WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26, 2007 - Jim Page

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "NYC" - song from "ANNIE" (65A) that is embedded in all the theme answers

This was a fairly easy puzzle that challenged me only once - in the tiny SW corner, where I couldn't manage to trust any of my answers enough to piece it together quickly. A little patience - fill in the Most Likely right answer and work from there - and I got it done. The embedded "NYC" theme is not terribly original, but the "NYC"-containing answers are uniformly good. Plus there's an "NYC" in the dead center of the grid for good measure. A nice, solid Wednesday effort. I do not remember the song "NYC" from "Annie." I do remember, Very Well, watching the movie on a hotel TV during some trip (possibly to the east coast - NY/Boston, 1983) with my mom and sister. If I'm right, that was also the trip wherein I had a man threaten my life on a city bus. But that's a story for another time.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: "The Defiant Ones" co-star, 1958 (ToNY Curtis)
  • 10D: 2003 Kentucky Derby winner (FunNYCide) - fantastic answer, which goes well in its equestrianness with ...
  • 35D: Vehicles at a petting zoo (poNY Carts) - this was the answer that started the trouble I had in the SW. I wanted CARTS, but it sounded made-up, so I left it blank and went in to the SW and ... well, in retrospect, I have no idea why I stalled. Details below.
  • 54A: Cornmeal dish often served with maple syrup (johnNY Cake) - mmmm, syrup. Sadly, my Holiday Eating Phase is over. Actually, I'm not sad. My body wants normal healthy eating back. It's creaking under the fat / sugar stress.
  • 38A: Song from 65-Across that's hidden in 20- and 54-Across and 10- and 35-Down ("NYC")
  • 65A: Hit Broadway musical based on a comic strip ("Annie") - really, what else was it going to be?

Highlights: Loved the stacking of I, TOO (58A: Langston Hughes poem) and NOT I (61A: Terse denial) in the far south. CANNABIS (40A: Hashish source) looks very cool over ARGYLES (43A: Some socks) and under IDIOT (37A: Yo-yo). The juxtaposition allows you to decide - is smoking pot a. for preppies, or b. for IDIOTs, or c. for preppy IDIOTs? I learned yesterday from an old Onion A/V Club puzzle that ENDO is slang for pot. I wondered why the guys on my rap CDs kept talking about ENDO. I figured it was slang for a place name like, say, North Dakota, or North Dover ... because, of course, rappers love prairie states and Delaware.

More goodness (and some badness):

  • 25A: The second Mrs. Michael Corleone (Kay) - is that the one played by Diane Keaton? Did the first Michael Corleone get killed in Italy? Man, I gotta watch those damned movies again.
  • 57A: Gore Vidal historical novel ("Burr") - as in Aaron. I wanted QBVII, which both didn't fit and was not written by Vidal (it's crossword stalwart Leon URIS's novel about a libel suit involving allegations of experimental surgery on concentration camp prisoners). I haven't read either book in question.
  • 1D: Glacial ridge (arete) - some commenter recently said that if the clue has "ridge" in it, it's ARETE. That advice worked well here.
  • 2D: Deep pink (melon) - ??? waterMELON, maybe, but ... many MELONs are not pink. I didn't know this was an official color. I had MAUVE at first.
  • 5D: Something risky to work on (spec) - Grrreat clue.
  • 9D: Field utensils (mess kit) - a great phrase. I love "K" more than any other letter.
  • 33D: Month after Shevat (Adar) - must remember to brush up on my Hebrew calendar. And alphabet.
  • 36D: Part of S.S.S.: Abbr. (sys.) - Selective Service SYStem.
  • 44D: 1984 gold-medalist marathoner Joan (Benoit) - her name barely, Barely, rings a bell.
  • 48D: Kite's clutcher (talon) - fabulous alliterative clue.
  • 51D: Fit for duty (able) - my real thorn in the the SW. I was thinking the answer was a draft classification, and couldn't remember if the answer was ONE-A or A-ONE. Figuring they wouldn't name the draft classification after a steak sauce, I went with ONE-A, which cause me to write in ARRS instead of ETAS for 63A: Itinerary data: Abbr. Eventually the "Q" in my guess of AQUA (51A: Pale hue) gave me QUIT (52D: Conk out), and the rest fell quickly.
  • 53D: "Superman II" villainess (Ursa) - a bear!? Really? It's been 20 years since I've seen that movie. And I really really want to put another "n" in "villainess."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:37 AM  

It's strange how some days are good for puzzles and some aren't. Today was one of those days. I got stuck in the SW, South, and NE and that all really slowed me down.

Went with the steak sauce (A ONE) for 61D and just couldn't see my way out of that. I went back and forth on PONY CARTS because it just never felt right. Sadly, I eventually just gave up and looked at the solution and slapped myself on the forehead. So frustrating sometimes that I can't see my way out of a wrong answer.

I had the South right, but I was very iffy about it. I just didn't know the word GEST. Though, now that I see the definition, I understand the title of the novel, "Beau Geste," that my dad owned for many years.

