9.02.2009

WEDNESDAY, September 2, 2009—Jerome Gunderson



THEME: "I'm a Changed Man"—Two pairs of celebrities with size-related first names swap names

Theme answers:
  • 18A: "Little" comedian's big brother? (HULK HERMAN). Pee-wee Herman is the comic alter ego of Paul Reubens. I loves me some Pee-wee.



  • 26A: "Big" wrestler's little brother? (PEE-WEE HOGAN). I get Hulk Hogan mixed up with Jesse Ventura. Did they both sport ginormous droopy mustaches? Or is that just Hulk? And no, I've never seen the reality show featuring Hulk and his daughter.
  • 44A: "Thin" character actor's big brother? (FATS PICKENS). Slim Pickens is...a silly name. And that's really all I know about him. He has a name that sounds like "slim pickings." Slim Whitman was on '70s TV commercials for K-Tel compilations or something. He's my go-to Slim.
  • 56A: "Heavy" R&B singer's little brother? (SLIM DOMINO). Luckily, Fats Domino survived Hurricane Katrina four years ago. We all know "Blueberry Hill," so let's go with "Ain't That a Shame":



Crosswordese 101: Today, let's talk about hardware. Sometimes RASP is clued as the sound and sometimes it's the tool. Where are the screwdriver, pliers, wrench, and hammer? They're too long to be crosswordese. But PEENS seems to show up far more often in the puzzle than in my tool-related discourse. You know how there's a ball-peen hammer? PEENS are 32D: Hammerhead part. If you are snickering like a 14-year-old about the words "peen" and "tool" (and don't even look at the 41 clue) come sit with me and we'll snicker together.

And now, my favorite clues and answers:
  • 41A: "Horrors!" ("OH NO!"). Answer and clue alike are approximately 7,000 times better in a crossword than AH ME or OH ME, both of which I've seen used.
  • 52A: Trivial (PIDDLING). Who doesn't love a word like PIDDLING? What's weird is that piddle means urinate...so I guess it would be redundant to call someone a piddling pissant.
  • 2D: "Star Trek" navigator (SULU). Played by John Cho in this summer's movie. That movie wasn't half bad.
  • 9D: Slangy word of indifference (MEH). This is a fairly new word, with possible Simpsons roots. As crossword fill goes, I say "yay" to MEH but "meh" to PEENS.
  • 30D: Courage, in slang (MOXIE). And a big "yay" to MOXIE. "You've got moxie, kiddo!" Love the moxie.

