7.22.2009

WEDNESDAY, July 22, 2009—Timothy L. Meaker



THEME: "How's About a Crazy Sandwich?"—Three phrases begin with words that can precede SANDWICH, but they might not all be familiar to you

This theme really threw me. The puzzle was easy enough, sure, and the SANDWICH clue, 70A: Lunch order that can follow the starts of 1-, 35- and 43-Across, was crystal clear. But the sandwiches! They hit my sweet spot a mere one third of the time.

Theme answers:
  • 1A: Bar mixer (CLUB SODA). We all know what a club sandwich is, right? Some sort of lunchmeat, maybe turkey, plus bacon, lettuce, and tomato on toast? Cut into cute little triangles?
  • 35A: Jerusalem prayer site (WESTERN WALL). Neither PuzzleGirl nor I had ever heard of the Western sandwich. Professor Google tells me that first of all, a Denver omelet and a Western omelet are pretty much the same thing, and a Denver sandwich or a Western sandwich is that omelet smacked between a couple slices of toast. Ham, green peppers, and onions mixed into the eggs, if I recall correctly. I can't say I've ever seen this concoction on a diner menu in the Midwest.
  • 43A: Unrestricted trading areas (OPEN MARKETS). OPEN MARKETS doesn't feel like a Monday-friendly entry, which helps account for why this is a Wednesday crossword. I hit the skids here, too, as I call 'em open-faced sandwiches rather than open sandwiches.


So that was a weird experience, finding two thirds of the theme entries to evoke jarringly unfamiliar entities. How awesome would it have been to have DAGWOOD BUMSTEAD as a theme entry relating to his famous skyscraper-height sandwiches?

Crosswordese 101: POLA!. Actresses who were big in the silent-movie era remain famous in crosswords thanks to nobody with the same name coming along later to eclipse their fame. Today, 37A: Negri of silents clues POLA. She was Polish (that's not her real name), and her accent was not a hit with audiences when talkies began, but before her fame waned, She dated Rudolph Valentino. In the Cruciverb.com database, every single clue for POLA includes the last name Negri, and the accompanying key words silent, film, and actress/star usually figure in somewhere too.

And now, a smattering of clues and their answers:
  • 15A: Tangy dessert (LEMON PIE). I don't care for lemon desserts, frankly. Is LEMON PIE as common as lemon meringue pie?
  • 17A: Sets free (UNLOOSES). UNLOOSES is a crazy word in that if you remove the UN- prefix...it still means the same thing.
  • 18A: In the prior month (ULTIMO). I know this word from crosswords, but I haven't seen it used in the wild.
  • 44D: Like Mr. America (MUSCLED). I think somebody's been hitting the steroids too much.
  • 41A: Pelota catcher (CESTA). Jai alai! The ball thingamabob is the pelota, and the basket/racket catcher doodad is the CESTA. I hope you paid attention on July 7 when ALAI was the crosswordese of the day—the CESTA and pelota were mentioned in the comments by Charlie and Jet City Gambler. Thank them if that's how you learned CESTA!
  • 59A: Community west of Montebello, Calif. (EAST L.A.). I've never heard of Montebello, but I'll bet the folks who buy the L.A. Times have.
  • 69A: Groups of eight (OCTADS). In crosswords, it's rarely safe to plunk down OCTET. Work the crossings to see if OCTET or OCTAD will fit.
  • 3D: Düsseldorf feature? (UMLAUT). The umlaut is the two-dots mark that can appear above a, o, and u in German.
  • 10D: 1977 Bronson/Remick mind-control thriller (TELEFON). Speaking of German, TELEFON is the German word for "telephone." I don't remember the movie at all. This trailer features shootings, explosions, car chases, and throttling—no wonder my parents didn't take me to it when I was 11:



  • Everything Else — 9A: Long pace (STRIDE); 16A: Deceive (LEAD ON); 19A: Precisely (TO A T); 20A: Shrek, for one (OGRE); 22A: Beat overwhelmingly (CRUSH); 24A: Taxing mo.? (APR.); 25A: Title role for 13-Down (FATSO); 30A: Riled (up) (HET); 31A: Has much too much, briefly (ODS); 33A: Self-centered types (EGOISTS); 42A: Buck tail? (-AROO); 46A: Le Car maker (RENAULT); 47A: "Michael Collins" actor (REA); 48A: Spaniards roll theirs (ARS); 51A: Easy gaits (TROTS); 52A: UFO pilots, in theory (ETS); 54A: Discover with effort (DIG UP); 56A: Wild West showman (CODY); 58A: Edge (out) (NOSE); 63A: Unwavering (RESOLUTE); 67A: Bureau compartment (DRAWER); 68A: Like much of Rossini's work (OPERATIC); 1D: Shifting mechanism (CLUTCH); 2D: Lost love in "The Raven" (LENORE); 4D: Cowboy's footwear (BOOTS); 5D: __-cone (SNO); 6D: Brief photo sessions? (OPS); 7D: Craps cube (DIE); 8D: Man of many morals (AESOP); 9D: Disparaging remark (SLUR); 11D: Stoolie (RAT); 12D: First name in tyranny (IDI); 13D: Actor DeLuise (DOM); 14D: Rock producer Brian (ENO); 21D: Hosts, at times (GREETERS); 23D: "And __!": "Absolutely!" (HOW); 24D: Said positively (ASSERTED); 26D: Former Sanyo competitor (AIWA); 27D: Russian despot (TSAR); 28D: WWII French battle site (ST. LO); 29D: Nobel Peace Prize city (OSLO); 32D: Window sticker (DECAL); 34D: Prepare Parmesan (GRATE); 36D: "Mustn't do that" ("TSK!"); 37D: Computer connection (PORT); 38D: Letters near zero? (OPER); 39D: O'Brien's predecessor (LENO); 40D: Med school subj. (ANAT.); 45D: Melancholy (SAD); 48D: Rabbitlike rodent (AGOUTI); 49D: Backwoodsy (RUSTIC); 50D: Soapbox output (SPEECH); 53D: Greenhorns (TYROS); 55D: Marriage acquisition (IN-LAW); 57D: Propellers on ponds (OARS); 59D: Tokyo, once (EDO); 60D: Pendulum path (ARC); 61D: Met (SAT); 62D: Defunct flier (TWA); 64D: AQI user (EPA); 65D: One of a D.C. 100 (SEN.); 66D: Former Monterey Bay fort (ORD).

45 comments:

Sandy said...

I did not like the theme answers. For too long I was wondering what a free sandwich was, and, like you and PG, never heard of a western sandwich. Overall I found it oddly thorny and for a Weds.

KJGooster said...

I've heard of the WESTERN OPEN (now the BMW Championship), where one might swing a golf CLUB, but I've never seen a WESTERN sandwich, OPEN or not.

Carol said...

Western sandwich is a new one for me and I've lived in various parts of California for many years as well as travelling in other western states.

Also, do many people say "muscled" rather than "muscular" as an adjective?

John said...

Telefon was a pretty good movie as I recall.

Im with you on the OPEN-FACED csandwiches. Mabye its (OPEN SANDWICH) served at the U.S.OPEN.

Dont know what a western sandwich is. when I was Out west as a kid I was into turkey sandwiches.

Eric said...

Agree with all. I have lived in Denver and Des Moines and traveled extensively around the Midwest and West but never ever ran into a Western sandwich.

Denise said...

I believe that CESTA and PELOTA are just the Spanish words for basket and ball -- so, they are not always related to Jai-alai.

I sailed through and then got really stuck at the bottom right. I could do nothing right.

Then it sorted itself out, and I am off to enjoy my Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

Pamela says:

I just want to say that I enjoy each and every day doing these puzzles and seeing what the theme is and giving my answers accordingly. I have much fun with them. Also enjoy all the remarks made in the answers below.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone else out there who remembers the western sandwich? A scrambled egg sandwich with vegetables (I don't think I ever had one), always on menu's in diners, luncheonettes, and drugstore/soda fountains in the mid-atlantic states in the 40's, 50's, and 60's. I have no idea why it was called a western. An easy puzzle, but I feel like an idiot. I got the answer to 19a toat but only learned from your explaination that it was to a t.

SethG said...

There's an East Sandwich, too. Also, lead, Fat, and lemon. All kinds of sandwich info here, including the Western and the St Paul, which is not from St Paul and sounds disgusting. (Though Playboy named it one of America's best sandwiches, link not included.)

The central lines here, AESOP TSK TYROS and POLA CESTA AROO, are as ugly as ugly gets.

gjelizabeth said...

