TUESDAY, April 28, 2009 — Joy C. Frank

Theme: Animal Actions — Theme answers are phrases that follow the pattern [verb] + the + [animal name].

Crosswordese 101: When solving crossword puzzles it helps to know various types of fish and words related to fish. Today we're going to concentrate on ROE (13D: Fish eggs). The problem I have is that I'm never sure if the three-letter egg answer is supposed to be ROE or OVA. A quick look through past clues for both of these words helps a lot. Sometimes ROE is clued as a legal pseudonym (either in general, or specifically with reference to Roe v. Wade). But if the clue is going for eggs, it will almost always hint at (or state outright) the "fish/food" part by including words such as shad, salmon, seafood, or delicacy. If they're feeling super tricky that day, the clue will be something like [Preschooler?], meaning a future fish. OVA on the other hand, will either be clued simply as [Eggs] or will strongly nudge you in the direction of science/reproduction by includes words such as lab, gamete, cells, or fertilization. So now you know.

Ya know how sometimes you're solving a puzzle and seem to be right on the constructor's wavelength? The answers come to you seemingly without any thought? Clues that you absolutely know are going to trip people up are crystal clear to you? The whole solving experience just feels smooth and effortless and you feel at one with the universe? Yeah, that didn't happen to me today. I'm sure this is a lovely puzzle, but it was just not doing it for me. Clue/answer pairs seemed awkward to me at best and flat-out wrong at worst. Some old-timey names that I absolutely know just wouldn't come without crosses. It just felt like much more of a struggle than I'm accustomed to on a Tuesday.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Talk aimlessly (SHOOT THE BULL). I bet this answer would be different in a Brendan Emmett Quigley puzzle.
  • 31A: Blame someone else (PASS THE BUCK). So at this point I'm thinking the animals in the theme answers are all going to be male.
  • 41A: Dress to impress (PUT ON THE DOG). This is an awesome phrase.
  • 55A: Pass its peak, slangily, as a TV series (JUMP THE SHARK). To me, this entry saved the puzzle even though I'm not crazy about the clue. (Slangily? Why aren't the other theme answers clued the same way?).
  • 5A: Imogene of comedy (COCA). There's only this one Imogene, right? It took me waaaay too long to come up with her last name.
  • 15A: Made fun of, in a way (APED). Ape is usually clued with reference to copying. I'd never thought of it as a particularly pejorative act, but I guess I can see how you could get there.
  • 18A: Composer Édouard (LALO). Remember this guy.
  • 19A: In-your-face challenge (SUE ME). In my head, it's "So sue me."
  • 24A: Opposite of "All rise" (BE SEATED). I'd like to know if this conjured a courtroom or a wedding for you. Courtroom here.
  • 38A: Traveler's choice (AIR). This is one of those awkward ones. I think the answer is too vague for the clue. On the other hand, it's possible I have no idea what I'm talking about.
  • 47A: Chimney sweep's sweepings (SOOT). Did you know it's good luck to shake hands with a chimney sweep?
  • 66A: Where Homer drinks Duff Beer (MOE'S). Today's predictable "Simpsons" reference.
  • 67A: Insect repellent ingredient (DEET). I like how this crosses 54D: Shooting contest with traps (SKEET).
  • 2D: Supple (LITHE). Supple sounds like a dirty word to me.
  • 3D: What the game is, to Holmes (AFOOT). This one is going in the awkward category.
  • 4D: One hiring relatives (NEPOTIST). It seems kind of silly to complain about an answer that came to me immediately, but I'm afraid I entered this answer under protest. It's just ugly.
  • 6D: Colorful fish (OPAH). Initially entered beta. That's a fish, right?
  • 9D: Dangerous pipe problem (GAS LEAK). Um, I think that's more than just a "pipe problem."
  • 21D: It's pitched by campers (TENT). Why the plural in the clue?
  • 22D: "Semper fi" military org. (USMC). United States Marine Corp. Hoo-rah!
  • 27D: Rapper's cap (DO-RAG). Wanted Kangol. Are Kangol's still around? ... Yep. According to Wikipedia, Jay Leno's bandleader, Kevin Eubanks, wears one almost every night. Kickin' it old skool!
  • 39D: Adjust for daylight-saving time (SET AHEAD). Wanted spring ahead.
  • 41D: Pleasingly pungent (PIQUANT). Okay, that's an awesome word. I cooked with capers tonight for the first time ever. And piquant is exactly the word I would use to describe them.
  • 43D: Bullfighters (TOREROS). Wanted toredors.
  • 49D: English Derby site (EPSOM). Epsom/Essex? Epsom/Essex? It's gotta be one of those, but I don't know the difference.
  • 50D: Dictator's aide (STENO). Dictator in this case means "one who dictates." A STENO(grapher) is "one who transcribes."
Hope you guys enjoyed this more than I did. See you back here Thursday.

