THURSDAY, Jun 4 2009 — Former org protecting depositors / Classic brand of liniment / Old Al Capp strip _____ an Slats / Gathers on surface chemically

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Constructors: Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty
: Easy-Medium

THEME: PETE ROSE (34A: With 35-Across, on who has done the circled things, combined, more often than any other major-league player) - "circled things" are letters arranged on diagonals to resemble the base paths of a baseball field, and each type of hit that PETE ROSE got is spelled along its corresponding "path," i.e. SINGLED stretches from home to first, DOUBLED from first to second, TRIPLED from second to third, and HOMERED from third back to home again. The puzzle pays TRIBUTE (11D: Reason for a medley, perhaps) to ROSE's RECORD number of career hits (45D: 34& 35-Across's 4,256 career hits, e.g.)

Word of the Day: ALIENOR (27A: One who is no longer entitled) - n.

One that transfers ownership of property to another.

Got off to a strange start on this one, as I went POSTURE (13A: Poor thing about a slouch) to PICARD (13D: Enterprise-D captain) to DETONATE (30A: Set off, in a big way) very quickly, and then with a few more answers polished off in the NW, I looped back up from DETONATE to TEST SITE, thus circling the wagons before I'd even properly finished off the far NW (usually I move more methodically, and it's smaller answers that fall early). Once that corner was done, I looked at the circled squares, saw TRIPLED, and immediately filled in every other circled square in the puzzle — all before the 1 minute mark. Scanned the puzzle for the theme-revealer and lit on the clue for RECORD, which led me to 34 & 35-Across, and I was done with the theme part of the puzzle. Completely. With nearly 3/4 of the grid left to fill in. So, now, to that point, I really liked the puzzle. Looks great, tight theme. I'm a baseball fan, so I was pleased to pick up HITS AT (36A: Attempts to strike) and LEGEND (32A: Bigger-than-life persona) (symmetrical!) as well as TRIBUTE as bonus theme answers.

But as I dutifully filled in the rest of the grid, the whole endeavor got less and less pleasing. There is a high percentage of iffy to mind-bendingly terrible fill here. And not chippy little stuff, but some long, garish stuff. MORELAND (39A: Georgia birthplace of Erskine Caldwell)? It's a place, but not a terribly ... hell, not even remotely famous. The fact that Erskine Caldwell - an author who was tremendously popular 60+ years ago but whom no one reads now - was born there does nothing to up its crossworthiness. FSLIC is more sound effect than government agency. "Former org.," current ugh. ALIENOR speaks for itself (27A: One who is no longer entitled). "It's time to play ... ALIEN OR Not Alien!? First up: Joan Rivers!" Only the puzzle's general easiness can explain the clue on ABBIE (21A: Old Al Capp strip "_____ an' Slats"). That is a jarring attempt to toughen up an otherwise soft puzzle. And a "Classic" brand of "liniment"??? (52A: SLOANS) What year is it? "Former," "Old," "Classic" - you're running out of synonyms. Lest you think I don't like this fill simply because it's old, I give you EDUARDO (55A), who, like MORELAND, is a big "!?!?!?!" And I saw "The Blair Witch Project."

If my wife's solving experience is any indication, many of you will have struggled (if you struggled) in the SW, where maybe you put in IODINES instead of IODIDES (37D: Salt add-ins), and were thinking Quakers or train stations at 48D: Penn and others and thus never saw SEANS coming. Or maybe, like me and my wife, your first answer for 59A: Last of the French? was DERRIER, and not the correct DERNIER (pretty cute, that screw-up). In the end, I'm left ambivalent - loved the time I spent taking in the theme (all 90 seconds), but had less fun over the next several minutes filling in the remaining blanks.


  • 1A: Source of the line "Frailty, the name is woman!" ("Hamlet") — unhappy with mom
  • 54A: "Can _____ Witness" (Marvin Gaye) ("I Get a") - torn. Ugly long partial, but fantastic song:

  • 3D: Highest peak in the Philippines: Abbr. (Mt. Apo) - MT. APO : Me :: Waterloo : Napoleon. I remember defeats, so I remembered this.
  • 10D: Gathers on a surface, chemically (sorbs) - almost as pretty as FSLIC
  • 12D: Apostle called "the Zealot" (St. Simon) - a legitimate question about the abbreviation "St." — why does "MT." require an "Abbrev." signal in the clue, but "ST." doesn't? Same number of letters. Both common words. Seems on odd convention to me.
  • 40D: Bank controller (aileron) - Loved this. Really loved it. Great misdirection on the clue. ("AILERONs" are the wing flaps that control a plane's banking movements)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


JannieB 8:09 AM  

Curiously, I thought you might be guest-blogging over at Orange's; then when I read this write-up I thought you'd pulled a switcheroo.

I too filled in all the circles after finishing the NW, and it helped solve the rest of the puzzle. Last thing I entered was the "S" in Sean Penn - drew a complete blank. And I have no clue what "Astolat" might be - must head to Wiki.

I guess this week's puzzles are a tribute to feats of construction - the fill has certainly been less than stellar.

Rex Parker 8:27 AM  

Last night was one of the very, very rare nights where Orange and I had an email exchange about the puzzle before either of us wrote it up. We were on Eerily similar wavelengths. Unlike yesterday.


ArtLvr 8:39 AM  

Even I have heard of the notorious PETE ROSE and his LEGEND, so it wasn't hard to see the drift after getting the NW and seeing DOUBLED. As Rex and JannieB and Orange have noted, the fill has a few good ones but also some real clunkers.

Do people really say DREADS for Dreadlocks? Also, MORELAND was the pits, never mind the GEL clue (better related to hair?)... The RAREBIT and TEMPURA didn't make this a whit tastier!


