Monday, August 6, 2012

Hi again from Rex's BFFs Jenny and Liz, coming to you from the hometown of the greatest Olympian of all time, the one and only Michael Phelps!  That's right, in just one short week we dropped that other guy like he was hot (which, let's face it, he totally is), and jumped right back on the Phelps bandwagon!  

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: If they awarded Olympic medals for being easy, this puzzle would get the gold!

THEME: London Olympics — the end of the six starred clues are all different events in the summer Olympics.  We love this theme, because we love the Olympics and can spend hour after hour watching just about any Olympic sport (except for Rex's favorite, ping pong.  "Sport?"  Really?).

Some of our favs besides the obvious (gymnastics, swimming, tennis, track and field), are equestrian (because even old people - we're looking at you Rex Parker - can make the equestrian team) and trampoline (go Dong Dong!)

Word of the Day: VACATION  
vacation or holiday is a specific trip or journey, usually for the purpose of recreation or tourism. People often take a vacation during specific holiday observances, or for specific festivals or celebrations. Vacations are often spent with friends or family.

Not in the puzzle (duh), but, once again, Rex has filled his AVEO (28A, former Chevy subcompact) with ESSO (59A, petrol brand), and is away on vacation!  Who can blame him?  How else does one GET OVER (16D, recover from) a three week vacation to New Zealand?!  Rex, this is becoming an enviable TREND (57D, general way things are going).

Theme answers:
  • 16A.  [Big gamble] - crap SHOOT  
  • 24A.  [Election Day receptacle] - ballot BOX 
  • 37A.  [Result of a financial panic] - bank RUN
  • 40A. [Tight braid] - corn ROW
  • 51A. [Series of changes from birth to death] - life CYCLE
  • 63A. [Precipitous drop in cost] - price DIVE

  • 19A. [Good-looker]  HOTTIE  — (see last week's blog re: Ryan Lochte)

  • 66A. [Verdi's opera slave girl] AIDA — only our favorite Broadway musical of all time!  As for Opera...not a fan!  (except of course the opera scenes in Moonstruck and Pretty Woman.  So dreamy...)

  • 1D. [Like he-men] MACHO  (see 9D below)

  • 9D. [Baseball's record-setting Ripken] CAL — Another hometown boy!  (also see 19A above).  We turn 'em out good in Baltimore!

(Speaking of Cal Ripken, you may have heard that his mother was abducted from her home last week, and thankfully was found unharmed, but again, too soon Shortz!)  (calm down everyone, we're just kidding about it being too soon!)

Ok, all this blogging is cutting into our Olympics viewing time, so we're out of here!

Signed, Jenny and Liz, Rex's BFFs 


GILL I. 6:51 AM  

Terrific Monday. This one begs for a story @joho? jackj? foodie?( where art thou?) I'd add @ED but I know what he'll do with HOTTIE ASS...
Six theme answers and the LONDON reveal!!! Fun fun puzzle.
Now I'm off to check up on "Curiosity."
Thanks Ms Lempel.

John V 7:23 AM  

Did nothing for me. Reveal was weak; PRICEDIVE is made up. Ms. Lempel has done so much better. Sorry for the cranky pants.

Liz Glass 7:52 AM  

@JohnV-I totally agree.

Z 8:01 AM  

An Olympics theme and no USAIN BOLT?

A fine Monday morning diversion in my book. One RRN hiding in a theater, otherwise a relatively drek free experience.

I think the HOTTIE ASS and ABS is a bonus theme reference to Beach Volleyball. I look just like them when I'm on the beach.

orangeblossomspecial 8:11 AM  

Shucks, if the kids consider Rex too old, they haven't seen nothing' yet. Here's 14A "Ballad of DAVY CROCKETT".

Q25 8:14 AM  

Are Jenny and Liz actually Rex's BFFs or is this supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek running joke?

Loren Muse Smith 8:15 AM  

Great puzzle, (@John V and Liz – À chacun son COO?) though the only featured Olympic event I’ve caught on TV is DIVE. I read yesterday about that guy from Niger who ROWed in LONDON with only three months of experience. What a story!

