09.16 Fri

September 16, 2011
Donna S. Levin

Theme: Yes, please! Foreign words meaning "yes" replace homonymic English ones, and the resulting phrases are clued "?" style.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Approval from a Càdiz resident (MEDITERRANEAN SI [SEA]).
  • 29A: Approval from Louis XIV (THE ROYAL OUI [WE]).
  • 40A: Approval from a shocked Scot (ELECTRIC AYE [EYE]).
  • 50A: Approval from a sushi chef at the lunch counter?(TWELVE O'CLOCK HAI [HIGH]).
Gareth here filling in for our prodigal blogger, PG. By the time you read this, I'll probably be kicking back with my nephew in Johannesburg for the weekend. You'd think the impending final veterinary exams would be stressing me but no...

Today's puzzle is a Donna S. Levin. The last time I blogged here I also blogged one of her puzzles. That's not TOO surprising, she's one of the most prolific constructors for the LA Times! With good reason! She comes up with some really great creative puzzles like this one! I'll bet I wasn't the only constructor solving this thinking "What a neat idea! I wish I thought of that!"

In general we are more familiar with foreign European languages than other foreign languages, and this is borne out by the fact three entries are drawn from these; the final entry is Japanese, so there is some balance: thank you!

Not too sure Scottish is in fact a separate language like the others, but it does have its own Wikipedia, so there's that!

Lastly, I had no idea of the base phrase of TWELVE O'CLOCK HAI; I wasn't even sure if it was originally HI or HIGH. I googled to find it's the latter spelling, and that the base phrase is in fact the title of a 1949 film, a 1950's radio series, and a 1960's TV series. Shrug. Sure you old-timers will weigh in here to tell me how much of a classic it was!

  • 1A: Last of three Catherines (PARR). Who else thought Russian tsars before wives of Henry VIII? The other two are "of Aragon" and "Howard."
  • 18A: Word of thanks (MERCI). More French.
  • 27A: Admission req. for 24-Across (GMAT), 28D: Sierra Club's first president (MUIR), 32D: Corp.-partnership hybrid (LLC) (Limited Liability Company?), 37A: Jack's UN ambassador (ADLAI). This was the last section of the puzzle to fall for me. My first guess for AD_A_ was ADDAM, but changed to ADLAI, a guess based on his being roughly in the right timeframe. ADDAM is... nobody! With ?UIR the only plausible letter was M but didn't know either of those two answers. Those US test thingies ending in __AT are always "wait for crossers" answers. I Don't know even know what the "Sierra Club" is either... Wikipedia sez he and the organization he founded were instrumental in starting the early National Parks like Yosemite, amongst other things. You can read more here. Interesting addition to my knowledge, thank you Donna S. Levin/Rich Norris!
  • 42A: "Fake is as old as the __ tree": Welles (EDEN). Liked the clue for this oft-repeated entry. (Didn't know it).
  • 56A: Indira's son (RAJIV). Indian PM from 1984-89, crossing 47D: Dead end, workwise (MC JOB) and 49D: Rootless sort (ROVER) makes for a cool little section even with 51D: Aforetime (ERST).
  • 58A: Concerning (ASTO). Crosswording dilemma! Is it this or INRE?
  • 4D: Sugar plant (REFINERY). Simple, elegant misdirection, but quite transparent with a couple of letters in place.
  • 21D: "Africa" band (TOTO). Notable, for being written/sung by a band who've never been to Africa on instruments none of which originate from Africa. Rather listen to this:
  • 26D: Rough waters (CHOP). Didn't know this meaning of CHOP, though I recognize it in the adjective CHOPPY.
  • 38D: Support for a Salchow (ICE SKATE) Salchow??? Google says it's a figure-skating jump. It gets less crossword attention than the AXEL or the CAMEL!
  • 46D: Chansons de __: medieval French poems (GESTE). Yet more French!
Crosswordese 101

There were several candidates for this feature, but I settled on two:

37A: Jack's UN ambassador (ADLAI), which caught me out today. I hadn't heard of him bc (before crosswords.) Possibly he's more familiar to people a generation or two older and also to those from the USA as opposed to foreigners like myself. He's been tangentially referred to in two previous episodes wherein his initials AES were discussed and here where his running mate ESTES Kefauver is given the spotlight. Apart from today's factoid you mostly need to know he ran against DDE (twice, but they liked Ike!) in the 50's. His grandfather had the same name and initials, and was Grover Cleveland's veep.

