1996 Foo Fighters hit / TUE 5-2-17 / Capital city with only about 1000 residents / Geraint's wife in Arthurian legend / Noted colonial silversmith

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Challenging (4 flat)


THEME: BEST MUSICAL (66A: Award won by the starts of 17-, 25-, 39- and 52-Across and 11- and 29-Down) — just what it says...

Theme answers:
  • ANNIE OAKLEY (17A: Markswoman dubbed "Little Sure Shot" [1977])
  • NINE BALL (25A: Variety of pool [1982])
  • HAMILTON, BERMUDA (39A: Capital city with only about 1,000 residents [2016])
  • RENT ROLL (52A: Landlord's register [1996])
  • ONCE AROUND (11D: 400 meters, for an Olympic track [2012])
  • COMPANY MAN (29D: Superloyal employee [1971]) 
Word of the Day: LAP ROBES (40D: Blankets for open-air travelers) —
n.
A blanket or fur piece for covering the lap, legs, and feet, as of a passenger in an unheated car or carriage. (thefreedictionary.com)
• • •

Oof. Slow. Also, I care zero about musicals, but luckily that really had nothing to do with the solve. I got to the revealer at the end and then noticed the theme retrospectively. Since "Tonys" wasn't even mentioned in the clue for BEST MUSICAL, I didn't even consider MUSICAL at first, thinking more of Oscar categories. Honestly, I've never even heard of the musical "Once." But as I say, knowing musicals isn't really important. Maybe it would be if you were somehow stuck in an area that had a musical in it; maybe the theme would help you figure it out. But that wasn't the case for me. It wasn't the musicalness that tripped me up, but the strange answers (like LAP ROBES (???)) and strange clues like 36D: Caste member (ANT). [Colony member], sure, but "Caste"? Yeesh. Also, the bracketed years following the theme clues were really confusing. I kept thinking they'd help and they didn't. In the end, this is just a "first words" puzzle with a boring revealer. Impressive to get the themers to intersect like that, but only technically impressive. Solving pleasure only so-so. Also, I think this shoulda been a Wednesday, but that's neither here nor there, quality-wise.


There's way too much crosswordese here, with OLAN (oy) being the worst but by no means the only oldster in the grid. SMEW! How you been, SMEW? Sorry I thought you were SMEE at first; you guys look a lot alike. NAH is a terrible answer type—it's overcommon junk *and* it's one of that horrible genre of "ugh it could be multiple things don't make me guess why are you making me guess!?" That is, it coulda been NAW. Probably my favorite moment of the solve was writing in WIEST, correcting it to CAINE, and then writing in WIEST for real later on. I just watched that move a month or so ago, and it holds up well. Not as well as "Annie Hall" or "Manhattan" (his best, no matter what he says), but very well.


Got nervous there for a heartbeat when I had no idea what was going on with 25A: Variety of pool [1982]—I thought it was a swimming pool, and wanted NINE-LANE (!?), and dear lord, a 1996 Foo Fighters hit? Not shooting to the forefront of my mind (though it's kinda playing in my head right now ... I think ... if I'm thinking of the right one). This is all to say that that "B" in "BIG ME" / NINE BALL was dicey. But I survived.

[Yep, it is the (pleasant) song I thought it was]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

97 comments:

Charles Flaster 11:22 PM  

Liked theme very much but like Rex I never heard of ONCE. ANNIE OAKLEY was a character in another Broadway musical, "ANNIE Get Your Gun" . This made it seem the theme was about characters, not shows.
HAMILTON gave me the theme.
Creative cluing for
BLOCKED
EGO
T BAR

CROSSWORDease-- OLAN and ENID.
Liked placement of OBOES above BEST MUSICAL.
Thanks DJK

Randy 11:42 PM  

Once had a very popular film adaptation and won a Best Original song Oscar about 10 years ago, I thought it was fairly well known.

Lots of weird words for a Tuesday, but it also had enough giveaway answers that the difficulty seemed pretty uneven. Still about average for a Tuesday for me, overall.

Moly Shu 12:00 AM  

Never seen a musical or a Woody Allen movie, so not sure which of the two stumped me more. I have seen the Foo Fighters many times, and that's one of my favorite songs of theirs, so BIG fat gimmie for ME. Too bad @Rex didn't post the Mentos spoof video that goes along with it.
Clue for OHM seemed saturdayish, but was balanced out by the clue for IDAHO. Liked this way more than yesterday's.
But it's you, I fell into.... I'll be humming this all night.

Gregory Nuttle 12:27 AM  

That RENTROLL/WIEST/LAPROBES area definitely played tough for me, but the rest was easy and pleasant enough. "Once", by the way, is a wonderful movie, but the musical is kind of DOA without Glen Hansard.

Robin 1:01 AM  

Clueing on this was a bit odd. Is the constructor new(ish) or known for this sort of thing? I had no real objections except that the clueing for OHM was, I thought, terrible.

Finished a bit faster than my average Tuesday time, so I can't really agree it should have been a Wednesday.

Theodore Stamos 1:06 AM  

The two Hannah and Her Sisters clues got my mind tracking on the Oscars, so I kept wanting the revealer to be BESTPICTURE or something along those lines. Btw - Hannah and her sisters is a GREAT movie if you haven't seen it.

Larry Gilstrap 1:15 AM  

According to that old calendar on the wall, today is Tuesday, so everybody hates the puzzle. I'm not going there. I was a theater snob, you know Shakespeare, etc. Musicals, not so much, and then I saw Kiss Me Kate, the gateway musical for me, and my horizons expanded. Sure, it's silly to have folks just break into song; ever hear of the willing suspension of disbelief? Try it! It's kinda yogic.

