Mar 28, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008 Robert H. Wolfe

Theme: "RE + ___ING = A Whole New word + ING " (update later: I think I kind of like the constructor's clever theme idea, I just hate the ING Tsunami).

17A: Matching up twosomes again?: REPAIRING

21A: Following up a fault? RESERVING

33A: Handing down old bike?: RECYCLING

46A: Follow-up ram? REBUTTING

59A: Second phone-in?: RECALLING

66A: Double checking a grade: REMARKING

A few things first:

1) I've just learned that our crossword editor, Wayne Robert Williams (ask as Josiah Breward or Willy A. Wiseman) actually does spend his oh-so-precious time editing the original puzzles submitted by various constructors. I received an email yesterday from a constructor who explained to me why my admonishment of his certain cluing was not his fault.

I was always under the impression that only Will Shortz (NY Times) & Peter Gordon (NY Sun) and a few other well known crossword editors change heavily (as much as 50%) the original clues to reach their desired difficulty level. This Williams guy seems to juggle so much projects on his hands (Daily Crossword, Daily Commuter, Daily Jumbo) every day that I thought he just foisted upon us any crossword he got from others. Frankly, his "Chicago Local Poet" puzzle on March 20 Thursday was crying for editing.

2) I've also learned from Orange that that it's actually an accepted practice in the cruciverbalist (crossword constructors) world for editors to edit their own constructions. Rich Norris of LA Times, Stan Newman of Newsday (the most responsive editor in my view) and other editors all publish their own puzzles under different pseudonyms. So my criticism of Mr. Williams' editing his own work was not on solid ground. However, he has never deigned to reply to me or addressed any of my questions, so I will continue to vent my displeasure over certain clues, fair or not.

OK, back to the puzzle. This is, without a doubt, the worst TMS puzzle I've ever solved. Had I known this was the puzzle waiting for me on the newspaper this morning, I would've stayed in bed. What a hideous construction! This Mr. Wolfe needs to turn off his obsession with ING and let go of his "Idée fix" with France. He simply let his admiration for Peter Mayle go overboard.

It's relatively an easy battle for me, esp with the annoyingly ubiquitous INGs, which rendered a few otherwise tough-to-get entries easily inferable. "The Count of Monte Cristo" happens to be one of my favorite books, and I just blogged about ARAN a few days ago, so I swept through the upper right corner with no effort.

But I did get snared on the lower right corner, esp the intersection of 63A & 58D. I never knew that "RENT" could be a noun meaning small fissure, always thought that "RENT" is the past particle of the verb "REND". So my 58D was LEGID for a long time, I thought LEGID might be a variant of LEGIT, or "On the level" has another meaning that I was not aware of. So I spent a long time sulking at the clues. I had to google ODEA and CELT. I forgot the former and I did not know the latter (BRETON).

Grid: Total words 78, total blank square: 38.

Across entries:

1A: Hawaiian port: HILO

5A: Machu Picchu honcho: INCA

9A: "The Count of Monte Cristo": DUMAS. The 2002 remake with James Caviezel as Edmond Dantes was pretty good. I still think that Tim Robbins & Morgan Freeman's The Shawshank Redemption is the best. Is there a special genre name for these kind of prison-break style movies?

14A: Slaughter of baseball: ENOS

16A: Madagascar primate: INDRI. It's a short tailed LEMUR, which was clued on March 13 puzzle.

19A: Hebrew month: SIVAN (the 9th month)

20A: Least desirable portion: DREGS. Yep, this puzzle is pockmarked with dregs.

23A: Unbroken stretch: STREAK

25A: Town near Caen: ST. LO

28A: Support pieces: I BEAMS

40A: Concert halls: ODEA. Saw it before, then I promptly forgot. The singular form is Odeum.

41A: Like pigeons' walk: TOE IN. The clue is asking for an adjective, is "Toe In" an adjective?

