04.13 Wed

April 13, 2011
Michael Blake

Theme: Check, please! — The beginning of each theme answer can be a synonym for "check" (the kind you get in a restaurant).

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Unable to reach a human, no matter which buttons one presses (IN VOICEMAIL JAIL).
  • 25A: Word processor setting (TAB ALIGNMENT).
  • 42A: 1791 legislation (BILL OF RIGHTS).
  • 48A: Verify ahead of time, and a hint to what 20-, 25- and 42-Across have in common (CHECK BEFOREHAND).
Please tell me I'm not the only one who confidently entered IN VOICEMAIL HELL for the first theme answer. Except for that one mistake, this was a smooth, smooth puzzle. I started in the northwest and made my way around the grid counter-clockwise with maybe a hiccup or two along the way, but nothing major. Until I got back up to the northeast corner. The funny thing is that I literally thought to myself, "It's so funny how I can never remember which spelling of ALTAR/ALTER is the one I need," before plopping in ALTER. Which was, ya know, wrong. But with ALTER and SCOLD in place (which sure seemed right for 13D: Bawl out), the rest of that corner might as well have been Japanese (I learned back in college that's how Greek people describe something incomprehensible to them -- true story!). Good old ST.-LÔ seemed like a reasonable answer for 19A: "Battle for __": Peter Yates WWII book, it being a WWII battle site and all. That left me with *ELLE for 12D: Prove false and *ASHET for 10D: Stove nozzle. With the letters I had in place, 10A: Blabbers could have been JAWS, YAPS, and probably a few other things (GABS, maybe?). It occurred to me that 10D: Stove nozzle might be GASKET (what the hell do I know?) and that was my first inkling that I had the theme answer wrong. Erased HELL, saw my spelling mistake, finally saw BELIE and then we were in business. Whew! Tought little corner there for me today!

  • 5A: Political channel (C-SPAN). Ever watch "Newsradio"? I remember an episode where Lisa was talking about not having a TV because TV is so stupid, etc., and then she learned about C-SPAN and was completely rapt. Yay, nerd girl!
  • 17A: Titanic bane (BERG). See, this is why blogging sometime takes so long. I thought I might include a picture of the actor/director Peter BERG here. I went to college with him one year — I wasn't great friends with him or anything, but since I did know him I'm always kind of interested when I hear about his career. Anyway. I thought to myself, "Hm, I wonder if he's on Facebook. Probably not." So I went to look and found a fan page for him, spent a little time wandering around there and then saw where people had posted pictures of themselves with Peter. Of course, a few people posted pictures from college and, this is pretty funny: One of the pictures includes one of the Greek guys that taught me the whole "it's Japanese to me" thing. But my point is, the whole time I was doing that I should have been writing. And now I'm behind schedule. Oh the trials and tribulations of a crossword blogger.
  • 41A: Bed that can be stored during the day (FUTON). Or not.
  • 61A: Without (SANS). This is French (French!), but I guess it's used widely enough in English that the clue doesn't need to hint at its Frenchness.
  • 63A: White man's makeup? (SNOW). Ooh. I was once pejoratively referred to as a "snow person." Not like when I was a kid and people called me Casper because I was really really blonde and really really light-skinned. In this case it was just because I'm white. That was the first and last time I ever heard the term "snow person" used like that so I'm not saying this clue/answer pair is offensive, I'm just saying it triggered an icky memory for me.
  • 3D: Wonderful, in slang (MARV). Who says this?
  • 5D: Affectedly elegant (CHICHI).
  • 7D: Fellow suspect of Mustard (PLUM). Clue!
  • 8D: 1998 Sarah McLachlan hit (ADIA). The way I remember the Sarah McLachlan song is that I know it's like AIDA only different.
  • 33D: Sister of Meg, Jo and Amy (BETH). Little Women.
  • 45D: Birch of "American Beauty" (THORA). The only THORA I've ever heard of is the grandma on that PBS Kids show, "Arthur." It seems like an awesome name for a grandma, um, what is Arthur again? Some type of rodent. I don't remember. Anyway, it's a good name for a rodent grandma. Not so much for a beautiful young starlet. Just my opinion.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 14A: Actor Sharif (OMAR).
  • 16A: Brother of Daniel, William and Stephen (ALEC).
  • 19A: "Battle for __": Peter Yates WWII book (ST.-LÔ).
  • 55A: Skye of film (IONE).
  • 49D: Galway's land (EIRE).
  • 51D: Bassoon kin (OBOE).
  • 52D: Server's edge, in tennis (AD IN).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: Explorer Vasco da __ (GAMA); 15A: Broom rider of comics (HILDA); 18A: Alaskan native (INUIT); 23A: Highest ordinal number? (NTH); 24A: Changed course (VEERED); 31A: Ryder rival (U-HAUL); 32A: Screech owls don't make them (HOOTS); 33A: 'Hood pal (BRO); 36A: It may be put in a washer (BOLT); 37A: Bingo relative (LOTTO); 38A: Pet plaint (MEOW); 39A: Observe (EYE); 40A: First of 12 popes (PIUS I); 44A: Prison in 1971 headlines (ATTICA); 47A: Some pop-ups (ADS); 56A: Mythical weeper (NIOBE); 57A: Baking soda target (ODOR); 58A: Let go (DROP); 59A: Swashbuckling Flynn (ERROL); 60A: Mosaic piece (TILE); 62A: Type in again (REKEY); 1D: Mongolian desert (GOBI); 2D: Congregational yes (AMEN); 4D: Mythical sailor (ARGONAUT); 6D: Trig function (SINE); 9D: Hailing from (NATIVE TO); 11D: Hitching post? (ALTAR); 21D: "__ have to do" (IT'LL); 22D: Camera eye (LENS); 25D: Poster mailer (TUBE); 26D: Greeting from a deck (AHOY); 27D: Hayride seat (BALE); 28D: Grave robber (GHOUL); 29D: False (NOT SO); 30D: Theme (MOTIF); 34D: Carrot or cassava (ROOT); 35D: Has title to (OWNS); 37D: Tiny Yokum's big brother (LI'L ABNER); 38D: Pictures of perps (MUGSHOTS); 40D: Elect (PICK); 41D: Bona __ (FIDE); 42D: Curl beneficiary (BICEPS); 43D: Hardly ever (RARELY); 44D: Etching supplies (ACIDS); 46D: Mortise's mate (TENON); 50D: Driver's decision point (FORK); 53D: Court plea, for short (NOLO); 54D: Depicted (DREW).


SethG said...

Yah, it's definitely HELL.

mac said...

... and I learned I was in voicemail jail this morning when I couldn't open any of them. Restarted, and voila. Anyway, I called it voicemail fail.

gina713 said...

Took me a couple of minutes longer to solve than yesterday. The same corner was the last to fall for me as well, also having gasket. I've asked my sons what Arthur is and they both were unsure of his mammal status. I think he's some mythical creature half rat half badger.

Rex Parker said...

Oh, VOICEMAIL is one word. OK.

I wondered why INVOICE MAIL FAIL seemed so wrong.

I do not get an INVOICE at a restaurant.

If the second parts of the theme answers had all been kinds of HANDS, I'd have *loved* this puzzle.


Anonymous said...

Arthur is a bunny who represents a
little boy in children's books. He
wears glasses too I think.

Anonymous said...

Although his appearance has changed since he first was introduced many years ago by author Marc Brown, the children's book character, Arthur, is an aardvark.

Dudley said...

Arthur was a drunken man who had to marry someone he didn't know to vest in his inheritance.

Tuttle said...

CHICHI is French as well, but apparently common enough to be considered standard English even though I've never heard it used that way outside of a couple of pre-war films.

Apparently the "white man" in question is a SNOWman? Weak sauce. But not offensive... like BRO may well be.

MARV? Slang? Oi. This sort of thing reminds me of one of the most devastatingly effective words to use in Scrabble: za. Slang - once, somewhere, to somebody, apparently - for 'pizza'. I worked in the pizza industry at one time. Never once heard it referred to as 'za'. But it's in the dictionary.

Anonymous said...

With regards to white man's makeup, I thought his was a clue for a SNOW MAN (think Frosty).

Joon said...

yeah, i was definitely in IN VOICEMAIL HELL hell. and yes, arthur is an aardvark, though he more closely resembles a capybara in appearance. but looks aren't everything.

THORA birch played kevin spacey's daughter in american beauty (my second-favorite movie!), a more nuanced but less starlet-y role than the one that catapulted mena suvari to fame. (MENA, btw, is even more crossword-friendly than THORA. and she doesn't have to share the spotlight with any elderly aardvarks.)

C said...

MARV puzzle today. I didn't run into any problems while solving. My curse word filter (100% for preventing them from leaving my mouth as opposed to reading them. I like swearing a bit too much) prevented the H-E-double toothpicks entry and a quick down got me the correct word.

After reading the write-up today, I realized I missed about half the down clues and some good ones to boot.

the redanman said...

White Man's Makeup

I went to a mostly caucasian high school in southeast FL in the 1960's. We were a new school and at a track meet a guy from the northern end of the county didn't know my school's colours, came over and said "What's that school?" I told him Leonard and he said

"Oh, that's that *CHALK* school."

And so it goes, another white man's makeup.

syndy said...

Guess I've been reading Rex too much!Hands way up for invoice mail jail and how does the Handbill relate to the other answers?I just want to say ATTICA!ATTICA!

Nighthawk said...

Hand up for VOICEMAIL helL, and everything else about the NW corner @PG mentioned.

Loved the pic of golfer ChiChi Rodgriquez in his iconic Panama hat. And way cool story of Peter Berg, @PG. I'm a big fan, and waiting to see what's next after Friday Night Lights (Season 5 next in my Netfix cue!)

