Oral only / TUE 7-2-19 / Former fast jet in brief / Any class vinyl record / Graphic representation of history / Establishment that might have a lot of hogs in front

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Medium (I was slow because of sleepiness and typo) (3:56)

THEME: Actors who share their initials with a signature role they played —

Theme answers:
  • MARK RUFFALO (17A: Actor with the same initals as Michael Rezendes, his role in "Spotlight")
  • LIZA MINNELLI (11D: Actress with the same initals as Linda Marolla, her role in "Arthur")
  • JAMES STEWART (25D: Actor with the same initials as Jefferson Smith, his role in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington")
  • JOHN BELUSHI (62A: Actor with the same initials as Jake Blues, his role in "The Blues Brothers")
Word of the Day: "ERIN go bragh!" (34D: "___ go bragh") —
Erin go Bragh /ˌɛrɪn ɡə ˈbrɑː/, sometimes Erin go Braugh, is the anglicisation of an Irish language phrase, Éirinn go Brách, and is used to express allegiance to Ireland. It is most often translated as "Ireland Forever." (wikipedia)
• • •

So a recurring pattern in my solving, of late (and possibly of forever) is sputtering in, or possibly even mangling, the NW corner (always my starting point), after which I come reeling out of said corner, right myself, and torch the rest of the grid. I just wish I could find a way to make my puzzle entry a little ... smoother. It's not that surprising, this pattern. I mean, *of course* I have the most trouble with the grid at the beginning—the point at which I have literally the least amount of information to go on. Still, there has to be a way to close the time between when I start and when I have my bearings, both themewise and just general gridwise. Actually, the gridwise part is the most important. I can often move very swiftly through a grid before I've any idea what is going on with the theme. But I also think I'm theme-negligent at times, possibly to my detriment. Stopping or slowing down to cogitate on the nature of the theme feels time-wasteful. I figure it'll shout at me or it won't, and if I really have to stop and think about it, well then I will.

Today, had only a slight idea of the theme, even after I finished. I never got past the initial (ha) stages of the theme—that is, I just looked took it as an "actor with these initials" theme, never fully grasping that the initials were from roles they'd played. That latter bit might've helped, but maybe not. Anyway, could not come up with a MARK R- actor at all, and never saw "Spotlight" (though I guess I do know MR was in that, now that I think of it). Without RUFFALO, the upper middle was weirdly hard for me. OFF too vague to get (6D: Not working), DEARTH unexpectedly SAT-ish (8D: Lack), and OLDIE very weirdly clued (6A: Any classic vinyl record)—what is this clue doing? "Classic" is going the "old" work for you, so why is "vinyl" in there? It's like you want "vinyl" to signify "old," but you've semi-redundantly got "classic" in there because of course there are still vinyl records being made, so you get an awful clue. Any "classic" anything is an OLDIE. Also, an OLDIE is a singular song, and I do not think of '45s as "vinyl records" (though they are). That clue just feels botched. I have a lot of "vinyl records," so maybe I'm taking it all too personally. Also, "Any" classic vinyl record???? Just ... pick one? OOF that clue is OFF.

When I managed to get out of the corner, things took off, and I ended up liking the puzzle reasonably well. The actors and roles are all famous enough; this could easily have resulted in at least one actor or (more likely) role that was, let's say, less than iconic. But these hold up. The fill is crosswordesey in perhaps a few too many places, and ASALARK is really icky, but I enjoyed BIKERBAR and OTHERWISE and even UNWRITTEN, though holy moly I Could Not process the clue, entirely because of "only." [Oral only] sounds ... it sounds ... it sounds like its context is something other than storytelling. Like a clue in a much bluer kind of puzzle. Just baffling to me. Also, we humans call him JIMMY STEWART (which would've fit, come on!). I no-looked both NORMALCY and JOHN BELUSHI. Had their last few letters and just threw the rest of the answer across. Very risky behavior, but it paid off today. Wrote in MINGLED instead of MINGLES at 48D: Is sociable at a party), which was a dumb and costly mistake. Ended up with DUE ME at 72A: "So I was wrong." Sounded vaguely sexual. Like [Oral only], kinda.

