WEDNESDAY, Apr. 8, 2009 - J Weissbrot (Tailless Old World mammal / Venetian who explored for England 15th century / Rebelling Turner)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: IRON (69A: Element that can precede the starts of 20-, 31-, 47- and 54-Across)

Word of the Day: LORIS - n.

Any of several small, slow-moving, nocturnal prosimian primates of the genera Loris and Nycticebus of tropical Asia, having dense woolly fur, large eyes, and a vestigial tail.

If you managed to make it out of the NW corner unscathed (or at all, I guess), this puzzle was very easy, especially when compared to most Wednesdays. Without really trying, I had this thing done in 4:17, which is at least a minute faster than my typical Wednesday time. After I escaped from Mean John CABOT (1A: Venetian who explored for England in the 15th century) and the ferocious LORIS (17A: Tailless Old World mammal), I never encountered another bit of resistance in this puzzle. CABOT only barely rings a bell, and LORIS is utterly new to me. Scary. I found myself wondering if I was sure how to spell ORIGAMI (4D: Art form that commonly depicts a swan). "OR*I*GAMI? ... OR*A*GAMI? ..." LORIS looks (both word-wise and picture-wise) like something Dr. Seuss would have written about.

As for the theme - I never saw it. I never even saw the clue that tipped it at 69A. I did the whole SW via Downs. Threw ZERO across there (66A: It turns a hundred into a thousand), and then UZI (61D: Gun produced by Israel Military Industries), MER (62D: La Méditerranée), PRO (63D: Whiz) went down 1-2-3. When I was done, I didn't even know there was a theme-revealing clue, so I just stared dumbly at the long answers wondering what was going on. Then the IRON clue caught my eye and all became clear.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: An Olympic swimmer needs a big one (LUNG capacity)
  • 31A: It may be over a window (CURTAIN rod)
  • 47A: Sound practical judgment (HORSE sense) - this was near the very end of my solving experience (which terminated in the far W), and I botched it at first when I tried to put in NONONSENSE but it came out NONSESENSE. Three "SE" pairs in this one makes the whole answer look weird to me.
  • 54A: Fateful event for the Titanic (MAIDEN voyage) - way to skew the happy-sounding answer toward disaster... goes nicely with the clue for CASH (10A: Mattress filler during a recession, maybe). Why not just clue KABOOM [This is the way the world ends, perhaps]?


  • 15A: Palindromic magazine name (Elle) - one of many, many common answers commonly clued in this puzzle.
  • 35A: Tricks (magic) - appropriately tricky, what with the plural clue not yielding a plural answer.
  • 40A: Akihito's wife, e.g. (Empress) - Akihito is the current Emperor of Japan. I'd completely forgotten they still had one.
  • 42A: Rebelling Turner (Nat) - I may have said this before, but I highly recommend Kyle Baker's graphic novel about NAT Turner. It's graphic alright, but beautiful, and almost silent except for the text of documents that Baker reproduces.
  • 43A: _____ pooped to pop (too) - What year is it, and do I even want to know the implications of this alleged expression?
  • 52A: Modern way to put out an album (on CD) - note: this "way" is no longer "modern." Many kids think CDs are hilariously old-fashioned. Like 8-tracks.
  • 61A: Diamond group (umps) - good clue, esp. for the beginning of baseball season. I wanted NINE.
  • 6D: Group with the 1968 hit "Hush" (Deep Purple) - you may know it from its recent use in some commercial trying to sell cars to baby boomers. It's pretty catchy (the song, not the commercial):

[Hef wants them to "groove the kids" with their music (and hair)]
  • 10D: Echo location (canyon) - had the "Y" first and could think only of ABYSS
  • 12D: "Harlem Nocturne" instrument (sax) - more music?

  • 25D: Astronomical discovery of 1781 (Uranus) - wife took daughter to local observatory last week for some educational thingie, where they got to look through the big telescope. Being able to see Saturn and its rings blew my daughter's mind. No URANUS, though, as far as I know.
  • 33D: Spying against one's own country, say (treasonous) - had a noun/adj. problem here. Thought the clue would be a noun, since the clue was a noun phrase (gerund). Couldn't get TREASON or TREACHERY to stretch that far.
  • 48D: Biblical strongman (Samson) - true enough. Kinda makes him sound like a carnival sideshow attraction.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Clever Patrick Jordan puzzle today in the LAT. Write-up here.


