TUESDAY, Jun 9 2009 — Long-bodied lizard / Carillon sounds / Rack purchases briefly / Like band-aid solution / B'way booth in Times Square

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Constructor: Steve Dobis

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "SHORT" (39A: Word that can precede the starts of the answers to the eight starred clues)

Word of the Day: CARILLON (25A: Carillon sounds => DONGS) — n.

  1. A stationary set of chromatically tuned bells in a tower, usually played from a keyboard.
  2. A composition written or arranged for these bells.
intr.v., -lonned, -lon·ning, -lons.

To play a carillon.

[French, alteration of Old French quarregnon, from Late Latin quaterniō, quaterniōn-, set of four. See quaternion.] (answers.com)

Nine theme answers (8 + the central reveal) — that's dense. The constructor's discard pile on this one must have been HUGE. That is, there are many more words that can follow SHORT than appear here — BREAD, CIRCUIT, CUT, STACK, FUSE, PEOPLE, SHEET, LIST, etc. — and each of the chosen SHORT followers could have started multiple phrases — HAIR alone must have a dozen legit phrases it could open. This is simply to say that getting four intersecting pairs of phrases to work out symmetrically like this would have required lots and lots of options, and lots of time working out the initial architecture issues. "Word that can precede" themes are not intrinsically interesting, but this one's impressively constructed, while still solid in terms of its overall fill. Very decent.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Movie starring a cross-dressing John Travolta ("HAIRspray")
  • 4D: *Nonbinding vote (STRAW poll)
  • 21A: *Big writing assignment (TERM paper)
  • 9D: *Like a band-aid solution (STOPgap)
  • 58A: *Very easy tasks (CAKEwalks)
  • 44D: *Defeats mentally (OUTwits)
  • 64A: *Electric Slide, for one (LINE dance)
  • 37D: *Heels-over-head feat (HANDstand)

I lost traction and nearly spun out only once in this puzzle, trying to round the corner from CAKEWALKS into the SE. Got SKI- for 53D: Long-bodied lizard and thought "oh #$#!, I better know those crosses." Wife says they have SKINKs in Australia. I've never seen the beast, or its name, in my life. The final "K" ended up being more work than it should have been — I had a feeling I was dealing with a booth that sold tickets, but my brain kept trying to put an "X" somewhere in TKTS (70A: B'way booth in Times Square).

Nothing much to complain about today. Sure, there's an odd bit of less-than-optimal fill here and there, but that's to be expected on such an ambitious puzzle. You gotta take your EYERS (57D: Close watchers) and your DOISes (24D: The Everly Brothers' "All I Have to _____ Dream") ... as long as they are scattered and rare, then fine. Speaking of DOIS, I have twice now looked at that word and tried to remember what it meant, or what the original phrase was. Looks like a perversion of LOIS. "DO ME a favor. DOIS Dane wants DESE (12D: Dis and dis) delivered to her domicile by dinner... D'you think you can do dat, DOLT?" One odd feature of the grid — all the NOs. When the grid said "No, NO, A thousand times No!" it wasn't kidding:

NO A (28A: "... thousand times ...")
NOH (27D: Japanese drama)
NOG (35D: Yuletide quaff)
NOS (47A: Most apts. have them)
MNO (22D: 6 on a telephone)


  • 42A: Lowell and Tan (Amys) — I know many, many AMYS. I talk to three on a regular basis. They were all born between the mid-60s and the mid-70s, when AMY was a much more popular name than it is now (I think).
  • 34D: Rack purchases, briefly (mags) - this threw me. Had the "M" and couldn't think of anything on a rack besides clothes and guns.
  • 55D: One of the Yokums (Abner) - as in "LI'L". More AL CAPP. Seems like he's the most popular cartoonist in CrossWorld.
  • 8D: "Sophie's Choice" author (Styron) - I get him and Wallace Stegner confused something awful. To say nothing of Wallace Stevens.
  • 5A: Andrews and Edwards, for two: Abbr. (AFBs) - Air Force Bases. Far more familiar, as an initialism, than, say, N.A.S.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


nanpilla 8:21 AM  

SKINK! One of my favorite characters in Carl Hiaasen's books.
Liked this one much better than yesterday's. Didn't like DESE, but the density of the theme lets me give it short shrift.

dk 8:28 AM  

Only slowed by constantly putting in the wrong fill. SRAWvote instead of POLL, cage instead of MOAT, etc. No real reason other than puzzle hubris.

