WEDNESDAY, Mar. 19, 2008 - Gary Whitehead (DECEPTIVE TALKER)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: JAM (56D: What 20-, 37- and 53-Across may do)

This puzzle was quite easy except for the part where I had to dig the @#$# theme answer out of its hiding place, all squirreled away down there in the deep, deep SW. I had just two words down there: ATE AT (61A: Really bothered) - which always makes me laugh because it looks like A TEAT - and ITO (57D: "Am _____ believe..."?), and nothing else would come. This was annoying not just because the theme-revealing answer was down here, but because there was a chocolate question that was not a gimme. I love chocolate - how is that possible? Perhaps it's the Chocolate Gods' way of paying me back for completely forgetting to make the pilgrimage to Jacques Torres's chocolate shop when I was in Brooklyn. I won't make that mistake twice. The clue: 64A: Chocolatier's gear (molds). The only thing my mind's eye could see was a white apron, and maybe a funny chef's hat. I decided to quit trying to hack into the corner and instead tried to figure out what the theme was by looking at the already-completed theme answers. What does a LASER PRINTER do? It ... jams. Literally, first thing I thought of. So what did I learn today. When all else fails, try actually thinking. Most disappointing revelation: the word JIVER (56A:Deceptive talker). Man, that's just a horrible word.

One quibble with the theme: printers JAM, and HARD ROCK BANDs (even wizened ones like Def Leppard) JAM, but TRAFFIC does not JAM, exactly. At least, not in common usage. You can be stuck in a TRAFFIC JAM (noun). Maybe TRAFFIC could JAM the roads ... but something about the TRAFFIC answer feels off: The PRINTER JAMmed, yes, the BAND JAMmed, yes, the RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC JAMmed ... you be the judge. We had traffic JAM here yesterday as anti-war protesters blocked traffic and tussled with police. That kind of stuff never ever Ever happens around here. Surreal. Worst part - at least two accidents in the lanes on the other side of the divided roadway from the protest. That's what slack-jawed gawking at 50 mph will get you (58D: M.p.h., e.g. - VEL). My favorite quotation from the write-up of the protest: "Pepper spray is pretty serious."

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Desktop publisher's need (laser printer)
  • 37A: Commuter's woe (rush hour traffic)
  • 53A: Def Leppard, for one (hard rock band) - I can't believe I brought up Def Leppard just a couple of days ago (re: "Rock of Ages"), completely out of the blue, and here they are today in my puzzle. I have to admit that in the 80s, this band was an exceedingly guilty pleasure to me. Should I put them on iTunes ... well, Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" is on right now, and it's too epic to stop. Maybe after it's finished.

Wife was grumbling this morning as she left the house about having trouble in the NW, where "some card game I've never heard of crossed some car I've never heard of." MILLE Bornes (1D: _____ Bornes (card game)) was one of those games I played maybe a handful of times in my life, and its name went copmletely out of my head until it was forced back into my head by a crossword puzzle I did some time in the past year. IROC is another word that exists in my head only because of crosswords. So I feel my wife's pain. A little.

I like all the thematic pairings (and triplings) in this puzzle, intentional or not.

  • A couple of big cats: CHEETAH (14D: Spotted speedster) and OCELOT (24A: Wild cat)
  • A couple of baseball answers: ORTIZ (26D: Baseball's Big Papi) and TIE (28A: Baseball rarity - timely, as there have been at least one of these in the preseason so far, though that may have been in some game that didn't count, as I don't see it reflected in the official standings)
  • Three clues from the Middle East: AGA (41A: Turkish V.I.P.), PLO (11D: Mahmoud Abbas's org.), and ARABS (32D: Most Al Jazeera viewers)
  • And three kinds of automobile: IROC (13A: Sporty Camaro), AUDI (35D: Q7 maker), and REOS (55D: Model T contemporaries)

Other stuff:

