FRIDAY, May 8, 2009 — Dan Naddor

THEME: "EY"-less (in Gaza?) — five theme answers are familiar phrases that have had their terminal "EY" removed, resulting in wacky phrases, which are then clued, "?"-style
Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib'd
As of a person separate to God,
Design'd for great exploits; if I must dye
Betray'd, Captiv'd, and both my Eyes put out,
Made of my Enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in Brazen Fetters under task
With this Heav'n-gifted strength? O glorious strength
Put to the labour of a Beast, debas't
Lower then bondslave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great Deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke
(Milton, Samson Agonistes, 30-42)

For the puzzle to have been truly ELEGANT (26A: Polished), every theme answer should have had a different sound in its final syllable. I wasn't too fond of the "OCK" repetition. High standards? Maybe. But if you're going to pull a simple "take-away" theme, you need to set the bar high. Well, you don't need to, but you should. Puzzle as a whole seemed fine, if a little on the easy side for a Friday. EERIEST and EELER and IRON ORES and ARLENES = a little more crosswordese than I'd like to see this late in the week. Enjoyed the trivia in the clues on RICIN (7D: Toxin found in castor beans) and ALTO SAX (37D: Glazunov wrote a 1934 concerto for one), though I have no idea who Glazunov is. Nice to be reminded of the Dodgers' glory days (39D: The Dodgers retired his #2 in 1997 => LASORDA) on a day when the news for the Dodgers is not so glorious. As a Red Sox fan, let me just say: sorry.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: One shivering atop Mount Ararat? (cold Turk) - I like that one
  • 19A: Tool in a Belfast bakery? (Irish whisk)
  • 33A: Desperate farmer's transaction? (field hock) - least favorite
  • 49A: Abbey resident in a rock-'n'-roll musical? ("Grease" monk)
  • 53A: Serious Frisbee thrower? (disc jock)
Crosswordese 101: AEROS (31A: Houston team affiliated with the NHL's Minnesota Wild) - perhaps the only minor league sports team you are going to need to know to solve crosswords efficiently. AERO is often clued as a common prefix, e.g. [Dynamic lead-in], but if you need to push it into the plural, you gotta go to Houston hock(ey), which are two words that no one had ever put together before the mid-90s, I'm pretty sure. AEROS sound eerily like ASTROS, one of Houston's more famous pro sports teams (baseball).

  • 15A: Depth charge, slangily (ash can) — For perhaps obvious reasons, I confuse this slangy term for depth charge with the equally slangy and equally war-related term for helmet, i.e. TIN CAN. Wait ... a TIN CAN is actually a naval destroyer. What's the slang term for helmet? Ah, TIN HAT.
  • 22A: Pester for payment (dun) — A somewhat old-timey word that still has a lot of currency in xwords.
  • 48A: "Here _____ Again" (Whitesnake #1 hit) ("I go") — OK, sure, I'll play it ... damn, youtube won't let me embed it. So you get this ... which is pretty great in its own right:

  • 29D: Show to a seat, slangily (ush) — One of my least favorite xwordisms. Other less-than-palatable short fill includes WVA (43D: "We Are Marshall" setting: Abbr.) and the horrible-sounding, horrible-looking, never-before-seen-or-heard-of-by-me Pou STO (30D: Pou _____: vantage point).
  • 55D: Mo. named for the Roman god of doorways (Jan.) — After Janus. I just love that there was ever a god of doorways. That's like having a god of front steps, windows, or microwave ovens.
See you all Monday. Enjoy the weekend.


