07.31 Sun

July 31, 2011
Mike Peluso

[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]

Theme: "Oohs and Aahs" — "Ooh" sounds are changed to "aah" sounds in familiar phrases.

Theme Entries:
  • 21A: Charity that rewards golf talent? (ALMS FOR THE PAR).
  • 33A: Treat a Saudi king with TLC? (COMFORT FAHD).
  • 56A: Timid officer? (CHICKEN COP).
  • 67A: Miniature B-17? (BABY BOMBER).
  • 88A: Hall of Famer Warren after garage work? (GREASY SPAHN).
  • 106A: Padding in an Easter basket? (CHOCOLATE MOSS).
  • 15D: Stuffy trio? (THE THREE STODGES).
  • 41D: Onset of boredom? (BIRTH OF THE BLAHS).
Hey, crossword fans. Doug here on Sunday. Today's theme is pretty solid. I tend to like themes that employ a sound change rather than simply adding or taking away letters. The theme answers are a bit tougher to predict, which makes for a fun solve.

I'm betting the names Fahd and Spahn caused problems for some solvers, but the rest of the answers are right over the plate. My favorite is CHOCOLATE MOSS. Mmmm, chocolate moss. OK, it sounds a little gross, but I can guarantee it'd taste better than marshmallow Peeps. I never ate the Peeps in my Easter basket. I'd save them for a few weeks until they got rock-hard, and then I'd smash them on the driveway. The ants loved it.

  • 24A: ___ Rebellion" 1786-'87 insurrection (SHAYS'). I remember the name from high school history class, but I couldn't tell you a thing about it. I'll read up on it later.
  • 28A: Stitching on Li'l Abner's towel? (HIS'N). Why would hillbillies, or anyone else, say "his'n & her'n" instead of "his & hers"? Does it have something to do with "my" and "mine"? I have more questions than answers so far.
  • 33A: Treat a Saudi king with TLC? (COMFORT FAHD). Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud was the King of Saudi Arabia from 1982-2005. And the fact that there are still countries ruled by kings blows my mind.
  • 60A: All-time RBI leader (AARON). Hank Aaron, with 2,297 runs batted in.
  • 74A: NYC-based securities gp. (ASE). I'm assuming this is short for American Stock Exchange, more commonly known as AMEX. Is this a better clue than the usual "Enzyme ending"?
  • 75A: After-school treats (OREOS). Also great before and during school.
  • 79A: Did well on the quiz (GOT A B). I know I've commented on this entry before. It's not completely horrible. (Although some might get confused and think it's supposed to be "Go, Tab!") But it opens up the door to so many other questionable entries: GOT AN A, GET A D, GETS A C, etc, etc. We constructors need to nip this in the bud.
  • 88A: Hall of Famer Warren after garage work? (GREASY SPAHN). (Lots of baseball in this bullet. Skip ahead if you can't handle it.) Warren Spahn racked up 363 wins in 21 seasons, more than any other left-handed pitcher. You may recognize his name from the rhyme: "Spahn and Sain, and pray for rain." It was inspired by the performance of Spahn and his teammate, pitcher Johnny Sain, during the Boston Braves' 1948 pennant drive. From Wikipedia: "The team swept a Labor Day doubleheader, with Spahn throwing a complete 14-inning win in the opener, and Sain pitching a shutout in the second game. Following two off-days, it did rain. Spahn won the next day, and Sain won the day after that. Three days later, Spahn won again. Sain won the next day. After one more off-day, the two pitchers were brought back and won another doubleheader. The two pitchers had gone 8–0 in 12 days' time." Not bad. The Yankees are going to try something like that in this year's play-offs: "C.C. Sabathia and pray for a monsoon."
  • 94A: Hall of Fame pool player ___ Mataya Laurance (EWA). Seems obscure, but I knew this one. I enjoy watching billiards on TV sometimes. Ms. Laurance was born in Sweden, and her nickname is one of the coolest in all of sports: "The Striking Viking." 
  • 114A: Words on some Montana license plates (BIG SKY). Awesome.
  • 9D: Reach for the Skyy, excessively (TOPE). Skyy vodka. Cute clue.
  • 22D: "Bananaphone" singer (RAFFI). No video will be provided. I tried YANNI first. Yanni and Raffi occupy the same spot in my brain. It's a spot I'd like to have removed.
  • 36D: Rapper ___ Shakur (TUPAC). Here's an entry from the first real 15x15 puzzle I ever constructed: ITUPAC. I believe I clued it as "Start of a rapper's formal statement" or some such nonsense. And I had the audacity to criticize Neville's use TIR of yesterday. Shocking.
  • 63D: Bond nemesis (SMERSH). Group that opposes Bond, James Bond. Apparently SMERSH is an acronym from two Russian words and means "Death to Spies". I'd rather join KAOS.
Next Sunday's blog will be abbreviated, because I'll be at Lollapuzzoola 4 in Manhattan! I hope to see some of you there. Adios.


Jake said...

I think ADMIRE(1A) is related to the theme.

Argyle said...


Rojo said...

Nice writeup.

...and nice puzzle. The theme was fun, although 'tis true that FAHD and SPAHN came primarily through crosses and punny-ness (F--D was enough to figure out FAHD for example).

Having two clues for Cali schools was a bit annoying, especially when both answers began with UC (UCAL and UCLA)

I liked REINER, because it made have to do a brain search: "Oh, yeah, Meathead, I bet. What was his name again? Let's see .... Directed Spinal Tap, had the funny-man dad (Carl)?.... hmmmm .... oh yeah, REINER!" I'm always pleased when a clue makes me do that.

SMERSH was also fun like that.

