SUNDAY, Aug. 12, 2007 - Cathy Millhauser

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Lightheaded" - first word in all long theme answers describes a type of moon, clued by 52D: Ralph Kramden catchphrase on old TV ... and a hint to this puzzle's theme ("To the moon!")

Once again, I have had to delete comments from weirdly overzealous commenters who, for some reason, can't wait until my write-up to comment on the Sunday puzzle. I don't care that you get the puzzle on Saturday a.m. and are so bloody excited about it that you just have to tell someone. Don't Tell Me. Even saying anything about the puzzle, Anything, is a massive distraction. Comments section is for commenting on That Day's Puzzle. Why am I having to explain this???

Took me a while to catch the theme, and would have taken much longer if I hadn't gotten 52D fairly early on (third theme entry I got). "Lightheaded" is a Terrible Title for this puzzle. Otherwise, it was a reasonably enjoyable puzzle.

Theme answers:

  • 22A: Tarot reading, crystals, spiritualism, etc. (New Age movements) - MOVEMENTS is completely inapt here. No one would describe Tarot or crystals as MOVEMENTS.
  • 33A: Traditional English festival (Harvest Home) - never heard of it. Got these first two theme answers and had no idea what the hell was going on.
  • 44A: Little John's weapon in Robin Hood legend (quarter staff) - is there another Little John who is not from "Robin Hood legend?"
  • 38D: Proverbial portion (half a loaf) - don't know this expression. Had HALF A LOAD for a bit.
  • 64A: Brooke Shields movie, with "The" ("Blue Lagoon") - gimme gimme gimme. Cheesy gimme.
  • 75A: Its roar is worse than its bite (paper tiger)
  • 94A: Dinner bun (crescent roll)
  • 103A: Hair removal site (waxing salon) - they have salons just for waxing now!?
  • 119A: 1987 Kubrick film ("Full Metal Jacket") - another movie gimme; really helped me out.

There was some tricky stuff up top - I had NEB. for 6D: Sen. John Kerry served there ('Nam), which is a very nice trap [if you don't know the difference between John Kerry and Bob Kerrey - see Comments], but I gotta object to the slangy NAM, which is not quite the same as the abbreviation implied by the clue's use of "Sen." Had KEEN for WEEP (26A: Mourn audibly) which screwed some things up. Thought GO SEE (13D: Start of a referral) was pretty stretchy, if strangely interesting. Real snag happened in the NW, where I had ETHOS instead of ETHIC (14A: Body of precepts), giving me SENSE for CENSE (18D: Perfume, in a way). Having the wrong CPLS for CPOS (29A: U.S.N. noncoms) gave me the hideous ODIL-S for 17D: See red, talk a blue streak, etc. (idioms). Not sure how I extricated myself from that one.

Next tricky part was the whole "California" portion of the puzzle, starting with ENFIELD (87A: Northernmost borough of London), which I'd never heard of - it's an awfully British puzzle in some ways, now that I look at it. 80D: Hiram Walker, for one (distiller) was the last thing I filled in. The intersections with ENFIELD and LATIN (97A: Exempli gratia, e.g.) were what was holding me up. While we're down here, let me just say that I love love love the NILLA / AXILLA nexus (117A: Nabisco's _____ wafers and 98D: Underarm).

Final sticking point was in the far SE, where TOODLEOO (125A: "Ta-ta") took far too long to come to me, largely because I'd forgotten about JOY (122D: Procter & Gamble detergent) and LEON (115D: Province NW of Madrid) was completely unknown to me. I'd also forgotten 112A: "South Pacific" role (Emile). I like the fancy ELYSIAN for 128A: Like a paradise.

