8.25.2010

W E D N E S D A Y   August 25, 2010
Michael J. Doran

Theme: Down in the valley — Theme answers begin with synonyms of "valley."


Theme answers:
  • 20A: Apple hater's purchase? (DELL COMPUTER).
  • 37A: 2004 Daytona 500 winner (DALE EARNHARDT, JR.).
  • 56A: "Wichita Lineman" singer (GLEN CAMPBELL).
  • 49D: Geological depression, and what the first word of 20-, 37- and 56-Across is (VALLEY).


Although I do like the way DALE EARNHARDT, JR. looks in the grid, I have to say this theme left me a little chilly. Not totally cold, but definitely on the chilly side. Two of the theme answers sound alike but the third one … doesn't. Two are names of people and the other … isn't. It's this kind of inconsistency that nags at me. And then there was the crosswordese. Yikes! that's a lot of crosswordese.

There were a couple of entries that made me smile. HAYMAKER is awesome (6D: Powerful punch) and I'm always happy to see TOQUE (9A: Chef's topper). Unfortunately, for me, both those entries put together just don't make up for UDINE (36A: City of NE Italy). Come on! That doesn't even look Italian. And please don't get me started on MANURE (8D: Farm fertilizer). Hello! Breakfast test!

Crosswordese 101: EERO Saarinen (34D: Dulles Airport terminal designer Saarinen) was a Finnish American architect and designer. He is sometimes clued in relation to his father, Eliel Saarinen, also an architect. He is often clued as "First name in design" or "First name in architecture," and if one of his works appears in the clue, it's almost always the Gateway Arch.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 17A: Pins and needles holder (ÉTUI).
  • 42A: Gaming pioneer (ATARI).
  • 48A: Eggs in labs (OVA).
  • 5D: Normandy town decimated in WWII (ST.-LÔ).
  • 12D: Ocean State sch. (URI).
  • 30D: JVC competitor (RCA).
  • 41D: Shapiro of NPR (ARI).
  • 45D: Before, before (ERE).
  • 50D: "What's My Line?" panelist Francis (ARLENE).
  • 60D: 1921 sci-fi play (RUR).
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Everything Else — 1A: Urge (SPUR); 5A: It's not what it pretends to be (SHAM); 14A: Vesuvius flow (LAVA); 15A: O'Hara home (TARA); 16A: Prevent (AVERT); 18A: Capital of Rhône department (LYON); 19A: Military lifesaver (MEDIC); 23A: Grind, as teeth (GNASH); 24A: Prefix with -naut (AERO); 25A: Bygone French coin (ECU); 28A: Aliens, for short (ET'S); 29A: Drive up the wall (IRK); 31A: Guerrero y Oaxaca (ESTADOS); 34A: Run the show (EMCEE); 43A: Mends, as socks (DARNS); 44A: Divided differently, as city land (REZONED); 47A: 10 mi. on a clear day, e.g. (VIS.); 51A: Principal tonality, as of a concerto (KEY); 52A: Ploy (RUSE); 54A: __ artery: forearm blood vessel (ULNAR); 59A: Bordeaux brother (FRÈRE); 62A: Biblical physician (LUKE); 63A: Qualified (ABLE); 64A: Mystiques (AURAS); 65A: Life sentences? (OBIT); 66A: Nothing, in Normandy (RIEN); 67A: Takes a look inside? (X-RAYS); 68A: Homes, colloquially (PADS); 69A: Ocular malady (STYE); 1D: Heavy hammer (SLEDGE); 2D: It may be pending (PATENT); 3D: Tonsil neighbors (UVULAS); 4D: Vagabonds might ride them (RAILS); 7D: Soap-on-__ (A-ROPE); 9D: Bring under control (TAME); 10D: No longer hung up on (OVER); 11D: Logical abbr. (QED); 13D: Mail Boxes __ (ETC.); 21D: Give one's two cents (CHIME IN); 22D: How-__: instruction books (TOS); 25D: Change text (EDIT); 26D: Because, e.g.: Abbr. (CONJ.); 27D: One at a keyboard, often (USER); 32D: Uncovers, as evidence (TURNS UP); 33D: Inserts (ADDS); 35D: Stop (END); 37D: Nyctophobe's fear (DARK); 38D: Suit to __ (A TEE); 39D: Like a couch potato (LAZY); 40D: Give birth (HAVE A KID); 46D: Longtime tire brand (DUNLOP); 48D: At all (ONE BIT); 53D: Explore reefs, in a way (SCUBA); 55D: Construction pieces (L-BARS); 56D: Confederate color (GRAY); 57D: Take away (LESS); 58D: Beneficiaries of Bill Buckner's famous World Series error (METS); 59D: Phoned document (FAX); 61D: Nostalgic period (ERA).

