WEDNESDAY, Nov. 25 2009 — Crooner canned on live TV in 1953 / Boy soprano in Menotti opera / Gernreich of fashion / North Carolina gridders

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Constructor: Allan E. Parrish

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "I'm beat!" — five theme answers end in words related to losing energy, strength, or vigor ...

Word of the Day: RUDI Gernreich (3D: Gernreich of fashion)

Rudi Gernreich (August 8, 1922April 21, 1985) was a fashion designer and gay activist. Born in Vienna, he fled Austria at age 16 due to Nazism. He came to the U.S., settling in Los Angeles, California. a dancer, performing with the Lester Horton company around 1945.

He moved into fashion design via fabric design, and then worked closely with model Peggy Moffitt and photographer William Claxton, pushing the boundaries of "the futuristic look" in clothing over three decades. An exhibition of his work at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2003 hailed him as "one of the most original, prophetic and controversial American designers of the 1950s, '60s and '70s." [...] He is perhaps most notorious for inventing the first topless swimsuit, or monokini, as well as the pubikini (a bikini with a window in front to reveal the woman's pubic hair) and later the thong swimsuit. He was also a strong advocate of unisex clothing, dressing male and female models in identical clothing and shaving their heads and bodies completely bald. He was also known as the first designer to use vinyl and plastic in clothes, and he designed the Moonbase Alpha uniforms on the television series Space: 1999.





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Finished this one very quickly and couldn't see any theme. Stared at it for several seconds and still couldn't see any theme. For some reason, visually, the theme answers don't stand out as theme answers very strongly. I was thinking HOTLINE (22A: Red telephone's connection), ELEPHANT (34A: Political symbol), and ASBESTOS (42A: Litigation-prompting insulation) might all be involved somehow (can anyone build a theme around those answers? Challenge!). Then I started trying the first / last word test with the longest answers. RADIAL and SHOWER have nothing to do with each other, but TIRE and DRAIN sure do. It's an interesting theme, with one little wonky feature: FLAG is an intransitive verb. All the others are transitive (exc. TIRE, which can be both). So technically the words don't (can't) all mean the same thing. But they are in the same arena of meaning, which is probably good enough.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Goodyear offering (radial TIRE)
  • 10D: Feature of many muscle cars (dual EXHAUST)
  • 25D: Syrup source (tree SAP)
  • 24D: Where lost hair may accumulate (shower DRAIN)
  • 61A: Blackbeard flew one (pirate FLAG)

This was possibly the easiest Wednesday puzzle I've done all year. Played like a toughish Tuesday, and took me only a few seconds longer than yesterday's puzzle. This despite not knowing (or remembering) RUDI Gernreich and taking forever to recall who the hell that guy was who got fired on national TV — I featured a video about his firing by Arthur Godfrey in a prior post, and yet still couldn't remember his name: LA ROSA (32A: Crooner canned on live TV in 1953). Bah! Anyway, LA ROSA's firing was an important moment in American pop culture. Here, I'll just post that same video again, in case you missed it the first time.



Bullets:

  • 1A: Catalog clothing retailer since 1983 (J. Crew) — gimme, right off the bat.
  • 6A: Suffragist Carrie Chapman _____ (Catt) — or "3C," as she was known on the street.
  • 27A: Boy soprano in a Menotti opera (Amahl) — Having (crosswordese) AMAH and (crosswordese) AMAHL in the same grid is a little ugly. But I like the boy singer (AMAHL) over the boy singer (LA ROSA) here...
  • 54A: Mountain previously named Peak XV (Everest) — news to me. Had most of the answers before I ever saw the clue.
  • 64A: One of American banking's Big Four, for short (Citi) — no love for them at the moment ...
  • 68A: Hippie's cross (ankh) — "Hippie??" I think of this as "that shape that feminist women are getting tattooed on themselves in the '90s for some reason." It's got mother goddess (Isis) and pagan associations.
  • 8D: North Carolina gridders (Tarheels) — love the answer, but it's not just the "gridders." ALL UNC athletes are TARHEELS — they're the reigning Men's NCAA basketball champions.
  • 51D: Spreader of dirt (yenta) — nice misdirective clue.

