MONDAY, Feb. 8, 2010 — Jerome Gunderson

THEME: SHOOTING STARS (55A: Meteors, and what 20-, 28- and 48-Across all are) — theme answers are people known for their various SHOOTING skills.

An adequate puzzle. Didn't ROCK (60D: Heavy metal is a subgenre of it). Didn't suck. MOSES MALONE is an entirely arbitrary example of a SHOOTING STAR in basketball. He scored a lot, but he never won a scoring title, and was at least as well known for his rebounding. GEORGE MIKAN, BERNARD KING, and (most obvious of all) LEBRON JAMES all won scoring titles and would all have made more more appropriate 11-letter answers here (LEBRON being the obvious choice for a Monday). Other issues: I don't play golf, so the clue on TEE TIME felt clunky to me (43D: Line on a golf course schedule). And AGNEWS (49D: Former V.P. Spiro and family)? If there is only one famous person with a particular name, then don't try to pass off the name as a viable plural. Ugh. Lastly, I've never seen STEP-IN either in the singular, or used to refer to anything other than women's undergarmnets (in the plural). [Intervene] would have been a much better clue there. Still, second-fastest LAT of the year for me.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Pool legend portrayed by Jackie Gleason in "The Hustler" (MINNESOTA FATS)
  • 28A: NBA center who was a three-time MVP (MOSES MALONE)
  • 48A: Wild West show markswoman (ANNIE OAKLEY)

Crosswordese 101: ODEONS (8D: Old music halls) — not usually seen in this plural form. ODEON (sing.) usually gets ODEA as a plural — actually, after looking it up in my actual, enormous, Webster's 3rd Int'l dictionary, I see that "ODEUM" is the preferred spelling there, a Latin word derived from the the Gr. Oideion (now ODEON). So there are two singulars — ODEUM (L.) and ODEON (Gr.) — each with its own plural — ODEA and ODEONS. With their substantial vowel quotient, the ODEON family are crossword regulars — the initial go-to answer for any kind of "theater" clue.

What else?

  • 35D: Feng ___: Chinese aesthetic system (SHUI) — kind of surprised I don't see this more often, given its obvious use-value as an alternative to ETUI in many constructing situations.
  • 3D: Arizonan's neighbor (NEW MEXICAN) — always find state inhabitant nouns clunky. OK, not always — "New Yorker" and "Californian" sound great. but "Utah(a)n" and "Michigander" and the like, ugh. In this case, NEW MEXICAN sounds like someone who just emigrated south-of-the-border.

  • 57D: Algerian port (ORAN) — former Crosswordese 101 word. I put in OMAN instinctively ... but OMAN is a country, not a "port."
  • 65D: Blowup letters? (TNT) — I had "ENL."

That's all. See you Friday.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Grandmotherly nickname (NANA); 5A: Hershey's caramel candy (ROLO); 9A: John who married Pocahontas (ROLFE); 14A: The yoke's on them (OXEN); 15A: In the sack (ABED); 16A: Sci-fi staple (ALIEN); 17A: Small salamander (NEWT); 18A: Therapist's response (I SEE); 19A: Domesticated (TAMED); 20A: Pool legend portrayed by Jackie Gleason in "The Hustler" (MINNESOTA FATS); 23A: 1860s White House nickname (ABE); 25A: Midsection muscles, briefly (ABS); 26A: Pecan or cashew (NUT); 27A: Mingle at the party (MIX); 28A: NBA center who was a three-time MVP (MOSES MALONE); 34A: Big name in elevators (OTIS); 36A: Spider's creation (WEB); 37A: Shoe without laces, e.g. (STEP-IN); 38A: Emulate Rembrandt (ETCH); 39A: Holliday of the Old West (DOC); 41A: Lady's man (GENT); 42A: It's in the eye of the beholder (BEAUTY); 45A: Caveman Alley (OOP); 47A: Top draft status (ONE-A); 48A: Wild West show markswoman (ANNIE OAKLEY); 51A: __ Lanka (SRI); 52A: Food from a shell (EGG); 53A: Female sheep (EWE); 54A: Immigrant's subj. (ESL); 55A: Meteors, and what 20-, 28- and 48-Across all are (SHOOTING STARS); 61A: Dog from Wales (CORGI); 62A: Supermodel Macpherson (ELLE); 63A: Hops drier (OAST); 66A: Fire station signal (ALARM); 67A: Age, as tires (WEAR); 68A: "__, be a pal!" (C'MON); 69A: Actress Zellweger (RENEE); 70A: Stitches (SEWS); 71A: Mild-mannered Clark (KENT); 1D: Oui's opposite (NON); 2D: Gave the __: fired (AXE); 3D: Arizonan's neighbor (NEW MEXICAN); 4D: Naysayer (ANTI); 5D: Word with trout or sherbet (RAINBOW); 6D: Fixated (OBSESSED); 7D: Majors and Trevino (LEES); 8D: Old music halls (ODEONS); 9D: Sound from a woodpecker (RAT-A-TAT); 10D: Name of several Norwegian kings (OLAF); 11D: Peru's capital (LIMA); 12D: Tootsies (FEET); 13D: Conclusions (ENDS); 21D: War site during LBJ's presidency (NAM); 22D: Antacid brand (TUMS); 23D: One-celled organism (AMOEBA); 24D: Attacked by Dracula, say (BITTEN); 29D: Novel on the Net (EBOOK); 30D: Kid's interlocking block (LEGO); 31D: Ali Baba's magical command (OPEN SESAME); 32D: California NFL team, briefly (NINERS); 33D: Involve (ENTAIL); 35D: Feng __: Chinese aesthetic system (SHUI); 40D: Picnic side (COLE SLAW); 43D: Line on a golf course schedule (TEE TIME); 44D: Hindu mystic (YOGI); 46D: Tin alloys (PEWTERS); 49D: Former V.P. Spiro and family (AGNEWS); 50D: Affirmative vote (YEA); 55D: Al Capone feature (SCAR); 56D: Sock darner's target (HOLE); 57D: Algerian port (ORAN); 58D: Giant who's not jolly (OGRE); 59D: Joy (GLEE); 60D: Heavy metal is a subgenre of it (ROCK); 64D: Leif, to Eric the Red (SON); 65D: Blowup letters? (TNT).


