THURSDAY, December 17, 2009 — Samuel A. Donaldson

Theme: The President's Cabinet — Theme answers end with execute branch offices that are headed up by secretaries.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Court strategy (ZONE DEFENSE). This would be a basketball court.
  • 23A: Some contractions (FALSE LABOR). I couldn't stop thinking about grammar here, but I am definitely familiar with the false labor.
  • 36A: Mid-Atlantic nickname, with "The" (QUAKER STATE). Pennsylvania. I usually associate this phrase with motor oil.
  • 48A: Like hikers' snack food (HIGH ENERGY). Because GORPy wouldn't fit.
  • 54A: Heads of the tails of 18-, 23-, 36- and 48-Across (SECRETARIES).
Quick government quiz: Do you know who all the secretaries of these departments are? No? Well, you can learn all about them here. Good stuff.

Not a lot to say about this one. The included departments are random, but obviously you can't include all of them in the puzzle. I would have been really impressed if Sam had found a way to include "Health and Human Services" or "Housing and Urban Development" though. A little clunky fill here and there, but also a few gems. Let's take a closer look.
  • 4A: Angry trick-or-treater, perhaps (EGGER). You can tack an -ER onto a lot of words to make what Rex refers to as an "odd job." This one definitely qualifies.
  • 14A: Last half of a drink? (TAI). The last half of a "mai tai." Some friends and I went through a mai tai phase in high sch-- er college. Yes, I'm sure it was college. Must have been college ....
  • 35A: Like mud puddles (SLOSHY). Can't decide if I love this one or hate it. It's contrived, but also pretty descriptive.
  • 40A: "__ Nothing": 1993 Whitney Houston hit (I HAVE). I guess I stopped paying attention to Whitney Houston after her second album in 1987. Never heard of this song.
  • 53A: __ it over: ruled (LORDED). Is this clue awkward? Seems like it could/should just be "___ over: ruled." What am I missing?
  • 59A: Word after control or neat (FREAK). I resemble that remark!
  • 4D: "Popeye" creator Segar (ELZIE). Orange talked about E.C. Segar back in October. We don't often see his first name in the grid.
  • 5D: They usually aren't enough, so it's said (GOOD LOOKS). How do I not know this phrase?
  • 32D: At no time (NOT EVER). I entered not once at first, but the crosses straightened it out.
  • 36D: Many a Canadian francophone (QUEBECER). Got down to the C and realized that OIS wouldn't fit.
Crosswordese 101: ILA is the labor union International Longshoremen's Association and is typically clued just as it is today — 57D: Pier gp. Other words to look out for in clues for ILA are dockworkers, wharf, waterfront, and stevedore. The clue will most likely include the abbrevation for group (gp. or grp.) or organization (org.) to hint that the answer is also an abbreviation.