Parshutr 7:58 AM  

Agree completely on the easy part. The LORIS is familiar thanks to the early TV show, Zoo Parade, that I watched as an adolescent.
Almost fun...

Hungry Mother 8:01 AM  

Even I had no problems today. Rarer.

joho 8:22 AM  

@Oddly my ex-father-in-law was named LORIS.

This did seem too easy for a Wednesday ... and while there is a theme ... it just ended up tasting like whitebread, not a lot of flavor.

Kurisu 8:23 AM  

I had a temporary brain fart and put BONN instead of BERN for Switzerland's capital, so I ended up with ALORO and LONIS, both of which sounded reasonable.

For the modern album clue I wanted something like ITUNES or MPTHREE.

Jeffrey 8:23 AM  

Is there another theme here? Consider this:
10A – CASH – Dave ____, (1977-79)
20A –LUNG CAPACITY - What their fans had plenty of in the early years
23A – AARP – Org. that Tim Raines (1979-90, 2001) can join this year
31A – CURTAIN ROD – How to answer when Mr. Scott (1976, 1979-82) asks what’s covering your window
42A – NAT – what one is now called
47A – HORSE SENSE – Baseball didn’t have this when dealing with them
50A –USED – After 2004, the only way to buy their cap
54A – MAIDEN VOYAGE – What they had 40 years ago today
61A – UMPS – They were at every game
69A – IRON – Pitcher Marshall’s nickname, ____ Mike (1970-73)
2D – ALOU – Manager Felipe (1992-2001), 1968 expansion draft pick, Jesus, or player Moises (1990-96)
12D – SAX – Dodger Steve who hit a homerun on the first pitch of a May 17, 1987 game against them
28D – SMITHS – Bryn (1981-89), Chris (1981-82), Dan (1999, 2002-03), Lee (1997), Mark (2001), Mike
(1988) and Zane (1989-90)
29D – KABOOM – What happened to them in 2004
33D- TREASONOUS – Treatment of them by Major League Baseball
63D –PRO – What they were
Happy 40th anniversary of the Expos first game - April 8, 1969 – Expos 11, Mets 10

Doug 8:30 AM  

Easier than a Monday puzzle. Best version of Harlem Nocturne -- King Curtis.

Kurt 8:45 AM  

@Crosscan - That was just amazing. More entertaining than the puzzle in my view. And your clues were just about right for a Wednesday .. except for ROD SCOTT who seems a little more Thursdayish. Did you know that Rod was traded three times in two weeks in 1978?

I, too, was sorry to see the Expos relegated to Washington. Major League baseball seems to screw up almost everything that they touch. But the game is so good that they keep drawing fans and making money.

And so it goes...

ileen 8:49 AM  

I thought it was easy too. If I hadn't misspelled ORIGAMI, I would have broken 13 minutes, which is a record for me on Wednesdays and better than my Tuesday time this week. I wound up at 14:09, which is well under my 15 minute goal for a mid-week puzzle. That's my first time goal achieved!

Kurt 9:04 AM  

@Crosscan - Here are some more theme answers:

6D - DEEP PURPLE - The color of Bud Selig's face when the Expos almost made the playoffs in 2003

30D - IGNORE - What we should all do whenever Bud Selig speaks

66A - ZERO - The overall consensus regarding Bud Selig's IQ.

...and a real one...

57D - ERAS - Stats produced by Pedro Martinez, John Wetteland & Jeff Fassero.

ArtLvr 9:23 AM  

The real LORIS and Lemur have wonderfully big eyes for active night life. Dr. Seuss's was a Lorax, but I can't recall his looks or habits.

While HOUSE was amusingly clued as Royal family, it was a bit of a let-down not to get a Tudor or something similarlly colorful as the answer... At least bland SMITHS was enlivened with Paul Revere et alii.

URANUS seems to have made several puzzles this week and always makes me chuckle to remember how prudes put through the change in its original pronunciation! That happened around the same time they stuck "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance, I think. Political HORSE patooty...