Everything Else — 1A: Family group (CLAN); 9A: Succeed (GOFAR); 14A: Widespread (RIFE); 16A: Prefix meaning "vinegar" (ACETO); 17A: Where the steeple is, vis-à-vis the church (ATOP); 23A: Parlor piece (SETTEE); 28A: Snowfall unit (INCH); 30A: Ex-quarterback Dan (MARINO); 36A: Debussy's sea (MER); 37A: MD's calendar listing (APPT); 39A: Fluids in shots (SERA); 40A: Brazilian port (RIO); 45A: Space along the page border (MARGIN); 48A: Old things (ANTIQUES); 51A: Looks shocked, e.g. (REACTS); 57A: Margaret Mead subject (SAMOA); 60A: Burn a bit (SEAR); 61A: Buffalo's lake (ERIE); 62A: Sci-fi staple (ALIEN); 63A: Aware of (ONTO); 64A: Pre-deal payment (ANTE); 65A: Rising agent (YEAST); 1D: Boorish (CRASS); 5D: Pasadena science institute, familiarly (CALTECH); 7D: Fanzine focus (CELEB); 8D: Hacienda brick (ADOBE); 10D: Of the eye (OCULAR); 11D: Lawyer's charge (FEE); 12D: Place to get bucks fast, briefly (ATM); 25D: Like Olympic races (TIMED); 26D: Año starter (ENERO); 29D: Oven output (HEAT); 31D: Italian city known for its cheese (PARMA); 32D: Like beehives (APIAN); 33D: Baseball or golf (SPORT); 34D: Much of an obit (BIO); 35D: Java holders (URNS); 42D: E pluribus __ (UNUM); 44D: Cultivation tools (HOES); 46D: Military action toys (GI JOES); 52D: Mexican meat (CARNE); 53D: Clichéd (TRITE); 56D: Despise (HATE); 57D: "By the way ..." (SAY); 58D: Stein filler (ALE); 59D: Actress Farrow (MIA).


Rex Parker said...

I have literally never heard anyone say PUT ON THE DOG. I have almost never heard anyone say SHOOT THE BULL. SHOOT THE SH!T, yes, SHOOT THE BREEZE, of course. BULL? ugh.

What is the theme? Blank the animal?

Yes, JUMP THE SHARK is the best thing here. Doesn't save the puzzle for me, though. Some of the stuff in the NE and SW is pretty good, I guess.


Myron said...

I managed to solve this one in under four minutes. I mean, I was tearing through this thing. Getting 3 of the 4 theme answers off the bat sure helps.

("OFF THE BAT" would work as a theme answer in this puzzle, wouldn't it? OK, it wouldn't.)

I looked up Edouard Lalo, to see if I'd heard of anything he'd written. I haven't, but "Le roi d'Ys" ("The King of Ys") if fun to know. And if 2-letter words regularly appeared in crosswords, we'd all have heard of it.


Sandy said...

I like to be able to finish a Tuesday with my oatmeal, and this left me with a frustrating couple of blanks. Part of that is my problem for mis-reading "obit" as "orbit." Dang. OPAH/LALO was just me not knowing stuff.

Agree that the "AIR' clue was too vague. And then the Simpsons clue was too specific. I know consistency is hard, especially on a Tuesday, but this irked me.

I'm sure one of your readers can tell me when they have ever said, or heard someone say PUTTING ON THE DOG, but that doesn't make me any happier. Shoot the Bull is almost as unknown to me. I was worried for a moment that the LAT was going radical and doing a Tuesday rebus and that there were missing Zs in Putting on the Ritz and Shoot the Breeze.

gjelizabeth said...

