FRIDAY, Jun. 26 2009 — Lower Slobbovia creator / Walled-off enclave in Iraq / Techies affiliated with major electronics chain / Kangaroo carrier

Friday, June 26, 2009

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Dopp kit (24D: Dopp kit items -> COMBS)

From "World Wide Words"

[Q] From Wiley: What does the dopp in dopp kit (shaving bag) mean, and where did the term originate?

[A] I am indebted to the American Dialect Society, and in particular to Jim Rader, for the answer to this question, which otherwise I couldn’t find in any of my reference books. The word Dopp is a registered trade mark of a man’s toiletry kit. It was designed by Jerome Harris for his uncle Charles Doppelt, a German immigrant to Chicago in the early 1900s. So it’s presumably an abbreviated form of Mr Doppelt’s family name. The word became widely known during the Second World War when GIs were issued Dopp kits. The company was purchased by Samsonite in the early seventies.

A lovely themeless Friday puzzle from Lynn Lempel, whose byline I haven't seen for a while (or so it seems). A real start-and-stopper. Took a little time to get traction in the NW, and then boom, I torched the whole west coast. Tried to come back up the center and got stopped cold by what turned out to be SIT BY, which I couldn't parse to save my life (35A: Be indifferent). Rebooted very quickly in the NE with a STEN / EVENT / OVERDO combo, which took me back to the center, and once that was done, down the east coast. Last stand was the SE and man, it was ugly. If I ever heard of BENGHAZI (33D: Libya's second-largest city), I forgot about it. No problem, just work crosses. But no ... a very plausible, very wrong answer got me stuck in a very deep hole. Went with BANNED instead of BARRED at 39D: Forbidden, and then, with the "O," the (erroneous) "N," the "S" and the "E" in place, wrote in NONSENSE for 46A: Cry of reproof. Now I knew something was wrong very soon thereafter, as I could get no vowel to make sense in the answer N-RE for 46D: It's taken for a ride. Only by taking out NONSENSE (which, I'm telling you, felt Soooo right), did I finally get / see FARE, and then things fell from there.

Other stellar error of the day @5A: Lower Slobbovia creator: saw the phrase "Lower Slobbovia" and already had -APP and so without even blinking wrote in LAPP. I figured that was the name of place that LAPPs live. Then I saw the "creator" part of the clue and thought ... how does a LAPP "create" the place where he lives. Then I noticed the cross: LAMDEN? I don't know New Jersey, but ... oh, #$#!, CAMDEN. CAPP. "L'IL ABNER!!!!!" [shakes fist at sky]

Speaking of comics, the first issue of "Barack the Barbarian" came out on Wednesday. It's a CAMPY (32A: Like drag shows) political parody comic, and I got two issues so I could get both covers. Not surprisingly, it's the second of these that sold off the rack:

I was so, so proud of myself for getting the NW relatively quickly — specifically, for sniffing out AAA MEMBER. First word in grid: LIANA (2D: Tropical climber). Crosswordese. Also the name of dear friend / ex-student, and a novel by Martha Gellhorn, FYI. Somehow, I guessed that 3D: Check from a deck? was AVAST, but the double-A it created with LIANA seemed wrong, so I didn't write it in. But I knew (in my bones) that "tower" in 17A: One calling about a tower, maybe had to refer to a tow truck, and eventually, the AAA part clicked and AVAST and AAA MEMBER went in and I was off.

Biggest FAIL of the day was trying to come up the middle from down south. Had the -GAR part of CIGAR (32D: It usually has a band around it) and tried every vowel in the pre-G slot and couldn't get anything to make sense. "-AGAR ... HAGAR? ... -EGAR? -IGAR? -OGAR? -UGAR? SUGAR? Does SUGAR have a band around it? Did ELGAR? Nope, I got nothing." Moron.