Everything Else — 1A: PDQ relative (ASAP); 5A: Violin virtuoso Zimbalist (EFREM); 10A: Out of harm's way (SAFE); 14A: "To Sir With Love" singer (LULU); 15A: Decorative sofa fabric (TOILE); 16A: Dagger handle (HILT); 17A: Narrow cut (SLIT); 20A: Blink later than, in a contest (OUTSTARE); 22A: Scooter favored by '60s British mods (VESPA); 23A: "That __ hay!" (AIN'T); 24A: Was indebted to (OWED); 30A: Road trip guide (MAP); 33A: Homeric epic (ILIAD); 34A: Liberal faction, with "the" (LEFT); 35A: Valuable rock (ORE); 36A: Whirling water (EDDY); 37A: Streaker with a tail (COMET); 39A: Grease target (AXLE); 40A: So-so test grade (CEE); 42A: Tabloid creature (ALIEN); 43A: Mess up (ERR); 47A: Big hair style (AFRO); 48A: Conscription category (ONE-A); 49A: Words of sympathy (I CARE); 59A: Computer symbol (ICON); 60A: Put in the hold (LADE); 61A: Piebald horse (PINTO); 62A: River through Saint Petersburg (NEVA); 63A: Gave the once-over (EYED); 64A: Libidinous deity (SATYR); 65A: State, to Sarkozy (ETAT); 1D: Likewise (ALSO); 3D: Got down (ALIT); 4D: Saves (PUTS AWAY); 5D: Odorless gas (ETHANE); 6D: Stick shift gear (FOURTH); 7D: Irritate (RILE); 8D: Yellowstone grazer (ELK); 10D: Destroy, as a paper trail (SHRED); 11D: Intentions (AIMS); 12D: Brouhaha (FLAP); 13D: Europe's highest active volcano (ETNA); 19D: It's what's happening (EVENT); 21D: Made, as a knot (TIED); 24D: Decoratively curved molding (OGEE); 25D: Drift gently (WAFT); 26D: Pie serving (PIECE); 27D: Church leader (ELDER); 28D: Sea duck with prized plumage (EIDER); 29D: "American Me" actor/director Edward James __ (OLMOS); 31D: Senator Specter (ARLEN); 37D: Burn slightly (CHAR); 38D: Not fooled by (ONTO); 39D: Like some batteries (ALKALINE); 41D: Rubbed out, gangster style (OFFED); 42D: Did very well on (ACED); 45D: Like a spitz's ears (POINTY); 46D: Not alfresco (INDOOR); 47D: Packing heat (ARMED); 49D: Key (ISLE); 50D: Modeling medium (CLAY); 51D: Assistant (AIDE); 52D: Pub order (PINT); 53D: Hip-hopper born Tracy Marrow (ICE-T); 54D: Source of a stellar explosion (NOVA); 55D: Pesky biter (GNAT); 57D: Special __: military force (OPS); 58D: "Mamma __!" (MIA).

45 comments:

GLowe said...

I don't like themes where the last one is a gimme. It just had to be SLIMDOMINO, which I wrote in with no crosses. The POINTY PINTO PINT quadrant is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser too.

mac said...

Funny puzzle and very funny write-up!

Piddling is my favorite word, also with "outstare" the longest. Ease for a Wednesday, but I had a good time solving it.

jazz said...

Well, I did the puzzle, but it didn't do it for me.

I went from BEER to BIER (Ger) to PIER (?) and finally to PINT. I may not be slow, but I'm not real quick! I agree with Mac, that once the theme was established, the theme answers went in without a thought...

My faves are when I complete the puzzle and then have to guess the theme. There have been a few times when it actually took a few minutes to figure it out. Those are the really goos ones (Fridays?)

ddbmc said...

@Orange, still laughing over "Giant Underpants!" and be still my heart on Apollo "OHNO!" Piddling was a good word, as I wanted to put "middling" in, but obviously, one doesn't get a mint at the pub! Liked the neva,nova; Sulu, Lulu crosses and the Elder,Eider,Iliad alliteration. Kept wanting to put the Wayan Brother names in, until the switched at birth names became obvious..it was early, ok?...Louis Burton Lindley, Jr. better known by the stage name Slim Pickens, was an American rodeo performer and film and television actor who epitomized the profane, tough, sardonic cowboy, but who is best remembered for his comic roles, notably in Dr. Strangelove and Blazing Saddles. Fun fact from Wiki for the day!

PARSAN said...

Easy but fun! I will always remember SLIM PICKENS as King Kong riding the H-bomb to oblivion in Dr. Strangelove. Thanks Orange for the PEEWEE video! Too bad his personal life short-circuited his career and denied us his truly original comic personality. I thought 46d INDOOR awkward.

Sfingi said...

@ddbmc said about everything. Slim Pickens was all over the movies and early tv. Kinda chinless. He was born 6 days before my mother and died at least 25 yrs. ago; whereas, she's still alive (90). When you get old, you think like that.

37A comet and 54D nova appear, but safely away from each other.

Did not know Neva or Sulu. Better learn. Maybe I should watch a Star Trek. Does anyone recommend one for learning characters?

Crosscan said...

I saw the new Star Trek on the plane home from Lollapuzzoola. Turbulance created a nice 3D effect.

