TUESDAY, April 21, 2009 — Gail Grabowski

Theme: "Crouching Crossword, Hidden Theme" — Three theme answers are phrases that end with a word describing an action similar to crouching.

Hey, everybody. PuzzleGirl here, happy to be back with you for your Tuesday Puzzly Goodness. I believe this is the first Gail Grabowski puzzle we've blogged and it's a competent effort with a theme that doesn't exactly sparkle, but it's solid nonetheless. Perfect for a Tuesday.

Crosswordese 101: There are two four-letter Mideastern locations that turn up a lot in crosswords. Today's puzzle includes ADEN (10D: Mideast port on its own gulf). Now this is interesting. I have always confused ADEN and OMAN, knowing nothing more about them than that they are roughly in the same part of the world. As it turns out, however, OMAN is a country and ADEN is a city. Some of you are probably saying to yourselves, "There goes PuzzleGirl again, admitting her ignorance right out loud to everyone on the Internet," and it's true. I am. I would hate for you to think that I'm some know-it-all snooty person who always finishes every puzzle and knows exactly what she's doing. Because when you have trouble with stuff in the puzzle, I don't want you to feel stupid. I want you to think, "You know what? I didn't know that. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. Why PuzzleGirl does a lot of puzzles and has a blog and everything! And sometimes she doesn't know things." So there. That's why I do it. You're welcome. So, about ADEN and OMAN. Oman is a country and these facts will help you figure out if it's the right answer to a given clue: (1) it's next to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, (2) it was a U.S. ally in the Gulf War, (3) it's a sultanate, and (4) its capital is Muscat. ADEN, on the other hand, (1) is a city in Yemen, (2) used to be the capital of Yemen, and (3) is a port located on a gulf of the same name. There. Now you know everything you need to know about OMAN and ADEN. For crossword puzzles. There are probably many, many more things to know about them in real life.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Nearby, on a country road (AROUND THE BEND). In my head, I'm seeing a scene from "Sports Night" where Dana Whitaker keeps saying (with strict enunciation, wide eyes, and a circular hand gesture), "He's gone 'round the bend."
  • 39A: Is completely uninformed (DOESN'T KNOW SQUAT). That's a nice colorful entry!
  • 60A: Row house porch (CONCRETE STOOP).
I didn't really have many missteps today. Of course I wanted mall at 1A: Shopping center (MART) and d'oh at 45A: "What an idiot I am!" (DUH). I actually think of DUH more as "What an idiot you are!" N.Y. YANKEE (41D: One of the Bx. Bombers) didn't come into focus immediately, even though I'm a fan. (*ducking*) When I got to 29D: Snitch I thought, "Didn't I just see this clue?" Well, 50A: Snitched — that's close. Answers are RAT and TOLD, respectively, both referring to the act of informing. Didn't we talk about sing recently? Same deal.

What else?
  • 15A: Firenze farewell (CIAO). Italian!
  • 16A: Signs of decay (ODORS). Ewww.
  • 25A: Sonoma Valley container (VAT). Wine country.
  • 38A: Countesses' spouses (EARLS). Seems like it should be count, right? But no.
  • 54A: Super-duper (A-ONE). I'd love to know if any of you ever use this term. It sounds snooty to me. So obviously I never use it. Because I'm not snooty. As we previously established.
  • 72A: Office fill-in (TEMP). I'm a little surprised that there's no indication that this word is a short form. I guess it's a word all on its own now.
  • 3D: Talked a blue streak (RAN ON). I used to think this phrase had something to do with cursing (because of the word blue?), but it just means to talk on and on.
  • 7D: Dash devices (TACHS). See now, here the shortened dash (for dashboard) indicates the shortened answer of TACH (for tachometer).
  • 9D: Precedes (FOREGOES). Totally different than forgoes, which means "to do without." Well, totally different except that sometimes they're spelled the same.
  • 12D: Before, of yore (ERE). ERE is an old-fashioned way of saying before. You'll see it in poetry.
  • 13D: Old fast plane: Abbr. (SST). Supersonic transport. The Concorde was one.
  • 21D: Abbr. for people with only two names (NMI). No Middle Initial. I always wonder how people with more than one middle name handle those stupid forms. For most of my life I went by my first initial and middle name. Man oh man, the DMV computer has No Idea what to do with that. According to today's New York Times, things are even worse over in China.
  • 35D: "Catch a Falling Star" singer (PERRY COMO). With only the E in place I wanted to fit Celine Dion here. Too many letters.
  • 48D: Comfy footwear (MOC). Short for moccasin.
  • 51D: Record collector's platters (LPS). Back in the old days we had these vinyl disks called "records" that we would put on this spinning thing called a "turntable" that was hooked up to speakers and would generate music. You kids don't even understand any of this, I'm sure. It was the good old days! Well, records were different sizes. An LP (which stands for Long Play) was 10–12 inches in diameter and would spin on the turntable at 33-1/3 rotations per minute. Remember the movie sequel "Naked Gun 33-1/3"? You didn't know what those numbers meant did you, you whippersnapper? Now, get off my lawn!
Let us know what you think in the comments. I think Rex has got you tomorrow and I'll see you back here Thursday.

