TUESDAY, Jan. 29, 2008 - C.W. Stewart and J.K. Hummel (SHOWMAN HUROK)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "They Can Be Rolled" - 39A: What 17-, 26-, 50- and 60-Across have in common

I am convinced that the hardest puzzle to do right is the Tuesday puzzle. It's the forgotten middle child, or the one-horse foothill town on the way from the sunny coast of Monday to the snowy alpine heights of Friday and Saturday. Or, if you are going from L.A. to Las Vegas, Tuesday is Barstow. What I'm saying is, it's not easy being Tuesday. Tuesday has an identity crisis - "Who are you, Tuesday? Well ... you're easy, but not the easiest ... no, you can't be tricky; Wednesday and Thursday are already sharing that role," etc. If there is one day of the week that I am most consistently dissatisfied with, it's Tuesday. It's rarely calibrated right. Ooh, here's another metaphor. It's like the awkward years as one moves from cute child to vibrant adolescent. In short, Tuesday is a gangly 'tween. Thinking of Tuesday in this way makes me a bit more sympathetic to its particular challenges, and inhibits my instinct to tear it a new one on a routine basis.

For a change of pace, I read the Across clues to my wife last night and we filled in as much as we could that way. Surprisingly, we filled in all but six answers, and three of those were long theme answers. We had a few answers wrong, but still, the whole thing was pretty easy. Too easy. Kind of dull. The theme - well, my wife's first statement on discovering it was, "wow ... that's bad." I defended QUAKER OATS for a few seconds - they're "rolled" oats, right? - but then she pointed out the phrasing of the theme - "they CAN be rolled." If they've already been rolled, then ... isn't that inaccurate? And while a MOVIE CAMERA can certainly be rolled, so can a ladder or a cat if you put wheels on it. Oh, wait, did you mean "rolled" like "roll it!" - as in, "roll the film!?" Wow, I think I like that less.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: It may end up in the gutter (bowling ball) - got it with no crosses
  • 26A: Sweater style (turtle neck) - took some brainstorming, but got it with no crosses
  • 50A: Classic breakfast fare (Quaker Oats)
  • 60A: Item on a set (movie camera)
In a different, darker world, LITTLE OLD LADIES WITH LOTS OF CASH and JOINTS would be in this puzzle.

Here's what we had wrong on the first run through the Acrosses:

  • 6A: Reunion group (class) - we had ALUMS
  • 23A: Spy's device (tap) - we had BUG, and flirted with CAM
  • 33A: Exploding stars (novae) - we had NOVAS; can you blame us?
  • 46A: One on a pedestal (idol) - we had BUST

And here's what we had blank:

  • 29A: Runs out (elapses)
  • 68A: Sees red (fumes)
  • 70A: Center of power (locus)

Answers worth mentioning:

  • 9D: Showman Hurok (Sol) - sometimes not seeing the Down clues is a good thing. NO idea who this guy is. The other showman - 11A: Showman Ziegfeld (Flo) - was a gimme. Learned his name from crosswords (by now, you are thinking this is true of half my vocabulary).
  • 6D: Stellar swan (Cygnus) - actual (young) swan is a CYGNET, not to be confused with SIGNET, a seal used to mark official documents (or a paperback imprint).
  • 30D: Common union demand (pay hike) - my favorite answer of the day. Vibrant.
  • 54A: Butyl ending (-ene) - we guessed this right. Hurrah. I answer all chemistry clues by prayer and intuition.
  • 13D: Country/rock's _____ Mountain Daredevils (Ozark) - we had a "country/rock" clue just yesterday (Steve EARLE). You gotta love words with both "Z" and "K" in them.
  • 37D: Mullally of "Will & Grace" (Megan) - loved her character, but the show eventually began to grate on my nerves, and I stopped watching.
  • 44A: Tony Soprano and cohorts, with "the" (Mob) - obvious. This is another show I used to watch in its first seasons, and stopped watching. Boredom. Over-familiarity? Over-exposure? I don't know. "The Sopranos"'s EDIE Falco was in the puzzle yesterday.

