Rocker Ocasek — TUESDAY, Jun. 16 2009 — Swingline item / Liquid diet devotee / Routine-bound bureaucrat / Petal plucker's pronoun

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: PERP walk — letter string "PERP" is "walking" through (i.e. embedded in) five theme answers; theme is revealed at 47D: Those "walking" through the answers to the starred clues (PERPS)

Word of the Day: PARIAH (43D: Persona non grata)n.

  1. A social outcast: “Shortly Tom came upon the juvenile pariah of the village, Huckleberry Finn, son of the town drunkard” (Mark Twain).
  2. An Untouchable.

[Tamil paraiyar, pl. of paraiyan, pariah caste, from parai, festival drum.]

WORD HISTORY The word pariah, which can be used for anyone who is a social outcast, independent of social position, recalls a much more rigid social system, which made only certain people pariahs. The caste system of India placed pariahs, also known as Untouchables, very low in society. The word pariah, which we have extended in meaning, came into English from Tamil paraiyar, the plural of paraiyan, the caste name, which literally means “(hereditary) drummer” and comes from the word parai, the name of a drum used at certain festivals. The word is first recorded in English in 1613. Its use in English and its extension in meaning probably owe much to the long period of British rule in India. (

The Puzzle: I guess these PERPs are "walking" if you consider the grid one of those "Family Circus" cartoons where Barfy or Not Me makes a dotted line around the house or neighborhood and can be seen in many different places within the single panel. Only, no, because in that case, the dotted line actually signifies walking. Here, PERP simply materializes. Five times (six if you count the theme-revealer). But the idea of imagining the grid as a kind of journey has some precedence, so, fine, if you insist, the PERPS are "walking." I won't ARGUE (35D: Debate the pros and cons).

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Impervious to picking, as a lock (tam PERP roof)
  • 25A: *Engraver's surace (cop PERP late)
  • 36A: *Motto of the U.S. Coast Guard ("Sem PERP aratus") — "Always Ready"; I did Not know this, which slowed me down in an otherwise easy puzzle.
  • 47A: *Routine-bound bureaucrat (pa PERP usher)
  • 57A: *Countries with big militaries (Su PERP owers)

Started off not so great — RST = booooo! (1D: Q-U connection) — but it got better. I like (now that I see it), the fact that RST is echoed symmetrically in the SE by the next alphabetical letter string up: STU (60D: "The _____ Erwin Show" of 1950s TV). Coincidence of the day was ALCOTT (12D: "Little Women"), as the Charles Ives piano sonata movement I featured yesterday was subtitled "The ALCOTTs." Wife is a big ALCOTT reader. Or was at one point in her life. She knows all about Jo and Laurie and them, is what I'm saying.

[Christian Bale was in this?]


  • 23A: "Liquid diet" devotee (sot) — I thought for sure this would be some faddish shake diet or something. But, no, just the lovable town SOT, who refuses to DRY OUT (46D: Recover from a soaking) after all these years. The real theme of this puzzle is, perhaps, OTIS, the Mayberry town drunk who keeps getting thrown in jail so that he can DRY OUT (temporarily). Andy doesn't really arrest him though, so he's not a PERP ... and he stumbles more than he walks, truth be told.
  • 30A: Superlative suffix (-iest) — [winces]
  • 56A: Rocker Ocasek (Ric) — I've had "The Cars" (1978) on heavy rotation this spring. A great pop rock album. RIC is the singer on this one...

  • 64A: Petal plucker's pronoun (she) — cute.
  • 66A: Compliment heard in the dress department ("it's you!") — possibly my favorite answer in the grid.
  • 3D: Camp clothing identifier (name tape) — possibly my least favorite, though I see it has currency in camp and military situations. I didn't know that such tape had an official name. I thought TAPE was just one of many impromptu labeling strategies parents might use.
  • 13D: It's darker than cream (beige) — and nearly every other color in existence. Hosiery!
  • 26D: Hall's singing partner (Oates) — back to 9th grade with this ... well, I don't even know how to describe this video. Looks like it was filmed on the set of a prehistoric game show ...

  • 48D: YouTube button (pause) — you are forgiven if you hit PAUSE early on that last one.
  • 51A: Online communications, for short (IMs) — do people do this anymore. I thought it was all text and tweets. Speaking of tweets, here are some Crossword Tweets picked up randomly off of Twitter yesterday and today (you can search any term and see what people are saying about it in (virtually) real time, all over the world).
Crossword Tweets:

  • Twelebrity09 Crossword question 8 Down (6).... Country bordering Iraq.... Fucked?
  • axisofphilippe The only reason the Monday crossword exists is to make us normal folk feel smart. If this puzzle were in school it would take the short bus.
  • mandinkapants coffee. crossword. yep. i'm 40.
  • servo3000 Entire bar at Cider House is doing a crossword together. I love this place.
  • JusREEnoMAS @LnGLeGBeauTee doing a crossword puzzle waiting for my cuz to brang back the fish, ninjas hungry.. What crackulatin baby? [ed.: this one is my favorite]
  • atmarosi - the bus driver is seriously doing a crossword puzzle - on the job...only in paris
  • celro just saw a transvestite smoking weed on the curb with a cop sitting on the corner doing a crossword puzzle. i love this city :)

If you are at all Twitter-inclined, you are cordially invited to "Follow" me (rexparker).

Lastly, thanks to Grant Barrett of the public radio program "A Way With Words" for plugging this site (via the web and ... Twitter!). "A Way With Words" is a radio program all about the English language, and is very much worth checking out. You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes (as I did), listen on an actual radio (check local listings), or listen from the website, here.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


retired_chemist 8:30 AM  

OK Tuesday puzzle but not a treat. Not much to complain about either. I am not a fan of such themes. _____PER P_________ just doesn’t do it for me. This was a bit better than some, because 47D PERPS at the lower left of the puzzle was a neat, concise summary of the theme. However it was almost my next to last fill. I had no trouble with any of the theme names. Three I knew straightaway, and two I got after a few crosses.

Overwrites: 21A REST -> EASE; 61A OOM -> PAH; 41A ORCS -> ENTS. Might have had more but didn’t, viz.: 46A SEMPER FIDELIS (wrong branch); 13D TAUPE.


I’m having the eerIEST sensation of déjà vu.

JannieB 8:41 AM  

IMO, not one of Paula's best. The theme seemed at odds with fill - perps vs lovey-dovey stuff like cuddling, bussing, sunlight and the rest.

The perps "walked" through some great theme answers but the rest of the fill was rather blah.

Elaine 8:57 AM  


Yes, Rex, some of us still use IM (they're actually used in my office "officially" for quick communication..)

Didn't love the theme, but the puzzle was ok anyway. Learned the Coast Guard motto!

hazel 9:24 AM  

More Ps and Rs today! I'd also noticed it was more of a PERP weave than a walk - but esp. like Rex's idea of it being Otis, weaving his way to his Mayberry cell.

@Jannie B - sure there was cuddling, bussing, and wooing, but there was plenty of time to ARGUE (spearing those 2), REPO a car, and fall INAHEAP - maybe even become a PARIAH - before you DRYOUT....

Puzzle just OK for me. Sort of par for the generally erratic "Tuesday" course.

HudsonHawk 9:31 AM  

I liked the PERP walk, all in all. Loved the Cars from the get-go, although at first I didn't realize the late Benjamin Orr was the lead singer on some tracks rather than RIC Ocasek.

SEMPER PARATUS reminds me of PARAMUS, New Jersey. Didn't that make a Sunday puzzle fairly recently?

Charles Bogle 9:31 AM  

My guess is the PERPS can be said to be "walking through.." in the sense that law enforcement authorities are big on doing highly-publicized "Perp Walks" (e.g., Gotti) to show off their catches--

I suppose I may not be the only one not surprised to see NO "Correction" in today's NYT relative to the PIERRE v PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR dialogue of yesterday's blog. What's more, it might be inferred, from the Editor's use of a puzzle themed around the letter "P," that a "tip of the hat" is given to unlucky Pierre

That aside, reference to Swingline reminds me of their facility on Skillman Ave in Long Island City, gone I fear, and its brilliant sign; STU Erwin made a most memorable appearance w W.C. Fields et al in the terrific early '30's pre-Code film, "International House" (definitely worth a rental)-

But PEND for "remain undecided"? And poor SOT and SAP in the same puzzle; give those LUGS a break!

gjelizabeth 9:36 AM  

Especially liked the SOT DRYOUT combo. Didn't like SLEETED clue at all. Sleet is mushy, slushy frozen rain that hasn't made it all the way to pellet hardness. If it had it would be hail, not sleet. Or at least that's how I was raised. Any meteorologists out there with opinions?
Rex, thanks for pointing out the RST STU symmetry.

treedweller 9:39 AM  

My ESP was strong last night. I felt Rex would post a Hall & OATES video, and that I would not view it. I was right on both counts.

Ulrich 9:44 AM  

This Wiki article on IM has an animated demo, which illustrates what life was like before the advent of graphical user interfaces--when all communication was text-based and sheer agony for inept typists like me--just for those who were not alive in medieval times.

I must also say that aside from a few nice clues and answers, this puzzle was not as compelling as others by PG that I remember--but then again, she has set the bar very high for herself. So, one has to see this all in perspective (you're welcome to substitute this for another cliché).

ArtLvr 9:53 AM  

I thought this had a feminine touch (yay!) even before I checked the author's identity... Most HOMBREs would be UNLIKELY to come up with BUSSING and CUDDLES and the PARR who survived Henry VIII with PURR for crossing fill, and IT'S YOU in the dress department. Very funny!


Doug 10:01 AM  

For some strange reason I couldn't get HOMBRES until the very last -- the B for BUSSING. Little bit of brainlock -- the rest of the puzzle was easy. When I lived in Greenwich Village on Abingdon Square, one of the Hall and Oates pair -- forgot which one -- lived a cross the street. Groupies always showed up asking if I ever made a sighting. Never one of my favorite acts, so I had no clue (how about that pun?)

Sandy 10:13 AM  

RST alphabet string just seemed a little blatant for 1D - usually such desperate measures are hidden deeper in the puzzle. But otherwise this seems solidly Tuesday, which is a hard mark to hit.

Those tweets are cracking me up. But I can see how it would suck up time, so I can't ever start. My HS students don't tweet, IM, or even email. It is all text, all the time. 5 yrs ago all they did was IM.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 10:14 AM  

Approved on the Crossword Tweets section.

Jeffrey 10:21 AM  

ok FER me. A few too many non-words: ESE, SSS, IEST, RST.

Preferred clue for SUPER POWERS:
Strength, flight and x-ray vision

Hall and Oates song titles that are useful when writing a crossword blog:

jeff in chicago 10:28 AM  

I like this one all right. Of course the PERPs were walking. That's what PERPs do! I momentarily confused Swingline with Singer (d'oh!), and was trying to make a sewing word work in that space. None did. Had DRYOFF for DRYOUT for a moment, making the SW a slow spot. We have ESE and EASE right next to each other, which is fine by me. Really liked ",,,,," as a clue.

Jim in Chicago 10:30 AM  

Either the author is too clever by half, or I'm too stupid by half, as I fell into the same trap twice.

For 1A, I had RUNOUT for "leave in a hurry", which turned out to be runOFF.

Then at 46D, I had DRYOFF for "recover from a soaking" which turned out to by dryOUT.

A clever double-misdirection if on purpose.

toothdoc 10:32 AM  

Concerned that PERPS and PARIAH pass right through my first name RIC. If I was of APACHE descent I would concerned JD was following me around ;)

I have fought against the Twitter phenomenon but just may have to experience RP 140 words at a time.

dk 10:33 AM  

Rex, your write-up this AM is a fun read.

The puzzle was ok, agree with above comments.

At camp we wrote our name with whatever indelible ink pen preceded Sharpies on our tighty whities and t-shirts. I guess we did not care about our pants.

This blog and some online professional stuff is more than enough for this bear of little brain. No Tweets or Facebook for me (insert Luddite! about here, followed by Acme's High Def scream)

Rex Parker 10:37 AM  

That's 140 *characters*, toothdoc. Sweetened condensed Rex.


Anne 10:38 AM  

I've been in Cape May, New Jersey for the last week and had a great time. (No puzzles however.) On the highway, I saw a billboard announcing that Hall and Oates would appear at an Atlantic City casino. Maybe it's just me, but that seems to be a sad way to end up. I don't think a lot of rockers see that coming.

On a more positive note, I liked the theme. I don't think it's easy coming up with fresh ideas and this worked for me. Plus I thought it had some nice clues - air apparent, liquid diet devotee, etc.

mac 10:39 AM  

I found this one very easy, too easy, with a lot of Monday clues, but the theme made me like it a little better, when I filled in "perp" as one of my last answers. And look at "peppers" with all the right letters in the wrong order!

Comma's??? SSS, RST, STU is at least a name. I don't want to see OLE again for a while, please.

I did this one N - S, and when I found tamer proof and copper plate, I thought: ha, the theme must be printing related by the last part of the theme answers!

Chorister 10:43 AM  

Any idea why Owner of a brand got a ? My dad is the owner of a brand, because he was a RANCHER in a small way once upon a time. Pretty straightforward it seems to me, so why the ?

Supafly Mom 10:44 AM  

Too many words that weren't words. 'Fer' was a guess. What in the world is 'Pah'?

