SUNDAY, Mar. 11, 2007 - Eric Berlin

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Solving time: half-hour-ish (on paper, in bed)
THEME: "Thinking Green" - five long theme answers are clued by reference to five other answers in the puzzle, the latter of which are all clued [Green _____]

  • 23A: Green 55-Down (knack for growing plants) - where 55D = THUMB
  • 44A: Green 83-Down (special forces soldier) - where 83D = BERET
  • 66A: Green 58-Down (document for immigrants) - where 58D = CARD
  • 90A: Green 9-Down (signal to drive your car) - where 9D = LIGHT
  • 112A: Green 13-Across (what the moon isn't made of) - where 13A = CHEESE

A very spiffy architectural feat. Figuring out the precise phrasing on the answers wasn't too fun, as the answers themselves don't have much zing, but that's the nature of this kind of puzzle - the fun's not in the answers themselves, but in the act of piecing the puzzle together. I tend not to like puzzles where I have to look all over the grid to find my clues - that is, where a clue relies heavily on intra-grid cluing. But this one was cute, in its way. Plus it reminded me of my wife for a few reasons: her favorite color is green, she has a green THUMB, she had a green CARD (before she finally became a citizen), and we both like green CHEESE. Mold = delicious.

10A: "Concord Hymn" writer's inits (R.W.E.)
11D: Early Chinese dynasty (Wei)

My first serious snag in solving this puzzle - which I overcame by totally cheating and asking my wife (seated next to me) "who the hell wrote 'Concord Hymn?'" which she heard as "Concord Him." Once we straightened out the spelling of "hymn," she shrugged and speculated "Emerson?" Ralph Waldo, thank you! I was totally going to put "P" here because PEI sounded like it might be a dynasty. If it can be an architect, it can be a dynasty, I say.

40A: Box in many homes (TiVo)

I love all TIVO and TIVO-related answers. The very word makes me titter. As brand names go, I prefer this one in my puzzles to nearly all others besides IHOP. We just got a TIVO here a couple months ago (actually, not TIVO, but a DVR through Time Warner, which our friend Dana calls "Pseudo-TIVO" and my friend Andrew calls "Ti-Faux"). I do not know how we lived without it. Commercials - zapped. All episodes of favorite shows - captured (unless Ti-Faux hiccups, as it sometimes does). Right now our DVR is filled with episodes of "Heroes" and "Battlestar Galactica" - I wanted to watch first half of "Heroes" season first, but I may not have the patience to wait for re-runs. And as for "BG" - we were nearly caught up, until Ti-Faux decided to stop recording for two weeks, so now we have a gap, and cannot go forward until we fill it.

72A: Cry from a balcony (O Romeo)

Love the "O" here. I was happy to see this answer, not just because I like Shakespeare, but because I already had -EO in place, but those letters seemed Very Shaky to me, coming as they did off of 61D: NASA's _____ Research Center (Ames) and 62D: Old truck maker (REO) - is a "Speedwagon" a "truck?"

74A: Legless creatures (apods)

Had the -PODS part and thought "... yes, it's true, my IPOD has no legs, but I don't get it." Two seconds later, I got it.

76A: Skid row sounds (hics)

The best answer in the grid. Drunk poor people are a nuisance and a downer, except in comic books and cartoons when they are hilarious. I think the best part of the clue is that it doesn't add "in cartoons" - as if actual poor drunks are lying around some place called "skid row" going "HIC!" Was there ever a "Peanuts" cartoon where SNOOPY (95A: Cartoon character with a big nose) was seen drinking from a bottle marked "XXX" and eructating "HIC?" I can see it in my mind's eye, but something tells me that Schulz would not have gone there. Maybe I'm thinking of SNERT from "Hagar the Horrible" - another good comic dog to know for solving puzzles.

89A: The third of September (pee)

Did an 8-year-old write this puzzle?

100A: Kathryn of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (Erbe)
100D: Actress Lanchester and others (Elsas)

There should be a rule - there is a rule, starting now, about intersecting obscure actress names, especially at a vowel. Actually, ELSA Lanchester was a major actress, Oscar-nominated and Golden-Globe-winning; she was just before my time. She played the Bride in 1935's Bride of Frankenstein. This ERBE person has got to go - I don't think being on a crappy spin-off of a godawful boring soporific forgettable show that is basically the Barnes & Noble of TV (colonizing the world with mediocrity, crowding out anything interesting or inventive) qualifies you as puzzle-worthy. ERBE? ICK (1D: "Eww!")

