1975 #1 hit for LaBelle / MON 1-24-11 / Volcano viewable from Tokyo / Dish rated in alarms / Wisconsin city or its college / Pretty Boy of crime

Monday, January 24, 2011

Constructor: Fred Piscop

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: JAR (54D: Where you might find the thematic parts of 17-, 26-, 41- and 54-Across) — theme answers all contain spreads one might find in a JAR: JAM, MARMALADE, PRESERVES, and JELLY

Word of the Day: RIPON (61A: Wisconsin college or its city) —

Ripon is a city in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 6,828. The City of Ripon's official website claims the city's current population to be 7,701. The city is surrounded by the Town of Ripon. // Ripon, named for the English cathedral city of Ripon, North Yorkshire, was founded in 1849 by David P. Mapes, a former New York steamboat captain. Within two years the city had absorbed the nearby commune of Ceresco, established in 1844 by the Wisconsin Phalanx, a group of settlers inspired by the utopian socialist philosophy of Charles Fourier. Mapes also initiated the formation of Ripon College, originally incorporated as Brockway College in 1851. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not much to this one. Blew right through it in near-record time (held back by stupid mistake; see below), never even noticing the theme, which is about as basic as they come. Don't like the "thematic parts" part of the JAR clue at all. Awkward. That's what happens when your theme words are half at the front, half at the back, I guess. Too bad there's not a ___ JELLY phrase (a non-edible one, that is ... besides K-Y, which wouldn't fly for many reasons...), because then you could just change that first answer to TRAFFIC JAM and you'd be in business. Oh well. I don't have anything to say about this one, beyond the fact that I made a stupid, time-costing mistake and wrote in FIJI for FUJI (1D: Volcano viewable from Tokyo) (I make that mistake a lot, sadly), and that I knew RIPON without having any idea why. It must be in puzzles from time to time. I think I assumed it was Much bigger than it is.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Informal gathering of musicians (JAM SESSION)
  • 26A: 1975 #1 hit for LaBelle ("LADY MARMALADE")
  • 41A: Outdoor homes for endangered species, perhaps (GAME PRESERVES)
  • 54A: Park that's home to Yogi Bear (JELLYSTONE)
Favorite part of the grid by far was LUXEMBOURG (26D: Country wedged between France, Belgium, and Germany), which is long and X-otic (especially next to the Frenchy ÉLYSÉE (42D: French president's palace)). I hesitated for a split second on the spelling of FLOYD, thinking perhaps it had two Ls (46A: "Pretty Boy" of crime). Turns out that's LLOYD. Brain isn't always sharpest at high speeds. Best / most interesting clue was 36A: Dish rated in alarms (CHILI). Makes perfect sense, but I still had to stare at it for a second or two, and get some crosses, before I understood what the hell it meant. Everyone knows OTIS of elevator fame, but perhaps slightly fewer know that his first name is Elisha (7D: Elevator pioneer Elisha). Consider yourself edified.

No need for Bullets today. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:10 AM  

I really enjoyed this one. A food theme is always good in my book :). And I loved the fact that there were cool, long, downs. Beyond LUXEMBOURG, noted by Rex, there was MACADAMIAS. And SNIVEL is such a descriptive word!

I stared at the reveal JA- for the longest time-- Couldn't be JAM since we already had that, and -IPON was not helpful-- not on my radar screen. And since the clue, as Rex said, was clunky, I drew a total blank. Finally had to run through the alphabet to come up with JAR!

Otherwise, easy and fun puzzle!

Rube 12:15 AM  

What's to say? Have no idea who LaBelle is, but LADY MARMALADE is easy from the crosses. After I got RIPON, it sounded vaguely familiar, maybe I'm thinking of the Rincon Annex in San Francisco.

I don't think that Aries is still a Spring constellation, but that is a whole different can of worms.

Very easy Monday puzz with no write overs.

Ted Nugent 12:48 AM  

Guys, wildlife preserves are for protecting endagered species. Game preserves are, well, they farm raise critters so crazy assed rock stars can shoot them conveniently.

foodie 12:56 AM  

BTW...One of the tastiest spreads you can buy, short of making your own: Dalmatia Orange Fig Spread. The orange cuts the sweetness of the fig, and the whole experience makes you feel like you're sitting on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean...

Steve J 1:30 AM  

One of my three fastest puzzles ever. Did notice something going on about sugary fruit spreads. Never noticed JAR or that that played into the theme (seems superfluous to me). Was plagued by typos for some reason, which probably kept me from having only my second sub 4-minute puzzle. Liked LUXEMBOURG, both the answer and the country (it's the one hilly part of the so-called low countries, along with Belgium's Ardennes region).

