THURSDAY, Mar. 8, 2007 - Glibert H. Luwig

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Solving time: untimed - slower than normal, I think

THEME: "Question about an old proverb" - a quip puzzle, ugh!: (19A) IN THE CASE WHERE / (29A) THE STITCH IS LATE / (36A) DO YOU THINK IT CAN / (51A) STILL SAVE EIGHT

Well, at least it rhymes. I am not a fan of quip puzzles in general, and I'm especially not fond of ones with corny, non-funny, "things-Ziggy-might say" qualities about them. That said, I had a love / hate, rather than just a hate, relationship with this puzzle, based on the most fabulous, Rex-pleasing crossing in recent NYT puzzle history (beating even the apparently Rex-referencing IHOP / ORANGES crossing of a few days back). And the Crossie goes to:

7A: "Steve Canyon" cartoonist Milton (Caniff)
12D: Actress Spain of "God's Little Acre" (Fay)

"Actress Spain" were the first words my eyes went to, and I just about burst with giddiness, as FAY Spain is my absolute most favorite B-Movie actress of all time. She was super hot and in mostly terrible movies, including 1959's The Beat Generation, the original poster for which hangs on my living room wall. I never, ever, ever thought I'd see her name in the puzzle. Someone who has access to the cruciverb database will probably tell me that she has, in fact, been in the puzzle before, but not in my memory. The fact that my favorite B-Movie actress is crossed with one of the greatest comics artists of all time makes that whole NE corner really light up. Spain and CANIFF were both involved in the production of largely forgotten popular fiction, from roughly the same era. CANIFF is best known for creating the enormously popular comic strip "Terry and the Pirates," which he began in the 30's and left in '46. STEVE CANYON ranked third in the list of pseudonyms I considered for this blog, behind Rex Parker and Chet Houston.

Also fabulous was the YAHTZEE (38D: Classic Milton Bradley game) / WOZNIAK (55A: Apple co-founder) Z-crossing of the great SW. So the NE and SW were solid. The rest ... meh.

Alright, let's breeze through the rest of this puzzle with a series of haphazard, off-the-cuff observations. Ready? Go.

4A: Jr.'s place (Sch.) - Sucks. Just sucks hard. Really bad.
13A: Rhine tributary (Aar) - All European Rivers Lead Straight To Hell.
15A: Country of Saroyan's heritage (Armenia) - This answer is right under CANIFF in the great NE corner of this puzzle. I love it because I grew up in Fresno, CA, where every other thing is named after Fresno's favorite son (besides Tom Seaver and Cher), William Saroyan (and every other person is, or was, Armenian). Every damned play or performance I ever saw growing up was put on in the Saroyan Theater, for instance. Ironically, I don't think I've ever read any Saroyan, My Name Is Aram or otherwise. That book should have been called Maram, I'm Aram. If "Maram" were a word.
18A: No place for an epicure (beanery) - Ick. First, I think we've seen this exact clue / answer pairing before. Second, WTF is a BEANERY? Hmm, "an inexpensive restaurant or cafe." So ... why wouldn't an epicure be there? I know plenty of self-styled epicures who love diner food. This clue misunderstands both epicures and beaneries.
26A: 1990's Ontario premier Bob (Rae) - Yet another way to clue this answer, and possibly the most obscure. There's a reason RAE is in the Pantheon. Someday I will do a special called "Better know your RAEs," as there are at least half a dozen.
27A: "_____ Madness" (1966 Sean Connery comedy) ("A Fine") - REEFER would not fit. The very phrase "Sean Connery comedy" reads like an oxymoron. I had NO idea what this answer was, even after getting A-INE. I seriously considered A-LINE - like ... maybe there was a skirt craze in the mid-60's that I'd just never heard of, one which created "A-LINE Madness."
34A: Swamp critter (croc) - A "critter" is something tiny that annoys you, not something gigantic that can crush you to death with its might jaws. I had the CR- and still couldn't get it. I was wondering if CRAY (as in CRAYfish) were possibly right. When I asked my wife, she got CROC immediately, but agreed that "critter" was iffy. Speaking of my wife...
24D: Frontier gathering (bee) - So I turn to my wife and say "Frontier gathering, 3 letters." She thinks for a while. Nothing. I say "Starts with 'B'." Nothing. She asks "Did you get it already?" I say "Yes." She asks "Well what is it?" I say, "Bee." She ... Loses Her Mind. I've seriously never seen her so worked up about a clue. I'm going to quote to you now from the various things she said, which I was furiously scribbling down as she said them, trying to keep up. The part that seemed to bother her most was the "Frontier" bit:

Oh, that's horrible. That's just wrong. You can blog my absolute horror ... of that. [...] I'll bet there's a bee going on right now in this country!
This will surely be one of my favorite puzzle memories of all time, watching this little word (which, for me, was actually a near gimme) make my poor wife's skull explode.

