10.18.2009

SUNDAY, October 18, 2009
Alan Arbesfeld


Theme: "The Ultimate Sandwich" — Theme answers have the letter string NTH (as in "the nth degree") hidden (sandwiched) in them.

[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]


Theme answers:
  • 24A: Course covering the Roman Empire, perhaps (ANCIENT HISTORY).
  • 34A: Pentathlon event (JAVELIN THROW).
  • 51A: Rehearse quickly (RUN THROUGH).
  • 59A: "Under Milk Wood" playwright (DYLAN THOMAS).
  • 77A: Malfunctioned (WENT HAYWIRE).
  • 89A: Gardener's gift (GREEN THUMB).
  • 102A: One of the Seven Sisters colleges (MOUNT HOLYOKE).
  • 121A: College accommodations (STUDENT HOUSING).
  • 123D: Ultimate degree hidden in eight puzzle answers (NTH).
Good morning! And I say that because it's a beautiful, glorious morning! Why, you ask? Because I don't have a stupid headache any more, that's why. I've been getting these migraines and they're just super painful, which I guess probably goes without saying. I have some prescription medication that absolutely gets rid of the migraine within, like, an hour, but here's where I screw up. The medication costs me something like $18 per pill (only a slight exaggeration), so I try to ignore the migraine telling myself little Pollyanna stories like "It's just a sinus headache! It will go away on its own very soon!" And that, my friends, is not only wrong, it's just plain stupid. Because here's what happens. If I ignore the migraine and don't take the medication until much later it ... doesn't work. And then I'm stuck with the stupid migraine for the duration. And all I had to do was take the little obscenely priced pill in the first place and I would have been fine. So I guess what I'm saying is it's a beautiful, glorious morning!

Puzzle? Oh, okay. I was cruising through this puzzle when I realized I had no idea what the theme was. I had, like, three long answers that looked like they should be theme answers, but I couldn't remember seeing a wacky clue or thinking very hard about them or anything, which is unusual for Sunday theme answers. So I looked at the puzzle's title again to see if I could figure it out (remember, the Sunday puzzle has a title that can help with the theme). Et voilà! It actually helped. I can't tell you how many times I go looking for a title on a Monday-through-Saturday puzzle. I keep hoping it will be there, but no. But today because the title had the word "sandwich" in it, I figured there was something "sandwiched" between the two words and it was pretty easy from there. Speaking of the theme ...

Theme answers are not very exciting (although WENT HAYWIRE is pretty cool), but I thought it was fun trying to come up with them without crosses once I knew to think about the NTH.

To a lesser degree:
  • 7A: Like the best straight, in poker (ACE HIGH). I have clearly not been playing enough poker lately. I'm all "Is there such a thing as a royal straight?" But I did get DEAL IN (93A: Include, at the poker table) easy enough, so maybe I redeemed myself.
  • 22A: Scams (BUNCOS). I thought BUNCO was just a game that gives housewives an opportunity to get drunk.
  • 42A: Jazz singer Anderson (IVIE). Only know her from crosswords. I'm sure she's lovely.
  • 48A: Chaos (BEDLAM). To my surprise, PuzzleSon used the word mayhem the other day. Good word.
  • 50A: Slangy "OK" ("YEH"). Ooh ... do not like the spelling here. We've talked about it before, right? The proper spelling of this particular word is yeah.
  • 95A: NC State's gp. (ACC). Atlantic Coast Conference? Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
  • 100A: Nobelist Morrison (TONI). I missed the conversation about Toni Morrison over at Rex's recently, so I'll take this opportunity to plug my favorite Morrison novel, The Bluest Eye.
  • 127A: Horseplay sounds? (SNORTS). Not horseplay as you usually think of it, but horseplay with real horses. Thus the question mark.
  • 4D: Old movie house staple (NEWS REEL).


