1970s Robert Young TV role - TUESDAY, April 14, 2009 — Barry Boone (Congos name before 1997 / Simpsons teacher who was called Mrs. K)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hi. Andrea Carla Michaels filling in one last time for Rex. As some of you eagle-eyed folks noted yesterday, yes, it's true, I was actually the blonde dancing around in the Rick Astley video. I get residuals every time "Never Gonna Give You Up" is played on YouTube … so after yesterday's Rickrollin' good times, I now have enough to retire to ZAIRE (10D: Congo's name before 1997). Thank you, everyone!

So it's nice to go out on a solid Tuesday Barry Boone puzzle. Many of you may recall Barry was "retired" after accusations of "alleged" steroid use, helping him to set some sort of baseball record, but now a repentant BB works off his community service sentence by writing crosswords for the NY Times.

THEME: True to his name, Barry Boone has hit a home run in constructing a puzzle with a boon of theme answers: "Hidden Gems" — Five sets of gems are "hidden" in long phrases with consecutive letters circled in addition to the explanatory phrase HIDDEN GEMS, thus creating a "playing field" of 60 squares of theme answers: His "diamond" has answers the lengths of 10, 11, 9, 9, 11, 10!

Theme answers:

  • 17A: 1985 Glenn Close/Jeff Bridges thriller ("Jagged Edge" = jade)
  • 21A: Mail service made obsolete by the transcontinental telegraph (Pony Express = onyx)
  • 32A: Simple swimming stroke (dogpaddle = opal)
  • 40A: Widening in a highway, maybe (toll plaza = topaz)
  • 53A: 1970s Robert Young TV role (Marcus Welby = ruby)
  • 59A: What the long Across answers with circles have (HIDDEN GEMS)
He has traded one diamond field for a field of diamonds … or something like that! You would never realize it was the same person, but he sneaks in signature clues like 26A: Most Little Leaguers (BOYS), 38D: World Series org. (MLB), and 54D: Catch and throw back as fly balls (SHAG). Barry was very clever not to have clued SHAG with an Austin Powers reference where we would then have to brace ourselves for sniggering comments by ACNED BRATs (ACH!) about its double entendre meaning in the other English-speaking nation.

Instead, we get some nice back and forth … 42A: Lenin's "What IS TO Be Done?" seems to be answered by the other Lennon's 44D: "Let IT BE." (Actually, it was written by Paul … but still!) 50D: Tree with "catkins" (whatever the hell they are) is sweetly paralleled with the theme answer DOGPADDLE. And for every highbrow, sophisticated clue/answer such as 34D: Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet era, e.g. (DISSIDENT) there's a less highbrow 63D: "Evil ERNIE" (comics series).

Some of the interesting pairings are even self-contained in the clues, e.g. 44A: Eisenhower and Turner (IKES) is so visually evocative — I can totally picture DDE and Mamie across a candlelit table from Ike and Tina on a double date … from hell! Speaking of DDE, if I had any nits to pick about this puzzle, it would be that there were an abundance of three letter initials: BLT, ETO, EKG, GRE, MLB, LPS as well as ten (count 'em, ten!) fill-in-the-blanks with partials such as INOR, ISTO, ITBE, ASTAR, TOSEE. Although there is something I like about TOSEE, it feels like a cross between Tushie and Watusi.

Speaking of which, I'd like to take this opportunity (as it's my last blog before I watusi my way to the Congo) to complain that I get the letters WATUSI on my Scrabble rack at least once a game, which is illegal to play in Scrabble, and yet is almost impossible to make another word out of. On a positive note, however, this puzzle was very Scrabbly with a nice sprinkling of Zs,Xs, Ks, and a J. If only AGUA (28D: Contents of the Spanish Main) had been AQUA, the puzzle would have been one F away from a pangram! (And only one clue away from having NO gratuitous Simpsons references! 56D: "The Simpsons" teacher who was called Mrs. K (EDNA)! D'oh!)

