Golfer's gouge / MON 8-27-12 / Fan of Jerry Garcia's band / He played Hulk on 1970s-80s TV / Hops kiln / Frilly place mats / Spotted wildcat / Name that comes from Old Norse for young man

Monday, August 27, 2012

Constructor: Michael Farabaugh

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: A vowel sound progression puzzle
  • LAYAWAYPLAN (17A: Purchasing system with payments made over time)
  • LEE IACOCCA (29A: Former Chrysler C.E.O.)
  • LIE DOWN ON THE JOB (34A: Goldbrick)
  • LOW-FAT DIET (43A: Healthful food regimen, traditionally)
  • LOU FERRIGNO (56A: He played the Hulk on 1970s-'80s TV)

Word of the Day: NAOMI (42A: Ruth's mother-in-law) —
Naomi (נָעֳמִי "Pleasant; agreeable; my sweet", Standard Hebrew NoʻomiTiberian Hebrew nåʿå̆mī) is Ruth's mother-in-law in the Old Testament Book of Ruth. Later, she called herself Mara, or "bitter" (Ruth 1:20-21), she said to the women on Bethlehem, "Do not call me Naomi call me Mara (מרה), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me," referring to the death of her husband (Elimelech) and her two sons (Mahlon and Chilion). In Ruth 1:13, she had said to her two daughters-in-law "it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me," (ESV), but the NIV translates this as "It is more bitter for me than for you..." which indicates that Naomi is indeed bitter. Barry Webb points out that there is both an objective element in her life being bitter (bereavement, dislocation and poverty), as well as a subjective element - the bitterness she feels. (wikipedia)
• • •

I'm all for vowel (sound) progression puzzles early in the week, but the bar seems pretty low on this one. You could make and remake and remake this puzzle, with this theme, infinitely. And it's not as if the answers themselves are stunning—though LIE DOWN ON THE JOB and LOU FERRIGNO are quite decent. It's a very smooth, competently made puzzle, but a bit drab and unambitious as well. Also, remarkably easy, even for a Monday. I torched it in 2:36.

Today (Sunday) was Women's Equality Day (the anniversary of the 19th Amendment) and my local brewpub, Water Street Brewing Co., celebrated by giving away free desserts ... to everyone. Not just women. Everyone. Equality! The very fact that a brewpub decided to recognize Women's Equality Day at all impressed me, and then the fact that they took it beyond another excuse for Ladies' Night and actually practiced Equality by giving dessert away to everyone really sealed the deal. So I'm blogging now with my belly full of a pint of Dark English Mild, some surprisingly delicious veggie sausage and peppers, french fries, a third of a fresh-baked pretzel, and Equality Brownie (TM). Good times. How does this relate to crosswords? Uh ... OAST, probably, right? (26D: Hops kiln). Oh, yesterday I forgot to wish Will Shortz happy 60th birthday (I did on Facebook, just not here). So—happy birthday, sir.

Not sure what "traditionally" means in the clue for LOW-FAT DIET (43A: Healthy food regimen, traditionally). I don't think of said diets being "traditional" in any real sense of the word. Also, the word appears to be an equivocation, as if the healthfulness of LOW-FAT DIETs had somehow been debunked. I know there are differing views on the relative healthfulness of the various fats, but I have a hard time imagining the general idea of a LOW-FAT DIET being controversial, health-wise. Maybe it's a matter of degree. At any rate, "traditionally" struck me as weird (as you've probably gathered by now). My normal diet is pretty low-fat, though my diet this evening Clearly was not.

