MONDAY, May 18 2009 - B Truitt (Year-round alp topper / Style of the 1920s and '30s / Common burger topper)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: CR x 2 - theme answers are two-word phrases where both words start "CR-"

Word of the Day: TEMPERAS (20A: Poster paints) - n.

  1. A painting medium in which pigment is mixed with water-soluble glutinous materials such as size or egg yolk. Also called poster color, poster paint.
  2. Painting done in this medium.

[Italian, from temperare, to mingle, from Latin temperāre. See temper.]

A Lively, timely, easy Monday puzzle. Stumbled very early on - while TEMPERAS wasn't exactly new to me, I feel as if I haven't heard the term since whenever the last time I had art class was (6th grade?), and so I wrote in TEMPURAS and then a few seconds later puzzled over what fruit I might know that begins "BUR..." (18D: Fruit on a bush -> it's BERRY). I also managed to make a double-wrong decision as I rounded the bend in the far east - had the initial "W" and "L" for 28D: One of the five W's and 29D: Minstrel's instrument, respectively, and went with WHEN and LYRE ... the answer were WHAT and LUTE. That's called a wipe-out. And yet, when I was done, the clock said 3:08, which is somewhat on the fast side for me on a Monday.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Graham cracker pie shell (crumb crust)
  • 26A: Spider or worm (creepy crawly)
  • 44A: Lending crisis (credit crunch)
  • 58A: Cajun seafood dish (crab creole)

Mostly liked the theme answers, especially CREEPY CRAWLY, which adds a dynamic colloquial flavor to the grid, and CREDIT CRUNCH, which is wonderfully in-the-language. Well, the phenomenon isn't "wonderful," but ... you know what I mean. I wasn't too thrilled with CRUMB CRUST. It's accurate enough, but I've only ever heard such crust called a GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST, so CRUMB CRUST didn't pop for me the way a couple of the others did. I'm also weirdly disappointed that "CR-" words were used not once but twice in the clues themselves ("cracker" in 17A, "crisis" in 44A). I think if they'd been kept out, the puzzle would have felt ... purer, somehow. And yet I liked the puzzle quite a bit. CRAB CREOLE is unfamiliar to me, though clearly it was familiar enough that I was able to fill in CREOLE once the CRAB was in place, so I must have heard of it somewhere, sometime.


  • 21A: President who followed Harry (Dwight) - you almost never see this presidential name in the grid - at 83.3% consonants, that's not terribly surprising. Love it.
  • 45D: Fire-breathing beast (dragon) - another answer to liven up the grid. Think of it as a gigantic CREEPY CRAWLY.
  • 42D: Year-round Alp topper (snow cap) - such a weird-sounding clue, and yet I got this instantly off the "S" and probably would have gotten it with no crosses at all. I love that this answer crosses another "topper," RAW ONION (55A: Common burger topper).
  • 3D: Batter's dry spell (slump) - another nice, colloquial, timely (i.e. basebally) term to liven up the grid. Also, an anagram of PLUMS.
  • 9D: Style of the 1920s and '30s (art deco) - it's not crosswordese if you bring it out in its full-length format. See also MATA HARI, JAI ALAI, etc.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

My write-up of today's LAT puzzle is now available here.


JannieB 7:23 AM  

A perfect Monday puzzle. Fresh, easy and fun. Hope this bodes well for the rest of the week!

retired_chemist 8:07 AM  

Wow. This was, to me, the easiest NYT puzzle ever. NOT interesting – meh meh meh. There was not one answer to work one’s way through. It was all there in front of you. Oh – I did need a cross to decide between DUH and D’OH for 39D. But give the puzzle credit – it was hard to get bored in less than 5 minutes.

I thought the theme was weak. CR* CR * was the only connection.



chefbea 8:19 AM  

Loved the puzzle - very easy.

