SUNDAY, Jul. 22, 2007 - David Levinson Wilk

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Worst Pickup Lines"
- self-explanatory

Yet another constructor named "David." That makes EIGHT of you who have published puzzles since I started this blog last September. "Nancy" is a distant second, name-wise, with three. As for the puzzle - I had heard a LOT of these lines before, making filling in the long theme answers very, very easy. My only problem was exact phrasing, which I botched a couple of times, but the botching was always easily fixed. I finished this puzzle in 13:42, crushing my old record time for a Sunday puzzle (which I set just last week).

Theme answers:

  • 23A: "Pardon me, are you from the Caribbean? Because ..." ("Jamaican me crazy")
  • 30A: "I know it's not my business, but if you were a laser..." ("You'd be set on stunning")
  • 48A: "Say, is it hot in here...?" ("Or is it just you?")
  • 66A: "Sorry to bother you, but do you work for NASA? Because..." ("You're out of this world")
  • 85A: "Excuse me, I seem to have lost my phone number - ..." ("Can I have yours?")
  • 102A: "I don't mean to pry, but are you from Nashville? Because..." ("You're the only TEN I see")
  • 114A: "Even though we've never met, I'm sure your last name is Campbell. That's because..." ("You're Mmm Mmm good") - this last one is the Absolute Worst of the lot, which I suppose makes it Great, considering that's the point of the theme...
Trouble spots:

In the NE, I wrote ATLANTA, GA for 16D: City that won the first N.F.L. championship before realizing the crosses wouldn't work. Eventually, I worked out that it was AKRON, OHIO - what the hell is the love affair between the puzzle and this city??? It must be the most popular city name in the puzzle, or at least the most popular city with a "K" in it. ONE NINTH (15D: About 11%) was bizarre, but I sort of liked it.

In the "Kentucky" region of the puzzle, I had to go on faith. All the following Downs were iffy and/or mysterious to me:

  • 52D: Japanese who won the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize (Sato)
  • 56D: Afghan airline (Ariana)
  • 57D: British tax (cess)
  • 58D: Orders to plow horses (haws)

There's also another, nearby Down that I'd Never heard of: 50D: One _____ (kids' game) (o' cat). When was this ever a kids' game? Before electricity? Before ... tag? Thankfully, after wrongly entering SHIMMY for 55A: Hip-shaking dance, I figured out that it was CHA CHA, and that answer ran through All Five of the above mystery clues. Without it, I would clearly have been a dead man.

In the "Georgia" region of the puzzle, I was mystified, briefly, by 96A: Lemonade + _____ = Arnold Palmer (ice tea), especially since, first, I thought it was spelled ICED TEA, and second, two of the crosses are really weird. Since when is 87D: #2, informally VICE? VICE President ... is not informal. Like all right-thinking people, I put VEEP here. Also, do kids really take ECON (88D: H.S. course) in high school. I didn't see an ECON course til college. After what felt like forever, I finally retrieved SCOTT Simon's name from my head (101A: NPR's _____ Simon), and VICE and ECON fell, reluctantly, into place.

Lastly, the great SW had a few tricky entries, including the arbitrary TWO-FOOTER (78D: Easy putt, say) and the surprising PERRY COMO (77D: Recipient of the first gold single awarded by the R.I.A.A.).

Final notes: we have yet Another "MOESHA"-related clue again today (98A: Title teen in a 1990s sitcom - far more gettable than yesterday's insane YVETTES). We also have some guy named ADE (26A: Humorist George). I guess that clue's better than the more standard [Summer drink], but not by much.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Four pop culture clues I left off last night (I was tired from reading Harry Potter til after 3am the night before)...

  • 39A: Collins of '70s fun (Bootsy) - I know him primarily from a Dee-Lite video ("Groove is in the Heart") from 1991.
  • 123A: Catfish Row resident (Porgy) - I know this name primarily from a Nina Simone version of "I Loves You, Porgy" (from the musical "Porgy and Bess," I assume).
  • 64D: Band with the 1999 hit "Summer Girls" (LFO) - man, this is the most lethal pop culture clue I've seen in a Looooong time. I barely remember this song, and I did not remember this "band's" name.
  • 76D: 1998 Sarah McLachlan hit (Adia) - a crossword staple. Her music is Soporific!

We now return you to your Sunday. -RP


Orange 11:23 PM  

I think people call Cheney "Vice."

I took econ in high school as an elective. Mr. Dettbarn taught it and was one of the smarter teachers we had. Some years later, we learned he'd had some sort of indecent exposure arrest. Creepy.

Branching out beyond just the NYT crossword, since I started using Blogger tags six months ago there have also been four Dan/Daniels, three Elizabeths, seven Mike/Michaels, four Jims, seven Johns, four Patricks, three Ray/Raymonds, four Rich/Richards, five Steve/Steven/Stephens, and four Matt/Matthews. It's a shame, really, because they don't get to be on a first-name basis as a brand name. You can't talk about a "Patrick puzzle" without specifying which Patrick, but it's easier to talk about a Byron or a Karen.

Gimme a King Sunny Ade any day over George or lemon-.

Guess you blocked out your memories of CESS, eh?

Rex Parker 11:37 PM  

Six Johns
Four Mikes
Four Richards

So "Nancy" is actually in fifth place, tied with some other names (like Patrick).


PS I have a King Sunny ADE CD in this house ... somewhere.

Anonymous 12:11 AM  

No comment on reedy? And, yes, about five people took econ in high school.

Unknown 12:16 AM  

Sorry this is unrelated to the puzzle, but I'm hoping someone here can help me get in contact with a veteran puzzle constructor. I read an article saying that Nancy Solomon does lots of mentoring, but anyone would be helpful. (I'm not a premium NYT member, so I can't go ask in the forums.)

Linda G 12:57 AM  

What I call Cheney couldn't go into a NYT puzzle.

ECON wasn't offered when I was in high school. Probably hadn't been invented yet. Also had SHIMMY...funny that you did.

Orange 12:59 AM  

Aaron, she spells it Salomon. You can reach her at nancesal [at] frontiernet [dot] net. Also, check out, the site for constructors. There's a mailing list, CRUCIVERB-L, that many constructors read and contribute to, along with tons of must-read advice (the "Sage Advice" section) for newbie constructors.

Anonymous 1:46 AM  

I had shimmy too before I got cha-cha. It took me much longer than usual as I did not know any of the pick up lines but slowly got them.

Anonymous 4:03 AM  

The plowman (or teamster)yells "GEE" to get the horse (or team) to turn right, "HAW" to turn left.

Linda G 9:48 AM  

Profphil, I for one am impressed that you didn't know any of the pickup lines. That says volumes about you ; )

Thanks, anonymous, for clarifying HAW. Got it from crosses, but didn't get it.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

chacha for "hip-shaking dance?"

First, it's the cha cha cha, and the hula or twist would be my first thought for a hip-shaking dance. Oh well.

I had Veep instead of Vice (MoDo always refers to Cheney as "Vice.")

Amorist again?

And did you know that the word "gazette" for a newspaper is from the Italian word gazeta--a coin, which is probably what a newspaper cost in Venice of the 17th century, or, according to the dictionary, it could have been derived from "gazza" which meant "little magpie."

Easy and fun.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Good puzzle today, but I have to tell you I completely misinterpreted the clue, "#2 informally". I thought it meant something related to bodily functions. And I certainly had a word that fit.

So when the crosses showed me it was VICE - I then wondered if it was the second deadly sin (but then Vice didn't seem informal in that context.

Well, I'm all straightend out now. Thank.


Anonymous 10:47 AM  

When I was in high school, girls took Home Economics and boys on the farm were all familiar with gee and haw way down south, many, many years ago. On Saturday we would go to the movies and watch westerns with Lash La Rue.


Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Knew HAW and GEE from mushing. Didn't know it was used for plowhorses too.

Had MEESHA crossed BET. Never heard of MOESHA, but don't watch TV. MLB or MMB....sounded the same to me. (sory baseball fans)

ASIANA (which is also an airline...) threw me off in that section.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Hey, get used to it, people! AKRON, OHIO is happenin'! ;) So much so in fact that the current issue of Jughead (#182) has us on the cover, with Jughead attending the National Hamburger Festival going on this weekend (I do not jest). And our new art museum garnered national media coverage last week. Chrissie Hynde is opening her first ever vegetarian restaurant here in several months.

I have half a mind to suggest to Will that the tournament be held here one of these years.

That said, I did not know Akron was the site of a defunct NFL team, called the Pros.

Loved VICE; as it's been pointed out by Isabella, Maureen Dowd of the NYT has been calling our president-for-two-hours-and-five-minutes(quelle horreur!) that for many years.

How's this for bizarre - I was doing the puzzle last night and filling in ANKH while watching a documentary about the famed drummer Buddy Rich at precisely the moment that a clip of him was shown from the 60s wearing one around his neck. Super weird. I used to wear them too.

Scott SIMON was a gimme - listened to him yesterday morning. IMOO the best interviewer on radio, better than Terry Gross who most people consider the best. He also wrote a novel set in Sarajevo inspired by his time reporting from there called Pretty Birds. Highly recommended.

Isn't the powder TALCum? I think of talc as the raw material for the consumer product.

Ooh, loved BOOTSY Collins. He was one of George Clinton's posse during the Parliament-Funkadelic heyday and its various offshoots. Oddly, his brother was named Catfish, not to be confused with PORGY's Catfish Row. If you have never seen the doc Standing in the Shadows of Motown, there's Bootsy belting out a memorable Cool Jerk.

