SUNDAY, Jul. 1, 2007 - Nancy Salomon and Bill Zais

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Diamond Jubilee" - circles form a diamond, with HOME, FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD appearing in the circles that correspond to their location on a baseball diamond. Further, there are atrocious baseball puns, symmetrically arranged, in the four corners of the puzzle

This puzzle was great in terms of concept and execution, or would have have been, if not for the horrible baseball punnery. Why did you have to go and mar a perfectly good puzzle? There's such a thing as Trying Too Hard. I'm impressed, in a way, at the symmetricality of everything, but I hate cutesy wordplay like nobody's business, and having so much of it (and none of it very clever) in my Sunday puzzle was unpleasant. It was all the more annoying because, as I've said, the constructors had a very good thing going with the whole "diamond" concept.

Theme (or "base") answers:

At FIRST, we have...

  • 69A: Classic Abbott and Costello bit ("Who's on FIRST")
  • 71D: New in theaters (FIRST run)


  • 26A: Supported (SECONDed)
  • 26D: Peerless (SECOND to none)


  • 66A: Commoners (THIRD Estate)
  • 49D: Precede the cleanup spot (bat THIRD)

And at HOME...

  • 112A: "Get out of here!" ("Go HOME!")
  • 77D: Object of tornado destruction (mobile HOME)

Not sure how I feel about two of those clues being baseball-specific (seems like there should have been four - one for each base - or none). As for the baseball plays-on-words ... well, you know how I feel. Here they are:
  • 22A: Casue of some baseball errors? (field trips)
  • 23A: Texas ballplayer? (park ranger)
  • 116A: Diamond border? (grass skirt)
  • 121A: Complaint about a baseball playing area? (ground beef)
Just to get it out of the way, here's the other stuff in this puzzle I don't like:

102D: Isolate, in a way (enisle) - I know it's a word, but ... it's feeble. The only people I know who have been ENISLED are Napoleon and Ariadne.

Not that thrilled about seeing GRES (112D: Some coll. tests) and SAT (99D: Kind of score) in the grid together. . .

And now the good stuff:

  • 33D: Lack of adornment (bareness)
  • 101A: Painter's subject (nude)

Hurray for nudity in the Sunday puzzle! Which reminds me of another answer I didn't particularly care for: 50A: Hägar creator Browne (Dik). That may seem crass, but at least I didn't add WOOD (95A: Iron alternative) and LENGTHIER (16D: More protracted) to the pile.

The two 10-letter Downs in the NW are spectacular: 2D: Racecar-generated air current (slip stream) and 3D: Temporary residence (pied-à-terre). For entertaining arcana, we have 44A: 1980s Geena Davis sitcom ("Sara") and 14D: Actress Gibbs (Marla). There wasn't too much in the way of obscurity, but there were a few answers that came close, including 21A: Many an Alessandro Scarlatti work (opera seria), 86D: "John Brown's Body" poet (Benet), 36D: Trans-Siberian Railroad city (Omsk), 11D: W.W. I French fighter plane (spad) and 35D: Andy Hardy player, in 1930s-'40s film (Rooney). I have a movie poster featuring ROONEY right behind my desk chair (i.e. right behind me, right now) - he is shouting and threatening to beat me with a gun butt.

In addition to DIK, there were a number of semi-unusual names, like NGAIO (32D: Mystery writer Marsh), KUHN (114D: Former baseball commissioner), LOEW (52D: MGM co-founder) and RHEA (63D: Perlman of "Cheers").

I finished in under 20 minutes, Finally, though I should tack on two 10-second penalties because at one point my wife was looking over my shoulder and suggested that maybe DOVELETTES was NOVELETTES (125A: Longish stories) - had GDP instead of GNP at 116D: Econ. yardstick; wife also later fed me NETS (47D: Takes home) when I balked at it the first time.

Alright, I'm done.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:25 AM  

Nice write-up. Pretty easy Sunday. "Lehrs" at 104A "Glassware ovens" was new to me. Didn't see the need for the hint to check the Notepad.

DONALD 12:28 AM  

Choice Modigliani!

Anonymous 1:43 AM  

This puzzle was made substantially easier by the four extra clues on the notepad.
How come no comment about this being a Rebus puzzle??

Anonymous 2:33 AM  

Being a baseball fan I loved the theme... but am a bit curious about the phrase "ahso"... is this a real word / phrase in any Asian
language? Is it in any way considered offensive to "kiddingly"use it to mean "I see"?

Anonymous 3:30 AM  

"ahso" is from old Charlie Chan movies. Charlie's comment when someone told him something. Anyone mimicking Chan and using it today would be considered a racist "ahso."
Chan was portrayed by a white actor.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  


Probably because it's not a rebus puzzle, but just a puzzle with four single-square word entries.

Karen from the Cape 9:25 AM  

Were we supposed to put F,S,T, and H in the bases? I had 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Home, and the #^& computer wouldn't accept my answer. I'm pretty sure everything else was right.

Dumbest mistake: for 'shot spot', I was sure it meant the shotput circle, or ARC. It took me too long to get MOBILE H

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

I did a little wikipedia-ing and it seems that "ah so" is the name of a type of bottle opener and that "ah so" is a corruption of the German phrase "ach so" meaning "I see"... thanks Paulo... it must have been all those Charlie Chan movies I saw as a kid that made me think that it was a made-up Asian word ... and that is why I incorrectly thought any use of it would be "racist"... political correctness can be so tricky at times...but always wanting to avoid giving offence I think it's worth the time to invsetigate these things... and sometimes learn something in the process!

But then there is company that sells bottles Ah So Chinese Duck Sauce... I'm pretty sure they are twist off & don't think a bottle opener is required...
& with the faux Asian lettering, they are teetering on the edge of political correctness, if they have not in fact crossed it...

Here's the Wikipedia link:

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

To me, a non baseball person, this puzzle was a bore, paling beside Mel Taub. Does anyone know of a site which discusses his puns and anagrams. I know the site does not discuss but the people writing in do.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Many ENISLED people in fiction: Robinson Crusoe, Tom Hanks in Castaway, and of course Gilligan, the Skipper too, a millionaire and his wife,...

I had LEHR and was so convinced it was wrong I rehashed all the crossings. Never heard of it.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Different strokes for different folks, I guess. I like puns, so this puzzle was extra enjoyable. In fact, OPES and SPAD made PARK RANGER a gimme -- and I was off and running (so to speak).

p.s. Karen, try spelling out FIRST, etc. Should take it then

Deschanel 12:37 PM  

Too Much Sports!

I can appreciate a baseball theme, this being summer. But there were also clues/answers about the NFL, NBA, track meets, touchdowns, bowling frames, Dream Team, and racecars.

As if that weren't enough testosterone, lots of clues/answers about war/military: soldier's fare, WWI, "invades", armour, fighter plane, even Vikings kind of doubled with sport, lol.

Hopefully for balance next week will have preponderant themes like show tunes and chick lit, lol.

crossnerd 12:57 PM  

Oooh! That's what SAT meant. Thanks for pointing that out.

And congrats on your time! (DOVELETTES aside.)

Campesite 1:16 PM  

Rex, great riff on nudity in the Sunday puzzle, perhaps GODDESSES in their GRASS SKIRTS will join in.
I thought the construction was clever and the puns didn't bother me, but, as mentioned before, I thought the addition of the notepad was unnecessary.

caraleigh 1:26 PM  

I would have preferred an NBASTAR being clued as someone other than Kobe Bryant.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

There was a discussion on "Ah so" at the NYT Forum a while back. The Charlie Chan character was Chinese, but the "ah so" phrase is Japanese. Here's a link to the Urban Dictionary which explains it.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Twenty minutes? Wow. I got started late in life doing crosswords but I am learning every day. Never heard of a lehr and what I know about sports is nearly zilch. Love your blog.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

Fitzy, my German is miniscule but Ah So does not sound like ICh S/Zay (I see Sp?) it sounds more like Ach Zo/so or Ah So in English or Ah like so. Regardless of its origins it is used as if it is Japanese Ah so ususlly accompanied with a bow and based on a movie character that is offensive to Asians and would never be portrayed this way today. I think it probably should be avoided.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

Rex Rex Rex. Why such a curmudgeon? The puns are precisely what makes puzzles so delightful. There is nothing better than a play on words.

That is all.

Linda G 3:47 PM  

Cara, I'm with you on Kobe Bryant. I know he was found not guilty, but NBASTAR is not the first thing that came to my mind. I didn't go into that on my blog and it's been bothering me ever since. Must develop balls.

Michael 4:24 PM  

I liked the add'l baseball puns in the corners (or left and right field and the visitor and home dugouts, following the diamond theme). GROUND BEEF was very clever, esp. since for some reason I couldn't get that cross-clue, SOMBER. Unsmiling = Sullen? Solemn?

Also, I liked Kobe Bryant, e.g. 'cause I first wrote LA LAKER (egotist probably wasn't right, though accurate) until I realized it was NBA STAR.

My only gripe with this puzzle: What's with all the two WWI refs?

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

I liked the puns - as silly as they were.

The way he has behaved in the last couple of weeks, my first thought for Kobe was CRYBABY. I wouldn't mind at all if the Lakers were to unload him, but they won't. They'll just continue to be a pretty bad team with Kobe and a weak supporting cast. Kobe's right about one thing - they are not the same since Jerry West left as GM. Yeah, I used to be a Laker fan, but not these days.

I've never heard of LEHRS before. I only got that one from the crossings. DIK Browne has shown up in puzzles before, that wasn't anything new.

Overall a pretty easy Sunday puzzle.

Rex Parker 6:09 PM  

I don't like Kobe Bryant at all - grew up a Huge Celtics fan and have congenital hatred of the Lakers; but ... well, Kobe is an NBA STAR, of a considerable magnitude, and he was convicted of nothing, and when large groups of white people decide to hate a black athlete based on little more than negative impressions perpetrated ad nauseam by a desperate media ... yeah, I can't really get behind that. For this reason, perhaps perversely, I love Barry Bonds and Allen Iverson and other insanely talented black athletes that get more press for being "problems" than for their considerable accomplishments.

My perversity for liking said athletes does not extend to O.J., who is guilty as all git out.

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

Seems I found the puzzle a little more difficult for a Sunday than others here.

Still I liked it. When I figured out 'mobile home' got the theme and thought "hey, this is pretty clever."

And lots of fill that I liked including: try me, track meets, stimulants...and I didn't mind the puns.

Anonymous 6:31 PM  

I'm pretty sure "lehr" is German for "oven".

Norrin2 6:53 PM  

I, uh, second what jetflyer said: The puns are what makes it fun.

Anonymous 7:05 PM  

Too many allowances made for this puzzle - I know this was a tough one to construct but give me a break with all those three-letter words, many of them abbrs. Also, Willz has now started accepting 146 words with 77 blocks?


Anonymous 7:23 PM  

Thanks Kratsman & Prof. Phil for the additional info on "ah so"...I agree that it should probably be avoided...

Was also surprised to see crystal METH and LSD in the same puzzle...esp when I also incorrectly had morphINE in there for a while... with baseball being the theme... steroids would, sadly, have been more appropriate to work in somehow...

Orange 9:22 PM  

In the NYT Magazine, the diagonal running-the-bases clues were listed at the end of the clues, labeled as NE, NW, etc.

As for ENISLE, I hereby coin a new word describing a man's placement of his package within a codpiece: PENISLE. Alas, codpieces being less than popular these days, there is little use for this word.

Anonymous 10:07 PM  

Kobe's jersey was the biggest seller of all NBA jerseys in 2007.

Rex, I agree with you about Bonds, Iverson, et al. My best friend pitched in the big leagues for five years in the pill (amphtamine) era and told me that the pills took him from warning track power to 10 rows deep.

I personally think that the steroid era is solely about the hatred of Barry Bonds, 20% because he is a colossal jerk and 80% because he is black. I wonder what percentage of the HOF vote Roger Clemens will get? I am sure that he got faster when he was older and half a million sizes bigger strictly because of his work ethic.

My best friend, who knows these guys and their competitive natures, puts the steroid/human growth, etc. abuse at roughly 80%. To me, it just represents how the game was played in the modern era. For 70 years when the game was at its peak of popularity, many if not most of the best players were excluded.

Steve M

Anonymous 1:43 AM  


I too would like to know where there is some discussion of Mel Taub's Puns and Anagrams puzzle. I really like them and find them very clever.


Anonymous 3:24 PM  

No one commented on the words between the bases:
that's a 1st
steals 2nd
finish 3rd &
stayed home
Or did I miss it?

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

Duh! I didn't even see the Diamond clues...Sorry!

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

Enjoyable (puns and all) and pretty easy though I doubt if I'll ever complete a Sunday puzzle in 20 minutes. BTW, the diamond clues were not in the syndicate version in my paper (San Diego Union-Tribune). There was an odd * in 109a at the T in DETS. Hmm, it might be time for me to join the present and sign up for the online version!

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