WEDNESDAY, December 9, 2009—Robert E. Lee Morris

THEME: "Mr. Cruel"—Three names end with synonyms for "cruel"

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Bassist for the Sex Pistols (SID VICIOUS). Not the name his parents gave him, so we have one stage name.

  • 36A: Muttley's evil master in Hanna-Barbera cartoons (DICK DASTARDLY). One cartoon character, fictional. I can totally laugh just like Muttley.

  • 59A: "The Wonder Years" star (FRED SAVAGE). And one real name. Child actor–turned–director. Rock out to the opening sequence:
The theme entries, two 10s and a 13, occupy the minimum number of squares you'd generally expect to see in a themed 15x15 puzzle. It's got 78 words, the maximum. The combination of low theme square count and high word count should make for a puzzle with smooth fill and no tortured abbreviations or plurals. Perhaps the worst entry here is 14A: As vertical as possible, as an embedded anchor (APEAK); as nautical words go, this one's pretty unfamiliar to non-sailors. But nothing else jumped out at me, so yay. OK, maybe 66A: Fish basket (CREEL), that's a little crosswordese-inflected.

What else? Here are my favorite answers and clues:
  • 1A: Hurts with a horn (GORES). My sister's husband and kids all play horns, so I needed all the crossings here. Couldn't get tuba-related damage out of my head.
  • 16A: Charm (MOJO). Great word!
  • 21A: Uncommonly big (OUTSIZED) Nice to have a Z or two in the fill.
  • 57A: Fast fliers (JETS). Raise your hand if you went on crosswordese autopilot and filled in SSTS here. I know I did.
  • 3D: St. John's athletes until 1994 (REDMEN). The team is now called the Red Storm, and I commend them for changing their name. Wasn't the Red Storm one of the plagues of Egypt?
  • 11D: Nonsense (FOLDEROL). TOMMYROT would also fit here, but not HOOEY, POPPYCOCK, or BALDERDASH.
Crosswordese 101: Most crosswordese answers are 3 or 4 letters long, but the occasional 6 makes a strong showing. Consider the APOGEE, which hides a shorter crosswordese word (OGEE) in its midst. This astronomy term means 47D: Orbital high point. The word's origin combines apo- ("away") and geo ("earth"), so it's the point at which the moon is furthest from the earth. It's opposite is PERIGEE, which luckily does not have the same letter count so it's hard to mix 'em up. APOGEE clues usually have the word "orbit" or "orbital" in them, but sometimes you'll see high(est) point, peak, or apex.

