THURSDAY, March 25, 2010 — Jeff Chen

Theme: "Fore!" — Say the theme clues out loud and pretend the homophone of what you say is the clue.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: CCCC? [foresees] (TELLS THE FUTURE).
  • 39A: AAAA? [forays] (MILITARY ATTACKS).
  • 56A: TTTT? [forties] (CHILLY FORECAST).
I really enjoyed this puzzle. I thought the cluing was tricky but not too tricky and I had several missteps and "but but but …" moments. We didn't see much in the way of theme density today, but I think the rest of the puzzle makes up for it. Oh, and I love a bunch of the epithets in both the clues and answers:
  • 5A: Dishonorable types (CADS).
  • 24A: Yokel (RUBE).
  • 63A: Big jerks (BOZOS).

  • 9A: Gets off the road, in a way (PLOWS). Me: "Why won't tows fit? Why the h**l won't tows FIT?"
  • 49A: Deli option (TUNA). Wanted the more common rye here.
  • 22D: Wolf pack member (U-BOAT). Was thinking Boy Scouts.
  • 28D: At an impasse, as the Senate (DEADLOCKED). Entered gridlocked without too much hesitation.
Couple more things:
  • 3D: Prepared to speak to a tot, maybe (KNELT). Seems like a fresh clue to me. I think we get the "marriage proposal" clue too often.
  • 8D: Messy situation (SNAFU). We've talked about this recently, haven't we? "Situation Normal All Fouled [or choose another f-word] UP."
  • 32D: Trans-Siberian Railroad city (OMSK). Any of those cities that end in SK remind me of Seinfeld's "Rochelle, Rochelle."
  • 41D: España feature (TILDE). You weren't tricked by this, right? Tell me you weren't tricked by this!
  • 25A: Bird was one, briefly (CELT). And finally, if you were a basketball fan in the 80s, do yourself a favor and find some way to watch the new HBO special "Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals." We happened to catch it at the hotel last weekend and it's outstanding.

Crosswordese 101: The clue for today's CW101 word — 34D: Banned apple spray — is typical. If you see the words banned, bygone, or controversial having to do with an apple, orchard, of fruit spray, you can be certain you're looking at ALAR. The word is sometimes — but rarely — also clued as "winged" or "wing-shaped."

Everything Else — 1A: Torah holders (ARKS); 14A: Spear or pepper follower (-MINT); 15A: End of grace (AMEN); 16A: Sound portion (AUDIO); 17A: On the briny (ASEA); 18A: Pro __ (RATA); 19A: Spills carelessly (SLOPS); 23A: Amount consumed (INTAKE); 27A: Hemingway's Santiago, in the story's title (OLD MAN); 32A: Pontificate (ORATE); 35A: Jessica of "Good Luck Chuck" (ALBA); 38A: Relieve (EASE); 42A: "Get outta here!" ("SCAT!"); 43A: Coward of the stage (NOEL); 44A: Clarifying words (ID EST); 45A: Inchon native (KOREAN); 47A: "__ never work!" (IT'LL); 52A: Hunk (ADONIS); 60A: Santa __: Silicon Valley city (CLARA); 61A: Fuzz (LINT); 62A: DEA agent's discovery (KILO); 64A: Ocean predator (ORCA); 65A: Penultimate fairy tale word (EVER); 66A: Used up (SPENT); 67A: __-do-well (NE'ER); 68A: Information __ (DESK); 1D: Valuable violin (AMATI); 2D: Like baked dough (RISEN); 4D: Overhead projection? (STALACTITE); 5D: Monopoly (CARTEL); 6D: Eastern nurse (AMAH); 7D: Discourage (DETER); 9D: Many a Matisse (PASTEL); 10D: Doozy (LULU); 11D: It's added to natural gas (ODOR); 12D: Use a rag on (WIPE); 13D: Coast Guard pickup (SOS); 21D: Olympic event since 1968 (SKEET); 26D: Poi essential (TARO); 29D: Medieval club (MACE); 30D: More than wonders (ASKS); 31D: Egg site (NEST); 33D: Moneyed, in Madrid (RICO); 36D: Soap ingredient (LYE); 37D: Indonesian island (BALI); 40D: Invalidate (ANNUL); 46D: "Finally!" ("AT LAST!"); 48D: __ sauce: seafood serving (TARTAR); 50D: Polymer introduced by DuPont in 1938 (NYLON); 51D: Blazing (AFIRE); 53D: Like a babe in the woods (NAIVE); 54D: British __ (ISLES); 55D: Childbirth symbol (STORK); 56D: Equine sound (CLOP); 57D: Smog, e.g. (HAZE); 58D: Make smooth, in a way (IRON); 59D: Fairy tale opener (ONCE); 60D: Items used by good buddies (CBS).


