MONDAY, Jul. 30, 2007 - Elizabeth A. Long

Monday, July 30, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Celebrity baseball - OR - Celebrity possessives - "'S" is added to celebrity's first name to create possessive phrase, which is then clued

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Game equipment for an old sitcom star? (Lucille's ball)
  • 35A: Game location for an actress? (Sally's field)
  • 52A: Game site for a popular singer? (Neil's diamond)

This doesn't feel like a theme. I got LUCILLE'S BALL pretty quickly - or rather, I got LUCILLE and then wondered what the trick could be. If it's "baseball," then how does the changing of the first name to a possessive fit in, theme-wise? Seems an extra, unexplained wrinkle.

I ran into just one problem in the grid, and it was major. Right around the "Ohio" region of the puzzle, I came to a dead stop at least a couple of times. 8D: Hand-to-hand fighting (combat) took far too long to come to me than it should have. But getting it (which I did, finally) should have made 9D: 8-Down ender easy. It Did Not. Since when does a TREATY end "hand-to-hand fighting." I know that the way it's clued, technically, a TREATY is supposed to end COMBAT, which is not wrong, but when that COMBAT is clued as the hand-to-hand variety (which suggests karate, pugilism, etc., i.e. one-on-one combat), then TREATY does not even show up on the radar as an appropriate word here. TRUCE would have been somewhat more expected. That, or KNOCKOUT. TREATIES are between peoples, states, nations. If COMBAT had been clued as simply [Fighting], I would have had a lot less trouble, conceptually.

If you had any trouble with this puzzle, it likely involved one or more of the following answers:

1D: Actor Snipes of "Blade" (Wesley) - a gimme, but experience tells me that many of you haven't the foggiest clue about pop culture post-Kennedy administration (if then), and I know only about six of you will have deigned to see "Blade," so...

3D: Owner of MTV and BET (Viacom) - again, easy for pop culture fans, maybe not so easy for shut-ins like yourselves (I'm teasing!). Actually, a shut-in would probably watch a lot of TV.

24A: Organic salt (oleate) - ????

22D: Speaker's spot (lectern) - this word just wouldn't give itself up. For a while I had just the initial "L," and all I could think of was PODIUM, ROSTRUM (!?), and DAIS. Really needed the "C," which I finally got (last thing I filled in, I think), when I got...

30A: Captains of industry (tycoons) - that is one cool word, now that I look at it. Sounds good, rhymes with "raccoons." Since I didn't have TREATY for a long time, I didn't have the "Y" here, just the initial "T," and as with LECTERN, the initial letter alone did nothing for me.

41A: IBM/Apple product starting in the early 90's (Power PC) - I had one of these circa '95. The crazy consonantal pile-up at the end there looks good in the grid.

42: A _____ (kind of reasoning) (priori) - I'm always surprised when this word shows up in the grid. Feels very specialized / esoteric, and yet I've seen it multiple times this past year.

50D: Winston Churchill flashed it (V sign) - great clue. Gotta love an entry starting "VS..."

Lastly I would like to GROUSE (45D: Bellyache) about 51D: Love of one's life (amour) ... in France, maybe. And even then, AMOUR is just love, not necessarily the hyperbolic kind suggested by the clue.

Enjoy Monday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


thehowie 7:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thehowie 8:00 AM  

Somehow, having spate, splurge, and sally(s) field" all cross made me smile. Not really sure why; Perhaps I just really really like her?

Norrin2 9:01 AM  

Y'all must pronounce "raccoon" pretty funny up there in Confluence if you think it rhymes with "tycoon."
: )

Sarah 9:16 AM  

You two- It is WAY too early on a Monday morning to be feeling quite so jolly. Hats off to you!

Alex 10:11 AM  

The "coon" parts of raccoon and tycoon rhyme, do they not for other people/regions?

The only significant problem I had was that for "speaker's spot" my brain immediately went to LYCEUM (yeah, not so much a Monday word) and the first crosses I had were the L and C so it took me a bit to untanble myself.

Austin 11:28 AM  

I enjoyed the BIKE-IKE crossing up there in Maine.

Also liked seeing TAU and TILDE close together for some reason.

