TUESDAY, Apr. 3, 2007 - David Quarfoot and Mike Nothnagel

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Double" Features - Titles of famous movies with numbers in them have those numbers doubled, e.g. 20A: Eddie Murphy / Nick Nolte double feature? ("Ninety-Six Hours")

I tore through this puzzle, almost too fast to appreciate anything about it, except the theme clues, which were all, miraculously, gimmes. Then I looked at the name of the constructor(s), and thought "So this is what happens when my two of my favorite late-week / themeless constructors a. team up and b. write a Tuesday puzzle." I almost feel like their particular geniuses are wasted on an early-week puzzle, where you're kind of hamstrung in terms of what you can do with non-theme fill. Plus, the theme, while clever in its way, was just too easy for me, and, I'm guessing, for most non-old non-shut-ins. And yet ... somebody's gotta write the Tuesday puzzle, so why not these guys? It was fun. Not challenging, but fun, and there were a handful of times (before I looked at the constructors names) where I thought, even in my haste to finish quickly, "Damn, that's good."

This is officially the first time I've had to review a puzzle written by people I've actually met, face-to-face. Objectivity ... compromised ... must ... keep my edge ...

The other, non-Nolte theme answers were:

38A: George Clooney / Brad Pitt double feature? ("Oceans Twenty-Two")

54A: Jessica Alba / Chris Evans double feature? ("Fantastic Eight")

That last one was tough from the clue (I could think of only one Jessica Alba movie off the top of my head - see poster, left), but just a few crosses made getting the answer easy enough.

18A: Mies van der _____ (Rohe) - if you are a novice solver, memorize the name. He will return. The NYT puzzle loves its crazily-named architects.

19A: Delete (X out) - I love any and all creative uses of "X," even in ordinary little colloquial forms like this. Side note, keep in mind that the answer for [Deletes, with "out"] is usually spelled XES, but as for all the women (one assumes) that George Strait abandoned who now live in Texas - they're spelled EXS.

29A: Successor to Marshall on the Supreme Court (Thomas) - of the billions of ways there are to clue THOMAS, I like this one. Bit of a curve ball for me - had to the get the THO- before I had my "duh" moment (yin the "aha" moment's yang). Marshall seems like he's from another era (because ... he is) and THOMAS seems so current (again, because he is). The Clarence Thomas hearings (1991) were some kind of harbinger for how lurid and circus-like mass media would become in the 90's. See also L.A. Riots, O.J. Trial(s), Lewinsky, any number of Michael Jackson trials, etc.

33A: Part of a tuba's sound ("pah!") - I went from "What the... !?" to "Oh, good one" pretty quickly here. I'm guessing that, in music lore, tubas go OOM-PAH (but probably not LOOMPAH, and certainly not DOOPITY-DOO).

37A: [Oh ... my ... lord!] ("Gasp!") - This is all hilarious, starting with my trying to imagine the scenario that would cause anyone to utter the phrase in the clue! In fact, I heartily encourage you to finish the phrase yourself, e.g. "Oh ... my ... lord ... the dogs ate the turkey!" In many ways, GASP seems like the opposite of [Oh... my .... lord!], the clue being so drawn out and the answer so succinct.

48A: Words below the Lincoln Memorial ("One Cent") - Zing! Good one. Thankfully, I had the majority of this answer before I ever saw the clue, so the trick was easy to spot. I like "words on currency" clues.

60A: Race created by H. G. Wells (Eloi) - They are everywhere! Must remember to put them in the Pantheon. Ugh, I've been saying I'm going to update the damn Pantheon forever. Maybe when I get back from Cancun (on which, more later)

61A: "Some busy and insinuating rogue," in Shakespeare (Iago) - also belongs in Pantheon. Super-nice way to clue this ubiquitous answer.

