TUESDAY, Dec. 16, 2008 - Gail Grabowski (Mixologist's workplace / Military flotilla / Org. slogan "In Service for the Girls of the World")

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: COMPUTER COMPANY (64A: What the ends of 17-, 27- and 48-Across each represent) - theme answers are phrases that end with DELL, GATEWAY, and APPLE, respectively

Not much to say about this at all. In fact, can't remember a puzzle that moved me this little. One major thing to say: GARDEN GATE ... WAY? ABOOOOOOOOOOOO (15A: "Peek-_____!"). The phrase is GARDEN GATE. GATEWAY should have been used in the phrase GATEWAY DRUG, e.g. [Marijuana, allegedly]. Though that clue's not great, as apparently studies have debunked that idea. At any rate, GATEWAY DRUG would have been an awesome phrase (could have had a nice tie-in with ODS - 66D: Some E.R. cases), but then you'd have had to find a phrase with DELL at the beginning, and since DEL SHANNON has just the one "L," the only DELL I can think of is DELL PUBLISHING ... which doesn't exactly trip off the tongue.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Kindergarten tune, with "The" ("Farmer in the DELL")
  • 27A: Entrance to a botanical display (garden GATEWAY)
  • 48A: Gift that almost killed Snow White (poisoned APPLE)

I call your attention to the following boatload of crappy, common crossword fill:

SLOE, SNERT (44D: Hagar the Horrible's hound), APER, ETO, ABODE, EWER, OGEE, AONE, SRI, ETA, ABIT *and* ATON, ASAP, RTES, OSHA, ELLS, NYSE, etc. Man, that hurts. This puzzle does have a very high number of 3- and 4-letter words, and that puts a constructor in a very difficult position, creativity-wise. But still, GG is a pro, and I expect slightly better.


  • 36A: Standby passenger's salvation (no-show) - I like this phrase a lot. Also like BAD PRESS (10D: Unwanted publicity) and HE-MAN (19D: Charles Atlas, for one).
  • 22A: Some motel prohibitions (pets) - was thinking something much more lurid, like "HOOKERS" ... although I guess technically they are "prohibited" in most places.
  • 21A: Procter & Gamble best seller (Tide) - "best seller"? It's not a book.
  • 25A: Gen. Bradley (Omar) - interesting example of a clue with an abbrev. for an answer that doesn't have one. This happens with Sen. and Gen. in particular.
  • 42A: "Bye Bye Bye" boy band (NSYNC) - "Enjoy"

  • 4D: Military flotilla (armada) - mmm, flotilla. I mean mmm, tortilla. Haven't had breakfast yet. Daughter home with the barfing disease today. Nice. Sorry to mix breakfast and barf there. My bad.
  • 5D: Mixologist's workplace (bar) - "Mixologist" sounds more like a DJ than a bartender. I think Ned Flanders once said he had a "Master's in Mixology." Therefore, you should not call yourself a "Mixologist." You are a bartender. Being a bartender is a very good thing. No need for the faux academic-ese.
  • 8D: "Oh, goody!" ("Hot dog!") - this took me several crosses, as all I could hear is "HOT DAMN!" I like that both the clue and answer are phrases nobody says anymore (except, perhaps, ironically). I think characters in Archie comics say them.
  • 27D: Bouquet _____ (herb bundle) (garni) - I might have learned this from xwords. I forget.
  • 29D: Didn't allow (nixed) - like this. Had the NIX- and blithely wrote in NIXON without even looking at the clue ... damned "Frost/Nixon" movie was clearly running interference in my head, and I got overconfident.

  • 32D: Org. that once used slogan "In Service for the Girls of the World" (YWCA) - That would be a nice slogan for a (straight) male escort, too.
  • 54D: When Hamlet dies (Act V) - so ACTI, ACTII, ACTIII, ACTIV, and ACTV are all valid crossword answers? OK. Just checking.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS - Syndicated solvers - just so you don't have to miss out entirely on the Inauguration-related puzzle festivities, here is one you might enjoy - it's too ... pointed for any major daily to want to run, but as a piece of puzzle construction, it's really great.



