FRIDAY, Apr. 23, 2010 — Jerome Gunderson

THEME: add "W" to beginnings of familiar phrases, get wacky phrases, etc.

This is pretty low-end stuff. A cynical, pointless add-a-letter puzzle. It's Friday, so why not ... "W?" What's the rationale? Why "W?" You could do this puzzle again, with the same base phrases, with at least three different other letters (please, please don't). Personally, I like "F," if only for the answer you'd get at 48A, but "M" might make more sense. Whatever. The point is there's just zero ambition behind this. Crank it out. Here you go. On to the next. If this kind of forgettable cookie-cutter stuff gets published routinely, why *not* just crank it out?

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Stonemason's goal? (WALL IN A DAY'S WORK)
  • 27A: Flirt's mascara stains? (WINK BLOTS)
  • 48A: Dermatology class videos? (WART FILMS)
  • 62A: Inherited wealth? (WILL-GOTTEN GAINS)

Are they cute, charming, clever answers? Some, I guess. Maybe. But, in the words of this puzzle, HO HUM (31D: Boring).

It's hard not to like KRAKATOA (39D: Volcano in the Sunda Strait), and FABIO added a ray of sunshine to the experience as well (36D: One-named male model). I'm pretty sure kids can actually say the simple word "dog." The clue on BOW WOW suggests something a cutesy, baby-talking parent would say more than it does what an actual TYKE would say (10D: Certain pet, in totspeak). The overall fill, in general, is inoffensive. That's the best thing I can say about the puzzle today.

Crosswordese 101: ERSE (65A: Celtic language) — HA ha, how is this *not* on our list after more than a year's time??? Maybe that's a sign that it hasn't been used much, which is a very promising trend. ERSE is the worst kind of old school crosswordese (a valid answer, but one you don't want to trot out unless you are under duress). It's essentially another word for "Gaelic." With its obscenely common letters in unusual combination, it's a very handy piece of 4-letter fill. Too handy. Constructors should shun it. Except when they can't.

