1978 hit by Journey / MON 10-7-13 / 1959 hit by Drifters / 1970 hit by Eric Clapton / Magazine with annual 500 list / Bygone Kremlin resident / Collaborative web project

Monday, October 7, 2013

Constructor: Amy Johnson

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging 

THEME: "SINGING THE BLUES" (63A: What the artists of 16-, 27- and 49-Across are doing (in reference to the last words of their hits)?) — theme answers are song titles wherein the last words may also be a variety of the color blue.

Theme answers:
  • 16A: 1959 hit by the Drifters ("THERE GOES MY BABY")
  • 27A: 1970 hit by Eric Clapton ("AFTER MIDNIGHT")
  • 49A: 1978 hit by Journey ("WHEEL IN THE SKY")
Word of the Day: Johnny HART (30D: "B.C." creator Johnny) —
Johnny Hart (February 18, 1931 – April 7, 2007) was an American cartoonist noted as the creator of the comic strip B.C.and co-creator of the strip The Wizard of Id. Hart was recognized with several awards, including the Swedish Adamson Award and five from the National Cartoonists Society. In his later years, he sparked controversy by incorporating overtly Christian themes and messages into the strips. [...] Hart was an active member of his local community — the area of Greater Binghamton in Broome County, New York, which shares a common abbreviation of "B.C." Hart donated B.C.-based drawings and logos free of charge to many entities and organizations found in the Broome County area, including logos for:

• • •

This is a weird little Monday. It looks like it has about a thousand answers in it. This is due to the odd combination of a highly segmented grid (all chopped up) *and* a preponderance of longish Downs. You don't usually see both together. Actually, the grid has just the fairly normal 78 words.  But—perhaps in part because of the odd cheater squares in the NW and SE corners—the thing looks intricate and fussy. The core theme, though, is textbook Monday stuff—your standard "last words can also be"-type theme. You get the revealer is nice. The types of blue, though, seem arbitrary. Why these? Because these three (just three) have songs that fit the theme and work symmetrically. Fair enough. But the songs—they're not what I'd call Monday fare. This is what will make this puzzle play somewhat harder than average for many people. More iconic songs would've been nice, more blues would've been nice, but we got what we got. And it's OK. I'm mostly super-bummed that this didn't find its way into the puzzle:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:03 AM  

Excellent Mon.  Easy for me.  Really liked the theme and the long downs.   The only thing that has me puzzled is why Guy Mitchell's No. 1 hit song wasn't part of the reveal?  Too tough for a Mon.?  Maybe because it was at the top of the charts in 1956?

retired_chemist 12:29 AM  

Played easy here. Didn't know most of the theme songs but so what. The titles of such songs are not hard to divine with a few crosses. 16A sounded to me like a knockoff of the Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love" and 27A sounded like a knockoff of Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight."

Monday level cluing,Monday level answers. No surprises. 42A was OOH-la-la first. Today we get just DESSERT (24A).

Surely BEQ would have clued 13D differently.

Thanks, Ms.Johnson.

Political statement in my captcha: drownw

Mike in DC 12:30 AM  

I found the fill so easy that the puzzle played easy, even for a Monday. But I did need crosses for the theme answers.

Alternatively, and perhaps more Mondayish, one could perhaps construct a puzzle with short theme answers based on BLUE songs:
Blue Skies
Blue Velvet
Blue Bayou
Blue Moon
Baby Blue
Jackie Blue
Misty Blue
(And if the two-worders get boring)
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

GILL I. 12:47 AM  

Yes, this was in the odd category but hell, I liked all the songs.
You might say WOE IS ME if you got 13D and then...OHOH 24A just deserts!!!!!
When we arrived in Miami in the 60's a girl named Amy became my best friend. She talked me into going to my first boy-girl dance at school. I was sitting in the pity poor me girl's side of the gymnasium when "THERE GOES MY BABY" blasted on. This cute chubby boy came up to a very tall, shy, red-headed freckle faced girl and asked her to dance. It was my first cheek-to-cheek. To this day I still remember his bubble gum breath and his head resting on my shoulder.
Amy Johnson...was that you egging me on?

mathguy 1:14 AM  

Where's the meat? 41 of the 78 entries were gimmes. Got the three songs even though I can't remember having heard any of them.

