Jan 19, 2011

Wednesday January 19, 2011 Michael Sharp and Angela Olson Halsted

Theme: TANKS A LOT! Theme entries are all vertical today, and all start, or are topped, with some type of a TANK - and a different type of tank in each case.

3D. *"Heads up!" : THINK FAST - a warning to react quickly. A THINK TANK is an organization designed to influence policy.

8D. *Pioneering Frank King comic strip featuring Walt and Skeezix : GASOLINE ALLEY. I have vague recollections of this strip from my long-ago youth Skeezix gave it away. A GASOLINE TANK stores fuel in your vehicle, unless you use some type of alternate fuel.

17D. *Award-winning author of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" : SHERMAN ALEXIE. The first of many unknowns for me. He is a novelist and poet. Here is his web site. The SHERMAN TANK is an armored war vehicle prominently used in WW II by the U.S. and allied forces. It fired a 75 mm SHELL (not 10 D.) The German Tiger fired an 88 mm shell.

33D. *Trendy place for a breather? : OXYGEN BAR, per Wikipedia, an establishment, that sells oxygen for recreational use. I am not making this up. An OXYGEN TANK is a simple utilitarian device that allows divers to go underwater without having to hold their breath, and astronauts to complete space walks.

And the unifier, 24 D. Sleeveless summer wear, or what each answer to a starred clue might be said to have : TANK TOP. Worthy of a picture.

Hi, gang, JazzBumpa here. This is a great puzzle from a constructing team that I don't recognize, but it gave me fits: way too many unknowns for my little pea brain to cope with.

(Note from C.C.: Michael Sharp is Rex Parker. Angela Olson Halsted is PuzzleGirl. Congratulations on the LA Times debut!)


1. They may be indoor or outdoor : PETS. Gold fish vs dogs, I suppose.

5. Starr with rhythm : RINGO. The mop-topped drummer who played long ago with some band from England. Inexplicably, my first thought was of Bart.

10. Angel dust, for short : PCP. AKA 1-(1-phenylcyclohexyl) piperidine, an antiglutamatergic hallucinigen. Dangerous stuff. Skip this, and go for the oxygen.

13. Yearn (for) : ACHE

14. Like a supportive crowd : AROAR

15. Come as you __ : ARE. Just the way you are.

16. China flaw : CHIP. Happens when you bang the dishes together.

17. Far from dense : SPARSE. As in densely or SPARSELY populated. I like a dense coating of nutmeg, but use parsley SPARSELY.

18. Source of rays : SUN.

19. "West Side Story" duet : TONIGHT. Worthy of a listen.

21. Prepare to seal, as an envelope : MOISTEN. Lick it, lick it good!

23. Classic Welles role : KANE. Again from Wikipedia -- "The story is a film à clef that examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles, a character based upon the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and Welles' own life." Hearst was not amused.

24. Whopper : TALL TALE. Al explained TALL to us last week. I believed him.

25. Sunscreen letters : SPF. Sun Protection Factor.

27. 7-Down's "Casta diva," e.g. : ARIA. This confused me. I thought the clue was looking for a character, not a song.

29. UN workers' gp. : ILO. International Labor Organization. From its website, "The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues."

30. Fab rival : ERA. These are laundry soap products. Try G-spotting either word, and you'll come up with everything else. Here is a commercial - good to know if you have kids or outdoor PETS.

31. Agt. under Ness : T-MAN. Treasury Agent. Eliot Ness enforced prohibition in Chicago. His big prize was Al Capone, but they could never convict him for any of his gang-land crimes, so they got him for tax evasion, and violations of the Volstead Act.

32. Hose : NYLONS. Stockings, that is, not this.

36. Playwright Hart : MOSS. His plays include You Can't Take It With You, and The Man Who Came To Dinner. He also did the screenplay for A Star Is Born (19454.) I wanted BRET, but that's Harte.

38. Place for a bracelet : ANKLE. Some of them are adornments. Here is the Lindsey Lohan Model.

40. Suit : EXEC. Synonyms for corporate big wig.

41. Like some conditional statements : IF-THEN. IF I knew more stuff, THEN I could have completed this puzzle.

43. Warty amphibian : TOAD. An outdoor PET.

45. Singer Sumac : YMA. Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chávarri del Castillo was a Peruvian singer, reportedly descended from the last Peruvian emperor, Atahualpa.

46. Hard-rock link : AS A. Or, "Grey as a mouse, Big as a house."

47. Eye hungrily : OGLE. And in a rude way.

48. Hunk : GOB. A big ol' chunk o' somethin', and not this.

49. Polite links response : GOLF CLAP. A quiet smattering of polite applause.

53. Loll : LAZE

55. Outfit : CLOTHES

56. Drive crazy : DERANGE. I believe this is the first time I've seen DERANGE used as a transitive verb. I once DERANGED a kitchen, for remodeling.

59. Back talk : LIP

60. Like former admirals : EX-NAVY

62. Surefooted goat : IBEX. Well-endowed fellows.

63. Pre-holiday day : EVE

64. Handle with skill : WIELD

65. Hindu royal : RANI

66. Shriner's cap : FEZ

67. Lowly workers : SERFS

68. Part of Q.E.D. : ERAT. The complete phrase is, "Quod ERAT demonstrandum," that which was to be demonstrated - or, in the vernacular: "See - told ya!"


1. Warsaw __ : PACT. An alliance of eight European communist countries, from 1955 through 1991, to counterbalance N.A.T.O.

