FRIDAY, June 25, 2010 — Mark Feldman

Theme: Ethnic Food — Food puns based on foreign cities.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Swiss poultry dish? (BASEL CHICKEN).
  • 27A: Korean menu listing? (SEOUL FOOD).
  • 35A: Indian lunch fare? (DELHI SANDWICH).
  • 43A: Moroccan hearty meal? (RABAT STEW).
  • 52A: Meccan omelet ingredient? (JEDDAH CHEESE).
I don't know if I still have my cranky-pants on from yesterday or what, but this theme didn't thrill me at all. I'm sure that "basil chicken" is a thing, but it's not, say, "chicken ala king" or "chicken caciatorre." It's not even "lemon chicken" or "orange chicken," which you can find on every Chinese restaurant menu in America. It's just … chicken with basil I guess. Doesn't work for me. Also, JEDDAH CHEESE? So JEDDAH is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. I've never heard of it. But that's not why I don't like this answer. I don't like this answer because it's not consistent with the rest of the theme. The other theme answers all start with a city whose name sounds exactly the same as the word it's punning on. Wait. I just looked up BASEL and it turns out it's not pronounced the same as "basil." I guess if I had ever heard of BASEL I'd know that. So okay. Two of the cities change the pronunciation and three don't. I still don't like it. BASEL/basil is not as egregious as JEDDAH/cheddar, if that makes any sense. Done ranting. About that …. What's with both FRI. and TGIF in the grid? (29D: It can be casual: Abbr. / 42A: Letters that come at the end of the week.) Do not like.

Like yesterday, the fill just wasn't colorful enough to make up for the drab theme. I like LEFT JABS (although I'm not crazy about the gratuitous plural) (37D: Right crosses may follow them). And SHANGHAI and BUBBAS have a little sparkle to them (except there's that plural again) (10D: City near the Yangtze River / 1D: Good ol' boys). But overall? I guess my expectations for Friday are pretty high.

Anything to talk about? Well, sure!
  • 4A: 1960 Olimpiadi host (ROMA). The foreign spelling of "Olympics" is a clue that the answer will also be a foreign spelling.
  • 4D: Texter's response to a hilarious joke (ROFL). Entered LMAO at first. But, obviously, the A would not be appropriate for the puzzle.
  • 8D: Basho's forte (HAIKU). Even with the K in place, I couldn't see this answer until I got the U. I don't know Basho / Learned from the crossword puzzle / Haiku is his forte. (See what I did there?)
  • 31D: President with two Grammys (OBAMA). Quick story. A bunch of my co-workers went out to lunch together yesterday. It was kind of a slow day at work so they went to Ray's Hell Burger, which is a little farther away than our typical lunch spots. About thirty minutes after they leave, we get a call: "We're locked down at Ray's because President Obama will be here any minute. We'll get back to the office when we can, but we'll probably be late." Turns out Obama thought a nice juicy burger would be a good lunch for Russian President Medvedev. It's so unfair! My co-workers don't even pay attention to all the political stuff. I, on the other hand, actually have a few things I'd like to discuss with the President! (Probably best not to get me started….)
  • 43D: Bench, once (RED). I'm not looking this up, but I'm going to say with a lot of authority that Johnny Bench once played for the Cincinnati Reds. So there you have it.
Crosswordese 101: There are basically three ways you're likely to see NANA clued. First, as another way of saying "grandma." Then, as the main character in Émile Zola's 1880 novel of the same name. And finally, there's the dog in "Peter Pan," which is what we're seeing today (62A: Barrie Newfoundland). Not being a dog person, I didn't realize that Newfoundland is a type of dog so I was completely perplexed by this clue even after I got it through crosses. I guess this is the Friday version of "'Peter Pan' pooch" or "Wendy Darling's dog."

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 28D: Lionized actor? (LAHR).
  • 30D: Treaty gp. since 1948 (OAS).
  • 36D: "The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers" essayist (ELIA).
By the way: If you don't typically solve the weekly Wall Street Journal puzzle, you might want to give it a try today. Joon Pahk and Andrea Carla Michaels have created a Sunday-sized (21x21) puzzle with some pretty tricky cluing, but the theme is really fun and it (the theme) is easy enough that it will help you with the rest of the fill. You can download the WSJ puzzle in Across Lite here if you're interested. Also, I did the write-up of the puzzle over on Amy's blog.

