07.25 Mon

July 25, 2011
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter

Theme: I'm Melting! — The first word of each theme answer describes size; from top to bottom, the sizes move from biggest to smallest.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Winter Olympics event with gates (GIANT SLALOM RACE).
  • 23A: One stalking lions or tigers (BIG-GAME HUNTER).
  • 38A: T-bone with a warm, red center (MEDIUM-RARE STEAK).
  • 48A: Lass awed by the big city, maybe (SMALL-TOWN GIRL).
  • 58A: He "runs through the town ... in his nightgown" (WEE WILLIE WINKIE).
Looks like we're starting off the week with a theme-heavy Monday offering! Three 15-letter theme entries seems like quite a lot, especially for an early-week puzzle. But the theme phrases are mostly solid; the only one I might have rethought a little is MEDIUM-RARE STEAK. That just doesn't seem like an in-the-language phrase all on its own to me. And the funny thing is, the theme would have worked fine without it — I don't think the MEDIUM really adds anything to the progression. But the rest of the theme answers are good. My favorite is SMALL-TOWN GIRL, which is something I have definitely been accused of being and to which I reply, "Are you kidding me? Fargo's the biggest town in the state!" So there.

There's usually not a lot to talk about on Mondays, but I see a couple things it might be worth going over. First, I want you to look at the abbreviations in the grid:
  • 20A: Invoice fig. (AMT.).
  • 28A: It.'s continent (EUR.).
  • 56A: IM offerer (AOL).
  • 30D: Sch. in Big D (SMU).
If you're new to puzzles and trying to improve your skills, these entries illustrate a basic concept you need to be familiar with. Clues with abbreviations in them generally are giving you a hint that the answer will be an abbreviation as well. Notice "fig.," "It.'s," and "IM" in the clues above. And in the last one, you even get two hints: "Sch.," and "Big D." There's one other abbreviated entry, but its clue isn't another abbreviation: ID'S is clued as "61D: Credit card users may be asked for them, briefly." In this case, it isn't that the credit card users are only being asked "briefly" for their ID'S, but that the entry is a "brief" way of stating the answer. In a late-week puzzle, you might not even get that hint for the answer ID'S — some abbreviations are so commonly used that it's almost like they're not abbreviations any more. I think ID'S falls into that category.

The other thing we'll look at today are the question-mark clues:
  • 13D: Flames that have cooled? (EXES).
  • 47D: Chilly powder? (SNOW).
  • 50D: Newspaper bye lines? (OBITS).
  • 59D: India Inc.? (LTD.).
These are relatively easy as question-mark clues go. In three of the four clues, the wordplay pretty much jumps out at you because of spelling changes: chilly-chili, bye-by, inc.-ink. Then there's the odd man out, "Flames that have cooled?" That's a play on the "beau" meaning of the word "flame." Later in the week, you'll see more wordplay like this, that isn't quite so obvious.

The last thing you'll want to do to build up your crossword skills, is check out today's Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 15A: Woody Guthrie's son (ARLO).
  • 1D: Nintendo competitor (SEGA).
  • 53D: Orléans's river (LOIRE).
  • 62D: Society page word (NÉE).
These are words that come up again and again (and again and again ...) in crossword puzzles and if you just know them, they can really help you get a foothold in a tough puzzle. Click on the word above and you'll be magically transported to a post where you can learn more about this bit of crosswordese that — with any luck — will help you recognize it in the future.

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Everything 1A: Burn badly (SCALD); 6A: The lightning bolt on Harry Potter's forehead, e.g. (SCAR); 10A: Squirrel away (SAVE); 14A: "__ World": ticklish Muppet's "Sesame Street" segment (ELMO'S); 15A: Woody Guthrie's son (ARLO); 16A: Candy that comes in twos (TWIX); 17A: Winter Olympics event with gates (GIANT SLALOM RACE); 20A: Invoice fig. (AMT.); 21A: Place for inks or oinks (PEN); 22A: Subtle vibes (AURAS); 23A: One stalking lions or tigers (BIG-GAME HUNTER); 28A: It.'s continent (EUR.); 29A: Raw rocks (ORES); 30A: "Octopus's Garden" singer Ringo (STARR); 33A: Talk show guest's blatant promotion (PLUG); 35A: Swelled head (EGO); 38A: T-bone with a warm, red center (MEDIUM-RARE STEAK); 42A: Colorful card game (UNO); 43A: Lends a hand to (AIDS); 44A: Lecture rooms (HALLS); 45A: Abel's assassin (CAIN); 47A: Jazzy horn (SAX); 48A: Lass awed by the big city, maybe (SMALL-TOWN GIRL); 54A: Bright (SMART); 55A: Sis's sib (BRO); 56A: IM offerer (AOL); 58A: He "runs through the town ... in his nightgown" (WEE WILLIE WINKIE); 63A: Thomas __ Edison (ALVA); 64A: Tater __: Ore-Ida product (TOTS); 65A: Big tractor name (DEERE); 66A: Movie house suffix (-PLEX); 67A: Allergy trigger, often (DUST); 68A: Passover dinner (SEDER); 1D: Nintendo competitor (SEGA); 2D: Start up the mountain (CLIMB); 3D: Italian violin maker (AMATI); 4D: Chaney of horror (LON); 5D: "Spring ahead" hrs. (DST); 6D: Witch trials town (SALEM); 7D: Whooping bird (CRANE); 8D: Entirely (ALL); 9D: Kanga's kid (ROO); 10D: Vain walks (STRUTS); 11D: In the loop (AWARE); 12D: Anglican parish priest (VICAR); 13D: Flames that have cooled? (EXES); 18D: Box for practice (SPAR); 19D: Horse's hair (MANE); 24D: Spice Girl Halliwell (GERI); 25D: Ashram authority (GURU); 26D: Store posting (HOURS); 27D: Craving (URGE); 30D: Sch. in Big D (SMU); 31D: Commandment count (TEN); 32D: Hubbub (ADO); 33D: Painting reproduction (PRINT); 34D: Schoolboy (LAD); 35D: Slippery fish (EEL); 36D: "For Me and My __" (GAL); 37D: Gives the nod (OKS); 39D: Postal sackful (MAIL); 40D: Layered haircut (SHAG); 41D: Crosstown bus alternative (TAXI); 45D: Auto finish protection (CAR WAX); 46D: Height: Pref. (ALTI-); 47D: Chilly powder? (SNOW); 48D: What the nose knows (SMELL); 49D: "Circle of Friends" writer Binchy (MAEVE); 50D: Newspaper bye lines? (OBITS); 51D: Seize (from) (WREST); 52D: Gathered, as fallen leaves (RAKED); 53D: Orléans's river (LOIRE); 54D: Exchange (SWAP); 57D: Ogle (LEER); 59D: India Inc.? (LTD.); 60D: Gehrig who played with Ruth (LOU); 61D: Credit card users may be asked for them, briefly (ID'S); 62D: Society page word (NÉE).


