(Court plea, informally) TUESDAY, Jan. 15, 2008 - Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: SOAPS (71A: This puzzle's theme) - first words of four long theme answers are all brands of soap

Not much to say about this puzzle. Those are all soaps, alright - though I'm going to have to take your word on TONE, which is completely unknown to me. Is it a regional soap? Is there such thing as a "regional soap?" You know, like EDY'S is a regional ice cream and HELLMAN'S is a regional mayo? Just wondering. This puzzle had a good deal of answers I simply didn't know, but in good Tuesday fashion, everything was very gettable from crosses; even the intersecting unknowns (ALEC - 2D: British P.M. _____ Douglas-Home) - and ALANA - 14A: Singer Davis with the 1998 hit "32 Flavors") intersected at an easily guessable letter. So ... there it is.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Joie de vivre (ZEST for life)
  • 11D: Lofty place for an academic (IVORY tower)
  • 29D: Its academy is in New London, Conn. (COAST Guard)
  • 63A: Speaking manner (TONE of voice)

In addition to ALANA and ALEC, I did not know VARESE (6D: Lombardy province or its capital) and, frankly, I'd only vaguely heard of the Old VIC (16A: Old _____, London theater). Never spent a lot of time in London. I'm an Edinburgh man, myself. What is with the cluing on IRS (11A: Org. with a code)? I had BSA in there at first (Boy Scouts of America). Lots of "org."s have "codes." Didn't know OLGA (51A: Daughter of Czar Nicholas I or II), but guessed it easily. Never remember the exact letter combo in EZIO (44A: Singer Pinza) because I know it only from crosswords, but (notice a theme?) got it easily from crosses. Why don't I have anything more interesting to say about this puzzle!? Reboot!

  • 14A: Singer Davis with the 1998 hit "32 Flavors" (Alana) - Hey, I was alive and vaguely attentive to pop culture in 1998, what the hell? Is this a song about ice cream?
  • 23A: Prank player (rascal) - LOVE that this intersects ALFALFA (9D: "Our Gang" kid) - one of the "Little Rascals" - who were also somehow "Our Gang," though I'm not sure what the relationship is between the two. Maybe this will tell me.
  • 26A: "South Park" kid (Kyle) - easy ... for me. Maybe ASOK-esque for you.
  • 27A: Preceder of Bell or shell (Taco) - no quiero
  • 31A: Speed-happy driver (lead foot) - nice lively phrase
  • 43A: "_____ a Tramp" ("Lady and the Tramp" tune) ("He's") - all that, including a repeat of "Tramp," for HE'S??
  • 47A: Fantastically wonderful (to die for) - sadly, intersects GRIEF (46D: Feeling of loss), reinflecting the phrase in a decidedly depressing direction.
  • 7D: De-squeak (oil) - I thought this clue was a French phrase when I first looked at it. Honest.
  • 42D: First drug approved to treat AIDS (AZT) - You don't see this answer very often, which surprises me. Such an interestingly placed "Z." A bit depressing to have this so near TO DIE FOR and GRIEF, though.
  • 56D: _____-Tass news agency (Itar) - Always forget this answer. IBAR is the only thing that come to mind. At least it's close.
  • 53A: Arctic bird (puffin) - that's just not a very "arctic"-sounding name. Sounds too sunny, happy, optimistic. Maybe that's because "Puffins" is the name of one of my occasional breakfast cereals.
  • 59D: Tributary of the Colorado (Gila) - learned it from Crosswords. Know Your Four-Letter Rivers (he said, hypocritically).
  • 58D: Court plea, informally (nolo) - as in nolo contendere. Wife botched this small part of the puzzle because she'd never heard of this. She grew up in another country, though, so I feel her pain. If you are a non-Kiwi who has ever tried to do a NZ crossword, you know what it's like to be baffled by culturally-specific non-English phrases - which is to say, you know what it's like to be baffled by Maori words and phrases that your average New Zealander knows instinctively.

See you tomorrow,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Today's other puzzles:

  • LAT 4:44 (C) - Verna Suit - got stupidly hung up thinking a long answer was a theme answer when it wasn't
  • CS 5:17 (C) - Mel Rosen - 58D x/w 61A = ????
  • NYS 4:38 (C) - Alan Arbesfeld, "Opening Moves" - something is very wrong when I do the Sun faster than any other puzzle of the day

[drawing by Emily Cureton]


rick 9:05 AM  

Never heard of TONE soap either. In the middle of last year there was a clue for a pizza chain that turned out to be regional.

Rex Parker 9:14 AM  

Rick- you're thinking of UNO'S, which is national, but certainly does not have a presence in every part of the country.


jls 9:30 AM  

provincial middle-atlantic moi.

what with their catchy jingle and looooooong-time market presence, hadn't realized that "hellman's" isn't "hellman's" all across the country. "best foods mayonnaise" is a mouthful, but (whew!) it *is* the same product.

live and learn.

and that's why i like puzzles!



