07.18 Mon

July 18, 2011
Robert Fisher

Theme: Photo Finish — The first word of each theme answer can follow the word "photo" to create a familiar word (i.e., it "finishes" the word "photo").

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Penning ads and such (COPY WRITING).
  • 26A: Mall habitué's motto (SHOP TIL YOU DROP).
  • 42A: Instrument Bob Dylan was once booed for playing (ELECTRIC GUITAR).
  • 56A: Race decided by a camera, or what the start of 17-, 26- or 42-Across literally is (PHOTO FINISH).
I decided not to try to race through this puzzle and I pretty much couldn't help it. Very very smooth fill. In fact, I threw two of the theme answers in without even reading their clues — I had enough crosses in place that they were just obvious. I only had one write-over in the whole grid: I first tried ONE SEC instead of IN A SEC (48A: "Comin' right up").

Cute theme idea. I like it when a word-before theme has a purpose. You know, it's not just random words being thrown together — they're being thrown together for a reason. In this case the phrase PHOTO FINISH is what holds it all together and gives it purpose. I really appreciate that. I don't, however, appreciate PHOTOELECTRIC. No doubt joon will be along any minute to explain why this word should be on the tip of everyone's tongue, but I'm pretty sure I've never heard it. So that kind of took away from the theme for me.

Nothing particularly exciting about the long downs, but some of the shorter entries tickled my fancy. Like:
  • 6D: Showy to a fault (CHI-CHI).
  • 41D: Scary beach current (RIP TIDE).
  • 44D: In great numbers (GALORE).
  • 48D: Far from certain (IFFY).
Those are very nice words, particularly on a Monday. A little Scrabbliness here and there also adds some sparkle
  • 11A: Use a stun gun on (ZAP).
  • 33A: Puppy's protest (YELP). I'm a little surprised YELP is still only clued as a puppy noise and not as the popular website yelp.com.
  • 64A: Old Montreal team (EXPOS). Sorry, Crosscan. I know this is a sensitive subject for you.
Hmmm, what else? I didn't know [36D: HERSCHEL Bernardi, who played Tevye on Broadway], but got it easily through the crosses. I would probably have spelled HORSY with an E (36A: Equine, to a 19-Across). And the [62A: "Is it soup __?"] actually sounds better to me without the YET at the end. And with that, I'll leave you with this. (22A: Browsing the Web, say (ONLINE)).

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 25A: Church alcove (APSE).
  • 53D: Norway's capital (OSLO).
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Everything Else 1A: Gold medalist's place (FIRST); 6A: Buddies (CHUMS); 14A: Boise's state (IDAHO); 15A: Saigon's Vietnam War counterpart (HANOI); 16A: "__ had it!" (I'VE); 19A: Wee one (TOT); 20A: PC key next to the space bar (ALT); 21A: Buttery and creamy, as pastry (RICH); 24A: When doubled, make light of (POOH); 32A: Ending for micro- or oscillo- (SCOPE); 34A: Big Band __ (ERA); 35A: Tackle box item (LURE); 38A: Odds partner (ENDS); 39A: Like most codgers (OLD); 40A: Long-haul rig (SEMI); 41A: Postal postings (RATES); 46A: Gold medalist, vis-à-vis competitors (BEST); 47A: Egyptian snakes (ASPS); 51A: Part of a blind (SLAT); 52A: "Unbelievable!" ("WOW!"); 55A: Whopper junior? (FIB); 59A: Seasonal malady (FLU); 60A: Crowbar, essentially (LEVER); 61A: How objects are seen through a mist (DIMLY); 63A: Skip the announcement, invitations, etc. (ELOPE); 1D: Payroll tax acronym (FICA); 2D: Teen favorite (IDOL); 3D: Totally absorbed (RAPT); 4D: Hardly outgoing (SHY); 5D: Line on a tugboat (TOW ROPE); 7D: "What __ God wrought?" (HATH); 8D: Prefix with verse (UNI-); 9D: Game with tiny hotels (MONOPOLY); 10D: Volunteers (for) (SIGNS UP); 11D: Penne relative (ZITI); 12D: Skin So Soft maker (AVON); 13D: Townshend of The Who (PETE); 18D: Mob disorder (RIOT); 23D: Was in front (LED); 24D: Benedict I, e.g. (POPE); 25D: Affirmative votes (AYES); 26D: Oar (SCULL); 27D: Large crowd (HORDE); 28D: Emotionally expressive, as poetry (LYRIC); 29D: Avis __ Car (RENT A); 30D: Tell the waiter what you want (ORDER); 31D: Avoid flunking (PASS); 32D: Gin fizz flavoring (SLOE); 37D: Fail to mention (OMIT); 38D: Diner sign (EATS); 40D: Church topper (STEEPLE); 43D: TV network with an eye logo (CBS); 45D: "Wild Blue Yonder" mil. group (USAF); 49D: River through Egypt (NILE); 50D: Be contiguous with (ABUT); 51D: Aerobics accessory (STEP); 52D: Spineless one (WIMP); 54D: __ and wherefores (WHYS); 57D: Lacto-__ vegetarian (OVO); 58D: Put the kibosh on (NIX).


