05.23 Mon

May 23, 2011
Victor Barocas

Theme: Colorful Crime Scene - Colored phrases have been smushed with evidence that might point to a murderer.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Evidence against an aristocrat? (BLUE BLOOD STAIN).
  • 40A: Evidence against a gardener? (GREEN THUMB PRINT).
  • 56A: Evidence against an Oscar attendee? (RED CARPET FIBER).
PuzzleGirl's not feeling well today, so you're dealing with Neville this morning. I find it crazy that this puzzle ran just two days after the DVD of Clue, one of my favorite films, I ordered arrived in mail - many more colors and crime scenes! The best moment of that film, courtesy of Madeline Kahn - spoiler alert!

And I love this puzzle as much as this movie. This is a great Monday puzzle! The theme is clever, yet easily accessible. It's got great fill (one exception - we'll hit that later) and it continues the grand tradition of early week puzzles with only three theme entries. I don't mean that sarcastically - I think there's a lot to be said for a well executed idea with just three entries. Can we please keep this up?

  • 14A. Type of seedless orange (NAVEL). Number of times my name has been misspelled this way in the past month: Two. Once on a note to me at work and once yesterday at Starbucks. You know how they ask you your name to put on your drink? I spell my name afterwards so that they can put it on right. I started spelling, but the girl had already written NAVEL and started laughing and showed me. I also didn't get the whipped cream I wanted. Starbucks is always full of disappointments for me.
  • 16A. Password enterer (USER).
  • 25A. "Private Practice" network (ABC). With the cancellation of "No Ordinary Family," the number of primetime shows I watch on ABC is now reduced to one - and I usually catch "Shark Tank" on Hulu anyway.
  • 44A. Singer Diamond (NEIL). There are two kinds of people in this world: Those that shout "So good! So good! So good!" when "Sweet Caroline" is played at a sporting event, and those who don't. Which category do you fall in?
  • 64A. Seuss environmentalist (LORAX). The LORAX speaks for the trees, but have you heard what George Takei's been up to? Whether you agree with the politics behind this or not, I think you'll find the idea behind this pretty cute:

  • 41D. Where Hercules slew a lion (NEMEA). The Nemean lion was the (nsfw) honey badger of Roman mythology.
  • 47D. Q-Tip target (EARWAX). Ewwww! Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, anyone? No?
    Crosswordese 101 Not a Real Word Round-up:
    • 45A. Pout (MOUE). This isn't a word - Google agrees! This is the sole severe detractor from this puzzle for me. Sure, there are some other entries I don't like on a Monday, but this is utter nonsense. But what really gets me is when I, as an amateur constructor, can easily fix it: VENUS > VENTI (again with the Starbucks?) give us MOTE and MIS, which I find much preferable to MSS (ManuScriptS).
    • 25D. Sponsorship (AEGIS). I don't mind this, but new solvers might not be familiar with it. An AEGIS "is a large collar or cape worn in ancient times to display the protection provided by a high religious authority or the holder of a protective shield signifying the same, such as a bag-like garment that contained a shield. Sometimes the garment and the shield are merged, with a small version of the shield appearing on the garment. It originally was derived from the protective shield associated with a religious figure when related in myths and images. The wearing of the aegis and its contents show sponsorship, protection, or authority derived from yet a higher source or deity. The name has been extended to many other entities, and the concept of a protective shield is found in other mythologies, while its form varies across sources." And if you think that I didn't just copy and paste that from Wikipedia, then...

    [Why are you still here? Go follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter - then come back and leave a comment!]

