Kudos in street slang / WED 4-3-13 / Tamboura player's music / Nut with cupule / 1981 Burt Reynolds movie / Cabinet department until 1947 / Mechanical bandit feature

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Constructor: Gary Cee

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium 


THEME: baseball — final words in theme answers form a kind of baseball verb progression:

  • MOOD SWING (17A: Sign of bipolar disorder)
  • TOP TEN HIT (26A: Tune in a D.J.'s rotation)
  • CANNONBALL RUN (37A: 1981 Burt Reynolds movie, with "The")
  • LANDSLIDE (53A: Electoral college blowout)
  • FOUR SCORE (62A: Start of a Lincoln address)

Word of the Day: BIG UPS (8D: Kudos, in street slang) —

Noun

big up (plural big ups)
  1. (slang, also big ups) Significant respect or acclaim.
    I want to give a big up to my bro on the mic. (wiktionary)

• • •

Very easy. Only reason I tacked "Medium" on there was the slang, particularly BIG UPS, which I can't recall ever seeing in a puzzle, but which I know well from '90s rap. I'm also not terribly sure how well known GROK is (59D: Totally get, in slang), but I figure it's gotta be better known than BIG UPS (esp. among the NYT-solving crowd). At any rate, those were the only answers I could see causing anyone a problem today. Maybe SNOOKI, I guess, but she's been around long enough that she already feels dated (48D: "Jersey Shore" nickname). My main problem (and it wasn't much of one) was DOM (42A: One of the DiMaggios) (really, "CANNONBALL RUN" is in your grid and *that's* the DOM you go with???), whom I know only from crosswords and whom I put down as DON, which made seeing ANOMALY very very hard (30D: Deviation from the norm). DON pretty much stopped me from coming straight down the west side of the gird, so I had to come at that SW corner from the east, and not being able to get EYER (58A: Leering sort) from the -R or LIE FOR (49D: Help by confirming an alibi, say) from the -FOR, I just couldn't flow right in there. Had to leap in cold and get R.E.M. (61D: Michael Stipe's band) and ACORN (60A: Nut with a cupule) in order to get the traction I needed to finish things off. If not for those hiccups, I'd've been under 4 today. As it was, just over.


Flew out of the gate with AMEN and got all the Downs in quick succession. Glanced back to make sure RAGA was correct for its clue (14A: Tamboura player's music) and then moved on. Wrote in EGOTISM at 3D: Prima donna's problem but it didn't stretch—easily corrected. I'm been known to have "Morning Joe" on briefly in the mornings from time to time, so I am familiar with co-host MIKA Brzezinski (whose father ZBIGNIEW was National Security Adviser to President Carter) (side note: Dear Santa, please give me a puzzle ZBIGNIEW in it) (side note 2: actually, I think I recently saw ZBIGgie  in one of BEQ's puzzles). I guessed WAR off the W- despite fearing that answer would be some old-time acronym (29A: Cabinet department until 1947). Managed to get both mountain ranges with little problems, though I did put in ALTA before ALAI at 15A: Asia's Trans ___ Range). I think O SAY is terrible fill, but I love the clue it got today: [Key opener?]. Baffled me—needed all the crosses.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    88 comments:

    jackj 12:03 AM  

    Gary Cee tosses out our first puzzle of the 2013 baseball season and with a theme that begins with MOODSWING and works its way down to FOURSCORE, it’s batter up and get out the pine tar, because we’ve got a free swinging affair for sure!

    (Since my Red Sox were able to SWING, HIT, RUN, SLIDE and SCORE at will on opening day yesterday against the Evil Empire, the baseball season started nicely and today we get a chance to do it all over again).

    Gary’s fill more than matches the imagination of the theme as SNOOKI, MIKA and ARETHA do (gentle) battle over which one will be the puzzle’s DH (my money is on ARETHA) and the rest of us are left to deal with the likes of WAWA and BIGUPS.

    Never having heard of BIGUPS, “Kudos, in street slang”, I went scurrying to Urban Dictionary to get the details but, as it always seems with U.D., one can’t tell the praise from the insults so I’ll just move on to GROK and the rest of Gary’s goodies.

    And, we quickly get back to baseball and the obligatory rendition of our National Anthem, cleverly signaled as “Key opening?” for OSAY, then “The Little Professor”, Boston Red Sox star of yore, DOM DiMaggio shows up to play center field and, Holy MACKEREL, the game can begin.

    (There was a lot more to like in the fill, STELLAR, EGOMANIA, TWEETS, NONSENSE and ANOMALY as examples).

    But, the clue of the day has to go to 35 down that asks for the “Deg. Earned by just one U. S. president” for MBA and not surprisingly, in keeping with the theme, he had been a baseball owner, Yale and Harvard grad, George W. Bush, aka “43”. Imagine that!

