09.29 Thu

September 29, 2011
Don Gagliardo & C. C. Burnikel

Theme: Made in China — Theme answers (and there are a lot of them!!) are all items that were invented in China.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: *Rock conqueror? (PAPER).
  • 10A: *Soy milk brand (SILK).
  • 17A: *Dental checkup freebie (TOOTHBRUSH).
  • 28A: *Wile E. Coyote buy (GUN POWDER).
  • 35A: *Gets creative (NOODLES).
  • 39A: *Extent (COMPASS).
  • 45A: *Flashy display (FIREWORKS).
  • 59A: *Beginner's piano piece (CHOPSTICKS).
  • 64A: *Forged check (KITE).
  • 66A: It celebrates National Day on October 1 (and it's where the answers to starred clues were invented) (CHINA).
This is one of those puzzles that's not going to be a hit with speed solvers. It has asterisks in some of the clues which makes you think maybe there's something tricky going on, but the chances are slim to none that the unifying concept will become clear before you reach the reveal answer. Now, I am generally a speed solver (at least I attempt to be; I may not be the speediest of speed solvers!), so I was sort of grudgingly making my way through this grid without really getting a foothold anywhere and actually starting to feel mildly annoyed. The only theme answers I had come up with after my first run through were SILK and KITE and I definitely couldn't see what those two had to do with each other. But then I got to CHINA. The clouds parted and the choir sang and I was back at it with a new determination. There's a rumor that I even had a small smile on my face, but I don't know if that's true.

I had two major trouble spots. The first was down in the Oklahoma/Texas area. I tried STEP OUT and SLIP OUT before the correct SKIP OUT (43D: Abandon, with "on"). And I had SNIPPY before SNAPPY (47D: Irritable). So there was a lot of erasing going on down there. Then there was the northwest. Even with TOOTHBRUSH and SNL in place, I struggled. I had DST for EDT (4D: Atlanta summer hrs.), which is really a rookie mistake and it messed me up good. Also, I've never heard of ARON Ralston (though I'm thankful for another way to clue ARON) (2D: Mountain climber Ralston, subject of "127 Hours"). And I couldn't get Barney the Freaking Dinosaur out of my head long enough to figure what the heck he had in common with Bo. (I knew Bo was the Obamas PET. I'm still not sure who Barney's owners were. … Oh, he was the Bushes' dog. That wasn't that long ago. You'd think I might have remembered it. But no.)

Other than that, I just had spelling errors at CODY and ASTIN (COTY and ASTON) (65A: Maker of Kate Moss fragrances / 63A: John who played Gomez Addams) and bad guesses at PESO (I tried EURO) (33A: Its symbol is "$") and USNA (I thought he might have been a marine; really who can remember back that far?) (57D: Oliver North's alma mater: Abbr.).

The only other things I want to mention are that I love how all the theme answers are not clued as the literal China-invented items that they represent in the theme. (Except for TOOTHBRUSH, so that's a little bit of a bummer. And, I guess GUN POWDER too. Darn.) I particularly like the clues for FIREWORKS and CHOPSTICKS. And some of the fill in this one is really sparkly, which you might not expect in a grid this theme-heavy. I especially liked the aforementioned SKIP OUT along with YOU'RE UP and FLOOR LIMIT. And did you notice a lot of Ks in the grid? That's always good.

