Domesticated ox in India - TUESDAY, Sep. 9, 2008 - Patrick John Duggan (Rap star who co-owns the New Jersey Nets / Hundred Acre Wood denizen)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "TOM, DICK, AND HARRY" (17A: Anybody ... and the missing clues for 30-, 48- and 63-Across)

This one felt clunky all over. Imaginative theme, but the phrase is "Every TOM, DICK, AND HARRY"; even thinking about it now, the phrase just feels odd. Seems more "everybody" than "Anybody." To have "Any" as part of the clue, and then have the answer have "AND" in it is weird. I think "Any" makes me want "OR," not "AND." This is all to say that the cluing felt inelegant from the get-go. Having two noun phrases and a verb phrase as the theme answers also felt just a bit off. Some part of my brain wants to shout "parallel construction!" There were other reasons why this puzzle felt like a slog (hence the difficulty rating). But there were also a few things I liked. But first things first.

Theme answers:

  • 30A: ??? (male turkey)
  • 48A: ??? (private eye) - I start teaching "The Maltese Falcon" today, so this answer I like
  • 63A: ??? (annoy constantly)
There were a flurry of clues that just felt off. EUROPE is a Grand Tour, not merely an Area in a grand tour (49A). That is, there is no part of a Grand Tour that is not EUROPE. I kinda like SHEESH as an answer, but "Cut me some slack!" (20A) isn't the first phrase that comes to mind as a synonym, although "Relax!" is, and "slack" and "relax" are related ... so, OK. The weirdest moment of the puzzle came at 46D: Wee. In the original draft that I test-solved, the clue had "Var." appended to it, and even then, I gagged on TEENTSY. Without the "Var." ... I ... I just don't know how you float TEENTSY without the "Var." There are about 150 times as many Google hits for TEENSY (1.54 million) than there are for TEENTSY (11,500).

But then there's fabulous stuff like VA-VA-VOOM, a luscious, ecdysiastical phrase marred only by the spelling on its clue, 39D: "Sex-x-xy!" I want to pronounce this "Seksksksy!" Then there's the Sex-x-xy Pierce Brosnan in "Remington STEELE" (37A: 1980s TV's "Remington _____"), a great blast from the past, unlike Lisa LOEB, whose one hit "Stay" makes me think of the worst decade of my, and possibly America's, life: the 1990s (23A: Singer Lisa with the 1994 #1 hit "Stay"). I'm sure she's a nice, talented woman, but I would rather have had the LOEB Latin Library here. Virgil!

The part of this puzzle I love the most, and probably the only one that I will remember in another few hours, is the JAY-Z / ZEBU crossing, which is a work of art (41D: Rap star who co-owns the New Jersey Nets + 52A: Domesticated ox in India). Genius. Terminal Z crossing initial Z ... contemporary American hip-hop crossing traditional Indian livestock ... that's chocolate and peanut butter right there. Fantastic. Warning, if you don't like profanity in your lyrics, or hate rap for any reason, you don't want to watch the following (by far my favorite song that contains the words "bitch" and "ho").

  • 1A: Filter's target (spam) - not my first thought. Or my second.
  • 21A: On the _____ vive (qui) - I don't even know what this phrase means, I just realized: "on the alert" or "vigilant"
  • 38A: Tequila source (agave) - Mmmm, tequila. Beautiful ... dangerous. Can make me happy or make me vomit. Thin line.
  • 40A: N.B.A. nickname (Dr. J) - he was in this movie once ...
  • 45A: Its HQ is in Brussels (NATO) - well, at least Belgium's good for something besides waffles ...
  • 54A: Wally's little bro (Beav) - I find "Leave It To Beaver" kind of mesmerizing. I used to watch it a lot back when my life constituted school and not much else. My favorite episode involves BEAV and Larry getting high on coffee grounds they smoke from Ward's meerschaum pipe
  • 1D: Jet-setters' jets, once (SSTs) - Crossword gold even before they were grounded (2003) - the last official flight was on my birthday of that year.
  • 2D: Hundred Acre Wood denizen (Pooh) - easy. I just wanted to type "denizen."
  • 4D: Old car that was famously available in black, black ... or black (Model T) - cool clue.
  • 5D: Middle Ages pseudoscience (alchemy) - medievalist's gimme!
  • 13D: Ocular woe (stye) - give me SSTS over STYE any day.
  • 27D: Org. co-founded by W. E. B. Du Bois (NAACP) - seems like there's a lot of abbrev. today.
  • 29D: ColecoVision rival (Atari) - ATARI's frequency seems to be increasing. I don't remember ColecoVision (except by name).
  • 32D: Carolyn who wrote Nancy Drew mysteries (Keene) - goes nicely with PRIVATE EYE, though ... Nancy Drew doesn't take cash for her cases, or wear a fedora (that I know of).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:41 AM  

