Old cornball variety show with Buck Owens / TUE 12-24-19 / Ghostbusters character Spengler / Carpenter's decorative molding / Director of 2000s Charlie's Angels to film fans / Black-purple fruit from palm tree

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Easyish (timer didn't start, so I don't know how easy, but ... somewhere on the Easy side)

THEME: BARBERSHOP / QUARTET (54A: With 63-Across, singing group .... or a hint to the ends of the answers to the four starred clues) — there are four (a quartet!) themers, each of which ends with a word for what barbers do to hair:

Theme answers:
  • COLD CUT (15A: *Bologna, e.g.)
  • BINDER CLIP (18A: *Device for holding papers together)
  • WINDOW TRIM (32A: *Carpenter's decorative molding)
  • BUMPER CROP (43A: *Abundant harvest)
Word of the Day: McG (13D: Director of 2000's "Charlie's Angels," to film fans) —
Joseph McGinty Nichol (born August 9, 1968), known professionally as McG, is an American director, producer, and former record producer.
He began his career in the music industry, directing music videos and producing various albums. He later rose to prominence with his first film, Charlie's Angels (2000), which had the highest-grossing opening weekend for a directorial debut at the time. Since then, he has directed several other films, including Charlie's Angels sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Terminator Salvation, co-created the television series Fastlane and has executive produced numerous television programs, such as The O.C.Chuck, and Supernatural.
McG also owns a production company, Wonderland Sound and Vision, founded in 2001, which has overseen the production of the films and television shows he has worked on since Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. (wikipedia)
• • •

Finished this quickly, with no idea of what the theme was. Looking it over after the fact, I think it works fine. Very old-fashioned at its core (a "last words"-type theme, where final words of themers all belong to the same category or otherwise have something in common), but with a revealer that gives it a little spice (with both parts of the revealer being relevant to the expression of the theme, i.e. cutting takes place in a BARBERSHOP, and there are a QUARTET of themers that end in cutting verbs). Solid. The fill is a little ... well, oddly adjectival, for one. EPOCHAL is one thing, but AREOLAR!? I'm sure it's real, but yikes. There were some other mildly cringey moments. UNWEAVE? I guess Penelope kinda does this in The Odyssey, but it's not exactly an everyday activity. EKED BY? That one feels off somehow. You'd say you "got by." You'd say you "eked out ... a living." EKED BY feels again like something that's defensible, but not exactly crisp and in-the-language. The grid was also pretty namey, in potentially treacherous ways. EGON probably isn't known to everyone. Ditto Spud WEBB. And those answers abut one another. Hopefully you know STIEG, or else you're in real trouble. EGON / NEA should obviously be EGOS / SEA, but since you've already got AT SEA in the grid, you can't use SEA again. I probably would've gone with EGOT / TEA (EGOT = Emmy Grammy Oscar Tony, a quartet that very few people possess). But I think the crosses are ultimately fair here.

Mistakes, I made a few. And, lucky for you, not too few to mention. First, forgot MCG was a thing, so that was weird. That's another one where fair crosses are essential, because that name doesn't have the currency it once did and is utterly uninferrable. I thought maybe you'd rent a CABIN by the lake, but no, it's another five-letter word starting CA- (CANOE) (30D: Lakeside rental). Lastly, I wanted POSH for BOSH (54D: Brit's "Baloney!"). Pretty sure they are synonyms. . . oh, man, looks like I was thinking of "pish posh!" I say, I'm hopeless with Briticisms!

Five things:
  • 22A: Alternative to café (THÉ) — gotta supply that accent aigu or else you've just got a definite article on your hands ("thé" = "tea" in French)
  • 21D: "Ghostbusters" character ___ Spengler (EGON) — I know only one other EGON: the artist EGON Schiele. He's very famous as 20th-century artists go. He's got this wiry, anxious line to his figures. I really like it.
  • 62A: Ballplayers with birds on their caps (ORIOLES) — and Blue Jays. and Cardinals. 
  • 10D: "Monster's Ball" Oscar winner (HALLE BERRY) — spelled it BARRY, which was right next to the CANOE snafu, so yeah, to the extent that I slowed down at all, I slowed down in that eastern area
  • 28D: Hook's sidekick (SMEE) — good old SMEE. Don't see him around much anymore. Just twice a year for the past four years (incl. this one). Victim of the decline in crosswordesey names. Speaking of which ... has anyone seen EERO Saarinen!? Someone should really check in on him.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:07 AM  

Fairly easy even though I had to Google the term “barbershop”. I needed to be reminded of what that was as it has been decades since I last used their services. But, as I am fond of saying, “Of all the things I’ve ever lost, I miss my hair the least.”

