SUNDAY, May 31, 2009 — Edward Sessa

Theme: "Double Plays" — Theme answers are phrases created by combining the titles of two Broadway shows. At least I think that's the theme. I haven't heard of some of these shows, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Except to underscore my ignorance of Broadway.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Munchkin femmes fatales? (WICKED LITTLE WOMEN). Read the books, but haven't seen the plays.
  • 36A: Workplace braggart? (COMPANY SHOWBOAT). Heard of "Showboat."
  • 55A: Inferior pomade? (HAIR GREASE). Now, "Hair"! That one I can get into. But "Grease" is a movie to me. One I saw nine times in the theater when it first came out. You'd think I had no parental supervision.
  • 76A: Like sturdy chairs? (FANNY PROOF). Haven't heard of either of these.
  • 95A: Standing ovation? (TITANIC APPLAUSE). Okay.
  • 111A: Queen Henrietta's personal account of Cromwell's treachery? (OLIVER THE KING AND I). Ooh! Know both of these!
  • 16D: Jazz lovers on the Mississippi? (BIG RIVER CATS). "Cats," yes.
  • 61D: Detective usin' taps? (DANCIN' SLEUTH). Um ... let me think ... nope.
Crosswordese 101: ESSEN is a popular place in CrossWorld and you can see why. Two E's, two S's, and an N—why, that's crossword gold! Today ESSEN is clued as 57D: City on the Ruhr, which is a super common way of cluing it. Also, if the clue makes you think it's looking for a city and there's anything German-sounding included (Dortmund, Krupp Works, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf—anything like that) and it's five letters, chances are you're looking at ESSEN.

There are a ton of what I think of as "bonus" answers in today's puzzle. That is, non-theme answers that are related to the theme:
  • 66A: At the theater, perhaps (ON A DATE). Could just as easily have been clued as "At the movies" or "Out to dinner," so I'm calling this one intentional.
  • 118A: Milk a scene (EMOTE).
  • 1D: Curtain call response (BOW).
  • 8D: Ticket sellers: Abbr. (AGTS).
  • 18D: Tony-winning Manhattan restaurateur (SARDI).
  • 25D: Lerner's partner (LOEWE). Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. I would say they're best known for their work in "My Fair Lady."
  • 35D: Arrive en masse (STREAM IN). This is a stretch, I know, but when I think of the phrase STREAM IN, I actually do picture a crowd streaming back into a theater after intermission.
  • 40D: One-__: uninterrupted play (ACTER). This one's a little ouchie for me. Any theater people out there who can attest to its common use?
  • 115D: Gershwin of Broadway (IRA).