More unknowns:

  • 106A: Composer Franz (Lehar) - ??
  • 30A: Wheel on a spur (rowel) - looks like a typo of any number of words
  • 25A: Jack who played a sawmil worker in "Twin Peaks" (Nance)
  • 91A: Elongated marine fish (eelpout) - who named that!? Horrible.
  • 11D: Spiritual path in Hinduism (Tantra) - mistakenly thought TANTRA was Buddhist (!)
  • 35D: Boring tool (trepan) - actually, I knew this (with help of some crosses), but only because it has been in the puzzle before

Unwelcome crosswordese:

  • 92D: Singer with the double-platinum album "The Memory of Trees" (Enya) - god, the title alone makes me want to punch her
  • 108A: Seed cover (aril) - I always want to call it ANIL
  • 86D: French town on the Vire (St. Lo) - more French includes 124A: Capital of France's Aube department (Troyes), and sort of, 116D: W.W. II arena (ETO)

Liked the double-Greekness of AGORA (60D: Old Greek market) and ODEA (53D: Ancient theaters). Also like that I got totally faked out by 99A: Abbr. on Rockies skeds (MST), thinking the clue had to do with baseball. Happy not to get thrown by the shifty 104D: Centaur's head (soft C). I think that's all. Nope - gotta give out a shout out to Nelson ALGREN (58D: Nelson _____, author of "The Man With the Golden Arm"), if only because I have a copy of this book in my paperback collection. Oh, and I almost forgot. Didn't know 46D: Alice of "Hollywood Cavalcade" (Faye), though she is apparently famous enough to have an entire DVD collection devoted to her.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

41 comments:

Orange 12:12 AM  

People who wish to write about a crossword before a particular blogger has covered it are welcome to start their own blogs. It's easy. Even a monkey can start a blog.

You missed Alice FAYE's last crossword appearance during Christmas vacation. Her name is pig Latin for phallus!

I've seen trepans at a surgical museum (embrace the horror in these pictures). So handy for drilling holes in people's heads!

Music, music. Ezio Pinza was famous for playing EMILE. Franz LEHAR has a crossword-friendly name—you haven't seen the last of him. My dad liked ENYA—angry man, loved him some bad New Age music. (Tesh? Yanni? I think he liked 'em both. This was some years after his Sheena Easton infatuation, of course.)

Alex 1:27 AM  

Grew up playing acey deucy with my grandmother.

Based on the fact that never in my life have I come across someone outside my family familiar with this backgammon variant I had long ago decided that maybe my grandmother had just made it up so you wouldn't have to remember how to start the board for backgammon.

Quite a surprise to see it in the puzzle.

After having troubles with last Tuesdays puzzle the rest of the week has been really easy for me, including this Sunday puzzle. I had filled in the entire top half before running into any real problem.

Another thing that maybe is just my family but I've always considered crescent rolls to be a breakfast item. We never made them at any other time of the day (Pillsbury from the cool popping tube, of course).

GK 1:37 AM  

Best clue in the puzzle, good for a LOL: "Exempli gratia, e.g."

Stephen 1:56 AM  

I've never seen The BLUELAGOON, although I feel "Top Secret!" taught me enough about it. The latter is the best Zucker/Abrahams movie with an exclamation point in the title (Airplane!, Hot Shots!, etc.).

Of the Kubrick oeuvre, I much prefer The SHINING to FULLMETALJACKET.

Anonymous 2:03 AM  

...and some monkeys have!

profphil 2:03 AM  

Rex,

I believe Tantra is both Hindu and Buddhist. As Buddha was originally a Hindu much of Buddhism is a radical reformation of Hinduism. Much of Buddhist terminology is therefore also Hindu terminolgy. Hinduism was also changed by Buddha and Buddhism, without becoming Buddhist, which is one reason that Buddhism almost doesn't exist in India. In many ways it is analogous to Judaism and Christianity. Christianity radically reformed Judaism and became a new religion, yet it also influenced Judaism without it becoming Christianity. Although most original "Christians" were Jews living in the the land of israel, this was not the case within a 100 years where their presence was no longer felt and the vast majority of Christians were Gentiles living ouside the Land of Israel.

Doug 3:48 AM  

'Uncle!' the exasperated crosser cried. "What the heck is a "SOFTC?"' he cried, laying defeated on the ground, wondering if "CENTAUR" means something besides the mythical half-man, half-horse. Any help?

