Former Buffalo Bills great Don / SUN 10-24-10 / The Altar / 1960s chess champion Mikhail / Seven-line poem

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Risky Business" — Casino puns. Also: Burt Bacharach.

Word of the Day: OROZCO (31D: "The Epic of American Civilization" muralist) —

José Clemente Orozco (November 23, 1883 – September 7, 1949) was a Mexican social realist painter, who specialized in bold murals that established the Mexican Mural Renaissance together with murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and others. Orozco was the most complex of the Mexican muralists, fond of the theme of human suffering, but less realistic and more fascinated by machines than Rivera. Mostly influenced by Symbolism, he was also a genre painter and lithographer. Between 1922 and 1948, Orozco painted murals in Mexico City, Orizaba, Claremont, California, New York City, Hanover, New Hampshire, Guadalajara, Jalisco, and Jiquilpan, Michoacán. His drawings and paintings are exhibited by the Carrillo Gil Museum in Mexico City, and the Orozco Workshop-Museum in Guadalajara.[1] Orozco was known for being a politically committed artist. He promoted the political causes of peasants and workers. (wikipedia)
• • •

SethG here, talking about casino puns. They're puns. About casino games, mostly, or at least (in the case of the OTB and maybe STAKE) betting.

Theme answers:
  • 22A: London-based place to play the ponies? (OTB IN ENGLAND). "Oh to be in England" is the first line of Home Thoughts from Abroad, by Browning. Not to be confused with Home Thoughts from ABOARD (1D: "All ___!"), which is pretty boring since most boards can't think.
  • 30A: J. D. Salinger character's favorite game? (HOLD 'EM CAULFIELD). By a far stretch the most awesome of the theme entries, and I don't think I'm just saying that because I play hold 'em and love Salinger. Wouldn't surprise me at all to learn this was the seed entry.
    Not my favorite clue, though--Hold 'em Caulfield sounds more like a nickname for the guy who plays the game than the game itself, though the clue references the game.

  • 48A: Game played with dice set on fire? (CRAPS SUZETTE). Flambé! Tasty, when it's the crêpe. Less so when it's taken literally. Perhaps 99A: Actress Langdon (SUEANE)'s original name was SUZETTE before she made up a shortened form?
  • 64A: One-armed bandits? (SLOTS OF LUCK). Without the question mark, this would be a perfectly fine clue for SLOTS.
  • 71A: Relative of a bingo caller? (KENO SPEAKER). A puzzle I blogged about here last year included JOHN MAYNARD KEYNOTES as its central theme answer. It was clued incorrectly, referencing the economist instead of the boat captain. The economist's speeches were JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES KEYNOTES.
  • 88A: Card game played Reynolds's way? (BURT BACCARAT). Heh, he said Reynolds's. This was the first theme entry I got. Everything I know about baccarat I learned from Ian Fleming novels. Did you know Burt Bacharach wrote the score for Casino Royale? The 1967 version--in the new one, with Daniel Craig, they play hold 'em instead of baccarat.

  • 105A: "Please consider playing the wheel again"? (DON'T ROULETTE OUT) I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean. After thinking about it for a while after I finished the puzzle, I at least figured out that it's a play on "Don't rule it out."
  • 118A: Pot with a pile of chips? (STAKE PLATTER) I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean, but I assume it's a play on "steak platter". Is a platter a kind of pot?
  • 18A: One of the Three B's (BACH). The others are BURT and ARACH.
  • 21A: Film festival name since 1990 (SUNDANCE). This was named after Robert Redford's character in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

