01.12 Wed

January 12, 2011
Ken Bessette

Theme: Circle the Wagons — First and last two letters of each theme answer (which are circled) spell out a type of wagon.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: When some suits don't wear suits (DRESS-DOWN FRIDAY).
  • 23A: The Pawtucket Red Sox, e.g. (TRIPLE-A FARM TEAM).
  • 52A: Sandals in Jamaica, e.g. (CARIBBEAN RESORT).
  • 60A: Assume a defensive position (and what we did to highlight this puzzle's theme) (CIRCLE THE WAGONS).
I really, really want to love this puzzle. Seeing circles in my puzzle always make me a little skeptical, but this theme? This is why God invented circles in puzzles. The phrase is CIRCLE THE WAGONS. The circled letters are types of wagons. It's an idiomatic phrase with a literal interpretation. It's perfect. Exactly the kind of wordplay that makes me happy I'm a crossword freak. And yet …. DRESS-DOWN FRIDAY? I'm pretty sure I've never heard Casual Friday referred to that way. DRESS-DOWN FRIDAY makes it sound more like everyone's gonna get yelled at. And you definitely don't want to be restricted by a necktie when you're getting yelled at? Sorry, but that theme answer just doesn't work for me. TRIPLE-A FARM TEAM is probably okay, but it's not a phrase I would use. Not that I talk about minor league baseball that much, but when I do I'm more likely to say "triple-A club" or, simply, "farm team." CARIBBEAN RESORT is fine. The only problem I had with that is having to think about how to spell CARIBBEAN, but that's not the puzzle's fault.

I smiled when I unerstood what was going on with the theme. But that's before I really looked at the theme answers. And please don't get me started on the crosswordese. (Hint: Too much for Wednesday!) I crossed my fingers that just because the first two across answers were LE CAR and ENYA that didn't mean we were in for a Crosswordese Fest, but no such luck.

Best entries in the grid? EBBETS and OYE COMO VA (48D: Brooklyn's __ Field / 36D: Santana hit also covered by Tito Puente). Remember how the other day I wanted OYE COMO VA in the grid and it wasn't there and I posted the video anyway? Oh wait, that was over at Rex's. Here ya go.

Well, there's snow on the ground here in the Washington, DC, area, so I need to go take care of my legal obligation to spend some time freaking out this morning. Y'all enjoy your Wednesday and I'll see you back here tomorrow. Also, I have a feeling something pretty cool might happen next Wednesday, so be sure to come back.

