01.06 Thu

January 6, 2011
Gary J. Whitehead

Theme: Of all the …. — Theme answers end with a word that can be a synonym for "nerve."

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Marinara, for one (TOMATO SAUCE).
  • 28A: Pentagon bigwigs (MILITARY BRASS).
  • 46A: Not serious (TONGUE-IN-CHEEK).
  • 60A: Part of an axon (and what 17-, 28- and 46-Across each has?) (NERVE ENDING).
I hate to say it, but I just can't love this puzzle. Mostly because the theme really doesn't do it for me and because of the huge amount of crosswordese. As for the theme, I get how SAUCE, BRASS and CHEEK can mean NERVE, but in two of the three cases I'm distracted by how they're so often used as adjectives (saucy and cheeky) and not as nouns. Also, and this might just be me, I'm not sure I've ever seen the word BRASS used in this way — not even as an adjective. Add the science-y reveal and what you've got is a theme that leaves me cold. I will say this, though — I can see where the theme phrases could have been way more boring than they are, so that's a plus. I don't think I can say anything nice about the crosswordese, though. There's just too much of it. On a Thursday! The pay-off for all that crosswordese is a few pretty cool entries (I'm looking at you, GO AWOL and SIXTH SENSE) and a definite Scrabbly lean, but it's just not enough to tip the scale for me. I'll be interested to hear your take on it.

  • 7A: They have guards on both sides of them: Abbr. (CTRS.). Football!
  • 25A: Moor (HEATH). This clue/answer pair gave me a double whammy of literature associations: "Moor" makes me think of Othello, and HEATH makes me think of "Wuthering Heights."
  • 41A: Reliant Stadium NFL team (TEXANS). I can't keep track of the stadium names. Part of it is that I really just don't want to. The corporate stadium names are just terrible and are far too silly to actually say. Ugh.
  • 53A: Eldest Younger gang member (COLE). I do not know what this means.
  • 7D: Winter Palace figure (CZAR). Remember when I said "Sometimes it's spelled CZARS, but in crossword puzzles it's almost five times likelier to be spelled TSARS, so that's my default"? Yeah, that didn't help me today.
  • 11D: Intuition (SIXTH SENSE). I'd like to see this movie again. It's been a long time. Speaking of old movies, has anybody seen the new "Wall Street" movie? (I realize it's not that new any more.) It looks like it should be pretty good.
  • 18D: Exotic honeymoon, perhaps (SAFARI). Can't say I've ever heard of anyone going on a SAFARI for their honeymoon. Sounds kinda cool though.
  • 30D: "Monster" (2003) co-star (RICCI). I struggled and struggled to remember Charlize Theron and then found she wasn't the right answer. Hate when that happens.
  • 37D: What the mouse did clockwise? (RAN UP). This is the awesomest thing in the puzzle. Great, great clue.
  • 44D: Collision preceder (SCREECH).
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 16A: Worldwide workers' gp. (ILO).
  • 22A: The gamut (A TO Z).
  • 23A: __ II, king who founded Borg (now Sarpsborg) (OLAF).
  • 36A: Cheri who played Gail Hailstorm in "Scary Movie" (OTERI).
  • 45A: French possessive (SES).
  • 66A: One of a jazz duo? (ZEE).
  • 7D: Winter Palace figure (CZAR).
  • 9D: "One Thousand and One Nights" bird (ROC).
  • 12D: Spread on the table (OLEO).
  • 22D: Asteroids maker (ATARI).
  • 58D: Curved molding (OGEE).
  • 61D: "Strange Magic" band (ELO).
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Everything Else — 1A: Techie talk, e.g. (JARGON); 11A: Roman sun god (SOL); 14A: Nine follower? (ONE ONE); 15A: Menageries (ZOOS); 19A: Marked, in a way (X'ED); 20A: Winter coat (SNOW); 21A: Pusher pursuer (NARC); 32A: Swindle (CON); 33A: Philip __: 16th-century Italian saint (NERI); 34A: Only just (BARELY); 38A: First person in Berlin? (ICH); 40A: Yearned (PINED); 43A: Latin quarters? (CASA); 49A: Artful dodges (RUSES); 50A: Mention with an ulterior motive (DROP); 51A: Finish shooting (WRAP); 55A: Louisville's river (OHIO); 59A: Air base? (HUB); 63A: Feverish, say (ILL); 64A: Natural balm (ALOE); 65A: Browbeat (COERCE); 67A: It's often seen under a cap (GOWN); 68A: Swindle (HUSTLE); 1D: Scribbles (JOTS); 2D: Soon, poetically (ANON); 3D: San __ (REMO); 4D: Commit a service infraction (GO AWOL); 5D: Toronto's prov. (ONT.); 6D: Nursery arrival (NEONATE); 7D: Winter Palace figure (CZAR); 8D: Sensitive (TOUCHY); 10D: GPS heading (SSE); 13D: One of Poland's three most populous cities (LODZ); 24D: Winter coat features (LININGS); 26D: Withdraw (EBB); 27D: Wyoming tribe (ARAPAHO); 28D: Choral piece (MOTET); 29D: Unyielding (INEXORABLE); 31D: Streamlined (SLEEK); 32D: No-frills bed (COT); 35D: NFL gains (YDS.); 39D: Radio moniker (HANDLE); 42D: Take to court (SUE); 47D: Money set aside (ESCROW); 48D: Lyric poems (EPODES); 51D: Crackerjack (WHIZ); 52D: Run the show (RULE); 54D: Bakery appliance (OVEN); 56D: "Cotton Candy" trumpeter (HIRT); 57D: Not left out: Abbr. (INCL.); 60D: Henpeck (NAG); 61D: "Strange Magic" band (ELO); 62D: __-turn (NO U).