I think I will now saute some raw onions for the crab creole we will have for dinner. For dessert... A mixture of berries in a crumb crust. I have all the ingredients...
my cupboard is never bare

Unknown 8:21 AM  

Crumb crusts can be made from vanilla or chocolate wafers as well as from graham crackers. So the phrase is legitimate, though I agree that "graham cracker crust" is the usual term for a crumb crust made from graham crackers. Maybe "cheesecake bottom" would have fit the bill?


joho 8:33 AM  

@chefbea, this puzzle had you written all over it. I was thinking how chefbea ENJOYS a CRUMBCRUST stuffed with a WARM BANANA and BERRY filling. And how chefbea SAUTES RAW ONION for her delicious CRAB CREOLE served along with a hot chicken FAJITA.

This is Billie Truitt's homage to chefbea!

Also there's a (CREDIT)CRUNCH and a SNO(W)CAP in the puzzle.

Chewy, tasty Monday!

mac 8:42 AM  

Yes, easy, breezy Monday, with a lot of good food in it.

@JeanSp: you are right, a crumb crust can also be made of ginger snap crumbles, very tasty with a custard type of filling.

I had a moment of panic when I ran short of space for "creepy crawler".... It all worked out, of course. Tempera was just in a puzzle a few days ago, I think.

On to a Dutch ladies' coffee/lunch. Good food and good discussion. Lots of noise.....

slypett 8:48 AM  

Whew! I didn't even notice the theme, until someone mentioned that there was one. This had to have been even faster than last Monday for me. My only "problem" was I had REVELS for ENJOYS for a msec.

Most enjoyable way to continue a day that was started too early by Daisy (my beagle/basset mix) nuzzling me out of a sound sleep. (Gotta convince her to play by herself till 7:30.)

PIX 8:56 AM  

Am i the only one who never heard of Kukla, Fran and Ollie?

nanpilla 9:06 AM  

@mac : I also really wanted creepy crawler. I LOVED playing with those things when I was a kid. Baking the goo to make bugs.

Was disappointed there were no CRI or CRO beginnings in the theme answers. CRISS CROSS would have taken care of that. Too bad that CRYPTIC CROSSWORD is 16 letters, the CRY would have been great.

If I ever build a development in Arizona I will definitely call it CACTI ACRES.

JannieB 9:09 AM  

@Pix - probably not - they were one of the first kiddie tv shows back in the early 50's. Kukla and Ollie are puppets. Ollie is a dragon, Kukla a round-headed boy/man. Fran is a real woman who talked to both of them.

Glitch 9:11 AM  

Easy, breezy puzzle. CR*CR* enough of a theme for a Monday (even helped getting creole), IMHO.


Our cats want breakfast at 4am, (a carryover from our old commuting days) and they outnumber us. At least it's early enough to go back to bed now!


PS: (From last night)@foodie --- the avitar comes and goes until I can get it on all my computers. The story behind it is as probably exciting as yesterday's puzzle.


Chorister 9:30 AM  

Really easy, but fun all the same, even with a splitting headache. If the Dale Chihuly exhibit comes to a garden near you GO SEE IT! It is awesome. In retrospect, I would not have gone when the temp was 105 but the light was great.

Mike 9:48 AM  

Man, was that easy! KUKLA slowed me down, but other than that, I don't even remember filling in half this puzzle due to moving so fast through it. Good puzzle; nice mixture of crosswordese (BTUS,PSST), and easy yet fresh fill, like RAW ONION and FAJITA. Mmmmm, fajitas....

Bob Kerfuffle 10:14 AM  

@ retired_chemist - Not exactly a mnemonic, but I think one could say that "Duh" means, "It should have been obvious to you" ( "u" ), while "D'oh!" means, "It should have been obvious to me."

Jeffrey 10:15 AM  

Nice monday puzzle. It's Critoria Cray here so I'm going back to bed.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

@Rex - Slight aside here.

Any insights into why no one accuses you of being in an inappropriately good mood, makes suggestions as to the quality of your "night", etc, when you say you like an average puzzle? Most people seem comfortable with the obverse.

PlantieBea 10:32 AM  

A yummy Monday puzzle. Hmmm...the puzzle and comments are suggesting a little cheesecake with yesterday's blackberries. Fajitas were on already the menu for tonight.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 10:32 AM  

I read CR x 2 and thought of "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain"

jeff in chicago 10:39 AM  

Easy. Breezy. Fun.