25A: Carbohydrate suffix (-ose) - When you mean "sugar," say "sugar."
56A: Queen in "The Lion in Winter" (Eleanor) - ... of Aquitaine. Hurray for the Middle Ages.
1D: Frenchman with a famous line (Maginot) - vexed me for a while. "Can't be Marcel Marceau; he never spoke..." To my wife's credit, she knew this almost instantly, with no help from crosses or anything. Pressed to tell me what the MAGINOT line was, she ... was not so helpful: "Something about World War I" was what I remember her saying. She's not wrong.

8D: Asian nurse (amah)
9D: Sight on Hawaiian lava flows (nene)

Two of the great, exotic Pantheon members, standing side by side and intersecting CANIFF and ARMENIA. I'm telling you, that NE corner is Hot. Speaking of hot, I did not know NENEs (Hawaiian geese, in case you didn't know) could walk on lava. Impressive.

10D: It keeps things going (inertia) - Fabulous. Great clue / answer pairing.
17D: Symbol of electric flux (phi) - did not know. Will soon forget.
32D: Katzenjammers (hangovers) - As my wife said when asked if she knew that Katzenjammers meant HANGOVERS: "No. I know the Katzenjammer Kids..."

40D: Hair bun (chignon)
41D: Antique jar (amphora)
42D: Quack remedy (nostrum)

This is quite a trifecta of sequential SAT words. More Friday than Thursday in its difficulty level. Got CHIGNON fast - a word I know only from watching, reading about, or discussing Vertigo. Wife knew what an AMPHORA was. I didn't, or didn't readily. Once she explained, I was like "Oh yeah..." I was thinking AMPHORA was a literary term, but that's ANAPHORA. I thought a NOSTRUM was just a remedy - did not know it was particularly quacky.

53D: Novelist O'Flaherty (Liam) - NEESON too vulgar for you?
54D: Lamb by another name (Elia) - Pantheon retiree takes final stroll around grid before death.
55D: Loos (WCs) - Anita!? No, just toilets.

I leave you with a picture of FAY Spain, topless, because I'm just that nice a guy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Love that poster! Netflix doesn't have The Beat Generation, damn it all, but it does have The Naked Zoo, which sounds terribly interesting. ;)

Everyone should read Saroyan's A Human Comedy, imoo. If nothing else. A slice of Americana.

Don't like these quip puzzles either. I always groan when I see them.

C zar 10:48 AM  

Maginot Line is WWII, and, as I remember, were defenses on the French/German border. It seems that after two or three wars in which the Germans attacked through Belgium and Holland, the French thought, gee, next time I'll bet they come straight at the border (they were wrong).

Orange 10:51 AM  

Nope, no FAY Spain in Cruciverb. (Mostly Fay Wray, a couple Morgan le Fay outings, and a single Fay Bainter of Jezebel and writer Fay Weldon.)

-OSE covers non-sugar carbohydrates, too. For example, cellulose, which we see in plant cell walls. (Iceberg lettuce is little more than plant cell walls and water, isn't it?) And Wikipedia says deoxyribose is a carbohydrate. I do not wish to try a beverage sweetened with either.

I just added the 1968 Lion in Winter to my Netflix queue. Saw it in class in high school, remember little.

It is possible that the NENE's lava flows are old and hardened, but I'm not up on my Hawaiian geology.

Orange 10:52 AM  

(And I would pay good money to see a remake of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me featuring geese of any kind.)

Rex Parker 10:58 AM  

Maginot was a bright idea about national defense that came out of WWI, and failed miserably in WWII.

And I was kinda joking about the fire-walking geese. I'm guessing your rather conjecture about hardened lava, boring though it is, is correct.

Yes, "Beat Generation" is not on DVD, like most of the Mamie Van Doren (not to mention FAY Spain) corpus, sadly.


