12.29 Wed

December 29, 2010
Gary Cee

Theme: It's a real eye-opener — The first word of each theme answer can precede the word "eye" in a familiar phrase. Plus some other stuff.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Unquestioning devotion (BLIND FAITH).
  • 63A: *Knee-slapper (RIB TICKLER).
  • 10D: *Pitchers and tumblers (GLASSWARE).
  • 34D: *Like treatment for visiting dignitaries (RED CARPET).
  • 38A: 5- or 40-Down ... or what the start of each answer to a starred clue can be (EYE-OPENER).
  • 5D: Joe's stimulant (CAFFEINE).
  • 40D: Smoker's stimulant (NICOTINE).
Hi, everybody. I'm feeling a little better so decided to give Doug a break today. Isn't he awesome for stepping in all the time though? I keep telling him he needs to just go ahead and take over the blog already and he's all, "Um … no." Anyway. Today's puzzle is filled to the gills with theme. We've got the reveal right in the damn middle with four of the [x]-eye theme answers and another two examples of EYE-OPENERs. Did you notice that all the theme answers are symmetrical? That's a lot of constraint to put on a grid, but Gary does a great job of filling it nonetheless. I mean, sure, DOZY is a little iffy (to put it mildly), and I'd rather not see SEWAGE in my grid, but there's an awful lot of sparkly stuff too, like POP STAR, HEIGH-HO, YAHTZEE and STAX (which I would have clued as the record label, but whatever). All in all, an ambitious theme well-executed, and you can't ask for much more than that. (I mean, sure, a pangram would have been nice, but I guess Gary was just slacking on this one.)

  • 16A: Stubbs of the Four Tops (LEVI).

  • 21A: "When the smog clears in California, UCLA," e.g. (PUN). That's pretty good, as far as puns go.
  • 22A: Hitchcock title (SIR). I had no idea.
  • 29A: Repugnant reaction (UGH). This was my reaction to 32A: Treatment plant input (SEWAGE).
  • 45A: Latin 101 verb (ESSE). If I hadn't had one of the Ss in place already, I probably would have tried AMAT or AMAS.
  • 58A: Televise (AIR). Unfortunately, the answer word here also appears in a clue (36D: Aired again (RERAN)) and in both instances the word has the exact same meaning. You don't see that very often. I believe that's what's known as an editorial oversight.
  • 68A: Title owner of a sitcom bookstore (ELLEN). Whoa. How long has it been since ELLEN owned the bookstore? Let's see …. The last episode aired in 1998. That's an awfully long time ago. And I think she's done a few things since then that were, I don't know, clue-worthy.
  • 2D: Place to see Bugs? (CEL). You can see Bugs Bunny on an animation CEL.
  • 12D: Like Joe? (AVERAGE). Hi, Avg Joe!
  • 31D: Flavor (SAPOR). This word trips me up every time. I'm quite sure I've never heard it used or seen it written. I've seen it in puzzles before, but it doesn't stick in my brain because it's not connected to anything.
  • 43D: League of __ (NATIONS). Because "Women Voters" wouldn't fit.
  • 62D: Pet physician's deg. (DVM). PuzzleDad tells a story about how back in the day he and his buddies, one of whom was a veterinarian, used to play basketball at the Y. One day, one of the guys got hurt. He was writhing around on the ground holding his ankle so, of course, they called the "doctor" over. After assessing the situation, he delivered the bad news: "I'm afraid we'll have to shoot him." (I bet that joke never gets old for veterinarians.)
  • 66D: Popular New York Times crossword blogger Parker (REX).
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 45A: Latin 101 verb (ESSE).
  • 69A: Homeland of the folk-singing Clancy Brothers (EIRE).
  • 6D: Turkish authority (AGA).
  • 28D: Hi-__ graphics (RES).
  • 39D: Bigfoot cousin (YETI).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Sound return (ECHO); 5A: Suspension bridge support (CABLE); 10A: Obtain forcibly (GRAB); 14A: Miller, for one (BEER); 15A: Shoelace tip (AGLET); 19A: Scored 100 on (ACED); 20A: Bozo (GOOF); 23A: Dice-rolling game (YAHTZEE); 26A: The King or Prince (POP STAR); 30A: Pound sounds (YIPS); 33A: Tie up, in a way (MOOR); 35A: Home of Duke U. (N. CAR.); 37A: Looks bad, comparatively (PALES); 41A: Parisian daily, with "Le" (MONDE); 44A: Singer Amos (TORI); 49A: Signs into law (ENACTS); 51A: Pool room supply (RACK); 53A: Amigo (PAL); 54A: Reaches (ATTAINS); 56A: Chesapeake Bay city (NORFOLK); 59A: Physicians' org. (AMA); 61A: Precisely (TO A T); 62A: Fall (DROP); 67A: Green climber (VINE); 70A: Two out of three, say (MOST); 71A: Teacher's directive (SEE ME); 72A: Pringles-like Lay's product (STAX); 1D: Flow back (EBB); 3D: Dwarfs' song (HEIGH-HO); 4D: Self-contradictory afterthought (OR NOT); 7D: Plane, in a control tower (BLIP); 8D: Relax (LET UP); 9D: Cultural group (ETHNOS); 11D: Conservatory event (RECITAL); 13D: Bridge action (BID); 18D: Half asleep (DOZY); 23D: "De-lish!" ("YUM!"); 24D: Gone by (AGO); 25D: Theme park acronym (EPCOT); 27D: Toon Le Pew (PEPÉ); 28D: Hi-__ graphics (RES); 41D: "Give __ holler!" (ME A); 42D: Province bordering four Great Lakes (ONTARIO); 46D: What a "Me and My Shadow" singer might be (SPOTLIT); 47D: Mineo in movies (SAL); 48D: Mountain lion prey (ELK); 50D: Catches (SNARES); 52D: Ray who said, "It requires a certain kind of mind to see beauty in a hamburger bun" (KROC); 55D: The parenthesis in :-) (SMILE); 57D: Counterfeits (FAKES); 60D: Competent (ABLE); 64D: Pro __: for now (TEM); 66D: Oscar winner Harrison (REX).


