TUESDAY, Nov. 18, 2008 - Richard Chisholm (The Cowardly Lion's Kansas counterpart / Ohio political dynasty / Sporty 1980s Pontiac)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: TWO HOUSES (59A: What 17-, 23-, 34-, 40- and 47-Across are each composed of) - theme answers are each made up of two words, both of which can precede "HOUSE" in a (reasonably) common phrase

Never heard of a BLOCK House. "BLOCK house" appears to have several meanings. It's the name of a specific fort built in Delaware in the 17th century as a defense against the local Indians. It's also "A brokerage whose major concern is finding potential buyers and sellers of block trades" (answers.com). The main meaning appears to be an isolated fort built as a defensive stronghold (like the Delaware "Block House"). Thankfully, I didn't need to know what a BLOCK House was in order to solve the puzzle. It would have been cool if TWO HOUSES were a real phrase ... sooooo close to the opening two words of "Romeo and Juliet":

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

If only there was such a thing as a BRICK WHORE - now there's a theme answer:

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Police stop (road block)
  • 23A: Remedy for failed courses, maybe (summer school)
  • 34A: Cardinal vis-a-vis Illinois, Indiana or Ohio (state bird)
  • 40A: Military capability (fire power)
  • 47A: Wheeled toy (doll carriage)

I actually found the NW corner a bit tough - which, on a Tuesday, is to say that it wasn't a breeze. The clue on 1A: Touch base again (tag up) sounds like figurative speech meaning "get in touch with again," so I didn't put anything down at first, and I instinctively wanted a RE- word. ADLAI (13A: 1940s-'50s politico Stevenson) was, like ETNA in the SW (54D: 11,000-foot Italian peak), FAY in the W (37A: Wray of "King Kong"), etc.) a gimme, but GLEAM (3D: Glimmer) wanted to be GLINT, and I needed many crosses to get PIONEER (5D: NASA program that explored the outer planets). I haven't seen (or thought about) a Pontiac FIERO since the 80s (16A: Sporty 1980s Pontiac), but it came back from the past without too much effort. The weirdest moment in this corner was seeing 1D: Ohio political dynasty and instantly, half-jokingly, writing in TAFTS (the correct answer, it turns out). I guess my brain has finally hard-wired the TAFT/Ohio connection. Didn't know the TAFTS were a "dynasty," though I would finally subscribe to HBO if they would do a series called "The Tafts" in the style of TV's "Dynasty."

[What is Crystal wearing!?]

Assorted other answers:

  • 27A: Lacking pizazz (anemic) - Why oh why is PIZAZZ spellable with either three or four Z's? M-W online has this three-Z version listed as a variant. ANEMIC is a nice, interesting answer as is NO SLOUCH (38D: A pretty capable person), which somehow seems related (opposed) to ANEMIC.
  • 67A: Fair Deal president, for short (HST) - "Deal" part had me writing in "FDR" without thinking. "New Deal," "Fair Deal," "Great Society" - conservatives hate (or at least dislike) all of these because they expanded the role of the Federal Government in American life. I just now wondered where the promise of a "chicken in every pot" came from, and found out it was Hoover. I guess these were magical, non-governmental, and possibly invisible chickens he was talking about.
  • 12D: The Cowardly Lion's Kansas counterpart (Zeke) - HA ha. I complained about the original clue, and got this - which (to me) is just as obscure. Probably less obscure to others, though. Originally clued as cager Isiah Thomas's nickname.
  • 32D: Follower, as in espionage (tail) - great cluing here
  • 48D: Old Apple computers (Lisas) - really, one of the worst imaginable computer names. I'm of the belief that you do not give hardware people names. The name "Lisa" is lovely (and Lisa Simpson is my hero), but on a computer? No.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Thought the puzzle was OK, but your BRICK WHORE comment just made my day that much better.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Bringing Rex's comment on BLOCK house:

[The main meaning appears to be an isolated fort built as a defensive stronghold ...]

a bit more contemporary ... at least to us pre-baby boomers ...

it was also a bunker, composed of concrete blocks, used to protect observers and test equipment from *explosive* events like bomb tests and unsuccessful rocket launches, in the '50's.


