S A T U R D A Y   October 23, 2010
R. M. (Bob) Peoples

Theme: None

[If the significance of the highlighted entry
has you scratching your head, you're not alone.
It's the number one most Frequently Asked Question.]

This puzzle put up a little big of a fight, but not too much. I'm not going to rag on its level of difficulty though because I'm too distracted by the awesome long entries. In the downs we've got GREASY SPOON (11D: Hardly a Michelin three-star eatery) and CATCH A FEW Z'S (23D: Catnap). That last one was a little tricky because I was reading the clue as a noun, not a verb. Then in the acrosses we've got the fresh and colloquial "OK I GET IT ALREADY!" (17A: "You've made your point!") and the almost-too-good-to-be-true OLD WHAT'S-HIS-NAME (60A: Reference to a long-forgotten acquaintance). That's really a fabulous entry. It took a while to decode it because I reflexively entered ILL. instead of NEB. for 62D: Lincoln's st. — can't believe I'm the only one who made that mistake — so it looked like the long phrase was going to end with the word ME somehow. Had no idea on 64A: Truman secretary of state Dean ACHESON but it all finally came together when THE BEST (66A: Number one) came into focus.

Stuff I just flat-out didn't know:
  • 22A: Starfleet registry prefix (NCC). Did any of you hear George Takei on "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" recently? He was pretty funny.
  • 5D: Grieg's "__ Death" (ASE'S). This is the title of one movement of Edvard Grieg's incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's "Peer Gynt."
  • 49D: Birthplace of Merle Oberon (INDIA). Wikipedia says she was an Indian-born British actress whose best-known role was Cathy in "Wuthering Heights" (1939). (I tried to read Wuthering Heights once. It was really zzzzzzzz.....)
  • 51D: __ Maria Remarque, author of "All Quiet on the Western Front" (ERICH). Obviously, I've heard of this title, but I've never known the author.
  • 8A: Small hounds (BEAGLES). PuzzleHusband often threatens to get our family a "coupla hounds." If he ever does, I'll be blogging from ... somewhere else.
  • 20A: Atomic number of nitrogen (SEVEN). Also the prospective name of George Costanza's prospective child (for a while anyway).
  • 27A: Turn left (HAW). GEE, on the other hand, means "turn right." Good to know if you ever find yourself riding a mule.
  • 34A: One who draws exceptionally well? (MEGASTAR). This isn't a reference to someone's ability to draw, like, with a pen, but to draw a crowd.
  • 40A: Surfer's destination (WEB PAGE). I tried WEB SITE first.
  • 47A: Beehive, say (COIF). I knew right away the clue was referring to a hairstyle, but I needed a cross before I could come up with the right four-letter word.
  • 58A: One sold at Sotheby's in 1989 for more than $50,000 (CEL). This clue refers to an animation cel from the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" If you're interested in learning some background information about CELs, this page is pretty interesting.
  • 63A: Taking by force (SEIZURE). Is this a mistake or am I just reading the clue wrong? Sees to me that the clue is a verb and the answer is a noun. Are the two substitutable? I am probably just missing something.
  • 7D: Destination in a poetic riddle (ST. IVES).
  • As I was going to St Ives
    I met a man with seven wives
    Each wife had seven sacks
    Each sack had seven cats
    Each cat had seven kits
    Kits, cats, sacks, wives
    How many were going to St Ives?
  • 12D: Plain in the Southwest (LLANO).

  • [BoDeans: Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas]

