F R I D A Y   November 26, 2010
Samuel A. Donaldson

Theme: Kapow! — Theme answers are familiar phrases with a type of "punch" added to the front end.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Flight from a heated argument? (CROSSFIRE ESCAPE).
  • 27A: Talkative "King of Country"? (JABBERING STRAIT).
  • 44A: Gene carrier responsible for truancy? (HOOKY CHROMOSOME).
  • 59A: Liven up, with "to" (and a hint to how 17-, 27- and 44-Across were created) (ADD A LITTLE PUNCH).
I'm having a little trouble with this theme. I get it, and I think it's a cute idea, but I guess I just don't like the answers. I got the first theme answer — CROSSFIRE ESCAPE — and thought this would be some kind of word chain theme because both CROSSFIRE and FIRE ESCAPE are things and, more importantly I guess, compound words. I thought maybe the next theme answer would start with, I don't know … "hatch"? The other two theme answers change the pronunciation from the base phrase to the resulting phrase and they're not compound words and, yeah, just seems inconsistent and not quite up to par. The only other problem I have with the puzzle is FUSEE. Um, what? FUSEE? Who knew a 42A: Signal flare could be called a FUSEE?

After all that, I do want to say that I appreciate the grid's Scrabbliness and like quite a few of the medium-length down answers like LOSES BIG, WISEGUYS, KAYAKS, POP-UP, and even BANJO. Even though I'm not crazy about the theme, there's some good stuff in here.

  • 1A: Knack (FEEL).
  • 14A: Othello's confidant (IAGO). Shakespeare has a lot of characters with great names, but IAGO is the best of the best as far as I'm concerned. For some reason, I just love that name.
  • 25A: Jack succeeded him (IKE). John F. Kennedy (Jack) succeded Dwight D. Eisenhower (IKE) to the U.S. presidency. (On a related note, JFK Jr. would have been 50 years old yesterday. Sniff.)
  • 35A: Allegheny, as of 1979 (USAIR). I had forgotten that USAIR used to have a different name. I thought "A river changed its name? I wonder why!"
  • 37A: A.L. Central team, on scoreboards (CLE). For the sporst-challenged, that's CLEveland.
  • 39A: Word on the Great Seal of the U.S. (NOVUS). The front of the seal says E pluribus unum ("out of many, one"). The reverse has two phrases: Annuit coeptis (basically, "Providence has approved of our undertakings") and NOVUS ordo seclorum ("a new order of the ages").
  • 41A: Gram. topic (ADJ.). You might discuss ADJectives in the context of GRAMmer.
  • 62A: Idaho flower (SNAKE). If you're wondering why you've never heard of a SNAKE flower, that's because (like me) you were pronouncing that word wrong. This clue is actually asking for something that flows through Idaho. And that would be the SNAKE River.
  • 63A: Cat's-paw (TOOL). I have never heard of this tool. I continue to amaze myself with the stuff I don't know.
  • 8D: Company in Germany? (ZWEI). Playing on the phrase "Two's company, three's a crowd." ZWEI is German for "two."
  • 9D: Signal callers: Abbr. (QB'S). Even the sports-challenged know this one means quarterbacks, right?
  • 10D: Sportscaster Bob dubbed "Mr. Baseball" (UECKER). I actually knew who this clue was talking about, but I can enver remember how to spell his name.
  • 26D: Chess jumpers: Abbr. (KTS.). Abbreviation of "knights."
  • 50D: Bart Simpson's teacher __ Krabappel (EDNA). You're welcome.
  • 56D: Pop's pal, at breakfast? (SNAP). Took me a while to decipher this clue. It's a reference to the Rice Krispies … what are they, elves? SNAP, Crackle, and Pop.
  • 57D: 2006 NSA suer (ACLU). I assume this has something to do with wire-tapping, but I'm not going to look it up right now. There's much more family togetherness to be had today!! Enjoy your Friday. I hope you don't have to go shopping.
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 5A: Big name in crackers (RITZ); 9A: Earthshaking news? (QUAKE); 15A: Not many (A FEW); 16A: Where to look out? (BELOW); 20A: Thumbs-up (ASSENT); 21A: Baking shortcut (MIX); 22A: Flamboyant band since the '70s (KISS); 23A: Ask for (SEEK); 36A: Karate skill symbols (BELTS); 38A: Minor damage (DING); 40A: Propeller sound (WHIR); 43A: Devout (PIOUS); 47A: Run a fever, perhaps (AIL); 48A: Informal rejection (NOPE); 49A: Big bunch (BEVY); 52A: Absorb, as a loss (EAT); 55A: Affects, as one's heartstrings (TUGS AT); 64A: Cole Porter's alma mater (YALE); 65A: Boss's privilege (SAY-SO); 66A: Office suites, e.g. (APPS); 67A: Like yarn (SPUN); 1D: Pay stub abbr. (FICA); 2D: "I'm all __" (EARS); 3D: Obstacles to quiet on the set? (EGOS); 4D: Takes a real beating (LOSES BIG); 5D: Roof support (RAFTER); 6D: "__ Had $1000000": Barenaked Ladies hit (IF I); 7D: Six years, for a senator (TERM); 11D: Kyrgyzstan range (ALAI); 12D: Keystone krew? (KOPS); 13D: Meadow mamas (EWES); 18D: Contemptuous look (SNEER); 19D: Isn't fiction (EXISTS); 24D: Put the __ on: end (KIBOSH); 27D: David's kingdom (JUDAH); 28D: "... say, not __" (AS I DO); 29D: Bela Fleck's instrument (BANJO); 30D: "Fat chance!" (NEVER); 31D: Fasten, in a way (GLUE ON); 32D: Blessing evoker (ACHOO); 33D: Pelvic bone (ILIUM); 34D: Like Coolidge, famously (TERSE); 39D: Proton sites (NUCLEI); 40D: Crackers? (WISE GUYS); 42D: "Thought you should know," on a memo (FYI); 43D: Like some children's books (POP-UP); 45D: Whitewater craft (KAYAKS); 46D: Sites of many affairs (MOTELS); 49D: Largemouth __ (BASS); 51D: End of the war (V-DAY); 53D: "__ girl!" (ATTA); 54D: Sporty car roof (T-TOP); 58D: Afterwards (THEN); 60D: MGM mascot (LEO); 61D: Cut (LOP).


