Quiet you quaintly / WED 7-7-21 / Cooler Ghostbusters inspired Hi-C flavor / Overseer of a quadrennial competition / Premium streaming service until 2020 / Ancient Greek festival honoring the god of wine / Nerd on '90s TV / One-percenter suffix

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: The Tortoise and the Hare — TORTOISE and HARE are spelled out in circled squares that traverse the grid, visually representing the TORTOISE making it to the other end of the grid (first? at all?); then the moral of the story is your revealer: SLOW AND STEADY / WINS / THE / RACE; plus there are two tacked-on themers:

Theme answers:
  • TAKES A NAP (22A: Snoozes (like participant #2 in one classic fable)) ["one"? why not just "a"?]
  • LOSES A BET (57A: Wagers unwisely (as participant #2 did))
Word of the Day: DIONYSIA (41D: Ancient Greek festival honoring the god of wine) —
The Dionysia (/dəˈnsiə/) was a large festival in ancient Athens in honor of the god Dionysus, the central events of which were the theatrical performances of dramatic tragedies and, from 487 BC, comedies. It was the second-most important festival after the Panathenaia. The Dionysia actually consisted of two related festivals, the Rural Dionysia and the City Dionysia, which took place in different parts of the year. They were also an essential part of the Dionysian Mysteries. (wikipedia)
• • •

As a visual gimmick, this is very clever. Not sure why the tortoise and hare are racing *diagonally*—there's no good representation of the goal or finish line, and if the finish line is simply the other side of the grid, why aren't they running in a straight line??—but the tortoise clearly makes it to the other side, while the hare is still stuck in the fourth line (precisely where he meets the answer TAKES A NAP—nice touch), so I think the visual representation largely works, and it's definitely original / clever. Unfortunately, the puzzle was over before it really began. As soon as I got SLOW A... I knew the rest of the answer, which means I also knew what was going to go in the remaining circled squares, which means the puzzle was essentially over, from a theme-enjoyment standpoint. Done and done (if not done done).

Yes, there ended up being two "bonus" themers, but those were just superfluous verb phrases, dutiful space fillers rather than essential elements of the theme. It's true that having "hare" stop at TAKES A NAP was nice, and having TAKES A NAP and LOSES A BET follow the same answer blanks-a-blank pattern made that pair of answers more unified than they might've been, but they still felt inessential. The gist of the theme reveals itself early, and giving all of the theme away like that just leaves you to fill in the grid, dutifully, which feels more like cleaning up after a party than enjoying the party itself. The fill is OK, hit and miss, but there's nothing much left to experience after the main theme stuff goes in. So this is another case of an interesting concept being somewhat clumsily executed. Too much given away too early, weird semi-aimless diagonal running, and "bonus" theme answers that don't do much but dutifully fill the spaces where we'd expect to find theme content.

I liked a bunch of the longer fill, particularly GREMLIN and then all of the terminal-A stuff: SCAPULA, ELECTRA, DIONYSIA, PALOOKA). These colorful longer answers helped keep the puzzle from truly dragging after the theme discovery had already been accomplished. I am very grateful, though, that I never even saw the ridiculous "OH, DRY UP!" until after I was already finished and reviewing the grid. Never saw the clue, never saw the answer, not sure how that happened—the puzzle was very easy, so crosses must've just taken care of it. But wow, it's so olde-tymey that I can't even place it. Google searches are indicating that yes, it's a real idiom, but the only specific reference I'm getting is to something in the H*rry P*tter books. Quaint! The only thing I like about this answer is that it's on the same line as PALOOKA, which is also quaint, but in a way that I really like. PALOOKA's got a film noir / Damon Runyon vibe, whereas "OH, DRY UP!" sounds stuffy and vaguely British (?). Maybe if I heard some tough dame say it in a crime film, I'd like it, I dunno. It is by far the most original thing in the grid, I'll give it that.

Five things:
  • DOORBELL (3D: Don't knock until you've tried it) — I think this clue is trying to pun. I think. I wrote in DOORKNOB, which somehow makes more sense to me: a knock and a DOORBELL do the same thing (tell someone that you want to be let in), so why would you prioritize one over the other. Whereas if the door is open, well, just use the DOORKNOB and there's no need to knock (or ring). Vote DOORKNOB!
  • ON LSD (47D: How Timothy Leary spent some time) — hard "no"; delete it from your wordlist. Wearying enough to have to deal with the occasional ONPOT. You can't just put "ON" before every drug and call it a crossword answer (I would, however, accept ONDRUGS ... so ONDRUGS, yes, ONLSD, ONHEROIN, ONLUDES, no
  • HBO NOW (48D: Premium TV streaming service until 2020) — so not so much HBO NOW as HBO THEN, then ...
  • TECH (60D: ___ support) — had the "H," wrote in ARCH
  • ECTO- (35A: ___ Cooler, "Ghostbusters"-inspired Hi-C flavor) — my brain registered that fill-in-the-blank as somebody's name (because "Cooler" was capitalized, because "Ghostbusters" made me think "actor"), and so, since my brain thinks in crossword terms, it was like "ooh, it's that lesser Ghostbuster with the four-letter name, starts with "E," same name as a famous artist ... EGON! Wow, forgot his last name was Cooler, but OK." This is what happens when you don't read the entire clue. The actual Ghostbuster is named EGON Spangler, but that's not important. What's important is that the answer was ECTO-; what's *bizarre* is that EGON ended up actually being in the puzzle!? (58D: Painter Schiele), which has to be one of the strangest wrong-answer-that-turned-out-to-be-the-right-answer-somewhere-else moments I've ever had.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


OffTheGrid 6:14 AM  

Time was similar to yesterday but enjoyment was much, much higher. I got HARE and TORTOISE early. The west, esp. the SW, was a bit of a struggle but seeing it all tied together at the end was delightful. Excellent!

Anonymous 6:30 AM  

54A (Fall behind/LAG) was also a relevant entry. A HEAT (6D) can be part of a RACE. And remember, one STEP at a time.