Good monday.

Wade 11:36 AM  

Rex gets hung up on a couple of answers and still clocks 4:14--I pretty much steadily went through this one with no hangups and clocked 5 minutes flat. I think when some of you folks say you got hung up you mean you had to think about an answer for five seconds. When I say I'm hung up, I mean I had to go play Rock 'em Sock 'em robots awhile to let my mind rest.

Pardon me if this has been noticed and discussed in earlier posts, but I just started using the applet and am still trying to get the hang of it. The instructions say that on a PC you hit the tab key to advance to the next clue, and on a Mac you hit the enter key. I use a PC, but the enter key is what advances it on my computer (which is different from the acrosslite format, which is what I've used for the past several years and which does use the tab key.) What gives?

Fergus 3:14 PM  

Full agreement on the COMBAT TREATY inelegance.

There was more ambiguity than usual for a Monday puzzle. I Mulled when I should have been Musing, for example.

And to carp just a little bit about A PRIORI. That, to me, isn't a form of reasoning. By definition it's something known already and hence doesn't require any further thought, much less reasoning.

Leah 3:37 PM  

See... I was stuck with "Titians" for 30-across and couldn't get “treaty” for the longest time. "Gam” was also a (lucky) guess, as was "v-sign." Of course, I'm 23, so Wesley Snipes and Viacom were no problem. It's nice when there's a pop-culture gimmie I feel like I can really nail! And conversely disappointing when major clues are obviously aimed at solvers with totally different cultural reference points…

Matt M. 4:25 PM  

As far as I understand those cross-reference clues (which I, unlike Rex, enjoy), the clue for the answer being referenced shouldn't even enter into the clue in question. I just read [8-Down ender] as [Combat ender] and had no problems.

Jerome 5:19 PM  

I agrre with Matt M (above).

green mantis 5:42 PM  

Re Fergus' a priori grouse, technically it is a variety of reasoning or argument. Or at least that is the way it's presented in a basic philosophy class.

It's not "reasoning" by your definition, because it is based on an assumption not gathered through observation and evidence, but it is a classification of philosophical reasoning in a broader sense-- just not a very reliable form of reasoning. I think, "The earth is the center of the universe, so the sun must revolve around the earth" is an example of a priori reasoning. So it's lame, but it's out there, like Lindsay Lohan.

Orange 5:59 PM  

I saw a few minute of the Blade: Trinity sequel with Ryan Reynolds (boy howdy, does he clean up nice). Now, this will make Rex squeamish, but how genius is a vampire movie in which a character battles a vampire who's holding him captive by warning that he's gonna fart and by the way, he'd had a lot of garlic?

Wade, I use the applet on my Mac and use the tab key to skip to the next entry.

Linda G 6:53 PM  

I'm almost twice Leah's age, but WESLEY and VIACOM were also gimmes for me. Some things aren't about age but about how well versed one is on a particular topic. For example, I often point out that I'm clueless about sports...unless it's a name that's so in the public eye that even I couldn't possibly miss it (such as Tiger Woods, Jeff Gordon, etc.)

BT 7:01 PM  

For many in New York Jeff Gordon would be a tricky name. Does he pitch for the Mets?

(that was a joke)

But with no NASCAR here, that sport would leave people here in NYC clue-less... so to speak.

profphil 10:53 PM  


A Priori reasoning is exactly what it is called. One can use deductive reasoning to come to an a priori conclusion. "A Priori" does not mean that one does not have to reason or thing. It just means that experience is not necessary to arrive at the logical conclusions. However, reasoning is often essential. For example Rene Descartes uses a priori reasoning to reach conclusions that most unthinking people would never reach even though they are a priori.

Fergus 11:31 PM  

Thanks for the A PRIORI thoughts. I had my spells with Descartes, Leibnitz, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume etc. so I was just quibbling about whether it was actually reasoning that takes place if one has an A PRIORI conclusion?

I noticed that my 'carp' became a 'grouse.' Which is the more vehement degree of complaint, I wonder?

green mantis 12:15 AM  

a carp swims against the current, but a grouse flies in the face of popular sentiment? game: grouse.

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