Hockey great Cam / WED 11-7-12 / Arctic explorer John / Glacial ridges / Archangel of Apocrypha / Superboy's sweetie /

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Constructor: George Fitzgerald and Nancy Salomon

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: THE BLUES (58A: Something to sing ... or a hint to 17-, 23-, 31-, 40- and 45-Across's starts) — theme answers all start with words that are also varieties of blue:

  • BABY TALK (17A: Nonsensical syllables, maybe)
  • ROYAL FLUSH (23A: Unbeatable hand)
  • NAVY SEALS (31A: Elite military group)
  • SKY DIVING (40A: Sport for high jumpers?)
  • STEEL DRUMS (45A: Some Caribbean percussion)

Word of the Day: SHIELD LAW (35D: Statute that protects journalists' sources) —
A law that protects journalists from being compelled to reveal confidential sources of information.

Read more:
• • •

I've somehow managed to avoid all election coverage tonight, and so as of now (10:15 pm EST), I have no idea what's going on election-wise. I figure the results can wait til morning. I have a SMA cold and really need my sleep, and I have a feeling that election hysteria will screw up my plans to conk out before midnight. I doubt I'll remember this puzzle by morning my time, but it wasn't bad. Very straightforward, reasonably solid, inoffensive. Competent. I don't quite understand the grid construction, which really forces ESKERS (and thus the horrible Scottish twins SMA and GIE) on you (33D: Glacial ridges). Seems like the theme answers could have been rearranged in a way that prevented running any Downs through three theme answers—they're short enough that two of them could've been made to run Down. But whatever—the current arrangement isn't a disaster, and the fill is only ugh-ish in patches.

This was possibly my fastest Wednesday ever. I nearly broke 3. I rarely break 3 on Tuesdays, let alone Wednesdays. This tells me that it was easy and/or filled with words that live right at the top of the constant solver's bag of tricks. Clue for SAAB, for instance, is one I've seen a million times (1A: Automaker with the slogan "Born from Jets"). "Recess" always signals APSE first. Etc. I think SHIELD LAW is the most interesting answer in the grid by far. A term that surprised me not because I didn't know it, but because it had been so long since I'd seen or thought about it. I also liked SIDEARM (40D: Pistol, for one) probably because I'm currently reading George V. Higgins's The Friends of Eddie Coyle, a truly great '70s crime novel that is all about gun traffic. Some of the best dialogue writing I've ever read. Highly recommended.

  • 14A: Israel's first representative to the United Nations (ABBA EBAN) — one of Crossworld's most enduring public figures. A first/last name double threat. A good example of how this puzzle played to constant solvers.
  • 20A: Reynolds who sang "Tammy" (DEBBIE) — I don't know her as a recording artist. Just as the girl from Singing in the Rain, Albert Brooks's mother in Mother, and Carrie Fisher's mom.
  • 10D: Archangel of the Apocrypha (URIEL) — he's right next to ARIEL in my crossword arsenal. Not a terribly common answer, but common enough.
  • 51D: Hockey great Cam (NEELY) — I know this guy as "one of those names I used to hear on ESPN a lot between baseball and football coverage." The sports world's current most famous Cam is Newton, QB for the Carolina Panthers.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:06 AM  

Damn lefty pinko NYTimes pushing, even in their supposedly non-partisan games page, the Blues that I see all ove the electoral map.

There, someone had to do that, inject partisan politics, no?

jae 12:15 AM  

Very easy and not all that zippy...THONG, WALDO, and SIDEARM are about it.   Plus the GES, GIE, RAE span is pretty ugly.  So, not a fan of this one. 

Milford 12:36 AM  

Still awake here!

Liked this BLUESy puzzle, even though I sorta hoped the blues had been listed in order from lighter to darker hues. But all the blue answers were fun phrases, and all completely different things.

Most of this filled quickly, except for the random Scottish. But I DNFed due to my thinking that the appliances were GaS instead of GES. And apparently I never questioned what the heck a NONaT was.

