08.08 Mon

August 8, 2011
Janie Smulyan
Theme: Me, Me, Me! Three golden oldies with ME in their titles (not you, me!)

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Polite egotist's musical request? (Beatles) (PLEASE PLEASE ME!).
  • 36A: Adamant egotist's musical request? (Doris Day) (LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME).
  • 47A: Needy egotist's musical request? (Supremes) (COME SEE ABOUT ME).
Gareth here, for the third and final time. Your regular blogging service will resume Tuesday! Thank you for your patience!

Readers of the blog Diary of a Crossword Fiend will know Janie Smulyan as a regular commenter, and former author of zesty blogposts about the Crossynergy crossword. Her crossword debut was in fact yesterday, in the NYT, on Sunday no less, with Tony Orbach as co-pilot. Now Janie flies solo with her LAT debut today!

I must confess I only know the first of the trio, but also that I only found the third one tricky to parse. They seem genuinely well-known so I guess it's just my broken retrospective knowledge-base that's at fault. Wikipedia tells me the Day song was originally recorded some 30 years earlier than her 1955 rendition by one Ruth Etting and that her version was from a biopic of the same title with Day as Etting. I'm guessing you'll be wanting to have a listen, though again I can't play Youtube from where I am:

The fill, except maybe for one or two answers in the bottom-left (and actually that's probably a bit harsh), is flawlessly clean, with that cleanness at the expense of very few flashy answers. I reckon that to be a plus on a Monday though! The one big misstep I had in the puzzle was briefly having whiteSAUCE for 55A: Fettuccine Alfredo topping, e.g.(CREAM SAUCE). I suspect I won't be alone here!

  • 40A: Wild and Zany (ZANY). Rhymes with Janie!
  • 57A: "The Threepenny Opera" composer Kurt (WEILL). Didn't know him. He also wrote "Mack the Knife" apparently. I'm beginning to suspect a generation gap or two that might make meeting Janie on a Friday a bruising encounter!
  • 3D: New York canal (ERIE). "Low Bridge! Everybody down!"

  • 37D: Convenience for Northeastern toll-paying drivers (EZ PASS). How familiar is this to people in the rest of the US? I had seen it previous puzzles, though forgot what it was. The last 4 letters are at least completely inferable.
  • 49D: Packs away dishes? (EATS). Certified fresh clue! And, despite the "?" not that hard to figure out.
  • 50D: Dollar rival (EURO). I find it weird to think of currencies as rivals (I'm not saying it isn't a totally legit clue though...)
Crosswordese 101:

I can't believe it, but I found a Crossword-ese answer that hasn't yet been discussed! If you don't know CREE yet, make a note. In my (slightly out of date) copy of Matt Ginsburg's "Clue Database" it has appeared 56 times in the Los Angeles Times alone. Scanning the most common clues, it seems what you need to know is that a) They're native to the plains of Western Canada, b) They have a language, and c) They're of the Algonquian group. This should be sufficient information 95% of the time! Other factoids that have cropped up in the past are that famous Cree include Buffy Sainte-Marie and Chief Big Bear; and that their language gave us "pemmican," "Saskatchewan" and "Winnipeg."

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 39A: Barely made, with "out" (EKED).
  • 3D: New York canal (ERIE).
  • 54D: "__ Brockovich" (ERIN).
So there you guys have it... But what did you think of it?

