1990s runnings of the Bulls / MON 6-27-11 / Homemade music compilation / Allan Robin Hood compadre / Excellent in dated slang

Monday, June 27, 2011

Constructor: Joseph Samulak

Relative difficulty: Challenging (*for a Monday*)

THEME: MIX TAPE (37A: Homemade music compilation) — four contiguous circles inside four theme answers feature rearrangements of the letters T-A-P-E


Word of the Day: SHERE Khan (13D: ___ Khan ("The Jungle Book" tiger))

Shere Khan is a fictional tiger of the Indian jungle, named after an Afghan Prince (Sher Shah Suri, The Lion King or The Tiger King) Kipling encountered on his trips to Afghanistan. The word Shere translates to "Tiger" in Urdu/Hindi/Punjabi, and "khan" translates as "sovereign," "king" or "military leader" and so forth in a number of languages influenced by the Mongols, including Pashto. Shere Khan is the chief antagonist in two of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book stories featuring Mowgli. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was pretty rough. Didn't like the theme—those are easy letters to mix up and find inside other words and phrases, and the resulting phrases aren't that interesting. Circled letter strings should break across different words, or at least different word parts, so THREEPEATS is an outlier here—also an outlier because, for non-sports people, that clue + that answer will equal ???. (THREEPEAT = string of three championships; a play on the word "REPEAT"). That's a fine clue-answer pairing, but not on a Monday. Also not Monday-like: that NE corner. Ugly partial foreign weirdness. SHERE crossing "A-DALE" is flat-out terrible. Something out of last century's crosswordese torture box. There's absolutely no reason for a corner that small, with anchor / theme letters that unchallenging, should have fill that unappealing. Should've been sent back to the drawing board there. A 78-worder on a Monday should be much, much smoother than this.



Theme answers:
  • 20A: 1990s runnings of the Bulls? (THREEPEATS)
  • 11D: Groups battling big government (TEA PARTIES)
  • 29D: Watch (KEEP TABS ON)
  • 53A: Some gymwear (SWEATPANTS)
People complain all the time about the NYT's liberal bias—not today. Sure, there's a Kennedy (ROSE) and a gay married couple (MUPPETs), as well as a Che/Gaga mash-up (ICON), but the memorable political answers here are TEA PARTIES (which I hate in the plural, but whatever) and "Sarah Palin's ALASKA" (46D: Sarah Palin's ___" of 2010-11 TV). Really like that last clue. Very fresh. Also, I did (really) appreciate the fact that the puzzle itself acknowledged that PHAT is "dated" (32A: Excellent, in dated slang). It really is, though so is most of the slang that finds its way into crosswords: NEATO, EGAD, uh ... NERTS, etc. On the whole, though, the puzzle is not polished enough. No reason for A LOON and A-DALE or weak partials in general when your grid is this undemanding. Just because you're done doesn't mean you're Done. Monday grids should be scrubbed within an inch of their lives, esp. when the theme isn't exactly sparkling.

Not sure how long I took to do this one (did it on paper, away from a clock), but it felt much, much longer than my avg. Monday. Same thing for wife, who is decidedly non-sports and so had trouble not only with THREEPEATS but with RGS as well :( And like me, she found that NE corner rough going. My wife would also like you to know that a TACOS are not "sandwiches" and PIES and cobblers are different from one another in many substantial ways.



Oddly enough, I've never (or barely) heard of the Kipling character SHERE. SHERE Hite, on the other hand, would've been a gimme. Wouldn't have minded this SHERE if he hadn't been cruelly caged in small, dirty confines with Alan and the ARTES liberales. Fittingly, I was slowed down in the SE corner by 61A: "Hold your horses!". Had the "W" and so my brain went easily, effortlessly from "horses" to WHOA, as in "Whoa, it's not WHOA?"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

52 comments:

foodie 7:42 AM  

I agree with you, Rex

Rex Parker 7:49 AM  

@foodie,

That's because you are wise, like ... whatever the wise character's name in "Jungle Book" is (I assume the story has one).

AKELA?

rp

David L 7:52 AM  

Hmm, well, I found this one unusually fast -- for a Monday, I mean. But then Shere Khan and Alan-a-dale, not to mention three-peats, were familiar to me, so it was smooth sailing all the way.

Baloo 7:57 AM  

Thanks for the Jungle Book clip: George Sanders - Shere Khan the Tiger (voice) and Sterling Holloway -'Kaa' the Snake (voice.)

