TUESDAY, Oct. 16, 2007 - Michael Kaplan

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: DATES (41A: Calendar units hidden in 20- and 61-Across and 11- and 35-Down)

Didn't see the theme until I was done - common experience on early-week puzzles. It's not a terribly imaginative theme (buried-word themes are pretty standard fare), but lots of the non-theme fill is pretty colorful, and at least one of the theme answers makes me very happy. I got in and out in under five, which I consider a decent Tuesday time.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Relax during a drill (stanD AT Ease)
  • 11D: Show sadness (sheD A TEar) - Had SHED TEARS at first ... slight error causing much tripping / erasing / rewriting
  • 35D: "Time to rise, sleepyhead!" ("Up anD AT 'Em!") - I cannot see this phrase without thinking of Radioactive Man, the comic book character on "The Simpsons," whose catchphrase is "Up and Atom!" When Rainier Wolfcastle (a Schwarzenegger look- and sound-alike) plays the role of Radioactive Man, he cannot say the catchphrase properly - he just keeps saying "Up and at them!" no matter how many times he's prompted correctly.
  • 61A: Sunshine State school (FloriDA TEch) - never even saw the clue... so I must have been flying through the SE portion of the puzzle (appropriate place for a FLORIDA school)

What puzzled me today? Well, I don't gamble, so I had no clear idea about 36A: Craps natural (seven). Who named "craps?" You'd think that game would have found a new name by now. I have never (or barely) heard of The Great NATE (73A: "Great" kid-lit detective). Encyclopedia Brown - him, I've heard of. My hero. I still remember one of the mysteries he solved where he knew some note was forged because it was dated June 31. I remember thinking at the time, "Damn it (I had a profane mind even at 9)! How did he know that?!" I had MISER for MIDAS (3D: Greedy monarch). As I wrote in MISER, I winced a little, feeling its wrongness, but ... it fit. At the time. I tripped all over EVAC (28D: FEMA recommendation, briefly). Something about the clue feels off. As if there were many possible EVACuations, and FEMA had ideas about which you should choose. Like many (maybe) I had BEER before I had BREW (26D: Cold one) and wanted TRA instead of SOL (50D: La preceder). For vagueness, my least favorite clue is 23A: Temp's work unit (day). I have never temped, but ... it feels like this answer could have been many things. OK, perhaps not many things in three letters, but still. HOUR? SHIFT? WEEK? Could not for the life of me recall what the hell Roy G. Biv stood for (48A: The "R" in Roy G. Biv). It was only after I got RED from the crosses that I remembered it as a mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow. I realized today that I don't know what exactly "batik" means (32D: Like batik fabrics (dyed)). Snazzy clue of the day goes to 63D: Pastry prettifier (icer), both for alliteration and for the boldly absurd word "prettifier." Sounds like a weapon. Or a kitchen implement.

What I loved, or at least liked:

  • 16A: Blessing-inducing sound (achoo!) - wanted SNEEZE, but ACHOO is better
  • 49A: Trojan War hero (Aeneas) - I love all classical lit clues. I teach the AENEID every year. And yet ... I have to quibble, slightly, with the contention that AENEAS was a Trojan War "hero." He certainly fights in that war. But he is barely featured in The Iliad, and is best known not for his fighting but for fleeing the burning city of Troy with his father, son, and household gods in order to start a new civilization elsewhere (namely, Italy). In some redactions of the Troy story, he actually betrays Troy to the Greeks, along with his pal Antenor. . . but now I'm wandering into mythological minutiae.
  • 53A: Surveyor Jeremiah, for whom a famous line is partly named (Dixon) - my brother-in-law's name. I would never have gotten this without the part of the clue that follows "Jeremiah."
  • 55A: Beatle, endearingly (mop top) - so cute, though I did want a specific Beatle at first and couldn't figure out whose pet name began with "M"...
  • 71A: TV shout-out from the team bench ("Hi mom!") - I just love the phrase "shout-out"; probably not many "Hi mom"s coming from the Sox bench last night. Ugh. Meanwhile, the Rockies, whom we'll now call God's Team, continue their impossibly infallible ways, sweeping the D-Backs and getting to the the World Series for the first time in their short history. I will be rooting heavily for the American League team to Krush the upstart, badly-uniformed Johnny-come-latelys.
  • 45D: Schedule B or C, e.g. (tax form) - had the "XF" and thought "uh oh" and then read this clue. Perfect. Love those unexpected consonant combinations.
  • 58D: Terrible twos, e.g. (phase) - great clue, though my mom insists than one is a way harder age than two, and I have to agree.
  • 18A: Gimlet garnish (lime) - Mmm. Delicious. Here's one of the more memorable passages from my favorite novel, The Long Goodbye (by Raymond Chandler):
We sat in a corner of the bar at Victor's and drank gimlets. "They don't know how to make them here," he said. "What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow."

