01.21 Fri

January 21, 2011
Kelsey Blakley

[This is the one week out of the year where I'm going to just mention that there is a donation button over in the sidebar. Please read my pitch for donations at the beginning of Monday's write-up here. And thanks so much for being here and for all the kind notes I've received this week.]

Theme: Whateva! — Familiar (?) phrases that end in ER are transformed into wacky phrases that end in A.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Heavy metal mimic? (HARD ROCK MYNA).
  • 28A: Nickname for a pharmaceuticals czar? (PILL PAPA).
  • 37A: Surfing-induced torpor? (BEACH COMA).
  • 49A: Sailor's pocket bread? (SALT PITA).
  • 56A: Heavenly food on the nightstand? (BEDSIDE MANNA).
Can't say that I'm a big fan of this theme. I finished up in the northeast where it took me what felt like forever (and was probably 40 seconds) to grok the first theme answer. So the base phrase is HARD ROCK MINER? Is that a phrase? It gets 200,000 Google hits as a phrase. That's really not many. In my world I just call that person a MINER and I don't feel the need to get any more specific than that. If HARD ROCK MINER is an appropriate base phrase then I'm building my next puzzle around BLUES MUSIC SINGER.

To be fair, BEDSIDE MANNA gave me a chuckle. And even though I typically don't like to find the word COMA in my puzzle (not sure why, it's just distasteful to me), BEACH COMA amused me for some reason. SALT PITA on the other hand is just super super dry and PILL PAPA has a clue that doesn't make any sense to me. (Wouldn't the "pharmaceuticals czar" be called the PILL CZAR?) I guess what I'm saying is the theme just felt off to me all the way around. Sometimes when that happens, it doesn't affect my solving experience, but today it definitely did.

Good stuff in the puzzle includes SMIDGEN, of course (42D: Wee bit). I kinda wanna be mad at ENNUI (38D: Lassitude), but only because it's so awesome. Let me explain. I remembered that I had once included a video clip from "Gilmore Girls" to go along with an ENNUI entry. So I went back and looked for it, and found it was back in April 2009. Well that's quite a while ago, so I thought it would be okay to run it again today. Apparently, between then and now the person who posted the video to YouTube decided to disable embedding. I wanted to be all determined and find the clip in an embeddable format, but I knew if I started poking around "Gilmore Girls" video clips I would be sucked into the YouTube vortex and never finish this write-up. So. The clip is here if you're interested. And that's really the best I can do for you today. So sorry!


