F R I D A Y   August 6, 2010
Charles Barasch

Theme: C to the C-K — Words that end with a C in familiar phrases are changed to end with a CK, resulting in wacky phrases clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Pre-1991 Russian veto? (SOVIET BLOCK).
  • 29A: West Florida currency? (TAMPA BAY BUCK).
  • 35A: Assault by killer trucks? (BIG MACK ATTACK).
  • 43A: Construct a microscopic house? (BUILD ON SPECK).
  • 57A: Jumpy bug? (NERVOUS TICK).
The theme today didn't really do much for me. But the rest of the puzzle was tough enough that it kept me interested. There were a few entries that I just flat didn't know:
  • 14A: '60s-'70s San Francisco mayor (ALIOTO).
  • 27A: Genes responsible for hereditary variations (ALLELES).
  • 46D: Trillionth: Pref. (PICO-).
  • 32D: Slightly eccentric (PIXILATED).
and a few that I really had to work for. I knew 41A: Actress Scala's was either Nia or Lia or … oh yeah GIA. (AGOG to the rescue! (36D: Worked up)). I'm not sure I would describe SPICE CAKE as necessarily "tangy," so I couldn't see that answer for quite a while (12D: Tangy dessert).

What else:
  • 1A: Like some teeth (GAPPED). I had to work pretty hard up in this little corner. PuzzleFamily is getting read for vacation, but we're not driving so GAS UP (1D: Get ready to travel) didn't occur to me at all. Then I entered a C for the G — capped teeth, reasonable right? — and was really confused. Obviously worked it out eventually.
  • 20A: Certain cardholder's cry (UNO). Tried "gin" first.
  • 33A: Reactor safety overseer: Abbr. (NRC). Not sure exactly what this stands for, but I'm guessing the N is for "nuclear." Hold on … Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Looking stuff up for you. Just another service provide.
  • 42A: He beat Okker to win the 1968 U.S. Open (ASHE). I don't believe I've ever heard of Okker, but "1968 U.S. Open" pointed me right to the gentleman from Virginia.
  • 53A: Developmental step (STAGE). Tried "phase."
  • 54A: E lead-in (B-C-D). Random alphabet string. ugh.
  • 56A: Chickadee relative (TIT). Heh.
  • 64A: Easter Island attraction (STATUE). This didn't come to my mind At All, but as soon as I got it, it was a real head-desk moment. I guess I've never really thought too much about those statues. Obviously, I've seen pictures of them, but I don't know anything about them.
  • 2D: All by oneself (ALONE). See also 25D: Dateless (STAG).
  • 6D: Web outfit (DOT COM). For the record, there's no period in DOT COM. I don't know if it's hyphenated or not and, honestly, I don't care. But there is no period right in the middle of that word. Because that wouldn't make any sense.
  • 11D: Fashionable repast (LATE LUNCH). My favorite entry.
  • 40D: Magic, at one time (NBA STAR). Even though I have When the Game Was Ours (by Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson) sitting right on my bedstand, I was tricked by this one.
  • 60D: Cardinal's letters (STL). More sports.
Crosswordese 101: LST, which stands for Landing Ship, Tank, "was the military designation for naval vessels created during World War II to support amphibious operations by carrying significant quantities of vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto an unimproved shore" (according to Wikipedia). In crosswords, LST is almost always clued in reference to World War II, which clues such as "D-Day craft," "WWII transport," "D-Day carrier," "WWI vessel," "Omaha Beach lander, briefly," or 11A: WWII Normandy lander.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 4D: Islands staple (POI).
  • 5D: Time to tan in Cannes (ÉTÉ).
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Everything Else — 7A: Recover (HEAL); 11A: WWII Normandy lander (LST); 15A: Business opening? (AGRI-); 16A: National Poetry Mo. (APR.); 19A: Madre's brother (TIO); 21A: Bit of tryst talk (COO); 22A: Boot (EJECT); 24A: Site of some adoptions (PET SHOP); 31A: On __ with (A PAR); 34A: Opposing vote (NAY); 40A: Equi- ending (NOX); 48A: Out there (AT LARGE); 49A: Occupy (INHABIT); 55A: Uracil is one of its basic components (RNA); 62A: __ Zion Church (AME); 63A: Gunk (CRUD); 65A: Not the color of money? (RED); 66A: Directors' banes (HAMS); 67A: Respected ones (ELDERS); 3D: Scissors feature (PIVOT); 4D: Islands staple (POI); 5D: Time to tan in Cannes (ÉTÉ); 7D: Symbol of virtue (HALO); 8D: Kind of trip taken by oneself? (EGO); 9D: Circle part (ARC); 10D: Plausible (LIKELY); 13D: One of the original Politburo members (TROTSKY); 18D: Comet Hale-__ (BOPP); 23D: Bush seen in Florida (JEB); 26D: Hurt (HARM); 27D: Incantation beginning (ABRA); 28D: Milk: Pref. (LACT-); 30D: Singer Paul and family (ANKAS); 31D: "Finally!" ("ABOUT TIME!"); 37D: Art film theater (CINE); 38D: Driver's gadget, for short (TACH); 39D: "May I __ favor?" (ASK A); 44D: Hang back (LAG); 45D: Soak (DRENCH); 47D: Ultimate purpose (END USE); 50D: Shiny, in product names (BRITE); 51D: Bring upon oneself (INCUR); 52D: Directors' units (TAKES); 54D: Some underwear (BVD'S); 58D: Notable period (ERA); 59D: Mai tai ingredient (RUM); 61D: Pinch (TAD).


