MONDAY, Jun. 2, 2008 - Barry Boone (HEATER OR REPEATER)

Monday, June 2, 2008


Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: THE FOUR ELEMENTS (7D: What the starts of 22-, 36-, 41- and 50-Across comprise)

I do like this type of puzzle structure: a 15-letter theme-revealing answer coming straight down the middle of the puzzle, right through all the theme answers. I would have liked this puzzle slightly more if THE FOUR ELEMENTS had intersected not just FIRE and EARTH, but WATER and AIR too - but that may well have been impossible. I also like my theme answers a little longer than 7 letters (unless there are a Lot of them). And what's with EARTH ORBIT - I'm sure it's a valid concept, but there are many better, more in the language EARTH + 5 phrases. EARTH ANGEL. EARTHQUAKE. OK, so there's at least two. Further, a puzzle like this is always more elegant if the theme answers are used in non-theme contexts; in this case, that would mean using the elements in non-elemental contexts, which, again, may be completely impossible. AIR DATE and FIREARM transcend elementality, but EARTH ORBIT and WATER COLOR are still pretty elemental. So many angles to consider. In short, this puzzle would have been Perfect if the theme-revealing answer had a. intersected all the elements and b. featured the elements in all non-elemental contexts. As perfection is rarely if ever attainable, we should be happy we got the puzzle we got. It's good.

Except for a few Ugly words - especially ugly for a Monday. OCTAD hurts (5A: Group of eight). It hurts! And ironically, OCTAD's symmetrical counterpart, RESEE (65A: View again), has caused me to go blind at the horror of its non-wordness. It's really one of the cheatingest, most horrible "words" in the book. I had to guess (correctly!?) at 46A: Treaty of _____ Litovsk, 1918 (Brest), which seems rather la-di-dah for a Monday. SEXTON wasn't that easy either (20A: Church bell ringer). I had SECTON at first because I misremembered ALEX Trebek's first name as ALEC (3D: "I'll take Potpourri for $200, _____"). And yet I stared at 1A: Calves' meat (veal) wondering what the hell it could possibly mean. Why is CALVES' written as a possessive?? [Calf meat], OK. [Calves' meat] sounds like it's meat that calves eat, which, dear God, had better not be veal. That's how mad cow happens. PIG MEAT = pork. COW MEAT = beef. I mean, I'd never use those phrases, but they make sense to me. The possessive does not feel right (though I'm sure there's precedent). I looked at that clue and started trying to think of another word for the "meat" behind my shinbone.

Theme answers:

  • 22A: Heater or repeater (firearm) - wife had never heard of "heater" before; I tried to assure her that it was a semi-olde tyme crime fiction slang. I don't know if she was buying it. More on wife's reaction to puzzle below...
  • 36A: Revolutionary pattern of the moon (earth orbit)
  • 41A: Non-oil painting method (water color) - a really ungainly clue
  • 50A: TV Guide info (air date)

Much of what I have to say about the rest of the puzzle is affected by the post-puzzle conversation I had with my wife.

Wife: "I'll bet there are some people who are Not going to be happy with 4D: The Civil War, for the Confederacy (lost cause)."
Me: "I don't think the people who are likely to be upset by such a clue are really crossword puzzle people."

Wife: "Do you really call old people 'golden AGERs?' (11D: Golden _____ (senior))?"
Me: "No. No you don't."

Wife: "Why isn't a 60A: Countess's husband a count?"
Me: "I ... don't know. Maybe EARL is England's version of Count. Count seems very European." [I was pretty much right]

Wife: "Who is SHERE Hite?" (39A: Sex researcher Hite)
Me: "You're a women's historian, shouldn't you ..." [wife glares at me]

One last way this puzzle relates to my wife: yesterday, she inexplicably and hilariously brought me home a bottle of Sierra Mist, the label of which was plastered with the image of Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart. Apparently the promotion for this summer's "Get Smart" movie adaptation has already begun. I don't drink soda (much), but this bottle is so cool-looking that I might not have a choice. Oh, and this relates to the puzzle ... because KAOS is the 10A: Evil organization in "Get Smart"

Misc.

