M O N D A Y   AUGUST 9, 2010
Jeff Chen

Theme: Fabulus! — Theme answers are multi-word phrases where the first word ends with the letters ULUS.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Economy-boosting government program (STIMULUS PACKAGE).
  • 28A: Exam with derivatives and integrals (CALCULUS TEST).
  • 49A: Puffy sky feature (CUMULUS CLOUD).
  • 64A: Rome's twin founders, traditionally (ROMULUS AND REMUS).
This is a really interesting puzzle to me. The theme is definitely "meh" but the fill is super smooth and it even includes a few real sparklers and some scrabbliness. Sparklers? What sparklers? Well, how about SOURPUSS (6D: One with a grumpy scowl)? Sure it's kinda old-timey, but come on. SOURPUSS? That's gold. And what about FJORD (9A: Scandinavian inlet)? FJORD offers that strange consonant collision right up front that's not just strange and consonant-heavy but Scrabbly to boot. That's 12 points right there in the first two letters if you don't play it on a multiplier square (which, of course, you do because you know better than to waste all that fire power on a measly old 1x space). And oh my gosh the Ks! So many Ks to love in this grid: KOFI, K.C. JONES, JOKESTER, RISK — I'm practically OD'ing on the wonderfulness that is the letter K.

And that's not all. I'm sure you also noticed the clever cluing bleed-over thing (which I think of as a Bob Klahn specialty):
  • 4D: Cross shape (TAU).
  • 5D: Bent pipe shape (ELL).

  • 28D: __ of arms (COAT).
  • 29D: Comrade in arms (ALLY).

  • 45D: Sister (NUN).
  • 47D: "Sister __": Whoopi Goldberg film (ACT).

  • 66D: Dr. of rap (DRE).
  • 67D: Dr.'s co-workers (RN'S).
I think there are a couple more too, though they're not as blatant.

What else should we talk about?
  • 4A: Electrical pioneer Nikola (TESLA). Him again.
  • 33A: Game originally named "The Conquest of the World" (RISK). I'm sure I haven't played this game in 30 years. I remember I loved it though.
  • 34A: Gold or silver, e.g. (MEDAL). Well lookie here — a coupla Olympic gold medalists!
  • 46A: She gets what she wants (LOLA). HAha! I got this through crosses and thought it must be a lyric from the Kinks song, but it's actually a song from the musical Damn Yankees that I've never heard before.
  • 53A: Hall of Fame Celtic whose initials are his given name (K.C. JONES). I love it when sports clues are gimmes for me. It makes me feel so smart.
  • 60A: Strong-jawed device (VISE). Let's see if I can spell it right today ….
  • 70A: Dot on a die (PIP).

  • [I hear Gladys Knight is down to one pip these days. That's sad.]

