WEDNESDAY, Dec. 12, 2007 - Daniel Kantor

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: A GOOD DEAL (60A: What 17-, 25-, 36- or 50-Across is)

I have an exam to give in 67 minutes, so this will be very short (really, this time, it will). The theme is cute and satisfactory.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: 21 in two cards (blackjack)
  • 25: Happy hour offering, maybe (two for one)
  • 36A: C.E.O. protector (golden parachute)
  • 50A: Huge amount (bajillion)

Notably, the phrase A GOOD DEAL applies in a different way to each of these answers. Nice. However, never in a BIJILLION years would I have spelled BAJILLION with an "A." I'm sure it has authority - it just looks painfully wrong. I have an eerie feeling I've made this complaint before ...

My time on this puzzle was mediocre - I think I was meandering somewhat aimlessly through the grid. I'd just gotten back from prison and it was late and I was winding down ... is that a good excuse? I had most of my problems in the N and NW where THEMA (4A: Discourse topic) killed me. Who uses this and when? When!? And, more importantly, in what country? I was very confused when I had ERK for 8D: Neighbor of Mo. (Ark.). Moreover, OCA (21A: Andean tuber) is - well, if not entirely new to me, nearly so. That's some forced fill right there. Got HAD (1A: Snookered) and OBI (14A: Butterfly _____ (sash)) in the NW, and then DIAL IN (3D: Try to reach a talk show, say) going down, but NALA (20A: "The Lion King" queen), ugh. Forgot her name completely. Never having seen "The Lion King" didn't help. And then O-RING (23A: Circular seal). Double ugh. ABLARE (2D: Loud, like trumpets), which is a perfectly serviceable word, was nowhere to be found. I might have had ABLAZE in there for a while - I honestly can't remember. HOJO (5D: "28 Flavors" chain, for short) was a lucky stab. Then there's SONAR, which simply did not occur to me as an acceptable answer for 15A: Underwater wave generator until the very, very end.

Finally, I leave you with a candidate for ugliest word in the English language: SNELL (66A: Fishhook attachment)

The end.

More ample write-up tomorrow, I promise.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Orange 8:41 AM  

In the Twin Cities, there's a Fort Snelling. They must have awesome snelling parties there.

BIJILLION? No. Jillion's not bi, she's sworn off men completely. I've only seen the *a*illion formation (gazillion, bajillion). And if you type both of those words, they start to look quite strange indeed.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Thought this was more like an easy Tuesday.

I recommend the stage version of "The Lion King" to anyone that has young children or grandchildren.

It's a great production that uses the entire theater, not just the stage.

Alex S. 9:27 AM  

Not being familiar with Lee J. Cobb, Lee Z. Cobb seemed perfectly reasonable in conjunction with BAZILLION, which is much more in my lexicon than BAJILLION.

Otherwise I tore this one up like a Tuesday and then spent two minutes trying to find my mistake. Unfortunately I first focused in on SNELL since it was the only other work in the puzzle I didn't know for sure is actually a word.


Needed IDEA even if it is the same word as IDEE in a different language.

QP 9:52 AM  

I had GAZILLION for ever, rest was easy, even though I never heard of SNELL

FitDitz 9:56 AM  

NE was a doozy for me as I didn't remember Al Kiner, wouldn't know anyone from "Happy Days" besides the Fonz and Opie, and who the hell is "Emo" Philips? I won't even bother to google him/her.

Unknown 10:30 AM  

I thought GOLDEN PARACHUTE was a nice fill. Good to see that in a puzzle and I'm sure there are some great ways to clue that.

Sadly I fell into the BAZILLION trap too - some awkward union of BAJILLION and GAZILLION. Even more sadly I could picture Lee Cobb in "12 Angry Men" but I couldn't picture a middle initial. But surely I could have picked something better than "LEE Z COBB"....

Rex Parker 10:55 AM  

GOLDEN PARACHUTE has been in a puzzle recently, I feel, and so that answer didn't blow my mind as much as it might have.

ODES, ODEA, IDEE are all flat-out crosswordese. Anyone doing puzzles for any length of time (say, a week) will see at least one of these words, I Guarantee it.

Working on The New Pantheon ... more on that later.


