WEDNESDAY, October 14, 2009—Charles Barasch

THEME: "76 Trombones – 73 Trombones = 3 Trombones"—Three phrases that have nothing to do with musical instruments are clued as if they do

(I didn't actually watch that clip, nor have I see the musical in its entirety. Or in part. Musicals are not my bag.)

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Big Southwestern trombones? (TEXAS LONGHORNS). The Texas Longhorns are both a college sports team and a breed of cattle (and beetles!). I was going to include a photo of the Asian long-horned beetles that pose a threat to American trees, but they were too creepy-looking and gave me the willies.
  • 37A: Refined trombones? (POLISHED BRASS). Horns are brass instruments, which, like anything brass, likes a good polishing. I'm thinking this answer isn't quite an in-the-language phrase like the crisp TEXAS LONGHORNS is.
  • 54A: Continuously-playing trombones? (SUSTAINED WINDS). You could argue that this isn't an in-the-language term either, but you would be shouted down by Weather Channel junkies who like to watch hurricane coverage. Hurricane season's almost over—hooray for fewer bad storms than in recent years. But the Weather Channel's been more boring this summer.
So, just three theme entries today. Luckily, the constructor capitalized on that by including some fun words, 20 answers in the six- to eight-letter range, and only a couple clunkers. I'll put the seven-letter partial phrase ON EARTH (22D: Lord's Prayer words following "Thy will be done") in the latter category, along with the seldom seen partial 4D: EEK A "__ mouse!". Oh, and SHES, clued as 33D: Women. Any of you ever use the plural SHES? No? I thought not.

And now for the good stuff:
  • 41A: Imitation (ERSATZ). It's got a Z and it's fun to say.
  • 45A: Musical beat (RHYTHM). It took me years to learn how to spell this right. Gotta love a word with a Y and five consonants.
  • 3D: Loud auto honker of yore (KLAXON). This "electric horn or a similar loud warning device" takes its name from the company that manufactured it in the early 20th century. Cool word. You want to know what a KLAXON sounds like these days? Please turn your speakers down, way down, for this:

  • 36D: Slow-moving, as a river (LAZY). That's a lovely clue for LAZY.
  • 44D: Crystalline mineral (QUARTZ). I like this because (1) I like me a little geology, (2) it comes in pretty colors, and (3) a Q! and a Z! And now I'm thinking about quarts of milk, which took me to that Simpsons episode where mosbter Fat Tony has been selling rat milk to the schools and Mayor Quimby declares, "You promised me dog or better." That line? It never gets old.
Crosswordese 101: Yesterday, PuzzleGirl wanted to cover OKAPI but found it had already been the subject of a CW 101 tutorial. A-ha! There's still a certain 7D: Large antelope called the ELAND that wants its moment in the sun. No, it's not e-Land, where we gather on the internet. It's a really large antelope. I think of antelopes as between a goat and a Shetland pony in size, but that behemoth easily outweighs a zebra. Key words you may see in ELAND clues include (1) spiral- or twisty-horned; (2) African, Kenyan, veldt, or Serengeti; and (3) oxlike—because yo, that thing is big. Doing the Google image search made me sad because about 20% of the photos showed a human hunter with his felled ELAND prey.

Everything Else — 1A: Made a disapproving sound (TSKED); 6A: Witticism (JEST); 10A: Highlander (SCOT); 14A: Cop __: bargain in court (A PLEA); 15A: Healing plant (ALOE); 16A: Oregon Treaty president (POLK); 17A: Trembling (SHAKY); 18A: Having all one's marbles (SANE); 19A: Word processing reversal (UNDO); 23A: Ending for "ranch" (-ERO); 24A: Neither Rep. nor Dem. (IND.); 25A: Thing (ENTITY); 27A: Madame, in Madrid (SEÑORA); 30A: Wide shoe size (EEE); 31A: Geese flight pattern (VEE); 32A: Actress Greer who received five consecutive Oscar nominations (GARSON); 35A: At the ready (ALERT); 40A: Made on a loom (WOVEN); 42A: Med or law lead-in (PRE-); 43A: Command ctrs. (HQS); 49A: Wells's "The Island of Dr. __" (MOREAU); 51A: Fill with wonder (AWE); 53A: Jr.'s son (III); 58A: Clenched weapon (FIST); 59A: Mechanical memorization (ROTE); 60A: Remark to the audience (ASIDE); 61A: To __: perfectly (A TEE); 62A: Sporty sunroof (T-TOP); 63A: Baseball card brand (FLEER); 64A: Wall St.'s "Big Board" (NYSE); 65A: Clownish (ZANY); 66A: Shore birds (TERNS); 1D: Samples a bit of (TASTES); 2D: Ball (SPHERE); 5D: Weekly septet (DAYS); 6D: Argonauts' leader (JASON); 8D: Tune (SONG); 9D: Dainty laugh (TEEHEE); 10D: Sudden gushing (SPURT); 11D: Conspires (with) (CONNIVES); 12D: Octogenarians, e.g. (OLDSTERS); 13D: Boxing ref's decision (TKO); 21D: Whopper creators (LIARS); 26D: Thus far (YET); 28D: Eye unsubtly (OGLE); 29D: Drizzly day chapeau (RAIN HAT); 30D: Some pass catchers (ENDS); 34D: Above, in poems (O'ER); 37D: Penetrable quality of skin (POROSITY); 38D: Makes a cliché of, say (OVERUSES); 39D: Exposed (BARED); 40D: Typist's stat. (WPM); 46D: More petite (TINIER); 47D: Like eggs in an Easter hunt (HIDDEN); 48D: Skinflints (MISERS); 50D: Big name in perfumery (ESTEE); 51D: Dramatist Chekhov (ANTON); 52D: Tearful (WEEPY); 55D: Letter after theta (IOTA); 56D: Drift, as an aroma (WAFT); 57D: Shipwreck site (ISLE); 58D: Air mover (FAN).


