WEDNESDAY, Jul. 29 2009 — 1970s self-improvement program / Where Olaf I or Olaf II sat / Storied monster informally / Cold War propaganda disseminator

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Constructor: Tim Wescott

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Division representatives — circled squares in theme answers contain the names of team members from each division in Major League Baseball

Word of the Day: GARRET (19D: "La Bohème" setting)n.

A room on the top floor of a house, typically under a pitched roof; an attic.

[Middle English, from Old French garite, watchtower, from garir, to defend, of Germanic origin.]


What this puzzle has going for it is a rather intricate intersecting pattern of theme answers. Rare to see this much theme interlock — definitely a challenge to make it all work out. What the puzzle lacks is strong rationale. At first I thought the teams were completely arbitrary, i.e. "here are six team members from completely random teams. Enjoy!" I then searched for some kind of organizing principle and realized that each team represented one of the six different divisions in Major League Baseball. OK, that's something. But unless I'm missing something, there is no particular reason why these teams are here. Whole premise feels a little loose. Further, some of the theme answers were not so strong. I have no doubt the term "SHORT-WINDED" exists, but who says that? And, as my wife said last night, "Is NORWEGIAN THRONE ... a thing?" Of course, said throne does exist, but it doesn't make for a very nice stand-alone crossword answer. CROP SPRAYER felt a little forced. CROP DUSTER, sure. SPRAYER? Meh. Further, the incorporation of the team member into the theme answers is haphazard. RAY doesn't even stretch across two words. Ever other team member does, but some of those touch every word in their respective phrases, and others don't, adding to the overall arbitrary feel of the answers. Clearly concessions were made in the elegance of the construction in order to get the interlock to work out. This puzzle really needed a theme-revealing answer, a clue that gives us some sense of the puzzle's unifying principle. Something with "division" in it ... something. Would have liked puzzle much better if it had had a theme-revealer and no circles (please tell me you all had circles in the dead-tree version this time...)

Theme answers:

  • 28A: Pesticide spreader, e.g. (crop sp RAY er) — A.L. East
  • 48A: Terse (shor TWIN ded) — A.L. Central
  • 11D: Juicer remnants (o RANGER inds) — A.L. West
  • 24D: Shake hands (co MET o terms) — N.L. East
  • 17A: Argue forcibly (make ASTRO ng case) — N.L. Central
  • 61A: Where Olaf or Olaf II sat (Norwe GIANT hrone) — N.L. West

Despite the fact that the theme execution is a mess, I mostly enjoyed solving it. But I like baseball.


  • 32A: Brian of ambient music (Eno) — I really wish Brian ENO would do something ... this century. We need new clue material, Brian.
  • 37A: Name in bankruptcy news (Enron) — what do you get when you cross Brian ENO with a registered nurse?
  • 69A: Cold war propaganda disseminator (TASS) — Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union, usually seen as the second part of ITAR-TASS.
  • 71A: Like Yogi Berra, physically (squat) — I misread this clue. Read it too quickly and thought it referred to the position Yogi had to assume during play. A rare instance where misreading led me to the right answer.
  • 2D: Bibliophile's suffix (-ana) — I am a bibliophile, and yet I rarely have occasion to use -ANA, and I never have occasion to use it in relation to any of my own books.
  • 9D: Bridge no-no (renege) — never played bridge, had to wait for almost all the crosses here. When is RENEGE ever not a "no-no?" It's a very ugly word, both in appearance and sound.
  • 10D: 2007 Michael Moore documentary ("Sicko") — Haven't seen a Michael Moore film since "Fahrenheit 9/11."
  • 26D: It's most useful when broken (bronco) — no fan of riddles. Got this one somewhere near the end. Football answer clashes with the theme.
  • 40D: Storied monster, informally (Nessie) — Any reference to an imaginary creature is apt to be something less than "formal." "That's Ms. Monster to you, buddy!"
  • 52D: _____ the custom (traditionally) (as was) — all kinds of OUCH. Horrible partial. Nothing to cue the past tense (AS IS makes just as much if not more sense). Ugly.
  • 65D: 1970s self-improvement program (est) — Did people really "improve" their "selves?" "est" appears to have lasted into the 80s, btw. Surely some of you went through it. Stories welcome.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 8:03 AM  

What is "tase"? Lived in Detroit for many years and never heard that expression. Flowerlady9

Crosscan 8:06 AM  

61A is not an OLAF.