Rex Parker said...

What you said. NERI? And cluing was a mess too. I don't get COLE either.

Van55 said...

I'm 100% with you, PG. I didn't enjoy this one in the least. I was still in the top half (generally being a left to right, top to bottom solver) when I began circling the clues that I found just plain annoying. The resulting answers came in due time: SSE, LODZ, OLEO, OLAF, REMO, ATARI, XED and so on. The whole thing just got on my nerves (pun intended).

Like RP, didn't know NERI or COLE. RICCI needed almost all the crosses. NOU is just ugly. ELO is past trite. Ugh.

As for "nerve" and BRASS -- think "BRASS balls" foreshortened.

Chris said...

I agree, very annoying puzzle today. The "eldest Younger" clue refers to the (Jesse)James-Younger gang, of which Thomas Coleman (Cole) Younger was the oldest Younger brother. If you're not a fan of outlaw history/literature, this one just makes no sense. Nice play on words, though, the eldest Younger.

Anonymous said...

I agree, really did not like or enjoy this mess!

Cole Younger was the leader of the Younger gang (they were brothers and he was the eldest). I think the Earps chased them, but they were villans in a zillion westerns back in the day as well as being the real deal.

I'm having a miserable time signing into this blog from my iPad, so, until I figure it out.....


Sfingi said...

Happy Epiphany, Tre Rei, Xmas for Coptics and Ukrainians!

This took me a while and was accomplished to a great extent by crosses. Even when done the theme was WTF. I don't think Italians, who are a big part of my life, would ever use the word sauce in vain.
Meanwhile, there were many things I didn't know by just their clues: TEXANS(sports), LODZ, HIRT, ELO, RICCI, ATARI; and ttwo I didn't know outright, EPODE, COLE;

and one I don't get - ZEE. Anyone?

But I didn't dislike it so much, since it was a good workout.

As I go through the puzzle a put an X in front of clues I don't get but seem Google-able. Then, as I get them w/o a Google, I turn the X into a blob. If I still have to Google, I use a check. (I'm OCDOCD)

Fillipo NERI was a fun, personable and levitating saint, much seen in art, a Roman who influenced the pope and worked among the people.

Sidnee said...

66-Across One of a jazz duo?: ZEE
Two "Z"s in the word.

*David* the Crass said...