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Everything Else — 1A: Retired flier, briefly (SST); 9A: Floats gently (WAFTS); 15A: 22-Across lullaby syllables (LOO-RA); 16A: Part of a Valentine's text message (I LUV U); 17A: First name in objectivism (AYN); 20A: Escaped convict's need (FAKE ID); 22A: Lucky ones? (IRISH); 26A: 35-member treaty gp. (OAS); 29A: Apt name for a herding dog (SHEP); 30A: U.K. awards (OBES); 31A: Moved furtively (SNUCK); 33A: Alley Oop's girlfriend (OOOLA); 38A: Contests on horseback (JOUSTS); 41A: Unleashes (FREES); 42A: Cause of a run (SNAG); 43A: __ dire: jury interview (VOIR); 47A: Old CIA foe (KGB); 50A: Political exile, for short (EXPAT); 58A: Hot season for a Parisian (ÉTÉ); 60A: Pocahontas's spouse (ROLFE); 61A: Publicize (AIR); 62A: Where ham is often found (ON RYE); 63A: Sellout lack (SEATS); 64A: Sgt.'s superiors (LTS.); 1D: Provides with workers (STAFFS); 2D: Checkup request (SAY AAH); 3D: Wind chime sound (TINKLE); 6D: Poly- ending (GON); 7D: "... __ he drove out of sight" (ERE); 8D: Boom boxes (RADIOS); 9D: Hi-tech airport connection (WIFI); 10D: Pints' contents (ALES); 11D: Midway attraction (FUN HOUSE); 12D: Sports bar array (TVS); 13D: Take to court (SUE); 19D: Miscalculate, say (ERR); 21D: Advocate, as a cause (ESPOUSE); 24D: Not inept (ABLE); 25D: Demeanor (BEARING); 27D: Düsseldorf "D'oh!" ("ACH!"); 28D: Pilot's beat (SKY); 31D: Croat or Serb (SLAV); 34D: Wild things to sow? (OATS); 35D: One way for an actor to exit (STAGE LEFT); 37D: Old Iranian VIP (SHAH); 38D: Queens airport, familiarly (JFK); 39D: Nonprofit's URL ending (ORG); 42D: Indian instruments (SITARS); 44D: It's no picnic (ORDEAL); 45D: "Yeah, yeah, very funny" ("I GET IT"); 46D: Comics cowboy Red and others (RYDERS); 48D: Magician's prop (HAT); 49D: Rhinoplasty targets (NOSES); 51D: Picture of bones, often (X-RAY); 52D: Short dog, for short (PEKE); 54D: Northern Cal. hub (SFO); 55D: Coastal bird (ERN); 56D: 1973 court name (ROE).


Van55 said...

For the second day in a row the puzzle starts out with one of my pet peeves -- the way to easy and hackneyed SST (Ret. flyer).

I got over it. The rest of it was pretty good.

Van55 said...

Make that "TOO easy." I need to remember to proofread before publishing.

Van55 said...

One last thought.


This comment has been removed by the author.

This one was fun to solve... I caught the theme of U.S. Cabinet Offices right away and that made (54a) a dunk. After that, all the crosses just plopped in.

Two things bothered me though: I hardly think of Pennsylvania as a "Mid-Atlantic" state (36a), and aren't people from Quebec called Quebecans (or as @PG says Quebecois)?

I like the way you SNUCK in that very funny Conan clip.

Did anyone else put in WAXER instead of EGGER for "angry trick-or-treater?

@PG I needed that CW101 for ILA, but aren't those dock worker's unions sometimes referred to as ILO?

I know that IHAVE (40a) a lot of HIGHENERGY (48a) for my age, but people tell me that I also have GOODLOOKS (5d). Actually, I'm somewhat of a FREAK (59a) and I belong in a carnival FUNHOUSE (11d).

Time for my "exit" and my IRISH creme flavoured coffee and my IRISH Oatmeal with dried cherries. YUMMM!


And here's something to wake up all you late puzzlers.


PuzzleGirl said...

@JNH: I looked up Quebecer because it looked all kindsa wrong to me, but there it was in the dictionary. Also, ILO is the International Labour Organization (according to Wikipedia, a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, founded in 1919). Clues for ILO will almost always refer to the United Nations or include the word "worldwide." Oh, and the ILO won the 1969 Nobel Peace Prize — sometimes that's in the clue.

Parsan said...

Loved seeing Alley Oop's girlfriend OOOLA with the three o"s. Had sneak for SNUCK until I saw it was past tense.

Did not know ETZIE but it filled in. SLOSHY really is descriptive, and besides mud, can apply to the snow we had last week.

My wind chimes clang more than TINKLE (revert to 2nd grade and tee-hee at this word).

@Orange & @JNH--Coming your way Sunday for the holidays. Can you order up some warmer weather than the frigid cold blast you sent us this week?

Rushed through the puzzle and filled in everything without having to read 54a, so I didn't
know there was a theme. Thanks for pointing it out PG.

Too much to do and so little time!

Anonymous said...

Hate Quebecer - should be Quebecois in my book. And I detest "snuck" for what should be sneaked as past tense but I will admit that "snuck" is growing more popular and can be found in the dictionary but to me it's just wrong.

But a good Thursday puzzle.

GLowe said...