39 comments:

Van55 said...

I rather enjoyed this one as I was solving it. The theme isn't anything to be especially excited about and there is a ton of clicheed fill, but I didn't hate it. Some of the cluing was enjoyable.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Nothing exciting about this Doran puzzle, not ONE BIT!
Lots of ugly stuff: CONJ (26D), VIS (47A), LBARS (55D), to name a few.

DELL, DALE, GLEN, VALLEY… a ho-hum theme.

Are “vagabonds” the P.C. version of hobos? I’ve never heard of a vagabond riding the rails. My dad, when he was young, was a self-proclaimed HOBO, and he did ride the rails.

And just to IRK you: GLEN CAMPBELL

Some new stuff for me (which forgives this puzzle): UDINE, ESTADOS, HAYMAKER, RIEN, and ARI Shapiro.

SethG said...

Have a kid? If you're gonna use a non-phrase, at least make it about goats or something.

EERO Aarnio is another designer. The point is, EERO is a Finnish name to know. And I'll maybe wear a toque and say bork bork bork a lot on Halloween.

hazel said...

I hate to pile on, but here's my gripe. I think DALE, DELL, and GLEN, are more commonly thought of as physical geography (if not poetic) terms, and aren't really thought of as "GEOLOGICAL DEPRESSIONs" - For me, such areas would include terminology that is clearly linked with an area's underlying geology - caldera, impact crater, or even glacial kettle, to name a few.

Not to say the terms aren't ever used when describing physical features of a landscape (VALLEY certainly is), but DALE, DELL, and GLEN just remind me of storybooks and 19th century novels, not particularly descriptive scientific terms.

Otherwise, the puzzle served its purpose.

jazz said...

Did I see a pangram?

jazz said...

Never mind...no 'W'

Tinbeni said...

In the strictest sense, 'decimated' is Latin meaning "removal of a tenth."
I'm happy to learn ST.LO in WWII was LESS by only 10%.

Themes were all gimmies.

I guess RUR is our new fave play.
FRERE, Fr.brother ... RIEN, Fr. nothing. Damn, those French have a different word for everything!

UDINE is pretty obscure. I'm sure it's the #1 visitor destination in Italy.

OBIT, 'Life sentences?' was clever.

MANURE ... a puzzle with a self rating.

Sfingi said...

This was easier than Mon or Tues...except I got HAYMAKER wrong, because the only one I know is on the farm (roto-baler). I guess they're antiques, now.
So, I did figure it was sports, but it must be a pAYMAKER (SpAM) or cAYMAKER (ScAM); after all, if you told me that any of these _AYMAKERs meant something in sports, I'd have to believe you.

Haven't seen an actual soap-on-a-ROPE for ages.

Have a KID is obnoxious; but, so is have a cow.

Under the sod and the dew,
Waiing the judgement day,
Under the one - the Blue,
Under the other - the GRAY.

Francis Miles Finch - 56 line poem I once had to learn. YouTube has a video of the guy himself reading his poem! A real tear-jerker.

Had AVoid before AVERT.

MANURE did not pass the b'fast test. But it did bring back memories of little kids saying pANURE and pagina.

For a while, I didn't know what Mr. Doran was getting at with CONJunction, and if didn't help that the crosses were Fr (ECU), Sp. (ESTADOS), and a miniature Italian city.

The theme was a cinch. GLEN is a Celtic word, and the others, DELL, DALE are Germanic from Thal, (source of our word for dollar, also). In these parts, the Hudson Valley, once very Dutch, also has Kill (Catskill, Fishkill, Peekskill, Wynantskill), which would have made it a real Wed. puzzle, but a NE thing.

Orange said...

The theme's tighter than you think—DELL COMPUTER is named after Michael Dell. You do get the one last name/two first names inconsistency, but they're all proper names that are synonyms of VALLEY! That's pretty tight. It's not two names and a word like CANYON, it's three names. I give the theme a thumbs-up.

