W E D N E S D A Y   October 20, 2010
Elizabeth A. Long

Theme: Pretty Letters All in a Row— Familiar phrases that begin with a letter are rendered "literally."

Theme answers:
  • 4D: Online IRS document submission system, literally? (EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE). [e-file]
  • 7D: '60s sitcom set at Fort Courage, literally? (FFFFFFFFFFFFFFF). ["F Troop"]
  • 8D: Skimpy bikini part, literally? (GGGGGGGGGGGGGGG). [g-string]
Wow. Big ups again to Doug P. for stepping in the last few days. I was having some major technical difficulties and I really didn't want to leave you all hanging, so I'm really grateful to Doug! But now I'm back and I don't plan to be gone any time in the near future, so I guess we'll just have to make the best of it.

Today's theme is … interesting. I really like the E clue and the G clue, but I'm not crazy about the F clue. I mean, sure, it's a bunch of Fs that I suppose can be described as a "troop," but the other theme answers — "file" and "string" — are much better because they can both be synonyms of "line" which is really how the letters are situated. For a "troop" I would rather a group of Fs all bunched together, or maybe in a couple of lines. Like a troop in formation? Do I even know what I'm talking about? … My parents were hippies I really don't know anything about the military except what I learned from "Hogan's Heroes" and for some reason that always struck me as a tad unrealistic.

The rest of the puzzle is decent but not outstanding. Obviously, concessions were made for the theme. In fact, I think a solver's overall impression of this puzzle will depend on his or her evaluation of the theme because there's not really much else to get excited about. For me, I'm in the thumbs-up category but I'm not doing cartwheels or anything. (Not that you'd probably get to me to do cartwheels for something I was actually super excited about either, but you get my point.)

[Not PuzzleGirl]

  • 16A: Fit of fever (AGUE). Do you know how to pronounce this word? I don't think I've ever said it out loud, but in my head it's sounds like EGG-YOU.
  • 32A: Take the stand again (RETESTIFY). I read this as "Take the stand againST" and couldn't figure out what prefix was needed.
  • 54A: Working hours for night owls (LATE SHIFT).

  • 60A: Creamy cheese (BRIE). I go through phases where I cook a lot and I'm in one of those phases right now. The other night I made a potato soup with apples and brie that was to die for!
  • 18D: Arrived at a base, in a way (SLID).
  • 50D: Plaint from a pirate (AARGH). See now, this drives me nuts. Pirates do not say AARGH, they say ARRR. Period. Says PuzzleGirl.
Crosswordese 101: I TOO can be clued as a partial ("Am _____ late?," "Was _____ harsh?") or as the Langston Hughes poem, sometimes referred to as 14D: "I TOO, Sing America." It's not too terribly long or anything, but it's quite moving.
I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 12A: Author __ Stanley Gardner (ERLE).
  • 38A: Gen. Robt. __ (E. LEE).
  • 53A: Metric energy unit (ERG).
  • 28D: Hard to hold (EELY).
  • 33D: Mythical Himalayan (YETI).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Use chicanery on (DUPE); 5A: Pole worker? (ELF); 8A: Lots (GOBS); 13A: Islamic mystic (SUFI); 15A: Work on, as a bone (GNAW); 17A: Roosevelts' successors as first family (TAFTS); 19A: Festive event (GALA); 20A: Desert with a view of Beersheba (NEGEV); 22A: One studying saucers (UFOLOGIST); 24A: Awfully long time (EON); 26A: Popular pâté (FOIE GRAS); 27A: He's not always a beast (WEREWOLF); 31A: Cat chaser (DOG); 34A: Mass unit (GRAM); 39A: Gather (INFER); 41A: Arizona river (GILA); 42A: It has a floor on Wall St. (NYSE); 43A: Good feeling that lingers (AFTERGLOW); 45A: Common Mkt. (EEC); 48A: Achieves via trickery (FINAGLES); 49A: Lets up (EASES OFF); 56A: Libya neighbor (EGYPT); 61A: Volunteer (OFFER); 63A: "La maja desnuda" painter (GOYA); 64A: Stare at impolitely (OGLE); 65A: Words before then (IF SO); 66A: Pita sandwich (GYRO); 67A: Playground shout (WHEE); 68A: Co. whose logo features Mercury carrying a bouquet (FTD); 69A: "What __ around ..." (GOES); 1D: Official with a list (DEAN); 2D: Attempt to persuade (URGE); 3D: Outlet connection (PLUG); 5D: Educ. guess (EST.); 6D: Island cookout (LUAU); 9D: Studio warning light (ON AIR); 10D: Wood for model fliers (BALSA); 11D: Deals with, as a fly (SWATS); 21D: Promises (VOWS); 23D: War on Poverty org. (OEO); 25D: "It must have been someone else" ("NOT I"); 27D: St. Paul's architect (WREN); 29D: AAA suggestions (RTES.); 30D: Filmmaker Wertmüller (LINA); 35D: Brooklet (RILL); 36D: Ointment ingredient (ALOE); 37D: Animal mouths (MAWS); 40D: Actor Auberjonois (RENÉ); 44D: Like a once-in-a-blue-moon event (RARE); 46D: Hook shape (ESS); 47D: Small to mid-size salmon (COHO); 49D: Macaroni shape (ELBOW); 51D: It turns a lot in rush hour (STILE); 52D: Stereotypical poodle name (FIFI); 55D: __-drive (TEST); 57D: Fluctuate wildly (YO-YO); 58D: Combustible pile (PYRE); 59D: New Mexico resort (TAOS); 62D: Gun, in slang (ROD).