Yes, it was an okay puzzle theme: thanks, Joey.

Tony from Charm City 9:36 AM  

Took me 4:41. Fairly easy. No problems with the NW. I started on the downs and it all fell into place rather quickly.

I too thought of Seuss' "The Lorax" when I first saw the clue and already had LOR in place.

Xavier 9:53 AM  

Somehow the NW didn't throw up as much resistance for me as the rest of the puzzle. CABOT seemed ... not Venetian to me, but the downs all came very naturally to me. CANYON actually threw me with its bat-like clue, but I made it through all right.

All in all, an average Wednesday. Fun to solve, but ultimately forgettable. That's not a put down, I just can't remember every puzzle I do, and I know I won't remember this one after long.


VaBeach puzzler 10:04 AM  

Yup, the planets must be aligned because both NYT and LAT puzzles had Uranus in their telescopic crosshairs today. In the LA puzzle, it was 2D: First planet discovered using a telescope.

HudsonHawk 10:06 AM  

I momentarily had TRAITOROUS for TREASONOUS, but otherwise, sailed nicely through this one. I also hadn't remembered that CABOT was Venetian, but it didn't slow me down.

DEEP PURPLE? IRON MAIDEN? Hmm, maybe it's not an Expos theme, CC. Greene meets Rex in the Arts section today, which featured a shockingly positive review of the new Broadway play Rock of Ages. That's right, a musical featuring songs from Journey, Aerosmith, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, and that old reliable crosswordese, REO Speedwagon.

alex the droog 10:06 AM  

I liked the theme, there are only a couple of four letter elements, so I solved 69A with LEAD first thinking of theme possibilities and 20A gave the LUNG to me pretty easily. IRON LUNG was better than LEAD LUNG so the theme was fun and made the puzzle done before my coffee. I like getting the theme early.

58D ~~~ to meh clue-weak, otherwise a cool puzzle

mexgirl 10:14 AM  

wait today Monday?

PlantieBea 10:18 AM  

I enjoyed solving this puzzle although I almost ended up with two fatal errors. Sometimes I pencil in the letter "s" for plural answers in my first pass through a puzzle. In this case, I was left at the end with MAGIS for 35A and GANS for GANG. I actually proofed this puzzle, and caught the mistakes which served a lesson to CHECK the puzzle at the end.

Wow, I love the Deep Purple clip. The "Hush" clue was a gimme since I used to be a DP fan, although more of the later Made in Japan/ Ian Gillian era. I was informed by some of my peers in early high school that "nice girls" did not listen to that kind of music; that included other faves from The Who, Led Zep, Pink Floyd. Argh.

Rex Parker 10:26 AM  

@VA Beach,

Some people come here before doing the LAT, so you gotta be careful giving away answers.

On the other hand, I assume people who are going to do NYT are done with it before they do LAT / read the LAT blog, so I revealed the URANUS connection over there. Not sure if that assumption is correct.

jimmy d 10:40 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, but it was very made me feel so smart that I finally finished the Berry second puzzle from Sunday!

@Crosscan: nice Expos post!

@Rex: You can bring up the 2004 ALCS, but the 2001 Series?? Did you have to go there?? ouch....

Sandy 10:50 AM  

CABOT came easy (I once taught 7th grade social studies) but when oh when am I going to learn how to spell ALOU. LORIS didn't help me get out of my "e" for "o" mistake. The puzzle sure is educating non-sporting me.

chefbea 10:50 AM  

I agree. Easy for a wednesday.

@VABeach Dont spill the beans for the LAtimes puzzle. I do this one first then LAtimes

Anyone watch dancing with the stars last night and see our good friend Etta James??? What a voice. I had never seen her before and expected her to look a bit like Ella Fitzgerald.

Semi today, Tractor trailer yesterday.

Sandy 10:53 AM  

There's some sort of telescopic anniversary going on - our local observatory had a series of free open houses this weekend. I wonder if Uranus is involved. Of course, I could look it up...

Opus2 11:00 AM  

@crosscan - When I heard on the radio this morning that the Expos had their first game 40 years ago, I thought of you immediately.

Mudcat Grant was the starting pitcher, but Don Shaw was credited with the win.

I got down to Jarry Park for a couple games that first year, but alas not opening day.

