Bygone McDonald's Mascot! - THURSDAY, Oct. 23, 2008 - Patrick Blindauer (Product once pitched by Pele / Study for astronomes)

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: ANTS (55D: "Marchers" through the answers to the five starred clues) - five 7-letter theme answers contain the letter string "ANT," which shifts its place one square to the right with each successive theme answer. Thus "ANT" starts the first theme answer (ANTACID) and concludes the last one (ENCHANT)

Cute and undifficult. If anything is tricky about this puzzle, it's the fact that - if you tend to solve the puzzle from the NW down - you probably didn't notice any theme at all until you hit the very far SE corner. One annoying, or distracting thing, is that the longest Acrosses are not involved in the theme, a phenomenon you very very rarely see in a puzzle. Thankfully, one of those answers is the Very awesome PARTY FOUL (44A: Spilling one's drink at a shindig, for one), so I don't really care. I had this puzzle tagged as "Medium" difficulty, but when I resolved it last night, I couldn't see any significant difficulty. From my perspective, there's exactly one "WTF" word - POTASH (43D: White, granular powder), which sounds like some kind of Eastern European casserole. Now I'm sure I'll hear from the many of you who work in labs: "Oh, we use POTASH all the time. Why, just yesterday I was TARING some POTASH, when ..." etc. Here is my proposed use for the word POTASH - a contraction for "Poor White Trash." Now you can be cruel and demeaning to the underprivileged, and no one will be the wiser. "You're gonna buy that? That is soooo POTASH." "What?" "Nothing."

Theme answers:

  • 14A: *Settler in a pharmacy (ANTacid) - "Settler" killed me. I was imagining a Pilgrim, or something that "settles" to the bottom of a bottle, like that whadyacallit pouchy thing they put in pill bottles - desiccant!! DesiccANT!
  • 21A: *"_____ Island" ("FANTasy") - best way to clue "FANTASY," IMOO
  • 37A: *B'way hit beginning in '88 ("PhANTom") - never saw it. I really Really don't care for musicals. "Cats," "Les Miz," "Miss Saigon," "PHANTOM" .... no no no no.
  • 48A: *Where Delta Air Lines is headquartered (AtlANTa)
  • 61A: *Cast a spell over (enchANT)



Hurray for these answers:

  • PARTY FOUL
  • SPINOUT (23D: Indy 500 mishap)
  • TELL-ALL (56A: Like juicy biographies)

These answers are flashy and sassy and colloquial and dynamic. They really liven up the joint. I would say the same about SPEEDEE (60A: Bygone McDonald's mascot), but he is so "bygone" that he's pretty well out of popular consciousness (for those under, say, 50). He's like a mythological character. I barely believe he existed. His name is sure cool, though.

Wrap up

  • 40A: Sir Richard who co-founded the Spectator (Steele) - essentially, an 18th-century blog. Published daily, and meant as a provocation to discussion of topical and philosophical issues of the day. I just now got completely wrapped up in one of the essays I found on Google Book Search. The whole project is fascinating. Here's the beginning of an essay from 1711:

PERIODICAL ESSAYS REQUIRE MORE UNINTERRUPTED
ANIMATION THAN BOOKS.

A MAN who publishes his works in a volume, has an
infinite advantage over one who communicates his
writings to the world in loose tracts and single pieces.
We do not expect to meet with any thing in a bulky volume,
till after some heavy preamble, and several words
of course, to prepare the reader for what follows. Nay,
authors have established it as a kind of rule, That a man
ought to be dull sometimes ; as the most severe reader
makes allowances for many rests and nodding-places in
a voluminous writer. This gave occasion to the famous
Greek proverb which I have chosen for my motto,
"That a great book is a great evil."

On the contrary, those who publish their thoughts in
distinct sheets, and as it were by piece-meal, have none
of these advantages. We must immediately fall into our
subject, and treat every part of it in a lively manner, or
our papers are thrown by as dull and insipid.
  • 47A: Italian bone (osso) - I assume meat-eaters know this from OSSO buco.
  • 53A: Product once pitched by Pele (Viagra) - I guess Pele's better than Bob Dole...
  • 13D: "Nightmare _____," 1997 Disney animated series ("Ned") - wow. Never heard of it.
  • 27D: The "Working Girl" girl and others (Tesses) - the painfulest answer in the puzzle. "Too Many Tesses" would be a great (read: terrible) name for some teen chicklittish (man, that sounds pornographic) novel. It's hard for me to hate on "Working Girl," though. It's quintessentially 80s, and Melanie Griffith, despite many fashion impediments, is très hot:



  • 41D: Study for astronomes (etoiles) - wow, you pretty much have to know some French for this one.
  • 49D: _____-dernier (penultimate: Fr.) (avant) - whoa ... more rough French. [_____-garde] was apparently too Monday for this puzzle.
  • 59D: Little Joe's pa on "Bonanza" (Ben) - Cartwright, I assume. Way before my (TV) time.
  • 25D: Actress Mary Martin's actor son (Larry Hagman) - Great answer. HAGMAN reminds me simultaneously of my friend Greg (from VA) and Wade (from TX). I have no idea where either association comes from. Maybe Wade can offer an explanation.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I am a crossword clue in the most recent Simon & Schuster Mega Crossword Puzzle Book (#3). Puzzle 71, "Plane Speaking" - 28A: Crossword blogger Parker (Rex). I've known about this for almost a year (stupid publishing lag time!), so it's cool finally to see it in print. Thanks, John Samson.

