01.10 Mon

January 10, 2011
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski

Theme: Extra! Extra! — Theme answers start with the words "Read all about it."

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Do some palmistry (READ ONE'S FORTUNE).
  • 26A: Groundbreaking 1970s sitcom (ALL IN THE FAMILY).
  • 47A: Link on a writer's site (ABOUT THE AUTHOR).
  • 61A: Hilly Clinton bestseller (IT TAKES A VILLAGE).
  • 68A: When repeated, start of an old shout that ends with the starts of 17-, 26-, 47- and 61-Across (EXTRA).
First of all I want to say: SMERSH. I just really felt like that needed to be said right up front this morning. SMERSH. Maybe several times. SMERSH SMERSH SMERSH. I've never read any James Bond novels and I've never been a big fan of the movies either, so SMERSH was a complete mystery to me. Got it entirely through crosses, at which point I marveled "Where have you been all my life?" I mean, I don't care who ya are, that's one awesome word right there. SMERSH. Welcome to my vocabulary, SMERSH.

For some reason, the LA Times archive on cruciverb.com hasn't been updated yet, so I had to solve on the applet this morning, which is no fun. I will say this for the LA Times's applet: it seems to be more user-friendly than the applet on the NY Times's site. Of course, that's not saying much. I can't figure out why there isn't a decent applet out there yet. What year is it again? Let's just talk about the puzzle before I get myself all worked up.

Fun theme today. Using the applet distracted me, so I wasn't able to pay attention to it as I was solving, which is kind of a bummer. I also found myself a little distracted by SMERSH (in case you hadn't noticed) but that's not the theme's fault. I especially like the entry ABOUT THE AUTHOR — a phrase that looks like a partial, but that you've actually seen a million times if you read at all. And any reference to ALL IN THE FAMILY is always good. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this to you before, but when I used to watch the show, I was a kid in Fargo, North Dakota, which means I basically had no idea what they were talking about half the time. When I got a little older and saw a little more of the world it all came together for me and I was like "Ohhhh yeeeah … that's funny."

  • 22A: Fine distinction (NICETY). I tried "nuance" first.
  • 23A: Tavern tussle (MELEE). I tried "brawl" first. (I don't usually have this much trouble on a Monday!)
  • 25A: Delaware senator who sponsored IRA legislation (ROTH). Did you remember he was from Delaware? Me neither.
  • 38A: "Midnight Cowboy" hustler Rizzo (RATSO). And here's our friend RATSO again.
  • 44A: Soviet anti-spy group in some James Bond novels (SMERSH). SMERSH!
  • 10D: Armstrong's nickname (SATCHMO). I'm all "Neil Armstrong had a nickname? What was it, like … Space Boy?"
  • 28A: In poor taste (TRASHY).