PS: Zeke??

Unknown 9:09 AM  

Jet-lagged here and my entry of vex for hex sure made me wonder what 'two vouses' might mean. In baseball (including the Big House), after a fly ball you can tag up try to advance to the next base. Glad to be in my own house today.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Lisa is the name of Steve Jobs' first child. I have always thought that he named the computer after her as a sort of olive branch because he initially denied that he was her father, but that's just my interpretation.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

I think it's roadhouse.

PuzzleGirl 9:44 AM  

Thanks for the Commodores clip. One of my favorite songs of all time.

I would have gotten ZEKE from the basketball clue. (I thought Bill Lambier was my most hated Piston, but no. At least he had the decency to fade away. Not Isaiah!)

I'm sorry, but a DOLL CARRIAGE is not a thing. I'm also going to call foul on BARTEND. It grates on me the same way commentate does.

I must be cranky today. I did like seeing NO SLOUCH in the puzzle. (Welcome home, PhillySolver.)

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

The Kansas/Zeke clue was a complete puzzlement to me. Guess it's been too long since I've seen "Oz." I have to admit I'm getting tired of these "are each composed of" puzzles (59A), especially when you don't need that clue to solve 'em. But I'm probably just cranky because, after Sunday's super Simpson challenge, everything seems pretty dull.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Agree that Pretty capable person/NOSLOUCH was a nice clue/answer combination.

Originally had WAIFS instead of NAIFS for 38A:Innocents, but i realized WOS... was probably not going to work out.


chefbea 9:56 AM  

@puzzlegirl A doll carriage is of course a thing. It's what little girls put their baby dolls in and wheel it around. Its different than a stroller - the British call it a pram.

an easy tuesday puzzle tho I did have FDR at first.

Ulrich 10:01 AM  

I though that this was a really lovely Tuesday puzzle, given that Tuesdays have that bad reputation. I do like these kind of themes and had no real problem anywhere...

Only after reading the comments do I realize that I should have had a problem with "block house": I didn't initially b/c Blockhaus is German for "log cabin", and so it looked perfectly fine to me. Now I have to force myself to get upset after the fact--it ain't working b/c my heart ain't in it.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

@puzzlegirl: DOLL CARRIAGE does seem a stretch. I've always called it a baby carriage.

It was nice to see NABISCO as the answer instead of the ubiquitous Oreo after lunch snack.

@vabeach puzzler: you're probably right. This is just an OK Tuesday puzzle, ANEMIC even (although that word in the puzzle certainly isn't) because now we're all looking for something to dazzle us.

@acme: thought you were going to make it into the puzzle at 66A!

Unknown 10:26 AM  

@puzzlegirl: I played with doll carriages as a child. I pushed my dolls and stuffed animals around in them.

@joho: I pushed my babies in baby carriages (though by then we called them strollers and baby joggers). I guess we don't make the distinction between baby dolls and baby humans so much anymore. My daughter had doll strollers.

Found the puzzle just about right for a Tuesday. Just a little trouble in the NW, but it didn't slow me down long.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

I'm not so good with baseball terminology, so I had BAG UP for 1A, which gave me BAFTS for the Ohio political dynasty. I'd never heard of a Senator Baft, but I wanted to.

PuzzleGirl 10:44 AM  

To clarify: I understand that a DOLL CARRIAGE refers to a carriage little girls use with their dolls. I have just never heard it called that. My little girl has a Lot of dolls and a Lot of things she rolls them around in, and I've never heard any of them called a DOLL CARRIAGE.


Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Oh, what a relief to have today and yesterday to breeze through--I got so tangled up on Sunday that I actually gave up. I had forgotten all about Lisas, and I liked naifs for a little unusual tidbit. And of course there are always brick blank houses but we won't go there.