Originally tried HUGHES instead of AMELIA, but then remembered the Howard Hughes bio-pic was called something else, "The Aviator," I believe? nice misdirect with that clue.

Agree that GOT A B needs to be nipped in the bud. Particularly as clued, because in my academically over-achieving family, a B is not considered doing well. (Not that I lived up to, or wanted to live up to, my academically over-achieving family's standards)

I had to play letter roulette with the A shared by BALA/ARLENE in order to finish this. Luckily I was correct in my semi-edjamacated guess about the R shared in EURE/CORDERO.

Finally, if anyone sticks ITUPAC in my crossword, I will arrive at their house with torches and pitchforks. TUPAC was fine though. Although it would also be nice to see this clued after the Inca leader that the rapper was named for. Or is that too obscure?

Gene said...

Right on Doug! Got spahn O.K. but not fahd because of Clicking Sound "AHAS"???????? A DNF because of one lousy clicking sound letter.

Gene said...

Warren Spahn, greatest left handed pitcher ever for the Boston Braves.

Steve said...

Hmmm - not sure if I'm a fan of the theme - it seems as if some of the sound changes are a little subjective - I don't pronounce "COP" as "CAHP", nor "BOMBER" as "BAHMER".

"Ohhs and Awws" would be closer for me, but still not on the money.

Agree also about the GOTAB.

@Rojo - if VITUS is OK being clued as Bering's first name, then I've got no problem with your Inca leader - there's some really obscure stuff in here, for me anyway.

My personal Natick today was the EWA/IPANA cross - never heard of either, so I closed my eyes and threw an A in there to finish. Lucky guess.

I had SpraT for SMELT for a while which had me head-scratching until I fixed it. I've never seen MARAUD used as a verb before, but you learn something every day.

UCAL? No way. It's Cal or it's Berkeley, it's never UCAL.

On the schools subject (and there's a lot of school stuff today) is it fair to clue UNH as "Durham sch." which could equally be UNC (which I had first)? I never knew New Hampshire had a Durham. Threw me off for a while until the cross fixed it.

Rojo said...

@Steve I feel like this was clued to a NY accent. At least that's how it sounded to me, a NYer. I now live in Oregon, and everyone makes fun of my accent, so I'm choosing to see this puzzle as one of the few benefits I get off my accent.

Rojo said...

...and count me as another that was thrown off by the Durham clue and had originally filled in "UNC"


I only exist because mom and pops met at UNC Chapel Hill. So I feel I must cheer for the Tarheels.


Beat Duke!

Jake said...

The reason I think ADMIRE(1A) is related to the theme is because "oohs" and "aahs" are sounds of admiration.

UCSC Grad said...

How many U.C. San Diego students does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two. One to mix the margaritas and one to call the electrician.

How many U.C. Santa Cruz students does it take to change a lightbulb?
Eleven. One to change the lightbulb and ten to share the experience.

How many U.C. Davis students does it take to change a lightbulb?
None. Davis doesn't have electricity.

How many U.C. San Francisco students does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two. One to change the lightbulb and one to crack under the pressure.

How many U.C. Santa Barbara students does it take to change a lightbulb?
Only one, but he gets six credits for it.

How many U.C. Berkeley students does it take to change a lightbulb?
Seventy-six. One to change the lightbulb, fifty to protest the lightbulb's right to not change, and twenty-five to hold a counter-protest.

How many U.C. Irvine students does it take to change a lightbulb?
None. Irvine looks better in the dark (ditto Riverside).

How many U.C.L.A. students does it take to change a lightbulb?
One. She holds the bulb and the world revolves around her.

Steve said...

@UCSC Grad - awesome! I'm cutting that for future reference

Gareth Bain said...

Huh. Guess this is a US pronunciation thing, because here COP, MOSS, BOMBER and STODGES are a short o sound and the rest are an "ah" sound - completely different! That and I think SMELT/DORE is a totally unfair crossing: SMOLT/DORO is what I had. SMOLT fits the clue for SMELT, so if you're not down with your 19th century book illustrators you're screwed! Otherwise, a fine puzzle!

CrazyCatLady said...


Started off nicely on this, but had problems with FAHD and SPAHN - had no idea, but otherwise I enjoyed the theme. Thanks for explaining @Doug the Peep killer.

Liked BLUE HEN, my alma mater. Now I live in a town where the local college team is the Sage Hens. I also liked the BOHEMIA and NUTMEG. MIASMAS and ROOD are my WOTDs.

LEHIGH and BALA Cynwyd are
my former neck of the woods. Last week we had Paoli.

Didn't like UCAL, my son's alma mater. I agree with @Steve, it's either Cal or UC Berkeley.

The California Delta SMELT is involved in the ongoing controversy surrounding water in this state. It's the "bane" of many farmers in the San Joaquin Valley

MPPuzzler said...

Here in the Midwest, MOSS is pronounced M-aw-ss, so I was little thrown. I figured the puzzle was written by an Easterner. Otherwise,the pronunciation changes made sense to me.

Fun puzzle.

CoffeeLvr said...

@Gene, that was my one stinking wrong DNF letter also. Perhaps if I had left it alone and come back to it later, something in my mind would have clicked and I would have had an AHA experience.

Tuttle said...

Rojo, you answered your own question. UNC is not in Durham, it's in Chapel Hill. Duke is in Durham.

When I went to UD I was all psyched to root for the Gentlemen Hens instead of the Lady (whatevers). Alas, it turns out all the teams are simply Fighting Blue Hens.

Doug, the apostrophe+N formation is short for 'ones'. His ones. Her ones. Around here a derogatory term for real backwoods folks is "yins" from their use of "you'ns" instead of "y'all".

leroy said...

Spahn won most of his games, and played in two World Series as a Milwaukee Brave, not as a Boston Brave.