MONDAY, Apr. 19, 2010 — Mike Peluso

THEME: Baseball names in non-baseball contexts — familiar phrases where final word happens to be name of a Major League Baseball team

Fastest puzzle of the year. I'm waist-deep in baseball right now (wallowing, mostly, as my Red Sox are doing their best to suck worse than any team has sucked in the history of sucking right now). But even if I hadn't been a fan, this puzzle would have been easy. The only issue is XIAN (18A: Central Chinese tourist city) — a total outlier in a puzzle full of otherwise utterly familiar stuff. We should develop a program that will show just how much of the fill in any given puzzle has shown up in our Crosswordese 101 segment before. Feels like a lot today, though possibly no more than your typical Monday puzzle. Could've done without the ESSEN / ESSES pair, and YEOW is not an intuitive spelling for me, but otherwise, it was a fine, inoffensive puzzle.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: San Francisco players not paying attention? (SLEEPING GIANTS)
  • 25A: Minnesota players from old Bangkok? (SIAMESE TWINS)
  • 49A: Anaheim players tripping over their own feet? (FALLEN ANGELS)
  • 57A: Pittsburgh players from old Algiers? (BARBARY PIRATES)

Don't like that two of these have the "from old [somewhere]" in the clue. Make all clues follow same wording, or let them all be different, but don't give two the same wording and the others something else. Feels sloppy and uneven. Also, BARBARY PIRATES, while an acceptable phrase, certainly isn't as coherent and snappy and familiar as the others. I know BARBARY COAST. I just inferred BARBARY from crosses, and got PIRATES from the clue.

Crosswordese 101: ENUF (32D: A sufficient amount, in slang) — the crossword loves its variants of "enough." There's this one, which is super stupid and is used only in *written* "slang" (where, exactly, I don't know — advertisements and crappy band names, probably); and then there's the higherbrow ENOW — a poetic, bygone, Shakespearean version of the same thing. If Shakespeare had tweeted, he'd have used ENUF. Otherwise, like any sensible person, he'd have stayed the hell away from it. "'NUFF said." (an expression I hate worse than almost any other)


  • 36A: Artist M.C. known for illusionary work (ESCHER) — tearing through this puzzle, I had ESCHE- and confidently dropped a "W" in that slot without ever looking at the clue. Mistake.
  • 9D: Mötley Crüe duo? (UMLAUTS) — by now, you should be seeing straight through tricks like this.
  • 29D: Chain restaurant with a blue roof (IHOP) — went there just yesterday, where wife got the saddest, limpest, palest excuse for a waffle ever. Boooo. Too bad I can't stay made at IHOP. I just love it too much. I love it from back when it had a kangaroo mascot. I am an IHOP NERD (nice juxtaposition).
  • 53A: Word in an oxymoronic Michael J. Fox movie title (FUTURE) — as in "Back to the." I was thinking "what's oxymoronic about 'Doc Hollywood' or 'Teen Wolf'?"

See you Friday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Sfingi said...

This was also my fastest, which doesn't mean much between my squinting to see the numbers and forgetting what I was going to write down. Personal best.

Never heard of XIAN. Looked up after solving to find out exactly what PDA means - Personal Digital Assistant. Assistant?

Got all the sports on crosses.

ESCHER reminded me of one of my worst mistakes. Back in the early '70s, my sister was working for Ferdinand Roten Gallery in Baltimore. I coulda bought an Escher for peanuts, but It only seemed clever, not brilliant or beautiful to me. Doh.

Matt Groening did a take-off of Escher with his earlier cartoon, Jeff and Akbar, but I couldn't find it on the internet. He also did a show with the Simpson's. I did find this:

And Motley Crue's umlauts are simply decorative, thus annoying. Umlauts are used to change the vowel sound.


Nice quick Monday puzzle.

Although I’m not big on sports clues, I liked this theme.

Liked the French word OEIL… brings to mind a type of art known as trompe l'oeil, which is French for 'trick the eye'.
I also like the Op-Art of M. C. ESCHER.

I love and care for the well-being of all types of animals, but I think PETA are a bunch of “DWEEBS”, maybe I’d even consider them NUTS. The true animal lovers are unsung people like Rex, who rescue dogs, and how can I forget CrazyCatLady.
But now, SAKI (MUNRO), now there’s another great animal lover.

Nice to see AURORA in the puzzle… that’s my hometown.

A few years ago I did extensive traveling in China, with the idea that I might teach a year of college level courses. The area that was most needy for American instructors was XI'AN in the Shaanxi. This is an amazing walled city with the biggest tourist attraction in China next to the Great Wall... the Underground Terra Cotta Warriors. I enjoyed the students and looked forward to the prospect, however the air quality was hugely atrocious! Prior to going, I had no idea that China's air pollution is so bad. So bad that I nearly died of an asthma attack. Needless to say XI'AN will just remain a memory.

We see SNL so often in puzzles… it URGES me to ask, “what’s your fave SNL skit and SNL character?”

Rex, I enjoyed your writeup this morning. I agree, it was a fast solve, but then let's get going outside. PLAY BALL!!!!

Think I’ll go to IHOP this morning for a stack of soggy pancakes and then off to the arboretum.

mac said...

Nice Monday puzzle, where I also had to cross hard to get the Barbary. Shouldn't the clue for 25 inclue old Thailand instead of Bangkok?

Got my Pittsburgh teams confused and wanted the Steelers....

Doug P said...

Shouldn't the clue for 49-Across be "Los Angeles players of Anaheim tripping over their own feet?"? I liked them much better when they were just the California Angels.

Nice Monday theme, though I agree that BARBARY PIRATES feels like the odd entry out.

Zeke said...

I gotta give the Barbary Pirates some respect, for it was their actions which ultimately resulted in the Treaty of Tripoli, which included Article 11:
Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
This was ratified unanimously by the Senate, signed by John Adams. The Founding Fathers recognized and respected the difference between a nation predominately made up of Christians and a "Christian Nation".

shrub5 said...

Speedy solve but not without a couple of writeovers. I had GOADS for "eggs on" before correcting to URGES. Had YELP for a while instead of YEOW. Early on, I hadn't completely grasped the theme (but knew it was baseball teams) and was trying to make sense of CLUMSY ANGELS?

lit.doc said...

Solve took this long.

Van55 said...

Simple, enjoyable puzzle. Missed several clues/answers due to ease of solving, including ESCHER.

Rube said...

@Zeke, thanks for pointing out the Treaty of Tripoli and it's Article 11. Googled it. Most Interesting. Stuff like this makes this blog most interesting and educational.

XIAN and Zeke's contribution are the two things of value for this puzzle. Wife and I are thinking of "doing" China next year and XIAN with it's terra cotta warriors is definitely on the list.

An enjoyable, pleasant, and quick solve.

C said...

I like Baseball so I liked this puzzle.

@Doug P, yes, good correction to the clue, if they want to use that inane title, it should be enforced in crosswords. Don't like the Angels after they out steroided my Giants and won the 2002 world series.

Tinbeni said...

Was watching the History Channel and just when I got to XI'AN, they were showing the Terra Cotta warriors on the screen.

@Sfingi: Please tell that your UTICA went in instantly.

@Shrub5: Thought Goads, but the GNATs, no-see-em's, over-ruled.

@Zeke: Great info, thanks.

@C: My Yankees out steroided those Angels last year.

@Rex: UMLAUTS fell for the reason you stated.
I guess my local Rays aren't making this a happy Patriots's Day for your beloved Sox.

Tuttle said...

The BARBARY PIRATES also gave us the "shores of Tripoli" line in the Marine Corps hymn.

Again, not a fan of words from languages that use different alphabets. Xian, Sian, Hsu-an and Chang'an are all acceptable renditions into the Latin alphabet of the Chinese city's name.

SOS is not the sailor's 'mayday', it's the Morse code for mayday. Over voice channels the distress code is still "mayday, mayday, mayday" wether on air, land or sea.

McGrubber said...

@Tuttle - I'm pretty sure I just saw a McGuyver re-run where he was stranded in a dingy, took a chewing gum wrapper, fashioned it into a mirror, and signaled SOS to a passing freighter.

Tinbeni said...

SOS is the commonly used description for
the international Morse code distress signal
(· · · — — — · · ·).
This distress signal was first adopted by the German government in radio regulations effective April 1, 1905, and became the worldwide standard under the second International Radiotelegraphic Convention, which was signed on November 3, 1906 and became effective on July 1, 1908.

SOS remained the maritime radio distress signal until 1999, when it was replaced by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System. SOS is still recognized as a visual distress signal.

In popular usage, SOS became associated with phrases such as "save our ship" or "save our souls".

As the SOS signal is a prosign, its respective letters have no inherent meaning per se, it was simply chosen due to it being easy to remember. (wiki)

How did you fit the "mayday, mayday, mayday" into
the 3 letter grid?


There are two areas in Thailand known as "old Bangkok."
One is Rattanakosin Island and the other is Siam City. Hence the name of someone living in Siam, Thailand is Siamese. So I don't think Mike Peluso broke any construction rules on that clue.

Thanks @Zeke and 2Tuttle for the info on Tripoli.

Gunghy said...

Did anyone else long for 'cursed NY team'??

JIMMIE said...

It is nice to get a CW that depends only on how fast my pencil can fill in the squares, which is still about 4 minutes for me.
I agree with Rex in not liking YEOW and ESSES, but I did not know ICEE either.

I think Mayday was based on the French M'aidez, or "you help me."

Sfingi said...

@Tinbeni - Yes, this time. The crossword was very easy. Remember "Don't say beer, say Fort Schuyler"? Utica was built on the sight of the actual Ft. Schuyler and it's name was drawn from a hat. This was the classic revival period and the original Utica was a Carthaginian port in the present Tunisia. It is now silted in, which reminds us that it used to be that for ever port lost to the sea, another was lost to the land.

The Barbary Wars were also known as Jefferson's War. The pirates wanted money for hostages, similar to Somalia. This pointed out that without Britain's support we needed to get us a navy.

My Yankees out-testosteroned the pirates.

@Rube - Article 11 is problematic in that it was written in Arabic.
Love your Abner avatar or Abnertar.

My captcha was RHOLE, Another taunt from the ether.

Tinbeni said...

Alas, it must be a regional brew.
Ft. Schuyler Beer is not available here.
We do have a "World of Beer" Store nearby.
They carry beers from all over, even have the Ožujsko & Karlovačko beers I feel in love with in Zagreb.
So I'll look for it.

But if you're keeping score:
Pinch and all other references to Scotch = 0


Well Patrick Merrill loves you.
Check this out...