West Side Story shout during Dance Gym / TUE 1-12-10 /  Bird known for making baskets / Tokyo-based synthesizer maker / Influential moneybags

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer and Rebecca Young

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Find Your Moos — Diphthong "yoo" is changed to "oo" in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: Satchel PAIGE (53A: Pitcher Satchel) —

Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige (July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982) was an American baseball player whose pitching in the Negro leagues and in Major League Baseball made him a legend in his own lifetime. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, the first player to be inducted from the Negro leagues. // Paige was a right-handed pitcher and was the oldest rookie to play Major League Baseball at the age of 42. He played with the St. Louis Browns until age 47 and represented them in the Major League All-Star Game in both 1952 and 1953. His professional playing career lasted from 1926 until 1966.

• • •

My time was slightly slower than usual today, in a way that is fairly typical when the theme answers are "wacky" this early in the week. Also, this grid has some pretty wide-open NE and SW corners, which take longer to navigate than more typical 3x4 or 4x4 corners. I didn't notice the theme til I was finished. Knew wackiness was involved, but couldn't quite tell what kind (obviously if I'd stopped to think about it for a second or two, I'd have seen it, but I don't ... "stop," really, on Tuesdays — head down, plowing ahead). Started out very frustrated, as I could not accept that CUTIE PIE (the base phrase for COOTIE PIE) was a [German dessert]. "That is bull&*$^, I've never heard of that," said the back of my mind as I raced forward into the rest of the puzzle. It was not til I was finished and reviewing the puzzle that I saw how badly (yet understandably) I had misread that clue.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Germy dessert, to a five-year-old? (COOTIE pie)
  • 30A: Grub consumed around the dinner table? (family FOOD) — "grub," following on the heels of "COOTIE," made me think some kind of insect or larva was going to be involved in the theme.
  • 46A: One who's daft about archaeology? (fossil FOOL)
  • 64A: X, to a pirate? (BOOTY mark) — I would have gone with [Ass tattoo?], but that's just me. As it is, this clue/answer is still the best of the lot by far.
Liked the puzzle fine, and especially liked the big corners and the parallel and adjacent long Downs in the NW and SE. Since the theme is not at all dense, it's nice to compensate for that by having a less choppy and claustrophobic grid than you often find on early-week puzzles. For the most part, after the German/germy confusion, there wasn't much that gave me trouble here. Took me longer than usual because I needed more crosses than usual to get the themes, but otherwise, all was pretty straightforward, except:
  • "MAMBO!" (31D: "West Side Story" shout during "The Dance at the Gym") — never seen it all the way through, and am only vaguely familiar with the music. The "MAMBO" song I know is "MAMBO Italiano," sung by Rosemary Clooney (Dean Martin also did a well known rendition). And then there's this:

  • APE (5D: Monkey's uncle?) — ... I'm not sure I'm following this, evolutionarily.
  • RFK (25D: ___ Bridge, connecting Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx) — don't live there, don't know. Had MLK at first, which left me with a bird called the LARMY at 24A: Bird known for making baskets. Eventually I worked it out — LARRY Bird was one of my boyhood idols.
  • AH-CHOO (52A: Sound before a blessing) — actually, this was a gimme, but this spelling always looks really suspect. Even after I wrote it into the grid, I thought "eh ... I don't know ..."
  • ALA. (45D: One of the eight states bordering Tenn) — pretty easy, but I never see this abbrev. I'm familiar only with AL. ALA is a perfectly good French phrase, when clued properly.
  • 9A: Restaurant chain whose logo features a western hat (Arby's) — I know I've said this before, but the thought of ARBY'S logo always makes me laugh because my friend Steve once said that he didn't know that the giant neon hat that was the ARBY'S sign was, in fact, a giant hat. He thought it was "two otters kissing." He wasn't high or anything.
  • 16A: Long-legged fisher (heron) — got EGRET stuck in my head. Not a condition I recommend.
  • 33A: Sasha and Malia's father (Barack) — This is cute, as Obama-clues go.
  • 45A: October blooms (asters) — yet another reason autumn is by far the best season around here.
  • 69A: Good name for a lingerie salesman? (teddy) — again, cute.
  • 3D: Young chickens suitable for dinner (broilers) — why would you have a chicken over for dinner? That's just asking for trouble.
  • 34D: Tokyo-based synthesizer maker (Casio) — I think of them as making the earliest, most basic electronic keyboard. I feel like we had a small one in our house in the '80s.
  • 46D: Influential moneybags (fat cat) — the name of my comic book store. Shout out.
  • 57D: Pop group whose name is coincidentally a rhyme scheme (ABBA) — It would be a "coincidence" if one of their songs *had* this rhyme scheme. I can't think of one.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


chefbea 7:50 AM  

was up really early this morning and had the puzzle done in record time - for me.

Never heard of that german dessert. Maybe Ulrich can enlighten us. Then there is food in the next long answer. And the third one has a fool which is also a dessert. Almost had a whole food theme.

I remember Sachel Paige from going to the St. Louis Brown's games as a child.

Best clue was Bird making baskets!!!

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

I wasn't quite sure where this puzzle was going, at first. Wanted a K for the T in COOTYPIE at first, but after that, the rest of this fell quite easily. Anyone remember playing cootie?

I liked the shout out to LARRY Bird-- tricky clue for a Tuesday, IMHO.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

@chefbea-- it was germy, not German dessert. You've got the cooties, I quit

CoolPapaD 7:59 AM  

My word of the day is diphthong! I remember hearing about it in school, and I just tried reading the Wikipedia definition, but I still don't quite get it! No matter, because I caught on to the theme after COOTIE PIE, and understood the gimmick, which really helped later on. Other than initially putting LACEY in at 69A, I had no other write-overs, which is a rarity for me.

I also may have learned something else today - the reason Starbuck's biggest size is VENTI. I never knew what the word meant.

I agree with @chefbea about the Bird clue!

fikink 8:04 AM  

Would have liked BOOTY MARK to have been clued with "tramp stamp," but I suppose I am being a prig.

I see the otters, too, Rex and I am not high or anything either.

@Mac, I bet you have something to say about FAT CAT; not a favorite, as I recall.

@Greene, looking forward to a tale about West Side Story.

@tpt, yes. I still remember their big red-orange bodies and the thing that looked like a fern unfurling from their mouths.

David 8:09 AM  

Where is Jack PAAR when we need him, other than being in this puzzle? Oh for the days when Jay Leno is just a crossword answer....

joho 8:14 AM  

I thought the wacky phrases were a SHREWD twist by Patrick and Rebecca ... a well done, fun and fresh theme served up on a Tuesday. And @chef bea, yes, there were a lot of food references for a mini theme: PAPAYA, BROILERS, General TSO's chicken are all FAMILY FOOD. Would have been nice if ALA had been food related. And there's EATSAWAY and CURED for ham and TEX Mex. FATCAT.

All we needed was a bottle of rum.


Jim H 8:15 AM  

Regarding RFK bridge: I *do* live there. RFK is the new ne for the Triboro Bridge. And it is still the Triboro.

Needed ALL crosses to get Larry Bird, and then it still took a mInute to see it. I blame lack of coffee...

Ice 8:21 AM  

What is Glad Hand's real name according to the original book in West Side Story?

Murray Benowitz. Glad Hand was played, but uncredited, in the movie by John 'Gomez Addams' Astin

Elaine 8:27 AM  

In these debased times, people do not know the old abbreviations, I take it: in my day there were only a few two-letter state abbrs. (I can't tell you how many people see AR and ask how we like Arizona, or how many letters we get addressed AK. Hell-oo-oo!)

So, in the spirit of Older Terms: I tried to put in PULLETS for the young chickens, briefly. The OLD cootie games called the little "fern" thing (@fifink) a PROBOSCIS, which was accurate as well as educational. When I bought Cootie for MY kids, it was called something like "Mouth." Sigh

I tried ACHOO...that slowed me down a bit...and GULP for GASP at first. And I thought, "Well, maybe there is a bridge near JFK airport now..." so I never did get Larry Bird. Some of the weaver birds might be LARJYs, right? So I finished with an error. TSK

Harking back to yesterday:
Haven't met you before, and perhaps you don't tune in often... so sorry you did not realize we were all having a bit of fun. I requested the NaOH explanation, which--alas-- was too advanced for me to understand. "Uninteresting" was not a word I used; "impenetrable" might have been.

fikink 8:41 AM  

@Elaine, "proboscis" - yes, indeed. Very specific:
• Entomology (in many insects) an elongated sucking mouthpart that is typically tubular and flexible.

AuntHattie 8:54 AM  

LOVED the mambo piece--but it is driving me crazy--WHO WAS THAT? Someone help. And I, too, loved the Larry Bird--had such a vision of a feathered creature busily weaving--well, it's early for me--

HudsonHawk 8:55 AM  

I'm with Jim H regarding the RFK Bridge. The Triboro is a wonderfully descriptive name that will live on for most locals (and cabbies).

slashdotcom 9:00 AM  

I flew through the whole puzzle after skipping the NW and then spent two or three minutes staring at CA-TIE PIE before I remembered that there was a theme I could use for help. Only then could I erase OKAY, replace it with the correct OKOK, and finish.

Still finished with an error, because I didn't check my grid--there is no such thing as a LARJY, avian or otherwise. Now I know.

Unknown 9:00 AM  


A tramp stamp is very speicifcally located on the small of the back, not the booty -- so as delightfully evocative as the phrase may be, it wouldn't make for an accurate clue.

PlantieBea 9:15 AM  

Wow, I had a solving experience parallel to Rex's. I misread German dessert and didn't get the germie part until the end, when I scanned the puzzle for all of the themed answers. I ended with a LARJY bird, too, so no EASY A for me.

COOT puzzle P. Blindauer and R. Young.

PlantieBea 9:17 AM  

Make that germy.

Zeke 9:26 AM  

One nit - FOSSILs make up an almost insignificant part of Archaeology. Paleontology might have been better.

dk 9:29 AM  

Cootie Game invented in Minnesota, patent 167006, 1950.

Lou Bega - Mambo #5.

LARRY Bird -- great player, but so so coach according to the b-ball fans here in Mpls.

Tramp Stamp, eeeeewwwwwuuuuu

**** (4 Stars) Great Wednesday Puzzle.

retired_chemist 9:29 AM  

Hand up for LARJY bird, but I got it in the recheck. I'M SURE @ 47D was fixed even faster.

Overall medium.

fikink 9:37 AM  

@Thomas, except if you sported one to emphasize your booty, which is part of their purpose, it could indeed be clued for BOOTY MARK, retaining the question mark in the clue.

Also "booty call" is a sexual invitation from which derives the less than flattering "tramp" stamp.

And yes, I tend toward the cryptic in my taste in clues.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:41 AM  

D'oh! Had to read Rex's write-up before I understood what a LARRY Bird was!

