9.30.2009

WEDNESDAY, September 30, 2009—Chuck Deodene



THEME: "The Mustache Club"—Five types of MUSTACHEs appear in the grid, and each is clued (with starred clues) as a non-mustache noun

Theme answers:

64A: Each answer to a starred clue is a type of this (MUSTACHE).

17A: Evil Asian doctor in Sax Rohmer novels (FU MANCHU). Boris Karloff fit the part with the mustache at left.

11D: Scooter feature (HANDLEBAR). You don't see many of these today. Ballplayer Rollie Fingers is a notable handlebar sporter of recent years.

22D: Tusked mammal (WALRUS).. Popularly recognized as the Wilford Brimley 'stache, this one was also observed on former U.N. ambassador John Bolton. It seems like such an odd match for a serious person, the walrus mustache.

35D: Trotter's footwear item (HORSESHOE). "Trotter" also means an edible pig's foot. (Feh.) The horseshoe mustache is among my least favorite varieties of facial hair, right up there with muttonchops and a mustache-free full beard. The horseshoe seems to be au courant among the country/Southern fellas.

36D: Eyebrow cosmetic applicator (PENCIL). This is a rather creepy-looking little mustache. John Waters has been sporting a pencil for decades. Wouldn't you think he'd grow tired of it at some point?

Are there any famous mustache songs? Or movies? I can't think of anything that cries out for an embedded YouTube video right now.

Crosswordese 101: Today's fill is actually pretty good. Where are the prime offenders of crosswordese? There's not much to choose from for today's lesson. Let's go with a junky little fragment that most of us probably never use as a word outside of a crossword grid: TRA (63D: Musical syllable). That's part of the longer "tra-la" or "tra-la-la." TRA clues are generally along the lines of "song syllable," "refrain syllable," "___ la la," or "la preceder." That's one of the things that makes TRA such lame crossword fill: Not only is it not something we say, not only is it a dangling fragment, but it's also something that does not lend itself to interesting clueing options.

What else have we got here?
  • 16A: Francia neighbor (ESPAÑA). That's France and Spain, in Spanish.
  • 39A: Satisfied laugh (CHORTLE). I'd rather snicker, chuckle, or guffaw than CHORTLE.
  • 53A: Ogden native (UTAHAN). It's important to know that there are two accepted spellings for the "person from Utah" word: UTAHAN and the crazy-looking UTAHN.
  • 67A: Yemen coastal city (ADEN). Yep, this one's been covered in Crosswordese 101 before.
  • 71A: Lay down the lawn (SOD). Did you read that without the N at the end, as the familiar phrase "lay down the law"? Good! Then the clue has done its job at tricking you a little bit.
  • 1D: Tips in a gentlemanly manner] (DOFFS). As in tipping or doffing one's hat. SethG, are you familiar with doffing one's hat?
  • 37D: Hard rain? (SLEET). It's hard because it's frozen, you see. You know, a lot of the time SLEET gets clued as a winter precipitation, but in Chicago and the Upper Midwest, sleet is rarely seen in the winter. It's not warm enough to sleet. We just get snow. Last winter was weirdly warm and we did have sleet once or twice.
  • 45D: Point in math class? (DECIMAL). Ah, yes, the handy decimal point.
  • 50D: Foiled villain's shout ("CURSES!"). This is a perfect clue/answer to include in a mustache-themed puzzle because kids love acting out all the parts in that "I can't pay the rent"/"You must pay the rent" play:


