T U E S D A Y   December 21, 2010
Steve Salitan

Theme: Rain, Rain, Go Away — Theme answers end with words that can describe rain.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Throat soothers (COUGH DROPS).
  • 23A: Edible pastry decorations (CAKE SPRINKLES).
  • 47A: High-quality bed linen (PERCALE SHEETS).
  • 57A: Wet bar containers (ICE BUCKETS).
  • 65A: Phenomenon described by the ends of 17-, 23-, 47- and 57-Across (RAIN).

I had some issues with this puzzle. I really like the theme and three out of the four theme answers are fine. But, CAKE SPRINKLES? I don't think I've ever heard them called that. Obviously not scientific or definitive in any way, but if you Google the term in quotation marks, you'll only get about 19,000 hits. Without the quotation marks (which to my mind means you're finding the same thing — i.e., sprinkles you'd use to decorate baked goods — but not insisting they be called by the specific phrase) gets you more than 700,000. I was just about to say that I know a bunch of you are foodies, but it occurred to me that's Rex's blog that has all the foodie commenters. Do we have any foodies over here? Well, I'd be interested to hear from anyone who didn't bat an eye over CAKE SPRINKLES.

I also don't think I've ever heard the phrase DRONE BEE (31A: Stingless male), but I'm much more willing to believe that's a real thing that I've simply never heard of. PASTA-RONI tripped me up (5A/60A: Noodle product derived from "The San Francisco Treat!") because I wanted it to be Rice-a-Roni, which obviously isn't a noodle product, but when I see "San Francisco Treat" it gets the Rice-a-Roni jingle going in my head and I can't really focus on anything else. I honestly didn't even notice that the clue said "noodle."

To me, the YEHUDI / GELID / ALTAI section bears more than a passing resemblance to a train wreck (46D: Violinist Menuhin / 61A: Very cold / 64A: Asia's __ Mountains). The D and I were total guesses and there was no one more surprised than me that they turned out to be right.

For all my complaining, there were, however, a few nice medium-to-long answers in the grid. SPACKLE is fun to say (10D: Wall hole filler), as is BATHSHEBA (32D: King David's wife) and PYRRHIC (45A: Like a costly victory), though I admit I needed a couple crosses to confirm the spelling on that last one.

All in all, a nice theme idea and a couple of sparkly words didn't make up for the not-great theme execution and the decidedly non-Tuesday mash-up in eastern Texas. Unfortunately, I'd have to say I'm not a big fan of this puzzle. I'm eager to hear your thoughts in the comments and I leave you with this:

[55D: "Help __ the way!" (IS ON)]

Crosswordese 101: SKAT is CrossWorld's favorite card game, and this is what you need to know about it: (1) it's played with 32 cards, (2) all cards are higher than six, (3) it's played with three hands, (4) it's German, (5) it involves taking tricks and has trump cards.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:

  • 62A: Saragossa's river (EBRO).
  • 12D: Mountain ridge (ARETE).
  • 25D: __ avis (RARA).
  • 41D: Purim's month (ADAR).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: It has more than 5,000 feet (MILE); 10A: Game with trump cards (SKAT); 14A: Tehran's land (IRAN); 15A: "A work of __ a confession": Camus (ART IS); 16A: Whittle (PARE); 19A: Help in a holdup (ABET); 20A: Raggedy doll (ANN); 21A: Stackable cookie (OREO); 22A: Not chronic, as illness (ACUTE); 27A: Hurting the most (ACHIEST); 29A: Going badly in the mil.? (AWOL); 30A: Answer (REPLY); 35A: Org. in Tom Clancy books (CIA); 36A: Gonzalez in 2000 news (ELIAN); 38A: Send packing (AXE); 39A: Ancient Roman language (OLD LATIN); 42A: Exxon competitor (CITGO); 44A: Eve's partner (ADAM); 51A: Dislike and more (ABHOR); 52A: __ scale: talc-to-diamond (MOHS); 53A: Yokohama yes (HAI); 56A: SpongeBob, e.g. (TOON); 60A: See 5-Across (RONI); 63A: Swedish furniture giant (IKEA); 1D: Isinglass (MICA); 2D: It's pumped in gyms (IRON); 3D: Liftoff spot (LAUNCH PAD); 4D: Class with vocab. lists (ENG.); 5D: West Coast team in the 1998 World Series (PADRES); 6D: Collar, as a thug (ARREST); 7D: Small porch (STOOP); 8D: Service reward (TIP); 9D: Beast of burden (ASS); 11D: Afghanistan's capital (KABUL); 13D: French noodles? (TÊTES); 18D: Fake (HOKEY); 22D: Soon, to the bard (ANON); 24D: Plague (AIL); 26D: Victorious shout (I WON); 27D: Sacramento's __ Arena (ARCO); 28D: Provide with a roof (CEIL); 31D: Clamor (DIN); 33D: Military vet (EX-G.I.); 34D: Job rights agcy. (EEOC); 36D: End-of-list abbr. (ET AL.); 37D: Green wedge in a gimlet (LIME); 40D: New Hampshire city known for its annual motorcycle week (LACONIA); 42D: Getting gradually louder, in mus. (CRESC.); 43D: Subway under B'way (IRT); 45D: Irrational fear (PHOBIA); 47D: Father: Pref. (PATRI-); 48D: Digital novel (EBOOK); 49D: River of Lyons (RHONE); 50D: Refine, as ore (SMELT); 54D: Longfellow's bell town (ATRI); 57D: Supermarket chain with a red-and-white logo (IGA); 58D: Animation frame (CEL); 59D: Plop lead-in (KER-).


Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl, Loved the write-up.

I'm sure the RAIN theme is welcomed by those in Southern California.

Had the same reaction to CAKE SPRINKLES but I'm a gamer ... I'll eat anything.

Almost done-in by the YEHUDI/GELID crossing.
When I say it's Very cold, GELID, here in Dunedin ...
I can hear @JNH laughing-out-loud saying:
"Yeah, Right Tin ... come to Chicago ... 42 as your Low would be a great High for us!"

Always like seeing the old Company, CIA, in the grid.

E-BOOK, Digital novel, well I just stick with the 'old-fashion' ones from my library.

Double toast tonight.
First, my Sunset at 5:40 pm.
Then the Winter Solstice at 6:38 pm.
Cheers !!!

Dick said...

captcha: prenero
I wanted to type claudius.
Got hung up on the same letters and had to go to the "fill in the blanks" crossword clues site.

Hirosagi Kawabona said...

The drone bee
sans stinger, sans worker
is just an old man.

Howard B said...

Time for Random Mental Lint:
- The "Cake Wrecks" pic is great. I want sprinkles too, just maybe not quite as literally.
- I've had Pasta-Roni before. Stick to real pasta, or at least Rice-a-Roni. In a food emergency, though, it'll work.

- While traveling in Germany for a few days, I saw Skat card decks for sale in several storefronts across a few cities. It was eerily cool. Too bad I didn't take the time to pick one up as a souvenir, but we chose to invest instead on lots of Gummi Bears for friends and family. Pretty good choice, really.

- Lastly, LACONIA??

Sfingi said...

@Hirosagi - and a dead man, ANON.

I had all sorts of problems with this one. HTG for ARCO (sports), but I would probably have got it by crosses if the word near it was one I'd ever heard of: CEIL. I know a girl named CEIL.

Also, never heard of HOKEY. and had HOoEY, but also I never heard of CAKE SPRINKLES. We just call 'em SPRINKLES. I imagine a good number of men don't call them anything. So, I had CAoE SPRINKLES. I did have the PADRES, since I vaguely heard of them.

Never heard of PASTA RONI, but got it.

Threw in an A at 64, but ALTAI and IGA were a Natick for me. Looked up IGA after and the nearest one is 75 miles away, in the Adirondacks.

Don't know LACONIA. Do know frANCONIA where the disappeared old man is - the one that's still on the license plates and nickels. This is the problem with NH. With only 17K population, it's its 8th largest city! Maybe it's laconic.

So, for a Tues., difficult for me.

Speaking of captchas: submulti, an interesting concept.

Van55 said...

LACONIA's population was 16451 in 2000. NATICK's was 32170. I happened to know the former because I spent quite a few vacations on Lake Winnipesauki (sp).