First commenter, Huzzah, Huzzah!

Found the puzzle largely enjoyable, with only the TEENTSY-est complaint - agree with Rex on this one.

I'll go Rex one better on the terrific crossing he mentions, DRJ crossing JAYZ crossing ZEBU was simply sublime.


joho 9:07 AM  

Wow, I was blown away by this puzzle, just loved it. My only negative is TEENTSY which is not a word. Unlike Rex, I really liked the cluing for most part as it was new and fresh ... like Fire insurance? for TENURE and Loses on purpose for DIETS ... I was thinking in the terms of fixes or takes a dive. And many words are new: VAVAVOOM, BEAV, NUTSO, ALCHEMY, SHEESH, PRIVATE EYE, ZEBU AND JAYZ. I usually agree with Rex, but definitely not today.

Great job Patrick John Duggan!

PhillySolver 9:40 AM  

SUNNER didn't cause any grief? I guess it is on the other end of the spectrum from LATENED. I am glad some people love this one as it showed up as an orphan at my door and seemed to need some loving. This is the third time TOMDICKANDHARRY have been together in the NYT. Seems like it is old home week with the irony being the youth of the constructors. Perhaps I don't mention it enough, but thanks for the daily write up Rex.
P.S. in the book, the dame did it.

PuzzleGirl 9:49 AM  

Got the theme right off with TOM DICK AND HARRY and MALE TURKEY and chuckled to myself about all the possibilities for DICK.

Knowing too much about Nancy Drew (my undergraduate honors thesis was called "The New Nancy Drew: But Can She Still Tap-Dance in Morse Code?") caused me to be irritated with the Carolyn KEENE clue. Of course, I knew what they were looking for here, but Carolyn Keene isn't a real person. And she isn't even just one person, so ... I don't like it.

Firebug/PYRO is my favorite clue/answer pair.

Wade 9:51 AM  

1994 was one of my lost years. I have several. I knew the answer for the Lisa Loeb clue--STAY--immediately. That clue and answer are forever linked in my mind. I could never place the song, however. I always assumed it was one of those songs I knew but just didn't know I knew (like every Matchbox 20 song ever recorded, as I recently discovered.) Boy, was I wrong! I clicked on that video and not a single bell rang. I guess that's not so surprising, since I spent most of 1994 never leaving the duplex and trying to memorize a bunch of stuff ("The Four Quartets"! I memorized the whole "Four Quartets"!) in preparation for writing my manifesto, which is sort of what I've been posting on this board for the past year and a half or so, come to think of it.

Norm 9:51 AM  

I think of the phrase as "any old Tom, Dick, and Harry," so the "Anytbosy ..." cluing was just fine. Nice puzzle.. I'm struck by how often I've seen BEAV appear in the last week or so in various puzzles.

Rex Parker 10:02 AM  

Google says:

"Any old Tom, Dick, AND Harry" = 390 hits

"Any old Tom, Dick, OR Harry" = 2450


Ulrich 10:16 AM  

A week or so ago, we talked about Eeero Saarinen. Today, his father Eliel made it again into a puzzle. While the son stood firmly in the Modernist tradition (his furniture designs are modern classics), the father had a more classicist bend. His best-known building in Finnland is the Helsinki Central Railroad Station. Perhaps his best known work in the US the Cranbrook Academy.

Crosscan 10:18 AM  

ZEBU, huh? Ok, I hereby predict that ANOA will return before the year is over. You read it here first at ox central.

Liked ColecoVision clue, did not like TEENTSY.

Overall underwhelmed but that is my usual Tuesday reaction.

Let us dispense now with the how can a teenager know about the MODEL T comments. The Middle Ages was before my time but I've heard of them.

Oh, one thing Rex: April 1 is not Earth day. Did anyone mention that?

Victor in Rochester 10:21 AM  

Knew the word SKEIN, did not know the spelling which really slowed me down. Maybe there should be a rule about using words where the spelling doesn't follow the rules (i before e except after c unless sounded like a...). Tried SKEEN and SKIEN before getting it wrongly right. Otherwise, loved the puzzle.

PuzzleGirl 10:23 AM  

@victor in rochester: I'm pretty sure skein is pronounced "skane," so it follows the rule.

sheila 10:40 AM  

Skein (which puzzlegirl is correct about), is NOT a _ball_ of yarn. Balls are wound from skeins.

jae 10:45 AM  

Klunky seems right. I agree with Rex that the TOMDICK... cluing seems off and TEENTSY is just strange! Pretty tough for a Tues. with ELIEL, KEENE, ELGAR, and JAYZ (which I knew but I'm not sure why.) Some bright spots but not as elegant as yesterdays.

Parshutr 10:52 AM  

Thought I was SO clever, having filled in PRESIDENTTRUMAN after seeing TOMDICKANDHARRY.
Who knew? It did annoy me, but not constantly

Matthew 11:01 AM  

like the first commenter, LOVED DRJ crossing JAYZ - and Jay Z would have to - - brought to mind one of his insane freestyles on Hot 97 a couple of years ago, which started with . . .

"I've been crushing the buildings since Izod socks/
I'm so independent, shit I might buy Koch/
I might not stop, places to cop/
76th floors, you can call me the Doc"

and then before launching into the rest of the ferocity, he explains

"Hey, remember the Doc played for the 76ers . . Dr. J . . So I got the 76th floor of the joint. . so I be like "76th floor, you can call me" . . . ah, forget it"

KarmaSartre 11:17 AM  

TEENTSY was used (and its spelling discussed here at some length) in the 9/29/07 puzzle.

Margaret 11:23 AM  

I have a real problem with TEENTSY -- esp. without the one-size-fits-all "var." I don't much like STEELE crossing KEENE. Might as well throw in Miles OKEEFE while you're at it.

But there was much to like here. Favorite clues: "Fire Insurance" and "Goes platinum." And he covered the popular culture of almost every decade:

20's = MODEL T
30's = KEENE (for me, Nancy in her roadster with the wind in her titian hair is firmly fixed in the 30's -- no matter how many later C. Keene's there have been.)
50's = BEAV
60's = STAR TREK
70's = DR. J
80's = STEELE
90's = LOEB
00's = JAY Z

I wonder how much more difficult teenage x-word construction would have been before Nick at Nite?

Nice work, Mr. Duggan

chefbea1 11:26 AM  

I too did not like teentsy. Also thought Truman would appear

I read every Nancy Drew book. In 7th grade we had to write a long story at the end of the year and mine was like a Nancy Drew book. I still have it.

We have had way too many carats in the last few weeks...but of course we could cook them up with a bit of ginger

fikink 11:37 AM  

The phrase out here is "cut me some husk" which I just assume comes from the corn, but don't know for sure. Sheesh!
Loved seeing JayZ and I don't know why Carolyn Keene's name jumped out at me, but the other day I was weeding and Cherry Ames came to mind. I mean, yipes!, it pays to be ONTHEQUIVIVE.
And I am sorry, but I object, reject, wish to blow up, want no more of TEENTSY!
@joho, I am with you. I was thinking THROW for lose on purpose, but it didn't fit.

dk 11:43 AM  


I have had a star crush on Lisa LOEB for a decade or so.

I knew ZEBU.

SHEESH was a common household word.

My bus driver in high school was named Eddie Haskell.

I just had an AGAVE salad the other day.

So outside of spelling ALCHEMY wrong (therapists and market profilers) have a mental block against labeling anything pseudo-science) about 4 times. This one was easy for me.

Again the mix of old and new found in this puzzle ties some of this blogs threads on the age of the constructor and the era of pop culture used. My sister, xword maven who eschews blogs, claims it is a function of computer aided xword building tools. She was always the cranky one.