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

I liked the theme and had some fun watching for the theme answers to reveal themselves.
Re: the doll carriage discussion, we called them baby buggies.
Agree that seeing Oreo as a clue and not an answer was nice for a change.
I would never have gotten Zeke from the sports clue but I'm a big W of Oz fan so it was a gimme.
Took a minute to remember the Fiero - what an ugly car that was.
No slouch was fresh but my favorite was "You don't know beans."
Good solid Tuesday puzzle.

Doug 10:47 AM  

I actually thought this was easier than the Monday puzzle this wee; I solved it faster. Lisa is not the worst name ever for a computer. Apple (sort of) still holds the record -- remember when Steve Jobs introduced the "Next" -- a machine for students? Thudded like an Edsel. Lisa was named after Jobs's so-called illegitimate son. The other Jobs piece of trivia is that his half sister (once long-lost?) is the writer Mona Simpson (I think).

Unknown 10:51 AM  

I actually thought this theme was pretty darn clever. Ten [blank]-HOUSE words that all form compounds of their own. Impressive. Tuesday usually isn't this satisfying.

My only complaint was ECOLE crossing COE. It's tough enough remembering ECOLE - do we need to cross it with a pathetically obscure Midwest college with only 1,300 students? (yeah, I checked :))

Orange 10:57 AM  

Matthew sounds like an anti-Heartland bigot. Hey! If you live in the Midwest and want to go to a small private liberal arts college, Coe is on the list. I like it when Midwest knowledge pays off, since the puzzle far more often demands familiarity with towns in New Jersey. New Jersey! I say.

I had friends in college who called me Zeke. Then they'd introduce me to other people as Zeke—and those friends would then be surprised to learn that my name was really Amy.

My son had a doll stroller, but not a doll carriage.

Orange 10:58 AM  

(Just joshing. Not really calling Matthew names, which would be terribly rude since [a] I don't know him and [b] he wasn't being bigoted.)

Ulrich 11:03 AM  

Re. Lisa: I may be a bad name for the computer, and it didn't last for long. But it's legendary in the sense that it was a crucial step in weaning pc's away from text-based toward graphic user interfaces--those of you who never interacted with a computer via Unix or DOS command lines may not appreciate what this means. In other words, the Lisa was the forerunner for the Macintosh, and the rest, as they say, is history (I hope I remember this correctly)

fikink 11:06 AM  

I, of course, object to the idea that COE is "pathetically obscure," especially given its long history in the NYT puzzle AND the price of tuition these days.
Wanted SQUAT for BEANS.

Doug 11:11 AM  

Mrs. Doug confirms BABY CARRIAGE is part of her vocabulary.

If anyone missed the Simpsons (like me) my son informs me you can it online at:


Was looking at homes in Bentonville, Arkansas and saw "9 Lois LANE" for sale. Ouch.

Wished OTTER was clued as "Animal House fraternity prez."

Lsmith 11:30 AM  

Great puzzle. I just had trouble with the bottom center portion. I suppose that I'm a little too young to remember Lisas, and naifs wasn't in my vocabulary till now.

Pythia 11:51 AM  

Nice Tuesday level. If not so pizazz-full, at least very elegant in its construction. Can't be easy to be constrained by four 9-letter and two 12-letter theme answers and still have a decent collection of non-theme answers. NO SLOUCH could do that.

A pity, given SEE, that SAW was clued as the past tense of SEE. Love "Bouquet of roses" for AROMA and the cardinal factoid.


Doc John 11:51 AM  

I agree with Rex that it was the NW that gave me some trouble. It took TEA and FIERO (a buddy actually had one) to get me going. TAFTS cemented it although I wasn't thrilled that it was pluralized as an answer to the way it was clued. I didn't even see PIONEER until I came here. (Interestingly enough, my high school mascot was The Pioneers. Still not sure what pioneers were doing in South Florida but I guess that's another story.)

Pretty cool to see Oreo as a clue and not an answer!

Wouldn't something like "Olympic runner Sebastian" have been a better Tuesday clue for COE?

