Big name in Bosox history / MON 10-31-11 / Passe TV hookup / Classic 1982 movie line spoken with outstretched finger

Monday, October 31, 2011

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: VAMPIRE (38A: Creature who might disagree with the saying at the ends of 17-, 22-, 48- and 56-Across) — ends of the theme answers, taken in order, make up the phrase "ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY"

Word of the Day: YAZ (59D: Big name in Bosox history) —
Carl Michael Yastrzemski (born August 22, 1939) is a former American Major League Baseball left fielder and first baseman. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. Yastrzemski played his entire 23-year baseball career with the Boston Red Sox (1961–1983). He was primarily a left fielder, with part of his later career played at first base and as a designated hitter. Yastrzemski is an 18-time All-Star, the possessor of seven Gold Gloves, a member of the 3000 hit club, and the first American League player in that club to also accumulate over 400 home runs. He is second on the all-time list for games played, and third for total at-bats. He is the Red Sox' all-time leader in career RBIs, runs, hits, singles, doubles, total bases, and games played, and is second on the team's list for home runs behind another Red Sox great, Ted Williams, his predecessor in left field. In 1967, Yastrzemski achieved a peak in his career, leading the Red Sox to the American League pennant for the first time in over two decades, in that season being voted the American League MVP, and being the last winner of the triple crown for batters in the major leagues. (wikipedia)
• • •

I like the grid, but I'm not sure about the theme. Why would a VAMPIRE have an opinion about this saying? What is he disagreeing with, exactly? He's the biter, not the bitten, so ... there's nothing for him to disagree with here. Or is it that he has already been bitten (which caused the vampirism in the first place)? OK, so ... disagreeing with this phrase means ... that he'd like to be bitten again? That's not how vampires work? They don't bite other vampires (do they?). Further, given that "ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY" is an idiom that has nothing to do with actual biting, let alone vampires, shouldn't the VAMPIRE clue have a "?" on it. This is kind of a clunky attempt to be cutesy. But, as I said, the grid is pretty sweet, and I enjoyed solving it, so no big complaints here.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Simultaneously (ALL AT ONCE) — I think of this as meaning "suddenly," not "simultaneously."
  • 22A: Like many itchy mutts (FLEA-BITTEN)
  • 48A: Be deliberative (THINK TWICE)
  • 56A: Not wanting to be shot? (CAMERA SHY) — that little twist on "shot" caused one of the only slow-downs I had during this solve. The other was at EVADE (I went ELUDE, of course—I hate having those words in my grid for this very reason). Oh, and at CARNEY / CARAT, where I seriously had to think (twice) about whether to go with the "K" Or the "C" spellings on those words.

Ended up breaking the 3-minute mark on this one by exactly one second—pretty normal for me when I solve using software (I prefer Puzzle Solver over AcrossLite), but fast for me when I solve on the NYT applet (as I did today). Something about the way the cursor moves in the applet feels counterintuitive. No big deal. Got my speed today when I slingshotted from COWHAND to DITZ to YAZ without a hitch (59D: Big name in Bosox history). Bam bam bam. LOUPE is a good Halloween word (16A: Jeweler's magnifying tool), as it's (nearly) French for wolf. Loup-garou = werewolf. Also Halloweenish: "E.T. PHONE HOME" (24D: Classic 1982 movie line spoken with an outstretched finger). Was surprised to see the puzzle also includes the lesser known line from that movie, from when E.T. gets drunk: "E.T. HICS."


  • 5D: Indigenous New Zealanders (MAORI) — other good crossword words from N.Z. include MOA, the criminally underused KEA, and, of course, HAAST'S EAGLE (never been in the xword — it's just my favorite bird of all time and I like to mention it every chance I get; if I were dressing up for Halloween, I'd go as a HAAST'S EAGLE. Like the MOA, these eagles are extinct. Unlike the MOA, they were giant flying predators who ate MOA for breakfast)
  • 11D: "It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am" speaker (MUHAMMAD ALI) —I love that guy.

  • 26A: Oscar : film :: ___ : TV (EMMY) — because I'd already seen ERNIE by this point (25D: Bert's pal on "Sesame Street"), I assumed "Oscar" was the Grouch.
  • 38D: Passé TV hookup (VCR) — I found myself wishing I still had one the other day when I got a movie from interlibrary loan and the only format it came in was VHS. How is "Fatso" not readily available on DVD? Anne Bancroft directed!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


foodie 12:07 AM  

Very fun! A lighthearted Monday, which is exactly what Mondays should be...

I took the theme to mean that after the vampire is bitten he becomes aggressive ( as opposed to shy) and starts biting others...

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Clark 12:12 AM  

Thank you Jeff Chen for the easy crosses on YAZ. I would hate to DNF on a Monday.

Tobias Duncan 12:15 AM  

I think the vampire is saying" I am gonna bite you are your gonna love it". I watched a lot of True Blood this year and sometimes its just this side of porn. I am not saying thats bad, just making an observation.

NCAA crossing YAZ was a big eff you to the sports haters. No reason YAZ could not have been clued with "Upstairs at Eric's"

Sorry about the yelling, just seems tough to get heard in a sports crazed culture sometimes.

CoffeeLvr 12:25 AM  

@Rex, maybe the Haast's Eagles ate all the Moa's and then starved.

Smooth Halloween Monday. Nice job of providing interesting fill, but keeping the challenge at Monday level with the use of easy crossings for the crunchier entries (TACET, AHORE, ITALO).

Happy Halloween, all!

Jeff Chen 1:14 AM  

Hi all!

No grandiose statement on vampires, just my attempt at humor. Or as my girlfriend (and crossword collaborator) calls it, "humor".

You know, because this adage doesn't apply to vampires? Get it? (insert rimshot here)

You know, because vampires aren't shy? (insert crickets chirping)

Ahem. Is this mike on? (insert sound of girlfriend rolling her eyes)

The quote I originally proposed to Will for Muhammad Ali: "If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologize." But you really can't go wrong with any quote from the legend.

Hey, if any of you in crossword land are interested in creating a crossword and are looking for some advice on how to start, lemme know. I love doing it, and would be happy to collaborate.

jeffchen1972 (at) gmail (dot) com

GILL I. 2:20 AM  

I too was confused with the bitten biter VAMPIRE but I didn't really care because I thought this was a fine Monday puzzle.
There were some words I really liked. Echoing @Rex, I like the word LOUPE. I also enjoyed seeing COWHAND, PLACATE, DITZ, and fitting in ALI and ET.
I don't have the analytical gray matter to construct. I'm more of a visual/word loving easy going - enjoy the AHAH moment sort of person. I can really appreciate those that can, though.
Thank you Jeff Chan for stopping by and sharing the fun you had in constructing this.

GILL I. 2:23 AM  

That should be gray matter *needed* to construct. See, I'd flunk!

chefwen 3:11 AM  

I loved this puzzle, it was on the easy side with some Halloween twists thrown into the batter. CAMERA SHY hit home, the older I get, the louder I say "don't point that thing at me". FLEA BITTEN reminded me to medicate the beasts as I have been recently targeted on the ankles.

One write over 2D, my mule was Sue before SAL, easy fix.

dk 6:55 AM  

I think it was Mike Tyson who said: "Everybody's got a plan until I punch them in the face."

Jeff, a couple of things: 1. Acme is my gal and 2, I tell the bad jokes around here. Seriously, your girl friend is lucky to have someone who virtually ensures her jokes are better -- always.

Here is one you can share with her:

Which cartoon character is a favorite among ghosts?

Boo Boo Bear! (You can find him in Jellystone Park)

*** (3 Stars) Like finding a Mounds Bar in your candy bag.

Z 7:50 AM  

Nice puzzle. Enjoyed it all.

I just want to know who Ian Hunter was dressed up as? Oh! Wait! That was the style in the 70's. I keep trying to forget.

Glimmerglass 7:51 AM  

@Jeff Chen. Watch the old vampire movies of the 1950s. The populace is terrified of vampires; the doctor/scientist is talking seriously about garlic, stakes, and crosses; the beautiful girl screams when attacked the first time. However, once she is bitten, she is no longer afraid. One might say she is in love with being bitten. She is certainly not shy any more; she has become a vampire herself. I won't push the point that the vampire's bite in the genre is a metaphor for sex (see the Twilight series).

jberg 8:27 AM  

Lots of fun - and I love the way @Glimmerglass explains the theme to the constructor! Not that it's invalid, it happens all the time in literary and art criticism. Presumably one has an intuition, and needs someone else to analyze it.

The only thing that slowed me down was staring at 24D and trying to think of a word that started with ETP... but then I got the H, and it all fell into place.

And @chefwen, I have to add that when those Halloween twists were tossed into the batter, YAZ knocked them out of the park.

I loved seeing Art CARNEY in there; my only disappointment is that @Rex didn't give us a clip of "I'm an Old COWHAND." Maybe I'll go look for it.

jp 8:31 AM  

I solved the puzzle completely but I read the 56A answer as "CAME RASHY" instead of "CAMERA SHY". So I could not figure out what "ONCE BITTEN TWICE RASHY" meant.