  • 4A: Parasite's need (host) - gross. I like it.
  • 32A: Company with a spokesduck (Aflac) - annoying. I feel sad to have lived long enough to see "spokesduck" enter the language.
  • 45A: Did a glissade (slid) - the letters are all there, right inside "glissade."
  • 49A: Like Duchamp's "Mona Lisa" (goateed) - most entertaining answer of the day. Had the GOA- and had to think on it a bit. That's not just any GOATEE. That's a super-waxed Dali special. Awesome.
  • 59A: Fair-hiring org. (EEOC) - brain wanted OSHA, which is more common in puzzles than EEOC, but in this case happens to be completely wrong.
  • 63A: Fishing boat (dory) - jeez louise, this word. I see it everywhere in my puzzles now. It's the New Black. A word I'd never heard of before xwords.
  • 6D: Bollywood costume (sari) - great clue for a common word.
  • 8D: Tutor of Nero (Seneca) - Just mentioned SENECA yesterday in my 17th-century lit class, so he was, weirdly, on my mind.
  • 21D: Clinton's first secretary of labor (Reich) - he is tiny.
  • 22D: Word with fire or water (tower) - I could have guessed words for the rest of my life and never come up with TOWER here. Thank god for crosses. [HA ha - I wrote "Table" here at first - ignoring my correct grid. That's how counter-intuitive TOWER seems to me: even my subconscious is vetoing it]
  • 27D: "Vissi d'arte" opera ("Tosca") - had the -OS-, ran through my mental opera-name checklist, done. This clue could easily have read simply [Opera] and I'd have solved it as quickly.
  • 29D: Way to indicate mistakes (in red) - I find that students don't care for this so much. The criticism is bad enough - red just makes them feel bludgeoned.
  • 33D: Bach offering (fugue) - a word remarkable for the enormous distance between the ugliness of the way it looks/sounds and the beauty of the phenomenon it describes.
  • 39D: More or less vertical, at sea (apeak) - wanna throw me off: go nautical. Yipes.
  • 49D: The Cratchits' Christmas dinner (goose) - Inventive clue. God bless us every one. Except the goose; him, we eat.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS, I'm getting a lot of mail about [Hawkeye's home] = IOWA, with people insisting that Hawkeye Pierce was from Maine ... my answer: this clue has Nothing to Do with "M*A*S*H." A "Hawkeye" is a person from Iowa, just as a "Buckeye" is from Ohio and a "Sooner" is from Oklahoma.


Eli Barrieau 9:05 AM  

As a fellow teacher (of the high school variety), I find I need the red pen because that's the only color the students don't use. I could probably get away with a blue pen, but yuck!

Rex, how do you (or do you at all) try to address the fact that the puzzles are getting easier because you are becoming a better solver? I would guess that a "medium" puzzle from eightteen months ago would be fairly easy to you now.

While appreciating the guilty pleasure of Def Leppard (they rock so hard, spelling doesn't count!, I can't think of them as a jam band.

Ulrich 9:12 AM  

Funny, I got stymied at exactly the same place as your wife. Guessed the "i" in square 13 (the last square I had to do) b/c is would give me the most French-sounding word I could think of and then googled for the car and game to verify. Except for this spot, I found this puzzle easy b/c all unknowns resolved themselves through crosses.

Bill 9:16 AM  

Shouldn't 22D be tower, not table?

jls 9:18 AM  

and i got stymied at the exact same place as you. *not* a happy occasion -- but still enjoyed the solve. that whole little sw corner held me up. among other wrong turns, kept wanting "viper" for "jiver" but then could make no sense of "vam."

hope you'll listen to tosca sometime. it's tuneful and eminently listenable!



Alex 9:22 AM  

Easiest Wednesday ever for me (and I feel like I've been saying that repeatedly in recent weeks).

My only small hangup was not wanting to put in VEL for "M.P.H., e.g." since technically MPH is a scalar value while velocity is a vector value. I know that colloquially they are perfectly equivalent but too many years of physics classes had me immediately discounting the correct answer in the puzzle. I was trying to get SPD (speed) to fit in.

Talleyho 9:40 AM  

I also had only ATEAT and ITO in the SW and got slowed down trying to figure out JAM. I was thrown off by the R_R triplet in each of the three theme answers, which sent my brain on an RANDR/QANDA type run.

Eli Barrieau 9:41 AM  

Regarding the Duchamp: The initials at the bottom of the picture, phonetically say that she has a nice backside (only a little more coarse, and a lot more French).

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Fire or water "tower", not table

Jim in Chicago 9:52 AM  

Same problems, same place, except I didn't even have ATE AT, since I think of that as sort of a slow eating away, and "really bothered" indicates a sort of white searing heat to me.

Clever theme, mostly nice fill, a pleasurable Wednesday (except for Baja California.)

I like the crossing of ORTIZ and ORO.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

L.H.O.O.Q. -- "Elle a chaud aucu," or something like that, as I recall. Used to have this on a license plate.

For "Most Al Jazeera listeners," I wanted . . . OK, I won't go there. Wouldn't have fit, anyway.

Easy puzzle, though like you guys, I had trouble coaxing "JIVER" to come to me, and needed several crosses before "MILLE" would drift up. Never heard of the game.

Jim in NYC 10:33 AM  

Anon 10:11am: Always something new, useful and important in Rex's blog. Following the demure hint from Eli, I figured out the "... au cul" part in the Duchamp caption. Thanks for supplying the rest. Now, who the heck was this Duchamp character?

ArtLvr 10:40 AM  

I was "on a roll" until everything was done except the NW, then went back up there and got stuck! Had "paper printer", which soon corrected to LASER PRINTER, but I still wanted "ham" and cheese for 1-A. (I still object to the clue's "and" -- who says "Mac AND cheese"? If you don't say it as cheeseburger, then it's surely "Mac WITH cheese"?)

