WEDNESDAY, Aug. 8, 2007 - Donna S. Levin

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

Theme: Daddy's Home - or, Raising Pennsylvania - "PA" is added to familiar phrases to create new phrases, which are clued

Did this one rather quickly, finishing around 6 minutes ... but I had a wrong square and had to go back and check my crosses, which took me a while. Finally found out that I had entered EONS for 61A: Poetic times (e'ens), which gave me the obviously wrong WAGOR, instead of WAGER (51D: It might be placed at a window), in the cross.

It's a pretty simple theme, but so what? Sometimes simple is nice. No need to fuss around too much or get overcomplicated. Nothing here is that memorable, but it's a pleasant diversion nonetheless.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Back-to-the-slammer order? (PA-role reversal) - speaking of "Back-to-the-slammer," it looks like I might be teaching in prison starting next month; much more on that later...
  • 30A: Reason the kids were left alone? (PA-rent strike)
  • 40A: Reward for a Ringling invention? (circus PA-tent)
  • 54A: Scuff marks on the prairie? (Buffalo PA-wings) - this one is the weakest; I don't get it - what's a PAWING? Is it just the act of putting one's PAWs on something?

There were no real stumpers in today's puzzle. Some entertaining pop culture clues, though. ADO ANNIE (11D: "Oklahoma!" gal) is a funny, horribly awkward name, though perhaps no funnier than DOOGIE (59A: TV's Howser). DOOGIE is better known these days as a character on "How I Met Your Mother" - can't tell you his character's name, as I don't watch that show, or any live-action sitcom, for that matter. The genre is dead, and I'm waiting for the Resurrection. Wait, I take it back. I like "The Office" and "30 Rock." Like "DOOGIE Howser," they have no laff trak. And I am quite sure that I am now the first person in the history of TV commentary to compare "The Office" and "30 Rock" to "DOOGIE Howser." Other pop culture clues include three movies - "LIFE BOAT" (35D: 1944 Hitchcock classic), which I've never seen, but which stars Tallulah Bankhead, whose autobiography I own (part of my vintage paperback collection); "THE FOG" (14A: 1980 John Carpenter chiller); and "Norma RAE" (60A: "Norma _____") - a musical genre that I've never seen in the grid before: AFRO-POP (4D: Music from across the Atlantic - pretty vague clue, considering how many countries lie across the Atlantic from us) - and a "Saturday Night Live" throwback answer: 51A: Baba _____, Gilda Radner "S.N.L." character (Wawa).

I failed my first test of my newly acquired Biblical knowledge. In desperation, wrote in EBAN for ONAN (25A: Son of Judah), but I figured out my mistake quickly. I mean, really, who can keep all the names in Genesis straight (aside from the really major ones, I mean)? Please don't answer that. It's a hypothetical question.

My wife, currently working the puzzle in the next room, will surely be as annoyed by AL'ER (46A: Devil Ray or Blue Jay, for short) as she was by yesterday's NHL'ER. The Mets, who play at SHEA (33D: 1969 and 2000 World Series venue) are NL'ERs, and their Double-A team plays here in town. I do love a minor league baseball game. I am not a TAPIOCA (43D: Starchy dessert) fan, and rarely come into contact with the stuff, so I have no idea why I nailed that answer off of just the first letter, but I did.

It is weird to me that there is a "Toyota Camry model" (1A), since I always thought "Camry" was the model. Thus SOLARA, a familiar enough name, never readily pops to mind (though I've seen it several times before). Can't really picture a T-STRAP (32D: Woman's shoe style), but with "TS" as the lead letters, I got it pretty quickly anyway. Gertrude EDERLE (17A: Channel swimmer Gertrude) is known to me only from crosswords, and while I know RONA Barrett, RONA Jaffe (18A: Novelist Jaffe) is a bit of a mystery to me. Lastly, have you ever noticed how many letters Paul Anka and SRI LANKA (12D: Ceylon, now) have in common? Now you have.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Check out my non-biological progeny working the grid. I can't tell you how happy these pictures make me.


Anonymous 11:16 PM  

Rex, if I may respectfully disagree, this puzzle was harder than either Monday's or Tuesday's. I was hung up for several minutes at the end straightening out the northwest, because 4, 5, 6 down all looked solid -- but what movie ends in UOG? Europop comes from across the Atlantic, too!

ONAN pushes the envelope on G rating, but thankfully there was no ISM (system of belief) elsewhere in the grid.

Anonymous 11:19 PM  

Thank you for the explanation, Rex, I managed to complete the puzzle without understanding the theme.

For pawing, as in BUFFALOPAWING, usually I would think of a bull, head lowered, snorting, and raking a front hoof down and back, before charging. So I guess it could be a buffalo as well, pawing the earth.

Is your child using a pen? Very impressive!

Orange 11:37 PM  

Oh, how I envy you. A child delving into crosswords! I'm counting on Ben developing an interest when he quits hating the act of writing letters.

