Nightclub singer who was given nickname Buddha by Frank Sinatra / TUE 12-4-18 / Brooke Shields sitcom set at trendy magazine

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Easy for all of you, Medium for me 

THEME: S- S- — two-word phrases where both words start with "S" and the second letter of each word moves from "A" (in the first themer) through all the vowels to "Y" (in the last themer):

Theme answers:
  • SAMPLE SALE (17A: Clothing store event to get rid of excess merchandise)
  • SECRET SERVICE (22A: Government agency charged with protecting the first family)
  • SIMPLE SIMON (28A: Nursery rhyme character who met a pieman)
  • SOMEDAY SOON (40A: In the near future)
  • "SUDDENLY SUSAN" (47A: Brooke Shields sitcom set at a trendy magazine)
  • SYLVIA SYMS (57A: Nightclub singer who was given the nickname "Buddha" by Frank Sinatra)
Word of the Day: SYLVIA SYMS (57A) —
Sylvia Syms (December 2, 1917 – May 10, 1992) was an American jazz singer and actress.
She was born Sylvia Blagman in Brooklyn, New York. As a child, she had polio. As a teenager, she went to jazz nightclubs on New York's 52nd Street and received informal training from Billie Holiday. She made her debut in 1941 at Kelly's Stable.
In 1948, performing at the Cinderella Club in Greenwich Village, she was seen by Mae West, who gave her a part in a show she was doing. Among others who observed her in nightclubs was Frank Sinatra who considered her the "world's greatest saloon singer." Sinatra conducted her 1982 album, Syms by Sinatra.
She was signed to a contract by Decca Records, having her major success with a recording of "I Could Have Danced All Night" in 1956, which sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[2] Syms made regular appearances at the Carlyle in Manhattan. At times, impromptu, while enjoying a cocktail in the bar of the Carlyle, she would walk on stage and perform with the cabaret's other regular, Bobby Short. (wikipedia)
• • •

I could tell this was mostly Really easy as I was doing it, but I made initial errors in two different places, and then just didn't know who SYLVIA SYMS was, so my solving time was quite normal. If I hadn't face-planted twice with dumb bad first guesses, I might be singing a different tune, but with B- at 25D: Nincompoop I went with BOOB and then that first "O" turned out to be right so I was like "woo hoo!" but then [Old Russian autocrat] had me thinking TSAR, which didn't work, so ... I went back to the "B" [Nincompoop] word and changed BOOB to BORE ... BOAR ... nope, it's spelled BOOR, and it's wrong anyway. Great. Cleaned up that mess, but lost many valuable seconds. Then fell into a worse mess at 37D: Blushed or flushed. Had RED-, wrote in -FACED. That pretty much killed any chance I had at a faster-than-normal time. I could survive having to hack my way through SYLVIA SYMS (who I think I've at least heard of), but misguessing twice, that was fatal. Hyperbolically speaking.

The theme ... was a theme. Here it is. Theming all over the place. I don't know. Seems like a placeholder. It works, but it doesn't exactly produce exciting results, and doesn't have any particularly entertaining elements. Theme is consistent, grid is clean, but it's pretty dull overall. Even the fill is a little subpar, now that I look it over. Not terrible by any means, but pretty heavily reliant on repeaters like APOP ATARI ORES PPS ERLE ASSN LTYRS NOELS SSE UHURA ENERO etc. The only truly remarkable thing about this puzzle is the clue on NRA (2D: Org. opposed by Everytown for Gun Safety). I still think constructors should delete NRA from their wordlists completely, but if you're gonna use it, yes, clue it as the ****ing villain. Because it is. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS oh yeah I also floundered a bit trying to understand 64A: Hot Chocolate or Vanilla Fudge (BAND). These were, in fact, BANDs. They were popular 40 and 50 years ago, respectively. Older than "SUDDENLY SUSAN," not as old as Eva PERON. You are forgiven for not knowing them.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Larry Gilstrap 1:04 AM  

Wow! That theme seemed fine on its own, but OFL acknowledges the vowel progression in the last word and that's a pretty high bar to set for a just a Tuesday. Not sure it really mattered to me, but somebody noticed.