    You went yard with this one, Gary!

    jae 12:07 AM  

    Easy Wed.  Solid theme, a bit of zip...SNOOKI, BIGUPS (a WOE for me and I'm currently sorta binge watching The Wire on HBO Go), MACKERAL, GROK (I highly recommend Stranger In A Strange Land, especially if you are young and impressionable, which I was when I read it in 1962),  MIKA (that was a BEQ her Dad was in), TWEETS, WAWA (but only if clued using SNL)...smooth grid equals quite a bit to like, and I did.

    OldCarFudd 12:12 AM  

    I didn't see the theme until I was finished and went looking for it. I'm obviously not attuned to baseball.

    Doesn't SERIAL mean a show in which a single story is spread over multiple episodes? I'm old enough to remember The Lone Ranger on radio. It came on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and was the hit of the week for a seven-year-old. But it wasn't a serial, except on very rare occasions when a story line would carry over until the next show. Generally, each half-hour show was self-contained.

    Anonymous 12:17 AM  

    SWING, HIT, RUN, SLIDE, SCORE. Is this in inside-the-park home run?

    Not complaining, but BALL in CANNONBALL RUN was a little disconcerting.
    .....................

    W. is the president with the MBA? OMG.

    ZenMonkey 12:23 AM  

    I had the same thought about OSAY. In context it was cute.

    Fun puzzle with a classic feel and lots of zip. I loved the crossing of EGOMANIAC and MOODSWING, and I always like contemporary/nerdy fare like TWEETS and GROK.

    3333/afa 12:49 AM  

    I'm a huge baseball fan, and in spite of having completed about 97 percent of this puzzle (I'm a novice), I didn't see the theme until jackj was kind enough to spell it out.

    I'd like to add to his list and mention that CANNON, in the baseball vernacular, refers to a fielder with a strong arm. Thus, CANNONBALLRUN covers all the bases, so to speak.

    Anonymous 1:10 AM  

    Identical theme to last year's Opening Day offering from Lynn Lempel. Both puzzles are entertaining with lots of fun fill--proof that there's plenty of room for a new take on an old idea if it's done well.

    Davis 1:27 AM  

    Fun puzzle, but I totally overlooked the theme. Then again, I wouldn't have even known baseball was starting up again, except my boss was excited about going to see the Giants opener on Friday.

    MOOD SWING, CANNONBALL RUN, BIG UPS, and ANOMALY were all STELLAR in my book. I guess today's easy Wednesday is a counterpoint to the tough Monday we had this week (my times on the two were nearly the same).

    Evan 2:23 AM  

    Okay, this is how I know the Monday puzzle was too difficult -- I finished Wednesday a full minute ahead, just like on Tuesday. I could understand that for a Tuesday, but not Wednesday.

    Even though there was a handful of retro answers, I was very pleasantly surprised at how many modern references and slang terms there still were. BIG UPS, MIKA Brzezinski, TWEETS, TOP TEN HIT, "rim shot," SNOOKI, DRONE, and GROK felt current and fresh -- I still use BIG UPS from time to time, and though I personally cringe with the thought of predator DRONEs, it's still a modern answer and thus a decent reference. I'm almost surprised that NOM wasn't clued as "One-third of a LOLcat's sound" (thinking of a recent answer in Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest), ACORN wasn't clued as "Voter registration grp. in the 2008 election news cycle," and that NARC wasn't clued as "Figure in 'The Wire,' familiarly."

    (@jae, if this is your first time going through that show, keep watching. It just gets better and better.)

    I guess in retrospect I don't care for NOM crossing ANOMALY, and EYER is one of those answers where you just add R to turn a verb into a crosswordese noun ("Eww, I don't like the look of that sketchy eyer over there...."). But other than that, I thought this was really clean and snazzy.

    Evan 2:29 AM  

    It occurs to me after having posted my comment that Amy Reynaldo had much of the same exact thoughts that I did on the modern stuff. But I swear on the holy MACKEREL that I wrote my comment first before reading what she said.

    Carola 2:30 AM  

    More medium than easy for me. Spent some time looking for the theme after I finished. Thought it might have to do with dance or music - SWING, TOP TEN, BALL, SCORE, then saw baseball. I took the sequence to be SWING - HIT BALL - RUN - SLIDE - SCORE, with ARM as a bonus.

    Didn't know BIG UPS. Since I had DarK before DUSK, I first tried BIG air, then BIG aPS (short for "applause"?). Also new to me: ALAI, MIKA, DOM. I did know what the Key opener was going to be, though.

    chefwen 2:49 AM  

    Maybe this is backward week and they just forgot to tell us.

