WEDNESDAY, Oct. 3, 2007 - Robert Dillman

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Gambling lingo

Loved the theme, but the theme answers were the only thing that was even a little challenging about this puzzle. I sailed through it in 5 flat, beating my time for yesterday's allegedly easier Tuesday puzzle. Started at 11A: QB's goals (TDs) - and got all the 6-letter Down crosses instantly - 11D: 1991 Geena Davis title role (Thelma), 12D: "The Sound of Music" hit ("Do Re Mi"), and 13D: "Sophie's Choice" author (Styron) - though I briefly wanted that last one to be STEGNER for some reason. I solved most of the puzzles by getting a single Across answer in a particular section and then rattling off the Down crosses one, two, three (sometimes four). Never even saw the great answer ROSIE (34A: Robot maid on "The Jetsons") because ORD, LOO, ASU, FIB, and ELLA went down in rapid succession. But despite easiness, the puzzle was a joy to do, if only for the unpredictability of the theme answers:

  • 17A: Call in roulette ("Fourteen red!") - so arbitrary, so awesome
  • 30A: Call in blackjack ("Hit me again!") - would you really say the "again" part? Wouldn't you just repeat "Hit me," or else scrape your cards on the table toward yourself, thus indicating by gesture your desire to be hit? I don't gamble, so I know not.
  • 37A: Call in many a betting game ("Double or nothing!") - don't like this clue, in that it doesn't name a game. Name a game!
  • 46A: Call in draw poker ("I'll take one") - that seems right
  • 66A: Call in craps ("Roll the dice") - who says this? Does the player say this? I like the phrase, but ...

Most of the non-theme fill was run-o'-the-mill, with old chestnuts like EDO (32D: Pre-1868 Tokyo) and ORD (26D: Fort _____ on Monterey Bay) and STEN (9D: Old British gun) and ANSEL (73A: Photographer Adams) providing just a few examples. Yet there were a good handful of fresh clues and answers that I admired. I liked 14A: Amor vincit _____ (omnia) because it was a gimme, because it's Latin, and because it's Chaucerian, in that the Prioress in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" wears a brooch that reads "Amor Vincit OMNIA" on it. There was a time when my life was all about Chaucer, so stuff like this makes me weirdly (very weirdly) nostalgic. Loved the partial answers A DUEL (69A: Challenge to _____) and A NUT (3D: "Sometimes you feel like _____..."), even though I've seen that last one before, and quite recently. I just love my coconut and chocolate candy, what can I say? Always happy to see Mr. MOTO (52A: John P. Marquand detective). Don't know why, but I really liked PATTERS (56A: Sounds of walking in moccasins) - perhaps because it's just so cute. ANTI-TAX (20A: For smaller government, presumably) threw me for a loop, but became very uncoverable once I determined that cosmonaut dude was named ALEXEI (6D: Cosmonaut Leonov, the first human to walk in space), which gave me that terminal "X" (not to be confused with Terminator X, the former DJ of Public Enemy).

Aside from ALEXEI, the only new word to me in this puzzle was LIRI (4D: Italian river valley in W.W. II fighting). I was super-proud of myself for getting SLUE (59D: Pivot) with just the "L" in place - it's a word that was not at all in my vocabulary until I started doing puzzles. Also nailed META (54A: Prefix with carpal) but then had trouble getting the simple ETCH (51D: Write permanently), and was befuddled by 45A: Broadcast portion (audio) for a while. Or what felt like a while. Wrote IMPAIR for IMPEDE at first (46D: Hinder). Lastly, unless you are really in bad with the Mohicans, I don't think even your most "diehard enemy" is actually going to want your SCALP (1A: A diehard enemy might want yours).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Go Red Sox / Cubs / Indians / Phillies!


Scott 8:44 AM  

Always a thrill to see two space-age answers in the puzzle, ALEXEI Leonov and the plucky little Lunar Excursion Module (LEM). Only an appearance by the sub-pantheonic chimp ENOS would have made it any better.

Rex Parker 8:48 AM  

ROSIE is as "Space Age" as it gets.

Orange 9:13 AM  

If I never saw LEM in another crossword, that'd be just fine with me. But if you like the space-age stuff, you'll love the 9/30 Washington Post puzzle and the 9/28 Wall Street Journal puzzle (both available in Across Lite via Will Johnston's Puzzle Pointers page).

Alex 9:40 AM  

My standard six-letter Russian name is Sergei. Which is bad since I just put it in and didn't think on it more than the second that it would have taken me to actually remember his name. So that blocked me for a moment.

When I play blackjack I can sit there for hours and never actually say a word related to the cards (instead signally everything through gestures). But some people are quite talky and "hit me again" would probably come up.

Jerome 10:22 AM  

I think one can wager DOUBLE OR NOTHING on many propositions and the term is not related to any particular game.

