F R I D A Y   December 24, 2010
Kenneth J. Berniker

Theme: Ours is not to reason Y — Add a Y to the beginning of familiar phrases.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Those who outwit safecrackers? (YEGG BEATERS).
  • 26A: 1945 view for Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin? (YALTA VISTA).
  • 39A: Chronologists? (YEAR SPECIALISTS).
  • 50A: Core of the dark side? (YIN ESSENCE).
  • 60A: Paradise brewing aid? (YEAST OF EDEN).
It's 31 degrees outside right now, but I don't think that's why this puzzle left me cold. I know people get tired of add-a-letter themes, but I guess I've always thought there are only so many things you can do, so if adding a letter is the one you want to use that's fine. But then you have to do something with it. YEGG is a word I learned from crossword puzzles. I assume it's a word you see a lot if you read books in which men wear fedoras, smoke cigarettes and call women "dames." But it's pretty weak as the key part of a theme answer. And the rest of the theme answers? They kinda just lie there, don't they? The base phrases are … boring. And the resulting phrases are … also boring.

I see three entries in the grid that look like their purpose is to toughen this puzzle up:
  • 70A: Newbery Medal winner for "Island of the Blue Dolphins" (O'DELL).
  • 13D: "Pal Joey" author (O'HARA).
  • 24D: First multiracial coed college in the South (BEREA).
But none of these are interesting either. There's just nothing here to get excited about. Oh, except for POPS. 40D: Opens, as a hood is an excellent, excellent clue for POPS. Sadly, that was the high point of the puzzle for me.

  • 14A: Princess Toadstool's rescuer (MARIO). I watch my kids playing the Mario Bros. games and I realize how truly old I am. Give me Space Invaders, Pac Man, … I would say Pong here, but that would probably be excessive. These newfangled games where people jump and fly around and grab stuff in the air? I can't keep track of what the hell is going on! Now you kids get off my lawn!
  • 19A: "__ Believer" (I'M A). Sure, why not?

  • 44A: TV world (ORK). Okay, okay, we get it. Enough with the "Mork & Mindy" already!
  • 48A: Botanical cavity (ALVEOLA). I've seen this word in puzzles twice in the last week. The first time, I got it totally through crosses but now I think it's something I actually know.
  • 69A: Neighbor of Homer (NED). Simpsons!
  • 1D: Etiquette guru Vanderbilt (AMY). Personally, I find Miss Manners much more entertaining.
  • 2D: Inventing initials (TAE). Thomas Alva Edison.
  • 31D: Paper cutters, briefly? (EDS.). EDitorS make papers shorter (i.e., they "cut" them).
  • 38D: Lamb piece (ESSAY). Charles Lamb, whose nom de plume, Elia, is a long-time CrossWorld resident.
  • 47D: Words after "Because" (I SAY SO). Personally, I always say "Because I said so." Not that I say that more than … oh once or twice a day.
  • 52D: Put the kibosh on (NIXED). "Kibosh" is an awesome word.
  • 58D: "The X-Files" gp. (SETI). Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 66A: Squeeze (out) (EKE).
  • 3D: Fraction of a joule (ERG).
  • 9D: Boston sports legend (ORR).
  • 18D: "A Day Without Rain" musician (ENYA).
  • 41D: Gaelic tongue (ERSE).
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Everything Else — 1A: '50s headline event (A-TEST); 6A: Architectural style (TUDOR); 11A: Status follower (QUO); 15A: Accustom (ENURE); 16A: Its law sch. is in Concord (UNH); 20A: Artist Matisse (HENRI); 23A: Law school standards-setting org. (ABA); 29A: Beef (RED MEAT); 32A: Really riles (IRES); 33A: Bucks (BREAD); 34A: See 51-Down (IKE); 35A: Zap with a weapon (TASE); 43A: Asian wrap (SARI); 45A: Chimú conquerors (INCAS); 46A: Light bites (NIPS); 54A: Miss Pym's creator (TEY); 55A: Woman in a "Paint Your Wagon" song (ELISA); 56A: Auspices (AEGIS); 59A: Do some bartending (MIX); 67A: Ranch wanderer (STRAY); 68A: Boosted (STOLE); 71A: Parts of pig tales (OINKS); 4D: [I give up] (SIGH); 5D: Start of a classic question (TO BE); 6D: Claw (TEAR AT); 7D: Up to (UNTIL); 8D: Anticipated (DUE); 10D: Back up anew (RESAVE); 11D: Marx forte (QUIPS); 12D: Like certain expectations (UNMET); 21A: Regarding (AS PER); 22D: __ Chapel (SISTINE); 23D: Fast food chain known for roast beef (ARBY'S); 25D: "Be __ ..." (A DEAR); 27D: Kind of torch (TIKI); 28D: Gazetteer figure (AREA); 30D: Quantico inhabitants (MARINES); 34D: Opposite of "Yum!" ("ICK!"); 36D: English racing town (ASCOT); 37D: Old hat (STALE); 42D: Tyler of "The Incredible Hulk" (LIV); 48D: Like a vinegar radical (ACETYL); 49D: One of more than 245,000 in a Christmas tree at a California theme park (LEGO); 50D: Oman neighbor (YEMEN); 51D: With 34-Across, '50s slogan (I LIKE); 53D: Like a cold sufferer's voice (NASAL); 57D: "Say that's true ..." ("IF SO …"); 61D: LAX listing (ETD); 62D: Exist (ARE); 63D: Tough boss (DON); 64D: Forest ranger? (ELK); 65D: Old console using Game Paks (NES).


Doug P said...

