TUESDAY, Mar. 11, 2008 - Eugene W. Sard (CAPTAIN QUEEG'S CREATOR)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: pessimism / optimism / apathy

What an odd theme. I guess it works OK. The most interesting aspect of this puzzle, however, is not its theme, but its handful of very cool compound answers. What in the world is a SEA SCOUT (20A: Waterborne youth group member)?! Where do these scout troops exist? East coast? West coast? I love the term, even though it feels entirely fictional to me. I also like CAT TOY (25A: Stuffed mouse, maybe), primarily because the clue sounds like an option on a very exotic dinner menu, while remaining completely non-UNAPT (52D: Not suitable). Lastly, there's SPYHOP (45A: Springing bounce in tall grasses, as by an animal, to view the surroundings), which is one of my favorite new words of the year. I had everything but the "P," briefly considered SKYHOP, and then eventually figured it all out. Something about the image that SPYHOP conjures up is just ... adorable, I think. These three answers alone make the puzzle eminently worthwhile.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Is pessimistic (expects the worst)
  • 38A: Is optimistic (hopes for the best)
  • 60A: Is apathetic (couldn't care less)


  • 14A: Exotic jelly flavor (guava) - I thought this said "jelly bean flavor" at first; the answer would be appropriate in either case.
  • 16A: Boston suburb (Lynn) - not too familiar to me, but I think I've seen it before. Wife says that the name LYNN came up a lot in the labor histories she had to read in grad school.
  • 29A: Diving bird (auk) - first of all, I just love this bird's name. Up there with SKUA and ERNE in my "favorite crossword birds" list. But I like AUK even more today because it intersects WOUK (19D: Captain Queeg's creator). AUK WOUK, AUK WOUK ... looks like some Inuit language, or a sound R2D2 might make.
  • 43A: Hobby knife brand (Xacto) - fabulous-looking word, one which I'm surprised I haven't seen more often.
  • 41A: Eliot of the Untouchables (Ness) - eerie timing on this one, given what happened to Eliot "Ness" Spitzer yesterday. I just Freudianly typoed NESS as NEXX.
  • 62A: March plaything (kite) - little known fact: it's illegal to play with KITEs in any other month. Only March (...?).
  • 1D: Dark _____ (Ages) - evidence that this house is overly saturated with Harry Potter: I had Dark ARTS.
  • 2D: Elegance (luxe) - really don't like this word (as an English word - it's perfectly good as a French word).
  • 4D: Forum greetings (aves) - something about this makes me laugh, and honestly, I don't know why. I think maybe friends and I may have used this "greeting" facetiously when we were learning Latin in grad school. I know I am a nerd; there's no need to point out the obvious.
  • 5D: Masked scavengers (raccoons) - you do know they aren't really wearing masks, right?
  • 25D: "Love and Marriage" lyricist Sammy (Cahn) - I never can remember if it's CAHN or COHN. For better or worse, this song is irrevocably associated with the opening credits of "Married, With Children" in my mind.

Still unwell, and must teach today, ugh. Talk to you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


PhillySolver 8:50 AM  

I wish I had a magic pill for you. My wife swears by Airborne. Try something, at least you will feel like less of a victim.

This puzzle was fun and only the second one I see by Mr. Sard. I had to go back to the NE to finish as LUXE and TAPAS eluded me because I didn't know SEASCOUT. I do wonder how they earn their Merit Badges. Also, I had to wait for TOBY and COHN ( I thought KOHN) until the end when they shared the CATTOY.

Pete M 9:25 AM  

I was as perplexed as you by the March aspect of the KITE clue, though a quick Google search does reveal that most kite festivals seem to occur in March. Who knew?

Squash's Mom 9:25 AM  

At least RACCOON was spelled correctly in this one.

I wasn't as fast at this puzzle as I have in past Tuesdays, but It did have a lot of enjoyable fill.
LUXE slowed me down a lot.

I loved that XACTO was a gimme, and SPYHOP conjures up cartoonish images for some reason of animals popping up all over.

Hope you feel better soon, Rex.

parshutr 9:27 AM  

Lynn, Lynn, city of sin
Been there once, never agin.

Humor from the Hub of the Universe.

