TUESDAY, Oct. 23, 2007 - Alan Arbesfeld

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "THINGS DRAWN" (59A: What the starts of 17-, 26-, 37- and 52-Across are)

Well my only real problem with today's puzzle is right there in the theme description - the phrase "THINGS DRAWN." It's a very literal description of the theme, but as a self-standing entry in the grid, it's a dud. It's just ... not a phrase one would say. It's not a common expression. It's got no currency. So points off for inelegance. Otherwise, the puzzle seemed just fine, with a few snazzy entries interspersed throughout a solid, if ordinary, grid.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Play follower, usually (curtain call)
  • 26A: Loofah, e.g. (bath sponge) - I've always found the word "loofah" disturbing. It sounds like an implement with which one would commit unspecified, and possibly unspeakable, acts of carnality.
  • 37A: Circulatory system flow (blood stream)
  • 52A: Shoot-'em-up figure (gun slinger) - I really wanted GANG BANGER here for a little bit; it's surprising how many letters they have in common...
Today's puzzle was rather sports-heavy, which will please some and upset others. I especially loved the fully name of BOBBY KNIGHT (25D: Hoops coach with the most N.C.A.A. Division I wins), for whom I continue to have a perverse respect as a coach despite (because of?) his various idiotic antics. I'm just glad I didn't have to spell the name of Duke's basketball coach in today's puzzle - just Duke's division: ACC (7D: Duke's sports org.). Always love seeing Muhammed Ali in the puzzle - 68A: Site of Ali's Rumble in the Jungle (Zaire); as many of you know by now, his signature is framed and hanging on my office wall just two feet from where I'm currently sitting. If you haven't seen the (Academy Award-winning) documentary "When We Were Kings" (all about the "Rumble in the Jungle"), you should; it's Fantastic.

The best sports entry of the day, of course, is A.L. EAST, clued as 34D: Red Sox div. That's right, it is the Red Sox' division, as they are the reigning A.L. EAST champions (somewhat more satisfying than being champions of the entire A.L., but somewhat less satisfying than being World Series champs). Sox v. Rox starts tomorrow - expect my write-ups to rise and fall based on how the Series goes. My sister lives in Colorado and has already started the (fake) trash-talk (her recent email to me had the subj. line "Bring it, Boston!"). My brother-in-law is now apparently pretending he cares about baseball because the local team is so hot. My sister just feels bad that her son has to grow up with a hometown team that has purple as one of its colors. In fact, I'm going to reprint sister's recent email to me - she's very entertaining. To me. I'm sure she won't mind (Tom is her husband, Miles is her son):

Watched your boys beat the pants off Cleveland last
night. I have been subjected to more baseball in the
last 2 weeks than in my entire life. Tom was bummed
because he wanted Cleveland against the Rockies; he
doesn't think they can beat Boston. He would make
faces at me every time I would cheer for Boston, but
I'm sorry, most of the teams (including Cleveland and
the Rockies) have zero personality. Boston is all
crazy-melting-pot-like and often scruffy,far more
interesting to watch so I like them better. And Tom
kept commenting on how the fans' hats looked all
scraggly and how they needed to get new ones; I told
him he should have seen your crazy old hat with the
duct tape on the back. I told him he couldn't
appreciate old school because he has been alive longer
than the Rockies have been a team... and purple? What
the hell kind of color is that for a team? Miles asked
about wearing something purple for Rockies day at his
school and I said good luck finding anything purple in
our entire house. Seriously.
"But what does your sister have to do with the puzzle?," you ask? Answer: she is an ARIES (14A: Sign of spring). And so, returning to the puzzle: I didn't know JAYE P. Morgan was a singer (41A: Singer _____ P. Morgan). I thought she was just a judge on "The Gong Show." Joining Ms. Morgan in the "Out-of-the-Past" category is ILKA Chase (47A: Actress Chase of "Now, Voyager") and DION (39D: Singer of the 1962 hit "The Wanderer"). "The Wanderer" is also a classic Anglo-Saxon poem, FYI. In the "Words - I - See - Only - in - the - Crossword" category, we have the nice intersection of a final-"E"-free ICE AX (15A: Mountaineer's tool) and OXLIP (10D: Primrose family member). Tough clues today include 32A: Pest control brand (D-Con) - never heard of it!? - and NEA (8D: "Read Across America" grp.) - which isn't That tough to guess, but what the hell is "Read Across America?" Please tell me it is something, anything, like "Hands Across America."

