SUNDAY, May 4, 2008 - Richard Silvestri (SPRAY WITHDRAWN IN 1989)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Poplar Music" - musical tree puns

Mmm, puns. OK, here's the thing about me and puns. I don't actually hate them categorically. It's just that for a pun to work, it has to be ON. If it's even a bit off, then it's a groaner, which I do not appreciate or find cute, the way some do. Some people enjoy groaners ("oh, how droll"). Not me. If you're going to pun, then hit the nail on the head. Today's puns were so-so. About half hit, half miss, but even the ones that hit didn't sparkle or make me laugh or even smile much. Sadly, hardly any of the pun phrases made any sense in re-written form. I can see a GREAT BALSA FIRE, but FIR YOUR LOVE makes no sense no matter how you say it or punctuate it. I had never heard of two of the "Poplar Songs" in question, and so working those out only made me wince and/or grimace and/or make a questioning face. The lack of humor in the theme phrases and the frequent jarring slant rhymes in the puns kept this from being truly enjoyable.

Still, there was some fun to be had in the non-theme answers. I got wickedly slapped around in the NE, where two words I'd never heard of crossed one I'd barely heard of, resulting in at least one out-and-out guess (which turned out to be right). CORDILLERA (21A: Mountain chain) has to be the longest never-heard-of-it word I've encountered in a Long time. I'll add it to ARETE under the category "Mountain-related words I learned from xwords." Then there's BREVET (29A: Nominal promotion of a military officer) - that "B" was the biggest guess of the day, as it could very easily (to my ear) have been a "P." Then there's the colorful cascading percussion of Tito Puente: TIMBALES (14D: Tito Puente played them). If I hadn't seen Tito Puente in concert once in the mid-90s (during which concert he repeatedly and not very good-naturedly mocked the Ann Arbor audience for what he believed was musical ignorance and general lack of soul - he may not have been wrong), I don't know that I would have guessed correctly here. Early on, I thought "TIMPANIS ... did he really play the TIMPANIS?" No, he did not. Tito Puente, like all self-respecting famous people, was once featured on "The Simpsons." Enjoy.

Theme answers:

  • 24A: 1977 Dolly Parton song for tree fanciers? ("Here You Gum Again") - also known as "Song for the Toothless." Had the HERE and thought "where's the tree pun in 'Here You Come Again?' Aha! 'HERE YEW COME...' Hey, that doesn't fit!"
  • 50A: 1957 Jerry Lee Lewis song for tree fanciers? ("Great Balsa Fire") - the more I see the phrase "tree fanciers," the more disturbed I get.
  • 61A: 1964 Bobby Goldsboro song for tree fanciers? ("Cedar Funny Little Clown") - what? Who? What? That's your marquee answer!? Is there no better title featuring the phrase "see the" in all of songdom? (here's the song in question: oh man, those album covers are Choice!)
  • 79A: 1982 Joan Jett and the Blackhearts song for tree fanciers? ("Olive Rock 'n' Roll") - one of the most important songs of my 'tween-hood, so it pains me to see it tricked out in this Horrible pun.
  • 90A: 1959 Chuck Berry song for tree fanciers? ("Elmost Grown") - the very worst of the day, by far. Never heard of the song, AND the tree pun creates a Frankenstein's monster of a word: "ELMOST!?!" Just terrible. (the song, however, is hot, it turns out)
  • 107A: 1978 Linda Ronstadt song for tree fanciers? ("Pawpaw Pitiful Me") - ["More cowbell!"] - if I hadn't written a very memorable early post where I talked at length about, and featured a picture of, PAWPAWS, I'd have been in a lot of trouble here, despite knowing (and loving) the song in question. My childhood was filled with 70s Linda Ronstadt turned up rather loud. My mom must have owned "Living in the U.S.A.," because that image of L.R. on roller skates is indelible (though to be truthful, before I looked it up just now, I imagined it as far sexier ... and that she was a car hop at a 50s diner).


In the "Stuff I Didn't Know" category, we can add KLAN (101D: Kind of meeting in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"). Is this KLAN as in KU KLUX!?!? I was not aware that they were allowed into the puzzle. Hmmm. Also did not know the nearby LIAM (100D: "The Informer" author O'Flaherty), though instinctively my brain wanted LIAM. No idea why, as I couldn't pick him or his work out of a line-up. I often teach 16th century English drama and still blanked on PEELE (113A: 16th-century English dramatist). He's ... not popular. LIL Jon (67D: Rap star _____ Jon) is probably going to hurt some people today. I love how deep Will is Willing to go into the rap music goody bag. The world of rap music has, in general, been poorly tapped, crossword-wise. This is likely a solver demographic issue. But ... there's a wealth of insanely spelled names just waiting for you ... O well. For now, I'm just happy that ICE-T and Dr. DRE have some company from time to time.

