Historic racetrack site — WEDNESDAY, Nov. 18 2009 — Eau de vie from Gascony / Vintage synthetic fabric / Indoor dipole antenna colloquially

Wednesday, November 18, 2009




Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: JACKS TO OPEN (60A: Five-card draw variation ... or a hint to 17-, 30-, 36- and 44-Across) — opening words of theme answers can be preceded by JACK in common phrases

Word of the Day: HIALEAH (2D: Historic racetrack site) — The Hialeah Park Race Track (also known as the Miami Jockey Club or Hialeah Race Track or Hialeah Park) is a historic site in Hialeah, Florida. It is located at East 4th Avenue. On March 5, 1979, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Another listing for it was added in 1988. [...] The Hialeah Park Race Track is one of the oldest existing recreational facilities in southern Florida. [...] The park became so famous for its flocks of flamingos that it has been officially designated a sanctuary for the American Flamingo by the Audubon Society. [...] Hialeah Park Racetrack was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 2, 1979. On January 12, 1988, the property was determined eligible for designation as a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior. Owner John Brunetti closed Hialeah Park to the public in 2001. [...] The track is scheduled to reopen on November 28, 2009.

-----

Pretty easy breezy puzzle for a Wednesday except HOLY COW that NW corner. I have never heard of either of the long Downs. HIALEAH looked all kinds of wrong when it finally came together (every letter from a cross, absolutely no way of inferring any part of it), and ARMAGNAC (3D: Eau de vie from Gascony) looked only slightly more valid, but both held up when I hit the "DONE" key (played "Against the Clock" at the NYT site last night, which I normally don't do). That's a lot of adjoining mystery real estate for one little section of a Wednesday puzzle. Thankfully, it was the only really challenging part of the puzzle for me. The equally mysterious ARNEL (40A: Vintage synthetic fabric) held me up a bit in the middle there (though I have at least seen that answer before), I couldn't pick up the front end of HOT WAR without crosses (6D: Korean conflict, for one), and I had some reluctance accepting DITTY as an answer for 69A: "Mary Had a Little Lamb," e.g., but the NE and SW corners went down in about ten seconds a piece, and everything else came together without too much crying and gnashing of teeth. Just under 5 on a Wednesday is not half bad for me.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Olympic track-and-field event (HAMMER throw)
  • 30A: Play and film about a noted 1977 series of interviews ("FROST / Nixon")
  • 36A: Loosely woven cotton fabric (CHEESE cloth) — I had some issues getting the front end of this answer, which happens to parallel the sounds-like-a-50s-waitress-name ARNEL
  • 44A: Indoor dipole antenna, colloquially (RABBIT ears)

Other possibilities: SHIT head, SQUAT thrusts, BLACK magic, etc.



Bullets:

  • 24A: Beast in an Ogden Nash poem (llama) — this damned poem gets more play in the crossword than any other except maybe "I, TOO." A bit tiresome / dated at this point (though approved — over the Scott Turow book — for cluing ONEL).
  • 27A: Roasted, in Rouen (roti) — I think of this word as Indian, but had no trouble guessing it anyway.
  • 54A: World of espionage (spydom) — read this as [Word of espionage] and *still* got it.
  • 57A: Causes of some untimely ends (nooses) — grim. I was looking for wordplay or something here to pull it out of the execution / suicide category. But no.
  • 67A: Palacio resident (rey) — Spanish for "king." Never saw it, since those Downs went down so fast down there. The only one I balked at for even a second was BOY TOY — and that's the best one of all (46D: Young stud).
  • 18D: Massage deeply (rolf) — have I said this is one of the ugliest words in the English language? It is. Sounds more like a barfing sound than a massage.
  • 25D: 1903-04 cars sold only in red (Model As) — woo hoo, good guess. I know nothing about old cars, but I figured those cars were So old they must be a MODEL ... something. T was later, so ... first letter of alphabet!? Yes.
  • 29D: Washington Irving's Crane (Ichabod) — great answer I don't remember seeing before.
  • 62D: Mauna _____ (Kea) — still holding out for the New Zealand parrot as a clue for this answer. I'm on a one-man mission to make KEA (the parrot) a common crossword clue. Vote KEA!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

100 comments:

Leslie 7:21 AM  

Rex, you made me laugh with your other "Jacks to open" suggestion!

Loved the BOYTOY answer.

No time to google--were Model As built for fire departments or something?? I was certain that way back then, ALL the cars were black, no exception.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

This one was a gimme, or tap in for me. Great puzzle. Never ever heard of armagnac. Off to golf. Golfballman

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Model A's were indeed sold in the buyers choice of colors, as long as it was BLACK. bummer!

Alex 8:09 AM  

Never heard (or, more likely, never let the name stick in my brain because I've never taken an antacid so Rolaids and Tums are about all I can think of) of MAALOX so that first A was a complete guess as I also didn't know AIT.

Put in HOUSECAT instead of HOUSEPET. Combine that with an unnoticed typo in RANSOM (I had RANNOM) and my SE had a lot of trouble coming together.

