WEDNESDAY, Aug. 22, 2007 - Patrick Blindauer

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Pick-up Lines" (61A: Singles bar repertoire (and a hint to 17-, 24-, 36- and 52-Across) - all theme answers are in some way related to the phrase "pick up," I think

This theme is fun but a bit tenuous. I'll see if I can explain how all of the theme answers are examples of PICK-UP LINES:

  • 17A: McGarrett's TV catchphrase ("Book 'em, Danno") - picking up a prisoner
  • 24A: Question for a hitchhiker ("Need a lift?") - picking up a hitchhiker (not often advisable)
  • 36A: Shout from the phone ("It's for you!") - picking up the phone
  • 52A: Chevy truck slogan, once ("Like a Rock") - a pick-up truck

Hope that's right. If not, correct me.

This puzzle felt very easy. Even ones I didn't know really know, like 5A: Nanki-Poo's father (Mikado), I could guess pretty easily. I knew that Nanki-Poo was a character in "The Mikado," and MIKADO fit, so there. I couldn't tell you the plot of the musical if my life depended on it. 5D: Ones minding the store: Abbr. (mgmt.) might trick a few people, as the clue suggests plural but the "T" ending does not. I found a couple of answers a bit iffy, like 4D: Clicked on'es tongue (tsked) - didn't know TSK was a proper verb now - and 24D: Innocents (naifs) - which sounds too French to be true. ALIENEE is not a favorite word of mine, despite the fact that it contains the cool ALIEN; perhaps the least fortunate answer of the day is strange-sounding INTONER (44D: Chanter), one of those odd-jobby words that's more conveniently passable than real. Not in the language (contrast it with the very real job GUNNER - 15A: Artillery unit member).

The best of the long non-theme answers are 11D: Tall wardrobe (armoire) - both because it's a pretty word and because "wardrobe" could misdirect people toward actual clothing; and 13D: Yachting event (regatta). I had CALMEST for COOLEST for a bit (45D: Least ruffled), but other than that, no dead ends. Oh, except I had CUKES for COKES (54D: Burger go-withs) - also for not very long. Loved the recurrence of OLE, here in its double-sized format: 59A: World Cup chant ("ole ole!"). Never heard of SLAP-UP (22D: Top-notch, to a Brit), but I'm not British, so no surprise there. Also never heard of LEILA (56D: Hyams of 1920s-'30s films). Have, however, heard of 55A: John of London (Elton), though that's a super-odd way to clue him. Sports-haters will be happy that there is only one real sports clue here (not counting REGATTA and OLE OLE), and it's pretty easy: 22A: 600-homer club member (Sosa). Really, if you didn't know it from the 4 letters, you should have gotten it quickly once you got a cross or two. He is one of the more famous ball players of the past decade. Not being a sewer (i.e. one who sews), I have no idea what practice 63A: Make darts (sew) refers to.

62D: New England state sch. (URI) looks harder than it is (University of Rhode Island). Ditto 35A: Paris Metro station next to a music center (Opera). Even if you don't know Paris Metro stations, a few crosses, and the musicness of the clue, should have tipped this one. Nice double-egg quality to this puzzle with 16A: Some eggs (roe) and 27A: Eggs, in labs (ova). Then of course there's 6D: Birth control option, briefly (IUD), which is egg-related, in its way. Sorry if that didn't pass the breakfast table test. Lastly, I get great pleasure out of seeing TINA Yothers in the puzzle (37D: Yothers of "Family Ties") - I watched a LOT of "Family Ties" as a kid. She was the strange youngest sister who didn't really have a personality. I liked that she was not cute at all - they added a conventionally cute baby brother later on to fill that void. I'm stopping now before this turns into a detailed interpretation of the nuances of the entire series.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:59 AM  

In spite of knowing the Mikado very well, I didn't get it until I had found all but one letter in the crosses - I kept thinking the answer should have been Emperor (that's what the Mikado is - "The Emperor of Japan").

ps - Didn't we just have "naif" a few days ago? I know we had "ole" which is why I was able to get the oleole answer so easily, given the prolonged discussion about where ole can be heard outside of the bullring (e.g., at a soccer match).


Linda G 1:23 AM  

Yeah, even I knew SOSA ; )

In sewing, darts are used on a fitted garment. They shape and the bustline, below the waistband on a skirt or pants, etc.

