Monday, 5/28/12

NYT 3:32 (pannonica) 
LAT 2:39 (Jeffrey -paper) 
CS 6:18 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 

Kurt Mueller’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT • 5/28/12 • Mon • Mueller • 52812 • solution (not one of my favorite resources) sez:

1. rubber baby buggy bumpers: Movie catchphrase/tongue-twister made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1993 action parody film Last Action Hero. Meant to make fun of typical catchphrases that made action films even more remarkable in the first place, which Arnold himself is well known for.

However, it never caught on when compared to “I’ll be back” (also spoofed in Last Action Hero), “Hasta la vista, baby” or “Get to the chopper”, which will always be Arnold’s top catch phrases.

Jack Slater: “You’ve seen these movies where they say ‘Make my day’ or ‘I’m your worst nightmare’? Well, listen to this one: Rubber baby buggy bumpers!”

53-across tells us [The starts of 20-, 29-, 36- and 46-Across, e.g., when repeated quickly in order] TONGUE TWISTER. As you already know, they comprise the above phrase.

  • 20. [Stereotypical entree at a campaign event] RUBBER CHICKEN. Did not know this, and can’t even determine if it’s a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the quality of the food preparation or refers to some kind of prank.
  • 29a. [One born in the late 1940s or ’50s] BABY BOOMER.
  • 36a. [Item carried by an Amish driver] BUGGY WHIP.
  • 46a. [Farmer’s wish] BUMPER CROP.

So, I was unfamiliar with the “punchline” of the theme, although since it’s listed (at Wikipedia, as well as other places) among the variety of “short phrases which become tongue-twisters when repeated rapidly,” I can at least gather that it probably wasn’t concocted for the 1993 movie. Not super-impressed here.

The rest of the fill is all right, but again not particularly interesting or appealing. Feels as if there were more compromises than usual for a Monday puzzle. -ENT (at one-across!), UBI [Where: Lat.], IMO, SNO-, TAS, SRS. crossing SOPH. (the similarly-constructed clues do not ameliorate, if that was the intent), WYO, A PIE, LEO IV, et al.

On the bright side, the vertical seven-stacks in the NW and SE are quite nice indeed. EXURBAN NEBULAE TRIBORO. The last is clued wistfully (to this solver) as [ __ Bridge (former name of New York’s R.F.K. Bridge)]. BOOTIES|UPTEMPO|THE ROAD. Kind of wish the last of this trio had been clued in reference to Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel instead of as [In phrases, something to share or hit]. More juiciness in ROCK SOLID [Absolutely dependable] and SUPERNOVA.

Despite these highlights (two of them literally stellar), the tepid theme, weak short supporting fill, and overly tame early-week cluing combine to make me feel meh rather than RAH (51a) about this one. I can’t imagine working this puzzle would inspire a novice solver.

Kurt Mueller’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

Theme: Animal + body part

Theme answers:

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Monday May 28 2012

  • 17A. [TV-top antenna] – RABBIT EARS
  • 30A. [Airhead] – BIRD BRAIN
  • 36A. [Sharp bends in fairways] – DOG LEGS
  • 38A. [Reedy marsh plant] – CAT TAIL
  • 46A. [Craps loser] – SNAKE EYES
  • 63A. [Snug-collared top] – TURTLE NECK

Other stuff:

  • 19A. [Enthusiastic hand-raiser’s cry] – ME ME. A meme is an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. It is spread by one person enthusiatically waving their hand and crying “Me! Me!” to the next person.
  • 3D. [“Could __ Magic“: Barry Manilow hit] – IT BE
  • 25D. [Songwriter Clapton] – ERIC
  • 46D. [Exclamation from Gomer Pyle] – SHAZAM! It turned Gomer into an opera singer.

