THEME: "Of all the...!" — Four familiar phrases begin with a word meaning gall or presumptuousness.
Day Four of this new enterprise and you haven't run for the hills yet. So far I'm having a blast and I really appreciate you all hanging out with us over here! So let's get right to it.
Crosswordese 101: I think I'm gonna have to go with UMA Thurman for today. In a lot of early-week puzzles, an UMA clue will give you her last name making her pretty easy to figure out. Later in the week, it helps to know some of the movies she's been in: "Gattaca," "Kill Bill," "The Avengers," "Dangerous Liaisons," and "Pulp Fiction" are the most popular. I didn't realize until today that she was in "The Producers." It also helps to know that she was married to Ethan Hawke at one time. And you want to be sure you don't get her confused with UTA Hagen, a Tony award–winning actress and acting teacher who is sometimes clued as the author of Respect for Acting or A Challenge for the Actor. Hagen also appeared on the soap opera "One Life to Live" and, at one time, apparently had an affair with Paul Robeson. That doesn't usually come up in the puzzle though.
- 21A: Operational headquarters (nerve center)
- 26A: Classy office door adornment (brass nameplate)
- 46A: 2006 political best-seller, with "The" (Audacity of Hope)
- 52A: Beside one another (cheek by jowl)
Before we get to the rest of the puzzle, I think we're going to have to spend a few moments on 30D: Punish with a fine — MULCT. Seriously? Mulct? Who has ever heard that word? It gets 263,000 Google hits and the first several pages of results consists of dictionary sites. Not a good sign. It means, well ... it means "punish with a fine," so I guess I can't really argue with the clue but ... mulct?? I don't know what else to say.
- 15A: Decisive refusal (never) — I had the "N" and entered no way, which slowed things down for me quite a bit in this section.
- 19A: _____ dixit (ipse) — Another Latin phrase to add to your list. I'm sure PuzzleMom will be along shortly to tell us what it means.
- 38A: Ma for one (cellist) — Yo-Yo Ma. Loved him on "The West Wing."
- 41A: Rx writers (MDs) — The abbreviation in the clue indicates that the answer will also be an abbreviation. In this case, it could be either MDs or DRs so I waited for the crosses.
- 44A: "Proud Mary" band, for short (CCR) — Creedence Clearwater Revival. And sometimes they just come right out and tell you the answer will be an abbreviation. Here's another version of this great song.
- 45A: Pond problem (scum) — Ewwwwww.
- 51A: Corp. that once owned Hertz and Hilton (UAL) — And the abbreviation in the clue means .... ? The answer will be an abbreviation too. Yes! You're getting the hang of it now! UAL Corporation is an airline holding company that was incorporated as part of a reorganization of United Airlines. The corporation owned Hilton and Hertz for about five years in the 1980s.
- 63A: Irish Free State successor (Éire) — Ireland was called "The Irish Free State" (or, in Irish, "Saorstát Éireann") until 1937. Since 1937, Ireland has had two "official" languages — English and Irish — so the two official names of the state are Ireland and Éire. Another name for Ireland you want to remember is Erin, which is a common poetic name. If you want to read a little more about this to help cement it in your mind, go here.
- 64A: Prefix with tasse (demi) — For some reason I can never remember if this word has to do with coffee or bras. ... Oh, I see. Demi is French for half. A demitasse is a small cup used to serve espresso, and a demi bra is a half-cup bra style with wide-set straps. Alrighty then. Mystery solved.
- 68A: "Roots" Emmy winner (Asner) — Yeah, Ed Asner. Lou Grant. Same guy.
- 1D: "I Kid You Not" author (Paar) — Jack Paar, the original host of "The Tonight Show." I can Never remember if his name is spelled Paar or Parr and usually wait for crosses. "I kid you not" was a catchphrase of Paar's. Did Johnny Carson use it as well? I think I can hear Carson saying it and I don't believe I've ever even seen Jack Paar.
