WEDNESDAY, Nov. 14, 2007 - Jim Page

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "JUST SAY NO" (36A: Slogan popularized in the 1980s ... and a hint to 17-0, 25-, 28-, 48-, 51- and 60-Across)

My write-ups are going to be somewhat abbreviated affairs for the rest of the month, as I am buried in schoolwork, my mother will be in town for a week, and I have a Major Project I have to finish by the end of the month. I'm sure you'll cover what I don't cover on your own, in Comments.

I guess if you JUST SAY NO and then SAY the theme answers, then they make sense. I actually liked this theme, even if it was easy to uncover and then solve. I blew through the puzzle in incredible time, but then completely crashed and had an only ordinary time. Here was the problem:

39D: Derisive word (yah)

What? What??? What is YAH??? And what is it doing in a puzzle where we already have YEAH (49D: Repeated word in "She Loves You"). I had BAH, which was the only "derisive word" I knew of in three letters that ended -AH. This gave me BETIS for 39A: Fabled "snowmen" (yetis), and it never ever occurred to me (well, until the very end, of course), that YETIS could be the answer. It's such crosswordese that I can't believe it wasn't a gimme, but something about the clue completely threw me. I thought I was looking for metaphorical "snowmen," like some people or agency or something. NSA (33D: Code-cracking org.) or CIA or something. Something à la "Falcon and the Snowman." Anyone? YAH YAH, I say, though I don't know what it means. Ditto USIA (37D: Old Voice of America org.), which as of right now not only looks wrong but means Zero to me. Stands for United States Information Agency. I wonder if this is one of those generational things, where older people got it easy. I sort of hope so.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: A la a free-for-all (holds barred)
  • 25A: Really easy decision (brainer)
  • 28A: Bum (goodnik) - my favorite theme entry, if only for the suffix "NIK"; see also MONIKER (43D: Handle)
  • 48A: Restricted airspace (fly zone)
  • 51A: Pitcher's coup (hit game)
  • 60A: Mediocre (great shakes)
Points of interest:

  • 20A: Western lily (sego) - I will always and forever spell this wrong, confusing it with the palm: SAGO
  • 31A: "Newhart" setting (inn) - a fine 80's show, featuring Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl
  • 58A: "Whoso diggeth _____ shall fall therein": Proverbs ("a pit") - yes, that sounds likely
  • 64A: Suffragist Bloomer (Amelia) - nope, never heard of her; luckily for me, her name is an ordinary enough woman's name
  • 29D: Little foxes (kits) - cute
  • 9D: "The bill and coo of sex" per Elbert Hubbard (poetry) - the only part of any of this that makes any sense to me is POETRY
  • 47D: Excessively flattering (smarmy) - it's just a great word
  • 36D: Self-professed patriot (jingo) - always sounds to me like a cross between JENGA! and a racial epithet
  • 50D: 1952 Brando role (Zapata) - not a movie I've seen, but with the "Z" in place first, the answer was easy to get
  • 8D: "The Dick Van Dyke Show" catchphrase ("Oh, Rob!") - man, are people under, say, 45 going to know this? I have watched far too much TV in my time, and think MTM is hot, so it's not weird that I know it, but ... I don't know, maybe it's fair. I love it.
  • 67A: Hal David output (lyrics) - great ones. Absolutely adore all his work with Bacharach.
THE (19A: It's definite) END

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 5:02 AM  

G'day all. Thought this was a pretty easy and fun Wednesday puzzle, until it wasn't. I liked the theme which I figured out as soon as I got to brainer, and the theme answers, along with most of the fill, came easily.

Then, I duggeth myself a nice little pit and fell in it. And there was Rex! I blame that little derisive word, yah. Yah right! That's about as derisive as that word gets and only with the right attached. "Sarcastic word" maybe, but bah sounded much more derisive to me, too, and not knowing the word jingo or the USIA, along with having "in total" for totally, I was in a bit of a pickle until I took out bah, and fixed totally, and the old abominable yetis popped in.

Other things I didn't know (aileron, the dental dam, ogees, and mali) were easy to get from crosses. Maybe a few too many easy threes (nth, tgi, inn, per, oil, eta, the) and I think I have finally seen all forms of Mideast vip (amir, emir, ameer, emeer). Am I missing any?

The Dick Van Dyke show takes me right back to the days of the Avon lady. She always left little sample packets of creams and bubblebath for my sisters and me. And I always love a reference to the Beatles. Sir Paul's got a new girlfriend, I hear. Better luck this time.

