Hairstyle popularized by David Beckham - FRIDAY, Apr. 3, 2009 - J Farmer (Peace Nobelist Ralph Bunche's alma mater / Caterer's setup hot buffet)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium/Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SAHEL - A semiarid region of north-central Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Since the 1960s it has been afflicted by prolonged periods of extensive drought.

Also -

  • (ecology) A region having characteristics of a savanna or a steppe and bordering on a desert.
  • (meteorology) A strong dust-bearing desert wind in Morocco. (

I felt like I had sludge in my brain when I solved this. I would stare at clues that I knew I knew (e.g. B'NAI, FAUX HAWK), and nothing would come. This happened a lot in the beginning, and a lot at the end. I had real trouble getting started, as the NW was a dead zone, and then the NE refused to give up more than a smattering of words. I was roaming the grid like a nomad trying to get a foothold, which did not come until I hit the very far SW, where I knew two intersecting answers: JOSEF (45D: _____ K., Kafka's protagonist in "The Trial") and Pomme FRITE (59A). That SW section was a huge anomaly in this puzzle, as I had it done in what felt like a minute or so. BERTOLT and MONTESSORI are straight-up T/W-level gimmes. Their counterparts in the NE - not so much.

I wanted EASTWOOD or LEONE in the ELI WALLACH position (11D: Hollywood star whose memoir was titled "The Good, the Bad, and Me"), and I have never heard of a STEAM TABLE (12D: Caterer's setup for a hot buffet), though I guess I have stood in front of one many, many times in my life. I was looking for something with STERNO in it for a while. The real killers, for me, were, first, the SAHEL region (15D: Savanna region stretching from Senegal to Chad). Never heard of it, and in fact had never heard of Any of contiguous Downs (as clued) from BARABBAS (9D: 1961 Anthony Quinn title role) west to TOLEDOS (23D: Old Spanish swords). Second, and finally, the NW, where I finished. Reasonable, gettable stuff just wouldn't come to me, and that damned haircut - 16A: Hairstyle popularized by David Beckham (faux hawk) - I've seen it in the grid before and loved it, and I still love it, but today I just struggled to retrieve it: "Some new coinage ... a hybrid ... maybe CREW is in there ... @#$#!" None of the Downs up there were coming easily. Even after SIN TAX (18A: With 4-Down, smoker's fee) and BNAI (duh!) (2D: Sons of, in Hebrew) finally came to me, I was still stuck. I finally went for SPUN at 3D: Like yarn, and that did the trick. Puzzle solved. All in all, a worthy Friday challenge that suggested to me that my brain might be experiencing some kind of puzzle burn-out. I hope it's just temporary.

Answer of the day: SPIT TAKE (34D: Surprise shower?)


  • 27A: It has energy in reserve (oil belt) - yet another term I didn't know. I had OIL WELL.
  • 28D: "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," co-star, 1949 (Dru) - Actress Joanne. Learned her from crosswords. When I first didn't know her, I was told she was common crossword fare. After today, she's certainly commoner than she was, say, yesterday.
  • 19A: Walpurgis Night vis-a-vis May Day (eve) - total guess. But what else could it be in three letters?
  • 20A: Syllable repeated after "hot" ("cha") - got this quickly, but I can't say I've ever seen this expression spelled out, or even know where it comes from. Google is oddly useless here.
  • 40A: Peace Nobelist Ralph Bunche's alma mater (U.C.L.A.) - All I saw was "alma mater" - waited for crosses. Do people really know where Peace Nobelists went to school?
  • 41A: "Falling Man" novelist Don (DeLillo) - don't know this work, but DELILLO is quite famous. Probably best known for "White Noise" or "Underworld"
  • 47A: Harvey Wallbanger mixers, briefly (OJs) - had the "O," so, easy. That "J" made all the difference in the SW, as it gave up SOUP DU JOUR, which started the dominoes falling.
  • 55A: Subjects of some Toulouse-Lautrec paintings (cabarets) - easy enough. His stuff seems almost proto-noir to me. Love it.
  • 1D: Comic book exclamations (oofs) - I read comics every day. This didn't come easily at all.
  • 6D: Attire worn with frock coats (cravats) - if you are a fop, yes. Or perhaps a dandy. Or a pirate.

["... you watched yourself go by? watched your silk cravat? ...]
  • 8D: Black _____ (Lakota visionary) (Elk) - news to me. He was nearly an ELM.
  • 13D: 1971 N.L. M.V.P. who was later twice A.L. manager of the year (Torre) - my first guess, but I had no idea he'd been an M.V.P. This clue has an absurd abbrev. density.
  • 20D: Leader with Roosevelt and Churchill at the Cairo Conference, 1943 (Chiang) - Kai-shek. I did Not know this and didn't fill it in until I had the "C" and "NG" in place.
  • 42D: Setting for Martin Scorsese's "Kundun" (Lhasa) - wicked good guess. I even remembered that it's not spelled LLASA this time. It's LLAMA. LLANO. LHASA.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

My Friday LAT write-up is up now at "L.A. Crossword Confidential"


dk 8:11 AM  

Sludge came over my brain at DRU/RUNTS. I guess that would be the Big Sur region. And, despite all the time I have spent with Mr. Holmes and Moriarty (precursor to Luke I am your father) FOE escaped me.

A challenging one for me as I seemed to bounce from easy (OBSTACLE) to huh (BARABBAS) with no real rhythm.

And, how I remembered PETE from ADAM12, a show that shares the same place in my heart as the comic strip Cathy, I will never know.

In short, what Rex said.

burgundy 8:23 AM  

I believe Carly sings "Watched yourself gavotte" which is some kind of dance.... that's why all the girls wanted to be his partner

John 8:34 AM  

I believe that the phrase "Hot Cha cha cha cha.." was Jimmy Durante's Catchphrase, along with "Goodnight Mrs Calabash ,Wherever you are".

VaBeach puzzler 8:38 AM  

My big OBSTACLE, besides the ARTIER SAHEL, was 3D "Like yam." Yup, on my screen, yarn and yam look identical. Also, I had TOPHATS for CRAVATS for a while.

Megan P 8:42 AM  

A real wrestling match. Impulsively settled for SPITCAKE at the end. Yes, a T would have made more sense.

Barbara Roberts, MD 9:08 AM  

I got it all right but I still don't get spittake. Anyone want to tell me?

Deborah 9:14 AM  

@Aunt Barb: person A is drinking something; person B says something funny/stupid/etc; A, while in the process of swallowing, spits out in a rather spraying manner the contents within his mouth in reaction to B's remark. You had to be there.
No female would do this, hence the masc pronoun.

Ben Hassenger 9:21 AM  

Granted, I was hanging out with my brother and sister and could have gotten farther if I was solely focusing on the puzzle, but this puzzle was definitely the farthest I've gotten on a Friday by myself. I got Eli Wallach on the Ls, and being a culinary major, Steam Table went right in. I don't know, I completely felt like I was on the same wavelength here.

Karen 9:33 AM  

This one killed me. I ended up drawing several blanks and wrong answers in the SE. For 'stock company' I kept trying to think of an abbreviation for a soup company. I had SOUR and SNIT in for STIR at ferment. I never learned any of the cool yo-yo tricks. And CIS? (I just looked it up. Commonwealth of Independent States, the remnants of the USSR) I don't remember hearing that term at all in the past five years. J Farmer, you bested me on this one.

I also had AIR BELT instead of OIL (because FAN BELT didn't work...I was stuck on engines). I had decided the Spanish swords were some technical term from bullfighting and missed that one. Never heard of DELILLO or SAHEL.

I'll definitely give this puzzle props for bringing up things I probably should know and don't.

Orange 9:55 AM  

I had Ralph Bunche's school's L, plugged in YALE, and then promptly changed it to UCLA. Why? I have no idea. Must be a clue I've seen before.

PlantieBea 10:02 AM  

I was defeated :-( Slow and steady progress until the SAHEL/CHA, and CABARET/CIS/REP crossings. I could only see Lautrec's women figures and not the setting. Have not read DeLillo and wasn't sure of what metier was getting at. Had to come here.

I get it, but I have never heard SPIT TAKE. This puzzle was a difficult for moi.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Too tough for me. In the bottom right I had ENNOBLE and ISTS going down, and I looked up PETE. That left me __B__E_S for Toulouse-Lautrec painting subjects. I guessed LOBSTERS.

Also couldn't get the top left.

Glitch 10:13 AM  

Good workout today, nearly a three cupper.

Most of my probs were spellings I know but wouldn't come --- B's in Barabbas, Wallach w/ an H, E in the middle of Montessori, Chaing vrs Chiang, etc.

Other "pauser" solved when I remembered Asian convention of family name first so Chiang "matched" Roosevelt & Churchill.

In the B&W days of TV, the was a comedy routine on "The Art of the Spit Take" with the student winding up extremely damp. Can picture it, but like today's spelling, the names aren't surfacing.


