THURSDAY, May 22, 2008 - Richard Silvestri (HARPERS FERRY RAIDER)

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: O-MEN (38D: Sign ... or a description of the answers to the six starred clues?) - 6 guys with O's - and no other vowels - in their names

This theme raised from ho-hum to semi-interesting by the sheer number of O-MEN that get crammed into the grid. I'm imagining the master list contained a good deal more than 6 names - it's hard to get the whole intersecting theme answer thing to work out just right. The MEN in question vary in popularity, from the marginal TOM POSTON and ROB MORROW ("Numb3rs," ugh) to the legendary DON KNOTTS and BJORN BORG, giving the grid a quirky overall personality that's actually kind of charming. I finished this one quickly, and was irked, if not ired, to see the heretofore unknown to me COTS UP at 50D: Misbehaves. I'd already had to suffer through one word I didn't now - PALTER (44A: Be deceitful) - so COTS UP really stuck in my craw ... until I changed it to CUTS UP, which makes much more (i.e. some) sense. I had no idea that a TUN (57A: 252-gallon unit) was a specific unit of measure. I thought it was just, like, a giant URN for wine.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Five-time Wimbledon winner (Bjorn Borg)
  • 24A: *"Numb3rs star" (Rob Morrow)
  • 51A: *Harpers Ferry raider (John Brown)
  • 64A: *"Newhart" actor (Tom Poston)
  • 3D: *Famed restaurateur (Toots Shor) - one of my very favorite xword names. I was born too late for his name to mean anything to me, but I learned of him in a puzzle a little over a year ago, and I've loved him ever since.
  • 36D: *Co-star of "The Andy Griffith Show" (Don Knotts)

Any theme-heavy puzzle is going to have a few groaners. I'll point them out without castigation. First, ESTAB. (15A: Founded: Abbr.). You see ESTD. a lot in puzzles, clued often as an abbrev. on building cornerstones. ESTAB ... is a bit long and ugly for an abbrev. Then there's EMER (67A: Part of E.M.T.), which is acceptable, though you'd steer around this kind of thing if you had any choice. NEGEB (8D: Region of Israel: Var.) is one of the more painful Var.iants I've run across. Are there other V-to-B Var.iants? Maybe NEGEB is a common spelling to some, but I've only ever seen NEGEV. The answer that hurt the most was probably UTWO (68A: Classic spy plane), which took me many seconds just to parse correctly. U2. I'm really against spelling out numbers in a letter+number phrase when you'd never (outside the grid) see it written that way. The GEIGHT? UBFORTY? I don't know... Finally there's KNOT (62D: Speed unit). In a puzzle with - and right next to - KNOTTS. . . . [cough]

Misc.:

  • 9A: Party to a Highland fling? (lass) - had no idea what this clue was about, or why it was trying to be so fancy. Is a "Highland fling" something that has a specific meaning? Is it a whiskey drink? Hmmm, it's just a dance ... which makes me wonder why the clue is question-mark-worthy.
  • 23A: Reggae relative (ska) - I love SKA almost as much as SHOR. I think I love all three-letter words with K's in them: AUK, ASK, KEA, etc.
  • 29A: Card game whose name is called out during play (Uno) - was I supposed to guess GIN here? I didn't.
  • 47A: Howard in shorts (Moe) - too clever. Creepy clever. Please don't force me to contemplate the Three Stooges in their underwear.
  • 7D: Silent film star (Harpo) - Marx Bros. and Three Stooges in same puzzle. This puzzle screams "lonely man over 50." (I kid ...)
  • 69A: Catfish Row denizen (Bess) - mmm, denizen ... from the musical (Wikipedia says "opera") "Porgy & Bess." I don't know it well. But one thing I do know: Nina Simone rules.
  • 11D: "The _____ Report" (1998 reading) (Starr) - wanted HITE but it wouldn't fit. Not sure which "Report" has more sex.
  • 25D: Haircut that's short on the top and sides and long in back (mullet) - I believe the phrase is "Business up front, party in the back."
  • 27D: Orly : Paris :: Gardermoen : _____ (Oslo) - piece of cake. Even if you don't know it, you really only need one cross or so to eliminate most plausible 4-letter European cities.
  • 53D: "Sun Valley Serenade" star, 1941 (Henie) - the ice-skater? This one was a total mystery to me.
  • 54D: One of an old drive-in double feature, maybe (oater) - Can't get enough of this word. OATERs were popular in TOOTS SHOR's day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

97 comments:

Crosscan 8:46 AM  

Ok all you Rexperts what do you make of this? Trouble for me today was HENIE/BESS – Catfish led me to BASS - and PALTER.

Per JimH’s database, PALTER last appeared in April, 1994. BESS was last clued in reference to Catfish Row in April, 1994. HENIE was last clued in reference to Sun Valley Serenade in March, 1994. How long has this puzzle been on the shelf?

