Wednesday, 7/4/12

NYT 3:18 
LAT 7:11 (Gareth) 
CS 4:31 (Sam) 
Onion untimed 

Caleb Madison’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 7 4 12 0704

Hey! Look at that. A Fourth of July puzzle that has no exploding gunpowder, no Revolutionary War, no Founding Fathers, no barbecues. Just PIXAR, which is perfectly American—you read the crew credits in any Pixar movie, and you see a lovely melting pot of names. This theme was a breeze for me before I encountered the revealer in the middle of the puzzle. RATATOUILLE with the year 2007…hmm, is the theme Best Animated Feature winners? Nope, just non-sequel Pixar flicks. Finding the other Pixar titles throughout the puzzle was easy with a crossing or three. TOY STORY, 1995. A BUG’S LIFE, 1998. (Saw both with my husband pre-parenthood.) MONSTERS, INC., 2001; saw it with friends while leaving the baby home, wore out multiple copies of the DVD later. FINDING NEMO, 2003. The INCREDIBLES, 2004. CARS, 2006. WALL-E, 2008. Took the kid to those four. UP (in the circled corner letters), 2009. Watched via on-demand. Haven’t seen BRAVE, 2012, yet. The characters in all these movies are TOONs, for the sake of having CARS symmetry.

Nice theme from movie junkie Caleb. Other good stuff: GAY BAR is great fill and I like the clue, [Place where opposites don’t attract?]. When I see NWA ([“Straight Outta Compton” rap group]) on the side of an airplane or on a Northwest Airlines advertisement, I laugh. I like POP TOP and the retro journalism lingo LEGMEN. (Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass always has a legman gathering info for him, and sometimes his legman is a pregnant woman.) The SIPPY cup and parental ME TIME are nice too.

The advantage of having a dozen theme answers that were gimmes for me is that I didn’t have to look at all of the fill while solving. IRR TYE IGET LOA LEI non-Nofziger LYN ([1970s soul singer Collins], whom I’ve never heard of) UAR STABAT APIE ENROL MIO EXP? Ugh. My sympathies to you if you don’t know your Pixar oeuvre, as you had to muddle through this stuff.

3.33 stars.

Mike Pelusos Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review

LA Times crossword solution, 7 04 12

The world turns. Yesterday I was the constructor, today I’m the would-be blogger.

Today’s puzzle is by Mike Peluso, whose name is well-known to regular LA Times solvers. The theme is somewhat different to most, consisting of a number of short answers rather than the typical 4-6 long ones. The theme is revealed in the centre answer: 1967 war film, and an apt description for this puzzle’s starred answers. THEDIRTYDOZEN The starred answers can all fit the pattern “dirty answer “. These are:

  • 5a. [*Stand-up’s delivery], JOKE. Want to hear a dirty joke? Mud.
  • 12a. [**Bygone magazine known for its photography], LOOK. I’m not the only one who wanted Life before knowing what the theme was, right? I’ve actually never heard of this magazine. The internet is whispering in my ear that this was the main rival to Life magazine, and stopped publication in 1972.
  • 14a. [*2012 presidential campaign issue], JOBS. Steve Jobs’ legacy will be hotly debated in this year’s Greek election. An example of a dirty job would be slurry diving.
  • 17a. [*Office betting group], POOL. I didn’t know what “dirty pool” was, other than, well, a pool that was dirty; but the (M-W) dictionary says it’s an idiomatic phrase meaning “underhanded or unsportsmanlike conduct”.
  • 61a. [*Failure], BOMB.. A dirty bomb is an explosive containing nuclear waste or something similar.
  • 65a. [*Pay attention to], MIND.
  • 67a. [*Function as promised], WORK.
  • 69a. [*Give everyone a hand], DEAL. As in shady characters doing dirty deals.
  • 1d. [*Hemingway title character], OLDMAN. The only three-word phrase
  • 19d. [*Most famous Hogwarts pupil], HARRY.
  • 42d. [*Documents often stored in a safe], DEEDS. They’re done “dirt cheap” in the AC/DC song, of course
  • 50d. [*Bamboozles], TRICKS.

