06.14 Tue

June 14, 2011
Donna S. Levin

Theme: Boxes — Theme answers all have boxes.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: FedEx, for one (SHIPPING SERVICE).
  • 33A: What many a game of Battleship is played on (GRAPH PAPER).
  • 45A: Stamp seller (POST OFFICE).
  • 65A: Manhattan's Minskoff, e.g. (BROADWAY THEATER).
  • 71A: Spars in the ring, and features of the four longest puzzle answers (BOXES).
I'm not going to lie to you. It's very difficult for me to concentrate on this puzzle. Why? Because I'm in the New York Times today! Doug and I constructed a puzzle that Will Shortz accepted for publication almost a year ago (!!) and it's finally running today. It's very exciting. I'm getting lots of emails and Facebook messages and tweets from people and I'm checking out the comments on some of the blogs and, well, it's just kinda hard to concentrate right now. So let me just take a few deep breaths … center myself … and focus on this Tuesday gem. … Squeeeee!! Sorry about that. Let me try that again.

So okay, the theme. The theme is BOXES. You will find BOXES in every one of the theme answers and that's pretty much a perfect theme for a Tuesday. Nothing particularly flashy about any of the theme answers, and there's not a ton of sparkle to the fill either, but it's all super super solid. The only thing I think I really didn't like in the whole puzzle was URANO (42A: Planet after Saturno). But other than that we've got the Scrabbly SPRITZ and HOAX (9D: Cologne squirt / 61D: Fraud). 53D: "What's it TO YOU?" made me laugh. It seems like such a Merl Reagle clue to me, and the little colloquial partials he uses so often always make me laugh. They always sound kinda crotchety and I'm always amused by crotchety.

Oh, I wanted to say one other thing about the theme. Battleship on GRAPH PAPER? I've never heard of that, but it makes so much sense. Is that, like, how people used to play Battleship before the toy company figured out how to make money on it? Or did it just start as a way for Battleship addicts to play when no board was handy? I really want to know.

Look, I'm so so distracted right now. Donna, I'm sorry. I really like this puzzle but I Just Can't Concentrate. Here's a quick list of the entries that jumped out at me as fresh and/or entertaining.

  • 9A: Descendant (SCION). Is there a car called a SCION? It seems like a car name.
  • 16A: Fencer's deflection (PARRY).
  • 29A: 1983 Woody Allen title role (ZELIG).
  • 47A: Rainbow maker (PRISM). Maybe I'm just thinking of car names because I used to drive a Geo Prizm.
  • 64A: Resignee of 1974 (NIXON).
  • 1D: Fish in a roll, perhaps (SUSHI).
  • 4D: Accuse of misconduct (IMPEACH).
  • 7D: Mystery award (EDGAR).
  • 26D: Calligrapher's flourish (SERIF). I actually had a long conversation about fonts and serifs with some friends the other night over dinner. True story.
And with any luck I'll be back tomorrow with something interesting to say. In the meantime ... go do the New York Times puzzle!

