Dark-tongued Chinese dogs / WED 9-18-19 / Prominent cockatoo feature / Green-headed duck

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Constructor: John Wrenholt

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:42)

THEME: DOWN THE PIPE (53A: How a perfect pitch comes ... or a hint to the missing parts of the circled answers) — circled-square answers are [word in the grid] + PIPE, which you have to mentally supply; the PIPE answers are arranged like a PIPE descending the grid in staircase fashion

"Pipe" answers:
  • HALF (3D: Feature of a skate park)
  • TAIL (24A: Muffler attachment)
  • STOVE (29D: Hat worn by Abraham Lincoln)
  • LEAD (45A: Weapon in Clue)
  • WIND (49D: Trachea)
Word of the Day: MANSE (60A: Rector's residence) —


the house and land occupied by a minister or parson.
the dwelling of a landholder; mansion. (dictionary.com)
• • •

There's a little wobbliness to this theme, in that the overall shape of the "pipe" (from top to bottom of the grid) doesn't really suggest "pipe" that well, and a pitch that comes DOWN THE PIPE is the very opposite of the puzzle's "pipe" shape, i.e. it travels a pretty straight path. That said, I think the theme basically works. It has an admirable complexity (a missing "pipe" layer, and then an overall descending "pipe" layer) and a snappy revealer. The fill is no great shakes, but neither is it barfsome. Tending toward HO-HUM, but without causing me any SPLEEN or ODIUM. I was heading toward what felt like a record time, but then spun out with not one but two wrong answers, and so ended up with just a good time. My wrong answers: SEEDY for SHADY (33D: Of questionable repute) and CLOCK TOWER for WATER TOWER (11D: Tall landmark in many a town). I like both of my wrong answers, but particularly the latter one, as a CLOCK TOWER seems like a landmark you might actually treat like one, i.e. "meet me by the CLOCK TOWER at 7." Do people use WATER TOWERs as reference points? Anyway, WATER TOWER is a fine enough answer, I just had the misfortune of coming at that answer from underneath, i.e. I had TOWER and put CLOCK *right* in ... then it didn't work. Then I tried to move into the middle of the grid and work my way back to the NE, but that's where SEEDY was mucking things up. So, like I said, the wheels came off for a bit. But I put them back on.

Wanted SNORE at 1A: "Bor-r-ring" (HO-HUM) to start the puzzle, but then couldn't get a [Cobra feature] from S--- and then once I got DEF Leppard, I figured out the cobra had a HOOD, and then I made very few errors thereafter. I found "LET ME" a little hard to get ahold of (45D: "I can take it from here"), and I stalled briefly on both CHOWS (36A: Dark-tongued Chinese dogs) and AIRSHIPS (I had the AIR- and just blanked) (9D: Blimps and zeppelins). I had no trouble with the revealer, but I do think the clue is slightly off. A "perfect" pitch is likely not coming down Broadway; those are the kinds of pitches that tend to get clocked. I guess if you're the batter, a pitch that's DOWN THE PIPE is perfect. "Right over the plate" would've been more accurate / less ambiguous.

See you Thursday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Swagomatic 12:09 AM  

I liked it. It took me about 4 Rexes to finish.

jae 12:21 AM  

Easy. The PDF version looks better than my iPad version with circles.

Clever, liked it.

Joaquin 12:23 AM  

Well ... that was easy! Another week where I felt that Tuesday and Wednesday were reversed.

teevoz 12:26 AM  

Wait - you didn't have the W and try WATCHTOWER?

Joe Dipinto 12:50 AM  

@Rex -- Ahem. I think you missed something. Oil-17a, water-11d, and gas-28d all travel through pipes. (Clocks don't.)

I like the heavy-duty, industrial, big-buildings-and-big-machinery vibe of this one. It all hangs together nicely. "Pipe Down" would have worked as a revealer too. That Magritte not-a-pipe pipe was used as a theme not too long ago.

♪ I like the island Manhattan
Smoke on your pipe and put that in! ♪

Anoa Bob 1:18 AM  

Played baseball in Little League, high school and college but I don't recall ever hearing DOWN THE PIPE used to describe a pitch, perfect or otherwise. Maybe it's regional.

Some of the PIPE lead-ins are indeed DOWN but some are across. Bit of a disconnect seems to me.

So OIL PLATFORM, WATER TOWER and GAS STATION aren't part of the DOWN THE PIPE theme? Odd.

Yes, I did notice the TEMPERS/STEPS, AIRSHIPS/CHOWS, SPEWS/SLAVS in the center with a DENTS/SHORES echo off to the side. I'm thinking that those final shared Ss give this grid a POC assisted rating.

