01.03 Mon

January 3, 2011
Victor Barocas

Theme: It's a Doggy Dog World — Theme answers begin with colors that can describe Labrador retrievers.

Theme answers:
  • 17A/25A: WWI U.S. Army command nickname (BLACK JACK / PERSHING).
  • 32A: Custard-filled pastry (CHOCOLATE ECLAIR).
  • 41A: Flip side of "Eleanor Rigby" (YELLOW SUBMARINE).
  • 50A/64A: Breed whose common colors begin 17-, 32- and 41-Across (LABRADOR / RETRIEVER).
Good morning, everyone, and happy Monday to you. Unless we get some kind of snowstorm in the next few days, this will be my first full week of work at my new job. I started on a Thursday and then the next two weeks were Christmas and New Year's — so I've really been able to ease into it. Tomorrow it's back to the Rat Race! (I'm totally loving my job, though, so it's all good.)

This week we're starting off with an easy breezy puzzle. I'm not super excited about the theme, but that's probably just because I'm not a dog person. Also it's Monday and sometimes it's hard to get excited about Mondays. But there's clearly nothing wrong with it, and there's some awfully good stuff in the fill like ASCETIC and RED EYE, along with ARBITER and REPLETE, which really sound like high-falutin' words, don't they? The grid's got pretty much exactly the amount of crosswordese that's acceptable on a Monday and the cluing is straightforward. Overall, a solid Monday outing that I'm pretty sure I won't rant about.

Have you all heard about the controversy about elementary school textbooks going on here in Virginia? It's pretty interesting. (Yes, this is a tangent. It was General PERSHING that brought me here.) Apparently, a professor at William & Mary took the time to actually read a series of textbooks used in Virginia elementary schools and found several glaring errors along with some what you might politely call forgiving views of the Civil War, vis-à-vis slavery. The error that first stood out to the professor was a sentence explaining that "thousands of Southern blacks fought in the Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson." Asked for the source of that information, the author said she found it on the Internet. Well then! Anyway, it's pretty interesting and it is, in fact, the textbook that PuzzleDaughter is studying right now, which I find a little disturbing.

  • 9A: Game with checks (CHESS). I kept thinking tic-tac-toe, but knew that wasn't right.
  • 40A: Sch. WNW of Topeka (KSU). Beak 'em, Hawks! (Or is that the other Kansas school? Can't say I pay much attention to Kansas.)
  • 5D: Decorate with gems (BEJEWEL). I was finally able to kick my Bejeweled Blitz habit, but in order to do it I had to pick up a new game called Marple, which is totally awesome. And addictive.
  • 26D: "2001" computer (HAL). Would you like to play a game? Oh crap. I think that's the other evil movie computer. I'm totally off today.
  • 30D: Joplin works (RAGS). Okay, this one I know for sure is Scott and not Janis.
  • 36D: "Winning __ everything" (ISN'T). It's the only thing! Second place is first loser! There's no I in "team," but there are three U's in "shut the f*** up!" Not sure exactly what came over me there. I apologize.
  • 61D: Pâté de foie __ (GRAS). I don't really know what this is. I mean, I'm pretty sure I've been told what it is but I haven't been able to retain that knowledge. I'm pretty sure it's something that I have absolutely no interest in eating.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 1A: Nick and Nora Charles's dog (ASTA).
  • 19A: Greek market (AGORA).
  • 67A: First African-American selected for a U.S. Davis Cup team (ASHE).
  • 6D: Eggs, biologically (OVA).
  • 28D: Syngman of Korea (RHEE).
  • 33D: Sigma follower (TAU).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 5A: When repeated, island near Tahiti (BORA); 14A: Disapproving fans' chorus (BOOS); 15A: Tied, as a game (EVEN); 16A: Line with many stops (LOCAL); 20A: Overnight flight (RED EYE); 21A: Sad interjection (ALAS); 23A: PC linking system (LAN); 24A: Haul to the shop (TOW); 31A: Argentina aunt (TIA); 38A: Chop (HEW); 39A: Gift of the garrulous (GAB); 48A: Three, in Asti (TRE); 49A: Most Chaplin films (SILENTS); 55A: Chill in the air (NIP); 56A: Stat for Koufax (ERA); 57A: Opposite of "yup" ("NOPE"); 58A: Rectangular (OBLONG); 62A: Solzhenitsyn subject (GULAG); 66A: Extremely overweight (OBESE); 68A: Trillion: Pref. (TERA-); 69A: Indian wraps (SARIS); 70A: Attention to "pay" (HEED); 71A: Brings to a close (ENDS); 1D: This ans. is one (ABBR.); 2D: Foot bottom (SOLE); 3D: Tadpole, grown up (TOAD); 4D: One leading a spartan lifestyle (ASCETIC); 7D: Summary (RECAP); 8D: A bobby sock is often folded down to it (ANKLE); 9D: Like the most elegant old autos (CLASSIC); 10D: Monopolize (HOG); 11D: Dangerous bacteria (ECOLI); 12D: Plastic wrap brand (SARAN); 13D: Street language, often (SLANG); 18D: Environmental protocol city (KYOTO); 22D: Commedia dell'__ (ARTE); 27D: In need of a massage (ACHY); 29D: Knock down some pins (BOWL); 34D: Recedes to the sea (EBBS); 35D: Related (AKIN); 37D: Regrets (RUES); 42D: P.O. box item (LTR.); 43D: Florida crops (ORANGES); 44D: Shared wedding vow response (WE DO); 45D: Studied secondarily, with "in" (MINORED); 46D: Perp-to-cop story (ALIBI); 47D: Abundantly filled (with) (REPLETE); 50D: Kids' blocks (LEGOS); 51D: Curaçao neighbor (ARUBA); 52D: Hay bundler (BALER); 53D: Daytime TV mogul (OPRAH); 54D: Pee Wee of the Dodgers (REESE); 59D: Pizzeria fixture (OVEN); 60D: Teen comedy stereotype (NERD); 63D: "Just __ thought!" (AS I); 65D: Common article (THE).