Your crossword vocabulary for the day:

  • 38D: Fred Astaire's sister (Adele) - would be forgotten by Everyone were it not for her being just about the only grid-worthy ADELE in existence. Keep an eye out for American journalist ADELA Rogers St. John.
  • 61D: "_____ y plata" ("oro") - my wife groaned at this clue and then when I told her it was "ORO," she said "oh, that's like the state motto of ... Montana?" I was so proud. It's true. I think it's also the only state motto in Spanish.
  • 32A: Slave girl of opera (Aida) - after ARIA, this is the second-most important piece of opera vocabulary.
  • 67A: Disney mermaid (Ariel) - gimme gimme gimme. Mermaid competes for attention with Shakespeare's sprite from "The Tempest."
For some reason, a reporter from a national publication is flying (that's right, Flying!) out here to interview me today. No, he's not from the National Enquirer. Don't be a jerk. You really want to know? OK, two words: Cat. Fancy.

In other news, today is the first day of the new semester. Ugh. I mean, Hurray! (actually, it will be good for me to leave the house once in a while).

Take care,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Orange 8:31 AM  

Quaker also makes steel-cut oats, which are cut, not rolled. Good gravy, man, can ye not Google?

Happy teaching, happy interview!

Orange 8:33 AM  

...So while you're not doing the rolling yourself, Quaker Oats can be rolled, but are not always.

Rex Parker 8:37 AM  

It's not a matter of what Quaker makes (@#$#@ your snarky Google comment, ma'am). It's a matter of the phrasing of the clue. OATS can be rolled, for sure. Quaker OATS are already packaged as a product, thus the rolling is already done. I realize that the "can be rolled" in the clue treats "rolled" as an adjective, but it's still icky. I can roll all the other things, but I cannot roll a Quaker Oat. Well, I could roll over it with my car or a rolling pin, but ... that would just be silly.


Leon 8:53 AM  

Cheese wedges rolling down a hill, an annual event in Scotland.

Trader Vic , purported inventor of the Mai Tai, and Cygnus/ Novae in the same puzzle -Out of this World.

Leon 9:12 AM  

Correction, Duke of Gloucester - Richard III, England.

PhillySolver 9:46 AM  

Well, I was on a roll today!

I often find Tuesday's puzzle easier than Monday's and it happened again today. I am in an awkward stage when it comes to Google. I used to rely on it and am trying to wean myself to the point that I don't do what Orange appears to be doing...looking stuff up to confirm things. I guess that is a sign of Puzzle Maturity Syndrome.

I watched Word Play the other day from Net Flix and loved the deleted scenes in the bonus section. In particular, I enjoyed the interviews and history of some of the more notable puzzle constructions.

PuzzleGirl 9:47 AM  

Seriously? Cat Fancy?

rick 9:47 AM  

If you check the database I think you'll find a lot of SOL Huroks.

Also, I think the majority of chemicals in Crossworld end in ENE with an occasional ANE.

Hydromann 10:01 AM  

If you're too young to have registered Sol Hurok on your radar screen, you might want to check him out on Wikipedia. A nice summary there.

Perhaps as good a measure as any of his cultural importantance is the fact that his 1974 funeral, attended by a crowd of 2,000, was held in Carnegie Hall! No too many who can claim that!

Liz Ellis 10:08 AM  

Maybe cats like crossword puzzles too. I'll have to ask mine tonight.

dr jam 10:12 AM  

Another thing that can be rolled is a drunk, or a hoop. This could go on and on, merrily.

Jim in Chicago 10:27 AM  

A few things today. First, I guess you actually can roll Quaker oats, just turn the container on its side at it will roll just fine.

To Leon, I believe that in Scotland (and Vermont as well) they roll the entire wheel of cheese, not a wedge, which would be difficult to roll, since it isn't round any longer.

My downfall was "Wonderful, slangily" for which I entered FAT, and I still maintain that FAB is a very old fashioned sort of slang at this point, does anyone still say FAB?. That left me with TOWLINGBxxx and for the life of me I blanked on BOWLINGBALL and couldn't figure out why anyone would put any kind of a towel in the gutter. The correct answer was the last thing I filled in.