Doug 8:50 AM  

Do you know that "the ITSYBITSYSPIDER" and "GARDENARCHWAY" both fit perfectly into those first two long theme answers? When I started the downs I was sad to see I was so wrong.

I work in the supermarket research business and TIDE is definitely a "best seller" in our world. If anyone asks, I'll gladly supply the answer to "the all time best seller in all supermarkets worldwide." Please supply your guesses!

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

@rex: thanks for writing down the list of worn out answers so I didn't have to. I marked up my puzzle with them. I also included the dreaded (Lox) Holder clue.

All I can say about this puzzle is expressed at 62D: ONCE is enough!

Doug 9:24 AM  

Jello? It has to be jello -- the all time best selling supermarket item?

Dull, easy puzzle, even for a yo-yo solver like me. I liked the fact that the lone X was dead center. And lots of Bs.

archaeoprof 9:48 AM  

@Rex: hope your little one is feeling better soon.

After getting DELL and GATEWAY, I briefly wondered if the next theme answer was going to include the letter sequence IBM.

But that's not really possible, is it.

Unknown 9:48 AM  

Many regular solvers generally yawn over Mon. Tues puzzles thinking they're too easy or bland. Some get their kicks from trying to solve them in record time. Breeze through it in 5 minutes and it's over. But for those who, like me, like to get a struggle from their puzzles, try doing the Mon/Tues using only the across (or just down) clues. Maybe lots of you do this but I started doing this awhile ago and find it amusing. I do end up solving most (but not all) that way but often struggle-which is why many of us do them in the first place. If you haven't tried it, go grab an oldie from Will's Calendar and give it a shot.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Enough with the apers!! Can we please get rid of them ASAP???? I liked the theme--easy as it was--but so much icky fill is annoying and uncreative.

HudsonHawk 10:15 AM  

Hamlet dies??? Should have had a SPOILER ALERT with that clue...

Doug 10:16 AM  

The answer is ... Bananas are typically the best selling item in supermarkets in the G8 countries, followed by a protein like chicken breasts. 2% milk is usually the best selling packaged grocery item in the US. Of nationally branded products, Coca Cola is typically at the top, followed by things like TIDE, Kraft Dinner and whatever brand of toilet paper is on sale.

Jeffrey 10:16 AM  

Snow White doesn't die??? Another spoiler warning needed.

Two promising theme answers - FARMER IN THE DELL and POISONED APPLE and then the puzzle fizzles on the unreal GARDEN GATEWAY.

I have a DELL.

Coca-Cola, Doug?

Bye, Bye, Bye!

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Kind of a snoozer, but a personal best time-wise! Went through the acrosses, then zipped through the downs and done before I knew it!

Working in the restaurant business, "mixologist" was a gimme. An annoying, pretentious gimme. Just this week someone described a wine as having the flavor of shoe leather. Times are hard, people, but have we started eating our Thom McAns?

ArtLvr 10:27 AM  

I suppose APER/SPAT could have been Acer crossing Scat, but the real problem lies in the finite number of short words fit for Mon.-Tues. ease. Otherwise you get an ELUL and gripes from the reverse view: too obscure...

Ditto with the clues: you go with "Do ME A favor" or a Latin tag "MEA culpa", for example. So tricky to please everyone all the time! We should merely try to appreciate fresh themes in early week's works?


ArtLvr 10:32 AM  

p.s. thanks to Doug for interesting tidbits on most popular foods, etc. HOTDOG!

chefbea 10:34 AM  

After getting farmer in the dell and poisoned apple I knew it was computer related and wondered what other children's story or song had the name of a computer. I had garden walkway for awhile then changed it to pathway.

I agree... aper two days in a row is not fun.