Paul Anka and his sister, Sril?

I loved RONA Jaffe's Class Reunion way back in the day. I'd bet I'd find much to deplore in it today.

I believe Doogie's current character is named Barney, though I've never seen the show. Blame Entertainment Weekly for this knowledge.

PuzzleGirl 12:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda G 12:07 AM  

A Toyota Camry is a 4-door. The Camry Solara (usually just called the Solara) is a 2-door...a bit sportier.

I found this more difficult than normal Wednesday, but it may just be me.

That little Sahra is something else.

PuzzleGirl 12:10 AM  

I, too, finished the puzzle without deciphering the theme. And it was a difficult puzzle for me. Northwest was the last to become clear. I had BREAD and FRIES before ROLLS. I had BRITPOP and EUROPOP before AFROPOP. I had MEADOW before STEPPE. It was a mess, let me tell you.

And, yes, Doogie's character on "How I Met Your Mother" is Barney. The show is, for the most part, lame. It's best moments are all Barney's though. He's hilarious.

Looks like 65A was left over from Monday's puzzle. Which, come to think of it, was another theme I didn't get until I read this blog. I must be coming down with old-person's-brain.

Alex S. 1:07 AM  

Finished fine but had an error that took literally (and by literally I mean figuratively) forever to find.

I had no idea who Balaam is, let alone what beast he has. Nor do I know the French words for french fry condiments. So when ASP was the first thing that came to mind off of AS- for the former I had no reason to think that PEL was wrong for the latter.

For some reason when I paused to reconsider those answers ASS didn't pop out to me so I moved on again.

Still don't know what SEL is but I'll get around to looking it up.

Anonymous 2:00 AM  


Sel is salt in French.

Balaam was a non-Israelite/Jewish prophet in the Pentateuch of the Hebrew Bible (OT) who is asked to curse the Israelites by the King Balak. Balaam's ass (as in donkey) has the curious distinction of being the only animal to have a speaking part in the Bible. (Although I have not read that part of the Bible in eons and I may be a bit off the mark.)

Rex, as to Onan whence onanism, which gives me the opportunity to repeat my favorite Dorothy Parker line: She named her parrot Onan as he was forever spilling his seed upon the ground.

Anonymous 5:26 AM  

Loved ProfPhil's Dorothy Parker quote. My brain is almost 71 and I still do the puzzles in a reasonable time so there's hope for all you youngsters.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Had Doobie instead of Doogie and, for what felt like forever, couldn't figure out what linber had to do with hanging around. Guess the humidity has finally pickled this old brain.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

I got the theme, but I didn't. When I finally entered CIRCUS PATENT, I kept reading it in my mind as CIRCUS PA TENT and I had no idea what a Pa's tent was, but this made me wonder of one of the other clues had "MA" in it.


Too many concussions as a kid, I guess.


Alex S. 9:14 AM  

Also took me a long time to figure the theme since based on the first two I thought it was even lamer than the real one: a random new first syllable added to a phrase.

Add PA to role reversal.
Add CIRC to U.S. patent.

So even after I had BUFFALO PAWING I was wondering what an ALO (or FALO) PAWING was.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

first theme entry i finished was "parent strike" -- but didn't have the benefit of the full "aha" until "parole reversal" -- which led to my being able to complete "circus patent" and "buffalo pawings."

re: "parent strike" -- saw "trike" emerge, added the "s" -- but then tried to use "went on"... oops...



Anonymous 10:00 AM  

I also found this pretty hard going. I still really don't get the "theme". Pawings just sounds absurd. To me this felt like a Friday puzzle, and certainly way harder than Mon and Tue, both of which I zipped through with ease.

No complaint, just observation.

Liffey Thorpe

Orange 10:31 AM  

Alex's observation: Add PA to role reversal.
Add CIRC to U.S. patent.

Wow! I hadn't noticed that little pit of quicksand you fell into. Most theme entries don't have such plausible alternative explanations, but U.S. patent feels very "in the language" to me.

joeyshapiro 11:03 AM  

I am happy to see more Hebrew Bible bits being worked into the puzzle. I much prefer them to opera and old movie answers. That might just be my personal bias as a divinity school graduate, but what can I do?

I've never seen any of Judah's *other* sons end up in the crossword (by other I mean, of course, not Onan, the guy of dubious distinction). Judah also had sons named Eyr and Shelah. It's an interesting story, actually, found in Gen. 37, I think.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

So, the sportier the car, the fewer doors it sports.

The NW was a real struggle, having started with CELERA (sounded like a plausible Toyota marketing team derived name) and EUROPOP.

Orange, I enjoyed the other ANKA. Thank you.

I notice that AFOOT is right above PEDI (maybe someone already mentioned that).