It didn't help that the type tends to run together: "rn" becomes "m", so the card game at 1-D was seemed to be clued as "___ Bomes"... Bummer! Had to google Rex, card game. Ah well, MILLE. As in "Mille Bornes"... Merci mille fois, or thanks a bunch!

Directly under MAC was an auto I never heard of -- IROC? Cutesy for "I Rock"? Thus I rock, and roll my eyes.... At least I could now COAST on my own to the anticlimactic conclusion.

Now I'm going to do a few other puzzles via cruciverb, just to cheer up in face of the current flood watch. More basement wetness coming, I fear.


p.s. Sorry to hear of the students' demo going badly, Rex -- we don't need another Kent State! Ironically, a cousin of mine who was teaching at Kent back then was visiting me in Maryland that milestone weekend -- and we were in the midst of an eerily similar but non-lethal demonstration! For him it seemed to be a case of into the frying pan, but out of the fire.

patdugg 10:42 AM  

I paused for a second before filling in SEA for [Tasman ___] because it is crossed with the clue [More or less vertical, at sea] for APEAK. Crossword rules be damned these days!

Orange 10:42 AM  

Eli, I'm typically faster than Rex. But it's still possible to assess the relative difficulty. I expect a Monday or Tuesday puzzle to take less than 3 minutes, a Wednesday to be in the 3 to 3:30 range, Thursdays 4 to 5 or so, and so on. If I zip through faster than expected, I call it easy; medium if it's par for the course, hard if it takes me longer than usual. The same relative ratings hold; it's just that the scale shrinks.

Talleyho 10:49 AM  

Artlvr, the "mac" of mac and cheese is macaroni, not a Big Mac.

miriam b 10:50 AM  

artivr, you seem to have had in mind a Macdonald's burger with cheese. As a semivegetarian (or "flexitarian") I thought immediately of macaroni. EDAM was in the vicinity, so now I'm hungry.

ArtLvr 10:52 AM  

p.p.s. I can't see what Duchamp wrote, but the traditional play on words was "Qel cul tu as", a pun on HMS Calcutta....


John Reid 10:53 AM  

I loved this puzzle! Although, it gave me a sense of deja vu. Haven't we had a 'things that jam' puzzle previously?

My only slip up was the TIE/REICH cross. I'm almost never good with names, and only marginally better with sports in general. So for a long time I had TEE for 28A. It seemed plausible; in fact I'm pretty sure that I played tee-ball during some gym class way back when. Wikipedia, however, says that it's officially a different sport from baseball, so I guess that rules out the possibility of this answer being acceptable.

I was looking over the puzzle a while later and noticed 'reech' - I thought it looked wrong and I was able to find and fix the mistake. I was lucky to see it though. And I still didn't know who Reich was.

I played a lot of Mille Bornes as a kid - otherwise I'm sure I would have struggled with the IROC cross too.

@Artlvr - Mac and cheese is short for Macaroni and cheese. I only know this from having a friend whose daughter used to more or less live on the stuff!

Gnarbles 10:59 AM  

Just a nitpick. An oiler isn't a crude carrier. An oiler carries fuel out to other ships and refuels them at sea. The oil is diesel or fuel oil refined from crude oil.

ArtLvr 11:02 AM  

@ talleyho -- Hoho, the joke's on me. I'll bite -- macaroni has become "Mac"? Lo-fat, no doubt. MacAnchees. Thanks!


JJJ 11:04 AM  

I'm surprised by all the question marks about IROC - it was a rare gimme for me. It stands for "International Race of Champions", an auto race run using identical cars for all the participants, ostensibly to reward driving skill more than owner resources. The Chevy Camaro IROC Z-28 was the car used in said race. I still had to guess a letter in Mille, but it was because I don't know my bible wives.

PhillySolver 11:11 AM  

APEAK is a rare nautical term, but gives me a chance to report on some more common nautical terms that are used or misused beyond the sea.

A skyscraper is a sail above the royal on the main mast, but it isn't necessarily the highest sail. If used, that honor goes to the moonraker. A wheelhouse is just a shelter away from the elements to protect the steering wheel (I think baseball announcers misuse this term often). A jury mast and the process of installing it, called jury rigging, reflects an emergency situation when a mast has to be replaced while at sea. A figurehead is almost always a depiction of a woman's bust (not ATEAT) and not related to the snotty, who is a midshipman. The scuttlebutt is the water barrel and served like the office water cooler for a temporary break site. A washboard prevents the sea (the wash) from entering the gunwale with the cannons were not in use. A bumpkin is a projection from the hull for tying down sails that extend beyond the deck. The job of securing them usually went to the lowest ranking sailor. And finally, I wish I could report a waterboard was reserved for a captain who brought the ship into a battle without an exit strategy.

