SUNDAY, Oct. 19, 2008 - Joe DiPietro (Ballet's Markova or Alonso / Platform introduced in 1981 / New York City racetrack, informally)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Perjury" - 112A: Perjure oneself ... or what can be found six times in this puzzle (LIE UNDER OATH) - letter string "LIE" is physically located directly under the letter string "OATH" six times in this puzzle

This is a wonderful idea. I was annoyed until the very end because I thought "How can putting OATH" in six answers be a theme?" Never saw the LIEs until the theme-revealing answer. Always a good feeling - being genuinely surprised by a puzzle. The only little glitch here - and it's very little, I'll admit - is that the theme-revealer breaks the consistency of the execution of the theme, putting OATH in the shorter answer and putting it on top of LIE. I realize that still makes LIE under OATH, but it looks and feels different. Further, you've got a lone OATH hanging out there all by his lonesome. The OATH in LIE UNDER OATH sits atop not LIE, but LOY. LOY under OATH is funny if you are former crossword blogger Robert LOY, but otherwise, it's just sad. What's sadder (to me) is that it appears the constructor really wanted to get LIE to work (where LOY is now). You can change the "O" to "I," but that "Y" just won't become an "E" no matter how hard you try. No such thing as "WHE." Unless you are interrupted in the middle of reciting "Little Miss Muffet."

Theme answers:

  • 24A: Is completely hamstrung (can't dO A THing)
  • 28A: Completely cover (LIE over) - LIE appears as himself ... hmmm

  • 26A: Cold sufferer's complaint (my thrOAT Hurts)
  • 30A: Contradict (beLIE)

  • 57A: Part-time players (semi-prO ATHletes)
  • 61A: Confines (purLIEu) - now that's how you bury a "LIE"

  • 77A: Title of some 2004 Summer Olympics preview shows ("The Road tO ATHens")
  • 83A: Security agreements (LIEns)

  • 108A: Atlantic City casino (Show BOAT Hotel)
  • 114A: Batted the ball too high, perhaps (fLIEd out)

  • 106A: Certain feeds for horses (OAT Hays)
  • 112A: Perjure oneself ... or what can be found six times in this puzzle (LIE under oath)
Here are some things I tend to complain about when reviewing a puzzle - little aesthetic things. Like this grid has SO FAR (102D: As yet) and AFAR (46A: Way off), and I just wish it didn't. PIT is not an actual 44A: Stomach section. That's a metaphor. If I'm wrong, I suppose one of my many biologist readers will correct me. I have no doubt that BON TON does indeed mean 9D: High society, but "High society" makes me think of Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby, where BON TON makes me think of a department store. Finally, I have to say that the clue for SLUG - 55D: It doesn't really represent change - seems flat-out wrong to me. In fact, by definition, a SLUG does represent change. It's not really legal tender, but it sure as hell "represents" change. It stands in for change when you put in the pinball or vending machine.

Kwik Kountdown:

  • 1A: Titles for some monks (doms) - I had FRAS. This is what happens when you know too much about medieval religious.
  • 31A: Stream bank sliders (otters) - I thought this would be some kind of as-yet-unheard-of seafood. And if you're Really hungry, I guess it is.
  • 34A: Old printing process, for short (roto) - learned from xwords; it's short for "rotogravure" (or so I'm told)
  • 50A: Ballet's Markova or Alonso (Alicia) - one of a handful of "???" answers today. [Actress Silverstone] would have helped me here.
  • 56A: Opposite of comico- (serio-) - weird - the only word I can think of that uses either of these two word parts actually combines them: "seriocomic."
  • 84A: Spanish Harlem grocery (bodega) - any excuse to play Aretha is fine by me:

  • 101A: Platform introduced in 1981 (MS/DOS) - mmm, vague memories
  • 103A: 1969 Nabokov novel (Ada) - Read it when I was 21 and don't remember a thing about it. Lolita, I remember.
  • 8D: Poet known as "the Tentmaker" (Omar) - feel like I haven't seen this clue for this guy in a long time.
  • 23D: Kind of rice used in risotto (arborio) - interesting answer. I kept thinking ARROYO (which means "canyon"...?) and AROMATIC and, of course, BASMATI (!?).
  • 42D: Cardinal's residence (bird's nest) - I of course went for Catholic Cardinals first. Then St. Louis. Something about "BIRD'S" feels redundant here.
  • 52D: Slip a Mickey to (drug) - any puzzle with both DRUG and SLUG is OK by me. Spade gets slipped a Mickey in "The Maltese Falcon"; here's a nice long clip from the movie's middle, which culminates in the Mickey scene:

  • 75D: New York City racetrack, informally (Big A) - total guess. For one second I thought "BIGA?" Then my xword experience kicked in and I parsed it correctly.
  • 97D: Longtime Philippine archbishop _____ Sin (Jaime) - really? He's famous enough? OK. Total guess.
  • 109D: Siouan people (Otos) - weirdly, I feel like I haven't seen them in a while. They're normally about as ubiquitous as ERIE.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


JoefromMtVernon 9:13 AM  


The Big A is a reference to Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. The constructor must have heard it in an "off-track-betting" ad on tv.