44A: Exploits to the nth degree: MILKS. I actually do not feel so bad for Paul McCartney. Heather Mill did not milk him dry.

48A: Watch the boxer?: PET SIT

50A: Greek letter: ETA

51A: Travel on Pegasus?: RIDE. I got it from the down clues. But really, I had no idea what was "Pegasus". And at this point of my solving, my mild displeasure with the question mark had been elevated to medium disgust (later upgraded to total scorn). Pegasu is "a winged horse, created from the blood of Medusa, that opened the spring of Hippocrene with a stroke of its hoof, and that carried Bellerophon in his attack on the Chimera."

54A: Helix: SPIRAL

68A: Gage book: ELENI. Did not know the author, did not know the book. Pure guess.

69A: Actor Morales: ESAI. Ah, Tony Rodriguez of NYPD Blue. Of the bunch, Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits) is probably my favorite.

71A: Car type: SEDAN

73A: Tear: RENT. Noun.

Down clues:

1D: Goat groups: HERDS. Don't get it. Herd is already a group of goat, how can you add an extra S?

2D: Like some gases: INERT

3D: Long strider: LOPER

4D: Type of orange: OSAGE. Never heard of this orange. Osage is alway an Indian tribe name to me.

5D: Leb. neighbor: ISR

6D: Black in Paris: NOIR. Or Bete _.

7D: Pine pieces: CONES

8D: Feeling of dread: ANGST

9D: Take off, in a way: DISROBE

10D: Letters for 1506: MDVI (just for mkat :-))

12D: Islands off Galway: ARAN. Appeared on Sunday March 23 puzzle, clued as Islands off Ireland.

13D: Warble: SING. Finally an innocent ING.

18D: Babel or Stern: ISAAC. Knew Stern, did not know Babel, who died ages and ages ago. What's wrong with Issac Asimov?

24D: Tartan wrap: KILT

27D: Christian of fashion: DIOR

30D: To you, in Toulouse: A TOI

32D: Smelting waste: SLAG. Scum, dross, all junk.

33D: Caper: ROMP

34D: Singer Brickell: EDIE

35D: Breton, eg.: CELT. Did not know the meaning of Breton.

36D: Chatters: YAKS. Yak is also the Tibetan ox.

38D: Barbed remark: GIBE

45D: Steak order: SIRLOIN

47D: Rhino relative: TAPIR. It looks like this.

52D: More critical: DIRER. Not when you are in fault-finding mood obviously. Dire situation.

53D: January in Juarez: ENERO

55D: Stamp pad: INKER

57D: Kofi of the U.N. : ANNAN. Well, he is not with the U. N. any more. Ban Ki-Moon has been the new Sheriff for over a year.

58D: On the level: LEGIT

59D: Eurasian deer: ROES

60D: Perry's creator: ERLE

61D: For both sexes: COED

62D: Dancer Pavlova: ANNA. She is famous for her portrayal of a swan in The Dying Swan and Swan Lake. Wikipedia says that she is the first ballerina to travel around the world. She once said "Happiness is like a butterfly which appears and delights us for one brief moment, but soon flits away." So true!!

63D: Car loan lender: GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corporation). Didn't GM sold it to some private investment firm? Target is also trying to divest its once profitable Credit Card Unit I think.



Dennis said...

Morning, C.C. - Well, I was waiting for the hammer and it never fell. This one went smoothly, so unless tomorrow comes through, this will have been one of the easiest weeks I've had.
I don't have a problem with 'herds' - just means more than one herd, right?
Hope it's a great Friday for everyone.

Katherine said...

Good morning CC. I was waiting for you. I woke up early today. I loved the Shawshank Redemption. One of my favorite movies. I enjoyed the picture of the OSAGE. I never saw an orange like that before! I had BETS ON for 48 A, Watch the boxer! Wrong!
Till tomorrow. Have a good day.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Dennis, I remembered your comment yesterday and I had braced myself for a good fight. These INGs and I just did not get along!