Ahoy, maties! Keep your ship from becoming apeak, because it means you are about to go under. Oh, yes, the term isn't really about the ship, its a position for the oars when the rowers are to let the boat go adrift, but being ready to start rowing in a hurry. Think of whalers.

Rex Parker 11:17 AM  


What Orange meant to say is that she is Always faster than I am. Literally, always. Someday that may not be true. But for now, it is.

But yes, the puzzles are getting easier for me, and yet "relative difficulty" remains the same. I just adjust my expectations (for instance, I used to be happy to finish a Sunday under 20, but now if it took me that long, I'd almost have to rate it "Challenging"). I hope that even if my times aren't the same as those of my average readers, my general sense of challenge level still might be.


Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Please somebody explain 42A--IDEO


PuzzleGirl 11:22 AM  

I, too, had trouble pulling the theme out of that damned SW corner. And the TRAFFIC clue, well: "One of these things / Is not like the other / One of these things / Just doesn't belong...."

I have fond memories of playing MILLE Borne with cousins as a child. Only I couldn't remember if it was spelled MILLE or MILES. I think one of my cousins pronounced it MILES, so that's probably how I got confused. Or maybe it's just because it was, like, a hundred years ago.

If I ever start up a company I'm going to use a made-up word with lots of good crossword letters in it as its name. Then I'm going to put some random, annoying animal in all the TV ads. Maybe an erne. Ha!

Note to self: Review Clinton's cabinet.

@alex: It's funny how too much knowledge can slow us down sometimes. It doesn't happen that often for me, but I always get a kick out of it when you all explain how an answer/clue combination I take for granted is actually more complicated.

@anon 11:18: The clue is looking for a prefix for the word "logical." Ideological.

And, Rex, I can't believe you mentioned anti-war protesters in your post. Could you please just stick to the crossword puzzle? ;-)

One final question for everyone: Do you wanna get IROC'ed?

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Ok nevermind.

Ideo as in ideology, "A combining form from the Gr. /, an idea." --still don't like the clue.

SethG 11:29 AM  

I'm sure that puzzles are getting easier for me as I get better, but this seemed _really_ easy for me for a Wednesday. I lowered my best time by 3 full minutes (to less than 2X Orange!), faster than I've ever done a Tuesday. My times are worlds away from Orange's or Rex's. I nearly always agree with his assessment of the level.

My only (brief) hangup was JAM/VEL, which I can partially blame on hanging out _way_ too late last night (this morning...) with some musician friends while they JAMmed.

And, Rex, I can't believe you didn't include a picture of a spokesduck in your post.

jae 11:44 AM  

I liked this one. Had a few missteps, MUSHY for SAPPY, ETUDE for FUGUE, HAM for MAC, and knew IROC but not MILLE. SW was the last to fall as I too had to think about JAM and MOLDS.

@philly -- thanks for the nautical lesson!

Noam D Elkies 11:46 AM  

Anybody else here remember /usr/games/mille? I too started out stumped by 1D until I realized that it was the same game that I wasted too many hours playing 10-20 years ago on text-only terminals. The computer's strategy was so predictable that one could score the theoretical maximum with some regularity. Never played the original card game...

Good thing I remembered MILLE because 13A:IROC means zilch to me. Besides that, smooth sailing until the bottom third, which took some time to piece together even with 49A:GOATEED and 56D:JAM in place (and after correcting the same brain-burp OSHA for 59A:EEOC). I too misread 61:ATEAT, taking it to be an a- prefix adverb (as in 9D:AFIRE) until reading the obvious explanation here. 66A:NES? Whatever. I looked up "super nes" on Google and am sorry I did...

Anybody else bothered by "On the horizon" = 48D:AHEAD? Something can be on the horizon but way off to the right or left, and of course it can also be ahead of me but much closer than the horizon.

FWIW I wasn't bothered by the odd JAM on 37A. The first two letters I got in that entry were the unlikely pair HH, but the matching FF on the other side (plus the C from TOSCA) soon clarified it.


PuzzleGirl 11:51 AM  

@noam: I think the "on the horizon" clue is meant figuratively, not literally. As in, "I've been stuck in this dead-end job forever, but there's a promotion on the horizon."

JJJ 11:58 AM  

I'm okay with traffic "jamming", but I had a different issue with the theme. In two instances (traffic and printer) jam is used in the same sense (get bottled up and stop moving) and in the third (rock band) in a different sense. I would have preferred all the same sense, or even better, three different ones (like the stuff you spread on bread, the stuff between your toes, i don't know).