Other stuff:
  • 1A: Craving, slangily (jones) - Matt Jones write a good weekly puzzle called "Jonesin'." You can get it via Will Johnston's Puzzle Pointers (see sidebar).
  • 6A: Creche figures (magi) - what else could it be?
  • 10A: Impromptu Halloween costume (sheet) - great clue.
  • 15A: Spray withdrawn in 1989 (Alar) - a pesticide. Pantheonic crossword fill.
  • 26A: Bridal collection (trousseau) - love this word, and it goes great with the other flashy French word in the grid: ATELIER (51D: Place for an easel).
  • 30A: Sugar substitute? (Hon) - another great clue. Reminds me of 'Flo from "Alice".
  • 42A: World capital founded in 1538, formerly known as Chuquisaca (Sucre) - South American capitals in five ... QUITO, LA PAZ, SUCRE ...
  • 53A: Outer limits (ends) - wanted EDGE.
  • 58A: One trillionth: Prefix (pico-) - didn't know, but it seemed right once it was there.
  • 68A: It's spotted in the wild (ocelot) - this cat gets an extraordinary amount of action for a six-letter word, which is cool, because OCELOT is easily the best-named cat there is.
  • 72A: Tippy transport (canoe) - TIPPYCANOE! (and Tyler too?)
  • 82A: Jazzy Nina (Simone) - loooooooooove her. She and Mr. Rogers both died at around the same time, and I've never been so sad for celebrity deaths (except maybe Phil Hartman's).
  • 86A: Beaufort scale category (gale) - Some day I will remember that Beaufort = wind.
  • 92A: Source for some coffee (Arabia) - is Arabia a real place? It's not a country? Is it just the whole ArabiaN Peninsula?
  • 96A: Italian bread (pane) - looking for EURO...
  • 32D: _____ Jr., West Coast hamburger chain (Carl's) - in my carnivorous days (college), I used to go here all the time. So good. Eventually I learned that In 'N' Out was better, but I still have a fondness for CARL's Jr. (weirdly, coincidentally, I finished the puzzle and then came across a reference to CARL's Jr. in a book I'm reading: Money Shot by Christa Faust. It's good ... and filled with vengeance. That statement may have been redundant.)
  • 98A: Source of creosote (tar) - factoid from Wikipedia: "The prevailing use of creosote in the United States is to preserve wooden utilities/telephone poles, railroad cross ties, switch ties and bridge timbers from decay."
  • 111A: Sing "Bye Bye Birdie," e.g. (alliterate) - uh ... I guess. Very slippery clue.
  • 2D: "A Jug of Wine..." poet (Omar) - KHAYYAM is way more interesting in the grid.
  • 8D: Ashram leader (guru) - well, if you didn't get [Guru residences] yesterday (ASHRAMS), you damned sure should have gotten this clue today.
  • 15D: "Sink or Swim" author (Alger) - i.e. Horatio. He of the "Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" mentality.
  • 22D: _____ Lad, doughnut shop on "The Simpsons" (Lard) - single best "Simpsons" clue of all-time. Sahra has a Lard Lad baseball cap, and I own this:
  • 31D: "A Letter for _____" (Hume Cronyn film) ("Evie") - whoa. Never heard of it. Have heard of this Evie, but only because of the puzzle...
  • 43D: Nut holder (U-bolt) - this clue makes me laugh.
  • 45D: _____ Systems, networking giant (Cisco) - not to be confused with Sisqo.
  • 58D: Purple stuff, perhaps (prose) - good clue.
  • 61D: Play-by-play partner (color) - a very hard skill, COLOR commentary. Just ask Tim McCarver.
  • 62D: Theodor Escherich's discovery (e-coli) - could he, I don't know, UNdiscover it? That would be great.
  • 66D: 1970s-'80s All-Star Manny (Trillo) - this is Ob-sKure, and only my baseball-collecting obsession of 1978-1983 kept me from tanking this.
  • 90D: Sufficient, informally (Enuf) - my least favorite expression of all time. All Time: "'nuff said" (or any version thereof).
  • 91D: Dance specialty (tap) - weak, boring clue. Come on. Try harder!
  • 93D: Soul singer Lou (Rawls) - "You'll never find ..." Deep, distinctive voice.
  • 105D: Salmon tail? (-ella) - all-time best cluing of ELLA. Seriously. Genius.
  • 109D: John's "Pulp Fiction" co-star (Uma) - Great movie - and here's a great scene. I would have linked to the "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" scene, but it ends in a scary drug overdose, and that doesn't really feel like Sunday morning material.

Enjoy your Sunday

PS Bonus LARD Lad coverage:

79 comments:

eli barrieau 9:10 AM  

Unless you are a country singer prior to 1980, I suggest a moratorium on puns.

acerbe a propos sucre 9:23 AM  

Sucre... Does a place really count as a "world capital" just because you put the judicial branch there? How does that trump where you put the whole rest of the government and the place more people have heard of.

In geography we learned "Bolivia, La Paz, tin".
Only in xword did we learn "Sucre".

