Jazzy Waters - MONDAY, Mar. 16, 2009 - L Lempel (Track choice for Lionel trains / Second-generation senator from Indiana / AOL chitchat)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Ay ay ay! - eight theme answers all conclude with a words that rhymes with "EYE," though each final word achieves its rhyme with a different spelling

Word of the Day: STEN -

The Sten (or Sten gun) was a family of British 9 mm submachine guns used extensively by British and Commonwealth forces throughout World War II and the Korean War. They were notable for having a simple design and very low production cost.

STEN is an acronym, cited as derived from the names of the weapon's chief designers, Major Reginald Shepherd and Harold Turpin, and EN for Enfield.[1] Over 4 million Stens in various versions were made in the 1940s. (wikipedia)

If the puzzle provides a "Note" (as this one did), I never read it before starting. Don't want extra information. Puzzle should make sense without explanation. So when I finished this one, I was not that impressed at first. Lots of words ending with the "EYE" sound. Hurrah. Then I thought "EVAN BAYH is a great way to get your 'eye' rhyme" and only then did I realize what the note to the puzzle tried to tell me in the beginning: the 'eye' sound is achieved a different way each time:

17A: *Fraternity with a sweetheart of a song (Sigma Chi) - "I" alone
18A: *Drink that often comes with an umbrella (mai tai) - "AI"
24A: *Like some socks (knee high) - "IGH"
37A: *Smart aleck (wise guy) - "UY"
39A: *Salon supply in a bottle (hair dye) - "YE"
48A: *Good picnic forecast (clear sky) - "Y" alone
58A: *Chocolaty ice cream dessert (mud pie) - "IE"
60A: *Second-generation senator from Indiana (Evan Bayh) - "AYH"

Clever idea. Wish the puzzle in general had more snappy answers like KNEE HIGH and EVAN BAYH - that YH ending was so unexpected that I briefly questioned my ETHEL at 53D: Jazzy Waters. ORGAN MUSIC (3D: Hymn accompaniment) and MODEL PLANE (29D: Small replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, e.g.) are kind of dull, and of the short answers, only CRUD (36D: Gunk) and NUDE (28A: Ready for skinny-dipping) do much to liven up the place. O GAUGE (9D: Track choice for Lionel trains) and ILLY (40D: Badly) are unusual, but in a yucky way - actually, I might like O GAUGE later in the week. I cannot say the same for ILLY, which I might like never. I do like the fact that the USSR (22A: Cold war foe, for short) appears to be on a collision course with SDI (13D: U.S. Star Wars program). Shouldn't the "war" in "Cold war" be capitalized? Maybe it is in the paper, but it's not in AcrossLite.

We've got YAP AT (38D: Talk to persistently and with a big mouth) and ARRIVE AT (14A: Reach) today. We also have GLUE ON (44A: Attach with Elmer's). Varying the prepositions is good. I had two write-overs / erasures today, one where I put ALOT in ILLY's place, and another where I had to change AURAS to AURAE (34D: Saintly glows) - one of those plurals that can go either way. Had a weirdly hard time getting CLEAR SKY even though I had the "KY" in place. I was hearing an "E" and not an "I" sound, as in "RISKY" or "PESKY." Also, the "forecast" is usually "CLEAR SKIES," not "SKY."

Grad student's income, often (stipend) took me back to my grad school days in Ann Arbor. Went to a school of ARTS and Sciences (4A: _____ and sciences), had a memorably unterrific ORAL exam (65A: Exam given face-to-face), met many an ALUMNA from schools all over the country (32A: Bryn Mawr graduate), etc. Congratulations to U. Michigan, by the way, on getting into the NCAA tournament yesterday. Their basketball team was first-rate when I was there. Not so much lately. In other basketball news, my current university (Binghamton), which moved to Division I only in the past five years or so, is not only going to the NCAA tourney - they're playing Duke in the first round. Congratulations, please enjoy your high-profile a$$-whooping. Seriously, though, it's surreal to have March Madness grip this town, to see our sad, sleepy college town on national television, etc. I thought our mascot - the Bearcat - was made up, but it turns out it's an actual animal: an arboreal civet of Asia.

No bullets.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


xyz 9:06 AM  

Cute little puzzle, easy theme to guess. Once the theme evident it made italicized clues fun to guess.

32A, 40D were awkward, prepo-enders uncomfortable but overall fun

mac 9:13 AM  

A perfect Monday puzzle, with the same write-over for me that Rex had. I'm bad at these acronyms, so I was happy that SDI and DST were easily gettable through crosses.
Worst word: illy, best: reliance. Don't think I have ever seen this last one in a puzzle.

Kurt 9:21 AM  

I think that there is a second theme embedded in this puzzle.