PuzzleGirl 11:11 AM  

Hiya, everyone. I haven't been around for a couple days because ... I finally finished the Sunday puzzle. Argh! Started in the Southwest and smoked over to the North Carolina area in record time thinking "Oh my God! This is the easiest puzzle ever!" and promptly came to a screeching halt that lasted three days. I don't want to talk about it any more.

I also had BAZILLION today. And, at first, had CALL IN for DIAL IN. I mean really. Who DIALs any more? (Although I still call Sam Goody at "record store," so maybe I should just shut up.)

@louise: Yeah, don't bother to Google Emo Philips. Several years ago, he was a guest on Letterman and -- this is the only time I've ever seen this happen -- after the first commercial break he was gone. No mention of why or anything. Just gone.

The clue for 62A (Citified) made me laugh for some reason.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

EMO Philips used to show up regularly in crosswords up to about a year ago. For a taste of his brilliant weirdness:

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

Thanks for explaining the state of ERK.
I liked the Holiday drinking sub-thema. If you pour too many two for ones, especially in a den of iniquity, you may be starting a bender.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

When the applet gave me the error message, I had a hard time believing KINER was a real name; ERK. seemed a perfectly normal abbreviation, perhaps for a Canadian town north of Montana or of some SSR north of Mojikistan.

On the other hand, OCA seems like old crosswordese; I liked the ORING clue, it kept me in the dark. ELAYNE tripped me up with her y-ful name

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

A bit confused about pmhendrickson's earlier comment about GOLDENPARACHUTE being nice "fill". I thought fill was the other stuff, not the theme answers. After all this time ya'd think I know the crossword blogosphere lexicon. Help, Prof Phil, clarify!

Loved it when the intruder snarls at Emo Phillips, "Mess with my sister, will ya?" and Emo responds eagerly, albeit naively, "Sure! Where is she?"

Other than misspelling YAY, everything fell pretty easily for me. I did gulp at THEMA, and relied on crosses for correct GOOEY spelling. A clam clue (rather than a caramel one), and I would have had it right away.

Admittedly picky point: Isn't it usually "TWO FOR the price of ONE" rather than TWO FOR ONE? Maybe I should get out more during Happy Hour....

Nice how BLACKJACK follows HITME.

Can't picture a SNELL. Time to hit McGoogle.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Orange, I assure you that we in the Twin Cites do not snell... at least not on the first date.

I sailed through this puzzle so of course I like it.

I had Yah instead of Yay and that made Eyre a bit of a challenge... but then it hit me.

And, I was happy to see Chas Addams again.

mruedas 12:50 PM  

Did anybody else feel it was a bit awkward to have both EAR (Drum site) and TINEAR (Musical inability) in the same puzzle? Or does close to the same not count?

bilbart 1:04 PM  



Unknown 1:04 PM  

Easy Wednesday puzzle,but got caught on bajillion.Had to google Bee Gees'clue.Again this shows my advanced age.

Unknown 1:04 PM  

Easy Wednesday puzzle,but got caught on bajillion.Had to google Bee Gees'clue.Again this shows my advanced age.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Looking back at the grid, I'm not sure why this puzzle took as long as it did. I expect to spend more time on Wednesday, but it was a big jump from single digits to nearly a half hour. Nothing in particular was stumpy and I liked the theme and the fill, with a few exceptions: Chas...all right already; the few crosswordese(s) already mentioned; Donald Trump (send him into exile).

Never heard of oca, but liked that it was in there with Inca. Also liked oring, itssoyou, leejcobb, offramp, photoid.

Jane Eyre was my all-time favorite book as a young girl. I had a turn-of-the-century edition with dark, scary etchings that I read countless times.

Got Nala from Orange's Monday post. Thanks for that! My son was a bit old to want to see The Lion King when it came out, but I watched it later with the daughters of a friend and I was frankly appalled by the violence and hatred portrayed. I know that children's fairy tales are filled with archetypes of evil and with gruesome violence of the Brothers Grimm sort, but is it really necessary to entertain our children with tales of fratricide? Give me Lady and the Tramp any day. And the Brothers Gibb over the Brothers Grimm. *steps off soapbox*

I dropped Noel in for "December air," but I don't quite get the clue. Anybody?

