Ill-fated ship of film / WED 10-27-10 / 1920s chief justice / 1955 novel made into 1962 1997 films / QB's utterance

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Constructor: Jay Kaskel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: COUNT DRACULA — four answers have a draculicious sound to them (clued with four "?"-style clues)

Word of the Day: "The POSEIDON Adventure" (9D: Ill-fated ship of film) —

The Poseidon Adventure is a 1972 American action-adventure disaster film based on the novel of the same name by Paul Gallico. It concerns the capsizing of a luxurious ocean liner by a tsunami caused by an under sea earthquake and the desperate struggles of a handful of survivors to journey up to the bottom of the hull of the liner before it sinks. // It won the Academy Award for Best Song for "The Song from 'The Poseidon Adventure'" (also known as "The Morning After"), which became a hit single for Maureen McGovern, as well as winning an Academy Award for Special Achievement in Visual Effects. Shelley Winters was also nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a film for the role. The cast of the film includes five past Academy Award winners - Winters, Gene Hackman, Jack Albertson, Red Buttons and Ernest Borgnine - as well as numerous Academy Award-winning off-screen artists and technicians such as the film's composer John Williams, screenwriter Stirling Silliphant and editor Harold F. Kress, to name just a few. Parts of the movie were filmed aboard the RMS Queen Mary. (wikipedia)

[Wow, this song is Horrible]

• • •

Cute theme, interesting grid, not an obscurity in sight (with nifty little bonus theme answers in FANG62A: Part of a vampire — and GORIER34A: Displaying more violence). Tough getting started as the theme answers and theme-revealer are mutually referential (thus offering no initial help), but once I shoved REALITY BITES into place (square by square), and BLOOD showed up in the next theme answer, I had a good idea what I was dealing with. Still, struggled briefly in the NE (never saw "The POSEIDON Adventure," so that ship was Nowhere on my radar), and also briefly in the NW (tried NO DICE, NO SALE, and NO SOAP (!?!?) before NO DEAL (2D: "Sorry, Charlie")). But I absolutely killed the bottom half of the puzzle and ended up with a fairly normal Wednesday time in the end.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Comment on life by 52-Across? ("REALITY BITES")
  • 28A: Deposit and withdrawal site for 52-Across? (BLOOD BANK)
  • 43A: Crib plaything for a young 52-Across? (BAT MOBILE)
  • 35A: Result of an encounter with 52-Across? (PAIN IN THE NECK)

I GUESS (46D: "Um ... OK.") you could consider ATHROB a nod to the horror theme (1D: Like the heart during a horror movie). Ditto HEROINE, as clued (49A: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, e.g.). Not a bad little Halloween-week puzzle, all in all.

  • 16A: Makes less than a killing (DOES OK) — "a killing" is not on any scale that I'm aware of, making "less than" an odd direction.
  • 60A: Frozen water, to Wilhelm (EIS) — Also, to Werner. And Waldheim. And presumably all Germans, whether their names begin with "W" or not.
  • 39D: QB's utterance (HUT) — this may be the first time anyone's ever used "QB" and "utterance" in the same phrase. Fine word, but not a sports word. "Whilst we were in the huddle, Brett Favre once quipped..." Um, no.
  • 47D: 1955 novel that was made into 1962 and 1997 films ("LOLITA") — teaching this in my 1950s Crime Fiction course this term. Movie-wise, I highly recommend the 1962 film [two Shelley Winters films in one puzzle!] and highly recommend that you avoid the horrid, humorless 1997 adaptation at all costs.
  • 53D: 1920s chief justice (TAFT) — in four letters, I knew it was him, but I forgot that he was chief justice well *after* he was president. TAFT is from Ohio. Crosswords will ask you to know this at some point. Trust me.
  • 54D: Subject of the book "Six Armies in Normandy" (D-DAY) — second "D" was the very last letter I filled in. Before I read the cross clue, the only answer that was popping into my head was DRAY...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. "Puzzling Future" — article on crosswords featuring interviews with me and other Pomona College students/alums — is now online here.