Ellen S 12:53 AM  

Oh, those kind of blues! Good catch, Anonymous!

I was surprised that I only got 23A ROYAL FLUSH off the R in RES (Object in court). So it turns out I haven't been wasting my life by watching Law & Order (that noted police procedural, courtroom DRAMA, good for puzzles and mind-rot, all in one!) Res ipsa loquitur, everyone!

chefwen 1:01 AM  

And I guess why they call it the blues! Wish I knew how to embed. Orangeblossomspecial Help please. Love that song.

Another easy addition to the week. Firearm before SIDEARM and adman before AD REP.

I've had two ROYAL FLUSHes in my gambling career. One on a dollar machine and one on a 50cent machine. Such fun! Made my Vegas jaunts pretty even up money wise, as you can guess, not a high roller here. Worked too hard for my money.

I'm getting pretty darn mad at working too hard on the #$%* capchas.

syndy 1:22 AM  

After the string of election puzzles Wil has assaulted us with this can't be a coincidence!Hard to explain otherwise how this flies as a Wednesday.anyhoo my hockey great is BONNY ORR and only BOBBY ORR-no room for another.

Anoa Bob 3:10 AM  

With ABBA EBAN crossing ABBOT and DEBBIE crossing DABBLES, I thought this puzzle was going to be "A swarm of bees".

Surprised MT ETNA (55A) was clued with no hint of an abbreviation.

In poker lingo an "Unbeatable hand" is called "the nuts". In some types of poker, a ROYAL FLUSH is the nuts, but in others, such as Razz or where there's a wild card, it isn't.

With five themes and a theme-length reveal, you're going to see stuff like SMA, GIE, RAE and the Maleskanesque ESKERS.

Eejit 3:22 AM  

Twas indeed easy. Cam Neely! Never expected to see his name here. I used to hate him, but admired him, a great player. I think his career ended too early due to knee problems or something. I wish the NHL would figure out their problems and play some hockey.

Adrep Carly Mahres 5:12 AM  

IS there a connection between Superboy's love being named LANA and Lois LANe? Is that a coincidence?
I tried Lois, than LArA, thinking NEELY was rEEse...
But ARUBA straightened me out...

Liked the pile up of B's in the NW, as @Anoa BoB has mentioned...
plus I considered BAconbits in my stew!

Loved it!
And ADROIT was an answer on Jeopardy! yesterday, something about this adjective is from the French word for "right".
(Nonspeaking French speakers may insert their complaint here)

Have to agree with @rex that a puzzle should have SMA or GIE but not both, esp with GES lurking to the left and RAE to the right!

(Why can't young "Call Me Maybe" gal Carly ___ Jepsen start appearing in puzzles, or maybe folks think she is a one-hit wonder...tho I've spent many an hour, sad to say, watching different parodies of "Call Me Maybe" including one that has PRESIDENT OBAMA (!!!!!) singing it from a mashup of his speeches!)

Z 6:14 AM  

Solid. Well Constructed. High Theme Density so Scottish is the foreign language de jure. Easy for a Wednesday. I did it in 11 minutes on-line last night, which is just about as fast as I can type.

OTD 7:25 AM  

Way too easy for a Wednesday. Did it in less than 9 minutes on-line, which is about as fast as I've ever done. No hangups anywhere. Didn't even pay attention to the theme, which was kind of nice once I saw it.

jackj 7:48 AM  

“Song sung blue
Every garden grows one.”

A solid effort from George Fitzgerald (his debut), supported by uber mentor Nancy Salomon, (her 116th collaboration), ADROIT(ly) giving us five shades of blue, nicely themed, three of which are official Crayola crayon blues, (NAVY, SKY, STEEL), but all five are surely available as Land’s End cashmere sweater colors.