Whew! That was a lot of theme answers, no!? 52 Squares, plus 12 in the reveal for a grand total of 65. The fact that these are spread among so many answers means that they are spread into every nook and cranny. A trio of squares that don’t increase the word count of the puzzle in the top-right and bottom-left are unusual, and facilitate the particular arrangement of theme squares chosen by Mr. Peluso. There were quite a few colour phrases as well as different shades of meaning of the word “dirty” in the various phrases. Obviously with 12 phrases it was impossible to use each meaning only once.

To accomodate so many answers, there have been compromises made. The only non-theme answers I was particularly fond of were TRANSAM and MAKEBA, though I do have a soft spot for COBOL too. I suspect that was a mystery answer for quite a few of you guys though! If I may, I’d like to point to (I hope I don’t get into trouble for pointing these out) a string of Roman numerals, DCCI; a weird partial, EAS; a use-as-many-letters-as-you-want-then answer in SSSS; and crossing that, two odd partials in AMINOS and PINERS. I guess all considered, everything isn’t too out of hand.

I guess we should end on a happy note, so I’ll leave you with: this. I’m sure you can guess who the singer will be…

Updated Wednesday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Industries of Today” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, July 4

Today, of course, is the Fourth of July. So the “Industries of Today” from the puzzle’s title are the names of four American patriots whose names have been borrowed for commercial purposes:

  • 17-Across: PAUL REVERE is both the galloping messenger and a [Music industry name, as frontman for the Raiders]. Paul Revere and the Raiders was a famous group in its day.
  • 55-Across: ETHAN ALLEN was a patriot known for his role in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. But its’ also a [Furniture industry name, with a chain of stores across North America]. I’ve purchased furniture at Ethan Allen. Let’s just say I have expensive tastes.
  • 10-Down: JOHN HANCOCK was known for his large signature. It’s also an [Insurance industry name, with headquarters in a Boston tower].
  • 24-Down: SAMUEL ADAMS is the patriot blessed with a distinguished given name. But you may know it better as a [Brewing industry name, as a craft beer brand since 1984.

This is a neat holiday theme. It’s not necessarily the tightest theme ever (three of the four names are those of retail businesses, one is a performer’s stage name), but you couldn’t make a puzzle out of just the three businesses because the odd one out has an even number of letters. So Donna had a choice: scrap the theme or (Valley) forge ahead with the modest inconsistency. I think she chose well.

I like that the grid has both READ ‘EM, the [Start of a taunt to one with a losing poker hand], and WEPT, the past tense of taunt’s remainder. I wasn’t a fan of -IZE, the [Real ending?], but maybe that’s because I considered a few other answers first (like IST, ISM, and ITY). I didn’t know that [One of two Doberman Pinschers on “Magnum, P.I.”] was named ZEUS, but I liked the clue.

Favorite entry = ONE-LINER, the [Henny Youngman specialty]. Favorite clue = [Rule broken by Heidi?] for the spelling rule, I BEFORE E. I spent time regretting that the only thing I know about Heidi is that it gave its name to a famous professional football game. I’ll let Wikipedia tell the story: “The Heidi Game … was an American football game played on November 17, 1968. The home team, the Oakland Raiders, defeated the New York Jets, 43–32. The game is remembered for its exciting finish, as Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to overcome a 32–29 New York lead. The Heidi Game obtained its name because the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) controversially broke away from the game with the Jets still winning to air the television film Heidi at 7 p.m. in the Eastern Time Zone.”