Aren't Almond Joys the ones with the nuts.

Good luck to the Sox, tonight. I'm rooting to meet them in the Divisional Playoffs.

Rex Parker 10:30 AM  

As I understand it, sometimes you feel like a nut, but on the other hand, sometimes you don't. I always feel like a nut, and yet I so strongly prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate that I'd take Mounds over Almond Joy any day of the week. Didn't I ever tell you all about being in Target and seeing "Limited Edition" Dark Chocolate Almond Joy bars and then looking around to see if maybe God was there because it felt like heaven and then buying The Entire Box of candy bars...? It was a formative moment in my life - if I hadn't saved a bar or two, I would think it was all just a beautiful dream. Turns out when they said "limited edition," they weren't kidding. Very Limited. I'm never eating my remaining bars. Instead, I'm going to create a candy museum in my freezer.


PuzzleGirl 11:09 AM  

72A made me cringe with horrible memories. In my last job, there was nothing worse than finding a "see me" note on my chair. It was always from my completely insane tyrannical boss. **shudder**

Late piping in on yesterday's puzzle but just wanted to add that you haven't really experienced "Green Eggs and Ham" unless you saw the Rev. Jesse Jackson read it on SNL a few years back.

Jerome 11:11 AM  

Your dark chocolate fixation aside, the clue was "sometimes you feel like ____..." and the solution A NUT, ergo Almond Joys.

Here's the ditty:

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

I'll be on the lookout for Dark Chocolate Almond Joy. It would be paltry compensation for such an entertaining blog/blogger.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Where or where would we be in puzzledom if someone had shot Asta with a Sten???

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Probably riding an ibex accross the arno.

Jim in Chicago 11:45 AM  

Rant mode on. I have to say that I HATED this puzzle, despised it with a white hot passion.

Let's start from the top.

1A. Does anybody really say "I want your scalp". I'll have your hide, yes, but I've never heard scalp used in this contect.

36A Buttresses as a clue for AIDS. I'm sorry but buttressing is a very specific term for shoring up something that is falling apart. AIDS is far to broad an answer for this clue.

56A. People PATTER in Moccasins? Isn't the "patter of little feet" the antitheses of what people who wear moccasins are trying to achieve, which is silent stealth?

69A. A DEN is where the man of the house goes to escape things, not to be with the rest of the family.

72A. SEEME is not a request but a demand.

2D. CMON? Really, really stretching here to make bad fill work.

4D. No rant here, just unheard of to me.

12D. Do we need to have DOREMI ever again?

33D. Can we also add ASTA to the banned word list?

43D I've never heard GOO used for anything other than a sticky oozing substance. Drivel has no substance.

58D RODE as an answer for "depended on". Again, in my book, bad cluing.

Rant off. There, I feel better now.

Rikki 11:55 AM  

Being a less savvy and much slower puzzler than you speed racers (remember Speed Racer? - the movie is on the way) this was a relatively easy Wednesday for me. It all just tumbled out like rolling dice. I see Jim's points, but they didn't bug me so much I guess because they were easy to get. The only thing that bugged me was 38D "eek" for comics cry when I was thinking of "comic" as "comedian" and couldn't think of a single comedian who cried "eek." Then, it hit me that it was "in" the comics, not a comedian, and then I felt like a nut. (chocolate-covered favorite). I liked lem cause I knew it, and it was nice to see Rosie, but add Olaf to Jim's list of banned words. I liked the clue "deicing tool." Had to look at it twice, but being an old New Englander, scraper came right out.

Red Sox fever is heating up the house!

O'Laf 12:17 PM  

Pretty straightforward, but had no clue where a Latin phrase I didn't know forded an Italian river I didn't know. I'd like to buy a vowel....

Seems like we've seen SLUE pretty often of late. I still find myself starting to enter SPIN. Not good, since I use ink.

ICES for "knocks off" doesn't feel quite right to me. If it refers to winning a game, the point you ice it is when you assure victory, not the actual moment of victory. Maybe there's some other context?

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

ICES. The other context is The Sopranos.

Michael 1:36 PM  

I love dark choc, too, but dark chocolate made by candy people is never that good. I was thrilled to see Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (my favorites) came out with a dark choc. w/PB limited edition, since I often mix those two together on my own... but coming from the candy factory, it was disappointing.

Orange 1:39 PM  

Jim, what about a lesbian family? Who uses the den in their house? My niece just had a note from her teacher to "Please SEE ME after school." It wasn't a bossy, scary demand. And "buttress" can also be used non-architecturally. You might buttress your argument if you allowed for that.

o'laf, if the hitman ICES you, he has knocked you off.

Orange 2:10 PM  

(Jim—Meant to add that the Mac widget thesaurus does not include aid among the synonyms for buttress. Reinforce, fortify, support, underpin, cement, etc.—all do have a shoring-up sense that is missing from the word "aids.")

campesite 2:18 PM  

Had a wee bit of trouble with the OMNIA/LIRI crossing. Guess I'll have to brush up on my Latin/Chaucer and obscure Italian WWII battle valleys.

