Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Title: They're in the Money
Author: Mark Feldman
Theme: Last names that are also world currency.
  • 17a: "The Face of the Ruling Class" artist (GEORGE GROSZ). I'm going to complain about this one on two fronts. First, who? Second, even if you happen to know that the Polish zloty is broken down into groszy, you're going to use a variant spelling to boot? Whatever.

  • 22a: Dancer with lots of fans at her performances? (SALLY RAND). The rand is from South Africa. Sally Rand was an actress/burlesque dancer from the 20s and 30s.

  • 36a: 2001 World series co-MVP (CURT SCHILLING). The schilling was once a unit of currency from Austria, as opposed to SHILLING, which was British. Curt has almost undoubtedly pitched his last for Boston, but the "bloody sock" game against the Yankees was a classic and he was instrumental in breaking the "curse" of the Red Sox.

  • 56a: "The Cantos" poet (EZRA POUND). You know what a pound is.

  • 61a: "The Italian Stallion" (ROCKY BALBOA). The balboa is from Panama, but what's a fictional character doing here with all the other real people? I guess I'll pretend George Grosz doesn't really exist... there, that's much better.

Cute idea, with some decent theme fill. But I think GEORGE GROSZ is a bit too obscure for a theme entry. SALLY RAND is borderline.

Sunny Spots:

This is the section where I write about the really cool non-theme fill and the standout clues that just make you smile.


  • 14a: Ring master (ALI). Sauron didn't fit.

  • 15a: "Starpeace" composer (ONO). I don't know why, but I was on totally the wrong wavelength here. I think I was trying to come up with ORFF, which of course wouldn't have fit, but since I couldn't come up with it I didn't realize I was off base.

  • 28a: Ancient follower of Mosaic law (ESSENE). I have no idea why I know this.

  • 29a: Babka morsel (RAISIN).

  • 31a: Cartoon character who says "Swiper, no swiping!" (DORA). The explorer, I assume. Never watched it.

  • 35a: Pickup game team (SKINS). Yeah, but only when it's all guys.

  • 43a: Spinoza book (ETHICS).

  • 45a: More meshuga (DAFTER).

  • 52a: (CCVI x V) + (VII x III) (MLI). Ok, Gordon, these are getting out of hand... :)

  • 55a: Caterer's heater (STERNO).

  • 60a: Band with the 2008 album "Accelerate" (REM).

  • 67a: Alternative to shrooms (LSD). More drug references by the New York Sun. Though shrooms seems a touch slangier to me than LSD.

  • 2d: Some tannery output (SUEDES).

  • 3d: Unemotional sorts (STOICS).

  • 4d: Eden costar (HAGMAN). They've both been in dozens of things besides "I Dream of Jeannie". Some roles follow you forever, right Neil Patrick Harris?

  • 5d: Sierra Nevada product (ALE). This one is a staple in my refrigerator.

  • 23d: Healing technique that's Japanese for "universal life energy" (REIKI).

  • 25d: Some M&M's (REDS). I guess one drug reference per puzzle is the limit.

  • 30d: Nonverbal way to communicate: Abbr. (ASL). American Sign Language.

  • 32d: Mo. of the Head of the Charles (OCT). I'm not even interested enough in what the Head of the Charles is to go look it up. If I had to guess, I'd say it had something to do with the Charles River in Boston. But I could be way off.

  • 36d: Nationals (CITIZENS).

  • 38d: Mrs. Gorbachev (RAISA).

  • 39d: "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" trio (TLC). I was going to link in the video to this, but it's so bad that I just can't bring myself to do it.

  • 40d: Tupperware pieces (LIDS). I guess one drug reference per puzzle is still the limit. You know, we must have at least fifty Tupperware (and variant) containers and at least that many lids, yet I swear only about a dozen actually match up. How does that happen?

  • 44d: Satiny (SMOOTH). The first two times I looked at this clue, I thought it said Sanity. My dyslexia is worse than I thought. Anyway, "Smooth" is also a great Santana song (with Rob Thomas, of Matchbox Twenty).