And in the NE, I discovered that I had the perfectly plausible ARAL for 16A but the now funny, FANNYCIDE, for 10D. (Gotta learn more about ARAL and URAL...) Perhaps FANNYCIDE is a new procedure that many of us could use after the holiday to lose a few unwanted pounds.

Orange 9:39 AM  

Yes, ARETE is always the answer. Unless you're watching "Merv Griffin's Crosswords," where there was a ridge clue and the answer was arris, which is etymologically akin but archeological rather than geological.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

The first Mrs. Michael Corleone was Appolonia, the one who gave him "the thunderbolt" when Michael went into hiding in Sicily after killing the corrupt cop. She blew up in a car bomb meant to kill him. I've seen the first two Godfather movies about a hundred times--can't get enough of them. I saw the third one once.

I thought this puzzle was pretty dang hard for Wednesday.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

By the way, I fell for ONEA also on the "fit for duty" clue. The way I remember it's ONE-A and not AONE is to analogize to FOUR-F, which for some reason I never have problems remembering (I think because of the draft board references in "It's A Wonderful Life," another movie I can't get enough of.) The anti-steak-sauce mnemonic is pretty good, too.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

I started with the One-A first go-through and switched to steak sauce when I figured out aqua. Evil evil evil! Wanted Walkman (no idea on years introduced) but with no months beginning with W, and figuring boxing day wasn't going to be in some language where there IS a month starting with W, I gave up WALKing quickly.

Never heard the song NYC, but enjoyed the theme anyway, with johnnycakes and tonycurtis and fAnnycide (to begin with)... I guess you have to have a "shrinking" in the clue to get Aral, no? I couldn't believe when my instant fill of cannabis was actually right... had to make sure I wasn't doing the Onion.

Gest I knew instantly from crosswords in the distant past, and second who said it being interesting to finally know the meaning of "Beau Gest".

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Reefer the other day, Hashish today.

Happy Boxing Day !

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

The cross for Langston Hughes/Joan BENOIT gave me problems. Also ARAL vs URAL.

I like the picture of the kite.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

I thought this was sort of brutal for a Wednesday, but maybe the food hangover had something to do with it. A pale hue is always ECRU, except when it is AQUA, I guess.

Unknown 12:50 PM  

I did this puzzle too fast and this made me careless.Got caught on noti:itoo. Never heard of Joan Benoit.Well onward and upward to Thursday's puzzle.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Had the same ONEA SW problem as many of you and got hung up briefly in SE until Kite as a bird dawned. I also wanted ESKER (or ESKAR) for ridge so this was more medium/challenging than easy for me. I liked the fill but was not impressed by the theme.

We actually celebrate boxing day. The grandkids open presents at our place. Spreading Christmas over a couple of days makes it a little less hectic.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Mmm... johnnycakes... but I'm with Rex... no more indulging. Nice to see Tony Curtis after having Jack Lemmon, his buddy in Some Like it Hot, the other day. Lots of good scrabbly letters here... clorox, messkit, ponycarts, argyles, satyr, okapi, and Beijing. Arete has become a gimme, as has okapi which appeared recently. Vidal's Burr is a great account of a pretty colorful character who was indicted for murder during his vice-presidency for killing Alexander Hamilton, a political opponent, in a duel. It pretty much did in the Federalist party of which Hamilton was a leader, and Burr ended up a political exile.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

I had marajuna before I got cannabis (that is, in the puzzle). Although the spelling looked very off.

Never heard of funnycide, had sunnycide instead and broke down and Googled which is quite unusual for a WEd and got the F, then the rest of the NE fell into place.

I found this puzzle really hard for a Wed, although it was after much food and drink, so it may have been me.


Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Also had hominy cakes before I finally got johnny cakes.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

This puzzle gave me all sorts of problems even though I do remember NYC from the musical, saw Joan BENOIT win the marathon on TV, and remembered the name FUNNYCIDE (well, after a few crosses, anyway). (And my name was even in one of the clues.) Alas, none of that stopped me from having a terrible time of it.

Did the WALKMAN thing and then DISKMAN before finally realizing the K was really the C in NYC.

The SW was really killing me until I went, "Brr, it's cold today." BURR opened that corner up for me. Let's not forget that first "Got Milk?" commercial that very humorously featured the Burr-Hamilton duel.

Finally, I think I was the one who made that ridge=ARETE comment that Rex mentioned. Not to blow my horn but I'm amazed that little ol' me was able to provide assistance to The King of CrossWorld. That should keep my spirits up throughout the day!

Happy Boxing Day, everyone!

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Every curious, I wondered what the etymology of ENDO as slang for weed was, and googled +ENDO +slang.
Lo and behold, or should I say HUZZAH HUZZAH, this blog came up #12 on the list.

Holy self aware irony Batman

fergus 1:46 PM  

Messed up the grid by entering JONNYCAKES, figuring that nobody would have only one. Slow in the SW as well, but that was all LIST's fault -- until finally on the third run through the alphabet the obvious price connection fell. Funny relation to pre- and post-Xmas shopping.

