Store on TV that sells KrustyO's cereal / MON 2-1-10 / Sensational 1990s-2000s talk show host / It must be him singer 1967

Monday, February 1, 2010

Constructor: Scott Atkinson

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: ICKY (4D: Very unpleasant) — six theme answers are words or phrases the first part of which rhymes with ICKY

Word of the Day: ERA of Good Feelings, 1817-25 (61A)

The Era of Good Feelings (1817–25)[1] describes a period in United States political history in which partisan bitterness abated. The phrase was coined by Benjamin Russell, in the Boston newspaper, Columbian Centinel, on July 12, 1817, following the good-will visit to Boston of President James Monroe. // The political bitterness declined because the Federalists had largely dissolved and were no longer attacking the president, then causing an era of good feeling because there was only one political party. [Nothing kills partisan bitterness like the lack of more than one party] (wikipedia)
• • •

Whimsical idea for a puzzle. Fine by me, especially since he's managed to cram in six theme answers — that's a lot of "ICKY." Puzzle was very easy for me, but I have it at "Medium" because it's got a handful of proper nouns in the theme answers, ignorance of any one of which might have held someone up for a bit. Lots of Scrabbly letters, lots to love. One weakness is the spate of abbrevs. and partial answers: GRO, HUR, SKEE, NCAR, MRE, SST, MSN, UCLA, INRE, IAMA, ENL, KAT (with the missed opportunity for a KIT KAT cross-reference at 63D). Also: REMET and ACRED — not great. But I'd say the strength of the theme answers mostly overpowers the ugly stuff.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: They're choosy about what they chew (PICKY eaters)
  • 37A: Sensational 1990s-2000s talk show host (RICKI Lake) — always want to spell her name "RIKKI," as in "RIKKI Don't Lose That Number" or "RIKKI Tikki Tavi"
  • 42A: Popular online reference (WIKIpedia)
  • 62A: Walt Disney creation (MICKEY Mouse)
  • 11D: Store on TV that sells KrustyO's cereal (KWIK-E-Mart)
  • 36D: "It Must Be Him" singer, 1967 (VIKKI Carr)
Bemused by SMOCKED (21A: Dressed in lab attire), helped considerably by the (now) gimme status of OMSK (31A: Siberian city), and impossibly baffled by KIT (63D: Collection of items for a modelist). Honestly, I had -IT and didn't know what to do with it. Considered MYNAH for MACAW (3D: Bird important in Mayan symbology). Needed most of the crosses for EARMARK (9D: Politician's add-on) — great answer. Misspelled LECTERN (with a "U") the first time through at 55A: Speaker's stand. And I was slow to pick up SALIENT (27D: Noteworthy).

The End.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Parshutr 7:42 AM  

This puz confirms my belief that medium is the most satisfying level of puzzle; not that they should all be medium, because without the challenging (or let's be honest, really HARD) and easy examples, we wouldn't appreciate the mediums.
And thank you for not WHINING about ETAIL.

Mike Lewis 8:11 AM  

Star Wars mixes up with actual knowledge - had JAWAN originally and didn't check the cross for some time. Other than the AMEND/EMEND confusion I go through every single time, a fairly easy puzzle.

nanpilla 8:13 AM  

Who knew there were so many ways to say ICKY? Fun theme, solid medium.

I have never heard of a Laboratory Smock. I think I would have smacked someone if they said I was smocked. We always called them lab coats. Smocks are for artists.

jesser 8:20 AM  

Smocked? Really? This was an enjoyable romp, and a fast one. But smocked sits not well on my palate. To paraphrase the great Douglas Adams, "The word smocked hung in the air in much the same way that bricks don't." And now: Must work, dammit.

chefbea 8:23 AM  

Not an icky puzzle - fun and a bit challenging.

In about a month we will be on our way to NCAR. and believe it or not...we will be living in the Ogden section of Wilmington.

Elaine 9:09 AM  

Procedural question: since it is not clued as "theme," why isn't ICKY just a 7th theme item?

Hand up for trying RIKKI first, and being temporarily stalled by VIKKI, AVILA, JAWS (I know, I know, but I don't store movie memories by box-office take.)

Historical question: my recollection is that it was The Era of Good FEELING (NOT plural.) The era of good feelingS was the '70's; everyone was into feelings and I'm Okay, You're Okay.

Other than that....thought of "gowned" before being forced into being "smocked." Why not "aproned?" or "in a duster?"