Everything Else — 1A: Used a spade (DUG); 4A: "Look what I did!" ("TA-DA!"); 8A: Accident (MISHAP); 14A: Fertility lab eggs (OVA); 15A: Baghdad's country (IRAQ); Contaminates (TAINTS); 20A: Blow, as one's lines (FLUB); 21A: "There oughta be __" (A LAW); 23A: South American mountain chain (ANDES); 24A: Second largest planet (SATURN); 26A: Scalawag (RASCAL); 28A: Seek damages (SUE); 29A: Category (ILK); 30A: Polish Nobelist Walesa (LECH); 33A: Workout aftereffects (ACHES); 36A: "We'll always have __": Rick, to Ilsa, in "Casablanca" (PARIS); 38A: "Get off the stage!" ("BOO!"); 41A: Transfers to a central computer (UPLOADS); 43A: Whisperer's target (EAR); 44A: Smooths, as wood (SANDS); 46A: Wetlands bird (EGRET); 47A: Compact __ (DISC); 49A: Sheet on the road, perhaps (ICE); 50A: Cartoonist's frame (CEL); 51A: Like steamy prose (EROTIC); 57A: Alexander of "Seinfeld" (JASON); 59A: Truth stretcher (LIAR); 61A: Daffy (LOCO); 62A: Thunderstruck (AGHAST); 66A: Wall Street worker (BROKER); 68A: "__-Tiki" (KON); 69A: Tijuana snooze (SIESTA); 70A: Lean to one side, at sea (LIST); 2D: Soft palate dangler (UVULA); 3D: Full range (GAMUT); 4D: Main element in pewter (TIN); 5D: Mysterious (ARCANE); 6D: Wonka's creator (DAHL); 7D: Sea-life displays (AQUARIA); 8D: Queens ballplayer (MET); 9D: Violinist Stern (ISAAC); 10D: __ cord: chiropractor's concern (SPINAL); 12D: Pot starter (ANTE); 13D: Student's permission slip (PASS); 18D: Maligning sort (ABUSER); 25D: Deteriorates, as iron (RUSTS); 27D: Hop along happily (SKIP); 31D: Programmer's output (CODE); 32D: Emcee (HOST); 33D: Served perfectly (ACED); 34D: Indian spiced tea (CHAI); 40D: Café lightener (LAIT); 42D: Dakota Native American (OGLALA); 48D: Froggy chorus (CROAKS); 52D: First stage (ONSET); 54D: Pawns (HOCKS); 55D: Cold sufferer's outburst (ACHOO); 56D: Incessantly (NO END); 57D: Setup punches (JABS); 58D: Prefix with culture (AGRI-); 60D: Bavaria-based automaker (AUDI); 63D: Musical syllable (TRA); 65D: "The Closer" TV station (TNT).

34 comments:

gespenst said...

I initially had issues w/ the NE corner, as none of the A-clues were speaking to me ... but fortunately I liked the D-clues better and then the A-clues clicked :)

I wanted to spell Isaac (Stern) in a funky way, but it soon became clear that it was simply Isaac. Maybe it's pronounced differently and that threw me off??

I liked chortle, "it's a funny word!" And I really liked the whole mustache theme. The only thing that I was still doubting, despite all the crosses fitting, was "OGLALA" ... never heard of them.

Daniel said...

Today's pun from www.punoftheday.com: "A handlebar mustache may look ridiculous, but symmetrical eyelashes are even cilia."

bullmktman said...

Jimmy Buffett ... wish I had a pencil thin mustache

bullmktman said...

Nirvana ... Mr Moustache
Will Smith ... The girlie had a moustache

Parsan said...

This was a good puzzle with interesting clues. The MUSTACHE theme was fun. Always liked a man with a mustache! @Orange, agree that CURSES from the villain fit the theme as does BOO to "get off the stage".

What a funny concept in the 21st century, a man DOFFing his hat. Back when men always wore them (love the old pictures of baseball games where every man had on a suit and hat), I remember that my father would DOFF his hat when we passed a woman he knew while walking in town. That was from the agee of mannners when men, accompaning a woman, walked on the side closest the street to prevent her from getting splashed in water or mud from passing horses and carriages.

Good write-up and easy but thoughtful puzzle!

PuzzleGirl said...

LOLing at the video. I looove the "You must pay the rent" bit. I don't think I've taught it to the PuzzleKids yet. But they do know the "Who is it?" "It's the plumber, I've come to fix the sink" one, which is also pretty amusing.

Puzzle? Oh yeah. Fun theme. The mustaches are awesome. Also enjoy the words CHORTLE and RASCAL.

PuzzleGirl said...

@gespenst: I'm with you on the ISAAC spelling. I assume we're getting him confused with Itzhak Perlman.

Brendan Emmett Quigley said...

How about TOOTHBRUSH mustache? Okay, maybe not so much. But, hey, it's a great excuse to link to a Sparks video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8KNOcQnwI0

Crosscan said...

A Groucho (and Harpo) Marx clip is always welcome.

shrub5 said...

Enjoyed the theme, the write-up and all the MUSTACHE example pix. I worked with a man who had a mustache just like Raleigh Fingers' HANDLEBAR. He was kind of a dandy, a God's gift to the world in his own mind-type of guy.

Loved 71A) Lay down the lawn for SOD! The word CHORTLE makes me chortle. CHORTLE was coined by Lewis Carroll in "Through the Looking Glass"; probably a blend of chuckle and snort. (wiki)

The puzzle didn't take me long, but ran the GAMUT of subject matter with interesting fill: OGLALA, DECIMAL, UVULA, AQUARIA.

Carol said...

