SUNDAY, May 17, 2009 (syndicated puzzle) — Kathleen Fay O'Brien

THEME: The "Quiet Meetings" are two-word phrases in which the words "meet" with two P's. In music, pp denotes pianissimo, or "very softly."

This isn't among my favorite sorts of themes—when all that binds the theme answers is a coincidental couple of letters, the "aha" factor drops significantly. You don't get the payoff of feeling frightfully clever for figuring out the theme.

And yes, yesterday I said that PuzzleGirl would be your host today, but she is visiting the Hawkeye State so I'm covering for her.

Crosswordese 101: A pig's STY is one thing and a STYE (19A: Eyelid problem) is an entirely different thing. According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, the word STYE dates back about four centuries and means "an inflamed swelling of a sebaceous gland at the margin of an eyelid." Your ophthalmologist would call it a hordeolum, but we won't be seeing that in the crossword any time soon. It's the four-letter STYE that rules the day—and this will be the answer just about 100% of the time a clue suggests eyelid woes.

I'd include an informative STYE photo but trust me, most of you don't want to see it, and those who do can Google it themselves.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: *Recycled stuff (SCRAP PAPER).
  • 25A: *Most dreaming occurs in the last one (SLEEP PHASE). Boy, is it ever hard to wake up when the alarm goes off in the middle of your dream.
  • 46A: *West Coast Marine Corps training base (CAMP PENDLETON).
  • 68A: *It's loaded with rolls (CAP PISTOL).
  • 90A: *"Science" employed in many a self-help book (POP PSYCHOLOGY). That's a zippy answer.
  • 113A: *Game you have to dress for (STRIP POKER). And this answer's even zippier.
  • 115A: Musical direction, and a hint to the quiet meetings taking place in the answers to starred clues (PIANISSIMO). Do 5th-grade band members snicker about the pp/"pee-pee" thing?
  • 38D: *Liability suit targets (DEEP POCKETS).
  • 42D: *Thing to do first (TOP PRIORITY).
Assorted answers and clues:
  • 35A: North Dakota State's home (FARGO). PuzzleGirl has North Dakota roots as well as Iowa roots. I always get disgruntled on Fargo's behalf when crossword clues about a city on the Red River lead to HANOI instead of FARGO. Both five letters...
  • 45A: It can't be returned (ACE).
  • 63A: Rods with roasts (SPITS). No, not DANGERFIELDS. Nobody ever called him Rod anyway.
  • 71A: Debt evidence (CHITS). Chits are IOUs. I can't say I've ever heard anyone use the word, but it does pop up in crosswords occasionally.
  • 79A: 1950s-'60s "Man on the Street" comic (NYE). Louis Nye, not Bill Nye the Science Guy.
  • 88A: Actress Conn (DIDI). She starred in the '70s movie You Light Up My Life (theme song recorded by Debby Boone). I liked her in that and sorta wanted to be her at the time. I no longer remember what the movie was about or whether Didi Conn did anything of note after that. Whoops! Wikipedia tells me that she was in Grease and its sequel, as Frenchy. Rex would have known that.
  • 93A: X, at times (TEN). This one kept me guessing for way too long. Roman numeral X = 10.
  • 107A: Captain Marvel's magic word (SHAZAM). This was just in another crossword this weekend. "Shazam!" If you were a kid in the '70s, you probably watched the Saturday morning super hour, 30 minutes of "Shazam!" action with Billy Batson and 30 minutes with Isis, straying far afield from her Egyptian fertility goddess roots.
  • 119A: Very, in scores (ASSAI). Can something be assai pianissimo?
  • 3D: Green party? (TYRO). In crosswords, green can refer to a newbie or TYRO. It can connote ECO/ECOL. It can be slang for cash or have something to do with golf. It can even pertain to Ralph Nader and the Green Party, which this clue's trying to make you think of.
  • 87D: Impudence (CHUTZPAH). I love both of these words, I do.
  • 102D: '90s "SNL" regular Farley (CHRIS). If you loved Chris Farley, you should read The Chris Farley Show, sort of a biography–cum–oral history.