Crosswordese 101: Occasionally, AVA is clued as simply a "Palindromic girl's name," but it's most often clued as AVA Gardner. Sometimes her last name is in the clue (e.g., "Gardner of Hollywood," "Gardner of film," "Actress Gardner"), but other times the clue will signal that the answer you're looking for is a first name by including a different person's first name — either an ex-husband (Mickey, Artie or Frank) or a co-star:
  • Movie: "The Barefoot Contessa"
  • Co-star: Humphrey (Bogart)
  • Movie: "On the Beach"
  • Co-star: Gregory (Peck)
  • Movie: "Mogambo"
  • Co-star: Clark (Gable)
  • Movie: "The Killers"
  • Co-star: Burt (Lancaster)
Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 1A: The Renault 5, in North America (LE CAR).
  • 6A: One-named New Ager (ENYA).
  • 21A: Frat "T" (TAU).
  • 42A: River to the North Sea (TYNE).
  • 46A: "Sonic the Hedgehog" developer (SEGA).
  • 59A: Cheese or its town (EDAM).
  • 8D: Gossipmonger (YENTA).
  • 63D: Bambi's aunt (ENA).
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Everything Else — 10A: Lake plant (ALGA); 14A: Street of San José (CALLE); 15A: Ending with play or party (GOER); 16A: Rosemary, for one (HERB); 20A: Sound from Simba (ROAR); 22A: Fords with racing stripes (GT'S); 28A: Nuclear org. created under HST (AEC); 29A: __ Grey tea (EARL); 30A: Deep Throat's org. (FBI); 31A: Bamboozle (SCAM); 33A: Christian surname? (DIOR); 35A: How oaths are taken (ALOUD); 39A: __ de espera: waiting room (SALA); 40A: She played Buffy (SARAH); 43A: Derby town (EPSOM); 45A: Trig ratio (SINE); 49A: Schoolyard claim (DIBS); 51A: Frame for Roger Rabbit (CEL); 58A: Mideast "son of" (IBN); 66A: Hard downpour (HAIL); 67A: Music biz sensation, perhaps (TEEN); 68A: "If I Were a Rich Man" singer (TEVYE); 69A: Feminine suffix (-ENNE); 70A: Mex. miss (SRTA.); 71A: Clear (ERASE); 1D: Elec. readout (LCD); 2D: Field unit (EAR); 3D: Some temps (CLERICALS); 4D: Journalist Stewart or Joseph (ALSOP); 5D: Consignment shop transaction (RESALE); 6D: Swelled head (EGO); 7D: Word of urgency (NOW); 9D: Kennel double talk? (ARF ARF); 10D: Tuna at a luau (AHI); 11D: Building shelf (LEDGE); 12D: Persona non __ (GRATA); 13D: Wide gulf (ABYSM); 18D: Bob Marley feature (DREADS); 19D: Cuban dance (RUMBA); 23D: Café cup (TASSE); 24D: Roundup (RECAP); 25D: Met favorites (ARIAS); 26D: Where to see a lot of keys (FLORIDA); 27D: Knight games (TILTS); 32D: Haka dancers of New Zealand (MAORI); 34D: Made a quick stop (RAN IN); 37D: Madison's foil (UNGER); 38D: Passed out in Vegas? (DEALT); 41D: Sharon's language (HEBREW); 44D: Company that uses Pegasus as a symbol (MOBIL); 50D: Get under control, in a way (SEDATE); 52D: Buried supply (CACHE); 53D: Like most cardinals (AVIAN); 54D: __ to go (RARIN'); 55D: Pencil maze word (ENTER); 56D: More wise (SAGER); 61D: Cavs, on scoreboards (CLE); 62D: Worked (up) (HET); 64D: Where Rockefeller was gov. (NYS); 65D: Match, as a raise (SEE).


Rex Parker said...

This puzzle seems trapped, conceptually between different meanings of "circle." The carts are broken and thus Sort Of ENcircle the rest of the letters in the answers that contain them ... and then the puzzle has circled the letters in the carts, which isn't a very good/interesting use of the circle concept, as simply putting circles in some squares is not a theme. Their positions on the ends should have something to do with the "circle." I'm just not feeling the circle, is what I'm saying. If there had been circles made out of the wagons, e.g.


then maybe. But those would look like diamonds. . . I don't know. I liked the puzzle OK, nonetheless.

TRIPLE A FARM TEAM is redundant.

And what you said about DRESS-DOWN FRIDAY (tho' I got it easily enough).


Sidnee said...

TRIPLE A FARM TEAM is redundant.

How do you tell them apart then? (R thru AAA)

Vega said...

Ditto. I came here to find out if anyone else thought DRESSDOWNFRIDAY was a thing (or at least a thing that I'd be happy to participate in).

Otherwise, OK. Though I too spent far more time than necessary trying to work out how to parse "circle."

Avg Joe said...

Relatively easy puzzle overall. Had a few hang-ups, but got them through crosses. Didn't know CALLE, IBN or that TYNE was a river as well as an actress. My biggest beef is with ABYSM. First encounter with that form, and will probably forget it immediately, but C'mon! Archaic French! We have a perfectly good modern word.

Like everyone else, didn't really care for Dress Down Friday, but got it with ease. Theme was nothing stellar, but mildly amusing.

"Oye Como Va" has been fighting it out for earworm of the day, but "If I We're a Rich Man" keeps winning.