Wendy Laubach 8:55 AM  

Don't you call it a musical when spoken dialogue is interrupted by the occasional song? And opera if it's sung throughout? Porgy & Bess is sung throughout. (But then what's an "operetta"?) Are you telling me there's a version with Nina Simone as Bess? Because that I've got to hear. Or did she just cover Summertime or something? I'll go look.

I wasn't familiar with Tom Poston, and "PRO" for practiced didn't quite work for me, though it seemed the only possible answer. Also, "palter" is a new one on me, though again, the only thing that would fit. The "Hygieia" clue faked me out for the longest time.

For some reason I never got the Three Stooges habit early in life, though when I watch them now they're hilarious. So I'm slow getting the frequent "Moe" clues. But the Marx Brothers -- now, there's a formative influence of my childhood. Right up there with Porgy and Bess and South Pacific. Here's a good story about Harpo Marx in the first flush of success, at a restaurant he finally could afford: He glances at the menu, snaps it shut, and says, "Yes, and coffee."

Wade 8:57 AM  

Ditto all the way down the line on Rex's commentary. This puzzle was radically uneven for my tastes. I flew through it, except for a couple of squares--PALTER, where I hesitated, and CUTSUP/TUN, which I just flat out got wrong (I left the O.) Those two blemishes, along with the "please accept me" abbreviations and variants (and the "please don't notice me" KNOTTS/KNOT pairing) make it a C-plus Thursday for me.

Did everyone get forwarded the mullet website that seemed to be so in vogue a few years ago? Was that, like, the very first website or something? I remember getting that thing from dozens of people.

I've always had a soft spot for Bjorn Borg, maybe because of his vainglorious attempt to return to tennis, years after he retired, with his old wooden racket, when the entire game had changed into something entirely different from and inferior to the days when he ruled Wimbledom. And he has my birthday. And a mullet.

jannieb 8:58 AM  

Yclept??? (that just flunked my spell-checker) Palter??? Ok - two new words for me, but easily gettable. Otherwise, not too much fun today. Looks like we're on a Stooge kick - second Moe sighting this week (but him in "shorts"??? hello, breakfast test?????) I'd rate this more easy than medium for a Thursday.

SethG 8:59 AM  

I did a quick check of 9-letter O-MEN in a list of names I found (not sure how "complete" it is...).

There were a bunch of names I knew, but the only ones I'd say are less (crossword) marginal than ROB and TOM were Snoop Dogg and Sonny Bono. And if you don't allow the trailing Y, the only ones that qualify at all are Scott Wolf (actor), Bob Stoops (football) and Tom Scholz (music).

Didn't know JOHN BROWN, though I'm more confident I learned about him in school than about, say, OAK TAG. Didn't know PALTER either. And never seen NEGEB, but the V-vs-B is something to look out for in any Hebrew transliteration.

Got all the theme entries, and also your Misc.s, without much trouble at all, but this was still a slow Thursday for me.

Wendy Laubach 9:09 AM  

Oh, yeah, that's right -- "yclept"? What the heck is that?

Wendy Laubach 9:14 AM  

From World Wide Words: " . . . .the word appears in most dictionaries today, even though it died out in the north of England about 1200 and lingered in the south and east only a little longer. It has been outside the mainstream of English for so long that the person credited with popularising it again (Gavin Douglas, a Scots poet and divine), wrote around the end of the fifteenth century." I rest my case.

Pinky 9:17 AM  

In retrospect, Rex - I'm guessing the highland "fling" referred to a tryst and not a dance....

Ulrich 9:27 AM  

I must admit that the theme is kind of clever--perhaps I'm too impressed b/c I didn't get it until I came here--looked exclusively for omens in the names.

A reason may be that I started on a real sour note from which I never recovered, which meant my heart was not in the puzzle. The clue for BAHN is simply wrong: An "Autobahn" is not a "bahn" for the same reason that a railroad is not a road--the prefix significantly alters the meaning of the phrase. "Bahn" in the context of transportation means one and only one thing in German: railroad--short for "Eisenbahn" (iron track, like French chemin de fer). Constructors and editors should know that one cannot simply take a phrase apart in a language one does not understand. The more general point, made here several times, is that experts in a field can be at a disadvantage when confronted with an awkward if not outright wrong clue related to their field of expertise.

treedweller 9:33 AM  

COTSUP turned out to be the correction I needed to finish this one. First, I googled to see if it might be TOOTSSHOR (surprise! that's correct). Then I corrected (again, with google's help) BASS/HENIA. When I still had an error, I googled COTSUP. Google helpfully asked, "Did you mean "cuts up?"

Jane Doh 9:38 AM  

This was lots of fun for me. Must admire the way the six names fit so neatly, and OMEN is subtle and lovely as a theme concept. Don't know anything about "Numb3rs," but have fond memories of Rob Morrow in "Northern Exposure."

Lots of clues to love, especially the Highland fling, which surely must refer to the hokey pokey hanky panky dance, yes?

