3.10.2010

WEDNESDAY, March 10, 2010—Gary Steinmehl



THEME: "Tie Me Up, Ty Me Down"—There are five familiar ways to spell the "tie" sound (plus the less common tye, meaning a ship's rope but used only in desperation on crosswords). Five phrases beginning with these words/names appear at the start of the theme entries.

Theme entries:
  • 17A: [National sport of South Korea] (TAE KWON DO). My husband's nephews and niece have all been into tae kwon do, which is perhaps the hardest-to-spell martial art. I'll bet jujitsu/jiujitsu would be more popular if it were easier to spell.
  • 29A: [Longtime skating partner of Randy Gardner] (TAI BABILONIA). They were big in the late '70s.
  • 38A: [Places to order tom yum goong] (THAI RESTAURANTS). The plural is undesirable but you can't center a 14-letter answer in a 15-square space.
  • 47A: [Host of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"] (TY PENNINGTON). If I'm ever in the mood to have a good cry on a Sunday evening, Ty is there to help. The show is emotionally manipulative to be sure...but sometimes you just want to see a heartbreaking true story with a happy ending.
  • 65A: [Overtime causes] (TIE SCORES). I feel like tied score and tie game are slightly more "in the language," but don't look to me for expertise in sports lingo.

I like the theme, but oy! The rest of this puzzle...the fill was vexing me. Not because it was hard (it wasn't) but because it had lots of uninspired fill. Now, SKEPTICAL was great (3D: [Having one's doubts]) and I like the COMRADE/JUDAISM pair, but overall I was underwhelmed by the fill. Here's why:
  • French! The first (1A: PAS [__ de deux]) and last (73A: [Rimsky-Korsakov's "Le Coq __"] D'OR) Across answers are 3-letter French fill-in-the-blanks. Then there's ST. LO, the 37D: [Normandy battle site] in France, which crosses another 3-letter French FITB, JUS (35A: [Au __: menu phrase]).
  • Crosswordese musicians! Either ENO (5D: [Ambient music composer Brian]) or ELO (44A: ["Xanadu" band, for short]) is enough. We don't need two of 'em. On the bright side, Yoko ONO took the day off.



  • Classic crosswordese! 68A: NACRE/[Mother-of-pearl] has been in puzzles more than in daily life for decades. The ULNA is bad enough in its basic form, and its two accepted plurals (ULNAS, ULNAE) can vex, but 53D: ULNAR/[Of an arm bone] is creaky. There's not really any interesting way to clue a word like ULNAR. No gathering of classic crosswordese is complete without a 4-letter European river, is it? Here's the YSER (62D: [River of Flanders]). You've gotta have some sort of Eastern potentate too, be it an EMIR/AMIR/EMEER or a RAJA/RAJAH or a RANI/RANEE. This time, it's RAJA (28D: [Big Indian]).
  • Inexplicable abbreviation! 67D is CPS, an [Early computer printer speed]. Something per second, but what? Googling...characters per second, I think. Ah, yes, the shabby old dot matrix printer days, when printing wasn't measured by the page.
Favorite clues:
  • 15A. [Where the ecstatic walk], metaphorically, is ON AIR. Good example of how a lively clue can rescue dull fill.
  • 23A. [Jon Stewart's "moment of __"] ZEN appears at the end of each Daily Show episode.
  • 55A. [Caesar's unlucky number?] is 13 in Roman numerals: XIII. See what I mean about lively clueing?
  • 22D. [Bricks unit] clues a TON, as in the phrase "it hit me like a ton of bricks."
  • 61D. Holy cow! AERO is clued as [Musical prefix with smith?], referencing Aerosmith. Love this clue!

This is the Right in Rex's Wheelhouse puzzle when it comes to pictures and video, I must say. There's also his beloved Teri GARR (25D: ["Mr. Mom" actress]).

Crosswordese 101:—See XW101 links above.

