09.08 Thu

September 8, 2011
Bill Thompson & Anne Thompson Richter

Theme: Chopped Liver — The first and last letters of each theme answer spell the word "liver."

Theme answers:

  • 18A: Portrayer of the Elf maiden Arwen in "The Lord of the Rings" (LIV TYLER).
  • 26A: Exist like a mob informant, say (LIVE IN FEAR).
  • 49A: Enjoy leisurely (LINGER OVER).
  • 60A: Solon (LAW GIVER).
  • 69A: It's chopped, in a way, in 18-, 26-, 49- and 60-Across (LIVER).
"Chopped liver" is a great phrase and it definitely works as a theme.
Did you notice that the word is broken up differently in each theme answer? Very cool. I, personally, have never eaten liver. It just looks too much like an internal organ for me. ::shiver::

It's only Thursday, but there were quite a few things in today's grid that I just flat-out didn't know.
  • 9A: "__ Astor": Sargent portrait (LADY). Luckily, this one became clear with crosses.
  • 23A: Award for books on tape (AUDIE). That's a pretty cute name for an award, so I'm glad to have heard of it now. I wonder if when celebrities are writing memoirs these days they think to themselves, "Oh crap. I'm going to have to read this whole thing out loud."
  • 42A: "Pink Shoe Laces" singer Stevens (DODIE). I think I'm just barely the wrong age for this one. I vaguely — vaguely — recall a singer named DODIE, but I never would have put the name together with Stevens.
  • 62A: Santa Catalina's only city (AVALON). Again, with crosses there came a point where there wasn't much it could be but AVALON, but it's definitely not a place I've heard of. In Santa Catalina anyway. I know it from King Arthur. And the car lot.
  • 68A: Old IBM PCs (XT'S). Could have been any two letters and an S as far as I was concerned.
  • 30D: Indira's successor (RAJIV). For a minute, I thought this one should be parsed RAJ and the Roman numeral 4. Haha! But I heard a little voice way in the back of my head telling me that was stupid.
Stand-out entries today include POOR DEVIL (35D: Unfortunate soul) and "DANG IT!" (48D: "Aw, shucks!"). Clunkers are ARE UP (34A: Words in a market report) and COLORER (6D: Kid finishing a book, maybe). Other than that, I think we'll get right to the bullets.

