MONDAY, Nov. 5, 2007 - Jeremy Horwitz

Monday, November 5, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: First name "J" - theme answers are all guys whose full names start with initial "J."

Blew through this one in near-record time for me (around 3:45). I think I could have been in the low 3's if a. I had ever heard of J JONAH JAMESON (39A: Editor out to smear Spider-Man), and b. I had gone with BOFF instead of BEAN at 45D: Hit, as on the noggin (which made me trip painfully in the "L.A." section of the grid). I had to get J JONAH JAMESON almost entirely from crosses - that's especially embarrassing given how much I talk about comics, but, as I may have said before, and will certainly say again, I Do Not Read Marvel Comics. They are for teens with inferiority complexes (i.e. no friends and bad skin). I am an adult with a superiority complex. Thus I read DC - or independent publishers.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: T.S. Eliot title character who measures out his life with coffee spoons (J Alfred Prufrock) - I'd be impressed by this answer if I hadn't seen it recently
  • 39A: J JONAH JAMESON (see clue, above)
  • 61A: Vice president who once famously mashed "potato" (J Danforth Quayle) - hate the clue, but love the name - this must have been in the grid before; it's the perfect length, and it's got many highly Scrabbly letters.

There is nothing challenging about this puzzle. My BEAN for BOFF screw-up delayed my getting 50A: A goose egg (zippo), which, by the domino theory of crosswords, kept me from getting PONDS right away (51D: Unilever skin cream brand). I patched it all up rather quickly, but in doing so squandered my potential record-breaking time.

What I like most about the puzzle, besides J DANFORTH QUAYLE, is its poppy musicality. Check out the wide variety of pop music clues:

  • 1A: "Lady Marmalade" singer _____ LaBelle (Patti)
  • 2D: Frankie of "Beach Blanket Bingo" (Avalon)
  • 9D: Lively '60s dance (frug)
  • 30D: Its first ad touted "1,000 songs in your pocket" (iPod)
  • 36D: Singsong syllables (la la)
  • 39D: Guitarist Hendrix (Jimi)
  • 61D: Female singer's 2001 album that debuted at #1 (J-Lo) - wait, is she a theme answer too? If so, genius.
  • 24D: California city in a 1968 Dionne Warwick hit (San Jose) - love every Bacharach song she ever sang

SAN JOSE pairs nicely with SAO PAULO (11D: Brazil's largest city), which, it turns out, I can't spell. I instinctively spell it PAOLO, which gave me ORI at 34A: Geller with a spoon-bending act. Scanning the puzzle, I figured OR I was just a weird partial (though now I can't think of any xword-worthy clue for OR I). The answer here is of course URI. I think he has some dumbass new show on FOX. My first thought: "He's still alive?" He looks ... well preserved.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Very easy one but I could never solve it in such a short time as you speed freaks. Oops, I mean speed demons.

PuzzleGirl 9:28 AM  

Thank God! I finally have "Lady Marmalade" going through my head instead of "Copa Cabana"!

Unknown 9:38 AM  

Great write-up, Rex. Very thorough.
Uri Geller is still bending those spoons? I had no idea.

Orange 9:44 AM  


Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl
With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there
She would merengue and do the cha-cha
And while she tried to be a star, Tony always tended bar
Across a crowded floor, they worked from 8 till 4
They were young and they had each other
Who could ask for more? (Oliver!)

At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana (Copacabana)
The hottest spot north of Havana (here)
At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion
At the Copa....they fell in love

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

I'm guessing your thought pauses are measured in seconds? Uri is an exposed phoney, incidentally.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Needed an easy one after this past weekend.

If you want to see a fun Frankie and Annette beach movie (also good to watch with your kids) try "Back to the Beach".

They do a good take-off on themselves and there is an appearance by Paul Reubens in Peewee guise.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Dear Orange,

I leave you with one song for the day:

Its a small world after all...

And I once adopted a rescued Quail and guess what I named it...

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

dk, orange, puzzlegirl --

In 2003 or 2004 I heard Billy Collins (ex- USA Poet Laureate) speak in Seattle. He said that the worst songs you can get playing in your head are “Tainted Love,” “More than a Woman to Me,” and “Fill me up, Buttercup”, and that there's no known cure for getting rid of them.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Rex -- Pretty sure it's BachArach, at least I always hear it with a "middle" syllable. Yep, Google sayso.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  


Loved the write-up.