Van55 said...

I think all three theme answers are great. I agree that the theme necessitated perhaps too many compromises with the fill, including the use of cheater squares, top and bottom, that make the grid look odd.

Still, there is some excellent fill: FINAGLES, UFOLOGIST, FOIEGRAS to name three examples.

Above average over all for my taste.

Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl, How do I say this?
Doug P was a good fill-in ... but he's NOT my favorite PuzzleGirl.
Wonderful write-up !!!

The theme ... WOW, WOW, WOW !!!
I liked this very much. Esp. the G-String (they do look nice on the girls at Clearwater Beach).

Fave today was my mantra, "AARGH" !!!
As my NY Yankees who, like Gardner as he SLID into the base (in the photo), are letting things slip away. Tears ...

SUFI, the Islamic mystic
WREN, St.Paul's architect
LINA, Filmmaker Wertmuller's first name.
I think I'll let them be forgotten by Noon.

CNBC made EEC, Common Mkt., a gimmie.

All-in-all, a FUN Wednesday.
It left a nice AFTER GLOW ...

Thank you, Elizabeth.

Scully2066 said...

What an interesting puzzle - my first with this type of letter strings - I agree some of the fill was a bit odd but I think the concept over-rides the bumps.

ITOO loved seeing FOIEGRAS and BRIE so yummy and FINAGLES is just fun to say.

Did anyone else notice we have URGE, ERG and AARGH all in the same grid? Those three just seem to go together like the line with WEREWOLF and DOG :)

Happy Hump Day All!!

SethG said...

With GNAW and GALA in place, I saw the bikini clue and immediately entered the Gs, the Fs, and the Es. That made this kinda easy, other than remembering how to spell FOIx GRAS.

SUFI always makes me think of The Jewel of the Nile. PuzzleGirl, pirates say ARRR, but more often they say YARR. (Pittsburgh Pirates maybe say AARGH, at least since '92.) Pyrates, on the other hand, is a Bacon/Sedgwick movie with sex and spontaneous combustion. It is not good.

badrog said...

Will we soon see (horizontally, I suppose) "Stressed naught?"/ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ?. After all, isn't imitation still the sincerest form of flattery? This is not to be construed as a complaint; I liked this theme, mostly cuz I've never seen anything like it before.


@PG Good to see you back... hope all is well with you.
Your friend, Doug P, was a super stand-in.

With all those letter strings, and plenty of 4 and 5 letter words, this was a walk-in-the-park for me. Stop to think of it, maybe I'll take a nice long walk in the park today... the weather is beautiful and the fall color is fantastic! WHEE!!!!

I do think UFOLOGIST is a made up word, and even if it is legit, shouldn't it be spelled UFO-OLOGIST?

Yes, there really is a place called Fort Courage and it's in Houck Arizona. It's the F-Troop set.

Thanks Puzzlegirl, for that lovely Langston Hughes poem.

I think I'll go have breakfast at Paneras... somehow Bagels with BRIE and jelly sounds good to me.

Y'all have a super Wednesday!

Anonymous said...

It was novel and fun and impressive.
Elbow macaroni always reminds me of the movie "Accidental Tourist."
Enjoyed the puzzle, the write-up and the above comments. Thank you, all.
Missouri Mike

ddbmc said...