I was nearly run over by Hulk Hogan and his family riding scooters in Caesar's Palace last April. No, I still can't explain it.

Anonymous said...

This was a fun puzzle!

*David* said...

This one worked for me, cutesy different theme. MEH and MOXIE are great words. Liked the clue for the mundane ISLE as Key. TOILE was the only word that I didn't know.

I Know Me My Astrology said...

NOVAs are explosions, not sources of explosions. Not that I would know what the "source of an explosion" is.

john farmer said...

Dr. Strangelove! One of the great films from the 60s that everyone should see not once, but at least ten times, in their lives.

Slim Pickens as Major Kong.

If you have never seen it, rent the movie. Quickly. Before lunch! I'll bet you'll love it.

Tuttle said...

When he was a young man Mr. Pickens decided upon a career in the rodeo. He was told such a career would be slim pickings so he chose Slim Pickens as his performing name (he was a rodeo clown) and kept it when he started acting. His younger brother acted under the name Easy Pickens.

He was great in Dr. Strangelove, but the man deserved an Oscar for Blazing Saddles.

C said...

Slim Pickens, besides Dr. Strangelove and numerous other films, was in Blazing Saddles, my all time favorite comedy.

Easy puzzle today, theme was a bit cyclical and led to answers that didn't need clues.

BTW, thoroughly enjoy the blog, keep up the good work!

eileen said...

I approached today's puzzle feeling pretty confident since I had sailed through Mon. and Tuesday's puzzles with ease but ended up having a hard time.
@orange: I loved the peewee clip!
@tuttle: thanks for the slim pickens facts.

shrub5 said...

I looked up MOXIE in Wiki to see where the word came from. To my surprise, it is a carbonated beverage and was among the first mass-produced soft drinks in the US. It is regionally popular to this day, primarily in New England, and is the official state soft drink of Maine. A key ingredient "Gentian Root Extractives" probably contributes noticeably to its unique flavor, which many claim is similar to carbonated cough syrup! (bleah) I don't think I've ever seen it for sale here in CA. I need to look in the esoteric beverage sections of specialty stores where, incidentally, I came across some Arrogant Bastard Ale a while back.

mac said...

The facts I learn on this blog!!!
Only in America...

KJGooster said...

I have to agree with GLowe and others -- I don't like that I was able to fill in SLIMDOMINO without even reading the clue. Good for my time but not for my brain.

Otherwise, I thought the fill was solid, if not spectacular. Only a moderate amount of crosswordeese, no random Roman numerals, ridiculous abbreviations, etc.

Jimmie said...

A peen can be part of a hammerhead, and a hammerhead can have two peens, so I guess that peens can be parts to a hammerhead. But a two peen hammerhead is rare, I think.

This was a fun puzzle, except fot MEH.

Bohica said...

Kind of easy for a Wednesday, but the theme made it better than yesterdays. Loved PIDDLING, didn't know TOILE.

@Mac: You said it! The amazing things I learn here (and from the blog itself, of course).

chefbea said...

Easy wednesday puzzle.

Years ago I went to a halloween party as PeeWee Herman.

@Eileen- Haven't seen you in the blog lately. Maybe you've been in Chataqua! E-mail me

Charles Bogle said...

Thanks @tuttle for that very interesting background on Slim Pickens, and thanks @orange for a super write-up...personally I say "no thanks" to both MEH and PEENS...I guess I respectfully diverge from everybody today..I found this both hard for Wed and thought the theme too silly but that's ok! Loved PIDDLING, MOXIE, ILIAD, ALKALINE...drew complete blank on LULU and had to resort to "extrinsic sources" for that as well as for VESPA...w roots in NY also liked OFFED

@shrub5..THANK YOU for MOXIE!

choirwriter said...

Heck -- I liked the theme! Something this dimwit could actually catch on to, for once.

And "meh" makes me laugh every time I hear or see it. No idea why.

@john farmer: Thanks for that link!

fergus said...