By the way, which commenters have their names in blue?

chefwen 1:55 AM  

@mathguy - The ones that don't want to hide.

Gotta hone my solving skills. Time wise, Jon beat me by a full three minutes, DANG! He's beginning to steal my thunder.

At least we got to eat our DESSERTS today.

Mike in DC, Jackie Blue, one of my all time favorites.

Great start to the week, thank you Amy Johnson.

Ellen S 2:10 AM  

Never heard of the songs, but they were easy enough to get. Loved the Village People video. Like having two desserts in one puzzle.

Arena CBS Mybabys 2:36 AM  

I liked that the first three answers all ended in P for no reason!
Added a little ZIP!

Love that @Rex found that early early early Cat Stevens and that the letters in HERECOMESMYBABY are the exact same as THEREGOESMY BABY.

Loved the reveal, couldn't figure it out as it was happening...

And the STPETER seemed like a nice set up to a hundred different jokes.

Had a pretty big mess up early on: ARE WE on air?

Also, of course, enjoyed the SAME/BATTY Nutso duo.

Very very clean grid. GIDE clue screamed for "The Little Prince" to be mentioned, methinks, for a Monday. Sabe?

@Gil IP sweet story, love when a puzzle evokes something like that! That's what it's all about!

Steve J 3:32 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 3:34 AM  

Knew the songs, although they all took quite a few crosses to come together. Found the theme revealer's clue to be one of those overly long, losing track, losing interest types, so I wasn't as excited by the theme as others. But it was well-executed, and while all the songs weren't smash hits, nor have they become standards, they're all still pretty widely known, in my observation.

@jae: I'm guessing Guy Mitchell is too obscure on a Monday. I've got pretty broad knowledge of popular music, and I had to look him up and what song you were referring to.

@mathguy: Posters' names are linked (and therefore blue) if they post using their Google/Blogger account to log in.

jae 4:06 AM  

@Steve J - Singing The Blues

It's just that every other clue was a song and this one topped the charts for over two months. Plus it was covered by Marty Robins, Hank Williams and Roy Orbison. So,..I'm still puzzled?

jberg 7:06 AM  

Along with the terminal Ps, I liked the sense that we were making minor adjustments and settling down for the puzzle week as we TAMPed, SWAPped, and RASPed along. I also liked the long downs crossing three theme answer, especially GETTYSBURG (I always like it, it was delivered on what would be my birthday 80 years later).

Aside from that, it was odd for a Monday, mainly we very specific clues for more general answers, e.g. 70A, 68A. Fine with me, but maybe not that Mondayish.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

I found this just too easy with almost insulting...just wanted it over...

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Has the NYT eliminated the pop up "Congratulations" etc when one finishes the on line puzzle? It's been weeks since I've seen it.

dk 8:26 AM  

Bellbottom Blues was playing the other day in the stadium (ok converted garage where I print photos) and my twenty something guest mutter who would right a song about pants... take my life please. Now the story.

@Gil IP, as one on the other side I just remember: Do not step on her feet and then my glasses got tangled in her hair. After a few very embarrassing moments we started laughing very hard. I said: What else cold go wrong. She said: I think I peed my pants, causing more laughter. Her friends looked at her not knowing what happened at all and said: Bonnie you have all the fun. Bellbottom blues.

🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) A fun time as indicated by a majority of the posts so far.

Loren Muse Smith 8:27 AM  

I thought this one was a nifty puzzle; I really liked the concept and the reveal.

@retired_chemist – me, too, for "ooh" before TRA.


Rex - In the Navy would truly have been really cool.

Gotta get ready to go the dmv to change the address on my license. That's always a pleasant way to spend several hours. HAR HAR


Congrats on your NYT debut, Amy!

dk 8:27 AM  

studio not stadium. I turn the spell correction off. I update and now it is back

dk 8:28 AM  

and muttered. gheeez luise.

dk 8:29 AM  

write not right. I give up

joho 8:37 AM  

SINGINGTHEBLUES made this puzzle for me ... great reveal! Theme also got me to thinking about BLUES songs I like and "Am I Blue" popped into my head. Love that song!

Not much else to say to other than congratulations, Amy!

Oh, and DESSERT was a nice link to yesterday's discussion of JUSTDESERTS. Will, you still insist there's no connection between puzzles?

Di 8:41 AM  

Love the BC links! That's the kind of stuff that keeps bringing me back!