  • 25A: Street bordering New York's Stuvesant Town (AVENUE C). As opposed to a different Stuyvesant Town. Do I have to tell you how many songs BB wrote for Avenue Q? C also 16D: Flashlight battery (C CELL).
  • 29A: Laughing (RIANT). This is apparently a word.
  • 38A: Donut shape (TOROID) is from a different root than 70A: Participants in an annual run (TOROS). I really wanted the latter to be a turkey trot of some sort.
  • ROT STAC SCOTTO TAC. I really wanted these to be words of some sort.
  • 114A: Split personality? (CROATIAN). This makes a lot more sense if you know that Split is a city in Croatia. I, for example, did not know that.
  • 3D: TV character with dancing baby hallucinations (BEETS).
  • 9D: L overseer (CTA). The Chicago Transit Authority runs the elevated trains.
  • 20D: N.B.A. star nicknamed the Candy Man (ODOM) is Lamar Odom, not Sammy Davis Jr.
  • 43D: Rock band with an inventor's name (TESLA). So 111A: Alphabetically first inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (ABBA) is, among other things, the Hebrew word for father. When I was in 3rd grade, before I actually knew anything about music, I used to confuse them with Black Sabbath.
  • 46D: Tropical menace (ANACONDA). I actually tried to fit GOLCONDA at one point for 123A: Vine-covered colonnade (PERGOLA). This makes me think of Sir Mix-A-Lot, but I'll spare you the link. Same for 90D: Smooth operator (ROUE) and Sade.
  • 57D: Give for free (COMP). Say, in a casino. Or maybe tickets to a Bacharach show.
  • 72D: Hall & Oats, e.g. (POP DUO). Burt Bacharach, on the other hand, is often a solo act. Pop is also the 11 seed in the Women's division at this week's USA Ultimate Club Championship tournament.
  • 95D: Trial of the century defendant (LOEB). Of the last century. When I think of Loeb, I think of her wedding for some reason. I was not there.
  • 98D: "Shanghai Express" actor (OLAND) is old.
  • 76D: Coach Dick in the N.F.L. Hall of Fame (LEBEAU). My best and worst moments in solving the puzzle, which you should feel free to skip over if you hate football. This totally threw me off, because Dick LeBeau was inducted into the Hall of Fame just this year for (at least officially) his accomplishments during his 14-year playing career (for the Lions, Rex's team), not for his 36+ years as a coach or his 50+ years in the league. He's currently the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, my team, about whom I pride myself on knowing everything that's important to know. I know who he is, of course, so I'm totally embarrassed by how long it took me to come up with his name when I had something like LEBxxU in place.

    And since we're on halls of fame, because I can, here's audio from Myron Cope, the Steelers' radio color commentator from before I was born until just before his death a few years ago. (When he passed away, my parents called at 6am to make sure I heard the news from them.) He's the only football commentator in the National Radio Hall of Fame.

    I'm currently cat-sitting for Thelma and Louise, but when they go back home I'm planning to get a cat and name him Myron. I can't watch the following video without getting chills, and if you grew up with me or spent any significant time in Pittsburgh in the same era, I'm guessing you can't either.

    My towel and I will be at McGovern's for the Miami game, today at 107D: Common time for a duel (NOON). Feel free to stop by and say hi!

Okay, I've rambled enough. Time for your Tweets of Last Week, puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:
Rex will be back tomorrow, but I'm sure we'll get more Andrea soon.

Signed, SethG, Royal Vizier of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Bob Kerfuffle 7:13 AM  

As usual for BEQ, references to obscure indie rock musicians! I mean, we've all heard of the Three Tenors, but who are these 18 A Three B's and this guy BACH?

Seriously, SethG, thanks for clearing that up, and even more so for the explanation of 9 D, L overseer, CTA, which had me genuinely puzzled.

And love your bullet point for 3 D!

The Bard 9:10 AM  

Hamlet > Act I, scene II

HORATIO: Hail to your lordship!

HAMLET: I am glad to see you well:
Horatio,--or I do forget myself.

HORATIO: The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.

Sir, my good friend; I'll change that name with you:
And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio? Marcellus?

shannon 9:18 AM  

Dunno. BEQ is usually better than this. Lot of awkward and vague fill for pretty lame puns. Juice not worth the squeeze.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Nice commentary, Seth. The puzzle's clueing seemed to be harder than usual. I had no idea what to think when "Split Personality" filled in as Croation. Did not know about the city Split - although it looks lovely. Never heard of Radio Disney. And "football special teams player"?? I liked Anaconda. It fooled me - kept wanting the answer to be some sort of storm.
The theme was okay - not my favorite BEQ puzzle, but as usual, I learned a lot.
Teresa in Detroit

Leon 9:43 AM  

Thank you Mr. Quigley.
Thanks for the write-up SethG.

Stuyvesant Town borders: include Avenues A , B and C , First Avenue, East 14th Street and East 20th Street.

DocRoss 10:05 AM  

I love that you used the Burt Bacharach-penned song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" to illustrate SUNDANCE.

Nice touch.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

I agree with Shannon.

foodie 10:29 AM  

Thank you SethG for the breezy and informative commentary. I appreciated the theme, from a distance, realizing that it was clever but that I suck at puns. But I feel justified in being frustrated by the number of proper nouns in the fill. Every time I turned around, another one! It made it impossible for me to get a toehold in many of the nooks and crannies of the puzzle. So, a frustrated DNF...I'll go lick my ETL (English as a third language) wounds by doing KenKen...

mmorgan 10:34 AM  

I found the theme answers to be pleasurably groan-inducing -- and some were very clever. They all came pretty easily (although STAKEPLATTER required some sweat). I was expecting to see TEXAS HOLDEN somewhere.