All of the difficult spots I found would have fallen faster if I realized lie went under oath. Oh well...


JannieB 9:31 AM  

Luckily, I started solving NW to SW and once I corrected FRA to DOM, enjoyed my jaunt down the Pacific Coast Hwy. My good fortune came at the theme revealing clue, without which I don't think I'd have ever solved a good bit of the east coast, especially "purlieu".

Very enjoyable Sunday - good theme, well executed.

ArtLvr 9:34 AM  

Rex, I'm surprised you didn't complain about HURT twice in the puzzle, at 107D and toward the end of 26A, and OUT crossing OUT in 10D and 20A... In fact, there was an odd feel to the whole thing, as in phrases like OATHAYS, until the theme came into view! Of course, at that point much stretching could be forgiven. It was good fun overall.

We did see 8D OMAR within the last eight months or so, because some complained that the clue seemed to require last name Khayyam. I wrote at the time that I thought Omar was okay, because he was also known as Omar the Tentmaker.

FYI, here's more: Omar Khayyam's full name was Ghiyath al-Din Abu'l-Fath Umar ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami. A literal translation of the name al-Khayyami (or al-Khayyam) means 'tent maker' and this may have been the trade of Ibrahim his father.


ArtLvr 9:41 AM  

p.s. I tend to disagree that the clue for 55D SLUG is wrong, because a slug pretends to represent change but as the clue says, it "doesn't really". (Thus another kind of lie too!)

Twangster 9:56 AM  

I had the opposite experience ... saw there were 6 LIES but didn't realize the OATHS were there as well.

Jeffrey 10:21 AM  

AMERCE? That's a word? Hands up if you have ever used that word. Anyone? Crossing STEEN? Could have been any vowel.

I got BODEGA wrong. I always get BODEGA wrong. Someone help me remember BODEGA. I'll keep writing it, maybe that will help. BODEGA.BODEGA BODEGA.

BODEGA was in a bad area. I had IT IS SO for I DID SO. Thought is was something Yoda or a Kung Fu master would say. Led to TADS for DABS - logical. DIGA for BIG A - could have been any 4 random letters to me.

I did like the theme and that's no LIE UNDER OATH. It was not obvious but helpful once discovered.


If you steal a STEEN at the BODEGA you will get AMERCED??!

It is so.

Orange 10:33 AM  

Crosscan, I use the word AMERCE all the time. Well, in crosswords, anyway. My aunt's husband has an Aunt Merce, which seems somehow relevant to this discussion.

Rex, ARROYO? Your brain obviously chewed up arroz con pollo and egested ARROYO.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

@crosscan--I have never heard or used AMERCE. As far as BODEGA goes, I remember first hearing that word in an old (Graceland-era I think) Paul Simon song. Not a word commonly used commonly around here--I imagine it as kind of an urban bait shop.

janie 10:53 AM  

i had the same experience as twangster. saw the repeated LIE and wasn't nearly as impressed as i was with (what i now see as) the terrific OATH-containing phrases. all-in-all one helluva successful theme/gimmick.

and like rex, first entered FRAS (and FATWA...) for DOMS (and DOGMA).

"rotogravure" shows up famously in irving berlin's "easter parade":

On the Avenue, Fifth Avenue,
The photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're
In the rotogravure.

btw, this one did not feel "easy" to me. found it difficult at times to find the right combo of letters. had TOGA (for BIGA...) thinking of saratoga... and DOTS for DABS...

still -- all's well that ends well!



Shamik 11:45 AM  

Somehow I made it down to the 112A before doing a lot of the puzzle and it just clicked for me. So I could stick in a bunch of OATHS and LIES. Often when solving a puzzle, I throw in a bunch of oaths, and my lies are usually just mis-starts! word for me and it sounds like part of the below dialogue:

Lucy: Ricky, do you remember Fred and Ethel's last name?
Ricky: is AMERCE!

