02.16 Wed

W E D N E S D A Y February 16, 2011
Donna S. Levin

Theme: Executive Animals — A quartet of well-known White House pets.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Game played on a six-pointed star (CHINESE CHECKERS).
  • 25A: 1964 Beatles hit (AND I LOVE HER).
  • 37A: Trendy aerobics regimen (TAE BO).
  • 44A: Diamond-patterned attire (ARGYLE SOCKS).
  • 57A: Companion at the end of 17-, 25-, 37- and 44-Across (PRESIDENTIAL PET).
PuzzleGirl is at a John Cougar Mellencamp concert tonight, so this is Doug, holding down the puzzle fort. Wait, I should say she's at a John Mellencamp concert. I think he dropped the "Cougar" part, but I haven't kept up with his career. I remember when he was plain old John Cougar. And if my name was as cool as John Cougar, I wouldn't change it. It's like The Rock wanting people to call him Dwayne Johnson. What's up with that?

"No comment."
Fun theme today from Donna Levin. Did you recognize all the pets? Checkers was Nixon's cocker spaniel, immortalized in the "Checkers Speech." Her was one of LBJ's beagles. The other was named Him. Bo is Obama's Portuguese Water Dog. And Socks was Clinton's cat. At first, I didn't notice BO hiding at the end of the "trendy" TAE BO, so that was a nice post-solve bonus. If you want to read more about the various White House pets, you should pay a visit to the Presidential Pet Museum. The sorriest "pets" belonged to Andrew Johnson. He took care of a family of mice he found living in his bedroom. He placed fresh water next to the fireplace and kept a basket of flour on the floor for them. And he referred to the mice as his "little fellows." I refer to mice as "cat food."

  • 5A: Antony listener (ROMAN). The Romans lent Antony their ears.
  • 21A: Smart club (MENSA). One of my favorite Columbo episodes, "The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case," features a Mensa-like group called the Sigma Society. I have no idea what made me think of that.
  • 34A: Peddle (VEND). And who hasn't gotten their hand stuck inside a vending machine?
  • 6D: 1991 movie sequel subtitled "The Awakening" (OMEN IV). I don't remember this movie (I tried "Omen II" initially), but it was easy enough to figure out. There's a reason I, and probably you, don't remember it. "Omen IV: The Awakening" was a made-for-TV movie starring...some actors you've never heard of. "Omen V: Hitting Satan's Snooze Button" was a much better film.
  • 23D: Coors malt beverage (ZIMA). They stopped selling this stuff in the U.S. in 2008. The wimpy drink mantle has been passed to Smirnoff Ice.
  • 31D: "Old" chip producer? (BLOCK). A chip off the old block. Clever.
  • 46D: Twinkler in a Paris sky (ÉTOILE). French word for star. And when I say it, it rhymes with "foil."
  • 59D: 33 1/3 rpm spinners (LPS). I'm old enough to have owned LPs, and I even remember seeing some old 8-tracks in our garage. But now I've officially joined the 21st century. One of my favorite groups released an album yesterday, and I didn't buy the physical CD. I downloaded it from iTunes. *gasp* I've bought a couple of songs on iTunes in the past, but this was my first full CD. The excitement never stops at my house.
Thanks to Donna for a fun solve and to PuzzleGirl for letting me play in her sandbox. She'll be back tomorrow. I hope she's not too tired after a long night of R.O.C.K.ing in the U.S.A.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 24A: She played WKRP's Jennifer (LONI).
  • 60A: Jai __ (ALAI).
  • 8D: Turkish honorific (AGHA).
  • 9D: At birth (NÉE).
  • 51D: He sang about Alice (ARLO).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else -- 1A: Classifies, in a way (PEGS); 10A: Envelope abbr. (ATTN); 14A: Beige-like shade (ECRU); 15A: Representation (IMAGE); 16A: Dealer's dispenser (SHOE); 20A: Keystone lawman (KOP); 22A: Cry to strike up the band (HIT IT); 23A: Penne relative (ZITI); 24A: She played WKRP's Jennifer (LONI); 30A: Time Warner "Superstation" (TBS); 33A: Capacious (ROOMY); 35A: The tan in a Black and Tan (ALE); 36A: One of five states in which same-sex marriage is legal (IOWA); 39A: Fort with many bars (KNOX); 40A: Apparel retailer Taylor (ANN); 41A: Legatee (HEIR); 42A: In abeyance (ON ICE); 43A: La + la, in Lille (LES); 47A: Volunteer st. (TENN.); 49A: "Let's leave __ that" (IT AT); 50A: Producer Ponti (CARLO); 52A: "My Name Is Asher Lev" author Chaim (POTOK); 54A: Restorative place (SPA); 60A: Jai __ (ALAI); 61A: Pentium producer (INTEL); 62A: Brand with a pony in its logo (POLO); 63A: A few (SOME); 64A: Seacoast (SHORE); 65A: Stern's counterpart (STEM); 1D: Chaste kiss (PECK); 2D: Reverberate (ECHO); 3D: Stagehand (GRIP); 4D: Heliocentric universe center (SUN); 5D: __ the occasion (RISE TO); 7D: Apple products (MACS); 8D: Turkish honorific (AGHA); 9D: At birth (NEE); 10D: Be hospitable to (ASK IN); 11D: White Star Line's ill-fated steamer (THE TITANIC); 12D: Actress Spelling (TORI); 13D: Place to brood (NEST); 18D: Agent Prentiss on "Criminal Minds" (EMILY); 19D: Bit of guitar music (CHORD); 24D: His show has a "Jaywalking" segment (LENO); 25D: Serif-free font (ARIAL); 26D: Nary a soul (NO ONE); 27D: How things flow (DOWNSTREAM); 28D: Each partner (EVERY); 29D: Right-to-left lang. (HEB.); 32D: Proverbial battlers (SEXES); 37D: Gull relative (TERN); 38D: 2008 govt. bailout recipient (AIG); 39D: Granny, for one (KNOT); 41D: Red River capital (HANOI); 42D: Honshu metropolis (OSAKA); 45D: Roadside trash (LITTER); 48D: Borden's spokescow (ELSIE); 50D: Pros who work on schedules, for short (CPA'S); 51D: He sang about Alice (ARLO); 52D: Phnom __ (PENH); 53D: Suspicious of (ONTO); 54D: Catch a glimpse of (SPOT); 55D: Soccer great (PELE); 56D: Elemental unit (ATOM); 58D: Put down, slangily (DIS).



