SATURDAY, April 11, 2009 — Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily

Theme: None

Hey everyone, it's a double dose of PuzzleGirl today if you read Rex's blog too. Hope you don't get too sick of me. Awesome looking grid today, right? Looks like some kind of alien head in a cartoon or a video game or something. Awesome long answers today.

The 15s:
  • 1A: Jealous reaction to a witty remark (I WISH I'D SAID THAT).
  • 16A: Broad-based statistical standard (NATIONAL AVERAGE).
  • 17A: "The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches" and others (CAUTIONARY TALES).
  • 24A: Sousa subject (STARS AND STRIPES).
  • 44A: Headed for home (ROUNDED THE BASES).
  • 59A: Tried to escape (MADE A BREAK FOR IT).
  • 62A: FDR's Fala, e.g. (ABERDEEN TERRIER).
  • 63A: Didn't just dive in (TESTED THE WATERS).
Crosswordese 101: Let's run through the federal government agencies that are common in CrossWorld, shall we? Today we have the [Wall St. watchdog] SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). SEC is sometimes clued as a short form of the word second (e.g., ["Hold on a _____"]), but if the clue points to anything about "monitoring," "protecting" or serving as a "watchdog" for "Wall Street," "investors," or "stock," you're looking at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Remember, also, that the clue will always indicate in some way that the answer is going to be an abbreviation. In today's clue, the word Street is abbreviated St. Other clues for SEC might use the abbreviation Fed. (Federal) or org. (organization). Other common governmental agencies include OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), which might also be clued with a word like watchdog or monitor, but will refer to the "Department of Labor," "employees," or "the workplace." The GAO (Government Accountability Office) is the investigative arm of Congress charged with examining matters relating to the receipt and payment of public funds. It will most likely be clued with reference to an "audit," "claim settlement," or "budget." It's also good to remember that GAO is headed by the Comptroller General of the United States, as it's sometimes clued that way. What's the other agency that I always get mixed up with GAO? Oh yeah, GSA (General Services Administration). They're sort of the Facilities Department of the government. They deal with real estate issues and things like equipment, supplies, and telecommunications for government organizations and the military. That's definitely an oversimplification, but the important thing to remember is that GSA will be clued in relation to "buildings," "property," or "purchasing/procurement."

Other crossworthy government agencies:
  • EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
  • SSA: Social Security Administration
  • NSA: National Security Agency
  • NEA: National Endowment for the Arts (although sometimes it's the National Education Association)
I'll admit when I looked at this grid I panicked a little. I always do when I see a bunch of 15s stacked up like that. Thank goodness for three gimmes right down the center of the first triple stack: 7D: Comic Carvey (DANA); 8D: Poetry-reading competition (SLAM); and 9D: Group that grows as boomers grow (AARP). It's hard for me not to see the phrase poetry slam without thinking about Mike Myers in "So I Married an Axe Murderer." But, I'm going to be a little edgier today and give you this instead (language warning!! left-leaning politics warning!! don't watch this if you're offended by the f-word!!):

It also helps to have a little foreign language under your belt today:
  • 36A: Overseas okay (OUI): You all know that means yes.
  • 25D: Abril-mayo zodiac sign (TAURO): Abril = April, mayo = May (in Spanish, names of months aren't capitalized), Tauro = Taurus.
  • 26D: "Farewell, Fran├žois!" (ADIEU): See how the French name is in the clue hinting to the French answer?
  • 56D: __-dieu (PRIE): Had to look this one up. It's a type of prayer desk. The French means, literally, "pray [to] God."
What else?
  • 27D: U.S.-Canada defense acronym (NORAD). North American Aerospace Defense Command. They're the ones who track Santa at Christmas time. I'm sure they do other stuff too.
  • 37A: Sheepdog in "Babe" (REX). Shout-out to Mr. Parker! Right in the middle of the damn puzzle. Awesome.
  • 38A: Cleo portrayer of 1963 (LIZ). That's Elizabeth Taylor. I'm sure I don't need to point this out to you, but the clue shortens Cleopatra's name, which hints that the answer will also be the short form of a name.
  • 39A: Its parts may be eaten separately (OREO). Don't think I've seen this particular clue for this extremely common crossword word before.
  • 49A: Ones wanted by the mil. (AWOLS). It used to really rub me the wrong way when AWOL was used as a noun. But I'm used to it now.
  • 2D: WWII female (WAAC). Well this is interesting. I always thought the acronym was just WAC (without one A). Turns out, according to Wikipedia, the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WACC) was created in 1942 but converted to full status as the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in 1943. Regardless of what it means, it always reminds me of this song (if you don't know the song, you won't know what I mean until about 1:43):