And speaking of Alous, there's two stories that come to mind. First is that Rusty Staub came to the Expos in a trade that sent Jesus Alou to the Astros.

Second is one that I may have told here before. Duke Snyder was interviewing Expos manager Felipe Alou and asked about his playing stats. "Felipe, in 1966 you hit .327 with the Braves. Was that best in the National League that year?" "No", said Felipe, "that wasn't even best in my family." (His brother Matty hit .342 for the Pirates to win the batting championship).

Expos, on y va!

Jim in Chicago 11:05 AM  

In which decade was this puzzle constructed?

ONCD is hardly a modern way to put out in album!! Maybe in the 1980s!!

Hoople 11:31 AM  

Only miscue (is that a contraction of "missed clue"?) was entering SLIM for 28A - Less than 1%, which although reasonable at the time, produced LABOOM for 29D - Big Bang. No matter how plausible that may have sounded to me in a vague French accent sort of way (and even enjoyable to say out loud - several times) the error was quickly corrected and I moved on.

Row and Column Strings
Column 4 - Is an "Origami Samson" kind of a straw man argument?
Column 22 - Is the line leading to the college party keg a "Thirst Conga"?
Row 23 - A retirement home is an "AARP House".
Column 12 - The start of Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" is "Sax Solace" for me.

allan 12:22 PM  

I didn't know how to spell origami, got lung capacity off the clue, got iron early on, and still struggled. I just couldn't come up with expressions that began with iron.

@Crosscan: Great stuff, but how about these (all non-expo references):
1d. It's made by a 63a.
21d. Path that a Big Papi blast takes when leaving Yankee Stadium (see Rex, I can say nice things about the Sox)
24a. The _____ that Ruth built.
37a. Red Sox World Series Championships compared to Yankees World Series Championships (You didn't think I was going to be that nice did you?)

Hope that is taken in the good fun it was meant, and doesn't bring forth the venom that was detected in some of Rex' posts yesterday.

@ Joey, artlvr (in deference to Beavis and Butthead): Hee, Hee. You said Uranus.

Noam D. Elkies 12:38 PM  

I enjoyed this one -- first puzzle this week that was not in the Boston tournament, and I happened to see the 69A:IRON clue first so knew what to expect. (Though I got the CURTAIN part of 31A before seeing the clue and wondered why "curtain call" wouldn't fit.) Quite an open grid for Wednesday, with nice long non-theme entries like 33D:TREASONOUS and 46D:RUDYARD. Not all the clues were standard -- I liked the routes to 29A:SKIM and 66A:ZERO (or should I have said, "as a mathematician, ..."), also 10D:CANYON; and the clue for 59D:GANG suggests a plural. Nice too to see the full 36D:CETERA.

For the NW, one can't spend much time at Harvard without running into the name 1A:CABOT, though I had no idea there was a Venetian by that name (origially "Giovanni Caboto" according to Wikipedia). Nor did I know 17A:LORIS, or (on the West side) the phrase used to clue 43A:TOO.

Yes, three SE's in 47A:HORSESENSE -- and if you remove them all you get the word HORN. This was used by Will Shortz as an NPR Sunday Puzzler some time ago (add an identical letter pair three times to "horn" to get a familiar two-word phrase). If you like this kind of thing the NPL <> may be for you.

Moving from a nocturnal prosimian to Harlem Nocturne -- interesting, but I wonder about the title... "Hey, stop playing that Nocturne so loud, I'm trying to sleep here!"


P.S. Anther row string: IBN EMPRESS = prince.

George NYC 12:59 PM  

It's a Galileo anniversary--400 years since he discovered the earth orbits the sun. Big show in Philadelphia, featuring one of his actual telescopes. I believe I read the show is occasioned more by the loan of the telescope by the museum in Florence than an actual known anniversary date. The Italian museum is undergoing renovations, hence the once-only loan.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:14 PM  

@ArtLvr and Tony From Charm City - Here's the Lorax.

des 1:31 PM  

As an English profesor I was surprised you didn't mention The Confessions of Nat Turner by WIlliam Styron, one of the great books of all time in my opinion.