Unknown 9:17 AM  

Went down pretty fast, but missed my favorite crosswordese answer SST and put in JET, which screwed me up for a while

PIX 9:18 AM  

Agree with Nanpilla; a lab coat is not a smock.

An "earmark" is not really a politician's "add-on". It is : a legislative (especially congressional) provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees"{Wiki}. They stand alone; they are not added on.

Another Simpon's reference...just what the world needs.

Took me forever for a Monday.

SethG 9:46 AM  

_Six_! Amazing.

There was a Voice Input Child Identicant named VICI Lawson, a Former Child Star named Dickie Roberts, and if we search hard enough we can find possibles like author Ryk E. Spoor or the Bystrzyckie Mountains. Actually, I'm guessing on the pronunciation of that last one.

A lab coat is not a smock, but why does that mean there is no such thing as a lab smock?

slypett 9:48 AM  

While I didn't dislike this puzzle, I didn't quite fancy it either. Thought it was straightforward. Never noticed the phalanx of ICKIes bearing down me like a defensive line.

Umblesse oblige. 'Umblesse'--the quality of being humble when you're noble.

PlantieBea 10:02 AM  

May this puzzle initiate a Week of Good Feelings for the NYT crossword. Had to rewrite KOOL KAT with C's and one Year with IN A year, but otherwise an easy solve. Thanks Scott Atkinson for the Monday fun and Rex for the Steely Dan.

Wiki In Depth 10:12 AM  

@Pix - If you read me further, you will find:
Congressional earmarks are often defined loosely as anonymously authored guarantees of federal funds to particular recipients in appropriations-related documents. (Wikipedia, Earmarks).
So, they are quite specificially add-ons to legislation.

OldCarFudd 10:13 AM  

Definitely a medium. Agree with Rex's evaluation. I enjoyed it.

Stan 10:13 AM  

What a language we have, in which ICKY, ICKI, IKI, ICKEY, IKKI, and IK-E all get the same pronunciation.

Extra points for not spelling out the theme in a clue.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:24 AM  

Very nice, theme-rich Monday.

Tripped up briefly with one write-over, had VICKYCARR before VIKKICARR.

ArtLvr 10:27 AM  

GWTW was my thought on the high-grossing film, but that got fixed fast. (JAWS was one of those in which I hid my eyes for long stretches.)

FAT for Round about the belly was funny on top of GRO. Too many TARTS? ALACK of MRE grub?

I ended up with one mistake in the wee hours, a YAMA Rock. NO WAY. It was easy enough otherwise, and fun. Thanks, Scott.


Van55 10:53 AM  

Didn't know GI Grub was MRE, so I had to guess whether it was AMEND or EMEND. I guessed correctly.

Enjoyed the theme and the slight resistance offered by this Monday entry.

archaeoprof 10:55 AM  

Got home last night from 3 weeks in the Middle East. Nice to find two strong and fun puzzles back to back. I tip my cap to Tony, ACME, and Scott.

I don't see many people doing crosswords in the Middle East. Maybe that's part of the problem...

Retired_Chemist 11:06 AM  

Medium, fun. Slow time - shouldn't worry about it, tired as I was last night. Didn't know several of the names offhand, but as Rex said that was just another slowdown. Not a Natick in the bunch.

Amused by SMOCKED, as were others. Googled "LAB SMOCK" and found several references. Clicked on one titled "lab coats and smocks." ALL its 15 items were called lab coats - "smock" must have been there just to increase hits in online searches. That said I think I can recall someone calling a lab coat a smock. Rare terminology for sure.

ERIE must hold the record for greatest variability of difficulty of cluing. Today was among the easiest. Hardest (for me) was in a recent book I was solving in: "Location of Put-in-Bay." Non-puzzle wife, as often happens, knew it instantly. Turns out some of her family spend vacations there. Who knew?

joho 11:08 AM  

Fun, fun Monday! I had REsaT/sICKEYMOUSE for a sec.

Loved all the KKKKKKKKKKKK.

This puzzle ICKY? NO WAY!

Thanks, Scott!

Unknown 11:25 AM  

I was hoping to see a "Shuffling Bengal" clue so I could enter ICKY WOODS.

Unknown 11:26 AM  

Sorry, ICKEY!

CoolPapaD 11:57 AM  

@SethG - Thanks for the link. We had the lab smock discussion here about 6 or so months ago, and I don't believe anyone raised the point you did, at least with a graphic illustration, so nice!

