W E D N E S D A Y   September 1, 2010
Mark Bickham

Theme: Don't Stand So Close to Me — Familiar phrases that start with words meaning "close by" are clued as if the last part of the phrase is a synonym of its meaning in the original phrase.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Young woman next door? (NEAR MISS).
  • 24A: Adjoining floor? (TOUCHING STORY).
  • 53A: Proximate coins? (CLOSE QUARTERS).
  • 66A: Chess piece within reach? (HANDY MAN).
Can't say I feel strongly about this puzzle one way or the other. It had a decent Scrabbly-ness factor (just a J short of a pangram), a middle-of-the-road theme, and some fine, fine fill. There were also a couple of clunkers but nothing outrageous. Well, maybe that ABBR. / RISHI crossing is outrageous (4A: It's an example of itself / 7D: Hindu poet). I don't understand what the clue for ABBR. means At All. Not to say that it's necessarily bad — just that I don't get it. Perhaps one of you kind people will 'splain it to me in the comments. As a matter of fact, yes. Yes, I'm sure one of you will.

I'm not crazy about the forced pluralization of all of the long downs: PEAR TREES / BRIOCHES / FOURSOMES / PORTENTS. Can't PORTENT be a verb as well? If so, it should have been clued that way if only so we could say that not all of the long downs were randomly pluralized. The only other thing that really slowed me down at all was 33D: Charles LE BRUN, major decorator of the Palace of Versailles. Um, who? But again, that might just be another sign that I'm not actually smart enough for this particular hobby. But I'm not going to let a little lack of knowledge stop me! And you shouldn't either!

  • 19A: Green light (ASSENT). Very tricky using "green light" as a verb!
  • 43A: Grimace (MOUE). Love this word. I don't think I've Ever said it out loud but I would like to some day.
  • 51A: Brought up (REARED). I was thinking about this in terms of promotion, like baseball. Bringing someone up from the minor leagues.
  • 70A: Letter opener? (ELL). The "opening" (first) letter of the word "letter" is L (ELL).
  • 71A: "When a Man Loves a Woman" singer Percy __ (SLEDGE). Oh sure. Why not?

  • 18D: Part of a Clue accusation (ROOM). With a RO in place, I immediately entered ROPE but realized my error almost immediately. Did you all know that they have different weapons in newer versions of Clue?
  • 25D: Adaptable truck, for short (UTE). Short for "utility."
  • 53D: Biker leggings (CHAPS). The other kind of biker.
  • 56D: Pal of Porthos (ATHOS). Whoa. ATHOS actually threw a mountain at Zeus. Oh wait, wrong ATHOS! The one I'm thinking of is a mythological giant, but the one actually clued here is the musketeer.
  • 62D: Part of SRO (ONLY). SRO = Standing Room Only.
  • 64D: Doze (NOD). Tried NAP here at first.
Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:
  • 15A: "Star Trek: T.N.G." counselor (TROI).
  • 20A: Architect Saarinen (EERO).
  • 32A: Certain fisherman (EELER).
  • 3D: Bosc sources (PEAR TREES).
  • 34D: Somme season (ÉTÉ).
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Everything Else — 1A: Energy (ZIP); 8A: Pure (CHASTE); 14A: Suffix with verb (-OSE); 16A: Bring about sooner (HASTEN); 21A: Earth pigment (OCHER); 23A: Hide-hair link (NOR); 28A: Fireside emanation (WARMTH); 30A: "__ me!" (DEAR); 31A: '50s White House nickname (IKE); 35A: Annoys (MIFFS); 39A: __ Piper (PIED); 41A: Police sting, say (SET-UP); 44A: Happen as a result (ENSUE); 46A: "Who Can It __?": Men at Work hit (BE NOW); 48A: Exhaust, with "up" (USE); 49A: [see other side] (OVER); 58A: Spell (HEX); 59A: Loosen, as laces (UNTIE); 60A: Emerald City visitor (TOTO); 63A: List of things to discuss (AGENDA); 68A: Dividend, e.g. (PAYOUT); 69A: Germany's von Bismarck (OTTO); 72A: Insolence (SASS); 73A: Generous limit? (SKY); 1D: Area (ZONE); 2D: "Got it" ("I SEE"); 4D: 24-hr. cash source (ATM); 5D: French breads (BRIOCHES); 6D: "The Garden of Earthly Delights" artist (BOSCH); 8D: Old battlefield shout (CHARGE); 9D: Is suffering from (HAS); 10D: Beast of burden (ASS); 11D: Court figure (STENO); 12D: Pavarotti, notably (TENOR); 13D: Datebook notation (ENTRY); 22D: Football play also called a sweep (END RUN); 26D: "Casablanca" pianist (SAM); 27D: Request to a barber (TRIM); 28D: Use a napkin on (WIPE); 29D: Like, with "to" (AKIN); 36D: Links groups (FOURSOMES); 37D: A hothead has a short one (FUSE); 38D: Future plant (SEED); 40D: Couples (DUOS); 42D: Omens (PORTENTS); 45D: "The Three Faces of __": 1957 film (EVE); 47D: Very small (WEE); 50D: Treat as the same (EQUATE); 52D: Affectedly cultured (ARTY); 54D: Corporate department (LEGAL); 55D: Daisy variety (OXEYE); 57D: Calf catcher (RIATA); 61D: Chitchat (TALK); 65D: Grooved on (DUG); 67D: Elaborate affairs (DOS).


Lemonade714 said...

ABBR. is the abbreviation of the word abbreviation, making it an example of itself.

Anonymous said...

Abbr being the abbreviation for abbreviation.


This puzzle lacks ZIP.
How can the LAT go from a terrific puzzle one day to a crummy one the next? This one has too many bad clues. “Letter opener” = ELL ?? Bah! “Grooved on” = DUG?? Horrible! “Adaptable truck” = UTE?? Ugh! And the rest are pretty crappy too!
The only good thing in this puzzle was Hieronymus BOSCH and the Bosc PEARTREE.
Oh yeah, and I Like IKE!
OVER and out

Anonymous said...

Abbr. = abbreviation, an abbreviation of a word is an example of the word

beth.callaway said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scully2066 said...

I have been a reader for a long time but Puzzle Girl's comment about my lack of knowledge not stopping me had made me come out of hiding - Thank you PG you made my day. I have learned so much from all you reviews and everone's commets - I am getting better at these darn puzzles. I will keep at it - Have to say today was just Blah - really liked Peartrees and foursomes but hated eeler - Yuck! and letter opener = eel Again thanks for all your help and being willing to share your knowledge

Rex Parker said...

OK, what year is it supposed to be when Richie is reading that Mickey Spillane novel? Because I am calling "Anacrhonism!" Not on the novel itself (pub'd late 40s), but on the edition. That ed. screams mid-late '60s.

I liked the theme. RISHI!?!? The ABBR./RISHI cross was the last thing I got, and I really had to think about it.

Van55 said...

The RISHI/ABBR/TROI combination is almost unforgivable.

"Letter opener" = ELL. Pah!

Otherwise a nice puzzle.

Sfingi said...

@Puzzlegirl - To me RISHI was an outrageous cross with TROI, a Natick for me. If you didn't know either, it would make no difference if you guessed ABBR. Left the "I" blank 'til here.
Turns out RISHI is not a guy, but a type of poet. Deanna TROI, on the other hand is the name of a rather attractive woman commander.

Otherwise, easy, no Googling.

Also, never heard of Charles LEBRUN. Good to know. His stuff looks somewhere between Tiepolo and Gericault.

Had ATV before UTE.
When I saw "Suffering from," I thought of the expression, "She enjoys bad health."
A sweep is an ENDPLAY. have no idea what it is, just that it has 2 names. Good enough for CW puzzles.

I like puns, so this one is good.

Agree with John. BOSC and BOSCH - great! In case no one has seen it:

Nice Cuppa said...

HIGHLIGHT: Favorite answer: OXEYE. Reminds me of a more innocent age when everyday folk distinguished between different kinds of weeds, let alone daisies.