I bet I wasn't the only one who started with Walkman instead of DISCMAN. Liked the crossing of CLOROX with SOS pads.

Big Random House dictionary has MELON as medium Crimson along with Deep pink. Along with AQUA, you could get a good dispute going about which colors can genuinely take on Deep and Pale.

Amusing to see the ENGRs returning to MIT after their sabbatical at Rice.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

nope, didn't like this puzzle much. most of the clueing seemed to me to be cheap and obscure rather than clever and a-ha-inducing, so there was little joy in working across the grid. in short, a labor.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

N Y C!
What is it about you?
You're big
You're loud
You're tough.

I really don't like ANNIE, but the college glee club for which I was the accompanist did a medley from it. Plus, my lovely wife and I worked lights for a production several years ago, so the songs are stuck in my head.

That said, I found "NYC" one of the more tolerable songs in the show. Daddy Warbucks sings it, and if you've got a guy who knows what he's doing, you sense that the things he loves about New York are the qualities that he wants to have in himself.

Yes, Diane Keaton played KAY in the GODFATHER movies. And yes, you need to see them (the first two, anyway) again.


Have to say that this did seem easy for a Wednesday, but that's because I found yesterday's puzzle (which I only just got the chance to do) tough for a Tuesday.

Happy Boxing Day! (or Happy St. Stephen's Day. Or, if you're like me - Happy anniversary!)

wendy 2:44 PM  

This was hard for a Wednesday. Except for the SE, I had zilch in the corners and could only solve the middle of the puzzle. Knowing NYC was going to be in the theme answers helped immensely except when it didn't, like FUNNYCIDE. Really? I thought I'd at least heard of every Derby winner. Guess not!

Rebel 5:00 PM  

NYC was sung in the Broadway version of Annie, but not in the moive. Lucky 8 year old that I was - I had both records. =)

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

I thought it was easy until I got back to 1A and 1D, error & esker! It might have been someone else Curtis? Too tired to try later, I peeked. We were up late playing hilarious new literary game, "It was a dark and stormy night..", nailing down author and title from opening lines. My gift to all: see goodreadgames dot com -- p.s. author for the game's title is Bulwer-Lytton

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

Johnnycakes -- brings to mind Vito Spatafore and the final season of the Sopranos.

I didn't notice the embedded NYCs
or recall that it was a song from the musical Annie.

Michael Chibnik 7:24 PM  

I found this quite easy, liked the theme,, and thought there were some clever clues. But I also thought there was a lot of crosswordese -- arete, csi, aqua, spec, anti, aria, zaps, mica, adar, mega, otoe, okapi.

Nice to see the engineers back at M.I.T. and not at Rice.

janie 7:32 PM  

i'd forgotten that "nyc" was a warbucks-generated song. in my mind it was always associated with the lyrics sung by "star-to-be" (the late laurie beechman in the b'way original):

Just got here this morning
Three bucks
Two bags
One me
I give you fair warning
Up there
In lights
I'll be
Go ask the Gershwins or Kaufman and Hart
The place they love the best
Through California pays big for their art
Their fan mail comes addressed to

Tomorrow a penthouse
That's way up high
The "Y"
Why not
It's NYC

cheers --


Anonymous 7:42 PM  

Janie, did you see the version of ANNIE that was broadcast on ABC a few years ago? In a neat twist, the part of the star-to-be was sung by Andrea McArdle, who created the role of Annie on Broadway. (That production also featured the versatile Victor Garber as Daddy Warbucks and the sublime Audra MacDonald as Grace Farrell.)

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

I did today's puzzle on the train to: NYC! My biggest problem was that they didn't turn on the overhead lights. I've only know the term set piece in connection with soccer in England. Getting ready to celebrate our anniversary tomorrow, billnutt!

janie 8:02 PM  

oh, bill -- i did, i did. thx for the reminder. what a nice cameo that was, too!



Anonymous 8:22 PM  

Broadway show based on a comic strip? Abner, of course. Li'l, that is.

Anonymous 11:05 PM  

Words from another musical..."Travel's a curse" (Les Miserables) Took all day to get from Michigan to Philly so I just sat down and finished this. It was pretty easy but I wanted AONE for Able. If I had not tried to read Burr once, I would still be there. ETAS was easy and AQUA had to work and I had no idea about URSA (thought it was a bear). Going to rest so I can tackle tomorrow's puzzle.

Unknown 2:08 AM  

I'm pretty sure ENDO is wrong. It's INDO, as in "indoor" (where it's grown). Dr. Dre et al. lengthened this to "indonesia", but that's just being silly.

Rex Parker 7:49 AM  

There are entries for both ENDO and INDO at Two different (conjectural?) etymologies: ENDO having to do with the tips of the cannabis plant's flowers ("which creates the most resin") and INDO having to do, indeed, with Indonesia, though another definition insists it comes from "Cannabis indica," an Indian, NOT Indonesian hemp plant.

INDO beats ENDO in a [x + marijuana] Google test, almost two to one, but there's plenty of instances of both.

INDO appears to be what Snoop was smoking when he was rollin' down the street sippin' on gin & juice, for the record.


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