Updated Monday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Vessel Versions” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS, May 28 solution

I really like how Tony Orbach re-imagines five terms that end with a type of vessel:

  • 17-Across: The ICE CUBE TRAY is not just something you find in the freezer; here, it’s a [Rapper-turned-actor’s CD caddy?]. That is, it’s Ice Cube’s tray.
  • 24-Across: What would you call an [Alley social?], or a party at the local lanes? It’s probably a MIXING BOWL, just like there’s an “open bowl” when all lanes are open to the public.
  • 39-Across: You might normally think of a COLLECTION PLATE as something passed around at church. Here, though, it’s an [Anthology illustration] (i.e., the plate containing the drawing that appears in the collection, the anthology).
  • 49-Across: Likewise, here an ordinary BUTTER DISH becomes [Gossip (“dish”) among rams (‘butters”)?].
  • 62-Across: I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to see “AMERICA’S CUP” again without thinking of this re-imagined clue: [Comic Captain’s protective gear?]. Thanks for ruining yachting for me forever, Tony. Aw, who I am kidding? It was my favorite entry!

ALTAIR, the [Star in Aquila] is a tough way to start at 1-Across. You either know this or need every single crossing. I feel lucky that I got it right away, but I still struggled with two of the crossings. I wanted LEGIT and not LICIT as the answer to [Allowed] and couldn’t suss out ARCANA as the answer to [Secrets] for the longest time.

In the wrong hands, TEETOTALS could be a mess of an entry, but the clue here, [Leaves the sauce on the side?], really makes it zing. Is BOTOX really a [Relaxing shot to the face?] I thought the whole idea was to firm things up in the location of the shot and not so much about relaxing them.

It seems like every time I see the clue [Fingerprint feature] (or something similar cluing the same entry), I want SWIRL instead of WHORL. I need a mnemonic. Maybe this: to determine who last pulled down the SWIRL handle on the frozen yogurt machine, you should check the handle for a WHORL. Well, there’s Exhibit A in Why I Don’t Write Mnemonics.

Favorite entry =  SAYS UNCLE. Favorite clue = [Co. that makes arrangements] for FTD.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 5/28/12 solution

This fill sparkles like a disco ball. (Subtle tribute to Donna Summer, right?) “I KNOW, RIGHT?” is a terrific 1-Across, though I would also have accepted the spelling “inorite?”. (And there’s also the abbreviation “ikr,” handy for texting and IM. Just learned that one from Deb Amlen, who has a teenage daughter.) EATS FOR TWO is great. I love DAN SAVAGE. I like “YER OUT!”, and “FAR FROM IT” is good colloquial speech. PAPER ROUTE is smooth and has a tricky clue, [Bee line?] (some newspapers, like Sacramento’s, are called the Bee). SKINNER BOX is great. The Downs offer BIG PAPI and “GET REAL!”

Favorite clues:

  • 16a. [House support?], CANE, as in the walking stick used by Hugh Laurie’s title character.
  • 45a. [Loses the faith?], DOUBTS.
  • 57a. [Capital whose original name was Bytown], OTTAWA. Geotrivia!
  • 12d. [Small crossword answer that has to be clued with a fill in the blank], PARTIAL. I much prefer the FITB approach to the “words before” or “words with” or “{x-y} filler” crutches.
  • 22d. [Crop cleaner?], SHAMPOO. So DRY SHAMPOO would be [Crop duster?] then.
  • 46d. [Where Jim Morrison died], BATHTUB.

Four stars, as short fill like TAK TOR TARO SERE is less irksome when the longer fill provides so many good moments in solving.

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27 Responses to Monday, 5/28/12

  1. Martin says:

    The “rubber baby buggy bumper” tongue twister is pretty much a classic tongue twister that’s been around for at least 50 years or more.


  2. janie says:

    well, “diff’rent strokes…” and all that. enjoyed this one *a lot*. to my ear, the theme and the theme phrases are very peppy, very fresh — and i gotta second your emotion about the strengths of those sevens in the nw and se. never saw the schwarzenegger movie, but certainly knew the TONGUE TWISTER (one of the benefits of my graduate work in theatre…..).

    and to tell the truth, on finishing this puzzle (which seemed appropriately clued for a monday), thought to myself that especially because of the payoff, this was just the kind of challenge a newbie would enjoy most.

    as i said… “diff’rent strokes”…


  3. pannonica says:

    I was obviously heavily influenced by that gaping hole in my tongue-twister knowledge.

  4. Jared says:

    Pannonica, until this write-up I thought you had made it your mission to include the phrase “ballast fill” in all your reviews. Now I’m disappointed.

  5. pannonica says:

    Jared: Light-ballast clipper review for a Monday? I’m sure I’ve jettisoned it on previous forays.

