MONDAY, May 24, 2010 — John Lampkin

THEME: M AND MS (45D: Mars mouthful; also, a hint to this puzzle's theme)
— title + name, where both start with "M"

This theme is pretty weak, and pretty SPARSE to boot (49D: Thinly populated). Only three short theme answers, and then the awkward-looking M-(non-ampersand) AND-MS over in the SW corner. Issues: there are lots of other possibilities, so these examples feel completely arbitrary; MISTER is spelled out, making it unparallel to MRS.; and the "MR." in "MR. MAGOO" is abbreviated, not spelled out (see also the lack of ampersand in MANDMS). The whole thing feels like a decent germ of an idea that wasn't given the time, care, and attention it needed to become a good puzzle. Slapdash. I mean, the MAYOR in the NE (16A: City chief) is making think of MAYOR MCCHEESE — now that's an M&M theme answer!

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Etiquette authority (MISS MANNERS) — see also MARPLE, MOLLY, and MUFFET, etc.
  • 38A: Cantankerous toon (MISTER MAGOO) — see also MIYAGI, MICROPHONE, MOM, MOTO, etc.
  • 57A: Sheridan's misuser of words (MRS. MALAPROP) — see also MINIVER (fewer viable options here)

I disliked AT DUSK, and then redisliked it when it ended up crossing RANT AT. Crossing "AT" phrases = boo. Suggests you have an "AT" TIC (36A: Upper-story storage) (which, fittingly, runs right through this mess). CHERIE in a puzzle that already has OTERI in it (19A: Cheri who impersonated Judge Judy on "Saturday Night Live")? Can't tell whether that's cute or dreadful. To be fair, the fill in this puzzle is mostly pretty good. I mean, throw out the (always horrible) Random Roman Numeral Longer Than Three Characters, and the two "A" partials (A MOST, A HORSE), and things actually look pretty solid. Down in the NW, all the way into the center of the puzzle (i.e. GAS MASK to STOKER), are especially nice.

Crosswordese 101: ORE (25A: Forty-niner's find) — perhaps because it's a reasonably common, widely known word, we have not yet covered ORE. This despite its being one of the most common three-letter words in all of puzzledom. When constructors want to hide it a little, they use plays on words like "vein" or "seam" or "bank deposit" or the like. When they want to hide it a lot, they clue it as [1/100th of a krone].

See you Friday for my penultimate LAT write-up,


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Everything Else — 1A: Criminal group (GANG); 5A: What a judge sets (BAIL); 9A: Modify, as a motion (AMEND); 14A: Suit to __ (A TEE); 15A: Gillette's __ Plus razor (ATRA); 16A: City chief (MAYOR); 17A: Basted, but not with butter (SEWN); 18A: Charge with a crime (BOOK); 19A: Cheri who impersonated Judge Judy on "Saturday Night Live" (OTERI); 20A: Etiquette authority (MISS MANNERS); 23A: Fiver (FIN); 24A: Critter that can carry many times its own weight (ANT); 25A: Forty-niner's find (ORE); 26A: Just after sunset (AT DUSK); 28A: Take the wheel (STEER); 30A: Bridge distance (SPAN); 33A: Antlered grazers (ELKS); 34A: Arboreal Australian critters (KOALAS); 36A: Upper-story storage (ATTIC); 38A: Cantankerous toon (MISTER MAGOO); 41A: Strikes through, as text (X'S OUT); 42A: Seek aid from (TURN TO); 45A: Early 15th-century year (MCDI); 48A: Actor Kristofferson (KRIS); 50A: '90s Defense secretary Les (ASPIN); 51A: "... my kingdom for __!" (A HORSE); 53A: Bad review (PAN); 55A: Jungle swinger (APE); 56A: Prefix with conservative (NEO); 57A: Sheridan's misuser of words (MRS. MALAPROP); 61A: Friend of Eminem (DR. DRE); 63A: Injured (HURT); 64A: Sitar master Shankar (RAVI); 65A: Mazda roadster (MIATA); 66A: Last word in a threat (ELSE); 67A: Serpent's home in Genesis (EDEN); 68A: Jewish feast (SEDER); 69A: Bambi, for one (DEER); 70A: Flippant (PERT); 1D: Riot squad gear (GAS MASK); 2D: Corroded (ATE INTO); 3D: Group that breaks breaking stories (NEWS TEAM); 4D: Mil. leaders (GENS); 5D: Picture book elephant (BABAR); 6D: Does penance (for) (ATONES); 7D: Gadget that gets out the creases (IRON); 8D: Boating spot (LAKE); 9D: "It's __ Unusual Day": 1948 song (A MOST); 10D: Doorway welcomer (MAT); 11D: Good-looker (EYEFUL); 12D: Perfectly safe, as an investment (NO-RISK); 13D: Bar buys (DRINKS); 21D: Marshy tract (MORASS); 22D: Beat up on verbally (RANT AT); 27D: Room treatments (DECORS); 29D: Cure-all potion (ELIXIR); 31D: Miniseries' first section (PART I); 32D: Deposit or withdrawal gizmo, briefly (ATM); 35D: "Dracula" author Bram (STOKER); 37D: Big lizard (IGUANA); 39D: The Continent: Abbr. (EUR.); 40D: Displayed in a public procession (ON PARADE); 43D: Cause to topple (TIP OVER); 44D: Eighth of a gallon (ONE PINT); 45D: Mars mouthful; also, a hint to this puzzle's theme (M AND MS); 46D: Paris sweetie (CHERIE); 47D: Thingy (DOO-DAD); 49D: Thinly populated (SPARSE); 52D: Blur, as wet ink (SMEAR); 54D: Change (ALTER); 58D: Backyard storage (SHED); 59D: Stubborn beast (MULE); 60D: Get ready, for short (PREP); 62D: Hwy. (RTE.).


Tinbeni said...

Easy Monday, nothing new.

I liked the stack of DRINKS over ONE PINT, which was next to TIP OVER. Since that is what I would do if I had that much on my daily toast AT DUSK.

The Roman Numeral didn't bother me because when they are in a puzzle there is only ONE.
Popped in the MCD_ and waited for the I to appear.
(only other choices were V & X).

ANT clued as a "Critter" brought a grin.

Nothing more to RANT AT.

Burner10 said...

Will miss you here, thanks again for puzzling with the LAT.

Zoologist said...

An ANT is a critter, a KOALA is a critter, an ELK is a grazer, an APE is a swinger, and a MULE is a beast, got it.

mac said...

Yes, there is a lot of fauna in this puzzle. There are also iguana, steer, Babar the elephant, a horse and deer in the parade through Eden!

CrazyCat said...

There sure is a whole GANG of critters and beasts in this puzzle. Even the Pet Shop Boys show up in the write up. Liked seeing MANDMS (non ampersand) crossing friend of Eminem DR DRE. KRIS Kristofferson has always been an EYEFUL. He's also an alum of Pomona College here in my little town. Also the alma mater of one of our esteemed blog hosts. I liked the SE section with ON PARADE, TIP OVER and ONE PINT. I don't know why, but I did.
@Rex thanks for your Monday and Friday participation at LACC. Your write ups have always been informative and entertaining. Hope you will come back to visit occasionally.

a solver (not the constructor) said...

@Rex, I don't understand your concern about the ampersand. Can't put that in a non-rebus puzzle anyway. Also, as far as MRS. being an abbreviation and MISS and MISTER not, would you rather have MISSUS? All three of the titles are in the form they are used in their sources. (Mister:Mr. Magoo is about 50:50 on my cursory google search.)

If anything, I would fault the inclusion of DR. DRE as an answer containing a title that doesn't belong. Would have tried to come up with something else.

Orange said...

I was even more critical of the theme at Diary of a Crossword Fiend. Yes, it should be MR. MAGOO, not MISTER. Yes, the AND in M&M's is jarring. And including people (or, as Rex suggests, anthropomorphic cheeseburger beings) with M.M. initials would make more sense than three title+name entries.

JIMMIE said...


What is a rebus puzzle?

Jeff Chen said...

Any way we can convince you to continue with this blog, Rex? It's such a nice treat to start Monday morning with an honest, no-holds-barred assessment of the good, bad and the ugly. I'd agree, a bit of each today.


Gunghy said...

Jimmie - in a rebus, symbols replace words. Example: instead of writing "I would" you would draw an eye and a stack of lumber.

JIMMIE said...

@Gunghy. Thanks for the info. I guess I have seen those kind.

Randy said...

At this moment, the blog says there are 11 comments, but there are only 7 that I can see. Where are the other four?

gespenst said...

I knew as I filled in the last theme answer that there would be an issue w/ the Miss/Mister/Mrs.
@asolver - yes, I would have preferred to see Missus, or better, Mr.Magoo.

I do expect a little more pizzazz from the theme even on a monday :)

Overall I liked the fill, though. ATE INTO for corroded was my favorite I think.

I don't think both ANT and KOALA should be clued as critters, though. I guess they ran out of animal words ;)

chefbea said...

When I first saw etiquette authority I assumed it would be Emily Post!!! Guess she was the first.
Not a bad puzzle for a monday. Love M&M's

Sfingi said...

It was rather a bore. I had hoped, after MRSMALAPROP that we might get a few (MALAPROPs). Or a clue for Mr. Spooner, Lady Mondegreen, or even Tom Swift.

The animal list was a happy thought. I might say it gave it some meat, she said gravily. I'll pass, on the chocolate ants. They always ruin the picnic.