Pop maker in nursery rhyme / MON 4-12-10 / Vampire's undoing / Large gully / So-called universal donor blood

Monday, April 12, 2010

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: PASTIMES (48A: Diversions ... as hinted at by the ends of 17-, 34- and 52-Across) — theme answers end with SORRY, CLUE, and RISK, respectively

Word of the Day: Zora NEALE Hurston (26D: Author Zora ___ Hurston) —

Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an American folklorist and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Of Hurston's four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. [...] John McWhorter has called Hurston "America's favorite black conservative." She was a Republican who was generally sympathetic to the Old Right and a fan of Booker T. Washington's self-help politics. She disagreed with the philosophies (including Communism and the New Deal) supported by many of her colleagues in the Harlem Renaissance, such as Langston Hughes, who was in the 1930s a supporter of the Soviet Union and praised it in several of his poems. Despite much common ground with the Old Right in domestic and foreign policy, Hurston was not a social conservative. Her writings show skepticism toward traditional religion and affinity for feminist individualism. In this respect, her views were similar to two libertarian novelists who were her contemporaries, Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson. (wikipedia)
• • •

On the plus side, at a mere 74 words, this grid is (for a Monday) wide open, and jam-packed with solid and often sassy fill. Even some of the short fill, like JIVE (23A: Deceptive talk, in slang) and WART (11D: Witch's blemish), has personality. Throw in WEASEL (42A: Pop maker in a nursery rhyme) and (my favorite) NAME DROP (35D: Try to impress in a conversation, say), and you've got a pretty spicy concoction, especially for a Monday. On the down side, PASTIMES?? I think you mean BOARD GAMES. Yes, BOARD GAMES are a subset of the much larger category of PASTIMES, but come on, if I had a puzzle where the theme answers ended with BEAGLE, BOXER, and GREYHOUND, and then tied them all together with MAMMALS, you'd rightly wonder "what the hell?" The once-removey nature of the theme-revealer is distracting and awkward. Also, having GAMES in the grid (at TIE GAMES —> 20A: They go into overtime), and symmetrical with PASTIMES, but not theme-related, felt distracting and awkward. To the theme's credit, all the theme answers are in the form of spoken statements, so it's got a consistency even beyond the board game ... I mean PASTIME endings. THUS (which was my initial answer for 1A: As a result -> ERGO), despite clunkiness of PASTIMES, I come down solidly on the pro-puzzle side of things. A sweet Monday lark.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: "My deepest apologies" ("I'M TERRIBLY SORRY")
  • 34A: "No idea" ("I HAVEN'T GOT A CLUE")
  • 52A: "Let's take that gamble" ("IT'S WORTH THE RISK")
Here's a question I have about RE MI (2D: Notes after do): Does this mean that all such pairings are valid answers? Will I be seeing MIFA and TIDO in puzzles some time soon. Proximity to the original DO seems to matter. Lots of REMIs, but only one MIFA and absolutely no TIDOs, according to the cruciverb.com database. Curious.

  • 4D: So-called universal donor blood (O NEGATIVE) — I love the "so-called" part of this clue ... like the blood is going around putting on airs, calling itself "universal," and all the other bloods are like, "Who does he think he is?"
  • 9D: Vampire's undoing (DAYLIGHT) — Slow on this one, even with the DA- in place. Only answers that were coming to mind were DAGGER and GARLIC.

  • 18D: Large gully (RAVINE) — kept reading this as [Large gull] ...
  • 27D: Car with a big carrying capacity, informally (WAGON) — I was looking for something a little bigger.

  • 51D: 32-card game (SKAT) — Also a PASTIME, I'd imagine.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 1:16 AM  


How about BOARD GAMES.

syndy 1:22 AM  

you can't blame ian after all he vetoed pastimes;didnt he!

lit.doc 1:28 AM  

@Rex, your “PASTIMES = MAMMALS = overly broad class” critique hangs on 20A being “not theme-related”. In fairness to Ian Livengood, however, that the theme device involves the last word of a phrase would seem to make the TIE of 20A irrelevant, and so GAMES, symmetrical with and thus indicating a subset of PASTIMES, seems to mitigate the apparent broadness of the theme-reveal.

