TUESDAY, Apr. 22, 2008 - Nancy Salomon (WHAT A GAL HAS THAT A GENT DOESN'T?)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Business phrases with cutesy clues

Not a lot to say about this one. Tried to solve on the NYT applet last night and - as happens not infrequently when I solve that way - it was having freezing problems, the likes of which are cured, strangely, only by my switching to another tab and then switching back to the NYT site. Not sure what magical unfreezing powers that has, but it seems to work. I think printing out the puzzle in Across Lite and solving on paper is slowly but surely becoming my favorite method of solving. It is more relaxing (even when I'm speeding, because at least I know I'm not going to have a technical difficulty greater than broken pencil lead), and I can annotate the puzzle (for blogging purposes) on the fly - slightly less work for me later.

I solved this puzzle in a rather awkward, backward fashion, filling in the back ends of multiple theme answers, which gave me next to no help in solving them. So I started in the (awkward) NW and essentially went around the grid in clockwise fashion, but without getting a handle on the theme until ... I don't really know when. It's not like any of the theme answers is really memorable. I do remember, however, what my biggest problem in the puzzle was - a clever ruse that is severely flawed (IMOO) by the employment of a variant spelling. I speak, of course, of HARD G (1A: What a gal has that a gent doesn't?). Normally love these kinds of self-referential clues, where the word in the clue is what's at issue. I do not like the cutesy phrasing of the clue (cutesiness abounds in this puzzle, actually, and in a cloying way), but that's not the real problem here. The real problem is the A crossing, AMEER (2D: Mideast poo-bah). It is an acceptable variant of EMIR, it's true. But so is EMEER. And therein lies the problem. I wrote in HENCE (1D: Therefore), EMEER, and RAT ON (3D: Betray, in a way) in the 1, 2, and 3D positions, respectively, so that the answer to [What a gal has that a gent doesn't?] looked like it began HER ..., a possessive feminine pronoun that fits perfectly with the phrasing of the clue. So I figured the next two letter were something I'd just have to come back to. Only I forgot to come back, filled the whole grid in, and then had it rejected by the NYT site. Only then did I notice HER DG and think "... that's not right." Two seconds later I changed the "E" to and "A" and all was right with the world. I normally love the letter trap (i.e. answers like SILENT E and SOFT C), but the combined cutesy cluing and nonstandard AMEER diminished my joy just a bit. Otherwise, an adequate Tuesday puzzle.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Fishing trawler's haul? (net earnings)
  • 28A: Seat of government's acquisitions? (capital gains)
  • 44A: Publisher's windfall? (paper profits)
  • 59A: Salary for selling insects as food? (gross income)

I take back the cutesy accusation. These clues are just dull, except that last one, which is lively but chauvinistic. Lots of cultures around the world eat insects and would find most of what you put in your body "gross." Is this the NYT or "Fear Factor?" Come on.

Here's what I liked: the long Downs. Great phrases all:

  • 5D: Campaigner's greeting (glad hand) - Pennsylvanians will not have to endure this much longer ...
  • 11D: Works out with weights (pumps iron)
  • 34D: Throws in the trash (deep sixes) - love the phrase, though the clue seems overly mundane for the answer
  • 39D: Add some meat to the bones (fatten up) - my wife does not think FATTEN UP and ICE UP should be allowed in the same puzzle. I agree. One UP phrase is OK, and three would show self-awareness and boldness, but two just looks sloppy.
Today provides a good opportunity for review of some common crossword fill that may not be commonly known to novice solvers:

  • 15A: Muscat resident (Omani) - haven't seen it in a while, but at times it has been quite prevalent. It's a useful word - abundance of vowels, ends in "I"
  • 36A: 1910s-'20s car inits. (REO) - Before puzzles, the only way I knew REO was via the massively popular band of my youth, REO Speedwagon.
  • 50A: Celestial altar (Ara) - a constellation. A palindrome. Somewhat easy to remember in that all of its letters are contained in the word ALTAR.
  • 66A: Fakes out with fancy footwork (dekes) - I hear this most often in hockey commentary, but it works for most any sport. I feel as if this word's stock is on the rise.
  • 12D: Lake next to Avon Lake (Erie) - What the heck is "Avon Lake?" Ah, it's not a lake. It's a city in Ohio.
  • 52D: Fred's dancing sister (Adele) - If you lived entirely inside the crosswords, you'd think she was more famous than Fred.
And the rest:

  • 14D: Correspondence sans stamp (email) - I've studied French, so I know "sans," but there are few French words I like less in English than "sans." It's exceedingly pretentious. Just say "without." The extra syllable won't take any years off your life.
  • 20A: Board of directors hiree (CEO) - goes nicely with REO, but "hiree," yuck.
  • 25A: Lukas of "Witness" (Haas) - behold my magical powers! I mention Lukas HAAS in my write-up of Tommy HAAS a few days ago, and bam, here he is. I actually went into this actor's imdb file trying to remember why he became famous and way down at the bottom of the film list was "Witness." He was the cute kid of the very hot (and Amish) Kelly McGillis (whatever happened to her??).
  • 27A: QB boo-boos: Abbr. (ints) - "boo-boos" is unforgivable in a football clue. This is what I mean by excessive cutesiness.
  • 16A: Mystifying Mr. Geller (Uri) - more cutesy cluing. His fame is more mystifying than he is. I think Mean Mr. Mustard could kick Mystifying Mr. Geller's @$$. In fact, I would pay to see that.
  • 37A: Upturned, as a crate (on end) - couldn't parse this to save my life "ONE something ..." Even after I got it: "ONE ND? What's th- ... oh."
  • 41A: Yeoman's agreement (aye) - see also YES (65A: "That's a go").
  • 43A: Big Easy team (Saints) - found myself thinking "They aren't in N.O. anymore," then realized I was thinking of the Jazz, the basketball team that moved from New Orleans to Utah in 1979.
  • 62A: Big galoot (ape) - wish I could see GALOOT in the puzzle more often. My first instinct here (as always): OAF.
  • 9D: How curses are exchanged (angrily) - couldn't figure out the gist of this for a while. BY WITCHES? I guess "curses" here refers to epithets of some kind.
  • 13D: Kiting necessity (wind) - true enough. I first (mis-)read the clue as [Knitting necessity], then thought of "kiting" as the act of writing bad checks.
  • 31D: Elbow-benders (sots) - ah, two great members of the vocabulary of drunkenness.
  • 47D: Many Guinness listings (firsts) - another clue I had trouble parsing, mainly because I wanted it to end in the superlative -ESTS.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of Crossworld


Teresa 8:51 AM  

I also went through the herdg/emeer trap. Not familiar with ara - got it from the crosses. Anyone know the reference?

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Ara is Latin for altar...as in the Ara Pacis in Rome.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  


It's a constelation in the southern hemisphere aka The Southern Cross.

It's another xword puzzle regular.

Eli Barrieau 9:08 AM  

James Randi made Uri Geller look foolish (I'm too lazy to link it), but he still is clued as mystifying. That's what's mystifying.

ArtLvr 9:11 AM  

As Rex noted, ARA mean altar -- a constellation in the southern hemisphere with complicated naming throught the ages, looks like an incense burner in modern interpretation and said to be where Zeus and fellow gods took vows before defeating the Titans. See chandra.harvard.edu/photo/constellations/ara.html


Anonymous 9:11 AM  

First, thank you for the wonderful addition to my morning crossword routine with your blog!
A small note on your write-up of today's theme answers, that I'm sure is just a typo: 44A = "paper profits."

Carisa 9:18 AM  

I felt like I flew through this puzzle. "Ara" was the only place I paused for more than a moment, but then "aroar" made sense and I was done! The theme was OK, not thrilling.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Hey Rex - love the blog!

Since when is a sedan a family car? - now a days all I see are mini vans or a gas guzzling SUVs!!! I was hoping for an earth day themed puzzle today. Did you know in honor of Earth Day my kids' school is going without electricity for the morning - no lights, computers etc....

Frances 9:26 AM  

I thought DEEP SIXES was specific to throwing something into the ocean, rather than into generalized trash.

@Rex....For those of us who don't listen to hockey commentary, would you explain why and how the term DEKES means "fancy footwork."

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

I believe the answer at 44A is paper profits, not paper earnings.

PhillySolver 9:37 AM  

I liked this Tuesday appropriate puzzle. 1A probably taxed some beginning solvers, but it is a good way to learn. Actually, I think Ms. Salomon comes across as a kind teacher in this puzzle. A good theme and solid fill including some of the xwordese you need to know..

The question about ARA had me look up a term I knew from somewhere, but couldn't spell(Latin and I are worlds apart). Was it 'ara pro nobis'? No, it is oro pro nobis, as in 'pray for us.'

I know Geller and ESP, but not his first name so I guessed Ira, which gave me pimpsiron...possible in a Merle puzzle, but figured it out and was my only slow down.

Going to vote and then wait another month for a candidate.