Once I complete the first two rows across, just on a whim, I filled in the E's,F's G's, all the way down the column (nice that, alphabetically, the letters follow each other, too). One of my dictionary definitions of "TROOP" includes: "To come, go, or pass in great numbers; throng." or:
To walk, march, or pass in rank or order: The students trooped into the auditorium. (for what it's worth)

@PG, me, too, on 32 A!

Loved FINAGLE-a word I use often in other forms, as in: What a FINAGLER! (as a WEASLER, CONNIVER...)

Don't eat FOIE GRAS (texture/taste/gag-me thing) but have seen the word a million times and YET, could not remember what came after the FOI_!

Had NO CLUE on 20 A: Desert-NEGEV. Totally came with the crosses. Did Bathsheba drink beer in Beersheba with Little Sheba? (cue groan) Guess I better study my Israeli geography.

SUFI was new to me, also. Little Middle Eastern theme going on today, too? EGYPT, NEGEV, SUFI. Or Canine theme? FIFI, WEREWOLF (??), DOG, GNAW.

@Tin, sorry about the Yanks. Still could pull something off! May be joining my Red Sox on the links, soon.

@PG, glad you're back and thanks to our guest hosts for filling in. I TOO,enjoyed the Langston Hughes poem.

Thanks, Ms.Long, for creating a "different" type of solve.

Ratty said...

Best puzzle of the year! Bravo Elizabeth!

Many years ago a friend and I decided to try to create some crossword puzzles for each other. He managed to do one but I could just never do it. It gave me a new found appreciation for puzzle makers and when I see virtuoso puzzles like this one I am always in awe.

*David* said...

Meh I have problems with these types of puzzles. The fill is so compromised and the theme is a column of the same letters going from top to bottom, woo hoo exciting times. Too cutesy for my taste, but I can hold my nose and suffer one of these on occasion.

John Wolfenden said...

I was planning on doing a first pass on this puzzle, then getting some work done, but got sucked in by the G-string.

EELY is always a groaner for me, but no other gripes. A strong week so far.

Anonymous said...

AARGH. I could see the line of E's forming at 4D, F's at 7D, and G's at 8D, but I still could not bring myself to just fill in the column all the way down because I couldn't understand what the deal was.

I knew I would be coming here for an explanation, so I went ahead and finished the puzzle with no real problems, even without the line-troop-string fill-ins. As others have said UFOLOGIST seems a bit of a stretch, but is cute.

As usual, Puzzle Girl reveals all! I'm still undecided whether I like the theme or not, probably since I didn't get it, but I do have to appreciate the work the constructor had to do to make it happen.

From a fan in CA, my 2nd time commenting. If this gets to be a regular thing I'll have to figure out how to get an identity.

Thanks to Puzzle Girl and all the regulars!

C said...

From a solving viewpoint, once I figured out the theme (which happened early) and immediately filled in the lines of E,F, & G's, I felt cheated about not having to solve a portion of the puzzle. Don't think I am explaining myself well, but, in a nutshell, too easy. Just my opinion, nothing objectively wrong with the puzzle, just my subjective view. ymmv.

More random thoughts that enter my mind while solving and even more proof that I am easily amused:


CrazyCatLady said...

As far as this type of theme GOES, I don't know if it's RARE, but it's the first time I've encountered it. I TOO thought it was GOBS of fun. EELY crossing E LEE was kind of funny. Words I liked: AFTERGLOW, FINAGLES and UFOLOGIST. Words that made me hungry: FROI GRAS, BRIE and COHO. Words I didn't know: NEGEV, SUFI and that RENE person.

Glad you're back PG! Your soup sounds delicious.

Eric said...

WHEE, this was fun!

Loved the theme, especially GGGGGGG-string (well, duh!) It could have been clued for "Air on a G String", but, well, we had Bach yesterday :-) So, within less than a week, we've had not-exactly-straightforward Bikini-part clues for both senses of "Bikini" (Saturday was the other one). Sweet!
EEEEEEE-FILE kinda works, but I agree with @PG: FFFFFFF-TROOP not so much.
The pièce de résistance would have been if one of the EEEEEEEEE crosses could have been all-E's too, e.g. the EEE netbook.

I liked a lot of the fill:
- EELY crossing E LEE
- GALA and GILA over on the East
- The UFOLOGIST / FOIEGRAS stack, with three parallel letters (F,O,G), and the EASES OFF / LATE SHIFT stack with four (A,E,S,F)
- The little GYGOGYGO thing happening in the SE (is that something Mork's distant cousin might say?)

I've seen UFOLOGIST before, so I think it's fine.

