FRIDAY, Mar. 30, 2007 - David Quarfoot

Friday, March 30, 2007

Solving time: as a rule, I do not rush a Quarfoot puzzle
THEME: Republicans of the late 20th century (or, none)

Orange emailed me late last night, as I was writing my seemingly eternal Stamford recap, and assured me that I would like today's NYT puzzle, and she was not wrong. It went immediately into the "Best of 2007" folder I keep on my desktop. One of the shocking things about going to Stamford is meeting all the constructors you admire and finding out that many of them are, in fact, children. OK, so Quarfoot's probably in his mid-20's, but still, he has no business being that young when his puzzles are so damned good. The rule is: if you are great, you must be old and woolly and out of shape so that I have some way to compare myself favorably to you. None of this young, cool, athletic crap. After having Quarfoot pointed out to me at Stamford, I finally went over to introduce myself and he was very friendly and I turned to introduce myself to whoever it was he was with ... and it was Mike Nothnagel, who is another of my favorite NYT Friday/Saturday constructors. Too much young talent in one place. And nice too. Seriously. It was sickening. Oh, and add Patrick Blindauer to the list of baby-faced talent. Also a really nice guy. Anyway, on to today's fantastic puzzle.

26A: "Miracle on 34th Street" director (Seaton)
27D: Greek sea god (Nereus)

How in the world did I, I of all people, end up stumbling on @#$#-ing [Greek sea god]. Had the "E" in the second position and started writing NEPTUNE only to find that it didn't fit. So I thought "Well, OK, what's his Greek name ... uh ... o my god what is it!?" It was only after I got all the vowels and the "S" that I had a vague idea. Now that it's sitting there, yes, I know (of) it. You don't see NEREUS the way you see APHRODITE or ATHENA or ARES. At least I don't. The intersecting answer SEATON was flat-out unknown to me. Again, I don't know how that's possible. Saw the title and thought "Capra?" No.

1A: With 60-Across, much-heard sound bite of 1988 ("Read my lips / no new taxes!")

First "sound bite of 1988" that came to mind? WHERE'S THE BEEF?! But that was from the 1984 campaign, though, not 1988. Didn't Mondale say it about Gary Hart? Ah, Gary Hart. Donna Rice. "Monkey Business." Sometimes I miss 80's politics. All seems so innocent now. Donna Rice really really needs to be in a puzzle. She and Fawn Hall. But back to the actual answer, which is GREAT, and has perfect rotational symmetry to boot. Gorgeous. This grid is heavily laden with notable Republicans, both in the clues and the answers. First, we have George H.W. Bush with READ MY LIPS, NO NEW TAXES, followed by

2D: "With Reagan" memoir writer (Ed Meese)
30D: Dole's successor in the Senate (Lott)
46A: Org. established by Nixon (EPA)

Three presidents, a presidential candidate / senator, another senator, and an attorney general. All Republicans. I'm surprised these guys agreed to share space with YOKO ONO (38D: "Starpeace" performer).

11A: "The Human Stain" novelist (Roth)
16A: Emperor for only three months (Otho)
12D: It was first performed at Whitehall Palace in 1604 (Othello)

As a lisping solver would say, OTH-ome! ROTH was a gimme and the first entry in the grid. OTHO is a mythical creature as far as I'm concerned, but I'd seen his name before and figured there were too many OTTOs for the answer to simply be OTTO. So, OTHO. OTHELLO was in yesterday's puzzle, which is weirdly coincidental. Nobody ever answered my question about whether the game OTHELLO had a racial component, i.e. are the pieces black and white to signify miscegenation? Inquiring game-players need to know.

