Nov 4, 2008

Tuesday November 4, 2008 Willy A. Wiseman

Theme: Winner or Loser?

4A: Winner or loser?: BARACK OBAMA

58A: Winner of loser?: JOSEPH BIDEN

1D: Winner or loser?: JOHN MCCAIN

31D: Winner or loser?: SARAH PALIN

I wish 58A were JOE BIDEN. But then the symmetry would have been lost.

Great puzzle, perfectly matched theme pairs in the grid. Brilliant! Even the none-theme presidential fills have a 180-degree symmetry and evenly divided between GOP and Dem:

3D: W: GEORGE BUSH. His anagram is "He bugs Gore".

29D: "Commander in Chief" star: GEENA DAVIS. Her Veep is a Democrat.

25D: Dick Cheney's predecessor: AL GORE

28D: Presidential also-ran of the past: LANDON. He lost to FDR in 1936.

Only one minor flaw, the clue for EKING (44A: Barely making do) should be "Barely making do, with "out").

I want to share with you this hilarious Yma Dream. Some of those guests are our crossword stalwarts: Yma Sumac, Ava Gardner, Abba Eban, Oona O'Neill, Eva Gabor, Uta Hagen, Ida Lupino, Matah Hari. The others are: Ugo Betti, Ona Munson, Aga Khan, Ira Wolfert, Ilya Ehrenburg, Anna Magnani, Pia Lindstrom & Mieczyslaw Horszowski. I love those photos in the clip.

All right, if you haven't, get out and vote.


16A: Exploit too much: OVERDEVELOP. Isn't this a photography term?

19A: Saul's uncle: NER. I memorized this name from doing Xword. OK, so Saul's father is Kish. And Kish and NER (father of Abner) are sons of Abiel. So complicated.

21A: Dodger Pee Wee: REESE. Ha, I did not know that he is a champion marbles player and pee wee is a small clay marble. I always thought he was very short. He is in the HOF of course. Here is a picture of REESE with Jackie Robinson.

24A: Speaks roughly: RASPS. Or "Sings roughly"? Do you like "Good Morning, Vietnam"?

28A: George Sand novel: LELIA. I've never read LELIA. I truly believe Chopin would have lived longer had he not left George Sand. "There is only one happiness in this life: to love and to be loved".

33A: Closet item: HANGER

34A: Former queen of Spain: ENA. She is the Queen of Spain from 1906 -1931.

39A: A Gandhi: INDIRA. Interesting, her son Rajiv's name is "lotus flower" in Hindu language. Why would she name her son a flower?

43A: Yellowish pink: PEACH. It's symbol of longevity in China.

50A: Altar of stars: ARA. It's always the palindromic ARA if it's a 3-letter blank.

56A: Extinct: DEAD AS A DODO. New expression to me, though I knew DODO is extinct.


2D: Too much to take: UNBEARABLE. Our Xword actress Lena Olin is in "The UNBEARABLE Lightness of Being". She also appears in "Chocolat", together with Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp.

4D: Hobgobins: BOGIES. What does "Boogie Street" refer in Leonard Cohen's song?

7D: Island group in the Moluccas: ARU. See this map. It's Indonesia's island. I've never heard of ARU or Moluccas before.

8D: Mil. watchdog grp.: CDI (Center for Defense Information). Absolutely no idea. Got it from the across clues. It's established in 1972 according to Wikipedia.

26D: Tuscany commune: SIENA. Our editor has been very fond of "commune" lately. But it's a city, isn't it?

30D: Factual fault: INACCURACY

37D: Phom Penh cash: RIEL. I guessed. Here is their bank note.

39D: Mushroom with black gills: INKY CAP. Unknown to me. See this picture. Wikipedia says INKY CAP is "poisonous when consumed with alcohol, hence another common name Tippler's Bane." Have you ever had it? Does it blacken your tongue?

45D: Chrissie of the Pretenders: HYNDE. Another unknown. Here is their "Stop Your Sobbing".

46D: Pilgrimage to Mecca: HADJ. Also spelled as HAJJ. It's the 5th pillar of Islam.



Dennis said...

Good morning, c.c. and gang - good theme today; I was surprised, though, to see McCain on the left and Obama on the right. Nice positioning of Geena Davis and Sarah Palin.

Got stuck at the intersection of 'lelIa' and sIana and needed the g-spot to resolve it. Other than that, no problems.

Hope it's a great day for everyone; vote early and often.

C.C. Burnikel said...

That's a very interesting observation. Had the constructor turned the puzzle 90 degree, the puzzle would be the same theoretically. But then the first left column would be OBAMA, and the right top row would be PALIN. The grid might not look so well balanced in my opinion.