Hello AERIE my old friend, you and APSE help my solve again....

puzzlehoarder 1:32 AM  

This would have been easy for a Monday. Being on Wednesday it was a let down. I did have a momentary PIPE/TAIL write over at 24A because I was expecting some kind of turning the corner gimmick and PIPE could be an answer for that clue. MALLARD corrected the mistake and from then on there was almost zero resistance.

okanaganer 1:38 AM  

Very worth mentioning is that the long answers all have pipes!:

I think a more accurate revealer would be "Where the dishwater/poop goes?" It does actually follow a zigzag pattern, usually. Google it if you wish, it's sorta interesting. OK actually it's not.

chefwen 2:34 AM  

Never time myself as I solve pen on paper and don’t mind stopping to get a refill, put dinner on, etc. But I couldn’t write fast enough to get the letters filled in. Fastest Wednesday that I can recall. Biggest goof was ramp at 3D until that didn’t work. My friends kid is a big skateboard nut so I knew the term HALF PIPE, I had TAIL in place, AHA, got the theme. Smooth sailing ahead.

Meghan 2:40 AM  

For hundreds, if not thousands of small towns across America, water towers are THE landmark, because they're the tallest things around and can be seen from any point in town and for miles in any direction. They're not landmarks in the sense of "meet me there and we'll go for coffee," but rather, "you'll know you're getting close to town when you see the water tower."

Z 4:23 AM  

Nice touch with OIL/WATER/GAS. I didn’t pause to look at the longer answers so a nice little plus when it was pointed out here.

I was trying to come up with something musical for DOWN THE PIPE because it doesn’t seem like a particularly common baseball term. “Right down Broadway,” or, if you’re a Tiger fan, “ Right down Woodward,” are the common baseball pitch phrases. Google DOWN THE PIPE, and the top hits are about the correctness of coming DOWN THE PIPE. I don’t see any baseball references, but a porn site made the top ten.

Our Lab/shepherd/CHOW mix has only one discernible CHOW feature, dark spots on his tongue. 36A was automatic here.

@cassieopia late yesterday - Har. Where does a Great Dane sit? Anywhere they want.

Lewis 5:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:04 AM  

I liked that many of the clues played with words that have more than one meaning -- Tony, party, figure, Poles, mixer, slam. I also liked what seemed to me to be a mini-reveal, STEPS. Then there is a nice cross of FLOAT and AIRSHIPS, and lovely clues for UMP, SEDER, WIN, and NASA. There was an undertone of anger (SPLEEN, ODIUM, TEMPERS, DIS, and IRE) balanced by AWE, OLE, and the awards.

I had to think for a moment to remember PAGERS. Has it been that long, or is it just me?

This was quick and enjoyable. Thank you, John. You smoked it.

Solverinserbia 6:29 AM  

Blitzed it. 7:49 well below my 12:52 average for W. I think it had to be Wed since the theme answers were missing the word PIPE, but by highlighting them and cluing so easily it ended up more like a Mon or Tues

Hungry Mother 7:04 AM  

I learned about Magritte from “Gödel, Escher, Bach”, which I used as a textbook in several courses in two different colleges. I don’t know if that helped me to fill in the missing PIPE or not, but this was almost a PR for me today. It would have been a PR if my wife hadn’t asked me to get out some paper towels. I’d rather keep my wife happy.

QuasiMojo 7:06 AM  

Still with the gimmicks? I might as well be doing Word Searches. I am sick of these HOHUM exercises in tedium.

A half pipe is not actually a pipe so the theme makes no sense.

Pagers are forerunners of cellphones? So are walker-talkies I guess. But is that fact interesting enough to put in a puzzle?

That Attitude quote is "popular"? Among whom?

I thought the quest of American Idol (speaking of ODIUM) is a record deal. Can't one say that the American Dream these days is "Stardom"? A Pipe dream to be sure.

amyyanni 7:12 AM  

@Joe DiPinto, that is one of my very favorite lyrics from the quintessential American Musical. Thanks! This is a fine start to hump day. Grins.

SouthsideJohnny 7:17 AM  

Wow - a clean, (modestly) challenging puzzle with very, very few obscure or arcane references ! What a breath of fresh air - I wish this were the rule rather than the exception. Hopefully more of the same will follow.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Monday easy.

A) it's pike, not pipe. B) a pitch down the pike (or pipe) would be a poor pitch, not a perfect one.

Tried to fit AIR and SODA into the "things that travel in pipes" theme, but seemed too much of a stretch.

Unknown 7:33 AM  

I took perfect pitch as a musical term. A sung note comes up the pipe (wind), a tuning note comes down (or through) a pitch pipe or from a tuning fork. It all worked out fine with a fast time for me.

OffTheGrid 7:44 AM  

Except SHORES, TEMPERS, SPEWS, and SHORES are not plurals as used, but verb forms. DENTS could go either way, even as clued. But the effect is the same. POC or VOC.

