MONDAY, Feb. 1, 2010 — David W. Cromer

THEME: POKER (69A: Texas Hold 'em, e.g., and a hint to this puzzle's theme) — two-word phrases that start with POKER-related "-ING" words

Not sure about this -ING business. You open, call, raise, and fold. Maybe (likely) this theme has been done before — perhaps multiple times. Maybe the -ING business is supposed to add something new. All in all, kind of boring, and the construction of the grid sets up a disastrous SW corner word: PIVOTER!? (44D: One doing a pirouette, e.g.). With the "I," "O," and "R" immovable, you're kind of trapped down there, construction-wise, though that should have been the FIRST word entered into the grid after the theme answers were laid out. PIVOTER is an especially odd Odd Job when you've already got ELOPER :( in the NW corner (2D: Romeo or Juliet). And what is up with the abbrev. "cust."!? That's accepted for "customer?" "Ugly" is the best thing I can say about that (46D: Brokerage cust.). Wish SCENE I had been tied into "Romeo and Juliet" (4D: First part of an act).

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Broadway premiere (OPENING NIGHT)
  • 28A: Making lots of noise (RAISING A RUCKUS)
  • 47A: Start of a wide-area police radio alert (CALLING ALL CARS)
  • 57A: Seating for extra guests, maybe (FOLDING TABLE) — wish that this, like the others, had been utterly non-POKER in context. People play POKER on FOLDING TABLEs all the time.

Crosswordese 101: ILIA (58D: Hip bones) — plural of ILIUM, the "the uppermost and largest bone of the pelvis" (wikipedia). ILIA is also the first name of Olympic figure skating gold medalist ILIA Kulik, whose name seems to be popping up in a lot of my puzzles lately. That could just be a fluke.

Loved HASH OUT (9D: Discuss thoroughly). Liked REBOOT (51D: Start again, as after a computer system crash). Boo and hiss at INST., since "INSTitute" is what the "I" in MIT stands for (21D: MIT, for one: Abbr.). I had UNIV. MIL is a unit of measurement I don't see often (40D: Wire diameter measure). TADS is a ridiculous and likely dated word for [Boys] — especially annoying, since it's just one letter off from the much more appropriate / in-the-language LADS. No such thing as a GADGEL, though (49D: Thingamajig).

See you Friday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Cribbage pieces (PEGS); 5A: Shaving gel alternative (FOAM); 9A: More than disliked (HATED); 14A: Power co. product (ELEC.); 15A: "Tickle me" doll (ELMO); 16A: Texas mission to remember (ALAMO); 17A: Volcano feature (CONE); 18A: Equestrian's control (REIN); 19A: Organizes alphabetically, say (SORTS); 20A: Broadway premiere (OPENING NIGHT); 23A: __-card stud (SEVEN); 24A: Corp. honcho (CEO); 25A: Natural spring (SPA); 28A: Making lots of noise (RAISING A RUCKUS); 33A: Genealogist's chart (TREE); 34A: No-treat consequence? (TRICK); 35A: Speech impediment (LISP); 39A: Arises (from) (STEMS); 42A: Till bills (ONES); 43A: Like draft beer (ON TAP); 45A: 1492 Atlantic crosser (NINA); 47A: Start of a wide-area police radio alert (CALLING ALL CARS); 53A: Artist Yoko (ONO); 54A: By way of (VIA); 55A: Athletic shoe's turf grabber (CLEAT); 57A: Seating for extra guests, maybe (FOLDING TABLE); 61A: Yell (SHOUT); 64A: __ club: singing group (GLEE); 65A: Decisive victory (ROUT); 66A: Lower in esteem (ABASE); 67A: Name on many Irish coins (EIRE); 68A: Far Eastern detective played by Lorre (MOTO); 69A: Texas Hold 'em, e.g., and a hint to this puzzle's theme (POKER); 70A: Boys (TADS); 71A: British weapon of WWII (STEN); 1D: __ Bill: legendary cowboy (PECOS); 2D: Romeo or Juliet, marriagewise (ELOPER); 3D: Swiss city on the Rhone (GENEVA); 4D: First part of an act (SCENE I); 5D: Plant with fronds (FERN); 6D: Designer Cassini (OLEG); 7D: Ugandan dictator (AMIN); 8D: Seles of tennis (MONICA); 9D: Discuss thoroughly (HASH OUT); 10D: Often (A LOT); 11D: La Brea stuff (TAR); 12D: CPR giver, often (EMT); 13D: Hair styles (DOS); 21D: MIT, for one: Abbr. (INST.); 22D: Berlin's land: Abbr. (GER.); 25D: Porous organ (SKIN); 26D: Brownish purple (PUCE); 27D: Inquires (ASKS); 29D: Tax-auditing org. (IRS); 30D: Keep after taxes (NET); 31D: Davis who played Thelma (GEENA); 32D: __-Magnon (CRO); 35D: Bonkers (LOCO); 36D: Words before instant or emergency (IN AN); 37D: WWII invasion city (ST.-LÔ); 38D: Good bud (PAL); 40D: Wire diameter measure (MIL); 41D: NBC weekend hit, briefly (SNL); 44D: One doing a pirouette, e.g. (PIVOTER); 46D: Brokerage cust. (ACCT.); 48D: It's nothing (NIL); 49D: Thingamajig (GADGET); 50D: Security devices (ALARMS); 51D: Start again, as after a computer system crash (REBOOT); 52D: Military greeting (SALUTE); 56D: Wyoming's __ Range (TETON); 57D: Firecracker cord (FUSE); 58D: Hip bones (ILIA); 59D: Socially inept type (NERD); 60D: Thousands, in a heist (GEES); 61D: Maple syrup base (SAP); 62D: "True Blood" network (HBO); 63D: Acorn's destiny (OAK).