v-man said...

A pretty decent puzzle and good theme answers. Again for the second week in a row I thought the Wednesday puzzle was easier than the Tuesday crossword. I had a DNF because of the Sloop John B answer. Nonetheless it felt like a Wednesday puzzle.


From EBB to REX, this puzzle was one big UGH... it doesn't even deserve a Cee minus.
IMO, there were inconsistencies in theme construction, ugly fill, and clue violations.

As for a PUN, 21A sure is no RIB TICKLER.

DOZY ???

The only clue I liked was 2D "Place to see Bugs?" (CEL). But if Gary had clued it as "Bug's place" instead, then the capitalization of Bugs wouldn't have given it away.

I guess I'm in a crabby mood cuz this CWP just didn't GRAB me.

Well hearing that Puzzlegirl is up-and-at-em again is a good thing and reading her fun-filled writeup was quite a redeeeming factor.

36D "Aired again" and 58A AIR seems like a GOOF to me.

Time to get my CAFFEINE fix.

imsdave said...

Sorry to disagree JNH, but this is the second LAT gem in a row. Total WOW for me. Not sure why, but UGH crossing YUM tickled me.

I learned that I don't know how to spell CAFFIENE (sic).

Old joke - the CEO's of MILLER, Coors, and Guinness are having lunch together. The waiter asks what they'll have to drink.

Miller CEO: I'll have a Miller Lite
Coors CEO: I'll have a Coor's Light
Guinness CEO: I'll have a Diet Coke

The other two are astonished at this choice and ask "why the Diet Coke"?

The Guinness CEO replies "If you gentleman won't be drinking beer, then neither will I"

Loved the writeup (esp. the REX gag) PG.

This puzzle really sang to me Mr. Cee.

Forever Plaid

Vic said...

I'm sure Mr Cee is a nice gentleman, but I wish people everywhere, and he today, would be more sensitive to people with disabilities. See, I lost an eye when I was 8 which was bad enough, but I also have an odd allergy to glass and most plastics, to the point where most prosthetic were intolerable for me. After 4 years of wearing the pirate patch, and being tortured by the bullies at school, someone finaly decided to go old-school on me, and fashioned me a wooden eye. To a large extent this relieved the constant teasing, to the point where I was confident enough to ask a girl to the jr high prom, the one person with whom I had been able to share my troubles through the years, as she had lost a leg in a car accident as an even younger child. When I finally asked her to the dance, she shouted, with a glee I misinterpreted at the time,
"Would I!", to which I unfortunately responded, "Well, screw you peg-leg".

I get lonely here at military school.

Avg Joe said...

A tough puzzle for me, but then I'm pretty average. (True story).

What did I learn? Like Dave, how to spell caffeine. Like PuzzleGirl that Alfred had been knighted. And that Rex Harrison had won an Oscar. Oh...and that there's a car named Sapor.