Unknown 7:08 AM  

Is it just me or was the clue for 16 down incorrect? If lapse is to “fall back into one’s old ways” then what is relapse??

amyyanni 7:09 AM  

Wish I enjoyed the theme as much as Rex. Might I blame the rainy morning here? Dregs of Elsa making for a gloomy morning and curtailing outdoor activities. Also not loving DEBAR. Bar would be sufficient.
Enjoyed the clue for REF. And Happy Hump Day to everyone who notes such things.

Jon88 7:15 AM  

Re 57a, "wagers unwisely" = makes a bad bet. If you lose a bet, that's a consequence of an unwise wager, but those phrases are not synonymous.

Conrad 7:18 AM  

I had fun with this one. I avoided reading the clues for the long acrosses and let the fill fill in the themers.

TTrimble 7:25 AM  

It's true that once one sees the theme -- and it was relatively early for me too: got HARE and enough letters of TORTOISE to figure everything else out immediately -- the puzzle as a whole resolves itself quickly.

As for Rex's write-up. I'd say ON LSD is a hard "it's fine". I'll put it this way: "ON antibiotics" or "ON painkillers" are both completely idiomatic, and so is "ON [name some other drug]". The one thing Leary is well known for is advocating usage of LSD (even in a medicinal/therapeutic capacity by his lights). And so in goes ON LSD without complaint.

A hard no to Rex's DOOR knob (which btw I also considered) as making more sense. If you're in a situation where ringing a door bell is appropriate, then chances are you're trying to enter someone else's space and usually it would be really rudely inappropriate and possibly criminal just to try the door knob first to let yourself in. As for "why would you prioritize one over the other" i.e. why try the DOOR BELL first, the answer is pretty obvious: the chiming sound is usually less jarring and more pleasant (I think that's why people have DOOR BELLs); knocking the knocker creates a much sharper sound. But, if you don't hear the DOOR BELL or there's no response, you think maybe the DOOR BELL isn't working or maybe they didn't hear it, so then you try knocking.

Re his notes on EGON: is Rex not familiar with the jargon "malapop" (or "malaplop" as I once accidentally coined)? If he's using "Natick" and "green paint", then he could use this as well, instead of the more awkward "wrong-answer-that-turned-out-to-be-the-right-answer-somewhere-else".

Going ON a college visit with my daughter today (she's a HS Senior in the fall), so I'd best be off. Have a good day, y'all.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

Everything was hunky-dory, until I got to that awful SW section with OH DRY UP, ON LSD, HBO NOW, DASANI, EGON, SSTS, DO NOT and LOSES A BET. I assume LOSES A BET was plugged in to get a themer symmetrical to TAKES A NAP, but it is very weak as a standalone phrase. Worse, it does horrible damage to that corner.

Tex 7:25 AM  

If the doorbell doesn’t work you knock. Great clue/answer. If you try the doorknob before you knock you’re liable to get shot,

SouthsideJohnny 7:28 AM  

For the most part pretty clean and straightforward, with a little bit of WOE esoterica like DIONYSIA, which is to be expected on a Wednesday. I would prefer that the made up word of the day (ECTO) not cross something so totally obscure (SCAPULA) - so just do the best that you can with the crosses and hope you guess correctly.

DEBAR seems like a bit of an odd duck of a word. If you are barred from doing something, aren’t you already prohibited ? Seems like DE-BAR could be interpreted to mean “re-allow” (same with De-ban) - ok, ok, enough with the overthinking that one . . .

I’ve noticed that PBR (aka PABST) appears in the NYT with some frequency/regularity - is it still popular ? Anyone remember Schlitz and Rheingold, especially while watching the Mets on Ch 9. ?

thfenn 7:28 AM  

Fun Wednesday. Filled in the themes very early, but while this dampens the thrill of having the reveal at the end it also helps complete the puzzle, so that was fine. Plus the moral of the story still resonates. Couple glitches with arCH before TECH, RAjA before RAMA, and REtAIN before REGAIN. Knew I'd never heard of an OjEtA but had no recollection of how to denote OHM, so stared way too long at that. Plus had Dionysia spelled with an E, thinking NAE was just fine. Thought the fill, with lots of longish downs and acrosses, kept the puzzle fun and lively.

Son Volt 7:29 AM  

Agree with Rex mostly - well crafted and neat but a little flat overall. Liked the corner to corner TORTOISE graphic with SLOW AND STEADY filling the center. Thought the clue for DOOR BELL was clever - DEBAR not so much. PABST x TACO could be dinner tonight. Stuck Orestes in before getting the E.

Enjoyable Wednesday solve.

ZenMonkey 7:50 AM  

My crush, at age 11, on Dr. EGON Spengler (not “Spangler”) was a preview of a life spent attracted almost solely to nerds and geeks of various kinds. One of the many reasons the original Ghostbusters is my favorite comedy of all time. I enjoyed seeing it in a theatre again some years back, with the wonderful geek I’m now married to.

“OH, DRY UP!” Right, sorry....

Loved the puzzle. Very fun scattering of Aesop around the grid in various ways. I do the Wednesday puzzle after a midnight shift on a crisis hotline, and this was a nice way to come out of that.

bocamp 7:58 AM  

Thx Peter for a this fine Wednes. puz! :)

Med solve.

Pretty much on Peter's wavelength for this one.

Nice and crunchy, but not too tough.

Fair crosses all the way.

Loved the theme. I can relate to SLOW AND STEADY.

yd pg -3 (missed two from my List and another that should have been obvi)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

BigJay 8:02 AM  


Regarding "Oh,Dry Up!".... Katherine Hepburn said it in reference to the ringing of the telephone, in the movie "Desk Set" with Spenser Tracy 1950

Good puzzle, EGON indeed!

Dan Sachs 8:03 AM  

How were you brought up that you'll walk up to someone's house and before you knock you think "first I'll try the doorknob"?

TheMadDruid 8:16 AM  

I thought that as well.

OffTheGrid 8:21 AM  

Did you know,.........that PABST marketed a beer labelled Red, White, and Blue? I would buy it when I couldn't afford Pabst. Pretty sad, I know.