mac said...

Have to agree with Rex.
It was very nice to see "amoeba" in its full glory for a change.

xyz said...

Pretty straight forward puzzle, a few needed crosses to be sure, especially starting on 1A - pretty general and bland.

Easily digested.

Sfingi said...

I thought about "slip on" for STEPIN, but I already had NINERS. Which brings me to mentioning that I got all the sports, not because I even knew what sport they were, but because I had actually heard of them. I have heard of MOSESMALONE (and MINNESOTA FATS) and not 2 of the people @Rex mentioned as great shooters. This is, after all, Monday.

@Mac - I'm also glad for AMOEBA.

Later in the week I would love to see for a KENT clue Rockwell Kent.

Van55 said...

Here it is mid-afternoon on an East Coast Monday, and I am only the fourth blogger to post a comment. I wonder if this reflects that the puzzle is pretty unremarkable (I think it is) or that there are a lot of puzzlers nursing post-Super Bowl hangovers.

I found this one pretty easy. But I would have been really irritated if Feng SHUI hadn't fallen from the crosses. Never heard of it.

The theme was just okay for me, dawgs. Gotta agree with Rex that MOSES MALONE wasn't a shooting *star* in his day.

imsdave said...

Ditto with Rex on Agnews. Might be fun in some kind of pun take off on Agnus, but not sitting there by itself. All in all, an agreeable solve.

@Sfingi - I tried SLIPON first, as I had no crosses at that point.

Tuttle said...

Only thing even remotely unpalatable was using initials (LBJ) to clue an abbreviation (NAM). Got MOSESMALONE before the other themes and thought it was going to have to do with grandmothers (Grandma Moses) but I'd never call my nana FATS so that was right out.

I always thought "OPEN SESAME" was a pun either created or transliterated by Burton (open says me) but it turns out it is a literal translation of the Arabic 'simsim' and refers to the way a sesame seed pod opens. Huh. Learn something new every day ...

KJGooster said...

Zipped through this one in a personal best. Getting all four theme answers off the clues will do that for you (Okay, that's not quite true -- I needed the M in NAM to start MOSESMALONE). Only SLIPON for STEPIN and SIREN for ALARM kept me out of the 2:00s for the first time.

Sfingi said...

@Van55 - Feng shui - or as I call it, Sheng Fooie, is an oriental method of aligning the flow in your home so that the right spirits pass in and the bad don't.
My baby sister lives in a town in IA (Fairfield) where half the citizens are newcomers who have followed the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to the Maharishi International University, or MIU. The locals call them "Roos," for gurus. Most of these newcomers - some have been there decades - go for health foods, alternative meds and things like Sheng Fooie.
The philosophy includes changing the door on your house so that faces correctly, positioning the bathroom, oven etc. This creates a lot of work for the building trades. There are new rules each year like Mahjong has.
In Asia, a person hires a special guy to site their home. Hubster's family believes in the evil eye, and all I can say is, for those who believe, it works.

I love a lot of Mideastern sesame products, like the crushed seed spreads and candies made with honey.

ddbmc said...

Just curious, as CORGI, was in the puzzle, is the constructor none other than our "Corgi of Mystery?"

Thanks, @RP, for the ODEON explanation.

Always remember Spiro Agnew's phrase in one of his ANTI press speeches: "...natering nabobs of negatism." I'm thinking Safire wrote that line?

