SUNDAY, September 6, 2009 — Pancho Harrison

[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]

Theme: "Great Direction" — A puzzle memorializing director Elia Kazan on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: *1947 Tony-winning Arthur Miller play (ALL MY SONS).
  • 28A/113A: *1949 Tony-winning play starring Lee J. Cobb (DEATH OF A SALESMAN).
  • 42A/45A: *1945 film based on a Betty Smith novel (A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN).
  • 68A: *1947 Tennessee Williams play (A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE).
  • 94A: *1955 film based on a Steinbeck novel (EAST OF EDEN).
  • 97A: *1952 biopic starring Marlon Brando (VIVA ZAPATA!).
  • 123A: Born 9/7/1909, he directed the answers to starred clues (ELIA KAZAN).
Great theme and well put-together. I've heard of most (but not all) of these plays/films, but the ones that were new to me weren't difficult to piece together from the crosses. Pretty sure I guessed VIVA ZAPATA with only V?????PATA in place. I was both pleased and surprised when it turned out to be correct. I haven't seen all that many Broadway shows, but I did see "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin many years ago. Love Jessica Lange! If you ever feel like getting super depressed (!!), rent "Frances." She's amazing in it.

Crosswordese 101: If you don't know what TET is, well, it's time you learned. It's the Vietnamese New Year. It's based on the lunar calendar, though, so it takes place in late January or early February. It's often clued like it is today — 64D: Hanoi holidays — but sometimes the modifier is less specific (e.g., Vietnamese, Asian, or even just Eastern). And we can thank our lucky stars that we very rarely see it pluralized like it is today.

Crosswordese in today's puzzle that we've already covered includes À MOI (78A: Mine, in Marseille), REOS (108A: Flying Cloud et al.), ERLE (2D: First name in courtroom fiction), and TSAR (87D: Ivan IV, for one).

  • 9A: Philosopher William of __, known for his "razor" (OCCAM). I know there's a thing called Occam's Razor but I don't know exactly what it is.
  • 21A: "Moi?" ("WHO ME?"). Has to be said with the right inflection of course. I didn't notice until I started on this write-up that moi also appears in an answer (78A: Mine, in Marseille (À MOI)).
  • 27A: Pinocchio's creator (GEPPETTO). Had a leetle trouble with the spelling here.
  • 30A: Cartoonist Keane (BIL). Bil, Ric Ocasek, and Nicolas Cage are founders of the "Famous People Missing a Letter Club."
  • 58A: "__-haw!" (YEE). I always think this is going to be hee, and it almost never is.
  • 67A: Head, in slang (NOB). Ne-ever heard this word.
  • 81A: Disco guy on "The Simpsons" (STU). I've only seen a few episodes of "The Simpsons" over the years but I've got a pretty good handle on the characters just from doing crossword puzzles.
  • 115A: Loner (MAVERICK). Specifically, an "unbranded range animal." The word derives from Samuel A. Maverick's name. He did not brand his calves.