Joon 12:00 PM  

loved today's puzzle, and not just because i blitzed through it in a time typical of mondays (for me).

the duchamp clue was totally outrageous. obviously, i loved it. jim in NYC: duchamp was a surrealist/dadaist artist known for really wacky, and often highly amusing, pieces of art. a fascinating character, not least because he stopped making art halfway through his life and started playing chess full-time.

i don't mind the word JIVER (and i didn't get hung up there, since JAM came to me pretty quickly), but i dislike the clue. something like "kareem's character in airplane, for one" would have made me smile.

i also really dug def leppard, although i wanted something like EIGHTIESHAIRBAND or GLAMMETALBAND, neither of which fits.

alex: the more precise distinction to draw is not between vector and scalar, but between units (MPH) and physical quantity expressed using those units (velocity). "MPH" isn't an example of velocity, so the clue should not read "MPH, e.g." i suppose "1 MPH, e.g." would be okay; 1 mile per hour is an instance of a speed. also, "velocity" is one of the many words that has a more precise physics definition than colloquial definition; crosswords are all about thinking about different possible usages for language. for instance, i don't think anybody would have a problem if FORCE, ENERGY, or POWER were clued in a non-physicsy manner. arguably, they could all be used as clues for each other, even though in physics they're totally distinct ideas.

Joon 12:03 PM  


i think "on the horizon" is referring to a temporal coordinate, not a spatial one.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Interesting no one commented on SE corner. EATON stationary? I only buy the cheap stuff I guess. And never have tried nor wanted to try Nintendo which I am told the NES refers to. Stuck in the N only because it looked the best

Guess I'm an out of step septuagenarian...

ronathan 12:14 PM  

I always find it amusing when other people find stuff hard that I think is easy, and vice versa. I got NES instantly (because I own one that still works) and IROC pretty quickly (my friend's dad had one when I was a kid).

But count me in with the people who have never heard of MILLE Bornes. I looked it up on Wiki; it kind of looks like something you'd play in a French Driver's Ed class.

Rex, it's funny that you mentioned 29A "Hawkeye's home". I think I found this one the most challenging (except for the SW corner, which confused me for the same reasons as it did you). I COULD NOT get my brain to associate "Hawkeye" with anything other than Hawkeye Pierce, and kept trying to get MASH to fit in there. When that didn't work, I spent WAY too much time trying to remember the name of the town where the 4077 was located in Korea, but couldn't come up with that either. As I recall, the camp actually moved a couple of times throughout the series. And then it finally dawned on me that Iowans are commonly referred to as "Hawkeyes", and I slapped my forhead repeatedly in frustration for being that dumb.

ronathan :-)

Eli Barrieau 12:20 PM  

I too, usually agree with Rex. I just wasn't sure if we've had an unusual spate of easy puzzles or if Rex's sudden jump into the rarified air of the puzzling elite, left him feeling that everything is easy. (Imbedding "puzzling elite left" is unintentional)

Orange: Love your comments, love your blog, cripes; probably love you too, but you're not human. In the Boston Globe, there was a story about Kiran Kedlaya. Apparently he practices his alphabet to shave seconds off his times. Do you (or anyone else here) do that, too? It's really a lovely mix of geekiness and kick-assness.

PuzzleGirl 12:22 PM  

Thanks for adding the bit about the IOWA clue. I remember reading somewhere that Will Shortz has received accusations of inaccuracy with that same clue/answer combination from people insisting on a M.A.S.H. connection. As an Iowa resident and a University of Iowa fan, I was disappointed that "Atop the podium in St. Louis this weekend at the NCAA wrestling championship tournament" didn't fit. Go Hawks!

Gary 12:43 PM  

Dear Rex,

I enjoyed reading your thorough commentary on my puzzle. I'm glad the deep SW gave you some trouble, epecially since the key to the theme was there. It's funny, I did my own puzzle this morning, and because I created it nearly a year ago (yes, the wait time can be that long), I'd forgotten a lot of it. And that corner even gave me trouble!

Regarding your comment on RUSHHOURTRAFFIC, I have to disagree. On good days rush hour traffic moves along. On bad days it jams. Nuff said.

Glad you clarified "Hawkeyes' home," especially since I lived in Iowa for two years. I'm sure a lot of people were thinking, no, Radar was from Iowa, not Hawkeye Pierce.

I admit that JIVER is a stretch. But Will Shortz let it fly, and that's good enough for me. I think it's in the American Heritage dictionary. I'm at work, where I only have Webster's Collegiate Tenth Edition.

Anyway, it was fun to see someone giving my puzzle more than just a glance.

Look for others coming up. He has three more of mine that he accepted. One might be the April Fool's puzzle.


Gary Whitehead

Eric H 12:51 PM  

Add me to the list of solvers stymied by the crossing of the card game and the car. GRRR! There, I feel better now.

Kate 12:52 PM  

MILLE Bornes was a gimme, I grew up playing it, and I got JAM easily from asking myself what a band and a printer both do. But I got a little stuck on APEAK and SEA for a while because, um, well, uh... I had GOATEED spelled wrong. Humbling, this xword stuff, sometimes.