Joe R. 8:30 AM  

My knowledge of the word PALOOKA comes entirely from Baseball Bugs, in which Bugs Bunny gives the audience an aside just before the crucial final pitch of the game, “Watch me paste this pathetic palooka with a powerful paralyzing perfect pachydermis percussion pitch.” Oh, the random things that stick in one’s head decades later.

As to all the people saying that DOORknob is a terrible answer because you wouldn’t enter someone’s home without knocking or ringing, bear in mind that there are doors other than front doors. Bathrooms, bedrooms, offices, etc, There are a lot more doors one could knock on that don’t have DOORBELLs than do,

Unknown 8:52 AM  

@ Southside Johnny Apparently it's a *thing* for many wanna-be dive bars to offer PBR as the house beer. How that came to be is a mystery to me; perhaps PBR is a signifier of blue-collar roots. In Brooklyn. And Boulder. And Jackson, WY. Go figure.

I'll agree with rex that it was very easy to suss out the theme of the puz, but that didn't detract from the pleasure. It was artfully constructed, and the fill was pretty refreshing. With allusions to Greek mythology, music, & Timothy Leary, and nary a sports clue to be found, I thought the answers were perfectly eclectic. I think this is one of those puzzles where rex felt like he just had to complain about *something* to keep his persona intact. in fact, this was just fine. And DEBAR made me think of Giuliani - so that was sweet!

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

@Joe R. 8:30- Pro tip- knock before entering bathrooms and bedrooms.

alexscott68 9:00 AM  

I think the DOORBELL answer makes more sense if you read the clue/answer as Don’t knock it (DOOR) until you’ve tried it (BELL).

Stimpson 9:03 AM  

DEBAR is an odd duck, but it's definitely commonly used legalese and clued correctly.

Bar, embar, and debar are all synonyms. English, wow.

I think today is was fine, but it's more impressive architecturally than a fun solve. And TORTOISE and HARE running diagonally is about impressive construction more than anything else.

Barbara S. 9:16 AM  

This theme was a hard like for me. And I didn’t tumble to it immediately although I solved the puzzle pretty speedily (I guess my attention wandered, like the hare’s). I saw the circles before I began but then forgot to notice what was in them. And I employed my patented wandering-all-over-the-grid technique, so didn’t come across the theme answers in any sensible order. In fact, I think I got WINS/THE/RACE before I either got or focused on any of the others.

Hey, there was another Rabbit in the race: BRER! I liked the classical references, ELECTRA and the previously unknown DIONYSIA. I wanted to squish in “bacchanalia” or “bacchanale,” although maybe the latter is a musical term. [Searching…] Guess what! RAVEL wrote one: Bacchanale from “Daphnis and Chloe”. I kind of liked “OH, DRY UP!” I think kids said it to other kids when I was about 11.

One can go down any number of rabbit-holes with the work of EGON Schiele. I’ll give you something mild and benign, a Self-Portrait. Schiele died at just 28 in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918. A short but vivid career.

Unknown 9:17 AM  

31 Across: note that there are two leg bones, the tibia and fibula (femur is the thigh bone); the lower limb consists of the thigh, leg, and foot

Barbara S. 9:20 AM  

I’m quoting from the crossword today, rather than from a birthday author. Here’s EDGAR ALLAN POE (64D).

No sooner had these syllables passed my lips, than --as if a shield of brass had indeed, at the moment, fallen heavily upon a floor of silver, I became aware of a distinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet apparently muffled reverberation. Completely unnerved, I leaped to my feet; but the measured rocking movement of Usher was undisturbed. I rushed to the chair in which he sat. His eyes were bent fixedly before him, and throughout his whole countenance there reigned a stony rigidity. But, as I placed my hand upon his shoulder, there came a strong shudder over his whole person; a sickly smile quivered about his lips; and I saw that he spoke in a low, hurried, and gibbering murmur, as if unconscious of my presence. Bending closely over him, I at length drank in the hideous import of his words.

"Not hear it? --yes, I hear it, and have heard it. Long --long --long --many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it --yet I dared not --oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I am! --I dared not --I dared not speak! We have put her living in the tomb!”
(From “The Fall of the House of Usher”)

Nancy 9:20 AM  

When I read the 38A clue, I pegged this as a PC puzzle (provokes curiosity). What would the wonderful "moral of the story" be? I was hoping for something as deep and life-enhancing as can be gleaned from so many of the literary passages selected each day by @Barbara S.

Alas, it was not to be. When I saw the very familiar moral, I had the disappointed feeling: "Is that all there is?" And, while I knew there were annoying tiny little circles in the grid, I never connected them and never saw the TORTOISE and the HARE. Which is par for the course. So the grid design and half the theme were completely wasted on me.

Some other thoughts:

When I saw the Hi-C flavor ECTO COOLER (really?!), all I could think of was the ad: "With a name like Dr. Pepper, it has to be good!"

Did like the clues for DOORBELL; REF; DORM; and NBA.

A very meh Wednesday for me. My biggest decision and most exciting moment was waiting to see if the Amtrak stop would be STA or STN.

JD 9:22 AM  

Things took shape after the third pass (down | across | down) when Hare and Tor filled in the circles thanks to TSA, Doorbell, Freeway & Heat. Also thanks to Ohm, Beau, Urkel & Electra (Board Certified Psychologists). The puzzle filled in top to bottom on their backs and with some Wednesday-intense staring. A race to the bottom.

I believe it was the Hare who later told the press, "I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am." The whole thing was sad really.

Enjoyed Cro & Palooka (Your Round-the-clock Drain Unclogging Pros, #1 in the Tri-State Area). Like them on Facebook.

Zygotic 9:28 AM  

“Inessential?” Why? And get out of here with your “unessential” BS, too. There is one and only one word to convey the concept of not being essential and that is “nonessential.” All the other posers are fingernails on chalkboards to my ear. Just. Don’t.