  • 44D: Spotted wildcat (OCELOT) — I was just thinking earlier today that OCELOT should be the next step in the Mac operating system cat progression.
  • 21A: "Make ___" (Picard's command on "Star Trek: T.N.G.") ("IT SO") — partials are never good, but as partial clues go, this one is aces.
  • 20A: Golfer's gouge (DIVOT) — I don't usually mind alliteration, but "gouge" is a truly awful word. This clue sounds like a disease. "Poor Bill—did you hear he got golfer's gouge?"
  • 25A: Frilly place mats (DOILIES) — I always thought these were smaller; specifically, I associate them with a kind of coaster equivalent used in various chain coffee shops / diners I went to as a kid. Cocoa's ... do they still have Cocoa's ... ? Maybe it was just a '70s/'80s Fresno thing. Nope—they're national, and spelled Coco's.
  • 49A: Name that comes from Old Norse for "young man" (SVEN) — cool trivia. Livens things up a bit. Puzzle could've used a little more livening like this. 
  • 4D: Fan of Jerry Garcia's band (DEADHEAD) — seen it before, but still like it. I also know this as a word from gardening—a verb meaning "to remove the spent flowers of a flowering plant."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:37 AM  

Mondays are quickly losing their NYT-worthiness.

jae 12:40 AM  

This one came in at medium for me.  I wasn't sure of the IACOCCA spelling and briefly had four Cs in a row.  Probably would have been easy or easy- medium if I was a better speller (ICAHN was iffy for me also).   Pretty good Mon.  Not much clunky stuff and a subtle take off on the vowel theme.

Can't see the word EFFETE with out thinking of Safire and Agnew.  I wonder if the partial " _____ snob" would be too obscure for someone not around as an adult in the early '70s?

retired_chemist 1:11 AM  

Liked it. On target for Monday, agree it was easy. Got 17A, 29A, and 56A immediately and figured out the theme.

Didn't see many of the down clues because I just plowed ahead on the acrosses until I needed a down or two. Like on the theme answer 34A.

31A was A LIST, 49A was ERIC, and 64A was SLAY. Easily fixed.

Not a lot to learn here: DEADHEAD was an exception, but I figure 90% of the others here connected Jerry Garcia immediately with The Grateful Dead. Just not me, at first.

Thanks, Mr. Farabaugh.

Anoa Bob 1:22 AM  

This is more grist for the theme density vs fill quality debate. With 57 squares for theme entries and 38 black squares, little room is left for the rest of the puzzle.

And it exacts a price, one of them being 22 3-letter entries. Several of these, such as MDL, ATA, ANI, ILO, SOR, ONO, & UNA, rather than enticing new-comers to become NYT xword regulars (that's what the early week puzzles are designed to do, right?), might be a bit off-putting.

Some other concessions include 6D EEYORE, 25D DIAN, 27D ICAHN (really?), and 21D ILO all crossing 29A LEE IACOCCA. Whew!

I'm not dumping on Mr. Farabaugh's puzzle. Given the constraints of high theme density and relatively high black square count, he did a fine job, and treated us to some good stuff such as 47D EFFETE and, my favorite, 50A ACOLYTE.

I'm just voting for less emphasis on theme density and more emphasis on fill quality, especially in the early week puzzles.

Mike 1:49 AM  

I was happy to beat my personal best today, which is now 5:07. Then I saw Rex's time. Oh, well.

Pretty easy, but I still have to work through each section a couple of times in many cases to nail it all down. Maybe someday I'll fill most sections in one pass.

Captchas and iPad auto-correct are a really bad combination.

acolyte casa morays 1:55 AM  

Surprised at the easy rating, I would disagree a bit, esp for newbies...I think this would be super hard.

ACOLYTE and the names LOUFERRIGNO, IACOCCA, DIAN, would be VERY well as the JOVE/SVEN cross. And ICAHN? (Let the screaming begin.)

(I'm gonna repeat a bit of what I wrote to someone on Wordplay...)

Do you think Financier Carl's slogan if he ran for prez against Obama be "Yes, I CAHN!"?

re: ANI, ONO, UNA, ONE seemed like a ladder.

So if he changes DOIN to DEAR or DEAL or DEAR it would get rid of ONE, as well as the two word DOIN. (altho I kind of like two word mini phrases like ONME, DOIN, less so ITSO) and NIT.

I really didn't like NIT clued in a sportsy way that is prob alien to 50% of the Monday solving community with the already hard to spell LOUFERRIGNO, which is challenging not only spellingwise, but generationally.

ALL that said, I loved the LAY, LEE, LIE, LOW, LOU!