OffTheGrid 7:50 AM  

I entered pipe at 24A, too. I thought maybe this might be a skateboard theme. I pursued the theme answers without reading the revealer and got nowhere. Then I saw that I had to furnish PIPE myself and quite easily filled the shaded squares then completed the puzzle in about Tues. time-20 minutes. I enjoyed it.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

and the town name is usually on the tower.

Michiganman 7:58 AM  

I volunteer at an animal shelter and often transport dogs and cats to the vet. for spay/neuter. Recently I asked the vet. about the black spots on a dog's tongue. He said it is simply a genetic trait that can occur in any breed but more often in some than others.

Z, How about our Tigers! We have a shot at top draft pick. Wahoo!!!

Suzie Q 7:58 AM  

I caught the trick early and enjoyed filling my grid intentionally avoiding the reveal while wondering what would tie (or weld) all of these pipes together. I sure was disappointed. Baseball? Fun up to that moment so not a waste of time I guess.

PG Bartlett 8:10 AM  

I agree with others that it was too easy for Wednesday. I was 2 seconds faster than Rex despite occasionally dipping my spoon in my cereal for another bite.

Lively puzzle, though. And I don't overanalyze themes so it never occurs to me to nitpick. I leave that to Rex.

Nancy 8:15 AM  

No thinking required. I spotted the trick at the outset, knew what the revealer would be long before getting there, and found the surrounding clues and answers HOHUM, to say the least.* I enjoyed both the Monday and Tuesday puzzles this week a lot more than this.

*Note to constructors: If there's any chance that your puzzle will be considered HOHUM by even one person (so far we have two; hi, @Quasi), for heaven's sake don't make HOHUM your 1 Across answer.

The Pipe 8:28 AM  

This is not a comment.

Dorothy Biggs 8:37 AM  

I am very curious how the mini puzzle is made and when...there are many times when there are answers in the mini that hint at what's in the main puzzle. Since we all have, by now, done the main puzzle, I'm going to assume you've done the mini too. If you haven't, this is your spoiler alert.

But today had CIAO in the mini along with CHOW in the main. Does anyone know if Joel F creates these puzzles specifically to go with the main puzzle? They are too often parallel to be coincidence.

As for the puzzle itself, I'll just go on record as saying that this was really easy for me with few write-overs. I know a puzzle is really easy when I don't even get a chance to see all of the clues...I just fill in words in one direction that fill in entire sections. The SW and SE corners were like that.

Almost Monday-like except for the cluing being a bit challenging in places.

Nancy 8:37 AM  

You have to get up very early in the morning (12:50 a.m.) to catch @Joe Dipinto in a mistake over a lyric and today I...didn't. I was going to correct you, Joe, on "I like the island Manhattan" from "America" and tell you no, that's wrong, it's "I like the isle of Manhattan", which is the way I've always heard it (I own the album, saw the movie, and attended the recent B'way revival). But to make absolutely sure, I Googled the lyric just now and Joe is right! Wonder if I were to listen to it again, I'd here it correctly for the first time in my life?

That reminds me of another misheard lyric where I had it wrong for more than half a century. Here I have an excuse, though. When I first heard the lyric of "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun", I was no more than 7 years old and probably didn't know the word "furrier". So what I heard was:

If I shot a rabbit,
Some furry little rabbit,
For a coat that would warm someone...

Decades later, don't remember where or when or how, I finally learned what the lyric actually is:

If I shot a rabbit,
Some furrier would grab it
For a coat that would warm someone...

Quite a bit better, don't you think? :) Anyway, sorry Joe D for ever doubting you.

RooMonster 8:42 AM  

Hey All !
DOWN THE hatch!
DOWN THE middle!
Obscure baseball reference, at least to me, who hasn't watched baseball in many a moon. Vaguely remember hearing that, but with my memory not very reliable, I could just be making a connection that isn't there.

Anyway, did enjoy this puz, in spite of my nit. 9 themers, the 5 PIPEs, plus the 3 long answers (that somehow Rex missed, which is surprising, cause he usually catches everything) and the Revealer. So lots of real estate taken up by the theme. Fill doesn't suffer like you think it would. Bravo John.

SPLEEN is just a funny word.
Could've clue WATERTOWER as "Where Yakko, Wakko, and Dot get locked up".*
Is there an AIR or CLUB PIPE? Then we can include 9 & 35D in the theme.

Only one writeover, SHAkY-SHADY (well, full disclosure, did have an S at end of 51D first).

@Anoa Bob - Read your manifesto yesterday on your LCIs. Fun stuff. Any back story on where that particular nit comes from? And is there any way to construct a puz without any of them? Curious minds, and all that.

*Referring to the 'Animaniacs' cartoon, in case you were wondering what the hell I was talking 'bout.


burtonkd 8:51 AM  

Agreed the term is down the pike, as in turnpike and is great for the hitter. Just like a hanging curveball, ie a slow pitch that doesn’t curve as intended.