Doug. 9:33 AM  

Regarding "11A: Org. with a code" think "tax code"
Regarding Tone, I don't think it's regional, though I do remember that it seemed to be marketed towards the female demographic, I remember my mother buying it. It a "facial" soap.

radioguy 9:38 AM  

Hellman's mayonaise is known as Best Foods mayonaise west of the Rockies, but both products are identical.

Doug 9:40 AM  

I remember being upset by UNO's. I had to look it up then, I just looked it up again and I still call it regional. I live in one of the orange states on this map:
It looks like UNO's is only in about 50% of the geographical United States. I'd call that regional. And the vast majority of the locations are in the NE to Mid-Atlantic.

PhillySolver 9:51 AM  

Hey guys, don't take that TONE with me!

All in all a quick easy puzzle. I do wish I were faster, but I enjoyed it. My first fill...Old Vic...went on a walking tour with some stage actor whose name I have forgotten. He practically knelt in awe at the site. ..he thought it was TODIEFOR.

Going to go use one of the products listed here, but I don't have the zest for it so I will set the tone and just coast into my ivory shower.

Hardass 9:52 AM  

It happens that I lived for the musical "South Pacific" when I was about 12, so Ezio Pinza is, was and always will be "in my state."

Alana-whoever is not never nohow going to be in MY state, no matter where her songs are played or sold.

I wouldn't get a bye on The Getty Museum or the Space Needle just because I've never been to LA or Seattle.

You want to solve the puzzle, you find a way to solve the puzzle.

Eric 9:59 AM  

Ah, that would give their slogan, "Bring out the Hellman's, and bring out the Best," a second meaning. Very clever.

Leon 10:21 AM  

Alfalfa eats a soap sandwich in Hearts are Thumps and soap bubbles emanate from his belly when he sings "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."

John 10:23 AM  

I believe "32 Flavors" is actually a remake of a very fine Ani DiFranco song. Didn't know that it became much of a hit. Ani's version is much much better anyway.

jls 10:44 AM  

eric -- "bring out the best" -- d'oh and *sweet*!



jae 10:51 AM  

Trying to be speedy had the opposite effect. I put INST for TECH and IDOLS for NOVAS before reading the crossing clues and had to waste time undoing things. Ah well, 3.5 x Orange isn't too bad for me.

I'm not sure they still make TONE.

UNO originated in Chicago, we have a couple here in San Diego.

They make a canola version of Best Foods which may be healthier.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

Emily is always magnificent but this drawing may be her best. I'm in awe of her ability to connect all those words into a coherent theme.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

I thought their was a missed opportunity in the center of the puzzle @24D for Cameo where "came off" appeared. All in all a very easy puzzle for me and a fun Tuesday. Two Ponies

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

I meant Camay not Cameo. Oops Two Ponies

Dov Lifebuoy 11:25 AM  

Tone's still available, but not at Uno.
Tone and Coast are both made by Dial.

dk 12:28 PM  

This puzzle Reminds me of two jokes:

Q. Don't know the song you sing a few bars?

A. Soap, soap, soap

The second is the no smoking symbol that has a puffin in the middle of a circle with a diagonal line through the puffin.

dk 12:29 PM  

should be: can you sing a few bars

doc John 12:30 PM  

I did this one faster than yesterday! Still way slower than Rex or Orange, though.

Lots of fun cluing today. I do agree with Rex that the HE'S clue was a lot of work for nothing.

The most interesting thing about this puzzle for me today is that I had a dream with REBA in it last night. That is particularly weird because if I were to choose to dream about a country singer, it would be Dolly Parton.

Good point about KYLE, Rex, although it didn't have any "weird" crossings like ASOK did (although IMHO, "bean" as a fill was quite a stretch).

Oh, speaking of the Hellman's/Best Foods dichotomy, when I was a kid in Miami, I noticed on the Hellman's jar that it was Best Foods west of the Mississippi. When we went to visit family in California, one of the first things I did was to ask to see a Best Foods jar. How nerdy is that? (I was six at the time.)

Great pic, Emily, as usual.

Karen 1:02 PM  

I liked this puzzle...I thought it was zippy, with the z and x and k words outside of the theme answers. I didn't pick up on the theme until I read the last clue. I like the word GAZEBO.

Doug 1:19 PM  

Kevin Spacey runs the Old Vic (or did until recently) and the Brits were none too pleased, but warmed up eventually.

Tone is made by the Dial Corp, which competes with Unilever, maker of Hellman's/Best Foods Mayo. Think that's a coincidence? Read on...

Unilever also owns Ben & Jerry's of which Cherry Garcia is the top flavor, and...

A Jerry Garcia movie is being produced by Justin Berfield of Malcolm In The Middle and more recently the film Kim Possible, also featuring...

Nancy Cartwright or "Bart" of The Simpsons, a colleague of...