2. Bounce : ECHO. A sound that bounces back.

4. Dark brown pigment : SEPIA

5. Mesmerized : RAPT

6. George's musical partner : IRA. More than just partners - they were a band of brothers.

7. Bellini opera : NORMA. The tragic story of the love of NORMA, a Druidess, for Pollione, the Roman Proconsul.

9. 1990s "Inside Edition" host : O'REILLY (Bill)

10. Shells, e.g: PASTA. Not the 75 mm variety.

11. Unusual companion? : CRUEL. This took me a long time to suss. These words are paired in the phrase "CRUEL and unusual punishment," prohibited by the 8th Amendment to the U.S Constitution.

12. 10-Down type : PENNE. More PASTA, cylinder shaped with slanted ends.

20. Tiny biter : GNAT. Should be obvious, but I needed perp help.

22. Lifted : STOLE. The fur lifter STOLE a mink STOLE.

25. Climbing lane occupant : SEMI. A climbing lane is an extra lane in the highway, designated for large vehicles that can't climb hills quickly. I've seen them, but never knew the name, so I was stumped.

26. Univ. employee : PROF. A Professor. Note abrv in cl and ans.

28. John in Scotland : IAN. The Scottish version of the name, not to be confused with his English cousin, Loo.

34. Hard-to-find clownfish : NEMO. From the eponymous movie.

35. Picketer's bane : SCAB. A worker who crosses a picket line during a strike.

37. Vertical passage : SHAFT. I've got mine!

39. Captain Kirk's record : LOG. I believe every episode of the original Star Trek series started with a Captain's Log entry.

42. Stays away from : ESCHEWS. My favorite bumper sticker says: "Eschew Obfuscation."

44. Pricey : DEAR. Experience teaches a dear school. That confused me when I was a kid.

49. Staff symbol : G CLEF. I'm a bass (F) cleff guy.

50. Drab color : OLIVE.

51. 1990s-2000s Braves catcher Javy : LOPEZ. I had _ _ PEZ, so it was an easy guess.

52. Ed of "Up" : ASNER. I forgot. Very poignant movie.

54. Rumble in the Jungle setting : ZAIRE. Challenger Muhammed Ali knocked out world heavyweight champion George Foreman in the 8th round. This was one of Don King's early ventures, and he cooked up the deal with Mobutu Sésé Seko.

56. Netflix shipments : DVDS

57. Actress Rowlands : GENA. She played Gloria.

58. __ poll : EXIT. Polling of voters leaving the voting site is considered to be highly accurate.

61. "Go Simpsonic With the Simpsons" composer Clausen : ALF. No idea. This is the 1999 sound track album. Can't find a YouTube vid, so here is the album cover.

Answer grid.



Dennis said...

Good morning, Jazz, C.C. and gang - did I miss something? Is this Saturday? Seriously, this much obscurity on a Wednesday?

As with Jazz, I didn't recognize the constructors' names until reading C.C.'s note this morning. Also as with Jazz, I had problems all over the place. 'Golf clap'?? What, pray tell, is that? Something you get from dirty balls? Seriously, without listing all the verbage, 17D, 61D, 9D, 8D, 27A were just a bit obscure, especiallyfor a Wednesday. I also didn't like 'gob' for 'hunk'; I think a gob is something slimy, like phlegm, whereas a hunk is something solid.

Maybe it's just me, but I had a real struggle getting through this one. On a positive note, I liked seeing 'eschews', a favorite word of mine. Clever theme; it took me the unifier to see it. All in all, a decent puzzle with some good clues among the obscure, but one I think more fitting for a Friday or Saturday. Anyway, congrats to the constructors on getting published; no mean feat.

Today is National Popcorn Day.

Did You Know?:

- In late-1600s Puritan society, a child over 16 convicted of cursing at a parent was sentenced to death. Being a stubborn or rebellious child also earned you a death sentence.

- At 840,000 square miles, Greenland is the world's largest island. It is three times the size of Texas.

- At -90 degrees Fahrenheit, your breath will freeze in midair and fall to the ground.

Lemonade714 said...

Holy humpers, our old buddy Rex Parker and Puzzle Girl appear,my title is clearly “TANKS but no THANKS.” 42 of the 76 words are 3 or 4 letters long, another 17 are 5 letters, with only 6 words with 8 or more letters. JzB. Your write up is fantabulous, I almost choked on the Lohan anklet. I am glad you like the puzzle.

The puzzle is scrabbly with some very au courant concepts such as OXYGEN BAR which I have never been to try; the somewhat insulting GOLF CLAP ; a book written for teenagers by a Native American author SHERMAN ALEXIE, Jr. who I have neither read, nor even heard anything about; however, he does sound interesting. We also have OXYGEN BAR which I have never been to try; the somewhat insulting GOLF CLAP ; a book written for teenagers by a Native American author SHERMAN ALEXIE, Jr. who I have neither read, nor even heard anything about; however, he does sound interesting. We also have CLIMBING LANE a concept so foreign to someone who has lived in Florida for 40 years, as to be almost impossible to grok.

Despite it all, it was not really difficult, just not my cup of tea, it is still a puzzle and I liked Rex’s NY Times debut puzzle. While it is normally my policy if I cannot say anything nice, I do not say anything at all, I have read enough of Rex’s work to feel obligated to wield my pen as honestly and negatively as he does his.