  • 18D: When Sunday NFL action starts on the West Coast (TEN A.M.). Have I mentioned how much I hate living on the East Coast during the post-season?
  • 31D: Equal opening (ISO-). I've seen this prefix pop up a lot in the puzzles I've been solving recently, so I think it's finally cemented in my brain.
  • 48D: Smashed (OILED). As in ... sozzled.
  • 59D: Fast time (LENT). It's the time of year that some religions encouraging fasting (i.e., not eating).
  • 61D: Art today? (ARE). While in the past you might have heard someone use the phrase "thou art," today you're more likely to hear "you are."
Crosswordese 101: The biggest problem you have when you see a clue like 32D: Place to buy tkts., where know the clue is looking for an abbrevation for station? You don't know if the answer will be STA or STN. They're both used in CrossWorld. STA is much more common, but it wouldn't have been a good guess today. Unfortunately, there's just no way to know for sure until you check the cross.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 46A: Preschool group? (ROE).
  • 56A: Tank swimmer (TETRA).
  • 9D: Fish often smoked (EEL).
  • 57D: "Off the Court" autobiographer (ASHE).
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Everything Else — 1A: Sources of inside info? (CT SCANS); 15A: Question at a wine tasting (HOW IS IT?); 16A: Like some glass display cases (REAR-LIT); 19A: Stroke (PET); 21A: Place for controls (PANEL); 24A: E-mails (SENDS); 26A: Hurting (SORE); 29A: In a level-headed way (SANELY); 31A: 1987 Beatty bomb (ISHTAR); 38A: Insert casually (STICK IN); 41A: Precisely (ON THE DOT); 43A: Short-changed (ROOKED); 44A: Energy problem (ANEMIA); 50A: Health, in Le Havre (SANTE); 52A: "Coming Home" subject (NAM); 54A: Wrinkles (LINES); 65A: He played Captain Davies on "Roots" (ED ASNER); 1D: Do some food prep (CHOP); 2D: Keepsake (TOKEN); 3D: Swing both ways (SWITCH HIT); 4D: Smoke, briefly (CIG); 6D: Evenings in the classifieds (NITES); 8D: Cherry, so to speak (BRAND NEW); 10D: Seniors' PAC (AARP); 13D: It might get you down (EIDER); 14D: Pizazz (STYLE); 25D: "Against the Wind" singer (SEGER); 28D: Rise, and maybe shine (WAKEN); 30D: Cabinet department since 1913 (LABOR); 33D: Teases (RIDES); 35D: Decide to defend someone, say (TAKE A CASE); 36D: Wine selection concern (AGE); 37D: Wine selection (RED); 39D: Irrespective of (NO MATTER); 42D: Some silverware parts (TINES); 45D: In addition (AT THAT); 47D: Nip and tuck (CLOSE); 53D: Notes (MEMOS); 55D: Steer clear of (SHUN).


howardlwatson said...

What is it about South West corners? I had the most problem there. never fell apart until I got "Old what's his name and catch a few z's. I must be getting old.

Anonymous said...

13D left me totally puzzled: It might get you down = EIDER??? Can someone enlighten me?

Anonymous said...

Ok, just finally found a definition for EIDER...large sea ducks known for their "down" feathers...UGH. Kept coming up with a web page for a company named Eider before finally getting the definition. Still think it was a stretch, like many of the clues from this puzzle.

Sfingi said...

Could not get almost the entire West Coast, except EDASNER, though got all the East and center.

Had faG for CIG, forGETIT for OKIGETIT(ALREADY) (mine is better), itsWHATSHISNAME for OLDWHATSHISNAME, Amigos for ISHTAR.

Had to Google INDIA, SANTE, NCC.

Mini-theme - Wine selection.

I always wondered about Germans with Maria as a middle name. I suppose it's religious, like having Rosario as a man's name in Sicily. In Puerto Rico, it's a girl's name.

All Quiet on the Western Front is Im Westen Nichts Neues in German, which is "In the West, nothing new." I guess that sounds flip in English.

I was mini-appalled at BRANDNEW. Guess I'm old-fashioned. Or all my references have floated off and been replaced. And I won't tell you the reference if you don't know already.

Anonymous said...

The puzzle was fun and PG's write-up was great. Thanks for explaining "modern art" because even after getting "are" with crosses I was scratching my head.
It's always nice to be rewarded for being a senior when the answers are Ed Asner and Dean Acheson.
PG, I enjoyed your comment on the post-season. As a left-coaster I looked at the clock during the final innings of a NYY-TEX games and felt bad for the Yankee fans.
It was after midnight in the Bronx.
When MNF started I lived near NYC and was exhausted on Tuesdays.
Mike in SoCal

Van55 said...