Everything Else — 1A: ABCs (BASICS); 7A: Banter (REPARTEE); 15A: Depth charge, slangily (ASHCAN); 16A: Magnetite et al. (IRONORES); 17A: __ dream: optimist's philosophy (DARETO); 18A: One shivering atop Mount Ararat? (COLDTURK); 19A: Tool in a Belfast bakery? (IRISHWHISK); 21A: Vous, in Weimar (SIE); 22A: Pester for payment (DUN); 23A: Follower of Christ? (IAN); 24A: Alma __ (MATER); 26A: Polished (ELEGANT); 29A: Of no value (USELESS); 31A: Houston team affiliated with the NHL's Minnesota Wild (AEROS); 32A: The Boss's address? (ESTREET); 33A: Desperate farmer's transaction? (FIELDHOCK); 36A: Distant (FARAWAY); 38A: Catcher with a pot (EELER); 42A: Actress Francis and others (ARLENES); 43A: Military exercise (WARGAME); 45A: Sees (DATES); 46A: Netflix rental (DVD); 47A: "Gimme a __" (SEC); 48A: "Here __ Again" (Whitesnake #1 hit) (IGO); 49A: Abbey resident in a rock-'n'-roll musical? (GREASEMONK); 53A: Serious Frisbee thrower? (DISCJOCK); 56A: Work too hard (OVERDO); 57A: Dinner alternative (ALACARTE); 58A: Blush (REDDEN); 59A: Allure (SEXINESS); 60A: Covers with crumbs (BREADS); 1D: "I wouldn't" (BADIDEA); 2D: By and large (ASARULE); 3D: Red fez wearer (SHRINER); 4D: Clinches (ICES); 5D: Like the pope: Abbr. (CATH); 6D: Strand at the chalet (SNOWIN); 7D: Toxin found in castor beans (RICIN); 8D: Cupid's counterpart (EROS); 9D: President between Tyler and Taylor (POLK); 10D: "What's more ..." (AND); 11D: Falderal (ROT); 12D: Bankruptcy court appointee (TRUSTEE); 13D: Spooky to the max (EERIEST); 14D: Glacial ridges (ESKERS); 20D: Monopoly token (HAT); 24D: "Moon River" lyricist (MERCER); 25D: Pub container (ALEKEG); 27D: Get off (GOFREE); 28D: Taiwanese, e.g. (ASIANS); 29D: Show to a seat, slangily (USH); 30D: Pou __: vantage point (STO); 32D: Big name in ice cream (EDY); 34D: Ram's ma'am (EWE); 35D: Much of "Deck the Halls" (LAS); 36D: Like some egos (FRAGILE); 37D: Glazunov wrote a 1934 concerto for one (ALTOSAX); 39D: The Dodgers retired his #2 in 1997 (LASORDA); 40D: Improved (EMENDED); 41D: Figures (RECKONS); 42D: Nike rival (ADIDAS); 43D: "We Are Marshall" setting: Abbr. (WVA); 44D: Condense on a surface (ADSORB); 46D: Rink fakes (DEKES); 49D: Bush battler (GORE); 50D: IRS auditor's requests (RCTS); 51D: Perpetually (EVER); 52D: Ancient Persian (MEDE); 54D: LXVII thrice (CCI); 55D: Mo. named for the Roman god of doorways (JAN).


Brendan Emmett Quigley said...

Five themed answers and a 70 worder is impressive no matter how you look at it. Couldn't sway from spelling DISC JOCK as DISK JOCK seemingly convinced K must be some way out there Roman Numeral. A googol perhaps?

David Stein said...

I thought of this ouzzle as KEYLESS ENTRY. Although the KEY was phonetic since the K's were left in the puzzle

PuzzleGirl said...

I liked this one a lot. Particularly E STREET (The Boss's address?), BAD IDEA ("I wouldn't"), FRAGILE (Like some egos), and RECKONS (Figures). I'm always pleased when I can enter DEKES (Rink fakes) without thinking about it. Even though I grew up in North Dakota, I have never had one iota of interest in hockey, so the term was foreign to me until I learned it in a crossword puzzle.

I didn't love the clue for HAT (Monopoly token). It's a tophat, which, obviously, is a type of hat, but I would never call that token a hat and you wouldn't either. No, you wouldn't.

Rex Parker said...

I would. TOPHAT never occurred to me.

Orange said...

Iron, shoe, car, thimble, dog, HAT. Yep. I don't know what kinda crazy North Dakota upbringing you had, PG, but the rest of us just called it a HAT.

PuzzleGirl said...

Wow. As knowledgeable as you guys are, I can't believe you don't know that Monopoly token is a TOP HAT and not just a HAT. I lost a little respect for both of you today.

Dan Naddor said...

Hey Guys. I wasn't thrilled with FIELD HOCK either, Rex. Just curious -- what would your reaction have been to BACK SPACEK (Support Sissy) from BACKSPACE KEY? Too convoluted?

Appreciate the feedback.


Joon said...

i agree with brendan--it's a marvel. i didn't love STO either, but WVA is perfectly fine, and i actually like USH (and its ilk).

the AEROS used to be a major league hockey team. maybe in the AHL days? USHL? NAHL? i'm making stuff up now. i don't know anything about hockey in 2009, let alone old-time hockey. although i think there's a minor league team called the florida everblades, and maybe the kentucky thoroughblades. anyway, the AEROS i know are the akron AEROS of the AA eastern league, affiliated with the cleveland indians.

JANus wasn't just the god of doorways (beginnings and endings, fate, ... luck? treachery? things along those lines), but it seems me me you'd like hagiography. there's a catholic saint for just about everything you could imagine. not, actually, windows or microwave ovens, although this is pretty funny.

gjelizabeth said...