  • 1A: Iowa wrestling legend Dan (GABLE). No, that's not really the clue. But it could have been!
  • 16A: Plantation near Twelve Oaks (TARA). I started with PITCHER where MANAGER was supposed to go (13D: Recipient of an annual baseball award since 1983), which made this answer end in an I. But I thought "Well, it must be TARA, I mean, TARA is the only plantation in CrossWorld, right?"
  • 23A: Exotic guided tour (SAFARI). And we learned recently that a SAFARI might even make a good honeymoon.
  • 27A: Flop (DOG). Tried SAG first.
  • 34A: Chapeau's perch (TÊTE). Anyone remember the Cat in the Hat song? "Cat. Hat. In French chat chapeau. In Mexico el gato in a sombrero."
  • 40A: Williams of ''Happy Days'' (ANSON). Potsie!
  • 44A: One shooting the bull? (VET). The bull presumably has some sort of malady and the VETerinarian needs to give him a shot. Good luck, VETerinarian!
  • 71A: Pram occupant's wear (NAPPY). This one tricked me in a good way. I thought "ONESIE doesn't fit!" but then realized the word "pram" in the clue was an indication that the answer would be a British word.
  • 9D: Long-odds track wager (EXACTA). An EXACTA bet is when you choose the first- and second-place finishers in order. A QUINELLA is choosing the first- and second-place finishers in either order. And now you're ready to go to the track.
  • 12D: Cargo on the Edmund Fitzgerald when it sank in Lake Superior (IRON ORE). Wow, really? That's so interesting! It was carrying IRON zzzzzz….
  • 32D: Zadora of "Hairspray" (PIA). Was she in the original film, the remake, or the stage production? Wikipedia to the rescue! (She was in the original film.)
  • 35D: OAS member (ECUA.). I'm guessing that's an abbreviation for ECUAdor but I'm not interested enough to look it up.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 18A: __ avis (RARA).
  • 19A: Prince William's alma mater (ETON).
  • 66A: Nat or Card (NL'ER).
  • 21D: Rodeo prop (RIATA).
  • 45D: SFO listing (ETA).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: Cape Cod feature (GABLE); 6A: Valentine trim (LACE); 10A: Embezzle (SKIM); 14A: Medicinal plants (ALOES); 15A: Comet competitor (AJAX); 17A: Like ESP? (SIXTH); 26A: Subway co. in a 1959 song (MTA); 31A: Aim high (ASPIRE); 33A: Commotion (ADO); 36A: One bearing down (EIDER); 43A: Peevish, as a puss (SOUR); 47A: Sharp Italian cheese (ROMANO); 52A: 11th-century date (MVI); 53A: Mantel piece (URN); 55A: Crankcase reservoir (OIL PAN); 60A: Bit of plankton (ALGA); 61A: C-3PO worshiper (EWOK); 62A: Where to see government programs (C-SPAN); 67A: Sparkling wine city (ASTI); 68A: Elicit a :-) from (AMUSE); 69A: Dismally damp (DANK); 70A: "Lolita" star Sue (LYON); 1D: State of matter (GAS); 2D: Fighter who was a dove (ALI); 3D: Emulate 2-Down (BOX); 4D: Ruinous (LETHAL); 5D: F equivalent (E SHARP); 6D: Blubber (LARD); 7D: Slightly gapped (AJAR); 8D: Ricochet (CAROM); 10D: Stalk (STEM); 11D: Insect that can mimic a leaf (KATYDID); 22D: "Casey's Top 40" host (KASEM); 23D: Bad Ems attraction (SPA); 24D: Give a leg up (AID); 25D: Showman Ziegfeld (FLO); 29D: Chest muscles, briefly (PECS); 30D: Oldest musketeer (ATHOS); 37D: Zookeeper's main squeeze? (BOA); 39D: DuPont's Fiber A, now (ORLON); 40D: Worn symbol of support (ARMBAND); 41D: "Billy Budd," e.g. (NOVELLA); 44D: Certain lounge frequenter (VIP); 46D: Soak up some rays (TAN); 48D: Tough test (ORDEAL); 50D: Object of a kicking game (TIN CAN); 51D: State of matter (PLASMA); 54D: Like a thorough update (NEWSY); 57D: Cutty __: historic clipper ship (SARK); 58D: Agent inspired by Chan (MOTO); 59D: Like, with "to" (AKIN); 63D: Minor crying wolf? (PUP); 64D: Egyptian viper (ASP); 65D: Napoleonic Wars marshal (NEY).


imsdave said...

The way I solved this puzzle left me with _ILLP___. I thought I had the theme figured out (changing B to P) and plopped in KILLPILL. Well, I thought it was funny.

Had DUD for DOG, then no other erasures.

Enjoyed the "real" theme except for (as our charming host already explained), MYNA. Nice Wednesday puzzle.

Vega said...

BEDSIDEMANNA was definitely the highlight today. I sure did zip through this one. Why would you create a 4-letter abbreviation of a 7-letter country? I know IRONORE from the song, "26,000 tons more than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty."

Mokus said...

"With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty..from a hit by Gordon Lightfoot. The cargo wasn't the main issue but "The Wreck of..." was.
I enjoyed the theme which seemed to have a Boston flavor what with the dropped Rs and the MTA where Charlie rides forevah! Would that be considered a subway theme?

Neophyte said...

I ended up with the wrong image for 44A: "One shooting the bull?" (VET). I pictured a bunch of veterans sitting around telling stories as they re-fought the war. Wrong kind of VET and wrong kind of bull.

Reminds me that when the translators of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (1989) updated the old RSV (1952), they slightly altered the wording of Psalm 50:9 to prevent the word "bull" from being understood the wrong way.

Rex Parker said...

I thought this was hard (for the LAT). I know HARD ROCK miners from a Cowboy Junkies song (first song on Trinity Sessions, "Mining for Gold). In fact, first words, first notes of the whole album are "We are miners / Hard rock miners / To the shaft house / We must go."

Enjoyed the theme, for the most part. ECUA and NEY are a little jarring. Else, fine.


Avg Joe said...

I liked this puzzle. Not too much crosswordese and some interesting cluing.

Gotta admit that Hardrockmyna isn't all that clever, but I have heard of the term. Saltpita, OTOH, is a riot!

