TUESDAY, Feb. 19, 2008 - Victor Fleming (FLAGSTON FAMILY PET)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Golfing - three 15-letter theme answers about golfing, each one clued the same way: [Enjoying an outing, of sorts]

Never golfed in my life, so the enjoyment factor today was a little low. None of the theme phrases have much zing, but I'll have to take the puzzle's word that these are apt golfing phrases. The first one seems OK, though ON THE GOLF COURSE (20A) could describe squirrels as well as golfers. PLAYING EIGHTEEN (39A) was rough for me, because when I first saw it I had no idea golf was the theme and so I wrote in PLAYING EIGHTBALL. Needless to say, that didn't last. HITTING THE LINKS seems like the best of the lot to me, though I had HITTING THE NINES (56A) at first (guessing, wrongly it seems, that such a phrase might be used in reference to playing NINE holes).

I liked two things about this puzzle

  • The placement of L. RON (25A: Scientology founder _____ Hubbard) on top of its anagram, LORN (36A: Forsaken).
  • The pair of long Downs - MY MISTAKE (35D: "I can't blame anyone else") and LOQUACITY (10D: Talkativeness). I imagine someone using the word LOQUACITY incorrectly, then, after getting called on it, saying "MY MISTAKE." I also like that I got LOQUACITY off of just the -CITY part. There's a bad joke waiting there: What city do talkative people live in? Tell that one to your friends and watch them stare at you in horror / disbelief / pity.

I'm most surprised, and disappointed, today in the volume of ultra-common crossword fill. A quick tour around the grid reveals far too many old "favorites":

  • GRAF - 18A: _____ Spee (old German warship)
  • ARIA - 14A: Oratorio highlight
  • YIPS - 1A: Puppies' plaints
  • SLOE - 49A: Gin flavoring
  • EXEC - 65A: One hired by a corp. board
  • LEE J - 5A: Cobb of "12 Angry Men"
  • IRANI - 2D: Tehran denizen ["denizen!" One of many great clue words today. See also "sloganeer" and "slangily"]
  • EBRO - 6D: River of Spain
  • EL AL - 7D: Mideast airline
  • REAS - 12D: Actor Stephen and kin
  • ESTE - 13D: Renaissance family name
  • EN LAI - 21D: China's Zhou _____
  • STEN - 30D: British W.W. II-era gun
  • ELLA - 33D: Former Connecticut governor Grasso [mitigated by interesting, unusual clue]
  • EGRET - 50D: Everglades wader
  • HIES - 60D: Doesn't dally

Apologies to any stalwarts I happened to leave out.

Curious and / or cool entries:

  • 15A: Di or da preceder in a Beatles song ("Ob la") - don't like that it's a partial, but do like that it reminds me of the Beatles' White Album and The Police's "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" simultaneously.
  • 17A: "What _____ Did" (classic children's book with a punny title) ("Katy") - get it? Katydid? Here's a pic:

  • 23A: "Gets the red out" sloganeer (Visine) - misspelled this at first (Visene). Most recent pitchman for this product is Ben Stein.
  • 32A: Sister of Marge Simpson (Selma) - SELMA gets all the love. Poor Patty.
  • 47A: Flagston family pet (Dawg) - I have No Idea what this means. Luckily I knew who HEGEL (41D: Georg who wrote "The Philosophy of Right") was, or that "G" would have been lost to me ... actually, I would have guessed "G," but only out of desperation. Oh, it seems, from another clue in today's puzzle, that "Flagston" is the last name of comics' hottest couple, "Hi and Lois" - 63A: Hi Flagston's wife, in the comics (Lois).
It's funny because it's true.
  • 66A: McCann of country music (Lila) - no idea who this is. Give me good ole Thom McAn any day of the week.
  • 67A: Cheated, slangily (hosed) - as in "you got HOSED, dude." Once again, I must exclaim ... slangily! Someday, I hope to see "sloganeer" and "slangily" in the same clue.
  • 68A: One of "The Addams Family," informally (Tish) - short for Morticia.
  • 1D: Comic Smirnoff (Yakov) - his fifteen minutes ended several hours ago. Nothing brings back Reagan-era ethnic comedy quite like the name of YAKOV. See also the sitcom "Perfect Strangers."
  • 3D: Actress ZaSu (Pitts) - you see ZASU from time to time in the grid. PITTS, not as much. Interesting.
  • 8D: Port of Israel (Jaffa) - wife and I both entered HAIFA here first. I fought through it. She ... did not.
  • 29D: "The _____ Love" (R.E.M. hit) - Mmmm, freshman year of college. My favorite thing about this song (R.E.M.'s first mainstream success) was that some people believe it was a love song (the title says so!). Here are some lyrics:

This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I've left behind
A simple prop to occupy my time
This one goes out to the one I love

Romantic!
  • 22D: Trolley sound (clang) - you know what I've had in my head ever since I finished this puzzle? "CLANG TONG YANG went the trolley! Ding ding ding went the bell!"
TONG - 31D: Chinatown gang
YANG - 43A: Yin's counterpart

Floor drain in basement is not ... what's the word? ... oh yeah, draining, so encounter with plumber is on my horizon. Wish luck.

Oh, and the Chronicle of Higher Education article about this blog came out on-line yesterday (should be out in paper soon, I imagine - it's password protected, so not available for general readership; I have a pdf file, but I'm not sure of the legality of posting it for all to see). It features a very professional pic of me. The article itself is fine, except for the claim that my "growing readership has made [me] WEARY of [my] underground celebrity at crossword tournaments." WARY might be right, possibly LEERY. But WEARY, no. First of all, I barely have any "underground celebrity" to be WEARY of. Second, whatever "celebrity" is there, I assure you, I have not grown WEARY of it. You are all free to treat me like a celebrity any time the fancy strikes you.

The article also reveals one of my (actual) celebrity readers, and I apologize to her for that. I thought I had indicated to the interviewer that that information was private, but it's very possible that I didn't make that clear. Anyway, I hope she forgives me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

61 comments:

Sam 7:51 AM  

I don't like "alined" -- shouldn't it be aligned? Which, of course, wouldn't fit.

"Hi and Lois" is an awful cartoon that featured the Flagstons. 63 across refers to this Lois, owner of the now (in)famous "Dawg". Does it still run?

treedweller 7:54 AM  

Huh. I thought yesterday was easy but today I took way too long and still had to google for "GRAF" and "LEEJ" (otherwise never to get away from "HAIFA"). How have I missed these "stalwarts" in my years of puzzling?

It was nice to see a couple of clues tying into the comics, another interest I apparently share with Mr. Fleming, though still a little disappointing that both were related to one of those really old, not-very-funny ones.

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

Rex, u think ur encounter w/ a plumber is bad? The walls in my house are being torn down in order to fix a septic system vent

Jim in NYC 8:58 AM  

Rex, I like the "subtitles" you've begun to add to each daily blawg. They add focus.

This puzzle was easy for me (my own particular background, yadda, yadda), but no faster than usual. So I'm now convinced that I have an irreducible minimum 15x15solving time, based on the workings of my brain and my right arm. I'll have to try new ways to get under it, maybe by changing my seating arrangement, or the lighting, or something. Any ideas? Can you get IV adrenalin on-line?

Phineas 9:01 AM  

Pretty bland Tuesday, but appreciated the theme in that I will actually be HITTING THE LINKS with my father in law this very afternoon (Houston forecast: 70 degrees).

The last time there was a golf theme, about 3 months ago (I'm thinking a Saturday or Friday so maybe just a mini-theme), both clues and answers were fairly questionable, even to an extremely avid golfer like me. Today's were just boring, yet all are very much in the language.

I still bristle over shameless use of product / company names (VISINE), a throwback to the old days. But I couldn't do Fri/Sat puzzles back then so I should take an ATRA to those bristles.

Mo 9:12 AM  

Yes, a pretty average puzzle, hardly had to stop at all...it's always weird going back to Monday/Tuesday type puzzles after the battles of the weekend.

Love the OBLA clue...funny connection--I just saw basically the same clue in a 2004 (May 23) NYT Sunday puzzle that I worked last night, in which 92-A, "Start of a Beatles title," was OBLADI. I'm working through some older NYT Sunday and late week puzzles that I hadn't done before to get ready for the tournament.