For a water tower landmark, google Gaffney SC peach tower. Here is attempt at link:


Okay fail, copy paste or google...

David in Brevard 8:54 AM  

Agree with almost everyone else that it should have been swapped with yesterday’s as it came in at a kinda Tuesday time.

I got a late start to it this morning as we were running around Western NC yesterday running errands well through the domains on @Z @Lewis @Mary Louise Forsythe et al.

Started out with a Cobra HEAD and AIRCRAFT for a Blimp but soon got the measure of things and came in about 7 x Rex’s. Really enjoyed the theme and was so impressed when I found the third layer (Thank you @Anoa Bob) of OIL, WATER and GAS in there.

Now for a late breakfast and staying put....

In Brevard

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

I haven’t even looked at this puzzle yet, and I probably never will, but I can’t believe how bad it is. The theme is insipid and inconsistent. I mean, ______ doesn’t fit at all with ______. Those are supposed to be part of the same theme?? Total fail, total flail. And I couldn’t think of a worse clue than _____ (for _____). Well, maybe ___ is worse. And then you have ____... I mean, What?!?! Who says that, ever? It produces exactly 2 google hits, both of them in Romanian. And this appeared on a ____day! What a waste of time and ink and pixels. And the fill is wretched — can’t the constructor and editor come up with anything better than ___, ___, ___, and ___? Not to mention ___, ___, ___, and ___. Yikes. Oh well, maybe tomorrow will be better.

Sir Hillary 9:14 AM  

Very nice puzzle. The "pipes" are fine, but the OIL/GAS/WATER combo (which I didn't even notice until reading it here) takes this one over the top -- or wherever the opposite of DOWNTHE[drain]PIPE is.

Funny, but I think DOWNTHEPIPE is definitely the baseball term, although as many of noted it's only a perfect pitch for the batter. To me, DOWNTHEPIkE implies something in the near future. Gotta love idioms.

I had **FT for 7D and dropped in riFT. Nice clue trickery there.

OK, I'll pipe down now.

CDilly52 9:16 AM  

Thank you @Kitshef for “pike“ not PIPE. A pitch “straight down the pike” would likely be headed over the center field fence, much to the pitcher’s chagrin.

jberg 9:35 AM  

One often heard that a batter waited for the perfect pitch, so that’s ok.

Curious Georgette 9:38 AM  

Question for anyone but Z or his sock puppet michiganman. When is it appropriate or necessary to use “some” in the clue, as in the clue for fatal ? Only male mallards have green heads but there was no “some” in that clue. It seems kind of arbitrary. Not complaining just curious.

Tom 9:50 AM  

Tres intelligent.

oldbizmark 9:57 AM  

Stupid easy. Got all the gray squares before beginning the puzzle. Then saw the "revealer" and got as mad as Rex should have gotten. The term is "Down the Pike" as others have said. Yes, people screw up their idioms all the time. But that's what editors are for. And Will Shortz failed us again. And positives that the puzzles may have offered are immediately invalidated by using PIPE instead of PIKE. Dumpster fire puzzle.

QuasiMojo 9:57 AM  

PIPE DOWN would have worked as a theme too without the confusion.

@Nancy, cute story about misheard lyrics. I was one of the many who mistook Jimi Hendrix's lyric for "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy." Kept me scratching my head for many years. :)

I tried to find out when my subscription was ending in order to cancel the puzzle but I couldn't find the info anywhere on the app. The instructions in the Help section led to a (deliberate?) dead end. I spent nearly a half hour trying to find the info. Eventually I located it buried in my Settings folder rather than the App. I've got another month's worth of puzzles, yippee, and another month's worth of complaints forthcoming. I wish we could talk about other puzzles here but that's hard to do without spoilers.

I hope the ever-clever Joe won't mind if I quote from another musical:

"But once in a while, when I'm talkin' to myself
And there's no one there to disagree
I look up and I cry
To a big empty sky
Won't there ever be a home for me?"

From "Pipe Dream."

Ethan Taliesin 10:03 AM  

After this romp, I'm expecting a Thursday like a Saturday. Fingers crossed.

Ben G-C 10:06 AM  

Hi! I’m a professional baseball broadcaster with some 7,500 innings of on-air experience, so I feel qualified to chime in here. “Down the pipe” is indeed a commonly used phrase for a pitch right down the middle. A pitcher referring to such a pitch will sometimes say that they “piped it.” “Pike” is also acceptable, but far less frequently used.

For more, I’d recommend the book “The Baseball Thesaurus”, written by Jesse Goldberg-Strassler. It’s outstanding.

Carola 10:13 AM  

Yes, easy but so nicely done. I got the idea after HALF and TAIL and then completed the remaining PIPE run, thinking that the reveal might involve some form of "PIPE down!" Thanks to those who pointed out the bonus AIR, GAS, and WATER and to @Lewis for the other grid felicities.