Much smoother fill than lately in today's puzzle than recently.

UVULA got me many points on a triple word tile in Scrabble recently.

CHORTLE always sounds like a cynical laught to me - but a good seldom used word.

Yes, @Orange, I was AGHAST that I was momentarily tricked by 71A Lay down the lawn. Probably because of 21A There oughta be A LAW.

ARCANE is another good word that is seldom used.

All in all a much better puzzle than we've seen in the last couple of weeks with good theme and much more like Wednesdays in the past. Thanks, Chuck.

Loved the video - cute. Great write-up as usual, @Orange.

Joon said...

i liked this puzzle very much. nice theme (and orange: great pics!), smooth fill. the cluing was easy but i'm coming to accept that, so no complaints. there was still room for some cuteness, like SOD and CURSES. overall, a solid A. i'm even willing to overlook my aversion to NO END clued as an adverb (which i know is legit; i just don't like it).

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

I doff my hat to Chuck Deodene... this was a fun puzzle.
I used to have a very symmetrical HANDLEBAR moustache, but one day I woke up and one side had broken off... wow did that look silly.
Last year I went to a Halloween party as "The Insidious" Doctor Fu Manchu... no one figured out who I was. So much for mingling with the younger set. Now I have the very dignified WALRUS... the Wilford Brimley 'stache. So I've run the GAMUT. I love the word CHORTLE, that's what I'm doing right now.
Time to get off the stage... I hear the BOOS.

crazycatlady said...

This puzzle was a breath of fresh air from the ONSET. I loved the theme even though I am not particularly fond of mustaches in any form. Loved that there was lots of different fill for a change, GAMUT, ARCANE, EROTIC,CROAKS and ILK. I did have the MISHAP with Lay down the law(n), but got it in the cross. TADA! So happy there weren't any Roman numerals or questionable abbreviations. Loved the video of the little girl. Great write up.

Parsan said...

Just ran across this and want to share, knowing it's long but I hope it's not boring.

The Revelent Gentleman's Society was founded in Sept. 2007. It "stands united in it's aim to resurrect the dignity, grace, masculinity, and, yes, coolness that rightfully belongs to the most esteemed of facial acessories, the mustache. For far too long, the 'stache has been relegated to fifth-tier status (behind the beard, gotee, sideburns, and soul patch) as the preferred facial hair statement. We say long enough! No more will we stand for the mustache being worn only by cops, firefighters, pedophiles and out-of-touch middle-aged men. Mustache aficionados, unite and join our cause. Bring the mustache back!"

Acording to the St. Paul Almanac, a 2007 poll (whose?) reported that "more than half American women (polled) would refuse to kiss a man with a mustache". I wonder if the RGS members know that. I wonder if they care.

It's a slow day when I'm researching mustaches!

mac said...

I enjoyed this puzzle, it felt smart and well thought out. Had to reread 71A as well....

Oglala was brandnew for me, and arcane's meaning: mysterious, also. Good to learn something.

Sfingi said...

@Daniel - Pun of the Day! OMG I'll be looking that up every day along with Totally Looks Like!

A Victorian would call his mustache his mustaches, plural.
There are mustache cups in every possible style.
See brentmayne.com/blog/?m=200906

Better than that even, is belowthenose.blogspot.com
It's also called the Official Mustache Database. This dude, who sports his own, goes all over Europe and takes sneak photos of guys (mostly) with mustaches, getting himself into the picture. Found this serendipitously.

Anyway, very pleased. I got the theme and all this time.

Anonymous said...

Shame on Rich & Chuck for missing a golden opportunity. Sure, it would have required expanding the grid, but they left out the most famous MUSTACHE, and the type I sport: SEVENTIESPORNSTAR.

Orange said...

OMG! Ron Jeremy reads crossword blogs!

Anonymous said...

Orange - At least I didn't know any 70's porn stars, otherwise I wouldn't have remained anonymous.
HT
And no, that will not be my new name.

SethG said...

Orange, no problem there, and it even has dictionary support.

Funniest theme in a long time...I started laughing early, and couldn't wait to see what would come next. (And since it's the LAT, I didn't have to wait long...) H"RJ"T, nice.

chefwen said...

My uncle Walter had a rather prickly mustache; every time I would kiss him hello or goodbye it felt like I was getting mini acupuncture session, most unpleasant.

Nice, fun, easy puzzle. Tricked by 71 across also. Nerts!

JN said...

I'm surprised that nobody commented on "Movember". November is dedicated to the moustache. The basic principle of Movember is a simple one - in the words of Colonel Boochie R. Blight:

Whether you're stopping or going
Just you remember
To keep that mo growing
Whilst in Movember

You can find more information at http://movember.org

Norm said...

