09.23 Fri

September 23, 2011
Daniel Finan

Theme: Numb3rs — For the theme answers, clue numbers are part of the clue.

Theme answers:

  • 20: questions (FUN GUESSING GAME).
  • 36: hours (ONE AND A HALF DAYS).
  • 49: ers (FOOTBALL PLAYERS).
Super clever theme today. Really enjoyed it. If you're still confused by it, look at the way I posted the theme answers at the top of this write-up. (Usually I include an A (across) or a D (down) after the clue number, but I took the As out today so there would be a better visual presentation of the trick clues.) The answers themselves aren't really stand-alone phrases that are "in the language" (as they say). They are, instead, definitions, not unlike the type of theme we see from time to time where the theme answers all have the same one-word clue and each answer is a different definition of that word. Some people love those themes, some people get really bent out of shape that the theme answers aren't "really" theme answers. I like to see it every once in a while for a change of pace. And in this case, as I said, the theme is really clever so it's okay with me.

I definitely had several WTF moments throughout the solve, though.
  • 18A: Blanche __, pseudonymous author of the 1983 best-seller "Truly Tasteless Jokes" (KNOTT). Wait, really?
  • 22D: Swindler, in slang (GANEF). Ne-Ever heard this term. Oh, I see it's Yiddish slang. That pretty much explains it.
  • 44D: Walk bouncily (LOLLOP). Again with the ????
Clues that were definitely amped up for Friday include:
  • 14A: San __ (REMO). Geez Louise! Could be anything!
  • 45A: Seat of Colorado's Pitkin County (ASPEN). Very familiar Colorado place name, but difficult to see with that clue.
  • 7D: Where kip are spent (LAOS). Same here.
  • 53D: Hunted (PREY). The clue here is not a verb. That's what makes it tricky.
My write-overs:
  • 5D: Dug, so to speak (LIKED). Tried LOVED first.
  • 9D: Party pooper (WET NOODLE). Totally wanted this to be WET BLANKET. I was actually writing it in, and then … ran out of boxes.
  • 56D: Urban miasma (SMOG). Apparently, I don't know what "miasma" means because my first guess was SLUM.
  • 5A: Dey job? (L.A. LAW). The clue refers to Susan Dey who starred on the TV show "L.A. LAW." I don't know about you, but I have a hard time thinking of Susan Dey as anybody other than Laurie Partridge. ("Hello world, there's a song that we're singin' ….")
  • 24A: Annual sign of bad behavior? (COAL). It took me way too long to get that this clue refers to the "lump of coal" some people get in their stockings at Christmastime.
  • 35A: High point of an Alaskan trip? (DENALI). I used to call DENALI its other name until I met my husband, who climbs mountains for fun. Now I can't even remember its other name. Is it Mt. McKinley? Wikipedia says … yes.
  • 62A: Its state bird is the cardinal (OHIO). I had to think for a minute about Iowa's state bird here. I was pretty sure it wasn't the cardinal (it's the golfinch), but Iowa is always a possibility when you're looking for a four-letter state.
  • 6D: Heart lead singer Wilson et al. (ANNS). The PuzzleKids were watching "X Factor" last night and it appears that several people who have no business whatsoever singing "Barracuda" were attempting to sing "Barracuda."
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 16A: Adidas alternative (AVIA).
  • 57A: Frankfurt's river (ODER).
  • 58A: Phils, e.g. (NL'ERS).
  • 60A: '70s pinup name (LONI).
  • 11D: Where the iris is (UVEA).
  • 51D: Sommelier's prefix (OENO-).
  • 54D: Pre-coll. catchall (EL-HI).
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Everything 1A: Dollar bill weight, roughly (GRAM); 5A: Dey job? (L.A. LAW); 10A: __ Stream (GULF); 14A: San __ (REMO); 15A: Silly (INANE); 16A: Adidas alternative (AVIA); 17A: From the top (ANEW); 18A: Blanche __, pseudonymous author of the 1983 best-seller "Truly Tasteless Jokes" (KNOTT); 19A: "No ice, please" (NEAT); 20A: questions (FUN GUESSING GAME); 23A: Terhune collie (LAD); 24A: Annual sign of bad behavior? (COAL); 25A: "Alice" singer Lavigne (AVRIL); 28A: Orator's vocal quality (RESONANCE); 33A: Sacramento daily (BEE); 34A: Sched. B item on a 1040 (INT.); 35A: High point of an Alaskan trip? (DENALI); 36A: hours (ONE AND A HALF DAYS); 40A: Seven-time N.L. batting champ (MUSIAL); 41A: Storm dir. (ENE); 42A: They lead to an F (C-D-E); 43A: Six-pack abs? (BEER BELLY); 45A: Seat of Colorado's Pitkin County (ASPEN); 47A: TriBeCa neighbor (SOHO); 48A: Blueprint subject, perhaps (ELL); 49A: ers (FOOTBALL PLAYERS); 57A: Frankfurt's river (ODER); 58A: Phils, e.g. (NL'ERS); 59A: Deception (FLAM); 60A: '70s pinup name (LONI); 61A: Beneficiary (DONEE); 62A: Its state bird is the cardinal (OHIO); 63A: 2-Down unit (DROP); 64A: Fixes (SPAYS); 65A: Place to cross, on signs (X-ING); 1D: Seles rival (GRAF); 2D: Eye care brand (RENU); 3D: Flock response (AMEN); 4D: "The Jungle Book" boy (MOWGLI); 5D: Dug, so to speak (LIKED); 6D: Heart lead singer Wilson et al. (ANNS); 7D: Where kip are spent (LAOS); 8D: Silliness (ANTICS); 9D: Party pooper (WET NOODLE); 10D: Underworld (GANGLAND); 11D: Where the iris is (UVEA); 12D: Neeson who voiced Aslan in the "Narnia" movies (LIAM); 13D: You may have a brush with it (FATE); 21D: It merged with Continental in 2010: Abbr. (UAL); 22D: Swindler, in slang (GANEF); 25D: Trinity test subject (A-BOMB); 26D: Locale (VENUE); 27D: Maker of pieces? (REESE); 28D: Genetic letters (RNA); 29D: One of the convicted Rosenberg spies (ETHEL); 30D: Image Awards org. (NAACP); 31D: 1930s public enemy (CLYDE); 32D: NFL Network sportscaster Rich (EISEN); 34D: Devil's tools, metaphorically (IDLE HANDS); 37D: Touchdown site (AIRSTRIP); 38D: Big shot (NABOB); 39D: More than zero (ANY); 44D: Walk bouncily (LOLLOP); 45D: Modeled after (À LA); 46D: Sneaky devil (SLY FOX); 48D: "It's nobody __ business" (ELSE'S); 49D: Go out (FOLD); 50D: Nose wrinkler (ODOR); 51D: Sommelier's prefix (OENO-); 52D: Singer Horne (LENA); 53D: Hunted (PREY); 54D: Pre-coll. catchall (EL-HI); 55D: Shower in public? (RAIN); 56D: Urban miasma (SMOG).