Liked the theme. Didn't bat an eye at CAKESPRINKLES. Though I have never heard the referred to as such, I completely understood the concept.

All in all, I thought this was quite an enjoyable puzzle.


Good puzz... it's not RAIN RAIN go away here... it's SNOW SNOW go away. And it's very GELID here too.
Can't write much cuz i gotta go do the snowblowing.

New WOTD for me: PYRRHIC

Have fun y'all !

Eric said...

Here I was feeling a bit embarrassed because I started to put YTZHAK [sic] instead of YEHUDI until I realized the H was in the wrong place -- MOHS was a gimme, and YEHUDI should have been. But I don't feel so bad now.
The rest of the downs in that area were pretty much gimmes too, so I ended up getting GELID and ALTAI from all crosses without even really noticing them.

What tripped me up was the LACONIA x PERCALE SHEETS natick. The crossing C was my last letter -- and I had to do an alphabet run for it, so that means I have to give myself a DNF. On a Tuesday. I should be embarrassed again, but I'm not.

I'd never heard of OLD LATIN, but it turns out it's totally legit.
Agree with @Van55 about CAKE SPRINKLES.
Liked the IRON x IRAN cross, not for their meanings but just the pattern of the words.

This is definitely shaping up to be a hard week, puzzlewise. And weatherwise too, it sounds like...

Avg Joe said...

I don't know that I'd call it a train wreck, PG, but I didn't enjoy it that much. Also thought it was VERY difficult for a Tuesday.

WOTD: Pyrrhic. Had no clue at all on that and DNF since I filled in an A for the Y. Cool word, though. Gotta admit that.

Cake Sprinkles just lays there, but didn't draw any serious protest. Same with Drone Bee. Laconia was a natick for me as well, but got it without doubts due to the crosses. Gelid is a bit arcane, but common enough to not hesitate. Altai falls under the same category.

I guess I like it better in retrospect than I did while working it. Still, no better than a C+.

SethG said...

There are LACONIAs in VA, AR, IN, and TN, too. None are large.

I think cake sprinkles become that when you put them on a cake. It's like sandwich mustard, which is just mustard that's been applied. In Pittsburgh, sprinkles are "jimmies". In other places, too, but I think in most of them it's just the chocolate ones.

I did like the thematic consistency and progression.

Tuttle said...

Here's what I don't get. We've got OLD LATIN (I prefer the term 'Archaic Latin' but either is acceptable) and we've got PYRRHIC. Both classical references (ADAR perhaps as well). We've got EBRO, RHONE and ALTAI, all European (Eurasian at least) geographical features.

And then we get LACONIA clued as a city in New Hampshire? It could have been clued as "Spartan homeland" and fit into both mini-themes.

CrazyCatLady said...

Is it Tuesday? The theme was apropos considering the weather here. We're in the SHEETS and BUCKETS stage. Did not like CAKE SPRINKLES. I'm in the middle of baking week and just call them sprinkles. They go on cookies. Also didn't like PERCALE for high quality sheets. Usually percale is a cotton/poly blend. "High thread count Egyptian or supima cotton sheets" is what I wanted. Had problems with ATRI, EBRO and HAI and also with IGA, GELID, ALTAI and YEHUDI. What a mess! WOTD=PYRRHIC. Ouch! Not a smooth solve today.

PG liked your write up better than the puzzle.

Time to fire up the oven again.

C said...

I totally guessed on the 'C' in the LA-ONIA/PER-ALESHEETS crossing, yay me, avoided the Tuesday DNF.

As a grad student, I lived off of PASTA-RONI. You could buy 2 for $0.99 and use only water to create your own Fettucini Alfredo though it was much better with a bit of margarine/milk when I could afford that.

*David* said...

Yay I had a DNF on a Tuesday with LACONIA/PERCALE and it doesn't bother me a bit. The rain theme in LA was apropos, this one has a lotta crosswordese especially on the bottom. Finished it pretty fast other then my guess square.

CarolC said...

I actually kind of liked the puzzle, probably because of the RAIN theme, so apt for another rainy day in SoCal. @PG, I liked the raindrops video.

Enjoyed seeing PYRRHIC, but also had to work the crosses to get the spelling right. @Tuttle, I agree on the missed opportunity for LACONIA.