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Those of us (formerly) in the business prefer TEND BAR.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

i think it's road house too.

dk 12:25 PM  

@matthew, speaking as a representative from the midwest, who went to a small midwestern college and who is now a much better and smarter person than you (but not better/smarter than @orange) I suggest you watch your step little mister.

@ulrich, I agree with your view of LISA. I had one in my office (it was in Reston not Langley) and everyone wanted to use it over the PC. You are right when you say forerunner as IBM moved to the desktop and icons shortly after the release and demise of LISA.

This puzzle was easier than yesterday IMHO.

Is STOIC the word for the week and can we get a puzzle based on the remaining 6 deadly sins as I am getting a little tired of SLOTH (insert tee hee about here)?

@orange so given your nickname and name, the ATOZ fill must have special meaning for you :)

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Although I know of both COE the college (from crosswords) and COE the runner (from famous sports trivia from way back), I suspect that both are fairly obscure today. It only makes it into Tuesday because it's such a simple word.

ArtLvr 12:26 PM  

This was an excellent Tuesday romp for me -- even knew EMI since a friend married an exec in that company years ago. The only bit that slowed me down was the 30D [Capts.' subordinates] for which Commanders didn't seem logical... Does CDRS mean something else?

A doll carriage is much smaller than a real baby carriage, and an antique one in top original condition is much prized for display by doll collectors...

@ doug -- thanks for the link to the Simpsons show!


hazel 12:28 PM  

You can apparently buy a dollcarriage at Target so its not like its a non-word although maybe not as widely used as baby carriage, or what's probably even more common - baby buggy. They also have doll strollers, which are $20 less. I wasn't a dolly sort of little girl so the one doll i may have received early on (Raggedy Ann?) would have sat untransported so I can't speak from personal usage....

I liked this puzzle as well.

Greene 12:34 PM  

There are worse ways to clue ZEKE. At least we've all seen "The Wizard of Oz" once or twice. I think I saw it about a dozen times when I was growing up. Of course, now I'd like to see ZEKE clued as "aka Orange." That would be Saturday ++ level cluing.

For the record, in "The Wizard of Oz" film:

Zeke = Cowardly Lion = Bert Lahr
Hunk = Scarecrow = Ray Bolger
Hickory = Tin Man = Jack Haley.

Hickory?...yes, Hickory. No, he does not have brothers named Dickory and Dock.

All told, an excellent Tuesday entry. Thanks, Mr. Chisholm.

Rex Parker 12:46 PM  


It *is* "ROAD House" - it's also "BLOCK House."

Does anyone read my theme descriptions!? The theme-revealing clue even tells you - *TWO* HOUSES.

Summer house
School house
State house ... oh why bother?


mac 12:51 PM  

Pretty little Tuesday puzzle, with my only, temporary, problem UAE for 4 down, not helped by the fact that I had never heard of a Fiero. Figured it out without help, though. Liked "you don't know beans" and Nabisco, too.

@ulrich: I immediately thought of Block House, the steak place at the Othmarschen train station.

Doll carriage is definitely in my vocabulary, as is block house. Could that also mean row house?

@Rex: Tall Hooker?

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

The only other ZEKE that comes to mind off the top of my hand is ZEKE Brenner in Doonesbury, who is currently married to JJ, Mike Doonesbury's ex-wife.

Rex Parker 1:00 PM  

Yodelin' ZEKE is part of the cast of "Ya-Hoo" - a "Hee Haw" parody on "The Simpsons." His co-stars include "Butterball Jackson" and "Big Shirtless Ron" (my favorite fictional name of all time). I would have loved a Yodelin' ZEKE clue, but realize I would have been nearly alone on that one.


