Title town of Longfellow poem / SUN 5-20-12 / Lanchester on screen / Hall-of-Fame pitcher Joss / Singer of 1958 #1 hit It's Only Make Believe / When repeated old New Orleans tune / First H in Hannukah / Simba's mate

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: "Wisecracks" — familiar phrases where terminal "Y" in one word removed. Destination: Wacky Town.

Word of the Day: AIN (64D: River to the Rhône) —
The Ain is a river in eastern France. In the Franco-Provençal language it is known as the En. //The river rises at an altitude of some 700 metres, near the village of La Favière, in the Jurassiclimestone of the southern end of the Jura mountains and flows into the Rhône about 40 kilometres above Lyon, some 190 kilometres down the Ain. (wikipedia)
• • •

Simple concept that at times rendered moderately amusing answers. Fill is dilapidated, but you can see that. I wrote down in the margins fully two dozen answers I would try *hard* to keep out of any puzzle I was constructing. Now, keep in mind, in making a Sunday, you're going to get some fill you're not thrilled with. It happens. Sundays are big, and you can't really begrudge the constructor a LTYR or ILA here and there. But this one is hyper-reliant on musty Maleska-Era stuff: answers that are second nature for the seasoned solver, but not at all lovely. ORLE (46A: Shield border) and ATRI (45D: Title town of a Longfellow poem) and AIN (64D: River to the Rhône) are probably the best examples from today's puzzle. Someone in-the-know wrote me the other day to say that my proposed fix for FOCH (in that puzzle a while back) wouldn't fly with Will because it would've resulted in SLA, an answer he is trying to phase out. I'm all for phasing out SLA, actually, but I have a hard time squaring the (alleged) anti-SLA sentiment with this grid.  I don't know why the quality of the fill seems to matter so little lately. I also don't know why a stud wearing scarlet should be a drag queen. A stud dressed like Scarlett, sure. But the color alone hardly makes a man a cross-dresser.


Theme answers:
  • 23A: Chocolat, say? (TREAT OF VERSAILLES) — good
  • 39A: Macho drag queen? (A STUD IN SCARLET) — good
  • 50A: Like literary classics? (GOOD AND READ) — zzzzz
  • 54A: Call to the bar? (BEER BELL) — pretty good
  • 68A: Like a centaur? (PART ANIMAL) — good
  • 70A: "Don't let that youngster get off without paying!"? ("BILL THE KID!") — pretty good
  • 86A: Unbiased account? (FAIR TALE) — OK
  • 89A: Announcement made by a transplant surgeon, perhaps? (LIVER STABLE) — uh ... I don't know much about surgery, but would you say "[organ] stable"? A patient can be stable, but an organ? It *seems* plausible, but I don't know if it is.
  • 97A: Stigmatize a "great" king? (BRAND ALEXANDER) — fine
  • 119A: Two reasons to avoid a dog kennel? (THE SOUND AND THE FUR) — clue makes this good
We get "WOMAN" on the one day we *don't* get ONO—what are the odds? (actually, probably pretty good) (11A: John Lennon song that ends "I love you, yeah, yeah, now and forever"). The "when repeated" words were both complete mysteries to me. I must have just looked up that "IKO IKO" song recently (33A: When repeated, an old New Orleans tune) because once I got the "K" I knew it, but SANS — wow, I have no memory of that Shakespearean line At All (35A: Word repeated four times in the last line of Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage"). I got ADDIE with just a cross or two (60A: Hall-of-Fame pitcher Joss) but (funnily) wrote in RUTH instead of RYAN at first for 84A: Baseball's strikeout king. I wrote the "F" in TREAT OF VERSAILLE really weirdly, so at the end I was left wondering why CAKES was the answer to 6D: Saint-Germain-des-Près sights (CAFES). [Take a peke?] is a great clue for DOGNAP. NAAN is spelled the correct (i.e. preferred by me) double-A way today (52D: Tandoor-baked bread). Belle STARR (62D: Outlaw Belle who is said to have harbored Jesse James) sounds like a comics character (i.e. like Brenda STARR); her name came to me easily, unlike TWITTY—I didn't know he went that far back (100D: Singer of the 1958 #1 hit "It's Only Make Believe"). HETH is not a letter I know (101D: The first "H" in Hanukkah). I know ETH (Old English). And ETA (also an "H"). I know the ice planet HOTH. But HETH not so much. I do, however, know NALA, and a bunch of other "Lion King" names, despite never having seen the movie (113D: Simba's mate). I still think of "The Lion King" as a *recent* Disney movie, but it's 18 years old now. I've got t-shirts older than that.



Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

63 comments:

The Bard 1:17 AM  

As You Like It > Act II, scene VII

JAQUES: All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

jae 1:46 AM  

Workman like Sun.  Easy-medium for me too with some mildly amusing theme (SOUND AND FUR,  BEERBELL)  answers.  I would add AIT to Rex's list of best examples.  A breezy Sun. morning couples puzzle.

@The Bard --thanks for the text. Saves me looking it up.

chefwen 3:04 AM  

Totally agree with the easy/medium, I was done in a fairly quick time, which isn't always a good thing, I like to drag a nice Sunday puzzle out as long as I can. Loved all the long answers except, as Rex said, GOOD AND READ was a sleeper. Loved 54A BEER BELL and 97A BRAND ALEXANDER. My biggest hangup was at 88D where I plopped down I guesS so and was totally entranced with my three esses in a row, only to find out that I was completely wrong.

Loved 1A (hi chefbea) but glad my name isn't STU.

Had TWIggY for 100D until I remembered that she was that skinny model, not a singer, TWITTY came shortly thereafter.

Thanks for a fun Sunday A. Arbesfeld and Rex.

Sue McC 7:13 AM  

Found it more challenging than Rex did, but enjoyable. Only the NW corner (where I had PROF instead of CHEF for the longest time) made me want to GOPOSTAL.

dk 7:48 AM  

Not my cuppa. That said DOGNAP was cute.

May we petition for Sundays to be trick, rebus and otherwise stunt-free? I do not mind the occasional lame fill but if I never see ASTUDINSCARLET again it would be too soon.

Perhaps I shall return to a puzzle free Sunday -- SANS everything as the @Bard has penned

���� (A 2 Humper)

dk

Glimmerglass 8:17 AM  

Rex left out BEER BELL. This was an okay Sunday puzzle, but not memorable. I didn't care for DERMAL and LAICAL -- probably real words, but forced. It killed 45 minutes, which is a bit faster than my usual Sunday.

Paul Krantz 9:15 AM  

Can anyone explain "oneball" as solid yellow? The only thing that comes to my mind is a reference that seems out of character for a "family" newspaper.

Tita 9:17 AM  

@Paul Krantz...think billiards... (Took me a looong time...)

Jim 9:22 AM  

Sloooow today. Mostly cuz these expressions being parodied are fairly uncommon.

Even Treaty of Versailles (a relative gimme) was an order of magnitude more difficult than the more pedestrian Sunday bedrock. I recall Wandering Jew last week, which was the most difficult of the lot, was more widely known, I'd argue, than A Study in Scarlet, livery stable, Brandy Alexander and The Sound and the Fury. Perhaps an easier play for the more GOODANDREAD among us.

Also, the BEERBELL/ONEBALL cross was not fun. Couldn't get BEER for a while, as I thought the name was eDDIE, and couldn't resolve the two bells. Well, obviously, I did. But not fun.

GOODANDREAD just...sucks. It's not clever (in the sense dropping the 'y' doesn't change the entire meaning of the phrase, as the best of them do), but it's also not really accurate. Good and ready is not a standalone phrase. It requires a 'When I'm God damn' lead-in. At least according to my never-ready girlfriend.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

@Paul Krantz - the one ball is yellow in the game of pool.