10A is almost an OLAF. Baseball star - 4 letters is usually SOSA. (I know, MAYS, RUTH etc but gotta love the S's.)

Ok puzzle, but nobody will remember it tomorrow.

TASE is to be zapped with a taser, which is "an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles." (wikipedia) Controversial here in Canada as several people tased by police have died.

sara 8:07 AM

Here's the "Don't tase me bro" incident.

ThumbsDown 8:10 AM  

@Flowerlady9 It refers to a police Taser. There was a relatively famous video of someone begging the police not to use one on him, saying "Don't tase me bro".

Didn't find the redemption to this one last night, Rex didn't convince me. The teams all seemed arbitrary, I'm not sure the one per division overcomes this.

The RINDS in Juicer remnants seems week. BRONCOs only exists in current terminology as Rodeo attractions, and they're useless when broken, not more useful.

EST still exists, though with a different name. Apparently, being aggresive, pushy & selfish still has its attractions well into the 21st century.

JannieB 8:16 AM  

Without a unifying theme clue, as Rex pointed out, and were there no circles, this would be a themeless. It's just there. And as a themeless it's way too easy and not a lot of fun.

Keep trying @Crosscan - I think Olaf might just catch on.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

@thumbsdown A bronco, once broken, is then useful as a cowboy's horse, farm horse, etc.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

IHT dead-tree version had the circles. Cheers, Sally in France

chefbea 8:32 AM  

I knew that the circles were team names but what do I know about divisions??? Maybe how to divide recipe.

I did not that there a lot of words that we have seen or discussed recently:


Brendan Emmett Quigley 8:45 AM  

Like I said on Amy's blog, see number 4 on this list.

Reneging in any trick-taking card game (like bridge) means not following the suit that was lead.

DanaJ 8:48 AM  

I liked the puzzle. Seemed easy for a Wednesday. Words I enjoyed included YEASTY, SOAPY, and SICKO. Only got hung up in the SE, where I briefly had "NERPEGIANTHRONE", because I went with "AS PER the custom" for 52D and "USSR" for 69A.

joho 9:03 AM  

I liked that this is just a "V" short of being a pangram. Some fresh words: YEASTY, SICKO, SCHULZ, SQUAT (which, by the way, I'll bet Yogi doesn't like being called.)

I agree with @Rex that there's something lacking or unconnecting with the theme. I never would have got the different divisions if not coming here.

I remember a friend who attended EST. She said they were locked in a room and unable to leave to go to the bathroom. That pretty much did it for me. More recently a friend in San Diego got involved with the new version of EST, the Forum. She was totally immersed in their teachings. In fact, she would only associate with other members of the group. They had their own language and followed their leaders to the letter. I thought it very scary, but she had never been happier in her life.
Who I am to question that?

joho 9:05 AM  

Oh, I forgot to mention ... @Rex: thanks for the fabulous Norwegian Wood clip.

Denise 9:15 AM  

Ah, John Lennon -- so beautiful.

I will not be able to spell this, but I think the "ana" is the one that goes with, for example, all that is written about an author -- Joyceana? That which is associated with Joyce.

nanpilla 9:20 AM  

I don't know enough about baseball to know that they are all in different divisions. Would have been cute if all of the theme clues had actually been divided, that way "team divisions" could have been a unifying clue, but RAY spoiled that. And isn't SAC an abbreviation? Again, don't know enough about baseball!

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

Somehow, I always get a little giddy when I see these circley puzzles, wondering what they are going to be! When I finished this one, I thought, "Oh, another team theme."

Is it my imaginiation or does it seem like "random ball teams" has been done a lot?

Eye on Thailand 9:37 AM  

I glommed on to the baseball teams but couldn't be bothered to search for some relationship. (In these types of puzzles, shouldn't the relationship be an answer?)

But hey, 'Don't tase me, dude' is a bit contemporary for here, isn't it?

Dough 9:39 AM  

I agree that the selection of teams seemed random. But then it dawned on me, Will ran this to make Mets fans feel miserable, as all the other teams in the puzzle, except the Mets, are at least playing over .500 ball right now!

Glitch 9:40 AM  

Being neither a fan of circles nor "baseball in depth", I agree with @JannieB 100%.

Had POP fly at first, but didn't like because assumed it produced an out more often than a run. Soon was replaced with SAC from crosses, (for sacrifice?).

Is "SAC fly" a real, non-abbr. expression??


Anonymous 9:41 AM  

The first theme answer I got happened to be "shake hands" and MET, so I initially thought they were all going to be synonyms.

