W E D N E S D A Y   August 11, 2010
Don Gagliardo

Theme: Ohhhh, I see! — Every letter C in the grid is pronounced as a hard C in its across entry and as a soft C in its down entry (59D: They're hard in across answers and soft in down ones (CEES)).

Theme answers (too many to list, but here are some examples):
  • 8A: Strip in the paper (COMIC).
  • 8D: Makes reference to (CITES).
  • 12D: Disney Store sales (CELS).

  • 54A: Sway on a curve (CAREEN).
  • 54D: Give up (CEDE).
I originally thought the theme was MIDDLE C (34D: Piano benchmark, and a feature of 16-, 22-, 51- and 61-Across) but noticed that each of those answers also begins with a C and thought that couldn't be a coincidence but couldn't figure out how it related to the MIDDLE C theme. Anyway, here are the answers with the MIDDLE Cs:
  • 16A: French Open surface (CLAY COURT).
  • 22A: Cramming session (CRASH COURSE).
  • 51A: Joker on the line (CRANK CALLER).
  • 61A: Just fall short (COME CLOSE).
This is the kind of theme I really appreciate. Clever, interesting, and (I've gotta believe) difficult to construct. Two of the MIDDLE C entries are only so-so, but the other two, CRASH COURSE and CRANK CALLER, are awesome. The rest of the fill is solid with a sparkle here and there. There seem to be a lot of three-letter words, but none of them are abbreviations and only one, KER-, is a prefix (37D: Flooey lead-in). That's pretty impressive.

  • 1A: Self-titled 2000s sitcom (REBA). Early in the week, you get a hint that we're not talking about Lucille Ball. Later in the week, you'll see a clue like "Television redhead" and will probably be tempted to enter LUCY. Not that that's ever happened to me.
  • 18A: Innsbruck is its capital (TYROL). It's an Austrian state. I know that because I just looked it up.
  • 20A: "There __ 'I' in 'team'" (IS NO). But, as I have been reminded, there are three Us in "Shut the F**k Up."
  • 21A: Odessa natives (TEXANS). I admit it, I fell for it. I was only thinking about the Ukrainian Odessa.
  • 31A: 1944 Normandy battle site (CAEN). If you entered St.-Lô without even thinking about it, you've been paying attention to CW101. Unfortunately, it didn't really help you today.
  • 42A: Makizushi wrapper (NORI). I assume this is sushi.
  • 47A: Francesca of "Collateral Damage" (NERI). No idea. She is primarily famous for her work in Italy, but she also co-starred in "Hannibal" and (as the clue tells us) "Collateral Damage" in the early 2000s.
  • 1D: It's sold in cakes (RICE). I tried "soap" first.
  • 10D: Wellington __, New York Giants co-owner for 45+ years (MARA). Ne-ever heard of this guy. Wikipedia says he was "one of the most influential and iconic figures in the history of the National Football League." If you say so.
  • 30D: Make an honest man of, so to speak (WED). I appreciate the attempt at making this non-sexist but honestly, "make an honest man of" is not a phrase. Yes, it's been said and you can even Google it, but I've gotta believe it's mostly used in a joking way that's actually meant to emasculate the man referred to in some way. I should probably just leave it at that.
  • 48D: Old cold-block bringers (ICEMEN). Bringers?
Crosswordese 101: SEVE Ballesteros is a professional golfer from Spain. He won the British Open three times and the Masters twice. His first Masters win came a year after Fuzzy Zoeller won the tournament (for some reason that shows up in puzzles every once in a while). You really don't need to know anything else about him for crossword puzzle purposes. The clue will almost always include his last name and a hint about his profession (i.e., the word "golf," "links," or "PGA").

