FRIDAY, May 15, 2009 — Doug Peterson

— "COM" is stuck onto the beginnings of familiar phrases, creating wacky new phrases, which are then clued, "?"-style

Seems like kind of a throwaway idea for a constructor of Doug's caliber, but it still resulted in an enjoyable puzzle. None of the wacky phrases did very much for me — the coolest ones were also the ones that felt most forced — COMFORT APACHE (20A: Soothe Geronimo's people) sounds odd to me without the "S" on the end of APACHE, though clearly tribes can be referred to collectively without the "S." For some reason, more than other tribe names, APACHE strikes me as a singular ... like I picture an APACHE — one guy. I realize this is my idiosyncratic feeling about tribe names talking, but for whatever reason, COMFORT APACHE felt slightly off. "COMPLAIN, JANE" (43A: "If Tarzan's bothering you, speak up!") is inspired, but requires an absurd imperative interpretation. Still, as I say, I actually like those two, where COMMEND FENCES (52A: Speak highly of enclosures?) and COMBAT MOBILE (28A: Sherman tank, for one?) leave me cold. Is COMBATMOBILE supposed to be one word? Because a COMBAT MOBILE sound like a weaponized crib toy.

But many of the long Downs make up for the somewhat lackluster Acrosses. My favorite is MS. PACMAN (9D: Derivative '80s game in which one ghost's name was changed from Clyde to Sue), both because of its crazy consonant-heavy opening and because it's an important game in my life, or my sister's life, rather. If "Donkey Kong" was my game (and it was) then MS. PACMAN was my sister's. She owned that thing. We especially liked whenever we went to some new restaurant (usu. pizza parlor) that had the sit-down, table-top versions. Klassy. EVEL is such a common crossword answer, but you hardly ever see the much more colorful KNIEVEL (42D: Either of two notable jumpers). Great clue — EVEL's son ROBBIE is also a daredevil. COLERIDGE looks nice in the grid — coincidentally had a conversation about him yesterday with some grad students (former undergrad students of mine) who were all busily writing their final papers for one of their courses. THE HUB is an "Old" nickname? (10D: Old Boston nickname) Then how'd I get it so easily. It must still have some currency.

Crosswordese 101: ASTER (51D: Autumn blossom) — One of the first five-letter repeaters I committed to permanent memory early on in my crosswording career. Whenever I see one now (I only recently started paying attention to "nature" - on my walks in the woods with wife and dogs - and I see them all the time now), I instinctively think, and probably sometimes say out loud, "Fall bloomer," as that is the clue I most closely associate with the flower.

What else?
  • 10A: Dessert chain with Waffle Cone Wednesday? (TCBY) — Why did I want IHOP? Maybe the "Waffle" part had me thinking breakfast, briefly.
  • 35A: Crow cousin (daw) — Crosswordese 301. If I see this in a puzzle again, I'll write about it.
  • 37A: Spice often added to curries (cumin) — Ever since I got back from Costa Rica last month, I can't stop using this spice. It makes beans and rice (and related foodstuffs) awesome.
  • 64A: Letters from Plato (etas) — "From?" I get it, it's a Greek letter, but "from Plato" = ??
  • 2D: One may precede a blessing (achoo!) — A gimme. Also, a crossword staple.
  • 3D: Oldest of the Stooges (Shemp) — Huh. I can't say I've ever thought about their relative ages.
  • 8D: Ottawa-based law gp. (RCMP) — That's Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
  • 50D: "Thin Ice" star, 1937 (Henie) — The "ice" part was the giveaway. HENIE is 60% vowels and thus crossword gold.
  • 56D: She played Emma in "The Avengers" (Uma) — The horrible late-90s "Avengers" movie, not the TV show, obviously. Has UMA been Crosswordese 101 yet? If not ... expect her soon.
Enjoy the weekend. I'll be back Monday.