I couldn’t find anything in the puzzle that hinted at one of my favorite shades of BLUE, International Klein BLUE, a color similar to lapis lazuli/cobalt BLUE and actually patented by avant-garde French artist Yves Klein, who painted countless monochromatic works in this signature color. He is most remembered, perhaps, for covering attractive nude female models with his BLUE paint and dragging or spotting them on large canvases, creating unique shapes that boggle one’s imagination.

Non-theme wordplay was largely clever with such as DAUNTS, GLINDA and SHIELDLAW and a spate of nice “B” words, SAAB, BAYLEAVES, DABBLES, ABBAEBAN and DEBBIE for example, all of which accentuated the theme’s signature letter.

So, a BLUE chip puzzle for a Wednesday, (though, with no Klein BLUE, it would have been nice to at least see a nod to the elegant, delicate shade known as Robin’s Egg Blue that has become ubiquitous as the trademarked color used by Tiffany for their gift boxes).

In any event, a most enjoyable puzzle, featuring my favorite color!

John V 7:50 AM  

Very easy ... BUT .. calling LANA/NEELY crossing a Natick, 'cause I know neither. Fun. Unremarkable. Monday.

Unknown 8:17 AM  

This is the kind of theme that makes me say "meh", but I think the BLUE election tie in saves it, barely. I *hated* GES. Ugh. I don't see what the big problem with ESKERS is though. Seems common enough to me.

Wonder what the RED puzzle looked like.

joho 8:28 AM  

Pretty cute theme enhanced by the election connection if that was the intent. Hard to believe it's not as this is way too easy for a Wednesday.

Looking for something more challenging tomorrow, perhaps a rebus?

Congrats on your debut, George!

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

I don't get the feeling the NYT had a "red" theme puzzle ready to go if the election had gone the other way. I realize it would have probably been technically impossible to make a choice that late, but I too had to chuckle about the theme.

John V 9:01 AM  

Well, look at it like this: SOMEONE had to be singing the blues this morning.

No, Mitt, that is not a request. Really. No, really.

chefbea 9:12 AM  

Fun easy puzzle. Yesterday was cols and rainy here...a good day for stew which I made but did not use bay leaves...basil instead. And home-made bread to dunk in the gravy...yummm

Notsofast 9:20 AM  

A lot of warhorses. BLUES words missing were ETTA, KING, WOLF, RAY. Now, that would have been cool.

Sleep Solver 9:22 AM  

Does anyone ever solve crosswords in their sleep? Dream-solving?
I occasionally do, typically just filling in a corner.

Well, last night was a new stage in this disorder. It was a rebus puzzle with an actual theme. I was stuck until I figured out the rebus. Rebus being "id" in a single square. I look to the top of the grid and saw the title: "Overly Identifying." I guess the id was an abbreviation for identification which Rex certainly would point out the flaw in the title/theme.

Anyways, rather bazaar way get rest.

GILL I. 9:26 AM  

I had some time on my hands...Fast Wed...I like GLINDA and DABBLES.

Norm 9:40 AM  

@ Sleep Solver: and here I thought I was the only one ....

dk 9:41 AM  

A little rough around the edges this AM. Up late hoping a certain elected official in neighboring MN would Palinate into the red mist... but alas Ms. Bachmann is still with us.

This puzzle did nothing for me. Seem like a Tuesday. I always have such high hopes for Wednesday.

The theme could have been a contender: like Fleetwood Mcc when Peter Green was with them. Listen to Barb Wire Blues for some fun.

I will let others parse this one.

💤💤(2 sleep noises)

But wait:

Two penguins are driving through a small town and their car breaks down. They push it to the garage (difficult with flippers) and are told come back in 20 minutes. The penguin's spy an ice cream store and go for a couple of cones (vanilla). They make a mess as it is hard to eat a cone with the aforementioned flippers. They realize they need to get back to the garage.... As they walk in the door the mechanic states: "Looks like you blew a SEAL." The penguins get all red and reply no no no that's just ice cream.