Please come back later in the day (say, noonish) when I will be releasing a special puzzle in honor of a certain birthday (not mine! That's tomorrow)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

78 comments:

Sara 8:00 AM  

good call with the transitive/intransitive observation. hadn't noticed that.

Sara 8:00 AM  

good call with the transitive/intransitive observation. hadn't noticed that.

Parshutr 8:08 AM  

RADIALTIRE makes no sense; a tire has either radial plies or bias plies...
But aside from that, a great experience. My initial take was that it would be Challenging, but then it got to be Easy.
MISSILE fits into the HOTLINE space, but that was my only glitch.
Not being a football fan, I had to have lots o' crosses to get Tarheel.
Wiki sez "The exact etymology of the nickname is unknown, but most experts believe its roots come from the fact that tar, pitch and turpentine created from the vast pine forests were one of North Carolina's most important exports early in the state's history."

joho 8:10 AM  

@Rex, interesting that you brought up a political theme because that's what I saw all through this puzzle, only not regarding the GOP but Obama.

Michelle wears JCREW and often makes a SPLASH. Her childrens' NANA lives in the White House. President Obama appoints CZARs and has a HOTLINE in the Oval office. He bailed out CITI Bank. He dresses with ELAN. He negotiates with SEMITEs, ARABs, WEASELS and BLOCs. Air Force One is always at the READY to take him on TRIPs to international destinations including INDIA and SRI Lanka. He MANS our Armed Forces and is concerned with their ROTATION. He is serving his first TERM and his RANK is Commander in Chief. Justice SOUTER sits on his Supreme Court. He ordered Navy Seals to save Captain Phillips who was captured under a PIRATEFLAG. He cares about the FHA. In fact, he takes a STAND and ACTS on many important issues. His first search for his dog was at the SPCA. America's troubles GNAW at him HENCE he struggles to stay SANE.

joho 8:11 AM  

Oh, and didn't he pick the TARHEELS to win?

Parshutr 8:19 AM  

@joho...brilliant. Maybe he sang the role of Amahl? He's obviously catnip to the voters, even Rastas!
Hence, no matter what hot situations he gets into, his asbestos underwear will protect him. He may even climb Mt. Everest and amend the constitution so he can serve more than two terms.

Raul 8:25 AM  

FUELEXHAUST was my answer at first.Although I could live with FISH, EDAM was either Eve's boy toy on the side or wrong.

Smitty 8:26 AM  

Maybe I need more coffee but this wasn't easy for me - I slogged through AMAHL, LUM and AMAH..... Weird clues for DASH, PREFIX AZURE, ROK.
And what Bluebeard flew is called a JOLLY ROGER, which fits nicely into the space for the clunky PIRATE FLAG.
The Julius LaRosa bit was the best part of the morning. Thanks for digging that up!

Smitty 8:30 AM  

PS. I had KREMLIN for the red phone connection (it's a cold war thing)

tptsteve 8:32 AM  

Heard the NPR story about the Obamas wearing JCREW about 2 minutes before I opened the paper to the puzzle. It all flowed from there. Interesting and not common answers today, coupled with some nice cluing.

Query: is there a salad green that is a CRESS, other than water cress? I've never heard it called just cress.

chefbea 8:38 AM  

I too had fuel exhaust for a while but then realized fish didn't make sense.

Of course I knew Tarheels. In fact the key to our house in NC is dark blue and light blue and says NC Tarheels.

Couldn't figure out the theme til I came here and I still don't understand flag

Time to make the cranberries

Meg 8:52 AM  

It must be the humidity, which is 100% today. DUEL instead of DUAL gave me EDAM, as in the cheese that got kicked out of paradise.

My other temporary errors were SLIP instead of TRIP and AEON instead of AGES.

ROK stands for Republic of Korea. Who uses this term to refer to a Korean?

I totally missed the theme, so while I found the solving to be easy, I feel a bit outwitted.

Good puzzle, overall.

Glitch 9:15 AM  

@meg

During the Korean War, er, Conflict, the "enemy soldiers" were referred to as ROK's.