I saw NERVE ENDINGS and went up the list CHEEK check has nerve endings in BRASS we have ASS, check. Then I got to SAUCE and got stuck! Too many BEQ and Onion puzzles in my background, unfortunately.

imsdave said...

I think I liked this a bit more than the crowd in general. Maybe it's because it took me about twice as long as the NYT. Cole Younger is suitably famous in my world, but then again, you know how bad I am at current music answers.

SPOILER ALERT! (In case you've never seen the movie)

Re: "The Sixth Sense" - great memory for me. I was watching it with my wife, sister, and brother-in-law. About 7 minutes into the movie I looked up at my wife and said, "Is it just me, or is this guy dead?". They were not pleased.

sjok said...

Brass as a synonom for "nerve" comes from "he has brass balls". I have no idea why "brass" was used instead of steel. Maybe it preceeds the iron age. Note that I thought that the theme was each answer had a sequence of endings for nerve - eg "ous" but they didn't.

Tuttle said...

I had Tzar instead of CZAR and I'm sticking with it because Terry's Texas Rangers (TTRS) fought with the Berkeley Border Guards (2nd VA Infantry) and the Coldwater Guards (63rd AL Infantry) during the Civil War (only half joking).

And, really, the word is spelled "Царь".

Mokus said...

While there's obviously much to find fault with I still liked today's puzzle.
Cole Younger was a gimme for an old Missourian. Al HIRT is my all-time favorite trumpeter. "The Man with the Horn" was my very first iTune purchase. Coincidentally, in 1963 I went AWOL at Fort Benning in order to attend an Al Hirt concert in Montgomery.
MOOR was interesting. Othello and El Cid came first, then tried to "tie up" a boat and only crosses brought me to Jane Austen country.
@PG, I was thinking that a center w/ two guards was about basketball but you straightened me out. You frequently do and I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Cheri "Oteri" was also an answer in the Washington Post crossword today. Always interesting to see the same answer in two diff puzzles on the same day.


I had no epiphany regarding the theme until I came here. Agree totally with Puzzlegirl about the lame theme. Cluing was pretty bad too. And holy-cow, can there be any more trite crosswordese?

Hated the "nine folower" (ONEONE).

Thanks to @Chris on the Younger Gang explanation.

When I saw HEATH, all I could think of was "I gotta have some Ben & Jerry's ice cream and voile @PG had a pic of that... now I'm drooling.

Other than that, I found no redeeming qualities to this puzzle... for me, a total waste of time. Nice Scrabble board though.

As a trumpet aficionado, I just couldn't pass up a vid clip of Al HIRT playing "Fancy Pants"

Lime D. Zeze said...

The only things I liked about this puzzle are:

1) I filled in ATARI right after SAFARI, which made me smile.

2) That jpg of Screech next to "44D: Collision preceder (SCREECH)" made me chuckle.

C said...

I can not think of too much that is interesting in this puzzle. Happy to have a puzzle to solve and glad I solved today's but no extra buzz that interesting puzzle fill provides.

Growing up, my parents purchased a Time-Life set of books that detailed the wild west. I read all 10(?) volumes cover to cover and today was the big payoff for all that reading: COLE was a gimme.

Sfingi said...

@Anon906 - Don't tell anyone, but they CWers all actually live in Cedar Rapids and get together every night.

@Sidnee - Thanx for the explanation of ZEE. That and nine ONE ONE were groaners, but not necessarily bad.

Love HEATH bars and the SIXTH SENSE. Could eat/watch either one a second time.

@Mokus - what was your punishment?

Anonymous said...

Didn't love it either. "Nerve ending" is not part of an axon; a nerve is a bunch of axons. An axon is the middle of a neuron. The ending of a neuron is a terminal button.

John Wolfenden said...

I agree with Sfingi. After complaining a bit about how easy yesterday's puzzle was, I found a lot more to chew on today. The ILO/LODZ cross was last to fall.