  • 48d: "High Rollers" host of the 1970s (TREBEK). Sure, he comes across as all smart and sophisticated on Jeopardy, but he's still a game show host, and they're not all highbrow.

  • 53d: Susan who filled in for vacationing Bernadette Peters in "Annie Get Your Gun" (LUCCI). Easy enough to guess with a couple of crossings..

  • 62d: "To Kill a Mockingbird" character Radley (BOO). Great book. Great movie. Kind of dull clue.

Suns of Bitches:
  • 16a: Penna. neighbor (WVA). Penna.? WTF?

  • 42a: "___ & Dean" (Oxygen reality show) (TORI). Never heard of it. Torvill and Dean? Sure. Tori Amos? Absolutely. Plural of TORUS? No problem.

  • 8d: V-Day creator Eve (ENSLER). Huh?

  • 9d: Exuding moisture (OOZY). Oozy? Yuck.

  • This section just killed me. Ok, granted, I should have figured out ONO sooner, and that would have helped, but this little area at the end of GROSZ was, well, gross.

What can I say? The theme was just okay, I'm not crazy about puzzles that start and end with multiple rows of three-letter words, and the non-theme fill had no real sparkle. Throw in that SOB section in and around 8d and you end up with kind of a clunker. Didn't care for it.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Orange said...

Grosz is singular, groszy is plural. Hey, you're lucky the crossings are OK and don't include an oddball name you've never heard of.

Mr. X said...


My wife is from that state, and the first time I saw that on road signs I thought WTF? I guess they hold the record for longest "standard" abbreviation for a state's name.

Joon said...

eve ENSLER is actually rather a big name. she wrote the vagina monologues. i don't know what V-day is all about, but maybe it's vagina day. but i agree that OOZY is yucky. many of the theme answers threw me, too. the only ones that were totally recognizable as currencies were POUND and RAND (and the only reason i've even heard of sally RAND is that i was trying to clue RAND in a late-week themeless a while back). SCHILLING has that extra C, and i just plain Did Not Know GROSZ. BALBOA sounds at least 10% familiar, and it makes some sense (keats notwithstanding), but i sure don't look at BALBOA and think "currency."

i was definitely happy to see mr. pencil when i filled in the last letter. this was a tough slog.

janie said...

>"...we must have at least fifty Tupperware (and variant) containers and at least that many lids, yet I swear only about a dozen actually match up. How does that happen?"

the same way dryers seem to eat ONE sock and leave ya mismatches. go figger!



Austin said...

Ouch. Could not figure out much around the stack of GROSZ and SALLY.

I was trying to think of a name of a Japanese dancer who uses those fold out fans in the dance. Obv, that was completely wrong.

That's the worst I've done on a Wednesday in a long while.

Anonymous said...

Agreed on the Roman numeral math. I enjoy math, but I've stopped doing those on principle - I just go for the crossings and know there's a limited choice of letters.

Austin- I was thinking about the fan dancers too. Guess my mind just wasn't into burlesque.

Joon said...

the roman numeral math seems like peter gordon's way of thumbing his nose at speed-solvers. these things aren't hard to work out, at all (today's is 206x5 + 3x7 = 1030+21 = 1051 = MLI), but they're definitely not as fast as getting the crossings for some of us. on a super-tough puzzle where i couldn't get the crossings, i would definitely stop and work it out.

mellocat said...

Scotch eggs, dessert with a dollop, babka. I'm sensing (or imagining) a new theme in the pix. Yum (though I'm not sure about the eggs). Hmm, maybe it's time for some dessert before bed....

embien said...

@orange: "Hey, you're lucky the crossings are OK and don't include an oddball name you've never heard of."

I am not sure if this is a serious comment or not.

Perhaps if you're Orange, the crossings are OK. For me, not so much. ENSLER may be known in some circles, but I'm not a member of them. Never heard of that ONO piece (or is it a painting? Who knows?)