MONDAY, Oct. 22, 2007 - Lynn Lempel

Monday, October 22, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: LITTLE BO PEEP (57A: One who lost what's hidden in 19-, 34- and 42-Across) - "hidden" in those answer (see the circled squares on the grid) are EWE, LAMB, and RAM

I have next to nothing to say about this puzzle, for a few reasons. One, no time. Stupid work keeps impinging on my blogging time. Second, I had an error. In a Monday puzzle. Disgusting. I barely want to talk about it. Third, this theme is ridiculous, if not patently false in its assertions. Fourth, I'm too giddy to write with the proper edge this morning:

Theme answers:

  • 19A: Bandleader in the Polka Music Hall of Fame (LawrencE WElk) - first reaction: "There's a Polka Music Hall of Fame!?" Got this instantly, and saw the EWE, but that didn't make the theme clear. I moved on.
  • 34A: Creamy soup (cLAM Bisque) - looked at this right after getting LAWRENCE WELK and figured it out quickly, with no crosses. So EWE, now LAMB ... and yet, I did not put two and two together - my thinking never got past farm animals, generally.
  • 42A: Substantial portion (faiR AMount) - here, the sheepness of the theme asserted itself. But I have a question...

In what part of the "LITTLE BO PEEP" nursery rhyme does it say anything about a EWE, a LAMB, and a RAM? Sounds like the set-up for a bad joke. In fact, I would be much happier with these three walking into a bar than I am with this "LITTLE BO PEEP" attribution. Please go here to find lyrics (and while you're there, please play the song ... which made me laugh out loud with its synthetic artistry ... I just kept waiting for lyrics that never came...). Nothing in the words of the rhyme about specific kinds of sheep. Maybe someone can explain.

Here are several tough words for a Monday:

  • 5D: Bangladesh's capital, old-style (Dacca) - really? REALLY!? That's a @#$%-ing Saturday-level clue. Luckily all crosses were easy to get.
  • 6D: Color of fall leaves (ocher) - not a color that leaps to the top of my mind, even among the autumnal colors. I put in AMBER at first.
  • 38A: City where Van Gogh painted sunflowers (Arles) - The revenge of Van Gogh! Unlike yesterday, today I found Van Gogh quite tractable. Actually, I never saw this clue. But I'd have gotten it if I'd seen it. I think.
  • 41A: Pacific republic (Nauru) - again, on a Monday? Like TUVALU, this is a place I learned about from crosswords. Adds to the Pacific flavor of the puzzle (along with MAUI and HULA).

There were a few things I liked about the puzzle, like the long Downs DREW THE LINE (3D: Made a stand and would go no further) and especially RAQUEL WELCH (25D: "Fantastic Voyage" actress) - I had the "Q" and couldn't get "JACQUELINE" out of my head, even though it clearly wouldn't have fit. Also loved the daring double-Z in RAZZ (65A: Give a hard time). But all of this pleasure is undermined by my ERROR:

  • 54A: New Deal program inits. (WPA)
  • 55D: Explorer who proved that Greenland is an island (Peary)

I just didn't know the answer. Had W-A and couldn't remember which of seemingly billions of New Deal programs fit there. Had -EARY and couldn't think of any letters that could go there besides "G" or "L." So - failure. O well, it happens. Sometimes. Today, I hardly care, because, in case you joined us late:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS A recent blog entry at Michael 5000's site has engendered an amazing conversation about what exactly constitutes "dorkiness." You should read the "Comments" section to see the astounding revelations of personal dorkiness - and add your own, if you dare.

PPS Here's a freaky coincidence:

Today's 58D: Fearsome dino (T-Rex)
Syndicated puzzle's 58D: T-Rex, e.g. (dino)


Orange 8:38 AM  

Despite your PhD book-learnin', apparently you have never come across the original "Little Bo Peep" nursery rhyme, the bawdy post-Chaucer extended dance version. It is in those extra verses that Bo Peep's adventures in animal husbandry ae spelled out, rather explicitly mentioning what the ewe and ram do to populate Bo Peep's herd with more lambs.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  


who cares?

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

I assumed Lempel took poetic license with the idea that Bo Peep "lost her sheep," which may - may, mind you - have included any number of rams, lambs and ewes. Not a great theme by any stretch, but I wasn't quite as offended as Rex.

rick 9:18 AM  

Thought this was easy even for a Monday.

