02.15 Tue

T U E S D A Y February 15, 2011
Jack McInturff

Theme: Next to Last — The first word of each theme answer can come after (i.e., next to) the word "last" in a familiar phrase.

Theme answers:

  • 18A: Knock off (CALL IT A DAY).
  • 23A: Doomed fairy tale abode (STRAW HOUSE).
  • 40A: Stick to formalities (STAND ON CEREMONY).
  • 51A: Fast-cook grain product (MINUTE RICE).
  • 59A: Penultimate, and where you might see the first words of 18-, 23-, 40- and 51-Across (NEXT TO LAST).
This is the kind of early-week theme I like. It's easy but there's a purpose to it. You're not just making random phrases for no reason, you're putting the word next to the word "last" because there's this phrase "NEXT TO LAST" that we've all heard and used a million times and this puzzle is, like, taking it literally. Now I'm not saying that this theme would be totally stupid without the cool twist to it. I kinda think that there are only so many theme ideas out there and they're not all going to be awesome. So on a Monday or Tuesday? That's okay. Any later in the week though, I want some cleverness there. And this week, we got the cleverness early. Huzzah!

  • 17A: Diamond team (NINE). That would be a baseball diamond. There are NINE positions on a baseball field.
  • 33A: Satisfied sound (AAH). I'd never really taken the time to think about it until now, but I've just decided that I do not like the entries AAH, OOH, and SHH. On the other hand, I do not mind BRR and AWW. I can't really explain it and really, you'd probably just as soon I didn't.
  • 36A: Drink away, as sorrows (DROWN).

  • 39A: Largest of the Philippines (LUZON). Lots of random islands in the grid today. See also PALAU (7D: 2005 "Survivor" island) and ELLIS (8D: __ Island, former immigration center).
  • 45A: Place for buoys and gulls (SEA). I didn't see this clue as I was solving. I can't decide if I love it or hate it. I think I kinda of love it.
  • 46A: Gibson of tennis (ALTHEA). She was the first African-American woman to play on the world tennis tour and the first to win one of the Grand Slam tournaments (the French Open in 1956).
  • 71A: Wall St. market (NYSE). New York Stock Exchange.
  • 37D: Loos, briefly (WC'S). Can we ever really get enough of the British bathroom words?
  • 38D: Big name in Indian politics (NEHRU). Okay, look. I don't really know anything about this guy but it seems like he's been in the puzzle every day for at least a week and I'm tired of him. Him and his jacket.
  • 41D: Okinawa's capital (NAHA). Whoa. I didn't see this clue either. NAHA? That's awesome.
  • 62D: Jilted lover's need, briefly (TLC). Heh.
Crosswordese 101: O'SHEA is almost always clued like today's 44A: Milo of "Ulysses." Milo O'SHEA is an Irish-born actor whose other films include "Romeo and Juliet," "Barbarella," and "The Verdict." The only other O'SHEAs you're likely to see are the Welsh, Tony-winning actress Tessie O'SHEA and the rapper Ice Cube. "Ice Cube?" you ask? Yes, apparently Ice Cube's real name is O'SHEA Jackson. You're welcome.
Other Crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 14A: Old apple spray (ALAR).
  • 30A: Max of "The Beverly Hillbillies" (BAER).
  • 66A: Writer __ Rogers St. Johns (ADELA).
  • 5D: Legendary bird (ROC).
  • 60D: Tokyo, once (EDO).
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Everything Else 1A: Rope material (HEMP); 5A: Ready for the picking (RIPE); 9A: Staff symbol (C CLEF); 15A: Like some vaccines (ORAL); 16A: "The Magic Flute," for one (OPERA); 20A: Screwups (GOOFS); 22A: Capitol worker (AIDE); 26A: Overcharge, in slang (SOAK); 31A: Point a finger at (ACCUSE); 43A: Reef material (CORAL); 48A: Let us know, in an invite (RSVP); 50A: __ bargaining (PLEA); 57A: Meat pkg. letters (USDA); 58A: It has banks and a mouth (RIVER); 65A: Ice cream drink (SODA); 67A: Cavern sound (ECHO); 68A: Metal sources (ORES); 69A: Veranda (PORCH); 70A: Gush (SPEW); 1D: Associates (with), slangily (HANGS); 2D: "The Naming of Cats" poet (ELIOT); 3D: Lord's estate (MANOR); 4D: Ready-made home (PREFAB); 6D: Songwriter Gershwin (IRA); 9D: Coop (COTE); 10D: No.-crunching pro (CPA); 11D: Guided (LED); 12D: Big Band __ (ERA); 13D: Wray of "King Kong" (FAY); 19D: It may be half-baked (IDEA); 21D: Wrap, as an infant (SWADDLE); 24D: Saver of the day (HERO); 25D: Maine college town (ORONO); 26D: Pond problem (SCUM); 27D: Greek liqueurs (OUZOS); 28D: What "two shall be" after the I do's, in song (AS ONE); 29D: Land of Obama's father (KENYA); 32D: Butcher's tool (CLEAVER); 33D: Musicians' org. (ASCAP); 34D: Lagoon border (ATOLL); 35D: Poker Flat creator (HARTE); 42D: Musical silence (REST); 47D: Playground retort (AM SO); 49D: Place up the 58-Across? (PRISON); 52D: Sits at a light, say (IDLES); 53D: Anti-racism gp. since 1909 (NAACP); 54D: Classic Procter & Gamble soap brand (IVORY); 55D: Formally gives up (CEDES); 56D: Wipe off the board (ERASE); 57D: Colorado neighbor (UTAH); 59D: Short sleep (NAP); 61D: Signer, at times (X'ER); 63D: Miss identification (SHE); 64D: Stranded motorist's need (TOW).



My fastest solve so far this year (3:47 and with no GOOFS), but I didn't figure out the theme until I came here.

Lots of old familiar names of people from my day: Max BAER, ALTHEA Gibson, ADELA Rogers St. Johns, IRA Gershwin, T. S. ELIOT, Bret HARTE, and FAY Wray ... Oh My! No wonder I solved it lightening fast.

This morning it's Tiramisu Waffles at the new HONEY JAMS CAFE... Yumm!

Have a darn-decent-day y'all !


PG, you shouldn't be tired of NEHRU. It's a name that's kept democracy and freedom in India... a government we all hope develops in other great countries.

Ignorance is always afraid of change. ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

SethG said...

The Penn Ultimate men's team is Void. The women's team is Venus.

I like this type of reveal, especially when it works, much better than something like cluing LAST with [Ultimate, and, with "next to", where you might see the first words of some across clues]. Glad I know tennis, because I don't know Okinawa.

gespenst said...

For a while I was on a streak where when I broke up with a guy, he'd marry his next girlfriend. I joked that I may not be the ultimate girlfriend, but I'm the penultimate girlfriend ;)

Fun, fast, and clever. I liked the puzzle.

Tuttle said...

"I am MC Simon Milligan - master of funk and evil - and I welcome you to the pit of penultimate darkness. Yea, sorry... It seems someone else has a slightly darker pit."

I could have sworn Poker Flat was a rocket test range in Alaska... and that Brett Harte was an 80/90s professional wrestler (turns out that's Bret "the Hitman" Hart with no E). Shows what I know.

Larry Sittig said...

Very nice execution of theme.
Thanks, PG, for the tip of the iceberg, I mean Ice Cube named O'Shea.
I'm not a fan of excessive Crosswordese, and that's all that kept this from Monday level. When a puzzle has too much CWese, it's only accessible to addicts like us. The cross of ORONO and O'SHEA would be a natick for many. But I half-remembered ORONO from a couple weeks ago, and O'SHEA seemed a good guess.

Mokus said...

Satisfying puzzle and theme. I say ahh when satisfied but know people who say AAH.

Loved "gulls and buoys" (girls & boys) esp. because the answer was SEA and not the despised "asea."

My middle name is WRAY and it was fun to see it in a CWP. I use Fay Wray as an example for spelling but people under fifty mostly frown.

John Wolfenden said...

Easier than yesterday, but not a single caveat or gripe about this puzzle. That's unusual for any day of the week.

Cool theme, some punny cluing like "Place for buoys and gulls" and "Place up the RIVER." Don't recall seeing ALTHEA Gibson before.

I just noticed today, PG, that the new blog format reminds me of a diner menu. Mmm, clues...(Homer Simpson drooling sound)

C said...

OK puzzle, OK theme. Write-up and comments are much better than OK today. Penultimate girlfriend made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

I didn't receive my daily newspaper today, so had to resort to solving the puzzle online. Typing wasn't nearly as satisfying as writing in ink.

Avg Joe said...

I enjoyed the puzzle, but didn't get much of a kick out of the theme at first. The more I think about it, though, the more I like it. Especially after reading everything here.

I don't know Okinawa or pre '70's tennis. Thankfully I had an aunt named Althea:-)

Also liked the nautical clue for 45A. I have a friend with a boat that named it "Nauti Bouy". Always felt that required a little more imagination than Trishia Ann or some such.

mac said...

Nice puzzle, everything works. Like the buoys and gulls. Put alga in before scum. Love the atoll crossing coral, and the prison the river. Two very different houses next to each other, a manor and a prefab! Pretty word, swaddle. Hard to believe NYSE would be owned 60% by the German stock exchange.

Nighthawk said...

I too liked the write up more than the theme, but once I'd solved, and figured the theme out, thought it was pretty darned clever.

"Sandlot" is one of my favorite flics from my daughter's childhood, @PG. She liked it so much, we still have a copy of it on tape. So loved the pic for NINE. MonsterDog!

I'm not musical, so after trying tCLEF, thinking perhaps an abbrev. for treble clef, got the C from the cross as last space to fall. REST and NAHA were pen and next to pen ultimates in the domino chain.

Sfingi said...

Liked the theme quite a bit. Since the other puzzle had a "right in the middle" theme," there's further proof they get together. Not that I need any more proof. And the ELIHU thing from yesterday, too.

STAB and STUB are a sort of mini-theme. There is no STeB, STiB or SToB, so it's a whole set.

PG - thanks for the cartoons! New for me, but I loved it. I use bubble wrap as a poor man's/white trash? security system. Set it on the floor as you enter. The thief thinks he's being shot at.

Isn't "gulls" what Brits call the fairer sex?

The original "up the RIVER" is Sing Sing at Ossining, NY. Since most of the prisoners still come from "The City," it's still up the Hudson River.

Had a Natick at OUZOS crosses LUZON.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain COTE to me? (It was the answer for the 9D clue, "Coop".) I don't know what it means. Thanks

Hiram said...

From www.thefreedictionary.com:

COTE: a small shelter for pigeons, sheep, etc.

You might recognize the word as part of dovecote.