@unknown8:52 (what is it with Blogger and all the unknowns lately?) - PBR became “hip” because it was cheap so all the hipsters drank it. Now it is not really all that cheap but is still more hip than Bud or Miller.

@Unknown 7:08 - ReLAPSE and LAPSE can be used in similar, essentially synonymous, ways. Why did we add a prefix we didn’t need? Because language users aren’t especially logical.

Okay, my break from the Pasco Banksy collab (art by Ricky Cruz) is done. Between the essentially diagramless middle and the PPP that is out of my ken and the occasional fruitless musings on what the meta might be I am wondering why this was given a 4 out 5 difficulty rating. I suspect when the penny drops it will be clear.

albatross shell 9:35 AM  

My mental vision for "dry up" is maybe Janmes Cagney saing it to some fellow orphan at Boy's Town who is razzing him about something preceded by a nasal drawn out A as in nasty: aah or naa DRY UP. OH is a bit off. A tad to polite. Early Hardy Boys maybe.

The theme was obvious early with just a brief moment of choice between 3 little pigs and the hare and the tortoise.

SIS ELECTRA GAL ESAS MEL(s) v. BROS BRER BEAU URKEL RAMA EGON in the Battle of the Sexes. I guess there are female PALOOKAs these days. Hard to forget Joe though. Leary and ElgiN BAylor (the man with the moves) in the clues. OBS for women but are often male. PSAS in the unclued sense male. DIONYSIA celebrates a male being but both sexes joined in I guess.

With TTrimble on knock and ONLSD.

Knob is foolishness. Self-justification gone wild. At a business maybe?

Harry 9:36 AM  

Like Rex, I "raced" to fill in ARCH (support). Having to substitute TECH fell flat for me and I was disappointed (seems "pedestrian" by comparison, but maybe I need that "arch support" ...)

Joe Dipinto 9:36 AM  

"Is this the train to Palookaville? I'll take a one-way ticket, please."

RooMonster 9:37 AM  

Hey All !
Oh, Rex, regardless that they're running diagonally, it's still a straight line! They're not zig-zagging. Silly rabbit.

You already have ECTO in your grid clued with a "Ghostbusters" reference, why not double up with the EGON clue? Silly Peter.

Choppy grid, 44 Blockers! Dang. Normal max is 38. We get 24 threes, 22 fours. Beside the themers, longest answers are sevens.

The theme was good, what put me off was the choppy grid, and the SW.

Can you be ON A PAR whilst being ON LSD? Silly Roo.

One F

Peter P 9:47 AM  

In re: reLAPSE vs LAPSE, see also: "iterate" vs "reiterate" which also can mean exactly the same thing. Now, with "lapse" vs "relapse," in certain circles -- I do some work with addiction -- we do define them slightly differently in that a "lapse" is a brief, temporary return to maladaptive behaviors, while a "relapse" is an extended return to old habits. I was going to say that this vocabulary is specific to this context, but the dictionary definition is not all that different: "Lapse - a temporary failure of concentration, memory, or judgment" and "Relapse - "a deterioration in someone's state of health after a temporary improvement." In the former, it seems it's the failure that's temporary, while in the latter, it's the improved state that is characterized as temporary.

Anyhow, super-easy puzzle today.

John Hoffman 9:49 AM  

"... the grid feels more like cleaning up after a party than enjoying the party itself." That's funny. Anyway, easy Wednesday. I liked it.

Joaquin 10:00 AM  

When I was a kid, back before the discovery of dirt, OH, DRY UP was a common retort/insult. Sometimes it was expanded to "Dry up and blow away". Haven't heard either in at least 50 years. Until now.

Frantic Sloth 10:07 AM  

OHDRYUP is quaint? Quaintly rude, perhaps. Then again, someone with the mouth of a sailor has no room to talk.

It's a fable theme! Looks tight and clean to me - and good for the Wednesdee.

Was gonna crank on the 8D "abbreviation" not reflected in the clue, but then realized that it's been "Warner BROS." for as long as I can remember. Looked it up and it's been the official name since 1929, so no nits for me. Dammit.


Whatsername 10:11 AM  

“TADA!” I cried triumphantly after finishing this interesting Wednesday. Different and unusual, yet EVEN SO, it somehow seemed vaguely familiar. When I filled in that bottom line I had an ODD flashback to another puzzle that used a similar theme. But it was long ago and far away and USELESS to try to recall deets.

DIONYSIA. One of those things you could live your entire life without ever knowing unless you happen to do crossword puzzles. SW was ugly and the last to fill. Is wager really synonymous with win/lose? I don’t know, maybe I’m just not quaint enough.

My nephew loved Steve URKEL when he was a youngster in the 90s and even dressed up like him for Halloween one year. He went around saying “did I do that?” and generally driving everybody nuts.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

It will be clear when the penny drops?
Um, yeah. Just as you will be full when you’re sated. Or nude when you disrobe or rich when you’re wealthy.The phrase when the penny drops mean the thing has become clear. Sheesh.

Carola 10:14 AM  

Delightful. As a theme idea and in grid design. I loved following the tortoise to the finish line while the hare is still back there napping. Like @Barbara S, I noticed the presence of the much craftier Brer Rabbit up in the corner, who regularly catches Brer Fox and Brer Bear napping, if only metaphorically. Perhaps a bridge too far to note the Peter Collins also shares his name with another.... So many other treats, too - GREMLIN, ELECTRA, SCAPULA....my favorites were DIONYSIA and OH DRY UP, which was regularly heard in the 1950s in my corner of the Midwest.

Do-overs: DOORknob, SLOW but STEADY. No idea: URKEL.

@Peter Collins - Top notch in wit and execution - thank you.

bocamp 10:19 AM  

Joe PALOOKA: one of my fave comic strips from days of yore.

@Barbara S. (9:16 AM)

Thx for the Ravel vid; loved the visual bacchanalia! 🎉

td 0 (what a changeup from yd's debacle)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Peter P,
Yeah. Your industry uses the term exactly as every other person who doesn’t do any work with addiction.

rjkennedy98 10:26 AM  

This Wednesday had some excellent fill and great clues. As other's have mentioned the clue for DOORBELL was outstanding. I also enjoyed the clues for REF, ECTO, and DORM.