Pop Culture Alley

35D: Robin's place (Batcave!) - speaking of Batman, Dave Sullivan has promised me that at next year's Tournament (in Brooklyn! Reserve your room now!), he will come dressed thusly:

So come to the Tournament for that, if nothing else. Seriously, I'm going to be actively advocating that people attend the tournament next year, no matter how poor a solver you think you are. It's so much fun that, believe me, you won't care (much) about your times. If you like puzzles enough to read this stupid blog, then you Definitely like them enough to go to the ACPT. Plus, I can almost promise you that you will kick Phil Donahue's ass, which should at least give you some small amount of satisfaction. (I take it back, I love you Phil, please tell your wife that "Free to Be You and Me" is the defining album of my childhood)

54A: 1999 Jodie Foster title role (Anna) - "Nell!?" Damn, wrong year. O how badly I wanted Nell. The very word makes me think of my sister making fun of that movie, which sounds cruel but is actually hilarious.

48A: Some dolls (Kens) - True enough. I also would have accepted [Dolls without balls]

59A: Actress Sommer (Elke) - I know her name well, though she's before my time. Was she ever on "Match Game?" How do I know her? Well, she was on "The Muppet Show" once, so that's a possibility. I know I own an old movie tie-in paperback with a sexy picture of her on the cover, but I can't be bothered to search through thousands of books right now. The movie was called "Deadlier Than the Male" (1966).

45D: Miller's "S.N.L." "Weekend Update" successor (Nealon)

And thus began the long march into unfunny Miller successors until finally Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon got hold of the gig and made it good again.

39D: Brand available in "fire" and "ice" (Dentyne)
53A: Pop label (Pepsi)

I miss non-X-treme gum. [Pop label] is a good clue, in that could have been a lot of things, including my first thought, a record label.

Colloquial Goodness

14D: Hood moniker (home boy) - there was a "Hood" clue in the Tournament's A Finals, too: [Hood ornaments] => PINKY RINGS. I was not sure then, nor am I sure now, if HOOD meant "criminal" or HOOD meant (presumably black) "neighborHOOD," as in "Boyz 'N the HOOD." Here, the meaning seems to be the latter.

29A: "We definitely should" ("Yes, let's") - Good, and yet the only person I can imagine uttering this phrase unironically would be someone replying to the question: "Shall we purchase a TEA COZY (31A: Service cover-up?) for Aunt Martha?" So genteel.

8D: Bored with life, say (in a rut) - yes ... I know this feeling

40D: Pitch (deep six) - is this related to "eighty-six?" No, but they mean remarkably similar things.
Vocal Stylings
  • 38D: "Starpeace" performer (Yoko Ono)
  • 15A: Singer of the Top 10 hit "Walk on Water" (Eddie Money) - really wanted Neil Diamond here
  • 6D: First name in exotica music (Yma) - AMY backwards
  • 10D: Jazz singer Sylvia (Syms)
  • 28A: Range of some robe wearers? (alto) - niiiiice clue
Final thoughts: a couple of literary clues were troubling to me. First, I feel like I should have known 3D: 1821 elegy to commemorate Keats (Adonais), but didn't. Sounds like something Shelley would write. . . and I'm right. Second, I gotta quibble, mildly, with 7D: Teases (Lolitas). I know that this is an accepted dictionary definition of the word, but dear god it's a difficult definition to believe if you've ever read the (incredible) novel. There is "teasing," of a sort, that goes on in the book, but to call Lolita "a tease" is to ignore the exceeding mental and physical cruelty of Humbert Humbert. Hmmm, what else? Oh, I had PE- for a long time before having that "D'oh!" moment when I finally realized that 56D: Place of worship was PEW. And finally I'm proud to say that I didn't fall for the old letter trick in 37D: Knuckle head? (silent K). It did help, however, that the first letter I had in place ... was the "K."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


barrywep 11:52 AM  

Too bad Manny Nosowsky wasn't at Stamford. He is more your image of what a Saturday constructor should be like (deleting all the derogatory connotations).

Linda G 12:13 PM  

Well, I fell for the SILENTK. Even after the SW was finished, I stared at it wondering what the f@#% I'd done wrong.

I can't explain the immediate gimme on things like BATCAVE and SALINES, without having any of the acrosses in place (started with downs today). But then why do I stare stupidly/dazedly at others that should have been easy?

