Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008 - Allan E. Parrish (CAPOTE WEARERS)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

Theme: Jack-of-all trades

17A: LIFTING TOOL
59A: PLAYING CARD
11D: MALE DONKEY
28D: PLUG INSERT
29D: MONEY

All definitions of 55D: JACK

Hi! Andrea Carla Michaels and PuzzleGirl again, as Rex escaped a couple of nights ago through the backdoor and he hasn’t come home yet. We’re sick with worry and have put up posters around the neighborhood, but as my therapist always says, “Imagine the Best Case Scenario. Just as likely as the worst case, but this way you won’t expend all this negative emotional energy.”

I love my therapist … and I’m going to need her after two days of blogging. Instead of “What Would Jesus Do?” I always think “What Would Nanette Say?” I should have followed the advice from her new bestseller “My Answer is No … If That’s OK with You” and said no to blogging again, because this is going to be way harder than yesterday!

I guess it’s a typical Wednesday, took me three minutes longer than yesterday, but lots more mistakes initially. This puzzle could have been called “You Don’t Know Jack.” Even tho I was filling in answers left and right, I didn’t really feel I KNEW the answers … the puzzle made me feel like a phony, a pseudo-intellectual.

Here are all the things I didn’t know know (sic) but “got” anyway:

  • 11A: “Next” network (MTV). I think it might be a dating show? I don’t have cable, but sort of know who Tila Tequila is. Hmmm, on second thought, I’m not even sure that’s her name.
  • Clueless what a BRIAR pipe is (14A: Pipe type), I originally lightly wrote in BREAK, not that I know what a BREAK Pipe is either … for all I know it could be another kind of Jack!
  • 20A: Prefix with -cardial (EPI). Here in San Francisco, I prefer my EPI clues to be connected to EPICENTER.
  • 24A: Rapper Kanye WEST I know from his rants on award shows, but not his actual music. (PuzzleGirl, can you help a sista out here?) [Note from PuzzleGirl: Sorry, but I haven't paid much attention to rap since Run-DMC days! Here's a picture though.]
  • 29A: Capote wearers (MATADORS). The only Capote I know from is Truman. I’d look up what part of a matador’s outfit this is, but I am so morally, physically, emotionally against bullfighting, I refuse to even learn. I think the “spectators” for those animal cruelty sports should have THEIR ears cut off! Olé Olé indeed!
  • 32A: Munch Museum’s home (OSLO). I think I only learned this when they had those robberies recently. I had “The Scream” hanging in my college dorm room, as I am assuming half of the class of ’80 did … Along with the Matisse print of hands drawing hands (or was that Escher?) and I think a copy of Picasso’s “Guernica.” (My poster of Raquel Welch in “One Million Years B.C.” must have gotten lost by the Minneapolis movers en route to Boston!)
  • 35A: Marshal under Napoleon (NEY). Again I got thru the crosses … being totally ignorant of things Napoleon except for one famous palindrome … I’m not even going to put up a picture of the pastry! Although I did google NEY post-solve so I wouldn’t put something wrong in the blog and saw he is buried in Pere LaChaise in Paris, which I once spent an uncomfortable afternoon in looking for a place to throw up. Long story, but suffice to say there are no discreet places to throw up in Pere LaChaise. You would think at least by Jim Morrison’s gravesite, but, alas, no.
  • 51A: ___ Gailey of “Miracle on 34th Street” (FRED). I toyed with BRAD. I’ve never seen it. Ok, so shoot me, I’m Jewish and am not big on Christmas movies. Even tho, of course, as a Jew, I spent Christmas going to the movies, but it’s usually something like “Platoon.” [PuzzleGirl: I’m not Jewish, but one year my sister, parents and I saw 14 movies in 3 days over Christmas.]
  • 5D: Yalta peninsula (CRIMEA). Got it, but again, an educated guess, not something I actually know/care a fig about. Again confirming what a pseudo-intellectual I am.
  • Same for 44D. I know Philosopher Kierkegaard’s first name is SOREN. I know “Kierkegaard” is Danish (or something Scandanavian) for churchyard or cemetery … but I’ve never read Kierkegaard … tho I know people who have … and was even in love once with someone who wrote his thesis about him … does that count?
  • Same deal for 8D: Writer Umberto ECO. Saw the movie, tho.
  • Same deal for 30D: A Chaucer pilgrim (REEVE). Got it, play it in Scrabble lots of times, but I’ve never read it. Jeez, I hope “they” don’t revoke my diploma retroactively after reading this blog. I mean last year, I only read books that friends wrote, or even books that I’m IN and even then I only skimmed the chapters.
  • 13D: Pioneering General Motors electric car (VOLT). I would think as a namer I might have even heard of that. Sort of cute and fun … but, nope.
Now that I look at this list, I’m even ashamed to know me. I wonder how I could do this whole puzzle in about ten minutes but not really know anything. I mean I knew Fred Astaire, Candice Bergen, Miles O’Shea (and his eyebrows), loved the definition for Zero Mostel (52A: Talented Zero) … so maybe it’s back to TV Guide puzzles for me.

And, despite having been a standup for ten years, back in the day, and a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune,” HAHAS (34D: Comedy club outbursts) and AN O (38A: “I’d like to buy _____”) were the last letters I filled in. HAHAS reminded me of the lame club names I used to perform at … like when the Holy City Zoo in SF changed its name to HAHA-A-GO-GO or something like that. I choose to block that out and blame it on drugs, even tho I’ve never done any.