    Actually, I try to mix things up a bit in general, but it’s hard to vary the terms when the subject matter is so specific. Without becoming overly abstract, abstruse, or poetic.

  6. Jared says:

    Yes, stop being so poetic, please.

  7. pannonica says:

    Poetastric is the best I could hope for, on a good day.

  8. granbaer says:

    I grew up reciting “rubber baby buggy bumpers” so I loved this theme. Thought it was a step above the usual Monday puzzles. And after Sunday’s slog, a walk in the park.

  9. Martin says:

    My guess would be closer to 100 years than 50. It figured in an episode of The Monkees 45 years ago.

  10. Martin says:

    A citation from 1924.

  11. Gareth says:

    Never heard of the phrase, but still thought it a clever and a little off-beat Monday offering. In my opinion, the most fiendish of that genre of phrases is “red lorry, yellow lorry”. Also, now that we’ve seen TA(S), will we get TAMUCHLY?

  12. Bruce N. Morton says:


    I wish I hadn’t been in such an ill-humor last night. I should have been more explicit that I generally love your puzzles–you are one of the several constructors whose name I am most delighted to see when I open a puzzle. I guess it’s an unfortunate trait (which I probably share with other people) to become vociferous about the small minority of things I don’t like, rather than the vast majority to the contrary. Although I can’t take back the substance of my comment, that this one didn’t quite work for me, I do apologize for the manner in which I expressed it, and I look forward to your future puzzles, as always. I hope you will find this apology.

  13. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Upon reflection, I know an eskimo pie is an ice cream concoction, but I’ve never heard of a drumstick other than avian.

  14. Daniel Myers says:

    Love that word “poetastric,” pannonica.

  15. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Favorite tongue twisters:

    (This one is something more than a tongue twister–It’s almost impossible to elocute:

    The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick. (Pronounce “sheik” to rhyme with “eek”

    This next one, I used to offer a cash reward to anyone who could get it the first time at a “reasonable” pace, after two martinis. (“Leith” as I understand it is a district in Edinburgh). So we are briefly detained by the cops in Leith, but they decide that we didn’t do anything so bad so:

    The Leith police dismisseth us.

  16. Daniel Myers says:

    Ah Martin, I see you’ve discovered the utility of the Advanced Google Books Search in uncovering citations! The OED – Quelle Horreur! – doesn’t have one for poetrastric (though it does for poetrastical), so, I found this, validating pannonica:

    “Nabokov’s adult judgment of his adolescent verse is certainly correct; the poems are certainly more poetrastic than poetic.”

    From Vladamir Nabokov: Poetry and the Lyric Voice by Paul D. Morris (2011) p.13

    But I still don’t know how to do those nifty hyperlinks on a blogpost.

    Martin? pannonica?

    Or is it a secret of the guild? ;-)

  17. pannonica says:

    Morris, Paul D., Vladimir Nabokov: Poetry and the Lyric Voice (2011) – p. 13

    basic HTML fomat:
    <a href=””>link text</a>

  18. Martin says:


    You just enter the raw html. For a link, it’s an anchor tag. Everything from the first less-than character through the second greater-than.

  19. Daniel Myers says:

    Like this ?

  20. pannonica says:

    Voilà! (Sorry about the misleading example earlier, since rectified.)

  21. Daniel Myers says:

    Oh, quite alright pannonica! Excuse my demotic phraseology, but… Wow! Thanks so much pannonica and Martin! (TAS don’t quite express the EMOTION here.) I’m still dumbfounded at the wizardry of it all! If not quite an initiate, I’m at least now perhaps a journeyman html hyperlinker thanks to you two!!:-)

  22. john farmer says:

    Here is “rubber baby buggy bumpers” (lowercase, plural) in books over the years.

  23. Doug says:

    Bruce – No offense taken. I got a chuckle out of being termed a modern-day Maleska. :)

  24. Daniel Myers says:

    The deliciously arcane poetastric doesn’t fare so well I fear.

  25. Anoa Bob says:

    I’m a sheet slitter. I slit sheets. I’m the best darn sheet slitter that ever slit a sheet.

  26. Karen says:

    The LAT had KARENS and Cape Cod. Good enough for four stars from me.

  27. Andy says:

    Congrats to Kurt on having both the NYT and the LAT today, and for working two different papal Leos into them.

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