Wade 9:44 AM  

I kind of dig "yclept." I admit I first thought it was a rapper.

The word "famed," however ("Famed restauranteur")--do we really need it? When I hear it instead of "famous" a little voice in my head asks "Who famed him?" I'm trying to think of some subtlety that "famed" brings to the table that "famous" doesn't, and I can't think of anything. I've argued the case for needing both "unsatisfied" and "dissatisfied," but I can't do the same for "famed."

Orange 9:50 AM  

Ulrich, I always appreciate your discourses on the German language. My five years of German classes are allotted a shrinking amount of space in my brain.

In a lesbian Highland fling, both parties would be lasses. What I want to know is this: Among Scottish feminists, is "lass" deemed an infantilizing way to refer to a grown woman, as "girl" is here? Have we got any Scotswomen around?

Orange 9:53 AM  

P.S. The hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean is really yclept Wyclef—that's not a stage name. Anyone for a [YCLE] rebus puzzle? Bicycle fits right in, too.

Rex Parker 9:53 AM  

@Orange,

Girl, you think too much...



rp

Peter Sattler 9:57 AM  

As an English professor who hates most lit-only words, I still cannot help but love that yclept clue. I reminds me of first starting to get the rhythms and language of Chaucer. And then there are those great lines of Milton:

But come, thou goddess fair and free,
In Heav'n yclept Euphrosyne


But why stop there? Bring on the all the Chaucerisms: Yclothed, Ycovered, Ycalled, Ycoming (I'm sure we'll see "sumer icumen in" soon, no?), Ycrammed, Ychristened, Yclad, Yclawed, Yclenched. Yclenched??

And if you could turn it into a verb, you could say "ycrossword":

I have many a puzz'ling word ycrost,
Then turned to Rex, to find them neatly glossed
(Though some made my morning meal get tossed).

Wade 9:58 AM  

Orange, my wife is from Scotland. She isn't here to ask, but my sense is that "lass" is never really used seriously. In fact, I've never heard her or any of her Scot friends or family use it at all. "Lad," on the other hand, is pretty commonly used. When our little boy (or any little boy) does anything sweet or cute, she says, "Och! The wee lad," which is kind of cute in itself.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Knife someone through the intertubes?: E-stab

Ulrich 10:09 AM  

@Prof. Sattler: Your poem was the final nudge I needed to get out of my "funk":-)--bravo!

Hydromann 10:16 AM  

Ah, Tom Poston...who out there remembers what Tom. Don Knotts, and Louis Nye had in Common? Right, they were all regular interviewees of Steve Allen's "Man on the Street" segments. Knotts was, of course, the extremely(!) nervous one, Poston was the one wh never could remember his name, and Louis Nye was the totally self-assured Gordon Hathaway. (Hi, I'm Gordon Hathaway, and I'm Nature's way of saying, ‘Thanks!’). Great stuff!

ArtLvr 10:16 AM  

Palter? Mullet? Egads... I found the puzzle almost-easy, agreed pretty much with Rex and others above, and just hope we won't come across another V-to-B like Negev yclept NEGEB any time soon!

For those still waxing nostalgic over the Big Band Era, it must be noted that Sun Valley Serenade was the first of the only two movies featuring The Glenn Miller Orchestra (the other was 1942's Orchestra Wives). And HENIE's co-star in the former, John Payne, was a handsome guy who remained scarred after a near-fatal accident in 1961 -- but he didn't let it stop him from a full career, as courageous as Kate Hepburn. He's still seen in reruns at Xmas as attorney Fred Gailey in Miracle on 34th Street.

∑;)

jls 10:19 AM  

nothing to add, but thank you ulrich for the enlightening and apt point you make about "bahn" specifically and non-english puzzle clues/fill in general.

and thank you prof. pete for your poetry post. lol!

;-)

janie

PhillySolver 10:20 AM  

I had MOE in shorts and had no idea what sport he played in his shorts. Thanks guys for clarifying it means film shorts.

@ peter, could you say the say the yclept clue ystunk? ycrap? I think wendy's post says enough, but if it is out there, I am glad to learn it.

@ sethg what is your avatar now? (kinda of ycreepy to me)

@orange morewords.com tells me you will have a rebus puzzle with two themed answers. USA Today is asking for it.

@ulrich thanks for the info and I am impressed that someone actually understands the construction of the German language. Yclever! So, could there be a paltergeist?

jannieb 10:23 AM  

@Pete Sattler - bravo!

@Hydroman - indeed, the Steve Allen triumvirate brings back fond memories. You knew what was coming but it still made you laugh.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I recall seeing a highland fling danced on "Sex and the City" with just men. Thus, the question mark as it could be just men with nary a lass.Or as someone said earlier also possibly a heterosexual or lesbian tryst).

Profphil

PhillySolver 10:43 AM  

I try not to duplicate postings, but I think this might help in future crosswords since we seem to be returning to the days of Merrye Olde England. The moribund liquid measurements are:
1 tun has
2 butts,
3 firkins,
4 hogsheads,
6 tierces,
8 barrels
14 rundlets or
252 gallons.

