07.06 Wed

July 6, 2011
Gareth Bain

Theme: Snap, Crackle …. — Each theme answer is a familiar phrase that ends with something that can be "popped."

Theme answers:

  • 17A: "Will you marry me?" is one (YES-OR-NO QUESTION).
  • 32A: Steak au poivre flavoring (PEPPERCORN).
  • 41A: Administrative area on Ireland's south coast (COUNTY CORK).
  • 59A: Bit of wedding toast effervescence (CHAMPAGNE BUBBLE).
  • 45D: Asked, burst open, extracted, or broke, as the ends of this puzzle's four longest answers (POPPED).
This is the kind of theme that always throws me for a loop. And every time I see one of these, I think to myself "I should go look for the reveal first. That will help me." But then I ignore my own advice. So I kind of plod my way through it, not really understanding what's going on, but knowing it will all come together eventually. Wait, did I say plodding? That's not fair at all. This one didn't feel like plodding. I actually jumped around quite a bit because I kept getting stuck. Not stuck like, "Oh crap. I'm never going to be able to finish this puzzle." More like, "I don't know this answer and I'm kinda lazy, so I'm gonna go find one I do know." The cool thing about this theme is that each theme answer is "popped" in a different way, which I probably don't really need to point out because the clue for the reveal made that clear, but whatever. Just call me Captain Obvious.

I noticed quite a bit of crosswordese in this grid, but I had enough of those little "stuck" moments, that the foothold I would get from an easy one was welcome. This grid is also full of awesome though. Highlights for me include:
  • 20A: Play flawlessly on the green (ONE-PUTT). I love that this is a verb.
  • 53A: Bit of moral fiber (SCRUPLE). No, you never really see a reference to just one. That's what makes it so amusing.
  • 24D: Old English epic poem (BEOWULF). Just yesterday, I was thinking about some of the reading I did in college. Now that it's been a hundred years, I'm thinking some of that stuff probably deserves another look.
  • 1A: English horn, e.g. (REED). See now, this makes no sense. I see "English horn" and, like most reasonable people, assume it will look a lot like a French horn. But no! It's practically an oboe! Very confusing!
  • 21A: Gets ready for market, as livestock (FATTENS). I just started a very serious weight-loss program a couple weeks ago that's going really well so far. Let's just say I've felt ready for market for way too long.
  • 47A: __ anglais: English horn (COR). Hey look. Another thing that doesn't make any sense about this instrument. If it's an English horn, why does it have a French (French!) name? Huh?!? I demand answers!
  • 62A: Reason to warn boaters (GALE). Oh my God, too funny. I misread this clue as "Reason to WARM boaters," and was all, "Why would you need to warm up a pair of shoes?"
  • 66A: Wilson of "Drillbit Taylor" (OWEN). Thank goodness I knew OWEN Wilson because the "Drillbit Taylor" part of this clue was completely useless.
  • 8D: Bordeaux ball team? (NEUF). Interesting. I'd never really thought about how in general if a person says "ball," they mean "baseball." Obviously, that's not true for every person. Lebron James probably means something else when he says it, but in general our culture has plenty of well-known phrases where my theory holds: play ball, take me out to the ballgame … okay, I can't think of any more.
  • 29D: Po' boy relative (HERO). It is apparently sandwich week here at the LAT puzzle.
  • 36D: "Peanuts" fussbudget (LUCY). Fussbudget is an awesome word.
  • 41D: "Cheers" barmaid (CARLA). I can never remember if her name is spelled with a C or a K.
  • 54D: Mother of Chaz (CHER). Honestly had no idea who "Chaz" was until I had filled this out via crosses. He's CHER's son, who if you're around my age you remember as an adorable little girl.
I'm dropping the PuzzleKids off at camp kinda early this week so [10D: "I'm OUTTA here!": "Bye!"].

