WEDNESDAY, Jun. 20, 2007 - Bonnie L. Gentry and Victor Fleming

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Relative difficulty: Hard

THEME: T-SQUARE - 19A: Draftsman's tool (and a hint to this puzzle's theme)

You'd think with all the free T's this puzzle would be a cinch. Not for me it wasn't. I got absolutely brutalized in the NW corner, by what I think is some (Freaky) Friday-ish fill. I also thought my far west was all screwed up, but it turns out I guessed the doctor name right, thank god. I should have known this puzzle was going to be trouble with 1A: With 1-Down, 1982 Richard Pryor/Jackie Gleason film ("The / Toy") - an answer I knew, and was proud of knowing, but one that heralded a certain willingness to go into some weird-ass territory. "The Toy" was not exactly a career-defining moment for either Gleason or Pryor. Sheesh. Then there was 3D: Old N.Y.C. lines (els) - I had no idea there were ELS anywhere outside of Chicago (or the PGA tour...). But still, I guessed it right. When I got to 14D: Gridiron formation, however, the wheels sort of came off. I watch a lot of football, and I can't remember hearing of the WINGED T formation. I sort of pieced it together from WING, but ... ugh. And then the answer that completely screwed me up - and it's painful to say this, because, in general, I love Carly Simon. But, from the same insane 80's pop culture vortex as "The Toy" comes 4D: Title guy in a 1980 Carly Simon hit (Jesse). First I had JERRY (Jerry Brown ... didn't she sing a song about Jerry Brown, or at least date Jerry Brown?). Then I had JERRE. Then I had ... nothing. I was so certain about those R's that I didn't question them. It seems to me really rare that I would have two letters wrong, both supremely plausible in the crosses:

  • 16A: "Understood!" ("Yes, I see") - this is so made-up! I had the off-yet-ballparkish YESIREE, which, once I put it in, was locked in for good. My short-lived early guess was "YES, MA'AM"
  • 18A: Iran-Contra grp. (NSC) - I @#$-ing hate governmental abbreviations. I had NRC, thinking "National Republican Committee" - forgetting that they aren't called that; they're called the "Republican National Committee." Idiot. NSC = National Security Council.
Not a lot else to say about this puzzle. Shouldn't it be called "T-SQUARES," plural? There's the square (diamond) in the middle, and then T's at the corners forming a larger, grid-sized square.


  • 20D: 1974 Medicine Nobelist George (Palade) - this seems like super-specialized knowledge? Am I wrong?
  • 10D: Iroquois and others (Amer-Indians) - how are these different from "American Indians" or "Native Americans?" And can someone please tell me why the Cleveland Indians still have smiley-Joe Redface (actual name: Chief Wahoo!) as their mascot? It's @#$-ing embarrassing. Imagine a similar caricature of a black person, or Chinese person, and you'll see what I mean. How about a compromise, where you get to keep your name, but ditch the racist caricature? Even if you hate "Political Correctness," you have to admit this red-faced toon is manifestly, objectively demeaning. I really really like the Indians as a team right now, and it's a huge distraction to have to look at that damned, insulting cartoon face every time I watch their games.
Formerly Unknown:

  • 54D: Faulkner's _____ Varner (Eula)
  • 57D: Wall St. action (LBO)

Both would have stumped me six months ago, but now I have their number(s).

I was really happy to see BUELLER (56A: Ferris in film). Right in my pop culture sweet spot (saw that movie in the theater when I was 16). Often in class, when I ask a question and get no response, I'll just start saying, in monotone, "Bueller? ... Bueller? ..." I love making about 3.5 people out of 150 laugh. 17A: Like a band of Amazons (manless) seems a little weirdly phrased to me. Is MANLESS really a word? And what if the "band" has a male captive with them? CROSS A T (52A: Attend to the final detail) also seems slightly off. First, there should be a "so to speak" on the end of the clue, as it's a metaphor - unless you are writing something in a weird style wherein you leave all i's undotted and t's uncrossed til the end. Second, the "A" is odd. It's so, well, indefinite (which I believe is why they call it an "indefinite article"). I had trouble with ACETIC (36A: Like vinegar) because sciencey words are hard for me to a. remember, and b. spell. Finally, the best answer in the grid, and possibly the best answer of June, is 41D: "_____ Cheerleaders" (1977 film) ("Satan's") - because it's shamelessly obscure, because it's supremely trashy, and because it picks up on a mini-highschool/college theme in this puzzle (with BUELLER, ALGEBRA, ELI, ESSAY, and TPS).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Linda G 11:45 PM  

I forgot to rant about YES I SEE. I also had YESIREE, but I knew the Carly Simon song so was able to climb out of that trap. IMOO, it wasn't one of her best, but damn it, now it's stuck in my mind!