Functional Monday with no glaring problems and not much noteworthy. Other than that, I've literally nothing to say about this one.

Anonymous 1:32 AM  

How about ROYALJELLY? -- a substance secreted by honeybee workers and fed by them to larvae that are being raised as potential queen bees.

andrea chili michaels 3:06 AM  

Went down smoothly and ... it's a PANGRAM!!!!!!!

@Anon 1:32
It's better (or a must?) to do an expression where the theme answer isn't a food itself, so there is more of a play...

I noticed that the first was up front and then two in the back, but the fourth being upfront AND crossing the "reveal" AND being a "J" made it all come together perfectly.

I would say very smooth smooth smooth and spread over the grid nicely.

Plus that CHILI answer was lots of fun.
It almost makes me want to change my middle name to "chili" permanently!

Wanted an O in ALIoTO...but then again I want an O on the end of PISCOPo! Nice one, Mr. Fred!

Anonymous 5:07 AM  

This was as easy and as boring as The Pack beating Da Bears....

Go (away) Bears

Octavian 5:49 AM  

Elisha Otis had his ups and downs but in the end his career was storied.

Pretty Boy Floyd is a fascinating character in crime lore. He came to prominence near the end of the Roaring '20s but his crimes were later attributed to the fact that he grew up poor and only robbed banks to get back what he felt the underclass deserved.

Of course the FBI had a different point of view, especially after he was accused of killing several police and ATF officers.

He died in a gunbattle with the FBI. Because he was mostly associated with harming banks -- which were hated in the 1930s -- he grew to have standing as a folk hero. Oklahomans are always told that his funeral was attended by 30,000 people.

Woodie Guthrie paid him the ultimate compliment toward the end of the Depression, memorializing him in a ballad that was later played by many others including Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. It said in part: "As through this world you travel, you'll meet some funny men/ Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen."

Personally I think he was just a mean and merciless killer and petty robber, but the folkies do love their anti-establishment martyrs.

Something like this makes you wonder what current killers will become part of crime lore. Apparently you can kill cops and still become a NYT puzzle answer. But how about Charles Manson? Sirhan Sirhan? David Hinckley? Tim McVeigh?

r.alphbunker 6:22 AM  

The thematic parts were distributed in an ABBA pattern. Looks like a sandwich. I guess the puzzle made me hungry.

Glimmerglass 8:02 AM  

Loved Luxemourg. It's where I learned the Lamada.

ArtLvr 8:11 AM  

I hadn't heard of LaBelle or the song, so I had to wait for a couple of crosses to get MARMALADE. And I agree that Royal jelly would have been bee-eautiful, except that you'd lose the symmetry as well as theme reveal.

It's CHILLIer here than usual... Brrrr. Favorite (and apt) word today is SNIVEL for tearful WHINEry. But Pandora's snIffles over the EVILS aside, it was an entertaining Monday!


joho 8:20 AM  

This is a perfectly executed Monday level puzzle in my mind. Fun food theme with the bonus JAR, some interesting words (LUXEMBOURG, MACADAMIAS, SNIVEL ala @Foodie)and as @andrea chili noted, a pangram to boot! It's smooth and easy ... a welcoming introduction to the NYT crossword for a new solver.

Creating a Monday this easy is no easy feat, congrats to Fred!

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

Close to finishing the puzzle in record time for a Monday (that's under 10 minutes for me) had I not initially misspelled LUXEMBOURG and MACADAMIA. I notice in the write up even Rex misspelled it in one place as "LUXEMOURG" (sic).
The theme is fairly bland and the clues were super easy. I could fill most of the grid just by looking at the Across clues.
Agree with Rex. Very easy and not too memorable.

efrex 8:31 AM  

This is the first Monday in almost a month that I would give to a first-time solver. With the exception of RIPON, everything is well within the ability of an average newbie, even counting some of the crosswordese. Nice theme, two nice long verticals, and a smattering of creative clues all adds up to a sweet Monday morning solve. A toast (spread with you-know-what) to Mr. Piscop this morning.

Matthew G. 8:41 AM  

This would have been a record Monday time for me, too, if not for a different stupid mistake. Stupider than Rex's, because I put in JAM instead of JAR notwithstanding that JAM SESSION was already in the grid. As I move into more aggressive speed-solving with the early-week puzzles, I find myself making little slips like that. This time, it added almost a minute to my time as I tried to figure out where I went wrong.

