MONDAY, Jun. 9, 2008 - Paula Gamache (BELOVED OF ELIZABETH I)

Monday, June 9, 2008



Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "IT'S A TRAP!" (42D: Warning cry ... or a hint to the beginnings of the answers to the five starred clues)

Hey, look, it's a better version of last Thursday's puzzle, only this one's where it belongs: on a Monday. First words of all the (otherwise unrelated) theme answer do ... something. Here, they describe different kinds of TRAPs. My favorite is BOOBY, which, if you know me, comes as no surprise. I did this stupid thing I'm never going to do again, where I tried to solve the puzzle by doing all the Acrosses first, and then filling in whatever space I had left via the Downs. Inefficient! And in a puzzle as well constructed as this one, not as easy as I would have imagined. I had only a little more than HALF (1A: 50 percent) of the Acrosses filled in on first pass, including None of the theme answers (except BOOBY PRIZE - got that instantly). Without crosses, I put DDE in the wrong decade and ended up with HHH as his rival (38A: D.D.E.'s political rival => AES). Without crosses, I had no idea where a horseshoe was supposed to go (16A: Where a horseshoe goes => HOOF). Without crosses, I could enter only the ST in ST CROIX (21A: One of the U.S. Virgin Islands). Then again, even with several crosses in place, I wrote in CLOSES for CLASPS at 22D: Necklace fasteners. So, sometimes, crosses shmosses.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Sightseer's guide (tourist map) - I have balked at this answer before, I feel, and I did it again today. I never think of tourists as having their own category of map. You have a map or you don't. I know I'm wrong about this, but harumph nonetheless.
  • 4D: *Hose company hookup (fire plug)
  • 30A: *Creation made with a bucket and shovel (sand castle)
  • 47A: *One who puts the pedal to the metal (speed demon)
  • 63A: *The worst player wins it (booby prize)

This is a kind of textbook Monday puzzle - easy, but with a minimum of ugh fill and some genuinely cute and engaging fill.

My favorites:

  • SANGRIA (39A: Spanish wine beverage)
  • FIREPLUG
  • UPTICKS (15D: Slight improvements in business activity)
  • TATLER (58A: British society magazine)
  • ST CROIX

There are also some coincidental pairings that I liked a whole lot, including

  • MOSES CRAMP (27D: Grandma _____, American folk artist + 28D: Muscle malady)
  • AFRO PEAS (68A: Big do + 71A: "Split" soup ingredients), and
  • SHAG HOMO (54D: Retro cut + 55D: _____ sapiens).

That last one is particularly choice. It's nice also to see the puzzle championing the cause of Diversity by including not just Yale's founder, ELIHU (14A: Yale of Yale University), but the founder of Cornell as well (60D: Cornell of Cornell University). I feel like I'm seeing Dr. King's dream realized right in front of my eyes ... a world where my children will be judged not by the quality of the Ivy League school they went to, but by the quality of the first name of the guy who founded their Ivy League School.

Remainder:

  • 34D: Beloved of Elizabeth I (Essex) - pretty Britishy puzzle, what with TATLER in there and all
  • 57D: Inside info (poop) - oh my wife did not like that one. Had never heard of it, in fact. But then again she also struggled a bit with KARATE (24D: Sport in which belts are awarded) ... and she is a Green Belt.
  • 67A: Longtime Yankees skipper (Torre) - now the Dodgers skipper. I actually bought Yankees merchandise yesterday, if crossword puzzle books count as merchandise. Brendan Emmett Quigley has both a Yankees and a Red Sox crossword puzzle book out right now, and I bought them both. I haven't done any of the puzzles yet, but if they are even in the ballpark (!) of his normal standards, they should be good.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

36 comments:

treedweller 9:01 AM  

I enjoyed this, but didn't get a great time. I kept getting bogged down in the theme answers, trying to get the concept instead of just filling in letters wherever there was a gimme. I didn't end up getting it until I was almost done.

My last letter was the 'M' in MAJA--never heard of it, and I had to come up at it from below. Penultimate fill was 'R' in MESSRS, which I suspected early on but wasn't sure how to abbrev.

Michael 9:02 AM  

I'm surprised you didn't call out the crossing of the woord BOOBY with POOP. The 12-year-old in me loved this.

ArtLvr 9:11 AM  

This was my fastest yet -- though I don't usually pay attention to the time... Couldn't wait to see the comments on POOP, after last week's run. Hope it doesn't lead to a CRAMP.

With the stock market rocky, it was encouraging to consider UPTICKS counterbalancing SHARKS, MONTE, crazy like A FOX and SPEED DEMONs.. Well-timed theme, since the upticks can all too often lead one to "waul" IT'S A TRAP!

∑;(

jordanboston 9:16 AM  

HOMOs, BOOBYs, and POOPs, Oh My! Quite 'SAUCY' for a Monday morning.

xyzzy 9:22 AM  

I'm always fascinated at others' comments about how easy/hard these are. This was the easiest time I've ever had (and I'm a rookie who's only been doing these for a few months - trying to put off alzheimers, heh heh.)

