Wife in The Good Earth / MON 1-23-12 / Stimpy's canine pal / Blue 1971 Cy Young Award winner / Pagan nature religion / Popular soup legume

Monday, January 23, 2012

Constructor: Sarah Keller

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Head over heels —three-word expressions, where the first and third words are body parts

Word of the Day: VIDA Blue (60D: ___ Blue, 1971 Cy Young Award winner) —
Vida Rochelle Blue Jr. (born July 28, 1949) is a former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher. During a 17-year career, he pitched for the Oakland Athletics (1969–77), San Francisco Giants (1978–81; 1985–86), and Kansas City Royals (1982–83) He won the American League Cy Young award and Most Valuable Player Award in 1971. He is a six-time all-star, and is one of only four pitchers in major league history to start the all-star game for both the American League (1971) and the National League (1978); Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay would later duplicate the feat. (wikipedia)
• • •

I feel like I'm missing some key component of this theme. Body part + word + body part? Is that it? Not a lot of consistency there. All answers involve parts of the face ... except one. All answers have a preposition for the middle word ... except one. The one obvious answer that would fit the theme isn't even in the grid ("head over heels") (presence of HOOF also reminded me of "HOOF and mouth" disease ... not a great entry, or a pleasant thing to think about—I was in Britain during their epidemic of 2001. Lots of questions at customs about time spent on farms and what not. But back to the puzzle ...). Further, there are only four theme answers and still the grid is a festival of dull crosswordese (ARNE OLAN EDIE LIRR LSATS and on and on and on).  The theme answers are pretty colorful, but this is a somewhat below-average Monday, overall.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Fiercely (TOOTH AND NAIL) 
  • 35A: Embarrassingly imprudent (FOOT-IN-MOUTH)
  • 42A: Next to one another (CHEEK BY JOWL)
  • 59A: Fast and in large amounts (HAND OVER FIST)

I learned in this puzzle that I don't know how to spell the simple word MAUL (1A: Manhandle horribly). I went with MAWL ... is that a type of hammer or something? I feel sure I've seen the word before ... nope, the hammer is also spelled with a "U" ... I'm sure all those years of reading Chaucer are to blame, somehow. Clue misreading had me wondering what Latin phrase there could possibly be that would refer to how someone does lawn work ("PRO BONO? Why would you cut someone's lawn for fr- ... oh, "law." Yes, that makes more sense"). My wife, who knows very little about sports (particularly American sports, particularly American sports from before she and I met) knew VIDA Blue because that is the name I gave to one of my daughter's stuffed animals many years ago (60D: ___ Blue, 1971 Cy Young Award winner). Against her will. "That's not his name!" "I had his baseball card as a kid. I think I know VIDA Blue when I see him." I can't be the only one who torments his (then) 4-year-old this way ... can I?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


dk 8:09 AM  

A dental theme with HOOF and MOUTH and fear thrown in as a bonus. Who could ask for more? Wait there is more: "a festival of dull crosswordese!" Great phrasing my master.

Of course we all now the best time to see a dentist:

tooth hurty!

** (2 Stars) A rinse and spit start to the week.

joho 8:11 AM  

Wow, I'm the first here, no wonder, however, since I'm pretty excited that my first solo puzzle is running in the LA Times today. I hope you'll check it out!

As to this puzzle, it was kind of interesting to see the various body parts plus there's even an added HOOF and TOE for extra measure. HOOF crosses at FOOT. But I always heard the term as CHEEK and JOWL which threw me.

Jowly Cheek 8:16 AM  

I thought the long downs were pretty boring today - I like to see better words than MINICAM and KARAOKE in those spots. Also thought the cross of VIDA and OLAN was a bit much with the crosswordese for a Monday.

Gareth Bain 8:17 AM  

@Rex: Curious, I've only ever heard it called foot-and-mouth, but Wikipedia says: "Foot-and-mouth disease or hoof-and-mouth disease" so there you go... caught mid pedantic correction!

kirble 8:36 AM  

I was pretty annoyed that they had VIDA crossing OLAN. I temporarily forgot how to spell OLAN (which I only know from crosswords), so I was up a creek with that crossing. Why, on a Monday, would you cross a crosswordese answer with a clue that is opaque to anyone who doesn't follow baseball? It's not as if VIDA has no other ways of being clued.

jberg 8:36 AM  

When I was young, I always heard "hoof and mouth," but more recently I always hear "foot and mouth." Always thought that meant that some non-hoofed animals might still get the disease, but I don't really know that. One of my occasional hobbies is going to the UK to walk one of the long-distance footpaths, most of which were closed for a year - but that wasn't I year I had planned on it, fortunately.

