1965 Vivien Leigh movie / TUE 6-22-10 / Hockshop receipt / Old comics boy with dog Tige / Hallucinogen-yielding cactus

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: GHOST (36A: Word game ... or a word that can precede the starts of 18-, 26-, 43- and 54-Across) — clue pretty much says it all: GHOST TOWN, GHOST SHIP, GHOSTBUSTER, GHOST STORY

Word of the Day: GHOST

Ghost is a word game in which players take turns adding letters to a growing word fragment, trying not to be the one to complete a valid word. If a player completes a word, they lose that round of the game and starts a new round. Each fragment must be the beginning of an actual word. Usually some minimum is set on the length of a word that counts, such as three or four letters. (wikipedia)
• • •

Though I feel as if I've said this before, I'll say it now anyway: I've never heard of "GHOST." This made not one bit of difference to my ability to solve this puzzle quickly, which says something about how much gleaning the theme means to my efficient dispatching of early-week puzzles (not at all, usually). I was impressed by the wide open spaces in the N-to-W and E-to-S sections, and I thought the bottom half of the grid in particular was very smoothly filled. Not fond of the "OF" pile-up. Don't like words recurring. Don't like words recurring *and* intersecting. So recurring and intersecting and intersecting again!? Superbad. And not the good kind of superbad. The bad kind (TEN OF, A LOT OF, SHIP OF ...). There's oddly a lot of intersecting letter strings to go with this OF madness, including two four-letter strings (AIREs in East, ARKSs in West), and two more threes (BUS and ERR, both in SW). The latter are negligible and I wouldn't have gone looking for them had there not been the fours and the OFs.

Theme answers are boring and this "word that can precede" stuff is pretty old hat—needs something odd or spicy to make it interesting. I guess no good phrases start with "WHISPERER" or "WRITER" or "FACE KILLAH."

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Governing body of a municipality (TOWN COUNCIL)
  • 26A: 1965 Vivien Leigh movie ("SHIP OF FOOLS")
  • 43A: Old comics boy with the dog Tige (BUSTER BROWN)
  • 54A: Center of attention around a campfire say (STORY TELLER)

Only hold-up of any note came as I tried to escape the NW. PAWN ... ? TICKET never occurred to me (3D: Hockshop receipt). Even now, it seems too simple, despite clearly being right. I'm pretty sure my brain went "BROKER?" and then quit. I ended up picking up that western section at the very end of the solve. Other miscues: BACK DOOR for SIDE DOOR (51A: Delivery entrance, maybe); HEEDS for HARKS (27D: Pays attention); COYOTE for PEYOTE — that was a no-look entry that backfired (62A: Hallucinogen-yielding cactus); and RESINS (?) for STAINS (59A: Deck treatments). Despite my well-documented non-love for "Seinfeld," I managed to pick up the ELAINE / JERRY pair easily (15A: Sitcom pal of 46-Down + 46D: Former boyfriend of 15-Across). In fact, I wrote in ELAINE from just a cross or two, and just hoped that the cross-referenced clue would somehow involve "Seinfeld"; bingo.

  • 4A: Female TV dog played by males (LASSIE) — so this is why we never see LASSIE pee...
  • 29D: Field of Plato and Aristotle (PHILOSOPHY) — just before solving, I was reading about artist Cy Twombly's "Five Greek Poets and a Philosopher" in John Waters' (new, excellent, inspirational) memoir, "Role Models." Names scrawled on pieces of white paper in giant, uneven caps. Of potential puzzling interest: Twombly served in the army as a cryptologist (wikipedia).
  • 52D: Occasionally punted comics canine (ODIE) — nice, odd, funny-sounding clue. Demonstrates a strangely deep knowledge of "Garfield" lore. I know Garfield hates Mondays and loves lasagna. I don't know much more. And I'm pretty sure I used to have "Garfield" bedsheets as a child.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Greene 7:27 AM  

Easy, straightforward Tuesday puzzle that played out like a Monday for me. Nothing particularly challenging here, which is just fine.

I noticed the GLUT of Os and Fs in the NW region with the intersecting OFs. Thought it a bit strange and then moved on.

I've heard of GHOST, but have never played it and didn't really know exactly how it worked.

