TUESDAY, Jul. 10, 2007 - Pete Muller

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: 59A: The starts to 17-, 30-, 38- and 47-Across, collectively (song by Paul Simon)

And what is that song...? BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER

17A: Loan to a company before it goes public, say (BRIDGE financing) - not a term I know, because I am Finance-Ignorant in the Xtreme

30A: Spilling out (OVER the edge) - not having looked at the clue, I was puzzled as to why I couldn't get "OVER THE HEDGE" to fit. That's what happens when you have a little girl who loves animated feature films.

38A: Periods of unrest (TROUBLED times)

47A: Remover of impurities (WATER filter)

Now that I look at this grid in the clear light of morning, I see that it is fantastic. Almost no boring or tired fill, and a clever theme gimmick. I always think of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" as a Simon & Garfunkel song, though I guess Simon wrote it, so the answer's fair. Poor Art. Speaking of Paul Simon, apparently he is doing mini-concerts in support of Chris Dodd's presidential campaign in Iowa. Just a bit of trivia for those of you who don't listen to NPR's "All Things Considered."

Some answers I loved:

3D: Racing feat (triple crown) - the clue's a bit tepid, but the answer's lively, with lots of mid-range Scrabble letters (P, C, W).

39D: Harsh and metallic (brassy) - What would you describe this way? I always think of BRASSY (when I think of it, which is admittedly rarely) as an adjective for a person, namely an annoying blonde. But blondes aren't "metallic" ... exactly. Maybe harsh sounds are described as BRASSY.

47D: Home mixologist's spot (wet bar) - haven't heard the phrase (much) since we moved into my childhood home in Fresno in 1976. It was quite stylin' for its time, in that it had a WET BAR, as well as an outdoor barbecue pit and a pool house with a sauna. Parents turned that wet bar into a pantry real quick, which in retrospect seems a real shame, although one should probably be grateful for having non-alcoholics for parents.

56A: Place to shop in Tokyo (ginza) - not sure why I know this answer, but it pleases me - sounds like something tasty to eat while simultaneously reminding me of the GINSU knife ads of my childhood. Took a while to get as I had FOLD for FAIL (49D: Go bankrupt), and so had GL--A staring at me for a bit.

In fact, that SE was a bit of a struggle - the only one in the whole grid. Not having that "Z" made it hard to get ZIMA (58D: Coors brand) - does anyone actually drink that crap? It was already a joke drink by the mid-90's. Anyway, the other troubling bits down here were 67A: Pour out from (empty) - a clue that still seems off to me - and 64D: Carrie of "Creepshow" (Nye). I know Bill NYE the Science Guy, and that is all the NYEs I know. Lastly, for some reason, even though I knew OTT (63D: Baseball's Master Melvin), I balked at filling it in, mainly because I'd never seen the word "Master" attached to him. Makes him sound like a rapper. Master Melvin's cigarette of choice: Chesterfield.

Nice to see ITASCA (26A: Lake that is a source of the Mississippi) atop TOD (34A: Director Browning), two answers I learned from doing crosswords this past year. My only real complaint about today's puzzle is all the abbrev.'s, including BPOE (55D: Fraternal org.), NTSB (54A: Crash-probing agcy.), LDS (53A: Mormons, initially), and NSEC (57D: Tiny fraction of a min.). Other than that, the puzzle's quite sweet. Tuesdays are hard to pull off - some of the puzzles I have hated most have been Tuesdays - so I'm impressed.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Wade 9:11 AM  

Nice to see a puzzle-maker standing up for the original meaning of EFFETE, a word that is misused so often now as a synonym for "effeminate" that it's probably pretty much close to a lost cause.

I agree that Art gets short shrift. It's a beautiful song, but I think it's a lesser song when anyone besides Art sings it.

On Tod Browning, I think he directed the original "Dracula" back in the twenties or thirties, but for awhile on Turner Classic Movies they were showing "Freaks," which is the creepiest movie ever made, hands down (pun intended if you've seen the movie.)

Alex 9:19 AM  

I normally don't like abbreviations but was fine with them today since three of the four are real used abbreviations and not just some made up abbreviation.

I don't think I've really ever seen nsec for nanosecond but LDS is very common and most people probably recognize NTSB and don't even know what it stands for. BPOE is less common but nicely old fashioned.

