MONDAY, Jan. 19, 2009 - Tracey Snyder (1993 Aerosmith hit with the lyric "Love is sweet misery" / Ticket locale)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: CHIPs - (52D: Word that can follow the ends of 17-, 27-, 43- and 57-Across)

Word of the day: LEU - A basic unit of currency in Romania; for the record, the plural is LEI, but for obvious reasons you will never see LEI clued this way

Yep, those are all CHIPs alright. Here's the one thing I don't understand about this puzzle - why the LEU / BAAED crossing didn't cause the constructor to go "Oh, hell no, I can't do that," and start the NE corner over. If LEU (22D: Romanian money) belongs in puzzles at all (and I'm not sure about it), it's as the lone bit of strained fill in an otherwise wonderful Thurs, Fri, Sat, or Sun puzzle. It's a word that you know only if a. you are Romanian, b. you work with international currency professionally, or c. you solve a lot of crosswords / play a lot of Scrabble. It's a valid word, but not here, and certainly not crossing the nearly equally desperate BAAED (25A: Bleated). In a grid almost entirely devoid of Scrabbly letters (no Zs, Qs, Xs, Js, or Vs - and just one "K," in a safe, doubly terminal position), I don't understand accepting LEU / BAAED as final answers. Now, if you needed LEU / BAAED to get, say, DUCKBLIND or WAVFILE, then sure, I'd understand - on another day of the week. Here, no. How about a new CHIP puzzle with, say, V, PAINT, COW, and ICE (or CORN if there are no phrases ending "V"), and this time, no LEI. I should say that BAAED is partially redeemed by the proximity of FLEECE (6D: Sheep's coat).

Theme answers:

  • 17A: "Splendor in the Grass" actress (Natalie Wood)
  • 27A: Telecommuter's need (home computer) - is a laptop a "HOME COMPUTER?"
  • 43A: Drink with a marshmallow (hot chocolate)
  • 57A: Common remote control holder (couch potato) - not sure I understand "common" in this clue. Was there a survey done? Or is "common" a class thing?

I learned what STATORS are from crosswords, which tells you how handy I am with cars (42D: Fixed parts of motors). Here's something I like about this puzzle - the Aerosmith song "CRYIN'" (52A: 1993 Aerosmith hit with the lyric "Love is sweet misery") - especially nice crossing the etymologically related CRI (44D: Dernier _____ (latest fashion)). Or is crossing CRI and "CRYIN'" some kind of violation? Whatever, I enjoyed it. The video for this song was one of a series of Aerosmith videos featuring Alicia Silverstone. Her performances in said videos got her noticed by director Amy Heckerling and subsequently cast as the lead in the (great) movie "Clueless," a mid-90s adaptation of Austen's "Emma" set in a Beverly Hills high school.

A couple of clues I had trouble with - 11D: Ticket locale (speed trap). Does the ticket hang out there on his weekends? Locale? "Locale" and I have issues, generally. Then for some reason I stared at 58D: Long-distance number starter for a several second wondering what it could mean. Is "number" a song? How else can you "start" a "number?" Well, I found out. ONE. A valid answer, assuming your call originates in the U.S.


  • 11A: Used a stool (sat) - I like that "stool" and "pigeon" (from 15A: Pigeon's perch -> LEDGE), are so close to each other in the clues. I also like that you can easily divine the words COCK and BLOCK from the jumble of letters at the center of the puzzle.
  • 35A: Tampa Bay baseballer (Ray) - don't remind me. Actually, I like them. It's about time the AL East had some other contender besides the Red Sox and Yankees.
  • 32D: Adopted son of Claudius (Nero) - I learn all kinds of things about NERO from doing crosswords. Also true of EERO.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of Crossworld


Anonymous 9:01 AM  

OK, I know this is being picky, but I'm just feeling that way this morning. Rex, a stator is the fixed part of an electric motor, so unless you are working an a Prius under the shade tree, it wouldn't be part of a car's motor. Also the one would be a prefix for a call terminating in the US. It is the United States' country code.