Loved the bouquet garni - it added flavor to the puzzle.

miguel 10:36 AM  

Risk: High
Reward: Low

I can't really complain much because I am happy to spend the time doing the daily crossword. I appreciate the constructors and the editor. What I can say, if I were to try to teach someone how to tackle a NYT puzzle, this one has a lot of the things you need to know. Seldom will you find so much basic fill in one place, however.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

@Ken: I too like to savor my early week puzzles instead of attempting a new land speed record. But I have a slightly different approach from you. I avoid looking at the clues for any long answers, say over nine letters. The answer almost always reveals itself as you complete the fill. And then the challenge is to guess/predict the clue. When you nail one exactly, it's a real eureka moment.

dk 10:57 AM  

My fellow solvers,

Garni was the new word for me. The rest I just got. The early week puzzles help me remember puzzle-ease like the oft maligned APER or the chair and Rubik guy. I used to time myself but stopped after I consistently finished in under 10 minutes.

What I am sensing/projecting in this blog and elsewhere is a general low level holiday funk.

I urge all of us to do what we can to put that funk in the little trash can. Last night I went to a irreverent Holiday Performance and my lovely wife and I mused it helped us forget our woes that are piling up like garbage in a NYC cartage strike.

Perhaps we could start here? And, inject some fun into all our comments. I promise I will not use bad jokes or beets as my platform (my xmas gift to Rex).

In closing, today is a good day for shoes and we should all rethink our opinion of Emelda Marcos now the she has amassed the shoe deterrent.

SethG 11:04 AM  

Shoes? I'm on it.

Just yesterday some unknown sense told me that Teri GARR would surely be next. And I had a feeling that WHY ME? would reappear soon.

Rex, I must object to your characterization of SNERT as crappy. I'd replace it with KENO on your list.

Hey, if we changed ALOE and USE to football players ALGE and USI, we could have easily had TREOS below COMPUTER. Kinda like putting STRAW below the FARMER. Jazz hands!

Shamik 11:27 AM  

@HudsonHawk and Crosscan: I truly did LOL loudly at the spoiler warnings!

Easy puzzle. Despite having two of the theme answers, it wasn't 'til 64A that I went DOH! Kept looking for fruit. Must be the diet I'm on.

Actually was involved in going to an N'Sync concert with my niece who was entranced with them at the time. Truth to say, it was a very entertaining evening.

As for the Nixon/Frost movie...the trailer has whetted my appetite! Thanks!

chefbea 11:45 AM  

@dk To cheer you up I will make a bouquet garni to put in your Xmas stocking - or shoe

Rex Parker 12:13 PM  

@dk, I know you mean well, but when I want a diagnosis, I'll pay someone for it.

I absolutely discourage manufactured "fun" comments. Be yourselves. If you are gloomy, happy, homicidal, whatever, don't let anyone tell you to be different. I got that "why can't you be happier / less cynical / less critical?" comment a lot when I was a kid. And look what happened.

I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say there is a lovely Christmas puzzle in your future.


Rex Parker 12:16 PM  

@Seth, you are, of course, correct about SNERT, in that I love that dog's name ... what I meant was that SNERT is supercalifragilisticrosswordtastic fill. Very much like OGEE. But yes, a hell of a lot more lovable.


Greene 12:17 PM  

There was a puzzle editor named Will,
Who knew of a blog that was shrill.
Said he, "Hey, you bloggers;
you crankly old codgers.
It's Tuesday, so shut up and chill.

I too was going to gripe about various stuff, but I'm with dk on this one. The week will get better and the puzzles will get better, so let's have us a funkless holiday season. And look, no theatre commentary. Merry Christmas Rex!

Rex Parker 12:20 PM  

Merry Xmas to you, too, Greene. I like your poem, in that it was far more assholish than anything anyone had yet written today, and so does nothing to (phonily) manufacture cheer. Plus "crankly" is a good word. And who needs close quotations?


Anonymous 12:27 PM  

In the new Mickey Mouse clubhouse on the Disney channel, Mickey's catch-phrase is "Hot Dog!".
I'll be honest with you, I've never heard of a hot dog being used as an expletive and so every time I hear Mickey saying it I can't help but thinking he feels hungry.... that, or he thinks Pluto looks real nice.

SethG 12:28 PM  

Oh yeah, I only objected to to the "crappy" part. Definitely common and tired fill, it's just a great name. I hope to one day name my own comic dog SNERT.