Otherwise, plunged ahead into trouble with OKAY before OKOK, ACHOO_ before AHCHOO, MYNAH before MYNAS.

But liked the puzzle.

Interesting that Will Shortz cited SCAB as a previously unacceptable word in his Q&A in Wordplay yesterday (or Monday?), and it shows up in today's puzzle.

Deb Amlen 9:42 AM  

Had LARJY in the grid and stared at it for the longest time asking myself, "What the hell is a LARJY??". I'm from the NY area, know the Triboro well, and it took me quite a while before I realized I had the wrong Kennedy in the crossing. Also didn't help that I missed the "basket" part of the clue.

Bill from NJ 9:43 AM  

My Grandmother, who lived in Dover, Del., absolutely REFUSED to use the two letter State code and didn't until the day she died in 1982. I'm sure there are grandmothers in Ariz. and Minn. who felt the same way.

Since I started working the downs in the NW, I saw the COOTIE/Germy connection right away and fairly flew through this puzzle. Fairly typical Tuesday - if one didn't get sidetracked.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

I felt great about this puzzle, as I finished it with no googling.
But, I thought the three letters for the Triboro Bridge suggested a rebus. Ended up like some of the rest of you with JFK. I never heard of either LARRY Bird, or of a LARJY bird.
Thanks for all your reflections!

Unknown 9:46 AM  

I have to say that the puzzle write up today was more entertaining than anything in the paper. I know there is a place for donations on the sidebar that hardly crosses my mind, but I am going to use it. Thanks for the chuckles today Rex.

I played Cootie with my sister. As I recall, I would deride them if they won saying of course you built your cootie first, you are one. If I won, it was because I had such excellent role models. Ah, youth!

Elaine 9:53 AM  

This was a hard (as in, misleading) puzzle for birders! Like Bob Kerfuffle, I put MYNAH; (actually have never seen just MYNA, but I am sure it got checked, and some godless person has it listed as Var.) Then I imagined some African variety of weaver-bird, since our oriole would not fit, creating its cunning nest.... Briefly considered EGRET, but have learned to consider "commonality of letters" when choosing between or among possible entries.
Enjoyed the puzzle! and hope for a "birders' puzzle" some time....

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

@Thomas @fikink --- "booty" is reference to treasure, not one's backside.

Van55 10:03 AM  

Not much to add to the above. Good puzzle overall.

Ruth 10:06 AM  

@Aunt Hattie: the Mambo guy is Gerard Darmon. French guy, according to Wikipedia. I've never heard of him before but he bears further study!
Have watched a lot of Dancing with the Stars and can't tell a mambo from a double axel. . .

Mike Lewis 10:07 AM  

Hand up for LARJY as well.

Rex, your comic shop is called Fat Cat? Is there a story behind the name? Mine is Limited Edition, which the proprietor assures me is the world's only comic shop/hair salon combination. I have no reason to doubt him...

treedweller 10:16 AM  

Like Rex, I was dubious about the spelling of AHCHOO, but then I read today's "Hi & Lois". Go figure.

Wasn't hard to sort it out, anyway, and I finished with a pretty good Tuesday time (for me). Due partly to the fact that, also like Rex, I just kept my head down and worked through it. The theme was tickling the back of my brain the whole time, but I could quite get it till I had finished and looked back.

Rex Parker 10:16 AM  

There are two fat cats that live in the shop. Actual, fat felines. That is the story, as far as I can tell.

Reminds me, gotta get over there today to get new bags — daughter has decided that her comics need to be stored properly. And the disease is passed on ...


Jim in Chicago 10:39 AM  

I'd rate this puzzle boring. Haven't we seen this, or a very similar there before? Not expecially interesting and filled with crosswordeese like ASTERS and EASYA and APEX and OKRA and ALOHA - oh, I quit. AFEW clever clues saved the day to a certain extent, TEDDY for the Lingerie salesman made me smile.

I though the puzzle was going in a different direction when PAAR crossed with PAIR in the opening seconds of my solving.

Like Rex, my problems were also in the NE and SW. The NE fell first, but I'm still having trouble accepting a FATCAT as influential.

slypett 10:44 AM  

I clearly remember Al Jaffe, the butcher, saying to my mom, "I have some nice pullets today, Natalie." They were kosher, of course.

I, too, favor the old abbreviations of the state names. My favorite is Penna. What was Utah's?

My knowledge of birds is extensive, though not comprehensive, so the "Bird...baskets" clue was a stumoer.

Hell, until I got it that one OKAY was not enough, I was so snarled in the NW that I snarled, "I can't be defeated by a Tuesday puzzle!"

OldCarFudd 10:45 AM  

Cute (coot?) theme, good clues, no junk. Tried pawpaw before papaya, didn't know the bridge was anything but the Triboro, and stumbled briefly over the extra h in ahchoo. Tough for a Tuesday. I liked it!

The puzzles are loaded with non-two-letter state and province abbreviations! Didn't we just have Wisc? Yes, I still have to stop and think over AK, AR, and AZ. And the Canadians don't make things any easier with QC; I grew up using PQ (Province de Quebec) or Que. And NU is beyond my experience, abbreviated or not.

Tinbeni 11:03 AM  

LARRY was a gimmie, so was BARACK. RFK became a slamdunk.
YO HO HO, great phrase, led to LOL moment with BOOTY MARK.
TEDDY was cleaver.
IKEA just opened here so VENTI fell in place.
AH CHOO, seen this before but hate this spelling.
So many edible entries, it EATS AWAY at me that I missed breakfast.