Bill from NJ 10:52 AM  

MANSE? CUTSUP? PALTER? ALBS? TOOTSSHOR? BESS? TOMPOSTON?

Once I scraped the mold off this puzzle I did all right. This puzzle smacks of a man past 70 with a minor in English Lit.

I'm not making a value judgement here; it just cuts uncomfortably close to the bone, thank you very much.

How I came up with YCLEPT I'll never know but I knew right away it meant NAMED.

Ulrich, my German is limited but I had the impression that BAHN was misused as a clue.

And as for ROBMORROW - a standout in AAA but just a cup of coffee in The Show.

I solved this thing in short order but I reserve the right to be uneasy about it.

GlennCY 10:52 AM  

I thought the theme was terrible, but what really bothers me is Roja. Maybe I'm getting somthing wrong here but, vino in Spanish is masculine so red wine is rojo. It could NEVER be referred to as roja.

GlennCY 10:55 AM  

Oh yeah, and I have always heard cut up to mean be funny with no implication of misbehaving.

Joon 11:01 AM  

orange, i got some more theme answers for you. not including all the other answers with CYCLE (life cycle, unicycle, tricycle, motorcycle, etc.):

VERYCLEVER
WALLYCLEAVER
SQUEAKYCLEAN
DRYCLEANONLY
BEVERLYCLEARY
POLYCLEITUS (famous sculptor of antiquity)
CITYCLERK (or LAYCLERK, or COUNTYCLERK, or DATAENTRYCLERK)
SECURITYCLEARANCE
TONYCLEMENT (canadian politician)
KOBYCLEMENS (son of roger, and minor-league catcher... probably not famous enough)
EURYCLEA (wet-nurse of odysseus... definitely not famous enough)
FOXXYCLEOPATRA (beyonce's character in austin powers 3)
ETHNICALLYCLEANSED (kind of a downer, no?)
SLUTTYCLEAVAGE (okay, maybe not)

jae 11:02 AM  

This was much easier than yesterday's for me. My only misstep was needing to change ACTSUP to CUTSUP. Didn't know PALTER or Yclept but the crosses were a piece of cake.

I would argue that POSTON is better known than MORROW but that might be an age thing.

@hydroman -- Don't forget Bill Dana who did the now probably politically incorrect Jose Jimenez astronaut bit.

GlennCY 11:05 AM  

A little addition to Wade's comment on Famed - if the person is in the NYT crossword puzzle, do we really need to point out that he is famous (or famed)?

jae 11:07 AM  

Oh and I agree, a weak theme in a somewhat odd puzzle.

Wade 11:09 AM  

"I know a little German. There he is now!"

Ulrich, your point about the misuse of BAHN is edifying. And I'll echo the other posters who have congratulated you on your adeptness at doing x-words in a second language. (Because of my British wife and a semester abroad in London, I've done a lot of British crosswords in my visits to England and Scotland, and I find that difficult enough, even though the answers are purportedly in English.) If Peter Sellers were still alive you and he could collaborate on a screenplay about someone who learns English from doing crossword puzzles, a sort of sequel to "Being There." ("Let us hie to the nabe to view an oater!")

dk 11:15 AM  

Speaking as a lonely poser who may or may not be over 50 I sailed through this one.

I thought Numbhrs was a rap group so I wanted DefMorrow.

Having grown up in New England TOMPOSTON embodies many of my relatives.

And, who can forget "Bess you is my Woman now."

I am so used to U2 it took a second or two to remember Gary Powers and UTWO.

I had the same COTSUP and TUN issue.

And, sethg what is that picture/avatar. It looks like a Dalek

Ulrich 11:17 AM  

@glenncy: The ROJA clue was my second item to complain about (I only knew Spanish vino tinto for red wine anyway), but then I found a Mexican wine list that calls red wine clearly vino roja. I think we have to wait for a Spanish-speaker to clear this up.

@wade: The Peter Sellers idea is delicious--thanks!

I've now used up my alloted three posts for the day, so please do not provoke me for more:-)

dk 11:19 AM  

Drat, Numb3hrs.

dk 11:22 AM  

My third and last post is to state ROJA is in fact red as a Spanish wine... I am not a Spanish speaker although I am a Spanish wine drinker.

Joon 11:22 AM  

i had trouble with this puzzle, not least because i had only heard of two of the "O-MEN," those being BJORNBORG and JOHNBROWN. i feel like i've seen the last name SHOR in a puzzle before but not TOOTS. and the actors were all pretty new to me. the theme has the kind of strange quality that it's probably not that easy to pull off, and yet somehow seems unimpressive anyway. i suppose that's not a good quality.