Re: WATER TOWER - what @Meghan 2:40 said. That clue delivered a jolt of nostalgia for the small town where I grew up, with its distinctive version - which I still try to pick out from the AIR on flights to and from Chicago.

jberg 10:20 AM  

I had to break off abruptly to drive my wife to work; got a few minutes now so I’ll add that lucky guesses on SHADY vs. seedy and AIRSHIPS vs. craft helped me a lot with this one.
I hadn’t noticed the OIL-GAS-WATER thing until I came here. That makes the puzzle a lot better.

CDilly52 10:22 AM  

Monday easy on Wednesday and the actual Monday and Tuesday puzzles this week were much more difficult for me than this one. I immediately saw the Olympic snowboard “HALF pipe” competition with its harrowing elements and was off and running and never stopped.

As for WATER TOWERS, I can assure you that they are landmarks as are just about any large structure or oddity on the landscape especially in rural America. I am a “City Mouse” but part of my work is in very, very rural Oklahoma where folks navigate by landmark to this good day. And it’s pretty funny when one of my clients (usually the County Sheriff or one of the Commissioners) needs to meet me at a bridge site or somewhere out in the countryside. After several disastrous experiences (thank heavens for mobile phones!) they have learned to just give me a map because: “go east on the highway past old Bob’s horse barn and go til you see the Elmore water tower in the distance. Soon as you see the tower, here’s the county’s largest cottonwood on your left just as you get to Sonny’s old windmill and you turn at the next gravel road...” will get me lost every time! And flat as most of Oklahoma is, WATER TOWERs are visible for miles and miles.

A happy and enjoyable puzzle!

Joe Dipinto 10:35 AM  

@Nancy – God knows how many lyrics I've misheard over the years. But "island" makes more sense conversationally if you think about it. The characters list the pros and cons of the island Puerto Rico– "you lovely island"..."you ugly island" – and Anita counters that the island *she* prefers is Manhattan.

And it sings better – "isle of Manhattan" could be mistaken for "I love Manhattan".

xyz 10:41 AM  

DOWN THE PIKE is better/wider phraseology than DOWN THE PIPE
I got the whole pipe thing from the HALF, went straight down the grid - but for the revealer answer I needed crosses, so I don't endorse this despite actually filling in 'DOWN THE PIPE'.

More WATER TOWER s with city names on them than CLOCK T's, tsk tsk Haven't you watched HOUSE OF CARDS? OH, I forgot, the brillllliant Kevin Spacey is now forbidden fruit (ouch) WAIT! Charges were dropped. Be sure to see that water tower if you haven't, very un-PC

SPACE X for the answer to Launch Party? would be such awesome VIRTUE SIGNALING ...

I so despise parades thus 6A was nothing but trouble for me - my sole hang-up coupled with the crafty LEFT/split (had rift)

And isn't DRAGON (doesn't fit, duh) a more correct answer for Symbol of China?

I had better start behaving ...

nyc_lo 10:44 AM  

Not a big fan of televised baseball, which is where I suppose one would be most likely to hear a phrase like DOWN THE PIPE, as part of the commentary trying to fill up the interminable voids between any actual sports action. Not counting spitting and scratching. So the revealer meant nothing to me, but fortunately the missing pipe thing was obvious early on. Easy-medium time wise.

JC66 10:46 AM  

Down the PIkE (sometime in the future) is definitely an expression, but has nothing to do with "how a perfect pitch comes."

FWIW, when googling, DOWN THE PIPE gets 5 times the hits than DOWN THE PIkE does.

Joseph M 10:48 AM  

I’d like to pipe up and say that I enjoyed this puzzle. Yes, it was easy but the theme is clever and the fill, fresh. Almost no crosswordese. The bonus WATER, OIL, and GAS entries added to its charm.

CHASERS brought to mind the dynamite a cappella group Straight No Chaser. Harmony at its best. Always worth a listen.

In my town, the WATER TOWER is so much a landmark that it’s the heart of the village logo and featured on the vehicle sticker of every windshield.

dadnoa 10:49 AM  

+1 for Joe. So many missed pipe opportunities.....just piping up here.

Whatsername 11:05 AM  

Re the PIPE/PIKE debate, here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say about that.

Basically M-W says either is acceptable. Thanks @Ben G-C at 10:06 for the insider information. It sounded odd to me, but I am not that familiar with baseball trivia so I wasn’t going to argue the point.

I thought this theme was cleverly done with the stove pipe shape but aside from that, pretty HOHUM. Certainly easy and a speedy solve. The clue for 11D might have been better as “landmark in many a SMALL town,” as just about every small town has one WATERTOWER and only one. Many of them also have the name of the town painted on it somewhere. Hence the landmark status, not just for locals but also for travelers sighting it from afar.

