SUNDAY, Jun. 24, 2007 - Eric Berlin

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Relative Difficulty: Medium

THEME: "No Appointment Necessary" - circled squares inside of long theme answers spell out the names of famous doctors; 65A: Alternative title for this puzzle ("The Doctor Is In")

The only time I've ever seen a THE DOCTOR IS IN sign is in "Peanuts." That did not keep me from liking this puzzle. I did not think the circled squares spelled anything for a while because although I could see SEUSS in 23A, I could not make sense of the M, C, C, O, Y sequence embedded in 39A. Clearly I wasn't trying very hard. Even after I got that it was a name, McCOY, it took me a couple seconds to think of who the hell DOCTOR MCCOY was. "Bones!"

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Wall Street worker (SEcUritieS analySt) => SEUSS
  • 39A: Broadway's "The Producers," e.g. (MusiCal COmedY) => MCCOY
  • 50A: They might come back to haunt you (FAmoUS lasT words) => FAUST
  • 84A: Appetizers served with sauce (ShrimP cOCKtails) => SPOCK (SPOCK and MCCOY ... nice)
  • 91A: It might go in a tank (WATerSOfteNer) => WATSON
  • 109A: Elizabeth Dole once led it (DEpartMENT Of Labor) => DEMENTO (worst doctor ever)
Only a few problem areas. The first one was my own fault for not reading the clue correctly. Didn't note the plural "dogs" in 1A: Dogs named for a region of Japan and thought "the only answer I can think of is AKITA, and it doesn't fit." AKITAS, however, fit nicely; eventually. Never been in the military, so don't understand how NCO is the answer to 37D: It's below grade one: Abbr. Or is that even a military reference? SANA (78A: Yemen's capital) is one of those four-letter world capitals I always forget, like SUVA and APIA. Had to get it from crosses.

Did anyone, anywhere, ever, see "I'M NOT Rappaport" (68D: "_____ Rappaport")? I didn't. I could barely, barely retrieve it from my pop culture memory bank. That has got to be the Worst Title ever conceived for a movie.

The two real sticking points for me in this puzzle involved the following longish answers:

53D: Stinging jellyfish (sea nettle)
82D: Afternoon event (tea dance)

First, never heard of either of them. Second, the crosses were not behaving in a couple of instances. With SEA NETTLE, there was a (surprise) governmental abbreviation I couldn't retrieve at the first "E" cross: 57A: Great Society agcy. (OEO) - that's "Office of Economic Opportunity," for those of you (like me) born after the Johnson administration. Then there was the fact I couldn't spell MASERATI correctly (74A: Car that won the 1939 and '40 Indy 500). I had MASARATI (side note: I did get one Italian language answer correct: 113D: First word of Dante's "Inferno" (Nel) - helps that I teach it every year in a facing page Italian-English edition). So I tried all kinds of stuff for SEA NETTLE. With the missing E's it kept wanting to be SKANATTLE - the NY city of Skaneateles kept interfering with my thought processes.

As for TEA DANCE - I don't know. I called my wife over for a consult on this one. I had TEA DAN-- but couldn't get the last two letters because crosses wouldn't obey. Turns out the answer I had running parallel to TEA DANCE in the far SW was very wrong. 102D: Wash out (fail) - I resent this little trap, as clearly the best FA- answer for this clue is FADE, which I had firmly in place, so the final -CE from TEA DANCE wouldn't work. Wife suggested FADE might be FAIL. Wife was right. I said "TEA DANCE? Really? What's that?" Wife: "An afternoon event." Me: "Where, in Victorian novels?" Wife: "I'm pretty sure I've seen one in Jane Austen somewhere." Me: "OK, as long as we're agreed the answer is not from reality." In truth, we don't really know what a TEA DANCE is.

Weird coincidence of the day. As I've said, I'm reading my way through the Bible over the course of one year. Yesterday's assignment was Genesis 24-25, which contains the story of Jacob and (crossword stalwart) ESAU. ESAU's selling his birthright for lentils was the very last thing I read yesterday. I did the puzzle shortly thereafter and found not only 10D: Mess of pottage buyer (Esau) but 61D: 10-Down's father (Isaac). I have to say ... pottage of lentils is not a very compelling reason to sell your birthright. Couldn't the writers have come up with a more plausible motivation? I'm realizing more and more, as I read, that the Old Testament cares not for verisimilitude and psychological plausibility. Things are how they are. God didn't like Cain's offering. Why? Who knows? Noah cursed Ham for seeing him naked (or for telling his brothers he'd seen Noah naked, or for failing to cover Noah himself - it's not clear to me). Why? Guys must have seen each other naked from time to time. Was Noah embarrassed because he'd been drunk off his ass? See, I find myself wanting a STORY, but the O.T. is like "shut up and read, literature boy!" And so I read.

