Fashion designer Perry / MON 11-12-12 / Helen of Troy's mother / Rombauer who wrote Joy of Cooking / Scat queen Fitzgerald / 1980s actor with mohawk / exclamation in Frankenstein / One-named New Age singer

Monday, November 12, 2012

Constructor: Randall J. Hartman

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: KROOZ — theme answers all end with KROOZ homophones

Theme answers:
  • 17A: City with a boardwalk on Monterey Bay (SANTA CRUZ)
  • 27A: General Motors sedan (CHEVROLET CRUZE)
  • 49A: Vacation on the Caribbean, maybe (CARNIVAL CRUISE)
  • 65A: Chain gangs, e.g. (WORK CREWS)

Word of the Day: "Beau GESTE" (54A: "Beau ___") —
Beau Geste is a 1924 adventure novel by P. C. Wren. It has been adapted for the screen several times. (wikipedia)
• • •

Just back from a student-faculty potluck dinner, so I am chock full of an alarmingly random assortment of food. Surprisingly, I feel fine. It's weird to be in a place where most people still know me only as "that medievalist we hired a while back" (if they know me at all). Crosswords didn't come up once. The student who invited me was delightful and amongst all the adequate food I was able to score a quinoa & fall vegetables salad that was clearly made by someone who knew what she was doing. Delicious. Someone just bought a grocery store pumpkin pie and it was just sitting there on the dessert table, still in its plastic container. I was happy to see that it was still there, intact and untouched, two hours later. My daughter's ginger snaps, on the other hand, were mostly gone. The president of the university spoke briefly. Mostly platitudes, but that's sort of his job. The real hero of the night was Al Vos, faculty master of Hinman College, who is a hero and a saint. I've never met anyone who has such unfeigned enthusiasm for teaching and advising undergraduates. Humbling and inspiring—qualities I too rarely associate with academics.

Then I came home and there was a puzzle. I've often (or at least occasionally) wondered why CRUZE doesn't appear more frequently in the puzzle. I remember thinking, the first year Chevy started making that model, "well that's going to get some airplay." But you really don't see it that often. I think today's puzzle was the reason the CRUZE was invented—so someone could pull off this theme. Really wouldn't be the same with just the three, although you could do interesting things with the other theme answers if you made them all names: HARRY CREWS (author), VICTOR CRUZ (football player), PABLO CRUISE (70s recording artist) ... Anyway, this seems a fine theme. Really puts that "Z" in CRUZ to good use with the double-Z DAZZLE cross. Also, this puzzle has CLAPTRAP (10D: Mumbo-jumbo), which is never not a good answer. Much better than ROT or BOSH or NONSENSE or even PSHAW (a word my mom used to like to say, and we used to like to mock her for). My wife has never seen or heard the expression ALL WET before (50D: Completely wrong); I don't know how I know it except maybe from 50s-60s sitcoms (?). It's definitely a bygone idiomatic phrase. Puzzle's kind of heavy on the four-letter lady names today: IRMA *and* EDNA? (37A: Rombauer who wrote "Joy of Cooking" / 69A: Poet ___ St. Vincent Millay)You so rarely see them in the same room together. Throw in ENYA and LEDA and LENA and ELLA and ... well, that's six four-letter ladies. Plus Little EVA. And MR. T. Now I'm just listing names. I'll stop.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Alamo Claptrap Michaels 12:37 AM  

loved it! Cruised right thru! Fun and perfect!

All those Zs and Xs, I was DAZZLEd.

Evan 1:35 AM  

Interesting that you went with PABLO CRUISE instead of TOM CRUISE in your suggestions, Rex. Does he not DAZZLE you as much? Even if it's the bizarre, creepy kind of dazzling?

I know of other Chevy models, but I can't say I've ever heard of the CRUZE. I'm not much of a car guy to begin with, but I can usually say I've at least heard of most makes and models in this country. Not so with that one. I think it was invented so that the first guy who drove recklessly in one could say that he was Cruze-in' for a Bruisin'.