    One write-over, totally insignificant, SNOOKy before SNOOKI. The I in BIG UPS/ARAI was my last fill, but what else could it have been?

    Got the baseball thing early on after SWING and HIT, it helped with the rest of the fill.

    I'm anxious to see if backward week will continue tomorrow. Most likely NOT.

    Anoa Bob 3:15 AM  

    Some interesting stuff in this one. I wonder if any other clues were considered for 12D NO TAIL.

    I'm always noticing POCs (Plural Of Convenience) that are used to bump up the letter count to fill the requisite number of squares. Most puzzles have some, as does this one, with the likes of RAKES, ALTARS, BIG UPS (really?), BARS, NICKS, and the double POC ending at TWEETS & SERIALS.

    But this is the first time where the reverse seems to have occurred at MOOD SWING. (An SOC?) To qualify as a "Sign of bipolar disorder", you need MOOD SWINGS. A single MOOD SWING will not do the trick.

    I think a better clue would have been "What a clam goes through between low and high tide".

    jae 3:45 AM  

    @Evan -- My OCD rule for TV shows is I only watch them if I can do it from start to finish. Hill Street Blues was the genesis for this rule. For reasons that are somewhat murky I missed The Wire when it first aired on HBO. Needless to say I've regretted that. The streaming site HBO Go has given me a second chance. So, yes, this is my first time and I'm hooked. And, trivia alert, I just realized that Omar Little is also Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire.

    Ebenezer 4:02 AM  

    Fun Wednesday - I loved the crossing of EGOMANIAC and MOODSWING that Zen Monkey mentioned. I also enjoyed B AND O crossing the "SWING" part of MOODSWING - Sal BANDO was the Oakland A's third baseball when they won three consecutive World Series in the early 1970s - could have clued it for him instead of the Monopoly RR.

    Not only was there a lot of baseball, in the puzzle, there were several WAR terms. Predator DRONEs are scary, but I'm glad they're being discussed more in the media, including the NY Times crossword. As Rex and others mentioned, the O SAY clue was great - written during the WAR of 1812. FOUR SCORE, ARSENAL, General TSO, CANNONBALL and even SNARE (an iconic image of the Revolutionary WAR) are the others.

    I also enjoyed the puzzle because I could finish it - two straight Wednesday finishes are exciting, even if it took me 32:27 to complete this one.

    Ellen S 4:07 AM  

    Took me 30 minutes including falling asleep for about 5 and spending another 5 looking for the error, which turned out to be I can't spell MACKERaL. (LET/LaT - there are calls in Badminton? Like AMEN?)

    Never saw the theme but it wouldn't have helped with the solve, since the theme answers only appear after you know what the theme is. BIG UPS was brand new but easy to get from crosses. But, hey, SNOOKI is now a gimme, she has appeared to often. Are there other people in that show? Do they have names? Will we meet them here?

    @OldCarFudd, I agree about SERIAL, but I am beginning to GROK that the rule in crosswrords is, if people can get the answer, then it doesn't matter if the clue is correct. Like GEE for Left the other day. Left, right, who cares as long as Mr Happy Pencil likes it?

    Arsenal Crete Mikas 5:23 AM  


    Hand UPS for not knowing BIGUPS...
    Had the BIGU?? And considered BIG UGH!

    Didn't see theme till post completion, and knew I'd seen it before, but yes, entries felt fresh.

    By coincidence, went to the baseball psrk today and admired statues of Willie Mays and two folks I'd never heard of...
    Someone Cepeda and someone Sanchez, with about six first names from the Dominican Republic.

    Then went into shop and thought how hideous Orange looks in general and tried to guess who "Freak" was...
    TIm Lincecum?

    Then ate pizza in front of the church where Joe diMaggio and Marilyn Monroe married...
    Can you GROK what city I'm in?

    Jack Lee 5:37 AM  

    Ugh, didn't finish due to Jack WEBB of Dragnet (who?), BANDO (not in my British edition Monopoly set), WAWA (?!?), and MIKA Bz... Brz... oh, you know.

    loren muse smith 6:22 AM  

    I agree with everyone else – easy peasy.

    Love the clue for GRIT – “stick-to-it-iveness.”

    @Evan - ("Eww, I don't like the look of that sketchy eyer over there...."). Hah! Agreed – EYER was maybe the NADIR. Hey – but we have that EYER corner with RASCAL, RAKES, and SLIME, all cozying up to SNOOKI at the ALTAR. . .

    In the spirit of NONROMAN, I first entertained “no gill” and “no beak” before NO TAIL.

    Even though I was pretty much a tomboy, I could never SLIDE in softball. Too scary.

