1986 Brad Davis film / SUN 10-31-10 / Jazz saxophonist/flutist Frank / 1987 Adrian Pasdar film / Athenian porch

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Fangs for the Memories" — Vampire movies, and then you draw a bat

Word of the Day: SAL soda (75D: ___ soda) —

A hydrated sodium carbonate used as a general cleanser.
• • •

Lots of pretty damned obscure movies, but a delightful puzzle experience nonetheless. A thematic tour de force, with tons of theme answers are a child's place mat activity at the end. None of the connect-the-dot letters are inside theme answers *except" the first "R" in VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN, which I'm kind of obsessed with now, from a constructor's point of view. That's 18 "dots" for the drawing—to land that last one right inside a long theme answer ... that impresses me, somehow. I might just be naive. I'm wicked tired from waaaaaaaaaaalllllking so much today at the Rally For Sanity, so I don't know how much sustained writing I can do. How far did we walk? Well, we parked at Arlington Cemetery and walked to rally, so you do the geographical math. Mob scene. Public transportation largely useless (for those of us who didn't bother getting there at the crack of dawn). So: walking. Fun, but exhausting. Maybe I'll just pick at this thing for a few minutes at a time for the rest of the night. Maybe I'll make PuzzleGirl alternate 10-minute shifts with me.

Well she's out getting ice cream or something, so I'll have to forge ahead. I had two errors in this puzzle—one a stupid oversight, the other ... actually, the other wasn't an error, but a flat-out guess that proved correct. So the error—I doubt I ever even looked at the clue for 26A: High-water mark; I just have seen most of it filled in and figured, because of the theme, that the answer was BLOODLINE. Why not? I'd buy a "Concerto in B" by Gershwin (the Down cross). But no: FLOODLINE is the only thing that fits the clue. And the guess? The NAYA / SAL crossing. Never seen NAYA brand water, never Ever heard of SAL soda, so that "A," pfft. Honestly, that's a terrible clue for SAL. Rest of the puzzle was mostly EASY AS PIE (120A: "Piece of cake!"), or at least easy enough to hack through without much trouble. Never heard of many of the vampire movies, but those titles weren't hard to get.

Who orders a BANANA SHAKE? (4D: Fruit-based fountain treat)—never heard of such a thing, though of course I can imagine it. ROCOCO STYLE feels redundant (12D: What Chippendale furniture was made in). ROCOCO *is* a STYLE. Clue makes the answer fit, but :(

Theme answers:
  • 23A: 1922 Max Schreck film (NOSFERATU)
  • 56A: 1995 Eddie Murphy film (VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN)
  • 68A: 1931 Bela Lugosi film (DRACULA)
  • 97A: 1979 George Hamilton film (LOVE AT FIRST BITE)
  • 113A: 1987 Adrian Pasdar film (NEAR DARK) — directed by Kathryn Bigelow (who directed "The Hurt Locker")
  • 117A: 2008 Robert Pattinson film (TWILIGHT)
  • 125A: 1986 Brad Davis film (BLOOD TIES) — this last one appears to be very obscure—listed at imdb as "Il cugino americano," and appears to have ZERO to do with vampires. I ... don't understand.

  • 21A: Odd Fellows' meeting place (LODGE) — no idea what this means. Oddfellows are my wife's favorite candy from back home (New Zealand)
  • 55A: Saturnalia participants (FEASTERS) — "Saturnalia" makes me think of orgies, not feasting.
  • 61A: Athenian porch (STOA) — a crosswordy word that is just a reflex answer for me at this point, like STELE / STELA (which I would confuse STOA with if they weren't different letter counts)
  • 95A: Bygone flightless bird (MOA) — like Oddfellows, also from New Zealand.
  • 130A: Many visitors to Legoland (DANES) — Baffling. Aren't there Legolands of one kind or another all over the world? Is there some mother ship in Denmark?
  • 119A: Bones also called cubiti (ULNAE) — hey, new ULNA knowledge! But, really? Someone calls them that?
  • 118D: Jazz saxophonist/flutist Frank (WESS) — Uh ... OK, sure, why not? He needs a second "S," we'll give him a second "S."
  • 60D: Epoch in which mammals arose (EOCENE) — Would never know this epoch existed were it not for crosswords ... so many vowels, such a weird opening pair of letters ...
  • 72D: N.F.L. defensive lineman B.J. ___ (RAJI) — Uh ... OK, sure, why not? I wonder if there is anyone, anywhere in the world name WESS RAJI. Please write me if that is your name.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Hey, everybody. PuzzleGirl here. I managed to get out of writing anything about the puzzle by offering to take the kids out for ice cream. Worked like a charm! But Rex asked me to post some pictures from the rally today. You might have been under the impression that the rally was political in nature, but I think the following examples of rally signs clearly show that the people who attended had a wide variety of concerns/issues/opinions. Enjoy.