Oh, I did like the reference to GASOLINE ALLEY, which may be lost on our younger solvers, but in keeping with our recent Mort Walker clue. And THINK FAST conjures many memories from my childhood, and CRUEL and UNUSUAL was good.

Peace out

Hahtoolah said...

Good Morning, JazzB and Friends. Wow! What a fun puzzle! I sailed through this one. I must have been on the same wavelength as the constructors. Interesting that they both have their own blogs. Will our commentators soon have their by-lines on these puzzles?

I discovered YMA Sumac from doing crossword puzzles. She appears frequently. Wow! What a voice!

I love those early comic strips. They remind me of my grandfather.

My favorite clue was Unusual Partner = CRUEL.

I couldn't open the Simpson Cover/Composer link. If I were a composer, I am not sure I would want to be remembered for my work on the Simpsons.

QOD: It takes a long time to become young. ~ Pablo Picasso.

Barry G. said...

Morning, all!

I'll confess, I haven't been particularly impressed with Mr. Sharp's puzzles in the NYT (as with books and movies, critics rarely make good creators). This one, however, was enjoyable and smooth as butter. I guess it helps having a partner!

The only total unknowns were LOPEZ and SHERMAN ALEXIE, but I was able to get them easily via the perps. Lots of fresh fill, including GOLF CLAP, GASOLINE ALLEY and OXYGEN BAR, and the theme was very fresh as well. A bit on the easy side for a Wednesday, but overall a very nice, solid effort.

Dick said...

Good morning Jazz and all, a fun puzzle this morning. I would guess that unless you are ancient, like me, you might have had some problems with this puzzle. It seemed, to me, that several of the clues were from years ago, i.e. Gasoline Alley, 1990’s “Inside Edition” host and hose/nylons. Do they still call women’s stockings nylons or hose?

This was one of those c/ws that I seemed to be on the same track as the constructors and the fills came very quickly. The only pause was in the east central where Yma just did not want to surface and I guess exec is a synonym for suit, but I struggled with it.

Hand up for Starr and wanted Bart. That was a great comment and picture of the Lindsey Lohan ankle bracelet. LOL!

I liked the puzzle and cluing and as I said above I must have been on the same track as the constructors.

Great write up Jazz.

Hope you all have a great Wednesday

Hahtoolah said...

Are pets really "Indoor/out door"?

Tinbeni said...

Jazz, Informative write-up.
Thank you very much.

Leave it to Michael Sharp, who writes the "Rex Parker does the NY Times" blog, and is an English PROF, to have "no clue" that the author SHERMAN ALEXIE and his book "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" is a bit obscure.

Otherwise, a FUN Wednesday, more on the Friday difficulty level.

Caught on to the theme quickly.
YMA is now almost a gimmie.
GOB for Hunk actually got a laugh.

Later I'm heading to Honeymoon Island to walk the beach, get some SUN ... enjoy a 'Toast' since the Sunset is NOW at 6:00 pm.

Have a Great Day, y'all !!!

Anonymous said...

A fringe author as a theme answer? I don't approve.


Lemonade714 said...

Am I the only one who does not see the unifier, because to me the theme answers like SHERMAN TANK are not topped by TANK, they are bottomed. I hate to quibble, ans I understood the concept, I just do not think it is correct.
I also did not see much fresh fill.

I certainly know many people who have indoor kitties, outdoor kitties and others with indoor dogs and outdoor dogs.

I recognize the skill in creating any puzzle, I just was disappointed after seeing Rex's other work, especially with so many little words and so little originality and no humor.

Abejo said...

Good Morning Crosswordies! A thank you to the constructors, Michael and Angela. Great write-up JazzBumpa! Enjoyed many of your links.

I thought this puzzle was very good. Yes, there were many strange clues, as in 17D, but when the SHERMAN started to appear, it was easy to complete since I had TANKTOP already. ALEXIE came together easily with the crosswords.

It was nice to see the theme answers vertical for a change. Nice change of pace. OXYGENBAR was also new to me, but virtually every letter had an easy crossword. It came together.

Especially enjoyed 66A Shriner's cap/FEZ, since I wear one. We do not get in the crossword puzzles much.

In conclusion, this seemed appropriate for a Wednesday puzzle. I am still reeling over last Thursday's puzzle, which I still have not completed. I did get Friday's finished and am into Saturday.


HeartRx said...

Good Morning JazzBumpa, C.C. et al.

Thanks for the informative write-up JB. I cracked up at your parsley reference and the Lindsey Lohan ankle bracelet – funny stuff!!

I don’t know why, but I thought this was a fairly easy Wednesday puzzle, and finished with no look ups or red letter help. All of the unknowns (and there were several) were easily solved by perps. Best of all, I had a learning moment with SHERMAN ALEXIE. I had never heard of him, but after looking him up, I really want to read some of his stuff. He sounds like a funny guy.

Climbing lane was a no-brainer, as we have many of those here in the north. You always try to get past those SEMIs before the lane ends, otherwise you are stuck behind them for another 20 miles.

For 21A “Prepare to seal, as an envelope”, I wanted to put in “Tear off the little strip of paper…”, but it wouldn’t fit.

Hahtool, thanks for the link to YMA Sumac – great voice! Whenever I take my cats to the vet for their annual checkup they always ask if they are “indoor” or “outdoor” pets. It makes a difference whether they would give them a shot for Feline Leukemia virus, since indoor pets would never be exposed to it. So I had no problems with that clue, either.