PhillySolver 9:41 AM  

@ frances

yes, DEEPSIXES is a nautical term. The six refers to fathoms and not feet. At six fathoms (36 feet) all ships have adequate draft and slightly weighted trash will sink and not leave a clue as to the ship's passing. At that depth it is safe to throw things overboard...well, if you don't mind never seeing iot again and thus deepsix is more than just throwing something out, it is assigning it to oblivion.

Norm 9:42 AM  

Acttuakly Rex, I believe the band REO Speedwagon took its name from the car REO Speed Wagoon ...

Ulrich 9:44 AM  

@phillysolver: just split the difference, and you are right:-)

ora pro nobis.

ora is the imperativ form of orare (to pray)

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

I spent too long staring at my solution wondering what a HER DG is.

dk 9:52 AM  

Random neuron firings:

I used to have a red wagon (when I was five) and that was an REO Speed Wagon as well.

Ms McGillis at last sighting was still "hot" and charming running a restaurant (Kelly's) in Key West.

Blogger phillysolver thank you for your help in ending the current campaign nightmare. Please note Julie Nixon Eisenhower supports Obama.

mike 9:53 AM  

He did get PAPERPROFITS in the grid.

I always thought DEKES was a canadian term hence its association with hockey?

Orange 9:56 AM  

When the theme entries are dry financial terms, it sure is easy to switch the words around. Rex used EARNINGS in two theme entries and I used PROFITS twice (I blogged about NET PROFITS and PAPER PROFITS).

(Psst: Rex and I both appreciate getting typo notifications via e-mail rather than comments so we can fix the mistakes quietly and appear more perfect.)

Rex Parker 10:04 AM  

Yes, clearly I misfired. One look at the grid tells you it's PAPER PROFITS. Sorry about that.


ArtLvr 10:05 AM  

p.s. I made the same mis-start with 2-D as "emeer", and also initially wanted "Dumbo" for the Elephant in children's book since "Horton" was too long -- lovely to see BABAR emerge instead...

I think of DEEP-SIXES as furtive disposals, whether hidden in the ocean or other inaccessible place by extension... getting rid of evidence. Nixon used the term, for example, and not intending a literal jettison overboard of his clandestine tapes.


Anonymous 10:08 AM  

"HARD G" was the last to fall for me, too -- after staring, like so many of us apparently -- at "HER DG" for a while. Otherwise pretty easy. Never heard of "DEKES," but the crosses filled it in. I find now I didn't see quite a few clues, for "STARDOM," "PTA," "NEAT," "SOTS," "YES," "RAE." I think I like a puzzle more when I at least have to check the crosses. And yet this one took me longer than yesterday's, which I found easier.

Bill D 10:11 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill D 10:14 AM  

I'm waiting for the legal analysis of all these accounting terms! I froze on 1A/1D, so I didn't finish the NW until last, after re-titling my Emeer to a lowly AMEER. ERIE again, sans, er, without Lackawanna this time; RAE, CHE, REO, CEO sounds like a rap tune; two many 3-letter answers (27!) cluttering up the grid. I double thought SEDAN, too, writing it in and then wondering if "wagon" might have been what they were looking for. Liked PER SE; looking at it even now it looks like I spelled "purse" wrong!

"To deke" is a common hockey term which has been around a long time. It means to put a slick move on the opposition player, usually a defenseman or the goalie. Basically the deker makes it look as if he will go one way but goes off in another. I believe it is short for "decoy", as the attacking skater decoys, or dekes, the defender into taking a fake. I still play goal sometimes, and I have been fooled by more than my share of dekes! Incidentally, the old WHA used to have a team named the Minnesota Fighting SAINTS, but that might have been too tough for Tuesday at 43A.

Bill D 10:41 AM  

I ate at Kelly's in Key West a few months ago - not bad, but no sign of Kelly herself. My attraction to the place was that it was in the original Pan American Airways terminal building from which you could travel in a flying boat to Havana before WW II.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Isn't HARD G a little naughty...or is it just my dirty mind?

ArtLvr 11:01 AM  

@ philly -- Ulrich's right about the Latin "ORA pro nobis" (pray for us) but you also see the Latin phrase "ab ORO" in crosswords -- (from the beginning). This second example is a noun related to our "origin", and not to the verb "orare" (to pray).

One of them appears in today's CrosSynergy puzzle! Happy voting...


Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Rex, Your comments about "sans" reminded me of men's trousers from back in the sixties perhaps called Sansabelt. They were hideous but had a flap over the button and were made to be worn "without a belt." As a child with a beginning of understanding of Latin I remember feeling quite smug to have figured out the marketing slogan. Sansabelts seemed to become the unofficial uniform of used car salesmen everywhere. Enough already. Two Ponies

imsdave 11:13 AM  

I had this one in the easy category. -MEER is one of those words I always wait for the cross on, so with H-RDG it didn't cause me any promlems. Between Philly and Ulrich, I feel like a learn something new every day. Thanks to Rex and all on this blog for entertaining me every day.

ArtLvr 11:14 AM  

pps Philly -- Thinking also of "ab OVO" from the start, from the Latin noun "ovum" (egg)! OK, 'nuff.


Anonymous 11:16 AM  

I can't believe the amount of time I tried to fix HERDG. So I can't spell EMEER, big deal. I kept try to get to HERDO like a hairdo. Meh.

Once I got it, though, I did have a DOH moment. Seems to be happening more frequently.

ArtLvr 11:23 AM  

@ philly -- well, I have to add: "ab ORO" is from the mouth", (oral). Sorry to run on so...


foodie 11:23 AM  

Interestingly, Ameer sounds more like the correct Arabic pronunciation than Emir or Emeer. Still, I fell into the trap and thought "DG" must be some cute abbreviation from the 50's when they were being proper and discreet about anything sexual... When you're not born and raised here, there's always this little nagging doubt that you missed some old cultural expression that a 20 year old native would mysteriously know.

I also fell for another single letter trap (for me): I had "Fleur-de-Lys". I finally realized it was the SAINTS in the cross and remembered that Lis is the plural for Lys.

Thanks all for the latin education.

GlennCY 11:41 AM  

I had no problems in this puzzle, thought it was particularly easy. What bothered me though was the Deke clue. Deke is a hockey term, it isn't done with foot work - maybe skatework, but usually stick work. Maybe I play too much hockey.

miriam b 11:42 AM  

DEKES is new to me - and thanks for the explanation. I know zilch about hockey. One of my sons-in-law plays the game on a recreational level, and I plan to amaze him by using the word in a sentence next time I see him.

Back to MESTA: Has anyone mentioned that she was not only a hostess extraordinaire, but also the ambassador to Luxembourg? I've never seen the Broadway musical Call Me Madam, but I do know it was about Perle Mesta, and of course according to protocol she would be called Madam Ambassador. I suspect that back in those innocent days the title of the show was intended as a double-entendre.

Tomorrow is the birthday not only of Shakespeare and of the best man at my wedding, but also of Shirley Temple, once ambassador to Ghana.

OK, one relevant paragraph, one marginal, one off topic. I'm trying to walk the line, but it's not always easy.

Zach M. 11:51 AM  

Had the same problem parsing ONEND as you did Rex, to the point that I put in OPEND for a while and thought maybe I had been spelling "opened" wrong all these years.

Also have to agree whole-heartedly with Eli above about Geller being clued as "mystifying". Debunked several times by various sources, most notably at the hands of the wonderful James Randi, and yet still gets the moniker of mystifying. Nit-picky? Maybe. But I'd prefer to see it as "Charlatan Geller", or some such thing, for puzzle accuracy if no other reason.

Sorry, its a pet peeve. A very specific pet peeve. See also: Sylvia Browne.

Bill D 11:59 AM  

We had the Perle MESTA discussion a while back, which is how I remembered her name this last time. I also recall an extensive dialogue on DEEP SIX. It's all a long-playing loop...

Sara 12:02 PM  

I loved the crossing of Saints with the Fleur de Lis.

foodie 12:04 PM  

Well, I thought (and said in my earlier post) that Fleur-de-Lis was used for plural and Fleur-de-Lys for singular. But I am no longer sure. I don't have a really good french dictionary handy, so looked it up on the CNRL french web site, and they seem to be using them interchangeably. May be this was an old convention that has drifted...

Phanatic 12:12 PM  

"Just say "without." The extra syllable won't take any years off your life."

This reminds me of an old SNL skit advertising a program to save you time. "You'll never miss another plane again!" The whole program just involves speaking in abbreviations. They say, "Your kids will love it too!" as Chris Farley says "Supercalifragilisticexpialidosh" (or however you want to spell it).

Thanks for the info on deep sixes. I always just figured it was to bury somebody, like "six feet under", but now I can reconcile its meaning with the fact that I connect to the mob.