For some reason Stax came easily, but agree that the record co would have been a better clue. Wanted Norfolk to be Norwalk, but that's just plain wrong, ain't it. Dozy was a stinker, but a forgiveable one.

All in all, a workout, but hey: It spoke to me :-)

Glad your feeling better PG. From what I hear, there's not much going on outside. It's still snow free here in NE, but that's likely to change come Thursday night.

Van55 said...

Really good puzzle for me.

Doug P said...

I loved today's puzzle. Every theme answer crosses at least one other theme answer, and as PG pointed out, one of them crosses four! And I didn't think the fill was strained much at all. DOZY? Not great, but that sounds like something I'd actually say. Gary Cee gets an A+ from me.

*David* said...

This was a solid xword with minimal ugh fill. My only smirk moment was DVM otherwise I only had eyes for this puzzle.

I thought BLIND FAITH was a super group with Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood? I do agree that Parker does blog the NYT xword, the adjective may be in debate however, I would've used notorious.

C said...

Good puzzle today, LAT is going off this week in regards to puzzle quality. Can't wait too catch the next set puzzle and, cross my fingers, get a front side xword barrel.

Nighthawk said...

Glad you're back in the pink (eye), @PG.

Fun theme, though I confess it confused me in that I was attempting to use the entire 38A answer in front of the first word of the asterisked answers, leaving me head scratching for a few moments.

SAPOR was my WOTD. And that shoelace tip would have continued to be irksome had it not been a CW101er, so thanks @PG.

Hand up for preferring Isaac Hayes' (or Booker T's, or Otis Redding's, or... .) music label to chips for the 72A clue. But took pleasure in the Four Tops' LEVI's inclusion and the vid, even though they are of the more pop and, consequently, blander, Motown/Holland Dozier Holland strand of soul/R+B. As Hayes might say, I like my soul hot and buttered.

Nice to see a chance to use the oldie but goodie "Would I!" joke @Vic, and the "Guiness" joke @imsdave.

Several years ago, when Ted "The Mouth of the South"/"Captain Outrageous" Turner was into ocean racing (and won the America's Cup with Couragous in 1977, in celebration of which he was widely reported to have been, umm, "overserved"), he entered the prestigious Fastnet race off of England, much to the lampooning of the British tabloids, who thought him a 20A) GOOF. That 1979 race was particularly perilous when a storm arose during the race, overturning several boats and killing several participants. Helming Tenacious that year, much to the chagrin of the tabs, Turner won.

Captcha: nutwinsf - The tab headlines after Ted's 1979 Fastnet victory?

Rube said...

I'm sitting here ranting at myself for forgetting AGLET when I promised myself I would remember this neat word the last time I saw it in a puzz. Maybe next time.

Good puzzle despite starting off with HiHoHi? at 3D.

Hadn't really thought about ORNOT since I don't use this expression myself. Guess I'll have to try to use it today. Then again it infers lack of conviction. Or not.

Anonymous said...

26 across couldhave been a theme answer also.

SethG said...

Ya mama's got a glass eye with the fish in it.

This was nicely done.

Eric said...

Another excellent puzzle today! I didn't even mind DOZY :-)

The answer I had trouble spelling was HEIGH HO: I didn't know it had an E, and I had to work to convince myself the HH was OK -- without the space, it just looked wrong.

@Anon 12:20: Maybe POP STAR was supposed to be a theme answer, but he couldn't manage to work its mirror, 54A, into the theme. OR NOT.

Nice to see SPOTLIT -- reminds me of an old Sweet song called Spotlight.

Capcha: hessit -- what the guards did for decades in Spandau.

Sfingi said...

I finished w/o Googling, but it was sloggy.

For one thing, I had a hard time accepting BLIND EYE or WOOD EYE in a crossword, even though I always liked that old joke.
I even had Bahai before BLIND, wondering if it was some sort of third EYE.

Also what was the PUN? When the clog smears? Please explain.

There were some clever things, and it gave me quite an exercise, which is good.

CarolC said...

@Sfingi, I finally figured out the pun: When the smog clears, you see LA (UCLA). Right now, it's more when the rain clears, we can see LA. Glad it's stopped again. Captcha "trical" - not even one of those, no rain at all right now.

I kind of enjoyed having CAFFEINE & NICOTINE - which can both OPEN those EYES - and BEER, which can make me DOZY - in the puzzle. Of course too much of any of them can be an UGH.

Puzzle Girl, glad to hear you are feeling better.

Sfingi said...

@CarolC - Thanx! I can't believe I didn't get a pun, the lowest form of humor, so they say.