TUESDAY, Nov. 20, 2007 - Larry Shearer

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: AFC/NFC football teams - theme answers (in two words) also happened to be names of NFL players, one from the AFC, one from the NFC: 56A: Where this puzzle's theme pairs would like to meet (Super Bowl)

Slow today, but I think that's partly because I did the puzzle as soon as I got out of bed, in my dark office. Words that should have come to me quickly didn't. Partial words looked horribly unfamiliar until a cross dropped into place and then the answers became quite obvious. ETC ETC (44A: "Blah, blah, blah ..."). Gotta go to IHOP with mom this morning, so here's your Kwik Rite-Up:

Theme Answers - followed by the names of the NFL teams involved, and my assessment of the likelihood those teams will meet in the Super Bowl this year:

  • 17A: Big spender's woe? (giant bill) => New York Giants (7-3) vs. Buffalo Bills (5-5) - odds: Low
  • 25A: Revolver toter? (Colt packer) => Indianapolis Colts (8-2) vs. Green Bay Packers (9-1) - odds: Not Bad - probably the most likely match-up of all the ones featured in this puzzle [my initial answer here was COLT PIRATE ...]
  • 37A: MasterCard-carrying ecclesiastic (Cardinal charger) => Arizona Cardinals (5-5) vs. San Diego Chargers (5-5) - odds: Very Low
  • 45A: Peter? (Chief Saint) => Kansas City Chiefs (4-6) vs. New Orleans Saints (4-6) - odds: I'm gonna say 'Zero'

A lot of the clues today were semi-tricky, or challengingly vague. Here's some stuff I tripped on:

  • 1A: Missing Jimmy (Hoffa) - I wrote OLSEN (so no surprise that I got 7D: Superman's birth name (Kal-El) no problem)
  • 9A: General feeling (vibes) - took me Forever to come up with this Cyndi Lauper / Jeff Goldblum movie
  • 16A: Take forcibly (usurp) - wanted only WREST
  • 19A: "Mule Train" singer, 1949 (Laine) - thankfully, never saw this clue
  • 21A: Gum arabic-yielding tree (acacia) - I'm not big on flora, in general
  • 22A: Where to find the headings Books, Dolls & Bears, and Collectibles (eBay) - borrowing from one of my favorite writers, I would call this clue "Dazzle Camouflage"; I was too distracted by the nuttiness of the clue to see (very quickly) the obviousness of the answer.
  • 40A: New York home of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy) - RPI gets a surprising amount of puzzle play. I wonder why...
  • 43A: Mark, as a ballot square (x in) - [wince]
  • 60A: Chain unit (store) - one of the main reasons I took a while in the SW. Retail aspect of the word "chain" just didn't occur to me (for a while)
  • 46D: Self-help category (how-to) - this is oddly clued. I think of "Self Help" and "How-To" as Completely Different parts of the book store.
  • 47D: Due to get, as punishment (in for) - actually stared at INF-R for a few seconds thinking "how can INFER be right!?"
  • 64A: Prickly husk (bur) - Yesterday BURR, today BUR. One-R spelling always looks wrong to me.
  • 11D: LaCrosse carmaker (Buick) - See also ALERO (24D: Olds discontinued in 2004).
  • 21D: Imitative in a silly way (apish) - this answer is silly and yet I got it almost instantly.
  • 44D: Sermon ending? (-ette) - a little something to tide you over between sermons? Not a word I'm familiar with. Apparently it simply means "short sermon"... did that concept really need a name?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


wendy 8:12 AM  

Reasonable mixture of crosswordese and some fun, unusual cluing. Enjoyed and was helped by the theme once I figured out what was going on.

My only error was with X-FILES where I had PFILES. Never got sucked into the craze of that show, so didn't know it, and could only come up with Pin for the voting reference, thinking it might mean the old protocol of sticking pins in the ballot (at least this is how we did it until the advent of electronic voting).

Until I read Rex's commentary, I could not fathom ETC ETC. All I could "see" was ETCET C, and thought something was terribly wrong there.

Papal bull, e.g. - What? Why is an EDICT considered Bull? This seems rather strident, unless, as is not uncommon, I don't understand a religious reference.