ArtLvr 9:44 AM  

@ Denise -- cute point about -ANA, but I think it's usuallly written -iana as in Dickensiana. What you do about Joyce, or Robt E Lee, who knows? Leeiana?


PlantieBea 9:49 AM  

Not a big fan of this one. I did like seeing SICKO (the answer and the movie), SQUAT, GROG, SCHULZ. Had a Natick moment at the NORA/IRMA crossing. Hated AS WAS, TASE, and the idea of BREAKING a BRONCO. Definately not feeling the love for the SW corner or the theme in this one.

foodie 9:59 AM  

I totally agree with Rex, and I also think BEQ's article, linked above is terrific. Part of the reason this feels hollow is that the solver suspects, probably erroneously, that it's not that hard to come up with letters that you can circle in the midst of a long answer. And that per se doesn't do anything for the solving experience. If it's the icing on a wonderful cake, then great. But when the long answers are neither interconnected nor particularly fun, then you're just eating icing...

@Clark, I enjoyed your late post last night. I will respond to it there.

fikink 10:05 AM  

Rex, my first reaction was a big, fat BFD until you salvaged the puzzle for me today. Thank you for all you do.

A crop duster is a plane, whereas there are things called CROPSPRAYERs that attach to tractors, but I don't know why anyone other than farmers would care.

The good news is that I have finally learned the word, DEKE and didn't have to get it from crosses today. That's progress!

Ruth 10:07 AM  

I think it was Greene who commented recently about solving much faster in Across Lite than on paper. I'm mostly using Across Lite these days, and I'm noticing a much higher tendency to totally fail to notice words in the puzzle when I do it that way. Then I go to the blog and I'm all "Wha--Nessie? That was in there? Est? Nora?"
I don't try to speed, but I feel I miss nuances sometimes. Oh well.

XMAN 10:08 AM  

Solved, oblivious to the theme, quickly (for me). I thought TASE was some sort of dialect for 'tease' (no kidding).

I don't recall ever hearing the term 'SAC fly'. The call would go something like this: "That's a loooong fly ball. It's gonna drive in a run. If you're keeping score at home, folks, score it as a sacrifice out."

Orange 10:31 AM  

I love DanaJ's NERPEGIAN THRONE! I have always wanted to visit Nerpegia. I hear it's beautiful this time of year.

Holy crap, Wikipedia tells me ENO's full name is Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. Rex, Brian ENO is still working in the 21st century. 2008 album collaboration with David Byrne. Writing the score for the upcoming Lovely Bones movie. Produced Coldplay's 2007 album. Co-produced 2009's U2 album. Etc., etc.

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

The clue and answer for 12D pretty much sums up this one for me.
Add "tie a knot" to the forced fill.
The only hint of entertainment was the double meaning of squat and the fact that I misread it at first sending me looking for pic-a-nic basket raider.
I guess yesterday's fun was a hard act to follow.
That EST stuff sounds creepy.

Thumbs Down 10:39 AM  

@Anon 8:24 - My point was that the only way BRONCO is in current use is via Bronc Riding in Rodeos. No one calls an un-broken horse a BRONCO. I hate to tell you this, but the stock contractors for rodeos aren't touch/feely guys who look to find second careers for broncs who've been broken. In 90%+ of these cases, their new found utility is as Alpo.

PurpleGuy 10:51 AM  

Thanks Rex for the crossing of Brian ENO with a Registered Nurse. LOL.
Agree with @fikink that this was pretty much a BFD solving experience.
Rather quick and easy for a Wednesday,but did not get the "divisions" until coming here.

I liked the crossing of YEASTY with SHORTWINDED.
11d is a sort of shout out to ORANGE.

Good writeup, Rex. Thanks for the John Lennon.

Susan 10:58 AM  

"Don't tase me, bro"!" was the highlight of the puzzle for me.

I did it without even noticing the theme until I was done. The only thing I like about baseball is that it's not cricket.

Had a similar experience to Ruth's solving on line; didn't even notice EST until I read the blog.

Thanks for the photo of Mrs. Garret's smiling face, Rex!

jau 11:01 AM  

Found it way easier than most Wednesdays. Love moebius strips so liked having it there even if it wasn't esp. vital. "Sac fly" is an abbreviation. Geez. Would've been nice if the long answers were in any/some way related to the baseball theme or if the teams were in the appropriate location (East, West...) of the puzzle....

