Tableware inspired by Scandinavian design — MONDAY, Aug. 10 2009 — One-toothed dragon of old children's TV / Pirate support stereotypically

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: HANDSET (27D: Phone part ... or a title for this puzzle?) — first words of theme answers are all parts of the hand

Word of the Day: DANSK (42A: Tableware inspired by Scandinavian design)

Aug. 4, 2009

Theodore D. Nierenberg, who started Dansk International Designs in his suburban New York garage and helped popularize Scandanavian-themed tableware and cookware in American kitchens and dining rooms, has died. He was 86.

The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, his daughter Karin Weisburgh said Tuesday. Nierenberg died Friday at his home in Armonk, N.Y.

The company's motto was "from the kitchen to the dinning room table" because its pieces' sleek, clean lines were both functional and beautiful, said Weisburgh.

The Dansk line included wooded salad bowls and trays, stainless steel flatware embellished with exotic woods such as teak, glassware and porcelain-coated steel casserole dishes with lids - known as Kobenstyle - in an array of colors. For a time, the company also produced textiles that included placemats and tablecloths. (AP)


An elegant and vibrant Monday puzzle. This is everything a Monday puzzle should be — tight theme, zippy theme answers, and fabulous non-theme fill throughout. The whole puzzle just dances. Wonderful. Felt tougher than an average Monday, but my final time says otherwise.

Now I'll point out the faults, just so you all don't think I'm taking happy pills or have completely lost my edge after a few days in the beautiful Colorado sun. MKTS (9A: Stock exchanges: Abbr.), TETR (64A: Four: Prefix), and DBLS (42D: Two-base hits: Abbr.) all kind of make me gag a little. But, as I've said before, when tiny awkwardness helps you anchor an explosion of longer, gorgeous answer, well then, who cares? Every puzzle is going to have a little crap fill. Put it to good use!

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Examiner of heart and life lines (palm reader)
  • 10D: Slow pitch with a little spin (knuckle ball) — wish this clue didn't have "a" in it.
  • 25D: Messy art medium for kids (finger paint)
  • 56A: Small bottle in a purse (nail polish)

Happiest intersection of the day: PEGLEG PENPAL! (46A: Pirate support, stereotypically + 46D: Someone from whom you might collect exotic stamps)


  • 38A: Pond organism (alga) — the seldom used singular. One of the few words I can think of where the Latin "ae" plural is a common word and where that plural ending is pronounced with a long "E" sound
  • 15D: Louis Armstrong's instrument (trumpet) — maybe a little Louis on a Monday would be nice...

  • 22D: 1930s boxing champ Max (Baer) — second-greatest boxer in CrossWorld
  • 30D: What the Hatter and the March Hare drank (tea) — past tense feels weird here. Did they drink it before the book starts? Action in a fictional narrative is typically referred to in the present tense.
  • 40D: Insurance giant in 2009 news (AIG) — seems appropriate that AIG ABUTs SNEER.
  • 47D: One-toothed dragon of old children's TV (Ollie) — pal of Kukla and Fran. Love the wording on this one — my favorite clue of the day. I would love to see KUKLA in the puzzle.
  • 54D: Prince called "The Impaler," who was the inspiration for Dracula (Vlad) — everything after "Impaler" is unnecessary. If you don't know it from "The Impaler," you aren't going to know it from the Dracula trivia (though maybe the clue is trying to instruct as well as entertain here).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Greene 5:23 AM  

Terrific Monday puzzle: quick, fun, tight, and with VLAD the impaler yet. What's not to love?

Kukla, Fran, and OLLIE were an integral part of my childhood and I always thought Burr Tillstrom (the show's creator) was a genius. Here's a link to a lovely song called "The Two of You" written for the show (but never used) by Stephen Sondheim. You can hear the song by clicking on Steve's photo once you get to the page.

Crosscan 8:07 AM  

VLAD is an OLAF.