Hangman 8:19 AM  

I've always thought of NOOSES as providing timely ends. The crack of dawn, High Noon, etc. Precise, pre-determined. Timely!

mac 8:34 AM  

Nice puzzle, where my biggest surprise and LOL was with the Maalox moment!

Had a temporary glitch when I thought the Korean conflict was just a lot of "hot air". I also never heard of the term "Jacks to open", but I'm not a cardplayer.

Mmmmmm, Armagnac! For some reason I thought eau de vie was a clear liquid.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Eau de vie is just slang for any hooch (look up the derivation of the word "whisky".) Armagnac is a brandy, like Cognac, but from Armagnac, not Cognac. ARFEL/EFT was bullshit, but everything else about the puzzle was solid.

treedweller 8:45 AM  

I had to google the racetrack and the eau. Tried "may I" for CANI and that threw me off PCS/PEG. The rest went quickly.

Lots of things I might complain about on a different day (looking at you, OMOO), but somehow I liked this one. I think the fresh theme answers did it for me (I won't go to the database to check--I hope they haven't all been done to death).

Was BOYTOY a shout-out to a certain Rexite we all know and love?

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

@Anon 8:43 ARFEL/EFT was wrong, not bullshit.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

@anon 8:43
that's ARNEL/ENT. I leave it to you to decide if that's any better.

Smitty 8:58 AM  

Thanks for the write up on Hialeah. It's reopening as a quarter horse (as opposed to thoroughbred) track because the license was easier to get.
Perhaps someday thoroughbreds will race there again.

dk 9:06 AM  

SHARP, BOYTOY, AURA, SEX, HOUSEPET? There is more to this puzzle than meets the eye.

I am sure it is just a function of my flirtation with SPYDOM but I don't think you need RABBITEARS to pick up on the signals being sent to a certain blogmiester.

This little DITTY confirms my love of Wednesday:

**** (4 Stars)

Thanks Paula

Sara 9:10 AM  

Yuck, ROLF is definitely ugly, but I prefer to think of it as an ugly last name (Ida ROLF), rather than anything English. My own last name means something quite lovely in German but is really unattractive in English.

PlantieBea 9:11 AM  

Funny writeup and I agree about the word ROLF. My only struggle was in the SE where I had HOUSECAT instead of PET. Never heard of Jacks TO OPEN, but figuring out what the themed answers had in common were key to fixing my house CAT/PET problem for completion.

Favorites include FROST NIXON (liked the movie), ARMAGNAC, AMPERE (in full!), MAALOX, and PRELL.

Meg 9:13 AM  

My only complaint was "no later than" for TIL.

1. I'll be there til 3:00.
2. I'll be there no later than 3:00.
3. I won't be there til 3:00.
4. I won't be there no later than 3:00.

2 and 4 are clear. 1 is unclear and 4 is insane.

I think PRELL was the shampoo with the pearl in it because really thick green shampoo is just better than that thin Breck stuff.

As the earthworm said in "James and the Giant Peach", "It's not dirt, but it's not bad."

william e emba 9:16 AM  

Rex, you ought to read more Florida mystery fiction. It's how I got HIALEAH.

I was headed to a record Wednesday time, but I was stymied by the the last letter of JACKSTOOPE-. The cross was -AY, a "Roll call response". Someone who is there responds affirmatively. Someone who is not there, does not respond at all! So I dismissed NAY, went through the alphabet twice, and then decided to figure out what the theme actually was. I saw JACK fit in front, so what was JACK STOOPE-? Then I tried JACKS TOOPE-? Then JACKS TOO PE-? Finally, JACKS TO OPE-!

Ridiculous and unnecessary.

Ironically enough, I once worked for a trading firm that encouraged poker play, held an annual company tournament (winner sent to the WSOP), and my office mate was a former WSOP champion. But personally I prefer bridge and hearts, and never learned the lingo.

Abide 9:17 AM  

I have played a lot of poker, and "Jacks to open" was only vaguely familiar. The more common name is "Jacks or better" which wins 500,000 to 800 in a Googlefight.

HudsonHawk 9:27 AM  

My neighborhood Malaysian restaurant has delicious ROTI CANaI. Given that those were consecutive clues, I wonder if Paula was hungry when she put together the grid.

For me, the NE was the rough spot, but a good puzzle, all in all. I figured the opening SHARP was a shout out to Rex.

I'm with Abide: we usually play "Jacks or better, trips to win".

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

@ emba
maybe you figured this out, but the roll call in question is not an attendance check, but rather a parliamentary vote.

Elaine 9:34 AM  

Some folks just need to get out more! HIALEAH is pretty famous as a destination for tourists and Miami residents alike; ARMAGNAC is pretty tasty; and Julia Child's _Mastering the Art of French Cooking_ is full of dishes ROTI, all worth making.

On the other hand, I had never heard of a MODELA automobile (Moe_DELL-uh) and got a good laugh at my own expense.

I tried NINON for the vintage synthetic first...ICHABOD saved me.
Fun, quick puzzle! Nothing to JACK the solvers around, you know.
Thanks, Rex n Paula.