Oh, as for Malapops (I’m going to force this into the language!), I’m going to count misspelling ABEL as ABLE yesterday, only to have it turn up today as 1D: Up to it! Perhaps some of you had your own Malapops with 4D and 47D both being defined as a three-letter word for Granola morsel and yes, I tried putting OAT in for both!

And I’m going to count MAMA (52D: Word from crib) as a repeat of yesterday’s word from the crib, DADA. See! I told you. There is one thing that is repeated each day and it’s not my imagination or the drugs I’ve never taken!

I’ll try to end on a high note. I immediately got ANGST (6D: Recurring Woody Allen theme) because as a 14-year-old, I met him and we had a running correspondence (I know, I know … but I didn’t know then!) and he turned me on to Robert Benchley and SJ Perelman. Whenever I would go to NY to visit my grandparents, we would go hear him at Michael’s Pub. This was before he was so famous that they had to literally rope him off. There’s more to this story, needless to say, but I’ll just leave you with a picture from one of those nights.


Thank you again to PuzzleGirl, whose boundless enthusiasm and skillsets (a word I swear I’d never use) made this all possible. Now I have to go grab a flashlight and find that Rex! “Here, Rex! … Rex?! … Rexxxxxxxx!”

79 comments:

Anonymous 1:56 AM  

Another wonderful blob, er, job, by ACM and PG. Kudos!

Those who follow entertainment news may have noticed that one of our favorite solvers, Christina A. of the Sunday, Mar. 2, puzzle, had to make an incredibly tough personal choice recently. I’ve been a fan for a long time—she was in movies and TV series even before “Married … with Children.” Twenty-plus years later, it’s amazing how she keeps getting cuter, smarter, and more talented. Just wanted to send heartfelt warm thoughts and good wishes her way, and let her know that her pals here are thinking of her.

FGB

Daryl 2:14 AM  

Generally an okay puzzle, but I was cross at the OSHEA / EEG cross. Milo O'Shea is a decent character actor, but not quite well-known enough to make it clear to me whether it was EEG, ECG, or EKG, all of which I'd argue are acceptable answers to "Hosp. procedure".

@FGB - did not see the news about Christina A.; good wishes too.

jae 2:18 AM  

Another fine write up Andrea and PG. I suspect many of us sort of bluff our way through these knowing a lot of surface stuff without much depth. (That's what post-puzzle googling is for.) I'm with you on getting but not really knowing NEY, ECO, the MTV show, FRED (tried MAUD at first with just the D), and OSLO. I also had TELEVISE briefly. On the plus side I have read Kierkegaard, scanned enough of Chaucer to get REEVE, and have seen the commercial for the upcoming VOLT. Although, this hardly qualifies me as renaissance person.

dk 6:00 AM  

@acm, cute picture. That was a great time to be in NYC. The actors bar still existed at the Algonguin, etc. My brother and I was spent a Tuesday night and Wednesday morning discussing the root causes of the Civil War with two now famous actors and a director at the aforementioned bar. You must have some great NY moment stories. Did you live in SF when Herb Caan was writing for the Chronicle? Ok enough gushing.

The third smooth puzzle in a row. Spelled SYNOD and NEY with an i and kept wondering about 55d only to realize I filled it in the crosses. Otherwise, a great use of 11 minutes or so this AM.

I used to have "you don't know Jack" on my computer and got yelled at by a woman in the seat in front of me (on some random plane) for laughing to loud.

Puzzletwins, I will see if I can get Rex's photo on some milk cartons for you. My guess is he is embracing his inner slacker in Bal'mere. Rex, try the Crab Claw in St. Michaels, MD.

Crikey, its 5 AM. Back to bed for me.

dk 6:01 AM  

that is once spent not was spent... maybe

Barry 6:57 AM  

Morning, folks!

Definitely not an "easy" puzzle for me today! I did manage to finish it unassisted, but it took multiple passes through the grid with numerous educated guesses. I liked the theme, but it took me awhile to get it because I've never heard JACK used to refer to "money"

The one area of the puzzle that caused me the greatest grief was the, er, Chicago area? Sorry, I'm really bad at geography. Anyway, I confidently put TELEVISE instead of TELECAST (I see I'm not the only one who did that), and that rendered that area impossible to solve until I finally accepted the possibility that maybe, just maybe, it wasn't TELEVISE after all. Once I accepted that, I thought of TELECAST almost immediately and everything fell into place very quickly after that. For awhile there, though, I was really thinking the puzzle had defeated me and I would have to do a little Googling...

joho 8:25 AM  

This was a good, solid Wednesday puzzle to me ... didn't get the theme right away but when I did everything came together ... except where the dreaded TELEVISE mistake took place. But that was quickly resolved.

@amc & @PG: wonderful write up once again. Loved the picture at Michael's Pub. I used to go there with friends every Monday to see him play. No ropes.

@dk: My family spent New Year's Eve in the small bar at the Algonquin. At midnight we'd go out to see the ball drop. It was a lot of fun. And when I lived in SF I met Herb Caan because he was friends with my ex father-in-law. Today your comments brought back many happy memories.

Ulrich 9:18 AM  

@yes, the picture is great--looks like a polaroid, no?

