FRIDAY, Dec. 11, 2009 — Mark Feldman

THEME: DOUBLE PLAYS (37A: Baseball coups, and a hint to the homophonic relationship in the sequence of first words in 18-, 24-, 54- and 61-Across) — sequence in question reads WON (1), TOO (2), FOR (4), ATE (8), the punned-on number doubling with each successive answer

Nice, relatively wide-open grid today, especially for a themed puzzle. Starting with long theme answers tends to restrict what you can do with the grid, and tends to keep the possibilities for big open spaces such as we see in the NW and SE (with the three long Downs). I'm tepid toward the theme. Cute idea, but the homonyms aren't interesting in and of themselves, and don't tend to lead off very interesting phrases. Also don't really like the ALL in ATE IT ALL UP. ATE IT UP would be a perfectly fine answer for that clue — which makes me wonder if there weren't other 10-letter phrases starting with ATE out there to choose from. Good action in the Downs today, particularly CARBINE, SALIVATE, POOL HALL, and HOV LANE. Wince factor is very low. Strangely, had the most trouble at intersection of RUB and BAA. Despite having taught Shakespeare before, it took me a while to come with the "aye, there's the RUB" meaning of RUB today. Profanity ahead. You were warned.

Theme answers:

  • 18A: Barely came out on top (WON BY A NOSE)
  • 24A: Overly taxing (TOO MUCH TO HANDLE)
  • 54A: Temporarily (FOR THE TIME BEING)
  • 61A: Really enjoyed something (ATE IT ALL UP)

Crosswordese 101: ISOLDE (11D: She had a tryst with Tristan) — useful for her half-vowel profile and her common-letters-in-odd-places shape. Also useful for the tryst/Tristan pun, on full display here today. In Arthurian lit, she is known as Iseult (ISOLDE is Wagner's spelling). Tristan is entrusted to bring Iseult home to marry King Mark, but en route I & T consume a love potion and fall hopelessly, passionately in love. Hot sex and tragedy ensue.

What else?

  • 69A: Another name for hopscotch (POTSY) — learned this (years ago) from crosswords. As I said at the time, I know only one POTSY, and he is friends with Richie and Ralph.
  • 9D: Joseph of ice cream fame (EDY) — is this day 2 for this guy? He's really striking out on his own. Screw you, Dreyer!
  • 57D: Chair designer Charles (EAMES) — the essence of mid-century modern design. Simple, functional, elegant.
  • 8D: Comics explosion (KABOOM) — I'm a sucker for all things comic book. Love it.

See you Monday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Young ones (LADS); 5A: Court smash (SPIKE); 10A: Epitaph word (LIES); 14A: Attending to the assignment (ON IT); 15A: "Alas" ("SO SAD"); 16A: Biblical twin (ESAU); 17A: Check out (CASE); 18A: Barely came out on top (WON BY A NOSE); 20A: How some bonds are bought (AT PAR); 22A: John abroad (LOO); 23A: Irked (RILED); 24A: Overly taxing (TOO MUCH TO HANDLE); 27A: Some dashes (EMS); 28A: Farm cry (BAA); 29A: Group with a lot of hits? (MOB); 30A: Series opener? (ESS); 31A: No longer gray, say (DYED); 33A: "Kidnapped" author's monogram (RLS); 35A: Big cheese (VIP); 37A: Baseball coups, and a hint to the homophonic relationship in the sequence of first words in 18-, 24-, 54- and 61-Across (DOUBLE PLAYS); 41A: Prefix with center (EPI-); 42A: Song syllable (TRA); 43A: You might make one with a Hamilton Beach DrinkMaster (MALT); 46A: Classical dance gp. (ABT); 49A: __ Balls: chocolate cake snacks (SNO); 51A: Musician Brian (ENO); 53A: Caligula's card count? (LII); 54A: Temporarily (FOR THE TIME BEING); 58A: Achille __: hijacked ship (LAURO); 59A: Ivy League nickname (ELI); 60A: No spendthrift (SAVER); 61A: Really enjoyed something (ATE IT ALL UP); 64A: Lansbury Broadway role (MAME); 65A: Dole (METE); 66A: Soft fleece (LLAMA); 67A: Hot times in Paris (ÉTÉS); 68A: Winged god (EROS); 69A: Another name for hopscotch (POTSY); 70A: Kerry and Kirk of Mass., e.g. (SENS); 1D: Found (LOCATED); 2D: Gray topic (ANATOMY); 3D: Inclined (to) (DISPOSED); 4D: Iron horse power (STEAM); 5D: Vienna-to-Rome dir. (SSW); 6D: Place to find cues (POOL HALL); 7D: Playground comeback (IS NOT); 8D: Comics explosion (KABOOM); 9D: Joseph of ice cream fame (EDY); 10D: Russian revolutionary (LENIN); 11D: She had a tryst with Tristan (ISOLDE); 12D: Art supporters (EASELS); 13D: Soft leathers (SUEDES); 19D: Mecca's peninsula (ARABIA); 21D: Obstacle (RUB); 25D: Semiautomatic rifle (CARBINE); 26D: It's reserved for ones in a pool (HOV LANE); 32D: Buck's mate (DOE); 34D: Match unit (SET); 36D: British novelist Barbara __ (PYM); 38D: Result (UPSHOT); 39D: Coverage charges (PREMIUMS); 40D: Show great anticipation, informally (SALIVATE); 44D: They can be offensive (LINEMEN); 45D: Jungle female (TIGRESS); 46D: Burning (AFLAME); 47D: Traditional barbershop quartet hat (BOATER); 48D: Honest with (TRUETO); 50D: Opera with the aria "Qui trarrò Cassio" (OTELLO); 52D: Baby docs (OBS); 55D: Takes a shot at (TRIES); 56D: __ ease (ILL AT); 57D: Chair designer Charles (EAMES); 62D: Matterhorn, e.g. (ALP); 63D: Shell out (PAY).