Everything Else — 6A: Trudge (PLOD); 10A: Where E.T. came from? (AFAR); 15A: Anchor attachment (ROPE); 19A: Run off at the mouth (BLAB); 20A: Made the trip (CAME); 23A: Had a bite (ATE); 24A: Distress letters (SOS); 25A: Most irritated (SOREST); 28A: Friend you probably never met (PENPAL); 30A: Spread with cocktails (PATE); 32A: Fish eggs (ROE); 33A: Leopardlike critter (OCELOT); 35A: Skye of film (IONE); 40A: Like many a 45-Across (DANK); 41A: Hitchcock classic (PSYCHO); 42A: Swing voter: Abbr. (IND.); 43A: Singer Feliciano (JOSÉ); 45A: Underground room (CELLAR); 49A: '50s Kenyan revolutionary (MAUMAU); 51A: PBS funder (NEA); 52A: Mimic (APE); 53A: Canc˙n coins (CENTAVOS); 56A: Hebrew prophet (AMOS); 61A: War god (ARES); 62A: "Law & Order: SVU" actor (ICE-T); 63A: Sloping edge of a chisel (BEZEL); 64A: Author Zane (GREY); 65A: Big name in lawn equipment (TORO); 1D: It's replaced after a fill-up (GAS CAP); 2D: Sedative (OPIATE); 4D: Gutter site (EAVE); 5D: Go downhill fast? (SKI); 6D: Toyota hybrid (PRIUS); 7D: Pirate's haul (LOOT); 8D: Music with a number (OPUS); 9D: Stop (DESIST); 10D: The color of honey (AMBER); 12D: Steely Dan album pronounced like a continent (AJA); 13D: Stick up (ROB); 18D: Air-conditioned (COOLED); 22D: Ballet-dancing Muppet (ZOE); 24D: Pass rusher's success (SACK); 26D: VAIO computer maker (SONY); 27D: Golfer's gismo (TEE); 29D: Childhood disease mark (POCK); 30D: Rapper's entourage (POSSE); 31D: Mem. of the bar (ATTY.); 34D: Indy 500's 200 (LAPS); 35D: Golden calf, e.g. (IDOL); 36D: Agent Scully of "The X-Files" (DANA); 37D: Hall of Fame guest of honor (INDUCTEE); 38D: Permission to use (ACCESS); 39D: Perlman of "Cheers" (RHEA); 40D: Faint (DIM); 43D: Pres. inauguration month (JAN.); 44D: Uniform (OUTFIT); 46D: Childbirth education pioneer (LAMAZE); 48D: Transfer for a price, as a used car (RESELL); 50D: Not well-kept (MESSY); 51D: Acknowledge with a head movement (NOD TO); 54D: Sacramento's __ Arena (ARCO); 55D: Change direction (VEER); 56D: Say assuredly (AVER); 57D: Binge (JAG); 58D: Make a mistake (ERR); 60D: "Desperate Housewives" network (ABC).


Gareth Bain said...

Definitely a minimalist theme! And Also couldn't get the wrong theme out of my head!

Rex Parker said...

DICK!? Did not remember that.

GORES went in instantly. Sadly, SSTS went in where JETS was supposed to go... stupid itchy crosswordese trigger finger.


Joe said...

I had SSTS and then erased it because the clue didn't have the usual "Bygone" or abbreviation.

Tinbeni said...

FOLDEROL 11d & INDUCTEE 37d were great fills, having a DANK CELLAR (40&45a) not a problem here in Tampa Bay.

Had the ERR 58d first, so I did not fall into the SSTS thing, but I admit that I thought about it.

Now, I wonder if someone is Vicious, Dastardly & Savage would that not make them also ... PSYCHO 41a?

I'm sure Shrub5 enjoyed ARCO. Seems to me she is a big basketball fan in Sacramento.

Favorite was MOJO for charm, crossing with Steely-Dan's AJA album.

Least fav. ... again the MAU-MAU.

Orange - excellent insight, great clips. (I always like the clips!)

lit.doc said...

Arrrgh! Rushed out of the house this a.m. without printing the LAT puzz, and it's the only one that the school district's Big Brother filters block. Would someone please take a moment and email the Across Lite file to wjent@austinisd.org?

Crockett1947 said...

Hand up for SSTS.

Who is this ZOE muppet? Never heard of her.

Wanted GIGANTIC for OUTSIZED, but CG doesn't start any 6 letter word. Could be an abbreviation for CENTIGRAM, though.

@lit.doc Got your puzzle yet?

Have a safe Wednesday, all.

shrub5 said...

I liked this puzzle with its sprinkling of seldom seen answers (PENPAL, PSYCHO, CENTAVOS, POCK, etc.) Thought I had something wrong with BEZEL. Figured it should be bevel? but the Z from LAMAZE wasn't going anywhere.

I wondered about the word FOLDEROL, also spelled as falderal or with hyphens fol-de-rol. It originated in 1695-1705 as a nonsense refrain in songs. So there you have it.

@Orange - a new talent revealed: the Muttley laugh.

@Tinbeni: You are right X2 !!!!
Poor old Arco Arena. It is outdated and inadequate in many respects. Unfortunately there is not enough public support for taxation to help build a new arena, and remodeling of the current structure is apparently not possible. Even the NCAA dropped Arco from its list of venues for the college basketball tournaments. No musician/group who cares about acoustics will play there. NBA commissioner Stern is working with some entities to come up with a plan but in the current economy, that's not getting off the ground. Not many folks out there with a spare $500 million. But nevertheless, I always have a great time there at my b-ball games!