After starting on a positive note, let me voice my one huge complaint: The clue 55D gets it exactly backwards: A jack is a playing card, but not every playing card is a jack--the same is true for all the other theme answers. I.e. each of the theme answers defines jack in a certain way, as opposed to "jack" defining the theme ansers, as the clue claims. It speaks to the genius of acme that she got it right, intuitively, in her write-up.

PhillySolver 9:26 AM  

I thought this was a very good challenge for a Wednesday. Ultimately what I think ACM is telling us is you don't need to know much (or even Jack) to be a success at crosswords.

I am posting a time wasting video inspired by the talk of Philosophy here and the area of interest to me in the Olympics. It is a Monty Python skit, so imminently related to crossword fill. Philosophical Challenge

http://www.videosift.com/video/Monty-Pythons-International-Philosophy-sketch-Archimedes-playing-soccer

Bill from NJ 9:32 AM  

As a non-major in Philosophy, Kierkegaard is one of those writers I have read AT rather than actually READ so I guess that makes me a poser too.

I also fell into the TELEVISE trap and it was complicated because, as a poser, I knew who Marshal NEY or DEY or BEY was but not how to spell it. I have this problem every time he shows up at the party.

Didn't know what the Capote clue meant or wanted but saw that it was MATADORS by the crosses.

All in all, found this puzzle disagreeable but not particularly on its own merits. I still don't know what PLUGINSERT means.

Norm 9:54 AM  

@bill from nj, I think PLUGINSERT meant like the holes (plugs?) where the cables hook up your YV, cable baoz, TIVO, whatever. Pretty awkward, but then I thought the entire puzzle was kind of awkward. Not affirmatively unpleasant but left me flat.

Norm 9:54 AM  

Make that TV & cable box. If I could actually type, I'd be dangerous.

ArtLvr 10:02 AM  

Darned good puzzle, ditto your joint write-up! Those long theme answers were all fresh, and I was afraid there would be more idioms about the JACK as PLAYINGCARD until I saw MONEY and the PLUGINSERT. Then the rest fell fairly easily.

It took help from the [t.w.i.m.c.] to limit the first letter choice of WEST and get the rapper, and the same first letter help from ODED to get the ["Whip It" band] DEVO. I doubt those will ever stick in my mind... BOER associated with the clue [Great Trek] will probably stick now, [Capote] as a cape maybe. SOREN and NEY were gimmes.

Talk about a right answer in the wrong place -- I really think Woody Allen is a bit of a DRIP. but like the word ANGST anyway!

∑;)

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

a briar pipe refers to a pipe that one smokes, briar being the wood of the bowl.

Crosscan 10:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crosscan 10:13 AM  

I did this puzzle last night and as I checked the blog this morning I realized I had no memory of the puzzle whatsoever.

Its not bad, not good, took me average time. Just a Wednesday, a placeholder for that wacky upcoming Thursday puzzle.

By the way, my Spider-sense is tingling that we are due for a rebus either Thursday or Sunday. I think its been a while since the last one.


Your picture has made me think of what picture of me and a famous person I could post if I were a guest blogger. Only thing I can come up with is me and Mickey Mouse. What luck I came across him in Disney World. He is taller than he appears in movies.

miriam b 11:01 AM  

Fortunately, a definition for JACK as in "You don't know" wasn't included The original phrase, in case any of you live in too rarefied an atmosphere to have heard or used it, is "You don't know Jack $^^^." Maybe the clue WAS in there when the puzzle was submitted, but Will nixed it? Nah.

The puzzle was a good solid Wednesday offering. It looks as if most of us fell into the TELEVISE trap at first.

On cat defections: This happened years ago. I'd been in the hospital for several days post-surgery. On my return home, our ~11-year old white cat, Bianca, who was totally deaf, sped off and was gone for about six weeks. One morning she waltzed back into the house, clean and well-nourished. She had evidently found safe haven, and we wondered whether her interim family now missed her. I even wrote a letter to the local paper in hopes of tracking down the kind soul, or souls, who had taken her in. It seemed impossible that she had survived on her own.

@crosscan, you're a riot.

Orange 11:04 AM  

I don't like "Malapops." It sounds like it means "really crappy alcopops," and then I think about Zima and get sad. Plus, the noun malaprop is lowercase, so the capital M throws me and makes it look like a trade name.

The first person I ever had crossword races with was my editorial assistant. (I won.) Disheartened, she left publishing for the Peace Corps and went to the Crimea, which is part of the Ukraine. She learned Ukrainian before going...and discovered when she got there that the Crimeans all spoke Russian.

Jane Doh 11:04 AM  

I liked this puzzle for its overall intelligence and mix of moderne and fogyish clues. The theme could be described as "solid;" it is kind of lacking in the pizzazz department. The theme answers are straight, definitional phrases that might not appear in a puzzle otherwise, not even in an unthemed Fri./Sat., because they're on the dry side. Nevertheless, very nice grid and an enjoyable solve.

MER = Water around Polynésie. Hmm. Polynésie appears to be in l'océan Pacifique. Feels like a stretch with such a specific location.

Interesting to see both Fred Astaire and Woody Allen in the clues. Today's NY Times has a review of the new WA film and describes FA as WA's "homely Hollywood forerunner ... a profoundly reassuring role model for male nerds of all ages." Fourth-grade boys, take note!