    Everything Else 1A: In the heavens (ABOVE); 6A: McCartney's instrument (BASS); 10A: Predecessor of surrealism (DADA); 15A: "There oughta be ___!" (A LAW); 17A: Like the more serious larceny (GRAND); 18A: "All you need," in a Beatles song (LOVE); 19A: Farm structure (SILO); 23A: Immigrant's subj. (ESL); 24A: Guitar neck features (FRETS); 28A: Bluesman Mahal (TAJ); 30A: Resident since birth (NATIVE); 34A: Tombstone lawman (EARP); 36A: Common mixer (SODA); 39A: Styles (MODES); 43A: To whom "I'll see you in my dreams" is sung (IRENE); 45A: Pout (MOUE); 46A: Opening word for Ali Baba (SESAME); 48A: Long sandwich (SUB); 50A: Ed.'s workload items (MS'S); 51A: Smallest (LEAST); 54A: Enemy (FOE); 62A: Black-and-white treat (OREO); 63A: Suffix with soft or flat (-WARE); 66A: Matter topper? (MIND); 67A: Part of NRA: Abbr. (ASSN.); 68A: Hardly hoi polloi (ELITE); 69A: Seeger of the Weavers (PETE); 70A: Marvel Comics heroes (X-MEN); 71A: Hamlet's countrymen (DANES); 1D: Director Lee (ANG); 2D: Harpoon point (BARB); 3D: Racetrack shape (OVAL); 4D: Legal site (VENUE); 5D: Firstborn sibling (ELDEST); 6D: Fun time (BALL); 7D: Distant (ALOOF); 8D: Relish (SAVOR); 9D: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" setting (SWEDEN); 10D: Wind-related desert event (DUST STORM); 11D: Where Siberia is (ASIA); 12D: Corned beef seller (DELI); 13D: Elvis's middle name (ARON); 21D: Fun time (BLAST); 22D: "Forever" post office product (STAMP); 26D: Ballet rail (BARRE); 27D: Some Saskatchewanians (CREES); 29D: Elton of England (JOHN); 31D: "Eat crow," e.g. (IDIOM); 32D: Evening star (VENUS); 33D: Politician Kefauver (ESTES); 35D: Crime laws, as a unit (PENAL CODE); 37D: Scheduled to arrive (DUE); 38D: French friends (AMIS); 42D: Poker ploy (BLUFF); 49D: Didn't just simmer (BOILED); 52D: Cramp or twitch (SPASM); 53D: Of few words (TERSE); 55D: Deadly virus (EBOLA); 56D: Play boisterously (ROMP); 57D: Toledo's lake (ERIE); 58D: Minor collision damage (DENT); 59D: Nashville's st. (TENN.); 60D: The Auld Sod (ERIN); 61D: Do a film critic's job (RATE); 65D: Crosses (out) (X'ES).


    Steve said...

    Wow - MOUE vent (or venti, in Starbucks-speak).

    I didn't have the slightest problem with this - I saw the clue, had the M, MOUE went straight in there.

    I don't know where I know this word from, but it's not crosswords, I've known this for a number of years prior to my doing puzzles.

    So no problem with this. Nice theme, great fill.

    VirginiaC said...

    Ye, nice theme, fun fill! Great video clips too.Looks like I have to see CLUE, just love all those folks.

    Anonymous said...

    Nice writeup. A long time ago I started reading the novels of Thomas Berger (something I highly recommend) and in every one of his books, at some point a character moues. I remember looking it up the first time I encountered it. Outside of his books and crossword puzzles, I agree you almost never see the word.

    hazel said...

    Great write-up, @Neville. What's with the moue craziness, though?

    Nice Monday puzzle - coloring outside the lines a bit, almost a Tuesday.

    Bill said...

    Try Googling "Define:moue"

    Not sure if the cluing is exactly proper, but apparently it is a legitimate word.

    Neville said...

    Most of my MOUE craziness is from the fact that this is Monday. I think I'd be more open to it on a Thursday.

    @Bill I just liked that this way it suggested 'mouse' - for those still wondering, yes, Google knows that it is for real.

    I just had to find something not to like about this puzzle ;)

    Anonymous said...

    "Moue" is the French word for "pout"

    hazel said...

    @Neville - I see your point, but I think its the words like MOUE, LORAX, and AEGIS that give this Monday puzzle its chops. Now ESTES Kefauver was just a flat out huh, truly a crosses word.

    mac said...