  • 19A: "Man, oh, man!" ("Jeez!") - first, this is just a contraction of JESUS!, right? And if so, isn't it ... offensive ... to someone ... somewhere? Come on! Lord's name in vain! Anyone? Hey, is "GEE" related to "JESUS?" For the record, I say "aw JEEZ" an awful lot.
  • 24A: Japanese maker of watches and calculators (Casio) - first, I always want to put two S's in this answer. Second, CASIO feels eternally mired in the 80s to me. If they have made a product since 1986, I don't know about it.
  • 27A: Weight of diamonds (carat) - once again ... screwed it up and went with "K"-spelling.
  • 43A: Fashion's _____ Saint Laurent (Yves) - R.I.P. He died yesterday.
  • 1A: Winery containers (vats) - just seemed too ... downmarket to be right. Wanted something fancier. Why?
  • 46D: It can be constricting (boa) - I had ... BRA. It's a good, good wrong answer.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

41 comments:

ArtLvr 8:35 AM  

It's sad to note that 43A YVES Saint Laurent died yesterday in Paris, but he'll surely live on in xword puzzles! Interesting that one obit emphasized his role as "reworked the rules of fashion by putting women into elegant pantsuits", while another first said "will be remembered best perhaps for making menswear sexy".... At least we can hope that, at only three months older, the renowned conductor Zubin MEHTA 15A is going strong! There's an echo of the two legendary figures in 38A ARTS and 55D ARTE.

Coincidence too in that we just had THE FOUR ELEMENTS of antiquity, so the solving may have been faster than usual for me. In any case it is nicely worked into today's theme. My only hesitation was at the amusing 53A RAGTAG which looked like ragged and then ragbag before getting sorted out, and went with 29D RATTY.

I didn't care for the awkward 65A RESEE (who says that?), but overall the fill was fun with several older pop culture references from ARLO on... Good Monday puzzle, and thanks, Barry Boone.

∑;)

PhillySolver 10:39 AM  

Didn't I just resee Resee Witherspoon on tv on a rerun? Ach!

A short time ago I read one of those tidbits in a business section that said CASIO had just sold its one Billionth calculator which doesn't compute on mine. I think they have officially replaced fingers as a way to count.

Anyone know Mr. Boone? A nice Monday puzzle and good-bye to Yves St.Laurent, Alav hashalom.

Jim in Chicago 10:46 AM  

Just back from a long vaction and getting back in the swing of the puzzles.

I fell into the OCTAD/OCTET trap and had SHERI instead of SHERE, leaving me with TANRATHIR, which I tried to parse every way I could think of TAN RAT HIR??? Until I had my duh moment.

I do have a problem with the Civil War being a Lost Cause. Was there really no chance of them winning? Gotta read up on my Civil War history, I guess.

For the OCTET/OCTAD alone, I've rate this a solid Medium for a Monday.

MargaretR 10:54 AM  

I like to do the puzzle on the Times Reader, but it's on the fritz. The ACROSS clues can be seen only one-by-one and don't link to the cursor to make typing easy. Is anyone else having this problem?

mac 11:00 AM  

I thought it an easy-medium - I have never done the NYT puzzle this early in the morning! May be the secret to my success.

How fitting to have Yves mentioned today. R.I.P. He made women's clothing so much more comfortable.

I hadn't heard "heater" for a firearm before, but with those crosses I had to accept it.

When I looked at 22A, I first filled in "air...", fixed it and with just the T of octad filled in 7D, probably because was in the puzzle so recently.

What is an Earth Angel, Rex?

Chrees 11:06 AM  

You know it's a Monday morning when, after putting SIDEARM in 22A, I look at THE SOUR ELEMENTS and it still takes a minute to correct it. Jeez. Oops, I mean "Man, oh, man!"

alanrichard 11:07 AM  

This was one of those 3 minute ez puzzles, would you believe 4 minute, would you believe....Good to see something from Get Smart! Its also good that there are Brain Basher Sudouku's to do early in the week when the Times puzzles are Verrrrrrrry EZ.

