MONDAY, May 4, 2009 — Gia Christian

— six theme answers start and end with letter "B"

Wow, lots of screw-ups today on my way to completion, started with MEAL for DISH (1A: Entrée) and continued throughout the puzzle. Never saw the theme until I was done with the puzzle. Seems a rather superficial premise for a theme, but the resulting answers are interesting enough. Like today's NYT puzzle, this one felt more wide-open than your typical Monday puzzle. Long Downs in the NE and SW, and big blocks of 5s and 6s in the NW and SE made this Monday less easy to chew up than others. Having no coherent theme added a bit to the difficulty as well, but in the end it was still Monday easy.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Excellent performance (BANG-UP JOB)
  • 29A: Sci. class where many an "Eeuw!" is heard (BIO LAB)
  • 46A: Bill for what you drank (BAR TAB)
  • 62A: Satan (BEELZEBUB)
  • 11D: Betray by bad-mouthing (BACK STAB)
  • 39D: Angels or Dodgers (BALL CLUB)
Crosswordese 101: LIRE (66A: Old Bologna bucks) — "Bucks" are specifically "dollars," so I have no idea what that word is doing in this clue. The LIRA (LIRE is a plural) was of course the currency of Italy before that country converted to the EURO (another common crossword answer) in 1999. It is also the name of the currency of Turkey, and is used as another name (in local languages) for the Syrian pound, Lebanese pound, and the Jordanian dinar. LIRE also means "to read" in French.

What else?
  • 5A: Beatnik's "Understood" ("I DIG") — The puzzle loves its beatniks. Another common answer to a clue like this is "I'M HIP." Beatniks also wear BERETS and play BONGOS and recite poetry at cafes. I have a hard time believing they ever actually existed. They seem always to have been fictional / legendary. I have a movie poster on my living room wall of the movie "The Beat Generation." The tag line: "Behind the weird 'way-out' world of the BEATNIKS!" Mmmm, Mamie van Doren.
  • 19A: Big name in precision blades (X ACTO) — Wanted ATRA or something shaving related.
  • 21A: Perp's excuse (ALIBI) — I like the clue.
  • 24A: Winter fisherman's tool (ICE SAW) — See also ICE AX, which shows up in puzzles an awful lot.
  • 26A: Out of kilter (AMISS) — Went with ASKEW. Also went with BALL TEAM for BALL CLUB, BACK TALK for BACK STAB, and ADAGE for MAXIM (9D: "A stitch in time..." is one).
  • 41A: Skewered meal (KABOB) — Weird. Two wrong answers I wanted elsewhere in the grid (ASKEW and MEAL) turn up in the same clue (ASKEW and "Skewered" are close enough). Beware alternative spellings of KABOB. I think the "A" can be an "E" and (if "Flight of the Conchords" is to be believed) the "O" can be an "A."

  • 60A: Conger catcher (EELER) — Always be thinking eels. They're eeverywhere.
  • 10D: Vocalist Sumac (YMA) — She is also everywhere. Someday she will be the topic of Crosswordese 101.
  • 41D: Be a nuisance at the card game (KIBITZ) — For such a Scrabbly word, it shows up quite a bit in xwords.
  • 44D: "Krazy" comics feline (KAT) — Perhaps the greatest newspaper comic of all time. Also, the second half of a delicious kandy bar.
See you all Friday.


Everything Else — 1A: EntrÈe (DISH); 5A: Beatnik's "Understood" (IDIG); 9A: "I goofed" (MYBAD); 14A: Jacob's biblical twin (ESAU); 15A: The Beatles' "Love __" (MEDO); 16A: Italian violin maker (AMATI); 17A: Excellent performance (BANGUPJOB); 19A: Big name in precision blades (XACTO); 20A: Dangerous household gas (RADON); 21A: Perp's excuse (ALIBI); 23A: Author Kesey (KEN); 24A: Winter fisherman's tool (ICESAW); 26A: Out of kilter (AMISS); 28A: Old map letters (SSR); 29A: Sci. class where many an "Eeuw!" is heard (BIOLAB); 33A: Germany's von Bismarck (OTTO); 35A: Payment to an ex (ALIMONY); 36A: Light bulb unit (WATT); 37A: "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" playwright Edward (ALBEE); 40A: Gardner of film (AVA); 41A: Skewered meal (KABOB); 42A: Honey (DEAR); 43A: Register at the hotel (CHECKIN); 45A: Spanish surrealist (DALI); 46A: Bill for what you drank (BARTAB); 47A: Concorde, e.g. (SST); 50A: Academy trainee (PLEBE); 52A: Musical ineptitude (TINEAR); 54A: The Big Apple, initially (NYC); 55A: Eurasian range (URALS); 59A: Flourless cake (TORTE); 60A: Conger catcher (EELER); 62A: Satan (BEELZEBUB); 64A: Handles roughly (MAULS); 65A: Showed up (CAME); 66A: Old Bologna bucks (LIRE); 67A: Round trip? (ORBIT); 68A: Revue component (SKIT); 69A: Went under (SANK); 1D: Rubble (DEBRIS); 2D: Newton and Stern (ISAACS); 3D: Smoothing tool (SANDER); 4D: Science fiction awards (HUGOS); 5D: Babysitter's handful (IMP); 6D: __ vu (DEJA); 7D: "American __" (IDOL); 8D: Desert largely in Mongolia (GOBI); 9D: "A stitch in time ..." is one (MAXIM); 10D: Vocalist Sumac (YMA); 11D: Betray by bad-mouthing (BACKSTAB); 12D: Vouch for (ATTESTTO); 13D: Singer Celine (DION); 18D: Lacking what it takes (UNABLE); 22D: Eater of purÈed peas (BABY); 25D: Nintendo game system (WII); 27D: Dubuque native (IOWAN); 30D: Nebraska city (OMAHA); 31D: Tryst participant (LOVER); 32D: Put on __: pretend (ANACT); 34D: Tout's hangout, briefly (OTB); 35D: Eagle's nest (AERIE); 37D: Say further (ADD); 38D: 2012 is the next one (LEAPYEAR); 39D: Angels or Dodgers (BALLCLUB); 41D: Be a nuisance at the card game (KIBITZ); 43D: "Ten-four" speaker (CBER); 44D: "Krazy" comics feline (KAT); 47D: Belgrade's country (SERBIA); 48D: Ringed planet (SATURN); 49D: Host who expects you to question his answer? (TREBEK); 51D: Explode (BURST); 53D: Carols (NOELS); 54D: Verne captain (NEMO); 56D: First grade basics (ABCS); 57D: Faucet problem (LEAK); 58D: 18-wheeler (SEMI); 61D: Connecticut Ivy Leaguer (ELI); 63D: Allow (LET).