One final thought, because I'm sure this will be confusing to somebody. The clue for ABLE (32A: Napoleon, before seeing Elba?) refers to the well-known palindrome ABLE WAS I ERE I SAW ELBA. Clever clue.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 16A: Singer with the platinum 1992 album "The Celts" (ENYA).
  • 19A: Hungarian spa city (EGER).
  • 44A: Pennsylvania port (ERIE).
  • 29D: Japanese chip maker (NEC).
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Everything 1A: *Rock conqueror? (PAPER); 6A: Ilk (TYPE); 10A: *Soy milk brand (SILK); 14A: Diminish, as trust (ERODE); 15A: Court target (HOOP); 16A: Singer with the platinum 1992 album "The Celts" (ENYA); 17A: *Dental checkup freebie (TOOTHBRUSH); 19A: Hungarian spa city (EGER); 20A: "30 Rock" is loosely based on it, briefly (SNL); 21A: Georgia campus (EMORY); 22A: Transparent personality? (GHOST); 23A: Webber's partner (PAINE); 24A: Stink ending (-AROO); 25A: Are proper for (BEFIT); 28A: *Wile E. Coyote buy (GUN POWDER); 32A: Napoleon, before seeing Elba? (ABLE); 33A: Its symbol is "$" (PESO); 34A: West Bank initials (PLO); 35A: *Gets creative (NOODLES); 39A: *Extent (COMPASS); 41A: "Alice" spinoff (FLO); 42A: Gives goose bumps, maybe (AWES); 44A: Pennsylvania port (ERIE); 45A: *Flashy display (FIREWORKS); 48A: Umbrella brand (TOTES); 49A: Idiot (LUNK); 50A: Finalize, as a comic strip (INK IN); 52A: Pub drinks (SWIGS); 54A: Sudden outpouring (SPATE); 55A: Sch. with a Phoenix campus (ASU); 58A: Comic book buyer of old? (DIME); 59A: *Beginner's piano piece (CHOPSTICKS); 61A: Analogous (AKIN); 62A: Forceful takeover (COUP); 63A: John who played Gomez Addams (ASTIN); 64A: *Forged check (KITE); 65A: Maker of Kate Moss fragrances (COTY); 66A: It celebrates National Day on October 1 (and it's where the answers to starred clues were invented) (CHINA); 1D: Bo and Barney, e.g. (PETS); 2D: Mountain climber Ralston, subject of "127 Hours" (ARON); 3D: Hustler's game (POOL); 4D: Atlanta summer hrs. (EDT); 5D: Warm up (REHEAT); 6D: Crowd (THRONG); 7D: Words to one on deck (YOU'RE UP); 8D: Nosegay (POSY); 9D: Bk. before Philippians (EPH.); 10D: Envision a way (SEE HOW); 11D: To a great extent (IN GOOD PART); 12D: Caustic fluids (LYES); 13D: Go-__ (KART); 18D: ASCAP rival (BMI); 22D: Union member? (GROOM); 23D: Like pintos (PIED); 24D: Lhasa __ (APSO); 25D: Alberta national park (BANFF); 26D: "Christ Stopped at __" (EBOLI); 27D: Amount requiring a credit card authorization (FLOOR LIMIT); 29D: Japanese chip maker (NEC); 30D: Borden mascot (ELSIE); 31D: Derby prize (ROSES); 36D: Some green acres (LAWNS); 37D: "Star Wars" tree-dweller (EWOK); 38D: Sun. talk (SER.); 40D: Drudge (PEON); 43D: Abandon, with "on" (SKIP OUT); 46D: Oregon Ducks' home (EUGENE); 47D: Irritable (SNAPPY); 48D: Pin in a shirt (TIE TAC); 51D: Gold units: Abbr. (KTS.); 52D: Mt. Rushmore's state (S. DAK.); 53D: Joint Web project (WIKI); 54D: "Buzz off!" ("SHOO!"); 55D: When Emile sings "Some Enchanted Evening" (ACT I); 56D: Word with care or cream (SKIN); 57D: Oliver North's alma mater: Abbr. (USNA); 59D: V x LX (CCC); 60D: -like relative (-ISH).


Gareth Bain said...

One bruised, but, extremely happy not so speedy speed solver here! slowest thursday of the year by more than 3 Minutes! But what a fun theme! Especially as cc burnikel is a first generation chinese american! Whole puzzle was hard, but like pg the top left hit me the hardest. I didn't even have toothbrush to build on, putting falseteeth in its place and clinging to it resolutely. Turns out they're a Japanese invention...

Sfingi said...

My paper had the bottom chopped off. I called them, and they don't know if they'll print the whole thing tomorrow or just the missing parts.

Someone tell me what the clues are for
30D 31D 47D 48D 51D 59D 60D
I have the answers from PGs blog, of course.

I've got a couple guesses from crosses, but I hate to wait for tomorrow.

PuzzleGirl said...

Clues and answers are all listed at the bottom of the post.

Anonymous said...

I'm too slow to be considered a speed solver, but I really enjoyed the change of pace.

Sfingi said...

@PG - You're right!

I had already Googled for ACTI, CHINA, COTY, EPH, EMI, ARON and had one writeover, rOUt for COUP. Never heard of FLOOR limit, didn't know the PESO used the $, and tried to Google for the Hungarian SPA, but eventually got it by crosses.

So the puzzle was hard, anyway. Since it was hard for Gareth Bain, I guess it was hard.

CoffeeLvr said...

I was very pleased with this puzzle. I wondered all the asterisked diversity would pull together! Not many key overs (TOOTHpaste, eROO) but a few places where memory didn't cooperate. 23A: "How am I supposed to know who that actor from Wings partner is? Wait, that isn't how he spells his name. Who the H is Webber?"

Loved the clues for NOODLES, ABLE & INKIN (which salvaged an ugly phrase!)

Anonymous said...

PaineWebber of the Wall Street fame...

Margaret said...

PAPER and SILK were the first two things I filled in, and I was pretty sure the theme was going to be anniversary gifts -- paper is the one year anniversary, right? As soon as I got down to TOOTHBRUSH (where I foolishly put TOOTHpaste at first) I knew the theme. Somehow the trivia of all the things we got from ancient China was already in my head.

ABLE was my favorite answer!

ddbmc said...