It's now after 1 a.m. so I'd like to put this blog to bed to the dulcet tones of my favorite answer "LOLA" (37A: In a Kinks hit s/he "walked like a woman and talked like a man"):


Aw c'mon, now, I needed 37 more cents to get to Zanzibar … ciao ciao, rafiki!

60 comments:

chefbea 9:37 AM  

Another great write up. Thanks Andrea!!!!! (I like to use exclamation marks!!)

Fun puzzle.( Hopefully Mac will get to do this as she is into gems!!) Very easy again today.

HudsonHawk 9:50 AM  

Super write-up and puzzle. I didn't mind the 3-letter initials in the grid, as most are what you would say in conversation rather than the spelled out alternative (BLT, EKG, GRE, LPs and ETO, if I ever talked about WWII commands casually with friends).

"I would have the Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich, but my doctor advised against it after my last ElectroCardioGram. Oh, and there was an unusual question about Long Play records on my Graduate Record Examination."

Doug 9:54 AM  

Terrific puzzle and terrific analysis. My Tuesday is on its way. I had only one hiccup -- Tollbooth first instead of Tollplaza.

john farmer 9:56 AM  

Dancing must be a good-paying gig. At least you made more than £11 from YouTube...though I'm still having a little trouble feeling sorry for this guy.

Good job with the entertaining write-ups. Rex who?

XMAN 9:58 AM  

I got PONYEXPRESS and DOGPADDLE right away, so naturally thought the theme was something to do with animals. This caused some mischief. It was a fun Tuesday.

treedweller 10:16 AM  

CATKINS are the male flowers of quite a number of treesadn other plants, and the female flowers of a few. They resemble small caterpillars. Five-letter trees with catkins include pecan, the salix family (includes willows), birch, ALDER, beech, and hazel. Others are the oaks, mulberries, cottonwoods--the list goes on.

As treedweller, I see these clues and think, "great, something I should get instantly." Then it turns out they want a tree that only grows in the Swiss Alps or Outer Mongolia and I have to get it from crosses. ALDER is unfamiliar to me, though not quite as obscure as my hyperbole above. I most commonly see them on oaks (live oaks, Shumards, Chinkapins, Post oaks, Monterreys, and Shin oaks are the ones I see a lot here). Right now, most of our pecans are well catkinned (I don't know if that's a word, but it should be). They tend to cover me in pollen and make me itch and sneeze.

ArtLvr 10:29 AM  

Gesundheit, Treedweller -- I'm glad you pointed out that "tree with catkins" is almost as vague a clue as "tree"!

My teeny hitch was at Spanish Main, which made me think seasick and thence Ague until TOLL PLAZA popped up.

Anyway, bon voyage and thanks, Andrea...

DanaJ 10:34 AM  

A fun puzzle and nice write-up, Andrea. Enjoyed KETTLES of fish and EIGHTBALL. Only hangup was LENTO, for which I really wanted Largo.

Elaine 10:41 AM  

Great job filling in for Rex, Andrea! Thanks.

joho 10:44 AM  

Great write-up as usual, Andrea. And a wonderful puzzle, as well. All's good this Tuesday.

I loved all the scrabbly letters in the grid forming words like SAJAK, BONZO and SAXON. I even counted to see if this would be a pangram (something I never did before discovering this blog) and only came up short an F & a Q. A point already noted by Ms. Michaels.

I also loved ATE DIRT.

Thank you, former baseball great, Barry Boone!!!

Crosscan 10:45 AM  

I love reading Andrea's write-ups as I know they are 100% true. They must be, everything you read on the internet is true.

As I was doing this puzzle in my Rolls, just back from my round the world cruise in my yacht, I was thinking - how will ELLEN feel being between ZAIRE and ATEST?

Why did I first write MARCUS SMELBY? Did Marcus smel? Why isn't EIGHTBALL in the corner pocket? Isn't LOLA over TOLL PLAZA a "L" of a combination?