Anonymous 12:35 AM  

Great Wednesday puzzle! Delicious, like an ORANGE popsicle....

adonai carla michaels 1:05 AM  

Fun fun fun! Perfect Wed before Halloween!
Was caught a bit off guard by BATMOBILE...seemed extra original :)

only BLIP was NO Dice for me too.
Loved NO just wasn't right!

May I GUESS that ADONAI crossing with old fashioned EDO may have bit a bump for some newer solvers...

Yay Jay! EPIC!

foodie 1:07 AM  

I loved it! Perfect Wednesday!

BAT MOBILE is very clever!

The whole puzzle has .... Atmosphere

chefwen 2:19 AM  

Loved the puzzle, much better and easier than yesterday.

Hand up for NO Dice. Got REALITY BITES pretty quickly and went down to 52A for the infamous COUNT, the rest was child's play for me.

Please, please, do not go to 10D for your Spot, Fido, Rex, or Buddy, go to your local shelter. Lets eliminate puppy mills NOW!!!

fikink 3:15 AM  

"'Whilst we were in the huddle, Brett Favre once quipped...' Um, no." - hahahahaha!

Right after watching the Count and the Cookie Monster.
All at 2 in the morning with Gus at my side.
Life is good.
The puzzle was dynamite! Good fill, liberally laced with vivid images of blood and GORe.
Nite, All.

Rube 4:59 AM  

This was a friday for me.

Greene 5:17 AM  

Totally ghoulish and horrorific puzzle that was all kinds of fun for a Wednesday. I must say, vampires have come a long way in the public consciousness over the last 80 years or so. Remember Nosferatu when vampires were fetid and necrotic? Now they're sleek, sexy, and ubercool. Maybe it's time to rehabilitate the status of say the succubus or the dybbuk. Just sayin'.

crosswordnovice 6:19 AM  

so glad this vampire puzzle made it without any twilight references

Also BATMOBILE made me go WTF at first but then I absolutely loved it.

Got seriously confused with Month after Nisan because my Turkish housemate loudly exclaimed that Nisan is April in Turkish and that the answer should be MART = march

Caused some serious issues - had to wait until she left for a lecture to delete it and put KIDNAP back in :D

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

Great puzzle. I had EtO instead of EDO; my only error

joho 8:12 AM  

@Rex, I think you can also add LEGEND, "Vampire story, e.g." to the dense theme answers.

This was bloody fun: loved it!

Diana Holquist 8:27 AM  


Succabus Heat is a huge title in young adult.

For the adult taste, Jill Myles is the succubi (?) queen.

I could go on and on....but I'll spare y'all. Loved the puzzle. Topical and fun w/o yesterday's issues. Well-done.

mitchs 8:48 AM  

Loved this one. Got the theme quickly and that made answers like BATMOBILE lots of fun.

@Rex: Nice interview. I'm sure you were displaying your trademark modesty when you said that you had amassed a following from first timers who were "cheating".

It ain't the answers. It's the 'tude, humor, knowledge, style, and the always entertaining and erudite regulars.

jesser 8:56 AM  

True confessions: As a boy in elementary school, I used to race home with my buddy Stephen Matlock, and we'd plant ourselves in front of the TV to watch 'Dark Shadows.' I still have the whole set of books, and I was once starstruck when I called in a pledge to the Jerry Lewis Telethon and got to speak with Jonathan Frid, who played Barnabas Collins.

So I love all things vampire, and this puzzle made me do The Happy Dance (patent pending) right here in my office in the pre-dawn hours of a chilly New Mexico morning. I would add LOITERS to the theme density, because I remember images of Barnabas in the shadows of the arbor at Collinwood, awaiting his victim's passage.

Add to all that that I am a person of the guy persuasion, which means I find bathroom humor humorous, so TOOTLE just made me laugh out loud. No apologies. I own my guyness.