Norm 9:35 AM  

As I recall, D'Artagnan was born in Armagnac or the musketeers drank a lot of it or something like that, so reading Dumas was not a waste of time after all.

Parshutr 9:45 AM  

It was the T Model Ford that came only in black.
The rest of the phrase "Jacks to Open" is "Trips to Win", i.e. you have to have at least a pair of Jacks, but if the high hand is less than three of a kind, you deal again to all the players who have stayed in the game. This keeps people playing (and contributing to the pot) even when that have Jack Squat.

darkman 9:47 AM  

There he goes again! Not this time! I looked it up and USH is a word, even in my ancient (and beloved--slightly fusty on India paper) dictionary. I'm thinking of replacing it with something more, shall we say, of the era. (Subsidiarily, USH also means "to clean out a room; to expel.")

A fun puzzle, on the easy side of easy.

Parshutr 9:47 AM  

oops, that should have ended "even when THEY have Jack Squat."

Frances 10:06 AM  

I was so confident of "calvados" for the 3-down eau-de-vie clue that the NW corner remained otherwise blank for far longer than it should have. Eventually I had to erase and start the corner over from scratch. A sounder knowledge of French geography would have been useful: calvados comes from Normandy (NORTH-East corner of the country) whereas Gascony is in the SOUTH-east corner.

Glitch 10:07 AM  

The Model A in the answer is probably not the one you were assuming (but is correct):

The original Ford Model A was the first car produced by Ford Motor Company, beginning production in 1903. Dr. Ernst Pfenning of Chicago, Illinois became the first owner of a Model A on July 23, 1903. 1,750 cars were made from 1903 through 1904.... The Model A was sold only in red by the factory, though some were later re-painted in other colors.

There were several cars produced or prototyped by Henry Ford from the founding of the company in 1903 until the Model T came along. Although he started with the Model A, there were not 19 production models (A through T); some were only prototypes.

1908 - 1928 Model T, first mass produced automobile, available in 4 colors until 1914, then only black until 1925.

1928 - The (new / second) Model A introduced, available in several colors.

.../Glitch

Bob Kerfuffle 10:08 AM  

I "knew" HIALEAH and ARMAGNAC, but I couldn't spell them, so I finished my pen and paper puzzle with a bit of a mess in the NW, wondering why PMS were desk toppers!

Otherwise, definitely an above-average puzzle. My first fill was FROSTNIXON , and I wondered if the theme answer was going to be "Liar's Poker."

OldCarFudd 10:08 AM  

I've been a lurker a long time, but now I feel the urge to comment. Ford's first production car was Model A in 1903-04, and it was sold in red. Red everything, including the chassis! Ford rapidly went through a lot of the alphabet; models that reached production were B, C, F, K, N, R, and S.

Model T began in October, 1908, and Henry Ford built it with startlingly little change for almost 19 years. The earliest Ts also were available (but not exclusively) in red. In 1910 Ts were green; in 1911 through most of 1913, they were blue. (I have an early 1913 Ford Model T runabout, in the correct shade of blue.) In late 1913, Henry got his moving assembly line going, and Model Ts were black for the next dozen years, which included the peak years of T production; this is the reason for the old line: Any color you like as long as it's black." In the early 1920s DuPont lacquer made quick-drying color available on low-priced cars. Beginning in late 1925, various colors were offered on Model Ts until they were discontinued as hopelessly obsolete in May, 1927. The car that replaced it was again called Model A; since Henry felt he was starting all over again, he resurrected the Model A designation. This is the Model A most people have heard of; they were very popular, and were made until 1931.

My gripe about the clue is that many manufacturers were starting up in the early 1900s, and many of them called their first offering Model A. For example, Cadillac had a Model A in 1903, and it was black. Cadillac also had a Model T in 1908! The answer should have been FORD Model A, or just Ford, or the clue should have been "1903-04 Ford cars sold only in red."

Gil Fitzhugh, Morristown, NJ

Chorister 10:10 AM  

Fortunately my mother's family spent a year truck farming near Hialeah when she should have been in the 6th grade - she told them she was in the 7th grade and this was back when nobody checked these things so she skipped a grade.

I don't know poker lingo either so even after I had all the answers correct (according to my little camel) I still looked at JACKSTOOPEN for a long time before I parsed it. I thought maybe it was a German game.

Two Ponies 10:27 AM  

My train of thought was slightly derailed by Rex's gorgeous illustration of a boy toy. Oh, wait, maybe that was for the hammer throw.
As for the puzzle I did not think some of the ugly fill was worth the tepid pay off.
@ Meg, thanks for the Prell and Breck memory. Back then those are the only shampoos I remember.

ArtLvr 10:34 AM  

The HIALEAH Chorus is running through my head! (Where is Greene today?) At first I thought it was from "Guys and Dolls", but no -- it was the wacky "Bells are Ringing", the original B'way production in 1956 with Judy Holliday, with cute movie made later...

