I meant to type "Kinda cool, though, that the south-west has several identical weejects ... "

Also, anybody who writes that "the cluer thinks people actually take them with those ridiculous SELFIE sticks, which I've not only never used, but never seen" should pay a visit to east Asia, or Paris for that matter. Some places have signs banning them, because of people getting accidentally banged in the head with them.

Tommy 5:42 AM  

It would be nice if the Times online puzzle did not have a big picture of Mikey eating Life cereal directly below the puzzle, giving the reveal away (not that it was much of a reveal)!

Lewis 6:13 AM  

@rex -- Along with NET/NET, ONE/ONE, and TON/TON in the SW, you also have SAT/SAT. Also, regarding picture magazine, there's a whole section on PICTURE MAGAZINEs in this Britannica article: .

Some random reactions:
* I'm amazed that this is the first appearance of FRAGRANT in a NYT puzzle since 1981.
* Tight and clever theme with a good reveal, the kind that makes me think, "Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?
* When I was a kid, our family subscribed to LIFE, and the first thing I did was turn to the "Miscellany" page at the back. Now there's a word that would look cool in a puzzle (last time in 1985).
* Here's a mini-lesson in puzzle-friendliness of words: ELIA KAZAN has appeared 9 times in the NYT puzzle, KAZAN 20 times, and ELIA 710 times.
* I like the two Z's in the puzzle's lower half, giving it, as it were, a ZZ Bottom.

Nick A 6:29 AM  

Did anyone else have a problem with the answer for 68 Across? How does "Agreeing (with)" give us the answer "atone"? I would think the answer would be "as one", but then that screws up the down answer "ideate". Atone doesn't mean agreeing with at all.

Preferred Customer 6:47 AM  

Must disagree as per others for most of Rex's quibbles. However, canasta clue crossing Bewitched name was a total guess. As was REO. And I had fool before boob. What's a Lat Phone?

My time and solving were messed up by starting last night after a couple of drinks...


Alexander 6:58 AM  

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, how is SALEM the *west*ernmost state capital?

Cassieopia 7:01 AM  

What’s with the mobile version? It seems to have lost my identity; I have to use the web version to become Cassiopeia again.

SELFIE and mentions of LIFE the board game are echoes from Sunday. Fast puzzle for me.

Anyone else like the ELENA Kagan/Elia KAZAN sorta-stack? I liked the symmetry.

Fast and smooth for a Tuesday - lots of heavily-used crosswords (TSA, ETNA, KOI, ETTU, etc) but I guess that’s why it’s Tuesday. Still, enjoyable.

Hungry Mother 7:07 AM  

The Mini caused me a lot more trouble than the full puzzle. Very nice theme, which I didn’t see until the reveal. ATONE as a great DOOK.

kitshef 7:13 AM  

A curiously appealing theme. Felt like this was more of a Monday puzzle than yesterday’s.

Finished with a DNF when I forgot to double-check my PArR/PARR quandary.

You better believe my tent, backpack and hiking boots are FRAGRANT.

Anonymous 7:23 AM  

Preferred customer: I agree that the clue for ATONE was strange. Strangest of the puzzle for me so I was a little surprised it didn't make the write-up. Neither ATONE nor AT ONE means agree (with). As you say, it would make sense as "As One (with"). Definitely a flaw in the puzzle

Shafty 7:24 AM  

@Alexander: ... in the contiguous U.S. states. Salem is further west than Sacramento, CA or Olympia, WA.

kitshef 7:30 AM  

@Nick A - AT ONE (with) is in common use to mean in a state of harmony or agreement with. As in: When I am out camping, I feel at one with nature.

amyyanni 7:43 AM  

John Child and jae speak for me this morning. "Mr. Ed" was my favorite TV show for a time. Remember the theme song?

michiganman 7:56 AM  

This is a good puzzle. The comments by @Brookboy were spot on. All the chatter about skewing old or new is nonsense. Both are good, in the same puzzle or day to day. I don't understand why ONE/ONE and TON/TON are "ruff". The "O" sounds are different so it's only a visual thing. Doesn't bother me but I'm not very sophisticated. I liked the re-visit to board games. The 8th grade boy in me also noticed a re-visit to NOBRADAY with BOOB and RACK. (I apologize and mean no disrespect)

Alexander 7:58 AM  

Oh man, I forgot Salem was the capital of Oregon!! 3rd grade education failure.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

You’ve never seen a selfie stick ? I find that hard to believe. Go to Grand Central Station at any time day or night and you’ll see dozens.

Suzie Q 8:02 AM  

Lots to nit pick today.
Besides everything already mentioned the seafood clue made me wonder what seafood is NOT served with a lemon wedge.
After reading the clue but not looking at the grid my first thought for the bad thing to go flat was beer!
Yesterday was more fun although I never object to a stroll down memory lane.

GHarris 8:10 AM  

My fastest Tuesday yet; once I exchanged iron for club, picture for feature, and ideate for imagine.

pabloinnh 8:11 AM  

I, for one, do not mind it when a puzzle skews old. I skew old. I suspect more than a few of us solvers skew old. Sometimes it's helpful.

The canasta clue took me back fifty years to learning that game with the family I lived with in Madrid. It was a Sunday afternoon ritual that also involved brandy and cigars for me and the man of the family. Lots of laughing involved. Good times.

Enjoyed this one enough but I'm pretty sure Monday and Tuesday got switched, but hey, that's life.

Linda Lou 8:14 AM  

In the contiguous states Salem OR is slightly west of Olympia WA and Sacramento CA. If Rex has really never seen a selfie stilck he needs to get out more.

GILL I. 8:28 AM  

I liked the little "R" pile-ups: RHO REO RAN REM RUT ROME RACK RHEA. Oldies but goodies.
I looked up PICTURE MAGAZINE because I wasn't really sure about a format not much seen. Guess what I got? "Australia's biggest selling men's magazine." BOOB's everywhere. If this puzzle had added BOOTY to its repertoire, I would've taken a SELFIE showing all of you how I laugh.
I'm trying to think if we ever set aside a family night, and if we did, did we play a BOARD GAME. Nope. We ate. Sunday afternoons... outdoors... Lechon, moros y cristianos, arroz, papas, yuca al mojo. Dad and his riding pals would go get a piglet and we'd feast all day. The adults drank to Hemingway and his mojitos we drank orange NiHi's....
THATS LIFE reveal was pretty good for a Tuesday. For some reason, though, I don't like anybody telling me THATS LIFE. I much prefer the more gentle GET OVER IT.

Ted 8:39 AM  

That whole NE corner was a mess of outdated and challenging and odd cluing.

MELDS crossing ENDORA, right below ELENA, and the odd looking CARTIRE, plus the mentioned strange clue on ELECTRIC... ugh. Not Tuesday material.

Sir Hillary 8:43 AM  

A nice, tight theme, but yes, the puzzle skews quite old. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I was in diapers when many of these answers were being foisted on US popular culture, but I must be an old soul because I knew every one of them.

When "Bewitched" made it to syndicated reruns, ENDORA was my favorite character, mostly because of her sarcastic disdain for "Derwood". Later, as a college student, I saw "Citizen Kane" for the first time and was stunned to learn that Agnes Moorehead was so much more than just ENDORA.

BATPHONE and CRABCAKE made me smile, as did ENDORA the witch being so near SALEM. CARTIRE, however, is terrible. I also agree with those who find the ATONE clue annoying; it's Tuesday -- please stop with the needless trickery.

One of my favorite U2 lyrics, from "Kite":
Life should be FRAGRANT
Roof top to the basement

JJK 8:46 AM  

I liked this puzzle! Maybe because I was a child in the 60’s. I thought it was easy and fun and I liked the theme.

mmorgan 8:48 AM  

Rex, go to Paris or some other European capital and you'll see vast and endless throngs of tourists with selfie sticks. In a museum such as The Louvre, you may see them running from painting to painting, snapping a selfie in front of each h one, not even looking at the painting. It's horrifying.

I absolutely flew through this, and it felt like the puzzle was filling itself in without me even needing to read the clues. I had to slow myself down on purpose because I was feeling I'd be done before I started. I did have a micro-nanosecond delay when I wanted 36D to be BATsignal. And then I got to the far SE ending corner, screeched to a halt and stared at THATS---- and a blank corner for what felt like ages. But then it all fell just fine.

Ban the selfie stick!!!