[Sahra Parker and PuzzleDaughter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Hodding Smythe 12:32 AM  

Does anyone know how to get permanent black marker off a computer screen?

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Hey Rex, an Oddfellow is an organization like the Elks or Knights of Columbus or something. So they meet at a lodge.
One thing that I didn't like in today's puzzle was that they used the French word for night (nuit) but the Italian word for evening (sera) when ghouls come out. Maybe ghouls come out earlier in Italy than in France?

jesser 12:39 AM  

@Rex: Love that you and PG went to the rally. I am So Jealous.

I went to a great Friday night party and a lame Saturday night party. Got home. Checked Facebook and email and thought, "Ah, WTF, I'll do the puzzle."

Maybe it's because I'm grumpy from the bad party, but this puzzle seemed lame. No snap. No crackle. Absolutely no pop.

I DNF (without other errors, if Rex's grid is correct, and i'm certain it is), because I could not make any sense out of the 108A/95D cross. No alphabet run helped, so I left the bastard blank and came here.

Gotta say that both 107D and 44A were filled in only because of crossword experience.

Happy Sunday, everyone! Let's please DO restore sanity!

Phedergh! (My reaction to the costume worn by the man who attempted the Lady Gaga Emmy Award night fiasco.) -- jesser

Jim 12:51 AM  

Silly girlfriend wrote in ROCOCco originally. I had her change it, but I guess she didn't. That plus TEASets and a WHOLE bunch of three-letter fill I had no idea about, led me to choO for the dog in Beetle Bailey and, if not for FEASTERS (for which I needed the 'F' in the bat) gave me, get this: hesNoTaRAt for the Malmud book! Sure! Almost as far off as you can be and seem (semi-) plausible. Good times.

That, and the KaBoB / KEBoB / KEBAB dilemma made sure I didn't get the bird right (not that I knew what the slush pile was anyway).

Otherwise, only a couple of slow spots, and I enjoyed the theme that ran prety pervasively throughout (helped with a few guesses here and there)

All told, good Halloween week culminating with this Sunday spectacular.

Have fun trick-or-treating and, since I don't usu comment on Mondays--happy All-Saints Day!

Jen Muehlbauer 1:55 AM  

The original Legoland is in Kolding, Denmark. I've been there, and I *still* groaned when I realized the answer was "Danes."

Clark 2:05 AM  

Let me start with the last picture. SP and PuzzleDaughter look so sweet (I want to say that in the strongest terms that don't make me sound creepy). You parents must be very happy to have such great kids. (Of course, a picture can be deceiving, but I bet not in this case.) Since I don't have kids, now I segue to a pet story. Roxie came home today from the dog beauty parlor with a little pink ribbon tied somehow into the hair (fur? which is it? hair I guess) of each of her big floppy ears. There's just no way to say how cute she looked.

Next, @Rex, you said "never heard of such a thing, though of course I can imagine it." Seems like that is the very thing that set us apart from our evolutionary ancestors. And I always enjoy using that particular faculty in the solving of crossword puzzles.

Well, LEE_ crossed with RA_I just sat there looking back at me. So, since we have this Mr. Pencil guy or whatever his name is, on the scene, I just typed from A to J.

And Bob's your uncle.

Anonymous 3:11 AM  

Can someone tell me why in the solved puzzle there is always one answer in grey tone and one letter in that answer in a darker grey tone? thanks

DataGeek 5:49 AM  

Is there a circled "G" anywhere? Driving me crazy.

