Christine's lover Phantom of the Opera —TUES, Oct. 6 2009 — All-Star Danny who played for 1980s Celtics / Romance/suspense novelist Tami

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Consecutive letters — 6 theme clues are simply three-letter combinations used to clue words that are unique in having those combinations in them. "First" theme clue is 18A: Only common word in the English language with the consecutive letters MPG (caMPGround), and subsequent theme clues just contain three-letter strings between ellipses

Word of the Day: AINGE (12D: All-Star Danny who played for the 1980s Celtics) Daniel Ray "Danny" Ainge (born March 17, 1959 in Eugene, Oregon) is an American retired professional basketball and baseball player who is currently the President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics of the NBA. He played in the NBA for the Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns, and also in Major League Baseball for the Toronto Blue Jays. (wikipedia) — he was on the Celtics championship teams of '84 and '86, and he was an All-Star once, in 1988.
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Interesting concept for a puzzle. Took me well over 4 minutes to finish, which on a Tuesday counts as "Challenging." As far as I was concerned, there was no clear theme at first — just a bunch of clues that read [... three letters ...]. That's because, like most human beings, I started in the NW, and the first theme answer I encountered, therefore, was 2D: ... SPB ... (raspberry). Convention has it that the Across answers precede the Downs in terms of any ongoing theme, and thus it makes sense for info for the whole theme to be put in the first *Across* theme answer. But practically, it's unlikely that most people saw the "first" theme answer first, esp. those who, like me, were solving in AcrossLite, where you can't effectively see all the clues laid out in front of you at once. No matter. It just slowed me down is all. Beyond that, I think the cluing and fill was tough enough to put it, on average, on the "Challenging" side of things, wherever you happened to start it.



Theme answers:

  • 18A: Only common word in the English language with the consecutive letters MPG (ca MPG round)
  • 28A: ... ADQ ... (he ADQ uarters)
  • 48A: ... KSG ... (Than KSG iving) — mmm, my favorite day. Also, this year, my birthday.
  • 62A: ... ZKR ... (blit ZKR ieg) — wife and I had same reaction, independently of one another: "That's not an English word." But of course it is ... now.
  • 2D: ... SPB ... (ra SPB erry)
  • 35D: ... NKC ... (cra NKC ase) — here's where my wife had problems. She had CRANKCALL and then couldn't make sense of what ended up being a ridiculous S-EE collision in the SE. All SPEE (71A: German admiral Maximilian von _____) and SMEE (61D: Right-hand man for a man with no right hand) need is a SNEE and their ridiculous crosswordese party would be complete. That SMEE clue is equal parts cute and annoying. There was more trickiness and cutesiness in the cluing than I'm used to seeing on a Tuesday.

Wife also had trouble in and around AINGE (12D: All-Star Danny who played for the 1980s Celtics), who was unknown to her (and probably a lot of people — he's baffled NYT solvers before). She hadn't heard of the SEGO lily (23A: _____ lily), so botched the "G." How *I* have heard of a lily she hasn't is beyond me. She is the botanically inclined one in this family. Theme density of course leads to some YECCH fill (33A: "This tastes horrible!") like IRED and THRO and AOKI and REINK and even RHE, which sadly I had to look up once when I didn't understand what it meant. Runs, Hits, and Errors. . . . and I have been a baseball fan for 30+ years. All in all, a curious, unusual Tuesday that gets bonus points for originality.

Bullets:

  • 1A: Christine's lover in "The Phantom of the Opera" (Erik) — so 1A was a no-go for me. Never read it or seen it, never heard of the guy. Things took a while to speed up after this.
  • 37A: Really ticked (ired) — a hateful word that should be banned. IRE, yes, IRED, no.
  • 52A: "I don't want to hear about it!" ("Spare me!") — slowed me down; when I first looked at it, the answer appeared as if it would be SUPREME (?).
  • 66A: Cowboy star Lash, who taught Harrison Ford how to use a bullwhip (Larue) — unnecessary info after "Lash" (hence the otherwise unnecessary comma ... ?)


  • 67A: Boat in "Jaws" (Orca) — not a Tues. clue for ORCA. Good, but on the tougher end of the ORCA clue scale.
  • 13D: PC platform introduced in 1982 (MS-DOS) — computers in my 1983-84 computer science course must have run on this O/S, but at home we only ever had a Mac.
  • 29D: First anti-AIDS drug (AZT) — interesting note re: AIDS — as an answer, it's only been clued in relation to the disease since 2007. Puzzle didn't even start mentioning AIDS in its AZT clues until last year.
  • 36D: Romance/suspense novelist Tami (Hoag) — yay! I mean, I've never read her, but I used her in a puzzle I just made, and one of my testers was like "???" but I thought she should fly as an answer just fine.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

110 comments:

Brendan Emmett Quigley 8:29 AM  

This one was great. A completely new and entertaining theme. Bravo.

I just want to come to the defense of the "extra effort" cluing of ORCA and LARUE. There's only so many ways to clue those entries, and although the "Jaws" trivia has been used tons, the Harrison Ford bit made a tired repeater seem fresh. No mean feat.

Oscar Madison 8:32 AM  

How about the double Natick violation in the NW corner? Otherwise, I liked this puzzle a lot.

ArtLvr 8:34 AM  

It was better than okay, for me, but not something I'd like to see often -- strings of letters instead of definitions. SPARE ME!

That said, I liked DETRITUS and IMMOLATED and other rare fill. So bravo, Matt G.

∑;)

Gramatrick 8:50 AM  

liked it very much. It was fun and entertaining and for a Tuesday you can't ask for more than that.

Of course, it helps that probably like most crossword geeks, I like words and word play. I tried to get the themed clues without any crosses just for extra puzzling fun.

hazel 8:51 AM  

Well, first off, I agree wholeheartedly with Rex's great description " a curious, unusual puzzle that gets bonus points for originality."

I too thought this puzzle was mighty-fine - but my time says not-so-challenging. I look back on the grid, and I say huh? where did these answers come from. But the solution, is of course, in the loooong theme answers, which were all VERY gettable with just a few crosses, so that the rest was history, and a very fast history, at that.

I like and use the phrase Occam's Razor a lot, although now that I've looked it up, it seems that I have been using it, for the most part, incorrectly for years. So that's good to know.

Aside from BEQ liking fresh factor on the LARUE cluing, isn't it still an OLAF - everything after Lash irrelevant?

JannieB 9:01 AM  

IMO, one of the best Tuesdays ever - original, crunchy and fun!

@Hazel, I thought of "Olaf" there as well.