When I see "yegg," I always think of this book. (Link from Rex Parker's non-crossword blog. Lots of vintage paperbacks & hilarious commentary there!)

Lemonade714 said...

Oh my, a Richard Prather Shell Scott reference. When I was young I read everyon of those babies along with the Mike Hammers and the Mike Shaynes. When I watched Perry Mason, I wanted them to make a TV series with PAUL DRAKE playing Scott. Thanks for the memory DP

Tinbeni said...

Ho,Ho,Ho ... on Christmas Eve, with the assistance of quite a few NIPS of my Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Liquor I came up with a DNF.

@JNH, I'm sure, wrote in ALVEOLA without a thought.
Well I had put in "star" for the 250,000 things on the California Christmas Tree and never got today's LEGO.

Then at YALTA VISTA I had entered Yalta River.
So along with that unknown UNH as the site of the Concord Law Sch., well that NE AREA never came together either.

But I had a FUN time trying.

A "toast" and Merry Christmas to all at Sunset.

Cheer's !!!

Avg Joe said...

I agree that the theme puns are seriously lacking in pizzazz. Yeast of Eden drew a chuckle, but that was it.

I had to take a complete flyer on alveola. Did not know that word and wasn't sure enough about all crosses, but I guess alls well that.....

That book is hilarious Doug. :-)

imsdave said...

Not much to say on the puzzle, but wanted to drop by to wish you all a merry Christmas. PG, DougP, and all of the commenters brighten up my day all year long. Thanks all.

Orange said...

I have never seen ALVEOLA before. Much more familiar is ALVEOLI, plural of alveolus, referring to your lungs' air sacs. ALVEOLA is botanical and awfully obscure outside botanical circles. Neither should be confused with jazz musician Al Di Meola.

Lila Cherry said...

I guess maybe if I had left the original clue for 60A: Eve's Cheese? alone you wouldn't have found this quite so boring.

Van55 said...

I usually agree with our hostess, but today I totally disagree. As add a letter themes go, I thought this was just fine.

Some nice, challenging entries and precious little garbage.

I expected a more apropos theme for the holiday weekend, but I enjoyed the solve.


Merry Christmas y'all !

ALVEOLA is a cool puzzle word. I'm a botanist, and I hardly ever see it used in our circles. More commonly I think it describes a lung thingy: a small pulmonary cavity where gas exchange takes place. In botany, this is more commonly called a stoma.

As far as this puzzle goes, I thought it was a YAWNWER... lots of STALE words and another Add-a-letter theme. How about a New Years resolution from Rich?

SIGH! I hate all those little partial phrases, like I SAY SO, I LIKE, TO BE, I'M A, IF SO and AS PER. To me that's just ICK!

"...away like a flash"


Oh yeah and that SE corner was like a multiple Natick for me... maybe that's why I'm so crabby!

*David* said...

As the Y add a letter on a Friday poster, I had minimal issue with this one. It was solid with little ICK in it and I liked the consistency of the Y being at the beginning of each theme answer. This may also have to do with the fact that it's 65 degrees outside and sunny but I don't put much stock into that theory.

backbiter said...

I wasn't too excited by this one. I got sort of a groan/har-har from Yalta vista, tho. Paper cutters was seriously messing with me. I had scissors in my mind trying to find some kind of abbreviation for it. It slowly trickled into the wrinkles of my brain and I could not let it go. Once the crossings revealed Eds I felt like a moron. Oh well.


Rube said...

Like others had trouble with the Lamb piece -- ESSAY, ALVEOLA(i?), and TEY crossings.

Re ESSAY, this apparently has been clued as "Lamb piece" often in the last 16 yrs of NYT puzzles, most recently was a Wednesday last year. Also clued as "Bacon piece", or both. Me, I think of Sir Horace Lamb, a British scientist who wrote the classic Hydronamics in the 19th Century.

ALVEOLA. (?) It's not been in the NYT since at least 1993. Xword WOTD.

Josephine TEY apparently is the pseudonym for a mystery writer who died in 1952. The wife, who is an avid mystery reader and watcher, never heard of her either. Apparently there are 5 Miss Pym mysteries.

I write this, not to show my ability to Google, but to impress on my mind these obscure facts so that maybe, just maybe, I'll remember them the next time.

C said...

I liked this puzzle, learned some stuff. In honor of the old timey YEGG in the puzzle, I was going to write my comment as if Dashiell Hammet took over my keyboard but I will spare anyone who actually reads my posts.

Happy holidays to all.



RealDucky said...

Guess my three years of Latin went for naught...had "suits" for Marx forte (Marx Bros. Guess that shows my age)and "aper" completely fell below my radar. I wonder who is going to do the Christmas theme tomorrow. Will it be "Ho HO HO" or Bah, Humbug? MErry Christmas, all from Santa Duck.

Sfingi said...

The theme was a groaner, but I like groaner puns. Knew it was YALTA, but was it in the beginning or the end of the expression?

However, before I got the theme I HTG for TEY and ODELL. If I had got the theme sooner, I likely wouldn't have Googled.

I did not like I SAY SO and IF SO in the same puzzle.

Going to the Italian Xmas Eve feast,now.

Hubster, a criminal defense attorney (RETD.) has never heard of YEGG. Calls them Box Men. I informed him it's crosswordese.

Orange said...

@JNH: ALVEOLA is most decidedly not a lung thing. Like I said, that word is alveolus in the singular, alveoli in the plural, alveolar in the adjectival form. The medical editing I do is mostly pulmonary in nature, and trust me, ALVEOLA is not a word they use.

SethG said...

I love Island of the Blue Dolphins.