And I cannot be the only solver who had 33A LIME before SALT.

Falconer 1:37 AM  

Despite being an avid card player I have never heard of SKAT. I read in Wikipedia that it's the national game of Silesia, so maybe I just don't hang out in the right circles. Dear xword friends across the land, is this a common game in the German-influenced corners of the United States?

syndy 1:39 AM  

and how about bowling or drama.hand up for salt: is that really a garnish?or an intregal part of the drink

andrea ""drop michaels 2:08 AM  

Loved this!!!
Nice phrases with SORRY, CLUE, RISK
with the bonus ones @sydney pointed out...
My only complaint with PASTIMES is I always want to spell it with two T's!
PASTIMES looks like some fancy French dessert pronounced "pass-teems".

Sweet sweet puzzle, and of course, how could I not love a puzzle with BOTH the Golden GATE Bridge and NAME DROP?
(Jason, Etta, and both Avas told me they loved it too.)

PLUME in Ian's cap...clearly is Liven'good!

andrea where are my keys michaels 2:10 AM  

oops, that is @Syndy...forgive me

chefwen 2:24 AM  

Welcome back Rex, Puzzle Girl kept us highly amused while you were away.

Thought of andrea immediately while filling in 35D. We love you girl!!!!
Keep 'em dropping. I also wanted two tt's in PASTIMES.

A fun and not too easy Monday

Anonymous 2:37 AM  

Universal donor blood is of course O NEGATIVE as shown in grid and not O POSITIVE as listed in Bullets.

Consistency is the hobgoblin ...

Gubdude 6:24 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle. I don't know if it was just really easy or I just happened to know theme answers right away but this produced my fastest time ever.

And I definitely thought games or board games would bring things together and not PASTIMES, but not really going to complain about it.

ArtLvr 7:17 AM  

Neat debut, congrats to Ian! My only question was about T-MAN's clue as Federal agent investigating taxes. Taxes? Timely, but I thought they went after forgers!


Parshutr 7:26 AM  

@anonymous: Consistency is the hobgoblin...of small minds.
I first heard of Skat reading Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" 5+ decades ago.
DoReMi is a standalone phrase (per Woody Guthrie) for money. "If you ain't got the DoReMi..."

Elaine 7:49 AM  

I agree that IRS agents are hardly being called T-MAN in general. Anyone else try SUNLIGHT before DAYLIGHT?
Not much to say-- fresh puzzle, good fill, not nearly enough PASTIMES. (Ask me how many fish I caught! to make up for my husband's whacking me at cards...)
See you tomorrow!

jesser 7:52 AM  

It was easy and enjoyable.

It is Monday, and I overslept.

That is the entirety of my report.

Primid! (Where Tut overslept) -- jesser

fikink 8:05 AM  

Much to play with in the scale. You could have silly combos clued with legitimacies like
DODO bird
george SOLTI
DOREMI, "cabbage"

and then there is The Music Man: "Now don't dawdle, Amaryllis, play your exercises: SO DO LA RE TI MI - a little slower and please keep your fingers curved as nice and high as you possibly can. Don't get faster, dear..."

Loved JIVE !

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

Nice Monday, but boy, was I scratching my head when I saw boardgames wouldn't fit 48A.

@AndreaWAMCKMichaels- I wanted 2 t's as well.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:39 AM  

Nice Monday puzzle; . . what Rex said.

And since Andrea has already taken a bow for the shout-out at 35 D, nothing more to say. :)

dk 9:03 AM  

LATTES, WEASEL and PHDS, it all works for me.