Addie Loggins 11:28 AM  

I wrote OCTET (because, well, I prefer actual words to non-words), and wouldn't ya' know it? "Tom Brokaw" has the exact same number of letters as "Dan Rather." Took me awhile to sort that one out.

Plus, I misread the clue "seep" as "sleep," and so I had "doze" rather than "ooze."

Other than those missteps, it was a solid Monday for me.

I understand the clue "heater" for FIREARM, but why "repeater?"

imsdave1 11:28 AM  

@mac - earth angel was one of those fifties songs - I think by the Penguins? Octet/octad is one of those answers I always wait for a cross before completing (kind of like ache/ague). I wonder if Will keeps a file like obit writers, ready to pop out a puzzle/obit at the appropriate time?

Ted 11:34 AM  

Perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me, but I'm pretty sure that this theme has been done before in a previous Time's puzzle. I know it has been done in the Sun, but there it was a rebus.

mac 11:36 AM  

Thank you @imsdave1!
I bet you are right, Will has a file, this has happened before.

Ladel 11:36 AM  

Nice, breezy, tightly constructed ditty to drink coffee and eat croissant by. We should all be humbled by what man is capable of, we actually used to believe everything was made up of the theme answers, and now we have a robot scratching around on the surface of Mars. Perhaps one day we will melt our atomic weapons and turn them into air conditioned John Deere tractors.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

@ addie loggins - repeater is a repeating rifle.
Nice puzzle to start off the week. Two Ponies

dk 11:48 AM  

JEEZ, I thought it was gheez. I had Octet and Sheri and for the life of me I could not figure out who Tanrathir was.

I was taken a back by the calves meat clue as for the most part I thought they ate grass -- who knew they were cannibals.

I liked the mini oater theme with ROYROGERS and TONTO.

Sad to see Yves in the puzzle and read his obit the same day.

Time to OOZE into the work week.

Nick 11:49 AM  

Oh my god, I was thinking Bra for that as well, that's hillarious. Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is a pretty easy one for those who have taken at least a semi-intensive Euro history course, so I didn't think it was that bad. I hated 13-down ("Oh yeah? ____ who?") because they made it spell 'sez' which is just not nice. For literally 20 minutes I was stuck on just that one clue because I knew it must be 'says' and didn't know how it could fit in only three boxes and have an 'e' as a second letter. I also put 'Seiko' for 24-across initially, which messed me up, but then realized it must be 'Casio'. I didn't really know if either company made calculators.

Arby 11:50 AM  

Nice puzzle - but I also don't get "FIREARM" = repeater. I choose to interpret that "TAE" kwon do, and "JUDO" being in the grid are serving as "OMENS" that I will ace my blue belt test this evening. Hopefully it is not a "LOSTCAUSE", because my green belt is looking decidedly "RATTY". KIYAP!

Nick 11:53 AM  

@arby: A repeater is an old-fashioned name, I believe, of a pistol that can fire multiple shots without being reloaded, like a revolver.

miriam b 11:54 AM  

Yes, an easy and fun puzzle.

ESCALATOR isn't always a lazy person's stairs. Sometimes nothing else is available for changing levels.

YVES St. Laurent's passing saddens me. I'm not into pantsuits, but his Rich Peasant look of the '70's really resonated for me. Fortunately, I sew. My favorite fragrance is his Rive Gauche.

Without YVES, RITA would have been a RATTY, RAGTAG GAL; in short, a LOSTCAUSE.

I eat practically no meat, so 1A might have offended me sufficiently to cause me to abandon the puzzle, but I proceeded anyway and am GLAD I did. Gotta keep an open mind.

I plan to add metal to the FOURELEMENTS today and read up on feng shui.

Joon 12:09 PM  

easy puzzle, yes, but i liked it. good cluing for SIZES and ATEST (i'm so sick of [Big bang] and its ilk), and generally scrabbly fill overall for a monday. i especially liked JEEZ crossing KOJAK and SEZ.