The hard one for me, DACCA, fell quickly with crosses. I did have JESTAT for 24A but BLOKE and RAQUEL fixed it quickly.

Maybe it just seemed easy after the slogging I had to do for the last three day's of puzzles.

Penny 9:22 AM  

And I was not disappointed at all. Taking it from the top ...

1. An idea. Little Bo peep has lost her sheep ...

2. And doesn't know where to find them ...

3. Fantastic. I'll construct a puzzle with fill that includes not only Little Bo Peep but I will also lose/hide three kinds of sheep for the solver to find.

Wish I'd thought of it. A gem.

Not sure why the baaaaad mood, Rex, when we in Little Bo Sox land are so happy to know the part of the rhyme that says "leave them alone and they'll come home ..."
Music to my ears.


Mary 9:23 AM  

Did anyone else go down this wrong path? I thought I was pursuing a shellfish theme with Lawrence WELK and CLAM bisque.
Eventually righted myself when I remembered that the denizens of the deep spell it WHELK.

Penny 9:48 AM  

From soup to nuts?

So glad I missed that one, Mary. It would have driven me crazy.

My first try was CRAB bisque. (I guess there's such a thing.) Although I wrote crab I had lobster on my mind. As for whelk ... Whell after all, it WAS silent.

Still think the theme was wunnerfulla wunnerfulla.

Orange 9:59 AM  

Anonymous 8:42, way to step on a joke. Since you have already destroyed it, I'll elaborate. Occasionally, commenters here chide Rex for having a PhD but not having read [insert author/work here]. Fake explication of theme + completely fabricated lies about a nursery rhyme + faux chiding of Rex = a brief moment of amusement for me. What, "extended dance version" was too subtle a clue for you?

Whitey's mom 10:10 AM  

Good, Orange!

Annielee 10:24 AM  

Very easy Monday puzzle for me.

Never heard of clam bisque, only chowdah, didn't know Nauru, Peary or Jean Rhys, although I've seen the so-so film made from her book. All came quickly with the crosses.

Our red, gold, and orange, not ocher, leaves are just reaching peak, the sky is lucent blue, and all is right with the world in the Hub!

DJ Dickmutt 10:32 AM  

Well, I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with this one. I usually find the puzzles harder than Rex, and to--for once--have had an easier time than him is probably going to be the highlight of the week. What with harder puzzles coming, that is.

bisque-quick 11:17 AM  

I agree with rick's comments on all counts: easy plus DACCA. Solving bottom up gave me Bo Peep before any of the ovines. I thought "small field size" for ACRE was a bit iffy. It certainly wouldn't be a small field on a Persian rug.

Orange, thanks for the multi-versed Bo-peep idea. Reminds me of 1975 / basketball Warriors in Oakland. Incredibly powerful basso profundo Forrest Pritchard would sing the third verse of the star-spangled banner -- "...then conquer we must when our cause it is just." I had no idea there were multiple verses before that experience.

profphil 11:48 AM  


I agree. This was one of the hardest Monday's ever. While doing it, I thought I may not be able to complete it without Googling. Especially the SE: WPA, Peary and Rhys, none of which I knew. ALthough, I'm sure I've come across WPA in the puzzle, I can never recall it as it's confused with a medley of New deal inits. Nauru is fairly new for me from earlier crosswords and I could not remember it either. Although once I filled it in, it looked right unlike the first time in the puzzle where I was sure I made an error. I did finally complete it without Googling but I came so close to not being able to finish it. For a Monday, that's pretty tough.

Sandy 12:13 PM  

Anon 8:42:

I do.

And don't be mean to Orange, its like poking a T-rex with a stick, and I don't want to have to watch what might happen to you.

Hobbyist 1:00 PM  

Too easy but interesting re-cluing re uvea w could have been almost anything in an earlier hard puzzle. I am on a roll but in no way comparable to those speed solvers in Stamford. May go in 2008 for fun only.

barrywep 1:16 PM  

I think Penny's exigesis makes this a well executed theme. I found it hard for a Monday.

lislepammysue 2:20 PM  

I thought this puzzle easy and fun. Never had to put my pencil down. Maybe too much celebrating after the Bosox victory last night?

Orange 2:41 PM  

Sandy, you're too sweet! Nobody's ever likened me to a T-rex before.

dk 3:01 PM  

As an Ovine Psychologist I only wished there was a clue to a meadow in this puzzle.


mac 4:01 PM  

Congratulations from a Yankee fan, Rex. Whew (?), I said it. It was pretty easy today, did it in aqua ink. Maybe because I didn't have any celebrations going on last night?