I thought the puzzle was fine, including JAR. Pretty straight up Monday fare. Never heard of LADY MARMALADE, but it was easily gotten from crosses. And of course, LUXEMBOURG.

I really love Anonymous's suggestion of ROYALJELLY instead of JELLYSTONE. That would have been a bit more fun.

Finally, I agree with Efrex. As I mentioned last Monday, the string of challenging Mondays has hampered my quest to get my wife into solving, but I told her right away she should try this one.

CaseAce 8:58 AM  

Ah, SHUTE! I couldn't be BLUER on this 'Mourning After' my NY Jets once again left me foundering after fumbling the ball to end the first half that gave the stinking Steelers the touchdown that proved to be the difference in the final score.
However, thanks to friendly Fred, my breakfast of Jam and Bread, went down wonderfully well with my cup of java that did much to elevate my mood most foul this day. Go Pack, and devour Big Ben and his Steel City bandits in Dallas, two weeks hence!

Rawguy 8:59 AM  

Just started doing NYT crosswords. 18 mins for me.

This blog is so useful.

Rex Parker 9:01 AM  


You're gonna get So Good at these things.

Welcome, and thanks for reading.


chefbea 9:22 AM  

Very easy tasty puzzle!!

Now to get ready for super bowl. Gotta make my prize winning chili.

Vega 9:23 AM  

Under 4 minutes! I amazed myself.

How OK is it to have "opinion" in the clue for OPED?

Orange 9:37 AM  

Vega, OP-ED stands for the page "opposite editorial," in newspaper lingo.

I figure ROYAL JELLY might be sold in jars, which knocks it out of theme contention. Neville Fogarty once had an LAT puzzle (3/10/09) with PETROLEUM JELLY plus PLANT PRESERVES and LADY MARMALADE, no JAR, no JAM.

Neville 9:50 AM  

Orange beat me here by a few minutes - it's true. PETROLEUM JELLY is in a jar, too (well maybe a tub) - but I wouldn't eat it!

Really interesting to see another constructor's take on the same theme - a humbling experience for me looking at Fred's theme entry density vs. mine! We both have ROSARY in the NNW... how did that happen? Did make for an easy solve for me, though.

retired_chemist 10:00 AM  

Solidly under 5 minutes,except for 2 typos. Both typos were accidental overwrites of previously correct answers. I didn't count them against myself. On that basis it is a personal NYT best. Ergo, easy.

CHILI was a gimme to a Texan, even to this transplant. Debated NAPA vs. SIMI for 16A briefly, decided on Monday it would be NAPA. It was.

JAM SESSION and JELLYSTONE gave me the theme, GAME PRESERVES followed rapidly, and LADY MARMALADE (WTF) came easily from crosses.

Fun, but I agree with Rex - not a lot to it.

mac 10:01 AM  

Nice, easy puzzle, with my last letter also the R in Ripon/jar.

This is one smooth puzzle morning: LAT was enjoyable, too. Not so great article on that newspaper in the business section.

captcha: fastest. Nah.

Stan 10:21 AM  

I agree that this seems almost ideal for new solvers. There's almost no crosswordese, and the few "you know it or you don't" answers (RIPON, SHUTE) can be gotten from crosses. You can't miss the theme, and there are minor sub-themes with Tokyo and poker clues. A nice introduction to NYT puzzles.

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

I was having fun until I got to the reveal. Too bad it had to rely on such an obscure city.
Time for an English muffin.

Tobias Duncan 10:48 AM  

Now this is what a Monday puzzle should look like! Printed out an extra helping for the coffee shop crowd.
Rawguy says he is new and got this one in 18 min.That is the way to judge these. A bright well read person,with little knowledge of crosswordese should be able to complete(within a square or two) a Monday in under 25 min.

Vega 10:57 AM  

Thanks, Orange. At some point in my life, I think I knew that. Now I know it again, and might even remember it this time.

Rex Parker 10:59 AM  

Agree Mondays should be easy. Disagree that the easiness should be the "way to judge these." If that's all you want, you've got Newsday just waiting for you.

hazel 11:35 AM  

Swap out ladymarmalade with marmaladeeyes and boom there's your symmetry. of course that leaves a lot of other rework to be done, which makes the whole thing likely impossible. Oh well. I thought the puzzle was mighty fine as is. Reminded me of the damson plum preserves my grandmother used to make every year as well as this rocking orange marmalade sauce I made a couple of weeks ago for a slow-cooked pork loin.

Good for you, @Rawguy!

@foodie - we were on the Dalmatian coast last summer and downed lots of dried figs from the street vendors. The spread sounds fantastic...