Does this qualify as finished or DNF? Just interested.

jackj 8:32 AM  

Jeff Chen offers up a Halloween special which wonders, through the medium of some very clever theme entries, (and to the consternation of the VAMPIRE star of the puzzle), ONCE BITTEN TWICE SHY?

We needn’t wonder or care if Jeff ‘s creature is leery of seeking out his next pint, but need only answer the question, Trick or Treat?, and, for my money, it’s Treat all the way!

In addition to the fun theme entries, there is some special fill which is a cut above and, though arguably difficult for an early week solver, it is still deserving praise, to wit, PLACATE, LOUPE, ETPHONEHOME, (and its contra entry MUHAMMADALI), plus, ERNST, clued as the accountant rather than the artist, for a welcome change.

A solid Monday puzzle to sink one’s teeth into.

jberg 8:35 AM  

Found it:

I had to refresh the screen to get rid of the annoying ad, but then it worked like a charm.

joho 8:43 AM  

Fun Halloween theme with lots of great fill, FLEABITTEN, CAMERASHY, ETPHONEHOME, DITZ and PLACATE to name a few.

Thank you, Jeff Chen! Happy Halloween, everyone!

hazel 9:04 AM  

fantastic monday puzzle - never ever get tired of seeing YAZ in a puzzle. didn't overanalyze the punch line - so it's cool to see people kind of riffing on it.

We are going to see David Sedaris tonight. should be a treat!!

joho 9:08 AM  

@hazel, "Me Speak Pretty One Day" caused me all sorts of trouble when I was reading on a plane as I kept breaking out into laughter, tears rolling down my face! People were looking at me like I was nuts!

John V 9:24 AM  

Tres easy on the snowy, slip-sliding New Haven this morning; needed crosses only in SW, ETHER/AHORA. Second ETHER is recent days -- like TROVATORE but with less music.

Wanted NORMAN at 50D:

Even a Yankee fan knows YAZ.

Still on a roll from Dave Berry week; tore through Mon-Sunday last week with 2 incorrect letters all week. I think the contest broke me out of some sort solving plateau. Anyone else feeling this sort of thing?

efrex 9:27 AM  

Wow, Rex, way to ruin a joke by overanalyzing it. (The E.T. HICS line almost makes up for it, though; that caused a spit-take from me ... :))

A BOO-tiful treat for this Halloween by Mr. Chen. Fun fill, nice theme answers, and a cute reveal - just about as perfect a Monday puzzle as I could want.

quilter1 9:36 AM  

@JohnV: I think you mean Patrick Berry. Dave Barry is another guy.

Didn't have to THINK TWICE about CARNEY except to miss him. He was a good actor as well as a great comedian. I'll always remember him preparing to sign some document on the Honeymooners and preparing and preparing and preparing.

Thanks for stopping by Jeff. I liked the joke. And the puzzle.

Re-grouting a bathroom floor this week. Fun.

chefbea 9:42 AM  

Good Monday Halloween puzzle.

Good old honey makers!!!

Have fun trick or treating the snow or rain!!!

John V 9:55 AM  

Whoops! @quilter, my MAJOR typo. Embarrasing. Been reading Dave Barry all week. Sorry 'bout that.

Masked and Ready For Trick or Treat 10:04 AM  

@31--I think the 30's "Dracula" movie had lots of "bitten" folks who became kinda like under the Count's spell, available for further snacking without protest. They weren't quite vampires themselves. So once bitten, they weren't twice as shy. Altho one of 'em acted pretty nutsy, lookin' for bugs to eat, and such. Har. Great old schlock flick.

Happy Hallouueen, y'all. M&A

Matthew G. 10:51 AM  

@jp: That's a finish. If you get every square in the grid correct, you finished. Grokking the theme is optional.

I, like Rex, was a bit bemused by the meaning of the theme phrase, but here's my best guess: Imagine a very SHY guy who has been BITTEN by a vampire and become one himself. ONCE he's a vampire, he's got to suck blood to survive, and faint heart never won fair lady, so he's got to be TWICE as outgoing.

Happy Halloween, everyone. I gotta run -- my wife is dressed as the White Rabbit this year, and apparently we're late for a very important date.

John V 11:14 AM  

A bit OT, but does anyone have experience with crossword apps for the Android plaform, particularly on the Motorola DroidX? I came across Shortz Crosswords: Anyone know it?



syndy 11:20 AM  

Absolutely @JP as in poker-the hand reads itself.I may have to go back and read the clues for the downs now some of the answers are intriquing! A SOLID,HIP HAPPY AS A CLAM entry- but could NORAS also be NORAE?