Now maybe I will be in a better mood for the rest of the day.

joho 9:06 AM  

I liked this Monday puzzle. Cute theme and not too easy.

@rex: I telecommute on my HOMECOMPUTER which is not a laptop.

Oh, and cow chips? Ewwwww.

treedweller 9:24 AM  

most cars have electric motors in them--starters, for example. But I must admit that, despite a lot of shade-tree mechanicking, I learned STATOR somewhere else (physics, I think, not crosswords).

The puzzle was a typical Monday for me. Similar Monday time, similar Monday attitude of "It's OK."

Kurt 9:49 AM  

I agree with Rex on the BAAED/LEU answers. I didn't find them difficult. I just thought that they were ugly.

Unknown 9:56 AM  

The BAAED clue was needed to get the OBAMA reference in the HOMECOMPUTER section....check it out (connect the letters). Fun puzzle keeping us on out toes until the Inauguration.

Patchen Barss 9:57 AM  

Did anyone have an issue with 49D "Spitting _____________"?

It is my understanding that the correct phrase is "spit and ________" and that this "spitting" variant is a malapropism.

Perhaps, as with so many, this battle was lost long ago.


Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Patchen...actually it was probably malformed from 'spitten image.' Seems like it is too obscure to mean much to anyone.

Patchen Barss 10:30 AM  

Right you are. Here's a bit more on it from

HudsonHawk 10:31 AM  

Not crazy about LEU (eww!), but at least all the crosses were easy. And on the plus side, maybe now I will remember LEU when it's in a tricky Friday or Saturday puzzle with tougher crosses...

I had no problem with Spitting IMAGE. Here's more than you'd ever want to know about the origin:

Chorister 10:37 AM  

The hardest thing about this puzzle wasn't the puzzle. It was me reading BLEATED as BELATED. Several times. Bah.

I always heard it as spittin' image and was surprised the first time I saw it written as spit and image. So, spitting image splits the difference and is fine by me.

I think I'm glad I don't see every little thing in every puzzle - like the connected OBAMA - but I like it that others do, and point it out. Thanks, PhillySolver.

ArtLvr 10:44 AM  

Since my old M-W dictionary says "spit and image" was dialect, I suppose today's would likewise say "spittin' image" is the same. What was "spitten"? Something off the spit, like the kebob/kebab? I can't access OED...

PlantieBea 10:47 AM  

The only letter I had to think about was the I in the CRYIN/CRI cross. I don't know this song--I'm more of the Toys in the Attic Aerosmith generation--and I also haven't ever heard the term Dernier Cri. Apparently my fashion is not up to date. Overall, I liked the puzzle and its references to yummy potato and chocolate chips.

Somehow, cow chips wouldn't fit with the rest of the home comfort theme.

Chip Hilton 10:49 AM  

Careless me. I went with RACE for Indy car and didn't bother checking the down clue. That's what comes with hurrying to post a time.

Got me.

ArtLvr 10:49 AM  
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ArtLvr 10:53 AM  

Okay, I wrote my bit above before seeing the link..... Thanks, Hudson Hawk!

Now, what country uses a Lek? Thought of that before LEU.


Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Lek = Albania. I had that too, but the resulting "PK" was obviously not going anywhere.

ArtLvr 11:01 AM  

Yes, Norm -- Albania... and the plural is Leke!


Leon 11:06 AM  

Happy Birthday Mr. Poe.

Jeffrey 11:14 AM  

One will also enable you to speak to one in Canada. You do need extra postage for your cards, though.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

That was fun, a bit tough for Monday but that's OK by me. I didn't think the 25A/22D crossing was so baad -- how else would you form the past tense of "baa"? True that 22D:LEU is already tough for a Monday puzzle by itself, but the terminal U is forced by a theme answer and there aren't many easy ??U words to work with.

Thanks to Leon for noting 39D:POE's birthday. Is 5D:ELLISON's Invisible Man mentioned in tribute to MLK day?