Sanders voice was so smooth. The cartoon tiger even looks like him.

This is a man who was once married to Zsa Zsa Gabor and later to her sister Magda. The line in Wikipedia about the marriage to Magda is classic: "This marriage lasted only six weeks, after which he began drinking heavily."

joho 8:16 AM  

I think Rex's write up says it all.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

Tea parties drove me crazy. It's perfectly fine as a plural, but in that case don't clue it in the political sense! We'd never talk about Democratic parties or Republican parties.

foodie 8:38 AM  

Thanks, Rex!

Akela does mean wise, comes from Ak'l which means brain. My real name, and my profession, both say I should be wise or brainy... I'm still working on it! I guess today was a step in the right direction ;)

Brian 8:53 AM  

This is a pretty tried theme. I found it less than inspiring and blew through the puzzle. I, too, really liked the cluing for ALASKA and agree that the cluing for TEAPARTIES doesn't seem right. Other than that, the fill was fairly bland, I guess.

I did like THREEPEATS and the cluing "running of the Bulls" brought a grim smile. I was living in Chicago during those years; as a life-long Detroit Pistons fan, the Bulls' success was absolute torture. To this day, I harbor particularly disgust for the likes of Scottie Pippin and Phil Jackson.

chefbea 9:05 AM  

Hand up for agreeing with Rex and also with Sandy. Cobblers and pies are 2 different things. (made a tomato pie yesterday)

Natick for the E in ShEre and AdEla.

Is it OK to have oop and boop in the same puzzle?

John V 9:08 AM  

Everything @Rex said, especially the NE, ADELE/SHERE. Maybe it's just me, but encountering Sarah Palin in the puzzle is not my idea of the best way to start the day. Just sayin'. May I make an exception to my usual mantra of, "No such thing as a bad puzzle, just some are better than others", and say this one was not for me, especially with the flashbacks to Weng/Maleska days.

Mel Ott 9:17 AM  

First glance elicited, "Circles on a Monday?"

I would be more impressed if the circled anagrams actually spelled words (only one does - PEAT).

efrex 9:29 AM  

Very Tuesday-ish feel, and fully agree with Rex's assessment re: the NE (ARTES, ADALE, SHERE, and ECLAT all in one Monday corner?!). I don't hate these kind of themes, although this is at least the third one of these this year (2/1/11 "mixed media" and 3/22/11 "twist of fate" had identical concepts). ASEA and AROAR in the same puzzle also had me somewhat irked. Otherwise, pretty straightforward.

jackj 9:31 AM  

I once read an expert's review of a BMW model which called it the "orthopedic shoe of high end automobiles".

Today's puzzle qualifies as a BMW.

ArtO 9:49 AM  

ditto for Rex's write up. threepeat clue definitely not monday-ish.

Tobias Duncan 9:53 AM  

Solid Tuesday time for me.Rex anticipated my every gripe.
THREEPEATS filled my heart with hate.
It is becoming difficult to remain willfully ignorant of sports trivia.

Gill I. P. 9:57 AM  

Big SOB(s) on this one since it took about THREEPEATS to solve for a Monday.
Agree with Sandy - a TACO is not a sandwich....it's a, well, it's a Taco.
@chefbea I oop and boop all the time.
Off to Spain for the American School of Madrid's 50th anniversary and alumni reunion. I will eat a ton of croquetas de jamon, gambas a la plancha and go to La Barraca for paella and Casa Paco for great steak.
I don't know what I'll do without my puzzles other than stuff myself silly.

DBGeezer 10:12 AM  

AKELA actually means alone in Hindi. It is the name of the wolf in the Jungle Book, as in Lone Wolf.


capcha - pumpit - urging of a gym trainer to tired exerciser

Elisa 10:25 AM  

Phat write-up, yo.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

I must believe that Will knows everything Rex says and yet still publishes the puzzle. So at some point Will must not agree with everything Rex says or he would not print the puzzle. So does that make Will unwise?

Anon @ 8:31 - Tea Parties are not the same as the Democrat or Republican parties. There are different ones in different states and so the clue is valid. It's not even clear if there is anything organized about tea parties.

The NYT has a liberal bias but that doesn't mean that the crossword reflects that. If that were true I have no doubt there would be fewer solvers. Besides it is only a matter of time before the NYT is gone, and its demise will likely be hastened by its bias. Sad. Very sad.