Anyway, this one just fell into place for me, and I usually have to cheat (Google, RP's blog, etc.) to complete these. Did neither today. Go figure.

xyzzy 9:22 AM  

I'm always fascinated at others' comments about how easy/hard these are. This was the easiest time I've ever had (and I'm a rookie who's only been doing these for a few months - trying to put off alzheimers, heh heh.)

Anyway, this one just fell into place for me, and I usually have to cheat (Google, RP's blog, etc.) to complete these. Did neither today. Go figure.

Ramsey 9:43 AM  

what's funny about 'shag homo'?

Zach M. 9:50 AM  

For some reason I kept reading "Muscle malady" as "Musical Malady", and when I had -RAMP I stared at it for a bit trying to think if maybe it was some Italian word meaning that you were ramping up too much or something.

Ladel 10:00 AM  

@xyzzy

did you forget about the first posting? Rx: do more puzzles.

Perfect Monday puzzle.

Bill from NJ 10:32 AM  

Fun puzzle with no real problems. I liked the incidental pairings

ELIHU EZRA
SHAG AFRO
ESSEX TATLER
MAJA SANGRIA

Nebraska Doug 10:33 AM  

@jordanboston is on the same wavelength I am...I'm calling this the Beavis and Butthead puzzle, within the clues or answers are the following: boob, homo, naked, virgin, and gay. "He said ______, Hee Hee". Sorry if I ruffled the feathers of any PC types - but not really.

Orange 10:38 AM  

Rex, I could swear you had sworn not to buy that Yankees crossword book, and to tout only the Red Sox one. Next thing you know, you'll be giving grudging praise to A-Rod.

John in CT 10:39 AM  

Had no real problems with today's puzzle. I came to the site expecting an "easy" rating, and was somewhat suprised to see a "medium." I was able to get all my unknowns from crosses. Have a great day all.

Crosscan 11:06 AM  

I put "IT'S A WRAP" and wondered why you had to be warned. Was this a message from the Anti-Saran League?

Not a good omen for the rest of the week.

Crosscan 11:06 AM  

I put "IT'S A WRAP" and wondered why you had to be warned. Was this a message from the Anti-Saran League?

Not a good omen for the rest of the week.

jls 11:21 AM  

first time around i entered "notnow" for "notyet" and "upturns" for "upticks"... both easily corrected in this everso gracefully constructed, smile-inducing monday puzzle.

greetings from the baked apple!

;-)

janie

emjo 11:37 AM  

sassy!

miriam b 11:48 AM  

Fun puzzle, but PARKA, FIREPLUG and STYX made me feel the heat. The MAJA was probably glad to be unclothed today.

Heading for CA early tomorrow before the temperature rises in earnest. Forecasts for our destinations (Moorpark. Laguna Niguel and Dana Point) are for temps in the 70s for the next week.

PuzzleGirl 12:22 PM  

This was a good puzzle for me -- after getting beat up pretty bad the last two days. I actually entered RMN for DDE rival at first. Also had ST KITTS for ST CROIX. I don't mind TOURIST MAP -- I think of those maps they give you at a hotel desk, with sites and restaurants labeled. The one I've seen in puzzles a couple times that I don't like is AREA MAP.

"Hand me that area map."

"Which one?"

"The one of the area."

"Which area?"

"The area we're trying to get to."

"The one of the whole big area with separate pages for the smaller areas? Or the one with only the area where we're going with an inset showing an enlarged version of a popular area?"

"Just gimme the damn map."

Doc John 12:40 PM  

I, too, was surprised at the medium rating. Expected it to be easy-medium at worst. My only real bump was that I had Berra in place of TORRE (thanks to only having ORE and BRR at that point).

All in all, a nice puzzle with some fun fill. Fave clue/answer: 7D. Beam in a bar? = JIM.

Can you all hear Princess Leia in Episode VI (I think) yelling, "It's a trap!"? (Or am I Marco POLOing again?)

Joon 12:45 PM  

desultory observations:

perfect monday puzzle.

STCROIX is the home of tim duncan, who recently appeared in a sunday theme (disguised as the yoyoing squad TEAMDUNCAN).

SPEEDDEMON is a great theme entry. FIREPLUG stoned me for a while--i kept wanting it to be something related to the other kind of hose company, but nothing about nylons or stockings would fit.

i like SANGRIA as much as the next guy, but i feel like i've been seeing it in the grid a lot recently.

i like the symmetrical placement of TAROT and MONTE.

ANTIC looks very odd in the singular.

unlike the beavises of the crossworld, i found this puzzle to be very high-brow for a monday. ESSEX, TATLER, MAJA, MESSRS, POLO, COSI fan tutte, and the two ivy guys.

it's freaking hot out.