Chiming in on the Quebec issue:

A Quebecer (also Quebecker) pr. kweBEKer is a resident of thereof.

Quebecois pr. KEH(almost KAY)-bekwah is usually used in a political context regarding independance and/or separtism of the francophone population.

Quebecois is also a term used to distinguish between the European version of the french language, which is referred to as Parisienne.

Disclaimer - around here, anyway. Don't know / care what wiki might ahve to say about it.

*David* said...

Was not happy with a couple of crosses
ELZIE/LOORA and VOIR/RYDERS. The latter was inferrable but the former really wasn't since Segar usually goes by his initials.


I can understand why a French-Canadian separatist would want to use Quebecois. It seems like Quebecer is a bit anglicized.

Check the answer for (4d). Your ETZIE (sic) makes (15a) into TOORA, which also makes sense.


I was all ready to challenge the spelling of Alley Oop's girlfriend. Every source (including WIKIANSWER) said it was OOLA. Then I decided to go right to the horses mouth. I dug out the original cartoon and voile it was indeed OOOLA. Sometimes Google references can lead you astray.
Here's the original---

Lime D. Zeze said...

I like the Rick James/Super FREAK reference...took me a sec to figure out why in the heck you put a photo of Rick James there.

GLowe said...

It is sometimes overlooked that there are a lot of anglophones in Quebec, and a lot of Quebecers that don't necessarily support the Parti Quebecois.

I can't think of another example quite like it. It's an issue of culture, governance and real estate, that sometimes gets nasty.


I spent quite a bit of time in Canada in the last two years (and as a visiteur du Quebec). I found the French speaking people Quebecers/Quebecois to be quite delightful and very hospitable to us Americans. The food up there was even better than in Paris.

Tinbeni said...

A puzzle with ELZIE, Popeye creator, Alley Oops girlfriend OOOLA and an answer SLOSHY has GOOD LOOKS !!!

The theme, I GET IT, US Cabinet Offices.

FAKE ID could have been clued better, say "teens beer conveyance?" I think escaped convicts have other needs.

Fave - EXPAT, I did leave 1/3/05 after the Bush re-election (maybe it was political).

Entered Pocahontas's spouse ROLFE immediately and wondered if some fell for John Smith.

VOIR dire, I can still hear Joe Pesci pronouncing that in My Cousin Vinny, great movie.

As to the Quebec thing, here in Florida, during the winter, they are called lousy drivers.

@PG nice photo of Secretariat but as to the mai-tai, I'll have a Scotch.

dailyeffervescence said...

I don't get FALSE LABOR at all. What does it mean? How is it the answer to "some contractions"?

"I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston is my favorite song of all time. You obviously don't watch American Idol, either, because at least one contestant per season will butcher that song. Go rent The Bodyguard.

Orange said...

@dailyeff: Think uterus: When a pregnant woman experiences contractions but isn't actually in labor, it's called false labor or Braxton-Hicks contractions.

Carol said...

@Orange - my apologies for attributing the writeup yesterday to @PG. Does that mean you won't share an "Ole & Lena" joke with us? Most people who spend any time in Minnesota know at least one! Anyway, good info on the puzzle yesterday, thanks!

My hand is up for thinking John Smith for Pocohontas' spouse. (Hubby's, too!) Will have to Google this one. Got it on crosses - ROLFE?

Parsan said...

@JNH--Thanks for the correction. I was thing "Too ra loo ra loo ra----it's an Irish lullabye", and took the first two.

@crazycatlady--hope your husband is allright.

If I don't make it here tomorrow, Happy Holidays to all!

Al said...

@gespenst, re: multiple pigs with the same (Charlotte's Web) name from yesterday, if you have quite a few of them, shouldn't you name them all "Bruce" to keep it clear? Or "Eric", perhaps. There's nothing so odd about that. Kemal Ataturk had an entire menagerie called Abdul!

CrazyCat said...