On Row 39 we have the new Food Network show "Ian Lane Sautes" on which they - hopefully - will never use the Row 52 banana/raw onion combination.

And there are three CR words in the clues. Also: "Criticizes." (Those didn't bother me a bit!)

@Chorister: Dale Chihuly did an exhibit in Chicago a couple years back in which his pieces were places among the plants at the Garfield Park Conservatory. It was fantastic.

Rex Parker 10:42 AM  


That's because you're a genius and I'm still not fully awake. I should have posted a little "Range Life" or "Haircut." Oh well, next time (?)


fikink 10:44 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, Duh and D'oh nicely discerned!

Have any clear and quick ways to impart the difference between imply and infer? My analogies become too tortured to communicate effectively.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Sorry there is a world of difference between Tippler and SOT. Also, I think Creepy Crawler is more apt than CREEPYCRAWLY

jeff in chicago 11:11 AM  

How about a little "Boris the Spider" (The Who) to illustrate CREEPY CRAWLY!

Doc John 11:36 AM  

Nice way to start the week, especially after getting slammed over the weekend. (Still haven't finished Friday's.)
Interesting theme with no real clunkers to jump out at me and Rex pretty much covered those.

slypett 11:42 AM  


Based on rigorous interrogation of my dictionary--


George NYC 11:58 AM  

I at first wanted something like COMPUTER VIRUS for spider or worm. Now that's just sad...
POLOS looks funny spelled out. Surprised we don't see it more. Nice DEBRA Winger shout-out.

alice in SF 12:06 PM  

Sigh! Monday puzzles (and Tuesdays, too) always lure me into thinking that after 50 years of puzzling I'm finally getting the hang of the Times puzzles. Not. I'm still gnawing away at last Friday and Saturday"s and Sat. 4/25.

fikink 12:07 PM  

@Xman, thanks - I know the definitions, but I am looking for an effective way to communicate the difference to students so that they readily remember which word they must use, since imply and infer are so commonly confused in their writing and their speech.
I have on occasion used the idea of the direction which information is flowing (from you when you are implying something; toward you - which is why we "draw" an inference - when your are inferring something.) But, as you see, while quite clear in my mind, my example tends to add to their confusion.
And young people don't necessarily respond to "Look it up."

slypett 12:28 PM  


The problem of infer/imply is so intractable that Web. II has as def. 5: Loosely and erroneously, to imply. And so lumpy that the definers have to have recourse to the phrase "by implication" in their definition.

So, you have your work cut out for you!

Maybe other bloggers, smarter than I, can help you.

Two Ponies 12:28 PM  

Another fine Monday puzzle.
Lately it seems that the early week puzzles have been more entertaining.
Where's Wade been? I miss his funny comments.
And what happened to Evil Doug?

Shamik 12:29 PM  

And if I remember correctly, KUKLA is Greek for doll.

2nd easiest correct Monday puzzle for me.

Making my flight reservations to get to chef bea's house for dinner. ; )

Greene 12:41 PM  

Isn't CREEPY CRAWLY a brand of pool cleaner? Oops, never mind. That's Kreepy Krauly which looks...I don't know, kind of creepy.

@Shamik: I'm with you. I'll meet you at Chef Bea's house for dinner.

Loved the puzzle today. Very easy, but still spicy enough to make it interesting. Also one of my best Monday times ever.

joho 1:21 PM  

So, @Chefbea, what time is dinner?

John 1:23 PM  

PAN FRIES had me thinking of potatoes wat too long, Fun Puzzle.

chefbea 1:26 PM  

@shamik and Greene and everyone else...Talk about food... Do the LATimes puzzle. This is really my day!!!

Charles Bogle 2:21 PM  

thanks Rex for the great Elvis clip. Somehow when he does it, lip-synching doesn't bother me!

I'm w the majority today-a delightful, fun puzzle; loved the CR-CR alliterations and themes.