Wendy Laubach 9:34 AM  

After almost half an hour I was down to "ELM_ST GROWN" crossing with "TRILL_" and just guessed. I forget what I put there, but it wasn't an O. The pun didn't work that well for me either.

The rest of it was OK. I wanted some kind of "Down to the River to Pray" meeting for "O Brother," but then remembered the KKK meeting near the end and the fantastic Ralph Stanley "O Death."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoIebIKNS4s

I have an acquaintance who calls this CD "O Brother, Why Art Thou Still Playing This $&*@," but he's wrong. Wonderful music from beginning to end.

miriam b 9:44 AM  

I got just about all the punny song titles through crosses and guesses, but I persevered and finished within a reasonable time. Pop culture is so not my forte. I prefer trees.

PhillySolver 9:44 AM  

With fronds like you, who needs anemones? The term cordillera looks like it should mean 'a little rope', which could hang you up. I like puns and knew the songs, so it should have been easier to solve.

I wonder if chefb has a pico de gallo recipe that calls for larger portions of tomatoes than a trillionth of an ounce. Ok, I stayed up too late and may have offended the host so I am off to get a donut.

miriam b 9:52 AM  

@PhillySolver:

Cooks.com has good Pico de Gallo recipes. Here's one; I like the inclusion of Roma tomatoes:

PICO DE GALLO

8-10 Roma tomatoes (seeded)
1/2-1 red onion (to taste)
1 jalapeno pepper (or more to taste)
2 medium cloves garlic
juice of one lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Seed and dice tomatoes. Chop onion, jalapeno and garlic to a fine consistency. To these ingredients, add the fresh cilantro, salt, pepper, olive oil and lime. Mix well.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Best if served the next day.

Serve with tortilla chips, burritos, tacos or any Mexican dish. Delicious. As with any dish, you may add or delete ingredients to suit your personal taste.

jannieb 10:11 AM  

A nice challenge for a Sunday but wasn't thrilled with the theme. As RP noted, the puns just didn't sing. Last for me was the NE corner. At the risk of being blasphemous, I don't watch the Simpsons, but have learned from this blog that if there is a crude choice of words, it will usually be correct. That's how I finally got cordillera - by guessing the "L" for lard. That was my last fill. So much stuff here I didn't know (or care about) but all gettable from the crosses. Not a very exciting end to the week.

As an addendum to yesterday's blog, I think my favorite "gimmick" was a Sunday where the grid was used as a pool table. Very clever.

Noam D. Elkies 10:12 AM  

RP asks what else "Créche figures" could be (6A:MAGI): actually my first thought was OXEN.

62D: actually "E.coli", short for Escherichia coli, as in the discoverer named in the clue. RP's spelling "e-coli" would be an online version of... ugh. Time to make like a tree.

NDE

Pinky 10:30 AM  

DOH.....

For once I almost got through it without googling, but I don't watch TV so had to google to get the final letter (D) to get LARD lad

From there CADRES and CARLS came easily, completing the weird world capital SUCRE

billnutt 10:43 AM  

Wendy, I admire your taste in music! OH BROTHER... is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time.

The music fan in me feels obliged to point out that "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" was written by the late great Warren Zevon. When La Ronstadt sings, "All these boys won't let me be," it's same-old, same-old. When Warren sang, "These young girls won't let me," it's funny.

CORDILLERA gets the WTF award for the day, closely followed by TIMBALES (which I had as TIMPALES - mea culpa, mea culpa). Thanks for the Tito Puente Simpsons link, Rex!

Thanks also for PULP FICTION dance to Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell." Fun scene.

Speaking of Chuck, his song "Almost Grown" was featured in AMERICAN GRAFFITI.

I'm mentioning all these other songs because, for the most part, I wasn't crazy about the songs with the tree puns.

Unlike Rex, I sorta got I kick out of the cluing for ALLITERATE - partly because, as much as I despise the musical BYE BYE BIRDIE (and despise it, I do), I am reminded of Ann-Margaret wearing a tight sweater and singing that song in the film. Hubba hubba...

Joaneee 10:46 AM  

@acerbe (if I may be so familiar)...you are Soooooooo right. Good grief. And I too thought the puns were egregiously lame.

ArtLvr 11:09 AM  

If one must, it's hard to beat Philly's apt puns of fronds/anemones. How does he do it? For me this puzzle was "slink or swim", so I determined to see what I could get without a google..

Most came out right, but there were a few oddities (read errors) -- I put in an extra tree at the longest spot, 66-A, with "CEDAR funny LITCHE clown" to get names "Crillo" and "Hil Jon" (why not?). I had "a bolt" instead of U BOLT, getting "Sacre" as a world capital.

I did get BREVET and CORDILLERA floating up from somewhere, and afterward checked out the latter in Britannica -- "(from old Spanish cordilla, “cord,” or “little rope”), a system of mountain ranges that often consist of a number of more or less parallel chains. Cordilleras are an extensive feature in the Americas and Eurasia. In North America the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevadas, and the mountains between them are collectively known as the Cordilleras." So there are lots of those globallly!

