THURSDAY, May 28, 2009 — Tom Heilman

Theme: "Do As I Say ..." — Theme answers are phrases that begin with the words to a common accusation aimed at a hypocrite.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Hack's output (POTBOILER).
  • 21A: *Canceling (CALLING OFF).
  • 26A: *Idealized family (THE JONESES).
  • 48A: *Pitched percussion instrument (KETTLE DRUM).
  • 56A: *Sorcery (BLACK MAGIC). Raise your hand if your first thought was "dark arts."
  • 62A: Insincere type suggested by the starts of the answers to starred clues (HYPOCRITE).
Crosswordese 101: A TO
, as in "from A to Z." The first time I saw this in a puzzle I was completely baffled. Me: "Atoz? What the heck is atoz?" But now you've seen it — you've successfully negotiated this rite of passage and you never have to be baffled again.

This was a Hot Hot puzzle for me today. I really liked it. Even before I caught onto the theme, I thought THE JONESES was an awesome entry I've never seen before. Throw in MOOLAH (2D: Dough), POTSIE (3D: "Happy Days" friend of Richie and Ralph), and CHICANO (5D: Mexican-American), and you've got yourself a sparkly crossword puzzle! BANJOS?? RANSACKS?? Stop! You're killing me with the great words already! And OMG. Tie it all together with "Pot calling the kettle black." Who doesn't love that phrase? Love it! The whole puzzle — just love it!

The only trouble spot for me was 1D: "Spanish Flea" trumpeter, Herb ALPERT. I was so sure it was Al Hirt. You can see where that would cause some confusion. I knew the lion was ELSA and not Ilsa, and even though I didn't really know POTBOILER, it sounded a lot better than hotboiler. So it slowed me down, but didn't defeat me.

  • 1A: Item of concern in a sound check (AMP). Wanted this to be sibilance, even though that's not exactly an item.
  • 8A: Part of a diploma accolade (MAGNA). Could have been summa — had to check the crosses.
  • 39A: Groan inducer (PUN). Ain't that the truth?
  • 42A: Org. concerned with climate change (EPA). The Environmental Protection Agency. We talked about CrossWorld's important government agencies in a previous Crosswordese 101 lesson.
  • 66A: Fascist leader? (NEO-). The question mark indicates there's something tricky about this clue. In this case, we're looking for a prefix that can go before (i.e., lead) the word fascist.
  • 15D: Schubert's "The __ King" (ERL). A poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, used by Franz Schubert as text in a composition for voice and piano. Remember it — you'll see it again!
  • 39D: Season opener? (PRE-). Again, looking for a prefix (i.e., opener) for the word season.
  • 41D: Loving refusal (NO, DEAR). In the PuzzleHouse this is more of a sarcastic refusal.
  • 44D: Actor Tamiroff (AKIM). He was in the original "Ocean's Eleven."
  • 49D: Shooter's aid (TRIPOD). In this case, we're talking about a camera. In 54D: Shooter's sport (SKEET), we're talking about a gun.
  • 59D: Pita sandwich (GYRO). I once had an argument with a friend about how to pronounce this word. When I said "gee-ro," she actually sort of scoffed and corrected me by saying "ji-ro." I reminded her that the only place she'd ever lived was Iowa. Not that there's anything wrong with that! You all know I love Iowa and would move back there in a minute if I could. I'm just saying there's relatively little opportunity there to be exposed to much ... diversity.
  • 63D: These, in Troyes (CES). Speaking of diversity: French!
Everything Else — 4A: Height: Pref. (ACRO); 13A: John, to Ringo (LOO); 14A: "So __!" (THERE); 16A: Soothing balms (ALOES); 19A: TNT component? (NITRO); 20A: Film feline (ELSA); 23A: Umbrella alternative (RAIN HAT); 25A: Summer blowers (FANS); 29A: Baseball feature (SEAM); 32A: Lennon's love (ONO); 33A: Hammer, for one (TOOL); 35A: Slip up (ERR); 36A: Analyze in English class (PARSE); 40A: Where alpaca roam (ANDES); 43A: "Dang!" (DARN); 45A: U.S. document issuer (GPO); 46A: Fellow (GENT); 53A: Enthusiastic okay, in Seville (Sí Sí); 55A: The first requirement (RULE ONE); 60A: Arguing (AT IT); 61A: "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" author (LOCKE); 64A: Sprain site (ANKLE); 65A: Cropped up (AROSE); 67A: Surrounded (BESET); 68A: Lyrical tributes (ODES); 69A: Syr. neighbor (ISR.); 6D: Empathize (RELATE); 7D: Sports commentator Hershiser (OREL); 8D: Heavenly fare (MANNA); 9D: Associates (with) (ALIGNS); 10D: Deteriorate (GO TO SEED); 11D: Ball used for dorm hoops (NERF); 12D: Beginning (AS OF); 18D: Instruments for Earl Scruggs (BANJOS); 22D: "Granting that ..." (IF SO); 24D: Perfected (HONED); 27D: Slow the growth of (STUNT); 28D: Very long interval (EON); 30D: Live and breathe (ARE); 31D: Woolf's "__ Dalloway" (MRS.); 34D: Collar extension (LAPEL); 36D: Tent anchor (PEG); 37D: Thug (APE); 38D: Searches thoroughly (RANSACKS); 45D: Important energy source for the brain (GLUCOSE); 47D: Amuse (TICKLE); 50D: Spiral pasta (ROTINI); 51D: Merges (UNITES); 52D: Earth threat in some sci-fi films (METEOR); 56D: Tell (BLAB); 57D: Solitary (LONE); 58D: Detective's cry (AHA!).