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

I flew through this pretty quickly, assumed I got it right until I was reading the commentary and realized I typed in "Goatbed" for "goateed". Doh!

Joe in NE

archaeoprof 12:54 PM  

Rex, my students don't respond well to red ink, either. Lately I've been using green; it makes a kinder, gentler impression.

dr_mickhead 12:55 PM  

Just a point of fact, baseball games tie often in the preseason--to avoid injury, only one extra inning is played. In the regular season, however, ties cannot happen anymore. The only way to stop a tied game is due to weather (or, much MUCH more rarely, darkness), and these game are picked up from the same spot at a later date. The last "meaningful" tie I can remember is at the 2002 All-Star game.

Dan 12:55 PM  

I was also stymied in the SW with those four empty squares staring at me. Flew through the rest in 3 minutes flat, but then... let's just say I'm glad my computer is so FUBARed that I can't use the applet. (New laptop coming today, yay!)

I learned about the Duchamp Mona Lisa from this Onion puzzle by Francis Heaney...

Mille Bornes was one of my family's favorites growing up - perhaps second only to the Mad Magazine card game (which is like Uno, only more awesome).

Anonymous 12:59 PM  


Originally had adder for jiver. Thought that was more Friday than Wed. but finally figured out jam and replaced it with jiver which seemed worse than adder.

Doug 1:06 PM  

Out of interest, I was looking at Spitzer's background and saw he scored a perfect LSAT, in addition to a 1590/1600 on his SAT. Smart guy...maybe too smart to think no one would catch him. How long until CLIENTNINE makes it into the puzzle?

Was LingMAO reading all the Doug stuff yesterday. "Rex" truly is "king!" One request and the blog immediately complies. Rex: If you want to give a boost to your presidential candidate come November, keep that in mind.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

Nice enough little puzzle. Agree with sentiments regarding Duchamp -- indeed one of the most brilliant artists of the 20th century. It's too bad he didn't stick to art because I hear he was only a mediocre chess player. (Well he was no Bobby Fischer).

As for bands that jam, yeah, I suppose HARD ROCK bands jam but I always tend to associate the idea of a jam band to something like the Dead, not Def Leppard.

Liked the bit about sailing and all the friggin' in the riggin.' Thanks Phillysolver.

Anyway, I've gone on too long already...but I hope to read some more comments regarding 'anti-war protesters' and the 'appropriateness' of discussing same...I always love a good punch-up.


A Non-amiss

Orange 1:43 PM  

Eli, it is always appropriate to love The Citrus. No, I don't practice my speed alphabet. I need to grill Tyler a little more closely at pub trivia. Get him drunk, extract his trade secrets. I don't know that streamlining my alphabet would actually knock off enough time to boost me into the finals, because it's not as if I'm carefully and slowly printing each letter, y'know?

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Don't think it's inappropriate. Do think it gets a little stale. More fun to read the other stuff.

chefbea 1:52 PM  

very easy for a wednesday. Did not have to google at all. When my kids were younger, they loved the card game Mille Bournes. It was lots of fun.I got the southwest corner but had no idea what ateat was til i came here.

Chip Ahoy 1:57 PM  

Jams. Ha ha ha ha ha ha


Got me.

Woo to the .puz and Yay!

karmasartre 2:13 PM  

@philly -- good one re. waterboarding.

@everyone -- 100 comments yesterday! Thanks to donald. Rex, is that the record?

@joon -- thanks for the lessons. I'll be rereading your comments.

@doug -- I will never look at LING MAO the same way again.

@David Pringle -- very good puzzle, thank you.

@karmasartre -- Note to Self: read everyone else's notes to selves, probably more interesting than yours.

dbg 2:15 PM  

Not only remember playing Mille Bornes with my brother, but actually have the game sitting in my game closet, although why, I do not know as my children would never dream of actually playing a board game or card game. Actually my "kids" are 18 and 22, so probably time to clean out the game closet.

andrea carla michaels 2:22 PM  

May I make a comment about LHOOQ? From what I remember from French classes and Art History, I was taught it was a pun when you spell the letters aloud as they are pronounced en francais:
L: el
H: ah-sh
O: oh
O: oh
Q: coo
so, "elle a chaud au queue/cul",
"loosely" translated as,
"She has heat in her tail/ass"
(I can't remember if it's more akin to queue or in Italiano "va fanculo")
Anyway, it has more to do with his joking about her being horny, not having a nice derriere. Thus the engimatic smile...which is more fun to think than the recent explanation of rotting teeth!

