12.31 Fri

December 31, 2010
Gareth Bain

Theme: Who Dat? — Theme answers are familiar phrases with ST (the abbreviation for "saint") removed from the beginning of the first word.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Conger's protection? (EEL HELMET).
  • 26A: Tracker of bauxite thieves? (ORE DETECTIVE).
  • 43A: Roadie, after a gig? (AMP COLLECTOR).
  • 58A: Diamond oration? (UMP SPEECH).
  • 41D: Hardly a model of perfection, and a hint to how this puzzle's theme puns are derived (NO SAINT).
Add-a-letter/drop-a-letter themes are never gonna be flashy, but if they're executed well, you can at least say they're solid. This one I think qualifies as solid. I mean EEL HELMET? The visual I get with that is pretty funny. I also liked AMP COLLECTOR because it reminded me of good ol' Dana, a roadie for Aerosmith back in the day. Wonder what he's up to? Also liked UMP SPEECH. I can totally picture an umpire standing on the pitcher's mound with a microphone doing, like, a Jimmy Swaggart kinda thing. HAha! So yeah, a few chuckles, and that's a good deal. (And, no, that's not Dana in the picture.)

Have I mentioned that I can't get used to seeing themes in the Friday puzzle? I have? A couple times? Okay. How about how the late-week puzzles still aren't really hard enough for my taste? Yes? I've talked about that already too? Huh.

I jumped around quite a bit on this one, instead of just smoothly making my way from one section to another. I ended up in the northeast corner, where ZAPS (11D: Sci-fi effects) was not showing itself and the crosses weren't helping. DOPED = 19A: Figured (out), slangily? That was a total mystery to me. I thought KAZUO (9A: "The Remains of the Day" author __ Ishiguro) might be Karuo or Kaluo, but I finally made it to Z. I vaguely remember seeing the movie "The Remains of the Day" but the only book of his I've read is "Never Let Me Go," which, if I recall correctly, is excellent.

  • 14A: Sweeping story (EPIC). My first thought? Cinderella.
  • 21A: '60s quartet member (MAMA). The Mamas and the Papas.
  • 35A: "X-ing" one (PED). Cute clue. This is a reference to those PED XING traffic signs that encourage you to avoid mowing down the PEDestrians who are just trying to X the street and really aren't causing any trouble, after all.
  • 37A: Seriously impairs (MAIMS). Here's the thing I don't like about starting a new job. When you sit down to talk about benefits, they always want to let you know about the Accidental Death & Dismemberment insurance. I really don't want to be sitting there thinking about, much less talking about, the possibility of dismemberment. I just don't.
  • 39A: Loud, ringing sound (BONG). Or whatever.
  • 4D: Univ., e.g. (SCH.). I don't like this abbreviation for "school" but I think we're going to have to just get used to it.
  • 9D: "Devil Without a Cause" musician (KID ROCK). Now we're talkin'.