@puzzlegirl the whole Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys writing machine saga is fascinating. I was a big fan of both and the Tom Swift and Tom Swift Jr. books. Spent many a rainy summer in the attic of our cottage reading them with Kool Aid (aka, bug juice) and the oft clued Oreos.

(yes Mom, I did ruin my appetite for dinner)

jeff in chicago 12:05 PM  

Eh....everyone has covered all the issues already. Can I provide any insight? I'll just give it a RAH!

Jay-Z. meh. Not much into the rap thing. I started listening to the clip, but when, early into it, Jay-Z says something like: "If you don't like my lyrics you can hit fast forward," I followed his advice, except I hit "Stop." I'm not saying I think rap is bad. Art is subjective. You get to like what you like. (Someone is out there loving their polka albums; doesn't make them wrong, just a different musical taste.) But rap is too minimalist for my taste. I prefer more melody and harmony. And much of it is too self-referential. Stop rapping about yourself, already. OK...rant over.

ArtLvr 12:20 PM  

Nasty little Natick crossing for me -- the J in DRJ/JAYZ. Couldn't guess that. Otherwise, I enjoyed the puzzle, with a hiccup at TEENTSY (which was allowed once before by Will). That should at least have a Var., and PYRO's clue should have had an Abbr.

I like the BOA dangling from the ZEBU, the VERA and VAVAVOOM with platinum DYES, and echoes of Pomp and Circumstance in ELGAR (I played cello on that, back in the day, and can hear my part now).


Mary 12:21 PM  

re: Belgium - Belgians make some fine beers in addition to waffles. I always thought "LAMBIC" would make a good crossword clue

The Jay-Z/Dr. J crossing almost made me forgive the Teensty - almost!

mac 12:25 PM  

Agree with every other commenter about teentsy, also don't like sunner very much, but I loved some of the clueing, like the one for
tenure (with pyro not far away), stoic, vavavoom, diets and model T.

I wanted scum for 1A, and had to really dig for Dr.J and JayZ, and even though ball of yarn is not accurate for skein (a skein is so loosely rolled that you can start using the yarn from the inside) it was easily gettable. It was good to see Eliel for a change, too.

@wade: I had the same reaction you had with this song "Stay"; I thought I might recognize it if it had been a hit, but no bells whatsoever.

@chefbea: add a little saffron and garlic.

Karen 12:38 PM  

Off the Z I confidently filled in ZABU...which turns out to be the name of a fictional sabertooth tiger. What was that doing in my brain?

Nice catch on the SKEIN, I didn't blink an eye at the clue.

Scott 12:45 PM  

I was not feeling this puzzle, several of the clues and answers felt off somehow. Then I got down to VAVAVOOM and I was willing to give everything else a pass. Then I got to TEENTSY and it totally canceled out the greatness of VAVAVOOM. TEENTSY? really? really???? I hate to say something should automatically disqualify a puzzle but ... TEENTSY?? Yikes.

Ok rant over. Is Saarinen, Elie L. or Eliel?

PhillySolver 12:54 PM  

Wade, et al

The real hipster 'Stay' is a classic dance song. Enjoy
this version

I recently read 'Harry The Dirty Dog' or some such title to my granddaughter or I would wonder what the picture in your post was doing there.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

i like how you freaks struggle with "jayz" but know who eliel and eerno saarinen are.

mexicangirl 1:15 PM  

Agree with Mary. Belgians know their waffles AND beer AND chocolate AND comics. In fact, Brussels is home of the only museum of comics I know, called "Musée du B.D." (for Band Desinée). You can find murals and sculptures all around, referring to favorite Belgian comic characters.

miriam b 1:25 PM  

I'm getting way too addicted, so I plan to lurk until further notice.