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 41A: Chaplin's last wife (OONA).
  • 12D: Black-and-white sea giant (ORCA).
  • 28D: Tropical tuber (TARO).
  • 60D: Woody's son (ARLO).
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Everything Else 1A: Give in to gravity (SAG); 4A: Louvre Pyramid architect (I. M. PEI); 14A: "Born in the __" (USA); 15A: Cleaning crew (MAIDS); 20A: Skating great Sonja (HENIE); 21A: King Abdullah subject (SAUDI); 22A: Took a load off (SAT); 23A: Tailor's measurement (INSEAM); 25A: Pauses that refresh (RESTS); 27A: Simple bed (COT); 40A: Trevi Fountain city (ROME); 43A: Caspian Sea country (IRAN); 44A: Proverbial sinking ship deserters (RATS); 49A: Schuss, e.g. (SKI); 50A: "... your cake and __" (EAT IT); 54A: Fla. coastal city (ST. PETE); 59A: Response to a doctor (AAH); 62A: Prohibited acts (NO-NOS); 68A: Frighten (ALARM); 69A: Jazzy Armstrong (LOUIS); 70A: River, to Ricardo (RIO); 72A: Quick garage jobs (LUBES); 73A: Abby's twin (ANN); 2D: Wan (ASHEN); 3D: "Capital" profits (GAINS); 5D: __ tai (MAI); 6D: Frat jewelry items (PINS); 8D: Contentious subject (ISSUE); 10D: Cleveland cager, briefly (CAV); 11D: Bearded flower (IRIS); 13D: "My eye!" in Minsk (NYET); 18D: Lemon meringue, e.g. (PIE); 19D: Both Begleys (EDS); 24D: Attend to a spill (MOP UP); 30D: Actress Petty (LORI); 31D: Apple computer (IMAC); 32D: Biological inheritance (GENE); 33D: Trail grub (GORP); 34D: Emulate MGM's lion (ROAR); 35D: Against (ANTI); 36D: Out of date (PASSE); 37D: __ de deux (PAS); 38D: Drs. eliciting 59-Acrosses (ENT'S); 39D: Pieces that castle (ROOKS); 46D: Exercise program goal (FITNESS); 48D: "Melts in your mouth" candy (M AND M'S); 51D: Pull (TOW); 52D: Totally (IN ALL); 55D: Former NBC anchor Lindstrom (PIA); 56D: Spare (EXTRA); 57D: Front-end alignment (TOE IN); 58D: 2000s symbol of corporate financial misconduct (ENRON); 59D: Simple rhyme scheme (ABAB); 63D: Bang, as one's toe (STUB); 66D: Exist (ARE); 67D: Move it (HIE).


Gareth Bain said...

Never heard of battleship as a board game! I'll take your word for it, though. As a kid, never played it on fancy-shmancy graph paper either though, just the regular sort, with the lines drawn in...

Anonymous said...

Not only is Battleship a popular board game, it is somehow being made into a movie. I wish I were making that up. I really do.

Urano was bad, but Urano crossing pas made it worse.

Congratulations PG!

Tuttle said...

SCION is a Toyota brand of youth-oriented cars; http://www.scion.com/#/home .

That said, I think x-word constructors need to steer clear (ha!) of cars as much as possible. Cluing TOE-IN as "front end alignment" just shows the constructor has a commuter car and not much depth of automotive know-how. Sports cars with independent rear suspensions adjust the toe on all four wheels and race cars, in some rare cases, actually toe-out the front. *Caster* is the alignment setting that is front-wheels only since it controls the relation of wheel position to steering angle.

Puzzle Mom said...

I liked this puzzle and thought it a nice, smooth Tuesday. I finished it in what is very good time for me. Being a non-master, I use the function that tells me right off when I've got a wrong letter. I suppose that should speed me along way faster than I actually perform; but I'm still happy with a 13.01 minute solve. (No Orange this one.)

Congrats on the NYTimes publication, PuzzleGirl. We've said it before, and we'll say it again, PuzzleDad and I are way proud of you today. Do you get to be a scion even if your family isn't really rich or really important in the grand scheme of things? (I tried "child" in that spot, but the "c" came up red right away. Then, when the "i" appeared, I tried it again. Still wrong.) Or does getting a puzzle into the NYTimes solve that problem right off?

cw stewart said...

Nice solid puzzle, Donna. It was an enjoyable solve and a perfect Tuesday.

CoffeeLvr said...

Fastest time so far this week, despite entering deliverySERVICE for FedEx, intially (hey, it fits the clue and the grid.) I think this theme is one that requires a reveal (BOXES), as otherwise the connection between the long answers is not obvious. @PG, love the pic of the kitty in the BOX, that is so what my girl does.

Only slowed down for URANO and ZELIG, needed some crosses for those. Oh, also slowed for ST?ETE, as I wasn't parsing it as ST. Somewhere, and don't know PIA.

I see GORP is back in the grid. We will see how many posters don't remember it from the previous puzzle this year.

Congrats, again, @PG, I do the NYT at night, and the LAT in the morning, so I knew about your debut.

Joon said...

URANO is usually clued as {Heavenly prefix}. i'm not sure i like this clue any more. on the one hand, why should we know the names of planets in other languages? on the other hand, it's a cognate. hmm. either way, i think the entry is pretty ugly as fill goes. but it was the only blemish on an otherwise delightful puzzle. it's always nice when an early week theme is something you totally didn't see coming.

Ole said...