(existential questions: does BONO qualify as an O-MAN? what about MR. T? or MR. MXYZPTLK?)

moving on to the fill, i liked much of it. PALTER, yes. [Yclept] is fantastic. reminds me of arthurian legend, chaucer, and the super-old-school christmas carol "adam lay ybounden." good clue for GYMNASTS. but the SE was kind of a mess, with tons of actor names coming together with the outdated TUN, the awkward UTWO, and a very strange clue for CUTSUP... and yes, KNOT and KNOTTS. i suppose changing STOCK to STOPS or STOWS would have "solved" the problem at the expense of the not-passing-the-breakfast-test SNOT. hmm, what about ["It'___ what you think!"]? :)

kate 11:31 AM  

I loved that MULLET was in the puzzle, even though I'm slightly sad that's become the common term for the haircut over what we used to call it, an "ape drape."

ArtLvr 11:38 AM  

p.s. to anagram fans -- don't miss today's CrosSynergy puz. !

Bill D 11:49 AM  

The only sticking point I had today was the QUA/PALTER crossing; since no one else mentioned QUA, I guess I'll have to put it in my crosswordese file. Changed "Acts up" to CUTS UP, and "Clan" to LASS. Loved "Athletes on Horses" for GYMNASTS, and mo' MOE today! Kind of offset the lack of appeal, IMO, of the lay-moe Tom Poston and Don Knotts.

I also had to change "Rojo" to ROJA, which, I agree with Glenn, seems just wrong for a Spanish adjective of wine. I got BAHN straightaway, although it didn't smell right, as clarified by Ulrich. My pet peeve was U-TWO for U-2 - never, ever, in a million years, by anyone, anywhere, anytime baby - would an aircraft numerical designation be spelled out. Never. You could possibly get away with it by cluing "Famous spyplane, literally?" but I'd balk at that too. That said, I knew what the puzzle was getting at, put UTWO in, and moved on like I suspect Ulrich did with BAHN. I too think the SE corner should have been reworked to remove UTWO and the one-T KNOT. CUTS UP, PSST, COWS, and STOCK aren't worth saving. @joon - SNOT possibly could have been clued as 'S NOT (it'S NOT). I think other ways of reworking that corner are possible.

Saw Sonja HENIE in another puzzle recently; with BJORN BJORG & OSLO we had a bit of a Scandinavian flourish today.

Yclept. Really? I thought it was part of a Mike Myers coffee klatch bit...

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

I fail to see a problem with the German clue and answer. My online dictionary defines Bahn as a pathway, path, or way.

miriam b 12:05 PM  

I think ROJA is a Spanish wine region. But you'd call a red wine vino rojo or more commonly vino tinto. So the clue does seem off base. Disclaimer: The only Spanish I know is a smattering of 16th-century vintage picked up during a 3-year stay in 20th-century Albuquerque; and what I've gleaned from warning labels and from translations in household manuals. The one for my sewing machine seems particularly lyrical.

ROBMORROW? Who he?

PALTER and TUN: New to me.

Wendy, IMO an operetta is a light opera, as in G & S. OTOH, a novella is a short novel, not a light one. I empathize with all who must learn ESL.

Excuse abbrs. I'm in too much of a rush to explain why.

peter sattler: Having ythought of Milton's lines the minute I filled in YCLEPT, I was delighted to see them in your post.

Doris 12:11 PM  

The Bard to the rescue again:
Macbeth: And be these juggling fiends no more believed
That PALTER with us in a double sense.

@Wendy: There is no hard and fast rule. Many operas, sometimes known as singspiels if they are in German or opéras comiques if they are in French, have spoken dialogue. The differences among opera, operetta, and musical comedy often have to do with the weight and quantity of the music rather than subject matter or dialogue.

But enough about me....

Anonymous in Texas 12:22 PM  

Best I've ever done on a Thursday puzzle. No time because I couldn't finish it, but got a whole lot more than ever before on a Thursday.

Kind of rewarding, too, because it was hard, but was able to get it done. First toe hold - mullet.

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

To bring yclept up to the date of the rest of the puzzle, H.Allen Smith's autobiography *Hell in a Handbasket* (He was a journalist,publisher, and humorist), has a great section on trying to sneak yclept into newspaper copy.

It was published in 1962 ;)

.../Glitch (one of them anonomices)

Orange 12:53 PM  

Joon, the only hitch is that nobody knows how to draw an YCLE.

parshutr 1:01 PM  

@bill from nj...I miss your demographics by a mere 3 years, 67 -- almost 68, and an English lit minor. I thought there'd be grumbling about yclept, and confusion about Moe in shorts (i.e. short subjects). But I have a big beef with Negeb, and almost as big with Roja.
Seemed very easy for a Thursday, but that's because I'm soooo old.

SethG 1:12 PM  

It's a Cow Up A Tree.

My friend Ricky dresses as Bjorn Borg for Halloween each year, and the first time I saw Tommy Robredo I thought "he looks like Ricky dressed like Bjorn!".

Bill from NJ 1:13 PM  

It is my understanding that the Gershwins called Porgy & Bess a folk opera and did not accept the classification of it as an operetta at all.