Z 11:09 AM  

At 4:23 a.m. I posted a link to a discussion about DOWN THE PIPE vis à vis DOWN THE PIkE. Want the short version? PIkE is the original, PIPE widely accepted now.

@Ben G-C - Sounds like an interesting book. Still, not a phrase familiar here. Then again, baseball slang can be very regional at times. “Standing there like a house by the side of the road” will be familiar to anyone who grew up listening to Ernie Harwell, but I don’t recall hearing it anywhere else. Likewise, “Right down Woodward.” I never knew ball players called RBIs “steaks” until Rod Allen became the TV color man on Tiger broadcasts. Baseball slang can be as original as a crossword theme.

@michiganman - Fewest games watched since 2003. Having the option to watch only the victories is better for the old rabid Tiger fan BP. I’m almost as likely to click on the Astros game as a Tiger game, especially if JV is pitching. Re-hiring the now available Dombrowski would give me some hope for a quicker rebuild. Avila seems competent but seems to be missing that little something extra that makes great GMs great GMs.

mmorgan 11:12 AM  

Yes, this was on the easy side but I enjoyed it. No trouble whatsoever with DOWN THE PIPE. Sure, "down the pike" may be more common, but DOWN THE PIPE is a far from rare or unusual baseball term. (Out of curiosity, I just googled "down the pipe" and interestingly, there are lots and lots of "down the pipe vs. down the pike" hits.)

Besides, "down the pike" would have been a terrible revealer. (Hee hee.)

mmorgan 11:19 AM  

Those who complain that "down the pipe" is an obscure baseball term might enjoy listening to Dennis Eckersley during a Red Sox game. He regularly says things like "That hair had some cheese in it" to describe a pitch, or a pitcher who relies on "educated salad." Several times last night, he noted, "He's a pair of shoes." Fun stuff!!

BobL 11:29 AM  

Baseball - playing, watching, listening for decades - always PIPE. I never heard pike in baseball.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

well... here in Effete Eastern Elocution, it really is PIKE. as in turnpike. they have them hereabouts. and in flyover country, where municipal/country piped water is from wells (rather than reservoirs), each one will have a water tower, or two. they're even here in the Boston suburbs; towns that aren't in the MDC. the Woburn W.R. Grace fiasco is memorable in these here parts. less so in Red Country. Trump will likely blame it on Lefties attacking bidnezz.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Down the pipe is a baseball term. My dad used it all the time. It describes a perfectly straight pitch, as if coming straight through a pipe.

Joe Dipinto 11:34 AM  

Constructor John Wrenholt discusses the PIPE/PIKE quandary at X-Word Info.

@Quasi -- I'm impressed. "Pipe Dream" is one of those R&H musicals that I know exists but know absolutely nothing about.

Simone 11:37 AM  

I often use water towers as reference points when giving directions, use to live a quarter mile past one, so I got that right away. Clock towers seem more like campus or small town features.

Unknown 11:39 AM  

Fun little Wednesday puzzle, even though it was easy.

JC66 12:09 PM  


RBIs.→ Ribbies .→ Rib Eyes →. Steaks

GILL I. 12:10 PM  

A nice enough Tuesday...Oh wait...It's HO HUM Wednesday. I wish it had the meat and potatoes of Monday - would've gone down the PIPE a bit easier.
All the good stuff has been talked about so I'll add the Sacramento WATER TOWER landmark. It has City of Trees painted on it and when you see it, you know you're minutes from downtown. It should say "City of Bay Area Ex Pats Who've Driven Our Cost of Living Through the Roof." I wish they'd go to Oregon or even Texas. Our once sleepy, uncongested, affordable City, is now a suburb. Albuquereque is looking better and better.
I'm in a pretty good mood after having watched Lucille Ball in Yours, Mine and Ours at 4 this morning. I had never seen it and it was cute. Loved seeing the "Frisco" (just to make Herb Caen mad) landmarks. Seeing Chinatown was cool beans except if you go now, half the store fronts are closed because of gouging by the landlords...(sigh).
Here's hoping for a funner Thursday....

Ben 12:10 PM  

"Down the pipe" is clearly referring to a note coming down a pitch pipe, which would give you the perfect (i.e., not approximate) pitch. Not everything is related to baseball, Rex ;p

Pete 12:28 PM  

@Z - I would suggest that your Lab/shepherd/CHOW mix has two discernable CHOW traits - the black tongue and the aversion to being held. My lab/chow mix had simultaneous dual personalities, the lab and the chow at the same time. You could be petting him and his tail would wag the happy lab wag at the same time he growled at you if you in any way were trying to change his position.

Anonymoose 12:34 PM  

Only the constructor knows.

Teedmn 12:59 PM  

Yes to an "easy" rating. I like that a FATAL attraction is probably a FATAL error. I liked the clue for 35A's NASA as a Launch party?