  • 3D: Homeless child (WAIF). This is an awesome word.
  • 41D: Dunked morning snack (DOUGHNUT). It's a good thing clues don't have to be exclusive definitions. I mean, it would be a shame if you could only snack on doughnuts in the morning.
  • 52D: Score before 15, in tennis (LOVE). As soon as I filled this answer in, my heart sank. I really feel like I let you down. I covered AD IN in a CW101 lesson just last week and explained the scoring convention used in tennis. But I completely forgot about LOVE! Ya know how I was feeling so smart back at 53A? Now I don't feel so smart any more. Sorry!
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 4D: Cross shape (TAU).
  • 19D: Tennis legend Arthur (ASHE).
  • 25D: "East of Eden" director Kazan (ELIA).
  • 36D: Baseball's Felipe or Moises (ALOU).
  • 65D: WWII transport (LST).
  • 66D: Dr. of rap (DRE).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Sound near an ineffective scarecrow (CAW); 14A: Chef's phrase (ALA); 15A: Healing plants (ALOES); 16A: Apple pie maker's device (CORER); 20A: Ex-UN chief Annan (KOFI); 21A: GPS suggestions (.); 22A: Greek vowels (ETAS); 23A: Apt name for a herding dog (SHEP); 26A: Wedgelike tools (CHISELS); 32A: __ Miss (OLE); 38A: Baldwin of "30 Rock" (ALEC); 40A: Line spoken to the audience (ASIDE); 43A: Actor's assignment (ROLE); 44A: Big name in chicken (TYSON); 48A: Wall Street index, with "the" (DOW); 56A: Spanish cat (GATO); 57A: Pakistan neighbor (IRAN); 58A: Benelux country: Abbr. (NETH.); 68A: Makes a scarf, say (KNITS); 69A: One-eighty (U-TURN); 71A: Dost lay one's eyes on (SEEST); 72A: "For __ sake!" (PETE'S); 73A: Messy place (STY); 1D: Sherry container (CASK); 2D: Choir part (ALTO); 7D: "__ we forget" (LEST); 8D: Appearance (ASPECT); 9D: TV monitoring gp. (FCC); 10D: Wisecrack maker (JOKESTER); 11D: Give a speech (ORATE); 12D: Fit for a king (REGAL); 13D: Word with sun or evening (DRESS); 18D: Catchall abbr. (MISC.); 24D: "Ben-__" (HUR); 27D: Belief: Suff. (-ISM); 30D: Wranglers alternative (LEES); 31D: Proficiency (SKILL); 35D: Knucklehead (DODO); 37D: Ribald (LEWD); 39D: Hard-shelled palm fruits (COCONUTS); 50D: List of choices (MENU); 51D: Runs out of (USES UP); 53D: Actor Douglas and baseballer Gibson (KIRKS); 54D: Witch (CRONE); 55D: Farr or Foxx (JAMIE); 59D: London's __ Britain art gallery (TATE); 61D: Rascals (IMPS); 62D: Three-piece attire, maybe (SUIT); 63D: Glimpse (ESPY).


imsdave said...

Couldn't agree more about the fill - really fine stuff. Talk about overthinking a puzzle though - I kept looking for a reveal answer clued as 'Eskimo knives'.

Sfingi said...

Very cute and easy - or so I thought. When I came here I realized I wrote MEtAL instead of MEDAL, which was fine; but I never looked at the meaning of tODO. It should have said Spanish for tutto, but that would make it a Friday clue.

I also had Tee before TAU, which mean the same; ElA before ETA; and LEvi before LEES, all corrected.

Extremely nice Monday puzzzle.

Tinbeni said...

Personally I thought Jeff gave a subtle theme reveal with 69A yielding the "U-TURN."
Yup, it's 'U's' turn!
There are 13 of them.
Is that a LAT record?

Easy Monday but, as you said in the write-up, what's not to LOVE.

SOURPUSS, JOKESTER, WAIF, FJORD, our new best buddy TESLA who brought along KOFI.

I SEEST a LOLA tribute stack, DRESS LEWD.

For PETE'S sake! This was FUN and fresh stuff.

Time for that DOUGHNUT and Java.

Van55 said...

Really, really good Monday puzzle. Way fresher than today's NYT entry. Bravo!

CrazyCat said...

A perfect Monday puzzle. I liked seeing SOURPUSS and GATO. Our friend TESLA seems like an everyday occurrence lately. @Tinbeni good point about U-TURN.

Tinbeni said...

Knew you would LOVE the double shout-outs to you. SOURPUSS (which you're not) and GATO.

Agree, this was better than the NYT.
You even let the ALOU brothers slide by ...

Eric said...

This one flowed like maple syrup -- just slow enough to be sweet.

Theme answers were clued so well that I got all but the first without crosses, and without bothering to figure out the theme itself. The only reason for that exception is that I hadn't yet realized there wasn't a catch.

The only clue bleedover I noticed was the one that wasn't there: In a puzzle with "Scandinavian inlet" -> FJORD, "Chef's phrase" really should have been BORK BORK BORK :-)

I really wanted 21A: "GPS suggestions" to be GEOCACHES, but it's just a couple of letters too long :-)

@PG: Well, the Kinks' Lola gets what she wants, too, doesn't she?