    Nice puzzle, nice write-up! Husband is just working on some things for the Aegis, a big Media company. Thanks for the info, though.

    Feel better soon, Angela!

    JaxInL.A. said...

    I liked this puzzle SOoo much better than today's NYT puzz. Sparkly fill, and a delightful theme. I agree with Neville's comment about the superiority of three high-quality theme entries over more density without that same quality.

    I don't think that I agree about MOUE not belonging in a Monday grid, though. Even newbies enjoy an occasional challenging word, and this one has such a great meaning: that (quintessentially French?) double-lip pooch that I associate with Brigitte Bardot. "Pout" doesn't quite capture it.

    On the other hand, the surrounding words gain MUCH by Neville's suggested change. So losing the delight of MOUE would mean ditching the only really ugly fill in the puzzle. I could go either way...

    Thanks, Mr. Barocas (and Rich Norris), for a fun Monday.

    C said...

    I endorse this puzzle. It is a bit thorny for a Monday puzzle, MOUE and ESTES are answers you expect in later in the week puzzles.

    Excellent writeup as well, I hope @PG is back in the saddle tomorrow but it's good to know she has fantastic bench strength.

    Anonymous said...

    I love Clue, and that is totally my favorite clip from the movie. Thanks for posting!

    Alexscott said...

    I think even a Monday puzzle benefits from having a word or two I don't know. What I'm saying is don't get all MOUE-y just because you don't know one word. Also, as an editor, I approve of MSS, as it makes me feel just a little bit smarter. And, for some reason, ESTES Kefauver is a name I've remembered since high school. (He was Adlai Stevenson's running mate in '56, though he was almost beaten out by JFK. Some people think that not going down with Adlai in '56 saved JFK's political future.) He crops up in CWPs occasionally, which is the only thing justifying keeping that bit of trivia in my head.

    Rube said...

    Personally, I put, (the French), MOUE in standard crosswordese. @Hazel, I thought you had enough,(ahem), experience, to remember ESTES Kefauver.

    New to me was some guy named TAJ Mahal... I thought at first of Ahmad Jamal. Also, I think the LORAX was after the era I read Dr. Seuss to my kids. Guess I'll have to wait for Grandkids. He/it is my WOTD.

    hazel said...

    @rube - i beg your pardon, sir, but i wasn't even born when estes was apparently in his heyday!! On the other hand, I have seen Taj Mahal at least 3 times and he can bring it. What a musician - and voice. Now HE definitely has the "experience"to have heard of Estes.

    CoffeeLvr said...

    I loved, loved this puzzle. Big fan of police procedurals, crosswords, it's all good.

    Rube said...

    @Hazel, my most humble apologies. It must be my associating you, a geologist, with me, a geophysicist, as having much in common.

    Furthermore, I just Googled the singer Taj Mahal and found out he's older than me!

    HUTCH said...

    When I was in the Army in 1953,and when the army was going to reoperate on my leg resulting in another year of hospitalization, Senator Estes Kefauver got me a transfer to Madigan Army Hospital with the result- no operation, a walking cast and back to duty in two months! No! I'll never forget that great DEMOCRAT Estes Kefauver.

    Sfingi said...

    ESTES Kefauver ran as VP to Adlai Stevenson his second run. He had been instrumental in getting mafiosi in the '60s. I was in HS.

    TAJ is a talented 68 yr. old man, winner of 3 Grammies, from Palmer, MA, which you pass on the way to Boston from Albany.

    Very cute puzzle.

    SethG said...

    Larry Kroger went to C. Estes Kefauver High School in Dacron, OH. You should check out his yearbook.

    brainylagirl said...

    moue is definitely a word. think of the little mouths on cherubs; often used in describing artwork. (btw, there's a word for that which is also good to know: ekphrasis.)

    i liked that IDIOM appeared in the fill along with all the idiomatic "clue" mash-ups in the theme. that was a nice touch.