I'm out of here for the next ten days or so. Headed out to (Denver, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Moab!!). Seeing my mom and sister, and doing a little side road trip with my wife. Lots of different people are gonna be filling in for me, many of them first-timers, so who knows what the hell they'll do. Things could get nuts. Or they could stay very even-keeled. We'll see. Please tune in and support my gracious guest hosts. I'll see you again soon.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 7:05 AM  

@rex -- Wishing you well on your trip!

Leave it to Peter to come up with a theme that has never been done before -- a totally original theme -- yet one so simple and obvious, it makes me think, "Why has this never been done before?"

Which makes me realize that there are things out there that are waiting to be discovered that ought to have already been discovered! Which is exciting and disquieting at the same time.

And ironic. I should have realized this long ago.

Jeremy 7:09 AM  

@rex some young folks these days call any song a “record,” no matter how they listen to it, so vinyl feels important for millennials. (See any interview of Chance the Rapper talking about his music, for example.) I would naturally assume that a record was vinyl, but tons of folks wouldn’t.

Jeremy 7:11 AM  

Though come to think of it, you’re right, “classic” is doing all the work. Vinyl *is* redundant.

OffTheGrid 7:19 AM  

I had trouble with the north central, too. Had Out for not working. Didn't know MARK. Had OLDlp for vinyl. I don't know Spanish so I was stuck. I googled "Mark Ru" and that got me redirected. I liked the puzzle just fine. Coincidentally I ran across THIS GEM the other day.

Irene 7:24 AM  

Come on Rex, admit it. This was a terrific puzzle for a Tuesday: fresh, smart and fun to solve.

kitshef 7:27 AM  

I can't recall enjoying a theme less. [Well, sure I can. Any quote theme.] Third-rate, pointless Hollywood Trivia masquerading as something I should care about.

Also, Rex missed ANTHONY HOPKINS/Alfred Hitchcock as a themer. I give him a pass on that. Prepping for vacation eats up a lot of time.

QuasiMojo 7:41 AM  

This theme reminded me of a trailer I just saw for that new DeLorean movie. It says "Alec Baldwin is Alec Baldwin." I guess someone felt the idea of him portraying the title character didn't work? Anyway I have to disagree with the others. This seemed like a dumb theme. I'm not surprised it hasn't been done before. Who cares that the initials are the same? Especially with these "oldie" actors. Also the phrase is "on a lark" not "as a lark." And I know some doodlers who are anything but idle. And then there's ATEAM, CNOTE, IKNOW, IBEAM, and I guess you could add ASIDE. Any puzzle with NBAERS seems subpar. SUEME.

Joe R. 8:06 AM  

I had trouble in the west for two reasons. First was AS A LARK, which I've always heard as "on a LARK". I wonder if that's a regional distinction.

But my bigger problem was that the NY Times doesn't know how to escape special characters in their clues in the app. In the official NYT crossword app, the clue for 30D reads: What ". That's it. So I had no idea what the heck they were going for, and needed pretty much all the crosses to get it. It wasn't until I finished and looked at the puzzle on my laptop that I could see what the clue was supposed to be. Shame on you, NYT.

pabloinnh 8:22 AM  

I'm with @Joe R.--should be "on a lark". I dunno, I just did it ASALARK, said no one ever. And DEARTH took forever, even with most of the letters. Great word.

Liked seeing the "Blues Brothers" reference. My go-to Halloween getup for school was always one of the brothers (Which one? Don't know.) mainly because I inherited my Dad's wonderful black fedora, and the rest of the outfit was easy enough to assemble. Hey look! the kids would say--One of the Men in Black! I would then show them the amazing chase/car crash scene from the end of the movie, just so they'd know what they were missing. The work of an educator is never done.

Nice enough Tuesday gimmick, but I think these were all movies I hadn't seen or forgotten. Everything else, smooth as a smelt. Thanks PG.

Joel Palmer 8:30 AM  

Normalcy is a made up word for normality

Nancy 8:42 AM  

I wonder if there's a computer program that can research this sort of thing? Because this must be a real pain in the neck to research on your own, without computer help. (Unless long-forgotten screen character names like Linda Marolla and Jefferson Smith are somehow emblazoned on your memory. They're can't be, can they, Peter Gordon?)