Two bits. First, I've never heard the phrase JUMPTHESHARK. Modern life just keeps sliding past me. Second, 57Down SAY seemed awkwardly clued. "By the way..." suggests something coming after, not before, and I only know this phrase as "Say, by the way...". That said, This was a fun Tuesday for me and I paid attention to the theme answers today. Having worked out the (verb)THE(animal) structure I noticed the progression SHOOT, PASS, PUT ON, JUMP. Does anybody know of a basketball use for PUT ON? Could this be a buried secondary theme?

hazel said...

I actually liked this puzzle. I must just be in a good mood today. Never heard of JUMPTHESHARK OR PUTONTHEDOG - although I like them both, and will try to use them in the future.

I did wonder about the origin of the phrase SHOOT THE BULL for talk aimlessly. How did that come about?? I'm not really sure I want to know.

jeff in chicago said...

A perfectly fine Tuesday. I agree, PG, that BEQ would have replaced BULL. I already had the B by the time I read the clue for 20A, so it didn't occur to me. And for no apparent reason, seeing ALIEN YEAST in the SW corner amuses me. Feels like a really bad Stephen King novel. He would definitely JUMPTHESHARK if he wrote it.

Al said...

As Rex pointed out, shoot the s**t is a more known phrase. bulls**t is often a substitute for simply s**t. So to euphemize the phrase around sensitive ears, shoot the bull replaces shoot the s**t

Or not. Just seems reasonable to me. I've heard of it, but then Wisconsinites probably have more of a particular affinity for subjects related to the bovine population...

John said...

JUMP THE SHARK, The only place Ive heard this phrase is in TV Guide! I never understood what it meant until today. It wasnt worth the wait!!

Fred said...

Interesting. I've heard the phrase "shoot the bull" all my life. And I've used it a lot myself. Maybe it's a mideast/midwest thing. I thought the puzzle was a pleasant Tuesday experience.

obertb said...

Maybe SHOOT THE BULL is regional. I'm from the Midwest and I've heard this expression all my life. On the other hand, I've never heard JUMP THE SHARK, (don't read TVGuide) but I'm glad to know it. PUT ON THE DOG would seem more coastal than midwestern, but I've heard it often. (Why coastal? Because we midwesterners are less--how shall I say?--fashion-conscious, than coast dwellers, urban ones, anyway.)

*David* said...

SHOOT THE BULL is a common phrase in my circles and was the first thing that came to mind. I'm not sure what crowd most of you hang out with, oh you're from the NE, understood. SHARK and DOG phrases were unknown.

I liked a lot of the fill, the hardest crossing was the OPAH, LALO/COCA section. Favorite fill was PIQUANT, SUE ME, and ACETO.

SethG said...

The BULL and DOG phrases seemed old-timey. And SHARK feels dated.

Nepotism is one of the English words I learned in Spanish class.
SG: "¿Qué es el nepotismo?"
Sra.: "Nepotism."
SG: "Oh."

I did know it's good luck to shake 'ands with a sweep (mine's from Pittsburgh), I do cook with capers, and I do wear a Kangol.

Joon said...

yeah... didn't know BULL or DOG. BUCK and SHARK, sure. so the theme fell a little flat for me. on the other hand, i had absolutely no beef with the clues for AIR, MOE'S, AFOOT (great word, great clue, i thought), or NEPOTISM. and CALTECH is a really nice crossword answer, especially for the LAT puzzle.

chefbea said...

Thought it should be shoot the breeze also

In Greenwich they hold "Puttin" on the Dog" once a year where you can come and adopt stray dogs - cats also. Its a lot of fun watching dogs do tricks etc.

And as an aside - BULL DOG is the mascot of the marines

never heard of jump the shark - Where did that saying come from?

@puzzle girl did you make chicken picatta? Love capers

Karen said...

For the folks who've never heard the phrase JUMP THE SHARK, it comes from a Happy Days episode set in Hawaii where the Fonz, you know, jumps over a shark, on waterskis. While wearing his leather jacket. (See the blog picture.) There's a website where people discuss at what point various series have turned unwatchable. I'll let you guess the site name.

And I've used the Shoot the Bull term, but I can't remember in which part of the country.

Lemonade714 said...

The bailiff does announce "ALL RISE" when the judge first enters the courtroom, and then "BE SEATED" when the judgfe sits.

BETTA fish have two ts, though I thought the OPAH/LALO cross was a bit much for a Tuesday.

One of the interesting things about crossword puzzles is the unknown of regional and other constructor bias.

Totally unfamiliar with the term TORERO, knowing only the american TOREADOR, or MATADOR.