8D: Conquistador's chest (ARCA). Creaaak! That's an old-time crossword answer that doesn't crop up as often any more, like ERS the bitter vetch! Keywords are Medieval/Spanish/Treasure chest/box - variations on that theme. There's not too much more to it than that! I'll try and find a picture of one: Here ya go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Arca_santa_de_Oviedo.JPG! (Having problems embedding the sucker...)

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 1A: Last of three Catherines (PARR).
  • 15A: Last of the Oldsmobiles (ALERO).
  • 16A: Old Persian poet (OMAR).
  • 63A: Squeezed (out) (EKE).
  • 2D: Like the northern Lesser Antilles, vis-à-vis the Windward Islands (ALEE)
  • 31D: Yemen's chief port (ADEN).
  • 42D: Sniggling gear (EELPOT).
  • 51D: Aforetime (ERST).

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Everything else 5A: Plot (CABAL); 10A: Pathfinder org. (NASA); 14A: Natural balm (ALOE); 17A: Folio part (LEAF); 19A: Corn detritus (SILK); 23A: High-and-mighty (SNOOTY); 24A: Cambridge business school (SLOAN); 25A: Pair of barbershop groups (OCTET); 33A: Code on some NYC-bound luggage tags (OCTET); 36A: Cambridge Conservative (TORY); 38A: Markers (IOUs); 39A: They're sometimes special (OPS); 43A: It has some smart Alecs (MENSA); 44A: "Full House" co-star (SAGET). 47A: Place to get bogged down (MORASS); 55A: Rough talk (RASP). 57A: 50-and-up group (AARP). 59A: Encourage none too gently. 60A: Nursery rhyme tub assembly, e.g. (TRIO). 61A: Sharpen (WHET). 62A: Rutabaga, for one (TUBER). 1D: Chiromancer's reading material (PALM). 3D: Sporty two-seaters (ROADSTERS). 5D: Carved sardonyx (CAMEO). 6D: Bright-eyed (ALERT). 7D: Smoothie ingredient (BERRY). 9D: Tender cut (LOIN). 10D: Margarita choice (NO SALT). 11D: __ acid (AMINO). 12D: It might be caliente (SALSA). 13D: "Catch-22" actor (ARKIN). 22D: Morales in movies (ESAI). 25D: Name of four Holy Roman emperors (OTTO). 27D: Source of milk for chèvre (GOAT). 30D: Third-oldest U.S. university (YALE). 33D: One garnering lots of interest (LOANSHARK). 34D: Chaps (GUYS). 35D: Cruising (ASEA). 40D: Ron Howard send-up of reality shows (ED TV). 41D: Apple on a desk (IMAC). 44D: Frozen margarita insert (STRAW). 45D: Teeming (with) (AWASH). 48D: Drab color (OLIVE). 52D: Mount Ka'ala is its highest peak (OAHU). 53D: R&B singer India.__ (ARIE). 54D: Touch or shuffle (IPOD).


Gareth Bain said...

Ps, congrats usa on winning the battle of the superpowers who don't really care about rugby world cup match... owers who don't really care about rugby world cup match...

rrh said...

Yes, I have heard of 12 o'clock High...but had no idea that Scotland has its own wikipedia !

Mari said...

Ack! I'm yet to master foreign words and clues. Tough puzzle, but then again it is Friday. So I don't sound like a complainer, I'll mention that I liked the clues for 43A (It has some smart Alecs), and 33D (One garnering lots of interest).

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Matthew said...