My wife and I had just been talking about Cher, for some reason, so it was fun to see her ex-husband in there. More poignantly, the memorial to the late ETTA James at 68A was also a nice tough. So I enjoyed this one more than some, but a witty revealer would certainly have helped.

Return of the Mac 8:51 AM  

VIDA/OLAN crossing is totally unfair for a Monday.

This potential grid fix took 30 seconds:


This could have been smooother, for sure.

Return of the Mac 8:52 AM  

Sorry, that should read WAGERED at 45D.

tptsteve 9:03 AM  

Agreed with everything RP said.

When I saw the pic of Sonny Bono, instead of linking it with 18A, I mentally put it with 60D and thought of the standard "When S[o]nny gets BLUE"

Wood 9:06 AM  

Agree about the VIDA/OLAN cross, even though I knew OLAN. Thank god TERP was gettable from crosses... I'm with Tobias, down with sports clues!!

chefbea 9:09 AM  

Pretty easy Monday.

If you want to spice up your lentil soup..add a bit of tabasco.

Now to try Joho's puzzle

Dr. Spock 9:17 AM  

Rex--In my remarks to parents of young children, I secifically state that children should be able to name their own toys. Only if a child names a toy with an obscenity should a change be made.


Tita 9:17 AM  

VIDA Blue coincides with my brief period of sports fanaticism, so was a gimme. Those pre-Steinbrenner years of adolescent ardor serve me well now in puzzledom.

I liked all the theme answers. Tooth and nail is such a vivid phrase...

And nods to Connecticut - ETHAN Allen, born here, and IGOR Sikorsky, who set up shop here and built the Pan Am Clipper, and of course helicopters.

@joho - Are you Johanna? Off to check out your puzzle...

retired_chemist 9:25 AM  

Easy-medium. But meh. I didn't mind the theme, but there were a lot of crosswordese answers, which I did mind. I take the point of those who were not impressed.

I named my (then three year old) daughter's doll Salvador (Dolly). She didn't mind. So, no, Rex, you are not alone.

If O-Lan left China and married John Mills, she'd be......

jackj 9:40 AM  

This "Sarah Keller's Magical Mystery Anatomy Tour" would have been a tad more fun if the clues had some wit or spark to them, but, they didn't and it isn't.

M07S 9:44 AM  

I'm reasonably sure that during the 2001 epidemic Time magazine explained that hoof-and-mouth and foot-and-mouth were the same thing but one term was used in Britain and the other in the US. (This is apropos of nothing since the answer was FOOTINMOUTH, but somebody brought it up.)

edwords 9:49 AM  

Rex, my twins had identical stuffed animals named Kirby Puckett and Nomar when they were little -- the kids, not the players. Didn't seem to cause any lasting psychological issues, at least not yet.

Tobias Duncan 9:53 AM  

As a militant asportist I have to say that starting the sports enculturation/brainwashing at four is akin to child abuse!Children should be allowed to make these decisions for themselves once they reach the age of reason.

quilter1 9:55 AM  

I liked CHEEKBYJOWL, it sounds kind of creepy.

I don't know much baseball stuff but VIDA Blue somehow stuck with me, maybe because it is a cool name.

Crossing with OLAN is legit, as she has been in the crossword for decades, and should be in all of our boxes of common answers. I rated this one easy.

I have lentils and tabasco, just need a nice smoked ham hock. It snowed last night, perfect soup weather.

M07S 9:59 AM  

@joho...nice puzz in the LAT. Favorite answer - SOUPCON

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

An animal epidemic is called an epizootic.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

@M07S - Why don't you give us the rest of the answers to the LAT?

jesser 10:03 AM  

I really liked this puzzle. Maybe it's because I bowled really well last night, kicking my bother-in-law's ass. The spelling is intentional.

I mean, c'mon: MIRTH! How can you not love a puzzle with MIRTH in it? And ETTA James to boot. That dear, troubled, talented soul.

Only writeover was lOCAL before NOCAL at 54D, and the RAIN fixed that lickety-split.

Have I mentioned I loved this puzzle? And this blog? And you folks (some more than others, but that's human nature, and you know who you are!)

Happy Monday!

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

There is no way in hell that I'm going to click on George Michael's "Hand to Mouth". No way.