Most of the fill was fine (if not always pleasant), but I hit some real roadblocks, with OMANI for ADENI at 66A, and no clue about MORRIE, BEEBE, LEBEAU, PERGOLA and SUEANE. (Also wanted SHIMMYUP for 4: (Climb, as a rope) but realized that had to change to the unfamiliar SHINNY.)

And several I got from crosses, but had never seen: TOEPICK, RIANT, TOROID, NENA.

Enjoyed the theme but as for the rest... can't get too excited either way. For me, certainly, not one to breeze through!

joho 10:37 AM  


Commentary more fun and moving that the puzzle: thank you SethG. Loved the clip with Myron Cope.

The clue for CROATION was just terrible. And then there's SUEANE? NTUPLE? OHSO old and arcane! I wasn't crazy about the puns, either. I wanted to be. I wanted to like this puzzle.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

I know that "ara" is Latin for altar, but I had to Google to understand the capital letters : The Altar in 77D. It's a constellation.

Evgeny 10:46 AM  

Ha, CROATIAN was an absolute gimme, since my team (not the Steelers, not even football, well, not the same football) played Hajduk Split just this Thursday in the Europa League. And beat them 2:0, not that this is much of an accomplishment.

Thanks for the fun commentary, SethG! Love the 3 Bs bullet.

John 10:52 AM  

The puzzle took far too long for the result it produced. Sunday Puzzles are supposed to be fairly enjoyable. This one wasn't.

chefbea 11:03 AM  

Tough puzzle. DNF.

Loved OTB in england.

Thanks for the write up Seth G but what's with the BEETS or was that just for me???

dogbreath 11:04 AM  

Bah, typical BEQ tugfest. DNF and did not care.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

3D BEETS????? I have McBeal which fits much better, don't you think?
And the 3B's are Bach, Beethoven and Brahms in my high school music class :)

RanMan 11:37 AM  

Agree wholeheartedly with John and dogbreath.

Frank O'Harris or Franco Harris or Frank O. Harris? 11:38 AM  

Didn't do the puzzle, thought the write-up was funny as hell, and was seriously creeped out by the Myron Cope video. Sorry, Seth, but that dude has a real creepy voice and a face made for radio.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Alas, poor BEQ, I knew him, Horatio. What happened to the Quigley we all know and love? Way too many proper nouns.

On to Cox and Rathvon (Sat WSJ) and the acrostic (double-dip?) for some much needed comfort food.

Golfballman 12:04 PM  

I agree with @ Shannon lousy puzzle. Still haven't heard from anyone about how you milk a sheep.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

Dude. You ever eat Ricotta? Pecorino Romano? Feta?

Norm 12:08 PM  

Guess I liked this one more than most, but, then again, I am a fan of puns. Yeah, a couple of them were weak (e.g., STAKEPLATTER) and some of the cluing was borderline unfair ("Split personality?" Give me a break) -- but the toughies were inferable from the crosses and I got enough enjoyment out of the puzzle to make the solve worthwhile.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

After SHATNERESQUE anything is a letdown.

jae 12:36 PM  

I agree with shannon, twangster, John, and dogbreath. Not up to BEQ standards.

Big Abner 1:00 PM  

You milk a sheep the same way you milk anything else: You grab a tit and pull.

Here's a word from our sponsor:

Carnation Milk is best in the land
Here I sit with a can in my hand
No tits to pull, no hay to pitch
You just punch a hole in the son of a bitch.

David L 1:17 PM  

Oh man, it's bad enough that I have to deal with Reagle's dreadful puns in the Sunday WaPo mag, but now the normally estimable Quigley is going down that road. Don't do it! Save yourself! More to the point, save us from more of these horrors and stick to what you're good at, Mr Q.

Also, I would say that THATCH is not a typical roofing material for a bungalow. A cottage, yes, but bungalows, at least in the English context (and where else are you going to see a lot of thatch?) are an early 20th C thing, for the most part, and generally roofed with ceramic tiles.

Mel Ott 1:18 PM  

I'm not crazy about puns in xword puzzles, but I tolerate them. Not so with crossing obscure, oddball (to me) brand names with show biz names with idiosyncratic spellings. SUZANE is at least as plausible as SUEANE and who knows about TREO vs. TRZO as a brand name? That Natick did me in.