  • 18A: 1998 Grammy winner for narrating his book "Still Me" (Reeve) — Double meaning of "still" there always made me a little uneasy.
  • 26A: "All the world's a stage" monologue setting (Arden) — as in "The Forest of ..."
  • 40A: Kangaroo carrier? (Qantas) — Q's were very uncoverable today. Had the "QA" beginning of this answer before ever seeing the clue, so ... easy. In the NE, GEEK SQUAD (11D: Techies affiliated with a major electronics chain) was pretty easy for me, which left only the small matter of figuring out how COLLOQUIUM got shrunkified? COLLOQUY feels familiar, but in a twenty-years-ago kind of way: "Hey, didn't we go to high school together? COLLOQUY, right?"
  • 50A: Walled-off enclave in Iraq (Green Zone) — oooh, good answer.
  • 53A: Franklin in Phila., e.g. (Inst.) — wanted MINT, but that's not an abbrev.
  • 20D: Guy who needs no 24-Down (baldy) — shouldn't there be somewhere in the clue that signals derisive name-calling :)
  • 41D: Bridge guru (Goren) — even though he's apparently in newspapers all over the country, I learned about him from crosswords.
  • 42D: Family car, informally (wagon) — I was expecting something Way more informal. Like "Family Truckster"

[Metallic Pea!]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

My write-up of today's LA Times puzzle is here.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


J & K 9:04 AM  

This puzzle was a Scrabble letter bonanza. Prompted the question: Has anyone ever done a crossword using only the Scrabble tile letters? I suppose the grid ideally would emulate the array of bonus squares.

fikink 9:05 AM  

We actually had a conversation once on the origin of Dopp kits.
Kudos, Lynn Lempel, for such a refreshing (to me) puzzle. Only one and a half abbreviations: FDA and DNA; lovely fill: COLLOQUY, CAMPY, ASSUAGES, TEMPERED, PEENS.
Loved REDSQUARE and GEEKSQUAD. I could list the whole much texture. What a pleasure!

Hobbyist 9:05 AM  

Very good puzzle and fun but I missed the top corner. Mistook flail for slain and stuff like that.

Anne 9:25 AM  

This morning while checking a credit card, I got an offer to travel on Qantas, so that immediately came to mind and helped a lot in the SW. I used the dictionary to check colloquy, a word I don't see very often, and Benghazi, a city I never remember seeing. I liked the connection of flat/AAA member and baldy/combs. Generally, I thought the fill was good, but doable. So no agony for me today for a change. Bring on Saturday.

Unknown 9:30 AM  

There is one of everything possible named after Ben Franklin in Philly. I put in PKWY for Parkway (very near my house). I liked this puzzle, but when I read a clue like 'the second largest city in Libya,' I know I am going to have to look it up sooner or later. I mean, if I had AEAZPYTRI from the crosses, I still wouldn't know if it were correct. I looked it up and find that I should remember it since Reagan had it bombed. I wonder if Benghazis like us.

HudsonHawk 9:31 AM  

I thought we'd get a picture of Ben Gazzara today. Well, that's who I think of when I hear BENGHAZI.

Great puzzle. As KDH pointed out, this one felt Scrabbly. It seemed like a pangram, but it was short a J and an X.

I had ___M_M_ER for 17A and felt something must be horribly wrong, even though I was sure that "tower" was being used this way. ALBEE cleared it up nicely.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

I had to google CAMDEN and BENGHAZI to finish sorting this one out. Up top, I thought CAPP might be (Groucho) MARX, or that the Jersey city was DARIEN (which turns out to be in Connecticut). Down below I couldn't come up with a word to complete __DYE (which seems easy in retrospect).

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

This puzzle was as medium as someone who can't even tell the present. bah.

...presently on my third dopp kit...

Anne 9:51 AM  

I just finished reading yesterday's comments and thought it was interesting. I think we do a good job of getting along and respecting each other, especially if you consider how different our lives and schedules must be. And there's always some difficulty in fitting into a new group, at least for me.

Dough 9:55 AM  

The word "fumier" is kind of clumsy in English, but in French, it means "manure," which is so much more fun! Come on Will! I thought this was a terrific Friday offering. I never heard of Geek Squad, but it solved itself pretty easily. @Rex, thanks for the information about the Dopp kit. New to me.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Is "marriage" really an occasion
(48A)? I would have thought "wedding" was the occasion and marriage was more of a life-time thing.