gespenst said...


I didn't get the theme AT.ALL. until I read the write up. Of course it makes sense NOW!

I was busy trying to figure out what the heck the long answers had in common, since I couldn't make head nor tails of the theme.

Oh well, love it know that I get it ;)

Most of the puzzle was just slogging it out till things fit.

I loved UBoat ... our local minor league hockey team is the Wolfpack, named after the subs :) so that made sense to me. (Of course when I first saw the logo for the team, with a sub on it, I had to have it explained ...)

Had to look up a couple things, which is unusual for a Thursday, but overall I liked the puzzle.

Van55 said...

I'm with gespenst on the theme. I got "sees" and tellsthefuture. But I couldn't suss out how "tease" and "ays" related to the answers. Now that I cout the numbers of c's a's and t's, I get it and like it. Very little tired and trite fill and just the right amount of difficulty for Thursday.

Tinbeni said...

This puzzle was a LULU.

Working from the bottom up, even after I had the 3rd & 2nd themes, I still didn't get it as I entered TELLS THE FUTURE. Then I slapped my forehead at the DUH! moment. Geez, good job Jeff Chen.

OMSK was a gimmie since I had the KOREAN and the only other 4 letter former USSR city I know is Kiev, which is now in Ukraine.

I guess 24A was your cigar today.

Anonymous said...

Really good Thursday puzzle - one gripe it's sauce tartare, not tartar (a Russian?)so that held me back, otherwise a very good workout. I enjoyed the good cluing.

Google said...

Anon: You're in America, we use the U.S.spelling.

Now if you are solving in France, you would be correct.

hazel said...

OMSK reminds me of the movie Transsiberian with Woody Harrelson which was creepy and fantastic. I might have said this before when OMSK was a clue. I most certainly thought it.

Very cool solve w/ an initially puzzling (!) gimmick.

*David* said...

A cute theme that took a little while to suss out, got it on CHILLY FORECAST. Otherwise the rest of the fill is truly solid, no partials, abbreviations or forced fill.

Sfingi said...

What is this suss out? I reject it. With the umlaut, it means sweet in German and makes no sense.

Sports did me in today. This failure is the kind of thing that makes me not buy the NYT for the day. Yesterday, I bought the Daily NEWS because of the Biden thing (hubster was in Syracuse Law with him) and did the crossword. It was a real crossword, unlike the Daily Post, but the clues were easy and I could hardly see it. One must be careful. It's hard to tell the 2 Dailies apart from the covers.

I got the theme pretty fast. The SKEET thing totally escaped me. I Googled and got relay. What cite did y'all go to, or did you just know it? Didn't know the OLDMAN's name, or INCHON and Googled them. This was testosterone overload. Hmm, did I say that about a previous Chen cw?

@John - It's noon. Where R U?

Anonymous said...

@Google - thanks, did not think of the obvious, alien though I am. But I thought I had seen it with an "e" on one brand or another. Oh well.

dictionary.com said...

"to figure out, investigate and discover," 1966, earlier "to suspect" (1953, police jargon), a slang shortening of suspect (v.).

Tinbeni said...

I follow sports quite a bit.
21D was pretty arcane, almost a Natick.
I mean who remembers the year when SKEET became an Olympic Sport?
Probably the Skeet aficionados.

I like beach volleyball, watch it during the Olympics but I have no idea what year it became an Olympic event.
But with the "E" from CELT and ORATE --EE- it was a groan as I filled it in.

Constructor's please forget the years or sports when they became an Olympic Event. Not a good 'clue idea.'


Mr. Chen is a blatant plagarist.
This theme has been used before in a crossword book.
ALL the fill is miserably banal!
Not even one original word.

Orange said...

FAULT FINDER is funny. The vast majority of crosswords, one notes, contain no original words at all, but rather, words that already exist in our language and culture. (The editors frown on constructors making up their own words.)

Darryl said...

The 1968 (or whatever) in the clue for SKEET can't possible be thought of as directly important. I always take those types of clues as indicating that it is not a mainstream sport, i.e. it didn't make it until 1968. It could have equally been rythmic dancing, pairs trampoline, anything. To me, this clue simply reads "Third Tier Sport".


orange, you know damned well what I mean.
I know the rules about made-up words.
I'm talking about words that haven't been used in every crossword puzzle.
Tell me one that's in this puzzle.

lit.doc said...

@Puzzle Girl, one word. Coulrophobia. And no—for probably the first time eeever, I wasn’t tricked by the eñe. But thank you for asking.

From the moment I saw what was going on, my inner child hoped that the theme-reveal would be a clue/answer reversal like “Some solvers’ responses to letter-repetition themes” (QQQQ). As it turned out, though, the puzzle was perfectly fine IMHO, if a bit easy for Thursday.

MaryOR said...

@John - It's noon. Where R U?

John probably won't be back, since Rex slammed him for too long comments yesterday. Too bad, because I enjoy his witty remarks.

Mary in Oregon

*David* said...

FF, what was the last puzzle you did that had STALACTITE? When was the last time you did a puzzle that had more then three original words in it? When was the last time anyone cared if a word has been used and how often?

Darryl said...

@Orange - You mean the puzzle I just finished based on this comments section won't pass muster? All the anwer/clue pairs are the captchas we've cited, clued by our comments about them, over the past month or so. Gotta tell you, totally awsome!


Barry Silk, Byron Walden and Pat Merrill, and I think BEQ, have used "stalactites" in their puzzles. But i'll grant you that it's not very common. So we have one good word. I'm giddy with excitement.

Rube said...

Found this puzzle more Tuesdayish than Thursday. Omsk always makes me think of one of the territories in the board game Risk. Used to have a PC version of Risk. Played it all the time, sort of like Spider Solitaire today.

Had a hard time with the clue about Bird. Kept thinking of the polar explorer. There's a connection here. Larry Bird was called "the hick from French Lick", making him a "yokel" or RUBE. Thanks @Tinbeni for the cigar. Too bad I don't smoke anymore, and if I did it wouldn't be cigars. Here's Mud in your eye, @CC, thanks for noticing too.

By the way @CC. Why have you dropped "Lady" from your moniker? Or is there something here you would rather not talk about?

Didn't we have SKEET here or in the NYT, clued almost identically, sometime within the last few weeks?

Joon said...

hey fault finder: if you don't like the puzzle, that's your right. and if you think the fill is stale, well, you're certainly entitled to that opinion too. but accusing the constructor of blatant plagiarism is a serious charge, and one that you've made anonymously, like a true coward. there's no place for that here, or anywhere.

there are hundreds of thousands of previous crosswords. the vast majority of themes have been "done before." but this theme was clever, and even though i have done a lot of crossword puzzles, i haven't seen it. so don't you try to tell me it wasn't a fresh, entertaining theme. if it really turns out that both the theme and the grid are lifted from an existing puzzle, then yes, that's likely to be plagiarism. but chances are it's just two people independently coming up with the same clever theme. i don't know what the word for that is, but "plagiarism" sure as hell ain't it.

the only thing i didn't like about the theme, by the way, was the "clue" (actually answer) to TTTT. not only is it somewhat inelegant to use "fore" in the answer, but nothing about "chilly forecast" really suggests the 40s. i mean, the 50s are chilly too. (and the 60s, in my opinion, but i'm a cold wimp and i know it.) as are the 30s, and anything below. i suppose once you get down into the teens and colder, it goes from "chilly" to "really freaking cold" to "spit goes clink."

i can't think of a good alternate clue, though. VERY LARGE BEERS? MIDDLE AGE YEARS? there should be some way of cluing the 1940s, but i can't do it in 14 letters.

