TUESDAY, May 29, 2007 - Jim Hyres

Monday, May 28, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: BAR (38A: It can precede the starts of 16-, 26-, 43- and 58-Across and 10- and 33-Down)

Well, I guess I picked a good week to start scaling back the size of this blog, because I have Nothing to say about this puzzle. It is completely unremarkable, as far as I can tell. 6 kinds of BARs, 4 horizontal, 2 vertical, with BAR sitting in the center of the grid, clued in the ungainly fashion I love so much. Here are your theme answers:

  • 16A: #1 hit (chart topper)
  • 26A: Some 1960s-'70s attire (bell bottoms)
  • 43A: Watch (keep an eye on)
  • 58A: However (nonetheless)
  • 10D: Playground game (hopscotch)
  • 33D: Manhattan Project and Operation Overlord (code names)

That last one was pretty tricky, and actually held me up a bit. The only name I could think of was OPPENHEIMER, and then, even with CODE in place, I still had no idea what the clue was going for. Aside from that, the only interesting thing that happened to me on the way to solving this puzzle was working MISHIT (42A: Faulty shot, as in tennis) backwards and giggling to myself when the answer read --SHIT.

I will now force myself to do a Featured Five, though this puzzle is giving me very little to work with.

15A: Ending with pay or plug (ola) - Do I even want to know what PLUGOLA is???

20A: Summer coolers (ades) - if you play online Boggle (and I know some of you do), then you know that the program does not recognize ADE as a word. I remember, almost 20 years ago, seeing ADE in the puzzle for the first time and thinking that it was ridiculous as a stand-alone word. As far as I was concerned, ADE was a suffix that went with LEMON-, maybe LIME-, and possibly GATOR-. And yet many years later I had gotten used to it, such that Boggle's refusal to accept it made me angry.

40A: Alan of "Betsy's Wedding" (Alda) - If it's Alan _____ in four letters, it's ALDA, so why not throw down the most ridiculous piece of work on his CV? Oh, maybe Alan _____ in four letters could be LADD. But I don't think their careers overlap, so distinguishing between them shouldn't be too difficult.

13A: W.W. II conference site (Yalta) - I had MALTA. You'd think I'd know the difference by now.

2D: Sounded content (aahed) - While I recognize this as a marginally valid word, nothing can change the fact that this "word" looks stupid when written out. The only words I care to see in the grid that begin AA are AARDVARK and A.A. MILNE. I will say, though, that the constructor makes a valiant effort at redeeming this "word" by including a version of its counterpart on the other side of the grid: OOH (59D: "La-la" preceder).

In parting, allow me to share my miscues (in addition to the MALTA/YALTA confusion):

  • 21A: Comforting words ("It's OK") - I had "I CARE" for a while
  • 10A: In (hot) - I had HIP
  • 52D: _____ fixe (prix) - I had ID√ČE
  • 44D: Mourning of the N.B.A. (Alonzo) - spelled it with an "S," causing me to make my next error:
  • 62A: Skyrockets (zooms) - I had SOARS

I'll end by saying something nice - BERET has never been clued better than it was today: 63A: Prince's "Raspberry _____".

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


barrywep 11:22 PM  

Actually Rex, six long themed answers
in a Tuesday puzzle with a theme that holds together as well as this one does is pretty good IMHO.

I also liked Betsy's Wedding. It's not like he's Olivier. You're talking about a guy who was in "Whispers in the Dark" and "What Women Want."

Linda G 11:53 PM  

Yeah, but he was also in Same Time Next Year, which was my favorite movie for a long time.

Rex, we made the same S for Z error, resulting in SOARS for ZOOMS. I can't use the great minds line, though, because I thought the puzzle was a good one.

sonofdad 12:01 AM  

I used to play online Scrabble like a maniac (until I realized that I was spending way too much time on that game, that many people who play use an online anagram maker, and that most people quit when they're losing), and I remember getting very pissed off when someone won a challenge of my ADE. The Scrabble dictionary (which is the same dictionary that online Boggle uses) is such a crock, though. It includes BS two-letter words like "mo" and "wo" and "ag" but not legit two-letter words like "gi." Also they accept "ka," which is some obscure word from Egyptian religion, but not the much more common "qi," a variant of "chi." It also rejects some legitimate scientific words, which really bothered me.