Other fun clues: 1A: "Sound near an ineffective scarecrow" -> CAW.
23A: "Apt name for a herding dog" -> SHEP.

Speaking of ELSA, here's a full-length documentary on Christian the YouTube sensation, George Adamson's other big success. (The link is to part 1 of 5; the others are there too.)

C said...

Good start to the puzzle week. Very enjoyable Monday puzzle. The answers were fresh and fun.

@imsdave, heh, good call out on the eskimo knives clue as a reveal, not very Monday like but very apt for the puzzle theme.

Jeff Chen said...

Thanks for all the great commentary! I'm glad the puzzle was entertaining. In my first submission, I made too many compromises to get JOKESTER, KCJONES, COCONUTS and DOUGHNUTS in, but with Rich's help, I rejiggered so it could work for a Monday puzzle. One example: I originally had UNRUH (Jesse Unruh!) in the northwest corner, and Rich very politely pointed out that I was off my rocker.

@imsdave: I origianlly thought of this as a ULUS theme! But Rich needs smooth Mondays much more than late-week puzzles (which can have some hard entries), so he accepted it without the theme reveal.

@Eric: BORK BORK BORK! Seems like there should be a crossword theme in there somewhere. If only so PG can embed a Swedish Chef clip.


Ratty said...

Filled in VICE instead of VISE then after I finished the puzzle I kept trying to figure out what kind of outfit a CUIT could be. I'm embarrassed how long it took me to finally figure out what was wrong.

carol s said...

this puzzle was easy the onl clue i didnot know was kc jones but i do not like or watch basketball so after getting the downs in that corner there he was

Tuttle said...


SHEP was the name of the dog in The Painted Hills, the final MGM "Lassie" film starring Pal, the dog who originated the role.

And huge kudos for cluing ROMULUS AND REMUS as "traditional" rather than the usual implied historicity of the legend.

I think I'll watch that Lassie movie tonight. The Mystery Science Theatre version that is.

mac said...

What an excellent Monday puzzle! Good start to this LA week.

Anonymous said...

Ah, SHEP, a recurring fantasy of mine. I once had a client who understood how big business worked, and made a point of paying me in advance for my contracts on any given year. In January, I would get a check for the (way) upper six figures for the work my company was to perform in the coming year. The fantasy?
1) Get a dog from the pound.
2) Name the dog Shep.
3) Get Shep a bandana.
4) Buy $800K of American Express Travelers Checks.
5) Buy a Jeep Wrangler.
6) Put Shep in the back, ask Shep which way to go.
7) Drive until you hit water.
8) Stay there until bored.
9) Repeat steps 6-9 until money runs out.
10) Who cares what step 10 is?

Sfingi said...

TESLA is about to break out! His theories will be proven to be the source of endless free energy, all around us! The greatest STIMULUS PACKAGE of all!

@Tuttle - Are there people who believe the ROMULUS AND REMUS story is actually true? Weird.

Van55 said...

@Tinbeni. I hate to be seen as a one trick pony. Crosswords' favorite baseball family can be ignored when the rest of the puzzle is so good -- as can many oft resorted to answers.

Tinbeni said...

I could not agree with you more.

Actually, ALOU had a fresh clue.
I believe I made an error earlier, Felipe and Moises aren't brothers, they are father and son.
OLE Miss, was not the tired bullfight cheer but the University.
NUN and ACT, next to each other was a nice echo.

All-in-all, I hope a whole bunch of "first-timers" did this Monday gem.

ddbmc said...

Fun, Fun, Fun and my daddy didn't take my TESLA away!
Waaay late solve, but enjoyed the ULUS and the clue-bleeds. Thanks, Jeff and @PG!

Masked and Anonymous said...

Wow. 13 U's! My favorite pUz letter in Ultra-rare abUndance. KUdos to Jeff Chen. FUn solve, BTW. ThUmbs Up!