Joon 1:35 PM  

scott, it's eliel. good old five-letter finnish name.

artlvr, DRJ was in acme's puzzle from about three months ago, and JAYZ was actually the theme of a david kahn LAT puzzle from this summer (can't link to the puzzle, but see orange's writeup). i think it was a pretty fair crossing--both of those people are pretty famous. "jay-z," for example, gets a whopping 36 million google hits. he's sold over 50 million records. by at least one standard ($$), he's the most successful rapper of all time. he's married to freaking beyoncé! the guy is very, very big. and i don't even listen to hip-hop.

and not to pick on you, but ... i liked rex's original NATICK principle:

If you include a proper noun in your grid that you cannot reasonably expect more than 1/4 of the solving public to have heard of, you must cross that noun with reasonably common words and phrases or very common names.

but i'm not as fond of NATICK's use around here by commenters (not rex, who to my knowledge hasn't had to invoke it since he coined it) to mean "a crossing that i didn't know." when i blew the ALMAY/DUM crossing on saturday, i didn't call it a NATICK. apparently other people know ALMAY, and i don't (didn't). that's all it is--there's no larger, name-requiring phenomenon at work. if this is what NATICK now means, what will we call it the next time an actual NATICK shows up? perhaps our fearless leader will just have to make up a new name.

dk 1:43 PM  

@anon at 1:02, actually we prefer the moniker: geek or in a pinch nerd... where did I leave those white socks and penny loafers.

And, we know Erno Rubik and some of us have hung out with Woody Allen.

Lastly (to confirm said geekdom) holding a wilderness rescue program in a few weeks. Our motto is we freeze or ass off to save yours. And, you know what makes excellent tinder for starting a fire: dryer lint. Part of the course is teaching how one can carry everything needed to survive for three days in package the size of a band-aide box or cigarette pack. Apropos of nothing I know, just working on the program outline at the moment.

My neighbors think it is verrrrrry funny when I ask for dryer lint for my collection. And, they hustle their children indoors.... exclaiming SHEESH what a MALETURKEY.

dk 1:45 PM  

that would be our not or ass off

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

"Teentsy" is in all the online dictionaries I have checked. See, for example,

"Teentsy" seems to me to be a natural, almost inevitable, linguistic development from "teensy". It's easier to say. (Try it both ways.)

I didn't hate the word.


Reynard 1:49 PM  

SHEESH parade:

09/09/08 :I kinda like SHEESH as an answer, but "Cut me some slack!" (20A) isn't the first phrase that comes to mind as a synonym, although "Relax!" is, and "slack" and "relax" are related ... so, OK.

02/08/08: 18A: Opening on an environmentalist's agenda? (ozone hole) - I can't believe that I had HOLE and still had to think a few seconds about what this could be. I was thinking of knotHOLES in trees ... sheesh.

01/20/08: Also dislike 112A: Jerry Scott/Jim Borgman comic ("Zits"), both because that comic sucks, and because nobody knows who the hell those guys are - at least brighten up your clue by giving it some relationship to the content of the comics. Sheesh.

11/04/2007: 128A: Key of cartooning (Ted) - I SAID I GOT NOTHING. "UNCLE," already, sheesh.

09/08/07: 7D: "Ah, Wilderness!" mother (Essie). I couldn't even tell you "Ah, Wilderness" author, let alone mother. Sheesh.

06/20/07: 1-Down, 1982 Richard Pryor/Jackie Gleason film ("The / Toy") - an answer I knew, and was proud of knowing, but one that heralded a certain willingness to go into some weird-ass territory. "The Toy" was not exactly a career-defining moment for either Gleason or Pryor. Sheesh.

HudsonHawk 1:58 PM  

@mary and mexicangirl--of course, you'll need some mussels to go with the Belgian beer...

Agree with Rex, with the clue for 17A, OR made more sense than AND.

As for cluing 4D, MODELT, I would have preferred the quote attributed to Henry Ford: "You can have it any color you long as it's black".

humorlesstwit 2:15 PM  

The only nit left unpicked is Domesticated Ox - it is redundant as by definition all oxen are domesticated. Further, they are trained to pull wagons / plow / labor ceaslesly. Take any old cow, train it to pull a wagon, and you've got an ox where you didn't have one before.

chefbea1 2:22 PM  

@dk If you post your address we can all send you our dryer lint!!

sheila 2:30 PM  

humorless twit - oxen are castrated bulls, not cows.

humorlesstwit 2:35 PM  

Steers are castrated bulls. Oxen are trained bovines

Orange 2:38 PM  

Also, French fries originated in Belgium. And the fictional detective Hercule Poirot was Belgian. Apropos of nothing, I hate it when restaurant menus advertise "Belgium waffles." "Gimme an England muffin and some France toast, please."