Everything Else — 5A: Letter-routing letters (ATTN); 9A: Confronts (FACES); 14A: A long way off (AFAR); 17A: "The Flintstones" pet (DINO); 18A: Ruler division (INCH); 19A: Find a new tenant for (RELET); 23A: When prime time ends in Middle Amer. (TENPM); 24A: Counterfeit coin (SLUG); 28A: Irish homeland (EIRE); 31A: Mug shot view (PROFILE); 33A: Electrical unit, briefly (AMP); 36A: Malty brew (ALE); 44A: Impressive grouping (ARRAY); 46A: Inclined to avoid the spotlight (SHY); 47A: "Heavens!" (MERCYME); 50A: Snitched (TOLD); 53A: Sneaky (SLY); 56A: Deputized group (POSSE); 64A: Frighten, as horses (SPOOK); 66A: Field of expertise (AREA); 67A: Memo phrase (INRE); 68A: Arizona State's city (TEMPE); 69A: Docking site (PIER); 70A: Chess ending (MATE); 71A: Nonpoetic writing (PROSE); 73A: Prominent periods (ERAS); 1D: Angry with (MADAT); 2D: In flames (AFIRE); 4D: Theatrical travelers (TROUPE); 5D: Corrosive compound (ACID); 6D: Windshield glare reducer (TINT); 8D: Useless (NOHELP); 10D: Mideast port on its own gulf (ADEN); 11D: Cause of coughs and sniffles (COLDVIRUS); 22D: Prickly case (BUR); 26D: Islam's God (ALLAH); 27D: In a foul mood (TESTY); 29D: Snitch (RAT); 30D: Moose relative (ELK); 32D: Web site help sect. (FAQ); 33D: Second or sixth president (ADAMS); 34D: Gourmet mushroom (MOREL); 37D: Call a halt to (END); 40D: Cul-de-__ (SAC); 42D: Not at home (OUT); 43D: One of a reporter's five W's (WHO); 49D: Spellbound (ENRAPT); 52D: Serve a sentence (DOTIME); 55D: Chill-inducing (EERIE); 57D: Salvage ship equipment (SONAR); 58D: A bit, informally (SORTA); 59D: Fencing swords (EPEES); 61D: Butterfingers' cry (OOPS); 62D: Abound (with) (TEEM); 63D: Memorable Old West lawman (EARP); 64D: NASCAR advertiser (STP); 65D: As __ instructions (PER).


Rex Parker said...

Why are you so snooty?

Liked this puzzle a lot. Didn't even think to look for the theme. Too focused on my time (3:23 - one second faster than my NYT). NYYANKEE is a good entry, much as I hate those guys. I know we aren't doing the NYT vs. LAT thing, but today I preferred the LAT.

BUR was probably the toughest thing in the grid for me. I I was literally staring at -UR going "???"

Also had D'OH for DUH. Duh. I mean, D'oh!

Minor malapop when I misread clue on TEN PM (thought clue said "Where" instead of "when") and wrote in TEMPE ... then found TEMPE down in the SW corner. Weird.

Also had MALL for MART.


gjelizabeth said...

MALL for MART, me too.
I was flummoxed by FOREGOES, even after I got all the crosses. I was suspecting the puzzle creator of cobbling together words that would mean "precedes" if you were making up a word. Even after I looked it up in my beloved AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY and found "precedes" in the actual definition I wasn't completely convinced. I CANNOT come up with a sentence in which the verb "to forego", meaning " to precede", sounds natural. The only usage I have ever encountered of this is in the adjective form: "foregone conclusion."
Thanks for pointing out the theme. It went right by me.

Greg Clinton said...

PuzzleGirl, you are hilarious. Your post is the dessert after the crossword meal.

John said...

MALL for MART. Thats what I get for thinkung Big!

Orange said...

I was just remarking over at my other blog that Gail Grabowski's one of that handful of easy crossword specialists. Like Lynn Lempel and Andrea Carla Michaels, a Gail Grabowski Monday or Tuesday puzzle is likely to be smooth and fun. Here, I was partial to the informality of AROUND THE BEND and DOESN'T KNOW SQUAT (though the CONCRETE STOOP did nothing for me).