What IS TO be done? Let IT BE. Whatever happerned to my 8-tracks?
When You Wish Upon A STAR, does Pat SAJAK appear?

Back to my Rolls. Home, James!

All true!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dk 10:49 AM  

Waking up with Andrea two days in a row (insert heavy sigh about here).

I will not click on any of the links in the blog for fear of HIDDENGEMS.

As I posted earlier I love this puzzle and found myself jumping from clue to clue. Slowed me down but it was fun.

As I say to all my acolytes it is the journey not the destination. Sometimes I say stop and smell the roses or go slow to go fast or measure twice cut once. Most of the time I say nothing. Acolytes sheesh, talk about a KETTLE of fish.

As I confessed to Chefbea1, as a lad I once ran all the TOLLPLAZAS on the CT Turnpike aided and abetted by a certain Kim P. from Westport.

Off to DOGPADDLE my way through another day.

Greene 10:51 AM  

Pretty easy puzzle, but still satisfying. I'm looking forward to difficulty amping up a bit tomorrow. Excellent work once again from Andrea today. I was still half-expecting some Rickrolling today. I'll bet those fish stew containers at 23A are actually warm copper KETTLES. Sorry...I've got The Sound of Music on the brain this morning.

jeff in chicago 10:52 AM  

Not my favorite kind of theme, and too many fill-ins for my taste, but still a fun puzzle, with WASPS and BRATS and Evil ERNIES. I might argue that 3D should be "It's often last to be sunk." I was unfamiliar with ATEDIRT, but I love it. I want to use that in a normal conversation soon.

Well done ACME!!!

jeff in chicago 11:10 AM  

@Greene: Is your "Sound of Music" fixation related to this smile-inducing video? (Not Rick Astley...I promise.)

This also is funny. (Still not Rick)

And this might be the cure for S.O.M. obsession. (Really...no Rick in any of these)

joho 11:16 AM  

Crosscan: nobody tells the truth as funny as you do! I had to laugh at, "Home, James" as the plate for our Mini Cooper is JAMES FC for James Fenimore Cooper and I often say "Home, James" while driving (thankfully only in my head.)

fikink 11:16 AM  

Thanks, Treedweller! (Do you believe we are having a difficult time getting the nurseries to bring in corkscrew willows here? I thought they were so common!)

An enjoyable Tuesday puzzle by someone who redirected his steroids use. The DISSIDENT in me
DEEPLY appreciated your treatment of America's favorite pastime, Andrea.

ATE DIRT reminded me of EAT WORMS.

chefbea 11:19 AM  

@jeff in chicago. Love the video of the Antwerp station. Someone sent me that just last week!!!!

ileen 11:32 AM  

I was just over 9 minutes on this puzzle, which met my goal of breaking 10 min for a Tuesday puzzle. Next up, breaking 5:00 some Monday. Is there a way to start typing right away with the online puzzle, or do you have to click twice to fill in 1A? I need every second I can save.

I hope Rex is having better weather wherever he is than NYC - cold and cloudy.

allan 11:35 AM  

I thought this one was a winner. Just right for a Tuesday, and Andrea's write up was equal to the task.

BTW, Barry is a decedent of Daniel. Got that from his wiki page.

The trouble is that that guy from Canada is in to stealing everyone's thunder. As usual, hats off to Crosscan.

Ulrich 11:40 AM  

This was my first puzzle in quite a while, and leery as I was trying to get back into the groove with a Tuesday puzzle (note the heavy irony here--I have never been IN the groove, puzzlewise), I was very pleasantly surprised by this one--who woulda thunk old Barry had it in him.

And to make things better, the write-up comes from a soulmate--now I AM grooving, perhaps I'll even try my hand at yesterday's puzzle--nah, too many pictures still to take care of...

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Tres jolie, je l'aime bien.

