F R I D A Y   December 10, 2010
Don Gagliardo

Theme: Something about Stock Options

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Shrink for a noted Vulcan? (SPOCK ANALYST).
  • 29A: Reason for a laundry odor? (SOCK ISSUE).
  • 37A: Neighborhood garage sales? (SCHLOCK MARKET).
  • 45A: Collection for an artist's garment? (SMOCK FUND).
  • 56A: Some employee benefits, and this puzzle's title (STOCK OPTIONS).
I'm just gonna come right out and say it: This theme doesn't make any sense to me. So there are phrases where the word "stock" is replaced by a word that rhymes with "stock" for some reason. The added words don't seem to have anything else in common and there isn't any consistency in the way they were changed. To top it all off, the whole mess is explained by the phrase STOCK OPTIONS. What the heck am I missing here?

  • 14A: "Rendezvous With __": Hugo-winning Arthur C. Clarke novel (RAMA). Never heard of this book. Also, isn't it weird that there's a literary award named after Hugo Chavez?
  • 17A: Gp. dissolved 12/26/1991 (USSR). The "group" designation really threw me off here. I was thinking the answer would be a company. I briefly considered that it might be a band, but "dissolved" isn't really the right word for a band break-up.
  • 24A: What serious players play for (KEEPS). Cute clue.
  • 28A: Act that gets you a hand (DEAL). As I was solving, I took this clue/answer pair to mean that if you undertake and action that results in a DEAL, it's sealed with a handshake. It wasn't until I was reviewing the puzzle for this write-up that it's just referring to playing cards.
  • 43A: "This American Life" radio host Glass (IRA). I don't listen to "This American Life" religiously, but I catch it once in a while. One of my favorite episodes ever is the one where this guy tells a story about a voice-mail message a student at Columbia got from his mom that went, well … basically the equivalent of "viral" back before the Internet really caught on. Back then the students could forward voice-mail messages on to other people and this particular message made the rounds to everyone on campus. The guy telling the story talks to a bunch of the people who heard the message and then (yay!) actually finds a recording of it. It's really very funny. If you're interested, the episode is called "Recordings for Someone." Google it!
  • 64A: It precedes di or da, in a Beatles song (OB-LA). Thanks for the ear worm!
  • 67A: Roulette bet (NOIR). French!
  • 3D: Marathoner's lament (I'M SORE). I'm sure this is a fine, fine answer, but I have to say that I'm pretty sure I could come up with at least 50 other "laments" that would be more realistic than this one. "These freaking blisters are killing me," "I really have to pee," "Oh God, why did I think this would be a good idea?" …. Just sayin'.
  • 13D: Artificial locks (WIG). I tried "rug" first, which caused all kindsa confusion over in that section.
  • 21D: Infant who escaped Krypton (KAL-EL). I can never remember if it's KAL-EL or "Kel-Al." Mnemonic anyone?
  • 30D: Orson, e.g., in a '70s-'80s sitcom (ORKAN). And that, ladies and gentlemen, is today's installment of "Mork and Mindy Trivia."
  • 59D: Broccoli relative (KALE).
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 15A: "Brusha, brusha, brusha" toothpaste (IPANA).
  • 16A: Morlock fare (ELOI).
  • 8D: First-year law student (ONE-L).
  • 11D: UN workers' agcy. (ILO).
  • 54D: Dizzying genre (OP-ART).
  • 55D: Nicholas I and II, e.g. (TSARS).
  • 57D: Hawaiian food fish (OPAH).
  • 62D: Reggae precursor (SKA).
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Everything Else — 1A: Smart (CHIC); 5A: Use a user ID (LOG ON); 10A: Look at (VIEW); 18A: Hybrid big cat (LIGER); 19A: Half an ice grabber (TONG); 23A: Feature of Incan farms (TERRACE); 33A: Dry, as wine (SEC); 35A: Untrained (RAW); 36A: TV production co. whose mascot was Mimsie the Cat (MTM); 42A: Point (AIM); 44A: Fin. neighbor (NOR.); 49A: "Tiny Toon Adventures" bunny (BABS); 52A: Mount also known as Horeb (SINAI); 53A: Exterminate (ROOT OUT); 60A: Slung food (HASH); 63A: Initial strategy (PLAN A); 65A: Sommer of "A Shot in the Dark" (ELKE); 66A: Many a surfer (AOL'ER); 68A: Diamond spoiler (FLAW); 69A: 1954 event coded as "Castle Bravo" (H-TEST); 70A: Lushes (SOTS); 1D: Pie maker's pride (CRUST); 2D: Locked, in a way (HASPED); 4D: Traffic blocker (CAR CRASH); 5D: Bath salt fragrance (LILAC); 6D: Speaks one's mind (OPINES); 7D: Infatuated (GAGA); 9D: Not even one, with "a" (NARY); 10D: Chevy sportsters ('VETTES); 12D: Two or more eras, in geologic time (EON); 22D: Jet __ (SKI); 25D: Salinger title girl (ESME); 26D: Green stroke (PUTT); 27D: Where to study for a Th.D. (SEM.); 31D: Word with nanny or web (CAM); 32D: Nine-time U.S. skating champ (KWAN); 34D: Hairdo (COIF); 37D: Ventura County's __ Valley (SIMI); 38D: "Let's go!" ("C'MON!"); 39D: French wine term (CRU); 40D: Many an Asimov character (ROBOT); 41D: Three-course military supplies (K RATIONS); 42D: Symbol of stubbornness (ASS); 46D: Some kind of nut (CASHEW); 47D: Tool holder (KIT); 48D: Goes on monotonously (DRONES); 50D: Playground mishap (BOO-BOO); 51D: Bright, as a porch (SUNLIT); 58D: Lump (CLOT); 60D: Mag mogul with a mansion (HEF); 61D: __-American (ALL).