Music Man 8:59 AM  

39A; As mentioned in the clue, “CARA Mia” by Jay & The Americans peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July, 1965. It was their 3rd top ten hit, following “She Cried” (#5 in 1962), and “Come A Little Bit Closer” (#3 in 1964). The group would have one more top 10 hit: “This Magic Moment” (#6 in 1969).

mmorgan 9:01 AM  

@brookboy: bravo!

I hadn't noticed it at the time, but I love the SW corner. The duplication of SAT TON ONE NET cannot be accidental, and I'm trying to find a "Paul is dead" type message in it.

Mr. Benson 9:07 AM  

Wander around any touristy spot in Europe and your path will be inhibited by a selfie stick about every ten seconds.

Dawn Urban 9:21 AM  

@Lewis: Ah, "miscellany"... please don't give the puzzlemakers wicked ideas.

I forgot COTTON, the fabric of our lives, as well. Apparently we spend too much time watching TCM, because KAZAN was a snap, even compared to COTTON.

jackj 9:23 AM  

Too humdrum, even for newbies.

QuasiMojo 9:29 AM  

That odd cube on the bottom of TON ONE NET gives us an ENO threeway! An inside crosswordese joke? Otherwise I agree this felt like a puzzle from 50 years ago when I used to play Canasta and swoon over Omar Sharif. @Lewis good one with ZZ Bottom. Lol. I suspect ELIA has appeared so often in the puzzle because of its also being the nom de plume of Charles Lamb.

Z 9:54 AM  

When I started with ETTU crossing OTOE and STAN Lee I strongly suspected an EseFest. I count 23 answers that fall into my “I see this short word far more in puzzles than I ever see in the wild” list. If the constructor was new rather than a regular (37 puzzles in the past 11 years) would this have been accepted? I suspect not.

As for the “nostalgic feel” (the constructor’s description), Hah. NERO and Julius Caesar? Dead. Johnny Carson? Dead. TLC? Left Eye is Dead. Elia KAZAN? Dead. OMAR Sharif? Dead. STAN LEE? Surprisingly not Dead at 95. Agnes Moorehead, Elizabeth Montgomery, Dicks York and Sargent? All Dead. MR. ED? Dead. The Shah? Dead. Zima? Dead. This isn’t nostalgia, it’s a morgue.

Karl Grouch 10:20 AM  

Totally AT ONE with Rex.
Unimaginative cluing = oomphless puzzle.
I need a hefty DOSE of AFRO-punk to RESET my day.

Carola 10:22 AM  

Cute! I thought the reveal was great, snappy and just right. Also liked EUROPA, FRAGRANT, BAT PHONE.

CART IRE - when your supermarket shopping cart has a wonky wheel and refuses to go straight.

@Nick A - I had to change As ONE to AT ONE (with).

@chefwen - I wasn't able to watch the game, but the first thing my husband said to me this morning was, "You have to watch the video of the final drive." No need to say whose :)

Peter P 10:24 AM  

Finished this one much quicker than yesterday's. No idea why yesterday's puzzle took me a Wednesday or Thursday time to finish, but it did. This one was pretty a straightforward fill, only getting messed up with PArR for PAAR and mAmA for CARA ("Mia.") Oh, and a tentative fill for rescuED instead of ADOPTED at 55A. Otherwise, a pretty straightforward affair with nothing that really stuck out as clever or interesting, clue- or answer-wise.

Mary McCarty 10:48 AM  

Puzzle skews a tad more than OLD (which I am); as my East Coast son texted me at the crack of (my) dawn, it leans toward ANCIENT (which I love): ET TU, EUROPA, ROME, NERO, ERAT, ETNA. CARA was Latin before she was Italian, and RHEA goes all the way back to the Titans. Retired Classicists, unite!

relicofthe60s 10:51 AM  

A PICTURE MAGAZINE is a magazine that emphasizes photography over words. Best known examples are Look and, well, Life, which invented the genre. They were hugely popular at one time. Yes, magazines today have lots of pictures, but they’re not picture magazines in the sense that Life and Look were. In those magazines the photography was the point. Most magazines today use photos to illustrate whatever is the topic of the magazine.

I’m not sure why Rex ranked against this puzzle. It seemed like a perfectly serviceable Tuesday, with a nice theme and a minimum of junky fill. And any puzzle containing SELFIE is not that antiquated.

relicofthe60s 10:53 AM  

Also nice to see a tribute to Mr. Ed, the original stable genius.