My only real criticism is that this is another puzzle about a much overused crossword staple (AESOP) directly after yesterday's ABBA puzzle. I think I would appreciate both puzzles a bit more if they weren't about words that show up in every 3rd puzzle.

pabloinnh 10:38 AM  

With the exception of DIONYSIA and the correct spelling of URKEL, this one went about as fast as I could write. Ran into the "classic fable" clue early and for some reason thought oh, TORTOISE and the HARE, and Bob was my uncle and that was that.

No ARCH vs. TECH confusion here, as I often need TECH support but so far don't require ARCH support.

Nice to see ECTO again, which I will no longer confuse with ENDO or MESO.

OHDRYUP seems to me like it would appear in one of the noir hard-boiled detective novels that OFL is so fond of.

So a nice feat of construction, with Mr. TOTOISE achieving the finish line in the SE corner, where it should be, while Mr. HARE is asleep somewhere in the Great Lakes. Fun Wednesdecito, PAC, but a Piece A Cake here.

JD 10:39 AM  

@Frantic, I also struggled with Warner. Time. Time Warner, whuh?

@PeterP, Thanks. Thoughtfully written and helpful.

@Stimpson, And Disbar. An Attorney may face disbarment.

@Whoever made the suggestion, Clicking on a "name" to brush way the nonessentials was a good suggestion from yesterday.

Peter P 10:46 AM  

@10:23 - I suspected so, but I often get asked what's the difference between a "lapse" and a "relapse" in the context of that work so I'm not entirely sure _everyone_ uses the word the same way. It's a common enough question that my feeling of usage is that there's some blurring in the meaning between the two words in certain contexts. I mean, there's posters here admitting to it being used synonymously, so I personally didn't want to overgeneralize based on how it is used in a field I sometimes work with.

That said, I do agree "reLAPSE" is a much better answer for 16D, but I can admit LAPSE.

mathgent 10:48 AM  

Like @bocamp (10:19), I read Joe Palooka comics as a kid. They were big in the late thirties. He originally was a dumb guy but changed into a person of average-or-above intelligence as the comic changed going into the forties. But the word PALOOKA still means a stupid person. It also means an average prizefighter, even though Joe was the heavyweight champion.

The slogan I remember is "With a name like Smuckers it's got to be good."

Good entry with a good clue. ELECTRA.

GILL I. 10:49 AM  

Well...Peter is a pro and he probably put this together as quickly as I lickety split my chocolate mint ice cream cone.
What is cute, you ask? well, if you like reading morals of stories. I don't because they always end up disappointing me. I always wondered why the wolf disguised himself in sheep's clothing. Who does that?
Anyway....I found this a bit on the "old words used in puzzle" side.
Was it symmetrical and diabolical and crafty and Joe PALOOKAish? I guess so.
On OH DRY UP....That was a new one on me. I can imagine the DO NOT Prohibition starter telling Leary those precise words. What happened to SHUT YER YAP?

@TTimble. I believe it was ACME who coined "malapops." Remember her? Gadzooks, we sure are missing some oldie goldies.

@Barbara S. Thanks for the EGON Schiele self portrait. I have a post card size print of it somewhere in my collectables. He was sooooo ahead of his time and died way too young.

I'm off to find and play with some more Monarch's.

Canon Chasuble 10:58 AM  

Ah, another song from childhood:

I'm Popeye the Sailor Man
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man
I'm strong to the finich
Cause I eats me spinach
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man

I'm one tough Gazookus
Which hates all Palookas
Wot ain't on the up and square
I biffs 'em and buffs 'em
And always out roughs 'em
But none of 'em gets nowhere

If anyone dares to risk my "Fisk"
It's "Boff" an' it's "Wham" un'erstan'?
So keep "Good Be-hav-or"
That's your one life saver
With Popeye the Sailor Man

Joseph Michael 10:59 AM  

Easy though clever theme, but my favorite row in the puzzle is OH, DRY UP, PALOOKA! Also liked USELESS LEGBONE. I guess that’s what the HARE thought when he woke up and realized he had lost the race.

egsforbreakfast 11:02 AM  

A not very fun fact: Mho is the reciprocal of OHM, both in spelling and in physics. OHM is a unit of resistance, mho is a unit of conductance.

Although the puzzle was easy, I somehow tore through it like a herd of turtles and only noticed the significance of the circled letters on examining my completed grid.

Nice construction feat, Peter A. Collins.

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me 11:10 AM  

Throughout the time I was solving, I was remembering the Wait Wait (Bluff the Listener) segment in which Maeve Higgins told a story about a tor-toys. She said that wasn't an Irish pronunciation; she just had never heard it spoken and so had pronounced it the way it looked. So as I solved, I spelled out tor-toys, letter by letter.

(Sorry I don't know how to embed a link, but here's the segment)


jberg 11:10 AM  

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there,
After the day was done.
"Tis very rude of him," she said
"To come and spoil the fun."

I felt the same way about BRER Rabbit, popping into the puzzle just to gloat over his less clever cousin. If your theme is about a rabbit, make your rabbits theme-related.

I got as far as TAKES A NAP, notice the HARE in the circles, and immediately filled in TORTOISE & SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE. Then I notice the symmetrically placed LOSES A BIT, and I had a huge number of crosses to work.

But the theme was nice. I don't know how Rex could think it was a nice touch that the HARE ended at TAKES A NAP, but think it was a gratuitous themer. It's very essential, to match the TORTOISE that ends at the end of WINS THE RACE -- which makes sense of it all, including the diagonal paths.

Lot's of clever cluing for DOORBELL, REF, SLOP, STEP, APPEAL. made the solving fun.

I grew up reading the Joe PALOOKA strip; it was maybe 10 more years bbefore I had any idea that the word had a meaning.

@Nancy, I got STN for crosses, but left blanks in ES o/a S and ELE c/k TRA (concerning which, @Son Volt, the clue says "she.")

