M O N D A Y   December 13, 2010
Gareth Bain

Theme: Puzzle of the Decade — Theme answers are familiar phrases that follow the pattern "[noun] of the [time period]."

Theme answers:
  • 19A: Restaurant special (SOUP OF THE DAY).
  • 27A: '60s ABC boxing show (FIGHT OF THE WEEK).
  • 41A: Featured mail-order club offering (BOOK OF THE MONTH).
  • 47A: Motor Trend magazine award (CAR OF THE YEAR).
Happy Monday, everyone. Hope you had a great weekend and are ready for another fun week of puzzling. Today's theme is very cute. I'd be surprised if it hasn't been done before, but I'm not going to look it up because it just doesn't matter. I solved this one pretty much from top to bottom, so the theme was clear right away. The only small slip-up I had is that "FIGHT OF THE" ends in "century" in my brain. Obviously that wasn't going to work, and the correct answer wasn't too tough to figure out. Ya know what makes this theme really work? That the time periods start short and get longer as you progress through the grid. That's one of those things that new solvers might (a) take for granted or (b) not even notice, but I'm here to tell you that it's no accident. If Gareth had submitted the puzzle with the entries in a different order, Rich would have probably told him it was a nice theme but he needed to redo it to make it right. (That is, of course, completely hypothetical — Gareth would never do that because he knows better.)

There's quite a bit of crosswordese in the fill, but it is Monday after all. And there are a couple of interesting and/or Scrabbly words in the grid like OPAQUE, KELP and REHASH. I had some trouble in the Oklahoma/Texas area where my frequent inability to parse long down answers showed itself. It's just something about reading on the vertical that gives me trouble. Sometimes I end up writing the word out horizontally just so I can see it properly and get my head-slap moment. Reading PUT*TO*ED from top to bottom was just not going anywhere and the crosses of PAT and BARA were not helping. I mean, come on, BARA?! The only "silents" actresses I've ever needed to know are Zasu Pitts and Nita Naldi. Expanding that particular list to three seems a little excessive, doesn't it??