[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: A.L. East team (BOS); 8A: Padlocked, perhaps (HASPED); 14A: Glob suffix (-ULE); 15A: Receptive (OPEN); 16A: More gray (ASHIER); 17A: 2006 farce involving a drinking contest (BEERFEST); 19A: "Magic Hour" author (ISAACS); 22A: Memo abbr. (ATTN); 23A: Move beyond (OUTGROW); 32A: Frost (HOAR); 33A: Fast horse (ARAB); 34A: Frayed (TATTY); 40A: Certain Net user (AOLER); 41A: '60s Mod staple (MINI); 48A: Fare that's filled and baked (MEAT PIE); 51A: Race (TEAR); 57A: All one had (ESTATE); 60A: Transfers again, as computer files (RECOPIES); 61A: Hungary neighbor (SERBIA); 63A: Fruitcake (NUT); 64A: Is out there (EXISTS); 65A: African antelope (ORYX); 66A: Rte. finder (GPS); 2D: Fatty acid salt (OLEATE); 3D: Handles (SEES TO); 5D: Crude org. (OPEC); 6D: Interlock (MESH); 7D: Boycotting, perhaps (ANTI); 9D: Black listing? (ASSET); 11D: Emmy-winning news anchor Lindström (PIA); 12D: Common Mkt. (EEC); 13D: "ER" extras (DRS.); 18D: Contact lens solution brand (RENU); 21D: Cape __ (COD); 24D: VMI program (ROTC); 25D: Bit of irreverence (OATH); 26D: Twisted (WRY); 34D: Fool (TWIT); 35D: Old Venetian judge (DOGE); 38D: Point (NIB); 39D: Stranded material (DNA); 40D: 20s provider, for short (ATM); 44D: Dance move (STEP); 45D: Elevating, in a way (TEEING); 46D: Relax (EASE UP); 47D: Takes by force (WRESTS); 49D: __ four (PETIT); 50D: Bean products? (IDEAS); 53D: Cartoonist Peter (ARNO); 54D: When repeated, word of agreement (HEAR); 55D: Manhattan sch. (CCNY); 56D: Piltdown man, e.g. (HOAX); 57D: Language suffix (-ESE); 58D: Bio datum (SEX); 59D: Head of state? (TRI-).


Hahtoolah said...

This was another toughie for me. I never heard of Jeddah and didn't like the Jeddah Cheese response because it seemed inconsistent with the other theme answers.

Favorite clues in this puzzle were: Bean Products = IDEAS, 20s Provider = ATM, and Lionized actor = LAHR.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

This comment has been removed by the author.
This comment has been removed by the author.

Although I totally disagree with your "cranky-pants" view of this puzzle, I usually ROFL (even LMAO) whenever I read your fun writeups. Today was no exception.
You seem like such a light-hearted person, I just can't imagine you ever telling off President Obama.

"It's just … chicken with basil I guess." Oh my!!!!
Obviously you don't eat much Thai food. Ever hear of Gkai Pad Gkaprow (Spicy Basiled Chicken)?

Breakfast enjoyed
in the fine company of
morning glories
~ Matsuo Basho

Anonymous said...

Nver heard of Jeddah???? That was a total gimme, sorry.

However, I still don't know what ROLF means - help. I don't text so no clue.

jazz said...

ROFL = rolling on floor, laughing!

Anonymous said...

ROFL = rolling on the floor laughing

Anonymous said...

John, stand by your comments. Why do you keep making comments and deleting them?

Tinbeni said...

Four of the theme puns got their well earned groan. JEDDAH CHEESE just got a smirk.

First pass through the clues pretty much got me the Midwest.
The coasts were a slog.

Had Map until TEEING showed me the err of my ways.
OATH, Bit of irreverence, got the award for a long way around the barn to get to the answer.
ASSET, Black listing, got the ROFL.
Really don't understand why TRI is Head of state?
Nice to see ELIA not clued as Lamb moniker.

Best part was reading the Puzzlegirl write-up.
The HAIKU cartoon was a hoot.

Sfingi said...

I'm very upset. The answers to today's puzzle appeared in today's paper where yesterday's should have been. I don't think I can proceed. I'll have to cut it out of the picture and try. When I saw it, I said, what puzzle is this? Did I comment on the wrong one yesterday? This one looks more interesting...WHA!
And I woulda loved the puns.

