10.15.2009

THURSDAY, October 15, 2009
Todd Gross


Theme: I Can't Think of Anything Clever to Say About Wrenches — Theme answers are familiar phrases, the first word of which is a type of wrench.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: *Bakery fare named for their shape (CRESCENT ROLLS).
  • 29A: *Quixotic reveries (PIPE DREAMS).
  • 45A: *Playground fixture (MONKEY BARS).
  • 54A: *Beat poet who wrote "Howl" (ALLEN GINSBERG).
  • 48D: A type of one begins the answers to starred clues (WRENCH).
Good, solid theme today. I always toy with the idea of taking the time to read the reveal clue before I start solving to see if it will help me, but then I always decide just to plow through it without the help. One day I'll try it the other way and see how I do. It will take some self-control though, and I'm afraid that's not my best thing. Only a couple of answers that I really didn't care to see including "DO SO" (8D: "Take care of it"). When I hear "Take care of it" I think of a mob boss saying it to one of his thugs. And it's hard to imagine him saying "Do so" instead. 9D: "Batt. not INCL." seems like quite a stretch. And, of course, no one likes the Random Roman Numeral — 64A: MMX ÷ X (CCI). On the other hand, I had a couple good gimmes that helped me a lot. I knew 47A: Immortal racehorse Man O' WAR right off the bat. Okay, not exactly right off the bat. With the AR in place, the first horse I thought of was Cigar. But he hasn't been around long enough to be considered immortal. I also knew 36D: Minnesota's state bird is the LOON. And, having visited Toronto not all that long ago and made my way to the top of the CN Tower, 42D: SKYLINE was pretty easy to get.

Let's see ... what else?
  • 8A: First voice of Mickey Mouse (DISNEY). I can't see Mickey Mouse without thinking of my old friend Paul Woski, who began his career as an illustrator at Disney and now runs his own fabulous graphic arts shop in Atlanta. Very cool stuff.
  • 39A: Half-__: coffee order (CAF). CrossWorld's favorite coffee. Do any of you actually order this?
  • 43A: Certain Sri Lankan (TAMIL). We'll cover this in Crosswordese 401.
  • 51A: Opie's dad (ANDY). Hey, guess what! Andy Griffith is in a recent Brad Paisley video. What? You're tired of the Brad Paisley videos? Oh, okay. (It's here if you're interested.)
  • 58A: Ohio city north of Columbus (MARION). Hi, mac!
  • 67A: "__ Haw" (HEE). Never sure if it will be YEE or HEE.
  • 6D: Good thing to keep when hearing opposing views (OPEN MIND). Tried to teach PuzzleSon the concept of "contempt prior to investigation" the other day. Don't know why I think a ten-year-old will get it when his mom still has so much trouble with it.
Crosswordese 101: If you only have room in your head for one European capital, it should be OSLO. Today's clue — 27D: Capital on a fjord — is typical for early-week puzzles. Other information about OSLO that you might find helpful for future puzzles: (1) The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded there (which I'm sure you know after this week, if you didn't know it before); (2) It's home to the Munch Museum; (3) Its airport is called Gardermoen; (4) Many winter Olympics have been held there; (5) It was once known as Christiania; and (6) It's home to the Kon-Tiki Museum.

[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Premium movie station (SHO); 4A: Hammer-wielding Norse god (THOR); 14A: "This instant!" ("NOW!"); 15A: Will Rogers prop (ROPE); 16A: Rallying cry (ONWARD); 17A: ISP with chat rooms (AOL); 18A: Took advantage of (USED); 19A: Scrubs, as pots (SCOURS); 23A: Actress Holmes (KATIE); 24A: Mothers' month (MAY); 25A: Kid's building block (LEGO); 28A: Part of CBS: Abbr. (SYST.); 32A: 1953 Western hero to whom Joey cried "Come back!" (SHANE); 34A: Vacation home, maybe (RENTAL); 35A: Stately tree (ELM); 38A: "Wait, there's more ..." ("AND ..."); 40A: Prefix with friendly (ECO-); 41A: Sunday dinners (ROASTS); 52A: Coffee dispenser (URN); 53A: Eagle's nest (AERIE); 60A: Pre-holiday times (EVES); 61A: Pester (NAG); 62A: Really digs (IS INTO); 63A: Domesticated (TAME); 65A: Basic doctrines (TENETS); 66A: One-armed bandit (SLOT); 1D: Chips and nuts (SNACKS); 2D: "Way to go!" ("HOORAY!"); 3D: Little barn fliers (OWLETS); 4D: Cease-fire (TRUCE); 5D: L'eggs product (HOSE); 7D: Bureaucratic waste (RED TAPE); 10D: Puffed up, as a sprain (SWOLLEN); 11D: Make queasy (NAUSEATE); 12D: Throw wide of the mark, say (ERR); 13D: NFL gains (YDS.); 21D: Rests one's feet (SITS); 22D: Ham holder (RYE); 26D: Detroit-based financial org. (GMAC); 29D: Variously colored flower (PANSY); 30D: Small weight units (DRAMS); 31D: One way to lower an APR (REFI); 33D: Detest (HATE); 35D: Funny Bombeck (ERMA); 37D: Official spoken language of China (MANDARIN); 39D: Traveling show (CARNIVAL); 43D: Quotas (TARGETS); 44D: Leopold's co-defendant (LOEB); 46D: Hot dog holder (BUN); 49D: Snoopy's flying persona, e.g. (AIR ACE); 50D: Baseball's Jackson, a.k.a. "Mr. October" (REGGIE); 53D: It's a good thing (ASSET); 55D: Ex-senator Trent (LOTT); 56D: Genesis grandson (ENOS); 57D: Pixar clownfish (NEMO); 58D: Sch. near Harvard (MIT); 59D: Enzyme suffix (-ASE).