Two Ponies 11:11 AM  

I really enjoyed this playful puzzle.
It's too bad our own Fossil Fool is off doing some real archaeology so he probably won't see this puzzle.
Tuesdays can be such awkward days to fill but this one was just right.
Plenty to sink your teeth into.
We talked about the Cootie game not long ago. At our house no one ever played the actual game but we loved putting together those bugs.

mccoll 11:13 AM  

The puzzle theme was noo to me but it was quite amoosing, nonetheless.
No errors - no googles.

@OldCarFudd - NU stands for Nunavut, a vast area in northern Canada with the lowest population density of any political division in the world. Polar Bears, Musk Ox, Caribou and hardly any folks.
Thanks for the puzzle and the comments everyone.

The Corgi of Mystery 11:18 AM  

I feel so much better knowing I'm not the only person in the world who talked himself into the existence of the LARJY bird.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Larry wasn't a gimme for me, but then I watch maybe 5 minutes of basketball a year. Larry just seemed so much more likely than Larjy, but until I read the comments I was considering investigating where the Larry bird was native -- New Zealand was my guess.

The puzzle was easy enough for me, but I liked the diphthong humor.

David 11:44 AM  

Yes, the LARRY Bird clue was a classic.

But I love the sound of the LARJY bird - and who knew RFK was the name for the famous Triboro Bridge?

Anyway, quick fun for a Tuesday.

Glitch 12:09 PM  

Note to the abbreviation police, 25D is one:

From the proclaimation: New York City's Triborough Bridge - ... -will officially be renamed as the "Robert F. Kennedy Bridge".


Oddly enough, for legal purposes, Utah may be officially abbreviated "Ut.", while the USPS uses the even shorter UT. So take your pick, Utah, Ut., UT --- I guess it depends on how much time you want to save :-)


JMorgie 12:30 PM  

oops -- I thought this was easy.

I thought atchoo was spelled with a T! and yohoho is a stupid word; yecchhh

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

As a 72yo female, Larry Bird was an instant gimme! I'm surprised he is quite unknown to so many people - and I'm an alien too.

Good puzzle which I found easy and a perfect Tuesday puzzle.

Greene 12:36 PM  

And another hand up for the LARJY bird. Easy to correct as even I've heard of LARRY Bird, but it was an amusing error. I think the LARJY bird should become the official bird of the blog, or something like that.

@Fikink: Hmm...West Side Story story. I met my wife Jo during a production of WSS. She was a most excellent Maria and I was some bumbler they hired to conduct the orchestra. It all played out like a bad 30s screwball comedy, but we ended up okay - one of those rare showbusiness marriages that actually lasts.

Oh, a real West Side Story story? Leonard Bernstein's brother suggests that his composer brother may have inadvertantly "borrowed" that famous mambo theme from "The Dance at the Gym" sequence. Apparently, they were on vacation in Havanna and ended up in some hole in the wall nightclub with a really hot mambo band playing material that, when filtered through Bernstein's fertile musical psyche, ended up in WSS. It's also widely acknowledged that the tune for "Maria" bears more than a passing resemblance to a little known song originally written by Bernstein's theatrical mentor Mark Blitzstein. Apparently such "borrowings" are common practice in the world of musical composition. In Bernstein's case it was usually referred to as "musical eclecticism." Lloyd Webber is another famous borrower. I sometimes wonder if he'd have a career at all if it wasn't for Puccini.

Andy 12:36 PM  

I think the ABBA/coincidence thing means that in addition to the original intended name-meaning (first letters of each member's first name) it has an unintentional, purely coincidental meaning related to rhyme schemes.

Maybe I'm too dense to see that it's wrong, but it didn't bother me.

lit.doc 12:38 PM  

I was (for me) totally shredding this one. The only significant albeit quickly corrected misstep was EGRET for HERON, unsurprisingly. Then I spotted the (apparent) theme and experienced a WTF? moment instead of an AHA! moment. Filling the grid continued apace, but (disclaimer: it’s 12:30 CST, so I can’t avail myself of Rex’s post yet) I’m still baffled by the 17A OO = U, 30A OO = EU, 46A OO = UE, and 64A OO = EAU rotation I’m showing.

OK, morning + Rex’s write-up. Diphthongs! Ack! Double ack! [insert pic of Bill the Cat looking, ummm, normal]. For a change I look for the theme and even find the theme answers. But does this help? Noooooo. I really get a kick out of crossword play like this, but it is ever so vexing to look at it so hard and only see it, not hear it. Ack indeed.

@Rex, me too re 5D “Monkey’s uncle?” The clue is reeeely a stretch (I’m trying to be nice here), and relies for whatever cleverness it achieves on the solver’s familiarity with that anti-scientific canard about man having evolved from apes. Have I said “Ack!” yet today? “Monkey” refers to the little guys with tails, and excludes the anthropoid apes, commonly called the great apes—orangutans, gorillas, chimps, and us (thank you, Richard Dawkins). And thank you, Rex, for today’s solving lesson.

@Elaine, would you please say more about the “commonality of letters” you mentioned in your post, re EGRET vs. HERON. Sounded useful, but I’m unclear on the concept.

Beyond that, my Big Question of the Day is this: does anyone know of any occurrences of that wonderful “Are we having fun yet?” phrase prior to the Zippy the Pinhead comix? As I recall, the writer of that strip took legal action to protect authorship, but I know nothing of the outcome.

hazel 1:00 PM  

@Zeke - you're totally correct. That was poorly clued.