I might take you up as per the Journal, despite who the owner is now.

By the way, what happened to continuing quote type CWs?

*David* said...

I had a hard time starting this puzzle, lots of fill on the sides but no real blocks to get traction. DELHI SANDWICH is where I got moving and once I got the theme then the puzzle went. I really disliked a lot of the side fill which may be what caused the problems TATTY, EEC, ULE, ROTC, CCNY, ESE, and OAS too many abbreviations and partials.

Rex Parker said...


Mecca Is Not A Country.

Why isn't the JEDDAH answer clued as "Saudi Arabian omelet ingredient" the way All The Other Theme Answers are clued by a NATIONality? That's just ... mystifying. If you know JEDDAH from Mecca, you should know it from Saudi Arabia. Consistency in theme cluing—that's 101 stuff.


Burner10 said...

Tough for me. Lots of wrong letters. I did like the idea of an international puzzle while we are in the midst of soccer madness!
Thanks JNH for the poem.

Zeke said...

Yeah, what Rex said. Except for the 5:50 thing.

gespenst said...

I didn't mind it ... once I caught on to the theme (w/ SEOULFOOD) I was able to get the other theme answers. Well, I knew the last had to be something sounding like Cheddar w/o being Cheddar, but I got screwed up w/ "Bench, Once" I was thinking bench press, like weight lifting, and filled in "REP" (which I've seen in puzzles before) ... which left me w/ JEDPAH cheese ... yeah, not so much ;)
And somehow I didn't get T-EING as TEEING ... even though this week I'm focusing on golf (have great box seats by the 18th green for the Travelers Championship ... should be great fun w/ an almost 4-week-old, and possibly also our 3.5-year-old ... keeping them quiet on the green ;) )

Anyhow, it looked like a tough puzzle to start, but other than those 2 letters, I was able to whip it into shape ;)

Lime D. Zeze said...

I liked "JEDDAHCHEESE" -- it gave me a chuckle. And, Basil is pronounced the same as Basel if you are speaking the Queen's English. However, "RABAT" is not now, nor will it ever be, pronounced "RABBIT"

Van55 said...


"By the way, what happened to continuing quote type CWs?"

One hopes that they have gone the way of SSTs. ROFL.

Is there a phrase that means the opposite of "to dumb down?" If so, it would apply aptly to today's cluing, by which pretty straight forward answers are given intentionally "difficult" clues. Examples: "Lionized actor," "Barrie Newfoundland," "Crude org.," Black listing," "Elevating, in way" and "Head of state." I am all for having Friday puzzles be Friday challenging, but this gambit doesn't get that done for me.

Personally, I liked the punny theme, though I agree that BASELCHICKEN is a stretch as a theme answer.

CrazyCat said...

I agree with everything @PG said in her write up. This one left me cold starting with BASEL CHICKEN. I agree that it's not really a known dish. I don't think one would look up a recipe to make BASIL CHICKEN, maybe chicken with pesto and pine nuts, but just plain Basil? There were too many abbreviations today. I also questioned 25D It can be casual FRI and TGIF. Thought JEDDAH CHEESE was a HOAX. SEOUL FOOD was the only theme answer that made me chuckle, but didn't ROTF.
Other things I didn't like were OLEATE, ASHIER, TEEING and AOLER.
@Tinbeni - I think 59D Head of state? means TRI State. Pretty lame IMO. I guess I'm a cranky poo today too.

Tuttle said...

Meccan omelet was awful. It's like cluing "New York Pie" when you want the answer "Chicago Pizza".

19A killed me. Kristin Hannah's book came to mind first as a fit. And I only went with it because I knew Jack Cardiff had two Fs. Not exactly the most unique book title ever. And since Basho also wrote Noh plays and Jon Lindstrom is the last Lindstrom I saw in relation to the Emmys... I was screwed up there.

Not sure I agree with the definition of DOGE either.

Tinbeni said...

re: TRI state
That's what I thought, including the "pretty lame, IMO" part.

You commented on the correct puzzle yesterday.

There are two types of puzzles I dislike:
1) Rebus
2) Continuing quote (These because you either know it or you are out in the woods.)
The circled letter ones are a 50/50 toss-up.

Anonymous said...

On what ground can you _possibly_ disagree with the definition of DOGE?

Van55 said...