I spelled fleur-de-LYS with a Y
a) bec I always make that mistake
b) I thought it was a clever toss in for "sometimes Y"
I thought there was room where LIS is to put in LYE.

AFROS keeps rearing its head, so to speak...third time in one week. And still not acceptable in Scrabble!

Re: Will's 60th, for those of you not around Sunday's blogs...there was lots of celebrating!
If you would like to solve a dozen tribute puzzles to Will Shortz for his bday, go to:

Dozens of constructors jumped in to show their love and appreciation for the man who has brought us all together...the puzzles are super fun and Amy made space on her forum for them!

Plus feel free to add one of your own!!!

chefwen 2:14 AM  

Super easy for me until I decided to have a Mojito for brunch. Pretty easy to fix when the O,J,I,T. or O didn't work. Also had slay for 64A, more fixin required. Saw LOU FARRIGNO on Celebrity Apprentice not too long ago (yeah, I know, I watch some weird stuff.) Husband usually just sighs and leaves the room, but I couldn't remember if it was FARRIGNO or mO. Not being up to snuff on my annual coll. basketball 60D could have been anything. Guessed right in the end and went with the N.

Cute puzzle but I really wanted that Mojito!!!

Deb 4:59 AM  

"Poor Bill, did you hear he got golfer's gouge?"


Z 6:06 AM  

Where has SanFranMan59 been? His numbers would resolve the easy/challenging debate.

Here, I paused to sort out the vowels and Cs in IACOCCO, I paused for downs for ACOLYTE, and I paused when I saw that Bill Bixby wouldn't fit and wondered if I was forgetting his actual name.

Other than those brief pauses, this was straightforward with no writeovers. The notion of a Tiny TIM/ANI DiFranco duet is interesting. That pairing alone redeems the three letter fill in my book.

JFC 6:49 AM  

Nice puzzle for Monday. Like Acme, I was looking for a LYE somewhere to round it out. Y not?


Anonymous 7:41 AM  

Could traditional refer to Low-fat instead of the more modern cutesy Lo-fat?

joho 7:48 AM  

I loved ICAHN crossing LEEIACOCCA.

@Rex, LOL at "golfer's gouge!" Does it resemble gout?

I actually had WOoFED before WOLFED which while wrong was funny.

The theme was simple and very Monday appropriate ... thank you, Michael farabaugh!

John V 7:52 AM  

Greetings from LGA C41. SE would not be easy for a newby. Otherwise, good, easy Monday.

Sue McC 8:28 AM  

Went by in a flash. Nitpick: would have preferred the last clue to be LU ( LUCY?), but I'll let it go.

Re: Mike & iPad & captcha...yes, yes, yes....

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

Shouldn't the last theme answer start with LU (not LOU)? LUCKOFTHEDRAW, LUNTFONTANNE, LUCIDDREAMING, etc.

orangeblossomspecial 8:45 AM  

At Disney parks such as Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, DEADHEAD also means sending a vehicle around empty, with no guests aboard.

Jimmie Lunceford recorded 1A 'YARD dog mazurka'.

A tribute to 14A is 'Gimme that old soft SHOE'.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

The traditional diet is because it has widely been replaced with low carb diets. For better or worse....

jberg 8:54 AM  

The theme is about the sounds, and the progression is all 3-letter words. If you want the actual letters, LA, LE, LI, LO, LU I think you'd have to give up the equal word lengths - unless there's some Hawai'ian term that would be too hard for a Monday. And at least LOU has the U in there somewhere.

This would have been easy for me, but I have no idea there is something called Pepsi ONE, and didn't know the actor, so I guessed he was Mr.FERRIGNa - hence DNF. Sigh.

I'm supposed to fly to New Orleans tomorrow. They've already cancelled the first day of the conference (Wed.), but both the conference planners and American Airlines are being very coy about the hurricane, so I don't know what will happen. My thoughts are with the people there, anyway, as we near the 7th anniversary of Katrina.

chefbea 9:11 AM  

Very easy!! But I too wanted the last theme answer to start with Lu...

