T H U R S D A Y   November 4, 2010
Allan E. Parrish

Theme: It's a Lock — Theme answers are all definitions of the word "lock."

Theme answers:
  • 20A: See 50-Down (CERTAIN WINNER).
  • 32A: See 50-Down (HAIR CLUSTER).
  • 39A: See 50-Down (CANAL DEVICE).
  • 48A: See 50-Down (WRESTLING HOLD).
  • 50D: Clue for 20-, 32-, 39- and 48-Across (LOCK).
I had a pretty hard time getting started on this puzzle. I started right out with NSEC and ROAM instead of PSEC and ROVE (1D: Minute segment of a min. / 2D: Wander), so you can see where I might have had some problems. Also botched the downs right underneath those two. Was pretty sure SHEBA was right (24D: Ancient queendom) but tried ABATE then EBBED before finally getting the correct EASED for (25D: Let up).

As for the theme, well, the first theme answer I got was WRESTLING HOLD which you probably know I liked a lot. I got the reveal before solving any other theme answers, so I knew what I was looking for. I thought, "Well, there's bound to be something about a canal in there somewhere," but I couldn't come up with any other definitions for "lock" off the top of my head. Sure enough CANAL DEVICE came in view shortly thereafter and then …. I'm sorry but HAIR CLUSTER?!? No. No no no. That is not a thing. And because that is not a thing, it does not work as a theme answer. Seriously. Time to go back to the list. (There had to be other possibilities, right?)

  • 19A: Grain disease (ERGOT). This really, really feels like something I should know, but I didn't.
  • 23A: Battery, bond or baseball club designation (AAA). Very nice clue for a relative ugly entry. (I know sometimes it can't be helped.)
  • 37A: Prayer opener (O GOD). Tried LORD here first.
  • 38A: Old-fashioned get-together (BEE). Got this one totally through crosses and then felt stupid. Great clue!
  • 43A: "Beanz meanz Heinz," e.g. (AD SLOGAN). Again. AD SLOGAN is not a thing. And if you insist on including it, how about using a slogan that people have heard of. Sheesh.
  • 56A: "The Dick Van Dyke Show" regular (ROSE MARIE). Dick Van Dyke was awesome on "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me!" recently.
  • 10D: Maker of EverPure shampoo (L'ORÉAL). I'm pretty hip to the various shampoo brands but don't recall ever hearing of this one.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 15A: Ambient music pioneer (ENO).
  • 34A: Brit. record co. (EMI).
  • 12D: __ dye: chemical coloring (AZO).
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Everything Else — 1A: Home of Brigham Young University (PROVO); 6A: __ Mahal (TAJ); 9A: Fat substitute brand in some potato chips (OLEAN); 14A: Not loaded (SOBER); 16A: Swindler with a scheme named for him (PONZI); 17A: Hemlock, for one (EVERGREEN); 22A: Covet (ENVY); 24A: Belgrade's land (SERBIA); 27A: Libel and slander disputes are part of it (CIVIL LAW); 35A: Spanish pronoun (ESTA); 36A: Restful resort (SPA); 45A: Truck capacity (ONE TON); 46A: AIDS-fighting drug (AZT); 47A: __ dire: juror examination (VOIR); 54A: Foreign (ALIEN); 57A: __ Nast (CONDE); 58A: Winter hazard (ICE); 59A: Family nickname (AUNTY); 60A: Tolerated (STOOD); 61A: Gives the go-ahead (OKS); 62A: Tart fruit (SLOES); 3D: Upper, in Ulm (OBER); 4D: Spinal column component (VERTEBRA); 5D: Like some farming (ORGANIC); 6D: Minute (TEENY); 7D: Fresh way to start (ANEW); 8D: "Help Me" vocalist Mitchell (JONI); 9D: Alfresco (OPEN AIR); 11D: Former Caltech sr., perhaps (ENGR.); 13D: Little thing to pick (NIT); 18D: Competitor (RIVAL); 21D: Basilica section (NAVE); 26D: Customary ceremonies (RITES); 27D: It covers the Hill (C-SPAN); 28D: Da Vinci's lang. (ITAL.); 29D: On the up and up (LEGIT); 30D: It started as Standard Oil of Indiana (AMOCO); 31D: Expand (WIDEN); 33D: John McCain's alma mater: Abbr. (USNA); 37D: Revamp (OVERHAUL); 39D: Hoodwinked (COZENED); 40D: "The X-Files" extras: Abbr. (AGTS.); 41D: Ridd's love, in a Blackmore romance (DOONE); 42D: They're hard to figure out (ENIGMAS); 44D: Rio Grande city (LAREDO); 47D: Workshop gadgets (VISES); 48D: Skid row figure (WINO); 49D: Charlie's Angels, e.g. (TRIO); 51D: "Deal __ Deal" (OR NO); 52D: Lo-cal (LITE); 53D: Bygone Tunisian rulers (DEYS); 54D: Summer coolers, briefly (ACS); 55D: Used car site (LOT).