The REEVE seems to be the most popular crossword pilgrim among Chaucer's lineup. I do like the Wife of Bath the best of all of them. Wish she would turn up once in a while. In college, I read "The Canterbury Tales" in Middle English. Probably wouldn't do it now, still, blog comments like "I got it ... not something I actually know/care a fig about" for answers such as CRIMEA, SOREN, ECO, REEVE are a disconnect. OTOH, I'm not all that excited by the factoid I learned today -- "Next" = MTV show.

--JD

Skip 11:07 AM  

I feel sorry for anyone who hasn't seen "Next."

mac 11:19 AM  

It's good to be back on the East Coast. I realize I felt behind when in the West!

Great write-up, Andrea and Angela. I'd love to hear more of the Woody Allen story.

I must admit to some of the same sentiment while doing this puzzle. I got it done in good time, without help, but had to hop about solving. I also televised, tried to put in oat twice, and first put in "Colt", but I think that's an existing, non-electric car. I like quite a few of the clues/answers, all in all this felt a little edgier than Wednesdays usually are.
What do we know of the constructor?

@Ulrich: I think your complaint was foreseen and solved by including the word "can" in 55A.

Best wishes to Christina. It always amazes me that medical details are all over the newsmedia in this country.

Got to go, my Kierkegaard is waiting.

Two Ponies 11:19 AM  

Very nice Wed. puzzle and great write up.
I'm watching now for the bleed over from one day to the next as it seems to be happening frequently as noted by our blog team with the mama/papa answers. I think malapops is a great new word. Let's keep it.
Solid fill around the theme. Loved Foist in the grid. Can I use that in conversation without sounding like I have an accent?
Pere LaChaise is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. Oscar Wilde's grave is also there and his tombstone/sculpture is just as you might imagine it to be. The bronze is also very shiny in certain places. Jim Morrison's was very disappointing and full of well-intentioned (I guess) litter.

foodie 11:25 AM  

ACM, I loved this write up! I think it's even better (funnier) than yesterday, so I'm glad you did not say NO. But the advice of the book title is terrific-- It's amazing how often it needs to be taught, especially to young women, in all types of interactions. I'm going to buy a dozen copies and distribute.

Puzzle was a good workout for Wednesday. For me it had some rough spots, due in the Carolinas. Having TELEVISE did not help at all, I could not think of REEVE, and I wanted the theme down answer to be something to do with MALE rabbits (bunney?) instead of MALE DONKEYS (i.e. as in Jackrabbit).

I had what you might call a "malapop dilemma" with OAT and NUT, trying to place them in each other's spots during various stages of solving.

PS. @ ACM, finally figured out the answer to my question to you a couple of days ago-- by tumbling to the connection between ACM and Acme.. Duh..

fikink 11:28 AM  

Does anyone use JACK for money anymore? I remember it from the days when Brother DIT was going through his "greaser" days.
When was the expression's "heyday"?

Bill from NJ 11:31 AM  

@norm-

Thanks for the info. If we were graded on our typing, we'd all be in trouble. My laptop's keyboard is not designed for my blue-collar fingers.

@ crosscan-

My FPP (Famous Person Picture)is not someone everybody would know - perhaps Phillysolver knows him because he is local to me - COZY MORLEY. We had a long conversation about his memories of the Borsch Belt

SethG 11:32 AM  

It took me at least 8 crosses to get each of the theme answers. (Well, 4 for MONEY.) And for a long time I didn't know any of them, and I was stuck not knowing whether they'd be jAcks or jOcks. And add me to the TELEvise list.

I think my mentioning Miracle on 34th Street was more random than precognitive alignment with Shortzical brainwaves. I'm Jewish and am not big on Christmas movies except that one ("bags and bags all over the joint"!). Jews do go to the movies on Christmas, often before or(/and) after eating Chinese food.

I think my feelings about the puzzle would be similar to my feelings about NEXT, which I've never seen but which MTV describes thusly:
Ever wish you could bail in the middle of a bad date? Well, NEXT is the MTV show that lets you do just that. We'll set you up on 5 dates. The minute you get annoyed, angry or just plain bored, simply kick 'em to the curb by saying "NEXT", and start over with someone new. Don't feel too bad for the ones you give the boot. They'll get cash for every minute they last and the one who makes it to the end gets a chance to turn the tables. They can choose to go on a second date with you or take the money and run. So be careful what you do, because sooner or later you could be the one hearing the word "NEXT."

dk 11:54 AM  

Trust me this is a puzzle bleed over as mentioned by @two ponies:

ladies of the puzzle, if my son is going for a degree in losing his virginity (as did @brett) promoting this whole no thing is not going to help. He is at Tulane for crikey sake and that costs a small fortune.

To take another tact, there is a business book titled "Getting to Yes" and perhaps we could blog a book titled "Getting to No You"

And, last but on least when Nancy Reagan first came out with the button that simply said NO some wags (not me of course) turned them upside down. A period was added to the button in short order.

..............end of lame joke bleed over.................

@joho, glad to have brightened your day... I sat with Mr. Caan a few times at the Buena Vista. I had done a photo exhibit Titled New York Moments and he saw it and we discussed doing the same thing in SF. This was in the early eighties (gosh maybe that is an era)

jeff in chicago 12:12 PM  

This was a toughie for me. No need to publicize my miserable time. Had TELEVISE, but TOKEN made that impossible. It took many crosses to get it right.

Woody Allen and ANGST go together like Fred Astaire and TOPHAT. No other answers are possible!