@JNH Pennslyvania is defintely a Mid- Atlantic state. It's real state nickname is the Keystone State because it was in the middle of the thirteen colonies. QUAKER state comes from the fact William Penn and all his QUAKER buddies settled the area around Philadelphia. Many businesses are QUAKER State this and QUAKER State that and there is a QUAKERtown. Grew up in Swarthmore PA where there is a college founded by the QUAKERS (aka the Religious Society of Friends) with same name. The house where the American artist Benjamin West lived and worked is on the campus. NY, PA, NJ and DEL. are the Mid Atlantics. The Mason Dixon Line ran between PA and MD and around DEL. South of that is, I believe, is considered the South

Thought this was a fun Thursday puzzle and got the theme early on. Kind of rushed through it though. I liked SLOSHY - very descriptive and thought FALSE LABOR was great. I also was in a grammar mode so it took me a while. Knew about ROLFE from the movie The New World. Remembered ELZIE from Crosswordese 101 - Thanks for that. Also thought FAKE ID was clued well. Thanks for another fine write up.
@Parsan - he's doing remarkably well, up and about even though he's not supposed to be. Thanks for asking.

Diane said...

Re: "lorded it over"... It's a phrase I'm familiar with though it sounds awkward in the past tense. I usually hear it as meaning something more pompous and drunk-with-power than simply "ruling".

Anonymous said...

I'm new to CW puzzles this was a fun puzzle .

Sfingi said...

Got the theme, a new idea.
Did not know ILA, only ILGWU.
Did not know ZONEDEFENSE. I didn't think it was a court of law.
Sloshier, sloshiest. Great.

@Anon 8:15 - Is snuck really a word? It's used widely, even on NPR, PBS. Snuck has sneaked into the language. We've lost that battle, my friend.

Love Quakers and Quaker Oats.

@John - Quebecois is the language, the pary or the newspaper. Quebecer are the residents. My son speaks the patois. Quebec City and Montreal also have a lot of Italian speakers there. I won't go w/o hubster or sonster because I don't believe they're very friendly to Anglos. Food is good.
Also, Mr. Trivia, my hubster, assures me it's OOO.

PA is middle Atlantic, along with NY, NJ, DE, MD.

@Diane - when you retire you can finally use the past tense: "The skinny b----h lorded it over us."

@Tinbeni - I knew it wasn't Smith, but I had to wait for crosses to be reminded of Rolfe (the beautiful Muppet dog -Spaniel?- is Rowlfe). You're right about Canadian drivers. I had the joy of seeing two arrested on the Thomas E. Dewey Thruway.

obertb said...

Why do y'all include the "Everthing Else" section at the end of your (always enlightening) comments when the same information can be gotten from the puzzle solution? Seems like of lot of extra work. Just wondering.

Orange said...

@obert, not to worry—we're not retyping all those clues and answers. PG does some technical black magic. Our goal here is to coach solvers to become better solvers, so including all the clues lets folks who are Googling a tough clue discover this blog and, hopefully, use it as a learning resource.

Crockett1947 said...

@orange Thanks for the explanation. That was part of my thinking when I asked about how much time you blogger people spent on the puzzle on average. I couldn't imagine typing in all of that information and then checking it for accuracy would be a quick job. Nice that PG can massage the clues/fills and get that information rather quickly!

PuzzleGirl said...

@Crockett1947: I've been kind of waiting for you to stop by today. I spent the bulk of my day catching up on puzzles and this blog. So I just now saw your question from the other day about how much time we spend blogging. I'm sorry I wasn't around to respond at the time. When we first started this blog, I thought "My God! Will I ever get any faster at this?!" But I definitely have a groove now and, like both Rex and Orange, can typically finish in about an hour. But it can also take me two hours if, as Doug P. mentioned in that comment thread, I get sidetracked by videos I want to watch! It definitely takes time, but it's very much worth it because it's a blast and because of all of you guys. It's really cool to know we're helping people with this hobby that we love.



I'm sure the Quebecers cringe when they see those fairweather Floridians up there in Canada slip sliding all over the place.

CrazyCat said...

