07.14 Thu

July 14, 2011
Jeff Chen

Theme: Conspiracy Theory — UFOs are hidden in the theme answers — just like at Area 51!

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Continental alliance's intl. strategy (E.U. FOREIGN POLICY).
  • 25A: Treat thicker than the original (DOUBLE STUF OREO).
  • 43A: Toyota RAV4 competitor (SUBARU FORESTER).
  • 57A: Complaint after a reluctant act (YOU FORCED MY HAND).
  • 64A: You can find one in the four longest puzzle answers, even if you don't believe (UFO).
First of all, I just need to get this out of the way: JEFF CHEN IS MY HERO. I've been trying for several years now to lobby any number of well-known puzzle constructors to put Iowa wrestling legend DAN GABLE in a grid. The most common response I get to that request is, "Um … who?" So I haven't exactly accomplished my goal there, but today … TODAY — look what we have at 50-Down: Midwest university with 23 team wrestling championships. That's right: IOWA. Go Hawks! Now I'm not going to sit here and pretend that the Hawkeyes' 23 titles is a record. It's not. Oklahoma State actually has 34. They clearly dominated college wrestling right up until 1975, when Iowa won its very first national championship. Since then, the Cowboys have won nine national tournaments to the Hawkeyes' 23. It's just a matter of time is what I'm saying. (Yes, that picture is the actual shirt I was wearing when I solved this puzzle.)

I could go on and on (just ask my friends), but I won't put you through that. Just know that I am so so delighted to see Iowa's wrestling team in a mainstream puzzle. Thank you, Jeff and Rich!

So, is there anything else in the puzzle worth talking about? Hmmmm. This is a cute idea for a theme, but I'll tell you what I don't like about it (because that's just how I am). It's not just the letter string UFO that's hidden in each theme answer. Every single one of the phrases contains UFORE. I actually noticed that at some point and wondered what the heck the theme could be. So points off for that. Adding points for the letters UFO breaking across two words. And a couple more for three lively theme answers (I'll leave it to you to decide which one could use some work). And then, well, about a gazillion points for including IOWA wrestling! (Did I mention that I'm super psyched about that?!?)

