TUESDAY, Jan. 16, 2007 - Dave Mackey

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Solving time: 5:13

THEME: Family REUNION - three long theme answers (one of which is impossibly good) describe sets of relatives, such as one might find at a REUNION (40A: Celebration that may involve the people in 20-, 42- and 56-Across)

These are your theme answers, listed here, in order, from good to mind-blowing.

  • 56A: 2005 Mark Wahlberg movie ("Four Brothers")
  • 20A: Chekhov play, with "The" ("Three Sisters")
  • 35A: With 42-Across, LeslĂ©a Newman book ("Heather Has / Two Mommies")
I solved this puzzle so quickly (for me), that I didn't not notice HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES as the answer until it was 80% filled in. This book was legendary when I was in college (originally self-published in 1989) for being one of, if not the, first children's books to depict a lesbian household. I have said that everything about pop music, from the years I was in college, sucks. Well, one of the better - or at least more interesting - developments of my time in college was that it was a time of increased visibility of gay people in literature and movies. Or maybe it's just that I finally met some gay people when I was in college and then noticed they were everywhere and, it turns out, as messed up as everybody else I knew. Hurray for equality. Anyway, this book, as well as Annie on My Mind, got talked about (usually jokingly, even among the most politically sympathetic, i.e. gayest, of us) a lot in my latter college years. I won't even tell you the alternative (i.e. totally made-up) titles we had for some of these. Let's just say that "My Mind" was not what Annie was "on."

Yesterday I announced a moratorium on guys named Dave/David authoring puzzles. I then grandfathered a bunch of Davids, but forgot to grandfather Dave Mackey (I did it in Comments). And then voila, here he is. So, he's legal, but seriously, don't push me. Oh, I also forgot to grandfather Dave Tuller. I wonder what the record is for using "grandfather" as a verb in a single day. Single paragraph?

14A: Followers of so (la ti)
2D: Nobel-winning Nelly (Sachs)

How many times will I be suckered in by the damned "notes on a scale" trick, where SO or DO are used in a clue as if they are words, but then it turns out they are part of that damned Sound of Music song!? Do you know any effeminate homosexual men who have won the Nobel prize in anything? I don't. Wait, did Auden win? The only Sachs I know is Oliver, and I don't really know him except by name. LATI looks incredibly stupid and wrong when written into the grid. These two answers, up in the always slippery "Seattle" section of the puzzle, gave me my only real solving challenge of this puzzle. Everything else more or less fell together without much pause (for once).

25D: Actor Milo (O'Shea)

So I posted the new 2007 Pantheon line-up yesterday, and immediately second-guessed myself like crazy. I'm already considering new words for next year, and this puzzle makes a good case for O'SHEA, who comes up a lot for a dead Irishman. O, my bad, he's not dead. He was the friar in Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet (pictured). He was also somehow involved in the Janeane Garofalo movie The MatchMaker. Guy's gotta eat. Actually ... I saw that movie in the theater. What's more, I didn't ... hate it. Might have ... liked it. Enough movie confession. O'SHEA is a worthy Pantheon candidate ... for another year. See also 53D: Home on high (aerie) and 55D: Perfume compound (ester) - which reminds me, I really really want to see Perfume; the novel was amazing, especially at the end when ... well, you'll see.

24A: "Hamlet" setting (Elsinore)
48A: Five Nations tribe (Onondaga)

So much colorful symmetrical goodness here. ONONDAGA live nearby, so I'm familiar with their name. ELSINORE took a little cajoling to come out into the light (DENMARK being the only "setting" that came to mind at first glance), but a couple of crosses made the answer obvious. This is one of the best Tuesday puzzles in a long time - between the beautifully structured and highly original theme, and the super-fresh fill in the non-themed answers. I am putting this one into the "Puzzle Awards 2007" folder I have on my desktop - it'll probably get nominated for best theme answer and best Tuesday. But who knows - there are still 11.5 months to go, and anything can happen.

4D: Musical liabilities (tin ears)
44D: Pizza slices, usually (eighths)

More hot symmetry. These answers are both musical, if you hold them in the right light. I love that EIGHTHS has five consonants in a row (one of the few words in English that can claim that). I also love that apparently I can't spell "consonant" (keeps coming out "consanant").

