05.18 Wed

May 18, 2011
Bill Thompson

Theme: Hit the Showers — Each theme answer starts with a word that can precede the word "shower" in a familiar phrase (i.e., the resulting phrases are "headed" by the word "shower.")

Theme answers:

  • 17A: 1958 Robert Mitchum drama (THUNDER ROAD).
  • 26A: Dorm room snack (COLD PIZZA).
  • 40A: '70s-'80s Haitian president, familiarly (BABY DOC DUVALIER).
  • 52A: Early spring shout (APRIL FOOL).
  • 65A: Bath fixtures, and a hint to the starts of 17-, 26-, 40- and 52-Across (SHOWER HEADS).

Starting right off with that J in the first square, I was hoping that would be a Scrabbly one, and it sure was. Okay theme — not the most exciting, but the theme answers are relatively interesting and the fill is above average. I thought for a minute that the first word of each theme answer might work with both SHOWER and HEAD to create new phrases. THUNDERHEAD is something, right? And HEAD COLD is definitely something. But obviously, those aren't consistent and the rest don't work anyway. Alas. Overall, a pleasant solve today. Nothing really to complain about except the random telephone keypad letter string MNO (30D: Letters below DEF). But hey: PORNO!

Entries that tickled my fancy today include JOB HOP (1A: Frequently change positions) and ARRIBA (70A: Speedy Gonzales cry). I actually had two little hiccups, but I don't blame the puzzle for either of them. First of all, I had PRES for PREZ, which gave me SEN instead of ZEN for [21A: Buddhist sect]. D'oh. And I'm not familiar with the terms SPITZ and POG (11D: Norwegian Elkhound, for one / 16A: Faddish '90s disc), so that P was the last letter I entered. I must have seen POG in a puzzle before, though, because it sounds vaguely familiar. Anyway, like I said, I'm not complaining about any of those entries, just pointing out where I had trouble.

  • 24A: __ au vin (COQ). More Scrabbly goodness.
  • 28A: Musical with the song "Midway Chase" (BARNUM). Can't say I've heard of this musical, but with a few crosses in place it was easy to infer.
  • 50A: Prepare for online publication (WEBIFY). I'm torn about this one. Doug and I were chatting last night and he pointed to this one as a sparkler. When I entered it, I kinda thought it was a dud, but now it's growing on me.
  • 58A: Offshore eyesore, to some (OIL RIG). Probably not a good idea to get me started on the oil companies these days.
  • 72A: Ex-Yankee Pettitte (ANDY).
  • 1D: Rocker Joan (JETT). Oh yeah.

  • 5D: Meteor tail? (-OID). I tried ITE first.
  • 54D: Like May through August, in a way (R-LESS). This has something to do with oysters. Oysters are either good to eat during R-LESS months or they're bad to eat during R-LESS months. I wouldn't eat them during any month, so it doesn't really matter to me.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 36A: Self-titled 1969 jazz album (ELLA).
  • 44A: Film lioness (ELSA).
  • 8D: Ambient music pioneer (ENO).
  • 13D: Ancient market (AGORA).
  • 29D: Sea damaged by Soviet irrigation projects (ARAL).
  • 35D: Author LeShan (EDA).
  • 63D: Winter Palace resident (TSAR).
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Everything Else 7A: Jury member (PEER); 11A: Patty Hearst's kidnappers: Abbr. (SLA); 14A: Frosted pastry (ECLAIR); 15A: "The Raven" opener (ONCE); 19A: GM had one in Nov. 2010 (IPO); 20A: Low digits (TOES); 22A: Roofing support (RAFTER); 31A: Like many eBay items (USED); 32A: Disco, for one (ERA); 33A: Photographer Adams (ANSEL); 45A: Sports (HAS ON); 46A: Sup (EAT); 47A: Clothes line? (SEAM); 57A: Beat the house (WIN); 59A: Email forwarder's intro (FYI); 61A: Idiot (TWIT); 64A: Certain artery: Abbr. (RTE.); 68A: Profs' aides (TA'S); 69A: __-kiri (HARA); 71A: Intractable beast (ASS); 73A: Empty __ (NESTER); 2D: Cinco y tres (OCHO); 3D: Chesapeake Bay delicacies (BLUE CRABS); 4D: "MMMBop" band (HANSON); 6D: Chief exec (PREZ); 7D: Dirty fare (PORNO); 9D: Hallmark.com offerings (E-CARDS); 10D: Orangutan (RED APE); 12D: "J to tha L-O!" artist (LOPEZ); 18D: __ room (REC); 23D: Brother of Raúl (FIDEL); 25D: Campus hangout (QUAD); 27D: Beauts (LULUS); 28D: Nixon confidant Rebozo (BEBE); 34D: Jerk (SCHMO); 37D: Prepare to ambush (LIE IN WAIT); 38D: Page (through) (LEAF); 39D: Pretentiously showy (ARTY); 41D: Arafat of the PLO (YASIR); 42D: Pledge (VOW); 43D: From the top (ANEW); 48D: Cuthbert of "24" (ELISHA); 49D: Knitting project (AFGHAN); 51D: Black flies, notably (BITERS); 52D: Major artery (AORTA); 53D: Deli pockets (PITAS); 55D: Right __ (OF WAY); 56D: Caustic solution (LYE); 60D: Ahmadinejad's land (IRAN); 62D: "__ safe and warm if ...": "California Dreamin'" lyric (I'D BE); 66D: Old California fort (ORD); 67D: Charlemagne's realm: Abbr. (HRE).