73 comments:

Orange 9:31 AM  

I like POTASH because it's what the element potassium is named after—and I'm quite certain my grandma never knew that bit of etymology, but she pronounced it "poTASHyum" anyway.

My husband once ordered osso buco. It didn't digest well, so he called it "asso buco" the next day. If this tale has ruined that veal dish for any of you, then my work is done.

Rex Parker 9:36 AM  

"Breakfast test ... we don't need no stinkin' breakfast test" - thx, Orange.

rp

Frances 9:47 AM  

Crossword puzzles do expand one's vocabulary! Today's new word (for me) was PARTY FOUL. Selective demographics are clearly at work here. Never heard or read the term, and from what I gather from Google, I never want to. For those in the don't-go-out-in-public-without-hat-and-white-gloves generation, the following site (sorry, I don't know how to do links) gives an explanation:

http://homepages.ius.edu/JDREES/final/page1_jdrees.html

Margaret 9:48 AM  

I guess I haven't been getting the Urban Dictionary Word of the Day long enough because Party Foul was completely unknown to me. That's what happens when the kids leave the nest -- one's knowledge of contemporary slang and music drops off the map.

OK puzzle. Not nearly as fun as yesterday, though. Some fairly obscure pop culture w/ Larry Hagman, Rip Torn, and Tesses.

Q: if ITERATE means retell, does REITERATE mean to tell a third time?? or is it like flammable and inflammable where they mean the same thing?

ArtLvr 9:50 AM  

Good fun today... 44A TELLALL went well with 46D SNITCH, but it was confusing to have the latter clued as [Teller]!

Did I miss a Rex comment on VIAGRA?

The marchers, ANTS, was a hoot, especially with the progressive placement of ANT in each theme word. Missed seeing an ANTSY though, such a great word... Also, I don't remember seeing 51D SADD before, but I assume it's related to MADD?

@ acme -- thanks for the mention yesterday of my spotting STRIP in CLASSTRIP, though I was behind the times on the Disney musicals. Wow, you guys were chatting way into the wee hours last night!

∑;)

Norm 9:59 AM  

@artlvr: SADD = Students Against Destructive Decisions. Otiginally Students Against Driving Drunk.
Similar to but independent of MADD.

Can't agree with you about musicals, Rex. Phantom, to be sure, was a lousy show in my opinion. A musical without one song you leave the theater humming?!? But Les Miz never fails to thrill. I think you're doing yourself a disservice but writing off an entire genre.

Shamik 10:09 AM  

Very easy for a Thursday puzzle. And thank goodness for Rex, 'cause I completely missed that ANT moved to the right each time.

Now. POTASH. Here's the scenario. I'm ignoring my sis-in-law as I laugh at the computer screen. She asks what's so funny.

1. I have to explain that I do the NY Times puzzle every day. Geeky thing for her right from the start, so I don't tell her about all the rest of the puzzles I download.
2. Oh yeah, SIL, and then there's this blog I read every day about the puzzle.
3. And one more thing, a bunch of people who also read this blog then write comments about the blog.
4. No, I don't know who that woman is who is singing and why she's there. Oh yeah, it's about ENCHANT. Seeing her look, I decline to tell her about themes.
4. Then explain how the comments can sometimes pooh-pooh Rex's opinion vociferously.
5. Tell her just how funny this phrase is: "Oh, we use POTASH all the time. Why, just yesterday I was TARING some POTASH, when ..." etc. (She has a teenager, so knew "WTF.")

It's interesting to see how we can be viewed.

As for being over 50, I don't remember SPEEDEE. Had heard PARTYFOUL. Guess I'm not a total dinosaur!

jannieb 10:17 AM  

What an interesting puzzle! I'm over 50 but only remember Ronald McDonald ad the spokesclown. Never have heard of Party Foul but knew the Larry Hagman/Rip Torn/Tesses fill.

@Margaret - had the same thought about "iterate".

@Shamik - I've had the same sort of dialog with my husband re puzzling/blogging/commenting. Too funny!

And Rex, your redefinition of Potash will definitely join my vocabulary. Living in the land where old sofas make great porch furniture, it will get quite a workout. Thanks!!!

Opus2 10:18 AM  

I got all the french stuff, but got stumped (like lots of others, apparently) on SPEEDEE and PARTYFOUL, despite knowing POTASH and BEN Cartwright right away.

I thought it was interesting that this puzzle had HOS and SOHOS. I was expecting VERYHOS and EXTREMELYHOS.

And Rex, I'm thinkin' it's more Carly Simon who's tres hot.

Ulrich 10:20 AM  

@rex: Congratulations on the puzzle shout-out: You're now one of the xword immortals, I guess.