10D: Pale lager (pilsner)
43D: _____ Mann of 1960's pop (Manfred)

OK, I swear, this is the last pair of symmetrical answers I will shower with adulation. I just love it when these long connectors are something other than workmanlike. PILSNER isn't astounding, but it's sort of jaunty, and MANFRED Mann is a crazy blast from the past. "Blinded by the Light!" - Springsteen did a version of this song, but I prefer MANFRED's. Has the greatest misunderstood (by me) lyric in the history of song. But I am too modest to write it down; the line starts "Wrapped up..." That's all I'll say. Did you know that a PILSNER glass is FOOTED - It's true. How do I know. A little puzzle told me so - about 2-3 months ago.

62A: 1986 Indy winner Bobby (Rahal)

I have yelled at ESPN more times than I can count for its decision to count NASCAR and other auto-racing events as "sports." The machine does the work: NOT A SPORT. And yet, I must have absorbed something while ignoring the screen during the NASCAR coverage, because RAHAL was a gimme. I didn't know my gimmes went beyond Jeff Gordon, but apparently they do. So bring on the NASCAR, if you must. I am no longer afraid.

19A: Sue of "Lolita" (Lyon)

If I haven't said it before, I'll say it now: Kubrick's is the only "Lolita" you want to see. Doesn't matter that Sue LYON is way too old. Peter Sellers is some kind of genius in that movie (as is Shelley Winters), and the Jeremy Irons version is Pitifully lame and unfunny. No Sense of Humor. Nabokov would have retched. If I have performed this tirade before, my apologies.

33D: Steve the late Crocodile Hunter (Irwin)

This clue sounds more like a children's book title than a clue about a recently dead guy. "Steve hunted crocodiles, but he could never seem to get to work on time..." His death is sad, of course, in the way that all unnecessary deaths are sad. Did no one learn anything from Grizzly Man?!?! Let's leave the lethal animals alone, as God intended.

40D: Sonata ending, often (rondo)

I am running out of steam this morning. Andrew, what does this mean? And does anyone else remember a refreshing soft drink from the late-70s that went by the name of "Rondo?" HA ha, the (musical) RONDO entry at Wikipedia begins with an advisory: "For the former U.S. soft drink, please see Rondo (soft drink)." Only when you go there, you just get redirected to a generic "Citrus Drink" page, where RONDO is described very briefly. Answers.com tells me that two of its slogans were:

* "Rondo - The Thirst Crusher!"
* "Lightly carbonated, so you can slam it down fast!"

I want a picture of the can!!!! There don't appear to be any in existence (on the whole internet!? how is that possible?). Free "Rex Parker" T-shirt to the first person who can provide me with a pic. That is, when I actually get around to having the T-Shirts made. Or even designed.

Speaking of which, I received a "scholarship" to Stamford from my Aunt Nancy, which was very thoughtful. I am clearly going to have to set up something in the sidebar that acknowledges my benefactors; something like "Brought to you by ... IHOP ... the Letter 'K' ... and the Nancy McNichols Foundation for Better Blogging."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I love that OLEO gets elected Pantheon President on a Monday, and then turns around and makes a puzzle appearance on a Tuesday. She's a man of the people.


Orange 10:22 AM  

A crosswordin' scholarship? Well, well.

While you're grandfathering Daves, don't forget David Ainslie Macleod.

There's Goldman Sachs, which once bought my husband's employer for the express purpose of shutting the firm down. You know, it was kinda nice to have him home every day for a few months.

I don't know that Rondo made it to the Chicago area. I like a more heavily carbonated soft drink, anyway. Gots to have my bubbles, I do.

Chris 11:03 AM  

Be ready for much, much more NASCAR coverage on ESPN. They'll be carrying actual races soon, which means that they'll really ramp up their NASCAR coverage on SportsCenter and their talking head shows. It's going to be brutal.

Wendy 2:44 PM  

Not to put too fine a point on it ... but just for your edification since motorsports seem to be in your future: Indy cars, such as those that Bobby Rahal once drove and now sponsors, are not part of NASCAR - different animal altogether. Open-wheeled racing is referred to as CART (formerly) and now CHAMP racing. Different cars, different courses, different rules, and different types of enthusiasts, generally speaking. Much less rednecky, for starters. They would never want to be thought of as interchangeable.

Andrew 2:49 PM  

A rondo is a quick, often final movement of a sonata. Also an entire piece can be written in rondo form, where the word is used differently.


Peace out.