SethG said...

How are teeth GAPPED? The gaps are between the teeth. For this to work, doesn't "teeth" need to be used as a collective noun? I think it's just the plural of tooth. Yeah, I had CAPPED for a while, too.

It took me way too long to realize the Ks had been inserted. I like Ks.

Tinbeni said...

My St.Pete.Times had a printing SNAFU.

The top line wasn't there.
First block in my grid was 14 Across.
Add to that the Across clue numbers were missing (along with their first two letters).

So I tried to solve using only the Downs and guesses as to what the Across clues were.

Actually got TAMPA BAY BUCK off of "est Florida rency" and STATUE off of "ster Island raction."

AGOG got me GIA, and if that had been true I would have been AGOG.
SPICE CAKE is Tangy? NO !!! Key Lime Pie, is tangy.
Not a clue (no pun intended) who the "0s-'70s San ncisco Mayor" was, ALIOTO.

All-in-all a DNF.

Maybe it is ABOUT TIME for a TAD of that Pinch, or the RUM.

Van55 said...

Left CAPPED for GAPPED. Fail!

Rare for me for LAT.

Sfingi said...

DNF - Total washout. I'm just not on this guys wave length. I guess just too much sports in key places.

What is either a TAMPABAYBUC or a TAMPABAYBUCK? I suppose this is all sports. I actually got this but have no idea what it is.

Don't know how I got SPICECAKE since I agree with @Tinbeni, it's not tangy, since it's not citrus.

Also, did not like the definition of ALLELES, since many genes, if not all potentially can cause hereditary variation. That's what genes are about. The word "some" would have helped. Or "genetic variation causing many diseases."

That all being said, GIA is a sad suicide, and ALIOTO is Sicilian, so naturally in 2 of my OCD categories.

I had liLy before HALO, and am sick of HALOs and auras. Also sick of AGOG.

Mini-theme: STAG, ALONE.

LST reminded me of another WWII era thing - LSMFT: Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.

From Googling, I did learn that ASHE played against another early tennis man who was Black - and Dutch; and learned the vowelly word Uracil.

I'm off CWs today. Anyway, it seems the moisture-heavy heat wave may have finally lifted, and I have a ton of yard work to catch up on!

*David* said...

This was a tough one took me longer then I expected and had an error where ABRA crossed NRC. The theme was so-so but the difficulty level was right up there. Finished the top half with not too much difficulty but the bottom took forever, finally broke through with ABOUT TIME.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think this one was as hard as others did. I too had capped instead of gapped. Had a little trouble in the SW corner. Wanted to use Bballer instead of NBA Star. Had no idea about pixilated but do know about pixelated. Unrelated words I guess. Alioto, I knew. The family still has a restaurant called Alioto's at Fisherman's Wharf. Never heard of allelel. Good puzzle overall and about right for a Friday.