Orange 8:44 AM  

@Jannie: Hah!

My prediction last night was: Most people will rave about this puzzle and about a quarter will grumble. So far, the bulk of my commenters are in the "bleh" camp, which surprised me. The impressive diagonal basepath entries are a terrific feat of construction, sure, but the luster is dimmed by things like MORELAND and FSLIC. I'm also in the "What, we're glorifying gamblers who get kicked out of their sport?" camp.

Orange 8:45 AM  

@ArtLvr: Absolutely people say DREADS. There's also the dreaded (to me) subcategory of "white-girl dreads" and "white-boy dreads."

JannieB 8:48 AM  

@Rex & @Orange - how funny! I was just thinking that Orange was more critical than usual in her blog, and Rex seemed a bit more mellow - compared to yesterday, at least. Seems like there was indeed a meeting of the minds.

And ArtLvr - yes, they are usually referred to as "dreads".

PuzzleGirl 9:00 AM  

Theme is very cool. "Bonus answers" are awesome. Fill is, how can I put this? Just awful. A golf club has a TOE? GIL is an apt name for a what??? Both ALEE and ALAE? MORELAND? EDUARDO who?? CITRONS? Yuck, yuck, yuck. Also not a big fan of the clue "Shooter on the playground": "See, I'm gonna try to make you think of some maniac showing up at a school and blasting away all the little kids, but really all I'm looking for is a marble!! Get it?"

Anne 9:03 AM  

Alien or not alien - Joan Rivers - now that's funny. I think I'll play that game a lot now that I know about it.

I am definitely at a solid Thursday level as this was easy, breezy fun with no errors - I knew his name had to be Eduardo. I saw the theme as soon as I reached 34A and thought it was cool even though I am not into sports at all.

I did not know that I knew Mt Apo but remembered Rex's story instantly when I read the clue.

I have a 70 year old friend who just cut off her dreads after 17 years and that's definitely what she called them.

And finally I loved Marvin Gaye back in the day and this one of his best songs.

Arghhh! Friday.

Wayne Rhodes 9:09 AM  

So yesterday's theme was lame (TWENTYSIXSTATES) but today's was good??? It's a theme! And is today Pete Rose's birthday or something?

I agree that there were some obscure clues / answers. Yesterday we had "Jagr", which few outside of serious hockey fans would know. So today we could have had "Cubs outfielder in the 80's" for (Keith) "Moreland". About as obscure as the Caldwell clue!

nanpilla 9:10 AM  

I laughed out loud when I saw MTAPO. None of us will ever forget that little piece of geography!
I loved how the base paths and even bases were implied by the black squares, and a little pitcher's mound in the middle. I was willing to forgive some lousy fill. This had to be really hard to make, and everything was gettable from crosses.

Wayne Rhodes 9:11 AM  

Puzzle Girl: an ichthyologist is a fish scientist, so a good name for him would be Gil. Get it? Gill! A very clever clue IMO

Rex Parker 9:13 AM  

PETE ROSE is a thing. TWENTY-SIX STATES is not a thing.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Moreland was a stretch as Caldwell was born in White Oak, Coweta county, per Wiki. Puzzle Girl a golf club has a toe, heel,sole, hosel, shaft and grip. Golfballman

Anne 9:15 AM  

@Poc - Donaldson said he was a newbie; let's give the guy a break.

@Fergus - A triumphant closing yesterday.

Best, Anne

Wayne Rhodes 9:16 AM  

Rex: OK...I see your believe the theme should not be arbitrary or abstract. But isn't that what many rebus puzzles are?

SoWal Beach Bum 9:20 AM  

Can't get excited one way or t'other about the puzzle itself, but for carrying me back to my Shindig days, Rex, I thank you heartily.

HudsonHawk 9:23 AM  

Put me in the DERRIER camp. Took me forever to see SEANS. Ivy league school, train station, statesman, D'oh!

@PuzzleGirl, as golfballman pointed out, the head of a golf club has a toe and a hosel. It's best not to hit the ball with those parts, though, as you'll get the shanks. Ouch!

JC66 9:26 AM  


Many playgrounds have backboards with baskets where people SHOOT all day long.

edith b 9:34 AM  

In the '50s, the Washington Post ran five(!) pages of comics daily, running the gamut from Juliet Jones to Steve Canyon and any number of one-blockers like "It'll happen every time", most of which are forgotten today, most for good reason.

I read all of them, every day as an 11 year old and "Abbie 'an Slats" was one of them.

This puzzle reminded me of those days, everything from soup to nuts and at the heart of it - a baseball theme.

I enjoyed this one no end as it reminds me of my early days of doing crosswords and why.

It was a pinball machine of a puzzle, bouncing from pop bumper to pop bumper.

Gnarbles 9:42 AM  

I thought an "alienor" was something from the game of horseshoes, no?

chefbea 9:44 AM  

A fun easy puzzle for a thursday, and I'm not into baseball - but I have heard of Pete Rose.

never heard of sloans or ailtron = my natick

Had derrier and iodine which fouled up the southwest

My father loved Welsh rarebit. Use to have it for lunch. Now you can buy the sauce frozen, heat it up and pour on your toast

joho 9:44 AM  

I appreciated the diamond and how the theme progresses around the bases from SINGLED to HOMERED. Definitely a worthy Thursday even with some lackluster fill. It's hard for me to imagine how difficult this had to be to construct.

Opus2 9:48 AM  

Ah, baseball trivia. Ya gotta love it (though maybe not as much as we Canadians love hockey trivia; even casual hockey fans know JAGR).