Speaking of the BOD OF AVON, spoiler alert! In Henry IV, Part I, Falstaff and Hostess Quickly engage in some bawdy repartee: "Why, she's neither fish NOR flesh; a man knows not where to have her." Close enough for Shakespeare immunity.

ANNIE OAKLEY was a real person and put on an amazing show from which the NRA could take a lesson. All about shooting, not so much about killing. When she got her gun, that resulted in a terrific musical, movie, and Broadway revival. Bernadette Peters, gulp!

Sure, some crosswordese pops up, like ACNE, but stay away from the french fries, apply Clearasil, and keep your hands off your face.

I think that Glen Hansard the writer of ONCE received an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Grammy for the soundtrack, and 11 Tony Awards for the theater adaptation. Not exactly under the radar.

Tita A 1:43 AM  

Didn't HAIR win Best Musical"? Google says nominated, not won, but later won for best musical revival. So extra points there, Mr. Kahn.

chefwen 2:22 AM  

Got the theme early on with ANNIE and HAMILTON and still ended up with a one letter DNF. Didn't know WIEST and for some reason GROW wasn't coming to me, so I was a W away from completion. Dang!

Another embarrassing goof 12D. I slapped down HOOhah before HOOPLA. According to Oprah, that has an entirely different meaning than HOOPLA. Color me red!

Loren Muse Smith 2:25 AM  

@Larry – good catch on the ANNIE OAKLEY and NRA pair.

@Tita – excellent catch on HAIR. (There was Hairspray, that did win…)

@Robin – I rather liked the clue for OHM.

Rex – I read and reread your "ugh it could be multiple things don't make me guess why are you making me guess!?" and was thinking, “Huh?” Don’t we want clues just like that? Then I realized it was in the spirit of NAH/naw, tsar/czar, aver/avow, lys/lis, kabab/kebab kinds of pairs.

So even though this lacks a lot of wordplay, it’s more than just a list of shows since the show’s name is the first word of another phrase and all the shows are just one word.

Liked the LOSER/BEST and BIG ME/EGO crosses.

On this latter, I recently met someone from ENID. Spent quite a bit of time with him. I heard all about his life, accomplishments, yada yada. Whenever I meet someone, and it’s apparent that it’s gonna be all me me me, I jump on board and dig my heels in, determined not to offer up much about myself. Boy, I’ll show him, buddy. Anyway, when it came out that he was originally from ENID, I said, “That’s Garfield County, right?” This brought him up short.

How did you know that?
It was a crossword clue once.
Oh – you do crosswords?
Yeah.
Interesting. I hear they help stave off Alzheimer’s. Now my aunt Mary who is 85 and lives in Albuquerque and is in a hot air balloon club - can you believe that - does a lot of Sudoku and she got me hooked and now I’m pretty good, even bought some books when I was traveling abroad in Europe and the Middle East last year - did I mention that? - I tell you, those pyramids are something….


That “padded” BRA was cross-referenced in my mind with the BIG ME/EGO cross. Falsie advertising.

Just got back from graduation weekend at Pitt. I tell you, they do it right there. Every ceremony we went to was well-run and enjoyable. My daughter is moving to Raleigh day after tomorrow, where my mother-in-law has already found a house that my daughter and son (already there) can rent and is looking into getting them a washer/dryer. They should write a book on starting out on your own after college. Chapter One – Move to the Same City as Your Grandmother.

jae 2:32 AM  

I finished this in average Tues. time but when I went back over my grid and actually read all the clues (it's good to check your grid) I found I'd penciled in some errors So, if you count the time it took me to erase and replace, this was probably medium-tough.

Also, aVe before IVY.

Fun Tues., liked it.

Annie Cobla Musicals 2:39 AM  

Break out of ACNE this past week... Or should I say "eruption"!

Very cool, VERY packed...

Play the song from ONCE and you will realize you know it!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzQ9VrnNQLQ

Would like to plug a friend's musical that I hope will join this list next year... my childhood pal Danny Rubin who wrote the film "Groundhog Day" has turned it into a musical with the incredible Tim Minchin and it's fabulous with a star-making turn for Andy Carl.

In the meantime, HAMILTON has opened in SF with the mindboggling ticket prices of $600-$1000+ (UGH) ever increasing the spotlight on this ONCE great city becoming glaringly Have and Have NOTS (Neighbors On The Streets).

I continue to enter the daily lottery and if I'm lucky enough to get one of the 44 seats they give away daily, I will take a fellow RENT-controlled tenant for COMPANY...someone else hanging on by our fingertips, the skin of our teeth, the HAIR on our heads.

Johnny 3:10 AM  


Wow this was tricky for a Tuesday. I had rewrites all over the place and otherwise stared at a lot of clues and blank squares in the grid.

I got the theme right away, but I had no idea about COMPANY, ONCE, and NINE. None whatsoever, and I am a pretty culturally aware guy; I've generally at least heard of all the famous shows (and I looked them up - they were all highly regarded and awarded) yet these didn't even ring a distant bell. I solved the grid but those shows were solved only through crosses, and even then they didn't look right.

Maryalice Viljoen 3:11 AM  

If I'm not mistaken, 2017 Tony Award nominations are being announced today - so I appreciate the timeliness of the theme.

jae 3:21 AM  

@lms - It's nice to know that I'm in good company. I was at a Christmas party at my daughter's house (she moved back in with us after college but now has her own place with a husband and two grandkids...it does get better) and she introduced me to one of her neighborhood friends who was a native of Finland. I said "Oh, aren't the Sami indigenous to Finland?" ...she had no idea what I was talking about. If you think that would deter me from tossing arcane crossword knowledge into everyday small talk you would be wrong.