@TTrimble -- I think 'malapop' was Acme's coinage; Rex may be boycotting it.

@Southside -- SCAPULA obscure? It's behind you! (Obscure panto reference there.)

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

There’s a plaque to Joe Palooka in Ashley Pa. Ham Fischer, Joe’s creator, was born there.
Locals actually call the hill where the plaque is Joe Palooka mountain. It’s just outside of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Pretty close to Nescopeck, which is a great place for nesting veery and black throated green warblers.
And of course, pheasant hunting in the Fall.

Frantic Sloth 11:14 AM  

Rex's writeup highlights aspects of the grid that I completely missed ( shocking, I know), and while he considers them nitty, I found that they actually enhanced the theme. So, thanks?

Totally with @TTrimble 725am on the DOORBELL/DOORknob thing. What kind of boorish behavior is that, Rex?? Ridiculous paragraph.
And then @Joe R 830am makes a good point about which door is involved. Hmm.

Also, OHDRYUP has a definite 50s/60s TV era vibe. Think "Leave It to Beaver". Sorta reminds me of what my older brother used to say to me when I snooped around him and his friends: "drag your nose!"
Also, what @BigJay 892am said!
@Joaquin 1000am "Dry up and blow away!" 🤣 I remember that one!

@JD 922am, @J-Dip 936am Few people know that there is a woodland creature version of On the Waterfront in which the Brando character is called Harey Malloy. I think "Watership Down" was a sequel.

@Z928am Inessential/unessential, inalienable/unalienable: How very 1776 of your criticism.

Hand up for noticing the bystander, BRER in the puzzle. 👍

jae 11:17 AM  

Easy. Cute theme, nice visual, spotty fill, liked it.

Whatsername 11:25 AM  

Little known fact that Aesop left out of the original tale: Following the race an APPEAL was filed by the attorney for the HARE, claiming the race was unfairly rigged to aid the TORTOISE. The attorney, a real PALOOKA with bad hair dye, vowed to stop the sleepy old TORTOISE from stealing the victory with his SLOW AND STEADY pace. “My client won that race! He won it by a lot!” he declared while holding up a stack of sworn statements from BRER Rabbit, Peter Rabbit, Roger Rabbit, Thumper and the Energizer Bunny.

The Fox, being a yuge promoter of his close friend the hare, immediately ordered a forensic examination of the foot tracks along the path to make certain that no underage, dead or illegal tortoises had snuck in and cheated by helping the sleepy old tortoise along. Emboldened by this good news, the hare continued to confidently proclaim victory to his adoring supporters who had not yet been thrown under a bus or arrested for disorderly conduct.

Ultimately however, the tortoise went on to take his rightful place on the podium and be sworn in as the true winner when his hard-shelled victory was confirmed by the tracking chip which had been secretly inserted into both participants when they received their Covid vaccines, a requirement for race entry. The hare was last seen smoothing his hair and hopping south, closely followed by his decidedly happy wife and his brood of identical children.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

@Wait Wait:

Not the first time. When I was in college, lo these many decades ago, one of my circle was a recent transplant from some Hispanic country Down South, no idea which one. At some point in a conversation we all got to trading teeth brushing regimens. She allowed has how she preferred Col-got-tay Tooth-pahst-tay. Chuckles erupted, of course. Another example of the stupidity of American English.

And, when did Pabst Blue Ribbon go from a quality, regional I think, beer to no better than horse piss? Not that I drink any kind of beer, but that's what I've heard.

Frantic Sloth 11:47 AM  

And just like that, @Whatsername 1125am wins the comments today! 🤣

Doc John 11:48 AM  

An enjoyable puzzle.
Guess why the answers went diagonally? Because they fit! And what’s so bad about a diagonal race course?
I’m also anti-ONLSD. At least make it ONACID
And for God’s sake, Rex, get over your anti-JKR/HP stuff. You’re starting to look childish and petty. It’s crap like this that makes us lose elections.

Joe Dipinto 11:48 AM  

@F-Slo & JD – There's also this. It's not that funny but it's easy to sing along to.

Doc John 11:50 AM  

Love it!

johnk 12:15 PM  

Another solve-in-my-head day.
BTW, when I arrive at a front door, I first try the DOORBELL. If no one answers, then I knock because maybe the DOORBELL doesn't work. If Rex tries the doorknob, he might be entering without permission, which is a crime. Vote no on doorknob!

Joaquin 12:19 PM  

@Whatsername (11:25) - Good one!

Wundrin' 12:20 PM  

@Nancy. What would you think if someone blew off the theme in one of your puzzles and then declared the whole thing "MEH'?

albatross shell 12:22 PM  

H A R E should be spaced out. The HARE hops. The TORTOISE takes it step by step. Hard to make the race come out right.

Really interesting variety of answers today. The whole is more than the sum.

A 12:25 PM  

Entertaining Rex writeup - agreed mostly, but that’s quite the sense of entitlement about opening doors without knocking.

Hopped and skipped around this one, got to the mischief-maker and plopped in GREMLIN. I like the idea of a creature whose sole purpose is to cause trouble. (My “one who whistles while working” was an elF.) At that point I thought “who this constructor with the dark sense of humor” - aha, Peter Collins. MRCOOL.

The TORTOISE and the HARE was always problematic for me: for one thing, I could never suspend my disbelief enough to believe the damned hare would actually fall asleep. (I was a very literal-minded child.) But really, the real moral should be “stay focused” - SLOW AND STEADY doesn’t always win the race.

The NYT has a new NYT 5 minutes that will make you love segment which I recommend. Some of the selections are excellent. Mahler, whose birthday is today, is there twice. I tried listening to them while typing but had to stop. You just can’t do justice to good music if you split your attention. Stay focused.

One thing everyone with ears should have the opportunity to do is sit on stage with a live orchestra. Every time I’m in an audience I feel deprived of the real sound, and end up cupping my hands behind my ears to get it. Try that the next time you attend a concert - it’s eye-opening.

Thanks, Peter, for the fun trip.