Nice puzzle but it seems the author had to dig deeply into the obscure parts of the dictionary to complete this one. EELPOUT? LEHAR? OONA? ROWEL?

I would complain about YMA Sumac but after looking her up in Wikipedia and seeing that she's been on Letterman, well she's officially part of modern American culture and a legitimate answer. What a coincidence that she has been in films about recent clues Secret of the INCAs and OMAR KHAYYAM.

Doug 3:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Mc 4:00 AM  

Doug: SOFTC is a good example of an evil and semi-common answer. In the clue [Centaur's head?], the "?" signals some misdirection. In this case, it means that we look at the "head" (first letter) of the word "centaur", which indeed is a SOFT C sound.

Rex: perhaps you are confusing Bob Kerrey (D-NEB) with John Kerry (D-Ma)? In any case, both served in NAM.

-Tom Mc

Doug 6:43 AM  

Doh! Thanks TM

Rex Parker 7:27 AM  

Yes, I COMPLETELY confused the Kerr(e)ys, probably because I had "N" in the first position before I ever read the clue, and so I thought "Oh, that must be Nebraska Kerr(e)y..." Thanks, Tom Mc. And yes, both served in NAM, so actual answer did nothing to dispel my wrongness. O well, at least my ultimate answer was right, which, as anyone who has participated in the tournament can tell you, is the only thing that matters.

rp

thehowie 8:37 AM  

Not that I would have been helped by this, but: 1) the on-line version clued NANCE with "Jack who played a sawmill worker on "Twin Peaks", while 2) the printed version says "Jack who worked in a sawmill in "Twin Peaks."

Does this type of stuff happen often?

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Rex,

You should not, of course, have to resort to this, but...you could turn off the comments option on Saturday morning and resume on Sunday. Maybe a few weeks of this would drive home the point? Or more likely, I suppose, it would just annoy the dopes who are incapable of holding their tongues.

Liffey

PuzzleGirl 10:18 AM  

I found this puzzle somewhat annoying. To me, half the answers were uneblievably easy and the other half were infuriatingly obscure. Speaking of half: Half a loaf is better than none. (Isn't that the saying?)

Northwest gave me the most trouble, where I had TOILING instead of SHINING, which gave me LIBYA instead of NIGER. And I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with Libya. I'm just sayin'.

Shout out to Robert Moog (RIP) and Santana. I always dig the music references.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Is the connection between lightheaded and moon just that you weigh less on the moon, or something else?
--Steve

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Maybe "lightheaded" means where the "light" is "headed" on the moon's surface, and thus what lunar phase it's in (waxing, waning, full, etc.). It would make sense if the phases are in order in the puzzle (starting with new, ending with full), but I don't really know how "blue" and "paper" fit in to that, unless they're just quaint answers in the middle of the puzzle.

Orange 11:57 AM  

Anon 10:51, you know the phrase "once in a blue moon" and the movie Paper Moon?

As I parse it, the theme is called "Lightheaded" because each theme entry is "headed" (first word) by the "light" of the moon.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

"Go see" is indeed a referral word, but mostly in relation to the profession(?) of fashion modeling. Referrals are given to models to "go see" potential hirers or photographers. A "go see" has become a noun. Yes, I, too, hate jargon! Franz Lehár, the Hungarian composer of the super-famous operetta "The Merry Widow," should be known to most, whether they know about opera or not. There's also the great movie composer Franz Waxman (speaking of "waxing salons," which do exist), but he wasn't it today.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Whoops! I guess a lot of people had an even more famous Hungarian Franz (born Ferenc), Liszt, for the composer at first. But he wasn't it, either.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

I agree that the puzzle included both easy and obscure clues but I really enjoyed it. I agree with you Rex that the NAN was not a comparable abbreviation to Sen. -- didn't quite live up to my expectation for the NYT precision.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

I agree that the puzzle included both easy and obscure clues but I really enjoyed it. I agree with you Rex that the NAM was not a comparable abbreviation to Sen. -- didn't quite live up to my expectation for the NYT precision.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

It's these puzzles that sort of drain quality... when its seems as though the author was left with a strange combo of letters and searched the dictionary for some definition of them. I thought this puzzle was a little cheap.