What Rex wrote works for me.

A solid Tuesday puzzle.

joho 8:46 AM  

@rex, thank you for Randy Newman!

I prefer doze to DESE.

I thought this to be a better than average Tuesday puzzle and now I'm looking forward to what GOESNEXT.

Thanks, Steve Dobis ... you are not a DOLT!

retired_chemist 9:05 AM  

A nice solid Tuesday puzzle. If SHORT LINE has a nautical (e.g.) connotation I don’t get, a truly impressive theme. I’m guessing the theme phrase is SHORT HAIRS (as in gotcha by the…..) and not SHORT HAIR, which would be a legit English phrase but without any special connotation. RP’s dozen HAIR followers drops to a pretty low HAIRS_____ answers. If the gotcha phrase involves the singular HAIR elsewhere, I’ll back off. SHORT OUT is usually just called a SHORT in my experience, but the phrase is fine.

Didn’t like the clue for DONGS (25A) but I am hard pressed to think of better. Born as PEALS and stayed so until STOPGAP (9D) became definite.

OCTAL (20A) amused me after the counting in binary and ternary yesterday.

slypett 9:34 AM  

@ you, r_c: A short hair is the opposite of a long hair, a fan of things classical, esp. music, sometimes, a snob. Meaning no disrespect, but most of us here would qualify as long hairs, of a sort.

Today's puzzle was more fun than yesterday's, and actually faster, for me.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:40 AM  

@retired_chemist and XMAN - Whenever I take my cat to the vet, her breed is listed as "Domestic SHORTHAIR."

BTW, TKTS, the physical booth, has a ruby staircase going up its back which gives an amazing view of Times Square. I was skeptical at first that sixteen feet of elevation would make much difference in New York City, but it really does. (My impressions relate to the time before Times Square became a pedestrian mall.)

JC66 9:41 AM  


SHORT LINE is one of the four Monopoly railroads and your avatar is a great example of a short hair breed.

retired_chemist 9:59 AM  

wow - the theme is even better than I thought. Didn't remember the Monopoly RR - it's been a long time.

When SHORT HAIR refers to cats and dogs it is a literal reference. They have short hair. When used as part of a name in shows, e.g. German Shorthaired pointer, it is as the -ed form, although colloquially one sometimes says German Shorthair or German Wire (for the wire-haired). My point was that the other theme phrases are all evocative of something specific, not a literal and generic property.

Never heard the phrase applied to non-intellectuals myself.

dk 10:11 AM  

Well now, I was thinking it was short hair spray and all I could remember from my short hair days was butch wax. It was a gel (not the kind we discussed a week or so) that made your short hairs stand straight up. The only problem was when you got hot (peddling the Huffy, skateboarding on the small decks with the ceramic wheels) the gel would melt and run down your head. It had an odor that would attract bees and in my friend's case Humming Birds.

Off to New Mexico where my sisters try in vain to teach me to LINEDANCE. Hardly poetry INMOTION, NEER a CAKEWALK.

Two Ponies 10:24 AM  

Nice Tuesday for all the right reasons.
The NE brought out the giggling pre-teen in me with studs and dongs.
Knew of the Skink and, like nanpilla, thought of Carl H's character.
A Slammin' Sammy who's not Sosa?

Richard 10:33 AM  

Wouldn't AT BAY be better clued as an animal 'unable to advance'? It's the animal unable to retreat who by snarling and snapping holds the aggressor at bay.

Jeffrey 10:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeff in chicago 10:40 AM  

I suppose I should have known who wrote "Sophie's Choice," but I didn't, so I had to choose between DINGS and DONGS. I guessed right. YAY!

Does that SKINK have a hand on its tongue? Creepy.

Fun puzzle. I'm impressed that every theme answer (except the reveal) crosses another theme answer. Nicely done. I see Mr. Dobis had his NYT debut barely more than a month a go. Congrats on #2, Steve.

Jeffrey 10:45 AM  

I am not NO SHORT people, and the X fit very nicely crossing SKINX and TXTS.