Everything Else — 4A: Therapy center, for short (REHAB); 9A: Parts of fast food orders (SODAS); 14A: Four-legged bugler (ELK); 16A: Salt's "Halt!" ("AVAST!"); 19A: Having a beanpole physique (LANKY); 20A: "Baseball Tonight" station (ESPN); 21A: Year-end mall temp (SANTA); 24A: Like drive-thru orders (TO-GO); 27A: Bosom buddy (COMRADE); 33A: The Trojans of the Pac-10 (USC); 34A: Go hither and yon (ROVE); 45A: __ time: pronto (IN NO); 46A: Like some grins (SLY); 52A: 12 Tribes religion (JUDAISM); 56A: Schooner filler (ALE); 57A: One of the Yokums (PAPPY); 60A: Pre-dye shade, perhaps (GRAY); 63A: Open, in a way (UNCAP); 69A: In first place (ON TOP); 70A: Prior to, in verse (ERE); 71A: Tiny amount (TRACE); 72A: Tack room gear (REINS); 1D: "Our Gang" dog (PETE); 2D: Word of pity (ALAS); 4D: Heed the coxswain (ROW); 6D: Brinker of kiddie lit (HANS); 7D: Operatic slave girl (AIDA); 8D: Old Ford SUV (BRONCO); 9D: Sub meat (SALAMI); 10D: In vitro cells (OVA); 11D: Tony of "Who's the Boss?" (DANZA); 12D: Part of FAQ (ASKED); 13D: "Gypsy" composer Jule (STYNE); 18D: Door feature (KNOB); 26D: Instrument to which an orchestra tunes (OBOE); 29D: Word of rebuke (TUT); 30D: Big Apple tennis stadium (ASHE); 31D: Drips in an ICU (IVS); 32D: Open the door to (LET IN); 36D: Like 007's martinis (UNSTIRRED); 39D: Wee bit (IOTA); 40D: Gothic novelist Radcliffe (ANN); 41D: Operating system developed at Bell Labs (UNIX); 42D: Rice-A-__ (RONI); 43D: Roget entry: Abbr. (SYN.); 48D: "Hooray!" ("YIPPEE!"); 49D: Non-commercial TV spot (PSA); 50D: Caveat __ (EMPTOR); 51D: Computer acronym about faulty data (GIGO); 52D: Quick trip (JAUNT); 54D: Bing Crosby's primary label (DECCA); 58D: Bench material (PINE); 59D: Hairy mountain sighting (YETI); 64D: Slo-pitch path (ARC); 66D: Zak, to Ringo (SON).

33 comments:

astoriared said...

Caesar's unlucky day was March 15 (xv) not xiii. The Ides of March are on the 15th, not the 13th.

Orange said...

@astoriared, the clue's just playing with the superstition of 13 being unlucky, and using Caesar to signal a Roman numeral, not a date.

gespenst said...

@astoriared: I was thinking that as well ... I guess they're just playing on 13 being unlucky in general ... Caesar is only there to tell us to put it in Roman numerals.

ULNAR could have been clued as something like: "Funny nerve?" b/c the ulnar nerve is the one you twinge when you hit your "funny bone."

I got Tai Babilonia w/ only a few crosses, surprising to me, and then I actually got the theme, w/ only 2 theme answers! Woo-hoo for me! Ok, ok, it's not a difficult theme to figure out, but still...

12 Tribes Religion should have been a gimme, but I read it as "Region" and couldn't get Israel to fit.

Similarly, I knew Teri Garr was Mr. Mom's wife, but for some reason I was trying to fit her in the 22D slot rather than 25D. That vexed me a bit.

Other than that, pretty straightforward. I don't mind the language clues so much (b/c I often know them) though you'd think I'd have STLO tattooed on my brain by now. It's always an "oooooh, right!" moment when I fill that one in w/ crosses.

I liked the puzzle overall, but I'm not as harsh a critic as our esteemed hosts :) (especially Rex, lol).