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

surprised rex didn’t mention WKRP as a hideous answer, and making for some rather unfair crosses (i had AREOLAR first), and the intersection of two bygone media phenomena (WKRP and HEEHAW) makes everything feel completely outdated. lots of headscratching parts of this grid for me.

Vidiot 12:33 AM  

Second MIEN in like three days, no? I just subscribed to the crossword a few weeks ago and have been surprised at how many words seem to repeat from day to day, or is that the Baader-Meinhof talking?

jae 1:22 AM  

Easy-medium. Not bad for a Tues., liked it.

Me too for pOSH before BOSH.

I ran across MCG in a recent puzzle with the same clue, otherwise he would have been a major WOE. All my knowledge of Charlie’s Angels comes from Xwords.

I also did one recently (probably from the archives) with EERO’s last name as an answer and had problems with the spelling.

I think this one might be a tad tough for NEWBs.

albatross shell 2:17 AM  

This puzzle struck me as solid and stolid with a touch of stodgy in that it was never showing off or inspiring ahas or hahas. Yet something seemed very appealing.

Consider the following pairs:


Yes they are all the same length, but many share certain sounds, rhythm, style meaning, or fit. They are all symmetrical pairings in the grid. I feel this constancy of construction and perhaps devotion to craft is the cause of the extra appeal I found here. I suspect some might feel I'm only seeing dragons in clouds.

chefwen 2:47 AM  

We have friends visiting for the Holiday and one of them (a former hair stylist) asked me how the puzzle was tonight, she got a real kick out of it when I explained the theme.

My only problem was at 6D when I slapped down YETaS instead of YETIS and couldn’t figure out what a BANDER CLIP was. Oops.

A few un-Tuesday words, as Rex has already pointed out, but a fun solve nonetheless.

kenji 6:04 AM  

Nope.That's the crosswordese talking. I keep saying to myself, "is this subscription worth it? ... I should cancel." But it's like a drug I can't kick. Have fun.

Dawn Urban 6:20 AM  

Really enjoyed Rex's witty reference to Frank Sinatra's song "My Way"!

He writes, "Mistakes, I made a few...."

Lewis 6:25 AM  

What I liked most about this offering is that it was not a reflex solve, as Tuesdays often are. Due to vague cluing and some out-of-wheelhouse entries, I had to turn my brain on, a most lovely pre-Christmas gift.

While the greater part of today YET IS to come, let me jump into DE FRAY and wish all a marvelous 12/24, vis-a-vis 12/25.

OffTheGrid 6:40 AM  

I think this is a great Tuesday puz. EGON/STIEG was a natick for me. The theme was clever enough and well executed. Fun to see WKRP and SMEE.

ATE SNAPS (ginger or peas)

TJS 6:45 AM  

EKEDBY,UNWEAVE,UHYES,BINDERCLIP, AREOLAR. Good God, was this thing annoying.

TJS 6:47 AM  

Just noticed something. How can are comments appear after "blog owner approval" if good ol' Rex doesn't read our comments ?

GILL I. 7:07 AM  

DEFRAY and EKED BY made me BERRY SAD. Pretty heavy on the names donja think?
I can't spell and as far as I knew, David Bowie sang STuRMAN. My memories aren't what they used to be.
I bet @pablito sings in a BARBERSHOP QUARTET. Maybe @Joe Dip and @Quasi as well. We need a fourth....
I asked Mr. Liverpudlian if he has ever uttered BOSH. Bloody hell, no.
I think I mistakenly watched HEE HAW once. I think Minnie Pearl was in it and maybe Buck Owens. He FIDDLED a lot.
I hope we get something Christmasy tomorrow.

Unknown 7:19 AM  

And speaking of crosswordese names, who is the most famous rock musician of all time (GOAT)? Not Lennon, no Jagger, not Dylan. No must be Brian Eno!

kitshef 7:22 AM  

A.L.S. I.B.M. N.E.A. R.N.A. B.T.W. S.S.N. WKRP ABCS. But I’d happily take them all to get rid of MCG.

Despite all that, came away from the puzzle in a happy mood thanks to STARMAN. I've never done a Mount Rushmore of pop music, but Bowie would likely be on it. Paul Simon, for sure. Johnny Cash, yes. Then ... Bowie? Armstrong? Lennon or McCartney or Harrison? Wilson? Springsteen? I have a feeling Bowie just misses, if I have to choose.

ncmathsadist 7:26 AM  

I didn't appreciate that STEIG/EGON cross. Ghostbusters is pretty ancient history and STEIG appeals to a specialized taste.

bulgie 8:01 AM  

Is it kosher for a clue to be almost certainly untrue, in the real world, but not clued as fiction? I refer to YETIS. Which have not been *proven* to be nonexistent, but are extremely unlikely.