  • 106D: Seed cover (ARIL). This word was in the New York Times crossword the other day, and at my other blog, the commenters discussed the relative merits of ARIL and ANIL (the source of indigo dye) as litmus tests to identify hardcore crossword solvers. If your first thought upon reading "seed cover" is ARIL, you just might be a crossword maniac.
And now, two things I had absolutely no idea about:
  • 30A: "Washington Merry-Go-Round" columnist (PEARSON). Wow, I never even saw this clue. Filled in PEARSON via the Downs, as it happens. Had I seen the clue, I'd have had no choice but to fill it in via the Downs. Wikipedia reminds me that I looked up Drew Pearson the last time he was in a crossword, so apparently I forgot all about him. It's hard for 42-year-olds to remember people who died 40 years ago.
  • 67D: Former African territory __-Urundi (now two countries) (RUANDA). Once a Belgian suzerainty, in 1962 the territory split into Rwanda and Burundi. Hey, you know how Don Cheadle starred in Hotel Rwanda and then more recently was in the family film Hotel for Dogs? I like to say the latter is the sequel.
Everything Else — 1A: Nitty-gritty (PITH); 5A: Company whose name is quacked in ads (AFLAC); 10A: Skier's wear (PARKA); 15A: Slack off (EASE); 20A: Capital at 12,000 feet (LHASA); 21A: Medicinal creams (ALOES); 22A: Slog (PLOD); 27A: Birch of "American Beauty" (THORA); 28A: Perfume counter array (SCENTS); 31A: Insinuating (SNIDE); 34A: Tina of "30 Rock" (FEY); 36A: When people retire (BEDTIME); 39A: Mentalist Geller (URI); 40A: Kennel call (ARF); 41A: Cons (ANTIS); 50A: __ hunch (ON A); 51A: Question of time (WHEN); 53A: Silly type (GOOSE); 54A: Behaved (ACTED); 55A: Sunscreen nos. (SPFS); 56A: Easy stride (LOPE); 57A: Professor 'iggins ('ENRY); 58A: __-Caps: candy (SNO); 59A: Chef's repertoire (RECIPES); 61A: Take care of a boxer? (PETSIT); 65A: College offering (DEGREE); 66A: Destroy over time (ERODE); 72A: Cell centers (NUCLEI); 74A: Reel (LURCH); 75A: Not punctual for (LATE TO); 77A: Starts liking (TAKES TO); 80A: Copy of an orig. (REPR.); 81A: Composer Satie (ERIK); 84A: People (ONES); 85A: __ mail (SNAIL); 87A: Two-time Tony winner Rivera (CHITA); 89A: Boulder summer hrs. (MDT); 94A: Pasta sauce herb (BASIL); 96A: Work the aisles, slangily (USH); 97A: It borders It. (AUS); 98A: Lit (PIE-EYED); 100A: Bizarre (OUTRE); 102A: PC hookup (CRT); 103A: 13½-inch-high award (OSCAR); 104A: It can be hard to refold (ROAD MAP); 109A: Demolished (RAZED); 118A: Futile (VAIN); 120A: Formed just for this project (AD HOC); 121A: __'acte (ENTR); 122A: WWII journalist Ernie (PYLE); 123A: "If I Ran the Zoo" author (SEUSS); 124A: Serious (HEAVY); 125A: Blotter site (DESK); 1D: "Hey, you!" (PSST); 2D: Yen (ITCH); 4D: Pulitzer rival (HEARST); 5D: Chalet backdrop (ALP); 6D: D.C. mortgage insurer (FHA); 7D: End, as a subscription (LAPSE); 8D: "Wait __!" (A SEC); 9D: Blithe (CAREFREE); 10D: Ashen (PASTY); 11D: Shakespeare title starter (ALLS); 12D: Sturgeon output (ROE); 13D: Continually remind (KEEP AFTER); 14D: According to (AS PER); 15D: "Silkwood" co-screenwriter Nora (EPHRON); 16D: Word of sorrow (ALAS); 17D: Not great (SO-SO); 18D: Paradise (EDEN); 24D: Chicken Little's emotion (PANIC); 26D: Certain polytheist (PAGAN); 29D: Opposite of ja (NEIN); 32D: Publicists' concerns (IMAGES); 33D: Possessed (DEMONIC); 35D: Guitar ridge (FRET); 36D: More than tear up (BAWL); 37D: Cave phenomenon (ECHO); 39D: __-daisy (UPSY); 40D: "Little Men" author (ALCOTT); 43D: How distances to ballpark fences are measured (IN FEET); 44D: Gets cheeky with (SASSES); 47D: Fancy entrance (PORTAL); 48D: Coffee go-with (DANISH); 49D: Pigged out (on) (ODED); 52D: Ribs (NEEDLES); 55D: Seen from the crow's-nest (SIGHTED); 58D: Part of little girls' makeup? (SPICE); 60D: Singer Winans (CECE); 62D: Tiger's bagful (TEES); 63D: How acrobats perform (SPRYLY); 64D: Seine sun (SOLEIL); 66D: Bury (ENTOMB); 69D: Fine, for instance (PUNISH); 70D: Airport security concerns (LAPTOPS); 73D: "Don't make __ difficult!" (IT SO); 76D: Like "Macbeth" (TRAGIC); 78D: Not by accident (ON PURPOSE); 80D: Pi followers (RHOS); 82D: Téte thought (IDÉE); 83D: Benevolent (KIND); 86D: Church area (APSE); 90D: Portly (PLUMP); 91D: Term of affection, in Asti (CARA); 92D: A long time (YEARS); 95D: Nutrient in kelp (IODINE); 99D: Cleared the board (ERASED); 101D: Spanish snacks (TAPAS); 103D: Seat of Douglas County, Nebraska (OMAHA); 104D: Brief answer? (RSVP); 105D: Our Gang assent (OTAY); 107D: Salty septet (SEAS); 108D: Subordinate (AIDE); 110D: Brief reading? (ZINE); 111D: ER arrivals (EMTS); 112D: Nerd (DORK); 114D: Manhattan sch. (KSU); 116D: Fall mo. (NOV.); 117D: Standoffish (ICY).