SethG said...

Once I had FRIDAY and couldn't figure out how to fit in casual, I put in the SH in the beginning to make SHAY.

Nice concept, but it's not the circles that kept me from being really excited, it's the wagons. They're wagons. Wagons are not exciting.

*David* first to the chuck wagon said...

I wanted CASUAL FRIDAY but I have heard it used as DRESS DOWN. I found this harder then usual for a Wednesday. Espanol OYE COMO VA, CALLE, and SALA were enjoyable fill. I got stuck with Madison foil kept on thiking of the President. On cardinal I kept thinking colors or clergy. Overall a 8 on the David-o-meter.


I dunno, I just didn't enjoy this puzzle... can't put my finger on it, but I guess one thing that ticked me off was my version didn't print out the little circles. I solved it online on the Trib website.
Agree with Rex on those last two points.
I always cringe when I see an excessive amount of crosswordese and then when I get a lot of lousy clues... grrr! (was that a ROAR?)
"Music biz sensation" = TEEN???
"Made a quick stop" = RANIN???

I don't understand what IBN has to do with "Mideast 'son of'".

I agree with @PG... the only thing I liked was OYE COMO VA and thanks for the great Santana clip.

Gonna go have a TASSE of coffee and get over this nonsense!

mac said...

I found this one a little tougher than usual, and in addition I didn't have any circles. When I figured out the clue, I could fill in the "ca" at 52A.

I don't usually have problems with my rivers to the North Sea, but the Tyne is a little more obscure. I thought the Madison sidekick clue was cute, and abysm looks odd without its -al.

Anonymous said...

Triple A battery
Double A farm team

C said...

My printout didn't come with circles so the theme wasn't that cool for me until I cam here and realized I was scammed out of my circles. Someone, somewhere, owes me 12 crossword circles ... with interest.

Tuttle said...

Sidnee, I believe it's the 'farm' part that is redundant. All R through AAA teams are farm teams.

JNH, IBN is transliterated Arabic for "son of" when it starts a name. When the word is in the middle of a name the leading character is usually dropped in modern usage and it becomes 'bin' (or 'ben' in African Arabic and Hebrew).

I'm not sure how EAR is a field unit. I'm assuming they mean maize? That's a stretch.

Anonymous said...

Dress down Friday was the term at our business: no jacket & tie. It was used before business casual became PC.

Sidnee said...

There are independent leagues that use the same R-AAA classification. You need FARM to indicate MLB.

ddbmc said...

Snow here, so no paper with circles. CW online today.
Radio Flyer, Conestoga, Stagecoach and maybe station wagon(I know, more Fri-Sun words), all a bit more juicy than DRAY, TRAM and CART.

OYE COMO VA-one of my favorite songs and yet as a "down word" my eye and brain were not melding, meshing or parsing the letters properly. They just SMERSHED together. (I know-SMERSH doesn't mean that--it's just such a great sounding acronym,like something out of Lil' Abner!)

Could @PG's next Wednesday surprise be a puzzle by herself?????
Happy shoveling, to all fellow Nor'Easterners!

Larry S said...

I'm all HET up and RARIN to go, but I'll refrain from ditto-grumbling to all said above.

NW corner sent me finally to Wikipedia (which I prefer to straight googling because it takes me to an article, not just a datum). I lived in Spain through the 80s and early 90s and saw a million Renault 5s, but they stopped making them shortly after I returned to the US so LE CAR never stuck in my trivia bin.

Not sure how an LCD is an electrical unit. Like a television set is a unit and it's electrical? I was looking for something like ohm or KWH.

I'd like to argue with the clue for 10A, but the best I can do is (from Wikipedia), "Most algae are no longer classified within the Kingdom Plantae."

Here's a mini-theme: Old Dodgers. As in, they used to play in EBBETS Field and they used to have spring training in FLORIDA. And I used to be a Dodgers fan until they were sold and lost their mojo in the 90s.

Anonymous said...