The Corgi of Mystery said...

Rex: SSTS went in the grid for me as well. High five!

ddbmc said...

Hand raised for SSTS!
"Apogee" I remember this from early space mission coverage.

Liked the theme. Sadly, Sid Vicious popped in immediately and couldn't remember Mr. Dastardly's first name, so I'm with @RP there.

Had never seen Sid Vicious perform. Not a very likable character, but certainly made his mark in the punk world. I remember the whole sorted story of his life. Joe Strummer,of the Clash, on the other hand, was a punker with a social conscience. Both are gone.

I didn't remember Mr. Maumau, either, but once I got the answer, all I could think of was that song by The Trashmen, "Surfin' Bird" where halfway through the song, the paltry lyrics become "Um mau mau."
The Family Guy-Surfin'Bird Yep. There's a Sponge Bob version, too. (Insert Muttley laugh here)

Wanted "bevel" for "bezel," THEN filled in Lamaze. (lack of coffee and sleep!)

I think ZOE is the Muppet who is HIV-positive. Introduced character to bring about AIDS Awareness.

@Shrubb5 and Tinbeni, we have 2 arenas in our local area, IZOD and the Prudential Center (The Rock) and sadly, a basket ball team that just set a record for "most losses in their opening season-18!

@JNH, your man, ICET, showed up in the puzzle again today.
Thanks, Orange, for the write up.

Orange said...

@ddmbc: Mau Mau (not Mr.) was an African secret society that used violence to try to boot the British out of Kenya. The verb mau-mau has broader application these days.

Anonymous said...

Did not fall into the SST trap aince I had the J in jag. Thought creel was in a puzzle a couple of days ago but was wrong - therefore pleased to see it today. Sailed a lot and work in maritime but did not know apeak.

lit.doc said...

Thanks to several blogbud's for sending me the puzz!

Robust Wednesday LAT puzz, which for me means I came in under 20 (18:57). (Someone's gotta create an irony emoticon).

Right on, all, re SSTS, especially with MARS immediately beneath. Got SW straightened out--strike that, "squared away"--with the crosses, but it as a black hole of perplexity for a while.

Is it just me, or does the number of names (I count what, 21?) seem excessive? Actually knew most of them, for a change (DICK DASTARDLY? Once in a while, it helps to be oldish). Only other cavil was the intersection of 3D and 14A. Yes, APEAK is a word to someone no doubt, but seriously...crossing it with a HUH? sports trivium (is that a word?) seems like, well, bad sportsmanship.

30A was fun. Started with FETE. When I got to 30 and 31D, nice Wha? moment.


An okay Wednesday level puzzle, but IMO, the clues could have been more original and creative. Lots of good scrabble words with J‘s, K’s and Z’s. ICET again, blah! And I agree with Orange, APEAK is horrible. Didn’t like “Underground room” clue for CELLAR… it’s not a room. “Underground space” would have been more accurate. Didn’t like the clue “Music with a number”… OPUS is the number of a composer’s work. Sort of nitty picky I know.

Having said all that, there were some really good features of this puzzle. Some nice seldom-seen entries, like: PRIUS, DESIST, LAMAZE, APOGEE, POCK, BEZEL, and OUTSIZED. I loved seeing some cute entries too: MOJO and ZOE. Haven’t we just seen that great word FOLDEROL recently? Or was I just thinking of a recent “Anonymous” comment?

Once again Orange blesses us with a really nice writeup… full of humor, good clips (love the “Wonder Years”), and a non-pariel explanation of APOGEE and PERIGEE.

I knew that a “Fish basket” is a CREEL, but I always want to spell it CREOLE.

Bam! SSTS went in like lightning. Funny how we all seem to suffer from crossworditis.

Another new (abused) word in our pop-language: POSSE. Wasn’t GROUPIE okay for that?