I also wondered about ARABIA, because I think the coffee is called "arabica" -- didn't look it up. The little one at 74-A was a poser, "Bank desposit?" I went through sand and salt before deciding SILT was most likely. Went nicely with SEASHORE and CANOE and pleasant vacation thoughts! NIGER was a gimme too, because of the you-know-who outing.

I thought 1-A was too arcane, but 1-D was ideal for the theme: JEST. Just think "jest", not pun.

∑;)

jae 11:09 AM  

I'm with joaneee and acerbe (LAPAZ yes, SUCRE??). Didn't enjoy this one. I went with TIMPALIS and IBOLT and fixed them with a post-solve google check. This felt more like work than fun especially when I ended up needing to guess (wrong). I also hadn't heard the Berry and Goldsboro songs. Will listen to the Berry song now to see if it rings a bell. I loved American Graffiti.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Is there really a pawpaw tree?
Big B

flip phillips 11:31 AM  

Tippy transport - best clue of the week.

imsdave1 11:35 AM  

Favorite bad pun of all time (actually a shaggy dog story, condensed). Young mother has to give up twin sons, Amahl and Juan. 30 years later, she gets to meet Juan. Afterwards, whe is teary and upset about not meeting her other son. Her husband comforts her, "What's wrong? After all, if you've seen Juan, you've seen Amahl'.

Sorry

Noam D. Elkies 11:37 AM  

Wikipedia has some interesting information about 14D:TIMBALES, including a list of "Famous players" headed by Tito Puente, plus this R-rated item of Trivia!

NDE

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

I found this one challenging, especially the SE and NE; and I had an error with TIMBALAS/SUCRA. Still I really enjoyed it. There's no pun bad enough to offend me, except the ones on the billboards advertising "South of the Border," an amusement park/fireworks store on the NC/SC border on I-95. ("You never sausage a place!") If you ever drive that way, the billboards will drive you insane for 200 miles.

Scott 12:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
bill from fl 12:14 PM  

That one about South of the Border was mine--sorry I didn't sign.

Scott 12:15 PM  

I really, really disliked this puzzle. I'm tempted to say hate. There were no songs in the puzzle that were written after I was born. Only two of the songs are still in the pop cultural lexicon in my opinion (Great Balls of Fire and I Love RocknRoll). Two of the songs are pretty obscure. And on top of all that, they are made into tree puns that cannot be parsed into any sort of phrase! Also, if you have to use tree puns, how about some more stereotypical trees! Gum, balsa and olive do not mean tree first and paw paw? really?

The fill was all right, but nothing spectacular and certainly not nearly enough to make up for what is (in my opinion) a hideous theme. Sorry for the rant. I imagine everyone has a puzzle from time to time that just bugs them; where you seem to get every answer and go "really? that is what you want there?" This one was mine. I really did not like it.

Ladel 12:27 PM  

@imsdave1

define what you mean by my favorite bad pun, like it, don't like it, just a large groaner? While not a pun this groaner ranks right up there with the worst in bad whatever. If a mother names her first son Jose, what should she name her second son? Why hose B of course. I am sorry for all this drivel but this puzzle has put me in a bad mood, like seeing a poor play, I just don't feel fed.

jae 12:28 PM  

I had heard the Berry song just didn't know the title.

If SUCRE is fair game can Bolivia's new pres. EVO Morales be far behind?

kate 12:29 PM  

If the theme answers had been actual *plays on words* I would have been fine with this. But HEREYOUGUMAGAIN? Hunh? I really don't think that counts as a pun unless you are making a joke about, as Rex implied, a toothless romance, or something. Otherwise it's just demonstrating that "gum" sort of sounds like "come," and so what? Some of the theme answers were slightly better plays on words - GREATBALSAFIRE - but even there, the cluing had nothing to do with anything made of balsa being on fire. The theme answers just kept disappointing me.

Leon 12:44 PM  

TREEMENDOUS puzzle. ASH not what this COUNT TREE can do for YEW, but for what ....

Great Pico recipe, will make it for Cinco de Mayo.

Yesterday was SPAM'S 30th Anniversary.

imsdave1 12:48 PM  

@ladel - it makes me laugh and makes me question my taste.

I actually enjoyed the puzzle as it was very solvable, despite my knowing few of the songs. I certainly agree with Rex about the quality of the puns, but liked the new vocabulary learned. I'm still trying to come up with a way to use cordillera in a sentence tomorrow.

Have a good Sunday all.

Belvoir 12:52 PM  

I wasn't familiar with the Horatio Alger book, but there must be at least 75 others entitled "Sink Or Swim" on Amazon, and Alger's didn't appear til page 2 of search.

bill from fl 1:01 PM  

My nominee for the best pun ever:

"Absinthe makes the tart grow fonder."

--Ernest Dowson

Anonymous in Texas 1:02 PM  

Anyone explain 58D purple stuff, perhaps - Prose? Thanks

ramsey 1:11 PM  

Paw paw is indeed a tree. A town, a lake and a river in sw Michigan are named for this tree.