BTW, regarding dental dams, Orange discusses an alternate use for them which I thought was a joke a la the Onion, until I realized it was on Brown University's web site as a recommendation for...well, no spoiler. Sorry, Ms. O, but I have to just say no to that. Eeeewww. What flavor were those and where exactly do you put them?

wendy 7:32 AM  

The joy is back - great puzzle, even though I stumbled in a few places. I smiled from ear to ear (OTIC reference) with OH ROB.

What a great answer (I'm not under 45, but I think those more youthful could be acquainted with Dick Van Dyke through TV Land or Nickelodeon or whatever has aired the show.) I can just hear MTM wailing it.

At BRAINER, I realized something was afoot but even with understanding that all answers would be missing a NO, I didn't get the 80s slogan until later in the game. Thanks Nancy Reagan; worked like a charm.

I had Shutout at 51A before I remembered it was a theme answer, and even then I wanted Hitter which of course didn't fit. Is NO HIT GAME standard lingo? Sounds forced.

Also had ANON for Soon and certainly wanted Bah for YAH - don't know what's going on there. I've heard/read the word but would never have called it derisive.

Also for some inexplicable reason had Ind for INN which made it hard to get AILERON (wasn't sure what kind of wing we were going for here). I certainly knew Newhart's second show wasn't set in Indiana, but wasn't sure where the first (and far better) series was set.

All in all, though, this puzzle was TOTALLY tubular, man! ;)

mruedas 7:41 AM  

Speaking to generational issues, I should say that I am under 45, and did not know OH ROB, but found it rather easy from the crosses. On the other hand, having worked in Eastern Europe in former times, USIA was a gimme. Can't say whether I'd know it otherwise, though.

Another interesting tidbit regarding the variety of spellings of EMEER: I'm currently in the Middle East and studying Arabic, and my teacher is constantly telling me it doesn't much matter which vowel is used. Good for those of us stumbling through the language, but also somewhat explains all the amirs, ameers, emeers, etc.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

I didn't watch Newhart a lot but I'm pretty sure it was Larry and his brother (not cousin) Darryl and his other brother Darryl.
His first series was set in Chicago, Ill.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

I didn't watch Newhart a lot but I'm pretty sure it was Larry and his brother (not cousin) Darryl and his other brother Darryl.
His first series was set in Chicago, Ill.

Orange 8:08 AM  

It takes a little digging to find an online dictionary definition for YAH: (Interjection.) Expresses derision: used to express derision or defiance. [Early 17th century. Natural exclamation]

Lucky for me, I filled in that section with the Acrosses and never even saw that clue.

Rikki, do a Google image search for dental dam and you will find a great many explanatory diagrams.

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

I've been checking out this great resource for a few months and my crossword ability has improved. Thanks Rex and others!

I believe that "yah" would be better understood in the context it is meant here if it is imagined as being said with a highly sarcastic tone such as one a teenager often uses when something is so very obvious to them but less so to the parent.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Yes, we old-timers [>65] knew USIA right off the gitgo. I had monitor for handle...until I got the K.
Pretty easy for us veterans for a Wednesday.
MTM IS, not was, hot.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

I had a couple of Oh Rob momments in this fun puzzle.

Why cannot Neal be Neil?
What is a Dam?

I wish there had been a reference to Nancy Ragen and her "Just Say No" movment.

Note: Appropriate use of quotes

Rex Parker 9:10 AM  


Yes, the Darryls were brothers, not cousins. I've made the correction. Thanks.


PuzzleGirl 9:45 AM  

OH ROB was an awesome answer. I'm under 45, but just barely, and I got it. I've never seen the actual Dick Van Dyke show, but I have seen clips over the years (mostly the younger years I think).

NO HIT GAME sucked. Just sucked. I could NOT get NO-HITTER out of my brain thus could make NO sense at all of this clue/answer. I mean, NO-HITTER is really the only answer that makes sense. Who's with me?

On a cross-country trip a hundred years ago I caught the flu and spent the night in a cheap hotel in DEL RIO, Texas (22A).

I think anonymous 8:18 has the right idea about YAH. It definitely needs a certain inflection to be derisive. I'm thinking Valley Girl. And maybe an eye roll.

I didn't love 14A, Chamber music piece (TRIO). Is the piece actually a TRIO? I think the players form a TRIO and the piece is, oh, I don't know, a minuet.

SMARMY. That's all. Just SMARMY. Great word.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

The first Bob Newhart program was set in Chicago and was SO much better than the one at the ersatz inn in Vermont. I wish somebody would re run it. I am sure it wouldn't be dated a la Archie Bunker et al. A timeless show. Mr. Carlin, Carol, the pilot neighbor, the knitting woman, Mr. Peterson the twerp...
Good puzzle w I first thought to be a rebus.