Why RUSTY NAILS is clued as "Bar orders"? I still don't understand the meaning of "cool customer". Can you give me a straightforward definition? Are those chickens in the song really chickens or some DF chickens?

Kittyb & Kazie,
Thanks for the porcelain/pottery information. So, pottery is opaque; Porcelain is translucent. China is porcelain, but it's opaque. But all of them are ceramics, right? This reminds me of those collectible dolls, some are called porcelain, some ceramic. None of them is called china/pottery though.

Martin said...

Did you guys set your clocks back or are you just staying in bed longer? ;)

I had to google LELIA and HADJ. I shouldn't have had to google REESE and INKY CAP but I did because I was having trouble with OVER DEVELOP and ALLOCATIONS.

C.C., OVER DEVELOP refers to exploiting land, ie developing farm land by building malls and then there's no farmland, hence over development. I had assumed that "Exploit to much" was refering to child labour or prostitution. The clue for ALLOCATIONS was "Allotment" so I had ALLOTATIONS, which probably isn't even a word. I just couldn't get past the wording of the clue.

Anyway, I ended up getting OVERPAR, SIENA, LANDON, ANTON and HOARY from the perps after I had gogled.

The puzzle wasn't bad: it took me a while to get BIDEN's first name. I didn't do it online today: my wife and I went shopping today and I did the puzzle while we were on the bus home.

C.C., the usual expression is DEAD AS A doornail. Willy shortened it to DEAD AS A DODO to fit the puzzle. Perhaps the clue should have been "Extinct?" (ie with a question mark to indicate a pun).

Oh, I had BLOUSE for a while instead of HANGER and PTO for a while instead of FYI. Nothing as funny as yesterday when I wrote ALF for "Long eared hairy beast".

Martin (That's ONE!)

melissa bee said...

good morning c.c. and all,

was happy to see the timely theme appear today. dennis, i also noted the unexpected left/right placement of mccain and obama .. and also found it interesting to see overdevelop and genuineness below obama, inaccuracy left of palin, unbearable sandwiched between mccain and bush, and dead as a dodo above biden.

off to the polls .. hope you are too.

Martin said...


If the puzzle were simply rotated 90 degrees then the first down fill would have read AMABOKCARAB which wouldn't have made sense at all. Every crossword can be reflected along the axis joining the first and last letters of the puzzle. In this case, the first down fill would have become JUG and BARACK OBAMA would have been immediately below it on the left BUT then JOSEPH BIDEN would have been the one on the right. Alas, OBAMA and MCCAIN can't be arranged symmetrically because they don't have the same number of letters in their names (eleven versus ten).

Martin (That's two!)

Bill said...

Took me a while but I conquered this thing. A lot of back and forth, some I wasn't sure of. But, in the end, I won.
The "I" in SIENA and LELIA was a pure guess, ARA came only from the ABUTting clues.
I didn't really have a problem with 44a. EKING came almost immediately. Maybe I've just seen the clue or clues like it so often that I'm conditioned!
GENUINENESS bothers me a little. Another of those answers that add "NESS" to make a word that fits the grid. I can't remember anyone ever commenting on the "genuineness" of anything.
The word that comes to my mind is "VERACITY".
OK, I'll go now. Gotta vote, do banking, pick up lumber and play "Bill, the builder"!
CY'all later.

Dennis said...

Not sure I follow the "staying in bed longer" comment; today's posts started the same time as normal, maybe even a little earlier.

Martin said...


Sorry. Living on the other side of the world I get used to a 13 hr time difference between me and this blog: it is now 14 hours, which means that it is now late in the evening here by the time people are getting up where you are. I should have picked up on this on Saturday when I went to bed and NO ONE had posted except C.C. and myself.

Martin (That's three!)

Anonymous said...

25D. I hope Al Gore doesn't "succeed" Dick Cheney or anyone else. CC, your happy keyboard misspoke; it should have read Dick Cheney's "predecessor".
Der Katze

C.C. Burnikel said...

Re: AMABOKCARAB. Wow, I've never thought of that. Thanks.

Great observation as usual. No comment on Leonard Cohen's "Boogie Street" (4D)?

Der Katze,
I was half awake I suppose. Great to see you again.

Dennis said...

martin, no problem.

melissa, great observation on the juxtapositions.

Guess I'm now done for the day; have a great one.

Barry G. said...

Morning, all!

An excellent effort from our anagrammed editor today! Very, very impressive.