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 20A: Giant legend Mel (OTT).
  • 7D: Condé ___ Publications (NAST)
  • 11D: Turn on an axis (SLUE).
  • 35D: Andean stew veggie (OCA).
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Everything Else — 1A: Make mention of (CITE); 5A: Bamboo lover (PANDA); 10A: Army NCO (SSGT); 14A: Eight, in Essen (ACHT); 15A: Look forward to (AWAIT); 16A: Tiger or Twin, briefly (AL'ER); 21A: Chick's digs (NEST); 33A: Excessively ornate (FLORID); 34A: Sensitive skin spots (SORES); 35A: Not operating (OFF); 40A: __ Kan: Alpo alternative (KAL); 41A: Welsh dog (CORGI); 51A: "__, old chap!" (I SAY); 52A: Laura's cry on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (OH ROB); 54A: Small gun (PISTOL); 57A: Western tie (BOLO); 60A: Stag party attendee (GUY); 64A: One who might 17-Across (SEER); 65A: Begat (SIRED); 66A: Top draft status (ONE-A); 67A: Music boosters (AMPS); 69A: Cold War initials (USSR); 1D: Billiards bounce (CAROM); 2D: Summer refresher (ICE TEA); 3D: "__ be the day!" (THAT'LL); 4D: LAX datum (ETD); 5D: Window section (PANE); 6D: Leaves speechless (AWES); 8D: "What's the __?" (DIF); 9D: Numerous (A TON OF); 12D: Lady's partner (GENT); 13D: Low card (TREY); 18D: NBC correspondent Roger (O'NEIL); 19D: Hayworth and Moreno (RITAS); 24D: Wrapper for Santa (ELF); 25D: Obstacle for Moses (RED SEA); 27D: Hide-hair link (NOR); 29D: Blackjack request (HIT ME); 30D: Aggravate (IRK); 31D: Grassy expanse (LEA); 32D: French designer's monogram (YSL); 36D: Watch chain (FOB); 37D: To's opposite (FRO); 39D: Tulsa sch. named for a televangelist (ORU); 42D: Rock instruments (GUITARS); 43D: "Not to worry" ("IT'S OK"); 45D: Seat that often swivels (STOOL); 46D: 1968 loser to RMN (HHH); 48D: "Honor Thy Father" author Gay (TALESE); 49D: Instruments with many pedals (ORGANS); 50D: Cheek colorers (ROUGES); 53D: How some learn music (BY EAR); 54D: Tuscany tower site (PISA); 55D: Agenda unit (ITEM); 56D: Twelve-__ program (STEP); 57D: Homer's son (BART); 58D: In excess of (OVER); 59D: "__ Rose": "The Music Man" song (LIDA); 62D: Common dinner hour (SIX); 63D: Comic Costello (LOU).



Cute theme, but it seems like there was an awful lot of crosswordese and cheap pluralization to get there.
I agree that SMERSH popped out... it made my day!

Other great words: FLORID, TRASHY, SATCHMO, RATSO, and of course I liked ORGANS.

Stinky words: ETD, ALER, A TON OF, ICE TEA, and DIF.

When I got to 3D (THAT'LL), all I could think of was Buddy Holly and I just couldn't get that tune out of my head... "THAT'LL Be the Day".

Sfingi said...

What is ALER? Some sort of (yuck) sports?

Had sCoTch before ICETEA. What do I know?
Expected chick's digs would be some some of hippy pad, but the k indicated a real bird.

Blah puzzle.

Eric said...

Nothing to dislike about this easy, fun puzzle. OK theme (but a great reveal), some interesting fill, not a whole lot of crosswordese.

SMERSH made the puzzle for me! It was a gimme, after a second or three to dredge it up; I read a lot of the Bond books in my teens. But I only discovered just now that it was based on a real organization. СМЕРШ was Soviet army counter-intelligence. It's an acronym for "Death to Spies". It was SMERSH who were tasked with finding Hitler, and who did indeed find and identify his and Eva Braun's bodies in Berlin at the end of the war. Who knew?

Cool to have USSR in there along with it. I didn't even see that during the solve, lurking down there in the SE -- got it all from crosses. It should have been in the NE, up where SSGT is :-)

"THAT'LL Be the Day" was another gimme. So, @JNH, what's wrong with having a Buddy Holly song stuck in your head? :-) Wow, I finally made the connection to "... singin' 'this'll be the day that I die'" in "American Pie". Only took me 38 years. D'oh!

I had BRAWL for MELEE too. And ROCOCO for FLORID. I don't think of FLORID as ornate; I think of it as red-faced.

"Who is Number One?"
"You are Number SIX."

Van55 said...

Let's just leave it at "I liked it" today. I liked it.

Avg Joe said...

I liked it too. Liked Smersh, liked Oh Rob!, liked the theme taking a break from the last word to the first and liked the Jerry Jeff clip.

ddbmc said...

OH, ROB!(That earworm is stuck in my head. Probably for the rest of the day!)

@Sfingi-ALER is:AMERICAN LEAGUER-Mr. V always has at least one baseball reference in his cw's.

@PG, loved SMERSH, too! Came with the crosses, as I had no recollection of this.

Pix of David Lee Roth still reminds me I preferred him in Van Halen. Sammy was ok. Once I got the DELAWARE SENATOR with the crosses, ROTH IRA popped into my brain...