  • 125A: Nicholas Gage memoir (ELENI). Speaking of Nicolas Cage! Oh wait.
  • 130A: Longtime Yugoslav leader (TITO).
  • 5D: End of a journey (LAST LEG). This confused me because I could only think the end of a journey would be the destination, not the last part of it.
  • 11D: Egyptian Christian (COPT). If you say so.
  • 12D: Menotti title lad (AMAHL). From the American opera Amahl and the Night Visitors. Learned it from crosswords.
  • 34D: Pharaohs' crosses (ANKHS). Runner-up for today's Crosswordese 101 lesson. It's a hieroglyphic character that means "eternal life."
  • 43D: Diamond flaw? (ERROR). Baseball!
  • 49D: Téa of "Spanglish" (LEONI). I have something I want to say about her, but I'm not sure it's okay.
  • 70D: Un + deux (TROIS). French!
  • 82D: Record, nowadays (TIVO). I love TiVo! I miss my TiVo! When we moved to Virginia, we signed up with Verizon Fios and started using their far inferior DVRs. Next time we move I think I'll try to get TiVo back.
  • 89D: Snap (GO POSTAL). The Cruciverb data base only has this phrase listed three times as an answer. I was pretty sure I'd never seen it before. I like it.
  • 96D: 11th century conquerors (NORMANS). Also a boy I dated in high school and his brothers. You probably won't see them in a puzzle any time soon though.
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Everything Else — 1A: Anabaptists, e.g. (SECT); 5A: "Auld __ Syne" (LANG); 14A: Name on a WWII bomber (ENOLA); 19A: Faithful (TRUE); 20A: Inter __: among others (ALIA); 22A: Warning wail (SIREN); 25A: Go after, puppy-style (NIP AT); 26A: Static problem (CLING); 31A: Nocturnal hunter (OWL); 32A: Unicorn feature (HORN); 33A: Alsace-__: French region (LORRAINE); 35A: Sta-__: fabric softener (PUF); 38A: Use up (EXHAUST); 41A: Car starter: Abbr. (IGN.); 52A: Memorize (LEARN); 53A: Crooked (ASKEW); 55A: In the style of (À LA); 56A: "Of __ Sing" (THEE I); 57A: Boot add-ons (SPURS); 59A: Ivy League city (ITHACA); 62A: Only okay (SO-SO); 63A: So yesterday (OUT); 65A: German pastries (STRUDELS); 75A: Patriotic women's org. (DAR); 76A: Rats (STOOLIES); 77A: Pantry concern (ANT); 80A: Emphasize (STRESS); 84A: Nine Inch Nails founder Reznor (TRENT); 88A: Auctioneer's word (GOING); 90A: Layer (HEN); 91A: Greeted and seated (SAW IN); 93A: Shankar's repertoire (RAGAS); 99A: Unlock, poetically (OPE); 100A: "Yikes!" ("OMIGOSH!"); 102A: Berlin article (DER); 103A: Sinuous comics villain (CATWOMAN); 109A: Former comm. giant (ITT); 112A: Sharing word (OUR); 120A: Lyric poet (ODIST); 122A: Praiseful hymn (PAEAN); 124A: Sign with scales (LIBRA); 126A: Artistic Chinese dynasty (MING); 127A: Old king of rhyme (COLE); 128A: Filch (STEAL); 129A: Pick up on (SENSE); 131A: Goofing off (IDLE); 1D: Doe's beau (STAG); 3D: Cosby's "I Spy" costar (CULP); 4D: Largo, e.g. (TEMPO); 6D: Scads (A LOT); 7D: Bolivian boy (NIÑO); 8D: Lot of fun, slangily (GAS); 9D: Sports negotiations side (OWNERS); 10D: Tuscan red (CHIANTI); 13D: "Ditto" ("ME TOO"); 14D: Snail on la carte (ESCARGOT); 15D: Nada (NIL); 16D: African grassland grazer (ORIBI); 17D: Red Square honoree (LENIN); 18D: Reporter's slant (ANGLE); 24D: Bow wood (YEW); 28D: Throw water on (DOUSE); 29D: Cold, to Carlos (FRÍO); 32D: "Training Day" actor Ethan (HAWKE); 35D: They hang together (PALS); 36D: Lone Star State sch. (UTEP); 37D: Haus wife (FRAU); 39D: It precedes Yankee in the phonetic alphabet (X-RAY); 40D: Hornswoggle (HOSE); 44D: Comes afterward (ENSUES); 46D: Book before Habakkuk (NAHUM); 47D: Cutting edge (BLADE); 48D: Sped (RACED); 50D: "__ no?" (YES OR); 51D: "Like __, all tears ...": Hamlet (NIOBE); 54D: Courtroom expert, often (WITNESS); 60D: Singer's syllables (TRAS); 61D: "M*A*S*H" star (ALDA); 65D: Hindu honorifics (SRIS); 66D: Nissan compact (SENTRA); 68D: Saw (ADAGE); 69D: Pago Pago's nation (SAMOA); 71D: "Takin' It __ Streets": Doobie Brothers hit (TO THE); 72D: Cut out the middle of (CORED); 73D: Coeur d'__, Idaho (ALENE); 74D: Guitar attachment (STRAP); 79D: Being hauled (IN TOW); 81D: Sips' opposites (SWIGS); 83D: Some, in Seville (UNAS); 85D: "Zounds!" ("EGAD!"); 86D: Basketball Hall of Famer Archibald (NATE); 92D: Orly lander (AVION); 95D: Disaster relief org. (FEMA); 98D: Title hero who married Tonya Gromeko (ZHIVAGO); 101D: Bad guy (MEANIE); 103D: Becomes less angry, with "off" (COOLS); 104D: Tax filer's fear (AUDIT); 105D: Navajo, e.g. (TRIBE); 106D: Suisse range (ALPES); 107D: Author Zora __ Hurston (NEALE); 110D: Shatner's "__War" (TEK); 111D: Actress Bingham or Lords (TRACI); 114D: Spotted (SEEN); 115D: Mid 11th century year (MLII); 116D: "It __ over till it's over": Berra (AIN'T); 117D: Eddie Bauer competitor (IZOD); 118D: Summon (CALL); 119D: "Trick" joint (KNEE); 121D: Sp. title (SRA.).
  • 123D: CPR pro (EMT).