PuzzleGirl 12:30 PM  

Typical Tuesday reaction for me: didn't love it, didn't hate it. I liked seeing CAN instead of AXE for "pink-slip." Never heard of DEKE, but am glad to know it now. I can never remember ARA but think I will now after Rex's comments (palindrome, all the letters found in ALTAR).

@norm: I can't help but wonder why you think Rex doesn't know the car came before the band. He's a pretty smart guy.

Rex: When you use the heading "and the rest," that's a reference to Gilligan's Island, right?

Jim in Chicago 12:34 PM  

Well, DEKES is the second new word I learned this week, the first being NABE.

Like others, I fell into the same HERDG trap, and just left it as it was and came here to find out the scoop. I thought that maybe DG was some abbreviation that I just wasn't thinking of. I do have to say that I started off in the gutter thinking that the most obvsiou 5 letter answer might be a certain plural word that begins with a B and rhymes with tubes.

I really think that the clue for DEEP SIXES is just plain wrong. To me, the term "deep six" indeed means to send something into oblivion, to kill an ideak, and especially to sort of bury it forever. I most commonly hear in used for "well, that project just got deep sixed". Throwing something into the trash is much more benign.

Now the trivia for the day. "Des Plaines" is one of several deeply distorted foreign phrases that have been applied to Chicago area streets and cities. The "Des" is pronounced like DESi Arnez, and the "Plaines" is just like the common plural pronunciation of plains. My favorite is Goethe Street in Chicago, which is most commonly pronounced GO-EE-THEE.

Jim in NYC 12:57 PM  

Goethe Street in Chicago, which is most commonly pronounced GO-EE-THEE.

And second most commonly as GURR-TUH. And Lahser Road in Detroit is mangled as "Lasher". We could all go on... So sorry, Ulrich.

andrea carla michaels 1:08 PM  

The other clue you always see for ARA depending on the day of the week is "Football coach Parseghian" (which is how I learned it). I think both are semi-obscure except if you live only in crossword world, I love that line about ADELE!!!!!.

I didn't mind both ICINGUP and FATTENUP, esp bec FATTENUP seemed a nice contrast to PUMPSIRON.
Like TO, I think a couple of UPs isn't horrible, esp given the- harder-to-use-letter "P".

Speaking of FATTENUP, been thinking about the whole FATFARM incident yesterday...at first I thought people were being a bit oversensitive and too PC, but as there are a million ways to clue things, why not give that expression the old heave ho?

Tho it reminded me a little of when I used to make puzzles for Disney Adventures and they once complained that I had DESK and MOM in my crossword, because (and I quote) "Kids didn't want to be reminded about school while doing puzzles" and "not everyone has a mom"!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(I quit shortly thereafter)

mac 1:08 PM  

Well, we got our Monday puzzle after all this week! I never stopped filling this one in, and any semi-tricky clues were cleared up by crosses without wasting any time eyeing them. Re Mideast poo-bah, when the answer is 4 letters I put in emir, when 5: ameer. Maybe I'm wrong, but I never think of splurging where food is concerned, maybe just about the money spent on it. Am I nitpicking?

jae 1:20 PM  

My take on this was pretty much the same as puzzlegirl's. The last thing I did was change to E to A in AMEER. I too like the SOFT?, HARD?, SILENT? stuff but it is a bit unexpected on a Tues. I agree completely with Rex's critique of the crossing.

Orange 1:41 PM  

Andrea, the fact that not everyone has a mom sure never stopped Disney from specializing in making movies in which the mom is dead. Or maybe that's their point? They didn't want a crossword reminding people that they kill off most of the cartoon moms?

My DG itches.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Dekes is used a lot in hockey commentary, where it usually means 'a fancy bit of stick work', but it can also be used to refer to clever footwork in Football (both American and European). American football a deke will likely result in the commentator saying that the ball carrier 'faked passed his tackle' where as in European football a deke usually results in the commentator saying that the ball carrier 'was disposessed'.

andrea carla michaels 1:53 PM  

Thanks, Orange, I will be laughing for the rest of the day!!!!!

PhillySolver 1:59 PM  


Forget a mere weekly summary for Orange's last comment...It belongs on the Year End Summary and perhaps the Decade recap. Her DG!! BTW, do you ever censor this stuff? Disney would never...


SethG 2:09 PM  

I'm with @GlennCY on DEKE--it's definitely more about the stickwork than the skatework. A football move, which is all about the footwork, I'd think of as a JUKE.

And @miriam b, if you include the term "old-time hockey" in your deke sentence your son-in-law will be suitably impressed.

