9.04.2009

FRIDAY, Sep. 4, 2009 — Barry C. Silk


THEME: What's that noise? — HUM is added to the beginning of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style.

I should not be able to do a Barry Silk Friday puzzle in under five minutes. Well under five minutes. I would love it if we could jack up the late-week difficulty a tad now. Syndicated solvers should have had time to acclimate to the editorial style of the LAT by now. Time to open up the deep end of the pool again. Clever theme from Mr. Silk, though probably more appropriate to a Wednesday-level puzzle. Once you figure out the theme, those remaining theme answers are really easy to get. I had HUMV- in place before seeing the clue, so I knew it had to go HUMVEE ... and then the "?" told me something wacky was going on, and the first word I could think of to follow VEE was FORMATION. And it fit. Done. Backed into the next theme answer. With -NGVASE in place I knew it had to be HUMMINGVASE. And so on. Stumpers today included HCH (29A: FDR predecessor) — as of right now, I have no idea what the "C" in Hoover's name stands for (it's Clark)— and, for no good reason, PUCKS (5A: Sports disks that can reach speeds of more than 100 miles per hour after being struck), which took me longer than any other answer to get. Last thing in the grid. Had -U-KS and couldn't make any sense of it. [After being struck] feels redundant. I think it's safe to assume that a disk involved in a sport is not self-propelled.



Theme answers:

  • 17A: Military vehicle arrangement? (HUMVEE FORMATION)
  • 24A: Flower holder that carries a tune? (HUMMING VASE)
  • 43A: Ordinary dinner bread? (HUMDRUM ROLL) — rough, as meaning of ROLL shifts here (as it does not shift for VASE or FORMATION or REPLLENT)
  • 56A: Chemical that keeps the baloney out? (HUMBUG REPELLENT)
Lots of cool, jaunty little two-word phrases in this one, including PIE TIN (5D: Bakery container), UP NEXT (45D: On deck), U.S. FLAG (6D: Old Glory), and MIX IN (26D: Add to the concoction). I had some concoction last night where the bartender took Maker's Mark and then MIXed IN ... I forget. Bitters? A cherry? It all came in a martini glass and was mmm mmm good. Daughter had milk on the rocks. We made quite a sophisticated pair. We then proceeded to talk about Greek mythology ad nauseam — she is really into the Percy Jackson books, and by "is really into" I mean "walks around reading," "falls asleep reading," "won't put down," etc.

Crosswordese 101: SKYE (63A: Terrier type) — SKYE is also an island off the northwest coast of Scotland, "... the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland." Also the last name of actress IONE SKYE. I believe the IONE/IONA distinction has been covered in another Crosswordese 101 write-up. The IOLA/IOLE distinction will have to wait for another day.

What else?:

  • 35A: 45 years after William I invaded England (MCXI) — FAIL clue.
  • 60A: Alamo first name (Davy) — Who knew DAVY Jones was at the Alamo?



  • 41D: Title hero in a 1951 opera commissioned for television (Amahl) — possibly the subject of a future Crosswordese 101 segment. "AMAHL and the Night Visitors" is the name of this TV opera, composed by GIAN CARLO MENOTTI.