I hang my head in shame that my immediate answer for 47-Down was MEDIA and not MUSIC. I could have sworn I grew up in the heyday of MTV. I fixed it soon enough, but still. Shame.

jae 2:08 AM  

Nice easy Mon. with very little dreck. Liked it. @Evan, me too for "never heard of the Chevy CRUZE." And I thought I was pretty well up on car models. After all, it's one of the requirements for doing crosswords.

Anonymous 3:44 AM  

What about PENELOPECRUZ? Tom's beard for a year or so.

Noam D. Elkies 3:58 AM  

CLAPTRAP is fine, but my favorite is BOSH because it suggests (and is pretty much the same as) BS but is an
entirely G-rated and even somewhat classy word.

Flowerblogger 5:40 AM  

"All Wet"comes from an Italian expression, still used a lot, at least in NYC and Long Island Italian families. in Italian the words are "tutta benyata". not sure about the spelling of the second word. My husband's family uses this all the time.


Oscar 6:21 AM  

Here are a few version that used only 3 theme answers. Adding a car that nobody's heard of doesn't add much.

Milford 6:57 AM  

Mostly EASY Monday. Had the same thought that this theme only really exists thanks to the car. Had to look up a picture of the CRUZE to remember what it looks like. I guess it's a very nice version of my first car, a Chevette.

Beyond grateful that Tom did not show up in this puzzle.

Also noticed the EDNA and IRMA, and also included ETNA, although I don't think that is a proper girls name as well. No other really exciting fill, other than maybe DAZZLE/PEZ crossing.

I love a good potluck. I find it really interesting to see what other people will make. When I was a kid, someone always made deviled eggs. It was jarring when I got married and changed my name from an S to an L and had to start bringing a side dish instead of a dessert.

Z 7:12 AM  

@Oscar - a quarter million or so in sales in 2011 is hardly "nobody."

I had a hard time getting going this morning, so more medium (for a Monday) for me.

ORAL testimony? Testimony or written testimony, but I would never use the phrase "ORAL testimony."

dk 7:47 AM  

My compass is off. Had serb not SLAV and wondered why Eleis was misspelled. These are times that try...

⛄⛄ (2 Snowmen) Fine Monday

As I recall a CARNIVALCRUISE sometimes results in one meeting FIRECREWS. Speaking of fires.

As winter settles in I remind all to carry three ways to start a fire, a food bar of some type, water, space blanket, candle and some basic first aid supplies in your car. Also bring dryer lint to use to start a fire. When stranded see if you can start your spare tire (that you have deflated) on fire (slightly down wind from you and your car). Then get in your car, light candle if needed (amazing how warming a candle can be. The smoke and smell from the burning tire should bring help. And, it gives you something to watch.

Most rescues (good) occur when one stays with ones car. Most recoveries (bad) occur when one does not.

d (Mark Trail) k

John V 7:51 AM  

Again from C38 LGA, maybe for the last time.

Easy, fun, cruised right through, even though not knowing Chevrolet car.

joho 8:35 AM  

This is a perfect Monday puZZle with lots of piZZaZZ. I was impressed that Randall was able to come up with four homophones for CRUZ, CRUZE, CRUISE, CREWS. Fun!

Tita 8:37 AM  

A fine puzzle. Found it easy.

I like the word OXEN, as it is one of the very few (7?) words in English which forms the plural with an N. Another is brethren (arch.)

I don't like misspelled product names. Don't like Lite, kreme, or creme, Klassic Kar Repair, or Chevy Cruzes... Gimme a vapid made-up name any day over one of these.

I know there are lots of learned ADMEN who have fabulous reasons for so doing, but I still think it's tacky.

@Evan - still laughing from you ice fishing for COD yesterday and the comments it elicited.

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

I found the puzzle harder and more interesting than the usual Monday. General Motors would not be pleased by all the Cruze comments. It was heavily advertised when it firs appeared and there's one parked in my garage. It's a cute little car with lots of bells and whistles.