All in all, it was an OK puzzle, but I’m looking forward to a more difficult one tomorrow. Have a great day, everyone!

Dudley said...

Hello Puzzlers - Just a few speed bumps in a smooth fill today. Was glad to get GASOLINE ALLEY filled in - I remember that strip but it was one of those I skipped over as a kid. NORMA didn't have a nice Italian ring to it, but there it is.

I've read about oxygen bars, not sure whether they are clever and useful or merely dangerous.

Will Lindsey Lohan ever grow up and get herself together?

Anonymous said...

Confidently filled in "pool" for 1A and it all went downhill from there.

Mainiac said...

Morning Jazz, CC and All,

I think I've finally caught the real thing from the wife and my youngest. Hopefully the oldest stays healthy. He's wicked busy and seldom home so he might be away from the germs long enough.

Once I erased some numb mistakes this filled in well, but certainly was a higher difficulty level than a Wednesday. Since I'm home it was nice to take my time to finish, sort of. Most notable errors were wrist for ankle (which I am forever erasing) and for some reason wrote C instead of G Clef. I know very little about Golf so 49A was new and my flub on 49D was no help until I read the blog. I can't remember how to read music but I thought C was more common.

Help me out Jazz. By the way, great write up!

Rain turned to ice once it hit last night. Made my driveway into a luge run. Snow again tonight and more on the way Friday. YEEHAA!

Happy Hump Day!

Dudley said...

PCP always reminds me of a spooky Reader's Digest story from 1979, in which Navy F-14 pilot Lt. Peter Chmelir got into trouble after his luggage got soaked with liquid PCP concentrate. It took a while to sort it all out, but evidently somebody was smuggling the concentrate in airline baggage. On this day the container leaked, soaking neighboring suitcases, including Lt. Chmelir's. The poor guy didn't know he was exposed to intense "angel dust". It caused a lot of problems!

kazie said...

I had no idea about three quarters of these clues, and had to wag my way through the whole thing. But I got there without google. Except that I guessed wrong in two places: YNA meant I couldn't get NEMO--was thinking ZENO at first and didn't keep thinking long enough to grok it. The other place was starting with GOMEZ in the SW, and never going back to fix LIM after I changed the top to fit GOLF.

The trouble with a CW I have to guess all of, is that when I get SOMEthing filled in, I tend to heave a sigh of relief, and never bother trying to correct it. I didn't even take the time to ponder the theme.

There was so much in this I've never heard of, it's not worth listing them. I still can't get used to ankles as places for bracelets, and that heavy one on Lohan looks awfully big and uncomfortable. I think you'd keep banging the other ankle with it and injuring yourself. It's a wonder someone hasn't cried "CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT!"

Grumpy 1 said...

Good morning and happy hump day all.

I think I need to coin a new term for this puzzle. FRUNSTRATING! At times frustrating, at times fun. There were so many clues that just drew a complete blank the first time through that I was sure it would be a DNF. GASOLINE ALLEY and ESCHEWS saved the day for me, though and as I picked my way around the grid the few letters in place would trigger a memory from somewhere.

'Climbing Lane' didn't ring any bells, even though I've spent time behind the wheel of a semi driving in them. They were always called 'truck lanes' or 'slow lanes'. Perps solved it though.

Dennis, regarding your comment about 49a and the possible cause, the better courses have strategically placed machines to help keep them clean...

carol said...

Hi all,
Boy, I agree with Dennis on the obscurity level of this. Funny how each of us reacts differently to these various puzzles. LOL on GOLF CLAP (I had an 'R' in there at first, making it CRAP.

I did fairly well on the top half but that was pretty much it.

I did finish it, but sure needed to highlight the missing letters a lot.

4D SEPIA - I always think of the old 'sepia' pictures in photo albums but did not think of that shade of brown as DARK.

33D OXYGEN BAR??? Are there really such places? Who would want to go to one? Well, maybe someone who needed a tank replacement, but seriously what are they for? I've heard of hooka bars and thought they were silly but this?!

Spitzboov said...

Good morning everyone. Thanks JazzB for a very erudite commentary. Fun to read.

At first I was a little put off by some of the clueing, but then thought: It's a puzzle, enjoy it. In hindsight I thought the clues were fair for a mid week solve. I got the long down GASOLINE ALLEY easily, but had no idea about SHERMAN ALEXIE; however the perps were helpful. Initially it did not register what was meant by 'climbing lane'. The signage in NYS mainly says something like 'slow moving vehicles keep to the right'. In any event, SEMI was an easy fill. I liked the clues for PASTA and PENNE.

Since JazzB lives near 2 Great Lakes, I thought you might be interested in seeing the current ice cover. Per the key, the 'red' equates to at least 9/10ths coverage within those zones.

daffy dill said...

Mornin', C.C., Jazz, and all.

Not a bad puzzle for me, especially after the ones from late last week. I had SHERMAN early on, but have to confess to looking up ALEXIE. Never heard of him. LOPEZ and ZAIRE were wags. When she was a teenager, my older sister almost worshipped IMA Sumac, so I never miss that one. I still don't like words like AROAR, but resigned myself to them.

GASOLINEALLEY comic strip is still extant. Our paper stopped carrying it a month or so ago. I read it every day on an online comics site. They replaced it with Spider-Man - good grief!

Dennis, your GOLFCLAP comment made me LOL for real!