I always thought potash was some hallucinogenic (had to look this up) used by some Western tribes--thx for the clarification! And I believe "often" means "frequently", not "habitually"--big difference IMHO. Fun puzzle, though.

Crosscan 10:21 AM  

My fastest Thursday ever so I guess I should call it easy. POTASH, ETOILES and AVANT make it canadian friendly, I guess. I think Canada is the number one producer of POTASH.

There is some weird subtext to this puzzle. STEPFATHER, LARRY HAGMAN, VIAGRA, STEELE, FANTASY, BATSMEN, HOS - sounds like some kind of late night movie. But I won't SPECULATE further.

chefbea1 10:22 AM  

Easy puzzle for a thursday. I must admit that I didnt see the ants marching across either. Love Osso bucco. I would imagine they have it at Mario Batalli's newly opened restaurant. Cant wait to go

Wednesday Night 299ers 10:41 AM  

Rex, I say this with tongue firmly in cheek. Does your name in a crossword puzzle violate the NATICK principle?

sully 10:48 AM  

If you weren't anti-musical, POTASH might have been easier.

"I've given you potash / you've given me zip" -Little Shop of Horrors

I also only knew about the Mary Martin-Larry Hagman connection because of an obscure Forbidden Broadway lyric, but know I'm just telling you too much about myself.

dinsdale 10:48 AM  

49D - an ANT marching to his own drummer?

@chefbea1 thanks for the 'welcome' yesterday!

PhillySolver 10:49 AM  

I think POTASH was a musical before it was ever referred to white trash in a novel or a play.

From my Columbia Guide to Standard English...

"Commentators frequently argue in favor of a distinction that makes iterate mean “repeat” and reiterate mean “repeat again,” but most Standard users make no such distinction. Iterate is the rarer word, used primarily in scholarly and technical writing, where the distinction may indeed be in effect: The proof of the second example simply iterates the proof of the first. Reiterate is far more frequently used, and it usually means only “repeat,” whether once or many times: When she spoke again, she simply reiterated what she’d said once [many times] before. The one certain usage judgment: to reiterate again is unquestionably a tautology and must be avoided."

Two Ponies 10:53 AM  

Lots of fun stuff today.
Wow Rex, you've crossed the line into crosswordese! Congrats.
Party foul was new to me. With it being clued using Shindig I thought it was an old term.
Did not know J.R. Ewing was Peter Pan's son!
Count me in for the iterate-reiterate confusion.
Where I live we have a vintage McD's that still has Speedee on the sign complete with winking neon eye.
Rip Torn is such a great parody name for an actor. Reminded me of a brief appearance on the Flintstones by Dash Riprock.
Thank you so much Rex for the new word for white trash. Can't wait to use it!

dk 11:15 AM  

Speedee (aka Speedy) was also the mascot for Alka-Sletzer, something @orange's husband may need, and something many need after McDonalds.

There was also a character Redi-KiloWatt for the electric industry.

All were mascots for a time when fast and atomic were hip.

We need a mascot for the era of bankruptcy and I just know Acme has one.

Puzzle made it across the kitchen floor for me.

Congratulations Rex!

dk 11:18 AM  

Speedee in his presalad days (see blog picture)

Two Ponies 11:26 AM  

I think I have my old TV mixed up as Dash Riprock might have been Beverly Hillbillies. Not that it matters.
I do remember Redi Kilowatt.

Noam D. Elkies 11:32 AM  

Nice too that the ANTs march from columns 1-3 to 4-6 to 7-9 to 10-12 to 13-15, as in Stanley NewMAN's Tuesday puzzle early last month.

I liked 44A:PARTYFOUL too, though I didn't know the phrase.

To me 27D:TESSES crossing 38A:RLS was not painful but Natique -- Tesse who? Crossing a relatively rare monogram, it could have been Teske or maybe even Tesee for all I knew.

Why "for short" in the clue for 4A:OFT? It's a legitimate word in its own right, and indeed m-w.com reports that "often" originated as an alteration of "oft".

What happened to the obligatory Rex complaint about the odd job 17A:WEEPERS? Yes it had a cute clue, but still not an independent word for most people though m-w.com lists several meanings.

NDE

P.S. Congratulations on 28A!

Peter 11:56 AM  

Having some background in ceramics, I'm familiar with POTASH. However, seeing it spelled in that style on the dry mix container led me to pronounce it PO-tash - which I still do today.

Dan 12:02 PM  

The show is "Phantom of the Opera". Not "Phantom". Should have included a "for short".

Crosscan 12:04 PM  

@Dan: B'way instead of Broadway in the clue is a signal for a shortened version in the answer.

PuzzleGirl 12:04 PM  

I'm finally caught up! Just finished reading all the posts and their accompanying comments from Saturday through today. Don't have much to say about this puzzle, but just really wanted to jump in after being out of the loop for a few days.

I usually have a hard time with PB2 puzzles, so this was a nice change from that.