Thanks for saying what I felt about AMERINDIANS, the mascot, etc. I often lack the balls to speak up about things like that, so I'm always happy when someone else does.

Orange 12:38 AM  

I love it that you'll pull out a "Bueller? Bueller?" in class. (I linked to that line, among others, on YouTube. Loved that movie! I also loved Election, but it destroyed the crush that Matthew Broderick fomented as Ferris Bueller.)

Hard to believe the Cleveland Indians haven't changed their logo/mascot, if not their team name.

profphil 1:20 AM  


I believe Linda Ronstad dated Jerry Brown, although maybe Carly did too.

I'm glad I'm in good company. I found the puzzle really hard but stuck with it and actually solved it without Googling (except to check at the end for Eula, I had Bula first). I remembered you talking about Eula in an earlier blog but couldn't remember if it was Eula or Bula. As I did not pick up on Crimson being Harvard I thought maybe it was a pirate ship and went with Bli (Bligh) as Crimson foe. Had fun with it though.

DONALD 1:23 AM  

Agreed! A change of face would be welcome -- the Cleveland Indians team could use:

Scott 7:11 AM  

An interesting sub-pattern: at each corner of the central square, in one cross the T stands by itself and is not a part of a word:


Michael 8:48 AM  

Either I'm getting better at solving, or that third glass of wine makes the difference, because (he said sheepishly) I thought this one was pretty easy for a Wednesday. As soon as I got the joke things fell pretty fast. I had CROSS Ts for awhile instead of CROSS A T but gave up on it. Interesting how many multi-word answers we had today. Almost got hung up on SATANS, but just went with it and it unraveled nicely. I also have never heard of the formation referred to as a WINGED T--I usually see it without the ED. Compiler's license, I guess.

Norrin2 9:04 AM  
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Norrin2 9:05 AM  

1.)Doesn't "yessiree" have two esses?
2.)Is this the same Bobbie Gentry who sang "Ode to Bille Joe"?

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Celebrity/Songwriter Relationships

Linda Ronstadt/Jerry Brown
Linda Ronstadt/Bob Kerrey (he also dated Debra Winger)
Carly Simon/James Taylor (also Warren Beatty, but who didn't?)

Let's keep this straight, people!

Howard B 9:44 AM  

Rex, you had the exact same trouble I did, for the same exact reasons. Eerie. Fun theme, and a fun puzzle, but that's some nasty answers for a mid-week puzzle there. Either that or I've fallen into the "No fair, I didn't know it" trap. Never heard YES I SEE in really any context except as a part of a longer sentence, but it makes perfect sense for the clue, so that seems like fair game.
Oh well. All set for Thursday - bring it on! :)

Orange 9:55 AM  

Norrin, Bobbie Gentry had that "Ode to Billy Joe" song. BONNIE L. Gentry makes crosswords. The Times goofed on the byline.

Pete M 10:33 AM  

I had YESIREE too, but I was immediately suspicious since I felt it needed an extra 'S' and since I worked from the bottom up and knew there was already a SIRE in the puzzle.

Had ALEA/NSA instead of ALEC/NSC also. Hate it when abbreviations cross names. Too many seemingly viable possibilities.

Jerome 10:39 AM  
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Norrin2 11:53 AM  

The NY Times made a mistake??! Well, I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

I don't have to imagine a similar caricature of an Irishman.

Alex 12:18 PM  

Everything was easy except the NW where I found JAI, JESSE (I don't even know who Carly Simon is beyond a guest appearance on Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me a few months ago), ALEC, and ILE completely resisted focus. I had a hell of a time for some reason coming up with OIL WELL even after I had OIL----. And putting WEDGED T instead of WINGED T really screwed things up solid.

I initially had YESIREE too, but quickly wanted YES I SEE, but neither fit with WEDGED T (I don't know football formations but do know there is a wedge formation).