GK 1:29 AM  

A dart is a way of making a fabric curve so that it fits around something convex. One cuts away a piece of the fabric by two cuts coming together at a point, then sews together the cut edges. To get a saddle shape (what a mathematician calls negative curvature) one needs to do the opposite: insert a triangular piece. Does anyone know what that's called?

Doug 3:01 AM  

Well, I've lived around Brits for about 16 years and haven't heard "SLAP UP" yet, but that's not to say it's not correct. Of course if the author is writing for mainly Americans then arcane overseas lingo is best avoided.

My favorite Britishisms:
- The use of "well" as an adverb, e.g. "Well struck, Mr. Beckham!", "Well spotted, young fox hunter!", "Well said, Mr. Blair!";

- "Dodgy" as in "untrustworthy", e.g. "The WSJ reporters believe their new proprietor Rupert Murdoch to be quite a dodgy character."

- And of course the combination of the above using "well" as an adjective: "He's well dodgy, that Mr. Rove is."

Anonymous 3:39 AM  

GK - I believe what you're referring to is a GORE. (not Al).

Anonymous 3:40 AM  

No bitchin about the Shakespearean character ORSINO?

JD 4:34 AM  

I don't think 17A is part of the theme; you don't "book" a prisoner-he/she is already "booked".

For 22D I've heard "top hole" used.

Whitey's mom 6:38 AM  

Could also be a gusset

liebestraum 7:11 AM  

Actually, "MAYS" also has 600+ homeruns and was my initial entry.

I was proud of myself for guessing MIKADO and I probably know less than Rex does about it.

The only clue that gave me trouble should not have: "SWEE" pea. I had SWEA and I kept missing my mistake when I was trying to submit my timed puzzle. Yes, I should have noticed the cross was YEN, not YAN, but in my mind I was thinking YUAN, which is Chinese currency. In the back of my mind, though, is the thought that I think I've made this mistake before with SWEE. Maybe this trauma will prevent a relapse the next time.

Maybe therapy would help.


Anonymous 8:06 AM  

Yesterday was the anniversary of Babe Ruth's 600'th HR so of course I had that for a minute or so.

Wendy 8:45 AM  

Oh, do the detailed interpretation! It's not fair to tempt us ... ;)

I had an unusual number of wrong answers for a Wednesday. I preferred SAY what to NOW what; had NEED A RIDE vs. LIFT; RAW for ROE; and DALE (whatever that is, but it seemed right at first) for DELL.

Liked AMNESTY and KNAVE. One of my favorite Shakespearean terms, that last one.

Speaking of Britishisms, reading Harry Potter reminds me of an expression that for some reason tickles me: calling others YOU LOT.

prshutr 9:18 AM  

my booboos; I put in RUTH instead of SOSA, and OVA instead of ROE, but the crosses removed those PDQ.
And I got pretty British myself by guessing CHIPS for burger go-withs (and would have put in BEERS or BREWS before COKES, but hey, I like to drink.
Cutest clew (Brit spelling) - Priest as Father Figure.
Worst - ALIENEE, but I agree with Willie the Shake, who penned "First, kill all the lawyers."
Three ez puzzles in a row...dreading Friday.

prshutr 9:21 AM  

"Sports-haters will be happy that there is only one real sports clue here (not counting REGATTA and OLE OLE), and it's pretty easy: 22A: 600-homer club member (Sosa)."
Too bad you missed OTT (Mel Ott, who lifted his leg before each swing, a move which has disappeared from modern hitting technique.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Should the answer to "put a toe in the water" be testing instead of test? Seems like a grammatical error to me.

Wade 11:15 AM  

If "putting" is read as a gerund rather than a verb the grammar works for it to be equivalent to test--i.e., putting a toe in the water is a test.

On "Family Ties," I probably watched every episode as it aired, and I remember almost nothing in particular about it other than the names of the characters and the general setup--no memory of any particular episodes or story arcs. I do remember that Tina Yothers was a complete nonentity, and that the last episode was excruciatingly stupid.

karmasartre 11:16 AM  

Doug -- well put.

Problems in the NE beacause I spent too long working around MAYS intead of SOSA. Having watched Willie play at Candlestick, he was my first thought.