Bill from NJ 9:31 AM  

Funny thing about SEASCOUT. It was in the Boy Scout Handbook when I was in the Cub Scouts in the '50s

I heard of the Sea Scouts without ever knowing what they were. That little bit of knowledge came in handy 50 years later.

It's why I love crossword puzzle so much: I know so much more than I thought I did.

Loved SPYHOP. First I ever heard of it but it reminds me of Tigger.

Frances 9:37 AM  

My image of SPYHOP is a cute little waitress carrying a tray full of state secrets through the parking lot to a man whose face is hidden by the brim of his fedora.

Jim in Chicago 9:50 AM  

One word - RUTTY??

John 9:51 AM  

SPYHOP sounds ridiculous to me. The clue made me think immediately of PRONK (a word I love but don't think I've ever seen in a puzzle), but it wouldn't fit.

Who knew you could have one TAPA? I didn't find this puzzle to be very easy -- I got completely bogged in the NE because of WOUK, MYRRH and LYNN, which didn't come to me for a long time (even with only a couple missing letters...).

Loved the attack with eggs/stones clue pairing.

william e emba 10:17 AM  

I thought of PRONKing also, but I believe that kind of jump is unique to the springbok, so on a Tuesday it would have to be clued more directly.

Someday I'd like to see WASTE clued via Thomas Pynchon. Or heck, anything clued via Thomas Pynchon.

SEA SCOUT is in Wikipedia, of course. Who knew?

James F 10:25 AM  

A good and appropriate Tuesday puzzle, IMHO. SPYHOP's obviously use IHOP as their secret headquarter locations.

Growing up in the Midwest my only exposure to the Sea Scouts was through the Hardy Boy books, but 45 years later I knew exactly what the clue was about. I'm not sure if Frank and Joe were former or current members, but in a couple of their mysteries, the Seas Scouts came in handy. I sure wished that I could have joined up! Of course, I was reading the "first" editions, before they were updated/"recycled," and I don't know if the Scouts were kept in the later versions.

PhillySolver 10:37 AM  

It is fresh now, but here is a memory aid to help you recall Spy Hop

It has whales and so I am still looking for one from the savanna. It is easier to view these You Tube links by opening the comments section up in a new tab. You can then return to the comments page more readily.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

@phillysolver - way cool spyhopping whales. I will never forget spy hop now. Thx.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

@phillysolver - also thanks SO much for the tip on opening comments in a new tab. Never thought of that, and the unresizeable popup has been like reading the comments on my cell phone screen. To say nothing of losing them when I followed a link. This one tip has changed my life!

puzzlemensch 11:09 AM  

One major goof by Sard, I thought. The saying is: "The wise man expects the worst, hopes for the best, and takes what he gets." Since "takes what he gets" is also 15 letters, I wrote it into 60A immediately after getting 17A and 38A. Did that ever screw up the whole south!!

Otherwise a fun puzzle.

TCBuell 11:28 AM  

Whenever I see "Boston" and "Lynn" in a puzzle, I think of Red Sox center fielder Freddy Lynn, whom I loved to cheer from the bleachers when you could still walk up and buy a ticket at Fenway.
- Tom

MargaretR 11:55 AM  

At 36D, I thought my beloved ASTA would make an appearance as she hasn't been around for awile. Alas, I had to admit that SKYHOP made more sense than SKYHAP for the new-word-of-the-day.

a fun, easy puzzle which I needed because of all the time it took to read the news from NY today!

jae 12:34 PM  

Strange but interesting puzzle/theme with colorful fill. I also had ARTS at first and knew SEASCOUTS from my scouting days in the 50s. I'm still trying to sort out SMEE vs. SNEE, the latter is a knife (dirk) while the former is a duck and Hook's underling? SPYHOP is a great word/visual image. Philly, thanks for the link.

Got the ACPT puzzles in the mail yesterday and will tackle them over the next week.

Eric H 12:35 PM  

SKYHOP reminds me of the new-ish term "prairie dogging," which is sort of the human equivalent. PC Magazine defines it thus: A phenomenon that occurs in cubicle-filled office buildings. Whenever there's a loud sound or other unusual occurrence, everyone pops up to look over the walls to see what's happening.