Even more unlikely than EKEDBY or UNWEAVE!

Suzie Q 8:06 AM  

Odd day indeed when I agree with Rex and @ Lewis too.
@ Lewis, You are in good form today.

SJ Austin 8:18 AM  

On the easy side and mostly enjoyable, except EKEDBY is truly awful, and crossing MOLIERE with MCG left me with a one-square FWE… on a Tuesday. Bummer.

Happy holidays everyone!

RooMonster 8:18 AM  

Hey All !
A pretty nice, fairly easy TuesPuz. The grid struck me as quite funky. With having QUARTET as a 6 in the SE, you end up with the big corners to fill. You could theoretically add another column of black squares where (in the SW) the ORN is from NEWBORN, but then you end up with 12 more threes (6 in NE, 6 in SW).

My point is it's tough to fill vast areas like that cleanly. AES pulled it off very nicely. The biggest Ugh areas were in the middle. Odd. Maybe try to get rid of that exact center block?

Nitpicking for nitpickings sake. Did like the split Revealer. Technically gives you two extra theme spots.

ATSEA clued as ASEA instead of "Lost". UNWEAVE, har. HEEHAE and WARP In Cincinnati are oldies from when I was a wee lad. BTW, I'm old. :-) (50 here, half-old?)

EKED BY SIX PACKs UNWEAVEd my BUMPER CROP. Read: Beer gut. (Although I stopped drinking [do have a rare beer now and again] a while ago, and gut has gone down a skosh.)


Nancy 8:44 AM  

@GILL (7:07) -- Does a BARBERSHOP QUARTET have to be all male? I suppose it does -- and therefore I forgive you for not adding me to your @pabloinnh, @Quasi, @JoeDipinto trio of singers when you were so desperately searching for a fourth.

Or is it perhaps not a gender thing at all? Do you have reason to believe that, as described in their many posts, @pablo, @Quasi and @Joe are, er, um, more gifted as singers than I am? Better trained? With "instruments" superior to mine? And with professional accomplishments that exceed even my stint in my high school Chorus and my stint in the "Broadway at the [92nd St] Y Chorus"?

You've never even heard me sing, @GILL, so how were you able to get it so....right?

pabloinnh 8:46 AM  

@GILL I-I have sung in a BARBERSHOPQUARTET, but not often. Sometimes our choral group does a men's piece with barbershop harmonies, so there's that, but I can only take about two barbershop songs in a row, and then, no mas, por favor. On the other hand, I've been singing do-wop with the same three guys for almost thirty years. Now that's more like it.

Puzzle was easy for me. Geezer power! I'm not a fan of this kind of construction though, seems very segmented, with one area not leading into another.

I've done OFL'S same double take on CABIN/CANOE before, but went with CANOE first this time. Old dog learning new tricks after all.

Thanks for the Tuesday fun, AE-S, and Feliz Navidad to all who post here.

mmorgan 8:52 AM  

I usually get all bah humbuggy around the holidays, but they seem to be having a kind of soothing impact on Rex, as he’s been (generally) on the gentle side of late.

@TJS — interesting question!

Puzzle was fine, as usual. Haven’t been loving, or hating, many lately. Bah humbug.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Re 7A, HEEHAW. As the clue says, Heehaw was cornball–really dreadful–though I must confess I watched if three or four times. One of the odder things was that one of the “stars” would tell a joke, the camera would move to the audience, and the audience would break out in laughter. But it was clear that the audience was *not* laughing at the joke being told. Sometimes the timing was so bad that the audience would not begin laughing until a few seconds later. Even if we assume that those in the audience were not the sharpest scythes on the farm, it would not take that long to “get” these jokes, such as they were. Even when the timing was better, it was clear the “responses” were not responses at all. One would think that with such careful attention paid to transitions or sequences in films–I don’t know if this is the responsibility of the choreographer, editor, or what–where it seems that all is done with talent–there would not be such bungling. One sees the same things in such things as “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” where the timing is better but the audience is clearly not responding to what is shown.

I thought about this recently when noticing an odd eccentricity in TV journalism. A clip would be shown of someone apparently answering a question by a journalist. The journalist would close the segment by saying something like, “and thank YOU,” with a stress on the *you*. This inflection would make sense only if the interviewee had closed his or her segment with the usual “thank you for having me on.” Then the journalist: “and thank YOU.” I notice that very, very often the one interviewed ignores or forgets the thanks, and the journalist’s response makes no sense. The only explanation, as I see it, is that there have been two separate tapings spliced together, where the journalist doesn’t really know what is being said. With all the complaints about fake news (on all sides), it would seem to me that this sort of thing encourages skepticism.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Z 9:04 AM  

A fine Tuesday. HEE HAW seems like an apt Easter Egg (yes, I remember watching HEE HAW. I was young then).