New to Me

97A: Old TV part (triode) - total guess, extrapolating off of DIODE
119A: Tony-winning actress Martin (Andrea) - feel like I've seen her name before, but ... nope, drawing a blank
57D: It's connected to a boom (main sail) - ah, sailing. Takes me away to where I have next to no knowledge of terminology. I wanted MICROPHONE here.
76D: Papal court (holy see) - somehow "court" threw me here - is this "court" like "bring you to trial" court or "worship your highness" court? I think the former, but god knows (seriously) what the administrative hierarchies of the Catholic Church are all about.
79D: One of the Wright brothers, for short (Orv) - I demand to know who called him this
82D: "The Cloister and the Hearth" author (Reade) - Ah, the unread READE, back in the puzzle again. So, I guess, not technically "New to Me" but as I can still tell you nothing about him (except his first name, Charles, and the fact that he was a Victorian writer), he remains an outsider to me.
91D: Indian tourist destination on the Arabian Sea (Goa) - wins the award for most made-up-sounding word in the grid. Why not go with GOY? It's an easy swap-out, and gives you the lilting YVES instead of the pedestrian abbr. AVES (98A: Map parts: Abbr.) as a cross? Wait, I think I just found out why - from Wikipedia:
In modern Hebrew and Yiddish, the word goy is a standard term that refers to members of the Gentile nations. In Yiddish it is the only proper term used to say 'Gentile' and many bilingual English and Yiddish speakers do use it dispassionately. In English however, the use of the word goy can be controversial. Like other common (and otherwise innocent) terms, it may be assigned pejoratively to non-Jews (as well as to Jews who are perceived by other Jews to lack religious commitment to Judaism). To avoid any perceived offensive connotations, writers may utilize the English terms "Gentile" or "non-Jew".

Hmmm. I wasn't aware I was supposed to be offended by the term, but OK. Now I am.


ALDA for LADD (106D: Actor Alan) - I'm guessing Many people made this error
MODERN for MODEST (122A: Not overdone) - it made sense at the time
LET FLY and then LET RIP for LEAP IN (42D: Not think things through first) - this made the whole "Virginia" portion of the grid a scribbly mess

Fun Fill

71D: Start of a supplication (I pray) - olde schoole
86A: Destruction (carnage) - wow, not just "destruction," but the best kind!
109A: Like turncoats (disloyal) - I just Love the word "turncoats," for reasons I will explain to you much later...
50A: Trademarked chilled drink (Slurpee) - my drink of choice, ages 7-15. The closest retail establishment to my house: 7-11 (followed closely by Swensen's Ice Cream Parlor and my beloved Round Table Pizza, where I spent untold hours listening to an actual jukebox and playing hour upon hour of Donkey Kong. Because that's how we rolled in the early 80's).
33A: Codger (coot) - this word makes me laugh almost as much as HICS (see 76A, above)

Final thoughts

Loved the clue 14D: Early colonizer of America, because (of course?) I wanted Cortez or some other person, not an entire (somewhat unexpected) country (HOLLAND). You see lots of French in NYT puzzles, but this is the first time I've seen RIS (94D: Loire laugh), I think. I have been thinking more about ERNS (12D: Marine birds) lately - specifically, whether or not to make the ERN(E) the official bird of the "Rex Parker Does the NYT Puzzle" blog. I am leaning toward 'yes.' Its Pantheonic majesty (and kick-ass demeanor) demands recognition. In other potential Pantheon news, Syrian president ASSAD (29D: Syrian president) returns to the grid Again. he's getting to be very high-profile. I am adding ROC (4D: Bird in the "Arabian Nights") to the list of Pantheon contenders, and then I'm going to set up aerial battles between ROC and ERNE, just for my own amusement. Because I - 13D: First person indicator (Capital "I") - want it that way.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Orange 12:01 PM  

The tern will sit by gull-like and watch whilst the ern(e) and roc do battle.

My childhood 7-Eleven store was said to be the top Slurpee-selling franchise in the country. That was back when you had to instruct the counter help to extrude the desired flavors from the Slurpee machine—now if you want to mix multiple flavors, you can do it yourself.

Read up on GOA in the Wikipedia—thanks to centuries of Portuguese control, that part of India has lots of Indian Catholics with Portuguese names. Plus beaches and the spice trade.

Rex, surely you know Andrea Martin. SCTV in the early '80s, the voice of Apu's mother on The Simpsons, and the crazy aunt in My Big Fat Greek Wedding—the one who, on being told that her niece's non-Greek fiancĂ© is a vegetarian, says okay, she'll make lamb instead.