SYLVIA SYMS is a name that somehow had escaped me, and I can remember the days when a romantic evening might include Sinatra on the BOX. Figurative expression.

All our Francophones are on high alert, remember yesterday? So, if I say AU REVIOR, please excuse my American accent.

How to clue SEX: 43A.

Yeah! I'm that guy who paid the concessionaires at Four Corners to pose spread eagle on the borders of four states. Each appendage clearly in a different political realm and my torso in what? International waters?

chefwen 2:00 AM  

Very easy until I arrived in the south. Never watched it, but vaguely remembered SUDDENLY SUSAN, had to have a lot of letters in place before it came to me. SYLVIA SYMS, unknown, downs only. Started with SOME time SOON until I ran out of squares..Wite Out to the rescue again.

Didn’t know that Hot Chocolate was a band, I remember it as a great restaurant in Chicago that my brother and SIL took me to a few times.
Didn’t know SCRUB, will never remember how to spell UHURA. Had a mess down there that never got fixed. DNF on a Tuesday. UGH!

jae 2:23 AM  

Easy. Nice piece of construction. Some of fill was a tad marginal but worth it to pull off a double vowel progression that includes Y. Impressive, liked it.

chris b 2:24 AM  

One of the better puzzles for musical references recently. I Couldn't decide whether I should post a link to a Vanilla Fudge song or the Wilco track "Someday Soon," so here are both!

Teddi and Teddy 2:29 AM  

Can’t believe OFL saw the vowel progression. We didn’t even notice a theme never mind such subtleties. Kudos! And thanks for yet another hilarious write up. Hmmmm, the puzzle? Meh. We weren’t crazy about it.

Loren Muse Smith 4:08 AM  

Probably like lots of others, I just saw the SS deal first. But since it’s Peter Gordon, I was confident there had to be another layer. The first time I remember doing a vowel progression like this was with B’s – beer belly, burning bush, boom box… and I liked the little tweak to the trick. He was able to just sneak in a lone BYE as the last across entry, but it was still cool. (July 24, 2012 - Andrew Marc Greene)

I had a student ask a couple of years ago if blush was a combination of blood and flush. (Ya know – as in face flushed with blood, just so we’re clear since those two words together look sinister.) I was jealous that I had never seen that, and she went up on my Hall of Fame.

Can you imagine being such a big shot that you could refuse a huge honor like the Nobel? I guess, though, since everyone remembers that you had first dibs on it, you still get the credit.

The clue for BRIAN pleased me. And the SEX homophone clue had me squinting to imagine including “sales” and “sails.”

“Schoolteacher’s wake-up time, perhaps” – hmm. Varies. But if you switch if to wake-up call, I dunno. We have this assistant superintendent who is legendary for screaming and yelling at teachers. Legendary. And I mean it’s yelling you can hear down the hall. I swear. Because she has her own kids who have IEPs, I’ve attended several meetings with her and the administration about her kids. To every meeting, I've taken a dated, signed letter of resignation just in case (thanks for that advice, Mike Alpern!) ‘cause I’d never recover from being screamed at like that. So far so good, though. Her kids have been very good for me, and she has been nothing but reasonable and nice. Whew.

Well. Finally. We don’t have to quibble about a tilde:

First month of el año – ENERO
First month of El Ano - ENERO

The biggest sit-up-and-say-Wha? moment was when the “Buddha” nightclub singer ended up being a woman. Sheesh. If people started calling me Buddha… man, how would I feel? The name takes my mind straight to fatso way before master or wise person. I just looked into it briefly, like for 30 seconds, and it seems it actually was because of her appearance.

DEIGN is a gem of a word. I’m not a I Would Never Deign To person but rather Oh Hell Yeah What Can I Deign To Next person. Watching the Real Housewives, enjoying Cheezwhiz once in a while, eating a couple of gummy bears off the floor, digging that pair of jeans back out of the washer before they’re washed, being vocal about not “getting” Jane Austen, belly-laughing when my student falls for the Knock knock - Who’s there? - I eat cowp trap, using the singular they

Peter Gordon, always a pleasure. Seeing PRES right next to AU REVOIR was especially timely.