Glimmerglass 8:53 AM  

Can grand cru ever be a plural?

Unknown 8:53 AM  

Quick, fun Monday. I don't know why, but it's always fun to see multiple ZZZs. And I enjoyed popping in the brand CHEVROLET.

chefbea 8:57 AM  

Easy Monday puzzle. Lots of Chevy Cruzes here in Wilmington so that was easy for me.

Lojman 9:18 AM  

No discussion of all things KROOZ is complete without this Ben Stiller masterpiece:


Bob Kerfuffle 9:40 AM  

Big relief to read all the above and see that I am not the only one who never heard of the CHEVROLET CRUZE.

@Tita - What would your children (archly?) think?

jackj 9:58 AM  

Randall Hartman plays host of another edition of that popular constructor’s game,
Homophones “R” Us and we easily learn that today’s flexi-word is pronounced “kruz”, as in CRUZ, CRUZE, CRUISE and CREWS.

That’s it and while it isn’t the most thrilling of themes, it is easily understandable and, maybe, fun, particularly for the newbies among us.

It was a bit surprising that Randall kicked off his theme with CRUZ but then bypassed Penelope (Oscar winning actress), Victor (NY Giants football star) or Ted (new US Senator from Texas) in favor of SANTA CRUZ (translated, Holy Cross). Blessed be.

The fill for the puzzle is routine Monday level with a few nice exceptions, CLAPTRAP, ATNOTIME, ALLWET and ASA (as the partial in the fun clue of “Thick____brick”).

And, on the flip side of the puzzle, the two entries that are negatives and somewhat grating to my ear are the “too obscure for a Monday”, ORYX and the “too awkward for any day”, HIRESON (though admittedly it’s certainly in active use).

This is Randy’s 32nd Monday puzzle for the Times; one of the small select group who regularly meet the challenge of turning out this most difficult level of puzzle.

Carola 10:02 AM  

A slow Monday for me, but that gave me more time to enjoy it. Much to like and nothing to SEETHE over.

I think ALL WET is from the ERA when the opposite of "all wet" was "swell."

@Flowerblogger - I'm learning Italian, so it was fun to learn the Italian connection. I believe the spelling would be "bagnata."

quilter1 10:08 AM  

I, too, have never heard of the Chevy Cruze but I will argue that ALL WET is not bygone. Again, a matter of where you live and who you talk with. A smooth solve with fresh clues/answers. Usually I don't like a lot of names but today they were OK. Liked thick ASA brick, too. On to housework and BEQ for lunch.

Tita 10:23 AM  

Hah - @Bob K - indeed, I sent the children out to milk the kine, but the men and women scolded me.

Not sure if men & women count - they already end in "n", and the plural actually forms with the typical German style of a vowel change.

Maybe @Loren or @Ulrich can chime in.

In the right circumstances 10:25 AM  


"Barkeep,send a couple of your best Grand Crus to dem broads over there"

Evan 10:32 AM  


It's probably obvious by now, but I don't know jack about ice fishing. I just assumed you could catch cod while doing it because some guy claims to have caught one in Etne, Norway, which I'm shocked hasn't become the crossword puzzle capital of the world. Thanks to that YouTube video, I now know more about ice fishing in Norway than I do the Chevy Cruze.

As for your statement on few pluralized words ending in N, @Bob Kerfuffle mentioned Children. There's also Men and Women. Plus all the jobs that come with being one or the other (firemen, yes-men, policewomen, etc).

jberg 10:33 AM  

I guess there's no way to make Motley Crue plural, and anyway it's the wrong length. Nice breezy puzzle, but I was held up far too long because I had SEE red before SEETHE, and therefor figured it must have been Little DEE. That clearly didn't work with CARNIVAL, but I was stumped for a while - can't remember how I got out.