    imsdave said...

    Very nice tribute to a wonderful director. What a shame about his HUAC testimony. The only black mark on an amazing career.

    ps - I miss Tetris.


    Great theme!
    With all the great ELIA KAZAN directed movies (plays), I expected lots of good clips and graphics in Puzzlegirl's writeup, but not much there, so I was a little disappointed. I'm sure the ensuing comments will be loaded with good remarks on these plays though.

    Never heard of OCCAM (9a) and Hamlet's NIOBE (51d)... would like to explore those further.

    Some good French lessons today, with "Moi" (21a), Alsace LORRAINE (33a), and AMOI (78a). Loved Puzzlegirl's writeup on MOI, and especially the Miss Piggy linkage.

    OMIGOSH, now I can't get that "Sinuous comics villian" CATWOMAN (103a)out of my mind's eye.

    Wow! I learned a new word this week (AMAHL) and got to use it again (12d). That so feels good.

    GOPOSTAL (39d) for "Snap"... sure would like to know the etymology of that phrase.

    Loved the ZAPATA/ZHIVAGO cross.

    Now for my chuckle-of-the-day:
    Sta-PUF (35a)... all I can think of is that kooky marshmallow character in the movie Ghostbusters, but, I thought that was Sta-Puft.

    It's interesting that a big news item this week was concerning the ENOLA Gay (14a). Griffin Scott, former senior evening anchor of KTVE news in West Monroe, Louisiana claims that he was fired by KTVE News for "knowing" about the "Enola Gay"... strange!!!

    Anonymous said...

    Yes, great theme today. BTW I got NOB right away. It's been around for a while. :o)

    Anonymous said...

    This is the best one yet since I have been doing your puzzles. A few words I have never heard of-Occam, Niobe,Amahl and a couple of others.I got the main clues easily.

    shrub5 said...

    I was stumped at the OCCAM/COPT intersection -- left it blank as I had no idea what to put. Another erroneous crossing for me was NOB/NIOBE: I had NOG (short for noggin?) as the slang for head. I didn't know NIOBE so I left NIOGE in after an alphabet run-through didn't produce anything recognizable.

    "DEATH OF A SALESMAN" is one of the best plays I've ever seen. Saw a terrific production of it in Ashland, Oregon many years ago. I'm positive there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

    Pleased to see the shoutout to basketball's NATE "Tiny" Archibald at 86D. In his college years, he was a standout at UTEP, also an answer in this puzzle at 36D!