P.S. Late comment: Rex, I guess you don't feel the way Dana on Sports Night feels about "The Lion King."

gotcookies 12:12 PM  

Enjoyable puzzle. Was really hoping that SPEEDEE was Hamburglar.

Wade 12:19 PM  

Rex, the only things I can think of that Larry Hagman and I have in common are states of (i) origin and (ii) drunkenness. And we used to pretend we were astronauts. Well, I still do.

Rip Torn is from Texas.

foodie 12:25 PM  

I love the ANTS marching from left to right in two ways a) within each word as Rex noted and b) across the grid in a very systematic, non-overlapping way. I know I would have never noticed the construction if it were not for this blog. Thanks, Rex! And how cool is it to be the answer to a crossword clue!

Oh, and POTASH as new meaning-- I have a scientist friend who came to the US on sabbatical many years ago and noticed how heavy people had become, including some real obesity. She coined a term for obese people: Gumphee (hear it with a British accent), and then like any good scientist, devised a scale: Micro-gumphee, gumphee, macro grumphee and super macro-gumphee. We still use it and it's quite handy if you're in a judgy yet non-offensive mood.

Greene 12:31 PM  

@dan: The show is actually officially entitled "The Phantom of the Opera," but I cede your point. Most people just refer to the show as "Phantom" in much the same way that "Les Miserable" is referred to as "Le Miz." I've even seen promotional copy that just reads "Phantom." The implication seems to be that the show is so famous that it's become a brand name. I was going to mention the B'way abbreviation thing too, but faster typists have already weighed in on this.

@norm: I'm with you. The appeal of "The Phantom of the Opera" is a mystery to me. I think it has become one of those shows that you're supposed to like and no trip to NYC is complete without a trip to "Phantom" etc. Lloyd Webber is hard at work on a sequel. Uggh.

@sully: I smell a show-freak. Sadly, I know the lyric you quote and far too many like it.

@Rex: Too funny today. The whole "tare the potash" routine actually made me LOL.

And finally...the puzzle. I never thought I would be able to say this, but...pretty easy for a Thursday. Can it be that I'm actually getting better at these things?

mexgirl 12:55 PM  

Well, if I could finish the whole puzzle without any help, then it means it was too easy for a Thursday. (In any case, that's how I rate puzzles if you care to know what relatively new, ESL solvers think)

Didn't know that about Larry Hagman.
Didn't know that about Pelé.
Did see the ANTS marching.
Did know that about PHANTOM (my son has been begging me to take him and I'm running out of excuses...)
And definitely agree with Rex about yesterday's Lion King cluing (definitely a movie).

Question, is it the NYT puzzle the only one obsessed about musicals? How are these B'way continuous references perceived everywhere else?

In all, I liked this puzzle, and Rex, IWGA with your write-up.

Cheryl 1:02 PM  

I did laugh out loud (well, an audible snicker)at "Why, just yesterday I was TARING some POTASH..." and when asked by my co-workers to explain, could only muster "too long to explain". Shamik is clearly more ambitious and/or hopeful than I am.

@crosscan, I remember POTASH well from highschool geography

@opus2, very funny in re comparative HOsiery

Very nice dual marching theme, though I confess to seeing only the existence of the ants, and not their progression, until pointed out by Rex and Noam D. Elkies.

joho 1:06 PM  

This definitely seemed more a Wednesday than a Thursday. We seem to be off a day this week. Maybe tomorrow will be double difficult to make up for it.

That being said it was still a great really fun puzzle. Loved the marching ANTS. I vizualize them stepping to a show tune.

I have never heard of SPEEDEE just Speedy Alka Selzer. And I, too, was ignornant of PARTY FOUL until today.

I have great friends in San Luis OBISPO so was happy to see this word in the puzzle.

Rex, I can't believe you knew a whole year ahead about your becoming a puzzle answer ... congratulations!

dk 1:13 PM  

More enchantment:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_epCYlzTqOA

Sam 1:14 PM  

Fun puzzle, cute theme. I didn't get the ANT progression through the answers at first!

Potash: it's in my Miracle Gro garden fertilizer.

The "white trash" racial slur is funny!

fikink 1:27 PM  

Rex, I have asked many, since coming to this blog, "Is it true that Rex really 'doesn't like musicals'?"
Alas, it is true, I believe it, you have confirmed it - in writing no less.
Greene and I (and maybe, sully and norm?) are grateful that you allow us the intermittent reference to them, as long as we don't "overdo it" - a promise we have made. (greene, get that blog started!)
@phillsolver, thanks for the note on ITERATE; before reading it, I agreed with Margaret's take.
Interesting review today, Rex. I don't think I'll add to your new use of POTASH, but would like to point out that Sir Steele ended that excerpt with one of my favorite, hope to see soon, puzzle words: INSIPID.
@pete, I too knew potash from ceramics/glaze prep.

rafaelthatmf 1:42 PM  

Again I just can’t help myself: I want to be aloof and cold but then bam Rex tosses out Potash as a word for a toothless inbred with a bad haircut. I love it and have added it to my repertoire – I just hope I don’t have to explain the derivation – for reasons enumerated by shamik.
@norm – isn’t the Phantom really just a stalker that plays the organ? Wait that sounds pornographic!
We still have a Speedee in Green Bay. McDonalds actually brought suit against franchisee a number (a large number now that I think of it) of years ago to do away with the 'outdated logo' and lost. It remains with the previously mentioned neon eye.
I don’t get WEEPERS for Bawl club. Anyone? Anyone?

chefbea1 1:50 PM  

@rafaelthatmf a bawl club is for people who cry or weep. I guess if your ball club doesn't win you might cry, weep or bawl.

evil doug 1:52 PM  

Party foul---does the host get to shoot free throws?