RooMonster 10:55 AM  

Hey All !
THATS LIFE. Or at least THATS the puz. Not a terrible-fest, actually kinda good, especially for Tuesday. Who cares about similar crossing letters? Especially if they make your corner come out cleanly. If you're going that far, how about the symmetrical ASSes in 13 & 50D? Think Rex is stuck in a RUT with these reviews.

PICTURE MAGAZINE could've been clued something like, "Child's first book?" or somesuch. BOOB. Always crack up when someone is called that. It's so (to me) non-offensive as an insult, but still stings a bit if you're called that.

Mad shopping basket? CART IRE Har.


JC66 10:55 AM  

Hand up for skewing (being) old.

Nancy 10:58 AM  

On the nose cluing. A complete lack of playfulness or wit. This was not a crowd-wowing puzzle. I found it one big yawn.

Bax'N'Nex 11:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jberg 11:21 AM  

@Nick -- The way I use it, I'd say "I am AT ONE with him," meaning that the two of us are "as one."

Better clue for 45D: "Ate like a soldier" == MRED.

@Suzie Q, I had the same thought, but there are a few exceptions: steamed clams, anything curried, I guess. Pickled herring. But yeah, the clue doesn't help much in getting the answer.

Back to work now.

Malsdemare 11:26 AM  

@Z. OMG "As for the “nostalgic feel” (the constructor’s description), Hah. NERO and Julius Caesar? Dead. Johnny Carson? Dead. TLC? Left Eye is Dead. Elia KAZAN? Dead. OMAR Sharif? Dead. STAN LEE? Surprisingly not Dead at 95. Agnes Moorehead, Elizabeth Montgomery, Dicks York and Sargent? All Dead. MR. ED? Dead. The Shah? Dead. Zima? Dead. This isn’t nostalgia, it’s a morgue." That's how I get to start my day?

Well, actually, no, it started outside with Escape Dog, but once I get Z's funeral dirge out of my head, it will get better. The late week puzzles lately have been challenging for me and so it was a nice boost to the self-esteem to get this with no problems. Is ZEMA the non-alcoholic beer (guess I should look that up)? Why would anyone do that? I do not like the word IDEATE; seems terribly pretentious. "Let's get the gang together and IDEATE the new slogan." Ugh! But that's just me. The rest was fine although, as Z points out, really old. As am I. Hey, as am I would make great crossword filler.

Bax'N'Nex 11:31 AM  

I skew old, so liked this a lot. Thank you, Mr. Sessa, for my morning diversion from real life. Am appreciative every day for this pleasure.

Grew up on Mr. Ed and Bewitched, played tons of board games and we still do. (Would Boggle be considered a board game? 'Cause that's one of our favorites. Don't love Monopoly or Risk...the youtube era has diminished my attention span, I fear. Pictionary is still fun at get-togethers that involve __________ (enter drink of choice). Has anyone played "Catch Phrase"? Really fun at parties too, although not a board game, per se. We have discovered "Ticket to Ride" a transcontinental train game with strategy and luck both. And my daughter re-introduced me to Yahtzee, so simple, but still fun.

BTW...can't believe Mike didn't go ballistic on RACK, wherein to obtain that "Trophy" one needs to use a weapon and end a life. And that was in no way a judgement of hunters...cattle, pigs and chickens, etc. are also killed for food, I KNOW! (Before all you hunters go on the attack) Really thought he would take exception.


Joseph Michael 11:32 AM  

This was an OK puzzle. It does skew old both in theme and fill, but so what? Not every puzzle needs to be an ode to rappers and computers.

Once again I must protest the clue for ONE ACT. While a one act is always performed without an internission, a performance “without intermission” is not necessarily a one act. Many two act plays are performed these days without intermission

The theme reminds me of a round ifrom my childhood:

What’s life?
A magazine.
How much does it cost?
A dollar.
That’s too much.
That’s tough.
What’s tough?
What’s life?
A magazine.

Chris 11:38 AM  

Count me as another who (a) is (slightly) over 60 and (b) set a Tuesday record. Fun puzzle, nice revealer.
And really, Rex, never seen a selfie stick? You're close enough to several places where they are ubiquitous--NYC,as mentioned, Niagara Falls, Toronto, etc. Not to mention any place in Europe. Get out more.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

I'm 57 and I thought the puzzle skewed old. I knew most of the answers but some of them predate even MY childhood.