Otherwise, fun puzzle.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

For those of you who don't know New Jersey geography, CAMDEN is the least Whitmanesque spot in the universe. I know NJ, had the CAMD__ and just couldn't conceive of the possibility that CAMDEN and Whitman belonged in the same sentence.

I know 100 years ago it was a Cambell's food town, probably consisted of the tomato soup processing plant and 1000s of acres of tomato farms, but still.

imsdave 10:37 AM  

Incredibly similar solving experience to Rex's, except that I finished in the middle. Also had --GAR and couldn't see it (this is really embarassing as I partake). Camden came instantly as I once performed in Thornton Wilder's "The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden". Finally cleared up the center when I got GATES (again embarassed, as I just reread "Gates of Fire" last month). Seek that one out, by the way, if you haven't read it and have any interest in ancient Greece.

Excellent Friday. Thanks Ms. Lempel

Jeffrey 10:43 AM  

Wonderful puzzle. One of my favorites of the year. Tricky but fun and solvable.

Charles Goren died in 1991, but his column goes on. Written by grid friendly Omar Sharif at one point (still?) I believe.

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

Very enjoyable medium Friday.
Fun misdirection from clues like Ivory-covered.
Lived a lie was nice and timely for a certain governor.
World Wide Words is a fun site. I receive the weekly newsletter every Saturday morning and find it entertaining and informative.
The isolation of the NW and SE corners of this grid made them almost mini puzzles on their own. Thanks Ms. or Mr. Lempel.

DJG 10:50 AM  

Agreed. Excellent Friday puzzle!

My only quibble is that the grid felt too sectioned off. Two more properly placed symmetric black squares and you get three disconnected grids. It would have been nice to see things a bit more open, but no biggie.

Upon coming here I realized I made a mistake. I had LANDWAR instead of GANGWAR. BENDHAZI and LOREN were just as plausible to me as the correct answers.

Ulrich 10:58 AM  

I also liked this puzzle a lot b/c of the fill, and like Rex, had to come up the middle, in fits and starts, from the SW to finish.

As I've been to BENGHAZI (46 years ago!), that answer was easy, except for the spelling, which is different in German. Speaking of which, "doppelt" means "double" (adj.), and until today, I never, ever had heard of a Dopp kit. I don't know how I reached my age w/o knowing the things I learn from xword puzzles!

slypett 11:07 AM  

Whew! Frustrated, I googled REEVE, BARKIN and BENGHAZI and still had trouble. I resisted AAAMEMBER till the cloud passed, etc.

All in (I had ALLIN till the end for FLAIL) all, a puzzle I enjoyed and felt good about.

Ruth 11:14 AM  

I thought REDSQUARE and GREENZONE lined up in a nice colorful fashion. Didn't know Ellen BARKIN was in Ocean's Thirteen. I like her. Wasn't planning on seeing that movie because O-12 was such a yawn, but for her, I might relent. Glad she's still working.

jae 11:22 AM  

Yes, delightful puzzle. On the easier side for me. No guesses (the crosses took care of BENGHAZI) and a very smooth solve. Only hiccups were BANNED and MINT and those didn't stay very long. Gotta love stuff like GEEKSQUAD, GREENZONE, and REDSQUARE.

Re: yesterday's discussion, if I don't have time to read the comments I don't comment. To me it would be rude.

John 11:35 AM  

The middle section was my downfall, Vast emptiness like the Sahara desert. No amount of help helped. I guess that's what you call a dead zone . Still, a Very enjoyable puzzle!

Geometricus 12:07 PM  

Had to Google 5 clues: Still Me, ARDEN, CAMDEN, Dopp kit, and BENGHAZI, which because I saw it on a map of Libya, had it as BANGHAZI at first. My 47-year-old eyes need more and more help lately.