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

Yes, rather tired fill.
I'm with @ jberg, a reveal would have been nice.
@ joho, Congrats.
@ Anon 9:59, Go away and take your spoilers with you.

cw stewart 10:43 AM  

I think Sarah was referring to the phrase foot in mouth like when you put your foot in your mouth...not the disease...so relax guys!
I liked this puzzle!

Tobias Duncan 10:45 AM  

Well MO7s did get me to go check out the LAT puzzle.Lots of fun but it went so fast I did not get a good look at the theme and the damn program would not let me look over the completed puzzle.GRRRR.

@Quilter I must say once again that crosswordese rules are different on a Monday.This is the puzzle we are to give to our non solving friends to get them interested in crosswords.That cross was ugly as hell for someone who is not in Oprah's book club.I am still bringing a stack to morning coffee though.

Oh and to any of you super literal types, my first post was an attempt at humor and not an actual accusation of abuse.

quilter1 10:58 AM  

@Tobias, indeed a teachable moment for them to learn OLAN.

Tinbeni 10:58 AM  

I agree with you.
This was a FUN 'Monday level' offering.

In addition to MIRTH and the timely ETTA, I liked the "HOOF into FOOT" and "TOE into MOUTH" at the

Then again, I just solve the puzzles.
Leave the "Micro-Analyzing" and barbs to Rex.
(If he had said this was "an appropriate Monday" the line to jump onto his bandwagon and agree with him would have filled quickly).

Jesser & chefbea: A toast to you at Sunset.

Tita 10:59 AM  

Go to Diary of a Crossword Fiend blog - there you can see the grid. I agree - that is a terrible online program!
(And there one can safely posst spoilers...yes, I'm talking to YOU, Anon...

@joho - congratulations!!! Liked it lots, but will say more on DOACF...

mac 11:00 AM  

Not a lot of sparkle, but decent Monday puzzle. Crosswordese Olan was a gimme, but had another look at Vida's clue, rare to see a man's name ending in an A.

Imprudent is an odd word in the clue for "foot in mouth", I think a form of "insensitive" would be better.

Congratulations, Joho, good puzzle!

Sparky 11:22 AM  

Easy. Timed myself, 9 minutes. I am trying to speed up for ACPT. As a result didn't even see some of the words including VIDA.

Since I am a Sagittarius I sometimes refer to myself as having hoof in mouth disease. No one laughs. Sigh.

@dk: Ouch.

M07S 11:23 AM  

Apologies to all for the spoiler on the LAT puzz. I'm used to coming here where everybody's completed the puzzle and commenting freely. I forgot myself. That was inexcusable.

Sparky 11:27 AM  

Wow, I've never thought of it being either imprudent or insensitive. More like unfortunate. Another but different kind of ouch.

chefbea 11:48 AM  

@joho...fun puzzle!! Congrats.

@tinbeni..nice to hear from you..cheers

efrex 11:59 AM  

Decent Monday. I probably would've forgiven the crosswordese-laded fill were it not for the VIDA/OLAN cross (not at all fair for a Monday). Liked the theme just fine, though. Am I the only person who starting singing the Rush song "Hand Over Fist" as soon as I figured out that theme answer? (Probably...)

xyz 12:03 PM  

El REI finds it medium and it was close to a straight fill through as I have ever gotten. Slight hold-up at 61A trying to fit in HDMI ...

... and did need crosses for CHEEKBYJOWL as that was really a sad and ugly answer. Has anyone ever said that?

@MO7, there is a nice blog for LAT tagged crossword corner to avoid future spoilers. Oh the humanity ... I always do both before checking either.

Tinbeni 12:07 PM  

Yup, a FUN Monday LAT.

Of course that SALUD at Sunset will be Avatar, NEAT!

Unlike that Italian Captain, I never enjoy anything

Mel Ott 12:07 PM  

A's owner Charley Finley supposedly offered VIDA Blue a bonus if he would change his first name to TRUE (True Blue, get it). I guess he thought it would make him more marketable. Happily, Mr. Blue declined. Why try to improve on a name like VIDA BLUE?

quilter1 12:26 PM  

@joho, I just did your LAT puzzle. Very nice, not too easy for Monday and it hit the spot. Thanks, Johanna

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

found it a tad hard for monday, don't know why. captcha: rother as in i'd rother not.

Rudy 12:54 PM  

@Mel Ott

Thank God, Vida Blue did not go through a name change. That winning 1971 season for the Oakland A's had other memorable names, John "Blue Moon" Odom, Rollie Fingers.