Was anyone else bothered by the two parts? 9 down (head line) and 68 across (like a centaur?)

Nhart1954 9:29 AM  

@glimmerglass

Dermal is fine; dermal abrasion, e.g. But laical is a mess. Lay is the adjective as in lay minister. Behave, you all!

Liked clues for dermal and dognap, but the rest was meh..and that from someone who usually enjoys "wackiness ensues" more than Rex.

Smitty 9:30 AM  

I liked my answer STUD IN A CORSET better

jberg 10:06 AM  

Didn't know either Mr. Josh nor Elaine (not proud of it, but I've nver seen Seinfeld), so I guessed A for their intersection, and so DNF. Otherwise it was OK - And I didn't mind LAICAL, I think churchy people actually say that.

Writeovers: AcmE before A ONE (right under CHEF, thought it was going to be a commenters' corner); isO before ODO, whicch held me up; lieDALot before TOLD A LIE (which is why I had iso), and utmOsT before ALL OUT.

Lie Rex, apparently, I didn't notice that BEER BELL was a theme.

Other than that, it's all been said, I guess.

Tita 10:18 AM  

Wow - for me this was a medium-challenging, at least along I80 from east to west, which really held me up.

I thought it was great fun, with way more fabulous fill than dreck.

Hands-down faves:
Clue/answer for DOGNAP, for THESOUNDANDTHEFUR

PARTANIMAL, BEERBELL, LIVERSTABLE,
YAWED, REFRY, WHIZKID
Clue for xwordese ELAL (really? Never knew that...), ACIDTEST...

Pop names were my undoing, and I actually finished with wrong letters at my Triple-Natick of BaNES/ATRE/ADDea.
Yes, there was dreck, but it didn't feel like too much of it. I object more to the plethora of pop names than to an occasional ORLE or AIT.

Fun and bouncy Sunday, Mr. Arbesfeld. For a full list of my tagged commentary, send me an email!

@Rex - are we being dumbed-down as crossword consumers, as we are in almost every other aspect of consumption? Tyler's blog post certainly did not resolve the issue...

joho 10:25 AM  

I'm with @Tita today with DOGNAP and THESOUNDANDTHEFUR being my favorites.

I got the missing "Y" theme almost immediately and would have liked more of a stuggle, but still this made for an enjoyable Sunday morning.

@Smitty, STUDINaCOrsET!

Mel Ott 10:37 AM  

@Smitty: LOL. Now if only Sherlock had solved a case called A STUDY IN A CORSET.

jackj 10:38 AM  

Ten theme entries and not a guffaw among them, not even a groan. It was a workmanlike solve of a workmanlike puzzle but, fortunately, some of the fill provided a little more fun and a slight bit of discovery.

DERMAL wasn’t ultimately hard except that I first wanted the “Skinny?” clue to be a play on getting the dope/inside info and settled on a less than satisfactory but proper length word, DETAIL. Nope.

More satisfactorily, there were WHIZKID and ONEBALL, ODEDON and GOPOSTAL and, continuing on, CLOTURE, DIMPLES and ITADDSUP were also fun entries.

In the category of discovery, the answer for the Aesop clue, FABULIST seemed overly familiar, a "gimme", but XWordInfo says it has only been in one other NY Times puzzle and that, way back in 1995. Huh.

That statistic caused some head scratching about the "gimme" aspect which steered me to a more interesting stat; AESOP as an answer has appeared 69 times in NY Times puzzles and of the clues used for that, the preponderance of them refer to “Fable, Fabulous or Fabulist” and, Ta-da, it seems that the FABULIST “gimme” was just a bit of friendly conflation by the old gray matter.

Little known facts that don't mean diddley. They're all around us.

Tita 10:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 10:47 AM  

@Smitty - STUDINaCOrsET has just been added to my Hall of Fame ...


Dang - hit my limit already - I'm taking the rest of the day off!

quilter1 10:55 AM  

Had moraLIST before FABULIST, but otherwise pretty straight forward Sunday. I wanted egg yolk before ONEBALL but of course the crosses told me no. LAICAL made me hesitate as I've never heard this used despite years of church activity at every level from my own congregation to the national synod. But it is in my dictionary so it is legit.

Rain threatening--I had hoped to finish planting and spiffing up the back deck today. We shall see.

My captchas today look like Finnish.

orangeblossomspecial 11:15 AM  

The intersection of 32D (SABR*) and 57A (GAE*) was particularly difficult for a non-Israeli earth goddess.

@Rex didn't link to 100D Conway
TWITTY's "It's only make believe".

58A Bobby VEE had a #1 hit a few years after Conway Twitty.

Movie theaters used to have sing-alongs to the bouncing ball. Here's one appropriate for 44D, Betty COED. Get through the cartoon first, then Rudy Vallee, then the bouncing ball.

chefbea 11:31 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Got the theme at 23 across.

Loved 89across.

Of course loved the shout out to me and chefwen but did have a malapop at 122 across. Had Sue as in Sous chef but then Sue appeared elsewhere.

Shamik 11:32 AM  

Maleska-era construction was very evident and so there were no "oho...that's funny" or "clever" or "learned something modern." Ok...if ODONNELL is considered modern, maybe I did, since that's where I had two wrong squares with OTONYELL. Yeah, I know it looked screwy...but SAYS made sense and don't know what I was doing with OTO. Pffft on me on a less than amusing puzzle.

The whole fell in a medium Sunday time for me.

oppickfu obathn...the captcha is as pretty as OTONYELL

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

I look forward to the NYT puzzle every day, especially at the end of the week when they get harder. I basically enjoy all the puzzles. I realize that this blog serves to critique the puzzles, but I appreciate most of the constructors efforts and sometimes cringe at the negative remarks.
I find something to enjoy in most puzzles, rather than looking for the negatives.
In this puzzle, I thought the theme was good when it created answers such as TREATOFVERSAILLES,
BILLTHEKID,THESOUNDANDTHEFUR. Had no complaints about the fill either.
Thanks for an enjoyable Sun. am to AA!

r.alphbunker 11:43 AM  

I am glad that I didn't put in gossip for {Skinny?} like @Tita did. That would have been hard to let go of.

@dk's two humper can be found here
http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U1F300.pdf
Look for 1F42B in the second table.

I'm giving the puzzle a 1F450 (look in first table).

EmilyPostInstitute 11:49 AM  

Ran the Blondie song through our rudeness filter and not much is left:

Oh, you know her.
She's too much.
Well, bye bye sugar!

Maybe RP listens to this as he is writing up his commentary.

SIMP 12:01 PM  

@Anonymous 11:32
Thank you for your comments!
I'm pro-constructor almost every day.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Niel Diamond is in scarlet.

afrogran 12:13 PM  

Thanks anonymous! I agree with all of your comments.
My objective is to complete the puzzle, bringing to bear all the factoids I've accumulated through my reading, to have no write-overs (by being sensitive to nuance), and not to google anything.
I loved remembering 'sans' eyes etc etc...and found the theme easily by answering the puzzle from the bottom upwards. Once I had 'sound and fur' I was on the hunt.
I appreciate and couldn't emulate the crossword maker's skills, and thank everyone on the blog for 'making my day'.

dd 12:16 PM  

I'm with jberg. Crossing a baseball name with a TV name, an obscure Longfellow place name, and a billiards reference led to my downfall.
Did love "Take a peke" for dognap and will smile at "A stud in a corset" all day.
I learned a useful new word too -- gnar.
Thanks to everyone for the puzzle and the comments.

600 12:48 PM  

@Smitty--Well, maybe that's because A STUD IN A CORSET is a way better answer for a drag queen, even if it doesn't fit the "omit Y, wackiness ensues" theme. @Mel Ott--Sherlock remark gave me a second LOL moment. Thanks.

Hand up for gossip before SKINNY. And I tried not worth A DAM even though I knew it probably wouldn't fly in a NYTimes puzzle. SOU took forever. That is not an expression I use.

I enjoyed the puzzle, but it was a DNF, my first Sunday DNF for a long, long time. I forgot ATRI, though I know I used to know it, could not see ONE BALL at all, don't know IKO, didn't remember Elaine's last name, and could not make BEER BELL come--I was stuck in a different kind of court, the one with judges. So it was a massive DNF until I googled ATRI and ADDIE and sought even more cheaty help for ONE BALL. (I'm so embarrassed I won't even admit what I did.) I can't even count the number of Naticks--and in such a little piece of the puzzle!

Oh, well. I'll rationalize that I learned something (I did.) And I loved TADA next to ATAD.

I agree with those indicating we don't thank constructors often enough. I'm thankful all the time for the fun they give me despite the tiny monetary rewards they reap.

JaxInL.A. 12:58 PM  

@Tobias could write a better anti-sports rant than I can, so I'd like to invoke said rant by reference.

If ADDIE had been clued as "the only Black historical doll from American Girl," I would not have had that double Natick with ATRI and the impenetrable pool hall reference to the ONE BALL. Did others really know about ADDIE Joss? A turn-of-the-last-century pitching prodigy who only played 9 seasons and died in 1911? Perhaps it's a entry I just need to memorize.

"The Bell of ATRI," on the other hand, is rather a fun poem, unknown to me until now and worth perusal. A horse demands justice via the bell, sort of. It will only take you three minutes to read.

I found much to like about this puzzle. For example, I spent a chunk of my teens memorizing Shakespearean monologues, and SANS opened up the mid-Atlantic for me (thanks for the reminder, @The Bard). Unfortunately, the nature of Sundays made it a slog for me overall, but that's not Mr. Arbesfeld's fault.

Happy Annular Eclipse, everyone!

Phil Cheesesteak 1:02 PM  

This was decent enough for a Sunday. Surprised to not hear any feedback regarding the double 'kid'. As in: Whiz Kid and Bill the Kid. Thought that was a no no.

Charlene 1:05 PM  

"Scarlet" refers to lipstick. I love how everyone seemed to assume that drag = clothing.

Rookie 1:31 PM  

@ JaxInLA - Thanks for the link to the poem. I've never read it before and enjoyed it.

Hand up for GOSSIP for SKINNY.

Did no one else think that "ARE YOU KIDDING ME had to be, but couldn't be, NO SH*T?

Is it true that El AL does not fly on Saturday? I guessed it correctly but did not know it previously. That's neat. It must be very hard to plan those schedules.

JenCT 1:38 PM  

DNF for me; started feeling like too much of a chore - like @quilter, had planting to finish!

Keeping in mind what @Anon 11:32 said, things I did like about this puzzle: WHIZ KID, GO POSTAL (plunked that right in but then doubted it as I thought it might be un-PC), DOG NAP.

Didn't know CLOTURE (sounds like a blood clot to me), HETH, FABULIST.

Beautiful day here in CT.

lymank 2:25 PM  

Enjoyed today's puzzle, but really wanted 38D to be closure, causing big problems for 56A (nus??). Finally had to google Cloture to confirm it was a real word. Debate was not one of my extra-curricular activities in high school or college...

600 2:27 PM  

FWIW: I meant "different kind of bar, the one with lawyers" not "different kind of court, the one with judges." That makes no sense. No sense at all.

lawprof 3:18 PM  

Enjoyable puzzle that took up just the right amount of time on a Sunday morning. Somewhat disappointing that the theme ignored today's solar eclipse because I happen to live smack dab in the middle of its path. Can't wait to get out with my grandkids, telescope (properly filtered) and eclipse sunglasses between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Should be quite a show.

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

Heth = "h" in Hebrew (although I thought Hanukkah would have had a chai instead)

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

To Anon @ 11:32 et alia (and so on, for Martin) -- I go to Wordplay for positive comments and come here for the negative and the infighting. I love it when Rex goes after someone or ED attacks someone unmercifully. But then I am a very sick person....

JFC

Sparky 4:21 PM  

Got the trick with STUDINSCARLET. Thought of being dressed as Scarlett O'Hara but left it in. Liked BRANDALEXANDER and THESOUNDANDTHEFUR.

Like @SueMcC had prof for 1A first. Also acmefor a while. One shout out in, one shout out out.

Thanks @TheBard for the lines. I thought the H stood for Chai. LAIC shows up fairly often.

Little empty spot in center: VE-, DER---, ---LTHEKID. So I quit. Lately I seem to fill in more in the SE and work my way up.

This Snowbird is getting ready to fly north.

Sparky 4:26 PM  

That's acme (space) for. Can't do a neat job of proofreading with this format.

syndy 4:39 PM  

I do believe Tim Curry wore a scarlet corset(among others) in Rocky Horror as well as lipstick.A light breezy sunday a few write-overs ( the malapop SUE and MORALIST it may have been more tepid than allout but it didn't suck

syndy 4:41 PM  

Were robot posters a problem? Really?shoot me! well at least it killed the captha jokes

Fitzy 5:41 PM  

Hey, Munich Oktoberfest is really held at the end of September as I discovered much to my chagrin when I arrived in Munchen in October 1991. Apparently it officially ends on Oct 1 or 2, so I guess the clue is technically correct.

Anonymous 5:42 PM  

I feel sorry for anyone who has the unfortunate luck of following Patrick Berry in the
Times lineup.

The difference in PB's ability and the other puzzlers brings Secretariat
to mind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V18ui3Rtjz4

Scott 6:05 PM  

I didn't even come close to finishing, with stuff like OEUF (what the hell???).

paulsfo 6:39 PM  

Apparently no one else had a problem with the clue for DPS. I thought that "Twin killings on a diamond" must be DPS. However, I've never heard of an out referred to as a "killing" and a bit of googling didn't find that usage, either.
Is this a common (or even uncommon) baseball term? I thought this was a bad clue.

Tita 7:13 PM  

@paulsfo...I noticed the same thing. Never ever heard a double play called a twin killing, or an out called a killing, for that matter.

@EmilyPostInstitute - does the 3-post limit apply to post made in answer to another post?

Anonymous 7:37 PM  

It was readily understandable to me. cousin see how it might be disfavored these days.

Anonymous 7:54 PM  

@Scott
OEUF -French for egg. Omelette French for omelet.

@ paulsfo
A twin killing is baseball lingo for a double play. Some other strange ones are Uncle Charlie and yakker, slang for a curve ball.

http://www.chacha.com/question/what-is-a-twin-killing-in-baseball

mac 8:19 PM  

For someone who doesn't really like those big Sunday puzzles, this was a fun one.

@Bard: thank you so much, as usual! I always know I can count on you to give me the background.

I asked my husband if he had ever heard of a Hall of Fame pitcher called Joss Addie. No clue, and it made him feel bad.

Putting in Go postal without a cross sort of made me feel bad, too.

Love dog nap and love The Sound and the Fur more! Had detail for dermal for a bit.

Nice Sunday.

Anonymous 8:35 PM  

Never saw the 8th Hebrew letter spelled heth. It makes that guttural sound like to life to life l'chaim. I guess there are many ways to spell a letter. It's pronouced Chet with the ch as in ich.

Z 8:43 PM  

Did this early. TOG, ODO, LOP did me in. Did the Newsday puzzle this evening. Arbesfeld's is much better.

captcha - isposedo alockt - Jeweler's job?

Anonymous 10:20 PM  

I call bullshit on this puzzle. Crappy clues, insufferable answers.