Joon 12:50 PM  

doc john, you sure about that? i'm thinking it was admiral ackbar.

PhillySolver 12:56 PM  

It is too hot to think about the puzzle, but I do recall it was a great Monday effort.

Half time and France has not scored!

Karen 12:59 PM  

We have tourist maps in our corner also, given out at local businesses, that highlight certain establishments and vendors. So I'm cool with that.

I did all the downs, then all the acrosses, and had a medium Monday time. But I avoided staring at the theme answers.

Doc John 1:10 PM  

joon, Admiral Ackbar (I never knew that was his name!) says the line, too, but the one that I'm remembering is yelled out by Leia as, I think, Han and Luke are rushing somewhere as she's being dragged away by some guards.

Maybe my memory isn't so good, turns out the scene I'm thinking of was in Episode V and not VI.

Shamik 1:30 PM  

BRR....58 degrees at 11:23 a.m. and going all the way up to 68 in NW Colorado! Somehow there should be more "r's" in BRR when you're blogging about being cold vs. crossword fill. Still, I opened the windows to get some air through here...but I'll need my jacket! ;-P

Rex...I guess doing all the Across first makes it a Medium vs. Easy.

jubjub 1:34 PM  

Hey Rex, is the Superman picture you posted from a real comic? What is in Superman's thought bubble? Is it censored for decency?

As I did not know the relevant definition of POOP, I got to look up poop in the dictionary today. That was fun. In case anyone is wondering how to use this definition of poop in a sentence:
"Send a reporter to get the real poop on that accident."
"She gave me all the poop on the company party. "
Also, if anyone was wondering the derivation of the word for it's most common meaning:
"Origin: 1735–45; earlier “to break wind,” prob. the same word as ME powpen, popen to sound or blow a horn ..."

Here are some weird Goya illustrations I was looking at last week:
http://www.fulltable.com/VTS/g/goya/goya.htm
Goya's cool :).

In Re BOOBY TRAPs:
"Pinchers of Power! Pinchers of Power! You guys, I be saved by my Pinchers of Power!"

Shamik 1:40 PM  

oh? it isn't "I MISS the rains down in Africa?"

jubjub 1:40 PM  

oh, also, here is a link to the Monty Hall problem. You are all probably aware of it, but just in case, it is a great way to waste some time. Oh, and blow your mind:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Hall_problem
(Tangentially related to three card MONTE.)

dk 2:18 PM  

Just a word from the x-word puzzle decency council:

ITSATRAP! The constant puzzle references to drugs (SPEED,SCAG), body parts (BOOBY), alcohol (JIM Beam, SANGRIA) and alluring phrases like NOTYET suggest we will be vacatioing on the river STYX rather than the STCROIX.

ENOLA was in one of the very first x-word puzzles I completed so it always makes me smile when I see it.

I think this was PERT puzzle and a great start to the week. Rex, I did the puzzle begining with all the downs and then going back for the accrosses. Seemed to be a speedy day for me.

@doc john, I ALSO remember the Princess Leia ITSATRAP.

Those of you on the right coast: Stay cool!

andrea carla michaels 3:20 PM  

what's with all the weather reports?
It's bad enough to hear how hot it is, I guess, Back East, but to have to hear what the weather is GOING to be like in CA?!!
(Poor Rex! Your dream of elevated puzzle discussion gone the way of the Weather Channel!)
That said,
I like that the two place names STCROIX and STYX started and ended with S-X...seems like a theme waiting to happen.
Nice, Paula!

Bill from NJ 4:26 PM  

I initially had ITSAWRAP because it was more in the language than ITSATRAP but I knew TATLER and changed it at once

chefbea1 4:41 PM  

very easy puzzle today!!
Enjoyed my mint juleps the other day made with Jim Beam. Today I will drink Sangria and try to stay cool. The thermometer on my patio says 100 degrees right now. Don't think I will make split pea soup for dinner.

Fergus 5:54 PM  

Had a good laugh, Rex, at your wry rephrasing of Dr. King's vision. another good pair of neighbors was TAROT-LEERY (hyphen intended.)

I also think this was a pretty snappy Monday puzzle -- even better than last Thursday's. Didn't mind that the TRAPS all had stand-alone antecedents, but I do like it better if they can be buried.

Well, it just hit 90 degrees here (weather guy predicted low 70s) so it's time to saunter down to the beach

jannieb 6:19 PM  

Wish all Monday puzzles were this engaging and well done!

Kim 9:34 PM  

Average Monday Puzzle for me but agree it was well constructed. I wanted SPEED RACER instead of SPEED DEMON. Don't know why as I certainly did not like the series and haven't seen the movie.

I penned in EROS for "Cupid" insted of AMOR and I never knew Eli Yales full name was ELIHU ("Eli who?). Guess you can learn something even from a Monday puzzle - so thank you Paula Gamache. And Rex the comments on Ivy League diversity were so acidicly ironic the fumes made my eyes water - good stuff!

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