Tinbeni, "decimated" used to mean "kill one-tenth of." (Oxford American labels that meaning "historical.") The word's meaning has evolved over the centuries to mean "destroy a large part of."

Tinbeni said...

@Orange
I did say:
"In the strictest sense, 'decimated' is Latin meaning "removal of a tenth."

I know the evolution of the word.

But thanks for jumping on that. Your pretentious clarification to me was dearly needed.

a guy said...

Then you said:
"I'm happy to learn ST.LO in WWII was LESS by only 10%." Then, later, you were an ass.

In response, please tell me what you intend to drink tonight. I can hardly wait.

Tuttle said...

I actually knew UDINE. Udinese de Calcao kicks off the opening match of the Italian soccer season this coming Saturday morning in UDINE (against Genoa).

Had sou instead of ECU for a while. That sucked.

Who, Me? said...

Tinbeni, in the strictest sense, you are being a little more than decimated on this board at the moment.

Orange said...

In the strictest sense, the Latin word is decimare. Decimate is an English word derived from the Latin word, but not the same word.

I do find prescriptivism tiresome these days. Prescriptivism is the native land of pretentiousness.

Rube said...

I knew @Hazel, our resident geologist, would chime in about DELL, DALE, & GLEN being geological terms because, and I agree with her, they are geographic terms. Geology uses much more specific, (and arcane), terminology.

My only writeover was misspelling EARNHearT. Dumb. Had to think a while about ONEBIT="at all", but accepted it in the end.

My LAT WOTD is Nyctophobe.

Tinbeni said...

@ a guy said & @ Who, me?

Saint-Lô was almost totally destroyed (95% according to common estimates) during the Battle of Normandy in World War II.

Of course, if anyone other than *you* were to make a comment using "Sardonic humor" as I did in my first comment. I guess it is out of line.

Since you always comment in 'black' why not use your real name? Hmmm, would that be ... Zeke?

At least I always comment in "Blue" and don't hide my true identity.
You can even email me?

PuzzleGirl said...

Whoa there. Settle down, people.

Anonymous said...

Didn't think of Toque for a chef because in Canada the long woolen hat you wear in winter with the top part wound around your neck and face is a TOQUE.

McDumouchel-Beal

Anonymous said...

Wow. What do you people find to complain about during the rest of your day?

Zeke said...

How the hell did I get dragged into this?
@Tinbeni - I was going to say you're being paranoid, but I think you're not being paranoid enough. If I have something to say, I'll say it and sign my name.

Rex Parker said...

Oh no UDINE'T!

Not a very good puzzle. Theme = thin (don't follow your logic at all, Amy), theme answers uninspired, fill iffy—except, as you say, HAYMAKER, which is v. nice.

@Zeke, quit looking at me funny, you bastard.

rp

Anonymous said...

I learned quite a bit with this one, thanks the writeup and some of your comments. But I don't understand 47A. What the heck is a vis?

Sfingi said...

@Tinbeni and all the little mice - In my humble opinion, decimate has the word 10 in it. This doesn't change. Deci doesn't become some other number from use or disuse. So, a dozen is 12, a baker's dozen is 13 and a crackhead's dozen is about 8.
A who-me-guy's decimation is not quite 10 or its opposite,or maybe even meaningless. Yeesh.
Why can't we all get along? Or step out of the mouse-hole shadows.

@Anon1258 - how far you can see.

Before I take my nap, Udine is actually 100,000 souls, very Slavic, but most famous for its beautiful Tiepolo ceiling fresco.
Jacob's Dream

Always here said...

@Anon 12:58 - It's an abbreviation for visibility. I've never seen visibility abbreviated, but that what it is.

Jeff said...

I'm a big fan of HAYMAKER and CHIMEIN. But have to call MANURE on CONJ x'ing UDINE. Whoa.

I liked the theme much more after thinking about it. Three names that are synonyms for each other - that's kind of cool!

hazel said...

@anon 11:20 - we complain about ken ken and soduku during the rest of our day. and sometimes our sports teams.

CrazyCatLady said...

Did this while waiting for the doctor this morning which caused me to CHIME IN late. As far as the theme goes, I was thinking at first that the theme answers were relevant to LA. There's the Hollywood DELL which is a hillside neighborhood near the Hollywood Bowl. There's Beverly GLEN which is near Bel Air, also in the hills. And then there's the San Fernando VALLEY. Only thing is, I don't know where DALE fits in. Oh well, so much for that theory.