Had DRAIN for pipe type, making the NW a challenge.It worked with DRIP and neither ADHOC nor EPI came easily.

The theme seemed tight to me with the possible exception of PLUGINSERT.

Andrea: I'm sure those movers stole your Raquel poster. You just cannot trust those Minneapolis movers! Nice write-up.

Doug 12:22 PM  

Lots of trouble with this one, but was watching the diving and trying to eat dinner at the same time. Not quite "quality time." However, some surprise Canadian medals so was exciting to see.

It took a good 45 mins, and had a couple goofs scattered all over the grid: TELEVISE (CAST), KNAVE (REEVE), TUXEDO (TOPHAT), JADES (NUDES), VEIN (DRIP) so I was staring at a broad problem.

Plus, the theme didn't exactly jump out (a good thing) and I didn't know a male donkey and money were terms for JACK. So I struggled.

@philly, that's an oldie but a goodie. I just met my two closest HS friends last weekend after only 2 get togethers since 1989. We're still going off about dead parrots after all these years.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Plug insert as in phone jack seems just fine to me,

Orange 12:28 PM  

Omigod, DK, I cannot believe you went there. Coaching women on saying "no" isn't about sex, it's about not running one's life as a "people-pleaser" at the expense of one's own free time and happiness. As for a woman saying "no" to sex, only a loser is interested in having sex with a woman who's not enthusiastic about having sex with him. (A loser or a borderline rapist, technically.)

Everyone who's talking about him, it's Herb Caen, not Caan.

Christina Applegate's medical info is out there because she chose to appear on Good Morning America and disclose it. Most cases of breast cancer aren't linked to specific genetic markers, but when the BRCA1 mutation runs in the family, geneticists typically advise patients to consider prophylactic mastectomy. It's a huge life-saver, and Ms. Applegate is a class act for putting a public face on BRCA1. I applaud her candor and refusal to hide her mastectomy.

Joon 12:29 PM  

this kind of theme is a pleasant variation on the kind we had last wednesday, with four non-standalone theme entries all clued using the same word (e.g. KITTY). i don't like those themes because there's no "aha" moment. (even quip themes, which i like even less, have one "aha" moment.) i think the last time we saw a puzzle with a theme like today's was joe krozel's thursday, march 27 puzzle. i liked that one too, although it had the additional excellent feature of a 70-word grid, including nice fill like ONEONONES and CAMERASHY, with the delightful clue [Hard to take?].

as a veteran of academic trivia, i have long since gotten over any qualms regarding poser knowledge. it's just too hard to have read everything that gets asked about, so you do the best you can, and if that means memorizing titles of authors you've never read, or character names of books you've never read, so be it.

you've all probably noticed that crosswords would be a lot harder if the words didn't cross. (also, you'd want to call them something else.) one of the best things about them is that you can learn new stuff while still being able to solve a puzzle completely (via crossing letters and pattern recognition).

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

I would think that people who knew or associated with the newspaper columnist--especially crossword people, who should be above-average spellers--would know that the fellow's name was Herb Caen, not Caan...

mac 12:49 PM  

@Orange, I completely agree with you on Ms. Applegate's way of dealing with her medical problem. In her case she made the decision to go public, for all the right reasons. Often, though, the press gets very intrusive, even when it is clear that the celebrity/patient does not want to disclose. Paul Newman is the latest case in point.

joho 12:57 PM  

@orange: Of course it's Herb Caen. Brain dead.

@anon 12:41: Good spelling has nothing to do with intelligence

Mimi 12:59 PM  

It took me forever to correct TELEVISE to TELECAST, because 25A seemed ok as RAVED. I was hearing all those calls of yesterday's BRAVO/A/I discussion during a STANDing ovation.... Finally accepted that TOKEN was so right it had to overrule 'VISE' and at last CAST came to me.

Such is the novice's experience with a Wednesday.

Doc John 1:01 PM  

@ c.a.- Again I offer my heartfelt wishes for your speedy recovery. I also applaud your grace in handling the whole ordeal. You are truly a class act.

Now, on to the puzzle. I had to pick through this one, like I do every Wednesday, jumping around to fill in any clue that caught my eye. Consequently, I was having a hard time at getting the theme answers. Finally, PLAYING CARD appeared and so I quickly filled in 'pack' for the down. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to check the cross and Poe didn't exactly describe a [diner cupful] so I went with JACK.

I also fell into the televise trap. This guy is holding a capote.

I love playing You Don't Know Jack- wish they made it for the playstation.

A little REEVE trivia: did you know that the word 'sheriff' comes from reeve? In Britain way back when, the local law was called the 'shire reeve' which subsequently became 'sheriff'.

To the one who had the problem with the EEG clue: Yes, those other tests could have fit, too, but they sure didn't work with the cross! My biggest problem was calling it a hospital procedure when the vast majority of EEGs are done in regular medical offices. But, since they're also done in a hospital, I guess the clue counts. Although, could you then say that filling out forms is a hospital procedure?

I really wouldn't call a VOLT a pioneer. Many similar cars have come before it. It's just a plug-in hybrid. If you want to talk pioneering GM electric cars, try the EV-1. (And then see, "Who Killed the Electric Car?".)

TOP HAT- My uncle is the middle one on the right.

Mimi 1:11 PM  

P.S. I forgot to ask if someone can explain T.W.I.M.C. please? No clue...