I was disappointed that the cluing for 18A gave the theme away - I would have enjoyed sussing it out for myself. But then we'd have had to wait until Thursday to see this fine puzzle. A fair trade off.

Stan 9:09 AM  

Excellent Tuesday -- straightforward and solvable (solveable? soluble?) without ever being obvious.

Thanks, Matt

poc 9:11 AM  

Very good. I liked it a lot (despite two obscure baseball references, which is saying something :-). It wouldn't have looked out of place on Wednesday in fact.

Hobbyist 9:16 AM  

North east corner a bit Natikish for me but puzzle nice and fresh.

Michele 9:16 AM  

I really liked this one. Tuesdays can feel so perfunctory and this one did not. I had the same problems you identify with AINGE and SEGO and ended up guessing what made the most phonetic sense.

Can I get really pedantic for a second about the cluing of ERIK as Christine Daae's lover? I'm not sure it's ever implied that Christine ever slept with the phantom down in his catacombs. So does this mean I've been reading the book too chastely all these years, or that the clue uses "lover" somewhat awkwardly to mean one who loves (and not necessarily requitedly)?

Michele 9:19 AM  

It just occurred to me that the clue I would rather have seen is "Christine's stalker."

edith b 9:24 AM  

Tami Hoag is an interesting writer. She is equal parts a fine suspense writer and for wont of a better description, some of her books appeal to ladies at the beauty parlor, waiting for their hair to dry, fantisizing about the really good-looking hero who may or may not end up with the damsel in distress, modern urban style. She seems like two different writers.

Once I realized what Mr Ginsberg was after, I found the theme, like Jannie B, crunchy and fun. A lot of monkey business along with fine long downs, though, but I guess it is the price you have to pay sometimes.

My experience with this one mirrors Hazel's.

HudsonHawk 9:24 AM  

Thrilled to see the Challenging rating. I timed myself today and my time was, well, much slower than Rex's. Great Tuesday puzzle.

The Axis powers reign in the SW, with the crossing of AOKI and AKIRA sitting on top of the BLITZKRIEG.

des 9:29 AM  

@Hazel
I agree that it was closer to medium-challenging. I got CAMPGROUND right off the clue with no crosses, which made it go fairly fast. The slow down was in the NW where I toyed with IRIS and IRIK before going with ERIS (never heard of her) and ERIK (was willing to believe that was his name).
And I'm still don't understand 53D. I got the answer but would have been much happier with POLES.

joho 9:39 AM  

Fantastic Tuesday for all the positives mentioned above. I got stuck at ACCAM/AINGE but pulled the "A" out from somewhere in my brain.

Thanks for being so original Matt!

Greene 9:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
PlantieBea 9:50 AM  

Crunchy, indeed, and maybe a bit thorny with ERIS, RAMA, and ERIK. I didn't know that the phantom's name was ERIK, and could only think of RAOUL, RAUL, some varient of the name...

I liked finding the unique words, but noticed that all of the unusual spellings came from the junctions or collisions of mismatched letters in compound words. Would unique three letter oddball combinations exist otherwise? How many other unique three letter runs are there in bona fide compound words. Maybe there aren't so many? This isn't a criticism, I just don't know.

Thanks for this Tuesday challenge Matt Ginsberg. I liked this puzzle much!

Orange 9:55 AM  

I wouldn't call the LARUE clue an Olaf. If you get a bunch of extraneous information—the years of an Olaf's reign, Lash Larue's grandmother's maiden name—you gain nothing. But here we've picked up a pop culture factoid I could see dropping into conversation if I ever again found myself talking about Indiana Jones. "Hey, did you know he learned to use a bullwhip from an old movie cowboy? Who knew old movie cowboys had teachable skills?"

I thought this puzzle was an easy Wednesday.

I was gonna hate on REINK, but then I thought about Ann Reinking (wasn't she in "All That Jazz"?) and decided her name was a verb. I'm now pronouncing REINK as "rink" with a long Germanic I.

JC66 9:56 AM  

@Rex

Thirty years and you never checked out the scoreboard? (-:

Ulrich 9:59 AM  

Nothing more to say except to JannieB: I myself am convinced that w/o the 18A clue, hardly anybody could have figured out the meaning of those letter combinations, not on a Thursday, not on a later day--you yourself excepted, of course.

XMAN 9:59 AM  

Ahem. Yes, a fine puzzle, but I have a bone to pick with Mr. Ginsberg. I prefer the spelling YECHH to YECCH, because, as is well known, the double H is commonly used to express utter disgust, while the double C is (just) common.

I know not all of you will agree with me on this, but you will see I have a case.

Howard B 10:04 AM  

Very interesting, tricky puzzle.
Be wary of how you invoke the Natick principle, though; two words you're not that familiar with does not a Natick make, even if they're borderline common crosswordese.
A town no solver should expect to know crossing a somewhat obscure initial, both of which almost never appear in a puzzle, now that's a Natick :).

Greene 10:08 AM  

Interesting puzzle with an unusual structure to the theme answers (4 verticals) and awesome theme density (80 squares). Lots of crunchy fill with SPOOR, AOKI, AKIRA, OCCAM, and SPEE.

I must agree with @Michele about the strange clue for 1A "Christine's lover in The Phantom of the Opera." Christine's lover proper is Raoul, Visount de Chagny. I'm not certain I would define "lover" as someone who kidnaps the object of his affections and then threatens to murder her boyfriend and blow up the Paris Opera unless she marries him. Christine and Erik must qualify as rather chaste lovers as the only kiss between them occurs at the end of the novel and even then only because Christine pities the phantom. I really like the idea of cluing Erik as Christine's stalker instead of her lover.

And speaking of pity, I understand Lloyd Weber will be unveiling his new sequel to The Phantom of the Opera quite soon. Erik and Christine will again be featured and the setting for the new plot (by Sir Andrew himself) is...Coney Island! WTF? Is Erik going to threaten to blow up Coney Island or will the set feature a derailed roller coaster ride? Stay tuned for a multimillion dollar catastrophe crashlanding at a Broadway Theatre near you.

Elaine 10:13 AM  

Hmm. This was an enjoyable but VERY quick puzzle, IMHO.

I am not getting some of the comments as quickly, however!

@Oscar
What Natick? ERIS ...Apple of Discord...Greek mythology... and ERIK was gettable on crosses (since I did not know it.)

@Orange
?Reinking? how does that relate to RE-INK? Rheinking/Reinking would be pronounced with a long I (Germanic EI=eye; and Rhein is the river we spell Rhine)... and while I never RE-INK, just refill, stamp pads, I could not work up to hating 30D

PLUS-- caMPGoer is a valid word, often found in the same set of instructions as caMPGround and Emergency Contact Information...