Add "riff" to your musical clues!

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Bizarre picture of Mister Geller. Could be captioned "Breaking into cars without a coathanger? No problemo" or "Is your silverwear avoiding your head too?" or, of course "Gag me with a....."

My misspelling of SAO PAULO was worse than Rex's. Seems so obvious looking at it now. Perhaps SAO rather than SAN gets me misdirected....the Spanish names are so much more familiar (to me) than the Portuguese ones.

I wonder why the sexy nightwear article is called TEDDY, based a masculine name. I'd prefer something based on a female one, like, say, a "Margie". But anyone could wear one, so a uni-sex name would be more perhaps A "Patty."

Good to see OBOE without any indication of melancholia this time.

Though I've seen way too little of "The Simpsons", I knew MOE right away...learning much about the show just from the puzzle.

I enjoyed this Monday puzzle.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

from word detective:

The "teddy" is thought to have been so christened back in the 1920's because its somewhat shapeless puffiness reminded someone of the general outlines of a teddy bear. Someone who presumably needed new glasses.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Love your blog. It got me doing the NYT puzzle again. Liked today's 'cause it made me feel competent.

Favorite answer: J Alfred Prufrock. Made me feel educated! : - ) Got it with only the JAL.

Good luck.

kumar 12:16 PM  

Got stuck in the Southeast corner.

Am still scratching my head as to how "Saw-toothed" is Serrate and not Serrated. Am I missing something?

And how does "Rapid Transit" become Raft? Transit it may be, but how is it Rapid?

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

kumar --

transit over "rapids", as in white-water...

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

kumar... I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who mis-read the "rapid(s)" clue... I had races in that spot for the longest time, which lead me to completely bungle the SE for a while until I let my eraser do the walking (figuratively speaking... I use AcrossLite), leading me to "curled" for the edges and exiled for the De Sade and Duke clues (what do I know?... maybe they were!) and a complete mess for the unfortunate sound.

The most fun was discovering JLo (intentional/unintentional thematic answer?) down SW there!

I enjoyed, and once I got on the rapids raft felt it was a reasonable Monday playtime.

Orange 12:40 PM  

Kumar, serrate is also an adjective.

Wikipedia tells me Uri Geller is 60, which means he was pretty young when he became crosswordese. Apparently he is friends with Michael Jackson and in 2001, said he doesn't like Jacko's plastic surgery habit. Hmm, looks like Uri got over the distaste for plastic surgery.

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

Tenser, said the Tensor. Tenser, said the Tensor. Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun.--Alfred Bester

I put ZILCH in instead of ZIPPO and had only an average Monday time.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

J Danforth at the VP debate:


Anonymous 2:52 PM  

That guy in the picture is 60? Yeah, looks like he's all about the surgery now. Eeek.

I did not notice the J LO themery until you mentioned it, Rex. Definitely inspired, assuming it was intentional.

Loved the puzzle, especially pairing the Marquis de Sade and the Duke of Earl. With the answer being TITLED. Too too funny.

PuzzleGirl 3:47 PM  

Damn you, orange! And double damn you, zippo marx! Your post got me thinking of my least favorite song of all time: "Send in the Clowns." Now THAT will be in my head the rest of the day.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Wikipedia says: "As of 2007, Quayle is the only living former vice president never to have received his party's nomination for the presidency." So, sometimes we get it right. Or at least we don't get it wrong in one way we could. Unfortunately there are lots of other ways to get it wrong.

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

Doesn't DANFORTH have an "E" at the end?

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

Wow, yesterday I said I wondered if Marvel would demand equal time because of the "Batgirl/Wonder Woman" clue, and here's Jolly J Jonah Jameson in all his glory - and as a theme answer, no less!

Rex, I'm not going to try to change your sweeping generalization about Marvel comics, but I will thank you for using a Steve Ditko drawing of J. Jonah. When I saw J.K. Simmons as Jameson in the first SPIDER-MAN movie, my wife said I audibly gasped; he WAS the Ditko Jameson come to life.