Yeardley Smith, who when not voicing Lisa, makes movies likes As Good As It Gets with...

Jack Nicholson, who famously said "You can't handle the truth!" in a A Few Good Men with...

Cuba Gooding Jr, now a pitchman for Hanes Underwear, also promoted by none other than...

Kevin Bacon.

Rikki 1:26 PM  

Moved a friend all weekend, so I was catching up on puzzles last night. Thought this one was an angstrom tough for a Monday till I realized it was Tuesday's. That gave me a greater appreciation for how much of a challenge it must be for Will to make the puzzles increasingly difficult over the course of the week.

Went back and whizzed through yesterday's and liked them both. Alfalfa is one of my favorite characters ever. Leon... I remember that soapy song! Doc J... I was a mayo geek at an early age as well. I've known about their double presence, but never got the double entendre of their slogan. Very cool, Eric.

Emily... wow!

Frances 1:32 PM  

I liked the little gathering of news media in the SW corner: Ted Koppel, Katie Couric, and Itar-Tass. Each of them has a distinctive TONE OF VOICE.

Fergus 1:43 PM  

A little sheepishly I have to own up to thinking that SOAPS was referring to Soap Operas. ZEST FOR LIFE and TO DIE FOR seemed highly probable. COAST GUARD could be some nautical rescue melodrama; and IVORY TOWER its academic counterpart. TONE OF VOICE took the academic drama further with semiotics and hermeneutics ..., by which time I recognized I was falling off the limb I had gone out on.

A little problem with the crossing of SEWS and ALLOW, where leaving in a T for the W seemed OK.

Orange 2:06 PM  

Doug: Well done! Are you a fan of Ken Jennings' "6° of Ken Jennings" columns in mental floss

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

Ok someone's gotta say it: I cleaned up on this one, even if there were some hard to reach places.

No references to the old soap opera parody, with Billy Crystal et al?

Mile High Muddy

David 3:34 PM  

Two Ponies:
Perhaps 24D wasn't a missed op. "CAMEO SOAP" would appear to be another type of soap - at least it garners 280k hits on google.

SethG 5:42 PM  


Don't forget that the Bacon Brothers sang 'Boys in Bars'.

Which brings us full circle,


Thought LEADFOOT could be something TO DIE FOR. But I really wanted TO DIE FOR to be TWODERFUL --in Victor Borge's inflationary dictionary.

green mantis 8:47 PM  

I think cameo soap has a carved decoration, rather than being a brand of soap. They go in the guest bathroom and are not to be used.

Reuven 9:49 PM  

disappointed by the lack of Ani props here! Couple of weeks ago there was a "folk singer DiFranco" clue too.

If you haven't heard of her, a strong recommendation is warranted (especially for literary,left-leaning ilk), particularly for her early (pre-1998) work....

"squint your eyes and look closer, I'm not between you and your ambition. I'm a poster girl with no poster. I am 32 flavors and then some"

BT 10:50 PM  

I had never heard of Tone. Or so I thought. Then it rang a bell..

"Tone - with Cocoa Butter"

Haven't seen the commercial in YEARS (10 years? 20 years?) - but planted in my brain is that stupid phrase.

Targeted at women - you rub it on your legs (or at least that is what I remember about the TV commercial)

Fergus 12:08 AM  

Ms Mantis,

The guest towels weren't to be touched either. And none of those present would make the first contact. Some interloper or chance guest might trudge in and leave the soap dish in disarray with droplets that a fussy aunt might wipe away.

Anonymous 2:48 AM  

that a fussy aunt reminds me of the "c" for "a" substitution from the obit episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The "beloved @unt" LA Times Obit typo was one of those tasteless jokes that sticks (and those of us with a dark sense of humor--and who allow one proper profane word per Scrabble game--laugh at ceaselessly).

JW 11:41 AM  

Rex, it is the tax code, all 3.4 million words or 7500 pages of it.

Six Weeks Later Cathy 8:58 PM  

Ah-Ha! finally a time when being in syndication gives an advantage over those who live in the bosom of the puzzle - I grew up with Bring out the Best Foods and bring out the Best! and wondered how anyone ever made sense out of Bring out the Hellmans - why wasn't it bring out the Hell?

Oh wait, that wasn't in the puzzle anyway. Oh well.

I thought it was pretty easy. True, a few words made me pause and do the crosses, but I finished it with no googling and only twice Orange. I got stuck on the same cross of ALLOW/SEWS and had to run through the alphabet, then decided that i should try to develop a quick habit of running the alphabet backwards - might help me.

synda kate 11:07 PM  

I came here today hoping that someone else would have a problem with RAWER. Is this a common crossword answer? Maybe it's a regional thing. But really, has anyone ever actually said this word aloud? Did they say it and appear sober at the same time? "Sorry I was speeding. It's just that this weather is so much rawer than yesterday...ociffer."

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