John Wolfenden said...

It's hard to think of PIXILATED meaning anything other than low-resolution and blocky, but I suppose its older meaning comes from the word "pixie?"

Theme answers were pretty minor chuckles, liked BUILD ON SPECK but not SOVIET BLOCK.

I liked the misdirection of "Magic, at one time." Started out thinking things like how in olden times magic used to be considered heresy, punishable by death, etc.

Rube said...

I had cAPPED at first, of course, but as I just gassed up yesterday for our trip to Lake Powell tomorrow, GASUP quickly came.

Also had Hale-BOgs... dumb, besides the fact that he spelled his name Boggs.

Wanted Forward for Magic, at one time. However, he was mostly a guard, I think.

Alleles sounds vaguely familiar, but PIXILATED is definitely my WOTD. FYI, pix is the [slangy]plural of pic and the el is the first two letters of element, hence "pixel". This is from my 1998 Merriam-Webster hard bound... (pixelated does not appear in this dictionary)... may have to get a new dictionary, or not.

Enjoyable puzzle with just the right amount of difficulty, although the theme was a bit lame.

backbiter said...

@Tinbeni I have the same newspaper as you do. The Bay Link section lopped off the top of the puzzle and the beginnings of the across clues. No problem, that's what laptops are for. However, I hated this puzzle with a passion. I skimmed through the clues before typing in an answer, and I KNEW I JUST KNEW 29 A: was gonna be a crappy Buccaneers joke. I typed in Tampa Bay Bucs right away although it turned out to be Buck. Doesn't matter tho, I was already irritated at the pun. It actually ruined the rest of the puzzle for me. I love and hate living here at the same time if that's possible. CHEERS!

C said...

Another puzzle in my sweet spot: SF Bay area reference, sports, science and picking up the theme after the first theme answer. Puzzle didn't pose any difficulties though I did start with CAPPED but realized that the C wouldn't support the S in SOVIETBLOCK.

I'm not going to say I've given up on arguing with crossword puzzles (too stubborn for that) but I have relaxed my views on word usage so didn't even think twice about how GAPPED and the clue were very shakily connected at best.

@Tinbeni, I am sure you know this but you can print the LAT puzzle from http://games.latimes.com/index_crossword.html?uc_feature_code=tmcal but just in case you didn't ...

Tinbeni said...

Anon 8:55
Not tough? You try solving a puzzle with the Across #'s and half the clue missing.

@backbiter: I was wondering if your St.Pete.Times paper had the same problem. Obviously a system wide snafu.

24a "e of some options"
31a "____with"
33a "actor safety erseer: Abbr"
40a "ui- ending"
48a "t there"
49a "cupy"
63a "unk"

From these clues I'm suppose to get PET STORE, A PAR, NRC, NOX, AT LARGE, INHABIT and CRUD?

I wouldn't have known the National Poetry Mo. was APRil even if I had the whole clue. I had "tional Poetry o."

And like PuzzleGirl I would have cried GIN even if my clue hadn't been "dholder's cry"

But it was EXCELLENT to see PINCH (a certain favorite) again.

Tinbeni said...

@C and @backbiter
I was at IHOP when I pulled out the puzzle.
Just tried to "tough it out."

Yeah, I could have waited and printed it out, like I do the NYT, everyday.

Tuttle said...

Only real issue for me was having pigheaded instead of PIXILATED for a while. American Heritage defines it as very eccentric BTW.

I always get LST and that's where I started today. On the morning of June 6 1944 my 19 year old grandfather was the 4th, and junior-most, officer on board LST 473. By noon he was the commanding officer.

Eric said...

For a Friday puzzle, I actually enjoyed this! (I almost even finished it -- only needed to ask for one letter.)

I got the theme early enough to do me some good. Given TAMPA BAY B__K from crosses and deduction, the UC was pretty obvious even though I didn't get the reference. I figured it must be some sports team, and sure enough. So, why are all the teams called "Tampa Bay _____", when the city itself is just plain Tampa?