It is ironic that Gershwin considered its reception racially motivated but, in some quarters, its conception was deemed racist

joe 1:14 PM  

@hydroman: Tom Poston and Don Knotts reminded me also of Steve Allen's "Man in the Street." Hi Ho, Steverino.

Walt Kelly in "Pogo" introduced a crow yclept Clifford.

Crosscan 1:23 PM  

Porgy and Bess, Pogo, Bjorn Borg, Steve Allen - clearly my 1994 references were too modern for this puzzle.

JC66 1:32 PM  

I'm 68 going on 69 (I've had this ID for 2 years), so I found today's puzzle easy for a Thursday, although I never heard of y clept and had to get NAMED from the crosses.

I forcefully agree with those who found NEGEB and UTWO really bad. Curly poker was a much better clue for MOE.

Best clue: atheletes on horses for Gymnasts.

MargaretR 1:35 PM  

Two new words today - MULLET (he haircut, not the fish -- who knew?) and PALTER.

And it was a breeze for a Thursday, much faster than yesterday.

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

One way to tell if it's a serious opera as opposed to light opera (the Barber of Seville) or operetta (The Mikado) is if somebody dies. If there's a dead person it's serious opera. The only exception to this rule that I know is Gilbert & Sullivan's The Yeomen of the Guard where the jester dies of a broken heart.

Ulrich 2:01 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark 2:18 PM  

What the heck did "ARTS" for a lively group mean?

miriam b 2:41 PM  

Mark: The phrase "lively arts" has been around for a long time. In the 1920's, the critic Gilbert Seldes wrote a book titled The Seven Lively Arts in which he argued, in essence, that what's now called pop culture should have its place in the pantheon of the arts along with the more exalted forms, such as ballet.

jannieb 2:50 PM  

@miriamb - thanks for that explanation (and to Mark for asking the question I forgot to ask). Boy, this puzzle really is dusty, isn't it?

Bill from NJ 2:59 PM  

@parshutr-

Sorry that I offended you. I had the gun aimed at myself but some of the shot hit you as well as my own damned foot!!

chefbea1 3:02 PM  

very easy for a thursday puzzle nary a google.
Never heard of a mullet.
Went to a show in Branson missouri a few years ago and saw a show entitled "Back to the Fifties" where a Don Knotts look-a-like ushered us in. What a fun show!!!

andrea carla michaels 3:10 PM  

SO much to say about a puzzle that only took me a few minutes...(and almost none of it positive!)

I agree SE corner needed to be totally reworked so as not to have KNOTTS and KNOTS, which would have gotten rid of the atrocious UTWO
(I never did parse that, so the W is the only thing I left blank, even tho I finished this puzzle in just a few minutes which for me on a Thurs is a surprise).

But it may be me and parsing today, bec I also had to come here to get O-Men!
ROB MORROW altho better known for "Northern Exposure" is on a current show that is a fairly big hit, so he shouldn't have been such a mystery...
but the NEGEB so threw me, that I wrote to my beau (an Israeli commando who barely speaks English and even HE said (when I asked if it's EVER pronounced or spelled that way), and I quote,
"NEGEV it is Right Way."
(This from a man who, when I asked how the bris he went to was wrote:
"Andi, like all bris. Cut Eat Go"

Aaah, I love my foreign men!
(WHy do you think I polopped down next to Ulrich at the ACPT banquet!?)
Tho I only date men who not only don't speak English, but can never even begin to understand that I do crosswords, much less MAKE them...that way I know they love me for ME!) ;)

ANYWAY, back to my few non-complaints:
I didn't know but liked learning PALTER. And YCLEPT rang a faint bell (and then I got it solely on crosses and blushed as I am a namer for a living)
I only know a smattering of German and knew BAHN was wrong without AUTO...and I got caught initially on the ROJO/ROJA thing.
I think in a weird/unhealthy way that some crosswords are contributing to our ignorance of other languages (cf ANO discussion).
I hate when folks shrug it off, saying it doesn't matter. It does!!!! It's totally being Ugly Americans to insist that it doesn't matter if we get it slightly wrong!!!!

mac 3:15 PM  

Not too difficult for a Thursday, but I hit a few snags. Thought of "toss" for the Highland fling (like tossing a beam), and had visions of basketball players in short shorts with the Howard clue.

Henie was a gimme because we lived in Boise, Idaho for two years and made it to Sun Valley several times, where her name is still mentioned a lot. Qua came easily, too, because that term is actually used in Dutch a lot more than in English. Palter was a new word, easily gotten because of crosses, but the word polter also came to mind.

@Ulrich: I knew you wouldn't be happy with Bahn! You were also very funny with the omen comment.