I took Greek mythology and never heard him referred to as NEREUS. I also tried to fit in NEPTUNE, thinking maybe they threw a rebus at us as an early April Fool joke.

And I loved the Rex clue for KENS. Doubt it would pass the NYT breakfast table test.

I've seen some of the Stamford photos (disappointed that you weren't in any) and was also amazed at the youthfulness of some of the constructors. I am so excited about going next year, although saying you're going to Brooklyn doesn't have the same ring. That'll be a tough verbal switch for long-time attendees.

Orange 12:30 PM  

Rex, maybe you should link to your jaunty-elbowed picture (thereby ruining the mystery).

Anonymous 12:35 PM  


Nereus is "The Old Man of the Sea" in Homer. He is not the same as Neptune (Roman god) or Poseidon Greek). His daughters are more popular in crosswords clued as sea nymphs: Nereid/Nereis. I too was stuck on Poseidon/Neptune although once I figured it out was suprised I did not get it originally.


barrywep 12:36 PM  

The reference to BATCAVE should have reminded you that superheroes need to protect their secret identities. Rex can't have people accosting him on the street for crossword tips. He wouldn't have time for his important missions.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Rex should've mentioned I threatened to inflict my tight-garbed presence on next year's ACPT participants due to the caption on this photo:

which used to read "?, Amy Reynaldo and Byron Walden" until I emailed them to reveal my true identity (when I'm not assuming my superhero persona).

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

RE: "...this stupid blog..."

To paraphrase John Steinbeck:
Many things it is, but stupid it is not.

RE: Yma

I was told that Amy Camus began her recording career as Yma Sumac because she did not succeed at her Met audition.

Linda G 3:31 PM  


I must indeed seem stupid--first ROE, now this. I assure you that I am not, having graduated summa cum laude. Although when I can't remember something, my husband likes to tease that I got an A on the test and I got an A in the class (before doing a brain dump).

Amy, I did see a picture from the Cru dinner. Thought I remembered reading that Rex was at your table, but I didn't see anyone who looked as nerdy as Rex claims to be.

So, evad, you're the infamous ?

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

None other but. You may also refer to me as "The 286th best puzzle solver in the universe," but among such lofty company as they who visit herein, that and four and change may buy you a Venti Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino® at your local Starbucks.

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

Nealon was OK, Norm McDonald was funny, Colin Quinn was the worst ever, and Jimmy Fallon is a smug piece of crap who ruined almost every skit he was in by laughing like an idiot at his own horrible jokes. If you watch the More Cowbell skit, he almost ruins it in the beginning after Walken delivers his first or second line. God I hate Jimmy Fallon.

Rex Parker 5:21 PM  

I really liked Jimmy Fallon on SNL, and his breaking up is one of the things that makes "More Cowbell" so memorable. I have a comedy CD of Fallon's that my sister got me, and even that is pretty damn funny. That said, you would have had to drug me hard to get me to go see that movie where he is somehow in a taxi cab with Queen Latifah.


Anonymous 5:37 PM  


I don't think anybody on this blog is stupid, especially not you. Although, I felt stupid doing this puzzle as I had to cheat to google the "read my lips" as I only had "read my" for 1 across. I have not done Friday's puzzle in years. I only have been doing Sunday's for the last few years. This year I started doing the daily ones again but not Friday's. I used to do them years ago (except fot Fridays and Saturdays) but felt addicted,so I gave them up except for SUnday's. It was this blog that encouraged me to attempt Friday's as i wanted to see what Rex had to say. I never thought I would be reading blogs, let alone responding to them -- go know?


Campesite 5:54 PM  

I love Amy Poehler, and so must SNL as she's in just about every sketch. Apparently she's hilarious in Blades of Glory (opening today). As for SNL, I'd say this current female cast is the strongest since the Gilda days.

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

Quarfoot! What a great name. In my nerdliness, I had to see if "quar" actually means anything, and it does (a card game from the Middle Ages).