PuzzleGirl said...

I had KABAB for quite a while — only because of the Flight of the Conchords video! Also wanted cadet for PLEBE, and fell into the adage trap.

I don't believe I've never seen "Eeew" spelled with a U.

Orange said...

I really need to get Season 1 of Flight of the Conchords on DVD. I saw a couple episodes on HBO just before Season 2 started and was hooked but I have missed half the series! This must be remedied. Or maybe Rex can just provide key clips, in order, and I'll watch the show via this blog.

A.B.E.: Always be eeling.

I had the final M in place and so wanted AXIOM in place of MAXIM, even though an axiom isn't the same as an adage/maxim/old saw. I think my head does this portmanteau-word math: adage + maxim = axiom.

Orange said...

Quite by coincidence, I just discovered that there's a small town in Illinois called Congerville. We need to have a crossword tournament there.

Anonymous said...

the Beatniks are/were real. I was one.

Badir said...

@Rex, speaking of ASKEW and "skewered", there's a restaurant in San Francisco near my mother's house called ASKEW that has, yes, skewered KABOBs.

*David* said...

I also put in askew for AMISS and first put in LIRA for LIRE. This one was not an autopilot Monday and required a bit more time.

I've seen it before but what do the old map letters, SSR represent?

Orange said...

SSR = Soviet Socialist Republic. As in the Lithuanian SSR, Uzbek SSR, etc. Details via Wikipedia.

Joon said...

weird puzzle--normally the theme entries are either the longest answers in the puzzle, or the longest across answers (with possible longer downs that are not thematic). here there are many answers as long or longer than 6 (the shortest theme answers), and the theme answers include both acrosses and downs... that's very rare. and typically when that does happen, there's a * or something else to indicate the theme in the clues. not here. so you can be forgiven for not working out the theme until afterwards, because they didn't make it easy for us.

and by "they," i mean rich, since he was the only person involved in the making of this puzzle ("gia christian" = "it's rich again," one of his anagrammatic pseudonyms).

on the other hand, you obviously didn't need to catch onto the theme in order to solve the puzzle, and it was monday-level straightforward aside from the oddity i mentioned.

chefbea said...

Easy fun Monday puzzle. Wanted ball team instead of club.

David Marlow said...

Yeah, I had "cadet" for "plebe" as well.

Don't know about "mauls" for "handles roughly". Doesn't maul imply some kind of disfigurement, say, by a trained Lion you've known for years?

Anyways, discovered this blog when I was cheating on Friday's puzzle. I typed in a clue word for word and this was the top hit. Really like it, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the theme refers to "B2B" (business to business)as in B2B Enterprises. Or maybe it's BB as in the best show on TV right now: Breaking Bad. Either way, this was a fun Monday. I'm confidently filling in EELER and YMA with no hesitation these days.

- - Robert

Greene said...

Strange Monday in May. Both this puzzle and the NYT had a lot more going on than I would expect for a Monday. It's great though, cause it keeps things fresh, although I suspect you could get about seven or eight crosswordese lessons out of this puzzle.

AMATI seems to be everywhere I solve these days.

Ooh, and by all means, let's have a crosswordese lesson on everybody's favorite Peruvian puzzle singer: YMA SUMAC!

chefbea said...

Welcome Switters. Good to have you on board!!!

Van55 said...

I'm surprised that you liked the clue "Perp's excuse" for "alibi." If the accused has an alibi, he's, by definition, not the perpetrator.

Norm said...

@Van55: not if it's a bad alibi or a false one ...

TheGuyWhoRantsThatAlibiDoesntMeanExcuse said...

@Van55 - Accepted definitions of ALIBI have come to include excuse, in addition to the standard proof of being elsewhere. I hate it, but every dictionary has it, so it's valid.

mac said...

Looking back over the puzzle, "I dig", "me bad" and "me do" look very odd in their space.

To a lot of people in Europe, BB is Brigitte Bardot.