Man-shaped mug / TUE 10-19-10 / Pioneering DJ Freed / Westernmost Aleutian / Onetime colonial power in Philippines / Hunter's garb for short

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Constructor: Fred Piscop

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: OR to -ER — common blank-OR-blank phrases are reimagined as "blankER blank" phrases, and clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: ALAN Freed (63A: Pioneering D.J. Freed) —

Albert James "Alan" Freed (December 15, 1921 – January 20, 1965), also known as Moondog, was an American disc-jockey. He became internationally known for promoting African-American rhythm and blues music on the radio in the United States and Europe under the name of rock and roll. His career was destroyed by the payola scandal that hit the broadcasting industry in the early 1960s. (wikipedia)
• • •
Felt easy, but stupid mistakes (several) kept me at or maybe even a little higher than my average Tuesday time. Somehow thought JAPAN was the 10D: Onetime colonial power in the Philippines (SPAIN). Later thought ALAN was STAN and GLUM (36D: Wearing a long face) was GRIM. The latter two errors were particularly costly, time-wise, because the crosses didn't help me correct them, so I just got stuck. I mean, Dover SOLE?? Not on my menu (53D). As for the puzzle a whole: the theme—not very interesting. The fill—fine, with ATTU (19A: Westernmost Aleutian) and DIRK (40A: Dagger) being the icky crosswordese outliers in an otherwise pretty solid, mostly unremarkable grid.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Seventh day, in the Bible? (MAKER BREAK)
  • 11D: One-third of a strikeout? (HITTER MISS)
  • 28D: Statue of a post-W.W. II baby? (BOOMER BUST)
  • 60A: $10 bill enclosed in a Valentine card? (LOVER MONEY) — this one doesn't work so well; "Love or Money" is not really a self-standing phrase—kind of stupid-looking without the "For" in front of it, or some context to make it meaningful

  • 45A: Hunter's garb, for short (CAMO) — Like it. Seems like a word that should appear in the grid much more often than it does.

  • 64A: Home, sweet home (ABODE) — "sweet home" is gratuitous, even misleading. There is nothing "sweet" about ABODE (a clinical term that no one would use in an affectionate way)
  • 55D: Man-shaped mug (TOBY) — also, the not-very-lovable loser HR guy on "The Office"
  • 5D: Ricocheted, as a cue ball (CAROMED) — Love the word — feels almost onomatopoetic, while also sounding like "caramel." Silent 't' in "Ricocheted" looks nuts if you stare at it too long.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. Pomona College Magazine's fall issue is out, with nice article on crossword puzzles featuring several students and alums who are constructors, including Xan Vongsathorn ('09), Joel Fagliano ('14!), and ... me ('91). Online edition is not up yet—I'll link to it when it is. I've done many interviews in the past few years, and this one came out better than any of the others.


foodie 12:16 AM  


LOL, quite a line.

A nice counterpart is STUDS in the middle of the puzzle. Sadly, clued as earrings--a lost opportunity...

Is that how you spell SLOSHY??? Not SLuSHY? I guess the first is like mud and the second is like snow?

That's the one that gave me fits and blocked Mr. Happy Pencil's emergence for a while.

chefwen 1:08 AM  

Another great little puzzle to jump start the week.

I've always used the expression neither LOVE nor MONEY, not or. I guess they can both work.

Mentioned to my Brittany Spaniel mix that there was a shout out in the puzzle for him in the form of a man shaped mug, he yawned!

Husband makes a killer Dover SOLE, got the recipe from the North Hills Country Club in Milwaukee, I would travel miles for it and fish is not high on my list of things to eat. That's a real shame when one lives in the middle of a really big ocean. Maybe someday I'll warm up to it.

Octavian 1:15 AM  

Great theme, very nicely clued -- loved it. If you don't like this type of early-week puzzle, you might as well stop doing xwords because this is what it's all about.

Thought all the theme entries were very clever. Lover Money, Maker Break, Boomer Bust, Hitter Miss. To me they are all pitch perfect. Nice job, Fred.

foodie 1:24 AM  

@chefwen, I agree Dover SOLE tastes wonderful. I just discovered a recipe to cook it with artichoke. Sounds like it might be very good, but have not tried it yet.