PREAMBLE: As a more recent immigrant to these shores (1987) from the home of your ex-colonial repressers (fancy insisting that you have to pay taxes to fund your national security - must be happy you rid yourself of that yoke) and one who has little immersion in native sports (Baseball is OK; your Football would be OK if you (a) actually used your feet and (b) played the game instead of standing around during commercial breaks waiting to be told what to do by your coach; Basketball would be OK if 'not-scoring' was not the most interesting part) or commercial TV (exceptions: Fox Soccer Channel and any channel that shows ST:TNG), the LATXW exposes (and fills) a few cultural/linguistic gaps. Classic movies are OK. American TV shows (BAMS meant nothing to me yesterday), except for a few transatlantic classics - forget it. On the other hand, I'm surprised how much Brit cultural nous is expected in many clues - words, phrases, nuances that I thought were exclusively used on the other side of the pond (and the Commonwealth to a lesser extent). So I get a leg up (not over, please) there. There is also quite a lot of French language/culture, which English schoolboys learn (OK, the language) and Spanish (which we don't, but it's hardly foreign over here).

GET ON WITH IT, you VERBOSE BRIT: Notwithstanding, today's LATXW was pretty dull, as others have noted, although the sequence BOSC, BRIOCHE, BOSCH was cute. I searched in vain for BINOCHE - that would have been cute, cuter, cutest; but the idea cheered me up anyway.

Despite the influence of the Ryder Cup, FOURSOME is a different game in Brit-land (no, nothing to do with ménage-à-quatre either), played by 2 pairs of players, each pair hitting one ball alternately (BORING!).

One of the major differences between US and Brit golf is that most Americans insist on playing stroke-play rather than match-play, the former akin to census-taking in Dullsville, N. Dakota, the latter a rigorous hole-by-hole test of mettle, irons, teamwork, and gamesmanship pushed to its ethical limits (and beyond).

ABBR/RISHI was the last fill for me (just had to run through the alphabet for the last letter), although the answer was obvious enough when I made it to R. A clue from my memory bank -"Palindromic Pop Group" - kept distracting me when I saw ABB... .

CHAPS in this sense was new to me. My dictionary points to CHAPARAJOS as the origin, but it sounds to me to be mixed with "CHAPPED", as in legs, which one might get if not wearing them.

Chiefly US (language/culture): ZIP, OCHER (Spelling), IKE, EERO, "Clue" is "Cluedo" in Brit-land, HEX, END-RUN.

TROI (they show ST:TNG on the Beeb), SLEDGE (Sister Sledge is better known to me) and TOTO (WoOz) shown every Xmas on the Beeb) are totally international.

With respect to Mr. Bickham, 19A "ASSENT" is primarily a noun. "Green-light" as a verbal phrase would equate to "Assent TO", I believe .... and PORTENT is not normally used as a verb - that is PORTEND.

After doing this one and the NYTXW for a few years, the phrase "learning by rote" springs to mind. IKE, EERO, EELER, MOUE, HEX, SASS (first heard (and experienced) by me in 1992), ELL (my first inclination is to put SIR for this one, but what the 'ell), ÉTÉ, STENO, RIATA, UTE (I never actually heard anyone use this contraction).



@Nice Cuppa
It's so nice to have the Brits back in our blog. Even an ex-pat.
I'm reversing what was said to me last time I was in London, "Oh it's so good to have the Americans back"... that was right after the hoof-and-mouth disease ban on travel.

I love your country, even cricket and, yes even Scotland, with their funny tossing games.

I work in the Plant Clinic of Morton Arboretum (Lisle, Illinois) and so I've sort of become their weed specialist. It's surprising how many weeds are just in Northern Illinois (487 species at last count) and that includes the OXEYE Daisy. It is a delightful little wildflower albeit the bain of every farmer. My next door neighbor actually planted them in her (cough, cough) English Garden.

I thought the same thing about ASSENT, but us Americans tend to stretch our grammar a bit to fit the situation... certainly in crossword puzzles.