.../Glitch

Parshutr 9:16 AM  

@meg...During the Korean war, we referred to friendlies, in or out of uniform, as ROKs.
Given the Lum 'n' Abner reference, and LaRosa, I have to think the constructor is not some 14-year-old Wunderkind but a geezer like me.

Parshutr 9:16 AM  

no, Glitch, no...the friendlies were ROKs, the enemies were Gooks.

Elaine 9:31 AM  

@Parshutr
I think Glitch is...one of those young whippersnappers! ROK were South Korean allies whom we were "helping" in our "police action."

We have a picture of my Dad standing in front of a big sign at the 38th Parallel. And all of us Army kids had tablets with a silhouette of an infantryman and "Go for Broke" on the cover.

I had seen an episode or two of "The Julius La Rosa Show" in the mid-Fifties when temporarily living in Texas...very interesting story that was new to me! Arthur Godfrey was still on the TV in the late Fifties, and I recall my grandparents' watching his show. Didn't he get into trouble later for uttering some unfortunate words on open air?

Thanks for a good write-up, Rex. Never saw that theme at all!--the puzzle went by too fast.

Kurt 9:32 AM  

I agree with Rex. This was a good Tuesday puzzle ... maybe even an easy Tuesday puzzle. Lots and lots of gimmes. But maybe that's just a Geezer deal.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

darkman 9:44 AM  

This puzzle took me less time than yesterday's, so I'm feeling pretty perky.

dk 10:04 AM  

@Parshutr and @joho, give that baggie back to @darkman or soon you will be doing what the little men in the cookie jar tell you to do.

PIRATEFLAG was my favorite fill in an otherwise unremarkable puzzle. So I side with Rex today: This one time! cue me hearing Luke I am your father... yikes

@Chefbea, it is Thai red curry paste & coconut milk sweet potato day in dk land. Lovely wife is brining the bird. I will be picking up some Nouveau Beaujolais later today, although the NYT Dining section has me thinking of a Fernet (to settle the tummy).

Thanks Allan, fun puzzle with no turkeys in the fill.

** (2 stars)

@ulrich, from a week or so.. ago Renting M today to review the serial soliloquy. My use was a little different. I will email you the details.

Happy running around day everyone.

spyguy 10:06 AM  

Two things- one, I'm sure everyone has had these moments, but I misread 42A several times to mean "litigation-prompting INSULT", not insulation. Second, I watched the LaRosa clip, and according to the clip he was most definitely NOT canned on live TV. It was in the radio only segment taht came on after the TV portion. Nit-picky, I guess.

retired_chemist 10:07 AM  

Two minutes less than yesterday. Easy works for me.

Enjoyed it. When a few longish answers pop into place with no more than a cross or two, things flow. Those would be RADIAL TIRE, ASBESTOS, TARHEELS, and PIRATE FLAG. Other gimmes: JCREW, RASTAS, SOUTER, NANA, PSALM, and more.

Wanted LAROSA to be (Snooky) LANSON.* Wasn't.

Had GNAR, which is good crosswordese but wrong, for 38A, "Act like a rat." GNAR means "snarl, growl." Do NOT want to meet a rat that GNARs. The consequent SHORER DRAIN (24D) had to be fixed in my final check.

TARHEELS are North Carolinians in general, not just UNC athletes. The same (IMO irrelevant) quibble could be applied to athletes, were that in the clue, as well as to gridders. Is a UNC athlete who is NC born and raised aq TARHEEL TARHEEL?

* WHO? ask the non-geezers.

Van55 10:26 AM  

Solid puzzle with practically no cliches. Bravo!

Doug 10:26 AM  

As for defending national champs, UNC, not this year. My Orangemen blew them off the court at the Garden. East except for ANKH and ROK. Otherwise, not a very interesting puzzle.

treedweller 10:30 AM  

I couldn't find the theme till I came here. I thought TREESAP was a personal attack. Now that Rex has pointed out the possible alternate interpretation, I am calling off my lawyers.

Fast solve, faster than yesterday I think. A bit ho-hum, but no real complaints.