IMHO, a bad Friday puzzle… too easy, trite entries, weak clues, crappy fill, nothing to learn, lacks creativity, and no humor. So where is the entertainment and mental challenge here? As I sailed through this, I kept saying “the theme will redeem”, but nope, that never happened. Now only Rex Parker’s great writeup is bringing a big TGIF smile on my face! Love the vid clip. Thank you, Rex!

Seeing POOL (6d) and “…pool” (26d) was a bit disturbing to me.

Anticipating RUM balls for (49a) was a bit disappointing too. I love RUMMMM BALLS… MMMMMM!!!! Then it turns out to be just SNO Balls… fooey! And right now I don’t want to hear anything about snow.

The ONLY good clue was “It’s reserved for ones in a pool” = HOVLANE. But that’s a gimme for a Californian… no such thing around here.

I suspect everyone’s gonna have fun with the TIGRESS entry today.

Didn’t know hopscotch was also called POTSY . I too thought Potsy was a close friend of Richie Cunningham in “Happy Days”

Hoping for a better puzzle tomorrow.

Y’all have a super weekend!

This comment has been removed by the author.
lit.doc said...

Good morning, Rex. Got an unusually early start today, did the puzz in what is for me, excellent time (15:38), then went to post and…whoa, a little too early! Enjoyed your writeup.

The puzz was also an enjoyable way to buy time while body absorbed caffeine. Cute theme, but another that I didn’t see till I was finished. Starting to wonder if I’m way off base re my feeling that puzz themes should be designed such that, once ferreted out, they reward the solver by helping puzzle out the rest of the grid. Any thoughts on the subject?

*David* said...

Everything went wrong for me this morning, no newspaper waiting for me in the morning. I came into work early and did the xword puzzle on the sly.

The puzzle maybe because my schedule was amok, left me almost grouchy. I totally connected with Rex for a moment and quickly left that place as fast as I could. Seriously, the puzzle was a total neutral thing to me, I felt nothing on the theme and nothing on the fill. On the other side it was solidly constructed, ho-hum, I need some coffee.

Gareth Bain said...

Liked the unexpected nature of the theme. Also liked the fact they're all multi (i.e. more than 2 word) idioms which for me counts as lively. Also looked rather askance at the last one though - the only other option I can come up with is ATEONESHAT. Yay! An entry with ONES in is every crossword-solver's delight, right? 61 letters of theme count, plus 34/74 grid is pretty darn impressive, especially, as you note a low "wince factor."

Re, C101:
The opening of Wikipedia's article: "Iseult (alternatively Isolde, Iseo, Yseult, Isode, Isoude, Isotta)" - Hope crossword constructors stick to the first two, else things could just get silly... Though I have seen the Y spelling before...