PurpleGuy 11:02 AM  

My other bid WTF moment came after solving,and seeing the circled teams, but with BRONCO for football, as Rex pointed out, and NBA for basketball. . . and RANGER could be for hockey,
I was really confused.

Really glad for this blog, and everyone's comments. Thanks, all !!

PurpleGuy 11:05 AM  

That should be "My other BIG. . . "

Ah,my lack of typing skill !!

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

As a bridge player I had to ignore the rules of the game in order to respond "renege".

In Bridge there are "revokes".

A much more elegant word to describe the error.

PhillySolver 11:19 AM  

'its not cricket'...hilarious. The most fun in this one is Rex's write up and the comments. I thought it was a good puzzle, but wonder if it would have been more fun if 1) there were no circles and 2) the center NBA were MLB.

PIX 11:27 AM  

@Sara: thanks for the link to the "Don't tase me bro" video.

Agree, puzzle needed something interesting to tie the circled clues together.

joho 11:38 AM  

I also didn't mention that SAC was my word of the day. I knew it had to be correct but until coming here didn't know what it meant. It still doesn't look right to me.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Brian Eno has done a lot this century. In the past year alone he's released a new album with David Byrne and produced Coldplay and U2. I'm willing to bet more people know him from ambient music than as a producer. (Or at least more crossword writers seem to!)

Doug 12:04 PM  

Brian Eno has appeared in more crosswords more than any other person in the history of crosswords. Much easier than the last two days. Still don't understand tase.

Z.J. Mugildny 12:15 PM  

I think it's fine to clue "SAC" non-abbreviation-wise. In baseball the term "sac" has become a legitimate word of its own, particularly when used before "fly" or "bunt".

(It's like how "vet" is not an abbreviation even though it's short for "veterinarian".)

pednsg 12:19 PM  

I enjoyed this, but I needed Rex to help understand why these particular teams were chosen - thanks for the info!

My folks are in town visiting, and last night, we were talking about our first dog, Blitzen, who was a Norwegian elkhound. We then got on youtube to show my daughter what they look like. Imagine my smile when NORWEGIAN made it into the puzzle! Coincidence?? I think not!

Like others, I loved the "Don't tase me, bro" clip. Talk about someone's 15 minutes...!

retired_chemist 12:22 PM  

Theme was no help in solving - puzzle was easy enough I didn't have to look at the circles. Agree that some of the theme answers are forced and give the feel of an easy themeless. However I had fun, so all is forgiven.

I had never heard the lyrics to Norwegian Wood - just the instrumental version.

If you go to NERPEGIA be sure to try their speciality appetizer, ORANGE RINDS. They're YEASTY.

mac 12:36 PM  

So happy to find out Brian Eno is still alive! Liked "Lovely Bones", hope they do a good job on the movie, I'm usually disappointed when I enjoyed the book. One of the few exceptions: "To Kill a Mockingbird".

I thought it was a blah puzzle; the theme was completely unimportant to my solving, and ho-hum afterward. If we have to have a theme, yesterday's puzzle was so much enjoyable! Maybe there is a dedicated sports puzzle book or magazine that can take these.

I was expecting something like fiber or pulp in the juicer. I was very proud to know "deke" as well, although can't quite remember what it means, some of a fake move, right? I immediately thought "squat" for Yogi Berra, than thought: no, too mean.

Loved the "Norwegian Wood", but I thought it was George singing; it appears he was the one on the sitar.

@Dough: am I seeing your avatar right? Dough?

OhioGeek 12:38 PM  

I'm with @Z.J. on the use of SAC. PuzzleSon is a sports writer; sac fly and sac bunt are common in print journalism (without a period for abbrev.). Of course, as his mother, I think everything he does is wonderful - and correct!

Not sure why the long faces on today's puzzle. I enjoyed it. Especially the already-mentioned TASE (hysterical video), DEKE, SQUAT, GROG, plus the shout-out to my home town school, OSU. Seemed about right for a Wednesday.

Thanks Rex for the write-up - always entertaining.

Crosscan 12:41 PM  

Yogi Berra has been referred to as SQUAT since he played in the 1940s. SAC is fine, as otherwise noted.

DEKE is a hockey term for acting as if you are going to go one way, then going another to get around an opponent.


Doc John 12:47 PM  

I agree with everyone else that this was a blah puzzle. When I finished I thought, "all that for THAT"? Six random baseball teams and no other supporting fill? At least Rex's write-up provided me with an answer for why those teams were chosen.