LOU Reed rocks. As does Jay Kaskel. This is shaping up to be just a fine, fine day to sleep in a casket and await the dusk!

Materv! (The word that invariably pisses off that ZZZ person from yesterday) -- jesser

The Big E 9:03 AM  

@Rex - a QB may not utter "hut" in the huddle, but at the line when he is ready to snap the ball, it can be a part of many (not all) QBs snap counts, and is often used in films as the standard for what is said - "hut one... hut two... hut... hut... hike!"
Also, why does a killing have to be on a scale? I think of it in terms of "I made a killing on the market this week" vs. "I did ok" as the stereotype for brokers goes...

Loved the puzzle, too! But the SW killed me (no pun intended), and took me way longer than it should have. Did not like "Tootle" - even when I looked it up, its main definition is as a verb (2nd definition, not always) is as a noun. just seemed forced.

Happy Puzzling!

The Big E 9:03 AM  

@Rex - a QB may not utter "hut" in the huddle, but at the line when he is ready to snap the ball, it can be a part of many (not all) QBs snap counts, and is often used in films as the standard for what is said - "hut one... hut two... hut... hut... hike!"
Also, why does a killing have to be on a scale? I think of it in terms of "I made a killing on the market this week" vs. "I did ok" as the stereotype for brokers goes...

Loved the puzzle, too! But the SW killed me (no pun intended), and took me way longer than it should have. Did not like "Tootle" - even when I looked it up, its main definition is as a verb (2nd definition, not always) is as a noun. just seemed forced.

Happy Puzzling!

efrex 9:38 AM  

Highly enjoyable. One of my quickest Wednesdays ever, which I never would've predicted after my weak initial run-through (thanks to all the inter-related theme answers). Yeshiva background paid off for ADONAI and ADAR. Only boo-boo: initially misspelled KOLA as COLA, giving me IN CASH for 4D, and messing up the north part of the grid for a bit.

RIGOR and KIDNAP could also be seen as bonus theme clues.

Arby 9:39 AM  

ADONAI was a BIG obscurity for me. I could only think of Yahweh, which really messed up the SW for me.

dk 9:42 AM  

Hard to B Negative with such A Positive puzzle. No real blood letting except for DOESOK which I wanted to surround with white blood cells.

Went to Hamline U and we were the Pied Pipers. I was always looking for a few rats to TOOTLE too.

True confession: I wanted Shelly Winters' character to die much sooner than it did.

*** (3 Stars) Thank you Jay

Do you know why ghosts can't have babies?

Hollow weenies!

Paul Gallico 9:44 AM  

Of course the POSEIDON isn't on your radar, it sank. You'd need sonar to locate it.

Humbert Humbert 9:50 AM  

@DK - You mean the Shelly Winters character in Lolita, or the Shelly Winters character in The Poseidon Adventure? Because I wanted the Shelly Winters character in Lolita to die almost immediately.

PuzzleNut 9:53 AM  

Good puzzle. Good write-up and comments.
My first date was at the movies where The Poseidon Adventure was playing (one theater town, one screen only). Don't remember much about the date or the movie, but learned to absolutely hate that stupid song. Can't believe it won an award!

PIX 10:14 AM  

Any puzzle with Buffy the Vampire Slayer in it is a good puzzle.

chefbea 10:27 AM  

Fun easy puzzle. Did it while sitting in the doctor's office waiting to be called in.

@Rex - I agree, nice write up

JaxInL.A. 10:37 AM  

Anyone else remember the animated Starkist commercials where (bizarrely) Charlie Tuna tried to get hooked so he could have the privilege of getting into a can? Maybe because he wears a beret and Mad Men hipster horn rim glasses which could clog the processing machine, he gets rejected as food with a note on the end of the hook that says "sorry Charlie". All of which is why I started with NOtuna for NODEAL. Only after that did I make all of the same mistakes as Rex and others here.