Van55 said...

I struggled just a bit with this one. HOOKYCHROMOSOME was the last of the theme entries to fall. Putting CANOES where KAYAKS belonged slowed me down as did JUDEA in place of JUDAH.

Pretty good puzzle, though, notwithstanding the clue "Idaho flower" to mean something that flows in Idaho as opposed to the state flower. Stupid Thursday clue!

Rex Parker said...

Major trouble with theme here as well. CROSSFIRE. FIREESCAPE. OK, there's your theme: fused phrases. But ... no.

Also, how is a CROSS or HOOK a "LITTLE PUNCH?" "LITTLE" seems to be here solely to make the length of the revealer be 15.

Plus, FUSEE!?!?


Anonymous said...

How about boxing: cross, hook, jab are all punches in boxing.

Scully2066 said...

Thank you PG for the great write-up. I did need your help today - never heard of FUSEE and thought for sure I had something wrong.

I have to agree with RP - liked the first theme answer but the other two were so odd, I kept second guessing myself.

The rest of the puzzle was OK but did enjoy seeing RITZ, KISS and WHIR.

Happy Weekend All!!

Tinbeni said...

"Look out BELOW" ... probably used a lot in mountain climbing ... not a popular past-time here in Florida.

Well this was an excellent adventure.
A 5th gem in-a-row.
OK, the brain-cells were required to re-connect.
Without the crosses I would have been in right-field.

Hmmm, MOTELS, yeah that's the ticket.
And that Idaho flower, SNAKE ... subtle Sam and a "V-8 can" head slap.
Fave was SNAP, Pops pal.
Wanted 'silent Cal' for TERSE but it wouldn't fit.

Jeez, another Simpson character, EDNA,oh boy ...

Anonymous said...

A cat's paw is a person who gets used by someone else - hence a "tool".

SethG said...

I agree with PuzzleGirl, except I liked the theme less than she did.

badrog said...

Imagination is a wonderful thing! For example:
1. I imagine that one drawer of Mr. Norris's file cabinet is labeled FEUO (For Emergency Use Only).
2. I imagine that one folder in that drawer is labeled QTaoTR (Questionable Theme and/or Theme Reveal).
3. I imagine that Mr. Norris reads this blog, perhaps under an AKA or as a lurker.
4. I imagine that when he saw PG's Wednesday EDNA list, he remembered that there was an EDNA sitting in that cabinet drawer folder.
5. I imagine that he chose today's puzzle for EDNA, ignoring the folder label.
6. I don't imagine PG's linkname at 50A implies that he actually emailed to say Thank You.

We charter members of the ACtU (American Conspiracy Theorists Union) most definitely do not believe in coincidences.

Sfingi said...

I didn't get the theme 'til I got here, DNF the middle one.

Got that Allegheny was an airline that went under, but did not know it was absorbed by USAIR.

HTG for BANJO and NOVUS. Asked Hubster if it said, "NOlo contendere on the US Seal.

Got tricked by flower, though I got SNAKE by crosses. I have one of those bushes, and when I allowed a neighbor to chop down another near his driveway, it never flowered again. They must be sexual.

I put in FUSEE and Googled later. Yes, it's a word.

Also learned later that Kt was the obsolete - yes obsolete - abbreviation for Knight. We now use N, of course.

I didn't think 28D had enough of the quote in the clue, but it is Friday.

Hey, where's our IAGO quoter?

Avg Joe said...

I thought the theme was clunky too. But the master clue helped me solve Hooky and Jabbering. I was totally lost on the former and not real sure on the latter until the reveal gave me confirmation. Still, a less than satisfactory solve even though I got it completed.