  • 6A: Tarboosh : Arabic :: __ : Turkish (FEZ). Tarboosh and FEZ are both really cool names for hats. (The point of that sentence was to let you know that I think the words are cool — not that I didn't think you knew they were hats.)
  • 9A: When bulls crow? (BOOMS). I typically like tricky clues but I think this one is just over-the-top. I can appreciate that some people will like it, but for me? Too too. (It's a stock market reference, for those of you still struggling to figure it out. Took me a while too.)
  • 21A: Drops a pop (ERRS). Not like a soda pop, but a pop-up ball. That's in a baseball game, for you sports-challenged folks.
  • 24A: E or G, e.g. (NOTE). See now this tricky clue I like.
  • 38A: Covered in goo (GUNKY). It's been kind of a GUNKY, goopy, oozy kind of week here at the LAT, hasn't it? See also 62A: Moved like goo (OOZED).
  • 61A: Canada's smallest prov. (P.E.I.). That's Prince Edward Island.
  • 3D: Player's piano? (SOFT). The word "piano" on a music score means "soft." I believe the piano (the instrument) was originally called the pianoforte — "piano" meaning "soft" and "forte" meaning "loud." The fact that it could be played softly and loudly was a new thing. Up to that point, people were playing harpsichords which stayed at the same volume no matter how hard they tried. (If I got any of that wrong, please feel free to jump in. That was just off the top of my head.)
  • 35D: Batik artist (DYER). I think this was included just to reinforce what you learned yesterday about batik.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 2D: __ lily (ARUM).
  • 18D: Beach bird (ERNE).
  • 26D: Great Plains natives (OTOES).
  • 30D: Dadaist Max (ERNST).
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Everything Else 1A: Medea's husband (JASON); 14A: Utah County seat (PROVO); 15A: Obit number (AGE); 16A: Hamilton of "The Terminator" (LINDA); 20A: Prime meridian hrs. (GMT); 22A: Otolaryngologist's diagnosis (OTITIS); 23A: "Richard III" star McKellen (IAN); 32A: Bluesy Waters (ETHEL); 33A: Resistance units (OHMS); 34A: "Outstanding!" ("RAD!"); 36A: Looking displeased (POUTY); 37A: 50-50, say (TIE); 40A: Allotment word (PER); 41A: Rabbit's title (BR'ER); 42A: Actor Davis (OSSIE); 47A: Two-time Indy 500 champ Luyendyk (ARIE); 48A: Old boat-steering tool (OAR); 49A: Yes or no follower (SIRREE); 52A: Askew view (BIAS); 54A: Storm of the '90s (GEO); 60A: Slop (SWILL); 63A: Country's Tucker (TANYA); 65A: Draws closer (NEARS); 1D: File format for pics (JPEG); 4D: Ab __: from the start (OVO); 5D: "Seriously!" ("NO REALLY!"); 6D: Not foul (FAIR); 7D: Clutch contents (EGGS); 8D: Path to enlightenment (ZEN); 9D: Smashed (BLOTTO); 10D: Slicker (OILIER); 11D: Taking care of business (ON IT); 12D: Year when "Hamlet" is believed to have been completed (MDCI); 13D: Remarks (SAYS); 19D: Vanishing sounds (POOFS); 23D: "Doubtful" ("I BET"); 24D: Dígito (NUMERO); 25D: He played Dillinger in "Public Enemies" (2009) (DEPP); 27D: Swahili for "freedom" (UHURU); 28D: "Got that right!" ("SO TRUE!"); 29D: One taking things wrong? (THIEF); 31D: Jack of "The Great Dictator" (OAKIE); 38D: Show leniency toward (GO EASY ON); 39D: Red letters? (USSR); 41D: Prickly shrub (BRIER); 44D: Person sometimes 9-Down (BARFLY); 45D: Biological ring (AREOLA); 46D: Gallivant (ROAM); 49D: Part of DOS: Abbr. (SYST.); 51D: Bollix up (RUIN); 52D: Grievance (BEEF); 53D: Peculiar: Pref. (IDIO-); 54D: Strip under duress? (GAZA); 55D: Cabinet dept. since 1977 (ENER.); 56D: Numbers on horses (ODDS); 58D: PC core (CPU); 59D: Soil-moving tool (HOE).


Pete said...

I don't know, but any time you drop a pop would be an error. I err when I drop a can of soda, when I drop my dear old dad while carrying him, pretty much ever context I can think of. All this to never give solace to the sports haters.

Rojo said...

I actually quite like the theme, but maybe that was partly because I was feeling a bit hopeless until I got down to 64a and that jump-started the solving of the long answers, particularly as I really, really wanted DOUBLE STUFF OREOS, as I was not aware of the corporate brand misspelling involved in that product (Can I mention that I'm one of those curmudgeons that hates cutesie brand misspellings?)

Wanted Bluesy Waters to be MUDDY, not ETHEL (never heard of ETHEL Waters), and that caused some problems for me as well.

Sorry to bring politics into it, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the cluing for 54d, GAZA, as "Strip under duress?". I had emailed the LA Times a some weeks or months ago complaining about a clue/answer that I thought was Israel-friendly to the point of being factually inaccurate. I imagine that those invested in the Israeli narrative will likely be less pleased with this GAZA clue.

Things I learned: a FEZ is a Tarboosh! Jack OAKIE was in The Great Dictator (who did he play?).

Let's see, what else? Oh yeah, I wanted BEEF, grievance, to be BONE, as in BONE to pick, which would have been a great clue/answer. And I have decided that I don't like Roman numeral year answers, as I always have to get them through crosses, even if the letter choices are necessarily limited. Math Roman numeral clues don't bother me, on the other hand. Oh, and finally, did not like the cluing for SIRREE, I don't think I've ever heard "no sirree," and the colloquial spelling of "sirree" strikes me as debatable.

Mari said...

Rojo - I had to erase "Muddy" from my grid on 32A.

I was bamboozled by Player's Piano and One taking things wrong - though I liked the latter once I figured it ot.

mac said...