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 26A: Disbelieving dying words (ET TU).
  • 45A: Legendary Greek vessel (ARGO).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 5A: Missal site (PEW); 13A: Part of, as a surprise party plan (IN ON); 14A: Mitchell of music (JONI); 15A: Blown away (IN AWE); 19A: Knock off a sub? (EAT); 25A: China is in it, with "the" (EAST); 27A: Coat on the slopes (SNOW); 33A: Look (SEEM); 35A: Lamb's mom (EWE); 36A: Sot's milieu (SKID ROW); 39A: Fixed income (STIPEND); 41A: Letter writer? (PEN); 44A: Took much more than one should have (OD'ED); 49A: Meat source (DELI); 58A: Actor Cage, casually (NIC); 60A: Where to learn une leçon (ECOLE); 63A: Prehistoric beasts, briefly (DINOS); 64A: Urgent care abbr. (EMER.); 65A: "It's crystal clear" ("I SEE"); 66A: Online social appointment (E-DATE); 67A: Craving (YEN); 68A: Catfish Row opera heroine (BESS); 2D: Interweave (ENLACE); 3D: Regatta action (BOAT RACING); 4D: Some (ANY); 5D: Prey (on), cat-style (POUNCE); 6D: Implants deeply (ENROOTS); 7D: Amusing quality (WIT); 9D: Colorful quartz varieties (ONYXES); 11D: Arms-up declaration (I WON); 14D: Kid around (JOSH); 17D: Rain storage reservoir (CISTERN).
  • 21D: Faithfully following (TRUE TO); 23D: "Sing __ Song": Merle Haggard hit (A SAD); 24D: Salt Lake City university team (UTES); 28D: Like some pliers (NEEDLE-NOSE); 29D: Hold title to (OWN); 32D: Reagan biographer Peggy (NOONAN); 36D: Place to get naked, perhaps (SPA); 38D: Birdhouse bird (WREN); 40D: Zest in a cocktail (PEEL); 43D: Dander-raising (IRKSOME); 46D: Domestic-looking wildcat (OCELOT); 50D: Showy spring bloomers (IRISES); 52D: Baseball's Pee Wee (REESE); 53D: Affirm confidently (AVER); 55D: Sharp (ACID); 56D: TV tabloid pioneer Barrett (RONA); 61D: '70s-'80s Dodger third baseman Ron (CEY); 62D: Women's __ (LIB).

    Anonymous said...

    Can someone explain what CELS for "Disney Store sales" means?

    Anonymous said...

    I was wondering the same thing....

    Anonymous said...

    Also, sharp = acid? Acidic I get, but acid?

    Tinbeni said...

    Caught on the the "MIDDLE C: and the
    Hard and Soft 'C's fairly quickly.
    Boy-O-Boy, what a fantastic theme(s).
    I SEE crossing CEES hit with a thud! Duh!!!

    So I went about my solve in the usual way, which means hopping all over the place.
    Yes, PuzzleGirl, I thought of ST LO.
    Then I played with the DINO's.
    Even visited SKID ROW (Hmmm, that's not so bad, maybe I should stake out a spot).

    Then I took up residence in the NE corner and got a second Mug-of-Java.
    Had I WIN as my Arms-Up Declaration.
    Had no idea who owned the NY Giants, MARA.
    Nor the Austrian state TYROL. Had tyril, and that just didn't SEEM (look) right.
    Finally changed that 'I' (that wasn't in 'team') to 'O' and
    I WON!

    More like a Thursday solve time.
    What a nice challenge.

    CELS are the animation cels used to make Disney cartoons.

    Another Anonymous said...

    Like a tongue.

    Van55 said...

    A cel is a single cartoon drawing from an animated film.

    Disney film cels are often sold as collectors' items.

    Let's see if this works to show an example: [img]http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.forgottentreasurez.com/catalog/cel%2520alice.jpg[/img]

    This was a very well constructed puzzle with an elaborate theme.

    I thought the cross of NOONAN with NERI and NORI was pretty tough.

    jazz said...

    One word: WOW.

    Not being a constructor, I can't imagine the creativity needed to (1) devise the theme, and (2) pull it off.

    I don't know, if 59D hadn't speelled it out, whether I would have even notice the hard/soft dichotomy in every C in the puzzle.

    Very impressive, and pretty good fill to boot, IMHO.

    CELS = short for celluloid, which they were originally made of, I believe (before the days of plastic).

    Sfingi said...

    CELS are pictures you can hang on the wall. They are the singles that make up the animation when viewed rapidly. The ones from the old days are hand painted. Some collect certain characters. For instance, Hubster would love a Pinocchio from 1940, but it would cost $5 large.

    I would have liked this if it didn't have 6 sports clues, none of which I knew. Since I got CRANKCALLER as a Rorschach, I got SEVE and CEY below by crosses. But I had to Google for MARA and CLAYCOURT. Got UTES by crosses, but my first thoughts were: Hmm, Mormons, let's see, LDS? LSD? Younguns? Salt Lake City proselytizers? Too long.

    Didn't know 'til the end if it was TYROL or TiROL. Austrian.

    We had Peewee REESE a little while ago. I had mentioned then, but lost my comment to the ether, that my sister, the Baltimore artist and professor, is named Dedree Drees. She heard that name all through school in the '50s. Now, no one knows it. Born too soon.

    a said...

    anyone else upset by 68a: Catfish Row opera heroine (BESS) crossing 62d: Women's ___ (LIB)?