Hahtool, regarding your QOD, I keep waiting to enter my second childhood, but I just keep getting older instead!

Jazzbumpa said...

Hi gang -

Quite a variety of reactions to this puzzle. I did enjoy it, despite all the new flat spots on my forehead.

Mainiac --- Oooh, I hates me some
C clef! And there are so many of them.

European symphonic music often has the trombone parts written in Tenor Clef - or even Alto clef for the first part. Sometimes copyists will shift clefs in the middle of a piece, for no apparent reason. Makes me uses bad words.

In Howard Hanson's 2nd symphony, there was a clef change that wasn't noted on my part. So I was playing a G, thinking it was bass clef, when it should have been a Tenor clef D. John looked askance at at me and said, "Just play any note in the chord." "What chord" I queried. "D Major."

The musicians among us will realize that playing the 4th (G) against a major chord results in cacophony. I was not amused.

Trumpet parts are even worse, in ways that I don't even understand.

Lemonade - Tank TOP makes sense to me, since each type of tank is at the top of the vertical theme answer.

G-spotting "Tank bottom" led to this.

This puzzle has its share of X-word cliches, but MOISTEN, DERANGE, ESCHEWS, TONIGHT and all the theme ans. are quite fresh.

JzB who has a mental block on IBEX/IBIS

Warren said...

Hi Jazz & gang, I had to g-spot the long ones today, couldn't remember Gasoline Alley - that cartoon isn't a current one in our paper and I only faintly remember it.
I'd forgotten the 'Up' movie also and I found a interview with Ed Asner on his role in it.

Hard as a Rock is an AC/DC song that I don't like very much.

My all time favorite Like a Rock song is by Bob Seger.

kazie said...

I forgot in my ranting to thank Jazz for his blogging. I enjoyed the music and the humor.

I also liked Dennis' take on the dirty balls. Put me in mind of Lewis Black's desire for a ball washer. Then blow me down if Grumpy didn't mention the real thing!

Not being confused by any knowledge of sport stars, RINGO was my first fill. PASTA took longer because I was thinking of sea shells. Getting PENNE gave that away.

I agree about the types of tanks being on top in all the theme answers, hence the tanks topping the remainder.

Nice Cuppa said...

Thanks Jazz

Wow, such mixed reactions/experiences today. Personally, I enjoyed it very much. The TANK theme helped a lot, and all of the obscure names dropped out easily from the perps.

Lemonade - the theme words refer to a kind of tank, which is at the top of the phrase/name. I don't see a problem.


Bill G. said...

Tough puzzle for me. Really fun writeup. Thanks JzB.

I figured out climbing lane though I've never heard it called that. I agree with DaffyDill, I don't like words like AROAR either.

C.C., how did you know or find out who the constructors really were? Why did they use those names?

Have you checked out the Google doodle at today? Very nice indeed.

Lucina said...

Hello, crosswordies!

Loved your blogging, Jazz, very funny as usual.

Yowza! This was a Wednesday challenge, one hour is unusual for me.

But steady and slow does it, and one by one acroos and down the fill continued. It took me a while to recall GASOLINEALLEY but that was a favorite growing up.

Did not know OREILLY or LOPEZ but once I had EVE and FEZ, it came easily as that is my mother's maiden name.

XYZ were prominent in this puzzle, that's refreshing.

I didn't look for the theme until reading the blog, clever.

I thought of GOB of mud as hunk although my first fill was GUY which was my first image.

Like the rest of you I am not familiar with SHERMANALEXIE, but it emerged with the crosses except that I had GOLFCHAP for some reason and didn't see it until the blog.

Really good music links today, thank you. As much as I've heard of YMA Sumac, I believe that is the first time I've heard her voice. Powerful!

Must go to the gym now. Have a beautiful Wednesday everyone!

JD said...

Good morning JzB, C.C. et al,

Jazz, your write-up was well worth the time I spent wagging this xwd together.You are a hoot! Loved the anklet.I had wrist for awhile. Also had ants for my 1st fill---should have known.

I really liked the theme, but had trouble finishing those answers, except for Gasoline Alley.
Carol, I liked your answer for 49A!
Dennis...too funny

moisten reminded me again of that Seinfeld episode when George's fiance dies from licking the cheap invitations.Sick humor-I loved it.

olive green....remember when orange was its mate?

Love the word derange, but have not used it as a verb.

Off to the dentist....

Zcarguy said...

My golf swing was so screwed up that I decided to go to a swing doctor to fix it,, he told me I have GolfClap..
I didn't think that was Polite...
Golf Clap ...? R U kidding me ??
What's next ?? Woods Clap??oops no I didn't !!

Jazzbumpa said...

Besides eliciting an unusually broad range of responses, this puzzle is a technical oddity.

It has 40 blocks - an unusually high number. M-W avg is 37.x, Friday avg is 31.5. The two black GOBs, at top and bottom edge give it a strange appearance, and high count.

76 words is between Wed and Thus.

64 open squares (not touching any black) is off the low end of the chart. M-W avg 69.x, Friday avg 90.8.

This all adds up to unusual geometry.

With a W, 3 X's, 3 Y's and 2 Z's, it is extremely scrabbely. Misses a pangram by a J and a Q.

Avg word length is 4.87 - Monday level, despite the Wed-Thu no. of words.

Despite the theme words and longer fill being quite original, the large number of common short words (42 at 3-4 letters) gives this puzzle a low freshness factor.

None of this is meant to be critical - just empirical data and observations. But it might provide a hint to why the reactions differed so widely.

Also, the mix of trendy with retro ideas pulls in different directions.

The only word that comes close to being dross, IMHO, is AROAR.

JzB who tends to over analyze

Chickie said...

Hola Everyone, I had to look up the most obscure clues for me: Bellini Opera/Norma, Inside Edition Host/OReilly, True Diary Author/Sherman Alexie, Braves Catcher Javy/Lopez, and Go Simpsonic composer/Alf. As I came to each one of the above there was just enough letters to start filling in around them.

I did think this was a bit harder than most Wednesdays, but for some reason I was able to finish everything else on my own.

I must have been from an era when ERA was a brand I knew. It came without a problem. Also, Gasoline Alley fell out of somewhere as did Golf Clap. We have attended a few tournaments and that is what you used to do after a well placed shot or putt. However, I hear the crowd roar more often than clap these days.

I especially liked the clues for Bounce/Echo and Lifted/Stole. Both a bit out of the box for those words.

Thanks you Jazz for a great writeup.

Also, if you have pulled up a steep incline behind a Semi and a Climbing lane (Passing Lane) becomes available it is a relief to be able to go ahead of that slow moving truck.

Have a great day everyone.

Clear Ayes said...

Good Morning All. I don't like the weak GOLF CLAP for "Polite links response" either. SCATTERED APPLAUSE is more like it for an iffy shot. Too long, I know, how about WEAK APPLAUSE?

In most of California, our CLIMBING LANES are simply called TRUCK LANES.

I'd never heard of SHERMAN ALEXIE, but that didn't stop me because GASOLINE ALLEY was a gimme.

OXYGEN BARS seem to be an expensive big city fad. When I've been treated to oxygen, it has been in a hopsital and Medicare paid the bill.

I had a Clovia Wallet doll, who was the daughter of Skeezix and Nina Wallet. Here's a photo of some TV and Comic dolls. Clovia is in the lower left of the photo. I also recognized "Little Ricky" (Lucy and Desi) and "Sparkle Plenty" (Gravel Gertie and B.O. Plenty). Anybody recognize any others?

It seems we had a lot of easy fill for a Wednesday, GNAT, IRA, ARE, SUN, LIP, EVE, FEZ, and finally YMA and GENA.

Gee, Dennis, did it count if the teenager muttered behind their parent's back? That was always my system.."What did you say??".."Nuthin'". MY daughter was pretty good at it too and I'm sure the grandsons (Rachie hasn't got to that point yet)are experts. If the noose had been perfected for such use, I don't think we would have to worry about overpopulation.

Clear Ayes said...

No excuse for not remembering SHERMAN ALEXIE. Thanks for the link Jazz. Not only is he a well-known author and movie maker, he writes poems....Oh Yeah? They do have touches of humor, but are generally very serious views of the plight of the modern Native American.

7. jonah

We've been planning the revolution for years.
We have weapons and white friends, but I fear
Indians have forgotten how to survive.
It's a complicated song and dance. Late at night
we practice. We pound invisible drums. We sing
with our mouths closed. Silence is the thing
we must learn to fear. This is the plan.
One night, we will slip from our beds and stand
together. We will stamp our feet in unison
and sing the same song loudly with strong lungs
and hearts. We will sing the old songs.
Cousins, this is not where we belong.
Way, ya, hi, yo. Way, ya, hi, yo.
Way, ya, hi, yo. Way, ya, hi, yo.
Cousins, remember how we sang and danced back then.
During the revolution, we will find our music again.

by Sherman Alexie

eddyB said...

Hi all.

How coincidental was this? Yesterday REX spent 12 column inches defending PG when she was attacked for asking for donations.

take care.

Bill G. said...

C.C., what's your impression of President Hu's visit to the US so far?

Found on MSNBC:
“Who's the president of China?”
“Who is?”
“That’s what I’m asking you. Who's the president of China?”
“Look, when they pay the president of China, who gets the money?”
“Every dollar of it.”
“Who does?”
“Yes. Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.”
“Who's wife?”
“Yes. Why not? The man’s earned it.”

Lucina said...

I forgot to mention earlier that Michael Jackson was known to use an oxygen bar; I believe it was installed in his home. Correct me if I'm wrong about that.

Have to go for a massage as my right leg cramped badly during yoga. Old is not always fun.

Lucina said...

Oops. Sorry. I meant to say "oxygen tank."

Dennis said...

I also recognized "Little Ricky" (Lucy and Desi) and "Sparkle Plenty" (Gravel Gertie and B.O. Plenty). Anybody recognize any others?

Based on the hair, is the top right one Dagwood Bumstead?

eddyB, coincidental indeed.

BillG, Letterman did that same 'Hu' bit last night. It's a natural.

Re oxygen bars, a couple of the upscale malls here had them for a while, and being a gadget freak, I had to try it. Probably the power of suggestion, but I really did come away from a 15-minute session feeling even more full of energy than normal. Obviously, I was in the minority since they didn't last long.

Gunghy said...

I wonder if the constructors stop to consider what they do to us name-challenged people? George's partner?? The only George that would come to mind was George Burns, and it took me an hour to remember that his partner was Gracie. Then, I actually had RINGA written in for the longest time before the V8 moment. And I finished with IBIX (after IBIS) because Gina fits. IAN, ALF and YMA were 100% perped before the clue was read, fortunately.