  • 5D: Canine coat? (ENAMEL). Canine the tooth, not canine the dog.
  • 14D: Slightly more than one can tolerate (A BIT MUCH). Fun, colloquial phrase.
  • 34D: Were in accord (JIBED). I hope none of you tried to enter jived. Totally different things.
  • 64D: %#&!#! ones (SO-AND-SOS). Speaking of colloquial, this is awesome.
  • 90D: Digressions (TANGENTS). Hmm ... what's a tangent? Merriam-Webster online says it's "diverging from an original purpose or course (tangent remarks)." Glad I don't know anybody who does That.
  • 101D: "Turn it up, please" (LOUDER).


  • 105D: John with a colorful wardrobe (ELTON). Not that there's anything wrong with that.
  • 114D: Arlington's state: Abbr. (VIRG.). I really, really hate to end on a downer note, but this is the ugliest abbreviation for Virginia I've ever seen. VA, okay. Va., still okay. Vir., close to the line but acceptable. VIRG.? No. Just no.
Crosswordese 101: Although TYNE is sometimes clued as the English river, it's more often clued as the actress TYNE Daly. She was Sharon Gless's co-star on the old "Cagney & Lacey" show. More recently, she appeared in the television show "Judging Amy." She has apparently won six Emmys. And that's what you need to know about TYNE Daly.

Other crosswordese in today's puzzle that we've already covered includes: ENA (57A: Bambi's aunt), REO (85A: Vintage auto), ELOI (3D: "The Time Machine" race), and AGHA (63D: Turkish general).

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Everything Else — 1A: Place to surf (THE NET); 14A: Creature that divides to multiply (AMOEBA); 20A: One-named Tejano singer (SELENA); 21A: Cure-all (PANACEA); 23A: Like hawks, vis-à-vis doves (PRO-WAR); 26A: Earthquake (SEISM); 27A: Pilot (FLIER); 28A: "You're not telling the truth!" ("THAT'S A LIE!"); 29A: White Rose __-Tea, first instant iced tea (REDI); 31A: Take pieces from? (DISARM); 33A: Noodge (PEST); 40A: Service station job (LUBE); 43A: Post with planes (AIRBASE); 44A: __ Raton, Florida (BOCA); 45A: Cut grass (MOW); 54A: Important time (ERA); 55A: Gods' drink (NECTAR); 58A: British county (SHIRE); 62A: Lunes y martes, e.g. (DIAS); 65A: Small songbird (WREN); 66A: Mother of the Titans (GAEA); 67A: "I've been __!" (HAD); 69A: Attend (GO TO); 71A: Deity skilled at archery (AMOR); 74A: Wealthy (RICH); 83A: Toon skunk Pepé (LEPEW); 87A: __ Sebastian Bach (JOHANN); 88A: Lux. neighbor (GER.); 92A: Org. with a longstanding journal (AMA); 96A: "Diamonds & Rust" singer Joan (BAEZ); 97A: Starts (ADVENTS); 101A: Turner on screen (LANA); 104A: Bank-confiscated auto, briefly (REPO); 107A: Reach rudely for (GRAB AT); 110A: Pronto, in memos (ASAP); 111A: Hints at (ALLUDES TO); 113A: Poland Spring competitor (EVIAN); 117A: Bandleader's cry (HIT IT); 123A: "Driver carries __": robbery deterrent (NO CASH); 124A: Like a stiff drink (POTENT); 125A: Operative, as a rule (IN FORCE); 126A: Psychologist's concern (TRAUMA); 128A: Vegas light source (NEON GAS); 129A: __-skelter (HELTER); 1D: Recipe amts. (TSPS.); 2D: "__ we go again!" (HERE); 6D: Paving goo (TAR); 7D: "C'mon, be __!": "Help me!" (A PAL); 8D: Child's plea (CAN I); 9D: Suffix with defer (-ENCE); 10D: Coifs (HAIRDOS); 11D: Sprain treatment (ICE); 12D: Classy fellows (GENTS); 13D: __ yoga (HATHA); 15D: Dishevel (MUSS); 16D: Recorded with a VCR (ON TAPE); 17D: French school (ECOLE); 18D: Tennis great Becker (BORIS); 19D: So far (AS YET); 25D: "Portia is Brutus' __, not his wife": Shak. (HARLOT); 27D: All done, in Verdun (FINI); 30D: Radius times two (DIAMETER); 32D: "If __ a Rich Man" (I WERE); 35D: Big name in labels (AVERY); 36D: Gore who wrote "Lincoln" (VIDAL); 37D: "__ see it my way ...": Beatles lyric (TRY TO); 38D: Letter-shaped girder (H-BEAM); 39D: Enthusiastic (RAH-RAH); 41D: It's bad to be behind them (BARS); 44D: __ B'rith (B'NAI); 45D: Naturalist John (MUIR); 46D: Fairy tale beast (OGRE); 47D: Invitation word (WHEN); 49D: "The King and I" teacher (ANNA); 52D: Berlin conjunction (UND); 53D: "I'm amazed!" ("OH WOW!"); 56D: Indian tea (CHAI); 60D: Go along (AGREE); 61D: Noticed (SAW); 68D: "This seems familiar" feeling (DÉJÀ-VU); 71D: Pond organism (ALGA); 72D: Hired soldier, briefly (MERC); 73D: Crude cartel (OPEC); 75D: Cross, in Cádiz (CRUZ); 76D: Garment border (HEM); 78D: Ladies' club policy (NO MEN); 79D: U __, '60s UN secretary general (THANT); 80D: White house? (IGLOO); 81D: Freshen, as a stamp pad (REINK); 82D: Banks of baseball (ERNIE); 84D: Ladies' hoops gp. (WNBA); 86D: "Dreams From My Father" memoirist (OBAMA); 91D: West Coast castle builder (HEARST); 94D: Not ordinary (ATYPICAL); 98D: Spoils, as a grandchild (DOTES ON); 99D: Holier-__-thou (THAN); 103D: Pakistan's second-largest city (LAHORE); 104D: Woodworking files (RASPS); 106D: Demoted planet (PLUTO); 108D: Dylan's "Ballad of __ Man" (A THIN); 109D: Wilderness Road pioneer (BOONE); 112D: Fender damage (DENT); 115D: Andean of yore (INCA); 116D: Mighty long time (AGES); 118D: Stretched tight (TAUT); 119D: "Woe __!" (IS ME); 120D: Whaler's direction (THAR); 122D: ET carrier (UFO).