'merican in Paris 4:47 AM  

Ooh la la, SUDDENLY SUSAN is showing a bit of ANKLE. SOME DAY SOON PAPA, who's taken a SHINE to her, is going to develop an URGE to see more.

I would have tied my record time on this, but got stuck in the Southern California area. Took me a couple of extra minutes to finally recall that Hot Chocolate and Vanilla Fudge were BANDs. I think one of my first LPs (after Her Albert and the Tijuana Brass) was Vanilla Fudge's eponymous Vanilla Fudge. MASON William's "Classical Gas" was one of my first 45 rpms.

Speaking of 45, seeing PRES (he of TEENSY hands, REDDENED face and many a cross word) and BOZO in the same puzzle gave me put a quiet CHEER. OK, I can be easy to please. I wonder what the SECRET SERVICE thinks of him? POLES APART from 41 (may he rest in peace).

Thanks for an enjoyable Tuesday, Mr. Gordon.

AU REVOIR, mes amis.

Hungry Mother 6:10 AM  

PR for me today. I did mostly downs except for the themers. Nice one.

Lewis 6:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:24 AM  

The vowel progression lifted this puzzle out of the ordinary, for me. There are many two word phrases, with each word starting with S ("smooth sailing", "swan song", "set sail", et al), but the list narrows when the first two letters of the S-words are the same (I've got "slippery slope" and "short shrift" -- can you come up with any more?). And to do that with the five vowels plus Y, in lengths that work in a grid, that's a special construction.

Jofried 6:32 AM  

Never noticed the bowel progression, so that’s pretty cool. First time I ever finished a Tuesday in under 5 minutes so an exciting day here in NJ!

Lamont Dozier, Brian and Eddie Holland 6:39 AM  

Vanilla Fudge recorded a real kick-ass You Keep Me Hangin' On.

They were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006.

Brookboy 6:54 AM  

The puzzle went pretty smoothly for me. Like Rex, I first had REDfaced for 37D, but I was certain that 54A was CHEER, and that second E in CHEER pretty much killed REDfaced and made me do all the crosses first. Thus I finally got to REDDENED, a word I don’t think I have ever used. Had a few minor hiccups, but no real stoppers. I enjoyed it.

Didn’t know about the vowel progression until I read OFL’s comments about it. Yet another creative and impressive crossword idea...

@LMS: I’ve had the same thought about Sartre and the Nobel Prize since I first learned that he had done that. I think you are correct about it making everyone remember he was the original recipient. Whenever I hear of the Nobel Prize I think of Sartre and vice versa.

I also want to add to the kudos you receive for your posts here. I enjoy reading them, and I especially enjoy your comments and observations about your experiences in teaching. Thank you.

And speaking of your comments, I am wowed by your tactic of carrying that letter of resignation to the meetings. If you are truly prepared to actually render your resignation, you have the winning hand at those meetings. Very creative idea.

michiganman 7:08 AM  

This was a good Xword morning for me, under a minute, :59, for the mini and 16 for the main event. And I have a Tuesday streak of 3. Wahoo! I know, kinda lame, I'm a bit short of genius but sometimes hit "genius" level on the Spelling Bee. It's all fun.

amyyanni 7:09 AM  

Enjoying "I Thought About You." Thanks, Rex. A Tuesday with speed bumps is a good thing.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

I do feel like on a Tuesday, your themers should be reasonably familiar to most people. So … kind of odd to have two of the six be complete unknowns to me (SAMPLE SALE, SYLVIA SYMS), and a third be kinda green paintish (SOMEDAY SOON).

And while SUDDENLY SUSAN was a gimme for me, I have to think that’s a WoE for a lot of people.

So … two solid themers out of six. And really, nothing else to recommend the puzzle as the six themers put too much strain on the rest of the grid. AU REVOIR is OK, but look at those other tepid long downs … ENLACES, NISSANS, REDDENED. Ugh.

John H 7:23 AM  

You can never tell if it's gonna be "aah" or "ahh". There oughta be a rule.

pabloinnh 7:59 AM  

Also missed the vowel progression, which is nice. Note to self: pay closer attention.

Didn't know Sylvia Syms and spent quite a while wondering why an ELK would be honored in Jan. Oops.