Baader-Meinhof and seeing dragons in clouds early on in the comments. Cool.
@Vidiot - Short Words with useful letters will appear more frequently in Crossworld than in the wild. That’s why we see Ono and Eno more often than Lennon and Bowie who still appear more often than Jagger. Do enough and you will start filling these in on occasion without even seeing the clue.
@albatross shell - I like your list. Some day you’re going to have to explain your nom de blog, though (with apologies if you already did and I missed it).

@Kitshef - My Mount Rushmore has to have lots more than 4. Lennon, McCartney, Bowie, Prince, Aretha, Smokey, Marvin... and we're not even into my idiosyncratic greats like Neko Case, Aimee Mann, AC Newman, Joey Burns, and, of course, my personal G.O.A.T., Elvis Costello.

What @Suzie Q said about @Lewis.

@TJS - Rex has enlisted moderators to approve the comments. When I first started reading Rex and commenting there were no mods and Rex would drop by on occasion. Now he only drops by when things get ugly and the mods pretty much have stopped it from getting ugly.

Teedmn 9:12 AM  

Why did I find this significantly harder than the usual Tuesday? (Almost 1 1/2 minutes longer than my average) Was it that I solved on my laptop? Because the answers were obscure? (I don't think so but...). Or because it was constructed by Alex Eaton-Salners? I'm thinking it's a combo of #1 and #3. AES always gets me or rather I should say I don't always get him. And I didn't even look at the constructor's name before solving so it's not a psych-out effect.

A literal quartet of things that happen in a barber shop is a cute theme idea. DEFRAY, MOLIERE, AREOLAR, MIEN, not very Tuesday-ish. I liked TOQUE and SPUNK, SIX PACK (what, not clued with "abs"?)

Nice job, AES.

Glenn Patton 9:21 AM  

@Nancy, the female counterpart of Barbershop Quartets is likely to be affiliated with Sweet Adelines International. Giggle that and you'll see. Where I used to live in Ohio, they're very popular and, around the holidays. smaller groups drawn from the large choral group (quartets or octets) often provided entertainment at holiday parties. Small harmonic style.

SouthsideJohnny 9:21 AM  

Nice warm and fuzzy write-up by OFL today - I wonder if he is in the holiday spirit, or has been nipping at the egg nog (which I guess would put him in the holiday spirits, lol).

MOLIERE crossing MCG is unfortunate, possibly a bona fide NATICK using a 25% criteria. This makes the puzzle unsolvable for a large portion of early week solvers, which is not much of an issue for this audience. It is probably also true that many early week (i.e, less experienced) solvers don’t really care if they can finish. Unfortunately, I’m in that CrossWorld LimboLand where Tuesdays can still be a struggle, yet I would like at least a fighting chance at a successful solve.

STIEG is similarly obscure, but it is at least inferable. The really, really sad entry today is the foolish cluing for THE - so unnecessary. I’m personally looking forward to the day when Shortz gives up the reins and they can do away with that idiotic daily requirement of at least one foreign word or phrase.

Dorothy Biggs 9:36 AM  

A couple of days ago there was SPEE...which, when I was solving, I thought was SMEE. Today, SMEE emerges. What're the chances?

My personal alternative to café is bistro.

With all the letter-salad entries today, I'm surprised the barbershop quartet organization wasn't included: SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America).

BOSH needs a prefix: KI-

I am 12 9:37 AM  

AREOLAR should be the titular entry for today's puzzle.

Hungry Mother 9:45 AM  

EttA or ELLA, that is the question. Otherwise, a very smooth solve with a lot of downs. Fun time.

Generic Solver 9:49 AM  

At xwordinfo.com, even the constructor himself laments that EGON/STIEG is a natick that in retrospect should have been avoided.

xyz 9:58 AM  


WINDOW TRIM is hardly decorative, having been a carpenter

plus far too much else to mention

Beyond easy

mbr 10:02 AM  

@Z: The NY Transit Authority apparently agrees with at least one member of your Mt Rushmore candidates. Since the day Aretha passed away, the subway station at Franklin Street has had several huge signs that read "RESPECT".