Flocko 2:28 PM  

You folks get so upset about seeing the same words over and over again. It's just inevitable in a puzzle where every letter across and down is checked.

You should try a real crossword, like the Listener, perhaps.

Fergus 2:35 PM  

Could add a few more to Chicago Jim's list. This puzzle seemed flat, or straight out dull. Like in a recap of a chess game, I sometimes put question marks and exclamation points by the clues, and today was solely ?s, or even ???s. 44A Impart LEND is another example of what I find to be a humdrum clue. And Knocks off is nowhere near as brutal as ICES or Whacks. I can't think of anyone in "The Sopranos" who was merely knocked off.

My shuddering SEE ME memory was written on the book report I wrote about book I hadn't read. It also included random "Vocabulary" words, picked at random from the dictionary, quite inappropriate for fifth grade usage. Having cited 'licentiousness' from "The Swiss Family Robinson" my teacher knew I was a fraud.

jae 3:51 PM  

Pretty easy for me with the exception of NW. SCALP was not obvious, nor was ANTITAX and I too was iffy about the spelling for the LIRI/OMNIA crossing (I guessed right). Didn't hate it or particularly like it, although the gambling theme was fun. I have uttered the phrase "HIT ME AGAIN."

green mantis 3:54 PM  

Laughing out loud Fergus you fraud. Hey there Jim, easy on the "man of the house" stuff. Plenty of families go to the den to watch t.v. or whatever. I think the idea of a wood-paneled sanctuary where Dad can light his pipe and contemplate his manhood in peace is a little dated.

That said, I kind of hated this puzzle too. Fourteen red? Not at all in keeping with the broader answers for the rest of the games. Maybe "Everything on red" or something. I'm partly irritated because the Washington region was holding me up, and there was nothing about the roulette clue that was helping. You simply had to figure out which of, what, 36 numbers the puzzle wanted there.

Unfamiliar with the cosmonaut, I had "anti-man" for a minute instead of antitax, but I figured that was too cute not to get a question mark in the cluing. Get it? Anti-government, anti-The Man? Heh. Then rolodexed through all the possible things a sworn enemy might want of mine: head, blood, first-born, the deed to my soul?

Also couldn't get Patti for about a decade. Wanted Jimmy or Psalm, which my mind was campaigning for as much better answers, but no enemy wants my scalj. Or if you do, you can have it.

Fergus 5:46 PM  

Faking a book report is fairly widespread, I would imagine. There was a good Simpsons episode where Bart barely even managed to fake the fraudulence. (But what was the book?) A number of teachers I know keep a file of entertaining fabrications, along with many other gems of misinterpretation. My teacher didn't handle this offense with much sympathy, however.

Nice SCALP picture, by the way, Rex.

Anonymous 6:29 PM  

was no one pissed at the inclusion of both ILLTAKEONE and ONE? That kinda stuff really bothers me.

MAC 8:46 PM  

This one was easy and boring. No fun. I don't understand some of you bragging about how quickly you do the puzzle, I like to spread it out as much as I can! A little at lunch (Mon-Wed all done), but much more fun to be able to carry it beyond dinner!
The only clue I learned something from was 60A, Deicing tool. All the rest was GIMME.

Michael 9:54 PM  

I'm not enthusiastic about "fourteen red." Just totally arbitrary.

sigh -- I'm just down because the Phillies lost.

Anonymous 10:30 PM  

Carol's Candy Corner claims to sell the limited edition dark chocolate Almond Joy bars:

And if that doesn't work, you can at least take some comfort in knowing that Al Franken shares your pain:

Kahlaala 3:04 AM  

Rex, A candy museum in your freezer, interesting! That makes me smile. I could say more about chocolate, like warm Schwarffenberger ganache on vanilla IC, but I shouldn't, it's too addicting. So back to the puzzle, about your comment on DOUBLE OR NOTHING, since the answer stretched totally across the puzzle west to east, to me this seemed in fitting with the generality of the clue, whereas the other answers, which referred to specific games, were shorter. Does that seem plausible, or am I just rationalizing? Also I liked this clue because I figured it out with only two crosses, ORD and ASU, very early in the puzzle (7th). Was feeling smug but then found the other theme answers to be more difficult except for FOURTEEN RED, which was arbitrary as GM said, but then again, roulette is arbitrary, and once I had about 4 crosses, I had it. Unlike most, it seemed I had more trouble in parts away from the NW. But it was fun, as was reading the blog. (The advantage of living on the west coast and doing the puzzle before bed, I get to read everything you guys write.) Finally I remain amazed at how people dream up puzzles, for example, coming up with the theme, how does that happen?

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