If I were to quibble, YECCH and HUAG (nevah heard of her) were mainly worked out by the crosses. (I was largely solving from bottom to top, and for a moment had YUCCO, til I decided OUAG looked too unlikely, and CLOSESET helped me out.)

Haven't there been a lot of CRANKCASE answers lately? Though I never mind seeing OCCAM's name!

Runs, hits, errors..... that's the game!

Elaine 10:23 AM  

Oh, wait.

Since when is AINGE a Word of the Day??? What is an AINGE?
It's a NAME, but not a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, conjunction, etc.--something with a definition.

Yeah, yeah, I know: Proper Noun. But even though I knew the guy's name and put it down, (this isn't a MOSSO,) you couldn't give a definition, just a Biographical Gazetteer entry.... Maybe Entry of the Day, or Least Likely to be Known of the Day...

mutter, mutter.....

PuzzleGirl 10:27 AM  

This one fell a little bit faster than my typical Tuesday, so not challenging for me. I'm torn about this puzzle. Some of it is awesome and some of it is ... not. DETRITUS and VIPERS are cool words. But if Orange won't do it, I will: REINK? Yecch! All in all, an adequate Tuesday.

Danny Ainge was playing back when I paid attention to basketball. Kevin McHale was my favorite on that team, but Danny was right up there. I had no idea he played baseball too! So thanks for that.

I was just explaining ORCA over at the L.A. Times blog and decided not to include the "'Jaws' boat" clue because it's not very common. D'oh!

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I felt dirty knowing Bret ELLIS. He's just horrible. I forget which book of his I started, but after 20 pages, I just didn't know what to do with it - Burning it seemed wrong, but necessary.

Crosscan 10:41 AM  

LARUE is an Olaf, as the part after the comma is irrelevant to virtually all solvers. However, it appears to be a new subset, as the extraneous information is interesting and unexpected. It just shows that there are good olafs, and bad olafs.

But I digress. Can you digress before even starting on your main point? Oops, another digression.

Main point: GREAT PUZZLE!!!!! [Digression - shouldn't we call multiple exclamations points Andreas?!!!!!!]

Ditto on over 4 minutes on a Tuesday = challenging.

Matt 10:52 AM  

To Ulrich: When I gave this puzzle to my testers, all the clues were simply [...MPG...] and similar. They all figured it out! That said, it was originally targeted around a Thursday and I totally think Will did the right thing adding the explanation for a Tuesday. I'm glad people seem to have enjoyed it!

Two Ponies 10:59 AM  

My word of the day was immolated. Not a typical Tuesday word and new to me.
I don't use AcrossLite for the exact reason Rex spoke of. I like to see all of the clues at a glance with no scrolling. I also circle clues and write in the margins.
When I read the 18A clue and noticed the others I couldn't believe we were being handed three of the answer letters on a silver platter. It turned out to be a little harder than I expected but fun down to the very end.
If Rex didn't know RHE then I don't feel so bad. Luckily the crosses gave it to me.
I thought it was a nice tidbit to know Lash gave bullwhip lessons.
Tuesdays CAN be stimulating, thanks Matt.

Ulrich 11:08 AM  

@Matt: Wow--I always knew that there were people out there smarter than me, but never realized how many...kudos for a great puzzle anyway.

Re. Danny Ainge: The thing I remember him by is that he was noticeably shorter than the players he played with/against, and I admired the way he could overcome this.

retired_chemist 11:10 AM  

@ Oscar - what were your alternatives for your Natick? I think it is locked in at E, although B and P produced amusing creatively spelled possibilities.

My own semi-Natick was THRO/HOAG née THRU/HUAG - apparently Elaine's also from her post.

Gave RBI momentary thought @ 44D, ADDERS more that that @ 51D.

Rather than attack Matt with a SNEE for the SE corner, I herewith challenge him to a game of SKEE-ball. (would SPEW/SMEW have been so wrong?)

A fun puzzle, Mr. Ginsberg. Thanks.

SethG 11:15 AM  

I also seem to have enjoyed it.

Elaine, CAMPGOER might appear in instructions, but I wouldn't say it's common. And unless it appears in dictionaries the clue is definitely correct. (Though there's this and this...) And yesterday's Word of the Day was Salmon P Chase.

I tend to solve the whole first across row and then go backwards through the downs, filling out areas when I get a bunch in them. What with ERIK, I had xxxxxROUND when I saw MPG, and that was before I saw SPB. So a relatively easy Tuesday for me. Unless you count the time it took me to find my POAAR typo...

allan 11:21 AM  

Ola all. LTNS. Great puzzle, thought challenging to be appropriate since it is only Tuesday. Can't believe I got hung up on MSDOS. Had Sega at 23a, and just never parsed it correctly. But very enjoyable.

Have a good one.

rebecca 11:51 AM  

Regarding not seeing the first Across theme clue before the first down one, I saw the first Across one first because when I solve with Across lite, I go through the whole puzzle across with the tab key starting at 1A and then the whole puzzle down afterwards. Finally I go through randomly to pick up stragglers. I found that continually changing between across and down (using across lite anyway) slowed down my flow more than any help I gained by getting easy crossing letters earlier. Just two cents worth. I liked this puzzle!

Doug 11:54 AM  

How could AINGE be the word of the day? Flunk out baseball player; okay hoopster. Why not IMMOLATED? A ten-dollar word if there ever was one, at least in this puzzle. Even BLITZKRIEG. And Rex, come on. RHE is the first thing you explain to your kid when he looks at a baseball scoreboard. Surely you figured it out after 46 down, no?

edith b 11:54 AM  

Anonymous 10:36-

Probably you are talking about American Psycho, a book that was "recommended" to me as truly horrid.

I read the whole thing and was depressed for days. Give me good old fashioned Porn anytime over that piece of trash. It was truly horrid.

Jim in Chicago 11:57 AM  

@Michele: I can accept the clue as "lover" since that word encompasses many things beyond an actual sexual act.

As others, I declare an absolute Natick involving square 1. It could have been any of a number of random vowels, and I actually left it blank, although I guessed that E was the most logical answer.

A second Natick, for me at least, also occured in the mid-atlantic region, where I didn't know HUAG, and YECCH could have been spelt in any of a number of ways.

I briefy had NEMO for the captain, but a second cup of coffee cleared that up.