PlantieBea 11:52 AM  

Another nice writeup Andrea. Thanks! I too thought this would be a hidden animal puzzle. Not!

Skiing at Alta is the best. I liked the range of letters as mentioned before. Catkin clues are good; I always think of a birch that my kids when younger called the pickle tree because of the greenish long catkins.

chefbea 11:52 AM  

welcome back Ulrich - Will your fotos be on your blog?

edith b 11:56 AM  

I liked the fact that the gem spellings were consecutive giving this one one a nice patina. I guess all the abbreviations and partials were the trade off to accomplish this feat. My only hiccup was in the Midlands - formerly known as Flyover Country (sorry, fikink).

The movie "Jagged Edge" is distinguished by Glenn Close wearing three (!) different outfits in the same courtroom scene.

Liked this puzzle just a little.

twangster 12:01 PM  

Great write-up. Thanks for highlighting the Kinks, the greatest band in rock history. I patiently await the day when a puzzle theme will be Kinks titles (LOLA, APEMAN, SUPERMAN, COMEDANCING, WATERLOOSUNSET, YOUREALLYGOTME). Maybe a double-clued ALLDAY and ALLOFTHENIGHT.

Doug 12:07 PM  

@jeff, really liked that Antwerp video. The buildup was great!

Nice writeup ACM, as I hadn't thought of the baseball/diamond/field angle, but it made complete sense and added another dimension to the puzzle.

NYT missed a chance to offset their perceived left-leaning tendency (Obama/McCain) by not cluing ROVE as "Bush fire starter" or something like that.

Nice puzzle, like its Scrabbliness. Both Monday and Tuesday have been really interesting so looking forward to the rest of the week.

Barry 12:07 PM  
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Barry 12:23 PM  
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Barry 12:26 PM  

Hi Andrea, Thank you very much for the write up! I'm glad you enjoyed my puzzle! It was a fun one to do!

-- Barry Boone (nee Bonds)

Shamik 12:32 PM  

Andrea...great write-up. Silly me. Rickrolled. Again. ACH!

@dk: LOL did you even run the ones up around Branford and Orange or just the ones in Norwalk and Greenwich?

Easy puzzle here, but quite fun. And think the idea of a Kinks' song title theme is fabulous!!! Then maybe someone will really put LOLA up on the blog.

Great to have time to write today.

fikink 12:32 PM  

Welcome home, Ulrich. Looking forward to your jpegs.

@edith, no problem, as you have probably discerned, we enjoy living out here under the radar and popping our heads up occasionally. (As a few Somali pirates learned this weekend, timing is everything.)

@Doug, did you see we lost A (porn) STAR yesterday?

Karen 12:43 PM  

Ileen, you can click just once (and start on the down clues) and that will save you a second. Congrats on your good time.

This puzzle was in the Boston Crossword Tournament. My thought after completing it was 'Nice puzzle. What the heck is Evil Ernie?' I thought I was up to date on my comics, I guess not

retired_chemist 1:22 PM  

Nice puzzle - shouldn't have taken me almost 9 min but it did. The writeup is the real treat, however. ACME, lady, you did it again!

MARCUS WELBY was a Geezer Gimme, SAJAK should be a gimme for geezers young and old, and the fill was all fair. Fun, right on for Tuesday IMO.

treedweller 1:28 PM  

@ArtLvr

"Tree with catkins" is a little closer to cluing Julia Roberts as "Actress with brown eyes." Certainly accurate, and slightly more distinguishing than "Actress," but still quite vague and not anything she's particularly known for (to me, anyway--I had to google up a pic so I would know what color to use).

Rex Parker 1:32 PM  

Thanks to Andrea et al for filling in. Please tune in tomorrow to support my newest (and youngest) guest writer.

Can't open puzzle via Explorer in this Internet cafe where I sit at the moment. Very frustrating. Well, mildly. Enjoying time off. First time I've been on a computer since Friday (some kind of record for me). We are living in a large house on top of a small mountain in the jungle - howler monkeys and crazy bird calls at 3am ... two scorpions so far ... green hummingbirds. etc.