Parshutr 10:14 AM  

So many errors...SIG TAX, COQUETTE, STALIN instead of CHIANG, ONAPROWL, and I misread Old Spanish swords as Old Spanish WORDS...also, soupDEjour#$?!which I corrected when the E gave me JEST...
Today I was the statue, not the pigeon.
What. Ever.

Eric 10:14 AM  

Duh! Had real problems with Dru and Sahel especially as Stalin fit well initially in 20D. Totally failed to see stick company as a repertory company.
Agree with the challenging rating for me, for sure.

Opus2 10:17 AM  

Burgundy had it right. " you watched yourself gavotte". Learn that word. Kevin G. Der used GAVOTTES in two different puzzles in 2008.

JannieB 10:18 AM  

This was a challenge but I'm proud to have been up to it! Had quite a few re-rights: cha (thanks @John, for reminding me why I knew it), edge, among others. I got Eli Wallach but didn't connect the book title to the movie - never saw it.

Threw in sleepers just because those letters look like they could all easily end words (a favorite guessing theory of mine). I had SSA first, so tried UCLA for Bunche's school - only 4-letter end in A university that is in the frontal lobe.

Thanks to @Karen for researching CIS - another new term. SE corner was last for me, just after the nasty hard NW

Nice workout, Mr. Farmer.

steve l 10:20 AM  

Got it done error-free, but it took forever. I was just not on this puzzle's wavelength. Lots of words that were weird to me. I was unfamiliar with SPIT TAKE--I know what the gag looks like; just didn't know it had a name. OIL BELT? Is that like SUN BELT, BIBLE BELT and RUST BELT? Head on a plate? LETTUCE comes in heads, and it goes on a plate, but the whole head does not usually go on a plate. It should be SOUPE DU JOUR or SOUP OF THE DAY. The hybrid is almost as irritating as the greengrocer's apostrophe (you know, AVOCADO'S $1.29). AT HEEL? Is that really English? In what situation do you find one POMME FRITE? It's almost like the sound of one hand clapping.

Frieda 10:25 AM  

Thanks Deborah for "spit take"--that's all it could be, letterwise, but that was one of many "??!?" moments this morning for me. Had the same reaction when OILBELT fit, but didn't fit in my brain. There were enough of these that I started to doubt everything. Had exactly dk's experience as described above. Why FAUXDUCK seemed as plausible as any other hairdo I coudn't say.

foodie 10:48 AM  

My experience was Rex in slow motion. Exact same errors, footholds, guesses. Weird...

SAHEL means flat land in Arabic. It's interesting to me how many land formations are connected to Arabic-- Wadi, Sahara, Sahel. That doesn't mean I got it, though.

I have to think about what it means when a puzzle causes a real pro and a mere amateur the same hangups.

Jeffrey 10:51 AM  

"BERTOLT and MONTESSORI are straight-up T/W-level gimmes."

Really? This is the third appearance of BERTOLT, all on Friday. BERTOLT may be in your realm of knowledge, but I think it is a stretch to call it early week fare. I had BEAR THE BLAME and DERILLO, and both looked plausible crossing WERTORT.

Enjoyable puzzle overall.

Pythia 11:00 AM  

Fun puzzle. Must have had the Vulcan mind meld with John F. today as I zipped through this, then solved the KenKen in ink with no written hint numbers.


Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

Like Parshutr, today I was the statue.

Blue Stater 11:10 AM  

Maybe we should have a GARY GYGAX award to go with the NATICK award (actually, "Natick" isn't that obscure to me because I used to live in Newton, but nevermind). Today's GARY GYGAX award would go to SPITTAKE, for sure. I am into my eighth decade on this planet and I have never, never ever, never once (I know, I always say that), heard that word or phrase.

John 11:13 AM  

WEhat is the sound of One Hand Clapping?

A Slap in the Face!!

Jeffrey 11:15 AM  

Nathan Lane did a SPIT TAKE on an episode of Inside the Actor's Studio that is hilarious. Can't find a clip of it, unfortunately.

Barbara Roberts, MD 11:34 AM  

thanks for the spittake explanation Deborah. Reminds me of the scene with John Belushi in Animal House - definitely a Y chromosome thing

Jeffrey 11:42 AM  

Found the clip

spit take.

mccoll 11:46 AM  

A good workout. Right on for Friday. Thank heavens for Montessori, the "mother" of early childhood education, who gave me the "courage" to write in BERTOLT. We have had a "sin tax" in Canada for many years and this made FAUXHAWK a gimme. I had to google for Eli Wallach, however, but I remembered seeing Chiang and Barabbas with Winnie and FDR when I was on patrol in a cabaret in Toledo. Eureka! SPITTAKE Ew! Thanks Mr Farmer.

Alex S. 11:53 AM  

Three letter actress starting with a D so I put in DAY. That resulted in AUNTS without having ever seen the clue. Since that is a real word it was quite a while before I noticed and fixed it. Of course, I should have noticed YPTOP but I didn't.

It is a good thing that ICE AGE came to me quickly because I went with JUST DO AS I SAY instead of JUST THIS ONCE. Since the bottom half was my worst half, I hadn't fixed that mistake right away it likely would have sunk me.

HudsonHawk 11:55 AM  

I had my own private Natick on the L crossing BERTOLT and DELILLO. I'm with Crosscan--those aren't T/W gimmes for me.

I also had COA briefly for 20A, even though I know it's spelled cocoa. SAHEL was new. Otherwise, my grid is pretty clean, but I'm still feeling like the statue. Or the bug, per Mark Knopfler.

Jeffrey 11:59 AM  

My first comment makes more sense if I say I had WEAR THE BLAME.

Three-ish and out.

Rex Parker 12:04 PM  

SPIT TAKE is such a common phrase in my world that I'm genuinely surprised by the ignorance. Must be a generational thing.

And I know that the word in the Carly Simon song is "gavotte" - the caption under the video represents what I used to think I was hearing when I was young (yes, I knew CRAVAT when I was young - GAVOTTE, no way).


Denise Terry 12:25 PM  

Rex, Thanks so much for your daily blog! I love it. And, I enjoy the You Tube pieces. You make the puzzle experience go so much further. I am the 163rd best puzzler!

Greene 12:38 PM  

I am also surprised that more people aren't familiar with the SPIT TAKE. This is an old showbiz trope that is as time honored as slipping on a banana peel or getting a pie in the face. It is not the sole province of male comedians either. I remember an entire SPIT TAKE scene in the recent musical The Drowsy Chaperone in which Georgia Engel repeatedly sprayed Edward Hibbert until he was drenched. The scene was overly long and repetitious and...well, downright hilarious. You knew each SPIT TAKE before it happened, but that only made it funnier.

This was a perfect Friday puzzle: tricky and sassy and tough, but very doable. What a treat to see Don Delillo in the puzzle. He is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers. The opening page of "White Noise" may be one of the best openings of any book I have ever read.

jae 12:39 PM  

Excellent puzzle. Lots of good stuff. Just what a Fri. should be -- meaty but doable. This was medium-challenging for me also, with the challenge coming from SE (my first entry was FAUXHAWK so NW went pretty quickly). I had SOUR and ICESEA (as in sea of ice) which caused me to rewrite SLEEPER and REP a couple of times. I put the puzzle down for a couple of hours and ICEAGE was obvious when I returned. Odd how that works.

FAUXHAWK is etched in memory from a picture Orange posted of her kid with a FAUXHAWK one of the last times it was an answer.

Campesite 12:40 PM  

Maybe John Farmer is a pseudonym of a friend of mine: I recently provided an actual genuine beer spittake over a rude but hilarious reference my wife made about her new haircut that included the word "fauxhawk."

Pretend Farmer Eli 12:40 PM  

Hope to see a lot of you at the Crossword Tournament at Harvard this weekend (swing by Natick if coming from the south or west).

Thankfully, we are getting to a generation where Eli isn't always referenced by ugliness (thanks a lot, Wallach!) or by an awful, awful song. I have to do something here, to take the name from Manning.

ArtLvr 12:53 PM  

My last fill was SPIT TAKE for lack of anything else that would fit, and I was surpised to find I'd finished without any errors on coming here... It all took just long enough to feel like more of a drag than a conquest afterward! Oh well, there were some bright spots...

I did the eastern half more easily than the west, and espcially liked the head of LETTUCE, STEAM TABLE, TOLEDOS and CABARETS. The Pomme FRITE and EYELID came right way too, though I'd have preferred plurals!

The NW was slower to fall, with that FAUX HAWK, and the SW last as mentioned -- I wanted Sprinkle at first for the Surprise Shower, of which we have plenty today. Oddly, the squirrel was doing giddy somersaults in the rain, but then sobered up... not rabid, just high. Whew.

josh 12:56 PM  

I hate pop culture clues from way before my time. They actually make me angry, and my anger detracts from my entire puzzle experience. I don't really like pop culture clues in general, but the ones about Adam 12 are really bad. WTF is that, anyway? I could easily look it up, but I don't care enough to, and that's why clues referencing old timey radio/TV shows/movies that aren't good enough to stand the test of time suck hardcore.

fikink 12:56 PM  

whew! This took me forever with many missteps.

yipes, Binghamton is all over the news...

Pretend Lady of the Manor

Bob Kerfuffle 1:26 PM  

Definitely a slow solve, altho completed successfully. Count me among those who had never heard of SPITTAKE (seeing Nathan Lane do it makes it seem not so bad), and I still have my doubts about OILBELT also. (Yes, I googled it, it is a phrase that is used, but since it refers to regions in different countries, like "the Venezuela oil belt" and "the Iraq oil belt", the cluing seems somehow slightly off.)

David 1:31 PM  

Tons of mis-steps, stared at it forever, and eventually needed to come at it again after a night's rest before I could finish the NE. Whew. But I'm still early enough that I'm just happy to have eventually solved everything.

BLEST was the word that I just could not see. The answers in the East led me to trying out BARABBAS---I didn't know he'd ever been a title role, but I'm pretty familiar with the name. But looking at BS_ST, since I tried SAT for stewed, the word was just totally mysterious to me. SAT also made me doubt both BARABBAS and SAIL TO, actually, but I couldn't think of any other word to fit. I eventually tried I MUST for 9A, which made sense to me but totally ruined my corner for a long time.

OOFS is fair, but had a ton of viable alternatives. Love FAUXHAWK, but even after an early SIN TAX I couldn't see it for a while. I think LOWER broke the corner open. The SE was delayed when I guessed that 43A was a French word for an EMCEE, making ENNOBLE and ICE AGE impossible to see.

Again, whew. Was definitely a challenging puzzle for me, but really enjoyable. There was no area or square that felt just unfairly obscure. Definitely difficult, but with enough time and thought, all of the answers and crosses seemed fair. A lot of EUREKA moments, and a very satisfying puzzle.

miriam b 1:36 PM  

SOUPDUJOUR jarred me; this is the way it's often rendered on menus, but strictly speaking it should be either "soupe du jour" or "soup of the day." A SPITTAKE involving soup, or soupe, is not a pretty image. And can anyone eat just one POMMEFRITE?

Rex Parker 1:45 PM  

Shooting/hostage situation in Binghamton *appears* to be over now.

steve l 1:47 PM  

@MiriamB--See me @10:20. And I will restate to all of you who are surprised at people not knowing SPIT TAKE--of course we have seen the gag; we just didn't know it had a specific name.

fikink 1:50 PM  

thanks, Rex - hope the violence doesn't affect too many adversely, irreparably...Calming hugs all around!

David 1:52 PM  

I'm surprised that so many are unfamiliar with SPIT TAKE, too. It's always been just a regular term to me, but I can imagine that being because of my own weird family or my excessive TV watching. For anyone who watched the show Studio 60, they had a whole scene in one episode with cast members doing spit takes on each other, and they later decided to make it into a sketch, "Spit Take Theater."

Btw, I'm curious, for the people who hadn't heard of spit takes, is the "double take" more familiar? (See something, look away, and then turn back to it in shock as you finally process it.) My grandfather used to always do this when the waiter brought over a check. I imagine spit takes were a little less common at our tables, but I may have just learned these things from having family in comedy.

Oh, and on OILBELT, it took some time for me to come up with it for the grid, but once I had I was pretty sure I recognized the phrase. Then again, I could have just been rationalizing to make myself feel smart---it has been known to happen...

archaeoprof 1:52 PM  

Got this one, but only with a lot of work.

Wow, what a Thursday/Friday combination. Can't wait for tomorrow.

william e emba 1:55 PM  

I originally thought the "Surprise shower?" was going to be STREAKER, not SPITTAKE. It didn't fit with Pomme FRITE, but I always assume if I know a food, it's not the answer on Friday/Saturday.

From the gimme BERTOLT (which I misspelled BERTOLD) I came up with BLAMEONESELF. That didn't work out too well. But the L gave me Don DELILLO. His White Noise is one of the all-time greatest novels ever written. And wickedly funny to boot.

I'm embarrased that I got CHIANG off of the A in SELA, and not the other way around. I knew it wasn't Stalin, and blanked out on even thinking of China. Sigh.

I misread "Old Spanish words", which really confused the center.

On the other hand, I guessed SAHEL, just knowing it's vaguely out there somewhere in NW Africa. I guessed UCLA out of nowhere.