Why is jupiter=jove?

dk 9:14 AM  

I thought my pen was on fire. I used to look at the 1 minute 45 second solving times and think: sure you did? Today, while I did not get to the under 2 shore I could see it.

Agree with anon-o mouse at 12:37 this was barely Times-worthy.

re: storms

Looked through some of my Katrina photos the other day. I will see if the levee break one works as a little picture here. Pure terror.

Ok cannot 34A today although it will be 90.

🎅🎅 (2 Santas - no elves available)

Truck update: Bought a 2013 Tacoma (red, reg. cab, 5 speed)) it arrives in late Sept. New theme song: Red Solo Truck.

Carola 9:53 AM  

The sound progression made me smile, and I liked lots of the rest, too - thought it was a very nice Monday.

Had no idea of LOU's last name, had to get it from crosses and thus was almost Naticked at the N. Vague memories of seeing NIT got me through.

Favorite answer chunk: LOW FAT DIET ACOLYTE, as I sit here with my breakfast of no-fat yogurt and blueberries. Also liked spotting NAOMI WATT.

@Rex - "golfer's gouge" - LOL

@chefbea - JOVE is another name for Jupiter. According to, "[Middle English, from Archaic Latin Iovis or from Latin Iov-, stem of Iuppiter....]."

Milford 9:53 AM  

I agree with @jberg, that the theme is going for the sounds of the vowels, plus trying to stay consistent to a single-syllable word or name, so LOU is OK by me. If only LUE were a name or real word...

I think that LOW-FAT is being labelled traditional in the sense that it isn't a newer, trendier diet, like Atkins, South Beach, or Caveman, that encourage eating bacon and beef, or something like that.

I also agree that DOILIES aren't exactly placemats. More like vase mats.

Easy-peasy Monday.

Sandy K 10:20 AM  

Altho I generally liked this puzzle, my major disappointment was that it did not have the LA LE LI LO LU and possibly LY pattern.

Others gave good possiblilities for LU answers, so for me this was not as perfectly planned as the JA JE JI JO ending with JUDAS PRIEST puzzle not-so-long ago.

Altho the answers were on the EASySIDE, the spellings were not, eg. FERRIGNO, IACOCCA which prevented my DOIN' it in record time, by JOVE, by ONO and by capchas...

Two Ponies 10:30 AM  

Easy here too and I agree with Andrea that new solvers might have had some serious speed bumps along the way. Crossing Icahn (who?) with Iacocca might be one of them.
I liked the sound progression of the theme so I let some of the fill pass.
Fingers crossed for the Gulf states. As for the city of Tampa...
I can only hope. Maybe a nice power outage?

Z 11:13 AM  

@Chefbea - I had a pal in college who went by "Deju." His first name was actually Wladyslaw. I asked him once how one got "Deju" from "Wladyslaw." His immediate answer was, "The same way you get 'Dick' from 'Richard.'"

quilter1 11:15 AM  

Nice Monday with some words we don't often see. My son was a huge Hulk fan (pun intended) so FERRIGNO was easy. Yes, newer, younger solvers might scratch their heads, but we all add to our knowledge base, which is why this little old lady enjoys doing BEQ's puzzles with all the current stuff I never heard of.

Geometricus 11:29 AM  

Also beat my personal record today with 6:00 flat. All the clues were right in my wheelhouse. And I didn't feel like I was rushing.

Just noticed TACTIC is TICTAC in reverse.

syndy 11:39 AM  

Ah yeah "the golfer's chunk of sod that got whacked out" would have flowed SO much better!.I wanted to throw in "Eddies dad" at 56 across but I got over it!Easy but not boring=perfect monday was amazed how much 11 down looked like a breath mint.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

are on a LOWFATDIET- ECOLI-free,

are sadly on a permanent LAYAWAYPLAN...

Queen Victoria 1:22 PM  

DOILIES are tatted things, placed over the back or arms of chairs to keep the grease from your hair or the filth from your hands from soiling the fabric. God, you people are disgusting with your greasy hair and filthy hands, take a friggin shower or something.