Stuff I Did Not Know:
  • 16A: __-Rhin: Strasbourg's department (BAS).
  • 19A: Algerian seaport (ORAN). I'm sure I've seen this before in puzzles, but I sure couldn't recall it.
  • 28A: "The Virginian" author Wister (OWEN).
  • 35A: Dish sometimes served with wasabi (SASHIMI). Not a fan of any kind of seafood.
  • 43A: Pulitzer poet Marianne (MOORE). She won the Pulitzer for her 1951 Collected Poems. And she threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium in 1968. Cool.
  • 6D: Ghostwriters' noms de plume, say (ALLONYMS). Never heard of this awesome word.
  • 14D: Tuscan hill town (SIENA).
  • 17D: Relevant, in law (AD REM). Not previously in my store of Latin phrases. But I did get [60D: Ab INITIO: from the beginning].
  • 91D: Largest of the British Virgin Islands (TORTOLA). With many of the crosses in place, I entered tortuga, which is Spanish for tortoise. I even thought that was the name of the the terrapin statute on the University of Maryland campus, but that's Testudo.
  • 5A: Fundamental (BASAL). Raise your hand if you had basic at first.
  • 26A: Boxer's warning (GRR). I know you were all thinking of "boxer" as a dog after yesterday's discussion!
  • 41A: Last Hebrew letter (TAV). And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where I 'splain to you how much reading crossword blogs will improve your solving skills. The only reason I knew TAV is because it was in another puzzle recently. I still might not have gotten it though, because it was clued differently. But someone mentioned in the comments that it was the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And I remembered it. And the moral of the story is: Read your crossword blogs! And don't forget the comments!
  • 42A: No longer an item (APART). I had split at first.
  • 49A: Rewards for playing well (ESPYS). These are sports awards presented annually by ESPN.
  • 69A: 20-20 observation? (IT'S A TIE). This doesn't have to do with eyesight. It's an observation someone would make if the score was 20–20.
  • 86A: Dots on la carte (ILES). I kept think la carte meant menu, but it's French for map. And islands appear as dots on a map? Not sure I'm buying it.
  • 92A: "Nature's soft nurse," to Shakespeare (SLEEP). Ain't that the truth. But then there's that pesky ALARM (63A: Frequent morning surprise).
  • 93A: Conductor's aid (SCORE). I had baton at first.
  • 110A: VW predecessors? (STU). S, T, and U are the letters that precede V and W in the alphabet.
  • 119A: Row in a bowl (TIER). In this case, bowl means "4b. a bowl-shaped structure; especially: an athletic stadium." (Merriam-Webster Online)
  • 3D: 1978 Village People hit ("MACHO MAN"). Me: "Okay, there was 'YMCA,' ... then there was 'In the Navy,' ... and there was one more. What the heck was it?"
  • 7D: Like a big loser? (SLIM). As in someone losing a lot of weight.
  • 13D: Angus's topper (TAM). Angus is a county in Scotland. And in Scotland, they wear a type of hat called a tam.
  • 15D: Che, really (ERNESTO). I did not know that Che Guevara's real name was Ernesto.
  • 39D: Georgetown player (HOYA).
  • 74D: Wouldn't hurt __ (A FLEA). I always thought it was "wouldn't hurt a fly." Maybe it can be either? Flea gets about 5,000 Google hits and fly gets 61,000.
  • 93D: Subject for Eric Partridge (SLANG). He wrote many books about the English language, and several specifically about slang.
  • 99D: Elbows, maybe (PASTA). Like elbow macaroni.
Everything Else — 1A: The Tide (BAMA); 10A: Fly to fear (TSE-TSE); 20A: "Ooh, send me!" (I'LL GO); 21A: Blowhard's output (HOT AIR); 22A: Peak overlooking Knossos (IDA); 27A: Baker Street transports (HANSOMS); 29A: Closed the gap on (NEARED); 31A: HBO alternative (SHO); 33A: Slip into (DON); 34A: Off! ingredient (DEET); 44A: Crosby and Como (CROONERS); 48A: Prong (TINE); 50A: Repeatedly (OFTEN); 52A: Little bit (DROP); 53A: Des Moines hrs. (CST); 58A: __ anglais: English horn (COR); 59A: Cocktails with triple sec (SIDECARS); 64A: Slithering (SNAKY); 67A: Diamond surface (FACET); 71A: Gold digger (MINER); 72A: Country singer Haggard (MERLE); 74A: Busch partner (ANHEUSER); 75A: "Yadda yadda yadda": Abbr. (ETC.); 80A: Grasshopper's antithesis, in a fable (ANT); 81A: Reformer Jacob (RIIS); 83A: Drones, e.g. (MALES); 84A: Result of an egg-toss miss (SPLAT); 90A: Clementi work (SONATINA); 94A: __-pitch softball (SLO); 99A: Little Dipper star (POLARIS); 102A: Charles II's royal architect (WREN); 103A: Golden age, e.g. (ERA); 104A: H.S. dropout's goal (GED); 105A: '40s-'50s Marshall Islands trials (A-TESTS); 106A: Pricey (DEAR); 107A: Domed hall (ROTUNDA); 116A: Peewee (TOT); 117A: Hoity-toity (LA-DI-DA); 120A: Lenten symbol (ASH); 121A: Be a big brother to (ASSIST); 122A: Rib shots (POKES); 123A: On the main (ASEA); 2D: D-backs, on scoreboards (ARI); 4D: "My Way" songwriter (ANKA); 5D: Competes to buy (BIDS ON); 9D: Film studio site (LOT); 10D: Home shopping network? (THE WEB); 11D: Site of a 1976 anti-apartheid uprising (SOWETO); 12D: School since 1440 (ETON); 24D: Finish by (END AT); 30D: "Can you give me __?" (A HAND); 31D: Satchmo's singing style (SCAT); 32D: Southwestern pottery maker (HOPI); 34D: Back: Pref. (DORSI); 37D: Go ahead of (PRECEDE); 38D: Former frosh (SOPHS); 45D: Switch positions (ONS); 46D: Raw recruit (ROOKIE); 47D: Lighter on one's feet (SPRYER); 49D: "L'__, c'est moi": Louis XIV (ÉTAT); 50D: Eye blatantly (OGLE); 51D: Pledging site (FRAT); 54D: Accessory for an old-time flying ace (SCARF); 56D: Track contestant (RACER); 59D: Suzanne of "Step By Step" (SOMERS); 62D: Money-saving carpeting choices (REMNANTS); 65D: Big name in beachwear (NAUTICA); 67D: Actress Soleil Moon __ (FRYE); 68D: Yodeler's range (ALPS); 70D: At __: nevertheless (THAT); 73D: Zhou of China (ENLAI); 77D: Bordeaux buddy (AMI); 78D: "Hold Me" Grammy winner (OSLIN); 79D: Cartel acronym (OPEC); 82D: Casa areas (SALAS); 85D: Desire (APPETITE); 87D: Four-time Olympic diving gold medalist (LOUGANIS); 88D: Gaelic tongue (ERSE); 89D: Tourney ranking (SEED); 92D: Häaut;gar's dog (SNERT); 96D: Suit fabrics (TWEEDS); 97D: Landfall for Noah (ARARAT); 98D: Lops and tops (PRUNES); 100D: Four Holy Roman emperors (OTTOS); 101D: __ Malvinas: the Falklands (ISLAS); 106D: Half of MXIV (DVII); 107D: San __, Italy (REMO); 108D: "All right, already!" (OK OK); 109D: Base material? (DATA); 112D: Security guard requests, briefly (IDS); 113D: In the know (HEP); 114D: Mark to improve (DEE).