Rudy 8:44 AM  

How could you not have heard of ANY of these three songs? SMH

Z 9:08 AM  

{With a Blues riff playing in the background}"SARAH TODO UTAH"

Mom to a reluctant dad, "TWEEN ERGO BRA"

Fun puzzle.

@DK - I understood everything but "stadium." I clean-up everything I catch, but rely on the friendly reader for any "corrections" that make it past my review.

Read B.C. and Wizard of Id as a kid. Then they got religion and stopped being funny. Don't know if the two are related, but it sure seemed like it to me.

Jake 9:39 AM  

This seems timely...

chefbea 9:40 AM  

Easy puzzle. Loved having dessert today. Knew all the songs...guess I'm old

Unknown 9:47 AM  

I'm with @chefbea...this seemed easy and I suspect it has to do with being of a certain age. No writeovers, just a straightforward fill. I briefly considered lookingforcLUES but it didn't make sense, though it is a great song.

Ray J 10:31 AM  

Wow!, I think this is terrific - song titles ending in shades of blue really limits theme material and Ms. Johnson got three of the *big* blues in there. “In The Navy” got a big laugh out of me, @ Rex.

Light blue is probably too generic to have made the cut, but I think “See the Light” by Jeff Healy would have fit right in. A blind bluesman singing about light - there’s a shade of irony in that one.

Carola 10:41 AM  

Nice puzzle. I knew only the Drifters' song, but the others were easy to get with crosses. Expected the reveal to be SINGING "in" something, so THE BLUES was a nice surprise.

Also, liked the "Okay, you wanted DESSERT, so..."

@jae - Good question about Guy Mitchell. Loved that song.
@Gill I.P. - Great story!
@mathguy - If you click on any of the BLUE commenters' names, you'll get to their profile page, where there is a Blogger logo at the top. If you click on that you get to a sign-up page. BLUE commenters can delete their comments.

@Rex - Thank you for the Navy video. The semaphore flags are too much.

[Appropriate captcha for after too much DESSERT: unlarde.]

BD 10:51 AM  

Quickest Monday time I've had in a while. Seemed easy to me even by Monday standards.

quilter1 10:55 AM  

I found this fast and easy. My only problem was reading "fall" for "fail" at the 56D clue. Durn bifocals.

Ray J 11:23 AM  

I’ve been meaning to ask…

Is Karen Tracey still out there making puzzles? I’ve been working through the NYT archive and have done a bunch of excellent puzzles with her name on them, but I don’t recall seeing her byline in the year-and-a-half or so that I’ve been regularly solving.

Doug 11:24 AM  

For the oldsters like me, it was easy, easy, easy. Only needed a couple of crosses to guess the themed songs. And at least half the clues were so literal....very surprising, as I thought Shortz had been trying to up the ante every day for the past few weeks.

Lewis 12:07 PM  

Damn you, Rex, now I'm going to have that Navy ear worm all day!

The theme didn't help my solve, but it held the puzzle together. I too found it easy for a Monday.



Milford 12:27 PM  

Easy, peasy Monday. Only write-over was crazY to BATTY.

Liked that we all got our just DESSERTS today.

My youngest daughters are on either side of TWEEN-dom (13 and almost 10).

Is HAR HAR a shout out to M&A, perhaps?

dick S 12:29 PM  

Is 'In the Navy' the most camp video of all time?

Masked and AnonymoUUs 12:35 PM  

Knew the first two song titles instantly. This kept the upper halfgrid MonPuz-easy.

WHEEL IN THE SKY was a total mystery. Dialed 'er up on the YouTube immediately, to have a listen. Good song; but still a debut, to M&A's ears. The wheel in the sky keeps on turnin, I'll have you know. But I digress. Point was, that made the lower half a dab, but only a dab, harder.

Pretty darn good debut, considerin how hard it is to make a decent MonPuz. Had yer two U's and two HARs. A good har is worth a couple U's, on the Official M&A Exchange. Cool revealer. And I learnt a whole new song. Wheel of Fortune show should latch on to it. thUmbsUp.

fave moo-cow Monday clue:
"___-la-la" [Any alternative answers? OOH?]
Honrable mention:
"Worms, to a fisherman" [What on earth else could it be?
NEED? COST? I mean, it's not like MAKESGOODTOGO will fit in there.] har.