Linda G 12:05 PM  

I knew I had everything right in the Carolinas (?) but couldn't for the life of me understand how PEE was the answer for 89A. Even after I read what you wrote. Then it hit me. Duh...

Thought the puzzle was very clever. Enjoyed doing it and actually finished it on my own -- without help from you or Orange.

Unlike you, though, I didn't like the cluing for 76A (HICS). Work with the homeless long enough and you see things differently. For the record, they're not all drunks, although some are.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

LOL at demanding to know who called Orville Wright ORV. I'm guessing his brother WILB.

Didn't know COSMISM was a word; thought it was Cosmology. My error for Not Overdone was yet another - MEDIUM. Ixnay on that.

I'm all for the blog having an official bird, and ERN is as good as any. Why not go the distance and have an official European river, tree, fruit, mascot, nut, insect, song ... it could be fun! Here in Ohio, we actually have an official state beverage, which, I kid you not, is tomato juice. No one knows why, either.

Rex Parker 1:47 PM  

DAMN I forgot to blog [Philosophical study of the universe]!!! COSMISM ticked me off a couple months back, but seeing it again ... it's like an old friend. And old, annoying, possibly drunk, but generally harmless friend.

And yes, Linda, HICS is cruel in its way. I was not offended because I just imagined that the clue was supposed to have [ cartoons] appended to it.


Anonymous 2:18 PM  


Anonymous 2:20 PM  

do you do the "downstairs" puzzle? What follows Trojan in the shaded across section?

Rex Parker 2:29 PM  


No, but you should check Diary of a Crossword Fiend's blog (in my sidebar). There may be info there.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

TiVo, Swensen's, Round Table, Donkey Kong ... so much to love. I was elated when I found out that my friend Trish worked at Swensen's long ago, and thus was well aware of the greatest ice cream flavor ever, sticky chewy chocolate. My video game experience was in a smokey bowling alley. O, the quarters I spent.

asdfasfd 4:07 PM  

anne, i believe it is 'hot' if you need the next word, let me know.

that cross as well as some of row 6 (towards the left) and the G3-J4 region gave me trouble.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

My money is on the ROC (4D), which could supposedly fly off carrying a full-grown elephant!

This may be the first Sunday puzzle I solved by working my way from top to bottom without jumping around. Despite the way the clues referenced other clues from far-off regions, I just kept moving steadily downward...either this was an easier puzzle or practice is finally paying off.

No RONDOs (101D) in the Bartok viola concerto, but probably lots of FAs (118D). That is one high-octane piece. Rex, what did you think?!! Did you go to the concert?

Rex Parker 4:36 PM  

Ms. Vi,

The viola concerto was Hot (though, like all Bartok with which I'm not yet familiar, kind of insane and angular-sounding at first). Roberto Diaz is very handsome and he played the hell out of the viola (I've never seen one played all virtuosically like that). Yes, high-octane: very energetic ... fast fast fingers. I have to say, though, about the sound of the viola - it feels slightly risky, listening to that much viola; while it can have very beautiful, rich sound, it frequently feels about a hair's breadth away from sounding like nails on a chalkboard. It's like a string instrument trapped in puberty (violins being eternally prepubescent, and cellos being actual grownups). Exciting, yet dicey.

Diaz wore tails - my wife thought his tux looked "dingy." I gave him a standing ovation, as did only about 30-50 others. Conversely, nearly everyone But me stood after the Dvorak (which I loved, but it wasn't quite standing O-worthy). Bartok is currently my favorite 20th-century composer. That may change as I become less ignorant.

Haydn 102 was delightful, though my wife thinks Haydn is blah; and Dvorak's 8th was Dvorak's 8th, i.e. Awesome.


Anonymous 6:31 PM  

In the Wright family, Wilbur was often referred to a "Ullam" and Orville was "Bubs." Their sister Katharine went by the nickname "Swes."

Campesite 6:42 PM  

I've been to Goa--it's a lovely holiday spot in India teeming with backpackers from all over the world mingling with Indian tourists. It had a cameo as the sleepy beach town in the beginning of The Bourne Supremacy with Matt Damon and Franka Potente.
Growing up in the Eastbay, Swensen's was our ice cream haunt as well.

Anonymous 6:50 PM  

Thanks for the great review, Rex. Good to know my former Boston colleague is still playing the hell out of the viola.

FYI, from one who is extremely knowledgeable about music, Bela [look for his first name in puzzles] Bartok is one of the truly great 20th century composers. Nothing wrong with him as a favorite!