BIG MACK ATTACK: Hmm, who else has read Theodore Sturgeon's story "Killdozer!"? (They made a movie of it; I haven't seen that.)

I've become rather NERVOUS about TICKs of late, after a couple of bites! (Not the Lyme-disease kind, fortunately, but still...)

Last to fall was the SW. ?BAS__ x ?O_ baffled me; one was asking for a vowel, the other for a consonant. That "?" was the one letter I had to ask for. (At first I was thinking of even older times than was @John W, i.e. when MAGIC was well reputed and part of the religious practice of the day.)

Never heard of PIXILATED. PIXeLATED, sure. (@John W: Correct; the former does indeed come from "pixie". I think it's best considered a separate word, though, not an "older meaning", seeing as the two have entirely different etymologies.)

Hale-BOPP was a gimme. (The name always reminds me of a certain Cyndi Lauper song :-))

So was ALLELES. @Sfingi: The clue, "Genes responsible for hereditary variations", seems reasonable. Alleles are variants of a single gene (e.g. assuming that eye colour were governed by a single gene, that gene's alleles would be what produces blue, brown, green, etc.) I think (but don't quote me!) that the vast majority of genes don't have multiple alleles, and so aren't responsible for "hereditary variations", for the simple reason that any variation in those genes is fatal, so no mutated version lives long enough to reproduce.

"E lead-in" -> BCD: Boo hiss! Especially in a Friday puzzle, where it wouldn't have been too obscure to clue BCD as "Predecessor to ASCII" or such like, in reference to binary-coded decimal.

For 42A, I'd never heard of Okker either, but I needed the reference to him when Googling, to disambiguate tennis's U.S. Open from golf's.

Also Googled: ALIOTO, GIA, and (without success) LST. I should have known that last; it's xwordese enough.

Capcha = "drannkit", which kinda fits with today's blog-comments theme ;-)

Ratty said...

@Tuttle, I NEVER get LST and yet I see the clue all the time. It's one of those CW101s I keep telling myself I'll remember someday but never do. Hmm, actually the CW101s I'm thinking I should know are all military-related. Like, what's that short word for military store (not canteen) and the word for field ration?

Anonymous said...

NFL - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NHL - Tampa Bay Lightning
These two are in the city of Tampa.

MLB - Tampa Bay Rays
Located in St. Petersburg

Burner 10 said...

Didn't understand the theme til I came here. Got all the toughies but missed BCD - with BID (like a lead on EBAYY oh well!

Sfingi said...

@Tuttle - pigheaded. Love it. I have a shot glass from the '40s which shows the degrees of drunkenness. Wish I knew how to show a picture of it here. There's a stick figure man who begins upright and proceeds to totally drunk. Pixilated is a step along the way. So that's all I knew until pixels, which I first saw in the '60s when I worked for Uncle Sam who was trying to create a pattern recognition tool.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing out the K theme...missed it completely.

I've only heard the phrasing "on par with" not "on A par with". Maybe that's a regionalism?

I was a little miffed to be working on this puzzle on a Friday evening and encounter the clues "all by oneself" AND "dateless." Is the universe telling me something? ha ha.


cosmo said...

i liked this puzzle did i at work so i had to get home to if alleles was even a word and pixilated was agood guess although i have never heard iy in that context had capped and i never thought of gapped and i never casup before i go on vacation

Irritated_Prof said...

Only time I've ever heard the term "pixilated" was in "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," didn't know it was common usage.

Not as tough as I expect for a Friday.


I don't know what it was about this puzzle, but I solved it rather quickly... and while I'm having breakfast in a neat little 50's diner on Route 66, so I had no dictionary or Google to depend on. Sometimes I find that I think harder when I'm in those situations and my solving is actually better.
I really didn't like the clue for 32D "slightly eccentric" (PIXILATED) and I thought 54A "E lead-in" (BCD) was superbly horrible. Other than that I thought the puzzle had some very good entries.
I actually liked @PG's writeup infinitely more than the puzzle itself. I just don't like non-challenging puzzles on a Friday.

ladykatie25 said...

What does the word in purple mean? I've never figured out the significance.