It also bears noting that aside from the theme answers, there are another 10 multi-word answers. Or 11, if you count A-ONE. If you're a solver who's accustomed to the old TMS puzzles, these answers might've thrown you for a loop. But you're getting used to them, right?

Jeffrey said...

A-ONE write-up, Puzzle Girl.

3:28. Darn you, Rex Parker!


CONCRETE STOOP is the most boring theme answer ever.

docmoreau said...

"Celine Dion?!,"duh. Whose the whippersnapper? Perry Como! Now get off of MY lawn.

xyz said...

I love these LA puzzles. Loved the fill, loved the theme (BEND SQUAT STOOP all near and dear to me as I write restrictions for injured workers) and liked that some reasoning (MALL/MART, INRE, DUH/DOH, etc.) rather than ---- was needed. Some people don't like that ---- word .........

Then again, I'm easy to please. I particularily like solving on paper and tacking my way around these LA puzzles. I get more A-HA moments, I guess.

xyz said...

Oh yeah, one more ... PERRYCOMO was a gimme at age 57. What's the cutoff for that one?

Sandy said...

I have two middle names. The world (DMV, immigration forms) just ignores the second one. Which is a shame, because I'm rather fond of it.

Oh, the puzzle. My brain is not in top form today so I did it lying on the couch watching taped episodes of Battlestar Glactica and Survivor (today is first and last chance for guilt free sick day in a while) and it took me far longer than it should have.

I have a book of Tuesday puzzles and they always take me longer than I feel they should. What's up with that?

Anonymous said...

@Sandy: I feel the same way about Tuesdays sometimes too. And then last week threw me for a loop when I felt that Tuesday was easier and faster than Monday. What's up with that?

I too made all the same filler errors (MALL for MART) and the red letters of doom seem to be creeping in earlier this week. Maybe it was just a slightly more difficult Tuesday?


Puzzle Mom said...

Fun write-up PuzzleGirl. I laughed out loud.

chefbea said...

Me too - mall for mart. Liked the puzzle. Very easy.

imsdave said...

This blog should definitely be getting more play - i am bemused. Fun puzzle, I made all PG's mistakes - the MART/MALL thing just seems wrong to me. High quality puzzles, excellent blogging, what am I missing?

Strict-9er said...

@Puzzle Girl: Don't be so quick to dismiss the youth from being familiar with (and in my case, rather fond of) the realm of vinyl records. I'm 25 now and have had my parents turntable held hastage since I was about 16 or 17. The underground punk/hardcore/indie-rock scene(s) has always embraced the sheer greatness of releasing both LPs as well as 45s (which are generally referred to as 7-inches these days)! Just a little F.Y.I.

(IN-RE:) to the puzzle, both my co-worker and I found today's degree of difficulty to be a bit askew considering it's only Tuesday (as we worked on it together). The NE corner was absolutely dreadful for us. When we finally landed (FACES) for 9A and realized that 9D was inevitably (FOREGOES) we were baffled. Yeah, we had NO IDEA the two spellings (forgo & forego) existed let alone a diffence in meaning between the two!!! At one point we were convinced that 9D had to be HEREGOES. At the time, it seemed to be the only thing that could come close to making sense.

Then we were fumbling with IRAN and OMAN for 10D and ERODE for 16A: Signs of decay. Then to top it off, neither of us knew SST, so we ended up settling with RELAX instead of RELAT and keeping our fingers crossed that SSX made sense. Not to mention we succombed to the MALL trend as well.

All things said it was still fun, but much harder than expected. Not looking forward to tomorrow's puzzle, yet, I am...

mac said...

Fantastic write-up, PuzzleGirl, and I'm a fan, too. Don't get how anyone can hate those guys...

We just spent a whole dinner listening to Dino (Martin). Yes, Italian. Not at our house.

@Sandy: I have the same problem with the 2 middle names. Not only that, they don't accept that my first name isn't exactly what I like to be called...

Greene said...

I'm really checking in late this evening. Lovely puzzle, lovely write-up, smooth easy solve. I'm with IMSDave: what's not to love?

I own far more LPs than I am willing to admit to in public. I rarely play them any longer, but I cannot bring myself to part with them. Many have been put in frames and hung on walls in my study. I even have some up on the walls of the exam rooms at the office. The artwork is often terrific and they are great conversation starters to boot.

Rex Parker said...

Vinyl is big again, in a niche market kind of way. Even the Barnes & Noble music dept. has a vinyl section now.

*David* said...

Decent puzzle, better then most. My only scratch head spot was ARRAY crossing MOREL. Loved seeing SLUG in there, I remember actually seeing one but I NEVER used it.