Cute. Maybe too cute in places.

badrog said...

The STIVES thing at 7D was my first solve, but I was terribly sad when, as a cross, it wouldn't let me enter allrighTALREADY at 17A.

And was sadder still that faulty memory let me put in stimSON before ACHESON at 64A.

Wasn't going to mention that the NAM at 52A was almost as helpful as an actual cross for filling in the long 60A (....NAME), until I noticed on review that there was yet another NAM at 18D. But I don't imagine this qualifies as a mini-theme.

New Words of the Day: LLANO and SANTE.

And since I wasn't quite sure whether 22A's 'Starfleet' was from S-Trek or S-Wars, I later G-ed "NCC Starfleet" and was happy to find that, "officially", NCC doesn't really stand for anything, but that "non-canon"
Trekkie print sources have oodles of explanations.

Rube said...

Made most of the same mistakes as you, @Sfingi, but had different Googles. We even have the same takes on Maria as a man's middle name and BRANDNEW.

Favorite answer was GREASYSPOON. Brings back memories of the dive about half a block from my High School where all the JDs with their DAs hung out. Long since gone.

@PG, tell him that getting a beagle is the first step in divorce proceedings. Beagles belong in the country, not the 'burbs. Personally, I'd rather not see such a reference in my puzzle.

Anonymous said...

Even using the crass meaning of CHERRY, I have never heard CHERRY used as an adjective before when it has nothing to do with the color, the fruit, or the wood. Is this common usage? I think the clue could be better here.

I also wasn't crazy about HOW IS IT? for "question at a wine tasting" -- there's nothing specifically about a wine tasting in that question -- it could be a question at almost any event.

Guess I'm feeling picky today.

Eric said...

This was a struggle, but I made it.


But NCC, ST IVES, SEGER, and ERICH were gimmes, and TETRAS a crosswordese almost-gimme.

I knew Nitrogen's in the 6-8 range, just from picturing where it sits in the periodic table. Of course word length ruled out 6. I could have figured it out from there, but figured it'd be faster to wait for crosses. (Now that I wonder how I could have figured it out, the answer's obvious: H2O but NH3. (Darn, I wish this blog allowed <sub> and <sup> tags...))

Favourite clue: "Preschool group?" for ROE.

@Sfingi: I didn't know what the original German was; thanks. WW I (at least, the European trenches) consisted of long stretches of "nothing new" -- including, alas, the ever-increasing numbers of dead on both sides. To anyone who knows that, "in the West, nothing new" doesn't sound flip, but just a fair summation of too many days' news. I surmise that it, or something like it, must have been something like a catchphrase in German war reporting. The novel came out in 1929, when such a catchphrase would have been painfully recent memory. "All quiet on the western front", by contrast, sounds quite comforting -- a reassurance that there's no imminent threat, as in "three o'clock and all's well". It fails to convey the weary monotony of the original. (In fairness, adding the word "front" was important, to provide context for a readership to whom the trenches had in fact been in the east, if not overseas.)

Hmm, there's almost a WW I minitheme going on here, if you're willing to stretch it a bit. BEAGLES, I mean :-)

Anonymous said...

Besides loving cherry pie the word has frequently been used when describing a perfectly restored classic car. As in, "Wow, your '57 Chevy convertible is cherry, man." It's also used to descibe a well-maintained boat here in Newport Beach at least. What's the problem? Too much sex on the brain?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't that use of cherry be "like new" rather than "brand new"? I agree that the "like new" condition of a restored vehicle is the constructor's intended meaning, but the clue is off.

ddbmc said...

Lincoln's st. threw me, as I supposed I wanted st. to be capitalized for STATE. I intererpreted as: street- but ONE PENNSYLVANIA AVE didn't fit.

Never saw ISHTAR and never wanted to.
CHERRY-definitely a male word, with regard to engine driven machinery...
Cherry, Cherry

@Eric, thanks for DEAN ACHESON. I kept looking at the letters (hadn't filled in ASHE yet) and couldn't remember the name. BUT D'oh, it is one of those names that I have to remember with the "first" name, too!