“Sloping edge of a chisel”… I was absolutely sure it was BEVEL and not BEZEL, but then that would screw up LAMAZE. Oh, how well I remember those LAMAZE classes.

With Orange’s Muttley laugh and my chortling, what a duet we’d make! I had better not belly-laugh too much… I badly injured my back yesterday, shoveling all that beautiful (but, /&%$#@ heavy) snow. Now my back is the SOREST it’s ever been. YOWWW!

Was it the “MEN” in REDMEN that caused the change (in view of it now being a coeducational academy) or was it due to the offensiveness of that term for Native Americans? Perhaps both. In any regards, I’m glad they changed it. We in Illinois went through some sensitivity training with the ILLINI DANCER not being a good image of Native Americans.

I love Hitchcock movies, but is it just me, or is anyone else terrified by watching PSYCHO?
A little Stanley Marsh sick-humor here:


The other sign said “Bates Motel, Showers in every room… Taxidermy Ahead”

*David* said...

This puzzle got an extra three minutes from me due to not reading the clue fully and an erroneous beignning fill. I started the puzzle with an immediate STEVEJONES fill instead of SID. I then didn't see the bottom portion of the clue for DANK so just saw LIKE MANY A and wasn't sure if Scully was DANA or DINA. Pretty funny.

Gareth Bain said...

"Folderol" was a clue in a puzzle very recently, though I can't remember which.

BTW, Glad to say I didn't fall for SST, rather I guessed JET and checked it with 55D - JAG. Still waiting to hear if anyone tried ERNS! I did confuse BEVEL and BEZEL though!

jazz said...

ZOE's been around a long time. I don't remember her as an AIDS muppet.

She is kinda a girl-Elmo.

Nice Wednesday...I think the choice of theme forced the weak-ish theme fill. I still have no idea how JAG and Binge go together, but appreciated AJA and MOJO crossing.

And, yes, I was SSTS at first (sheepish grin). Happy Wed, all. Regards to Orange and R.E.L. Morris, and oft-smited editor!

Sfingi said...

@Rex - Crosswordeses trigger finger - great expression. But mine was "swag" for LOOT.

Didn't notice a theme.

Did not know AJA ZOE APEAK REDMEN ARCO (arena)"VAIO". The North took a while for me due to the first 4, and I Googled for ZOE.

St. John's, Queens, is a great source for Italian literature.
Gaetano Cipolla, prof in the Dept. of Languages, publishes the bilingual(English/Sicilian) Arba Sicula journal from there.

A friend of mine was so grateful for his scholarship there that in the spirit of the Vincentians he joined the Peace Corps to South America, married a local, spent 20 years nearly getting killed twice, and came back to teach in a prison after his oldest daughter became college age.

Lamaze classes turned out to be good for stubbed toes.

@John - the POSSE are not the girls. They are the Good Ol' Boys - like Elvis and Sinatra had.

The craziest example of racist college "fun" was at UVM. When my mother was there in the late '30s, they had a weekend called Cakewalk, wherein fraternity brothers dressed in blackface and colorful tails and did a high-steppin "walked fo de cake." When I went to Cakewalk, in the early '60s they had changed to greenface. Apparently it was got rid of in 1969. It's on YouTube, but youse can find it yourself.

Finally, John, you make me look good by writing longer pieces than I.

ddbmc said...

@Orange, thanks for the edjumication. Mau bad!

Bohica said...

Had Rode for ROPE briefly, rode applys whether the anchor attachment is rope, chain or a combination of both. Also originally had Iler for ICET, never watched the show.


Didn't fall for SST's because I already had JAG in place.

Not bad for a "minimalist" puzzle.

Cap'n said...

Actually, there is only one rope ever on a boat, the Bell Rope. All others are referred to as lines.

Just another reminder of my (brutally) pedantic upbringing.

xyz said...

(Insert raised hand avatar/icon here)
SSTS I rote that too.

REDMEN - we're so politically correct

Parsan said...