Rex, I just read the Chronicle piece (since I'm lucky enough to have an online subscription through my school), and congrats on the story, though I didn't see any pictures with it. I'm still wondering about why you first told us it was going to be a story in Cat Fancy or something like that.

Orange 9:14 AM  

Nobody's golfing in Chicago—the snow mostly melted on a rainy, warm Saturday, but then it froze solid so parkland looks like a bumpy skating rink.

Aline seems to be mainly an old, no-longer-used spelling for align. It used to pop in the crossword a lot more often.

Orange 9:16 AM  

P.S. Hi and Lois is still running.

Liz 9:35 AM  

I bogged down in the SE corner for a while when I had redact instead of revise. After erasing I filled in essay for 55 Down and soon finished without having to look up anything despite my almost total ignorance of comics.

I am enjoying the comments again with a full sized window thanks to the merge windows trick.

Naja 9:39 AM  

"You must be the creator of 'Hi and Lois' because you are making me laugh." Comic Book Guy, The Simpsons

We're voting today here in Wisconsin. Voting and freezing.

PhillySolver 9:40 AM  

I am as about a competent golfer as I am a crossword solver, but I still see a few golf ideas hiding in this puzzle. When someone misses an easy putt, we say he has the YIPS, we hate RAIN on a Saturday, fight the GLARE on the green when EYING a long putt (VISINE helps) and a guy who says he has a 14 handicap and then shoots 72, HOSED us. Oh, yes, we also see a lot of EXECs and ASIANs on the course these days. BTW,I have a 14 handicap, honest!

JC66 10:02 AM  

Liz,

Glad I could finally help.

JC

Jim in Chicago 10:03 AM  

The OED does give aline as an alternate spelling, but only if you begin with align, there is no corss reference from aline as such, although it does have A-Line, as in a style of skirt and "in a line", which is sort of like aligned, I guess.

I didn't know Lee J Cobb, Obla or Ebro, which left me with a couple empty squares in N. Dakota. On a Tuesday, no less. Jim hangs his head in shame.

Is fishing line really made of nylon?

parshutr 10:22 AM  

As my nickname indicates, I'm an orthodox, devout golfer. I was very surprised to see that golf as a verb has made it into the dictionary.
These days my goal is to shoot my age for 18 holes...my best so far is age + 8 when I was 64.
My handicap? Weakness and arrogance.
BTW, what is the merge windows trick? I'm working in a tiny rectangle!!

JC66 10:48 AM  

parshutr,

If you're on a Mac and running Leopard & Safari, after opening the Comments Window, just go back to Rex's page, then under the Window drop down menu, click on Merge All Windows and the Comments Window will become the same size as Rex's.

Rikki 11:02 AM  

Hi and a happy Tuesday to all. I've been neck-deep in a project with barely time to breathe, much less blog, but I've eked out enough time to do the puzzles and I caught up on reading a week's worth of Rex et al on Sunday, which was as fun as the puzzles themselves.

I flew through this one without pausing last night and it was a pleasure after plodding through the weekend and even yesterday.

Yes, Jim, fishing line is nylon. I wonder what it was before nylon. No time to look it up, but I'm sure someone will tell me.

Parshutr... I never parsed your nickname correctly. Duh of the day. I come from a golfing family, but prefer liquid ground to solid, my goal being to hang ten. I did try the virtual golf on a cruise ship once and that was a hoot! And I used to take my dad's clubs out and drive his old balls into the woods with my girlfriend. I sliced one once and hit her right in the forehead. Yow! Oops. Sorry.

Noam D. Elkies 11:03 AM  

Yes, 7D:ELAL is a crossword cliche, but here it's fittingly adjacent to 8D:JAFFA. Of course I also had the equally fitting HAIFA there at first -- even if I had considered JAFFA (a.k.a. Yafo [Hebrew] or Yaffa [Arabic]) I wouldn't believe 5A ends with Y -- and so wasted an extra minute at the end recovering from that wrong turn, ending up way over my Tuesday average.

The variant (but logical) spelling ALINE is also much more common in crosswords than in the Real World(TM). www.m-w.com/dictionary/aline does yield a link to "align" as well as the A-line entry. At least here (46D), unlike 8D, the more natural alternative doesn't fit the grid...