Went on zip-line thru jungle canopy yesterday. Video and pix when I return.

Forced to play Scrabble last night. Narrowly lost to wife. Played EBON as a kind of Crossword Protest against the whole game. There were several YETIS on the board. Well, a YETI, and a YETIS, and then YE-I that I was hoping someone would connect with a "T" - didn't happen.

If I can ever get a xword-friendly browser, I'll comment on puzzles.

More when I can,
rp

joho 1:51 PM  

@Ulrich: welcome back! Nice to know you didn't eaten by a shark. The puzzle also welcomed you with an ACH!

SethG 1:54 PM  

I have a quibble! There are two Congolese republics--"Congo" is the conventional short form of Republic of the Congo. The former Zaire is Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC.

jeff in chicago, the smile-inducing video was awesome. Kind of a cross between Improv Everywhere's Food Court Musical and Frozen Grand Central.

And Andrea, you don't fool me. I _knew_ your Kinks link would actually go to Weird Al Yankovic's Yoda. In case anyone wants to see the actual Kinks song, it's here.

I just bought a Korean Mountain Ash, which I will name Kim Tree.

Noam D. Elkies 2:04 PM  

Probably my favorite of the four Boston puzzles.

Not sure what to make of the quirky writeup. Anyway I'd never heard of 54D:SHAG used in a b*seball sense. Whatever.

o&o,
--NDE

PhillySolver 2:08 PM  

SethG...Pop up Videos! I watched a ton of them flying internationally some years ago. FOr some reason Continental put them on their video menu.
ACME, great stuff, but why does Rex mention a young blogger? What are you? 25? XO
Ulrich, you wouldn't believe the hash of the German language made here while you were gone. Please write mac and see if she is ok. She wrote that she was sunbathing in Holland in April. We are all concerned.
Treeperson...I thought cat kins were feline relatives.

Xavier 2:19 PM  

A nice fun quick puzzle that I was lucky to finish correctly. I had to guess the L in ALDER and I wasn't sure if it was A or O ending either EBRO or BONZO.

I don't think I will ever get tired of getting Rickroll'd. That song was still stuck in my head last night as a went to bed! It'll probably be there for a few days.

Xavs

acme 2:39 PM  

@seth
You got me!!!!! you're right, life will never be the same! I have to say I loved the pop up comments about the fight over the rolled up sleeves, etc.

@ulrichroll,
Welkommen B-ach! You must do yesterday's puzzle! Lots of fun AND a theme answer AUF DEUTSCH!

@phillysolver
Younger, newer, what can I say?
It's the way of the world! But I can vouch he's adorable and I feel secure in my dotage and I'll always have dk! ;)

(sent from my iphone in Tanzania)

PIX 2:41 PM  

Is it a state or federal law that says all puzzles must have one Simpsons' clue? I would like to get the law repealed.

jae 2:49 PM  

Nice two days of write ups andrea. Enjoyed both puzzles but thought yesterday's was a tad edgier and harder.

allan 2:50 PM  

@Rex: Wow, scorpions! Don't let the bedbugs bite.

Just in case you haven't been able to keep up, both your Sox and my Yankees are sucking wind at the moment. Good thing it's a marathon!

imsdave 2:54 PM  

Nice puzzle, great fill, good theme, Ulrich is back, extra Andrea blogging, Mac showing up yesterday, a really nice LAT, surprise visit from Rex - what's not to like?

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

trying to be, 5wl....

Sorry, but the link to the syndicated puzzle is off. Taking us to 03/06. thx

- - Robert (back to the past)

dk 3:54 PM  

Perhaps is we all believed in fairies @evil doug will come back.