Never heard of it, but then again I don't attend affairs on the Upper East Side, dahling. Spills at the blowouts I attend are more likely to engender massive sarcastically berating cheers rather than isolate the miscreant with noses held high and sniffs of superiority.

Pate made of dog food. Turds in the punchbowl. Pabst Blue Ribbon in bottles, and no coasters in sight. My kind of shindig.

Evil
Blue Collar, OH

mac 1:53 PM  

@rex: congratulations on the induction and a very funny write-up! Some good words and expressions to remember. Found the ants but not the precise order of them explained by you and Noam.

Party foul was new to me, as was Speedee. Really liked tell all and speculate, batsmen (leaving for London on Saturday) and enchant.

A mascot for these times? I guess a hobo was done last century... What is a contemporary hobo? Acme?

@shamik: I've run into the same thing. Nobody gets it.... It's so strange that I know only a few people who do crosswords.

mexgirl 2:12 PM  

I also wanted to mention that whenever I see a clue for San Luis I immediately think of SAN LUIS POTOSI, a very picturesque central state of Mexico.

Anonymous 2:46 PM  

It is well known that as the week goes on the NY Times puzzle become much trickier, but seeing #44 across, made the grueling task of solving todays puzzle worth the headache. I, if you can't tell, am a newbie in the world of crosswords, and hope to see more fun questions such as PARTY FOUL and FANTASY.

andrea carla michaels 2:59 PM  

@fikink
It should come as no surprise to you about 98% of straight men not liking musicals...(the 2% exceptions almost entirely made up of older Italian and Jewish men of a certain era, and, um, Patrick!)

(Feel free to start the protests that include your Irish uncle who was straight as straight can be...)

@rex
I continue my totally unbiased insistence that the genius wot is Patrick Blindauer be paid attention, what with the five clues exactly spaced, plus the one letter shift, plus the tie in with ANTS marching...

(That Monday dollar puzzle continues to dazzle me every time I think about it!)

AND WILD KUDOS about becoming a crossword answer!!!!!!!!!!!!

As for the genius that is the "eerily teen-aged voiced" Melanie Griffith (?!?), I would love to give a shout out to my oldest friend from college, Amy Aquino, who plays Tess' (Is that right? Tess's?) new secretary at the end of the film, only to be mistaken as her new boss!
Amy's been in dozens of films/TV shows, but I think that last scene in "Working Girl" is her most memorable scene (unless you count beating up Raymond as the mean girlscout leader on "Everybody Loves Raymond"!)

JoefromMtVernon 3:10 PM  

Again, I get to the puzzle late:

My 1st impulse for speedee was alka seltzer; but, speedee is the spelling for McD's, while speedy was for alka seltzer.

I once gave an oral report in physiology on a book that was filled with the word potash. Ah, those college days and nights.

Since my knowledge of french is limited to oui, I finished with etailes/ossa. otherwise, a real fast time today and a continual time improvement from Tuesday to Thursday, which has never happened before. Makes up for the "ugh" of last week.

Joe

miriam b 3:13 PM  

My #2 daughter, whose double major at college was Russian and economics. had a Polish classmate (still a friend) who also spoke Russian. They conferred a new meaning on the Russian word for string bean, фасоль (fasol, long o, accent on second syllable). They used it to describe an offensive person. Hint: f------- asole. Sometimes they would use "bean" as a code word. Some of the targets of their derision may have been POTASHes.

aunthattie 5:16 PM  

All I can say about this puzzle is that I will NEVER NEVER NEVER believe that Pele had anything EVER to do with advertising Viagra. I refuse to write it in!!!

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

I generally like to post early in the day, but the write up was not there when my handlers came to present my new wardrobe --- $14.00 or so at the Dollar $tore.

Included a T-shirt with the imprint "I fought the Rex but the Rex won."

Maybe it refers to dinosaurs (i.e. over 50) that [don't] remember Speedee.

Us old timers sometime remember DDE, REO's, Bee's Knee's & Beowulf, tho not always as contemporaries.