SUFI was a gimme. I don't know whether Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was one, but the music he made world-famous, Qawwali, was Sufi in origin. Several clips: Mustt Mustt is "Westernified", and so more perhaps accessible; this live version of the same song is a hard-core Qawwali. One of my favourites is Allah Hoo Part 1, Part 2 (if, like me, you prefer up-tempo, you might find the slow intro, shall we say, an acquired taste, and want to skip to about 6:30 in Part 1). No, I'm not trying to proseletyze Islam here; I love this stuff despite, not because of, the fact that it's religious music!

@PG: You're right. Pirates don't say AARGH. Charlie Brown says AARGH! So do I.

WEREWOLVES of London say "ahoooo"!

@Anon 9:42: you don't need an identity. Click Name/URL, then type in one or the other. That's what I do.

CarolC said...



"Anon 9:42" aka CarolC if this works

Tinbeni said...

Come on down to Tampa Bay when they have the annual Gasparilla "Invasion" and parade every year in February.

There are a whole buch of business men dressed as Pirates, tossing beads, shooting pop-guns, and ... saying: "AARGH ..." all over the place.

They even have a "talk like a pirate" contest. First word out of everyone's mouth is "AARGH ..."

Doug P said...

Welcome back, PG! I'm with you on the "F Troop" column, but I think having the "EFG" trio was a nice touch. I'm giving the puzzle a thumbs-up for creativity.

"Hogan's Heroes" isn't realistic? I'm crushed. Based on that show, I dug an elaborate system of tunnels under my house. Just in case the Russians invade or something.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Eric Thanks for the Nusrat clips. I have an old CD of his. I played it to death. I didn't know about the SUFI connection. That will help me to remember it the next time it pops up.

My little DOG, the wire fox terrier, says AARGH when I scratch between her ears.

KJGooster said...

Kind of a funny looking grid -- those are cheater squares bracketing 7D, right? I thought this was pretty easy once I caught on to the theme, but I'm with PG: thumbs up overall but not WOW or anything. I did like that the letters were the consecutive EFG.

I kept glancing back at UFOLOGIST and thinking I misspelled UROLOGIST. Maybe that's who you see if you're abducted by a UFO...

Amber said...

I pronounce ague like plague but without the PL.

Tom in the D said...

Welcome back PG and kudos on another great write up!! I've been out of town for awhile and have missed a few puzzles. ( went to Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio to get my roller coaster fix). Quite enjoyed this one, as it came fairly easy after I got the g-string clue. Biggest problem was EELY, OILY makes more sense to me. Never heard of the NEGEV desert, or for that matter, Beersheba. Wanted 5A. to be stripper, because as a man, I was only thinking with my ROD. YETI, ALOE and OGLE are becoming way too prevalent. RENE Auberjonois was the Lt. Governor or maybe press secretary ( I kinda forget) on the tv show "Benson". Have a good night, all.

Sfingi said...

Sorry I'm so late. Just dropped Hubster, a.k.a Snorehead, off at the Sleep Center for tests. It took 1.5 hours to wire him in. No teddy, no extra pillows, no book. Told him the guy in the next room was having the real test - a Zimbardo test for how many electric shocks he could give you each time you snore.

The strings of letters made it easy. Near the top, before I figured the theme, I had apOLOGIST before UFOLOGIST. People who jabber about UFOs should apologize.

Agree with @Amber. This was a disease you used to hear about more, like dropsy and consumption.

@PuzzleGirl - Hubster was non-wartime. I called it the Beetle Bailey army.

Does everyone know how they "make" FOIEGRAS - they force feed an innocent goose to give him/her fatty liver!

CrazyCatLady said...

@Sfingi I've often wondered how one is supposed to be able to sleep at a sleep center. I would think what with all the wires and being monitored, it would be pretty hard to get to sleep - kind of like the hospital but without the drugs.

I know how FOIE GRAS is made. Although I love it, I never order it any more. I think attempts have been made to try to stop its production in CA. There is "ethical" FOIE GRAS available, but I'm not sure how ethical it really is. The term means fat liver in French. I'll just stick with the BRIE and the COHO salmon. On the other hand, the COHO may be endangered soon. I'll have to check the Monterey Bay Aquarium acceptable fish list.


COHO sure is pretty plentiful here in Lake Michigan

Jan said...

Having never seen this kind of theme before, it was such a surprise when I started seeing all those repetitions. So fresh! I LOVED it! I even figured out the meanings, though I wasn't sure about F-troop, so I came here to check on that one.