This was a relatively quick solve for me, too (16:44). I winced at both TOEIN (for reasons above) and CAV (10D): I thought a 'cager' was someone who played baseball, which would make the Cleveland cager and IND, since the Cavs are netters, not cagers. Unless I don't know what a cager is.

LBJ said...

@Ole - You don't know what a cager is.

From dictionary.com:

cager- (noun) an athlete who plays basketball [syn: basketball player]

But don't feel bad. I've never seen or heard it outside a crossword grid.

C said...

Nice solid puzzle. The answers were all pretty solid, even URANO which we all know is the way to get the 7th planet of our solar system into a puzzle without making me laugh.

Congrats on the NY Time puzzle, @PG. Didn't know they ran a puzzle, too. How long have they been doing that ;^) ?

@Ole, a cager is an old timey term for a basketball player. I don't know 100% why they are called 'cagers' but IIRC, it had to do with the early playing courts for the game. In the early days, when a ball went out of bounds, it was first to the ball gets the ball kind of rules. Fans started getting involved and a fence was put around the court "caging" the players in (and keeping the fans out). Hence the term.

Ole said...

LBJ: Thanks,

That's the nice thing about crosswords, I learn something every time!

LBJ said...

@C - Thanks for the "cager" explanation. I thought cages were only for pro wrestling matches. I learned something too!

hebow44 said...

@Tuttle- your problem with the toe-in clue seemed unwarranted. You do toe-in the wheels to align the front of the car in certain situations. I would compare it to the clue "tennis score" ... it could be ad-in or ad-out as needed by the puzzle. How would you clue "toe-in"?

badams52 said...

I would clue toe-in as "Hokey Pokey instruction?"

you put your right toe in,
you put your right toe out ...

puzzle was fun today. DNF cause I didn't know the Lourve architect nor the Mystery award.

Everything fell into place. URANO doesn't bother me cause once I got UR_NO what else could it be besides an A unless some other language has a totally strange idea what to call Uranus.

Congrats PG on your NYT puzzle.
Kind of hoped you would spend more time talking about your NYT puzzle experience even though this is the LAT puzzle blog.


Nighthawk said...

Congrats on the NYT puzzle publication, @PG! Seems like only a few weeks ago we celebrated your debut. The hits just keep on comin!
Keep up the good work.

Thought this one was going to the mat in record time until I came to HIE and PIA. It was the H and A that had me stumped for minutes. Long. Excruciating. Minutes. 'Course, it didn't help that I'd never heard of Minskoff. I was thinking of some badguy type like Maddoff, so just stared at BROADWAY T_E_TER as the clock dials spun. I actually tried running the entire alphabet for _IE and for a while had HIE, but took the H out again b/c I couldn't think of a "badguy" sobriquet that started with THE_TER. For a while, I was thinking it was a BROADWAY TwEeTER, but PIe just didn't sound like a broadcaster worthy name, at least not one that wouldn't always have a sort of Soupy Sales undertone. I don't think broadcasting has stooped THAT low. Yet. "And in tonight's news...Whap!"

Mokus said...

Nighthawk's comments often crack me up, today's especially. Wasn't it Hamlet who told Ophelia, "Hie thee to a nunnery?"

I found this a very enjoyable puzzle and thought the theme was clever. Thank you, Donna.

Sfingi said...

Smooth for me. I always expect Sports clues to be meaningless, so fine.

TOEIN is supposed to be a healthier way to walk for humans.

I would expect left-coasters not to know Minskoff.

Had Tug before TOW, ISlam before ISSUE.

More cat traps:

Sfingi said...

Sorry - it's at icanhascheezburger.com/2009/08/17/funny-cat-traps-are-working/

Cats in boxes. They just can't help it.

Also check out Maru, the cat who jumps into all sorts of boxes.

Steve said...

Super puzzle, loved it. Was in Atlamta with jetlag, solved it while it was dark and trotted over here to be the first to comment and ..... NO BLOG!

So @PG fantastic for the NYT win. Know we love you.

mac said...

Congratulations, you two! What a good puzzle day!

This one was a perfect Tuesday, and fun to boot. Only write-over: sag for sat, and then sat showed up later. Urano needed a little thought, but St. Pete was quick. That Nixon gets around.

jim said...

My post office quit selling stamps a couple years ago.