Sparky 10:41 AM  

Printed out and worked in the middle of the night. Touch of insomnia. Found it fairly easy. Alan A Dale shows up a lot. Pratically a gimee. Also ASEA, ULNA, AROAR (which exists only in puzzles I think). Like @Mel Ott at first expected letters to spell a word. I thought THREEPEATS was in hockey. I'm with @Tobias on sports. Rats before MICE and coot before LOON. Passed the time beforeI got some ZZZZZZs.

syndy 10:48 AM  

Agree with Sandy! but not so much Rex found this easy no problem with SHERE KHAN or ALANADALE both well founded literary figures.don't want to discuss TEAPART(Y)s I very much doubt the demise of paper news is related to Bias -just convenience and price-they're all going down it seems

retired_chemist 10:57 AM  

I got about 60% of the puzzle in about 2 minutes, starting at 1A and going straight through the acrosses. Would have been a VERY fast Monday for me, except that that strategery [sic] got me WHOA @ 61A (à la Rex) instead of WAIT, and I checked that part of the puzzle (SE) last. Took me a full minute to find it, and I still was well within my typical Monday time range.

Agree THREEPEATS is poor. Clued appropriately for late week, but only serious sports buffs or Chicagoans are likely to get it.

A couple uglies: AROAR, XES. The rest was OK IMO.

Not stellar for a Monday, but enjoyable enough. Thank you, Mr. Samulak

Masked and Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Fave clue: "Hold your horses!" Also suckered me in, too, on Whoa. That trap was less Ding-Dong-School than avg. for MonPuz cluing.

Fave answer: RUNAWAY. Great Del Shannon song.

Fave circled answer: EAT P.

mac 11:42 AM  

I guess I'm wise, too!

Leech always gets me, I want an a in there.

Yes, coblers are very different from pies (I like them better, not that fond of crusts), but you could consider the taco, especially a soft one, as a Mexican sandwich. Now I'm hungry!

I've been driving by a sign of a construction company called AGAPE.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

An easier than usual Monday puzzle with a hard Wednesday NE corner. I breezed through the whole thing, but I got stuck in the NE -- guessed on the last two letters of ARTES, but the crossing of ADALE with ECLAT and SHERE was just cruel. Big thumbs down on this one's lack of consistency.

And Anon@10:30, NYT has an establishment bias, not a liberal bias -- if it had a liberal bias, it wouldn't have gotten tied up in knots about whether to use "torture" to describe Bush policy on interrogation of terror suspects.

Lewis 11:59 AM  

No doubt the AGAPE for this company is not the facial expression but what Christians call the love of God or Christ form mankind (Wikipedia).

Or, maybe the company actually does astonishingly bad work in public view...

Lewis 12:00 PM  

rather, for mankind

CFG 12:01 PM  

I mostly agree, but I don't see the problem with the clue for PIES. They are different from cobblers, to be sure, but the clue just says "akin" to pies--that's fair, isn't it?

KarenSampsonHudson 1:02 PM  

My feelings exactly, Rex. Time back at the drawing board would have certainly benefited this one! Most of the clues were easy fills, but some, in contrast, were unusually awkward so it was hard to get a sense of the puzzle in its entirety.

santafefran 1:17 PM  

Taking time out from following the fire outside Los Alamos to check in on the blog. Awoke to ash covering everything and skies filled with smoke. Now we've got 2 fires to watch. Husband works at LANL so off today but on the phone frequently.

Perhaps my fastest Monday ever but what everyone else already said.

feekd--What NM is.

wildforpsu 1:23 PM  

@DBGeezer/@Rex - also, AKELA in Cub Scouting is an adult leader (parent, Den Leader or Cubmaster). The term was borrowed by the founder of scouts, Lord Baden-Powell, from his friend, Rudyard Kipling. Here is the Cub Scout "Law of the Pack":

The Cub Scout follows Akela.
The Cub Scout helps the pack go.
The pack helps the Cub Scout grow.
The Cub Scout gives goodwill.

andrea-a-dale eclat michaels 2:14 PM  

Clearly it was a Tuesday, but Will needed a Monday.
That has happened a lot...so that's the deal with the circles and hard NE corner and five theme answers including a payoff reveal.
All classic Tuesday traits.

@efrex
I liked the idea of MIXTAPE
(Even tho I am unhip enough to think it was MIXedTAPE)
All those "cryptic" type of themes
(MIXED NUTS, TWIST OF FATE, etc) are what spur on ideas, there are only so many early week variations you can do, so fair game there.