See you Monday,

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Langley et al.: Abbr. (AFBS); 5A: Sports disks that can reach speeds of more than 100 miles per hour after being struck (PUCKS); 10A: Steinbeck hero Tom (JOAD); 14A: Hint (CLUE); 15A: R&B family name (ISLEY); 16A: Magazine name that's also a pronoun (ELLE); 17A: Military vehicle arrangement? (HUMVEE FORMATION); 20A: How pros do things (EXPERTLY); 21A: "(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance" singer (PITNEY); 22A: Through (VIA); 23A: Sacred (HOLY); 24A: Flower holder that carries a tune? (HUMMING VASE); 29A: FDR predecessor (HCH); 32A: __ rings (ONION); 33A: During (AMID); 34A: Revelatory, as a moment (AHA); 35A: 45 years after William I invaded England (MCXI); 36A: Mexican eatery staple (SALSA); 38A: One of the Four Corners states: Abbr. (ARIZ.); 39A: Biblical judge (ELI); 40A: Draped attire (SARI); 41A: Jobs creation (APPLE); 42A: Craving (YEN); 43A: Ordinary dinner bread? (HUMDRUM ROLL); 46A: Low pitch (BASS); 47A: MPG rating group (EPA); 48A: City with a University of Washington campus (TACOMA); 51A: Street entrances (MANHOLES); 56A: Chemical that keeps the baloney out? (HUMBUG REPELLENT); 58A: Get from __: advance slightly (A TO B); 59A: English county bordering Suffolk (ESSEX); 60A: Alamo first name (DAVY); 61A: He sings "Maria" in "West Side Story" (TONY); 62A: Get going (START); 63A: Terrier type (SKYE); 1D: Pang (ACHE); 2D: Continuous change (FLUX); 3D: Speed __ (BUMP); 4D: Golf's Ballesteros (SEVE); 5D: Bakery container (PIE TIN); 6D: Old Glory (US FLAG); 7D: Sate (CLOY); 8D: Plop lead-in (KER-); 9D: Academic conferences (SYMPOSIA); 10D: Breakwater (JETTY); 11D: Lena of "Havana" (OLIN); 12D: Soothing skin treatment (ALOE); 13D: Opposite of grant (DENY); 18D: Watergate senator Sam (ERVIN); 19D: Didn't feel well (AILED); 23D: Canned meats (HAMS); 24D: Warm and comfy (HOMEY); 25D: Family reunion attendee (UNCLE); 26D: Add to the concoction (MIX IN); 27D: French pronoun (MOI); 28D: Logically sound (VALID); 29D: Silent film star? (HARPO); 30D: Relax, slangily (CHILL); 31D: Eye shade (HAZEL); 36D: Kielbasas, e.g. (SAUSAGES); 37D: Pentagon topic (ARMS); 38D: Auto loan letters (APR); 40D: SeaWorld favorite (SHAMU); 41D: Title hero in a 1951 opera commissioned for television (AMAHL); 44D: Grim figure? (REAPER); 45D: On deck (UP NEXT); 46D: Ewing whose ex-wife dreamt an entire season of "Dallas" (BOBBY); 48D: "Imagine __!" (THAT); 49D: Monte Carlo, e.g. (AUTO); 50D: "Let's go!" ("C'MON!"); 51D: Monument Valley sight (MESA); 52D: Cutlass automaker (OLDS); 53D: Security problem (LEAK); 54D: It's a sin (ENVY); 55D: Eye sore (STYE); 57D: 18, 19 and 20 in a series (RST).

45 comments:

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

This was a HUMDINGER of a puzzle. Nicely clued and lots of good scrabbly words. I usually enjoy Barry Silk’s puzzles anyway.

I’ve often wanted to ask this question---
Orange, Puzzlegirl, and Rex: Who are your top three constructors?

Well this morning I went to Mother’s Restaurant and I ordered a Denver Omelet… yums! But, I actually finished this puzzle before the omelet got to my table.

The new-word-of-the-day for me is AMAHL (41d). I never heard of this TV opera before.

HCH (29a), who knew that Clark was Herbert Hoover’s middle name? You hardly ever see Hoover’s initials in a CW.

I always thought the clue should reflect that the entry is an abbreviation. Why isn't U.S. Flag so indicated?

Thought grim REAPER (44d) was pretty cool, but then at my age that’s not something I like to think much about. I guess I’ll just keep thinking about BOLERO and Bo Derek.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@Rex
I think the Alamo clue was referring to Davy Crockett and not Davy Jones.

mac said...

I liked this puzzle a lot, but then I usually like Barry Silk's puzzles. Loved the clues "Jobs creation" and "revelatory, as a moment".

@JOHNSNEVERHOME: great name for the restaurant. I had a friend in Boise, Idaho whose cleaning service was called Mom.

Anonymous said...

@ JOHNSNEVERHOME, I think Rex was making a joke about Davy Jones. :-)
There was no abbr. added to the Old Glory clue because it's Friday.

Rex, the puzzles are still pitched to those who thought it was too hard at first. There are really no other decent puzzles at this medium level out there, are there.

Conglo

Orange said...