Van55 said...

OK, I agree that the theme is a bit off.

But there's hardly a bad answer in the grid, and it was just the right difficulty for me today.

I approve.

imsdave said...

I liked the theme and theme reveal (but, then again, this may not be my strong suit). As Van so succintly put it (in the words of BEQ), I approve.

SethG said...

I think you pretty much got it. I'd add that calling neighborhood sales a market is a bit of a stretch.


Virginia C said...

I agree, didn't like the theme answers at all. I too was fouled up by "Gp. disolved.... kept thinking it was some U.N. group. I have no idea where that came from but hey, it was early!

*David* said...

Huh, I kept looking for a theme, but this is way too tenuous and haphazard to work for me. Sorry a themed puzzle has to work cleaner then this, I can't approve, back to the drawing board.

Tinbeni said...

With STOCK OPTIONS as the theme reveal, something that has kept me in the USA, as I contemplate a return to a former USSR, and allowed me to become 'semi-retired' and the word-play on it, this may be my favorite LAT ever.

Also enjoyed the shout-out to my pseudo-persona, SOT ...

ELKE and ASS, is that a mini-theme?

AOLER for "Many a (web) surfer" seemed a bit passe.

All-in-all, a FUN Friday.

Cheers to everyone at Sunset.

Anonymous said...

the theme is NY stock exchange..

stock analyst
stock issue
stock market
stock fund
stock options.....

i dont get schlock????

Rex Parker said...

The rhymes are "OPTIONS" only if what you are deciding to do is misspell "STOCK." Weird.

I still liked it OK.


Avg Joe said...

I'm sort in the "Meh" camp on this one. Agree with Seth that lack of a shock exchange was a glaring omission. And as Rex points out, it's strained.

I did get a big kick out of Ork being featured a second day in a row. Hang ups were mixing up the skater with the river (Kwan/Kwai) and I don't recall seeing OPAH clued as a food fish.

The ear worm in the Beatles tune also got me. But I fixed it with this:


Now if only the politicians arguing on the hill would be forced to listen to this song 10 times a day. :-)

Crosscan said...

Superman's last name is El. All of his girlfriends also have "EL" names - Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris etc.

v-man said...

Overall, I'd give it a B- because of the clunker answers: shlock market and aoler as well as the gp. cluing for USSR. It was more of a misleading clue than a difficulty issue. They can't hit them out of the park everytime.

twg said...

Man, tough crowd today. I thought the theme was pretty clever. Any puzzle with LIGER is a winner with me. It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like a lion and a tiger mixed... bred for its skills in magic (see: Napolean Dynamite)


Bonjour y’all!

A really stupid theme, but a fun puzzle nevertheless.
I actually like the sub-theme better: SCI-FI words:
- Mr. SPOCK from Star Trek fame.
- H. G. Wells creature, ELOI
- Superman’s birth name, KAL-EL
- Mork & Mindy’s alien from the planet Ork, ORKAN
- Asimov’s ROBOT which Honda now uses in their commercials as ASIMO

And, I loved once again being reminded of---
The Beatles-OBLA Di Obla Da.

And, BOO BOO for a “Playground mishap” is cute.

Some new words for me relating to wine: SEC and CRI… some good crosswordese for me to remember.

I agree with you PG, the theme seemed to be all over the place, and the word “group” certainly doesn’t typify a government. Maybe the word HASH can best describe the theme.

I don’t know, on one hand I think this was a poorly constructed puzzle, but on the other hand, it entertained me, so I guess it’s good Friday bill-of-fare.

Got a late start on this puzzle because I had to shovel out the snow from my driveway before I went out for breakfast. Eat your heart out you Floridians!


I had USFL (The United States Football League) for 17A till I realized that that Gp. dissolved in 1987, finally I succumbed to the crappily clued USSR.

a guy said...

If group doesn't work here, does it work for OPEC or OAS? Or are those also frequently clued crappily?

C said...