Those of you who think the NY Times is about to fold should check out the new excellent documentary called "Front Page: Inside the NY Times"...fascinating.

And normally I'd never say to check out another blog, I'm perfectly happy here...but Rex hadn't posted late last night when I had finished so I wandered over to Wordplay to see if Deb would say anything about circles on a Monday and lo and behold, JOEL STEIN, my favorite humor writer (of maybe all time, I think! And no, I don't know him personally!) has guest blogged over at Wordplay!
Joel Stein usually writes those hysterical pieces/star interviews for Time Mag.
I'm insanely jealous that today wasn't one of my puzzles, just to see what he would have said!!!
(Fwiw he couldn't finish due to the NE corner...it's a good reminder to folks how hard it is to make an "easy" Monday...my guess is Will would have made me rewrite SHERE/ECLAT/ADALE.)

ps If someone is willing to teach me to embed again, pls write privately and I will send you the link to our SF constructor brunch yesterday honoring Dan Feyer's return home pic and perhaps can post it here. It's dark but ok)

Sfingi 2:36 PM  

Another Whoa for WAIT, here.

Had to think about LEECH vs. LEaCH, suck vs. drain.

Mini-theme - Manufacturer.

Didn't notice the circles.

@Baloo - and a couple years later, committed suicide by Nembutal, with this note, "I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good Luck."
Would have liked him to make a few more movies. Laura, The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Saint movies....

Georgia 2:37 PM  

Amazing how conservatives equate objectivity with a liberal bias.

Long live the NYT, puzzles and all.

Nighthawk 2:38 PM  

Hand up for Whoa! And @M and A -- Ding Dong School? WHOA! That one took me back!

@jackj--"orthopedic shoe of high end automobiles" was a coffee sneeze!

I defer to the more technical of you about TACOS, but I don't think of it as a sammie either. Pita, maybe so, maybe no.

Acme: TextYouWantToDisplayInComment
FAQ #2. Is that what you were looking for?

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

I thought PHAT was a word that was cool for maybe about five minutes in the nineties. Now we mock people who use it.

hazel 3:29 PM  

I guess I didn't see anything particularly wrong with the puzzle. Not perfect, but few are. TACO/Sandwich seems a bit of a stretch, e.g. Still an enjoyable solve for me. Probably not the constructor's fault if it ran on the "wrong" day?

I was not tripped up by Whoa - I waited for the WAIT to appear. I may not get the "wise" designation - but I outsmarted that clue!!

jberg 3:39 PM  

Back home after 3 days away at a conference, and not posting (in case anyone noticed).

I enjoyed the Kipling - we seem to be seeing a lot of him lately, or is that always the case? Nice source of foreign words when you have an odd letter combo, I guess.

I agree with @Anonymous 10:30 AM ( on this point, anyway) - there are many individual Tea Party organizations, no national federation, so the plural is appropriate.

I never saw PIE, got in from crosses, so can't comment on that. Never heard of THREEPEATS, but that one became obvious, and you can figure out what it means. My only problem was looking for stock market answers.

CoffeeLvr 4:51 PM  

Another hand up for Whoa; thought it was so cute. I mis-remembered Alan as A'DAir, so that had to come out; glad I didn't enter ADArE, or it would have stuck around longer. I put in "lionelS" before GOKARTS, but took it right out as no crosses appeared. Otherwise, a smooth solve.

Agree with all, parts (NE) were too obscure for Monday. I learned SHERE Khan from crosswords; KAA too. When I finished the puzzle my first thought was that there wasn't much 3 letter crap, but review changed my mind. I had not seen RGS, for example, as I did not need it as a crossing answer. Still, okay for a Monday, just not one for a true novice.

I can see how cobblers are "akin" to PIES; they are faster to make for sure, and pretty much use the same ingredients. But can't see a TACO as a sandwich; still, I figured it out after a "huh?" moment.

PinETAr is almost another theme answer.

chefwen 5:48 PM  

I rather liked this one. Thought it went down amazingly fast and pretty typical for a Monday. Spelled LEECH with an a but remembered Alan A Dale from previous puzzles, so I had to switch those two letters. Only other write over was at 50D SO AM I over SO do I. Had NASA in place at 55D so was not fooled by whoa.

dk 6:44 PM  

Man, get the puzzle done, show up at 5AM CST and nuttin.

Sailed through this one.