@CrazyCatLady, I'm with you on the SHEETS. PERCALE?

And for those who worked the Sunday puzzle published in the LA Times, no doubt it's happenstance, but here's the 12th OREO to make a dozen without having to rely on a Hydrox.

Well currently the RAIN is coming down in DROPS, not SHEETS or BUCKETS, but at least it's not GELID.

captcha: exhston - When I'm too exhausted to put in all the vowels.

Happy Tuesday, all.

Anonymous said...

In Beijing, they don't call it Chinese Food - it's just 'food'.

Same thing with cake sprinkles - what if you just ate them out of the box? Or put them on cookies?

"asete": on the briny French Mediterranian ...

Argyle said...

The Sturgis of the East. The next Laconia Motorycle Week will be June 11-19, 2011. The city will be much bigger at that time.

Rex Parker said...

More than a passing resemblance to a train wreck. LACONIA = rewrite. CEIL = ditto. Nevermind the rest (which isn't great).

Agree w/ PG about CAKE SPRINKLES.


Rube said...

Personally, I didn't like ACHIEST and CEIL. "To ceil", a verb? Don't remember seeing GELID before, but it sounds legit. Percale and LACONIA were both lurking in the recess of the memory.

I thought that ARCO and IRT were both arcana beyond Tuesday level. Having lived in NYC and currently living in Califoornia, they were both gimmes for me, but still...

Laughed at another OREO this week. If anyone's interested, the OREO puzzle in the Sunday LAT is available on Merl Reagle's web site. Just Google for it.

John Wolfenden said...

Is CEIL really a transitive verb? I dunno. And HOKEY means trite or maudlin, not fake.

All in all the hardest Tuesday I can remember.

Avg Joe said...

@Rube, File this under "You can't argue with a sick mind": I always try IRT as a first entry anytime the clue refers to a NY subway. Even though I've never been there or even ridden on any subway. The reason? Hair!



Sfingi said...

@Average Joe
A Pyrrhic Victory is one in which you win, but lose or use up so much in the process that you shoulda stood in bed. Based on a BCE war against Rome. "Another such victory, and I am undone."

@Argyle - Great picture! But what's the Sturgis of the West? OSWOB

@Anon1056 - I call acoustic guitars, "guitars," and chapter books, "books." I could go on. I'm old.
And, I have eaten them from the jar.

Van55 said...

From dictionary.com:


–verb (used with object)
1. to overlay (the ceiling of a building or room) with wood, plaster, etc.
2. to provide with a ceiling.
Use ceil in a Sentence
See images of ceil
Search ceil on the Web


1400–50; late ME celen to cover, to panel < ?
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.

It's a perfectly legitimate, non-archaic transitive verb. It came to me immediatly during my solve, most likely because I have seen it in puzzles before -- certainly it's not a word that I remember using.

Avg Joe said...

For Tinbeni on the solstice. And anyone else that enjoys good piano. George Winston from his "December" album, Variations on the Canon.


Argyle said...

For Sfingi:

The Black Hills Motor Classic, commonly called the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, is held in Sturgis, South Dakota. The 71st Anniversary Sturgis Rally 2011, is August 8 - 14. Much warmer than June in New Hampshire.

Larry S said...

Too many strange unknown words for a Tuesday.
IGA x ALTAI = Natick ergo DNF.
Agree with @John Wolfenden, HOKEY does not mean fake, it means silly, old-fashioned, simplistically sentimental. Hooey or hokum would have been closer (but no cigar). Rewrite!
@Eric, why does an alphabet run mean DNF? Unless that means entering letter after letter in the online version ... not that _moi_ would ever do that!

Anonymous said...

@SF: Don't recommend eating guitars and books straight from the jar. Much better on cakes.

And, shoulda "stood' in bed - another dangerous pastime, or is 'stood' a pluperfect subjunctive?

Natick Schmatick said...

Unless you're an editor, you don't get to call for rewrites. Seems like this was just fine for at least one editor.

Suck it up, ya babies!

grayvlad said...

Had no problem with Cake sprinkles,
Answer I didn't like were mohs? What is it?