    I remember this theme from last year, too, and I like this one just as much. Thanks, Gary.

    Anonymous 6:29 AM  

    Thank you, again, Rex....I didn't know there was a theme until you pointed it out....easy fill.

    Thoracic 7:14 AM  

    Psychopop--- just ate my first devilled egg ever on Sunday at Easter pot luck. For some reason was sure I didn't like them, though I don't think I ever tried one before. Same thing happened with creme brûlée a couple of years ago and I deeply regret all those brûlée free years.
    Oh, the puzzle was nice too. Go Bosox!

    John V 7:21 AM  

    Everything @Rex said, esp. about the North, WEBB/BIGUPS/ALAI/ELI not so pretty to me. Sort of two topical puzzle in a row, yesterday and today. Was the Pope at opening day yesterday?

    Re: Monday. I was traveling so didn't get here, but the FOOL theme was maybe Monday medium. Surprised at the comments on how hard it was.

    Snow again today. Sigh.

    Gill I. P. 7:23 AM  

    Holy guacamole this was fun...
    Got the theme right after SWING and HIT and then went my merry way.
    Wasn't Key's opening Jose? The clue for RASCAL was STELLAR. I used to watch "Our Gang" all the time. Spanky and Alfalfa were my favorites along with Darla.
    Seeing Deviled EGG almost made me go WAWA since we still have about a million of them left over from Easter.
    BIG UPS to you Mr. Cee - this was an A plus in my book.

    Elle54 7:25 AM  

    Spring is here! Go Cubs! (1-0)

    rgards 7:33 AM  

    Nice puzzle; enjoyed the theme, but i am hopeful someone can explain 68 across. Thanks

    MetaRex 7:35 AM  


    This one brought back a v. nice memory...

    The solving story and ratings for CrossWorlders and casual solvers are at I once saw Mel Stottlemyre SWING, HIT, RUN, SLIDE, and SCORE

    webwinger 7:38 AM  

    Definitely an easy Wednesday, though I too was guessing to finish at the BIGUPS/ALAI crossing. Great to see GROK in the grid. Can’t truly grok that word if you haven’t read Robert Heinlein’s SF classic (see @jae’s comment above), which I did at age 19 in 1968 while spending the summer in San Francisco (“summer of love” plus one—hearing the strains of “be sure to wear some flowers in your hair” as I write this). Hard to beat that for an impressionable time!

    Rob C 7:47 AM  

    Very nice puzzle for the first week of baseball. Ditto on all of the fine entries others mentioned.

    Didn't get the theme while solving. Had to go back and find it. Definitely on the easy side for a Wednesday, even without any help from the theme.

    Only slow up was DarK for DUSK, but quickly straightened out.

    Here in eastern Penn we have a chain of convenience stores/some have gas stations called WAWA. Locals would have gotten a kick out of it being clued for the store, but probably too local for the wide NYT audience.

    evil doug 8:06 AM  

    rgards: The game of checkers---getting kinged stacks two of 'em.

    Evil

    Micki 8:17 AM  

    I'm just shocked we made it through a baseball-themed puzzle with nary a mention of Mel OTT.

    joho 8:27 AM  

    I did the puzzle and turned out the light wondering what the theme might be.

    Picked up the puzzle this morning and went searching for the theme and found it: fun! Especially since our evening opener is tonight (we lost the first game :()

    When I saw OSAY I wished it were at 1A to start the puzzle ... then wondered what could replace STAG: WINS, ROUT, BEAT ???

    Timely, enjoyable Wednesday, thanks, Gary Cee!

    @Acme, you sound like "Where's Waldo?" today!

    mac 9:14 AM  

    Nice puzzle, which I finished with a big mistake: Jack Waag of Dragnet sounded fine, as did Eli, B and O and gig-ups.

    Great to have all the terms in the right order.@Rob C:
    I remember those Wawa stores from our year in Ardmore!

    O Say was my favorite answer, how funny. Just read an article about predator drones: dragon flies.

    jberg 9:17 AM  

    I'm so embarrassed -- didn't see the theme, just figured it was an off-day themeless, so didn't really look for it. The puzzle was so easy, I should have realized it had to have one.

    I'm with @OldCarFudd, The Lone Ranger was a series, not a serial. I mean, every episode had to end with the L.R. riding off into the distance to the cry of "Hiyo, Silver!" So you couldn't leave anything hanging for the next episode.

    One writeover: mOt before NOM; finally noticed that AmOMALY wasn't quite right. Other than that, very easy.

    chefbea 9:21 AM  

    Fun puzzle. Got the theme right away but DNF. Did not know Alai and Mika.