As soon as I saw 4,256 two names came into my mind: Pete Rose and Ty Cobb (of course, Ty is more closely related to the number 4,189).

Many people think that Pete was a lifetime Cinci Red, but that's not so. In fact, I'm surprised that neither PhillieSolver nor CrossCan hasn't waded in yet to remind everyone that Pete played for the Phillies but also the Montreal Expos before returning to the Reds.

In fact, Pete hit his momentous 4,000th hit wearing a Montreal tri-cap at Olympic stadium. I know; I was there.

fikink 9:55 AM  

Has no one mentioned that ALIENOR and AILERON are anagrams and both clues suggest something to do with assets or am I blind?

Unknown 9:56 AM  

I am impressed with this puzzle based on the difficulty inherent in doing a puzzle where so much of the fill (squares and quadrants) is prescribed by the theme. I would have preferred a different anchor, but the record holder for most hits is appropriate. Rose was a cheat, but unlike the steroid users, his accomplishments on the field were not due to illegal substances. Today, professional sports hardly deserve the admiration of children. I suspect that Rex is correct that this one is either pretty easy or pretty difficult based on just a few crossings.

Bill from NJ 10:01 AM  

There is something schizophrenic about Pete Rose as he represents both the absolute best and worst aspects of a true sportsman.

I read his book "Pete Rose - My prison without bars" and it just reinforces the best-worst idea.

As a lifelong baseball fan, I love/hate Pete Rose.

toothdoc 10:02 AM  

This was a puzzle grid that you want your non-puzzle solving friends to see you completed b/c it looks tough - but I agree standard Thursday.

12D (ST.SIMON) bugged me both because it had an abbreviation that wasn't clued and because the clue implied his name prior to being sainted (he has never been called Saint Simon the Zealot) - my understanding is the Zealots were a political group fighting against Roman occupation. A pretty minor grievance, I admit, but this is a Thursday NYT, not the KC Star, I expected more attention to the detail.

Ulrich 10:19 AM  

When I got PETE ROSE and the theme hint, I did expect answers like DID DRUGS or BET ON GAMES--but no cigar. I appreciate the neatly constructed diamond patterns, but there doesn't seem to be anything Pete-Roseish about singling, doubling etc. I'm no baseball expert, but I swear I have seen other players do the same.

And repeat after me: THERE IS NOTHING OBSCURE ABOUT JAGR, followed by NO SINGLE PERSON KNOWS EVERYTHING THAT IS WORTH KNOWING. And some of us could do with a little humility. OK, I got this off my chest (to the umptieth time, I may add) and can now go back to my current DIY project.

Jeffrey 10:22 AM  

Finally! A Montreal Expo's theme! YOUPPI!!! Can Rusty Staub, Randy Johnson and John Boccabella be far behind?

Opus2, I was at Pete Rose's 4000th hit game as well(April 13, 1983 - home opener I believe); why didn't you Tweet me?

[Speaking of old technology, I wonder how many youngsters are wondering why Aretha Franklin's video was so boring to look at]

We will not mention that I put BABE RUTH in the theme answer spot first. Did you know Babe Ruth hit his first home run as a professional in Toronto?

I Sandy'ed IODINES.

retired_chemist 10:23 AM  

@ fikink - AILERON is a wing flap that controls how the airplane banks, as RP said. I agree - way cool clue.

Enjoyed this one. With 10D SORBS, 49A XENON, 51A PIPET, and 37D IODIDES there is an unusual amount of chemistry here. In keeping with that (non)theme, wanted TEST TUBE for 6D but it didn’t make any sense. ☹

Growing up a Reds fan, I enjoyed the PETE ROSE actual theme. Thought the diamond was way cool, and it DID help me in solving, which such stuff mostly doesn't. Agree with Bill on Pete - love/hate him.

Had ASTELOT for 2D (conflated with CAMELOT I think), EEO for 43D (another acceptable answer ‘cept the crosses didn’t work), DRAW TO for 7D (ditto), and BURET for PIPET @ 51A (ditto ditto).

Thanks, MESSRS. Collins and Krozel.

The Cunctator 10:28 AM  

Ugly, ugly puzzle.



Then there's the Latin REA and ALAE






ick ick ick.

The bingo anagrams (ALIENOR and AILERON) are cute, though.

Unknown 10:28 AM  

Hubris got the better of me. When I saw the two four letter blanks in the center of a baseball theme, I immediately filled in Babe Ruth without checking any crosses. It was easily corrected, at least.

It's a little weird to see a puzzle paying tribute to Pete Rose, given his semi-exile status. Too bad. He was a big part of the Phillies' 1980 championship, an iconic moment of my childhood.

fikink 10:35 AM  

@R-C, yes, I got AILERON from the crosses and then found out its meaning after completing the puzzle and looking it up. This made the misdirection in the clue particularly clever to me and then to discover it was an anagram of another assets clue added yet another layer of encryption.
All of which made the puzzle more textured to me ...but maybe I am doing too many Cryptics?

Tony from Charm City 10:36 AM  

I liked the puzzle itself. The only clue I really griped at was the Al Capp clue since, not to be too anal, he's been dead 30 years so ALL his strips are old.

As for Rose, put him in the HOF already and end this stupid debate. If the HOF only had angels in there, you'd need to take nearly all of the original members out and several of the others. Ty Cobb was not a nice guy.

I fully understand that Rose disgraced himself by betting on his team while managing, but how did that really hurt baseball? Also, it's been over 20 years! I really think that if Bart Giamatti hadn't died, Rose would have been reinstated by now, unapologetic or not.

archaeoprof 10:39 AM  

Why so grumpy? This was a good Thursday. My writeovers included lofts/COOPS, dissed/SASSED, ahand/ANEAR, and (of course) derrier/DERNIER.