Bill D 12:44 PM  

Fun puzzle today; slowed down only briefly in the SW. I agree with Rex on LUXE - I left the "X" out until the cross filled it. FOG is not steam, clue needed a "maybe" modifier. RUTTY is not great, but acceptable. It's at least as acceptable as UNAPT - I'm sure INAPT is the far more common usage! I've never had one TAPA, either. Was all set for a rant on SPYHOP, which I was sure was contrived, but the orcas have convinced me!

GUAVA is one of my favorites - filled it in immediately just because. Need those March winds to keep the KITEs flying, I guess. When I was in the Boy Scouts I always wished I could be a SEA SCOUT but never actually saw one!

@puzzlemensch - sometimes knowledge can be dangerous. The puzzle would have been much better had the final theme answer matched your quote!

@philly - thanks for the great orca link and the even greater Windows tip; I was going to ask if there was a better way to view the comments screen but I didn't want to appear dense. Guess the cat's out of the bag now!

The makers of Airborne lost a class action suit and I think your wife can get in on the settlement. Check out:
(I don't know how to make a link, either, I'm afraid!)

karmasartre 12:51 PM  

@frances -- I had allocated an hour this morning to ruminate on the glorious SPYHOP, but you completely nailed it! I owe you.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

Philly, it's Sammy Cahn, not Cohn. I had a great image going for a bit when I gilded the horse. I go braindead like Jae on Smee/snee. Unapt sounds very stilted. Spyhop? Now there's a word I use everyday. Ditto on the hope Rex is feeling better. This is a great blog community - what connections I feel like I have with all of you - we must all have the same mis-wirings in our brains.

IMSDAVE - the struggling blogger

Joon 1:47 PM  

i was also confused about why kites are march playthings. to be perfectly honest, i figured it was a little women reference--it never occurred to me that they might be talking about the months.

i haven't read little women in decades. do they play with kites? and if not, why not?

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Mel Brooks
"The 12 Chairs"
1970 Frank Langella, Ron Moody.

Song Chorus:

Hope for the best, expect the worst,
Some drink champagne, some die of thirst,
No way of knowing
Which way it’s going,
Hope for the best, expect the worst!

Hope for the best, expect the worst,
The world’s a stage, we’re unrehearsed,
Some reach the top, friends,
While others drop, friends,
Hope for the best, expect the worst!

Hope for the best, expect the worst,
You could be Tolstoy or Fanny Hurst.
You take your chances,
There are no answers,
Hope for the best expect the worst!

Hope for the best, expect the worst,
The rich are blessed, the poor are cursed,
That is a fact, friends,
The deck is stacked, friends,
Hope for the best, expect the –

(even with a good beginning, it’s not certain that you’re winning;
even with the best of chances,they can kick you in the pantses)
Look out for the, watch out for the worst! Hey!

Hopefully, in Hood River

BT 1:59 PM  

If you were in NYC over the weekend and don't understand why KITES=MARCH, then you weren't paying attention to the 50 mph windstorm that went on overnight.

You get more warm/cold air masses colliding, storms move through, and the back sides of them have higher winds.

(and I had forgotten about Boston=Hub of Universe. People in Boston use that phrase. Nobody else does)

chefbea 2:10 PM  

so how do you open the comments in another tab?? cant figure it out. I have a mac. can someone please help?

Richard 2:13 PM  

Lynn - home of Lydia Pinkham and Marshmallow Fluff.

Charlie Brown got his kite tangled in a tree every March.

Greg 2:36 PM  

Spyhop - love it - I am imagining the little spies from "Spy vs. Spy" in Mad magazine bounding up and down through the high grass, looking not for one another, but a place to have breakfast!
Spyhop for iHop!

happy Puzzling!

mrbreen 3:33 PM  

@chefbea: control+click the comments link. Select "Open link in new tab"

miriam b 4:26 PM  

I moved a bookcase preparatory to painting a wall today and found two CATTOYs between it and a radiator. The 5 cats have these things secreted all over the house, but they were thrilled beyond meows to see these particular mice - greeted them like long-lost buddies.

Does anything besides whales SPYHOP? Maybe the gopher in Caddyshack?