Avg Joe said...

Welcome back PG. I hope the job goes well. Non Carborundum Illegitimi.

Agree, it was a smooth sailing puzzle. Enjoyable, but not taxing.

The Kansas schools/names are KU Jayhawks and the KSU Mildcats. As everyone knows, there's been a great deal of sports rivalry between Nebraska and Oklahoma over the years. But by far the worst thing between the two states is Kansas. :-)

Arthur said...

1: If BEQ had written/edited this one, 5D would have started with a V, and been been 8 letters.
2: Yup, that's what they did in the pre Civil War south, take large groups of slaves and give them guns, then train them to use them. Makes sense to me, as there couln't be any forseable unintended consequence there. How did this textbook handle Jefferson? Did they deny that he was one of the Founding Fathers, as did Texas, just because he believed, and coined the term, separation of Church and State? Must have been tricky in Virginia.

I liked this one more than you seemed to, as the list of variants on Labradors was exhaustive, and the phrases were two or three notches above the trivial, which is more than I expect from a Monday.

SethG said...

This was super-easy, but nicely done. Which is perfect for a Monday.

cwstewart2 said...

Welcome back PG! I really liked this puzzle and it seemed perfect for a Monday. Thanks Victor!


I started out with ASTA and was disappointed... ready to say some BOOs, but as I went on I found this puzzle to be quite delightful. Dog person here and what better breed to put in a puzzle than a LABRADOR! Then when I got down to CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS (Yum!) and YELLOW SUBMARINE, I was convinced that I was going to love this puzzle. I'm not sure if I've ever solved a Victor Barocas puzzle before (name not familiar to me), but now I'm a sure fan.

Nice fill words like: ASCETIC, REPLETE, GULAG, and BEJEWEL.

Here's a photo of what real CLASSIC cars look like.

When my older son (the CSO trumpeter) was 12 years old he made a bundle of money playing Scott Joplin RAGS at kids' birthday parties. He memorized all of them. This is when we realized that he was no ordinary child... he went on to become a full professor at KSU, then on to become a White House musician, and now he's 2nd trumpet in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Please excuse my button-popping here.

I hope in 2011 we get more of these kind of Monday puzzles from the LAT.

Sfingi said...

Easy and cute - as is NYT today; but, with the additional joy of LABs.
Sweetest dog in God's world.

BLACKJACK could have been in the NYT puzzle, today.

As I may have said before, my sister was constantly teased about her name - Dedree Drees - not because it was so ethnicky, but because it sounded like PeeWee Reese. I got the "Me Tarzan, you Jane," treatment. Born too soon.

Syngman RHEE, another name from my past and almost forgot.

Don't think about how pate de foie gras is produced. As we use to say in Philosophy class, don't think about a pink elephant.

Van55 said...

@sfingi -- as sweet as labs are, if you had met a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, you'd demote labs to second on the "sweetest dog in God's world" top ten.

Van55 said...

Oh crap, I forgot to write anything about today's puzzle, which I thought was very good, indeed, for a monday.


There's only one dog breed that's sweeter than a LABRADOR, and that's a Newfoundland.
My sweet Bjorn (aka Newton) was an offspring from one of the Kennedy family's Newfoundlands and he was a real charmer. He was the runt of the litter and so he only got to 120#. Wish I still had him!

Al said...

@PG, no "i" in team? You're not looking closely enough...

KJGooster said...

Nice "Modern Family" reference in your title, PG. BTW, if you haven't seen this show you should really give it a look.

I very much liked this Monday effort. 5 theme answers, a pair of 15s, and not much crosswordese. And thankfully no "Golden" lab, since there's no such thing, despite what many people call them. Well, OK, there is, but not a recognized breed. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

C said...

Good puzzle for a Monday. BORA was a bittersweet answer, I am ready to go back and chill in the bungalow.

CrazyCatLady said...