I thought the phrases in the Monday puzzle capture the slate of Presidential candidates very well:

How about TOOTHANDNAIL to describe Santorum; FOOTINMOUTH to describe Perry (oh, how we miss him now!). CHEEKBYJOWL for Newt; and of course HANDOVERFIST to describe Mitt.

Lewis 1:12 PM  

@rudy -- you pegged them just right

I had more blanks on my first pass than I usually do on a Monday, but they filled in quickly. A pleasant solve, but not one of those puzzles I'll remember for long.

@jesser -- you sound like you got your ten hours last night. Congrats on your victory, although someone is probably plotting revenge...

DJG 1:16 PM  


MANONDOG would better describe Santorum -- doesn't exactly fit the theme though.

GILL I. 1:18 PM  

Uncomplicated, easy Monday puzzle.
TERP sounds too much like twerp. I don't think I'd want that appellation.
Did you know that an anagram of OATER is roate?
@joho : fun, fun, fun.....Wish it were here so I could comment on all the words. Congratulation!!

Lewis 1:23 PM  

@joho -- excellent puzzle, solid, very nice reveal. Bravo!

evil doug 1:26 PM  

Sonny Bono's greatest contribution: He wrote one of the 10 best songs of all time---Needles and Pins, by the Searchers.

With that tired ESPN moron Chris Berman still inventing stupid nicknames, the last thing we need is more of them. Way to stay true to Vida, Vida.

Taking the training wheels off, Joho. Way to go.


Doc John 1:38 PM  

@DJG- My thoughts exactly!

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

My children's vet - oops - pediatrician said they had foot and mouth disease - also known as the Coxsackie virus.

evil doug 1:55 PM  

My favorite linked body parts are "a$$holes and elbows"---a highly technical term referring to pilots wrestling with the airplane and flailing through some unexpected flight brouhaha (not me, of course).


archaeoprof 2:07 PM  

@joho: congratulations! Very nice.

@tinbeni: neat, the only way to drink good scotch!

After the 1976 season, the A's traded VIDA Blue to the Cincinnati Reds. But Commissioner Bowie Kuhn voided the deal, calling it "detrimental to the competitive interests of baseball." NBA commissioner David Stern recently did the same thing to a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers.

Bird 2:08 PM  

Meh. Nice puzzle to fill in during lunch, though bit overdone with crosswordese. I never heard of CHEEKBYJOWL, but not complaining.

May ETTA rest in peace.

How about those Giants!

jackj 3:00 PM  

Joho- Tons of fun! Thanks.

retired_chemist 3:22 PM  

@ joho - good job.

My first try at a LAT puzzle. Didn't like the format - I tried the amateur level and it made any wrong squares red. Kinda cheating somehow - does the master's level give you the same puzzle but without this giveaway?

Rob C 3:25 PM  

@joho - CONGRATS

sanfranman59 3:37 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:30, 6:50, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:40, 1.01, 57%, Medium

Audio Cheeky Mirth 3:40 PM  

If you want to get Joho all her deserved props in detail, there is a spot on Diary of a Crossword Fiend and another one called crossword corner i think, now that our beloved PUzzleGirl no longer blogs the LA Times.
That way, no spoilers, but Joho can get lots of actual and specific love :)
I'm actually in LA and will hunt down a hard copy or two at the airport...staying with my friend Amy, an EDIE Falco lookalike. Took my 99 yr old grandma Maidie (100 in May!) to the Venice Canals and fell in love and want to live on them...

But i did like the puzzle, despite the perceived inconsistencies and that tough cross, because it was two body parts juxtaposed with out repeating "and" each time.
I'm on the fence tho if NAIL is a body part, per se.
I concede it IS a bit random, as FIST is something you do with a body part...
But while i was solving i was enjoying and looking forward to whatever was coming next.

AROOM of One's Own...must read for all feminists...and a great gift for budding ones. House of MIRTH too, perhaps.

Hmmm, I likedthe feminine vibe...Virginia Woolf, AMNIOS, ETTA, OLAN, NOCAL ( tho i think RAIL/LOCAL would have been more Mondayesque, and avoided the cross-referenced SLEET)

And for the person who complained about KARAOKE as a dull down, I beg/sing to DIFFER. It's the exact crunchy sparkly word a nice Monday deserves!

oh 3:41 PM  

I also immediately think of Bono (musician) when Pro Bono comes up. Then I start to wonder if Bono is spelled differently between the two. I'll never learn. How I am tormented. I've never heard of Vida Blue even though I could pass for a baseball fan. I think I'm too young.

ksquare 3:58 PM  

@dk: 8:09 I heard it originally as 'What's the best time to see a (Chinese) dentist?' 2:30 but that's not PC.