Parsan said...

Yes, had gadgel for GADGET for a second. Theme was evident early on and the puzzle filled in as fast as I could write. ELOPER clued oddly. PUCE a great sounding word to describe the color. MONICA a fine player who got stabbed by a man who was LOCO. And how about Federer? The puzzle was just fill in the blanks. It's Monday.

Thanks Rex!

Joon said...

re: PIVOTER... WIDOWER or BIPOLAR fits, but i'm not sure you could get the rest of the fill to work out. WIN OVER, too, but that gives you a terminal V, which never did anybody any good.

Sfingi said...

@Rex@Parsan - totally agree.

The only thing I know about poker is from the Kenny Roger song, and that you can actually win against the house if you have a good memory, but then they'll ban you.

A more sophisticated NINA would be Al Hirschfeld's daughter, whose name he worked into his cartoons.

Tinbeni said...

Being of Swiss heritage (Father side), GENEVA hits home and I get to invoke it whenever Federer wins, otherwise I strive to remain neutral on everything that isn't Scotch. (or statements that aren't LOCO!)

Once again, fave clue answer was ON TAP, alas, its always beer.

"Start again" (only) as the clue for REBOOT would have been enough if this was Fri. or Sat., but it is Monday, ergo EASY.

Did like the IRS/NET next to each other.

Van55 said...

We seem to have seen a lot of the infamous Ugandan dictator in the puzzles of late. Are these constructors IDIots? (Just kidding!)

I had no issues with the INGs in the theme answers. Enjoyed the puzzle, in the main. PIVOTER does seem lame.

Burner10 said...

I liked @joons musings in response to the write up more than the puzzle. Ho hum for me.

KJGooster said...

Tried RAISING THE ROOF instead of A RUCKUS, but that was my only serious hangup. Agree about the -ING business, though.

And if you haven't seen GLEE on Fox, you really ought to give it a try. Don't take it too seriously, just go with it...

hazel said...

Did the puzzle earlier this morning, completely forgot everything about it until I came here.

Agree with Rex and others that it was a total yawner. Don't really care about the ING, but the phrases are just not worthy (aside from CALLINGALLCARS).

The puzzle needs pizzazz, a good backup band, a little help from the rest of the grid. Seems like words like CHIP, DEAL, ANTE, RENO, KENO, etc. would be relatively easy to work in, which would definitely add to the thematic saturation - which, in turn, would help me remember for more than 10 seconds that the puzzle actually had a POKER theme.

Tuttle said...

Sfingi, you can, if you have the memory, count cards in blackjack (and similar games) but in poker it is much harder to game the table in that manner. Poker cheats (not that counting cards is, technically, cheating) tend to use a collusion strategy where two or more players work together secretly to increase their odds. I mean aside from traditional sleight of hand carsharking.

To bring this back to the puzzle, a bunch of NERDs from MIT's secretive Blackjack Club get together every year to go and clean out a casino by running a massive collusion scheme (not always Blackjack, they have gamed poker tournaments as well).

C said...

Puzzle was an exercise in writing letters into blank squares. It is Monday so expectations met.

Interesting thing about poker at a casino is that you can't cheat the house (i.e. casino), the house gets its cut of every pot, you can only cheat other players out of their money. Not a good way to make friends. Card counting isn't cheating in poker, quite the opposite, it's a necessity, so count away.

chefbea said...

I agree.. very easy monday puzzle

One doing a pirouette is of course a ballet dancer - but that wouldn't fit.

Didn't like tads

lit.doc said...

@Hazel, “yawner” is the perfect word for this one. Loved your idea about getting it a back-up band!

@C, file under couldn’t have said it better: “…exercise in writing letters in blank squares.” LOL.

I haven’t done a gazillionth of the puzzles most of you have, but I’ve already seen plenty of evidence that ease of solving doesn’t have to involve the absence of fun.

