TUESDAY, Jan. 22, 2008 - Adam G. Perl (EGYPTIAN TEMPLE SITE)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: DAILY PLANET (57A: Publication that is the key to this puzzle's theme) - three theme answers begin with last names of characters who work at the Daily Planet (in the "Superman" universe)

I stared at the puzzle for what felt like an eternity after I'd completed it, trying to figure out what the hell the theme meant. My confusion stemmed from the fact that there are two non-theme answers that are longer than two of the theme answers, so (naturally?) I thought they were theme answers. I'm used to the longest answers in the puzzle being themed. So here I was, trying to figureout what ELIZABETH I (3D: 1998 role for Cate Blanchett), LANE CHANGES, KENT STATE, WHITE LIES, and ADAM AND EVE (31D: Genesis duo) had in common. Finally KENT set off a "Superman" bell in my head, and then I saw LANE (Lois) and WHITE (Perry) and I realized that the long Downs weren't theme answers at all. Thankfully, none of this confusion had any effect on my ability to solve this puzzle quickly (and happily).

Though I read comics now (a lot - I start teaching a course on Comics in about, oh, 7 days), I did not read them growing up. I have a vague memory of my mother's buying me a "Howard the Duck" comic back in the late 70s (do you remember this, mom?), and I liked comic strips ("Garfield," "Peanuts," later "Bloom County") but I didn't start reading comics in earnest until I was a full-grown adult. Thus the "Superman" mythology has always been a little vague in my head - my ideas of it came largely from the Christopher Reeve movies. To me, the Daily Planet was a restaurant in the Tower District of Fresno, CA, where I grew up. I had no idea (I'm not kidding) that it was an allusion to a fictional paper. It was only recently, in fact, that I learned that Perry WHITE was the editor of the Daily Planet. I'd never paid attention to his name. I'm much more partial to Batman these days, for a host of reasons I won't get into. But I will admit that there was a time when my wife and I devoured the first four seasons or so of "Smallville." It's a time of our lives that we're ... not proud of.

Theme answers:

  • 21A: They require signals (lane changes)
  • 28A: Ohio university whose team is the Golden Flashes (Kent State) - took me Far too long to get this - I blame KARNAK. I also blame this clue's lack of a reference to a Neil Young song.
  • 47A: Fibs (white lies)

This puzzle was super duper easy, with only KARNAK (6D: Egyptian temple site) presenting any kind of obstacle to a quick solving experience. EUBIE (2D: Blake of jazz) was probably a bit challenging for some solvers, but I had the EU- before I ever saw the clue, and while I couldn't pick EUBIE Blake out of a line-up, his name came to me instantly. I'm listening to Mozart right now, but I should probably switch to Beethoven in honor of the two clues he gets today: 25A: Number of operas composed by Beethoven (one - "Fidelio") and 29D: Beethoven dedicatee (Elise). There - I just switched. As some astute reader remarked a few days ago, there are exceptions to the "90+% of everything is crap" rule which I (via Theodore Sturgeon, I think) set forth a few days ago. One of those exceptions is Beethoven.

What else?

  • 34A: Fancy flapjacks (crepes) - hmmm. Seems a stretch, as technically a "flapjack" is

1. Biscuit made from fat, sugar, rolled oats and syrup.

2. A thick pancake.

And a CREPE is neither of those.

  • 37A: Comstock _____ (Lode) - as part of our ongoing series, "#$#% Rex Should Have Known But Didn't," allow me to present "Comstock LODE." Had the "O" and my only thought was: SOUP.
  • 40A: Slacks material (chino) - "slacks" is one of the ugliest words in the English language, and one of my very least favorite words. The very word reeks of chafing polyester. I'm sure there are very nice "slacks" in the world, but I don't think I can even type the word one more time without making myself sick.
  • 44A: P P P, in Greek (rhos) - this is called "I Give Up"-style cluing.
  • 51A: Beehive State native (Ute) - So proud of myself for knowing what state this referred to. So angry at myself for doing an eyeskip and attributing this clue to 52A, where I had a terminal "A": "What's a native of Utah that's three letters ending in 'A'?," I exclaimed to myself, in my head. Answer: nothing.
  • 63A: Tunesmith's org. (ASCAP) - "Tunesmith" is up there with "slangily" in terms of "words you will rarely if ever see except in crossword clues."
  • 36D: Haul, slangily (schlep) - Had SCHLEP in another puzzle yesterday. It's got that nice opening four-consonant combo. It's an ugly-sounding word, but still doesn't bother me half as much as "slacks."
  • 33D: Israel's Abba (Eban) - File it away if you didn't know it. EBAN is one of my many crossword friends.
  • 42D: Rap's Dr. _____ (Dre) - "Bow wow wow yippy yo yippy yay" - DRE is probably the most common rap name in the puzzle world right now (though ICE-T has legitimate grid cred as well).
  • 56D: Doers of drudgery (peons) - Add "doers" to the list of nauseating words. We have a section in our local paper called something like "Doers in the Tier" - nope, here it is: "Doer's Profile." The word looks part German, part profane ... as if it refers to someone who wants to do something unspeakable to female deer. If I ever write a book cataloging my worst nightmares, it will be called "Doers in Slacks."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