Unknown 12:29 PM  

@Z 9:28 I know how you love to have the answer to everything, but . . . . here is the full (and interesting) story as to how PBR became the beer of choice at hipster dive bars:

In the late 90s, PBR was doing poorly. Really poorly. They were shutting down its breweries, selling their formula to Miller, and in 2001, they would sell only a million barrels, its lowest in dozens of years, and 90% below its peak in the mid 70s. They believed that their demographic was the 40 to 60 year olds, who were the ones who loved PBR during its peak. But boy oh boy were they wrong.

Around 2001, there were a couple of interesting things that popped up. Kid Rock wore a PBR belt buckle, and some top snowboarders in Utah adopted PBR as their drink of choice. Most likely these were intentionally ironic actions, but these days, who knows? Also, people in Portland were drinking it too. This was all brought to the notice of a newly hired marketer named Neal Stewart, who was only 27 at the time, and soon rose to be the brand marketing manager.

So he went around the bars in Portland and he started handing out PBR schwag. He wouldn't be dressed PBR, and he would never overtly advertise. He'd just sit there, and people would come up to him and ask for the stuff that most other beer companies could never force on people. The people liked PBR because it was scarce, cheap, and plagued with persistent rumors of imminent bankruptcy. Neal saw this, and decided to cash in on it. Under him, PBR's marketing was to do as little as possible. When Kid Rock came around to ask for an endorsement they told him to shove it, and made it public. When the Pro snowboarders offered for PBR to endorse their competitions, PBR did nothing, but they made sure people knew they were doing nothing with the big guys.

Instead, who they sponsored were the Portland hipsters. They sponsored skateboarding meets, art galleries, independent publishers, and they did it in such a way as to not appear corporate. And with every little event they sponsored, they built their network, they built brand loyalty among subcultures that hate corporations, hate marketing, and were previously thought immune to such tactics. Having Kid Rock endorse them would have cost 500k, hiring 10 reps per city to go convince small bars and neighborhood institutions to carry PBR cost the same and was much more effective. In 2003, at the peak of these marketing campaigns, half of PBR's whole workforce was involved in these marketing efforts, and in the end, it was such grass roots marketing that got PBR firmly established as the hipster beer of choice.

More info can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/22/magazine/the-marketing-of-no-marketing.html or http://money.cnn.com/2009/12/10/news/companies/pbr_pabst_blue_ribbon.fortune

kitshef 12:31 PM  

Neat coincidence. I'm sitting here watching Bewitched. It's an early (b&w) episode where Mrs. Kravitz thinks she has psychic powers and is holding a seance. Mr. Kravitz tells her to stop, and she says "Oh, dry up". At which point, he turns into a pile of dust.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Ecto is huge in our family. We use it, in effect, to mean energy. E.g., I was going to cut the grass, but I ran out of ecto.
Not that anyone should care, but we didn’t pick it up from Ghostbusters, but the much older film Topper.
From Ghostbusters my mom would occasionally say “ zhul, you nut” which is more or less what BillMurrays char ever says to dig our net Weavers character after she’s been possessed.
Like I said, useless info. Except maybe Hipping someone to Topper. It’s really a terrific film.

Unknown 12:35 PM  

What bathroom or bedroom has a doorbell?

thfenn 12:39 PM  

@Southside Johnny, I remember Schlitz! Loved it. Think it's owned by Pabst now. So there was a great baseball pitcher named Mil Famey. But sometimes he'd drink too much while out carousing the night before a game, and it sometimes proved to be his undoing. After a long string of stellar outings during a long ago season, he went on a drinking spree before an important game, and during the game had no luck locating his fastball. Put hitter after hitter on base with walks. After the game, two opposing players were wondering why he'd been so bad. Didn't you hear? Drank too much Schlitz last night, "the beer that made Mil Famey walk us".

JD 12:59 PM  

@Whatsername Whoa! You outdid yourself.

@JoeD That's pretty funny, especially the Brando voice. They can use it if they make On the Waterfront a musical.

@Frantic Was that a children's book by any chance?

OffTheGrid 1:05 PM  

Speaking of a mischief-maker...SEE THESE

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

OH DRY UP sounds like something my mother would have said in the '60s. It's quaintly familiar in any case.

I thought spreading out the TORTOISE across the grid to indicate participant #1's lack of velocity was very clever. And since the only way to do that would be diagonally, that answers Rex's question of why.

I thought the DOORBELL clue was cute and the answer ON LSD made me snort. Peter Collins, thank you for the fun Wednesday puzzle.

GILL I. 1:19 PM  

@Whatsername: clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap and then some.......

Teedmn 1:30 PM  

@Whatsername, your fable got a rave review from my puzzle-solving co-worker. Great stuff!

Anoa Bob 1:36 PM  

Monday's puzzle was light on theme material but with only 30 black squares, there was room for lots of interesting fill. Today we get a theme heavy puzzle but with 44 (!) black squares, there isn't much room left for anything else. Take your pick. I think the fill is equally if not more important than the theme, so I'm going for the Monday offering. Seems to me that a T O R T O I S E vs HARE theme would be more appropriate for a puzzle constructed for children.

I've been watching the 2021 Tour de France bicycle RACE on TV, as much to see the people and sights of France as to see the racers. I would say that most of the cyclists are ECTOmorphs.

Was 39D "Boston Bruins icon" ORR still playing when the last of the 59D "Fast former fliers, for short" SSTS made a flight? SSTS can come in handy when stuff like LOSE A BET, SNAG and WIN won't fill their slots.

Barbara S. 1:36 PM  

@Whatsername (11:25)

A 1:41 PM  

@Joe Dipinto, interesting about Laura Rembert/Shorty yesterday - that must be it, I looked for a bit but found no other references to Rembert. I found the recording and it was very COOL.

“OHDRYUP” didn’t ring any bells, and I initially thought it rude (Hi @Frantic) but now folks have shared their stories I get “quaint.” @BigJay thanks, I’ll have to rewatch Desk Set. And @albatross shell, I can totally hear it coming from orphan Cagney. But if Frank or Joe ever said it, they’d have to answer to Aunt Gertrude.