JC66 9:47 AM  

@DK Love it!

@ Anoa Bob Has anyone ever seen MOUNT ETNA in a puzzle?

chefbea 10:02 AM  

@DK that was great

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Fairly easy but fun. My time was ruined by my Velcro cat trying to get 12 days worth of petting in 24 hours. I just returned to sunny Florida after visiting relatives and Sandy in New York. It is so nice to be not cold!

jberg 10:05 AM  

Yeah, easy. My only difficulties were ON KEY or in key, PTA or (New England variety) PTo.

@ACME - the two super-sweethearts are linked only by their initials and name lengths - LANA Lang and Lois Lane. I guess Lana didn't want to leave Smallville.

I thought downs crossing three theme answers were a good thing, but I guess for Rex it's like a pangram - not worth degrading the fill to do it.

I'd never have got this theme without the revealer. Until STEEL DRUMS I was looking for something related to the common Y in the theme answers.

As for any political tie-in - why is it that until about 20 years ago blue meant conservative, and red meant communist or socialist? I'll never be comfortable giving the red flag to the Republican Party!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:08 AM  

Hand up for AD MAN before AD REP.

quilter1 10:21 AM  

@AnoaBob: ha ha, I noticed all the bees, too.
Easy and I don't think it refers to politics at all. Just a coincidence. I liked so many of the answers that I don't mind some of the bad fill. As a debut I think this is quite good.

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

I'm so happy this morning that it will take a lot more than a few apses and Mt. Etnas to spoil my day.

@ Sleep Solver, I do too but not as involved as you do. Cool. I do play computer solitaire sometimes.

@ dk, Good one!

Now for a day of laying low away from my die-hard Romney-supporting boss.

Sandy K 10:55 AM  

Had brain freeze from staying up late- not from ICEE- waiting to see who'd be singing THE BLUES.

First thought theme was about Bs- so many Bs, even had bABBLES before DABBLES.

Theme was solid enough; GIE, SMA, RAE, GES, RES, not the most ADROIT fill, but all in all, I'm a happy camper today!

Evan 11:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 11:42 AM  

Yeah, really really easy for a Wednesday. It felt more like a Tuesday, but there's no way the NYT would have run this before the election was decided unless they were willing to incur the wrath of solvers complaining about partisan bias in the crossword puzzle -- though who knows, maybe that complaint will show up the day after anyway.

Assuming the same constructors made a red-themed puzzle in the event that Mitt Romney won, here is what I imagine could have been some of their theme answers:


The revealer probably would have been the Cincinnati baseball team.

I wonder if they've got a rainbow-themed puzzle waiting in the wings to celebrate the gay marriage victories in Maine and Maryland (and quite possibly Washington as well) and the victory against banning gay marriage in Minnesota?

Tita 11:50 AM  

@Susan Mc - I hadn't thought of that - the reason the puzzle was delayed is because they were waiting for reasonable certainty before deciding to release the BLUE or RED one???

@dk - lol!
@ all you sleep solvers - you are awesome!

Puzzles are seriously trending French - I'm gonna buy stock in RosettaStone...

Why is red the only color to not have a "light" version - you say "pink", not light red. Not pink red, just pink.
You might call light blue sky blue, or baby blue, but you always need the "blue" there.

Just started snowing here in CT. I hope all the displaced have shelter today.

David 12:26 PM  

Large combo is NONET? No net? None T?

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

@David - NONET a group of nine musicians.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

I do not understand "nonet" as an answer for large combo. Would someone kindly explain, please?

Cheech 12:37 PM  

So gang, we all moving to Colorado or Washington? I prefer Colorado, but getting the gang together is more important.

Lewis 1:01 PM  

@johnv -- made me laugh

Yes, Tuesday difficulty, but I didn't mind. I too am feeling good this morning, even as Wall Street whines. I found Obama's victory speech to be heart felt and inspiring, and believe it's worth listening to.

mac 1:33 PM  

Very easy but fun. Noticed all the Bs, but pretty quickly figured it was about blues.