SOMEDAYSOON is a great song by Ian Tyson, he of Ian and Sylvia. Many covers, the Judy Collins version being my favorite.

Swell Tuesday.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

or even "ooh"

GetWynded 8:05 AM  

Never heard of Sylvia Symes which made fixing ELK to MLK something that never crossed by mind. Why give up a vowel? 64 across good too. I finally remembered how to spell Uhura and still didn't get Band once I stumbled into bars.... FUN!

Bruce R 8:06 AM  

Rex, you missed a perfect opportunity to become offended. You know what I'm talking about: BRIAN. I guess we can still make fun of dyslexics and hillbillies, but for how much longer?

GHarris 8:07 AM  

Probably the fastest and easiest puzzle I’ve ever done regardless of the day of the week though I didn’t notice the theme until reading Rex.

Beaglelover 8:07 AM  

@Rex what was your time for today?

@LMS I suggest you either organize a union in your school or join contract negotiations if you have a union already. It is unfortunate that it often takes the force of a legal document (i.e. a contract )to get administrators to behave like civilized human beings. Most teachers do not have the nerve to have a resignation letter at the ready nor should they have to.

mmorgan 8:14 AM  

Solid and pleasant Tuesday for me. I also had REDfaced at 37D for awhile but otherwise no particular hold ups. I always want TSAR to be CZAR and it rarely happens but in this puzzle I got my wish at 36A!! Briefly has hOsES for POLES at 8D but that was quickly corrected. I appreciated the lack of a revealer. Or was there one I missed? I did miss the vowel progression.

I loved Vanilla Fudge. 'The Beat Goes On' has to be one of the strangest albums ever released. Ever. But I don't think it was ever widely known. Mostly snippets of Thomas Edison and Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill and psychedelicized symphonic renditions of Sonny and Cher as I recall.

And they're still touring(!).

mambridge 8:16 AM  

What the heck is a SAMPLE SALE?

Suzie Q 8:25 AM  

What do they give away at a sample sale at a clothing store? Never heard of that.
I don't think there has been a pole used in a firehouse in quite a while. Hoses was my first thought.
Never heard of Ms. Syms. Like @ LMS, I don't think being called Buddha would make me happy at all.
My only joy today was that the moment I wrote Someday Soon I could clearly hear Judy Collins singing

He loves his damned ol' rodeo as much as he loves me
Someday soon goin' with him someday soon.

Thanks for that Peter.

mmorgan 8:41 AM  

Not sure if I'm doing the html right, but if you have 45 minutes or so to spare, the entire Vanilla Fudge "The Beat Goes On" album is here:

That's if I did that wrong.

Hungry Mother 8:48 AM  

@lms: I was on a school board for 10 years, 2 as president. If I had ever gotten wind of an administrator screaming at a teacher, I would have had him (probably) removed immediately.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

So I know that Rex Parker is pseudonym or an alter ego or something, and his real name is Michael Sharp. What is OFL?

Mike Herlihy 9:01 AM  

OFL = Our Fearless Leader

Nancy 9:16 AM  

I thought there was one playful and imaginative clue for BRIAN (14A). Everything else, and especially the theme, I found a SOPORIFIC SNOOZEFEST.

GILL I. 9:25 AM  

SAMPLE SALES are not for the faint of heart. Just about any designer has them and when announced, the crowd goes mad. You see those Black Friday mobsters waiting in line at Walmart at 2:00 am? Well, the first SAMPLE SALE event I went to was about the same. Hey, I scored a Chanel handbag for $50.00. Originally priced at $750. I still have it. Won't do it again. I'd rather eat a Hot Chocolate with the SECRET SERVICE.
I remember watching SUDDENLY SUSAN exactly one time. I tend to do things only one time. Anyway, Brooke Shields is so very pretty but can't act. I use to love sitcoms but the laugh tracks drive me to drink very fine scotch...alone!
Didn't know SYLVIA SYMS the Madam Buddha. What a nickname. I don really like boozy cocktail lounge type songs. I'm more of a Jim Croce type gal.
Nice little Tuesday puzzle, Peter. I will say AWE REVOYER.

