Elephant rider's seat — WEDNESDAY, Dec. 30 2009 — Amtrak debut of 11/17/2000 / Strawberry Fields pilgrimage figure / Tay Lomond /

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Constructor: Adam Cohen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Stock ticker symbols

Word of the Day: William Van ALEN (65A: Art Deco architect William Van ___)

William Van Alen (August 10, 1883 – May 24, 1954) was an American architect, best known as the architect in charge of designing New York City's Chrysler Building (1929-30). [...] Unfortunately, when commissioned to build the Chrysler Building, Van Alen failed to enter into a contract with Mr. Chrysler. After the building was completed, Van Alen requested payment of 6% of the building's ($14 million) budget - which was the standard fee of the time. After Chrysler refused payment, Van Alen sued him and won, eventually receiving the fee. However, the lawsuit significantly depreciated his reputation, as an employable architect. His career effectively ruined by the lawsuit, followed by the Great Depression, Van Alen focused his attention more on teaching sculpture. (wikipedia)


Ah, jet lag.

Let's see if I can get this thing up by 9am EST. (1/2 hour from now)

First, could some enterprising constructor out there please contact United Airlines' "Hemispheres" magazine and offer to write their crossword for them, because whoever is doing it now suuuuuuuuuuuux. Huge 23x23 grid, but only a handful of *randomly placed* theme answers, and the theme was ... Japan. As in ... all theme answers were in some way related to Japan. Grid had some appalling number of black squares, including highly unnecessary cheater squares aplenty. Best FAIL moment: DEW sitting directly and squarely on top of ... BEDEW. Holy cow. Solving that puzzle was the second-most horrifying in-flight moment of my trip, right after Sky Mall's headline for G-Defy shoes: "Feel like your defying Gravity!"

This puzzle was OK, but I don't see any link among theme answers except that their ticker symbols have some cute symbolic relationship to the company they represent. What the hell is a GENENTECH? The other answers are exceedingly well known retailers, but GENENTECH sounds like the ominous corporation in a scifi thriller. Like PrimatechPaper or Massive Dynamic. Really odd to have one answer so much more obscure / different from the others. Also, three Woody Allen clues? I get it, you're a fan, but yeesh. All in the N / NW, so I thought that was the theme at first. Two partial names I didn't know — 57D: Explorer Cabeza de VACA and 65A: Art Deco architect William Van ALEN — and one partial name I did — 16A: SAXE-Coburg-Gotha (old British royal house). How many more fill-in-the-blank names can there be? Answer: four. Wallace SHAWN (18A: Wallace ___ of "Manhattan"), Rubina ALI (52A: Rubina ___ of "Slumdog Millionaire"), CHAKA Khan (29D: Grammy winner ___ Khan), and MYRA (36D: Vidal's "___ Breckinridge"). That's a lot.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Company with the stock ticker symbol BKS (Barnes & Noble)
  • 25A: Company with the stock ticker symbol DNA (Genentech)
  • 39A: Company with the stock ticker symbol ZZ (Sealy)
  • 48A: Company with the stock ticker symbol PZZA (Papa John's)
  • 53A: Company with the stock ticker symbol HOG (Harley Davidson)

Watched an episode of "Nova" last night about DNA research and evolution, and while no one mentioned GENENTECH, one segment did feature a series of cheek SWABs used to collect DNA from different people in the lab, so that answer was oddly timely for me (1D: DNA collector, perhaps). Also timely was MYRA Breckinridge, as it appears my (entire) family will be vacationing there (Breckinridge, CO) when next we vacation (summer?). What else ... oh, the long Downs are nice, esp. EFFRONTERY (3D: Chutzpah). I'm not sure I quite understand the clue on O'DAY (22D: Jazz singer who took her surname from pig Latin). She took her name from DOUGH? D'OH? DOUGH wasn't her real name, was it? According to wikipedia, it's from "dough," slang for money. Innnnteresting. Mom just got me a CD of hers and I like it a lot. She had serious drug problems but lived a long life and was still working when she died in 2006.


  • 5A: Tay and Lomond (lochs) — first thought: "Who are they?"
  • 23A: Strawberry Fields pilgrimage figure (Ono) — new (to me) clue. Interesting.
  • 61A: Amtrak debut of 11/17/2000 (Acela) — a northeast thing. Learned it from xwords. Saw ads for it in Dulles, which may be the first time I've seen ACELA outside xwords.
  • 8D: Elephant rider's seat (howdah) — seen it before. Forgot it completely.
  • 54A: Former Fox series set in Newport Beach ("The O.C.") — had THEOM here because I didn't know the explorer guy's name and I apparently tried to make it rhyme with Vasco de GAMA.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Judith 9:09 AM  

I didn't find this EASY. Guess I'm not up on my stock tickers. Never heard of Genetech or the saddle for an elephant. Ouch.

treedweller 9:13 AM  

I did not like the SHAWN/HOWDAH cross. I know, I'm a whippersnapper, but Wallace SHAWN is nobody to me. SHAWN is frequently spelled Shaun. If you google HOWDAH, your first entry says "also houdah".

But my mistake, after I determined it wasn't there, turned out to be Yeats for KEATS. I was all set to grouse about the alternate spelling of Elis, but it never occurred to me that it could be ELKS. Thanks, Orange, for bailing me out again. I really hate to fail on a Wednesday, though.

Elaine 9:20 AM  

I rated this EASY.... even though I knew none of the stock symbols, the crosses made them come clear very quickly.

GENENTECH...you'd know this name if you had a child with a growth disorder! Very respected company deserving of more respect, IMHO.

The only names I did know: Vidal's novel MYRA (haven't read it) and Cabeza de VACA (meaning: head of cow.) Who could forget that? Oh, and SAXE-Coburg (have never seen Gotha appended on this, but what the heck.)