Anonymous 6:32 AM  

DataGeek-- the circled G is in Agra--NE corner of the puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:12 AM  

A very good looking bat! But would expect no less from Liz Gorski.

My only point of building dudgeon was immediately at 1 D. From the clue, Coconut filler, and first letter M, I thought it would be MILK, since the interior of a coconut contains fluid. The MEAT is more of an inner shell than a "filler." But MEAT is what fit the crosses. My deflated dudgeon was over the point that the fluid inside the coconut is called "coconut water" by purists like me, so "milk" would have been so wrong. Alas, a look at Wikipedia shows that the permissivists have prevailed here, and now coconut milk and coconut water are interchangeable terms. No, no, no! Coconut milk is derived from the meat of the coconut. But Liz was (somewhat) right.

Happy Halloween!

Bob Kerfuffle 7:16 AM  

@jesser - I presume MSS are manuscripts in a pile of unsolicited and unread documents on an editor's desk. Put the S in because the clue suggested plural. Never heard of SOLUS either, but in retrospect it looks like a good Latin word.

John 7:38 AM  

@hodding smythe, try WD40!


mmorgan 7:53 AM  

I was dreading the near-certain Halloween theme, but I very much enjoyed this puzzle -- perhaps because I found it so easy. Or, at least, for the most part ... I ended up with six blank squares that I just could not resolve. The S_L / N_Y_ cross was the worst. And I could not get (and still don't get) MSS for 95D (Slush pile contents) -- had _S_. And I did not know the SO_ Canals of Ontario.

The Note did not in any way help us solve the puzzle, but I'm eager to print it out to connect the letters. I suppose that's a nice impressive feat in some ways, but perhaps too cute by half in others. It's smart and clever, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with actually solving the puzzle.

Oh wait.. I just did it... wow, that's one way cool bat!!!!

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

What does this puzzle and a vampire have in common?

PS. Like the pix. Cute girls and DC is beautiful on a sunny day....

escalante blogger 8:28 AM  

Batman and Robin show really cool.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Regarding Legoland, this quote is from Wikipedia:

Legoland in Billund, Denmark, is the largest and the oldest.

The Hag 8:59 AM  

I also had to guess the final A in the NAYA/SAL cross, but guessed right. On the road with no printer, forced to solve in AL so couldn't do the connect-the-dots to get the (I assume) bat. ): This probably added some to the meh factor. But a finished non-slog Sunday is better than I usually do, so no complaints.

My favorite sign from the rally:

joho 9:40 AM  

I absolutely LOVED this puzzle! It was everything and more of what I was hoping for on a Halloween Sunday. There is just nobody better than Liz Gorski at this type of grid woven with tons of theme answers and a beautiful bat to boot. Fantastic! Today perhaps we should refer to this super constructor as Ms. Goreski.

Loved MYEYE!

@PG, beautiful shot of two beautful girls!

chefbea 10:33 AM  

Very easy puzzle for me and lots of fun.

Did we have piece of cake yesterday???

Hated talced...when does one ever say I'll talc the baby's bottom?????

Two cute puzzle daughters!!!

Sparky 11:05 AM  

Great photos PG. lol at Sphinx cat. Puzzle daughters so nice.
Enjoyed the vampire theme though never heard of BLOODTIES and TWILIGHT. Had 51D as AoL and b starting 55D. Forgot to check what belonged in the circle. Several blanks in SE corner so came here. Now it all makes sense.
In "In Treatment" the Indian character says his daughter-in-law has named her child after a bottled water, Naya. You never know where a puzzle answer will lurk.
Beautiful weather for the big Halloween parade tonight.

r.alphbunker 11:21 AM  

A thinking person's Halloween puzzle.

Unknown 11:25 AM  

@hodding smythe: I got some on my formica table and had to use clorox and it worked.

Noam D. Elkies 11:35 AM  

Besides everything else, nice use of the unusual left/right symmetry.

I too was expecting BLODDLINE at 26A, but that's preempted by 125A:BLOOD_TIES. Makes me suspect that the constructor almost managed to stack that theme entry with 23A:NOSFERATU but eventually chose another set-up.