John Child 3:52 AM  

@robin 1:01, This is Mr Kahn's 171st NYT puzzle. His first was in 1994. What you feel is odd cluing is just a tad old fashioned. Dig around in the NYT puzzle archives and you will see the changes over decades. IMO modern themed puzzles are better, and the use of arcane words is way down. I prefer the older themeless puzzles though - they are noticeably harder.

This was fine: pre-owned theme (as are most) well executed. A few cringes in the fill (I'm looking at you ENID NALDI), but challenging enough for a Tuesday to keep me interested.

andrea carla michaels 4:39 AM  

oops, make that Andy Karl with a K!
(If we got married, he could be Andrew Karl-Michaels.)
OK, I await the nominations!

Anonymous 6:08 AM  

Dammit. When is the NYT going to publish a puzzle featuring comic books and self-righteousness?

BarbieBarbie 6:53 AM  

Medium for me. Big trouble in the NE where I first installed an INFINITY pool and then for some reason failed to delete all of it when I realized it was wrong. Aren't the bracketed years either opening or Tony years; what's so mysterious about that? Great job stuffing six themers into a Tuesday AND crossing them.
The clue for ENID was marvelous! Putting an "alee" word like that in the puzzle and then cluing it in a way that has to be one of the few times, if not unique-- what a wink and what a feat.
@Annie in SF, I was going to say I feel your pain, but I don't, since I don't live nearby anymore-- but it's no longer my city and it makes me so sad. When I lived there, Silicon Valley was another universe, the northern tip of Southern CA. Nobody in the City even paid it any attention. And now it has eaten the city. I saw the beginnings when I visited several years ago, looked around me, and thought how weird it was that everyone was white. Sigh.
ANNIE OAKLEY fits the themers but the full phrase is not as different as the others, because she had her own musical, with one of the best lullabyes ever: "behind the hill, there's a busy little still, where your Pappy's workin' in the moonlight... Your lovin' Pa isn't quite within the law, so he's hidin' there behind the hill." Or something like that. Love musicals.
Sorry for the logorrhea.

smalltowndoc 7:09 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. Thought it was clever and probably not easy to pull off. The bracketed years meant nothing to me at first, and ultimately weren't needed. The fact that I also am not familiar with ONCE is fine with me. Just something I get to learn about. I love a puzzle that expands my horizons!

It's nice to see some updated clues, like those for VIRAL and UNC.

I thought yesterday and today were more challenging than usual for a Monday and Tuesday, respectively, even though my time was better than usual today.

I don't understand why @rex felt the word "Tonys" was needed for clarification. HAMILTON makes that obvious. BTW, another contemporary entry in this puzzle. And honstly, HAMILTON, BERMUDA is pretty impressive for a long answer on a Tuesday puzzle.

Anyway, to me, one of the most enjoyable NYT crosswords in a while.

Glimmerglass 7:11 AM  

Three-letter word for "That's awful"? What's the problem? Yeah, it could be UGH, ick, yuk -- so what? Test a letter or two with crosses -- that's how one solves crosswords!

Hungry Mother 7:16 AM  

Pretty fast today for me. I did use a lot of downs to help me through it.

kitshef 7:20 AM  


I loved ONCE. It is one of those works that makes me realize the extent to which there are ways of seeing and feeling the world that are beautiful yet unknowable to me.

Solved using acrosses only, and the theme was a great help. Still wound up with a grid littered with what I was sure had to be errors. But WIEST, LAPROBES, NALDI, BIGME and OLAN all turned out to be correct.

But not so PROa, ANs, or EpAL, which resulted from asAp instead of STAT.

Favorite Woody Allen Film? Sleeper, of course.

John V 7:29 AM  

Don't care for musicals. Didn't care for this puzzle.

Andrea Ojeda 7:39 AM  

Actually, Once, the film, is the original and the Broadway musical the adaptation. Nowadays, the make musicals out of anything: movies, graphic novels, tv shows, headline news...

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

My favorite Woody Allen picture was Honey I Screwed the Kids.

Knitwit 7:49 AM  

Love musicals and the older Woody Allen films so I did enjoy this one quite a bit! I was lucky to have seen the Off-Broadway version of ONCE long ago-so good! And I played the OBOE for many years(elementary-high school). I guess that about covers it!

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

Resist? The alt-left is literally destroying our country. Look at what they're doing in Portland. This is the behavior that Michael Sharp and his ilk encourage.

GHarris 8:01 AM  

Tested many areas of knowledge, history,geography,theatre, sports, movies, music and some arcana. Enjoyed solving it and found it relatively easy so didn't expect Rex to label it challenging. That gave me a rush.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

Take the Money and Run and Annie Hall.

Nate 8:37 AM  

Knowing the capital of Bermuda would have helped immensely.

Maybe my coffee hadn't kicked in, but I was incredibly slow. There were a few long ones that were totally foreign to me, or I just otherwise would have never come up with the answer - ONCE AROUND (this I do understand after the fact), RENT ROLLS (sounds Dickens-ian to me), LAP ROBES (????). Throw in WIEST and this was a total slog of a guess-fest for me. That doesn't mean I disliked it, I just struggled and didn't have a great time with it. Also I can name like, five total musicals. Maybe I'm exaggerating with that last point, but still.