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

This was a super fun puzzle to do… clever theme, cute clues, crazy entries…loved it !!!
A “homophonic holiday”.

Then there were some sneaky clues, like 14A. The eyes saw “Four-legged BURGLER”, but in fact, it was BUGLER.
And 21A, we were tricked into thinking the clue was “Year-end MAIL temp”, but ALAS, it was indeed MALL temp. I love stuff like this in puzzles.

Okay, we’ve had mention of Teri GARR twice this week, so now we MUST do some research---
I’ve always thought that David Letterman and Ms. GARR had a little something going… they were quite a pair in their little TV tête-à-têtes. Here’s a clip of his 1987 Christmas Show. TERI GARR
Isn’t she a charmer? Well she sure could charm the pants off of me!

Now the other research item: We see ENO and ELO over and over. So who is this dude Brian ENO? And what’s this ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) all about? Well here’s a clip of ELO doing XANADU. Cute little “Sheila”, huh? ELO is a great sound and it’s time we salute them as something more than just a CW entry.
Ooops, I think Orange had the same idea. Oh well! TUTS to me.

Time for my first coffee… see ya later y’all!

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Sorry for the clip duplication... I do my comments much earlier than the blog postings. My bad!

Anyway, great minds think alike.

I always thought the "our gang" dog was named PETEY. Am I wrong?

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

"Uninspired fill"???
I just don't understand why you say that.
Words like STYNE, PAPPY, SKEPTICAL, LANKY, REHAB, UNSTIRRED, ON AIR, YIPPEE, COMRADE, DANZA, BRONCO, EMPTOR, JUDAISM, and DECCA... you call those "uninspired" and "dull"?
Sheeesh!

Orange said...

@JNH: If you'd seen ON AIR in the grid as many times as I have...

Plus, I singled out SKEPTICAL, COMRADE, and JUDAISM as good fill.

COMRADE DANZA was SKEPTICAL that PAPPY's stint in REHAB had worked.

Van55 said...

I agree with Orange 100% today.

Somehow this one felt like a NYT Monday to me.

the redanman said...

@Orange et. al. I rather liked this one, the NYT is the real clunker today. CW101 - now are we supposed to love it, hate it or just accept it? If there's any it's crap? I don't get it. At least this theme was solid with the homophones.

I had IDES before XIII and thought it reasonable. COKES and COLAS before SODAS, good clue to make me think three equally good answers for it in my book.

Just one Q - Why don't we ever see Brian ENO for his Roxy stint? that was a very solid act for years, with and without Eno.

Way higher on the fun factor and reward than today's NYT counterpart.

Oh heck, I'm a puzzle dunce, what do I know?

grumb as in grumble, grumble, I guess ...

YIPPEEEEE

Orange said...

@red, my basic philosophy on crosswordese is: Tolerate it in moderate amounts because it's pretty much inevitable that you'll have some repeaters. But when my spidey sense tingles because there's too much of it, there had better be a damn good reason for it. Is the theme dense, fresh, and entertaining? Is there other sparkling fill to offset it? Then maybe a slew of crosswordese can be tolerable. But if the rest of the puzzle doesn't knock my socks off, it leaves me wishing the constructor had reworked the fill to freshen things up a tad.

the redanman said...

@Anaranjado ;-) Gracias!

Anyone else ever see Teri Garr on her coked-up late night show run about 8-10 years back? Pretty obvious.

Señor


resmente THAT should be a word! En Español

*David* said...

Two things, one I'm happy that ELK wasn't a Yellowstone grazer and BRONCO has got to be clued with something to do with OJ.

Tinbeni said...

"Shakene NOT Stirred" is how 007, James Bond orders his (watered down) Martini in the movies.
UNSTIRRED was TUT, TUT, YUCK!