Speaking of "Box Office Hit" (SMASH), on a recent NY trip I caught the new Broadway production of August Wilson's drama Fences with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. In a word: stunning. Theatre was mobbed playing at 102% of capacity. Definitely SRO.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 7:49 AM  

"Daytona 500" FTW! The RZA loved that Bob James sample so much he used at least twice. But what's up with that vid? Cappa's verse got cut.

dk 7:55 AM  

Had heeds and reardoor for a few seconds. Otherwise, no problems. Knew BUSTERROWN, SHIPOFFOOLS, LASSIE and KERR never heard of GHOST.

Wish this one had vampires, werewolves and zombies. Oh well, perhaps the undead will appear another day.

That said, some interesting fill with PHAT, PAWNTICKET and DEPOSE.

** (2 Stars) Fine puzzle, Thank you Barry.

secret word is mia?????

joho 8:04 AM  

I also have never heard of GHOST. We always played Hangman. Now that I think of it, that's pretty grisly.

To borrow what @foodie said yesterday, I liked this puzzle but I didn't love it. Which is unusual for my reaction to Barry Silk. He's one of the very best.

I did love seeing ELAINE and JERRY together however.

Doug 8:15 AM  

Never heard of ghost either. Rest of puzzle was easy. How Rex managed to mention Twombly from this puzzle is strange but I think he's a terrific artist so no complaints. Especially since I'm not a Seinfeld fan and think his sitcom was the most overrated show on TV. His zillion car garage is down the block from me, btw.

mexgirl 8:42 AM  

I would just like to point out that those south-of-the-border outlaws are BANDIDOS, not BANDITOS. That's the Spanish spelling; and since there is an explicit distinction here as to from where they are, I think the answer is wrong. I left my puzzle reading ALODOF. Same thing, right?

Off to see Mexico play against Uruguay at the World Cup!

chefbea 8:42 AM  

Finished this before my bowl of cereal was gone. Very easy Tuesday.
I also have heard of ghost but never played it. Maybe Andrea has.

Leslie 8:45 AM  

Mexgirl, that's what I thought! (Re the bandido/bandito spelling.)

My captcha word today is "sumshi." I guess that's a combo of sushi and dim sum.

jesser 8:47 AM  

Howdy. I didn't much care for this one, although 62A reminded me of a few wonderful weekends in college. I have a horticulturist friend who still has some growing in his greenhouse, and we occasionally threaten to relive our youthful indiscretions, but so far it's been all talk, no cactus. YET.

JUTE? The hell ya say.

Stupidest mistake for me was entering (confidently!) OffEnSE at 41D. 47A saved me from myself.

And as a former denizen of America's 4th largest city, I can tell you that Houston is not ZONED. But the clue remains accurate, I suppose.

Bonings! (Honest. And no comment) -- jesser

Dough 8:54 AM  

Used to play Ghost in the car with the family. Kinda like when you text and the phone suggests what words you might be typing. It was a fine puzzle, but I really didn't like the entry "STORY TELLER" because those stories around the campfire are usually Ghost Stories, so the entry kinda became GHOST STORY TELLER, which isn't what this puzzle was about. No matter. Back to what you were doing ...

ArtLvr 9:37 AM  

We played GHOST around the dinner table when there were combined families together... Three-letter words didn't count toward the penalty of being the person who had to end a word, but ending a longer word as choices of an added letter narrowed got you a letter toward the five in the word G-H-O-S-T. You could also get a letter if you challenged the person before you to prove he had a real word and you lost.

When you had all five of the letters, you were out of the spelling contest -- but you were a Ghost and no one was supposed to speak to you! If you could trick someone into responding to your questions, that person also became a Ghost... It worked well with the kids, with much giggling and nobody asking to be excused from the table.


Van55 9:38 AM  

Very easy and a bit humdrum for my taste. I expect better things from Mr. Silk and he usually delivers them.

Will we have a bandito problemo today? Spanish language solvers are just going to have to get used to the American misspellings, in my opinion.

Martin 10:02 AM  

Actually, bandito is the original spelling, straight from Italian. The 1591 citation M-W refers to is from 2 Henry VI (see line 2303). The spelling "bandito" and "banditti" persisted until the 19th century, when "bandit" became preferred. Because the original Italian is closer to the Spanish, it continued to be used for Mexican outlaws.