Oh, and Edna helped a lot too. I probably could have backed into it, but with the earlier discussion this week, I just filled it in without hesitation....and a nod of appreciation.

A cat's paw is also a carpentry tool. It's used to remove nails from framing lumber when the heads are below the surface. It's like a very small crowbar and has a V shaped face that you drive into the lumber with the V straddling the head of the nail. Once in position, you pull back on the handle and the nail is pulled above the surface where you can then pull it with a larger crowbar or hammer. It's of no use for fine work such as trimming or cabinetry, but in framing its used all the time.

v-man said...

I thought this was pretty easy for a friday puzzle. Actually,I had more initial mistakes in Thursday's puzzle. Thanks for the info on fusee and snake I usually pick up on the puns. Looking forward to Saturday's challenge.

Rube said...

Personally, my favorite word in the grid is KIBOSH. Had to laugh at the appearance of IAGO... again. That guy has gotten awfully popular recently.

Then there's EDNA Krabappel! Proof positive that @PG is a Divine Oracle.

FUSEE must be an oldies word. Got it from the F_S__. Interesting, different, clue for ALAI.

The theme? Did this late last night and couldn't figure it out then. Thx again, @PG, ATTA girl.

A perfect puzzle for my level of solver. Tricky, but doable. Loved it.

I nervously look over my shoulder when I hear talk about NOVUS ordo seclorum.

Writeovers were LOSESout/LOSESBIG, DING/Dent, WHIR/WHIz, MOTELS/trystS, and some spelling issues.

Nighthawk said...

@PG-another fun write-up. I too was a bit peeved that the themes didn't really seem to hang together too well. More like light taps than (36A) BELTS. Had to laugh a bit at the link in the write-up for 50D. Belatedly adding your helpful and sparkling observations to my list of things I'm thankful for. Glad you're "here all week." And yes, timing is everything. As in boxing.

Like @sfingi, using her new fave acronym, HTG a few too, like Kyrgyzstan's range (had ArAl and never heard of ALAI).

Cal, to me anyway, was famously "Cool as a cucumber." TERSE, not so much.

Had not known Cole Porter was a YALiE. A quick on-line bio says he wrote over 300 songs and 6 full scale musicals while there, and is best remembered for penning many "fight" songs for the pep band, many still in use. Caused me to re-evaluate how solid the puzzle fill was with this oblique reference to the theme.

Favorite was KAYAKS crossing the SNAKE. When daughter was in late middle school, we took a 10 day rafting trip on the remote Middle and Main Forks of the Salmon through the Frank Church Wilderness. She had a ball on the whitewater, opting usually to paddle one of the inflatable KAYAKS. The Salmon's confluence with the SNAKE is from the east, which continues to flow north. Takeout at Heller Bar was on the western bank of the Snake, in Washington. So, we actually did cross the SNAKE in KAYAKS. Beautiful country, inaccessible other than by boat (or helicopter if you are a Forest Service firefighter).

outimat: NYC luncheonette, after it closed.

Fowler said...

Same here re. the theme. A weak one at best. Couldn't figure it out until I got the answers, and even then not right away.

Didn't realize JFK Jr's birthday was so close to his dad's assassination. That little saluting boy had a nasty 3rd birthday.


CrazyCatLady said...

I agree with SethG.

Eric said...

Badly DNF. I couldn't take as long as I wanted, but probably wouldn't have got much further anyway.

That very pretty snake that @PG gave us a picture of might be an insanely venomous coral snake -- or it might not. There are a number of snake species with red, black, and yellow bands. Some of them are perfectly harmless. Some of them, not so much...

Ah, yes, old "Agony Airways", as Allegheny was nicknamed. I think I only flew on them once (well, twice, if you count the return trip). We were stuck on the tarmac for an hour before departure, due to some electrical problem that they had to fix before we could take off. Truly confidence-inspiring, that :-/ To add insult to injury, it was a clear, sunny, hot August day, but due to the nature of the problem, they couldn't run the air conditioning.

What's UECKER, the bizarro version of euchre? :-)

Bela Fleck isn't your ordinary bluegrass BANJO player: check this out!

imsdave said...

Loved it - end of message.


Being terse... hated it!

Mokus said...

@Eric Many thanks for the Bela Fleck YouTube clip. Great sound. Interesting visual!


@Anon 7:14
"A cat's paw is a person who gets used by someone else - hence a 'tool'."
Your definition is not the correct one here.
A Cat's-Paw is a nail puller - hence a TOOL.

Anonymous said...

It is here. And since this is a dictionary, I'm gonna believe it.

xxpossum said...

johnsneverhome beat me to the PUNCH on correcting Anon. on "cat's paw". Besides, isn't the demeaning term "tool" a relatively current phrase? I don't recall ever hearing it used prior to,say,2000.Also,Loved sfingi's HTG. Sweet!!! Google,now that's a tool!

DoneWithFriday said...

@xxpossum, if by new you mean ca. 1958 when I was in HS, then yes, tool as a derogatory term is new. (However, in those days the term was used only to refer to those of the male species.)