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

What a cool puzzle.
Lots of fun, densely themed, no crap fill.
I am not familiar with the Reality Bites reference but being hip to the theme I tried Reality Sucks for a nanosecond.
@ jesser, You got to speak with Barnabas?!? I would have swooned too.
Favorite non-theme clue/answer:

The Prez is supposed to be on The Daily Show tonight. I hope it's funny and a good move ala Clinton on SNL.

Two Ponies 10:47 AM  

Oh, a missed opportunity for more ghoulishness would have been to clue Rigor as ______ mortis.

mmorgan 10:49 AM  

Typical of the liberal pinko NYT to exploit a trendy effete current event taking place this week, while being completely one-sided in its glowing coverage of vampires. Clearly, the absence of any references to witches is a direct assault on Christine O’Donnell. If you really study this puzzle, you'll see no mention of goblins, ghouls, zombies, or so many others. It's time to Take Back the Pumpkin.

(Great puzzle, though I was briefly held up with a spelling error on POSEIDeN and having TEN for BEN at 43D.)

JaxInL.A. 10:51 AM  

@jesser, I, too, was in elementary school when Dark Shadows aired, but I wasn't supposed to watch it (or any soap opera), so I only got glimpses. As with most prohibitions, it just served to whet my appetite for vampires. I had forgotten that the home place was called Collinwood. Thank you very much for calling to mind all of those delicious stolen moments. .

I am grateful to Mr. Kaskel for an exemplary puzzle with no references to the current vampire fad stemming from poorly written books with bland characters, prosaic language, and bizarre new vampire "lore" (glitter skin?). I work with schools and kids so i had to slog through the first book but I was appalled at the sloppy craftsmanship and could not choke my way through another.

I vote for noir and sad as contributing to the puzzle atmosphere, if not actual theme answers. Hooray for this very rewarding entertainment!

dk 10:54 AM  

@HH, I have not seen Ms Winters in Lolita, but I will go out on a limb: My wish holds true for both.

Jim 11:08 AM  

Was moving right through the puzzle and even the theme (though no fan of vampires I) and then...then...the SW. TOOTLE-fucking-ooh! as Dr Melfi would put it.

The three three-letter downs were obscure enough to be of no help, so I was left with three six-letter answers with two of the last three letters filled in. NO...HELP. And NUDIE? Aargh! One letter would have maybe unlocked it, but it was not to be.

Now that I look back at it, though, outside of athrob, not that much to love. Agree it was pretty clean, but not much...bite.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:12 AM  

Good puzzle.

With JaxinL.A., I was reminded of Charlie the Tuna. I was going to say it was taking me a bit off-theme, but since Jax points out that Charlie was possibly suicidal, maybe not . . .

Van55 11:23 AM  

Great puzzle. Dense Halloween theme with very little lame fill. A plus.

John V 11:30 AM  

A great puzzle here, too. Rated a tad more difficult than usual Wednesday, for me a two seater. Theme came quickly, NE did not. DOESOK took some effort.


Susan 11:41 AM  

The Count and the Cookie Monster made my day. Thanks.

Mel Ott 11:45 AM  

A real fun puzzle. I can even overlook (well almost) the fact that for the 3rd or 4th time in the past week we had a meaningless brand name (AON) crossed by a show biz name. In this case the personality had a conventional name so I got it right.

@Rex: draculicious! What a great word! Wonder if we'll see it in a xword some day.

CaseAce 11:58 AM  

I found this puz to be particularly draining...if you get my drip?

archaeoprof 11:58 AM  

BATMOBILE was super.

@Andrea: I tried "no dice" too.

@ChefBea: hope your doc gave you a clean bill of health. In keeping with today's theme, maybe he/she drew blood??

@Two Ponies: love your suggestion for cluing RIGOR.

deerfencer 12:03 PM  

Best puzzle in months--witty, fun and intelligent, with good flow and strong theme reinforcement.