So I liked the theme, but didn't like the puzzle. It just goes that way sometimes.

FRAS with DOMS (cause it seems you see more FRAS than DOMS in puzzles)
STOIC to STAID and back to STOIC
IZE for ISE (had to reread the clue)
SOPALIN for SODALYE (and my hostess makes artisan soap...I should have known better or should have asked her)

ATSIMMER for lower to simmer, you don't put something on either lower to a simmer or bring to a simmer. Just seems wrong. House chefs...what do you say?

As for OATHAYS? Has ANYONE in the horse world ever said that? They eat oats. And they eat hay...often timothy or clover, but OATHAYS? Sounds like pig latin to me!

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Interesting point about the OATH over LOY on the bottom. It's even closer than you suggest: put a T in the "cheater" black square at the end of 110D/120A, forming WHET/ID EST, and it works perfectly. Alas the corresponding "cheater" on top is harder to get rid of (the problem is the Down entry **CU, even with options such as BOBOS, LOBOS, and HOBOS crossing STD), and I suppose the constructor -- who used no other "cheaters" in the entire grid -- tried but eventually gave up.

Still, generally a fun theme and puzzle, even given occasional glitches (mostly noted already). I solved from the bottom up, so realized what do with each OATH. Interesting that both ways of placing LIE under OATH allow for good crossings.

A further clue objection: the range of the 8A:OBOE is actually on the narrow side for woodwinds: the flute, clarinet, and bassoon each has at least 3 octaves in normal orchestral use, and while Wikipedia may report a 3+ octave range for the oboe too the notes above high F (maybe G) are hardly ever seen or heard, usually for good reason...


P.S. Typo: it's surely "medieval religions" Rex knows too much about, not "medieval religious".

Rex Parker 12:09 PM  


It's not a typo, I assure you. Years of training as a medievalist have made me familiar with word usages that are possibly unfamiliar to a good many people - in this case, the use of "religious" as a plural noun.

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Jaime Sin was not only an archbishop, but also a cardinal... hence the ironic name "Cardinal Sin"...I am surprised the clue didn't read something like
"______ Cardinal Sin" ... interesting in that there is another "cardinal" clue in the puzzle...I agree he's a bit obscure for the puzzle...but was fairly involved in Philippine politics...

btw... I had "FRAS" for "monks" also...LOL

Debsanger 12:13 PM  

Rex might also know too much about medieval religioNs, but it's not a typo. The noun religioUS collectively refers to members of religious orders, i.e., monks (and nuns, too).

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Stop crosses Pots bending around a corner. I thought that was pretty neat.

Amerce has definitely been in a crossword before, and I remember thinking it was a ridiculous crossword-only word, so it stuck. Easy peasy lemon squeezy this time.

I've tried to find a video of the scene in Half Baked where they talk about Bodegas (say it with me with no luck. I thought bodegas were specialized drug fronts for a long time because of that movie.

I'm a biologist, but the stomach/pit clue/answer didn't really bother me. Generally it's the molecular biology clues that are a bit dubious. One such instance that pops up with dismaying frequency (maybe it was just two or three times a year or so ago, but that's two or three times too many and it feels like yesterday) is cluing Amino by something like "Protein acid, for short." Ugh. No one would ever refer to an amino acid as an amino. It's just ridiculous. I do have to give Shortz and Joe DiPietro props for Lectin at 21A, though. Pretty obscure and clued accurately.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Didn't know JAIME/AMERCE. Didn't know RAI, thought OTOS should be Otoe, so couldn't get IDES. Couldn't think or Eau CLAIRE--planned to come back to it, but forgot, so pectin stayed--since I never heard of LECTIN, which sounds like something out of "Silence of the Lambs".

So, another failure for me today, OHNO!

On the upside, this was a rare opportunity to get some answers by figuring out the theme--PURLIEU, in particular. I sorted out the fras/DOMS thing and replaced lookma with HEYMOM. Didn't waste too much time before correcting nowsmile to BIGSMILE. And I eventually accepted PRESTO even though my computer for some reason changed the clue to "Viol?!", which only makes sense if two arrangers are arguing about instrumentation. So it was a pretty fun solve until those last few squares would not fall, and, of course, the error.

chefbea 12:47 PM  

A fun sunday puzzle. Saw all the lies and saw all the oaths but didn't realize lies under oath 'til I got to the bottom

I knew Steen from my art history classes and Of course Mac knows him better than I.

As for simmering you bring your soup to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer. Or you put your stew on to simmer.