PS. Any meaning of rub so long as I don't see the clue/answer combination: "Rub the wrong way"/MOLEST

Tuttle said...

Liked the answer 'carbine' but not the clue. A carbine is a shortened long-weapon (rifle or musket). Period. It can be fully automatic (like an M-4 Carbine) or it can be a muzzleloader (like this Lepage) or, indeed, a semi-auto (like the classic M1 Carbine of WWII).

Had "am not" instead of "is not" which caused the only troubles I had.

Sfingi said...

I thought I'd dislike it; but, it went down easily since the expressions weren't actually sportsisch. No Google at this speed.

It was the other (mostly sports, mostly short) words that I didn't actually know - HOVLANE POTSY SPIKE EMS RUB SNO or card count = age. I need some good defs, here.

Would have preferred TOO hot TOHANDLE as a common phrase.

Tristan/Iseult -
In Welsh, he's Dristan, but he gives me a headache. Reminds me of many a philanderer - "Oh, but King, how could anything happen? There was a sword between us." Sure. That just makes for some athletics. In this case, he's birddogging (there's a word), - going after the catch the hunter spotted first.

Tristan & Isolde by Rogelio de Egusquize

GoG8rs said...

Well, I guess I'll break a trend here and say I liked the puzzle. But then I like any puzzle that causes me some thought and I can't just fill in. Plus I thought the homophonic clues were fun. I also liked learning "potsy"--never heard that before. Thought that "John abroad" was an alternate spelling of John and so tried Jon and Jan--laughed at "loo."
"26d Reserved for ones in a pool" gave me some problem because I kept trying to fit in "swim lane. "Aha" moment with HOV lane--(also nonexistent in much Florida).
My one quibble is with 29d Mecca's peninsula--shouldn't it be "Arabian" as opposed to Arabia?

Charles Bogle said...

I liked it a lot! Granted, it's not NYT Friday difficulty, but it's definitely an improvement over what we were seeing this summer and fall.

Had no idea re HOVLANE, LII (can someone enlighten me on LII pls), ESS

Liked: Clues for LINEMEN, EASELS

also liked: ATPAR, RILED

am also tired of EDY (and ENO-a shame a few crummy fill words got in here)

Theme is very clever--but maybe too clever by half for anyone but the devout baseball fan

Nero said...

@Charles LII = 52 = # of cards in a standard deck. Though, I doubt Caligula had what is now the standard deck of cards. I would check if Caligula is a casino somewhere so that the preceding sentence wouldn't be foolish, but I just can't be bothered.

Anonymous said...

A few little mistakes, but generally pretty fun.

Tried way too hard for MLB (for MOB)in keeping with baseball theme

I tried too literal of a double play trying to fit in YER and OUT in the last two at first or some baseball (position) combo for a DP, but crosses straightened me out fast. Failing in a few crosswordese words, did not score 100% today.


Good news, only one Bible and NO! Yiddish.

Parsan said...

A muddled brain this morning! I could not get started on this puzzle and thought of giving up until ISOLDE appeared and then I plodded on.

Thought OTELLO was Von Webers Oberon, do not know what the HOV is in HOVLANE, know nothing about guns so I had gatling ("Johnny and his gatling gun"-song lyric) before changing it to CARBINE, and wondered why SALIVATE is clued informally.

One of the favorite fairy tales of the children when I was on Romper Room was Goldilicks; they loved to shout out "and she ATE IT ALL UP" when we got to the line about the porridge.

What does LII, Caligula's card count mean? This puzzle was not in my wheelhouse even though I finished it and got the theme clues before everything else. Actually, I thought the theme was clever.

Thanks for your comments Rex.

gespenst said...

@Parsan: HOV - high occupancy vehicle lane (so cars w/ more people can bypass the slower lanes). We have them in CT, but amusingly enough "high occupancy" means 2 or more. yep, 2 people in a car is rare enough that we get perks.

I had some trouble w/ the puzzle but Friday mornings I get help from father-in-law and he got me going on the NW corner which was giving me fits (though I *really* should have gotten the Gray's Anatomy reference, being in medicine).

Overall I liked the puzzle ... I really like that they're more of a challenge than over the summer.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I had MLB before MOB too ;) Glad I'm not the only baseball fan making that mistake! I would love to see that answer for the same clue in a puzzle (hint hint to any constructors)

Tinbeni said...