  • 1A: __ Squad: Best Buy service team (GEEK). Actually had to think about this one. My brain didn't want to move away from the Buy More "Nerd Herd" on the TV show "Chuck."
  • 32A: Fillies, as adults (MARES). Look like we've got a little female animal subtheme going here. See also 8D: Doe, for one (FEMALE).
  • 33A: Singer Chris or actor Stephen (REA). Do I know who Chris REA is? ... Nope, I sure don't. But wow. He's got a great voice.
  • 38A: Minute stake? (ANTE). Well sometimes it's not very minute, but we get the point.
  • 58A: French parting (ADIEU). I'm all "The French had something to do with parting the Red Sea?!" So weird the associations we make.
  • 61A: Roger who played Bond (MOORE). Like this one. Roger? I went right to Daltrey. (Okay, first I went to my uncle Roger, but that probably doesn't mean anything to you.) I don't think either one of those Rogers would have made a credible James Bond.
  • 21D: Qatar's capital (DOHA). Is this the capital city or the country's currency? … It's the city. Qatar's currency is the riyal.
  • 48D: Top choice, for short (FAVE). With F*VE in place I thought, well sure "five" is the top choice on a scale of one to five but … what the heck is "five" short for? Ohhhh, I get it now.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 16A: Inland Asian sea (ARAL).
  • 24A: Rap's Dr. __ (DRE).
  • 33A: Singer Chris or actor Stephen (REA).
  • 34A: Tennis star/anti-apartheid activist Arthur (ASHE).
  • 44A: B'way "no seats" sign (SRO).
  • 63A: Cathedral recess (APSE).
  • 3D: Biblical twin (ESAU).
  • 12D: __ Khan (AGA).
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Everything Else — 5A: Paving surface (TAR); 8A: Classic orange soda (FANTA); 13A: Bit of subterfuge (RUSE); 14A: Naked (BARE); 15A: Ruthless J.R. on "Dallas" (EWING); 17A: Write on, as sheet metal (ETCH); 18A: Mediterranean island country (MALTA); 22A: Barrio uncle (TIO); 23A: MSN rival (AOL); 35A: Microwave gadget (TIMER); 36A: Sci-fi escape craft (POD); 37A: Geometry calculations (AREAS); 39A: Vienna's land: Abbr. (AUS.); 40A: Nasal detections (ODORS); 45A: Contrived (PAT); 46A: Run in (NAB); 53A: Ribs sauce style, briefly (BAR-B-Q); 56A: Silents actress Theda (BARA); 57A: Niger neighbor (MALI); 59A: What avengers get (EVEN); 60A: Study a lot in a short time (CRAM); 62A: Low grade (DEE); 1D: Mardi __ (GRAS); 2D: Continental cash (EURO); 4D: Brown seaweed (KELP); 5D: Bit of body art (TATTOO); 6D: Semicircular entrance (ARCH); 7D: Prepared, as leftovers (REHEATED); 9D: On holiday, say (AWAY); 10D: Zero, in soccer (NIL); 11D: Explosive abbr. (TNT); 14D: Suits (BEFITS); 20D: Catchall category (OTHER); 24D: The Kalahari, for one (DESERT); 25D: Uninspired new version (REHASH); 26D: Barely gets by, with "out" (EKES); 27D: Key of Beethoven's "Appassionata" Sonata (F MINOR); 28D: "You are not!" rejoinder ("I AM TOO!"); 29D: Plato's language (GREEK); 30D: First-year student, briefly (FROSH); 31D: __ Terror: Bush campaign (WAR ON); 35D: Bills at bars (TABS); 36D: Finished dealing with (PUT TO BED); 37D: Hacienda brick (ADOBE); 39D: "We Three Kings" adverb (AFAR); 40D: Certain Nebraskan (OMAHAN); 42D: Opposite of transparent (OPAQUE); 43D: Main dish (ENTREE); 47D: Trucker with a handle (CB'ER); 49D: Song sung with arm motions (YMCA); 50D: O.K. Corral name (EARP); 51D: Word of sorrow (ALAS); 52D: "The __ of the Ancient Mariner" (RIME); 53D: "Pow!" cousin ("BAM!"); 54D: Hoo-ha (ADO); 55D: __ Grande (RIO).


SethG said...

Too bad $ALE OF THE CENTURY is a 16.

As to your point about the time periods progressing, it's not just the progression, it's also the completeness. All the natural breaks in the interval from day to year are covered. So, for example, second/minute/hour/day would work, but second/hour/month/century wouldn't. Which Rich, Gareth, and PuzzleGirl all know, I'm just pointing it out for the new solvers. Because that's how I roll.

Avg Joe said...

Pretty cute theme and smooth puzzle overall. My biggest WTH? moment was with REHASH. I wanted remake badly enough that it caused a trip, but not a stumble. I almost filled in MAN OF THE YEAR without looking at the clue, but figured I should check first. Good thing.

Didn't like BARBQ. You see it as BBQ often enough, but rarely in this format.

PG, I didn't even make the connection to Chris Rea. Just filled it in a went about my business. With your clip I remembered him. He is good. A better known song is "Working On It"

Thanks and have a good week all. Hope those of you that got snow are getting dug out. We missed the snow here in Nebr, but it sure is cold!

His name is pronounced "Ree-ah". The actor is "Ray", IIRC.

Rex Parker said...

What Seth said. Add DECADE CENTURY and MILLENNIUM and you've got something.

Liked this one just fine. Still can't break that 2:30 barrier. Close, though.

Van55 said...

Very good Monday puzzle, though with a bit too much crosswordese for my taste. Nicely executed theme!


Thank you Gareth for a nice Monday puzzle that was extremely easy to solve... I need quick things this week bec. theres so much to do.
Loved your theme progression.

First word was GEEK Squad and that was a gimme in view of the fact that my PC blew its mother board last week and is now in the shop. Luckily I had opted for the Best Buy service contract. One good thing though... I'm getting acquainted with my seldom used laptop.