JaxInL.A. 1:39 PM  

Phew! Not fun. I crashed and burned despite keeping at it until all squares were filled in. @SethG's write-up helped to ease the pain, though. And I have been able to see the videos fine on the iPad for the past few days, so if you did something differently, it works. Thanks!

Can someone please explain "8-point X" = TILE?

And surely NTUPLE can't be a term any self-respecting mathematician would actually use?

@Anonymous 10:46, Thanks very much for providing the info on ARA. I, too, found the capitals in the clue very confusing.

My downfall was having Aport for what should have been ABEAM, then ditching that due to the crosses, finally deciding to go with ABEAu because at least eau is water and AB can mean "from" in Latin. Having spent much of my young life in theater you would think that the crucial cross of COMP would come easily but I made a twisted argument for counting COuP as giving for free what could have been a fatal blow. Sigh. Too much over thinking, not enough fun today.

Hasbro 1:43 PM  

Re: 8-point X. Think Scrabble.

S. Wolfram 1:50 PM  

Re: N-tuple. Yes. It can.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a term any self-respecting crossword constructor would actually use.

Unknown 1:56 PM  


Thought I heard this before 2:04 PM  

SNL - Peyton Manning - Locker Room.

Music cues in at 2:40

Suspicious 2:36 PM  

Re: SNL video. Is it just me, or does Will Forte with a mustache look a lot like another Will with a mustache? Has anyone ever seen the two of them together? Has anyone ever seen Will Shortz dance?

Falconer 3:28 PM  

I like puns but many of these were laaaame. Craps Suzette? Really? Sorry BEQ that is stupid. likewise ''Slots of Luck" However I did like "Dont Roulette Out" and "Keno Speaker."

The best were nice uses of the phonic sense of punning as opposed to something truly literal.

Was expecting to see something like "JackBlackJack" clued as something like ''Tenacious card player?''

Great fill or clue: Riant, Croatian, and Pan-Arab, YouToo, Thee. Bad: Adeni, Arg., Tut, Ntuple.

Points off for OTB, which is not really a casino game though many casinos do have off track betting.

edmcan 3:50 PM  

I'm disappointed that I didn't like this puzzle. Usually like BEQ, but not today. Obscure and bizarre cluing and puns. DNF also. :-(

chefbea 3:50 PM  

No one has explained BEETS please!!!

fikink 3:52 PM  

@BEQ, FIL and I just completed it - Took us through brunch and into dinner prep. Lost it on mathematical sequence. FIL wiped his brow and had me print him out some Wednesdays. We are back on June 21, 2000.
Good stuff, Buddy!
@Seth, wonderful puzzle review. Thanks for the Split info. FIL and I thot it had something to do with Croatia being always in the mix. He just beamed when I told him Split was a city in Croatia.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Can't take points off for OTB. It was SethG's concept that the theme was Casino game puns. Could be Gambling puns just as easily. Puzzle title was Risky business, which describes OTB just fine. Agreed that the puzzle was mostly a clunker though.

chefwen 4:02 PM  

I guess I am in the minority on this one, I absolutely loved it. Usually I dread a BEQ puzzle and audibly groaned when I saw the constructor, but after getting into it, not without a struggle, I laughed out loud when every pun fell in place; with the exception of STAKE PLATTER, that didn't work with the pot cluing.
CROATIAN was not a problem, I've been to Split, it's beautiful.

Thanks Brendan, husband and I tackled this together making for a fun Saturday evening.

ArtLvr 4:09 PM  

Super spicy Sunday for punny puzzles, perfect for people like me who enjoy even poor-ish puns! The BEQ theme of risky business worked out very well, but I think Merl’s PI takes the prize, because of all the drama links plus clever word play. And the neat twists to the Latin tags in the BG ring up a close second, fabulous, so the NYT came in third today in my book...

All were more fun than the usually interminable Sunday themeless slogs, so many thanks to all the clever constructors from a very happy camper!