Got the top half in a PSEC, but then the bottom half... Oy Vey!!!!
Until I was prompted with ROSE MARIE, the NE corner was a total stumper to me. Never thought of SLOES as a sour fruit. I knew right away when WRESTLING HOLD appeared that Puzzlegirl would be smiling. Didn't know COZENED meant "Hoodwinked". Forgot about VOIR Dire since I haven't been on jury duty for nearly 30 years... guess I'm about due for a call.
I realized that there was a subtheme here with LEGIT, VOIR Dire, PONZI, and CIVIL LAW.
PSEC also got me as I quickly wrote in NSEC. I was just in the Smokies, so I remembered that OBER Gatlinburg meant Upper Gatlinburg.
AZO and AZT both required crosses for me.
I don't understand why LOCK is a CERTAIN WINNER. Can someone help me on that?

After the post-Halloween glut of leftover candy, I need to start on LITE foods, so my breakfast today is pretty scant... coffee, toast, and a little sugar-free fruit.

Have a fun Thursday y'all!

Van55 said...

Just two days after I told you that you can assume that I loved your write-up, you come up with the nonsense that a lock of hair is not a cluster of hair. I bet to differ. I think HAIRCLUSTER is a perfectly fine theme answer today.

Now, I would agree with you if you quibbled with CANALDEVICE. I am not sure what I consider a canal lock to be, but I don't consider it to be a "device,"

This puzzle has some very nice things to recommend it. COZENED is a great word. I also like ENIGMAS, VERTEBRA and ORGANIC.

I don't care for the random Spanish pronoun.

OGOD, I think I like it more than not.

Van55 said...

@JNH -- in sports betting, a [relatively] sure winner is called a "lock". Sometimes the guys who sell tips on sports betting advertise that they will provide a "mortal lock" for a fee. I have to wonder why these sports betting gurus sell their "locks" when they could be earning a living betting them, if they're so sure.

Van55 said...

From dictionary.com:

[lok] Show IPA

Slang . someone or something certain of success; sure thing: He's a lock to win the championship.

Three and out already!

Sfingi said...



Thanks Van.
I'm sure most of us associate ROSE MARIE with the Dick Van Dyke Show, but did you know that she was also a very popular child star back in the 30s?

Rex Parker said...

CLUSTER OF HAIR = awkward at best. You are, of course, right to call it out. I see the phrase out there in internetville, but not much. It's not very colloquial at all.

CANAL DEVICE, on the other hand: just fine.

A fine way to spend just under four minutes. Ordinary theme, executed ordinarily, with some nice longer answers (COZENED!).

docmoreau said...

Lots of misdirections for me. Wanted "copse" for "it covers the hill;" wanted "roam" for "wander;" wanted "empty" for "not loaded"and"diet for"lite." "Olean,""ergot" and "deys" were all foreign to me. Good write-up, PG

Mokus said...

An enjoyable Thursday puzzle with some clever clues. I liked the theme because I spend time with my literacy learner discussing words with many different meanings. Yesterday we had fun with BAD. I get to do my feeble George Carlin imitation.

*David* said...

Not too difficult also fell into trap with ROAM/ROVE and erased my correct PSEC. I got HAIR CLUSTER and CANAL DEVICE before I got LOCK. COZENED crossing AZT disturbed me in general, even though I was pretty comfortable with it. I'm getting tired of old TV show references, I needed almost every cross to get ROSE MARIE, staute of limitations anybody?