But all that work, all that effort in managing to come up with these mildly interesting coincidences -- and then the solver arrives. Fizzle, fizzle. The solver snoozes her way through it. At least this one did. All the same initials theme accomplished was to make a much-too-easy puzzle even easier. I wish less time had been spent on the research and more time had been spent on making the clues livelier and more colorful.

Whatsername 8:43 AM  

I liked this very much, a fun fast Tuesday morning solve, although to me it seemed easy enough for a Monday. Love each and every every theme actor and have seen all the movies except one yet never realized the characters and actors shared initials. What a clever idea for a crossword! As @Lewis said- why didn’t someone think of this before? Great job Mr. Gordon!

Melba T. 8:53 AM  

I know “on a lark” but I had never heard of “as a lark” before this morning. What’s with the superfluous “literally” in the review. I thought he was an English professor.

Crimson Devil 9:15 AM  

Hand up for ONALARK, always have heard such; never AS....
OTHERWISE nice Tues puz.

Nancy 9:22 AM  

They can't be. I originally wrote: "They're not, are they?" and changed it. Why don't I ever remember to proofread before pressing "Submit"?

Seems that @Quasi and I had the same reaction to this puzzle.

RooMonster 9:23 AM  

Hey All !
No one noticed the 16 long grid? Well, it is. :-) Why? Peter needs to come here and shed some light.

Anyway, theme was cool in the fact of the Actor's initials matching the characters they played. I'm sure it's happened more than we realize. Kinda not too thrilled about ANTHONY HOPKINS being switched in linear Acrosses. Although, now that I look at it, theoretically it is first name first (as in, the left side of grid), last name last (on the right of grid), si I guess it works.

Lots of good fill. Not too many ERRs today. album-OLDIE, eatIN-ATEIN.

Rex finishes in 3 minutes and change, and then complains he starts out too slow. Funny stuff. I finished in 3x Rex. Which is fast for me. And I'm not complaining. :-)


jberg 9:25 AM  

Having a lot of electrical work done and they just took down my internet-/ so a quick note from my phone. The trouble with the theme is that each clue gives it away— there’s no extra level to puzzle out.

@Joe Palmer, Calvin Coolidge might beg to disagree. And note that the clue is an unusual word form as well.

Outside The Box 9:26 AM  

The clue for “bikerbar” seems to suggest there are pigs in front of the establishment. It should have read Hogs
(capitalized) instead. While some Hogs may be pigs, many of us aren’t. For the uninitiated, Hogs are Harley Davidson riders and HOG (all caps) stands for Harley Owners Group.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Wow. This was bad. The theme clues essentially say, "find the actor with these initials who starred in this movie." It's a rote exercise. And the theme answers are all white, with at least two of the five has-beens or dead.

There was nothing snappy or fresh or new about this puzzle. Just because it's Tuesday, it doesn't have to be boring. I especially hated seeing the all-too-common ATEAM in 1 across. Like many people, I start the puzzle there, and it's a downer to fill in a word it seems I've written 10 times in puzzles every other day.


tim 9:49 AM  

I believe "a return to normalcy" was Warren Harding's (post-WWI) campaign slogan.

puzzlehoarder 10:00 AM  

A Monday level Tuesday. Today's solve was ten seconds faster than yesterday's. Not surprising for a theme based on easily recognized names surrounded by easy fill.

Joaquin 10:08 AM  

I’ve been retired for 10+ years, and with no set schedule I sometimes lose track of just what day it is. Having an “easy even for a Monday” puzzle on a Tuesday, isn’t helping me one bit!

kitshef 10:10 AM  

Re: "as a lark", I do hear that, but only as part of "happy as a lark".

Malsdemare 10:11 AM  

I don't have a lot to say here. Puzzle didn't knock my socks off but as a Tuesday work out, it did the job. I winced a little at the SHE/HIM pairing. "That's HIM" is in the vernacular though grammatically incorrect, while "That's SHE," while correct sounds pretty arch and, well, "la di da." I'd have preferred consistency, but the neighborhood was too diverse for that.