Well, I liked it fine, yes sirree!
Knew you would be happy, PG!

Rojo said...

Mari reminds me that I wanted to mention that PG's summary discussion of the pianoforte (the "softloud") is entirely correct as far as I understand.

...since PG invited disagreement.

Rojo said...

Oh, and one more thing.

Bollix up does not mean RUIN.

One can bollix things up and they can still be salvageable, yes? Hence, not ruined.

slypett said...

Since no one's mentioned it, I'll point out the superb abbreviation ENER! It's so far superior to any other abbreviation I've ever seen that I've entered it in my scrapbook of absolute gems.

slypett said...

Forgot to click the follow-up box.

Joon said...

ha ha. when i saw the IOWA clue, i actually thought, "this is the basest pandering to a blogger that i've ever seen in a newspaper crossword." well done jeff!

and PG, i also thought the theme was FORE until i got to YOU FORCED MY HAND, which does not contain the E. but they do all have UFOR. that's slightly inelegant. also, YOU FORCED MY HAND is, well, pretty forced as spoken expressions go. other than that, peppy puzzle. i thought the cluing today was especially lively.

Gareth Bain said...

Extra smiles for your write up today. Fun puzzle too. Colourful phrases. Double stuf oreos is a delicious crossword in joke. First flavour i ever ate, all of two years ago... Local romany creams are far superior imo! (but not as nice as those aussie mint biscuits, i digress). Rojo, also had muddy, but not for long. No idea about who ethel is...

Gareth Bain said...

Joon ditto on clue for iowa

*David* said...

I knew 50D thanks to PG's incessant discussion of Hawkeyes wrestling, I popped that sucker in without a second thought.

Made a couple of mistakes that started me off slow with SEGO as my lily and thinking AGA instead of FEZ. It seemed like there was more erasing then usual which slowed my time on a puzzle that looking back, seemed a lot easier, must've been the cluing.

Sfingi said...

@PG - Thanx for explaining BOOMS>

Before I could even get started, HTG for almost every proper noun: LINDA, IAN, DEPP, ARIE, IOWA, ENER, OAKIE - but also FEZ, OVO.

Thought about echOS before POOFS for vanishing sound, and Muddy before ETHEL.

Didn't even know Drop a Pop was a sports clue.

For once, the common, bottom theme clue was easy and helped with the other theme clues. Never heard of the STUF part of OREO.

Very difficult puzzle for me for the fill.

Jeff Chen said...

Shamelessly pandering to PG? Would I do something like that? Me?

Well, of course I would! I originally clued it to Iowa's record nine straight NCAA titles, but I'm not sure which record is more impressive.

Little known fact: I wrestled for a year in high school (132's), and was even more shameless back then than I am now. I lost my one and only real match, and frequently was assigned to wrestle with a guy who weighed about 40 pounds. Even then, the only way I managed not to get pinned was to lie flat on my stomach while he protested to the coach that I was stalling. Yup, stalling for dear life!

shrub5 said...

Another hand up for MUDDY to ETHEL as well as ECHOES to POOFS. I thought this was a very enjoyable puzzle with lively clues/answers.

Had the same thought as others about IOWA wrestling: oh, PG is going to love this!!

One nit at 22A: The root for ear (OT) in both the clue and the answer??

New for me: Clutch of EGGS.

Anonymous said...

I'm always impressed when Dadaist Max Ernst is still remembered. Wrote a chapter about him in a book once.

But am mortified that I spelled the car "Suburu" rather than "Subaru." I've owned a SubAru station wagon for nine years, for heaven's sake. I guess I'm just not a car person.

Rube said...

Took me a while to get the "Storm of the '90s" clue -- all I could think of was Gale Storm, but she was of the 50s -- memories. Wanted wILIER before BOOMS connected with bulls giving OILIER.

Learned 3 new crosswordese words here: ARUM, OTITIS, and UHURU -- although I may someday have use for OTITIS outside of crossword land.

Good doable puzzle here. Used to eat DOUBLE STUF OREOs all the time -- until the scales told me not to.

CP said...