Andrew 3:43 PM  

"Strengths" and "twelfths" are better than "eighths" in that none of the 5 consecutive consonants in the former is silent.

Anonymous 5:47 PM  

Yesterday Rex chided Orange for writing "I wish I would have" instead of "I wish I had". At least she didn't say "I wish I would of" which is undeniably ungrammatical. Orange, however, is in good company (Bruce Springsteen)with her use of "I Wish I Would Have".

I wish she would have, too.

Orange 6:59 PM  

The only good thing about NASCAR is that it spawned Talladega Nights. My husband's employer sponsors an Indy car, but I still can't summon up any interest. Less rednecky than NASCAR, but...it's still cars going in endless circles.

I wish I would have a million dollars.

Emily/Jonny 8:38 PM  

Though we did not find the picture of the requested Rondo beverage, is it possible to procure a certified Rex Parker T-shirt?

We are willing to pay.

Rex Parker 10:19 PM  

Alright, Emily/Jonny, just for you, I will get on this task sooner than later. I need a design. I'll work on it. Seems quite vain, but whatever. I live to please. Plus, this way when I go to Stamford, I can, as they say, Represent.


PS readers are hereby invited to submit T-shirt designs, which I will then steal and not pay you for. Good luck! One stipulation - no "grid" images Anywhere On The Shirt. Too obvious.

Anonymous 12:06 AM  

Treadwell wasn't gay...TRUST me... ;)

Dave 7:48 AM  

I believe I originally had RAHAL clued as "____-Letterman Racing (Danica Patrick's former employer)".

Again thanks for the useful commentary on my puzzle and thanks for having me grandfathered without benefit of having sired a child.

BTW, I don't know if I can slip through a plug, but our website is now at www.thepuzzlebrothers.com. Come visit us!

Rex Parker 8:15 AM  

First of all, I never "chided" Orange for anything.

Second, who or what is "Treadwell?"

Third, no problem, Dave. Plug away! And thanks for a great puzzle.


Rex Parker 4:50 PM  

Oh TREADwell ... yes, the name of the Grizzly Man himself. Timothy Treadwell. Right. Uh ... not sure how his sexuality is relevant here, Anonymous, but I'll "TRUST" your experience (!) / judgment on the issue, I guess.


citygirl 10:34 PM  

ok, I just started doing crosswords and this one was hard for me...because I don't know athlete's names and I certainly don't know nascar drivers and the So-La-Ti thing screwed me up big time. BUT I'm starting to get the hang of things, and your explanations are awesome and totally helpful. Did I just say "awesome" and "totally" in the same sentence?

Rex Parker 8:44 AM  

Totally awesome. You should change your moniker to "80sgirl," or, better yet, "valleygirl."

Keep at it. The hang of things will come. The sports clues do seem to put some people at a great dis/advantage, depending on how much you've (not) followed sports in your life. A sports-free puzzle is a real rarity. Hardly any sports clues in today's (which is to say, Sunday 1/21's) puzzle, but there are a couple. There was a brutal sports clue in Saturday's, but practically all of Saturday's puzzle was brutal (typical). Anyway, glad you enjoy the site. Come back often. Comment at will.


moneypenny56 10:01 AM  

I just discovered your website a couple of weeks ago and have really been enjoying it. Thanks for all the good effort.

I also was confused about "Lati" today but I really displayed my shocking lack of math skills when I thought a "collection of points" was a line. It was beginning to look like this would be a really tough Tuesday, but then everything started falling into place.

Thanks again for all the great commentary.

martin 11:56 AM  

The San Diego section of this one stumped me for a bit, as I couldn't come up with WIND or JEER and finally got it figured out when the Ransom ELI Olds marble found its way to the top of my head.

Someone has got to clue RONDO as basketballer Rajon...it'd be a gimme for me.

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

For a picture of the Rondo can, type into Google exactly as follows (including quotes):

"slam it down fast" wikipedia

Or type http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rondo_(soft_drink) into the address line of your browser.

It will take you to a page with a photo of the can.

Rex Parker 5:41 PM  

O my god I have no idea why you are reading this four-month-old commentary, but I am well and truly grateful for the Rondo can. I swear that that can pic did not exist on Wikipedia 4 months ago ... though I could be wrong.


Tadd Dameron 4:41 PM  

"Awakenings" and "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat" were written by Oliver SacKs not Sachs.

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