The Geek Squad started here in Mpls-St. Paul as a computer repair service which sent young precoscious know-it-alls in classic cars (such as old VW Bugs painted black and white) around town fixing computers. They hit it big when electronics mega-retailer Best Buy (also headquartered here in the Twin Cities) made Geek Squad their in-house computer techs.

Denise 12:36 PM  

I spent all my time in the SE corner -- it HAD to be MINT! I can be stubborn.

A friend of a daughter's wrote a great book about the GREEN ZONE -- "Imperial Life in the Emerald City."

fergus 12:40 PM  

Goren, in spades! Excellent grid, though the Clues didn't seem that daunting. Also found the NW the most reluctant to drop since there wasn't much to build on in that isolated zone. With PER then PIES, things took shape fairly swiftly.

What if our BALDY has a moustache, though? Sharing the Y with CAMPY probably rules that out, however.

JannieB 12:54 PM  

Great Friday puzzle - last letter for me the "G" at the Goads/Gates crossing. Never thought goad was also (primarily???) a noun.

Each quadrant had one or two really great answers, and the cluing was first rate. Only groan from me was at "fumier" - a small price to pay for an otherwise super puzzle. Thanks!

mac 12:57 PM  

I loved this puzzle! My first word was "liana", and that was that in the NW.
I started in the SE with mend and green zone, filled that area, then did the SW and crept up to the NE, finishing with "flail". There were several words that just popped out of my brain, like Benghazi, for shame, colloquy and assuages, and they were extremely helpful, of course.
I guess I was on Lynn Lempel's wavelength today. Thanks!

PlantieBea 12:58 PM  

Fun puzzle. I had to google the Dopp kit and CAMDEN. I ended up with BENGHAZM and MN ST, thinking the latter was an abbreviation for a Franklin Main Street. Otherwise it was smooth solving in fits and spurts.

Other mis-starts were VAMPY for the drag show and NYLON for ORLON, both of which were easy enough to fix.

chefbea 1:22 PM  

A bit difficult today. Had to google and still couldnt finnish. I knew dopp kit - thats what my father used but I now refer to it as a toiletry bag.

Daniel Myers 1:31 PM  

This was the easiest Friday puzzle I think I've ever come across (pour moi). Wednesday's was the toughie.-

-A personal note on DOPP kit, I've known about this since I was a (t)wee lad because my father always packed up this little bag which he pronounced as if it were "Dope kit" before he went on business travels. I don't know if that's an English pronunciation or what, because I have never heard anyone but my father use the term. He probably just fluffed it, though, along with many other words. As he was wont to say, "I are an engineer." (aeronautical)

Ross G-Whiz 1:39 PM  

over on Walt Whitman's side of the fence (but not in CAMDEN) my marriage has been entirely misses-free.

anyone else notice the CIGAR peeking down from the CAMPY drag show?

Charles Bogle 1:50 PM  

Thanks @Rex for terrific write-up; while I couldn't get to first or second base w this interesting puzzle maybe someday I will having the benefit of reading how any expert's mind approaches these very tough ones-

edith b 1:55 PM  

The CAPP/CAMDEN cross was a neon for me as I was familiar with both Lower Slobovia and Walt Whitman but this was one tricky puzzle. Thank God I am good with names or the North would have been a disaster.

I knew BENGHAZI but I had no idea where it was but I managed to piece it together and it helped me a lot in the SE as it gave me the second G in GANGWAR. I was able to run the East Coast based on BARKIN REEVE.

I had the hardest time in the Midlands but it helped that a long time ago I gave my husband a DOPP kit for Christmas and COMBS gave me CIGAR and that bailed me out in the SW.

Campesite 2:20 PM  

@KDH, last Friday on his blog Brendan Emmett Quigley posted a positive review of Frank Longo's Vowelless Crosswords, which just might interest you.
Nice puzzle today.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

@Crosscan said...

Charles Goren died in 1991, but his column goes on. Written by grid friendly Omar Sharif at one point (still?) I believe.


For the record, written by not-grid-friendly Tannah Hirsch (an Israeli resident in the USA). Sharif (an Egyptian resident everywhere) has his name still on it on some syndications, but has more recently focused on his acting career, according to Wikipedia.