I think we got rid of the anonymice!

andrea carla michaels 3:15 PM  

@bill d, jannieb
Speaking again of passing the breakfast test...I used to think that was nonsense as just as many of us do puzzles at midnight or whenever...however, I'd hate to see SNOT in a puzzle...and just yesterday I thought the commuter by Michael T. Williams pushed the envelope in an unpleasant way by having
25D "Raised bubble" BLISTER and a few clues later 52D "Open sore" ULCER.
ick.

PhillySolver 3:24 PM  

andi,
no talk much englush here...u free tonite?

I'm till wondering about that chaperon gig.

acmenaming@earthlink.net 3:31 PM  

@phillysolver
I'm flattered, but save your flirting for puzzlegirl!
;)

Tin Tin 3:46 PM  

A troll-free world is a better place for us all.
I found today's puzzle easy by Thursday standards (for me). But I also think it was not that well presented. Rex rates each puzzle's difficulty. I think there should also be an evaluation of the quality of the puzzle. Today was 2 1/2 stars IMO.
@joon, I busted out laughing at your YCLE list.
Brooklyn

chefbea1 3:46 PM  

@Andrea - great defnition of Bris. lol

dk 4:09 PM  

@chefbea1 - @andrea is not allowed to bring snacks.

andrea carla michaels 4:24 PM  

@cheafbea1
I know! I wanted to have tshirts made up as BRIS gifts!!!!
It's like "Eat Shoots and Leaves".
Little tiny Tshirt for the poor baby that says
"Teey cut off part of my peepee and all I got was this lousy Tshirt"
and on the back it would say:
"BRIS: CUT EAT GO"

@dk thanks for the "tip"...

Ok, I've exceeded my limit today AND I don't want to start a rash of circumcision jokes.
Plus it's after 1pm and I've not left the house yet! (Nor written a puzzle nor done anything except read Rex!)

@ Ulrich, that should have read "Plopped" down next to you, not POLOPPED (which also prob doesn't pass the breakfast test! AND is an incorrect usage of the word AUTOPLOP)

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

With all respect to the erudite and interesting Ulrich, my Cassell’s German Dictionary defines the standalone word Bahn as “path, road, way.” So the clue is correct according to the conventions of crossword construction--that is, it adheres to standard dictionary definitions. If it doesn’t jibe with common usage in the native language, that’s another issue that has nothing to do with crosswords. If Ulrich has a gripe, it should be registered with dictionary makers, not with constructors or editors.

chefbea1 4:31 PM  

@Andrea - don't think that t-shirt passes the breakfast test.

Crosscan 4:56 PM  

@Andrea, the theme today is O-Men, not OW-Men.

Ulrich 5:06 PM  

Anonymous at 4:28 is the second to make the dictionary argument. So, I feel sufficiently provoked to reply. Those brave souls who are interested can find it here.

And since I'm over the limit and will incur Rex's wrath anyway, let me make the most of it and thank Andrea for her acknowledgment and for teaching me the word of the day, bris--and all the others for their support:-)

Leon 5:49 PM  

"DON KNOTTS in a greasy MULLET." Describing Tom Hanks, in an internet review of The Da Vinci Code.

Also, more Bard (Henry V):

He therefore sends you, meeter for your spirit,
This TUN of treasure; and, in lieu of this,
Desires you let the dukedoms that you claim Hear no more of you.
This the Dauphin speaks.

(Tennis Balls being the treasure.)

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

Rex, you're so stupid! You're so dumb! How can you say that? What do you mean? I create puzzles! I know better! Why don't you see it my way?!? Ack! (remember Bill the Cat?)

Oh, sorry, I'm supposed to be posting to yesterday's blog...heh, heh.

chefbea1 6:41 PM  

@anonymous 6:30 why are you yelling at rex???
I think I have posted more than I am suppose to

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

It was a joke!!!! Making fun of all the bruhaha (sp?) yesterday.

fergus 7:02 PM  

A little surprised at the generally tepid denigration level of this puzzle, which I thought was one of the crummiest in recent memory. The Thursday-style creativity seemed completely uninspired as well, in my opinion. The only pairing I liked was ASH for Fire proof? Of course, I'm not a name enthusiast, so didn't have much inclination in favor of this exercise.

markus 7:20 PM  

Here in Louisville we call a mullet a "Kentucky waterfall"
Thank you Wade for the TOP SECRET reference and...
Yes, POSTON:MORROW is a generational thing (granted I knew both without having been around for POSTON) I'm a wellspring of useless knowledge... I think... or maybe I'm just young and ignorant...
P.S. I come to this to learn and learn I do! Thank you all for the whole YCLEPT dilly-o and what not...

markus 7:20 PM  

Here in Louisville we call a mullet a "Kentucky waterfall"
Thank you Wade for the TOP SECRET reference and...
Yes, POSTON:MORROW is a generational thing (granted I knew both without having been around for POSTON) I'm a wellspring of useless knowledge... I think... or maybe I'm just young and ignorant...
P.S. I come to this to learn and learn I do! Thank you all for the whole YCLEPT dilly-o and what not...