@JOHN, there are many constructors whose work I admire and enjoy. My personal preferences are for themeless puzzles and for twisty clues that make me think twice (or three times) about what the words mean. So three that come to mind are:

Byron Walden. Most of his NYT (and, back in the day, NY Sun) puzzles have been tough Saturday-grade puzzles with smartly playful clues. I'm less fond of his every-8-weeks Onion A.V. Club puzzles, but some of those are stupendous. If you've got Across Lite, go download the September 2 puzzle here and do it now. Or join the Google Group here to download it in printable Microsoft Word.

Karen Tracey. Karen's themeless marvels appear in both the LAT and the NYT (as well as in the Sun, before it closed up). I love the freshness of her fill. She gets some flak for including a lot of names (people and places) in her grids, but I love that stuff.

Bob Klahn. He's the king of the gnarly, flexible-thinking-required clue. He's a regular at CrosSynergy/Washington Post (mostly themed, some themeless) and occasionally has a Saturday NYT puzzle. Bob's got a book of his crosswords coming out this winter.

I have some guesses about who PuzzleGirl and Rex will list...

*David* said...

A moderate level puzzle for a Friday. I saw Silk and I thought we were in for a HUMdinger of a time but instead it was only Ho-HUM. I am in agreement we need the Friday/Saturday to notch up a bit in difficulty. The only place that I slowed down was with PUCK/CLOY (I think of annoyingly attached to not sate) and that long odd clue for PUCK threw me off. Otherwise I didn't even notice the HUM in the air until I was filling in the last theme line.

jazz said...

Never heard of AMAHL, and "45 years after William I invaded England" (MCXI) was pretty weak. But I liked the theme.

Either the Friday puzzles are getting easier, or I'm actually improving at these things!

Keep up the good work, puzzlebloggers!

UncoolJohn said...

The first thing I thought of for "Sports disks that can reach speeds of more than 100 miles per hour after being struck" was Skeet shooting. Pucks was my last solve as well.

And remember, there is no basement in the Alamo.

Anonymous said...

Re PUCKS: the disks are struck and not thrown.

shrub5 said...

Looking at the number of writeovers I made on this puzzle, I would rate it a bit harder than yesterday's but I finished it in reasonable time with no googles. I agree with Rex, though, it's time to ramp up the difficulty.

@RP: LOL at the open up the deep end of the pool comment. Yeah, we want to use the diving board, even if it sometimes results in a humiliating belly flop.

For the longest time, I left in SEMINARS for 9D and worked off of it in a few places with some really creative wrong answers. I put STONE for the R&B family name. Eventually I corrected this to ISLEY and that "Y" then got me to... (AHA!)... SYMPOSIA.

@mac: Loved the Jobs creation clue, too, for APPLE.

I liked the theme and had a little chuckle at the resulting "wackiness" , esp. HUMDRUMROLL. I picture a real lackadaisical percussionist....

I guess being an inland dweller made me unfamiliar with 10D Breakwater -- I got JETTY from the crosses. I've seen that word before but I now realize I didn't actually know what it meant. Some interesting synonyms for jetty from my desktop dictionary are: quay, mole, groin (?), dike, dockominium. I like that last one!

Lime D. Zeze said...

Nice Brady Bunch clip. I feel like I've seen every episode of The Brady Bunch multiple times, including the Davy Jones episode, but I can't remember for the life of me what happens next!

Did you know...David Bowie was born David Robert Jones, and performed as Davy Jones early on, but changed his name to David Bowie to avoid confusion with The Monkees' Davy Jones. He chose "Bowie" after ALAMO hero Jim Bowie.

Soozy said...

I really enjoyed the theme today! As I was able to solve this puzzle, I can agree with the sentiment that Fridays are getting too easy! (Although boy does it feel good to finish one!)

Was wondering about the last clue, 57D (18,19 and 20 in a series). What the heck is RST? Enlighten me, please!

And as always, thanks for the write-up!

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@Soozy
R,S,T is ther 18th, 19th, and 20th letter in the alphabet

C said...

Easy puzzle today. Themed clues almost answered themselves. Not complaining because it was fun in other regards like the "pucks" clue.

Out of protest, I refuse to commit to memory the date in roman numerals that William I invaded England. Anybody with me ;^)?

Burner10 said...

Six months ago I would have never imagined myself as the bellweather for Wednesdays. Definitely felt Wednesday.
Can Seve golfer guy be crosswordese along with about a million other golfers with good fill names? I always forget my golf pros.

Greene said...