Sorry, didn't mean to be intrinsically provocative. Bah!

jeff in chicago 12:31 PM  

@Doug: the voting window was only open for 90 minutes! Crap! I wanted to vote. But I would have been wrong. I was going to go with Wonder Bread. (Bananas? I did NOT see that coming. hee hee)

In the "irreverent holiday performance" category, I recommend seeing "The Santaland Diaries" if it is being done near you. My kind of holiday cheer.

Rex Parker 12:37 PM  

Seth, why are you apologizing?

In the much more reverent holiday performance category, I recommend seeing "Holiday Affair," with a young Janet Leigh and an always awesome Robert Mitchum. Their "affair" is not the hot kind that both Leigh and Mitchum have in other films, but the movie is an excellent little holiday diversion (a comedy/romance). One challenge: you have to believe that Robert Mitchum would ever, ever get a job selling toy trains in a department store. Once you're over that hurdle, it's smooth sailing. Oh, and Harry Morgan (of "M*A*S*H fame) does a nice turn as a "Night Court"-esque grumpy judge.


dk 12:45 PM  

Errr, my idea was not to phonily manufacture cheer/fun. It was to find the fun in shoes, being crankly or garni in shoes (I have some sneakers that could use it).

My muse (e.g. Calliope) was not any oath I took as a therapist it was the simple joy of an xmas pagent.

My lovely wife accuses me of being mushy around the holidays as I want to make up for being "grinch-like" the rest of the year. So as we say in my house "sorry if some got on your shoes."

Lastly, Rex we can discuss your childhood and the attendant admonitions at some Mixologist's workplace where I can assure I will not be drinking the cheap stuff :):)

hmmm perhaps a HOTDOG for lunch?

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Aw, I liked this puzzle. I thought it was a solid Tuesday puzzle, that I got done fairly quickly.

I still have trouble telling apart N'Sync from New Kids on the Block. I believe the latter is on their reunion tour.

I guessed on Coca Cola for Doug's question. Bananas? Wow.

Bouquet garni was in two cookbooks I was using recently. Personally I'm going to throw the herbs into the stew pot and not worry about fishing them out afterwards.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

I understand the difficulty increases as the week progresses – still Tuesday easy can still have some inspiration. Make all the theme answers kid related or some other additional twist. The clues/answers don’t have to be anymore difficult to decipher just cuter when you get them. I’ve seen it done. It transcends. Any puzzle that has ETA crossing ETO does not transcend. Do like the X in the middle.
These short days positively sap my energy. Add to that our zero degrees Fahrenheit forecast and simply getting out of bed seems like drudgery. I think I have not quite evolved out of the hibernation instinct. I’ll get up in March. Just 5 days ‘til the third rock rounds the corner though, and then in 3 days the sun will rise again!
I think I can I think I can I think I can….

Rex Parker 1:18 PM  


If you're buying, then yes. I don't eat hot dogs. Gin, vodka, scotch, whiskey, bourbon - all good.


Anonymous 1:20 PM  

@Steve in Boston - as a retailer of beverage alcohol - I likes me the wine - I can tell you that I actually put a premium on wines with hints of shoe leather. I also look for aroma of dust after a rain, barnyard, earth and even petroleum! All that before I even give it a sip! Now when you hear someone trying to describe the wines "shoulders" you know you've got a geek on your hands.

mac 1:22 PM  

A listless Monday for me..... couldn't believe that "aper" showed up again. I agree, no-show and bad press are nice, but I never heard Hot Dog used this way.I was cheered up by the NSync clip, made me think of my all-time favorite, the Chinese boys lip-sync-ing (sp?) "That a way" or something like that. I think I still have it on my "favorites" list, need to see it once in a while to have a good laugh.

@Doug, what, not OREO's?

@Archaeoprof: how about crib-mate?

@Greene: I miss my almost daily dose of theatre commentary!

@Rex: I love my Blackberry, so convenient to be able to read emails anywhere!

treedweller 2:43 PM  

I think this must have been what it is like to be and Orange-level solver for me, only slower. Being in an acutely OSHA-aware industry, I saw 1A and was off, barely even slowing down till I reached the last square. GARDENGATE stretching out with that WAY gave me pause, but by then it couldn't have been anything else. I had to wait for a couple of crosses to get RAGON and VETTE, and in my haste I almost left scar where SCAB should be, but in the end I finished with perhaps my fastest Tue. ever, and topped my time from a lot of Mondays.