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

@Rex - Yesterday you gave a nice explanation about your feelings toward pangrams (I think in response to a comment I made).

Today we have a pangram and no commment from you? Is this a good pangram or a bad pangram?

Go (away) Bears

Rex Parker 12:06 PM  

Pangrams are irrelevant, at best. The fill in this one is not seriously compromised by being a pangram, so, fine. I don't care. Frankly, I didn't even notice the pangram. That's about the best thing I can say about a pangram—it didn't muck things up.

Impt question: "Is fill scintillating, provocative, or memorable?"

Unimpt question: "Is there a "Q?""


Moonchild 12:13 PM  

Funny that Lady Marmalade is in the grid today as we just recently had a fill-in-the-blank clue last week with a line from this song.
The puzzle was a fine Monday with some dark undertones.
Two war clue/answers, Mafia, bank robbers, ready, aim, fire, a stun gun, DMZ,and a post-apocalyse novel.
On the other hand we did have Yogi.

JaxInL.A. 12:28 PM  

Can someone please tell this terminally unhip person who is playing in Rex's second video?

Liked the puzzle.

syndy 12:49 PM  

I found lots to like in this one.Vats of iced wine in Napa ;sniveling about the smog encroaching on jellystone-poor stag in the gamepreserve(shute)Macadamias in luxembourg(voulez vous couchez?)crunchy good! UPETRA-what was really said to simon

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

K-Y doesn't come in a JAR. Not that I would know. So I've heard....

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

I am a little surprised that so many people do not know Lady Marmalade. I bet you would ALL recognize it; go to YouTube and have a listen - it's a great tune

andrea zap michaels 1:54 PM  

Re: Pangrams:
@rex didn't notice/doesn't care about/at best finds them irrelevant...and has said so many times.
I brought it up in my first comment not to be contrary, but bec they make me happy! :)

Just as an alternate point of view, pangrams can take a blah-ish theme and bump it up a notch.
Of course they shouldn't compromise the fill, but they can/should liven up corners...

We prob agree it's really not the pangram, per se, as the presence of Scrabbly letters: JKXQZ
(i don't really care deeply about H's, let's say, or a random W either)
But to me, (and I know at least for some others) getting the full alphabet in there is that extra dollop
and for many a fun thing to find...
some folks like to look for the letter U, some look for sports or Simpsons references, some look for pangrams...
(insert that Latin "to each his own phrase" here, pls Clark!)

As a Monday constructor, I like to have one "if" possible and I wish they weren't being called irrelevant all the time. Not that it REALLY matters, but they give me tremendous pleasure.

Just found out it's one of my puzzles next Monday. Don't know which one, nor if it even is a pangram, but I'm now anxious to see! Hopefully it won't be the most or least interesting thing about the puzzle!

I'll be flying back from NY that day by coincidence...and it would make my life to be on the plane and see someone randomly solving it!

Tobias Duncan 2:05 PM  

I guess what I mean is that whether or not daily puzzlers find it easy should be irrelevant on a Monday. It should be within range of the uninitiated, it should be virtually devoid of crosswordese. Words like ETUI and SATRAP do not belong here.
They should be elegant and fun.They should be so cool that the new solver is hooked and looking for the next one.USA today does not fit the bill here.In my opinion, the Monday puzzle is the most important puzzle of the week.

Martin 2:11 PM  


The video documents that jam session in not named for them. The phrase dates from the thirties but The Jam wasn't popular until the forties, I think.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

Was going to comment on how mindlessly easy this puzzle was, but then I got sidetracked...

How can you not know who Patti LaBelle is? Seriously?

Clark 2:58 PM  

Growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, TV came from Green Bay (and the participles dangle there like crazy). RIPON sounds oh so familiar -- must have been the ads.

@Andrea -- You’re right it was smooth smooth smooth. I like that in a Monday puzzle. And, since you ask, Latin for ‘to each his own’ would be ‘cuique suum', but, personally, I would go with French on this one.

@Neville -- Maybe you wouldn’t eat PETROLEUM JELLY, but get a load of this (from the weirdness on the internets department). What possessed me to google the edibility of that substance, I’ll never know. These are the three funniest comments I found:

“Apparently, the guy who discovered it used to eat a spoonful every day, and credited his longevity to that.”

“I know a girl who thinks of ghosts
She'll make you breakfast, she'll make you toast
But she don't use butter, she don't use cheese
She don't use jelly, or any of these
She uses vaseline . . .”