Everything Else — 1A: Iraqi seaport (BASRA); 6A: Detriment (HARM); 14A: Pigment of iron oxide (OCHER); 15A: Tolkien brutes (ORCS); 16A: Anorak feature (HOOD); 17A: See-through (SHEER); 18A: Office sub (TEMP); 19A: Lodge group (ELKS); 23A: Infield bounce (HOP); 24A: "___ first!" (YOU); 25A: Wedding setting (CHURCH); 31A: Bygone rulers (TSARS); 34A: Strong wagon (DRAY); 36A: DOJ employee (ATTY.); 39A: Fiend (OGRE); 40A: English site of a royal flush? (LOO); 41A: Hold one's own (COPE); 42A: Massage (KNEAD); 47A: Skillful pass (SPIRAL); 48A: Ocean State sch. (U.R.I.); 49A: Doo-wop syllable (SHA); 56A: River through Kazakhstan (URAL); 58A: Hippie's "Yeah, man!" (I DIG); 59A: Brag (VAUNT); 60A: Star followers (MAGI); 61A: Diamond complement (NINE); 62A: Money with hits (EDDIE); 63A: Top (APEX); 65A: Printer acronym (LASER); 1D: "The Garden of Earthly Delights" painter (BOSCH); 4D: Coral formation (REEF); 5D: Gulches (ARROYOS); 6D: Warm place to chill (HOT TUB); 7D: Subject matter (AREA); 11D: "Kubla Khan" poet (COLERIDGE); 12D: With 22-Down, Asian cabbage (BOK); 13D: Abbr. on a golf tee sign (YDS.); 21D: CD-__ (ROM); 22D: See 12-Down (CHOY); 26D: Bow in pictures (CLARA); 27D: Cut down (HEWED); 28D: Turn on the waterworks (CRY); 29D: Campaign creators (ADMEN); 30D: Half of sex- (TRI); 31D: Easily scratched minerals (TALCS); 32D: Condescend (STOOP); 33D: Era that began with a blast? (ATOMIC AGE); 37D: Montana resource site (COAL MINE); 38D: Press initials (UPI); 39D: Fused (ONE); 41D: Casino delicacy? (CLAM); 44D: Long-winded (PROLIX); 45D: Book that tells the story of Samson (JUDGES); 46D: Strip yip (ARF); 49D: Scoots along, as a cloud (SCUDS); 53D: Make changes to (EDIT); 54D: Ricci of fashion (NINA); 55D: Zilch (NADA); 57D: Good thing to beat (RAP).


Gareth Bain said...

So happy that I learned the word PROLIX a couple of months back, here it is in a crossword. From buying Nick Cave and the Bad Seed's "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!" album... the song "We Call Upon the Author to Explain" has the chorus line "Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can't fix!"

ETAS as "Letters from Plato" makes sense because in Plato manuscripts there'll be etas. That's how I parsed it anyway.

Henie was a new one for me, hopefully she'll stick in my memory for next time.

All in all I felt a good consist but not great theme, but lots of fun long entries make it shine!

Rex Parker said...

I know exactly why ETAS is clued that way. It's just lame, as clues go, because any Greek letter is "from Plato." Boo and hiss.

Barnfox said...

The themes make more sense when you parse them differently. Fort Apache, Batmobile, Plain Jane and Mend Fences.

Rex Parker said...

OK, maybe I'm not explaining myself clearly - I know exactly what the base phrases are. The whole idea of the theme, as I stated, is that COM- is added to familiar phrases (all the phrases that @Barnfox notes). Leaving the "COM-" off tells you what the orig. phrase is. But the resulting, final, COM- phrase has to be parsed correctly. That's what matters.


John said...

That Avengers movie was AWFUL!!!! The tv show will always be a classic.

I dont of ANY movie where the remake was better than the original.

Dairy Queen Had some sort of waffle cone deal.

Anonymous said...

#$#$#$#@! Sacrilege! There is no Emma but Diana! My entire pre-teen sexual awareness was based on her in that leather cat suit (preferably tied up, but that was optional). I had arguments with my sixth grade teacher when he suggested that they were trying to introduce more sex to the show with her replacement. More sex than Emma? Never!