Also neat: the pairings of 9D:EGO and 63:PSY (with approx. the same clue) and 23A:SEN with 36A:TERM (clued as "Six years, for a 23-Across").


P.$.: I liked Rex's variant signature yesterday. My answer to Rex's question "Is the $ a legal character? It should be" is "Yes, but please try to make it a $ in both directions" (as in DALLA$ or MICRO$OFT) -- recall Ulrich's suggestion to cross "Motley Crüe" with "für".

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

I know the Albanian LEK, but not the Romanian LEU, simply because LEK is a magnificent word used in biology regarding mating behavior observed in certain species of birds, and some other animals.

Once a year, all the males gather in one place and just stand around. All the females then check out the males, and at some point, a decision is made, the females pick the winner, and all of them try to mate with him at once.

Now that's a word to remember!

allan 12:48 PM  

What is wrong with me? I thought this was one of the easier Monday puzzles. Hated baaed, but didn't mind leu. The only problem I had was with 45d. I always thought lech was spelled letch. Aha! Just googled letch and discovered lech is an alternate spelling. I'll stick with the t.

@PhillySolver Are you that gifted that things like that just come to you, or do you really look for them? I thought I had it bad, always reading things backwards, but going in circles? Hats off to you.

ArtLvr 1:07 PM  

On the MLK day today, I have to mention an amazing book by Nick Kotz which came out in 2005. It's called "Judgment Days: LBJ, MLK, and the Laws that Changed America". It shows how King and Lyndon Johnson cooperated almost daily for several years, even though they didn't like each other much. Johnson even told King how to avoid further violence by getting everyone to kneel in face of attackers in the second attempt to march on Selma, though King wasn't sure he could get his followers to do this.

Based on secret FBI wiretaps and other newly available material, it also details how and why LBJ finally turned on King toward the end of his presidency, after passage of the Civil Rights Acts -- getting Hoover to smear King with his infamous personal files. Quite an amazing inside story, complete with photos and key transcripts of their phone calls.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

It's not only the birthday of Edgar Allan POE, but today would be his 200!

I'm glad he got his name in the puzzle, but he got short shrift with just three letters at 39D.

He's a guy that deserved a tribute puzzle. Maybe somebody somewhere did one.

Ulrich 1:19 PM  

@NDE: And Mötley would have to be crossed with Köln, which of course would send me into ecstasy...

Bob Kerfuffle 1:27 PM  

Easy puzzle, but like Chip Hilton I plunged ahead and earned a write-over by putting RACE car instead of PACE car.

Of course that was quickly corrected when I saw 39D, as john farmer points out, on his 200th birthday, the great Edgar Allen Poe,

Unknown 1:29 PM  
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Unknown 1:31 PM  
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mac 1:31 PM  

Pretty ordinary Monday puzzle, cute theme but not necessary to figure it out. Even the "leu" was just another thing to learn, since it came easily through crosses. I also read something differently: I thought 49D was "splitting ......
Stators are new to me, too, but no problem getting it. I find 31A, remove a fastener from, sort of an odd clue. "Remove a brooch" seems more natural. And how about "sophs"?

What happened to Andrea?

jeff in chicago 1:35 PM  

Liked the puzzle. Just hard enough (for a Monday). I'm working on a similar theme. Never knew the "spitting/spit and" controversy. Interesting. CRI and LEU gettable through crossings.

@ArtLvr: Sounds like a great book. I see a trip to the library in my future!

Other fun things that happened today:

-- "I Love Lucy" epsiode in which Lucy gave birth (1953)
-- President Ford pardons "Tokyo Rose" (1977)
-- Apple Lisa debuts (1983)

Other birthdays: Jean Stapleton (1923), Janis Joplin (1943), Dolly Parton (1946)

Unknown 1:35 PM  

@allan, I only had a second look at the puzzle because BAAED seemed unusual and I doubted it was necessary. I looked and saw several ways to redo the NE to eliminate it. While working through it, I discovered OBAMA. I assume that it was intentional. Like in literature, things happen at multiple levels, but sometimes you see things the author didn't consider.