Here, on the premises of "Susanswerphone", an invented record company is a front for illegal horse betting. "Orders" are phoned in, with composers' names standing for the racetracks: Beethoven is Belmont Park, Shostakovich is Saratoga. The pop oratorio ends with a rousing Hialeah chorus. ("What is Handel? Hialeah! Who is Handel? Hialeah!") The scheme is blown when an order comes in at an untimely moment for records of "Beethoven's 10th"... historic indeed.

∑;)

archaeoprof 10:42 AM  

After I wrote it in, the answer for 44A suddenly looked like RABBI TEARS.

MFA today; didn't we have BFA recently?

nanpilla 10:43 AM  

@mac : All of my eau de vie bottles contain colorless liquids. I always thought every eau de vie was colorless, but looking it up, the clue is right, and cognacs and armagnacs are also considered to be eau de vies. My hubby has always preferred armagnac to cognac. He always calls it the "fiery country cousin".

Prell put me right back into the sixties again. What is is about hair products these last few days?

@meg : I had completely forgotten about the pearl! You are so right.

I once tried to capture a baby octopus in a prell bottle (it was all I had at hand, and for the life of me I can't figure out why I would have had one while wading around the lagoon!). That small neck made it impossible, of course, and it inked me, and got away. I can't think of Prell without thinking of that! Ah, to be 8 again.

Doug 10:58 AM  

Northeast stuck me for awhile. Didn't get roti.

Hialeah is in the top 10 of most beautiful racetracks, but my top three are: Santa Anita (in Arcadia, CA; gorgeous view of the San Gabriel Mtns. when you drive into the parking lot), Saratoga, and Belmont Park.

Doug 11:00 AM  

My father completely restored a Model A roadster -- it took a year. Rumbleseat. Took it on dates when I was in high school Talk about a babe magnet car....

retired_chemist 11:13 AM  

What everyone said. Fun. medium.

@ meg - if one sense of 'TIL works it is OK IMO. I didn't have a problem with it.

Crosscan 11:16 AM  

Agreed. The NW was a MAALOX monent for me. Also wondered who JACK STOOPEN was.

Ruth 11:30 AM  

My college addiction to Firesign Theater comes to the rescue again! Nick Danger: "the biggest long-shot Louie in Hialeah wouldn't put a fin on my fate now!" These are the cursed things I can never ever forget, along with the entirety of "Alice's Restaurant." Oh, to be able to free up that high-fidelity memory space!

Parshutr 11:37 AM  

@Ruth...now for three words in Turkish: Towel, Bath, Border...may I see your passport, please?

Ruth 11:54 AM  

@Parshutr: oh God, PLEASE do not get me started. I have work to do!

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

@ Ruth & Parshutr -
Shoes for industry!
* Bozoette *

obertb 12:17 PM  

HIALEAH was a gimme because I used to have cousins who lived there (the city, not the racetrack). Also had no trouble with MODEL A--high school friend had one, although it was the black 1931 edition. Didn't know they once came in red and actually preceded the Model T. (Thanks to Mr. Fitzhugh for the clarification.)

And BOYTOY! In the NYT! How refreshingly risqué! And not in a BEQ puzzle, either. Grey Ladies like boytoys?

Martin 12:18 PM  

mac and nanpilla,

In French usage, eau-de-vie refers to any distilled spirits, including aged brandies and whiskeys. To the French, armagnac is an eau-de-vie.

English usage is not as clear. The strictest definition includes only colorless fruit distillates, which the French call alcools blancs ("white alcohol"). Some authorities allow any product distilled from fruit, including grape brandies, whether they are aged (and thus colored) or not. English usage would never include whisky, even though that word is from the gaelic for "water of life," or the direct translation of eau-de-vie.

I use the "white alcohol" meaning of eau-de-vie in English, so would call armagnac a brandy but not an eau-de-vie. However, other people use a broader definition. And if all else fails, French usage justifies a clue about a French product.

I bought my dad a bottle of Laberdolive Fine-Eaux-de-Vie du Bas Armagnac 1923 (his birth year), and shortly later his doctor told him no distilled spirits. So I took possesion and now there are about two snorts left. I will miss it greatly when it's gone.

joho 12:19 PM  

First word I wrote in was SHARP, the second, HIALEAH and I was off to the races. Fun puzzle. I did stumble at ARNEL for a sec.

Loved HIALEAH, ICHABOD, MAALOZ, ARMAGNAC and BOYTOY.

Thanks, Paula!

william e emba 12:27 PM  

Thanks anonymous. I was aware of parliamentary "roll call votes", but I somewhere had the impression they weren't actually yeah/nay, the House/Senate does not even have a quorum, no names are taken down, it's just passed by a show of hands. The procedure is meant for the dorky bills, like "Today is National Crossword Puzzle Day", that are really a waste of time. Members of both parties are assigned duty for these votes, since they can always insist on a quorum as a way of preventing something significant sneaking by.

It seems they come in more than one variety though. They do yeah/NAY, but don't take down names.

JACKSTOOPEN gave me more trouble than I reported above. When I filled in the "Spanish eyes" gimme, I phonetically wrote in OYOS, not OJOS, so I was looking at YACKSTOOPE- at first, before I realized JACK was part of the theme.