Back home after a family vacation in Emerald Isle. Miss the kids and grands like crazy but delighted to get the sand out of my toes. I'm more a mountains' girl myself but the majority likes the ocean, and being together obliterates any mild preference I may have. So home to work, dogs, weeds, overgrown lawn, and quiet.

Newboy 10:14 AM  

Buffaloed briefly by that Mark guy in the NW, but bellied right up to the trough with all the bar hogs after that less than auspicious start. Maybe Rex can drop by the blog with a traveling link or two? Finding what he likes might calm a few of his resident critics? And will he have lunch with Evil Doug? Looking forward to the new guest commentaries 😉

Hungry Mother 10:22 AM  

Super fast, unlike my running. I’ve been investigating my genealogy lately, working with DNA and haplogroups, so RNA seemed familiar.

ArtO 10:22 AM  

I've been lurking but not blogging for a while but thought I'd pop in to express an opinion on what seems to be a constant recurrence with OFL. It seems whenever his time is a bit slower than normal, it was because..."I just woke up", "had a little drink," the theme is poor, etc. i.e. always an excuse. As for today, how could the NW be tough with the ATEAM and ATM gimmes?

Newboy 10:27 AM  

Forgot to thank Offthegrid for his GEM 💎 link which was definitely worth the listen even without being on Vinyl.

Frog Prince Kisser 10:28 AM  

Yup - 30D in the app should have read: What “<“ means.

Mini theme?: Doubles: TATA SOSO TUTU

Fun, fast Tuesday solve. Thanks PG!

David 10:34 AM  

Movie people. Meh.

I can't possibly be the only person who's heard "as a lark" used.

"Oldies" is a very specific Radio station genre. I have a few thousand vinyl records yet very few "oldies".

In my youth, Hog referred specifically to the Electra Glide and not to other Harleys or their riders. Interesting to hear how that's changed.

In my NYT app version, the clue for 30D is "Symbol above the comma on a keyboard"

"Return to normalcy". Yeah, that ain't gonna happen any time soon.

Z 10:49 AM  

Who are these people GASP! making up new words?

Hand up for the Meh! reaction. That actors and their characters share initials on occasion strikes me as a big yawner. @Nancy - Mr Gordon is just the sort of guy who would have known all these and more without relying on a database.

@Outside the Box - “Hog” is also slang for the motorcycle, and the clue references all the Harley’s outside a BIKER BAR. I’ve never heard HOG used to reference a Harley owner, but I’ve only ever known two well and neither was the sort to join a Harley Owner Group. Anyway, I don’t think slang for the cycles would need capitalization.

On the LAM, AS A LARK, on a LARK... I’m fine with either LARK as clued, but I’ve never really known what a LAM is. Can one being anything other than “on the LAM? Is the word use any other way ever? Who made up the word and why do we still use it?

Joseph M 10:54 AM  

I associate this constructor with proper nouns, so it was no surprise that the theme consisted of more names. The fact that the featured actors have the same initials as their roles was underwhelming to say the least.

Must add to the objections to AS A LARK. Maybe it would work as a description of how one dressed for Halloween. OTHERWISE no. Just no. And, by the way, he was usually known JIMMY Stewart.

I did like BIKER BAR and SUE ME. But, for this solver, this puzzle provided a DEARTH of enjoyment.

Z 11:01 AM  

NORMALCY Is almost as old “normality.” Personally amused by the use of “purists” in the link. I have a different term I use. Anyway, it’s common usage is 100 years old, whatever we think of Harding’s linguistic stylings. Being one syllable shorter and keeping the same stresses as the root, I think NORMALCY is the better word. I suspect “regularness” is a nod to the “purists,” and also avoids the gastric implications of “regularity.”

jb129 11:27 AM  

Fun, but very easy for a Peter Gordon puzzle.

jae 11:28 AM  

Easy. My experience was the same as @puzzlehoarder’s. Not bad for a Tues. Liked it more than some of you did.

nyc_lo 11:43 AM  

A great puzzle for film buffs, so I'm willing to overlook the horrible NBAERS, which sadly has become acceptable crosswordese. Not bothered by the whole JAMES v. Jimmy debate, since he was credited as JAMES in nearly everything he ever appeared in, some TV work aside. So it sounded perfectly natural to me. MARKRUFFALO was the only one to give me pause, but that’s my own fault for not having seen “Spotlight” yet.

Mary McCarty 11:58 AM  

Malsdemare re: 64D, 65D: neither clue had any reference to syntax, so either subjective or objective case is correct. I thought it kinda clever that the constructor changed it up on us. The fact that you find the correct use of the nominative/subject case “la-di-dah” indicates how tolerant we’ve become of poor grammar.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Though come to think of it, you’re right, “classic” is doing all the work. Vinyl *is* redundant.

??? I have CD re-masters of 'classic' jazz from the 1920s. There are current vinyl releases, and more each day, as well as oldie/classic vinyl pressings just going out the door. Virtually any 'oldie' anyone can name is now on CD, and many on new vinyl.

So, let's parse: Any classic vinyl record
any classic record - can be new vinyl, old vinyl, CD all with old music
any vinyl record - can be new vinyl with new music, new vinyl with old music, old/old

Joe Dipinto 12:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caffeineandire 12:22 PM  

As a cinephile, I loved this puzzle. Mostly because I've never made the same-initials correlation with any of these roles, all of which I recognize. 30D gave me pause because I was only working Down clues and ASALARK made zero sense without reading the clue. Having looking at the Across clues after finishing, 6A should've been, "classic on the radio."

Side note, people complaining about movie clues should get out more.

13:55, working only Down clues, which is my new thing for M-W. Personal best.

WhatDoing 12:38 PM  

I am often reminded how liberating it feels to be unshackled from the pressure of completing these crosswords as quickly as possible. My times are decent but would be better if I took steps to limit distractions, print out the puzzle and just fill with wild abandon. I realize others differ.

The inclusion of OLDIES seems like the perfect opportunity to promote my own blog, in which I listen to the entire catalogues of both Prince and David Bowie, one song at a time. Catch it at princevbowie.blogspot.com. Please. You could be the first to comment!

JC66 1:04 PM  

@Joe D

Couldn't agree more that the ATE IN clue (Didn't do takeout at a restaurant) is just awful.

IMO, best comment of the day goes to @Z's gastric implications of “regularity.”

Joe Dipinto 1:07 PM  

Put me with @Nancy and @Quasi and everyone else who thought this was a big nothing. It boils down to a list of random actors. The fact that they happened to play characters with their own initials once doesn't make them crossworthy as a group.

Let's talk about the clue for 54d: "Didn't do takeout at a restaurant", the answer to which is ATE IN. It seems to me that if you order takeout at a restaurant you *are* planning to bring the food home and eat in. Eating out means getting a table in the restaurant and eating the food there. So wtf is up with that?

Anyway. It'd be a good day to hit the beach if it weren't so cloudy. So, apropos of 6a and 71a, here's WABC Radio's #9 song for this week in 1964 to take us there instead.

Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes he smiles but she doesn't see

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

My coworker asked me how the commentariat felt about this puzzle because he and I were underwhelmed with the theme, as so many here were. It was easy but I had my share of writeovers so it did provide the proper amount of Tuesday entertainment.

_L___ as 6A's "Any classic vinyl record" became aLbum and messed up the north central pretty badly until DEARTH was unearthed. I messed up my brother a couple of Christmases ago. He always asks me for suggestions in music for his present to me so I use that opportunity to ask for a few "classic" releases that I want but am reluctant to shell out for when I'm at the record store. I get all my music on CDs still but this time, in my text to him, I used the word "album" which to me covers any multiple song release but to him meant 33 1/3 LP vinyl record. I was shocked to get two LPs as my Christmas present - I haven't owned a turntable in decades. Not only that, they were remastered and cost a pretty penny (brother left the receipt in the package by mistake.) So when I returned the LPs to the store and used the store credit to buy CDs, I got seven CDs in exchange for the two which is a much bigger present than I usually get from my brother!

Like @Joe R 8:06, I heard "on A LARK" in my head for 29A but held off on the "on" because I had my suspicions. I think @kitshef is onto something with "happy AS A LARK" being where that belongs.

tea73 1:22 PM  

I might have finished this in record time if I had remembered how BELUSHI spelled his name and hadn't put in Ass instead of APE making it harder for HOPKINS name to come to mind. But any day I'm at 2x instead of the usual 3x, I'm happy.