Everything else 1A: Treble symbol (CLEF); 5A: Knock for a loop (DAZE); 9A: Red Delicious, e.g. (APPLE); 14A: Fishing need (LURE); 15A: [Lightbulb!] (IDEA); 16A: Bay Area county (MARIN); 17A: Landed on a perch (ALIT); 18A: Confidence-inspiring (REASSURING); 22A: "Just ___ naturally" (ACT); 23A: Dr.'s field (MED); 24A: Paranormal (OCCULT); 28A: Uppercase letters, briefly (CAPS); 30A: Weep and wail (SOB); 33A: "___ turn is it?" (WHOSE); 34A: Paper towel unit (ROLL); 35A: GI no-show (AWOL); 41A: They may be faith-based or quantum (LEAPS); 42A: Boxing count (TEN); 43A: Quick on one's feet (SPRY); 44A: King's are __ gods": Shakespeare's "Pericles"; 45A: Red, Yellow, or Black (SEA); 46A: "So-o-o-o good!"; 56A: A mere step away (NEAR); 58A: Walked heavily (TROD); 59A: Sandwich seller (DELI); 60A: Box for Beeb watchers (TELLY); 61A: William and Harry, to Charles (SONS); 62A: Black cat, to some (OMEN). 1D: Show appreciation at a show (CLAP); 2D: Quiet time (LULL); 4D: Greek salad cheese (FETA); 5D: Run the show (DIRECT); 6D: Really good (at) (ADEPT); 7D: Fervor (ZEAL); 8D: Leisure (EASE); 9D Gets a smile out of (AMUSES); 10D Peeled with a knife (PARED); 11D Puritanical (PRIM); 12D Bit of poetry (LINE); 13D: Subj. including grammar (ENG.); 19D: Sales rep's giveaway (SAMPLE); 21D: Oregon's capital (SALEM); 24D: Little hooter (OWLET); 25D: Fail in the clutch (CHOKE); 26D: Group of witches (COVEN); 27D: Like many flea market items (USED); 28D: Groanworthy, as a joke (CORNY); 29D: Friend in war (ALLY); 30D: "Don't __ the small stuff!" (SWEAT); 31D: Punchiness (OOMPH); 32D: Make holy (BLESS); 34D: Lion's warning (ROAR); 35D: Declare with confidence (AVER); 38D Remember the ___ (ALAMO); 43D: In good taste (SEEMLY); 44D: Fixes securely (in): (EMBEDS); 45D: T-shirt size (SMALL); 46D: City nicknamed "The Heart of Georgia" (MACON); 48D: Eye, to Yvette (OEIL); 51D: Reverse, in word processing (UNDO); 52D: Rain really hard (TEEM); 53D: Like 61A (MALE); 55D: 100 lbs. (CWT.)


Nighthawk said...

Nice write-up,@Garth. And congrats and thanks Ms. Smulyan.

Fun and smooth for a Monday. But, though I only needed a few crosses for the 3 theme answers, this took a bit longer than an average Mon. Maybe it was the CREAMSAUCE or REASSURING. Not sure, otherwise, why.

24A crossing 26D was deft and fun.

Had "yeux" for OEIL.

Oh, and Weill wrote the music, and Bertolt Brecht wrote the lyrics to the songs in Threepenny Opera, which included, as both the opening and closing numbers the song now universally known as "Mac The Knife", and "The Pirate Jenny" a/k/a "The Black Freighter" among others. In other crosswordese, Weill's wife, Lotte Lenya, often appeared in productions of the play, winning a Tony in 1956 as the pirate "Jenny" in an Off-Broadway production that also included: Ed Asner, Jerry Orbach, Bea Arthur, John Astin, and Jerry Stiller. Lots of crossworld mileage there.

cathydixson said...

Easy for a Monday morning - went through it quickly until I got to 52D - never heard the word "teem" used for rain really hard. But it's there in my dictionary.

Gareth Bain said...

To tie it all together, the Tony Orbach Janie coauthored her debut yesterday is the son of Jerry...

Mari said...

I also had thoughts on 49D and 50D. I liked "packs away dishes", but agree that Euros and Dollars don't seem like rivals in my book.

Lots of black cats in my home (62A). I'd like to think they are good "omens"!

Anonymous said...

One small gripe - confused with the clue for alfredo topping - the sauce is not the topping, cheese is the topping and the sauce is the dish. So took a while to get it with crosses.

slypett said...

Anon 6:35--Good point! The clue stuck in my craw, too, but I wasn't sure why until I read your post.

mac said...

Wow, Janie, when it rains it teems! NYT and LAT on consecutive days!

My favorite word is "seemly", we don't see that very often. I will have to listen to "Love me or leave me", that doesn't ring a bell, but I'd better wait until I'm alone in the room.

I can imagine one of the popular pasta bars offering cream/Alfredo sauce as a topping on their precooked linguine.

Steve said...

I had a bit of trouble with this today - took me about twice as long as usual for a Monday - nothing wrong with the construction, just something wrong with my brain.

I actually had a couple of do-overs - I had fAZE before DAZE, AVIS before EURO (my fault, didn't wait to check for a cross) and OOMPa (don't know what I was thinking there).

The CREAM SAUCE didn't bother me insofar as the topping/dish question, more that the dish in it's original and classic form doesn't have cream in it at all - it's just butter and parmesan.