I've also wondered why the democrats are called blue, red makes more sense to me!

Our gastank was filled this morning, so we're set for the next storm. Snow this time!

Bird 1:37 PM  

I neither like nor dislike this puzzle. For the most part it was straight forward and easy. Couple of pauses when I neither knew the answer nor the immediate crosses so I needed to build from afar. Could have done without GES, SMA, GIE and RAE.

We get some more French, with some Scottish thrown in for good measure.

Only writeover was AD MAN before AD REP. I suppose I should have been PC and started with AD REP.

Depending on house rules, five-of-a-kind (with wild cards of course) beats a ROYAL FLUSH.

@Susan McConnell – same thought on red puzzle

@dk – very funny

Red theme, with plenty of answers to work with . . .

Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinot Noir
Cabernet Franc

Happy Humpday!

Acme 1:50 PM  

How great!!! (Why don't you make a Monday one with that list if it hasn't been done? Let me know if you want to collaborate!)

Your RUBYTUESDAY reminds me of the best postelection headline EVER written.
In Minnesota when both Senator Rudy Boschwitz and Rudy Perpich lost, the headline in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune was "Goodbye Rudy Tuesday"!!!!!!!!!!

Do you know how many factors had to come together to have had that happen????!!!!????!!!!????!!!!

efrex 2:09 PM  

Meh. Nice theme, but I would've been happier with one less theme answer and more appealing fill. Crossed French words, crossed proper names... just a bit less, and I would've enjoyed this a lot more.

Still a pretty solid effort though, and certainly better than I can do. Ms. Salomon continues to mentor new constructors wonderfully, and I hope that Mr. Fitzgerald has some more up his sleeve.

Evan 2:42 PM  


Thanks for the offer! It's sorta been done recently, though, just with different theme answers.

But I'll give some thought to collaborating on a puzzle with you later though. I have to finish my semester first before I can get back into constructing. School's keeping me really busy these days!

jae 2:50 PM  

Not sure the the theme had any thing to do with the election. I printed the puzzle out around 7pm on the west coast which was before the networks called it and before the polls closed here in CA.

sanfranman59 3:24 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)

Wed 7:53, 11:49, 0.67, 1%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 4:40, 5:57, 0.79, 6%, Easy

Another personal best solve time for me. I beat my previous Wednesday low by 22 seconds. In fact, my time was almost as fast as my fastest ever Tuesday time. So I'm not at all surprised that this one rates at the extreme Easy end of the scale by the numbers. It's really a Tuesday puzzle and a rather easy one at that.

Name withheld due to, well, it's obvious once you've read this 4:01 PM  

@DK - Your penguin story reminds me of a sad aspect of my life.

I frequently take yogurt to work with me, my preference being Dannon Vanilla. I can't be othered to stir the flavoring in the bottom into the yogurt proper, so I just shake the container to mix the two together. This results in a very thin yogurt.

I'm also a slob, and stuff frequently drips off of spoons when I'm eating. I don't mean to be as such, but I am.

So, I'm freqently at work with white creamy dribblings down the front of my shirt. I haven't progressed very far in my career.

Anonymous, of course 4:42 PM  

@name withheld - That is a sad story. But if you know you are a slob, then pay more attention to your eating habits. Don't put much yogurt on the spoon. Don't eat over your shirt. Duh.

Mother Nature 8:43 PM  


retired_chemist 8:45 PM  

Easy. Hand up for AD MAN. DEBBIE was a gimme - as it was, I expect, to many septuagenarians.

ADROIT seemed just the least bit off kilter @ 18A, so when I put it in uncrossed I felt it might not stay, but it did. BONGO DRUMS, however, did not.

Thanks, Mr. Fitzgerald and Ms. Salomon.

Sfingi 9:19 PM  

DNF the SE because I did not know NEELY (sports), MAHRE (sports again) and LANA. Too many names criss-crossing.

Filled in GLINDA before looking at the clue.

@dk - crazy dirty joke!

Cheerio 10:04 PM  

I agree. Neely crossing Lana seems like a Natick candidate, if I am using that term correctly. Otherwise, played like Monday or Tuesday fare.

sanfranman59 11:06 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 5:44, 6:46, 0.85, 2%, Easy (3rd lowest median solve time of 174 Mondays)
Tue 7:57, 8:58, 0.89, 18%, Easy
Wed 7:55, 11:48, 0.67, 1%, Easy (lowest median solve time of 173 Wednesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:28, 3:41, 0.94, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:27, 4:41, 0.95, 41%, Medium
Wed 4:30, 5:57, 0.76, 3%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 173 Wednesdays)

diywriter 9:20 AM  

Wouldn't MANzone be a better answer to 31D than MANCAVE? I suppose that's a bit too blue, tho.

Quad rings 3:46 AM  

Quad-Ring ® Seals are vulcanized as a continuous ring. Their dimensions are specified with the inside diameter "d1" and the cross-section "W."

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Fun, quick little puzzle that felt more like a Tuesday. Maybe the NYT thought everyone would be up late watching election returns and needed something gentle the following morning?

rain forest 1:38 PM  

Speaking as one across the border, I'm happy the BLUE puzzle was the one able to be published today. I'm sure there was another one at the REDDY. Easy, but with some nice entries: ADROIT, DABBLES, SIDEARM, GLINDA, and the gettable SHIELDLAW. Cam NEELY--a brilliant player whose career was cut short.

I really hope the US does not go careening over that fiscal cliff.

Spacecraft 2:32 PM  

@ anon 12:33: NONET, prefix non- from Latin meaning nine + et meaning group of=group of nine.

Starting in the NW, I thought the theme would be: how many A's and B's can we cram into one grid? But no, it was a little sneakier than that. I solved all the way down to the SE corner and it never dawned on me till I actually filled in THEBLUES. Then, of course, big headslap. Nothing like a NYT puzzle to make me feel like a NCIS staffer.

Not bad for a Wedensday. Some near-mirror crossings: DEBBIE/DABBLES and ADROIT/ADRIFT. Had the too-obvious GaS before the devilish GES as my sole writeover. I think there was even a story about Clark's first GF LANA Lang, turned criminal out of unrequited love. Hell hath no fury, Supe!

Dirigonzo 7:31 PM  

This was primarily an exercise in watching Puzzle Partner fill in the answers as she didn't need much help from me - she finished with one blank square at the Artic explorer John/Form letters cross. I had a 32 year career with IRS so I'm not sure why I thought a "d" should go in there, but that's what I went with. Happy 12-12-12, syndilanders.

Waxy in Montreal 12:03 AM  

Joining the fray late tonight after an evening of Christmas shopping. Surprisingly, most stores were almost empty which could mean many folks have finished or perhaps have yet to begin.

@Diri, am going to miss the 01-01-01 thru 12-12-12 days of symmetry we've had over the last dozen years when the 3 conventions for writing dates in numerical format (YY-MM-DD, MM-DD-YY, DD-MM-YY) all coincided. Oh well, bring on Jan. 1st, 2101.

Really enjoyed this breezy mid-week puzzle. Secondary mini-theme as both DEBBIE & CYD were in Singin' in the Rain (1952). Wonder if the constructors actually started off with the intention of squeezing as many A's & B's as possible into the grid as per the NW corner. Might of been more fun.

Tita 1:34 PM Belgian-Portuguese cousin posted about a postcard written to her grandmother (who was 12 at the time) by a schoolmate who was excited about the special date...

this was on 12-12-1912...

Waxy in Montreal 2:18 PM  

Thanks @Tita. Like the old Cooper Brothers hit: "The dream never dies,just the dreamer. The song never dies,just the singer."

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