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 14A: Old apple treatment (ALAR).
  • 15A: Gaelic tongue (ERSE).
  • 27A: Big pitcher (EWER).
  • 39A: Orenburg's river (URAL).
  • 2D: 2010 tennis retiree Dementieva (ELENA).
  • 11D: Comic strip dog (ODIE).
  • 30D: Ice cream thickener (AGAR).
  • 58D: River to the Mediterranean (EBRO).
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Everything Else 5A: No Doubt lead singer Stefani (GWEN); 9A: Hard stuff (BOOZE); 16A: Part of A/V (AUDIO); 22A: "Stillmatic" rapper (NAS); 23A: Commoner (PLEB); 25A: 4:00 English drink (TEA); 26A: Levi's alternative (LEE); 29A: General Arnold of WWII (HAP); 36A: Danish toy brand (LEGO); 37A: Sacha Baron Cohen alter ego (ALI G); 38A: See red? (OWE); 40A: Elizabeth of "Jacob's Ladder" (PEÑA); 44A: Street sign abbr. (AVE.); 45A: Shroud of gloom (PALL); 46A: Much (WAY); 48A: Fall short (FAIL); 50A: GI entertainers (USO); 57A: Skateboarder's wear (KNEEPAD); 63A: Caramel candy brand (ROLO); 64A: Pollster's find (TREND); 65A: Sardine's cousin (SHAD); 1D: Lustrous synthetic (RAYON); 3D: Alleviates (EASES); 4D: Pearl __ earring (DROP); 5D: Less violent (GENTLER); 6D: Authored (WROTE); 7D: Lawyer's letters (ESQ.); 9D: Turkey-roasting tool (BASTER); 12D: Mount sacred to Judaism (ZION); 13D: Geologic periods (EONS); 18D: Indian capital (RUPEE); 19D: Unlike leftovers (EATEN); 26D: Org. for Paula Creamer (LPGA); 28D: Birdhouse songbird (WREN); 31D: Mexican War president (POLK); 32D: Bear with a hard bed (PAPA); 33D: Mountain sign no. (ELEV.); 34D: Turpentine source (PINE); 35D: Not nerdy (COOL); 42D: Hotel room choice (TWIN BED); 43D: New Eng. school since 1701 (YALE U.); 47D: Curry flavoring (CUMIN); 49D: "The Jungle Book" pack leader (AKELA); 50D: Violin stroke (UPBOW); 51D: Hótel room (SALLE); 52D: Cineplex name (ODEON); 53D: Gibberish singing style (SCAT); 55D: A bit beyond raw (RARE); 56D: Breakfast order (EGGS); 60D: Slangy dismissal (NAH).


Anonymous said...

Hrm... Iggy Pop, pop-tart, Poppa Hemingway, Popeye, and pop-art. Dandy.

This one felt hard for a Wed. - I had to really scrabble at it (in a "clawing with fingernails way" rather than a "play with wooden tiles" way) to finish.

Conrad said...

Ha! I had the exact reaction to "fussbudget"! Then I had to explain it to my coworkers...
Also: Mmm... sandwich week...

Rojo said...

I kept thinking, "why is Iggy Stooge up at the top of the post?"

D'oh! Iggy Pop, I get it. I still think of him as Iggy Stooge.

I found this kind of difficult for a Wednesday as well, with ONE-PUTT in particular throwing for a loop. Can someone fill me in on ALIG? Is that Borat's first name? Got that only through the crosswordese of LPGA

Also, did not know that Turpentine comes from PINE.

Also also, only got NEUF through crosses and only figured out what it actually meant through PG's post.

RUPEE, NAS, and COUNTY CORK were all pleasing to me because they came to me from non-crossword knowledge. Although NAS is beginning to become crosswordese in his own right at this point. All to the good I suppose, his "Illmatic" album is very, very good, imho. I'm still looking forward to the day when I can fill in "ILLMATIC" into the grid!

Sfingi said...

@PG - Lord, he's ugly. How come you no longer have a title for these pictures when I click on them?

HTG for PENA, ALIG AKELA and ODEON. I guess ODEONs are in England?

Personal Natick at ALIG, PENA and LPGA (sports).

I was at an Irish fair once where they sold caps with the name of the county your ancestor came from. I passed, since all the cap would have had on it was "DOWN."

Anonymous said...

7/6/11 crossword: "neuf" is French for "nine," so, Bordeaux being a French city, a baseball team could be referred to as "neuf." Mimi

Pete said...

The fact that LILA CHERRY wasn't a theme answer makes this an epic fail in my mind.

Steve said...

@Sfingi - Yup - Odeon is a chain of cinemas in the UK, the Odeon Leicester Square in London is where most of the big premieres are held.

Also - what does Natick mean in your posts? Keep meaning to ask ...

The NEUF thing is a - hmmmmmmm - for me - I hear "ball club", but not "ball team" on ESPN and the like. I thought it was a poor play on words for nerfball which didn't make a lot of sense.

I had SALon for SALLE first that gave me a little trouble in the Florida section, but fixed that.

@Rojo - ALI G was Cohen's first alter ego - he was a Pakistani minority radio talk show host inthe UK and managed to get interviews with politicians and other major figures who had no idea that Cohen was playing them up - much like the Borat character in the movie.

*David* said...

I found this one to be chockful of crosswordese which made it easy to finish with minimal amount of resistance. Liked the golf and tennis references. Chaz has been big in the news with her sex operation and interviews of what it all means.

Steve said...

@Pete - just saw your comment after I posted mine - hilarious, COTD for me :)

CP said...