My grandfather was an Elk; I don't think I've ever known a contemporary of mine to be a member of that or a similar organization. I wonder if they are dwindling away.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  


NTSB stands for National Transportation Safety Board.

BPOE stands for Benevolen and Protective Brotherhood of Elks.

Howard B 9:50 AM  

Remember seeing "Freaks" on a friend's self-copied VHS cassette sometime in my teens. There's nothing quite like it; a pretty fascinating piece of work, especially considering the time.
Used to be that you had to find a bootleg copy of it, before it was in wider release.
Imagine - circus sideshow 'freaks' are people too, with the same faults and idiosyncrasies... who'd have thought it? Extreme stuff for the 1930's.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Master Meilvin was Ott's nickname, so that was actually a nice historical reference. http://www.baseball-reference.com/o/ottme01.shtml

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Carrie Nye was the late wife of Dick Cavett. She was a sort of Tallulah Bankhead Southern type. Very husky, throaty voice. Died fairly recently.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

I assume it was just a typo, but BPOE actually stands for Benevolent and Protective Brotherhood of Elks.

Didn't like POL and CTR, and have no clue what LDR (Mormons, initially) stands for.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Oops, made a typo myself. Meant to say: what does LDS stand for?

Alex 10:23 AM  

The official name of the Mormon church is: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Members are, in my experience, much more likely to self reference as LDS than Mormon.

Alex 10:23 AM  

In case the bolding doesn't show up like I wanted to: LDS is short for Latter Day Saints.

Wade 10:24 AM  

Alex, I've wondered about the current state of the Elks and other fraternal organizations that were strong in my hometown when I was a kid in the seventies/eighties (Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, Woodmen of the World.) I just did a gloss of some of them on Wikipedia, and there's no mention of dying membership, but I know that in my hometown the only club that still thrives with new, younger members is the Rotary Club, probably because (i) it is coed (so "fraternal" isn't the right way to describe it, I suppose) and (ii) it is set up as a way to share business contacts as well as community service. I was surprised at how many of the clubs started in Chicago.

Linda G 10:42 AM  

I work for a nonprofit, and we regularly get donations from these groups who are active in our not-too-large community. Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis (oh, my!) are the biggest organizations and very much in the public eye...their members appear to range in age from mid-20s up, with many in their 40s. That's young, in case any of you are wondering ; )

BTW, I agree...fun puzzle and a nice theme. I've been singing it ever since I solved.

crossnerd 10:53 AM  

As usual, you've pointed out some stuff I missed while looking through it myself... GINZA does look awfully nice there, and I do like TRIPLECROWN.

Re: ZIMA: Most college kids won't buy the stuff because it's an inefficient source of alcohol (too much cost for too little drunk). If college kids aren't drinking it, I don't know who is.

triplerose 11:44 AM  

Isn't it Benevolent and Protective ORDER of Elks? Otherwise, why BP"O"E?

Michael 11:46 AM  

I've not only never heard of Hall-of-Famer Mel Ott described as Master, I've never heard of him as Melvin either.

The intersection of NTSB and BPOE was just cruel. Cut me like a Ginzu knife.

shaun 12:30 PM  

'Poor Art' -- nuthin' . You probably know that the BOTW album was their big farewell, and poor Paul sounds so heartbroken on Frank Lloyd Wright and Only Living Boy in New York that I've always felt some serious schadenfreude towards Art. I can only forgive him because Paul obviously does.

Rex Parker 1:02 PM  

... and because your God commands it... right?

I don't think I've ever heard BOTW (the whole album, that is). I'll have to check that out.


frances 1:20 PM  

Alex and Wade--

In his 2001 book "Bowling Alone", a Harvard sociology professor named Robert Putnam decried the decline of social and interest-based organizations like Lions, Shriners, BPOE, etc as indicating a diminished sense of community and loss of social networks. The title referred to a major decline, nationwide, in bowling leagues.