CW 101 addendum: ALAR is sometimes clued as the trade name of daminozide. i've seen that one a few times, though only in very tough puzzles.

and tinbeni, there are a few more 4-letter ex-USSR cities that pop up in puzzles: ORSK, OREL, and RIGA come immediately to mind.

Jeff Chen said...

@Orange: hee hee hee hee! A little coffee went out my nose when I read your response to FF. I think I will try constructing a puzzle using completely original words, around a BLORKFRAUDEING theme. I'm reasonably sure that has never been done before.

@Joon: Excellent comment, it gets to the heart of an issue Rich and I went back on forth on. I sent this puzzle to Rex (thanks for the encouragement Rex!) several months ago, and your comment was right with his. Rich and I figured that this being the LA Times, the 40's would be chilly enough. I originally had BIGBEERBOTTLES but he thought it wasn't well known enough. True, it's been a long time since I've had a Mickey's Big Mouth (thankfully).

Incidentally, I originally also had a fourth theme answer IIII, with PLAYGROUNDTAUNT as the answer, but Rich thought it was inconsistent, and being an insult wasn't desirable.

Thanks for the comments, glad most people enjoyed it! FF, sorry you didn't. I certainly didn't plagarize it. I would be very interested to hear what kind of puzzles you would like to see in the future. Constructing is really fun, maybe you should give it a shot! I'd be happy to lend a hand if you would like. It's a bit of a steep learning curve.


Darryl said...

Ha! Orange gave Jeff a nose-job. For the uninformed, a nose-job is exactly as Jeff described it, a comment which makes someone else egest liquid from their nose.

shrub5 said...

Clever theme; puzzle seemed a bit easy for a Thursday. I had one writeover: INFANTRY ATTACKS before MILITARY ATTACKS. I was moving across the grid from R to L so had ------RYATTACKS and infantry popped into mind.

Wolf pack member: UBOAT was unknown to me. Looked it up after finishing. Also CARTEL for monopoly was a new slant to my understanding of that word.

An odorant such as t-butyl mercaptan is added to odorless natural gas so leaks can be detected before an explosion occurs. It has a rotting cabbage-like smell.

I'm still having trouble with cruciverb.com. I can get onto the site but when I click on LAT, I get gobbledygook. Is anyone else having this problem?

CrazyCat said...

@Rube Ok I put the L back in CCL. I just thought it was shorter. No identity crisis or anything.
@Lit.doc Love coulrophobia - Fear of BOZOS.
@Jeff Thanks for a fun puzzle.

CrazyCat said...

One more thing. For those of you who are Dan Naddor fans, there is a lovely tribute to him today on Wordplay @ the NYT. I would include a link if I knew how.

Orange said...

Here's the link CrazyCatLady mentioned, to the Wordplay remembrance. The highlight: Learning that Dan's wife arranged the chairs like a crossword grid at his memorial service. 15x15, with 36 black squares in a symmetrical pattern among the white chairs.

Rex Parker said...


I just did this, speeding through, not really paying attention (typical), and halfway through I thought "hey ... I've done this puzzle ... I've *tested* this puzzle ..." Congrats. I know you worked hard to make the theme make sense (and I remember the 40s/"Chilly" issue very well — I live in NY, so I was like "???").

"Plagiarism," jeez. Stupidest comment I've ever read from someone who appears to do a lot of xwords.

Must have missed the article by Gaffney wherein he details writing an original puzzle only to discover that someone else had made almost the identical puzzle — same theme answers, in same positions, with very similar grids. It happens. Fact is that most grids have next-to-no original (i.e. never-been-used-in-xwords) words in them outside the theme answers. Non-theme fill here isn't scintillating, but it's very, very smooth, and anyone who does a ton of xwords can see this.

Again, good job, Jeff.


Tuttle said...

OMSK was a gimmie since I had the KOREAN and the only other 4 letter former USSR city I know is Kiev, which is now in Ukraine.

Ursk and Orsk. Four letters, end in a K and on the trans-siberian.

bluebell said...

I live in Northern CA and for me the 40's are chilly. Is it unsportsmanlike to say "neener, neener, neener"? (Sp?)

Once I figured out 4 A's, 4 C's and 4 T's, this was fun. Took me much too long to figure it out though. Some mornings not even coffee helps.

Crockett1947 said...

PuzzleGirl I wasn't tricked by the Espana clue. TY!

mac said...

I liked this puzzle a lot! Didn't figure out the theme until halfway throughm, but I did it mostly down anyway. Thanks for the comment, Jeff, the 4 Is had me laughing!

It seems to me we had the Tartar discussion once before.

@Orange, I agree, that was amazing about the 225 chairs. By the way, I can get the LAT puzzle again from my toolbar.

@Joon: that is a perfect magazine or site for you!

split infinitive said...

Figuring out the theme took me longer than I'd admit to, but I enjoyed the AHA that went with it. Nice clean fill, and helpful crosses made it solving unknowns like SKEET possible. PG: you really made me think today & were clear/entertaining to boot!

@Jeff C.: nice work! Hope to see more.

@Joon & @ Amy &@Rex: thanks for answering the "charges" against the puzzle. Even if your comments don't convince an unrepetant anon. coward, it's good for ALL of us to be reminded of how the xwords come together and how each constructor/editor deals with the balance between "fresh" vs "banal" vs "obscure".

Lex said...

@CCL and @Orange: A beautiful tribute indeed. Thanks for pointing it out.

@Jeff: Thanks for stopping by! Really enjoyed your insights. Thought the theme was very clever and the puzzle overall was fantastic.

Re: theme possibly being done before:
This is purely a guess, (and I know a "crossword book" was originally claimed), but maybe FaultFinder was actually thinking of Ashish Vengsarkar's Repeat Offenders NYT puzzle? Not really the same thing, though basically the same idea in reverse, without the number included. In any case, Joon and Rex already did a great job explaining why similar or even identical themes do not mean plagiarism. (And here's the link to the Matt Gaffney article Rex mentioned, in case anyone else is interested.)

Thanks again for the puzzle, Jeff (keep 'em coming!)
And of course, thanks for the writeup, PuzzleGirl!

chefwen said...

@joon - Spit goes clink, very funny unless you are in weather like that, then NOT funny at all.

Loved the puzzle, got a little hung up in the IDEST area, but not too seriously.

I agree that it was a little easy for Thursday, bot fun nonetheless.

Tinbeni said...

I worked in Riga, Latvia a few years back.
The people I met there hardly even acknowledge that they were formerly part of the USSR, separate since 1991.

OREL I've seen before, almost always clued as the river.

ORSK (and @Tuttle, URSK) I think those brain cells in this OLDMAN have been disconnected.
Checked the Trans-Siberian Route on google. They weren't listed as stops but Perm and Zima (2 more 4 letter Russian cities) were. I've added them to my grey area.

Thanks for the link to the Gaffney article.

I live in Tampa Bay and the 40's are described here as downright freezing. As an age group, young.
I look forward to more of your offerings.

Burner10 said...

Fun puzzle and fun blog - sorry but I don't miss JNH - I always think he should start his own site.
Took me longer than I'd care to admit..

Sfingi said...

@John - It's not too late! Will I have to go to Chicago to get ya? I'm afraid I'm next!

@Tinbeni - yeah - 40 degrees this week is considered great, if no wind or rain. People go around in T-shirts.
I once worked in a place where the jons steamed after use. The guy from CA noticed it.

The thing about SKEET is I actually Googled for the 1968 Olympics and could only come up with men's relay. I guess everyone got it by crosses.

@Jeff - I sneeze and it comes out of my eyes. And that OLDlady thing happens, too.

@LitDoc - Now, why didn't I think of that. Oh, I'm a lady,
I have to go 4 Is (IIII) to read CWs, and now I need 40 Zs - I won't write them out.

Hmmm - forty - Forty thieves, winks, niners, acres and a mule, foot rope, hour work week, holy martyrs, -ninth parallel, year-old virgin. I give this to anyone who's good at making cws, since I'm not. Skip the martyrs. That's a little too arcane. How about that French woman who saw 40 three times (as in, "I'll never see 40 again...or again, or again). I'm sure you can fit that in, too.