@Eric, enjoyed your link!

Nice picture of Dan Brown!

Thoughts go out to the AZ shooting victims and their families.

Sfingi said...

@ddbmc - Thanx. I wonder how much more I pay for cable because of sports - or do they pay for the good stuff? Has a study been done? I know I can't get a package w/o the stuff.

@Eric - agree on FLORID. Also, aggravate is not irritate, but I got both answers anyway.

Rex Parker said...

Not as thrilled as others. I never am with this type of theme (where a phrase is spelled out by first words, esp. ones where the possibilities for theme answers seem massive). Reveal would have been better as full EXTRAEXTRA. READ ONE'S FORTUNE, while accurate enough, isn't nearly as snappy as the others. Fill is just fine.

Anonymous said...

I really can't stand the corruption of "iceD tea." Ice-T is a rapper.


C said...

I liked this puzzle. I don't normally expect much on Monday but today was good, usual clues with different answers, ATONOF as an example. I liked that answer for some reason.

SethG said...

Whose fortune? One's fortune. And a seer is one, too, and a status is one A. SMERSH with no crosses.

Anonymous said...

I thought the 2 was the low card not the 3. That and slue made the NE tough for me.

Mokus said...

PG, I was all "Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy" which I listened to in the 1940s. Didn't fit. Then Lance Armstrong? Neil? Louis?
Ice tea, Iced tea. Arnold Palmer. I like them all.
Wanted KOALA before PANDA. Many of you would enjoy the book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" (why commas really do make a difference). Fascinating & humorous.

I would love to know why words like RATSO and SATCHMO appear twice in the same month. With all the words in all the languages to choose from?

Nice puzzle w/ minor exceptions duly noted already.

Chet said...

@Mokus - Good question re RATSO and SATCHMO, but another good question is where are you, and why aren't you complaining about their absence, when they don't appear for years?

Sfingi said...

@Mokus - the crossword makers really do all live together, centrally located in IA. On the top floor of the Cedar Rapids Museum.
Koalas and PANDAs have being roly-poly cute in common. Otherwise, PANDAs are placential and Koalas are marsupials. They both limit their diets to one leaf, basically. PANDAs like bamboo and Koalas like eucalyptus.

And this puzzle has many problems with grammar.

OMG - 3 and out!

Captcha - soratic - they forgot the C.

CrazyCatLady said...

Better than the average Monday. Had some of the same problems that others did such as brawl for MELEE and thinking Neil Armstrong instead of SATCHMO. Had spin before SLUE and it took me a while to think of ALER so that corner was a mess for a while. Thanks for the Jerry Jeff Walker.

Nighthawk said...

@Eric - Cool stuff about SMERSH and great Prisoner clip.

Another fun write-up @PG. SMERSH!
Great Jerry Jeff clip.
And I liked NAST and TRASHY together.

NE hung me up with SLUE instead of Spin and the tasty KAL Kan, which I had only heard of somewhere in the dim past. My Lab has been on Eukanuba (why don't we see that vowel loaded brand instead of the more pedestian IAMS more often in CrossWorld?) Lamb and Rice since she was a pup.

David Lee drafting tax codes. Now that's a scary thought.

Snow Day! SMERSH.

mac said...

Pretty snappy puzzle, although the theme was a little unexciting.

I needed all the crosses for smersh, but it is a great word! I remember that "oh Rob" also.

John Wolfenden said...

Wow, if the difficulty level actually goes up every day this week I'm not even going to try Saturday's puzzle. This was a Tuesday at least.

I'd never heard of SLUE but apparently it's Crosswordese. From the online definitions I've found it's clued incorrectly...something swerving or veering is different from turning on its axis. I know, in order for something to veer it has to turn, but it just seemed like this was clued to mislead you into thinking SPIN.

I loved Ian Fleming when I was a kid and read all the Bond books, but even as a 12-year old I remember thinking S.M.E.R.S.H. was kind of a dumb acronym.

Avg Joe said...

I didn't even think about it while solving, but with all the discussion that SLUE is getting today, THIS deserves a look. :-)

mac said...