43 comments:

Doris 8:44 AM  

Yes, Rex, "Doer's Profile" is indeed yucky. However, it is a play on the old "Dewar's Profie" Scotch ads of over a decade ago. Here's a sample:

http://store.vintagepaperads.com/servlet/-strse-8875/1992-Dewars-Scotch-Ad/Detail

They were quite popular for a while. Probably before your time.

Rex Parker 8:46 AM  

Doris-

Yes, before my time, but I like "Doer's Profile" a *little* better now, knowing that it has even a tangential relationship to Scotch.

RP

jls 8:57 AM  

dear mr. ihop -- a crepe is NOT a thin pancake? am i reading you wrong? since when? saith my american heritage dictionary (def. #5): a very thin, small pancake, often stuffed and rolled up.

most respectfully -- saying something with authority don't always make it so...

on another front -- learned of this place only last night (though it may have been on your radar for a while). are you aware of geppi's? it's a pop culture museum in baltimore noted for its *great* collection of comic strip art, comic books, etc. in combination with a trip to camden yards and a jaunt to fort mc henry, an excursion to geppi's could be the ultimate point of a fine triple play --

;-)

janie

Sandy 9:02 AM  

jls
yes, you do appear to be reading Rex wrong. He gives the definition of a flapjack as a thick pancake, and then says that a crepe is not that.
But don't worry - people read Rex wrong all the time.

jls 9:09 AM  

i'm the thick one!! -- and yes -- i saw "thick" and read "thin" -- which is why my solving times are soooooo unimpressive!!

apologies, rex and readers; thank you, sandy!!

;-)

j.

Rex Parker 9:11 AM  

Et tu, Janie?

:)

rp

GK 9:45 AM  

If you want to make "slacks" even uglier, spell it with an "x," as my mom used to do.

Orange 10:18 AM  

Didn't Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue use "doer" refer to the person who'd done the killing? Or am I making that up? Slacks do muddle the brain.

I saw Eubie Blake on Saturday Night Live in 1978. My god, would you look at the lineup of musical guests in the '78-'79 season?

Hydromann 10:31 AM  

According to Wikipedia, "In Canada, North America and South Africa, flapjack is another term for a thin pancake that is not only crispy, but slightly chewy as well. A largely defining attribute of a flapjack is its large diameter, commonly measuring 12" or more."

So there.

Speaking of comics, I guess I am showing my age, here, but does anyone else out there think that the greatest comic books of all time werre written/drawn by Carl Barks for Disney?

In particular, I used to to wait with agonizingly eager anticipation for the all-too-infrequent next issues of the "Uncle Scrooge" line. A few years ago, I received as a gift a hard-bound compilation of Uncle Scrooge stories and it was just as thrilling to read as a late 50-something as it had been when I was just one of the LADS!

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

In re: to slacks, why is this item of clothing called a pair of slacks? Is each leg a slack? You're right Rex, an ugly word. Two Ponies

PhillySolver 10:42 AM  

So how can I make mistakes on easy puzzles? Well, if you enter logon instead of LOGIN you go down a hard path. CLEANSE is ok and so is AGOG and ENE and LANECHANGE so you write in cole for slaw and viola!...an utter mess. Words that work with E_OLE don't eat at anything and C_ACE doesn't follow and thinking cornet (I don't consider a flying insect as big) leaves you staring at the NE for a long time. Yuck, but all's well that ends well.

REA has been in something like three of the past five puzzles I have done.

Rikki 11:09 AM  

Rex... chafing polyester, doer's in slacks... too funny.

Beethoven and Eubie Blake and a nice little theme in a zippy Tuesday puzzle.

I have no idea why I knew Comstock Lode which Wiki tells me was the first major silver mine discovered near Virginia City, Nevada. It yielded about $400 million in gold and silver which was about $500 billion in 2005 dollars. Hot dog!

