TUESDAY, Aug. 21, 2007 - Tom Heilman

Monday, August 20, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: BEES (60D: Theme of this puzzle) - Each of the four theme answers has a bee-related word in it

This went very fast. Had to search for a while for a typo and still finished in under five. Didn't see or get the theme until the very end; it hardly mattered, time-wise. I need to get some sleep tonight, so I'm going to keep it short.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Police ploys (sting operations)
  • 30A: End-of-day spousal salutation ("Honey, I'm home!")
  • 46A: "Call when you get the chance" ("Give me a buzz")
  • 62A: Bogart/Hepburn film ("The African Queen")

Didn't get a single word until the fifth Across clue I looked at (15A: OBOE). Got my first toe-hold by working the Downs in the NW, four out of five of which I got right on the first pass (with good old standbys like 5D: Wee bit of work (erg) and gimmes like 3D: Quickly growing "pet" (Chia) it wasn't that hard). Had BILL for COST (1D: How much to pay), but that was quickly fixed.

Enjoyed the intersecting SORE EYES (8D: what a welcome sight relieves) and STYE (21A: Lid trouble), as well as the arty quartet of HENRI (4D: Painter Matisse), TATE (42A: Gallery showing works by Turner, Reynolds and Constable), ALBA (58A: Duchess of _____, Goya subject), and ANDY (61D: Pop artist Warhol). The combo of ENERO (34D: First month in Madrid) and AÑOS (43A: Calendario units) is less inspiring. UPTAKE is an interesting word, in that I never hear it except in the phrase "slow on the UPTAKE." Though it's clued properly enough (48D: Mental grasp), it's weird to see it isolated like this.

I liked two of the long non-theme answers: CHIP SHOTS (10D: Lofted approaches to the green) and MEAT PIES (41D: Pastries in "Sweeney Todd") - I think the "Sweeney Todd" pastries are filled with ... people meat. The only answer in the grid I'd never seen before is KIROV (29D: Russian ballet company). I am notorious pathetic when it comes to ballet questions. Luckily, they are fairly rare. Finally, it was nice to see Téa LEONI (28D: Téa of "Spanglish") in the puzzle, first because I sort of like her as an actress, and second because she was fresh on my mind - NPR did an interview with her husband, David Duchovny (of "X-Files" fame) only last week, and her name came up. One of the PERKs (66A: Use of a company car or private washroom, say) of listening to public radio is that occasionally the information comes in very handy, puzzle-wise.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 11:25 PM  

While I have always assumed gthat Stephen Sondheim was referring, albeit obliquely, to mincepies (no longer made of meat), it is true that the musical hinges on the content of those pies.

Here's the lyric from "God, That's Good!"

There you'll sample Mrs. Lovett's meat pies
savory and sweet pies as you'll see
You, who eat pies Mrs. Lovett's meat pies
conjure up the treat pies used to be


PuzzleGirl 11:50 PM  

Never been a big Tea Leoni fan, but I did like her in Spanglish. I think I can't take her in a serious role but when it's over-the-top, it works for her.

Every time the answer needs to be an animal that makes milk, I always enter COWS and I'm always wrong.

Michael 1:26 AM  

Never heard that term.
Perhaps there's an excerpt from something with "exurb" in it. Hopefully you won't have to search an exorbitant amount.

karmasartre 1:49 AM  

Rex, I got UPTAKE primarily from crosses, and it felt odd, and your comments explained the feeling to a tee. Thanks.

The rest fell quickly. Nice to see ILK after so many ELKs. I enjoy actor EPPS on "House". Seeing PROF in the fill reminded me of profphil.

Too bad about the spouses whose day ends with HONEYIMHOME. Evenings count in my spousal situation....

campesite 1:51 AM  

If it wasn't for several careless typos, this might have been a record time for me. Though easy, the puzzle was fairly cute. Maybe it's because The African Queen is one of my favorite movies, perhaps because I just was at the Tate Modern, or because I love Tea Leoni.

Michael: "The farms were paved over to make room for the McMansions and big box stores typical of exurban sprawl."

R. Kane 2:45 AM  

An exurb, or commuter town, can also be known as a bedroom community. These terms suggest that residents sleep in these neighborhoods, but, for the most part, work elsewhere.

liebestraum 7:16 AM  

When I used the applet, "Tea" came out "T?a", but I got it from the crosses.

I always thought an exurb was a city that swallowed up by a larger city's outward expansion.

In the Houston area where I live, the city of Spring is considered an exurb because you now can't tell where Houston ends and Spring begins. Twenty-five years ago, you'd have noticed the difference.


Rockonchris 7:17 AM  

Seems like there were a lot of drug references in today's puzzle. Clues = private stash, lid trouble; answers = weed, give me a buzz. I guess you see what you want to see.

Beata 7:57 AM  

God is that picture of meat pie disgusting or what!!!!

Trying to eat breakfast here

jlsnyc 8:48 AM  

as i recall from h.s. latin:

ex=out of (here "outlying')
urb=city (here "community")

which boils down to the value of knowing some root words!



Sue 9:49 AM  

I always figure the term exurb to distinguish communities even more distant than suburbs. City folks usually have a little bit of attitude about these places.

At first I thought we had a medical puzzle, with sting OPERATIONS and chip SHOTS at the top of the grid!

Jerome 10:26 AM  

Sue, I think you're right. I picture a target with the bullseye representing the city (urban area), the first ring the suburbs (suburban area, and the outder ring the exurbs (exurban area).