Lots of unknowns for me today, but the long fills were easily gettable due to the obvious theme, so everything came together nicely. Well, almost everything. LELIA was a complete unknown to me, and I wasn't 100% sure about LANDON. In the back of my mind I kept thinking of the name Alf LANDON, but I couldn't remember where I knew the name from or who he was. I really wanted Celia instead of LELIA, but in the end I went with LANDON and LELIA.

Anywho, the other unknowns for me today were NER, ENA, ARU, CDI, INKY CAP, and HYNDE. I haven't seen ARA in a puzzle for a long time, but fortunately I was able to dig it out of the hind brain.

Oh -- and I loved DEAD AS A DODO! ^_^

And here's my pet peeve of the day... Stop using foreign words that are not used in English! I'm sorry, but I do not know French and there's just no excuse for a word like ICI to be an English language crossword puzzle, even when clued as something in French. Double entendre? Sure. Bon mot? No problem. These are all foreign words or phrases that people actually use in English. But ICI? Now way, no sir, no how!

Barry G. said...

Oh -- and I just read that Yma Sumac passed away the other day. I only know her from the crosswords...

KittyB said...

Good morning, all!

I'm so disappointed. I finished the puzzle at 4:00 this morning and thought I might be the first to post. Unfortunately, I fell asleep again and missed my chance. Perhaps another day.

Martin, we did change to Standard time Sunday morning.

I'm in agreement with Barry. I really don't care to have words of another language that are not part of normal conversation in English used in our puzzles. And, I had the same difficulties with the short unknown words.

I finished the puzzle without assistance, but I simply guessed on LELIA. Those I didn't know came through the fills.

Melissa, are you working the polls today? As soon as my mother is ready to go, we will be voting. We used to vote when the polls opened, but at 92, she deserves to sleep in.

C.C., I love "Yma Dream," and the link to "get out and vote." I forwarded the reminder to vote to my extended family, and sent the other to a great nephew who is casting about for a humorous speech for a competition. What a memory you'd have to have to get through it! *G* Thanks for a great start to the day.

And to all the DFs.....Go VOTE!

Dr. Dad said...

Good morning all!

Interesting observation on right and left, Dennis. Notice how Sarah is on the right and Joe is on the bottom? And of course, there is Al Gore in the middle of the road. Geena Davis might be a worthy write in candidate (LOL).

A Rusty Nail is a bar drink consisting of (in one instance) 1 1/2 ounces of scotch, 1/2 ounce Drambuie, and a lemon twist.

Melissa Bee has some other nice observations. Aren't we sharp today?

Nothing of note on the web for "Today Is" except that it is Election Day.

Have a great day.

DoesItinInk said...

This was such a fun puzzle that I didn’t mind that it was so very easy! What a wonderfully executed theme.

@cc: I loved the Yma Sumac link. LOL. FYI-Yma Sumac died on Saturday. NPR did a very nice piece on her yesterday including clips of her singing. Click on Listen Now to hear it. Her range was incredible, almost unbelievable!

@dennis…28D is Siena.

Dick said...

Good morning CC, DFs and DFettes...nice puzzle today. The only word I had a problem with was Lelia and I had to see Mr G to get the word. Nice observations from Melissa and Dennis.

I am off to cast my vote and I hope it is for a winner.

See ya all later.

kazie said...

Good morning all,

Yes, c.c., I'm with kittyb, those two links were wonderful--yma dream and the vote one. i've passed them both on.

This was an easy puzzle for me too, no g spots, though I guessed the L for Landon/Lelia.

Barry, I understand your frustration with the languages, but I always enjoy the French and German words for obvious reasons. But also because I get so sick of most people's assuming that Spanish is THE only foreign language worth worrying about. Having grown up in Oz, I have never studied it, and yet can usually guess the Spanish words clued here.

The same ones come up over and over, so just keep a diary of them, like clear ayes does for her "words she'll never use in conversation".

Anonymous said...

mark - buenos Aires

I was taught "dead as a doornail" 50 years ago, and thought then, as now, "what is a doornail? and why is it dead?"

"dead as a dodo" makes more sense and has come into common parlance, probably for that reason.


Ken said...

Good morning, C.C. and gang. I'm probably the last one to have noticed the theme as 1D filled in. Lots of perp help for me tho'. I got the middle first then s l o w l y filled in 1D. Finally I found the theme. Most of the 3-letter stuff came from perps.


Former or sometime

A quondam senator, cabinet member and presidential candidate, the political warrior settled into his new life as a talk show guest.

melissa bee said...

@c.c.: i vodka you for the cohen link, that track happens to be my favorite from that album. cohen is such a brilliant lyricist, i am unworthy of interpreting his genius. all i can say is that .. to me .. the words capture the yin and yang of enlightenment.