    GTG - our farmers market opens today. Gotta see what good veggies they have

    Z 9:28 AM  

    Some young 'uns think GROK is fresh. "Stranger in a Strange Land" was a classic when I read it in era of disco (anyone else remember the White Sox forfeiting game two of a double header because of a little disco destroying overzealousnous?). I was growing up in Dutch Reformed west Michigan at the time. Heinlein didn't lead to MOOD SWINGS so much as EYER openings.

    Shorter east solve of the week for me (11-12-10) so definitely easy. I was looking at the first words so I didn't GROK the theme until post solve. I do wonder about the commenter who had to wait until another commenter explained it. Did we not read @Rex's blog?

    Z 9:36 AM  

    "Shorter east" should have been "shortest". Interesting auto-correct.

    And speaking of Mel Ott, where's he been lately?

    oldbizmark 9:44 AM  

    what the shit is grok?

    Wikipedia 9:53 AM  

    @oldbizmark - href="‪http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grok‬">GROK

    Anonymous 10:03 AM  

    The baseball references passed me by completely, not that it mattered, but WAWA? Seriously? The setter can just stick in some random series of letters and claim it's a word?

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:13 AM  

    @Ellen S - I got smacked in the face by that same MACKERAL, before it transformed into a MACKEREL. And when I first read the clue, Holy fish?, I thought MONKFISH . . . but having FISH in both clue and answer wasn't going to work!

    @Anonymous, 10:03 AM - WAWA is standard rendering of baby talk for "water."

    PalomarPuzzler 10:32 AM  

    Didn't see the theme but still finished in good time for me. Did anyone else want ZBIG instead of MIKA at 20A? That was his nickname, as I recall, from the Carter years.

    Seeing the baseball theme, and after what Yu Darvish nearly did for the Rangers last night, can we be very far from seeing him in the next MlB puzzle, perhaps clued as "Sufi Rangers hurler"?

    Tita 10:34 AM  

    @Rex - nice podcast!

    Thanks, @jackj for pointing out that OSAY fits the theme...

    I used to love baseball. Till it became Big Business. Ironic - I started loving the Yankees when they were always in the cellar - mid-sixties...a few years after the rush of winning again, I lost interest. Thanks, Mr, Steinbrenner...

    I caught the theme - liked it, and all the great words everyone has mentioned.
    I;ll mentioni them anyway - NOTAIL, RASCAL, gobbledygook, clues for EGG & KING.

    Love thinking of an ACORN as having a cupule...
    Mom paints ACORNS with designs to use at Christmas or Easter.

    @Anoa Bob - love your alternate clue!! ;)

    Great puzzle, Mr. Cee.

    Kurt 10:41 AM  

    Play ball!

    Two Ponies 10:48 AM  

    I guess I'm the anomaly today. I thought this was a slog and the theme was lost on me.
    Big ups? Might be common on some streets but not on the suburban cul-de-sac where I live.
    @ Tita, Thanks for the comment late yesterday.

    FearlessKim 10:49 AM  

    Thanks, everyone, for teasing out all the ways that Mr. Cee tucks theme answers all over this puzzle! I don't think I've seen anyone mention three more:

    ARM: the defensive weapon of the CANNON

    ARSENAL: often used to describe the variety of pitches thrown by the CANNON

    MACKEREL: wasn't there/isn't there a big-league announcer whose signature line was/is "Holy MACKEREL!!"?

    As a baseball fan and XW enthusiast, loved the puzzle! Play BALL? AMEN!

    retired_chemist 10:56 AM  

    Good one. Bonus theme answers not (I think) mentioned as such before might include BIG UPS (UPS = at bats?) and Sal B AND O (7D).

    My rim shots were on a basketball COURT first. Nothing else overwritten except DNA => RNA, which 50:50 toss I lost this time.

    That Dubya is the only President with an MBA may say something about both him and the degree.

    Thanks, Mr. Cee. This one gets you raised to at least Mr. Bee plus, maybe higher.

    Evan 11:09 AM  

    @Thoracic:

    Yes! Psychopop wins again! Mwa ha ha ha....

    jackj 11:12 AM  

    Anonymous@10:03AM-

    Re: WAWA:

    It could have been worse, (you've got to get out more).

    "Legendary newswoman Barbara Walters has revealed that a classic “Saturday Night Live” sketch poking fun at her speech impediment left her fuming.

    “Baba Wawa” was among comic Gilda Radner’s most famous impressions and she debuted it during the first season of “SNL” in 1975. But it was the aggressive network TV reporter’s daughter, Jacqueline — then just 7 years old — who soothed her mom’s temper tantrum when she wondered aloud: “Oh, mommy, where’s your sense of humor?”