The snow delayed my paper 5 hours. I know it's silly, but it's very disturbing when "just up, coffee, and LAT puzzle" can't happen. For me, it's not the same to do it on line. A slave to routine, I sometimes think I'm in "Groundhog Day".

The upper part was harder for me so I worked from the bottom up. No problem with JETS when I got JAG first. My Dad always used a CREEL when we fished in Canada.

BEZEL filled in because I had a
son by the LAMAZE method. A revolutionary idea then, the first husband ever allowed in a delivery room in our hospital, much to the surprise amd shock of some of the staff. Seven day hospital stay. Now they kick you out the next day! Too long before, too short now. JNH, and you? Anyone else?

Yes, PSYCHO was really scary; really original for it's time. Probably ho-hum to movie-goers today when flying heads, eyeballs and blood are common place. We had a good discussion of PSYCHO some time back.

Tried enormous, gigantic, and colossal before OUTSIZED became apparent with ZOE. Good word.

Thank you Orange!

CrazyCat said...

It was so much fun to see DICK DASTARDLY and Muttley. Brought back great memories of Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss and Magilla Gorilla - all those great HB characters. They were so much better than the toons of today IMHO. FREDSAVAGE and The Wonder Years was a favorite as well. SID and Nancy VICIOUS were quite a couple back in the early days of Punk. Loved the AJA MOJO cross. I agree with JNH about CELLAR. I would call a room underground a basement. Although the two words are basically the same, I think of a CELLAR as a place to store canned goods or wine. My daughter gives tours of the CELLARS at the winery where she works. A barrel tasting in the CELLAR is a interesting way to sample wine. I didn't fall into the SSTS trap since I was was solving the downs and already had JAG.

Crockett1947 said...

Orange, Puzzle Girl, and Rex,

I have a blogging question for you all. How much time does it take you, on average, to do a daily write up?

I am just so impressed with the links and asides that are in the write-up.

Then, you have the completed grid AND Everything Else at the bottom. That all looks like a very labor intensive procedure.

Thank you for taking on the task and helping us each and every day.

Sfingi said...

@Cap'n - we interior landlubber types appreciate your erudition.

@Parsan - wicker CREELS are collectibles, vintage, - even antiques now.

Remember Tom Wolfe's book title Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers(1970)?

mac said...

NICE puzzle today. I didn't know Fred, Syd and Dick but somehow I figured it out.

@Orange: Tuba-related damage, LOL!
We are going to get you a mike (or should I say mic) in Brooklyn to hear this laugh!

Nice how 14A and 15A are both about anchors; I never heard of the term apeak. Always thought Folderol was spelled with a's; I know at least one Dutch song that has falderalderiere in it.

Lamaze has taught me some great tricks that I still use in painful or tense circomstances.

Charles Bogle said...

@orange, thanks for the fine write-up. @ddbmc: you've nicely captured my reactions. Liked INDUCTEE< FOLDEROL< APOGEE< IDOL < LAMAZE ... on the other hand, did not care for TEE as a "gismo"; ...what is a CREEL? did not "get" ASPEAK...always thought MOJO meant something other than mere "charm" (think: Jim Morrison)...how does JAG equate w Binge? Who really is IONE Skye, DANA Scully and what is ICET doing in L& O? Man I must be way out of things...For me, the LA side of this fine LAT puzzle stymied me today!

Charles Bogle said...

@crazycatlady, @crockett1947--did you all get your avatars/icons switched or something--

Rex Parker said...

@Crockett, thank you and you're welcome.

Half-hour to an hour for me (but I've been doing this every day for over three years, so I have a Lot of practice at cranking it out).


Orange said...

Same time range for me when it comes to L.A. Crossword Confidential posts.

CrazyCat said...

@Charles Bogle Yes, I went from my dog avatar to my cat avatar. A fishing Creel is a wicker basket with a lid. Usually it has a leather shoulder strap. You often see antique ones around. Anglers put their catch of the day in their CREEL. I'm a basket collector and I've always wanted a CREEL of my own. One can go on a drunken JAG which is the same as a BINGE. I only know IONE Skye from crosswords. I have know idea who she is. I guess a google is in order.