O Crown of Light, O Darkened One…
So come, my friends, be not afraid.
We are so lightly here.
It is in love that we are made;
In love we disappear. [...]
O Crown of Light, O Darkened One,
I never thought we’d meet.
You kiss my lips, and then it’s done:
I’m back on Boogie Street.

it sounds like he is moving from an intense spiritual experience (disappearance into the divine) to an ordinary one .. labeled boogie street. it is interesting to note that cohen retreated to a zen monastery for five years, disappearing from public life. apparantly bugis street (pronounced boogie street) was an infamous red-light district in singapore, and he used it as a metaphor for the everyday struggles and desires of life.

btw, the 2005 documentary i'm your man contains live concert footage and interviews with cohen and a handful of friends and fellow artists. worth seeing if you're a cohen fan. from the documentary, this is teddy thompson covering 'tonight will be fine.'

kazie said...

Everyone must be out voting. I just got back and no more comments have been added. It didn't take long here--only two machines for a town of 5,000, but there was no line for the paper ballots so I did it that way this time. It's kind of a social event in this size of town. I always see people at the polls I don't see otherwise.

I forgot to say earlier, that I, too, really enjoyed the appropriate theme for today. When you have lived 30 years in a place without citizenship, you appreciate the right to vote after you gain it. I waited until the Oz government decided its citizens could have dual nationality, and only became a citizen in 2004.

Anonymous said...

hi everyone! it's been a while since i had a chance to sit down and even look at the crossword!

i really liked today's puzzle, i got most of it on my own :]

my only unknown after working on it myself and using c.c.'s answers was oleo/hoary. i've never heard of oleo before.

barry, i agree with the words from other languages. luckily, my roommate is in love with the french language and she helps me out with them, but they're a pain when i'm on my own. i know the basics of spanish so they are alright for me.

luckily i got out early and voted. the lines are outrageous now! i'm glad i got to vote in this exciting election.

hopefully be back soon :] have a great day!

Jeannie said...

C.C. I went to log onto the "which newspaper" link and it is missing. So no crossword for me today. Hope everyone has a fantastic day. It is beautiful here in the Twin Cities 70 balmy degrees, but I fear that is the end of that. Guess I'll step outside and take a stroll instead of doing the puzzle today.

g8rmomx2 said...

Hi c.c. and all,

I had to google Leila as others did because I never heard of that novel. I did somehow think that 28D was Landon, but wasn't sure. Other than that it was smooth sailing.

I hope everyone votes, I did! Have a wonderful day.

embien said...

11:25 today, but I have to confess I dawdled through the puzzle because I found the theme so enjoyable. I love a puzzle that is not only super-topical but has nice long theme fill.

There were actually no unknowns for me, but not all the "knowns" were gimmes and I needed some of the crosses. Oops, I just noticed that I didn't know 7d: Island group in the Moluccas (ARU). Never saw the clue as it was filled in before I got there.

@cokato: You can find the online puzzle here.

@barry: Yes it is sometimes annoying to have foreign words in the English-language puzzle, but I think ICI is common enough to qualify as "normal" crosswordese. In this case I think the down stacks of GEENA DAVIS and SARAH PALIN made the French term worthwhile and excusable.

Everyone get out and vote if you haven't done so already. Oregonians: remember that postmark doesn't count (this isn't like the IRS), you have to deliver your ballot to an official drop station before 8PM PST for it to count. I imagine you can get a list of official ballot stations from any of the TV station websites, since it will vary from county to county.

papajim said...

Afternoon all! What a beautiful Indian Summer day! (I hope I can say that). 72 degrees, light breeze, sunny. I didn't like this puzzle at first, it looked more like a weekend puzzle. But it didn't take long to figure it out, but then I blew it on hanger. Just a flashback to my aviation days I guess, I had "hangar". Otherwise an easy puzzle.
I voted early today. I expected lines but it took me about 15 minutes to go through the process. It might be a long night for me, hopefully not as long as Bush/Gore. I kept waking my wife up with alternate reports of who the next president was until she told me to "keep quiet, or come to bed!!". She still works, so I'll be more considerate this time.

carol said...

Hi all, great little puzzle today, got me to go all the way down the hall and find my 'thinking cap'...after I put that on, I did fairly well. :)

I did not know: Aru, Neh (41A),29D but got them without too much moaning.

Embien, just a question for you, why DRIVE to a ballot drop box location when we have VOTE BY MAIL here in Oregon?? Why don't people put it in the mail in time for it to be counted? That is not a difficult thing to do. The other way just defeats the whole purpose of having vote by mail, to say nothing of clogging up steet traffic all across town! ARGHHHH! There, I feel so much better.