The things that go under glasses or vases or your dinner plates are coasters or placemats, respectively. I don't care how elaborate the frill around the edges are, they're coasters or placemants.

JHC 1:50 PM  

ICAHN was a gimme for me, because on Friday my wife and I took a cab up the FDR to LaGuardia, and as we passed Randall's Island we engaged in a head-scratching discussion as to what the heck they do at Icahn Stadium. I don't say this in defense of its Monday-appropriateness, but I thought it was kind of fun.

Count me among the almost-Naticked at FERRIGNO/NIT. Lucky guess on the common vowel-GN-vowel construction in Italian.

Finally, @Geometricus:

Sandy K 2:20 PM  

Must make a correction: The previous puzzle I was referring to was NOT Judas Priest. It was TALL, TELL, TILL, TELL and JETHRO TULL!

Sandy K 2:23 PM  

PS Correction#2


Doc John 2:57 PM  

I think that "traditional" refers to the fact that in the past, diets were low in fat. (I actually considered low cal as the answer at first.) Low carb didn't come along until much later. In fact, about a decade ago, if someone even said the word "Atkins" at medical weight loss meetings they were practically shot on sight. Now, Atkins™ is sponsoring the meetings!

P.S. I hate capcha

Milford 3:06 PM  

@Queen Victoria - the crocheted lace mat under my metal-legged lamp, to keep it from scratching the wooden surface it's on, is in fact a doily.

KR Munson 4:02 PM  

@Geometricus -Liked the TACTIC/TICTAC observation. There's a NYT puzzle theme hiding in there somewhere!

Queen Sparky 4:08 PM  

@Queen Victoria--the mat on the back of the chair is an antimacassar to protect the upholstery from Macassar oil.

Misspelled OCoLET at first, also EbOLa. Crosses fixed them. I tried to speed through this. I'll spare you my time. Clearly I have to stop erasing and circling and crossing out theme clue numbers if I want to pick up time. I missed even seeing ELM and FLA. I like to read the whole grid.

An okay Monday for me.

joho 4:19 PM  

I think you should keep your name "Queen Sparky!"

joho 4:20 PM  

Oh, if that indeed was Sparky commenting.

sanfranman59 4:56 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 5:50, 6:48, 0.86, 4%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:41, 0.97, 38%, Easy-Medium

This one will probably finish the day with one of the lower Monday median solve times in the All Solvers group. But there may be more fewer than the usual number of Monday solvers, perhaps suggesting more DNFs than is typical. Unfortunately, the data I have can't provide a good answer to that because the number of online solvers has been going steadily downhill. The average number of Monday solvers has been 666 since the NYT changed its policy July 9 and no longer gives print subscribers access to their Premium Crosswords. During the same weeks in 2009 through 2011, the number of Monday solvers averaged 893, 835 and 813. So I don't really know what the new normal is.

My own solve time was right at my Monday average, but it was inflated because I misspelled IACOCCA as IoCOCCA and it took me about a half minute or so to find the error when Mr. Happy Pencil failed to appear.

ANON B 5:13 PM  

How can you rate this puzzle
as easy? Mondays are usually
so easy that I can't tell
the difference from one to
the next.
I don't time my self, that would
spoil the fun. I would rather
go at a leisurely pace and savor
the clever clues and admire the
constructors' skills.

Sfingi 7:57 PM  

DEADHEAD also means to prune away the flowers of a bushy plant in order to conserve its energy and produce more flowers.

FERRIGNO, IACOCCA, DIFRANCO hurray for the Italians.

@Chefwen - In order to dispense with confusion, remember that GN is pronounced like a Spanish enya. I have never seen Gm as an Italian sound. Magma, etc. is Greek. So, Faireenyo is the pronunciation.

JFC 9:13 PM  

Maybe it's that time of the year.

Maybe it's because Rex was AWOL for three weeks.

Maybe it's because Rex has been nice.

Maybe it's because everyone here has been nice.

Maybe it's because people are tired of proving they are not robots (10 tries so far).

But the number of comments has been significantly fewer....


