04.07 Thu

April 7, 2011
Don Gagliardo

Theme: I say, old chap… — Theme answers are familiar phrases that have had their spelling English-ified

Theme answers:

  • 20A: *Not exactly a nightie (FLANNEL PYJAMAS).
  • 24A: *Scales are part of it (PIANO PRACTISE).
  • 33A: *Reinforced road traveler (STEEL-BELTED TYRE).
  • 43A: *Headquarters (CONTROL CENTRE).
  • 51A: Spin, as a cue ball, and how to answer each starred clue in this puzzle? (PUT ENGLISH ON IT).
Good morning, everyone, and happy Thursday. I know everybody has stuff to do today, so let's get right to it.

Really, really like this theme and like even more how it sort of slowly dawned on me. I'm sure I'm wasn't alone in entering FLANNEL PAJAMAS at 20-Across and then wondering what the heck a TREA might be. I like that PYJAMAS is the first Anglicized word we see in the grid because if I were going to make a list of possibliities, it's not one that immediately comes to mind. PRACTISE and CENTRE are actually spellings I've seen off and on over the years in real life and TYRE comes up now and again in puzzles. But PYJAMAS is way back there in the cobwebs: I know I've seen it but can't imagine where or when. So, yes, we're looking at a fine, fine theme here. Unfortuanately ….

The rest of the grid just doesn't hold up. Way too many flat-out clunkers in this grid, the most glaring example being TENANTRY (37D: Renters, collectively). I almost want to give it a pass because it sounds a little British. Almost. But not quite. Then there's the first three downs in the northwest corner: SNO, PERF, and A GAL. Any one of those on its own isn't really that terrible, but putting all three of them together like that is just unforgiveable. ANIL, ENARM, DYNEL, P-TRAP. P-TRAP?!? And please don't get me started on all the abbreviations: POS, INT, IND, PERF, A MAJ, BLT, CCH. Okay, I'll give those last two a pass. BLT is almost a word on its own by now, don't you think? And CCH Pounder? She's awesome. But CCH Pounder, ROOMIE, and CAT TOY just don't have the firepower necessary to save this puzzle. Basically, this was a fabulous idea for a puzzle, but the grid should have been redone once it became clear the fill was such a mess.

  • 11A: "The Sting" number (RAG). PuzzleDaughter is learning to play the piano right now and her dad keeps requesting "The Entertainer," which she's never heard of. Shouldn't be long now though.
  • 18A: Solitude (TIME ALONE). What I wouldn't give.
  • 22A: Jack edged him out in the 1980 U.S. Open (ISAO). I like this clue. When I first talked to PuzzleHusband about how ISAO Aoki shows up in puzzles all the time, his response was something like, "Well, he's no slouch. He almost beat Jack Nicklaus at the 1980 U.S. Open, you know." (My response: "Golf nerd.")
  • 43D: Yarn or bell, e.g. (CAT TOY). Best entry in the grid.
  • 50A: Where parts of the '95 film "Higher Learning" were shot (UCLA). With the L in place, I tried YALE first.
  • 65A: Loper leader (INTER-). INTER is a prefix that can be tacked onto the beginning of the word "loper" to create the word "interloper." INTER, therefore, can be said to "lead" that word.
  • 8D: Harpsichordist's aid (LAMP). Would someone please splain this to me? It seems awfully random.
  • 52D: Soda reportedly named for a bottle size (NEHI). I did not know that.
  • 60D: Capitol Hill mover (POL). Does anyone know if our Congresspeople continue to get paid in the event of a government shutdown? Personally, I think their salaries should be the first to go, but maybe that's just me.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 22A: Jack edged him out in the 1980 U.S. Open (ISAO).
  • 63A: Sister of Thalia (ERATO).
  • 7D: Deep blue (ANIL).
  • 52D: Soda reportedly named for a bottle size (NEHI).
  • 53D: Fed (G-MAN).
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Everything Else 1A: Fictional falcon seeker (SPADE); 6A: Fictional falcon source (MALTA); 14A: Much of Israel (NEGEV); 15A: Provide with heat? (ENARM); 16A: Shaft discovery (ORE); 17A: Speak above the crowd? (ORATE); 23A: Jumbo, say (SIZE); 31A: Some time ago (ONCE); 32A: Screwball (LOON); 41A: "__, 'tis true, I have gone here and there": Sonnet 110 (ALAS); 42A: Choice word (EENY); 48A: Pole or Croat (SLAV); 58A: Radical (EXTREMIST); 59A: Bathroom sink fitting (P-TRAP); 61A: Bathroom, across the pond (LOO); 62A: Berry picked for an Emmy (HALLE); 64A: Stab (TRY); 66A: Easily colored synthetic (DYNEL); 1D: Desk globe filler? (SNO); 2D: Line to tear along: Abbr. (PERF.); 3D: "I've Got __ in Kalamazoo" (A GAL); 4D: Suspect, maybe (DETAINEE); 5D: "Given that ..." ("EVEN SO …"); 6D: Sky streaker (METEOR); 9D: It has few pips (TREY); 10D: Key of Beethoven's Sym. No. 7 (A MAJ.); 11D: Frosh assignment (ROOMIE); 12D: Ball partner (ARNAZ); 13D: Sky honkers (GEESE); 19D: Lad's sweetheart (LASS); 21D: Hammock session (NAP); 24D: Batt. terminal (POS.); 25D: NFL drive killer (INT.); 26D: Score very high on (ACE); 27D: "This is __ sudden!" (ALL SO); 28D: Motel extra (COT); 29D: Nail holder (TOE); 30D: Ill. neighbor (IND.); 34D: Data-sharing syst. (LAN); 35D: Lunch initials (BLT); 36D: __ candy (EAR); 38D: Nevertheless (YET); 39D: Time off, in mil. slang (R 'N' R); 40D: __ candy (EYE); 44D: Page-bottom directive (OVER); 45D: Polish goal (LUSTER); 46D: "The Shield" actress __ Pounder (CCH); 47D: Made hasty altar plans (ELOPED); 48D: Broke down, in a way (SPELT); 49D: Pyramid-shaped Vegas hotel (LUXOR); 54D: Happy tune (LILT); 55D: Crow's-nest sighting (ISLE); 56D: Afghanistan neighbor (IRAN); 57D: Thames gallery (TATE).


