MONDAY, June 14, 2010 — Bruce Venzke

Theme: Onward and Downward — Theme answers are familiar phrases that end with words related to going down.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Cold sufferer's decongestant (NOSE DROPS).
  • 28A: 18-Down washing places (KITCHEN SINKS).
  • 47A: Honeymoon mecca (NIAGARA FALLS).
  • 64A: Creamy bowlfuls for chips (PARTY DIPS).

Happy Monday, everybody. Hope you had a great weekend. Here at the PuzzleHouse there were soccer games and a birthday party (laser tag!) and a lot of lazing around. Which was awesome, except now I'm drowning in laundry and don't now when I'll ever get to it. It's all part of the trip, though, right?

Not terribly excited about this puzzle, and I'll tell you why. The theme is fine. I have a hard time believing it hasn't been done before, but it's a fine Monday theme. You know what's not fine on a Monday. AGENAS, that's what. Even though I've never heard of it, I wouldn't complain about seeing it in a Friday or Saturday puzzle. It's crossworthy, but it doesn't fit in a Monday puzzle. It just doesn't.

Okay, just looked up the theme and found that Lynn Lempel had the same idea, with different theme answers, on November 9, 2009, in the NYT. You know what Lynn Lempel didn't do with this theme? She didn't make plurals out of words that aren't typically referred to as plurals. She used KITCHEN SINK, singular. Throwing an S on the end of that entry is just lame. I don't even like to see it in the fill, but I definitely don't like to see it in the theme. NOSE DROPS and NIAGARA FALLS are fine, because that's how they're used. I don't recall anyone ever talking about one NOSE DROP. But KITCHEN SINKS and PARTY DIPS? Sorry. Not doing it for me.

One last gripe. With HARDIEST (5D: Most robust) already in the grid, there's no excuse for cluing -EST as a 55A: Superlative ending. Go with an abbreviation of ESTIMATE there to mix it up a little.

Those were the things that jumped out at me as remarkably bad (i.e., their badness is worth of remarking upon). The rest of the grid was pretty drab, with nothing great and nothing awful.

Crosswordese 101: ROK can stand for Republic of Korea or a soldier from the Republic of Korea. It's more likely to be clued as the soldier in crossword puzzles (e.g., today's 63D: Seoul soldier). In addition to seoul, clues are likely refer to Asia, Pusan, or the television show M*A*S*H.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 14A: Blond race in "The Time Machine" (ELOI).
  • 67A: New York canal (ERIE).
  • 2D: 1966 N.L. batting champ Matty (ALOU).
  • 22D: Cartoon Chihuahua (REN).
  • 27D: Old boom-creating speedster, briefly (SST).
  • 48D: __ Lingus (AER).
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Everything Else — 1A: Very attentive (RAPT); 5A: Kibbutz dance (HORA); 9A: Throat ailment (STREP); 14A: Blond race in "The Time Machine" (ELOI); 15A: Hatchets (AXES); 16A: Under-the-bridge folklore villain (TROLL); 19A: Reach a cost of (RUN TO); 20A: Prevail over, at an auction (OUTBID); 21A: Paddock pop (SIRE); 23A: Internet address punctuation (DOT); 24A: Gobi Desert locale (ASIA); 26A: Four __: luxury hotel (SEASONS); 32A: Breakfast area (NOOK); 33A: Canonized woman of Fr. (STE.); 34A: Early anesthetic (ETHER); 38A: FGs often end them (OTS); 39A: Stiffly formal (STILTED); 42A: __ League (IVY); 43A: Dressing table vessel, perhaps (BASIN); 45A: It's "the word" (MUM); 46A: Ballet bend (PLIE); 51A: Nightclub enforcer (BOUNCER); 54A: Be in on (KNOW); 56A: Fast food tycoon Ray (KROC); 58A: Gemini rockets (AGENAS); 62A: "You can't get __ from here" (THERE); 66A: Barbershop quartet voice (TENOR); 67A: New York canal (ERIE); 68A: Words after shake or break (A LEG); 69A: Bosox rivals (YANKS); 70A: Society newcomers (DEBS); 71A: Cell phone message (TEXT); 1D: Vegas alternative (RENO); 2D: 1966 N.L. batting champ Matty (ALOU); 3D: Newsgroup message (POST); 4D: Curtain restraint (TIE-BACK); 6D: Losing tic-tac-toe row (OXO); 7D: Weight room count (REPS); 8D: St. Francis of __ (ASSISI); 9D: Barely ran? (STREAKED); 10D: Show about Capote (TRU); 11D: Sonata finale, often (RONDO); 12D: Pop singer John (ELTON); 13D: Garden layouts (PLOTS); 18D: Spoon companion of rhyme (DISH); 22D: Cartoon Chihuahua (REN); 25D: Against (ANTI); 27D: Old boom-creating speedster, briefly (SST); 28D: Gearshift topper (KNOB); 29D: Greek "i" (IOTA); 30D: Mix, as a salad (TOSS); 31D: 1965 Freedom March city (SELMA); 35D: Country singer Faith (HILL); 36D: Pernicious (EVIL); 37D: Whiskey choices (RYES); 39D: Candy bar that makes you chuckle? (SNICKERS); 40D: Ankara native (TURK); 41D: Issues (from) (EMANATES); 44D: Country stopover (INN); 46D: Examined, cat-style (PAWED AT); 48D: __ Lingus (AER); 49D: Felt one's way (GROPED); 50D: Stodgy old-timer (FOGY); 51D: Wilma's pal on "The Flintstones" (BETTY); 52D: Milo of "The Verdict" (O'SHEA); 53D: Knoxville sch. (U. TENN.); 57D: Part of TLC (CARE); 59D: Christie's "Death on the __" (NILE); 60D: Nadir's opposite (APEX); 61D: High-ranking NCO (SSGT); 63D: Seoul soldier (ROK); 65D: Poke fun at (RIB).