Not too bad for a Friday. Got stumped for a while at the top, but once the bottom started filling in, the rest came relatively easily. Loved 33D -- very clever. On the other hand, hated 10D -- not because of the clue, but because the answer is virtual heresy. No salt on your margarita glass rim? Please. And let's not even discuss the subject of 44D (I believe Leviticus labels a frozen margarita as an abomination, not to be consumed). All that having been said, methinks Ms. Levin was looking forward to Friday happy hour. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

You know another viable answer for a Dead End Job crossing Rajiv (Indira's son)? Prime Minister of India.

*David* said...

Thanks for the fill in Gareth and I did notice the US victory in rugby. I have a couple of South African friends and I've been required to bone up on the basics of the game.

I went right down this puzzle from top to bottom which is rare for me on a Friday. My only real slow down was in the SW where I first put IN RE for AS TO and HONE for WHET. Was happy I didn't fall into the JFK trap by LGA, as I first looked at the downs.

Joon said...

gareth, you're in luck: there are only three __AT exams. in decreasing order of xword frequency, they are LSAT (law school), MCAT (med school), and GMAT (business school). i don't know what any of the letters stand for, and it's quite possible that they've been rebranded so that they don't technically stand for anything. if i had to guess, i'd try law school admissions (?) test, medical ... something?, and ... something ... management ... yeah, i dunno.

Gareth Bain said...

Isn't there also psat?

Anonymous said...

@Joon - 4: __SAT, you missed PSAT.
M[edical]C[ollege], L[aw]School, G[raduate]M[anagement].

Joon said...

also, even though it's a bit of a spoiler, if you can get your hands on jim leeds's puzzle for the chronicle of higher ed on may 9 2008, do check it out. it's a good one.

Joon said...

oh, PSAT is totally different. it's for high-school sophomores and juniors. it's basically the pre-SAT. that's easy enough to keep straight, isn't it?

Tuttle said...

To be utterly pedantic, the Japanese word 'hai' does not signify approval but, rather, correctness. It's a small but significant difference in meaning.

This is twice now that OMAR Khayam has been clued with his first name. Yet I've never seen "19th century American Poet" used to clue "Ralph" or "Edgar".

Other than initially entering 'hone' for WHET and 'husk' for SILK I found this one pretty easy for a Friday.

Old Timer said...

Twelve oclock high is a pilot's designation of an area in the sky, I beleive. Straight ahead and above.

Any pilots out there that can confirm?

Rube said...

My only write-overs were BERRY/juice and SILK/cobs. Got the theme at ELECTRIC AYE, simplifying the overall solve. Don't think I've seen ARCA in a puzz before, but translating it as "ark", as in "... of the covenant", makes it memorable.

Looked up the Scottish Wikipedia. What a gas. Just don't let any constructors see it or spellings in xwords will go to hell, e.g. "Airt an Cultur".

mac said...

Nice puzzle. My last letter to fill in was the F in refinery. I couldn't get away from those beets and canes... Also started with hone and husk.

That expression, McJob, is so sad.

I'm an LLC.

Thanks, Gareth, and good luck with the exams!

CoffeeLvr said...

I had the same writeovers as have already been mentioned by @*David* in the SW, plus I went husk, cobs, and finally SILK.

I like this puzzle a lot, MERCI Ms. Levin. Thanks for the informative writeup Gareth; you won't need luck on your exams, but will wish you luck anyway.

When I took the GMAT it was the ATGSB (Admissions Test for Graduate Study in Business.) I can see why they changed the name, five syllables vs. two.

I also took the GRE (Graduate Record Examination, I think) which I am sure many here are familiar with, but this was a list of xxAT exams. The other xAT test is MAT, Miller Analogy Test, which is also used for assessing applicants to graduate school. Yes, I took it, too.

Steve said...

Really nice - got nothing to add to what's already been said. Happy Weekend Y'all.

I've decided to stop annoying myself with the Sunday Calendar Reagle puzzles and found a local newsstand close by that has the NYT, so that's where I'm going to get my Sunday fix from now on.