Cute clue for 55D:ESSAY (Lamb or Bacon piece), but the unavoidable capital letter for the second-named author removed any chance of misdirection -- and just as well on a Tuesday puzzle.

NDE

parshutr 11:25 AM  

jc66...thanks, but I'm on a PC. Not my choice, it belongs to the j o b...
So, anyone know how to restore the maximize window option for the blog on this machine?

william e emba 11:41 AM  

Hi and LOIS trivia: Beetle Bailey is LOIS' brother. In fact, BB was spun off from H&L way back when. About 3 or 4 years ago, BB visited his sister's strip for Thanksgiving.

Big Lefty 11:50 AM  

Parshutr --

Right click, not left, on comments, then left-click "open link in new window."

I liked the puzzle a little. The long answers weren't a great thrill. Neither is golf anymore. After 14 years of golfing every week at a country club I'm taking this year off.

parshutr 11:54 AM  

Thanks, big lefty. [does your name refer to politics? handedness? -- just curious].
I've been playing for almost 50 years; for me, life IS golf, the rest is just waiting around.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Does anyone have a favorite pencil that they use to do the puzzle? I print the puzzle without shading to save on ink, but when I fill in with pencil the lead tends to spread and create shadows that bother me. I can't seem to find a pencil that won't smear. Any help?

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

@ big lefty
Thanks. How did you know?

Orange 2:22 PM  

Anonymous Pencil Seeker: I've been using the same mechanical pencil as Al Sanders (of Wordplay/ACPT fame). It's the Pentel Twist-Erase with a sturdy 0.9 mm lead. They cost about $8.50 for a two-pack.

artLvr 2:27 PM  

Thanks also for yesterday's tip on enlarging type on a Mac -- hit the the Apple key, then the plus!

I liked the word SQUAT, that's about it...

Good luck to Rex on the drains, to the Anon with septic repair, and me with kitchen sink fouled up.

∑;(

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

Did anyone else put dying for checking out? Nollie

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

"DAWG" (Flagston family pet) is southern for dog, people! If you've ever watched a UGA (Bulldogs) football game, you've head the whole crowd yell "GO DAWGS! SIC EM! WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!" And UGA actually sells bumper stickers that say "GO DAWGS"

Fergus 3:02 PM  

Most recent Simpsons had Comic Book Guy as the new owner of CBGB, where he explained the initials, though I can't recall exactly what the second B stood for.

Here's a bit of golf trivia: LINKS is often used to denote any golf course, but should properly only be used to refer to the the seaside scrubland, aka linksland.

Brief flirtation with Marxism came to a an end with endless banging on about HEGELian dialectic. Think Marx is still worth reading, though.

Has the Pencil Seeker worked with a pen? I find it makes me a better solver, if only since it forces one to consider more possibilities before inking in the entry. There's also a bit of sophomoric glee in completing a flawless puzzle in ink. But there's also the ugly mess where you have to REVISE your REDACT when you're zipping along too recklessly. The ink discipline is even more helpful later in the week, I find.

dk 3:03 PM  

Glad to see my old friends STEN and SLOE. And, I liked the positioning of LRON and NOEND.

On the pencil item, I moved to a fine point pen that allows me to make corrections without much of a mess. The benefit, to me, of the pencil is I can do the puzzle in a thoughtful repose... and it (pencil) keeps writing.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

Profphil

For Israeli port I first had Eilat which did not work with any of the acrosses. Switched it to Haifa and that worked better with all but graff (which I was almost sure of) but went with grai. Lee J Cobb definitely rings a bell but went with Lee H Cobb instead. Knew Jaffa but it usually is almost considered a part of Tel Aviv and went with the 2 other major ports of Israel: Eilat and Haifa. Thus, did not think of Jaffa although Jaffa oranges are wonderful and are available here.

doc John 3:47 PM  

Kind of a flat puzzle today but at least it put some fun thoughts into my head:

I'm reminded of a line from an old SNL Czech Brothers skit, spoken by Steve Martin: "HOSED? Count me in!" Complete transcript and pictures
Another SNL tie-in of sorts: LORNe Michaels, its longtime producer.