Orange 10:25 AM  

Keep in mind that YAH ≠ YEAH, pronunciation-wise. YEAH has the short-A sound of CAT, more or less, whereas YAH's got more of a short-O sound, as in POT. Get disgusted and say "Yah!" How does that sound? Yeah, I know. Doesn't work for me, either. (I don't say "Bah!" either. Dangit, what am I saying to express derision? There must be something, but I can't think of what I use.)

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

As anyone would, I mixed up Nancy Reagan and Michael Jordan and came up with the Nikeesque "Just say it" which did not help with the answers.

I tried this as a rebus puzzle: YONO NOHITGAME, TAONE ONEHITGAME?

Finally looked at 17A which I got mostly from crosses, did not read the clue, and the light bulb finally went on.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

I agree, fun puzzle. Somehow, Granny made me think of KNITting and the KNOT eluded me for some time. I'm probably missing something obvious, but I don't getting SAFE for Call at home. Can someone enlighten me?

Puzzlegirl, a trio refers to the piece as well as the musicians, although it's usually more specific, as in a piano trio.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Since Yetis was one of my first gets, I wanted the derision to be YUK. That obviously didn't get me far.

I enjoyed this puzzle. Like another poster I thought it might be a rebus at first, until I had a couple of the theme answers and realized something was left off a familiar phrase. I also wanted an S at the end of things in tubes, for a while.

I appreciated the nearness of Yeah Yeah Yeah and unruly do/mop, remembering that the Beatles were called MopTops back in the day when they apppeared on the scene with their long hair. (long for then)

I'm skeered of quotation marks now.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Checked to see if today's puzzle was posted, before I started. Bad move, since I saw the 'NO'...first thought that 'NO' had to be placed in one square. Really tough to do with no brainer and oh rob--then the light bulb went on. A fun puzzle---I always have 'art ' instead of 'oil'---and 'no goodnik' ---brings back memories of my dad---and that is really, really old

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

The theme slowly dawned on me sometime after twilight. A lovely moment of discovery. GOODNIK was what sold me on it, and that fell easily from TGI (Fridays). The TGI thing is becoming ubiquitous; I say limit it to Friday appearances ('course it's too easy for a Friday).

When I hear JUSTSAYNO I think of the song "Money Too Tight to Mention" by Simply Red which had lyrics about Reaganomics and ended with the extemely odd question "Did the Earth move for you, Nancy?"

I never arrive at the local airport to pick someone up at the (16a) ETA of their flight, as the clue suggests. If they haven't checked bags, I'll arrive 15 minutes post-ARR; if they've checked, 40 minutes after. This is how it works at SEATAC, anyway.

I enjoyed the older pop culture references: Mimieux, Newhart, Brando, and even the Mop-tops. Is Ella MAE Morse in this category as well?

Everyone OK with the quote marks in 39a Fabled "Snowmen"?

A clue to YAH being valley-talk is its propinquity to TOTALLY.

I learned: NEAL Conan, Ella MAE Morse, and KITS.

puzzlegirl -- I think that "On a cross-country trip a hundred years ago I caught the flu and spent the night in a cheap hotel in DEL RIO, Texas" would make a great opening senence for your next novel.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Hey, hank heijink, it's a baseball thing (SAFE at home is an umpire's call). Great puzzle. I am over 45for sure and have never seen the Dick van Dyke show, but knew Oh Rob somehow. Also knew USIA from working in Africa some few decades ago.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Safe at home - think baseball

wendy 11:22 AM  

hank, I think the SAFE answer is baseball-related in this context? I couldn't make it make sense any other way.

hobbyist, speaking of the old Newhart, remember the ep where Bob is a guest on a talk show run by a wolf in sheep's clothing host? She lures him in with pleasantries and then proceeds to rip him a new one on air over his hourly rates while not guaranteeing results? To this day, we use an old VHS copy of that segment at my firm as comic relief to illustrate to our clients the importance of being prepared before attempting a media interview.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

I'm with you, Puzzlegirl. I have never called a NO-HITTER a NO HIT GAME. Ugh.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

As far as the "generational gap"... I'm 25 and I knew "Oh, Rob!" thanks to hours spent watching Nick at Nite as a youth. I've also seen it spoofed numerous other places, including on That 70's Show.