All in all, easy for a Tuesday, and it passed the "bus test" with ease.

joaneee 10:33 AM  

Phillysolver, I think not googling to confirm (after you are done) may be carrying PMS to extremes.

JC66 10:45 AM  

hydromann, do you think Sol Hurok practiced too much, or not enough?

Rikki 10:56 AM  

Hmmm... just wondering how your interview will be touted on the cover:

Cool Cat Crosses Words
The Cat Who Blogs (a la Lillian Braun)
Litter(ary) Professor Puzzled
Blogger: A Rare Breed
Three Letter Word for Feline

Re: Tuesdays. I think in retrospect that Tuesday puzzles are indeed the ones you slam the most, though this one was breezy and fun. Being a middle child, I liked your analogy.

Nit of the day: How often do you roll your turtleneck? Really, don't you actually just fold it over once? If you rolled it, you'd look plain silly and it would never stay rolled. It would keep unrolling up your neck. Folded. That's my fashion advice. Turtles, on the other hand, can be rolled... onto their backs, that is. But then they flail their little legs around trying to get upright again and you feel so guilty, you have to right them.

Happy New Term, Rex. Roll on!

emily cureton 11:00 AM  

hitting the big time with cat fancy! im jealous.

Rex Parker 11:02 AM  

While I am enjoying all the enthusiasm for _Cat Fancy_, I feel the need to say that I was kidding. There is indeed a reporter headed here, but he's from a much less funny-sounding publication.


Eric 11:37 AM  

Oh that's disappointing. I was hoping to catch a feature article on the art of rolling cats.

Orange 11:48 AM  

I could roll a cat—down a very, very long hill, please.

You know, I think Barstow was a vacation prize on Merv Griffin's Crosswords back in the day. I bet they had to retape every single reaction shot to hide the winner's disappointment at being sent to Barstow. (Speaking of MGC, I'm scheduled to be on it Wednesday, February 6!)

Phillysolver: Umbrage! I take it! I'm not Googling to confirm because I'm uncertain. I'm Googling to grab edifying links for my blog post, or to learn more about an answer so I'm ready for it the next time it's in a crossword. "Googling to confirm"...you make it sound so seedy.

Which is not to say that Googling to confirm is at all a bad thing. It's not. It is far better to confirm that you had the right answer, or learn where you had a mistake, than to blithely fill in puzzles incorrectly and never know any better.

I'm totally rambling now, and Cat Fancy will never pursue me.

Orange 11:49 AM  
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ArtLvr 11:54 AM  

Rolling one's eyes at a pun, etc.?

jae 12:01 PM  

Easy for me also. Only misstep was EROS for AMOR. I agree that the THEME was a bit weak. I would have gone for DOOBIE over JOINT but maybe that's a generational thing.

Aren't OSE and ASE also in the chemical family?

On seeing phillysolver "google for confirmation remark" I was looking forward to Orange's comeback as I scrolled down the stack. I wasn't disappointed.

miriam b 12:09 PM  

I can't believe that it took two people to construct this cinchy puzzle.

@rick: It's possible to find an ONE or INE as a chemical ending, though I don't think I've ever seen either in a crossword.

I'm SO old that I can tell you without benefit of Google that Sol Hurok was an amazing impresario who introduced many phenomenal artists to American audiences. One was Marian Anderson. He was usually known simply as S. Hurok.

@jim in chicago: FAT doesn't mean "Wondeful, slangily" you're thinking of PHAT. So you're stuck with FAB, which I agree is old-fashioned. I think it survives principally as the name of a popular laundry detergent.

Not Cat Fancy? I'm truly disappointed. I was hoping you'd give advice during the interview. I need to know how to keep cats off a puzzle in progress.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

"Tuesday's child is full of grace" not the least because it brought Sunday's 'room' to completion. Yes, Virginia, there is a sanity clause.

How do you get to Cat Fancier magazine? Practice, practice, practice!

Rikki 12:24 PM  

Awww...cat lovers everywhere are sorely disappointed!