SMEW is definitely... I was going to say bad, but I think it might be the worst. I hate the answer, and I hate the cluing. It's 100% crossword-ese.

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Felt like a Monday to me, but then, I'm into musicals.

Tony Rotolo 8:44 AM  

Ants are usually divided in three castes: reproductive females, reproductive males and non-reproductive females. This translates to queens, males and workers. The ants have a very efficient colony system where individual ants are born into their role – their caste.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Trump gave up salary of $400,000 a year. Great. Now Congress alloted $120 million to him. What a great legacy.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Alt-left, Resistance, Antifa RIP

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

Oops wrong blog really liked 1-across

QuasiMojo 9:12 AM  

I don't understand people why people who don't like musicals feel it necessary to state the fact as if it is something to be proud of. Well, I don't like Irish clog dancing or Cirque du Soleil (UGH) but I don't go around bragging about it. Musicals are part of America's history. Showboat, Oklahoma, Gypsy are touchstones of our culture. Some of them, obviously, are better than others. I missed Moose Murders, alas. But I saw a few of those mentioned today. Annie was wonderful. Company, brilliant. Nine, a mixed bag, but still fascinating. I'm not sure I can say the same about Hamilton, from what I've seen on TV. But I think Trump may have been right about that one. Probably the only time he and I will agree about anything. One thing no one can dispute. It's over-priced.

@Andrea O made me laugh today. So true! No doubt soon there will be a musical version of GENIUS, the new series about Einstein. It seems no one has an original thought anymore. We've exhausted our imaginations. At least in the theater.

I liked this puzzle a lot. Good job Mr. Kahn. Only one brand name (OMNI) that I could see, unless there's a hidden plug in there for "Best Western."

Nancy 9:13 AM  

Musicals are my thing, so this was definitely in my wheelhouse and I liked it. What I liked most was that some of the cluing was un-Tuesdayish and clever: BLOCKED; GROW; OBOES; OHM. Thinking was required-- always a plus on a Tuesday. I didn't notice the theme until I was mostly finished with the solve, but ONCE I noticed it, I appreciated it. Like @Tita, I noticed the HAIR addition to the theme. Can't remember what did win the year HAIR didn't.

Does Annie Cobla Musicals = andrea carla michaels? If so, and you have an email up on your blog profile, I plan to contact you -- for reasons that will become apparent.

Harry Keates 9:14 AM  

About average for me for a Tuesday. I did like the theme. Didn't like the NE corner much, but it wasn't as bad as yesterday's Bromo corner. And Rex - see the movie version of Once, it is a great film, I'm sure you will like it.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Book of Mormon is brilliant

Two Ponies 9:27 AM  

Not too much ado or hoopla here. Just a smooth and enjoyable Tuesday.
Thanks Mr. Kahn.
Down side - rent roll is a thing? New to me. Sounds made up.
Up side - learned the capital of Bermuda.

I can relate to those casual conversations sprinkled with crossword tidbits. As long as you don't confess where you know it from, everyone thinks you're a genius. Sometimes trivia knowledge gets no respect.

Nancy 9:30 AM  

@Quasi (9:12) -- Well said! Amen.

@Andrea O (7:39) -- They do make musicals about just about anything these days, and sometimes it even works. I was a lyricist in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop when Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey were working on their musical about bipolar disorder, then titled "Feeling Electric." (Electroshock therapy, get it?) I turned to my collaborator and whispered: "This has to be the worst idea for a musical I've ever seen, ever." Not too many years later, it had become "Next to Normal" -- a huge hit and an excellent musical, btw. Perhaps not "Porgy and Bess"-excellent or "Carousel"-excellent or COMPANY-excellent, but one of the better musicals to open in the past 15 years. So much for my powers of prognostication.

Roo Monster 9:47 AM  

Hey All !
I'm not culturally-sophisticated enough to go see musicals! :-) But, I did like the puz!

Heard of three of them, other three were not-heard of. ONCE, NINE, COMPANY were the unknowns. Had Rex's NAw, but had enough crosses to see HAYFEVER, so changed to NAH. No sweat. How does OHM=law man?

Would clue - Dianne bank robbery - be WIEST HEIST?

ACNE again! Wow! Can we make it the entire week? *EYEROLL* :-)

GRITTY EYE
RooMonster
DarrinV

GILL I. 9:48 AM  

@Nancy...I knew you'd enjoy this. Right up your alley.
I love musicals because all the ones I've seen make me want to tap. HAIR (Hi @Tita) was the first rock musical I saw when I arrived in NYC. I can sing "Age of Aquarius" at the top of my lungs and I know all the words.
You don't like a puzzle because you don't like musicals? I dislike baseball and hockey and if it's the main theme, I may groan, but it won't be the reason to not like the puzzle.
ACNE BRAS such a daily treat. ACME, on the other hand, good to see you; sad about San Francisco. I will only go just to visit with friends. My beloved Herb Caen town is a dirty mess. Not even the Presidio brings me joy.
No rotten tomato thrown today David Kahn. You passed the Tuesday test with flying colors. Next time add "Sweeney Todd."

Hartley70 9:50 AM  

Lovely theme, well executed, makes this a memorable Tuesday. My time was a bit longer than usual but I would call this an easy-medium solve.

The major sticking point here seems to be LAPROBES and I think it was the cluing to blame, not the item. "Open Air" travelers had me wanting a sleeping bag, but then I was reminded of rumble seats and carriages. While I don't ride in either, I do still have LAPROBES around the house strategically placed on the back of sofas. Lately they seem to have morphed into throws or the God-awful Snuggie, but they'll always be LAPROBES to me. They are a necessity in a drafty old house and if you're watching a scary movie, you can always bring that LAPROBE up over your head!