Rex Parker 12:12 PM  

You can "come on" me all day long about "RHE," but those letters just don't belong in a string. How many RHEs did he have? No. Who says "RHE?" No one. When do they appear together in a sentence? Never. I know what Runs Hits and Errors are, but I will always challenge RHE as a crossword answer. Boo + hiss. It's not a baseball term. It's terrible. Is WLT a term? No. I've seen those letters near each other on the sports page a lot. And yet, they do Not make a Valid Xword Term. Or not a good one, anyway. Who knows, maybe someday I'll be desperate enough to want to use RHE.

rp

PS the "E" in "ERIK" can Not reasonably be anything else. And ERIS is crosswordese.

foodie 12:14 PM  

Yes, great puzzle. Yes, challenging for me for a Tuesday... But not because of the theme. Once I tumbled to it, it really helped. It was the density of proper names in some of the corners that slowed me down.

Always love to see NEURON in a puzzle and liked the way it was clued. A quick story relating neurons and crosswords:

My conference in Italy was in a place where a scientist called Golgi discovered a way to stain brain cells and reveal their full beauty. But he also fought the NEURON theory that suggested that brain cells are physically separate and communicate chemically (which turned out to be true). Instead, he posited the existence of... a RETE!!! A network or a mesh of physical contact for communication between neurons. I almost burst out laughing during that part of the historical lecture. Crosswordese was following me to the other side of the world! I, and others on this blog have questioned the definition of RETE as a neural network. I had to go to Italy to discover the origin of that concept, and that crossword clue!

Karen from the Cape 12:17 PM  

For me I had a moderate-easy time with this puzzle. I agree that no explanation was really needed for the letter triads. IMMOLATES is a very cool word. I had to think about RHE, even knowing the center was HITS, to figure it out. Pop culture ERIS includes a troublemaking character on Xena, the 20th centure religion of Discordianism, and a dwarf planet beyond Pluto. I enjoyed this puzzle.

fikink 12:24 PM  

I know it says something about me that the goddess of discord came to me straight away.

Have to disagree, Xman, the double-C in YECCH is necessary to get the guttural pronunciation. Yechh would elicit a cat-like hiss at the end - too breathy. IMO.

Matt, I really enjoyed this puzzle. It had a depth which we hadn't been seeing of late, especially in the early-week puzzles. And I think the extra info in the clues brought it back to a Tuesday level, e.g., your clues for BLEED and CLOSE SET. Well done!

Noam D. Elkies 12:24 PM  

Really neat theme. Nice that some of the theme entries even get to cross each other. Yes, quite a bit of unfortunate non-theme fill, especially for this early in the week — my own mystery crossing was the A of 47A:AAA/37D:HOAG, and yes, please 52A:SPAREME 44D:RHE (the last thing we need is yet another b*seball acronym polluting Crossworld). Much of this would be less objectionable on a Thursday, which I see was the original intent. Still, overall I'll react with 48A:THANKSGIVING rather than 33A:YECCH.

NDE

Leslie 12:26 PM  

Fun puzzle. Rex, thanks for the photos of Danny Ainge. Does anyone else think that in the one on the left (in his Toronto Blue Jays team jacket), he looks a lot like Tim Robbins' character in "Bull Durham?" (Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh.)

Dave 12:36 PM  

liked the theme quite a bit.

as a utahn, AINGE (played at byu) and SEGO lily (state flower) came easily. nice to see a non-NYCentric puzzle.

Crosscan 12:37 PM  

More baseball!

Youppi!

Joe 12:40 PM  

OCCAM/AINGE was a complete and utter Natick for. I couldn't care less about baseball, but am still able to get most crossword-y players. And I somehow have never heard of Occam's Razor. Not being able to finish a Tuesday because of that stupid A got my whole day off on the wrong foot. But I did enjoy trying to come up with those theme answers with no crosses.

Joe 12:40 PM  

OCCAM/AINGE was a complete and utter Natick for. I couldn't care less about baseball, but am still able to get most crossword-y players. And I somehow have never heard of Occam's Razor. Not being able to finish a Tuesday because of that stupid A got my whole day off on the wrong foot. But I did enjoy trying to come up with those theme answers with no crosses.

Rex Parker 12:45 PM  

AINGE can be a real puzzle-breaker. Weird name, and if all those crosses aren't rock solid, many people will wipe out. It's happened before. I thought crosses were solid, but clearly not solid enough for lots of people.

rp

Rex Parker 12:48 PM  

An there is no "HUAG" in this puzzle. Just to be clear.

I no longer expect people actually to read what I write.

rp

MikeM 12:55 PM  

Was easy in the sense that once you got one of the letters to theme clues you could pencil in all three. But some tough cluing otherwise.

YECCH was too contrived. Loved DETRITUS and IMMOLATED. I've always thought of NOAH as an arkbuilder, not a captain.

Sfingi 1:12 PM  

I learned something from the theme- ones of a kind in the category of "what rhymes with orange."

I felt the Natick was 16A ELLIS crosses 12D AINGE. I Googled them both, and Ellis was described as part of a writer's bratpack. I've read the others, but never heard of him. Of course, all sports are potentially half a Natick for me.
And even though it's personal, re: @Howard - I've never seen these 2 in a puzzle. Of course, I've been at this <1 yr. @Ulrich - Thanx, I remember all shorties, since I'm one. Muggsy Bogues, my hero.
With the Japanese names 56A AOKI and 54D AKIRA, since I knew the later, I was all set.
For some reason I got RHE - maybe it's good at times to be sports naive.

As someone with a bachelor(ette)s in philosphy, I didn't care for the spelling of Occam (William of Ockham), and that didn't help my Natick area.

Thanx for description of an Olaf.

@Foodie - Love them Golgi bodies.

I liked a number of the words, expressions and definitions. And thanx for the German Blitzkrig - lightning war literally.

@ Elaine How about Dieter (German name) and dieter (what I hope never to be)? The first 2-syllables, the second 3. Dieter the dieter.

Eric 1:34 PM  

@ Rex etal.
Wow, did not even notice the RHE answer as Ryder, Spare me and Thanksgiving fell before I even looked at that clue. However I have to agree with Rex that had I looked at the clue it would have thrown me and I would have been appalled at the answer.

Glitch 2:02 PM  

Before reading @SethG’s comments, was doing some broADQuesting to find some alternative answers to today’s puzzle.

Not exactly the stuMPGrinder others found it, had it finished even before I put the jam on my criSPBread (imported from Upper ChicKSGrove England and normally a piNKCollar task). Left over was EnZKReis, but I bet @Ulrich know where that is!

So, moving on:

@Rex: (44D) Does it matter that the clue is “Baseball summary INITS”?

BTW “WLT” is currently at 58.42, up 1.42 on the NYSE as I write this (all results delayed at least 15 minutes).

BTW-2: You think people actually read your comments?? :-)

Funny thing, I had ISIS as the 1D goddess, and neglected to correct the “I” when RAMA went in, thus IRIK became one of those charming foreign names (no @Green, but have the album on my iPod). I gnu butter.