Orange 10:57 AM  

When people can't afford the houses in the suburbs they get a place farther out in an exurb. Then they buy his 'n' hers SUVs so they can drive 40 or 50 miles to work, discover that the cost of gas is prohibitive, and buy small cars for commuting. But they keep the Ford Excursions in the garage because they know that someday soon, gas prices are bound to drop back to $1.49 a gallon, because peace and prosperity in a democratic Middle East are just around the corner.

Orange 10:58 AM  

(And sue is right. Did you detect my city-person attitude about exurbs? Subtle, I know.)

BT 11:45 AM  

Sondheim, provider of today's "Meat Pies" answer, has been quoted as saying that writing lyrics is like a crossword puzzle.

If you've ever tried to write a song (or even 'lyrics' to an "ABAB" ryhming poem) you know what he is talking about. E.g. Instead of 7 letters and you know some of the letters, you have 2 beats (i.e. possibly two syllables) and it has to rhyme with whatever... then you wrack your brain seeing what words/phrases "fit".

Karmasartre 11:46 AM  


Are you referring to SUVMDs (Sports Utility Vehicles of Mass Destruction)?

prshutr 11:56 AM  

My only bitch about today's puzzle is the definition of a chipshot as a lofted approach to the green. A chipshot is a stroke from just off the green, can be made with any club, including the putter. The idea is to treat it as an extended putt.
Otherwise, this was EASY for Tuesday, as yesterday's was easy for a Monday.

Orange 12:41 PM  

karma, you might appreciate this rant o' mine. A lively comments thread, too.

Beata 2:19 PM  


democratic Middle East ???!!! Like that will ever happen.... they would have stop opressing a half of their population (women) first, an dI don't think it is likely to occur anytime soon

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Prshutr (your blogname implies you are good at golf) - The way I've always heard references to chipshots is that they're used to get over some rough grass between the ball and the green, thus the loft aspect. Obviously if there's just six inches of rough grass that you'd rather not putt through you might hit a very soft 7-iron to skip the ball onto the green and let it roll from there. Anyway, I don't think the reference to loft is misused.

Anonymous 5:22 PM  

There might be an argument in the mind of a non-golfer that a chip shot is lofted, but to a golfer, lofted means hit high into the air with a view toward hitting softly and not rolling very much. A pitch shot is lofted. A chip shot is not. When a shot gains enough loft that it is fair to see that it was lofted, it is no longer a chip shot; it is a pitch shot or lob shot. There is no such thing in golf as a lofted chip shot.

Fergus 5:58 PM  

As both a golfer and a nitpicker, I let the quibble over CHIP SHOTS slide. Maybe I'm just easy-going today, or perhaps it's because I generally opt for a nine iron on most chip shot occasions. Through grim experience I've found a skulled, or even a fat stroke with a nine iron from just off the green will usually travel just about as far as the gentle plop with a bit of loft that was first envisioned.

I found today's puzzle very challenging and difficult to complete. This bore no relation to its intrinsic elements but rather to the return of a cat who had been absent for a couple of days. Nuzzling, stretching, pawing, wriggling -- so much so I could barely fill in a legible letter. In sympathy I put the puzzle down and let the cat settle. But each time I picked it back up, the sweet kitty would get all active again -- almost as if it had a BEE in its bonnet.

A few ink smears around the printed grid are better, I suppose, than having a cat walk all over the keyboard and then having to undo all the random entries. Don't suppose I'm the first person to encounter such challenges? (By the way this is a friend's cat I'm tending -- if it were mine I'd be firmer with the discipline.)

Richard Overholt 7:56 PM  

Mr. Parker's "I think the 'Sweeney Todd' pastries are filled with ... people meat" is the funniest thing I have ever heard.

Keep up the great work!

jae 8:12 PM  

Annon. 5:22 is correct about the pitch-chip distinction. Perhaps a better clue would have been "Short shot from near the green."

Chip Ahoy 8:27 PM  

Chia pets are da bomb! I own 24 Chia rams, an entire flock led by the famous shephard, the patron saint of gays -- St Francis of a Sissy.

Wendy 8:44 PM  

Good to know! ;)

jae 8:48 PM  

Sorry, my suggested clue should read "short approach..."

BT 9:22 PM  

In case you don't know, Sweeney Todd pastries ARE filled with people meat.

But it was/is still a funny line!

Robert 10:14 PM  

Am I the only one who gets annoyed with the use of the "n-with-a-tilde" (sorry, I can't get my Spanish fonts to work) in an across word, and have it cross with the English "n" in the down word? Shouldn't the down word be Spanish with the "n-tilde" also?

Mary 10:58 PM  

That would be tough because I don't know if I know more than one use of the tilde.

I hope you are getting some good rest, Rex. I am so glad you took an early night because I have been trying to catch up for days.

Anonymous 11:20 PM  

Actually, Robert, there was a Sun puz that had crossing tildes not too long ago. I'll see if I can track it down for you, so at least your annoyance can be relieved for one puzzle. ;)


Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Never did find the typo where was it?

according to wikipedia:

an exurb is

A commuter town is an urban community that is primarily residential, from which most of the workforce commute out of the community to earn their livelihood. Most commuter towns are suburbs of a nearby metropolis that workers travel to daily, and many suburbs are commuter towns.

A commuter town or exurb can also be known as a bedroom community (Canada and U.S usage), a dormitory town (UK Commonwealth and Ireland usage), or less commonly a dormitory village (UK Commonwealth and Ireland). These terms suggest that residents sleep in these neighbourhoods, but mostly work elsewhere.


I didn't know of this word either til I googled it.

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