08.11 Thu

August 11, 2011
Clive Probert

Theme: Boxing Day — Each theme answer is a boxing term clued as if it's something else.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Very angry, informally? (RIGHT CROSS).
  • 26A: Tackle box item for liberals? (LEFT HOOK).
  • 44A: Chuck steak, for example? (UPPER CUT).
  • 58A: What 17-, 26- and 44-Across are, figuratively and literally (PUNCHLINES).
Cute idea for a theme although I can't say I'm super excited about the execution. Not really sure what the problem is. I think I wanted all the theme clues to involve the same kind of word play, but they all seem a little disjointed. Also, eight letters is awfully short for a theme answer and it looks like this puzzle stuck to the "rule" that no entry is longer than the theme answers. So that means lots of short words. On the bright side, I didn't see a single word in the grid that we've covered here in Crosswordese 101 and, honestly, that's pretty amazing. (I don't always catch the CW, so I could be wrong. If I am, I'm sure one of you will let us know in the comments.)

Highlights in today's grid include HEAVE-HO and BEST OF (10D: Bar drunk's comeuppance / 9D: Words on a "greatest hits" album). I don't believe I've ever seen the phrase "de TROP" (32D: De __: excessive) and kinda wonder what that's all about. Loved the tricky clue for EARP (31D: Holliday friend). Pretty easy to misread that one. And TOFU (30D: Flavor-absorbing food) of course brought to mind the lovely conversation we had at dinner on Saturday night at a vegetarian restaurant. Oh man. I still have to tell you all about Lollapuzzoola, don't I? How the hell is it Thursday already? I'll do what I can to post something about it tonight. In the meantime, I'll leave you with [28D: Soul great OTIS Redding].

Crosswordese 101: NIM (60D: Matchstick-removing game) doesn't come up too terribly often, but I think it warrants a little discussion so you'll remember it next time. If you're interested in the details of NIM, check out its Wikipedia page. Clues for NIM will pretty much always include the word game. Here are the other words you might see in the clue that should point you toward NIM: math, matchsticks, matches, sticks, and takeaway. You are now fully prepared for the next time NIM appears in a puzzle. My work here is done.

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Everything 1A: Bike part (PEDAL); 6A: Boo-boo (FLUB); 10A: Call heard at night (HOOT); 14A: Upstage a co-star, perhaps (EMOTE); 15A: No trouble at all (EASE); 16A: Within: Pref. (ENDO-); 17A: Very angry, informally? (RIGHT CROSS); 19A: Don Juan's love (AMOR); 20A: European cheese with a Protected Designation of Origin (STILTON); 21A: Alehouse (TAVERN); 23A: High regard (ESTEEM); 24A: Two-time '80s-'90s Senate majority leader (DOLE); 25A: Roman trio (TRE); 26A: Tackle box item for liberals? (LEFT HOOK); 30A: Head of Québec (TÊTE); 33A: New driver, typically (TEEN); 35A: Heart line (AORTA); 36A: Crew member (OAR); 37A: 1947 South Seas traveler (KON-TIKI); 39A: Wrongdoing (SIN); 40A: Hobbit on a quest (FRODO); 42A: California's __ Valley (SIMI); 43A: Deep-six (TOSS); 44A: Chuck steak, for example? (UPPER CUT); 46A: Carol opener ('TIS); 48A: One of the guys (MALE); 49A: Cling cause (STATIC); 53A: Twins in the sky (GEMINI); 56A: "The Legend of Zelda: __ of Time": video game (OCARINA); 57A: Base runner? (AWOL); 58A: What 17-, 26- and 44-Across are, figuratively and literally (PUNCHLINES); 61A: Temerity (GALL); 62A: Words after step or sleep (ON IT); 63A: IV part (INTRA); 64A: Pay to play (ANTE); 65A: A fish named Dory helped find him (NEMO); 66A: Starts fishing (CASTS); 1D: In and of itself (PER SE); 2D: Throws off (EMITS); 3D: Shirk responsibility (DOG IT); 4D: One playing the field, e.g. (ATHLETE); 5D: Alphabet soup bit (LETTER); 6D: Bouquet greenery (FERN); 7D: Thai language (LAO); 8D: Navy ship letters (USS); 9D: Words on a "greatest hits" album (BEST OF); 10D: Bar drunk's comeuppance (HEAVE-HO); 11D: Generous words (ON ME); 12D: Febreze target (ODOR); 13D: Having a hard time deciding (TORN); 18D: Recover from a knockout (COME TO); 22D: Central Asia's __ Mountains (ALTAI); 24D: It's in your jeans (DENIM); 26D: "__ Bleed": Stones album (LET IT); 27D: Roughly (OR SO); 28D: Soul great Redding (OTIS); 29D: 24-Across's state: Abbr. (KANS.); 30D: Flavor-absorbing food (TOFU); 31D: Holliday friend (EARP); 32D: De __: excessive (TROP); 34D: Come next (ENSUE); 37D: Mullah's text (KORAN); 38D: Velvet Elvis, e.g. (KITSCH); 41D: "The King of Kings" (1927) director (DEMILLE); 43D: Winter Palace woman (TSARINA); 45D: Like some earrings (CLIP-ON); 47D: Like biased writing? (ITALIC); 50D: Turns blue, perhaps (TINTS); 51D: Like a noble gas (INERT); 52D: Hidalgo houses (CASAS); 53D: Hung up on, with "over" (GAGA); 54D: McGregor of "Emma" (1996) (EWAN); 55D: Shed (MOLT); 56D: Bi- cubed (OCTO-); 59D: Somme one (UNE); 60D: Matchstick-removing game (NIM).