I am/was a geologist and somewhat of a fossil fool - have a bunch of cool ones. They're all pretty much remnants of organisms that are embedded/preserved in rock. I think of archaeology as concerning itself more with human and cultural artifacts. I also think the overlap is quite tiny.

Now that I've written this, I'm not quite sure why I care about this fine point, and not the Monkey's Uncle clue. Regardless, both FOSSILFOOL and APE whet my appetite for the opening of the movie Creation.

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

Another vote for Triboro Bridge -- forever.

I'm ok with using RFK bridge in the puzzle. But in real life, it will always be the Triboro. The avenue between Fifth and Seventh? It's still Sixth.

--------> Joe, NYC native

The queen of England 1:45 PM  


Melissa 1:52 PM  

"That is bull&*$^"
"Ass tattoo"
"two otters kissing"

funniest. post. EVAR!!! u rock.

mexgirl 2:01 PM  

Excuse me, Mr Blindauer and Ms Young, but how is a PAPAYA an alternative to MANGO? In my world, mango is a succulent fruit, with a big pit, sweet and juicy, great on its own or, if you're in Mexico, as a wonderful sorbet or part of many desserts. Papaya, on the other hand, can be juicy but never as sweet or as delicious. Period.
(I'm thinking chefs might use either one as a substitute for the other while cooking, but still...)

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Thus far:

RFK = Triboro (Bridge)

Ave. Amer. = Sixth (Avenue)


FDR = East Side (Drive)

But NOT:

JFK = Idlewild (Airport)


Larry, the transplanted Brooklynite

SethG 2:09 PM  

My computer broke. The one I'm borrowing has some weird problem that doesn't let me solve online. I solved this on paper that I found at the coffee shop, and it felt so strange. This is worse than the time I couldn't type an 'O'!

In addition to the theme OOs, there was an aPPt, a pAAr, akiSS, laRRy, aSSet, ahchOO, and teDDy just in the acrosses. I may be inventing a pattern, but it seemed like a lot.

One of the better "...name for" clues I've seen, but I don't like "...name for" clues. ABBA, or even TEX, didn't bother me as much. I assume I'm just weird.

retired_chemist 2:13 PM  

@ SethG - try a different browser.

Steve J 2:14 PM  

@CoolPapaD: The Wiki article is a touch technical. Put in more plain language, a diphthong is a vowel that's actually made up of two vowels and sounds like one. To get the concept, pronounce the letter I. It's actually two vowels - "ah" and "ee". You can see that by saying the two, and combining them more rapidly until you finally hear "eye." Another good example is "ow," which is "ah" and "oh."

Despite the fact I'm a linguistics geek, I wasn't terribly impressed with the diphthong theme. Most of the answers elicited eye rolls from me rather than any thought that it was clever.

I'm yet another person who momentarily contemplated the existence of the LARJY bird.

I also was wondering how having a SORENAPE would lead to one playing to the balcony. Maybe because the back of one's neck was sore you had to look up?

That was fixed quickly by realizing that I'd put in ASTOR the surname instead of ASTER the bloom, and repeated my all-too-frequent mistake of putting in OPIE when I mean ODIE.

SueRohr 2:18 PM  

I grew up and went to school in the Boston area during the time that Larry Bird was in his heyday. I was and remain a huge fan of the Celtics and the Red Sox even though I now live in Delaware. Having said that, I too, had a larjy bird for a brief time. I asked my husband, who is an avid and experienced birder what bird makes baskets but he was stumped. Definitely one of the best clues today.My only problem was that I spelled asters a-s-t-o-r-s, then became convinced that 40 down was another one of the theme answers and tried to figure out what a sore (sure) nade was. Spelling has always been my downfall. I'm encouraged by the tests that show spelling ability does not correlate with IQ or general intelligence except negatively!

Charles Bogle 2:23 PM  

Like Two Ponies, I enjoyed this playful puzzle. And I'm w Jim H et al on sticking w Triboro Bridge, but for a different reason: there has got to be a better way to honor RFK-

Otherwise, agree w all the LARRY clue was great; needed all the crosses

Goodness-am I the only one who doesn't get why TEDDY is a good name for a lingerie salesman?

Clark 2:25 PM  

[Many a cowpoke’s handle], had _EX, confidently put in an R. Seemed right, nice shout out. Could not sort out BOOrYMARK for the life of me.

When I finally spotted the LARRY bird, I figured NYC was up to its naming thing again. Thanks for the confirmation, @Jim H. My last apartment in NYC was on Duke Ellington Boulevard. Anybody ever heard of it?

@mexgirl -- There are apples and oranges and bananas and peaches and plums and a few other fruits that God intended humans (that is, midwesterner Americans) to eat. Then there are the strange and exotic fruits. And there are just two of them. Mangos and papayas. But seriously, I spent two weeks in Brazil (Manaus, Belem, Marajó). The variety of fruit was amazing. Not only was there (lots) of fruit I had never heard of, I was told there were varieties of fruit that have no name at all. My all time favorite was and is passion fruit. Pucker up!

SethG 2:46 PM  

@retired_chemist, if I could install stuff on my borrowed computer I could just use AcrossLite. But I cannot.

So far, I've learned that I should practice my paper-solving, that tea is very bad for a laptop's health, and that laptop shopping is a pain in the booty.

@Clark, passion fruit rules.

@Charles Bogle, here's a section from a Kampala grocery store that could have been staffed in XWorld by Oral Roberts, Teddy Roosevelt, and Toots Shor.