@Bill from NJ: Well said! As a Cincinnati native I love/hate Pete Rose. Love him for the way he played the game; hate him for what he did to it.

@Ulrich: with all due respect, perhaps you have overlooked Rose' achievement, i.e., more hits than any other player in history. And over the course of his career he played 2nd base, right field, left field, and 3rd base. One of a kind.

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

This has been a week for constructors with little regard to solvers.
This puzzle is the worst of the bunch for this solver.
I'd rather watch paint dry than sit through a baseball game.
Painful ugly fill.
The only clue I circled because I liked it was Bank Controller.
Yuck, these guys have done much better work.
What cleverness awaits us tomorrow?
Something more entertaining than this I hope.

Denise 10:44 AM  

Late last night, maybe because I am flying today, I decided to try something new == "playing against the clock." Well, I am usually not so fast but generally 100% correct -- not last night -- three times I got the message that the puzzle was incorrect. Oh well. By the time I fixed everything, I didn't care about the clock.

There were a lot a tricky little spots in this puzzle!!

jae 10:48 AM  

I always like it when getting the theme early facilitates solving. Mostly liked the puzzle. Had the problems Rex predicted in SW plus DISSED for SASSED. Also tried COLORED. I have the same mixed feelings about Rose as others and am not sure he deserves a TRIBUTE puzzle.

mark 10:52 AM  

It's a pretty obscure connection, but MORELAND may well be thematic too. In addition to playing for the Cubs in the later 80's (per @wsrhodes), Keith Moreland was a teammate of PETE ROSE on that 1980 Phillies championship squad.

I'm a lifelong Phils fan, and I only remembered that myself because MLB Network showed some of the '80 NLCS just this past weekend.

"Bank controller" for AILERON is one of the best clues of the year.

retired_chemist 10:53 AM  

@jae - Charlie Hustle won two Gold Gloves. I say millions for defense but not one cent for tribute.

slypett 10:55 AM  

Once I had EEL, it was all over. I had a lot of fun running the bases--literally, that's how the solve went. Needless to say (but, yecch! I said it and double yecch! for calling attention to it), this was my fastest Thursday to date.

TAW brought to mind the game of Scully that we kids used to play with bottle caps filled with wax. It was highly competitive and, surprisingly, the best athletes were best at this, too.

Susan 10:56 AM  

I agree with toothdoc about St. Simon. I knew the answer was Simon but was baffled by having two extra letters. Took the crosses to figure it out.

Also, can someone please explain 52Down Speaker of the diamond?

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

I think AILERON was thematic also, as they probably had them on all the planes that flew the PETE from city to city.

Wayne Rhodes 11:05 AM  

Re "Speaker of the Diamond" - This is Tris Speaker, another great old-time ballplayer (and a hall of famer too!). This is a common crossword answer; even if you don't know who he was, this cryptic clue will be a gimme from now on!

dk 11:18 AM  

To quote the Joker & archaeprof: "Why so serious?"

@ulrich, I do know everything, most of the time. Just ask me, that is if your insurance covers psychotherapy :):)

Today I did not know TAW even though I played pottsie with my aggies back in the day.

As @edithb said this was a pinball game and one of those baseball pinball games.

I hit a grounder to left field and was held at second base with TAg instead of TAW and DRAgIN instead of DRAWIN. You folks brought me home.

The design of this puzzle more than makes up for any fill issues. This is a RAREBIT of construction and that should not be IGNORED.

My grand-ps had the same bottle of SLOANS in the Medicine Cabinet for about 35 years. I think my sister has it now. I got the ashtray with with the tire around it... promo from Goodyear circa 1956. We would sometimes roll it across a sibling/cousins mashed potatoes if they were foolish enough to leave the table. I won't even tell you what we did my grandmothers china pigs, I will say when STY is the fill I always chuckle.

Off to get dried mustard and CITRONS to use in a caper-based sauce fo da salmon I be grillin 2nite. I love summer.

mccoll 11:21 AM  

I thought this was a good puzzle in many ways. Quite a construction feat. I liked it better than yesterday's, which has a "Who cares?" element to it.
The puzzle was dead easy, but FSLIC. Get a grip! I had to guess ASTOLAT too, but I got it right.
Small rant.
Pete Rose was a hell of a ball player. He could turn a game around single handedly and he did so many times. He came across as an arrogant jerk and he probably was one, but people don't get to his level because they teach Sunday School. They can play!
Those who can't separate his character from his accomplishment are being puritanical.
@Crosscan. No wonder you're an Expos fan.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 11:31 AM  

Three-way checking is tough. And yeah, once I got TRIPLED, the other four fell immeidately. So from that perspective, this puzzle gets an "approved."

PETE ROSE, although he still is the record holder, did this feat back in 1986, so it's not particularly timely. Did the constructors think of maybe losing the middle square and put two other theme entries?

chefbea 11:47 AM  

@dk sauce sounds yummy

Ulrich 11:49 AM  

@archaeoprof: My point exactly: If Pete Rose is being shouted out, I expect answers like HAD MORE HITS THAN ANY OTHER PLAYER or the ones I mentioned, not this generic stuff. As it stands, I think a stronger puzzle would have had e.g. BASE BALL as the two center answers, emphasizing the generic nature of the otherwise really impressive grid (BEQ seems to make a similar point).