Orange said...

Shoot, I forgot to blog about the extreme weirdness of LOLLOP. I know DOLLOP and WALLOP and GALLOP and LOLL, but I've never once encountered LOLLOP.

Sfingi said...

I'm one of those who really hated it. Mostly Googled, all pop and sports. The main thing I hated was that there was nothing intellectual. Good thing I don't have to go out and buy this paper.

Pete said...

I recently tried to teach "20 questions" to a 6yo. Six year olds have an attention span of 3-4 questions. In these instances, "20 questions" is most defninitely not a FUN game.

Sfingi said...

And the word is gonif, not GANEF.

Bill said...

Any puzzle that has Ann Wilson in it can't be bad. Still the sexiest voice in rock!

Anonymous said...

Fun theme but the answers were too easy for a Friday, IMO. Never heard of Flam so just had to trust Slyfox was right. And never have seen El-Hi used anywhere on Earth (Sounds like some vilain in a bad comedy - Look out, El Hi is here..)

That tidbit about kids not being able to play 20 questions scares me.


Alexscott said...

I really loved the clue for 24A "Annual sign of bad behavior?"--although I must say, I've known some bad children in my time, and they've never gotten the COAL they deserved.

I didn't hate the numbers as part of the clues. But they did spur some fake indignation at the breakfast table this morning. The numbers are never part of the clues. That's an unwritten rule of CW puzzles. And without rules, where are we as a society? I'll tell you where, in chaos. People running wild in the streets, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together!

You get the point. Oh, and 13D: I've heard of a brush with FAmE, but not a brush with FATE. It kind of goes along with 9D WET NOODLE (s/b WET blanket), I guess.

Overall, pretty easy for a Friday. Thank goodness for all the sports and pop culture references. I hate all that intellectual dreck.

Steve said...

Great theme, I'm OK with cats lying down with dogs and zombies roaming the streets if it gives me a crossword that something different from the norm.

A slew of things I'd never heard of but that's what crosses are for - final fill was the LALAW/WETNOODLE "W", and thanks to @PG for the explanation - never heard of Susan Dey, nor a WET NOODLE to be frank.