Other than that, lots of fun - but unsettling to realize that MR T was a figure of the 1980s, when I was already too old to enjoy that sort of thing!

Rookie 10:43 AM  

re: "grands crus." The S on the end would be silent, as is true for most French plurals; therefore, it would not work as a homophone for CRUZ, etc.

MFSINAZ 10:45 AM  

Surprised to see that noone has commented that the late Ms Bombeck's name was spelled E-R-M-A and I-R-M-A. I'm very particular about a person's name and think it should be spelled correctly as a matter of respect. Odd that the NYT crossword would choose an alternate spelling without identifying as such. JMHO.

jackj 10:59 AM  

MFSINAZ- Read the clue again, it is asking for the first name of cookbook author IRMA Rombauer.

Of course ERMA is correct for Ms. Bombeck but, for a change, she isn't the one the puzzle is looking for.

Loren Muse Smith 11:15 AM  

I AGREE that this was a good Monday. Loved the three Z's, two X's, CLAPTRAP, DAZZLE, and ALL WET.

@Tita - as much as I enjoy thinking about plurals, and I'm not kidding, I haven't thought of the "n" plurals, which I gather are almost none. I just read that "sistern" was sometimes considered a plural of "sister?"

At Georgia Southern, I overheard a guy from Claxton, Ga explaining to an Austrian exchange student that "A MOUSE is the big, brown kind. A MICE is the little white kind."

I leave you with a poem on the craziness of our plural system:

Now if mouse in the plural should be, and is, mice,
Then house in the plural, of course, should be hice,
And grouse should be grice and spouse should be spice
And by the same token should blouse become blice.

And consider the goose with its plural of geese;
Then a double caboose should be called a cabeese,
And noose should be neese and moose should be meese
And if mama's papoose should be twins, it's papeese.

Then if one thing is that, while some more is called those,
Then more than one hat, I assume, would be hose,
And gnat would be gnose and pat would be pose,
And likewise the plural of rat would be rose.

mac 11:51 AM  

Easy medium for me as well, with my eternal problem with carnaval/carnival.

Nice reading this morning, the write-up and the comments! Thanks all.

joho 12:16 PM  

@loren muse smith ... "A MOUSE is the big, brown kind. A MICE is the little white kind." LOL

Plus the poem on plurals is wonderful, too!

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

It was okay. Junk fill was okay, though a good bit of it for the so-so theme.

The only thing I really took note of was CRUZE. Figured it had to be right, but add me to the 'never heard of it' list. Wikipedia says that the CRUZE has been made for quite a while in various countries; second or third year in the US. Googled it and it looks like any other car to me.

John V 12:39 PM  

So, am I to understand that CLAPTRAP is not a house of ill repute?

chefbea 1:19 PM  

@Loren...great poem!!!

Anoa Bob 1:20 PM  

This could be the template for an ideal Monday puzzle, one that recruits noobies into the crosswordom fold. Solid, gettable theme, some scrabbly razzle-DAZZLE, and a minimum of CLAPTRAP.

Homophones of CRUISE/CREWS/etc. has proven to be a durable theme in the WS NYT era, this being its fourth iteration I believe.

If memory serves me correctly, the other three used PENÉLOPE CRUZ, which sounded off to my ear, as CRUZ in Spanish rhymes more with "noose' than "news". Mr. Hartman deftly skirts this issue by using the Anglicized, U.S. city version of CRUZ.

Bird 1:34 PM  

This started out great with answers going in with relative ease. Then I got that Natick in the SE corner. Two relatively unknown proper nouns crossing on a Monday?! Who does that? I didn’t think I would finish as I couldn’t remember that LEDA was Helen’s mom and I had OWES at 62D meaning that this poet’s first name is E*EA. Too many possibilities. Then I re-read the clue for 62D and all worked out. Now I can breathe. And now I can say I liked this puzzle.

Only write-over was SIMMER before SEETHE.

Do they play any MUSIC on MTV anymore?