Smiley faces today go out to TIN HAT (6D: G.I.'s helmet, slangily) and UNO (30A: 108-card game). Any clue with the word "slangily" in it is OK by me. I had no idea UNO had 108 cards, but I do enjoy playing it with Sahra (age 7), who can beat me now, even when I'm playing in fully competitive mode. It was actually quite exhilarating when I realized that she could beat me at something (besides maybe Candyland) without my having to take it easy on her. She is about the only person on the planet that I want to be better than me at Everything.

A final shout-out to two literary references: a cool quotation from Henry James ("IN ART economy is always beauty" - 21A) and the other a title from my homeboy, William Saroyan: "The HUMAN COMEDY" (11D: Saroyan novel, with "The"). Fresno!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS thanks to reader "DailyPuppyGuy" for providing a reference to this awesome picture, which is of great relevance to today's puzzle: Muhammed Ali shilling for D-CON roach traps!

31 comments:

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

R.P.: Re: Loofah. Check out the details of Bill O'Reilly's sexual harrassment suit regarding unspecified and definitely unspeakable acts of carnality with said implement (for which he inexplicably later substituted a falafel).

Eileen, the Crossword Queen (sometimes)

DailyPuppyGuy 9:42 AM  

Surprising that you've not heard of d-Con. Muhammad Ali used to do commercials for their roach traps.

http://i11.ebayimg.com/01/i/000/9b/39/9a95_1.JPG

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

The Div. I hoops coach with the most wins is Pat Summit of the University of Tennessee. (Clue did not specify gender.)

Rex Parker 10:32 AM  

Anon 10:00 is absolutely correct. Pat Summit has 947, Bobby Knight has 890.

Thanks for pointing out the error in the puzzle. Those don't happen very often.

rp

PS Is there some technicality I'm unaware of where Tennessee was not a "Division I" school (as the clue specifies) for some part of Summit's career...?

Orange 10:44 AM  

A couple years ago (9/9/05, to be exact), young constructor Kyle Mahowald included KRZYZEWSKI in a Friday NYT crossword. I think nearly everyone had to work the crossings to puzzle out the spelling for that one.

profphil 11:04 AM  

Phew, Pat SUmmit--now I know why I couldn't get Bobby Knight. Kidding, as I know almost nothing about sports. Struggled with Bobby Knight, finally with the acrosses figured out his name phonetically but not orthographically and ended up with Bobbie Night. Did not recognize "Ilka" and had "Ilea" instead. Jaie P Morgan, I assumed was how she spelled her name. Only recognized her name from Match Game.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

RP,
It has always been Div. 1, although in the earliest days there may have been some classification other than NCAA. As a proud UT alum and huge fan of the Lady Vols, I couldn't let it pass.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Got hung up on 'tin hat'. Having worn one, I thought it was a 'tin pot'.

things drawn and quartered 12:08 PM  

A good Tuesday puzzle, fairly easy for me (meaning five-times slower than those 2-minute seekers).

Had Ilsa instead of ILKA until Bobby Knight threw a chair at me.

Rex, you provided alot of entertainment from a puzzle that wasn't necessarily good fodder for a great blog entry. Thank you. Must be nice to have a sister who is a "sign of Spring". Someday your daughter will be the 165th greatest CPSitU!

On the baseball front:

1) do we get better announcers for the WSeries? Seems we went from bland and erroneous in the first round to cliche and repetitive in the ALCS. The home-town announcers are better than the national ones nine times out of ten.

2) what is the point of the coaches' boxes near first and third...I assume the coaches aren't required to stay in them, since they don't.