PurpleGuy 1:59 AM  

A very nice Tuesday puzzle. Liked the theme and the clever clueing.
Good writeup Rex, as usual. Thanks for the videos.

Have a wonderful day all !!!

Shanti -


@Tinbeni - shall we have ONEMORE ???

@Jesser - we toast you with the Bullitt.

Steve J 2:23 AM  

I found this one a little bit of a mixed bag. I liked the theme overall, and found three of the four theme answers to be good and nicely clued. But I didn't find that much interesting in the rest of the fill, although I agree CAMO is nice and is surprisingly not in crosswords more often.

I was also slowed by a couple mistakes. I also had SLUSHY instead of SLOSHY (I should have listened to the voice in my head that said mud and slush are not synonymous, at least not without snow or ice involved). But, since Inka Dinka DOO means nothing to me, the cross wasn't obvious.

I got stuck with LOVERMONEY. Actually, I got stuck at LOVERM-NE-Y. Could not for the life of me remember what baticking was, and I had no idea there was any kind of mug called a TOBY. And the them phrase just would not come to me, precisely because it's missing the "for," while the other theme answers stand on their own.

Eventually pushed an O in, because that was the only thing that made sense phonetically for the down, and finally the lightbulb went off.

Steve J 2:24 AM  

Oh, Rex, forgot to add: curse you for getting "Word Up" stuck in my head. One of my most loathed songs of my high school years. I'm just glad you didn't take advantage of FALCO in the grid and toss in "Rock Me Amadeus."

chefwen 2:43 AM  

@foodie - Thanks for the recipe link, I'll make it for M & D next trip to the mainland. I'm pretty sure we can't get sole here, at least I've never seen it. Mom probably wouldn't know an artichoke from a potato these days but she still seems to enjoy my cooking, thank God.

D_Blackwell 3:17 AM  

Who can explain why some YouTube videos play on my Android browser, and others don't? (Love the new 4G Samsung Epic. Couple of issues with email, but I can live with them.)

andrea caromed michaels 4:04 AM  

"P, in Greece" threw me for a loop.
I thought "PI, of course...but that's two letters. Do they mean PHI? PSI? oh! RHO!"

Maybe if SLOSHY was clued as "Like a drunk's speech" it, ironically, would have been clearer?

Pretty solid theme, but this puzzle caused me to realize I really want all my puzzles to be Scrabbly, which I suppose is unfair. But this had but a couple of Vs in the whole grid, 3 K's, 3 Y's in the bottom SE, that's it!
XJKQZ please.

JaxInL.A. 4:22 AM  

@D_Blackwell, though I have no answer for your Android problem, please allow me to vent a similar frustration. I solve almost exclusively on this nifty iPad that came into my life as a gift from a stranger (long story, nice person). I love so many things about it that I would not know where to begin, but I do wish that Apple would resolve its issues with Adobe so that we could see the videos Rex posts. Today is the first time that I remember not being able to see even one of them. Very frustrating.

@Rex, is it possible to have a label shown up for those of us unable, for whatever reason, to see the linked videos? I know nothing about whether this is possible, and you already spend a great deal of time putting this thing together. Nonetheless, I love the commentary implied in your choices, and regret when I can't tell what you have selected. Some sort of label would allow those of us who share this problem at least to get the reference you make.

Thanks for considering it.

JaxInL.A. 4:43 AM  

Oh, and please allow me to wish @Andrea a belated happy birthday. Sick kid, balky Blogger dumped my post, didnt have a chance to say it yesteday.

Who cares if we have never met in person? A party's a party. As someone who recently made it to the shady side of the half-century mark, I'd like to assure you that the weather's fine over here.

The Hag 7:07 AM  

I liked a lot of the fill. I think SLOSHY is a great word, but to me it implies motion which I don't really get from "mud puddle". A mud puddle could sit forever and never get sloshed. A wet mop or a full bathtub strike me as more probable sloshers.

I'd never heard of a TOBY. There's a specific word for a mug that is shaped liked a man wearing a hat - and not just any old hat apparently, but one with three corners! I think that's pretty cool.

madrugada 7:57 AM  

TOBY???? Who knew? Now we all do. SLOSHY bugged.

The Big E 8:10 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle! After too long of a period of time being absent from wonderful, fun, tricky, (and sometimes lame) clues and puzzles, I am finally back in the swing of things doing my puzzle every morning... I missed you NY Times puzzle...
For some annoying reason I cannot fathom, I could NOT for the life of me think of mustard when I had:
M _ S T A _ D... Felt like a maroon!

But I liked "morel." Been eating a lot more mushrooms, particularly in my omelettes, and really liked seeing that!

Hope all is well, and Happy Puzzling!

The Big E 8:11 AM  

Oh yeah - loved "sloshy!" :-)

parshutr 8:28 AM  

Medium...YES. got stuck in NW becz of MIMER instead of MIMIC, finally figured out the R stands for OR, which yielded CAROMED, and was done in a flash.

dk 8:28 AM  

Rex's Pomona references always make me think of Afghan Fries at Walters with chutney as the condiment.

A belated birthday greeting to Andrea as well.

Solid Tuesday puzzle.

** (2 Stars)

Golfballman 8:33 AM  

Its been years and years and years since i"ve seen Geritol in a puzzle

Diana Holquist 8:35 AM  

Loved this puzzle. It all came together, but wasn't too easy.

Got Lover Money first, and thought the theme was switch the words to get a common phrase: Money Lover! For some reason, my pre-coffee brain thought that Miss Hitter made perfect sense, as did Break Maker. Y'know, "That miss-hitter was a big break maker for the Phils over the hapless Reds..."

Guess I still have "no-hitter" in my head, so why not miss-hitter? (Def: when a no-hitter is achieved with all swinging strike-outs.)


PanamaRed 8:47 AM  

Liked this puzzle - and am old enough to remember watching Jimmy Durante sing INKA DINKA DOO - practically his theme song. Often followed by his walk-off line, "good night Mrs Calabash, where ever you are."

joho 8:52 AM  

@andrea caromed ... I think a drunk gets SLOSHED then SLURS. I do think a mud puddle is actually SLOSHY!

I thought the theme was cute making this a fresh Tuesday effort. Thank you, Fred!

mmorgan 8:53 AM  

I was also GLUM because I had GRIM at first.

Loved the theme answers! They all felt just right. Very enjoyable.

I knew RHO (also the symbol for a correlation coefficient) but first had PHI and did not like the resulting INKEY.

So many cute headlines in this one:


But why do we always get Evita and never Isabel?

jesser 8:56 AM  

The only Toby I know is the little Yorkie who shares his daily glee with me and son Daniel. I love his little mug!

Like others, I loved SLOSHY, but when I had __OSHY in place, I badly wanted the probably-made-up goOSHY. The cowboy saved me. What a STUD!

I thought the theme was fresh and funny, sort of like my (most recent) ex (there have been three). Alas, he was a bit of a FIBBER, it turned out.

@Purple Guy: Thanks for the toast! This evening, I'll pull the Bullitt from the cabinet and return the flavor.

@Rex: I will never be able to look at the word 'ricocheted' again without thinking of you and grinning about that sadly situated t. You slay me, sir!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Togisti! (After I toast Purple Guy and the blog, I'll raise one to Gisti just for the third snort.) -- jesser

glimmerglass 9:25 AM  

Easy. Almost too easy for a Monday. Just filled in the squares without a miss or a pause. The theme is cute but also easy to catch and apply. "Sloshy" seems a made-up word to me, and a couple of clues happened to be right in my wheelhouse and therefor harder for others, but this was probably my fastest time of the year (I don't keep track).
A "Toby jug" is a (beer) mug with a man's face.

John V 9:30 AM  

Nice, easy Tuesday. Only quibble was 42D/45A: Did not like camo. Re: 42D, when solving on the train, an hour ago, I read the clue as "Loch Lomond locale and therefore thought the answer lame. Looking at it as I write, I now see the clue is local. Funny how that happens, to all us, I suspect.

Am I alone in thinking that the difficulty gradient from Monday to Saturday has steepened lately, easier early, much harder end of week?

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

FWIW, Love or Money is a self-standing phrase if you have Joni Mitchell's Miles of Aisles album.

(I'm not saying "for love or money" isn't a much more common phrase, just that this didn't seem odd to me as I solved the puzzle because this song popped into my head.)

Bob Kerfuffle 10:05 AM  

Easy but cute.

After I got the first theme answer, I wrote in the other three with no crosses.

Van55 10:25 AM  

I really enjoyed the punny theme answers. Liked most of the fill too, though RAGA, EBON, ANON and REDO at the bottom seemed a little tired to me. Yesterday's was a tough act to follow, but this one did admirably for me.

Two Ponies 10:37 AM  

I liked this one just fine. The fill was fun with some tired but mostly not-so-tired fill.
Toby was new to me as well.
Last week we were talking about Jimmy Durante because of the Augie Doggy/Doggy Daddy cartoon and here he is again.
I want WAY more than $10 in my valentine!

Noam D. Elkies 10:38 AM  

I guess 64A:ABODE might be sweet in the context of "welcome to our humble…" if anybody says that anymore with a straight face.


archaeoprof 10:45 AM  

Loved MAKERBREAK. Nice pun, and nifty play with A,E,R,and K.

Never heard of Dover SOLE. Will try it sometime.

Mel Ott 10:48 AM  

I really, really liked MAKER BREAK. Too much perhaps, because by comparison I was disappointed in the other theme answers.

Sparky 10:58 AM  

Welcome back The Big E. I was just wondering about you the other day. Found this fairly easy. After many years messing with antiques TOBY filled right in. Week off to a good start. I am a homo sapian too.

SethG 11:30 AM  

If you're trying to rationalize SLOSHY by saying that it fits the clue better than SLUSHY, note that most dictionaries define sloshy as, well, slushy. Unfortunate to cross that vowel with a spelling of a sound-effect.

I read [Horatian creation] as if Horatio wrote odes, and the extra syllable ruins the intended effect. SHAG and TAKES OUT are in the wrong order. I knew SPAIN from my Filipino friend's Greek/Spanish name. And GLUM is an ultimate team from Ottawa and is the 3 seed in the Masters division of next week's USA Ultimate Club Championships.

Matthew G. 11:47 AM  

I actually liked the theme, as these things go. Having resigned myself to a few puzzles a week of pun themes, I at least found these to be non-groaners and a couple -- MAKER BREAK and HITTER MISS -- were genuinely good. BOOMER BUST and LOVER MONEY (especially) were less sparkling, but not horrid.

I am a seafood fiend, so Dover SOLE jumped right out at me. Had never heard of a TOBY mug, although a quick Google
Images search after the solve revealed that I've _seen_ many of them over the years without knowing there was a word for them.

Somewhat annoyingly, if you enter "Toby (mug)" into Wikipedia, it redirects you to the entry for "Mug" but then says nothing whatsoever about Tobys.

Ulrich 12:03 PM  

Who in his right mind would include a bill in a Valentine card (am I unaware of some custom by the natives here?). In any case, I can think of very appropriate clues for "lover money", although they would probably not pass the NYT test of propriety.

Still, liked the puzzle and found it easy--again.

@foodie: I, too, will be looking at that recipe.

ArtLvr 1:00 PM  

Lots to like! Pun theme. Foods such as SOLE and MOREL with a TOBY jug and NAPA, the Vintner's valley, -- even if a BUN SLOSHY with MUSTARD isn't my thing. ROOT missed a chance to throw in a veggie.

I thought the echoing "Homo" clues for the GENUS followed by MAN were clever, as were unrelated CAM and CAMO near each other. The PLASMAS probably would have been "Sera" in most xwords.

I'll bet that @Andrea will get more scrabbly words as the week wears on, but I enjoyed the variety here just as much, from FIBBER to GERITOL...

Does a POSSE leap to mind to SPUR conflict with STATE LAW if a constructor's name hints at legalese? Nice one in any case, Mr. PisCOP!


fuggi -- what one's mind may be after a late night!

TC 1:08 PM  

I found today's theme and fills to be very dry. I think Fred was trying a little too hard to be clever, and some of it fell flat. Also, are mud puddles sloshy?

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

@TC and others re: SLOSHY

Imagine stepping in a mud puddle and trying to get out of it again before the water SLOSHes back onto your shoe - virtually impossible not to get SLOSHed.


Anonymous 1:24 PM  

@SethG: You mean the same USA Ultimate Club Championships with your team as the top seed? Good luck.

shrub5 2:39 PM  

Nifty puzzle -- no real problems although I first had AMMO before CAMO (from --MO) thinking of the strips of bullets across the chest....

@RP: LOL at your Pomona College comment with constructor in class of '14. Man, that guy is old! Oh, wait, that's 2014. ('doh) Both are exclamation point-worthy.

I, too, remember Inka Dinka DOO sung by The Schnoz in his gravelly voice.

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

Isn't it boom AND bust?

sanfranman59 4:14 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 7:27, 8:56, 0.83, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:05, 4:36, 0.89, 10%, Easy

Lookup Guy 4:27 PM  

@Anon 3:09p

Boom AND Bust: Relatively common [stock] market term (see also Pump and Dump)

Boom OR Bust: Relatively uncommon, used as the possible outcome of a risky venture.

Mitch 4:39 PM  

I read your blog fairly often (whenever I can get my hands on a NYTimes crossword puzzle that come free at my school) and I had no idea you went to Pomona. Go Sagehens!

ArtLvr 4:45 PM  

Oops! I omitted the MELT, equally good in a food list and also with SLOSHY stuff where we want Galoshes. (Not a portmanteau, but an artifact dating from the 14th century.) And their season is coming back all too soon...


mac 5:05 PM  

Nice puzzle and cute theme! Never heard of Inka Dinka Doo or camo, but I don't think I had any write-overs today. Maybe a little easy for a Tuesday?

Love Dover sole, cooked in butter, with a little lemon juice. I also love artichokes, but would not add them to this fish. It's quite expensive and hard to find, and very different (firmer) from grey and lemon sole. Apparently there is a Pacific version, but it is still not as good as the real thing.

In England mugs with faces of political figures of the early 1900s are very collectible and expensive. Wonder if they are called Toby mugs as well.

fikink 5:27 PM  

@Ulrich, you are so correct in your thinking about putting money in a Valentine. Such is the state of grace these days...(sigh)

chefwen 5:35 PM  

@Clark - You and semi puzzle partner would like today's LA Times crossword.

Sfingi 7:31 PM  

Never heard of Dover SOLE, but I'm land-locked.

Thought RIOT was ROOT, also, as in pigs rooting in the soil. Have there been puzzles with the same word in more than once, for some effect?

Thought MAKERBREAK was tAKEaBREAK until I caught the theme. Certainly an unusual one.

TAKESOUT - then there's the Carl Paladino meaning of the expression, "I'm going to take you out."

MOREL - It seems there are Chanterelles growing wild on the rotting roots of the dead wisteria next door. Some Polish fellow wanted to know if he could pick the Kurka.
@John - how do you propagate these pricey mushrooms?

Inka Dinka DOO is one of Jimmy Durante's anti-songs, considering he didn't even bother to sing ONKEY.

TOBY mugs or jugs more often are just the BUSTs, though some have the whole body, sometimes sitting. Some are literary characters, such as Falstaff or Friar Tuck or Long John Silver, and now, Harry Potter.

@John - have you been to the Toby Museum in Evanston?

Van55 8:31 PM  

@sfingi. Remember the six sided puzzle just a week or so ago?

Ulrich 8:39 PM  

@Sfingi; I would kill for fresh chanterelles--I used to collect them with my grandfather in the woods on top of the vineyards on the Moselle river. I gorge myself on them whenever I'm in Germany in the summer (they are very easy to prepare--just pan-sautee in butter with shallots and diced slab bacon and then sprinkle fresh parsley over them). How can one get them to grow (we have the required wisteria)?

@fikink: I didn't even mention the sum--I would never talk again to a skinflint who insulted me by giving me a $10 bill--that's why I thought there may be something about this custom that I don't know...

Two Ponies 8:49 PM  

@ Ulrich, My comment about the $10 bill was meant very tongue-in-cheek.
I have never heard of this as a custom
EVER. I'm surprised no one here has commented more on that one.
The only woman who is happy to get money in a Valentine card is probably used to receiving money over sentiment.

Anonymous 9:15 PM  

Rex was very clear about the theme. It’s about three words, including OR in the middle, and then changing OR to ER to form two words. The clues are then conceived to fit the two words, so there might be some awkwardness, but no harm. It’s not unlike Supreme Court justices who reach a conclusion based on their personal beliefs and then frame their opinions to fit their conclusion....

Ulrich 10:11 PM  

@Two Ponies: It only goes to show that there are more people out there who consider 10 bucks a perfectly fine sign of affection than we thought! I was actually convinced that there had to be something about the $10 bill, some image or (hidden) message or whatever, that predestined it it as a token of love...

fikink 10:22 PM  

How sad that anyone would consider money a gesture of affection - that is downright Biblical!
@Two Ponies, Ulrich - Keep the faith. @Ulrich, you and I know what it is to overthink shit.

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Dover sole is not a recipe but a fish from the English Channel. Of course, the fish is a sole.

It is hard to find in the United States, and probably not as fresh and good as it would be in France or England.

I am not sure what the French call it.


sanfranman59 1:30 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 6:36, 6:56, 0.95, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:28, 8:56, 0.84, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:26, 3:42, 0.93, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:01, 4:36, 0.87, 9%, Easy

NotalwaysrightBill 10:35 AM  

Syndicated paper puzzler.

Mostly unremarkable except for some of the same things others have already noted (I liked MAKERBREAKER, didn't know Dover SOLE or ALAN Freed, but I guessed right). Still don't get how RHO is Greek P though; and mud puddles are all iced up around here right now, so they're definitely NOT SLOSHY.

In grade school, everybody in class gave everybody else in class little Valentine's cards and/or candies. Gestures of affection, great or small, with or without a monetary component: I don't see the problem. It's not as if they all have to be propositions or anything.

I'm sure BRER Rabbit would have the right thing to say about it though:

"'You er stuck up, dat's w'at you is,' says Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en I'm gwine ter kyore you, dat's w'at I'm a gwine ter do,' sezee.' But da Tar Baby he sez nuttin."

Anybody doesn't like Remus: PULEEEEEZE don't throw me in dat Briar Patch!

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

@NotalwaysrightBill - cuz the upper-case rho character is "P".

Cecil Rhodes

Randy Chong 2:35 PM  

Two write overs for me. Had MeN instead of MAN for Homo sapienS at 37A. Figured out pretty quick it had to be HARSH not HeRSH for 33D. Then I confidently put in TRodDeN instead of TREADON for 24D. That made the crosses hard to come by, but eventually realized SLANT must be the answer for 39A. Overall, I give the puzzle a 7 out of 10 for a Tuesday.

NotalwaysrightBill 4:22 PM  

Thank you Cecil Rhodes. You'll be pleased to know that today the Strib announced the names of two local kids as winners of your famous scholarships (out of the thirty granted around the country yearly), a couple of Indian(dot)-American girls who went to the same high school. Hopefully they'll learn their Greek alphabet better than I ever did. And me likin' Aesop (another former slave) almost as well as Remus too . . . .

Clearly Claire 3:20 PM  

I rather enjoyed the Westernmost Aleutians one. I've birded on Attu. It's a great place for American birders to pick up a few off-the-wall bird species for their life list. The outer Aleutians, particularly during stormy weather, host a wonderful mix of vagrant Eurasian bird species.

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