I have come up with a neologism for what I mean about today's cluing. The opposite of "to dumb down" is "to mensanate." The result of mensanating the clues is to give them artificial erudition.

Anonymous said...

You people should get a grip and enjoy the puzzles. I bet you guys would really gripe with clues like "guidos highest note" and "corday's killer", back when puzzles were challenges.

Tinbeni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tinbeni said...

I think the proper term is
A combo of:
"Mensa" from the "they think a higher I.Q." makes them erudite.
(Most boring group of people I ever got to know).
"Lite" because they really have less substance.

(Also, I couldn't find any definition for "nate" other than as a name.)

June 25, 2010 11:

Van55 said...

Guido's high note is and always has been ELA. That was a gimme back in the day, just as SST is a gimme these days for "Grounded transAtlantic fleet" and the like.

Van55 said...


Maybe "mensanize" would have been better. Your points are well made and well taken. :)

Tuttle said...

On what ground can you _possibly_ disagree with the definition of DOGE?

A passing familiarity with the institutions of the Most Serene Venetian Republic.

If you'll note, the word "judge" does not appear anywhere on that Wiki page, and "chief magistrate", in this sense, does not refer to a judicial magistrate. The "Signoria", the senior council, chose judges and the three supreme judicial magistrates were the "Quarantia Crimina".

If we're talking about the language of Old Venetian then judge is something between the modern Venetian "xúdexe" and the Latin "judex" (DOGE = duke). If we're talking judges in the Biblical sense it should be clued as such; 'old venetian shoftim' or something (not that it would make much sense).

Tinbeni said...

Let's see if either Mensalite or Mensanize catches on. ROFL

OK, like your SST, the LOL and ROFL both leave me frustrated (even when I use them).
Are people really "Laughing out loud?" or "Rolling On the Floor, Laughing?"
C'mon, that is B/S.
The only time I ever, ever, ever "Rolled on the floor, laughing" was at a Sam Kinison show.
He had me laughing, out loud, so much, I was crying.
Wiping the tears from my face with my hankerchief until I had no more tears.
And I fell out of my seat, clutching my sides.
I wish I could tell you the joke (yes, I remember it well) but this is a public forum with polite company.
All-in-all it was a GREAT SHOW, the BEST.

Jeff Chen said...


Love the writeup! I wish you would get a DO NOT LIKE lolcat already, though. Why is it that those kittehs make me cackle with laughter?

Agree that BUBBAS was fun to see, but consistency in puzzle wasn't great. Good fill tho.


Anonymous said...

Too much lolspeak and self-impressed mensa crap today!

C said...

Tripped up by ISAACS and NANA. Two entities I haven't heard of nor met or have been in my kitchen (homage to Cliff Claven)

CAPTCHA is oughten so thought I should post.

John Wolfenden said...

Although this was the rare puzzle whose theme I got early enough to use it to solve the other theme answers, I was grumpy by the time I finished it.

To add to the gripes already mentioned:

-Although nobody uses AOL any more, a 3-letter word with two vowels is irresistible for puzzlemakers. But do we really have to be subjected to AOLER?

-I've seen DRS clued as "ER extras" before, and I still don't like it. DRS are the main characters on that show, not just the extras.

-Maybe it's because I stuck so doggedly to "Bio datum" being DOB, but SEX doesn't seem like something you'd learn reading someone's bio.

Burner10 said...

Blog better than puzzle today - clearly. New words, anon snarkiness, notwithstanding the typical blog fil. Iam CQS - chuckling quietly to self. Now...white wine or red.

CrazyCat said...

@Burner - Glad you're ok after the bus crash. I choose white : )

shrub5 said...

Agree with @John Wolfenden's gripes. But on the whole, I enjoyed doing this international-y puzzle. With all the food-related theme answers, I thought the MEATPIE answer seemed out of place.

I had IBEX before ORYX. Wrong animal, wrong location. Never can keep those antelope/goat critters straight.

@Tinbeni: I haven't ROFL or LMAO (however MA could stand some reduction.) I do, however, LOL at funny things in puzzles, even if it's usually only a "heh!"

Anonymous said...

Jeddah does not go with cheddar it goes with fetta cheese that way it sounds betta

John Wolfenden said...

Testify, @shrub5. IBEX seemed like it must be right, but goats ain't antelopes. Just when you think you know a thing or two about nature...