I'm a big REM fan yet couldn't come up with "The ONE I Love" without a cross or two. You gotta love a song that has a title like that and then goes on to trash the object of the song. Michael Stipe famously said he would never write a love song and stuck to that pledge for years. When he finally did break down and write one it was the enormous hit "Losing My Religion".

And not to leave out my favorite band, Steely Dan, I was reminded of their great album, KATY Lied, by Rex's posting of that pic. A similar pic of a katydid is on the cover of that album. If you only get one Steely Dan album, that's the one to get.

Speaking of SELMA from the Simpsons and CLANG, guess what version of "The Trolley Song" is now running through my head? The one with Martin singing it, of course.

Rob G. 3:53 PM  

doc john,

THANK YOU.

Give the bully an extra point.

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

We don't get your joke about being talkative! Explain!

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

Glad to hear someone else put Haifa first.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

I give this puzzle a C-

Stalwarts they may be, but that tiny 4x3 grid of the north still contains five(!) proper nouns! This seems to break one of Shortz's own cardinal rules.

Also, since when do you need to be a puzzle veteran to solve a Tuesday? Only a veteran would know the answers to these clues.

Big Lefty 5:22 PM  

Parshutr --

When I was pounding the ball out there a long way 10-15 years ago, I got the Big Lefty nick. Then an internet golfer from somewhere in Britain said it's slang for a bar. Ha.

Anon . . . I didn't know how to expand, just saw it up in the corner and figured right click might show something. And it did. :)

I thought of "loquacity" first then said nah and put in "wordiness." As you can see there are zero letters that match.

Mo 5:32 PM  

Forgot to mention in my earlier post...The Chronicle has a policy whereby if a subscriber emails someone else a link to a story, that person has five days to read the story for free (at least that's been the policy). So...if anyone wants to read it, just mail me at morris.pelzel@gmail.com, and I'll send it to you.

HappyDad 5:34 PM  

Awesome article in the Chronicle: with a front page teaser, no less!

Congrats... h

emily cureton 6:29 PM  

is anyone else grossed out by squat and oozes being in such close proximity to one another? i can't exactly say why...

Ladel 6:48 PM  

Anyone know how to fix the pop up box sizing on a machine running Vista?

ArtLvr 6:53 PM  

Dear Emily -- please give us more drawings? xxxx

The Sports Bot 7:03 PM  

I usually do Tuesday puzzles in around 8 minutes, but this puzzle was incredibly hard for me for some reason. I finally just gave up. Very frustrating.

emily cureton 7:07 PM  

oh yes. on oozes/squat being unsettling...
http://www.naturesplatform.com/images/pseudo2.gif

@artlvr
new drawing just posted. and today's is on the way.

joe 7:17 PM  

@anonymous

I had dying too. Really messed me up.

BT 7:18 PM  

CBGB's (in Simpson's): Comic Book Guy's Bar

Real Life: Country Blue Grass/Blues

Pop-up box re-sizing: I don't think it's fixable. The blogging code got updated "fixed/upgraded" on Feb 12th. I think they made a change on that time that screwed things up. Not sure if there is code or a toggle that can be flipped to make it re-sizeable.

Ladel 7:27 PM  

A balk is not just committed on a pitch to home, you can do it to first as well. It usually is an accidental jesture that could fool a runner into thinking you were about to pitch when you weren't. Did everyone realize you need a baserunner to have a balk?

Dan 7:36 PM  

Today's puzzle? Meh. I'm just excited to find out about the celebrity reader. Hope it's Christina Applegate!

Instead of the pop-up, try clicking the title of the post, which brings up the post with comments below. Before the update, I had to click the teeny timestamp to get to the "permalink". So for me, it's an improvement.

jim in nyc: I like the "subtitles" you've begun to add to each daily blawg. They add focus.
Hopefully they add readers too - this is a trick to attract googlers, as we learned from JimH. (I can't imagine traffic here has dropped considerably...) It's interesting to see which clue Rex expects to be the most-googled.

ArtLvr 7:40 PM  

@bt -- The pop-up box can still be resized on Safari.

Happy to report that the kitchen sink is OK now... It seemed to take miles of snake to lose the OOZE.

Thanks to Mo for forwarding the neat Rex article!

∑;)

ArtLvr 7:50 PM  

p.s. Thanks, Emily.. Your page didn't update yet but I'm looking forwatd to it.

Rex, your comment on perhaps being "wary" but not so much "weary" reminds me of time I was quoted as saying something was a "knotty problem", -- and it came out in print as a "naughty problem". Arrg.

∑;)

Anonymous 8:07 PM  

It sure was reassuring to see that so many of you had fallen into the same trap as me (ie HAIFA for 8D.) Unfortunately I had never heard of Lee J. Cobb or Graf Spee, so I stuck to my guns and ended up with 2 letters wrong. Live and learn.

One funny comment... when I had the initial two letters of 23A ("Gets the red out" sloganeer,) I tried VIAGRA. Anyone else make that mistake? Of course I erased it within the next 10 seconds or so, because it didn't fit with the down entries...

[And dare I say that that their slogan would more likely be "Gets the lead out"?]

emily cureton 8:11 PM  

i also love the idea of radial loquacity....
just talking in circles!

Leon 8:41 PM  

Thanks William e Emba for the Beetle Bailey / Lois Flagston connection.

In keeping with the theme, Hegel Golf Shirts.

billnutt 9:28 PM  

My sainted daddy loved to golf. He took me out on the course one time. The less said about that, the better.

I like references to comics strips, but two to the same one (and especially a rather lame one like HI & LOIS) seems more like laziness than like a mini-theme. Now if FLAGSTON itself had been an answer, I would have been relatively happier.

Great cluing for SELMA and HOSED. And Rex, thanks for the pic of those pups.

LEE J. COBB was in one of the all-time great movies, ON THE WATERFRONT. He also created the role of Willy Loman in DEATH OF A SALESMAN on Broadway. This is the first time in a while that I remember seeing both his first name and his middle initial in the answer.

treedweller 9:37 PM  

Ladel:

In XP (so maybe in Vista), using Firefox, I can right click on the link to the comments and open them in a new tab, which is the same size as all the other tabs.

Rikki 9:49 PM  

Anybody know if the club CBGBs is still in New York? We have an old, yellowed ad from when my husband played there as a young rocker, opening for the Ramones.

Doc John... of course I thought of Katy Lied, too, though I'd have to vote for Aja as my favorite SD album.

Jim in Chicago... before nylon, fishing line was made of linen, cotton, or silk. Nylon monofilament line was invented by DuPont and marketed first in 1939 but braided dacron was used for the next couple decades. Now it's primarily nylon.

Anonymouses (anonymice?), just wondering if you are aware that if you choose the Name/URL button, you can put a name or alias in there. It's hard to keep you all straight and we're a friendly bunch here.

wendy 10:37 PM  

rikki, nope, CBGB closed in 2006. Patti Smith played the last gig there.

Fergus 10:45 PM  

I guessed it was CMG's Base.


Rikki, CBGB tales. I went there in both 1983 and 2001,
in between before and after
Syd Straw sung a great song
from there,
entitled
at CBGB's
on new year's eve

Marybeth 12:44 AM  

I lived right across the street from CBGB OMFUG on the Bowery back in 1980. Yeah, it stands for Country, BlueGrass, Blues, and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers. (The FULL title of the joint.)

I also had DYING for "checking out", maybe 'cause my Dad just died. Took me a while to come up with another meaning for that phrase. I got fooled with HAIFA/JAFFA too. My first guess on 9D was "GO EASY", but that didn't last. Otherwise it wasn't too bad for me.

Anonymous 2:13 AM  

"Dying" made sense at first--fit the definition, and "eying" is a variant spelling; "eyeing" is the normal one (a point of which the form where I'm typing this is unfortunately ignorant; it's underscored the second, proper spelling in wrist-slapping red). Sheesh.

Ladel 6:43 AM  

Treedweller, many thanks for your suggestion about openning in a new tab (Vista) worked just fine, even with explorer. Must be the good air up in the trees.

Laura 4:50 PM  

*Some* lyrics to "The One I Love"? Those are the only lyrics, repeated several times. Oh, yeah, there's also that "Fire!" part.

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