Linda G 6:24 PM  

Is Blades of Glory the movie that several people said that they weren't going to see -- maybe two or three times?

Looking back at the Cru dinner pix, I see that the person I thought might be Rex actually was evad, formerly known as ?

I will forever fantasize that Rex looks like his blog photo. There's just something about that guy.

Profphil, I really didn't think you thought I was stupid. You're right that no one on this site is. I sometimes have to Google a few things from Friday on, especially more contemporary films, actors, etc. -- the gimmes for the younger bloggers. But it's exciting when I retain what I've learned for the next puzzle.

Rex Parker 6:31 PM  

As long as someone, somewhere, is fantasizing about me, Linda, I'm Quite Happy.

This erstwhile medievalist is happy (I think) to know that Quar was a medieval card game. I'll have to look that up.


Anonymous 6:41 PM  


Glad to hear that somebody else occasionally googles for an answer. I was feeling like I'm the only one who has occasionally in desperation googled. As far as those pop culture clues, which I'm too old for, I worry that if I don't keep up with pop culture, I won't be able to do the croosword when I retire (not likely to happen - retire- unfortunately) as I'll be clueless on the Pop culture. A pretty neurotic reason to keep up with the inanities of our time, though.


Anonymous 6:55 PM  

I liked the word THON. It somehow reminded me of another favorite word, THOTH, which is the Egyptian god of writing!

I was somewhat thrown by the "one of Canada's two main political parties" reference. I think people in Canada might argue there are four main political parties. The LIBeral and Conservative parties have more people in them, probably, but the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois also have representation in Parliament and often form coalitions with the opposition party to give the party in power a run for its money, especially when the latter has a slim mandate. Your lesson in Canadiana from someone who loves Canada.

Rex Parker 7:01 PM  

And when I see THON, all I can think is THONG. So close.


DONALD 7:04 PM  

Bush,mush, Bush! David Quarfoot’s construction is a thick meek messy mass of a puzzle bracketed at the top and bottom with George (after the King and Washington) III’s infamous lie READMYLIPS NOMORETAXES. The disparity of clues and answers in between are a farrago of fill with nothing relating to anything else -- RESTDAY, EDMEESE and ADONAIS share a corner; OTHELLO, THERITZ and HOMEBOY another; BATCAVE, ETERNAL and SILENTK occupy a bunker in the lower left, with DEEPSIX, EPISODE and SALINES finishing off the mishmash. The closest the puzzle comes to symmetry is the asymmetrical placement of two screechers whose names begin with the letter Y.

Is the BATCAVE really “Robin’s place”? -- I had the impression he just hung out there! Hey, OTHELLO is a leftover from yesterday’s puzzle, and HOLYPERSON is clued as “Cardinal, e.g.", oh come on! Such uninspired standard entries as DEAD, TENET, IRIS, STUD, ALTO, ROAM, TEL, CREE, ANNA, VATS, PEW, EPA, ACTI, RAT, ORO, SERB, MERE, MEET, AHEM, OTHO crowd together, while BESTBUY, DENTYNE and PEPSI get free commercials and crusty Republicans LOTT, EDMEESE, Dole, Nixon and Reagan dance in the same maze as LOLITAS, a VEIL and a TEACOZY -- where was George the IV? -- TGIF!

Anonymous 7:17 PM  

Well, from over here two things tripped me up. How could I not get "tea cozy"?? But, sure enough I wanted to make it "top coat" or "lab coat." And how could I not get "The Ritz" right away....geez. I survived that eventually though.

Next problem....55A --surely it should be "high priest" (I knew "red bird" wouldn't work, I got that going for me.) :)

Rex -- I had "Nell" in there right away too (54A) and tried to "make" it work for awhile. Had to Google for "Anna" -- after that aha! Things started to make sense.

Really liked the puzzle.

Anonymous 8:37 PM  


Loved reading your play-by-play of my puzz today. How fun you are! I was shocked to reach the bottom and see 21 comments. I remember the days when your blog was the calm place to be. Now it's up there with the biggies - Reynaldo and NYT Forum. You've created quite the empire. Kudos!