Alex 1:13 PM  

Let's see:

1. Music is my big blind spot. I simply don't listen to it (I don't dislike music, I'm just completely indifferent to it). So I had never heard of 2 of the performers involved in the puns. Of the other four I have no familiarity with the titles of the songs be punned. Of the the one where I immediately knew the song title I thought the obvious tree related pun was GREAT BALLS OF FIR and couldn't figure out how to fit it in. Even once I got it all worked out I never saw the BALSA, I was parsing it as GREAT BALLS AFIRE (somehow I was so disgusted by this point I missed that an L had disappeared).

2. I really don't care for puns to begin with. The greatest strain on my marriage is that I bonded myself in perpetuity to a punster. Fortunately she has other redeeming qualities.

3. The second theme entry I got was OLIVE ROCK N ROLL. So I had enough musical knowledge to know the original was I LOVE ROCK N ROLL. Which convinced me that the theme was actually switching two vowels to get a tree pun (the initial I and O). That made the others harder for a long time.

4. I have never heard of a PAWPAW tree so that one was essentially impossible. Especially since PAWPAW PITIFUL ME makes absolutely no sense as a standalone phrase.

That said, I would almost forgive the general suckiness (with a theme this bad I almost don't care about the other fill) for the fun of tippy CANOE. But no matter how great, one clue can't save this dog.

miriam b 1:21 PM  

TIMBALE is also a French culinary term for a small thimble-shaped mold or the contents thereof.

The Italian Timballo is an elaborate multi-layered festive dish, with or without crust according to region, baked in a large mold which resembles a kettledrum.

I've been gardening and haven't had lunch yet.

Addie Loggins 1:42 PM  

Like Rex, I had a heck of a time in the NE -- too many words I had never heard of. Plus, I did write Timpanis for 14D, so it took awhile to get that straighted out.

Funniest moment for me: 1 across ("craving, slangily") I had the _one_ and the only thing I could think of was "boner." I knew it couldn't be right, but...

I had "incrowds" for 83 down, which fit with several of the crosses and took me ages to straighten out.

Initially had "nolte" for "nick name?" but figured out pretty quickly that it was wrong.

I also had "starch" instead of "staple" for 99 across. Is sugar a starch? If so, wicked clue (if not, I'm just an idiot)

ok puzzle, but I didn't care much for the lame puns.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

Blat,really,blat?

korova 1:51 PM  

I feel compelled to weigh in with Scott and Kate on the objective reasons the puzzle was bad and with Alex on the subjective ones. And let me add one observation: "tree fanciers" made some sense with "FIR YOUR LOVE" because of the LOVE part. OK, I thought, the song titles will all be twisted into positive feelings for trees. Then I got the Joan Jett one, which didn't quite fit that template, but I was willing to overlook it because at least "love" was in the actual song title. Then ... nothing. So "songs for tree fanciers" ended up making little sense. Better would have been "songs for people who like to change words to tree names even when the resulting phrases make no sense at all."

John Reid 2:12 PM  

After reading Kate's comment above, I'm thinking that maybe this puzzle could have been more entertaining if the clues for the theme answers were written differently - say [Disaster at the model plane factory?] for GREATBALSAFIRE, for example. Although, looking at the other answers this type of cluing would probably have been impossible to maintain through the whole puzzle... so we're stuck with [19## (recording artist name) song for tree fanciers?] instead. Oh well. It wasn't the best, but they can't all be the best can they?

The NE was full of things I didn't know, and they were all crossing 14D (TIMBALES) so I didn't really have a chance. CORDILLERA, BREVET, SAL and SUCRE were all tough for me - and I really wanted to try TIMPANIS. After finishing the rest of the puzzle, I changed letters one at a time in 14D and about 5 minutes later I finally hit on the right combination. Not a very satisfying finish!

As an aside - for those of you who didn't feel challenged enough by the Friday and Saturday puzzles this week (they sure seemed easier than usual to me), I direct your attention to two very difficult puzzles of late. The Friday NY Sun Weekend Warrior puzzle was by Byron Walden - say no more. [I've already moved it into the 'Too Hard!' folder in my AcrossLite directory... but I did manage to get about 3/4 of the way through it first.] And yesterday's Newsday puzzle was by Stan Newman. Both should keep you busy for quite a while - unless you happen to be Orange.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Bill from NJ 2:18 PM  

I've been doing puzzles long enough to know what this theme was about: put a tree name into a "popular song" and pun off it but - ELMOSTGROWN?

I used to enjoy Sunday puzzles because they were the only ones I did. Once I found this blog and started doing them every day I find the Sundays' a bit much, They're just too damn long!!

I had an old aunt who knew I liked crossword puzzle and tried to turn me on to the puzzles in those supermarket tabloids.

"Look", she'd say, "this one goes up to 151A!"

The more I'm exposed to Friday and Saturday puzzles, the less I like the Sunday one

JC66 2:49 PM  

@ addie loggins

re: BONER.