I didn't find the theme that interesting, but enough of a cinephile to enjoy it anyway.

Masked and Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Peter Gordon always likes movies-related clues & answers, so this is a big hunk out of his M.O. Knew all the actors/actresses, and had seen all the movies. MARKRUFFALO will surely be the toughest get of the litter, tho.

Lotsa cool longball answers in this puppy. Also, nice twinge of desperation, with ASALARK.

Weeject stacks artistically adorn all four puzcorners today. staff weeject pick was tough, as nuthin stood out. Will go with TAJ, as it is at least a TAU-teaser.

I don't see a single ?-clue in the whole entire clue portfolio. Astoundin. That doesn't seem like part of the Gordon M.O. at all, even for a TuesPuz. Needed a little somethin to juice things up, maybe -- as the theme was good but non-humor oriented.
Clue for UNWRITTEN was at least kinda cryptic-like.
OLDIES clue didn't throw m&e at all, btw. Unless U wanna argue over whether stuff like Scheherazade on vinyl is an OLDIE, or not, I reckon.

Thanx for the fun with flicks, Mr. Gordon.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

yo, @RP: Have just a wonderful trip.
Santa Fe is A1-primo … especially the downtown area. We always stay at the Inn on the Alameda; kinda expensive, but nice parkin, and a 3-block walk from downtown, and they feed U a great breakfast and afternoon wine/cheese hour.
Georgia O'Keeffe's art museum is a near-must. Folk Art museum is cute.
Tomasita's, the Shed, and about a hundred other great Mexican restaurants there'bouts. There's even a place with terrific Mexican breakfasts downtown, just a bit off the square, if U stay at a crashpad without breakfast included.

QuasiMojo 2:19 PM  

@Joe DiPinto someone should write a song called "The Girl from IPA NEMO," about a bikini-clad beauty who dazzles beachcombers with her use of arcane crosswordese.

Runs with Scissors 2:40 PM  

I remember enjoying the solve last night, woke up and couldn't remember anything about the puzzle. Underwhelmed enough I can't be bothered to go look.

@Mary McCarthy 11:58 - Case is pretty non-existent in English. It's okay to let it go.

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

Crimson Devil 2:42 PM  

Enjoyed adding DEARTH to short list of favorite words this week, also includes GLOMS.

Joe Dipinto 3:26 PM  

@Quasi -- good idea.
When she passes, she smiles and says,"Etui!"

Z 3:52 PM  

Anyone watching the Women’s Semifinals match notice the Verizon ad? He didn’t say “normality.”

Z 3:55 PM  

@JC66 - Thanks, but I nominate @Quasimojo’ Girl from IPA NEMO.

RooMonster 4:02 PM  

Relooked at grid, now I see why it is 16 long. The two Down names are 12's, which would leave a block and then only two squares. Takes the ole brain a minute or two to work properly. :-) And they intersect ANTHINY HOPKINS. Nice.

Have a fun trip, Rex. Don't get in too much trouble!


Malsdemare 4:20 PM  

@Mary McCarty. I'm sorry I wasn't more clear. I know either could be correct depending upon the usage; I just found the juxtaposition disconcerting. As a copy editor, I'm one of the grammarians who says, "This is she" to phone queries. But in casual conversation, saying "That's she" sounds stilted.

Ellen S 4:20 PM  

My high school biology teacher said “as a lark”, asking a small gang of us why we had decided it would be fun to sign her in at the office before she had arrived at school. It was over 60 years ago but I remember, because we got caught.

We didn’t get caught somehow breaking into the records and looking at our IQ scores. Strangely, we were all really good at taking IQ tests. Not so good at avoiding pointless risky behavior. I was sorrier about that caper than I was about the sign-in sheet, though: I noticed my raw score stayed the same year after year, but my age got bigger so the result was, the “Quotient” kept getting smaller. I was good at math and calculated that a little after I graduated from college I probably wouldn’t be able to tie my own shoes. I hadn’t yet read “Flowers for Algernon” (a year or two later, I guess), but I felt like that, seeing my mental decline start, and knowing it was not going to stop.

chefwen 4:40 PM  

I like this one, nice to get a leg up filling in all the first letters of the theme answers. I didn’t know 17A, but once I had MARK R in place I said “Oh yeah, that RUFFALO guy”.