Alex 2:39 PM  

Ah, that's where my mistake was.

Didn't know ZEBU so ZEBI seemed just as reasonable. And somehow my brain wasn't biting on SUNNER (person in a solarium at all) so I forced myself to accept SINNER as acceptable. We all, after all, sinners so if there is a person in the solarium they must be a sinner.

No, I wasn't buying it either but somehow when I ran through the vowels SUNNER never popped as possibly a word.

acme 2:41 PM  

This puzzle was a total rollercoaster for me...
some fabulousness: VAVAVOOM


seriously, the theme was a mess.
I too felt it is usually TOM, DICK or HARRY, but given it could be both, I cut it some slack...
the answers were SO old-fashioned and barely in the language...

No one has said TOM, DICK AND HARRY since the 50's and even then it seems to evoke an even earlier time that maybe you'd only see in a film where the mother is saying to the ingenue "You go out with any Tom, Dick and Harry..."

I mean, no one mentions TOM in context of a turkey except maybe in puzzle...
Dick as a detective is not used, except maybe in Rex's classes and ANNOYCONSTANTLY is not only , as Rex mentioned, nonparallel construction, ie a verb with two nouns, but it's not even a verb we use, and it's certainly not a phrase in the language...

At best folks say "I felt rushed and harried", no one says "he harried her", or whatever.

It was weird, the whole teen thing aside (which I have so many issues about, but am trying to channel them positively and hold that discussion off line with fellow (I even hesitate to use that word) female constructors...)
it was a clever idea, bizarrely constructed, that I don't think would generally pass muster but Will seems to be cutting a LOT OF slack this week...

(for example, yesterday's puzzle with it's language WAS probably a Tuesday, but maybe he didn't have a solid Monday one to go with from that group, so, as Jane Doh mentioned, the narrative trumped the substance.
(Gosh I hope I got that right)

And I feel a bit harrumph-y saying that publicly, bec the idea of Will being a mentor can not be touted enough...
Will and I come to blows over some issues, but he is so fabulous with his time and generosity towards constructors young and old...
And he has been amazing recently with the young folks (total absence of girls not his fault)
and he has sat down beside me and given me a tutorial on a puzzle about to come out that I didn't believe how much I learned in one session with him...
so I don't like to poohpooh a constructor, especially a young one, but really this puzzle was rife with problems, not so TEENTSY and I think some of the fancy fabulous fill + the teen week hoopla, obscured the dreadful old-fashionedness, off-theme
( if I may say that not so much as a constructor, or a solver, but a person living in this century!!!!!)

That said, your managing to have a photo of Mr. Selleck who comprises all three Tom, (cut off) Dick and Hairy will make up for everything I have ever felt about anything!!!

sheila 2:44 PM  

Humorless - both steers and oxen are castrated bulls. Training is not what defines an ox.

humorlesstwit 2:48 PM  

From Wikipedia:

Oxen (singular ox) are cattle trained as draft animals. Often they are adult, castrated males. In New England and Maritime Canada, the term oxen refers to trained steers at least four years of age. Prior to age four they are referred to as handy steers. Oxen are used for plowing, transport, hauling cargo, threshing grain by trampling, powering machines for grinding grain, irrigation or other purposes, and drawing carts and wagons. Oxen were commonly used to skid logs in forests, and sometimes still are, in low-impact select-cut logging. Oxen are most often used in teams of two, paired, for light work such as carting. In the past, teams might have been larger, with some teams exceeding twenty animals when used for logging.

Catherine K 2:50 PM  

Anonymous @ 1:02:

Thank you for my biggest laugh of the day!

Anonymous 3:25 PM  


I know what you mean. I didn't learn English until after I had the Germany Measles and a youth filled with Mexico food and Belgium Endive. I learned to like Spain taps, Italy pizza, The Netherlands Cheese, oh, and Poland Sausage. America England Language is difficult enough without exceptions to every rule.


mac 3:31 PM  

@mexican girl: you're right, the Belgians are very good at comics; I enjoyed many of them growing up. The Belgian beer someone mentioned reminded me of a character in "Suske en Wiske": Lambiek. Or maybe he was in "Kuifje"?

