Pittsburgh Pirates hero 1960 World Series / MON 8-15-11 / Music source on many old fairground / Perry with 1956 #1 hit Hot Diggity

Monday, August 15, 2011

Constructor: Stan Newman

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*)

THEME: ZIP (56D: Nothing ... or a hint to what's hidden in 20-, 35- and 52-Across) — ZERO is embedded in three theme answers

  • APPETIZER ORDER (20A: Buffalo wings or bruschetta, e.g.)
  • BILL MAZEROSKI (35A: Pittsburgh Pirates hero of the 1960 World Series)
  • WURLITZER ORGAN (52A: Music source on many an old fairground)
Word of the Day: Jeff BEZOS (30D: Jeff who founded Amazon.com) —
Jeffrey Preston "Jeff" Bezos (born January 12, 1964) is the founder, president, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and chairman of the board of Amazon.com. Bezos, a Tau Beta Pi graduate of Princeton University, worked as a financial analyst for D. E. Shaw & Co. before founding Amazon in 1994. (wikipedia)
• • •

I love the vast majority of this grid — really interesting answers (esp. for a Monday) and very little in the way of junk (we'll just pretend OOO and III didn't happen). [sidenote: "Centerfield" by John Fogerty just came on (I'm listening to his 1985 album, also called "Centerfield," on Spotify) ... I know BILL MAZEROSKI was a second baseman, but still, it seems appropriate]

I had to struggle a bit more than I normally do on Mondays, due largely to the proper nouns: got SAM RAIMI pretty easily, but needed help with BOTSWANA and BEZOS and even BILL MAZEROSKI—blanked on his name, then remembered but misspelled it. Nice to have a bunch of long, none-theme answers in a Monday puzzle. Really livens it up. The one thing I really didn't like about the grid is APPETIZER ORDER. Buffalo wings and bruschetta are APPETIZERS. The "ORDER" part feels horribly tacked-on and non-idiomatic. Theme answers need to be tight, solid, indisputably right. "ORDER" just derails this one. "Mmm, mozzarella stix ... that's my favorite kind of APPETIZER ... ORDER." No no no. That said, I still think this puzzle is good.

Stan Newman is an old pro — a former ACPT champion and editor of the Newsday puzzle, he knows what he's doing with this crossword stuff. Never surprised when his NYT puzzles are top-notch. They aren't frequent, but they're good.

  • 39A: Perry with the 1956 #1 hit "Hot Diggity" (COMO) — another proper noun that slowed me down. Way way before my time, and I've never heard this song. I know Perry COMO only by name. He was probably mentioned frequently in '70s-era TV (the only way I can imagine his name sinking into my consciousness).

  • 23A: Kid's "shooter" projectile (PEA) — my guess is that a kid has not actually shot a pea since Perry COMO was big. And yet PEA-shooter is a familiar term, and this was easy to get.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


foodie 12:09 AM  

I agree that it was on the challenging side for a Monday. I hope they don't take back my citizenship, but I did not know BILL MAZEROSKI... So, that made it tougher.

One nit is that ZERO straddles the two words ZER O in the first and last theme answer but is entirely embedded in the second word in BILL M...

Liked seeing ACME in the puzzle. Haven't seen you on the blog lately, right?

Anonymous 12:25 AM  

Really? This is one of the worse Mondays in recent memory for me. A lot of crosswordese/dreck (and wasn't Stan bragging that he never uses crosswordese?): OOO, III, ACME, both ASSN and ACAD (ugh), OAS, REOS, STP, ON A PAR, etc. -- not to mention the horrible APPETIZER ORDER Rex pointed out. Great to see long non-theme answers on a Monday, but not so great if they're average at best like today's (APERTURES?). Also annoyed that ZERO crosses a word boundary in 2 of the theme answers but not the third. Add the unambitious theme (tired theme type, only 44 theme squares) to the mix and my verdict is thumb's down, unfortunately.

Tobias Duncan 12:39 AM  

Theme was a tad dull but I am not a theme guy so no problem there.Some baseball player from the 50s does not deserve the center of the grid, made all the sports clues and crosswordese stand out for me.I hate having to share my country with baseball.

Matthew G. 12:40 AM  

I found this easy for a Monday -- mainly because BILL MAZEROSKI was a gimme. As a second-generation Yankees fan, I heard my father recount his chagrin at Maz's homer many a time. WURLITZER ORGAN also came easily. APPETIZER ORDER feels super-clunky, though -- I kept asking myself, "Why isn't the answer just APPETIZER?"

Matthew G. 12:43 AM  

@Tobias: BILL MAZEROSKI is a Hall of Famer, the best defensive second baseman of all time, and the only person ever to end Game 7 of a World Series with a home run. He rates the center of a grid once in his life.

Anonymous 12:44 AM  

OOO and ZIP are part of the theme, Rex. You need to pay more attention.

thursdaysd 12:45 AM  

This went down easy until the last letter... I had finally tried an "I" at the end of SAMRAIMI and that other guy I've never heard of, and discovered it was right, when a vicious thunderstorm knocked out the power to my subdivision. That took out not only my lights and internet, but, much worse, my AC! Good thing it was 10:30 at night and not morning. Kudos to the power company for fixing it in an hour.

Oh, the puzzle. Aside from the unknown guys in the middle, no real problems. Several nice long words - amused to see BOTSWANA so soon after TSWANA, and liked the clue for LIMERICK.

The New Girl 1:27 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle for the most part. I like long words and not just long phrases, so that was a nice mix-up for the day. The one answer that bothered me (and the last to fall) was ONAPAR. It feels wrong to me, but the almighty Interwebs says it's right.

I was a HUGE Mets fan in the eighties. Having almost daily games to watch got me through those awful years known as high school. I guess I heard Mazeroski's name during that time as it came pretty easily once I saw the theme.

Watch out everyone! Here comes another week.

Greg 1:30 AM  

Perry Como was mentioned in the Twilight Zone ep where Ron Howard plays the eight year-old boy/monster who takes over a farm town. So that's how I know him.

I had the most trouble with Sam Raimi, a name I've heard, but didn't know how to spell, crossing Bill Mazerwazeralakozoski, a name I've never heard, and still don't know how to spell.

nameless 1:33 AM  

Man, do I feel stupid. I never read or even saw the reveal clue because ZIP filled itself in from the crosses. I reviewed the puzzle during and after the solve for the theme and came up with 3 phrases with Z in them. Tried to make something out of the non-Z words (ORDER, BILL, ORGAN) to no avail and thought well, that was pretty lame, Rex will crucify this one. When I came to this site, saw the reveal clue, and read about the ZERO in each phrase, I was mortified. This is the NYT, for crying out loud. I should have my pen revoked. I'm not even going to use my Blogger name. I'm going to bed.

chefwen 1:57 AM  

Don't worry @foodie I have never heard of BILL MAZEROSKI either and I am somewhat of a sports fan, football more so than baseball.

Agree that this was pretty dicey for a Monday, it took me a lot longer that your usual Monday, I'm blaming the baseball guy. But I got 'er done which is the main point, right?

@Tobias - Why so down on sports, just curious.

Hi @Acme

acme :) 2:53 AM  

Hi Hi!

C'mon, Will, there is not ONE thing that is Monday about this puzzle!!!

Hidden theme, one long middle answer that will be a WTF??? to 80%+ of women, many foreign born, and probably 2/3 of folks under 30.

Plus so hyper hyper masculine, sports-y/baseball-y:
BILL MAZEROSKI, ERRORS (E on a scoreboard), the definition for FANNED and CALLSTIME
(Tho I don't know for sure if that's for baseball...)

And so many names that are way off the radar for a Monday: SAMRAIMI, BILLMAZEROSKI, Jeff BEZOS, WURLITZER, and, did I mention BILLMAZEROZSKI?

But gotta love the 4 Zs; the fact that the theme helped discern that it was REFER not dEFER; and the general professionalism.

ANd, obviously I have to forgive all for having ACME in the puzzle
(Altho I disagree with Anonymous 12:25 that it is crosswordese! ;)
But why not just make this a Tuesday and call it a day...that day being a Tuesday?!)

re: 24A Formula ONE racing...
I just saw the documentary SENNA and it's the best thing I've seen this year.
It's all about the gorgeous Brazilian champion Aryton Senna's rise and fall from 1983-1994 with the best editing I've seen in years, including footage shot from his dashboard.
Heartbreaking and phenomenal.

Kool 3:41 AM  

@acme: did you see Senna at a theater or is it available on DVD?

Gill I. P. 6:42 AM  

I think OOXTEPLERNON needs a brother. I nominate PEAONETOORAP.
A ZERO Monday for this CRAB.

Anthony Fremont 7:42 AM  

@Greg: The TZ episode you mentioned was It's a Good Life and it starred Billy Mumy.

You're a "Bad Man" , I wish you into a cornfield.

skua76 8:08 AM  

@nameless, I never saw the reveal clue either...I noticed all of the Z's but had to come here to find out what the full theme was. Maybe because I tried solving online to see what kind of time I'd come up with. Will not mention. Tomorrow, back to my more usual routine-- solving leisurely on paper, along with coffee and NPR.

At least I DID know the name Bill Mazeroski but wasn't sure of the spelling.

A smile for ACME. Thanks Stan!

joho 8:23 AM  

@anon 12:44, you beat me to it. OOO/ZIP are both reveals in the corners.

I agree with @andrea :) that this should have been a Tuesday, but I liked this a lot more than she. Once I got the theme the ZERO showed up in BILLMAZEROSKI, no problem. I really enjoyed all the ZZZZ.

Also liked BECOOL, CALLSTIME NAGSAT and COOPER because I drive one.

Thanks, Stan Newman!

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Had SPOON for 1A which made the "Mohicans" author POOPER. Knew that was wrong!

Brian 9:05 AM  

I have to say that when I saw the byline I thought the puzzle would really hand me a good time; but I came away a tad disappointed.

I plugged in APPETIZER and was curious to see where Mr. Newman was taking it. When ORDER came from the crosses, I thought, "That' it?" Then I scanned ahead and saw the reveal clue and immediately identified "zero" in the answer and again thought, "That's it?"