Katherine, OSAGE, UGLI are both strange fruits to me. Have never seen them in real life.

Anonymous said...

Good morning, CC

Ah yes, the return of the roman numerals. Thanks for the smile, CC, when I saw your comment; I did struggle a little bit. At least this time I had all but the D! Thank heavens I knew 9A and what to use to make the 6 in 1506! I'll remember these . . . eventually.

I, too, have "Shawshank Redemption" as one of my favorite movies! And, actually, "The Count of Monte Cristo" (unabridged version) is one of my top five favorite books.

Overall, this wasn't such a terrible week, in terms of crosswords. Though, I do have my daily gripes with certain clues. I certainly had to look twice when "rent" came out for 73A. For the other clues I didn't know, I was able to infer the answers as I figured out the surrounding clues. It also seemed like there were repeat offenders that I hadn't seen in a while - "orono", "enero" and some others that just aren't coming to me right now.

As a dog person, I thought 48A was a cute clue.

Happy Friday!

NYTAnonimo said...

Osage oranges also referred to as "monkey brains" are about the size of a grapefruit, green and wrinkled.

I got hung up on Breton-wanted CAPE, then wanted PIMPS instead of MILKS. I did not know SIVAN or ARAN.

A lot of crosswordese-Orono, Elenei, Esai, St. Lo, nee, Dior, etc.

I hope you all have a nice weekend and coming week. I will be out of town for awhile and am not sure how much access I'll have to a computer.

Superfrey said...

All of those "ings" made it fairly easy, though I did struggle with "Odea" and did not know that "Rent" equals Tear... got that though on the down clues. Shawshank Redemption was terrific.. one of my favorites. C.C. Opening Day awaits... go Twins :-)

Dr. Dad said...

Started badly in the upper right with lemur, forgetting that indri is a type of lemur. Didn't work with MDVI so had to work the other parts to get the corner right. Then put in exalt instead of extol. Quickly got out of that with the down clues. Finally, put in bilks instead of milks thinking of cheating and started working on Rob_ (instead of romp) thinking that caper was a plot. This naturally messed up Pet Sit. Finally got finished without googling but this wasn't one of my best efforts. Didn't like toe in and direr.

One goat group is a herd. Goat groups (plural) is herds.

I was impressed with C.C.'s knowledge of Pegasus and Bellerophon. When Pegasus finished his "earthly duties" he then went to Olympus and often brought Zeus' lightning bolts to him.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Anonymous said...

Good morning!

I know I would never have finished this one if it had shown up last month. Plenty of repeat offenders-- ENOS, ESAI, ORONO, ARAN and so on.

I finished it, but it wasn't a very fun puzzle for me. I admit that I liked PETSIT for 48A, though.

Maybe I'm just cranky this morning.

Anonymous said...

After restructuring my thoughts and researching all possibilities, I have concluded that the theme of this puzzle is "Reverberation"


C.C. Burnikel said...

drdad, you might have misoverestimated (OK, a little bit of Bushism here) me. I had no idea what was Pegasus. I got RIDE from down clues.

dugglesmack said...

CC,I would respectfully suggest that some of your problems with this puzzle may have stemmed with your being upset about the "ing" thing. Like you, I did think it was a clever idea, but wished it could have been accomplished without the repeated use of the ending.

I had problems with the NE corner where you zipped through it, (I guess I didn't remember Aran or Sivan from recent puzzles) but...
1) I might agree with dennis on herds being a fairly logical extension for "more than one herd"
2) "toe in" seemed pretty natural to me as a description of how a pigeon might walk - maybe in the same way that akimbo might describe how a person is standing.
3) I knew immediately what Pegasus was, but stumbled because I thought "ride" was too easy for an answer.
4) I sort of take it for granted that constructors and editors make frequent use of people and companies that aren't necessarily still around or functioning like Kofi Annan and GMAC - on occasion they might use the word "former", but I never count on it.