So why is Randy Newman reading the lyrics of a song he wrote? And is Alfred E Newman really his uncle? That's Mad!

No Expos reference, so it must be a horrible puzzle.

ArtLvr 10:49 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle with the minor oddities noted by Rex: it was still a fast one for me. The themed LAT and the hysterical CS by Klahn were fun too.


humorlesstwit 10:54 AM  

@Crosscan - there were dozens of (oblique) Expos referernces, e.g.
19A: Having a lot to lose - EXPOS (on April 1)
26A: Lowly Worker - EXPO
58A: Three game series with the expos? - CAKEWALK

There are many more, you just have to look

chefbea 10:59 AM  

easy tuesday puzzle.

Being short I know and remember Randy Newman's song.

Nice weather here in Rome. Went to a great art show this morning. Then a great lunch, wondered around the piazza d'espagna then home. More good food and wine tonight.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

i don't get SHORT GOES. anyone?

jeff in chicago 11:18 AM  

@Anon: GOESNEXT is not a theme answer.

Noam D. Elkies 11:19 AM  

As a mathematician and sometimes bell-ringer I was delighted to learn that "carillon" and "quaternion" are etymological kin — thanks!

Which reminds me: 24D:DOIS is also "um+um", i.e. Portuguese for "2". Probably not on a Tuesday, though.

@R_C: sure there are better clues for 25A, but not in a family publication ;-) There's also "Capital of Vietnam". Curiously m-w doesn't give the "carillon" definition for "dong" itself, instead offering "ding-dong". The vulgar definition is first(!), followed by the 100-xu definition.

@Anonymous 11:10 — 45A:GOESNEXT is not a theme entry.

1 (octal) and out,

retired_chemist 11:34 AM  

@ NDE - I had noted the vulgar possibility for 25A but that would have suggested reading 23A - 25A together.

You beat me to it - 3 (octal) and out.

Jeffrey 11:37 AM  

@humorlesstwit: Of course! How could I have forgotten ABNER SKINK, pitching COACH in the 1970s who invented the famed Skinkerball.

Best puzzle of the year.

PlantieBea 11:38 AM  

An easy Tuesday puzzle for me. I'm glad for Rex's comments on construction--appreciate the puzzle more after reading.

We see beautiful five-line skinks (blue in the juvenile phase) down here in Hiaasen territory. Apparently they are common in the eastern US:

We also visit a botanical garden/park sited in the central hilly part of the state formed from ancient sand dunes. The landscape was designed by Frederick L. Olmstead but the focal point of the park is a 205-foot Neo Gothic and art deco Singing Tower carillon. It does not dong! Rather, it is played by a carilloneur who makes it ring. Judge for yourselves :-)


mac 11:51 AM  

Very nice puzzle and write-up. Enjoyed listening to Randy while reading the comments.

I was puzzled by the "dongs", since I think of carillons as light and airy, more like a ping. Love that sound coming from a church while walking around Amsterdam....

I also thought the "rack" was going to have something to do with guns, so mag(azine) sort of made sense.

Wallace Stegner! Thanks for reminding me of some wonderful books.

foodie 11:58 AM  

For me, reading Rex's commentary made me appreciate the puzzle more than I had during solving.

I guessed SLINK instead of SKINK which left me for a while with WALLS instead of WALKS and blocked the solution of the southwest for a bit.

Re NAS from yesterday, why not think National Academy of Sciences-- a worthier entity than a defunct TV show... Any self-respecting Frenchman certainly knows a great deal about their Academie. Why not us?

edith b 12:24 PM  

Like nanpilla as soon as I saw SKINK I thought of Carl Hiassen. And during the Bicentennial Year we saw Randy Newmen in concert at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Thanks for the clip, Rex

Shamik 12:36 PM  

Easy-medium puzzle, indeed and solidly Tuesday. No big smiles from it until the write-up and getting to see the Randy Newman video. Being of the vertically challenged group, I remember well, everyone singing that to me...including my tall (at 5'7") brother who died back in 1982.

