T H U R S D A Y   October 7, 2010
Donna S. Levin

Theme: On the Puzzle Page — Theme answers are familiar phrases that end with words related to crossword puzzles.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Stand firm (PUT ONE'S FOOT DOWN).
  • 29A: *Find by chance (COME ACROSS).
  • 37A: *Utility company network (POWER GRID).
  • 49A: *1990s-2000s kids' show starring a pooch named for its color (BLUE'S CLUES).
  • 64A: Where this grid's starred answers' ends have particular relevance (ON THE PUZZLE PAGE).
Hey, everybody! It's me, PuzzleGirl! Did you miss me? Well, I know I missed you. I hope to be here every day for the foreseeable future so you might as well just get used to it. Thanks again, though, to Amy, SethG, and Doug P. for filling in. I couldn't ask for better crossword buddies. And I mean that sincerely.

So let's talk about the puzzle, shall we? Over the last couple of days I've decided to try the method of looking for the reveal clue after I get the first theme answer and then seeing if I can figure out the rest. I've only been slightly successful with this strategy. Today I had to get two theme answers (the DOWN and ACROSS ones) before I knew what was going on and even then, I slapped CROSSWORD PUZZLE in where ON THE PUZZLE PAGE was supposed to go. Knowing what the theme was about did help me get POWER GRID, but I'm ashamed to admit that I totally blanked on BLUE'S CLUES. The pooch and the color? That's got Clifford the Big Red Dog written all over it for me. And my brain wouldn't budge until I had a bunch of crosses. Argh.

  • 7A: Privately, to a lawyer (IN CAMERA). I don't know if I picked this up through osmosis from working for lawyers for so many years or if I learned it from a crime fiction book. Either way, I'll take it.
  • 15A: Like some Egyptian churches (COPTIC). No idea.
  • 35A: Pierre's peeper (OEIL). Have I ever told you about the print I have that's called "Trompe L'oeil"? Maybe I'll take a picture of it and post it here. It's pretty cool. And PuzzleKids and their friends love to snicker at it.
  • 41A: Fig leaf's outer edges? (EFS). Two letter Fs are on the outer edges of the phrase "fig leaf."
  • 45A: Surprise at the door (POP IN). This is one of two clues that totally tripped me up because I thought the answer would be a different part of speech. This one I thought was a noun. See also 69A: Tied (EVENED), which I thought would be an adjective.
  • 54A: Gets free, as a smoke (BUMS). Had No Idea what this was getting at until I had half the letters in place. (It's about borrowing, i.e., bumming, a cigarette.)
  • 62A: Conceive (IDEATE). Oh hey, there's our favorite word again.
  • 71A: Ritual repasts (SEDERS). This also caused me a bit of trouble in the bottom of the grid. I tried FEASTS first.
  • 7D: "This tape will self-destruct in five seconds" fictional spy org. (IMF). I assume this is from the "Mission: Impossible" television show/movies. … Yep, Impossible Missions Force. I vaguely remember the TV show from when I was a kid and I have seen the movies but I guess I didn't pay that much attention. Click the play button. You know you want to.

  • 9D: Gloat (CROW). Oh yeah, I tried BRAG first.
  • 13D: VCR's "Go back" (REW). Not, as the PuzzleKids like to say, "fast backward."
  • 14D: Abby's twin (ANN). Ann Landers and Dear Abby. Have they been showing up in puzzles a lot lately? I've been chipping away at my backlog of puzzles so maybe it hasn't actually been recently.
  • 40D: Follow closely (DOG). What an awesome clue for this common word!
  • 46D: Compound used as a lab solvent (PENTANE). No idea.
  • 64D: CIA predecessor (OSS). Yesterday at work we had a presentation by an FBI agent on the topic of "Economic Espionage." It was really cool. But there was one point where he was rattling off a string of acronyms and I so wanted him to say OSS. Since the specific case he was talking about was just prosecuted a couple years ago, I guess the OSS wasn't involved.
  • 66D: The London Zoo has one (ZED). The phrase "The London Zoo" includes one letter Z which, in London, is pronounced zed.
  • 67D: Ms. evaluators (EDS.). I'm used to seeing the abbreviation for manuscript as MS (both uppercase letters), but I must have seen it this way too because I got it pretty quickly.
Crosswordese 101: There are a couple GINAs it's good to know (the actresses Lollobrigida and Gershon) and one GEENA (Davis most notably of "Thelma & Louise" and "Commander in Chief") but there's only one GENA and that's GENA 53A: Rowlands of "Gloria." If she is clued in relation to one of her other movies, the most likely candidates are "The Notebook," "Another Woman," "Hope Floats," and "A Woman Under the Influence."