  • 4D: Jobs for teens (SITTERS). Does this work for you? I think the job is sitting. The job title is sitter. Am I being too picky?
  • 6D: Theban queen of myth (INO). Never heard of her. This is Greek mythology and she was ... not a very nice woman.
  • 10D: Brown, but not white? (IVY). Brown University.
  • 22D: Bucky of "Get Fuzzy," for one (CAT). What the heck is "Get Fuzzy"? Oh, it's a comic strip. There's advertising executive Rob Wilco and his two pets: Satchel Pooch and Bucky Katt.
  • 50D: "Did gyre and gimble in the __": "Jabberwocky" (WABE). This is a poem of nonsense verse by Lewis Carroll. Okay, look. I know he was brilliant with the wordplay. But the whole thing with the little girls? I'm sorry, he just creeps me out.
  • 53D: Phnom __ (PENH). The capital of Cambodia.
I heard from Orange tonight that she's back home — yay! So you'll hear from both of us tomorrow, one for each of the Sunday puzzles. See you then....

Love, PuzzleGirl

Everything Else — 18A: Shoppers' savings?: Abbr. (RCPTS); 19A: Roadie's burden (AMP); 20A: Unique folks (ONERS); 21A: More of the same, briefly (ETC); 23A: Ger. neighbor (AUS); 33A: Paw parts (PADS); 34A: Namely (TOWIT); 35A: Meter site (TAXI); 41A: Flavors, in a way (SALTS); 43A: Starlet's goal (ROLE); 47A: 1946-'75 nuclear agcy. (AEC); 48A: Marker's end (TIP); 52A: 120/70, 130/80, etc.: Abbr. (BPS); 55A: Dr. visits (APPTS); 1D: Rise: Abbr. (INCR); 3D: Words after live or give (ITUP); 5D: Derricks and cranes (HOISTS); 11D: Roundabout route (DETOUR); 12D: What mailed packages are in? (TRANSIT); 13D: Healthy (HALE); 14D: Golden __ (AGER); 15D: Polanski film based on a Hardy novel (TESS); 23D: Verizon rival, initially (ATT); 24D: Hound's find (SPOOR); 28D: Lived (DWELT); 29D: Like Friday or June (SIXTH); 30D: California's __ Verdes Peninsula (PALOS); 31D: Dictator's fate, perhaps (EXILE); 32D: Label data (SIZES); 40D: Vigilant (ONALERT); 42D: Seinfeld's apartment, say (SET); 43D: Camaraderie (RAPPORT); 45D: Marquis of note (DESADE); 46D: Former African secessionist state (BIAFRA); 49D: Latin 101 word (AMAT); 51D: Praiseful verses (ODES); 52D: Writer Harte (BRET); 54D: Fill to the bursting point (SATE); 57D: Large cake layer (TIER); 58D: Narrow waterways: Abbr. (STRS); 60D: Where Goldilocks was discovered (BED); 61D: Royal Botanic Gardens locale (KEW).


imsdave said...

Wall St. watchdog? I just couldn't get NONE to fit...

John said...

I think SEC stands for Suspect Economic Control! I had AIERDALETERRIER, never got to fix it because my computer crashed. Oh well!

Crockett1947 said...

Thanks for the write-up, PG. What's the "white" on the end of the IVY clue? I don't get the pairing of a university and a color.

Karen said...

Any good mnemonics for clearing up GSA and GAO? I get those mixed up too. As well as NSA and NSC.

Yes, you're being too picky about SITTER.

imsdave, LOL.

I thought this puzzle was rather easy for a Saturday. When I see those long acrosses, I just head over to the down clues. I got ten of them down right away, and eight of those were correct!

I knew WAAC in part from reading the biography of Alice Sheldon (aka James Tiptree Jr). She was both a WAAC and a WAC.

Orange said...

I'm with PuzzleGirl—the teens are SITTERS, the job is SITTING.

Karen, I have no mnemonic for GAO and GSA. Absorbing PuzzleGirl's descriptions is the best we have to offer. As for NSA and NSC...I often wait for the crossing to figure out the third letter.