I did lose focus for a moment in the SE. I somehow overlooked the grayed squares in 45A. As L E A _ filled in, I couldn't come up with a Clue weapon, and only LEAf came to mind. Hmmm, in the library, with a leaf from a book, could cause a paper cut but not much of a weapon...Ah theme answer, ends in pipe. I suppose at some point I would have read the clue for 37D but ended up not needing to.

I wonder if any American Idol contestants who achieved STARDOM rue their decision.

Nice KEEN-SPLEEN cross in the NE.

I like your sophomore effort, John Wrenholt, thanks.

Masked and Anonymous 1:28 PM  

OIL, WATER, GAS … pipes.
*And* AIR, SODA … pipes.
yipes. This puztheme just refuses to pipe down!

A WedPuz with ATTITUDE. It's down-right SPIRITED.

staff weeject pick: PIE. Better clue, for this here puz: {All of the Pied Piper's dessert tray selections??}.
Lo. Primo weeject stacks, in the NE & SW.

HALF-pipe was the biggest yipe-pipe, at our house. Lost a few precious nanoseconds, especially since we didn't know the theme yet.

Thanx for droppin us a line, Mr. Wrenholt. Callin it a pip alone wouldn't quite do it justice. And congratz on yer soph puz creation, btw.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Anoa Bob 1:51 PM  

@Roo, first noticed how convenient adding the letter S to a word can be for getting a grid filled when I first tried my hand at constructing xwords around 2008. Then I realized that there are many ways to boost an entry's letter count and grid-filling power. Finally tried to list these in the Letter Count Inflation blog in 2014.

The common thread for LCIs is they take up more space without adding a commensurate amount of value or interest to the puzzle. They just make it easier to fill the grid.

From the LCI blog: I think LCI's are like abbreviations, partial phrases, foreign words, random Roman numerals, crosswordese, and the like. Any of these used judiciously to facilitate filling the grid of an otherwise excellent puzzle would be unremarkable and above reproach. It's when they are used excessively that, for me, they become intrusive and degrade the overall quality and integrity of the puzzle, and diminish my enjoyment of the solving experience.

Z 2:10 PM  

For @Cassieopia

@mmorgan - I wonder what Eck had to say about Mike Fiers, one facial hair expert to another.

@JC66 - Of course, I probably should have made that clear. Obvious once I heard it, but not everyone watches too much baseball.

@Pete - My guy is so not alpha dog that the chihuahua actually dominates more often than not, so no growling (except when he sees the neighborhood cat - The hackles go up and the growling and barking commence). But he is pretty obviously unhappy whenever somebody tries to hold him. I suspect you’re right, that aversion is probably the chow. Otherwise smart like a German Shepherd and gregarious like a Lab.

john towle 3:37 PM  

Down the pike all I’ve ever heard…By Saam, Hall of Fame announcer of the Phil’s & A’s In Philadelphia, Vin Scully, Dodgers & today’s greats: Jon Miller & Kruk & Kuip, the brilliant present-day gents for the San Francisco Giants (never Frisco…I loved Herb Caen). New subject: The person with the oboe…a wooden pipe with holes also gives the tuning note for symphony orchestras (and some concert bands, although it’s more commonly the clarinet for bands) Twice a week for me at our band & orchestra rehearsals.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

@Curious Georgette - I have a good answer as to why there was a lack of "Some" in the clue. Unfortunately, I got that answer years ago from @Z, so you don't want to hear it, no?

Michiganman 4:09 PM  

@Z, I'm proud if I'm your sock puppet (Whatever Curious Georgette9:38 AM means by that). This holds even if you are really Rex. Har!

albatross shell 4:41 PM  

A PIPE SPEWS on occasion adding to the PIPE count. RINSE water goes down the drain PIPE"

Also "Be in store for", AWAIT, reflects the most usage for (coming) DOWN THE PIPE.

@curiousgeorgette on some usage
I think this puzzle used 'some' correctly.
A 'greenheaded duck' is a MALLARD. The clue is correct. Male or not does not matter. But only some errors or attractions are FATAL, so the some is necessary. I think puzzles are not always this precise, I wish they were.

pabloinnh 4:43 PM  

I watch way more baseball than I need to but not as much as I want to, and I've always heard it as "down the pipe", usually after a 3-0 pitch--"And that one's right down the pipe for strike one.".

I'm with @mmorgan on how much fun Eck is. Pair of shoes" is his latest, describing a batter who's struck out looking. See also "going bridge" (home run) and "iron" (money), among others. Original baseball talk is hard to find.

Used to smoke a pipe, cigarettes too, and gave all that up 35 years ago. Nasty habit. (Note correct use of "nasty".)

Good fun stuff, JW. Crank up the difficulty a skosh on your next one.