Did someone really name their kid MOSS?

O2 bars started in Southern CA, of course. Remember, you can't spell laugh without L.A.

Truck lane, yes. Climbing lane? NO. I got here before I realized I left the M's space blank.

Gasoline Alley had me thinking Brenda Starr.

Hard to believe after rereading what I've written that I liked the puzzle.

Anonymous said...

For what its worth, I did not finish, but I thought the puzzle was pretty good and IMHO, appropriate for a Wed. I did not know some of the terminology or the names - but that goes with the territory.

I did know about Sherman Alexie, though, because of his book of short stories 'Lone Ranger and Tonto have a fistfight in heaven ' - and because of a movie ('Smoke Signals', 1998 ) he had made, which won honors at the Sundance, about 8 -10 years ago.

In the movie, on an Indian reservation, the lead star, drives an old car, with the gear shift permanently stuck in Reverse - so he has to drive backwards, all the time - which I guess, is hilarious .

Since he is native American, and following the concept of 'blaxpoitation' movies, his movie could be called 'injun-ploitation' ?. On the other hand, it is well known that most minorities start with writing/making movies - about themselves, so it is understandable - and the movie was pretty good.

Hahtoolah said...

My "Indoor/Outdoor" comment about pets this morning was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. My first thought was CarPETS are indoor/Outdoor. One of my cats was actually born underneath my house (hey, it's the South, houses build in the 1950s were off the ground). She was an outdoor cat for her first 6 months, then became and in-out cat for several years, and has now decided to be a strictly indoor cat.

Anonymous said...

On an unrelated, but relevant subject, may I offer my 2 bits on the subject of donations for a blog?

I know 'PG' has a colm for 'no-pressure' donations, and I see nothing wrong with that. After all, nothing in life, is free ... if there are costs ( actual, implied, accrued or opportunity costs - ) it is very fair that the 'users' should shoulder them first.(and last -)

Rabbi Hillel, distilled the whole Torah, in the negative form of the Golden Rule - 'That which is hateful to others, do not do to your fellow man ..."Talmud, Shabbat 31(a).

Milton Friedman (Nobel Prize, Econ, 1976) distilled Economics, in one sentence as - 'There is no such thing as a free lunch'.

It tore my heart out, when I saw Wikipedia asking for donations. ( NPR is still taxpayer funded tho' :-O ). Sufficeth to say, should the blogmeisters ( and - 'ettes' or 'ennes' )on this blog, decide to raise funds through donations, I shall not be found wanting.

LTL said...

I am just now getting to post, due to a weather problem this morning. I got off to a good start with pact and echo, but that was about the extent of the good news. In my opinion, this puzzle is much more difficult than the normal Wednesday one, and I think there were way too many obscure clues. I agree with the others that "golf clap" is ridiculous. If this is the first puzzle for these constructors, I hope they learn and improve.

Rex Parker said...

Thanks to JazzBumpa for the write-up, C.C. for the kind words, and everyone else for your thoughtful responses. We're still novices, Angela and I, so feedback of all kinds is instructive.

Thanks also to Rich, who made some judicious changes to the clues.

For what it's worth, I think Barry's right—today's puzzle is better than either of the ones I solo-constructed for the NYT (though perhaps that's not saying much :). Will's got two more of mine in the pipeline. I hope they are better, or at least no worse, than the ones that came before.

As for the LAT, Rich is about to get a few more from me (incl. another team-up w/ Angela), so we'll see...

As for SHERMAN ALEXIE—the puzzle was built around him. It is true he is not Tom Clancy famous, and I understand the frustration at not having heard of a theme answer (boy do I). But with a Pen/Faulkner Award, a National Book Award, a young adult novel frequently in the news because parents' groups want to ban it, multiple appearances on "The Colbert Report," etc. I don't know if "obscure" is quite right. I know "fringe" isn't. But if you didn't know him, you aren't alone—Will Shortz didn't either. So I'm grateful to Rich for taking a chance on some of the riskier answers, and grateful to you all for your unvarnished responses.

Best wishes,
Michael / Rex

Moses said...

Anonymous @ 4:41:
What about manna?

Rex Parker said...

Sorry, one last thing. A simple google of ["golf clap"] will show that it's not made-up or arbitrary. It's a common colloquial term, which you can find in slang dictionaries and which has been used (repeatedly) in major publications (NYT among others). Here's a somewhat decent explanation:

golf clap.

But again, if you've never heard it, I completely understand not caring for it. ~RP

thehondohurricane said...

Hi everyone,

A DNF today. I came up with the tank theme early on, but there were too many obscure clues for me. With all due respect to Mr Parker, between having hacked around for 40 + years and being a fan of the game a lot longer, I never heard the term golf clap until today.

This Ct style yellow fever returned last night which likely has attributed to my mental malaise today. Will spring ever arrive?



creature said...

Good Evening C.C.,Jazz and all,

Jazz, thanks for your efforts and some funny stuff.

It took me longer than usual this morning and I couldn't get back til now. I had issues with golf clap,gob and something that's out of my league: exNavy for former admiral. I thought once you were a general or an admiral,even though you were retired, you would still have that title,followed by "retired", but never ex navy as a description. I even thought that certain rights went with title. Am I completely 'off-base'?

I got a kick out of these crossword folk cracking the constructors world. Even our LATimes instead of NYT. Good Luck to you. I'm sure your critiques would be pretty harsh in some of these areas; but what the heck, over all, I deemed it OK+.Thanks.