An expertly constructed puzzle with a fine theme. Just too easy for my tastes (Wow...I never thought I would say that). Definitely need more of a challenge on Friday.

I see good old AMAHL is back in the grid. Haven't seen him much lately. You can never have too many lame shepherd boy sopranos visited by the Magi and healed through an act of altruism in your daily crossword as far as I'm concerned. (Wasn't AMAHL dating Cheryl Tiegs in the NYT puzzle around this time last year?)

crazycatlady said...

Hello. I am a newbie at crosswords and wanted to say how much this blog has helped.

Amahl and the Night Vistors is a Christmas opera for children. I believe it was first produced in 1952. The choir at the church where I went as a child put on a wonderful production each year at Christmas. It's about an poor shepherd boy who lives with his mother and walks with a crutch. The three kings stop at his home for a rest on their way to Bethlehem. My brother used to hop around the house pretending he was Amahl. He used a golf club as his crutch.

Charlie said...

@RP -- thanks for the the Portishead. Great song.

As soon as I saw ISLEY in the puzzle, I wondered with which video we would be graced. Imagine my disappointment. So I hereby take matters into my own hands...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ai1A5Vjc6PI

BigD said...

Funny that puck was the first thing that came to my mind and I am not a hockey fan. Seems to have caused problems for better solvers than me. I too thought this puzzle was a little too easy for Friday. Maybe tomorrow will make up for it.

Anonymous said...

Rex,

Was that mixed drink you had a Manhattan? Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, and cherry syrup?
By the way. That glass in actuality is a Manhattan Glass. Traditionally a martini is served in a highball glass. The glass was adopted as martinis started to be more main stream and glamorous

shrub5 said...

@Charlie:
Thanks for the Isley Bros./Soul Train clip. Some mighty funky strolling with those '70's threads and hairdos.
Also, if you're the same Charlie that posted on yesterday's puzzle about foil and epee, thanks for that info. I was a little confused about fencing terms.

Anonymous said...

I would love it if you would shut your mouth about toughening up the LAT puzzles. Some of us unwashed masses like them just the way they are, we not being sophisticated snobs.

choirwriter said...

@Rex - You noted for the PUCK clue: "[After being struck] feels redundant. I think it's safe to assume that a disk involved in a sport is not self-propelled." The first thing I think of when I hear sports disk is a Frisbee, since the term disk is often used generically for this piece of equipment. (Anyone play disk golf?) So saying "after being struck" was important to solving this, since Frisbees are tossed, not struck. Got me to the right answer quickly.

This whole week has been unusually easy -- I've solved all of them without any assistance, which for a relative newbie is unheard of! I've actually enjoyed the ride. School starts next week, and I'm back to early risings with no time for morning coffee and puzzles. *Sigh* It's been a lovely summer!

Anonymous said...

Yes of course it was Davy Crockett at the Alamo, but wasn't Davy Jones a member of the Monkeys... Love that song ..."hey, hey we're the Monkeys...." Can you hum that tune?

ddbmc said...

As a hockey parent, I deal with other hockey parents 24/7. I had NO idea, upon 1st read, what the clue meant! Humdrumroll me out of the club! But then again,some of the little players I deal with can barely keep the puck on their sticks! The pros slap that vulcanized 6 ozs of rubber at warp speed!(Like @PG, I prefer the amateur version of the sport to the Pros!) Mrs. Wagner's Pie! Simon and Garfunkle! Nice memory, @Rex! Oddly, I was most flummoxed today by 58a:Get from___ and 49d: Monte Carlo! THE simplest clues on the planet! Guess the java jolt hadn't kicked in! Could not conjure up Hoover, yet I have his vacuum.. Canned Meats,thought SPAM-Sate and Cloy- Always thought sate was enough/satisfied and cloy as over done. @Shrubb5-dockominium-new one on me! And I'm the daughter of son of a son of a sailor! As a newbie, no G-visits today, so I guess Friday could be ramped up a bit....or I could TRY an NYT puzzle, just to test my frustration level. @Rex, Cosmos are wonderful in a Manhattan glass, too, but I suspect they aren't manly enough....E.B.White called a martini: the elixir of quietude." But then I shouldn't listen to Porishead while toping.

ddbmc said...

Oops! Portishead! Damn toping!