4 stars +: Thanks Jay!

Mel Ott 12:13 PM  

At the risk of being overly pedantic.....Technically speaking ADONAI is not a name for God, it is a substitute for the name of God. The name of God in the Hebrew scriptures (something like Yahweh) was (is?) considered too sacred to pronounce aloud, so when the reader came to the name of God, he/she substituted the word ADONAI, meaning lord or master, to avoid pronouncing the sacred name.

ArtLvr 12:33 PM  

@ greene: I was thinking of a Golem!

@ Two Ponies: I'd have liked RIGOR mortis too, but never mind -- it has IGOR lurking inside.

@ CaseAce: you can find your draining drip if you start with the D in DRACULA and then drop down through the adjacent RINK.

Lovely vampire-stuffed puzzle! GORIER was my favorite fill, GERM and GOO too. Wonder how NYC is dealing with its horrid bedbug infestation?


Matthew G. 12:35 PM  

Great puzzle. Loved the theme and the semi-theme answers scattered throughout. Finished with one wrong square -- like some others, I had EtO and AtONAI. I knew that Tokyo had an older name but couldn't remember it, and ADONAI was just completely new to me. I didn't know ADAR either, but the crosses came through.

@Rex: Surely you've heard someone say "made a killing" to mean "turned a gigantic profit"? I don't see anything odd about this clue.

Dan 12:53 PM  

Freaky! And a great plug for the show I'm conducting in Michigan, Dracula: A Rock Opera. That's two days in a row with themes directly ripped from my life... if Thursday's theme has to do with Broadway musicals, I'll be afraid that Will Shortz is stalking me.

The Big E 1:24 PM  

Speaking of Halloween themes, did anyone see Glee last night do their Rocky Horror tribute?
Embarrassing how they edited it. Either do Rocky Horror, or don't... but to rewrite "transexual" to be "transactional" (sectional?) is ridiculous.
Other rewrites were just as bad...

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

I thought "Mole, e.g." was a bit of an absurd clue for PLANT, but maybe I'm just not as educated about Caper Spurge as everyone else. But this was otherwise fun.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

please explain deuce follower, had it but don't get it.

jesser 2:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jesser 2:32 PM  

@anonymous 2:27: Think tennis scoring. :-)

@TwoPonies: I know! I was plum twitterpated!

Helpful and Confused 2:33 PM  

@Anon 2:27 In tennis, when the score is tied 40-40 it is called Deuce, if the server wins the next point it is Ad In. If the server looses, it is Ad Out.

Lolita as '50s crime fiction? It is the cronicle of a crime, but crime fiction? I sure hope day one of covering it is spent on the concept of an unreliable narrator.

Adinrea carla michaels 2:34 PM  

anon 2:27
AD IN is the tennis term following deuce.
I just thought of an easier clue for NO DEAL that might have led to fewer mistakes:
"Response to Howie Mandel's banker"?

Yes, and this was extra special that it did manage to avoid "Twilight" clues, that's pretty amazing in itself.

chefbea 3:24 PM  

@archaeoprof - todays appointment was the dermatologist...however - tomorrow is my yearly physical where yes they will draw blood

sanfranman59 3:31 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Wed 12:32, 11:44, 1.07, 75%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:10, 5:46, 1.07, 75%, Medium-Challenging

CaseAce 3:36 PM  

Oh you rascal, Jay Kaskel! Hallo-ween be thy name with this timely tribute, to what has to be, the most successful bit-e player in the history of all film genres.
Tootle loo

mac 5:04 PM  

What a fun puzzle! LOL at tootle. I love it when there are lots of related words hiding in the grid, and this one seems to be full of it (with a little imagination).

@Adinrea: I would have been sunk if the clues had been Twilight related.

Sfingi 6:05 PM  

Whenever I see QB, I think Queen's Bishop. I actually thought this was a puzzle with no sports.

