Sep 9, 2010

Thursday September 9, 2010 John "Doppler" Schiff

Theme: AUTO REVERSE (61A. Cassette deck feature, and a hint to this puzzle's theme) - Two-word car parts are reversed in order and clued to have wacky backwards meanings, indicated with a "?".

17A. Excessive pride in one's china?: PLATE VANITY. Vanity Plate examples.

26A. Brawl during a game of musical chairs?: SEAT RUMBLE. Last built in 1939. Decapitation, really? I wonder why they're no longer an option.

36A. What Winfrey couldn't do during a noted couch-jumping episode?: CONTROL CRUISE. If you like Tom Cruise, who jumped at Oprah's couch to professed his love for his then girlfriend Katie Holmes, don't watch this...

51A. Zorro's chamois?: BLADE WIPER. Poor choice IMO. Ever try to get blood stains out of suede leather?

Al here.

Definitely a step up with tricky cluing today. Another puzzle that you look back at after solving and think, why did this take me so long? I think because of all the wrong words I put in at first.

The puzzle is noticeable for the paralleled long Downs in each quadrant, esp the two 8s in the upper right and lower left corners.


1. "__ the Line": Johnny Cash hit: I WALK. A modernized version. Definitely not traditional.

6. Beatles beat provider: STARR. I confidently put Ringo in there first.

11. "Gosh!": GEE.

14. Trailer follower: MOVIE. Kind of clever, you see the trailer first before the movie comes out, or before the movie starts. They are called trailers though, because they used to show them at the end of movies. Not marketing genius at the time.

15. She played Adrian in "Rocky": TALIA. Shire.

16. Cellular transmitter: RNA. and 52D. Cellular transmitter: PHONE. Clue echo, or clecho a la Dennis.

19. A storm might delay it: Abbr.: ARR. Arrival.

20. Sailor's rear: AFT.

21. Sorrowful comment: PITY. I took this in the sense of showing pity, not actually using the word in a sentence.

22. Congo neighbor: GABON.

24. Coveted role: LEAD. Wanted to think of some specific play or movie instead of just a general term.

29. Relevant, in law: AD REM. To the matter. Get to the point, no digression.

31. Tuxedos, often: RENTALS. I wore one once, at my brother's wedding. I don't even own a suit, myself.

32. Power source size: AAA. Battery.

34. Bolt, e.g.: EAT. And 2D. Gobbled: WOLFED. Swallow hurriedly, with little or no chewing.

35. Acquire: GET.

41. Case, for instance: Abbr.: SYN. Case and instance are synonyms: In this case; in this instance.

42. Apt. ad spec: RMS. Apartment, rooms, abbreviations.

43. Middle-earth monster: ORC. From JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings novels.

44. Followed, as an impulse: ACTED ON.

47. Respectful refusal: NO SIR.

55. Chihuahua child: NINO. Spanish.

56. B on a table: BORON. A chemical symbol on the table of elements.

57. High, to Henri: HAUT. French

59. Sheet with beats, for short: EKG. A chart of heart electrical activity. From German: Elektrokardiogramm

60. Filmmaker Lee: ANG. Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger, The Hulk, Brokeback Mountain. Can't pigeonhole him.

65. Ball-bearing device: TEE. Golf. I was looking for something automotive here instead.

66. Queen's mate: DRONE. Bees. Hi Melissa!

67. Reason for a raise: MERIT. I make money the old-fashioned way. I earn it. There are older professions though, and I should stop short of the obvious here.

68. Marshall Plan pres.: HST. Harry S Truman. His middle initial didn't actually stand for anything, but it was given to him in an attempt to please both grandfathers: Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. Barely born and already a politician.

69. Sighted: AIMED.

70. Thicke and Rickman: ALANS.


1. Savanna leaper: IMPALA. Or a model of Chevy to go along with the car theme.

3. 2009 James Cameron blockbuster: AVATAR.

4. Burning: LIT.

5. Medieval castle tower: KEEP. Used as a dungeon or a stronghold.

6. Clinton's department: STATE. Hillary.

7. Tucker of country: TANYA.

8. "Float like a butterfly" boxer: ALI.

9. Accel.'s opposite, in music: RIT. Accelerando, ritardando. Tempo change terms.

10. Flash Gordon weapon: RAY GUN. This is probably the inspiration for the SDI program (Reagan/Star Wars). OK, I'm so not funny.

11. Random assortments: GRAB BAGS.

12. Course taker: ENROLLEE.

13. Not kidding: EARNEST. It's important to be this.

18. It drops with fog: Abbr.: VIS. Visibility. Might have been temperature: TMP.

23. Tsp. or tbsp.: AMT. Amount measurements.

25. Jerry's comedy partner: DEAN. Martin and Lewis. And 63D. Jerry's partner: TOM. Another clecho.

27. __ II razor: TRAC.

28. Fashionably dated: RETRO.

30. Gym safety item: MAT. I had PAD here first.

33. Feathered flier: ARROW. I put AVIAN in after getting the leading A.

34. Trains overhead: ELS.

36. Twisters: CYCLONES. Greek kyklon "moving in a circle, whirling around"

37. In line with the goal: ON TARGET.

38. Defunct sci-fi magazine: OMNI. Why we're alone in the universe. A short story that appeared in the magazine. I used to subscribe...

39. Vase relative: URN.

40. Clickable pic: ICON. Greek: eikon "likeness, image, portrait"

41. Day of rest: SABBATH.

45. Fishing village that became Tokyo: EDO. Picture from 1865-66

46. "Gracias" response: DE NADA. Spanish: thank you; it's nothing.

48. High chain: SIERRA. Mountain chain.

49. Finalizes, as a cel: INKS IN. Hand-colors one frame of animation, (of which you need anywhere from 10-30 for just one second of film).