I thank Michael Moore and Sicko for getting my husband health insurance. He was on COBRA from a previous job and I assumed that I could just add him to my policy when that ran out. However, he had pre-existing conditions which ruled that out. Thanks to Sicko, I decided to look into that earlier than I would have otherwise and was able to make arrangements to get him insured before his other policy ran out.

Finally, I think joho has come up with a new expression: "He's a V short of a pangram." Let's use it in a sentence, shall we? That turkey Glenn Beck is a V short of a pangram.

submariner_ss 12:48 PM  

rink fake = deke???
Rest of puzzle was slam dunk. Didn't bother with the circles.

allan 12:52 PM  

A very uninspired puzzle. It would have been much better if the teams had been the current division leaders: Dodgers, Cardinals, Phillies in the NL, and Angels, Tigers and Yankees in the AL. The randomness of the chosen teams made this a very blah experience.

I did get bogged down in the nessie/tase area due to having written "it was" for 52d, but finally came to my senses.

And add me to the list of those who don't think sac is an abbreviation in the way it was used. It was the only answer that came to mind until Glitch pointed out pop as a possibility.

HudsonHawk 12:58 PM  

@joho, I'm still searching for the X in the grid...

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

There is no way that NORA is the Thin Man Detective. Nick was the detective, Nora was at best his assistant. Hated this corner! (Not a big baseball fan, either)

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

@ Anon 12:59, I wouldn't be too sure. The last Thin Man film I saw had Nick Charles smashed most of the time (maybe all of the time) leaving Nora and Asta the only ones sober enough to put two clues together.

fikink 1:14 PM  


Neither Nick
Nor Nora
were smashed.
They were titrating.

still_learnin 1:17 PM  

I'd love to be in Nerpegia today. Here in Beaverton it's 107. Yesterday it was 106 and we lost power for several hours last night. Didn't fall asleep until 4a.m. Boy do I feel groggy!

I liked TASE -- "Don't tase me bro" is something we won't soon forget... no matter how hard we try.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

@Anon 1:07 -- Nick smashed is Nick at the top of his game!
- Anon 12:59 (Shuka)

joho 1:21 PM  

@HudsonHawk ... ahh, the mysterious, elusive INVISIBLE X!!!

I counted letters very early this morning and was obviously seeing X's where they didn't eXist!

@Doc John ... I like it: He's a V short of a pangram. Very funny!

HudsonHawk 1:25 PM  

@joho, I'm with you. There are three Ks, and with my handwriting, one easily could have been an X. ;)

des 1:31 PM  

The lack of an "S" on the end of any of the circled names means these are not "team" names. However, they are the way the players are referred to on these teams. For example, the team in NY is the METS and David Wright, their star third baseman is a MET. So all of the circled answers are players, not teams. Of course, I still couldn't find an indicator connecting these players in any meaningful way.

Crosscan 1:34 PM  

There is nothing wrong with someone who is a V short of a pangram. However, stay away from anyone who is an E short of a pangram.

Glitch 1:35 PM  

To all the "sac-ers" --- Thanx

When I first searched for "sac" got no hits related to baseball.

With your further input I now know sac is a "word" in the vet, biz, condo category.

As to usage, I find sac mostly in headlines, with "sacrifice" used in the body, except when the writer continues in "sports jargonese" rather than plain english ;)

Thus my quibble is down to a nit and would go away altogeher if "for short" were added to the clue (see NESSIE aka The Loch Ness Monster).


Doc John 1:41 PM  

@ crosscan- I think to be an E short of a pangram would require a lobotomy!

fergus 1:42 PM  

I second the Bridge term correction. Though instead of 'revoke' one playing partner used to say 'provoke' which is fitting enough for the result of failing to follow suit when you can.

Still looking for further connections among the baseball teams.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

The University of Tennessee is never, ever referred to as UTenn. Never!

mac 1:55 PM  

@crosscan and @doc John: LOL!

I got the "sac" answer through crosses, but double-checked with my poor Mets-fan friend, who confirmed it. Figured out the "sacrificed" myself, though.:-)

XMAN 2:16 PM  

I just watched the "Don't tase me, bro" video. It was among the more disturbing incidents of police over-reaction I've ever seen. I don't see it as a source of entertainment or humar, at all.

PuzzleGirl 2:26 PM  

I liked this one. At first I wondered how the various teams were connected and then decided I was over-thinking it. I totally understand the objections but they just didn't bother me.

@fikink: I, too, was very pleased with myself for throwing DEKE in without thinking about it.

@XMAN: I'm with you. I watched the video once just to figure out what the phrase meant, and I found it pretty disturbing.