janie said...

*loved* this one as well, with its great AHA. and count me as another victim of the ALHIRT/ALPERT trap. also entered LATINO before changing it to CHICANO; and considered LAUDE where MAGNA lives -- tho with the smart theme and overlapping theme fill, this one is definitely a SUMMA!


imsdave said...

Super write-up PG. I'm with you 100% on this one. Got the theme off of POT/CALLING and plopped KETTLECORN (oops) and BLACKMAGIC into the grid with no crosses and without looking at the clues. I was hoping that BLACKMAGIC would be clued as: Arlen classic "That Old _______" to make Greene happy.

Nice puzzle Mr. Heilman.


With a name like John, it's refreshing to see the word LOO being used. But then, my sister's name is Loo... oh well. The origin of the British term loo is apparently unknown. The etymology is obscure according to the OED, but it is thought that it comes from the word Waterloo. The first use of the word loo is seen in James Joyce's Ulysses-- "O yes, mon loup. How much cost? Waterloo. Watercloset". If you do a Wikipedia on this, you'll get much more than you ever want to know about toilets.
Does anyone know why KETTLEDRUM is associated with HYPOCRITE?
I found that GOTOWEED makes more sense for deteriorate than GOTOSEED.
41D prompted me to use NODEAL instead of the more polite NODEAR.
All in all, I thought this was a very well contructed puzzle.

Carol said...

I also fell into Al Hirt/Alpert. Liked the puzzle and am happy to report no googles for the day. "Go to seed" is a term I'm familiar with - might be my age. I'm trying hard NOT to go to seed!

gjelizabeth said...

Lovely puzzle! Favorite clue was "John, to Ringo".
@Johnsneverhome: When annuals in a garden start to fade at the end of summer the flowers they've been producing move on to the next stage of their life cycle, seed production. Most plants look much better (tidier and more colorful) in the flower than in the seed stage. Therefore, "going to seed" with its suggestions of messiness and the dying of autumn is an apt metaphor for decay.

Rex Parker said...

Fell into AL HIRT and never got out. Wicked that that error produces the ILSA / ELSA error as well.

Also had MIC / CHACHI for a few seconds (instead of AMP / POTSIE)


Gary Lowe said...

I have to get out more. Never heard of a Gyro in the food sense, yet there it is twice in one day (or one syndicated day and one real-time day). At least I didn't have to goole LYRO in this puzzle - got it right off ...

*David* said...