  • 6A: Jazz aficionado (CAT). Not many people can get away with calling other people CATs. But the ones who can are very very cool.
  • 16A: __ of mystery (AURA). First thought in my head was "MAN of mystery." When that didn't fit, it was really hard to change gears and think of something different.
  • 37A: Somersaulting dive (GAINER). Haven't thought about this word since … the last time I watched the Summer Olympics.
  • 56A: Beatles title woman who "made a fool of everyone" (SADIE). Don't tell Andrea, but I only know the title of this song — I've never heard it!
  • 2D: Nincompoop (BOOB). Yesterday with the BREAST, today with BOOB, what do we have to look forward to tomorrow?!
  • 10D: Seasonal song starter (AULD). I never think of New Year's with a clue like this. I just decide there are too many Christmas songs and I'll wait for crosses. Then … ::facepalm::.
  • 12D: Easy to maneuver, at sea (YARE). Learned this one from crosswords.
  • 19D: Cap with a pom-pom called a toorie (TAM). Wow. Who knew that pom-pom had a fancy name? That's awesome.
  • 44D: Guts (INNARDS). Ew.
  • 59D: Growl (GNAR). Again, learned it from crosswords. This is one of those words that looks like it should mean something totally different than what it means. I want it to mean a knot or a mess of some kind.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 41A: Tolkien creature (ORC).
  • 57A: Bit of work (ERG).
  • 1D: Indian tomb site (AGRA).
  • 50D: "Giant Brain" unveiled in 1946 (ENIAC).
  • 63D: "Wheel of Fortune" purchase (AN I).
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Everything 1A: Leader elected by monks (ABBOT); 6A: Jazz aficionado (CAT); 9A: "__ Astor": Sargent portrait (LADY); 13A: Rule (GOVERN); 15A: Maker of Good Grips kitchen tools (OXO); 16A: __ of mystery (AURA); 17A: Former quarterback Peete (RODNEY); 18A: Portrayer of the Elf maiden Arwen in "The Lord of the Rings" (LIV TYLER); 20A: Hunk's pride (ABS); 21A: The sun, in Canc˙n (EL SOL); 23A: Award for books on tape (AUDIE); 24A: Torchiere, e.g. (FLOOR LAMP); 26A: Exist like a mob informant, say (LIVE IN FEAR); 29A: Mlle. counterpart (SRTA.); 33A: Nut in a cupule (ACORN); 34A: Words in a market report (ARE UP); 36A: Equip with firepower (ARM); 37A: Somersaulting dive (GAINER); 39A: Executive position (TOP JOB); 41A: Tolkien creature (ORC); 42A: "Pink Shoe Laces" singer Stevens (DODIE); 46A: Green shade (OLIVE); 47A: Tourney ranking (SEED); 49A: Enjoy leisurely (LINGER OVER); 51A: 1988 Radio Hall of Fame inductee (AMOS 'N' ANDY); 53A: Boss, in Swahili (BWANA); 56A: Beatles title woman who "made a fool of everyone" (SADIE); 57A: Bit of work (ERG); 60A: Solon (LAW GIVER); 62A: Santa Catalina's only city (AVALON); 64A: All: Pref. (OMNI-); 65A: Wrap up (END); 66A: Place for a picture (CINEMA); 67A: Narc's goal (BUST); 68A: Old IBM PCs (XT'S); 69A: It's chopped, in a way, in 18-, 26-, 49- and 60-Across (LIVER); 1D: Indian tomb site (AGRA); 2D: Nincompoop (BOOB); 3D: Briefs not seen in court (BVD'S); 4D: Sommelier's prefix (OEN-); 5D: Like many a New England street (TREE-LINED); 6D: Kid finishing a book, maybe (COLORER); 7D: They're under shoulder joints, anatomically (AXILLAE); 8D: "Mazel __!" (TOV); 9D: Bucks shots (LAYUPS); 10D: Seasonal song starter (AULD); 11D: Eins und zwei (DREI); 12D: Easy to maneuver, at sea (YARE); 14D: Versatile synthetic (NYLON); 19D: Cap with a pom-pom called a toorie (TAM); 22D: Remote hiding place? (SOFA); 24D: Frond bearer (FERN); 25D: Stuck, after "in" (A RUT); 26D: Old Nigerian capital (LAGOS); 27D: Words of compassion (I CARE); 28D: Walt Disney, vis-à-vis Mickey Mouse (VOICE); 30D: Indira's successor (RAJIV); 31D: Treasure stash (TROVE); 32D: Brew hue (AMBER); 35D: Unfortunate soul (POOR DEVIL); 38D: Chewy caramel candy (ROLO); 40D: Sneaky maneuver (PLOY); 43D: Buck the majority (DISSENT); 44D: Guts (INNARDS); 45D: Quaint outburst (EGAD); 48D: "Aw, shucks!" ("DANG IT!"); 50D: "Giant Brain" unveiled in 1946 (ENIAC); 52D: It follows April in Paris (MAI); 53D: Shapeless form (BLOB); 54D: U.S.'s largest S&L until its 2008 collapse (WAMU); 55D: Botanical bristles (AWNS); 57D: Mtn. statistic (ELEV.); 58D: Where all roads lead? (ROME); 59D: Growl (GNAR); 61D: Annoy (VEX); 63D: "Wheel of Fortune" purchase (AN I).


Anonymous said...

XTS were the middle of IBM's PC line. ATS were the top of the line. This was in the day of the Hayes modem. I should know I owned both.

Gene said...

Dodie prevented a "100%" today. I guessed Didi. (Chewy Caramel, relo??) The only Dodie I knew was commedienne Dodie Goodman who was a frequent guest on the Jack Parr (Tonight) show. She played kind of an air-head.

Tuttle said...

By my count 24 of 76 answers were pure trivia rather than wordplay. That's just too much IMO.

rrh said...

Went to Avalon (62A) as a kid...with Mom, Dad, and 2 bros. We had fun there....26 miles across the sea, as the song goes

VirginiaC said...

Solon="Lawgiver"? enlighten me please. So much for the wonderfully smooth week!!

Rojo said...

Finished without googling, but this was a tought Thurs. for me.

Never heard of a Torchiere before. YARE was a new word, as was GNAR.

Had PLOt instead of PLOY, which steered me off AMOS N ANDY for far too long.

RAJIV I knew, Indira's successor, and her son, as well. Also, like his mother, assassinated.

@VirginiaC Wikipedia says: "Solon (c. 638 BC – 558 BC) was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in archaic Athens. His reforms failed in the short term, yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy."

And also, I believe, Solon is sometimes used just to refer to legislators in general. As in the "Solons of the Senate"

Bill said...

OK, I'm dumb... who is the redhead in the last photo?

*David* said...

I liked this puzzle and the mix of fill, didn't feel as xwordese as usual. Had one square wrong where I put an S at the end of AUDI/YAR.

Brian said...

Bill-The last pic is a mystery to me too. It doesn't look like To(o)ri(e) Amos.

Rojo said...

The picture is of Connie Britton, who plays TAMi Taylor on "Friday Night Lights."

Steve said...

@Rojo - I had PLOT also, and as I built up the crossing I had ANDT then got N, giving me NANDT - then AMOS went in. So I sat there thinking "Who knew that Amos's last name was Nandt? I wonder what Andy's last name was?"