Z 9:31 AM  

Best Tuesday ever. What’s remarkable is the low PPP count. Just 20 of 74, 27 %, with two of those 20 arguably not. Keeping it low makes SUDDENLY SUSAN and SYLVIA SYMS fair.

@LMS - Was it the parent or the Ass. Superintendent screaming? And does the Superintendent know? As @Hungry Mother said, there would be repercussions. Indeed, there may have already been a meeting and a warning and a letter added to a file, none of which would have been made public.

@Anon 8:49 - Our Fearless Leader. Said with great respect/sarcasm.

Nancy 9:32 AM  

Reading the blog, I see that there are matching vowels and the progression: A,E,I,O,U,Y. Does that make this a much more impressive job of construction? Absolutely. Would having noticed it while solving have improved my solving experience? Not really. SO SORRY.

pmdm 9:38 AM  

Did you know that Vanilla Fudge is still performing? Maybe about a decade ago (or a little bit longer) I hiked up Bear Mountain (the oldest section of the Appalachian Trail) to the viewpoint. As I was hiking down, I heard the group performing in the area by the Inn. Next year, they will join a number of other oldies groups. Don't believe me? Do a web search for "on the blue cruise".

My face REDDENED when I realized I entered REDFACED in error. Didn't stop me liking the puzzle.

QuasiMojo 9:45 AM  

I’m in a rush today, slept ten hours last night! So no wit or insights from me haha. Just bullet points. I used to go to a lot of Sample Sales in NY. They were not in clothing stores. They were at designers’ ateliers. Sylvia Syms was a legend in NY. I saw her often in the audience at various cabarets. Luckily heard her sing once too. Her albums are worth spotifying. Erle Stanley Gardner was not only a best selling author but an advocate for prison reform. Rex can’t ABIDE seeing the initials NRA in a puzzle but doesn’t cringe at the S.S. as a theme? Re “basket case” yesterday... I learned something. I had always been told the term referred to how mental patients were “treated” in madhouses, by being put into baskets to calm them down and keep them restrained. I knew nothing about the phrase’s actual origins post WWI. That’s why I love this blog. Fun puzzle, if too easy. But a cut above the norm.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

In Syracuse, NY we have poles in all of our fire stations. We use them multiple times a day. Can't speak for any other cities though

Big Steve 46 10:14 AM  

I bet in Chicago, they have Poles in most of their fire houses - probably a few Slovaks, Czechs and Ukranians, too!

RooMonster 10:18 AM  

Hey All !
I join a bunch of y'all missing the vowels progression part of theme. Weird. It seems so obvious once Rex pointed it out. Which made my admiration of this puz way higher than before. I thought the theme was just "S-S" words. Pfft. I thought, "Heck, anyone can do that." But then Rex's write-up about the vowels, and I'm like "DOH! How did I miss that? Wow!" Six themers, with S and vowel progression, symmetrical as puzs need, with light dreck. *CHEER*

@John Hnedak 7:23
AAH is one of those answers were I only fill in the repeaters, as in I put in A_H and wait in crosses. Saves your sanity. Also, clue Mauna ___, write in last A, wait on crosses. There's a few others like that out there.

Laughed at CZAR, of course wrote in tsAR, because that's what it is. CZAR is an alternate spelling, sure, but should be saved for a Political Heads clue.

Hands up for REDfacED here. Once I figured it was wrong, ended up with REDDENED, and get saying "What is RED DENED?" Har. Is that a Reverse DOOK?

@LMS, LOL at your El Ano!


Anonymous 10:22 AM  

@LMS, There's a bully at your school and it's adult in a position of authority.

jberg 10:22 AM  

Having finally trained myself to look for the theme, I still tend to quit as soon as I see what it is, or think I do -- so I thought 'hmm, alliterative S words,' and quit there. Had to come here to see that there was so much more to it. There is an impressive number of downs crossing 2 or 3 themers, as well.

First CZAR I've seen in a long time!

Unknown 10:29 AM  

Didn't notice the vowel progression either and sorry to hear about Jofried's bowel progression, or is that a good thing, maybe? Hmmm?

Nancy 10:31 AM  

@GILL -- "I don't really like boozy cocktail lounge type songs".

So I went to cut and paste two (2) links for you -- trying to put them in the same post. And I ended up with zero (0) links. The whole process began about eight (8) minutes ago. And I can't go through that again. So...