Here is a current example of this rather spooky single-ghost authorship ("Goren Bridge with Tannah Hirsch"). "With" indeed! I guess "by" would lose some of the cachet of the Goren name.

Presented by me as a personal friend in the past of Tannah (who is much the better bridge player than Sharif, IMO), and an acquaintance through tournament competition of Goren and Sharif.

Larry the erstwhile-bridge-expert Lurker

ArtLvr 2:23 PM  

Excellent puzzle! I liked COLLOQUY and thought it might be the Word of the Day? All went fairly smoothly until I got to the last corner...

Big trouble in the SW, where I was chagrined not to get Bridge guru GOREN right away or the MGM lion (groan) -- I wanted Heal for MEND. I even briefly contemplated Buggy for family WAGON and Et Tus for famous last words. Gulp, FOR SHAME! I finally tried BARRED for Banned, and it all unwound with the BUN for the dog's place, plus MARRIAGES and AMENS. Definitely a toughie for me today!


andrea sitby michaels 2:56 PM  

Love Lynn Lempel!

REDSQUARE and GREENZONE since they are the same amount of letters seem like a Monday dying to happen.
Lynn? SHall we?

Easy breezy, fast...till I came here and realized, as usual, two mistakes!
I left LI_BY/GA_ES which I couldn't parse. Why I thought LATEEN not SATEEN I will leave to my therapist to work out.

(I also initially had GREENACRE, thinking the boys over there had some weird, CAMPY 70's thing going on.)

Thrilled to hear the Minneapolis lore!

and @Rex
"COLLOQUY feels familiar, but in a twenty-years-ago kind of way: "Hey, didn't we go to high school together? COLLOQUY, right?"

hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee :)

Ulrich 3:55 PM  

@Andrea (fill in the blank) Michaels: Add "blue movie" and "yellow dog", and the two of you are in business!

Clark 4:16 PM  

Very smooth puzzle. Tough, but no stumbling blocks. Seeing Toe-Er right off the bat got me off to a lucky start.

COLLOQUY is very much in use as a scripted back and forth on the record in a congressional hearing that is supposed to convince a court in future litigation that Congress intended this or that.

Senator: Do you mean, Madam Chairman, that this bill to declare August 'National Raspberry Month' is intended to provide a lower income tax rate to anyone who is a regular commenter on the Rex Parker blog?

Chair: Yes, Senator, that is the intention of the bill.

Senator: Thank you Madam Chairman.

archaeoprof 4:33 PM  

I like this one too, even though I couldn't really get going in the NW.

The ORLONs were a pretty successful group back in the early 60s. The first record I ever owned was their "Don't Hang Up."

Don't remember my first dopp kit...

andrea flail michaels 4:39 PM  

Thanks, it's a bit trickier than see, they sort of all need to be place names and the same amount of letters (which yours were), but perferably more than, eg YELLOWRIVER (11) and BLUEHAWAII (10! Damn)
See what I mean? It needs to be a color, plus something else consistent (in this case place) and a bit no YELLOWDOG.

Close but no CIGAR.

HudsonHawk 4:59 PM  


andrea enviously michaels 5:30 PM  

@Hudson Hawk! Yes! and one more 12, place name to go with ZONE, SQUARE, COUNTY... (now preferably not a primary color)
(I'm starting to feel like Tom Sawyer)

PuzzleGirl 5:36 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Lynn Lempel is so smooth! When I put BANNED in I said to myself "Now, you need to remember when you get down there to really work on that corner that it could be BARRED." Why do I think those kind of mental notes will work? It finally clicked though. I loved so many of the answers today: SIT BY, AAA MEMBER, LATE FEE, FOR SHAME, DNA SAMPLE, ENVIOUSLY ... good stuff all around. (Well, except for FUMIER.)

@XMAN: That's funny that you were thinking ALL IN for 1D (Beat). I actually thought of it for 43D (Famous last words).