“Basically, what happened is that my P.E teacher . . . was telling me about a time when she had to eat vaseline because someone told her it was good for sore throats. Well, it got my interest and I ate some. A big lump of it. And it was disgusting. But then another day I put it on my lips, and a lump went into my mouth. And now I'm completely hooked after the accidental incident. And no, I'm not pulling your legs. Don't ever eat Vaseline, its terribly addictive!”

All righty then. Back to work.

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

...but bec they make me happy! :)

Me too. Let the grumps go eat worms.

sanfranman59 3:37 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Mon 5:57, 6:55, 0.86, 4%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:21, 3:41, 0.91, 14%, Easy

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

26A: 1975 #1 hit for LaBelle ("LADY MARMALADE")

Music video by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, Pink and Missy Elliot performing Lady Marmalade. (C) 2002 Interscope Records


chefwen 4:11 PM  

Mrs. @Rube just sent me a JAR of her homemade Jalapeno JELLY, it's delish!

Being a transplanted Cheeser, RIPON was a gimme for me. I'll bet there was much cheering going on there yesterday.

Good, easy start to the week.

Sfingi 7:14 PM  

Cute, easily completed by crosses.

@Tobias - as I say, USA Today is Wed. all week.

@Foodie - My vote is Fattoria Blood Orange, but I'll try the Orange Fig. Many neat JAMs and JELLies can be ordered on www.allthingssicilian.com
It used to be an actual store in Lawrence, MA, but now just internet.

@Octavian - maybe it's time for another Pretty Boy, since we hate banks again. And, funny, I was just thinking if we'd ever see Jared clued as this new killer.

@Orange - I always thought OPED meant opinion, too. But, that was one of the answers I didn't even notice,

@Anon225 - Patti Labelle is a half year older than I. She is also known as a cook and has appeared on many cooking shows.

@Andrea - Did not notice the pangram, but that's another reason to come to the blogs. It's great that you notice that.

@Hazel - put all the clues, the more the merrier!

Nighthawk 7:23 PM  

Only because, after strenuous effort, "Voulez vous couchez avec moi, ce soir?" wouldn't fit.

The R in RIPON/JAR was the last to drop.

While on the topic of food, would have liked 41A to have been clued: Pate'?

R. McGeddon 7:42 PM  

Is RIPON the opposite of ripoff? And does that mean that Ripon College is necessarily a bargain, education-wise?

sanfranman59 11:07 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 6:03, 6:55, 0.87, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:15, 3:41, 0.88, 4%, Easy

This puzzle posted the 3rd fastest median solve time in the Top 100 group and the 6th fastest among All Solvers of 83 Monday puzzles I've tracked.

foodie 12:14 AM  

@hazel, you make me want to go there!
@Sfingi, thanks! I'll try that site. I wonder if they're asking themselves why there's a run on JAMS and JELLIES today!

NotalwaysrightBill 3:06 PM  

Syndi-late solver.

Sure was a Monpuz alright.

Just sorry that Mister Ranger Sir (Rex) didn't enjoy the Pickinick Basket, citing importance and relevance. I think a case can be made that crosswords as a whole are pretty much irrelevant outside of the pleasure they give solvers. Except for pros, of course. Oh, well, we all have our standards: MAHLER, sometimes, classic LaBelle (in the days when she sang background for Laura Nyro) other times.

Grid looks like digital camo.

if it's fruity and super sugary sweet, slop it on some griddle cakes and scarf, BOOBOOBUDDY

Dirigonzo 5:36 PM  

I agree with those who found this to be an almost perfect Monday puzzle - but I'll bet next Monday's (or 4 weeks ago to the prime-timers) will be even better!

I love that @NarB comes here 5 weeks later to keep the party going - I don't always agree with him, but I love that he's here. Since @Rex told us that over half his audience is syndicated solvers I have to wonder, why don't more of them (us) ever comment here?

Captcha = votist - I'll leave it to Bill to define it.

Gil.I.Pollas 1:52 PM  

I'm with you @Dirigonzo although a couple of days later.
I loved this Monday puzzle. I gauge the difficulty by how my newbie puzzle daughter rates them. It takes her some time, but I'm so proud she does them. Also, I got her to start reading Rex so she can improve.
My favorite grid was also Luxembourg - a beautiful country.
I don't think @foodie will see this but she mentioned the Dalmatia Orange Fig Spread. It is truly wonderful. Even if you don't have a taste for figs, it doesn't matter; it's melt in your mouth wonder. I happened upon it at (of all places) Bev Mo. To go with it if you really want to die and go to heaven try "Pan de Cristal" a new bread from Barcelona. You can order it at La Tienda.com. NO, I'm not a rep for them, I just miss good Spanish food.

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