@Avg Joe
Thanks for the Pachelbel moment.

Avg Joe said...

I have to add to anon 3:44's comment. Can't help it.... I'm made that way

A traveling salesman has hailed a cab at Logan, and on the way into Boston inquires about a renowned local restaurant specialty. He asks the cabbie: "Hey buddy. Do you know where I can get scrod?"

The cab driver, after a pause, says: "You know what, I've been asked that question a thousand times. But I've never been asked in the pluplurative subjunctive."

Sfingi said...

@Anon344 -
1. I've been to SF 4x, but don't, ergo, call myself same.

2. Nowadays, SPRINKLES come in many shapes, including the aforenamed guitars and books, for obvious occasions. For religious events, they come in the shape of crosses, but no one will eat them.

3. The grammatical tense of "stood in bed," is in the rhymo-pasto, when used in the sense of "should a stood in."
I also like "I been done it," since it covers a situation not covered in common English; that is, "I got it done, if you haven't noticed, so don't bug me." This can be said to bosses, parents and teachers.

As the song says,
"Oh that I were what I would be, then would I be what I am not, here am I where I must be, go where I would, I cannot."

SethG said...

Why are comments about the (lack of) editing not fair?

In the bottom center, for example, you could change gelid/altai/iga/cel/smelt to something like solid/adlai/isa/cod/smell. Is that both better and more Tuesday~ish? I think so. Objectively so? Not necessarily, but for sure a fair topic for discussion.

Neither LACONIA nor CEIL is in an area that's all that hard to change in isolation. They're in there by choice; neither is forced into that area by constraints of the theme or anything I would consider flashy enough to make them worth keeping.

In summary, I know you are but what am I?

CrazyCatLady said...

As far as Laconia - I've been Franconia, NH pop. 1036 although there's also a Franconia County, I think.

Avg Joe Thanks for the Pachelbel and the scrod joke!

@SethG - Yeah, we're not babies.

mac said...

OK puzzle, where the theme and just 3 or 4 words were good.

Cake sprinkles? No, don't think so. Percale sheets? No way. I thought Pratesi (just found a complete set in just the right color at Home Goods. Pure Egyptian cotton, very hight thread count).

Eric said...

@LarryS: That's just it. A mental alphabet run is OK in my book, but typing 'em all in to see what fits, isn't -- and that's what I did have to do for that C. I should have been clearer.

@grayvlad: Hardness is one characteristic you can use to help identify a mineral sample (along with colour, crystal shape, and a few more). One way to measure hardness is with the MOHS scale. The way it works is that if mineral A can scratch mineral B, it's harder than B. (Non-mineral example: a carpentry nail can scratch a fingernail, but not vice versa.) The scale itself goes from 1 (soft) to 10 (hard), using ten specific minerals as reference points: talc=1, gypsum=2, calcite=3 ... corundum=9, and diamond=10. Fingernail has hardness 2.5, meaning that it scratches gypsum, but calcite scratches it. Not sure about the carpentry nail; elemental iron is 4, but nails aren't iron, they're steel, and different steels vary in hardness.


Changing "gelid/altai/iga/cel/smelt to something like solid/adlai/isa/cod/smell" would make this puzzle boring. Trading exciting words for run-of-the-mill words is NOT what I want to see.
Forget about trying to make a good challenging puzzle "more Tuesdayish"!

Wanda Woman said...

Oy, the GELID (new word for me) and IGA (never heard that one)cross left me up the creek without a paddle.

Funky puzzle.

NS said...

So you learned something! Is that so bad?

I can see people not knowing IGA in certain parts of the country, but GELID is a perfectly cromulent word.

And critiquing is fine, but calling for rewrites on an already published puzzle is a waste of time and an insult to both the editor and the constructor. Some of you are obviously WAY too big for your britches.

SethG said...

And the Altai Mountains of Mongolia? If, say, "smelt" is more exciting than "smell", why clue it as [Refine, as ore]. Or [Animation frame] for cel, yup, super exciting. IGA.

Would, say, laconic instead of Laconia have made this boring?

I would _love it_ if I could find pants that weren't too big for me.

Peter said...

With all respect to the constructor, Ick. Kinda surprised Rich N. liked this one.