We've got likely underage drinking in New York (MAI TAI). We've got likely substance abuse in two places - smoking in Boston (JOINTS) and sniffing in Richmond (GLUEon). We've got a strip club in Pittsburgh (NUDE). And all of this is probably enabled by a mobster in Denver (WISE GUY). Not to worry however. The Federal AGENTS are meeting in San Diego as we speak to take the whole thing down.

So could it be Crime & Punishment?

Ayh, ai Captain.

Greene 9:25 AM  

Nice puzzle. Like Mac said, just perfect for a Monday.

What Rex? No link to "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi"? This is probably one of the oldest and most beloved of college fraternity songs (that doesn't have to do with drinking). It was the subject of at least 2 corny movies I can think of, but it really is quite a lovely song. To hear it go here.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

fun puzzle...perfect for monday

(aside to Rex: The Sunday Times a few weeks ago documented how baketball has already corrupted SUNY Binghamton. They should abolish the basketball program and get back to focusing on making a world class university. Wouldnt it make more sense to spend the money on...oh, perhaps the Humanities departments instead of on sports???....)PIX: SUNY Bingamton Class of '75

ArtLvr 9:41 AM  

I liked today's romp too.. Aïe! (French for ouch). Missing: -ei as in Lorelei and -ae as in Tae Kwan Do?


retired_chemist 9:52 AM  

Didn't even see the theme until I came here.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Huh--read the theme answers quickly and it sounds like one of those Car Talk riffs on where John "Bugsy" Lawlor is just back from--Sigma Chi, Mai Tai, Kneehigh, Wiseguy, Hairdye, Clearsky, Mudpie, Evan Bayh--mezmerizing rhythm! Better make sure Clik and Clak don't steal it.

PlantieBea 9:59 AM  

Thanks for the definition of STEN. I've been using this forever without knowing what it meant.

This was an easy but fun puzzle--my only rewrite was on AURAE...

Jeffrey 10:14 AM  

DAY-O. DAY-ay-ay-o...

I thought the theme was hobbies - O GAUGE, MODEL PLANE, GLUE ON. I have N gauge trains (actually I think N scale is the more proper term),but I haven't touched them lately; too busy puzzling and commenting about puzzling. Scale vs gauge, let's discuss - oh wait this isn't a model train blog. Beets!

Or maybe the theme was ex-wives of Frank Sinatra.



Bye Guy.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

It went down easilly (and quickly). AURAE was cute.

"Sweetheart of Sigma Jive" has got to be the boringest song in the world (next to the national anthem of the former USSR).

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Nice Monday. Clever theme. I can't imagine explaining this to someone trying to learn English. Also, I noted mao, mia, moi in addition to mai.

I don't remember ever using O gauge before, maybe someone will explain that someday. I really appreciated the Sten write up which I have been writing forever without knowing what it was.

And I printed out my first Quigley today since Rex recommends it.

archaeoprof 10:47 AM  

@Rex: thanks for the background on STEN. I didn't know it was an acronym. What if Binghamton meets Michigan in the Final Four?

Jeffrey 10:50 AM  


Anonymous 10:55 AM  

I completely missed the theme, (like Rex I never saw the note) but finished this puzzle in my fastest ever time (which is still minutes behind some of you, but I was pretty happy about it!)

A fun start to the week.

jeff in chicago 11:06 AM  

I didn't see the theme until I was finished. Once I scanned the puzzle it became clear. I had noticed the asterisks as I worked, but made no connection as I filled. Clever enough! A nice Monday puzzle. Lynn's 28th Monday NYT.

WISEGUY HAIRDYE reads funny across the center of the grid. For some reason it makes me think of Paulie Walnuts.

Parshutr 11:18 AM  

@archeoprof...If Binghamton meets UMich in the final four, a whole lotta bookies will be out the door.
Best thing about the STEN...low maintenance, highly reliable.
AURAE could have been *ed as well, and then we wouldn't have been tempted to enter AURAS.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

The Bearcats? Granted it's an ok name for a mascot, but do you have to go to the opposite side of the world, pick an animal whose claim to fame seems to be either their scent markings smell like peanuts or that they can rotate their hind feet? You've actually got rabid raccoons there in Binghamton no? The Raging Rabid Raccoons of SUNY Binghamton.

That's all I've got to say about this puzzle. SIGH

mccoll 11:41 AM  

You could do this one in the shower. It must have been fun to construct. I didn't get to Sunday until this morning. What fun prioresses was, but not very difficult.
@Patrick Berry. Thanks.
(quibble) The use of "shunt" is incorrect. To shunt a freight car means to push it with the engine and let it roll free whether it changes tracks or not. The device to change tracks is simply called a "switch."

Rex Parker 11:53 AM  

Def. 2 of "shunt" is "a railroad switch." Dictionaries!


mccoll 11:55 AM  

I just checked my self and found the same thing. "Better keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool....."