R. Kane - that information really is arcane! Never wouuld have guessed those nicknames.

Anonymous 9:42 PM  

Rex's mother's live-in man-friend ex-glassblower type-person went to Europe in 1980 with a woman from Tanzania whose parents are from Goa.

Alex S. 2:21 AM  

Don't have much comment on the puzzle since I'm on the road for work and was extremely distracted and just did it in bits and pieces.

That said, I do agree that moldy cheese = good cheese. However, green cheese does not = moldy cheese. Moldy cheeses are blue cheeses, green cheese refers to the "new" meaning of green. In other words, cheeses that haven't been aged or aged only a very short period.

Rex Parker 7:14 AM  

Yes, of course I mean "blue" cheeses, which are often, literally, green (in parts). I didn't know there was actually a term for a different kind of (non-moon) cheese called "green cheese." Interesting.


Anonymous 11:16 PM  

Loved Andrea Martin on SCTV...she was hilarious on that show...she won a Tony for My Favorite Year...

Embarassed to say it...but I still don't get the Third of September/
pee joke/clue...

Rex Parker 8:47 AM  

P (pee) is the third letter in the word "September."


Anonymous 6:51 AM  

I thought Oro meo must be something from an opera (blush). I don't know Italian, so it seemed plausible ("hear me?"), mostly because it was there. [I just entered "hear me" in Babel Fish, asked for English to Italian and got "Sentalo!"]
I came here and saw "O Romeo"...
Silly me.
Speaking of conjugated verbs, the "Loire laugh" was an odd clue, because "ris" is conjugated, as in "laugh, clown." I guess I would expect quotes around the "laugh" to have that one make sense. The noun (and the infinitive) is "rire," which doesn't fit, so I wrote down "rit" until "stet" let that one fall.
Did anyone else start by wanting to write "what the moon is made of," then when that didn't fit, fill in "...made from?" That didn't last long, with "rondo" there...I'm more of a jazz musician. I've read rondos, but I don't necessarily know the forms. It makes sense, though, that a rondo would go round and round. I first thought a five-letter repetitive musical piece might be "fugue."
I loved your wife's shrugged-off answer who wrote "The Concord Hymn." I dunno, the--what is it, now? Oh yeah--sage of Concord? For a fleeting moment, I thought this might be a convoluted SST clue. But that would be Concorde...:]
Oh, I almost forgot...Skid Road is indeed a real place. For some reason, it's become Skid Row in common parlance. It's where they used to slide logs down into Puget Sound when Seattle was a town of wooden sidewalks and muddy streets. I believe the specific street that was referred to as "Skid Road" is what is now called Yesler Way, which heads towards Occidental Square...still a gathering place for poor lost souls who wrap their bottles in brown paper bags.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

"Pee" for "Third of September"? Now that was just a dirty trick.

When I first looked at the puzzle, it appeared pretty difficult, but once I got the upper left corner filled in, the rest just fell into place. I solved this one faster than any other in the past.

Practice makes perfest...erm, perfect.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Oh, BTW, I must take issue with "Center of entertainment". The Magic Kingdom (Disney World) is an entertainment center. Epcot, while having entertaining elements, is, in my view, educational overall.

Anonymous 6:49 PM  

AAR - After Action Report

My forces attacked the grid in the N/W sector and quickly took the north, advancing south and consolidating as we proceeded, we finally met heavy resistance along the 70/80 line.
SPECIAL FORCES paratroops were landed in the S/E sector to establish a rearguard action. Entrenched resistance in that area forced a retreat to the N/E, where spies Catherine ERBE and ELSA Lanchester (DISLOYAL to the defending puzzle)provided intelligence which allowed a thrust into the central sector, hooking up with the stalled army along the 70-80 line.

Once the forces were consolidated again, mop-ups of the S/E and S/W sectors were routine.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

ERRATUM: "Entrenched resistance in that area forced a retreat to the N/W,....."

(insert blushing smiley here)

Anonymous 1:06 AM  

Visited the Wright Brothers historical sites in Dayton last year. Can't recall the context, but in one display Wilbur Wright's diary is quoted: "I love to scrap with Orv. Orv is a good scrapper."

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

That PEE thing left me PEEved. I didn't know the author READE and kept trying to use EMCEE instead of EPCOT. The September clue then became MBE which I still thought was evil. I didn't have STET or TRIODE yet and was forced to consider that Roseanne (RBARR) wrote a book. Overall it was a fun puzzle.

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