Orange said...

Of course KITCHEN SINKS is a plural. You'll note that it's cross-referenced to the single DISH you wash in all your SINKS.

Van55 said...

Agreed in all respects, PG.

I'd add OXO and SSGT to the list of overused crosswordese in this puzzle.

Van55 said...

In response to Orange's comments, many kitchens are equipped with two sink basins. I know mine is. Do I have kitchen sinks or a kitchen sink?


And a Happy Monday to you too, Puzzlegirl!
And to all of 'ya.
I agree about the AGENAS thing... it just didn't seem Mondayish.
Otherwise, Bruce makes very entertaining puzzles and this one was just that.
How many of you did what I did for 50D? I quickly wrote in FART for FOGY (Stodgy old-timer). I guess maybe cuz I are one.
Thought the clue for STREAKED (Barely ran) was hilarious.
I have a statue of Saint Francis of ASSISI taking CARE of my little garden critters. I also have a little TROLL in my garden, to scare away those lovable critters. Go figure! Speaking of garden, if it weren't so darn gloomy today, I'd be THERE.
About the only over-worked crosswordese I could see was ELOI and ALOU.
When I saw PLIE, I immediately thought of ELTON John's award-winning musical "Billy Elliot". An interesting play that has come to Chicago recently and has gotten rave revues. Although it didn't exactly "float my boat", it's great to see that musicals are coming back.


Tim McGraw & Faith HILL
What a great musical team!!!!

Tinbeni said...

You hit all my major points, especially that EST thing.

Pretty bland even for Monday.
Barely got to sip my Cup of Java.

Since @Van55 didn't mention it, I will.
What about the SST. Way over worked crosswordese

Barely ran, STREAKED was clever and got a grin.
Reminded me of my College days.

Jeff Chen said...

Totally agree, PG, and thanks for the excellent critical commentary. I thought it was still an entertaining five minutes, but I really appreciate consistency in a theme as well as fill that's not, well, AGENAS.

I did like PAWED AT though!


Sfingi said...

Did not know AGENAS

What is FG? Should I assume OT is overtime, thus a sports clue?

Every Monday I gird my loins for the dreaded SSN or SST. The only thing that slowed me down was tring to make a legible Xerox of the puzzle.

OXO. Don't forget the other possibilities of dead Tic-Tac-Toe lines: XOX XXO OOX. Or are they hugs and kisses?

Here's a possibility for CW words - ETSY. For those who do no know (mostly guys, or the cute-averse), these are handmade cuddly toys and some clothing accessories. Googling them is addictive.

Of course I thought of The Learning Channel before Tender Loving Care.

Some kitchens have double basins - mine also - and those that are truly Kosher have double kitchens. But you wouldn't wash a particular (meat or milk) dish in both sinks.
So, one dish, one sink.

Help this old fogy - Every time I come here, now, I have to sign in. Does it have anything to do with my having two laptops now?

Tuttle said...

I wouldn't be happy with AGENAS as clued even on a Friday. It's a real stretch. Gemini capsules were launched into orbit on Titan IIs and only used AGENAS to practice docking on and to boost orbits.

But more egregious to me is UTENN. I went to the University of Tennessee, I grew up in Knoxville, I bleed orange and I have never, ever heard the school referred to as UTENN.