Sfingi said...

DNF, HTG massively: NIM, FRODO, NEMO, OCARINA, EWAN, expressions like "dog it" and "base runner." "deep six" for merely TOSS - all lots of kid-stuff. Makes this one feel her age.
Also, French - TROP. Just didn't get it.

Wanted "lAzeS" for starts fishing, and had Napa before SIMI, whOo before HOOT.

Didn't like that TIS was supposed to start the carol that actually begins "Deck."

And an OAR is a crew member?

Wash out here.

Pete said...

@PG - Agree that the puzzle was theme-thin, but 90%+ themes don't do anything for me, so I didn't care. I was much more impressed at the quality of the rest of the puzzle, and found it a nice smooth solve.

Matthew said...

Not too bad. Most of it was pretty smooth except for the upper left corner. Had "wheel" for 1A and "evade" 3D and just could not make the durn thing work. Eventually got it. Like others, have no idea about "trop". Got it from the crosses. Nice puzzle, overall.

VirginiaC said...

Once I cheated and looked at your solve I remembered hearing De Trop once many years ago and asking what it meant. I was told "over the top". I guess it was in use once....probably in ancient times.

*David* said...

I liked it very much, theme was cute and puzzle was rock solid. Had a couple of problems at the beginning where I wanted SPOKE for PEDAL but then moved nicely through the grid. NIM was on the edge of my brain probably a CW 202word as far as frequency nowadays.

badams52 said...

Agree with @PG about the puzzle theme. My biggest complaint is that to me the theme answers aren't literal. I would never call RIGHT CROSS, LEFT HOOK, or UPPER CUT PUNCH LINES. I would call them PUNCHes. A literal punch line to me would be people lining up to get some punch. So a person walking up to the back of the line might ask, "Is this the PUNCH LINE?"

I was proud of myself (though it took 35 minutes) to get all of the answers except for the KONTIKI/ALTAI cross.

The clue for head in French stumped me for a while in a good way.

Liked HEAVE HO, and the clue for EARP (I misread it as holiday for a while).

Didn't like DOGIT. Didn't think the clue matched well.

Otherwise a good solve

revrev said...

True story....
24D) It's in your jeans

At one point I had _ E N I _

I'll admit I gave a childish laugh.

Mari said...

Smooth solve with minimal white-out. I liked 57A (Base Runner / AWOL), but got stumped on the KONTIKI/ALTAI cross.

Have a great day!

C said...

I dug today's puzzle, had a nice flow to the solve probably because there wasn't much difference in word length from the shortest to the longest answer (3-8 as opposed to 3-15 in most daily puzzles)

I liked OCARINA, brought back good memories of playing Zelda. My wife took the name I gave my character for that game and turned it into my nickname. Now my nieces use it as well. Learning: be careful what you name your game characters.

Steve said...

LOL @revrev - Comment of the Day!

I liked this a lot, had to dig around the memory banks a little. Didn't know OCARINA but that's what crosses are for. Had KITCHY before I looked at it again and corrected myself.

ATHLETE came last, partly because I'd filled in RIGGTCROSS and partly because I refused to accept that EMOTE could be clued like it was - IMHO that's not a good clue.

@PG - agree that there's no CWese in here, a very nice fill.

Regarding TOFU, I read recently that a vegan lady here in California had her vanity plate recalled by the DMV because a number of people had misread "I (heart) TOFU" as something else and called to complain.

badams52 said...


It was Colorado, though I've heard people claim it to be a British story and many other places as well.


John Wolfenden said...

Coming off a Facebook Scrabble binge and not doing the crossword for several months, this was a pleasant welcome back. Nicely punned theme clues, and I thought "Base runner" for AWOL was a ribtickler.

Having tried STILTON several times, I can't say I understand why it's a protected cheese. It's useful if you want to clear out a room, but beyond that...

Loved revrev's comment, although I suppose that answer would be considered problematic since not all puzzlers are men. Is that denim in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

CoffeeLvr said...

