07.19 Tue

July 19, 2011
Don Gagliardo

Theme: Inner Circle — Words that can describe circles are hidden in familiar phrases.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: St. Patrick's day shout (ERIN GO BRAGH).
  • 32A: Business that serves smokers (TOBACCO INDUSTRY).
  • 39A: With "leave," settle for the existing situation (WELL ENOUGH ALONE).
  • 60A: Privileged group, and an aptly highlighted feature of 17-, 32- and 39-Across (INNER CIRCLE).
Good morning, everyone, and happy Tuesday! I was a little disappointed with this puzzle. It just didn't hang together very well for me and Don has set the bar pretty high for himself, so I expected something much more solid. I like the theme concept well enough and did you notice that all three "circles" break across theme answer words? That's very nice. But the "circles" themselves seem kind of random to me. RING is perfect, I get that one. But COIN? If I stretch a little, I come up with, for example, a piece of candy being described as a "coin." And HALO, well, here's the thing. I want each "circle" word to be a thing that is quintessentially circular, not just an example of something that's a circle. I mean, what about these: FRISBEE, PLATE, JAR LID. Those are all circles, but they don't make very good theme answers. So that's all I'm saying.

My favorite entries today are ODD LOT (23A: Unconventional merchandise quantity) and the two baseball answers: STRIKE TWO and HANK AARON (11D: Ump's call / 12D: "Hammerin'" baseballer). I like that we have both of AARON's names in the grid and, for some reason, sports nicknames have always made me chuckle. There's just something inherently funny about them to me. I prefer the ones that come in between the athlete's names (e.g., Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield). Those really crack me up.

  • 11A: Finger-to-lips syllable (SHH). Seems like kind of an awkward clue.
  • 21A: Linus awaits the Great Pumpkin in one (PATCH). As opposed to this clue, which is all kindsa awesome.
  • 27A: Lewinsky confidante Linda (TRIPP). It's hard for me to gauge how well-known people involved in political scandals are. I mean, sure, everybody knows who Monica Lewinsky is, but did people pay close enough attention to hear about Linda TRIPP?
  • 30A: Delinquency word more commonly heard in the plural (ARREAR). Yep. It's more commonly heard in the plural. That's for sure.
  • 37A: Contraire à la __: illegal, in Lyons (LOI). French!
  • 47A: Drum major's cap (SHAKO). I am glad to have learned this word today. Also, drum majors' hats are awesome.
  • 62A: Bachelor in personals, briefly (SWM). Well, some bachelors, sure ….
  • 65A: Half and half (ONE). Now this is the kind of math clue I can handle. It's a little tricky, but once I figured out what it was going for, I could actually do the math. (One-half and (i.e., plus) one-half = ONE.)
  • 8D: Sky surveillance acronym (AWACS). Airborne Warning and Control System.
  • 9D: Swollen ego (BIG HEAD).

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 7D: Lion player Lahr (BERT).
  • 24D: Dungeons & Dragons monster (ORC).
  • 26D: R&B's __ Hill (DRU).
  • 49D: Broadway matchmaker (YENTE).
  • 61D: UN workers' gp. (ILO).
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Everything Else 1A: "I'm clueless!" ("GOT ME!"); 6A: Half of Ethiopia's capital (ABABA); 14A: 1994 peace prize sharer Yitzhak (RABIN); 15A: C.S. who created Narnia (LEWIS); 16A: Chinese word of enlightenment (TAO); 19A: IV administrators (RN'S); 20A: 0, in Spain (CERO); 22A: Singer's aid (MIKE); 25A: "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" singer Neil (SEDAKA); 36A: Fifth in NYC, e.g. (AVE.); 38A: Finished first (WON); 46A: "M*A*S*H" system (TRIAGE); 48A: Heat rub product (BENGAY); 50A: Oysters-on-the-half-shell seller (RAW BAR); 54A: Menlo Park middle name (ALVA); 55A: Somewhat warm (TEPID); 58A: Wave radio maker (BOSE); 59A: Work the soil (HOE); 63A: Short explosive? (NITRO); 64A: It's not an express (LOCAL); 66A: Yarn unit (SKEIN); 67A: Buck of country music (OWENS); 1D: Artist El __ (GRECO); 2D: Rowed (OARED); 3D: Classic Ford (T-BIRD); 4D: Company that merged with Konica (MINOLTA); 5D: Stonehenge loc. (ENG.); 6D: Actress Jessica (ALBA); 10D: Smudge on Santa? (ASH); 13D: Watering aid (HOSE); 18D: Fiber-__ (OPTIC); 22D: Fourth planet (MARS); 28D: Casual shirt (POLO); 29D: Reverent (PIOUS); 31D: Sandberg with nine Gold Gloves (RYNE); 32D: "I __ I taw a puddy ..." (TAWT); 33D: Excessive (OVERBLOWN); 34D: "This is no lie" ("BELIEVE ME"); 35D: Expected soon (NIGH); 40D: Turner on screen (LANA); 41D: Poached fare (EGG); 42D: Slob's opposite (NEATNIK); 43D: Either of the first two consonants in "coccyx" (HARD C); 44D: Wanted poster abbr. (AKA); 45D: Unintellectual (LOWBROW); 51D: Italian ball game (BOCCE); 52D: Narnia lion (ASLAN); 53D: Fishing gear (REELS); 54D: Facetious "I see" ("AH SO"); 56D: Prefix with scope (PERI-); 57D: Crease remover (IRON); 60D: Access points (INS).