QuasiMojo 10:08 AM  

Cute to see TAUT and LIMP so close to each other. Loved seeing MOLIERE. But McG?? Who dat? And UH YES was Weak. Perhaps SQUEAKED BY is the phrase not EKED BY. You see only Eked out in dictionaries, at least those I can find. I used to have the mini OED but my eyesight ain't what it used to be so I gave it to charity. It's a shame when a few answers can sink a puzzle.

@GILL yes I was in a barbershop quartet in college. We eschewed the striped jackets and straw hats and added some rock to the mix. Loads of fun. The girls swooned whenever we performed. Alas I don't have the range I had back then. You'd do better with @Nancy (..."Mama sang tenor...") -- ?

Birchbark 10:08 AM  

Like the hesitant moments of a new-lit fire, just a couple of Christmas twigs in a lesser corner of the puzzle today, viz. NEWBORN/HYMNAL clues. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

@Albtross Shell (2:17) -- Bravo to dragons in the clouds. And to the maybe-accidental cadences you've found in pairs here, my favorite being BUMPERCROP WINDOWTRIM. I wanted "Soluble Fish" somewhere in there just to prove your point.

RooMonster 10:12 AM  

Wow, Auto-Corrupt at it again. Of course that was HEEHAW AND WKRP.

Ding dang it. Sometimes my phone likes to auto-refresh in the middle (or closer to the end) of my rambling screeds, so I don't go back and proofread. First world problems, eh?

RooMonster Talks To Himself Guy

Newboy 10:17 AM  

I’m with @Z’s astute observation “ What @Suzie Q said about @Lewis. “ May all your holidays be as cheery & bright as an @LMS post. (But I still miss @Evil Doug.)

relicofthe60s 10:27 AM  

MCG strikes me as a hell of a lot more obscure than Spud WEBB, and at least EGON Spengler was in a movie that people actually watched.

nduretta 10:34 AM  

Because we’re close to Christmas I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” last night. There’s a secondary character named Sam whose annoying pet phrase is, for some reason, HEEHAW. I love crossword coincidences. Two weeks ago I spotted KRISTEN WIIG out Christmas shopping here in Pasadena the day before she was a NYXW answer!

Masked and Anonymous 10:52 AM  

Hopefully, no accidental STABs, at that there BARBERSHOP. Pretty basic theme mcguffin, of the answers-end-with persuasion. Revealer(s) was pretty neat, tho.

I knew both EGON (tho had spellin issues) and STIEG. So, no problemo there. Sure got stuck on the MCG/MOLIERE nat-tick, tho. Guessed "C". Wrong again, but hey -- I'll live to solve another day. And that MCG dude probably don't know who M&A is, either.

fave fillins included: SIXPACK. SPUNK. FIDDLED.
fave Ow de Speration included: UNWEAVE. AREOLAR/EPOCHAL.

staff weeject pick: THE. Better un-French-fried clue: {Article of Trump Impeachment?}.

Am amazed that constructioneers don't submit more Christmas-related puzs, to be saved up for occasions such as now-abouts.
YET I thank Mr. E-S for his 6-themer-entry efforts. Not yer fault, about no Christmas giftwrappins.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

p.s. Merry Christmas Eve, TWIMC.
Peace on earth, good will toward constructioneers and @RPs [nice write-up, BTW].

@RP: If U ever read a comment, or ever work a runtpuz, U might consider this puppy:

jberg 10:56 AM  

Kids learn their numbers and colors before they get to the ABCs. But I suppose it's metaphorical--

"Dad, can you teach me about quantum mechanics?"

"Well, let's start with the ABCs. There was this guy who had a cat...."

I had no idea bout EGON, WEBB, and MCG, so I just left it to the crosses, which worked fine. More of a problem was my desire for BINDER ring before CLIP -- I could see it didn't fit the theme of cutting,but I had to wait for the revealer to realize it was about hair -- then CLI was obvious.

I'm surprised that people are complaining about MOLIERE. Wasn't he EGOT?

Ellen S 10:57 AM  

Well “EKE” doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s official. Once upon a time (when Eugene Maleska was a lad), the phrase “eke out” meant “to supplement.” Gradually, at least in the crossworld, it came to mean “barely get by.” Well, that phrase has the word “by” in it, and there must be a name for the linguistic process by which a word from one phrase leaps into another (ignorance? Illiteracy?) the phrase is going to be “eke by” and means whatever you want it to. Google turned up examples like “Definition of Eked / by the free dictionary” and “Eked / by Apricot Rail on Amazon music”, “...legends of Scots saints now gathered and eked by William, Bishop of Aberdeen. Only in this decade do we find “eked by” as a phrase “George Bush barely eked by in two elections” (“eked” rhymes with “squeaked” so they are synonyms). “Dallas eked by on a nail-biter to win ...”