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

This would have been so much better if PETEROSE were replaced by THECYCLE

jeff in chicago 11:52 AM  

In the first run through the clues I saw this would be a baseball theme and I thought, "Crap!" Not my game. But HAMLET, POSTURE, PICARD and HONOREE fell fast and I saw TRIPLED and immediately figured out all the circled squares. And with just the P in OPS I threw in PETE ROSE. FSLIC was a no-brainer; saw it all the time as a kid. CITRON is on many vodka bottles. (I prefer my booze brown and from the British ISLAs.) Knew that golf clubs have TOEs. Really liked FLATTAX, ROBOTICS and COLORIN.

One of my best Thursday times ever. Agree with nanpilla in loving the black squares as bases.

Blackhawk 12:10 PM  

I loved this puzzle. Again, I don't quite understand what the haters are missing. It has a fantastic theme, great construction wizardry, really fun clues and a neat look.

The more that time goes by since Pete Rose ran the bases, the more his accomplishments stand out. He had over 20 seasons with more than 200 hits. He hit to all fields, he hit for average and power, he played with passion, he played infield and outfield well. He won championships in two cities.

He obviously had some character flaws, which were disappointing, but as an athlete he dominated his sport like no other. To say he hit the cycle more times than any other player says it all: He was good on a scale that really doesn't exist anymore in an era of specialization. And by the way, he did it without steroids and in an era when players did not make $10 million a season.

As for the fill, here's the thing: I like learning that Erskine Caldwell was born in Moreland GA. There is nothing wrong w/ obscure fill, it makes crosswords fun. I knew a shooter was going to be a marble but for awhile couldn't remember that "i learned it from Crosswords" word. When I got it, that was a weird kind of "only in crosswords" fun moment.

The beauty of xwords is that they do serve as a crossroads of memory, like Proust w/ his madeleine. DK reached back for the Sloans and her grandparents. Pete Rose made me remember a time, growing up in SoCal, when it was so exciting to see the Big Red Machine coming to L.A. play the Dodgers.

Bravo to the constructors. Must have been a cool moment when you realized singled/doubled/tripled/homered were all the same length.

Rex Parker 12:14 PM  

I don't agree with some of the haters, but if you don't understand them, you just aren't reading.

BASE BALL cannot be split into two words. THE CYCLE wouldn't work either, not with grid as it currently stands. I have seen a puzzle based on THE CYCLE. In fact, I gave it an award a couple years back.

Best Early-Week Puzzle of 2007


pete1123 12:16 PM  

@ BEQ: Believe me, Joe and I considered many other baseball related themed entries before we landed on PETE/ROSE. Most of them were dismissed (and you can check with the Chief Grid Architect Joe Krozel on this) because a) they made the fill way too difficult, or b) being "baseball-related" didn't mean they were compatible with the SINGLED/DOUBLED/TRIPLED/HOMERED concept. We decided to go with Charlie Hustle knowing he is a bit controversial because his record fit so nicely with the theme. As for which side of the love him/hate him debate I'm on, I'm going to sit on the fence. I will tell you I still have a lot of sweet Pete Rose baseball cards from growing up in the '60's.

Pete Collins

Ulrich 12:22 PM  

@Rex: I know that. But the clue for 34A could be "together with 35A, a hint to todays's theme" and for 35A "see 34A". This would work precisely b/c the two words can stand alone as words.

Karen 12:31 PM  

I'm in the group that doesn't care for the Pete Rose debate and just wishes all the questions about having him go in the hall of fame would disappear.

I had problems with the SW corner, since I started with BATS AT and ENOS Speaker/Slaughter and Penn STAS. I never thought of derriere for the last thing, but knew of DERNIER cri. I didn't know what it means: "The latest thing; the newest fashion."

I had to look up MORELAND, since I was confusing it with Morehouse, and found one other famous (to me) person from there, the Atlanta columnist Lewis Grizzard, who I always associate with Erma Bombeck type humor. I loved the title of his book "They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat".

Karen 12:34 PM  

Blackhawk, I really appreciate your comment and your enjoyment of crosswords.

Blue Stater 12:46 PM  

Count me in the "bleh" camp, but that's where I usually am in the best of times. I got Naticked in the NW, with MTAPO and PICARD and all that; the rest was pretty easy and not terribly interesting.

fikink 12:49 PM  

@Ulrich, isn't the problem that you cannot put "syllables" together to form a third word? You would have the same problem if you clued GRID and IRON separately and then put them together for a reference to a third entity, football, wouldn't you? What am I missing?

@Blackhawk, I had the same experience with TAW. I'd forgotten, too, and it was cool.

hazel 12:55 PM  

Count me in the LOVED the puzzle, love/hate the man camp - Good description @Bill from NJ.

Other bonus theme entries to me include IGNORED and SASSED.

Mike 12:58 PM  

Yup, I'm solidly in the bleh camp on this one. Pete Rose, while one of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes to ever play professional sports, baseball or otherwise, is also one of the shadiest and most arrogant and defiant, and definitely doesn't need to be glorified in a crossword puzzle. And like a lot of others said, including Rex, the fill was really iffy in more places than it should be.

Still, insanely cool construction feat with the diagonals, great looking grid, and mad props for RAREBIT. Maybe my favorite word I've seen in the NYT all week.

I think we're all ready for some themelesses after these past couple of days. :)

jimweed 12:58 PM  

fun, cleverly-constructed puzzle. so many 7 and 8 letter words.

keith MORELAND was a teammate of PETE ROSE on the phillies in the early 80s.

poc 1:06 PM  

I think the theme, though cleverly instantiated, got in the way of a really good puzzle. I know nothing about baseball (though I have heard of PETEROSE) but still finished this in about 10 minutes, i.e. it was really too easy for a Thursday.

Oddly enough, two dictionaries give opposite meanings for ALIENOR: either someone who transfers title or someone from whom title is transferred.