Lewis 11:55 AM  

@relicofthe60s -- Hah!

wilsch 12:02 PM  

Super easy for me. I'm a baby boomer.

Kimberly 12:16 PM  

Sigh. Why do I do this? I enjoy finishing my puzzle and come read Rex’s comments only to see how stupid I am for having enjoyed it.

I’d be better off reading a Psychology Today article about self-destructive behaviors and why people compulsively repeat them.

Cut him some slack 12:37 PM  

It seems to me that you have to understand when a guy named Ed puts Mr Ed in his puzzle (just as Andrea Carla Michaels put ACME in the puzzle she recently collaborated on).

Cassieopia 12:47 PM  

@relicofthe60s - epic comment. Made my day.

Masked and Anonymous 12:50 PM  

I'm thinkin that the worst news a constructioneer might ever get is that his/her NYT crossword is gonna be published on a Tuesday. It's like yer puz is gonna automatically have a target on its butt.

Didn't think this puz was particularly tryin to skew old-style. After all, it had:
* TLC cable channel.
* SETH Meyers on "Late Night".
* SELFIE on a stick.
* ELENA Kagan.
* AIG bailout.
* STAN Lee of Marvel.
* TSA baggage checkers.
Since lots of human history is back there in the past more than 10 years, it's sorta OK to have a lot of that stuff, too. Examples: ROME, MRED, NERO, ETTU. PAAR. BATPHONE [fave].
And then there's lotsa stuff that's not-so-time-dependent. Examples: FRAGRANT. CRABCAKE [fave]. ELECTRIC. OHM. BOOB. CARTIRE. ZEALOT [fave]. EDITOR.
Sooo … seemed like an ok mix, to m&e.

Theme was solid, altho not especially excitin. Sat there and tried to guess the theme mcguffin, after I'd solved the BOARDGAME BREAKFASTCEREAL part. Nuthin came to me, so I guess it was at least slightly clever. Or I ain't.

staff weeject pick: BOB. Liked its crossin with BOOB.

Thanx for bravely comin out on a Tuesday, Mr. Sessa.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Banana Diaquiri 12:51 PM  

@David Schinnerer:
BTW...can't believe Mike didn't go ballistic on RACK, wherein to obtain that "Trophy" one needs to use a weapon and end a life.

I, for one, expected the allusion to a certain bit of the female anatomy.

Teedmn 1:06 PM  

FRAGRANT - a great word to see in a puzzle.

And BOARD GAMEs must be still popular, with two crossword puzzles referencing them in three days. My family didn't play many board games. We had the gimmicky games - Mousetrap (bought at a rummage sale), and Operation, a Christmas gift to my brother and me. Battleship. None of this Monopoly or Clue or Life or Risk - we'll have no strategy in our BOARD GAMEs! (Okay, there was a teensy bit of strategy in Battleship.)

Thanks, Ed Sessa, I liked your simple, PAARed-back theme.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

People should cut Rex a break for not having come across SELFIE sticks, as Bingampton is hardly a tourist mecca.

You would think that it would have been seen around some of the tournaments he frequents though.

Puzzle was fine by me, but I skew towards being old, not to mention skew towards being an easy grader.

ZIMA was not a beer at all, but a clear alcohol product that I would place in the wine-cooler family - I think it was marketed to women in particular. It just happened to have been sold by Coors, although that was probably only known by reading the fine print in ads or commercials.


Joe Bleaux 1:45 PM  

Of course, of course

OffTheGrid 1:51 PM  


Dawn Urban 2:01 PM  

@Z....are we SURE Mr. Ed is dead???? haha

Masked and Anonymous 2:15 PM  

Almost forgot -- the theme itself was definitely of a nostalgic nature. So, puz skewed old-style-ish, in at least that sense, I'd grant. Just got reminded of that, when I read the constructioneer's comments, over at xwordinfo.chen.

PICTUREMAGAZINE definitely described LIFE Magazine, btw. It was mostly pictures with captions, which other than for maybe a couple other zines at the time, was a fairly unique way to go. National Geographic was the other one that had lotsa pics, that I recall. My fam never really subscribed to any of em, but we would look thru em at the barber shop or dentist/doctors office. Altho ... my faves at the barber's were often the superhero comic books, which also had lotsa pics. Plastic Man; primo stuff.
But, I skew digressive.