Thank you , 10th grade French teacher, Barbara Reynolds, who turned me on to the love of languages and travel!

grayfont 2:30 PM  

Back in the good old days of the newspaper industry, when advertising customers (and therefore space) were more bountiful, there was always a footnote to the spring training standings: "Split squad games count in standings; ties do not." The footnote is gone but the rule remains...

Fergus 2:35 PM  

Increvable -- the security card to replace the flat tire! Loved the idea so much it became the title of a book that never got published.

All the nautical jargon was very revealing -- never knew the origin of most of those terms.

Always impressed by Robert REICH's commentary. One of the best interpreters of the many economic frauds perpetrated by the few who benefit from them.

Fergus 3:17 PM  

My Art History professor demurely translated the pun as "She has hot pants." Back in the seventies though, so it was just a tad confusing.

PhillySolver 3:37 PM  

A visual aide of oars Apeak

Again, it is best to open up the comments in a separate tab before clicking on the link, so you can get back to the comments.

Joon 3:42 PM  

dan, thanks for posting the link to that heaney puzzle. a rocking good time, even if the theme was "spoiled" for me.

i think my HS french teacher translated LHOOQ idiomatically as "she's hot to trot." i also think that (15 years ago now) was the last time i heard anybody use the expression "hot to trot." ah, monsieur beeckman... i'd give him credit for helping me with MILLE bournes as well, but i actually played that as a very young child. to this day i enjoy a good MB game, not so much for the (rather flawed) gameplay as for the opportunity to shout "panne d'essence!" in an outrageous french accent.

dr mickhead: in what way was the 2002 ASG "meaningful"? it was an exhibition. the whole tie fiasco was what gave impetus to the (execrable, in my opinion) "this time it counts" thing where they award HFA in the WS to the ASG winner.

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

This puzzle had one of my favorite across and down intersections of all time. Def Lepperd (Hard Rock Band) intersecting with REO (Model T contemporaries), as in Speedwagon. Rock On.

Ulrich 4:06 PM  

Picking up on a suggestion made early this morning: To wet your appetite for Tosca (my favorite Puccini opera), here's a classic poster illustrating one of the high points, the end of ActII, where Tosca puts two candles near the head of Scarpa, the villain of the piece whom she has just murdered.

Scarpa is one of the real baddies in opera, the power-mad ruler of Rome with uncanny resemblances to a fascist dictator. The plot of the opera hangs well together (not always a given in opera) and there is a strong political subtext.

Ulrich 4:09 PM  

Here's a better image w/o the spoilers.

SethG 4:14 PM  

A couple of browser notes, at least for those not using a MAC. And with HOST/EFILE/LASER PRINTER today, not to mention HELP ME, it's even tangentially related to the puzzle...

This will probably make the most sense to people who don't need the help, but anyway:

-On most browsers you can navigate between pages using keyboard shortcuts. So if you forget to follow PhillySolver's advice (ie, you're in a tiny popup and click a link, winding up with no navigation buttons) you can usually return to the previous page by hitting the ALT+LEFT ARROW or BACKSPACE keys.

-Note that the daily title (in this case WEDNESDAY, Mar. 19, 2008 - Gary Whitehead (DECEPTIVE TALKER) is itself a link to a page with the full entry and all comments. Even in an old browser without multiple tabs there's no reason you need to see the popups.

-(For advanced Firefox users only) If you like the popups but want to make them easier to manage you can change the configurations to prevent blogger (and other sites) from opening a window that can't be resized by entering "about:config" in the Location Bar and changing the dom.disable_window_open_feature.resizable preference to true. Other window management overrides are explained here.

Okay, I'll shut up now,

green mantis 5:21 PM  

Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Yarn.

treedweller 5:33 PM  

I learned about dories when I was a member of the BSA, Cub Scouts division. I wonder if their handbook still covers them . . .

And for those who enjoy Mille Bornes, you might like to try a game called "Grass". It made the Games Magazine top 100 at least once. Basically, it uses the same structure as MB, but you play as a cannabis dealer trying to amass a certain amount of cash through deals. There are deals of varying amounts, similar to mileage; you have to get a "Market Open" card to start selling; and others can close your market, which you must negate to continue--all similar to MB. But also there is another level of card--either bad stuff worse than the bad in MB, or good stuff that is better. And you can steal from your opponents sometimes. It might seem distasteful to some, but if you get over that, a pretty fun game.

My last letter in this one was the 'i' on TIE/REICH, which I got from the baseball side by processing the alphabet. I was clueless until I got to the right letter. Still don't know the cabinet member.

Arby 5:52 PM  

Darn! I spent two full minutes googling Hawk-eye's home in Last of the Mohicans, and was annoyed by all the U of I stuff that was in my way in the search results. Duh. And I went to NMSU (now Truman State), just a few miles south of the Iowa/Mo. border. Double Duh.

Fergus 6:16 PM  

green mantis, wouldn't that joke work better if it were Dadaists? Or maybe that's implicit in the way you stated it?