  • 27D: Beethoven dedicatee (ELISE). I can never remember if this particular ELISE is spelled with an I or a Y. It's the mom on "Family Ties" that's spelled with a Y. Just in case you were wondering. And I know you were.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 61A: Hook's mate (SMEE).
  • 63A: Hägar's dog (SNERT).
  • 12D: Fonda title role (ULEE).
  • 18D: Mideast bigwigs (EMIRS).
  • 49D: Blunted swords (ÉPÉES).
  • 54D: Name on some neutral WWII ships (EIRE).
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Everything Else — 1A: Blows (BOPS); 5A: Open some (AJAR); 15A: Like some walls (BARE); 16A: Collectively (IN ALL); 20A: __-Magnon man (CRO); 22A: Times for cool heads (CRISES); 23A: 6 7/8, e.g. (HAT SIZE); 25A: __ Age (IRON); 31A: Latin Quarter site (PARIS); 34A: Soup vegetable (LEEK); 36A: Space-saving abbr. (ET AL.); 40A: Barnyard male (TOM); 41A: Lofgren of the E Street Band (NILS); 42A: Flooded field (PADDY); 47A: Sailing, say (ASEA); 48A: Alluring tops (HALTERS); 52A: Sign with an arrow (ONE WAY); 55A: Like falling off a log (EASY); 56A: Snap (PIC); 57A: Alp-öhi's granddaughter in an 1880 novel (HEIDI); 60A: Dum-dum (MORON); 62A: Appear (SEEM); 64A: Event with gowns (BALL); 65A: __ buco (OSSO); 1D: Tree with edible nuts (BEECH); 2D: "What's __, Doc?": Classic "Looney Tunes" short (OPERA); 3D: Joystick user (PILOT); 5D: Burning (ABLAZE); 6D: Improvised, in a way (JAMMED); 7D: Zone (AREA); 8D: Soak flax (RET); 10D: Baptize with oil (ANOINT); 13D: Cutlass maker (OLDS); 22D: First Nations members (CREES); 24D: Muddy (SOIL); 25D: News __ (ITEM); 28D: Product with earbuds (IPOD); 29D: Push, so to speak (VEND); 30D: Avant-garde (EDGY); 31D: Org. where fur doesn't fly? (PETA); 32D: Splitting it releases energy (ATOM); 33D: Modeling milieu (RAMP); 37D: Cyrus who plays Hannah Montana (MILEY); 38D: __ breve (ALLA); 39D: One of TV's Mavericks (BART); 42D: Sea anemone, e.g. (POLYP); 44D: Macbeth's thanedom before he became king (CAWDOR); 45D: Vegas drive-through (CHAPEL); 46D: Fez feature (TASSEL); 50D: Prepares potatoes, in a way (RICES); 51D: Jerk (SCHMO); 52D: Resistance units (OHMS); 53D: Its atomic number is 10 (NEON); 55D: Jane Austen opus (EMMA); 58D: PC port for a flash drive (USB); 59D: Spanish pronoun (ESO).


Arthur said...

Thanks for the explaination of the reveal, I was wondering in what universe NOSAINT meant NOSandT. I'm not convinced that I like it, but at least I understand it now.

I was shocked that "The Remains of the Day" was written by someone named Kazuo Ishiguro. I was sure that the author's name had to be some horrendously stereotypical British sounding name, as it was quintessential British Manor novel.

Thanks for doing this day in, day out. It improves my day.

IAgrl said...

Enjoyable puzzle today, took me a while to figure out how 'No Saint' applied. Gotta love Kid Rock and Hank Williams...

Enjoy your comments - I'm an Iowa girl and a Hawkeye fan, Women's Bball rocks!

Mokus said...

Sorry to see the year end on a sour note. The theme and many of the entries seemed too forced. I'm also disappointed that there's no botany lesson re. beech trees. John? You home?

*David* said...

Figured out the theme purty quickly. My tough areas were the SW and NE. I was pretty sure about ZAPS but wasn't 100% on DOPED or KAZUO. In the SW I put in SNERD(T) at first which left me sitting twiddling my thumbs for a bit. I cleared it up finally with SAINT and then HEIDI revealed herself and I was done.

Van55 said...

Even with the theme this one out up some themeless-like resistance. Enjoyed it though I thought the theme reveal was a little lame.

John Wolfenden said...

I thought this puzzle started out straightforward and conventional but liked the theme and many of the words. Can't remember ever seeing POLYP before, and it's great to see something other than OKRA for "Soup vegetable."

NILS Lofgren was in the news this month, slamming the media's fawning coverage of Michael Vick.

I played in an orchestra in junior high and high school and never came across an ALLA BREVE notation. Used more in modern compositions, I imagine.

Can't say I've ever found HALTER tops all that alluring, but concede that I may be in the minority. A Google search revealed among other pics Emma Watson wearing a leather one. She's a beautiful young woman but man that is not flattering.

"What's OPERA, Doc" is a classic indeed. "Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit..."

Sfingi said...

DNF and Did Not Like. I don't consider these puns. For Brits?

The SW threw me. I spelled MILEY at least 4 different ways. Stupid name for a child. Billy you got some 'splainin' to do.

HTG for HEIDI, SNERT (didn't remember from last time), KAZUO.

Never heard of the expression DOPED for figured out. For many other things, yes.

Had the wrong Fonda in my head - Klute?

Kept changing my soup from bEan to bEEt to LEEK.

@Arthur and @Mokus - agree with all you say.

@PuzzleGirl - I also thought of Cinderelly - and I have your cold.

Rube said...