“Lastly”: I am a “lover” of pizza, but (per my primary physician) pizza doesn’t love me.

…/Glitch

@Matt G - I haven't had this much fun with a puzzle and its aftermath in a long time. Thanks

Charles Bogle 2:09 PM  

Help- am I oly one who doesn't get/ understand 21D RNQD for Necessary: abbreviation? Also agree w Green, Michelle re Phantom clue/lover. Otherwise, thank you @Rex for great write-up and esp for "Challenging" label! Fill was really unusually fresh for early week; theme was innovative...also: coud someopne pls explain meaning of SMEE or SNEE for right hand man for a man w no right hand? Happily, finished without having to resort to outside sources (read, google) and learning a lot to boot--thanks constructor!

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

@Charles Bogle
It's REQD, as in required.
SMEE was Captain Hook's right hand man, and as we all know, Captain Hook was named for the hook where his right hand used to be.

JannieB 2:18 PM  

@CBogle - try REQD (required). The cross is bleed

Joe Buck 2:27 PM  

That's the end of the top of the first, no RHEs, no MLOBs. Twins up to bat.

No, doesn't sound quite right.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

Rex, there are untold numbers of people who read and greatly enjoy what you write. Don't let a few don't actually read before they put their comments in make you doubt it. We're just too shy to comment.

fergus 3:07 PM  

Why even bother with a theme if it's going to be as dull as this one? Chained-up just about says it all.

pednsg 3:23 PM  

@foodie - Great, great story! We've talked about RETEs in the past - I'd have laughed aloud had I been there. GOLGI and EOSIN would be terrific crossword answers, IMO!

LOVED this puzzle, but in all the dailies and books I've solved over the past two years, I don't recall seeing ERIS before - she got me today. I always thought the song was Shama Lama Ding Ding, so that R was elusive for me!

Elaine 3:24 PM  

Tsk, SO sorry, Rex. As far as I know, the suspense author might well be HUAG, and THRU was a natural entry, even tho I have seen the UNnatural THRO' on some older piano scores. I'll admit to speed-reading the write-up, troublesome progressive bifocals, and dry eyes that tear in front on the bright monitor.

I imagine this is also the case with more than a few of your followers.... and perhaps when Anonymous 2:36 is in his/her 7th decade, he or she can enjoy the same feeling of chagrin over imperfect puzzling...

@Sfingi
"Dieter the Dieter" is cute...though I am not sure how it ties in with "Ann Re-ink-ing/ Reinking"--which still doesn't really ...?work? Eh, no matter. We're all just wanting to have fun. (Most of us, anyway.)

I have only seen OCKHAM once...but spellings were more fluid in early times, and that included names. Having just had European houseguests, I'm freshly reminded of all the "common" names that are "the same, but different," such as DITO/ditto; IGLU/igloo; and more.

@CBogle
Others have explained REQD and First Mate/ Right-hand Man SMEE (whose name Cap'n Hook shrieks as he flees the crocodile, who is pursuing the OTHER hand....)
SO: washing bright colors in hot water may lead them to BLEED...and it seldom BLENDS, trust me!

ALL of us have these little glitches, and there is always some kind soul who DOES get it and explains gently...

three and out,
Elaine

Martin 3:35 PM  

This puzzle could be approached as a puzzle-within-a-puzzle (attempt to discover the theme words from the clues, much as if they were part of a new kind of second Sunday puzzle) or as an odd themeless (get the theme words from crossings, with a few gimme letters provided by the clues).

I suspect solvers' opinions of the theme track where on the continuum of approaches they landed. I'd also predict that speed solvers would be closer to the themeless end of the spectrum since mulling about words that contain odd letter clusters is not the fastest way to get there.

That's a lot of layering for a Tuesday.

Van55 3:58 PM  

On balance, though I completed this puzzle in good time and without help, I have to agree that it was challenging for a Tuesday puzzle. There's some pretty arcane fill and cluing that I happened to be lucky to know: Ainge, Hoag (horrible writer for my taste), RHE, etc.

Good effort!

fergus 3:59 PM  

Dear Rex,

Despite your protestation, I find RHE to be one of the more clever three letter, what-the-hell insertions. Look at the scoreboard on the Green Monster. For each game it's sitting there. And while I know you're fully aware of all baseball minutiae, this one is almost as acceptable as ERA or RBI, at least in my subjective view.

FF

Lurker0 4:12 PM  

@Greene said...
Interesting puzzle with an unusual structure to the theme answers (4 verticals) and awesome theme density (80 squares). ...

------

I can't find four vertical theme answers, and by my count there are only 44 theme squares. True, there are four verticals that cross two theme answers each, but that doesn't qualify them as theme answers per se. That's nice, but not particularly unusual, I think.

Larry, the very disgruntled Bear, grrrr! [For the US-football-deprived, Cal (formally, The University of California at Berkeley Golden Bears) fell from ranked sixth nationally to absolutely nowhere by losing twice in just 8 days. Fortunately, they can't lose this Saturday (a bye week :-).]

chefwen 4:12 PM  

Thought this was a great puzzle until I got to the northeast corner. Didn't know OCCAM, AINGE and never heard/read ELLIS, which by previous comments, is probably a good thing; so I did end up with a couple of holes. I refuse to Google on a Tuesday, so the holes, three of 'em stayed. Oh well, it is what it is.

Lurker0 4:27 PM  

Re the RHE discussion:

I was surprised on a recent visit to the beautiful San Francisco Giants ball park to find RHEL (L == "left on base," which is a useful measure of efficiency usually relegated to newspaper boxscores). In the only picture I could find online, unfortunately of poor resolution, you can look hard to find the letters and numbers in the Louisiana region of the scoreboard.

The picture is relatively recent, because the scoreboard title is "AT&T PARK." Previous incarnations (since 2000!) have been "SBC PARK" and "PacBell PARK." I find it's safer just to go with "Your-local-telephone-company PARK" -- until MONSTER or somebody buys the rights to the name. Grrr...

Larry

fergus 4:28 PM  

Larry, I was lurking with a little lady all around the stadium on Saturday. We were sensing from the ambient sound that things were not going so well on the field, so took a walk up Strawberry Canyon instead. What a trip to be back in Berkeley -- FF '79

George NYC 4:33 PM  

What's with the hostility toward Danny AINGE? He's a common xword name because of the letters, a legit pro sports star, and from a Boston team. The latter is relevant because the NYT seems to favor Boston and Massachusetts references right behind NYC and New York ones (maybe because they own the Globe?). And we all know Rex is a Boston sports fan, so WOTD award isn't surprising.
BTW, I think Ainge was known for having really long arms. Or was that Robert Parish?

dk 4:37 PM  

Spelled OCCAM with a u and LaRue as oo. Back to school... where is that See and Spell.