George NYC 2:47 PM  

Isn't part of the West Side Highway officially the Joe DiMaggio Highway? As Lurker says above, the only one of these street name "changes" that stuck is the FDR drive. Prob cause it's easier to say.

Agree that Triboro is forever. Remember the opening of Bonfire of the Vanities, when the rich guy misses the Manhattan turnoff and ends up in the South Bronx? Hilarity ensues.

Rube 3:04 PM  

Didn't know LOCA, S.W.A.K., or what a TEDDY was. Knew LARRY, AMECHE, and PAIGE. They were all gettable, but I guess that it's just an age thing.

Wanted to cry foul on RFK but all you current New Yorkers seem to agree that the name hasn't stuck... and that's good.

@MexGirl - When we go to Hawaii we always have papayas or mangos for breakfast, (or the occassional pineapple), something we never do at home. I had no trouble with the clue. @chefwen? Guess that one of the constructors do the same.

Did have trouble with MYNAS 'tho. The Hawaiian version have a very obnoxious call, sort of like a crow with a glottal stop.

Still things to learn from Mon-Wed puzzles, and even more to learn from this blog.

Shamik 3:05 PM  

Easy-medium at 5 minutes even.

Thanks for the "Mambo Italiano" even if they were't Henson muppets. It made me smile.

Elaine 3:07 PM  

It is easier for a constructor to build a grid using letters that we see most often. Think about this case (HERON vs EGRET) and you can see that: H as a beginning letter is easier to incorporate in a puzzle; G within the body of a word is more difficult to use.... I often scribble several possibles in the margin or just write in lightly, then wait for a crossing word to guide me (as I am sure you do, too.) ACME and APEX... we've seen the latter several times in the past week, but again I have learned to think about the letter frequency business, thanks to this blog. I am sure someone here has a refined list of how to approach about this whole thing.

Sue, wait! You have a right to think well of yourself regardless of spelling ability, but beware of bad research! Good spellers tend to have very strong visual memory--(think about the people you see scribbling down a word to check it.) Related to this is an ability to use patterns; possibly some extra facility with retrieving information is also present. Many very bright and able people do not spell consistently well, but that does not mean that spelling is negatively correlated with intelligence. When we work with someone to improve spelling, we try to strengthen visual memory, work with "word families," and devise aids (both mental and technological.) These can help both challenged and able learners. OOPS time to get off the soap box and bow out!

Jeffrey 3:07 PM  

Be happy with your bridge names. I look out my office window at 2 bridges, named the Bay Street bridge and the Johnson Street bridge (sometimes called the Blue bridge because it is blue).

sanfranman59 3:15 PM  

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)

Tue 8:59, 8:47, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:58, 4:30, 1.10, 81%, Challenging

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

@Charles Bogle- apparantly, you are :)

MikeM 3:17 PM  

@Lurker, "The FDR" is used all the time.. at least by me.
@GeorgeNYC, Yes part of the West Side Drive is called the Joe DiMaggio Highway. Parts are so full of potholes it is referred to as the "Joltin' Joe"

George NYC 3:21 PM  

True story:
I was once standing on the corner of W. Houston St. in lower Manhattan, near the corner of 6th Ave. A car with Ohio plates, full of yutes, pulled up to ask directions. "How do we get to Toledo?" the driver asked. As in Ohio. As it happens, said directions required only two turns: proceed down W. Houston until you are forced to take a right turn onto the West Side Highway; procede a few miles until you see the turnoff for the George Washington Bridge. Proceed to Toledo on I 80. That's it.

chefwen 3:23 PM  

Thought this puzzle was cootie patootie, smiled throughout the whole solve. Tried explaining the theme to my house guest, who is from Germany, and she just stared at me like I had been smoking some of the local stuff. Oh well!

Favorite was BOOTY MARK.

Squeek 3:24 PM  

Whoa! Some of you guys don't know what a teddy is ???
I sincerely hope you know them but just don't know what they're called.
Go look at a Victoria's Secret catalog immediately!
Loved tramp stamp.

CoolPapaD 3:38 PM  

@Steve J - Thank you for the succinct, straight-forward answer! People at work were just giving me grief for reading about diphthongs!

George NYC 3:40 PM  

To those of you traveling to NY for the ACPT, do not be confused by the fact the the West Side Highway, aka the Joe DiMaggio Highway, is also labeled on various maps as West St., New York Rt. 9A, the Henry Hudson Parkway, 11th Ave., and 12th Ave. Nor be confused that the Queensboro Bridge is also the 59th St. Bridge. Don't mix up the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, both of which connect Brooklyn and Manhattan as does the Williamsburg Bridge. Don't be concerned that W. 4th St. in the Village intersects W. 10th St., or that Waverly Place runs into...Waverly Place.

Meg 3:46 PM  

I thought I was a total idiot for LARJY, but now I don't feel so bad. LARCH? No, that's a tree... Great clue!

My hometown is well represented by HERONS and Cocoon, which was filmed in St. Pete., a place full of old(er) people and water.

I thought the theme answers were very well done!

Steve J 4:13 PM  

@George NYC: I have indeed been confused by the intersection of 4th St with 10th St in the Village. It probably didn't help that I stumbled across that intersection after a long night out at the pub.

That intersection reminds me of downtown St Paul, where 7th Street intersects with all the other numbered streets. But not 8th Street. Why? Because 8th Street doesn't exist downtown. This is the same city where I know of intersections where you cannot turn onto the cross street, because the cross street is one-way in opposite directions, converging on each other.

Clark 4:17 PM  

I live not too far from the intersection of Hyde Park Blvd. and Hyde Park Blvd.