This puzzle gets a YEE-haw!

chefbea 8:10 AM  

Easy Monday puzzle. that setting of Dansk flatwear looked like mine. Use to be a Dansk store in Norwalk. Went there all the time!

Why is call on the carpet=rebuke?

PIX 8:16 AM  

Agree with medium (for a Monday); never heard of Dansk.

@Chefbea: "call on the carpet" = "To reprimand; to censure severely or angrily" when you mess up and the boss calls you on the carpet to rebuke you.

Sara 8:38 AM  

@chefbea: As it happens, Jim Horne has the history of "call on the carpet" over at Wordplay.

treedweller 8:39 AM  

Yes, the KNUCKLEBALL clue needed to lose the "a". As written, it implies that most pitches have no spin, but this one has a little. In fact, most pitches have tons of spin, but KNUCKLEBALLs have virtually none, which is what makes them float unpredictably.

But the puzzle was good--just a quibble.

joho 8:43 AM  

What a great way to start off the week!

Loved FINGERPAINT to the left of NAILPOLISH.


Lots of X's and K's ... just a J and a Q short of a pangram.

Thank you, Paula Gamache!

fikink 8:47 AM  

At the risk of appearing Rex's toady, I must totally agree with his assessment. This puzzle is elegant. If I timed myself, it might have been one of my fastest - doing it was like riding a wave.

@Rex and treedweller, I appreciate your parsing of the KNUCKLEBALL clue. Knowing very little about sports (American football being the exception), I would not have known that clue was in error, really.

dk 8:55 AM  

Still have the Dansk salad bowls from the outlet store in Freeport Maine. Along with Merimekko fabric's and big round Japanese Paper light covers Dansk stuff was the first foray into home fashion for the Woodstock Generation.

See Cyra McFadden's "The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County for a deadpan parody of the aforementioned post-Woodstock life.

Talking the Twins (age 13) to a Woodstock tribute on Saturday. I often bore them with stories about riding down on my motorcycle with my cool girlfriend on the back (Hi Sue S. where ever you may be). Still have my tickets... I hate people who live in the past, don't you?

Interesting story in NYT today about people now starting the day with electronic communication.... what kind of loser would begin the day.... oops, err.

Gotta go.

Handily done puzzle Ms. Gamache.

retired_chemist 8:57 AM  

Good Monday puzzle. Easy – medium with a nice theme. Few writeovers - ZEAL was about my third effort for 1A; also expect I wasn’t the only one to start with ALOE for BALM @20A .

PlantieBea 9:17 AM  

Beautiful Monday puzzle with substance. I had to write-over BALM for ALOE. Have to wonder how many women have bottles of nail polish in their purses. Thank you Paula Gamache for another fine puzzle.

PhillySolver 9:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
PhillySolver 9:36 AM  

Really good Monday puzzle. The timing maybe a day off tho...The USPO will unveil a series of stamps honoring early television tomorrow.

The shows getting the Post Office's stamp of approval are:
Kukla, Fran and OLLIE; The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; The Dinah Shore Show; Dragnet; The Ed Sullivan Show; The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show; Hopalong Cassidy; The Honeymooners; Howdy Doody; I Love Lucy; Lassie; The Lone Ranger; Perry Mason; The Phil Silvers Show; The Red Skelton Show; Texaco Star Theater; Tonight Show; Twilight Zone; and You Bet Your Life.

Looks like a whole series of crossword clues.

Joe 9:49 AM  

fun puzzle. PEGLEG!

@dk: on the subject of digital mornings, what is the puzzler breakdown between online apps and pen-and-paper filling? Are there stereotypes? Advantages?

John Wilwol 9:53 AM  

I'm a little new at this, and perhaps you guys can help me out with a crosswordese question. Shouldn't 58-down read, "Equal: Puffix"?

John Wilwol 9:55 AM  

Sorry, I meant "suffix." So embarrassed.