You worked an airline mag puzzle?? Aren't there warnings on those screeds? Is there an antidote?
Oh, and welcome back!

David 9:25 AM  

Ha, somehow I disregarded the obvious hints in the clues and filled in the companies when I had sufficienct crosses - stupid me, because the clues were so obvious.

Genentech is a major player in bio-engineered drugs; maybe I knew that from being part of the non-recreational drug set?

Anyway a nice puzzle - and welcome back, Rex, and thanks for the posting in spite of jet lag. Somehow doing the NYT crossword puzzle is not complete without your comments.

fikink 9:41 AM  

Rex, when I was in the biz, Genentech's IPO was quite impressive - that was in the early 80s. Perhaps, it remains obscure to those who don't deal in the market.


Rex Parker 9:45 AM  

Re: GENENTECH. The issue is not obscurity per se but RELATIVE obscurity, i.e. obscurity RELATIVE to the other theme answers.

Also there's an issue of difference in kind. As I said, the other establishments are well known retailers.

joho 9:46 AM  

I echo the "welcome backs!"

I also echo the HOWDAH/SHAWN cross as being tricky beyond the norm and even a Natick! I was able to reason out GENENTECH but ended up with the mistaken "U" when the "W" should have been. HOUDAH looks like Houdini and more acceptable to my eye than HOWDAH ... even though that's correct. Plus as @Treedweller said, SHAUN is a perfectly acceptable spelling.

Be it a Natick or not, that crossing took all the fun out the puzzle for me.

I also got very little sleep last night so I'm sure I'm cranky.

retired_chemist 9:51 AM  

Easy-medium. And a lot of fun.

@ Rex - Genentech may not be in your wheelhouse but it is well known. To quote Wikipedia, "It is considered to have founded the biotechnology industry." The clue/answer pair deserves better than the snipe you gave it.

Got a big kick out of the theme answers - so did non-puzzle wife when I told them to her.

William Van ALEN was a WTF for me, as was ACELA. Didn't know LILA Kedrova or Rubina ALI either, but the crosses were more than fair, so no complaints. DOG WHISTLE gave me a smile, was first thinking of hi-fi equipment (or its more modern counterparts).

Thanks, Mr. Cohen.

CoolPapaD 10:03 AM  

Great fun - I learned the hard way that investing should generally be left to reputable professionals, so I knew all of the ticker symbols. Genetech is one of the most innovative developers of recombinant (DNA-derived) medications, but they were absorbed into the Roche family (of pharmaceutical fame)this past March, and are no longer a free-standing company.

Like others, I had never heard of anyone famous with Lomond or Fay as a surname - LOCH came from somewhere in the back of my brain, after I had the LO--. I made one error - the W in SHAWN / HOWDAH was a U in my mind!

The USAIR airline puzzles are usually terrific - I don't fly often, but Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon do most of the ones I've seen, and they are generally clever and Wednesday-level. I always bring a Will book just in case!

Isabella di Pesto 10:08 AM  

If I remember correctly, Wallace Shawn is the son of William Shawn, past editor of The New Yorker. If you saw Wally's photo, you'd recognize him as a frequent character actor on stage and screen.

Do Zippos really have wicks?

As You Were...

PIX 10:11 AM  

A fun puzzle with some obscure (for me) fill.

Genentech is not obscure.Well known to anyone who has ever looked at the business pages of the Times, let alone the Science section.

Totally agree with Rex about there being too many "fill-in-the-blank" name clues...took away some of the fun.

Knew Seth Green from Buffy The Vampire Slayer but never realized that was also him in Radio Days.

I only know a little bit about opera. Do people really use SOLI, instead of SOLOS?

dk 10:12 AM  

Did not know THEOC, knew some show was called Oz and was light on my Spanish explorers: So the TEXAS portion of my grid was a bust.

Given the number of companies I have worked with in the fast paced world of intellectual property the ticker symbols were gimmes. Back in the day GENETECH and Cray Research stock paid for my first new car (Toyota Tercel) and the whole summer off when I finished grad school. Drove from Claremont CA to Vancouver (Hi Crosscan) to Maine and back via Nantahala white water kayaking school in N. Carolina.... oops rambling

Of course, I misspelled LOCHS and had solo, but even I knew LIMERoCK made no sense.

Love Wednesdays and this puzzle did not disappoint.

*** (3 Stars)

slypett 10:17 AM  

At first glance, I thought it was going to be grizzly, but it quickly turned huggy.

Never heard of THEOC. As it was my last fill, I stared at it in horror for a few seconds, before throwing up my hands and putting myself in the care of the crossword sprite.

iditaroder 10:23 AM  

I thought it was easy ... and fun! the stock ticker answers made me smile. But maybe I am just easily amused.
I loved seeing a word like EFFRONTERY in the grid. GENENTECH is well known to me, as is THE OC ... and I don't even have a TV, or read the business section of the NYT, respectively, vice versa.

Opera aficionados love words like SOLI ... though it's true regular folks more likely use SOLOS.

I alwatys thought the alphabet thing was ALPHA Bravo etc.

retired_chemist 10:23 AM  

@ Isabella - Zippos do, or at least used to, have wicks. My parents used Zippos. You filled them with lighter fluid, which was in essence a light petroleum, somewhere around gasoline in volatiity. Needed to wick it up for flammability.

The butane lighters people now use do not need a wick because butane is volatile enough to make to the orifice as a vapor.

Hal Roche 10:28 AM  

All this GENENTECH obvious/not obvious/doesn't match conversation pales against the fact that DNA is NOT the stock ticker symbol for anything. GENENTECH was bought by Roche earlier this year, and DNA is retired for now.

Van55 10:41 AM  

I thought EFFRONTERY and DOGWHISTLE were great.