I think JONES just may be derived from an old street colloquialism for the same.

Margaret 3:32 PM  

e? More like All must groan!

Margaret 3:49 PM  

I finally gave up on the NE after googling Tito Puente AND Horatio Alger and still being stuck. I sang the Dolly Parton song to myself through the whole puzzle but couldn't figure out the pun.

Favorite clues: silt, ella, hon, tyrone (power of film!).

Hated energetic = GOGO. Huh?? Although it had symmetry w/ LULU.

Speaking of Dolly Parton, I was in her neck of the woods -- the Great Smoky Mountains -- last week for the annual spring wildflower pilgrimage. (I did NOT go to Dollywood.) Think of the pilgrimage as birding for plant people (no picking, just ID'ing.) But a big part of the fun for me is revelling in the wonderful common names of the plants: Philadelphia Fleabane (yes, phillysolver, that really is the name!), Cutleaf Toothwort, Dog Hobble, Nodding Mandarins, Dutchman's Breeches, Little Brown Jugs, Jack in the Pulpit, and my favorite: Pipsissewa. There's gotta be a crossword theme in there somewhere!

PuzzleGirl 4:03 PM  

I was so proud of myself when I figured out the Dolly Parton song would be I Will Always Love Yew. And then it didn't fit. Also thought Great Ballsa Fir was going to happen since the title of the puzzle was Poplar Songs (take one letter out to make a tree, right?). Didn't like it much. Couldn't finish it. Meh.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

http://www.peets.com/shop/coffee_africa.asp

Wendy Laubach 4:16 PM  

Of course there are paw paw trees! We have some in our yard.

Cordillera is another word I know from Patrick O'Brian novels (the South American part of the 19th century naval adventures). His books turn out to be terrifically useful for crosswording. I like crosswords to stretch outside the usage of the last couple of decades. I always laugh when commenters complain that "no one's used that expression since my grandfather!" I know some of you solvers are youngsters, but that's what books are for.

@billnutt: my favorite Warren Zevon song is "Lawyers, Guns & Money." Get me out of this!

bill from fl 4:27 PM  

Wasn't Cordillera King Lear's good daughter? Who can forget: "What shall Cordillera do? Love, and be silent."

[Sorry, I couldn't resist.]

PhillySolver 4:40 PM  

@ margaret
I think I know the Philadelphia Fleabane...he begs at the corner of 22nd and South Street, right?

@ Wendy
At Trivia the other night they played a song with Warren Zevon music but the lyrics were changed and we had to guess the title. I missed when I answered Werewolves of London, but I know that tune.

@ anon
Blat is a term a friend who works for Bechtel used to describe some of the business practices(corrupt) he encounters in Moscow. Now, that would be a great clue.

Damon G. 4:42 PM  

Weakest Sunday in a long, long time, in my opinion.

ArtLvr 5:09 PM  

Rex, since finding your blog I've wondered about the "raison d'ĂȘtre" of a comic book course in college! Personally, not something I'd thought about for many years...

Suddenly in the last 24 hours, I stumbled on an extensive interview on Cspan2 with author David Hadju about his book "The Ten Cent Plague" -- and today a two-hour special on the History Channel called "Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked"... Amazing.

The ups and downs of the business, the themes, the art and artists -- all covered in detail. Modern folklore, it seems...but now more relevant, fighting terrorism, warning of unexploded landmines, and raising millions for 9/11 victims! Very interesting after all. Wouldn't have looked at these, but for your interest....

∑;)

chefbea1 5:14 PM  

miriam b - your recipe for pico de gallo sounds great.
Rex - what a cute daughter

I got the theme of the puzzle right after I realized it was poplar music, not popular. But had trouble putting in all the trees.

Beautiful here in connecticut. went to a flea market in Greenwich where one of the vendors was struggling over todays puzzle. He couldnt find all the trees either

miriam b 5:53 PM  

@chefbea1: I like the kind of pico de gallo made with oranges and jicama, but I never know when the latter will be available locally.

Kimbopolo 6:10 PM  

What a beech!

wade 6:15 PM  

Warren Zevon had the best song titles and album titles. "Sentimental Hygiene" is my all-time favorite. I doubt, however, that anyone will ever take top honors from AC/DC in the album title category: "For Those About To Rock, We Salute You." I get a lump in my throat just typing those words. It's such a heartfelt, moving tribute to all those who are about to rock.

Kevin Der 6:16 PM  

this puzzle wasn't my cup of tea. i'd never heard of any of the songs except for Great Balls of Fire and the only reason i have heard it is because i've seen top gun. i would expect a lot of solvers my age to have this experience. essentially the rest of the time was a dull piecing-together of each word of the theme entries. i did like the long fill though, learning some good party material in cordillera and trousseau.

chefbea1 6:17 PM  

miriam b - I dont know where you are but here in the greenwich stamford area of ct, the Food Emporium usually has jicama. I'm waiting for them to get fiddle head ferns in. They are sooo good and it is the season for them

miriam b 6:38 PM  

@chefbea1: I'm on the south shore of Suffolk County, LI (though BTW I'm originally a Nutmegger). It just occurred to me that my fairly new Best Yet market will probably have jicama. It's just slightly out of my way, but a super store.