I'm a baseball fan (primarily of Detroit ball, true), but never heard of BILLMAZEROSKI. Had to get it all from the fills. I did like WURLITZERORGAN, however.

I enjoyed BOTSWANA, IMPOUNDS, and SAMRAIMI (who's from my neck of the woods).

Here's how the mind can sometimes be myopic: For several minutes I kept reading PASTORAL as two words: "past" and "oral." Could not make sense of how that was "rustic. Sounded to me like something having to do with dentistry. When my eyes adjusted and I read the word, I could only clunk my head.

John V 9:10 AM  

All I ask of life is an unfair advantage. I very much recall Bill Mazerowski, as I was a Pirates fan in the 50s and 60s. Buffalo, my home town, was the AAA farm team for Pittsburgh at that time. Thus, the unfair advantage. Absolutely nothing difficult about this one in any way, sorry to report ;) Just filled 'em in. Today was salve for Friday's catastrophe.

Symmetry 9:14 AM  

Both 20A and 52A have the ZERO spanning the words.

Both break at R - O.

Both, in *normal* usage, usually skip the second word.

I've often heard of someone playing the *Mighty Wurlitzer* at public events, but seldom --- if ever --- with the word organ appended.

It would be like hearing *Here comes the Zamboni Resurfacing Machine!" at a hockey game.

Not really wrong, but both theme answers share the same problem IMHO.

I'd also like to mention that old fairgrounds usually featured a [steam] calliope, not an organ.


jesser 9:18 AM  

Waylon Jennings recorded a great song about WURLITZER ORGANs; if memory serves, it was on the album titled "Ol' Waylon.' He sang about wanting someone to award him The Wurlitzer Prize. Gotta love that!

I thought this was hard for a Monday, for all the reasons that have been mentioned. I did see the theme, but wasn't all that turned on by it. No writeovers, but two places where I hesitated.

I had S_OO_ and BILL MAZEROSK_. In the first instance, I though SpOOn might want to dig in its heels, but the crosses confirmed a SCOOP was in order. In the latter case, the terminal I was a flat-out educated guess. Yay, education!

I have to give some love to both the Saturday and Sunday puzzles, because they both showcased New Mexico, with New Mexican NINO on Saturday and Wheeler Peak on Sunday. Loves it!

Happy Monday, amigos!

chefbea 9:21 AM  

I agree..a bit on the hard side for Monday. I kept trying to find a z-i-p in each of the answers but only the first one had all three letters. Never saw zero til I came here.

Of course loved the appetizers and baked dessert. Made a peach/blueberry one yesterday for dinner. Yummm

edwords 9:22 AM  

@Matthew G: Pretty sure Joe Carter won the 1983 World Series with a 3-run homer. Also, the fix for the offending APPETIZERORDER clue is so easy -- just make it a quote: "I'll have Buffalo wings and mozzarella sticks, please."

efrex 9:27 AM  

Put me solidly in the "thumbs up" camp on this one. Worked out the theme as soon as I saw Zs in all three long acrosses, and was off to the races. Flew through it with nary a writeover.

Any reference to Perry COMO makes me think of the great scene from the otherwise forgettable movie "Blast from the Past" where Brendan Fraser goes delirious with joy when a Perry Como song comes on the radio ("Here's where it takes off!"). The other fun memory triggered by this puzzle was Stan Freberg's spoof of Lawrence Welk - "Gee dad, it was a WURLITZER!"

Okay, back to the grind. Thanks for a fun solve, Mr. Newman!

Lewis 9:29 AM  

@nameless -- hand up, guilty as charged exactly as you.

I remember Bill Mazeroski's famous game seven World Series home run. I was in seventh grade, in geography class, listening to a transistor radio hidden in my desk, whispering the game situation to those around me. When he hit the home run, I let out a cheer -- total reflex -- and yelled what happened to the rest of the class. Mrs. Dempsey, the teacher, for maybe the first time ever, didn't send me, a misbehaving student, to the office...

David 9:29 AM  

Liked this one a lot, fairly tough for a Monday, but I still broke 5:00 on paper. Was barely familiar with WURLITZER ORGAN, and needed all crosses to solve, moving right to left. Very familiar with BILL MAZEROSKI, and enjoyed the numerous baseball clues (ERRORS, FANNED, even CALLS TIME). Calling time is something an ump will do between pitches, or a baserunner after he slides into a base and needs to dust off, whereas other major sports have time outs.

Missed the 000 theme symmetry in the top right, thanks!

David 9:32 AM  

@edwords, Carter indeed hit a World Series walkoff, but it was Game 6, not Game 7. Blasted it off ex-Cub nutcase Mitch Williams, one of several antiheroes in the 1989 playoffs against the Giants as well.

Connie 9:43 AM  

@acme - Sorry, chum, but Bill Mazeroski is NOT unknown to women ... All you had to do was move to Pittsburgh in the early '60s and live there through the '70s when the Pirates and Steelers reigned supreme - You didn't even have to be a sports fan, those guys were local folk heroes for everyone ... So this was an even easier than usual Monday puzzle for me and made me smile all the while. Personally, I think "appeltizer order" is a pretty slick answer and fun to figure out ... and I'll be humming "Hot Diggety, Dog Diggety, Boom, what you do to me ..." all day long. Perry Como loomed large in the adolescence of my age group ;-)

JaxInL.A. 9:45 AM  

Definitely crunchy for a Monday. I enjoyed it quite a bit.  