PA, if memeory serves, was the name the dolphin used to refer to the GCScott character in the movie "Day of the Dolphin", with the famous line "FA loves PA" spoken dolphinishly.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Rex honey, I actually was not bothered by ALERS at all. I'm learning the common clues/answers. I put in _LERS and waited for the downs to tell me if it was N or A. It used to bother me that much crossword success was based on knowing the Pantheonic clue/answer pairs, but now I'm just coming to accept it. Profphil has inspired me to just be/do the puzzle.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

I find it interesting that so many of us, me included, had the same problems in the NW. I also thought that Celera could very well be a camry model, allowing Europop, which still works for Parolereversal, leading me to think it was right. Only when I realized that THEUOG couldn't possibly be a movie title did I begin to unravel the knot.

Pawing didn't bother me, since that's what animals do, paw at things.

My quibble is with SEL, since I don't think of salt as a condiment - ketchup and mayonnaise (which the Europeans are mad for with their Frittes) are condiments. Salt is, well, just sort of salt. Like pepper. Neither a spice or a condiment in my book.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

There's another theme going on this week: names in my family. I was in yesterday's puzzle (WADE), and today they got my daughter (RONA). Over the next few days be on the lookout for my wife ENID, my son ESAU and my dogs, D'Artagnan and Aloysius.

Chip Ahoy 4:22 PM  

Everybody knows condiment for pommes frites is la mayonnaise but that doesn't fit. Jeeze. Neither does poivre, so sel it is.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

I thought this was quite a difficult puzzle for a Wednesday. Just didn't quite get the puns until I looked them up here.

Anyway, can anyone explain to me how a 'Do' (41-d) is a coif. I looked up coif online and it seems to be a head covering, especially from the Elizabethan era. I'm assuming 'Do' refers to a hair style, but wouldn't coif be more of a head covering than a hair style?

Also, question for Rex...what book is that non-biological progeny of yours eagerly filling in?

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

Well, I got mired in the NW and never recovered. It never dawned on me that europop could be wrong, so I just sat there refusing to complete a John Carpenter thriller that apparently started "theuo." Curses.

On a more bizarre note, Neil Patrick Harris once had a five-minute crush on me when I lived in Albuquerque. We went on a double date and played Trivial Pursuit, but at one point he missed a rather obvious answer and before I could stop myself, I blurted "DOOGIE!" at which he blanched and quit liking me. This was years after his child stardom, and I guess being called Doogie was a huge pet peeve. I blame my faux pas for denying me a life of leisure with the Doogster. That, and the fact that he's gay.

Anonymous 4:44 PM  

jonny --

DO as in hairdo. Maybe you had to have had a mother born before 1913.....

Rex Parker 5:05 PM  

In the top picture of Sahra, she's filling out some "crossword" for kids I found on the web. In bottom picture, she's helping her mom fill in a standard NY Times puzzle, I think. We own a book of Trip Payne's crosswords for kids, but she's still a little young for them, I think. Maybe not for long.


Anonymous 5:09 PM  

Chalk me up as another who got hung up on europop and never recovered - not helped by having "fries" for a long time for the diner basketfull, and not getting the "theme" till the very end (BTW. Hawks "stoop", not swoop! Well, maybe they do both, but stoop was so much better it lasted a long time.)
So, put this one way above an "easy" Wednesday for me!

For Alex, and any others, who had trouble with Balaam's beast, I recommend learning the song "The 5 Constipated Men in the Bible":

Orange 5:45 PM  

Celera is the company Craig Venter founded to sequence the human genome.

Jonny—And coif is short for coiffure.

Anonymous 9:36 PM  

Anybody out there from the Chicago area? We are leaving our only child at UW, Madison (please don't yell at me again RP) at the end of August for his freshmen year and are heading to Chicago for several days before the long drive back to northern NJ. My husband has suggested that we stay at The Palmer House, The Drake, or The Renaissance Chicago. Any thoughts and/or suggestions anyone? The very touristy boat ride (alas,not Boatel) sounds interesting to me. We are prepared to splurge on some fine dining. I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have. On Wisconsin! Sorry RP.

Orange 10:14 PM  

Sarah, those hotels are all good; the Palmer House and Drake are old-school nice hotels. The W Hotel is modern/chic, though a few blocks east of Michigan Avenue (it's on Lake Shore Drive). Hotel Burnham is a boutique hotel in a renovated old office building on State Street in the Loop.

Why don't you e-mail me (click "orange" to access my profile with my e-mail address) and tell me what sort of food you're keen on? You can also use the Chicago Reader Restaurant Finder to dig up some ideas.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

From 6 weeks behind land (and back in action now that they are publishing the DP on a daily basis now)...

I ran into TSTRAP and STAN Smith in a very recent puzzle, they were gimmes.

Had trouble with SOLARA and THE FOG crossing with what I thought was EUROPOP.

I'm way out of practice with timing, after taking about 4 months off from it. This one took my 13 minutes.

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