Also, I've never seen PIPET, only PIPETTE, though it appears that both are accepted.

atomsforpeace 1:06 PM  

The circles didn't appear to those of us using Times Reader 2.0. Had filled in the other theme clues and then saw HOMERED going through SW and figured the rest out, but much more than 90 seconds in.

DJG 1:07 PM  

Despite being a die-hard Mariners fan, growing up thousands of miles from Cincinnati, I really liked Pete Rose as a kid for some reason. I remember once trading a Ron Romanick card for a Pete Rose card, and I put it in a special solid plastic case. The kid traded me because Romanick played for the Angels and his t-ball team was called the Angels.

Oh yeah, I also really liked this puzzle. The great theme execution more than made up for all the iffy fill.

Brian Cassidy 1:29 PM  

This would have been a decent puzzle...about twenty years ago. Why are we doing a Pete-Rose-themed puzzle in 2009? He's not in the news; he's perhaps even more discredited now than before. Don't get it. Coupled with the mediocre fill, felt VERY dated.

Eisenhower McSteele 1:33 PM  

A few people have said it, but Keith MORELAND and Bob DERNIER were teammates on the 1984 Cubs, and we also had LUIS Tiant and TRIS Speaker in this baseball-y puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:33 PM  

Should we count SLOAN'S (definitely not a plural) among the quasi-theme answers? I picture the old ball players using lots of the stuff.

I suffered from the phenomenon, which someone has previously named, of looking at the clue for 44A, Cheese dish, many times, and each time seeing "Chinese dish", until the completed answer forced my brain to see what was actually on the page.

Andy 1:37 PM  

The bad fill was the dealbreaker, that's why folks don't like this one. . I've noticed that the elite constructors are skilled at great feats of construction AND superb fill words.

FSLIC, MTAPO, SUMP, ALIENOR-only a few examples of bad stuff. Good fill words may not be important to some constructors, but we solvers (customers) notice when it's forced.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 1:38 PM  

Not to beat a dead horse here: Rose does hold the records for most hits and most singles, but Tris Speaker (he's in the grid) holds it for doubles, Ty Cobb for triples, and Barry Bonds* for homers. So in a sense having PETE ROSE in the middle of this otherwise impressive outer construction makes ZERO sense. Clearly there was something better to be done in the middle.

archaeoprof 1:39 PM  

@Brian Cassidy: dated? It's baseball season, and the Reds have a winning record. What could be more appropriate than a Pete Rose theme puzzle???

joho 1:42 PM  

I have nothing more to say except @dk I, too, ended up with TAg/DRAg like you and didn't know until I read your post!

@JannieB ... love your new avatar!

@Brian Cassidy ... just because something happened in the past does't diminish it's merits ... it seems like Pete Rose's accomplishments still hold up today. In twenty years from now will you say a puzzle about Michael Phelps is dated because what he did happened so long ago?

Clark 1:51 PM  

@poc, those are not opposite meanings of ALIENOR. If I transfer title to someone else (by, say, selling it or giving it away) I alienate that property, I am an ALIENOR. I transfer title, as the one definition puts it; I am the one from whom title is transferred, as the other one puts it. I transfer title from myself to the other.

I liked this puzzle. (I am liking more puzzles as, with practice, I am able to do more puzzles without cheating.) Nice to encounter a baseball puzzle that is solvable even without knowing much about baseball. TAW and ASTOLAT were knew to me, but the crosses were solid. MORELAND and EDUARDO were easy enough to guess after some crosses. But the latter left me with TRIS and DEE, which left me puzzled. TRIS cause I’d never heard of him; DEE cause I’m a bit slow.

Unknown 2:02 PM  

if you're going to use the german "erlkönig" please don't put the english "king" in the clue.

that posture/erl thing was killing me forever, before i realized he was looking for the german name without ever specifying it.

Clark 2:15 PM  

@Todd -- German, Erlkönig; English, erlking. ERL either way.

william e emba 2:29 PM  

Like eigenvalue, ERL-king is standardly half-translated from German to English. So it's entirely correct to clue it off of King.

In fact, because ERL itself is a mangling of "elf", it's best to not translate it.

PlantieBea 2:30 PM  

Very neutral about this puzzle since I haven't paid attention to baseball since we used to watch the Twins play ages ago. I knew enough to guess that the named theme player with two four-letter answers was likely Babe Ruth or Pete Rose. Struggled a bit with the ERL King, ASTOLOT and the crossing IN TAILS. Didn't like the ST. part of SIMON. Otherwise it was definitely an easy Thursday.

Favorites were PIPET/IODIDES and RAREBIT/MENU crossings along with XENON, CITRONS, SLOANS, and TEMPURA.

AILERON is my new word of the day.

Claire L 2:36 PM  

Rex, thanks for clarifying "Aileron" as a bank controller. Even though I was in the military for over 12 years and worked around planes every day, I just didn't make the "bank" connection. I have to admit that I thought it was a mistake. Sometimes I tend to take for granted how very clever these puzzle authors really are!

fergus 2:40 PM  

One impressive thing I learned about Pete Rose's character was how he managed to quit smoking: he figured pragmatically that it would give him an extra couple of seasons, to amass more hits. Simple.

BEQ -- I had the same sense of your dead horse, though the 'combined' does seem to make the Clue defensible.

Matt 2:40 PM  

I got DERNIER right away thanks to a couple years of French in college. I made many initial mistakes but my favorite has to be Reason for a medley, perhaps: TORTURE!

slypett 2:40 PM  

@Toots: Just as I suspected, Erl King or Erlking is standard English for Erlkoenig. (Ref. Wikipedia.)