12" flapjacks? Not on my griddle. So, flapjacks can be thick or thin, crisp or chewy. Pancakes are thin, crepes are the thinnest. Chocolate chip pancakes were the post-church breakfast treat in our house on Sundays. Yum. Can you tell I haven't had breakfast yet?

Re: slacks aka pants. In the UK, pants are female panties and slacks are trousers, so my hubby got some strange looks when he was in a store and told the salesperson he was looking for some casual pants.

Tata or as Tigger says TTFN...Tata for now.

PuzzleGirl 11:18 AM  

Pretty easy puzzle. Glad I didn't try to get it through the theme answers because Kent, Lane, and the Daily Planet would be as far as I got. White? Never heard of him.

Eubie Blake was awesome. I remember seeing him on Johnny Carson one time when he was about 90 years old. The man chain-smoked -- never saw him without a cigarette. Johnny said to him, "Eubie, you shouldn't smoke so much, you're gonna die!" Eubie responded something like, "Oh yeah? You gonna die too!"

@Orange: I believe you're right about Andy Sipowicz referring to a perpetrator as a "doer." I can just hear him saying it.

jae 11:20 AM  

Pretty good puzzle.

My Superman experience comes from the 50s TV series not comic books.

Hydroman, I was also a fan of the Disney comics as a kid.

Janie, I too am a member of the slower times-misread Rex club. It happens.

Now its clear why Letterman named his company World Wide Pants and not World Wide you know.

DONALD 11:45 AM  

Love the duck!

Doc John 12:36 PM  

Not much to say today except:
re: [34A. Fancy flapjacks] Did anybody NOT come up with CREPES right away from the clue?
My point being that yes, technically a flapjack is not like a crepe but the clue did lead you to the answer.

I, too, was wondering how ADAM AND EVE and ELIZABETH I fit into the Superman universe. Maybe they were newer characters? Apparently not.

Orange 12:41 PM  

P.S. Rex: If you are ever in Chicago, we will cheat on IHOP and eat at M. Henry. The blackberry bliss cakes are two fat pancakes (which the menu calls hotcakes) with vanilla mascarpone cream and warm blackberries in the middle. The bottom pancake is delicious soggy with blackberry juice. The top one is topped with crunchy oats and brown sugar, sprinkled with powdered sugar. This is the only non-IHOP pancake I will vouch for. The first bite from the middle with the mascarpone in it? Makes me slump back, overcome by joy.

Karen 12:45 PM  

Sturgeon's Law: "90% of sf is crud. But then 90% of anything is crud." The Beethoven example does not contradict this...he's the 10% of classical music good enough to recall hundreds of years later. Sturgeon's law has gotten me through many depressingly mediocre events.

I was always an X-Men person myself. For DC I liked the Green Arrow.

Agreed that it is an easy puzzle today.

Eric 1:00 PM  

Hydromann: I just added that definition to Wikipedia to make Adam and Will correct. What a wonderfully malleable truth we can create with Wikipedia.

karmasartre 1:03 PM  

Johnny-Crepes -- yum!

Rex, I liked "grid cred", maybe you have used it before but it jumped out today. Yes, Slacks is odd...how about tight slacks? Oxy, eh?

I knew the Beehive State from the Randy Newman song. A geography lesson: he also had songs about LA, New Orleans, Miami, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Texas, Cherokee County, Louisiana, Birmingham, Dayton, and Kentucky.

@Will -- I know the last two days' puzzles are intended to give me a false sense of solving prowess and fool me into entering the ACPT, but I'm not falling for it! Better luck next year.

puzzlemensch 2:05 PM  

This must be Yiddish month. Schlep is another Yiddish word that's very familiar on the streets of NY.

Leon 2:14 PM  

Later this year Superman celebrates his 70th anniversary. His debut in Action comics was June 1938.

Liked erat crossing the era/rea twins.

dk 2:46 PM  

Emily,

Please consider bees and crepes (thin pancakes, swedish pancakes or whatever) and if possible the Daily Planet for a drawing.

Thank you

dk

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

All these pancakes and crepes. That’ll show me not to put off lunch to do the puzzle.

I can't believe my alma mater is referenced for something other than May 4. (I know. What else is there to talk about, really?)

Easy puzzle, but stumbled: O’Neil, logon, idol, and for some reason, I blanked momentarily on Okla (even given the “O”—dope slaps himself) and Retyped.

More Marx Brothers: “Why a duck?”

Mile High Muddy

Aaron 4:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron 4:03 PM  

Not a solid theme, IMO, mostly because of the longer-ones-that-aren't-part-of-it fiasco. Not hard, though.

