Victuals and Vehicles

"Man at the Crossroads" by Mexican Muralist, Diego Rivera, with Ben Shahn (the mural at Rockefeller Center in New York that would be destroyed by Nelson Rockefeller for political reasons


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Puzzle by Randall J. Hartman, Edited by Will Shortz

This Tuesday tornado of a puzzle features five inter-related entries of phrases relating to victuals and vehicles.

BANANABOAT (17A Food transportation …that Harry Belafonte sang about) -- "Come, Mr. Tally Man, tally me banana/ Daylight come and we wanna go home," (dock workers working the night shift loading bananas onto ships).. The Banana Boat Song is a traditional Trinidadian Calypso folk song. However, it’s a lot of other things, see Banana Boat.

MEATWAGON (24A …that’s an ambulance, in slang) -- whatever…this is usually an ambulance from a morgue, the individual being transported is deceased and therefore “meat” -- there are other definitions of a meat wagon, none of them too savory; however, the original “meat wagon” seems to have been parked a long time ago.

TURNIPTRUCK (37A …that a rube might fall off) -- brings to mind the Joads in “The Grapes of Wrath”. It is commonly thought of as a Metaphorical vehicle bringing rubes to the metropolis. One who falls off the truck is hopelessly naive. “Fall off a turnip truck” is not exactly praise, but then it’s not condemnation, more observation of unfortunate circumstances.

APPLECART (48A …that may be upset) -- a phrase used to define creating a difficulty. If you upset the apple cart, you cause trouble and upset people. It’s not as dangerous as rocking the boat, but upsetting the apple cart would mean someone’s going be picking up a lot of scattered apples, as an apple cart is a orchard wagon filled with loose apples.

GRAVYTRAIN (59A …that’s a source of easy money) -- not only easy to do but with great reward, an easy task. In politics, "gravy train" refers to a depraved gorging on luxuries, since someone else foots the bill. It seems like the expression got a little off track, as a gravy train relates to gravy boat, a dinner table container used to hold gravy.

This is a very active crossword puzzle, not only for the mobility aspects of the inter-related entries mentioned above, but there is skating, dancing, golfing, loading and unloading, football, soccer, ice hockey, bull-fighting, baseball, prisoner escape, face-making, starting and stopping, and general competition -- SKATE (21A Play ice hockey); ASTAIRE (41A He danced in “Silk Stockings”); PGA (Org. for drivers?), think golf; PIER (52A Place to load and unload); AWOL (16A One who may be caught off base?); KNEE (19A Place for a footballer’s pad); JABBED (1D Poked); APB (6D Alert for a fleeing prisoner, in brief); SETAT (9D Go after); MAKEAFACE (10D Stick out one’s tongue, maybe); OLE (13D Corrida cheer); MARIS (24A Home run hero of ‘61); ARENAS (47D Soccer venues); BIGTEN (20A Indiana and Ohio are in it); OSU (26D Home of the Cowboys: Abbr.); NET (27D New Jersey cager); PER (29D Part of r.p.m.); RUBELBOWS (32D Mingle [with]); START (34D Crank up); TARP (37D Rain delay roll-out); and VIE (60D Compete).

There are also such colorful entries as REDROSE (32A Symbol of love); PEA (29A Shade of green); GUNK (25D Icky stuff); RIP (40D Boot Hill letters); ASS (66A Doofus); “Sometimes you feel like ANUT” (36A); GENIES (46D Wish offerers); MOJO (10A Voodoo charm); PINATA (45D Party animal?); and DANGIT (3D “Phooey!”).

Conversation is helped out with IMPOSE (15A Butt in); OFUSE (31A Useful); AGREE (50D See eye to eye); VETO (56A Pork chop?); AVOW (61A Declare); EMAIL (2D Communicates with online);ITSA deal!” (55D); and AHA (39A “So it’s you!”).

People in the puzzle include JED Bartlet, president on “The West Wing” (1A); STAMOS (4A John of “Full House”); ELIA (23A Charles Lamb, pseudonymously); ARAB (39A Al Jazeera viewer, typically); ASTAIRE; Harry Belafonte; R & B singer Mary J. BLIGE (53A); DIANNE (54A Sen. Feinstein); EDNA (30D Novelist Ferber); Actor Benicio DEL Toro (43D); VAL (56D Kilmer who once played Batman); EVE (57D She raised Cain); and by way of CIGAR (49D Prop for Groucho Marx).

Odd couples: ERIE and AERIES; REARS and HIRED; MOOSE (7D Bullwinkle) and REN (44A Stimpy’s cartoon pal); RESEDA (65A San Fernando Valley district) with OSAKA (8D Japanese city whose name means “large hill”); and TEA (63A Some like it hot) and JOE (12D Coffee, slangily).

Urps and orts and bumps along the road: SINE, TMAN, LENS, OWN, ATA, PAR, URN, TON, DST, TWO, OPT -- that should do it!