MONDAY, Apr. 23, 2007 - David Pringle

Monday, April 23, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Fingers - five theme answers, four of which contain words that name various fingers on the human hand, and a fifth to clue the theme: 37A: Identify exactly ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme (put one's finger on)

This puzzle needs a THUMB. Other than that, it's just fine.

Did the puzzle on the NYT applet and felt like I never hesitated - I knew nearly every answer at a glance - and yet still I only tied my fastest time ever, which is still well over a minute slower than the fastest people. My grid navigation skillz need toning. They are good, but they are not yet, as the kids say, mad.

I should have blogged this puzzle yesterday evening. I barely remember it now, primarily because of the intervening major excitement of last night's Yankees / Red Sox game, which was almost too much for my still-fairly-young heart. I had two beers, which for me is binge-drinking. I had about a pound of guacamole - I stress-eat like crazy when watching sporting events. I threw my cap around the room, I jumped out of my seat shouting at the TV and slumped down in my seat cringing and high-fived people like an extra in a Miller Lite commercial. Let's see, how can I connect this to the puzzle? Oh, I know: this puzzle has four fingers in it:

17A: 3" x 5" aids for speakers (INDEX cards)
23A: Corporate office staffers (MIDDLE managers)
47A: Fonzie's girl on "Happy Days" (PINKY Tuscadero)
58A: Head of a cabal (RING leader)

And I needed all four of those fingers to count the back-to-back-to-back-to-back home-runs the Red Sox hit in the third inning of last night's game (including one from AGING - 22D: Getting on in years - third baseman Mike Lowell, whom I routinely call "Old Man" despite the fact that he is younger than I am). Let me recount the number of "backs" I wrote in there ... yep, that's right, FOUR. In a row. That hasn't happened in the A.L. in forty years (Dodgers did it in the N.L. very recently) and has only happened five times in the history of Major League Baseball. Sadly, this resulted in only a total of four runs (a single grand SLAM - 29A: Shut loudly - could have done that), which was only enough to take a one-run lead, which we promptly lost ... but then we got it back but then the Yankees threatened but then the Sox brought in the best closer in all of baseball, creating a NO-WIN (25D: Hopeless, as a situation) situation for the Yanks (though, truth be told, the Yanks could have gone ahead with one swing of the bat).

I'm fairly certain that if I'd tried hard, I could have worked MESS, SPIKE, SIGNS, FOE, EKED, and AMOK into the above write-up as well.

Before I forget, allow me to say that PINKY TUSCADERO makes me happier than any theme answer has made me in a good, long while.

5D: Deep gap (chasm)
15A: Worm's place, on a fishing line (hook)

Last night's starting Yankee pitcher was CHASE Wright, and no, CHASE is not the same as CHASM, but it's close, and the kid certainly got the HOOK after the third inning, making CHASM / HOOK a favorite intersection of mine this morning. I also like the nearby POD (7D: Pea holder) because the "P" abuts an "A," giving you an L-shaped "A-Pod" which is like A-ROD, but missing something (like, say, the chance to get a hit when it mattered last night ... burn!). The last baseball-related thing I will say today is that I long for the day when a player named "Alexander Orta" enters the league so that I can revel in the experience of calling him A-ORTA (6D: Main artery) every chance I get.

I don't think there's a lot more to comment on in this grid. PINKY creates some interesting crosses, including a rarely seen Monday "Var." in NARKS (38D: Drug agents: Var.) and the somewhat oddly spelled (and deliciously pop cultural) ELLY (39D: _____ May of "The Beverly Hillbillies"). DEISM is slightly high-end for a Monday. Why is it "Basic?" The clue makes it sound like the answer should be a generic term (TENET, say) rather than a specific -ISM. The term LUX is familiar to me from crosswords, but I couldn't define it for you, I don't think. I mean, it's Latin for light. That would be my definition. I appreciate the "Z" in the NW (where GRAZES - 9D: Barely injures in passing - meets AZURE - 22A: Sky-blue); unthemed Scrabbliness is always appreciated. Nice pairing of ODORS and REEKS (both clued as [Stinks]), especially as REEKS sits next to both OGRES (who REEK, or so I'm told) and an OGRE-related movie answer - 51D: Murphy who's heard in "Shrek" (Eddie).

I'm done.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Orange 9:47 AM  

Is that a pink motorcycle Pinky Tuscadero's holding?