@archaeoprof - Welcome back. The point you raise is something I've wondered about, though not so much with repsect to the Middle East. I've always wanted to know if the Asian languages, with those amazingly complex characters, lend themselves to crosswords.

I don't believe that there is a terrorist anywhere who wouldn't get a chuckle or two from some of Rex's comments from time to time!

hazel 12:05 PM  

I think lab smocks are what we wore in chemistry lab. They went with the safety goggles.

I liked this puzzle because of the effort and devotion poured into the ICKY theme words, the stars of the show. Outside the theme - LECTERN, NOEND, STEEL, WOE, INN, etc. - backup singers all. Talented, but not show stealers.

Great Monday offering I thought.

Clark 12:21 PM  

Gotta agree with @Wiki in Depth; earmarks these days are appropriations that would never fly on their own.

Quote from the Urban Dictionary: "Wow, Ted! Did you see that stupid bill they are trying to pass? No way I'm gonna vote for that thing. It could destroy us. Unless, of course, I can get some serious pork of my own in there. An earmark or two. Then, who cares!! Free money!!!"

Doc John 12:26 PM  

I just have this to say about the puzzle.

a guy 12:41 PM  

No Steely Dan for us?

mac 1:08 PM  

Nice Monday puzzle, with the only really icky answer remet. I somehow didn't have a problem with smock, although "smocked" reminded me of the lovely little dresses my aunts made for me when I was little.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Good start to the week. Learned a new word, today, emend. Can't say I ever heard of it, or used it, but its always nice to build one's vocabulary.

No ikebana?

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

Would a surprised, dyslexic Brit be gab SMOCKED?

Just asking . . .

------> Joe in NYC

lit.doc 1:42 PM  

Working for a living is so inconvenient. Lunchtime before I get to the puzzle. 8:32 = Good Monday Puzzle, so no real complaints. But I can’t resist.

SAKE reminded me yet again that I can’t freaking spell, and held up SALIENT momentarily. I agree with @Elaine re 4D. Really, shouldn’t that have been the theme-reveal clue? (Am I using that term correctly?)

And when I see claims re “Largest grossing yadda yadda yadda…!” (this is a general grouse, not Scott Atkinson’s fault at all), I wish that they would go to the trouble of adjusting dollar figures for inflation and adjust attendance to reflect total current ticket sales SO THAT THEIR STAT’S WOULD MEAN SOMETHING. There were lots more people going to movies when Jaws came out than when GWTW came out, and the tickets were much less expensive for GWTW.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

Medium-Hard for me and involving a bit of googling for some stuff I just flat out didn't know. I did have to get OMSK on the downs and what annoys me is that it is in a favourite Tom Lehrer song of mine!

Also, who the heck calls it ETAIL anyway? I have never met a single person who has called it that. I've only ever seen it in crosswords.

Charles Bogle 2:20 PM  

Unaware of the Senate ever having REMET as opposed to re-convening but agree that and SMOCKED and ACRED don't materially detract from a nice, full theme and (for me) challenging Monday...SALIENT, SNARE and WHINING my favorite non-fill answers!

chefbea 2:31 PM  

@Mac - I had forgotten about all those smocked dresses my children and I wore. Use to get them at Best & Co. ..... many years ago

PlantieBea 2:40 PM  

@mac and chefbea: Smocked dresses and Polly Flinders. Such wonderful memories of when my D was so little.

chefwen 2:46 PM  

Need to watch more Simpsons, had kwiky mart before KWIK E. Only other write over was IN A YEAR over new year.

A very nice Monday romp, thank you Mr. Atkinson

Kelly 2:51 PM  

for a minute i had "YADA rock" (until i realized how stupid i had been).

sanfranman59 3:33 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)

Mon 7:25, 6:56, 1.07, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:00, 3:41, 1.09, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Steve J 4:18 PM  

@lit.doc: Agreed on how movies are tracked. The financials make sense in terms of understanding if the movie was a success for the studio or not, but saying something is the top-grossing of all-time means next to nothing, because the value of a dollar is quite different today than it was even 35 years ago (let alone 70 years ago).

If you base rankings on ticket sales - which is a far better gauge of popularity than the amount of non-inflation-adjusted dollars spent on the tickets - "Gone with the Wind" is still the most-popular movie ever.

Avatar is (currently) 26th. There's not a single movie from the 2000s in the top 20.