I can't believe so many people like the word YEASTY. I literally cringed when I filled it in. Yuck!

chefwen 2:36 PM  

I adored the book Lovely Bones, I too hope they don't screw it up as often happens.

I don't know SQUAT about baseball, so thanks to Rex for the division explanation.

I had came to terms which gave me a crap sprayer, OH! It's shakes hands not shook hands. DOH!!!

Other than that a SOSO,SOSA puzzle.

Glitch 2:46 PM  


There is a lot more to the "tase" story than shown in the clip.

Not that I agree with the actions, it should be noted ...

[the victim] Meyer later issued a public apology for his "failure to act calmly", stating that he "stepped out of line" and that his arresting officers "did nothing wrong".

Full story, and possible justification for puzzle use:


Joseph 3:02 PM  

@Rex, There is WAY more to this puzzle than everyone thinks. I believe it is related to the Hall of Fame, coming on the heels of last week's induction ceremony for 2009.

First, the circled letter clues refer to baseball PLAYERS, not teams (they are all in the singular). Second, tilt the puzzle 45 degrees clockwise. (In this position, the answer SSE will point south-by-southeast relative to the center of the grid.) Oriented in this fashion, the grid takes on the shape of a baseball diamond. Yogi Berra (71A) is at catcher (his actual position). Sammy SOSA (10A) is in right field (his actual position). There’s a GIANT at third base. Short stop is where SHORT is indicated in SHORTWINDED (The required inclusion of SHORT led to the somewhat forced, lackluster answer to 48A, as you noted in your write-up, but the constructor should be forgiven under the circumstances.) At second is a RAY. First base is a RANGER. There is a MET in left and an ASTRO in center. On the hill and pitching for this team is a TWIN.

So, the question becomes, What is significant about this team of players, each from different squads? I thought at first it might represent an All-Star team, but, of course, both the NL and AL are represented, so that idea is out. However, last week, the Hall of Fame inducted various new players, perhaps some of them are indicated in this puzzle. (E.g., Bert Blyleven was on this year’s ballot and pitched for the TWINS.) The timing of the induction and this puzzle is rather striking. But, it’s not a perfect fit – Wade Boggs is the only Devil Ray inducted in to the Hall, but he played third base, not second base (position of RAY in puzzle).

I’m 90% there. Someone help me bring this home. (Or get on the horn to Tim Westcott.)

Charles Bogle 3:11 PM  

Sorry PG; I'm w Rex, @joho, @thumbsdow, @retiredchemist, et al...puzzle was a hodgepodge of (largely) interesting and clever clues and answers. It gave the appearance, but not the satisfaction, of being unified by a theme (or unifying outcome). Oh well

What's w this? 47A appears exactly same in today's LA Times puzzle...can't be random now, can it?

Nice to see NEE can be clued other than "Society page word..." which it no longer is


To @retiredchemist..if interested google lyrics to Beatles "Norwegian Wood" and read some of the "expert" musings..quite a dialogue about what John Lennon might(or might not)remember having done to her house!

Cheech & Chong 3:17 PM  

@Joseph - I fear you've been following some of the other advice in the NYTimes :)

XMAN 3:23 PM  

Dear Glitch: The fact is Myers acted like a coward, backward and foreward, so his imprimatur, so to speak, does not make the police action any more acceptable, either as policework (a clubbing to subdue Myers would have been the old method--was tasing morde humane?) or as entertainment. Truly, Myers acted stupidly and the police brutally.

Eric 3:29 PM  

I wasn't bothered by the puzzle, but it didn't *wow*

@BEQ, your criticism seems directed at the editor, W. Shortz. he supposedly gets over 100 submissions/week, and chooses only the best. Mr. Shortz obviously encourages these types of puzzles. i don't blame puzzle compilers, since editors realise the big money

Joseph 3:39 PM  


Ha! Could be.... Could be.... Then again, maybe it was Tim Westcott who was "influenced" when he constructed.

One cannot dispute the existence of a baseball diamond in this grid. The placement of Berra (71A), SOSA (10A) and SHORT (48A) cannot be coincidence.

Neither can one dispute that SSE (54A) is the puzzler's directive to TWIST (45D) the grid 45 degrees clockwise. Note this: When the puzzle is oriented 45 degrees clockwise, the center square of SSE is *precisely* 22.5 degrees east of due South -- the perfect definition of "south-by-southeast."