27 comments:

Crockett1947 said...

Nice write-up, PG. I didn't know there was a Kon-Tiki museum. That was such an epic journey that Thor Heyerdahl took -- one of my early reads as a teen-ager.

Have a great day.

GLowe said...

I always wondered if Crescent wrench = Monkey wrench or Pipe wrench. It seems neither, the Moncky was just the first adjustable wrench and it looks more like a portable clamp than anything.

"That handy tool, the "monkey-wrench", is not so named because it is a handy thing to monkey with, or for any kindred reason. "Monkey" is not its name at all, but "Moncky." Charles Moncky, the inventor of it, sold his patent for $2000 ..."

Anonymous said...

Man O'War is still alive?

ddbmc said...

Although, not a gut-wrenching theme (cue moans now), a solid one. Hadn't heard of Crescent wrench before, but I guess it is a brand, rather than a type? Thanks, @GLowe, for the Moncky wrench explanation.

I remember studying the "Beat Poets" in HS English class. Was asked to read a portion of one of Ginsberg's poems, out loud in class, only to discover that every other word was the F-bomb. Now, it would be nothing to read outloud!

LeRoi Jones,(aka Imamu Amirae Baraka, Amiri Baraka), founded Totem Press which published many of the Beat Generation poets (Ginsberg, Kerouac). As the former "Poet Laureate" of NJ, he wrote a very controversial poem after 9/11, basically implying that the Israelis knew of the impending targeting of the WTC. Then governor, Jim McGreevy, tried to expel Baraka from his titled post, only to discover there was no way to do so. A law was passed in 2003 to banish the "Poet Laureate" title in NJ. Needless to say, not long after, the Governor made his own controversial admission, which was a HOWL heard 'round the world...

Have also tried to teach my boys to avoid-"contempt prior to investigation," attributed to philosopher, Herbert Spencer(?) Thanks, PG, for the write up.

Sfingi said...

Loved the theme. Can't get enough of The Scream.
Agree with yuckiness of NE corner.

Did not know Disney voiced 1st Mickey, or KonTiki museum in Oslo.

Thanx Rex and Todd

22D Ham holder 48D Hotdog holder -
cute. Fast food for people working on the plumbing.

@Anonymous 7:55 - What's the rate of mortality? immortality?

Allen Ginsberg - Everyone should know the first lines of Howl, an epic of the times - "I saw the best minds of my generation, destroyed by madness, dragging themselves through the Negro streets at night, looking for an angry fix." The poem also mentions Utica.

64A CCI, could have had an alternate, algebraic answer mmx/x = mm (canceling out the x's). Are there ever any 2 letter words in a proper crossword puzzle?

@Glowe - just learned another interesting thing and will look up Mr. Moncky. Too bad his first name wasn't Allen. That was good $ in 1858. How about the ratchet wrench?

Djinn said...

Had daisy for pansy at first. Along with Rose, Heather and all, flowers are often girl's names. Up until the last draft, GWTW's main character was Pansy instead of Scarlet. Hard to imagine Pansy Butler. No?

@ddbmc: Crescent wrench is not a brand rather it's a tool named for its shape. Just like the rolls in the clue, the wrench is indeed crescent-shaped.

Thanks, PG for an amusing write-up, please enroll me in Crosswordese 401. I'm flummoxed as to how TAMIL is a certain Sri Lankan.