Any puzzle with Piquant, and a Sherlock Holmes reference is not bad.

chefbea said...

@karen thanks for the explanation of jump the shark

Rex Parker said...


NEPOTISM, sure. NEPOTIST ... less good.



Anonymous said...

From Chicago originally and very familiar with SHOOT THE BULL. No food reference opportunities today..., other than maybe, YEAST. (?) Ughhh.

- - Robert

Unknown said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle, probably because i got all of the answers right on the first go around

shooting the bull has a double kind of meaning

on one hand it refers to the action of bulls in a pen. they gather together and snort and just generally make a bunch of noise

on the other hand it refers to lounging around and lazily playing darts (with the bulls-eye)

i will be using put on the dog now as it is my new favorite saying

Dan said...

Yeah for "piquant!" And "supple" sounds like a dirty word? No way! It's sexy, IMO, if a word can be such a thing. Now "lithe," on the other hand, is a word that hangs out in truck stop restrooms on Saturday nights.

~LA Dan

Joon said...

oh! for some reason i didn't even notice. NEPOTIST ... yeah, i guess it's not as common as NEPOTISM. but to me it sounds perfectly natural, unlike some of the -ER words you see in puzzles. it may be that for every -ISM there are -ISTs, whereas it is patently untrue that for every verb there is an -ER of that verb. does anybody buy that? i just made it up.

ok, first counterexample: STOICISM. the adherents are STOICs, not STOICISTs. there goes that theory.

Anonymous said...

@Lemondade: I've only heard "torero" during the beer barell polka (I was raised near Milwaukee) and it was always more of a nonense word. Did make me think of the Brewers' baseball team though.

Loved having "jump the shark" in the puzzle. I bought the book with the same name about 10 years ago for a friend. Their website used to be much better (before the TV Guide takeover) and I always loved voting on how different shows jumped.


Anonymous said...

Check out this link for clarification on "Jump the Shark" (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/jump-the-shark.html. Interesting web site.

mac said...

I enjoyed this puzzle, although I only really knew one of the theme answers: pass the buck. Shoot the bull I know as "shoot the breeze", should it be "bullshoot" then?

@puzzlegirl: to me piquant means savory as opposed to sweet, so not necessary sour. I do love capers, use them a lot. In some recipes you fry them in oil and they pop.

I think my favorite clue was the "dictator" one, that was clever.

@SethG: I think we shouldn't be shaking hands at all anymore....
Yesterday my brother-in-law called to give us advise on how to deal with this pandemic, and at the end of his discourse my husband said: "Sorry, Glenn, I have to go out to talk to my 5 Mexican masons". Glenn didn't miss a beat and told him to shake all their hands.

Orange said...

A couple years ago, my friend had chicken with lemon and capers. She toted the leftovers around as we clothes-shopped for game-show clothing for me (Merv Griffin's Crosswords had, alas, jumped the shark long before I appeared on it). In Banana Republic, we thought someone had been farting richly because there was such a stink. Turned out to be the bag with the leftovers. We blamed the capers, rightly or wrongly. And then we did the right thing: we threw the bag in the trash rather than hiding it in the store as a prank.

I liked this theme, especially JUMP THE SHARK. It's a phrase I apply to things other than TV shows. Restaurant that isn't as good as it used to be? Website I don't care for any more? They've jumped the shark.

chefwen said...

Had a few mistakes at first COCO instead of COCA, crude instead of CRASS and abuzz in for APIAN, all easily fixable esp. when the MZ just wasn't going anywhere.

We don't say shoot the bull or shoot the s**t here, we say "talk story".

Although I did not know LALO, OPAH was a gimme.

chefbea said...

@orange - that must have been chicken picatta you were carrying around

Orange said...

@chefbea: "Test chicken for doneness. Salt to taste. Cut the cheese liberally."

Rex Parker said...

nudism, nudist
cubism, cubist
priapism, priapist?
organism, organist... I like that one

I think that, sadly, every verb *does* have an "ER" nominative form.


mac said...

@Orange: recipe for chicken paprikash:
1. steal a chicken.

Sparky said...

Jump the shark refers to a late Happy Days episode where Arthur Fonzerelli (aka The Fonz) wore his trademark black leather jacket and water skied over a school of sharks! It was such a lame attempt to revitalize the aging sit-com that the industry immortalized the episode by usuing it as a pinncale describing a TV series that had PASSED its prime.