Oscar Madison 1:27 PM  

I used to confuse John and Bob Kerr(e)y, too, but that was before that obscure little event called THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.

Oscar Madison 1:30 PM  

... which you must recall as the MMIV ELECTION.

Ulrich 1:32 PM  

The biggest problem of this puzzle for me was the title (I totally agree with Rex on this), which made me spend precious minutes, on and off after I had about half of it done, just to figure out what the title had to do with any of the long aswers I had (figured it out, though, before I got to the Gleason clue--used it in fact for the answer--I emigrated here long after his show went off the air).

Scott 1:54 PM  

Jack NANCE was a gimme for me. Sure he was memorable in Twin Peaks ("Two by fours. . .four by eights. Two by fours. . .four by eights." But of course his claim to fame was as the star of the immortal Eraserhead ("Daddy, they're not even sure it IS a baby!") I believe he was in every David Lynch film from Eraserhead to Wild at Heart.

Nice to see my two favorite directors -- Lynch and Kubrick -- together in the same puzzle.

profphil 1:59 PM  

Orange,

I understood the theme as words that go before (head) moom and also start (head) the theme answers, hence light -headed.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

ETO - Not exactly French, in that it was Ike's Command and covered all of Europe (European Theater of Operations).

Alice Faye was Phil Harris's wife and often did guest shots on Jack Benny's extremely popular radio program. She was also paired with Betty Grable in some movies as the other blonde.

Yma Sumac was said to have come from Peru, but there was folklore out there that her real name was Amy Camus, the reverse, and came from Brooklyn. Her claim to fame was a vocal range of 5 octaves!!

Acey Deucey was very popular in the Navy when I was in it (in the 50's) and played with lots of noise and verve. The roll of 1-2 on the dice gave one the right to shout "ACEY DEUCEY" at the top of his lungs, and take another turn. As commented on above, it is backgammon without the preset checkers. You first roll to bear onto the board, then to bear off.

Wendy 2:44 PM  

Since when is MANURE a *garden* fertilizer? I think of it as a crop fertilizer but garden, not so much. Maybe I'm thinking of gardens as being urban/suburban when I shouldn't be.

I've come to expect that Sunday puzzles will have some nifty stuff and some that's just plain goofy or dumb, both with cluing and answers. This was no exception. Didn't grasp the theme at all, although like Rex I got the TOTHEMOON right off.

I had Ethos and CPLS too. Also Mantra for Tantra, which is stupid of me, but whatever. I always get ECTO and Endo mixed up and did today. I agree NAM was out of sync since no slang was even remotely implied, although I could see that's what they were going for.

Who'dya think first came up with the clue 'Alma Mater for both Carol Burnett and Jim Morrison'? I know we've seen that many times before; it's such an oddity.

Can we start a petition campaign against ENYA in the puzzle? I have just had it with that woman. ;)

For some reason, I liked AS FIT as the answer to Comparable to a fiddle. Clever.

No comments about SHAD? I can't remember if that was one of the fish that were riffing about the other day when we were blorching over Scrod.

Fergus 2:53 PM  

Forgot about the theme until after I'd finished, and so started to guess. Well, NEW AGE stuff does tend toward Lightheaded-ness, but that seemed a bit harsh by the normally timid NYT standards. Oh yeah, MOON terms. Hmmm, HALF A LOAF at best. Semi-coherent.

ENYA's been thoroghly skewered, but it is tempting to launch another sally. I'd like to hear her sing some tunes from the EROICA with OONA, or maybe just play something on the OBOE, wearing only an ARIL? (Rex, I enjoyed your Crosswordese Incidence Hit Paraade commentary.)