I've actually eaten it at the original Alfredo's restaurant in Rome. You don't get a topping of anything - the cheese is already in the preparation.

I'm re-reading one of the Beatles biographies at the moment, so PLEASE PLEASE ME is stuck in my head now.

badams52 said...

I didn't have a problem with CREAM SAUCE. I knew what the clue was looking for. But I first tried pasta SAUCE and then white SAUCE before getting the CREAM SAUCE cross with SMALL.

Didn't have the foggiest on CWT, CREE, WEILL or OEIL, so I googled two of the four to get it done. Otherwise a fairly easy Monday fair.

Also had MAsON before MACON. I knew sause just didn't look right.

Don't have a problem with EUROs being Dollars rival. If you are investing in both or exchanging money, they kind of are rivals.

Liked seeing the clue/answer for MMM.

Anonymous said...

Great detail on Kurt Weill, @Nighthawk. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

One small comment: The TREBLE CLEF sign is the G-CLEF.

The C-Clef designates the Tenor of Alto clef depending on the clef that passes through the center symbol.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for filling in, Gareth. I thoroughly enjoyed your reviews, and found them superior to the regular entries.

WordCrosser said...

@Anon: I'm sure you meant C-DEF and G-DEF not C-Clef or G-Clef.

A Clef is a staff line on a sheet of music.

Anonymous said...

@WordCrosser: You're correct ... sorry, need to learn to proof read my posts before I hit publish ....

Also: that's "tenor alto' ...
Sheesh ...

CoffeeLvr said...

Great fresh idea for a theme, I really liked it. Thanks, Janie, and congratulations on your solo debut. I got an ear worm of COME SEE ABOUT ME, but that's a good one to have.

I got hung up in the SW because I mis-spelled OieL, and couldn't remember Weill. Technically, a DNF, as I tried CnT and CcT before CWT. By solving on line, I got another bite or two at the APPLE.

I'm in the Midwest, so needed crosses for EZPASS. I do think I've heard of it, probably from watching Law & Order. (Hi, PG!)

Thanks for stepping up and hosting Gareth. Nice entry for CREE.

janie said...

talk about yer "zesty blogposts"! looks to me, gareth, like you're as constructive a deconstructor as you are a creative constructor!

as i posted over at amy's, today's debut -- coming as it does on the heels of yesterday's -- has been an embarrassment of riches (tho not an embarrassment of rich’s, we hope!) and a *most* happy-making one at that!!

the sound feedback, the congrats, the warm welcome -- all of this has made for one extraordinary “15 minutes”!!

a *big* thx, one and all!!


Steve said...

@Wordcrosser and @Anon 10:25

You're both kinda right and kinda wrong.

There are three clefs - G, C and F. You'll know the G and F clefs from piano sheet music - G for the upper staff, F for the lower. The C clef is mostly used for vocal scores.

When the G clef is placed on the second line of the staff (most common), it's called the Treble Clef.

When the F clef is placed on the fourth line of the staff (most common), it's called the Bass Clef.

The clefs indicate which line of the staff is the G or the F. It's a common misunderstanding that the G is always the second line of the upper staff in sheet music. It's not - it's only G because that's where the G clef is placed.

You can indicate the G anywhere you like on the five lines (or four spaces) of the staff by placing it wherever you want. The musician trying to read your composition probably won't thank you for it though.

Steve said...

Just to be clear (hopefully!) - C is middle C, G is the G above middle C, F is F below middle C.

Rojo said...

Really fun write-up Gareth.

I feel like I'm slipping lately, with the past two Sunday and Saturday DNFs and now finding this Monday harder than I expected. That bottom third added a few minutes more than usual, although I did have WEILL very quickly, as I'm a big fan of the Three-Penny Opera. And to draw another connection, to the Three-Penny Opera, I knew all three songs in the theme today, but the second one I know from Nina Simone, rather than Doris Day (that link is Nina's version on youtube). Simone also does a rather nice version of Pirate Jenny/the Black Freighter mentioned above by Nighthawk. And here's the link for that chilling rendition on youtube. (Sorta NSFW, picture of a large-breasted woman in a state of semi-undress over the music for some mysterious reason, apparently because of the pirate hat on her head).