Anonymous 3:48 PM  

@ Joseph,
Are you into conspiracy theories too?
In a previous life did you go by Daniel Meyers?

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Paging Tim Wescott!

Joseph 4:04 PM  

@ Anon,
Depends on the evidence, here overwhelming.
- J

edith b 4:08 PM  

The "don't tase me, bro" video and the most recent incedent with the Harvard professor are both indications of how training seems to be a lost art these days. Somehow it just doesn't take or isn't taken seriously by the people who are receiving it.

Every time we turn around there is another incident where "misunderstanding" the sitation is at the heart of things.

This may as well have been a low rent themeless as a lot of effort and proprietary information was required to figure out the theme and there are a lot of people who just don't care about sports.

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

Since when is right field part of the diamond? ;)

Two Ponies 4:20 PM  

Wow Joseph, I'm dying to know if there is anything to what you see in the puzzle.
Rex, are you reading this?
If you are right Joseph I hope you never use your powers for evil.

retired_chemist 4:21 PM  

@ hereinfranlin -

I figured U. Tenn. would arouse the same ire as Cal. U. did with me and others. Just. Ain't. Right.

Constructor desperation?

Glitch 4:45 PM  


I'm not disagreeing with you.

I just wanted to point out that there was more to the story than the clip revealed, it was posted to further a political agena.

(And, given the circumstances, I believe tasing WAS more humane than clubbing --- not that I'm a proponent of either).

@edith b

After the initial reports, there was a lot of backpedaling on the Gates situation too.

The full story is quite different, tho still unfortunate.

.../Glitch (Never trust a sound bite)

3+ and out

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

As in--if they DON'T call it UTENN,
they freakin' SHOULD!!!

treedweller 5:23 PM  

I got ASTRO first, then RANGER, and started looking for Cowboy, Texan, Spur, Maverick, Rocket, and Star. When they didn't all turn out to be Texas teams, I no longer saw the point. Man, when you see that list written out, it really makes whoever names our teams look stupid.

I wondered about the UTENN thing. I seem to remember a TEXASU (or similar) awhile back. It seems about half the time when a college name is abbreviated, it's wrong (based on local usage). As r_c said, an act of desperation.

Robin 5:23 PM  

I was totally with Two Ponies and the eh/so-so camp, but am now intrigued by Joseph's theory. Still, it seems to me that it should be more fun to actually solve the puzzle than try to figure out some imbedded thingy afterwards.

@BEQ - can't wait for the Wu-Tang Clan members themed puzzle

XMAN 6:30 PM  

Glitch: I'm over three and I hope Rex doesn't mind my noting my appreciation of your clarifying comment.

submariner_ss 6:31 PM  

Let me rephrase my earlier remark:

What is the connection between rink fake and deke? I have never heard of either. REscue me from my misery.

Crosscan 6:33 PM  

@submariner - to repeat my comment from earlier today:

DEKE is an ice hockey [played on a rink] term for acting as if you are going to go one way [that's the fake], then going another to get around an opponent.

PuzzleGirl 6:33 PM  

@submariner: Read Crosscan's comment at 12:41.

Stan 7:02 PM  

"My knee is RED SO X-ray it, will you?"

"To be like Paul BunYAN KEEp swinging that axe!"

Do I have a future in this biz?

fergus 7:55 PM  

My team, the A's (yes the apostrophe should be there) appears as the pitching coach coming in to advise the southpaw TWIN. How do I know he's a left-hander?

Sara 8:06 PM  

Stan, I like!

andrea michaels aswas eisenberg 8:30 PM  

TOTAL boy puzzle :(

all that was missing was John Lennon's penis!

(OK, there was NORA and IRMA and NESSIE, but those are canceled out by JIM, ENO and SCHULZ)

YIN is the female in YIN/YANG but even that was described as "the dark half"!

I can't decide if I like or dislike SOSA crossing with SOSO and ONSIDE and ONESIDED

And for the million times I have seen the name Charles Schulz, I'm shocked there is no T!
(Minnesota boy by the way!)

Not that I would ever even sort of disagree with you, my little spittoon, but Anyone who is one e short of a pangram should be sought out! Do you know how hard that would be to do? You'd have to be brilliant!


Tell Sandy, in Sweden, they call an outhouse toilet a "Norwegian throne".

weak bleedovers: THENET/ANET, IRE/EIRE

THAT said, Q on the bottom row is way qool

Crosscan 8:57 PM  


Quick brown va-va-voom fox jumps hot lazy dog.