72D:RAJI/85A:LEEJ is an even worse crossing than 75D:SAL/82A:NAYA, except that it's triple-checked by the circles. If the constructor didn't need a J there then we surely wouldn't have seen this Natick crossing to begin with: change 45A to SEEN and al is well [RANI/SOOT].

Happy Boo Day,
—NDE [captcha=horwor, which is almost appropriate for Harroween]

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

I just googled "slush pile" and it is a magazine

Stan 11:44 AM  

A near-perfect Halloween Sunday puzzle!

Nosferatu and Near Dark are among my movie faves -- never heard of Blood Ties, but who cares, it makes a good enough theme answer. Loved the bilateral symmetry with DRACULA and BOO in the center, more or less. And the bat rocks.

Thanks for the rally pics!

@Hodding: Try Goo Gone.

Unknown 12:06 PM  

Loved it ! Absolutely perfect way to finish Halloween week. Thanks Liz. I expected nothing less from you.

Blasted through this one pretty quickly, and would have had a great time completion, had it not been for a few nasty potential naticks.

I never Google or check reference sources while working the puzzle. Up until the recent advent of Mr. Happy Pencil, I always used Rex's completed grid for resolution conformation on my puzzle. I'm one of those " You won or you lost types. " No gray area's for me. If I had a DNF or an incorrect square, I admit it. Also, I don't generally nitpick over usage or cluing. There are plenty of people here and elsewhere, that do that leg work for me.

As for the puzzle :
My worst potential natick was at 125A crossing 118D. Didn't know the movie or the saxophonist. Likewise the phrase at 122D. I finally sussed it out, but it took a lot longer than it should have. Still have no idea weather the saxophonist is Frank Wess or Wess Frank, and don't really care.

Hated TALCED for 104D.

Had no idea where Liz or Will were going with 95D ? Is a Slush Pile different that a Slush Fund ? To me, a Slush Fund is a money stash. MSS doesn't translate to any abbreviation of monetary issues that I'm aware of, but I guessed the second S correctly.

Remembered SAL SODA from the Maleska era. Likewise the ODDFELLOW brotherhood.
BANANASHAKE was definitely meant for misdirection, with the S in TRISTAN screaming. 12D is indeed redundant, but acceptable.

@ REX : Absolutely fantastic job on this weeks BEQ puzzle. It was brutal. Didn't know you had that level of work in your bag of Tricks, but it was a Treat!

Today's riddle:

What do you call a pumpkin that you carve in August ?

Ans: A Premature E-Jack-O-Lantern !

Here's how I like to design mine:


And the winner is 12:19 PM  

@Hodding Smythe in catagory "Connect the Circles Crossword Banality" and being the first of the day to pose the question ;)


Mel Ott 12:24 PM  

Do I realy have to follow Premature E-Jack-O-Lantern?

I really enjoyed the puzzle and the seasonal theme. I usually don't like movie title themes, but this was fun. The good stuff more than made up for some junk:

Once again this week an oddball brand name NAYA crosses, instead of a show biz name, an oddball (to me) title.

And the stacked movie titles at 117A & 120A, stacked on three proper names in the SE and crossing PIU and WESS was a bit much.

But the guesses were right and it was great fun.

alan 12:48 PM  

Can one of you genius' out there in blog land tell me why in the solved puzzle each day there is always one answer in grey tone and one letter in that answer in a darker grey tone? thanks

Masked and Anonymous and Trickertreatin' 12:56 PM  

Love shlock movies. Loved this puz. Thanks, Ms. Gorski! Thumbs up.

Only engine light moment: SOLU? crossin' MS?.

Happy Halloween, fellow spooks.

Weary of Query 1:04 PM  

@alan - Allow me to introduce you to a new concept in Blogdom, called the Frequently Asked Question, or FAQ. If you check the bar at the top of Rex's blog, you will see said abbreviation. Click on it, and FAQ Number 1 is the answer to your question.

mac 1:19 PM  

Really quality Sunday puzzle by Liz Gorski! The grid looks pretty already, even without my pink highlited bat.

I also had milk for meat, and then basta for no mas, clowns instead of carats, but, except for the Naya/Adia section, everything worked out.