Throughout, the author had fun w "u" sounds--lots of dull u's ("onion"), u's more familiar ("Kukla"), u's that aren't u's ("redo")--hues of u's ("hue")

I stumbled over the SE lower quad and don't mind confessing ("neap" and "Creole") but feel good I was able to noodle it out on my own. Not one google or other help line for me today. Nice feeling!

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

First puzzle I ever completed without google! Hooray!!

des 2:58 PM  

You must have been in a good mood. I thought you would complain about EMAG (again!) or its neighbor SIGH being used for the Sound of Relief. I don't think so; SIGH is for contentment or boredom or even a groan, but not relief - that would be PHEW.

ps - I was up at SUNY-Binghamton yesterday for my nephew's college graduation. A nice affair. One observation, though: with four graduation ceremonies in one day, you and your faculty colleagues (well, those who attended), were obviously gluttons for punishment!

Dirt Pile 3:05 PM  

I wanted "bond" for "Molecule part," especially because it is the bonding electrons and their delocalizations that allows one to enjoy the hues of said molecule. :)

PuzzleGirl 4:57 PM  

@des: "Breathe a sigh of relief" is familiar to me so I don't have a problem with that clue.

@Anon2:29: Congratulations!!

See ya at chefbea's.

edith b 4:58 PM  

Buzzed through this puzzle in typical Monday fashion. And I agree, there IS a world of difference between a SOT and a Tippler: Norm on "Cheers" was a tippler and any alcoholic is a SOT - Otis on "Andy Griffith", for instance.

Sorry if I offended Pop Culture haters.

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

Edith B - I like your analogy! I always thought Tippler to be more of a social drinker whereas a SOT is found in the gutter

sleepy pumpkin 5:54 PM  

@fikink: I learned somewhere along the way that "the writer implies; the reader infers." The "er" can be a (sorta) mneumonic...

slypett 6:05 PM  

@Anonymous 5:44--

Personally, I've grown exhausted with sot v. tippler.

Here's the Webster's II take:

sot A person whose faculties have been dulled by excessive drinking; a habitual drunkard.

tipple (verb) To indulge in intoxicating drinks habitually and often...but in small quantities and usually without absolute drunkenness.

tippler One who tipples.

My Aunt Agnes likes her sherry and tends to tipple during the day.

Her husband, Uncle George, drinks himself into a stupor from morning to night. He's a sot, I'm afraid.

Glitch 6:27 PM  


I'll tipple to that.


PuzzleGirl 6:41 PM  

@Two Ponies: Interesting observation that both Wade and Evil Doug don't seem to be around. Has anyone ever seen both of them in the same room at the same time?

archaeoprof 7:07 PM  

@Rex: I did the tempura/TEMPERA thing too. I guess I don't really know what "tempura" means...

I'm off to Israel and the PNA tomorrow, and so will be out of circulation for about a week. See you all when I get back.

Anne 8:54 PM  

I may still feel grouchy but I thought this was too easy even for a Monday and it was boring, too. But I still don't know how Rex can do it in three minutes.

I'm glad others are asking about Evil Doug. I've mentioned him a couple of times with no response.

And as for Norm and Otis, if Cheers had been honest, Norm would have acted exactly the way Otis did. No one could drink that much beer without falling off the stool. Now that I think about, Norm and Otis kinda looked like each other.

Retired_Chemist 9:35 PM  

@archaeoprof = tempura is a Japanese batter- fried style of food preparation. Shrimp TEMPURA is delicious. Yummmmmm. Shrimp TEMPERA, while surely quite colorful, probably is not delicious. The best one can say, and I base this only on the fact that elementary school kids are/were given TEMPERA to color with, is that shrimp TEMPERA is probably non-toxic.

@ fikink - I think we mostly all agree - data can imply something, but only an interpreter of data can infer something. When a person implies something, s/he is presenting information, imterpretation, etc. When a person infers something. s/he is receiving information. SleepyPumpkin said it more succinctly. If s/he is an academic I bet his/her classes end on time.

@ Charles Bogle - nice to hear of your continuing progress.