Crockett, towards the end of the week in the L.A. Times and N.Y. Times crosswords, you'll see more clues that rely on that initial capital letter to mislead solvers. Is the first word the color "brown," capitalized only because it's at the beginning of the clue? Or is it "Brown," the school? [People person] is another clue like that—a person who works at People magazine is an EDITOR. A Saturday NYT once clued DORP (an uncommon word meaning "village") with [Hamlet]—big-H Hamlet is a DANE, while little-h hamlet is a village or DORP. I'll bet most solvers had DANE there and got tangled up in knots as a result of the capital-letter mystery.

chefbea said...

very easy saturday puzzle

I use to own the Pettibone copy of the Jasper John's painting "three flags"

alanrichard said...

I've ben doing the LA Times since last Tuesday. These are quite a few notches easier than the NY Times but its still fun to do the puzzle. The clues are just not as tricky or clever or misdirectional as the NY Times.

Anonymous said...

Something that Theban Queen...
Click on the linktheban queen of myth

Joon said...

yeah. [Some working teens] would have been a more accurate clue.

i tanked GSA in an ACPT puzzle this year. it hurt badly enough that i won't get it wrong again. i usually don't confuse NSA with NSC; the NSC is a group of the president's top defense advisers (VP, secstate, secdef, chairman of the joint chiefs, etc.), whereas the NSA is a hush-hush shadow organization.

obertb said...

On sitter/sitting: gotta agree w/PG and Orange. Sitter is the person, sitting is the job.

Easier than the NYT puzzle today, but I guess that's the way it's going to be for a while. Still, enjoyable puzzle, no googles.

Bill from NJ said...

You'd think by now I wouldn't panic every time I see triple stacks, but no . . .

Like others, I went straight for the short downs, got 5 or 6 of them straight away, saw 2 of the long entries and was on the go.

I didn't think there was much snap to the fill. sort of did this one on auto-pilot.

Couple three steps removed from the Saturday NYT in difficulty but, all in all, a reasonably enjoyable solve.

Dan said...

LOL @ imsdave.

Dan said...

(Hi, Other Dan!)

How's this for a mindblowing coincidence. The SLAM poet in the video (author of "Damn You, Barack Obama, You Pretty Motherf***er", in case anyone didn't click), Darian Dauchan? He and I co-starred in a teen production of Two Gentlemen of Verona (the 1971 musical version from the composer of Hair) in summer 1995. I played Proteus, and Darian was Valentine... I think there's even Facebook video to prove it.

(Dan F)

edith b said...

When I was about 10 years old, my grandmother gave me a beautifully illustrated group of stories done in rhyme called Der Struwwelpeter, variously translated as Shock- haired Peter or Shaggy Peter.

These stories were tales of children who misbehaved and disasterous consequences ensued. The story "The Deadful Story of Pauline and the Matches" told the story of a young girl who played with matches, caught fire and burned to death, told from the point of view of two kittens who were left home with her. Another called "The Story of Little-Suck-A-Thumb" tells of a boy who was warned not to suck his thumb and when he continued doing so after his mother went out, a tailor came by with giant scissors and cut off his thumbs.

You get the picture. It seems like an odd gift to received from a grandmother and, of course, it was but it was so beautifully illustrated and probably no better or worse than traditional fairy tales. It was written in the mid 19th Century by Heinrich Hoffmann.

I still have my copy but passed on giving it to my daughter. CAUTIONARYTALES? You betcha.

embien said...

Thanks, PG, for the Cheap Trick. That Robin Zander sure can wear him some pants, can't he? Haven't seen anything like that since the movie Music & Lyrics with Hugh Grant! Pop Goes My Heart

Oh, the puzzle? I loved it. Folks on the other blog are getting all het up about the difficulty (after the TMS puzzles of our past), since they can't look up those 15's in the dictionary or Google (hard to look up a multiword phrase).

For me: I love those stacked 15's since they almost always turn out to be phrases that are waaaay in the language and easily gotten after you fill in a few of the downs.

I can't be too smug since Friday's puzzle left me bruised, bloody and confused and I gave up after 48 minutes.

*David* said...

Liked the stacking but the puzzle was a bit ho-hum for me. Favirite clues, Friday or June for SIXTH and Brown but not white for IVY. The second time in a week that I've seen that well-known AEC nuclear agency.