OMG. I never knew that what I had on my face in college & law school had a name. Thank God for today's full beard. Fun puzzle.

Sfingi said...

As long as we're talking dirty, how about s----h ride? That fill would have come easy.

But seriously, did you know that much more than half of First Amendment cases are over porno? And that is the specialty of those who call themselves First Amendment Attorneys. What would the Founders think? Who knew?

Charles Bogle said...

Parsan, shrub5 and Carol called out my faves and extra credit to the constructor that johnsneverhome liked it too..really neat, well-constructed theme, lots of theme answers, really good fill as orange points out..a real nice break from what has bothered us lately about the puzzle. Didn't care for ABUSER..liked: RASCAL, CHORTLE, LOCO. AGHAST< GAMUT

gespenst said...

@Orange: "Itzhak Perlman" yep, that has to be who I was thinking of! Even after I changed my spelling to "ISAA-" I still had a "K" I had to change to a "C" for the cross.

Has there been a Crosswordese 101 on Native American tribes, btw? I don't know if there's a way for us readers to search back that way. I'm usually pretty good, but the "oglala" totally threw me off. I just looked it up, and see that it refers to "Oglala Lakota or Oglala Sioux" ... Lakota I'm familiar with, from Dancing w/ Wolves if I recall correctly. And Sioux of course is familiar as well. Hopefully "Oglala" will stay in my brain, though I don't know what data I'll have to sacrifice to keep it there ;)

fergus said...

Haven't done an LATimes puzzle in a while, but this seemed deftly done, though too many Clues were so obvious. I had heard complaints about LA over in Rex's NY world but this would have been a delightful Monday there.

split infinitive said...

Stachetastic puzzle today. I laughed so hard on my train ride to western suburban Chicago that I "afeared" I might get tossed off the train. Favorite fills were MISHAP, TAINTS, FLUB and CHORTLE. All words that I should use more often. Will try, gosh darn it.

Anyone know how to pronounce "Deodene"? Sounds like a word to describe a shape: "That novel artwork is in the form of a deodene."

@Orange, nice blogging today. Yes, I met Tom Skilling and shook his hand. He truly is a gentlemn and a scholar. No other TV network that WGN 9 (incidentally, owned by Chicago Tribune)would devote a full 6 minutes to the weather in a broadcast, but he truly makes a viewer CARE about air currents, etc. Guy knows about 1000% more about weather than, say, Al Roker, whose hand I also shook outside Charlie Trotter's [note tie in to today's puzzle with his surname] back in the day when we'd take business clients there on an expense acc't. Nice guy, probably,but not a national treasure like Mr. Skilling.

British folk have an expression that I quite like but don't use, related to 71A -- "poor sod" which I think is "simular" to our "poor guy" or "poor slob."

Not too proud to admit that I did not know that people from Ogden are UTAHAN (or UTAHN). Good to learn new things every day!

ddbmc said...

Rep. Dan Flood, former Congressman from NEPA (north east PA), had QUITE the moustache! He floated around the halls of the Cannon House Office building, sporting a long black cape, to boot. Needless to say, it was always a hoot to catch a glance of him. He resigned in disgrace after 31 years in Congress, after pleading guilty to taking some campaign payoffs....Loved the Groucho clip-haven't seen that in years. Some of his quotes: "Please accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.... Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms!... I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception!" @Sfingi, I remember that term "s-----ch ride." I have a vague recollection of some college party with some bloke wearing a sign around his neck, "Free S.....Rides" Ah, the '70's! Never knew those 'staches were actually called 70'sPornstar...lololol!

Joon said...

facial hair has to hurt (8)

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@gespenst
Some good CW101 on Native American tribes: UTE and OTOE.

Re: Tom Skilling and WGN.
Did you know that WGN stands for World's Greatest Newspaper... hey, that's our beloved Chicago Tribune (and Cubbies of course). The Chicago Tribune (TMS) owns the LAT.

split infinitive said...

@John'sGone: Cubs are soon to be property of the Rickett (sp?) family, Trib's bankruptcy notwithstanding. Whatever that means....
I love the WGN channel 9 news: completely unprofessional but screamingly funny. They n.e.v.e.r. mention Iran's leader Mamoud Amadinejad (another Q on spelling) because not one of them can pronounce it, but they do make morning almost bearable. My prior neighbors still tune in to WGN, which for reasons I don't "grok" is available on cable in their corner of Nevada!

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