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 24A: 1871 Cairo premiere (AIDA).
  • 18D: Bell-shaped lily (SEGO).
  • 25D: British mil. honor (DSO).
  • 30D: Data for a neurologist, briefly (EEG).
  • 60D: Official gem of South Australia (OPAL).
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Everything Else — 1A: The Bob Hope Classic component and others (PRO-AMS); 16A: Robin's band (MERRY MEN); 19A: Writer de Beauvoir (SIMONE); 20A: Amiable (SWEET); 21A: PIN requester (ATM); 22A: European capital (RIGA); 27A: Latin god (DEUS); 33A: Own up to (ADMIT); 36A: Eastern theater genre (NOH); 44A: iPod model (NANO); 55A: Flub (SLIP); 57A: Highest power? (NTH); 58A: One in a cast (ACTOR); 68A: Woo, in a way (SERENADE); 70A: Snuck up on, perhaps (STARTLED); 1D: Angel dust, briefly (PCP); 2D: Caused to get up (ROUSTED); 3D: Best (OPTIMUM); 4D: Unit quantified in a subscript (ATOM); 5D: Secondary (MINOR); 6D: Having lovely panoramas (SCENIC); 8D: Modernists (NEOS); 10D: Johnson of "Laugh-In" (ARTE); 11D: "Frankly, __ ..." (MY DEAR); 12D: Poker face's lack (EMOTION); 21D: Oklahoma city (ADA); 23D: Lovey-dovey (AMOROUS); 26D: Resilient wood (ASH); 28D: Nurse (SIP); 31D: Broadcast (AIR); 32D: Hair holder (CLIP); 34D: Loads (TONS); 38D: WWII female (WAC); 39D: It usually shows more detail: Abbr. (ENL.); 41D: Wane (EBB); 42D: Swine __ (FLU); 43D: Indonesian island (SUMATRA); 47D: Two, for one (INTEGER); 48D: "Never mind" ("NAH"); 50D: Artist known for spatial impossibilities (ESCHER); 51D: Part of QE2: Abbr. (ELIZ.); 52D: Walks like a crab (SIDLES); 56D: Irk (PEEVE); 59D: Big top, for one (TENT); 61D: Brusque (RUDE); 63D: Mimicked (APED); 65D: Safety device (NET).



Oh Puzzlegirl, how we missed you!!!!
But you did have some super stand-ins, and thanks to all of them too.

Nice Donna Levin puzzle. Not for the theme, which was just okay, but for all the clever cluing.

I didn’t have any trouble sailing through this one, but I noticed some things that may have a distinct generational bias. For those of you youngsters who often see the ACTOR GENA Rowlands in CWPs but are not real familiar with her, here’s a little tribute clip. And then there’s the famous “Frankly MY DEAR, I don’t give a---” line from the movie “Gone With The Wind”. And how often do you see WAC (Women’s Army Corps) in a puzzle and say WTH. In spite of our slower brains, sometimes we oldsters get an edge because of the dated content.

Have a super Thursday y’all… enjoy your little pumpkins!


Oh, I forgot to include the---
Tribute to ESCHER.

SethG said...

Who's clues? One named one's last car Blue. Pictured is Steve, the first host.

I liked starting with PCP. With the MO in place, I entered SMOOCHY for [Lovey-dovey]. [Unit quantified in a subscript] is a special kind of awkward.

Scully2066 said...

PG it is great to get you back - plus thanks for finding outstanding puzzlers to stand-in for you!!

Really liked today's puzzle and totally agree with your comments for POPIN and EVENER - it took me a whlie to figure those two out. And I also wanted Clifford for the pooch

Thank you for explaining EDS, EFS and ZED - didn't understand those clues at all. I was hoping the London Zoo had some new species of animal on display.

Everyone have a great day and welcome back PG!!

badrog said...

Egypt: COPTIC (the ancient (1st Cent. AD) and still very much active) Orthodox Christian sect, and AIDA.
Wouldn't ESCHER's etchings fall into the trompe l'OEIL (fool-the-eye) art genre? Wikipedia refers to it as a technique rather than a genre, and M.C.E. isn't even listed as a practitioner. Is he not considered a serious artist?