And in Louise's defense, Anonymous, it wasn't Opie per se in Happy Days, but it was an older incarnation of Ron Howard, who I always refer to as Opie. Oh oh... I might have to sing "Gary, Indiana." *steps back up on soapbox and sings*. Plus, your "really rookie" comment seemed unnecessary.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  


air as in a song.

fergus 1:28 PM  

Just saw that it was pointed out that the home run champ was Ralph Kiner. If anyone else was hooked on the board game All-Star Baseball, you'll recall that he had a really big 1 (the arc that corresponded to home run tendency).

As well as hardly anyone DIALing on the phone anymore, I don't think anybody literally hangs up either. I figure that both terms stick around since they bring extra meaning to certain types of telephone calls.

First glance at the clues made me jump to SPOTTER at 46A, but came to realize that starting in the SW is not that good an idea if the intent is to rip through the puzzle. Even if it pointed to the THEMA I got stuck wondering whether it might be A GOOD MEAL or even A GOOD SEAL.

33A Dander for IRE seemed like a stretch. Does the repetition of EAR, like that of the EYE last week, portend another duplication soon? I liked seeing Ewer in the Clue instead of its usual answer place.

fergus 1:35 PM  

... directionally dyslexic like Rex, I meant the SE as a rough place to start.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

RALPH Kiner was the St. Louis slugger, not AL. Kiner had a most unusual stance and stroke...
For some reason, I just ripped through this one like a hot knife thru butter. Loved all the clues, answers, got the unknown NALA from crosses.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

I never doubted that 'bazillion' was correct for 50A, even though 'Lee Z Cobb' sounded a little off. Guess I was thinking of 'gazillion.' Google, our helpful friend and arbiter, gives 448,000 hits for 'bajillion;' 207,000 for 'gazillion;'75,400 for 'bazillion; and 66,200 for 'gajillion' (which was never in the running). A plethora of slangy amounts!

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Ralph (not Al!) Kiner was a remarkabke player. Over the decade he played, he averaged 37 homer per year--Aaron/Bonds-like numbers. For example, he led the major leagues in home runs for six straight seasons, well outpacig such contemporaries as Dimaggio and Mantle. Unfortunately, at age 32, his career was cut short in 1955 by a back injury.

Rikki 1:46 PM  

Urban H... thanks. I've never heard the word air for song. I thought it referenced something like Silver Bells' "in the air there's a feeling of Christmas."

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

I thought it was a nice puzzle for a Wednesday. If it weren't for my spazzing out and writing ORAGN for ORGAN I probably would have done it a bit faster.

I also made the same mistake that the would-be crossword champ did in "Word Play"- I thought I was done when i wasn't and shut off my timer (and came here). Had BAZILLION and couldn't remember LEE J COBB directly (had ID-E) so was going to get back to (what, the California section?) to fill in that last letter (and realize that it was BAJILLION) when I pronounced myself finished.

BTW, my spell checker flagged BAJILLION but not BAZILLION.

Speaking of the California section, did anyone else notice that a fill, BEE, was actually spelled out in one of the clues [36A. Bee Gees' surname]? I thought that it was a definite no-no to have any fill appear anywhere in the clues.

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

I also fell into the bazillion/gajillion trap. And having never heard of lee [anything] coob, both options looked equally odd.

No one one except me really dislike that The Donald is the Realty? Is realty used by itself even a real word. It just seems jarring to me. Isn't he he REAL ESTATE?

Rob G. 4:06 PM  


Can we just skip over adding DSL to the Pantheon and instead just petition that it be removed from puzzles entirely? Yes, I get it, it's a nice three consonant fill, but calling DSL "fast" or "high-speed" (in another recent puzzle) just isn't really accurate anymore.

And before someone responds, yes, I do realize some people still have dial-up. That must be a bummer. Sort of like going to the bathroom outside. (Not including when you go to the bathroom outside by choice, which is also a bummer, but not in the sad sense.)

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

rob g.,

Being a computer guy the "high-speed" clue for DSL makes me wince too.

Anonymous 4:25 PM  

Another vile puzzle for one who likes PUZZLING (i.e. word play, English twists,etc) as opposed to gloating over "look how fast I could fill in all these names!".

ANSON crossing with both KINER and EMO. Plus GIBB and LEEJCOBB both crossing the indeterminent BAJILLION, plus CHAS and ELAYNE in the same quadrant.

Bah humbug! DIdn't even bother guessing letters, just went to Rex to see the answers. Just damn lazy construction to fill with names instead of real words. (IMHO of course :) )

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

I also found this pretty easy for a Wednesday and finished it in around a Tuesday time. I'm old enough to remember LEE J. and changed the Z to J when I checked the grid for the one(or two)error I always seem to make.

Interesting observations on the EAR and BEE answers, is there a written set of firm rules for constructing?

BTW could find the anon. comment that rikki refered to. Did I miss something?

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

that should be "could not" find the anon.

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

THEMA might be a valid clue for Discourse Topics, what with being plural and all, not so much for Discourse Topic as in the clue.

I too am not a big fan of odd names of obscure people playing a large part in a puzzle. So I admint that I just don't give a damn about actually solving it, not knowing which of Emo/Anson, Emu/Ansun (Which, having watched the You Tube clip you could have convinced me was his name) worked.

As I drift off tonight, I will not concern myself that I didn't know Emo Phillips. And I will take a solemn vow never to use the word snell. After this sentence.

Anonymous 5:39 PM  

Rikki: It's probably too late for you to read this, but "noël," French for "Christmas," is also French for "Christmas carol." Used as kind of a generic for carols, whether they are French or not.

Michael Chibnik 7:08 PM  

Very easy puzzle -- but then I like names. I'm not enthusiastic about thema, but erkansas isn't a state as far as I know.

Ralph Kiner's best years were with miserable Pittsburgh Pirate teams, but he is probably better known as a longtime Met announcer.

Alex S. 7:16 PM  

Either Brian Eno or Emo Philips seem to inhabit the puzzle at least once a week. My only problem is forgetting which goes with which. Today the cross made it easy.

Michael 7:20 PM  

I'm glad the puzzle-makers refer to comedian Philips for EMO, who in his day was hysterical... not the music/style reference, which makes no sense to me, 'cause I'm not sure if that means Goth or Grunge or alternative... frankly they all look like Zac Efron wannabes.

Anonymous 7:29 PM  

I am also not a big fan of odd names of obscure people but if the NYT wants to attract new solvers (and Emo Phillips would only get people in their forties)they need to be included.

The average age of the NYT solver is 55. If they wish to continue this beyond Willz tenure updated answers must be included and they must not be obvious or this is not the NYT puzzle.

One of the things I like is that I learn new references (even though my children give me a lot also).

I guess what I am saying is if you want all your answers to come from your teens to your forties do the Chicago Tribune puzzle, otherwise be prepared to learn something new. and learn it from the puzzle or from life. (Oh, harsh!)

Orange 8:04 PM  

LEEJ gets a fair amount of play in crosswords, clued as [Actor Cobb]. That certainly helped cement his middle initial in my head.

A friend of mine still has dial-up service. And she lives in Chicago! She's not in a rural area the phone company can't deliver DSL to. Medieval!

As for the anonymous commenter Rikki responded to, bloggers sometimes do housecleaning to get rid of spam comments, sidelong nasty swipes, and other inappropriate stuff that would get in the way of readers' enjoyment.

Anonymous 8:51 PM  

LEE J. COBB - great actor. Although when I saw DEATH OF A SALESMAN, I saw Dustin Hoffman.

I liked the juxtaposition of HITME and BLACKJACK. In fact, I liked quite a bit of this puzzle, including the "answer" and the multiple meanings of "deal."

I despise the BeeGees' disco phase, but Barry Gibb actually is a pretty good songwriter. Susanna Hoffs and Michael Sweet do an appealing cover of "Run to Me" on their recent UNDER THE COVERS album.

Orange 11:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Orange 11:51 PM  

Bill Nutt, did you see the production in Chicago? I saw Dustin Hoffman as Willy Loman in high school, although I could barely see him from the nosebleed seats.

Anonymous 12:19 AM  

Doris... thanks for the noel. Jae... Rex must have deleted it as Orange indicated. Just someone being unnecessarily snippy, or so it seemed to me.

BillNutt... I have to disagree about the BeeGee's disco period. The era may have been generally devoid of musicality, but I believe the BeeGees wrote the very best of that genre of music. Stayin' Alive! You can't hear it without wanting to dance or walk down the street swinging a can of paint.

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