David 4:37 PM  

Hey Rex:
Sad you are still under the weather, but at least the NYT seems to have finally put out a Tuesday puzzle you enjoyed!

I was surprised at all the comments on SPYHOP, since my reaction was "Oh, that again", since I know I saw it quite recently (clued as the similar dolphin action, where they sometimes stay up quite a while riding on their tails), and the NYT puzzle is the only one I do. Very odd. I do havea book of NYT puzzles I very occasionally use, maybe it was in that. I have actually seen this term outside of XWords too, in some great David Brin SciFi books.

Sad that I didn't get 100% on today's, SPOTS was I thought a fine answer for 10D "Job Openings", and PYNN seemed as good an answer as any for some ^&$&# Boston suburb!

Addie Loggins 5:02 PM  

Today's puzzle was okay, nothing problematic, but nothing particularly cool about it either. On the plus side, perhaps this puzzle will be read by some of the MANY people who indicate indifference by saying "I could care less," and they will realize that they have been saying it wrong without me having to point it out to them.

On an unrelated topic, I just got word that my office is having little party at 1:59 pm this Friday. Any guesses as to what they'll be serving? :)

ArtLvr 5:08 PM  

@ Phillysolver: Me too --many thanks for the tip on using the Control key to get a new window! I appreciate getting better use out of the Mac nearly as much as the wide-ranging comments on vocab and unapt clues!


Anonymous 5:14 PM  

Hope it's Key Lime Addie


Addie Loggins 5:18 PM  

@imsdave: Kudos! Wow, the people on this blog are so smart ... or so geeky ... or both.

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

Sad to say, both - great puzzle though Addie - took me a few minutes - and please see my previous comments on the folks on this blog

imsdave - the inept blogger

Catherine K 6:18 PM  

I always thought LUXE was an adjective. Oh well, it's too snooty a word to use in conversation anyway.

I also did not know that TAPA was the singular for tapas. "I will have a smoked salmon tapa, please." That would cause blank stare from the server. Just like when you ask for a biscotto for your coffee.

David, I also had SPOTS instead of SLOTS, not having a clue as to the names of Boston's suburbs. My mother lives in Toronto, and she thinks she's in the hub of the universe. Better not tell her about Boston...

When I read "Forum greetings" all I could think of was an internet forum and tried to think of some anagram like LOL or IMHO.

All in all, a medium, rather than easy puzzle for me today.

TCBuell 6:25 PM  

Hub yes, but never heard anyone in Boston talk about the universe. (That went without saying.)

foodie 6:28 PM  

This theme reminds of the journey of applying for federal grants to support scientific research. You hope for the best while you're writing (otherwise you'd shoot yourself-the process is tedious), and you expect the worst after submitting the proposal (to guard against shooting yourself, given the types of comments you typically get). But these days, the system has gotten so crazy thanks to the war in Iraq, with such low odds of funding, that most scientists strive for the nirvana at the end of the puzzle: couldnt care less...

DJ 6:42 PM  

Awesome blog. I just discovered it, and it is immediately going into Google reader! Can't wait to read tomorrow's entry.

fergus 7:00 PM  

And I figured that the length and specificity of the Clue was a clear indication that SPYHOP was coined just to fit into this puzzle. I'm a bit disappointed to learn that it's a real word. Guess it probably has to be, according to what I believe to be the conventional rules.

A very lively, entertaining puzzle. Sometimes the completed grid looks sort of drab, but this one conjures up all sorts of activity. I, too, pictured SPYHOP as a noun, but not quite as colorfully as Frances above.

jilmac 7:07 PM  

My husband was a sea scout in England fifty odd years ago. Apparently they spent their time messing about in little boats on a river and re-furbishing the boat house!!!!

Anonymous 7:17 PM  


Michael 7:32 PM  

"spyhop" is a great word, but I am surprised to see it on a Tuesday. I guess it is ok because all the crosses are easy.

scriberpat 7:47 PM  

My youngest brother, Ricky, was a sea scout. One time I went with him and another sea scout on the Atlantic Ocean in a small motor boat. I didn't ask to see their manual but I got the impression they were learning boating skills and appreciation of marine life.

doc John 8:13 PM  

@ David, Catherine, anonymous: I also had SPOTS

I also had "wacky" for a while until I looked at the cross and realized there weren't such things as "ydes".