Anonymous 4:27 PM  

Whew, what's that smell?

Oh it's just this puzzle reeking of dusty old answers.

foodie 4:44 PM  

Hello from Copenhagen, where it's remarkably balmy for this time of year.

Did this puzzle last night after a long day, and liked the theme but was less crazy about some of the fill.

I guess I was really tired because I put YALTA instead of MALTA and wondering what kind of a word YAUL was. Took a while before the light went on...

Enjoyed seeing HOOF crossing TOOTH AND NAIL, and TOE crossing FOOT IN MOUTH, and wished that there were more such intersections to enrich the theme-- e.g. HIND in lieu of HINT in SW.

In the end, the puzzle made me stop and think about how we use body parts to indicate social and emotional behavior. Pretty cool...

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

a tribute to Etta James would have been an appropriate addition to your blog (something other than "At Last" please"- especially as she was a clue- yet again- today.

joho 5:26 PM  

I want to thank you all for your kind comments. Today has been a wonderful day!

Of course, it wouldn't have been possible without this blog: Rex' writeups, everybody's comments and Andrea's mentoring.

I'm indebted to you all. Thanks!

jae 5:54 PM  

Putting in CHEEKTOJOWL cost me a decent time.  Google likes the correct answer better.  I was likely mislead by my Navy boot camp experience with a similar phrase.  When we had to line up for something (which happened with some regularity) we were told the formation should be "nuts TO butts," which also happens to work with this theme.

Congrats joho!

Med. OK Mon. for me.

Tita 5:56 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb 7:19 PM  

Not much to say about this one, but I enjoyed your puzzle in the L.A. Times, Joho!

I'm with you about the Venice canals, Andrea; now I just need to win the lottery to make that dream happen. (First I have to remember to buy a ticket once in awhile though.) As for that FIST comment, I'm not touchin' it!

Deb 8:06 PM  

Oops, P.S. @ Rex: I, too, wrote in MAwL. Weird.

chefwen 8:08 PM  

@joho - Congratulations, what a fun puzzle.

Liked this one too. Always heard is as CHEEK to JOWL when one is in a very crowded area.

Loved MIRTH and had no problem with the VIDA/OLAN cross, even if you know nothing about baseball a name like VIDA blue has got to stick with you.

JenCT 8:10 PM  

Found this puzzle to be harder than most Mondays.

@efrex: big Rush fan here...

MINICAM took me the longest.

Briefly forgot that LENTIL is a legume.

Exciting football yesterday - Big Blue!!! (although, I feel for the Ravens' kicker and the 49ers' punt returner)

skua76 8:36 PM  

Nice puzzle...the comments here about Vida Blue made me look up the stats on the no-hitter I saw in Candlestick Park one frigid evening in 1980...LA's Jerry Reuss won over the Giants.

And joho, your puzzle was excellent. Nice to know who did it, while my local paper is a very easy interface, they don't print bylines.

Anonymous 9:55 PM  

Evil -

"With that tired ESPN moron Chris Berman still inventing stupid nicknames"

You are better than that....


Anonymous 11:39 PM  

Joho -- I only do the NYT puzzle, so when you are published there I will join in the congratulations....


Larry 11:46 PM  

1. Etta had to be regular fill and not a tribute. Can't imagine that you are going to pull a puzzle two days before publication and change the grid. They didn't even change the clue to "Late James." Which raises the question of which crossword people are still alive but of the age where they could have a chance of having their name appear on or near their death?

2. In the Army the drill sergeant would, upon assigning clean up work, scream I want to see ASSHOLES and ELBOWS! Except it won't fit or be fit.

sanfranman59 12:19 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:39, 6:50, 0.97, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:40, 1.01, 57%, Medium

Dirigonzo 3:32 PM  

How come no one has mentioned the shout-out to many of the commenters here? It's at 22d (Hi, all you ANONs).

Nullifidian 11:37 PM  

In from syndication-land:

I haven't been online to discuss these much. I'd rather gotten out of the habit of doing the crosswords daily and I'm trying to pick it up again.

This puzzle wasn't a bad one to resume solving with. My one area of difficulty was OLAN/VIDA, which was a sheer guess. Otherwise all the clues fell steadily one after the other.

There's not much of a theme but it was easy to figure out, so that I was able to confidently enter HAND OVER FIST with only two letters filled in.

I don't have much else to say. Nothing about the puzzle stood out, but it was an enjoyable way to kill time while listening to an episode of The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe.

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