50. Word-for-word reference?: ROGETS. Thesaurus. Used to substitute words, as in a homework assignment.

53. Like cornstalks: EARED. Seemed too obvious to be correct.

54. Wish one hadn't: RUE.

58. Adult cable rating: TV-MA. The following program is intended for mature audiences. Viewer discretion advised.

62. Alleged spoon-bender Geller: URI.

64. Sushi fish: EEL. Unagi.

Answer Grid.



Dennis said...

Good morning, Al, C.C. and gang - boy, we're on a string of really enjoyable puzzles this week. "Doppler" came up with a very clever theme for this one as well as some nicely deceptive clues. Hopefully, he'll stop by and tell us the inspiration for the theme.

'Plate Vanity' made the theme apparent early on. As with Al, I confidently put 'Ringo' in for 6A which was quickly corrected with Clinton's 'State' Department. I liked the clecho of 'Cellular' in 16A & 52D. Favorite clues were 'Sheets with beats', 'Ball-bearing device' and 'Word-for-word reference?' My favorite theme answer was 'Control Cruise'.

Al, outstanding job on the blog today; loved the vanity plate link. I'm always trying to figure out the clever ones when I see them around here. And I too subscribed to Omni when it first came out. Really good stuff for the first year, but then it seemed to run out of freshness.
Today is Teddy Bear Day.

Did You Know?:

- Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space because passing wind in a space suit damages it. (Not to mention the fact that it would probably linger a while...)

- Virginia Woolf wrote all her books standing up.

- During his entire lifetime, Herman Melville's timeless classic of the sea, Moby Dick, only sold fifty copies.

Barry G. said...

Morning, all!

Great puzzle with a great theme. And yes, lots of tricky clues. Once again, I was completely fooled by "Case, for instance" [I don't know if we've had that exact clue before, but definitely similar ones and they get me every time].

Like Al said, much of my time was spent entering and then erasing answers. WOW instead of GEE, ALAS instead of PITY, RINGO instead of STARR.

Oh -- and I also used to subscribe to OMNI as a callow youth (although I always thought of it as more of a science magazine than just sci-fi). I became a bit disillusioned with it when I found out who the publisher was, though (Bob Guccione of "Penthouse" fame). It probably shouldn't have mattered to me, but it did...

Dudley said...

Hello Puzzlers - Another clever theme! First theme fill was SEAT RUMBLE, enough to figger out the scheme, giving a real boost in some areas. That NW was empty a while, with just AFT to anchor it. Didn't connect Cameron to AVATAR (gorgeous visuals, not much script in that movie). Hand up for RINGO.

Speaking of movies, I never heard of TRAILER until perhaps the late 70's when Monty Python produced an album titled "The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail". For years afterward I assumed "trailer" was British usage. Only lately have I heard it hereabouts. I wish they'd come up with a better word.

I agree with Dennis' favorite clues. Control Cruise is terrific! Thanks for an enjoyable write-up Al. And Doppler: Good work, send more!

Argyle said...

Good Morning All,

I didn't subscribe to Omni but I did drive one. (Check out my avatar) I wanted OMNIVORE for a vainity plate but it was already taken by somebody in Brooklyn.

creature said...

Good Morning C.C.,Al and all,

Al, had fun with your write-up.
First, what is'unagi' following 'eel'? I guess you could say that sums up my sentiments exactly on eating eel. The Omni article was definitely creative.

My,oh,my! What a puzzle!
Let's talk about those clues:'feathered flier'.'high chain'.word for word reference','ball bearing device','trailer follower'.'sheet w/beats' -yes, makes my heart beat faster- dangerously fun.

Had tornadoes, at first for cyclone; and 'adres' for 'adrem'.
Loved the theme-very funny-clever- yet overlooked the fact they were all car related.

My favorite fills were: 'wolfed'and 'grabbags'

This was a top-notch effort. Thanks,"Doppler".

Al said...

@Barry, re: Omni. It's OK, I only read it for the pictures.

Al said...

@creature, unagi is the Japanese word for freshwater eel, and it is what you would see at a sushi bar. Apparently they are somewhat endangered by the amount of consumption, natural populations are down something like 80%. They are also farmed, but the concentration of that causes pollution and parasites to leak out and pollute the surrounding environment, very much the same as salmon farming. Plus, farmed fish get fed either other fish or food they wouldn't otherwise eat, changing the nutrient value of what gets sold, not to mention being raised in a polluted environment.

creature said...

Al- Thanks. To continue with my ignorance,are you saying freshwater eel is from the 'farmed' variety; hence,served in bars versus the oceanic variety,which is endangered?
I thought eels needed to live in saltwater.

My comment sounds like 'Who's on first?'

Al said...

@creature, saltwater eels are anago, and they are different than unagi, just like there are freshwater fish and saltwater fish species.

HeartRx said...

Good Morning Al et al.

GEE, I loved this puzzle. Hand up for Ringo instead of STARR. And hand up for all the fav clues / answers.

Creature, I also had "Adres" instead of ADREM. It somehow looked right, but my old Latin book revealed my error. "Rem" is the accusative case of "res". When used with "Ad", as in this case, the correct case must be used for the noun. Case closed!! ;-D

Husker Gary said...

Good Morning from my hopefully dry home. Our roofers had all my shingles off but only 1/2 back on and the rest had new tar paper. We then got .7" of rain on that. It is 8 am and they are back at it.

The theme escaped me until the blog and that was embarrassing but the fills were fun and easy anyway.

I of course put in RINGO (the luckiest freakin' man in Rock and Roll history!!) first. Does he send Pete Best Xmas cards?

Should we just seek RNA first in every puzzle because we know it's in there?