MRED mighta actually been a meta Easteregg, referin to the constructioneer. Too conspiratorial? Yeah … thought so.


Odd Sock 2:29 PM  

Man, that is a long bio of Endora. She was the only cool character. Why Darwood was so stupid never to enjoy his wife's powers made him look like a dim bulb indeed. Later in TV land was Deana Troi's mother on Star Trek TNG who seems to have Endora as a model.
What I really need is a mnemonic to keep Jack Paar and Anne Parr straight in my mind. Those are always a coin toss. Why is it that when I have a 50-50 chance to get it right I still get it wrong 90% of the time?

Banana Diaquiri 2:57 PM  

Jack Paar equals Johnny Carson

Mickey Bell 3:14 PM  

Can I just add that Zima...I want to f-bomb the bell out of Shortz for letting that terrible clue through. Zima was around for about two years in the early nineties. You can’t call it an Coors Brewing Company product in 2018. That’s like saying the Model T is a Ford product or that Ted Williams is a Red Sox hitter. To quote Bill Clinton, it depends on what your definition of the word, “Is,” is. All those things are “was’s.” I was stuck in the southeast for ten minutes thanks to that bullshit.

Z 3:23 PM  

@malsdemare - Dirge? I was hoping more Billy Joel.

Okay Okay - maybe a little dark. Hand up for also never actually noticing a SELFIE stick in the wild. Although, in the spirit of my earlier post and The Darwin Awards, Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to death by SELFIE stick. I'm pretty sure there are some very dark humor pages out there on the same subject if you're just too happy today.

@Old Sock - Maybe Henry was a golfer and between Anne and Catherine was two over PArR?

Banana Diaquiri 3:31 PM  

from what I gather, not from experience fur shur, the reason for selfie stick is to get the lens far enough from you so that you don't end up with mostly nose and thus a horse face. just ask Stormy Daniels.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

The AT ONE answer was so wrong I thought there must be an early rebus going on. Nobody says "at one" when agreeing (with) something. Sure, you can be "at one with nature," but that's not synonymous with "agreeing (with)" nature. Come on. Just change the clue so it says "Make amends" or something.

Dick Swart 4:13 PM  

A nice Days Gone By feel for me. I was an employee of LIFE magazine and worked in the TIME-LIFE building in the late 60's.

puzzlehoarder 4:51 PM  

Last night's and this morning's comments did not go through using my android phone. I'm just trying out the desk top to see how that goes. Today's solve was over in Monday time. I don't know what's going on with the phone.

Jeff B. 5:03 PM  

Thanks to Relicofthe60s for the best comment of all: Mr. Ed, the original ‘stable genius’. Much more of both than the current user of that title.

Unknown 5:06 PM  

I'm a tad on the younger side of solvers at 33, and I blitzed through this. I feel like "Mr. Ed" is still a common enough reference. People know Cheers, and the Rhea Pearlman/Danny DeVito marriage has become something of a pop phenomenon with the younger crowd because they're so small and loud and generally amusing. Elia Kazan is a famous and important enough director that I think he is fair game in any puzzle for sure. The only older clue I didn't know was "ENDORA," and I'm very familiar with Bewitched and the nose-twitching. Just didn't know her name.

And nobody uses selfie sticks.

Doc John 5:21 PM  

These are all answers that anyone who does crosswords should know.
You know what's cool about Jay and the Americans? Becker and Fagan played for them.

Unknown 6:09 PM  

Best comment in this thread.

BarbieBarbie 6:13 PM  

ENDORA is gettable even if you never watched BW on TV, since her name is a Biblical allusion. Skews really old!

Peter P 6:24 PM  

I'm puzzled about some of the MR ED comments. Isn't that a standard fill? I feel like I've seen it several times recently, but I've also been going through the NYTimes archive puzzles at random, and it's showed up about 6 or 7 times for me. I feel like it's up there with ASTA, but at least I know who MR ED is. ASTA I only know because of crosswords. (I'm 43.)

And, yes, I am a bit confused about Rex's comment on selfie sticks. I've seen then many time in the wild, but like a commenter suggested above, maybe they're not that popular in Binghamton because ... what do you got there that's interesting that may demand a selfie stick? Spiedies I suppose?