To add to Rex's alternative theme fills, there are SPRAT ropes. SPRAT, as in the Society for Professional Rope Access Technicians.

I've criticized ET ALIA before. That's the neuter plural, and I believe the expression is only used for authors, ie, humans, which means that the masculine is normally used, ET ALII.

mac 12:33 PM  

@Martin: thank you for the explanation. I thought Schnapps, grappa and marc were the usual kinds of eau de vie. Surprised the French don't have a separate category for Cognac and Armagnac.

Who is this Ichabod? Sounds like a boy toy too!

Martin 12:34 PM  

Rex,

Frank Longo, 1/20/1996, used the vicious parrots to clue KEAS. (The plural pretty much forced his hand.)

I saw the damage these evil birds cause first hand on the way to Milford Sound, NZ. They tore up a motorcycle seat one night trying to get to its "kidneys," like they've learned to do with sheep.

Greene 12:45 PM  

@Artlvr: I had a big grin on my face as I wrote in HIALEAH because I immediately thought of that number from Bells Are Ringing. Lyricist Adolph Green had an encyclopedic knowledge of opera and classical music and loved to work sly references like HIALEAH chorus into his shows. When I saw the surprisingly unfunny Broadway revival of Bells in 2001, the audience basically sat on their hands, but the "Simple Little System" number got a huge laugh at the HIALEAH chorus payoff. At least it did the night I was there. The rest of the production? Not so much.

I can wager why you thought of Guys and Dolls before you thought of Bells for the HIALEAH clue. You were probably thinking of the famous reference to the Saratoga racetrack in "Adelaide's Lament" when she explains one of the reasons why she and gambler Nathan Detroit can never make it to the altar:

When they get on that train to Niagara
And she can hear church bells chime.
The compartment is air conditioned
And the mood sublime.
Then they get off at Saratoga for the fourteenth time!
A person can develop la grippe,
La grippe.
La post nasal drip.


I think everything I know about racetracks I probably learned from musicals. I'm not saying I'm proud of this.

Oh, the puzzle? I must be in a better mood today because I thought it was most excellent.

SethG 12:52 PM  

Ari and Etta are both first names. So is Remy, of a cognac. Peg is a Bundy and Rolf is my cousin. Newt is a politician, eft is a newt, and ent is not. Prell is a shampoo, and Keri is so very much a shampoo. Ant is a comedian, and Arnel is the lead singer for Journey.

Last names include Hammer, Frost, Nixon, Shack, Sax, Ampere, Ransom, and Sharp.

tptsteve 1:01 PM  

@Greene Loved the story about the Hialeah chorus.

Everthing I know about armagnac I learned from a musical- Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love, mentions armagnac in the opening number, Love Changes Everything, or the dialogue that immediately follows it. The song also mentions another not uncommon crossword answer, Ibsen (and his play, 'The Master Builder').

Loved the puzzle.

The Big E 1:06 PM  

I am annoyed by "Jack Cheese." "Monterrey Jack." "Pepper Jack." All of these and others have become so commonplace that "Jack Cheese" is simply not used anymore. I haven't been into a grocery store and seen "jack cheese." The variations thereof, sure. Maybe I am being overly critical or am simply dead wrong, but I think it a lame answer.
Ugh.

Gubdude 1:18 PM  

Interesting tidbit: Prell was the shampoo used by Jerry on Seinfeld. Yes, I have too much time on my hands.

Geezer 1:27 PM  

Incidentally, @Rex, Indian is not a language. There are at least 12 different languages in India some of which are more different from each other than they are from English. You are right in linking ROTI with that nation, as ROTI is indeed the Hindi word for bread.

Geezer 1:31 PM  

@william e emba, in references, ET ALIA very often refers to other works or references, and so is correct. If it refers to other authors, then ET ALII can be used.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

I just started reading Clarence Clemons new book entitled "The Big Man".
The NE killed me. MAALOX, FINITO, ATTAIN... pressed for time and did not finish.

Elaine 1:38 PM  

@Wm Emba
Um, not "yeah/nay," please! It's YEA and NAY; "Yeah" --YEH-uh --is what kids say instead of enunciating the word "Yes," eh?

And PRELL goes way, way back, further even than (gasp) The Sixties! I myself used Pamper ("Pamper, pamper, new shampoo, Gentle as a lamb, so right for you")... hoping for a hair miracle.

Clark 1:39 PM  

@mac --

The classic image of ICHABOD (Rockwell's Ichabod) does not suggest a BOY TOY to me. And when I imagine him fleeing before the headless horseman, BOY TOY is not what comes to mind. When ICHABOD is played by Johnny Depp however, that is another story.

Data_Geek 1:47 PM  

Am I the only one who wanted HEPTAHALON in 17A based on the H in SHH??? I was so proud of myself until I got to some of the easy crosses, like NEWT, to find out it was wrong...

Fun puzzle! Just right for me for a Wednesday.

Data_Geek 1:49 PM  

Ahhhh. I see the correct spelling is HEPTATHLON - I had an extra A. Who knew?