16 comments:

Eddie Q said...

Fun puzzle!! It usually takes me a full day to do a Sunday (I'm not a pro like most of you, plus I believe I'm a touch ADD) but I finished this one online in 35 minutes. I kept trying to make the words of the theme answers have something to do with sandwich toppings until the NTH clue. Oh well.

I often go off on TANGENTS when I tell a story (hence the ADD from earlier).

You were correct on Atlantic Coast Conference. (Go 'Nols!!)

Great write-up! Enjoy the blog. Everyone have a great Sunday!!

shrub5 said...

I liked the creative long answers in this puzzle, e.g., WENTHAYWIRE, MOUNTHOLYOKE, JAVELINTHROW, GREENTHUMB. Didn't have much trouble solving except for one spot in the NE where I had BENTOS (?) instead of BUNCOS, caused by MESS instead of MUSS and ETOLE for ECOLE. I suspected something was wrong -- the only Bentos I know are those divided box/trays in which Japanese food is served -- but couldn't figure out what. (D'oh)

Everything else was pretty straightforward. I didn't know LAHORE or GAEA but these were easily filled in through crosses. Haven't seen SEISM used as such, only seismic or seismograph. LOL at "demoted planet" for PLUTO! What an indignity.

Van55 said...

"White Rose REDI-tea" -- first instant iced tea.

Shouldn't that be ICETEA? (Laughing at the flap over "iced tea" vs. "Ice tea" in one of last weeks puzzle blogs at Rex's site.

Very solid puzzle for me

I finally figured out the theme after solving about five of the theme answers.