I knew ASPEN from reading the good Doctor Hunter S. Thompson's writing, so Maholo, HST.

Minor quibble was "Crossing" in the clue and "XING" as the answer, you could argue that they're the same word.

Not sure @Sfingi is really being fair about "all pop and sports"

Anonymous said...

LA LAW was a great weekly show back when Thursday nights were the night to watch television. Most of today's solvers must be too young to remember that along with coal in your stocking!! Found most of the puzzle a bit difficult but not unusual for a Friday.

Ron Worden said...

Who weighs dollar bills and why? Some really vague cluing like 31d not asking for first name of public enemy,and he had a partner who was equally as bad. Never heard of anyone asking for a neat soda. Do storms only travel ENE Other lame answers nlers and xing.

*David* said...

Should've picked up on the theme as I've seen that type before but didn't, which made the xword puzzle take longer then it could've. I had to work it from the bottom up but there were still many places to get a toehold and continue progrssion. I enjoyed seeing Rich EISEN who I hear constantly on talk radio nowadays, a real character. Time to LOLLOP off...

Alexscott said...

Ron: I've never heard of soda on the rocks, either. How about a whiskey, neat? Terminology for liquor follows different rules than those for soft drinks (like soda, or pop, as we say in the Midwest).

JaxInL.A. said...

Thanks loads, PG, for explaining the theme. I have no idea how I finished, but I still didn't get it. Whew. Ditto @Orange on LOLLOP. Well, it helped out a constructor in need... Wish it had helped me.

And isn't it flim flam, not just FLAM?

Tuttle said...

GANEF? Not only from a vernacular dialect, but derived from an alphabet that has no vowels. There are three accepted spellings of the freaking word!

H.B. REESE was long dead and his company absorbed by Hershey's before the first Reese's Pieces rolled off the line.

Some really obtuse stuff here, but also some sparklers. OK friday.

C said...

Today's puzzle was a nice LOLLOP in the park for me today. For some reason, the answers came easy and fast and the ones I didn't know were taken care of for me by the magic of crossing words.

hazel said...

thought this was a really cool puzzle, which i got but didn't get until i read pg's explanation. loved its trickster nature - like a NYT Thursday. maybe a rebus is in the cards!!

liked the corner echoes: UVEA/AVIA, RENU/REMO, ELHI/OHIO (stretching), and ODER/ODOR.

@sfingi - looks like there are lots of correct ways to spell GANEF....

ganef, ganev, ganof [ˈgɑːnəf], gonif, gonof
n US slang
an unscrupulous opportunist who stoops to sharp practice
[from Yiddish, from Hebrew gannābh thief, from gānnabh he stole]

Anonymous said...

Excellent theme. I finished it and didn't even catch it until PG showed me the way. That's a new one to me. Well done, Mr. Finan.

Rube said...

Really enjoyed this one. I remember a similar theme a year or two ago where the number in the square was part of the answer. The only answer I remember was 3Down where the 3 square began the phrase "sheets to the wind", (a 15). I knew something was amiss with "questions" not capitalized and got the theme with 49ers, my team.

Never heard of GANEF so thanks all for the explanation and thanks @PG for the COAL explanation. Came here to find out what COAL had to do with behavior... should have figured it out myself.

Wanted McKinley, but wouldn't fit. The North central gave me fits, but lucky guesses, starting with LAOS, saw me through, so DNG.

Knew GRAM immediately. A while ago I learned that the expression "a ton of money", if you do the math, works out to be a million dollars. That's if you assume that a dollar bill weighs 1 gram and you're talking a metric ton or 1000 kilograms.

xxpossum@html.c said...

@ Alexscott & R. Worden: What part of the clue " No ice, please" inferred SODA to you? You guys over thought that one. "Neat" refers to an alcholic drink sans ice. I'm w/ Sfingi on Gonif. Lollop and flam ARE NOT WORDS!! But other than those picked nits, good, if not too easy 4 a Friday,fun puzzle. Great job Mr. Norris and Ms. Lewis.

xxpossum@html.cm said...

I guess that would be Finan, not Norris and Lewis. My bad.

shrub5 said...

LOL at six-pack abs: BEER BELLY. That's a good one.

Had 'actor' before LA LAW for Dey job.

Ne-e-e-ver heard WET NOODLE for party pooper. Wet blanket, yes. That's a stretch. You might know what the Urban Dictionary says.

Guessed DONEE but don't think I've seen it used. Sounds made up (but I know it's not.)

Very enjoyable puzzle. Liked IDLE HANDS for devil's tools. Thought 'pitchfork' at first but it was not plural.