@Sfingi - I suppose Maryland can be officially considered a Mid Atlantic state, but when I lived in DE on the PA, MD border in the mid 70's, rural pockets of eastern MD were still very KKK active. Therefore, I consider MD to be in the "South." Hope to not offend anyone. My photography prof was able to infiltrate a meeting in Rising Sun, MD and her photos were extremely frightening. Left a lasting impression...

Tinbeni said...

I'm sure they would cringe but in reality the preponderance of visitors, and in what direction they are heading is NOT Floridians TO Canada in the winter.
Hell, we bitch when the temp. drops, and ice forms at 51 degrees. Now I know you think it is at 32, but down here at 51 degrees people walk around and say "Its F**king Freezing outside!" ergo ...
Canada is beautiful in the late spring, summer and early fall.
I especially enjoy the F-1 race in Montreal, but never noticed any ice on the roads at that time of year.

Parsan said...

I lived in Paris in 1967 when Charles DeGaulle made his "free Quebec" speech. It was surprising how many Frenchmen openly disagreed with him. The owner of our small hotel spoke little English so he made a circular motion with his hand beside his head and said DeGaulle was "fou" (crazy). We were treated rudely the next year by hotel personnel in
Montreal, but a few years later the same hotel staff could not have been friendlier. Politics can have a strange effect on people!

Sam Donaldson said...

Thanks for the fun write-up, PG! I'm amazed that you, Orange, and Rex can write your posts in under an hour. The few times I have handled the Sunday puzzles on Orange's blog it has taken me much longer per puzzle (and no, I won't confess how much longer).

I appreciate your link to the White House site listing all of the cabinet departments. There's a Sporcle quiz folks can take to test their knowledge of cabinet departments. I tried to link to it here in the comment, but for some reason I can't (this may explain why it takes me so long to write blog posts!). Just head to Sporcle and search "cabinet"--you'll find it.

You wouldn't know it from the finished product, but my title for the puzzle was CABINET FEVER. I so desperately wanted this to be the payoff entry, but I just couldn't make it work with the other entries so I had to resort to the more mundane SECRETARIES. At least I found an interesting way to clue it (I hope).

I wanted to make sure that the theme phrases used the cabinet-related words in an unrelated way. Thus, for example, I didn't want to use something like MISSILE DEFENSE because it relates to military defense, the very thing under the Secretary of Defense's purview. Likewise, I couldn't use CHILD LABOR because it relates to the work force. I thought by using different takes on "defense" (sports) and "labor" (delivery), the reveal of the theme would be more surprising and fun. Does this explanation even make sense? Anyway, that self-imposed limitation proved to be quite a restraint.

Mostly, I'm proud to have found a way to clue TINKLE in an inoffensive manner. I still grin like a ten year-old when I see the word.

Sfingi said...

@John - I suppose Floridians visit Canada in the Summer. I know I'll never go to Baltimore again in August. The air conditioners have water flowing from them. Today it is below zero Centigrade in Utica, and I almost didn't go to the Home.
My Baltimore sister has sworn off winter visits up here since she was once stuck in a Thruway rest stop overnight, had a train stuck on the tracks, and had an Airplane for which they couldn't find stairs.
Which reminds me-
@CrazyCat - My father and paternal g'ma were born in Baltimore, and the one sister lives there now. Though they weren't too prejudiced for their time and place (G'ma would go to any color tent-revival and would have eaten crabcakes if they were made by a Chinaman, as indeed they are, now), they certainly seemed Southern, and I always considered Baltimore "the South" as far as food and accent.
But the text books call it Mid Atlantic, whatever that is.
By the time my father made his way up the Jersey coast to NYC, he had a crazy accent what with his German Father, Baltimore Mother and NYC schools!

Toora LOORA LOORA Y'all!

Tinbeni said...

I have a brother who lives in Albany and he sends me photos when his house is practically covered by snow drifts.
I figured Utica probably has the same snow (Its why so many from Bosnia moved there, it felt like home).
He says to me (he forgets he grew up here in FLA) "But you have Hurricanes" and I shrug and say "And you have blizzards, but after the hurricane passes, we are not snowed in!"
Here in August, the A/C doesn't have water flowing from them ... it's more like a gush.
You learn to live with it.
Too hot? Take your clothes off ...