As for the Mideast poo-bah, JimH's database says that EMIR is about 3 times as common as AMIR, and EMEER about 50% more likely than AMEER. So I figured that 1A was quarfootal, but I still stared at HERxG for a while trying to figure out how that could be "AANDL"...

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

Andrea -- if you didn't walk out the moment you received that absurd comment, I admire your patience.

Speaking as a fat person, I think "FAT FARM" is an extremely common and perfectly acceptable slang term for a weight-reduction resort or SPA. The idea is to make fun of the obsessive industry more than of the would-be dieters.

Speaking as an ambassador from the motherless community, I should think we could all bear to see the word "MOM" in print without decompensating. But I have known people who routinely fast-forwarded through the Mom-killing scene in Bambi rather than traumatize their children, if you can believe that.

Margaret 2:50 PM  

I found this a lackluster puzzle. I completely agree w/ Rex that the long downs were more interesting than the theme answers. I did like the pairing of Bonsai / Sinai, though.

Thanks for the shout-out to Witness, one of my very favorite movies and Viggo Mortensen's first film (as an Amish barn-builder). It has what is still one of the most inventive ways ever of killing off a baddie. Lukas Haas is also in Ramblin' Rose, another great but underrated film. (Whoops, as miriam b said, I am now only marginally on topic.)

Question: now that we know the derivation of Deep Six, anyone know where the expression "to 86 something" comes from? As in, to delete ("It's been 86'd from the menu.")

fergus 3:07 PM  

Only problem with Sans is how to pronounce it in English. In "As You Like It" I think the final 's' gets some play at the close of the "All the world's a stage," speech:

"... is second childishness and mere oblivion / Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

On a recent visit to my aging parents, with my father citing his diminishing faculties, we had a good time piecing together the whole thing. Some faculties remain in tact.

Bill from NJ 3:53 PM  

At 1A I started out looking for an ampersandwich and found a quarfoot. I immediately rejected T&A and, because I have been sensitized to this kind of meta-clue lately, hit upon HARDG.

Funny, I have more problems parsing answers like PERSE and ONEND, both of which appeared in this puzzle

miriam b 4:15 PM  

@Margaret: I Googled 86 and was presented with several theories, all plausible, as to the term's origin.

I was reminded of something which unfailingly makes me laugh. A former boyfriend of one of my daughter's had emigrated a few years earlier from Moldova and was working as a waiter while studying acting. A patron asked him if any oysters were available. He went back to the kitchen, returned to the table, and told the customer, "Yes, we have 86."

Fortunately he succeeded in his acting career and has appeared in quite a few movies, TV commercials and sitcoms.

Teresa 4:44 PM  

@anonymous 9:06 and ARTLVR, just got back to check on ara - thanks for the info! Celestial altar brings to mind beauty and spirit. Too bad that the real association is preparing gods for war. Good to know the origins.

George NYC 5:12 PM  

The most accepted version of the origin of "86" is the Chumleys' restaurant story. Chumley's is a former speakeasy in Greenwich Village. It is closed at the moment, having suffered a wall collapse, but due to open soon. It's "famous" for it's unmarked entrances, especially one that is found only after entering (through another unmarked door) a small courtyard on Barrow street. Anyway, the address of Chumley's is 86 Bedford St. Yore has it that when the cops called to warn the owner that he was about to be raided, the owner wouls shout out "86" which meant 1) everyone leave through the 86 Bedford door or 2) go through the false bookcase/door near the 86 entrance, depending on which version you prefer. Now servers around the country (world) use the term 86 to mean "take it off the menu, we're out." As in, "86 clam chowder." Some also use it to refer to throwing someone out of a bar. "We had to 86 Ralph last night."
Chumley's employs several local fire fighters as bartenders, and is somewhat of a shrine to engine company 24 and ladder company 5, down the street, which lost 12 on 9/11 and 2 more last September at another Ground Zero fire.
Lately the place has become a bit of a tourist destination, particualry for Brits and the Village walking tours, but is still fun on a weekday night (assuming it opens). Woody Allen has used it as a location...
Sorry for the long post.

Karen 5:31 PM  

Aagh, I was thinking that the constellation was ARA and the coach was ASA...thanks for clearing that up for me, Andrea. So the constellation and the coach are both ARA, (and so is the macaw genus, a Norwegian lake, and a New Deal program from FDR) and ASA is the botanist. Right?

Doc John 5:54 PM  

Not much else to add except that I did like the clue for GROSS INCOME.