Clark 9:39 PM  

I'm pretty sure Evil Doug hasn't been around since that last little dust up, dispute, contretemps, having to do with attitudes towards rap music. I was pretty new to the blog at the time.

Stan 11:42 PM  

I'm really taken with "CRUMB CRUST" -- whether it's the double CRU element (the others don't repeat the vowel) or because it's spondaic, or because it just sounds nice, like "Cellar door." Anyway, it's my favorite of many delicious answers.

evil doug 5:36 AM  

I’ve been told that there is some curiosity here about my whereabouts. I still check my puzzle results, and occasionally I’ll read the chat if there are topics of interest in the crossword. But I’ve sort of weaned myself off the blog after the following discussion took place in early April….


[Rex wrote:]

It's one thing not to like rap; that seems quite reasonable. I don't like acid jazz or show tunes or modern pop-country. People have different tastes.

It's another thing, however, to take time out of your day to write me to tell me how irresponsible / godless I am for providing my readers easy access to rap.

Also, there's a lot of implicit racism in the anti-rap sentiment I hear. Lots of older whites wondering why blacks won't behave.

When you say rap isn't musical - it's simply ignorant. What you mean is that it's not tuneful or melodic, and even that isn't always correct. It's this speaking from a position of massive ignorance that I resent. You can take a cross-sampling of any genre and challenge that genre's musicality.

I realize I'm fighting a losing battle with this crowd. I don't expect to change minds. My only long-range hope is an abatement of ignorant condescension.


[I responded:]


You were doing fine until you said:
"Also, there's a lot of implicit racism in the anti-rap sentiment I hear. Lots of older whites wondering why blacks won't behave."

Baloney. And if it's "implicit", perhaps the problem is in your inference.

But if you're going to try to run that weak argument up the flagpole, I'd counter that there's "a lot" (I'll mimic the same overly vague term you've employed) of explicit racism---and gratuitous celebration of rape, violence, homophobia, hedonism, the exploiting of women as the property of men, crime, cop-killing, gangstas---in some rap.

Maybe that's why I tend to avoid at least that element of the genre---rather than the white supremacy that you too casually accuse "lots [there's that term again; be careful, Rex] of older whites" of harboring.

There's "lots" of real racism, in all colors, out there. Suggestions like yours are as counterproductive as they are unfounded, and tend to trivialize the genuine problem.

Older White, but not among the "lots".

[Rex reacted:]


Angry denials like yours (which I knew was coming - oddly predictable of you) only confirm my feelings. You get very angry when anyone talks about racism (cf. your ignorant rant about the NAACP awards) because apparently for you, if a black guy isn't hanging from a tree, it doesn't count. Sorry I can't agree.

Yes, it's the black people who are racist. Rich. Please, tell me more.



[And Evil Doug posted his last:]

Even more predictable is your distortion of my words. Read them again, and if you have the courage to address what I really say, go for it.

I can't even begin to describe the contempt I feel for your "hanging" comment.


And that was enough for me. I’ve always giggled happily as Rex has succumbed to calling me “asshole” and “douchebag”---fun to get him foaming a little---but his hyperbolic, inaccurate and clearly distorted comments about my views made me realize: For a guy who seems to pride himself on English skills in his occupation as well as his avocation, you can sure see his knees buckle a lot when he runs out of ideas. He typically succumbs by attaching the “ignorant” label---count how many times he relies on the term above---on whomever he disagrees with that day, and then flails away with nonsense and personal shots to throw the discussion off track rather than expose his lack of debating firepower.

I was truly appreciative of those of you who had the courage to publicly voice your disappointment in Rex right on the blog that day---you must have been truly “ignorant” to do so!---or to e-mail your kind thoughts to me. While I think you know I never shy away from legitimate debate, the host’s tiresome inability to engage on a higher plane for any extended period leads me to believe I’ve got a better use for my time.

Warm regards to you all,


Rex Parker 6:26 AM  

Dude, you are in love with me. You can't stay away. Thanks for posting. I just won a bet.


Dazy 7:06 AM  

I like solving puzzles, but don't like the crosswords. And I missed the video too since I hit late. Sudoku interests me more.

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