And, I suppose SPOOR is an animal track, but in my wilderness rescue class track is the -- well, a foot/hoof/paw print not the fecal deposit

@Ulrich (first post) I agree with you except HEADQUARTERS was my first theme fill.

@Rex, the RHE elicited a SPAREME as well. They are a shorthand reference. I have never heard them referred to as baseball initials. Of course they are initials, etc., etc.

First OMNI then Gourmet soon to be followed by Modern Bride. What will we do, what will we do?

oh, yeah Matt, great job you have raised the bar for day 2 (Sunday does not count IMHO)

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

Elaine, Anonymous 2:36 IS in her 7th decade, and she still thinks that a few people don't actually read Rex's blog before commenting! I think that Rex takes quite a lot of time and effort to provide this forum, and he should know that many more people actually read it and learn from it than he may aware of. I read and learn from the commenters as well, and appreciate all your efforts.

Greene 4:42 PM  

@Lurker0: You are partially correct about my error involving the theme density of today's puzzle. In reviewing the puzzle just now I see that I did indeed overestimate the number of theme entries (D'oh). Apologies for that. I hastily counted 3D and 34D as theme entries when they obviously are not, but I think 2D and 35D fit the theme criteria of ...XXX... (along with 18A, 28A, 48A, and 62A). This gives a total of 62 theme squares which is still pretty darn good. I think I've got it straight now. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Elaine 4:57 PM  

Breaking the law, here, but Anonymous-- I shouldn't assume! and appreciate your note. I do try to read the blog, but admit to at times to skipping just to the places that touch on the things I found hard/confusing/mysterious. With house-guests, I have had very little leisure, so I plead guilty for today's oversight (and sent an apology @Rex.) Mea culpa.

3.5 and out!

Lurker0 5:00 PM  

@Greene said that there are six theme answers. Quite right, and Rex had it right from the beginning. I forgot by the time I reached the end of this rather long blog.

Kudos to the constructor, in any case!

My very first (and perhaps last?) three-and-out.

Larry

Charles Bogle 5:21 PM  

@jannieb, @elaine, @anonymous: thank you all VERY much for so patiently teaching me SMEE, REQD and BLEED...you're correct that I mistakenly thought an answer was BLEND...can't read the completed grid on this handheld, and RP didn't have an everything else, so I didn't know until you responded where I erred, thanks again! Now I find SMEE to be very cleverly clued. Btw, toda)'s LAT was better-than-usual for anyone interested in a late afternoon run

Jim in Chicago 6:01 PM  

My my, we all seem a little testy today.

For the record, I do read the entire blog every day and my day wouldn't be complete without it. Mea Culpa for missing the entry about HOAG, I'll try to not let it happen again.

mac 6:18 PM  

I like any week with two Wednesdays! Great puzzle, and I didn't think I needed to be told how to figure out the theme answers. I got raspberry and headquarters before even reading the clue to 18A. It was a pretty smooth puzzle on the train for me, where I only had to look twice because I wanted "thru" so badly, but I've seen that name Tami Hoag. Occam was faintly familiar, which was a good thing because Ainge is unknown to me (as is RHE). Got it all, though, without help.

@Crosscan: an "Andrea" is a case of namedropping!

@Rex: I think most people read your write-up, they just don't take notes and forget the details after reading 60 comments.

Now I have to refresh my memory on the hirsute Ockham.

andrea name michaels 6:39 PM  

@ret_chem
Right there with you on THRU/ADDERS
(Thru not corrected even tho I READ Rex!)

@Michele
Stalker/lover...what's the difference?!
;)
(Altho if Jim from Chicago doesn't know, I'm not sure his blog comment today will help him pick up the ladies!)

I suspect that clue was written, edited, tested, and on and on, all by people who had never seen the show/read the book.
(like me!)
I had ERIC anyway, so took forever to parse CAY_ED for "Walloped"!
(A word that packs one, no?)

(Plus FLUNK for STINK stunk up my puzzle for a few minutes there too...

I knew Danny AINGE!!!!!!!!!!! I'm Ms non-sports but he played in Boston while I lived there and I remember he was one of the white guys on the team with Larry Bird and I always wondered if Boston had so many white players when all the other teams seemed to be mostly black if it had anything to do with the racism I used to encounter there...
(I'm white and walking with black friends thru the North End and parts of Southie even in the 80's was always harrowing, much of the invective directed at ME!
YECCH on Boston's racism that was always seething just under the surface)

@Xman
YECCH (at least in Scrabble) can only be spelled with one C or two.
(And oddly, you can add an S, which seems weird bec it seems more like an interjection, not a noun)
Maybe it's AARGHH you are thinking of which seems to have as many spellings as Chanukah...?

In keeping with today's theme, I think AARRGHH may be the ONLY word that ends with HH.

(Ooops, just looked it up, you can also play SHH...but not SHHH!)

Actually I had mixed feelings about the theme, I both loved it and questioned giving away half the answer in the clue seemed like a no-no. Like, I looked at ZKR and thought BLITZKRIEG!

Wanted to spell OCCAM's razor OCZAM and realized I had no idea what it meant even tho I've heard the phrase...of course I wouldn't know what it means, now that I see the definition has to do with the law of parsimony and succinctness!!!

andrea ired michaels 6:46 PM  

@mac
PLEASE! You of all people!!!
I've worked so hard to distance myself from that undeserved rep!
I haven't namedropped in like 2 years...I do NOT want to be associated with that if you don't mind!!!
(Nor exclamation marks for that matter! Esp after I read Safire's essay on what a no-no those are...I'd rather NAME things than have them named for me!)

By the way, I'm usually on the PC-alert about stuff in the puzzle (I still call Ashish "Mr. Ethnic Cleansing") and I'm trying to be less sensitive one way or the other, and not have a word elicit too much sadness in a different context, ie a puzzle, but I WAS sad to see AZT and AIDS so casually in the puzzle today, took me totally out of the puzzle and into a very sad place last night.

mac 7:12 PM  

Sorry, Andrea, you should consider it a compliment! We love your stories and envy you all the interesting people you meet and know:-). And keep those !!!! coming!!!! Nice comments, by the way, you're back!

XMAN 7:44 PM  

fikink: Thanks for the clarification. I totally agree with you. The comment was a practical joke, which should have given itself away by initializing it with "ahem."

Bob Kerfuffle 7:57 PM  

Glad I was home in time to add my cheers for this clever puzzle.

Also glad that many found it challenging; thought maybe I was just getting rusty.

Too jet-lagged to research, but I will assume baNKClerk is not accepted as one word.

XMAN 7:58 PM  

Elaine: Thro' (pronounced throo) is, according to my dictionary, a contraction of through. I've seen it in print in poems.

JC66 7:58 PM  

@Rex

Maybe you should read your own words:

"and even RHE, which sadly I had to look up once when I didn't understand what it meant. Runs, Hits, and Errors. . . . and I have been a baseball fan for 30+ years."

That's a whole different thing from:

You can "come on" me all day long about "RHE," but those letters just don't belong in a string. How many RHEs did he have? No. Who says "RHE?" No one. When do they appear together in a sentence? Never. I know what Runs Hits and Errors are, but I will always challenge RHE as a crossword answer. Boo + hiss. It's not a baseball term. It's terrible. Is WLT a term? No. I've seen those letters near each other on the sports page a lot. And yet, they do Not make a Valid Xword Term. Or not a good one, anyway. Who knows, maybe someday I'll be desperate enough to want to use RHE.

Why not just admit that the clue stumped you. It happens.

I posted this before, but to refresh your memory, I'll post it again. IMO it's common baseballese.

fergus 8:05 PM  

Andrea et alia,

Every little comment carries some baggage. I was raised with a number of biases that I still have to some degree, yet I realize I can't exhibit them or go pussyfooting around. A Scotsman is thrifty and so is a Jew. Stereotypes define us, and not necessarily in a bad way.

PIX 8:11 PM  

so i get on the train, figuring i will quickly do the puzzle and sleep the rest of the trip...but, by the time I was done, it was time to get off the train...but it was a great ride.

chefbea 8:19 PM  

Didn't get the puzzle til 7:00pm. getting later and later. No time to read all the comments.

Very challenging puzzle for a tuesday.

Time to get ready for bed and see who gets knocked off dancing with the stars

a-pat 8:54 PM  

JC66, not sure what you're talking about, and also no sure why you need to be an asshole saying it. IMO.

Sfingi 9:03 PM  

@? The only name dropping I get to do is of my marginally famous ancestors. Love to hear from those of different paths, esp. world travelers.

@Fergus - my maternal g'father, a Dutch/British/Scots fellow, founded a cemetery with a Jew and a Welshman. There are no stones, just brass plaques @ 1 ft x 1/2 ft. This was Masonic and all to save $. Also, easy to mow.

Before I was sure about bleed, I considered crock (verb). In case they throw this one at us, it's what happens with incredibly cheap cloth in which the color actually rubs off dry. This happened once to me. Bleeding is most common with red.

Ockham's razor - a simple idea that tells us to accept the simplest way to describe a phenomenon; for instance, the movement of the planets and stars are best explained if the sun is the center - otherwise the math becomes quite complicated. However, this doesn't always work, especially if you have to leave something out. Like gravity.

Anyway, I appreciate the bubbliness today. One of my Sicilian brothers-in-law is dying because he thinks he's dying. It's a sort of evil-eye thing. Voodoo in Haiti, and Cuban Santaria are similar. I kid you not - it's any hour, now. Blessings to all, and to all a good night.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

@Sfingi, If your BIL is really dying I'm sorry but it reminds me of Cher's fiance's mother in Moonstruck. Maybe he'll have a miraculous recovery as well.
Squeek the Anonymouse
P.S. Lots of comments for a Tuesday!
Too bad about the petty nit-picking.
If RHE appears on scoreboards (like I would know?) let it go!
I reread Rex's write-up and he didn't make a very big fuss about it.
It's only Tuesday. It was easily found through the crosses so let's find something REAL to argue about.
Oh no! I've been sucked into the negative vortex!!
@ Andrea, You are very energized today indeed. Is your Dinner Impossible on youTube?

Bill from NJ 9:43 PM  

Years ago, I was confronted by a clue something like "Comin'____ the Rye". I naturally assumed it was thru only to discover it was thro.

This was in the pre-internet days and it took me a while to learn that thro was an accepted contraction for through but I only place I ever saw it was in the expression "Comin' thro the Rye.". It took a couple of times to see it before I learned not to be fooled by it.

sanfranman59 10:06 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:13, 6:59, 1.03, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 10:40, 8:34, 1.25, 95%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:45, 3:42, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Tue 4:58, 4:24, 1.13, 83%, Challenging

Today's puzzle is solidly in the challenging category for a Tuesday. Relative to the day of the week, it was the 6th most challenging puzzle for all solvers and the 17th most challenging for the top 100 (of 94 puzzles I've tracked).

michael 10:14 PM  

I'm sure that I am as big a baseball fan as anyone else on this blog (great Twin-Tiger game today, by the way). Yet when I got RHE, I was puzzled for a while before I figured it out. But my reaction was not "bad clue/answer" but instead "clever clue'answer, should have understood that more quickly..."

Rex Parker 10:19 PM  

I promise you there's nothing "clever" about RHE. It's been in puzzles a bunch, and no one willingly puts it in his/her puzzle thinking "this will be clever." More likely than not, constructing software suggested it as possible fill. That's how I learned it in the first place. "Would you like to use RHE here?" No, I would not, bec. I don't even know what that is. Figured it was some Asian name. Sometimes (often) you have to fight the urge to let software do the filling for you. Good for getting out of scrapes, though.

rp

mac 10:24 PM  

That's interesting. I've been wondering how the constructors use the softwhere: do they put it 4 - 5theme answers, the grid shows up, and then they put in the fill with the help of the program?

Rex Parker 10:30 PM  

No, mac, it's way way more complicated than that. Sadly, the grid doesn't "show up." Building it (esp. if you've got a dense theme) is hard as hell, software or no. Software can make fill suggestions, and tell you (in theory) if your grid is even fillable. But you can't just press a button and get a good grid/puzzle, not by a Long shot.

mac 10:33 PM  

Happy to hear, I like to imagine you and your colleagues really working and polishing these puzzles!

foodie 11:23 PM  

@sanfranman, it's getting to be such a terrific sample size and a wonderful database! It seems to me that most of the time, Rex's ratings are congruent with what your numbers reveal, even when people who are commenting disagree...Of course the commenters are a mix of on line solvers and other types and my sense is that sometimes the solving medium can make some difference (e.g. in the case of a rebus).

Rex, very interesting to learn about what the software does and does not do...

XMAN 12:20 AM  

dk: Spoor means all sign--scats, prints, gnawings, etc. See "Tracking and the Art of Seeing" (Paul Rezendes).