The ABBR/TROI/RISHI was a total Natick for me. Since I solve it online I just ran through the alphabet till I got to R on ABBR, then... donk! It hit me what the clue meant. Sort of reverse solving. Get the entry first so you have a clue as to what the clue is.

Well, CHEERIO, old CHAP!

Rube said...

New words for me were RISHI and LEBRUN. Actually had put ABBA in, knowing it was probably wrong, but never went back to check it. At the time, I remember thinking that I didn't know what the name meant or what the band was about, making it an example of itself. Lazy. Should have run the alphabet.

The last time I ran into MOUE it was clued something like "pout (Fr)". I have a hard time equating grimace with pout, but who am I to question M-W.

@PG's comment about Porthos as a mythological giant made me Google the name. Found out that Porthos was also the Beagle in StarTrek:Enterprise. Forgot that. But this does cross reference with Deanna TROI. Never did find a reference to mythology.

*David* said...

I did not get on the wavelength of this constructor at all. My last letter was also the R crossing ABBR/RISHI. This one took me a good five minute longer then usual for a Wednesday. There was a second where I was like I'm not going to finish this puzzle.

I had lots of white space left in the NE and SW. The themes broke those sections open. I look at it now and don't know why it was such a struggle. The puzzle and theme were average, nothing special.

Zeke said...

Ok, so I had a rant ready that It's is a contraction, not an abbreviation, and that they're different. One more for the file, which is one damned big file by now.

RISHI made me look it up, and if I weren't wiser than to base a quibble 100% on a Wikipedia entry, I would quibble about the RISHI being listed as poets.

Thanks for the Percy Sledge. Anyone who ever thinks that it's a good idea to cover this song should be taken out behind the woodshed and beaten. Yes, that means you Mr Boulton.

C said...

This puzzle put up a lot more fight than a typical Wed. puzzle. Either I wasn't on the constructors wavelength or the answers were out of my sweet spot. Struggled to get to the end. Having ATV instead of UTE set me back a fair amount and ABBR crossed with the random poet even more time.

I'm with @PG, I also like MOUE as an answer. I would use it but I don't know how to pronounce it.

Tinbeni said...

Themes were a tight fit for me today.

Wednesday with two learning moments,
RISHI & LEBRUN. Always a Big Plus!

We've seen "adaptable truck" clue for UTE before.
Didn't like it then, still don't.
I have NEVER heard anyone ever refer to their vehicle with this word.
"Hey, I drive a ute!" Naaaa ...

Fave for me today was that ABBR, clever clue.
"Letter opener?" is ELL ('L') EQUATEs to tired cluing.

PuzzleGirl, exceptional write-up.
Thanks for the SLEDGE.

CrazyCatLady said...

67D Elaborate affairs - DOS? Really? Maybe UPDOS?

Had the same problem as others with ABRR/TROI/RISHI. Just not nice.

Liked Bosc and BOSCH though.

@Zeke- Ha Michael Bolton! I hear he's doing the next season of "Dancing with the Stars(?)" along with David Hasselhoff and Bristol Palin.

@PG - great write-up. Thanks for the Percy Sledge. Now I need to find out about those new Clue weapons.

SethG said...

This puzzle took me a few seconds longer than yesterday's did, a few seconds less than Monday's did.

The word is handyman. It's not a phrase.

Eric said...

This seemed to put up a struggle, but when all was said and done, my time was pretty good for a Wednesday.

The R in ABBR was my last letter. I liked that clue though -- but then, I'm a sucker for self-reference and similar tricks. (Remember the old recursive product boxes that were big in the 60s or early 70s, where the illustration was of someone holding a box of the product, and of course the box in the picture itself had a picture of the person holding a box ... and so on, conceptually forever, but practically (and most disappointingly to my child-geek mind), only until the illustration was simply a dot -- maybe three levels in all, or four if you were lucky.)

Which means I got RISHI from crosses, including that R.

TROI was a gimme, so that source of irritation for some folks, wasn't for me.