Funny what you can't see what's right under your nose.

Liked the puzzle overall - the theme saved me, I was struggling until I got the reveal and had LIV TYLER, then things started to fall into place.

Misty said...

Well, I got everything today, although it wasn't easy. Even remembered Dodie Stevens, which tells you something about my age.

Believe it or not, on a clear day we can see Catalina (26 miles) across the Pacific from the coast of southern California. You need to take a boat to Avalon since they don't allow cars there, which makes for great air quality and crystal visibility. Definitely worth a trip.

CrazyCat said...

I also fell victim to AMOS NANDT and PLOT. Had no idea and then it suddenly dawned on me - PLOY!

I had a lot of trouble in the SW because I had DARN instead of DANG and BUG instead of VEX which gave me LAWN IBER? I had no clue what Solon meant. Finally got all that fixed up once I figured out the theme.

AVALON is a great weekend trip, except for the time our hotel room was over a Karaoke bar (my kids thought it was fun). On a pristine day you can see Santa Catalina from our local foothills. There's also an AVALON on the Jersey Shore.

CoffeeLvr said...

Well, I was very glad to see @PG call out both AREUP & COLORER as clunkers, because their intersection was wrong in my grid. I had AtEUP. I also had a FLOOdLAMP. I was ready to conclude that COLOpEt was an unknown term for a goat that eats everything (kid finishing a book.)

I was very frustrated with this grid when it came out in the middle of the night, so left it for this morning. I fixed the NW, figured out AMOSNANDY, remembered TYLER, SADIE & SOLON. But finally gave up and let the software show me my errors.

I liked the theme, chopped LIVER, a lot, and agree that it was elegant to split the word in different places.

CoffeeLvr said...

I meant COLOdEt.

mac said...

Nice puzzle, although I have to agree with the clunkers. I had a little trouble the two Bucks clues, but the crosses saved the day. Nice that "guts" was meant literally!

Anonymous said...

@Gene, chewy caramel should be Rolo for the candy (comes in a tube shaped wrapper, each piece individually foil-wrapped, chocolate with caramel inside).

Steve said...

@Misty and CrazyCat - one day earlier this year I was driving to LAX on the 405 from the Valley, and it was the clearest day I've ever experienced in LA. From the top of the Sepulveda pass I could see downtown Long Beach, the cranes on the wharves at San Pedro - and - I couldn't believe my eyes - Catalina. That's a good 40 miles.

Rojo said...

Extra note on SOLON. Googling around, I rather gather that it originally meant "wise lawmaker" in honor of the original person, but I think I've most come across it in sarcastic expression of disgust for various legislative bodies, (e.g., "Those Solons of the Congress just enacted The [name your preferred horribly stupid legislation here] Act. Idiots!"). Given that context, I had assumed it just meant "lawmaker," but I've come to understand that in un-sarcastic use it's supposed to mean "wise lawmaker."

Those who wish to argue that "wise lawmaker" is an oxymoron on par with "military music" will face no objections from me!

CrazyCat said...

@Steve - Those Catalina viewings are awe inspiring. Usually it's after good winter rainstorm. I live inland so its extra-amazing. I had to make my daughter take a hike with me because she thought I was making it up. We had a Mt. Baldy to Channel Island vista. Best view ever was from the top deck at the Getty Center after an intense rain.

@Rojo - Thanks for your elucidation of Solon.

Anonymous said...

I thought the gainer was a term to describe something awful happening, like when lou Ghenis cracked his skull on the diving platform doing a "tuck" maneuver. This is probably where the "gainer" term was keyed. As in " that guy just pulled a gainer from the top of that building." very tragic actually. What's more is he was HIV positive when he was bleeding profusely in the pool. Albeit it's hard to contract HIV in a chlorinated pool. But still. Bad day for Olympic divers all around.

Peter said...

Liked the theme but not the fill so much. Plenty of stuff I just didn't know. SW corner had me at a loss, and I still felt kinda at a loss when I saw the solution. I just couldn't place where I had heard the name Solon before, for starters, plus AWNS, BWANA, and WAMU combined to give me my first DNF in a while.

It also bugs me when some of the non-theme answers are longer than the theme answers, especially when they are across answers. Maybe it's just me.

Anonymous said...

'Sexy Sadie' refers not to a woman, but to a man- the Maharishi Yogi. it was John Lennon's critique of the man and his lifestyle.

Bill said...

Thanks for the explanation, Rojo. I've seen the show a couple of times but didn't make the connection.

Anonymous said...

I filled in "colored" for (6D) "kid finishing a book" and thought to myself "Man, that CAN'T be right?!?"
Didn't help that I didn't know the Latinate ending on Axilla and thought I had "ads up" providing me with a false confirmation.