Which reminds me of the time in Vermont, at the base of Mt. Monadnock, I found an immense paw-print with no claws in clay. Could only have been a mountain lion. Checked this with a tracker/hunting guide, who said there had been unconfirmed sightings.

Denise 12:21 AM  

One of our cousins, a high school kid, wrote on facebook.com today about her basketball team: "We should have beated NATICK." Really!

Loved the puzzle.

Commenting late, not much to say, but I saw that Rex had 99 & I wanted him to have 100.

Stan 1:02 AM  

Late comments:

Danny Ainge was the (co-)subject of a memorable newspaper headline. During a playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks, he got into a physical tussle with a player named Tree Rollins, and Rollins bit through his finger. Next day, the Boston Herald ran the headline: TREE BITES MAN.

If I'm ever on a desert island with only a music video channel, I'd want "Raspberry Beret" in heavy rotation.

@Andrea: Your implication that the Celtics are/were a "white" team (added to the racism you no-doubt really sensed in Boston) deserves a better response than I can easily come up with. But I will say that the Celtics organization has been pretty good about naming black coaches (positions of leadership). Is a mixed-race team with a black coach whiter than an all-black team with a white coach?

andrea orc/a michaels 1:50 AM  

@stan
I really didn't mean to open a can of worms about Boston's racism...
(Even tho I'm not alone about it) just my memories of the name Danny Ainge... Apologies.

@anon9:43pm
Can't respond personally if you're anonymous...but Dinner Impossible has to be listed another another title or they'll take it down!
If the links don't work, you go to YouTube.com and search: geeewhiz (the threee eee's are the way it was set up, not by me...thanks to Nancy Shack's generosity!)
I'm mostly in the first three parts :) Hopeless!

Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z59vdEL_MdY&feature=related
Part2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sILuLLM1YUI&feature=related
Part3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zztqf7w-wMA&feature=related
Part4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaGGQDJVJ-M&feature=related
Part 5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33Xefqh-7to&feature=related

Hey! When searching for a middle name for this post, I just noticed ORC and ORCA in the same puzzle.
Has this been discussed?

Stan 8:10 AM  

@andrea: No can of worms opened, no apology needed. :-)

retired_chemist 8:47 AM  

I'm thinking of the 1959 Celtics: Russell, Cousy, Sharman, K. C. Jones, Sam Jones. Cleaned the (then Mpls) Lakers' clock in the finals 4-0. 3 black, 2 white in the starting lineup.

Getting Larry Bird was a coup for Auerbach. Per Wikipedia:

"The Boston Celtics selected the 6'9", 220-pound Bird 6th overall in the 1978 NBA Draft, even though they were uncertain whether he would enter the NBA or remain at Indiana State to play his senior season. Bird ultimately decided to play his final college season, but the Celtics retained their exclusive right to sign him until the 1979 NBA Draft, because of the NBA's "junior eligible" rule that existed at that time (allowing a collegiate player to be drafted when the player's original "entering" class was graduating and giving them one calendar year to sign them, even if they went back to college). Shortly before that deadline, Bird agreed to sign with the Celtics for a US $650,000 a year contract, making him at the time the highest-paid rookie in the history of the NBA. Shortly afterwards, the NBA draft eligibility rules were changed to prevent teams from drafting players before they were ready to sign. The rule is called the Bird Collegiate Rule."

ANYBODY would have drafted Bird if they could, regardless of skin color. Green or purple would have been fine for a player arguably the best of all tome.

Waxy in Montreal 12:35 PM  

What a great Tuesday puzzle! Really enjoyed it.
Interestingly, according to Mr. Google, Danny Ainge's nephew, Erik Ainge, was the starting quarterback on the football team at the University of Tennessee and was selected by the New York Jets in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft. So future puzzles could feature a 1A,12D daily double.
Also, since Rabbie Burns spelled his poem's title as "Comin' Thro' The Rye" roughly two hundred years before COBOL (I think) popularized THRU, HOAG had to be correct (however, as an ex-COBOL programmer, I too spelled it HUAG!). Yecch!

gafromca 1:16 PM  

Erik, the phantom, was NEVER Christine's lover. Her lover was Raoul, the viscount. The phantom was her stalker (as someone else said).

In all versions of the story, Erik, or the phantom, was a psychopathic killer who acts as a Svengali, training and controlling Christine, and finally kidnapping her. In the original 1910 book, Christine is forced to "marry" the phantom. More accurate would be to call it rape. In the Broadway musical she is set free before that happens. In the recent movie version of the musical, Erik is portrayed as younger and buff, with a sexual tension between him and Christine. But her choice was always Raoul. She may have been loved by the phantom, but he was never her lover.

How did an obvious error like this get past the editors?

Singer 2:18 PM  

From syndication land:

I did like this puzzle, and agree it would have maybe been more fun without the explanation in 18A. I did start in the NE and so got to 2D first. I had a big ?? there, but crosses began to make it clear - I held off entering RASPBERRY until I read the 18A clue, which confirmed the suspicion. The suspicion would have lasted longer without the explanation,so Wednesday or Thursday would have been appropriate.

The RHE argument has much validity on both sides. I would have entered RBI if I hadn't already learned from 46D that the middle was HITS. Didn't hate it as much as rp, but didn't like it particularly either.

AINGE was a gimme to me as an Oregonian since he was from Eugene, OR and played for the Trailblazers. His return to Oregon was a heralded event, even though he was always a second tier player. He had a great shooting eye, but wasn't much help on defense.

I really had trouble with Hoag/Huag and Thro/Thru. I guessed at the "o" because Huag doesn't sound like a valid name, but THRO is a really unusual spelling for that word. I have to admit having seen it before, and that helped with using the "o", but it certainly wasn't an easy choice.

I totally agree with rp that ERIS is classic crosswordese. I got the NW relatively easily, but was really not happy with the clue for 1A. The answer can only be Raoul. Never new the Phantom's name, having only seen the musical, but I would never call him her lover under any circumstances unless a stalker / rapist is a lover.

darkman 2:36 PM  

Singer (and others): Love is not necessarily requited. I can love you (be your lover) and you may never know it, though I stalk you relentlessly. Or, you may know of my obsession. Either way, though you would never think of me as your lover, the reverse could easilly be the case.

Singer 4:17 PM  

@darkman, I see your point, but the clue wasn't "Lover of Christine", which one could argue the Phantom was (albeit a twisted, obsessive love), but "Christine's lover". The possessive makes him her lover in a way the she owns as valid. She respected him as her tutor, but when his twisted love became apparent to her, she was appalled. In the musical she clearly has feelings of pity for him, but she in no way accepts his obsessive love for her.

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