Wade 3:37 PM  

Andrea, we had a turkey named Tom when I was kid. My dad bought it thinking it would be good to have a pet, give the kids some responsibility, see where food comes from, etc. But of course we got to love old Tom so much that, come Thanksgiving, we just didn't have the heart to kill him. So we ate the dog.

(Old David Letterman joke.)

chefbea1 3:38 PM  

also the Belgians would NEVER think of dunking their fries in catsup... only mayonaise and their fries are twice fried

Sam 3:59 PM  

The worst decade was probably the 70's... trust those of us who lived through them.

But the 00's may well overtake them at the rate we're going!

jannieb 4:24 PM  

So far teen week is not providing much of a "wow" factor. Seems like every bit of clever fill is negated by poorly constructed themes or non-word words like sunner or teentsy. I applaud Will's effort to mentor the next generation, but it doesn't help to relax the standards and permit sub-par puzzles into the paper.

Oddly, some of the earlier efforts by the constructors featured thus far have been much more entertaining.

fergus 4:30 PM  

Amateur French lesson concerning QUI Vive:

From my grammatically demanding HS teacher, who said the most direct translation is "Who goes there?" generally spoken by a sentry. The literal translation is "who lives," an explicit ending to the longer question of something like "Qui est la, qui vive. The VIVE is therefore third person singular, in the subjunctive. Glad you asked.

I don't think I've ever heard the term Ecdysiastical pronounced, though I read somewhere that it was coined by HL Mencken.

When my expectant cousin, who had married a chap with the surname DICK, and was casting about for infant name suggestions, my brother offered not TOM. And I still find this funny in a juvenile way.

fikink 4:45 PM  

Fergus: As to the French, "Qui Vive"- Indeed, it is a common question posed by Iowans to alert the mind to "incoming" ...we picked it up, across Illinois, from Indiana where people still shout, "Hoosier next of kin?"

Anonymous 4:50 PM  


actually, all *properly* prepared *fries*, be they French, Belgian, or (briefly) Freedom, are twice cooked.

... and when you freeze them between steps, you get the lesser quality of *MacFries*.

Mayo, catsup, ketchup, vinegar are regional adjuncts, but for me,a little salt is enuf if properly prepared :).


green mantis 4:56 PM  

I'm surprised nobody has gotten bunged up about all the proper names. I didn't have any problems with them, but I did notice them spawning willy nilly all over the grid. I mean...

Dr. J

You know what would be a great theme? Something that involved all thirty-seven of Palin's kids: Piper, Willow, Bristol, Pancreas, Trig, Algebra II, and Conjunctivitis. Crossword gold, no?

dk 5:01 PM  

@chefbea1, why thank you. You can send it to:

Dick Cheney
Naval Observatory
Number One Observatory Circle
Washington, DC 20500

fergus 5:36 PM  

GM, didn't you omit Scooter, Spleen, Texaco and Oocyte?

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

jannieb .... I share your thoughts on Teen Week. The odd thing about the puzzles so far is that they appear to be a throwback to yesteryear in both clues, fill, and themes.

Bill from NJ 6:13 PM  


By the time I was 12, I had read every Hardy Boys book, from Book 1 (The Tower Treasure) thru Book 39 (The Mystery of the Chinese Junk) Christmss of that year, I was given a Nancy Drew book (The Secret at Shadow Ranch)I was struck by how similar they were and wrote a book report to that effect. Imagine my surprise when I was clued in to the fact that they were written by the same "person."

Thanks to Margaret for laying out her list of every decade covered by this puzzle. I had come to a similar conclusion. Great minds, etc.

I had the same quibble about SUNNER as others and was more offended by that than TEENTSY which, in its original incarnation, had a Var attached to it

Wade 7:30 PM  

Regardless of the definition of ox, I still dispute Belgium.

chefbea1 8:17 PM  

@green mantis lol

@dk lol

green mantis 8:17 PM  

Dammit, I knew I was forgetting some. Good lookin' out, F.