*David* said...

Anon who wants easy peasy puzzles. Sorry there are two sites one for the aristocracy and one for the hoi polloi. If you want the puzzle to remain easy and get sympathy you have to post to the other site. When I feel beaten up by this crowd that is where I go to feel superior again, it does wonders for the ego.

Jimmie said...

@johnsneverhome

Mothers in Portland? Great place, but food takes 15 minutes the last time I was there. Or another Mothers?

I thought the puzzle today was about right. Great blog.

jcx said...

Re: 45 years after William I invaded England (MCXI)....
the year was 1066; add 45: 1111; convert to roman numerals: MCXI!

Rex Parker said...

Frisbees can be thrown over 100 miles/hour?

Rex Parker said...

Ha ha, "shut my mouth." Yeah, that'll happen.

mac said...

@Rex: LOL!
Your earlier comment: maybe that's what they call extreme frisbee?

PARSAN said...

"AMAHL--" was written by Pulitzer Prize winner Gian Carlo Minotti, founder of the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, a wonderful venue for many arts; opera, dance,jazz, theatre. My husband had the pleasure of performing there once and we were able to meet Mr. Menotti. I liked his short operas "The Old Maid and the Thief" and "The Telephone".

Bohica said...

Hummed right through this puzzle. Thought the theme kind of cute, but not all that imaginative.

Hated the clue for 35A: 45 years after William I invaded England (MCXI). If you have to reach that far for a Roman Numeral answer there's something wrong. A math problem that would have given the answser would have been better. Did Barry Silk feel he had to use the more esoteric clue because it was a Friday puzzzle, or was that Rich Norris' editing?

Frances said...

Menotti's opera "The Consul" is much darker than the abovementioned works. Pretty much Franz Kafka, set to music--but very gripping. The eponymic consul is never seen, but is clearly a GRIM FIGURE.

SethG said...

Frisbees cannot be thrown over 100 miles/hour.

ddbmc said...

@SethG, I dunno, that sounds like it should be one of the challenges to Westley in the Princess Bride! Inconceivable!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-b7RmmMJeo

mac said...

I may be the only puzzler who likes those Roman numeral clues. This one in particular.

Charles Bogle said...

thank you @crazycatlady (and welcome, you will find this blog a delightful and friendly place, as I have since becoming a "newbie" earlier this summer) and @parsan, for the background on "Amahl and the Night Visitors"; some of you are showing your (youthful) age--growing up in the 1950's-1960's, "Amahl" was a welcome treat on tv every holiday season...someone had the foresight to "kinescope" this live production and it played for a number of years-

today also liked: JETTY, TACOMA (since presently in Seattle and getting the puzzle from the Tacoma paper (much better paper than the Seattle Times), REAPER....great answer was HARPO for "silent film star?"!

needed a little help from my 27 yr old son in the middle top and tried to stick w SOLID instead of VALID but did manage to complete and any Friday that happens, excellent Friday

SethG said...

I know what that word means. And also how fast frisbees have been thrown...

My first guess was skeet. Also, Davy Jones did sing at her prom and Busted is my favorite Isley Brothers song.

Crosscan said...

If the frisbee is coming at 100 miles per hour you better have your mouth open. How else will you catch it?

SethG said...

With your guts!

Bohica said...

@CharlesBogle: You know a good paper when you see one!

I used to subscribe to the Seattle Post Intelligencer (PI) until they went under. Re-signed with the TNT and have been happy ever since (except the later delivery time). The Times is slanted and vapid. Even their masthead dated and doty.

housemouse said...

I agree with Anon about the lack of necessity for making the Friday puzzles "tougher" (translation: making the definitions more obscure and meaningless.) Friday happens to be a work day for me, and I'd guess for Anon as well. I don't have time to play around with "cutesy" obfuscations or to stay tuned in to Google. IMO, a crossword should be about vocabulary, not about Trivial Pursuit. Mess up Saturday and Sunday if you must, but leave Monday-Friday for the working person with little time. These puzzles were so much better under the old editors. I really miss the hidden quips and quotes. Too often the puzzles now are really boring, hidden in the guise of being "challenging".

choirwriter said...

I figure if you can throw a baseball at 100 mph, you ought to be able to throw a frisbee that fast. I'm just sayin'.