Yeah, yeah, I know languages evolve but this is more like entropy. And get those kids off my lawn.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

"Egon Matijevic (27 April 1922 – 20 July 2016) was an American chemist. He earned his B.Sc. and Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Zagreb. After specialization at the University of Cambridge he continued to work at the Clarkson University."

A professor of mine. It was just a College, then.

Joe Dipinto 11:30 AM  

Egon Spengler was portrayed in "Ghostbusters" by none other than Harold Ramis, infamous for being wrongly clued as the film's director last week.

I liked yesterday's puzz and I like today's. They both seemed slightly advanced for their placement during the week. But that's fine.

Singular COLD CUT looks strange. If you went to the store and bought only a packet of bologna, wouldn't you say "I bought some cold cuts"? It's one of those things that seems to exist only in the plural.

The theme made me curious to read up a bit on Barbershop Quartetdom, which is a thriving subculture in America. The official organization has the unpronounceable acronym SPEBSQSA, and had only male members until just last year (!). As @Glenn Patton noted, the Sweet Adelines was the corresponding organization for women. The history is pretty interesting – check out the Wikipedia entry for Barbershop Harmony Society.

The voice distribution is referred to as, from top to bottom: Tenor, Lead, Baritone, Bass. The Lead sings the melody and has a tenor/baritone range; the Tenor harmonizes above the Lead, the Baritone below, and the Bass covers the bottom. @pablo, you can do Lead or the high Tenor for our group, you get to pick. I'll be the Baritone. I don't know what Quasi's range is. Any more volunteers? After a few rehearsals, with any luck we'll sound like

these guys.

In case I don't get to post tomorrow, Merry Christmas/Feliz Navidad/insert translation of choice, in advance, to all!

Maggy 11:34 AM  

@Nancy, Good question about the barbershop quartet. I looked it up, knowing the female counterpart is the Sweet Adelines. They both have their non-profit groups. They can include women. Here are the specs for a barbershop quartet according to the Barbershop Harmony Society:

The tenor harmonizes above the melody
Melody is carried in the second-highest voice, called the lead
The baritone provides in-between notes,
The bass sings the lowest harmonizing notes
Performed in ensembles of all sizes: quartets (four singers), choruses (usually 12 or more singers, up to as many as 160 singers, most commonly 15-30 singers)
Performed in all-male, all-female, or mixed groups

Ellen S 11:40 AM  

@Vidiot - I read somewhere (on the internet, so it must be true) that when a new piece of junk crosswordese shows up, or after a long while without, he deliberately gathers — or EKES hahaha — several puzzles containing that word and runs them close together, so the crossword community, especially early week solvers, will get used to it. Kind of like if the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon married the Stockholm Syndrome and gave birth to the NYTXW.

On a lighter note, @chefwen, so a YETa is a furry (nonexistent) Himalayan gossip? @Mark Bulgier, the Piltdown Man was a real hoax. Until we know one way or the other, YETIS, like God, are either real, or a real hoax. So a real “something.”

Joseph M 11:52 AM  

Rex failed to mention that, in addition to the whole set of themers being a quartet, each themer is a quartet of letters. So the theme works on two levels.

Like a barbershop quartet, the puzzle has an old-timey feel. It also has too many proper nouns. Holy berry! Egon Stieg and MCG are both on WKRP tonight.

About the clue for 22A: you’re trying too hard
About the answer for 48A: uh, no.
About the answer for 66A: unwhat?

Otherwise good puzzle. Just needs a haircut.

Z 12:00 PM  

Okay. Now I’m imagining a Yentl remake with Chewbacca in the lead. Thanks for that @chefwen and @Ellen S.

DevoutAtheist 12:14 PM  

YETIS aren't real. God isn't real. We know this. .

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

I managed to get the STIEG/EGON cross. Never heard of this particular EGON, but STIEG Larsen rang a bell.

But I had no clue in the upper right: I guessed AEREOLAe and WKeP. A radio station call sign is truly unguessable and AEREOLAe sounded right.

SethC 12:59 PM  

With apologies to the city of Baltimore, 62-A is inaccurate. There are no ballplayers on the Orioles.

God 1:17 PM  

@DevoutAtheist. YETIS are real.

GILL I. 1:37 PM  

@Nancy. I'll meet you over by the piano bar. We need another name, though. How about the "Barberlines?" Sweet Adelines doesn't fit my demeanor. @Teedmn, you in? We need a fourth. I'm calling dibs on alto....!

pabloinnh 1:40 PM  

@JoeD-OK, I'm in and can do the high tenor or lead. Quasi can have whatever. I'm good for "Old Mill Stream" (hackneyed classic) "Good Bye My Coney Island Babe" (ditto), both of which I did in high school, or my all-time favorite title, "How Can There Be Any Sin in Sincere? (Where Is the Good in Good Bye?) which I have sung comparatively recently. We should come up with a good crossword name, though, like "The Oreos" of "The Enos". Also, rehearsals, in my experience, require adequate lubrication.