SEVER always looks wrong to me even though lever looks fine.

I liked the SWINE/SNIFFS OUT cross and wanted “truffle” somewhere in the grid. Hey, but at least SWINE has ENRON, CON, CRUEL, HATE, and SINNER.

The NW, with its crosses of MACHO, HOTTIE, and MESS reminds me of the year I spent one afternoon in the company of the high school’s resident “it guy,” complete with the requisite six pack ABS and great, um, well what ABS crosses today. Talk about boring!! I won’t mention his name, though I’ll be supremely snobby and smug, sniffing as I type that there’s no way he reads this blog. (Come on – let’s all quietly agree it’s lonely at the top, right?) After the epiphany that the HOTTIEs are probably not very interesting, I embraced my inner NERD and never looked back.

Sue McC 8:17 AM  

Perhaps at the time the puzzle was submitted, the LONDON clue seemed somewhat fresh, but in the middle of the games and hearing London mentioned dozens of times a day, the theme,clue, and puzzle comes off as a bit flat. That said, I finished with no corrections, which doesn't often happen...mostly because of fat-fingering Across Lite on the iPad.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Only one cluing nit piick....60D "read carefully" = scan??

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

Misspelling Ripken? Twice? Are you sure you're from Baltimore? Prove it.

Noah Webster 8:45 AM  

verb \ˈskan\
Definition of SCAN
transitive verb
: to read or mark so as to show metrical structure (scan poetry)
: to examine by point-by-point observation or checking: a : to investigate thoroughly by checking point by point and often repeatedly (a fire lookout scanning the hills with binoculars) b : to glance from point to point of often hastily, casually, or in search of a particular item (scan the want ads looking for a job)
a : to examine systematically (as by passing a beam of radiation over or through) in order to obtain data especially for display or storage (scanned the patient's heart) (radar scans the horizon) (scan the photos into the computer) b : to pass over in the formation of an image (the electron beam scans the picture tube)
intransitive verb
: to scan verse
: to conform to a metrical pattern (this poem scans well)

Bob Kerfuffle 8:50 AM  

@Gill I. P. - I believe someone noted recently that foodie gave up on this blog (possibly due to the surfeit of snark?) and now comments on Crossword Fiend under the name Hoda.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

This wasn't about the Olympics in general, it was about Soccer at the Olympics, Brazil in particular.
RUN, SHOOT, BOX(out), DIVE(get yet another yellow card for diving), biCYCLE Kick, amassing in a ROW to form the WALL on a free kick. Yup, all about soccer.

Maybe I feel that way because watching the Olympic Soccer channel 24x7, even Brazil vs Honduras for the third time is better than watching the over produced NBC prime time fare, with the fifteenth recap of the '96 Olympics.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:55 AM  

(Or maybe Huda. Sorry about that mistake.)

jackj 8:57 AM  

It was a rather awkward reveal, using the locale of LONDON as the hint. The way these hints usually work, Monday level solvers will be scratching their heads wondering about “LONDON SHOOT” or is it “SHOOT LONDON” or what, thinking the hint attaches to the ends of the starred clues, until there is a realization that the word isn’t used per se it’s only used as an Olympics reminder and if you change the ends of the starred clues from nouns to verbs, you’ll have the correct theme answers.

Not very exciting, that, but there was the non-theme coupling at the Northwestern area’s “H”, by MACHO and HOTTIE that promised to send sparks flying around the grid.

This one might be remembered as “The little tribute puzzle that couldn’t”.

But, with Liz and Jenny blogging today, we are once again treated to “The spunky tag-team that could”.

joho 8:57 AM  

@Gill I.P., I'd love to write a story but I'm too jetlagged to think straight. Which is exactly why I liked this super easy Monday puzzle. I love the Olympics so I enjoyed the timely theme as well.

@loren muse smith, yes, SNIFFSOUT crossing SWINE brings to mind truffles! But when I saw SWINE I thought flu and ACHE and how I'd like to GETOVER it. I like the truffles aspect better!

I have to admit that PRICEDIVE doesn't ring a bell. PRICEdrop is a more familiar phrase to me, but just because I haven't heard it doesn't mean it isn't a real thing.
My favorite theme answer was CRAPSHOOT.