Oncodoc 11:49 AM  

The thing I didn't like about this puzzle was that the clue for 36 across gave me the location for all the other NO answers. This made it much too easy for a Wed. (although, like everyone else, I had to work around NOHITTER for a while)

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

I also thought this was a Rebus, but when nothing made sense I just plowed through and filled in all I could. FLYZONE was my breakthrough, but all in all I found this at least "medium to hard" for a Wednesday puzzle.

Complete agreement on "NO HIT GAME" really stretching here, could anyone really call it anything other than a NO HITTER?

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

for what it's worth -- google hits:

no-hitter / 886,000
no hitter / 2,060,000
no hit game / 154,000,000


Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Dug it TOTALLY! I don’t know why I always want to spell YETI with a D; can never remember Mata (Mada?) Hari either. I guess I understand the consternation but do think No Hitter is actually a shortening of No HITGAME.

Unknown 1:43 PM  


Anonymous 1:52 PM  

yetis the snowmen were jolly happy souls.
Get your ya yas out !

Doug 1:55 PM  

OH RREEEX (doesn't quit trip off the tongue does it?)

All Newhart fans will know that in fact BOTH shows were in fact set in Chicago, i.e. the 2nd show was really not in Vermont. Hats off to the successful blogger who can answer, and I'll post the answer shortly. Clue "Emily, could you wear more sweaters?"

Now, all you "Saturday was moderately easy" folks, start your engines....


Anonymous 2:22 PM  

Liked this one also. Struggled with NOHITTER and had ART for OIL at first, but pretty smooth other than that.

The second Newhart show was Bob's dream.

Orange 2:25 PM  

Vinny V., if you Google "no-hit game" in quotes, you get just 15,300 hits. (They're good hits, too—Time magazine, Wikipedia, the New York Times. Not just random illiterate postings on the internet.) Also, Vinny, if you're picking someone up at the airport after midnight, whoo, does that go fast! Monday night, the luggage arrived within two minutes of my arrival at the baggage claim, and I was home less than an hour after the plane landed.

I met NEAL Conan at the ACPT, where he and Merl Reagle do the color commentary during the finals. He's married to Liane Hansen, who hosts WIll Shortz's weekly puzzle on NPR.

And the quotes for "snowmen" is because The Abominable Snowman is such a different entity than Frosty the Snowman. I liked the clue.

Unknown 2:44 PM  

i really struggled with the SW corner though the rest, including the theme came very easily. as a member of the younger generation of crossword enthusiasts (im 22) this puzzle had a great mix of attainable cultural references

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

There was a time in the early 70s before VCRs that Saturday night was a stay at home and watch TV night. If I remember correctly CBS had a block of programs starting at 8pm that included All in the Family, the first Newhart show, and MTM's show. As Archie would say "those were the days."

BTW like Orange I never saw the derisive word clue.

Doug 3:09 PM  

No Newhart takers? There were two similar instances that I can recall: 1) Bobby Ewing just appears from the dead one day and Victoria Principal finds she dreamt the whole thing; and 2) St. Elsewhere, from 1 to the NTH season, is in fact dreamt by the autistic son of hospital administrator.

In Newhart's (#2) last episode he turns on the bedside light to show us wife Emily, busty Suzanne Pleshette, from Newhart #1, in bed next him. He says something like "Emily, can you wear sweaters more often." Bob must have a thing for endpowed wives, as #2 was frequently dressed in tight fitting angoras, hence the request.

Okay, time to get some real work done....

Doug 3:10 PM  

If you didn't get it, Newhart #2 was a dream sequence, and hence still set in Chicago from the #1 show.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Easy and fun but what in the world does THE have to do with It's definite in 19A. Rex says THE

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

I thought the answer was Mrs. Lillian Bakerman, a group member who was constantly knitting!!!

fergus 3:23 PM  

Guessed the theme after putting in two answers, NTH and EBB, so I was certainly in the FLY ZONE today. In fact, I felt like GREAT SHAKES and a true BRAINER, whereas yesterday I was a slug.

While we're on the baseball topic, I found 32A World Series prize to be a bit inaccurate. The prize is a big trophy with a whole bunch of metal flags on it, a sizable chunk of money, and maybe a call from the president amid a spray of champagne. The RING comes later, and often reluctantly from the team's owner. I don't know when this presentation became an obligatory ritual, but it's not really a prize that gets bestowed on the team members. And while I prefer NO-HITTER, I had no problem with NO HIT GAME.

As a child I didn't like either the Dick Van Dyke Show or Rocky & Bullwinkle, but with a little maturity found them both to be extremely funny and well written. DVD, by the way, was awarded some esteemed prize for the worst ever attempt at a Cockney accent, in Mary Poppins.