@shamik, we started in Westport after a night at the club in the cellar of the Ice Cream Parlor. We went all the way to the last toll booth made a u-turn on the other side and came back to WP. Needless to say if I had been given a Rorschach test every card would have been in full motion. This was in 1970 and the toll at each booth was a quarter.

treedweller 4:00 PM  

@PhillySolver

The only feline connection I can think of to catkins is that they grow on pussy willows. And kitties would probably enjoy playing with them, given the opportunity.

edith b 5:19 PM  

@PIX-

I don't care much for "The Simpsons" myself and have seen more clues to them than I care to see.

Do you that know Rex loves "The Simpsons", that it is his favorite show. He is the host of this blog you know and since this is the second or third time you have made this point, I'm wondering if you are doing it just to goad him or if you are truly unaware of this fact.

I know how Rex feels about commenters making snarky comments at one another but - just my 2 cents worth, same as you.

Ulrich 5:21 PM  

@chefbea and all those green with envy: A slide show will be ready in a few days.

@phillysolver: I'm glad I missed this--the Internet connection was lousy on our barkentine.

@acme: will do.

allan 6:55 PM  

@dk: Assuming you ran 10 tolls in each direction, you ran up a bill of $5.00. Add interest for 39 years and your bill goes to roughly $3793.87. Add in the accumulated fines and, near as I can tell, you owe the State of Connecticut $7,937,832.01!!!!!!!!

foodie 7:11 PM  

Good Tuesday puzzle... and wonderful write up, Andrea! I, too, like the counterpoints: the zippy stuff--- SPEED, ZEAL, EXPRESS modulated with softer stuff-- LENTO, LILT and AMORE.

In my infinite ignorance, I had never heard of Evil ERNIE. For a minute, I could imagine @evil doug in that corner, on a SETTEe underneath those HIDDEN GEMS.

@SethG, you know everything, so may be you can explain: Why would a country with a perfectly good name like Zaire change it to one that's already taken?

@Jeff from Chicago, I LOVED that smile inducing video. It also made me think that it would be interesting to have it in a modern day mystery story... A criminal is hiding among that crowd, who pretends to have been somewhere else, but a clever detective catches a shot of his back (you can never disguise a back, as all Agatha Christie fans know) and voila, mystery unraveled!

@Andrea, lol! "ciao, ciao rafiki" has never been uttered in the history of humankind! Do they say rafiki (my friend) in Congo/Zaire?

jeff in chicago 7:57 PM  

I just saw a "Family Guy" episode in which Brian (the talking dog) sings "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley. Not quite a rickroll, but close enough.

SethG 8:03 PM  

@foodie, Ali fought Foreman in Zaire, and George Foreman named his 2nd and 3rd daughters Georgetta and Freeda George. His sons, he named all five of them George.

I can only assume there's something nomenclaturally challenging about the place.

DRC is a bit smaller than 1/4 of the size of the US, has a bit less than 1/4 of the population, and has about 1700 miles of paved roads.

foodie 8:07 PM  

haha!! true LOL... That was amazing. I bet you just spewed that out! I mean you SethG...

Lisa in Kingston 9:56 PM  

@acme: You, young lady, are a GEM! And a bit of a scalawag, I might add. ;)

acme 12:00 AM  

@foodie
well, I only know three words in Swahili: Simba = lion
Hujambo = hello Rafiki = my friend
I didn't know how to say goodbye, or if they even speak Swahili in Zaire...it was my idea of a joke and to continue to confound NDE with my "quirkiness"!

@Hudson Hawk
Having reread your initial remarks, I totally now agree with you and think that is a much more generous way of looking at things!

@dk
Re: Allan's calculations...
don't worry, I've got you covered, but that Pam chick is on her own!

@Lisa
Thank you! (I think!)
;)
Hasta luego, amici!
(Sent from my iphone in Zimbabwe)

Lisa in Kingston 12:14 AM  

@acme: never a doubt here, Andrea, you are a gem.

John 5:57 AM  

Rex, Lavender on the window sills will repel those pesky Scorpians!

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