    I liked HOSE for Hornswoggle and SAWIN for greeted and seated. I had GULPS before correcting to SWIGS. Oh, and STOOLIES for rats was funny!

    Greene said...

    @PG: Occam's Razor, also called the Law of Parsimony, is a scientific principle which calls for simplicity in interpreting observations. Thus, when there are several possible theories to explain a phenomenon, the simplest one is preferable, as long as it does not contradict the observed facts.

    @John'sNeverHome: The phrase GO POSTAL stems from a series of violent shootings which occurred in US Postal Service offices around the country starting in around 1983. The wiki entry indicates more than 40 people were killed in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage between 1986 and 1997. The term was apparently popularized by the 1995 movie Clueless, but I've always appreciated Newman's explanation for the phenomenon.

    @IMSDave: Agree that this was a wonderful tribute puzzle to one of our most influential American directors. I cannot think of another director who has had greater impact on American drama in the theatre than Kazan. The HUAC episode was indeed unfortunate, but it should not detract from his body of work IMO. It is my understanding that to avoid the blacklist and work in Hollywood one had to play ball with HUAC. Some have never forgiven Kazan for "naming names," but he only gave names of people already known to HUAC, which was, I suppose, one way of circumventing the problem. He never apologized, and actually defended his actions right up until his death, which made his detractors hate him even more.

    Look at this clip of Kazan receiving his honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1999. You can still see the hatred and the controversy 45 years later. Stephen Spielberg, Nick Nolte, and Ed Harris need to get over themselves and learn to separate the artist from the foibles of his personal life.

    OK, rant over.

    GLowe said...

    Interestingly, Occam didn't invent the phrase, apparently he just used it so much that it became attributed to him.

    Philosohper and monk at a time when philosophy was a very dangerous profession indeed, Occam also conluded that faith could not be validated in philosophical terms and therefore declared faith to be unimpeachable (a cool way of calling bullshit while avoiding a bonfire in your honor). Nothing new has been added to the debate since then, as far as I'm concerned.

    One literal translation of the Razor is "Don't posit plurality uneccessarily", which morphed into the 'simplest explanation' phrase we use today.

    KJGooster said...

    Nice puzzle, though it seemed awfully easy for a Sunday (other than COPT, which is totally new to me.)

    In medicine you often hear Occam's Razor restated as the adage: "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras," i.e. your patient's runny nose is probably just a cold, not a cerebrospinal fluid leak. In fact, "zebra" has become common medical jargon for an obscure diagnosis given ordinary symptoms. Always reminds me of that Brady Bunch episode where Peter thinks he's dying, but it turns out his rash is just from poison ivy -- he misdiagnoses himself because two pages of a medical encyclopedia are stuck together.

    @PG: I've said it before -- I love me some TiVo. In fact, my original Sony SVR-2000 TiVo is coming up on its 10th (!) anniversary this December. We tried the Comcast DVR for a time and hated it, so we got the Series 3 TiVo, which handles HDTV. Good news, though -- TiVo will work with Verizon Fios, though you'll have to buy your own TiVo box and you may lose some funct ionality like pay-per-view. More than worth it, though (IMHO) for the TiVo interface. There's a ton of info at the tivocommunity.com forums.

    mac said...

    Nice but a little easy puzzle which I printed out (thanks for the clip-board tip, PG). I panicked when I came to this site, I hadn't done the Merle puzzle yet!

    Pancho seems to be on a roll; his last one was received well also. My only real gripe was "tets". I had "bat woman" for a moment, which is weird because I'm more of a "cat woman". I got Occam from crosses, but copt was a gimme, as was ankh. All that stuff happens when you do enough puzzles.

    I've seen "Death of a Salesman" several times, but I remember Dustin Hoffman best, he was great in the film.