Hope to be more on target tomorrow.

Have a nice evening everyone.

Lemonade714 said...


Thanks for stopping by, it was interesting to confirm the puzzle germinated from SHERMAN ALEXEI. I agree the puzzle did not contain any unfair fill, and I had previously posted links to support your most uncommon clues as being in the language.

My only disappointment was beyond the theme, there were too many 3 or 4 letter corners, and I believe with your experience and knowledge you could construct a more balanced puzzle.

I applaud you and puzzle girl and everyone with the initiative to build a puzzle, and perhaps I am being unfair, but after reading many hundreds of your comments on other's puzzles, I thought you might have been critical if this effort was not your own. In the end however, it is a skill which requires effort and practice and those of us who solve puzzles are grateful to those who create them.

dodo said...

g'day puzzlers

Strange! I found this to be a fairly easy puzzle. It went together smoothly for me. I was surprised to read that some of you felt it was too hard for a Wednesday puzzle. Certainly an unusual occurence! Some of the clues were obscure, and I didn't like 'gob' very much either, but Iloved a lot of the words used in this one and I thought the theme clever.

I have seen "Smoke Signals" twice and loved it! Had no idea it was from a book, which I'll have to read, now. Alexie sounds like a talented person.

JzB your writeup and the links were s great . Thanks.

dodo said...

Well said, Lemonade!

I forgot about 'Gasoline Alley'. That was my all time favorite comic strip for many years. I had no idea that it was still around. I'll look for it on the 'net.

Thanks for visiting, Rex. I haven't read your reviews. Where can I find some, anyone? I liked this puzzle a lot.

JD said...

dodo, check your e-mail.

Michael, thanks for stopping by.The info on golfchap..golfcrap.. I mean golfclap did give it new meaning. Thx

Rex Parker said...


I appreciate the kind words, and the reasoned critique. I don't see the preponderance of shorter fill as an issue in and of itself. Puzzle is 76 words (pretty std, 2 fewer than max) and has five theme answers with some pretty tough letters (Xs and what not), so building a grid around that was not easy, esp. w/ vertical theme answers, which are just weird to deal with. So grid got carved up the way it did. Undoubtedly a more skilled constructor could have been done better.

It is definitely true that short fill often means icky fill, but we worked very hard to keep most of the tiresome, only-in-xwords stuff out. OK, so YMA got in :) But only ILO truly makes me sad. I sort of liked ESCHEWS and IFTHEN and O'REILLY and TALL TALE. Anyway, I see what you mean, but just feel differently about it.

~RP (last comment, I swear)

Clear Ayes said...

Michael/Rex is right about SHERMAN ALEXIE. Maybe he's not Oprah or Barack famous, but certainly worth a Google to find out that he is a pretty prolific writer. (I'm not one of those who thinks Google use is cheating...we read, we learn.)

I saw Smoke Signals, but I wasn't aware that it was based on one of his books, or that he was the screen writer. It certainly had enough easier fill around it, so that it could be taken care of by the perps. That's what I did.

I'm still iffy about (49A) GOLF CLAP. The clue is "Polite links response". Even Rex's link@5:11 stated; "The gesture known as a "golf clap" fits in with a number of other rude or sarcastic expressions, such as the slow clap, Bronx cheer, raspberry or cat call.". I now think the fill was OK, but the clue should have been (maybe) "Rude links response", or "Sarcastic links response".

Of course it is more polite than screaming "You useless SOB", when the leader misses an easy putt.

Spitzboov said...

Creature, I don't think you're off base on the EXNAVY question. It is an unofficial term. If the service member is retired, he/she would think of themselves as 'retired' rather than ex....... And a retiree receives a pension, health and other benefits. But since they are no longer on active duty, they would be, in a somewhat narrow sense, ex(navy) relative to the active duty navy.

Hope this helps.

Bill G. said...

I see where Maya Lin will be at the State Dinner tonight honoring Chinese president Hu.

Here are some more of the details of the evening including the mouth-watering menu.

PuzzleGirl said...

Hi, everyone. Just thought I'd pop in and say it's been fun reading all your comments. I think of GOLF CLAP in the same way I think of that Beauty Queen Wave. You know what I'm talking about, right? Hand cupped with fingers together and slight back and forth motion? Beauty Queens actually wave that way, but everyone else does it ironically. Well, back in the pre-Tiger days, golf crowds used to be relatively quiet and they clapped quietly. Then people started doing it ironically. Hope that makes sense. Anyway, I appreciate you all and thanks for everything.

Anonymous said...

Good night all.

Thanks for the shout outs Dodo and Lemonade last night. DH is still suffering from what I guess is a cold. So my reward is still on hold.

Jazz, thank you for the hunks. That was some spectacular. Do you think they stuff the speedos?

Anonymous said...

Does this blog often have constructors coming on getting all defensive? Pretty funny.

Splynter said...

Hi All ~!

Really late, busy day, but to add to the blog, I thought today's was fairly easy, and I had no idea about the seed author.

I have heard of Climbing Lanes - but I live in New York.

Only one other thing to say, and Golf Clap can be sarcastic, too, as in this clip.

See you earlier tomorrow -


Anonymous said...

Solid puzzle. Loved it.

Lucina said...

Good night everyone! It's been fun reading the diverse reactions to today's puzzle including the constructors.

Looking forward to tomorrow.