To an Italian, "bandit" is the misspelling.

fikink 10:11 AM  

We actually used to play GHOST in the car on vacations.
SHIP OF FOOLS is one of my favorite movies. Simon the dog was often called, "Simone Signoret," (the "worldly" woman in that movie) even though Simon was male.
Rex posted an old Hippie sign, the likes I recall seeing.
PEYOTE was in the puzzle. I anticipate a story from @dk.
PHILOSOPHY will hopefully bring @clark to the fore.
Today is Garfield's birthday, isn't it?
Here comes the sun.
Life is good.

retired_chemist 10:23 AM  

Easier than yesterday for me. Also had BANDIDOS but was willing to be flexible when A LOT OF appeared. A LOT OF describes how much GHOST we played in college. Favorite memory was when Allen Van Gelder added a D to CROQU and responded CROQUDILE to the inevitable challenge.

What an eclectic puzzle - we do PEYOTE (perhaps looking out for the SFPD), have MEHTA CDs, know ELAINE and JERRY, are HIP enough to say PHAT, and have a baseball player next to a shock jock. Something for everybody - and I bet others googled SHIP OF FOOLS too.

Thanks, Mr. Silk - always a trip.

You say "potahdoe" 10:23 AM  

Although @Martin has again provided a *definitive* answer to the BANDITO issue, I predict we will continue to from the "I-don't-care-what-you-say-..." crowd.

Puzzle Americano!

Two Ponies 10:25 AM  

Maybe Mr. Silk should stick with later-week puzzles where he always shines.

Anything that grows wild should be legal. Peyote is a good thing. The Indians knew.

Hand up for never having heard of ghost. Maybe this would have been more fun had I known. I got it easily but no joy of discovery.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

somehow i read 3D as "hopscotch recipient" boy did that slow me up! next step, get eyes checked!!

The Frito Bandito 10:35 AM  

Aye, yii, yii, yiiii,
I am the Frito Bandito.
I like Frito's Corn Chips,
I love them I do.
I want Frito's Corn Chips,
I'll get them from you.

Aye, yii, yii, yiiii,
Oh, I am the Frito Bandito.
Give me Frito Corn chips
And I'll be your friend.
The Frito Bandito
You must not offend.

dBGeezer 10:56 AM  

I was surprised that most of the early responders had not heard of GHOST. One of the advantages of my age (and perhaps for those others very familiar with the game) is that playing ghost was preferable to the current family entertainment of looking at TV or twittering.

Tinbeni 11:06 AM  

Probably never heard of the GHOST game due to:
1) Don't have kids
2) Being a fritos BANDITOS with the munchies caused by todays PEYOTE or yesterdays WEED.

MC 11:08 AM  

I really wanted REFS for 19D (British, and the World Cup is on ... what can I say?).

Had LOOKS for 27D and therefore "safe havens" was "AOKS" ... y'know, everything's AOK. And the movie was "SLIP OF FOOLS" - well, I'll claim that one.

I love the word "OBVERSE", just as I love seeing "VERSO" come up in a cryptic (eg "What's left in a book")

Played GHOST a lot in my youth, also superghost (you can add to either end). Favourite combination was NINAB .... "chicken-in-a-basket".

Didn't like that SELA and MEHTA crossed (I hadn't heard of either) but otherwise a not-too-troubling Tuesday.

Moonchild 11:27 AM  

Thanks Frito Bandito!
You are exactly why I put in the "t" without hesitating.
Easy puzzle without much of a payoff.
I did like all of the canine answers and clues. 38A nearly was one too, as in Airedale.
I forgot to say Happy Solstice yesterday.
I can't say that I enjoy watching the days grow shorter now.

Stan 11:34 AM  

Consistent, Tuesday-level answers made for an enjoyable solve. PEYOTE, BUSTER BROWN, and PAWN TICKET livened things up, for me anyway.

Rex's Lassie comment was a bona fide LOL moment in the Stan household.

Clark 11:34 AM  

Ok, @fikink, here goes:

Old Sol Bloom lay dying in his bed, when he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite strudel wafting up the stairs. He gathered his remaining strength and lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom and forced himself down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands. With labored breath, he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the kitchen.

If it weren't for the pain in his chest, he would have thought he was already in Heaven. There, spread out on paper towels on the kitchen table, were literally hundreds of pieces of his favorite pastry. Sol smile; this was one final act of love from his devoted wife, Sophie, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man.

With quivering hand he reached for a piece of the strudel. Suddenly he felt the slap of a spatula.

"Stay out of those," Sophie said. "They're for after."

(from Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates by Cathcart and Klein.)

lit.doc 12:00 PM  

It’s an odd day when the most interesting thing about a Barry Silk puzzle is the number of unsurprising write-overs built into it. CITY/TOWN COUNCIL, RATIO/TEN OF, HEMP/JUTE, and BACK/SIDE DOOR. UTES/OTOE could easily enough have been on the list, but the coin toss went my way (shoulda checked a cross or two, but that would’ve taken more time than just fixing the squares as I came back across them).

Also had D as in BANDIDO till I checked before printing and noticed A LOD OF. An amount just short of a LOAD, I guess.

I don’t believe in GHOST and have never seen one.

Zeke 12:12 PM  

I stand in awe of a 40 year old man who, un-prompted, admits to having had Garfield sheets as a child.

CaseAceFos 12:19 PM  

I, for one, still sleep between Garfield sheets, as I feel I'm still a pup at heart!

The Big E 12:41 PM  

@Zeke and CaseAceFos - I think admitting to such is pretty awesome (I'm 36). I had under-roos as a kid, and feel no shame in admitting that! (I think my sheets were superman and mickey mouse, though).

I feel the last couple of days have sparked my Spangish speaking, so I have no problemo in writing banditos!

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

Sometimes I overthink answers, I guess... it didn't occur to me that 29D (field of Plato and Aristotle) could be as obvious as "PHILOSOPHY." I was thinking it had to be, I dunno, metaphysics, or epistemology or something. Maybe that's what they would do on Thursday or later.

And even when I had the beginning "P" filled in, my first thought was "PEDOPHILIA." Maybe I need help.

Masked and Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Things I got a charge out OF: Recycled OF's subtheme, peyote, DIY, a smattering of U's, Rod (can hit 300 with eyes shut) CAREW, and 44's grousin' fine puz writeup.

Things I didn't know, but it didn't seem to hurt me none: Souvlaki, MEHTA (pleased to meetyah!), JUTE, SELA Ward (or Ward Sela?), LASSIE's trans-gender experimentin', 44's aversion to Seinfeld, ODIE vis-a-vis puntin', and 44's choice of sheets.

Things I had just learned, but didn't seem to help me none: SUVA (capital of Fiji), MENEM (Carlos ___, former Argentine prez where "the peso stops here" at), MEDE (subject of Cyrus the Great). They was all in Erul's last puz. (Thanks to T-Rex, Erul did not play the backwards-word card one time.)

Thumbs up! Nice, wide open grid for a TuesPuz, 'cept for its engine light comin' on, in that F-over-FF area.

mac 2:57 PM  

Easy, easy puzzle, but I liked the peyote, harks and obverse. Don't know the game, but I would think we puzzle types would enjoy it.

LOL at Rex's line about Lassie!

@Clark: thank you for that tale!

I'm barbecueing lamb with rosemary and garlic tonight. Kabob or kebab.

Sfingi 3:07 PM  

Smooth, no write-overs.

@Rex - thanx for the Ship of Fools trailer. Great Film. Loved George Segal. I just picked up a copy of King Rat, one of the best movies ever made.

Also didn't know GHOST as a game, but the Pacman ghosts remind me that we had some great Pacman games to teach math and spelling. Floppy disks.

@Anon1241 - Some of these Ancient Greeks were pedophiles. So, who's sick?

My son, 35 now, had a Garfield that he forgot in a hotel, and they returned it to him in the mail!

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

@ You say "potahdoe"

The etymology may be "definitive," but it is irreverent to the clue at hand. The clue asks for SOUTH OF THE BORDER. Last time I checked, that means Mexico, not Spain. In Mexico the word is bandidos, not banditos.

This issue reminds me of the people who justify the correctness of "nan" as a proper spelling for a clue about the INDIAN flatbread. "Nan" has never been used in India, in any Indian restaurant, or in any Indian home at any point in time. "Nan," on the other hand, is used in some Turkic languages for a type of flatbread. If the answer to the clue is going to be "nan," it is blatantly incorrect to use the Indian flatbread as the clue.

Are you going argue that too?

sanfranman59 3:17 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)

Tue 7:52, 8:48, 0.89, 19%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:15, 4:30, 0.94, 32%, Easy-Medium

The Big E 3:25 PM  

Here are the menus of just three of the many, many restaurants (at least in NYC) that use "nan" as a variant spelling of "naan."



This last one is the restaurant Gandhi - and if Gandhi tells me I can spell it "NAN," then I will listen! :-)

chefwen 3:32 PM  

@mac - according to my Classic Turkish Cookery book, Kabab. Sounds like a great dinner to me.

Puzzle was super easy, I like a little more of a challenge from Mr. Silk, but I did like it. Only write overs were BANDITOS over bandidos and TEN OF over TEN to.

capcha - polypea! someone come up with something good, I'm not that clever.

Martin 4:32 PM  

@Anonymous 3:07

"Bandito" is an English word with an Italian origin. Did you read the M-W entry? The definition of "bandito" is "an outlaw especially of Mexican extraction or origin." "South-of-the-border" just means "Mexican." That definition and the clue are an exact match. Assuming you meant "irrelevant," I don't understand the reason. Nowhere in the discussion today did Spain come up.

But I get it. You don't like the word.

Isn't "polypea" another word for "pod"?

andrea OF michaels 4:36 PM  

Why drag me into this? ;)
But yes, lots OF G-H-O-S-T as a kid, backseats of cars, etc. I love the idea OF Super Ghost that MC @ 11:08am mentioned!

On the other hand, I've never heard OF Garfield sheets.

Steve J 4:51 PM  

I'm yet another person who never heard of Ghost as a game. And another person for whom the theme revealer contributed nothing to my ability to solve the puzzle. Breezed through this one in what's a slightly slow Monday time for me.

I'm prone to arguing a fair number of Martin's defenses as being too literal, not considering actual usage, etc., but the defense of BANDITO is unassailable in this case. BANDITO is in fact an English word meaning a Mexican bandit. While the "south of the border" qualifier is used frequently as an indicator of a foreign word, there's nothing that says that's exclusively what that phrase can mean.

And I love Indian flatbread, regardless of whether it's spelled naan or nan or even non (not to mention the inherent futility of arguing the correct spelling of a transliterated word).

fikink 5:02 PM  

@anonymous 12:41, you're just fine.

@clark - excellent! Reminds me of a tale where it turns out Descartes really wrote for posterity, "I think they're for 1 a.m."

@mac, I always spelled it "kebobs," but that could be Midwestern cookbooks

Our weekend guests divided evenly between Sudoku and the crossword puzzle over Sunday brunch and there ensued a lengthy back-and-forth on the virtues of each, the likes of which you hear on the PC-Mac commercials.

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

The problem with 'nan' as a variant spelling is the fact that it allows for a mispronunciation of the word, one that rhymes with the name 'Dan.' Naan is pronounced like 'Caan,' as in James Caan. Interesting to see and hear that many restaurants in NYC spell it that way. I've never seen it spelled that way anywhere. I suppose one restaurant's mistake lead to a chain reaction of sorts.

As for banditos and bandidos, I think Martin and the others are correct in saying the former is right on the money.

The puzzle itself? Felt more like a Monday and was quite ho-hum IMO.

Fantastic site by the way, Rex. The folks posting comments are also awesome! I should really register or something.

chefbea 5:48 PM  

@anonymous 5:40 Yes you should join us with a name!!!

fikink 5:50 PM  

@anonymous at 5:40, do come join us and get an avatar so that we can recognize you when we scan the posts. (We always look for Rex's Captain Billy, too, so we can make sure we are behaving ourselves.)
@Jesser drove in unannounced and now we see him coming in his wild-ass Jeep.

speeda - a female swimsuit

You say "potahdoe" 6:11 PM  

@anon 3:07pm

The clue was "South-of-the-border outlaws", not *Outlaws, south-of-the-border*.

To me, the former remains an American answer, the latter, could have signaled a Mexican/Spanish answer.

Once again --- Puzzle Americano

In a similar vein, my local Indian restaraunt uses *nan* on their menu, so, at least around here, (in the USA) nan = Indian flatbread.

Martin 7:00 PM  

Ludwig vaan Beethoven, why so waan? Calling a Haan Chinese "mamasaan"?

Sfingi 7:39 PM  

From Cousin Longfellow:

(Stanza 2)
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.
Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

The Children's Hour 1859

Those Garfield sheets are special order.

sanfranman59 10:03 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 6:41, 6:55, 0.97, 45%, Medium
Tue 7:58, 8:48, 0.91, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:36, 3:41, 0.98, 43%, Medium
Tue 4:08, 4:30, 0.92, 23%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

The Bandito mistake probably originated with the Frito Bandito. Remember the little pencil erasers that came in the six-pack of lunchbox bags? They were shaped like the bandiTo himself.

BTW, I've played GHOST for years any time we travel in the car it's a great game for occupying the time. I just never knew the name of the game. Anyone know WHY it's called ghost?

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