I liked today's puzzle, the theme was ... quirky and different enough to capture my attention. Not many gimme answers but nothing esoteric like 'truckler' or that famous city near Provence town, Truro.

Rube said...

I agree re the weird theme. About the "Gp." issue, remember that the U of USSR is for Union. FWIW, Rendevous with RAMA appeared in an NYT puzzle last month.

Personally, my dislike was HASPED. I'd look it up, but I would still dislike it even if that was an alternate meaning to "locked".

Guess I'll have to read "For ESME - with Love aned Squalor". Apparently a hole in my literary knowledge.

Good Friday puzzle. Most enjoyable, and DNHTG.

Sfingi said...

Oddly, I got all the theme though I HTG for much fill. LIGER, BABS, MIMSIE, KALEL, ORKAN (wanted Orson BeAN), and Castle Bravo. So, I learned a lot, thought most was fictional.

Did not like AOLER or BOOBOO (had Bruise).

Houston_Brit said...

I had TUMBLE for playground mishap as I got OBLA straight away - stuck with it forever till I had answers that just wouldn't fit and to change it. Didn't like the theme, too obscure, left me shaking my head when I was done, dislike "goofy" words in xword puzzles.

ddbmc said...

Ex dad, was a former stock broker, so caught on quickly to theme, without the reveal. Agree with @RP on the "options" for morphing (or mutilating?) the word "stock." @SethG's SHOCKEXCHANGE might have been the better choice here--(My brother and I used to torture each with the winter build up SOCK static...point, AIM finger and ZAP!

Not a bad Friday. LIGER! Vote for Pedro! (other pols aren't any better!)
captcha: extood-1)no longer understand 2)Fallen

Tuttle said...

Loved the sci-fi mini theme. Hated the French answers. As per usual.

I thought Castle Bravo was an H-bomb TEST, not a genetic haplotype detection method.

CorVETTES are sports-cars (or, to be more precise, 'berlinettas'). Sportsters are Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Oh, and due to an article I read this morning my initial answer to "Marathoner's Lament" was quite gross.

Alex said...

AOLER blew chunks if you ask me (not that anyone has). I had CLOT, OPART, and HTEST penciled in, knew I'd either have to guess or look up the fish, even with OP_H, and had even figured out that "surfer" probably referred to web surfing--but _OLER totally confounded me. I mean, do people still actually use AOL to dial up the Internet and, ahem, surf? From now on, if they're going to reference AOL, I think they should do so in a historical context. Also, what's with two days in a row with the Mork and Mindy references?

I had no problem with the theme, though.

Anonymous said...

The Hugo Awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, a famous magazine editor who did much to bring science fiction to a wider audience. Gernsback founded Amazing Stories, the first major American SF magazine, in 1926. He is widely credited with sparking a boom in interest in written SF. In addition to having the Hugo Awards named after him he has been recognized as the “Father of Magazine SF” and has a crater on the Moon named after him.

SethG said...

I'm pretty sure they're named after Victor Hugo. But yeah, everyone should read Esme.

The whole collection is worthwhile, but if you just want Esme it's here.

John Wolfenden said...

Interesting discussion about whether "group" works for the USSR. It was a union of republics, but always thought of as a single unit.

The United States would never be considered a group, even though it's a republic and the states are semi-autonomous in that they can pass their own laws.

You could argue that "group" is more appropriate for the USSR since it was really a crazy quilt of territories and ethnic groups kept together only by an iron-fisted autocratic government.

haux said...

the EL in Superman's home name refers to, i think, the idea of Kal being an angel, as the angels have the -el suffix: Uriel, Michael, Gabriel, &c.

so, the mnemonic can be that he is a kind of an angel.

Lemonade714 said...

El in Hebrew means of G-d, hence the "EL" in those names, and in KAL EL and his father JOR EL and the comic was created by nice Jewish boys.

mac said...

Not a great puzzle. Oddly enough, I did the puzzle, read the wrute-up and the comments, and then forgot to post! I think I was a little bored.

Burner10 said...

I've had a wicked time getting the chats to load on my blackberry but today patience was rewarded. Iwas in pretty good puzzle form today (vs yesterday) and the commentary has definately added to the fun...
Wishes for a happy weekend ahead for all.

gespenst said...

I guess the themes have different misspelled "options" for "stock." Theme didn't bother me too much.

Can't say how much I hate AOLER though ... I never used AOL and know few who still do. Maybe FBER is the new USER (facebooker, lol).

I didn't have a problem w/ USSR being referred to as a group ... but maybe that's because I got it right off, ;) Having been in Berlin shortly before the wall came down in 1989 makes that a relevant life experience for me, and the fall of the USSR was soon after.

I was thinking of the handshake after the DEAL, too ... thanks for clearing that one up :)

Not a bad puzzle, but I'm not sure it was Friday-worth. Maybe Wednesday?

Des and Evan's big daddy said...

For Superman's name, I remember that he is the "Man of Steel", not steal.