Anonymous 1:40 PM  

In the late 17th and early 18th Centuries, Blockhouse forts came into vogue. They were distinguished by their design, two storeys, squares, with the upper somewhat larger than the lower. Holes were in the overhang, so that defenders could shoot down at invaders at the door, either with bullets or arrows.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

Like OFFS for wastes – can’t get enough gangland references in such a highbrow medium. I thought TAG UP was a great RE misdirection. GOLAN sounds like a monster. SLOTH is my favorite deadly sin – although I must admit they all hold at least some little appeal for me. [hmmph lust hmmph].
Most football (the American version anyway) fans should remember Edmund Raymond ‘Zeke’ Bratkowski – Bart Starr’s back up and ultimate replacement. Spent a number of years coaching – his son coaches as well – and was introduced to the Football Hall of Fame and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in the 80’s. A real hard charger.
I guess if you wanted a truly obscure Zeke clue ‘A.K.A. Orange’ would appeal to one of the nichiest niches.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

@artlvr: yes, Commanders are outranked by Captains. Seems odd, I agree, but you know what they say: "military intelligence" is a bit of an oxymoron.

@puzzlegirl: for future reference, Mr. Thomas is Isiah not Isaiah. Not a common spelling, and it tripped me up a couple of weeks ago (Nov 9).


Anonymous 2:29 PM  

I thought Lisa was an old girlfriend (of Jobs or Wozniak -- not sure which).

R&J is the right play, but IMHO the perfect quote would be Mercutio's "A plague a' both your houses!"

Orange 2:33 PM  

Doug, I would shy away from any subdivision with a Lois Lane unless it also had a Hi Lane. Not to mention Dawg Drive, Trixie Court, Chip Street, Dot Lane, and Ditto Lane. (And yes, I had to consult Wikipedia to get the whole family's names.)

jae 3:26 PM  

@artlv & opus2 -- I originally had CPLS for 30d and was surprised that CDRS was the answer in a Tues. puzzle as its a bit obscure. The Captain over Commander ranking is unique to the Navy/Coast Guard which are the only US services that have the rank of Commander. A Navy commander would out rank an Army Captain.

JJ is also the daughter of Joanie Caucus.

Anonymous 3:36 PM  

Is naifs and naives the same thing? Is naives just plain wrong spelling? I am very confused right now.

Kohawk 3:59 PM  

I am a regular lurker and a Coe College graduate, so I have to step out today and say, "Go Kohawks!" I urge the closeted Francophiles amongst us to stand up and represent les ecoles of interest.
Zeke, Hunk, and Hickory--all new to me.
Thanks Rex and all for the daily comments.

ArtLvr 4:13 PM  

@ opus2 and jae; thanks for sorting out the ranks!

@ mexgirl -- It's naif (pl. naifs) as a noun. Adjective naive, in English.

@ orange -- I lived on Primrose Lane for a while!

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

I've met at least one Coe alum, and I've never met anyone from Elon which seems to show up frequently. Naives looks plain wrong. I had the same problem as many getting started in the NW, and stumbled over NO SLOUCH (I had WAIFS too). I thought it was a solid Tuesday puzzle.

SethG 5:04 PM  

Road House is a movie. So is Summer School.

And speaking of movies, Doug, Otter was not the president. And neither was BOONE.

I confidently filled in RETAG to start, and didn't understand what 12D was asking for and started with TOTO, but otherwise smooth sailing.

ArtLvr 5:50 PM  

Addendum -- Here's a link to Merl's blog, where he talks about the creation of the Sunday puzzle for the Simpsons "Cross Words":



Anonymous 6:10 PM  

Awhile back I looked into the whole LISA thing, probably because of another xword. If you go to Wiki, there is a full explanation that asserts no clear origin for the name. Someone came up with a phrase that makes it an acronym, but two of the key developers at Apple had Lisas in their lives, so the theory was that the acronym was formed after the fact (rather badly, as I recall). OK, I looked it up--Local Integrated Software Architecture is said to be the official explanation from Apple, while the idea that it was named after a person (or people) is said to be a theory based on the clunkiness of that acronym. And, of course, this is Wiki, so it has to be true.

I found the puzzle okay, if a little ho-hum, but I agree with matthew that the collection of "house" words, all forming half a compound, was pretty impressive. Now, where's my TV tie-in? Will tonight's episode of House use all these words? If not, I will feel cheated.

edith b 6:36 PM  

BLOCKHOUSE means something to me but for the life of me I can't put my finger on it. I'm originally from Delaware so maybe Rex's write-up struck a familiar note.