3) the Coors Field baseball humidor -- meant to negate the effect of playing at the mile-high elevation -- stikes me as especially odd in a sport where ballparks can have different dimensions.

angloliberal 12:17 PM  

@ThingsDrawn...12:08:

Unfortunately, Tim McCarver refuses to go away. I wanted to play a drinking game where every time he said, "My mistake," and then corrected some idiotic slip-up, you'd drink. But I'd have been passed out by the bottom of the first...

I'd give my right arm to hear Jerry Remy call the Series on Fox. I'll just have to keep watching it on Mute.

Pete M 12:28 PM  

Or you can listen and try to predict which absurdities end up on http://www.firejoemorgan.com (a wonderfully amusing site, that is much more than the name implies).

things drawn and quartered 12:38 PM  

angloliberal -- Is Remy Boston? Can anyone tell me the W___ and K___ station call-letters for Boston and Colorado? Perhaps I can mute the TV and net-stream in a local announcer...

pete m -- good site, thanks.

dk 12:54 PM  

Grew-up in NY with a Yankees fan dad and a Bo-Sox fan mom. Thus, this time of year was more like smite than sync.

I always like the Ali references.

Off to NYC tomorrow and looking forward to 9th Street Coffee Roasters: They are the greatest!

Annielee 1:50 PM  

Jaye P. Morgan started as a band singer. She was on Ed Sullivan quite often as I remember. She also briefly had her own show, The Jaye P. Morgan Show, in the 50's.

things drawn, Jerry Remy, the Rem-Dawg, is color man in Boston. Don Orsillo does the play by play. They're a great team.

Red Sox radio broadcasts are on WRKO 680 AM. See www.redsoxconnection.com/audio.html
We've tried listening to the radio and watching TV with the mute on when the Sox game was on national TV. It was fine except there was always a slight delay in the TV, so we heard the announcer's call just before seeing the action.

voiceofsocietyman 2:08 PM  

Favorite clue/answer:
Amateurish: BUSH.
If that doesnt just say it all....

Penny 2:11 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle. Thought loofah was something one smoked to get high. Maybe it is.

Enjoyed the letter from your sister. Definite family resemblance.

Enjoyed 20A Amateurish = BUSH probably way too much since there's not much funny about him.

Do not enjoy Tim McCarver at all. Thanks for the radio info.

Rex Parker 2:17 PM  

I find McCarver is tolerable as an announcer if

a. my team is winning, and
b. I spend most of my time doing impressions of / making fun of him

Otherwise, yes, he's unbearable. Why doesn't he get fired? Does he have the baseball announcer equivalent of tenure?


rp

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

things drawn and quartered....

and others rightfully annoyed with network announcers, thank you for helping me find something useful from Cleveland's implosion/Boston beat-down.

While the radio will trail the video, the audio and video sync-up on the third or fourth replay. How often is one really unable to figure what happened on the video (aside from Tim Magoo)?

To stream local audio, one must go to mlb.com and pay $4.95 for the world series subscription. Earlier this year, I paid $15 for the subscription, and I was surprised that it included the post-season. Or, if you can work the airwaves somehow: Colorado 850 KOA and Boston 680 WRKO.

Also, I think ESPN radio will carry, and Jon Miller and Joe Morgan are so much better that Joe Suck and Tim Magoo on Faux. One can find the local station on the ESPN radio website.

Good luck Sox, I think I'll have to leave Denver if the sanctimonious, "godsend" Rockies win.

Rikki 4:02 PM  

RE: baseball... having no cable tv in the house, we did the old school thing and listened on the radio. I ordered the MLB post season package, but then ended up calling my dad in Boston when things got exciting and listening on RKO while he watched. Problem was that there was a long delay on the MLB site, so I had to mute the sound and let Dad do the play-by-play. Miss the Rem-Dawg, and my dog Remy who went to live with my dad last year.

Re: the puzzle... Rex, the NEA as you probably know is the National Education Association, a professional org. of public school educators. Read Across America is something they do to promote literacy and reading aloud with your children. Events are planned across the country and often sports teams join in by coming to schools to read.