Thanks, Lynn, seeing your name at the top on a Monday is always welcome.

Thanks also to Liz and Jen for a light and breezy write up.

Liz Glass 9:01 AM  

Who misspelled Ripken? ;)

Milford 9:16 AM  

I have a diver daughter and a triathlete husband, so I liked the athletic theme, with the anatomy and biology clues woven around them - DNA, GALEN, CALORIE, ABS, KNEE, and especially REDCELL - as it crosses both BANKRUN and LIFECYCLE.
Having the aforementioned tri husband, I have been conditioned to think that IM (52D) should be IronMan.

chefbea 9:17 AM  

Great puzzle!!! Love watching the olympics...those gymnasts...unbelievable.

Great write up!!

We need lots of ices here...sooo hot. Or ice cream on our pie. Can also put some on belinis....but then don't count your calories.

Ansel Calorie Messes 9:29 AM  

Been gone, so it may have been mentioned already...
Gabby DOUGLAS: Anagrams to USA GOLD!

(still in MN at our own Scrabble Olympics!)

Jealous as I don't think I'd have gotten away with GALEN and a couple of other words on a Monday...but six themes is a lot!
Cool, LL!

quilter1 9:35 AM  

Yes, super easy Monday and I appreciated an Olympics theme, but overall, as I SCANned the clues while printing it out my first impression was that this was an example puzzle from Crosswords for Dummies. Only Jane Eyre was missing.

Three Iowans competing at top levels, including an archer, Lolo Jones (who went to my high school) and our Iowa transplant, Gabby Douglas. Go girls!

efrex 10:00 AM  

Even with the relatively weak reveal, I'm giving at least a silver medal to Ms. Lempel for this one. I threw in PRICEDIVE with only a few crosses, so it must be somewhere in my vocabulary, even though I can't think of a situation where I'd use it. Everything else is very much in the language, and the fill is pretty rock solid all around.

Liz & Jenny: Aida is your fave musical? Holy moly, somebody get these gals some Sondheim scores, stat... Even with Adam Pascal and Hether Headley, whom I loved in their breakout shows (Rent and Lion King, respectively), I couldn't sit through that overproduced monstrosity... Oh, well, no accounting for taste... :)

Carola 10:03 AM  

AVE, O GALEN! I'm seeing a Latin mini-theme here, as LONDON was founded by the Romans, who built many a CASA as Londinium grew to become the capital of Roman Britain. There's also the Latin ANTE as well as (the sadly misspelled) ESSe, ANIMa, and DIVa, referring here, no doubt, to the magnificent Leontyne PRICE.

A fun puzzle that was over TOO FAST.

Jenny and Liz, a medal-worthy write-up for sure!

Tita 10:11 AM  

Less-than-enthusiastic, but still liked this.
Like ALLABOARD, TOOFAST, Gas in a DINER sign, Two trios plus one was a new way to clue...

@LMS - thanks for your puzzle observations (someone's gotta do it...), love your high school story and your lesson learned... ;)

JFC 10:16 AM  

Tend to agree with @John V et al. The puzzle lacked LL's usual sizzle. Was like watching NBC's coverage of the Olympics on tape delay - no surprises....


Two Ponies 10:20 AM  

I usually scan the clues to see if something jumps out at me.
Today it was the DINER gas and my first thought was BEANS!
Price dive is bogus but the rest was just fine.

Rookie 11:06 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith

Thank you for the great chuckle at "A chacun son COO."

Still smiling and envying a mind that could come up with that!

As for the BFFs ... Loved the write-up. You, too, made me laugh more than once.

Great start to the day.

DBGeezer 11:22 AM  

My first thought for gas in a diner was F**T

Lewis 11:53 AM  

Standard Monday fare: light and bright. Thank you LL.

Rex, get back to work! It's been too long...