Anoa Bob 12:41 PM  

Anybody seen the latest TV promo for the Navy, something along the lines of "A Global Force for Good"? Gaaaccckkk! What lamebrain came up with that schmaltzy jingo lingo? Bring back the Village People. That's the way to do a promo. Makes me want to sign up again!

Good puzzle, Rex is on top of his game, and commenters are in fine form today. Most entertaining.

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

Rex, I can always tell when you are hungover. Please stop drinking, its really affecting your work.

chefbea 1:46 PM  

@Rex watching the weather channel...hopefully you are OK in Binghamton

Questinia 1:50 PM  


@retired chemist and lms: ooh before TRA. Always.


Questinia 1:52 PM  

@ chefbea

Looks like a derecho.... We're next on deck in Ct... yikes.

chefbea 1:55 PM  

@Questina tornado warning for NYC

M and A also 1:58 PM  

Kinda see where @anon 1:25 is comin from, now that they mention it.

The grid is unusually "chopped up", because there's black squares in two of the corners? I've heard 4-Oh come up with this "chopped up" comment before, and it always sails right over my head...

Top definitions for a "chopped up" crossword grid:
1. Has black squares.
2. Has less than 225 white squares.
3. Has words shorter than 15 long.
4. Has consonants as well as vowels.
5. Has them funny numbers in some of the squares.
6. Has 450 sorta grayish squares, when solvin under the infuence (SUI).
7. Dogs chewed on mah puz.
8. The rare NYT double-struck puz page. Only happens when solvin under the influence and in denial. (SUI&D)
9. Dribbled some chop suey on puz.
10. All the right answers don't fit into the squares provided, so have to put some letters on the other side of that there black divider square. This is a very technical concept -- used by solvers built for speed but not for accuracy.


Last Glowin Pulsatin Stinkin Silver Bullet 2:11 PM  

9. (enhancement): Dribbled some chop suey on puz. (SUI&SUEY)


acme 2:30 PM  

I like that little mini repeat echoes you found in OHOH SISI and HARHAR...nice!

@Ray J
You are right! Karen Tracey who makes fabulous puzzles (she's had 32 in the Times, no collaborations according to the XwordInfo) hasn't had one in the NYT since 2010!
But she did the final two years ago down in LA, which was magnificent and I've seen her at the ACPT...very shy and sweet and comes to the women's constructor's brunch that Amy (Orange) spearheads...so perhaps hers have been pulled for the ACPT?
I hope she hasn't stopped bec she's great!

ANd, of course, glad to see another woman has debuted today!

David 4:01 PM  

Karen Tracey does an occasional Post Puzzler (though I think it's been a few months since I saw her by-line), and she also had the Finals puzzle at Lollapuzzoola in 2012.

Steve J 4:41 PM  

@jae: I see your point re: the significance of the song at a point in time (and others; I wasn't aware of the covers). My wholly uneducated guess is that the constructor simply wasn't aware of the song. And I still venture to guess that it's too obscure for a Monday. It's a nearly 60-year-old song that did not become a standard. Meanwhile, the phrase is common enough on its own to have resonance at the beginning of the week.

sanfranman59 5:02 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:05, 6:07, 0.99, 47%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:50, 3:50, 1.00, 45%, Medium

Ray J 5:23 PM  

@acme and @David:
Thx for your replies. I’ll keep my eye on the Post. She had quite a string of beautiful Friday and Saturday puzzles going for a while.

Ms. Tracey: If you happen to read this please check in and let us know where we can find more of your work.

jae 5:47 PM  

You can find some of Karen Tracey's work in the Peter Gordon edited books of NY Sun puzzles. They are, of course, terrific. Check your local Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

acme 6:52 PM  

I have forwarded your comments/compliments to Karen and we'll see what happens. I can also forward your email to her if you'd like. my email is may fullname @gmail.

Karl 9:11 PM  

One more BC related factoid: The mascot and team name of the University of California at Irvine is the Anteaters, depicted by the anteater from the comic strip. At athletic competitions, the student body chants, "Zot! Zot!", the noise he made when he zapped ants with his tongue...