Thanks, Avg Joe, that was exciting!

Mokus said...

@Sfingi: thank you for the clarification on pandas & koalas. Good to know, teach!
@Kent: only been doing CWPs since early last year so can't say what has been overlooked in the past. I can't imagine why I would want to complain even if I did.

Anonymous said...

I knew who would win.

Avg Joe said...

@Anon 2:18..LOL, I know who will win the game of the Century....the 20th Century:-)

Go Ducks!

NJ Irish said...

Clever puzzle to me. Had spin before slue like many others.
@jnh I too love organs. Have you seen this clip on YouTube?
Sorry I don't know how to link it so please copy and paste you won't be disppointed. It's the organ at the old Wanamakers in Philly complete with a Random Act of Culture. Enjoy!

mac said...

Go Ducks! Just because my sister in Oregon told me so.

CrazyCatLady said...

@NJ Irish OMG! That was AWESome. When I was a child, every Christmas, my mom and I would take the train into Philly and meet my dad who had an office in the PSFS building. We would go to Wanamaker's to see the tree and lights and have lunch in the Crystal Tea Room. Then I would get to visit with Santa. I forgot about that huge bronze eagle in the main lobby. Thanks for the great memory and the random Handel.

CrazyCatLady said...

Oh yeah. Go Ducks!

NJ Irish said...

@ccl Glad you enjoyed it. It made the rounds over Christmas and I sent it to everyone I know. Happy to share it here. Don't you wish you had been there, I do.

I hope @jnh sees it.

Eric said...

@JW: Not Fleming's fault. I guess SMERSH sounds more in-the-language in Russian -- go figure! The full name is "СМЕРть Шпионам", which is "SMERt' SHpionam". You can see "spy" in there, and even "death" if you squint hard enough :-) In English though, yeah, it's a pretty odd word. Now, Monty Python would say it's a perfect name, because they smersh their enemies to tiny bits -- except for good old 007, of course.

@NJ Irish: Very cool! What first struck me was that they were all just standing around in street clothes, not dolled up like choirs usually are. Of course, to pull off a flashmob you have to blend in, but still, I got a kick out of it.

mac said...

This country could use a lot more random acts of culture...

Anonymous said...

I was puzzled by "aler" and forgot slue has the meaning of turn on axis. Everything else came quickly.


NJ Irish
Thank you for that gloriously awesome vid clip. I said in my earlier comment that that Buddy Holly clip made my day. Well this totally tops everything I've seen in quite a while. I remember years ago going to Wanamaker's to see and hear the world's largest pipe organ... of course I was awe-struck by its collosal sound and I always remember that when it started to play, all the shoppers just stopped and plopped down on the floor for a wonderful impromptu concert. What a great memory. But then you add all those glorious voices of the Opera Chorus and its pure heaven. I'm a member of three different pipe organ societies in the Chicago area, so hearing this was a very special treat for me. Thank you so much1 Now I'm going to forward the link to all my theatre organ buddies.

I would just like to say how much I appreciate all you commenters. I learn so much and get a chuckle from some of the funny things that are said here. I certainly enjoy Puzzlegirl's writeup, but you all are like frosting on the cake.
Thank you all for being here!

And as for you newbies... just chime in here. You can't say anything dumb because we've all done plenty of that already.

For those of you who have said "how do you post a comment with an embedded link." Here's how:
Read Puzzlegirl's second Q&A in her FAQ section. To get there just click on the word FAQ in the black bar at the top of the blog.
Also take note of the CW101 right next to it.

Eric said...

I've just gotta say: the world's largest pipe organ, in a department store? That's just wrong!

Capcha: fearking. A euphemism? Or that DESPOT from yesterday's puzzle?

NJ Irish said...

@jnh So pleased you enjoyed the clip. I was hoping you'd stop by here one more time today.

Very happy it brought back fond memories for you and CCL.

Thanks for the info about embedded links, I'll give it a try.


Jeff said...

Liked it! Think I would have preferred if EXTRA was in the puzzle twice though. Hmm. How could that be done elegantly?