@RooMonster, thanks for mentioning the choppy grid - I had reservations about that too.

@Wait wait 11:10am, I remember that segment - great stuff.

@Whatsername 11:25am, that’s pure genius.

@OffTheGrid, I thought of mentioning those - nice link!

Charles Young 1:58 PM  

Rex- all lines are straight.

pabloinnh 2:01 PM  

After I posted I remembered that I wanted to add "and blow away" to my memory of OHDRYUP, but when I went through later comments I saw that @joaquin had already done so.

This does not surprise me.

@Whatshername-Like most funny stuff, some uncomfortable truths in there. Bien hecho!

Nancy 2:07 PM  

@Whatsername -- That was a truly inspired send-up! Loved it! Kudos.

@Wundrin' -- If you're really, sincerely, genuinely wundrin' and not just being snarky, I'll be happy to tell you. I try to make sure that a solver can't "blow off" the theme -- i.e, the puzzle will not be solvable unless the theme is understood. Any theme I come up with needs to be the trick on which all else depends and not just some sort of grid design that the solver's eye can skip right past and, should it happen to do so, missing seeing that grid design won't set back the ultimate solve in any way.

Admittedly, grid design is an aspect of themes that some solvers love -- Jeff Chen being a prime example. But I don't love it as a solver since it doesn't require me to DO anything. And therefore I would never consider employing that sort of theme as a constructor. My goal -- always, always -- is to make the solver have to think.

Frantic Sloth 2:08 PM  

@J-Dip 1248am I realize it's beside the point, but "Let's rock!" 🤣

And now, thanks to @JD, I need that musical.

@JD 1259pm Yes. In the same vein as "Animal Farm".

JC66 2:13 PM  


Excellent! Loved it!

tea73 3:32 PM  

Joining in the kudos for @Whatsername .

GILL I.'s mention of wolves (in sheep's clothing) reminded me of a Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode where two characters were discussing the story of the boy who cried wolf:

Bashir: But the point [of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"] is, if you lie all the time, nobody's going to believe you, even when you're telling the truth.
Garak: Are you sure that's the point, doctor?
Bashir: Of course, what else could it be?
Garak: That you should never tell the same lie twice.

GILL I. 3:52 PM  

A week of WONDERFulicious comments. What to do if we didn't have a @Frantic, @JD Animal Farm. A @Whatsername singing the praises of Mr. Orange Nehi omitting the Kool Aid (dang)....@Nancy telling @Wundrin to basically go slip on a banana peel, @A and the orphan Cagney, @thfenn drinking too much Schlitz last night. @Z forgetting to go to WIki....@kitshef watching Bewitched...@albatross wondering if there are females PALOOKAs. .... Too many more to list.
I',m outside watching butterflies to their fandango tango.
Keep the laughs coming.

JD 5:25 PM  

@Gill, This why the butterflies visit you, you're Sweetalicious and hilarious! They're know for their sense of humor.

Whatsername 5:28 PM  

Thanks all, for the kind words. Occasionally inspiration strikes. 😊

Unknown 8:41 PM  

Loved your pun. I remember Rheingold, Schlitz and Pabst...before beer got stylish.

Zygotic 9:15 PM  

@Unknown 12:29 - Good stuff. I had heard there was a Portland connection but never saw the full story so just assumed the Portland thing was just part of the folklore. Good to see the full story.

@Charles Young - Telephone lines, fishing lines, lines at the bank, lines at the port-a-potties at a music festival, lines of poetry, an actor’s line, a pick-up line… Let me give it to you straight, most lines aren’t.

@Whatsername - Are you related to Rocky?

Breakfast Tester 11:53 PM  

Do you really not get that the race starts at the beginning of the first answer and finishes at the end of the last answer??? Sheesh!

Josie Owens 3:23 PM  

Katherine Hepburn says “Oh, dry up!” In Desk Set when the phone won’t stop ringing. I think it is the only time I’ve heard the phrase. We need to bring it back!

thefogman 9:19 AM  

I liked this one. A bit easy but pretty well-executed theme, I got up before 6:00 this morning so I could beat the heat for my run, Now I’m going to do like the HARE and TAKE(S)ANAP.

spacecraft 11:04 AM  

Yeah, you get to that middle line and start SL...uh huh. Thus has the whole store been given away. But I must admit, the visual representation is spot on. Poor HARE runs smack into a black square, which knocks him out, while BRER TORTOISE rests between every STEP and gets all the way to the finish line.

A few fill squabbles: sometimes you might call Stew or SouP mysterious, but even in a cafeteria they wouldn't call something SLOP. "Grabs skillfully" is one hell of a clue for SNAGS. The grabber evidently didn't hit any SNAGS... And then there's EGON, who I'm sure tens of people know as some painter named Schiele. It's only Wednesday; the Ghostbuster dude would be fine for now.

One of those cool -A endings can be DOD: Carmen ELECTRA. I wish the theme had been a little harder to see, but still enjoyed the solve. Birdie.

Burma Shave 12:29 PM  


If THE GAL APPEALs to you,
Say, "MADAM, NOW what we will DO


rondo 12:39 PM  

OFL must like P. Collins or we would have heard the semi-frequent rant that TAKESANAP and LOSESABET are akin to 'eatsasandwich'. EVENSO, I'm surprised he liked it. ONLSD ONAPAR APOP? DONOT.

What a GAL!

This was OK, didn't APPEAL to me all that much.

leftcoaster 4:34 PM  

Rex says the puzzle was over before it began. I DO NOT agree.

SLOW AND STEADY Is the pace,

Some ODDs needed some thinking: In the SW corner: HBO NOW, EGON, and DASANI; in the SE, DIONYSIA; In the middle, ECTO; and in the NE, had Bizet before REVEL.

Very clever and lots of fun.

leftcoaster 4:51 PM  

Funniest retort of the times (so far): OH DRY UP!

leftcoaster 6:43 PM  


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