You forgot your man SPIRO, Rex. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but for the newer crowd, my favorite Agnew story, back when he wasn't considered a heinous pariah, is when he was running for governor of Maryland. I lived there for 6 years and all too clearly remember his campaign song, the first line of which was "My kind of man, Ted Agnew is." I can't remember what I've gone into the next room for, but I can recall that with staggering clarity.

I always like seeing the ubiquitous reference to RPI because it was also the alma mater of my dearly departed dad. Something that will haunt me forever is that Rensselaer was misspelled in his death notice in the newspaper. I have no idea how it happened since my stepmother handled it and it still burns me up six years later. (sidebar - sorry)

The worst thing about this puzzle is that I am now going to have Mule Train coursing through my brain today. Ugh.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Remembered "Sunday sermonETTE" from TV. Googling turned up many references, all, it seems, having to do with broadcasting.

Hungry Mother 8:54 AM  

I was trying to force "etceta" for a while because I had no idea on the vacuum. I had to go back to it to see the "etc etc".

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Wendy: A Papal bull is just what it was clued as--an edict issued by the Pope. I have no idea of the etymology, but it does not mean bull____ as you might have thought.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Any edict by the Pope is called a Bull. Not considered BS, that's the official name.
My only hangup was EWING SOAP...got it from crosses. The rest was a breeze, especially for an old guy.

Orange 9:21 AM  

My how-to book is shelved with puzzle books and not in the self-help section, but I daresay it can help one to help oneself. The DIY section is probably less for people who need help and more for those who hanker to rebuild their house solo. (I am so not about DIY. I'm more CTYSTCDTWFY—call them yourself so they can do the work for you.)

Go, Packers!

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Sorry Orange: Go, Lions!

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Easy and entertaining Tuesday effort. Not many hiccups or me. I did wonder how a Lea could be considered a "huge expanse" until I saw SAUNA. And I always need help from a cross for yentl/YENTA.

Oh, Wendy: You went into the next room to look for your glasses.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Mule Train yeah yeah.....
Clippetty-clop, clippetty-clop, clippetty, clippetty,
clippetty, clippetty, clippetty-clopping along.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Was Larry Shearer really implying that Dallas would go to the superbowl un-opposed? The Pats maybe, but not the dreaded Cowboys

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

Rick - Sermonette indeed was on TV. Back when stations signed off at night (instead of playing infomercials at you all night) they were very into "public service". A lot of them ended their broadcast days with some preacher delivering a 5 minute "SERMONETTE'.

Eric Selje 11:08 AM  

Here's a puzzle where getting the theme answer (56A) would have helped solve the puzzle very quickly. I suppose it'd be good strategy to find and solve that clue ASAP, eh? It's only taken me about 6 mos. of solving to come up with that brilliant idea.

Go Pack.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Am way behind, just finished Saturday's puzzle last night. I am squinting my eyes through the blog so I dont spoil it by seeing what's written before I get to do the puzzle.

I wanted to respond to Doc John's Saturday post @ 7:39pm: "I'm a doctor and have never used the term "TER" in my life! I guess now that I've seen it I remember it from another crossword in my distant past."

Neither I nor my spouse (both MDs) had a clue either, TER what the heck? However something clicked and I then decided to look up "TID", the commonly used abbreviation for three times a day -- Wikipedia states "t.i.d. from Latin phrase TER IN DIE which means thrice-daily dosage." Many of you probably know that already but I just thought it was funny how we doctors can write something a million times like TID and forget the history of it!

Also, thanks to the poster (?fergus) of the AllBran construction worker youtube clip, my spouse a gastroenterologist with a certain sense of humor found it highly amusing.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Sermonette is a great jazz tune by Cannonball Adderley, actually.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Go Rams!

(Hey! Stop it! Stop laughing at me!!!! boo hoo...)

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Liked the puzzle – although when the theme centers on a personal fixation it removes a lot of the challenge: But I did like. One niggle – shouldn’t 37A be clued “Ecclesiastic MasterCard carrier”? Just to, you know, keep those of us with obsessive compulsive issues from turning light switches on and off 10 times to get back to the comfort zone.
And Orange I have elevated your status – we hayseeds from Green Bay love to find fellow fans far a field. "Daaaa dum da da dum dum GO PACK GO!"