So it's all about "REIGNING CATS AND DOGS" today. Very cute theme and I really enjoyed working through this one.

Some really clever clues:
31D "Old chip producer" (BLOCK)... I filled in INTEL right away only to find it again later on... whoops!
43A "La + La, in Lille" (LES)... wow, that's cool.

Doug, I guess "Cougar" has a whole new meaning today.
I really enjoyed your writeup today, especially the pic of Socks.
I'm not only old enough to remember LPS, but this week I've been working with LPS, transferring some great classic music onto CDS, using this new ION USB turntable I just bought.

ARGYLE SOCKS... who the heck wears those anymore (except maybe college professors)?

Gotta get going or I'll be late for my MENSA meeting.

OMG, my captcha today is FUNNIZE... okay, I'll take that.

mac said...

More macs! It is uncanny how many have been showing up in different puzzles the last few weeks.

There is another word that shows up in the NYT puzzle as well. This was a nice puzzle, and thanks, Doug, for telling us about Her and Him!

imsdave said...

Clean, smooth fill and an entertaining theme (I missed BO even after the solve - I wonder if that dog smells OK?).

Great write-up Doug.

I want a few weeks of daves (not that I don't love macs).

Tuttle said...

The Portugese Water Dog is the second best thing to come out of Portugal. The first, of course, is the road to Spain... or Jose Mourinho, your milage may vary.

Anonymous said...

In college, my friends and I had a rule: when playing darts at the bar, if none of your three throws stuck in the board, you had to buy a Zima and pretend to enjoy it when any girl walked by.

C said...

I thoroughly enjoyed today's puzzle and theme. Kudos to Ms. Levin.