TOODLE-OO was a 'Sopranos' episode, though I believe the full title did have an expletive spliced in there.

jae 3:46 PM  

Generally found this to be pretty easy. The crosses were more than sufficient to reveal the obscurities. Made the same initial NE/C errors as Rex (KEEN, ETHOS, SENSE) but knew CPOS from 2 years in the Navy during NAM. I worked it out because ODIOMS looked really strange! I've played ACEY-DUECY with my Uncle who picked it up in the service during WWII in the ETO. All in all, a fun puzzle.

Orange 3:54 PM  

Wendy, I live in a congested city neighborhood. Last week I spotted several bags labeled Composted Manure in a garden a couple doors down. Think that accounts for the, shall we say, organic aroma? Yeah, it's a smell one expects to encounter on farmland, not city streets.

profphil 4:22 PM  

wendy,

I grew up in the suburbs of NYC and my Mom used to garden and used maure for her vegetable and flower gardens.

green mantis 5:27 PM  

Um, eelpout? Why the long face? Because the answer was eelpout.

Fergus, you're killing me. Je ne parlez pas Francais tres bien, which is to say I speak no French, so your multiple solutions gave me an eelpout. There's no joke; I just really love that line. I think it's from a movie...Sheltering Sky? Not sure. Now that I think about it, probably not, because Debra Winger wears a lot of ill-conceived hats in that film. I digress. I'm on about two hours of sleep.

Wendy 5:50 PM  

Wow, there'd be some fur flying in my urban neighborhood if people were using manure for their gardens. It might even put an EELPOUT on my face permanently ... ;) You can always use the clothespin on the nose, Amy! (But who has clothespins anymore?)

Kitt 5:50 PM  

Rex: we were on some of the same wavelengths today "Distiller" was also my last entry. I also, agree referring to those things as "new age movements" was idiotic IMHO. Also, had "ethos" instead of "ethic" Big mistake there!

Overall, though, I really liked the puzzle -- even though I didn't remember right away "to the moon" so that took me a bit. Once I did though, the puzzle was pretty easy and interesting.

karmasartre 7:34 PM  

I may have gotten EELPOUT faster if I understood 73d (Always: It). My first thought was "world's worst Tag player". Thought Italics before Italian. Maybe if I had been an Italian Marine...

Never heard of TREPAN, or perhaps one was used on my skull and I forgot.

Didn't know AXILLA and couldn't come up with a salon for quite a while, finally remembered WAX and Wane.

Ran aground off the coast of Maine: ETHOS etc. Could have nailed it if I wasn't a TREPAN victim. I kept switching between GETat and GETto instead of the correct GETIN.

ENYA is less bothersome if you realize her last name is Face.

pcastine 9:22 PM  

Although Liszt (my first guess) is the better known composer named Franz (actually: Ferenc), LEHAR's operettas include Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow), Zigeunerliebe (Gypsy Love), Zarewitsch, as well as writing numerous popular waltzes that you would recognize if I hummed the tunes.

HARVEST HOME is possibly the oldest festival in England, dating to pre-Christian times.

I agree that this was an odd mixture of reasonably sublime and fairly ridiculous clues. I was surprised that I remembered DARCY, it's been ages since I've read Austen. My personal peeve was EPEE: one does not "wave" one's weapon while fencing.

jordanthejust 9:18 AM  

Thankful for my Episcopalian upbringing and handy hymnal, I was able to sing myself to "Harvest Home." It opens the hymn (and reoccurs throughout) that we always sang on Thanksgiving, "Come, ye thankful people, come..."

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

RE: The Nilla and Axilla nexus - - did you happen to notice that our bizzarro fish name EELPOUT also had a connection with LEECH both in the puzzle and in real life?

and does this mean I'm finally a geek?

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Rex,

It seems to me that picking a title for a Sunday puzzle is a tricky proposition. On the one hand, people (you inlcuded) complain if the title gives away the theme and on the other hand, they complain if the link to the theme is too obscure.

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