Anyway, that bottom half still had me kinda stumped for bit and I had to racking around the nether-regions of my brain to remember COME SEE ABOUT ME, although I think I listened to that fine tune no later than three or four days ago.

You can count me as another who was troubled by the dollar rival clue. I was trying to think of some car rental company (Isn't there a Dollar rental car company?) MACON, on the other hand, came pretty quickly after I realized that MMM was not, in fact, yuM, because MACON is the birthplace of my musical super-hero, Otis Redding.

Rojo said...

Oh, and I think OEIL should be considered crosswordese (if it's not already, I didn't look it up because I'm lazy). I feel like I see it alot. Often associated with "Trompe l'oeil" which is French for art that tricks the eye.

KJGooster said...

I too thought this was a tougher Monday than usual, though a good one. Mondays are usually under 5min for me, but this one was considerably longer.

Did not know Kurt WEILL, so that W was the last to fall for me. I am also not that familiar with CWT as an abbrev. although once in place it kinda looks familiar. Had AVIS for "Dollar rival" before the crossed fixed that. I also didn't like the plural EARTHS (since there's only one, parallel universes aside), but at least it was clued via quote as the plural possessive.

CrazyCatLady said...

Thanks for another fine write up and thanks to Janie for a fun Monday debut puzzle - enjoyed the theme.

I was able to speed through this until that little SW corner where I didn't know WEILL or CWT, spelled OEIL wrong and couldn't get my mind around the fact that Beeb is the BBC. I kept thinking Box for Beeb must be a TV show. I attribute it to Monday morning fog. Finally the "lightbulb" went on and I was able to get TELLY and guessed at the W for CWT.

Sfingi said...

@Mari - Bless you. Humane societies everywhere have a hard time placing black cats.

Had yuM before MMM.

Had to read the Drei Groschen Oper in Deutsch. Lyrics by Brecht.

The Moritat: Und der Haifisch, der had Zähne, und die trägt im Gesicht.
Und Macheath, der hat ein Messer, Doch das Messer sieht man nicht.

The shark has teeth and carries them in his mouth.
Macheath has a knife, and no one sees the knife.
Scarier in German.

mac said...

@CCC: Don't feel bad. I've lived in England twice, visit two or three times a year, have lots of friends there, and have NEVER heard them use that expression for the BBC. I'm going to be there in two weeks, I'll make a point of asking the friends we are getting together with.

Steve said...

@Mac - I'm a Brit - and can tell you that "The Beeb" is common, sometimes even more chummily called "Auntie Beeb".

Maybe it's a little archaic now, but when I was a kid and there were only two channels, if you were watching a program(me) you were bored with, a common question was "What's on the Beeb?" if you were watching ITV, and "What's on the Other Side?" if you were watching BBC.

ITV took a long while to shed the moniker "the Other Side".

Rojo said...

I still see "the Beeb" bandied about on my political/news blogs, most of which are not British.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing up the "Beeb" clue. I thought it was a Bieber reference and wondered, "Do people think Canadians use the word telly?" Not to mention that the answer didn't make a lot of sense.

CP said...

A Monday that almost had me, blew through most of it and then got stumped in the SE corner, couldn't remember COME SEE part of 55A the clue for some reason, but had ABOUT ME. Guessed right on the beeb clue. WEILL is a new one. Once i got CREE it came together..Gulp. Almost a SWEAT and a CHOKE.

C said...

Fun puzzle for a Monday. Thanks to Mr. Bain for the extended blogging duty.

Wasn't the book 'bury my heart at wounded knee' about the Cree? Guess I could research that on my own if inclined, last post of the day most likely so will keep the results to my self.

CrazyCatLady said...

I think you're thinking of the Creek. "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" dealt more with the Sioux, and the Cheyenne, the battle of Little Big Horn and the slaughter of the Sioux at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. It's a terrible story. I spent some time traveling "The Trail of Tears" which dealt with the relocation of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminole and others who were relocated from the deep south to Oklahoma. It's all a sad part of our early US history.

slypett said...

Crazy Cat Lady: It's not that early.

Anonymous said...

Wow what a read today. I too had issues w/ the southwest corner, but it was more fun to learn what I didn't know from all the regulars (@CCC that includes you!). Thanks all!

Mari said...

@Rojo, Yes! Dollar is a rental car company. I think that's why a few of us were trying "Avis" for "Dollar Rival".