I'm on the lookout for fiddleheads now. I like to just steam them and dress them with lemon juice and a little butter. Any ideas from your corner?

I'm that pesky customer who always gets looks of askance from the checkers, who never seem to be familiar with the weird stuff I buy (e. g., blood oranges, litchis, carambola, and the aforementioned jicama). I've taken to using the automated checkout machine when pressed for time.

I've been off-topic a few times today. Sorry, Rex.

chefbea1 6:50 PM  

miriam b- but we love all the food talk. guess we should do this on a foodie blog

misstrish 6:51 PM  

Just recently found this site - Thanks Rex
@Phillysolver - Love your fronds/anemones
@Addie loggins - Sorry sugar not a starch but both are carbs...
Also @Miriam b - for jicama, check latin/spanish grocers. Also, Compare foods (in Freeport) always has it.

misstrish 7:12 PM  

I meant to post this first. Like Rex and others had the most trouble in the NE. For some reason had tbolt and was looking for St somebody until I got the fill.
first fill atelier - great word
most fav words of reproach - ettu
least fav noise - blat?
but also gotta love Nanki-poo

Michael 7:54 PM  

I'm old enough to know the songs, but I'm not good on titles and the puns were really feeble. This led me to get through this puzzle by doing non-theme clues, though I still ended up with a few mistakes in the NW (like many other solvers or perhaps I should say non-solvers). I think the clue that irked me the most was world capital...Sucre. I teach a course about Latin America every Tuesday and Thursday with a big (virtual) map in front of the class. And I've been to Bolivia. But to call Sucre a world capital (especially since its the lesser of two capitals of Bolivia) is a bit much. It is a country capital, but I think I would restrict the term "world capital" for places like Lima or Buenos Aires.

What next --Belmopan (capital of Belize)?

sorry for the rant...

Michael 7:57 PM  

oops, I meant the NE in my rant above, not the NW

jae 8:04 PM  

@misstrish -- I also tried TBOLT but google didn't like either STCRE or SICRE so I broke down and googled the clue (I know I should have tried U but didn't for some reason). I have a sliding scale of failure. If a post-solve google check confirms my answer I'm OK. If I get a "did you mean..." I'm wrong but close. If I have to google the clue, well, that's failing miserably.

miriam b 8:05 PM  

@misstrish: Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm quite a distance from Freeport. I bet ny local Best Yet has jicama. They usually gave plantains, chayote and such. Once in a blue moon I can buy it at my nearby Stop & Shop, but this is unpredictable.

Joon 8:25 PM  

i have pretty low tolerance for puns in general, but these were all terrible. GREATBALSAFIRE was the best, because it actually has an iota of surface sense. the others aren't even remotely grammatical, let alone funny. and to top it all off, several of them were punning on obscure songs i'd never heard of (which is something i was told you shouldn't do in a pun theme). so: yuck to the theme.

on the other hand, i liked the fill (except BLAT), and several of the clues sparkled (COLOR, ELLA, ALLITERATE). but a bad theme can drag a sunday puzzle down a long, long way.

Mike 8:43 PM  

Re:ARABIA

It is a regional name for the Arabian Peninsula, e.g. Saudi Arabia is the Saudi part of Arabia.

Anonymous 9:11 PM  

ho-hum puzzle
I didn't enjoy the theme. I liked CORDILLERA, BREVET, TIMBALES, and ALLITERATE.

mac 10:25 PM  

I didn't enjoy today's puzzle much, but then, I haven't enjoyed Sunday ones for quite a long time, I realize. Their being bigger doesn't make them more interesting. Give me a Friday or Saturday any day. Picked up some interesting words, like cordillera, brevet (which I somehow knew and filled in), Jones, and Peele, and some of the clueing was goed. I may have heard some of these songs, I certainly don't know the words....
NE was absolutely the hardest area to put together.
No more cooking, just came back from a wonderful dinner at Ouest.

Jim in NYC 10:34 PM  

To somebody above: "Purple" prose is melodramatic, overly emotional prose.

If you're still looking for this info.

ArtLvr, Rex et al. I hope we can all agree that good puns are still acceptable. Please?

e. coli guy 10:42 PM  

Most E. coli is completely harmless, so asking if we can "undiscover" E. coli is kind of dumb. E. coli populates our gut (as do other species of bacteria) and may be responsible for necessary (or at least helpful) digestive functions and competing with more harmful gut pathogens. Also, in the world of biology, E. coli is one of the simplest expression systems around and has God knows how many applications in protein research and biotechnology (I think human insulin is now synthesized in E. coli, whereas we used to get it from horses). Many fundamental pathways in amino acid biosynthesis and synthesis of other small molecules were also discovered in E. coli. So if you don't like your digestive system and don't like biological research, then yeah, we should undiscover E. coli.