It just sorta sounded like you got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning... thought I'd put my two cents in, but please don't take it personal... ;-) I guess what I'm saying is "I enjoyed the puzzle."

Keep up the good work! and I'll seeya in the funnypapers!

MH said...

twas a difficult one for me today. I never get the Hebrew months - I guess I should just memorize them.

Never heard of an indri and forgot Aran islands so the upper right was a mess.

On the middle left I didn't know odea and figured that 48A had to start with RE since it had a question mark. The E worked with Edie so I left the R there for a long time. Needed some help in this section.

Lower left I had redialing instead of recalling until I got sirloin. Fortunately I remembered Orono and the rest fell into place.

The ING endings didn't give me much angst. But overall I found it to be a difficult puzzle.

Orange said...

The osage orange isn't a citrus fruit at all. It grows in the wild in the Chicago area. [Type of orange] isn't a great clue because while [___ orange] would work, this particular "fruit" isn't an orange at all. Although...the American Heritage Dictionary definitions of orange include "Any of several similar plants, such as the Osage orange and the mock orange," so the clue is actually rock-solid.

Removing the -ING from the theme entries would have made the theme entries far too short (5 to 7 letters) for a decent crossword. It does make a puzzle easier (and duller) if there are repeated letters in every theme entry—Peter Gordon tends to avoid such themes in the New York Sun for just that reason.

Now, having six RE- and -ING words in a themeless puzzle would be far worse. In the theme, they're serving a purpose. In a themeless, they'd just be there to get the fill to work and would add no excitement.

MH said...

C.C., I forgot to mention that I liked your use of cruceverbalist in your comments. Some definitions include crossword puzzle solvers as well as authors as cruciverbalists (but not editors ;-).

BTW, I had not heard of crosswordese, thanks for the tip. Ditto on the link to Super Quiz community website link.

jimhllrn said...

73A gave me a problem until I realized it was used as a noun and not a verb.
51A makes me wonder why the 'question mark' (?) at the end. I always consider a '?' as meaning the answer is going to be something clever and considering that FLY or RIDE are the only ways to travel on Pegasus, where's the 'clever' ???

Anonymous said...

C.C., I got 23A , Unbroken stretch, as 'streak' by spelling
18D as 'Isaac' instead of 'Issac'. Love this blog. Keep up good work.

C.C. Burnikel said...


I did not understand the question mark either! There is no CLEVERNESS or anything. This constructor was just on a ??? binge this morning.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Orange, I got your point, still, I hate them, even if they did serve a purpose.

Can you recall any really good NYT or NYS puzzle that mirrors the pattern we have today? The suffixes can be ER, IER, EST I suppose?

winfield said...

Maybe I'm showing my age but red Pegasus was a symbol for Mobilgas. I guess now its EXXON(I remember ESSO) Mobile

Orange said...

To answer your question from a couple comments up, C.C., uh...probably not, no.

Anonymous said...

Morning everyone! Pretty easy puzzle today, hooray!

Wanna wish everyone a wonderful computer is becoming unstable, so please know I'm with you all in spirit if you don't hear from me for a bit! ~AlohaSpirit~

Anonymous said...

c. c. Good afternoon. I usually do not get to log on till after 5 p.m. here, so, I alway feel left out! Just kidding. 40.a and 44.a completly threw me for a loop. Oh well, that's the way it goes. The rest of the puzzle was fun. By the way? How is my spelling and punntuation now? (joke intended) keep up the good work and keep rootin for them twins! sincerely, The Whoo bye now

C.C. Burnikel said...

The whoo,


Anonymous said...

IT WAS EASY TODAY A SINCE U GOT THE THEME WORDS,THE REST KIND OF FELL IN PLACE-cldnt figure out 48A -watch the boxer.-PETSIT. doesn't seem to make sense.


C.C. Burnikel said...

48A: PET SIT. Like Baby-sit, get it?

C.C. Burnikel said...

Boxer is a breed of dog.