Anonymous@7:15am Thanks for the mid-Atlantic connection. Maybe it's an East Coast thing. I'm a native Californian who's eaten a hen-houseful of Western and Denver Omelets but have never, ever seen a Western Sandwich on a menu out here. Ditto for the OPEN sandwich question. I miss, oh how I miss, the little Swedish open-FACED sandwiches at the long gone Konditori Restaurant on Lake in Pasadena. I started with OPENMARKET but changed it to FREEMARKET as the more elegant and obvious choice. Oh, well. Have never encountered ULTIMO.

Crosscan said...

I've heard of WESTERN SANDWICH but never LEMON PIE without the MERINGUE. I thought the theme was turning into non-kosher foods, with all the bacon and ham.

shrub5 said...

AGOUTI was new to me -- will have to store it away in my Unusual Rodentia file.

I just have one word to say about that MUSCLED pic: EEEWWW......well, one more: freak.

Rex Parker said...

Born and raised out west, and only ever heard of the omelet. Sparse theme with odd answers made this one less than great for me. I did love the retro movie stuff, though (DOM/FATSO and TELEFON and "Born in EAST L.A.). I think of both ULTIMO and AGOUTI as 6-ltr xwordese. My Xwordese 101 word, however, would've been CESTA.

rp

Anonymous said...

You all know that they wouldn't call it a western sandwich out west, right? Chinese people don't call their food Chinese food. It's only in the east that they would call it a western sandwich. Out west they call it a "You're not really going to eat that, are you?" sandwich.

I will grugingly admit that OPENMARKETS is a thing, but it is not an area, as it was clued.

Anonymous said...

Still don't understand the connection between MET and SAT.

Anonymous said...

Eating in a diner years ago in Maryland, I asked my Gramps why they called the sandwich he had ordered a WESTERN. He said that out on the range the cook would add ham, onions, and peppers to the left over scrambled eggs, put that between slices of bread, and the cowboys would have their lunch as they rode out to herd their cattle. It probably isn't true, but was a great story to tell a 9 year old. Thanks Tim for stirring up that memory.

Crosscan said...

The board of directors MET last Tuesday.

The board of directors SAT last Tuesday.

*David* said...

Plenty of so-so fill, the one that bothered me the most was the TOAT or TO A T. If a letter is used in xwords it typically is spelled out as in TEE. Hardest cross was FATSO/TELEFON but I figured talking about DOM it defintiely wasn't RATSO. :)

Anonymous said...

Unlooses is one of the worst clunkers I've seen in quite some time. Too much mediocre fill in this one for my liking, and the theme answers didn't help the cause either.

Anonymous said...

If MET-SAT means MET(with), SAT(down with), it is the worst clue in the puzzle. Am I wrong and does it mean something else? I spent too much time using WAILING WALL instead of WESTERN WALL.

Orange said...

@Anon 8:43, like Crosscan said, "The committee met last week" = "The committee sat last week." It's one of the lesser-known definitions of "sit": "(of a legislature, committee, court of law, etc.) be engaged in business."

@Anon 8:33: I'll agree that UNLOOSES is the sort of word we don't often (or ever) hear, but it is in the dictionary.

@Carol, I'd go with "well-muscled" or "muscular" rather than "muscled," personally. Dictionary tells me "muscled" is used in combinations to make adjectives, so perhaps a better clue would've been [Well-___].

CartBoy said...

Pretty much hated this one. Let me count the ways - unlooses (huh?), toat (tee?), sat/met (saw?) which makes octads (?) ocwads and the entire SE quadrant because I missed the present tense in the clue and went with "resolved" and got stuck. Oh, well, on to the harder puzzles starting tomorrow...

Anonymous said...

If you have never seen FATSO you have missed one of the funniest scenes ever in the movies. All hell breaks out when Foods Anonymous sponsors show up to keep Dom DeLuise on his diet. In my family, we still quote some of the dialogue. Produced (and I think written) by Mel Brooks with Anne Bancroft as the sister, it is a classic!

Anonymous said...

I'm drawing a blank on "Letters near zero?" : OPER. Could someone enlighten me?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:16 - Think OPERator and the zero on the telephone. You know, those old fashioned things prior to cell phones.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:16 - Think OPERator and the zero on the telephone. You know, those old fashioned things prior to cell phones.

Anonymous said...

@Orange, I get MET in session, SAT in session, but I still don't like it.

Orange said...

@Anon 9:20, I fear your dispute is with the dictionary, with the English language itself.