Think I'll read some more now.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Linda G 9:54 AM  

Your Bible reading is going to make for some good blog stories. Too funny, literature boy.

I also had FADE instead of FAIL for the longest time. In fact, it was so set in my mind that I referenced the answer as FADE. Had to go back and change that.

Couldn't see McCoy with MC*O* and wouldn't believe that 42D could be such a simple answer as YES.

Fitzy 10:10 AM  

All in all I thought this was a fun puzzle too... took a while to work out the theme... at first did not understand what "DEMENTO" had to do w/ not needing an appt... yes, seeing MCCOY and SPOCK together in the same puzzle was thrown off when I asked the Yememi owner in the grocery store what the capital of his country was and he spelled it SANAA with two a's... but this got me thinking about other possibilities like the name of the I went back and he told me RIAL...also I thought the grp in DaVinci code was the priory of ZION w/ a "z", so that threw me off bigtime...I saw I'M NOT Rappaport on B'way w/ Judd Hirsch... the title comes from an old vaudville skit... it was written by Herb Gardener who is more famous for A Thousand Clowns... the title makes more sense if you see the joke (an old man who mistakes another for his old friend and how everything about him has changed...including
apparently, in the punchline, his name) in the context of this bittersweet play/movie about the effects of old age...

Pete M 10:16 AM  

I wasn't all that comfortable with OEO or SANA, but they fit the crosses. My sticky section was that Northern California spot with AFTRA, MAYORS, IMPUTE, and NOEL crossing TYPES and ROULETTE. The acrosses (something plural and some game that ends in -ETTE) just wasn't giving me enough to go on. I kept trying MASONS or MAJORS coming down, to no avail. And I'm not particularly fond of Union abbreviation clues, as you either know them or you don't, there's no logic or confirmation.

Wendy 10:18 AM  

Rex, I'm guessing that the I'M NOT RAPPAPORT they were going for was the long-running Broadway play version, for which Judd Hirsch received a Tony award. Didn't know they'd adapted it for a movie.

On a related note, Ed Ames makes a surprise reappearance today - he recorded My Cup Runneth Over. My mother played that endlessly in the house growing up - this may have singlehandedly given rise to the expression "gag me with a spoon."

Thought DETAINEE was an unusually resonant word today what with all of the focus on Gitmo at the moment.

I was kind of irked by pluralizing ERIE(S). Is that kosher? Aren't most Indian tribe names assumed to be plural in the singular? Well, I learned something anyway; did not know they were the Cat People.

I have a lot of Dead NETTLE (aka lamium) in my garden, but it has no stinging properties so I'm not sure why it's called that.

My main screw-up was Hymn for NOEL in re: O Sanctissima.
Happy Yemen Day, everyone.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

In the answer key, what is the significance of one clue each day being in gray, with one letter red? Thanks.

Orange 11:02 AM  

anonymous, the first one to submit an apt anagram of the shaded word, starting with the red letter, wins $50.

Actually, that's a lie. It just reflects where the cursor was in the online puzzle when the screen capture was made.

Orange 11:04 AM  

Oh—the I'm Not Rappaport movie was decent. Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis star as the old pals, and Ossie Davis is good in anything.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

So happy I found your site after muddling through on puzzles my own each week! I actually didn't need your help this week!

(FYI) Having several gay friends and neighbors, I knew that a tea dance is a staple afternoon event on gay cruises. Maybe it was something (very) different in Austen!

Isabella di Pesto 11:25 AM  

In Provincetown, Mass., during the summer months, a gay "tea dance" is held every afternoon from 4 pm to 7 pm at The Boat Slip Resort Hotel. The music is not genteel, but pumping, loud rock.

I got the theme right away after filling in 23A, and tried to guess at who all the docs would be in the puzzle. No Dr. Welby or Kildare?

I liked the SERTA- SIESTA clues in the lower right-hand corner, as well as the ATE UP, right next to SHRIMP COCKTAILS.