What else?
  • 34A: "It's what's hot in pain relief" brand (BEN-GAY) — second GAY answer of my puzzle day (this one didn't make me laugh as much)
  • 4D: Kelso and Funny Cide (GELDINGS) — this answer looks pretty good in the grid, and I like the clue, in that (at least for me) the answer wasn't immediately obvious. Needed crosses. Nice to have to do some work on a Friday.
  • 15A: Bobby's informant (NARK) — NARK Matthews provided Bobby Kennedy with all kinds of important information when Bobby was Attorney General ...
  • 52A: Chiwere speaker (OTOE) — I've got OTOE on speed dial. Four letters, even vaguely Native American-looking clue: OTOE. Now it could be CREE or HOPI, or even OTOS, dagnabbit, but OTOE (3/4 vowels) is a good bet. Use crosses if you're not confident.
See you Monday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Lively Cuban dance (CONGA); 6A: They can be loose or tight (ENDS); 10A: Shade of red (BEET); 14A: Sharon of Israel (ARIEL); 15A: Bobby's informant (NARK); 16A: Moisturizer brand (OLAY); 17A: Stonemason's goal? (WALL IN A DAY'S WORK); 20A: Word before or after dog (SLED); 21A: Islamic spiritual guide (IMAM); 22A: Contemptible people (SWINE); 23A: "Woe __!" (IS ME); 25A: Biography opener? (AUTO); 27A: Flirt's mascara stains? (WINK BLOTS); 30A: Fanciful idea (WHIM); 34A: "It's what's hot in pain relief" brand (BEN-GAY); 35A: Feudal estate (FIEF); 37A: Caesar's morning meal? (OVA); 38A: "Man is __ himself when he talks in his own person": Wilde (LEAST); 39A: Chain with pieces, briefly (KFC); 40A: Rose petal pest (APHID); 42A: PC program (APP); 43A: French 101 infinitive (ETRE); 45A: Bustle (with) (ABOUND); 46A: High-tech unit (BYTE); 48A: Dermatology class videos? (WART FILMS); 50A: With wild abandon (AMOK); 52A: Chiwere speaker (OTOE); 53A: End of a series (OMEGA); 56A: Regarding (AS TO); 58A: Curdle (CLOT); 62A: Inherited wealth? (WILL GOTTEN GAINS); 65A: Celtic language (ERSE); 66A: Whitecap formation (FOAM); 67A: Befuddled (AT SEA); 68A: Feat (DEED); 69A: Minnesota __ (FATS); 70A: Antares or Betelgeuse (M-STAR); 1D: Crow cacophony (CAWS); 2D: Like much lore (ORAL); 3D: River from Lake Victoria (NILE); 4D: Kelso and Funny Cide (GELDINGS); 5D: Frazier foe (ALI); 6D: Glossy paint (ENAMEL); 7D: Zip, to Zapata (NADA); 8D: Like many a rescue (DRAMATIC); 9D: Something to look up to (SKY); 10D: Certain pet, in totspeak (BOW WOW); 11D: Childlike Wells race (ELOI); 12D: Deserve (EARN); 13D: Kid (TYKE); 18D: "Build it somewhere else" acronym (NIMBY); 19D: Flier with a bent nose (SST); 24D: Shark or Penguin footwear (SKATE); 26D: Take advantage of (USE); 27D: Obviously sad (WEEPY); 28D: Unsuitable (INAPT); 29D: Buyer's proposal (OFFER); 31D: Boring (HO-HUM); 32D: Political columnist Molly (IVINS); 33D: Anti-DUI org. (MADD); 34D: Betray a confidence, perhaps (BLAB); 36D: One-named male model (FABIO); 39D: Volcano in the Sunda Strait (KRAKATOA); 41D: Skunk relatives (POLECATS); 44D: Company quorum? (TWO); 45D: "Sweet" river in a Burns poem (AFTON); 47D: Made 3 on a par-5 (EAGLED); 49D: Clan emblems (TOTEMS); 51D: Mad, e.g., briefly (MAG); 53D: Due (OWED); 54D: Bog down (MIRE); 55D: Word suggesting options (ELSE); 57D: Doc's "Now!" ("STAT!"); 59D: Tilt (LIST); 60D: Pre-military rank? (ONE-A); 61D: Royal Russian of yore (TSAR); 63D: Amiss (OFF); 64D: Pinup's leg (GAM).



Happy TGIF y’all!

Another add-a-letter theme.
This is the LEAST exciting puzzle of the week.
I guess if you want to just bone-up on your crosswordese, this is the place.
Only one good word: KRAKATOA.
Not even one pop-culture word to befuddle me.

Hands up for those who entered TARTAN instead of TOTEMS.


Go “green” today… USE your horse!

Van55 said...

Another vote for "HOHUM."

*David* said...

Faster Friday then Thursday and only a tad slower then the other days of the week. All the long down fill came easy which made this a pretty fast solve. Only fill I didn't know was Molly IVINS, go figure.

I knew that Rex would be excited about another add the letter Friday.

Tinbeni said...

Well I don't think this was HOHUM.

I thought this was a great Tuesday puzzle.

What? Its not Tuesday? IT'S FRIDAY ???
WTF ... Never mind.

Soozy said...

Can anybody explain MSTAR (70A: Antares or Betelgeuse) a bit better? Wikipedia was of little help.

Carl Sagen said...

Stars have a letter classification.

Class M is by far the most common class. About 76% of the main sequence stars in the solar neighborhood are Class M stars.

Although most Class M stars are red dwarfs, the class also hosts most giants and some supergiants such as Antares and Betelgeuse.

google "Star classification" and you can get a lot more info.

Anonymous said...

Rex, you should recuse yourself from blogging any of Jerome's puzzles based on your long-running animosity towards him. Makes you look small(er).

The Real Carl Sagan said...

Who's Carl Sagen?! :(

Soozy said...

@Carl Sagen

Thanks for the explanation!

Zeke said...

@Anon 9:44 - Rex has commented about exactly one of Jerome's puzzles in the past, and his assessment on that one was "An adequate puzzle. Didn't ROCK ...Didn't suck". No long standing animosity here, or there.

shrub5 said...