Joon said...

fyi on OSLO, it's only ever hosted the winter olympics once (in 1952). norway also had the 1994 games, but they were in lillehammer. (the only city to host the winter games twice is innsbruck.) i went to OSLO once, and fell virulently ill the day everybody else went to the munch museum and the kon-tiki museum, so i missed them, alas. on the bright side, i did get to spend the entire day in our hotel room throwing up. i remember learning exactly one word in norwegian: meny means menu. pretty wild, eh?

oh yeah, the puzzle. liked it well enough overall, but i hate hate hate the answer IS INTO. that is no good. are we going to permit [any form of "to be"] [any adjective] now? how about AM SMART and IS TALL?

i always have to think about whether it's ALLEN or ALLAN (but i usually get it right; only poe and pinkerton have ALLAN, i think) and GINSBERG or GINSBURG. i generally have to leave that one blank until the crossing word manifests itself, but i just looked it up and the only famous GINSBURG seems to be ruth bader. but i also have this problem when trying to spell clever crossword constructor matt ginsberg. for that matter, i always got the e/u guess wrong in brad wilber's name until i finally forced myself to memorize it.

Tuttle said...

Adjustable spanners are known as crescent wrenches in the US because they were first marketed by Cooper Tools under their Crescent brand. In Europe they are often referred to as 'bahcos' which is also a brand name.

Anon 7:55 said...

@SFingi - I was pretty sure the mortality rate of horses was 100% (at least up to those born over 40 years ago, I can't absolutely attest to those not yet dead), and the documented rate of immortality was 0%. Hence my confusion about Man O'War.

Djinn said...

@Tuttle: Thanks for adding the Cooper brand information. You're right! Then again, Cooper named the adjustable spanner wrench for it's shape, so we are both right.

shrub5 said...

Liked the wrench theme answers and clues. This was pretty smooth sailing except for a momentary stumble at 44D) LOEB: Leopold's co-defendant. Thought it was LOEw for a while. I did not know the nature of this case so looked it up:

In the 1920's, two very intelligent and accomplished young men from well-off families decided to kill a boy to see if they could carry off the perfect crime. They planned it over the course of a year. They may have gotten away with it but Leopold apparently dropped his glasses near the body and they were traced back to him. Both cracked eventually under questioning. They were sentenced to life in prison for the murder plus 99 years for kidnapping. Clarence Darrow was retained to defend them and he saved them from the death penalty. Many other interesting details (see wikipedia).

@PG: I'll never be tired of Brad Paisley videos and that one was touching. I also enjoyed Toronto's CN Tower pictured here. It was the tallest free-standing structure on land in the world until 2007 when a skyscaper in Dubai surpassed it.

Charles Bogle said...

liked the theme and the puzzle better AFTER coming here and reading PG's fine write-up and discovering there are things called ALLEN and CRESCENT for which one uses a wrench

BUT: let me toss in a legalism: The answer here for "Quotas" is TARGETS. Not so; trust me, I've litigated the issue in very high courts. Quotas are considered hard and fast; targets are loosey-goosey. Under the SCT's Bollinger v U of Michigan decision, quotas are unconstitutional but targets are ok under approriate circumstances. there. I feel better

Also did not at all like DOSO
But: better fill than what we'd gotten accustomed to. Interesting to conjure Allen Ginsberg, Leopold and Loeb, Katie Holmes, Reggie Jackson and Erma Bombeck in the same puzzle--now there's a mixed bag!

hazel said...

i like allen wrenches because they're so handy on my bike. and i kind-of like allen ginsberg, but mostly because I associate him with his friend and one of my favorite poets, Gary Snyder.

gespenst said...

I would have prefered "Make it so!" a la Jean Luc Picard ;)

Was pretty proud of myself for figuring out the "wrench" theme after only crescent and monkey.

Oh, and also proud of coming up w/ "crescentrolls" w/o any of the crosses!! Always gratifying to guess a long answer w/ no crosses, then see all the crosses fall into place :)

chefbea said...

Never heard of a crescent wrench either - Love the rolls.

Noticed the shout out to Mac also.

And thanks for the brad paisely clip singing with Opie's dad. That was great.

Foo Fighters/Monkey Wrench said...

ddbmc says:

Thanks, @Djinn and Tuttle, for the crescent wrench info.It's a brand and a type! Like two mints in one! I have several of both types, but didn't know the Moncky wrench was what I call the plumber's wrench.

Foo Fighter's have a song: "Monkey Wrench." Guess I'm not hip or hep, as I never knew....