Really enjoyed working this one out. Nice puzzle, clever clues, a little bit of everything. Had MUDDY at first instead of ETHEL. GUNKY took some time. Liked GEO and SABARU on top of an indy racer.
BTW, SABARU FORESTERS are the dorkiest of cars--who drives these things? former GEO owners? they look like an old Camry station wagon to me.

CrazyCatLady said...

Fun puzzle today with a nice healthy level of difficulty. I had the same reaction as others when I filled in IOWA. Had Muddy before ETHEL (?) and Sego before ARUM. Have never heard of OAKIE or ARIE so those took a while to fill themselves in. OILIER, GUNKY, OOZED and SWILL - mini theme perhaps?

I'll be glad when Monday rolls around and we don't have to hear about Carmageddon any more. Has anyone outside of LA heard about this?

Nighthawk said...

I think I just need to bite the bullet and go back and re-read Edith Hamilton's Mythology, last closed in the 7th grade, because, like many others, JASON initially escaped me.

Handy up for muddy before ETHYL and annulus before AREOLA. And for SIRREE being a long time coming from crosses. Others similar: ARUM and SOFT (thanks for the explanation, @PG).

Same reaction as most on seeing 50D - @PG is gonna go nuts when she sees this one! In a good way.

Nice work Mr. Chen. The jump in misdirection from early to later week was fun, and clearly evident. I fell for most of them.
Was even thinking of "slicker" as a garmet rather than a quality, but OILskin just wouldn't fit. And was trying to remember John Updike's hero's title before thinking, "Please don't throw me in the BRIER patch, BR'ER fox."

Anonymous said...

Did no one notice the other "space" answer: Uhuru.
Nichol Nichols, who played Uhura on the original Star Trek series and of Africa decent, says the inspiration for her name was from the fact that she had the book "Uhuru" with her the day she read for the part.

Way cool....

C said...

Um, Mr. Chen, I believe you have something brown on your nose ...

Pandering aside, and if anybody deserves some pandering it is our hostess, I liked today's puzzle. The theme was OK but I liked the added spice in the cluing. I couldn't cruise through like I normally do and that makes for a good puzzle, IMO.

Thanks for a fun Thursday workout.

Tom said...

Iowa? Wrestling? Really? The only connection between Iowa and wrestling for me was the high-school wrestler (Joel Northrop) who refused to wrestle a girl during an Iowa tournament for religious reasons. Nice puzzle, though. Appreciated the explanation of the "piano" clue, too. Haven't seen that usage since my dreaded piano lessons eons ago.

CoffeeLvr said...

Thanks for a fun puzzle, Mr. Chen.

I confidently entered BRIaR, unaware there was a variant spelling. Also Muddy Waters.

I did know ARIE Luyendyk, and LINDA Hamilton.

Sfingi said...

@CP (chest pains?) - I love Subaru Foresters, except for the MPG, so I guess they're old lady cars.

Dave in Bend, OR said...

I will pander a bit as well. Knew IOWA only because @PG has tooted their horn so often. Anonymous @ 9:58...The only reason I knew that there was an A in SubAru was bcause long ago I was listening to "The Car Guys" on NPR and a caller was complaining about her car (a Subaru).....Their snarky reply was to simply remember that "Subaru backwards is "You Are A Bus"!! Not as true these days but was quite appropriate at the time (years and years ago). Actually, Outbacks are one of the most popular models in our neck of the woods.

Margaret said...

I'm late to the party today due to construction at our house -- no time for the puzzle until now. Loved the shameless pandering to PG. Wanted to mention that the term DOUBLESTUFOREO is just so annoying to me (though correct. Or maybe "correct.") Double "stuf"???!? Ugh.

Also, as regards not believing in UFO's, please watch Ben the Over-Literal Dermestid Beetle Wootcast (hope the link works right!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA87IlQR2X8

CP said...

@Sfingi, looked again at the newer models, was being a bit to harsh on Forester owners. Sorry bout that dig. Mea culpa. CP (crossword player).

Anonymous said...

Thanks, David--I will always remember how to spell Subaru's name now, thanks to your NPR mnemonic! And thanks for the kind words about the model, everybody (well, almost everybody). Not one repair or problem in nine years--you can't beat that!