OISK 9:14 PM  

Never heard of any of the songs. Still solved in about 7 minutes - slow for me on Monday - but sorry, when the three long answers are totally meaningless to me, I don't love the puzzle. I imagine it was fun for those who have some familiarity with them, and even seems to have been pleasurable for some more tolerant folks who haven't. I just dislike rock so much that I don't even like to see it in crosswords. My problem! (at least I have heard of Clapton and the Drifters, even if I've managed to ignore their music. But "Journey"? Really? I can add them to the long list of groups/performers whom I know only from the NYT puzzle! Joe Ramone, DiDi Ramone, Nsync, the Bangles...)

sanfranman59 10:12 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 6:06, 6:07, 1.00, 47%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:50, 0.97, 32%, Easy-Medium

@Ray J et al ... I can tell you with confidence that Karen Tracey hasn't been published by any of the other 4 dailies I do: LAT (since Feb 2010), CrosSynergy, Universal and USA Today (all since Sept 2008).

Ellen S 12:57 AM  

@rudy it's easy not to have heard of the songs if you don't listen to popular music. I'm glad @OISK had the same problem. @dk don't worry about spellcheck. (Haha -- Nonsense alert: I'm trying to construct this comment using voice to text.) Anyway, a friend of mine says "technology" is Latin for "always broken." (I'm having to do so much man you're correct...manual correcting!... I don't know why I'm not just typing this.) @M&A, I loved your number 10 definition of chopped up. That's the way I solve jigsaw puzzles. (By George, the iPad understood my last two sentences! Make that three!)

Captcha is "eairmal" -- is that when you send a letter by just shouting to the person?

mellocat 8:07 PM  

@Ray J: Hi there and thanks for the kind words on my puzzles! I am still "out here" but not finding much time for puzzles lately. I went back to full-time computer programming work around 3 years ago, plus starting volunteering a lot with a cat rescue, which has left me with not so much free time for puzzles. I have been a regular contributor to the Washington Post Puzzler (we have a set schedule of contributions for that) since it started but I've not done any freelance constructing for a while now. I hope to get back into it one day, but it may not be until I retire...

mellocat 8:12 PM  

Hmm, since I chose "google account" I thought that comment would post with a kmtracey name (which is my gmail id) but apparently google's blogger has me down as mellocat. Oh well...mellocat is actually me, Karen Tracey.

spacecraft 11:54 AM  

I liked it. First of all, those songs all come from when music was music; since those days are gone, I'm SINGINGTHEBLUES. WOEISME. The fill felt natural. Normally I'd throw the flag for AAS--the way it's clued--but you could say "Some batteries," so it gets a pass.

I like how WHEELINTHESKY intersects with--and may be the answer to--the question AREWEALONE. Ah, Steve...what a set of pipes you had!

No one mentioned another great oldie: "I'm Mr. Blue."

Spacecraft salutes: all our veterans, for your selfless service. SA--LUTE!

Ginger 12:59 PM  

I didn't know any of the songs until after the solve, then there was a tickle of remembrance. Ergo, it was not as easy for me as most Mondays.

Particularly like AREWEALONE, and RUBITIN. Fun puzzle, clean and interesting. Thanks and Congrats Amy Johnson. (any relation to the Amy Johnson that set many aviation records?)

DMG 1:55 PM  

Good thing the downs on this one were Monday level, as the songs are totally unknown to me. Different generation, different tastes.....? Whatever. For what it's worth, I ended up thinking the mentioned tunes must be in the blues genre. Someday I'll really understand a revealer!! At any rate, solved with only one write over. Makes up for Saturday, I think.

Dirigonzo 3:55 PM  

Well I managed to complete the grid with no errors and no write-overs on my first pass through the clues, helped greatly by knowing all the songs, so it didn't leave me SINGINGTHEBLUES.

Much admiration and appreciation for all veterans of our armed forces! My Dad was a sailor in the Pacific in WWII and I think he would have enjoyed the video Rex featured today.

Solving in Seattle 7:01 PM  

My only puz question is is there a MIDNIGHT blue? Really?

Spent Veterans Day getting new brakes for Mrs. @SiS's car. Damn, they're expensive. My best to all you other vets. Thanks for your service and enjoy the day.

Dirigonzo 7:37 PM  

@SiS - Well, there's this, or this - take your pick.

Solving in Seattle 8:09 PM  

OK, we learn something every day. It's a color. But what a sublime way to spend three minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Thanks for the song. Hadn't listened to it in years.

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