Masked and Anonymous, Part B 11:26 AM  

I mean, think about it. If every vampire chompee becomes a full-snort blood-suckin' Count Dracula immediately, you got your geometric curve goin'. Pretty soon, there ain't no clueless walkin' bloodbanks left waddling around. No midnight din-din. Then everyone's in deep doo. Bad for the economy, too.

So it's only logical that you can have repeat victims, who -- like today's puz says (and is) -- don't put up much of a fight. A reliable, renewable supply. Gotta be the way it goes down. QED.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Yaz played for the White Sox at the end of his career.

Cathyat40 11:48 AM  

One of these days I'll remember it's MUHAMMAD, not MoHAMMeD

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

@Anon 11:27 MLB, the Baseball Hall of Fame, Elias Stats and Yaz himself disagree with you.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

Shouldn't 21A clue be abbr. (I.e. "Minn. Capital") to match abbr. "St." in answer?

Lindsay 12:16 PM  

Entertaining puzzle. Why overthink it?

Amused to discover that the Latin phrase beginning "Et p....." was actually a schlocky movie line. Also liked MUHAMMAD ALI, especially coming on the heels of yesterday's(?) LENNOX LEWIS.

r.alphbunker 12:17 PM  

@John V
FYI Patrick Barry is an American K-1 kickboxer well known enough to make Wikipedia.

JaxInL.A. 12:18 PM  

This weekend past was my husband's then my daughter's birthday, so I didn't get to comment in the ACME-Pauer puzzle yesterday. I didn't see Andrea come by to comment on her puzzle, though it was fun to see Patrick weigh in. Hope she will still enlighten us about the experience!

Very fun puzzle today. Thanks, Jeff, and thanks for the offer of help/advice for stepping into constructing. Those of us who idly toy with the idea of exploring what it takes to do this (just a tad of equivocation there, eh?) have something to think about now.

Fun write-up, Rex.

@JohnV, I thought of you this morning and wondered if the trains could run. Glad your slippery trip ended in a completed puzzle.

@Kathy, please let me add my condolences to yesterday's on the loss of your (life and) puzzle partner. I still say prayers for @PurpleGuy and still miss reports of his 101-year-old mum solving puzzles with him.

hazel 12:42 PM  

@joho - that's so funny! i remember reading a David Sedaris on a plane once - and not being able to stifle the laugh! I hope he's 1/2 as funny as I'm expecting him to be!

John V 12:48 PM  

@JaxInL.A. -- This time of year, we have a splendid time with -- leaves! Leaves fall on the track, train runs over leaves creating an oily slick, causing trains to think they are going too fast because of the slippage -- and on come the emergency brakes. So, fall foliage is okay in Vermont, not so much in CT, especially when mixed with snow.

Train was warm, had the Times and my coffee, so life was good.

archaeoprof 12:55 PM  

Fun Monday! Thanks, Jeff Chen.

ALI was remarkable.

Vince Lombardi said he would have made a great linebacker or safety.

Maybe that's where the great boxers have gone: now they play saftey in the NFL.

What a play by Polamolu yesterday.

Two Ponies 1:14 PM  

Fun Monday. The joke was funny enough so I didn't try to analyze it. A bit of an old-fashioned feel with Romper Room, Lone Ranger, the Honeymooners.
There are some good vampire movies out there that stick to the true story. Bram Soker's Dracula with Gary Oldman. Salem's Lot also follows the Stephen King story well. I also recommend the BBC series Count Dracula with Loius Jordan.

hazel 1:22 PM  

P.S. @tobias - Trust me. We've heard you! ;~)

joho 1:38 PM  

@Clark ... just noticed your adorable dog! Sorry, if I'm late on the uptake. What a cutie.

I'll mention FLEABITTEN again to make this comment somehow relate to the puzzle.

Again, Happy Halloween, everybody, 3 and out.

Stan 1:39 PM  

A really successful puzzle, IMO. Easy, easy short answers crossing interesting longer ones, and a simple phrase theme with a surprise in the center. Thanks for the fun, Jeff! But I'd THINK TWICE about the comedy career...

Sparky 1:41 PM  

A nice Monday solve, with straightforward cluing. Theme worth a smile. It's Halloween. Agree, don't over think it.

Big parade tonight. My block cordoned off as pedestrian walkway so I watch the gouls and fools from my window. Boo.

Matthew G. 1:47 PM  

Anon@11:58 is correct -- Yaz never played for the White Sox.

I suspect that Anon@11:27 was thinking of Carlton Fisk, a different Red Sox Hall of Famer of the same era who did change his Sox mid-career.

Lewis 1:52 PM  

I count 11 c's in the puzzle, there just seemed to be a lot. Is 11 of a letter like c a lot, I wonder?

KarenSampsonHudson 2:07 PM  

@Kathy, If you're here today, I'm sending late condolences, so sorry to hear about your sweetheart.

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

@ jp read your entry i also kept reading camera shy" as came rashy & it made no sense to me either. So glad to know I'm not the only one 'cause when the answer's right there & I still can't " see" it, i'm like " brain freeze" which can feel scary @age 66. So Thanks for that very reassuring share!

sanfranman59 4:28 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Mon 6:20, 6:50, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:20, 3:40, 0.91, 15%, Easy

Anonymous 8:10 PM  

@Anonymous 11:27
I'm sorry it was the great catcher Fisk I was thinking about. What do you expect from a Cubbie?

mac 9:18 PM  

Nice puzzle! I did it disgustingly early this morning, right after the paper arrived at a quarter to 6. Jetlag. Plus the power was off, no tv or cable/internet. Welcome ho,e.

@Kathy: so sorry.

@Sparky: you are able to watch that Village parade from your apt?? I've always wanted to know someone who could do that! Went to it once and couldn't see a thing because of the crowds on the sidewalk.

Sfingi 10:37 PM  

Odd quote, great fill. Keep 'em comin, Jeff Chen.

Sparky 11:18 PM  

@Mac. The Parade itself is on 6th Ave. My block runs between 6th and 7th Aves. and is cordoned off for pedestrians to roam about in. So I watch the roamers go back and forth. I don't get to see the floats and complicated puppets or the bands. You are right; it becomes so crowded on the Avenue that you can't move or breathe.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

Full of awkward stuff

Dirigonzo 4:58 PM  

Syndication synchronicity: Jeff Chen constructed yesterday's (syndicated) "Yin Yang" Sunday puzzle and pops in again today with a lively and fun Monday puzzle! Didn't realize until I came here that it was a Halloween puz so now I love it even more.

- "Solving time: 7:36"
- "A terrible time for a Tuesday - there's this one person at the applet who is my solving barometer. We'll call this person ... Chuck. I expect to beat Chuck. If I beat Chuck, I feel like I did OK. I did not beat Chuck last night. I don't know anything about Chuck, but he is my nemesis, and I shall have my revenge."
- "(Sahra is, to our great amusement, an official member of the Raffi Fan Club, though I don't think she remembers and we're certainly not going to remind her ... until she's 13)"
- "Seriously, how many ways are you going to torture this word? We've seen three different variations in recent weeks. If I balked at the unnecessarily long and somewhat dated IAMBUS, you can bet that I'm going to complain about the horrible liberties taken here. That pretentious Latinate plural, come on! Nobody would say this nowhere ever never, not even your most tweeded and elbow-patched professor."
- " In searching "MITZI Gaynor," I got a lot of Google hits, but none so interesting as SeniorBachelor, the website of a rich old guy looking for love. He currently seems to be screening applicants for some kind of invitation-only tour of Italy, wherein you can have the privilege of paying to be a part of his traveling harem. I may be a little fuzzy on the details. Have at him, ladies!"
- There were 8 comments, three of which were from @your wife, including this: "Certainly in sheer numbers, osier wins the Google wars. But the first couple of pages of a Google search for "osier" give you nowhere to buy the stuff. Search "raffia" on the other hand, and you are inundanted with purchasing options. And some lovely projects, such as this gem from "Small purses are fun, raffia is fun - together this is the Doublemint of fun summer purse projects!""

Waxy in Montreal 8:22 PM  

Pet peeve - ASAP being equated with "Now!" (1A). During the 35 or so years I wrote and received memos, ASAP meant, well, "as soon as possible". In other words, not "now!" but when feasible in the relatively near future. "Stat" was much more likely to signify that that action was needed on an urgent basis. Even had a colleague who used "soonest" to indicate that action needed to be undertaken immediately if at all possible. So belated apologies to anyone who sent me a memo, email or any other kind of communication thinking that ASAP implied "now!". Not how I interpreted it...

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

Spacecraft here. The VAMPIRE might disagree with OBTS because he likes to bite, and doesn't want the bitee to flinch. Makes perfect sense to me.
Another SOLID Chenner, softened only by Monday-level cluing. I can just see 11d appearing on a Friday: "Clay, reworked." The weekday progression really has more to do with cluing than anything, for my money.

atranica: a country where you're not allowed to cross-dress.

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