    JenCT 11:40 AM  

    @mac: That was a great article with really cool videos: Nature's Drones

    Knew MIKA Brzezinski from her days as a news anchor in Hartford, CT.

    Can constructors please retire SNOOKI??? I cringe when I see that name...

    Seems like I hardly ever get the theme while solving; I need to come here to find out what it was!

    Susan McConnell 11:44 AM  

    Oh boy, baseball! (Not.)

    Easy enough...hooray for O SAY.

    Lewis 12:19 PM  

    Fun puzzle. I loved the clue for KING and nice to see ALAI without jai. GROK in the 60s not only meant "I get it", but it had almost a spiritual aspect to it. It was cool to say. But then it just died, and no one said it any more. That's how I remember it, anyway...

    chefbea 12:22 PM  

    @Fearless kim...It was Harry Cary who broadcast for the St. Louis Cardinals way back when and he said Holy Cow!!!

    Notsofast 12:49 PM  

    Fresh and breezy! A real fun puzzle. Tip o' the Hatlo hat to "Key opening" and "Double-decker checker". Good job, Gary Cee.

    Sparky 12:50 PM  

    One error MIlA/SlEW. Drat. Had SWING and SCORE so figured baseball. Nice bit of info re CANNONBALL @33etc. And thanks to all the other pointer outers. When they want a Dimaggio I put in the O and wait for the downs.

    On Monday I was doing research on a commemorative medal and came across the Lion of Lucern which was sculpted to memorialize the 1792 massacre of the SWISS GUARDS. I forget what that's been called, thanks ACME and Evan.

    I am happy with three easy days because I had a very bad MOODSWING Fri., Sat., and Sun. Thanks Gary Cee.

    Sparky 1:14 PM  

    I think Pee Wee Reese used to say something too, but I can't find it. @Notsofast: dang, I wanted to start using Tip 'o the Hatlo Hat in the blog. You beat me to it.

    Perry Mason 1:35 PM  

    Since when did LYING FOR (49D)become synonymous with "Help by confirming an alibi"? Alibis can be false, but aren't so by definition.

    Bird 1:49 PM  

    Great, easy puzzle. Didn’t know BIG UPS, but did know GROK. EYER is ugly. Slow to comprehend the theme because I had MOODINESS and wondered what the connection was to 26A and 37A.

    Other writeovers include ORGAN before ARROW and WOLF before EYER.

    IMO, 44A should have started us off 1A.

    Let’s not forget that Phil Rizzuto (aka The Scooter) also said, “Holy Cow”.

    Happy Humpday!

    webwinger 2:37 PM  

    Didn't expect WAWA would generate comments, but since it did, will offer that one of the first attempts to speak in English by my daughter Maya after being adopted from China at age 20 months was to call the lovely cool liquid from the tap WAYA. One day as I carried her onto a bridge crossing the Chicago River, she looked down, excitedly pointed in the eloquent way toddlers do, and shouted "waya!"...

    Anonymous 2:54 PM  

    According to xwordinfo, Will Shortz has used WAWA 27 times, so it's not new.

    okanaganer 3:10 PM  

    WAWA: also a fairly well known Ontario town (well known here in Canada, at least).

    sanfranman59 3:50 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

    Wed 9:33, 10:16, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Wed 5:27, 6:04, 0.90, 24%, Easy-Medium

    Evan 3:53 PM  

    WAWA: Also the best 24-hour convenience store and late-night sandwich vendor on the East Coast. Yeah, all y'all Philadelphians know what I'm talkin' 'bout. 7-11 has got nothing on it.

    Thoracic 3:53 PM  

    Biggest mosquitoes I ever saw!!

    Rob C 3:55 PM  

    @Evan - yes, I brought up the WAWA stores earlier today. I live in NE Penn and work down in Bethlehem. Must pass about 5 Wawa's on my way to work everyday.

    grandma 3:56 PM  

    Wawa what a horrible clue....

    Two Ponies 4:00 PM  

    I've been to Wawa, Ont. too. There is a huge statue of a Canadian goose there. I think Wawa is the native name for that goose. Maybe that would have been a better clue. I mean, we all know wapiti means elk so why not?

    OISK 4:38 PM  

    Three easy days in a row for me. I did Monday to Wednesday at one sitting. Monday was near my fastest time (just under 5 min.), and appropriately, I slowed down through Tues. and Wed. Thought Wed. was a very nice, even puzzle, even though I missed the baseball theme entirely - never looked for a theme! How big a fan am I? Was at opening day, and am going again tonight despite sub-forty degree temperatures. My first baseball game was Aug 11, 1953, Oisk vs. Maglie at the Polo Grounds. Oisk pitched a 2 hitter, and Hodges and Furillo hit homers. I LOVE baseball!