    @Greene: I thought of you when I worked on this puzzle, but it is a little more user-friendly than I expected. We don't need to be as well-informed as you.
    I'm afraid I have to disagree with you re Kazan. I find it even more ugly that he named names to save his job. Nothing philosophical about that decision.

    jeff in chicago said...

    Yeah for theater puzzles!

    @Greene: I think you can admire Kazan's work and still think him a bastard. Kazan had won two Oscars and five Tonys for his directing, and surely there was someone else worthy of a "lifetime achievement" award. I can understand someone who might think he didn't need further adulation, especially since Kazan himself had at one time joined the Communist Party. He should have been able to see the HUAC for what it was and use his power to help others. Instead, he wussed out. Many, many artists refused to testify and then went on to have great careers. Kazan should be embarrassed for what he did, yet he never apologized. Bastard.

    @PG: Go see more theater! Support your local actor! :)

    Oh...and I liked this puzzle a lot. A bit on the easy side, but my theater knowledge no doubt helped. A lot better than that other puzzle most of us probably did today!!!

    jeff in chicago said...

    @Greene: Just watched the clip you embedded. Oh the irony. Kazan thanks the Academy for their courage. Something he lacked.


    On the Waterfront was a masterpiece work of Kazan... whatever you think of him in terms of character, you can't deny his artistic talents.
    I often wondered if actress/singer Lainie Kazan was related to him.

    KarmaSartre said...

    I had two blanks: the B in NIOBE/NOB and the B in BIL/ORIBI. I should have put in B for blank.

    @PG - I hope Norman was his (their) last name.

    mac said...

    @Karma Sartre: no, their last name was George ;-).

    Greene said...

    @JeffinChicago & @Mac: I am not defending Kazan's politics. Only his artistry. He was richly deserving of his Lifetime Achievement Oscar and I wish that others in the film community could just accept that. We've had a similar discussion over at Rex about trying to separate an artist's work from his personal life. I realize not everybody is willing to do this.

    I won't go so far as to call Kazan a coward because I don't know his circumstances. It's true that he was a member of the Communist Party for a short time in the 1930s, as were a number of misguided liberals railing against a cruel economic depression. He wised up soon enough as to the true nature of Communism and left the party. To listen to his side of the story, he truly hated Communism and he thought testifying at HUAC was an act of patriotism! Again, I'm not agreeing with his decision or his interpretation of the events, I'm only trying to understand his context.

    It is true that many artists defied the blacklist and I admire their courage, but a great many never worked in film again, or at least not for many years. I think it might be a bit simplistic to suggest that Kazan only named names to "save his job." It's not like there was another place for serious film directors to work in the United States.

    Frankly, I just wish he had kept his mouth shut and gone back to work on Broadway where the blacklist was powerless, but "namers of names" were probably hated even more. I'm guessing that he, like countless other theatre directors, fell under the sway of working in Hollywood and that's where he wanted to make his mark. I'm pretty sure Jerome Robbins felt the same way and most agree that he testified before HUAC because he realized his Hollywood ambitions wouldn't stand a prayer if he defied McCarthy. Well, that and he was pretty sure he would be outed as a homosexual if he didn't play ball. God what an ugly decade that was.

    mac said...

    @Greene: Amen. It was an ugly decade.

    Jan said...

    I was delighted to see Occam's Razor mentioned - I've used it in one of my my essays: http://doiop.com/jan_occam

    So handy for critical thinking!

    Jan said...

    Here's an interesting Reo ad from a 1927 Ladies Home Journal: http://doiop.com/reo_ad

    The ad touts the car's fine performance "at the touch of a tiny shoe". I don't think that ad copy would work too well today!


    And the REO had magnificent hood ornaments---

    Jan said...

    Oh, they really are magnificent - now I want a Reo even more!


    Well if you're willing to travel to Brisbane Australia, here's a really good buy on a 1927 Flying Cloud Reo.