Chico 4:18 PM  

Viaduct? Vy not a chicken?

Fergus 4:30 PM  

Finally laid to rest years of confusion, thinking Eubie Blake was some sort of winter sportsman, a speedskater or a skier, perhaps. The jazz guy I thought was Ernie Blake, after the eponymous jazz joint on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley.

Passed the Comstock LODE on a sidetrip to Virginia City, having just read Twain's Roughing It. Pretty cool as far as hokey ghost towns go.

Thanks for the flashback to Dewars' Profiles. I always wondered whether all the smug bastards featured were deliberately made out to be obnoxious, in some abstruse advertising logic.

I would love to hear someone younger than seventy exclaim, "HOT DOG!"

markus 4:48 PM  

I'm under 70 and I've used "Hot dog!" before as well as "rubes" but I'm an eccentric old soul...
I guess I'll be adding "slacks" to my list of words that are not very euphonic in part from having to see it typed so many times today in the blog. So much so that it's lost all meaning.

miriam b 5:24 PM  

I think it was Ogden Nash who said

Ladies in slacks
Should not turn their backs.

Anyhow, I've noticed that the higher-end women's clothing outlets tend to refer to the garment in question as "a pant". This is supposed to confer an air of elegance or refinement, but it always brings to my mind the image of a drooling dog.

Re the Dewar's topic: I always had the impression that there was an intentional pun there. The people who drank Dewar's were DOERS, or in Yiddish, gantse machers.

Oscar the groucho 5:26 PM  

Oh, you want some ice water? Get some onions, that'll make your eyes water.

scriberpat 6:47 PM  

Rex a crepe is not a fancy thick pancake. True but if you can think of a tart as a fancy thick woman, it's not that much of a stretch.

Golfhead 6:59 PM  

Slacks, or slax aren't so offensive to me as "bell bottoms." Remember those?

When I hear "flap jacks" I can't help but visualize the movie "Groundhog Day" when Phil (Bill Murray) is driving around like a lunatic, smashes over a mail box, then crashes. The policeman from Punxatawnee (sp?) looks at Phil and Phil places a fast food order of burgers and fries. The guy in the middle of the front seat says .... "and some flapjacks." So Phil looks to the cop saying, "Too late for flapjacks?" It's too funny. Maybe the inn had crepes . . .

Michael 8:03 PM  

Where have Emily's drawings gone the last three days?

emily cureton 8:59 PM  

@ michael

my drawings are on my blog.
which is here

hopefully rex will keep posting the good 'uns occasionally so as to conserve your blog-checking energy.

also. this has nothing to do with crosswords.. but RIP heath ledger.
alas.

emily cureton 9:00 PM  

well crap. i dont think that link works. technological ineptitudes seep and erode my internet presence.
my blog is here: www.emilyjocureton.com/follies

John 10:01 PM  

Slacks and Moist should both be banned from the English language. A side note of irritation, I successfully completed the puzzle online, and the NYT program insisted that I got something wrong. After frustratingly scouring the puzzle, I came here to compare and I had gotten it right. Argh.

Anonymous 10:21 PM  

Orange: thanks for the reminder that SNL at one time had both decent music and decent comedy. The show has lacked both for some time now.

literarychica 12:32 AM  

"legitimate grid cred," love it! rappers are all over these crossword puzzles! now, when will i get my R.E.M. clue?

Orange 1:28 AM  

If you're looking for a link to Emily's blog of drawings, look no further than the sidebar to the right, under "Crossword Sites." (I list Emily's site under "Blogs of Crossword People" in my sidebar.) Don't we make it easy? Me, I added Emily's blog to my RSS feed, so I'm alerted whenever she posts a new picture.

Kim 1:55 AM  

I took an easy puzzle and messed it up as well in the same corner. A rookie mistake because the first clue I solved was the hydrocarbon suffix - could be ANES or ENES and I went with ANES. Later I realized that words ending with "e" are more common than "a" so I should have tried ENES first.

I also wrote LOG ON instead of LOG IN and there you have a fine mess!

William E Emba 11:38 AM  

I got KARNAK from KAR--- instantly, because I read too many comics. Over in the Marvel universe, there's a tribe of superpowered beings called the "Inhumans", and one of them, their master martial artist, is named Karnak.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

CAlady said
Rex, how could you grow up in Fresno and not know of the Comstock lode? Its in every California history book-even the ones we had in junior high. Don't the schools teach home state history anymore? Sorry, but when I think of all the obscure (at least to me) things you know, it seemed that this one ought to be a gimme.

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