Got the SW before any of the themes and realized that "ST" was going to be missing from the theme answers. The only question was where. At EELHELMET, I thought, that's lame. Then went on to complete just the themes and every one seemed just as lame.

In other words, did not like the theme, but enjoyed the rest of the puzzle. DNG and finished in good time. Did not know POLYP, ALLA, KAZUO, KIDROCK, RET, and NILS Lofgren, but all gettable from crosses, (or educated guesses).

Thx @JW for the Nils Lofgren link. I agree completely. Anyone else want to weigh in on this issue? Sports enthusiast or not.

Needless to say, would have rather seen SHMOO rather then SCHMO, but that's just fond memories of Dogpatch.

Eric said...

I liked the theme, and the puns, and the slightly off-kilter reveal. If that EEL is in fact wearing a stEEL HELMET, I'm glad he's a conger. If he were an electric eel, things would not end well :-)

DNF. The north-center messed me up. I had AfLAmE instead of ABLAZE, and for "Muddy", SOIL just wasn't coming to me (I was stuck in adjective mode). That put HAT_IME far enough off to keep me from seeing where my mistake was, especially as hat sizes aren't really part of my world -- the few hats I wear are just sized S/M/L.

I thought "60s quartet member" was going to be JOHN or PAUL. Glad it wasn't; I like the Mamas & Papas.

"Latin Quarter site" confused me at first; I thought it was looking for something in the LQ.

I liked a lot of the other clues though. Great to see NEON clued for its atomic number instead of its use in signage, especially right next door to OHMS. And "Vegas drivethrough" for CHAPEL is a hoot!

Pop-culture image that @PG has already linked to:
    46D: Fez feature (TASSEL).

John Wolfenden said...


I think people on both sides of the Michael Vick issue have valid points. My wife works in dog rescue, and she was revolted that the NFL didn't ban him for a longer period. I agree with Lofgren that the repercussions would've been more severe for a third-string player than they were for one of the league's superstars.

I don't think it's fair to blame the media for rhapsodizing about how great Vick is...that's their job. But it does make me angry that President Obama waded into the debate by calling the Eagles' GM to applaud him for giving Vick a second chance. It was a decision motivated by profit, not principles. And if Obama believed in giving second chances, he should've adopted a shelter dog instead of accepting a purebred from the Kennedy family.

It is perhaps unreasonable to expect professional atheletes to behave any better than the rest of society, but as role models they deserve the pressure they feel to behave. As several animal rights groups have pointed out, Vick has the power to do much to promote animal welfare, but he has years of work to do before he has truly paid his debt in my view.

SethG said...

Sometimes, boring abbreviations are perfectly fine. I'm looking at you, RET.

The Remains of the Day is one of my favorite books ever. He also wrote The Unconsoled, maybe my least favorite book ever. At least the 50 pages I read, which is farther than Paige made it.



Super Gareth Puzzle!
I was gonna call this a "drinking buddy" puzzle (ALE MATE), because it looked like it could be a STALEMATE for me, then BONG, it hit me! Got the theme and before seeing the NO ST. reveal. To top it off, I actually solve it 100% correctly and with no Googling... now that made me feel great! A good way to end up my year of 1,000 crossword puzzles.

I have to say this about Gareth's puzzles--- THEY ARE NEVER BORING!
The clues are tough, the themes are cryptic, and the fill words are original and fascinating (like: KAZUO, PADDY, POLYP, SCHMO, CAWDOR, and HAT SIZE).

Seems like the LAT is trying to outdo the NYT for high-quality Fri.-Sun. puzzles.

Yeah, JOHNS HOME now... been out buying a new car. You know, one of those 2011 deals at the year-end sales. Nothing like waiting till the last day.
Anyway, I don't really have anything very interesting to say about BEECH trees except that they're one of my favorites and I have a bunch of nice photos to show ya' here.

Happy New Year y'all.

Captcha: SAIKOO (a new form of Japanese poetry).

mac said...

Nice puzzle! I'm also a great fan of Ishiguro, but especially "The remains of the day" and its film. Usually I'm disinclined to see a movie of a favorite book. I won't see "Never let me go" because it is just so sad....

Heidi was a nice surprise, and I too had problems with the spelling of Snert.

Michael Vick? If he weren't a good football player he would still be in jail. Money and sports trump everything.