@ArtLvr, thank you for your note. Many people have a holiday today and may not spend much time thinking about why. No man's life is contained in a single moment, but Dr. King's speech 45 years ago has special meaning to me in light of tomorrow's Inauguration. I supported the march in Selma and served in VISTA, but most Americans alive today do not know that Blacks could not stay in most hotels, eat food in restaurants, attend public schools in their neighborhoods or hope to work in most careers. We all worked together to make a change, but one man served as an inspiration. Yes, this clip is 17 minutes, but if you can, the time spent watching will make be worth it. I Have a Dream

jae 2:00 PM  

Typical Mon. for me also. Medium works. Thought some of the fill was pretty interesting for a Mon. Did not know the spit and image phrase, nice to learn something. The LEU is also the currency of Moldova.

chefbea 2:08 PM  

Found this a very easy monday puzzle. I too had race at first. Never saw the leu clue.

At last my husband is in the puzzle...Roger Wood. Maybe I'll make him some hot chocolate.

Shamik 2:21 PM  

@chefbea: (from yesterday) I vote beets, of course!

@foodie: (from yesterday) WELCOME TO ARIZONA!!!!

Today's puzzle in the easy-medium category. And very typical Monday it is.


Anonymous 2:23 PM  

Ah yes, 45D:LECHES -- by the time I got around to checking the clue, I had all the letters from Across entries, and was wondering how the plural for Spanish "milk" would be clued...

Rex writes "for obvious reasons you will never see LEI clued this way" [as the plural of 22D:LEU]. Well, hardly ever. On a Saturday we might see this clue if the grid happens to contain LEI and nearby words have more straightforward clues.


evil doug 2:29 PM  

Quoth the Ravens: Man, I'm sore....

Go Big Ben,


elitza 2:36 PM  

Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Disliked BAAED, but dug HOTCHOCOLATE and RAY (hurray for baseball clues--just 27 days till spring training!) Misstepped on CRYIN (had CRAZY--wasn't that one of the trilogy and Amazin' the third?). I also liked COUCHPOTATO an unreasonable amount.... SCOTSMEN I got right away, then reconsidered until the crosses got it back. Remind me never to think that Monday clues are too obvious.

Also, my favorite answer of this one might well be PRETTYBOY--just made me laugh. Because Pretty Boys spend more time on their hair than I do, and that is just silly.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

Rex says it was medium, but I thought it was easy and finished it in minutes. "Invisible Man" made me think about Martin Luther King and Obama; it is about a black man who felt invisible in the world. And I always watch "Miracle on 34th Street" on Christmas Day; Natalie Wood is the little girl and she is simply delightful. And I've been drinking a lot of hot chocolate; it's still freezing in Michigan.

elitza 3:08 PM  

@Anne--it's practically balmy today compared with what we had over the weekend! Where in MI are you? Oddly, Ann Arbor was much colder than Traverse City this weekend--by about 20 degrees. Unusual, to say the least--but it's up into the 20s today!

I've been selling a ton of hot chocolate at work, so it's definitely not just you.

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

many years ago now, william safire wrote an 'on language' column that chastised people for writing 'spitting image,' rather than 'spit and image.' he singled out one writer and said that, from a person of such erudition, 'we should be able to expectorate more.'

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

Philly and Alan -- I only see OBAM -- not Obama -- 25 down and 27 across --
so please enlighten me!

I was hoping for a MLK theme today though I, too, though Ellison was a nod. Thought it was on the easy side. Hated baaed. Just figured I didn't know leu but that it was o.k. O.K. puzzle. Happy MLK Day!

allan 4:29 PM  

In keeping with this secondary theme on MLK Day, I'm wondering what most people feel was more important to the civil rights movement, Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in professional sports, or Rosa Parks refusing to move to the rear of the bus?