By the way, Dutch ideas are ideeen.

Great pictures, PG. I watched a lot of it on CNN yesterday, and it sure seemed to be a successful rally!

one of "you genius'" 1:51 PM  


Now we're going to have to kill you.

(thanks to @Weary of Query).

garden girl 1:52 PM  

I still don't get MSS, even related to a magazine. Anyone?

D_Blackwell 2:05 PM  

MSS = manuscripts. It is a common abbreviation in publishing. Writers, editors, agents. . .they will all know this.

jae 2:09 PM  

A clever enjoyable halloween puzzle. Pretty easy for me except for the 125a area chaos1 mentioned. I knew SAL and deduced that slush pile had something to do with manuscripts. Nice bat!

Lindsay 2:12 PM  

As Bob K posted earlier, a "slush pile" is a heap of unsolicited manuscripts moldering on an editor's desk. Manuscript is commonly abbreviated "ms" hence manuscripts = mss = slush pile.

On the subject of Odd Fellows, IOOF (International Order of Odd Fellows) comes up occasionally, and is probably worth remembering.

D_Blackwell 2:15 PM  

Oops. I should have continued with something about 'slush' or 'the slush pile, as with MSS that are submitted 'over the transom' (unsolicited) and go directly to the slush pile. (A literal pile [though most submissions are now digital] of MSS that a lowly intern or first reader will eventually send to the circular file after reading the first pitiful page.

Slush can be MSS sent directly to editors, but are now more commonly found in the offices of agents being asked to consider an author's work.

PuzzleNut 2:22 PM  

Wow - a lot of movies I never heard of.
My downfall was BLOODT?E?. Was pretty sure 122D was PeU, which led me to BLOODTeEn. Cmon, that has to be a movie!

alan 2:49 PM  

thank you weary of query and I now know my days are numbered due to knowing the answer

Noam D. Elkies 2:49 PM  

Forgot to mention: I didn't know "cubiti" = 119A:ULNAE either, but inferred it from "cubit", originally the length of the forearm (the Hebrew אמה is still use for both the length unit and for the human forearm).


Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Along with DRACULA and BAT and BOO in the center there is also PAINe. :-) me like!

Rube 4:02 PM  

Had two double Naticks: the aforementioned SAL & ADIA crossing NAYA, and KALB & SOO crossing ABOU. Got 2 of the 4 required guesses, so DNF.

Strangely enough, I have heard of all of the movies, but have only seen DRACULA. FYI, the 1922 NOSFERATU is available as instant play on Netflix.

Let's go Giants.

Fitzy 5:06 PM  

Regarding the cluing for 24 Across that resulted in the answer ICARE - Wouldn't the clue more accurately have read "Words of sympathy"? To me "words of empathy" would be "IKNOW"... enjoyed this puzzle immensely!

Matthew G. 5:26 PM  

Finished with one incorrect square -- I avoid television news like the plague, so I'd never heard of Marvin KALB, and I'm not enough of a religion guy to have encountered ABOU Ben Adhem before. So I guessed KALl and AlOU. Oh well.

Love the puzzle. I liked it because it took something that is usually absolute _death_ to me in solving a crossword -- movie titles clued with the name of their actors (exceeded in difficulty only by their inverse, the cluing of actors by the movies they were in) -- and turned it into something I was able to deduce once I picked up the theme. And really, all I ask of hard answers is that they be deductible with a little work.

Really loved the cluing of a lot of the non-theme answers in this one. "Question shouted in exasperation" is a _great_ clue for AGAIN. Likewise "Walk the earth" for EXIST and "Biblical preposition" for UNTO.

Great, great stuff.

Van55 6:15 PM  

I finished this puzzle to the satisfaction of Mr. Happy Pencil with my only pause being the A in SAL/NAYA.

That said, there were a ton of obscurities that just happened to be within my personal sphere of knowledge today. Kneww SOO/ABOU/KALB, for example. MESA/MTV were gimies. LEEJ Cobb was a brilliant actor.

I really didn't care for the CDI random Roman numeral crossing DNA. Got WESS Frank from crosses, all of which I needed.

alan 6:21 PM  

Will somebody please explain , in Saturday's puzzle , the relationship between the clue sometimes appears in rags and articles.

mac 6:28 PM  

@alan: a rag is a newspaper.