I found GROW to be the trickiest entry for the literal-minded. I was just stumped once after entering IGME, but NINEBALL was a gimme with a pool shark husband AROUND. I've been to HAMILTON more often than any foreign capital, so no problem once I saw the BE. I knew Diane WIEST easily, Michael CAINE took a minute. Woody Allen's female leads are more memorable than his men, himself excepted of course.

I loved the @LMS me-me-me anecdote. It is so-so-so true! Congrats to the grad and the grandmother.

@Acme, with a rent-controlled apartment in SF, you've already won the lottery, but my fingers are crossed you and your friend win two tickets.





jberg 9:51 AM  

I've been through an evolutionary cycle on musicals -- loved them as a kid, matured out of that, then eventually came to understand the artistry involved. Seeing some of the old, socially-conscious ones like "Showboat" helped that evolution. Sort of a similar process to thinking Tchaikovsky is too sentimental when you're in your 20s, then realizing how good he is when you're 50.

Despite that, I'd never heard of either ONCE or NINE, so the theme helped only in getting me to accept RENT ROLL as legitimate.

I'll say it again -- Pearl Buck won the Nobel Prize, and The Good Earth is her most famous novel -- worth a try!

Mohair Sam 9:57 AM  

Today we have living proof that a fun theme overcomes a whole bunch of crosswordese. Not a huge student of Broadway musicals, and usually dislike puzzles with lots of threes - but really enjoyed working out the themers here. Terrific Tuesday.

So the "Blanket" clue prompted Lady M to suggest "Eggs-in-a-Blanket" for breakfast, making the entire puzzle a winner, imo. My mother called the dish "Egyptian Toast", and I noted Sunday that @Gill I calls it "Egg-in-a-Hole". Whatever - good eats (and my mother's appellation is the proper one and tastier).

Had no idea that HAMILTON, BERMUDA was that tiny. Just like OFL I've never even heard of ONCE. Speaking of whom - C'mon @Rex, LAPROBES are all over those stars on deck in those shipboard movies they loved to make in the 30s and 40s - you're gonna lose your TCM creds. And great clue for ANT, did't you think?

I was a huge Woody Allen fan until I read Mia Farrow's "What Falls Away" about 20 years ago. Haven't been to an Allen flick since, and switch away from his old movies on TV now.

Cassieopia 10:15 AM  

Faster-than-usual Tuesday for me, and a puzzle chock-full of themers! I loved it. I enjoyed solving and enjoyed learning that Hamilton is the low-population capital of Bermuda, and learning that there are a lot of great musicals out there that I've never even heard of.

@lms loved your spot-on recap of the one-sided "conversation" with the Man from Enid. I've had those encounters and the stream-of-consciousness monologue is almost artful in its obliviousness.

G. Weissman 10:15 AM  

ACNE: Apparently all NYT crossword creators have it real bad.

Liz T. 10:16 AM  

I had never heard of people who'd never heard of the musical Once.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

This is not the crowd for this comment, but here goes.

The NRA has nothing to do with hunting per se. lots of guys who hunt only do so with a bow for example. And while gunning is of course vastly more common, lots of guys who walk a field after a pheasant or sit in their tree stand waiting for a buck loathe the NRA for its increasingly disconnected from the real world ideas. Hunters need gun rights of course, and more than a few hold their nose and join the NRA. But lots of us, probably the vast majority of us, don't.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

I've never heard of people who've never heard of people who've never heard of the musical Once.

Arlene 10:43 AM  

I loved this puzzle - as I've been to so many musicals, and other theater productions. My connection is rather special - because of my degenerative hearing loss, for a very long time, I was unable to attend live theater performances, when even the assistive listening devices didn't help enough. So 20 years ago, I spearheaded the successful advocacy to get live theater captioned - so now TDF (www.tdf.org) arranges open captioned performances of Broadway shows - and many regional theaters across the country, as well as the UK and Australia, also provide this service. So YES - I've seen HAMILTON - with captions - with Lin-Manuel Miranda thanking us at the end of his performance for coming to the captioned performance. YAY!!

Mohair Sam 10:43 AM  

@Rex - Tremendous link to Art Blakey Quintet's "Once in a While" - Thanks.

QuasiMojo 10:57 AM  

@Nancy, I wasn't too good at predicting hits either. I went to see Nunsense when it was still basically a workshop and walked out, sure it was a turkey. Of course it's played all over the world and made millions for its investors. While I can't claim to have seen Hair when it opened on Broadway (I was still a wee little thing...) I did go to the 20th Anniversary gala performance at the United Nations in 1988. Melba Moore, Nell Carter and Bea Arthur were in it. Heaven.

@kitschef -- me, too! Altho Manhattan Murder Mystery is a close second. And count me among the "Interiors" defenders.

Tita A 11:06 AM  

To all you who were hoping I had turned over a new "shirt-and-sweet" leaf, sorry...that was just my 2am posting effort.

Who doesn't love MRBILL? Maybe they'll base a musical on him one day.
@Andrea O...I do have to agree that there is little new under the Broadway sun...would you pay $800 a seat for a rerun? But you do for a revival.
And taking a bad movie and making it a play...well...

@acme...possible exception to the "let's not come up with anything new and just turn a movie into a play" idea could be Groundhog Day. I liked that movie, and then liked it even more when I watched it several times while living in Germany. Watching the dubbed version was perfect for learning the language, since I knew the plot, and so much of it gets repeated! I wish your friend luck.