Re: googling... either when forced to in order to complete a puzzle (usually either Fri or Sat or both for me) or after I'm finished with a puzzle, to look up the things I didn't actually know, but got anyway, I am ever awed by the vastness of information available at the touch of a few keys. This is the internet at its finest. I've learned so much that I never would have researched on my own from doing puzzles. Go Google! For those who think that googling is cheating, get over yourselves. I certainly don't take credit for "solving" a puzzle that I needed outside help for, and one of my goals in life (after hanging ten) is a google-free week of puzzling, but I also wouldn't (as I used to pre-internet) leave a puzzle undone when I could fill up to my heart's content at the fountain of knowledge. Or take the lazy way out and check with Rex, Linda, Orange, and now JimH. You guys rule!

@jae... If I've been a good doobie (tell me you remember Romper Room) do I get a joint?

doc John 12:34 PM  

Hey, I use FAB all the time (sometimes extended as "Faboo")! And I'm only 46.

As for OSE and ASE, ASE is a typical ending for enzyme names such as "polymerase", which might be familiar to you from Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR, used in the technique of DNA sequencing and analysis.

A compound ending in OSE is typically broken down by an enzyme ending in ASE, i.e sucrose and sucrase.

Interesting that there were two homophones, yes homophones, in the puzzle- ADO and ADIEU (well, as long as you don't pronounce it in a stuffy French way). As for ADIEU, it also goes with ALOHA.

PuzzleGirl 1:00 PM  
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PuzzleGirl 1:02 PM  

I, too, eagerly anticipated Orange's response to the accusation (and I don't think that's too harsh a word) that she Googled to confirm. :-)

I feel like I've been given my "in" to report to you the very funniest magazine name I've ever seen. Hope you like it.

Chip Ahoy 1:06 PM  

I often forget there's a puzzle early in the week, stopping to solve one before getting on with it can be like stopping to fill out a medical form. Just blow right through it, if it takes two full passes then you're not paying attention. I liked this puzzle, but it is a bit like that, it occurs to me the authors, bless them I do adore them all, overlooked opportunities to be a bit funnier.

eyes in annoyance
red carpets all too often
nuns down a hill in a joke
poo by dung beetles
tank treads

marcie 1:57 PM  

@puzzlegirl... technically, would ingesters of those fish be indulging in coprophagia?

just wondering ;-)

dk 2:48 PM  

What is black and white and read all over?


What is black and white and red all over?

A penquin rolling down a cliff.

Blasphmers may sub nun for penquin.

PhillySolver 3:05 PM  

I have been away doing volunteer work for MANNA (our local AIDS and nutrition program) and am surprised by some of the reception to my earlier post, Let me paraphrase, I came to honor Orange, not to bury her. My words were meant to convey that I am trying so hard to do these puzzles on my own that I eschew Google at almost any cost (full disclosure again, by Friday I am usually there), that I don't go to confirm answers or do research until after I read Orange's blog or come here. So, what I meant by Puzzle Maturity is that if Orange does it, it must be okay. So, I now feel free to Google after I have made my entries and it amy lessen the learning curve.

doc John 3:28 PM  

I look at it like this- if I Google before I write in my answer, it's "cheating" or "giving in". After, it's "research"! (Of course, if I got the answer wrong, then "research" then became "cheating"!)

emily cureton 3:30 PM  

i dont think you can top cat fancy.. statistically.. i wonder if there is a strong market overlap between cat people and crossword enthusiasts? i know i live with four cats AND i love puzzles. someone should give their editorial department a heads up.

Phineas 4:16 PM  

May we inquire into the provenance of the tweens and the French Horn? That wouldn't be Rex in the 1980's, would it?

mac 4:49 PM  

I think you are onto something, Emily! My favorite clue was Old Timer, 48A. Doesn't locus just mean place or point? I enjoyed this Tuesday puzzle, no ref. mat. / google required.
Orange, I'll be sure to watch your performance, I didn't realize the caliber of M.G.C.!

Karen 5:45 PM  

Puerto Rico (technically not a state) also has a motto in Spanish. There's on in Greek, one in Hawaiian (guess), one in Chinook which surprisingly hasn't been used yet, and a territory with Samoan. Thanks, wikipedia!