Fun puzzle.

cara 11:54 AM  

For some insight into the mess of pottage and other mysteries, check out Robert Alter "The Art of Biblical Narrative." the bible IS lit, it turns out ....

I think tea dances also occurred in the states, at least in the south. At least that is how I remember my grandmother and her friends describing the event in Oxford, Mississippi .... the tea dance which the Faulkner family was hosting, and at which a couple young Faulkner boys, interested in taxidermy as they were, messed up a project involving the skunk and "caused a big stink" so to speak, all while the tea dance went on...!

cara 11:57 AM  

Also worth looking at Robert Alter's "translation with commentary" of the five books of moses. His extensive footnotes are largely concerned with things like psychological plausability and motivation .. etc .. I totallly never got it before

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

I think 37D is WRONG if the reference (to NCO) is to "non-commissioned officer". If so the clue should be "above (pay) grade three", which is the dividing line between NCOs and peons. If anyone knows any other meaning that would make Mr. Berlin RIGHT, I'd love to know it. Anyway, got it easily from the crosses.

Karen 12:23 PM  

Why *is* that square red today, instead of blue like usual? Is Rex photoshopping his puzzle?

The spot that stuck me was 'tempter' for which I had SATAN, not SIREN. Somehow the crosses all looked fine in a foreign way.

Alex 12:51 PM  

Can someone explain DANL for "Frontier name, for short?" I feel I must be missing something obvious.

109A was a total gimme ("Elizabeth Dole once ran it") since Department of Transportation and variations on American Red Cross did not fit. So that gave the theme pretty much within 30 seconds of starting the puzzle. I usually just start by skimming the clues looking for any factual ones that jump out at me.

I also had FADE instead of FAIL which kept me from committing to TEA DANCE (new phrase to me) even though it was the only thing that fit.

Wendy 12:54 PM  

Alex, for reasons too mysterious for us to grasp, I'm sure, people like Daniel Boone would have their names pronounced "Dan'l" instead - that frontier drawl, don't you know.

crossnerd 1:21 PM  

SEANETTLE was a sticky spot for me too. I had it filled in from crosses fairly early on, but kept going back and saying to myself, "SEAN ETTLE. SEAN ETTLE can't be right." Doh.

s2007 1:43 PM  

UGHS--that is what tripped me up.I should have been able to get it with the crosses, but I didn't get SMASH or CAGED. The rest was fun and really not too hard. I just don't understand how my own mind works sometimes when I can't figure out what turns out to be relatively simple.

shaun 2:14 PM  

Many a 30-something woman may recall contemplating a tea-length dress for a formal affair (well, prom, or various musical/theatre events) and wondering whether it would be formal enough. I can also recall attending/performing in musical events that would specify "floor-length or tea-length" dresses as acceptable attire. I think "tea-length" means "exposed ankles and a touch of lower calf."

I assume by now the primary rule is just "cover yer ass!"

shaun 2:15 PM  

Oh, and I found the Bill Moyers "Genesis" series somewhat illuminating.

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

dumb question: i only recently got into crosswords. so i want to know why each completed puzzle has one letter colored within a word shaded in grey. what is the significance of the letter and the word?
cheers -- nunyo.

Alex 3:28 PM  

Alex, for reasons too mysterious for us to grasp, I'm sure, people like Daniel Boone would have their names pronounced "Dan'l" instead - that frontier drawl, don't you know.

Ah, that makes sense. Knew it would obvious. But I've never seen that one. Was it once as common as Geo for George and Jos for Joseph?

Those three are just further proof that the people of previous centuries were all a bunch of ADD-addled lazy people. Couldn't even pay attention long enough to get all the way through a person's name.

Scott 3:35 PM  

So we've got an Ed Ames (Mingo) link with My Cup Runneth Over and a Fess Parker link with DAN'L (Parker still signs his winery newsletter "Old Dan'l.") Rex, looks like you'll have to start watching those Daniel Boone reruns after all!

rock rabbit 3:51 PM  

REx, I also missed the "s" at the end of the japanese dog clue, and bumbled along with SHITZU forever(...woulda realized it was wrong if Ida spelt it rite). I had good ole DAN B for a while (seems more straightforward than DAN'L). And I had PALE instead of FAIL for "wash out", so I was trying make up a language called Persi..... Quite a few misstarts, but a fun puzzle anyhoo. I really wanted "carpet choice" to be "shag" -- a false answer that made me happy -- maybe bc it reminds me of the day in 1976 my mom surprised me with a green beanbag chair to go with the orange and marroon shag carpet in my bedroom.... My favorite clue was "frigid finish"! Stay cool everyone!