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword answers, 7 4 12 Quigley

I really enjoyed this theme. Take a phrase that includes two letters that are pronounced individually as letters, and add two more letters to get a legitimate and more entertaining four-letter chunk:

  • 18a. [BA in evangelism?] might be a WWJD DEGREE. A J.D. degree is a law doctorate, WWJD = “What would Jesus do?” (Not to be confused with WWXWJD, which is “What would a crossword Jesus do?” Always wise counsel.)
  • 23a. [Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo’s OS?] turns snoozy Windows NT into WINDOWS TMNT, incorporating the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • 35a. [Doctor who doesn’t provide a keg for Pap smear visits?], BYOB/GYN. Bring your own bottle—of lube for the speculum. Actually, Brendan has hit on a good concept here. Imagine, ladies, if you were served a martini or a glass of wine in the waiting room before an exam and Pap. Wouldn’t it be a more pleasant experience?
  • 38a. [Screens that switch rapidly between shows?], ADHD TVS. ADHD meets high-definition television.
  • 49a. [Literature about Randall Munroe’s stick figure drawings?], BOOKS ON XKCD. If you don’t know of the XKCD webcomic, do not be daunted by the term “webcomic.” It’s just smart one-off cartoons, not a serial about characters you don’t know. Munroe’s tagline is “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” Mostly the cartoons are wry, often they’re geeky, and sometimes they’re moving.
  • 54a. [People who do stand-up about an aging Australian rock band?], AC/DC COMICS. Comedy stylings about “Dirty deeds in a dundle jeep.” (That one is my 7th-grade friend’s mom’s mondegreen.)

Heeey, I don’t remember 11d in the PuzzleSocial version of this puzzle. That’s because Brendan and/or editor Ben Tausig tweaked that BIRDSHIT (11d. [White stuff that falls from the sky]) into BIRDSHOT for the family-friendly Facebook version. Along with this 11d, other fresh fill and clues include iCARLY, RIPS clued with reference to intestinal gas release, DAPHNE with a Scooby-Doo clue, and a trivia clue for DR. J (7d. [#16 on Bill Simmons’s greatest NBA players list, for short]). I relished the six-piece theme enough that I wasn’t overly distracted by the more blah filler, like BTEN, DRY AS, and suffix ESE and its directional opposite WNW.

Let’s call it … four stars.

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40 Responses to Wednesday, 7/4/12

  1. John E says:

    Ok, overall I liked this puzzle a lot – fun theme with a lot of great cluing. And two sets of stacked theme answers was impressive.

    I could have done without the NWA cluing – I know it’s the group’s name and it’s pop culture, but I still find the acronym degrading. To Amy’s point, the clue could have easily been “UAL competitor”.

  2. Huda says:

    NYTimes- I’m one of those who don’t know their PIXAR oeuvre, but was surprised how many of these movies were familiar to me, at least by reputation. Nicely done!

    The density of the theme is impressive in terms of number of entries. But since many were short, it left room for other cool stuff and fun cluing. GAY BAR and POP TOP somehow go together. POP TOP to me is a VW bus, also a symbol of social freedom from the good ole 70’s. Happy Independence Day!

  3. 85 theme squares symmetrically executed, every Pixar movie (non sequels), inventive way to get UP into it, great support fill. Really a puzzle for the ages. What’s the purpose of the “IRR TYE IGET LOA LEI, LYN, UAR STABAT APIE ENROL MIO EXP” litany? Ugh, indeed.

  4. Jared says:

    The purpose is to provide ballast for the worthy rest of it. The theme was fun and there were lots of fun/clever/playful clues – you can’t spite a LYN or a EXP in getting there.

  5. cyberdiva says:

    My response to the “IRR TYE IGET LOA LEI, LYN, UAR STABAT APIE ENROL MIO EXP” litany was not Lee Glickstein’s “Ugh, indeed,” but rather “Thank goodness!” Some of us (well, at least one of us :-) ) don’t know most of the Pixar oeuvre well enough to fill in the many titles without lots of help.

  6. evil says:

    Agree on the NWA rap name—literally unspeakable when decoded. But I doubt you’re still seeing Northwest Airlines airplanes or ads with the NWA logo, since they’ve been part of Delta for a couple of years now.

    Favorite gay bar name: “Peni’s”, with a very small apostrophe.

  7. Angela Osborne says:

    I cheated. As soon as I got “Pixar” I knew the answers were animated films – so when I had a few letters in each answer I asked my 10 and 12 year old grandkids and got the answers.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Personal taste only, but it would be hard to imagine a more boring theme, and a more tedious puzzle than the NYT. Just out of curiosity has anyone ever actually encountered the word “chalcedony” in any context other than a crossword? (“Simoleon” is another such word.)