As far as the puzzle, "medium" definitely feels right. Actually had to think a couple times, which is a good thing for a Monday. And only one or two groaners in the clues (which is my new criteria for evaluating quality of fill, rather than amount of three-letter stuff, abbreviations, etc., unless those reach Ooxteplernon levels). More enjoyable than Mondays of late, at least for me.

andricky carlicky mickyels 5:46 PM  

This was tons of fun!!!!!!
I thought quite hard for a Monday bec of all the variant spellings, but it was amazing Scott Atkinson got SIX different spellings for one sound!!!!!!!!

This was the first puzzle in the Silicon Valley Day Crossword competition and unfortunately in trying to do the puzzle under five minutes I threw in AMEND for EMEND bec I didn't know MRE...I left MRA!
But MRE rang a dim bell AS I handed in the puzzle! DAMN!!!!!!!!

True to the theme it was my own personal Nat-icky (?!) moment!

I remained so upset that I had made a one letter mistake (on a MONDAY puzzle no less) knocking me out of the contest from the get-go that I almost needed an MRI!

On a happier note, THANK YOU again for all the wonderful outpouring yesterday for Tony's and my puzzle!!!!!!!!!
I was once again reminded how truly grateful I am for the existence of Rex's
blog without which I would never have gotten to kvell in all the positive feedback... much less get to know how ANYONE (who was not related to me by blood) felt about the puzzle!!!
(Nevermind the friends I've made here, virtual and real)
ok, end of icky sentimentaliticky.

edith b 5:58 PM  

About an average Monday in style. The only problem I had was how ICKI(Y) was spelled and then there was the curveball MICKEY which had me scratching my head for a couple of minutes. Liked it, though

Stan 6:13 PM  

@andrea: Let me express (on behalf of many) feelings of profound sentimentalitickiness toward both your blog contributions and puzzle contributions. There's something delightful about both that can't be pinned down.

Steve Allen 6:52 PM  

smock! smock!

Flowerblogger 6:59 PM  

What about Rikki Tickki Tembo no Sa Rembo. do you remember this Japanese Fold Tale? I would also like to offer the feedback that Peter gordon's puzzles of which I am a subscriber are very skewed to East coast knowledge and they all seem to be very hard compared to the NY Times. I will let him now my thought to, but thought you would want to know. Having recently been to Spain, I could not remember Avila and Omsk was beyond me. Almost everything else emerged in due time.

Sfingi 8:29 PM  

@Rex - didn't notice the theme until I came to your blog.

After I asked my son's friend, who was here fixing things, whether KWIKEMART was correct and what MRE was (not a term used in Hubster's day) the puzzle was EZ. Of course, it's Monday.

SMOCKED, ACRED, JAVAN - 3 words not really spoken and, frankly, clumsy. Does anyone write NCAR?

For a shirt to be SMOCKED it must have SMOCKING, not just once gathering. This is the type of work my mother used to do.


I wanted to say icky ickier ickiest, but I liked the icky parts.

@Archeoprof - I think English lends itself to crosswords because of it's history, in particular 1066. The combining of a 1 and 2 syllable language (Anglo-Saxon, a Germanic) with a multi-syllabic (French, from Latin) saving virtually all the words in some form, created a language twice the size and with more variability than others.

I'm jammied, so g'night.

Elaine 8:35 PM  

Glad you are back safely! Some of these puzzles lately have been exciting. Today's --not so much. That can be good on the day one lands, eh?

chefbea 8:39 PM  

@sfingi thanks for the smock-ing

mac 10:20 PM  

@Andrea: those e-friends are friends, believe me!

@Sfingi: if there is a NDak there is a NCar.

sanfranman59 10:51 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 7:39, 6:56, 1.10, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:54, 3:41, 1.06, 74%, Medium-Challenging

dls 7:32 AM  

Did anyone else reflexively want OBAMA for a five-letter "Certain Indonesian". Yeah, I don't feel good about that.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

27A: Dr. with several Grammys (Phil)

You meant to say: (Dre)

xyz 4:45 PM  

I was on vacation, late to the party, catching up puzzle wise. Good little one here, struggled most in SW with a few answers I didn't know so had to experiment, agree with parshutr (BTW, I shot 2 under on Weds!) mediums are really about the most satisfying, but 2 under is even better.

MikeinSTL 8:54 AM  

I liked KWIK-E-MART! Although I would think that SPRAWL MART and TRY-N-SAVE sell Krusty-Os too. Maybe even GULP-N-BLOW does!

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