I liked "Winter coat" for SNOW, something we've had even in Southern California this week. Also "Mention with an ulterior motive" for DROP, and I like the words MOTET and INEXORABLE. Wanted to hate "__-turn" for NOU but ended up liking it.

I get why people had issues though, like "GPS heading" for SSE. Make it something you could actually figure out, not a vague clue that could be any of the 8 possibilities and has to be solved by crosses. And I've never seen ARAPAHO spelled without an E at the end.

Larry S said...

I'm amused at the subjective element in our (me too) placing a puzzle on the scale from delightful to annoying. Obviously today's was largely annoying (with a couple exceptions) so there are objective factors, like a theme that falls flat on its face and stays there. (And that nine ONEONE, which I finally get thanks to @Sfingi, but now it annoys me even more!) Often our collective judgment is quite divided. When our mood is annoyed, otherwise okay or even cute entries like NO U turn annoy us even more.
I'm with @C, happy to have a puzzle to solve, so not a complete waste of time, @JohnsNH. (Thanks for the Al Hirt clip, enjoyed it immensely. I played trumpet as a kid and he was the hottest, coolest, grooviest of all possible.)

Anonymous said...

Cole Younger easvthecekdest of the outlaw brothers who worked, sometimes, with Jesse James.

Brass is mostly archaic now I think, but it still means nervy.

CrazyCatLady said...

I have to agree with most about this puzzle. I especially didn't like the theme reveal, but was able to figure it out. I wish chutzpah could have been included somewhere. I love that word. Didn't we just have a British version of the "jazz duo" ZED yesterday?

I saw the new Cohen Brothers' remake of True Grit last weekend. Cole Younger makes an appearance in one of the last scenes so he was a gimme. Great movie.

@PG The not so new anymore Wall Street was okay, but not as good as the first. A young woman I know had a bit part which made it kind of cool.

Mokus said...

@Sfingi: Article 15 and worth every hour of extra duty.
ad@Sfingi: Thanks for the 911 clarification. I thought "nine" was probably a baseball team and got ONEONE through crosses but zero comprehension.

Avg Joe said...

Put me down in the not very enthused camp. Like Sjok, I wanted the tie in's to be suffixes, not simply the last word of the phrase. Pretty weak. But slogged through it and finished.

@John Wolfenden, really enjoyed the invisible cats. That caused me to waste a good 20 minutes looking for other pics. :-)

Captcha: arnus. No need to elaborate

Jet City Gambler said...

There's a Walter Hill film from the early 80s called "The Long Riders" about the adventures of the James-Younger gang. The interesting thing is they cast actual brothers to protray brothers in the film: the Carradines, Keaches, Quaids, and Guests as the Youngers, James, Millers, and Fords respectively.

The film is very Peckinpah-esque, lots of slo-mo shootouts and stylistic camera tricks. Great train robbery scene. Well worth a Netflix viewing.

The puzzle? Meh.

mac said...

Meh to me too. Sauce I never heard of in this sense.

I don't know Cole, but escrow solved that problem. It was just a piece it together kind of puzzle to me.

John Wolfenden said...

JCG: I had never heard of "The Long Riders" until one of my workmates brought it up as we were discussing "True Grit." I thought the latter was a real return to form for the Cohen brothers.

Another friend told me that Ethan and Joel approached Matt Damon about the part of LaBoeuf, and that Damon had reservations about being able to pull off a Texas Ranger. He did, however, have a pretty good Matthew McConaughey impression he had done on Letterman, so after hearing him read the dialogue with that accent they gave him the part.

SethG said...

Brass balls may mean nerve, but for brass to mean nerve brass balls would need to mean nervy balls. Which it does, but I don't see the one as evidence of the other. Someone with balls of steel, for example, is courageous, but that doesn't make steel a good answer for [Courage].

Speaking of balls, I like that TOUCHY leads to HANDLE. And, speaking of balls, Screech. My work here is done.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Jet City Thanks for the memory jog about "The Long Riders." I was trying to think of the name of that movie this morning. I think that's how I first learned about the Younger brothers. It was a good one.
@JWolf Loved Matt Damon as LaBoeuf.