  9. Jeffrey says:

    Welcome to the elite club of Wednesday LAT bloggers, Gareth!

    LAT & NYT – Is this jam-the-most-theme-entries-you-can day?

    I find Born on the 4th of July lists more boring than Pixar film lists.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Angela: Nice work! You might even be luring those kids into thinking crosswords are fun.

    @evil: I did see an “nwa” billboard several years back, though I can’t find any such thing on a Google image search. It just boggled my mind that the airline, after all those years of proudly being “Northwest,” would try to go the TLA (three-letter abbreviation) route when rap had already defined those letters for many of us.

  11. ArtLvr says:

    Gareth, I enjoyed your puzzle yesterday! LOOK and TIME magazines were sister publications, not rivals – both part of Henry Luce’s empire. LOOK featured more photo-journalism, such as a spread of the first cohort of high-profile Peace Corps volunteers in Africa: two of that first group included Sam Bowles, son of Sen. Bowles of Connecticut, and Tom Watson, son of then IBM chairman. I’d saved a copy of that issue because of the friends portrayed there, but lost it in a move or a basement flood…

  12. Gareth says:

    Re the NYT, the write-up of which I was trying to avoid seeing while solving the LAT, I want to know: how is it possible to include a number of punchy answers like METIME, MRCOOL, POPTOP and GAYBAR, and still have room for 80+ letters of theme answers? How? Yes there are a few fusty short answers, but all regular crossword-ese, not even contrived answers! It’s witchcraft I tell you! @Bruce: I collected something called “Treasures of the Earth” as a kid, you got encyclopaedia-style entries on several gemstones and minerals and a tiny sample of one of those… I got a tiny chalcedony at one point!

  13. Martin says:


    Chalcedony is a thing. Amateur geolgists and gemologists can’t go very long before uttering it. Agate, onyx, carnelian and bloodstone are names we give chalcedony that has certain color and pattern attributes.

  14. pannonica says:

    Just want to point out that Lee Glickstein‘s comment was questioning the purpose of Amy’s “litany” in her write-up, not those entries’ presence in the puzzle.

  15. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I guess I’m not much of a gemologist. (Had to correct “femologist” which is a different matter entirely.) :-)

    Incidentally, I did think the puzzle was well constructed.

  16. Marion says:

    Fantastic puzzle. Even though I’ve only watched Ratatouille, the other ones were so well advertised that they resided somewhere in my memory. That is some clue for
    “stabat/stab at”!, and stings so close to Irwin is a little eerie.

    @Gareth: great puzzle yesterday!

    Chalcedony is a very nice semi-precious stone, I work with it a lot.

  17. evil says:

    Quite so, Amy. While the standard three-letter ‘NWA’ airline code had been around forever, it wasn’t until 2003 that it showed up prominently on its aircraft and advertising. I’m guessing the company execs and brand advisers were not generally rap aficionados and so plunged innocently, mindlessly into that marketing quagmire….

    My alma mater—Drake University—recently attempted a marketing campaign emphasizing the capital D-for-Drake with a plus-sign to demonstrate its aggressive new forward-looking posture for recruiting students. Unfortunately it didn’t dawn on the administration that the academic connotation of “D+” probably wasn’t going to attract a lot of high school honor students. Alumni umbrage and media hilarity quickly got the campaign squelched.

  18. janie says:

    “revere ware” cooking utensils took their name from paul (the company he founded waaaaay back in the day still exists, but am not sure that doesn’t really change the “theme tightness” question (since none of the other three were the founders of the companies that bear their names…..). more to the point, though, and as you point out, this does make for a peppy “holiday” grouping!

    always love seeing ARCANE — and MASALA gives it some more added spice —


  19. Thanks for clarifying that, Pannonica. I put myself in the mind of the constructor who spent hours and hours honing a masterpiece of play (with a small chance of ever seeing a dime for the efforts). I imagine some of those hours were spent doing everything possible to minimize less-than-stellar fill, which I think he did a great job with, and there is no way of knowing if anyone could have done better with the demanding parameters of the theme. Then the constructor comes here and sees the “ugh” response to every fill that displeased the reviewer. That can’t feel good, and it is mean to hold constructors to an unreasonably random standard.

  20. Daniel Myers says:

    Make that two, cyberdiva, the fill – though beauteous it is not – was a prerequisite to my successful completion of the NYT.


    Another example of chalcedony, in a spot of poetry

  21. Huda says:

    Lee GLickstein, re the issue of critiques and standards. I’m with you that we sometimes forget the feelings of the constructors –bloggers and commenters can sometimes be pretty hard on them, including when they’ve achieved amazing feats of creativity. But, as you point out, said constructors know that they’ve had to compromise and settle for some ugly stuff in the process, and reflecting on both the great and the not so pretty is part of giving them accurate and believable feedback.
    Of course, much depends on the way it’s done. I find Amy’s style to be generally gentle and not overly judgmental (why doesn’t this word have an e after the g?). I took her “ugh” at face value, being aimed at these specific entries, especially given her overall positive tone. There has to be room for unqualified praise for the really amazing puzzles with beautiful answers and little crosswordese. Her comment actually made me look at the extreme NE and SW and wonder whether there was any way to rework them and not touch the long theme answers. May be not, knowing Caleb’s talent, but all part of the analytical process.

  22. Lou says:
    NORTHWEST AIRLINES: A weaker logo for a stronger brand?

    The old Northwest Airlines logo may look like a simple logo but if you take a closer look the symbol on the left actually represent both N and W and because it is enclosed within the circle it also represents a compass pointing northwest.

  23. Huda, thanks for the reasoned response. I don’t find any of those fills ugly or ugh-worthy (except perhaps STABAT on the face of it). At worst I see them as neutral fill. What is ugly about LEI or TYE, for instance? How would legitimate abbreviations like EXP and IRR, or sprightly partials like IGET and APIE offend someone’s sense of aesthetics when there is a strong possibility that without them a superior theme would never have seen the light of day? Perhaps if someone can give an example of how even one of them could be eliminated there might be a conversation. Otherwise, this hits me as the most petty brand of nitpicking.

  24. pannonica says:

    The old logo for Northwest Airlines was much more interesting. nb:The correction submitted by Monib on the Identityworks page is slightly flawed; instead of narrowing the triangle equally to preserve the NW orientation (now there’s a slight conflict in terms!), it was only the lower section that was shaved, resulting in it pointing closer to WNW.

    The new logo is a result of the surge in popularity of lowercase letterforms in design. Not to disparage the trend—which is quite often effective—if it’s implemented without intelligence, the results can be staggeringly unuseful. Abstractio ad absurdum?

  25. Daniel Myers says:


    I have always spelt JUDGEMENT with an e after the g. In fact, I can poignantly remember being “corrected” on my orthography after moving to the states. Here’s further discussion on the topic.

  26. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Well, Lee, you’ve identified my problem exactly. I live for petty nitpicking. And yet you have no criticism for the people who don’t even like the theme. I liked the theme! But you’re not giving me any credit for that. You’re focusing only on the mild pointing out of the blah filler (which more than one commenter has agreed they had to grapple with, since they didn’t know all the theme answers). Also, my use of “ugh” was a damn joke. Michael Sharp is on vacation from his Rex Parker blog for three weeks. Michael uses “ugh” a lot. I am keeping the world’s “ugh” levels in balance. I like Caleb and his energy, creativity, and impressive construction skills. I’m pretty sure Caleb isn’t crying into his corn flakes because I dared to mention the stuff he probably knows are not, in and of themselves, assets to any puzzle.

    TYE is nauticalese and unlikely to be in most people’s vocabulary. Some constructors have a strong disdain for partials and will almost never use them. I don’t object that strongly, but it’s not as if partials enhance a puzzle. Really, now.

    Lee, you are tempting me into writing my upcoming posts with the ACTUAL “most petty brand of nitpicking.” This is nothing.