Anonymous said...

We (30 or so of my crossword puzzle sunday solvers) do not like the change from Chicago Tribune to L.A. Times. The Times is too off base and unfriendly. The solver should look forward to the puzzle as we have for ages, and now, WE DON'T EVEN BUY THE PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE, SUNDAY!! It's no longer fun.

Glowe said...

If ever there was a friendly place, I think BIG RIVER CATS and DANCING SLEUTHS would perform to TITANIC APPLAUSE.

I would decline the much too friendly offer of OLIVER THE KIND AND I because there's one too many and they're of the wrong gender.

Perhaps you're thinking 'no fun' and 'unfriendly' when it's really just 'unfamiliar'?

Joon said...

marianne MOORE is perhaps most famous for her poem poetry, which begins: "i, too, dislike it." how awesome is that?

Crockett1947 said...

Of course I had BASIC. I put my hand up.

Nice write up, PG.

Have an outrageous Sunday!

hazel said...

@Joon - pretty awesome - as is the rest of the poem. Thks for the link.

Greene said...

Wow, you would think I'd have sailed right through this one, what with all the theatre related clues. But no, I was actually fairly slow to pick up on all the shows because I thought the puzzle title (Double Plays) was going to have a sports-related theme, or maybe even a double-letter theme of some sort. Did not realize this was a show-title-puzzle until I got the Hair-Grease combination. Then I got fouled up because initially all of the theme answers I had were musicals. Unfortunately, Mr. Sessa decided to throw in a few straight plays, Proof and Sleuth, which I was slow to pick up on, of course, because I was looking for musical titles.

Another problem I had was that since I have seen all of these plays (yes, some in revival, I'm not THAT old), the titles are all extremely evocative to me. They make me think of some element of the plot, or an especially memorable performer, or the artwork on the window card (show poster). To see these titles shoved together in some kind of contextless juxtaposition to create a new "wacky" phrase did little to bring a smile to my face. It just seemed rather arbitrary.