Never heard the term LAPROBES, even though I own a custom-knit one. My cousin made me one in bright red with 2 white stripes to match my car, to help keep me warm when driving topless in our New England winters. She als crocheted equally red earmuffs covers, but I draw the line there...

EGO/BIGME...Thx for pointing that one out, @lms.

Fine puzzle...thanks Mr. Kahn.

ArtO 11:09 AM  

Whether you were faster or slower than usual should not be the issue. This was a very well constructed puzzle which deserves more praise than scorn. Thought the cluing was much more difficult than a normal Tuesday (caste member for ANT, ring on a string LEI. As for some of the "tired" stuff, I should think it's more acceptable when you come up with six theme answers. Nice to have a "challenging" Tuesday once (sorry!) in a while.

Nancy 11:23 AM  

@Tita (11:06) -- ACME's Groundhog Day writer friend doesn't need to be wished luck. Groundhog Day the Musical just got a NYT review that any writer would absolutely kill for! To call it a rave would be understating the case.

@Kitshef and @Quasi -- I love the early ones, too, but the best Woody Allen movie of all is, IMO, Annie Hall. So many ingenious "firsts" that have never been done or even thought of before. My favorite: Pulling Marshall McLuhan out of the movie line to personally tell the idiot spouting away in front of him that he's spouting nonsense and what an idiot he is. I agree with you @Hartley -- the women in Woody's movies are much more interesting than the men. And @Quasi -- I also really, really liked Interiors. Until now, I'm not sure I've met anyone else who agrees. And @Mohair (9:57) -- I admire and respect the deeply moral position you've taken on the Woody Allen oeuvre. I feel I should be doing that, too. Only I'm not, hedonist that I am.

old timer 11:27 AM  

Slow very slow and tough for a Tuesday. But I did finish it, and the themers did help, with RENT and HAMILTON at least. I've never heard of ONCE or COMPANY either. ANNIE I actually saw, and the musical "Annie Get Your Gun" was a childhood favorite of mine. I never tired of hearing the duet "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better." And the risque' (for a seven-year-old boy) "Doin' What Comes Naturally." Hearing the Broadway album gave me a lifelong love for Ethel Merman, too.

Blackeyedsusan 11:53 AM  

I'm having a problem figuring out my skill level as a crossword solver, and this puzzle is a good example of why. I've been solving daily for about five years and have of course gotten better as you all said I would. I thought today's puzzle was fairly easy. I don't time myself but I'd say about 15 minutes. Then I find that many people report it as hard for a Tuesday, difficult cluing etc. Yet go back to Saturday: I rarely give up but just couldn't get a good toehold in that one. Then I come here and find that it was almost universally admired and wasn't considered as difficult as many Saturdays can be. So I am puzzled for sure. Any insights would be much appreciated.

Leapfinger 11:57 AM  

I think that Book of MormonZola would be cheesy enough to raise a dry fuss. Let them eat a runny Camembert.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Please excuse my confusion, but why GROW for mushroom or balloon? What am I missing?

GILL I. 12:21 PM  

@Leapy from yesterday. I think I'm going to frame your "Anne Boleyn called; she said to tell you that having your head loped off can't hold a chandelle to having it lopped. Mm Defarge agrees."
The curse and of course the laughter of not knowing how to spell....

Masked and Anonymous 12:23 PM  

M&A has seen one Broadway musical play*. It was fine, but I guess just not my thing. Somehow or another, tho, I had heard of all these puztheme play names. [Pretty darn vague on what COMPANY and NINE were about, tho.]

Tough little puppy, for a TuesPuz. {Law man} = OHM. har. SMEW. har2. {Caste member} = ANT. har3. OLAN NALDI & MRBILL. plug in the har-IV. Not exactly yer typical Tuesday-solvequest mercy. But, hey -- M&A likes a little bite in his early week puzs, so bring it on, Kahn. To be fair: balancin out the difficulty-level a wee bit was total starter gimme ANNIEOAKLEY, as well as the primo *quad* weeject stacks in the NE and SW. Sweet.

Have played my share of NINEBALL, but BIGME never made my playlist. Knew CAINE and WIEST, altho had spellin probs with WIESE. Sooo… everything was a nice mix of hard & soft landins, at our house. Fun struggle. NAH didn't even register on my nanosecond risk meter, btw -- talkin full speed ahead Patrick Berry Usage Immunity, there. NAH out-usages NAW overall by 138 to 39. NAW has no PB1 U I. No contest, goin with NAH without a committee meetin. Be brave, @RP. Mushroom or balloon a pair. (har5)

SMEW: Go MEW and bite off its head. So yesterday? … thought so.

Thanx, Mr. Kahn. Way to be aw currant. Did U realize that RENTROLL is pretty close to runt-roll?

Masked & Anonymo3Us


* Lion King, 1999.


coordinated effort…
**gruntz**

r.alphbunker 12:24 PM  

There were some nice clues
{Law man} OHM
{Group that takes pledges, informally} FRAT
{Site of two French banks} SEINE
{Variety of pool} NINEBALL
{Capital city with only about 1,000 residents [2016]} HAMILTONBERMUDA

One time I ordered a Mr Bean tape and got a Mr Bill tape instead. I feel that Mr Bean is the more tragic character falling so short of the human norm for intelligence. Mr Bill was merely doing what clay was designed to do.

Detail are here

Hance Huston 12:51 PM  

'To mushroom' or 'to balloon' is 'to GROW'.

I thought that the clue for OHM was the hardest, but I got it eventually.