Anyone who has read the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, set in BOTSWANA, will remember that the country  borders South Africa. If you have not seen the charming, 7-episode BBC/HBO adaptation, shot on location, I recommend it highly.

@quilter1, happy to hear of small boys riding bicycles.

CFXK 9:47 AM  

INANE seems to be appearing in puzzles quite a bit lately. One has to wonder if this is the result of some sort of conspiracy among puzzle constructors, an unspoken but non-negotiable demand from Will Shortz, or just a silly and pointless phenomenon?

BocaBoy 9:50 AM  

"Fanned" got me. Not a big sports person, and had to get it in the cross. I'm from Pgh. and remember the game in 1960 when Mazeroski won the game.

JaxInL.A. 9:53 AM  

P.S. My daughter starts high school today. A jumble of emotions NAGS AT my maternal heartstrings..

Tobias Duncan 9:54 AM  

@ chefwen, I could go on for days.I enjoy playing sports and enjoy hearing a bit about the amateur sports my friends are involved with now and again. Its the college and professional sports that I do not approve of.Its the most intense hero worship we have in this country.We laud and adore people who have done nothing to deserve it while fascinating individuals who are winning a better future for all of us go unnoticed and are branded as boring.Young men are riveted by locker room interviews with inarticulate morons who mumble hackneyed cliches because they are unable to engage in meaningful dialog. We squander our communal attention on people who are good hitting a ball with a stick? What?

TheBlasevick 9:57 AM  

Hot Diggity is on Spotify! But you might remember it from the Oscar Meyer commercial from the mid-70s (that's the only reason I know it):

Matthew G. 9:59 AM  

@edwords: You are correct, which is why I specified that Bill Mazeroski is the only person to end Game 7 of a World Series with a homer. Joe Carter ended the 93 Series with a homer, tis true, but that series only lasted 6 games. Still an amazing moment, but a notch below Maz's.

hazel 10:03 AM  

great puzzle.

@acme. - you left out COOPER in your masculine/baseball rant. :-)

Cooper's family founded Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, of which bill MAZEROSKI is a member!! Got to go check my cards that I inherited from my brother to see if I have a Mazeroski. Pretty sure I do.

Monday, Tuesday, whatever - there was a cool theme and it was easily doable.

mmespeer 10:35 AM  

I couldn't agree more with @Tobias Duncan's comment about college and pro sports and yet there's something in me that loves to watch the games themselves. But I didn't know Mazeroski, or Raimi so that corner was hard. My mother loved Perry Como and we used to watch him on TV all the time. I thought it was appropriate that on this site he should be remembered for being mentioned on a Twilight Zone episode.

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Bill who? Who cares.
@ Tobias Duncan Well said.
Boring puzzle that sent me off on tangents to amuse myself.
Such as trying to fit "raving rude egomanic" where rap fit and
thinking about hearing Bezos' name this weekend on NPR and his thrill at being in the NYT puzzle.

jackj 10:38 AM  

My, my, crank up the toughness level a notch and the complaints roll in as if "easy" is a god-given right for a Monday puzzle, which must be honored!

Thankfully, Will calls the shots and we benefit by getting one of the best Monday puzzles yet.

But, "it's a Tuesday" you say? No, the Times chose to publish it on a Monday, ergo, it is a Monday. Simple as that.

Think adding ORDER to APPETIZER is non-idiomatic? Maybe not.

"Hostess to waiter, "What was their APPETIZERORDER, Buffalo wings or bruschetta?"

I was going to focus on Stan's use of BILLMAZEROSKI in a Times crossword puzzle until I learned that the inimitable Peter Gordon had already used it in a Times Sunday puzzle on Dec. 8, 2002.

Amazing, our constructors; we are blessed!

Noam D. Elkies 10:40 AM  

40A:LOSERS and the sort-of-0-shaped 32A:SAUCER might be bonus entries too. Still, while we're ignoring OOO and III, let's imagine Bill Mazeroski never happened either. That is your marquee entry!? As far as I'm concerned, a "hero" of some b*seball championship years before I was born means, appropriately, zero. Either find a theme entry that has more 56D:ZIP (and splits ZERO across a word boundary) or send this idea to the pile of good puzzle ideas that come to, well, nothing for lack of enough good examples.


archaeoprof 10:40 AM  

BILL MAZEROSKI is worth getting to know. Great player.

@Jesser: you are a Renaissance man. It's from Waylon's song "I Don't Wanna Get Over You."

"They oughta give me the Wurlitzer prize,
for all the silver I let slide
down the slot,
playin' those songs sung blue.
I don't wanna get over you,
I don't wanna get over you."

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Let me pick this nit. Burgle does not mean rob. A robbery is stealing from someone by use of force; a burglary is illegally entering premises with intent to commit a crime. Houses do not get robbed, people do.

quilter1 10:51 AM  

I thought it was easy and liked lots of the clues and answers, but DNF due to the Bezos/Mazeroski Natick. Boo.