OK, I did like WICKED LITTLE WOMEN, but FANNY-PROOF or DANCIN' SLEUTH or OLIVER, THE KING AND I? Is this supposed to be clever? I was not amused. I could understand if the resulting phrase was a play on words or was somehow "in the language," but that does not appear to be the case here. Just random shows stuck together in the grid.

Of the shows listed, two are currently playing on Broadway. Wicked continues to do sell-out business at that barn of a house, the Gershwin Theatre, after SIX years! They don't offer SRO tickets, but do offer a day-of-performance lottery drawing for cut-rate front-row seats. At $25 bucks a pop, it's one of the best deals on Broadway. And Hair is back on the boards (in its 3rd Broadway return) in a new production which originally played outdoors in Central Park last summer, but is now doing socko business at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. The plot doesn't make any more sense to me know than it did in 1968, but the score is wonderful and makes this little show a welcome treat on the street. You'll be able to catch an excerpt from Hair on the Tony broadcast 6/7/09 on CBS. The show is heavily favored to win the award for Best Musical Revival.

And finally, @PG: One-ACTER is indeed valid theatricalese for a one-act play.

Lemonade714 said...


I am surprised at your comment on OWEN WISTER, as Rex recently, during a discussion of JOEL MCCREA appearing in the 1946 movie version, made reference to this being a crossword staple. I guess 101 has different volumes.

Mike said...

Very cute puzzle. Having a background in theater helped a ton. I especially liked the clue for PASTA, but the whole thing went very smoothly, without too much obscure stuff. Often Sundays, due to their size, seem very up and down in terms of their difficulty level, but this one seemed pretty consistent.

Anon@6:41, could you please explain what you mean by off base and/or unfriendly? As a longtime crossword solver (I do about four to six crosswords from around the country every day), I find the LAT to be the most accessible of any daily crossword puzzle, NYT included, due to its quality level and general focus on pop culture rather than academia. I've introduced a good number of people, including most of my workmates, to crosswords through the LAT puzzle, and they've all become hooked on crosswords as a result. You would be the first person (people?) I would be aware of that consider the LAT "unfriendly." I'm not trying to be critical or judgmental here; I'm legitimately curious as to why you feel the way you do.

mac said...

@PuzzleGirl: I followed your missteps step by step.....

@Greene: I had the same initial thought, that it had to be about sports. I recognized most of the plays/musicals, so in the end it was worked for me, but there was something disjointed about this puzzle. I think I generally don't like Sunday puzzles. I would rather do 4 regular Fri/Sat ones than 2 Sundays.

Greene said...

@Mac: I agree with you. Friday is definitely my favorite day of the week. Challenging, but doable...and not so large!

mac said...

@Joon: thank you for supplying that link. I enjoyed reading it.

melanie said...

Alright, I'm confused. The crossword we received in our Sunday LA Times this week was by Merl Reagle, not Edward Sessa. Clearly I'm missing something! Does the LA Times publish a different puzzle online than it prints in the paper? What's the story?


Orange said...

Melanie, the Sessa puzzle is the one that's syndicated nationwide...but doesn't appear in the L.A. Times newspaper. It does appear on the L.A. Times' website, however.

The Merl Reagle puzzle is syndicated by Merl himself, so it's not the L.A. Times' own puzzle. It appears in other papers too, and I blog about it at my multi-puzzle blog, Diary of a Crossword Fiend. Wasn't yesterday's Merl puzzle great?

melanie said...

Thank you so much for clearing that up! I'd like the whole business to be a little more confusing, though, don't you?

I love doing the crossword, but hate doing it in any format other than pen-on-newspaper. My personal preference - it just isn't as relaxing to me any other way. So we subscribe to the Sunday LA Times primarily for the crossword, some coupons, and, well, the now nearly-deceased op-ed section.

But, yeah - Merl's puzzles are great! Such a refreshing change from Bursztyn! I hope they keep the change - or at least mix it up a bit more - for some time.

Thanks again.