My favorite answer to take a chance on with few crosses was SHRUGS OFF. I do enjoy it when I take those chances and they pan out.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

So, why does lemonade + ice tea = Arnold Palmer. I got it (agree with Rex 100% about "vice"), but I don't get it.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Fri. and Sat. were such killers for me that is was nice to get an easy one but, conversely,I felt let down with its ease and it was't terribly interesting. I thought the answer to dummkopf (73A) might be the German for ass. It didn't matter, really, as I've never heard of the British word for tax. Time to Google.

crossnerd 1:16 PM  

The theme fill was very familiar, yup... the only one I hadn't heard before was "you're the only ten I see."

Michael 1:27 PM  

Maybe I'm just hungover and cranky this morning, but... a bad pickup line theme? Wasn't it just a couple of wks ago they did porno movie titles, and now this? These are the kind of unclever jokes we exchanged as pre-teenagers. What's next? Blonde jokes? Frat boy pranks?

This puzzle was too easy and I'm really tired this morning. Still, mentioning the cool Bootsy Collins doesn't make up for the awful LFO reference.

Anonymous 1:47 PM  


Very easy except for the CHACHA / LAUREATE area. Although, my time was much closer to 1 hr. 13 min. than to 13 min.

I should have taken Home ECONomics in high school, as my wife is the breadwinner 'round here (Mercer Island, WA).


Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Altho the answer "talc" is usually clued as the softest mineral on the mohs scale (1 on a 1-10 scale), it is the source of talcum powder and is used interchangeably in xwords, so get used to it.

I'm guessing that calling a drink made of ice tea and lemonade an "Arnold Palmer" has to do with his giving up drinking the hard stuff.

C zar 2:19 PM  

30A: "if you were a laser..." ("You'd be set on stunning")

Shouldn't that be phaser? Kirk and Picard used phasers; I don't think a laser would have a stun setting.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Or isn't it TASER?

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Glad I've never personally heard any of these pick up lines before, but it did make for an easy puzzle. I was glad since I, too, spent most of my day Saturday reading Harry Potter with my daughter. We finished all 750+ pages in record time. Rex, did you finish it yet?

fergus 3:03 PM  

Did the puzzle while listening to the playoff at the British Open, so my TWO FOOTER dropped in easily.

After JAMAICANMECRAZY I thought the the other Pickup Lines would be similar groaning puns. But most of the rest were pedestrian, and assuredly would fail in a singles' bar.

The CHA CHA brought back a moment of 7th grade horror. During enforced attendance at formal, white glove dance class (a particular torture impressed upon adolescents in bourgois suburbs), my very pretty partner whispered about my 'wardrobe malfunction' when stood to shake our hips. Well, it was more a matter of neglect than malfunction ... . Anyway, thanks to niggling bloggers' CHA CHA discussion this delightful memory came flooding back -- and after a moment of flushing embarrasment I was amused to have this memory summoned.

Especially since there were so few memorable clues in the puzzle today.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

Too bad they didn't include "You must have a mirror in your pocket, 'cause I can see myself in your pants." Works every time.

Orange 3:10 PM  

Here is the story on why a blend of ice(d) tea and lemonade are called an Arnold Palmer.

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

This had an interesting mix of very easy and very obscure. I also had VEEP and agree that laser should have been phaser.

BTW TWOFOOTER is not all that arbitrary. In friendly games players usually concede putts that are "inside the leather." This is the length of the shaft between the putter head and where the grip begins. On most standard putters this is two feet.

Anonymous 5:57 PM  

That Arnold Palmer link has some seriously bad usage/grammer/punctuation/syntax/spelling issues. What is it about letting text go public without a good once-over by an English nerd?

There's a huge, expensive neon sign near my house for a discount something-or-other store that says, "Your already saving!!!"

I mean, damn.

I saw Bootsy Collins with Deee-lite years ago, and the Lady Miss Keir threw me a daisy. I kept it and pressed it and dried it and loved it. Also once redirected Joey Ramone around a pool of vomit. Fleshed out, the scene goes like this: "Hey Joey, watch out for the puke!" "Thanks."

Rex Parker 6:03 PM  

Dude, if your gonna gripe about bad grammer, you should at least spell it correctly.


The Joey Ramone story is a thing of beauty.


Campesite 6:28 PM  

I found the cheesy pickup lines quite humorous but a little too clean.

Anonymous 6:40 PM  

We had "politics, economics, and the law" as a class in h.s. I had "ECOL" for the longest time. I'm glad I'm not the only person who hasn't heard of one o'cat!


Anonymous 7:05 PM  

omg lol lmao omg brb naacp. Is that what they call "irony?"

Anonymous 7:43 PM  

Yes, and weren't those phasers "set for stun" rather than "stunning"?

Speaking of Ramones... that is a DEEDEE clue I would have gotten...didn't know Bridgewater

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

It is indeed correct that lasers have no 'stun' setting. Only phasers. Mr. Shortz missed that edit bigtime

Anonymous 9:31 PM  

Howcum nobody commented on "Help wanted abbr" ? What in hell does EOE stand for?

Anonymous 10:57 PM  

eoe stands for equal opp employment

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