She hates surprises at the door; especially POP-INs at 3:30AM.

Is Huckleberry Hound still around?

Donna L. said...

PuzzleGirl, of course we missed you. Welcome back.

Your instinct to put CROSSWORD PUZZLE at 64A was more correct than you realize: when I first constructed this puzzle, that's what the entry was. Rich N. rightly pointed out to me the "CROSS" dupe with CROSSWORD and COME ACROSS, and asked for a revision. You must've been channeling the first version. :-)

- Donna L.

Van55 said...

It's not often that I DNF a LAT puzzle, let alone a Thursday entry. Today's the exception. The POPIN/GENA/PENTANE cross totally flummoxed me.

I also think this one was a bit strained elsewhere. The EFS and ZED clues are of a sort that I find increasingly tiresome. EVENED is odd. BLUESCLUES is obscure to most, I think. IDEATE sucks, still. IMF is the International Monetary Fund for most of us -- taking us back to the TV version of Mission Impossible is, well, Thursday in the extreme. OSS is as weak, in its way, as SSN or SST, in my opinion.

Not my cuppa, today.

Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl, I did miss you, TONS.
Amy, SethG & Doug, thanks for your filling in for the MAT Queen.

Saw it was a Donna Levin and knew we were in for a FUN Thursday.

Only gripe was 'grid' being in both POWER GRID and in the reveal clue.
I wonder if Rich changed this and forgot to proof-read.

Donna, I think your first instinct CROSSWORD PUZZLE was great.

SIMONE, PENTANE and BLUES CLUES (don't watch kid shows) were all via the crosses..

Shouldn't 41A clue been "Fig Leaf" (not leaf's) to get the EF'S answer?

Two, for one, yielding INTEGER was clever.

Then there was that little thing with my Bad Ass, Bronx Bombers, aka Murder's Row, 27 times World Series Champs, New York Yankees who COME ACROSS with, yet another, come from behind win.

Yup, it was a beautiful day!

*David* said...

I felt the IMF/IN CAMERA was a bit obscure albiet inferrable on the across. I also would've clued IMF as the International Monetary Fund that has been so busy the past couple of years versus a norganization in a 60's TV show.

Otherwise I really flew through this one with no real problems.

C said...

Today's blogger seemed familiar, can't put my finger on why though ...

Welcome back @PG.

I don't like going to the reveal clue first as I like to see if I can get the theme without it. Pure personal preference.

Fun puzzle today. I have written the word AIDA so much that I am tempted to actually watch the opera but then the word opera registers in my brain and my thoughts quickly turn back to sports.

KJGooster said...

I put down LSD instead of PCP and consequently the NW was a big blank for a while, even though the first thing I thought of for 1A was (the correct) PROAMS. Otherwise pretty smooth. I caught the theme pretty early but had ZED in place so didn't fall into the CROSSWORDPUZZLE trap.

COPTIC MERRYMEN sounds like a good name for a band.

Anonymous said...

I had fun with the puzzle today. I think that 67 down "Ms. evaluators" refers to a magazine called Ms.. I don't know if it is still in being published.

Eric said...

Easy for a Thursday: good time and no Googles.

Cute theme; love the self-reference! Never heard of BLUE'S CLUES, but got it entirely from crosses. Likewise PROAMS.

"Two, for one" -> INTEGER: SWEET!

Maybe Phelps and crew actually worked for the International Monetary Fund :-)

IN CAMERA, SIMONE de Beauvoir, and COPTIC were gimmes.

There was also once a COPTIC language, in which was written an important trove of Gnostic Christian texts, now known as the Nag Hammadi Library, which dates from the 3rd and 4th Centuries CE, and was discovered in Egypt in 1945. They're important because Gnosticism lost out to (what we now call) mainstream Christianity, so the early Church ruthlessly suppressed it as heresy, in part by destroying as many Gnostic writings as they could lay hands on. Thus, we're left with only the few documents that survived the purge. (The Da Vinci Code refers to the Gnostic Gospels. As inaccurate as the book is claimed to be in some respects (I don't know enough to have an opinion either way), those non-canonical Gospels do exist -- and we have some of them only from copies in the Nag Hammadi Library.) I had no idea there were still Copts in the world until a disused school in my home town was converted into a Coptic church. Cool!