62A: Long-billed game bird (snipe) - following an episode of "Cheers" where bar denizens send Dr. Frasier Crane out on a "snipe hunt" (which is supposed to be a kind of wild goose chase), I had always thought that the SNIPE was fictional. I was legitimately surprised the first time I saw it in the puzzle clued as an actual bird. Word that deserves to be in the grid more: GUTTERSNIPE.

68A: Banks on a runway (Tyra) - nifty, semi-tricky clue. Anti-pop-culture folk are gonna hate this puzzle.

8D: Comment from a person who digs ("I'm hip") - Awesome clue / answer pairing. Also, an awesome Blossom (!) Dearie song.

10D: Bar exam subject? (mixology) - perhaps the most spectacular answer in the grid. Unexpected, lively, unusual, colloquial. The clue almost doesn't need the "?" at the end.

11D: Baseball family name (Alou) - old standard; should be committed to memory.

13D: Retired fliers (SSTs) - Pantheonic in the extreme - I'm wondering how long SSTs will have to have been retired before no one knows what the hell the puzzle's talking about any more. Have I wondered this out loud before? I feel as if I have.

12D: Score connector, in music (slur) - can one of my musician friends flesh this one out, please? The SLURS I know are all speech-related, and sometimes racial.

25D: They can help you carry a tune (iPods) - becoming old hat very quickly. Don't be fooled again.

26D: "Be silent," musically (tacet) - perfectly good Latin, but I didn't know it had a musical meaning. I thought P or PP meant "play softly" (pianissimo?). Is TACET the musical equivalent of "Shut the #$#@! up?"

36D: Move, informally (Re-Lo) - this damn made-up word is Everywhere. I'd never heard it before I started doing puzzles - in fact, I'd never heard it before I started blogging puzzles last year. There used to be a rapper named Skee-Lo. He sings a song on my "Schoolhouse Rock" compilation, which is surprisingly strong for an album of silly little educational songs covered by moderately talented mid-90s pop acts. Skee-Lo had a huge rap hit with a song called "I Wish" in 1995. I have just narrated 90% of his career. Put SKEE-LO in a puzzle! He needs the work.

40D: "Eraserhead" star Jack (Nance) - this answer came to me from Nowhere. I've never seen the movie, but the star's crazy mug is very, very vivid in my mind. NANCE is also the name of a former NBA star (Larry) and a current sports announcer (Jim) - who spells it NANTZ, it turns out.

41D: A train may go down it (the aisle) - Love the "the" in this answer. Again, a not difficult, but still tricky and playful little clue. Nice Tuesday stuff.

69A: And those that follow: Lat. (et seq.) - see, this is the great thing about these constructors; they're all TYRA Banks and MIXOLOGY one minute, and then bam, they go old skool bibliographical terminology on you. Keeps you on your toes.

52D: "The _____ Sanction" ("Eiger") - never seen it, but the title is vivid in my mind. Sounds like it's about nuclear fallout, but I may be thinking of GEIGER counter... Wow, it's mid-70's Eastwood. And he's hunting a Russian. I should see this.

49D: Young swan (cygnet) - a lovely word, all on its own.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Tyrone 10:01 AM  

My 4th grade teacher used to play that School House Rock compilation all the time. I enjoyed Blind Melon's rendition of "Three Is the Magic Number," and Skee-Lo's take on "Mr. Morton Is the Subject of My Sentence (And What the Predicate Says, He Does)" was also very good, and a worthy follow-up to "I Wish" (which had terrible grammar, by the way, so I don't know if Skee-Lo has the proper qualifications to rap about sentence structure and grammar).

Hank Heijink 10:06 AM  

Some enlightenment about the musical clues: TACET is indeed music-ese for "Shut the %^*& up", although, being a musician, we usually take it to mean "Time for coffee".

A slur is a little line connecting two notes meaning those notes should be tied. It's what happens when you've got a one-syllable birthday boy: "Happy birthday, dear Pau-haul".

Yep, nice puzzle. Great blog too!