- 4D: Little butter? (kid) — Ooh, penalty flag! I just noticed that the word kid is in both a clue and an answer. We're going to need a ruling from Orange. Raise your hand if you initially entered pat for this one. I thought so. Me too. But the question mark indicates that we need to look at these words in a non-obvious way. So, instead of remembering what you put on your toast this morning, you realize that butt can be a verb and think of an animal known for butting. That would be a goat. And a little goat is a ... KID. See how that works?
- 7D: Tel _____-Yafo (Aviv) — I have no idea what this means. Hold on .... According to Wikipedia, "In April 1949, Tel Aviv and Jaffa were united in the single municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo...." It's true: you learn something new Every. Single. Day.
- 12D: _____-majesty (lese) — In French, lèse-majesté. A crime against a sovereign power (such as treason).
- 24D: Submissions to eds. (MSs) — MS is the abbreviation for manuscript, which is something you might submit to an ed(itor).
- 28D: "Illmatic" rapper (Nas) — We talked about Ice-T and Dr. Dre a couple days ago. Add Nas to that list. He turns up occasionally and "Illmatic" is the name of his debut album.
- 38D: Louisiana Territory explorer (Clark) — Showing once again my complete ignorance of American history, I was thinking LaSalle? DeSoto? No idea. It's unfair to put Clark in there without Lewis!
- 40D: Sellout initials (SRO) — Standing Room Only.
- 52D: Musical conclusion (coda) — Not sure why, but I love this word.
- 60D: Jared of "American Psycho" (Leto) — I've seen this guy's name in the puzzle before but don't know who he is, so I went to look for a picture. I think he looks like John Stamos but I'll let you judge for yourself.
- 63D: It sometimes needs a boost (ego) — A lot of times when you see a clue about a boost, a stroke, or a trip, you should be thinking EGO.
Everything Else — 1A: Alp top (PEAK); 5A: Sounding shocked (AGASP); 10A: Looking shocked (PALE); 14A: A8 manufacturer (AUDI); 16A: Double-click, maybe (OPEN); 17A: In need of irrigation (ARID); 18A: Lacking skepticism (NAIVE); 19A: __ dixit (IPSE); 20A: Ocean delicacy (ROE); 25A: Estrangement (RIFT); 33A: Lends a hand (AIDS); 34A: "It's so __!" (YOU); 35A: Make up (for) (ATONE); 37A: Clavell's "__-Pan" (TAI); 42A: 1943 penny metal (STEEL); 50A: __ school (GRAD); 58A: E-mail cackle (LOL); 61A: Masseur's stock (OILS); 62A: Stag (ALONE); 65A: Andes herd animal (LLAMA); 66A: Pesky biter (GNAT); 67A: Part of WNBA: Abbr. (ASSN); 69A: Capital south of Lillehammer (OSLO); 2D: 100 cents (EURO); 3D: Part of "The Sound of Music" farewell song (ADIEUADIEU); 5D: Author Rice (ANNE); 6D: Transmission component (GEAR); 8D: Harsh (SEVERE); 9D: Rain, briefly (PRECIP); 10D: Indicate (POINTAT); 11D: PDA entry (APPT); 13D: Fed. power dept. (ENER); 22D: Key of Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 (EFLAT); 26D: Upside-down sleepers (BATS); 27D: It's twirled in a rodeo (RIATA); 28D: PBS's science guy (NYE); 29D: IM offerer (AOL); 31D: Gin cocktail (TOMCOLLINS); 32D: Become, finally (ENDUP); 36D: Salinger dedicatee (ESME); 39D: Needing salt, perhaps (ICY); 43D: Enters stealthily (EDGESIN); 45D: '50s oldies syllable (SHA); 47D: Secret doctrine (CABALA); 48D: Tennyson works (IDYLLS); 49D: Eye or ear ending (FUL); 53D: Hurries (HIES); 54D: Street liners (ELMS); 55D: Rocker Jett (JOAN); 56D: "My treat" (ONME); 57D: Deterioration (WEAR); 59D: Like the Sabin vaccine (ORAL).