SethG said...

Tenantry, P-trap, Dynel. The other bad stuff wasn't great, but all of these in one corner? How was that corner allowed to exist?

Also, [Bathroom, across the pond] is a weird clue in a puzzle where the whole conceit is that you're across the pond. Across the pond from across the pond is...here. And SPELT was clued without a reference, and not as just the grain.

I don't understand.

StudioCitySteve said...

What @PG and @SethG said. I'm actually "across the pond" in London as we speak, and I was also thinking "Bathroom Double-Bluff" for LOO - I really wanted it to be JOHN or similar.

The one that bugged me was ELOPED - the literalist in me says you can't get married in church if you elope, therefore there are no "altar" plans, you're stuck with a civic ceremony in the courthouse. But that's just me.

Re: yesterday, next time I want to raise a ruckus about porridge, I'll check on Google first, but the nursery rhyme in England is "Pease Pudding", and I'm guessing the "porridge" version is a US derivative that I'd not been previously aware. So apologies for causing a stir, my defense/defence is pond-crossing.

Mari said...

Didn't like this theme. To me, "practise", "tyre", "pyjamas" and "centre" are misspelled words.

Anonymous said...

Congress is paid during a shutdown. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has proposed a bill to cut off Congressional pay during a shutdown. Good for her.

Sfingi said...

Despite seeing the theme was British, HTG for ISAO (sports), LUXOR (non-heat and non-gambling bloke), AMAJ. But also MALTA! Even while I'm saying to myself "Maltese."
And couldn't think what they called those TYRES (I had that word) with metal wires in them.

After a few writeovers: pushup before ROOMIE, huge before SIZE, teaL before ANIL - finally finished.

But - what is INT? Interference?
What is SPELT? Thought it was a grain. What is P TRAP? Plumbing trap?

Mini-theme: A GAL, LASS.

Part of theme: LOO.

@PG - If you own that children's book by the Parrishes, it's worth a bit.

I'm not wild about Britishisms. We won that war.

Avg Joe said...

I enjoyed this puzzle. It took at least half an hour to solve and had several erasures, but it was still fun. Tried Loco for LOON, didn't know if polish meant to buff something or the country, liked the double clue for Eye and Ear candy. Had never heard of CCH or DYNEL, but got them both.

P Trap is a perfectly legit clue, IMO. It's part of the drain line from a sink or lavatory and pretty much everyone has seen them, even if they don't know what they're called. They are shaped like the letter P. There is also a counterpart that is shaped differently, called a J Trap.

Anonymous said...

INT = interception.

Spelt & Ptrap are just plain should be flushed in the loo.

erici said...

i look at this blog all of the time but never comment - i love it! I hated this puzzle and see that not everyone else loved it either. Good! INT, i figured, was abbreviated for INTERCEPTION - causing your football drive to stall out. I was also put out by "eloped".

*David* said...

I struggled with this puzzle and I realize it was the fill. Got the theme only at the end and by then I was pretty irritated so didn't appeciate it as much as I could've. I can't get rid of the bad aftertaste.

backbiter said...

I can't agree with you PG. The theme was kinda crap. No it was wasn't kinda, it just was. I liked Luxor, but I'm biased. I've stayed there a time or three. I'd like to see a Vegas hotel/casino theme sometime. That would be cool.



syndy said...