  27. GoOutAndPlay says:

    Re: LAT. Liked the mirror symmetry of the theme answers. Dirty Jobs is also a tv show with Mike Rowe performing many not-so-pleasant jobs. Uncertain about se corner primarily due to not knowing Orsini and inapt not in my vernacular. Got a few chuckles trying dirty out on the rest of the grid.

  28. placematfan says:

    Thank you, Caleb, for what I, too, thought was a masterful job. Goodness, 85 is a lot of theme squares. Ditto what Gareth said @ 10:10, and others. I’d wager there were 20 drafts before the final product, and many moments of “This just can’t be done.” Whether that’s true or not, I do appreciate what looks very obviously to be a labor of love.

    It is a joy to see that the goldmine discovery that Pixar’s library has the necessary symmetry and minimal length to fit into a 15×15 grid was handled so flawlessly. Save for a perfect themeless, any crossword is going to speak at least a little crosswordese; here, I don’t consider IRR and UAR and kin to be any more flaws than would be birth marks on the body of a Venus or Adonis.

    Brilliance of grid construction aside, it’s nice to see a crossword based on Pixar. I’m proud for Pixar. I mean, how cool is it to be able to walk around and say that you are the theme of a puzzle? It’s maybe only slightly less cool than, say, Gary Larson’s being able to walk around and say that scientists in unprompted homage named multiple species of bugs after him. So go ahead and strut, Pixar.

    Pixar is/was an integral part of the Americana machine, as it vanguarded the maturation of American animated cinema from the Disney-chirping, afraid-to-leave-the-nest adolescent that it remained for the majority of the latter half of the twentieth century into a genre with wings and purpose and identity. But I’m biased because WALL-E is on my Top Ten Greatest Movies Ever list. [And I’m aware of the irony that Disney bought Pixar eventually, but what didn’t Disney buy? Or try to? If you can’t beat ’em, own ’em.]

    Welcome to the database, GAYBAR.

    Who started the anti-Straightforward Theme movement? What’s so horrible about list themes? Why do we treat them like the poor geeky child who’s always picked last? First of all, they balance out the gimmickry and addition-, subtraction-, and replacement-based themes that pervade most of the week. Secondly, I don’t mind at all doing a puzzle with a simple theme like just a film star’s name in the middle, and three or four or five movie-title theme entries, especially for Mondays and Tuesdays. Caleb’s puzzle is exceptional, and it is unreasonable to expect this caliber of puzzle too often; and Will probably would not have published a puzzle as simple as having only PIXAR as the unifier and four or five movie titles, due to the present zeitgeist definition of Sparkle; but personally I wouldn’t mind seeing more early-week straightforward themes. Because, lastly, they can and do make good puzzles, too, imho. When I was a walking hormone of a teenager, I couldn’t sit through a film like The Godfather or WALL-E without becoming disinterested in the lack of flashy gore, coarse language, nudity, etc.; and when I hear the ever-so-common sentiment of “This is boring” in response to a puzzle, particularly, but not limited to, one of this stature, it’s often resonant for me of a kid in a crowded theater yelling at the screen, “Take off your top!”

  29. Martin says:

    I also don’t mind a lot of the fill that Amy and Rex are allergic too. (BTW, STABAT [Lee’s unfavorite] was one of my favorite entries. There are so many wonderful versions of Stabat Mater in the repetory and the entry evokes them all.)

    Sure, a challenging grid is going to have a bit of noise. For some reason, I don’t notice it. It seems very natural for a solver — or reviewer — to have a problem with a theme or with theme entries. Crummy three-letter fill, shrug.

    I recognize that a lot of solvers are allergic to any fill lacking sparkle. To that extent, I understand that Amy and Rex have an audience that appreciates that aspect of the review. It is also my belief that the portion of the audience that is mightily peeved by UAR or MIO has grown in the blog era. That’s just my opinion, based on not recalling daily traffic on the topic in first generation of crossword fora.

    I’m not saying that’s bad, only that the many dimensions of crossword construction are vulnerable to fashion like everything else.