Dave 1:59 PM  

i'm lost on REG. i don't get the relationship between that and the clue, Simple hanger (23A).

and RCS as Desk toppers (23D).

messed up hte long answers on my NW.

The Big E 2:03 PM  

Dave - it is "PEG" not REG.
PCs go on desks, and a Peg is a simple hanger.

biolabchick 2:21 PM  

I call foul on 11 Across. Musicians do not receive MFAs. They receive either MMAs, DMAs, or MAs/Ph.Ds. This tripped me up for the longest time.

andrea girltoy michaels 2:28 PM  

OMOO/MOOED

Because I had ORNEL, giving me
-CHO--- I decided Ichabod Crane was a SCHOLAR! I need to read more.

No QZ but J, a couple of X"s and 4 Y's that weren't even ends of words made me happy(ish).

I am not going to comment on BOYTOY lest I reopen wounds...tho @dk was actually in my dream last night!
I was at a conflated Scrabble/crossword tournament and saw him across the room and he started to leave and I trotted over to him and he helped me find milk for my Rice Krispies! I was late so we had to cadge some from someone else's leftover Cheerios bowl, and tried to scoop it out with a fork.

No techie, I...I still have RABBIT EARS...tho @Archaeoprof, I love RABBI TEARS!!!!!!! (What happens with the Chabad telethon reception is fuzzy?)

Violent parrots!!!! How many ways do I love this blog? Thank you, @Martin.

I would like to poke my eyes out over SOLI however.

bluebell 2:31 PM  

My dictionary has jack cheese as a separate definition--a soft cheese with high moisture content. Monterey Jack was named after a Scotsman named David Jacks who at one time owned most of the land in Monterey County, CA (1850's on) and was known for very shrewd and profitable land dealings.

Thanks for all the info on Ford cars and on cognac (in reading about definitions for Jack I found one that said "brandy" by the way).
I learn a lot from this blog!

I enjoyed the puzzle, even though I couldn't remember the Spanish eyes and wrote in osos first--also had house cat--so sackstoocen made no sense at all.

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

Big E,

I was bothered by the CHEESE entry too. It's Monterrey Jack...not Jack cheese.
The theme entry is off.

william e emba 2:37 PM  

It's yea/NAY and reference books are of course neuter. Thanks and thanks!

I've been using the same brand of shampoo for thirty years now. And you know what? I can't recall its name whatsoever. I recognize it when I get a new one, and that's about it. I think I can recall my brand of toothpaste and soap, but I'm not so sure. But I can definitely assert that I gave up on MAALOX about 10-15 years ago. They stopped putting aluminum in their chewables, so I switched. (Anything weaker gives me rebound.)

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

Actually Monterey Jack. :-)

Jack Cheese is in the dictionary but it's not used in common parlance.

joho 2:43 PM  

Geez, I even wrote SHARP in my first comment and didn't see that it's a shout out to @Rex.

I also forgot to mention that I knew someone who was ROLFed and he said it hurt like hell. Anybody here experience ROLFing?

@Clark ... I have always imagined ICHABOD to be just like the first pic you posted, but never like Johnny Depp ... who, by the way, was just chosen as People's "Sexiest Man of the Year." As well he should be.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

Jack cheese.

Glitch 2:53 PM  

@biolabchick
University of Iowa website:
"Music (MA, MFA, DMA, or PhD):
The MA, MFA, DMA, and the PhD in Music are awarded by the Graduate College. Instruction is offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The MA is offered with or without a thesis."

We might make a good team, you didn't know MFA, I didn't know DMA ;)

@The Big E et. al.
Tho "Jack Cheese" may no longer be used commonly, neither is "Prell" shampoo.

Cheer up and gloat that you didn't have to say "WTF?".

.../Glitch

chefwen 2:58 PM  

I've been to so many racetracks over the years (husband is a great handicapper) that HIALEAH was a gimme. I, on the other hand have the uncanny ability to select horses who finish last or close to last. Now I tag along but leave the betting to him as I work on crossword puzzles. He gives me 10% of his winnings, so we both come out ahead.

Knew ARMAGNAC (yummm!) The northeast was the most difficult for me.

Overall, really liked the puzzle.

Thanks Paula

ArtLvr 3:09 PM  

@ greene -- Thanks! You're cordially invited to come visit the venerable Saratoga Racetrack in the (horse) flesh some summer, and nearby is SPAC (the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, set in a huge woodsy park) for all kinds of musical events...

∑;)

Bob Kerfuffle 3:10 PM  

@Andrea Scholarly Michaels -- ICHABOD Crane was a schoolteacher, so by calling him a scholar you weren't far off!

Martin 3:30 PM  

Killer keas.

Sheep are so stupid it's hard to know who to root for.

Meg 3:35 PM  

I watched some ROLFing sessions in college and what I remember is that people did not cry so much from the pain, but from the trauma of old memories that were stored in their bodies (at least that's how it was explained by the ROLFer). Unleash the stress and relive the emotional pain. I did not volunteer.