Tuttle said...

Oh, I got your NITs right here...

ITALian wasn't codified until Leonardo DaVinci was well and dead. He spoke Florentine vernacular. He would probably be mostly understood by a modern ITALian, but his grammar would be atrocious.

Tunis was ruled by Beys under the Ottoman Empire, Algiers and Tripoli were ruled by DEYS.

And really, is there any farming that's not ORGANIC? I mean, if it's not ORGANIC then it's not farming... it's mining.

Pretty fun though. I was all excited I knew Lorna... too bad they wanted DOONE. I'll leave you with a quote from Socrates in regard to 17A: "I drank what!?"

Van55 said...


Does a crossword answer really have to be colloquial to be legitimate? I think not. But if so, what's colloquial about "canal device?"

Anonymous said...

I got "certain winner" and was working on "canal device" but couldn't get lock for a while. Did anyone else think it unfair that the L in lock was the l in "wrestling hold," making it difficult to fine the one clue to the theme?

badrog said...

Re theme difficulties, I had no big problem filling in any of them, but HAIRCLUSTER brought up mental images of feline (and human) hairballs and bezoars (learned that word just today), as well as a certain Broadway musical's circle-dance. And, while I'm thinking that the gates and/or pumps of a canal lock might be called devices, I wonder about the lock itself. However, a little post facto G-research brought me to the Wiki for "Lock (water transport)" where the very first line is: "A lock is a device for raising ......" Oh, well!

At least some of the cheap 3-letter fill was saved from complete disgrace by cute (perhaps overly so) clueing. My fave(?) was 54D, "Summer coolers..." where "ade" came to mind immediately, except for that plural -s, which supposedly means it's really a 2-letter entry. To me, using both that plural -s and "..., briefly" in the clue was unnecessary overkill, especially on a Thursday.

Had a minor problem at 24A, 'cuz when I was in Belgrade, it was in Yugoslavia, but a quick review of pre- and post-1984 history (along with help from crosses) got all that straightened out quickly.

mac said...

Nice, pretty easy puzzle, which was surely created with PG in mind. Agree that haircluster is unusual, but so is ad slogan. It all worked in the end.

One of the answers, not too common, is also in the NYT puzzle today.

SethG said...

The first three theme answers had one of their words start with the letter C. The last didn't, though each word did start with the same letter as the non-C words as the first two theme answers. Beanz is apparently a popular slogan in Britain, Locke-Ober is a restaurant in Boston, and Britain and Boston both begin with Bs. SOBER crossed OBER, and none of these things are very interesting.

www.audioenglish.net said...

Whoopee!!! My very first citation on the net!!! Thanks, Van!!!

Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl, what a wonderful write-up.
Yeah that HAIR CLUSTER as a reference to a LOCK was a stretch but ...

Puzzles where the theme clues have a reference to the reveal clue and then "that other clue" gives out ZERO, ZIP information are a personal NIT on mine.

My solving enjoyment is sure to suffer ...

That said, though this was a bit of a slog ...
I "got 'er done!"

SOBER, WINO, SLOES and ICE (my krypton) all in one grid ... ahhh, a drinkin' man's puzzle.

Had outside for OPEN AIR, Alfresco, (thank you AAA for providing that across to see the error of my way).

Liked the additional CIVIL LAW and VOIR dire (you can hear Joe Pesci saying it from "My Cousin Vinny").
Another mini-theme?

Having been a victim of a PONZI scheme by Arthur Nadel, the mini-Madoff, who bilked investors here in the Tampa Bay area (including MOI) out of 168 million and last week was sent to prison for 14 years, you would think I would remember how to spell it correctly.
At first I had ponSi before the AZO dye bailed me out. (Nadel isn't getting any bailout).

And with all the above ...
I still rate this a FUN Thursday !!!

Cheers to all at Sunset.

CrazyCatLady said...

HAIR CLUSTER also reminded me of a fur ball or that clump of crud you find in the sink when you have a teenage daughter with long LOCKs. My opinion of this puzzle is just a little south of neutral. COZENED was my WOTD. Maybe I'll change my name to AUNTY WINO.
@Tuttle - you're right on about ITAL.

Rube said...