Rex Parker said...


Speaking of ANIL/ARIL ... I have GOT to learn how to spell LHASA, which I always want to spell LLASA. Always. It's absurd.


Jeffrey said...

I think POP PSYCHOLOGY is much more fun to read as POPSY CHOLOGY. I must have a book around here that will explain why that is.

Carol said...

Rex - I think it's the two L llama that makes you want to spell Lhasa that way! Isn't a CRT (cathode ray tube) getting a bit dated for computer moniters these days? Hard to think of hooking one up to a PC anymord.

Greene said...

Ahh. A clean, smooth, easy solve. Just the remedy for the lackluster NYT puzzle this morning. The theme was quite simple, but that didn't bother me in the slightest.

@Orange: Fifth grade music students everywhere are still snickering over pp. Older students too. When I was a kid and learned this word and notation, I couldn't wrap my brain around it. What on earth did a piano have to do with playing softly? Duh.

Love seeing CHITA Rivera in the puzzle today. Every time I see her name I'm reminded of the old "Chita-Rita" Forbidden Broadway sketch where nobody can tell the difference between Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno. Hmm...no clip of that.

Here's CHITA in a routine with dance great Jack Cole from an old TV kinescope circa 1960. Chita's in at the 2:20 minute mark. Just skip past Sid Ceasar doing the Leonard Bernstein impersonation, unless that's your kind of thing. Chita's pretty amazing and this clip catches her in her youthful prime.

Stan said...

CRT irked me a little too -- too much staring for such a throwaway answer that seemed kinda wrong. But the rest was all smooth sailing.

PETSIT was cute.

Also, nice to see THORA Birch in a puzzle -- she was great in 'Ghost World'

Karen said...

Mmm, pop rocks. A quintessential reminder of my youth. I recently had a martini with pop rocks on the glass rim (in place of the salt).

Chutzpah my favorite word...I had CHUT and couldn't think where that was going.

Rex, do you call the dog a llasa apso? I call it a dustmop.

Agreed the theme not very exciting. Maybe they could have varied the volume, thrown in some FFs as well as PPs.

chefbea said...

Didn't know what pp stood for when I did this puzzle last sunday. Why is it that our paper is still getting the sunday puzzle a week before anyone else???

jeff in chicago said...

Wow. I'm late today. Was at GreenFest all day. Heard Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn speak. Interesting.

Fun puzzle.

Fun fact: No scene in "Fargo" was filmed in Fargo.

JaJaJoe said...

Having done some auditing, for 97A It borders it
I thought of AUD. Finding the answer to be AUS,
I was hoping one of you woulda 'splained such.

Also, 81A Composer Satie ERIK was timely on his birthday. For some of his eccentric titles plus musical directions ala 115A + 119A (per some of you) see http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2009/05/17

Orange said...

JaJaJoe, the capital I and the period are key—[It borders It.] means [It borders Italy: Abbr.]. AUS. is short for Austria.