Ian 10:44 PM  

Jesus, Rex, get a grip on it. Talk about first world problems!

Burma Shave 10:08 AM  


on the ELECTRIC waffle IRON you make
is TARO and a DOSE of FRAGRANT material?
THAT’SLIFE with a Hawaiian CRABCAKE!


spacecraft 10:40 AM  

The whole thing had a green-paintish feel for me: CARTIRE (well, I guess there are truck tires; but with 18 of 'em if one blows you don't really lose control); BREAKFASTCEREAL (is there another meal when we eat cereal?); PICTUREMAGAZINE (as pointed out, virtually all mags have them, though to be fair not to the extent of LIFE).

The theme is OK; I like when theme lines do not immediately, obviously provide a connection and you have to get them GEAR wheels turning. They meshed between the second and third themers for me. Oh I get it: they're all named "LIFE." Sort of an aha moment without the !.

Fill wise, it's about what I expect from MRED Sessa. Some nice stuff--who doesn't like an ELECTRIC BATPHONE?--but overall less than inspiring. IDEATE is one of those real-but-never-actually-used words. I so anticipated "imagine" from the clue that I started writing it down without even counting the squares--oops! Inkblot there. I really hate IDEATE.

Easy peasy for me; I'm old, and I for one appreciate the duck clue for DRAKE. I could cheerfully go even farther back for Sir Francis; anything but another one-named rapper. Ugh!

In defiance I choose another name from the 20th century for DOD: Irene CARA. So there! Puzzle was in my wheelhouse but with so-so craftsmanship; call it a par.

rondo 10:42 AM  

Yes, people use SELFIE sticks. A lot. When they want a *better* PICTURE than just extending an ARM. And how anyone could never have seen those SELF-centered jerks using SELFIE sticks is beyond me. Lotsa venues have signs up warning that SELFIE sticks are banned from the premises. But go to any national park and you’ll see no end of SELFIE sticks. Pay attention. And no, I don’t own one.

To the puz: Compared to much of the junk that often shows up on Tuesdays there should be rejoicing that this puz didn’t stink. Damn near FRAGRANT compared to some.

The theme song calls him “the famous MR.ED”. How could MR.ED have been famous before the first episode? Eventually famous only to viewers because on the show MR.ED only talked to Wilbur.

Another ESPN Body Issue alum is ELENA Delle Donne. Yeah baby.

I miss a good PICTUREMAGAZINE from time to time. THATSLIFE.

Diana, LIW 11:33 AM  

Fairly easy - esp compared to Monday! - for me. ETTU?

I mean, ya gotta love a puzzle that's so full of...LIFE.

@Rondo - as to your MRED question - (we haven't seen him for a while - welcome back - neigh, very welcome!). Go right to the source and ask the horse. He'll give you the answer that you'll endorse. (He's always on his steady course.) TALK TO MRED.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting fo talking horses

thefogman 12:01 PM  

No erasures this time. Easy, except for the cross at 60A and 61D. I almost went with an M figuring the booze name at 61D was MIMA and stood for Made In Milwaukee Ale. Mrs. Foggy told me that would have been a BOOBoo. She said 60A was KAZAN - but couldn't say for sure if it was spelled with an S or a Z. "Go with the Z" she said. I RAN out of options and ADOPTED her idea. I won't be KOI about it. It took a bit of TLC, but TANKS to my CARA mia we got 'er done and I am forever in her DEBT.

rainforest 3:36 PM  

As soon as I saw the constructor's name, I knew I wouldn't read @Rex's post. Ed Sessa is a favourite target of a rant/slaying by Mr. Sharp/Parker. What would be the point of reading it?

Sure, this puzzle may skew olde in parts, but zounds(!), thus do I skeweth.

Like yesterday's, today's theme was not particularly slobber-knocking, but together with the revealer, it was spot on. Lots of simple words, but also lots of longer, interesting ones too. ZEALOT, FRAGRANT, EUROPA, ELECTRIC, BATPHONE, and TASSEL(for some reason I liked that one), added some zip to the puzzle.

Overall, I liked this puzzle, pretty good for a Tuesday, and I do believe that @Rex's schtick skews old, verily.

strayling 7:10 PM  

Good to see a (serendipitous?) shoutout to Stan Lee.

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