Denise 10:02 AM  

Armstrong/Cash a big treat to start my day!!

I could not find my error -- added two minutes to my time -- I had Duex instead of DOUX. Oh well . . .

I loved "Kukla, Fran, & Ollie." I believe it was a 15 minute show --- and then there was that wonderful singer --

Hmmmm -- the past.

PurpleGuy 10:09 AM  

Like others have already said, a breezy and fun puzzle.
I had the "B" from LAMB,so I knew 20a was BALM.Being a singer,thought of "There Is A Balm In Gilead."

Thank you Ms.Gamache for a delightful way to start the morning, and the week !!

Ulrich 10:11 AM  

Thx, PG!

@John Wilwol: If "puffix" were a word, what would it mean?

Re. Dansk design: Post-Woodstock or not, I'm very fond of it--here's me having morning coffee in a Dansk cup on a self-built deck. We bought these cups when the line was being discontinued, and I've been kicking myself for not buying all that were left in the store--they held up wonderfully over 25 years...

XMAN 10:12 AM  

Exactly as fikink said: "like riding a wave."

Ever since "My Cousin Vinny," MARISA Tomei has been one of my favorite actresses, along with Michelle Feiffer (you gotta see "The Wolf" with Jack Nicolson, James Spader), Julia Roberts, Helen Mirren, and Posie Parker (among others).

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

JohnW -- "iso" is a prefix, not a suffix, e.g., isometric, isopod.

Crosscan 10:35 AM  

Puffix must be related to a stud puffin. Orange?

fikink 10:36 AM  

@twangster, also isotope

@JohnW, were you thinking about suffixes for software files? good point!

HudsonHawk 10:39 AM  

Nice puzzle, PGamache. I can see why John W was thinking suffix: I had ISE/DEUX before correcting to ISO/DOUX.

@dk, I remember seeing the movie version of Serial when it came out in 1980. I still laugh thinking about some of the dialogue between Tuesday Weld and Sally Kellerman. Not fit to print here, however.

Elaine2 10:43 AM  

Agree that this was a lovely puzzle.

Interesting thought brought to mind -- how long before "Handset" as a "phone part" (as opposed to the whole phone...) becomes a complete anachronism?

Happy Monday, all.

John Wilwol 10:49 AM  

Ugh. I'm fairly new at this. I had filled in "ISE" for 58-down, thinking that 66-across was, "Billet deux", like, "letter for two" or something. (I speak no French.)

What would a "puffix" be? Hmmm. Cross between a puffin and Ajax? Something to repair a chimney? The newest treatment for tobacco addiction?

Jim in Chicago 11:04 AM  

A fun Monday that was a bit harder for me than usual.

I had a fair amount of overwriting, the best example of which was when - based on the NA - I wrote in NASALSPRAY where NAILPOLISH ultimately went.

foodie 11:05 AM  

@John Wilwol: Billet DOUX is I think a lovely phrase meaning literally a "Sweet Note"... DOUX being the sweet (and in other contexts-- "Soft") part... Think Italian equivalent, DOLCE, as in La Dolce Vita...

Love Dansk and I have the dinnerware. As DK indicated, when we first started our household, it was a way of being stylish without being like stodgy. And I love modern design.

@Ulrich, a lovely deck and setting!

Oh, the puzzle-- I liked it but for some reason I did not love it as much as some of you...

Stan 11:38 AM  

Very smooth and unforced puzzle. Liked the array of Down and Across theme answers with HANDSET centered in the middle.


Kurt 11:45 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Thanks Paula. Loved the commentary. Thanks Rex.

On the KNUCKLE BALL issue, my understanding is that to be effective -- meaning the ball moves unpredictably as it nears the hitter -- a knuckle ball must "turn" less than one rotation on its 90 foot trip to home plate. Otherwise the pitch flattens out (goes straight) and batters have a field day.

I think Paula is correct. One rotation is for sure "a little spin".