Speaking of entertaining books from the 50s, the paperback covers keep rolling in at Pop Sensation (my other blog). Check 'em out. "Up and at them!"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Karen 9:05 AM  

I remember that Encyclopedia Brown story...I thought it was September 31st the check was dated. A good reason to learn the number of days in each month.
I also enjoyed this puzzle, but was only one second above my previous best Tues time.

Orange 9:14 AM  

My favorite Encyclopedia Brown tale was when a know-it-all gets busted by guessing that the pronunciation of the Russian PECTOPAH is "peck-TOE-pa" when it's really "restoran," as in restaurant.

Hobbyist 9:47 AM  

I liked the washroom tub being correctly called a basin. Americans always call it a sink which is not found in the washroom or bathroom. A sink is in the kitchen!

Orange 9:53 AM  

...Although sink is defined as "a water basin fixed to a wall or floor and having a drainpipe and generally a piped supply of water," so that kitchen sink is nothing but a big basin. And then basin means "a washbowl; a sink." I grew up in a washbowl-using family, but now it's the bathroom sink.

Does it look like I'm procrastinating at all this morning?

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

A British friend of mine says "Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain" for the colors of the rainbow

will nediger 10:14 AM  

That Aeneas inclusion is timely - I'm currently reading (parts of) The Aeneid for some of my courses. And yesterday, a friend of mine who is a Virgil scholar informed me that it was Virgil's birthday.

Alex 10:31 AM  

With the answers SALARIED and WAGE, along with (23A: Temp's work unit), I thought we might have a work-themed puzzle on our hands. Nope. But I did like seeing STAND AT EASE directly over YES SIR, and any "Dragnet" clue (39A) is just about going to make my week.

BT 10:44 AM  

When I was in about 4th grade I wrote a Thank You/Fan letter to Donald Sobol, author of the Encyclopedia Brown series, in care of the publisher. He wrote a short note back on a card... it was quite a thrill for a young boy!

Hobbyist 10:47 AM  

I hate fact that sink and basin have become synonyms. As bad as a present being a gift etc.No use fighting progress I guess.

Orange 11:09 AM  

I actually quit procrastinating and started working, but am taking a quick break to mention that the crossword documentary, Wordplay, will be aired on PBS tonight. You'll spend time with Will Shortz, constructor Merl Reagle (who syndicates his own Sunday puzzle and thus seldom submits his work to the NYT), puzzle fans like Bill Clinton and Jon Stewart, and crossword tournament stalwarts like Tyler Hinman, Al Sanders, and Ellen Ripstein—and get an inside look at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

john farmer 11:27 AM  

Here's another one for Encyclopedia Brown.

dk 11:39 AM  

I keep trying to determine if there is a master plan for some words appearing in the puzzle. Yarn and skein seem popular these days.

And, I just figured out that "him om" is Hi mom... suggesting my Ph.D. came from... a basin!

Eric 11:39 AM  

Nice easy Tuesday, with great clues.

My favorite Encyclopedia Brown is when the contest winner ices down his mouth before the chili eating contest, and uses his twin to finish the tag team.

Kumar 11:44 AM  

Growing up in India, I learned VIBGYOR as the mnemonic for the colours (yes, that is how we spell it there) of the rainbow in order. Had to read your blog to figure out where the answer, "Red" came from.

Duh, Roy. G. Biv is VIBGYOR turned around!

mike 11:46 AM  

I think of a BASIN as not having a drain?

What is the difference between a present and a gift?

I left a late post this morning on yesterdays pop culture thread.

Thanks for the heads up on wordplay.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

SALSA instead of SAMBA added a full minute or two to my time.

awol 12:40 PM  

Baa humbug. I hope Mr. Shortz feels sheepish for having bleating sounds in the puzzle two days in a row.

Jerome 12:45 PM  


If the Indians lose to the Rockies, will it then be the time to turn for the Patriots for salvation?

Annielee 12:56 PM  

I had never heard of Roy G. Biv, so it's nice to finally know who the heck this guy is.

My childhood detective was Nancy Drew; my kids read the Encyclopedia Brown books.

I also think of a basin as not having a drain. Before she got indoor plumbing, my grandmother's house had wash stands in each bedroom that held a basin and a ewer. In my house we have sinks, except for the one in the laundry room, and that's a tub.

Joe 1:20 PM  

I was also thinking of Ranier Wolfcastle when I was filling in UPANDATEM. After I finished the puzzle and pulled up your blog, I laughed out loud when the first thing that caught my eye was the picture of Radioactive Man. Nice work...

Fergus 2:07 PM  

The puzzle seems as haunted by ILSA as poor Ric muttering into his whisky late at night at the gin joint.

The Chandler quote would seem to make a rather sickly gimlet, unless Rose's Lime Juice were more dilute in that more dissolute era.

jean 2:52 PM  

I like the cross of salaried and axed. If you're one, you can't be the other.

flailer 3:06 PM  

Orange-- is it a national PBS broadcast, or only local? What time? I've been wanting to see it...