Edna Krabappel said...

@xxpossum - Clues don't infer. If anything, they imply. People infer from them.

Steve said...

I had to go back and check the dictionary definition of "Neat" before I added this, but I do think this definition (No Ice) should be marked as "archaic".

Nowadays, "neat" means no mixer, "Straight up" or "up" means no ice, "on the rocks" or "rocks" as we all agree means ice.

Try going into a bar and ordering a "scotch and soda neat" and see the look the bartender will throw at you before asking what you're talking about.

CoffeeLvr said...

I found this theme a fun change up, and I caught on early with FUNGUESSINGGAME in place from the crosses. Then the next two 15's were easy.

Last letter in was the P in SPAY crossing LOLLOP, I had entered SwAY, thinking of fixing a game. And yes, if I had been solving on paper I would have stopped there and been wrong! LOLLOP is in the dictionary, apparently more British than American usage.

FLAM can only stand alone as really obscure term for a type of drum beat. Nevertheless, I found it easy enough to guess.

Love the BEERBELLY clue and answer. Does a BEERBELLY make you LOLLOP? Also like MOWGLI, IDLEHANDS, RESONANCE.

I could not remember DENALI without some crosses - I knew that McKinley had been re-named, or rather was now referred to by its Native name, but I just stared at six empty squares.

I had the most trouble coming up with ABOMB, as I was stuck thinking of Trinity College. Even changed BEE to Sun before I changed it back. Needed most of the crosses for MUSIAL, thank goodness I knew AVRIL.

Again, this was a great theme change up, kind of like a Thursday NYT. I agree it was easy for Friday, but it is not hard to find difficult puzzles online if I want to strain my brain. Thanks to the constructor, Mr. Finan, and to Mr. Norris for LOLLOPing with it.

Conrad said...

I quite liked the puzzle today. The lack of capital letters on the theme clues is what tipped me off to that little... FLAM. Is that an appropriate use of the word? Doesn't feel like it...

@Hazel- good eye on the ODER/ODOR, etc sub-theme.

@Ron Worden- anyone who's ever had to improvise a scale (for reasons left unspecified) knows that an American dollar bill, or the old Canadian 5s or 10s weigh roughly a gram.

I'm sure I've heard LOLLOP before. I always imagined it to be similar to "gambol", or "frollick" maybe. You know, like how puppies run around when they're playing.

I quite liked RESONANCE and GANGLAND; good fills.

Misty said...

Had a hard time with this and only finished with lots of cheating. Did get "abomb" because I did some research on the Manhattan Project once and remembered that the atomic bomb test at Los Alomos was called "Trinity." Did anyone else try to fit the word "twenty" into 20A before getting "funguessinggame." Would never have figured out the theme without PG's write-up, but agree that it's clever.

Rojo said...

Man, I actually finished today, without googling, but I'm rather surprised that I was able to. I didn't understand the theme until coming here and was all like "ers" = "football players"? WTF?

Also had most of PGs WTFs as well, GANEF and LOLLOP are both new words to me.

Steve said...

Maybe lollop is a British-English word as I didn't think twice about it - I'm not sure what the dictionary definition is, but I visualize a "big dog" puppy with huge paws doing that half-run half-walk thing, all uncoordinated and floppy with it's tongue hanging out and a doggy grin on it's face

Keith Fowler said...

Much fun, but very tricky! Technically this was a DNF for me, but it felt finished, and that's really what counts! Eh, compadres?
I couldn't for the life of me come up with Blanche KNOTT. I don't know that book she supposedly compiled, but I could not given up SNOTT as my answer. I know, I know that left me with LISED instead of LIKED, but who knows all the nuances of hipster slang anyway?
Unless my memory has aged tooo much, NEAT is still commonly used on the east coast.
And I knew the spelling of GANEF would set some teeth on edge, but Yiddish is often re-spelled in English, so it served nicely as one of those flexible fills.
BTW, PG, HUNTED is a noun as well as a verb, so the answer (PREY) qualifies completely.
LOLLOP is not familiar to me, but I was pleased with it, as it certainly seems to fit the clue. I had a vision of some air-headed oh-so-cheerful Heidi Do-Good flouncing along a country path...

Lemonade714 said...


Modern dictionaries are allowing IMPLY/INFER and WELL/GOOD to be interchangeable. Nero Wolfe is rolling over in his fictional grave

Conrad said...

@Lemonade- I agree. Swapping "imply" and "infer" is like swapping "lend" and "borrow". As an ESL teacher, I hear that all the time. Drives me up the wall.