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

Thought "Randy" was the name for the lingerie salesman at first....still like that better!!

dk 5:05 PM  

err, way back in the pack I meant to say Tuesday Puzzle.

@stevej, had the same problems with Broadway, Avenue of the Americas and Single Malt Scotch.

Anon, from way back to some BOOTY is treasure and for others treasure is BOOTY

Anon, above: How about Thong for an Asian or Swedish lingerie salesman?

Off to the market.

xyz 5:15 PM  

Surprised by Wiki to see MYNA is the preferred spelling of MYNAH, learned something, thought it the other way, only slowed me a little.

Paleontology has way more to do with FOSSILS than Archaeology. that added minutes to my time, was trying to put OO earlier in the space due to the messy clue. A slight beef I have is that somewhat "loose science" is used in crossword stuff, sometimes even becoming egregious with medical words (if you actually use them daily and know them ...)

On the lighter side sort of a kinky CW day with lingerie man here and more lingerie at LAT, the LAT with a bawdy dance and stuffy priests as well. Psychologists, have at it!

I enjoyed the puzzle here today (LAT a bit more, but both well under 15:00 for me [good]) except for that basically BAD clue for 46A - HARUMP! :-)

mac 6:32 PM  

A good time puzzleing for me, and then the write-up and the comments had me laughing and my husband in the background rolling his eyes....

Rewrites: okok only. I did struggle with ah/t/choo for a moment. Knew about the renaming of the bridge so Larry kept his name. For once I figured out the theme after two answers, and actually filled in the fossil fool and booty mark right away, in a mostly empty lower grid. Aw, Archeoprof is not going to like that new name.... Saw a lot of fossils today at the American Museum of Natural History, where we went mainly because of the "Silk Road" exhibition. Saw living silkworms and mulberry leaves. Also apes and mambos, and a beautiful word: caravanserai.

LOL: sore nape, two otters kissing, Charles Bogle's teddy, George NYC Yutes. So that's how you spell it.

Are we having fun yet? Last time I used that expression I was on I95 in a friend's convertible, on a blazing hot day, surrounded by semis, rigs, suvs, atvs, rvs and 8-wheelers.

Another alien is commenting!

@Fikink: No! And I love cats.

slypett 6:43 PM  

Glitch: Thanks, though I was hoping the olden abbr. would be the elegant U.

Larry: Idlewild is a beautiful word. Renaming it JFK in a fit of patriotic sentimenmtality has always seemed a mistake to me.

Two Ponies 7:09 PM  

I'm sure everyone is right about the clues for fossil fool and ape however...
wasn't it nice to have a fresh clue for ape?
perhaps archaeology is more well known as the study of something old and thus more appropriate for a Tuesday?

Robin 7:48 PM  

@Elaine, Jim H, slashdotcom, plantiebea, retired_chemist, Deb Amblen, David, icculus, Corgi of Mystery, Greene, Sue Rohr, Steve J, and Meg: How many smart people fell for the Larjy Bird?!? Sounded perfectly reasonable to me, in fact, I thought I had learned something.

Corgi, when is your puzzle coming out?

andrea apex michaels 8:03 PM  

fun fun...Patrick B prides himself on having all original clues if possible and he certainly didn't disappoint today!

Since I can never remember if it's FUED/FEUD or FUEL/FEUL I was happy to put in two OOs and be done with it, tho I actually was surprised that two of the four were for EU words, except when I came here and read they weren't!

My writeovers besides OKOK was for MARIA instead of MAMBO (even tho I wondered why they would be shouting MARIA in a gym...
and BOOTYSPOT (Since X marks the Spot) and I will bet "bottom" dollar that Patrick/Rebecca had thought of racy alternative clues for that!

APEX APEX APEX, whatever happened to ACME?
(Maybe a monkey's uncle who has dumped his slave name is called APEX?)

ArtLvr 8:42 PM  

Loved the puzzle theme as it jibed with late night commentary while I did it -- The chat was about the book "Game Change" and how much S Palin had in common with G W Bush besides disdain for facts and their pronunciation of "noo-kew-lar".

I also enjoyed all the comments on arriving here late today... Nobody seemed to connect the APE clue with the ancient expression of dumbfounded surprise "Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle"! Or am I making that up? I think it was out there back in the day, not meant to be taken literally.

@ Greene, many thanks for both the WSS tales -- I too did some unintended musical borrowing as a youngster, the most embarrassing of which turned out to be a tune everyone else knew as ALOHA-oe.

I should slink away with that confession, but must also thank those who discussed the difference between paleontolgy and archeology. I just began a book called "Stories in Stone" (great Xmas gift), full of amusing description. The story of the giant trilobite found in a slate quarry near Quincy, MA, in 1834 was seen by a Harvard curator in 1914 as "such an oasis in the sterility of Massachusetts paleontology that it borders on the domain of romance."... Its closest relatives later turned out to be Moroccan, and thus the author leads into the history of plate tectonics as New England formed with the "pink granite that resembles Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream."


p.s. Very sad to hear of the huge earthquake just now in Haiti, as a 7.0, the worst ever.

andrea tso michaels 8:59 PM  

Yes, nail on head, people don't know the old expression "Well I'll be a monkey's uncle!" so didn't get the joke...or took it literally or something.
Hey Mambo...

chefwen 9:41 PM  

@ArtLvr - Did you get the recipe or did I fax it upside down, been known to do that?

Sfingi 9:44 PM  

@That's awful that they're calling the proboscis a mouth. Dumb down.