So now misspelling is a theme?liked the erato at se balanced by orate in nw;cattoy-disliked everything else!How is "given that" EVENSO?what does the lamp do?Was this grid laid out to be ugly or did the yuck fill define the grid?

C said...

I liked the theme, English/Canadian spellings for common words, nice subtle theme brought together with the cue ball clue.

With that said, there were a lot of head scratchers in this puzzle. TENANTRY is an, er, interesting word. I originally had SMELT for SPELT which made things interesting for a short time.

Ron W. said...

wow that was a pretty ugly puzzle dont care for silly misspellings particularly allso sudden had all to sudden first. allso oops also bell as a cat toy is ludicrous because when you put the bell around the cats neck it gives away its stealthy ability. puzzle authors of italian descent mr.gagliardo should avoid things from across the pond in england

CarolC said...

Piling on, RNR - really? Could see R AND R although I don't like those kind of answers or even R&R.

My sister is a harpsichordist. If she has a piece memorized, she could play it in a dark room, but why? My mom is an organist and with failing eyesight does require a lamp in addition to the illumination in the choir loft, but so what? Yep, @PG, LAMP is really, really random!!!

Anonymous said...

"Broke down, in a way" as in "spelled out". Spelt out.

I'm not saying it was an elegant clue, but not terrible.

HumbleBrit said...

I have no comments to make about the xword, but I DO have comments to make to Sfingi - this is not the place to spout off with your anti-Brit sentiments and clap-trap about past wars you participated in - below are a few facts about WW2 for you to read and ingest - and in future keep your Anglophobic/racist comments off this blogger and respect the page for what it is - crossword comments..!!!

1). Yes the US entered the E.T.O. but ONLY after the Germans and Italians had been beaten in North Africa by a combined British and Commonwealth AND US army.The Torch Landings brought the US into North Africa but the US contribution to beating Rommel there was at best negligible - look up Kasserine Pass my friend LOL.
As for the P.T.O. do not ever discount the contribution in that campaign made by British and Commonwealth troops such as the Aussies , the Kiwis , the Indians and Gurkhas.If you do this you do these brave people a great disservice.By all means spout your anti-Brit rhetoric but honour these true heroes !
Errol Flynn and John Wayne were not there alone you know !
2.No-one has ever claimed that the Soviets would have single-handedly beaten Hitler.In fact the only people claiming a solo victory during WW2 are the Americans born decades AFTER the war.
The vast majority of Hitlers elite troops were on the Ost Front until shortly before D-Day and apart from a few divisions of crack troops what we mostly faced in Normandy were second-class soldiers at best - Russians ,Ukraines etc. and soldiers recovering from the Eastern campaign.
As for D-Day - ALL the British and Commonwealth forces plus Free French troops landed on the correct beaches ALL THREE of them ,the majority of the US soldiers failed to even FIND theirs and so got bogged down for most of the first day.
Our pathfinders landed HOURS before any Americans ,in the correct locations , a large number of the Americans laned in flooded fields or over a certain Norman town that was on fire due to AMERICAN incendiaries.
Moscow was close BUT like Napoleon before him Hitler failed to conquer Russia and like the Frogs was defeated by General Winter.
3.As stated it was Churchill that foresaw the threat of Stalins Russia NOT the USA.
It was Churchill that spoke out against handing Poland over to Russia.
It was Churchill that coined the term "Iron Curtain".

We don`t deny that without US help we may not have beaten Hitler but answer me this my ignorant Yank "friend", when was the last time an American army ever won a war alone?

PuzzleGirl said...

@HumbleBrit: I'm pretty sure sfingi was talking about the American Revolutionary War, but I appreciate your comments and agree that sfingi does something use off-the-cuff remarks that can be quite offensive.

Jacques Cousteau said...

How about an anti-French slur by the understanding Brit?! Your argument has been compromised and any sympathy for your cause has been negated.

Anonymous said...

I am also completely baffled by the harpsichordist/LAMP clue. If someone can shed some light (hee!), that would be really appreciated.

Anoa Bob said...

I'm a pool player, so I liked the theme. In the U.S.A we use the term "English" to denote putting spin on the cue ball. The English were the first to put a leather tip on the end of the wood cue stick and to use chalk on the tip. This provided way more friction between the cue tip and the cue ball, making it possible to hit the cue ball off-center (See PG's diagram) and give it spin without the tip glancing off or miscuing.

Ironically, the English call it "putting side" on the cue ball.

The fill is less than stellar. With 42(!) black squares, there's gonna be a lot of 3's and 4's. I think this is another example of the compromise that often happens in fill quality when there's a premium on high theme density.

JT said...

I liked the theme, but half my family is Canadian so I'm used to their spelling. I, too, am baffled by the clue for "spelt" and the harpsichord/lamp connection.

Rex Parker said...

Painful. Just painful. And not just in the theme.

I love the absurdly offended Brit, though. More of that.

Sfingi said...

@HumbleBrit - I was referring to the American Revolution, loon. And I didn't know the Brits were a race.

I'm also still fighting the Civil War, and "we" won that one, too, reb.

@Ron W - I imagined the cat's bell to be one of those small, round decorative ones, about the size of a thimble, that they do like to chase.

@PG Wow!

StudioCitySteve said...

Oh! Fight! Fight!

@HumbleBrit - I read @Sfingi's comment and laughed - obviously not a WWII reference, but the War of Independence. Nice barb, and taken in the right spirit.

As you've bothered to lay out a diatribe on the ETO operations, I'd like to point you in the direction of a number of histories of the campaign, all of which show that Montgomerey's leadership (or lack of it) cost tens of thousands of British, Canadian and US casualties. Even Churchill realized that he should be relieved of his duties, but feared to do so because of the damage to British morale at the time.

"Monty" then proceeded to plan and execute the ill-fated "Market Garden" campaign that ended in tragedy ay Arnhem, left the Allies with a salient to nowhere that they had to defend, and stopped Patton's drive to cross the Rhein as his fuel and ammunition supplies were diverted to support Montgomery's egocentric effort.

OK, rant over. Sorry to waste your timw with this but some things need to be said.

@PG - feel free to delete this.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Well, sometimes she deletes CAPS LOCK comments.

Anonymous said...

lol i didn't know that. wont happen again, but still luv her and her site. and i heart you too.

Avg Joe said...

This seems like an ideal time for a Singalong break. :-)

badams52 said...

Generally liked the puzzle and didn't quabble much about the fill except for spelt. Had no idea what a PTrap or a Dynel is, but I often don't know words in a cword puzzle.

Had no hangups on the "Higher Learning" local clue. As my brother noted (a UCLA alum): any film about college often uses UCLA as a filming location given its standard college campus look and it proximity to Hollywood.

CrazyCatLady said...

I'm really enjoying these comments. There hasn't been a fight here since JNH and Tinbeni disappeared. I'm on @Sfingi's side.

I did this puzzle at 3:30 am this morning in my PYJAMAS, enjoying a little TIME ALONE. It put me back to sleep. I was annoyed by the usual suspects: PERF, LAMP, DYNEL, P TRAP and SPELT (had SMELT). I don't know what EAR candy is. Can someone please explain 9D TREY - It has a few pips?

TATE, LOO and TENENTRY sound pretty British too. I'm wondering if TENENTRY refers to feudal tenants?

@Avg Joe Loved your "sing-along." : )

CrazyCatLady said...

That would be TENANTRY - I'm so tired...

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing ear candy is a song and pips refers to cards as three of hearts

Avg Joe Pia Fan said...

Off topic comment, but one I feel strongly about. For those that follow American Idol, a huge injustice was done this evening.

Pia was kicked out. Proof that we have reached the end of all reason in this country. That's just plain wrong!!

Margaret said...

@crazycatlady, I've been wondering about the lack of comments from JNH and tinbeni as well, but was afraid I might be bringing up a sore subject! I prefer it when the comments stay nice. Also when they stay on topic, so I'll sign off now.

CrazyCatLady said...

@spoiler Avg Joe - Idol isn't on here for another half hour!

@Margaret I have no idea what happened to those guys, but here are my conspiracy theories:

Rex VITO Parker had his GOONS OFF them.

Andy AKA Tinbeni went to the SSRS with those NO-GOODNIKS, Boris and Natasha on a mission for Fearless Leader.

JNH went to Palm Springs on RTE 66 and had too many MAI TAIS around the pool. Or.....

The lovely and patient Puzzle Girl kicked them off her blog.

Anoa Bob said...

CrazyCatLady, the marks on the ace through the ten in the standard poker 52-card deck are sometimes (actually rarely) called pips. They are in the shape of hearts, diamonds, spades or clubs. The ace has one pip, the two two, and so on.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Anoa Bob Thank you. I was stuck on Gladys Knight.

Greg said...

Theme was great, rest of the puzzle, D+ grade.

Too many obscure abbreviations, poorly worded clues, etc. SPELT? PTRAP? PERF? CCH? ERATO?

I liked CAT TOY (although I hate cats), METEOR (which are cool), and LUXOR (famous enough IMO). But too many obscure answers, especially in a grid full of black boxes.

Anonymous said...

So happy to know I wasn't the only one in the dark--obviously I needed a harpsichordist's lamp! CCH threw me, though I got it, as did the ptrap (arrived at only after I realized that the down clue was pol, not sol--as in solon). The pips were NOT the pips for me, and I finally had to look up trey--wondering what it could be besides a three???
I'll be checking this site out after every teeth-gnashing puzzle from now on.