I am playing golf now in my retirement and ball-bearing device made me laugh out loud when it came to me!

MERIT raises are not allowed in my teaching profession. If you don't get fired and keep taking worthless college courses, you get a raise. The guy phonin' it in gets the same as the ones that change kids' lives.

Queen's mate was fun because I talked to a bee keeper at the state fair last week. He told me he lets the bees leave the hive at night outside because they hold in waste products while in the hive in the interests of cleanliness and 99% return. Talk about GPS systems!

creature said...

HeartRx-Just in case, I forgot..Thanks

Al-So no saltwater eels are consumed at sushi bars..Thanks for your extreme patience.

thehondohurricane said...

I do not like snakes, so I do not like eels. Thankfully, I've never been put in a position of having eel put in front of me for a meal. I'm sure I would go ape. Eel was a popular dish in the medieval days and was normally served either baked or as a stew.

I remember rumble seats well. They were then, and would be today, a fun ride. Plus you could have a private conversation w/o mom and dad listening in.

Like many of you, I wanted to use Ringo. The southeast corner was almost my undoing. Roget, EKG, and "inks in" were swags, but they worked! I've never heard of Gabon, kept wanting to use Ghana.

All in all, an enjoyable puzzle with a lot of clever clues.

carol said...

Hi everyone,

Al, great job...I always learn something from your comments. Also, thanks for the explanation of eels...not that I would ever think of eating one!

I didn't have too much trouble with this puzzle, got stuck in the SW corner for a few minutes.

I wanted to put RINGO in but when I looked at 'Tucker of country' (and actually knew who she was - gasp!!), I knew STARR was the correct fill.

1D threw me for a while, I was thinking of the state of Georgia, and wondered what sort of 'leapers' they were hiding down there. Those Southern fella's are tricky.

If I watched more TV, I might have known what 58D was but alas.

What was wrong with Virginia Woolf?

Spitzboov said...

Good morning Al and all. Thanks for the great write-up. Happy Rosh Hashanah to those who celebrate it.

I though Doppler constructed a pretty neat puzzle. Good clever/deceptive clueing. The instances of clechoing were also entertaining. This time I got the theme early. WAGS included AD REM, DENADA, and SIERRA. BORON and EDO were gimmes. Liked clueing for AAA, ARROW, and TEE. BLADE WIPER threw me for a while because I was trying to make some sort of 'animal' connection to the chamois.

Also liked the TALIA/TANYA and PHONE/DRONE crosses.

Freshwater EELs are a catadromous fish - they spawn in the ocean and spend their adulthood in lakes, rivers and estuaries. The National Geographic has a good article on "The Mystery of Eels" starting on pg. 122 of the September 2010 issue.

Jerome said...

ORNAMENT HOOD- Gangsta wearing a lot of bling?

C.C. Burnikel said...

Both anago and unagi are used in Sushi. But unagi is fattier (therefore tastier) and is often glazed & grilled with soy based sweet sauce. The smell is intoxicating. It's often eaten over a bed of rice, like this. Delicious! Nice to "see" you, by the way.

Almost forgot. Happy 38th Anniversary!

Bill G. said...

Hi everybody! I enjoyed this puzzle and especially the write-up. Thanks for the story from OMNI. Very entertaining!

For Jerry's partner, I started with BEN. Didn't work out. I also had RINGO instead of STARR. Two very clever clues were Case, for instance for SYN and Ball bearing device for TEE. Clever stuff.

In our family growing up, we never used the word 'trailer.' The things at the end of movies (along with the news reel and cartoon) were called 'previews.'

Streetwalking Hip Cat said...

To Mr. Blogger AL: you mentioned in the answer to the clue "Merit" ... that you 'earned' your money and 'raises', unlike those in the worlds oldest profession.

The world's oldest profession(als) 'earn' their money too ... though it's in short intervals... and in 'bits' and 'pieces'... and it most certainly involves 'raises' in every instance. Just because it's 'blue' (collar) work, does not mean its in any way less challenging. It involves 'donkeys', 'needles' and enough heart ache to damage your 'a-cute angina'. Its is a dirty, messy business, but somebody's got to do it...

Dennis said...

Damn, I knew my sister would check in...

kazie said...

Thanks C.C.!
I just had to stop writing this because the kids called from Germany to wish us a happy anniversary too. They're still looking for an apartment. Several options but of course none are perfect, and meantime they are staying with her grandparents, with whom I was already skyping when they came home and called. Nothing like doing three things at once!

Hand up for Ringo, and there were other names I simply couldn't have come up with were it not for perps. The first theme clue I got was CONTROL CRUISE and that gave it away for me, but the others simply wouldn't come until I came here to cheat from the first part of Al's excellent write-up. I was never aware of rumble seats if they ever existed in Oz, and there were a lot of names in today's CW.

For some reason I also had AD RES, so couldn't think of MAT. Also missed rIt, eKG, inK In, MerIT and tvMa, which I've never watched or noted.

Not an easy Thursday for me.

kazie said...

Forgot to mention that in Oz, "trailers" were called "shorts", in my day anyway. Things are getting so americanized now you never know. But if someone asked about a certain movie (called a picture show), you could say: "I saw the shorts and thought it might be interesting."

Husker Gary,
It always griped me too, that working my ass off didn't make a bit of difference. I still got paid like the teacher who sat on his fat ass all day and didn't give a damn about the kids or whether they learned anything. At least now there are other ways to move up the pay scale here in WI, other than fattening the university revenues doing useless ed courses to maintain a teaching license.

Clear Ayes said...

Good Morning All, I had to do some jumping around to get the theme answers, but (36A) CONTROL CRUISE was the gimme that gave me the rest. I happened to be watching Oprah the day of that episode. Oprah looked embarrassed and he looked ridiculous.

I still got an "Aha" moment when I came to (61A) AUTO REVERSE and realized that it was all automobile related. Fun stuff.

I didn't get (29A) AD REM at all. I have to leave those legal fill to Lemonade and Hahtool.

Although it seems backward, (14A) "trailer" was easy. I don't think I've ever called those little MOVIE teases "previews".

Argyle, I too had a Dodge OMNI(for a short time) somewhere in the mid 80's. It was the worst piece of junk I ever owned. Everything seemed to go wrong with it.

Whether real, or made up, it was an interesting comment @11:32. I know many think of prostitution as a victimless crime, but it is most often the women, young girls AND young boys who are victimized. Beside being dirty and messy, it can be extremely dangerous.

Al said...

At the risk of touching on politics here, which I would normally never do, the thought occurs to me that if schools were privatized instead of run by the government, that merit raises would then be possible...

Husker Gary said...

LIGHTHEAD - svelt lettuce
SHIELDWIND - job of blocking flatulence
JACKCAR - Label showing it was not Jill's vehicle
SEATBUCKET - container for old viewing perches
CAPHUB - head to a lid
SHIFTGEAR - change subject
BELTFAN - attack on a supporter
RESTHEAD - last act before slumber
WHEELSTEERING - showing big shot the way
BELTSEAT - strike a chair?
HOLDERCUP - 'enry might do this to Liza's tea vessel
DOORBACK - might have an exit sign above it
FOCUSFORD - concentrate President Gerald!

Damn, I've got too much time waiting for my roofers to finish!

Dennis said...

Beside being dirty and messy, it can be extremely dangerous.

Well, there goes my afternoon.

Kaz, Happy Anniversary - that's one hell of an accomplishment in this day and age.

Husker Gary said...

Kazie, When merit pay is broached here in Huskerland (and elsewhere), our professional organizations beat it down like "whack a mole".

As I see it, the main job of the NEA and NSEA is to defend mediocrity and endorse every candidate with DEM after their name (sorry for the political reference!).

Seldom Seen said...

Lots of other car references today:

IMPALA: Chevrolet Impala
OMNI: Dodge Omni (yes, pure junk!)
ARROW: Plymouth Arrow and Pierce-Arrow
CYCLONE: Mercury Cyclone
RENTALS: Hertz, Avis...
AAA: Car Assoc.
RUE: Where Citroens are driven
DRONE: The sound of an Omni's engine
LEAD: Gasoline additive for Cyclones

any more??

Spitzboov said...

Interesting article from the Omaha papers. "Husker" and "Boomer" are both mentioned:-)

Kazie, congratulations on your anniversary.

Husker Gary said...

TIRESPARE - pick up the 7 - 10 with a Goodyear
TANKFUEL - diesel for a Sherman
PLUGSPARK - Tesla's defense against his own invention
LIGHTTAIL - ignite kite from bottom
ROOFSUN - radiation on top of house

My God, stop me!! Donde esta Felipe?

kazie said...

Al and Husker,
Unfortunately, there's another problem with merit pay, totally unrelated to politics. That is that whenever the topic comes up, it's always a discussion of basing it on test results. What is tested is only ever the core subjects. What happens if you teach something else?--As long as those other subjects still exist, and they're disappearing fast in most schools.

To base it on the principal's evaluations is equally pointless. I never had an evaluation by anyone here who had a clue as to what I was doing in French or German classes. I had the impression the ones who knew least, evaluated the most harshly to protect their own egos.

Only in Oz, where they are done by state inspectors who are specialists in the field they evaluate, did I feel that either praise or criticisms were made with any justification or impartiality.

Thanks for the anniversary wishes. Now we just have to make it to the 40th!

Husker Gary said...

Kazie, I've had this argument for 40 years and appreciate your point of view. Here in NE schools that do not reach standards are getting their names in the paper, principals are being fired and curricula altered as a result of that. Times they are achangin'! It isn't perfect but the process is very different than "it used tuh wuz!"

I'm over my allotment for the day and will sign out!

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the pretty and witty Jeannie??

Bill G. said...

I agree with all of your comments about merit pay for teachers. I was a good teacher IMO. I was lucky though because our district had mostly good teachers I thought. I think it should be easier to fire a poor teacher. However, there's another valid side to the discussion. It's difficult to come up with a fair system to distinguish between different quality teachers. Principals alone can't be trusted to do a good job. There are plenty of poor administrators, sometimes promoted because they weren't good teachers. Parents often judge teachers unfairly if their son or daughter is having trouble for the first time in an algebra class. After spending a lot of time in another teacher's classroom, I think I could make a good judgment but I would have a hard time explaining to someone else how to do it, I guess because it's somewhat subjective. My friend, Ralph, and I often discuss this while we're riding out bikes along the Pacific. I think we'd both be OK with it if someone came up with a valid and fair way to rate teachers' ability to teach, and as I see that Kazie just said, that wasn't just based on test scores. At least in our district, that didn't happen.

JD said...

Good morning Al, C.C., and all,

What a terrific puzzle today, so many clever clues!!! Favorites were high chain ( I got it) and B on the table( didn't get).I realized what the theme was as soon as I filled in control cruise, but it didn't help me complete blade wiper or auto reverse.

Husker, you crack me up...very nice additions.

Al, great job. Even though I like most of T.Cruise's movies, I watched that clip and laughed.I had forgotten about the rumors. I also was watching Oprah that day and I was so embarrassed for him.

When we were in Kruger National Park last Nov., impalas were by far the most abundant of all the animals. They were in little herds everywhere.

Happy anniversary Kazie!Would eel be your 1st or 2nd choice for dinner?

g8rmomx2 said...

Hi Al C.C. and all:

Great puzzle. I had State in and Tanya, so didn't make that mistake of putting Ringo in at first. Great puzzle. Again, lots of fresh clues, so enjoyable.

Kasie: Happy Anniversary to you! Wonderful!!!

A great day to all!

Streetwalking Cat, again said...

Since my first post elicited a couple of response ... I have re-thought about about my earlier posting... and I feel I have 'wronged' Bloggo-issimo AL unfairly...

By the way, IMHO, Al, your blog and comments were fantastic and very enjoyable ... in case that gets 'lost' in the rest of the commentary...

To be accurate, Al wrote 'the world's oldest profession', without actually mentioning it. There is some confusion between historians and archeologists as to whether call girls preceded money lending as the world's oldest profession. To be sure, money lending requires the discovery , or rather the invention of money... ( coins - Lydia,Asia minor, electrum stater ~650 BC, India, punch marked silver, Karshyapan, pre-Maurya dynasty ~ 580 BC, paper currency, China ~ 960 AD ). But, on the other hand, no call girl worth her talent would have worked on the 'barter' system - I, for one, would not have worked for 'peanuts', ... or for 'nuts' of any other kind.

If Al meant money lending, as the world's oldest profession, then we ( other than our banking friends ... ) could all heartily agree with him - that (a) they do not 'earn' their money and (b) they have raised their professional status to a 'science', what with all the 'hand outs', 'bail outs' and all...

JimmyB said...

Husker Gary @ 12:15 and 12:43 - Very amusing. You should look into a second career in crossword construction and cluing. And you're right: WAY too much time on your hands!

I had the same "initial guess was wrong" errors as everyone else. Great job, Al.

creature said...

Bill G.- hand up for 'preview'.

All ad res vs ad rem folks: read HeartRx's comment@8:35 AM.

Why do I think I know Streetwalking Hip Cat?

Seen- Wow! You did a super job-LMAO on your second to last entry.

Hondohurricane-I'm stunned that you remember a rumble seat. Did your family own vintage cars?

Happy Anniversay, Kazie! and many more

Where is Tinbeni?

C.C.- Thanks for your explanation and mention. Aroma is a big deal for me,when it comes to food, so maybe if you fixed it,I would relent.

I might be close to my limit today , also.

Anonymous said...

I miss Tinbeni's witty blog too.

Anonymous said...

Not too obvious.

Jayce said...

Thanks, Al, for an interesting writeup. Always fun to see which ones were the gimmes and which ones were the stumpers.

Kazie, happy aniversary. I trust the kids will get settled in soon.

Bill G, we always called them previews too. Kazie, to us shorts were the 'short subjects' that were presented before the feature, usually news reels and cartoons.

Fun puzzle today. I had much of the same reactions that you all did. Many many smiles and chuckles. Only one head-scratcher, namely SYN, which Al explained nicely.

Interesting how the welfare of the space suits was of greater importance than the nostrils of the astronauts.

Husker Gary, is your roof okay?

Best wishes to you all.

windhover said...

Dennis @ 11:33:
I think it's official; we now have one of everything here. And I can't say that I disagree with anything he/she said, especially in the 2nd post.

As for the teacher quality/tenure argument: it's true there are mediocre (or worse) teachers, just as there are mediocre doctors, lawyers, farmers, and crossword puzzle constructors (WRW). But until Americans decide they actually want their children to get a real education, rather than a large dose of conformity and vocational training, and then back that up by taxing themselves to pay for it, mediocrity will rule. It's also a case of "be careful what you ask for"; there is no guarantee, in fact it is doubtful, that giving administrators or anyone else the power to fire teachers would result in getting rid of poor teachers. Most likely, the teachers who resist conformity and teach children how to learn and think for themselves would be the ones booted out. Full disclosure: I am not and have never been a teacher (except for teaching patience to several women), but I have been a student my entire life. The first 20 years of my life were spent being a pain in the ass to my teachers, the rest in realizing the debt I owe them, including the poor ones. Most of the problems in public education have nothing to do with teacher quality. If parents send a child to school who they have prepared for learning, that child will learn from anyone. If they don't, Albert F'ing Einstein couldn't teach them. This is not a demrepub or a libservative issue; it's all about the quality of life and culture in American homes, which in way too many ranges from pathetic to apathetic. End of rant, your mileage may vary.
Long Time Lurker:
Your serve, hope that wasn't too "meanspirited". I mean well.

Just the Facts, maam said...

If we are going to discuss the educational system in the US, IMHO, I think we should be aware of the following facts from prior studies...

1. The expenditure-per-student in real cost-of-living adjusted dollars, in the US, is arguably the highest in the world. This includes salaries, building, transportation and technology.

2. The amount of time US students put up in the classroom, on their academic studies, is in the bottom quartile amongst other school systems, in the world. Students in Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and even in western Europe spend an equivalent of 29 to 44 percent more time at their studies. This is a disadvantage that no average ( or above-average ... ) American child
can 'make up'.

3. Both Pew polls and those of the US Dept of Education, have shown that an 'average' parent ( especially single parents ) does not take enough interest in their ward's education ... as others around the world.

4. This is amongst the reasons why - Johnny cant read, or do math and doesnt give a 'hoot' about the sciences and the arts.

5. Teachers are one variable in a complex equation which determines a child's success ... the others are parental involvement, the expectations of the child's society and environment and finally, the most important, ... the child's respect, appreciation of the system and the teachers, and determination and perseverance to succeed.

creature said...

Just the facts, maam- On your second point,are Americans the only ones to indulge in summer vacations, or for that matter,'spring breaks'? and I wonder what difference this would make in the reported results.

Anonymous said...

Hello Al and all my xword solving buddies,

Great write-up today! I really liked the theme answers, although I didn't get the car reference until I read the blog. Once I get the answers, I don't really look at them any further. They all made me chuckle, especially CONTROLCRUISE.

Hand up for Ringo instead of STARR. As for trailer follower, I immediately thought of MOVIE, but let the perps fill in before I committed to that. Had to smile at the EKG clue once I figured it out.

The queen/DRONE clue made me laugh. There is a new animated show called "The Cat in the Hat Knows about That" in which the Cat teaches science to his young friends with the help of Thing 1 and Thing 2. I watched an episode to see if it was appropriate for my 3 year old (she may not "get" it all, but it will definitely introduce some new concepts to her). The episode I saw was about bees and they were trying to figure out what the queen did all day. Interesting, especially for someone who knows a thing or two about bees. My grandfather kept them and I learned quite a bit.

When I got to the first Jerry's partner clue, my first thought was TOM, so when I got to the second one I was sure it would be something else.

Never heard of OMNI, but thoroughly enjoyed the article. Thanks for the link.

Kazie-Happy Anniversary! What an amazing day for you!

Now for my medical moment: I have partial previa (placenta implanted too low) and am on full bedrest for at least another week. On the positive side, the baby is growing right on target AND my darling husband bought me a laptop. So hopefully I can get back in the loop with you all. I do so enjoy your comments and explanations of clues/answers.

Best wishes, all.

LTL said...

Windhover: Not meanspirited at all! lol..


I agree 100% that the thirst for education begins at home.

I disagree 100% that (more)taxes are required to improve the system.

My mother cared enough to pay her property taxes to fund a "needs improvement" school district and still pay for private schooling for me and my two siblings.

One memory: Comparing spelling texts with my older(1 grade) neighbor and saying "hey, we have the same spelling book!"

Just the facts, again said...

To the intelligent ( and if I may say, pretty - without appearing to be sexist ...) Creature:

On summer vacations ... there is no doubt that the number of days 'at school' needs to be lengthened ... an average school year, by state law, stands at less than 180 days ...but the problem is unfortunately much more than one factor.

Somebody said -" To every problem, there is a quick, simple and straight forward solution - the 'wrong' one."

It is a typical US practice to throw money at every problem, and 'hope' it goes away, ... until the next election ... when it becomes somebody else's problem.

If money could buy us ambition, hard work and IQ, we would have by far the smartest kids on this planet. Kids work hard for several reasons -( See Mazlov's heirarchies ...) - they work because of fear, desperation for ( future ) jobs, because their parents, their teachers and their PEERS (!) and society expects them... because their own self esteem demands they excel or atleast try their best. And when they succeed, they do so ... DESPITE their parents, their schools and their teachers and many other disadvantages.

Unfortunately, in the richest society, the world has ever known such as ours, food, shelter and money are a given ... and the society is uncaring about scholarship ... and peers are typically contemptuous of achievement... thus we have this mess.

And the teachers are the most convenient bogeymen around ...

LTL said...

To clarify:

My neighbor was in 7th grade at the local public school learning the same vocabulary I was learning in 6th grade at the local private school.

Later we were in the same chemistry class in high school(his parents decided it was too dangerous to send him to the local public high school and decided to pay their taxes for a service they could not use and pay for private schooling) and it was surprising how much more science education I had received!

windhover said...

Just the facts:
With all due respect, you don't get out enough. There are large segments of our population (especially recently) for whom food, shelter, and money are NOT a given.
As a farmer, one of the cliche statistics I deplore most is that "the average American family spends less than 10% of their income for food". This may well be true for a family
In the median income range, but for those in the bottom quintile (a growing number), the percentage is more like 30-40 %.
The same is true of education. Yes, we spend (even in Ky) huge amounts of money on our public schools. But there are schools where the facilities are substandard, books are outdated or must be shared, etc, etc.
One last point: more days doesn't mean more learning. In my day (born in 1945), school ended by Memorial Day and never started before Labor Day. People who attended those schools built the country that poor education, among other ills, is slowly eroding.
Again, stated with respectful disagreement.
(LTL is watching me.)
And, I'm done on this subject.

Husker Gary said...

Jayce, thanks for the inquiry about my roof. Juan and Felipe and 10 other hombres just left. It turns out that the .7" of rain came while we were in Tennessee last week when the roof was still intact and not last night.

The cost/pupil in the country is exorbitant but it goes to more and more professionals serving smaller and smaller populations - speech, OT, PT, autistic kids, gifted kids, blind, deaf, et al. There but for the grace of God goes my kid but some of these people getting my wage and see 5 kids/week and the cost goes up. That is probably sets our country apart but altruism is expensive! Plus we are so defensive about our litigious society, we have administrators spending their days doing anything but monitoring instruction. If you ain't sendin' 'em problems, you're doin' a hell of job, Brownie (see, I can poke fun at W too).

Give me a group of kids and tell me what you want them to know and get out of my way. I'll move heaven and earth to get there and I am narcissistic enough to think I can get to anyone. A good principal can be very effective if he isn't filling out forms. counting paper clips and being intimidated by tenure. To paraphrase Potter Stewart's comment on pornography, "I don't know what good teaching is, but I know it when I see it!" Setting standards and holding teachers and the NEA to them is a darn good start.

Two Nebraska schools who did not meet state standards last year fired their superintendents as required for getting federal funds to fix the problems. Guess who both districts put in charge of disbursing those new federal funds? YOU GUESSED IT! The two guys who were failures as administrators. KAFKA COULDN'T WRITE THIS CRAP!!

Dennis said...

Husker Gary, sorry, gotta end it for today; you're at six posts now.

Great debate by all, though; it's what separates this blog from the others.

Lucina said...

I hope you had a good day, Al, C.C. and fellow bloggers.

Tremendous blogging, Al.

Sad events bring me late to this convivial group; a distant cousin, 29 years old, was killed when a backhoe driver failed to see him and crushed him; he had bent down and to lay a stake and was out of sight. The funeral was
this morning; a throng of his young friends attended as well as our vast, extended family.

And since it's Thursday, I have the baby here.

But I did manage to finish this wonderful puzzle. It didn't take long, but with many tricky clues, the eraser got a workout.

My first theme fill was CONTROLCRUISE and as I had VANITY, the theme reveled itself. Well done, Doppler!

The NE corner took longest; first ATTENDEE seemed right on 12D but nothing else worked. After much musingm muttering and erasing, it fell in nicely.

Well said on the state of education and our expectations, etc. Hear! Hear!

Happy anniversary! I hope you are out celebrating.

I'm glad you are resting. How long before the blessed event?

Must go now. I hope we see John "Doppler" Schiff again!

Have a good evening, everyone.

Jeanne said...

I am a retired teacher from a very large inner-city high school. (About 4200 students) The school had advanced placement courses, a swimming pool, huge gym, TV studio run by students, excellent vo-tech program, and many other advantages not seen in our smaller county schools. However, our graduation rate was an atrocious 35%. Many factors entered into this result including some very inept teachers.

One of the biggest reasons for the lack of success in an inner-city school is the fact that our 15 or 16 year old children are having children of their own which keeps the cycle of poverty going strong. I taught about 125 students in any one day. You are all probably familiar with “Parent Night” when you visit with your child’s teachers. I was lucky to have 4 or 5 parents in total come to the school that night; sometimes only 2 or 3 parents. Does that give you an idea of a major problem in our education system? Should it be easier to fire incompetent teachers, absolutely. We can’t fire parents, although there were times I wanted to, but we have to really work on getting our parents and students to truly value education.

carol said...

Kazie, happy anniversary to you both, so nice your kids called on your special day.

Vettedoe, glad you and the little one are ok....just follow the Dr's orders:) and I'm sure all will be well. Will you have to do the bed-rest thingy the whole pregnancy?

I canned 14 qts and 4 pints of tomatoes today...pears are next in a few days/weeks. Always glad to get it done and know we are set for the next year. Lots of work, but very rewarding too.

Bob said...

A really clever puzzle with some fun clues, like 14A (Trailer follower), 56A (B on a table), 65A (Ball-bearing device), 33D (Feathered flier), and 48D (High chain). The theme clues were also fun. Took me 27 minutes to complete.

thehondohurricane said...

To Creature

Yep,but they weren't vintage when my family owned them!

kazie said...

I'm glad you are being taken care of. Don't do anything you don't have to!

So sorry about the loss of that young life. It sounds similar to the circumstances in which a cousin of mine was killed a number of years ago while still in his 30's, leaving a young wife and three little kids behind.

Thanks again for all the good wishes. We are planning an outing later on, since DH had to be out of town all day today on business and won't feel like doing much on his return. Maybe tomorrow night!

As has already been noted, fixing the education system will be complicated. I disagree that we have too few days in school though. In Germany it's only about 5 days more, but they break up the year more, with three weeks at Christmas, two at Easter, 6-7 in the summer, and several shorter breaks during the year, long weekends, etc.

French research done on the academic year concluded that 9 weeks on and two weeks off throughout the year, with a longer break in the summer worked best to avoid burnout and student fatigue. My experience here is that the long summer makes the first month of the fall semester simply a time for reteaching all that's forgotten.

The main problem we have is that teachers are not given enough respect by the rest of our society: compare that with other nations. Education is not valued here: you only have to listen to the way people speak--they are proud of their bad grammar and uninformed outbursts. Anyone sounding "educated" is made fun of. Money won't fix attitudes. Perhaps we need classes for parents in parenting.

Bob said...

That classic fraud/con-man, Uri Geller, makes another appearance in today's crossword puzzle, presumably because he has a short three-letter name that makes a good crossword fill. Here's a link, if you're interested:

Uri Geller

creature said...

Just the facts,maam- you said "decided to pay their taxes for a service they could not use..."

Oh,but they are using these services.
We must realize that the education of each child is a benefit to our community now and in the future.


Lucina- I'm so sorry to hear this sad news. Mt thoughts are with you all .

Vettedoe- Glad you have a laptop. Now stay cool and calm.

Dot said...

As usual, on Thursday, the names did me in. I thought the theme was clever, after I finally figured it out.

Regarding the current education, have you seen the test making the e-mail rounds? It is the 1895 final exam for eighth grade from Salina, KS. It took 5 hours and covered Grammer, Arithmetic, U.S. History, Geography and Orthography. I doubt that today's eigth graders could answer a tenth of the questions. However, one thing we must recognize is that many, many boys and girls did not stay in school through the eighth grade in 1895. A third grade education was quite common. I taught for awhile in a private school and almost all of our students who transferred to public school would come back to thank us for the foundation they had rec'd in English and Math because they were always so far ahead of their classmates in those subjects.


LTL said...

Creature: That comment about taxes was mine. I see your point. It is like helping to pay for roads I do not use! But, I know the roads are there if I need them. I guess it's just upsetting that we pay for a product that not only subpar but also dangerous.

Btw, i'll save Dennis the hassle...please keep you postings to 5 per day...

Very "educational" debate today! And very civil and non-political.(Well, as much as possible)

JohnDopp said...

Hi folks,
Glad you enjoyed the puzzle!

This theme tickled me. I happened to be thrashing through a vaguely car-related theme when footage of the infamous couch-jumping scene popped up on my TV... I glanced down at my list of theme fodder, spotted CRUISE CONTROL, and voila, a theme was born. Three cheers for synchronicity!

I'm really pleased that this puzzle was my solo debut. It presented nice opportunities for sneaky clues (which I looooooove), and the theme snapped into place quite well.

The clechoes were a nifty bonus that evolved effortlessly. In fact, in my original draft, [Queen's mate] was a clecho for DRONE and TOM, but cartoon violence was a clear winner over obscure cat terms.

A quick shout-out is in order: Rich Norris provided quite a bit of editorial assistance and polishing to make this ready for prime time, and Doug Peterson's guidance has been invaluable. This puzzle wouldn't have made it to the newsstands without their help. Many thanks!

-- JohnDopp

Seldom Seen said...

Dennis: your Phillies are healthy and back in first.

meanwhile, my Reds are down to 3 outfielders...that's correct THREE outfielders! i guess i shouldn't have tooted my horn so here goes:

the reds suck...Aroldis Chapman is over-rated...we don't stand a chance...the Cardinals are a better team and will catch and pass us before the season is over! O.K., now we'll see if reverse psychology works...

Dennis said...

John, thanks for checking in with your insight - nice bit of serendipity with the Cruise video.
Also, it's pretty apparent that we're all looking forward to your next offering.

seen, hope the reverse psychology works for you; I'd love to see a Reds/Phillies matchup.

Anonymous said...

Lucina - I am so sorry you had such a rough day. I hope that you and the rest of the family can find some measure of peace.

To answer your question, I am due late March, but since I will have to have a C-section (b/c I did with the last one), I may end up delivering in early March.

Carol - I hope not to be on bedrest for the next 6 months, but it is certainly a possibility. I will do whatever is necessary to deliver a healthy baby.

Creature & Kazie - Thank you for the good thoughts.

Now, for my thoughts on the whole education issue: I think that the entire school system needs a good overhaul, but it will take a very strong person/group of people to bring about that change. I wish that I had the answers. I know that I will do my best to prepare my children for the world that awaits them. I also know that this can be a difficult task.

I was just out of high school when I had my son. I was not ready to raise a child, but had no choice and did the best I could. He is very intelligent, but did not do well in school. He quit in 9th grade and got a GED. Maybe there should be parenting classes as someone else suggested. I always say that you have to have a license to drive a car, but any fool can have a baby.

When my husband and I decided to have more children, I told him only if I could stay home. He agreed and we tightened our belts to make it possible. I spend as much time with my 3-year-old as possible. I have been taking her to the library since she was old enough to leave the house. I read to her constantly, and now she reads to me. She is like a little sponge! I also believe it helped that we starting teaching her sign language from about 6 months. This is a very good learning tool.

All of that to say that I agree, parental involvement is key in a child's education. However, the current system lumps together children of all levels and most teachers are not equipped to teach to them all. Therefore, the kids at the top and the kids at the bottom are not being adequately educated. I do not mind paying taxes to improve our education system. I live in one of the best parishes (that's what we call counties in LA) in the state when it comes to education (among other things). I am thankful for that fact because otherwise I would be rearraning my budget to afford private schools.

Jazzbumpa said...

Hi gang -

Great puzzle - loved the theme, the clechos, John's visit and Al's blogging.

Everything else has already been said.

I'll just add that from my decades of experience as a supervisor and supervisee that merit pay is a great-sounding idea that is almost impossible to realistically and successfully implement in any situation, and generally results in something between ultra-low level success and epic failure. Please don't make the mistake of thinking it will solve any problem anywhere.


Linda said...

After reading all the educanto today, I felt compelled to add my 1 1/2 cents worth. I taught public school for 27 years. Some of the things I think that would improve education are:
1. Enforce laws all ready on the books (in some places) that make not attending a child`s parent-teacher conferences a fine-able offense.
2. Have what ever it takes to get parents involved: "Donuts with Dad", "Pops on patrol", "Rent a grandparent" etc. and barring that, mentoring by volunteers...anything to hold the student accountable outside of school as well as inside. When there are no consequences to not doing your best, even grownups are slackers, much less, children.
3. (My favorite) Have the legislators who fund the Educational programs, facilities, and personnel to spend (ideally) a week but (more practically)at least a day fully responsible for the lesson plans, implementation of same and proving that the students actually learned the material. Then and only then would they be better able to fund appropriately.

When I first began to teach, I had four or five students from single-parent homes. When I retired, there often was not even one who did not come from a broken home. There is a proverb which says, "There are very few whole eggs in a broken nest."
Unfortunately, this is education`s biggest problem and it is also the one that has no solve.

Kazie: My congratulations on your anniversary. I have recently begun planning our 50th celebration! Hang in there!

Al said...

If you have 41 minutes you can spare, watch the full video from John Stossel and see if you still think nothing can work to change the education system...

Bill G. said...

I should take the time to watch the video but for some reason, I really dislike John Stossel.

I think a good teacher needs to be intelligent, have a good knowledge of the subject matter, have a good sense of humor, have a sense of fairness and be able to command respect from his students. So much for personality. Then there are some skills to be learned that aren't so obvious at first. Two of them are 'wait time' and 'active participation.' If you ask students who are learning about square roots, "What is the square root of nine?" and Billy shouts out "three!", rather than say, "Very good!" you keep quiet. Then somebody asks, "What about negative three?" You keep quiet. Right about then, most of the class is thinking about and talking about square roots. When you ask a question, rather than call on the kid whose hand goes up first, you say something like, "I'm going to call on one of you to give me an example of the Commutative Property and the Associative Property in about 10 seconds. If you know the answer, great. If you aren't so sure, talk it over with someone sitting next to you. Then you get everybody involved, not just the kid who's hand goes up first.

Bill G. said...

I was just watching a rerun of an old NCIS show. Someone talking to Gibbs said, "It couldn't have been him. He was with my wife and I after dinner." Aargh!

Anonymous said...

@JazzBumpa: Seriously?