Tinbeni said...

Again thank you for not letting Merl's reason come out to soon.

I was beginning to think my 6:08pm & 6:59pm comments yesterday were to close to home.
Hey, I read a lot of mysterys. Was an auditor trying to figure out how people are trying to steal from their company or gov't unit ... I have an active imagination.

Merl gave me back the spirit of the Christmas Season.

mac said...

Very good puzzle, with some really outstanding clues/answers. Laughed when I got the "false labor", learned "egger", like wafts, snuck and sloshy, amazed at Ooola. I think it really has to be "lorded it over", only way I've ever heard it. This time Rolfe isn't a masseur!

Thank you Mr. Donaldson, always interesting to hear from the costructor.

@Tinbeni: the word I remember best from "My Cousin Vinny" is Yout.

shrub5 said...

I'm late to comment today. My computer wouldn't wake up -- blank screen no matter what I did -- and so I took it to the computer doctor. It worked perfectly when I got there. So that shot a good portion of my day.

Great to hear about the additional layer to yesterday's puzzle. Sending my best wishes to Clara and her family.

Liked the ZONE DEFENSE answer (any clue that is basketball-related is fine by me.) It is a very effective defense unless the opponent has good perimeter shooters. If so, you're in trouble and man-to-man defense is better. Zone defense is good when your team is in foul trouble; it slows down the game and is less tiring than man-to-man. The NBA prohibited zone defense until the 2001-2002 season.

LOL at Pilot's beat = SKY. Have fond childhood memories of the FUN HOUSE at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Distorted mirrors, moving floors, bursts of air...hurtling down the slide on burlap sacks, trying to avoid being flung off the spinning platter.

GLowe said...

Well, I can't find in this blog what the secret to yesterday's puzzle is. It seems there's a littany of people who know what precisely 'Quebecois' is equivalent to, compared to "Quebecer' who can't find it on the map.

And there's a secret, to an internationally published puzzle, that can't be shared. Cool. Plus one-time vacationers in La Belle who have the definitive skinny on wat up with the locals, and nationals.

Sure learned a ton today!

Unknown said...

Got to the puzzle very late tonight, so probably noone will read my comment but my mother is rolling over in her urn. 31 across - "snuck" - this is not a word. I don't care what you say, this is not proper English. The word is "sneaked" and that's that. Horrified to see this in our L.A. puzzle.

Orange said...

GLowe, you're joking, right? The explanation is in the post above this one on our home page.

Nancy, "snuck" is too a word. It's labeled "informal" in some dictionaries, but not labeled thus in others. The language changes, much to the horror of many. But change it does. (P.S. "Rolling over in her urn" is funny...)

gespenst said...

@Sam D -- thanks for your insight into puzzle making!

I had _ONE DEFENSE at one point, b/c I didn't know ELZIE (would have if today's (I'm writing this Friday) paper came out before yesterday's, b/c there was actually a reference to Popeye's creator today) ... anyhow, sometimes I resort to filling in each letter of the alphabet in succession to see what fits ... I was halfway through (MONE DEFENSE? NONE DEFENSE?) when my dad took a quick peek and said ZONE! Then I mentally slapped my head, b/c I am, after all, a big college basketball fan. In my defense, Duke plays more man-to-man ;)

@Al, thanks for the pig-name suggestions!! We do that for turtles ... all turtles are named "Slow." Much easier than trying to remember who's who ;)

Sam Donaldson said...

@Nancy, I received an email from a solver who shares your view regarding SNUCK. Here is a relevant portion of that email:

"I can't believe you used snuck in today's Tribune crossword puzzle. How do you conjugate that--sneak, snack, snuck? ... Do you use drug also, as in 'See what the cat drug in?' It's embarrassing for anyone to use snuck in a crossword puzzle, but particularly so for a college professor."

Hey, a new clue for DRUG! :)

I agree with (and appreciate) Orange's defense of the word, but clearly it is like fingernails on a chalkboard for some people.