Michael 8:28 PM  

A while back I called a puzzle "old-fashioned" and was surprised by objections to this. May I call this one "old-fashioned" given the clues and answers?

palter, tun, yclept...nonetheless, an easy puzzle for me.

green mantis 8:47 PM  

I've got your denigration right here, Fergus. So many clue/answer pairings felt off to me, like I was reading a clunky translation or something. And where flat/vague/ugly clues intersected, I felt stranded at an unpleasant junction, like a crossroads in the middle of some bleak rural town kept afloat only by a large waste processing plant. This way to...bad smell. This way to...other bad smell.

Dissatisfaction: I has it.

Barb in Chicago 10:22 PM  

Loved all the different names for MULLETS.

Thought Rex outdid himself today. Lots of smiles for me while reading the blog. Especially liked: Not sure which report had more sex in it.

Missed all the "fun" yesterday. Maybe that's a good thing. I enjoy the community here and had been wondering about ... oh, well, I won't bring it up again.

You all have changed the way I look at crosswords and the way I do them. Swore I'd never do them online, but now I am.

Jeff S. 10:24 PM  

Funny. I found your blog by Googling COTS UP.

tin tin 10:56 PM  

Oh, and Tom POSTON is not a generational thing. He has worked for many decades in prominent TV work. I remember him best from the "Bob Newhart Show" and the later "Newhart." He was also a regular guest on a number of game shows, also over many years. I honestly have never seen the Steve Allen Show in its entirety. IMDB also says that he has had roles in "Mork and Mindy" and even did a voice on "The Simpsons" (c'mon Rex--"marginal?") In truly intergenerational fashion, at the end of his career he even appeared on "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody." Love and miss this guy!

Brooklyn

Steve L 10:59 PM  

ROJA is just wrong for Spanish wine. The normal phrase is "vino tinto," red wine. "Vino rojo" is understandable, but really just means wine that is red, a description, not a category of wine. "Vino roja" is just a mistake, even if someone once saw it on a menu. Mexican restaurants, especially ersatz franchise ones, are famous for careless Spanish smatterings on their menus. Those gringos don't know anything. Perhaps the source of confusion is that there is a famous wine region in Spain called RIOJA. I am not a wine connoisseur, but I am a licensed Spanish teacher.

andrea carla michaels 3:23 AM  

@steve l
Wow! Thanks for making that connection! I'll bet that's it! I'll bet RIOJA on some menus got accidentally made into ROJA later!
RIOJA by the way is good in Scrabble, whereas ROJO and ROJA are not...

Has anyone mentioned that TOM POSTON was married to Suzanne Pleshette?

roro 7:42 AM  

Borg did not sport a mullet, just long shaggy hair. Perhaps you have him confused with John Daly.

SethG 8:34 AM  

Some consider the headband mullet a special class of mullet.

Some friends and I have a photo scavenger hunt every year at the Minnesota State Fair, and Couple with Matching Mullets is one of the categories. (Finding The Double Fanny-Pack earns bonus points, which we've never had trouble earning.)

John 3:58 PM  

I don't think anyone mentioned this, but the analogy clue (answer=OSLO) references the location a major city's airport is in. Paris' airport is in Orly, while OSLO's is at Gardermoen.

Yancy 1:46 PM  

I take offense to sethg using the MN State Fair to find Mullets and Fanny-Packs.
(This puzzle here on 7/3/08)

Retired_Chemist 1:48 PM  

Negeb identified as a variant didn't bother me. The V/B confusion in some other transliterations is common due to the phonetic similarity. I recall my Spanish teacher in high school, LONG ago, saying "invierno" was pronounced "imbierno." She was Cuban, probably from Habana..... Also, "Negeb" googles. So I, at least, am not vitching....

Mike the Wino 2:03 PM  

@roro 7:42, confusing Bjorn Borg with John Daly is like confusing Rosie O'Donnell with Alley McBeal! Ack!

Oh, and for the very best in mullets, goto www.ratemymullet.com.

Cheers!

WWPierre 3:16 PM  

This was a two-cupper for me today.

Like Mac, I thought of "caber" for the Highland Fling clue. It could be clued as just that, and it would delight me if I ever found it in a puzzle.

http://www.wyomingcelticfestival.org/athletes.html

I knew the answer to 24a was ROB MORROW, but I had ROV, and refused to change it.

I agree that the puzzle was a bit ragged, but I still enjoyed it, and all the comments above. They can't all be perfect. This blog would soon become boring if filled with nothing but "oohs and aahs" :)

I first ran into "yclept" in Playboy Magazine in my youth, so it was a gimme for me. Is it possible that HH is the one responsible for disinterring it from it's medieval grave?

I have noticed that the comments are growing in number here, and thus taking more of my time. Good for you, Rex.

Me Again 3:23 PM  

Oh yeah, one more thing:

If you dance around at a party with a lampshade on your head, you are "cutting up" but not necessarily "misbehaving" (depending, of course, on the kind of party you are attending.)

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