Z 11:04 AM  

Checking in from the eastern continental divided in Gerton NC. Isn't 21st century technology wonderful.

Did this last night, thinking I would be downloading the Sunday puzzle. I figured it out eventually, but still have half of Sunday to do.

How could I not love this puzzle, with all the shout outs? This was super easy for me. Sam Raimi gets discussed once a month in the Freep these days, so that was a gimme. I love baseball, so that made lots of the fill super easy for me. The only slow down I had was mis-typing COpPER instead of COOPER. Took me a bit to sort that out. Not a mistake I would have made if I were doing it with pen and paper.

@Tobias - I mostly agree with you, but it is not sports I have an issue with, it is the response of our society to it. I love my local team, and lots of my Tigers are good community members. But I never forget that they are just a bunch of guys, not heroes. For Detroit heroes I prefer these people:


Sfingi 11:10 AM  

Had nIl before ZIP.

Had BILL MAZEROSKY and SAM RAIMY and left it that way - 2 people I don't know.

When I started, I couldn't think of LIMERICK. I knew it was a city in Ireland, so I put in tIpERary! But not for long.

Glad it wasn't rAGS AT.

Like ANON251
supper ≠ DINNER. Dinner is the main, largest meal. Supper would be much smaller, enough to stave off hunger. To sup is from the same root as sip and soup.

@Chefbea - he's not down on sports, just baseball. Now, I'm down on sports; just can't figure why it was ever invented.

@mmspeer - I am your mother. Perry COMO and Fenimore Cooper are very real to me. Cooper never heard of baseball, but he sure knew Upstate geography.

OOO and III. But, at least no shoe size EEE.

I'd say the puzzzzzle was a real ZZZZZ to me, but actually, it was pretty good. Or, maybe I'm just glad it's Monday, and the puzzles are easy again.

Two Ponies 11:29 AM  

Just wondering if anyone here clicked on the Haitian spammer yesterday.
Also, Natick was featured on a Simpsons rerun last night.
There was a Twinkie factory there.
@ Z, Agree that hitting or catching a ball does not make one a hero.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

@Sports Haters. All of us admire excellence, greatness. No one complains about the moral fiber of artists, whether great architects were fine human beings, we just admire greatness. Sometimes that just happens in sports.

Joe 12:42 PM  

The SCTV impression of Perry Como was hilarious. Eugene Levy did it, lying on the floor.

They won an Emmy award for it.
The best part was that Perry Como presented it to them. He called SCTV "my fan club."

michael 12:45 PM  

I was surprised to see Bill Mazeroski -- especially on a Monday -- and knew there would be complaints about this. I regret that this led to the usual complaints about sports clues (which I know) that in my view are as lame as the usual complaints about pop culture clues (which I am less likely to know).

quilter1 12:50 PM  

Ok, back from taking Mom to the dr. so can comment further. Perry COMO was a gimme and I also have the Hot Diggety ear worm. It was the silliest song, but the man could sell a song. So, nice reminder. I'll have to check to see if he still lives.

Also liked WURLIZTER--no problem with adding ORGAN. Liked PASTORAL & LIMERICK. I thought it was quite original for a Monday.

captcha: foraterm make it up yourself.

chefbea 1:01 PM  

@sfingi Don't think I mentioned anything about sports or baseball. Just food

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

@connie - another female (kiwi) who had no problem with Bill Mazeroski and also has the bloody Hot Diggety song in her head.

This was a super easy puzzle and i thought typical Monday fare. Went down smoothly

Sparky 1:22 PM  

Had INSUi so BILL came out iAZEROSKI. Seemed okay to me. The rest of the puzzle jogged along fine. Missed the OOO being part of the theme. Thanks @Anon 12:44 and joho. Will have Hot Diggety, Dog Diggety running through my brain all day. Boom, what you do to me.

Evan K. 1:33 PM  

Tough Monday for me. I'm young so I shamefully don't know BILL MAZEROSKI; fortunately I do know WURLITZER ORGANS, but APPETIZER ORDER did seem to be a stretch.

A bit odd that ZERO is broken up in two of the theme answers, but not in MAZEROSKI.. another reason I thought I was missing something.

TSWANA again! Well, now it makes more sense.

My CAPTCHA: curnonym. Sounds like a great term for some wordplay!

acme 1:37 PM  

@Noam d elkies! Noam d elkies!

For the record, I don't hate sports clues or any kind of clue, just the over-abundance in one puzzle coupled with the editorial assumption that it's a gimme.

This blindness can be a turnoff for a vast swath of people, not just women...
@connie that as a woman you had to be in a certain place 50 years ago to have it resonate, sort of echoes my point, unintentionally or not!

There are other ways to define FANNED, for example, that balance out the puzzle a bit more.
I'm all for adding subthemes and creating a gentle nuanced ambiance and if this were in a great baseball puzzle anthology I'd say right on...
but I am talking about the puzzle and its pieces and the overall effect on the weekly solving experience and the audience and and and
so not screaming that it's a million year old baseball ref per se, but if you are going to have a semi-obscure (nowadays and for half the population if not more) "marquee" name across the middle, why not err (clued non-baseball-y) on the side of hipness?
Why not BEQ/Peter Gordon on us and bring the NYT into this century instead of keeping it firmly rooted in baseball references that would mostly please men in their sixties?
THAT'S all I'm sayin'!

