Rocker Ocasek — TUESDAY, Jun. 16 2009 — Swingline item / Liquid diet devotee / Routine-bound bureaucrat / Petal plucker's pronoun
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: PERP walk — letter string "PERP" is "walking" through (i.e. embedded in) five theme answers; theme is revealed at 47D: Those "walking" through the answers to the starred clues (PERPS)
Word of the Day: PARIAH (43D: Persona non grata) — n.
- A social outcast: “Shortly Tom came upon the juvenile pariah of the village, Huckleberry Finn, son of the town drunkard” (Mark Twain).
- An Untouchable.
[Tamil paraiyar, pl. of paraiyan, pariah caste, from parai, festival drum.]
WORD HISTORY The word pariah, which can be used for anyone who is a social outcast, independent of social position, recalls a much more rigid social system, which made only certain people pariahs. The caste system of India placed pariahs, also known as Untouchables, very low in society. The word pariah, which we have extended in meaning, came into English from Tamil paraiyar, the plural of paraiyan, the caste name, which literally means “(hereditary) drummer” and comes from the word parai, the name of a drum used at certain festivals. The word is first recorded in English in 1613. Its use in English and its extension in meaning probably owe much to the long period of British rule in India. (answers.com)The Puzzle: I guess these PERPs are "walking" if you consider the grid one of those "Family Circus" cartoons where Barfy or Not Me makes a dotted line around the house or neighborhood and can be seen in many different places within the single panel. Only, no, because in that case, the dotted line actually signifies walking. Here, PERP simply materializes. Five times (six if you count the theme-revealer). But the idea of imagining the grid as a kind of journey has some precedence, so, fine, if you insist, the PERPS are "walking." I won't ARGUE (35D: Debate the pros and cons).
- 17A: *Impervious to picking, as a lock (tam PERP roof)
- 25A: *Engraver's surace (cop PERP late)
- 36A: *Motto of the U.S. Coast Guard ("Sem PERP aratus") — "Always Ready"; I did Not know this, which slowed me down in an otherwise easy puzzle.
- 47A: *Routine-bound bureaucrat (pa PERP usher)
- 57A: *Countries with big militaries (Su PERP owers)
Started off not so great — RST = booooo! (1D: Q-U connection) — but it got better. I like (now that I see it), the fact that RST is echoed symmetrically in the SE by the next alphabetical letter string up: STU (60D: "The _____ Erwin Show" of 1950s TV). Coincidence of the day was ALCOTT (12D: "Little Women"), as the Charles Ives piano sonata movement I featured yesterday was subtitled "The ALCOTTs." Wife is a big ALCOTT reader. Or was at one point in her life. She knows all about Jo and Laurie and them, is what I'm saying.
- 23A: "Liquid diet" devotee (sot) — I thought for sure this would be some faddish shake diet or something. But, no, just the lovable town SOT, who refuses to DRY OUT (46D: Recover from a soaking) after all these years. The real theme of this puzzle is, perhaps, OTIS, the Mayberry town drunk who keeps getting thrown in jail so that he can DRY OUT (temporarily). Andy doesn't really arrest him though, so he's not a PERP ... and he stumbles more than he walks, truth be told.
- 30A: Superlative suffix (-iest) — [winces]
- 56A: Rocker Ocasek (Ric) — I've had "The Cars" (1978) on heavy rotation this spring. A great pop rock album. RIC is the singer on this one...
- 64A: Petal plucker's pronoun (she) — cute.
- 66A: Compliment heard in the dress department ("it's you!") — possibly my favorite answer in the grid.
- 3D: Camp clothing identifier (name tape) — possibly my least favorite, though I see it has currency in camp and military situations. I didn't know that such tape had an official name. I thought TAPE was just one of many impromptu labeling strategies parents might use.
- 13D: It's darker than cream (beige) — and nearly every other color in existence. Hosiery!
- 26D: Hall's singing partner (Oates) — back to 9th grade with this ... well, I don't even know how to describe this video. Looks like it was filmed on the set of a prehistoric game show ...
- 48D: YouTube button (pause) — you are forgiven if you hit PAUSE early on that last one.
- 51A: Online communications, for short (IMs) — do people do this anymore. I thought it was all text and tweets. Speaking of tweets, here are some Crossword Tweets picked up randomly off of Twitter yesterday and today (you can search any term and see what people are saying about it in (virtually) real time, all over the world).
- Twelebrity09 Crossword question 8 Down (6).... Country bordering Iraq.... Fucked?
- axisofphilippe The only reason the Monday crossword exists is to make us normal folk feel smart. If this puzzle were in school it would take the short bus.
- mandinkapants coffee. crossword. yep. i'm 40.
- servo3000 Entire bar at Cider House is doing a crossword together. I love this place.
- JusREEnoMAS @LnGLeGBeauTee doing a crossword puzzle waiting for my cuz to brang back the fish, ninjas hungry.. What crackulatin baby? [ed.: this one is my favorite]
- atmarosi http://twitpic.com/7h8ey - the bus driver is seriously doing a crossword puzzle - on the job...only in paris
- celro just saw a transvestite smoking weed on the curb with a cop sitting on the corner doing a crossword puzzle. i love this city :)
If you are at all Twitter-inclined, you are cordially invited to "Follow" me (rexparker).
Lastly, thanks to Grant Barrett of the public radio program "A Way With Words" for plugging this site (via the web and ... Twitter!). "A Way With Words" is a radio program all about the English language, and is very much worth checking out. You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes (as I did), listen on an actual radio (check local listings), or listen from the website, here.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld