MONDAY, May 21, 2007 - Allan E. Parrish

Monday, May 21, 2007

Relative Difficulty: Medium

THEME: MARKETS (26D: What the last words of 17- and 61-Across and 10- and 25-Down are kinds of)

This was tricky for a Monday, with a theme that was nearly invisible - so invisible, that I had the puzzle solved and not only didn't notice the theme, but didn't even look for it. I just now (the next morning) went looking for it and couldn't see the pattern in the theme answers ... and then I saw the clue for 26D. Having two of the theme answers as Downs and having all theme answers be so tenuously related - that makes for a higher-than-average level of difficulty for a Monday.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Supreme Court justice known for a literalist interpretation of the Bill of Rights (Hugo Black)
  • 10D: Some theater productions (summer stock)
  • 25D: 1966 Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass hit ("Spanish Flea")
  • 61A: Pie filling (mince meat)
The best answer here is "Spanish Flea," which was - or sounds a lot like - the theme music on "The Dating Game." Also, Homer can be found singing lyrics to "Spanish Flea" in the "Simpsons" while sitting in the car outside Springfield arena waiting for Bart and Milhouse to get out of the Spinal Tap concert, in the episode entitled "The Otto Show." Just so you know.



1A: Late bridge columnist Truscott (Alan) - Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever heard of him. My first reaction "bridge ... columnist? You can do that? For a living? Such that you'd be famous enough to be in the crossword?"

19A: Earthy pigment (umber) - rough for a Monday. I had OCHER for a while.

22A: Squad with red, white and blue uniforms (Team U.S.A.) - also very hard for me for some reason. Not expecting to have to parse a multiple-word answer like this on a Monday, so the answer was hard to see with only assorted crosses in place - despite the fact that "red, white and blue" should have been a gigantic tip-off.

18D: Onion-flavored roll (bialy) - I've heard of these, but only vaguely. Never had one. I don't think they existed in Central California when I was growing up.

11D: Perfume brand (Tabu) - again, rough. I don't ... wear perfume.

38A: Eurasian duck (smew) - Not sure which is funnier, clue or answer. Aw, SMEWs are cute:

There are a lot of other answers that are easy enough, but still a little edgy for a Monday, like 40D: Frankie who sang "Mule Train" (Laine) (heh heh, "mule") and 23D: Follower of rear or week (ender) and 62D: Quadrennial games grp. (I.O.C.). I love the symmetrical colloquialness of 5D: "What'd I say?!" ("Told ya!") and 48D: A-O.K. (peachy). Lastly, it took only about 6 weeks for IMUS (30D: Don formerly of morning radio) to go from making offensive on-air comments to having the death of his career officially enshrined in the Puzzle of Record. I love that we have such a culturally responsive puzzle.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

20 comments:

Linda G 8:33 AM  

I knew I could count on you to include a picture of a SMEW. Very cute.

Was surprised that you knew SPANISH FLEA was from The Dating Game. Did the show have a later run -- other than the 60s-70s?

My favorite was your IMUS comment. Way to go, Rex.

Michael 8:55 AM  

Depending on the lead time of this puzzle, Shortz probably had to edit the IMUS clue..get that "formerly" in there quick....

Question: I just started using Times Reader (and thus doing the crossword electronically) this morning. How do I get the 4-digit code to unlock the puzzle and get my score? Thanks.

DONALD 8:58 AM  

michael

The code appears the following day on the same page to the right.

mmpo 11:00 AM  

So I take it this IMUS fellow is well known in the States. I've been living outside the country for some years, and this name was unknown to me, as was SMEW, so I had to guess that M...on a Monday. I'd cry fowl, er, foul, but sounds like IMUS is a household name for US readers (?).
I also found this puzzle relatively troublesome or rather, mostly easy with some surprise curve-balls). I had slight setbacks with the same spots as you, Rex...TEAM USA was one of the last solutions to get tweaked into correctness. When the puzzle was filled, I still had TEAM ESS with TABE (ah, TABU) and SERS, (ah, SERA; ah! TEAM USA).
Similar reaction to BIALY, but I do remember BIALYSTOCK from the Producers puzzle a few weeks back. I'd wondered about that name, but not enough to go out and look up BIALY.
Finally, I got 26D -- MARKETS -- with only SP and H in place for 25D, so that helped me to solve that one. I listened to the Tijuana Brass a lot in Jr. High. Being a budding trombone player, I listened to a wide range of music with brass instruments. Was SPANISH FLEA the one that Will Forte used in that very funny, bizarre SNL sketch to try to inspire his team to go back and win the second half?...No, that wasn't it. I remember the tune now. Oh, and you gave us a link to a sound clip...(I'm getting a new computer in a few days. Until then, I avoid sound clips, as they break up noisily--very annoying).
That's all. Happy Victoria Day.

Mona 11:01 AM  

Forgive this intrusion by a newbie, but 66 Across is
CALE Yarborough, no?

profphil 11:11 AM  

As a Jewish New Yorker (redundant?) I grew up with bialies (bialys). They look like a squashed bagel with an identation rather than a hole. Their texture is somewhat like a cross between a bagel and an onion role.

I too found the puzzle difficult for a MOn. I also see that I had one wrong answer: emaj and essay, rather than Amaj and assay. Is there an E Major? And is Essay the equivalent for Assay?

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Yes, there is an E major, which would have 4 sharps, but A Major is actually closely related to F#minor, since they form a major/minor pair of keys, just like C major and A minor.

And, the anwser is certainly "Cale" Yarborough, which nicely results in MCI for the down answer.

mmpo 11:29 AM  

Profphil,
Assay has the same root as essay (I say), but with more specific usage.
Yes, there's an E Major. All the notes (A through G, plus sharps and flats) have keys named after them. When you play in a particular key, it means you play using the notes of the corresponding scale, unless otherwise indicated (or improvised if that's what you do). IOW, if you're playing in E (F, G, A, B, C or D) Major, you would start with the notes in an E (F, G, A, B, C or D) Major scale, but might go outside of the scale to achieve a particular effect...
B-E.

Ultra Vi 11:59 AM  

SMEW? Who knew?

Trickier than the average Monday, but to good effect. I like having a little challenge to get my brain going on the day after, no, not a WEEKENDER, which I imagine to be some kind of bender, but Commencement duties yesterday. (Oh - Weekender is a type of luggage, not a bender after the week is over - just looked it up...)

Re graduation, congratulations go out to all new graduates everywhere. I am very proud of all the (former) students I got to award degrees to yesterday. Now THAT was fun.

Rex Parker 12:09 PM  

Yes, of course it's CALE. Didn't check the crosses - my bad. Thanks to those of you who wrote me privately to point out my error. I put up a new, correct grid.

rp

Norrin2 12:17 PM  

Omar Sharif wrote a bridge column for many years, and he's been known to pop up in a puzzle or two. (Admittedly he wasn't JUST a bridge columnist.)

Jerome 12:51 PM  

How about KEMPT for a Monday?

M. Murphy 12:55 PM  

A bridge columnist? That's about as wacky as a crossword columnist!

campesite 1:12 PM  

I was happy to see a great LAKER in the puzzle: KAREEM.

mellocat 3:10 PM  

I'm surprised by the echoed unfamiliarity with bridge columnists. In a lot of papers (well, mine, at any rate) the bridge column is right next to the crossword. The NYT crossword forum page seems to always include a link to the bridge column under "TOP CROSSWORD/GAMES ARTICLES" on the right. Of course, I play bridge, so maybe these things catch my eye more than they do for those who don't play. Not that I play at the level of the games typically covered in the columns, but even so I usually find they make for entertaining reading. It's always interesting to see if I would have bid/played a hand at all like the way it played out in the column.

DONALD 5:26 PM  

AMY, REX and the BOSOX are all in the upper left corner together in today's New York Sun puzzle (see Rex blog for link)

Go here for BOSOX Crossword Puzzle Book:
http://www.fenwayoutlet.com/redsoxcrossword.html

barsidius 11:35 PM  

Not only can you be a bridge columnist, but Mr. Truscott was the bridge columnist for the NYT for more than 40 years. And I don't know if it's always been this way, but the NYT bridge column (now written by the great Phillip Alder, in case it ever comes up) normally runs on the same page as the crossword....So maybe there are some advantages to solving in the actual paper? :)

ANTI-WAR DEMOCRAT 10:38 AM  

Brooklyn Bialy Recipe


Cornmeal

Onion Topping (recipe below)
2 cups warn water (110 to 115 degrees), divided
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups bread flour
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Prepare Onion Topping; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup water, yeast, and sugar; let stand 10 minutes or until foamy. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups water, salt, bread flour, and all-purpose flour. Knead by hand or with dough hook of mixer for 8 minutes until smooth (the dough will be soft). If you think the dough is too moist - add flour, a tablespoon at a time. If the dough is looking dry and gnarly - add warm water, a tablespoons at a time.

Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 hours or until tripled in bulk. Punch dough down in bowl, turn it over, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise another 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

On a floured board or counter, punch dough down and roll into a cylinder shape. With a sharp knife, cut cylinder into 8 rounds. Lay dough rounds flat on a lightly floured board, cover with a towel, and let them rest 10 minutes. Gently pat each dough round into circles (a little higher in the middle than at the edge), each about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Place bialys on prepared baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise an additional 30 minutes or until increased by about half in bulk (don’t let them over-rise).

Make an indention in the center of each bialy with two fingers of each hand, pressing from the center outward, leaving a 1-inch rim. Place approximately 1 teaspoon of Onion Topping in the hole of each bialy. Dust lightly with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Bake on upper and lower shelves of the oven for 6 to 7 minutes, then switch pans and reverse positions of pans (front to back), and bake another 5 to 6 minutes until bialys are lightly browned. NOTE: These are soft rolls, and it is important not to bake them too long or they will be very dry. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks.

After cooling, immediately place in a plastic bag (this will allow the exterior to soften slightly). NOTE: These rolls are best eaten fresh, preferably lightly toasted and smeared with cream cheese. For longer storage, keep in the freezer.

Makes 8 bialys.

ONION TOPPING:
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/3 cup minced onion
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

In a small bowl, combine vegetable or olive oil, poppy seeds, onions, and salt; set aside.

Jesse 11:05 PM  

I've never in my life heard the syllable "cha" (59D) after Hot... that one set me back a good fifteen minutes while I whittled down all other possibilities. Hotcha? I must be missing something.

Anonymous 8:06 PM  

I bellieve it was the penultimate episode of The Sopranos where Sil offers T a whiskey, early in the day, as he's about to tell T he just offed someone, and T says "I just had my Bialy."

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