No Wite Out needed today. @gthree, from yesterday. I’m a little old fashioned and like to do the puzzle on paper using ink because it’s a lot easier to read than lead pencil.

@Rex, safe travels.

Joe Bleaux 4:53 PM  

I’m posting late because I’m sorta hoping no one will dignify my tawdry question with a response, but ... Am I the only solver who read the 18D clue and, just for one awful moment, wondered if the answer could possibly allude to Bill Clinton? (I’m so sorry. I won’t comment again before Labor Day, I promise.)

JC66 5:01 PM  

@Z et al

Late to the game, but @Joe Bleaux* (above) takes the cake.

*Don't make us wait that long.

Peter P 5:54 PM  

Both "on a lark" and "as a lark" are expressions in English. See: Merriam-Webster: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/on/as%20a%20lark

Also, "for a lark": https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/lark

I didn't even flinch when I saw "as a lark," as both that and "on a lark" are common in my experience. Surprised so many people have only heard as "on a lark." (I even did a quick sanity check at a message board I frequent, and "as a lark" meaning something like "spontaneously fun" was commonly used. Even this recent Chicago Tribune article (May 12, 2019), uses the phrase: http://digitaledition.chicagotribune.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=7b1b7f8d-d209-4631-9f40-6a3118143b85

"Much as I love accessories (especially jewelry), I’ve never been a fan of ankle bracelets. Well, maybe as a lark on the beach on some island vacation."

Perhaps it is regional, but it's not some weird, made-up phrase for the purpose of the crossword.

Z 7:05 PM  

@JC66 - Agreed. Seems too fitting an observation from a guy with that nom de blog, though.

I had the following all set to go on my iPad, but never hit publish:

@Outside the Box - Origin of “hog” The same story is repeated almost verbatim on several sites, including an archived timeline from an old Harley-Davidson corporate website that is linked to on the wikipedia page about the company, so it seems to be legit.

Aketi 8:11 PM  

@Quasi, @Z, and @Joe Bleaux, you made my day. The puzzle didn’t.

Joe Dipinto 8:59 PM  

On Tuesday July 2nd, would-be presidential spouse Asa Lark was spotted in the New York Times Crossword. Some eyewitnesses were dismayed by his appearance, saying that it really should have been his wife Ona, the actual candidate for the presidency, who attended the event.

"That's okay", said Mrs. Lark, as she likes to call herself. "Asa's been keeping such a low profile lately, I told him he really should get out there more to greet my supporters. I want them to see what I have to put up with at home, and why I'm running, so to speak."

Not all attendees were happy with this explanation.. Pabloinnh felt, "It should be Ona." Teedmn was "suspicious" of the ploy, while Joseph M was adamantly against it: "No. Just no."

Others didn't care one way or the other about the marital switch-up. "I'm fine with either Lark," said an attendee who went by the letter Z.

In any case, Mr. Lark's presence was soon eclipsed by that of actor Anthony Hopkins, who came in and took a seat across the aisle.

Runs with Scissors 9:22 PM  

@Joe Bleaux, your comment was enough to make me go back and look. Almost did a nose-beer spurt. Thanks!

Nancy 10:54 PM  

@Joe Dipinto (8:59) -- You've been cracking me up all day. Your post just now is delightful, but not nearly as funny as your blog profile. You see, I was intrigued earlier by your comment that it would have been a wonderful beach day had it not been cloudy. I went to your profile to see where you live, since I thought today in NYC was humid and highly unpleasant, and that the clouds were the best part of it, only there weren't enough of them. I discovered that you also live in NYC, but in another borough. But while glancing at your profile, I happened to look down and see what you listed under "Favorite Books". And I laughed out loud -- and really, really hard. Absolutely hilarious!!!

Anonymous 11:31 PM  

In Bubba Land, and the housing project I grew up in, Bill was right: he didn't have sex with that woman. One ain't the other. The Left Wing Loonies always want to split hairs, but in Bubba's case it's all the same.