Darn! Everytime I'm pleased with my finish on a late-week puzzle the comments peg it as "easier than usual". Oh well, I'll take my FRAGILE ego and keep plugging away. This blog has greatly improved my puzzling skills (and increased my enjoyment). I've started roughly timing myself. I'm slow but I usually get there. Liked the theme and found it helpful, once I got IRISHWHISK and COLDTURK. I noticed for the first time today the difference between a clue that's enclosed in quotes with three dots i.e. 10D "What's more..." which wants an answer that equals the whole phrase, i.e. AND, and a clue that's enclosed in quotes with an underlined blank i.e. 47A "Gimme a ___", which wants a fill for the blank, i.e. SEC. My favorite clue today was "I wouldn't".

*David* said...

For this average crossword guy this puzzle was Friday perfect. I made steady slow progress through the puzzle. The theme fell easily, making the rest less difficult.

I really liked the RICIN, COLD TURK, and E STREET fill. ASH CAN and Pou STO were head scratchers. I have to remember DEKES which I've seen a bunch but can't seem to remember.

Unknown said...

its a top hat, plain and simple

even as a kid i knew that. a hat was something you wear, and a top hat was something Rich Uncle Pennybags wears on the front of the game box.

i particularly liked ADSORB, i love it when science stuff like that shows up in the puzzles

@Joon my favorite catholic saint is The Patron Saint of Tailors, only because St. Homobonus cracked me up as a kid in catholic grade school

Dan said...

@ Mr. Naddor - I personally would have liked BACK SPACEK. It definitely would have provoked a groan from me, though (a good groan).

Uhm, yeah... I had best stop there.

~"LA" Dan

ArtLvr said...

Where did horrid Pou STO come from, please?

Janus the doorkeeper was two-faced, looking forward and back simultaneously, hence the link with treachery...

Nice puzzle, and I liked FIELD HOCK better than I'd have liked Back Spacek!

imsdave said...

Back Spacek is brilliant! Dan, do you ever sleep? Seems like you're in the LAT twice a week (happily so for me).

50 games for Manny seems a little harsh given the other violations we've been privy to.

Rex Parker said...

Have to agree: BACK SPACEK is some kind of genius.

Appreciate the feedback from Joon and BEQ about the technical difficulty level involved in the construction of this grid.


obertb said...

@Rex: There are gods for everything now that the Big Three monotheistic religions have put all of the older gods of the polytheistic religions out of work. Unemployment lines in Valhalla and elsewhere are long and wages (not to mention prestige) are way down. For example, I hired an unemployed god for next to nothing to look for parking places for me.

Things to remember when hiring gods:
1. The gods are only human, so don't expect miracles.
2. Like us, the gods are often crabby, irascible and mistaken.
3. Be careful of what you wish for because you might just get it. In spades.

Now, so that this post won't be entirely off-topic...I enjoyed the puzzle. Especially like ADSORBS because for some reason I can distinguish that for ABSORBS.

SethG said...

It's a top hat.

Before I got FIELD HOCK I was wondering if I'd see POND HOCK. And I wasn't thinking of pawning for the verb... Other possibilities include (Exciting fairy tale villain?), (Mire and morass?), (Myna spinner?), (Metal shop near a silo?), or (Pile of hay at the bank?). Sorry, that's ELECTRIC TROLL, DOUBLE BOG, BIRD OF PR, SMITH BARN, or BRANCH RICK.


Joon said...

seth, your answers are fun, but only BRANCH RICK would fit dan's theme today (it's not just about the -EY; all of his answers end with K).

i contend that a top hat is a hat.

SethG said...

Joon, it only doesn't work if you're not oblivious. I, apparently, am.

Sorry, I must be BLIND, ALL.

Lemonade714 said...

Mr. Naddor:

Back Spacek made my day.

Anonymous said...

FIELD HOCK, AEROS and one of my favorite words since I was a kid: DEKE. It must be Stanley Cup Playoff time. Even if you're not a hockey fan, now's the time to start watching. The Blackhawks win in sudden death OT last night ! Nothing like Hockey's sudden death OT, in all of sports. On that note, I think I'll celebrate with a Gin Rick.

- - Robert

Jeffrey said...


PuzzleGirl said...

@SethG: THANK you.

@Crosscan: Well sure ... in Canada!!!

Jeffrey said...

@puzzlegirl - that would be chapeau.

David Marlow said...

Cute puzzle.