As soon as I saw the clue for 9D (AWAY), I knew this puzzle was done by Gareth. We here in the colonies say "on vacation" instead of "on holiday". I just love our english differences.

After I filled in OPAQUE, I thought "aha, what 5-letter word could end with Q. Never thought of BARBQ, because again we use BBQ or Barbeque in these AREAS.

Here's a word-photo I'm sure you're all waiting for:

Fave word: FAVE (because I use it all the time).

@PG, I enjoyed reading your writeup and appreciate that photo of Theda BARA. Wow, she was beautiful! But I do think she should have been in CW101 because I've seen her name in many CWPs before.


Well it's time to say ADIEU and to get on with my pre-Christmas chores.

Orange said...

Nita Naldi! That's the one I was forgetting at Crossword Fiend. Another actress of yore (WAY yore) you may see in the puzzle is Virna Lisi.

Joon said...

we could also tack on to the beginning: man of the hour, um... stake of the minute?

Larry S said...

Theda BARA entered the trivia barrel of my mind long ago because of the Country Bear Jamboree at the Disney parks (Disneyland for me, though I guess it's no longer there), where Teddi Barra comes down from the ceiling on a swing, singing.

Anonymous said...

Dear Puzzle Constructors,
Please stop using "hoo-ha" as a clue. To quote Fezzig in the Princess Bride, "I do not think that word means what you think it means."
Thank You!

CrazyCatLady said...

Nice smooth puzzle. Enjoyable theme and progression. I had the same problem as PG with PUT TO BED. I was missing the P from POD and the B from BARA so I had UT TO ED and vertically that wasn't making any sense. Had to write it out and voilà. That was my last entry.

Anonymous said...

Noun hoo-ha (plural hoo-has)

1.A fuss, uproar, commotion or stir; hype; brouhaha

"There was a big hoo-ha about it in the papers, and then the world completely forgot the matter."

Translations a fuss, commotion, uproar Dutch: herrie nl(nl) f., drukte nl(nl) f., ophef nl(nl) m.Finnish: hulabaloo fi(fi) French: brouhaha fr(fr) m., tumulte fr(fr)

Nesting: (e.g. Norwegian/Nynorsk)

[edit] See also brouhaha

It means what it means.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:13: Yes it does, as @Anon 9:45 showed. The fact that, in slang, it *also* means what you think it means is beside the point. If we were to bowdlerize every normal word with an off-colour slang meaning, we'd have to do away with drive shafts, the boob tube, and the frequent crossword answer "ass",- not to mention that actor Rod Steiger would have had to change his name.

badrog said...

@Orange, Is there more than one Virna Lisi? The familiar one was born in 1936.
The silent film star I've seen most often in CW is Pola Negri, and she's listed as CW101 on this blog.

Is there a Vienna in Australia?
Aus. may be a legitimate abbr. for Austria in some listings, but in standard international use (UN, IOC, ISO, etc) Austria = AUT and Australia = AUS. Would've thought a Monday puzzle would avoid this kind of ambiguity.

Anonymous said...

So BIG BALLS can be clued as an AC/DC song about galas, then.

TITS, ASS, BEAVER, BONER, these all make it into the puzzle. But you can bet that when someone clues ERR with [Pull a boner] he knows exactly what he's doing. Hoo-ha, maybe not...

Avg Joe said...

Do you know why Firemen have bigger balls than Policemen??

Because they sell more tickets!


Eric said...

Is BARB Q the sister of Suzie Q? :-)

@Anon 10:54: Losing the boob tube (by whatever name) might not be such a bad idea...

@SethG: If it were a Sunday 21x21, @Gareth could even have fit in my favourite Supertramp album, CRIME OF THE CENTURY.

badams52 said...


It amazes me when you guys publish your times for completing the puzzles. When I solve them, I think the best I've ever gotten is around 10-11 minutes.

On the 2nd try of filling in all the answers, this time I was able to type in all but 6 of the acrosses since I knew them all, it still took me 3:13 to fill in the grid.

I just cannot fathom how some of you can solve the puzzle in under 3 minutes on the first try.