@RP: you're just kidding about NARK Matthews, right? I think the clue's "bobby" is a reference to a British cop and NARK is a variant spelling of narc. Do I get a prize?

Gotta have some love for a puzzle with WART FILMS in it, although Rex's suggestion of using an F would produce an even more lowbrow film.

Molly IVINS-isms: She is credited with applying the nicknames "Shrub" and "Dubya" to George W. Bush. About George H. W. Bush, she said "real Texans do not use the word 'summer' as a verb." And of Texas politics, as the Legislature was due to convene, "every village is about to lose its idiot." I miss her humorous and insightful political commentary -- she lost her battle with breast cancer a few years ago.

New words for me today: ERSE and AFTON. Liked company quorum: TWO. Fun to see NIMBY and FABIO show up.

Sfingi said...

@Tinbeni. Totally agree. Not a Friday, No Googles.

Had LOWER before OFFER.

Does FABIO still work?

Only words I didn't know were Sunda (Strait) and Chiwere.

Are Shark and Penquin brands of ice skates or roller skates? Penguin is a book to this birdbrain. Or a bird to this booklarner.

@John - Thanx for foto. Funny Cide retired, but not to a stud farm!

Captcha tells me I'm a vizittor.

Orange said...

@Sfingi: The San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins are NHL teams. They use ice skates.

Tinbeni said...

LOL at your NARK comment.
Figured it was the Brit.equivalent.

Sharks and Penguins are hockey teams.
Yup, your fave, sports!

Overall, this was not as bad as Rex rated but by FRIDAY I think we are OWED a puzzle that at LEAST makes you think a bit.
For whatever reason (and this happened at the NYT, too) the puzzles today were in my baseball swing wheelhouse.
The "add-a-letter" 'W' created OK phrases, I did kind of like the last one WILL GOTTEN GAINS. the others to me were 'so-so.' Just how they hit me, no biggie.

gespenst said...

@Tinbeni, I agree, I liked WILL GOTTEN GAINS. And "jiggy with it" made me smile :)

Once I had that theme clue, I threw in the W for the rest of them and they fell into place (previously had "SKINFILMS" for the derm one, but the crosses weren't working and it wasn't funny, lol).

I had to stare at the SE corner for a while ... just couldn't piece it together until suddenly CLOT occurred to me and I filled it in quickly.

Some amusing answers: BOWWOW, GELDINGS, NARK, SWINE, BENGAY, FABIO, KRAKATOA, but I agree, it wasn't a very inspiring Friday puzzle. Not terrible, just not thrilling.

Rube said...

Didn't know IVINS, AFTON, or NARK. Something's fishy about NARK Matthews. Actually, I don't believe you Rex, you'r funnin' us again. Googling "Nark Matthews" gives one connection to Bobby Kennedy and that's yours in the LACC. OK, I'll bite, who is NARK? Even if it's Brit, a US Narc is a narcotics agent, not an informant. Wait... Forget it. The Urban dictionary says NARK (or narc) is a snitch! Go figure. I swear, with the Internet, English is changing faster every day.

A pleasant puzzle. No Googles and no pop culture. Took me too long 'though.

BTW, @Sfingi, to answer your question, "pinks" refers to the color of the "Arts and Entertainment" category in Trivial Pursuit. It's an acknowledged fact around my household that if the answer is not Toto, I'm not going to get it. You, apparently, thrive on that stuff.

Go Sharks.

mac said...

Not thrilling, but definitely some not so ho-hum words.

@shrub: my reasoning for Nark exactly.

Maybe the Bard will bring us "sweet Afton".


NARK definition per Wordsmith
I think Rex is being a NARK (definition 1) when he makes up "NARK Matthews provided Bobby Kennedy with all kinds of important information when Bobby was Attorney General ...."
Definition 2 say's a NARK is a Brit. term for a police informant, hence the "Bobby's informant".



This really does work.

lit.doc said...

This one really put the W in WTF. So hoped 448A would be SKIN FLICK.