Doc John 1:13 PM  

@ mimi- To Whom It May Concern

ronathan 1:23 PM  

@mimi

T.W.I.M.C. = To Whom It May Concern

It took me awhile to get that one too. Does anybody actually abbreviate "To Whom It May Concern" in this manner? It seems like something someone might write in a text message or e-mail, but then again it seems oddly informal to abbreviate the phrase when its intention is to BE formal in the first place.

I only ask because I heard a story recently on NPR's MarketPlace about how too many prospective employees are loosing jobs because they use common abbreviations from the world of blogging/texting/e-mail in office correspondence, or even on their resumes when applying for jobs! A sure symbol of the decline of the English language, if you ask me (or should I say, IMHO).

This puzzle was really hard for me. Like doc john, I had to jump around alot because very few of the clues leaped out at me as being obvious. Perhaps I am too distracted today, but I had way too much trouble coming up with answers, and felt that the theme wasn't all that remarkable. This puzzle gets the proverbial shrug from me.

Cheers,
Ronathan :-)

rafaelthatmf 1:47 PM  

I have found that women rarely mean no when they say no to sex. Rather it seems they mean no to sex with ME! I consider that a rather significant distinction.

Spelling is for uptight anal retentives who probably received toilet training at gunpoint. A letter or two changes the meaning not one bit.

Z.J. Mugildny 2:26 PM  

I found the blog writeup of this puzzle much more interesting than the puzzle itself. I call this the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" phenomenon. When I'm watching the show I don't really laugh, but when I'm talking about it with others later I'm in hysterics.

It was just the right difficulty for a Wednesday, which made it enjoyable, but the theme... eh.

Mike 2:27 PM  
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Mike 2:29 PM  

re: CAPOTE

The -ote/-ota suffixes mean large, like the -ito-ita mean little. I guess that means capote is a large cape.

dk 3:16 PM  
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dk 3:18 PM  

@orange, re your OMG: my sense of humor is base at best.... and often times I seem to be the only one laughing at my jokes. Even now I am thinking an existential work titled "Letting Noh." See, I can't help it.

My opinion is the desire to please and engage in ritual forms of self sacrifice is not gender specific, having spent more than a few years as a real psychologist I have heard "but i gave up my life for..." from both sides of the aisle. In short we all should read the book.

And to those who commented on the Caen spelling, I can only say good posters are hard to find and my biggest challenge in puzzles is I would spell Caen as CAAN.

Thus, I have to agree with @joho that gud spilling is nut an andacator uf intellagents.

Best regards from the not so bright prince of posers and losers :)

joho 4:10 PM  

I feel a bit awkward posting my best wishes to Christina A. as I do not know her ... but, I do admire her work and her gutsy attitude towards most recent developments. I just want to say that my mom endured such surgery and treatment at age 40 and had a long and wonderful life. I wish the same to Christina. And also continued success in her puzzle solving -- this we do have in common, a love for the NYT crossword!

green mantis 4:16 PM  

I had a hoist/foist moment, which left me with someone named (plausibly, I thought) H. Red Gailey. First name Hiram, I believe.

Hoist is not really a sibling of foist; I think I was having a founder/flounder moment, although that latter pair do, I think, bear some family resemblance.

Other items: @Orange: "...and then I think about Zima and get sad." I love you.

@acme: Andrea Carla Michaels IS Forrest Gump in the new film, "I Have a Story About That, Like to Hear It, Here It Goes." Seriously, the arc of your life is an epic oleo of bizarre, incongruous, and delicious intersections. I get giddy every time I hear a new chapter.

Re: Ms. Applegate: Would normally feel weird giving a direct "best wishes" to a celebrity I don't know, but I do think she lurks here so for what it's worth, I do wish her the best. We crossword types have to look out for each other.

Re: spelling: No, spelling acumen is not a reliable measure of intelligence, and yes, one or two letters certainly CAN change meaning. I just got a note from someone complaining about "towing the line" so long he'd run out of rope. I'm seeing images of canals and tug boats and thick nautical lashings. Delightful, and totally incomprehensible.

And finally, there are two feral kittens under my sofa. They won't shut up. I just, and I mean JUST, convinced my roommate to get rid of the two five-foot-long iguanas roaming free range through my living room, and now I've got a feline asylum under the couch. "Next" indeed.

karmaSartre 4:28 PM  

@GreenM -- I prefer "towing the line" as the correct spelling looks wrong.

jannieb 4:42 PM  

Good puzzle for a Wednesday. I'm squarely in the "televise" camp. I kept looking at "matidor" and thinking it looked odd, but nothing else looked any better for far too long. Once I dispensed with "Bled" in favor of "ODed" all became clear.

Best wishes, Ms. Applegate. Thank you for sacrificing your privacy to spread an important message.