Left in MIDDLING for Trivial; didn't check Cross for PINT. This is the stuff that will kill you at a tournament. So, a good lesson to remember for the upcoming Alameda tourney. Absent-mindedly left a square blank yesterday ... . Accuracy trumps speed, especially if you're never even going to approach the warp of true speed-solvers.

Puzzled said...

Didn't care for the theme, but the rest of the fill was pretty varied and entertaining.

Vespa seems to be popping up quite a bit lately, and Efrem might just qualify as crosswordese though I haven't seen it clued in a while.

Joon said...

ten thumbs up for MEH. two thumbs up for the theme. maybe three and a half for MOXIE. (i'm an easy grader, although the soft drink is pretty nasty.)

Jerome said...

Creating a puzzle is a lot of fun. But the most fun is being able to share it with solvers. I'm glad that many of you enjoyed it. It completes the circle from me to you,and back to me with a "thumbs up". Thanks. For those who found it less than thrilling... maybe I can pull you in next time.

chefbea said...

Thanks Jerome for coming by and chatting with us

mac said...

Thanks, Jerome, it was a fun one.

@chefbea: this sounds awful, but I can just see you as PeeWee Herman!

Never heard of or seen Moxie (in a can or bottle).

GLowe said...

@Jerome;
Thanks for sharing your constructor's thoughts. The positive comments here hopefully mean you'll be coming back with another puzzle, and the negatives mean that it just might be that much better.

GLowe said...

@Jerome;
Thanks for sharing your constructor's thoughts. The positive comments here hopefully mean you'll be coming back with another puzzle, and the negatives mean that it just might be that much better.

GLowe said...

@ Glowe - You can say that again ....

Orange said...

@Glowe: So you repeat yourself and talk to yourself. You don't get bored hearing the same thing again?

Jerome said...

Glowe- I've posted here many times before and will again. I've had a minor skirmish with Orange once or twice, but no big deal. I've always appreciated her obvious affection for constructors and her love of puzzles.

Negative comments from solvers are fine with me. If you're going to publicly display your work one had better have thick skin. I always find negative comments interesting, sometimes fascinating. However, I never find them at all insightful.

Charles Bogle said...

@Jerome many thanks for coming and sharing and hat's off to you for such a skillful construction; clearly the many positives outweigh the few of us who may not have been thrilled by the theme so you ARE MOST welcome! Btw-could you please enlighten me-in today's NY Times puzzle, another excellent one, a lot of us were stumped by a clue that says, "Comet, for one". Your 37A produces COMET-streaker w a tail. Now, do you and Mr. Hyres at the NY Times conspire to drive someone like me extra batty--or is Comet twice in one day, quite different usages, totally coincidental?

Doug P. said...

@shrub5 - If you live in L.A., you can buy Moxie, along with every other kind of strange soda or beer you can imagine, at Galco's:

http://www.sodapopstop.com/

Wayne said...

My favorite words today were: waft and satyr. I use the word 'waft' a lot because I have a very strong sense of smell (comes in handy-although younger people don't always know what it means).

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

I don't usually do the Mon.-Wed. puzzles because they offer no challenge to me, but I thought what-the-heck, I think I'll just stimulate my big toe today. Pleasantly surprised at how entertaining Jerome Gunderson's puzzle was, but even moreso, how much fun Orange's writeup was... so both rated a 10 on my chuckle-o-meter.
I love the words MOXIE and PIDDLING. They both describe my activities with CWs. Most weekend puzzles intimidate me at first, but I have the MOXIE to dive in and have a go at them. Then I find out how piddling the clues are and how limited I am in the area of pop culture. "OH NO", I say, but somehow it ends up that I just WAFT through it.
For "Streaker with a tail" (37a), I had CIVET.
I always seem to get the fabrics TULLE and TOILE mixed up.
Well next week I think I'll include Wed. in my weekly puzzle repertoire.

Sfingi said...