I now live in the land of GOKARTS and am formally from the land of Micelle (wish i was Sarah) TEAPARTY darling. I just do not know which state has the lamer politicos... time will tell.

Side notes:

Got sick once on after dinner mints when I was 10.
Put together a reunion band of my mates from high school and college a few years ago. We called ourselves PHAT PHARM. Amazing that after all those years we still... sucked.

Off to our Nation's Capital for a few days then back to the land of legal fireworks for a class c kinda 4th of July.

** (2 Stars) Nothing hung together and the theme... except for the EATPANTS part of 53A, did not AROUSE me.

BOOP BOOP-E-Dupe

Anonymous 7:15 PM  

A taco is a sandwich. In a ham sandwich you have bread ham and toppings, in a taco you have bread (tortillas) spiced meat and toppings. I fail to see the difference.


Rick

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

Oh, come on... Whiniest Rex post I've seen in a while. The NE was rough only because of ECLAT crossing ADALE (which I thought ridiculous). The rest of the puzzle was pretty straightforward.

Z 9:47 PM  

THREEPEAT and PINETAR were gimmes for me. Had a slight slow down in the NE, but really didn't think much about it until I read RP's write-up.

The only clue that bugged while I did the puzzle was 44A. TACOS qualify as a sandwich in the technical sense, a tortilla is a form of flat bread. I got it easily of the T, but it doesn't seem like a Monday clue.

As to the NYT's "liberal bias" - I guess that compared to the WSJ it is "liberal." But this liberal finds the NYT to possess the typical MSM conservative bias. Not quite sure what any of that has to do with the crossword, though.

sanfranman59 10:03 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 7:18, 6:52, 1.06, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:48, 3:40, 1.04, 67%, Medium-Challenging

cackler1977 10:51 PM  

I've been following this blog for about a week and a half, after downloading the NYTCrossword app for my BlackBerry, and having to Google a clue on a particularly difficult puzzle: only reference I found was here.

That said, I found this to be the easiest NYT Crossword I've ever solved in my life. Completed it in less than just under 9 minutes. (Sunday's usually take me about an hour, and often involve Google). A few clues here and there were a stretch, but I don't think it was such a horrible puzzle. It was refreshing to a somewhat neophyte (to the Old Grey Lady's puzzles, at least) to find a puzzle I could so easily solve.

I agree with comments about the TEA PARTIES, as they are not a single, integrated organization. As for TACOS, they aren't sandwiches, per se, but I'm sure if I asked some of my Latino neighbors here in Dallas, TACOS are to Latin American cuisine what sandwiches are to European/American cuisine.

Masked and Anonymous II 10:57 PM  

Hi, Mr. Samulak. Congrats on your first NY Times crossword. It wasn't perfect. News flash: there hasn't BEEN a perfect one yet. But keep trying. Maybe your next one will be more nearly perfect than the last. It's really something, to impress the Shortzmeister enough, to get one published. And you made the day a little more fun, for tons of folks out there, including me. Really somethin'. So fire up another blank grid, kiddo, and get with it.

Thumbs up to that special debut puz feeling.

Anonymous 11:13 PM  

How about the fact that no one makes mixtapes anymore - and that tapes are pretty much passe? Now all the "kids" just make "mixes" out of digital .mp3 files. Today's theme felt like a reach (into the past).

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

On 9 across on today's syndicated puzzle, the literal translation is indeed "artes liberales" for "liberal artes"; however, the course of studies is "Letras", so your liberal artes degree would be "licenciatura en letras". You always do a terrific job. Thanks Yvonne

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

Three-peat is a contraction of the words three and repeat, which has been trademarked for commercial use by retired basketball coach Pat Riley

Deb @ RoomscapesDecor.com 6:04 PM  

This one was on the easy side of medium for me, so I'm a happy camper (as I always am when I find a puzzle easier than Rex rates it).

I had no real trouble with the NE - hadn't heard of ADALE, but it solved itself from the crosses. My only write-over was OOH (___-la-la) instead of TRA.

Dirigonzo 6:17 PM  

From syndiland, word for word what Rex said (I never thought I would say that) except WAIT filled itself in from the crosses so I never considered Whoa (but I agree it's a better answer). (@Deb - note parenthetical punctuation.)

What? - PHAT is dated?! I just started using it, for crying out loud! I suppose next you'll tell me "groovy" is not current, either.

Favorite prime-time captcha: @santafefran: feekd - love your definition, but I feel your pain (although 5 weeks later I hope everything is better).

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