Ruler deposed 1979 / TUE 5-10-11 / Trackers Prizms once / Hoops play maker / Entertainment at many Cuban wedding / Indoor outdoor war game

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: BALL to BALL — a word circle, where two-word theme answers begin with the word that the preceding theme answer ended with, creating a loop

Word of the Day: "L'IDÉE Fixe" (43A: Magritte's "___ Fixe") —

[Year: 1928 // Medium: Oil on canvas // Museum: Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin]

• • •

Nice, tight, unassuming theme. I sort of like that POINT and PAINT are both in the word chain, but their physical similarities are utterly coincidental to the theme. My first thought on finishing was "POINT above, PAINT below ... what?" Then I saw the light. A few small weak spots here and there. Not a fan of BAAED in general, especially when crossing something as ughy as PEDE (hands up for PEDI! Yeah, your hand is up). Crossing partials IGET and WEARE also not ideal. ONLOW is not great, and even less great crossing -ENNE. And L'IDÉE is probably the ickiest answer of the day. And yet ... yet! Really liked the long and mid-range Downs, especially TEAM USA (10D: Olympics squad in red, white and blue) and GOTCHA. A solid effort overall.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Paper Mate product (BALL POINT) — I can't imagine hearing the product described as BALL POINT, unless someone died or choked in the middle of saying the actual product name: BALL POINT pen.
  • 25A: Hoops play maker (POINT GUARD)
  • 31A: Junkyard's security, maybe (GUARD DOG)
  • 45A: Place for one in disfavor, so to speak (DOG HOUSE)
  • 51A: Sherwin-Williams offering (HOUSE PAINT)
  • 63A: Indoor or outdoor war game (PAINT BALL)
  • 24A: Ruler deposed in 1979 (SHAH) — one of my first political memories was the taking of American hostages in Iran following the Islamic Revolution. Don't remember learning anything about the SHAH, but you couldn't get away from Ayatollah Khomeni's face in 1980. Also everywhere in 1980:

  • 30A: Trackers and Prizms, once (GEOS) — Trackers and Prizms, still, I'm pretty sure. Just because GEO went out of business doesn't mean those cars don't exist any more (however much their owners wish that were true).
  • 66A: Yoga position (LOTUS) — would've wanted ASANA if I hadn't had crosses already in place. Done yoga for years and have never once been asked to sit in LOTUS.
In the shameless self-promotion department—in case you missed it yesterday (I added it to the post mid-day), there's a radio story about this blog and crossword blogs in general that came out yesterday. Not sure when / where / if it aired, but you can hear it all here. If you've got a spare 12 minutes after that, be sure to check out the bonus audio of me solving and commenting on a Newsday puzzle in real time. Completely improvised—I had no idea I'd be asked to do any such thing. That puzzle ended up being by the great Doug Peterson, who, coincidentally, co-constructed today's LAT puzzle along with my good friend and frequent fill-in Puzzle Girl. So check out the radio spot, do Doug and PG's puzzle (.pdf), and ... have a good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]


Tobias Duncan 12:44 AM  

As a lifelong NPR junkie, the combination of crosswords and an Ira Glass style interview wass really really cool.Rex, they made you sound great!You should pitch a weekly crossword review to your local station and see if you can push it national in a year or so.Perfect project for your free time...

GILL I. 1:23 AM  

My favorite red-headed child came to visit today.
Loved this one; it was clever and just plain fun.
No shameless dept here...!
Thanks REX.

adhere carla michaels 1:57 AM  

abeTS for STATS my only writeover, curse you baseball clue!

I was very happy to see it was a puzzle by Alan Arbesfeld, always like him!
Surprised you can repeat a word, much less 12 words! Undercuts rule #1! Yet this was fun...I don't know what to think!
(There, I finally said it!)

SALSA bleedover from yesterday.
BLUEJEANS was fun, as there was no QXZFVK, one C, even only one the least Scrabbly puzzle EVER! EVER!

sort of subtly sassy I guess, with BRA over ASSES and HERETIC crossing GOTCHA...but you almost have to look hard to see the sweetness.

Now to see what Angela and Doug have cooked up!

chefwen 2:02 AM  

My dad sends me the comic and food sections from his local paper because they are far better than I have here (I know that I can read them on line but it seems to give him purpose, so I say nothing.) They have a five minute puzzle with the comics and they do this kind of theme all the time. I truly thought that Rex would hate this one. He never ceases to surprise me. I whipped through this one so quickly I got dizzy, so much for my "Tricky Tuesday" request. I didn't hate it but it was over so quickly I was NEEDY for more.

Puzzled Girl 6:09 AM  

Did NOT put in PEDI because the clue said word ENDING. I put in PED- and waited for the crossing; should have thought of centi-PEDE.

So you're down to 12 minutes of fame?

Elisa 7:49 AM  

It's too rough on the knees.

Leslie 7:50 AM  

I truly thought that Rex would hate this one. He never ceases to surprise me.

Same here!

Before I saw the theme, I was thinking, "Wait, what?? You can't have POINT twice and PAINT twice . . . oh. Never mind."

retired_chemist 8:23 AM  

My theme was "words containing POINT." Got to 31A and wanted POINTERS. Would be lousy GUARD DOGS BTW. Anyway, when its crosses didn't fit I just went ahead and didn't worry about the theme. Heard about it once I got here.

Good puzzle. Thanks, Mr. Arbesfeld.

joho 8:23 AM  

I was really surprised seeing the same words repeated in this puzzle. When I got the theme I understood why, of course, but was still surprised. I guess that's a good thing as the theme was unexpected. It was definitely easy, too. And smooth.

I liked PAINTBALL the best as my stepson revels in getting pelted and welted for some reason.

No time now but I can't wait to hear the radio spot and do the LA Times puzzle!

dk 8:30 AM  

Well another fine Tuesday you've got us in Stan... err I mean Wil.

Light and lively puzzle.

Rex, as your fame rises I hope you remember the little people who have consistently disagreed with and berated you on your way to the top. I say this as you will meet us again on your way down... unless you pull a UIE.

Full disclosure. I am paraphrasing a song by Lucky Dube titled The Way It Is. Go to You Tube and listen to him all day.

*** (3 Stars) wonderful puzzle

John V 8:32 AM  

@Rex, got your tweet yesterday and went to NPR piece; nice!

Easy Tuesday. Hardest part was figuring out what to call the theme.

Nice way to start a sunny CT Tuesday.

SethG 8:32 AM  

Andrea, BRA over ASSES, and OWLET clued as a hooter. Oh, and a pair of BALLs.

Owls freak me out, so OWLETS freak me out a little.

foodie 8:45 AM  

Loved it! So glad Rex did too. And I'm with you Andrea and and Seth.. a little naughtiness buried in there... Arbesfeld, you old DOG!

Glimmerglass 8:48 AM  

When I got to GUARD DOG, I could skip ahead and fill in DOG HOUSE, HOUSE PAINT, and PAINTBALL, which made the lower half of the puzzle very easy.

quilter1 8:50 AM  

Easy and cute! Loved all the little internal jokes, too. Will listen to the radio spot later. LAT now, then baking our daily bread.
It is supposed to get up to 92 degrees today, May 10. That is just wrong.

jesser 8:54 AM  

Rex, you da bomb! Great interview, and the live solve was hysterical. Breathe!

The puzzle was fun to do today. After plunking down 25A, I thought it was going to be one POINT after another, ala Bush 1, but 31A gave me the trick and I was off to the races. First writeover was at 9A, where I first had plAyS, but the camera at 9D gave me back my focus. Second writeover was at 24A, where amin was my first thought until BRASH ASSES convinced me I had the wrong despot. Easily corrected.

I fear I will have WE ARE The World playing in my noggin all day.

Eurlouth! (What the lispy man said to his dog as it ran out the gate) -- jesser

Lindsay 9:04 AM  

Cute. Fine for a Tuesday.

Although at 21A I had UI- and filled in the "e" without looking at the clue, which makes me a total LOTUS-eater of xwords. Dissolute.

JaxInL.A. 9:09 AM  

I like @dk's characterization for this puzzle: light and lively. It was open and clean, and kinda sweet. A good intro puzzle for a newbie, and proficient and clever enough to keep the rest of us happy.

@SethG, that's you in the interview too, right? Very fun to here Rex do radio. I'm with @Tobias; radio is the next medium for Rex to conquer. I'm a little unclear from the website on whether and where it aired. Is this Internet radio, or broadcast too?

On to the LAT. I sure miss the CrosSynergy puzzle, but it seems that the newer format won't run on the iPad, where I do my solving these days. Any suggestions?

chefbea 9:25 AM  

Hand up for abets. Had mules at first for asses. Uie again and the good old Arch.

Our leader has given us so much home work. I'll get to it later

thursdaysd 9:34 AM  

Nice audio clip!

Really surprised to see this as Easy-Medium. Aside from a brief difficulty in the east due to SALSAliNe (is there such a thing?), I whipped right through it - so many gift letters thanks to the theme. While I really appreciated the shortage of unknown-to-me proper nouns, none of the fill really sparkled, so the end result tended to ENNUI.

jackj 9:50 AM  

I guess Alan Arbesfeld didn’t get the memo that says Tuesday puzzles are supposed to be the worst of the week.

Alan’s game of Wordsmith Leapfrog, taking us from BALLPOINT to PAINTBALL, was lots of fun, even if it did mean putting up with UIE again as we worked our way through.

Fun bits of fill included GOTCHA and BLUEJEANS and placing Fatah leader ABBAS next to “Full of chutzpah”, (BRASH), made for an interesting abutment.

Alan Arbesfeld shows us once again that old pros make good puzzles.

efrex 10:00 AM  

Either Arbesfeld's losing his touch, or I'm coming into my own: first one of his puzzles in over a year that I really enjoyed. Nice theme, and I figured it out pretty early, allowing for some fast and furious work throughout the grid.

Had ETTE before ENNE (I will remember that one someday, along with REATA/RIATA), and grumbled a bit about the crosswordese (UIE crossing ETE crossing GEOS), but that's nitpicking.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:07 AM  

@Lindsay said it before I could: Cute. Fine for a Tuesday.

(For a nanosecond in the far NW, I wondered if the puzz was going to go for Maximum Use of A & B.)

Arundel 10:09 AM  

A great Tuesday - simultaneously playful and misdirective, with very little junk fill (leaving aside BAAED!).

And any time ANN appears in a puzzle as Massachusett's Cape is just fine with me. As a former Gloucesterite, I always want to believe that Cape Cod is the *other* one.

solasoletta 10:21 AM  

To me, idee fixe is a music thing--Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique in particular. Interesting to discover that it's also Magritte!

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Had you been alive in the forties after the war you would have heard ball point to distinguish them from fountain pens. A wondrous thing!

Sparky 10:22 AM  

Hand up for abets. Thumb down for UIE. Easy, flowed along. When I saw POINT then PAINT thought it would be one of the letter changing ones. Don't know car names but they came along.

Enjoyed the interview @Rex. Will have to hear demo later.

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

Hmmm, I guess I'm the odd one here.
I thought this was boring.
Ode. oro. Pei, ile, nee, sss.
Just so much crosswordese.
Off to listen to the interview.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

13 Down answer (STAND) used in clue for 23 Across? Is that legal?

jeremy 10:59 AM  

Very Maleska-ish puzzle today, remember this type of theme from the old days.

Not bothered by the (stand) repeat, but the theme is an oldie

Mel Ott 11:07 AM  

Pretty good Tuesday puzzle. An old theme but good theme answers - well-executed.

In my experience BALL POINT sans the 'pen' is a fairly common usage.

quilter1 11:11 AM  

The bread is rising and I listened to the radio interview and solving demo. Very good. I found myself solving along. Me: Estes! Simon Estes! LAT was good, too.
New avatar is new granddaughter Katie's quilt. Six more weeks and I get to hold her in it.

r.alphbunker 11:15 AM  

I really enjoyed the audio clip of RP solving the Newsday puzzle. I am clearly not in RP's league as a solver but I experience the same thought processes that he does while I am solving a puzzle.

The recording brought to mind a baseball book I once read that followed a minor league team for a season. Even though it was a minor league team, all the drama of a major league team was there, the 3-2 counts, late inning heroics, strategic managerial decisions, etc.

And I also have a vivid memory of the first Saturday puzzle that I solved. It was during a day of airplane travel and it took all day and was finally finished in the Denver airport.

BTW, does anybody else think that RP's voice sounds a lot like Will Shortz's?

syndy 11:44 AM  

Followed the chutes and ladders so fast I misread 24 across and plunked down TSAR!wanted SET AT for 16 across surely SICing is a more active thing than merely letting the dog out? had mules before asses and the ennui before I finished

JaxInL.A. 11:52 AM  

I am finding it interesting to note the contrast between today's and yesterday's treatment among my fellow Rexites of a recurring puzzle theme. This is a stronger puzzle overall, and so perhaps it matters less that regular solvers have seen the theme before.

@quilter1, felicitations on the new grandbaby (spell check editorializes that she's a grand baby), and the new quilt. I like that pinwheel design very much. Is this one in AZ or CA?

Still hoping for advice on how to get the program to run .jpz files on an iPad. The only version of Puzzle Solver that I can find uses Java, which seems to cost beaucoup bucks to install on the iPad. I'm willing to pay something, but can't afford that. Suggestions? Thanks!

Two Ponies 11:55 AM  

@ r.alphbunker, I noticed the voice similarity too.
@ Rex, My thought process while solving sounds much like yours. Fun to hear it verbalized.

Doug P 12:04 PM  

@JaxinLA - I don't know anything iPads, but here's a post from last week on Amy's blog:

"If you have an iPad, then you can download and solve JPZ files with the CRUX Crosswords app: CRUX at iTunes."

And Amy replied "Oh, yay! I had just gotten in the habit of using CRUX on the iPad for the CS puzzles and then it didn’t work. I’ll get back to solving CS on the iPad!"

Sounds good.

Kurisu 12:14 PM  

Nice interview and puzzle solve! I have actually read both OMOO and TYPEE.

KarenSampsonHudson 12:51 PM  

Delay factors today in NE corner: I'd never heard of tatar, only tartar, and thus couldn't get "let on". Everything else, smooth as butar---oh, I mean butter.:-)
Rex, I emailed the link to your interview to friends who relished it.

JaxInL.A. 1:00 PM  

Wow, Doug! Not only did you give me good advice, but you included a link to the AppStore and I've already downloaded the program, and it comes with easy access to the CS puzzles AND in case that wasn't enough, yesterday's CS/WashPost puzzle had your byline. I whipped through it for a fun solve and a couple of those "ahas" that we all live for. Nice one. I am one happy camper. Thanks a million!

quilter1 1:03 PM  

@JaxinLA: She's in LA with her brother and sister. The quilt is actually a star pattern. Each print Friendship Star appears to be sitting crosswise on a pink Friendship Star. I saw this in American Patchwork and Quilting. Thanks for asking.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Heard your interview twice on WSKG - once yesterday afternoon and again this morning. Enjoyed it both times. You've inspired me to tackle the Saturday puzzle. This one went pretty fast.

mac 1:10 PM  

Odd, I also thought Rex was going to hate this one, even on a Tuesday.
Good theme and theme answers, but tons of crosswordese.

I also noticed the as and bs, plus the naughty abs, bra, asses, laps and brash. All about the Merry Widow?

jberg 1:41 PM  

I knew TATAR, and the crosses made it clear, but I think Tatars and Mongols are actually different groups, contrary to the clue. I also agree that LET AT is not SIC EM - the direction of action is different. Other that those, a fun puzzle, even if I had no idea what an ALERO was.

One writeover - I thought the draft organizations was the Selective Service Commission, rather than System, but 57D cleared that up.

dk 2:11 PM  

JaxinL.A., Welcome to the iPad crowd.

My lottery number was 15. Speaking of SSS. However, by moving every six months I... Grew to appreciate the complexities associated with managing government bureaucracies.

Still reeling from my afternoon with Acme so all this talk of owlets, etc is making me... appreciate the juxtaposition of LAPS & ASSES. Off to swoon.

JenCT 5:06 PM  

Off the subject: almost ready to buy an iPad - any advice on capacity, WiFi vs. 3G, etc. I've read so many different opinions. Nice to know I'll be able to do the crosswords on it, though.

Busy today - will listen to the radio show later.

This puzzle gave me pause in the SW corner; also, I didn't get the theme until I came here. As usual.

Sfingi 5:09 PM  

This is what the USA Today calls "Up & Down Words."

Easy. I got hung up for a while thinking "Former Ford model," was a clothes model from the Eileen Ford Agency, but ALT didn't fit.

@r.alphBunker - was that book Good Enough to Dream by Roger Kahn? If so, it was about the Utica Blue Sox, and Kahn's brother was my insurance saleman. Everyone bought the book because it was local.

CoffeeLvr 5:22 PM  

@Rex, thanks for the link to the interview and the live solve. I enjoyed following along, you jump around more than I do, so maybe I will try that, too.

I have nothing to add about today's puzzle.

retired_chemist 5:27 PM  

@ JenCT - buy. The iPad is a great device. 3G is the best - you have WiFi built into the 3G model anyway. Check on whether you still can buy the minimum 3G monthly contract, then switch up for a month if you ever want to download a huge amount of data.

If you mostly have a mobile hot spot with you, or only plan to use it in WiFi areas (motels, your home if you have a wireless router, etc.), then the cheaper WiFi version might be OK. But the price differential has gotten low now I understand.

Get all the memory you can afford. If you don't use much of it now, just wait. Apps etc. in future years will always get bigger and bigger.

joho 5:37 PM  

Well, Rex, that was just too much solving a puzzle right along with you. When you said it's gotta be MOLD I was shouting at the computer, "No, no, its BILL!!!"

I am so happy you are getting so much positive press for this blog and for all your achievements because you definitely deserve it.

The coolest thing about Rexville, USA, is that its everywhere for everybody who loves crosswords.

You have created a wonderful place for us. Thank you.

joho 5:39 PM  

Whoops! I left out the word fun ... "too much fun solving" ...

r.alphbunker 7:52 PM  


Yes, it was Roger Kahn. Before posting, I googled Roger Angell but none of his books like they were the one. Thanks for the info.

skua76 8:58 PM  

Really enjoyed the puzzle, actually went too fast to see the theme! Also enjoyed the interview and the LAT puzzle! I'm visiting siblings at the moment so I have access to a dead tree NYT but no printer so I had to do the LAT puzzle online for the first time. Surprised by their version of the "happy pencil."

desto --to unpack?

JenCT 9:44 PM  

@retired_chemist: Thanks!

Anonymous 9:45 PM  

Was also wondering why Rex was being so nice today -- like others, I thought he'd hate it (no one gets away with half the icky fill Rex lists in the post) -- but then saw the light: he has to be nice today so people don't hate on his interview!

Stan 11:45 PM  

Good, solid Tuesday.

Excellent interview and real-time solve on the NPR link. I did Doug's Newsday puzzle first, which made Rex's narration of it even better. A fine day for puzzles!

JaxInL.A. 5:59 AM  

@mac, your racy interpretation of the puzzle made me snort my tea.

@dk, how could I have mistakenly used a female pronoun to refer to you some weeks ago?  Deep breaths.  Do you solve on an iPad as well?  I've had mine for a year next month, and I love it.  I had lost the ability to do the CS puzzles, though, with their change in format.  Was I the only one who could not find CRUX in the AppStore?  Thanks again, Doug.

@quilter1, you will likely have your hands full of baby when you visit L.A. in six weeks, but if you have a spare moment it might be fun to have a coffee.  One of my dearest friends is an avid quilter, too.  There must be a way to continue conversations offline, but Blogger doesn't give the option of messaging someone directly from their profile that I can see.  Any help? 

@JenCT, go for it!  Buy the iPad now!  As mentioned above, I've had mine for a year and I can't imagine going back.  I won mine in a conference drawing, so it's the basic wifi version.  (Insanely, I won a second one at another conference right before Christmas that I gave to my husband.) I have rarely had problems finding a signal most places I frequent, and I don't miss paying that monthly bill.  I discovered doing puzzles on it pretty quickly and that's when I became a daily solver and found this blog. The elegant iBook interface made me re-think my disdain for ebooks, and the calendar syncing with Google has made me more organized.  @rc's advice re: maxing out on memory is probably sound, though after a year I'm NOWHERE near using up mine.  I guess it depends on what you will use it for.  The new features like Skype on the iPad 2 may require more memory as well.  Good luck, but I say do it.  

JenCT 2:42 PM  

@JaxInL.A.: thanks for the advice - wow, winning two iPads is so lucky!!!

Dirigonzo 3:49 PM  

From my vantage point 5 weeks later, I too noticed the disparity between the harsh treatment of yesterday's puzzle and the praise heaped upon this one. To me, the puzzles seemed equally pleasant to solve and both themes had been done before, so I'm not sure why the prime-time reviews were so different. An interesting study in group psychology, I think.

Best part of the solve for me today was frequently glancing over to read the headline on the adjoining page of the paper: "Roast your own nuts for Father's Day" - I pretty sure that's bad advice, but it tickled me anyway.

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

Hmmm...I did not think of Blondie when I filled in 24A

Cimarron 2:49 PM  

Overall, this was a good crossword puzzle.

Alan Arbesfeld ought to be ashamed of the "responded sheepishly?" clue for "baaed." Baaing is often not a response.

Why employ the clue "lingerie buy" when "lingerie" could simply have been used instead?

"Trackers and Prizms, once?" I still drive a 1998 Geo Prizm. Operationally, it is the best vehicle that I have ever owned.

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