  30. John Haber says:

    Thanks to Amy for noting this might be a slog for some. It was for me, who felt way too old for it. I recognized most, although not “A Bug’s Life,” “Incredibles,” or “Up,” and some (especially “Cars”) took me several crossing before they rang a bell.

    Given that, I’d sure have preferred that the rest not be as pop culture oriented (NWA, LYN, ESPN, Steve, Daytime EMMY) or parent oriented. Thus, SIPPY cup and ME TIME weren’t really in my vocabulary. Have to admit TYE was obscure to me, too. (And does anyone use “Benjamins” outside of crosswords?)

    So I felt lucky to finish, a rare things for a Wednesday (but bet I won’t be solving Wednesday puzzles for a long time to come, with the change in policy). Still, while I didn’t enjoy it one bit, I admire a fill this hard to achieve, and I realize that most solvers have kids.

  31. Daniel Myers says:

    Loved STABAT too, Martin! My choirboy days are long since, but I remember both hymns by that title (the Dolorosa and the Speciosa) oh so well!

  32. Gareth says:

    @John H: “And does anyone use ‘Benjamins’ outside of crosswords?” This is a partial answer: I suspect the music is not quite to your taste though.

  33. pannonica says:

    Further to Gareth’s link to the 1997 record:

    All About the Benjamins (2002 film)

    • CSI: Miami
    Episode: Blood Brothers (2003)
    “No ID, but a handful of Benjamins in her pockets.”

    • 8 Mile (2002 film)
    “Dawg. We sign us a deal you can take the [mommyviking] benefits, we’re talking Bentleys and Benjamins not Blue Cross and Blue Shield.”

    • George of the Jungle 2 (2003 video)
    “George here to help. Tookie say Ape in trouble. Broke. Busted. No Benjamins.”

    The internet is a wonderful, horrible thing.

    Another hand up for enjoying various compositions of “Stabat Mater.” It also can be clued with reference to Moby-Dick and, by descent, “Star Trek II.”

  34. Bruce N. Morton says:

    E.g. Rossini’s Stabat Mater is an extraordinary piece, starting, as it does on a tritone (G to C#), resolving upward. Scintillating. It will astound anyone who is familiar only with his operas and operatic overtures (which are quite wonderful in their own, very different way.) But this is the piece which most strongly cements his claim to being a “great” composer.

  35. Bruce N. Morton says:

    *Fantastic* Fireball by Peter Collins. Totally clever and imaginative, and greatly satisfying to figure out. I won’t spoil, but highest recommendation. Easy 5 stars (though I’m not sure I get 62a.

  36. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Martin: I think it’s that so many amazing constructors have appeared on the scene with high standards for fill, packing themelesses with entertaining and surprising answers. There also continues to be a move further and further away from old-school crosswordese. I don’t enjoy many 10-year-old puzzles because standards for fill have risen so much now–and when I’m doing a new puzzle and see lots of abbreviations, partials, and words that I learned from crosswords, it detracts from my enjoyment. Apparently others don’t mind that sort of fill–but some of us do.

    @pannonica: Why do you think we named our son Benjamin? It is all about the Benjamins. Tookie knows.

  37. Huda says:

    @Daniel Myers, thanks for the link to the discussion about judg(e)ment! Now I understand why I always want to write it with an e. I learned English from an Irish nun!

    And the spelt vs. spelled is duly noted…

  38. pannonica says:

    >gasp!< Didn’t read the cut-and-pasted quotes closely. Have made them palatable for a family blog.

  39. Daniel Myers says:


    You’re quite welcome! Yes, it especially makes sense phonetically when speaking with an Irish or Scottish accent because the “u” is long. No particular reason with an English accent though, aside from some dialects. That was simply the way we all learned to spell it in the UK. As for your duly noted imperfect tense of “spell”, “have spelled” sounds so unwieldy to my transatlantic ear!


    That was a bit of a stunner, though I thought you covered yourself quite well with the “horrible thing” disclaimer. But – LOL – love “mommyviking” or, as I would have spelt it, “mummyviking”.

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