RESEE gets the big yuck from me. the quick fix seems to be changing TONTO to TONGA and RESEE to RESTS, to get GAT and TRAPS instead of TAE and TROPE. there are other solutions that involve OCTET (heh), which would seem to be a no-no with OCTAD already up there. it's a shame to lose TROPE, a word i very much like, but TROPE isn't as good as RESEE is bad. plus, it's pretty similar to GROPE, which is already in there.

great line from oz in (i think) season 4 of buffy, when somebody thanks him for the loan of his boombox for a party: "me CASIO es su CASIO."

archaeoprof 12:24 PM  

Rex, your wife has it right. Down here in SC we have some folks who are still fighting "the War of Northern Aggression," but they tend not to be crossword puzzle people.

imsdave1 1:28 PM  

My 88 year old father got me a book of old Sunday puzzles - 1983 -1998. He would be appalled at being called a golden AGER, btw. I'm posting this as a challenge to my friends and mentor on this site. This is from a block of crosses from one of the old puzzles (I'm guessing 80's, as they have no dates). Without googling, wikiing, or dictionarying, solve the following clues:

marabou
unguis
singer Patina
weather satellite (hint, I had --r-s)

And let me know if I violated some rule by posting this.

Best of luck all.

Orange 1:40 PM  

imsdave: I'm going to guess something akin to STORK or feather BOA for marabou. Unguis...does this have something to do with fingernails? NAIL? No idea on singer Patina. Patina Paturner? Is the weather satellite TIROS?

PhillySolver 1:46 PM  

@ imsdave

I recall TIROS, but not what the acronym stands for, but maybe something like Orbiting Satelite. I know inguis as a toenail from a previous medical condition and love Maribou Swedish chocolates (see it isn't capitalized though). My old Singer Sewing machine has a patina. Does that count?

Thanks for the challenge as it works for this Golden Ager.

miriam b 1:55 PM  

@imsdave:

Being an opera buff from way back, I could think only of the contralto Irra Petina, but that's not the spelling you gave.

@ PhillySolver: My Singer is relatively new, so it hasn't developed a patina yet.

imsdave1 1:57 PM  

@orange and philly

kudos on the quick replies - TIROS is right (i must me too young :) - STORK is right too, and without the crosses, I have to give you both HOOF for unguis based on your logic. Let's see if anyone get's the obscure singer. And call me Dave - you folks are friends.

imsdave1 2:09 PM  

@miriam b - congrats, expecially with the handicap of my typing. Great community that can get those all without cheating. Last post of the day as I have exceeded the limit - thanks for playing!

p.s. If you can find this 'The New York Times Superized Book of Sunday Crosswords' - pick it up - you'll have a ball.

miriam b 2:13 PM  

HOOF, of course, Dave. Hoofed animals are ungulates.

I remember TIROS, which always made me laugh because it's the Greek word for cheese, and similar to the Hungarian "túró", with the same meaning. I don't actually know either of those languages, but I'm an adventurous cook who fiddles around with various cuisines, picking up terminology as I go.

Now I have a hankering for túrós csusza, but I know better than to post the recipe here. If you like cottage cheese, noodles, sour cream and bacon, Google it and enjoy.

JC66 2:43 PM  

@imsdave1

"earth angel was one of those fifties songs - I think by the Penguins?"

You're right, up to a point, but it's my recollection that Earth Angel was much more than just one of those songs. It was one of the first songs to cross over from R & B to Rock n Roll.

Alan Freed played the record for perhaps three hours straight one Friday night to introduce it. This was before the term PAYOLA was coined, but was surely in action.

Per Wikipediea, the Penguins' rendition is considered by many to be "the grandaddy of rock n' roll" since it was one of the first records which could be described as rock and roll to hit the national pop charts.

For many years it was considered the National Anthem of Rock n Roll.

As a teenager, I spent many hours dancing and making out to Earth Angel.