HudsonHawk 11:59 AM  

Have to agree with Rex and treedweller, "with little spin" works better than "with a little spin" for a KNUCKLEBALL. Watch Wakefield on a windy day (fun with alliteration!).

JC66 11:59 AM  

I usually try doing Monday puzzles using only the across clues but today, for no reason, I decided to try using only the downs and just tore it. Fastest Monday ever.

However, IMHO one loses some of the enjoyment inherent in puzzles constructed with their primary focus on the horizontal.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Beautiful Monday puzzle. Got SINE from the Ventura winery 'Sine Qua Non.' Read about them recently in an old Fortune magazine from '07 tucked away in a BofA magazine rack. Taking Latin in the fall. DANSK was pretty rad too.

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

Easy for me. No stoppages, just forged right through. This clue was way too much of a gimme: "Louis Armstrong's instrument" TRUMPET. That's a seven letter no-brainer

Denise 12:48 PM  

Kate Smith.

still_learnin 1:03 PM  

I'm starting the week with one mistake. I had ISE/DEUX and didn't check the down clue. Darn!

Otherwise, an enjoyable puzzle.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

@ Denise... Kate Smith?

Bob Kerfuffle 1:13 PM  

I believe "puffix" is the term used to describe the method by which a puffin affixes studs to his leather jacket. From the Latin, derived from the Greek, ultimately traceable to the Sanskrit . . .

chefbea 1:18 PM  

@JohnW etal I'm thinkin' cereal when it comes to puffix - a cross between puffs and Kix (or trix if you like those better

Charles Bogle 1:19 PM  

Great write-up, also @Joho, @PlantieBea, totally agree..particularly liked:PEGLEG, REBUKE CUBICLE YEE LEE SNEER any other votes for Marisa TOMEI's "My Cousin Vinny" for greatest all-time lawyer movied?

Any other votes

ArtLvr 1:22 PM  

Me too -- one of the fastest, nicest, etc. Mondays!

44A's clue, "Call on the carpet", evokes a similar old-fashioned phrase: "Give a dressing-down", i.e. REBUKE.

Did anyone try to fit in a double-l "Carrel", handy for a READER, where CUBICLE belonged? It would MESH with CLASSIC studies...Or consider that "Cuticle" would fit well with the NAIL POLISH of HANDSET?

More uses of prefix ISO- in isobar, isomer.

Congrats to the Anon who's starting Latin this fall. And thanks to Paula G: lots of fun!


p.s. My piano teacher of years ago was a cousin of the Fran featured with Kukla and OLLIE. Her family was from Switzerland, but I'm not sure Fran was...

dk 1:38 PM  

@Ulrich, great deck... and you shudda got the rest of the cups.

@Joe, no idea. But I could make something up and publish it.

@Hudsonhawk, thanks for reminding me of the movie.

retired_chemist 1:42 PM  

I think a PUFFIX is a florid, self- (or other-) aggrandizing prefix or suffix, viz.:

I am the {bestest, mostest...} [something].

His/her [something] is {mega-, humongo-, ...} terrific.

Bootylicious is another example of the genre.

Two Ponies 1:51 PM  

Very nice puzzle.
The fill was as fun as the theme.
I call pillow cases and sheets by the plural linens (as in Linens 'n' Things).
You know it's Monday when someone's typo gets as much chatter as the puzzle.
Puffix sounds like a cosmetic surgery to give you plump lips.

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Fran is Fran Allison. Show originated from Chicago. My favorite was Ollie--doing the "Oliver Twist" when he would twist his head over. And Beulah witch who was always ready, honey! Sorry for you youngsters who never saw them.. Oh yes, Hugh Downs was the original announcer.

JannieB 1:58 PM  

Fastest Monday ever for me - but a pleasure all the way.

@Twoponies - good point - the better the puzzle the more we have to focus on off topic things to chat about.

@dk - you crack me up!

@r_c - you might be on to something.

