SATURDAY, May 5, 2007 - David Quarfoot

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Another solid (and, in parts, fantastic) DQ offering. I did it this morning over tea, breakfast, and ESPN highlights. Once again, DQ spans the globe to bring you the constant variety of crossword fill - the thrill of VENEER (31A: False front), the agony of DESOTOS (44D: Adventurer and Airstream) ... and a creamy center which I believe is some combination of SODA POP (20A: Slice, e.g.) and BABY FAT (55A: It's usually lost before reaching school age). I know it's kind of tasteless to suggest that BABY FAT might be delicious, but don't worry. I'm not suggesting people should eat good children. Just BRATS (51A: Nannies' nightmares). BASTE (51D: Thrash) and salt TO TASTE (2D: As you like it). I know it sounds NASTy (53A: He bought Vogue in 1909), but (as any gourmet will tell you), IT'S BEST (65A: "We made the right choice"). You might also try roasting, for a SMOKIER (64A: Less clear) flavor, and then serve with SALAT (52D: Dinner course in Dresden) and NEAR BEER (36D: Prohibition-era offering). Or swap out the bacon in your BLT (11D: Short order). But whatever you do, you will surely want to hit the OPEN BAR (24D: Feature of some political parties?) afterwards; trust me on that.

[Hmmm. That ended up more Hannibal Lechter than Jonathan Swift. Sorry 'bout that]

This puzzle sparkles from the first clue, with STEPHEN COLBERT (1A: With 8-Across, comic named one of Time's "100 most influential people" in 2006) looking very fair and balanced at the top of the grid (seven letters on the Left, seven letters on the Right). There are three other full names in the grid (so much more exciting than last name only). They are:

  • 18A: Entertainer whose last name is the past tense of a synonym of his first name (Rip Torn)
  • 39D: 2002 FIFA World Player of the Year (Mia Hamm)
  • 63A: Henry Wade's opponent in a famous court case (Jane Roe)

I love RIP TORN, but you'd be surprised how often I get him confused with RIP TAYLOR.

Today's puzzle is aggressively manly, with 1D: "The first network for men" sloganeer, once (Spike TV) and 26D: Virile type (man's man). The first of these is preposterous - "the first network for men" was Every Network Before Lifetime (I would also have accepted ESPN). The second, MAN'S MAN ... let's just say it has always seemed paradoxical to me that this phrase is supposed to refer to a particularly virile straight man. There are jokes I want to make here (at least one really good one), but I feel I have exhausted my allotted supply of tastelessness for the day. So ... moving on.

Have you ever seen an "X" in the grid surrounded on all sides by only consonants? Probably not, and neither had I, until today, when I had the great pleasure of witnessing BMXBIKES (38A: X Games racers) crossing XMRADIO (40D: "Oprah & Friends" airer). BMXBIKES adds to the puzzle's manly quotient, and I like that the BIKES are running over Oprah, as if to prove their disdain for all things non-phallic.

The greatest clues in the puzzle, IMOO, are:

20A: Slice, e.g. (soda pop) - this took me So Much Longer than it should have. I was stuck in the world of golf and could come up with only BAD SHOT (which is a good wrong answer, you have to admit). Speaking of SODA POP, a very kind reader finally fulfilled my request for a picture of a can of RONDO, the citrus soda from the late 70s that I remember enjoying after soccer matches, but the existence of which I could only barely prove. Here is the can I remember so well [and here is the very manly Rondo commercial that Jack mentions in today's Comments. Why does the one dude seem to spit his Rondo out like it's post-workout mouthwash? Anyway, thanks Jack!]:

Back to the other great clues:

8D: Systems of rotating wheels? (carpools) - this one sounds like it will be manly, but then ... No, it's a trap! I thought for sure that the answer would have something to do with cogitation - you know, wheels turning = metaphor for thinking ... this is what a Saturday puzzle will do to you: send you off on preposterous flights of fancy (which often end up no more fanciful than the lines of reasoning for actual answers).

45D: Boss's address? (E Street) - this answer is also fairly manly. The Boss is surely a MAN'S MAN. But (and again I refer you to my above-mentioned sense of the phrase's apparent paradoxicality) what type of men are you supposed to be appealing to when this is how you present yourself visually on the cover of your seminal (!) album?:

Other interesting features of this puzzle include 15A: Versatile weapon (poleaxe), which, thanks to my D&D days, came to me with just the "P" in place, and 14D: Nudist's lack (tan line), which I've seen clued this way before, and yet still I spent some time searching for a word that signified clothing. Technically, a nudist could have a TAN LINE if he or she were wearing, say, flip-flops, or a fanny pack (yes, chew on that visual for a while, why don't you). I did not know several answers, including 57A: Nova Scotia's Bras _____ Lake (Dor ... D'or?) and 13D: Decoration behind an altar (reredos). I also had never heard A TO B in the context in which it's clued: 21D: Travel route with no points in-between. Would you really call something an "A-TO-B route?" Interesting. I have heard of LA DANSE (58A: 1909 Matisse painting), though I feel slightly guilty that I've never been a big Matisse fan. Something about his work just seems too ... simple. And bright. It's got a fruity happiness to it that doesn't quite square with my sensibilities somehow. I always thought that cows ULULATEd (60A: Hoot), but I guess they LOW and ... owls ULULATE? Owls should LOW, for anagrammatic reasons if for nothing else. I'm happy to take any occasion I can to remember "Caddyshack" - 9D: "Caddyshack" studio (Orion) - which is a MAN'S MAN's movie if there ever was one. Lastly, in the category of "crazy letter combos worth knowing," there ROK (32D: Longtime U.S. ally) - the wackier twin of the more crossword-common ROC - and B'NAI, which today I learned means 55D: Sons of, in Hebrew.

I'm off to celebrate Free Comic Book Day with Sahra at my local comic book store - my friend and former graduate student Jordan is on the cover of our paper's Life section today as a representative of local comic geekdom (he works at my local store). Go to any participating store (there are thousands nationwide) and choose from a wide variety of free comics created specially for this annual occasion. Details here.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Orange 9:26 AM  

I like grand Swiftian plans to eat babies and whatnot. Using only the words from one crossword? All the better.

Remember the first Gulf war, after the invasion of Kuwait? Remember the distraught Middle Eastern women on TV, issuing forth with a high-pitched warbling sort of keening in which the tongue flicks about in the area where the L sound is produced? Apparently that is ululating.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

i had a lotta trouble with this puzzle (had to use google...) and/but loved the cluing and fill. for me, "hard but fair" applies.

"rip torn" v. "rip taylor" -- *great* clue -- but because the former is a first-rate dramatic actor (who handles comedy with equal aplomb), i think of him as an "entertainer" only in the most generic sense; mr. taylor on the other hand ("the prince of pandemonium," "the master of mayhem"...)... well, let's just say it's probably rare that these two guys are ever under consideration for the same roles. ;-)


Alex S. 10:35 AM  

I have never heard "baste" used to mean "to beat repeatedly." So when I was looking for my wrong square to get the puzzle to submit I never event considered that PASTE ("We really pasted them at our soccer game last night, 7-0") was wrong and eventually gave up. Wasn't sure what a PRAT was but sounded like something that would worry British nannies. Surely Mary Poppin's kryptonite is an excess of prats.

I loved the brutality of MIA HAMM, the female 2002 FIFA player of the year. Because the male 2002 FIFA player of the year also fit: RONALDO.

Don't know if I would have gotten SODA POP as a gimme since the HAAS School of Business was an earlier gimme it was the first thing I thought of reading the clue (but then orange sodas are my pop genre of preference -- oooh, would "Pop genre?" be a good clue for "ROOT

It took about 10 minutes after I filled it in to figure out which U.S. ally is the ROK.

NE was brutal. Even after having them filled out correctly (you've now confirmed for me) I've no idea on ESOBESO, REREDOS, and BEL.

barrywep 10:41 AM  

it may have been Medium for you, but this was a difficult puzzle. As of now, only 107 finished under an hour on the app and 9 of those are obvious cheats.

Rex Parker 11:06 AM  

I'm a little surprised to see that people found this any more difficult than an average Saturday. Only two words strike me real puzzlers: REREDOS and D'OR, maybe HAAS if you've never heard of it (I hadn't). BEL might be new to some, but ESO BESO is crosswordese in its component parts (see earlier blog entry where I featured a very ominous picture of the floating head of Paul Anka, from the cover of his "Eso Beso" record). Clues were on the rough side - keeping well known words well hidden. So I'm legitimately curious to see where people blew it.

I should say that I got off to a Very slow start, with none of the top-of-the-grid answers coming to me. For a little while the only thing I had in the grid was the inferrable gimme [28D: Einstein essay "The World As I _____"] = SEE IT and its "T" cross AIM AT. I saw the gimme partial [19A: Chiang _____-shek] sitting there and didn't want to touch it (felt like cheating) but then I caved, and as soon as I filled it in (KAI), SPIKE TV came into view and I was never substantially stymied again.

Jack Guignol 11:11 AM  

A commercial featuring manly men drinking Rondo:

Apaprently it was not a Thirst Quencher, but a THIRST CRUSHER.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

"So I'm legitimately curious to see where people blew it."

i actually got off to a (fairly) quick start. but that sw... 38, 39 & 40d; 62a. knew i was dealing with *some* kinda "bike" at 38a, but not till ms. hamm and "adjan" fell was i able to start bringin' this one home.


p.s. my last bike was a raleigh 3-speed.... ;-)

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Always love DQ. Today, the bottom fell like a "normal" Saturday for me, but the top was gruesome. Never heard of Kyrie Eleison, Haas or Reredos.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

I know nothing about X Games (38a) or Ajman (62a) and had much trouble with those answers, but the toughest mislead of the morning was 56d. I still don't get "tun," and my first answer, "tug," conflicted with "Jane Roe" for a long time. I lost a lot of time in those places. The proper names were my favorite answers -- Stephen Colbert, Rip Torn, and Mia Hamm -- all well known, but only Colbert was immediately apparent. I am embarrased for my gender that I thought the FIFA answer was Ronaldo. My taste for renaissance art and music brought me "eleison" and "reredos."

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

This fruity confection was a piece of cake!

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

Since I don't have a TV (and haven't since leaving home for college in the mid '80's, I really blew this one. MODESTY for "nudist's lack" held out in my grid for about two hours this morning, until I googled 8A. Once I got that, I, too, wanted COG- something for 8D. And until your comment about "wheels turning" I never thought of the obvious etymology of one of my favorite words, COG-itate! Chewy writeup, Rex. Always amusing and enlightening. Thanks!

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

Ah Rexy,

Beautiful writeup! Glad you stressed the manly theme - this was in honor of Colbert, the biggest MAN'S MAN I know (and your comment re: veiled homoeroticism is surprisingly appropriate for him!). Incidentally, my original clue for STEPHEN/COLBERT was: Comedian who popularized the term "truthiness" - but I can understand why it got changed, and expected that it might.

Anyway, great blogging Rex - always a pleasure to read your thoughts.


Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Would you beleive that I looked at Jane Roe for about 5 minutes before the light bulb went on? To me, the case is all one word "RoevWade." Old enough to remember Chiang Kai Shek and the Latin mass (or was it Dire Straits?)

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

I really meant Mr. Mister, not Dire Straits.

Linda G 3:17 PM  

Had only a handful of gimmes. Thanks to seven years of Catholic school and Mass, I knew Kyrie Eleison. But it didn't open up enough for me. Even with a couple that Mr. Linda knew, I was at a loss. Googled a few, sneaked a few hints from Orange. Still a fairly blank grid.

I gave up -- first time in months that I haven't finished a puzzle. More about that elsewhere.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

The first time I remember hearing the term MAN'S MAN was on an episode of Mary Tyler Moore, in which they played on the potential ambiguity of the term.
Within a year or two of that, I went to a music camp and sang in a choir for the first time (I went as a trombonist). We sang Schubert's Mass in G, which naturally included a Kyrie ELEISON. So that was a gimme for me, though I must admit I was not 100% sure of the spelling.
I can't tell you, Rex, what if anything made this tougher than your run-of-the-mill Saturday puzzle for me. I got most of the way (~95%)through it then got impatient or lazy (or something). I started to peek to confirm and quickly moved to peeking to get any answer that I had to think about for more than a second (when there were about four squares left to fill). ATOB? What's an ATOB? Oh.
When I came up with SODA POP, I dismissed it and briefly tried SOD CHOP! I also thought UVULATE might be a good word but thought SAVAT (savate? Could be a German word for all I know) an unlikely dinner course, given the cluing.
Good Puzzle, good write-up. NEON, dudes.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

Man this was a killer. You know the day's gonna require a massive dose of humility when initially the only answer you can get, without checking, is Chiang KAI-shek. Shee-it.

I was pretty sure about STEPHEN COLBERT, but could get no crosses from it so I didn't want to commit to that out of the box.

I was one of those who had Ronaldo instead of MIA HAMM, even after googling (what's up with that?) and somehow convinced myself that it was manes instead of LANES since, after all, isn't a horse's mane between his shoulders (sort of?) No, not really. But I was desperate.

Basically I "knew" very little here and could infer even less, able to start working the puzzle without help only by googling every third word. I'm always amused by the variety of ways ESSO stations are clued, and ORION was original too. So was DESOTO! We had one when I was a kid, a convertible as I remember.

I was sickened by not being able to infer JANE ROE. Guess I've never seen "Henry" Wade before, or not remembered that I did, so it wasn't even close to percolating to the surface. Didn't know Oprah had conquered radio, so thought her "friends" were on Oxygen, but that didn't fit.

Well, ya win some, ya lose some. I do enjoy Quarfoot even if it hurts.

Anonymous 3:55 PM  

Another thing - why are LET ON and pretend the same thing? I'm not seeing it.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

He LET ON like he was interested but his mind was elsewhere.
Speaking of ESSO, I thought train station, so...Saskatoon or SASK was my first tentative fill-in there. Very tentative, as it was also the first four letters of SASKatchewan, which just didn't seem likely.
Also, FARR was pretty much a gimme, as was AIM AT, but in both cases, the possibility that some unknown answer was eluding me was not absent from my cogitations, and RONALDO was definitely a contender...I also had an ever so brief hesitation on the meaning of FIFA, as we just had the Festival International du Film sur l'Art (FIFA) here in Montreal, a few weeks ago.

Anonymous 4:51 PM  

Wendy, we're on the same wavelength. Embarrassingly, I didn't key in on the Wade + court connection! I, too, fell for RONALDO after gooogling (I feel like I need to go back and re-read Free To Be You And Me ten times.....) And I was insistently sure of MANES (instead of LANES)! They are between the shoulders in horses and hyenas, at least.

In my mind, LET ON is a rarely used colloquialism.... you could use it in a sentence like "he let on that he had forgotten his wife's birthday so that the surprise party was even more of a shock to her".

Lots of fun anyway!

Orange 5:37 PM  

Isn't "let on" more often non-pretend or in the negative? "She let on that she knew the answer" can mean that she didn't hide her knowledge, not that she pretended to know something she didn't. And in the negative "He'd never let on that he had a crush on her"—no pretending involved, just no admitting.

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

Bingo, Orange, that's exactly the context in which I think of the term.

Rock rabbit, I am relieved to know that at least one other person thought of manes. When's the Derby on, I need to check for the exact location, shoulders-wise. ;)

Anonymous 8:41 PM  

How do I love this puzzle? Let me count the ways...

I highlighted My Favorite Entries in this grid, and there are no less than 16 of them. In my book, that's an A+, with a capital A P-L-U-S.

I am most definitely a DQ fan on any given day, but when I am Really On His Wavelength, doing a DQ puzzle is a very nice way to start a Saturday.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo: muy bien, DQ!


Anonymous 10:52 PM  


Excellent and very "manly" write-up today! I laughed so hard that I forgot all about the pain I suffered during the puzzle itself.

Didn't know BLUENOSE or POLEAXE or BMXBIKES. For Slice, had PORTION and then SECTION. For Nudist's lack, had SHYNESS and then MODESTY. Thought LOONS lived in the Arctic, someone who was Quite Bright was KEEN, and J.F.K. initials were ETA or ETD or maybe ARR. ATM might have been CFO or CPA, FHA could have been TVA or WPA, and on and on.

In SHORTZ, very tricky cluing on the DQ.

Anonymous 11:16 PM  

DQ -

Oh, how I wish your "truthiness" clue hadn't been changed, because then I would have gotten Stephen Colbert right away and I would have spent way less time thinking, "What, did I suddenly get stupid overnight?" As it was, I got "Stephen" fairly quickly, but my mind would only bring up pictures of Steve Carell, wrong guy AND not enough letters! Somehow, I don't think of Colbert as a comic, even though he IS hilarious!

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

--From Hamlet (III, ii, 239)

Steven 5:10 PM  

owls hoot ... people ululate.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

True. (Ululation is a high pitched wavering vocal sound. It is common in the middle east and northern Africa. It is used to honor someone and can be heard at weddings and funerals.)

Cows are ungulates (hoofed animals). This is the probable source of your confusion.

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

First time I saw ululate was in Lord of the Flies when the little heathens stamped around like indians american indians ululate?

Anonymous 5:16 PM  

I loved this puzzle! I never got bogged down and did it in well under an hour. For me it was easier than Friday's and Wednesday's and yet it was so elegant (and manly). Nothing forced and enough stuff I didn't know (e.g.ELEISON, REREDOS, DOR, LADANSE) to make it interesting. However, I did have a wee bit of help across the top. I'm a big Colbert fan and about six weeks ago he was bragging about being a NYTs crossword answer. I try to remember stuff like that. I like to think I would have gotten it anyway because I knew he was on Time's list (he really bragged about that) and because SPIKETV, PER, HAAS, ORION, and ESOBESO (thanks Rex) were all gimmes.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

Hi All,

Six weeks and two days behind here. This bloody puzzle has been sitting on the kitchen table since Saturday morning. It was a struggle all the way, and I never did get one last letter, the second "E" in REREDOS, a new word for me. (and Firefox, too, as it would seem. My Firefox spell checker has put a red line under it.) I was mildly disappointed in myself that I hadn't been able to infer that a BEL was 10 DECIBELS.

The south east fell first, but not without resistance. I was sure 63a refered to Roe v Wade, but "Port vessels" had to be TUGS, and what first name is spelled J_G_? It didn't help that both Lebanon and Libya are on the Mediterranean. I admit to googling for JANE ROE's first name, which revealed DQ's clever vessel treachery.

A big hang-up in the S/W was MURKIER for SMOKIER.

I had JAL for UAL for the longest time, and it wasn't until A TO B jumped into my mind in one of those heel - of - the - palm - to - forehead moments that BLUENOSE emerged.

I had never heard of "Slice" SODA POP. I was an altar boy when they still said Mass in Latin, so ELEISON and KAI were a gimme, although, like mmpo, I was unsure of the spelling. I had ICEBERG for "Shrinking body" for a while.

I liked your goulish little punfest, Rex, and DQ, thanks for a weekend of torture. There were no "breakthrough" moments. It was a slog all the way. I loved this puzzle!

About Stephen Colbert; do Republicans watch his show, and do they get it? I suppose that they must think they are getting equal time after Jon Stewart.

Now to tackle the Sunday puzzle.

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