I like that TAT, TIT, TOT, and TUT are all used and wish the constructor could have found a way to use TET to get all the T-T combinations.

While I'm impressed by getting T's into the right spaces I'm more impressed by not having any other T's in the puzzle than in those in those spaces.

I own The Toy on DVD. It is a horrible movie but for some reason it fascinated me as a kid. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the breasts of Teresa Ganzel played a role in that.

Karen 12:36 PM  

Alex, thanks for pointing out the precise placement of the t's.

I had Jerre for the Carly Simon song too. But I had more trouble with the doctor's name.

The Atlanta Braves did away with their un-pc mascot, Chief Noc-a-Homa (and his companion, Princess Win-a-Lotta), but at least he was and actual AMERINDIAN. I do think that's an ugly-looking, if useful, word.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  


Carly Simon was married to james Taylor. They sang some songs together. However she is a composer and singer in her own right. Her songs have been so popular that you have heard them but may not recognize her authorship. "Anticipation" used in the Heinz ketchup commercial. "You're so vain, you probably thing this song is about you..." The song "New Jerusalem" from the soundtrack to "WOrking Girl." Familiar?

Blue Stater 1:18 PM  

Hmmm. Whereas yesterday I was flummoxed by too much popcult crammed into too small a space in a puzzle that most other folks seemed to think wasn't all that hard (save for Rex), I managed to get through today's with no prosthetic devices whatever. I got 12D from the crosses, TPS, but still don't know what the campus prank is (TP in my day stood for Toilet Paper; maybe I shouldn't ask). I share the general view that this was difficult for a Wednesday, but it seems that WS is once again engaged in ratcheting up the difficulty and obscurity of all the puzzles.

profphil 1:23 PM  

Rex, as to "els" elevated "subway" lines in New York City there are plenty of them, especially outside of Manhattan: Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Much of the lines in Queens and the Bronx and some in Brooklyn. There are a few within Manhattan at least around Harlem.

Pete M 1:25 PM  

I got 12D from the crosses, TPS, but still don't know what the campus prank is (TP in my day stood for Toilet Paper; maybe I shouldn't ask).

It means the same today:

campesite 1:41 PM  

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is, to me, the best thing John Hughes ever did (though he did write the first Vacation film). Like many hit films it spawned a crappy sitcom spinoff, a short-lived affair starring Jennifer Aniston.

Alex 1:58 PM  


Thanks for the info but it'll go right out of my head. I don't listen to music. At all and never have. No interest in the stuff so that whole area of pop culture is a black whole for me.

I know random bits and pieces and some things become so big they can't be avoided. But hit songs of 1980 (when I was 6) are definitely out of my range.

I'm sure I would recognize many of her songs as songs I've heard before. I just don't generally know who wrote/sang a song, the lyrics, or the title of the song.

Chip Ahoy 2:18 PM  

This puzzle made me type tit.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Tat for"fashion a doily"!! (34D). That's not in the Oxford English dictionary. You knew this?

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

"Tatting" is a synonym for making lace, altho most doilies are crocheted.
"TPing" is Harvard-style vandalism where wet TP is thrown against the brick walls of old buildings, where it usually sticks until the next rain.
If you want to see a NY elevated train, rent "The French Connection" video, which contains one of the best chase scenes in any film, most of it under an el.

PamJo 5:20 PM  

I was first flummoxed and then bothered by 52A "Cross a t" for attend to the final detail. Even aside from the fact that I have NEVER heard it said that way, I think the expression is necessarily plural (cross all t's)--and usually accompanied by "dot all i's"--to connote the comprehensiveness that the expression signifies. If you're just crossing one t--especially an indefinite t--I think you're doing the opposite of attending to the final detail.

Also, filling in "algebra" made me think of the very funny posts (and comments) on the ubiquity of "bra" in recent puzzles.

Anonymous 5:45 PM  

Turns out that AMERINDIAN is old a term applied to the Native Americans, although I'd never heard it before. The Oxford English Dictionary tracks it back to 1900 with this quotation "The four worlds of widespread Amerindian mythology." Wikipedia has a reference to Amerindian Languages.