I didn't know most of the obscure (to me) proper names, but got all but Vaca from crosses. I guess in retrospect I have heard of The OC, but it didn't come to mind even as I went through the alphabet. I ended up with THE OR (Operating Room) as my final guess.

The HOWDAH/SHAWN cross is pretty tough, but I guessed right.

Ulrich 10:43 AM  

@CoolPapaD: Don't be so hard on yourself: Just about all the mistakes we made in our (exceedingly modest) investments were those recommened by reputable professionals, and our best decisions were those made against their advice. (Artlvr is a shining exception!) The upshot: Nothing beats doing your own research.

I hate it when a Wednesday puzzle contains a square that is unresolvable for me w/o googling--like for others, it was the VACA/THEOC crossing for me, and like dk, I thought "The Oz" could have been a perfectly reasonable name for a show, much more so than The O.C.--gimme a break!

In addition, I tried "Birkenstock" for BKS initially off of the B, but was disabused of that notion quickly. Discovering the companies behind the symbols was fun, though...

DONALD 10:44 AM  

...and the puzzle's self-descriptive ZZ -- e.g., SEALY (39A. Company with the stock ticker symbol ZZ)...

Tony from Charm City 10:50 AM  


You may know Wallace Shawn without knowing it. He has been in several movies and TV shows. The most notable (for me) is his hysterical portrayal of Vizzini in "The Princess Bride."

My problems with the puzzle started when I had SEA-- for 39-A (Company with stock ticker ZZ) and for some reason filled in RS. This led me to put REP for 40-D (Michael Phelps workout unit). It wasn't until I saw the clue for 36-D that I was able to see my stupidity.

My favorite stock name, though, is VZ for Verizon. In Greek, "vizi" means "breast." Gives a whole new meaning to VZ Navigator.

Greg Clinton 10:55 AM  

AIDE gave me trouble...finally came to me in the shower.

fikink 10:55 AM  

Dudes and Dudettes,
I sit here with the FIL who just whipped out his Zippo lighter for me to see the wick! Let there be light!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:56 AM  

At 39 A, I threw in SERTA first, before crosses told me to save it for 67 A. We have a name for that, don't we?

Also, one of my personal lacunae, put in SHAKA Khan before CHAKA.

Good puzzle overall.

deerfencer 11:05 AM  

Cute puzzle, enjoyed it and knew most of the stock symbols, especially the wonderful HOG.

@ Isabella: Wallace Shawn is indeed the son of former New Yorker editor William
Shawn and as you note an established actor/director in film and NY stage, where he's done a good amount of avant-garde stuff. "My Dinner With Andre" is a favorite film of mine, and one of WS's signature roles.

Mr. Roche is quite right, DNA is now a retired stock symbol, so a rare cluing error that got by Mr. Shortz.

Dough 11:06 AM  

I didn't much like the puzzle. All the things Rex mentioned were true for me, as well (oh, and welcome home!)

There were several letters that had Natick written all over them. I'll stand up for Wally Shawn, though. His "inconceivable" character in "The Princess Bride" was fabulous. He was one with whom "My Dinner with Andre" was with. He did the voice of Rex the Dinosaur in all those "Toy Story" movies. And, for those with more refined taste, his "Vanya on 42nd Street" is a must see.

The Natick for me was the crossing of "The OC" (which could be "The OR" or "The OK" or "The OB(gyn)" for all I knew) crossing the "head of cow" (thanks Elaine!) explorer.

And the Karo crossing Ojai. Got it right, but was very uncertain.

I never heard of Genentech and agree with Rex not that it's obscure, but that it is in a class of knowable far beneath the others.


Two Ponies 11:12 AM  

I'm going to ignore the small things that made me crabby and concentrate on the fun bits like
Harley Davidson and the return of the nene.
I also love my Zippo lighter. The ritual of filling it, the spare flint always tucked inside the felt, the lovely metallic sound when you snap it open, and then the gentle whoosh of flame all remind me of my grandpa every time I use it.
Hart was a recent point of discussion and today his mate, hind, made an appearance.
So many people I did not know yet I forged on until The OC. Darkman's crossword sprite must have sitting on my shoulder as well.
Decent Wed. I enjoyed some of the humor behind the NYSE symbols.
@ Rex, welcome back. Wondering if your return trip was more of a hassle than the outbound flight.

Glitch 11:12 AM  

@Hal Roche & @deerfencer

Although no longer activly traded, it's ticker symbol is still DNA, and it's historical data is listed under that ID. Regan's nickname, Dutch, is still his nickname, even in death.

BTW: "Genentech Research and Early Development operates as an independent center within Roche". [Genetch website].

Like others, knew of "Genentech" from the "media", --- the same level of awareness as "Papa John's" (there are no Papa J's, Domino's or Pizza Hut's in my area).

That level of awareness is slightly higher than that of secondary Simpson characters ;)


ArtLvr 11:14 AM  

Hey, all -- GENENTECH was indeed a major player in the dawn of the biotech age, but the puzzle is out of date by nearly a year. The ticker symbol DNA was retired as of last March 2009 when the majority shareholder, Swiss drug giant Roche Holdings, finally reached an agreement with the Genentech board of directors on a buyout price for the 44% of shares they didn't already own... and the haggling had made startling headlines since mid-2008 -- with the bid price raised, then lowered (!), the raised to an amazing $97 per share... Genentech is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Roche, trading with symbol RHHBY.

The DNA symbol may one day get reassigned to a different company, just as the "C" of Chrysler for 50 years now actually belongs to Citigroup since 1998... No STRICT protocol seems evident!

Other than that huge flaw, very enjoyable puzzle!


treedweller 11:14 AM  

You're right--I did know his name once from that movie, if no other (in fact, a quick google reveals a few other movies and several TV shows I've seen him in). Not the first time I realized after the fact that I "knew" something I couldn't come up with while solving. Maybe this explains my correct guess, but it was the first place I started tinkering when I got the "incorrect" message.

mac 11:15 AM  

I thought this was a clever and fun theme. Since at lunchtime my husband usually puts on CNN Genentech must have crept into my brain unnoticed. Didn't know their DNA stock ticker symbol, though.