JannieB 3:06 PM  

@joho - Thanks! I need to get her and the little one to sit still at the same time so I can photograph them together and be done with this "equal time" nonsense!

Anonymous 3:59 PM  

I just heard on NPR that David Carradine has hung himself in a hotel room in Thailand where he was making a film.
72 years old.
The inner peace of Kung Fu didn't stick I guess. Sad.

Doc John 4:02 PM  

I loved AILERON but have no idea what ASTOLAT is. (I put in an E for that second A :( )

Took a guess at PETE ROSE. I see him in Vegas every now and then giving autographs. He doesn't look happy. What a sad ending to a great career.

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

Pete Rose has been villified -- and virtually demonized by some. So how was he a "cheat," and how did he "harm" the game? His contributions to the game would outweigh any alleged harm he might have done, were it not for the horrified reactions to his private obsession. He generated real excitement.

There is no evidence that he bet against his own team. His gambling seems like a pecadillo compared to today's egregious offenses -- which have in fact seriously harmed the game.

To me, Pete Rose, aka Charlie Hustle, is a tragic figure. I was personally delighted to see this "tribute" to him, if indeed it was intended as such.

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

Pete Rose has been villified -- and virtually demonized by some. So how was he a "cheat," and how did he "harm" the game? His contributions to the game would outweigh any alleged harm he might have done, were it not for the horrified reactions to his private obsession. He generated real excitement.

There is no evidence that he bet against his own team. His gambling seems like a pecadillo compared to today's egregious offenses -- which have in fact seriously harmed the game.

To me, Pete Rose, aka Charlie Hustle, is a tragic figure. I was personally delighted to see this "tribute" to him, if indeed it was intended as such.

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

Uh, Pete broke the rules and admitted so. Seems reconstruction to call that harmless. I should sign up on blogger so I can point out that most of the useless stuff on this blog is 'contributed' by anonmice.


Noam D. Elkies 4:43 PM  

Well, this is one b*seball theme where even I knew all but one of the entries (52D:TRIS), which was enough to get the theme even though I don't know, nor can I much care, which record(s) P.Rose holds. So I can appreciate the construction (starting with the happy coincidence that <SINGLED> etc. are all 7 letters long) — and the constraints that forced compromises, some so regrettable that even Rex was moved to complain about a puzzle with the kind of sports theme he'd normally gush about...

Alienor — Eleanor: cute, and interesting cover. Gaye/Witness I can take or leave — no idea what's so "fantastic" about it. But no Erlkönig!? Foul!


HudsonHawk 5:01 PM  

@Anon 4:15, by betting on his team only some of the time, Rose was basically sending a message to the bookies to bet against the Reds when he wasn't laying a bet. And that is extremely harmful to the game.

I'm with BillfromNJ et. al. on the love/hate emotion. He earned his ban from baseball, and exacerbated the situation by lying about it for well over a decade.

treedweller 5:01 PM  

MTAPO!!! [shakes fist at sky]
I made the MOAPO mistake in Brooklyn; I read about it here after the ACPT; I commented on it here then; I got the MT early today. I still had no idea what the answer was. I saw "peak in the Philippines" and my geographobia kicked in (there's lots of languages in the worlld I know nothing about, and some of them might use the "mt" intro, for all I know). TRIPLED allowed me to sort that out, though (without ever recognizing it till I read Rex's writeup).

What got me was ASTOLAT/REA. I had RE_ in a Latin phrase; "res" was my best guess. I had to google "elaine king arthur" to sort it out. I also never heard of TRIS--Enos was there until I remembered to fill the circles.

Overall, I see the arguments against some clunky fill, but I really enjoyed the construction of the diamond. I'm off the fence on the puzzle's side, but I can still REAch the post.

As for ROSE, count me with those who would put him in the HOF. He was a great player, and his crimes (if you want to call them that) were no worse than any number of others who have been inducted (many of whom have also been indicted).

treedweller 5:04 PM  

Okay, before someone calls me on it, I can't name a single player in the HOF who has been indicted. There are definitely some pros who have been indicted, and some not-so-nice guys in the HOF, but maybe there's not much overlap in that Venn diagram.

Steph 5:07 PM  

As a casual baseball watcher from Cincinnati, I enjoyed the theme of this puzzle and got it pretty quickly.

As many others commented, the fill left a little something to be desired. Am I just too young to enjoy this puzzle? So many references to things I have never even seen, much less, heard of. I mean, honestly, "Sloan"? What about the Al Capp reference? Love the flat tax reference.

poc 5:09 PM  

@Clark: yes, you're right about ALIENOR.

Bob Kerfuffle 5:29 PM  

@Noam D. Elkies - Looking for the Erlking? Here's a cute version.

Stan 5:57 PM  

I just can't read this cranky blog today. (Sorry Rex, I know this is against the rules for late posters).

But I loved this puzzle!! Started it in the car on the way to see the Portland Sea Dogs pull out a dramatic eighth-inning win over the Binghamton Mets. During the first three innings or so I wrestled with all the issues folks have complained of (absolutely couldn't figure out why BABE RUTH was not working, etc.) But c'mon, we all pretty much got the answers after some thinking, right? And the theme was beautiful. Who knew that SINGLED, etc. all had the same number of letters? Plus the diamond shape. Plus the thematic extras already noted. And triple-plus, the presence of Luis Tiant (whose first name one commentor referred to as 'ugly'?!)

Babe 6:25 PM  

GEL is clued as "breast enlargement material." I wonder if the gents who write these puzzles ever use "penis enlargement" in their clues (it took three guys to write/edit today's thing). male body parts seem to be limits in the NYT puzzle. What would Freud say?