Handlers have indicated I may soon be able to register, thus not keep showing up as one of them there anonomices, but until then, I'll just have to continue *Baiting the Bear* as:

.../Glitch

steve l 6:14 PM  

I haven't jumped in yet today, so here goes. Never heard of PARTY FOUL before today, but that doesn't mean it isn't legit. However, it seems a little lowbrow for the NYT. But since it's in there, why not clue 1A as girls you might find at a wild party? Someone said RLS was a somewhat obscure monogram. Robert Louis Stevenson is obscure? Hmmph. You gotta know him, TSE, TAE, and a coupla others. I really didn't think anything was that obscure at all in this puzzle. I worked for Mickey D's as a kid, before the name Mickey D was invented. It was well past the time of the SPEEDEE Service System (McDonald's assembly line burgers were revolutionary for their time), but I knew that one right off. You don't have to know a lot of French to know ETOILES if you've been to Paris. The main traffic circle on the Champs-Elysees from which all major streets emanate in all directions is called L'ETOILE (The Star). Again, it comes down to how well-read and what life experiences you have had. For this puzzle, the only life experience that I was lacking was that of sophomoric parties in the 90s.

fikink 6:29 PM  

@acme, you are correct in adding that men "of a certain age" don't see musicals as a litmus test for their masculinity. Thankfully, I married one. Recently a fairly enlightened 20-something male told me guys majoring in theater are just assumed to be gay. Really? Somebody should tell John Lithgow.
...which reminds me of the very embarrassing time in grad school when I turned the corner and found some of my peers smoking in the designated "breezeway" between classes. I referred to it as a "fag break" without registering that they were all male and NOBODY calls cigarettes "fags" anymore.
(They took it well.)

foodie 6:39 PM  

This the day of ANTS in the NYTimes. In the section called "Circuits", there is an interview with E.O. Wilson, father of sociobiology, talking about his project "The Encyclopedia of Life". In discussing his pet project within that, called "the Global Ant Project", he says:

"In many environments, take away the ants and there would be partial collapses in many of the land ecosystems. Take away humans, and everything would come back and flourish."

But do ants construct puzzles with "human" marching down, down, down, and out?

Wade 6:42 PM  

Fikink, John Lithgow? That's the best you got?

Rex Parker 6:45 PM  

Oh, fikink, saying "Lithgow" to Andrea is like ... well, I'll just wait to see what happens.

Andrea? Anything you want to share?

RP

Catherine K 6:54 PM  

I thought the crossword got off to an excellent start when the very first answer was HOS.

I really like the new use of the word POTASH, but I think it would be somehow more effective if it were pronounced like POE-tash. Probably because "poor" is often pronounced "po". "That is one poe-tash front yard!" Yup. I like it.

Sorry @aunthattie: Pele was signed with Pfizer to be the spokesperson for Viagra in 2005. The TV campaign was short-lived though: Brazil pulled the ads off the air after the Government became alarmed by a sharp increase in illicit use of anti-impotence drugs by young people. Young guys using Viagra. Yeah, that's smart.

Your comment actually reminded me of my mother's reaction when she heard that Rock Hudson was gay: "He IS NOT!"

I thought Osso Bucco was made with lamb, not veal. Anyone?

Norm 7:22 PM  

@miriamb: I love "fasol" and plan to adopt it immediately. My daughter's term of art for such creatures is "ass hat" which is also somewhat rewarding to say, butnot as covert.

fikink 7:35 PM  

YOWSA! I am dying to hear Andrea's story! Am I all wet? (no pun intended)
I wanted to say Len Cariou but could not confirm he is straight...Andrea talk to me!
What a hoot!
And today I learned that Ralph Lauren is really Ralph Lifshitz! I am lovin' it in the context of Eliza Doolittle Palin!

thebubbreport 7:37 PM  

I'd like to see HOS clued with a reference to Snoop Doggy Dogg.

@Shamik, you had me chuckling with your comments about explaining to your SIL. My blog habit here is still in the closet.

I loved the TESSES clue. A refreshing change from something involving D'Urbervilles. I had flashes of women in suits, stockings, ankle socks and sneakers taking the Staten Island Ferry, and Carly Simon "Let the River Run" going through my head. Though soon after, DMB's "Ant's Marching" starts going through my head. I didn't even understand how it was marching through the words until I read Rex.

RE: PARTYFOUL: I think of teenager movie lingo regarding keggers or high school kids whose parents are out of town. The PARTYFOUL might be, I don't know, not holding your friend's hair back while she vomits. I don't think it's an upper crust reference; it's more "American Pie" (the movie, not the MCLEAN song).

RE: ITERATE. When I was in architecture school, the instructors had this horrible way of misusing words, for example, saying "urbane" when they meant "urban." They used to say things like "Try a few different ITERATIONS of this idea." In their context, iterate would be to re-tell the story with a new twist in it, whereas REITERATE would mean to simply retell the same story. A lot of them were total windbags. I call this way of speaking "ARCHISPEAK."

This also reminds me of a word I would have to take out of all of my boss's letters in the Boston area: IRREGARDLESS! You would not believe how many people in Boston use that word. He'd swear it was a word, and then I'd ask him what he thought irregardless meant that regardless didn't. Unfortunately, I have noticed that word has been added to dictionaries lately. Ugh.

The RIPTORN clue makes me miss one of my all-time favorite shows, "The Larry Sanders Show." Torn's character Artie stole the show every week.