I mean, do you think I could get away with, on a Monday, of having AMYWINEHOUSE whose name is rife for theme possibilities, as the main theme entry?
(OK, I'll try and see what happens)

And the non-symmetry would normally cause an outcry but this blog seems more and more inconsistent in that area...some people get away with lots and lots, some are not cut a break.

Mondays don't have to be easy per se, but once again, if you don't make them ACCESSIBLE, you could put a damper on the overall enjoyment.

By the way, when I saw it was SCOOP after all with the COOPER going down, were it not for a Monday, I thought it was some sort of thing where the answer "took a dip" and that was the theme...
At this point I can't tell if I like the COOP/COOP crossing, but it has a rhythm to it that is cool.

retired_chemist 1:44 PM  

Easy, probably because so much was right in my wheelhouse. Would have been my fastest ever were it not for typos, which took me over a minute to chase down. I do understand that the clues/answers are not everyone's cup of tea.

Error was 44A STRUCK. I think actually the clues requires it - FANNED is STRUCK OUT - specifically, having swung and missed for strike three. Not quite what was clued....

Thanks, Mr. Newman.

Matthew G. 1:55 PM  

For the record, although I knew BILL MAZEROSKI cold and will absolutely defend him as notable enough to merit of a center-of-the-grid entry once every decade or so, I fully agree that he's a very tough choice for a Monday and I would have printed this puzzle a couple of days later in the week IIWW (If I Were Will).

That said, I'm always amused by the anger tough sports clues/answers inspire. For every one of you who hates them, there's someone like me who loves them and finds them much easier to get than yet another name of a 1950s movie star or, perhaps worse, current dregs-of-pop-culture darling. The names of actors and actresses are my eternal Achilles' heel and they stop me in my tracks, but I accept that they're part of the world and I have to know them for the puzzles.

FYI, I was born 16 years after Maz's homer.

joho 2:05 PM  

@Matthew G ... I like IIWW ... it's World War II backwards.

mmespeer 2:17 PM  

@Sfingi MOM!!! Seriously, I am probably old enough to be Rex's mother so I enjoy getting any answer that involves Kanye West or Lady Gaga or whoever is much younger than Perry Como. Also, James Fenimore Cooper is a figure in David McCullough's latest book, "The Greater Journey" which I just finished and enjoyed.

sanfranman59 4:01 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 7:17, 6:51, 1.06, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:03, 3:40, 1.11, 89%, Challenging

Glitch 4:05 PM  

@acme on your responce to @jackj:

I agree that puzzles should be "ACCESSIBLE", and perhaps Mondays more so, for those moving up to the NYT (debatable)"holy grail" of xwords, but what about the rest of us dues paying solvers.

Several "rexites" admit they skip the early week puzzles --- too easy, but is that a reason to dumb down a Monday just to bring in new solvers?

Maybe yes, from the NYT's commercial stand point, but is this really a "$ervice" to the rest of us?

I've paid for 7 days of puzzles for many years (40?) to "skip M-W" (c.f.), having my best times on Monday, and enjoying the "Shudda been a Tuesday", or "I make copies to give away to newbies, but not today", complaints.

Reminds me of a "story" related by one of my High School mentors:

The recruits, practicing their close order drills, noticed a platoon coming back from the PX with their "goodie bags".

How come we can't?

The Drill Master replied: "Left Left, two three four ..."

Six weeks later, the same platoon was on the way back from the PX with their goodie bags, and heard the Drill Master call to the new recruits, "Left Left, two three four"...


Tobias Duncan 4:26 PM  

@Glitch Omitting obscure sports figures from the grid does not "dumb down the puzzle" it embiggens the solving experience.
Having a grid full of sports names and jargon ensmallens even the most celebrated constructors.

william e emba 4:27 PM  

According to imdb.com, BILL MAZEROSKI appeared in various TV "mini-series", like the 1960 World Series and the 1967 MLB All-Star Game, as himself. He also had the uncredited role in the film version of The Odd Couple (although he was mentioned by name in the film itself) as the batter who hits into a triple play. The one that Oscar the sportswriter misses because Felix NAGS AT him over the phone.

Actually, BILL MAZEROSKI and his home run were in the news last fall, which made it much easier for me to recall his name. It wasn't just the 50th anniversary of "the greatest home run ever". MLB has been on a hunt for some time now for classic game films, sort of like the hunt for the missing bits of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

It turned out Bing Crosby, as part owner of the Pirates, refused to watch the game and had a recording made for his own private viewing afterwards. He watched it, then put it away in his private film vault. And this unique film of the entire game was only rediscovered a year ago.

Interestingly, the NYT articles on the film make much of the trickiness Mickey Mantle engaged in as a base runner in the top of the 9th, confusing and deking out the first baseman just enough to enable the tying run to score and count.

chefwen 4:56 PM  

@Tobias Duncan - Now it all makes sense and I must say that I agree with you in many ways.

@Two Ponies - "raving rude egomaniac" describing Kanye is spot on. LOL!