    FearlessKim 4:39 PM  

    Thanks, @chefbea and @bird! Cow, mackerel... ;-)

    LaneB 4:42 PM  

    Happy with this baseball wednesday entry. Did make one mistake in the SW corner: Had RAmpS for RAKES making d48 and d61 slightly off. Since I didn't know Snooki or Rem, RAMPS made sense given the clue of Ground crew gear. Think airports. Anyway, I enjoyed a Google-less effort.
    Also I really do appreciate the comments the other day about my kvetching over the clues and some of the difficulties I have later in the week. You are right: these things are puzzles, not competitions or tests of knowledge. I have to learn to relax and enjoy the process. Thanks.

    ANON B 4:57 PM  

    @rexparker:
    He missed one DiMaggio. It was
    Vince who played centerfield for
    Pittsburg.

    Notsofast 5:05 PM  

    @Sparky: A tip of the hat to you for knowing the Hatlo Hat reference! You must be old, like me.

    Elle54 6:07 PM  

    NONONO! Holy Mackerel belongs to JACK BRICKHOUSE for the Chicago Cubs!
    @fearless Kim
    @chefbea
    @bird

    Uncle John 6:15 PM  

    Hi Rexites - First time, long time...
    @Evil Doug - Thank you for
    anticipating my question -
    I knew I had a forehead-slap
    coming to me.

    Also, is there not such a
    thing as a truthful alibi;
    for those unjustly accused
    - do all alibis require lying?

    In closing, anyone who GROKS
    The Little RASCALS knows that
    Spanky is the KING of child
    actors - AMEN!

    Chip Hilton 6:17 PM  

    Put me in, Coach! A week that gets the juices flowing. Never saw the theme but knocked it off with little trouble. You young 'uns have no idea how big Jack WEBB was in the 50's. Watch the re-runs of Dragnet and crack up at the stilted, wooden dialog.

    Back to baseball: Darvish was really whirlin' last night. One out short of a perfect game which would have been the 25th in Major League history and, amazingly, the 7th in the last five seasons.

    lawprof 6:37 PM  

    If it's a Dimaggio clue, you just KNOW it ain't gonna be Joe. I'd be willing to bet that the more obscure brother DOMinates when it comes to crossword puzzles. Shucks, I'd bet that brother Vince gets more ink (X-word speaking) than the hall-of-famer.

    Bird 6:40 PM  

    @Elle54 - I know, I know. Phil Rizzuto said "Holy Cow".

    The Yankees retired Rizzuto's number 10 in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on August 4, 1985. During this ceremony, he was also given a plaque to be placed in the stadium's Monument Park. The plaque makes reference to the fact that he "has enjoyed two outstanding careers, all-time Yankee shortstop, one of the great Yankee broadcasters." Humorously, Rizzuto was accidentally bumped to the ground during his own ceremony, by a live cow wearing a halo (that is, a "holy cow"); both honoree and cow were unhurt. Rizzuto later described the encounter: "That big thing stepped right on my shoe and pushed me backwards, like a karate move."

    He is also immortalized in Meat Loaf's song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light"

    JenCT 6:53 PM  

    @Bird: His baseball career being before my time, I remember Phil Rizzuto as the pitchman for The Money Store:

    Phil Rizzuto

    Ellen S 7:17 PM  

    I remember Hatlo's cartoons ("They'll Do It Every Time" and "Hatlo's Inferno") but not his habit of soliciting ideas from readers and thanking them. Nice to be reminded.

    And the dialogue on "Dragnet" was stilted even when new. Stan Freberg did a satire on it in 1953, St. George and the Dragonet. I actually owned the record at one time. Thank the gods for YouTube.

    Finally, on the theme of "Wawa", my captcha is "Palthi". Describes the collegial, inclusive nature of this blog: everyone is palthi-walthi.

    Evan 8:00 PM  

    @Rob C:

    My fault, I missed that part of your comment.

    Sparky 9:57 PM  

    @Notsofast and EllenS. Yes, I am old but still Sparky. My father nicknamed me for Barney Google's horse, Spark Plug. Do you recognize my avatar? Rex did. Cicero's Cat, ran under Mutt and Jeff. Just the facts, Maam.

    sanfranman59 1:20 AM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 7:02, 6:12, 1.14, 92%, Challenging
    Tue 7:22, 8:19, 0.89, 16%, Easy
    Wed 9:25, 10:16, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:22, 3:42, 1.18, 96%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 172 Mondays)
    Tue 4:21, 4:52, 0.89, 13%, Easy
    Wed 5:20, 6:04, 0.88, 18%, Easy

    Anonymous 9:58 AM  

    Hi, sorry for the spam, but I've released a free crossword app in the Play Store called Crossword Rush. I've constructed all the puzzles myself (themed, easy difficulty), and a kid at the uni nearby did the programming.