@CharlesBogle An Englishman does American Crosswords
crosswordmanblog.com gives a detailed explanation of Comet - the cleanser. If you put shush instead of chant for "sound from a monastery," you might have been slowed down, as I was.

Back to our puzzle, as I like to call it.
@Bohica @Johnsneverhome 15A toile, sort of a girly thing, isn't merely a decorative fabric with a specific pattern. It's French (gulp)and shows rococo pastoral scenes with very controlled color. I've used it on curtains and bedspreads, rather than sofas. Google "toile," and hit images. Tulle (French,again) is just a netting.

Who can sing the 18A Schaefer (now owned by Pabst) jingle?

shrub5 said...

@Doug P. -
Thanks for the info on Galco's Soda Pop Stop. I'm up in NoCal but periodically visit the Southland. I LOL'd while browsing the website at all the crazy soda names, e.g., Rhubarb Dry Soda, Black Lemonade, Blenheim's HOT HOT Ginger Ale as well as Blenheim's Not as Hot Ginger Ale, Fukola Cola and of course I found Moxie Original Elixir. It would be fun to get some friends together, buy a bunch of these oddballs and have a tasting! BTW, Doug, hope you are not in any danger from the fires or having to breathe smokey air. The footage on TV is just scary.

Jerome said...

JOHNSNEVERHOME- I like any well made puzzle but I'll have to admit Saturday puzzles are my favorite because they really ramp up the difficulty level. However, you're missing a ton of good stuff by ignoring early week puzzles. I'm constantly amazed by the clever, fun, off the wall themes those constructors come up with. Sure, you can solve them pretty quick, but the joy from the craftsmanship lingers for a while.

ddbmc said...

This was a lulu of a day for comments! I attempted to construct a puzzle for an Auntie, as a birthday card, using all our family names-cluing them with their various foibles or hilarious family events. It wasn't easy and my fill was slim pickins. That being said, I prefer to leave the puzzle making to the expert "Word Nerds," of whom I have the greatest respect! With all of you, I learn something new every day and I always get to laugh out loud! The thought of Crosscan experiencing Star Trek in 3D on his way home from Lollapuzzoolaing, after his wife had melted the credit card with her NYC shopping experience; The Adventures of Puzzle Girl and the Stuck Bedroom Door with Rex to the Eventual, if not sleepy Seth Rogenesque rescue--you can't make this stuff up--well you could AND it might make a great puzzle!... Thanks, Jerome, for sharing your love of puzzles with the rest of us! We dub the constructors the plenipotentiary of the CW world! (Hint: Bart's role,but not Taggert's in Blazing Saddles?)

GLowe said...

@Orange;
I'm always happy to converse with an intelligent [if not slightly redundant] person.

@Jerome 4:01 - If you never find solver's comments insightful, then why come here? Of course they're insightful.

Customers speak, suppliers listen -hard stop.


(I'll try and post this only once )

Anonymous said...

A weak theme (Monday at best) saved by some pretty good fill. The last theme answer was a giveaway without even knowing it, so yea that's weak. But since Jerome popped in to take credit as he has a tough skin and all for putting his name out there, but at the same time saying he takes all the negative with a grain of salt...except for his own amusement. Sorry I won't be taking any lessons in humility or puzzle making from you. With a better theme, this had great potential...just another generic Wednesday LAT otherwise.

Jan said...

Enjoyed the puzzle a lot except for the too-easy fill and "meh" which kept me up last night trying to see where I had gone wrong. I've never watched the Simpsons (horrors!) but dictionary.com says "meh" came from just one episode ("After Marge weaves 'Hi Bart' on a loom to try to pique his interest in weaving, he says, "Meh.") Just one episode? Then how do all of you know this word? Even a Simpsons fan may have missed that one show. I'm PUZZLED.

ddbmc said...

@Jan, my kids are HUGE Simpson fans. They "MEH,MEH" me all the time when asked they don't care to answer. Guess that's how I knew the word.