If you don't already know them, may I suggest "One for My Baby" as sung by Sinatra and "Blues in the Night" as sung by Ella. Of course if you already know these torch songs and don't like them...well, we still share an affection for cheese and wine.

I see that @Quasi got to see SYLVIA SYMS in person. I never did. Pretty good, actually, from the link posted by Rex. I very much like her deep throaty voice, even if her diction seems a bit stilted. But she didn't enjoy anything like the career that either Sinatra or Ella enjoyed. I'm wondering if she ever appeared on TV. I suppose she must have, but I don't remember her. She seems like one of those cabaret singers who stayed in her lane. There were/are a lot of them in NYC.

Judith 10:51 AM  

Hot Chocolate shouldn't be forgotten. I dare you to hear "I believe in miracles" (you sexy thing) and not smile! Also featured in The Full Monty, one of the best movies ever.

jb129 11:07 AM  

A very easy Peter Gordon puzzle & over way too soon.

Unknown 11:15 AM  

Should I feel old that I got BAND without too much effort. Maybe it's the fact that I had a Vanilla Fudge LP that makes me old.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

My problem here was 59 down. Out here in my state, I've never heard of the Martin Luther King holiday, nor did I know his birthday was in January. It got me wondering how many states in this country really "observe" this holiday. when I was a kid, Veterans Day was hugely popular in my state, but when I went to college on the coast no one had ever heard of it. We have national holidays, but other than Thanksgiving I don't think we really have national holidays And Thanksgiving was pretty sparse when I lived in San Francisco. My point is that having MLK pass through Sylvia Syms became a Natick for me. I guessed on the M, and even then I was stumped on MLK. My feeling is that if you are going to use him in the puzzle, the initials are demeaning.

Masked and Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Yo, @RP: This one sorta reminded old M&A of yer own 17 Aug 2010 NYTPuz.

This kinda theme is pretty common, but the Gordonmeister did kinda soup it up a notch:
* 6 SS-themers.
* Themers are in SS-alphabetic order.
* SS-themers are symmetric. Couldn't've been real easy to find such a ssix-pack.
* Only 74 words. Leaves room for some extra long-ball fill. Most of em with S's in em, appropriately.

fave clue: {Bye at the French Open?} = AUREVOIR.
Fill is pretty smooth. Coulda almost been a MonPuz … Maybe the SUSAN & SYLVIA themers were considered a dash tough for a Monday solvequest? [M&A happened to vaguely know both, tho.]

staff weeject pick: SSE. Almost theme-related. Backwards, it's even closer.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Gordon.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Banana Diaquiri 11:44 AM  

with CZAR in the solution today, OFL should be pronounced in the voice of Boris Badenov.

GILL I. 11:51 AM  

@Nancy. I guess I should have been more specific....
First....Frank Sinatra NEVER did anything for me. I put him I the same category as Buddy Grecco. Las Vegas Lounge crooning makes me want to fall asleep.
Ella....on the other hand...makes me smile. She doesn't sound boozy; she sounds SEXy.
Overrated lounge lizards are the Liberace, Lola Falana, Charo's of the world.
Let me hear "Pennies From Heaven" by Sarah Vaughn and I melt.
I've heard of SYLVIA SYMS and I listened to @Rex's post. I'm not a fan. She sounds like she does a lot of my new avatar.....
And, you and I have LOTS of music similarities....mine are just better. ;-)

Banana Diaquiri 11:52 AM  

"Although the federal holiday honoring King was signed into law in 1983 and took effect three years later, not every U.S. state chose to observe the holiday at the state level until 1991, when the New Hampshire legislature created "Civil Rights Day" and abolished "Fast Day". In 2000, Utah became the last state to have a holiday named after King when "Human Rights Day" was officially changed to "Martin Luther King Jr. Day."
[the wiki]

some folks would rather MLK Day not exist. just as some folks would rather that he not exist.

Sufferin Succotash 12:00 PM  

Can someone please explain the clue for BRIAN? I just don’t get it

Lewis 12:07 PM  

@quasi -- Get those 10-hour sleeps more often. That was one monster post.