Joe Dipinto 11:52 PM  

@Nancy -- I thought I've mentioned here that I live in Brooklyn. Anyway I just checked out *your* profile and that's a very nice photo of Central Park lake (I think?). You have a lot more details in yours. I agree with you on Dylan, btw -- never could stand his voice. But I do like "Psycho".

Well I do have a soft spot for our little unfinished opus. And I have it all saved, in case we want to reboot it at some point. Copies available upon request...

Unknown 12:26 AM  

This was easy for me. I equaled my best Tuesday time and might have bested it had it not been for my initial misspelling of Ruffalo. Anyway, this was surprisingly smooth and enjoyable for me.

Burma Shave 9:04 AM  


IKNOW there are UNWRITTEN rules,
and a DEARTH of ETHICs to park cars,
but nothing LESSTHAN half-BAKEd fools
would park MOPEDS at BIKERBARs.


rondo 9:39 AM  

Yeah, I had JiMmySTEWART and then onALARK before checking crosses. ATEAM, IBEAM, and CNOTE are sure to get @spacey’s attention; they coulda done it to ASIDE, too. Even in an over-size grid 26 threes is too many. SUEME if I'm wrong.

The only line in any of LIZAMINNELLI’s movies that I recall might never even have been spoken: “Would you like to peel a tomato?” SHE had it written on a sign. Yeah baby for that.

I wouldn’t be able to pick MARKRUFFALO out of a line-up. Does he belong? Which one of these is not like the others?

OTHERWISE, a LESSTHAN ordinary Tues-puz.

spacecraft 11:20 AM  

Actually, I'm kinda getting used to the more common, in-the-language letter add-ons, of which these three (listed by @rondo) are examples. Much more troubling to me is the horrid 50-down, an entry without which this puzzle surely would have scored a solid birdie.

Know what would have been hilarious? "Actor with the same initials as John Malkovich, his role in "Being John Malkovich." The ultimate gimme. But these themers are fine, agreeing that the leadoff one is the outlier. Lots of very nice fill; it almost seems as though the constructor tired of his efforts to keep it clean by the time he finished up in the SW. Surely that can be reworked to get 50-down out of there.

Hand up for (IMO) the far more common onALARK. Caused a writeover. I like pairing symmetrical entries: MARITAL MINGLES: a swingers club? OTHERWISE UNWRITTEN: Trump's tweets? Ick, enough of that. DOD LIZAMINNELLI makes a rare appearance. A little too easy, but clues were dumbed down to fit the Tuesday slot. Sadly, there's a DEARTH of YACHTS in my life. I gotta go see the Penguin. Birdie, anyway.

leftcoast 1:32 PM  

Easy AND clever. Finding and fitting those initialed names is a pretty impressive work of construction and a fun solve to boot.

Not OTHERWISE bothered by tcrosswordese in this very nicely done piece of work by PG.

Diana, LIW 2:23 PM  

And here I thought Alfred Hitchcock played Alfred Hitchcock - is all those cameos. Silly me.

Kind of just spot on for a Tuesday. Noted the @Spacey-esque "letter then word" answers, as did @Rondo. And then the NBA came into play...

We have an SST, a TIARA, a STYE, and an ASTER - where is my Oreo? (I guess they're the DEARTH today)

Diana, LIW

rondo 4:45 PM  

@D,LIW - your OREO is in the Universal Crossword (edited by DS)today

Anonymous 7:12 PM  

I thought the theme was merely so-so, but what brought me here was the clumsy clue for OLDIE. I like to get sanity checks for clues I think are bad, so I'm glad Rex and everyone else agree. Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" is an oldie even though I have it on my iPod, and Pachelbel's Canon isn't considered an oldie just because my parents have a vinyl record of it from the 1950s; classic vinyl record doesn't equal oldie.

To me, AS A LARK sounds more natural than "on a lark" (though I wouldn't flinch at either), so maybe it's a regional matter. It was fun to see BIKER BAR in a puzzle, and it was a witty clue with "hog" being longtime slang for a motorcycle.

Thanks to the answer starting LIZAM... (what else could it be?) and the above-average number of across clues, this was the rare 15x16 grid where I deduced the nonstandard height early on, before making a mess of the graph paper and wondering why answers weren't fitting.

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