I slogged through this puzzle. It felt hard for a Tuesday compared to the last few weeks, but it may have been me. I was tired from driving 5 hours from a SoCal campsite back to the central coast to escape the smoke and Santa Anas. Picked a great week to go camping in southern California with 15 fires raging out of control. But hubby and I did enjoy a glorious Monday night of listening to the Sox under the stars, drinking beers and eating hot dogs and cheering with no one through that fabulous game.

green mantis 5:43 PM  

With the starts of the first three theme answers giving me "curtain," "bath," and "blood," I thought we were heading toward the shower scene in Psycho, what with Halloween on the horizon. When the last theme answer gave me "gun," I thought about Fatal Attraction. Bath/murder scenes are rather iconic in horror films.

Must have something to do with the vulnerability of nakedness. Or maybe it's just the boobs.

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

re Penny said: loofah, smoking etc.

not loofah: hookah - waterpipe - is what you're thinking about.
;-)

Johnson 6:54 PM  

As a self-proclaimed sports ignoramus, I had a similar problem to that of Profphil, but I came up with "Ilsa" crossing "Bobby S Night"!

Otherwise a fun puzzle.

Thanks for a fun blog, Rex.

Michael 7:41 PM  

I thought this was a bit harder than the average Tuesday despite all the sports clues (which are usually easy for me). I wrote Congo instead of Zaire (and that was after noticing that Manila didn't fit) and that slowed me a bit. And I've never heard of DCON.

The TBS announcers and commentators (with the exception of Ron Darling) were not good and I'll take Buck and McCarver over Jon Miller (who I think is good) and Joe Morgan (innumerate and proud of it) any day.

Rikki 8:05 PM  

Hmm... we've got someone doing unspeakable things with a loofah or maybe an ice ax to someone behind a curtain, and blood may be drawn. Definitely getting Halloweeny.

jae 8:13 PM  

Fun puzzle but like anon 12:02 I had TINPOT for TINHAT which slowed me down alot. I've heard lots of vets call them TINPOTS but have never heard TINHAT. I'm sure Orange will know why HAT is a legit answer.

billnutt 8:22 PM  

Read Across America Day is March 2. Elementary and middle schools across the country have events tied into promoting reading and literacy that day. (A number of schools celebrate Read Across America as a week-long event.)

March 2 was chosen because it's the birthday of Theodor S. Geisel. (I like to think it was chosen because it's Lou Reed's birthday, but that's me.)

Anyway, today's puzzle was a fun little Tuesday one. I don't take offense at "things drawn," but I had no idea it was the theme until I had enough crosses to fill it in.

I can't hear "tin hat" without thinking of the song "And the Band Played 'Waltzing Mathilda.'" A great, great song about World War I - actually about war, in general.

I echo voiceofsocietyman. Wonder if Bill O'Reilly does the puzzle...

I used to drive an Omni, and I'm curently a member of the NEA. And I've acted enough times to have had a curtain call or two.

BT 10:31 PM  

I can't stand the FOX announcers. Buck is highly annoying. The SAP button, which switches things to Spanish, is a must when the game is on FOX. (And no, I don't speak spanish).

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

While McCarver is bearable (taken as a bumbling Magoo) Buck is unbearable with his phoney voice and his prissy demeanor (do they have to show his face too!)rendering anything totally unwatchable -- this is one WS I'll skip!

One long phoney who-cares week -- better things to do!

anoa 2:05 PM  

The answer to 20A, Amateurish would surely get a smiley from me if it weren't so tragic.

I didn't like "tin hat", myself. My dad talked about fetching water and cooking in his helmet, his "tin pot".

I do like the idea of the Tim McCarver drinking game, but angloliberal is right. Everyone would be under the table by the bottom of the first.

John 2:08 PM  

So, as a six weeks later solver, had hoped to find in this blog why "ana" is a suffix for a bibliophile--

nora 3:37 PM  

John, I'll hazard a guess:

I think you might refer to American Lit. as Americana, for example.

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