Fergus: indeed, a very sickly gimlet. In my world they involve a bit of actual lime juice to offset the Rose's-- and, like martinis, come in both the gin and vodka variety. but it's true, no one knows how to make them...

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

"The Long Goodbye"? That explains much.

Hobbyist 3:55 PM  

A present is given by another person. A gift is a talent or something given by nature or god, depending upon one's beliefs. I hate the use of gift to mean a present. There are no free gifts by definition.
Oh well. Nobody seems to agree w me.
Eat Good at Chicken Out!!

Rex Parker 4:07 PM  

That definition of "gift" is simply inaccurate. Quick perusal of an authoritative dictionary shows that.

According to OED, "present" is definition 3a of "gift," where "faculty bestowed by God" and "talent" are 6a. and 6b., respectively.


rick 4:10 PM  

The time Wordplay is on PBS varies widely by city. I live in an area where we get three PBS stations. On had it on at 4:00AM this morning, one has it on Thursday and the other on Saturday.

Check Titan TV, it has listings for the entire country by area code.

jae 4:31 PM  

An good early week effort with some unusual fill. I got slowed down by putting RAGE for 1a and ALINE for 2d. I learned ROY B GIV in HS Physics to remember the primary colors. I thought this was pretty standard but I guess not?

Fergus 5:06 PM  

What's worse than losing the distinction between present and gift is the use of gift as a verb. I've heard "How much can you gift?" and "He gifted you with that?" Perhaps people are merely trying to revive a participle or conjugation of "to give" from the Middle English? Sorta doubt it. Maybe a Chaucer scholar can clear this up? If I'm gifted with something as a birthday present, I would be tempted to give it back. Depends on the gift -- I'm not all that prinicpled.

Orange 5:11 PM  

Flailer, Rick is right—check your local listings. Try here or check your local PBS website.

Hobbyist 5:19 PM  

Thank you. Fergus. Now I am not alone. Gift and present indeed differ in meaning.

Elizabeth 5:33 PM  

Re: Alex 10:31 am

Has anyone else picked up the association between the Dragnet cue and the "Mathnet" character (a popular show on PBTV in the late 80's/early 90's) whom I believe is the voice of a character (Bart? Lisa?) on the Simpson's. I believe I saw this actress on the "Inside the Studio" edition about The Simpsons. I am not a Simpson's fan per se, but for Rex's sake I thought I would bring this up . . .

rick 6:42 PM  

I know this is a NYT crossword blog but I just finished the Sun puzzle and got my hat handed to me for a Tuesday.

It's a tough one unless you get the theme early, I got it late and it was a forehead slapper.

May I suggest an abbreviation for this blog only: FS for forehead slapper?

rick 6:47 PM  

Oh, and as far as color acronyms does anyone remember the color code reminder for resistor values?

It definitely is not G rated.

billnutt 7:08 PM  

Add my name to the list of Encyclopedia Brown fans, although I'm darned if I name a favorite. (The one with the male dentist named Vivian comes to mind.)

In the FLASH comic book, Cary Bates created a color-themed supervillain called the Rainbow Raider. He was a disgruntled artist whose real name was Roy G. Bivolo. I always got a kick out of that.

"Ilsa" again??? I love the movie, too, but...

mac 7:58 PM  

As a former temp (although not in the US, I would think "hour" would be more appropriate.
The discussion about gift and present was fun. It reminds me of a French/English speaking friend who often tells me her husband "offered" her one thing or another, and I'm always tempted to ask her if she accepted it......
Encyclopedia Brown is a mystery to me.
Off to get ready to watch "Wordplay".

jae 8:09 PM  

My guess at the clean version of resistor mnemonic is "Our Bad Boys Ravish Young Girls." I may have left something out?

Karen 9:09 PM  

Jerome, if the Red Sox sink, the New England Revolution will be in the playoffs to turn the tide.

Martin 10:41 PM  

For black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, gray, white, I remember

Bad Boys Race Our Young Girls But Violet Generally Wins.

Martin 10:42 PM  

Except we didn't say "race."

tiger 8:30 AM  

I've been checking this blog for just a few days now and i wonder why, in the crossword grid, one word is always shaded and one of its letters is colored.

As for Tuesday's puzzle, achoo gets my vote for nicest clue.

Nemr Abboud,
Beirut, Lebanon

Sue 12:12 PM  


Probably too late to reach you, but everyone had moved on to the next day when you posted.

When you use Across Lite software, the word you are currently working on is gray, the last letter entered is red.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

I didn't like Encyclopedia Brown or the Hardy Boys. I liked reading Nancy Drew!

My mom used to complain about me reading Nancy Drew. My dad told her to shut up, he's finally found books that he likes to read so leave it alone!

I still like to read Nancy Drew to this day!

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