Teedmn 1:00 PM  

Played like a Wednesday for me. I had to NAw on the answer for 8A until HAY FEVER itched and sneezed its way onto the grid.

And at 37D, with the B of BERMUDA and the R of RAH, I decided a means of avoiding an uphill climb was uBeR.

I loved the clues for OHM (law man) and EGO (massage target.)

Thanks, David Kahn, it was a fun solve.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

@Blackeyedsusan - The difficulty ratings @Rex presents are relative to the day of the week. Rex rated today's a challenging Tuesday, and a challenging Tuesday would be a no-brainer Saturday.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Gill and Leapy,

Today is the 481st ( I think) anniversary of Anne Boleyn's arrest.
And Leapy, it was indeed one of the best comments this board has seen in a long while.

Evan Jordan 2:08 PM  

Wow. I don't know if I have ever simultaneously agreed and disagreed so fervently with @Rex at the same time. I loved this puzzle. I could swear it deliberately catered to a swarm of my personal favorite interests - and pet topics aside, I actually enjoyed seeing some of the more radioactive crosswordese. Hackneyed fill in general is not due for a revival in any sense - but even that one friend that you never liked can be kind of heartwarming if enough time apart elapses.
Still, today's blog cracked me up. I don't like musicals either! So much so that the only one's that rank among my favorites in any theatrical art form are the film adaptations of Cabaret and Sound of Music (there's so much wonderful unsung dialogue in them!)
Also... in a refreshing break from the norm, I thought pretty much all of Rex's technical nitpicking and aesthetic criticisms (soggy as they may feel to read) were spot on, which makes them useful since I enjoy improving as a solver and an appreciator. Dope.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

I like Colbert because he spews hate, and I like that.

Wm. C. 2:37 PM  



I've been to Bermuda many a time. One of my companies, sited in the US, was an international for tax reasons, so our Board meetings had to be out of the country, and Bermuda is fairly close and very pleasant, even in winter.

One of my "life accomplishments" is having played on all 6 of Bermuda's lovely golf courses several times, including the top-ranked Mid-Ocean club.

Hamilton's resident population is low because the downtown area is small, and taken up with tourist shops. The ocean liners park just outside the bay and their boats stream the tourists in and out continually.

One of the "odd-isms" of Bermuda is that non-residents are not allowed to operate automobiles. So it's either a taxi, or rent a motor scooter (which is lots of fun, btw).

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

What is it with this week's puzzles? Not fun, clever, solvable. Still sore over Sunday's flop.

tea73 3:00 PM  

I'm not a big fan of musicals, but I thought these were very fair. The only one I hadn't heard of was Nine. I saw the movie "Once" - it's a very sweet story. Didn't need to see it turned into a musical though!

Seeing SMEW made me smile - such a classic crosswordese word - and of course I couldn't quite remember it. Oh well.

Harvey Briggs 3:44 PM  

The NRA is not a hunters' organization. It represents the firearms industry.

Uncle Milford 3:53 PM  

2 hannah and her sisters references? really? boring puzzle. law man = ohm??? doesn't that require a question mark? I don't know, felt it was a crappy puzzle.

semioticus (shelbyl) 4:47 PM  

This took me more than my average time to solve. English is not my native language, and I started doing some crossword puzzles about 7 years ago and have been doing them regularly for 4 months now, so sometimes very easy answers are hard to get for me. The NE corner today, man. I guess I spend 1/3rd of my time there. HOOPLA was what I got initially, but from there to OHM took an eternity. The good news is now I know what a male swan is called as well as the neither fish nor fowl idiom.

Once I got the reveal at the bottom I misread it and thought the whole theme answers were gonna be musicals. RENTROLL woke me up. I guess I need stronger coffee.

JTHurst 4:59 PM  

The Next To Last Word

I love on-stage musicals and so this puzzle was challenging but fun. I have never heard of Nine or Once but this would be due to my extensive time overseas. My first remembrance of a theater musical production was when my mother and I traveled to Chicago on the Wabash train with its observation car and club car (where I had my first club sandwich). We saw "No Time for Sergeants" and "Mame". And then many more musicals than I can recount. Saw any musical with Tommy Tune (six foot eight inches tall) who could sing and dance like no one else.

I could understand not liking musicals if your experience has been via the TV or a movie but to see a troupe in person, in a hall, with the sweat and dust and clamor as the performers are clumping about and the sound is reverberating is absolutely exhilarating, no wonder Mozart loved doing songs for the music hall crowd. Mozart's Magic Flute is a wonderful musical just filled with double entendres.

I took my granddaughter to the Lion King in SF which she loved it but declined the opportunity to get tickets for Hamilton at the same venue because of price and mob appeal. In ten years will we be singing tunes from Hamilton like we do for Annie or Evita or Les Miz?

The only problem I had with the puzzle was its disjointedness. But still fun

Anonymous 5:18 PM  

I like when that dude from Hamilton got up and lectured VP Pence, and then all of his misogynistic tweets came out. Hypocritical alt-left exactly according to script.

Space Is Deep 6:53 PM  

I've said it before and I'm about say it again. It never ceases to amaze me how Rex rates difficulty. This time I found it easy (and I've never seen a single one of these musicals). Other difficult ones for me, Rex races through, while I DNF. There are things I didn't know, but the crosses were easy. No Nantiks.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

I know musicals, so got the theme right away, very enjoyable,

Loved that Caine and Wiest both won oscars for Hannah and her Sisters. Great film. Annie Hall was his best in my opinion (Manhattan is too creepy with the whole Mariel Hemingway love affair) but my favorite Woody Allen/Diane Wiest collaboration is in Radio Days when she wins the contest because living with a man who owns a fish store makes them all amateur ichthyologists. That might be my favorite Woody Allen moment except when he plays the cello in the marching band.