My pet peeve kvetch of the day is that, were you to walk into a hardware store and ask an employee for some 2.053 mm wire, you would get a blank stare on a *good* day. Wire is measured by gauge, e.g. 2.053 mm = 12 ga. I hereby cast the clue for 40D into Outer Darkness.

And today’s Utter Lamitude Award is shared by PIVOTER and TADS. Uck.

mac said...

Very easy puzzle, but pretty dense theme, so pretty good for a Monday.
For 44D I had the P and the V first, and thought it was a pretty meager clue for Pavlova.

I've stood at the window of Al Hirschfeld's little gallery on Madison Avenue several times trying to find the "Nina".

Ah, this time a non-Catalan lisp, or am I mixing up my puzzles?

mac said...

@lit.doc: when I buy silver and gold wire, I'm the one mentioning the gauge (I work mostly with 24, 26 and 28), the sales people at Ross Metals calculate it back to mm.

Joon said...

for the record, a MIL is not a millimeter. it's a thousandth of an inch, which is about 0.025 mm. it's a real word, not an abbreviation. i think it is used more frequently to measure the thickness of very thin sheets than to talk about wire diameters, but i've seen it used for wires.

weirdly, my oxford american dictionary claims that "mil" can be an abbreviation for millimeter. i do not believe this to be true. (it's also short for milliliter, and i do believe that one.)

Charles Bogle said...

@Rex, @Parsan, @Sfingi: ditto; totally agree

puzzle had the good (theme idea, HASHOUT, ABASE, LOCO, ILIA), the bad (eg, PIVOTER, ELOPER) and the ugly (eg, TADS? STEN? ACCT?)

sadly, even the inclusion of Peter Lorre's great Mr. MOTO character couldn't move both thumbs up...but it is Monday

Tinbeni said...

@Charles Bogle
At least it had Draft Beer, ON TAP. With an implied head on it, FOAM.

I think your suggestion re:additional poker theme type words could have change the rating on this offering.

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Sfingi said...

@Tuttle - thanx for the info. I don't know the difference between Black Jack and Poker. A friend of mine once won 35G playing poker at an Indian casino, so I guess he's good.

@C - I agree. The house is always ahead. The only time I ever go to "our" Indian casino is for a show, food or to buy some stuff w/o tax, which is pushing 9% here.

MILs were also used as thousandths of a dollar at one time. One of my former employers, Chicago Pneumatic, calculated (in the '80s) using such prices for small tool parts. Companies - mostly auto - bought enough for the final price to add up to large figures.


Agree with Rex et al, this was a total yawner. Lots of crappy 3 and 4 letter fill words and worn-out clues. Not even ONE new word. Even the blog writeup was rather boring today. Why did I waste my time.


TADS = Lincoln's son and others.
LISP = Castilian ceceo.
GER = Mongolian yurt.
VIA = ___ Veneto (famous Roman street)
Come on, Rich, you can do better on those brainless clues.

Carol said...


Tinbeni said...

I never really consider my solve time since I do them watching the morning news, CNBC, in pen on paper.
But lately I have noticed on Monday there has not been a single really clever clue or learning experience.
Then I remember how my brain worked approaching a CW before I came to this Blog.
I personally think, we have become better solvers by at least plus 50 or 60 percent.
Ergo, the Mon.to Wed. are like taking batting practice, its not like hitting in a real game and not as much of a challenge.

When I came here this morning, I was wondering how Rex was going to handle this cheapie.

Rex your write-up was better than the puzzle.

Orange said...

@JNH: Clueing GER as a Mongolian yurt would be the height of pointless obscurity. [Castilian ceceo] is absolutely not a Monday-friendly clue. VIA is easy with the [By way of] clue, and Mondays are all about easy. I like your TADS alternative, though.

lit.doc said...

@Joon, thanks for the reminder re mil. My brain had stuck that one up on the top shelf of one or another closet. That said, wire is still, as a practical matter, measured by gauge.

mac said...

@Joon: you are right, the wire was probably measured in mils, a thousandth of an inch, since this is NY. I grew up with the metric system, and a milimeter is mm, a mililiter ml.


I agree, the GER (Yurt) is a bit obscure... I'm into yurts, but I guess most people are not. I also agree that Mondays are all about easy. I just think even a Monday puzzle can have more exciting clues than we had today.
And technically a ceceo is not a LISP.
I had no problem with MIL. I used to work for a company that wound springs from wires measured in mils... an industry standard. Most electrical wiring is given in gauge numbers (AWG Standard) or as we used to specify on the blueprints "Brown & Sharpe). There is a formulaic relationship between them though.

Anonymous said...

As an electrical engineer, my pencil really wanted 40D to be AWG, which is an abbreviation of American Wire Gauge. It is rare to refer to wire size using any other scale. This being an American puzzle, mil ought to be 0.001 inches. Wire diameter can certainly be measured in mils, but so can any other length.

Anonymous said...

i've also seen MIL commonly used as a standard for sheets of plastic film

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