I've seen this kind of theme before where both parts of a compound word is used for theme purposes and I like the ingenuity of it.

There was a certain richness in the fill with BEANS NAIFS FIERO NABISCO.

By the way, I used baby buggy too.

evil doug 7:20 PM  

Coe's not a bad school if you can't make it at the Harvard of the Midwest: Drake.


fikink 7:29 PM  

@evil, Drake is an expensive Midwest partyschool which you can't say of eastern Harvard.
Coe is a legitimate, excellent small liberal arts college on the order of Grinnell and Ripon.

Btw, I wanted SQUAT for BEANS.

fergus 7:40 PM  


I actually went to college with (the writer) Mona Simpson. We lived in the same dormitory at Berkeley in the mid 70s, along with Lynn Hirschberg, who writes frequent feature articles in the Times magazine. (The rest of us didn't turn out so illustriously.) Never knew of Mona's association with Steve Jobs, but then maybe she didn't either at that stage.

jae 8:05 PM  

@artlv -- thanks for the Merl link.

I always thought Kenyon was the Harvard of the midwest.

Orange 8:10 PM  

@Evil Doug, Many of the Midwest's pharmacists come out of Drake. Harvard, on the other hand, is the Carleton of the East.

@artlvr, I have no idea why you're telling me what street you lived on. All I was doing was expanding Lois Lane (an obvious Superman tie-in) as if it had to do with "Hi & Lois." Is Primrose from a comic strip? Is it somewhere you really lived? I grew up on Elm Street, and man, was that a nightmare.

fikink 8:17 PM  

@orange, and many don't.

Michael Chibnik 8:23 PM  

As a longtime Iowa resident, I don't find Coe any more "pathetically obscure" than some of the East Coast clues that come up all the time in crossword puzzles (which I can get only because I grew up in Pennsylvania and New Jersey).

I wonder if Matthew would think that Grinnell (which shows up in puzzles much less than Coe) is pathetically obscure.

I was no slouch at this puzzle, except for having "waifs" for way too long.

Anonymous 1:38 AM  

here's a Simpson's tie-in for you:
So, Steve Jobs' long lost sister is Mona Simpson, who later married Richard Appel, who WROTE for the Simpsons!
(and graduated from the Coe of the East)

And yes, people make up a post-fact acronym when they want to name something for their daughter, dog, whatever...a good name SHOULD be both

as for being "illegitimate", everyone should be reminded, that it is the parents who are not legally married, therefore THEY should be called "illegitimate" not the poor baby!

66A, yes, so close! But apparently this was Orange's day to be in the puzzle!

Anonymous 1:41 AM  


you give me something to think about here. It's interesting, bec again that is a super hard piece of construction to get 8 ideas and then have the compounds make sense on their own...It's very hard to do and exciting on a construction level...
but once again, if it doesn't excite the solver...and you don't need the clue to get the idea, then where is the fun?

Rubber baby buggy bumpers
rubber baby buggy bumpers
rubber babby buggy bumpers

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

As an Ohioan, I can state that Taft IS a legitimate political dynasty. One President (27th) who served also as Chief Justice, a Senator, and a governor until 2007. Lots of public servants growing on that family tree,

President Taft weighed over 300 pounds. Popular lore has it that a special bathtub had to be installed in the White House to accommodate his girth.

Unknown 2:30 PM  

Haha. Wow, I guess Coe isn't as obscure as I thought. Sorry for the offense, alums :D

I work for a place that makes guides to colleges (even pathetically obscure ones), and I have never even heard the name before--not even at conventions or in emails begging us to cover this or that school. You Coe people really need to start getting the word out!

Shanti11 3:10 PM  

I was five when my sister was born. My mom had a baby carriage for her, and she bought me a doll carriage so I could be a mommy too. Being a boomer, I think those two phrases were far more common then than they are now. Carriages are usually referred to as prams now (all the rage with celebrities these days). But strollers are really the most commonly used now. Carriages sure took up a lot of space!

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