This is the single most obscene abuse of "Let's come up with a new clue for ___" ever in the history of crosswords. Bad Doug!

Orange said...

Hey, Rex, have you tried sprinkling cumin on fresh tomato slices? A friend of mine recommends that. 'Tis almost the season for fresh garden tomatoes, so try that out. Oh, crap, I'm talking about food at a crossword blog.

Jeffrey said...

What kind of COMmie puzzle is this? And no more talk about red food.

ArtLvr said...

I saw that COM was starting the theme answers but it wasn't until COMPLAIN JANE and COMMEND FENCES that I went back and got the other two...

I thought it was a clever theme, cleverly done. Nice fill, with BOSCH and BOK CHOY, SCUDS and SHEMP, plus you hardly ever see JUDGES clued as Book!

hazel said...

This one just seemed phoned in for me - especially for a Friday. The clues seemed a little tired and the fill for the most part forgettable.

I do agree that CUMIN rocks as a spice - but the thought of putting it on a home grown tomato, no thank you. I'll keep an open mind though, when our tomatoes start coming in.

@Switters, as the tomato guru, do you have an opinion?

imsdave said...

@John - "The Fugitive"

@Anon 7:29 - never blame the constructor for a clue - the editor may have overridden his idea. Personally, I thought it was a good clue. I agree with you though - Diana Rigg was hot.

Brendan Emmett Quigley said...

I was slow on this one after nursing a hangover from the Animal Collective show last night. And I too used to own Ms. Pac Man, typically in the bar section of all the clubs we'd play when the band was on tour. Fun stuff. All my other friends are into the hardcore games nowadays, but me? I love me some 8-bit stuff.

gjelizabeth said...

Ah, nostalgia!
My grandfather raised prize ASTERs. My mother played at being Sonja HEINE on her backyard ice pond. PATEN brought back memories of a Catholic girlhood and my late husband loved all the early video games, including MSPACMAN, although Mr. Do was his absolute favorite. My favorite clues today were "Strip yip" ARF and "Casino delicacy" CLAM. Has anyone actually seen Clams Casino recently on a menu?

*David* said...

This one was a slog for me, I made every mistake I possibly could. I filled in ERA instead of AGE and CHAPEL instead of CHURCH, it went on and on. The frustrating part was after it was all done, it wasn't all that difficult.

I liked COLERIDGE and MS PAC-MAN, a game I was and still am quite good at. Maybe next time we can have a .com crossword.

Doug P said...

I don't remember whether the UMA clue was mine or Rich's, but it's been done many times before. If you're a Diana Rigg worshipper, pretend the clue was "She made a mockery of the role of Emma in 'The Avengers'" or something like that.

Our pizza parlor had table-top Ms. Pacman and Qix. Awesome!

jeff in chicago said...

A smooth completion for me, but I agree - the theme fill was kinda klunky. I threw in IHOP, but when HOP showed up I re-read the 10A clue and (properly) focused on the "dessert" part of it.

IDIG listening to some EDDIE Money in the HOTTUB. It's "Women WHo End In A" Day: UMA, NINA, CLARA. Are there more? NADA. Should one put CUMIN in their BOK CHOY? Foodies?

In other news: SHEMP is my favorite Stooge, and Diana Rigg my favorite Avenger.

Anonymous said...

Could someone explain 61 Across: Diamond complement- NINE?


ArtLvr said...

re: today's 20A clue, "Soothe Geronimo's people?" So very timely!

Did Doug know that Geronimo's great-grandson Harlyn is suing Obama, the Army, Yale and the independent secret society Skull and Bones? He wants Geronimo's skull, rumored to have been stolen from its Fort Sill burial place a few years after his death in 1909, to be returned and all the remains moved from OK to his homeland in NM.

@ anon -- baseball diamond, nine players per side


John said...


The Fugitive was a theatrical remake of a TV series. I meant Theatrical Movies only.

ButYes, It was much superior to the TV series.

Anonymous said...