Dick Clark 2:28 PM  

@jberg - You say, "I guess there's no way to make Motley Crue plural". But I was just at a huge convention of cover/impersonator bands in Las Vegas. The organizer started by saying, "OK, all Led Zeppelins in that corner. All Metallicas over there. Let's have all the Motley Crues in the other corner. And all you Elvises will have to wait outside."

And @Rookie, @in the right circumstances is correct. The guy who says "Barkeep, send a couple of your best Grand Crus to dem broads over there" definitely will pronounce the "S".

Anything can be made a plural in English!

Sfingi 2:56 PM  

Didn't notice the theme. Didn't get TEXT (TESt?), but of course, it's still not part of my world. I imagined to Bell Telephone guys communicating while trying to fix one's land line. Which is what we used to call "telephones."

Of course, most irregular words are from German, where the umlaut is one reason for vowel change.

treedweller 5:15 PM  

I strenuously object to the clue for MUSIC. MTV has not been about music for years, and I think the network even officially declaimed that association (well, a little wiki searching suggests not, but they should have). I contend that the M now stands for Meh. But, then, I don't really enjoy shows that are little more than a parade of ugly personalities. I wouldn't object if the clue added " . . . , once".

Otherwise, a fine puzzle for a Monday.

sanfranman59 10:02 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 6:17, 6:46, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:41, 1.01, 62%, Medium-Challenging

The ratings are Medium-Challenging in both groups when using just the previous 12 weeks to calculate the day-of-the-week average.

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Spacecraft 11:42 AM  

Re IRMA: a rather obscure clue for a Monday. Either "My Friend____" or "____la Douce" would be more Mondayish--but as the barkeep in the latter would say, "That's another story."

A nice little confection to kick off the week, with a minimum of CLAPTRAP. Man, IT'S been a while since I've heard that one.

As to CARNIVAL--or any--CRUISE: go at least once before you die. Take out a second mortgage if you have to, but don't miss out on this experience. You won't regret it.

Good to see Chick COREA get a rare shout-out. If you're ever in Vegas, check out the to-die-for ribs at ELLIS Island (on Koval off Flamingo). They're served in the microbrewery starting at 4 (get there by 3) so no kids.

Vivian 1:23 PM  

@Spacecraft, I easily recognized IRMA Rombauer but wouldn't have known either of your other two suggestions --

I'm a non-expert solver (usually Wednesday is as far as I go) but found this one slightly easier than usual - although I haven't heard of the CRUZE either.

I liked it.

DMGrandma 2:18 PM  

A nice puzzle to start the week. Enjoyed the cruise variations, even is CRUZE seemed wacky. Only pause was starting with dOcKCREWS, but quickly realized it made no sense.

Am I the only one who had trouble finding today's write-up? Hitting my usual RP icon gave me only the real today's puzzle in some sort of short form (with white background, not the usual yellow)and no way to address the Syndi version. Shopped all over Google, and FINALLY found a site that let me page through the entire month to the one I needed. I hope this is just a glitch, and not a new format, because it really isn't fun.

Dirigonzo 6:12 PM  

PP flew (or CRUISED, I guess) solo on this one and stumbled only in the SE (appropriately enough) where she tried rOadCREWS for Chain gangs at first.

@DMGrandma - The syndicated puzzle button worked fine for me, but when it doesn't I go to the puzzle archive on the right side of the blog and click on the date of the one I want to read - no Googling required.

Abhishehk Kochhar 8:33 AM  

I strenuously protest the sign for MUSIC. MTV has not been about music for a long time, and I suppose the system even authoritatively declaimed that affiliation (well, a little wiki seeking proposes not, however they may as well have). I fight that the M now stands for Meh. Anyway, then, I don't truly like shows that are small more than a parade of appalling temperament. I wouldn't protest if the intimation included " . . . , once".

Pakistani Dresses 10:04 AM  

I love these dresses. Fashion is not about dresses only, Fashion is you have to look charming and give new trend to all generation.

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