@JNH - I was thinking Petey also. ALAS it wouldn't fit so I entered PETE and google yielded this:
"the Our Gang kids acquired an American Pit Bull Terrier with a ring around his eye; originally named "Pansy", the dog soon became known as Pete the Pup, the most famous Our Gang pet."

Did not mispell TAE this time (I guess that's just a BY ROTE learning experience from yesterday).

@Orange covered probably every point I could say about this puzzle.
@Rex, @JNH & @Lit.doc can have their unrequited love of Ms.Garr.
Olivia is mine. Thanks for the clip.

imsdave said...

DPI (dots per inch) - that's the only computer thing I could think of - not a big hitch, but CPS means nothing to me. Perfectly fine Wednesday fare.

Have a good long weekend all - I know I will - off to FL for dad's 90th.

Admonition to a donkey? 60's lib slogan? - BRANOT - I hate these things, but know why they're here - better than dealing with oriental hookers.

lit.doc said...

@Orange, once again it didn’t even occur to me to look for a theme. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Also, in total agreement re favorite clues. Lots here to enjoy, despite its being Monday fast. And your write-up was educational—I thought “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was another remodeling “reality show”.

@gespenst, me too re 52A reading “12 Tribes region”, but was filling in squares too fast to more than mutter under my breath. Reread clue when done and laughed.

“Elevate me, nurse”.

Tinbeni said...

Some interesting info as to why shaken, not stirred?

According to a study at the Dept. of Biochemistry at the Univ. of W. Ontario in Canada to determine if the preparation of a martini has an influence on their antioxidant capacity, the shaken gin martinis were able to break down hydrogen peroxide and leave only 0.072% of the peroxide behind, versus the stirred gin martini which left behind 0.157% of the peroxide.

The study was done at the time because moderate consumption of alcohol appears to reduce the risk of cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, none of which afflict James Bond.

Also, Ian Flemming thought that stirring a drink diminished its flavour. He preferred gin and vermouth for his martini.

All of the above notwithstanding;
I still prefer Scotch in a Snifter Glass, Neat.

Orange said...

@lit.doc: On "EM: HO," they take a hard-luck family who needs a bigger and better house, send them away for a week's paid vacation. During that week, they rally the local community and local contractors to supplement the show's professional builders and designers, rip everything up, and make the house gloriously better, with rooms custom-designed to meet individual family members' needs and interests. The most awesomest bedroom a kid could have? They outfit a bunch of 'em. They decorate with things that have deep personal importance to people. And then the family comes back from vacation to be bowled over, and everyone has a happy cry. This formula, by gum, it works.

Rex Parker said...

Garr has MS. Never heard anything about coke. Never heard anyone use her name and "coke" in the same sentence.

Garr on cocaine: "Any movie I've ever made, the minute you walk on the set they tell you who's the person to buy it from. Cher said they're going to make two monuments to us - the two girls who lived through Hollywood and never had cocaine."

Tuttle said...

Actually, in ancient Rome 17 was the unlucky number since XVII used the same characters as the common gravestone inscription VIXI, "I Lived".

crazycatlady said...

I thought the Our Gang dog was PETEY too. Better PETE than Pansy. I still always confuse YETI and LOKI. Don't think I'll ever remember ST LO, but finally have YSER tatooed on my brain. I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to the European rivers except for the ARNO. Love Extreme Makeover HE and TY P. I miss Teri GARR. Always thought she was so funny.
On a sports clue note: I am probably the only person in SoCal who is UNSTIRRED when USC wins. I know way too many fans and alums who don their red and yellow gay apparel on game days. I say TUT TUT to that. Guess you can say I'm a tad SKEPTICAL.

lit.doc said...

@Orange, thanks for the come-back. Very glad to hear that it's for real, and that good deeds can still get good ratings.

ddbmc said...

@Redaman, @Rex is right. Ms. Garr suffers from MS! @JNH, always got a kick out of her and Letterman. Wondered, too, if they didn't have a little "thing going on..." Based on recent Letterman revlations, they might have!
Loved the pix of DiDi Conn (Edith Bernstein). She's got a great 1st (faux) name!!