Tita 12:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
hazel 12:13 PM  

Not a wowzer for me - but do love the fact that there is a tribute to the Olympics - which, as uplifting as it is for me to watch these athletes compete at their highest level - it freaking pales in comparison to the landing of Curiosity on Mars!! Unbelievable!! Ok apples and oranges, but still. Because the oscar Pistorius story is pretty compelling too.
Good will all around.

jberg 12:51 PM  

I liked the way the theme answers all involved verbs - what athletes do (bowl, etc.) rather than the name of the sport. But that leaves out a lot of sports - I mean, what's the very for dressage, or rhythmic gymnastics?

Other than that, a nice easy Monday, and a sparkling writeup.

But what do others think? Is this story about a second vacation for Rex believable? Or has he been abducted by wannabe bloggers?

Bird 1:29 PM  

Another enjoyable commentary from Rex’s BFFs. And a very easy Monday from Lynn.

PRICE DIVE is a new phrase for me. Is it a phrase? IN THE SWIM, clued as “Something trendy” would have been much better. Or is it too archaic?

Don’t tell Bill Gates (see 70A) that he is not cool.

@jackj – I had similar thoughts: SHOOT LONDON?

Clueless in Texas 1:35 PM  

Fun write-up, ladies. Thank you.

Easy puzzle. (But why wasn't in last Monday's paper? Seemed a little late given we are in week two of the games.) Thankful it required little mental effort as I woke my son to watch the Curiosity landing this morning (which was awesome!), so I am very tired. But my son has no memory of it! He thinks it was a dream and that I forgot to wake him! So glad I taped him watching it!

Congratulations, NASA! You are absolutely brilliant!


JFC 2:02 PM  

Not sure why I thought of this but I recall the days when I took sugar with my coffee. Some sugar made it taste sweeter but too much ruined it....


Tita 2:13 PM  

BTW, a few of you have thanked me / complimented me on the Lolla pics - while they are in fact on my blog, it was Bob Kerfuffle who was the zealous and enthusiastic photographer... I am merely the publisher...

And alas, that also explains why there are no pictures of him! You'll have to check the pics on my ACPT page, where I did have the presence of mind to use his own camera to get a few shots of him... thanks again, Mr. K.

(Repost after seeing pretty terrible typos...)

Tita 3:04 PM  

On topic, since it's a London Olympics theme...
Just watching the Team Jumping at lunch... Does anyone else think the course is idiotic? Looks like a mini-golf course, with lighthouses, little Tower Bridges, and those unimaginative cutouts of riders jumping...

Hats off to the 62 year old Canadian rider... (Whose horse was teh only one I noticed that didn't have CORNROWs!

jae 3:09 PM  

Seemed about right for a Mon. Easy and smooth. I'm I the only one who had NOVA at first?

Great write-up again BFFs. Is Rex going to have you contiune to do Monday's???

Horsey Guy 3:39 PM  

@Tita - It's customary to have the jumps and the jump standards reflective of the host nation. So yeah, you've got Big Ben the Tower(not Big Ben the horse, who famously was ridden by Ian Millar, your 62yo Canadian), the London Bridge, etc.

retired_chemist 4:01 PM  

Very easy. Did it as fast as I could type(almost). Weak reveal indeed. Atypically, the reveal is contained in the clue and the answer is irrelevant to the reveal. Not gruntling. In fact, nothing about this puzzle is memorable IMO.

@LMS - your "it guy" had a great BANK RUN?

sanfranman59 4:41 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, 6:49, 0.93, 22%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:48, 3:41, 1.03, 68%, Medium-Challenging

PIX 4:44 PM  

Sorry Rex but on Mondays your blog is just silly...please come back.

Tita 5:09 PM  

@Horsey Guy - thanks - I did not know that.
However, I still maintain that the course looks like a tacky mini-golf place!

[...sigh...] Good taste is experiencing its fastest decline ever, having been pushed off the cliff by Dancing with the Stars costume designer.

Maybe I'll offer up my services in Rio - after all, falo Português.
Actually, think about that - if they have the Samba costume designers do all the work, we'll all be in for a big treat!

4 & out

Bird 5:21 PM  

@retired chemist, re: your response to @LMS - No, he had a very nice SWINE. You know - as a pet.

Z 6:23 PM  

@jberg - The verb for rhythmic gymnastics? Probably not appropriate for the Grey Lady. And @Tita may have had some good taste objections.