Perfect Wednesday puzzle. Took awhile to get POLK and COUNTY CORK, but just right, nice theme, decent filler. ODIE was yet another crosswordese that could have been squeezed into yesterday's doggie puzzle.

Tuttle said...

Does Bordeaux have a baseball team? No. It's just not played in Aquitaine.

A Bordeaux ball team would be an onze or a quinze depending on wether you're talking about their soccer club or their rugby side.

Pete said...

@Steve - Some time ago Rex Parker created the Natick Principle - Crossings of two proper nouns where less that 1/4 of the people would likely know either one is unfair. I think it was NATICK crossing NCWEYTH at the C. It's devolved to mean any crossing where the solver didn't know, and didn't think they should necessarily know, either of the answers.

PS - In case you don't know, LILA CHERRY is a pseudonym of Rich Norris's when he publishes his own puzzle. It anagrams to Really Rich.

C said...

I liked today's puzzle. Good answers that have sparked some interesting comments, an interesting blog post, all from some interesting people. Ergo, per Bugs Bunny, good crossword answers are like monsters, interesting.

Illmatic is an excellent album, I got your back @Rojo.

Rube said...

Good humor and background info in the write-up and comments today.

Lots of things I didn't know today -- rare for a Wednesday -- NAS, Chaz, ALIG, CARLA, GWEN, PENA and Iggy Pop. All pop culture stuff. Fortunately none crossed so was able to solve without guesses or Googles. Only writeover was SCAT/SkAT. Must remember AKELA next time.

slypett said...

And, oh, yeah, RAYON isn't a synthetic. It's made from wood fiber. That blunder gave me a hiccup in the NW.

CrazyCatLady said...

Nice enjoyable puzzle. Liked the POP theme. I had the same struggle as @Sfingi in the area of ALI G, LPGA and PENA. I forgot about the G and had ALIE which led to LPE. Had no idea who Paula Creamer was or who Linda of "Jacob's Ladder was. That was just a little too much POP culture in one place. Other than that, I sailed through. Finally googled Paula and figured out what the heck was going on.

brainylagirl said...

what Tuttle said.

RandomVisitor said...

Cam someone explain 46A "WAY" as an answer to "much" ? I seem to be missing something there. Thanks!

CoffeeLvr said...

Fun puzz, had to think a bit, but no need for outside resources. Thanks, Gareth!

@PG, I don't know Iggy Pop, but that picture got my attention. Such a strange mixture of appearing fit and dissipated.

@RandomVisitor: my neighbor's son drives WAY too fast.

Anonymous said...

Iggy Pop was on American Idol this past season where he displayed his bare leathery torso for the country to see while crooning "wild child." Put your shirt back on grandpa!

Sfingi said...

@Steve - what Pete said. For me, Naticks would generally include sports. I've memorized a few words, but I know I'll never get "into" it.
Another area I scratch my head over is young singers and actors.

Natick itself is a close-in Boston suburb. It's one of the mileposts (kiloposts?) of the Boston Marathon. Since my son has lived in Greater Boston for more that a decade, that's a yawn for me. He's moving to Los Angeles in August, so I'll be learning something new.

The Wyeths are a family of artists (and distantly related to me). N.C. was from Needham, MA.

And thanx for ODEON.

Anon234 - you're right. Some dudes in my mom's nursing Home look way better.

CrazyCatLady said...

I forgot to mention that it was weird to have both AGAR and ALAR in the same puzzle. BOOZE was fun though.

@Anon 2:34 - You're right about that Idol appearance. It was horrific.

@Sfingi - Never knew that N.C. was from MA. Just assumed he was from Chadds Ford, PA. I often drive past the late, Andy's farm when I'm back visiting my family in PA. What's bringing your son to LA?

Steve said...

@Pete and @Sfingi - thanks for the Natick explanation - now I can both sleep at night and impress my friends!

Vega said...

I know it's late and no one will read this, but:

I think the other key element of the Natick Principle is that the crossing letter in question (in this case, the N) is not inferable. _ATICK/_CWYETH could be *anything* (maybe not Q). The town could be Ratick, or Catick, or Vatick. And a first initial? Anything.

...forcing a person to guess rather than deduce. And that's no way to finish a puzzle.

Rojo said...


Oh! thanks! ALI G, not ALIG. I kept thinking it was like Oleg or Alec or something. I'm actually familiar with Ali G, but for some reason couldn't make the mental leap even after I had ALI-

Nighthawk said...

Stubbed my toe right out of the gate, thinking, confidently 1A was oboe and 1D was orlOn. The ONE PUTT and pearl DROP earring helped sort it out.

Fun post-4th theme. Some pretty fun and crunchy fill.

@RandomVisitor--"I'd give you an example, but it's WAY past my bedtime."