Also, it was really nice meeting you at this year's ACPT. I only wished that we had more time to chat - unfortunately everyone was chirping away about dinner plans.

Keep up the great work,


Anonymous 1:04 AM  

I can chime in with the some of the rest and say that I was not only googling to get through this one, I was ALSO fantasizing about Rex!

Linda G, I have got to meet you!

And Donald, that was quite a rant there. Have to say I agreed with you a bit on this one. It felt too much like work. When I have this much trouble with a puzzle, I like to be rewarded at the end by some clever twist. (No offense, Quar, really.)

OK, may I see Dave Sullivan in his tights now? Please?!

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Hey, DQ, for a real shocker see the January 30 blog (shown as sidebar "The great PFUI controversy" on Rex's site.) A total of 40 comments as of a few minutes ago. Six weeks after the original, readers were still commenting. I expect the number will continue to grow because of the sidebar. Long Live the King!

One of the Many Fans

Anonymous 4:58 PM  

Hey Rex,

First, DQ has once again graced us with a masterpiece. There wasn't any part of this puzzle I didn't like, even the "uninspired standard entries".

Second, I second DQ's regret about not being able to chat with you longer in Stamford. After all the nice things you've said about my puzzles, it would have been nice to talk for more than a couple of minutes.

Thanks, as always --

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

This puzzle was way over my head. I had to google uncontrollably.

I really didn't like some of the cluing, though I guess it's just par for Friday.

Why is Do-do link "As I"? Isn't the saying "Do as I say, not as I do?"

I also didn't like "flouts" for "derides", though I see from the dictionary entry that it's a secondary usage.

Who discovers a rat in a drainpipe?

I guess that's enough for now. I'll just slink off to my corner and lick my Friday wounds.

Anonymous 7:37 PM  

Checking in from 6 weeks in the past. Todays effort was a split session for me, 3 cups of tea in the AM and I was into my second cup of coffee in the afternoon before I could log on here.

Third cup of tea, smattering of fill and guesses all over, panic rising in throat, then YOKO ONO sets me straight, and tells me that MINT (With no imperfections) is actually TO A T, and THON (which I wanted) now fits. Then came the breakthrough: NO NEW TAXES.

The rest of the puzzle was still enjoyably challenging, and I had to resist the temptation to google a few things, but I finished it with no googling, and only one error. (that temptation seems easier to resist now that I have joined the regulars here) I had DECIDES for DERIDES. I still think that is a better answer, because you can flout someone's...... Never mind, checked the dictionary, and it seems that the act of flouting carries with it the connotation of derision. (sorry I doubted you DQ)

That was the area I finished last. I had only TO.E.. for (exercise), and I had NERIDS, but that was a plural answer for a singular clue. I actually had to parse through the alphabet for TONE UP, which gave me the "U" and inferred that NEREUS must have a relationship, paternal or otherwise, to the NEREIDS. (Yup, paternal is right, in spades! seems the old goat had fifty daughters!)

Didn't know Kevin Nealon, (recognize the face though) I wonder how many solvers thought FALLON was a gimme here. DQ could have easily clued it to set that trap. One wonders if he considered it.

Wendy, it could be argued that the Liberals and Conservatives are the two main parties, and the NDP and the BQ are secondaries.

Donald, do you ever get a cramp in your tongue from keeping it in your cheek?

Rhonda, Googling is not cheating. Cheating would be coming here for your answers. The joy is in trying to keep it to a minimum. I think your comments on the cluing are valid

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

I liked this puzzle. That said, it was very google friendly (I did not). This means many facty (?) clues/answers (e.g. 16A otho) and not as many that need to be deciphered (e.g. 37D silent K). To be successful at facty puzzles you need to have a lot of s**t floating around in your head.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in an Elke Somer movie rent "Shot in the Dark." It was one of the first pink panther movies with Peter Sellers and IMHO is one the funniest movies I've ever seen.

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