Noam D. Elkies 5:16 PM  

Yes, OOO opposite ZIP is an amusing bonus — certainly enough to elevate OOO out from OOXTER... status. [As it happens last time OOO appeared in the NYTimes crossword it was the theme-reveler/summary.]

BILL_MA0SKI, on the other hand — ZZZZ.

Apparently the guy made some good plays in a few athletic contests 50 or so years ago. That seems to be the only noteworthy thing he did. Hundreds of other pro athletes did likewise at the time. How many of them are really worth remembering a couple generations later, let alone looking up? "Zero" is surely a closer approximation than "the whole d*mn lot".

So far this puzzle seems to get a near-balance of positive and negative reviews. Which on average comes to, well, you know.


Noam D. Elkies 5:21 PM  

P.S. Credit where due, cont'd: the crossing of B.M. with BEZOS is not an unfair "Natick" because the theme requires a Z there.

600 6:09 PM  

DNF on a Monday!!! Oh, no! MAZEROSKI crossing BEZOS made Googling a necessity for me. Maybe if I had tried to figure out the theme first it would have helped, but my Monday scheme is to do the puzzle as fast as humanly possible, not reading unnecessary clues or worrying about the theme until I've seen Mr. Happy Pencil. Today I got SAM RAIMI and BOTSWANA from crosses, was having a lovely, fast time with an otherwise delightful puzzle, and then fell down on MAZEROSKI. Bah, humbug.

So angry at having to Google, I didn't bother reading the posts here yet, just fell to ranting. Will do that now to see if anyone else had the same difficulty. Maybe that will make me feel better.

Glitch 6:14 PM  

@Tobias Duncan

I was referring to acme's comment on accessability, not content, and "this should have been a Tuesday".

Don't like a lot of sports (or Simpsons) in my puzzles, but inclusion/omission is neither dumbing up or down. Just variety that's in or out of my "wheelhouse".

That said, if your "ensmallens" appeared


1.Third-person singular simple present indicative form of ensmallen.]

how may "yuck" comments do you think it would draw? ;)


Stan 6:20 PM  

Wait a minute, are people whose idea of a great time is filling in letters of the alphabet in little boxes deriding people whose idea of a great time is watching someone hit a ball with a stick?

600 6:33 PM  

@Tobias Duncan, 9:54--beautifully said. Thank you.

@Anonymous, 11:50--is it really necessary to pay them millions per year when teachers, fire fighters, and policemen can't support families on single jobs?

Hands up for STRUCK before FANNED. For me, that's not because I knew the clue was slightly off, as retired_chemist did, but because I'm almost completely ignorant of baseball. @Acme is almost certainly right that 90% of women (and I'd add a good number of men) never had a chance at Mazeroski.

@quilter 1--It does give me some solace you hit the same Natick as I.

@Sfingi--I suspect the dinner/supper conundrum depends on where you grew up. I'm from the north living in the south--to me dinner is the evening meal. To my southern friends, dinner is what I call lunch. The way it's used has little to do with which is the larger meal. I'm okay with thinking of them as interchangeable--unless I'm trying to arrange a dinner party, which sometimes requires explanations.

@william e emba--You have the MOST interesting stories! I'm telling everyone I know the one about Frank Baum's coat. I'm always happy when I see your name on a comment because I know I'll learn something interesting.

foodie 6:48 PM  

@NDE, that was truly hilarious!!!

ZERO is rather a sacred concept, not to be trifled with!

@Glitch, I don't think the suggestion is to dumb down Mondays. They can be deeelightful, leave you smiling, specifically because they are clever, witty, fun. We have been treated to several wonderful examples, by @acme, and others-- see for example the WORK IN PROGRESS puzzle from a couple of weeks ago. You definitely get your money's worth from solving those!

There is a rhythm to the week that the puzzle establishes, and the lighthearted Mondays are as important as the tricky Thursdays or challenging Saturdays. When a puzzle is misplaced, it ruins the crescendo...

treedweller 7:38 PM  

I missed at RAIMe / MAZEROSKe. Stared at it wondering what might be wrong, but never heard of the baseball player (well, since it's been pointed out he was mentioned in "The Odd Couple," that's not true, but might as well have been). Incidentally, man well over 30 here.

@Tobias Duncan I agree with most of what you said about pro sports (which includes college ball, IMO). But I cut the players some slack. I don't know what you do for a living, but imagine the end of a hard day when all eyes were on you and you made a mistake, and a reporter walks up and sticks a mike in your face and says, "How does it feel to blow the McGruder account?" How motivated and capable are you gonna be to come up with an articulate response at that moment? Now, imagine a question closer to the level of vapidity seen in most post-game interviews. I give the players credit for not beating the reporters with their own microphones. They are called players and not analysts for a reason.

@Symmetry / jesser / archaeoprof I might have seen validity in the idea that WURLITZER ORGAN was a poor entry because it's just "Wurlitzer," until I saw the Waylon lyrics quoted above and realized there are also Wurlitzer jukeboxes.

@Glitch "Embiggens" is a perfectly cromulent word, per "The Simpsons." I believe T.D. was taking artistic license and invented "ensmallens."