There is a very good Fish Store in Greenwich called Bon Ton.. Think I'll get some fish there and have it with risotto.

Shamik 1:13 PM  

Oh Chef Bea...that's so close to where I'll be in Stamford the next two weeks. We so miss fresh seafood out west.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Re:x and debsanger: Wouldn't the usage then be "know too much about *the* medieval religious"?

Forgot to note: 28A:LIE does "appear as itself", but using the other meaning of the word; more troubling in this regard is 30A:BELIE.


chefbea 1:48 PM  

@shamik - I live in Stamford!! e-mail me. I'll tell you good places for fish

Doug 1:50 PM  

I was just so happy that "little bits" was not IOTI. And considering the amount of pale ALE I had last night, I'm surprised I blanked on "they're drawn."

archaeoprof 1:51 PM  

@Crosscan: I never ever even once in my life had heard the word AMERCE until today.

And I have no idea where I ever learned the word PURLIEU.

It was a good fun Sunday puzzle, with a clever and well-executed theme.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

@rex: what if you clued WHE as A roller coaster scream cut short?
It's kind of lame but at least gives you the LIE under OATH under LIEUNDEROATH.

@Shamik: I definitely put stews and soups ONSIMMER on the stove.

I thought this puzzle was easy and sort of uninteresting until I got to 112A and realized how clever it really is. Great job Joe DiPietro!

miriam b 2:44 PM  

Couldn't let go of BIRDhouse for a while, but PRESTO, I realized that it had to be BIRDSNEST. I loved this puzzle and thought it was DEUCEdly clever. I could NEER CREATE such a masterpiece.

I made some ciabatta last week and used a sort of starter for it which is called BIGA. No horses there, or even OATHAY.

Apparently under some sort of subliminal influence, I made granola this morning, and also whole grain bread. Both contain oats.

jeff in chicago 2:44 PM  

Excellent puzzle/theme, top to bottom. Did many of the things others have already mentioned. Early on I had SITSTILL for BIGSMILE - they share 4 letters!

For some reason these stood out for me: OBIE/OBOE/ODOM/OLIO/OHNO/OTOS/ROTO

imsdave1 2:58 PM  

I actually got the theme right off. LIEOVER seemed a little odd to me, so I figured that it had to be theme related.

@shamik - totally with you on the simmer thing. I'm sure chefbea or foodie will have a better overall view of this, but I always bring things to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Anonymous 4:16 PM  

I knew bodega from Seinfeld - Jerry wrote a bad check and everyone thought he was broke. That being said it still took me about 5 minutes to come up with the word. Not a word we use everyday out here in Ann Arbor.
Also perlieu, never heard of it, even after it fit, I still thought it was wrong.

mac 4:21 PM  

I thought this puzzle was easy until I got to the deep SE, I guess I wanted the "flied out" to be more grammatically correct....
I'm overawed by this construction, and I thought it was fun, as well. I'm very impressed, Mr. DiPietro!

Thanks @fitzy, that was fun, your info on Cardinal Sin! I LOLed.

There are a couple of bodegas in my part of CT, they are like small delis with fresh meat. I go there sometimes to get canned tomatillos when there are no fresh ones around, and cactus pieces.

@shamik and @imsdave, and also Chefbea: you are all right. The term in the answer is wrong, unless Joe has a Viking. The buttons for the burners actually have a setting that says "simmer",
so I can put my pot "on simmer".

Imagine my surprise when I turned on my car radio on the way to the gym this morning and heard Will Shortz in a puzzle quiz!

ArtLvr 4:37 PM  

Must put in a plug for today's crossword by Merl Reagle in the Phiadelphia Inq. -- It has one of my favorite kinds of wordplay around a timely subject.


Anonymous 5:52 PM  

LECTIN was for me a near gimmee since in my former life I knew a science type person who had figured out the structure of blood group substances (carbohydrates) using them as reagents. My only difficulty was believing this word would be used in a puzzle. A number of beans contain LECTINs. Perhaps one of the most famous is ricin from castor beans which is quite toxic and was supposedly used by the KGB to assassinate folks

Eau CLAIRE too was easy for us midwest types. BIGA had to fall to crosses. How would I ever know that? OK I had heard of Aqueduct. I was trying for a bit to make a contraction out of Saratoga (a New York track?) to use the G from BODEGA.

Somehow I got the LIE under OATH theme early. I would never have figured out the rest of the puzzle without those hints.

fergus 6:19 PM  

Mac, I think that both 'Flew out' and 'flied out' are equally acceptable in baseball parlance.