Nice Monday offering with some interesting fill. I love Labs so the theme was AOK with me. My sweetest dog ever has been my wire hair fox terrier, the ASTA breed. She loves to snuggle, fetch and is always jolly. Sometimes she gets a little too energetic which has earned her the nickname "Chaos."

Foie GRAS means fat liver. We've had the discussion here before about the method used to create it. My foodie son sent me this article about a farm in the Hudson River Valley that produces "ethical" foie GRAS. It includes a video of the ducks being fed.
Foie Gras

Dashiell said...

People. for the love of god, ASTA was a Schnauzer, there was only one 'the thin man', and he was a murder victim in the one and only "The Thin Man" book.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Dash - You are absolutely right. The ASTA in "The Thin Man" movie was a wire named Skippy. The original ASTA in the book was a Schnauzer -another discussion we've had here before, I think.

Movie Asta

Dashiell said...

@CCL - I know, but when a movie adaptation differs from the original writing, the movie is wrong, period. I, and I alone, own Nick, Nora, Asta and Mr Wynant. I'd consider suit, but well, I'm dead. I do know of lawyers to whom that wouldn't be a problem, but what's the point?

John Wolfenden said...

PG, I too would be disturbed if my daughters were studying a textbook which contained bits of revisionist history. My two favorite parts of this controversy:

(1) The Virginia Board of Education's response was to announce that they had hired "a historian" to fact-check the book and make corrections. God forbid they should hire a historian to write it in the first place.

(2) When asked what her sources were for the inaccurate facts presented in the textbook, the author's response was "The Internet." Because everything on the Internet is true.

Avg Joe said...

I have to step into the dog conversation here. The BEST dog in the world is a Golden Retriever. Of course I only say that cuz I had one for 13 1/2 years, but I'm convinced it's true. Somewhere on the top ten list also resides the Rottweiler. We have a step Rott that our son bequeathed to us after his lease ran out and he couldn't find a new place that would accept him (familiar story to many, I'm sure). It wouldn't be my first choice in a dog due solely to bad rep, but we've had him 6 1/2 years and he's a pretty damned good dog. I wouldn't trade him for anything.

As for the history discussion, my captcha says it best. It's BUYTRAP. Hey, they only got one letter wrong.

Anonymous said...

No, my dog's breed is best.

imsdave said...

Super Monday! My sister-in-law had a black lab named Bebop (frequent crosswordese). Most human dog I've ever known. Lived to 17! God rest her soul.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Avg Joe I agree with you about Goldens. We had one for 12 years. She was a sweetheart. I only wish they had a longer life span. @Van I think the Cavalier King Charles spaniels are adorable too. I've only known one dog in my life that I didn't like. Unfortunately it belonged to my father-in-law.

@Dash It's sad that films based on novels/books almost always disappoint. You're not the first author dead or alive to be ticked off.

CrazyCatLady said...

This is my pup's favorite video. It's an adorable must see video, if you like dogs.
Wire Fox Terrier in France

Oops over my limit.

Avg Joe said...

I hope this isn't too maudlin, but I went to a funeral today. A really neat guy who lived life on his own terms, but never did disservice to his fellow man. This song, Keep Me In Your Heart, by Warren Zevon was played during the service.


The final song during recession was Magic Carpet Ride. Cool dude. I'll miss him a lot.

BTW, I do wish someone would educate me on how to embed these links. I'm reasonably net savvy, but I can't quite figure this out.

backbiter said...

I absolutely love foie gras and never had any problems with how it's produced. This goes for veal and other such animals. If it's delicious I pretty much don't care. Interesting video CCL.

Perfectly fine Monday puzzle, although I'm not sure I like Blackjack and Pershing separated like that. Persing really didn't have anything to do with the theme on it's own, but I guess it was done Labrador and Retriever was separated also.

Finished this puzzle 10 minutes before going into work. My manager informed me he was going on a business lunch at the other end of town near Kalupa's Bakery. I gave him some money. "You can get anything you want if you bring me back a chocolate eclair." Yep, I had been thinking about it ever since I entered it into the grid. And he did bring me one, and bought a few pralines for himself, gave me my money back and sait it was on him. Nice! I should have asked him to bring back some duck or goose liver. LOL.


Helpful Guy said...

@Avg Joe - When in doubt about things such as how to embed links, just trust the handy FAQ button on the top of the blog. It has all the answers you'll need, about the embed issue, or any other quandry live may place in your path.

mac said...

Nice Monday puzzle, with, as mentioned, some really good words.

I would be really bothered if my child were studying a book with this sort of twisted nonsense in it!

@CCL: I want that French dog's life!


Margaret said...

I'm only getting to the puzzle and the blog late this evening, so maybe no one will see this comment, but... I would have sworn we had the various kinds of labs as a theme previously. Have I simply been puzzling too much and I dreamed it?

Hmm, my captcha is REDIM -- makes me think of the movie Gaslight -- you people are all trying to make me think I'm crazy, aren't you? Aside from all that, I thought it was a smooth enjoyable Monday puzzle.