Jet City Gambler said...

Tyne Daly was also Dirty Harry's partner in The Enforcer. She died in the end, as Dirty Harry's partners always do...

Grandpappy Steve said...

Fun puzzle but REALLY easy. NYT wasn't much more difficult. Two Sunday puzzles done & still on my 1st cup of coffee. When I read the title, all I could think of was triple decker reuben with horseradish. That is the ultimate sandwich. Flew through this one almost as fast as I could type. Kept looking for something to do with sandwiches until I had the puzzle almost done.

mac said...

So sorry about the migraine. I think Orange gets them, too. Might it be us and the blog? Hope not.

Thank you for pointing out the theme, I forgot to look for it. I'm with Grandpappy Steve, Reuben!

I like "went haywire" and "Thant" looks funny in the grid. Had to look up the clue again!

Orange said...

PG, I understand the hapless optimism: "Maybe this one's not an actual migraine...it's going away on its own with a little caffeine, isn't it?" We all do that. The optimism is seldom borne out. You just got me off my duff to take Fioricet, and I'm pondering a triptan but am not quite there yet. In two hours, I'm driving 41 miles to a family party so I'd better not mess around!

Ruth said...

Great newsreel clip. Poor little monkeys. Can they prove the ones they showed with the astronauts were the same ones they sent up? (no conspiracy theorist I, but the 50's were so innocent, who would ever dare to question??)

Carol said...

Much preferred Merle Reagle's Calendar Sunday puzzle to this one! It was much more challenging!
(Also a syndicated LAT puzzle.

wilsch said...

91 down - I've been to the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, CA. Orson Welles' Citizen Cane was based on Wm. Randolph Hearst.

crazycatlady said...

Fun easy puzzle today, however I was looking for something to do with sandwiches as well. Didn't get the theme until I got to the Ultimate Degree. It was an AHA moment. Loved Demoted Planet. That made me laugh. PG glad you're feeling better.

John said...

I finished the puzzle while watchong a British Comedy about a mixup at a Fete involving Elton John, as I ran across the clue for 105D. Life is interesting! Didnt get the theme til 123D, so not all that an interesting puzzle. Easy-Peasy but blah!

Bohica said...

Unimaginative theme and unlively clue answers leave me to muh. Some good fill, but that withstanding, nothing to "write home about".

Regarding migraines, might I suggest a homeopathic rather than prescriptive cure? Migraines are a way for your body to cry out; "I need more"; green leafy vegetables, more fruits, more vitamin D, more iron... more rest, etc.

I don't mean to pass judgement, migraines have all sort of manner. But, mine were cured when a sleep study found I had sleep apnea, that not only disturbed my sleep patterns, but also lessened the oxygen level in my blood (starving my brain of oxygen).

A multi-vitamin and the CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure)
machine have changed my life!

I now dream again and wake up refreshed!

Sans that, there's also acupuncture or yoga and chiropratcric.

I'm just saying... drugs aren't the answer, they only mask the underlying cause of the issue.

Eleanor said...

I loved this puzzle. For a change there weren't a bunch of American abbreviations to head either to the dictionary for or just say - forget it. I do this one every Saturday morning with coffee and croissants. My dogs determine the amount of time I spend at this time of day, so mostly I'm not finished until Sunday. This Saturday was unusual - guess it truly was easier - the puzzle, I mean. But after some of the summer offerings, this one was welcome.
As for the headache, heat to the face, cold to the head and good old high test coffee have, after a lifetime of this affliction, become my healers of choice.

Eleanor - a Canadian living in Sudbury, Ontario

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

ENJOYABLE !

rob said...

There were times during this puzzle where I actually hesitated..."can this answer really be that easy?" and answered almost as fast as I could write. And like most here, I finished half without knowing the theme. Kind of nice having an easy one for variety though wasn't it? PG, the ONLY thing I know about migraines is catch 'em early or don't catch 'em. Glad you're feeling better, really appreciate your write-ups.