Great job again, ladies. You make quite a team.

rafaelthatmf 4:54 PM  

Sorry for the double Rex.
“Towing the line” seems more like a misunderstanding than a misspelling especially in the provided context. And I think I get what the writer means without any further context.
I spend entirely too much time mentally reciting i before e except after…, cosmetic es at the end of words – sometimes! Drop the y and ies – pfffft! I tip my hat to spelling but feel no remorse for omissions or additions.

chefbea1 5:18 PM  

I am amazed that I did the puzzle without googling. was in a doctors waiting room. Got telecast because of token but had cacti for oases for a while

Great write up as usual

My father looked just like Fred Astaire only he never wore a top hat.. but he did smoke a briar pipe

joho 5:19 PM  

@green mantis: How in the world did you coexist with tongue-flicking iguanas? Or could I be wrong, maybe they eat kittens?

green mantis 5:38 PM  

Possibly not the best example in the world, but one that does hold water in that the swapping of one letter results in a derangement of meaning. It's just a refutation of the notion that spelling doesn't change meaning. It's not clear whether my example stems from misapprehension of the word or a misspelling of the word (by the writer or someone else) that engendered misunderstanding. You could chicken-or-egg that all day long.

I'm much more militant about instances where people use the wrong word entirely--the "I don't think it means what you think it means" phenomenon. I can give a pass where people play fast and loose with the definition of "irony," but not when someone uses the word "risque" to mean "risky." (True story.) Those inaccuracies disrupt the channels of clear communication much more than garden variety spelling errors, to be sure.

@joho: I barely did coexist with them. They made such a racket while running around having hissing contests that I pretty much stayed out of that room entirely. And there was the issue of their...functions, about which I will say no more. I don't really know how we got these cats, but I do know that they promise to go much better with a nice Chianti.

HudsonHawk 5:38 PM  

Ahh, the Canterbury Tales. Anyone else have to memorize the prologue in Middle English? "Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote, the droghte of March hath perced to the roote..." Twenty-five years later and it still sticks with me.

A lot of spelling mistakes are understandable, but they can change the meaning. In last night's Yankees game, they had a graphic on the keys for Darrell Rasner, the NY starter. The first one was:

"Bare down early in the count."

So glad Rasner didn't take it literally...

steve l 6:04 PM  

I'll throw in my two cents' (scents? sents?) worth on the value--or lack thereof--of spelling:

Being able to spell does not make you a smart or a wise person, and not being able to spell does not make you stupid, but spelling errors and the misuse of similar words make for an unfavorable impression of you. And of course, you don't fare well (fair well? farewell?) in crosswords.

Sometimes, if taken literally, as with the "bare" example mentioned previously, the difference is significant and could potentially be embarrassing (embarassing? embarrasing?).

Here are two very interesting sites showing misused and misunderstood word pairs in English. If you say, "Hmm, I didn't realize that's what the expression was," then you run the risk of looking stupid in your writing. (I'm not trying to make anyone feel stupid; these are just two very interesting sites for word lovers.)

http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html

http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/browse-eggcorns/

P.S. Thank God for spel chek.

chefbea1 6:04 PM  

@hudson hawk boy do I remember memorizing that.
I don't remember any more than you quoted.

Barry 7:08 PM  

Spelling, schmelling. As long as people don't constantly confuse lose and loose, I'm pretty laid back about the whole thing.

Remember, folks -- "lose" means "to relinquish possession" or "to be defeated." "Loose," on the other hand, means "not tight" or "free to roam around." You can lose a game, lose your job, lose your mind or lose a bet. You do not "loose" any of these things. The only way "loose" can be used as a verb is if you mean "to set free."

Oh, yeah -- and plurals are rarely, if ever, formed by appending "'s" to a word. Some usage experts allow this form when pluralizing abbreviations or numbers (like "the 80's" or "multiple API's") but that's it.

So, yeah. Lose/loose and inappropriate plurals. Those bug the snot out of me. That's pretty much it, though. Well, that and people who say "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less" (don't tell me it's an ironic usage) and/or don't know what "nonplussed" really means and use it exactly the wrong way. But other than that, I'm cool. No, really!

Bill from NJ 7:47 PM  

I may play fast and loose with my grammar and sentence structure but spelling is an altogether different proposition and, I think, is what separates the sheep from the goats.

We are in the midst of the worlds largest dictionary ( the Internet) and there really isn't any excuse for misspellings.

Being a natural-born speller is no indicator of intellegence. I have learned this from experience. But consistency is the name of this particular tune

joho 7:50 PM  

@hudsonhawk & @chefbea1: I just remember the first three words, but now upon hearing the phrase, I remember when reading in Middle English was second nature to me. I think I needs to get back to my rootes.

fergus 8:04 PM  

Just wanted to chime in for the Wife of Bath's tale. One of the most audaciously seductive pieces of writing. Imagine if it were written for the 1970s.

Doc John 8:05 PM  

It's very hard to do a crossword puzzle with the words spelled wrong!

Anonymous 8:12 PM  

I had cacti too as well as televise, then I tried transmit, way off, dont know why token didnt jump out to me, god knows I've taken the subway often enough!
I thought nacre was horrible and kept second guessing everything (such as lifting toil...). No I did not no that a male donkey was also a jack and I have never called money jack. I also love You Don't Know Jack....! On the positive side i got adhoc, adept, oslo, devo, Mostel, and almost all of the puzzle right away, just coudn't figure the telecast, male donkey, matador and their crosses.

mac 8:20 PM  

@~mikey~, a little late, but you posted late two days ago and I just happened to go back to that day, but welcome! Keep on lurking and speak up. Good luck!

Rex Parker 8:29 PM  

I'm don't think CA lurks here any more. But she is lovely and kind and thoughtful and talented - da bomb, as it were - and I will always adore her.