ALHIRT/ALPERT me too, last correction I made and I wanted LATINO for CHICANO even though it didn't fit. CHICANO is so 1980's. The ERL King looked so wrong but fit and that was where the problem corner lay.

Loved seeing the NO DEAR whose counterpart is HONEY DO or is that honeydew?

WSP said...

In the Greek delis where I live (Detroit), "gyro" is pronounced like "hero" with a rough-breathing sound on the "h".

humorlesstwit said...

Worse than all of you, I fell into the AL HERT trap, not to be saved by ELSA.
My Greek friends pronounce GYRO as hero. I sound like a pretentious ass when I request a hero instead of a ji-ro.
The phrase go to seed also is relevent in making hay. When grass finally forms seeds, the quality of the hay produced is greatly reduced. The nutrients created and stored by the grass get all tied up in the seeds, which tend not to make it to the baled hay. Further, the cell walls thicken and the leafy parts/stems become inedigestable to anything but ruminants, so you can't charge a premium as horse hay. So, when the grass has gone to seed it is well past its prime. You all really needed to know that, right?

Joon said...

AL HIRT strikes again. i didn't find the mistake until after the puzzle was finished and i tried to work out the theme.

humorlesstwit said...

Oh, and snobbishness also held me back today. I recalled Ulrich's "The Erl King"/"The Elf King" discussion from Rex's blog some time ago, so I figured that being the LA Times rather than the NY Times, they would go for ELF rather than ERL.

obertb said...


Bill Bryson on Iowans:

"They are a tad slow, certainly--when you tell an Iowan a joke, you can see a kind of race going on between his brain and his expression--but it's not because they're incapable of highspeed mental activity, it's only that there's not much call for it. Their wits are dulled by simple, wholesome faith in God and the soil and their fellow man."

You could say pretty much the same thing about my fellow Nebraskans.

John said...

Knew ALPERT so the lioness was no trouble. I had the most trouble with the center KETTLEDRUM section. A VERY VERY enjoyable solving experience!

Lisa said...

I started the puzzle on a bad foot with mic instead of amp. I finally remembered Herb Alpert and that solved that problem. I have an issue with some of the plurals in the puzzle; aloes, really? and banjos felt forced but all in all an enjoyable puzzle.

Mike said...

The other Mike strikes on this blog too! :) Just for the record, I live in LA/NY, he seems to live in Detroit.

Really fun puzzle today, with a perfect hidden theme. And as PG said, great fill all around today, with the only exception being RULE ONE, which strikes me as awkward/kind of made up. Also, looking the puzzle over, RAIN HAT is a bit strange too. But the rest of it is terrific, especially THE JONESES, which was surprising in how easily I got it.

In terms of the musical clues in this puzzle, I also loved the John to Ringo clue, and I got Herb Alpert right away for a bizarre reason: in my senior year of high school, he basically bought my school! So now the high school, which is part of a bigger school called New Roads, has a sign that reads New Roads: The Herb Alpert Campus.

chefbea said...

Easy puzzle except for Al Hirt. Figured Hot boiler was right. Never got the theme til I came here.

I say Ji-ro but never make them. Make lots of wraps though.

Orange said...

We pronounce GYRO with a Y sound at the beginning. This dictionary gives ji-ro, je-ro, and ye-ro as pronunciations. I'm not sure where the he-ro version arose.

Al Hirt! Yes. I glossed right over [Film feline], picturing Ingrid Bergman's ILSA even though she's, uh, human. And I kept looking at HOTBOILER, which was so unfamiliar, but ILSA was working for me despite her nonfelinity so I was loath to change to POTBOILER. Insane!

eileen said...

Thanks to gjelizabeth and humorlesstwit for the GO TO SEED explanations.
Well, I was able to fill in ALPERT as my mom was a huge fan of him and the Tijuana Brass. Does anyone remember that great album cover with the girl covered with whipped cream? Pretty racy for the time!

hazel said...

Excellent puzzle and write-up. Clever all around.

Many years ago a really really surly Greek waiter corrected me with the y. Year-o. I only needed to be told once - at least at that place.