My last solved area was the lochs/howdah area, and the W was just a lucky guess.

I like the Harley Davidson symbol!
SethG in the puzzle!

@dk: nothing wrong with Lime Rock, CT.

Dimsum downtown!

JC66 11:19 AM  

Easy puzzle for me except for the ALEN/OYER cross.

@Rex. A small nit. Both Sealy's and Harley Davidson's main business is manufacturers, not retailing. Their products are sold in retail stores, some self owned, but equating them with Barnes & Noble appears to me to be a stretch.

Sonya (still missing John) 11:37 AM  

That has to be the saddest Yoko Ono clue ever.

Enough Genentech stuff already!
Are you guys gloating over Rex?
True, he does a fair ammount of gloating over baseball and rap but the point has been made.

chefbea 11:37 AM  

Tough puzzle for me today. Never heard of Genentech either.

Thought howdah would be the word of the day - never heard of that either.

I remember my father's zippo - boy did it stink!!

Knew Karo syrup and Thyme.

edith b 11:39 AM  

66A: Wick

My Dad had a Zippo lighter from his days in the service as part of the 21st Airlift Squadron - the Beeliners - and it was chrome plated, a real beauty. I quess Bic lighters have obviated the need for fancy cigarette lighters - that, and the decrease in smoking in general.

I have the lighter even though no one in the family is a smoker. I remember reading articles in magazines like Field and Stream and Popular Mechanics "This Zippo survived a POW camp in World War II" when I accompanied my father to the barber shop on Saturdays when I was a little girl.

Sometimes puzzles are sure memory pieces.

Elaine 11:42 AM  

Just FWIW:

I had heard of Genentech LONG before I had ever heard of Papa John's. GENENTECH's importance as a leader in r-DNA pharmaceuticals makes it at least as "mainstream" as a pizza joint! Just reading a news magazine will often keep one's finger on the pulse of science, medicine, business, banking, and even movies (even when none of these are personal interests.)

I have read many books with HOWDAH, have never seen HOUdah, FWIW.

Wasn't "New Yorker editor William" in a recent puzzle? However, I filled that in on crosses.

I did try to put in TELE instead of CELL there for a second. Old Dinosaur that I am, I also sent a WordPerfect file to various buddies... Hubby implied that I might like to write it out in copperplate....

Mike Lewis 11:48 AM  

Good puzzle - I flew through it well under a normal Wed time. DOG WHISTLE was my favorite entry, and ALEN was my pick for Word of the Day as well. I was embarrassed when, after staring at A-LE for some time, AXLE finally came to me.

I had forgotten KARO was a brand; it has taken on Lego- or Tivo-like status in my mind. Not that that slowed me down; CHAKA was a gimme, which gave KARO away.

Jim in Chicago 12:07 PM  


I declare a double Natick with OYER/ALEN and HOWDAH/SHAWN.

In the first case I finally guessed at E. In the second I had hoUdah and shaUn, which could just have well been correct, not knowing either answer.

I would up with COW with the "barnyard mother" which in turn left the Diva singing a COLI, and I just left it there.

Loch Lomand was a gimme here since we were just there in August - beautiful place, by the way.

luisa massim 12:10 PM  

Every time I think we're one big happy country something like Genentech comes up. Bay Area people know this name effortlessly (no effrontery intended) especially as a leader in cancer-fighting drugs.

dk 12:24 PM  

@mac, Agree Lime Rock CT is just fine. Dimsum -- yum

@luisa, we are a sometimes crabby and nit-picking lot... you know the kind of people who obsess on cross-words and then write about the experience online.

@fikink, I love it when you talk/post dirty... flick out his WICK -- tsk, tsk.

Off to dry mount some barbie..... photos :):)

d(still 14)k

jeff in chicago 12:24 PM  

Liked this puzzle. ZZ for Sealy! Hilarious. ALOT = [Zillions] -- Yes, that would be a lot. For some reason that made me chuckle.

Wallace Shawn is a Harvard graduate, studied at Oxford, and taught English in India on a Fulbright program. The man is a genius, as well as very, very funny.

archaeoprof 12:45 PM  

Hand up for a Natick at OYER/ALEN, but somehow I guessed right.

CHAKA Khan's "Tell Me Something Good" is now stuck in my head.

It's going to be a good day.

Geezer 12:47 PM  

Good friends for whom HOWDAH is unfamiliar, Read Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories! That was one of my first entries. And living in Santa Barbara, OJAI (45D) was another gimme.
To trade with those for whom GENENTECH is unfamiliar, I never heard of PAPAJOHNS.
If Amtrak had a branch in India, they would never name a train ACELA, as that means alone, in Hindi.

Doc John 12:49 PM  

I'd have to say that Genentech is indeed as well-known as the others. It was a pioneer in biotechnology and the founder was even on the cover of Newsweek.

Wallace Shawn="Inconceivable!"

Wade 12:55 PM  

I can't believe Rex hasn't heard of Japan--it's always in the news because of that Speed Racer stuff and that John Belushi samurai deli thing.

I dug this puzzle--who knew the stock market had a sense of humor?

Loch Lomond (stress on first syllable, kind of like Willie Loman's name but with a D at the end) or sometimes "Banks of Loch Lomond" is the name of that folk song you probably know but didn't know the name of, the one that goes "You take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye."

william e emba 1:03 PM  

Type in "DNA" over at the SEC Edgar service. You will get back GENENTECH. Frankly, it was the only one giveaway of the five that I got without needing a cross or two to tell me which company.

I pass the ACELA train station in Philadelphia frequently, sometimes twice a day.

Wallace SHAWN's role in Woody Allen's Manhattan (from the clue) is the one I always think of him as. Diane Keaton had been giving Woody Allen an inferiority complex all along during the movie by talking about her ex-husband and his absolutely fantastic animal skills as a lover, when out of nowhere they run into the ex-husband. It's Wallace Shawn at his goofiest looking, and Allen is flabbergasted. He cannot reconcile his mental image of super hunk with the silly looking twerp in front of him.

As a matter of fact, "houdah" is an alternate spelling for HOWDAH.

I'm astonished I guessed correctly that it was THE OC. I tried The OR, did not think de VARA sounded like a real Spanish name, I knew it wasn't Vasco de Gama, tried de VACA, and thought, "The O.C."? Is that some spin-off from O.C. and Stiggs, which I only knew from The National Lampoon, not the movie? Yet somehow "The O.C." sounded familiar, and I think I know why: according to Wikipedia, it was big on comic book references, so my friends must have mentioned it now and then.

On the other hand, perhaps somewhere I did remember learning about Cabeza de Vaca?

bluebell 1:15 PM  

Had the same naticks as a lot of you--houdah/shaun, oyer/alen (guessed right on this one), vaca/theoc (tried to fit Vasco de Gama in there). But effrontery went in smoothly and with a chuckle, ditto dog whistle.

Who knew so many presidents were Elks? And why didn't I know the Druids favored alders? I was sure the answer was oaks!

MikeM 1:24 PM  

@william e emba - Loved OC and Stiggs in National Lampoon, it was a riot to read. We are going back many years here.

I did not think this was easy. Mainly because I did not finish. I got got caught in the SOLO/LIMEROCK trap. Then I changed to LIVEROCK which made more sense but just sunk me deeper.

I am sure everyone here knows Wallace Shawns face if not his name.

George NYC 1:32 PM  

Largely because of the ACELA, Amtrak now has a larger share of the BOSTON-NYC-WASHINGTON DC passenger business than the air shuttles. And the Northeast corridor is actually profitable. Good hotdogs, too.

Claire 1:39 PM  

Rex, I didn't get the O'Day either until you said it was pig latin for "dough" which makes sense. Your name in pig latin would be "ex-ray" and her name would be "ough-day".


chefbea 1:45 PM  

@Claire and my name would be e-bay...lol

Glitch 1:45 PM  

Can anyone "explain" the meaning of "The O.C."?

I know it was a Fox show (teen drama) set in Orange County, but the actual meaning of the title eludes me.

The periods after the O & C are part of the title, but even assuming that it stands for Orange County, "The Orange County" still doesn't make sense to me.

Might have helped if I had watched the show, but I didn't.


PS: @George nyc --- and it didn't hurt when the air shuttles dropped the backup planes and stopped guaranteeing a flight/seat every hour. g

Rex Parker 1:46 PM  

I know it's not Thanksgiving, but I am thankful for Wade.

God bless us every one.


George NYC 1:52 PM  

I'm guessing that hip, young folks who live(d) in or around Orange County called it The O.C. for short, even though it doesn't parse. As in "Let's go to the beach." "No, I'd rather hit the O.C."
Any one from SoCal out there? A little help?
I've heard some people in NYC refer to Brooklyn as "The BK." But that could be a tongue-in-cheek tribute to "The O.C."
I'm going out now for the lunch.

Greg Clinton 1:58 PM  

@George NYC
I've lived in Orange County most of my life and I've never heard anyone call it the OC. But then again, I don't get out much :(

Texas Momma 2:20 PM  

49D: OLDSAW was a new one for me. I company today and none of them had heard it before either.

Elaine 2:59 PM  

Adage? proverb? aphorism? truism? Old saying? maxim?

OLD SAW is....well, old, but it's a still serviceable.

I have a friend who used to do an art show (in the same sense that "The Daily Show" is a news program) called COMA-- "County of Orange Museum of Art." But I've never seen "The OC" either...

Three and out, and see you when I get back from a little jaunt. Hubby plans to watch Penn State in its bowl game with his best football buddy-- our daughter. Guess I'll print up some xword puzzles to take along!

Happy New Year, everyone!

PIX 3:06 PM  

@Wade..thanks for the information about Loch Lomand...I had no idea it referred to the song we all know...turns that part of the clue from WTF into a "I can't believe someone has to explain it to me..."...Thanks

Jeffrey 3:24 PM  

(Crosscan is taking a break from commenting. We hereby offer "the Best of Crosscan", from January 1, 2009)

Happy New Year to all the Yakutskians!

retired_chemist 3:33 PM  

Those who call Natick at SHAW(u)N/HOW(u)DAH have my sympathy. Whether it is SHAWN or SHAUN is essentially unchecked. You may recall I b***hed about a similar case a day or two ago.

OYEZ OYEZ OYEZ. Those who call Natick at ALE(?)N/OYE(?)R have less of my sympathy. Neither has an alternate spelling, and OYER and terminer is a defined legal proceeding.

william e emba 3:37 PM  

For those interested, the O.C. and Stiggs special issue was October 1982.

And the scene with Wallace SHAWN from Manhattan is here, 8:14-9:55.

xyz 3:39 PM  

I am constantly amazed at the differences between my "WTF" and WTF is GENENTECH as croswordese. (Irrelevant that it is now part of Roche) Way better than an answer of JUNKDNA.


Knew ACELA from dropping my friend off to take it to D.C. from Newark, NJ

GENENTECH and the other stock ticker symbols I figure were absolute gimmes where as I go dense on PAGE=AIDE! LOL at me, I guess.

GENENTECH is as mainstream as a modern day an applied science company gets, almost a MSFT certainly a CSCO. Front page stuff, sorry, hardly even relative obscurity. But a Tuesday puzzle takes me 10 minutes or mosre most days. :-((

SOLI=Uglyyyy to me, but OK crosswordese I guess.

The differences on what is or isn't NATICK-EY is so entertaining!

The things we learn and how we learn them for our FOK (Fund of knowledge! of course)

Who (else) here actually knows RADIUS from ULNA?

:-) Cheers

xyz 3:43 PM  

p.s. Loch Lomand is also one of the most exclusive golf clubs in Scotland, but has been in financial trouble

and another thumb up for USAirways puzzles being pretty OK as opposed to the just awful Delta ones

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Yes, but I never heard of oyer and terminer. That's one reason I love crossword puzzles - the opportunity to expand my knowledge base even if it is often crosswordese. They're still words.

Phil 3:52 PM  

@Rex - You were 99% correct about GENETECH. Clearly out for world domination.

Anyone out there know the blues? Why would "I wish I were like a catfish"?

Rube 3:59 PM  

By the time I get here you guys have made all the pertinent remarks. So I'll say: A gimme for Bay Area people; Natick for the e in Alen; wanted Sachs as in Hans, (think opera); knew VACA so thought THEOC was some theological show, (Newport Beach!!??); Oak not ALDER, but... license; great ticker symbols; HOWDAH -- Just so Stories; yes, they stunk up the room when opened; hand up for cOW... never checked; yes, sad; add OREL to xwdese list.
OC & Stiggs... something interesting and new.

Any puzzle w/ AULD in it gets two thumbs up from me. Did a study once and estimated that there is ~1 Auld per 100,000 people in the US. I thank all of you in advance for singing about me and my family come New Year's Eve.

lit.doc 4:12 PM  

@PIX - emphatic NO!! re SOLI. Was a piano performance major once upon a time and never saw or heard anything but SOLOS.

@retired_chemist especially, and all of y'all who came a cropper on SHAWN/HOWDAH and ALEN/OYER - I concur re the Natickosity of the former. When I saw "Elephant rider's seat" I thought 1)damn, I've seen this one before, and 2)but I'm totally eff'ed if the crosses aren't all there. I know and love Shawn Wallace's work. To "My Dinner With Andre", "Manhatten", and "The Princess Bride", mentioned above, I'd recommend his very excellent "Uncle Vanya". But STILL couldn't remember whether it was SHAWN or SHAUN. And to loosely paraphrase retired_chemist, unchecked squares suck.

And, while AL_N left an A/E/I/O and, who knows, even a U ambiguity (for those of us who didn't know or couldn't remember the architect), OYER is certainly within the bounds of xword-level French. I'd never seen the phrase before, but between OY_R and the gotta-be-French ending of TERMINER, the square seemed checkable.

william e emba 4:21 PM  

Come on, we had William SHAWN the Sunday before last! And if you haven't read Brendan Gill Here at the New Yorker, you really ought to. And then once you get the story of the amazing father burned in your personal database, you'll never have trouble remembering Wallace SHAWN.

SethG 4:22 PM  

Adam Cohen wrote the puzzle, and Adam Brody played Seth Cohen on The O.C. And Wally Shawn was in Radio Days with Seth G and Dianne, and Wade is why I still read the comments.

fvigeland 4:23 PM  

Rex, you're missing 39A (SEALY) in your theme answers list.

I don't know, I found this puzzle to be clued funny. Too many were just not gettable to me. And like Rex said, a bunch of names, many which took all of the crosses. I did, however, like the theme (apart from never having heard of GENENTECH).

chefwen 4:34 PM  

Lived in Scotland for a few years when I was a kidlette, not too far away from LOCH Lomand, so that was a gimme. Spent the rest of my growing up years in Milwaukee, so HARLEY DAVIDSON was a double gimme. Got it pretty much finished but, head hanging in shame, did have to resort to Uncle Google for a couple of names i.e. SHAWN, VACA, and ALEN. The last letter in was the N in GENENTECH, that was new to me also.

chefbea 4:46 PM  

@lit.doc love the new word NATICKOSITY

Steve J 5:17 PM  

@Glitch & Greg Clinton:

I lived in Orange County around the time The OC came out (and a few years before that). It was common for a lot of people to refer to Orange County as "OC" (note there was no article). Sample usage: "Where are you from?" "OC."

The show came out and added "the" for no explicable reason, as nobody called it "The OC." Just OC. Like LA.

No Genentechs have been harmed - or discussed - in the making of this post.

Gross Geometry 5:40 PM  

The Radius is the little line from the center of the circle to the perimeter.
No, but seriously, the radius is the bone in the forearm that isn't the ulna.

Pretty sure I got that right, but do feel free to help out, FOK (fund o' knowledge-wise, that is.)

The 5:46 PM  

OMG! here is another context in which I get no respect. Beatles, and now OC. What does my BFF A have to say?

foodie 6:23 PM  

Most of the day has passed and only a handful of comments about Harleys! I guess NY Time puzzlers aren't Harley lovers?

A few years ago, I found myself with no original ideas for a birthday present for my husband, so I promised to go with him to Sturgis. He owns a Harley and was itching to go to this annual gathering of tens of thousands of motorcycle riders. Off we went, the odd couple, he with his Harley and I with a stash of Turkish coffee and a book of New York Time Puzzles. In fact, this is where I got hooked on them! It was an amazing experience, a whole culture unfolding before my very eyes. To my surprise, I enjoyed it. One day, my husband returned from a ride and was amused (proud?) to find me directing traffic in the campground-- there had been a huge water runoff and the bikes were slipping and sliding on the mud, so I was pointing them away from the trouble spot. Those bikers were remarkably compliant!

So, HOG was a gimme (as was another infamous clue, which would be expected of me given my line of work). The rest, not so much...

An, an Indefinite Article 6:34 PM  

Now, now, The, don't be so gloomy. Consider this: if someone is on a list, who cares? But if someone is on The A List, they are top notch! And it is you, The, who makes the difference. (Me, An? I get no respect!)

Isaac Davis 6:55 PM  

Why is life worth living? It's a very good question. Um... Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. uh... Like what... okay... um... For me, uh... ooh... I would say... what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing... uh... um... and Wilie Mays... and um... the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony... and um... Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues... um... Swedish movies, naturally... Sentimental Education by Flaubert... uh... Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra... um... those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne... uh... the crabs at Sam Wo's... uh... Tracy's face...

I would add : downloading and doing the puzzle at 10:00 p.m. , reading Rex Parker in the a.m.

Stan 7:22 PM  

@Wade, @foodie: great comments

fergus 7:31 PM  

Seth G and Foodie and a bunch of others are why one keeps reading the Comments. Add Wade, PG, Andrea, et alia

Anything interesting, witty or pedantic I've probably already said. Western time-zoned, late solving ennui figures closely with this blah puzzle.

Looking back over two and a half years of communal crossword commentary, though, I'm still delighted with the ___ to share the specialized enthusiasm, and spare our other non-puzzle associates

andrea chutzpah michaels 7:43 PM  

That is a hilarious image of you directing traffic in Sturgis!!!!!

(If any of you have the pleasure of meeting foodie one day, she is this tall, gorgeous, elegantly dressed, old world Euro by way of Damascus charmer with a wry smile and total air of fabulousness...with the gravitas of the brilliant scientist that she is...
so the vision of her in the mud with Harley Davidson wannabe-tough guys will make my day/week!)

Me too re: wade!

Am I forced to trot out my Wallace Shawn story again? Did no one ask?
OK, here goes...

NY 1979 (?)ish I'm about 20 and I've gone to see the play "Marie and Bruce" (?) being a Woody Allen fan (not to be confused with a Van Alen woody)who had a weird sort of off and on again meeting/correspondence thing with him as a teenager. ANYWAY I was there to see Louise Lasser (his ex) who was starring in it...

She had put on about 100 pounds since her "Mary Hartman Mary Hartman" days and didn't look well at all.

It was the most vile play I'd ever seen, with her just spewing hatred from the opening scene as it was about the collapse of a relationship (?) (and I think my parents were going thru their divorce at the time)
and the play went from bad to worse...
Halfway thru the first act during a party scene, LL suddenly stops midline, runs off the stage (not off thru the wing, but literally steps off the stage and runs out the door).

The audience was then treated to loud retching/vomiting noises while the cast remained semi-frozen on stage.

The play was so terrible, it was hard to figure out if it were part of the play or she was just sick...

She walks back in and repeats the last word she had said and they continued as tho nothing had happened... that was it for me.

I turned to my friend and said,
"This is the worst play I've seen in my life!"

A little bald-headed guy sitting in the row in front of me (remember, this is pre-"My Dinner with Andre", etc) turns around and says in a nasally, whiny voice
"I wrote this play!"

Rather than die of embarrassment, I simply shrugged and said "Well, that's how I feel!" and left.

@ 8 years later, during my starving stand-up days, I'm temping as a receptionist for a day at an agency in LA and he comes in to audition for the part of Barney in a live-action "Flintstones" film.

He hangs around my desk, flirting and says I look familiar!!!!!!!
I came THIS CLOSE to reminding him how we had met...

foodie 8:50 PM  

Why thank you Andrea! You make me blush!

But you should see me in my Doo Rag! (is this word ever in puzzles?) My husband took a picture, and my kids now blackmail me with it. And if you come to my office, you'll find a big sign on my desk, given to me by my students: HARLEY MAMA!

What a great Wallace Shawn story! It prompted me to Google him. Now I recognize who he is, and I can imagine both encounters with you! I wonder if he's reading the blog, since he's in the puzzle? If so, now he knows!

supplicant 8:52 PM  

Dear, dear ,dear Andrea ( and I really mean the DEAR in there)....
Please DO NOT tell us any more stories from that particular era in your life. Please. I mean, PUH lezze. If you would be so kind. May we entreat you. Should you be willing. In the interests of world peace.
Blessings and gratitude:
ALL of the Readers

Bob Kerfuffle 8:57 PM  

Hey, gang, time for another Rexville poll.

I want to be the first to cast a vote IN FAVOR of stories from any and all eras in ACME's life.

Stan 9:00 PM  

I'm with Bob_K: IN FAVOR

fergus 9:04 PM  

I say AYE

Andrea's ramblings are as well sought as the Rex Commentary.

Anonymouses 9:05 PM  

We all vote: IN FAVOR!

chefbea 9:10 PM  

In favor

Bill from NJ 9:20 PM  

Speaking of memory pieces:

I remember HOWDAH from the rich imagery of either e e cummings or Wallace Stevens in their poetry. Or maybe William Carlos Williams. I dearly loved that poetry from the early part of the 20th Century and I have always read "The New Yorker" like @Elaine ( at the library) so I was familiar with the Shawns so no Natick for me.

This one seemed a Medium Wednesday by my lights, albeit a trifle name-heavy which has never bothered me.

Glad to see that @Wade has settled his dispute with the NYT or maybe settled their hash, whichever, and it is always nice to see foodie home again and commenting. Welcome to two of my favorite commenters!

edith b 9:35 PM  


I come here for the stories that people tell as much as for the puzzle. I, for one, love Andrea's stories and all the others who choose to share some part of themselves with us and it is why I refer to this site as a Salon.

So, supplicant, you do not speak for ALL the readers and . . . no soup for you!

Rex Parker 9:45 PM  

Stop. Now.

One d-bag sounds off and you all lose your minds. Ignore ignore ignore.

That is all.


chefwen 10:20 PM  

Andrea - Loved your story, had to call husband in from the lanai to read it to him, he was wondering where all my laughter was coming from. Keep 'em comin, exclamation points and all!!!

mac 10:42 PM  

@Rex: can you confirm if Dan Naddor died or not or is that another hoax?

Sfingi 10:48 PM  

@Andrea - keep the stories coming! Some us have lives lived within narrow parameters - like Emily D.

@GregClinton - and that was because someone was helping you in the shower?

@2Ponies - be careful with that Zippo.

I got the theme but hated it. I don't play the market, I'm risk averse. I had to Google the ticker names for DNA and PZZA, but guessed the other 2. I've driven by the GENENTECH in Boston. PAPAJOHNS - a real crappy pizza. Better to drive another hour.

After that, didn't know THEOC - Who is Theo C? Oh, what is OC? Organized Crime? Obsessive Compulsive? I know it's not Oneida County. Oh, just another show I never watch.

Did not know ACELA, ALEN, HOWDAH, OJAI, OREL, VACA, OYER (hubster said it's pronounced oh-yay. Googled ACELA and ALEN, both of which I was glad to learn. VACA's book sounds interesting.

Know SHAWN from My Dinner with Andre.

The first time I saw a Harley Davidson HD tattoo, I asked the girl if she was into Hilda Doolittle, the poet.

Didlearn a lot of little things today.

Sfingi 10:52 PM  

@Mac - yes Dan Naddor died the 28th. It was on his Facebook and I pulled off some photos of him with son and with a beautiful woman.

It was discussed on the LA Confidential today.

slypett 11:29 PM  

kerfuffle: I was abouy to rebut Supplicant, but you beat me to it--probably by hours. I'm putting my oar in th water for ALL Andrea's reminiscences of anytime anywhere. Nobody messes with her (or Elaine or Two Ponies) when I'm around, see?

sanfranman59 2:08 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:40, 6:55, 0.96, 47%, Medium
Tue 8:51, 8:45, 1.01, 58%, Medium
Wed 11:30, 11:57, 0.96, 46%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:39, 3:41, 0.99, 53%, Medium
Tue 4:34, 4:29, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:53, 5:52, 1.00, 57%, Medium

fergus 3:28 AM  

Rex -- what was it you were trying to forestall?

dear andrea 3:32 AM  

@darkman, chefwen, bobk, sfingi,stan, edith b, chefbea, bill from nj, fergus, et al

um. embarrassing. but thank you!
I'll stop when Rex says stop
(it's his blog after all!)

(unless of course, HE is supplicant!)

Ouch! I'm all for world peace, and all...I mean, once, when I was 23...
oh nevermind.
But don't forget the scroll down arrow thingie! (I give you plenty of warning at the top!)

Happy New Year!!!

Elaine 5:19 AM  

It's my 4 a.m. wake-up time...meaning: I missed the meeting of the 1:30 A.M. Club! and I missed my chance to join (in a more timely way) the chorus of rebuttal @ Supplicant!

As Edith B put it: No soup for you! The stories are little gems that sparkle along the path; sorry, Rex-- don't want to ignore, ignore, ignore.

Nullifidian 10:55 AM  

In from syndication-land:

I liked the nod to one of my favorite playwrights, Wallace SHAWN, though SHAWN is far more well-known for his roles as Vizzini in The Princess Bride, Mr. Hall in Clueless, and among the art house crowd for taking the eponymous role in Vanya on 42 Street and for playing himself in My Dinner with Andre. You're right that this cluing sounded like a Woody Allen fan going too far.

Shawn is also an excellent playwright, and wrote such works as Marie and Bruce, A Thought in Three Parts (its London performance was investigated by the vice squad and attacked in Parliament for allegedly 'pornographic' content), and the political plays, Aunt Dan and Lemon, The Fever, and The Designated Mourner. He recently premiered a new play, Grasses of a Thousand Colors. I haven't seen it but my theatre-going friends in London tell me it was brilliant.

My only write-over was LAP for REP on 40D. I was misled by the word workout, and if I had stopped to think about it a bit longer, I would have realized that Michael Phelps was that gold medalist in swimming. When the theme answer for 39A was SEARY, I knew what was wrong and made the appropriate change.

I have never heard of "OYER and terminus", but I have heard of William van ALEN, I've heard of both Cabeza de VACA and The OC, and of course my familiarity with Wallace SHAWN allowed me to get HOWDAH from the crosses.

However, I think those who have claimed that this cross could have worked with both a U or W are wrong. There is nobody of any prominence named Wallace SHAUN. That answer only works one way because it's a person's name, regardless of HOWDAH's potential alternate spelling. Granted, Wallace SHAWN may not be familiar enough to cross with HOWDAH, especially not as clued, but that's a Natick problem, not a vague square problem.

I also don't think The OC/Cabeza de Vaca is a Natick. The OC was a teen drama on Fox that ran for four seasons and wrapped up a mere three years ago. It's exactly the kind of pop culture clue that one should expect in NYT crosswords.

Singer 12:44 PM  

There are times when being in syndiland is frustrating, and this is one of them. As a musician, I want to say that 'SOLI' is a perfectly good, as well as common, musical term. Most musical notation is in Italian. Soli is plural spelling for solo in that language. Solos is plural spelling in English. Soli pops up in other places besides opera - in jazz or big band charts, for example, a lick that is played by the trumpet (or other section) is noted as a soli, meaning a group playing a featured lick.

I didn't have problems with Cabeza de Vaca - learned about him in Jr. High School history class and thought the name funny because it translates as Head of a Cow. Knew of The O.C. from the pop ether - never saw it, but heard of it. Didn't really know oyer and terminer and don't know what that phrase means, but they have the same ending so that seemed to make the most sense. GENENTECH was a complete gimme IMHO. Papa Aldo's became Papa Murphy's became Papa John's. I still think of it as Papa Aldo's and have almost completely forgotten about the change to John.

Unknown 10:48 PM  

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