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

I actually thought I must have something wrong when I had ___SHIT for 42. Gotta be SHOT (I thought), but...no...no Roman numeral O...Also wrote IDEE first for 52D. (Thanks, btw, to Profphil for yesterday's explanation of "sur le qui vive." "Long live who, now? Careful how you answer!")
I agree that this was an easy (and fairly unremarkable) puzzle. NONETHELESS, ALONZO Mourning is completely unknown to me. I wrote PRADA instead of PRADO (oops!). I first had SOARS, then BOOMS for 62A (Skyrockets). (Not so sure how ZOOMS works here.) Had to guess at the L in the ALVA ALERO cross. And Raspberry BERET was a real stab in the dark as well. And before that SE corner was filled in, MUDPACK somehow seemed much more likely than MUDBATH for 47A, although I thought of the latter first.
In short, when I was "finished," I had ALANBO in place of ALONZO. And here it is, only Tuesday. Oy.

Anonymous 12:55 AM  


I agree with most of your rant as to the arbritariness of word-game dictionaries but take exception to your abuse of "ka." That is a word that has stuck with me since third grade when I first learned in depth (for third grade and probably with my best teacher) about ancient Egypt. I know it's not common usage but it's a word that has special meaning for me.

Orange 8:08 AM  

Zo Mourning is noteworthy for having left the NBA to get a kidney transplant...and then returning to the league with his new kidney and winning a championship.

ScottK 9:01 AM  

So why does such a mediocre puzzle lead us to so many miscues (or MISHITS?)

As for me, I was too clever by more than half by filling in MEND for 39D (give a "darn" -- get it?) and thus trying to convince myself that MESHIT was a common tennis expletive.

For 33d I already had the o from OBOES so I was certain the answer was TOP SECRET. So that could only mean that 43A was REST AN EYE ON. Took several minutes to recover from the resulting mess.

Orange 9:22 AM  

Actually, Rex's opinion of this theme is more negative than some other people's. Linda liked it, I liked it, some of my readers liked it. Packing 63 theme squares into a grid is an accomplishment—though if you just plain don't care for the theme, it means little.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

I also worked the puzzle in the --shit direction. Certainly wouldn't pass the breakfast table test.

Rex Parker 9:31 AM  

Criminy, you find a puzzle "unremarkable" and people act like you've attacked it. I challenge everyone praising this puzzle to look at the last batch of Tuesdays and tell me this one is superior. Last Tuesday's was the DO-RE-MI one - better by far; before that, SKIN / BONE / FAT / MUSCLE - better by some; before that, Keller's FULL / NEW / HALF "Phases of the Moon" puzzle - again, better by some. ETC! You can praise the puzzle all day long, but it doesn't stand up to comparison with even average Tuesday puzzles, let alone the best we've seen this year.


Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Rex, as far as I'm concerned, the best thing about today's puzzle is your photo of the AARDVARK! He'd look really HIP in a Raspberry BERET (but you'd have to cut earholes). Dull puzzle, fun blog.

Scott, I also had MEND (I even starred the cluing as very clever) and the resultant ME SHIT....

The above mistake, along with TRA la la, caused gridlock (gnar!) and much gnashing of teeth, so I gave up in disgust, and instead of torturing myself, just moved on to the blog.

barrywep 10:44 AM  

The Tuesdays you mentioned were three and four theme entry puzzles while this one had six plus the dead center key BAR. As a feat of construction this one is vastly superior.

the DOREMI puzzle was fun but way too easy.

The SKIN/BONE and Moon phases puzzles left me cold.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Rock Rabbit,
When I have a stretch of clumsiness at ball sports, I usually comment, "I suck." Now I'll have a new one: "Me shit."

ClaudiaS 11:11 AM  

and the miscues can continue. After Alonso and soars, one can keep on with an error-ridden path, with 54D - "Home ___" in AM (instead of home in ON) and that produces 65A "that wasn't good!" OH MY! or OH ME! but then you get MERY or MERE for staff note. OUCH!

Norrin2 11:50 AM  

I made the exact same mistakes -- I mean mishits -- you made and NYLON at 1D instead of LYCRA.
And as far as AA words go, I bet the Boggle dictionary would accept aardwolf too.