Rex, thanks for making me smile today.

fikink 12:43 PM  

The only time I have ever used the word SKINK is after I passed my stock broker's exam early in our marriage and returned, after celebrating, to declare to Mr. Fikink:

"I passed and I'm drink as a skink!"

mexgirl 12:56 PM  

AFBS, SNEAD, SKINK, DONGS....? (all together sound like special effects, I just noticed :)
I don't even know what a carillon is. This was a hard Tuesday, IMOHO.

capesunset105 12:58 PM  

@Richard: totally agree about AT BAY/advance/retreat. I came here to post the exact same thing but you said it perfectly.

mexgirl 1:03 PM  

Oh, and thanks Rex for the carillon's definition.

Clark 1:08 PM  

I don't like the sound of SKINK. It reminds me of Gink, which was the name my youngest sister called me for a while a long time ago. I retaliated by calling her Big Bertha. She claimed that Gink was a fine name, that it was the name of Dorrie's cat in the Book "Dorrie and the Blue Witch", a book I had not and have not read.

archaeoprof 1:32 PM  

Thanks for the Randy Newman, Rex!

A fine Tuesday, but TUTEE grates on my ears and eyes. It's just wrong. A tutor is not one who tuts. Tutor comes from Latin, for "guardian", and the -or is not a suffix.

fergus 2:17 PM  

When they replaced the Carillon in the Campanile the sound quality became much more of a Dong, which I think of as being more sonorous than a Ding, or a Peal for that matter.

So many AMYS about today. Seems more common for younger girls to have the AIMEE spelling.

Clark 2:44 PM  

A middle-C carillon bell weighs about 4700 pounds. The lowest carillon bells can weigh 12 or more tons each.

“The bells of a complete five-octave carillon, starting on middle C, weigh less than a single bell one octave lower” (Bells and Their Music, Chapter 5, The Acoustics of Bells, http://www.msu.edu/~carillon/batmbook/chapter5.htm )

Only carillons with a wide range dong. Many carillons that are beautiful instruments only ding. A city with many carillons (say, Amsterdam) will have many dingers only a few dongers. A donging carillon is very very expensive.

Coon Hunter 2:44 PM  

@ATBAY Complainers: Sorry guys, an animal is ATBAY after you've chased it to the point where it can't run away any more. If the critter didn't run away in the first place it never would be ATBAY.

chefwen 2:47 PM  

Finally back to my little rock after almost a month on the mainland with little to no access to a computer. Husband kept bogarting the laptop for business, go figure, and my ornery old cuss of a father wouldn't let me touch his. "You'll just screw it up kid."
Got my hands on a few NYT crosswords and discovered that I could actually finish some more difficult puzzles without Googling. Such a feeling of accomplishment.

Being built very close to the ground, I never did like that Randy Newman song, but all in all I did like todays puzzle.

Stan 3:17 PM  

FWIW, in the world of cats, American Shorthair and British Shorthair are actual breed names.

treedweller 3:20 PM  

@r_c Is SHORTOUT a baseball term? I assume so, but I'm surprised to find so soon that there's another that I was unfamiliar with (SEEINGEYESINGLE was the other). I'm not much of a sports fan, but growing up it was hard to avoid the Rangers' games at my house (or in the car).

@humorlesstwit re: CAKEWALK
LOL! and I think that's the first time I ever used that SHORTHAND when it was true.

At the University of Texas, The Kniker Carillon dongs and dings. The dongs have been there since 1936; most of the dings were added in 1987. It is the biggest carillon in Texas and the 14th largest in the US. As I've noted here before, bigger is better in Texas. It's fun to be on campus when the bells are played, as the carilloneur sometimes comes up with some very surprising choices of music.

retired_chemist 3:24 PM  

@ Crosscan wrote:

"And is Alfred E Newman really his uncle? That's Mad!"

The Wikipedia article for Alfred E, Neuman points out that Neuman in Mad Mag was indeed named after Newman. Same article points out that Neuman-like imaqes were used long before, apparently even antisemitically (in Austria after the Anschluss). One learns a lot here. That latter I'd rather not have learned.

11 (ternary) and out.

retired_chemist 3:33 PM  

@ treedweller - I think SHORT OUT is electrical, e.g. "If the wires touch, they will SHORT OUT the lights."

It is sometimes hard to avoid Rangers games, but never hard in October.

12 (ternary) and out.

Charles Bogle 4:12 PM  

@Rex thanks so much for the great Randy Newman clip!