Living across the lake from Bill and Melinda Gates' residence in Medina, GATES was my first thought where SAUDI belonged, so again, problems in the SW based on initial association.

Must address me-centricity.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Thanks for the fun write-up of what turned out to be my 8th NYT daily. Regarding TSK as a verb, here's what Random House, 2nd Ed. gives:
4. to utter the exclamation "tsk." Also, tsktsk.

The only clue that I miss is [One who can cant] for INTONER. One that I can't believe I submitted is [Lincoln Center casting director Daniel] for SWEE. I also had Viola in the ORSINO clue to echo the violas in ORCHS (a truly icky plural). I worked on "The Mikado" and "Twelfth Night" in college, btw.

This would also be a good moment to plug my NYSun puz called "Shuffled Cards," which runs this Friday but is available online now. Check it out if you like a real challenge.


Sue 11:56 AM  

I need to post my compliments about the theme. I love that the term "pick up" could have inspired so many meanings. I got 61A quickly and laughed every time one of the theme answers emerged. No cookie cutter here.

campesite 12:10 PM  

To me, in terms of difficulty, this puzzle felt slightly harder than average for a Wednesday. Maybe it is because I blanked completely on ORSINO, which caused me problems with the Texas region.
I loved Hawaii Five-O as a wee lad, and I'd say it's theme song remains one of the best ever.

Jim in Chicago 12:54 PM  

A certain liturgical subtheme to this puzzle. I loved the cross of PRIEST and ANOINTS, and we also have INTONER, which is the job of a cantor (among other duties). I'm not sure I like mixing pick up lines with church, but so be it!

EASL 1:23 PM  

I have only one problem with todays crossword: 19A. Isn't a unit of memory called a bit? Put a few of them together, they form a byte (which I would accept as memory unit too). But a Meg? Thats just the amount of memory units (bytes) available.

akakii 2:52 PM  

When I saw the clue John of London I was certain the answer was LOO, so was disappointed to see the grid with five empty spaces looking at me. It took me a bit to shift gears and figure out it was ELTON.

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Easl - A Meg is short for a Megabyte, practically unheard of today in the time of Gigabytes.

David 3:50 PM  

Wendy - DALE would be a fine answer for the valley clue, though my dictionary does say that 'secluded' is more tied to DELL, but of course it could have been VALE also. Isn't English wonderful!

Regarding MEG as a unit - anything used to measure something else is considered a unit of measurement. A foot is 12 inches, but both foot and inches are units of distance. Lot easier to use the unit MEG than 1048576 bytes or (you do the math) bits!

My only real hangup with this Wednesday was having the nicely coupled 24D:WAIFS and 24A:WANT A LIFT. Led me far astray that did.

Gabby 4:42 PM  

My father was a member of the Shrine Chanters, a men's choir. They wore tuxedos and their fancy bejeweled fezzes when they performed. So the clue "chanter" brought back memories for me.

Alex 5:35 PM  

I'm trying to get good at crosswords... I can do Monday and Tuesday now. I like coming here to feel absurdly bad. You are all so good! Anyway, I made a crossword inspired video that some of you may get a kick out of...

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

four letter 600 homer name:

MAYS (660)

Initial reaction was SOSA but then thought better do crosses to double check

PuzzleGirl 6:02 PM  

I couldn't get the NE corner at all. I used to be able to just put the puzzle aside, come back to it in a day or two, and finish it up then. But now I have to read Rex's blog so I can't wait. Damn you, Rex Parker!

Orange 6:04 PM  

Funny video, Alex! I'll link to it in my post tonight.

Fergus 6:27 PM  

From my time in the City (London) I hazily recall many a SLAP-UP lunch. So many of the big financial firms had their own in-house chefs and fancy dining rooms. Each competing with another for even better fare. The old saw about British food was out of date already in 1987, and I'm still amazed that the perception persists.

My errant path exactly mirrored Wendy's today, having been on the same trail of tribulation as Rex for quite a few days.

Threw some arrows at the local Irish pub last night so darts was ripe for reinterpretation.

Liked the clue for VWS.

Enjoyed this puzzle in an odd sentimental way since my current vehicle is a Pickup Truck, which some poeple find incongruous but it keeps me grounded LEST I appear too ARTY.