Anonymous in Texas 10:51 PM  

Thanks Jim in NYC. Never heard that before. Guess it's never too late to learn.

Anonymous 1:23 AM  

Just a note: as far as I can tell, Linda Ronstadt's "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me" was written in 1977, not 1978 as clued.

The song's name sort of sums up my feelings about the time spent on this puzzle. That a theme answer was clued wrong is merely bad icing on a mediocre cake.

Rex Parker 7:53 AM  

The Ronstadt clue is correct. 2 seconds of "research" confirmed it:

from Wikipedia:

Linda Ronstadt recorded a slightly toned-down version of the song in 1977. Ronstadt's interpretation was released on the triple platium album, Simple Dreams. Released as a single (on the Asylum label, #45462), Ronstadt's version of the song debuted on the charts February 18, 1978, and peaked at the No. 31 position after nine weeks. Simple Dreams also contained another Zevon song, "Carmelita."

Rex Parker 9:30 AM  

from some Anonymous person who thought it would be OK to post this in Monday's comments section - enjoy the pedantry!:

----
Apparently those who comment in this blog are not classical music fans, or they would have easily and gleefully identified the error in one of yesterday's (Sunday's) clues. Specifically the 104 down clue (Something one can never do: DUET). [I cannot post comments on Sunday, so I am posting it today so it will be read.]

With the advent of multiple track recordings, it became possible to play a duet with oneself. In fact, I think there's a baroque piece of music for four flutes or violins that has been commercially recorded with the same soloist. I remember using my TEAC reel-to-reel tape recorder to record myself playing four-handed piano duets back in 1968.

OK, you may say, the clue should have been worded "Something one can never due simultaneously." Even that wording would be wrong. Consider the Bach pieces BWV 802-805. These are four "Duets" that Bach published for organ (his title). One keyboardist plays these works with two hands. Therefore, one person can play a duet if it is a Bach baroque music duet.

Two comments. First, BWV numbers list all of J. S. Bachs works as arranged by genre. Because these works do not include a foot pedal part, the works were erroneously grouped with harpsichord works. More than you want to know.

Second, why these are called duets is a result of the nomenclature is use during the musical baroque period. During that period, an instrumental trio, for example, would be played by four different persons: three players would play three different melodies simultaneous (one being the bass part) and the fourth player would be playing a rhythm instrument filling in the sound (harpsichord, organ, guitar, lute etc.). Very similar to the function of a rhythm guitarist in today's pop music.

Indeed, Bach wrote six Trio Sonatas for organ, omitting the rhythm part, the "Trio" played by one organist alone. Bach arranged some of these Trios for instrumental groups, in which case it takes four players to play the pieces.

It may be that Bach was the first and last to title his keyboard pieces in this specific way. Regardless, the existence of the four duets BWV 802-805 definitively causes the wording of the clue to be an error.

frances 4:08 AM  

I put "Fourier love" instead of "Fir your love." I think my pun is way better.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Finding out the answer for the clue "Salmon tail" from Rex's blog made the slog through this Sunday puzzle worth it! I got a kick out of the pairing of Salmonella and E. coli.

My only other revelation from this puzzle is the one-letter difference between ALLITERATE and ILLITERATE -- for me it conjures the wide gulf of privelege between the haves and the have-nots, between those who can experience the joy of reading, the intrigue of wordplay, the ability to read a recipe... and those who cannot.

Rock Rabbit

justme 12:52 AM  

A little bit more reading about our Civil War would have clued you into recalling that Captain George
A. Custer was "breveted" to the rank of general. The boy general still holds the record of being the youngest general, ever (I believe).

mopat 2:26 AM  

On Sundays the Arizona Republic offers both the NY Times and the LA Times puzzles. The LA Times puzzle has been more fun lately, but the NY Times keeps adding vocabulary words. I did not like this particular puzzle--no sense of gratification at getting the pattern.

McKadh 5:38 PM  

I'm surprised no one else did this. I got to Tito Fuentes, whom I'd never heard of, and I had Sheet. Sucre (it was the old capital) and Brevet. So I wrote "The Blues". That messed up the NE corner forever, which I got last.

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

This was probably the worst, and by worst i mean suckiest puzzle i've seen in years.

The author lacks a sense of puzzzling, theme, and reward.

Marty71 10:55 PM  

I finished this one without any outside help, so that makes me happy, but I agree that it was not a great puzzle. No laugh-out-loud moments or feeling of satisfaction upon getting a hard clue. I never heard of some of these songs, and I agree with Rex that the puns were weak. Had a grade school teacher who thought puns were the hight of hilarity and since I didn't care for him, I suppose that contributed to my dislike of puns. Anyway, I'm glad to be done with this one.

Amaal 12:58 AM  

@imsdave1

My name is Amaal, so I have heard that pun WAY TOO MANY times.

It's the pits.

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