I haven't even done this puzzle. Maybe I should try, even though it's spoiled.

rp

fergus 8:34 PM  

Finally read through all the comments - and want to check back through to the well-wishing for Ms. CA, with a reflection ripple from the puzzle:



ANGST looking at Munch
and Soren's book titles
we don't know

Matadors and ushers shove
a Devo mainstay

Fred obeyed nudes


----

The theme was pretty cool, too.

Michael 9:53 PM  

I got this puzzle, but slowly for a Wednesday. I've done Fridays more quickly. Stiil, it was a fair, if unmemorable puzzle.

green mantis 10:35 PM  

@Rex: I was trying to remember the puzzle in order to figure out whether to recommend you solve it, but my brain went blank. So that's...something to consider.

This puzzle is like oatmeal: perfectly suitable as food and utterly forgettable. If it had unwelcome raisin involvement, I could muster an emotion. Instead, it's just rather fair and satisfactory and acceptable and ecru-colored. Not rooty, not tooty, not fresh, not fruity.

fergus 11:08 PM  

and sort of OK to boot

PuzzleGirl 11:43 PM  

I'm late to the party today, but wanted to check in and say I thought this was an okay puzzle.

I had BUSTS for NUDES and, like so many others TELEVISE for TELECAST. Oh, and wanted RANTS for HAHAS. (HAHAS? Really?) But it all worked itself out. Love the term AXE for guitar.

I also wanted to tell you that you Can't Imagine how much fun it is to be in on Andrea's writing process. I had a blast cyber-hanging with her the last couple nights. Last night I even had her referring to her "crazy-ass sentences." And I sincerely hope that if I ever sub for Rex again I have the opportunity to post my picture of me and David Hasselhoff.

mac 11:53 PM  

@puzzlegirl: I can just imagine it would be a lot of fun to work with Andrea. Green Mantis really got her style earlier. It was an inspired choice of Rex. Please tell me you were joking about DH!

green mantis 12:34 AM  

No no, you can't joke about David Hasselhoff. The man is four inches from being officially declared a cartoon character; I think that rates a modicum of respectful silence, like you would do for someone close to death, or on the aspen-like precipice of sanity.

That's right. I invoked quaking crossword denizens. Slangily.

Orange 12:43 AM  

Don't, as the autobiography title says, Hassel the Hoff. He was terrific in the SpongeBob movie. He squeezed his pecs to propel SpongeBob and Patrick to safety.

There's a picture of me (and Stella Daily and Ellen Ripstein) with documentarian Morgan Spurlock. Does that qualify?

green mantis 12:49 AM  

What's the Zima quotient on that photo? Because it seems fairly high.

Okay I'm about to get in trouble so nighnight!!

andrea carla michaels 2:31 AM  

Coming home and not having to blog, what an empty, meaningless existence!
BUT finally time to read Kierkegaard!


I know no one is up any more, but I'm going to tie up some loose ends here...

@Rex
you must do the puzzle so I find out once and for all if we think alike or if it's one of my many, many delusions!
(I had so much fun, thank you for letting me play in your sandbox!)

@foodie
thanks for the kind words...and yes, acm=acme=andrea carla michaels
(nee eisenberg) thus my company: acmenaming and why I try and slip acme into my puzzles

@seth
Thanks again for that Venn diagram AND the "Next!" write up! I gotta get me on that show! Plus it reminds of the night I spent with Mr and Mrs Rex watching the Chasidic speed dating at the ACPT. Now THERE'S a reality show concept!

@dk
I totally got you were kidding, you did not raise my feminist hackles one hair...but DO buy your son a copy of "A Room of One's Own"...
Even if it doesn't raise his consciousness, he can use it as a chick magnet!

@ Bill from nj...please, I am NOT a poser. I am a pseudo-intellectual, which is the pseudo-intellectual word for poser!

@green mantis
Actually I prefer Zelig to Forrest Gump, and more appropriate given the whole WA thing, no?
Thank you for "getting" me...
if you like me it's as you described, my life has been a crazy olio of stuff...if you don't, I just seem like an insufferable name dropper
(A name I considered for my naming company, but went with acmenaming instead!)

@doc john
loved the reeve = sheriff riff!
And is that really your uncle???!!!
PuzzleGirl actually had originally chosen that photo of Fred Astaire, but I went with the solo one, not realizing I was cutting out your uncle!!!!!!!!!!

@PuzzleGirl
You're not Jewish???!!!!
Also, I meant to note that I think axe refers to any musicians instrument, not just guitar, right?
(please post a pic here of Woody Allen playing his clarinet)

Seriously, Thank you and Rex again! I haven't had this much fun since I had a threesome with Herb Caen and David Hasselhoff!

Doc John 4:01 AM  

@acme- Yes, that is really my uncle. Can't you see the resemblance? ;)

My uncle went to Hollywood to try to make it as a dancer. He got some bits in movies like Top Hat but ultimately didn't make it and after a few years moved to NYC.

Kathy D. 4:31 AM  

Puzzle was okay.

But I loved that Monty Python that was posted, think it's the funniest one I've seen.

What fun this blog is!

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

I don't believe I equated spelling ability with intelligence, and certainly did not mean to do so. My point was that if you claim to hang out with, or know someone pretty well, it's pretty odd that you don't know how to spell his name. (Caen, not Caan.)
And to the person up above, the preferred spelling of nonplused is with one "s," not two.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

So Andrea Carla Michaels did it with Woody Allen? Wow. He's such a pedo.

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