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

I love "guttersnipe" but only know it from the
Clash song. Nice to get the Clash into company with Blossom Dearie and Skee lo (Know the first, not the second).
Trish in OP

DONALD 10:51 AM  

I say the same things about my wife's cooking!

Nothnagel 11:09 AM  

Hi Rex.

Thanks, again, for the glowing words.

To shed some light on the "why are Quarfoot and Nothnagel teaming up on a Tuesday puzzle" question: this puzzle was constructed soon after Stamford 2006, when I first met DQ. He inspired me to start constructing, so I asked him if he wanted to collaborate on a puzzle.

Although the theme idea was mine, we collaborated on the theme entries. DQ did most of the fill, while I griped about the stuff I didn't like.

Et voila!


Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Re: the slur - In music it does connect notes, but not scores. The clue doesn't make sense.

JC66 11:52 AM  

I thought the puzzle was great, too...but tough for a Tuesday. I got bogged down for a while because I missspelled SIGNET.

barrywep 11:53 AM  

I needed crossing help to get THOMAS but only because I was thinking John Marshall--another era indeed. I guess I was tired and forgot it was Tuesday.

Linda G 12:02 PM  

Completely spaced the Nick Nolte/Eddie Murphy thing. All I could think of was the old song 96 Tears. That did Not help me get the NE.

Loved your pic for GASP.

And, yes, you should see The EIGER Sanction. In fact, I'm adding it to my Netflix list to see it again. Hot picture of Clint on the link. Made my day ; )

Will 12:09 PM  

I really liked the theme (prob. cuz I got it).

Also "Banks on a runway" was a great clue even though I didn't get it until checking with the solution here.

I kept racking my brain about Nascar turns

campesite 1:28 PM  

Despite having done these puzzles for several years, I never really got to know the names of many constructors (OK, Merl), but now I'm getting familiar with several of them, thanks to this blog. Today's excellent Tuesday puzzle was created by two constructors whose puzzles I really enjoy. They always seem to have a good mix of clever cluing, pop culture, and the painfully arcane.

shaun 1:33 PM  

"oh . . . my . . . Lord": my 3yo daughter says this, which means I must. Much cooler when a 3yo says it.

slur: surely OK, as scores typically have scores of slurs, thus a slur is a connector in/for scores. It looks like a very flat arch (or smile, depending on whether it's at the top or bottom of a staff) connecting notes.

tacet: another way of saying "Altos are second-citzens" in a choral score. Another form of slur in a score, as it were.

barrywep 1:42 PM  

I second the Skee-Lo request, although maybe we need to get him some real work so constructors will know who the hell he is. The Wikipidia description you link :

Has at least two errors: It says he was born in Chicago and Poughkeepsie (both can't be right can they) and it describes his career as "active".

Orange 3:26 PM  

My six-year-old once said, "Holy lord of gravy!" And just yesterday, observing some dogs at the park, he called them gods (dog being god spelled backwards). He refuses all kiddie crosswords so far, but I'm working on him...


campesite 3:48 PM  

Off topic, but about a week ago Rex suggested an updated cluing of 'Fergie' and provided a link to the lyrics and a helpful translation of 'My Humps.'
Alanis Morrissette has issued a parody of the same song:

Kitt 6:51 PM  

Orange -- that made me laugh!! My seven-year old nephew is always stealing my crosswords and trying to solve them. Last year for X-mas I got him one of Trip Payne's kid books. He loves them -- parents help a little and ends up being a family activity.

I thought the puzzle today was a bit more difficult than a normal Tuesday. But, that was cool from my end. There were so many great clues in here I found myself smiling as I was working it. I love it when that happens! Clues you don't expect but bring such satisfaction! Ahhh.

Someone out there...PLEASE never let me forget "Eloi" dang! And that stupid OOOLA from Sunday. oops! or should I say "alley oops" :)

Thanks MN for posting here -- I think we all agree it's great when the puzzle constructors show up to add insight -- appreciate it!