George NYC 2:12 PM  


I read "with a little spin" akin to taking coffee "with a little sugar." So was A-OK with me. Except it reminded me of the current absence of Wakefield from the Red Sox rotation...

The mound is 60.5 feet from home plate.

Stan 3:03 PM  

I think a 'puffix' (combining 'prefix' and 'suffix') is an element inserted in the center of a word: e.g., 'un-flipping-real' or (Brit.) 'fan-bloody-tastic''

Bob Kerfuffle 3:16 PM  

@Stan - Just to keep up our credentials, there is already a term for an element inserted in the center of a word: it's called an "infix"!

andrea the impaler 3:17 PM  

I loved starting with ZEAL and ZAP.
Very breezy and just short of a pangram, which I think I semi-convinced Will has some merit as an extra touch/lagniappe? (What is that crazy word I learned for the extra dollop, treat?

This isn't a quibble, just a thought on construction... usually you have to put the theme in a different context, not dead on...
like I think I would have liked this a touch better if PALMREADER were PALMSPRINGS and KNUCKLEBALL were KNUCKLEHEAD, etc. so you "discover" the "HANDSET" (which does already strike me as an anachronism) in a slightly more puzzle-y way, do you know what I mean?
Maybe that would make it a Tuesday?
Oy, what with FIVE theme answers again, so beautifully crafted, Paula Gamache continually raises the bar!

sanfranman59 3:18 PM  

Monday midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:24, 6:58, 0.92, 29%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:44, 0.98, 46%, Medium

VenusInFurs 4:06 PM  

A puffix is clearly a puffin dominatrix. And don't make me punish you if you disagree.

edith b 4:39 PM  


Is OLAF your neologism? I find it perfectly apt. I liked all the long acrosses and the long downs as clues to the theme.

Especially liked PETE in celebration of Woodstock.

Crosscan 4:45 PM  

@editb - Yes, Rex's description of VLAD is the definition of an OLAF: If you can't get an obvious answer from the first part of the clue, the second part will be of no additional help.

fergus 4:55 PM  

Complete Monday pleasure, sitting on the porch, filling the grid with green ink. Never even looked who the constructor was until I ventured here, and not surprised to find that one of the true masters of this artform was the constructor. (In England they say 'set by' rather than 'constructed by' and I find that a slightly better way of attribution, though still lacking somehow.)

andrea swee' michaels 5:01 PM  

PERFECT!!!!!! and 21 letters to boot!
Put it on a list...I still want to do a second one with some of the leftovers (just don't give them all away!)

Oh! And I forgot to mention I didn't know you could drop the "T" on Sweetpea! Swee! Good to know.

Finally, your Olaf is taking hold!
Do you think SWEE, YEE, LEE, TUTEE was intentional?

Din with your Puzzlesis tomorrow! Can't wait. Wish you were here.

Robert 5:16 PM  

Has puffix entered the rexicon somewhere after natick?

retired_chemist 5:21 PM  

@ Robert -

We have not agreed on a definition of puffix (and may never), so it's hard to enter it in the rexicon. But rexicon is a good one.....

VenusInFurs 5:23 PM  

@RC - You want me to beat you? Because I will, and you will like it!

fergus 5:28 PM  

Just had one of those conversations where I chose to shut up and listen, instead of prattling on about why I agree with Rex about the extraneous article in the Clue for KNUCKLEBALL. In times past, I may have bored my interlocutor with such vital minutiae, but now I know I can find sympathetic ears for my trifling, or more often, the trifling thoughts that have already occurred to others, more concisely stated. As several of us have noted in the past, any conversation regarding the puzzle ought not go on for long with those who don't share this persuasion.

fergus 5:32 PM  

And if I tried to explain Puffix to anyone, the best I could get would be a polite, skeptical, and most likely false chortle.