And, waiting for that fourth member.

burtonkd 2:25 PM  

I'm good for lead or baritone, and have made many arrangements for male quartet, although no barbershop pieces.
Joe, I have heard SPEBSQSA pronounced many times as speb-skwa. Apparently the last "s" is silent?
For the curious, this stands for:
Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America.
Went to a chapter meeting in Winston-Salem back in my conservatory days, had a great time, then continued on with my solo piano career, sadly never to return...
Lida Rose and Sincere, written for Music Man, are fantastic pieces.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Unfortunately, for some, scientists have explained how we got here over the last 14 or so billion years using only the laws of physics, and a bit of chemistry. Fantasy stories about Mother Earth being only 6,000 years old, and so forth, are the product of small minds.

Teedmn 2:33 PM  

@Gill I, @Nancy, I'm in for soprano harmony parts - no leads for me, thank you.

Ellen S 2:43 PM  

@devoutAtheist: @God has a point. I would express it thusly: to people who believe in them, God and Yetis are real. To us devout atheists, people who believe in god and yetis are not real. Agreed?

Syndicate bob 2:45 PM  

I happen to live a few hundred yards from the worlds tallest barber pole in Forest Grove Oregon. There used to be a big barbershop quartet contest every year. Sadly it is no more. In high school we staged The Music Man which has a couple of lovely barbershop quartet songs.

JC66 2:47 PM  

@pabloinnh, @Quasi & @Joe D

Count me in. I can't sing a lick, but I love lubricating.

Birchbark 3:15 PM  

Cogito, ergo YETIS.

Kathy 4:15 PM  

Naticked at STIEG/EGON

But what’s not to love about Barbershop Quartets. Or choruses.
Former Sweet Adeline here, (baritone) now a member of a mixed chorus (alto). Whether male or female, barbershop groups utilize the male terms for the voice parts.

How cool to discover so many singers in this XW group!!

GILL I. 4:18 PM  

Ok....So I'm thinking the Barbershops and the Adelines should meet up at Brandy's Piano Bar on E 84th. The best belted out song get's to be lubricated by @JC66. Everyone's invited...even the atheists.

QuasiMojo 4:29 PM  

@Pablo @joe and @JC66 how bout "the ONOs"? It's a palindrome too. Sorta. :) --

Monty Boy 5:29 PM  

I liked the puzzle a lot. I knew STIEG from "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," a part of the Millennium series. The ones he wrote are very good, the several written after he died, not so much.

For the quartet I can contribute my one note. In 4th grade, the music teacher told me I should listen for a while. I knew what she meant right away. My music contribution now is "audience." I tell folks I used to have a musical gift, but I gave it to my daughter who is having a wonderful time with it.

Last thing: We have a nod at Christmas ever at 67A. Silent Night with candlelight gets me every time.

Nancy 5:40 PM  

@GILL (1:37 p.m.)-- We may have a problem, quartet-wise.

My voice started out pretty low when I was young. I could sing along with Ethel Merman in "Annie Get Your Gun". WE HAD THE EXACT SAME RANGE!!!! But I couldn't even think as high as the coloratura sopranos in "Oklahoma" and "Carousel". Their voices made my forehead ache. On those original cast LPs, I sang along with John Raitt. In the various choruses I was in, I was an alto who could sort of stretch for 2nd soprano when the 2nd's part was closer to the melody than the alto's part and I liked their part better.

But my voice has gotten even lower over the ensuing years. (This I attribute to a fair amount of Scotch and later, red wine.) So, @GILL, if you've already put "dibs on alto", our little quartet might have a wee problem. I mean, as a good natured, amenable person and "team player", I'm willing to once again stretch to sing 2nd soprano. But what if it turns out that my vocal cords are not as flexible as I am?

Joe Dipinto 6:01 PM  

We still need someone on bass. @burtonkd is joining us so he can be Lead. @pablo is on Tenor and I was planning to be Baritone, but I can maybe cover Bass if it's not too low. Quasi, what's your range?

Yes, we need a crossword name. Hmm...

Nancy 7:31 PM  

@Joe (6:01)-- "The Green Paint Quartet", natch.

Joe Dipinto 7:45 PM  

@Nancy – you can always sing Bass with us.