CrazyCat said...

Thought it was a fun puzzle today with lots of French! and margaritas too (although I would have to agree with @Matthew). HTG chiromancer, sardonvx and salchow. Got off to a bad start by spelling Catherine PARR like Jack Paar.

John MUIR was part of the 4th grade CA History curriculum when my kids were in school. The other big names were Richard Henry Dana, Junípero Serra and the CA missions and the Donner Party. MUIR Woods National Monument in Marin County is featured in the movie "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

Thanks for filling in Gareth and best of luck on your exams.

Misty said...

It really helped that I just had a margarita on the rocks with salt when we went out to dinner on Wednesday night. And guess what--it had a straw sticking out even though it wasn't frozen! So I ignored the "frozen" and got it anyway!

Have a great weekend, everybody. I, for one, couldn't live without my Sunday LA Times Merl Reagle. On some Sundays the LA Magazine even offers a second Reagle. Almost as great as a margarita on the rocks with salt and straw!

CP said...

Puzzle made me think of HAI karate cologne, the ad had the guy fighting off the chicks. (Am I dating myself at 51?)
Favorite answers: EELPOT, CABAL and MCJOB.
Solid challenging Friday puzzle.

Anoa Bob said...

I'm guessing that whoever clued 12D SALSA as "It might be caliente" is not a Spanish speaker. "Caliente" means "hot" as in temperature. Salsa is usually served chilled or at room temp. If it's spicy, which it should be, then it's "picante" (similar to "piquant" in English). If it's "muy picante", be forewarned.

26D CHOP is a term heard regularly in maritime weather forecasts: "Winds out of the southeast at 15 to 20 knots; chop on the bay".

Tuttle @ 9:17, if "SI", "OUI" and "AYE" can signal "approval", then "HAI" should also. They all mean "yes".

Anoa Bob said...

Oh, one other thing. I'm old enough to remember 37A ADLAI Stevenson. He was perceived as an intelligent, thoughtful man. His opponents turned this against him and they scoffed at him for being an "egghead". (I believe this is the origin of the term; Adlai was bald on top.) So the race was between a war hero and an egghead.

Another bit of trivia: In Stanley Kubrick's film "Dr. Strangelove", Peter Sellers plays three parts. One of them is the U.S. President Merkin Muffley, whose character is a take-off on Adlai. check this out:

Rojo said...

Fun Friday, loved the theme.

I'm not an old-timer, but for some reason Twelve O'Clock High is common to me.

Adlai also, as my father always used to enjoy recounting how he ran into John F. Kennedy in the bathroom at the Democratic Convention while my father was campaigning for Adlai Stevenson.

I also remember Stevenson because it was he that got up in front of the UN and waved around the spy pictures of Soviet missiles in Cuba at the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a moment that was frequently compared to Colin Powell's speech at the UN seeking to justify an invasion of Iraq, where Powell waved around a small bottle of white powder (as an illustration of anthrax).

Sfingi said...

TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH was a movie when I was about 4, starring Gregory Peck. About a WWII pilot.
So, of course I'm familiar with Adlai.

Anyway, I liked the puzzle, and kept pushing, even though I HTG 11 times. Many clever answers, including theme. Yesterday, I kept pushing w/o Googling. I rarely like Thurs/Fri. I hope this is a sign of improvement on my part.

Initially, when I had the SA of 10A, I thought it was referring to the Seventh Day Adventists. Pathfinders, believe it or not, is the name of their youth organization.

Once had a professor obsessed with the class knowing that the 2nd American university was William and Mary. Put it on the tests.

Scots is/was a Low German language, as opposed to the Celtic Scottish. Dead or dying. Of course, English is classified as a Germanic language, doubled as a result of events of 1066.

Lemonade714 said...

Gareth: I find it funny you mention ERS: BITTER VETCH, as I quit doing crossword puzzles in the 70's because I saw that meaningless pair too often. Thanks for the memories.