1.) It's a top hat. Period. [.]<--
2.) BACK SPACEK is sublime.
3.) No nitpicks today.
4.) I love this place.
5.) But seriously, guys, do you freakshows wait outside the Times publishing headquarters and get the puzzle at 12:01 AM so you can have the puzzle finished by 12:45 AM? I don't start mine till after lunch, which means I have to jones for this place till whenever I finish so as not to be tempted to cheat.
6.) Nap time!

Unknown said...

loved this puzzle- after banging my head against the wall on the NYT, this one was a pleasure. Got the NW off the bat, off BASICS, and got REPARTEE from the short, down crosses (RICIN, POLK..). Only place I really struggled was around "GREASEMONK", mostly because I was sloppy and put an answer in the wrong place (IGO). This puzzle made me smile, even if the pros consider it easy for a Friday.

Crockett1947 said...

@switters The puzzle is available at 1:00 p.m. PDT online the night before.

Crockett1947 said...

OOPS! That's 11:00 p.m.

Razz said...

Oh yeah, Support Sissy would have been a great clue for today. That clue has my total support;~p

Humorlesstwit said...

@Thumbs up for the puzzle, but thumbs down for BACK SPACEK.
First of all, it's a SPACEBAR, not a SPACEKEY, and secondly, it's a SPACE KEY, not a SPACEKEY.
It's cute, but not right.

imsdave said...

@Humorlesstwit - I have 3 PC's and all of them have a backSPACEKey - it's above the backslash/logical or sign, and below the F12 key.

Maybe it's a mac thing that you don't have one.

Rex Parker said...

@humorless is wrong about the "bar" part ("backspace" is a totally different "key" from the "space bar"), but possibly right about the fact that going to SPACEK involves attaching the terminal "K" to a new word (the previous one), where none of the other entries do that.


Doug P said...

70 words and 5 theme entries--awesome! I love BACK SPACEK, though as Rex points out, it's not entirely consistent with the other entries.

Top hat, definitely.

chefwen said...

Just give me the shoe, I don't want the freakin hat anymore.

Dan said...

If you go to the Cruciverb archive/calendar page, the LAT puzzle is usually available at 10pm Eastern the night before! Which is great because I always solve the LAT first before doing the NYT.

Ditto to Doug P's first paragraph...

hazel said...

Uncle Wiki says Tophat - wheelbarrow, battleship, a sack of money, a horse and rider, racecar, a train (Deluxe Edition only), a thimble, a howitzer (sometimes called a cannon), an old style shoe (sometimes called a boot), a Scottie dog, an iron, and a top hat.

So there you have it. An interesting factoid I learned while in London was that the reason that cabs there have an immense amount of headroom is due to the old London Public Carriage Office rules, which required that cabs be tall enough to accommodate a gentleman's top hat.

So, I'm with Cyrus, Seth G, and PG.

Orange said...

I will concede "top hat" only if all of you who insist that the token's always called "top hat" confirm that you also call the other ones "battleship" (I forget if we called it a boat or a ship), "howitzer" (cannon), and "racecar" (car).

hazel said...

definitely racecar, not howitzer, and i don't think the ship got picked much/ever - seems like it was too unstable, too long and skinny. although i will pretend that we would have called it a battleship if only to goad you into a concession!

Joon said...

i will never concede. yes, it's a top hat. but it's also a hat. this is practically tautological.

are you also saying the scottie dog isn't a dog?

Doug P said...

Now watch for the Facebook updates: "My 5 favorite names for the Monopoly hat token: top hat, hat, opera hat, chapeau, beanie"

Not to beat a dead horse, but we did call it the "battleship." :)

Rex Parker said...

40 Comments. New record!

I believe the "hats" have won. You can call it a "top hat" all day long, but that will not negate its essential "hatness." "Scottie dog," "howitzer" ... "old style shoe??" All news to me.


hazel said...

Now its 42!

Of course, Its not that top hat isn't a hat and scottie dog isn't a dog. And noone's arguing that we're calling it a tophat hat - so its really not a tautology, although that is a very cool word.....The scottie dog on the other hand, now i think that qualifies as a tautology. And just because the "hats" won because of their greater numbers, it doesn't make it right!! Think presidential election 2000!!

The horse is now officially dead (sad).

Anonymous said...

Houston hock(ey), which are two words that no one had ever put together before the mid-90sActually the World Hockey Association (WHA) had a Houston Aeros team in the 1970s, so I thought of it right away. I couldn't figure out what it had to do with the Wild until I read this post, though.

The Aeros were noted -- to the degree that anyone noticed them at all -- for having all-time-great Gordie Howe come out of retirement to play with his sons Marty and Mark. Gordie led the Aeros to two WHA championships and won the MVP award at age 46. Gordie was also known for beating the crap out of opposing players who messed with his sons. Such is hockey.