Z 9:36 PM  

Until recently I rarely had to reload. Lately five tries is not unusual.

Tita 10:03 PM  

Started out frighteningly easy, but then got chunky for a Monday.

It's all been said, so I'll just point out my own mini-theme...
Pepsi ONE and Rodin's NUDE...
Took my French god daughter to Pepsi HQ, to the remarkably beautiful (and free) Kendall Sculpture Gardens last week.
Saw many NUDEs, including the haunting Eve by Rodin. She interviewed other visitors about how they felt about certain nudes, all for a Johns Hopkins project on the brain and perception of beauty.

I'll have to go mention it on Fiend to get Foodie's input.

(Capchas are WAY hard all of a sudden!!!)

Tita 10:10 PM  

@JFC - I am usually pretty verbose around here...I've had back-to-back-toback house guests for 3 weeks.
I think it's my absence that has been keeping the coments down to a more reasonable level.

You're welcome.

JenCT 10:27 PM  

@JFC 9:13: I, for one, have been insanely busy this summer - I hope to be back to solving & commenting once the weather cools!

@Acme: enjoyed your post.

I also thought this would be hard for newbies.

Knew all the names, though, just from reading newspapers & watching TV. Remember Lou FERRIGNO from the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic "Pumping Iron?"

I've tried the captcha 7 times now; let's see if the 8th time's the charm....

sanfranman59 11:23 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 6:02, 6:49, 0.89, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:32, 3:41, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium

DickS 11:09 AM  

And that Nisi Prius nuisance, who just now is rather rife, The Judicial humorist—I've got him on the list!"

... The Mikado G&S

Nice touch for Savoyards!

Solving in Seattle 12:49 PM  

On an easy Monday how hard would it have been for Michael Farabaugh to have inserted an LU--------- instead of LOUFERRIGNO and made the vowel progression complete. Yeah, I know it was a vowel sound progression, but it seems a bit lazy to me.

I'm just grumpy because the Seahawks lost and the US Ryder Cup team folded like a geisha's fan.

DMGrandma 1:43 PM  

A smooth easy solve, tho, as usual I never saw the vowel progression. Guess I just don't look for those things.

As for those who don't like the iPad Captcha "corrections", I say enjoy. They often provide the laugh of the day! Not this time, however, as mine seems to make me out to be the blog meanie: IBeast

Ginger 3:25 PM  

Monday easy. I have no NIT on the theme progression as they are all 3 letters; LAY, LEE, LIE, LOW, LOU, but it would have been fun to include a Y, LYE (as has been mentioned).

@SIS The Seahawks really got bit on the fake fieldgoal. Maybe payback karma from Monday night? Also, your geisha fan comment is right on. Our guys just rolled over and played DEADheaded. OTOH, the Euros were in a zone.

Dirigonzo 4:21 PM  

One word: smoothe. I had a completed grid with one run through the clues, but there were a few that I needed all the crosses to produce an answer, including the financier's name and the basketball competition. I knew it was going to be fun when ROY Rogers was sitting next to a DEADHEAD - talk about your culture clash!

Since it's the first day of the month here are the astronomical highlights for October for all you syndi sky watchers: The Draconid meteor shower peaks on the 7th (but with only about 5 "shooting stars" per hour expected); the Orionid meteor shower (caused by Halley's Comet) should produce about 20 meteors when it peaks on the morning of the 22nd; and the full moon, called the Hunter's Moon, occurs on the 29th. Enjoy!

Solving in Seattle 4:22 PM  

@Ginger, the Hawks should be embarrassed for falling for that bush league trick, and the Rams should be equally embarrassed for pulling it.

rain forest 6:06 PM  

I never dash through a puzzle using only across answers, but I almost did on this one (ICahn changed that). It's kind of nice to have a puzzle like this now and then, easy but with still a little zip. Sorry, @SIS, I was rooting for Europe (Seve was my favourite back in the day), and it was great theatre. Didn't see the Seahawks game, but they are a favourite, too. They have a good team, but I'm not completely sold on Wilson. I think Lay Lee Lie Low Lou could be the chorus of a kids' song.

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