Jeffrey 5:39 PM  

I'm having dinner tonight at PURPLE GARDEN (honest) but that may be too obscure.

Stan 5:47 PM  

Really liked this puzzle (once I got through the difficulties already pointed out). Somehow it seemed fresher, different and less crosswordy than most.

I've had numerous Dopp kits (without ever having heard that word) back in the Orlons period. Like tie clips and cufflinks they were considered appropriate Holiday Gifts for thirteen-year-old boys.

andrea purplecow michaels 5:49 PM  

Actually I have come up with two 11s and am gonna folks can take off their thinking caps if they want...Let's hope it's not a FLOP

Daniel Myers 5:55 PM  

@Stan---Remember my speculation as to the possible appearance of my fave musician, Robyn Hitchcock, in a crossword? Well, back in 2003, a Friday...Check it out!


Daniel Myers 5:59 PM  

Oops! 42A

Stan 6:07 PM  

Thanks Daniel -- I will check that out

Bob Kerfuffle 6:21 PM  

One of the rare times I sat down and did the puzzle uninterrupted, pen to paper. Took 16 minutes, a little longer than it should?

Just one write-over: Had 29A as PRODS before GOADS.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
HudsonHawk 6:27 PM  

Looking forward to whatever you come up with, Andrea. I was also thinking about the IVORY COAST, but alas, it's too short.

retired_chemist 6:52 PM  

Liked it - not to rave about, but a solid themeless. GEEK SQUAD was nice. ENVIOUSLY even nicer. FUMIER - not.

Easy gets: QANTAS, CAPP, COLLOQUY, STEN, YOKE, GOREN (still dead AFAIK), GREEN ZONE. Faied to see until LOTS of crosses: COLLOQUY, GANG WAR (was GO TO WAR), SATEENS, AAA MEMBER. Have recently used my AAA membership for a FLAT.

Fun. Medium is right on.

michael 8:45 PM  

I saw the name Lynn Lempel and thought "isn't she a Monday constructor? Maybe this will be easy." And it was easy for me -- more like a Wednesday than a Friday. But I see that for once I found a puzzle easier than others.

Does Charles Goren still have a byline for his bridge columns? Like Ann Landers (or is it Dear Abby?)....

mac 10:08 PM  

@andrea pink elephant michaels: that was fun! Give us some more tasks, please!

Lisa in Kingston 10:35 PM  

Gee, I haven't had time to read the blog or the comments (srsly), but I must say thank you to Lynn Lempel for a puzzle I could not complete before noon. Good one.
Maybe I'll finally get it done sometime tomorrow if my bees don't swarm. Happy summer, everyone!

sanfranman59 10:55 PM  

This week's numbers ... the number in parentheses is the number of solvers.

Mon (all) 6:16 (905) prev 2 week avg: 6:58 (908)
Mon (Top 100) 3:25 prev 2 week avg: 3:43

Tue (all) 9:03 (694) prev 2 week avg: 8:13 (877)
Tue (Top 100) 4:35 prev 2 week avg: 4:12

Wed (all) 17:19 (574) prev 2 week avg: 13:18 (674)
Wed (Top 100) 7:54 prev 2 week avg: 6:30

Thu (all) 15:16 (657) prev 2 week avg: 14:40 (631)
Thu (Top 100) 7:02 prev 2 week avg: 6:53

Fri (all) 24:44 (444) prev 3 week avg: 26:39 (459)
Fri (Top 100) 11:39 prev 2 week avg: 11:13

Singer 6:03 PM  

Seems like most of you had the greatest trouble with the center. Other than having PRODS instead of GOADS, the center was really easy for me, but the NW was really nasty. I had LIANA, TEMPERED and CAMDEN quickly, but had ALSOP instead of ALBEE and ALL IN instead of FLAIL. I knew that the one calling a tower had to have something to do with car trouble, but LA_M_MSER wasn't doing it for me. Getting ALBEE helped, because now I had MEMBER, but still didn't see how LA_ MEMBER should be AAA MEMBER, event though I am one.
It was a fun puzzle though.


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