Haven't been here in a while. I always knew "Our Gang" dog as Petey, too. Didn't care for the Caesar clue--wanted IDES or 15 (don't make me do those damn Roman numerals...)Agree with @Orange on Ulna e-r-n-!
Being a Jon Stewart fan, ZEN made me laugh.
@Tinbeni, heading to FL with the fam, how's the weather, any warmer?

JIMMIE said...

CPS is "Characters per second" from back in the day of impact printers, way before dot matrix advanced it to ppm, or pages per minute.

Tinbeni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Bogle said...

am totally w @orange--really clever theme, but some w-t-f and arcane or too pop-culturist fill detracted IMO

@redanman totally agree w you abt today's NYT being from hell (or wa that yesterday...)

@JNH: so glad to see PETE instead of ASTA!

Sfingi said...

@Orange - agree with all you said.
I didn't notice a theme until I got to your write up.

I had to Google for USC- what was that? (Skip the next sentence, those who still think I'm a lady) A 10-pack of Trojans?
I got the other 5 sports clues
IN NO time.

I had at first: SiDeS for SODAS, "fast" for TOGO.

Never heard of THI BABILONIA.

The YSER is 302 mi. from St. Lo.

MS - terrible. So has Capt. Beefheat, Cuban actress Lola Falana and ex-Utican Annette Funicello.

Bad day today - signed to buy new boiler at 8large incl. labor. Maybe it'll turn out to be a good thing - next year.

crazycatlady said...

@Sfingi - LOL re: the Trojans. USC is also known as University of Spoiled Children by those who attend UCLA. My son may be going to grad school @ USC, so I guess I should be nice. They do have crazy fans though. Sorry about your boiler. That's a drag.

Tinbeni said...

@ddbmc
The weather is perfect.
email me an I will give details
(Its in the blue name)

@Sfingi
We all know your least favorite thing is sports.
ALAS, this puzzle had a few.
[Hey, tomorrow there will be Opera, other than AIDA, Symphony Conductors, Old English Lit. Authors, and my ass will be chewed.]
But you had me ROF,LMAO with the comment about USC, 10 pack Trojans.
A Sfingi classic!
8Large boiler, Ouch!!!

@Crazycatlady
I know what you mean re:USC.
I live in the land of the Fla. Gators/FSU Seminoles.
UNSTIRRED by their rantings.

Upon further review I admit I liked the 5 themes.
But as to the rest ... 'O' what a puzzle.
AERO GIGO, INNO BRONCO TOGO STLO ELO ENO...pu

the redanman said...

@Tinbeni

Neat whisky yes, but best with a few drops of water to further bring out the flavour

Brucie the seed merchant from Carnoustie taught me to drink whisky properly! Now I'll pass it on to you.

cheers!

Bill

Tinbeni said...

@Redanman (Bill)
When it comes to me consuming water I always go to the Authority on the subject.

W.C.Fields (aka Charles Bogle):
I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.
I never drink water. I'm afraid it will become habit-forming.

I temper that with Henry David Thoreau:
Water is the only drink for a wise man.

Scotch IS the "water of life" ... Aqua vitae, Uisge-beatha, Eau de vie. I learned how to drink it on Scotch Street in Carlisle (Yes, there really is this blvd).
And remember the distiller added water already to bring down the proof.
After 35+ years ... I'll stay Neat.

mac said...

This one was very quick, with just a few temporary mistakes: wry for sly grins, tsk for tut and sides for sodas. I couldn't believe Tai Babilonia just typed itself into the grid! Not so much Ty Pennington, but no hard crosses.

the redanman said...

@Tinbeni

Even better than Scotch Street is the

National Whisky Centre

on the Royal Mile, just before you enter Edinburgh Castle (it's on the left) Usually 400-500 whiskies on premise

What a country! (and golf, too)