Arabia is the peninsula, Arabian's are the people.

EMS are two dashes in morse code. And it got a major groan from me when I entered the fill.

Your expression would have been better, much better.

Never heard of Barbara PYM, so I googled her, scanned her list of books, never heard of them either.

When I completed this uninspiring puzzle I wondered if the constructor sells Hamilton Beach DrinkMasters since a MALT can be made with any blender or a little bit of elbow grease.

All-in-all a total blah Friday LAT.

Guttenberg said...

I believe that the EMS relating to dashes has more to do with printing. There are (at least) two widths of dashes, the EN and EM dashes.

Tinbeni said...

EMS = M's
M in morse code is 2 dashes.

ESS = S (Series opener, its first letter = lame)

Throw in the Roman Numerals, LII, ENO, EDY, ETES, SENS, TRA and you get ...


The good part was the write-up & clip.

Tinbeni said...

You are also correct.
Along with the hyphen, en & em comprise the three forms of dashes used in punctuation.

bluebell said...

I had to work on this one a bit--had "tads" for 1a, and confidently wrote in lioness for 45 down, wrote "laura" instead of "lauro" for the ship. When I saw "won, too," I thought the rest might be "three, four," and wondered how three could be clued. When I got "double plays," the rest came into focus. I learned Edy from crosswords, because here in the west we have only Dreyers, but I know the word now and don't really need to see it again. I played hopscotch as a child a long time ago, and never heard it called potsy. Is it a regionalism?

Crockett1947 said...

@bluebell Apparently POTSY is a NUC regionalism for HOPSCOTCH.


@Guttenberg and tinbeni

I think the constructor meant EMS (for "some dashes") to be EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES. This use of EMS is real common in CWs.

Orange said...

Nope, @John, it's not E.M.S. clued as [Some dashes]. It's the plural of EM.

Here's an em dash: —
And an en dash: –
And a slightly shorter hyphen: -

An em dash or em space is about the width of a capital M in an old typesetter's set of metal letters.

Orange said...

P.S. Because E.M.S. = emergency medical services, which cannot be defined as "some dashes." An ambulance run is a dash, but the crew of EMTs that ride in the ambulance are not dashes. Clues and answers need to be able to substitute for one another, and that's not the case there.


Thanks for that explanation...makes a lot of sense. I just was uncomfortable with the printer's EM, even though at one time (years ago) I set loose type.
Do you have this book?

Gutenberg said...

Is it because I'm dead, and apparently can't even spell my own name, that no one would believe me? We've got rampant bias against the dead here?

Anonymous said...

Could not believe Barbara Pym was in the puzzle - also title of detecive novel in England ie "Miss Pym Disposes" and others by the redoubtable Josephine Tey whose life was cut way too short.

Did not go smoothly on account of boss making me work instead of letting me do the crossword puzzle which meant that my mindset was not too focussed but an easy puzzle notwithstanding.

Why all the "gray" clues? Somebody getting at old people?

Crockett1947 said...

@gutenburg No, it's the zombies that we have the bias against.

CrazyCat said...

Even though I live in SoCal and we have HOVLANES, they are never called that on the traffic reports. They are either called car pool lanes or diamond lanes, so that took me a while to get. There are usually only two people in a car, or on occasion, one person and a blow up doll. Also motorcycles can use the Car Pool Lane too so HOV is not a very good description. Had BOWLER for BOATER so that messed me up. Never heard of POTSY and I played a lot of hop scotch back in the day. Not the zestiest puzzle of the week, but OK. Great write up. I liked Rex's story of ISOLDE - hot sex and tragedy! Saw a movie of Tristan and ISOLDE a while ago. Pretty bad as I recall. Loved SALIVATE. Had to google British Novelist Barbara since all I could come up with was CARTLAND. Never heard of PYM.

lit.doc said...

@ Tinbeni and @ Sfingi and @ JOHNSNEVERHOME to elaborate on @ Oranges comment above (wow, this whole em thing is going slowly, for a dash). Hand-set type gives us both em dashes and en dashes, corresponding to the relative widths of M and N (and also the terms "kerned/unkerned font", like Times New Roman vs. Courier). Hyphens are en dashes, the double hyphen that becomes an unbroken long line touching the letters on either side (in a decent word processor) is an em dash. Standard English punctuation terms.

Orange said...