How can you sing Car 54 w/o Idlewild?

Despite my sports handicap, I got Larry Bird. Isn't he, like, the only white guy in basketball?

@Thomas - tramp stamp is a real expression? Love it. Twenty venti.

@DK - For what it's worth...Lou Bega is half Sicilian.

@Anon953 - for some, their booty is their treasure. As the milkmaid responded so long ago, "My face is my fortune."

@Anon421 - Cool.

I don't think RFK will stick. Triboro is descriptive. No one calls it RFK Upstate or Downstate.
Isn't Avenue of the Americas a trivia question, now?
As @Anon 121 says, " in real life..."

@SteveJ - The Village and all that part and parcel of land at the southern tip of Manhattan is the Old NY. Manhattan as a grid system, and easy to get around is newer.

With zipcodes you really don't even need to put the state at all.

@Rube - "Living La Vida Loca" (the crazy life) was a song by Ricky Martin (Morales). Some say it's a reference to the gay way. It has a nice beat and you can dance to it.

In the '50s, one of my teachers had a rule about whether or not you pronounce u "yoo" or "oo" I can't remember it, but it had something to do with which letters preceded it and whether the words were Latin, blah, blah. I know that legume was to be said "legyoom" which I've noticed is falling out of style among whippersnappers. Anyone remember?

ArtLvr 9:55 PM  

Thanks, Andrea! Sometimes echoes of the distant past are TSO sharp it almost hurts, other times I wonder if I'm dreamimg when they surface!

I spent some time this a.m. with my doctor who explained why I was going back on a medication for control of cholesterol after I explained why I quit a couple of months ago... At least I was able to pass along a mnemonic I'd coined, which he asked if he might use -- HDL standing for Highly Desirable and LDL meaning the Less Desirable form of whatever! I smiled and said he was welcome to claim the authorship... Shades of your naming talents!

My dancing days seem numbered... Mamba? FAA away as the civil rights demonstrations in DC in the early '60's!


ArtLvr 10:03 PM  

p.p.s. @ Chefwen -- Yes, I was delighted to receive the mango cheesecake recipe from you, and the fax worked fine. I don't know if there are dried mangoes around here, but it makes delicious reading for now while I splurge in eating my perfect-for-once fresh one. I often leave them ripening on the windowsill a tad too long...


Dave in California 10:30 PM  

Not very exciting, but cute.

Dave in California 10:30 PM  

Not very exciting, but cute.

sanfranman59 10:44 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:52, 6:54, 0.99, 53%, Medium
Tue 9:10, 8:47, 1.04, 65%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:40, 1.02, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:52, 4:30, 1.08, 78%, Medium-Challenging

I've just begun to read a biography of Satchel Paige that I received as a Christmas gift. I love it when my crossword life interweaves with other aspects of my life. He was quite a fascinating man. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for the author to come up with facts about Satchel's life. To give you some idea of the challenge, the Cleveland Indians 1948 yearbook says that he was born "on either July 17, Sept. 11, Sept. 18 or Sept. 22, somewhere between 1900 and 1908." His WWII draft record says he was born September 26, 1908, his Social Security record had August 15, 1908 and his passport had February 5, 1908. One thing's for certain. He was a truly colorful character.

mac 11:01 PM  

Thank you Sanfranman, amazing how Rex Parker gets that right almost all the time.

Satchel sounds a real character, or may his parents.

Sean ONeill 11:55 PM  

My best wrong guess in a long time - southwest corner - appropriate name for a lingerie sales man - originally had "Randy". Maybe next time.

slypett 11:58 PM  

Andrea Apex: You have crossed the PC line! Congratulations!

I mean, what is all the fuss over Harry Reid using the word 'Negro'? Jesus! I still prefer to call African-Americans 'Negros', although I usually do it with a lower case 'n'. For one thing, it's shorter.

On YouTube I watched the most hilarious clip of Bill Maher interviewing Chris Rock. They are both funny and both not terminal egotists.

mac 12:09 AM  

@darkman: for all we know Harry Reid used the lower case as well. I also think this whole thing is totally overblown. Like him or not, he has been totally supportive of Obama at all times.

Arundel 2:30 AM  

Did this puzzle on the Pacific Coast Highway. Loved it. Smart, funny, and still doable while staring out the window.

I once gave my mother a cat who she named 'Booty' -- I kept my mouth shut about possible double meanings.

Unknown 8:30 AM  

@darkman: "All the fuss" about Harry Reid's quote is called landmark legislation: i.e. health reform, and other pressing issues, for which the Obama administration must never, ever have any success or credit.
Also: I resent your comment of your preference for monikers, and lower case at that, and in particular on this marvelous and incredible blog. People of color, and pale people such as myself, will tell you that "Negro" is a word the country would, or at least should, prefer to see pass into history.

Rex Parker 8:37 AM  

Subsequent political comments get deleted. Thanks.

xyz 10:00 AM  

ARBY'S comes from R.B. = roast beef sandwich, don't know if anyone noted that pop culture pun or not

Glitch 12:02 PM  

From the Arby's web site:

Q.Does the name Arby's stand for R.B., as in, roast beef?

A. Close! Arby's is named for the company founders, Leroy and Forrest Raffel, the Raffel Brothers, also R.B.


Anonymous 1:32 PM  

My wife and I are in the gutter today

Anonymous 8:41 PM  

Saw the theme right off the bat. Didn't care for theme or the puzzle, but then again Tuesday's don't usually bring me much joy. Ahchoo is terrible.

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