Stan 10:33 AM  

Kudos to the constructor (and editor) for not 'explaining' the theme.

Happy Turkey Day to all -- and HB to RP!

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Easy but enjoyable puzzle.
@ joho, Nice short story.
Never heard of Rudi but he certainly had an interesting career.
Never heard of the radio team either.
Hippie chick that I am I remember when ankhs were part of the uniform.

des 10:44 AM  

Until I replaced PANTHERS (the more appropriate 'gridders'-only answer) with TARHEELS the whole nrotheast was a mess.

Thanks for the ROK explanation - that one had me stumped.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:44 AM  

Thought the puzzle was easy, but -

(1) I failed to recognize TREESAP as a theme answer, and

(2) Carelessly threw in COTTON before CATNIP and LEM before LUM.

Slightly too young ... 10:45 AM  

I stand corrected

.../Glitch

Soul 10:47 AM  

Maybe I'm wrong, but it strikes me that, technically, "flag" isn't exactly intransitive, except with regard to the meaning under discussion (weaken, sap, tire, droop, etc.). Because obviously, you wouldn't say that the hard work "flagged" the worker. But you could say the referee flagged the play, or the CPA flagged an entry in the spreadsheet. Which would make the "flag" transitive, no? But maybe you only meant intransitive with regard to meaning #1.

ArtLvr 10:47 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, Rex's comments, Joho's clever recap -- also note that Obama's first state dinner last night honored INDIA, very timely!

Lots of fun zipping through this one, and i wanted to extend the theme answers to include HOTLINE with Line being a furrow in one's brow when TIREd and EVEREST adding that you need a Rest when you're DRAINed... I know, that's not legit.

Thanks to Parshuter for connecting TARHEELS to TREE SAP in NC Pine Forests, and good luck to ChefBea on her upcoming move there!

My last fill was J CREW because L L Bean didn't fit, but the latter is a strong supporter of our unique Pine Bush conservancy in Albany County NY (only inland pine barrens). They donate various items to help kids explore the area from compasses to snowshoes! Factoids -- the Karner Blue butterfly is found only here, and is endangered in part because their only food as larvae is the Lupine. We are constantly on guard against pollution of these acres, and removing non-native intruders like the Black Larch (they grab too much SUN, killing native plants).

So Happy Thanksgiving to all, and please honor the conservationists on this day too!

∑;)

william e emba 10:49 AM  

We had a Wednesday that was generally acknowledged as an easy Monday a few months back. Other than that, this puzzle tied for my fastest Wednesday.

Do you think our constructor or editor liked Rex's clip of LAROSA getting fired from before? Guess how Ruby will be clued a few months from now?

You know you've been doing crosswords too much when you think "Act like a rat" can only mean fink, blab, talk. Oh, you meant that kind of rat?

My only real glitch was that I looked at DUALE------ for muscle car feature and guessed DUAL ENGINES.

pednsg 11:08 AM  

@tptsteve This is what wiki tell me about cress
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cress

I agree with you that CRESS is very rarely used in isolation, though I know there are others here with more culinary knowledge that will have more info on this.

Put me in the RO? / AN?H club - had to leave it blank. I can't bear to Google on a Wednesday.

@Doug Nothing makes me happier than when the Tarheels lose - thank you, Syracuse, for making my month! Go Devils!

Wonderful holiday to all!

chefwen 11:14 AM  

Did this one last night around 5 PM and immediately thought, WOW, I'm tired, time to go to bed. When I think of FLAG I picture the breeze dying down and the poor flag just hanging there all limp like.

Let's all chip in and send our fearless leader a little donation for his Birthday.

Got a lot of whippersnappers with large appetites coming tomorrow, so it's two turkeys, one in the oven inside and one in the pizza oven outside. It's a turkey throw-down.

Ulrich 11:45 AM  

Thx to all who explained ROK--that really had me stumped--got it through ANKH, though, which I remember well from those days.

@joho: wow--just eat those little men in the cookie jar!

mac 11:45 AM  

Tough Tuesday for me, as well, but a breeze for a Wednesday. Was proud of myself for getting Tarheels! By the way, I thought Hofstra was Orangemen.

My only hesitation was at 49A, with only the -dn in place. I don't understand 45D openers for church keys.

Back to the bird.

Two Ponies 11:50 AM  

@ mac, You might have a church key in your kitchen drawer. It's what I call my bottle opener.

Gubdude 12:00 PM  

I'm going to agree with Des and say PANTHERS is the better answer for 8D, which I initially wrote in.

william e emba 12:02 PM  

"Church key" is an old-fashioned name for that old-fashioned item, the can OPENER. Can openers were small metal oblongs, with one end having a triangular hook and the other end a curled hook.

This was in the days before pulltabs. Actually, there was a time when the tabs came completely off, and naturally enough, they quickly became a rather hazardous form of litter.

I grew up with can openers, but never called or heard them called church keys (perhaps because I'm Jewish, I don't know). I did learn the word from a Mad magazine piece about someone ruining a picnic because he forgot to bring the "church key". The illustration was of someone trying desperately to open a steel (not aluminum!) can using his teeth, and the other picnicgoers in obvious annoyance. I honestly don't think I've encountered the term in all these decades in between, but I'll give Mad credit, I got this clue instantly!

retired_chemist 12:08 PM  

I have been using a church key recently for goats' milk (useful in weaning puppies). No pull tabs, alas.

Don't think it is as geezer-oriented as Wm E emba's post would lead you to think. When you need one you need one.

The "curled hook" is for beer/etc. bottles that do not have twist-off tops. Used THAT end recently too.

SethG 12:31 PM  

Yup, PANTHERS led to average Wednesday time for me. Probably didn't help that my first answer for [Warm and comfy] was COMFY.

Parshutr, not sure I understand your problem with RADIAL TIRE. In any case, that's what Goodyear calls them, so even if it's incorrect terminology it's an accurate clue.

Leslie 12:42 PM  

Sigh. Yet again the theme escaped me until Rex's write-up.

Got to ask this: Nobody else thought "Breakfast test! BREAKFAST TEST!!!" when they got to the "hair in the shower drain" part?

mac 12:46 PM  

Thank you, Two Ponies, William Emba and Retired-Chemist. I should have figured that out. I realized I use the canopener only for tomatoes and beans (white and navy), we don't eat a lot of prepared food.

I was a little confused with the clue for J.Crew. There are at least three great big stores in this area.

I know different kinds of cress, but the only salad I put water cress into is a delicious tomatoe, vidalia onion and watercress salad with an orange/sesame vinaigrette. The smaller kinds usually show up in sandwiches, but mainly in health food stores and in Britain.
Nice and peppery.

Balding Geezer's Wife 12:51 PM  

@ Leslie, Yes I did want to yell Breakfast Test at that one.

PIX 1:08 PM  

Even today the tops to some beer bottles cannot be twisted off; you must use a bottle opener (eg Heineken beer bottles.) When confronted with bottles like this I have heard people say: "Who brought the church key?"...Never understood exactly where that phrase came from; still don't.

@william e emba..not only were the pull tabs an environmental problem, they were a health problem...people would swallow them all the time.

Middle of the road puzzle; nothing great, nothing bad.

william e emba 1:10 PM  

Thanks, retired_chemist. I had forgotten what the curled hook end was used for, but yes, I know recall those bottle caps and the disaster it was when you couldn't get the cap off.

but come on, someone of our age who uses something from way back when hasn't proved a thing about current day usage. Next you'll be bragging about your rotary dial telephone, or your 1969 Volkswagen Beetle that still runs just fine, or those telephone books that you actually look numbers up in.

As it is, I do own and use a few "butterfly" rotary can openers, the kind with the turning wheel that happens to have a built-in churchkey opener along one arm. I don't think I've ever used them except as rotary openers.

the redanman 1:11 PM  

Some crossword(ese?)rote I didn't know made me tack my way like a sailor through this one, a fair amount of work - much more relatively difficult for me than relative Monday & Tuesday this week.

Not knowing the distinction of RADIAL TIRE is "special" shows one's age as it was a cool thing when Radial Tyres for passenger cars came out and they sounded soooo different inside the car.

Several of the clues - a solver will definitely do better if they are really familiar with the New York *culture* if you can call it that, but I'm not going there!

Liked the clue for EVEREST, I like RUDI the designer, but whointhehell is called LUM (LUM|SUM my only error) and what is it an endearment for? Lumpy? Maybe I don't wanna know.

Only crappy clue was for ANKH, yccch, so it's a good puzzle and I just need more experience for some of these "gimmes".

retired_chemist 1:18 PM  

@ Wm E emba - the proof of current use is just that I have needed to use each end of our (admittedly old) church key within the last week. I doubt I am unique....

jeff in chicago 1:23 PM  

This one was not in my wheelhouse and it took me considerably longer than my usual Wednesday. But when I finally got through it, I liked it a lot. PANTHERS and PIRATESHIP (I know...SHIP?? What was I thinking?) kept me confused for too long. Even after correcting those, I could not see the theme until I got here.

Is it just me, or is WEASEL(S) the new hip puzzle word. Seems to be showing up a lot lately.

@joho: Loved that!

HudsonHawk 1:23 PM  

@mac, brick and mortar stores are a fairly recent development for J. CREW. Initially, it was only a catalog retailer.

@PIX, per wiki, most agree that CHURCH KEY is a sarcastic euphemism, as the opener was obviously designed to access beer, and not churches. That's always been my take, as well.

@retired_chemist, me too. The tomato juice for my bloodies comes in a can that requires one end of the church key, and Heineken and Corona beers require the other end.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Did anyone notice the commonality in three crosswords today, ie NYT, LAT and USAToday? Alice Walker constructed the USAToday puzzle where we also had Telly Savalas/Theo in NYT and amah and agha in two puzzles and Alice Walker a clue as well? Coincidence? Just wondering

retired_chemist 1:41 PM  

@ HH - funny you should mention Heineken and Corona. Great minds etc......

Charles Bogle 1:42 PM  

Had experiences, reactions similar to those of meg, van55, leslie...RP, I feel so much better now not having spotted the theme; your comments are spot-on...problems w the theme more than off-set by good, solid, non-tired fill. Loved clue for YENTAS...liked WEASEL...some time ago I commented on RP's earlier posting of Julius LAROSA's troubles w Jack Paar but for the life of me I whiffed on the name too...anyway, what a jerk Paar was to LaRosa, and how well, at least publicly, LaRosa took it, although he was consigned to being a DJ for WNEW-AM radio (think: Sinatra)...a lot of faith-based things today: ACTS, PSALM, ADAM...liked by-play of SPCA/FHA...only potential shout-out to Thanksgiving was HOMEY...best Thanksgiving wishes all

Sara 1:45 PM  

@william e emba: My Bronx-born Jewish parents say "church key" so maybe it's regional rather than cultural. The only thing I can remember using the pointy end of mine for in many years is pineapple juice.

The iPod in my brain 2:12 PM  

"Nowhere Man" has given way to "Church Key"

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

A church key is not on your rotary can opener. It is a metal tool with a triangular loop on one end to pry open a bottle top. It somewhat resembles a skeleton key thus the name. Big ornate skeleton keys were associated with church doors. You still get a very simple version of one when you buy a gallon of paint. One end has a small pry bar for opening the lid of the can. I guess the bottle opener is for when the job is complete.

Stephen 2:16 PM  

I'm a hippie geezer too, but I died on AMAHL, LUM, LAROSA, AMAH, ANKH, ROK, LON, NANA.

When you have to work that hard for a theme, it ain't worth calling it that. Themes are s'posed to be gettable and useful while you're still solving!

I had OBJECT in for the Java bit, but knew it couldn't be common enough for crosswords. Is APPLET any more so?

yes to CRESS.

Let me echo Smitty: what Bluebeard flew is a JOLLY ROGER and when I had to take it out and replace it with the VERY clunky PIRATE FLAG, I almost felt like quitting.