@Gutenberg: With the double T, I assumed you were '80s actor Steve Guttenberg, who has little credibility on matters of punctuation.

J Gutenberg said...

@Orange - He died?

Tinbeni said...

I like the way you think on the EMS thing.
The ambulance makes a dash to get to you, then makes a dash to the hospital. That would be the two dashes or as clued "Some dashes" ...
And we do see EMS as folderol fill in CW's very often.

@lit.doc & @Orange & @Gutenberg (with or without 2 T's) are also correct about en & em & hyphens.
Funny thing is I googled the hell out of this and all statements above are true.

And in the Morse Code the letter "M" is 'two dashes' (as I stated earlier).

What I find interesting is that different folks looked at the clue, came up with the correct answer (EMS) yet had a different thought process in reaching the conclusion.

And all of this & these comments in relation to an over-used, banal, trite, 3 letter crap fill.

Rex is this not a good example of your coined phrase OOXTEPLERNON ???

Orange said...

@tinbeni: But the point remains that "some dashes" would be what E.M.S. makes, not what E.M.S. is. This is where the clueing rule of equivalency kicks in.

Solvers can dig themselves some pretty deep holes if they don't realize that this rule applies, rationalizing the craziest stuff that makes sense somewhere in their head but does not follow the rule. We rely on these rules to keep crosswords fair and consistent.

Sfingi said...

@Tinbeni - thanx - never learned Morse; gave away my dad's ham set. (Now I'll be my obnoxious retired teacher self - kill the apostrophe. Feel free to get me sometime. I'm already sorry, but I'm also OCD.)

Hovlane - thought it was a special swimming lane. I always suspect sports when I don't know something. There's not much heavy traffic up here. Once saw a passenger doll of the Polish Pope.

What part of the country plays Potsy? Is there something like the Soda/Pop line that runs somewhere halfway between Rochester and Buffalo?

*David* said...

Potsy is definitely NYC lingo. I'm a local Angeleno but my parents are from Brooklyn and they called it POTSY.

Tinbeni said...

And I totally agree re:the cluing rule of equivalence, like Derek leading to Alex, not AROD yesterday, if one is a first name, the other is a first name.

In this case the downs led me to the answer, EMS. My first thought was the letter 'M' in Morse Code. You and others to printing & punctuation, EM dash pluralized.
And @JNH, he probably just saw the end result EMS and it made him think of the other, so he moved on with the puzzle.
Is that really so unacceptable?

Crockett1947 said...

@tinbeni One of the pluses from the exchange we have with bloggers and solvers is the ways that different people interpret and respond to the clues and answers. Part of this incredible fabric we call "Life."

mac said...

I liked the puzzle and did it very early this morning - not so fresh in my mind anymore. Just want to tell @tinbeni and @crazycatlady to please get yourself a Barbara Pym book, and you will probably proceed to read all of them. Like Josephine Tey, she died quite young.

Orange said...

@tinbeni, I'm not saying it constitutes thoughtcrime. I'm just saying if solvers keep in mind what the rules are, they're more likely to make it through the puzzles with the right answers. :-)

wilsch said...

The HOVLANE and MOB cross threw me off for a while. I kept thinking MLB (Major League Baseball) for "Group with a lot of hits", not "Mob hits". Excellent puzzle.

Rex Parker said...

EMS is one of those things that I tolerate just fine as long as the grid isn't full of such crosswordese. Not groanworthy (unlike, say, INSC.). Tolerable in small doses.

EMS and ENS (as dash types) are oldschool/newschool/everyday crosswordese.



Well anyway, with EMS, I made a wrong assumption and got the right answer...how good it that?

Crockett1947 said...

@jnh Even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

ddbmc said...

Puzzle=Decent solve
Write up=nicely done
Comments on EMS, ENS, E.M.S. Johann Gutenburg, Steve Guttenberg, zombies,blow up dolls of the Polish Pope, hot sex and tragedy, HOV Lanes?=Priceless!
Thanks, all, for making me laugh and learning me some stuff! Time for a bowl of Edy's Caramel Delight!

Sfingi said...

I also like a parallelism when it comes to: names (first, last, nick-, initials), verb tenses, abbreviations, and just about all else. What goes in must come out, is satisfying to the OCD organ.

I'm impressed with youse guys' knowledge of so many arcane subjects, and learn so much. The EMS was particularly interesting.