John Reid 6:27 PM  

It's amazing how much useless information I can pick up reading the comments here! ;)

Regarding solving speed - I remember hearing/reading somewhere that it was supposedly faster to solve by printing letters in lowercase rather than upper. Makes sense when you think about it; less strokes of the hand required to create most of the letters in lowercase. I've always found it more natural to print in uppercase though. So I thought to myself, that would be one way to increase my speed. Then I thought, the day I try and modify the way I write (and have been writing for the last 25 or more years) for the sake of being able to shave a few seconds off the time it takes me to finish a crossword, is the day I really have to take a good hard look at this hobby and make sure it's not becoming an obsession! :) Needless to say I'm not planning on moving to lowercase anytime soon.

I showed today's puzzle to a friend of mine and he came up with 'power' for 20D, which I thought was a reasonable guess given the clue! Anyone else get caught on that one?

Another interesting note pertaining to some of today's comments; here is an excerpt from an article by Will Shortz (printed I'm assuming in the New York Times) dated from August 19th, 2001, in which he discusses some of the mail he's received -

"Carol D. Gray of St. George, Utah, wrote: ''You probably don't remember me writing you last year about the 34th president. You got me on that one. This time I believe I have you. Puzzle No. 0116. 'Hawkeye's home' is not iowa, but Maine. Radar's was Iowa.''

I replied to Ms. Gray that the clue and answer had nothing to do with the characters on ''M*A*S*H.'' A Hawkeye is simply a nickname for a person from Iowa. "

So I guess history does repeat!

Michael 7:14 PM  

An easy puzzle for me except for the mille/iroc cross. Both words were unfamiliar to me.

@puzzlegirl -- my first clue/answer was hawkeye/iowa -- was it yours?

Gary 7:24 PM  


Did you mean 22D and not 20? There is no 20D. FIREPOWER works. WATERPOWER? Hmmm. I guess so, as in the mill on the stream ran on waterpower. Problem is, it leaves one with LASTERPRINPER! :-)

Gary Whitehead

John Reid 9:59 PM  


Yes, I meant 20D. Thanks for correcting me. And thanks for a fun puzzle!

John Reid 10:00 PM  

Oops! I mean 22D!!! (Third time's the charm.)

Bill from NJ 10:15 PM  

I remember having a game suite as a child which contained MILLE BORNES as a part but I never played it. All a round about way of saying this was a gimme but I had no idea what I was talking about. Weird.

Cleared the NW in very short order, swept across the Midlands into the SE, then up the East Coast into the NE. Ended up in the SW looking at _IVER/_AM in just about 5 minutes.


Although it dawned on me what the clue meant, I still don't like the word JIVER. All in all, I found this puzzle fairly simple (ATEAT, indeed) as all the pop culture clues were right up my alley.

One of the nicest things about this blog is I always wondered about the meaning of the initials at the bottom of the DuChamp painting, having never studied Surrealism at school, and I knew - KNEW! - that it would be cleared up before the end of the day.

And it was.

doc John 10:45 PM  

Kareem wasn't the JIVER- it was two other characters who needed that elderly lady to translate (who, incidentally, was played by Barbara Billingsley, more commonly known as The Beav's mom).

I am a huge M*A*S*H fan (my real nickname is Trapper) and yet nothing but IOWA entered my consciousness!

Never played MILLE Bournes but I used to see it all the time in the toy store. It was such a strange name and just stuck with me for some reason.

Finally, nice to see YSER in the puzzle. Back when I started crosswording in college doing the LA Times puzzle, that word would definitely have made the pantheon. When I started doing the NYT a while back I was almost shocked not to see it.

Joon 10:49 PM  

d'oh! you are right about kareem. wires crossed inside my brain.

wendy, a lover of mille bornes 10:54 PM  

SENECA was a hoot to me, one of my favorite scenes in the play Art by Yasmina Reza concerns a heated discussion between two friends over him.

PuzzleGirl 10:57 PM  

Somebody had to do it.

"Oh, stewardess, I speak jive."

Addie Loggins 11:04 PM  

I did well (for me) on this puzzle, for a Wednesday. But I had "hockey" instead of "soccer" for a game with 11 players, and that cost me. Also, Jiver?!?

While my first instinct in seeing the work Hawkeye is to think of M*A*S*H, I quickly recognized that it was a shout-out to puzzlegirl, and got Iowa. (BTW, they were my cousins, too, but I have NO recollection of "Mille Bornes.")

@archeoprof: I had a journalism professor in college who thought that red was too disturbing for students (after years of bad memories) and so he used green to correct our assignments. It took about a week for me to develop the same aversion to green that I have to red. Nice try, but... I'm just sayin'...

golfballman 11:59 AM  

hated jiver, but overall pretty easy for a Wednesday puzzle

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