@Tuttle, Mr. Mourinho would probably quibble with you about the best thing to come out of Portugal though he did take the road to Spain ...

Avg Joe said...

Thanks for the fun write up and for pinch hitting, Doug. Hand up for adding II to Omen, but then I remembered that II was called Damien.

The Simpson's clip was hilarious. Couldn't help but laugh a the lost are clutching a Fresca.

I also missed Bo on the first glance, but remembered all of the proper owners. It's worth pointing out that LBJ pissed off most of the animal lovers in the world by holding those beagles up by the ears.

@Anon8:03, the Zima penalty doesn't sound nearly as harsh as the D.O. rule in golf :-)

Greg said...

La + La in Lilles was not a good clue. I got it immediately, but I don't think it is grammatically correct.

SethG said...

CHECKERS was a vice-presidential pet.

I thought ÉTOILE was French Canadian, so when I say it it rhymes with "foil, eh?"

In case you can't predict it, it turns out that Homer hadn't let go of the can. Icing bros is so last summer.

John Wolfenden said...

Quick and breezy. Some good cluing today, like "Dealer's dispenser," and to me, Greg, "La + la" made total sense. Two feminine objects make a plural.

I'd never heard of "My Name Is Asher Lev" until it appeared in Sunday's print puzzle, and now here's the author appearing on Wednesday. Freaky.

Loved the Zima dart story by Anon. It's hard to remember a more ridiculed beverage.

I forgot how cute Clinton's Socks was. He always gave a good press conference. Our cat has a similar black spot on her nose.

mac said...

@Greg: I think you may be right. Shouldn't it be elles? La mere et la fille sont belles. Elles sont belles.

Anonymous said...

La Femme Nikita1 + La Femme Nikita(2) = Les Femmes

Doug P said...

I don't know if the "La + la" clue is technically correct, but it's an new & interesting clue for LES, so I give it a thumbs-up.

Larry Sittig said...

Smooth solve. I think that's the first time I've ever said that. Does smooth solve mean done quickly but without the sense that it was boringly easy?

Clever theme, good cluing. Nice writeup, Doug. Enjoyed the Simpsons clip. I see that the clip "Up next" is also Simpsons and titled "No Pets in Heaven." So I guess the White House is as far as they get.

I couldn't figure how the clue "Be hospitable to" quite fit the answer AS KIN. Just saw it: ASK IN. D'oh!

Thanks for the darts/Zima story, Anon. First good laugh of the day.

John Wolfenden said...

Greg and Mac, you're thinking of it in terms of girls or women. The clue is referring to feminine things, not people, so the plural is "les" whether they're masculine or feminine.

I sometimes think crosswords unjustly favor French over other languages, but having taken many years of French I'm not complaining.

Anonymous said...

Nice write-up, Doug. My one "pet" peeve here (groan) ... To call tae bo trendy is, um, a stretch ...

Sfingi said...

Didn't know HER.

Googled for OMEN IV.
Had pieS before MACS and Paula before EMILY. Never watched Criminal Minds, though I should since it has the Sicilian Joe Mantegna. He reads for many books on tape, and well.

Learned a different meaning of Black and Tan. Knew it as the coppers that the Brits dropped into Ireland.

@John - Hubster wears argyle socks and sweaters. Apology accepted.

The other puzzle has 80+ entries and this one only 13. This is our worst showing yet.

@Wolfenden - they usually set it up for Asher or Lev. This is the first time I've seen POTOK.

Don't get Dealer's dispenser = SHOE. Is it about gambling or auto dealers? Either way, it's probably too late for me to get an answer.

I also don't get the Zima joke.

Avg Joe said...

@Sfingi, in Blackjack (probably other games as well, but I don't know) the house dealer uses a device that holds several decks of cards and from which they are drawn. It's called a shoe. A box, really.

I'll leave the Zima joke to your imagination and knowledge of male vanity.


I didn't say there was anything wrong with argyles. I actually think they're pretty cool and I was hoping they'd come back in style. I have some nice argyle sweaters that I think I'll resurrect ... maybe even my penny loafers.

CrazyCatLady said...

I love SOCKS, especially argyles. My 20 something son wears them.