Charles Bogle said...

@crazycatlady: many thanks. Personally I like you even more w your cat!

Sfingi said...

@Mac - "I can lick the Mic that threw
The overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder."

You can get new creels for $20. I have a beat up old Adirondack one which is probably worth less than $100. The most expensive are willow with a lot of leather on them, in good condition and special old brands for $4G.

ddbmc said...

Seems I need to study Africa a bit more! This is the Sesame Street character I was thinking of:
Kami Takalani, African Sesame Street

Zoe is, indeed, a ballerina who is Elmo's friend. Not having any little ones around, I am woefully ignorant of my Sesame Street characters--although when my kids were younger, I loved to watch with them.

Hand up, too, for PSYCHO being too scary. Only recently watched it. Will NOT watch any slasher movies. I even have trouble with some of the "Dirty Harry Movies." Candy-a** whimp here.

@Parsan, I can relate to the no paper/coffee dilemma!

@Crockett1947, great question to ask of our host and hostesses! @RP, I know you also do the NYT and blog--how many other puzzles do you (@PG and Orange) do a day? I have to limit myself, or I'd never get any thing else done--but then, I'm still a relative newbie.

CrazyCat said...

@sfingi That's why I still don't have a CREEL in my collection. The antiques in good condition are way expensive. I concur with Crockett1947 in thanking our blog hosts for donating their precious time.

clueless in Cincy said...

It seems to me that all those complaints of too easy crosswords have finally paid off. Now I am struggling for hours on end to complete early week puzzles. I hope you are all happy. I guess Monday's are all I can do from now on. Have fun all you smarties, I envy you!

mac said...

@Clueless in Cincy: keep on coming back here and you will gradually improve. Same thing happened to me on the Rex Parker...... blog.

@Crazycatlady: Ione Skye is an actress (I can't remember seeing her in anything) but, more importantly to me, she is the daughter of one of my favorite troubadours, Donovan. (Another one is Ralph McTell).

CrazyCat said...

I'm over my three post limit, but I loved Donovan - Try to Catch the Wind. My jr. high song with my B-friend...and of course Mellow Yellow.
@Clueless in Cincy I was like you a few months ago. You will learn a lot about Crosswords from this blog. Just keep plugging on.


It's important that you keep plodding through the CWs and then check the blog for advice, whether you finish the puzzle or not. One of the bloggers (I think Orange) recommended to me that I buy Patrick Berry's book "Crossword Puzzle Challenges For Dummies" (don't get put off by that title).
Between that and my daily reading of the blog writeups, I've learned so much. I hope I can encourage you to keep on keeping on... I did and now I'm beginning to get most of the puzzles completed (sometimes with a little salt).
Besides the erudite expertise of Rex, Orange, and Puzzlegirl; there is the benefit of being entertained by their fun writeups.

I love your tree scene avatar... reminds me of The Morton Arboretum (where I work)

Your avatar is nice too but I feel sorry for your little treed kitty.

@the 3 blogmeisters
I'd like to echo the sentiments of @Crockett1947. Mucho gracias!

split infinitive said...

Any puzzle that starts with 'hurts with a horn' gets my vote. Plus, no mention of Al or Tipper. Anytime I make the same mistake as RexP and his itchy finger means I wasn't too far off track. The word OUTSIZED is good, but can't think of too many ways to use it. Will googlify the term. Swift thinking netted me PEN PAL with no crosses, which could mean --let's hope -- that I'm starting to catch on to the lateral thinking of our under-appreciated constructors.

Thanks Orange --ok, Amy -- for the clips and the write up, and to RexP for chiming in. Thanks also to the jocular erudite crew of commenteers here. You all make my daily bouts of solving/sweating/thinking that much more enjoyable.

Bohica said...

Get ready for a gnarly Naddor Thursday! This one beat and whupped me.

But, I'm sure Rex will find issue with it.