Years ago, when you drove into a small or medium-sized town, there would be a big sign giving the location and the day for the weekly meeting of a number of fraternal organizations. You seldom see these any more, and when you do, it's usually just Rotary or, more rarely, Kiwanis.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

Being old and having grown up in Brooklyn gives one the huge advantage of having heard Red Barber call the Dodgers' games on the radio. Especially memorable were the confrontations between the Bums (Dodgers) and the Jints (Giants) led by their hall-of-famer Master Melvin (Mel Ott). Barber had coined nicknames for many of the local heroes, including Little Colonel (Hall-of-Famer Peewee Reese - Dodger shortstop). Also colorful terms describing baseball action: Can of Corn (easy fly ball to the outfield) and Tearin' Up the Peapatch (rallying). Ah the good old days.

Nitpicker 2:08 PM  

small nit:

.com alternative is .org - where do i put the . ?

Fergus 2:28 PM  

BOTW, I seem to recall, had "The Boxer" and "Cecilia" which had more fascination than a WET BAR to an impressionable 12 year-old -- probably since they both alluded to the sex trade.

Concur that EMPTY was really the only vacant answer. ETCH was clever for 18D Impress clearly -- I sat with STUN for too long.

I've always regarded EFFETE to mean rather bookish, abstract, afraid to get one's fingernails dirty, rather than a flouncy, girlish type.

And on the LDS theme, and with no disrespect intended, I saw a quote from Mark Twain yesterday in which he described the Book of Mormon as "chlorophorm on paper." I'm sure that ingratiated him with the LDS crowd.

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

59D "ska"???
51 D "ingle"???
Everyone got those???

Orange 3:51 PM  

INGLE is old-school crossword pantheon material. We don't see it too often any more, which is fine with me.

As for SKA, read about it at Wikipedia. Remember the '80s hit, "Our House," by Madness? Madness started out as ska, Wikipedia tells me, but went more poppy by the time "Our House" came out. More recently, there's Gwen Stefani's band, No Doubt—apparently also ska-influenced.

David 3:56 PM  

Nice theme, yes, but man did this seem hard for a Tuesday! Struggled in several areas. Certainly have never heard of "ingle", (even though the term has been around since 1508 according to Webster) though finally managed it from the crosses. But wasn't crossing the obscure "ginza" with the indeterminant clue "Fraction of a min." AND an obscure drink brand just nasty?

David 3:59 PM  

PS. Just which "old school" of crosswords in ingle from? I've been doing the NYT's one pretty religiously (like a good LDS?) for ~10 years and don't remember ever seeing it.
Of course there are lots of other things I don't remember too :(.

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

I'm always excited to see "ska" in the grid. To the poster to whom it was unfamiliar, I recommend digging up a clip of Desmond Dekker on youtube or, if you want lasting joy, buying the 4-CD set "History of Jamaican Music," the first CD of which is a great survey of early ska. Ska influenced, and was influenced by, a lot of different genres, but there's really nothing like it.

green mantis

Anonymous 4:35 PM  

Ingle is an old English term for hearth. In old houses, the hearth was often set in a small alcove with built-in bench seats and was called an inglenook.

Orange 6:47 PM  

Which old-school crosswords? Older than 10 years, that's for sure. I learned the word when cutting my teeth on crosswords in the '80s.

Wendy 6:56 PM  

Carrie Nye (Cavett) actually played Tallulah Bankhead once in a made-for-TV movie called The Scarlett O'Hara War, about the casting of the Scarlett role. I never saw it and it doesn't seem to be available at netflix but it was acclaimed. The thing I remember most about her was how much Cavett adored her; he talked about her a lot.

Kick-ass puzzle today. I'm liking the relative hardness of Mon and Tues this week. STREETLAMPS was nifty; I have one in front of my house here in beautiful Akron, Ohio.

Bridge over Troubled Water was such an amazing album. The Only Living Boy in New York is a masterpiece; I remember it was used to great effect in the soundtrack of the Zach Braff flick Garden State, probably the first time a lot of people had heard it, and the first time I had in a long time. It almost stunned me, I remember, the way it was used in the particular scene, although I don't remember precisely what was happening in it. I think I got all teary.

DONALD 8:52 PM  

Nitpicker said...
small nit:

.com alternative is .org - where do i put the . ?

In the Sunday 07.06.07 puzzle -- 94-Across (which follows EDU clue).

nitpicker 1:21 AM  

donald -

exactly, thx! :-)

Anonymous 7:59 PM  

Can anyone explain Nascar DAD?

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