I liked all the French stuff, RIEN, ST. LÔ, FRÈRE, ECU, LYON and ÈTUI. My downfall was the UDINE, CONJ cross. Yucky!

Funny comments today!

Tinbeni said...

@Sfingi
Yup, deci = 10.
Maybe the word in the clue should have been 'devastated' ... since, like Warsaw, Poland, St. Lo was reduced to ruble.

Having been to both places. Talked with "my elder's" who survived the the ruin during WWII and subsequent re-building, had I made the statement:
"Boy, you guys were decimated." they would have laughed in my face, and corrected me.
"Kid, the destruction was almost complete."

In St. LO, on the Church of Our Lady there are still scars on the wall of the bombing and bloodshed that took place.
(If you have seen the movie "The Longest Day" it is where the Red Buttons character hung when his parachute snagged on the building).

In Warsaw, they found numerous blueprints and rebuild whole sections of the City back to what it looked like before the war.

Rex Parker said...

No, the word should have been "DECIMATED."

Pick up a dictionary. "Reduce to the point of almost complete extermination" — that's in there. That meaning is in the language. That's what people normally mean when they use "decimate" these days. There is literally no question about the validity of the clue. None. As Amy, rightly, and apparently necessarily, said, the etymological origins of a word don't tell us anything about what that word comes to mean over time.

And a decent human being would have apologized to Zeke.

C said...

Feisty day today, glad I did the puzzle late today and got to read the threads that have occurred.

I saw a mini soccer theme, UDINE is home to Udinese as @Tuttle has already pointed out and MANURE is how you pronounce ManU or Manchester United from where I am from. I jest, I jest, I fully expect to be octomated for this post, a bit more than decimated but much less than trimated ;^)

Have fun everyone.

Oh yeah, puzzle was all right, I like Mon/Tue puzzles better this week. Not the theme that has got my all right grade, rather, the large amount of crossword-ese reduces the amount of thinking, becomes just a memory exercise.

Tinbeni said...

@Zeke
I whole heartily apoligize.
In fact, I will make a toast to you at sunset.

@Rex
I realize how "Decimated" has evolve in our language.
But I stand by my 1:59 comment.
Had I used the word, in Europe, to the locals there, in describing how St.Lo had been destroyed, I would have been severely rebuked.


New rule for me. If you're not "Blue" ... I'll no longer make any comment 'yeah or nay' ...

John Wolfenden said...

Visibility is abbreviated a lot among divers, but I've always seen it spelled phonetically as VIZ, not VIS. Seems like a stretch.

CrazyCatLady said...

I forgot to include TOQUE in my French list. Love that word.

Interesting that ST LÔ is in either the LAT or the NYT puzzle almost every day and today it's causing GNASHing of teeth because of the clue.

Anonymous said...

What's thr record number of comments? The blog was more fun than the puzzle!

If one wrongly criticizes another wouldn't one wholeheartedly apologize? It damages credibility a little otherwise, n'est pas?

shrub5 said...

Re 20A clue: How can someone be an Apple hater?

Re MANURE: One of the more genteel words for what it is. OK by me any time of day.

Going out to pick things in my veg garden before it gets NYCTO.

CrazyCatLady said...

OK - did anyone notice that yesterday I mentioned my former high school friend DUN/Dunlop Scott (related to Demand Payment) and today DUNLOP was in the puzzle? That's a little freakin' weird??

Anonymous said...

Just wondering... couldn't the original meaning of decimate have been something to the effect of "drawn down to 10%"? Or, been bastardized through the years to come to that meaning? Just asking...

Eric said...

@Anon 22:48: No. I can't vouch for the Latin, but the original meaning is quite precise. Decimation was a punishment used by the Roman army for mutinous or cowardly units: one in ten men was chosen by lot, and executed.

The Wikipedia article describes the procedure:
A unit selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten; each group drew lots (Sortition), and the soldier on whom the lot fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning or clubbing. The remaining soldiers were given rations of barley instead of wheat and forced to sleep outside of the Roman encampment.

Because the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in the group were eligible for execution, regardless of the individual degree of fault, or rank and distinction.

The leadership was usually executed independent of the 1 in 10 deaths of the rank and file.


No comment on the usage dispute.

Anonymous said...

In English notaion, H is not a musical note or key, but in German notation it is the equivalent of B-natural. "B" in German notation is the English B-flat.