Is WEEPERS like a sad version of HOOTERS? I don't get how it's a club either. We do have a strip club here in ATL called TATTLETALES, made famous by Motley Crue. Somehow I don't think WEEPERS would draw in as many dudes with singles. OK, last night's insomnia is very apparent through my comments. I'm going to top blabbering!

becky

Michael 8:02 PM  

I've never heard anyone say iterate except perhaps in the technical sense of "iteration."

completely irrelevant digression -- I was eavesdropping at a bookstore cafe the other day, and a one of a group of biologists actually said aloud the word "moreover." A first for me in informal conversation, I think.

off to watch the Phillies in the World Series - this doesn't happen often for phans...

chefbea1 8:02 PM  

@catherinek osso bucco is made with veal shanks

@fiknik Ralph Lauren's name is Ralph Lipschitz.. does that pass the breakfast test???

miriam b 8:13 PM  

@norm: Glad you like it. When describing a group of these types, you could call them fasoli, which is the correct Russian plural. BTW, I'm pretty sure this is a borrowed word; the root goes back to the botanical name. The more general Russian word for bean is "bob." I'm endlessly fascinated by the linguistic connections among culinary terms. For instance:

Beans: Russian fasoli, Italian fagioli. And don't forget the dialect word fazool!

Bean (general): Russian bob, Hungarian bab.

Eggplant: Russian baklazhan, Urdu baingan.

Potato: Russian kartoshka, German Kartoffel.

andrea carla michaels 8:38 PM  

@Fikink, rex

I hate to take away ANY attention from Patrick, esp on the day of this brilliant ANT puzzle...

Well, OK, I'll bite!
(I WAS saving it for the next time I guest-blogged and had even the wispiest of excuses to bring it up!
Or, better, perhaps save it for my upcoming One Woman show, tentatively titled "Name Dropper" where audience members shout out "Woody Allen!" "Paul Newman!" "John Lithgow!" "28Across ___ Parker!") and I go into a fond memory and/or mild-amusing rant)

Seriously, the story is WAY too long (I performed it as a 20 minute storytelling routine till quite recently when it became clear litigation (Lith-gow-ation?) might potentially become involved.

(Wade, know any good lawyers?)

Suffice to say, nothing to do with his sexuality, but to make a LONG story short, we were once partners in a game of Scattergories and he CHEATED!!!!!!

I carried this as a semi-repressed memory for years...partially because games are my life, I didn't speak up at the time, just sat there maniacally laughing ike Mary Tyler Moore at a funeral...and wasn't even sure what had happened had happened...
I mean, for chrissakes, it was John Lithgow...
I harbored many many feelings, shall we say, about this for many years and decided to confront him 15+ years later at my 25th reunion when he was inexplicably the keynote speaker...and I was accidentally on the dais behind him.
(I told you, it's a LONG story!)

Bottomline, I lost my nerve.

Months later, I was at the NY Scrabble club playing with a borrowed clock that had LITHGOW in big, block letters on it...
Turns out his ex-wife had donated the clock and by bizarre coincidence, she was there and I decided to ask her about the "incident".
I mentioned casually that I had been his partner at a dinner party years ago (with his then second wife) and we were playing Scattergories and...
before I could get another word out, she blurted "And he cheated, didn't he?"
She then went on to not-so-gently expound on his being a sociopathological liar!*

(Really, a much funnier story in real life).

*Disclaimer: the previous story is only loosely based on living characters whose names may or may not have been left intact to expose the guilty. The last sentence is based purely on hearsay of an embittered third party (to say the least).

(Suffice to say I got closure) ;)

PuzzleGirl 8:43 PM  

OMG. Andrea, you're killing me here. I'll campout overnight to pay an obscenely high price for tickets to your one-woman show. Who's with me?

Wade 8:58 PM  

Andrea can't do a "one woman" show. She is large; she contains multitudes.

fikink 9:00 PM  

@OMG, Andrea, that is acid-gleefully funny!
It reminds me of the time when Bob Dylan, who, after he wrote Love Minus Zero No Limit for me, recorded a Pepsi commercial. I was demolished!
I never confronted him.

Orange 9:12 PM  

Andrea, I loathe people who cheat at games. But Amy Aquino kicked some serious/funny ass on Everybody Loves Raymond—she does menacing well.

My brother-in-law performs in musicals at the community theater level, and plays in the orchestra when he's not on stage. Astonishingly, he seems a little homophobic.

chefbea1 9:15 PM  

I'm in. lets all go to Andrea's show.

Crosscan 9:38 PM  

I now understand the balance of the universe. My life is boring to make up for Andrea's incredible adventures.

Did I mention Canada is the top producer of POTASH?

mac 11:05 PM  

@crosscan: you also seem to be pretty good at Labradorite.

@andrea: I'm also in. Where is this happening? Haven't been to San Francisco for a couple of years. Used to go there a lot when we lived in Boise.

@foodie: love your E.O. Wilson quote!

@catherine k: yes, Osso Bucco is made with veal. A good trick: use the Marcella Hazan recipe and double everything except for the meat. You can have a fabulous pasta course to start and serve the veal with a vegetable.