I guessed BARABBAS off of the 2nd B, just on the assumption that somebody filmed the Par Lagerkvist novel and he would be the perfect actor for that role. Really, I have no idea how that all fit together so fast. (And no, I haven't read Barabbas yet. I've read two other of his novels--The Dwarf is magnificent, but meanwhile the Barabbas pentology has sat unread on my bookshelves for twentysome years.)

I have fond comic book memories of Megaton Man. His big catchphrase was "ON PATROL"!

To the poster complaining about "Adam 12". Grow up. I did recognize the title as an early TV cop show, that was it. I'm sure there were people doing the puzzle who were in ecstasy as their one little toehold gimme there saved the day. Good for them. Me, I got it from P--E and moved on, like I do with the 99% of Friday/Saturday popular culture clues that I never recognize.

All in all, I had to put the puzzle down three times. A burst for each corner, then next to nothing, over and over again.

Xavier 1:57 PM  

As somebody who is pretty much always the statue on Fridays, I still love Friday puzzles. Even though I very rarely finish them, and even more rarely finish them without errors, I get a bigger sense of accomplishment from Friday (and Saturday) puzzles.

Today it was the NW that was my demise. Didn't know B'NAI, but I thought it was BENS or BINS. That made me guess ASH TAX, which seemed reasonable to me. Plus, you can negotiate a CONTRACT which fit with TAX (I had gotten rid of BENS). I knew something had to be wrong but I couldn't find my way out of that hole.

@Greene, I haven't read White Noise, but I had the same feeling about the beginning of Underworld. Such vivid images that carry very strong cultural associations.


robroy451 2:05 PM  

Went to UCLA for many years so Bunche reference was a lay up. Bunche Hall is centrally located on the campus and is affectionately known as the Waffle Building. Here's a link to a picture that includes Bunche and another famous Bruin.

Stan 2:11 PM  

My defeat came in the Southeast, but I enjoyed the rest, especially the slow revelation of FAUXHAWK.

For a while had a vivid mental image of ELI WALLACH without being able to think of his name.

miriam b 2:24 PM  

@steve i: Sorry I reiterated your comments. I'd departed from my usual practice of reading all previous posts before inserting my $0.02; never a good idea.

Glitch 2:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rex Parker 2:47 PM  

Commenters snarking at other commenters is always the stupidest form of commentary.

12-14 shot dead here today at a local American Civic Association, the governor just said. Way higher than the earlier estimates. Just awful.


mac 2:49 PM  

This one was challenging for me, many unknown expressions, but some fun clueing. I wanted sterno as well, and Uh Tant(sp.?) for Chiang, and here was Lakota again...

I think I got a little impatient, I've got to pack, leaving for Holland tomorrow for a 2 week stay!
I'll miss you all.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

John Stewart occasionally does spit takes on the Daily Show.

josh 3:06 PM  


Maybe you should read more closely. Nowhere did I say that I don't like clue/answers that I've never heard of. There's a ton of stuff in these puzzles that I don't know and that are worth knowing, and then after I'm done with the puzzle I look them up; that's part of what makes these things fun. On the other hand, there's a lot of stuff I don't know and don't care to know because they aren't worth knowing. I file trivia about largely forgotten pop culture in the second category.

Also, @miriam b, shouldn't it be potage du jour? It's been a while since I took French, but I remember thinking that potage was some sort of potato soup (or porridge or something) when it was really just normal soup, and soupe was soup when it was really nothing.

Stan 3:15 PM  

Sorry that happened in your town, Rex. Or any town.

@mac: Bon voyage!

PuzzleGirl 3:15 PM  

Totally loved seeing SPIT TAKE in the grid. I recall Danny Thomas demonstrating the technique for David Letterman on his show once and then later when Marlo Thomas was a guest, Dave asked if her dad had taught her how to do it and she did one for him as well. @David: I also remember the Studio 60 episode. Wasn't one of the main ideas that everyone was getting the flu that week and the only person who managed to stay healthy was going to be the one everyone spit on? Man, that was a good show.

Loved this puzzle. No real problems except for CHA/SAHEL/BARABBAS which was a total guess.

chefbea 3:34 PM  

@Rex - terrible whats going on. Heard it on the radio while doing errands.

Tough puzzle. Liked lettuce, steam table, pomme frites etc. I thought Eureka was its own brand - not made by electrolux.

Rex - hows the dog?

mexgirl 3:51 PM  

Pardon my ignorance, but isn't Chiang a first name? if so, then the clue should read "leader with Franklin and Winston at the Cairo Conference..."?