Anonymous 8:51 PM  

@Rex - You always criticize puzzles like this when one of the theme answers do not have the (in this case) ZERO spanning two words. You did not today. I think there is a credibility issue when you are so inconsistent. Frankly I don't give a rat's arse (I like that word) about the technical issues you dwell on at times, but I really expect you to be consistent in your critiques.

thursdaysd 8:57 PM  

Interested by the pro- vs anti- sports discussion. I moved to the US in '75, and have never been a sports fan, but I got all the sports stuff here except the "I" at the end of MAZEROSKI. However, just as I don't care for a bunch of sports-people-I-never-heard of, I'm equally unhappy with a lot of TV/cinema people I equally never heard of. I grew up doing English cryptics and I enjoy wordplay a lot more than trying to remember trivia I probably never knew in the first place. But I've accepted that that's what shows up in US puzzles.

Jenny 9:11 PM  

Not getting the theme during the solving *combined with* having SAMRAIMe (like treedweller) caused a NATICK for me at the Z crossing of BILLMAZEROSKI and BEZOS (not a baseball fan or a business student/business news reader, apparently...). That SKI ending would've been a good clue for me, because I knew a guy in college with a similar name (Mazeroski or something very close - thankfully I've forgotten!) Once I got that it had to be a Z for that crossing, I still had to fix SAMRAIMI. That finagling added an embarrassing number of minutes to my solve time, and included a Google search because I was just waffling. Oh well. I liked the challenge.

Gonna go work on my Lollapuzzoola4 solve-at-home puzzles now. It would've been my first time there, but traveling from Austin, TX was a bit too pricey. Ten bucks and I'm virtually there, though. I'm thankful for that :-)

JenCT 9:36 PM  

@Stan: LOL

Found this puzzle on the easy side.

Nothing to add that hasn't already been said...

Sfingi 10:15 PM  

@Chefbea - Sorry, that was Chefwen

@mmspeer - so, you're older and like the young singers, is that what you're saying? I'm definitely old enough to be Rex's mother.
Perry Como had his own show and had one of the mellowest voices in cration. He was Abbruzese and sang some songs in pretty good Italian.

Oh - also didn't know what FANNED was.

sanfranman59 1:34 AM  

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 7:28, 6:51, 1.09, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:57, 3:40, 1.08, 85%, Challenging

rain forest 7:15 PM  

So much one could say about so many of the comments...
If you've swung and missed, you've fanned on a shot (baseball, tennis, golf). Prefer sports clues to opera clues, however I don't get bent out of shape re opera. Some Mondays are "tougher" than others. Some puzzles are in someone's wheelhouse while others are not. Not sure what "accessibility" has to do with this particular puzzle, or pretty much any puzzle. I do not know, nor particularly care, why symmetry is critical, important, or desirable. I mean, if someone creates a pangram, which I think is pretty clever, but which frequently gets derided because the constructor may have made concessions in other clues in order to get the pangram, why are symmetrical theme answers so holy? All these issues trouble me greatly. Otherwise, good Monday puzzle.

syndicate bob 8:05 PM  

For those of you who don't remember the first moon walk and Walter Cronkite, here is what he had to say about it: "Hot diggity dog!" Damn right.

Anonymous 11:33 PM  

Felt like I was at a ball game. PASTORAL, RESIN, ORGAN, ERRORS, the umpire calling TIME (even though there is no clock in baseball), Bill MAZEROSKI coming up in the bottom of the 9th with the score TIED and making LOSERS out of the Yankees. The crowd at Forbes Field ROARS. (Fact: not a single batter FANNED in that game. ZERO. ZIP.)

There's ALSO a shout out at 1a to another Pirtates great, Al "SCOOP" Oliver, who coincidentally played for the Giants the year they unveiled baseball's all time greatest anti-mascot (shout out right next door, at 6a).

Anonymous 4:57 AM  

Looked at the central clue--and blooie! Off we go! Not that I was ever a Pirate fan; no, I was--and still am--a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee hater. I screamed myself hoarse when Maz hit that walkoff shot. It took twenty years for me to feel that good about a baseball moment again (Phils 1980 WS champs). Interesting that the mirror entries of ERRORS and FANNED fit right in.
No, not even "for a Monday" was this one anything but easy. The only part I missed, not getting it till I read the blog, was the ZERO imbedments. I agree about the awkwardness of 20a. It was obvoiusly APPETIZER--but there were five more squares! As I worked across, I got OR___, so I thought, well, maybe it's OR DIP. But wings? Um, no. When ORDER filled itself in, I just shrugged, "Well, that's dumb." Reminds me of that wormhole moment in Star Trek: TMP (1) when Decker says "Belayyy thaat phaaaserrr orrrderrr..."
And The last theme entry reminded me of Stan Freberg's sendup of Lawrence Welk: "Gee, Dad-uh, it was a Wurlitzer-uh." Lotta good stuff in this one. How about a (mirrored) PASTORAL ORATORIO?
As for the OOO/III thing, let's say Stan was finishing up in the NE and maybe got a little tired. I'm giving this one a double thumbs-up! ...Spacecraft

muriamon: Song in West Indies Story?

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