Rojo said...

I think easy Mon. and Tues. puzzles should have the theme clue up near the top, because I wind up getting all the theme answers crossed in prior to having to think about the theme, which takes away a bit of the enjoyment. If the theme clue was up at the top, then I could at least think to myself, "Yep, that one could go with "photo" too, cute!" while filling it in. This is obviously a very minor kvetch, however.

Photoelectric is like solar cells, I think. Converts photons into electricity? I've heard of it before anyway, even if I can't give a detailed explanation.

Yelp.com, otoh, never until mentioned here in this post.

CHI-CHI, while never posing real problems for me, is just a word I don't like. It seems to me that the only people that really use that word (phrase?) are people that are also CHI-CHI.

Anyway, breezy Mon. with few mis-steps on my part. I also had ONE SEC instead of IN A SEC for a moment, but that got fixed easily.

Sfingi said...

@PG - OK. Who's the guy with the bare chest. This old lady needs labels!

Speaking of old - PHOTO ELECTRIC - Oh, the Hertz Effect.

Had an overwrite that was typical of me - I had TOeROPE, therefore had COPYedITING, and wondered what a dIOT was - new expression for "idiot"?
Anyway, all corrected as TOWROPE, COPYWRITING and RIOT.

I would probably spell that HORSeY with an E. Also, for the adjective, as in the HORSY crowd, the people who own and ride pure-breds (Arabs, in crosswordese). Also, the Arby's mild horseradish sauce.
That leaves HORSY for the adjective for big-boned women.

@Rojo - start from the bottom. I do it all the time.

Joon said...

that's basically what PHOTOELECTRIC is, yeah. the photoelectric effect is when light shining on some material (usually a metal) causes an electric current to start flowing. it played a very important role in the history of modern physics, which you can feel free not to read about by skipping to the next comment.

at the end of the 19th century, the photoelectric effect was one of the few phenomena that classical physics couldn't explain. it goes like this: if the photoelectric effect was observed with light of a certain wavelength (say, 400 nm blue light), then increasing the light intensity caused an increase in the current produced. that part makes sense; higher intensity means more energy for knocking electrons out of the metal, and it was already known that the current was carried be mobile electrons.

but for a longer wavelength (650 nm red light, for instance), no current was observed no matter how intense the light was. (the exact cutoff frequency depended on the material.) it ultimately fell to einstein to propose that the light consisted of individual packets or quanta, called photons, each of which carried an energy inversely proportional to wavelength. higher intensity meant more photons, but if every single photon lacked the energy necessary to kick an electron out, then you wouldn't get a current no matter how many photons you had. careful experiments by robert millikan supported einstein's hypothesis (even though millikan himself did not), and ultimately this explanation was one of the two theories (planck's blackbody radiation model being the other) that led to the development quantum mechanics.

einstein, by the way, was a total unknown when he wrote his paper on the photoelectric effect, as well as three other major papers (on relativity, brownian motion, and stimulated emission), all in the same year, 1905. and his only nobel prize was awarded for the photoelectric effect.

thanks for indulging me.

Steve said...

Nice theme, some nice fill - I liked RIPTIDE, MONOPOLY. Liked the clue for FIB, and woo hoo! No "Nile Biter" again! Makes the last two ASP/ASPS without my pet gripe clue.

@Sfingi - agree HORSY/HORSEY.

@PG - no problem with PHOTOELECTRIC, probably because I've been reading up on quantum physics and related weirdness recently. If you guys want to get your minds warped, read a couple of books by Brian Greene - "The Elegant Universe" and "The Fabric of the Cosmos". His most recent book "The Hidden Reality" is a total - I'm not sure how to say "Head****" without the asterisks - but you get the point.

I don't have a physics background at all, and he can make this stuff make sense even to a non-scientist like me.

Crosscan said...

PuzzleGirl, please go to a Nats game once wearing an EXPOS hat. It will help ease the pain.

badams52 said...

Liked RIPTIDE and INASEC and thought HORSY was cute. Didn't mind the missing E.

Had my downfall with writing in HOard insted of HORDE. Couldn't finish because of it.

Agree with @PG that ELECTRIC wasn't the best to use with PHOTO.

Conrad said...

Dear joon,

I think I may love you. You are science-tastic.


In other news, it was certainly a Monday puzzle today. DIMLY and HERSCHEL were little bumps, I'd also spell it HORSeY, and PHOTOELECTRIC was my favourite. I'm going to have to find an experiment on photoelectricity for my science class next friday...

Anonymous said...

Wouldyou prefer photogalvanic ?

Anonymous said...