The Big E 3:47 PM  

@glitch
fair point. Still don't like it, though. Jack cheese. Blech.

PlantieBea 4:10 PM  

@martin: Just watched the video clip. Killer keas are not cute clowns. The things you learn on this blog...

sanfranman59 4:19 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 11:17, 11:46, 0.96, 42%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:55, 5:48, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging

miriam b 4:31 PM  

@Ruth: While you're waiting for the electrician to come, please amuse yourself with this snippet from the incomparable Flanders and Swann. I don't know the name of the piece, but it's a DITTY about Charles de Gaulle. Here's how it ends, IIRC:

This old man, nine and ten,
He'll play knick till God knows when,
Cognac, Armagnac, Burgundy and Beaune,
This old man thinks he's Saint Joan.

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

@OldCarFudd 10:08 AM

Thanks, Mr. Fitzhugh, for sharing your OldCarErudition. Informative and fascinating.

Charles

miriam b 4:47 PM  

Isn't it usually sold as Monterey JACK Cheeae? I know it was developed by a Mr. Jack way back when. I guess it's specified in Mexican=American or Tex-Mex recipes because the assumption is that the authentic stuff (queso blanco or queso fresco)may not be readily obtainable in the States. Just a guess

Charles Bogle 5:07 PM  

I second joho's comments and, like doug, I had a problem in NE as well as NW. Personal Natick at 19A and 13D...real MAALOXMOMENT...fun and testing Wednesday puzzle, very well-constructed and nice write-up by RP

treedweller 5:52 PM  

@ joho
I've been ROLFed. I don't remember it being painful (or emotional, for that matter). But, since they focus on your body and try to correct structure, it might be hard on someone with particular problems. I also happen to like really deep massage, which might not suit everyone. I would say it is more like acupressure than massage, but that might depend on the person being ROLFed.

edith b 5:56 PM  

I always think of flamingoes when I see HIALEAH racetrack. Once I got FROSTNIXON, I knew MAALOX but I sure didn't know from where or when. I was hoping to learn when this ad campaign ran from the Comments but no joy.

As parshutr pointed out, I learned "Jacks to Open, Trips to Win" from Dad's Wednesday night poker guys. Always an unpopular game to opt for, as I recall.

And Prell shampoo was sold in a plastic tube in the 50s, if I recall correctly. I remember an old Carl Reiner/Mel Brooks routine from The Ten thousand year old man where the question was asked what the most important invention in the world was and the answer was "Liquid Prell" because if you dropped an iron lung it would break but not liquid Prell.

Dated,yes but still funny.

fergus 6:20 PM  

A cryptic I did recently was playing on the RABBI TEARS angle, along with something about a pair for the signal.

At a dinner party last weekend the rave was all about a 12-year old eau de vie from Soquel (CA). A guest had brought a bottle from his Alambic manufacture and local storage. Bold move to sink your life savings into a distillery, but with a good stock of locally produced half-way decent wine, why not beguile the locals with stiff drink of their own terroir?

Lots of fine fresh words today.

Glitch 6:20 PM  

@miriam b

Mr Jack didn't develop it

The "True" Story of
Monterey Jack Cheese


.../Glitch

Glitch 6:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
fergus 6:36 PM  

... and just for the record, Frances @ 10:06, your geographic specification might require a slight correction. Gascony is in the South WEST and Normandy would probably have to be placed in the North WEST, though clearly not as surely as Brittany. Many of us in describing the puzzle get dyslexic with direction at times, and I'm sure you meant West when you typed East.

PIX 6:55 PM  

the Maine corner killed me...i spent all day trying to make a "Kodak" moment into six letters...didn't know Maalox also had a moment...hard to believe i am the only one who got confused....the Kodak people would be very upset.

good puzzle for a Wed.

Sfingi 6:58 PM  

HIALEAH, the city, is famous to me for losing a Constitutional decision - that Santaria may not sacrifice chickens. My inmates said Santaria would win by unanimous decision because Santaria is powerful, and nothing about the issues. It did. Chickens beware.
Babaloo-aye! (a.k.a. St. Lazarus avatar)

Had another Natick at ELENA/DITTY/JACKSTOOPEN and HOUSEPET. I put "hound dog" and couldn't shake him. Didn't know any poker or ice skating, and do not think Mary had a Little Lamb is "just a little ditty."

Was there ever another ICHABOD? NYS Hudson Valley story by Washington Irving, who also wrote in Spanish and preferred Alhambra to Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod is a bad luck Biblical name.

@Artlover - Saratoga is all that. I'm not so thrilled about staying at the Gideon Putnam anymore. I suggest the new Hilton in town.

I had trouble in NW and SE. A Natick at ARMAGNAC/REMY and HAMMERTHROW. Knew HIALEAH and ARNEL, a really yucky fabric - better use as a man's name.

Rolfing - We once visited a fellow whose father was a very well-known NYC antique dealer. He told us he just got back from The City and was sore because he was ROLFed. My husband thought it meant he was beat up. I kinda knew since one of my sisters (the philosophy major/jeweller) lives in Fairfield, IA (home of the Maharishi International University) where all the medicine is alternative and all the food is healthful (ptui).