JC66 12:25 PM  

@Sufferin Succotash

"Good name for a dyslexic neurosurgeon?"

A neurosurgeon specializes in the brain.

Someone suffering from dyslexia might reverse the A and I in brain and come up with BRIAN.

Carola 12:47 PM  

I'm among those who hadn't noticed the vowel progression. Thank you, @Rex, for pointing it out.
A quick solve. SUDDENLY SUSAN was an unknown but easy enough to guess; I somehow knew of SYLIVIA SYMS.
@John Hnedak 7:23, same thought here. @Roo Monster, same method here.

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

Pretty easy today, even though I went awry in the SE. LTYRS started to go in when I noticed the S_LV start to 57A and thought (having not read the clue for 57A to the end, as is typical for moi) that it would be a SiLVer something nickname for somebody. I panicked and did all the crosses for 57A before settling back to LTYRS. And yes, I had the ts/czAR writeover, like a BOZO.

REDDENED - I read an article about J.K. Rowling that pointed out how often her Harry Potter characters became RED-faced, pink about the ears, blushed, etc. I don't know about you all, but I almost never blush. And I don't see many people in the wild turning all red even when angry. So it seems to be more of a literary trope than a common reaction. Anyone with a different experience?

I was with @Nancy on the meh-ness of this puzzle until Jeff Chen's opening remarks made me look again at the theme answers. And after having concluded there was no fun in the clues, I re-read them and decided I liked the clues for AU REVOIR and SEX, so it's not completely without CHEER.

Nice Tuesday, Peter Gordon.

QuasiMojo 1:21 PM  

@Lewis, I’ll certainly try! Thank you! But why do I feel like taking a nap now? :) and @Nancy, there was a time when NY was a songlover’s paradise. Did you ever go to Cafe La Fortuna that had the opera singing waiters?

Tan Girl 1:21 PM  

A lot of my friends do crosswords. I’ve asked several of them whether any of them has ever been upset by a crossword answer, be it NRA, Antifa, Che, Mao, etc. None has. I sometimes think Michael Sharp’s virtue signaling is all an act. I mean c’mon man. Get over yourself. It’s a puzzle.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Two easy days in a row. Enjoyable puzzle. Thanks very much.

Penna Resident 2:23 PM  

so many problems with this puzzle:
KIM should not have been clued male. missed opportunity to include more women. 4 is not nearly enough.
UTAH? when do we ban red states from puzzles?
ABS = washboard? so tired of this persistent body shaming.
CZAR. dignifying authoritarianism. whats next, trump?
RARE could have been clued more vegan-friendly. who eats meat anymore.

Banana Diaquiri 2:42 PM  

a girl friend of long ago mentioned, when her daughter went off to Villanova, that she was going to live in Pennsyltucky. I thought she had made that up! turns out, not so much:

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

We all know you're history, but it seems your old girlfriend gets mixed up too. Villanova University is in fact nowhere near what you smugly call Pennsyltucky; it's located in one of the richest stretches in the entire country. It's called the Main Line. Look it up, then disparage the Commonwealth if you must, but at least try to understand your subject before spouting off.

Also, King was a reverend, a deeply religious man. Lots of people would prefer that fact never existed. I see his commitment to civil rights extolled all the time, but its worth remembering that he maintained that those rights were God given, and that racism was a sin and moral deficiency more than a civil failure.

Penna Resident 4:08 PM  

i live in villanova. learn some geography. it might help with crossword puzzles.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

....and how about the anti-semitic Christmas carols/NOELS...and I think there's a mama smurf, Hello!...nice shout out to the mentally challenged with SIMPLESIMON...and I am sure there are ophidiophobia sufferers who were troubled by 66A

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

Dr King was right in what he was doing but wrong about God. However, at least he was true to the christian ideal, unlike the modern kristian kooks who want to oppress everyone that isn't like them.

Loretta Lynn 5:53 PM  

If you drive to Villanova from Ohio or West Virginia or points west you drive straight through Pennsyltucky. I don’t view it pejoratively. It’s just a term that describes that part of Pa. which has more in common with coal miners that with Philadelphia lawyers. Why is everyone so touchy these days? Sheesh.

BarbieBarbie 6:54 PM  

@Hungry, big day for PRs in Delaware. I had one too. Love PG!
Anon@318, it’s pretty hard to write blog comments without virtue signaling. People generally try to present the side of themselves that they like. If it contrasts with other people, it gets more ink. That’s just how personality-driven conversations go. People take it negatively when it gets too obvious, but I’ve seen positive responses to VS here too. Just roll with it or stop reading.

sanfranman59 7:03 PM  

@Anon 11:23 ... FWIW, there are 10 federal holidays in the US: New Year's Day, MLK Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. MLK Day became an official holiday when Reagan signed it into law in 1983. All 50 states have observed it since 2000. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) Where did you go to school where "no one had heard of" Veterans Day??? Seriously?

JC66 7:30 PM  


Welcome back! Where ya been?

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

Anon 3:18

Anonymous 9:35 PM  

I don't think it's a coincidence that NRA appears in the SS puzzle.

sanfranman59 10:04 PM  

@JC66 ... Thanks ... I've been lurking ... I'm not sure why I decided to respond to an anon post. I'm still avidly doing my 4 dailies (LAT, Newsday & WSJ in addition to the NYT) and tracking all my numbers. There didn't seem to be much interest out here in the stats I was posting, so I decided to spare those who get annoyed by statistics and speed-solvers.

EricStratton 10:35 PM  

Oh Rex. You still refuse to acknowledge that the right to keep and bear arms is the most important civil right. Without it the others exist only in theory. That’s OK. When they come for you shoot me a note (!) and I will come over and at least not let you go down without a fight.

JC66 10:48 PM  


Well, I, for one, liked and missed them.

BTW, me too for the same daily puzzles.

Anonymous 11:35 PM  

Could somebody please explain 43 across?

JC66 11:51 PM  

@Anon 11:35

SEX sells (old advertising motto) and SEX cells (Biology 101).

Teedmn 12:07 AM  

@sanfranman59, I always enjoyed your breakdown of the week's puzzles from your point of view.

Sufferin Succotash 12:12 AM  

Thank you kindly, JC. Seems so obvious now.

Burma Shave 10:26 AM  


I thought,



The witches’ SECRETSERVICE caused HAVOC and RUIN:


thefogman 10:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 10:43 AM  

Good puzzle. I got the S-S gimmick early on but did not notice the vowel progression until I came here. Well done Peter Gordon! I'm a little REDFACED to say I had a DNF - close, but no sitar... I had eSE for 60D because I did not know about SYLVIASYMS and I have a dysfunctional compass - navigational that is. My morale one is still intact in spite of it all.

spacecraft 11:15 AM  

Hand up for not noticing the V.P. That elevates it to passable. Also for thinking BOob before great word BOZO. Is SAMPLESALE a thing? Never saw one or heard the term. Intriguing little SAMPLE/SIMPLE connection there.

DOD competition is fierce. UHURA's Nichols is there for a curtain call, and Brooke from the clue and the amazing Ms. SYMS, but for me it's Jeri Ryan as SEVEN of Nine.

Isn't stuff like APOP and ENERO getting a little old? This fill is LTYRS away from solid, but overall I think we can eke out a par.

rondo 2:32 PM  

Got the SS thing after the second one, but didn’t notice the progression *and* the sometimes Y until filling in SYLVIASYMS (of whom I knew nothing). So that’s better than lotsa Tuesdays.

The Dude ABIDEs. Marianne Faithfull = BAND BOX. SIMPLESIMON says.

@spacey – I think you’ve got something there with SEVEN of Nine. Yeah baby.

ILOST no time to write-overs. OK puz.

leftcoastTAM 4:31 PM  

Too easy and familiar -- until getting to the SW.

Never heard of the two bands, was so sure the Star Trek guy was UHURu, and ended with BuND(!).

Bland enough theme (although didn't get the second-letter thing) and ended up a little REDDENED (in the face).

leftcoastTAM 6:01 PM  

Oops! (now more red in the face). UHURA was not a "guy" but a gal and, I understand, a very comely one.

Diana, LIW 8:12 PM  

Completed this, quickly, whilst watching HGTV. So I, too, Missed the vowel run. Pretty kewel.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for @Rainforest to return

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