09.30 Fri

September 30, 2011
David Poole

Theme: Left to Right — Familiar phrases change an L to an R.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Halloween tricksters' route? (FRIGHT PATH).
  • 23A: Best place to watch "Animal House"? (FRAT SCREEN TV).
  • 45A: Feathers? (FROCK OF BIRDS).
  • 56A: Work the late shift at the diner? (FRY BY NIGHT).
  • 35A: How most reading is done, and this puzzle's title (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT).
Excuse me, but how the hell did it get to be September 30 already? Man! Time really does fly. Even when you're not having fun.

Closing out the month with a tough one. I had trouble here and there throughout the grid, but it ultimately felt more like a romp than a struggle. The theme is pretty cool. I wondered if the initial F on each theme answer was significant somehow, but didn't come up with a good answer. FRY BY NIGHT is clearly the marquee entry. Can't you just picture it?

I had the most trouble in Northern California where I plopped in AC/DC where AM/FM was supposed to go (25D: Like some switches). Many other factors contributed to the confusion there. First, I've never heard of this Kate person (29A: Kate of "Ironclad" (MARA)). Never heard of the movie either. Second, the clue for ACTRESS (25A: Close, for instance) was so deliciously deceptive that I had No Idea what was going on there. Even with the A in place, I was at a loss. I also thought MADEIRAS (39A: Sherry alternatives) might be CASSIRES (sp?) … something like that? … anyone? It was a big mess is what I'm saying.

Only one other place that really made me tear my hair out and that was at the cross of MACERATE and MTS. (30A: Soften by soaking /
30D: Summer escapes: Abbr.). I must have run the alphabet three times. I guess using an L in that square would have been too obvious.

  • 14A: "The Wolf and the Crane" author (AESOP). With the SO in place, I thought the name would be something-SON, but then it just clicked somehow that the title sounded like a fable.
  • 20A: Roy Halladay stat (ERA). Halladay is a pitcher for … the Phillies? … Yes, the Phillies.
  • 40A: Albany's father-in-law (LEAR). This is another one that just clicked in from nowhere. As you continue to solve puzzles, that will start happening more and more.
  • 58A: "__ no kick from Champagne": song lyric (I GET). Sure, we could listen to Frank Sinatra right here, but this lyric reminded me of a Keb' Mo' song, so let's listen to that instead. It'll be funkier, I promise.