Shaun 4:24 PM  

I'm so bummed -- I was all ready to go looking for that obscure Bo Peep. I was with you on the humor equation, except that I was so hoping that the "completely fabricated" was actually just "somewhat exaggerated." Hey, the English were/are really dirty!

Karen 5:22 PM  

I enjoyed the theme too, and I flew through this puzzle, thinking 'Rex will like this, it has lots of scrabble letters!' Goes to show I just don't know Rex. Only place that I stumbled was putting down SUFI instead of SHIA in the SW.

PS, Orange, I would have believed the x-rated version too!

Penny 5:49 PM  

The original "Little Bo Peep" nursery rhyme?

Great stuff. I didn't read the whole thing in the original but I did see the movie. Monty Python. Two thumbs up. I never imagined that rams could ...

We'll save that for another time.

Orange 7:36 PM  

I love Wikipedia, even if it's sometimes the bringer of disappointment. To wit: Little Bo Peep dates only to Victorian times and thus has no centuries-old, ribald, Chaucerian version. The folks in Sussex say it's about liquor smuggling, which is racier than a mere nursery rhyme but falls far short of, say, the Miller's Tale.

billnutt 8:14 PM  

Loved seeing three "z"s in a row in the south. And above the "x" in oxen, no less!

I find it interesting that an acre could be small parcel in one puzzle and a good-sized parcel in another.

The Bo Peep idea was kinda cute. On an unrelated note, does anyone here read the Vertigo comic book FABLES? It imagines a world in which all the fairy tale characters are alive. The ones who can pass for human live in New York, and the rest live in a farm in upstate New York State. It's fun stuff, but definitely for mature readers. They do and say things that would make the Grimms' original versions seem tame.

Not sure why I went on that tangent...

billnutt 8:15 PM  

P.S. Congratulations, all you Sox fans!

nitpicker 9:47 PM  

I am more with Rex on this one - the theme just didn't do it for me. Three circled answers, asymmetrical to boot, and a fourth clue to tell us what to find in the circles? Nothing to write home about. Ho hum Monday.

How many solvers would rave if this were not an LL puzzle? One of the main reasons I love this blog is that it does not revere the well known constructors, even the BEQ's and the LL's. Rex calls it as he sees it.

Thanks Rex!


mydogischelsea 11:21 PM  

Great, now 60+ bloggers are going to read about my X-file phase.

What's with OCHER? It's bad enough when it appears with its usual spelling, ochre, but ocher??? Seriously.

jae 12:27 AM  

Better late than never. Spent most of the day driving from San Diego to Disneyland for the granddaughter's 9th birthday. Very smokey and dark and slow!

I actually liked this one but had the same problem as Rex and Profphil with the PEARY/RHYS crossing. I should have remembered PEARY but didn't and guessed wrong.

Rats Orange, you really had me hoping there was a bawdy version out there somewhere.

Anonymous 4:35 AM  

Jus' Wonderin': Does the Beantown Globe not have a crossword for you to ponder? Maybe you would be more comfortable there. In the meantime how would you handle this clue? "MLB's most sucessful franchise" (7 letters)

Rex Parker 8:37 AM  

Please, keep going - nothing tastes sweeter than the tears of Yankees fans.

And please continue to enjoy living in the 20th century, when the Yankees were good.


PS I wouldn't expect a Yankees fan to know this, but "successful" - it's spelled with two "c"'s. You might need that info for future reference - you know, in case your team ever becomes "successful" again.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

Breezy Monday for me. Hey, Rex - what, no Raquel Welch picture?!

- - Robert

Waxy in Montreal 8:13 PM  

From 6 weeks on, I'm surprised how many bloggers seemed not familiar with Robert Peary. I always thought he remained extremely famous for (allegedly) discovering the North Pole but I guess fame is indeed fleeting. Sponsored by National Geographic, Peary and his Afro-American colleague, Matthew Henson, seemingly spent much of their (down, er.., up) time in Greenland siring offspring (shades of 43D) with the cooperation of the local indigenous population, a fact that only emerged in the 1990's, much to the chagrin of especially the Peary family and National Geographic.

Peary's claim to have arrived at the North Pole first is much disputed now because he had no way of substantiating it but in his day he was treated as a great American hero (BTW, Henson wasn't, go figure!).

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