More possible names:
The Four Naticks
The Green Paint Boys
The Evadeludes (ee-vay-duh-lewds)

One more song to make you merry and dance around the living room.

Joe Dipinto 8:43 PM  

@Nancy – like minds...

pabloinnh 9:47 PM  

@Jod, et al.--The Evadeludes is downright brilliant and I declare the nominations closed and the matter settled.

And now, after the above mentioned candlelight service with the Silent Night finale, I send to all further wishes for a joyous holiday. The quartet discussion is the most fun on this blog so far.

Also, try to stay awake until 11:30, when I will pack up my guitar and accompany the midnight service at our postcard New England church, which was full for an earlier service and will have yours truly and about a dozen others later tonight.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

albatross shell 10:39 PM  

HEE HAW had very good musicians and singers. One of the better commercial tv music shows.
Well worth watching purposely. Corny jokes and country music are not to everyone's taste. But I like the Mills Brothers and barber shop too.
BOSH WAS made popular by author and diplomat James J. Molier, distant cousin to MOLIERE. Definitely English, maybe not in Liverpool.
I was positively delighted by your "my memories are not what they used to be". I wish I said that. I probably will. Suggestive of Heraclitus and his toes and rivers as well.

@anon 853 am
Only the music segments were filmed with a "live audience". The jokes were not. Is it more or less honest to be more deceptive by expertly covering up this fact?

My list of paired word, all of which were from the symmetric locations in the grid, was a large sampling of the encompassing close and not so close similarities of various types. I omitted some decent ones such as NEAR MWAH, ARTY ACAI, SWIMS SNAPS, TIBIA CANOE. My favorite might short one was BOSH WKRP because the fictional radio station (for those who did not know) w-crap in Cincinati (the implied and unsaid joke of the show). BOSH = crap. If only TIBIA CANOE had a TYLER TOO. My point was give the constructor some credit. Not all of this is accidental even if it all wasn't intentional.

burtonkd 12:13 PM  

Is our whole quartet in NYC?? Might be a fun evening to actually do this

Burma Shave 12:00 PM  


her SIXPACK abs I gave ARUB,A feel,
I found they’re LEAN and TAUT and,


spacecraft 12:50 PM  

UH...no. Naticked at 37: I must disagree with OFC. The crosses are ultimately UNfair. Therein lies my DNF. The NEA funds museums? I guess it makes sense, but it certainly isn't an activity they're KNOWN for. C'mon, man, it's only Tuesday.

I had to deal with other unknowns, too: who's gonna know MCG? Naturally, I thought I'd goofed somewhere up there, but the rest of the NW fit, so I just left it. You want to tell me this guy is FAMOUS??? Again: TUESDAY!!!

The theme works nicely, but it didn't DEFRAY the cost of the fill.

leftcoaster 1:30 PM  

Standard Tuesday with some Wednesday touches: MCG, STEIG/EGON cross, and maybe MIEN and STARMAN.

THE as cafe' alternative snuck in not furtively through the back door but boldly through the front (1A).

Coincidental happening here in our yard today: Landscapers are here to CUT, CLIP, TRIM, and CROP trees, bushes, etc. They don't sing while at work.

Diana, LIW 1:34 PM  

And I nearly Naticked close by - the G in EGON/STEIG was a good guess on my part.

The rest was just fine.

Diana, LIW

leftcoaster 2:00 PM  

DOOR, 1D not 1A.

rainforest 3:15 PM  

Fine puzzle for the theme, themers, revealer, appropriate difficulty level, fill, clues, grid.

I ran into zero Naticks, and rather enjoyed my solve. Certainly up there among Tuesday offerings.

Though bygone, WKRP In Cincinnati was one funny show. Great characters.

Once, while camping with my family, there must have been a BARBERSHOP QUARTET convention nearby because we heard many rehearsed 4-part harmony endings reverberating through the trees. Most entertaining, as was this puzzle.

strayling 7:39 PM  

Still giggling from this one, purely from a British perspective. Nobody says BOSH unless they're trying to parody an upper class twit. Fair enough clue, but possibly not what the compiler intended. I'm pondering that because it would tell me whether 53d was supposed to be a bit rude or if it was an accident.

I should watch less Benny Hill.

rondo 9:57 PM  

Barbi Benton was a regular on HEEHAW for a few seasons, and she turned 70 today. But THE fully spelled Bond girl HALLEBERRY has got to be the yeah baby, reprise of Ursula's scene years before after she SWIMS.

EZ and OK for a Tues-puz.

Michael Leddy 8:47 PM  

She wove and unwove and wove and did not know
That even then Odysseus on the long
And winding road of the world was on his way.

lines from Edwin Muir, “The Return of Odysseus”

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