Anonymous 11:37 AM  

An idea that amuses me (...), is that not only is Fay Spain in "God's Little Acre," but so is Aldo Ray. If they'd married, she'd have been...

Alex S. 12:14 PM  

I got completely screwed up by seeing through a layer of cleverness that wasn't here.

I immediately put in Marceau since he did famously have one line. He was the only one who spoke in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie. Once I put this in, it was hard to topple with the correctly placed MA to start (and then I compounded it by misreading "Carbohydrate suffix" as the old "Chemical suffix" and put in ANE creating a third working cross.

For "Queen in The Lion in Winter" I thought they were being clever and put in Katherine HEPBURN. Fortunately that one fell faster.

I have never, ever, heard the word BEANERY. So, when I also didn't know AMAH and had BE-NERY I still wasn't willing to put the A in there. I could only assume a beanery would be somewhere they process beans.

Last week I felt like I was in a solving groove, this week that groove has run off the rails and other than Tuesday I've had way too much trouble with these puzzles.

Alex S. 12:21 PM  

Oh, and if anybody happens to be in Los Angeles on March 31, The American Cinemateque is doing a mini Beat festival at the Egyptian and Beat Generation is one of the three movies being shown over that weekend.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Alex: Try this site to see the lyrics to Rodgers & Hart's "Mountain Greenery." The song has a particularly clever rhyme for "beanery" in it.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

My problem with the NW: Had chi & grocers. Took a while to see prithee, which I don't use much, anymore.

General Maginot used the (old) WWI strategy of laying a string of trenches to stop the Germans, who used their (new) tanks to quickly overrun (literally) the French defenses.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Sorry, forgot to idedntify myself with the above.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Nasty puzzle. Since when is ASTI (which I believe is a sparkling Italian [white?] wine, Asti Spumante) an alternative for a Riesling (27D), which is a still German white? Asti is a wine center in Italy -- does it make any still whites? And is an Italian white ever an alternative for a German white (I don't think so)? I agree about "Jr.'s place", SCH -- terrible clue. Likewise 49A, which was the proximate cause of my running aground in the SE -- the combination of the end of an oddball quip and many surrounding obscurities and lame clues did me in. Not a happy day.

Orange 1:20 PM  

Omigod! I agree with bluestater on something! I am a Riesling fan. Acceptable alternatives for me include Gew├╝rtztraminer, Gr├╝ner Veltliner, and pinot grigio—the fruitier, sweeter whites. Bubbly wines are an entire different category. ASTI could be a Champagne or prosecco alternative. (Also, SEA from the NYT forum lives in Italy and says prosecco is popular—it didn't give me a headache like most other sparkling wines do, so hooray—but that Asti Spumante earns the moniker "nasty Asti.")

Campesite 1:35 PM  

My 'gripe' about this puzzle was the not so clever quip and, though it was a gimme, the Asti for Riesling was very bothersome.
Might have to go see Beat Generation at the Egyptian.

Backblog 2:15 PM  

Hi there, I also hate the quips, as I never seem to get them up front, only by filling in the crossings, and then have to wonder if they make sense. Fun puzzle!

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

Totally agree with bluestater & orange. Nasti Asti for sure, but I live in the wine country (Sonoma County) so I guess I'm a wine snob. Also, Nene is the state bird of Hawaii. Didn't know it could walk on hot lava. Love this puzzle blog. Thought last Sunday's NYT's twins thing was weird & too contrived to be fun. Keep on rollin'. Great reading.

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

Speaking of meh...,,2026533,00.html

Rex Parker 3:55 PM  


Thanks for the link to that very interesting article about "meh." I particularly loved the extensive discussion of "The Simpsons." The author says "meh" is probably years away from OED enshrinement, but ... well, it didn't take "D'oh!" that long to get in there, so "meh" may get there sooner than he thinks.


Orange 5:38 PM  

By the way, IMOO, this--

55D: Loos (WCs) - Anita!? No, just toilets.

--is good. What is the opposite of "meh"? What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Anonymous 6:18 PM  

Aargh. Found this one way too hard for the amount of fun at the end (was hoping for a quip that would make me laugh).

Plus, I completey lost confidence after running into so many unfamiliar names (WOZNIAK, CANIFF, FAY, ELIA, RAE, LIAM).

And aren't CRETANS horrible monsters? Oh, wait, I think that's cretin, and looking it up tells me that my impulse wasn't so PC. Looks as if cretinism is an actual medical condition.


Anonymous 6:48 PM  

Hate quote puzzles too, but Rex and the Rex gang comments make it all worthwhile!

Geographreak 6:53 PM  

I hated the croc clue because gators are more likely to live in swamps than crocs. Crocs are more likely to live in marshes.

The Katzenjammer Kids were named the German word for hangover on purpose because the kids in the comic strip were such brats.

Rex Parker 7:11 PM  

I have a "gang" now? Sweet.

ELIA is in the Pantheon - a must-know word (Charles Lamb's alias). It's very old skool, and seen less often in the Shortz era than before (or so it seems to me), but still an important word to know.

Ultra Vi - please tell me all you know about:

as I am seeing him perform on Saturday.


Andy Dressel & Youming Ji 7:18 PM  

My only thought about beanery is that Epicureans were confused with Pythagoreans (who were prohibited from eating beans as they were believed to possess souls, a magical fruit indeed).

Luckily I made this same mistake and was able to finish a rather thorny New Changland, Fay Spain being a little before my time.

Rex Parker 7:21 PM  

For the record, FAY Spain is a little before my time as well.

Anonymous 11:21 PM  

Rex, lucky you! Roberto Diaz used to live in my very own city, Boston, where he was a member of the Boston Symphony. He left to take a job as principal violist in the National Symphony, then went on to be principal of the Philly Orchestra, and then to head up the Curtis School. He is awesome! Plus, he comes from a very famous, talented Chilean family of string players (along with siblings cellist Andras and violinist Gabriella). In other words, you can't go wrong! Enjoy!

Tell him hello from me (except he won't recognize MY pseudonym...).

Hallaig 10:56 AM  

Hi Rex, from six-weeks-later land. Your musings about a 60s skirt craze made me laugh out loud. I do the puzzle now mostly for the sake of reading the blog after.

BTW, I agree totally with your wife about 'bee'. Even in pioneer times it wasn't just an activity on the frontier. People back east were doing just as much quilting and barn raising and whatever.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

'Twas a cup-and-a-half puzzle today. I would have achieved a perfect solution, except for one little "G". I didn't know a katzenjammer was a HANGOVER, I know little about football, and some California pioneer decided to go against tradition and change the spelling of CASA. Then there were those mischevious KATZENJAMMER KIDS hanging around in my mind. (Was one of them named HANS?) I am afraid I needed Google to get me out of that mental Gordian Knot.

I was pretty smug about dredging up Milton CANIFF. It puzzled me that you said that Terry and the Pirates ended in 1946, (But you didn't, really, did you?) because I was born that year, and I remember that strip as vividly as I remember anything from that long ago. The Wiki is a bit vague. I do seem to remember my adolescent mind musing on the similarities of T&P, and Steve Canyon.

I found the quip amusing, and read it to Hanne, who found it amusing as well, which, believe me, is saying something.

So, I guess my personal theme for today is "Cartoons" one of which helped, and one that hindered.

Deb 4:46 PM  

Okay, I'm stumped. You found "It keeps things going" (inertia) to be a fabulous clue/answer pairing. I put off filling in the e-r till the very end because it's just WRONG! Inertia is a state of inactivity... how does that "keep things going?"

?!?!?!? What am I missing ?!?!?!

D in CO

Rex Parker 7:18 PM  

I'm no physicist, but a body in motion will stay in motion (in a vacuum, like space) and that principle is inertia. Something about Newton's first law of motion:

Newton, cited from Wiki:

every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight ahead, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed. [Cohen & Whitman 1999 translation]

Deb 1:55 AM  

Well, I appreciate your attempt to enlighten me, but I'm still confused.

Now entropy... THAT I understand. Anyone whose onerous duty it is to keep a clean house can easily intuit that one :(

D in CO

Anonymous 9:15 PM  

In the absence of another force, anything at rest will tend to stay at rest; that is "INERTIA" of rest. Anything moving tends to keep moving, that is "INERTIA of motion".

That better?

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

...not to mention cassoulet, a very epicurean bean dish.
Maginot came to me quickly. First thought geometry (after discarding "any sort of quotable line" as much too broad)...but Maginot Line was what quickly came to mind.
Well, I liked this puzzle and liked the quip, and I like puzzles built around quips. So there!
A funny thing: I wanted to answer NENE to "Asian nurse." I guess I'm mixing up individual words in the olio of words that sound like they were made up by babies just learning to talk.

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