Gareth Bain said...

POLISHED BRASS seem to be at the very 2 words that just go together even if they're no more than the sum of their parts...

Liked the way the theme took the synonym-type theme, and turned it into a pun-type, which was a nice extra layer...

Elands, not just a large antelope, but the largest antelope. Despite being a city slicker, I've been up close to them a few times, they are big, not particularly lively though. Actually comes from the Dutch for "elk" which should further emphasize the size.

Did you mention it's a pangram, BTW.


Gareth Bain said...

Sorry "at the very least"

Rex Parker said...


Did not like this one from the jump. Your 1A is TSKED? Crossed witih EEKA? FAIL.

Never liked RAIN HAT. Or SHES. Or ATEE.

Loved ERSATZ. Would have loved KLAXON if it weren't implicated in that TSKED corner.


docmoreau said...

Finished this one in line at the grocers...and it was the express line! My favorite clue, of course, was 49a "Wells's "The Island of Dr__."

Dan said...

LOL at your "title", Orange! The theme cluing is bizarre - why trombones? Because they're the "long" horns? Also, trombones are not considered "winds".

Anyway, here's the most notable use of ELAND in crossword history...

john farmer said...

I thought POLISHED BRASS was fine. Next time you're in the home decor section, you'll find items that are "polished brass" along with "stainless steel," "brushed nickel," and "oil-rubbed bronze." Those are marketing terms. "Polished brass" is not just the same as, say, "shiny brass," which may be an apt descriptive term but wouldn't stand on its own as a crossword entry. That's my two cents, anyway.

Except for a little too much on the partials, and the SHES clue, I thought it was a pretty solid puzzle.

*David* said...

A TEE, TEE HEE, EEE. ESTEE, EEK A, somone likes their E's in multiples.

Joon said...

dan, i'm not a professional musician, but back in middle school, i was in the wind ensemble, and both brass and woodwinds were considered "winds." of course, we also had percussion in the wind ensemble, and i can't really explain that one. maybe it should have been called the everything-but-strings ensemble.

my solving experience was colored more by the good stuff (KLAXON, QUARTZ, CONNIVES, ERSATZ, RHYTHM) than the bad, so i liked this one. in retrospect, though, the bad stuff is pretty bad. EEK A really reek-a's, and crossing TSKED and A PLEA is particularly unpleasant. III and EEE in the same puzzle? ay yai yai! (holy crap, i just had an existential breakdown trying to spell that.)

i can't decide if ON EARTH is a partial. it certainly is when clued from the our father, but what if you clued it as {Anywhere}? that's a much harder clue, of course (too hard for the current LAT, even on a saturday... *sigh*), but it at least passes the substitution test, and i feel like the idiomatic usage of ON EARTH is substantially different from the literal meaning. i'll keep it in my word list.

shrub5 said...

I did not feel any increase in difficulty with this puzzle over Monday's and Tuesday's puzzles, in fact it seemed a bit easier.

My first thought at 21D) Whopper creators was Burger King but there were just 5 spaces! As @Orange likes to say, there were several "Scrabbly" letters to be found. Could really clean up in Scrabble with QUARTZ spanning a triple word score.

I don't think I've ever thought of POROSITY in terms of skin, mainly just rocks or soil. New words for me today were FLEER baseball cards and KLAXON horns.

Orange said...

@shrub5, I just played QUIZ across a double word score square, and it ran alongside INFANTE so I got points for QI, UN, IF, and ZA as well. 99 points!

chefbea said...

Easy Wednesday puzzle.

I remember Fleers double bubble gum before they came out with the baseball cards. Guess that's because I'm an octogenarian (or a geezer)

GLowe said...

I think if you're touching terra firma you're ON EARTH.