@wade: you can never call a woman
large. Ask your wife. A good alternative is voluptuous.

@fikink: Bob wrote that for you?

For those of you who were drooling for the ripe pears, stilton and dark chocolate, we had a mishap.
The Husband came home and decided to eat a whole, large, perfectly ripe pear after lunch, thus destroying the symmetry of my dessert plan. A green apple had to take its place.....

andrea carla michaels 11:48 PM  

@chefbea, Puzzlegirl, mac
um, I was kidding about the show...
I mean, this IS Rex's one-man show! He just lets me hijack it from time to time while I work on a concept for a hobo logo...
(altho maybe I COULD make it into a musical and take it to B'dway, and, and...
nah, who would go see it!?)

@Orange
Yes, ain't Amy A. great? (Nice first name too!)
Recently she guest-starred on a show with...John Lithgow! The whole time she was thinking about me and my story, but never said a word to him!

And one night I was telling the story (on stage in LA) and a guy came up to me afterwards and said "I had no idea my uncle was such a cheater" and then held out his hand and introduced himself as "Peter Lithgow".

(He was kidding)


Community theater is a whole 'nother game...lots of closets and homophobia out there! Thus fabulous films like Guffman with whatshisface Guest who is "married" to Jamie Lee...ok enuf.

For the record, lest people misread me as casting aspersions, I think of myself as as a gay man trapped in a straight woman's body who doesn't like musicals, except "Camelot".
:)

And now for some further clarification on the "alleged" cheating thing:

"Tom" Lithgow and I were chatting (can you imagine? Me chatting while playing a word game? We had 100 things in common including our birthdays, our dorm in college, etc.) and so time ran out and we left an answer or two blank.
(You know, if someone else has your answer you have to cross out
yours, like in Boggle)

Well! We had nothing for "Something in the kitchen than starts with M".
First couple says, "Microwave". Second couple says, "Mixer" and John (oops, I mean "Tom") says, "Oh we had that!"
and proceeds to cross out our "answer" (which had been blank, for those of you still following this story!).

I sat there stunned for about 3 minutes, waiting for him to say he was just kidding...and when I realized he wasn't going to say anything, I thought, am I supposed to say something?!! If I don't say something, am I cheating?
Plus it's John (I mean "Tom") Fasole Lithgow!

The world began to spin and I began to laugh uncontrollably...
People kept asking what was so funny.
I managed to choke out the word "Potash"...

The rest of the evening, I swear, is a total black out...I don't even remember how I got home!

This was pre-"Third Rock" days, but he was a FAMOUS BROADWAY STAR/HARVARD GRAD of unclear sexuality! And my evening game partner!!!!!!!
For the next fifteen years, whenever his name would come up (and you'd be surprised how much it does, even when NOT prompted by me! ;)) I would scream out "He CHEATED at Scattergories!!!!!!!"


So then fade to 15 years later, when I go to my college reunion and the first night, someone casually mentions, "You know, John Lithgow is the commencement speaker tomorrow"
(Normally, they have Mother Teresa, or Boutros Boutros Galli...but the class of '05 had Mr. Lithgow, who had CHEATED AT SCATTERGORIES!)
and I become crazily determined to meet him and confront him and find out what really happened that night!

ok, ok, you are apparently going to get the whole story out of me piecemally (is that a word?)
Apparently some of us have not quite had the closure we thought we had had...

miriam b 12:08 AM  

@andrea: Shouldn't my daughter and her friend be receiving residuals, or at least recognition, when the word "fasol"© is used? And what happens if you use it to name something? Something musical, perhaps? Fa Sol?

Worrying about the election has deprived me of sleep and made me flaky.

mac 12:08 AM  

Andrea, I cannot go to sleep tonight without the end to your story.... Actually, I probably will. Tom was just on the View and talked about his grandchildren. Lovely. He is too good to be true.
So where do we get to see you perform?

foodie 12:50 AM  

@Andrea, a long long time ago, when I was a little girl living on the other side of the world, I would watch American TV in total wonderment-- my English being sketchy and the translation in the subtitles lacking, the whole thing had this dreamlike feeling- sometimes confusing, sometimes amazing, totally immersing,the opposite of my reality. Tonight, you have recreated all that for me. I still feel like I want to go there and see if I can be part of it, but hope not to ruin it in the process.

fergus 1:57 AM  

For the record, I just did this puzzle in, what, fifteen minutes, rather quite inebriated, after a long school day and a business party of the land use partisans in Santa Cruz County. Mind exhausted, yet maybe stimulated -- the Clues like Wednesday seemed a walk in the park, and that's OK by me. On Saturday, when I have nothing else to do in the morning, I hope to find some confrontation.

fergus 3:09 AM  

And after reading more closely the posts above, I'm all fired up to enter into a cut-throat friendly game with Andrea's crowd. Letters, cards, or numbers (but pray, no Sudoku), and we're on.

docruth 1:01 PM  

Is APPAL a legitimate "VAR"? I don't feel like looking it up but was disappointed that nobody commented on this. Oh well.

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