Susan 9:05 PM  

@PuzzleGirl Totally agree about yeasty. Blech.

Stan 9:10 PM  

@Sara: Thanks!

@eisenberg: Great post. Still laughing at "I HAVE NO EST STORIES"

Anonymous 9:27 PM  

I knew NORSE GIANT THRONE didnt smell right. Also misspelled SCHULZ as SHULTZ for a minute or two...

Sue K 9:38 PM  

@acme: agreed. This is a boy puzzle, so YEASTY, ONESIDED. When are the NY Times executives going to get over themselves, and publish women in equal numbers? I wouldn't mind today's 'boy puzzle' if women were published as often as men.Equal representation-it's surprising that the NYT editors don't get it.

mac 9:39 PM  

Who says Nessie is a girl????

I also thought Schulz had a t.

@Andrea: I'm glad you have no Est story!! Will have to remember that endearment, my little spittoon. Wonderful. Crosscan!!

Anonymous 11:04 PM  

1. @Joseph: Brilliant! (Do you study Talmud in your spare time?)
2. Now all I need is an explanation for why NBA was @ the center of a baseball puzzle.
3. Incidentally, did anyone else notice that the teams (like their positions in the long answers) represent the middle of their respective divisions (i.e. no leaders & no basements).

Stan 11:34 PM  


Your A's have just trounced my beloved BoSox for two nights in a row! Talented young team, there.

Is this off-topic? Not today...

fergus 11:36 PM  

Andrea and I are close contemporaries and for her to have no est (since erhardt liked to use lower case) stories seems like a willful obliteration of the late 1970s. She on the East Coast and me on the West at that time may be the reason. It was routinely ridiculed. Actually, I only have one personal experience of an est graduate, where they messed with ones's mind by a steadfast overcoming of a lack of self-confidence. But the unsure guy was OK. He produced a wonderful, beautifully edited hour-long DVD of our escapades in 1978-9 at our hippie place in Berkeley, which came to me by various means that probably wouldn't have happened in the 19th century. Or 20th, for that matter.

fergus 11:47 PM  

Stan, they've been crap all year so far, but now showing some life. If the others in the division beat up on each other, maybe the A's with a great August run can get into contention? I dislike being a pathetic wishful thinker when the team is a dozen games out, but I really liked watching the last four innings of the A's beating the Yankees on Saturday. Crappy fan that I am, I lose interest when my team falters.

fergus 12:45 AM  

A fine coda to today's commentary.

Anonymous 6:41 AM  

@ retired_chemist said...

@ hereinfranlin -

I figured U. Tenn. would arouse the same ire as Cal. U. did with me and others. Just. Ain't. Right.


As one of the ired "others," I remember it as U. Cal. which is Just. As. Offensive.

Last!? (Sorry, @fergus.)


Anonymous 1:05 AM  

Anyone else like that SOSA crossed with the answer containing RANGER? SOSA was on the RANGERs at one point.

Singer 7:59 PM  

I basically ignored the circles. Didn't even look back at them when done until I read the blog - totally forgot. Didn't matter. Puzzle was easy, but somewhat awkward in places, particularly SHORT WINDED for terse. I started with short worded, which really is ugly. I guess if you are short of wind, you might be terse because you can't catch your breath. Ugly cluing, IMHO.

My overwrites, besides short worded, were exit for AFAR, and nick for NORA (hate that one - don't want to be a sexist). I do think Nora was as essential to that detective team as was Nick.

Dr. Rob 9:05 PM  

This was way too easy and boring for a Wednesday puzzle. Enough with baseball, already! Why don't we see more clues, answers, and themes from the world of jazz? I would love to see Brubeck, Desmond, Getz, and Mulligan find their way into crosswordland.

Singer 5:42 PM  

I don't have a problem with baseball, although I have never been much of a fan. Jazz is good. Of course Etta James comes up a lot, but I haven't seen a lot of other jazz related clues. It would be an interesting puzzle, but I bet a lot of the younger solvers would be irritated with it, particularly if there are two jazz answers that cross each other. It is pop music and rap music that I find irritating because I don't listen to this stuff and only know what comes up in passing in other media. It is important, though, if you are going to solve crosswords to learn as much as possible about strange subjects, like mythology, poetry, baseball, football, opera, pop music, TV and movie trivia, etc. A little geography is useful as well.

A lot of the pop culture references in the NYT are New York or east coast related. It was fun recently to see a fast food chain located in the west to be the answer. The east coasters were all agog that they had to know such a thing. :-)

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