@ PhillySolver: That's good. I was beginning to think that like me, you have way too much free time.

@ anonymous: Safire does have a wonderful sense of humor. Now if only we could understand what he means.

fikink 5:01 PM  

@phillysolver - Thanks for the I Have a Dream.
The one person I wish were alive to see this is Mahalia Jackson. I wish she could sing tomorrow, too.

nanpilla 5:08 PM  

I guess I'm in the minority, but I don't think I could have come up with a word with the letters aae all in a row, so I liked baaed, when I saw it. It just looked so wrong.
This is the only place where you could find an extended discussion of spit and image. I love it! I learn something (or two or three things) every day.

Ulrich 6:13 PM  

@elitza: Did you chime in when we talked about Hunter S. Thompson a few days ago? Anyway, I just had a closer look at your avatar, and I want to applaud: HST's books wouldn't be the same w/o Ralph Steadman's drawings--IMHO.

fergus 8:25 PM  

One of the early Hot Wheels that I purchased was the Splittin' Image, a play on something I know not what. There was also an 1980s English TV satire called Spitting Image. I don't know what these two items add to the debate ...

Both LEWD and LECHES did raise an eyebrow. Made me think a Raw film would turn out to be something other than UNEDITED. Pretty nifty puzzle, but then I fulfilled two of Rex's criteria in the LEU department.

Most SOPHS show remarkable recognition and acceptance when I explain the origins of Sophomore.

Anonymous 9:09 PM  


I too failed to check RACE car @ 39A, which means that Edgar Allan Roe wrote "The Fall of the House of Usher." Is that fishy or WHAT....

Bill from NJ 9:49 PM  

To say I heard the "I have a dream" speech is not accurate - I was part of the crowd in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

I lived in tlhe SE suburbs of Maryland around Washington DC in 1963 and a group of friends and I took a bus into the city to be a part of the festivities.

What I remember was the roar of the crowd washing over us as Dr King spoke. I like to think it was every time he said "I have a dream" but I wouldn't swear to it.

It was one of the special days of my life.

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

I'm a twin and we're the "spitting image " of our
mama. I love the South, such lovely, idiomatic
language. I learned "leu" early on, along with
Nero, adopted son of Claudius. Pays to know
your Shakespeare. OK, too much coffee
and pecan pie. ; )
This was such a breeze. "Monday, Monday,
so good to me."

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

I'm a twin and we're the "spitting image " of our
mama. I love the South, such lovely, idiomatic
language. I learned "leu" early on, along with
Nero, adopted son of Claudius. Pays to know
your Shakespeare. OK, too much coffee
and pecan pie. ; )
This was such a breeze. "Monday, Monday,
so good to me."

Anonymous 12:38 AM  


elitza 1:09 AM  

@Ulrich: You better believe I did! That was an amazing puzzle for me on so many levels =)

Anonymous 3:37 AM  

Hey! Thanks for noticing!
Missed you all too.
Was in Reno for a Scrabble tournament where LEU must have been played 347 times over the past four days!
(EVERYONE there not only knows LEU, they know it takes a back S, but a D: LEUD)
(Yes, too hard for a Monday, but whaddayagonnado? I guess BAAED looked BAAAD to some folks)

(By the way, I had the Sun puzzle today with a theme dedicated to the god of Scrabble who wrote "Word Freak"...
I ran around the tournament, tried to find other Scrabblers who also are crossworders!)
(Anyone who wants it, just email me)

@Chip Hilton
An entire puzzle themed around your name and you say nothing???!!!

Loved PRETTYBOY too!

Always get confused tho, thinking it's part of the theme...still don't like when non-theme answers appear as long as the theme ones...
(but maybe that's just me)

Weird that BLOC crossed with CLOD that was clued as BLOCKhead which was either careless or your CRI/CRYIN. What was ITO think?

LOVE that you are Mr. Constructor now! Shedding light in to dark corners! Ordering folks to redo awkward sections!
You've come a long way, baby!

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