What's not to love about PRELL.

I lived on MAALOX until my doctor put me on Cimetidine 30 yrs ago after 2 ulcers.

Artists, like my Baltimore art prof. sister, get either an MA or MFA Masters in Fine Arts. The second is for the better students. Her thesis project was etching on zinc plates. She got her MFA at Penn State. She also got an MA in Art History from Hopkins. Art History isn't hands on, so MFAs aren't given. Yes, we had BFA recently.

@Andrea don't do it! In Italian, masculine words end in "o" for singular, "i" for plural, is all. Note: if they end in "io," it becomes "ii." That can look weird. Pompeii.

@Meg - avoid double negatives.

Another theme possibility - OFFBROADWAY.

joho 6:59 PM  

I keep forgetting things ...

@OldCarFudd ... thank you for your interesting and informative comment. You should "speak" more often.

@Treedweller ... it's nice to hear from someone who's experienced ROLFing. I now remember that my friend said it had something to do with emotional pain more than physical pain as @Meg mentioned. But it sounds like it's a hard massage, so it seems ... if your body and mind are in good shape, you won't feel any pain when ROLFed. I would probably have to check into the hospital on both accounts!

3 and out.

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

@ Martin, That Kea video is astounding and gruesome. I never would have guessed that such a thing was present in the natural world.
@ Rex, Sorry that I cannot support your campaign. Keas can kiss my ass if they are going to kill sheep in such a slow and cruel manner.
Puzzle was so-so. Ringo was more fun yesterday.
Only fun was seeing the -bod and guessing Ichabod before I even saw the clue! How does our brain DO THAT?
Squeek the Anonymouse

Two Ponies 7:42 PM  

Hey everyone, Yesterday we were asking about fikink (thanks Ulrich!) and now I'm wondering if anyone has heard from foodie with an update.

retired_chemist 7:52 PM  

re fikink and foodie:

I think it is a good sign for the human race that we, who know each other for the most part only through this blog, can be so caring toward each other.

Ulrich 9:07 PM  

@sfingi: Double negatives can be tricky, but quadruple negatives are to die for: "I ain't going to no heaven 'cause there ain't no heaven to go to."--only a lout would take any one of them out...

(just getting back to normal after an exciting and exhausting day of watching qualifying matches for the 2010 soccer world cup--with some real heart breakers, like the Irish bowing out undeservedly to the French--they can shove their Armagnac where the sun don't shine)

mac 9:08 PM  

@Clark: you had some foresight there, considering Depp won Sexiest Man of the Year. I didn't know the character, just went phonetic.

I've seen the term Jack cheese in Tex-Mex recipes, I think.

Amazing to have Armagnac and Remy next to each other!

Foodie, last time I heard, is trying to get her father taken care of. I'm sure she misses the blog (and us) as much as we do her.

Sfingi 9:28 PM  

@Anonymouse - The Kea thing is sad to us. Where is our border collie when you need him? But certain bats do a similar thing to cattle in some places. The way of the world.

@Pix - I use that same mapping method - superimpose the rose on the USA: Maine, Florida, WA State, So. CA.

I misspelled Santeria.

@Chefbea - The Utica Observer Dispatch had on the first page today a story about the two dishes we discussed plus "greens." The only way to see the photos is

www.uticaod.com/news/x25518902/Showcasing-citys-unique-flavor

I was going to embed it, but each photo is individual.
Local sweet Sicilian sausage made here is good, too. There's something we like at home - my son makes it well - Pasta ghi sard.' Some call it pasta con sardine, but the first is the Sicilian dialect. It's made with sardines, tomato sauce and pasta, but the important thing with this and any fish sauce is that you don't put grated cheese on it. You fry bread crumbs and spices in olive oil and shake it on with a spoon. It's called modina, I think. The Sicilians have all sorts of rules about which pasta shape goes with which meat, etc., but I love farfalle - butterflies, literally, but called bows here. In German, butterfly is Schmetterling. The best is Spanish - mariposa.

Stan 9:43 PM  

Excellent puzzle and genuinely funny write-up. Happy to be a NYT subscriber today (hear that, Circulation Dept.?)

@Andrea: Your posts just keep getting better.

@Meg: Your comment was perfectly lucid to me...

Re: Killer Keas. I would not watch this for a hundred dollars. I am aware that in the wild, creatures often kill each other. They generally do this for food, and not for spite or out of ideology, which puts them somewhat ahead of humans in my book.

sanfranman59 1:27 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:38, 6:54, 0.96, 42%, Medium
Tue 9:02, 8:37, 1.05, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:25, 11:46, 0.97, 47%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:41, 0.94, 38%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:20, 4:25, 0.98, 52%, Medium
Wed 5:52, 5:47, 1.01, 60%, Medium-Challenging

Late Guy 9:12 AM  

Okay, this is nit-picky, but I didn't see anyone else complain about it: shouldn't PCS be clued in such a way to show that it's an abbr.? I don't think PC qualifies as a word in and of itself (it's Personal Computer, of course)

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