And for the record, Uri Gellar showed up in an issue of DAREDEVIL.

Did I mention that I interviewed Patti LaBelle a couple of years ago? She was very pleasant to speak with.

Nothing too strenuous about this puzzle, but it was kinda cool to see J. Alfred Prufrock (whose name cropped up in an old issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA).

Anonymous 6:14 PM  

anyone else confused by "boff"?

biff |bif| informal verb [ trans. ] strike (someone) roughly or sharply, usually with the fist : he biffed me on the nose.

boff |bäf| informal verb [ trans. ] have sexual intercourse with (someone).

Anonymous 6:50 PM  

puzzlegirl -- try humming a few bars of Dancing Queen to clear out the clowns.

karen -- is that the Alfred Bester of "The Stars My Destination"?

Serrate looked odd to me also, thanks Orange for clearing it up.

I also did not know JJONAH... and had to get it from the crosses, which does slow one down.

And finally, I think anon 6:14 may have a point about BOFF.

Michael Chibnik 7:26 PM  

I was filling this out quickly mostly with acrosses and wondered if any of you had ever finished a puzzle completely with either only acrosses or only downs.

Anonymous 8:06 PM  

For 35A Light Golden Lager, I had PALEALE. I had the initial P and got suckered.

Anonymous 10:20 PM  

From the Random House Unabridged:

boff, v.t, 4. to hit, strike

fergus 10:22 PM  

What, no J. Edgar Hoover? or J. Pierpont Morgan? Or even J. T. Snow?

If there's any measurement of most quoted lines from a poem I might have to place a bet on Prufrock. There's even a couple of movie titles so derived. (I've heard the mermaids singing, each to each.)

"And would it have been worth it after all, After the cups, the marmalade the tea ... among some talk of you and me ..."

I love the fog curling about the house in the first stanza.

And so a RIFF is a musical phrase? I know that's right, but the clue makes it sound so formal. With Omar Khayyam right there as well at the top I thought we were headed for a high-brow Monday, but obviously we sank as the ranks grew lower. The potatoe gaffe actually made me feel sympathy for the poor Hoosier. It's a sad commentary that this will probably be a notable inclusion in his obituary.

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse"

Anonymous 11:06 PM  

Jetflyer, everything I know about beer I learned from local brewpubs. If there's one near you, check it out.

Fergus, for most-quoted poems, I don't think you can find one that's quoted more OFTEN than Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken." (Although "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" gets cited a lot, too.) I'll grant you that "Prufrock" has had many DIFFERENT lines quoted.

Orange 11:41 PM  

If you like "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and you like parody, you will love crossword constructor Francis Heaney's book, Holy Tango of Literature. ("Holy Tango" is an anagram of anthology.) In the online version of the book (which lacks the illustrations in the printed book), the very first poem parodies Eliot. T.S. Eliot's name can be anagrammed to "Toilets," so that becomes the setting of the parody poem (which hews to Eliot's meter and rhyme). My favorite line:

To the stall the people come to go,
Reading an obscene graffito.

fergus 11:43 PM  

Like Hamlet, Prufrock has so many All-Star lines that few of them seem hackneyed. I guess that what makes some of the difference. Frost's observation about fences and neighbors may have even more referential citations, but who can possibly be counting?

fergus 11:52 PM  


A fly on the wall at the Minneapolis airport? Way too spookily prescient.

Your parodist started channeling Poe mid-way through, I thought. But nonetheless, quite clever.


Orange 7:58 AM  

Fergus, I recommend the book highly—it makes a great gift for your literature-savvy friends.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

I had JUMBOJET instead of JETPLANE at first. All those J's, I guess.
Also, Uri Geller's show is on NBC--it's called Phenomenon. From the commercial shown during Heroes, it looks like co-host Criss Angel got into a big fight with an audience member during a live broadcast. You just can't get better entertainment than that.
Thanks for the great blog! I've started creating crossword puzzles (just sold one to the NY Sun, package to Will Shortz goes out today!) and as I fill the grid, I think, "What would Rex Parker (and also Orange on her blog) say about these words?"

joecab 2:22 PM  

Yeah, but c'mon, JJJ (and even your panel above) dates back to classic Spidey comics, back when Marvel was the best thing around.

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