To the beach! It's 65 degrees, whereas yesterday at this hour it was 91. I'm happy either way.

foodie 5:45 PM  


Yes, yes! you put your finger (ahem) on it! That's why I did not love the puzzle as much as everyone else. I could tell it was very beautifully done, construction-wise, and theme rich. And I really liked PEG LEG crossing PEN PAL and Billet DOUX along with SWEE Pea and many other lovely juxtapositions. But, where the theme was concerned, there was no...puzzlement...

Re the clue for NAIL POLISH... Really? People carry it in their purse? I would have sworn that a man wrote that clue, but may be it's because I don't wear NAIL POLISH (not standard attire in a research lab...). But I immediately had visions of spilled NAIL POLISH all over everything..

Bill from NJ 5:56 PM  


Off-topic from yesterday but I didn't have an email address for you so I left a comment on your blog in reference to George Higgins.

If you want more information, you can find my email address in my profile. Drop me a line if you are interested as Higgins is special to me.

treedweller 6:05 PM  

I see your point on the theme, though I'm glad KNUCKLEBALL made it because one of my favorite Rangers (Charlie Hough) threw them. Into his forties, IIRC.

@Charles Bogle
I'm too wishy-washy to declare a "greatest" anything, but I'll add a vote for two other lawyer movies: "A Few Good Men" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." I'll stop there because I kinda like the genre, and if I think of any more, I'll want to vote for them, as well.

@Bill from NJ
Thanks--I'll check on that and maybe contact you after. Still got some catching up to do on my current reading before I go pick up the Higgins.

chefbea 6:12 PM  

Hooray!! I found a definition for puffix.

chefwen 6:35 PM  

@fergus - I like your definitaion for puffix the best, I can even hear it.

I still use my Dansk dishes after 38 years of marriage, hey I was a child bride, suitcase in one hand, bag of Pampers in the other. Down to 6 dinner plates though, might have to break down and buy something new.

Nice puzzle, only one write over.

XMAN 7:18 PM  

Eh, Chefbea, are you there? I found "puffix" to be clumsily defined, but the usage is preemptive. LOL (as much as I ever do).

Mike the Wino 7:20 PM  

@anyone who knows--is there a search function on this site where I can type in a keyword(s) to see if they have been used before, and which offers up possible places to look for them in the archives? If it's here, I'm blind!

Oh, and like most everyone else, we really enjoyed Paula's puzzling prowess today. Most excellent way to start the week!

Two Ponies 7:21 PM  

Wow chefbea, Way to go! Is there nothing that has escaped slang? I'd be dead meat on the streets these days.

JC66 8:30 PM  

@Two Ponies

Yo're absolutely right. It says something abut a pizzle that so many comments resolve abound a typo.

sanfranman59 9:27 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation.

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:30, 6:59, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:32, 3:43, 0.95, 44%, Medium

joho 9:46 PM  

@Foodie ... my nails aren't painted anymore, but when they were, I most definitely carried nail polish in my purse wherever I went ... chipped nails must be fixed whenever necessary. Nail polish at the ready! (Oh, and it never spilled.)

fergus 9:52 PM  

chefwen -- I am startled and amused.

So frequently I try to find the inherent meaning, and so when some new planet streaks across our skies, I'm kind of keen to explore.

foodie 10:36 PM  

@joho, thanks for enlightening me! I'm such a nerd : ) Of course, it makes perfect sense that if you're meticulous enough to polish your nails and care enough to carry the bottle, you'd make sure it was tightly capped! I do carry lipstick in my bag (along with my beloved MacBook Air), but I often smush said lipstick down in my haste... So, I guess I better stay away from decorating my nails or my laptop.

Stan 10:46 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Seriously, thanks for 'infix' -- I'm now one word wiser.

@Andrea: I'm so flattered! If I have any other bright ideas I'll list and send off-blog...

Tre och O-U-T

fergus 11:12 PM  

foodie -- a new English verb "to smush" meaning to combine scattered thoughts or hope to retrieve the many fine objects in one's purse or backpack.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP