FRIDAY, Feb. 16, 2007 - Charles Barasch

Friday, February 16, 2007

Solving time: unknown

THEME: none

Home with Sahra today, so a very, very short entry, comprised entirely of things I didn't know.

  • 1A: Bristly (setose)
  • 4D: 1937 Oscar role for Luise Rainer (Olan)
My one screw-up: had an "A" where the "O" should have been in these intersecting words. My gut told me the word was SETOSE, but then OLAN seemed ridiculous, and ALAN - well, that's at least a recognizable name. Everything about 4D is absolutely nuts. Super arcane. Just 'cause someone won an Oscar doesn't make him/her memorable or interesting. This puzzle was KRAMMED with pop culture arcana. For instance:

  • 40D: Brian of "Juarez," 1939 (Aherne) - again, what? Never heard of him, never heard of the movie, nothing. Sadly (for me), AHERNE sat right next to another answer I didn't know: 39D: The "blood" in bloodstone (jasper) - I know a JASPER. One JASPER. And he looks like this:
  • 54A: Classic 1894 swashbuckler, with "The" ("Prisoner of Zenda") - a familiar title - I own an early paperback version (buried somewhere in my collection) - but it took me a while to piece together. Why? First, its first two letters intersected 39D and 40D, respectively (see above). Second, I thought the Spanish word for "bears" was OROS, then ORAS - that stupid, wrong "R" was where the "S" should have been in "PRISONER."
  • 12A: Henry Clay's estate in Lexington, Ky. (Ashland) - ASHLAND, OR, yes. Every other ASHLAND, no.
  • 43A: 18-Across feeder (Aube) - well, I got 18A: Quai d'Orsay setting (Seine), but when we get down to feeders ... well, you know my feelings about European rivers: too many, and too ridiculously-named. Can't keep 'em straight. Must do some river research before tournament.
  • 45A: Footballer Haynes (Abner) - an AFL running back from the 1960's who played eight seasons with five different teams! Tell me more! [yes, that was sarcasm]
  • 3D: HBO showing of 1975 (Thrilla in Manila) - I didn't know HBO existed back then. I had THRILL and thought briefly that it had something to do with the making of Michael Jackson's video for "Thriller," but that was 8 years later.
  • 9D: Epic achievement? (Cast of thousands) - a good clue, but I spent way too long trying to think of an epic that started CAST OF THE ... CART OF THE ...
  • 25: Two-time A.L. home run champ Tony (Armas) - another sports obscurity. Well, not really. He was a pretty good player in the 80's, but for the life of me I can't remember him, anything about him, his baseball card, nothing. And his career was in my baseball-card collecting sweet spot. His son (Jr.) is a big league player today, currently for the Washington Senators. I mean Nationals.
  • 14D: Carroll creatures (Toves) - I'm embarrassed to say I did not know this, though I recognize it now that I see it. Vaguely.
  • 51D: Glass finish (-ine) - what is glassINE? I guessed this answer, but I don't think I know what entity it refers to. says:
A nearly transparent, resilient glazed paper resistant to the passage of air and grease.
When would I use this?

Must go be a decent father (figure).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Orange 9:26 AM  

Did somebody say "Thriller"?

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Your age is coming into focus -- about 35? Brian Aherne was a very fine and popular actor in the 30's and 40's. Luise Rainer who is still alive and kicking at the good age of 97 retired from films at the advice of her husband Clifford Odets after she won her two Oscars, but made an appearance in a film in the 1990's. OLAN and AHERNE were near pantheonish in crosswords no more than ten years ago when dear Brian Aherne (often cued both ways) died of heart failure at the age of 84 -- incidentally, his good friend George Sanders (ever hear of him?) left a wonderful suicide note: "Dear World: I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck." He married four times, two of them to Gabor sisters, Magda and Zsa Zsa (cue that!) -- fear not, the world of crosswords will fill you with STRANGEGOINGSONs by a CASTOFTHOUSANDS even to a THRILLAINMANILA with a PRISONEROFZENDA!

Oh, what's with a Red Sox fan living in western New York state?

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

35?! HA ha, you flatter him!


Linda G 5:38 PM  

Thank you, Andrew! Rex insulted me (and all Boomers!) in the blog of today's syndicated puzzle (January 5). I'm trying to figure out an emoticon that says smile while sticking tongue out. How's this? ;p

Sorry, r.cane -- I'm almost 20 years beyond your Rex-guess, and I'd never heard of Aherne or Rainer.

Rex Parker 5:53 PM  

35 is in the ballpark.

Is the George Sanders of which you speak THIS guy?

Looks like it. I own two books by him! They were both ghost-written. By women.


C zar 7:12 PM  

This one was slow coming together for me.

OLAN is a past near-pantheon word, but it took me forever to get it because it is usually clued along the lines of "Pearl S Buck heroine" and because I've never heard of SETOSE. "The Good Earth" was one of those books students had to read in the 60's and 70's, usually in about 8th grade, after you'd graduated from "The Outsiders."

Since I'm from the Twin Cities, also had OLIVA in for 25 down for the longest time.

victor 7:40 PM  

glassine is used often used in the storage and protection of fine art...i actually use it often and did not know that was how it was spelt (i thought it was glycine). huh. great great blog. thank you.

Anonymous 10:08 PM  

OLAN is actually O-lan, as far as the character's spelling is concerned. I liked that book as a child, for some reason. Very exotic at the time.

Rex, for your research on French rivers and their "feeders," the following site is unusually well organized, I thought:

Anonymous 11:02 PM  

grrrrr, footballer is just about universally meant to mean a soccer (or rest of the world football) player, not an American football player.

I'm sort of amazed I even finished this puzzled (with extensive help from my good friends google, wikipedia, and the oed).

cornbread hell 12:53 PM  

haha. ABNER haynes! he was my hero when i was about FIVE TO TEN.

Anonymous 10:22 PM  

I got this puzzle with no help (e.g. google, dictionary, etc.) but it took a while. My wife confirmed spanish bears as osas but I had it right. I got prisoner of zenda and cast of thousands early but thrilla ... took longer. My error/hangup was the same as rex's setase for setose. I'm 20+ years older and I've heard of aherne but not rainer/olan. This was a hard friday puzzle. Last week's was easier!

Anonymous 9:03 PM  

I didn't like RECAP REASK REORDER. REpetition!!
This took a little longer than my usual Friday time.

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