BigHat 3:53 PM  

Don't like it, but Commissioned Officers start at O-1s (Ensigns or 2Lts). So below grade one would be the Non-commissioned Officers or NCOs.

Howard B 4:41 PM  

When I work a puzzle in AcrossLite, my cursor is bright lime green - should I see a doctor about this? I'm worried about my health and/or taste in colors.

BRinOR 6:04 PM  

Tea dance: very popular in the gay community.

Wendy 6:11 PM  

Howard, any chance you dabbled too much in psychedelia in your younger years? ;)

Maybe it's the Fillmore East (or West) version of AcrossLite. All of those concert posters relied heavily on bright lime green, not to mention tangerine orange and other forms of citrus.

Kitt 6:16 PM  

Nice puzzle! Challenging yet enjoyable. After I got "Spock" and "Seuss" figured out the theme and 65A.

The one answer I HATED (and I'm surprised Rex et al haven't mentioned this so maybe it's just me) 51D "LUTED" Bleck, bleck, bleck, bleck!!!!

You play the lute, whatever people do with a lute. But "lute" as a past tense verb! Bleck! Am I missing something??

Aside from that minor quibble, thanks Eric and Will! Good quality Sunday puzzle with many interesting twists and turns.

blue stater 6:20 PM  

Jeez, I was gonna comment that at last there's an advantage to being a geezer in this crowd, because when I was in prep school long ago we did indeed have tea dances with a neighboring girls' [as we called it, not "young women's"] school. But gay tea dances -- cool idea.

Did anyone ever solve the "It's below grade one" conundrum? As I dimly recall from my equally long-ago brief military career, that clue might have been accurate if it had been "It's below Grade O-1" (pay grade O-1 being, in the Army, 2d lieutenant). But as it is, I agree with anonymous: clearly wrong.

Kitt 6:28 PM  

That's cool Bluestater that you knew tea dances. I for one have learned a lot more about them today by reading this blog.

Are they like tea parties but with loud music?

jlsnyc 7:13 PM  

more on tea dances:

you'll need to cut 'n' paste the link, but you'll read about the mixers that were de rigeur at the naval academy. i went to a women's college in maryland in the late 60s; if you weren't anti-military, an invitation to a navy tea dance was considered a social coup...



Wendy 7:24 PM  

Tea dances appear in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels and stories. And in fact, I just found a 2002 program online for the "Sixth International Conference on F. Scott Fitzgerald in St. Paul" wherein one of the days featured a tea dance from 3-6 p.m. at the Commodore.

Anonymous 8:26 PM  

I guess the clue at 37D should have been either "above grade E-1" or "below grade O-1". So the given clue is WRONG. Mr. Berlin is guilty as charged, without even mentioning "luted".

Orange 8:37 PM  

Wendy, Howard is currently in his younger years!

Oh, yeah—LUTED is icky. It is, however, a real word. I think the clue might be wrong—the transitive verb form may apply only to the second definition of lute, "A substance, such as dried clay or cement, used to pack and seal pipe joints and other connections or coat a porous surface in order to make it tight. Also called luting." Your dentist uses luting agents, and so do some cooks, but musicians might only play a lute rather than engaging in luting action. Then again, this lute player says, "Stop in for a tasty sammitch and some tasty luting!"

Here's the gay tea dance isabella di pesto mentioned above.

KingRoper 8:42 PM  

Ok... a skinless hot dog? Wouldn't that just be a pile of leftover meat? I have never (nor never hope to) see such a thing.

And by defintion, a shrimp cocktail comes IN sauce... It is not served WITH sauce. If it were served WITH, it would just be shrimp.

Howard B 9:14 PM  

Well thanks Orange, I suppose you're only as old as you feel, and as long as we insist on being young, it doesn't matter all that much, does it? :)

But either way, I'm keeping my psychedelic green cursor. Although now that you mention it, I did once own a lime-green lava lamp (both base and lava), and I have been on a bit of a Jimi Hendrix kick lately...

Wendy 10:03 PM  

Well there you go! However old you are now, the lava lamp phase *was* your younger years!