OhioGeek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OhioGeek said...

Sadly I couldn't come up with FATSO, and thus poor Dom ended up starring as Ratso... I was excited to see RENAULT in the puzzle today! My family owned a number of Renaults during my childhood, at least one of them a LeCar. We always thought that name was funny, because my maiden name was LeVan, and we wanted Renault to make one of those just for us. Muscular is my preferred word - took me a while to work that out. Never heard of AGOUTI, probably won't remember it next time. And, a quibble - I'm tired of "Buck Tail" = AROO clues, along the lines of "Pay Ender" = OLA and the like. Not my thang. Thanks Orange for the enlightening write-up!

Anonymous said...

I didn't understand to a t until I read David's comment.

I couldn't figure out the city west of Montebello until I realized that I needed an abbreviation. I had to look up cesta also.

Crosscan said...

First Draft movie lines:

Dom Deluise as Ratso: I'm wokking here!I'm wokking here!

Joon said...

rATSO/TELErON for me, too. who's FATSO? what's that from? it turns out i don't know anything about DOM deluise other than his name. from this puzzle, i infer that he must be an actor.

the theme was, quite frankly, bizarre. aren't there lots of different words that describe sandwiches? what are these? WESTERN? OPEN? i just don't get it. it might as well have been a WAILING sandwich.

on the other hand, i like the word UNLOOSES. it's so ... old-school.

mac said...

The hardest area for me was the Telefon/Fatso/Aiwa area, specifically the f and the a.

Agree with Orange's comment about the sandwiches; I like open-faced ones myself. Talking about food (as we so often are): I would say lemon tart for the thin lemon one, but last Saturday I tasted some delicious lemon-almond pie.

Unlooses is ugly!

chefwen said...

That purple thing in Dagwood's sandwich looks like a gecko.

Easy puzzle with the acception of AGOUTI and I also had wailing wall in for far too long.

Dom DeLuise - veeerry funny guy.

Gary Lowe said...

I wonder if 'unloose' worked its way into the language by people meaning to say 'unleash'.

First draft of a Loverboy song: "why don't you turn me unloose, turn me unloose ... I gotta do it my way ..."

The thing about a sandwich theme is, at the end of the day, you've got sandwiches - boring enough - but of the 3, the only one you can taste is the club.

I think KNUCKLE, BARLEY and EARLOF are more interesting, tasteless sandwiches.

chefbea said...

sure getting sated today with all this food.

Never heard of ultimo or a western sandwich.

Love Lemon tarts more so than lemon mirange pies

My mother always had a bar of lava soap for my brother who loved to play with messy oily things

Jimmie said...

I had RRS for the Spanish roll until I smelled a rat with the first letter of AGOUSTI

sfingi said...

Goofy xword, good comments!
Very funny images: @Anon@Gary@OhioGeek
Dom Deluise as Ratso.
Knuckle sandwich - (for a glass jaw)

A western sandwich is like "New York Pizza" in IA. You wonder what it's going to be, but decide not to try it.

Also had: Wailing Wall for a long time;
We're all muscled. Some overly.

"He hath (un)loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword." One of those words whose opposite means the same, like flammable?

Often said by sailors: ars

eileen said...

I just never got into the groove today (sorry Madonna). The theme was awkward and, let's face it, UNLOOSES, just isn't right. Oh well, I enjoyed Orange's blog and all of the comments as they really help me learn more!

@rex: Why just tee shirts, how about coffee mugs? Pens/pencils? Even Visors! You could start a profitable cottage industry!

@chefbea: What a small world! If you ever visit your brother in Chatauqua perhaps we could meet up and try our best at a NY Times xword but you would really have to help me alot. As a newbie I'm learning the LA Times but NY Times, well, not so much.

switters said...

Awful, awful puzzle. So I'll just say this. UNLOOSES? UNLOOSES?!? What's next: IRREGARDLESS?

chefbea said...

@eileen e-mail me and we can discuss chataqua

eileen said...

@chefbea: I'll contact you tomorrmow after I get the kids off to camp.

@switters: I'm with you! Irregardless may be next, followed with more texting abbreviations which I can't stand but many tolerate.

Anonymous said...

The Western Wall is also known as the Wailing Wall. Both have 7 letters and that threw me for a few.

Mmmm. Wailing Sandwich.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I also got into trouble with writing "wailing wall" for "western wall." Nice to know at least ONE other person did the same!