Lesson of the day? Learned how to pronounce Ennui. It's one of those words known only due to CWs and the occasion has never come up where it needed to be said aloud.


I think I'm suffering from ENNUI this morning and this cheesy (ROMANO?) puzzle isn't helping.
I agree with Puzzlegirl on the theme. Aside from that, there's some pretty good fill and if the constructor had just left the theme out, I would have been satisfied with the good entries in the corner stacks.
This was perhaps the easiest Friday puzzle we've had in a year. As some of you know, I work my puzzle while having breakfast at a charming little cafe called "Mother's" and if I can finish a puzzle before FLO refills my coffee cup, I consider that a fast solve... today that happened. When I got down to 68A (AMUSE), I got a big smiley face.
I thought some of the clues were quite original and humorous. I've seen ECUA used in other puzzles and I always cringe when I see it. The other word that I have come to abhor is NLER. Is that really a spoken word?
Have a super weekend, y'all!


For 40A, I kept trying to fit in CINDY, because Shirley (CINDY WILLIAMS) was on "Happy Days" too.
I totally forgot about "Potsie"... he's easy to forget.

*David* the Puzzla said...

I really liked the theme as it was a bit different and was not as evident as others. I liked BEACH COMA as that would be two words you would never expect to see together. MYNA was my last theme to fall and the last area to fill in. Other then that section, the puzzle went relatively quick for a Friday. Lots of room to get footholds throughout the puzzle.

Tuttle said...

ENNUI always makes me think of a MST3k sketch (what doesn't?) where the movie has a "bluebird of happiness" and the crew starts wondering about other birds like the "grackle of weltschmerz", the "penguin of giddiness", the "grebe of obnoxiousness" and the "phoenix of ENNUI".

Larry S said...

@PG, "IRON zzzzzz..." and "... I'm not interested enough to look it up." Thanks for spreading this infectious ENNUI! (AMUSEd)

Rant: Puzzle constructors, stop using NLER (and ALER)! Anything never used outside CW puzzles is not a word and therefore is not admissible! I've loved baseball all my life and have never heard a player referred to by those terms. Your puzzle is disqualified if you resort to those DOGs.

Okay, I'm done. With this theme, should I be thinking of Horatio ALGA or is that not precise enough and I should be EXACTA?

I also finished up in the Northeast where I wanted the flop to be a Dud and thus the cargo to be maNuRE (lacking a letter but funny thought) and the baseball award to be for relievER (too many) or closER (too few). But I see that the Rolaids Relief Man Award started in 1976. KATYDID broke the logjam even if I did initially try to spell it with a 'c'.

Rube said...

Not knowing but what Bad Ems was a rock band, put SkA in getting kILLPAPA. Now that's a pretty nasty czar. So, Googled and resolved the problem. Oh well, one Google on Friday isn't too bad.

Had the most trouble in the NE, because had TARA in 19A, the wrong row. Hate it when I do that.

The theme didn't do much for me either, but an enjoyable puzzle.

C said...

Preach on @LarryS, amen about the NL/AL -er. Since I still enjoy puzzles that have these answers, I am afraid I can only join your revolution in spirit only but trust me, on the spiritual plane, I am raging.

Theme was OK for me today, some enjoyable, some not so. I liked NAPPY as an answer, yet another clue that got me listening to the Specials which is always accepted.

Eric said...

This was an easier-than-usual Friday for me.

HARD ROCK MINer is definitely legit. Hard-rock mining (which parses more easily with the hyphen, doesn't it?) means what it sounds like: mining for hard minerals -- metal ORES, typically. Soft-rock mining is going after softer stuff like coal or salt. The latter article also distinguishes them as soft rock being sedimentary, whereas hard rock is igneous or metamorphic. In any case, different techniques are required. Bonus: the linked hard-rock article contains probably my second-ever non-crossword sighting of ADIT, and explains when you'd use one.

IRON ORE was a gimme for this Canadian of a certain age. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald spent a long time on the charts up here. Since nobody else has linked to it yet, allow me. (I read once that the song was an album track that happened to catch on; it was never intended as a single. If it had been, Lightfoot said, he'd have made it shorter. I'm glad he didn't.)

It's most appropriate that IRON ORE crosses HARD ROCK MYNA. I also liked the TIN CAN x OIL PAN cross, for some reason.

I also had DUD for DOG. And I resisted KATYDID for the longest time, because I thought that word meant these. But they're caryatids.