Orange 7:58 PM  

Fergus, the problem is all those places that offer canned baked beans on toast for breakfast, canned baked beans on a baked potato for lunch, mushy peas with fish and chips...need I go on?

jae 8:38 PM  

A fun puzzle. I also got bogged down a bit in NE. Initally had ..RIDE which took a while to undo. I too debated SOSA vs. RUTH. Still, pretty easy for a Wednesday.

karmasartre 8:40 PM  

But Orange,

What about Jamie Oliver? Things have changed. There's Nila something. And two Fat Ladies. And Rick Stein. Some great food. I make the Oliver Leek/Garbanzo soup four times per winter. I guess Gordon Ramsey is good but I can't hear the food.

If you ever see the BBC series "Chef" (non Iron-), you wil be very amused. PBS aired it in the early 90s.

Kim 9:07 PM  

Hilarious video Alex - thanks!

Orange 9:14 PM  

Didn't one of the Two Fat Ladies die a few years ago? I liked their show, but their food often scared me. Too meaty.

Chip Ahoy 9:28 PM  

Book em Dano = pick up line, ha ha ha ha.

Badir 9:57 PM  

Contrary to Rex and others, I thought this was pretty difficult for a Wednesday. I was juiced up with pretty good times on Monday and Tuesday, but did today's quite slowly. I had DALE for DELL for quite a while, and thus had ASTON for ELTON. And when I fixed DALE, I neglected to fix ESTON, figuring it was some random guy I'd never heard of. Made the same mistake (not checking the cross for a changed letter) when I put in PRIEST, clobbering the final S I'd put, so I had MGMS. And since I do the puzzle on paper, I don't get the computer telling me to find the mistake to fix. Also didn't know ORSINO, so left IMHERE for INHERE. So slow and two mistakes! :(

BT 10:07 PM  

I'm with Easl....

A "unit" of memory is a bit. If you have more of them you get a meg, but unit means one, which means bit.

"Measurement of memory" would be accetable, but not "unit".

mac 10:40 PM  

orange, I've lived in the UK twice, and nobody I know eats the sort of food combinations you describe anymore. That sort of died when the great detective left Baker Street, and that was not real, eather!

mac 10:45 PM  

of course I mean "either".....

PuzzleGirl 11:16 PM  

I like clues that have a lot of musicness.

Fergus 11:24 PM  

Orange, I don't think there are any cafes left in London that serve that sort of crap. Even the most distant county pubs now have Singapore noodles or Chow Fun, or some amusing variant.

Howard B 11:42 PM  

Late to the game as usual...
Alex: Loved the video! I should have known that square was a smiley! I had a feeling that pentagram I put there instead was wrong, but didn't go with my instinct ;).

Orange 11:57 PM  

Fergus and Mac, hey, I was in England (London and Liverpool) three months ago, and they're still hawking that crap in various eateries. In Liverpool, near a university campus, there was a place that sold baked potatoes with a bunch of toppings, including those damned Heinz baked beans. And various storefront quick restaurants offered beans on toast, I think in London too but definitely in the Liverpool area. We were (a) dining out with a kid, (b) trying not to spend $200 on meals, and (c) always dressed super casually, so we weren't going to the finer restaurants. (Except for that one bistro in Liverpool where my fish arrived with a glass bowl of pipe smoke over it, which was bizarre.) So maybe the people you know in the UK aren't eating the bland crap, but it did seem to be widely available, especially up north.

Fergus 12:15 AM  

Well, that's all true I'm sure. England has changed so much, yet as anywhere a spot of nostalgia remains.

liebestraum 7:38 AM  

Speaking of toppings for baked potatoes in the UK - TUNA?

Had a friend order that just for the hell of it. Not me, boy.


Anonymous 9:50 AM  


If there is an argument, you'll find it!

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

If meg is not a unit (because byte is the unit and mega is the prefix) then decibel would not be a unit (because bel would be the unit and deci would be the prefix). But we normally use decibel (actually a ratio)as the unit of loudness. Perhaps you should think of a meg as a dervied unit, although derived units normally refer to units that combine two or more units (such as the work unit - erg - which is force times distance).

Orange 3:49 PM  

Anon 9:50, I know you are, but what am I?

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