Nighthawk said...

I was trying to guess what @PG would title the theme. Hers was much better (more informative) than my guess of: Size Matters.

Odd how the brain, particularly on a Monday morning early, is wired. I saw the pic of Andre and my next thought was: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia."

And nice Little Big Town clip. I'll have to check them out.

I didn't have any problem with MEDIUM RARE STEAK, but agree with @PG's general notion. For me, after filling GIANT SLALOM, I just sat there and stared. Sure, it's a RACE, but it seemed, well, superfluous to say so.

Anyone else bemoan the tilt from classic literary nursery rhymes to those with some some sort of product tie-in? Thinking A.A. Milne's, like "Disobedience," or RLS's "Child's Garden of Verses." I wonder if Wee Willie is known at all to many children today.

Gareth Bain said...

Hmm I thought the MEDIUM entry in the middle made for a great fulcrum to the puzzle...

Anonymous said...

Had fun with this. Thought for a moment the theme might be olives - but then we'd need jumbo in favor of wee and that's a different grid.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with medium rare steak? That'ts the only way I order them, and most of my friends do too, so it's definitely a phrase we hear often.

PuzzleGirl said...

@Gareth: I'm sure it's just me being picky, but I think of MEDIUM as a fulcrum for LARGE and SMALL. It's a clothing or food size, is what I'm saying, not just an all-around random size of anything you might be talking about.

@Anon 9:46: Oh that's how I order mine too. But I don't say "I'll have a medium-rare steak." I say, "I'll have the filet, medium-rare please."

Anoa Bob said...

Bit of a jolt with SCALD coming out of the gate at 1A. I'm a visual type solver in that I enjoy images and memories that puzzle entries or clues evoke for me. This one was far from pleasant. I know, I need to toughen up. Crosswords are not for wimps.

The diminishing size theme hit a minor bump for me with the MEDIUM in 38A not referring to size, as do the other four theme entry lead-offs, but to degree or extent.

Another bit of discordance occurred with the last theme lead-off, WEE at 58A. The other terms are standard straight ahead words while WEE seems more slangy or foreign in origin, i.e., Scottish. I guess a 15-letter entry starting with "Tiny" didn't work out.

There seemed to be quite a lot of abbreviations and crosswordese for a 42-black square, Monday puzzle, but I guess that comes with such a theme heavy puzzle.

MAEVE (49D)? Really?

Great write up PG.

Anonymous said...

Of course children know Wee Willie Winkie - their grandmothers read nursery rhymes to them!

CoffeeLvr said...

@NightHawk, great title.

I can't find much to say about this puzzle, except that I ran right through it. Very easy to my mind.

I love TWIX, one of my very favorite candies.

Rojo said...

I actually found this tough for a Monday, which y'know, is not tough, but did add an extra minute to my usual solve time. Part of it might have been that I kept reading the clue for SMALL TOWN GIRL as "Less awed by the big city" and not "Lass awed by the big city," a crucial difference.

Conrad said...

Great puzzle today, especially for a Monday.
Great theme. Not too hard; not too soft.
Great crosswordese. Common, but not too inane.
Great fill. SCALD and STRUTS, TWIX and CARWAX.

Got hung-up on 28A: It.'s continent. I overlooked the period several times, and I was wracking my brain for whatever "it" was.

Also I'm sorry, but a SAX is not a "horn".

WEEWILLIEWINKIE was cool with me, though I'd spell it "WILLy" and "WINKeE", and I too thought MEDIUM was good in the middle.

I look forward to Marti's next puzzle.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say I really liked this puzzle. Maybe because I'm learning stuff from you-all, it went very smoothly. I especially liked "chilly powder." :-)

Anonymous said...

A saxophone is, indeed, a horn.


There's also a "brass" instrument (as opposed to a woodwind) called the saxhorn.

mac said...

This puzzle was so simple, I never saw a slew of clues. I had a little trouble adding the "race" to 17A, too. Don't mind the medium in the middle.

I must have read Wee Willie Winkie (wanted Wonka), but I cannot remember the story. Cute to have tots right underneath it, not so much scar next to scald. Not really up on candy bars, but I did think of Mounds and Almond Joy
for 16A.

Anonymous said...


Wee Willie Winkie info and the poem.

mac said...

Thank you, anon 3.32!

JaxInL.A. said...

Late night posting, but I'm glad you are feeling better, PG. Hope the heat is not getting you down while you are under the weather (which weather?).