Felt like I wrestled @PG's Hawkeyes this morning. Great theme! Mid-west fouled me up, with LUNK and FLOORLIMIT (obviously, that stayed in Vegas and didn't migrate to my head). And did not remember the palindrome until PG's reminder. ABLE totally came through crosses. My one peeve, Roman numerals...Not a speed solver, by any stretch!

Tuttle said...

I skipped down to the reveal clue and everything fell into place in a hurry.

Only thing that slowed me down was putting 'punk' in instead of LUNK and refusing to believe they would go with SWIGS for pub drinks. Only weak clue in the grid though.

hazel said...

fan-freaking-tastic puzzle (another k!)

the less transparent the theme, the greater the puzzle, for me and this one was super murky (k!)

@pg - this ARON is the one who sawed his arm off with a pocket knife to escape from the rock. though his actions were superhumanly heroic, I'm thinking actual future cluing opportunities are going to be a bit grisly, and something i don't really want to think about during my puzzle time. Unless, of course, he goes on to do some more notable stuff which he certainly seems capable of.

@tuttle - agree on swigs. a bit clunky (k!)

Misty said...

Wow! That's a lot of stuff invented in China! I knew about 'silk,' 'gunpowder,' and 'fireworks'--but 'toothbrush'? Thank you, China!

Very slow getting that northwest corner filled in, and finally had to cheat with the southwest. Haven't been to Ireland or U.K. for a while, so didn't get "swigs" for pub drinks. (Do they really call them that?) But Napoleon helped. And I loved "ghost" for "transparent personality"!

C said...

I really liked today's puzzle. Took me a couple of minutes longer than usual and made me think instead of remember. Very enjoyable.

CP said...

Great Thursday puzzle! Finished up NE corner last. Filler and theme strong.
Interesting to read US is now exporting CHOPSTICKS to China (from Georgia).
SILK should have been keyed into the crossword constructor Barry.
Almost put UOP (University of Phoenix) for school with a campus, but then remembered this school has no true campus to speak of.

Steve said...

Great puzzle.

Agree @everyone about SWIGS being an odd clue. @Misty - no, you're right, they don't call them that! I'm guessing that the clue is trying to allude to the verb rather than the noun - you could take swigs of your beer in a pub. Hmm.

Agree with @Margaret about ABLE - my clue of the week/month

My personal almost-Natick was EBOLI/FLO but something about the "L" felt right.

Van55 said...

This was a far better puzzle for me than today's NYT. That's a rarity.

mac said...

Wonderful puzzle, with all the different layers!

Sfingi said...

Another good one would be the so called Columbian exchange. From the "New World" - tobacco, tomatoes, potatoes, maize (corn), maple syrup, sweet potatoes, prickly pear, true cactus, chili pepper, vanilla, rubber, cacao, turkeys, skunks, raccoons, possums - and the other way - small pox, guns, distilled liquor, apple, garlic, onion, coffee, horse, cat, sheep.

Oliver North is retired from the Marines, for sure. He had gone to SUNY Brockport!, then transferred to the US Naval Academy.

Steve said...

@Sfingi - I learned the $/PESO symbol the first time I went to Mexico City on business, went to what I thought was a nice mid-price restaurant (so as not to upset my boss who was signing off on my expenses) and when I got the check and it was for $1,200 I almost fell off my chair. It was actually about $40 US back in the days of a strong currency and economy.

The FLOOR LIMIT you don't see nowadays - this was before credit card machines were wired online approve the transaction on every purchase. A store had a floor limit - a maximum purchase amount - above which the store had to call the credit card company by phone to authorize the sale; below the floor limit they just took the imprint of your card and you signed the top copy. Fraudsters were pretty good at knowing what the floor limit was in any particular store.

Anonymous said...

wow, Gareth, free falseteeth?

GoG8rs said...

I had fun with this puzzle altho it took me all day, picking it up at odd moments between customers.

Unlike y'all, I had no trouble with SWIGS. Here in the South we have a grocery chain named Piggly Wiggly--really. Their store brand beer is called "Pig Swig"--really.

Alexscott said...

I thought the SWIGS/drinks thing was just using a different meaning of the word drink. As in, Take a drink of that and pass it along.

GoG8ers: my Gramps owned a Piggly Wiggly in Jacksonville (Illinois, not Fla.) back in the 1940s-50s, but I'd never heard of Pig Swig. Sounds yummy. I don't think they have any more PWs north of the Waffle House line. But that is a great name for a grocery. Probably not too many vegans go there, I'm guessing.

Anonymous said...

Knew the palindrome and got ABLE but wasn't sure what it had to do with Napoleon?

Margaret said...

@Anon 9:45, Elba is the island Napoleon was exiled to, and supposedly this palindrome commemorated it. He was ABLE (ruled as Emperor) before his exile to Elba.