Board games were often referred to as PASTIMES in the young dk LAIRS. The boards at the lake place were held together with masking tape until someone had the bright rainy day ideal of gluing them to plywood and coating them with spar varnish. Also, The grand pp's car was referred to as the beach WAGON -- but we were admonished not to track sand in it, never quite figured that out... oh well some mysteries are best left unsolved.

OldCarFudd 9:10 AM  

I wanted, and got, a pleasant diversion after the recent late-week debacles. Tried thus for 1A and daybreak for the vampire.

chefbea 9:10 AM  

I was live-n-good with this puzzle. Thanks Ian.!! Lentils, home cooking - what more could you want??
Well maybe a red veggie. Going to make pea soup today with the easter ham bone. yummm

joho 9:18 AM  

@Rex ... love your description of ONEGATIVE putting on airs. I also had the same reaction to PASTIMES stealing the spot where boardgames should be. Still, a fun Monday with a dark-sided mini-theme as witches have WARTS and concoct BREWS, a MAGE casts spells perhaps to ward off OGRES and vampires before they flee the DAYLIGHT.

Thank you Ian Livengood ... love your last name and hope that you are!

Glitch 9:22 AM  

Internal Revenue Service is part of the United States Department of the Treasury making agents,T-Men.

Margaritas have salt on the rim of the glass thus more of a garnish than ingredient.

Vampires are allowed out on cloudy days, it's the SUN light thats a problem

There is no such thing as a Mexican Dollar per se.

48A DIVERSIONS = PASTIMES, "as hinted...", not defined.

REMI, FASOL, SOLLA, should get the same respect as any alphabet run.

I liked this Monday puzzle.


addie loggins 10:02 AM  

I am unfamiliar with SKAT, and so had no clue that my "OCTI" was wrong. Bummer! Otherwise loved the puzzle (though, like ACME, I wanted two Ts in PASTIMES).

Initially wrote "Nths" for PHDS (highest degrees), but Live Free OR DIE straightened me out.

@Glitch: I'm sure you're right about the origin of T-MAN, which is funny because I always just assumed it was short for Tax Man.


JC66 10:08 AM  

@ACME, et al.

For me, PASTIMES has always had an S missing, not a T, as in *pass the time.*

Hand up for lime.

mac 10:15 AM  

I liked this puzzle, too. Had to do it online, I miss muy paper!
The sun is shining in NYC, a bad day for vampires.

@Falconer: When we lived in Hamburg, Germany, I found out that the drivers of my husbands company always played skat in the little office in the garage when they had some quiet time.

Thanks for the link, Rex, I just read an interesting piece about Rose Wilder Lane. I got my first "Little House" book when I was 6.

Maccutl?? Mac cutl? That sounds better.

Two Ponies 10:23 AM  

I saw a mini Halloween theme here.
Two witch clues, a vampire, and a mage.
Very nice debut Ian L.
I always feel embarrassed for Elvis when his middle name comes up. Did his mother not know how to spell?
I'm hoping for a more successful week of puzzles after last week's debaucle.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

mage and skat were new to me, had'em but hadn't known 'em. easy monday. btb rex, love this site, makes my morning after solving and in the latter part of the week, sometimes before!

fikink 10:42 AM  

@OldCarFudd, Hand up for THUS.

@Glitch, and my dictionary says that SOLLA is a town in Togo.

Tinbeni 10:45 AM  

WTF, It was my left-over mantra from Friday & Saturday.

DAYLIGHT-v-sunlight, I never dwell on made up BS either way.

@Falconer: SKAT I learned from crosswords. Didn't Grand Fenwick kick Silesia ass also?

@Lit.doc: I don't care for drinks with a garnish.

@Chefbea: I like your red veggie over LENTIL

@PG as a tribute to you, my captcha is 'ressling

Stan 11:21 AM  

A pleasant Monday diversion. And now back to the dread W-2s and 1099s.

archaeoprof 11:27 AM  

Fun, lively Monday, especially after the recent outbreak of DNFs. Thanks, Ian.

Nothing in this puzzle has anything to do with Alan Jackson, but the concert last night was really good.

Arnold Schoenberg 11:56 AM  

@Two Ponies --

Clearly, Elvis's mother came from an opera-loving crowd:

Moses und Aron (English:Moses and Aaron) is a three-act opera by Arnold Schoenberg with the third act unfinished. The German libretto was by the composer after the Book of Exodus.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Being new to this blog, I see that people reference various other puzzles, such as latimes, etc.
Two questions: What is CS? and, what are other good ones? Thanks in advance.

Ian Livengood 12:11 PM  

I'm glad most people liked the puzzle. It was fun to construct, so hopefully I get more puzzles in the NYT. Enjoy!

-- Ian Livengood

Steve J 12:11 PM  

I have a mixed reaction to this one. Had the same thoughts as Rex about PASTIMES. I also felt there was an odd datedness to parts of the puzzle. JIVE - both the word and the form of slang - is a good 30 years past its prime. WAGONs in the sense used here died out about 20 years ago (although they're making a bit of a comeback in bastardized form via "crossovers").

The reference to the top film of 1977 added to that dated feeling for me (also, it was probably extraneous; Star WARS is one of those things that, even on a Monday, I'm guessing most people would think of immediately upon seeing a clue of Star ___.

On the plus side, not much fill that I rolled my eyes at (other than SSE, more so for the cluing; I guess it is a Monday). Overall, good effort and nice solve, even with the couple glitches.

Steve J 12:14 PM  

BTW, the consistency/hobgoblin line that's had a couple mentions in the comments today has to be the most frequently misquoted line this side of the erroneous "Money is the root of all evil." And like that money quote, the common use completely changes the meaning of the original.

The original: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

Nothing hobgobliny about consistency. Only slavish devotion to it.

Much like the love of money is truly the root of evil.

Captcha: compat. Fighting via light taps on the head or back.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Nice puzzle! I was hoping for video from the awesome band Type O Negative in your write up.

Helpful Guy 12:22 PM  

@Anon 12:04 - CS is probably CrosSynergy, which is a nice puzzle. A good site to look at is either Cruciverb, or this. You will have to register, for free, at Cruciverb. Which are good? Whichever ones you like.

lit.doc 12:51 PM  

@Anon 12:04, see also http://www.vishniac.com/ephraim/puzzle-pointers.html for puzzle links.

Sfingi 1:06 PM  

Got the items without the theme, which is fine, since I don't know RISK or SCAT. Or TREO.

@Rex - thanx for info on Zora's politics.

@Steve - and there's something wrong with being 30 years past one's prime?
I have a loaded 2003 Taurus wagon for carrying my favorite item of hoarding - books. It sports the plate OCDOCD. I bought it 2 years ago with only 12K miles on it, which I've doubled. Wagons are great for shorties, since a ladder is not needed. It doesn't flip over like SUVs do, since it has a lower center of gravity. It has one fuzzy die so I can correct people who ask me why I have only one "dice." The only thing it can't carry is a full size mattress, and I can borrow an SUV from any number of fools.

@Parshutr - great oldster comments!

I had Trek before WARS. All the same to me.

Didn't know if actors would pursue ROLE or "fame" until I got the L.

I misinterpreted III (three) in modern Rome as "ill" in modern Rome, and had mal before tre.

I like it when 2 answers might work.

O- I am. But I'm so old that they gave me a transfusion from my mother (I heard they're still doing this in Russia) which caused me to develop antibodies against not A but +.

@Ian Livengood. - Since I've retired I am livin' good. I prefer SCRABBLE, and I heard they changed the rules. Hope not.

@Andrea - I agree on pasttimes. How about pastini?

Warts - I always associate them with old witches and make sure I get them removed, though insurance stopped covering them. Tom Sawyer suggested "spunk-water," rain water from a tree stump, to remove warts. That's not covered either.

@Syndi - Salt is an integral part of life, and many have died pursuing it or lacking it. Syracuse, NY, was founded on it. We have so much of it nowadays, and we live so long, that it's a blood pressure concern.

@TwoPonies - I always felt Elvis' mother missed her chance to brag about his childhood and bring out the photos.

@Glitch - but they'll still take American dollars.

MAGE. magus, whatever.
This debut promises some good future CWs.

retired_chemist 1:09 PM  

What everybody said. Nice debut. Hand up for LIME @ 33A.

foodie 1:29 PM  

I was thinking that this puzzle was like a lovely palate cleanser after the heavy taste of the last few PASTIMES. But this does not mean it wasn't tasty in its own right... Palate cleansers can be lively, for example with ginger or mint to wake up your taste buds. This puzzle had exactly the right amount of zing!

And if I were a new Monday constructor and got Rex's mostly positive commentary and Andrea's seal of approval, I'd know that I was Livengood.

Steve J 1:43 PM  

@Sfingi: I stand corrected. Star ___ could be Star Wars or Star Trek (and this shows you my relative enthusiasm for the latter, as it never entered my mind that Star TREK could be a valid answer to the clue I suggested). So, yes, the clue for 57A indeed needed a modifier.

And, of course, there's nothing wrong with things past their heyday. I myself drive what would be considered a small wagon (they're still quite popular in Europe, and a few have trickled over here). The answers today just reminded me a lot of the 70s for some reason. That could easily be just me. In fact, that's likely.

Cathyat40 3:29 PM  



Masked and Anonymous 3:43 PM  

Thumbs way up, especially for a Monday puz. Keep 'em comin', Ian!

Looks like the constructor's an old Parker Brothers game fan. Shame Monopoly wouldn't fit, too. Or Rook, Flinch, Pit or Touring...

Glitch 4:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glitch 4:09 PM  


Subaru Wagons (like mine) were made until just this year, replaced by the "new" Outback.

Actually, Edmonds lists 39 Wagons (and 119 Crossovers) for model year 2010.

Wagons dying, but not dead yet ;)


sanfranman59 4:11 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 6:40, 6:55, 0.96, 45%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:36, 3:40, 0.98, 49%, Medium

Joe 5:27 PM  

I'm with Anonymous (the first).
To me, sitting in a hammock and picking my nose would be a PASTIME.

I had SUNLIGHT instead of DAYLIGHT, at first, but I had never heard of the EBOLU virus.

Ian Livengood?

Sign me--Joe Poopenfine.

Maineiac 8:31 PM  

Only thing I didn't know was MAGE; had to get it from crosses & thought it must be crosswordese till I saw this: "An archaic word revived by fantasy games." Nice puzzle for a Monday.

Yes, Virginia 10:46 PM  

@ Randy and everyone,
I just figured mage was the singular of magi and some root word of magician, right?
Revived for fantasy games means nothing to me.

sanfranman59 1:35 AM  

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 6:44, 6:55, 0.97, 48%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:40, 0.97, 48%, Medium

sean m 2:58 AM  

mondays are just so easy, it's hard for me to really feel satisfied or not.

this one had a nice enough theme.

though i'm fond of star wars clues, i'm never very happy to be reminded of ewoks.

i mostly think of mondays as time trials. this one took 6:56.

tim 5:09 PM  

I feel nerdily compelled to point out that there were no existing Jedi when Ewoks helped the rebels. According to Yoda, Luke would become a Jedi only after confronting Vader, and that happened after (or during) the assault on Endor. Perhaps one could strain facts to say that there was some overlap, but still, there was only one, not "knights" as clued. It was my first time seeing what might be considered an error in cluing for the NYT crossword. OK, so what if it's fiction and doesn't really matter?

It did, however, make me think that The Jedi Knights might be a funny band name. (Been done, I've no doubt.)

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