@Matthew G: agreed re the news.
I had "why me" before "again".

JaxInL.A. 9:19 PM  

A truly elegant puzzle on all the levels I can think of. Excellent fill, and even looking at the filled grid before drawing the bat is kind of spooky if you are in the right mood.

I like how the movies (mostly) drop in chronological order from top to bottom. Didn't realize I had seen so many vampire movies!

And SAL Mineo without a shirt. Great end to a fun Halloween week.

Thanks for the rally pix, Rex and PG.

Happy hauntings. Here's wishing you all a trick-free night.

Danny 11:36 PM  

@Noam D. Elkies: I like your deductive pathway for ULNAE more than mine, which was knowing the antecubital vein (the one right in the fold of your elbow where they always draw blood).

Octavian 11:55 PM  

Seemed like a big Tuesday puzzle except for the obscure movies. Way too easy. Finished in record Sunday time.

Since I'm not a big fan of drawing on my xwords, would have to say it was not my favorite Gorski effort.

Michael A. Shea 1:48 PM  

I was at Rally, interviewing people for Arlington Independent Media (look for our coverage on web soon). One of my favorite sign was held up by someone out in the middle of the Mall crowd: "Keep Off the Grass." I'm choosing to ignore any possible drug message and enjoy it as a ironic comment on 400,000 plus feet trampling the grass.

Unknown 2:03 PM  

Rex ..... what a fun way to learn of your Kiwi connection ! Even after 15 years here, I still trip up on the US-centric pop/sports/TV culture clues, but I am slowly becoming "bilingual" with much help from these crosswords :-). Oddfellows naturally had that NZ candy resonance for me too, and Moa was trivial, but Naya ..... ???


nurturing 11:02 PM  

The Soo Canals make it possible for ships to pass from Lake Superior to Lake Huron.

On each side of the US/Canadian border there is a city called Sault Ste. Marie, one in Ontario and one in Detroit.

Sault Ste. Marie in the local vernacular is "Soo" or "The Soo".

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

What did the "note" in the puzzle say? I get my puzzle online and didn't see a note! How do I connect "the dots?" Starting where and in what order?

Anonymous 7:28 PM  

Other great signs
Someone told me there would be pie

teaparties are for (little girls) kids

I know you are excited but please use your inside voices

Free Juan Williams

I miss my dog

I hope my cats are okay

I feel sane already

You're doing a heck of a job Stewart

Think outside the Fox

Shrinks for Sanity

Beck Off

Tim 10:35 PM  

Disappointing. It's a Hallowe'en puzzle, with fangs in the title, circles obviously in the shape of a bat (who needs to be guided through the alphabet?), and a theme answer that's three letters long. Could it be ... a BAT?

A minute after looking at this, I decided I'd solved it, and recycled it without having written anything in the grid.

Dirigonzo 1:32 PM  

Halloween was a week ago but I still have enough of the spirit left to think this puzzle was fun. DNF because I was absolutely certain (almost always a sure sign that I am wrong) that 78d was KEBoB, which left me with _Oo for the bygone bird, and the slush pile at 95d was no help whatsoever. Still a really cool bat, though.

Dave in Seattle 2:13 PM  

@Hodding Smythe I was wondering how the computer solvers were going to draw the bat!

tobers 4:08 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle. Being also from New Zealand.....fantastic country!!!!......Oddfellows brought back sweet memories!

NotalwaysrightBill 6:09 PM  

A few too many RAJI-cross-LEEJ (J in common) answers for my taste, where I didn't know the people clued. Ended up with about six unfilled spaces because of that. Pretty good theme material, though, and the whole bat thing is a construction marvel to me, never having constructed a xword in my life. So, to damn with faint praise, ITLLDO.

Loved the Restore Sanity Rally sign, "Thank God for Mexican Food." Has all the makings of a serious Third Party ticket platform.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

The city Sault Ste Marie is not in Detroit, though it is in Michigan -- almost 400 miles north of Detroit.

kas 10:01 PM  

Liked the puzzle and didn't even have to google. Enjoy reading all the comments

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