    To me, the across clue reads as "some female name" (although I really should start remembering this one...). After all the other crosses, it seems that both "B" and "T" would be perfectly plausible. Women's LIT is also a legitimate phrase (although maybe not as much as "chick lit", but given the puzzle's previously demonstrated propensity for political correctness, this becomes even more confusing!)

    Zeke said...

    @A Yup, the clue for 68A is exactly blah blah blah (woman's name) The resulting TESS/BESS possibilities is very, very bad.
    I know I've done this puzzle before. Different words, maybe soft Cs across, hard Cs down, but exactly the same puzzle conceit.

    Zeke said...

    @A - On second thought, since Catfish Row is essentially Porgy and Bess, BESS kind of leaps out. It may in fact be a fair clue. I didn't know it, but it may be fair.

    Doug P. said...

    Loved the puzzle today! LA Times has been excellent this week.

    @Zeke - You're probably thinking of this one, with hard G's and soft G's:

    LA Times-April 16, 2009

    CrazyCatLady said...

    Ahh back on the west coast where it's pleasantly cool this a.m.

    I had to kind of POUNCE on this one today. Had a few rough spots - avow for AVER and a complete d'oh moment at the cross of EMER and CEY. I had the MER and was trying to figure out what kind of ER I was looking for. Had no idea who CEY was. Loved the CEES and MIDDLEC theme. Very impressive. I usually have trouble with sports clues, but SEVE Ballesteros is indelibly etched on my brain since I watched him win the 1983 Masters during my almost 30 hour labor with my first kid. We briefly considered calling him SEVE, but it didn't really work with the Swedish last name.
    @ddmc reunion was great fun!

    Zeke said...

    @Doug P - That's it. As I'm 0 for 2 today, I'll quit while I'm only way, way behind.

    obertb said...

    Too lazy to read all the above posts, but in case no one else mentioned it, nice going, PG, with the photo of Prince Albert in the can. Favorite crank call from back in the day.

    carol s said...

    this was hard for a wednesday had to look up afew never seen tyrol before put in tees before celd found the theme easilt but still struggled with this one

    Grumpy 1 said...

    TYROL was an easy one for me. I had the TEXANS ONYXES cross which gave me the Y. Innsbruck > Austria> Tyrolean Alps came to mind and I figured if there were Tyrolean Alps there must be a Tyrol somewhere around there.

    C said...

    Another good puzzle, shaping up to be an epic LAT crossword week. In surfing terms, the crossword swell is on and it's pumping double overhead and barrels aplenty.

    A multi-themed puzzle which I thought ended at MIDDLEC then surprised me with the irritating "They are hard in across ..." clue, well, irritating until i realized it was a second theme reveal. Very cool.

    SethG said...

    CLAY COURT is not a surface. Clay is a surface. And I'd classify very few cramming sessions as CRASH COURSEs, but that's at least barely acceptable.

    Other than these cluing quibbles, what PuzzleGirl said. Clever, interesting, and surely difficult to construct. (I was gonna deduct major points for reusing the theme, but then I realized the earlier puzzle was also his. There go my plans for a silent/not silent K puzzle...)

    CrazyCatLady said...

    @obertb Prince Albert in the can reminded me of the other CRANKCALLER slumber party favorite. Hello this is so and so appliance company. Is your refrigerator running? Then you better go catch it. So corny! Those were simpler days.....

    chefwen said...

    My cousin used to call public places and ask them to please page a Mr. John Mehoff, when no one would respond, she would say "try Jack, he mostly goes by that name". Hilarious giggles would follow.

    LA Times just keeps getting better and better, liking it a lot.

    Sfingi said...

    Michael Hunt.

    My captcha is exostki, an exotic Polish dancer?

    CrazyCatLady said...

    @chefwen That's great!
    @sfingi is that a POLE dancer?

    Sfingi said...

    @Crazy - I think you're right.

    mac said...

    Not only are the LAT puzzles getting better, so are the comments! CCL: you're in great form!

    Got to get back to planning the Lollapuzzoola before and after-hour activities! This will be so much fun.

    shrub5 said...

    Fantastic puzzle and I can only imagine the time spent creating it. Nice job, Don G.

    No one has mentioned ENROOTS. I see it in some dictionaries but -- has anyone ever heard this used? "I'm en route to the garden to enroot some tomato plants."