Loved Opie's dad in "Waitress" too. Sweet movie, but sad story about the writer/actress-Adrienne Shelley. Love that Brad Paisley, too!

mac said...

Hello from sunny London! I liked the puzzle, but then I like tools and gadgets. The only term I didn't know was the crescent one, but the name makes sence.

Caf for coffee is new to me. Caf is short for cafe in cockney, you can hear them use the term in the "Eastenders"!

@chefbea: and a shoutout in the clues in the NYT! Half of one of today's theme answers also appears in that puzzle.

Joon said...

mac, CAF isn't short for coffee. a "half-caf" is a coffee order that's a 50/50 blend of regular and decaf.

Lurene said...

Where can you say "reveal clue"? Or see that? Also how does one remove a comment she thought better of saying? I see some do.

Lex said...

@Joon: In addition to Innsbruck (1964, 1976), two other cities have hosted the Winter Olympics twice: St. Moritz, Switzerland (1928, 1948) and Lake Placid, New York (1932, 1980).

I thought this was a very nice puzzle. Very smooth theme, lots of nice fill. Liked the many long downs such as OPEN MIND, RED TAPE, SKYLINE. Todd Gross was the creator of that unique Sunday NYT a few weeks back, yes? Look forward to seeing more from him. Thanks, Todd!

And thanks to PuzzleGirl for another fun write-up!

shrub5 said...

@Lurene: If you publish a comment that you have second thoughts about, you can click on the little trash can icon at the bottom of your message to delete it.

JIMMIE said...

The wrenches were familiar to me, having done some mechanical work. I also use what is called a box wrench, as opposed to an OPEN end wrench, per 6d.

Here in california, we order halfcaf all the time. See Steve Martin's L.A. Story for a funny spoof on halfcaf.

Parsan said...

Joon mentioned the Kon-Tiki Museum in OSLO which ties in with THOR, not the god, but Heyerdahl, the scientist-builder of the Kon-Tiki raft as it is called. Before seeing it, I assumed it had sailed in Scandanavia, but it was built mainly of balsa wood in Peru and sailed thousands of miles to prove such a boat could, and did, sail to and settle the Polynesian Islands. His theory is greatly discredited today. The craft looks like a bigger version of something Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer might build. I could not imagine it on the open seas. A much sturdier ship is the Vasa in a museum in Stockholm which sunk before it could get out of the harbor. Obvious ship designing is very tricky.

My husband once played jazz while ALLEN GINSBERG read poety in a club in North Beach, San Francisco at what was called a "happening", while long haired guys and painted white-faced girls snapped their fingers in appreciation. The band thought it was really weird!

Anonymous said...

@Lurene - The "reveal clue" here is 48D, "What the starred clues ..." It's just the clue that ties the thematic clues together. Here the theme entries are starred, and the reveal clue is clearly presented, though this may not be the case in more difficult, subtler, crosswords.

Joon said...

lex: yikes, i thought i explicitly checked out lake placid because i had some nagging part of my brain that was telling me it had hosted the winter games twice, but it looks like i just plain missed 1932 when my eyes scanned the list. st moritz i certainly did not know about, and i guess it didn't notice that either. thanks for checking up.

wilsch said...

Good theme. I have all the wrenches referenced plus a strap wrench and a basin wrench. An Allen wrench is not actually a wrench in the true sense because it doesn't grip, but inserts like a screwdriver, but with a hexagonal blade in varying sizes. A couple of weeks ago, I thought I was getting really good at the LAT puzzle, but it does seem much easier than before, and easier than the old TMS puzzle that it replaced in most papers.

Sfingi said...

@Joon - wow - wish I were there.
The Beats rule on both coasts.

Now, I'll drop some names. My husband went to Law School with with Joe Biden. Also in the class was Jeff Lyons, the film critic, and son of Leonard Lyons of NY Post's Lyon's Den, and when the Dean said Leopold and Loeb deserved the death penalty, Mr Lyons said, "I knew Nathan Leopold,"(and he did good things after his release.)

I decided not to go to Lake Placid in 1980 even though it was an hour away because I thought it would be too crowded. It turned out, because it was an unusually snowless and cold year, no one came, and I could have had my choice of events. Friends watched us beat the Russkies at hockey, etc. It was the first time for artificial snow at the Olympics.

Berg/Burg - Berg is a mountain, pronounced "Bairg." Burg is a fortress, fortressed town, pronounced "Boorg." Hence eventually Burgher, Burghermeister (mayor), burgess, bourgeois, etc.
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott =
A mighty fortress is our God, is Luther's hymn. I try to make a picture including the hill or fortress with the person named.