OK Monday fare. @Van55, no residual effects here from yesterday Super Bowl party. Lots of work to get done today, so late to the puzzle. Weekend puzzles are taunting me, as I haven't gotten to them yet!

Rube said...

New (refreshed?) words for me were ORAN & ROLO. You know you're in trouble when OAST is a gimme. An easy Monday solve for me.

For those of you who are mathematically inclined and have TMFT: Way back when, there was a puzzle in Scientific American where you were given that SPIRO x 7 = AGNEW and had to solve by replacing the ten letters with all of the ten digits 0-9, e.g. S has to = 1. At the time, I first solved this by hand and then programmed it in FORTRAN... what jollies!

A moment of silence for the Colts.

Rube said...


It sure was Safire. I just finished his book, Watching My Language at Xmas time. Well worth the read. I was introduced to many words, but the most memorable to me was epigone, which is how I feel about myself on @RPs sites. Will miss him.

shrub5 said...

Didn't fall into the SLIPON shoe trap but I did have a different wrong answer for shoe without laces: SANDAL. That didn't last long, though.

Forgot that Rembrandt was an ETCHer as well as a painter so that answer needed some crosses to reveal itself.

Fresh, entertaining Monday puzzle!! Thanks, Jerome.

Parsan said...

Theme easy and fun with obvious sports people. Busing right along until I misread "1860 White House nickname" (ABE) as "1960" and had IKE which gave me NEW MEXICAN but also imeba (was it Sat. that we had ameba?, sooo?) but then that made Dracula attacking a kitten! I don't think he ever got that desperate! OOPs!!! Reread the clue and got AMOEBA and BITTEN. Must need new glasses.

Sfingi--Agree about Feng SHUI!

"Golf course schedule" would have been enough for TEE TIME.

Growing up, I always thought COLE SLAW was cold slaw (well, it is isn't it?). Wiki. says the term is from the 18th century, a Dutch word koolsla (koolsalade) meaning cabbage salad.

Went to a surprise birthday part Saturday for a man who lives to fish. The cake ($175.00!) was of a creel and RAINBOW trout that was so realistic looking it was hard to believe that it was a cake. It was as good as anything on Cake Boss.

Thanks Rex.

CrazyCat said...

I was speeding through the puzzle this morning thinking it would be my personal best until I got to ORAN and OGRE and blanked out on CORGI. I kept wanting COLLIE even though it didn't fit and I think Collies are Scottish dogs. The really dumb part is that I have a grand puppy that's a CORGI. Never heard of STEP INS to refer to either shoes or undergarments.

I have several books on FENG SHUI. A lot of it involves reducing clutter so the Chi or energy can flow smoothly through the home. You can use mirrors and fountains to help the Chi flow as well. Placement of doors, windows and furniture is very important. Much of FENG SHUI makes sense since it allows one to create a peaceful, calm environment - a kind of place where YOGIS would feel comfortable.

Made COLE SLAW yesterday to go with the Pulled Pork sandwiches.
@ddbmc I may be mistaken, but I think the CORGI of Mystery's real name is Julian Lim.

chefwen said...

@Sfingi - I will never be able to see the words Feng SHUI without morphing it into Sheng Fooie. Cute!

@Parsan - I did the exact same thing with ike/ABE, and felt a little foolish correcting it.

MOSES MALONE was a name I did not know.

Hand up for slip-on and I had toes before feet. Sigh!

ddbmc said...

Thanks, @Rube, for confirming. I'll definitely get the Safire book from the library!

@CCL, I KNEW it was a name that started with "J!" Thanks! Sorry Julian and Jerome for getting you gents mixed up! I should have looked back at the prior blog, before I posted!

wilsch said...

Standard Monday puzzle. Real easy; so-so theme.

Tinbeni said...

This was my fastest Monday solve.
Other than the spelling of ODEONS there was not a single thinking moment.

@ddbmc - Agnew was always good for his alliteration, the "naddering, nabobs of negativity" inspired be to become one.

Fung Shui, knew the answer but I'm a non-practicer of Chinese aesthetic systems.
I entered Corgi for dog from Wales and knew it was right. I have learned from coming here.

This puzzle was a non-learning experience.

@Rex - great write-up of a boring puzzle.

HUTCH said...

I dont know. I always thought tootsies were toes.

mac said...

@Hutch: so did I.

lit.doc said...

@Van55, thought the same thing. Checked in mid-late morning CST and there were three posts. Figured everyone cool was in transit to the ACPT, so didn't bother to engage. And my blood-alcohol level was still too high for the hangover to have begun.

@tinbeni, props for putting it best--"@Rex, great write-up of a boring puzzle."

If I could shred this one in the condition I was in...

Tinbeni said...

If it were not for the hangover this would have been no challenge, and still with the Scotch-Blood level at it's finest, tooooo easy.

Only saving grace was OOP.

My word verification is "Misped" ... sounds fast, I'm not today.

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