WEDNESDAY, Jul. 11, 2007 - Patrick Merell

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Sports played in/on the first words in their names

This isn't much of a theme, but man is it ever a great puzzle. It was too easy for a Wednesday, but that's about all I can say against it. Even the off-sounding fill was lively enough to make me enjoy it. I can't write much today as I have been conscripted to do the write-up of the NY Sun puzzle today for Green Genius (which will also be pathetically brief). And so, to the puzzle...

Theme answers

  • 20A: Sport played on the first word of its name (table tennis)
  • 35A: Sport played in the first word of its name (arena football)
  • 51A: Sport played on the first word of its name (field hockey)

So ... not much spice there. But wait:

31D: Pitcher who says "Oh, yeaahh!" (Kool-Aid Man)

"Pitcher," nice fake-out. I didn't know KOOL-AID MAN had a name, I got the gist of the clue off the "K," but I initially wrote in "KOOL-AID JOE" - by the end of the puzzle I had KOOL-AID MIN because I misread 60A: Lead-in to many a chef's name (à la) as [Lead-in to many a CHIEF's name] and in desperation wrote in ALI (thinking maybe it was an Arabic thing). KOOL-AID MAN used to be all over my TV as a kid, usually busting through walls and thrilling / scaring the hell out of young kids whose parties, until that moment, totally sucked. When KOOL-AID MAN showed up, you knew the party would rock - primarily because drinking KOOL-AID is like mainlining sugar, the childhood equivalent of doing speed.

46A: Organized crime (The Mob) - nice use of the definite article in this one

42A: The lion in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (Aslan) - Jesus as feline. We love this book.

48A: "You can come out now" ("It's safe") - I think my wife said this to me the last time she successfully ushered a bat from the house. Originally, I had IT'S GONE.

62A: "Shucks!" ("Pshaw") - I don't think of PSHAW as "Shucks!" In my mind, it's always been more BAH (56D: Cry from Scrooge) than "Shucks!"

34D: Some hikers' targets, for short (QBs) - love the cluing on this one

34A: California's state bird (quail)

We would occasionally see these in our backyard during my childhood. Other weird feature of our backyard - six fig trees.

The iffy but ultimately likable stuff was:

3D: Took a taxi, with "it" (cabbed) - I'm guessing this is the opposite of "hoofed it." Still, never heard this expression (then again, I don't live anywhere where many people use cabs as a regular mode of transportation).

54A: It may get stuck in a movie theater (bubble gum) - great answer, though the lack of an indirect object for "stuck" irks me a bit, if only for reasons of inelegance. The pinkness of BUBBLE GUM goes nicely (colorfully) with the bright red KOOL AID MAN and the neon TETRA (21D: Neon _____ (fish)).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Whais a QB? I thought that to say "uncle" meant to give UP, not just to give?
Didn't learn anything today. Maybe somebody will explain QBS ?

Anonymous 8:51 AM  


Orange 9:13 AM  

"I give" connotes caving in more than "I give up," I think.

We cabbed it to dinner on Saturday and I believe we used the verb in the process.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

I think the NYC got the puzzles mixed up this week. This one should have been Monday - or maybe Tuesday, but I also enjoyed working it.

I had a bit of trouble when I had TREERIPEN instead of VINERIPEN, but PENN and AKIN quickly put me back on track.

I always laugh when EDAM pops up, since I remember hitting this in a puzzle once when the clue was "cheese that's made backwards".

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Oops, that should have been NYT, not NYC.

Michael 12:08 PM  

Cabbed it didn't seem odd to me at all. It is the New York Times puzzle, after all.

It was an easy puzzle, but I got thrown off by "Should that come to pass" and I put down IF THEN not IF EVER but of course, Brigham Young isn't in ProNo.

The one problem I had was the intersection of ASLAN and ABIE. It's been ages since I read Lion, Witch & Wardrobe and I still haven't seen the movie. Or saw that Irish Rose play, which appeared on Broadway, in, of course, New York City.

Like how I came full circle in this comment?

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

I didn't like the IT'S SAFE clue, it seemed too vague. (I had 'it's okay'). I also had down KOOL-AID KID, but figured it on the crosses.

Not having hardly any obscure cultural/pop names (other than ABIE) I think made this puzzle fly by.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Mistake!! They have mixed up Italian and Spanish. "Fontana" is Italian for "fountain," while "fuente" is the Spanish. Therefore, the contents of a "fontana" should be "aqua." "Agua" is Spanish. FYI once again:
Fontana contains aqua.
Fuente contains agua.

They once made a mistake on opera too because they used the wrong reference book. Do not rely on Milton Cross's Complete Stories of the Great Operas. It misspells the name of Rome's Teatro Costanzi, e.g.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

Rex, your description of The Koolaid Man -- and the effect his surprise appearance had on hypoglycemic TV kids -- really cracked me up (crasha banga booma, with a big bright smile and a fun face too, oh yeaaaah)! I can't believe I can still sing it after all these years :)

BTW, thanks Jim in Chicago, for that GREAT Edam clue!

fergus 6:37 PM  

VINERIPEN -- the allure of the crossword puzzle is that it gets you to consider a verb when you initially thought of an adjective.

And to really nitpick, or pettifog, 9D WORSE is too many degrees lower than Not as good. BOP and Conk are fine as synonyms, though.

Anonymous 8:29 PM  

would someone care to explain EEN to me for "poetic darkness"? thanks a ton!

frances 8:47 PM  


I think we're dealing with a contraction of an abbreviation. My read on this is that a poetic word for evening (a time of darkness) might be "eventide" which could be shortened to "even" (in rhetoric, there's a term for using the part to refer to the whole, but I don't know what it is). A common crossword-puzzle clue for "even" (used in any context) is "e'en."

Anonymous 9:28 PM  

Because of the sports theme,I was wondering for which team "Kool Aidman" plays!

Anonymous 10:25 PM  

gotcha, frances...

anyone else besides me have TONKA where TRIKE belongs? TONKA made trucks for kids, didn't they? the first thing that i had on the whole board was KOOLAIDMAN, and with just the K in place, i was positive that i was set for TONKA.

regarding KOOLAIDMAN... one of my best friends in high school (now remember, i'm a college student currently, so this is not long ago), was interested in production. so, he had all sorts of stuff in his basement, and we would record hip-hop-esque songs that we'd write. anyways, one of them had a lyric about "burstin' through the wall like the KOOLAIDMAN, y'all, we'll have you screamin' 'OH YEAH!'". so, i've had that song of ours in my head all day.

another mixup today was WATERRAFTS for RIVERRAFTS ("who is AKE at 15A?"), but VINERIPEN clued me in to my error.

thanks all!

Orange 10:54 PM  

Hey, college-boy Dan—if you go to this Google Groups page, you can sign up to get the Onion A.V. Club and Chicago Reader crosswords via e-mail each week. The Jonesin' crossword, which appears in assorted weekly papers, comes out on Thursdays. They're all perfect for your demographic—they include music, slang, liquor, drug, and sex references that would never pass muster in the daily newspaper crosswords.

Anonymous 2:17 AM  

I liked this puzzle and I agree it was too easy. I finished it faster than I do some Monday puzzles.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

Ah, the California's state bird (QUAIL) ... one of the six states where it is legal to shoot and eat the state bird, at least sometime during the year. I can just hear them singing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me ..."

Waxy in Montreal 10:52 PM  

Yeah, e'en 6 weeks later this is way too easy for a Wednesday.

Maybe it's my geographical location (or my age) but I've never heard of KOOLAID MAN - kept somehow trying to fit Detroit Tiger pitcher Kenny Rogers into 31D.


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