I had CROSSTT for awhile, since I've always heard the phrase as "cross the Ts and dot the Is". Since I knew it couldn't be CROSSTS, I though that maybe CROSSTT was a clever way to say Ts, since the TT was sort of plural. I never got CROSSAT, it just isn't any phrase I've ever heard used.

s 8:06 PM  

Wow, I didn't think this one was hard. No erasures at all, but I am still not brave enough to work in pen.

kratsman 8:21 PM  

C'mon, s said, use your pen. May result in a few "write-overs" but at least that way you can see your battle scars.

No one commented on "not" crosssing "not" at 42A/D. Thought that was weird.

Anne 9:33 PM  

Thought today was WAY easier than yesterday...Also didn't like "cross a t"

profphil 1:12 AM  


Idiomatically you are right, however the clue stresses last detail. That is, when you cross your "t"s, the last detail is crossing a "T" even though one would never speak that way in fact that is what one would do, metaphorically.

Ellen 9:16 AM  

Not knowing Carly Simon? Way to make me feel old.

More to the point, Carly Simon's father was "Simon" of Simon & Schuster, who published the first crossword puzzle books.

Anonymous 9:26 PM  

This puzzle seemed to have unlikely T's everywhere, though I know each just dominated a sector. Eli is crossword filler and Eula, southern gothic trash.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

6WL ::::::

Very easy today, just missed the ELI / EULA bit....I was in the South, but not for EULA, for Alabama (wrong Crimson).

Cleveland could change thier name/mascot to AMERINDIANs.

I remember when UCLA and others (1950s) ran Wing formations. Sat in the Stanford Stadium endzone seats for 25 cents (when did my keyboard lose its cents symbol?) to watch. The fan food of choice was someting called an Orange Gremlin.There was the single-wing and the double-wing. Both had a Tailback and a Blockingback. No quarterback. FullBs and HalfBs depending on formation. I never heard "WINGEDT". Perhaps Wing T, but never "winged". But I guess Bobbie and/or Victor must have.....

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Eula crossing Bueller--thats just ugly. And trivial.
As Catherine said yesterday, "I believe proper nouns shouldn't cross. Ever. If they do, it becomes trivia - do you know this person/thing/whatever? Not. A. Fan."
Sound to me like a good rule, Rex.

katya 1:49 PM  

I'm glad to finally see someone nail AMERINDIANS. Since clue wasn't abbreviated I didn't see how answer could be. Very obscure reference B & V!

In spite of that horror, I didn't think today was especially hard. Totally missed Harvard for CRIMSON and got royally ruffled over ELI.

No one has heard of Alec Waugh? Poor guy (writer). There's a new book out about the entire Waugh family ... buncha weirdos, the reviewer implied.

Wonder if anyone else spent years trying to think of a film by Will FERRIS. Duh!

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

For football fans doing the puzzle 6wl, there's a little irony in the WINGED-T answer, seeing that Bill Walsh, the inventor of modern pro offenses died a couple of days ago. Has the WINGED-T been used since the 60's?

stucknkc 6:48 PM  

I need a little help with DIONNE - perhaps that is the surname of a particular set of quintuplets?

Also ILE - huh? French for Isle?

Finally, I pay property taxes on my lot and house, more specifically real property taxes. I suppose LAND should have been easy, regardless LANDTAX strikes me as clumsy.

That's a small quibble. I had a good time with this puzzle.

Waxy in Montreal 9:46 PM  

Hey Stucknkc (and your Royals are worse than our ex-Expos ever were):

Yes, the Dionne quints (pre-fertility drugs) were world famous in the 1930's. Born to a poor franco-Canadian couple in the northern Ontario (Canada), they were made wards of the Ontario government, became a huge attraction (almost zoo-like), appeared in films, etc. Unfortunately, they didn't have normal childhoods because of all the celebrity and had rather tragic lives thereafter. I believe 2 are still alive (in their '70's) here in Quebec.

And, yes, ile is indeed French for island.

Other than a bit of difficulty with 20D (Palade - who?), I thought this was really easy for a Wednesday. Perhaps my Canadian bias is showing as I originally thought 10D was ABORIGINALS as we increasingly call First Nations people up here.

Waxy in Montreal 9:51 PM  

Also re the Dionne quintuplets, please see:

stucknkc 11:06 PM  

A tip of the blue cap, with white, interlocking K and C on the front, to Waxy for the background information on the Dionne quintuplets. Good stuff.

It's the top of the tenth in the Metrodome, we just went up by two on account of a bomb from the rookie Alex Gordon.

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