Kitt 10:29 PM  

Thanks, Amy -- that "luted" thing was driving me crazy and I normally don't get that "het up" about things.

You and Rex are the BEST!

Blue Stater 10:34 PM  

For Kitt. Loud music at tea dances? We're talking early 50s here. Glenn Miller records.

I think 37D is a minor blemish on an otherwise pretty good puzzle, my opinion of which is improved by Orange's homework on LUTED.

Kitt 10:40 PM  

I love Amy's explanation but I still don't like "luted."

Now, I'm really done with this issue~

Onto to Monday -- forge ahead!

profphil 11:31 PM  


As I got to the Esau/Isaac answers, I though Rex must be pleased he is reading the Bible. As to Noah and his nakedness, good question. There however is a Midrash (an old Jewish legend that is brought down in Rabbinical Biblical commentaries or the Talmud and often fill in the blanks of the story) that "seeing his father's nakedness" is a euphemism for Ham's either castrating Noah (in order to prevent him from having more children to avoid splitting the world with another sibling) or sodomizing him from behind).

I managed to solve the puzzle without Googling but it took me a loong time. I did have one square wrong: cos instead of Ios.

Why does smash = overhead?

Also remeber the first time I heard of a Gay Tea Dance and thought it was a formal afternoon dance and asked what does one wear to a tea dance picturing the Queen's tea. When in fact all it is, is your typical gay-bar/ latest dance music that you would hear at night but it's earlier in the day. It's a campy way of describing what is really the antithesis of a tea dance of earlier days with its genteelness and decorum.

Michael 2:15 AM  

Just wanna say I enjoy your blog -- I stumbled across it after giving up on a puzzle and searching for answers on the internet. And you often echo my thoughts on the clues, like OEO's in this Sunday puzzle. But I'm in California, so I'm behind and don't get the next day's puzzle around the time you post.

Howard B 9:54 AM  

'Smash' and 'overhead' are both used here as nouns, and are synonyms for a tennis shot where you return a ball that's over your head by swinging the racket high and on a downward angle, 'smashing' the ball into your opponent's side of the court.

Very often finishes off a point in a tennis match, since it's really fast and (ideally) unreturnable. Also rather painful, if you've ever been hit in the head with one.

Gus91039 12:33 PM  

Re Sunday. Under Grade One is ncos. Grade One is a second Lieutenant in the Army. General is Grade Ten

profphil 12:53 PM  

Howard B,

Thanks for the Smash explication. I have only attempted to play tennis once or twice and never followed it as a pro sport. Now, I understand it, I hope I will remember it.

Fergus 12:17 AM  

While LUTED was lame, perhaps LYRED would have been worse.

Anonymous 5:22 PM  

Aww left me gaping, the same clue for both 78A and 75D proved tricky (its meaning eluded me long after I had filled it in) but fair; however, Tear makes little sense when sear is so perfect.

Twain 2:20 PM  

"Tea dance" didn't trip me up, only because I remembered the infamous accident at the tea dance at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, where the overhead walkway collapsed and killed 114 people. See "tea dance" at Wikipedia.

Every shrimp cocktail I've ordered in restaurants had cold "naked" shrimp with cocktail sauce to dip them in; they weren't in the sauce when delivered to the table. Enter "shrimp cocktail" at Google Images and nearly all of them show the sauce separate from the shrimp.

"Water softener" and "Famous last words" were the last ones I cracked, so it took me quite a while to realize all the embedded names were doctors.

cornbread 4:54 PM  

i liked that PHD was right beneath DOCTOR in the grid.

rex, when you get to Samuel in your bible reading adventure, i hope you'll read joseph heller's "god knows."
it's a remarkable retelling by david of the events described in the bible.

Cathkaye 2:32 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathkaye 2:35 AM  

The title of the crossword puzzle in my local paper was "No Appointed", not "No Appointment Necessary". Once I got the "The doctor is in" answer, it occured to me that "No Appointed" could be "No Appointment Needed", with the letters "mentneed" left out.

I also noticed that some of the clues that either begin or end phrases did not have any dashes, but rather just empty space. Examples:
98D: Steak ;
104D: Helens;
103A: In Rush;
12D: Kan pet food.

So, letters were ommitted from the title, and dashes representing missing words were not there at all! Having noticed these incongruities, I could still not see a connection. And it has not been mentioned here. Did anyone else notice this?

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