Loved PREFIX and church keys. Thanks for the SEMITE clue.

chefbea 2:16 PM  

I use the pointy end of the church key all the time....
to break the vacuum seal of most jars

Clark 2:19 PM  

@Rex, you missed the more obvious 'anticipating Thanksgiving' theme. Beginning the preparations for this and that yummy DISH for tomorrow. Looking forward to HOMEY holiday fare, gravy without LUMps, yams made with that sweet TREESAP. Planning to get up with the SUN to start the bread (that contains bits of romano, parmesan and gruyere) in time for dinner. Looking ahead to a good GNAW on a turkey legg, a light CRESS salad, avoiding those pies with crusts like ASBESTOS, hearing the COOS over the pies with flaky crusts, JARS of pickles and olives, cats playing with their new CATNIP mice, clipping the NYT recipe for turkey leftovers ala INDIA. MAN's best friend snoring away under the piano. Crazy people getting ready to start their NOEL shopping day after tomorrow.

I was on the constructors frequency today. Except for ANKH/ROK. Had to google that. Oh well.

Ruth 2:29 PM  

@Charles Bogle, it was Arthur Godfrey, not Jack Paar, FWIW.

sanfranman59 2:43 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 9:43, 11:41, 0.83, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:21, 5:46, 0.93, 32%, Easy-Medium

edith b 3:03 PM  

LUM in reference to the Lum & Abner oldtime radio program showed up in the puzzle not too long ago and has appeared periodically over the years. My quirky memory - how I started doing crossword puzzles in the first place - brought it to the surface as a neon as LAROSA surfaced as well also not long ago as Rex pointed out.

My father was in Korea during that Conflict and I read his letters over the years that he had written to my mother. They were full of references to ROKs.

I didn't get the theme till I came here but it was a simple puzzle to solve nonetheless.

andrea catt michaels 3:57 PM  

Didn't get the theme at all...wrote out all the words I could find and still didn't get it, so I'm loving @Joho!!!!
(And @Clark's! dueling themes!) MUCH more creative than the puzzle itself, to me...
I'm intrigued by @Stephen's comment that themes are not to be hard to find, but to help solving!!!!!!!!
I never even thought of it that way, but I agree! I thought themes were to just show off the constructor's cleverness and have the puzzle hang together in a beautiful way vs those random Fri/Sat ones...
(Kidding, those, I suppose, show off grid construction cleverness...) ;)

@Two Ponies
I'm like, three years too late to have been a hippie, but I remember having a big clunky metal ANKH ring, which I always felt a bit uncomfortable about bec it did look like a cross.

@emba
Hmmm, what to think about the Jewishness angle. My folks are Jews from Brooklyn and the Bronx and I have never heard the expression "church key" either.
My favorite keys are the ones that open sardine cans and you curl things open....

Speaking of which, the puzzle felt very Jewish to me...in a weird way.
It is always odd that SEMITE is for BOTH Arabs and Jews, yet anti-semitic only refers to the Jews...and then you had ARAB in this puzzle (I put in HADJ at first, so lots of untangling there).
Plus I always think of a YENTA as a matchmaker, and maybe nosy...but for a good cause...so I was surprised at the negativity of the gossip/dirt angle, which I suppose is legitimate, but felt off, as I always think of the clues for Jewish things, as I like to tease Will about being the least Jewish person I know, if there can be such a thing!

I guess I'm also too young to know about ROKs, bec I worried for a moment if it was an un-pc thing like gook.

Come to think about it, I wasn't crazy about this whole solving experience, but I couldn't feel why and now I think it did have to do with not getting the theme and then once reading what the theme was, feeling irritated.

Arthur Godfrey, what a prick! And making an unaware LAROSA sing first...ick. Total power trip in the grossest way possible...Like making the orchestra play at a concentration camp.

Wow...I may need to get out for a walk.

Positive note: I didn't know CATT. And I liked the trivia they dug up on EVEREST.

Bill from NJ 5:40 PM  

When I was a teen ager - in the pre twist off days - one always needed a bottle opener. I lived in a middle class neighborhood in the DC suburbs and I remember church key being used as a synonym for bottle opener so I'm not sure of the regional aspects of it.