And in the 1980s, I didn't know anyone who uttered JUST SAY NO in anything but a tone of total derision. Way more emphatically than YAH.

fergus 3:26 PM  

Puzzlemensch: Definite article, as opposed to a, or an, the indefinite ones.

puzzlemensch 3:31 PM  

Thanks Fergus. That did cross my mind until I read Rex's comment.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

I think the lineup was:

All in the Family
Mary Tyler Moore
Carol Burnett

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

mary tyler moore - my idol. She just moved to Greenwich and I am hoping to run into her some where.

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

Well I had a problem at 39D too. Tried to make it JAB so 39A was JETIS and 51A was BITGAME. Did't think there was such a thing as a "no bit game" and didn't think a J could be exchanged with the Y in YETIS but YAH really didn't seem to fit. Maybe it's related to YAHOO!

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

On the day some of the NY rags announced that MTM was deadly ill with a brain tumor, I saw her, radiant as ever, at Paul Newman's restaurant next to the Westport Playhouse. Check out museums, I've run into her twice in the Whitney.
Fun puzzle, needed no reference aid. Orange, I'm afraid to go to the dental dam site.....

Anonymous 6:28 PM  


I lived a quarter mile from Katherine Hepburn for two years and never saw her.

I lived *next door* to Joan Fontaine for two months and only got to meet her butler and daughter (although we did listen to her phone calls on our party line).

** = ""

Anonymous 6:49 PM  

MTM has a brain tumor? Joan Fontaine had a party line?

I've never lived near anybody, but I did have an impromptu lunch at the 1967 World's Fair in Montreal with Don Porter, the actor who played Sally Field's father in Gidget.;) My father insisted I go up to him since I made such a big deal about recognizing him.

Anonymous 7:15 PM  

Joan was doing a play at the Northland Playhouse in Southfield, Michigan and rented a cottage on Walled Lake which, at the time, was about an hour's drive from there.

Her agents combed the neighborhood prior and asked all the people in the neighborhood to ignore her. Walled Lake is, and was, a very small town and everybody complied to the point that when she sunbathed nude on our dock (her lakefront sucked) everyone pretended she wasn't there, even my grandfather who was of the age to be excited by her (I was about eight).

My mother and grandmother (whom I lived with at the time) were starstruck. Walled Lake was extremely rural then and the only phones we had were party lines, so they listened to her calls.

I got to know the daughter, an adopted native american, because her adopted mom mostly ignored her (she had done her good deed). I got to know the butler/chauffer because he was a good man.

It was a brief moment in my life but it taught me a lot about people that think they are priviledged.

Anonymous 10:22 PM  

Mac.... don't do it!!!

Orange... I'm repressing the dam along with the eyebrow threading, to be pulled out much later in analysis (the memories, not the appliance or brows). In truth, it was the image of the actual dentist using the dam that was traumatic. But then, combined with the alternate usage, it was all too much for me. ;-) California misses you.... 85 degrees today!

Hope work is going well, Oh Rex.

Michael Chibnik 10:52 PM  

"no hit game" is completely ordinary baseballese as in "Nolan Ryan pitched X [I rget the number] no hit games." It is interchangeable with "no-hitter."

Unknown 2:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 2:24 AM  

I go to Brown University, the host of the infamous "dental dam website". I am an RA this year, and was also an RA last year. I leave dental dams on my door. Exactly zero people have used them. This lack of dental dam usage is corroborated by my fellow RAs.

As far as the real world is concerned, it would appear that dental dams amount to nothing more than flim-flammery cooked up by so-called "health educators".

But they are not gross. I think you all are being a little too squeamish. In any case, I am almost sure that this shouldn't pass the breakfast table test. Maybe Will Shortz didn't check the meaning because he'd just heard the phrase before, or something.

I thought the theme was kind of cool, once I got it. I was trying to rationalize having "HOLDS BARRED" meaning "A la free-for-all". That means that you aren't allowed to have any holds? So everything is allowed? (Obviously the phrase "no holds barred" means everything is allowed, so for some reason or another I'm interpreting this entirely incorrectly.)

BT 9:36 PM  

For a revised record - Put QUOTES around "no hitter" and "No hit game"

No hitter = 840,000
no hit game = 16,000

"no hit game" doesn't exist.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In baseball, a no-hitter (also known as a no-hit game, and sometimes called a no-no) refers to a game in which one of the teams prevented the other from getting a hit. A pitcher who prevents the opposing team from achieving a hit is said to have "thrown a no-hitter". Throwing a no-hitter is rare and considered an extraordinary accomplishment for a pitcher or pitching staff.

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