Sfingi said...

Never heard of RYNE (sports) or DRU.

Not impressed with theme.

Linda TRIPP was the person to hate for 1998. Hubster was most upset because she was Italian and, therefore brought shame to all Italians, a concept we Anglos don't quite fathom.

Rojo said...

I liked the theme and thought ring, coin, and halo were all pretty quintessentially circular (well, except for the various square, hexagonal, etc. coins I've seen, so might have to take that one back), so count me differing there.

I kinda wanted a "Bad Boys" reference for INNER CIRCLE, or even better a reference to the late great Jacob Miller reference (the legendary lead singer of Inner Circle in days of yore prior to "Bad Boys" fame), although that might have been a bit too obscure for those that don't love the reggae. I was even hoping that such would be PG's Youtube reference, so I'm going to add one here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP1Tw7b8CeY&feature=related
Click it! It's Killer Miller!

NIGH is nice in the grid and ERIN GO BRAGH was also a fun answer, and I'm not even Irish! Although speaking of heritage, I'm also not a SWM. I'm half Asian Indian (my mother's maiden name is BOSE, no kidding!) and half Euro-mutt (mostly Scots-Irish and German as far as I've been able to determine). What's my classifieds acronym?

Never heard of a RAW BAR before

SHAKO is a new, fun, word to me.

"Smudge on Santa?" (ASH) was cute, made me chuckle.

Who's DRU Hill? I knew it was wrong, but I kept wanting DRE.

RYNE is familiar from other crosswords, but I can never remember if it's RYNE or RYAN.

Wanted BELIEVE IT instead of BELIEVE ME.

Finally, because I'm ridiculously political, RABIN is another in a long list of individuals who have demonstrated that the Nobel Peace Prize is one big fat joke (and that definitely includes our current President).

Rojo said...

Ok, don't click the Killer Miller, but definitely copy and paste it!

Anonymous said...

Ryne Sandberg played for the Chicago Cubs and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

JaxInL.A. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaxInL.A. said...

For some reason the file I solved using the Crosswords program lost its circles, so I thought the INNER CIRCLE reveal just meant that the theme answers had the letter O in them, which was *totally* lame.  Glad to see I was wrong, since I like Don Gagliardo most times.

I played tenor sax in HS band, and we wore SHAKOs.  I once went trick-or-treating in uniform on the way home from playing at a Halloween football game, and used the hat to collect candy.  Fellow HS band sax player Debbie Brown and I would sometimes spend afternoons in her truck with the BOSE sound system listening to Neil SEDAKA. No kidding. It was a long time ago.

Thanks for the nostalgia, Mr. Gagliardo.

slypett said...

I read 66A as "Yam unit". So I had SKLIN for SKEIN. I justified this as being a fraction of a larger monetary unit, the yam, on the Pacific island of Yap.

Fantod du jour.

slypett said...

Did it again! Forgot to click the f/u box.

CP said...

Fine for a Tuesday. Theme was fine, filler solid. Got a ittle hung up around SKAKO/LOI (I'll not forget SHAKO). Liked the three baseball answer stack in NE: STRIKE TWO, HANK ARRON, RYNE Sandberg. Nicely done!!

Steve said...

Wasn't a big fan of the "partial" WELL ENOUGH ALONE, but ERIN GO BRAGH was perfectly wonderful for me (I'm Irish)!

Liked RAWBAR, dug up SHAKO from the dim recesses of my brain, liked LEWIS and ASLAN in the same grid.

I always expect ABABA to have an extra B in there somewhere.

How many ways can you spell YENTE/YENTA/YENTL? - Always gets me one way or the other

PuzzleGirl said...

@Steve: First of all, I totally forgot to mention WELL ENOUGH ALONE. That shouldn't be in a puzzle at all, much less as a theme entry.

Also, I did a CW101 about YENTA / YENTE / YENTL a while back. They're actually three totally different things. Check it out.

Rojo said...

Oh, nice, I needed that CW101 lesson. The distinction between Yenta/Yente is particularly one I was confused about.

Steve said...

@PG - Wow, thanks for the CW101! Now I'll never mix them up again (OK, I will, but at least I'll know that it's not just a random last letter, there's a method to the madness!)

slypett said...

Yenta/yente are variant spellings, with the latter currently preferred.

Tom said...