JoshS 10:21 PM  

This was the worst puzzle, let alone Sunday Puzzle, that I have done in a long time. I do Sundays in 15 - 20 min., and I slogged through 35 min. of this just to be able to say to myself that I finished it. Utterly lame.

andre carl michael 10:57 PM  

Oh! I'm sorry I missed an Alan Arbesfeld puzzle! I came to print out Monday's and accidentally saw the theme.
I always love him...I think he's the king of adding or subtracting just one letter and finding funny answers!
THESOUNDANDTHEFUR and THETREATOFVERSAILLES is just the kind of simple observation, dropping the Y, and making something new and clever. Love him!!!
Hard(er) to make things ZING when you drop a letter rather than add a fun one, so many props to this!!!

Dirigonzo 2:17 PM  

It's a FABULous day here in northeast syndiland, so I took the puzzle out on the pool deck (pool's still covered, though) and took my time with it - I even added some marginalia (which is a word I learned here recently).

I was all the way down to the SE corner when I had enough crosses to see THESOUNDANDTHEFUR and got the "missing y" theme, so I went back up through and filled inseveral other theme answers with no more crosses needed. A few eluded me for a while longer. Nice to se a sout-out to my son ALEXANDER at 97a.

TAMOSHANTER has a local connection for me, as reported in this recent piece about the local Historical Society: "Launched in 1875, the Tam O'Shanter was a wooden cargo ship built at the Soule Brothers Shipyard along Harraseeket River in South Freeport. It was named after a Robert Burns poem and sailed to ports all over the world." There's a lobster boat in the harbor that bears the same name.

66a refers to German steins, but the answer is OKTOBER - what in the clue signalled the German spelling. Shouldn't it have been Deutsch steins, or some such thing?

111d Growl + GNAR - I just learned that word here a few days ago!

And my last nit: 115d EFOR effort is just wrong where I come from. If you do poorly on something but try real hard in failing, a generous mentor will give you an "A" for effort to acknowledge your hard work.

Happy Memorial Day weekend US syndilanders - please take time out to remember and honor those who gave their all in military service to their country.

Now back to the pool!

Spacecraft 3:57 PM  

Why did I know @the bard would be the first on today? And he--I'm sure--noted that THESOUNDANDTHEFUR is taken from old Will as well.

I can't call this easy; the title "Wisecracks" doesn't exactly lead right to the theme. I mean, what--did all the Y's fall into cracks and disappear? Late-week cluing made me search around for a toehold, which I found with OKTOBER/_______KID (inferred from "youngster" in the clue). I also had the L from ONEBALL (go ahead, accuse me of a misspent youth in pool halls--it's true). Soon BILLTHEKID occurred, and the theme was in. But even then, there REALLY weren't a lot of gimmes around. This took me all morning, on and off. No, not easy. TRUSTME.

One nit: GAEA. Since the original and preferred spelling, I thought, was "GAIA," shouldn't the clue have included "(var.)"?

Anonymous 10:32 PM  

I pretty much cruised through this but came to a screeching halt with four squares to go (in six words).

DEL_N
V_E
_T_F

I reasoned that 95a must be some foreign word for egg, so probably an O at the start, and VUE sounded like a good name for an SUV. And I half-remembered seeing OEUF before so why not.

ding-ding! Got those two letters right.


DA_RON
OR_E
_ _ OTURE

No clue here, Wanted to make 46a ORnE, but I half-remembered being burned by that guess before. Finally I plugged inn eLOTURE at 38d. No idea why; none of the crosses made sense to me.

The L being correct I was able to finish with a nearly perfect grid.

Mr. Conway Twitty is always a nice distraction.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

I almost had Al Bundy hosting The View (eD O'NeiLL). That's a show I would have watched.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

I often wonder if puzzle constructors save up prurient phrases and try to figure out how to sneak them into the grid. Hence, 127A: EATME.

Along those lines, was anyone else's first thought to the 7 letter answer to 38D: "Debate ender" F***YOU?

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