    I have no budget for advertising (do you have any idea what Facebook charges for ads!?), nor for hiring marketing pros. So I'd love it if you'd give it a shot.

    There are no ads in the app, but rather kiip rewards, which will (very occasionally, if I may put those words together) give you a real-life reward.

    Thanks, and sorry again for the spam.

    Spacecraft 12:24 PM  

    If Cee had done as @Ebenezer suggests and clued 7d as the ballplayer instead of the RR, it would have turned my other thumb up. But as clued, BANDO is in the same rotten barrel with other abbreviational ANOMALies like AANDE (Gawd, it hurts so bad just to type it!) in which the words are initialized, yet somehow the ampersand is lengthened to the full word "AND." As I have said before, this makes NONSENSE! Cut it out, people!

    With the upturned-thumb hand, though, I'll pat Mr. Cee on the back for a theme that came to light only after I scanned the completed grid for it. To me the theme was "an inside-the-park home run with the bases loaded--" the only play that would feature all the listed actions and let FOURSCORE.

    Oh, and for managing to clue ALAI with other than "Jai-."

    Interesting that EGOMANIA is in direct line with SNOOKI, especially with the "diva" reference.

    Agree that the clue for OSAY is smashingly good.

    Sorry about the "AND" rant; you'd think by now I should be USEDTOIT. Hasn't happened yet.

    Waxy in Montreal 3:19 PM  

    I second @Spacecraft's comments above.

    Agree with @Ebenezer from primetime that SAL BANDO would have been a natural for this baseball-themed puzzle. Still, the good ole B&O railroad from Monopoly was a great blast from the past, if not a current TOPTENHIT. Not a fan either of the WAWA cluing - would have preferred the northern Ontario town or a shoutout to the late and very great SNL comedienne Gilda Radner's BABA WAWA.

    Grew up on Robert Heinlein's juvenile SF books and then later Stranger in a Strange Land blew my mind so am always pleased to see GROK make the grid.

    Bring on Thursday...



    DMGrandma 3:23 PM  

    Enjoyed this puzzle, though it left me with a few questions, and my, all too typical, one square boner. Realized that the ArAl mountains had to be wrong as the,totally unknown, BIGUPS was the only letter combination that made any kind of sense. So I replaced the mountains with AtAI, a spelling error I seem doomed to carry to the grave. In the same vein, it was a bit comforting to learn I wasn't the only one who misspelled MACKERaL. Enjoyed the aha moment of KING, but don't understand the ARROW answer. Guess maybe it refers to some computers, but certainly not this iPad. Wasn't GROK the name of some cartoon character? Better say 'bye before I sound anymore discombobulated!

    Waxy in Montreal 3:50 PM  

    @DMG, correct, 16A refers to the four ARROWs (up, down, left, right) on a standard PC keybooard. GROK may be a cartoon character but it's more common as a verb: from Wiki - "To grok is to intimately and completely share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity. Author Robert A. Heinlein coined the term in his best-selling 1961 book Stranger in a Strange Land. In Heinlein's view, grokking is the intermingling of intelligence that necessarily affects both the observer and the observed."

    Syndi Solver 8:46 PM  

    I enjoyed the puzzle even though I was a really slow solver today. BIG UPS to Gary Cee!

    My biggest trouble was the cross at ALAI/ELI. I guessed the L correctly. Then I looked up "The Book of Eli" and realized that I've actually seen it, LOL! I just forgot the title.

    This puzzle taught me that there is a DOM DiMaggio in addition to Joe. I only knew of DeLuise. And since he was in the movie, I wonder why that clue was chosen? Hmmm.

    I'm amused that GROK is considered fresh by some. But it's a fun word!

    However, I do prefer not to think about its more literal meaning, eating of the dead. :-) (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land )

    It reminds me of those lines from the movie Gandhi (paraphrased):

    "Are you Christian? I know a Christian. She drinks blood."
    (awkward pause)
    "The blood of Christ. Every Sunday."

    Syndi Solver 9:17 PM  

    @Evan -- "I'm almost surprised that NOM wasn't clued as 'One-third of a LOLcat's sound' "

    Great minds think alike! NOM NOM NOM. Whenever I see HAI in a crossword puzzle I think, "Oh hai!"

    @Anoa Bob, I loved your clam related clue for MOOD SWING! I also felt it looked odd as singular, like scad vs. scads.

    @Spacecraft, "inside-the-park home run with the bases loaded" meaning FOUR players would SCORE - very clever!

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