My original take that this was rather a dull slog wasn't much changed by the compliments listed above. Not a very well reasoned critique, just my Xword aesthetics. Even though I had lots of spurts, it just seemed to drag on. Having TITIAN and STEEN in a puzzle wasn't bad though. RETEST made me think of RECARVE, but maybe not as far-fetched. It all felt like an expanded, clunky Thursday -- but that's enough carping.

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

@fergus--"Flew out" is only used by those who are not that familiar with baseball and feel a need to be hypergrammatical. It is, in a baseball context, incorrect. "Flied out" is right, because the batter hasn't flown in any sense; he has hit a fly ball that was caught for an out. And there's nothing wrong with RETEST at all; when high-school students in New York have attempted the Regents exam in English or Math twice without passing, they are given the option to take an exam chunked into smaller pieces known as a Component Retest. It's perfectly fine because the student is being retested on the same material.

mac 6:48 PM  

@Fergus and @steve l: my baseball husband just told me he agreed with Steve... I suggested "flyballed out" but he wouldn't have it.

@steve l: apparently, many years ago my father-in-law was off the charts in the English part, but didn't do well in math. He got a scholarship for the language part which he used up on tutors to help him pass the math test: he went to Dartmouth after the summer.

dk 8:10 PM  

Maybe I am still cranky from mid-week, but this one should be ENTOMBED. I mean LIE under OATH is cute and all, the use of PURLIEU is only technical to make the theme fit as a nugget holder is often not ORE. One , if one is a sourdough, tends to get dust or flake from ORE. A nugget from a sluce maybe. AMERCE is not a word. I will check my Blacks tomorrow just to be sure. At this time I am down with @crosscan.

Ok I never dislike puzzles, but this one.... tsk tsk.

@chefbea1 and I are still not finished with my 1937 puzzle.. so I hate dislike that one as well.

Honey, pass the sour grapes.

fergus 8:24 PM  

How about having flown out? Having flied? Popping out is so much easier grammatically.

Anonymous 9:37 PM  

Easy?? Well, maybe. I am so glad t I can read all you guys after I finish and get set straight-- I got the oaths right away and thought I was so clever--never saw the lies at all--I did wonder what the clue meant, but then I often do. Amerce is indeed a word, new to me, but oathay is too big a stretch. I love purlieu, though.

Anonymous 10:03 PM  

I know, it's really late and no one might see this, but here goes to crosscan and all those who want to hear about a bodega and its owner: "el bodeguero".

fikink 11:09 PM  

@mexican girl
Thanks for the video. Damn! I love this blog!
@hereinfranklin, yes you are right about Paul Simon's Graceland reference to bodegas. In the song, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes. Here's the verse:

And she said honey take me dancing
But they ended up by sleeping
In a doorway
By the bodegas and the lights on
Upper broadway
Wearing diamonds on the soles of their shoes

(Graceland's up there on my list of top 10 CDs)

Jeffrey 12:07 AM  

Never too late mexican girl! Thanks to you and every one else.

Montreal has "depanneurs" which are bodegas! My father worked in a wholesale grocery which supplied the depanneurs; I worked there every summer, but Bodega was never a term I heard.

I should be fined for not making the connection- amerce me!

Unknown 8:23 PM  

Bodega is becoming standard English in downstate NY. Even here in Albany one hears it.

(Trivia - a New Zealander told me they call them "dairies.")

Anonymous 10:06 PM  

Mac, Will Shortz is on PBS on Sunday mornings at 8:35ish (and again 2 hrs later every week with a puzzler. It's fun.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

AMERCE is not in current language, for sure, but Shakespeare used it in Romeo and Juliet: "I'll amerce you with so strong a fine ..."

Not only a fine collection of Xword letters, but also a widely studied play--usually in Grade 10.

embien 4:07 PM  

1weeklate (syndication).

This is one of those times when the theme definitely helped me. I filled in OATHs and LIEs all over the grid after I saw the first one (even before the "reveal" at 112a).

Out here in the West (Oregon), I see signs advertizing OAT HAY all the time. It's a lower grade of hay and hence cheaper, but not as cheap as straw.

Since I'm posting anyway, I'll just point out that those who wanted some form of Saratoga for 75d: New York City racetrack, informally must not have noted the "City" part of the clue. Saratoga is definitely not near NYC.

kas 6:26 PM  

one week late

Never heard of purlieu and picked up on "oat" s for awhile til I finally saw oath

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