I am new to doing the NYT crossword but this is by far the most uninteresting Tuesday puzzle that I've completed. Not sure about 'Paperpusher' due to the influx of other words that came into my mind upon reading 'routine bound beaucrat'.

retired_chemist 10:53 AM  

@ Supafly Mom -

OOM PAH PAH is the traditional pseudo-onomatopoeia for the sound of a tuba.

Denise 11:03 AM  

When you sign your child up for sleep-away camp, they send you a packet in which is found a way to order NAME TAPE -- what you get, for a small amount of money, is a roll of tape with your child's name on it hundreds of time. You cut off the pieces and iron them onto the clothes. Back in the day, you stitched them onto the clothes.

I am a "Law and Order SVU" fan, and my kids wonder why -- and I say, "Cause they get the PERPs." Gotta get those PERPS. Make 'em walk.

slypett 11:23 AM  

@Charles Bogle: Shared your view of the Swingline supersign. Do you remember when there was still a Sunnyside Gardens with wrestling matches? Another highlight of the #7 trip. To say nothing of the spectacular sunsets over Manhattan!

@Doug: For "clue" to be a pun there has to be a different meaning or application of it (Webster's II). E.g.: Farmer Brown:How are you today? Farmer Gray: Had too much juice for breakfast. Gotta prune the bushes.

Two Ponies 11:28 AM  

@ Anne, If you think Hall and Oates in Atlantic City is sad how about Aretha Franklin at an off-Strip Casino in Vegas?
It's sad but true.
An amazing array of acts you didn't know were still performing straggle thru here.
Best part of the puzzle was Rex's write-up. Those twitter quotes were great.

SethG 11:32 AM  

I suppose what I want to suppose. They all do, retired_chemist.

I think "IT'S YOU" more commonly comes after "What is that smell?". For dress shopping, I think a qualifier is needed. "It's SO you".

Off to buy a STAPLE!

chefbea 11:34 AM  

Easy puzzle.

I'll wait til I get back to the states to look at the twitter stuff - which I dont really understand and probably never will. I do im. and I dont text.

very hot in Rome today. Going to Florence tomorrow if it cools down a bit

archaeoprof 11:42 AM  

@Denise: on Law & Order, when a perp "walks", doesn't that mean they get away with it?

slypett 11:47 AM  

@Doug: See the recent post by archaeoprof for a very good pun.

Noam D. Elkies 12:04 PM  

On the plus side, "perp walk" is a real phrase. On the side of consistency (dunno if it's + or -), each theme PERP arises in the same way as PER+P. On the minus side, we've already had puzzles ANTs and MEN walking, and systematically: in one case the five theme sequences were in columns 1-3, then 4-6, then 7-9, then 10-12, then finally 13-15 reading from top to bottom; in the other, I think it was 5-7, 6-8, 7-9, 8-10, 9-11. I wonder how hard it would be to arrange for a similar pattern here (necessarily with a 14- or 16-column grid).

61A: yet again, tuba players wince at at a wrong oom-pah clue, since tubas only go OOM: the oom-pah-pah onomatopoeia (or "Um-pa-pa", according to Menotti) for a waltz background combines the tuba's downbeat "oom" with offbeat "pah"s from tenor-range instruments (trombones, horns, lower saxes, etc.). 61A:PAH is also "Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon", a class of pollutants that could have combined with 22A:SMOG and 1A:RUNOFF for a subtheme if 1A were clued differently. But this definition of PAH may be too unfamiliar for Tuesday.


PlantieBea 12:05 PM  

This puzzle felt like the Tuesday version of yesterday's puzzle--somewhat bland, slightly snazzier theme. I also started with RUN OUT for RUN OFF and DRY OFF for DRY OUT. PERPS was the last completed entry. Easy puzzle for me.

I don't tweet because I worry that it would consume too much time. I did enjoy seeing the selected tweets on the blog though. Texting is painfully slow on my Razr phone--much easier to make the phone call. My D and her peers do almost all of their distance communication via text and Facebook. Recently, when she was home from school, she was texting. When I suggested it would be quicker to make the phone call, she informed me that a call to a cell would be too intrusive. ???

PuzzleGirl 12:22 PM  

I agree with pretty much everything everyone has said. So-so puzzle, which is about what I expect on a Tuesday.

I also prefer Crosscan's idea of super powers.

@archaeoprof: You are right, of course. But a perp walking and a perp doing a perp walk are two totally different things!