Gary Garnier said...

Having worked at the company that built the Agena, I'm quite sure that it was involved in the Gemini flights in only a minor way, almost a stunt. Once put in orbit (by another launch system altogether) the Gemini capsule linked to an Agena vehicle (used mostly as an orbital platform for cameras, etc.). The Gemini pilots then started the rocket motor of the Agena. This maneuver was likened to riding a V8 powered tricycle - backwards.

I believe this was done on only one flight.

mac said...

Good puzzle, but I also agree that Agena had no business in it.

There is sort of a nasty "tenor" to this puzzle, like an old crime movie or one of Rex's graphic novels: evil, bouncer, plots, run to, toss, ether, pawed at, yanks and groped.

hazel said...

@Mac - that is so funny I was thinking the exact same thing! TROLLS, keeping MUM (or else!) kind of fits in there too. and Christie's Death on the NILE.

Glad to see all that gloom and doom isn't keeping Matty ALOU from hanging out with his crossword buddies the ELOI in the NW.

When I first started doing Xwords a few years ago, I thought the ELOI was some kind of balloon - I thought the race was a competition, not a species.

lit.doc said...

I started off in an uncharacteristically charitable mood (soccor, Guinness, sleep deprivation, whatever), thinking "A year and a half ago, this is just the sort of puzzle that I'd learn from and would keep me coming back for more".

That's what I look for in early-week LAT puzzles. That's why I expect and am ok with the several tired groaners others have noted.

But then I hit AGENAS. No more Mr. Nice Guy. @#$%?&*!.

CrazyCat said...

Finally got around to today's puzzle (in ink) and agree with all the above comments. I was particularly irked by the HARDIEST/EST answers. Got AGENAS through crosses and had no idea what it meant. I do have two KITCHEN SINKS. One is the regular type and one is for prep. Don't wash dishes in the second one though. Does anyone still have a BASIN on their dressing table? Did like the clue for STREAKED though.
@Mac and @Ethel. I also noticed the EVIL sub-theme.
@Sfingi I have been having a heck of a time signing in lately.
@JNH liked your alternative for FOGY : -)

CrazyCat said...

Good streaking story: In Spring 1973 before Bruce Springsteen made it big, he performed an outdoor afternoon concert in the amphitheater at Swarthmore College. There were probably 250-300 people there at most. Midway through the show a guy STREAKED across the stage wearing only tennis shoes and a Nixon mask.

Tinbeni said...

In ink?
Welcome to the "dark side!"

A NIXON mask?
Now that is scary ...

KJGooster said...

I know Lane Kim (played by Keiko Agena), but fortunately never even saw AGENAS while solving.

CrazyCat said...

@Tinbeni yep I did it ink with only one mess up. I had PLATS instead of PLOTS. I get brave on Mondays.

Burner10 said...

Ho hum for me. Hand up for fart. And, strange, today I said to myself, self why don't you start doing mondays in ink! Did and done.

NJ Irish said...

Liked the clue for 9D: Streaked. Reminded me of a boss I had back in the seventies flying from LA to EWR and two female passengers disrobed and streaked the entire aircraft. The pictures made it all the way to People Magazine with my boss' face, drink in hand, smack dab in the middle of the picture.

I like when I get an answer with crosses that I learned from doing this CW. No idea who 2D: batting champ Matty is but learned about the Eloi race here.

@PG great write up, guess the downward theme can have a evil sub-theme

Am I missing something? I post at the bottom of this blog where it says "leave your comment", type in the "word verificaton" and have to sign in several times before it appears on the blog. I ususally get the "sorry" message several times first. (this is my third try)

lit.doc said...

@NJ IRish, welcome again. The captcha [google for the acronym] has a timer running which nearly always runs out before you can key in your post.

Save time. Copy your comments into the paste buffer (ctrl-c) in case they get tossed into the bit bucket (which happens from time to time), then just key in your email address (unless you're already signed in) so when it comes back you only have to key the captcha and your pw.

NJ Irish said...

@lit.doc, thank you for the help. I have learned to copy what I type before clicking on Publish after so many times of seeing the "sorry" message. Is there a way to sign in before entering a comment? Just wondering. And how do some bloggers put links and pics into there posts? Thanks again! (second try)

lit.doc said...

@NJ Irish, you're quite welcome. As to the links and pics, join my learning curve. Look at my responses to retired_chemist on Rex's NYT blog, and you'll see me in the process of learning html conventions. Haven't gotten as far as links and pics, but they're next on the agenda.