Jeanne said...

Afternoon everyone,

Loved the topical puzzle today, got most of the unknowns from perps. Have never heard of "Dead as a Dodo" so that made it very interesting. Didn't have time this a.m. to work the puzzle, so I just sat down a short time ago to get it finished. Voted this a.m. at a small country church which had absolutely no lines. Felt kind of guilty for all those wonderful Americans that wait for hours to cast their ballot.

Getting ready to leave for Houston on Thursday for my son's wedding. New grandson two weeks ago and now a wedding for the younger son. It has been a wonderful fall.

Anonymous said...

I put Hajj first (its the common spelling in the middle-east and southeast asia) and I put Sanjay for Indira(duh!). Sanjay is Indira's younger son. That messed me up for a while but figured out ultimately. Good election day puzzle. Check out the Crossynergy puzzle if you can.

crazyhorse said...

Hi CC and all
No trouble with the puzzle today as soon as I figured out the theme. I don't always manage that.

Argyle and DRDad
Oh i remember rusty nails from my much younger days! Lethal!

Beautiful baby! I have 5 beautiful grandbabies and of course, they are all brilliant!
Have fun at the wedding

crazyhorse said...

Oops, forgot
I voted last week and it still took about an hour.
Everybody get out and vote!

Anonymous said...

Martin and C.C.,
Regarding Martins comment "the usual expression is DEAD AS A doornail. Willy shortened it to DEAD AS A DODO to fit the puzzle. "
For me Willy did not adapt a valid expression. I often heard each of those expressions when I was a teenager back in the 1930's and '40's.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Dr. Dad,
Thanks for the Rusty Nail. Very DF comment on Palin on the right, Biden on the bottom and Gore in the middle. Wish Dennis had saved his last post to respond to you. He would have come up with a great zinger.

FYI, QUONDAM has not made any appearance in any puzzle before. Great word. Thanks.

Thanks for the Boogie Street. I love some of Lenny Cohen's poems. Very sensual, sexy and spiritual.

You have such an advantage in solving Xword because of your Latin/Germanic/Romance language background. Or is Latin part of Romance language?

C.C. Burnikel said...

Kittyb and Doesitink,
I am glad you enjoyed the Yma link. I heard the same piece on "All Things Considered" yesterday.

Don't you feel like you are the happiest woman on earth sometimes?

Washpost Solver,
Nice to see you again. See, the more you know about a certain subject, the more mistake you tend to make. Sanjay never comes to my mind because I've never heard of him before.

RE: DEAD AS DODO. 1930's or 1940's?
That's so old. I wonder how Barry has heard of it before.

Mr. Ed said...

G'day C.C. & all
Once I caught on the theme, I pretty much breezed through this one. Then, I hit the same spot that caused dennis trouble. Lelia/Siena was a lucky guess.

No politics... not even thinly disguised... so I'm outta here!


Razz said...

Ahh the joy of learning!

Dead as a doornail - Older than you think!
Dead as a dodo - Not quite as old!

Voted - So now I can officially start bellyaching - doesn't matter who wins cause neither will get it right!

Jeanne said...

Sometimes life can be pretty routine if you let it. Right now my life is full of blessings and I am very grateful for the milestones that are occurring in my family. Won't bore you with more details except for maybe a wedding picture next week!!

kazie said...

I think the romance languages are called that because they are based on the Roman language--Latin.

Congratulations again. I know you'll have a wonderful time at your son's wedding, as well as basking in the joy of your new grandparenthood!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the two sources on the phrases about "dead as".

Anonymous said...

56a dead as a dodo

JIMBO said...

Hi ya'll,

This is a test.
My daughter has been working to get my photo on the blog . Hope it does'nt scare everyone off.

BTW Finished the puzzle without googling, but only after much thought and a lot of time. Once the theme came to light and a few good guesses, it was done. Of course, I had a lot of help from the surrounds.

Ny'tol and VCD

Argyle said...

I had a clever and insightful answer for you, C.C., but when I went to preview it, my connection broke and I lost it. I lost my cool,too. So now I give you my abbreviated version.

"Cool customer" has nothing to do with a person buying something. "Cool as a cucumber" is a similar idiom. It indicates that a person is calm and collected under pressure.

Chickens: The song was from the thirties and the Great Depression when hobos and tramps would try to get a free meal from the farmers' henhouses.

NYTAnonimo said...

Great puzzle and nice write up cc!

Puzzle brought this to mind.