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

Technical question about reading these crossword blogs. After discovering the rexparker, I then looked at the Donald, the Orange, and the Linda.

Could you please tell me why those other three each have the dates off by one day? Is there an automatic watermark underlying their columns that needs to be changed?

Norrin2 9:58 AM  

Rex, you're just trying to tick off those soccer fans with all the baseball references, aren't you?

Unknown 10:03 AM  

JD Drew was involved in both the back-to-back-to-back-to-back home run outbursts, and both occurred in the span of about 7 months. Weird.

Rex Parker 10:11 AM  

Yes, Tyrone, the Drew connection *is* weird. There's also a Francona connection, as Sox manager Terry Francona has a father, Tito, who was involved in one of the only other back-to-back-to-back-to-back homer episodes in history (in the early 60's).

Puzzle comes out the night before its publication date, and the other bloggers write their commentaries at night while I sleep. Hence the date difference (I'm guessing).


Linda G 10:21 AM  

Sleep? What is sleep?

Since Colorado is two hours behind Rex and Donald, I was puzzling and blogging at a reasonable hour.

Way more baseball here than I could understand, but I liked the way you linked it all back to the puzzle.

We used the same picture of Pinky. It made me happy to see her, too ; )

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

I also loved Pinky Tuscadero & think your aorta hilarious.

Four consecutive home runs off the same pitcher only happened once before. It was amazing to watch. Enjoy the Bosox while you's only April.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

I'm curious, Rex. What was your disappointingly unmad time on this puzzle?

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Hey Rex, cheer up, why don't you? ;)

I too thrilled to PINKY TUSCADERO ... and MIDDLE MANAGERS. Didn't Pinky have a sister named Leather?

What's the story on ULNAS vs. ULNAE? Threw me off briefly, but other than that, I just love a puzzle that uses ENNUI, LEMUR, ERST and AMOK. I'll never look at AORTA again without thinking of your would-be player, though!

I also was heading towards DOGMA instead of DEISM, which seemed more right to me, but clearly wasn't.

Rex Parker 12:05 PM  

My time was 3:44.

I did today's Newsday puzzle on paper today in 3:38, which is officially my fastest puzzle-solving time ever. Any tips you super-pros have on progressing from My Level to The Next Level (times in the low-mid 2's on a Monday) would be greatly appreciated.

A-ORTA will be the first completely genetically engineered baseball player. Cloned from the DNA of both Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, he will break Barry Bonds' all-time home-run record in just his first season of play, and then be thrown out of the league for safety reasons after the broken bat from one of his many broken-bat hits decapitates some poor second-baseman.


Anonymous 12:22 PM  


Deism was a nice surprise. I too thought "tenet" or "dogma." However, it works because Deism is the basis of Theism. Deism (a belief in Gcd and creation but not in a Personal Gcd, prayer, revelation or miracles) is the baic building block for most religions.

Most of our founding fathers were Deists: Franklin, Jefferson and probably Washington. Jefferson a big fan of Jesus as a person but not as a divinity created his own New Testament by removing all refrences to miracles and Son-of- Gcd from the Gospels. Imagine a President doing that now It would be like an echo asking a shadow to dance - kidding Rex.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

Hi Rex:

Glad to see most liked this puzzle -- personally I wasn't sure PINKY TUSCADERO would fly.

Also want to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog -- it never fails to raise a smile.


Dave P

Anonymous 2:49 PM  


FYI, NY talk sports radio is reporting that the Bosox magic number is 142.

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

142! We can do that!

Very fun and easy Monday puzzle. I, too, liked all those z's and v's and x's. Lively!

Loved the finger theme, though I've never heard of (Pinky) Tuscadero.

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

...and this is the first time that I have ever heard of a narK....

GEO President 7:07 PM  

You should come up with an entire "fantasy team" with neologism-players like A-Orta.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

How about Jorge Orta, a fine little 2nd baseman for the White Sox in the early 70's. I too was looking for narC.

- - Robert

Anonymous 6:25 PM  

This Yankee fan was able to do this puzzle in a much better frame of mind six weeks later thanks to A-Rod's winning HR last night. Like many of your readers the discovery of your blog has been very rewarding. It's entertaining and has led me to persevere on the Fri/Sat puzzles.

An Alaskan Xworder

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