  • 4D: Dress finely, with "out" (TOG). This word comes up occasionally in puzzles and I'm just about to the point where I can just accept it without wincing first.
  • 26D: Word spoken with amore (CARA).
  • 27D: Put one's foot down (TROD). In this clue, the word "put" is in the past tense. You always have to be looking out for that.
  • 49D: Two-time loser to McKinley (BRYAN). Could have been just about anybody here as far as I knew.
Crosswordese 101: There are a couple of ERNOs worth knowing for crossword purposes. There's a pianist/composer named Dohnanyi, a cosmetics maker named Laszlo and an architect named Goldfinger. By far the most popular ERNO in CrossWorld, though, is [37D: Cube creator Rubik]. And the clue for this particular ERNO is likely to include the words "Rubik" and "cube," so he should be pretty easy to spot.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 6A: 1940s-'50s Israeli UN ambassador (EBAN).
  • 21A: Sister of Calliope (ERATO).
  • 51A: Noted Beethoven interpreter (ARRAU).
  • 32D: "The African Queen" co-screenwriter (AGEE).
  • 34D: Raison d'__ (ÊTRE).
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Everything 1A: Shoots the breeze (CHATS); 6A: 1940s-'50s Israeli UN ambassador (EBAN); 10A: Game __ (PLAN); 14A: "The Wolf and the Crane" author (AESOP); 15A: Cross off (X OUT); 16A: Piece of one's mind? (LOBE); 17A: Halloween tricksters' route? (FRIGHT PATH); 19A: Awestruck (AGOG); 20A: Roy Halladay stat (ERA); 21A: Sister of Calliope (ERATO); 22A: It may be icy (STARE); 23A: Best place to watch "Animal House"? (FRAT SCREEN TV); 25A: Close, for instance (ACTRESS); 28A: Unburden (RID); 29A: Kate of "Ironclad" (MARA); 30A: Soften by soaking (MACERATE); 35A: How most reading is done, and this puzzle's title (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT); 39A: Sherry alternatives (MADEIRAS); 40A: Albany's father-in-law (LEAR); 41A: "Piers Morgan Tonight" channel (CNN); 42A: Eisenhower library site (ABILENE); 45A: Feathers? (FROCK OF BIRDS); 50A: Nigerian seaport (LAGOS); 51A: Noted Beethoven interpreter (ARRAU); 52A: CIA's ancestor (OSS); 55A: Cancel (UNDO); 56A: Work the late shift at the diner? (FRY BY NIGHT); 58A: "__ no kick from Champagne": song lyric (I GET); 59A: Steady (BEAU); 60A: Response to a skeptic (NO LIE); 61A: Gets into (DONS); 62A: Employee IDs (SSN'S); 63A: Third shift hr. (ONE A.M.); 1D: Champs …lysées feature (CAFE); 2D: Bach title? (HERR); 3D: Land east of the Urals (ASIA); 4D: Dress finely, with "out" (TOG); 5D: Field of influence (SPHERE); 6D: Americans in Paris, maybe (EXPATS); 7D: Tug and junk (BOATS); 8D: Overlord (AUTOCRAT); 9D: Ultimate (NTH); 10D: Home at the park? (PLATE); 11D: Airport whose code is BOS (LOGAN); 12D: Decide not to finish (ABORT); 13D: Desert bordering the Sinai Peninsula (NEGEV); 18D: Choral syllables (TRAS); 22D: Feast in the month of Nisan (SEDER); 23D: Position in a viewfinder (FRAME); 24D: Moneyed, in Monterrey (RICO); 25D: Like some switches (AM/FM); 26D: Word spoken with amore (CARA); 27D: Put one's foot down (TROD); 30D: Summer escapes: Abbr. (MTS.); 31D: Little streams (RILLS); 32D: "The African Queen" co-screenwriter (AGEE); 33D: Instead of (THAN); 34D: Raison d'__ (ÊTRE); 36D: Trounces (LICKS); 37D: Cube creator Rubik (ERNO); 38D: Royal introductions (FANFARES); 42D: France-based jet maker (AIRBUS); 43D: Sound from Eeyore (BRAY); 44D: "Beats me!" ("I DUNNO!"); 45D: Not fixed (FLUID); 46D: Title chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp in a 2011 animated film (RANGO); 47D: Osmonds' hometown (OGDEN); 48D: Codgers (COOTS); 49D: Two-time loser to McKinley (BRYAN); 52D: Look like a creep? (OGLE); 53D: Branch of Islam (SHIA); 54D: Check (STEM); 56D: NFL ball carriers (FB'S); 57D: Fluoride, for one (ION).


Tuttle said...


But that's about the only gripe I can find. SSNS maybe, but that's so typical it's a gimee. 26D was a bit odd in translation ('beloved' spoken with 'love'?) and the entire puzzle was somewhat heavy on the trivia. But nothing unexpected from a good Friday solve.

Anonymous said...

Macerate / Mts was my last entry. Does Mts mean mountains? I have no idea.

I thought all the theme answers were great. That is rare.

And l too "loved" the clue for actress. It was one of those that produced a big "I got it!" moment.

Overall, this started my Friday off nicely!


Margaret said...

I also tried ACDC before AMFM, and to make it worse I tried CIAO rather than CARA (like, "ciao bella," right? Or not. I don't speak Italian...) I also tried FLOCKOFgulls before FLOCKOFBIRDS, thinking of Flock of Seagulls, I guess. Hey, PG, where's the Flock of Seagulls video clip? I'm a little disappointed now! (JK)

My least favorite answer was BRAY for "sound from Eeyore." I really wanted sigh.

CoffeeLvr said...

I was hot when I solved this puzzle, just in the solving zone.
So, naturally, I liked it a lot. FLUID, SPHERE, EXPATS, and a gimme with ABILENE. A conversation, albeit brief: "I DUNNO." "NO LIE." Eeyore is my favorite Pooh Corners denizen.