@ Addie: My high school English teacher's pet peeve was "I could care less".

Bill from NJ 8:30 PM  

In the 40s, there were Air Scouts as well as Sea Scouts. Everywhere Scouts.

And is anyone tired of ALOE yet?

DONALD 8:41 PM  

Miriam B said "Does anything besides whales SPYHOP? Maybe the gopher in Caddyshack?"

Yes, check link for SKYHOP at New York Times Crossword in Gothic, for skyhop as clued in puzzle.

John Reid 8:50 PM  

Personally, today's puzzle felt a little tough to me. I don't know why, exactly... somehow, as I was solving it, a lot of the clues kept striking me as being worded very strangely. I never really felt like I was on solid ground, even when the crossings worked out. I wouldn't have called it easy for a Tuesday. I think partially it had something to do with all the nifty esoteric sounding answers that have drawn so many comments (SPYHOP, SEASCOUT, CATTOY.) I thought the WOUK/AUK crossing was a little tough, but auk sounded familiar enough that I went with it. I felt lucky to come away without errors today though!

Rex - why not take a day off if you're sick? I know for a fact that your students wouldn't mind! I work in a community college (SUNY ECC actually,) and the students *LOOOOVE* it when classes are cancelled! I know it's hard to miss the time though. Feel better.

Frances 9:14 PM  

@Catherine K

And if someone spraypoints just a single sentiment on a single wall, that would be a GRAFFITO--another lost singular!

Frances 9:15 PM  


They weren't pointing the spray can, they were painting!

mac 9:16 PM  

I couldn't do the puzzle today since my husband left with the NYT and when I tried to find it online I found the NYT website quite uncooperative. They lured me in with a free registration, and then, on a new page, insisted on getting a credit card number. So much for that, especially since I get the NYT delivered every morning! A very unfriendly site. Could someone give me the meaning of the word "pronk"? I know several people with that last name.

Catherine K 9:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine K 9:29 PM  

SPYHOP as a noun... is that the guy that handles your suitcases at the CIA convention?

green mantis 9:33 PM  

I'll never be tired of aloe as long as I am clumsy and prone to injury as I am, Bill. Good stuff.

Regarding this spot/slot, pynn/lynn question, I tend to think that, even if one doesn't know the cross for certain and either one of two letters could work, there is still a subtle but available means for making the best possible guess. I don't know for sure, as I am not a great solver, but I'm guessing that the ability to make those kinds of calls is part of improving at this game. Lynn just looks better than Pynn as a name for a person or place, and I would go so far as to say that slot has a slight edge over spot in the context of job openings. When in doubt, feel it out...

Garett 9:42 PM  

I'm just glad to know I wasn't the only one who initially filled in 1D with ARTS...

Ulrich 9:49 PM  

@mac: I had the opposite experience. I get the NYT delivered only on Sundays, but still can get all the puzzles for free. When you create an acct. you have to know your acct. no, which I didn't bc. our delivery service does not stick a label on the plastic. So I called the NYT and they gave me the no. right away.

jannieb 10:42 PM  

Since it's now long past breakfast, I'll admit to how I knew "Lynn". A friend always jokes about driving from Boston and being greeted by the sign "Now Entering Lynn". Too funny to forget.

bstat 7:18 AM  

Hi Rex,
I couldn't get this to work last night. Sorry.
I learned this little ditty from my Boston-bred nephew. It is recited with a small child bouncing on you lap.

On the way to Boston
On the way to Lynn
You better watch out, or
You're gonna fall......in! (with child dropping between your legs, usually giggling madly)

Thank you for this wonderful blog which I thoroughly enjoy every day. It was a pleasure meeting you Sunday morning at the tournament. (I told you I was a lurker and was only there for the finals). Congratulations on your much improved ranking.

chefbea 8:15 AM  

mrbreen - thanks so much for the info on opening a new tab!!

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

I was a SeaScout ... ok, the new term is Sea Explorer (co-ed Boy Scouts for 14-18 year olds). We earned badges for knot tying, sailing, first aid, and just about everything else you can in scouts.

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