Maybe it wasn't all that memorable, but this had nothing to make me cranky. I even enjoyed finding TREE in there, and FARNERINTHEDELL was fun even before I saw the theme. Also, since I'm a bit ill and knew I wasn't working today (but not so ill as to be completely miserable), I stayed up way too late and pulled all of it off at an ungodly hour. What's not to be upbeat about?

Vega 2:54 PM  

Yep yep yep, easy Tuesday puzzle for me. I must be getting better! The best part about today's puzzle was how quickly I could finish it. But my new niece arrived yesterday, woo-hoo! To my brother, whose name is SRI. Crossword fame, woo-hoo! Count me in for the gin, vodka, scotch, whiskey, bourbon, and wine fest.


Anonymous 3:41 PM  

Bourbon and Scotch are both whiskeys.

The Mixologist

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

27D - Bouquet GARNI? When we ski in Austria, we usually stay in a PENSION GARNI - which means breakfast comes with your room, I think. (Some things are very hard to reseach even with Google!)

Bob Kerfuffle

Glitch 5:48 PM  

@treedweller [among a similar few]

Nice post, generaly on topic with a bit of personal / human interest and a touch or refrence to others.

Refreshing --- Rex should be proud

@mac re: blackbury(sic)

When beepers first came out, and 24/7 became possible, our running joke was "can I borrow the dead battery tonight"?

I check my email twice a day, I convinced Verizon to disable the voice mail box on my cell, and my PDA is a dead tree based system from Daytimers that I have used since 1963.

I have a full life, a successful consulting business, and have yet to miss an important meeting.

... and only use acrosslite when the news delivery guy is late.

Doug 7:21 PM  

Why bananas are such good sellers: Cheap, super healthy and packaged in biodegradable wrapping! Wonder Bread, Oreos etc. all are big selling, but they have lots of competitors in their categories so their share is fragmented, whereas bananas are the lone item in their category.

Fun fact that many of you might not appreciate: The reason bananas generally look so perfect is that they are shipped hard and green to your favorite store's fresh food warehouse, where they get gassed until perfect. Gassed, that's gross?! No, it's perfectly natural and the same gas that fruit like kiwis produce. Put a kiwifruit in a bag with a green banana and watch it ripen.

OK, enough non-NYT blather. Could have been about beets, so no complaints, eh.

Anonymous 8:15 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: when I ski in Austria or anywhere else I try not to hit a tree

@Doug: "bananas are the lone item in their category." What? There is fruit and there is "banana?"

mac 8:25 PM  

Good for you, Mr. Glitch, but I am always very happy when I get either a message or an email when I'm wandering around a busy, noisy city where I don't even hear my phone ring, or when I'm staying with a relative who doesn't have a computer in the house. Some of us even do the puzzle on it!

@joho: there is definitely a difference. When you are in a tropical country, you are often advised just to eat bananas, and not any peeled and cut other fruits. I hope I'll remeber that in the next couple of weeks.... We've stocked up on the Pepto.

Glitch 9:15 AM  


My point exactly ....

See what you're missing?

(Probably not).

Glitch 9:15 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurence Hunt 1:49 PM  

Another Dell starter: Dell Comics!

A lead in to an old crossword standby - Huey, Dewey & Louie, not to mention Little Lulu, Uncle Scrooge, etc.....

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

Rex, thanks again for remembering those of us in syndication. The Almost a Pangram puzzle was hilarious. It made up for an otherwise boring puzzle day.
I'm watching Obama walk through the inaugural parade right now on TV. The crowd is screaming like a bunch of teen-aged girls at an NSync concert. It's awesome.

Kim 9:25 PM  

Thanks for thinking of those of us in syndication land!

Harrison Mooney 1:48 AM  

Regarding HOTDOG being an Archie Comics phrase, Hot Dog is the name of Jughead's beloved pooch. Thus, it is said rather often, but as a direct address, not an exclamation.

Jughead's Pooch. That would have been a much better clue.

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