@Larry S: HORATIO ALGA = "Writer about pond scum that makes good?"

ddbmc said...

Always interesting to see where everyone's sticking "squares" were. Mine were in the NW, as I kept seeing the arm of Cape Cod or the drink called "CAPE COD." The abode finally dawned, after I realized F EQUIVALENT was not a blue word, but a blue note relative....

A CAPE COD or a Margarita could put me in a BEACH COMA, sunning and seaside. SURFING-induced torpor? I could never imagine that, especially after surfer son "hit the lip and boosted major air!" No torpor or LASSITUDE, there. More like ATTITUDE and RUSH. (Riptionary.com)

Thanks, @Tuttle, for the MST3K reference. Great mindworm to chortle and cackle ova...penguin of giddyness....robin of rectitude, MYNA of morosity.


Thanks Eric
I always enjoy reading your very informative comments. Today I especially liked learning about HARD-ROCK MINING and the clip on the Edmund Fitzgerld. Just a few months ago I was in a boat on Lake Superior when a huge huge iron-ore ship passed us by. Of course the Gordon Lightfoot song went through my mind and I recalled the news back in 1975 about that disaster.

v-man said...

I also thought this was an easy solve for a Friday puzzle only struggled with katydid for a short while. A little weak in the word equation of Papa equals csar but just really nitpicking perhaps the clue could have been Drug Daddy instead.It's easy to play Monday Morning quarterback when your not the one in the game.

CrazyCatLady said...

The Cowboy Junkies song "Mining for Gold" was the first thought I had also at HARD ROCK MNYNA/miner. Only time I've heard that term, I think.

I really wanted dormer for 1A Cape Cod feature, but just couldn't smoosh it in. I guess GABLE works. Liked BEDSIDE MANNA and BEACH COMA. Favorite clue/answer One shooting the bull/VET. Favorite words - ENNUI (great clip), KATYDID and SMIDGEN. Worst - NLER and ECUA.

Crosswordese 101 triumph - remembering RARA

Over the Holidays I was chatting with a guy at a party who works out at the same gym as PIA Zadora. I remarked that she always looked to me as if she had a really big head. He was able to confirm this as fact. Has anyone else ever noticed that?

jainey said...

Re: 28 across - Pill papa. I thought it was Pill Popper instead of a drug csar.

badrog said...

Despite the iffi-ness of some of the terms and usage as mentioned above, I enjoyd this theme because it was based more on pronunciation similarities (and differences?) than on letter substitution.

Especially enjoyed SALTPITA because with Sailor in the clue, it reminded me that, way back in the day, we never knew for sure whether or not there was saltpeter in the Navy gravy (or SOS).

Avg Joe said...

After having the K's retained then later distributed earlier this week I can't help but wonder about the leftovers from this puzzle.

Or put another way, a friend once explained that Bostonians really aren't averse to R's. They just redistribute them. They mainly use them up in their "idears".

Fowler said...

The phrase I thought we were to mine is HARD ROCK CAFE. I spent an inordinate amount of time on that one error and only tipped to the true answer when I changed wrong "KATADID" to "KATYDID."

Anonymous said...

Hard Rock mining means drill and blast, usually for gold.


twg said...

Liked the theme and the fill, also finished up in the NE. Methinks you may be *just* a tad critical in your writeup?

Wow, "pram" clued you in that it would be a British word for 71A? What a profound comment.

BEDSIDEMANNA and BEACHCOMA were awesome. As a chemist, I enjoyed seeing two of the four states of matter in the grid (couldn't we get SOLID and LIQUID in there somewhere?)


John Wolfenden said...

Holy moly, CCL, you're right. Pia Zadora's head is massive. And when you combine it with big hair, she's a walking Photoshop job gone awry.

mac said...

I found this hard for the LAT, but that is ok. Just never felt really excited about this one. Too late and too tired and too full. Budakan this evening, three birthdays to celebrate.

Anonymous said...

The term hard rock miner came to me easily as I learned it from a fascinating book 'The Making of a Hard Rock Miner' by Stephen Voynick which I read as a teenager. Any non-fiction book which kept my attention at that age has to be excellent.
I enjoyed the theme answers, especially hardrockmyna, as I had a mental picture of a bird down in a copper mine, whacking its bill against the rock face.
I, too, am one of those who never wants to see NLER or ALER again in a puzzle again.