Charles Bogle 12:34 PM  

@xman, thanks for the Sunnyside remembrance too

just noticed the juxtaposition of BUSSING and CUDDLES...nice touch

joho 12:40 PM  

@Rex ... IM is my instant connection to my art director in San Diego ... we use it all the time.

I thought this puzzle was PERPectly presentable for a Tuesday. Pehaps not PG's best but very good, indeed.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Yad the same DRYOFF/DRYOUT switcheroo but other than that no writeovers. Didnt really get the clue until I was all done. I take the bus into NYC each day through the Lincoln Tunnel. You would be *amazed* at the amount of cardrivers texting as they drive through the tunnel. One guy this morning was texting, smoking, and driving all at the same time. There ought to be a law...

Stan 1:11 PM  

For a scary experience, click on the Mariah Carey jpg....

fikink 1:38 PM  

Nice use of Barfy today, Rex.

NDE said, "On the side of consistency (dunno if it's + or -), each theme PERP arises in the same way as PER+P."

That is what made it a Tuesday to me - pretty straightforward. Don't know if that is the thinking of Will, et. al.

chefwen 1:55 PM  

Thought this puzzle was very cute, but, then again, I'm a chic. Favorite clues of the day were Air apparent and Liquid diet devotee, "it's you" was pretty fun too, and one didn't need SUPERPOWERS to get through it.

Good Tuesday!

fergus 2:09 PM  

Never knew that BUSSING was Playful. "You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss ... As time goes by."

Pleased that we weren't meant to color in or draw lines between the PERPs today. Just the right amount of Theme hint, in my view.

Almost went for SEMPER PIRATES, which would could have been a pretty amusing Motto. Which gave rise to an image of a captured peg-leg pirate perp walk, on a plank, of course.

edith b 2:43 PM  

I am glad to see a woman constructor for a change. It is good to see a solid effort from Paula Gamache instead of first puzzle from yet another guy.

I guess Andrea and Will are on the outs and I miss her. I liked the way the various PERPS were imbedded in long entries, mostly compound words.

George NYC 2:51 PM  

How do you always find the theme? I had no idea and often don't.

Tweeters: Tweetdeck is a cool download that lets you monitor all sorts of things at the same time. Addictive, tho...

Daniel Myers 3:01 PM  

Pleasant, easy Tuesday puzzle today, nothing to get my dander up, as it were.:>

Denise 3:19 PM  

From wikipedia: "perp walk is an American slang term which refers to the police practice of intentionally parading an arrested suspect (or "perp", short for "alleged perpetrator") through a public place so that the media may observe and record the event. The suspect is typically handcuffed or otherwise restrained, and is often dressed in prison garb.

However, yeah, "he walked" means he got away with it. Jeez but language is interesting.

slypett 3:23 PM  

Dan, you are a pleasant and worthwhile playmate. You de dawg!

andrea sunlit michaels 4:04 PM  

I think this whole puzzle was a secret shout out to you...
PERP was an elaborate mask for the seven RPs in the grid (including RPI)
and the extra ones in PARR, PARIAH, REPO, CROP, PEPPERS, PURR, for the dyslexic-Rex Parker worshiPeRs in the crowd!

Don't despair, fences have been I just have to actually create some puzzles!

Fun-ny! It's SO you!

Daniel Myers 4:11 PM  

@XMan--Thank you indeed. I was just listening to Robyn Hitchcock. Does anyone listen to him in the States? I'm surprised he hasn't turned up in a crossword, given the peculiar orthography of his name.

PIX 6:25 PM  

@ANNE in Cape May, New Jersey. We go every year. As you cross the bridge to enter Cape May, immediately to your left there is ???WA WA or some type of 7-11 rip off. They have the New York Times and the puzzle. How are the jellyfish?

Leon 7:20 PM  

Thanks Ms. Gamache, it was a fun walk.

From the perp's mouthpiece: Perp Walk

michael 7:58 PM  

I was about to write that Hall was in Congress, which might or might not be better than South Jersey (with which I have some connections). But it turned out to be a different Hall (of Orleans) who went from music to Congress.

PuzzleGirl 8:08 PM  

@michael: I believe Stephen Colbert made the same mistake when Hall (of the Orleans/congress) was a guest on his show. :-)

Stan 10:35 PM  

Daryl Hall bought and beautifully restored a Colonial house in our part of Maine -- if you saw this place you would not feel badly for him.

@Daniel: Some of us in the States know the weird and wonderful Robyn Hitchcock. He has a brief but cool cameo in Jonathan Demme's "Rachel Getting Married," for instance. But not quite famous enough for most crosswords...

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