Very fast puzzle for me today.

billnutt 6:16 PM  

"Rolling, rolling, ain't gonna worry no more..."

I'm not sure, but I suspect that Steve Earle wouldn't be that thrilled being lumped in with Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

johnson 6:56 PM  


Which station carries M.G.C?

What time?

Will you be wearing orange?


Let us know when the article comes out.

Anyone else parse THE "Y" CAN BE ROLLED?

Kim 7:00 PM  

While we're on a roll: die, drunks in an alley, dogies - you know, like in the "Rawhide" themesong.

Celebrities abound! Orange on the Merv Griffin Show, Rex featured in some unnamed publication. Very impressive!

"Faboo", Doc John? In public?

doc john 7:11 PM  

Well, not in PUBLIC public!

flightdoc40 7:14 PM  

hate to go off-topic, but for the sake of the-french-word-is-better: in southern louisiana, the name for crappie is sac-a-lait. pronounced sock-a-lay

Orange 7:16 PM  

Some people like to roll their R's, but a two-letter entry is against the crossword rules.

MGC is syndicated, so the stations vary by city (and many cities don't carry the show at all). See here to find your local station and airtime(s). Note, however, that the info may be outdated. (No orange—it looks terrible on me. Sort of a greenish turquoise cashmere V-neck.)

Little-known fact I learned at pub trivia last week: If Puerto Rico became a state, it would be the nation's 27th largest by population.

Phillysolver meant no harm

And really, for the rolling of QUAKER OATS, I was just joshing. Sometimes I can't resist the snark, and Rex knows this.

Slash02 7:22 PM  

Seemed like a pretty easy-ish puzzle as my google finger never really got itchy until the end. I had "focus" instead of "locus." Locus of control, I know about that. What sounds better, focus of power or locus of power . . . made easy by the "dermal" going down. I had dermaf and at first wondered what that was.

I'm off to enjoy a Hires. (I wish.)

jae 7:34 PM  

@doc john -- is it legit to clue OSE and ASE as chemical or would biochemical be more accurate??

@rikki -- in the 50's Romper Room of my childhood Miss Nancy would have been more likely to reward a good doobie with a REEFER.

rick 7:59 PM  

I google afterward all the time (that sounds lewd somehow).

There are words I know are right because of the crosses but may not know who they are or what they mean.

@jae, that's MADNESS!

Bob 8:04 PM  

This puzzle can be rolled up and stuck in the wastepaper basket.

Rikki 8:14 PM  

No Bob! It was kind little Tuesday puzzle. Well, at least recycle it.

@Orange...I saw you in Wordplay. Green is perfect! And snark away, you're the only one who gets away with it.

Sac a lait is bag of milk. They must be some funny looking fish.

@Billnutt... I haven't heard the Ozark Mountain etcs. in 25 years and I heard them twice today. And Jae, mine too. The years of the last general to be king, when Reefer Madness was the worst that could happen. PhillyS...I got it.

Rex... is it Horse and Hound? Home and Garden? Popular Dictionary?

Badir 12:28 AM  

I guess I have to believe that this is one of the easiest _NYT_ crosswords I've ever seen, since I broke 7:00 for the very first time today. (I still haven't done it on a Monday!) And I feel that Wednesdays are the most uneven in terms of difficulty. My best Wednesday times are pretty close to my best Tuesday times, but some Wednesdays take longer than Thursdays, which typically take me twice as long as Tuesday. So Wednesday times can reasonably vary by a factor of 2 for me, which isn't really true of any other day.

Orange, why no orange on _MGC_? I guess we're going to have to identify you by name, rather than color!

doc John 2:13 PM  

@ Jae- well, they're still chemicals so I'd say "chemical ending" is acceptable.

rosebud 11:16 AM  

6 weeks late, but still....

Loved "Old timer" for SUNDIAL, but isn't that a break with tradition given that OLDIE was another fill in this grid? And RED was the answer to 64D as well as an important part of the clue to 68A "Sees red". Can we now use grid fill in our cluing?

Anonymous 7:22 PM  

Fab passé? Not as long as BBC America continues to carry AbFab reruns.

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