I wanted POUF or BOUF instead of COIF-so got fouled up in the sw for a bit.

@Tin, sorry about your Yanks....

Eric said...

@ddbmc: I can't claim credit for Dean A. -- that's one of the Anon's. (Yeah, I know what you mean about needing the first name. I had no idea who he was or what he did, only that somebody named Dean Acheson played in 20th-century American political history. Without the first name, the last one wouldn't have meant anything to me at all.)

I've never heard "cherry" as slang, except in the sexual sense. Seems somewhat similar to the vehicular sense ("new" vs. "as good as new" respectively). It's hard to imagine that one doesn't derive from the other, though which way around, I'm not about to hazard a guess :-/

So, why are TETRAs called that, anyway? Is there indeed something fourish about them?

Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl ... Thanks, I always wondered why one word was colored in your favorite color (lol!).
Wonderful write-up.

Thanks for the picture of the late # 7, Mickey Mantle. When I met him (as a 8yo kid) he was my hero. And the reason I became a rabid New York Yankee fan.
Villa Incognito is a bit sad today.
Avatar will provide comfort at sunset. Oy veh!!!

I enjoyed this puzzle very much.

Fave was OK, I GET IT ALREADY. (It got a much needed laugh this morning).

Now I'm rooting for the SF Giants tonignt.

Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl ... Thanks, I always wondered why one word was colored in your favorite color (lol!).
Wonderful write-up.

Thanks for the picture of the late # 7, Mickey Mantle. When I met him (as a 8yo kid) he was my hero. And the reason I became a rabid New York Yankee fan.
Villa Incognito is a bit sad today.
Avatar will provide comfort at sunset. Oy veh!!!

I enjoyed this puzzle very much.

Fave was OK, I GET IT ALREADY. (It got a much needed laugh this morning).

Now I'm rooting for the SF Giants tonignt.

backbiter said...

23D tripped me big time. I entered "Catch some z's" It fit, but it all fell into place somehow or another. Also, I would have clued 63A as "Epileptic's plight". But that's just me. I really liked this puzzle. With the exception of 15A: Clue: Question at a wine tasting. Answer: How is it
That is lame. Not as lame as Ishtar, but I'm only referring to this puzzle. Everything else was cool. I take that last statement back. The answer to 4 down was gross. "Cig" Ugh. The only time I'm a snob is when it comes to Cigars and Bourbon. I'm down to earth except on those two topics. If you smoke cigarettes, do yourself a favor and switch over. You'll feel better for it. Rant over.


somogyi623 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mokus said...

Agree that "like new" is better than "brand new."

Larry S said...

Ditto for many comments including "Great write-up, PG." I had no clue about Art = ARE until you explained it.
I'm okay with 'taking by force' equals 'seizure' as a gerund phrase paralleling a noun. A bit forced, maybe, but not an error.
I'm not sure how the male Marias work in the French/German context of Remarque, but in Spain (where I lived for some time) Jose Maria was a man's name but Maria Jose a woman's. Always liked that.

Tom in the D said...

I think I need a CT SCAN. I DNF yesterday, but, somehow was able to finish today. SW had me stumped for awhile cuz I had "it's instead of old...whats his name. Kinda ironic that the same answer that stopped me from finishing yesterday ( 1A, bulletin board material, I had memo and wouldn't give it up), was in today's puzzle, at 53D, and helped me complete the SW. Googled India and finished.....yay, me!! @PG. ...big ten is looking dominant, MSU is 8-0. Have a good night all.

Anonymous said...

According to onlineslangdictionary.com.
"cherry" as a noun means hymen, a virgin, or virginity. As an adjective, it means virginal, new or in mint condition. It has a 68% vulgar rating (where 100% is the most vulgar).

shrub5 said...

@Eric: According to my desktop dictionary,
tetra --
Origin mid 20th cent.: abbreviation of modern Latin Tetragonopterus (former genus name), literally 'tetragonal-finned.'