Oscar 6:34 PM  

Like most of Joe K's stuff, the best part is the look of the grid. It's all downhill from there. Maybe next time he'll come up with a uniting element and build a puzzle around it, not the other way 'round.

-O. the G.

Dirt Pile 6:42 PM  

The appropriate and more correct answer for 51A is "FLASK." Also, SORBS is pretty archaic and rare in the chemistry lab setting. If puzzles could be Aristotelian heroes, this one would be one.

Leon 6:47 PM  

Way to go Mr. Collins and Mr. Krozel.

I respectfully disagree with all who did not enjoy this one. Sunday to today has been one hell of a week for impressive constructions.

The comments were great this week too, even the ones I didn't agree with at all.

michael 7:53 PM  

I was really surprised to see a Pete Rose theme puzzle. A great player, but why? What next, a Barry Bonds puzzle?

rea/astolat tripped me up -- I guess most people on this blog know their Arthurian legends better than I do.

I'm with Rex on this -- great theme, but the fill was not wonderful.

foodie 8:03 PM  

I was trying to explain this feat of construction to one of my foreign students who doesn't know from baseball. The location of the bases, the location of SINGLED, DOUBLED, Etc, who PETE ROSE was, etc. He asked:So the player stands in the middle of the baseball field? (given the location of PETE ROSE in the grid...). Oh well...

Re the French rear end: the word is masculine (thankfully), but still ends with an e, so "Le Derriere", which saved me from any temptation to put in lieu of DERNIER.

The TEMPURA/ RAREBIT combo? not very appetizing, though I like them individually.

sanfranman59 8:25 PM  

Judging from the solve times posted at, this puzzle wreaked some havoc in the general crossword-solving public. First off, many fewer have completed the puzzle in less than an hour than did so Monday through Wednesday of this week. Here are the daily median solve times for the week (number of solvers under an hour is in parentheses):

Mon 7:10 (800)
Tue 8:20 (807)
Wed 9:51 (754)
Thu 15:36 (489)

mac 8:36 PM  

I can't believe that a sports theme actually helped me solve this puzzle in a very short time! And that a puzzle with more words and names I had never heard of in a very long time: Astolat (ret_chem: I had the same wrong reasoning), Sloan's, iodides, aileron, Tris. I like and dislike the flat tax.

I don't know much about Pete Rose and his misdeeds, but if they are letting people in the HOF with ***, maybe they should give him a spot, too.

When the Philippino mountain showed up, I immediately put in the MT, then hoped for the crosses to help me to the rest....

@Orange: thank you for mentioning Picard in a comment yesterday! Without it 13D would have been nigh impossible.

@dk: Your sauce sounds good. Just roasted some halibut and served it with a Key Lime mustard sauce. It was inhaled.

mac 9:42 PM  

@Southern Ma'am: happy birthday!

Lisa in Kingston 10:35 PM  

Posting again after the Friday puzzle is online...oh well. I had the same solving arc as Rex and many of you, but count me as ambivalent. On one hand, I appreciate the construction feat, but on the other, celebrating Pete Rose is a downer.
@joho, belated birthday greetings! Maybe we'll meet someday at ACPT.
@ southern ma'am, hope you had a wonderful day.
@ retired_chemist, tris could also contribute to the chemistry portions of this puzzle, but only a few of us would know it....(foodie?)

retired_chemist 10:44 PM  

@ Lisa - good one - didn't think of tris.

Charles Bogle 10:47 PM  

Call me a sore sport, but I love baseball, and cannot forgive Pete Rose for his wrongful gambling transgressions.

For those not in the know, against baseball rules, and the law, he frequently bet on games while he was a manager, quite possibly including games involving his own team, and maybe even betting on his team to win or lose by a certain number of runs that he could control

A societal misfit

They have kept him, rightfully, out of the Hall of Fame

So why in God's name is the best puzzle in the paper of record celebrating his unsavory "legend?"

What's next: a "Tribute" to Bernie Madoff as a pioneer of Nasdaq?

A tribute to public service featuring Eliot Spitzer, or Rudy B?

Anyway, I'm w your wife on this one: in addition to being totally uncomfortable w the premise/theme, I got bogged down in the SW quad

Usually I have few negative comments. But I found nothing to like in this puzzle. Will S should do some serios soul-searching about what he let in here. Serious, disturbing turn-off

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Pete Rose deserves a puzzle. He did far more good for the game than bad. He bet on his team, big deal. He didnt bet AGAINST his team. The steroid users cause far more harm to baseball and its records. Pete was an exciting player to watch, they didnt call him Charlie Hustle for nothing. Everyone should get off their high horses and acknowledge his accomplishments for what they were and to judge a player for what he did between the lines.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

@anonymous...Rose SAYS he didn't bet against his team, just as he SAID he never bet on baseball, or he never bet on a game that his team was involved in.
BS does not equal HOF

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

@anonymous 1.48pm - Enough water has passed under the bridge. For the good of the game, it is about time the Hall opens its gates for Pete before the game is destroyed by drug scandals altogether. As someone above alluded to; Bart G is dead let's all get over this.

slypett 2:22 PM  

If a tree falls in the forest...adding on to Anonymous 1:48: Amen.

Waxy in Montreal 2:14 PM  

Great puzzle though the 4,256 career hits clue made it a really easy Thursday for any avid baseball fan, especially anyone who followed Pete Rose's career closely. Pete Rose of the Expos - who would ever have thunk it!

And @Crosscan has it right - the Bambino's only minor league homerun was hit as a Baltimore pitcher in Toronto in 1914.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

@ artlvr....yeah, people really do say dreads for dreadlocks. In fact, that is usually what people with them call them! Or maybe dreadies...

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