@sfingi - Just click on the picture. It will open up in a new window and you can read the file name at the end of the url. For instance, the muscular guy picture is "herschel-walker.jpg".

JaxInL.A. said...

I also liked LYRIC, HORDE, DIMLY and SCULL.  Pretty clean puzzle.  I don't care about the theme, except that it gave an occasion for Joon and Steve to hold forth on cool science stuff.

I'm confused, though.  I thought that Zero Mostel originated the role of Tevye on Broadway, but I'm reading conflicting or unclear info.  Anyone out there know?  

Bernardi apparently grew up in the Yiddish theatre, so his turn as Tevye was probably very natural.

JaxInL.A. said...

Seriously? There's a Black guy named Herschel? How did that happen?

CoffeeLvr said...

@Joon, thank you for the interesting and cogent explanation.

I didn't read the details of the clue for PHOTOFINISH, so until I came here, I thought the theme was pretty weak, consisting of FIRST and BEST plus the reveal.

I thought of the TOT spelling as HORSiE, but HORS(e)Y looks better: horsie, horsey, horsy. Spell check only likes horsey.

More TOT level content: POOH, WHYS.

Anonymous said...

"Whopper Junior" = fib? I got it, but don't understand it.

Steve said...

@Anon 9:31am - you tell a big lie, you tell a "whopper". You tell a little lie, it's a fib. So a "whopper junior" is a fib. It's a little obtuse, but I liked it.

mac said...

Nice Monday puzzle, and thank you, Joon.

Very smooth solve, only put in "per" for "uni", but that didn't last long.

I like the "shop til you drop" answer!

Sfingi said...

@Anon843 - I clicked on the picture and got this: 2.bp.blogspot.com.-eNy6uhQ-vmI/TiQTmhidCMI/AAAAAAAGri/H3JmVS6VKYw/s1600/
Then I pushed it along and O Yes, way at the end of the URL

Who's he? OK, I looked him up. Sports.

Anao Bob said...

@Anon 9:31, I thought the "whopper junior" was what Steve said plus it played off of Burger King's Whopper Jr.

Another possible HERSCHEL for 36Down would be the astronomer William who is best known for discovering Uranus. (Don't say that in front of a group of 12-14-year-olds!) Maybe with PHOTOELECTRIC already there, William would be too much science for a Monday.

Nighthawk said...

On Sunday, July 25, 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival, after having performed the previous day acoustically, Dylan decided to thumb his nose at the traditional folkies, after festival orgainizer
Alan Lomax had made some disparaging remarks about the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and play electric. Saturday night he rehearsed with Mike Bloomfield on electric guitar, Al Kooper on organ, Barry Goldberg on piano and two of Bloomfield's bandmates of from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, bassist Jerome Arnold and drummer Sam Lay. The next day, Sunday, July 25, that group took to the stage and played "Maggie's Farm", "Like a Rolling Stone" and another number during which, amid constant booing from the first song, they left the stage. Dylan returned for a few acoustic songs, the last one being "It's All Over Now Baby Blue." He did not return to the Newport festival for 37 years.

That day's mesh by Dylan of folk and rock launched the "folk rock" genre. In turn, traditional country music gave way to electric "new country" and among other things, Dylan's groundbreaking "Nashville Skyline" album. Brad Paisley owes much to that day.

Great pics of Michael Phelp's hairsbreadth win and Honor Blackman, head the Flying Circus, Auric Goldfinger's chief pilot, and one of the most hilariously named Bond girls, @PG.

Fun, fluid, fast Monday. Thanks Mr. Fisher.

Z said...

"Chi Chi" should be "Chic Chic" to be truly Chic Chic

C said...

Good puzzle today and a bunch of things to talk about ... except they have been covered. Will that stop me? No, this is the INTERNET!

PHOTOELECTRIC? @Joon hit that one out of the park though multiple photon transitions can occur with high enough photon density which means that increasing the density of low energy photons can create the PHOTOELECTRIC effect. The scientists who originally studied the phenomenon didn't have the advantage of using lasers (insert Dr. Evil Finger movement) so they couldn't create the necessary photon densities to observe the effect. A trifle, yes, but we scientists make careers on trifles.

I always had a sweet spot for the Expos though they were always a distant second to my Giants. Dawson, Raines and Cromartie was an excellent outfield. Wear the Expo hat, @PG, make a blog forum poster happy.

CrazyCatLady said...

Fun, quick, easy, breezy puzzle without a lot of POOH fill.

Thanks joon. Had no idea what PHOTOELECTRIC was/is. Still not sure, but thanks just the same.

@Nighthawk - I always love to hear that story about Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival and his ELECTRIC GUITAR. Saw him a few years ago in Berkeley and it was an all ELECTRIC show. Couldn't understand a word he was singing, but loved it still the same. He was the IDOL of my youth.

Liked the RICH shout-out and the P. GALORE picture in the write up. Hmmm..PG?