Orange 11:52 AM  

Well, Rex, you did pop over to my blog to essentially tell the people who liked the puzzle that it was undistinguished, despite the hefty thematic elements. So I figured I'd return the favor. Blog war! Blog war! Bam! Pow!

Rex Parker 12:10 PM  

"Hefty thematic elements" DO NOT MAKE A GOOD PUZZLE. Extra mediocrity is still mediocrity. I don't do the puzzle so that I can say "wow, look at all the theme elements." If you've got three or four that zing, that beats 6 or 10 or 104 that don't.

I have no problem with a Blog War. If I'm going to go out, it may as well be in a Blaze of Glory.

Actually, I'm pretty tired of all things "war." So I pre-emptively concede.


Eric Selje 12:13 PM  

Funny, I've never heard "Home in on," only "Hone in on." I wonder if that's a regional thing.

At the same time, I don't know how "IMIT" means "Not Orig." Is that like ibid in a citation?

Eric Selje 12:15 PM  

Also, after Charttopper and Bellbottoms I thought the theme was "Word with double sets of double letters."

Orange 12:36 PM  

The linguists at Language Log have written a number of posts on "hone in on" vs. "home in on." Language Log's always a good read.

Eric, you don't buy imit. cheese, just the real stuff? (Clunky abbrev. for a crossword.)

Rex, I liked the theme entries. Not much else in the fill that I admired, but I liked the theme. I suspect the inconsistent structure (e.g., the "bar" words and phrases used "bar" in very different ways, rather than all, say, "bar X is a kind of X") bothered some people; sometimes it bugs me, but this time it didn't. Maybe I just like hopscotch and barhopping too much.

Campesite 12:38 PM  

I'm more familiar with 'hone' than 'home' as well, but it does show up in the puzzle once in awhile.
As for the 'not orig.' clue, first four letters of imitation (not original) are 'imit.'
I thought the same thing with Charttopper and Bellbottoms too.

Howard B 12:51 PM  

Chris - although it won't help with your online gaming, QI (and KI) are additions to the fourth-edition (latest) Scrabble dictionary. Unfortunately, they also added 'ZA' (slang for pizza?!?) as a legit word, which I don't think I've heard anywhere; maybe it's a regionalism or new slang that I'm out of the loop on.

Disclaimer - I am not an expert Scrabble player. This is info from a casual game session played at a local diner, while dumpster-diving through the dictionary between turns.

Oh, just got back from vacation, so can't even remember the Times puzzle to comment on it. I think I was still on mental vacation, but apparently I solved it last night.

C zar 1:03 PM  

IMOO... ADE is a suffix and should be clued as such. Did anyone ever say, "Hey Sven, get me an ade out of the fridge while you're in there"? No, because the answer would be "But Ole, do ya' want the lemonade or the gatorade?" PLUGOLA sounds like a disease of the large intestine, as in "I needed a colonoscopy to take care of that plugola."

Linda G 1:05 PM  

Orange, I enjoyed hopscotch and barhopping in my younger days. Now I'm more into mudbaths.

I can't believe nobody mentioned Timothy Leary. Maybe most readers don't remember, "Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out" or that his ashes were sent into space.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

I thought the theme had to do with bottoms and top: bell bottoms chart top per. I actually had chart ____ and filled in topper only after I got bell bottoms.

Orange 1:54 PM  

Next year at the ACPT, we should have a party with a punchbowl full of ade. Wait, can ade be served in a punchbowl? Or do we need ewers of ade? Either way, it had better be spiked. Can we serve sangria and call it ade?

Rex Parker 1:55 PM  

I had blogged LEARY recently, so didn't feel him worth comment today.

Welcome back from wherever it is you went, C Zar.


Rex Parker 2:00 PM  

At next year's ACPT, we could serve ADE from EWERS at the end of our first annual ACPT Crosswordese Scavenger Hunt. I love the idea of teams of people heading out into the city to find OLEO and Stephen REA. It can't be that hard to get an ANOA into Brooklyn, can it?

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

I don't think an anoa would survive long in Brooklyn.

Howard B 3:11 PM  

Looks like someone volunteered to bring the (spiked) Orangeade.

Maybe you can bring some... hmm... Rice chEX PARty mix and a KEg of beeR. I dunno, that's the best I can come up with right now.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

I wonder if an EPEE grows in Brooklyn?

Eric Selje 3:53 PM  

Ohhh, IMITation. Got it. We Wisconsinites have never heard of imitation cheese (Velveeta?). I'll see if I can home in on some of that. Cheese and crackers (my favorite Caribbean expression), that still sounds weird to me!

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

Linda G, since you asked...
I attended a so-called debate between Timothy Leary and the head honcho of the Moral Majority in Washington state--ca.1980. This occurred at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. The organizer evidently thought it would make for a lively exchange, but it was just stupid. Like two 12-year-olds exchanging insults in the schoolyard.
Other than that, I can't see the name Timothy Leary without thinking of the song Manchester, England (from Hair):
Now that I've dropped out,
Why is life dreary dreary?
Answer my weary query,
Timothy Leary, dearie.
That and his ashes out in outer space. Far out.

Anonymous 6:41 PM  

what the hell is a plugola??!
this should be a crossword rule:
no puzzle that has one answer as "aahed" can try to link ola to plug. -- nunyo.

Orange 7:30 PM  

Payola and plugola both involve radio stations pocketing money or goods (e.g., free CDs or concert tickets) and airing material favorable to the payor without disclosing the tit-for-tat arrangement. As I understand it, payola is a radio station playing a song because the record label paid them to do so, whereas plugola is maybe more along the lines of talking something up (a new artist, an album, a product) because they've been paid off.

Rex Parker 7:51 PM  

Gee Amy, how do you know so much about PLUGOLA ...?

[blog war, blog war!]

Anonymous 8:06 PM  

Isn't it a violation of the Geneva blog convention to wave a white flag then jump up and shout, "fooled ya!"?

Anonymous 8:19 PM  

Well, before today I had never heard the expression "hone in on", only "home in on". So I went to the link that Orange provided in one of her comments at this blog and I was amazed! It would seem that a whole lot of "honing in on" is going on, although it seems to be corruption of "homing in on". Still, IMOO, "hone in on" is just plain wrong. "Home" as used in this phrase refers to a designated target such as a landing site or a vulnerable spot on a prey or another person's "wavelength" etc. and "hone" just doesn't have that meaning. Apparently people have heard the original expression without really knowing what it alluded to but, having a contextual understanding of its import, used it themselves and simply mispronounced "home" as "hone". And, now "hone" is ubiquitous! The ears are winning!

Oh, enough!
Signed, Jo

barrywep 8:26 PM  

Rex just seems to have been in a bad mood today. Must be the prospect of having to actually do work.

DONALD 8:48 PM  

Rex is just fine, leave him alone! What a witches brew of comments!

Orange 9:08 PM  

Ooh, Rex, look at you and your preemptive strike! Just so you know, Mr. "Parker" (is that a paid plug for Parker Bros. board games?), I haven't yet gotten any review copies of Sterling books. I do tend to like their paper stock and binding better than those of St. Martin's NYT puzzle books, but St. Martin's is the company that sent me a check for writing a book for them. And I like to think I'm reasonably fair and objective—I know you'll call bullshit if you think it's warranted. But hey, when newspapers review books they've received free galleys of, do you consider the book reviews to be plugola or book reviews?

Anonymous 9:08 PM  

I shall be happy to bring spiking ingredients for the ACPT ADE. Seems we could all use a touch.

DONALD 9:25 PM  

Amy Orange Fiend Reynaldo

Just give us our free copies!

Anonymous 10:13 PM  

linda g -- particularly prescient!!! have you seen wednesday's puzzle?!



Anonymous 10:19 PM  

Howard b, we always went out for ZAS back in college (twenty years ago). Yeah, give me a slice of za.

Anonymous 11:32 PM  

I agree with Jo. If you stop for a second to think about it, one makes sense (home in on), the other doesn't.
And to Janie and Linda G...Ha! Isn't that something!
Manchester, England England
Across the Atlantic Sea
And I'm a genius genius...

Linda G 11:49 PM  

Just did the Wednesday puzzle. That's pretty amazing. Must go blog it!

And I'm a genius genius...

Unknown 8:32 AM  

Well Linda, prescient anyway.

Howard B 9:53 AM  

Thanks Karen, nobody in the group I was with was familiar with it, in their experience. Wasn't sure if it was 'in the language', or just a good reason to put in a 2-letter Z word ;).
I'll have one pepperoni slice, please.

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