I'm a little surprised that some of you CW geeks hadn't seen SHAKO before. I see it in crosswords all the time and thought it was, you know, one of those "CW101" words.

C said...

OK puzzle, theme is lost when you don't have the circles printed out on your grid. I didn't feel like hunting today so I took the constructor and editors word that the theme made sense.

I remember Linda TRIPP mainly because of my initial reaction to seeing her picture, I thought it was John Goodman in drag. I wasn't trying to be mean but that is what popped into my head. We all have things we can work on.

Rube said...

Sort of an OK puzzle here. had writeovers at GOTME/nOTME and ABABA/Addis. Never heard of a RAWBAR and most of us who played in a HS band know what a SHAKO is.

It always seems strange to me to see something like HARDC in a grid where the cross of the C is soft as in INNERCIRCLE here.

CERO is my (Spanish) WOTD.

KJGooster said...

I grew up in Idaho, far from any MLB teams, but we got the Braves on WTBS and the Cubs on WGN. I became a Braves fan, but I had my own RYNE Sandberg infielder's glove.

Not a fan of today's puzzle. I've been behind lately and just did the puzzles for the last week or so in one day. With the exception of yesterday, I feel like the overall puzzle quality has been down a bit. Seems like they've been a bit tougher, but not in a good way. Kinda hard to explain, maybe it's just me.

Sfingi said...

@C - Tripp has had a nose job since then.

@PG et al - also, YENTl, the movie, is based on a short story, YENTL the Yeshiva Boy by Isaac Bahevis Singer. I like the book and the movie, but Singer, who used to walk the West Side of Manhattan, hated the movie.
There are differences, like with The Color Purple, so both are like different works of art.

CoffeeLvr said...


I hate to see any kind of shout out to the TOBACCO INDUSTRY.

Otherwise, I liked the puzzle just fine. The theme reveal left me a little disappointed. I had the circles, and looked at coin, halo, and ring for a common element. I was expecting Golden something, and checked to see if Golden Boys would fit. That isn't a great reveal either.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is upset with 22A? Mike? Mike? how about mic! they use a MICrophone, not a mikerophone. Also not an indication it's abbr.

C'mon! I expect more form puzzlers, even on a Tuesday!

CrazyCatLady said...

Thought this was a fun Tuesday. No nits to pick for me except maybe for ARREAR, but the apology was in the clue.

@C LOL - maybe you thought LInda TRIPP looked like John Goodman in drag, because he portrayed her on SNL. She (Linda) does have a very BIG HEAD. I think she had way more than a nose job.

@Slypett - I had that yam unit experience once. When you do the puzzle at the LAT site, rs next to ns look like ms.

Surprised some didn't know RAW BAR, but I guess you would need to be an oyster and clam aficionado. You can usually get peel and eat shrimp and steamed clams, if you don't want to go RAW.

CrazyCatLady said...

Jon Stewart "defending" Linda Tripp and her OVERBLOWN ego

Anonymous said...

In response to "C" regarding Tripp and Goodman, I was totally in the dark, until I Googled "Linda Tripp photos".....

You may have to copy and paste it into your browser.

Alexscott said...

Anon, MIKE is short for microphone in the same way "emcee" is short for master of ceremonies. Neither is exactly an abbrev., but a phonetic spelling of an abbrev. Anyway, it's a perfectly good word. It's in the dictionary and everything (along with "mic" and "MC").

Mokus said...

Yeah, they aren't all circles but they are all circular so it was forgivable.
Maybe this will put a smile on your face, PG; Stan "The Man" Musial! One of the greatest all-time and a gentleman. Liked "Hammerin' Hank" a lot too. Another gentleman. I learned about Raw bars just a few years ago when my daughter's husband was stationed at Cherry Point, NC, Marine Corp Air Station. She got a job at a raw bar in New Bern NC and introduced me to Peel 'n ' eat shrimp which I've been enjoying regularly ever since. Their oysters were delicious and the Stella was cold. Heaven!

TUTU said...

Thank you @PG.

Oh, and the local raw bar here had a sign outside that said "Served topless"

brainylagirl said...

yes to everything @Sfingi said.

C said...

@CCL, thanks for the clip! Skinnier Jon is still a funny Jon. I remember the Goodman skit now, maybe that's what did it for me.

@Anon, thanks also for the link. If I wasn't already completely associating Goodman/Tripp, it is now 100%.

CrazyCatLady said...

OMG. I was just out for a walk and my innocent, but apparently not so innocent, mind came up with a mini-theme. TRIPP, OVERBLOWN, BIG HEAD, and HARD C! Hmm - I wonder about that Dan Gagliardo ;) ?? I think he GOT ME at the RAW BAR!

mac said...

Eeewww, Linda Tripp!
Good puzzle, Enjoyed it. You guys have said it all....

Sfingi said...

@Anon208 - We expect you to come out of hiding, eh?
I would pronounce mic as Mick, no e at the end to make the I long.

3 and out