Anonymous 6:44 PM  

I liked this puzzle because I finished it in exactly 10 minutes on the nose, according to my iPad. Since I love round numbers, what more could I ask for?

ANON B 7:11 PM  


When I saw your phrase "falo
Portuguese" I figured it meant
"I speak Portugese" but I looked
up"falo" and it had an entirely
different, unprintable meaning.
But on a hunch,I looked up the
entire phrase and, sure enough,
in that context it does mean
"I speak". Whew!

Tita 9:39 PM  

@ANON B... sakes alive! Or should I say snakes alive...

@Z - my plaint was regarding lack of taste in design and decor... The creative verb for rhythmic gymnastics? Hey - I worked at Wang Labs for 6 years - my salacious sense of humor is quite well-developed, thank you very much!
Let's never confuse tackiness with ribaldness!

(So very verbose today - pardon me...)

sanfranman59 10:01 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 6:20, 6:49, 0.96, 22%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:41, 0.99, 46%, Medium

Anonymous 10:02 PM  

Is Rex nearly done with his 28 days in rehab?

Noam D. Elkies 10:09 PM  

Don't so quickly dismiss olympic-level ping pong (table tennis, if you insist) — it's practically a different game from what we play in the basement rec room. Equestrian is a strange beast (for one thing isn't most of the athleticism being shown by the horse?), but it does fit in with running, javelin, combat sports, and maybe swimming as military training.

Amelia 11:21 PM  

I love a nice easy Monday puzzle. It makes me feel good. Efrex-- something you wrote caught my eye. I host a black gospel radio show and one of my favorite songs is People Get Ready by Al Green and Heather H. But I'd never heard of her! So on a crossword puzzle blog I learn she's an opera singer or singer in a musical? Elton's Aida and The Lion King? Wow!!

retired_chemist 12:01 AM  

@ Tita - I never realized the potential salaciousness of the Wang calculator until now. Perhaps I might have, had they come out while I was in college or graduate school. Alas, I was a year out of grad school when they were introduced.

I suppose, in realizing it now, I am regressing toward adolescence. The Curious Case of Retired Chemist....

Dirigonzo 4:37 PM  

From syndiland: @Noah Webster's definition notwithstanding, I still think SCAN means glance over quickly (as it was used in a few of today's comments) rather that Read carefully especially for a Monday puzzle. And that complaint notwithstanding, I always love Lynn Lempel's offerings and this one was no exception. I needed all of the crosses to produce GALEN. Tip o' the hat to Canadian solvers with Petrol brand>ESSO at 59a.

DMGrandma 5:36 PM  

Nothing much to say about this puzzle. Except for the easily gotten PRICEDIVE, everything was a gimme. Out here in Syndiland the Olympics are a memory, so no connection there. For us it's U S Open time,and Murray and Djokavic are battling for the glory as I write. Maybe we'll get a tennis puzzle in in six weeks when the real-time guys are solving Halloween clues?

Ginger 5:49 PM  

Not much to add, fun, easy puzzle, and a nice way to start a Monday. Picked up my new computer yesterday. Good news; my techie friend was able to retrieve my data. Whew! It's Windows 7, which I'm getting used to, and I think I'm going to like.

Ginger 5:56 PM  

@DMGrandma, The US Open has run over into a Monday, Again. It's been a sparkling 2 weeks. Murray, Djokovic and the wind are putting on quite a show, but my favs didn't make the finals.

DMGrandma 6:48 PM  

@Ginger. I'm with you on my favorites not reaching the finals! Beginning to think that my rooting for them is a hex. At least they are saying that next year there will be an extra day scheduled in the finals time period, so weather or no, so the big game can be on the week-end.

Spacecraft 9:13 PM  

PRICEDIVE? I'll go with dip, or drop, but dive? Nah, doesn't work. The others, OK. I didn't quite get the point of the reveal: The theme (if you make participles out of the end theme words) is Olympic sports--but then ya turn around and clue LONDON as: duh! the site of the 2012 Olympics! You can't clue the reveal word with a reveal clue! What were you thinking?

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