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

@Z/michiganman: From Wikipedia -“A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term, a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock, originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an Internet community who spoke to, or about, themselves while pretending to be another person.[1]The term now includes other misleading uses of online identities, such as those created to praise, defend or support a person or organization,[2] to manipulate public opinion,[3] or to circumvent ... ” I think that’s what Georgette meant. I don’t think anyone who pays attention to these comments think you are Sharp.

gilly 5:18 PM  

Like shots, CHASERS also go "Down the pipe."

A pipe in Clue used to CLUB someone. Pipes may suffer DENTS.

And a MALLARD looking for a mate will show off his pipes.

Also liked the SHADY STEPS pointing to the reveal.

pabloinnh 5:52 PM  

Hey D--

How did we miss something as famous as

Oh Danny boy,
The pipes, the pipes are callin'.....

Curious Georgette 5:53 PM  

@albatross shell- Thanks. Makes sense.

Theodore Hickman 7:01 PM  

Characters say “pipe dream” no fewer than 46 times in The Iceman Cometh.

Pete 7:29 PM  

MALLARD drakes have green heads. So do Wood Ducks, Northern Shovelers, and about 1/2 the head of a Wigeon. So, some ducks that have green heads are Mallards, and some Mallards have green heads. Seems "some" would have been appropriate.

Anonymous 7:54 PM  

Insipid. Traveled NW to SE with no erasures.

Anonymous 9:44 PM  

Can someone explain why "LEFT" is the answer for the clue "Split"? That one has me puzzled.

Joe Dipinto 10:12 PM  

@pablo – I don't know! Because we're not Irish? We can cram in a couple more before midnight:

♪ Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me
Twice on the pipe if the answer is no ♪

Pipeline by the Chantays

Nancy 10:53 PM  

@Quasi -- Joe D (11:34) may not know "Everybody's Got a Home But Me" but I do! I remember every single word. I used to play it (badly, admittedly, not being one of the world's most promising child pianists) on the piano. But if you ever get to NYC, let's sing a duet. No piano, I promise, unless you play it. It's actually a song I sing quite well because the melody is so deliciously simple and the range is so wonderfully limited. :)

Anonymous 11:08 PM  

Can someone explain why "LEFT" is the answer for the clue "Split"? That one has me puzzled.

well... Kooky (of 77 Sunset Strip) said the second rather than the first as he went out the door.

kps 6:29 AM  

Monday! Monday! But made me feel skillful...

Burma Shave 10:08 AM  


LETME toss this AWARD TOO you, right DOWNTHEPIPE.


rondo 10:24 AM  

Poor, sheltered Rex. When you get away from metro population centers, often the first indication that you are approaching a town is when you espy that town’s WATERTOWER. Is it a landmark? Yes, and sometimes more than others, check this out (OLE would like it):


I’ve played ball all of my life and DOWNTHEPIPE is very commonly used to describe the perfect pitch. Don’t understand how anyone familiar with the game could not know it or not have heard of it (lookin’ at you @Anoa Bob).

LETME say this was the easiest puz so far this week. LEAD PIPE cinch.

spacecraft 12:33 PM  

For some reason my eyes first focused on "Spanish_____ (historic site in Rome)", which I knew to be STEPS--and there was the descending staircase in gray! Imagine my surprise when I found out that the gray had nothing to do with STEPS! I suppose that the shape might have something to do with a Rube Goldberg device, or maybe the water main in San Francisco...

Anyway, it wasn't long till I figured out the PIPE deal. I'm reminded of "Murder on the Orient Express," in which Albert Finney's Poirot calls it a "peep." Good stuff. It seems improbable that OFC should miss the OIL/GAS/AIR/WATER aspect of the theme, but he must have. This is rich, and STOVEPIPE hats off to Mr. Wrenholt for pulling this off--and with nothing worse than the RHST (random high school test) LSAT to mar the fill.

DOD might have been Ludwig's ELISE; haven't seen a portrait. Better go with any of the distaff OBAMAs. I liked the symmetrical entries SPIRITED ATTITUDE; also like that DIS sits right atop ATTITUDE. As there is an AERIE in the grid, might as well give him an eagle to roost there.

leftcoast 3:21 PM  

Neat, clean, and clever simplicity-- right DOWNTHEPIPE, in other words.

Hesitated on TERA (thought first of kila- and mega-), wondered about OWIE (same as a "boo-boo"?, maybe so in baby-talk), and TROD (a bit light for "trampled"). ATTITUDE took some crosses to complete a good quote. Vaguely heard of CHI.

GASSTATION and WATERTOWER make an apt pairing, as do AERIE and AIRSHIPS.

Lightly entertaining, not HOHUM.

Diana, LIW 3:38 PM  

Like @Spacey, the STEPS threw me for a moment, but only a moment.

@Rondo - quite the cute water tower - more folks should follow that example and get clever with their designs. A wasted space/opportunity, in my opinion.

Easy like Tuesday morning - that's how I felt today.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

john 12:18 PM  

Nice blog world update daily

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