@Tuttle. I went to school in a town that had a pizza parlor heavily frequented by the school students called "Pizza by Charles" and referred to, nearly universally by the students, as "Chuck's Za". And "za" was the near universal term for pizza, even if it wasn't from Chuck's. But then, this was a town where the name for a sub/poboy/hoagie was a "grinder", so perhaps it was a regional thing.

I went with a group of friends once to a juke joint to hear Groove Holmes on the Hammond B3. As we entered the dimly lit smoky room, a hush fell over the crowd and I overheard one fellow lean over and whisper to his date a single word: "Frosties." A small chill, I confess, ran up my spine. But shortly, after we were seated and had a few rounds of drinks, the initial tension had just melted to nothing. A great night of juke joint dancing and general rowdy fun ensued and was enjoyed by all and Holmes really rocked that B3 till the wee hours. In the then current argot, "Just talk. Don't mean nothing."

Mokus said...

Thank you PG, Rex & syndy. I had INVOICE MAIL JAIL which fit the theme but made no sense. Your comments enlightened me and soothed my ire. During my latter work years I loved voice-mail because it allowed one to answer questions SANS chit-chat. After retirement I discovered voice-mail Hell when trying to set up Medicare, gap insurance and SS benefits. Anyway, I enjoyed the puzzle and PG's help.

Ron Worden said...

Should have connected invoicemailjail and mugshot but thought invoicemailmode at first.Never sure how lotto and bingo are related because in my state its alot easier to win at bingo then the lotto.I thought a bolt went on top of a washer not in it. where does one store a futon?
My daughter has one as her bed because she refused to make her bed every day. Now she just balls up the sheet and throws it in the closet but,the futon never goes anywhere.

Rube said...

Wanted Murphy Bed for FUTON, but it wouldn't fit. Built one of these for the wife's sewing room a few years ago, (after the nest emptied out). It's been used twice.

Didn't know there were 4 Baldwin BROs.

Love any puzzle with LIL ABNER in it. However, didn't know, or don't remember, about Tiny Yokum. Obviously a glaring hole in my education.

*David* said...

Meh nothing here that jumped out at me. TAB ALIGNMENT, yawn and INVOICE MAIL JAIL, OK if you say so.

andrea chichi michaels said...

Loved the puzzle, so many fresh clues and MARV-y write up, PG!!!

Peter Berg has a few scenes in Morgan Spurlock's new doc "The Greatest Movie Ever Made" which you will enjoy...he is such a hottie and I loved see you back in the day!!!!

You should call up Latoya who was screamed at and called Casper on the "Celebrity Apprentice" by Nene the silly goose from that
"Desperate Housewives of Hotlanta" show!

When I lived in Greece, I was taught they say "It's all Chinese to me".
Are you sure about the Japanese thing? Was the guy Greek Greek or just in a fraternity?!

MJ said...

10D/20A was the last one I finally filled-in. I KNEW that 10D was not GASKET as I do know what a gasket is & it is not any kind of nozzle. Sadly, I had to Google the clue for 20A to get the answer as the square for the "J" was where I was stumped. This is first time I've heard of INVOICE MAIL JAIL & hopefully will not soon forget this. I don't have a gas stove --so, I was stumped here, too.

CoffeeLvr said...

What is with the clue for 36A [It may be put in a washer]? You can have a washer that you slip onto a BOLT, or a washer that is integral (cf, NYT) to the BOLT. Or does this mean put a BOLT of cloth into a washing machine? I don't think a whole BOLT would fit in mine.

Oh, I get it now - you put the BOLT through (in) the hole in the washer. Trust me, this is not assembly plant usage. Once again, knowing too much proves to be the (near) undoing of the over-informed solver.

This puzzle was a lot of fun for me this afternoon. I call the experience VOICEMAIL hell.

gespenst said...

In German, they say, "Es kommt mir Spanisch vor," to essentially mean "it's all Greek to me."

Ron W. said...

To coffeelvr if the bolt goes through the washer it kinda defeats the purpose of the washer

Anonymous said...

I'm new to this and I'm wondering if someone could tell me the significance of the shaded answers, particularly the letter that is shaded red. Thanks to anyone that answers!!

Argyle said...

The last answer and the last letter filled in. It's from solving the puzzle on line.

StudioCitySteve said...

Boo. I've never had an INVOICE in a restaurant.

Got BILLOFRIGHTS and then CHECKBEFOREHAND, so was looking for LEFTS and RIGHTS.

SANS is French, should be clued as such.

MARV? No-one has ever said that.

You don't store a FUTON during the day, you sit on it. You store a Murphy bed in the wall.

What on earth does ADIN have to do with a tennis serve? Please?


Thought this was a real clunker today.

Anonymous said...

It's ad in as in advantage to the server.

Hoyt said...

I agree with Steve