I had SEPIA instead of OCHER, which meant I couldn't put in in BRIOCHES because it didn't fit, which screwed up the whole area. Indeed, I had to Google BOSCH, and I really shouldn't have had to do that, except that there too SEPIA led me astray.

I see "sport UTE", all the time. Unadorned UTE, never. But the former is some kind of precedent, no? Indeed, if it had been clued "Sport _____", I would have found it totally unexceptionable.

@JNH: "Grooved on" -> DUG. I DUG it :-)

@CCL: Re "Elaborate affairs" -> DOS: think parties, not hairdressers...

Given _E_ER and the clue "Certain fisherman", at first I put PETER (though I guess he was still Simon then; by the time he was Peter he was a "fisher of men". So how does that pun work in the original Greek anyway; does anyone know? Nice to think Jesus was a punster :-))

Yup, PORTENT is the noun; PORTEND is the verb.

My main beef with this puzzle was with "Links groups" -> FOURSOMES. Does it have to be four? Can't any small-enough-to-be-practical number of people play golf? If it had been clued "Bridge groups" I woundn't have any problem with it at all.

I like Percy SLEDGE better than Sister SLEDGE, FWIW; not a disco fan.

ZONE is an oddly American word, I think; we rarely use it in Canada, except in a few "canned" usages that were, I presume, coined in the States. "No-parking zone" we do use, and ZONE has a specific technical meaning in the DNS (Internet plumbing jargon; you aren't expected to get the reference ;-)); those are about all I can think of. But when I cross the border, I see ZONE in surprisingly (to me) common use.

Anonymous said...

@Eric Peter was my first guess too. Peter in Greek was Petros, I believe. Petros translates as "Rock" so Peter was the Rock upon which the church would be built. Or so I heard. Sort of strange that I knew Bosch from Michael Connelly mysteries and a detective Harry Bosch who often comments on his namesake.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Eric - I *was* thinking parties. What came to mind was gala, fête, ball, etc. I've never heard anyone say they were attending a DO or I've got a really big DO to go to this weekend. Could just be me. Who knows? :>}

Nice Cuppa said...

"Do" is standard Brit-speak for a party - "that was a nice do we went to last night, dear". I also thought it was not American.

CrazyCatLady said...

@NC Welcome! Oh, so that's it. I would say, "Wow that party was quite the to DO. I had a headache for three days and put a HEX on the bartender.


I've heard of "going to DOINGS" (for parties), but I've never gone to DOS. Maybe that's just made up for crosswords.

Nice Cuppa said...

Dear CCL

Not sure if I am being taken down the proverbial garden path here, but don't see any ox-eyes on me. So:

"That was quite some do!" = great party!

"That was quite a to-do!" = what a mess!


choirwriter said...

@Zeke - I was on the same rant about contractions versus abbreviations! Glad we both got schooled on that one. I didn't even get the ABBR until I got here - couldn't figure out what ABBA had to do with it, but couldn't see anything else fitting there.

janet said...

FYI, I started reading this blog when Rex Parker was writeing for it. Today, I needed the definition for natick. What a surprise!

Urban Dictionary: Natick
Nov 2, 2006 ... A word used in crosswordese, coined by blogger Rex Parker, meaning two crossing words/clues that very very few people would know.

Eric said...

@CCL ET AL: For what it's worth, DO for "party" seems reasonable to this Southern Ontarian. That's why I assumed you were on the wrong track :-) Hadn't realized it might be a regionalism.

@Anon 2:42 [*] Yah, that's right. I was referring to the fisher+man pun:

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." (Mark 1:16-17, emphasis added)

But that's the New International Version; I see now that the King James just has "for they were fishers". So maybe it's straightforward -- a witticism, yes, but not, in the Greek, actually a pun.

@Zeke: "What's Abba got to do, got to do with it? / What's Abba but an ancient Swedish pop band?" (with apologies to Tina Turner -- and no, it's not a diss; I like Abba.)

[*] Which looks like a Bible verse -- and really, it could be any number of them, 'cause in fact they're all anonymous, aren't they? :-)