Billy Belman 12:49 PM  

did anyone else happen to do today's newsday crossword puzzle? oddly enough, its 25D ("Kid-lit elephant") is nearly identical to the Times' 23D ("Kiddie lit elephant").

Unknown 1:01 PM  

Why weren't the pariots included? They are most likely not only to be in it and win it.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Got Super bowl before the theme answers and groaned as I know nothing about football teams except for a few New York teams. When I got cardinals I was sure it was wrong as they are a baseball team. I now know they are a football team as well. Managed to complete the puzzle without Googling and with filling in the theme answers from crosses.

As far as crooswords are concerned, one of the worst feelings is getting the theme early and realizing you know nothing about the theme (e.g. sports for me; opera for rex, etc etc) and the only way to solve is by completing all the crosses).

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Nice try Orange, Rick, Eric, St. L, Rafthatmf, but Alan said it: it's the Pats all the way!!

Football fanning aside, this was a really enjoyable puzzle. The theme was well executed, and with so many teams to choose from, it must have been fun to construct. Great fill around it...not a stinker in the lot.

Male to female ratio very high: Hoffa, Laine, Lorne, Ernie, Isaac, Ronnie, Mr. October, Kal-el, Babar, Rin Tin Tin, Spiro and 8 football teams to Funny Lady, Alt, Abdul. I can almost feel the testosterone.

The bull in the papal bull is from bulla which is the seal that authenticates the edict.

Rex... good news about Lowell!

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

P.S. Wiki re: Papal Bull


Anonymous 2:27 PM  

I believe even Lassie was played by a male dog. Son of a bitch!

Who knows when this puzzle was created. Not taking it personally that the Pats weren't there. They're just where they're supposed to be and doing what they're supposed to be doing. I live about 20 minutes away from Gillette Stadium and I know other places where the Pats do show up. Libraries, hospitals, grammar school classrooms, the Y, benefits, fund raisers, assisted living centers etcetc. Most of the time there are no cameras present nor are there reporters and never a paycheck.

Good guys all.

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

Googled Rin Tin Tin to see if the dog was male or female, sorry rikki he's a guy.

Here's his website (they're up to RTT X, born 06/07).

Rin Tin Tin

The Lions are hosting the Packers on Thanksgiving.

fergus 3:18 PM  

Though 25A is the only credible pair, how about an even more likely clue for the theme: Roy Rogers?

Or a most unlikely Bay Area match-up: Gold rush menace?

Only got around to the Sunday puzzle last night. That was a good one, especially since I did it with a friend who often juggles the letters in common phrases. For the Coors Coat, I pictured some knucklehead completely drenched in his Rocky Mountain brew, or the manly excess of same.

ENURE was new to me. Wasn't in the Oxford American, though it did show up in my big Random House (favorite dictionary, btw).

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

I thought this was great for a Tuesday. Easy on the crosswordese with an imaginative theme and good fill. I would have done it faster (3XOrange vs. 4xOrange) if I hadn't blanked on VULCAN. You know its going to be an interesting Tuesday when the 1a answer doesn't leap immediately to mind.

I'd say GO CHARGERS, but, alas, I believe Rex is probably right. Last year was our year and we blew it.

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

Thanks, kalahlaa, for looking up TER. I even asked a woman in my office who had worked in a pharmacy and SHE'D never seen it, either!

Pretty fun puzzle for me, especially once I figured out the football theme. Help me get the CHIEF part of the "Peter?" clue. Unfortunately, I had written in GIANT DEBT before I figured it out (thus sullying my pristine puzzle).

Got the DALLAS clue easily enough and initially thought of ETALII for "Blah, blah, blah" (but didn't write it in).

"Missing Jimmy" was my fave clue for today.

Least fave answers: I LUV U and BUR.

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

OK, I know this may be a bit of a stretch, but 52A Country singer Milsap and 53A Quick Pick game (Lotto) give you Ronnie Lott(o) going across.

Lott was a great free safety for the Niners when they were good. So it was keeping with the football theme. Kinda.