Got the theme with the WRESTLINGHOLD/LOCK crossing. Thought the rest of the theme answers were a bit contrived, but certainly crosswordly acceptable.

Got PROVO right from the start. Spend too much time at Lake Powell in Utah for some of the Utah arcana not to rub off on me.

FWIW, I would like to point out that the original term was "skid road". In the 19th century, it was a street, (Yesler), in Seattle where logs were dragged down to the waterfront for loading unto sailing ships.

Would have preferred ROSEMARIE as an operetta located in Canada, but maybe there is a statue of limitations.

Now, had trouble with OBER. Wanted üBER. My German is extremely limited. Would one of you Germanophiles elucidate me as to the difference between these two.

Eric said...

What steered me wrong with CANAL DEVICE was that I think of a "device" as something fairly small, not a couple of hundred meters long. The fact that most of a lock is passive -- just a big tub of water -- also threw me off. But on reflection, those are just my own biases. The relevant definition is a thing made for a particular purpose; an invention or contrivance, esp. a mechanical or electrical one -- which fits.

ENO (more ENO) and PONZI and CONDE were gimmes; ERGOT and AZT and EMI were inspired guesses.
27D wasn't so inspired. I guessed correctly which Hill the clue was referring to, but was thinking of the Capitol building itself, as covering the (presumed) geographic hill. Got CSPAN from crosses.

ERGOT is a fungus that grows on some grains (especially rye). You don't want to ingest the stuff; it's nasty! It's also the source for one of the precursors of LSD -- and its name is the source for the "erg" in "lysergic".

Cute AAA clue.

ALIEN goes along with the 40D clue to make an X-Files minitheme.

@David: Sure, by all means a date cutoff on TV references. I vote for banning all references newer than about 1990 -- the last time I had a TV in the house. Never seen Cheers or Friends or Oz or The Sopranos or... And you know what? I'm good with that. (I think I saw half an episode of Seinfeld once, while visiting someone.)

@Tuttle: I profoundly disagree with your ORGANIC gripe, "'cause you know sometimes words have two meanings".

@badrog: LOL at your thoughts on HAIR CLUSTER :-) @CCL: You too. No daughters, teenage or otherwise, but I once had long hair, so I know just what you mean: leave one of those long enough and it'll totally LOCK up the drain...

C said...

I am still on a world championship high so the puzzle can do no wrong. I liked the reveal for the theme answers needing some work to get to.

@Rex summed this puzzle up for me.

Anonymous said...

@Tuttle - No (living) languages are codified. Were Shakespeare to reappear right now, neither of us would understand the other, but we both do speak English, just the English of our time and space. DaVinci spoke the Italian of his time and place.

CrazyCatLady said...

@C I forgot to say from yesterday, that your KITTENS are adorable. I'm glad you're still on your Giants high!

John Wolfenden said...

PG, I had the opposite experience with this puzzle: started out smooth, thinking it was Wednesday-level, then got stuck in the SE. Was slain by the DOONE/ROSE MARIE cross but didn't feel too bad about not knowing two semi-obscure cultural references. Never heard of COZENED before, but happy to learn it.

I liked "Covers the Hill" for CSPAN a lot.

Why is SLOES clued in the singular?

CrazyCatLady said...

@Anon 12:37 both you and @Tuttle have a point. Leonardo would have used the Tuscan dialect. Italy didn't have an official national language until the 19th century.

History of Italian

Italian dialects

Scully2066 said...

Thanks PG - loved the wrestling answer and knew you would too :)

You can understand I was really excited to see the X-Files clue. It was my all-time favorite show and where my name comes from.

For the rest of the puzzle, I never had heard of COZENED but did remember ERGOT from History class and the Salem Witch Trails. Funny, there is a whole X-Files episode that deals with Scully getting a tattoo laced with ERGOT and the medical problems it caused. Nice little connection.

Looking forward to the next puzzle

Tom in the D said...

Isn't AUNTY typically spelled Auntie? As in Em? SE gave me fits cuz WRESTLINGMOVE was my first choice. Wasn't until Overhaul came to mind that it all came together. Isn't ORGANIC farming essentially farming that doesn't use chemicals for fertilizer or pesticides? Nice Thursday puzzle....I.finished. getting ready for another DNF tomorrow as per usual.