Linda, hope your new job today went well.

rock rabbit 7:57 PM  

Sorry to be so stupid, but will someone explain me what TPKE is? We don't have toll highways in Wyoming....

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

Rock Rabbit: I grew up in Sheridan. "Turnpike" is what you're missing.
Trish in OP

Wendy 10:51 PM  

Unexpected synchronicity this morning with the CYGNET answer, having just the day before driven through a small town in rural Ohio by the same name - for the first time. There they put the emphasis on the second instead of first syllable. Definitely loved the puzzle. Any one with JULEP in it is OK in my book. My only error was "woes" for ILLS.

Ultra Vi 10:52 PM  

Hello, all--

I have to officially apologize to D. Quarfoot for intimating that his Friday puzzle was too workaday and (ouch) lacking cleverness. I don't know what got into me. Suffice it to say that I am humbled. Please forgive!

It seemed that today's fun and light puzzle was made just for me with all its musical references: SLUR, TACET, STANZA, IPOD, MASS, CYGNET (so what if some were clued extra-musically).

TACET usually means that you get to rest during an entire movement or (less luckily) a large-ish section of a piece of music. Espresso break, yes! And the clue for SLUR was a bit off - for score connector, I first tried to think of the name of the vertical line that connects the staves of music on a page of score. SLUR, on the viola, means that you connect two or more notes within the same bow, without changing bow direction. For winds, I suppose it means connecting notes without tonguing.

Thanks for a fun puzzle this morning.

Anonymous 11:20 PM  

So there are rules about what one may say or not say about the puzzles?

mmpo 9:15 AM  

Rex, Never heard of an oompah band?

TPKE--short for "turnpike."

Tacet--It means don't play at all. An example of how it might be used...In a repeated section, you might see (or jot down) "Tacet 1X" (tacet first time), indicating that you should *not* play the notes written the first time through but *should* play them on the repeat. I would have written it "tacit" (indeed, I did so several times, quite recently, in an orchestra playing Lebanese music in which everyone had the same single-line music, and we had to mark it up to remind ourselves when to play and when not to play...hence the tacit--er, tacets). No oompah-ing in this band.
[Note to Ultra Vi...winds, especially trombones, may have to use a soft tongue on slurred notes]
Hey, I just realized, that clue is off. The tuba says "oom" and the trombones and trumpets reply "pah-pah."

Snipe--right (I had the same reaction the first time I saw this one). I remember being a tenderfoot boy scout (that's about as far as I got in that bastion of conformity) and being taken on a snipe hunt. Loads of fun but, ultimately, a wild goose chase.

I'm Hip--My favorite "I'm Hip" line (from the song, "I'm Hip," by Dave Frishberg): "I even call my girlfriend 'man,' 'cause I'm hip..."

Alou--sigh. Another reminder that The Expos (and Vladimir Guerrero) have left Montreal. Remember Matty Alou and the crazy way he choked halfway up the bat? And does anyone know the Expos' French nickname (also used in English in these parts)?

How's that for random and ridiculous!? (And what's that combined punctuation mark called?)

Rock rabbit 10:09 PM  

Hi Trish! Thanks for the help with turnpike (TPKE). I'm in Laramie!

Anonymous 7:56 PM  

Eleven + Twelve equals 23

My question how can it be
Oceans 22?

Waxy in Montreal 8:47 PM  

It's Oceans Eleven doubled = Twenty-Two.

And the Expos are still "Nos Amours" way up here...

jae 1:59 AM  

This puzzle did not seem quite like a Tuesday to me. Reading Mike Nothnagel's comment sort of explains it. The theme was very Tuesday. Easy play on well known movies. The fill was more Wednesday/Thursday (e.g. ULAN, ETSEQ, TYRA, TACET, RELO, SLUR, SNIPE, IAGO).

Eiger Sanction is a very fine film. Twisty plot!

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