One of my faves... I loved this crossword. Learned a new word: PROLIX. Now I have a more dignified adjective for V.P. Biden.
Yes, I think all men can relate to the Emma Peel (Emma appeal) clue, but disappointed it wasn't RIGG. Hard to imagine Diana Rigg is age 70 now, but she's still beautiful with those sexy puppy-dog eyes.


Anonymous said...

"If Tarzan's bothering you, speak up!" is the niftiest clue I've seen in some time. Fits smoothly into the theme, but carries all sorts of undercurrents.

Anonymous said...

SCUDS ? As in clouds ? New one on me. Atomic ERA vs. AGE gave me some problems, as did spelling "Knievel." Sha ba la ba bing bang.

- - Robert

David Marlow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Marlow said...

I'm thinking COMBAT-MOBILE, where mobile is a modifier. Rex?

As for homegrown tomatoes, you could put dried hay on them and they'd be good. I'll try the cumin. It's been too wet down here so I haven't even gotten my seedlings in yet. Dang.

Rex Parker said...

Modifier? I'm going to need an analogy on that one. Is that like "The Matrix: Reloaded?"

Greene said...

ACME ALERT: I am about to name drop, but I don't get that many opportunities, so please indulge me.

I actually had the pleasure of providing some health care for Kneivel senior after joint replacement surgery a number of years ago. Was there a joint in his body that wasn't replaced? He was a most unassuming fellow and not at all a "celebrity" type. If memory serves he was probably in his early 60s when I met him and that guy had probably spent more time in hospitals than I did during my entire residency.

This was a pretty easy puzzle for a Friday. Liked the theme well enough and COMPLAIN JANE got quite a smile. Loved seeing PROLIX in the puzzle.

@John: I'm gonna go out on a limb here and venture that the 1954 remake of A Star is Born with Judy Garland and James Mason is vastly superior to the 1937 original with Janet Gaynor and Frederic March. Both, however, are infinitely preferable to the atrocious 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

The same could be said of the three films versions of Showboat: The 1929 silent (yes, a musical silent!) is a curiosity, while the 1936 remake is definitive, and the 1951 technicolor eye-popper just blows.

mac said...

This puzzle I should have printed out and enjoyed - I really feel this on-line solving is not as much fun.

Lots of good clueing and lots of good answers, but I didn't get my fix. So let's get on to the food.
If you want to do something good for your health, use TURMERIC. Sprinkle it on anything you sautee or fry. It doesn't have a strong flavor but it carries a big stick.

Uma??? Come on, it's Diana. The only one.

Acme warning? OK. Sam Waterston was in the elevator with me today, and we had a little conversation. Later on, spotted Monica Seles in a "Pain Quotidien" on 58th St. She looks great, I'm happy to say.

Orange said...

@Mac, yeah, but how does Sam Waterston look? Did his eyebrows reach out and try to grab you?

Jeffrey said...

ACME alert: I was walking in the Caesar's Palace casino in Las Vegas last week and nearly got run over by Hulk Hogan and his family riding scooters for no apparent reason.

mac said...

Sam Waterston looked great, very handsome in a suit and tie, carrying an umbrella. Usually he looks a little Indiana Jones-like, with a big hat on. To me he looks short in the series, in real life he is at least 6 feet tall. The eyebrows are remarkable.
Apparently he and Joan Allen were doing a reading of some of the love letters between Georgia O'Keefe and Stieglitz.
We saw Joan Allan and Jeremy Irons in "Impressionism" a couple of weeks ago, she was fastastic (and looks amazing).

Orange said...

@Mac, and how does Jeremy Irons look? You do seem to have a habit (based on a sample size of two comments!) of remarking on a woman's appearance but saying nothing about how a man looks!

mac said...

Jeremy Irons looks exactly the way he does in films and photographs. Very thin, and very comfortable on the stage.
I remembered Joan Allen from some tv series, and she simply looks so much better now.

Joon said...

ACME alert: look up, because i think roadrunner is about to drop an anvil on your head.