Off to discuss the ravings of Lautreamont. Wish me luck.

foodie 8:30 PM  

The fall term descended like a ton of bricks. I haven't been able to do the puzzle since last Saturday. So, today I felt slower than my usual Tuesday, although it did not seem hard... I attributed it to being out of practice, but may be it was some of the inconsistencies that Rex and others have noted. But I loved certain parts, most especially VAVAVOOM! And while I did think the theme execution was inconsistent, I sorta liked the way that felt--expecting nouns and getting a verb at the end. Somehow, it felt deliberate and funny. Or may be I too feel generous towards the youg'uns.

I like the idea of bringing along the next generation of constructors. As soon as I read the note, I thought I should expect more computer/web, rapper, kidlit and TV related stuff... It's in there: SPAM, EBAY, ALT, ATARI, JAYZ, LORNE, BEAV, POOH...So, by contrast, the theme was quite old fashioned, as acme pointed out.

@ Green Mantis: Do you know that story called Too Many Daves by Dr. Seuss about Mrs. McCave who had 23 sons and she named them all Dave? So she imagines a fantasy list of crazy names for her Daves. Your list reminded me...

What is the theory for the young constructors being primarily male?

green mantis 8:43 PM  

Pardon me, did you say McCAVE? That's it; I'm voting for Dr. Seuss. I had only been aware of his critique of the two party system, "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." But the work you refer to seems even more prescient.

mac 8:48 PM  

@green mantis: are you getting ready for the West Coast XWord Puzzle competition? I think we need you there.

Ulrich 9:12 PM  

@foodie: If we look at the fields from which constructors tend to come (math, computer science--with notable exceptions), we can fold your question into a larger one: Why are women underrepresented in these fields? I can't really speak for math, but the Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), of which I'm a member, regularly muses about the question of how to attract more women to the field (recently superceded by the question of how to attract more students--period).

But I also want to stress one thing: When we discuss this, we should not forget that women constructors, when they get into it, tend to be really good at it. I do not remember any case in recent memory where we complained about a puzzle being subpar and where the constructor was a woman. There is our own acme with her charming Monday puzzles; there is the "elegant" P. Gamache; there is E. Gorski with her graphically accented puzzles, which I, as an architect, particularly like, and several others. But they all seem to get into the field later than the guys do.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

A couple of years ago a bored law student wrote a legal critique of the 99 Problems verse about the cop pulling him over. Pretty funny.

Orange 9:58 PM  

Foodie, one wouldn't expect BEAV from a teenage constructor these days, no matter how much TV they watch! This week's constructors' parents are probably too young to have watched Leave It to Beaver.

Actually, Fergus, I believe Scooter is Pancreas's middle name and not a separate Palin child.

Anonymous 10:17 PM  

Ah, Orange the story is that one of the underage problems started when Pancreas had a running nose and was asked, "Need hanky Panky?"


fergus 11:04 PM  

I worried that Algebra II was going to be confused with with the little one, but nowadays he just goes by Precalc.

green mantis 1:16 AM  

I know I've said this before, but I love you guys. Mac, I am on the case. Just been a little distracted lately.

Fergus and Orange, thanks for clarifying. It's hard for me to keep all my tundra-spawn straight. Maybe it has something to do with the subtle nature of the Eskimo language, in which there are 9 different words for the term "snow job."

Sweet dreams, the zero of you that are still up.

andrea carla michaels 1:40 AM  

@green mantis
I'm up, as it's only 10:30pm here and I'm looking forward to meeting you Saturday if I don't get Lost in Translation...I mean Alameda!!!

hollyhmc 2:31 PM  

just catching up...
loved the JAYZ.
if you haven't heard Mike Birbiglia talk about Jay-Z it's worth the listen he starts at about 2:00.

Waxy in Montreal 3:48 PM  

Once TOM DICK AND HARRY appeared, I really hoped our young constructor would find a way to include JEFFERSON, NIXON and TRUMAN in the grid.

And shouldn't the full phrase be VA VA VA VOOM (one VA short in the puzzle). I recall Art Carney popularized the expression bigtime on the Jackie Gleason show in the early 1950's. Along with "Sheesh, what a grouch"...

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