Van55 said...

When a crossword clue or an answer has two possilbe meanings, one of which can be perceived as politically incorrect or even offensive, I think it is safe to assume that the constructor had the inoffensive one in mind.

The vulgar slang meaning of "hooha" or "hoohah" is not of particularly common usage, in my experience, and the meaning quoted by the poster above is the usual and customary meaning.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing you're not under, say, 40?

Avg Joe said...

@Badams52: I don't think of myself as a garden variety idiot, but I can't even come close to the times cited either. Dailies prolly take 8-15 minutes on avg and the Sundays usually take close to an hour. Sometimes more, when they're tough. But ya know what? I don't really care. I do it for the challenge, to hopefully learn something, and to keep my addled mind agile. For me, the pleasure is in the doing, not the competition (real or imagined).

For some insight, watch the movie "Wordplay" if you haven't already. Netflix has it. I get why competitors focus so much on speed, but it doesn't match my own motive, so I just blow it off. YMMV.

Van55 said...

@anonymous at 1:55 -- good guess. But still, even among the under 40 set it isn't as common a usage as "hoohoo" I don't think.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you don't hang out with people who are? Being of the set, I'd say I've heard the slang use approximately infinitely more often than the dictionary use.

PuzzleGirl said...

This slang is familiar to some people and not to others. Done. If you guys need to keep going back and forth about it, exchange email addresses.

rz said...

I finally used this opportunity to look up MALTA in Wikipedia. Although not quite SRO, it has one of the world's densest populations. The currency is the EURO. Located just south of Sicily, it's been colonized by Romans (with their many ARCHes), GREEKs, and Phoenicians (with their PUNIC hoo-has from EONs and puzzles past). And yes, they have a YMCA in MALTA ...

..... MALTA, New York

ADIEU until tomorrow.

mac said...

Very nice puzzle, but I don't think I have ever missed as many clues because I already got it the other way!

Sfingi said...

ADO and EARP were on the NYT. TATTOO was on USAToday. Conspiracy.

@RZ - In Malta, they speak a form of Arabic-Sicilian.

Want "beat the ___ out of" for TAR, sometime.

Cold and snowy in Upstate NY. Gas up to $3.28.

@Larry S - That sounds cute! But, seriously, Theda BARA is very important to the Silent era. Another one is Lillian Gish.

To the hoohas - Or, get a room. Haha.
OSWOB - "One sees what one brings,"
my mantra and a quote of Henry Adams.

Oh, it's my 41st anniversary - and Happy Saint Lucia's day - that's not her birthday, but her day of martyrdom.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Sfingi and the "Hubster" Happy Anniversary!

John said...

What happe4ned at Cruciverb?? why isnt the LAT published in AcrossLite(at least for today)???

Drove me nuts trying to solve the puzzle because im used to left clicking to change the orientation of the grid!!! ARRRRGH!!!


The Chicago Tribune gives a blank and solvable LAT crossword every day. It's convenient and easy to use. Tomorrow's will probably go up about 3AM CST.
Try it here.

ddbmc said...

@Sfingi!-what CCL says! I'll have a chocolate MALTA to that!
Wonder what kind of MALTa @Tin would have?
Snowed in Tennessee today, as well as NY State! NJ just had the flurries!

Gareth, enjoyed the puzzle, along with @PG's w-u.

@Hey,A-nonny-nonny 9:33am:
Ain't new-ha!
Tis ancient review-ha!
Ado-ha oer vulgar meaning, huh?
Just simply bush-league, yah? :)

CarolC said...

All, I'm coming late to the party and taking the 5th on the controversial subject.

Which leads me to @avg joe on the police/fire competition. Last night I helped at the firefighter's spaghetti dinner while my husband volunteered for the police department at our annual holiday fireworks. Yes, the firefighters sold more tickets, but there were more citizens et al being dealt with by the police dept (good citizens, ne'er do wells, out of towners, whatever). So if "one" puts their money where their mouth is, the firefighters win, if it's sheer numbers the police win--either way, we all win!!