@badrog: "Trompe l'OEIL" seems to have a more specific meaning than its literal translation, "fool the eye", would imply. It refers specifically to two-dimensional art that appears three-dimensional, and so fools one into thinking the objects depicted are actually there. The English chalk artist Julian Beever has produced some stunning examples -- I especially like his Coke bottle. Escher's work doesn't fit that narrower definition. Quite the opposite: it fools one into seeing something that couldn't possibly be there.

John Wolfenden said...

Welcome back PG...

Really wanted "Compound used as a lab solvent" to be ACETONE, as it's the most common and my dad the chemist used to come home smelling like it.

Managed to get IDEATE right off the bat after having been annoyed by it in many previous puzzles.

I was laid low by the DSO/NOH cross, and had to guess at the vowel.

"Two, for one" for INTEGER is pretty clever.

Badrog, I believe Escher is considered by the art world to be more of a visual joke teller than a legitimate artist. For my money, if Magritte is an artist then MC is too.

Larry S said...

This was enjoyable and clever, but I was left grumbling because like @John Wolfenden, "I was laid low by the DSO/NOH cross, and had to guess at the vowel." Not happy when there's a cross of two pieces of obscure crosswordese.

Tinbeni said...

@Larry S
Over in Rexville, aka "Rex Parker does the NYT Crossword" that type of obscure cluing (two answers that "probably" only 25% of the solvers know) is known as a Natick.

And you and John W. are probably right about the DSO/NOH cross.

I didn't know NOH (learning moment, yea!) and was only 'slightly sure' that DSO was Distinguished Service Order.

(I guess you could say these things are a pet PEEVE).

Eric said...

I had DSM and DSC before DSO (Distinguished Service Medal, Cross, and Order resp.)
NOH was an NHO, i.e. Never Heard Of :-)

CrazyCatLady said...

A good example of trompe l'oile from the Huntington

I have to ADMIT this was not my OPTIMUM performance ON THE PUZZLE PAGE - nothing to CROW about. I did think the GRID was fun and the theme was SWEET. I had MINOR probs with IMF, SIMONE, IN CAMERA and was CLUEless about PENTANE. All was evened out through the crosses.

@PG: So glad you're back
@Tinbeni NOH and DSO would have been a *Nattick* for me if I was solving in DOWN mode.

CrazyCatLady said...

Oops! I meant wasn't.
@PG I also forgot to say thanks for your outstanding *stand ins*.

Sfingi said...

Found this difficult, but kept at it, since I wasn't near a Google machine. Theme was so-so.

Had a Nattick at OEIL crosses EEG, since I don't know basic French. Could have been OkIL or OcIL, for all I knew. I thought OEIL meant oil in trompe 'oeil, so that didn't ring a bell. Italian is il occhio and German is das Auge, neither of which help.

SIMONE and GENA, both gutsy ladies.

Didn't know DSO, but didn't notice it.

Never heard of PENTANE, which appeared from crosses. Turns out, it has a lot of uses, and the carbons and hydrogens can be rearranged to make something different.

@Wolfenden - Escher is quite collectible by both artists and mathematicians. I missed my chance in the '60s to get one cheap. I guess I wasn't as impressed as I should have been. Bought a 17th century print instead. I'm just not meant to be rich. Escher is especially important to the Penrose crowd of mathematicians.

@C - when sports come on, I quickly turn on opera, or at least Neapolitan music. Unless it's golf, and I quickly fall asleep.

@Vans -BLUESCLUES' dog is known to toy collectors.

Our early American trompe l'oiel artist is Charles Wilson Peale, of the Peale family.

@Eric - good explanation on trompe l'oiel - and
@Donna - glad I know what it really means, now.

Tom said...

Also had LSD instead of PCP...which led to a DNF..Never once thought twice about it being wrong, even though I know the difference, not thru personal experience, mind you. Used "one across" to get 3d, and was given optimal, which just made matters worse. Got the rest of the puzzle somewhat easily. A big WB to you, PG.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Sfingi: You're absolutely right. Charles Wilson Peale's painting of his boys Rafael and Rembrandt (or Titian) on the staircase was the original American Tromp L'oiel. I wanted to include it, but ran out of time and patience.

My friends (who were twins) from high school had an original C.W. Peale family/ancestor portrait hanging over their mantle. I was always in total awe after I became an art history major. I don't think they had any idea of what they had in their living room. I'm pretty sure they finally figured it out.

For years you couldn't escape BLUES CLUES if you shopped at Target or had Trick or Treaters at Halloween.