"Oye Como Va" was not covered by Tito Puente,it was written by him!Santana's version was the cover.

Rube said...

Needed every single cross to get OYECOMOVA, with the Y in TYNE being the last letter in the puzzle. I've heard of the Tyne river, but that's mighty obscure.

Never heard of Sandals resort and needed all the crosses for DREADS. And yet, my only writeover was LCD for LeD. A crossword with, (to me), obscure stuff that is doable without Googles, is a mighty fine puzzle IMO.

Listened to the entire Santana clip. Couldn't understand most of the words. Considering much of today's music, that is probably a good thing. Otherwise, OK.

Van55 said...

The theme pretty much sucked and had no solid or sparkling fill to support it in my opinion.

ddbmc said...

Oye, Anon 10:42:
"Oye Como Va" is a version of a song originally written by Cachao, and covered by Latin jazz and mambo musician Tito Puente in 1963 and popularized by Santana's cover of the song in 1970 on their album Abraxas!

Anonymous said...

Rube, the song is mostly in Spanish.

Anonymous said...

"Oye.." translation

Listen how it goes
My rhythm
Good for joy
Mulatto woman

Someone explained....It's a sexual song about Latin America and Afro-Cubanos.

John Wolfenden said...

Solving online without the circles I thought this was a fine puzzle with some challenging words.

A word like ABYSM which has fallen completely out of use should be clued to indicate that it's archaic. And TEEN for "Music biz sensation" is just kinda lame in a way I can't put my finger on.

My biggest gripe was with NYS for New York State. I've never seen that in a puzzle before, and would you really say that Rockefeller was the governor of New York State? It's redundant.

The fiendish NW corner was last to fall. Loved seeing LECAR, crappy vehicle though it was.

Some nice cluing, like "Field unit" for EAR and "Where to see a lot of keys" for FLORIDA. My favorite puzzle of the week so far.

Larry S said...

Surely doesn't matter, but "Oye, ¿cómo va?" may be a come-on, like "Hey, how ya doin'?" a la Joey of Friends.

Avg Joe said...

Okay. Time for a new earworm. A bit of latin influence to this one, but not nearly as much as Oye Como Va.

This'll take you back: Little Green Bag

Eric said...

OYE COMO VA, TEVYE, and ENYA were good to see. Other than that, meh.

Too bad YENTA couldn't also have been clued for Fiddler on the Roof, but it's the wrong spelling. The thing is, YENTA and YENTE appear to be the same name. It's a woman's given name, with a secondary generic sense of an old gossip. I assume (but don't quote me) that -A and -E are variant transliterations from Yiddish -- but since Fiddler was written in English, not Yiddish, ISTM that the spelling the writers chose for their character's name should be taken as authoritative in that context. (It would be a nice little in joke if they namd their matchmaker Yente due to its secondary meaning, as a comment on her profession.) YENTL seems to be another variant of the same name, but I don't know how it fits in. Does someone else? A diminutive, perhaps?

Sfingi said...

Totally didn't get what the circled letters were. Was wondering if it wasn't some sort of football setup. I still didn't get it until I read @DDBMC. So, How does breaking up names equate to CIRCLing?

Had to Google for TYNE, since I was chasing Madison as a president and couldn't think how OYE was spelled.

Also, had CARRIBEAN RESOle. Never heard of this RESORT. Don't go near the equator (check my picture).

Beautiful snow today. My squirrels each took a nut and went back to bed.
Tomorrow is another day.

Anonymous said...

Hicks in the sticks of the Pacific Northwest (yes, that is in the USA) say DRESS DOWN FRIDAY, or did, until we were informed it was not PC (no doubt by those from the East Coast). We even say Triple A Farm Team, though Farm Team and Triple A work too. Of course we are the ones whose ancestors road the Conestoga Wagons. Don't think mine ever had to circle them, though.

Nebraska Doug said...

Felt like a Friday puzzle to me, way harder than I expected for a Wednesday.