Also, I lucked out with HARD G because the G was the first letter I got so it made it easier to parse, although it did take me a moment to figure out what kind of G was in gal (other than a G you-know-what, now known as a DG, perhaps?).

dk 5:59 PM  

Blogger george nyc,

Thank you for the 86 story I have often asked and researched the origin of this phrase and your explanation is one of the best.

The other is the first avenue street car that ended on 86th... so all out.

dk 6:04 PM  

86+ one more

86 meters is the required depth for a burial at sea. Thus to 86 something quite literally means to throw it over the side of a boat.

Rex Parker 6:25 PM  

There is an important moment in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home where she talks about getting "86'd" from Chumley's when trying to enter "with a gang of lesbian friends" (it's on p. 106 if you have the book at home).

"I didn't even know the term eighty-six. When I did learn it, my retroactive mortification was softened by the knowledge that I'd taken part in such a lexicographical event."

This is followed by a drawing of the dictionary entry for "eighty-six."


SethG 6:52 PM  

But what about 84? 88? 96?

Oh yeah, those are towns.

Ryne 7:08 PM  

i messed up on a couple... originally, i had put JUKES instead of DEKES and wondered "what the hell kind of word ends in J if it isn't HAJJ?!?"... then i also put HORNET then figured my crosses weren't working so SAINTS it was.

Ulrich 7:13 PM  

@sethg: Are you out of your mind to give constructors new ideas for torturing us? I will hold you personally responsible if that happens :-)

jubjub 7:38 PM  

i was happy that "babar" was the first answer i filled in today. as someone who commonly attributes human emotions to inanimate objects, or even abstract concepts, i feel like i am giving the clue+answer a hearty pat on the back. good job, "elephant of children's literature"!

my other favorite clues were "church perch" (rhymey), "'the other white meat'" (nostalgic ad of my childhood), and "twin of romulus" (no clue why i like this one).

BT 8:08 PM  

I played a ton of hockey when growing up. The phrase "I totally deked him out" was one I liked to use. My dekes (never knew how to spell it) were mostly done with head/body fakes, and worked very well.

But no, they weren't much in the way of "footwork".

ArtLvr 8:13 PM  

@ teresa -- re ARA, you can take your choice of attributes from the various beholders over the centuries, including some really crossword-worthy names as well:

Early on, Ara was referred to as an "Altea", an incense vessel, or an altar with burning incense. The Greeks referred to it as "Tul-Ku", meaning Holy Altar, which was an archaic Euphratean figure in the zodiac (later replaced by Libra).

The Arabs called the constellation "Al Mijmarah", borrowed from the Greeks and meaning The Censer. The Romans identified it as "Thymele", the altar of Dionysus, and "Ara Centauri", the Centaur's Altar.

The Roman name "Turibulum" (Censer) became predominant until the 18th century, when ARA was preferred -- Good thing they weren't sticking to numbers? As they say on our local observatory's TV short feature -- keep looking up!

@ fergus and miriam b -- Many thanks for the lines from "As You Like It" quoted so aptly, and for mention of Shakespeare's birthday tomorrow!


foodie 8:16 PM  

A "poem" based on random thoughts triggered by reading this blog over the last few days:

Lon Nol said to Lon Nil
Do you see the ernes
Soaring over the hill?
No, no, said Lon Nil
These are actually terns
Just look at their bill!

They’re headed to the ocean
Said brother Lon Non
They probably can tell
That we deep-sixed someone!

Well, it was well deserved,
Averred all three,
The people had to learn
That you cannot disagree
With Lon Nol’s wife
And her itching DG!

Teresa 8:43 PM  

@Foodie: Pretty outrageous poem! Fun.

@Artlvr: Looked at the Chandra Observatory site - thanks for all of that! The association is mostly of a gentle nature. Learned a lot!

Bill D 8:47 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill D 8:52 PM  

Been to Chumley's - it really is like a speakeasy, and you have to know where it is and when it's open to get in. Didn't realize it might have been the origin of "86". There may be more derivations for "86", but my favorite use of it is from a M*A*S*H episode:

Col Potter, trying to read a Zane Gray novel while quarantined with a pompous Maj Winchester who is listening to a loud Enrico Caruso opera recording - "Eighty-six that Eye-talian!"
Hijinks ensue.

By the way, I recall having an excellent ceviche at Kelly's; can't remember what I ate at Chumley's...

fergus 9:17 PM  

first Chumley's in 1983, then in 85 and 6

fergus 9:21 PM  

at the corner of where
two B streets meet
in the old Village

Ulrich 9:24 PM  

@foodie: You may count me among your fans now.

Jim in Chicago 10:28 PM  

Ah, Babar.