It was a pretty neat puzzle, though, esp. the theme. I'm picturing baby vampire playing with his BATMOBILE, little fuzzy brown bats bobbing up and down.

Had Dice before DEAL, Dull before DRAB, Game before GERM, and suckS before BITES. REALITYsucks, but this puzzle does not.

@Chefwen - yes, and now you can look on line for your pet in a shelter. You can specify color, sex, fur type, age and see pictures - all within a specified distance from your home, and can drive far if you wish. We got our last at the Rome Humane Society 17 miles away.

@Jaxinla - Charlie knew only that he was invited for dinner. "The oysters were curious, too, and look what happened to them." (Lewis Carroll)

Remember, the real name of G*d cannot be spoken.

Druid Infidel 7:08 PM  

It can be spoken if you deny the notion of god.

michael 7:13 PM  

While I was doing this, I thought "this is a really good puzzle." Glad to see that I was not alone in this thought.

Chip Hilton 7:25 PM  


Otherwise, a fine Wednesday puzzle.

Clark 9:55 PM  

@Druid infidel --

But then it wouldn't be the real name of God.

sanfranman59 10:00 PM  

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 7:31, 6:57, 1.08, 81%, Challenging
Tue 9:17, 8:56, 1.04, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 12:45, 11:44, 1.09, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:42, 1.00, 51%, Medium
Tue 4:41, 4:36, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:00, 5:46, 1.04, 68%, Medium-Challenging

Let's go Gi-ants!

NotalwaysrightBill 12:42 PM  

Syndicated paper puzzler.

I feel so out of step with this one and the comments. Think I've hated vampire-theme stuff ever since I heard an ex-sister-in-law years ago just gush (go all ATHROB) about the latest George Hamilton version. The whole bloodsucker thing seems like so much SAD DRAB NOIR to me; and all I could think of while solving was of a parasitic Democratic Congress hovering over a prostrate body politic, each member with a wierd gleam in his or her eye (and reflecting off their collective eyeteeth as if one big FANG) like it was each member's personal BLOODBANK.

Plus I love the Poseidon song and I think the Count/Cookie Monster vid is DOPEY.

HUT for QB's, HUP for drill sergeants.

I know Browning's Pied Piper almost by heart and I don't believe any of those rats or kids would say he tootled to 'em.

captcha: membilla: phantom recollection of a rehabbed party animal of what once seemed a natural attachment at the other end of billa

Randy Chong 6:23 PM  

Syndicate land...
I confidently filled in oRa for the "she bear" and it took forever for me to get doeSok as a result. Didn't get the idea of batmobile as a toy until I came here. I thought it should have been clued as to what Count Dracula might drive, but bat mobile was way more clever. Also, not relating this to the current Twilight craze makes it more likely this puzzle can be enjoyed in the future when all that nonsense has been forgotten as a passing fad.

Dirigonzo 7:57 PM  

DNF, with others who have commented above, due to the "bump" so accurately foreseen by
@acm(e). Otherwise had a "bloody-good" time solving this.

I agree with @chefwen that you should avoid the PETSTORE and I'd add a plea to support your local BLOODBANK.

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

Isn't km/h the standard abbreviation for "kilometers per hour" in Europe?

WOW Gold 2:50 AM  

I confidently filled in oRa to the "she bear" also it took permanently for me to acquire doeSok getting a result.
When you felt boring or have nothing to do? What should you do to spend the free time? How about the game? like to win Tera Gold in Tera, and how to Buy RS Gold with less money, is there anyway to get the Cheap Tera Gold for us? We need to think about this.

WOW Gold 2:29 AM  

Totally ghoulish and horrorific puzzle that was all kinds of fun for a Wednesday. I must say, vampires have come a long way in the public consciousness.
When you felt boring or have nothing to do? What should you do to spend the free time? How about the game? like to win Tera Gold in Tera, and how to Buy RS Gold with less money, is there anyway to get the Cheap Tera Gold for us? We need to think about this.

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