Company is the best of all of those best musicals...IMO.

Andrew Heinegg 10:02 PM  

Bravo to you for living your life to the fullest and ignoring anything in your way. Bless you.

phil phil 11:27 PM  

Hate ATE ON and it's ilk. How is that not green paint and deserving of a bit of wrath from Rex. Its not even an oft used clause.

Hey let's use plates tonight. We ATE ON the floor for lunch.

The ride through central park was too long so we just ATE ON our LAP ROBES.

Notformetosay 3:37 AM  

Anonymous got it right re woody....his thing for the teenager in Manhattan ruined that movie....it was not believable from his angle or hers....and yes i felt that way from the outset, years before the Mia Farrow Soon Yi era...and yes the rest of the movie was terrific.

Doc John 12:12 PM  

What? No mention of MR BILL?
Frankly, the puzzle had me at MR BILL. He could've dumped all the crosswordese he wanted in there after that and I'd still have loved it. Yes, there was some wonky fill but overall it was very enjoyable. The themers were all on target and a nice revealer in the end. FWIW, I saw "Once." It's completely forgettable.
But, because Mr. (I mean, Dr.) Smarty Pants doesn't like musicals, it gets a thumbs down.

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Can someone please explain {Law man} = OHM?

phil phil 7:06 PM  

OHM's Law named after mr Ohm

Anonymous 2:20 AM  

All of the musicals listed in this puzzle won both the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award -- the two biggest prizes for Broadway theatre.

Burma Shave 10:39 AM  

EGO LEI STAT

That IDIOT COMPANYMAN found his GRITTY ROMANCE
with ANNIEOAKLEY wouldn’t GROW by leaps NOR bounds.
Our DEAR WESTERN gal BLOCKED that LOSER’s second advance,
she’d LET him USE her, and get RIDOF him after ONCEAROUND.

--- MR.BILL REVERE

spacecraft 11:05 AM  

Challenging for me too, but "4 flat?" Yeah okay, 4 ten-minute chunks. Blithely sailed through--of all places--the NW. Then, screech! ATEON crossing RIDOF? NAH! One awkward partial ATA time, please. So the north central is a disaster area. Then the NE. Not, ONCE again, being a New Yorker, I'm somewhat behind in my stage musicals. Never heard of either ONCE nor NINE (COMPANY, either). So the NE, with its Saturday clue for OHM, was tough to crack. I have heard of RENT the musical, but "RENTROLL?" Baffling. I had no idea what might go into those four squares. I tried -BOOK, but no. This thing almost shoved me off the tracks several times...and it's only TUESDAY! And what is a LAPROBE, an investigation in Los Angeles?

Clues were off center. Buffoon does not equal IDIOT. Our current president is certainly the former, but not the latter. Close, but no. A deadbeat is a LOSER, sure enough, but the clue doesn't lead me there. @anon. 10:28: right on! The Venn diagram of hunters and the NRA has a small common area.

One grid-spanning gimme helped tremendously. Yes, the population of the whole island is tightly controlled; you CAN'T build a house there. In fact, if you're not SUPREMELY connected, you can't even BUY one! And even then you're on a waiting list.

If I start talking about the fill, I'm afraid I'll degenerate into a rant. Suffice to say, there are constructors who care--and those who obviously don't. Guess which group today's falls into.

I love me some Diane WIEST; she's one of my favorite actresses, but not exactly DOD material. Why not the original ANNIEOAKLEY?

Because the old gray cells got an early-week workout for a change, I'm inclined to score this one not too harshly. Bogey will do.

rondo 12:12 PM  

Pretty good stuff in there for a Tuesday, lotsa theme. But also lotsa threes, at least 27 by my count, which takes away a little. But still better than what shows up many Tuesdays. And again, some 3 to 5 times the solve time of OFL and the other PROS.

If we get any more ACNE we’ll all be teens again.

LET’s go back about a hundred years to a vamp that was a pioneer in the yeah baby movement and before censors BLOCKED some film content – Nita NALDI! Seems she was always RIDOF her BRAS.

If you USE that much theme do you get a lotta 3s? I do REVERE the quantity of themers.

leftcoastTAM 2:10 PM  

Tuesday tough, and interesting, too.

Didn't know the musicals NINE or ONCE, or the Foo Fighters and their hit, BIGME. Helpful crosses in those cases.

NALDI came late to the show.

Remembered the amusing but sadistically abused MRBILL after being nudged again by crosses.

Nice work.





Diana,LIW 5:33 PM  

Was about to comment over 4 hours ago and then - boom - power outage. We knew it was coming - our power company was doing work in the area. So, on to my notes:

Aaaaah. Or Ahhhhh. Or Aah. Finally. A clean, complete, smoothly finished puzzle that presented little trouble.

In college, my boyfriend was a Broadway fiend, and he took me to see COMPANY. Wow! Will never forget that. And then, when we went to the ACPT this spring, @Teedmn and I went to see HAMILTON with a friend of mine from long, long ago. Another wow! One of the best things about living in New York (years past) was all the plays/concerts/ballets/operas/films to go to. One of the worst things about living in New York was you always felt like you were missing some great thing. And LAPROBES are available for those taking carriage rides in the park in winter. I always felt too sorry for the horses to partake.

So thanks for the memories, puzzle. G'day!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the power no longer

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