Take a listen:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=zme35J92OWo

korova 4:03 PM  

When I come across a clue like 7D that refers me to the starts of various answers, I generally pay no attention to the specific numbers but simply scan the grid for the obvious ones. Today, once I had gotten elements, my overly quick eye alit on AIR..., WATER...--so far, so good--and also "CAR[AT]" and "SEX[TON]." At that point, I had "THE----ELEMENTS" and was quite intrigued by what might fill in those four spaces!

chefbea1 4:27 PM  

A really easy puzzle. So Now I have time to get the wine out of the vat, make a Brest of veal and serve it with Idaho potatoes of course. All garbage will of course go in a glad bag.

Loved Earth angel

imsdave - I never heard of those words I'm going to cheat and google Patina

jannieb 5:18 PM  

Ok puzzle for me - more easy than medium for me. It seems like the puzzles keep repeating themselves lately - or at least there are more than a few common threads. I was hoping reruns would be restricted to TV fare.

As for "jeez", let's pretend it's a contraction/respelling of Gee Whiz.

Joon 5:47 PM  

i suspect "gee" and "gee whiz" are also derived from the name jesus. people have been modifying the lord's name so they can take it in vain for a long time, it turns out. if you want to go old-school, we could all say "od's bodkins!" instead.

karmasartre 6:22 PM  

@jc66 -- It was also a hit by the Crew Cuts, I think primarily on the west coast.

Anonymous 7:16 PM  

Typo in your "casio" description. You mean "two S's" and not "to."

Otherwise, excellent recount of today's puzzle!

Joon 9:54 PM  

would it be rude to inquire about the weekly wrap-up? seems like we haven't had any of those in ... a while.

mac 10:49 PM  

Anonymouse lurking. Email Rex when you find a spelling mistake!

Barb in Chicago 10:57 PM  

RP, your "bra" answer is hysterical. Why didn't I think of that?

I always want two esses in Casio, not one.

imsdave: I have that book! Bought it a couple of years ago at Costco. I'm always struck by how time-dependent some clues are. Or should I say era-dependent. It is definitely a hoot. Bedtime solving for me.

Bill from NJ 12:04 AM  

When I was younger I lived a short time in the South - my father was stationed at MacDill AFB near Tampa - and we had friends who referred to the Civil War as The Late Unpleasantness Between the States. Not being from the South, I was never sure how to take that expression. By the same token, I believe The Lost Cause was euphemistically used to describe that war by Southerners.

TANRATHIR

I wonder at the number of people who looked at that combination of letters in sheer bewilderment. I had the same problem and couldn't figure it out for the longest time.

It seems that lately I have seen ATEST clued by some form of "this is not _____" rather than "big bang." I've seen it several times in the last couple of weeks in different puzzles.

andrea carla michaels 1:30 AM  

Maybe you thought BRA because of the BREST answer?
Will is not psychic, re YVES...
just one of those moments of synchronicity...I believe he does the puzzles several weeks in advance.
This way YVES will live on...

TimeTraveller 11:50 AM  

Your jump to the syndicated puzzle has been out of step for a few days: today it takes me to last week's Sunday puzzle. No problem. Go to the end and click on Newer Post--except today, when it brings up a one-week old Monday, not the six-week old one I want.

So, back to the archive (as we used to do before the very welcome advent of your "6 WEEKS BEHIND?")

I am struck by the differences between the two views of the old puzzle. Comments come up in a separate window (which cannot be expanded to full screen) on a white background--with the name of the poster in BLUE and little picture. Suddenly the recent chatter about the red and blue world and avatars makes some sense!

This is not any kind of complaint, Rex, merely an exploration of one of the features of a well-loved environment.

boardbtr 12:52 PM  

@timetraveller

I don't know if using Firefox this time allowed me to re-size the separate comment window, but I was able to enlarge it to full screen by clicking the "full screen" box in the upper right hand corner. I really didn't like that format so I right clicked the blue header, clicked size and re-sized it to my liking.


I chuckled at some of the comments since I started with BRA instead of BOA. I also started with OCTET, but the "DAN RATHER" answer prompted me to revise to OCTAD.

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