Didn't know ALTAI, but I knew all the crosses. I read KONTIKI as a kid, and always want to squeeze it into any space for a Thor Heyerdahl raft; I have learned that the short answer is either Ra II or Ra I (which is so wrong, since it was just Ra til it had to be replaced.)

Very smooth, USS is the closest thing to crap fill, but that is not much.


CP said...

Zipped right through this one, seemed easy for a Thursday, but alas , fell one square short. Downfall was the common O in TROP and FRODO, guessed an E instead, coz I never heard of deTROP or FRODO. I guess now I know.

STILTON is oh so tasty, but can only eat a bit at a time.

Oh yes...."I'm ready for my close up Mr. DEMILLE!!!!"

Rojo said...

Well, this puzzle took one look at me and immediately fell to its knees, weeping and begging for mercy. None was given. (in other words, a nice ego-boost after struggling with DNFs on sat and sun, and unusual difficulties with mon and tue)

Almost all of it seemed to be geared towards my strengths.

OTIS? Just my favorite singer of all time, check! (and thanks PG for the Otis tune)

GEMINI? Why yes I am, thanks very much, check!

OCARINA of time? Yep, I am a nerd, check!

FRODO? Nerd again, check!

DOLE and KANS? Do I obsessively follow national politics? Yes I do, check!

I did, lest I boast too much, have two brief mis-steps, quRAN, instead of KORAN (but FRODO quickly steered me to the correct answer) and scaB instead of FLUB, but LAO steered me off that about as quickly.

Rojo said...

Actually, I waffle between Otis and Sam Cooke, Otis's favorite singer.

And I meant to mention that I found the theme kinda meh, just kinda sat there, sorry Clive.

CP said...

Realized I put Fredo and not FRODO 'cause I had the Godfather II in mind, Michael Corleone:
"I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!"

Gerry said...

What annoys me time and again in puzzles is when there's a clue where I know the answer, but don't know what spelling they are looking for. Like today, Tsarina.

Now, I've seen three different spellings for a Russian ruler, tsar, tzar, and czar. All correct. Though, I'd like to think that it comes from "Ceasar" as do King and Kaiser, Czar would probably be the most correct.

But, I'm not Russian so I could be wrong.

Drew C said...

My opinion on some of the clues:

6a boo-boo: I think of a boo-boo as a small injury, and flub means to screw something up. Didn't realize flub could be a noun, like a screw up. And a boo-boo could be a screw up, as in "I made a serious boo-boo".

30a Head of Quebec = tete. I actually got this one, but though the clue was not great. The word 'of' implies it is FROM Quebec. A tete is not from Quebec, but is how most people say head there. If the clue was 'Quebec head' I would not have had a problem with this.

36a Crew member: Oar? Crew members are people on a boat. An oar is not a person. It is a tool. Dumb clue in my opinion.

Liked Kontiki, and got that quickly, though didn't know the date off hand.

48a One of the guys: Male Got this after a while though thought the clue was not too good.

I liked 'static', 'gemini', and 'ocarina' I used to play that game.... that is the only time I've heard of that instrument.... does it exist outside of hyrule (zelda land)?

57a Base runner: awol. I thought awol means absent without leave. I've seen it as a noun in a lot of crosswords though. I guess it can be a noun?

4d One playing the field, e.g. = athlete. I know an athlete plays on a field, but they really play their opponent. They do not against the field. Not sure I understand the logic here.

6d Bouquet greenery = fern. I always see ferns when I walk through marshy areas. Do people put these in bouquets? I really don't know because I'm not really into this.

18d Recover from a knockout: cometo It seems like it should be awaken from a knock out. I don't think you are necessarily 'recovering' from a knockout.

24d I also had _eni_. Thought a p and s would go, but it didn't fit with the cali valley thing.... which is usually napa or simi.

31d Holliday friend. Not too many problems with this, but shouldn't be Holliday's friend? Like, if I was a friend of George, you would say, you are George's friend, not George friend.

Loved De trop. Learned this word from a word building book when I was young. First time I used it since.

47d Like biased writing: italic. Italic is slanted. Is it biased? Not sure about the use there.

Loved the matchstick game Nim. Learned this game years ago. I know a strategy t never lose depending on who goes first and the number of matchsticks.


CrazyCat said...

When I see Ocarina, I always think of the Macarena

Hoping you're all asleep zzzz

vivelavidarocka said...

If anyone's still reading, there was a line in the Cole Porter "You're the Top": ...as the French would say, de Trop, but if baby I'm the bottom, you're the top!

That's how I heard it.

Drew C said...

I thought that 'de trop' was pronounced 'du trow'? It is french, no? That would not rhyme in the cole porter song. Someone let me know if they find this out. Thanks.