In any case, I really liked this puzzle. Must be a sign of improvement on my part if I can almost finish a medium/challenging Friday! even if I unsuccessfully tried to fit Zorba the Greek somewhere on the grid.


Chip Hilton 3:51 PM  

Great Friday puzzle. I struggled with the SPITTAKE answer for a while, convinced that the last four letters were TAPE (different pronunciation for 'shower' leading to thoughts of a clandestine video of some sort) crossing 'europa' instead of EUREKA. I recall lots of spittakes on the old Steve Allen shows.

Lots of great answers (FAUXHAWK a favorite), a distinct challenge.

My heart bleeds for upstate NY. These incidents seem to be occurring far more frequently of late.

mexgirl 4:01 PM  

Oooooooh, NOW I get it. Spit (literally)-Take.
As a non-native speaker, I thank all those who graciously come to our rescue when these type of terms appear. Special thanks to Crosscan for that Nathan Lane clip that brought the whole thing to persepctive (along with some good laughs!)

Doug 4:03 PM  

First answer was FAUXHAWK and have changed my pic to my son's, who got one after seeing Beckham (on TV) in the 2002 World Cup.

Canada zone was a breeze and eventually fizzled out the closer I got to Florida.

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

@mexgirl: Chinese names have the family name first. If he were a Chinese immigrant he probably would've switched the order to Kai-Shek Chiang.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

Memories of my childhood made me try to force DOITNOWORILLBEATTHECRAPOUTOFYOU for 45A: "I won't ask again". JUSTTHISONCE? Where did John F grow up?

On a Friday, "Jim's Partner in Adam 12" == "Random, vanilla 4 letter first name". Seems fair.

Good, solid Friday.

Sandy 4:17 PM  

Thanks for asking about the dog.
Vet said she is probably a "happy barfer" but we are controlling all intake (including soap, which she really likes) to rule out other possibilities.

Coincidentally, she ripped her foot leaping out of her crate this morning and now has a crazy bandage/plastic bag on paw.

Thought that would be the excitement for the day, but no, Binghamton went nuts this morning. We know about as much as the rest of you.

Glitch 4:31 PM  

@Josh (3:06pm)

Re-reading your 12:56 comment:

"...I hate pop culture clues from way before my time. They actually make me angry, and my anger detracts from my entire puzzle experience..."

I regret having misinterpreted it as possible dissatifaction with certain clue/answers and have deleted my post.

I apologize.


JannieB 5:25 PM  

Just wondering - at what point does pop culture become retro/nostalgia or just dated? Surely there is a statute of limitations.....

treedweller 5:30 PM  

I got SPITTAKE without much difficulty, but that's about all. I attribute it to lots of TV, especially comedies and talk shows. The rest of the puzzle was pretty blank for a good while, then I gave up because it was a busy day.

I would really like to see a major artist go through a "lobster period".

mac 5:37 PM  

"Soupe" does mean soup in France. Think "soupe a l'oignon".
This evening I may have some pommes frites with my poisson, I've never been able to stop at one...

A John Farmer from New Jersey has a column on the op-ed page today. Same person?

chefwen 6:25 PM  

Failed miserably in the NE and SW and after looking/staring at those two corners again this morning I threw in the towel and came here for enlightenment.
Have seen many a SPIT TAKE and have done a few myself, but never really heard anyone say the term, they really are funny, except when they come out of your nares.

Doc John 6:45 PM  

I picked my way through this one but the NW gave me the most trouble. Finally took a stab at SPUN and then it fell. "Son" in Hebrew is "ben" and to pluralize something is to add "eem" or "yim" or "im" (ים) at the end. Finally thought of B'NAI and finished up the puzzle.

I also kept trying to figure out how to fit in Zorba the Greek for the Anthony Quinn clue. Had to "google-check" both BARABBAS and SAHEL.

And we have "Kundun" in our DVD collection but I have yet to see it. Had no idea it was a Scorsese film.

"1 Adam-12, see the man..."

Leon 6:57 PM  

Thanks Mr. Farmer.

The subtitle of Eli Wallach's autobiography is In My Anecdotage.

A STEAMTABLE was a feature of the Blarney Stone bars in NYC. There once were many, but only a few are left.

SethG 7:04 PM  

I love passive aggression.

Soup du jour is in my dictionary, where it's listed as a part translation of the French soupe du jour. It's in a lot of dictionaries.

Adam 12 was a Dragnet spinoff. I assume 35 years from now some whippersnapper will be here complaining about clues for Joey. You ain't artier than me.

edith b 7:47 PM  


It looks like 30 or 40 comments disappeared (including my own)

The last time I visited, the comments were at 110 - now at 77.

Or is it just me?

edith b 8:33 PM  

Boy, do I feel like an idiot!

I posted my comment on Thursday's comments. Her is the Post:

Don DeLillo is one of my favorite writers and I follow 2 blogs where both people also like him and both are also commenters here. I'm not sure I've ever seen him turn up in a puzzle before but I'm glad to see it.

I worked up the East Coast and had both long downs into the NE and swarmed westward where FAUXHAWK dwelt and was a neon for me having seen it recently in a puzzle and it's form - 2 small words making up a compound one - makes it easy to remember and I had this one down to the DOOR SELA ATLAS line in about ten minutes.

Like Rex I had the JOSEF/FRITE cross and filled in the SW thru MONTESSORI and came to a screeching halt in the SE.

I could not for the life of me parse several clues with 44D: Wintry stretch being emblematic of my problems in that quadrent. I had ICE*** crossing a couple of short downs but no joy

Finally, NICHE broke the log jam as ENNOBLE and OFALL followed and STIR led to the end. I never saw so may clues I could not interpret in one place in my life.

In and of themselves, no problem but as a whole - big problem.

joho 8:44 PM  

I applaud those of you who found this puzzle solid and fun. I found it beyond challenging and a struggle.

Had ICE CAP, EASTWOOD wouldn't fit, wanted JOHN THE BAPTIST for Head on a plate (talk about not fitting) ... I've seen a SPIT TAKE but have never heard it ... and so on and so on.

@Sandy: something else I've never heard of is a "happy barfer."

This puzzle was a mystery to me and therefore not a joy. I look forward to tomorrow.

@Mac: happy trails to you!

Tuco 9:09 PM  

The movie poster is wrong.
I am Ugly, not Bad. See Wiki:

"Because the Italian title translates literally as The Good, the Ugly, the Bad, reversing the last two terms, ads for the original Italian release show Tuco before Angel Eyes, and when they were translated into English Angel Eyes was erroneously labeled "The Ugly" and Tuco "The Bad"."

foodie 9:51 PM  

@robroy451, I too went to UCLA and for some reason never remembered that the Waffle Building was called Bunche Hall. Glad UCLA has grads who still have got their marbles.

@Doug, handsome son, makes me feel OK about FAUX HAWKS (quite a feat)!

@mac, enjoy your trip. We will miss you.

Speaking of missing people,

When is Ulrich coming back?

And where are you, Andrea?

@ Rex and Sandy, sorry about the tragedy in Binghamton today.

Kurisu 10:22 PM  

@joho: Unfortunately BAPTIST does fit for "head on a plate"; I was very proud of that answer but it didn't work out in the end. Am I the only one who tried that?

foodie 10:56 PM  

@shin kokin wakashu, I thought of BAPTIST too, but I had some letters in place, so knew it wasn't it-- and it did seem like it would be a bit controversial (i.e. BAPTIST without John). I guess we were supposed to be misdirected to that mental image, which made LETTUCE pretty funny...

allan 12:46 AM  

Tragic events in Binghamton. It's Saturday, so I can say that after this puzzle I probably won't even try today's. Can't wait for Monday.

+wordphan 3:03 AM  

@Allan: myself. This puzzle knocked out what little wind I had in my sails. It's Lent and I had no clue how to spell Barabbas. "At heel" threw a real "obstacle" in the NW. Guess I should have thought dog command. Jeez Louise!

william e emba 1:15 PM  

Technically, BNAI, is not Hebrew for "sons", but "sons of". It's in what is known as the "construct" form. Most European languages have a genitive/possessive, where the noun that is the possessor gets modified, and the possessed stays the same. Hebrew and Arabic, in contrast, modify the possessed and leave the possessor alone. So in English one joins "sons" and "covenant" as "covenant's sons", but in Hebrew, BANIM (sons) and BRITH (covenant) join as BNAI (sons of) BRITH (covenant). (And yes, there ought to be a definite article in there, but it sometimes disappears or gets put in a different spot.)

WWPierre 6:33 PM  

Got it finished in 3 sessions, 4 cups, only one Google to check "Delillo"

(Pierre breathes on his fingernails, polishes them on his sleeve, and admires his reflection in them)


Jim Tenuto 10:25 PM  

Great Mondegreen! Not a "silk cravat" but "watched yourself gavotte."

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