HudsonHawk - I saw Rock of Ages when it first opened on off Broadway. As someone who came of age in the 60s, I have to agree with the review - it was quite enjoyable in spite of all those 80s hits.

miriam b 1:37 PM  

@Artlvr: When one of my kids learned the Pledge of Allegiance, she created a wonderful Mondegreen. She thought the phrase was "one nation, under guard, inner visible." Sometimes I use that version when in a large group and thus undetectable.

ileen 1:40 PM  

I have to admit that I had IKE instead of NAT until the downs made me realize it was wrong. Ike was a rebel in his way too.

jae 2:34 PM  

I'm with joho on this one, easy but a bit bland. LORIS was new to me but CABOT rang a bell.

chefwen 3:11 PM  

A tad bit disappointing, really did feel like a Mon/Tues. Got the theme right away and was finished in no time at all. By Wednesday I am looking for something a little more crunchy.

edith b 3:46 PM  

I did find this one a little bland as I was able to cut right through it. It lacked crunch but was certainly a professional job, LUNGCAPACITY and MAIDENVOYAGE attest to that.

I just wish the constructor had a little more zip on his fastball, continuing the baseball metaphor of the week and speaking as a transplanted Yankees fan.

hazel 4:20 PM  

@Crosscan! Excellent post. I will say that I went to a Braves Expos game once in Montreal, and it was just sad. The echoes, the empty seats, the garish "field", everything. Well, the city was fantastic, but that stadium, not so much. Also, congratulations for your Crossword Cagers bracketology victory! You may be the best, but I wound up The 9th Greatest Bracketologist in the Tiny Universe of the Crossword Cagers!

I liked today's puzzle too. Definitely a fan of the Styron book, but looking forward to checking out the graphic recommendation.

hazel 4:20 PM  
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Anonymous 4:23 PM  


Quite Disappointing...a bit too forced, lacking the imagination and fluidity of recents.

flagger 5:22 PM  

Pretty bland day to go with the puzzle. Think I'll try the Onion. Maybe that one will be more entertaining.

@Crosscan: Really neat post, as usual.

ArtLvr 5:45 PM  

@ Bob K -- Thanks for the Lorax pic: big eyes!

@ miriam b -- Very cute, "under guard"... sort of like Big Brother.


Jeffrey 5:49 PM  

@Kurt - Nice additions. how could I miss ERAS?

@jimmyd, allan, flagger, etal - thanks

@opus2 - I was only 6, but I went to several games at Jarry Park that year with my father or brothers. Still remember getting an autograph from Rusty Staub.

@hazel - I went to one of the very last games in 2004. Very sad. Maybe 3000 people in a stadium of 50,000+ seats. Quiet as a mouse.

elitza 8:47 PM  

I have a dirty mind.

The LUNGCAPACITY clue just led to associations of Michael Phelps in Speedos.

Badir 8:59 PM  

Hey, I knew LORIS--somewhere I remember reading about the "slow LORIS". That picture's very cute, Rex. As a mathematician, I like ZERO crossing PRO. :)

Still, it took me For Ever to come up with ALDA, whom I got to meet and chat with a few years ago, after seening him in QED, the quasquiman play about Richard Feynman, and SEMI, another sort of mathy word!

Dean 12:41 AM  

There is a paucity of planets in the evening sky, so Saturn is THE ONE for lookin' right now. Uranus is near superior conjunction (behind the sun), as it Neptune and ex-planet Pluto. The rest are all morning objects save Mercury, soon to make an evening appearance.

allan 1:27 AM  

Sorry, but I forgot to wish all who observe the holiday a zissen pesach (happy passover).

Somewhere around page 15 of the Haggadah in use tonight was the first line of this song.

liquid el lay 1:02 PM  

I wasn't going to comment for a while, but man..


I was so pleased to see the "Hush" clue, I mean, Herman's Hermits, right?

Herman's Hermits

Great stuff.

Yes, DEEPPURPLE looks cool in the grid.. but it's not worth the association.

I actually know a person named Loris, too. Father did it as a kind of joke. Poor woman. She's lived with it 70 years. We call her Lori.

Last square the X that made SAW a SAX, and NEWT NEXT.

Still want to hear the Cajun version of the Nocturne.

Frieda 12:58 AM  
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