I was the only Jewish kid in my circle of friends so I'm not sure of the Jewish angle, either.

Martin 6:33 PM  

When I grew up everyone said church key. I grew up in the New York area. Everyone said church key where my wife grew up, in eastern Washington state.

The last time I used the phrase "church key": yesterday. I have one reserved in my tool box for paint cans and my wife swiped it.

My guess is it's generational. If you came of age post-pop-top you are less likely to know the term, regardless of where you grew up or prayed or didn't.

joho 7:23 PM  

I wish everybody a very happy Thanksgiving Day!

chefbea 8:02 PM  

just printed out the puzzle. will do it tonight

PlantieBea 9:04 PM  

I did this last night and am finally sitting down to RP. Funny comment, joho! I found the theme, but considered briefly that this could be a rare themeless Wednesday.

@Stephen: I tried OBJECT for APPLET. I also first entered TOLD for my rat's GNAW.

As Parshtur said, the tarheel name dates back to the old naval stores industry in the South; long leaf pines were tapped for their resin which can be distilled to form turpentine. We still find old pines with the characteristic "cat face" scars from this era. Much of the longleaf pine is now gone.

Just used my church key combo opener to open condensed milk for a pumkin pie. Back to cooking.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

mac 11:06 PM  

Will print the Christina puzzle tomorrow morning, so I can do it when the bird is roasting.

Son baked a big apple pie, with whiskey and honey! Never heard of this before, but it smells good.

sanfranman59 11:59 PM  

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)

Mon 7:13, 6:55, 1.04, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 9:49, 8:40, 1.13, 81%, Challenging
Wed 9:44, 11:41, 0.83, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:41, 1.04, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:07, 4:27, 1.15, 85%, Challenging
Wed 5:03, 5:45, 0.88, 16%, Easy

Stan 12:22 AM  

@andrea-catt

I'm a total shaygetz, but have enough NYC cultural experience to agree with you about the Yenta clue. Yes, matchmaker, maybe busybody or gossip, but in a completely benign way.

Where is my copy of "The Joys of Yiddish"? One of the best (and funniest) reference books ever published.

andrea how do you spell shiksa michaels 4:00 AM  

@Stan
Would a total shaygetz actually know the word Shaygetz???!!!
Stan Getz, yes, but Shaygetz? I didn't even know how to SPELL it till I saw your post!
(You're not Stan Getz by any chance, are you?)
;)

Ulrich 9:11 AM  

@andrea: I thought it was spelled shegetz and referred to a female member of the Getz clan...

Stan 10:02 AM  

@acme: You've uncovered my true identity -- jazz great Stan Getz! But please don't tell anyone.

Ulrich 11:04 AM  

Wow--now we have people from the Great Beyond blogging--heaven must be going high-tech. I guess they had to wait until bandwidth on Earth caught up with them...

TimeTraveller 1:25 PM  

@acme In 1962, wintering in a kibbutz, a sabra who spoke broken English struggled to explain to me that he was an anti-semite because he hated arabs.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

ROKs was commonly used to refer to Rep of Korea soldiers (regulars)--never in my experience to refer to civilians. Katusas (Korean Adjunct To the US Army) were specially assigned ROKs to US Army units--these might have come after the Korean War, and therefore after M. A. S. H. The use of "gook" arose during the Korean War but does not refer to enemy Koreans, but to Koreans because, in the Korean language "gook" means country. Korea is Hangook (or Hanguk) and America is Migook (or Miguk) which sounds like "me gook". It is possible when Koreans referred to themselves as Han-gook or Americans as Mi-gook, the word was formed in the pidgin language used among the mixed troops. It quickly became a low term for Asian nationals and was later taken to the Philippines and Vietnam. Other pidgin words in the Korean-American pidgin lexicon: Numba ten (very bad--opposite of che-il, or number one, the best), slicky boy (thief), to cajo-wa (to steal): "Hey, Katusa, you numba ten slicky boy cajo-wa'd my camera?"

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

I always like an OTR reference. Lum and Abner is a great show! Listen to it here.

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