Unknown 4:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 4:18 PM  

Beets is a red herring(vegetable in this case)it is mcbeal

Sparky 4:51 PM  

@Anon 10:46. ARA is crosswordese. Just memorize it as it will come up again. DNF: worked on it since last evening and finally gave up. I sometimes have a tin ear with puns so had traouble winkling these out. A PLATTER is not a pot. But chips are a STAKE. Was looknig for ante. @DavidL: Rockaway Beach, Queens, bungalows of old had asphalt shingle roofs. Thatch would be very gentrified posh for those humble cabins. The Pete Seeger concert was very sweet. Theodore Bikel was there too and we all sang for world peace. Thanks BEQ, it's always a challenge. Thanks SethG but I don't get the BEETS thing either. TaTa, ciao, adios.

mac 5:23 PM  

I'm completely with ChefWen, I liked this one after overcoming my fear for the byline. Got the theme very quickly with Hold'em Caulfield, and only disliked slots of luck.

I missed one letter: the E in Sueane, what's wrong with those parents? I figured the N for ntuple, it made sense. Knew about Split, so that actually is my favorite clue. Rondelet is my word of the day.

Shinny up? Always thought it was shimmy, but I guess. Also, wanted Edgar for Agatha.

Liked it! Thanks for the fun write-up, SethG.

r.alphbunker 5:46 PM  

I liked it. I did the puzzle after reading David Quarfoot's article on crossword puzzle construction in Esopus and was tuned into the freshness of the fill. I also thought the puns were pretty good except for "stake platter". Is a platter a bowl?

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

I believe stake platter is the platter of winning chips or money the nice young lady delivers to the winner at the poker table in high stakes games (as viewed on TV at times).

I saw this as merely puns using gambling terms (rather than strictly casino terms, which OTB is not), so Bacarrat (as played by James Bond)is also included in that as a gambling game -- or risky business. Challenging but fun insofar as the puns with gambling terminology is concerned....

Rube 7:49 PM  

I agree with shannon, twangster, John, dogbreath, and edmcan. Not up to BEQ standards. Too much obscure pop culture. Had to Google to finish.


mmorgan 8:30 PM  

@Mac - SLOTSOFLUCK was the first one I got, and I liked it a lot!

Totally agree with you on SHIMMY.

Still wanted TEXAS HOLDEN.

Glitch 9:29 PM  

@mac @mmorgan

Nope, shimmy is just wrong.

Definitions of Shinny on the Web:

•clamber: climb awkwardly, as if by scrambling

Definitions of SHIMMY on the Web:

•an abnormal wobble in a motor vehicle (especially in the front wheels); "he could feel the shimmy in the steering wheel"
•tremble or shake; "His voice wobbled with restrained emotion"
•chemise: a woman's sleeveless undergarment
•dance a shimmy
•lively dancing (usually to ragtime music) with much shaking of the shoulders and hips

... and don't forget "I wish I could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate"


michael 12:52 AM  

Just wanted to say that I liked this a lot and thought it was good even by BEQ standards. A matter of opinion, I guess, depending in part on how you feel about puns. And I'm no better than average on pop culture...

JaxInL.A. 1:55 AM  

@S. Wolfram and @Hasbro
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And to everyone else who bothers to answer the stuff that is obvious to you and WTF to someone else.

nurturing 4:56 AM  

I remember Sueane Langdon. She popped up in most TV shows back in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

A platter is a large plate, usually oval in shape, with or without a slightly raised edge. In no stretch of the imagination can it be a pot.

What's wrong with 'Split personality'? I think it's a great clue!

'Eres tu' brings back memories!

Challenging puzzle, indeed.

Dave in Seattle 7:40 PM  

Lets get some syndication action going on this blog! Just gave up on my beloved Seahawks as they are getting pasted by the Raiders. This was definitely a medium-challenging/challenging for me, finished this in well over an hour, figuring out the the puns was just a slog even though I got the theme fairly quickly, there was just too much weirdness in this puzzle, sorry BEQ. I do have to agree that the Split personality, Croatian combo was brilliant once I remembered that Split is an actual city.

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

stayed with Sucre for some time, corrupting ranees into renees and Caulfield into Crulfield. Learned how far above sea level are parts of Yemen. Also went online to google clues more than ever. Is that fair play?

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

I have even been to Split (Croatia) and recommend it highly, but most clues in this puzzle left me cold; the aha experience was missing when I looked up some answers. Not a fun one!

Kimetha 11:22 PM  

stake = pot not a cooking pot

So many googles, so little time. Liked the puns anyway. Got Holdem/Holden right away and ran with it.

Anonymous 10:21 PM  

Three B's are Bach, Brahms and Beethoven.

Don't Roulette Out is a play on the gambling term to "crap out" i.e. to lose big time (at the craps table). "I crapped out," said Meyer Lanksy as The Riviera, his brand new flagship hotel/casino in Havana was taken over by the Revolutionary government.

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