Yeah, I know. I need to get out more.



Anonymous 6:01 PM  

OK, I know this may be a bit of a stretch, but 52A Country singer Milsap and 53A Quick Pick game (Lotto) give you Ronnie Lott(o) going across.

Lott was a great free safety for the Niners when they were good. So it was keeping with the football theme. Kinda.


Yeah, I know. I need to get out more.



Anonymous 6:03 PM  

I'm stunned that no one is singing the praises of MROCTOBER - good stuff, and on a Tuesday no less!

wendy 6:15 PM  

I didn't mention in my morning comments that I loved seeing YENTA today vs. the usual Yentl and oh btw, don't buy an ORECK vacuum. I fell for the ad campaign but shouldn't have.

Anonymous 6:29 PM  

I like the Oreck's lighter weight. It makes it easier to hurl at walls and things.

Anonymous 7:58 PM  

Am feeling rather smug as I thought this puzzle was very easy. Everything fell into place very quickly. I do not like football, but had all the theme answers before I got to 56A !! Knew Hoffa, Laine, Dallas, even Mr. October. The shoe will probably fall tomorrow!!

RBN 9:01 PM  

Liebestraum, "Ronnie Lott" caught my eye too.
I also liked seeing "awful" in front of "superbowl", since that term has described many of them over the years!

fergus 9:11 PM  

Now I realize where Bulletin comes from. My friend from Roma says that so many centuries of dealing so closely with the Pope had left the lingua franca so full of terms for cynicism that Bull would be among the mildest.

And to Kalahlaa; weren't you surprised that the All-Bran ad continues to be shown on programs such as NBC Nightly News? It's such childish scatological humor that you would figure that some prim advocacy group might object. Or even more surprising, that the symbolism escaped the Savonarolas who tend to make commercial television so colorless?

fergus 9:26 PM  

Ronnie Lott was instrumental in two of the best Super Bowls, however (both times at the expense of the Bengals).

Anonymous 10:19 PM  

I found an Oreck in the trash in my alley, it works great on carpets. Forget about wood floors.

Thus one may assume that what is good may one day be free.

Good news (4 me)since my last trip the NYT now arrives daily in Moab and my sister has internet access.

woo woo

Anonymous 12:27 AM  


What you said about the Patriots and the things they do... yes... the Red Sox are out there as well and always have been. I used to work with emotionally disturbed kids in Boston in the 70's and a number of the Sox players came out to see the kids and toss balls to them. And, of course, the fans in Boston are equally fabulous.

See what I mean, Orange???

Kenahoo 9:35 AM  

"No par" is certainly a new one on me, seems a little weird for a Tuesday. A quoted googling seems to indicate that it means a stock issued without a set price (like most stocks issued these days).

Couple that with the fact that I thought "bur" had two r's, and my last empty square sat there for a very long time.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

In San Diego 60A was clued "Chain productive cells"??!!. What happens between a workable clue and what sometimes shows up out here in six-week land! Thanks for showing my answer derived from crosses was ok.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

Somehow the 60A clue arrived in San Diego as "Chain productive cells" ?! Only got "store" from the crosses-glad to see it was ok. What happens between publication and the six-week our version? Enjoy the blog as a source of sanity!

Anonymous 5:48 PM  

I thought this puzzle was fun. I got so many of the top clues so quickly that I had to keep checking to make sure I was not accidentally doing the "daily commuter puzzle" that my paper also prints (Dallas Morning News).
I thought this one would set a record for me, but when I got to the south (especially the southwest) I got stumped. Just couldn't come up with more than one or two words in any direction and couldn't get anything to cross them.
Then I started listing out all the football teams that I know, and finally got CHIEF in front of SAINT, so it all worked out.

Lots of easy fill if you are up on old TV shows and some kiddie lit.
Overall very fun puzzle.

synda kate 12:44 AM  

I'm relatively new to puzzling, my brother, however, is not. So, when I say to him, "Who the hell knows the technical name for a condor's nest?", he just shakes his head and says "aerie". Like that's something you learn in pre-K. At least I got it from the crosses. I'm alearnin' my crosswordese though (thanks Rex). I'll show him someday.

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