We picked up a print of Babar on Portobello Road in London that has Babar sort of propped up in a corner with a wine glass in his - um - leg? It is hanging on our dining room wall and has been pointed out toward the end of many a jolly dinner party.

Barb in Chicago 11:20 PM  

Jim in Chicago -- Re the Des in Des Plaines. When I was in college ( a long time ago) I can remember hanging out with some friends (while under the influence of substances) and for fun taking turns calling the telephone operator asking for numbers in Des Plaines and Des Moines, but switching the pronunciations and falling over with hysterical laughter. Oh to be in college again.

Joon 12:39 AM  

just catching up on the comments--i did today's puzzle so long ago i hardly remember it, but ... yeah. the end-of-theme-answer words are totally interchangeable. i got the NET____ pretty quickly and was trying to figure out if it was NETPROFITS, NETINCOME, ... no, it was NETEARNINGS, but both PROFITS and INCOME showed up later.

favorite fill today: PERSE. i think it's so hard to parse because it looks a lot like one word. for instance, it's only a vowel shift off from "parse" itself. even if you have four letters, no matter which four they are, you might still think it's one word. (i guess PERS_ is probably the exception.)

i get a little guilty thrill every time i see somebody use the word "quarfoot." (guilty because i secretly agree with orange that it's not really that fair a name... but a thrill nonetheless.) i think today is the first day i've seen it here on this site, perhaps because today is the first day we've had a quarfoot in the NYT since "quarfoot" was coined. more quarfeet, please! after there were two in yesterday's CS i was on the lookout, so i filled in 1A off the bat (it's always a good start when you can do that) and had no trouble spelling AMEER.

my musty recollections of playing NBA live '01 on a roommate's playstation are that there was a button whose action when you have the ball is labeled DEKE in the instruction manual. and no, that's not a hockey game, so it doesn't involve stickwork.

randy 1:51 AM  

I actually think that both HERDG and HARDG are valid answers. It seems as if EMEER is more common spelling and thus I took HERDG to stand for "Her Dignity", a some-what common phrase. Of course, HARDG also works here.

andrea carla michaels 2:56 AM  

Wow, almost midnight and I was zipping thru shows I had taped today...in a moment of synchronicity, "A_A" was the crucial final word in final round of Merv Griffin's Crossword repeat today!
Clued as "Coach Parseghian of Notre Dame" Jim guessed AGA (which would have made THIGD going down)
He got it with seconds to spare and won the bonus round!
As predicted, still laughing about Orange's comment 12 hours later!

Catherine 4:25 PM  

"QB boo-boos: Abbr." would have been so much better as "QB errs." Even "QB errors". Why is the Abbr. needed when the QB is already an abbreviation?

Waxy in Montreal 12:16 PM  

As was discussed 6 weeks ago, "deking" is a Canadian hockey-related concept derived from "decoying". The best answer to the 66A. clue "fakes out with fancy footwork" though would be the football-related term JUKES. Increasingly, I think the terms DEKE & JUKE are being used interchangeably, especially when removed from the rink or gridiron.

On another front, HERDG (her DG) could work okay for 1A in Quebec as DG is commonly used here as the shorthand for Director General of a public institution such as a college (equivalent to the President elsewhere).

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

A post from the provinces - after everyone else has forgotten this puzzle - why does 23D school monitor for PTA not annoy the h-e-double hockey sticks out of anybody else? And speaking of hockey & other sports, DEKES is a new term for me, hope to see it again. Always glad to see "new words." I never fill in EMIR-AMIR-EMEER-AMEER until I see what else is going on, the spelling being so very fluid in xwords, so no trouble with HARDG, but HERDG is definitely better for a laugh or two, or three...

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

PS from provinces - My big brother learned 86, Deep 6, and possibly other terms for throwing things away a zillion years ago while in grade school, and introduced them all to our vocabularies the same week or so it seems. I remember being very impressed. Ah, nostalgia.

Anonymous 3:28 PM  


Had to see if anyone started with "Her DO" like I did and of course someone else (asianbadger)did. As a youth playing and watching hockey on TV, dekes was one of my favorite words.

- - Robert

Tim M 4:10 PM  

Rex, your comment about the Jazz reminds me of my favorite line from the narration of the movie BASEketball:

Soon it was commonplace for entire teams to change cities in search of greater profits. The Minneapolis Lakers moved to Los Angeles where there are no lakes. The Oilers moved to Tennessee where there is no oil. The Jazz moved to Salt Lake City where they don't allow music.

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