According to wikipedia (altogether now, everyone say WIKIPEDIA!?! in a mocking tone while wrinkling your noses) there are two types of winds: Brass instruments, and Woodwind instruments.

The trombone is part of the slide family family that includes the SACKBUT and the BAZOOKA !

I can see it now: 1-A: "One of the slide family that includes the bazooka" [SACKBUT] / Blogs: "... as a retired philharmonic orchestra conductor, I wanted 2 T's at the end, but still my fastest solve ever!"

shrub5 said...

@Orange: WOW! Is that a personal best? My guess is you've probably made more points when you've used all seven tiles in one turn to get that extra 50 points. The play you described, though, really shows the importance of knowing your oddball two-letter words.

Orange said...

I think 97 points is my max for a rack-clearer.

C said...

The good thing about the easy-fication of the LAT puzzle, is that my quest for more difficult content has forced me to seek out other puzzles from other constructors and that is a good thing. Thanks for the links on the blogs, very much appreciated.

I have no problem with EEKA or TSKED, much better than EERO or a variation spelling of an ancient city I have never heard of. Easy but fun puzzle.

I thought the SUSTAINED WINDS answer wasn't in regards to the family of instruments the trombone belongs rather what is required to play trombones for an extended period. Just my opinion.

Parsan said...

@JOHNSNEVERHOME--where are you?

@Joon--Also played in a wind ensemble (clarinet) and the director called the BRASS instruments "brasswinds". Once drove waaaay out of our way with my musician husband to South Bend, Indiana to the Woodwind and Brasswind Music Center, mecca for amateur and professional musician alike.

The more common useage classifies instruments into strings, woodwinds, percussion, and brass. However, some woodwinds are made of wood and some are not (metal; Ornett Coleman's plastic saxophone), and the wooden reeds used can be plastic. Flutes and piccolos are often metal and use no reeds. And brass is a generic term, for they can be made of other metal.

I guess the theme says HORNS are BRASSWINDS.

Confused by who was President of the Oregon Treaty (16a) before realizing it meant POLK, in office at the time.

My brother had a huge collection of FLEER baseball cards that my mother finally threw out, and then baseball cards became wildly collectable. Who knew!

Enjoyed the write-up!

Anonymous said...

Part of a crossword puzzle is the way it can stretch your imagination, like how a trombone player stretches the slide. Some people take the puzzle way too seriously. I found today's puzzle fairly enjoyable. Enjoyed Parsan's and Rex's take as always. Hook 'em horns!

Charles Bogle said...

@joon: you and I liked and disliked the very same things and just come out on opposite sides in the final analysis: I thought all the bad (SHES, EEKA, VEE, OER, III, ERO etc) more than out-weighed the good (CONNIVES. ERSATZ, KLAXON)...personally I think the puzzle is a step down from some recent positive ones; good write-up @orange; just too many "clunkers" for me

Low point: RAINHAT

JIMMIE said...

All of us, theist and athiest alike, got coerced into saying, or thinking at least, one line of the Lord's Prayer today. Wasn't that easy?

By the way, Joon, thanks for the LA Lady clarification of MOJO yesterday.

Nice writeup, Orange.

Bohica said...

Started in the NW corner and immediately didn't like this puzzle, TSKED and EEKA just ruined it for me.

Didn't even notice KLAXON until I came here. There were some redeeming words as all of you have mentioned, but after being put-off so quickly my mood refused to brighten.

Margaret said...

I wasn't able to open the .PUZ link, so I am missing out on the "most notable use of ELAND in crossword history." :-(

BTW, I am not a huge musical fan, but I do love The Music Man. Robert Preston is so wonderful in it (of course, he's pretty wonderful in everything he's ever been in.) Plus Mary Wickes! Little Ronny Howard! Hermione Gingold! Those fabulous end credits!

Sfingi said...

Easy, fun, cute.

"I polished up the handle so carefully,
That now I am the ruler of the Queen's navy." Gilbert and Sullivan.
Also, polishing the brass can mean buttering up, the brass being the officers.

Grand Klaxon was an office in the Ku Klux Klan - The PR guy.

How about the largest size (contrabass) clarinet - it's metal. What metal, I don't know. Maybe chrome-plated brass. My son played it since he had "big lungs,"
and because I wouldn't let him quit the group just because they were all girls. The latest material in small winds and strings is some sort of carbon - very light, black, withstands temperatures.

I always said, if everyone was like me, the only sport would be Scrabble since Chess is too violent.

OK. what's with the Simpsons Fat Tony?

Jazzbumpa said...

As an actual living trombonist, I would like to assure you all that the trombone is indeed a wind instrument. Sometimes a conductor will use the word "winds" meaning woodwinds and French horns, and "brass" to mean us sliders and the trumpets. What kind of sense does that make?

Well, usages vary, but the trombone is unquestionably a wind instrument.

JzB the blowhard trombonist