Doug 12:04 PM  

The old civet cat also was the likely ground zero animal for the SARS epidemic in China. Those traditional food markets in Guangzhou are, ahem ... a little exotic.

Motored through this one, only skipping a couple like ILLY and EVANBAYH. Would have much preferred "Italian espresso brand" over the lame-o clue. No Philly clue today?

joho 12:12 PM  

A fine puzzle and thanks to Ms. Lempel for her large body of work!

I liked CLEAR SKY and MUD PIE.

University of Cincinnati is also the Bearcats. Somebody told me that it was an imaginary animal. I guess not.

chefbea 12:52 PM  

Fun easy Monday puzzle. Not a very clear sky here today.

Love mud pie

By By

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

Not many Tahitian words have made it into crosswords. I sometimes see TABU which is native, but I am waiting for the term Thank You to make it...Mauruuru.


penny 1:47 PM  

Please, on Friday March 13, there was a clue "8 for O". What does it mean? Even with the answer in front of me, I don't get it. Thanks.
(I am very new to crosswords, but I love the NYT.)

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

8 is the atomic number (ATNO) of Oxygen (O). A common, though hateful, cluing.

Rex Parker 2:30 PM  

It's a fine clue. If anything's hateful, it's AT NO. itself.

@Penny, answers to questions I don't address can often be found in the Comments section. I'm nearly certain that was the case with the ATNO clue on Friday.


chefwen 2:42 PM  

Enjoyed this puzzle, had a few mistakes like drs for MDS, auras for AURAE, and don't ask me why but I put in mama was a rolling stone, had a good laugh at myself when I figured that one out.

edith b 3:34 PM  

A thinking person's theme for a simple enough puzzle. Lynn Lempel, along with our ACME, are the resident masters of the Monday puzzle.

On Monday it is all in the fill and I liked the snap provided by ORGANMUSIC and MODELPLANE more than I disliked the blah of YAPAT and GLUEON. A successful puzzle, all things being equal.

edith b 3:37 PM  

I forgot. ILLY?

Ulrich 3:39 PM  

It's weird: I'm leaving on the 27th for Tahiti and Bora Bora, and references to my destinations start piling up: we had the Îles de la Société, to which both belong, a few days ago in a puzzle; yesterday's NYT mag had the end page, right after the puzzle, devoted to Bora Bora (a real downer if you're about to go there) and today, Tahiti pops up in the comments. The great event starts casting its shadows before...

sillygoose 5:14 PM  

The kids are illy, but the dog is doing OK.

Fun puzzle.

Two Ponies 5:30 PM  

I can't imagine using "illy" in any context and being understood.
Other than that I thought is was another fine Monday puzzle with an interesting theme.

Anonymous 5:47 PM  





Glitch 7:16 PM  

Quiet day on the blog --- but ok.

I hate the 100+ entry days, my lips get sooo tired reading them all ;-)

But I do read them all --- at least the first few lines of each, then scan for "@"'s.

For example, the 8 for O = ATNO last Friday was asked 3+ times, and answered at least twice.

Scanning ALL the comments answers a lot of questions, and usually raises a couple of more --- but to be part of "this", ya gotta do it.


joho 7:36 PM  


fergus 8:55 PM  

With Rex on not liking the Note: to explain the theme entries. They ought to stand alone. Odd though, that I'd done the puzzle, figured out the twist, and then finally saw the Note. (This was in the print edition where the Star Wars did have a second capitalization.) Does a veteran puzzler simply block out explanatory notes through gridular habit, or just consider any extra print not worth looking at, like it was a part of Ken-ken?

The resonance of words and ideas always impresses me in a Lynn Lempel puzzle. It's hard to say why or how, but there is an extra connectedness in the choice of words she ties together.

edith b 10:19 PM  


Thank you for pointing out what I couldn't put my finger on - that extra connectedness in Ms Lempel's puzzles.

Anonymous 10:46 PM  

Another SUNY-B alum here ('87). How bizarre to find our little school in Division I. They were Div III when I was there. They had one halfway decent player who was 6'7"-the rest were nothing. Athletics were not the point then.

+wordphan 1:09 AM  

As Mac and Greene put it, this is a nice little Monday puzzle. Hey! "Mac-Greene"! Reminds me to remind you puzzlers, Happy St. Patrick's! Drive softly, better yet, DD it and slainte!
What's green and sits outside?
Out of here.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

I had no idea what the theme was until I came here. I have never heard or even heard of the song, so I pronounce SIGMA CHI as Sigma Khee, and not, as a guess, Sigma Child without the -ld. And I thought EVAN BAYH was pronounced Evan Bay.

KMB 10:36 PM  

The long "i" theme!

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