Mari said...

Anybody else try "ondela" for 70A?

Palamedes said...

WTF is a "POG"?

*David* said...

C'mon who doesn't remember the Pog collections, little thin circles like a cup holder with pictures on them.

I didn't like the BEBE/BARNUM crossing which I got but felt that it was a bit iffy. Lot of things to like in this puzzle like PG mentioned and lots of really ugly fill with abbreviatons that didn't.

Brian said...

@ Mair - Yes! Actually, it's "Andale!", meaning, "Let's go!" You can say, "Apurate!" to mean "Hurry up!" I don't really know why that hyper little mouse cried "Arriba"- which means UP! I always wished the cat would catch him tho'cause he got on my nerves.

Anonymous said...

Pogs were a big craze in the mid-1990s. Anyone with kids back then would know. They even had pog stores here in so cal. Started with Hawaiian milk caps and surfers I think (I'm sure someone will set me straight). Puzzle was fun, brought back old memories, Rebozo, cold pizza, Speedy Gonzales and Springsteen's song Thunder Road.

Mokus said...

I have this vague recollection that POGs were inserts in the caps of juice drinks from Hawaii. The juices included Pineapple/Orange/Grape or POG for short. The discs became collectibles for awhile and were traded by some. My favorite clue was "Sports" which isn't used much as a verb anymore, is it? I always associated it with a man sporting a beard or mustache. I put PREs in at first and PapaDoc instead of BABYDOC and Czar before TSAR but otherwise a smooth fill. I thought that it was an enjoyable puzzle.

mac said...

Nice puzzle! Started out taking too much time getting jobhop, partly because I wanted crabcakes for 3D. Hand up for -ite instead of -oid, and not knowing pog and spitz. Is that short for spitzer?

C said...

OK puzzle and my juvenile side enjoyed the PORNO answer, I made sure nobody was looking when I filled that answer into the puzzle.

POGS were a collectible mini-craze in the 90's, still traded and collected today. A simple eBay search for "pogs" returns 999 listings. If you played with your search a bit, you could pull back a lot more listings.

Rube said...

Webify, eh! Love the trend to the verbifying of nouns. Me, I just tell Word to PrintAs an html, and voila.

Never heard of SPITZ as a long-haired dog. That fact goes right next to recently learning that German Shepards are also called Alsatians. Knew Mark SPitz as the spokesman for Major Pools. What you say? They made above ground swimming pools and went out of business almost as fast as Mark Spitz.

Nighthawk said...

I really liked the playfulness of your thinking about the theme, @PG. And why NOT have that double? PIZZA head (like a Cheesehead Packer backer?), head DOC, head FOOL. Sure, they all don't zing, but still a nice lagniappe.

Like JOBHOP, I bounced around to fill this one. It really had a sort of devil-may-care fraternity party feel to it, like being re-cycled through college over and over. COLD PIZZA, the QUAD, swinging from the RAFTER. Misread 16A at first as a '70's disc and thought of a Swingin' Medallion(s) with a Nerhu jacket. ARRIBA! (had AIyiyi at first). TAS, SCHMO and TWIT.
And a topping of Joan JETT and the Mamas and Papas. Glad I survived my time relatively unscathed.

Filling BABY DOC DUVALIER just from the B down in BEBE Rebozo made me shudder, and, speak of the devil, think of "PREZ for life" Papa and the brutality of the TonTon Macoutes.

Loved THUNDER ROAD. More devilishness, again, in the chorus of the ballad theme song:
"It was thunder, thunder
Over thunder road.
Thunder was his engine
and white lighting was his load.
There was moonshine, moonshine
to quench the devil's thirst.
The law they swore they'd get him
But the devil got him first."

In the news: RIP Harmon Killebrew. 11th all time in homers and 2nd in the league, tied with the Bambino. Symbol for MLB's logo.

hebow44 said...

I had Lay in wait for 37 down. Are lay and lie interchangeable, or are my limited grammar skills hampering me again? Fun puzzle, but Job hop still doesn't look right. Seam was my last entry as I wanted the answer to be a line of clothing .... Duh!

mac said...

@hebow44: oddly enough English major husband I just talked about that a few days ago. You lay something or someone, and lie yourself, I claimed. Please, someone, confirm!

Sfingi said...

One time I had to pick up the head of the Mexican section of MDS at the airport and I had my small son with me, somewhere around 6 yrs. old. The fellow asked him if he knew any other Mexicans. He said, "Yes, Speedy Gonzalez."

Is Sade pictured because she won the Ella Fitzgerald Award?

Me, too, for "ite" instead of OID. Didn't know Orangutan was called a RED APE.

Anonymous said...

To recline down : lie,lay,have lain
To place down :lay,laid,have laid


hebow44 said...

It would appear Mac that this Anonymous person has it on good authority that Lay and Lie are interchangeable ... as the answer to this puzzle would show. Or you could always use Lay and never have to worry. Perhaps a puzzle theme. Lay/Lie, Stay/Stye, Gay/Guy etc.

chipie said...

@hebow44: it can be either, but the tense is different --

lie in wait = present tense
lay in wait = past tense ("the stalker lay in wait for two weeks")