I really enjoyed this puzzle. Am having a very stressful day, and picking up and putting down this puzzle three or four times was a soothing relief; the mental exercise was a fun off-set to chaos around me.....

The theme was clever. For once, I caught onto it after two or three long answers and used the clues to figure out the others--the way it's 'sposed to go!

There was little if any of the "usual" fill. Thank you, constructor and WS

treedweller 4:16 PM  

hmm, I guess you're right. I mostly think of having a SHORT, or a SHORTCIRCUIT, but SHORTOUT at least makes sense in that context.

I definitely never had a problem avoiding the Rangers in October:-) They've often looked good going into the All-Star break, but fell apart after. I don't know if it's the Texas heat or lack of confidence. There was once or twice recently when they made it to the first round of the playoffs, though. I basically stopped paying attention to baseball after the second strike (union strike, not pitched strike).

Jeffrey 4:19 PM  

@treedweller - Would that be the 1994 strike, which cheated the Major-League leading Montreal Expos (RIP) out of their only World Series?

@humorlesstwit, you can see them everywhere.

Ok puzzle.

Strike 3, I'm out.

bodz 4:28 PM  

Being anti-military and non-american, I never thought of air force bases and not for a single nano-second did I have a shread of a doubt about 5a: Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards, surely!

treedweller 4:30 PM  

No doubt, though I might have to use that excuse on behalf of the Rangers from now on. I don't know how close they were to the Series, but it's probably as close as they've ever gotten.

But the Texas Longhorns just clinched a spot in this years' College Series. I do enjoy some non-professional sports now and then.

After all the SHORT talk, I've been wondering if there might be a phrase that would allow for SHORTZ to get into an answer, and if he'd allow it to slide through or not. I can't think of any, and all I get from google is the very non-Tuesday SHORT Z-DNA.

tree and out

treedweller 4:45 PM  

Any takers on SHORT ZONE? As I said, I'm not big on sports, so I don't know how common it is.

sorry for #4, Rex. I can't let go of a good tangent. cosine, yes, but not a tangent.

definitely time for me to stop. I promise.

andrea AT(SF)BAY michaels 4:46 PM  

Randy Newman's "Sail Away" will forever be associated with our teen creative services in the 70's at Temple Israel in Minneapolis.

Great puzzle Steve DO(B)IS!

And great write up... My favorite line of course is the "You gotta take your... DOISes"

And good catch on the NO NO's!
(May I add one more, NINO? MexGirl, Ulrich, is there a squiggly thing involved?)

andrea carillon michaels 5:32 PM  

ps @bodz
I'm with you! I worked for Julie Andrews/Blake Edwards' lawyer one summer...And I kept thinking of them too! And/or the two princes.

(I even had AMBS for a while thinking they must be Ambassadors....
I didn't know AFB till I came here today, tho now that I see it, it rings a dim carillon.)

bodz 5:38 PM  

Thought I was on my own in this,
thx Andrea

Leon 6:52 PM  

Thanks Mr. Dobis.

SHORTLINE also refers to a NY Bus company which operates in NYC, Upstate New York, Northern New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania.

Back to my SHORTCAKE.

mac 9:02 PM  

@bosz: count me in as well, I thought actors too! Had to really think to get the AFBs.

sanfranman59 9:22 PM  

Here are this weeks's numbers. The number in parentheses is the number of solvers.

Mon (all) 6:55 (856)
Mon (Top 100) 3:43

Tue (all) 8:10 (865)
Tue (Top 100) 4:06

This week's Tuesday solve times are better than last week's (median time < 1 hr this week = 8:06, last week = 8:20).

mac 11:10 PM  

Extra, extra! Nas has split from Kelis.

Anonymous 11:35 PM  

Is there anyone Acme hasn't met or is even vaguely connected to? Geez.
Clark you know WAY too much about bells. Doesn't ding or dong even make you smile a little?
Just askin'

andrea amid michaels 2:37 AM  

@anonymous 11:35pm
Nope! Well, maybe! Have we met?!
Just a soon-to-be old lady having fun reliving memories of folks who pop up in the puzzle...I've found the perfect forum after all these years.
Oh wait... I've never met Kevin Bacon!
(Feel free to skip my posts!)
Just sayin'...

Stan 10:58 AM  


But I'll bet you've *met* someone who has met Kevin Bacon...

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