The only key over I can recall was Focus before FRAME.

There are two proper names here that are also in today's NYT. In one case, the clues are so specific that I was certain I was correct here. In the other case, I doubted myself, thinking that the reason it felt correct was only subconscious bleed over. I am not trying to be mysterious, just avoiding spoilers.

MACERATE is my Word of the Day, I kept thinking "Doesn't that mean chew?" but I was confused with MAsticATE, which is structurally similar, but has nine letters instead of eight.

FANFARES to our puzzle blogging queen, @PG!

Steve said...

Wow, this one didn't give up without a fight.

Agree @Margaret about BRAY/sigh - in fact I filled in SIGH first. Eeyore never, ever brayed.

I got too big for my own boots and filled in TEXANS immediately I saw "Americans in Paris?" and patted myself on the back for being so clever until I had to undo it all when it started to become patently obvious it was wrong.

Fluoride is an ION? Never knew that.

Got the trivia stuff with the crosses which is what a good puzzle is all about. I've been avoiding Naticks by the skin of my teeth all week, today's was ARRAU and BRYAN and something in the deep dark recesses of my mind nudged the R in there.

Echoing the others, loved MACERATE.

Keith Fowler said...

This is the kind I love. At first I was overwhelmed, really feared a DNF. The only place I could jump in was the crossing of EBAN and NTH. But I stuck it out and gradually found more toe-holds. The theme answers were fine, and when I cracked that part of the puzzle, bigger segments began falling into place. I ended in a rush and that really feels good following a tough start.

I agree that ACTRESS for Close was terrific! I had IMPRESS and ADDRESS before I tumbled to it.

C said...

Good puzzle, IMO. Challenging and fun. FRY BY NIGHT is a keeper.

For me, the video clip to "I GET no kick ..." would be the scene from Blazing Saddles. Classic. I didn't know your grandmother was Dutch ...

Sfingi said...

DNF, Googled 14 x (including BRYAN and ARRAU), didn't get the theme, didn't get any theme answer.
Didn't get Close. Wasn't close.


Didn't like THAN for instead of, since I couldn't see an actual sentence where the one would actually replace the other. I like it better instead of? No. I like it rather instead of? No.

Anonymous said...

Can never see the clue MADIERA
w/o thinkin of the great "Limelighters" version of
the song "Have some Madiera M'Dear" Google it for a good laugh. 60's Folk

Misty said...

Breezed through the top half of this puzzle and then got stuck. Got "expats" for Americans in Paris because of my interest in Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, etc. Got "Actress" for "Close" without any problem.

But after drinking sherry for years, kept thinking "sauterne" and never did get "madeiras." (Missed yesterday's "swig" too, so it looks as though my verbal drinking days are over). And got stuck thinking it had to be "flock of geese"--or "flock of parishioners," which, of course, wouldn't have fit.

So DNF, but still had a great time!

Steve said...

@Margaret - I just wanted you to know that I've had "... and I ran, I ran so far away..." stuck in my head ever since I read your "Flock of Seagulls" comment.

Thanks, I think :)

backbiter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
backbiter said...

FRy by night

This is how I explain all theme answers beginning with F.



Alexscott said...

I agree with C about Blazing Saddles. I immediately pictured Cleavon Little singing that on the railroad. Considering the frequency of the N word, I'm not surprised PG didn't embed that YouTube clip.

This one was even tougher than yesterday's. I finished but had to guess on 29A MoRA instead of MARA (CoRA means heart, so I thought it was a fair guess). Didn't care for FROCK OF BIRDS. I mean, I get it, but when the answer elicits a groan instead of an "aha," that's not a good sign.

Speaking of yesterday's puzzle, did anyone else pick up on the inappropriate proximity of one puzzle's theme being things from China and the next day's theme replacing Ls with Rs? Okay, maybe that was just me. (I suddenly feel like the Chevy Chase character from Community for having noticed that.)

Margaret said...

Ha, sorry about that, @Steve! [not really sorry at all] I've been away from the computer since yesterday morning, just saw your comment. Talk about an earworm, huh?