Anonymous said...

Orange knows, of course, as a Chicagoan: "that would be yee - roes, my friends... and would you like any fries widdat? somethin to drink?"

I got killed the last couple of days, but this one came to me and I had fun along the way. Great puzzle.

- - Robert

Anonymous said...

wilco - pot kettle black


mac said...

Nice puzzle and nice write-up PG!
Thank you for the pronunciation lesson, I did not know. I had one once, on a NY street corner, and it was delicious with this creamy salad on top.... Of course NYSon pronounced it just right with that guttural y sound.

I filled in laude and summa before magna, but I guess I lucked out in the pot boiler section. I had no idea about the theme, and actually had to read PG's explanation very carefully to understand! Doh.

@humorlesstwit: thanks for the grass story; never knew and my brother-in-law is in the grass seed business in Oregon.

@Mikes: why not meet up in Brooklyn next February?

Carol said...

Eileen - I hate to admit it as it shows my age, but I have a copy of Herb Alpert's album with the girl covered in whipped cream!

Crockett1947 said...

@carol Me too!

Greene said...

Not much too add to all the great comments above. I can only say: I LOVED THIS PUZZLE! Clever theme and awesome fill. Great fun...and easy too. What's not to like?

I did not fall into the Al Hirt trap for the simple reason that his name never crossed my mind. I just wrote in ALPERT without really considering any other answer and it worked out beautifully. Wish I could brag about some kind of great puzzling skills, but it was just dumb luck (with the emphasis on dumb).

@PG: Your write-ups just keep getting better and better. I'd swear you'd been blogging crosswords all your life. You're getting into that Rex and Orange zone where you make the whole business appear completely effortless.

Rex Parker said...


As you know, I had PG fill in for me many times @ the RP blog even before this LA puzzle blog started, and she remains the only person (besides myself) with complete administrative control over the RP blog. There's a reason for that. She's smart, funny, trustworthy, professional. I'm lucky to have her to rely on. Glad you recognize her talent.

And thanks for saying I have a zone.


Lemonade714 said...

It is intersting to have days where everything just pops out as you do the puzzle, and then to see great solvers like RP have difficulty with what seemed so obvious, ALPERT, POTBOILER etc. I guess we sloggers have our days too.

Orange said...

I disagree. I don't think PuzzleGirl's write-ups have been getting better—I think they've been spot on since the get-go. But thanks for crediting us all with making it look effortless, Greene!

mac said...

@Rex, Orange and PuzzleGirl: Greene is right. You three have created a great spot, not just for newbees but also for us, regulars. I think we like the tone, and we are still learning a lot.

@Orange: how is your son?

Orange said...

@mac, astonishingly, he's still running a fever, eight days in, though right now (I just checked since you asked) his temp has finally dipped into the 99s. Hooray! You should have asked days ago so he could have been cured sooner.

Lemonade714 said...

Orange, if that is all it takes, maybe we can each contribute a few tenths of a degree and he will be back at the magic 98.6. I ran a fever of 100.4 for a year once, but that is another story/ so anyway, perhaps normal by morning.

Denise said...

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass -- "Whipped Cream and Other Delights." One of the first albums I ever owned. Thanks for the memories.

Orange said...

@Lemonade, my husband and I want to hear your fever story! —Orange(ade)

Anonymous said...

Very enjoyable puzzle even with Al Hirt in place of Herb Alpert. I share memories of TJB albums like Whipped Cream and other delights.

I think I once read somewhere (on a puzzle blog?) that the British use of "loo" to refer to a WC comes from an anglicization of a French phrase "gardez l'eau or Garde de l'eau! No less a source than Wikipedia suggests this as well. The French would shout this warning to pedestrians before emptying a chamber pot from a second story window.

Crockett1947 said...

@anonymous @9:56 Don't you just love the French? YEECH!!!

mac said...

@Orange: was just wondering if the fever is really broken.
We got some good news about or son yesterday: he's healing well and may walk without crutches after a hip operation. Also made a great difference in his mental state! Now he has to find a job....

Charles Bogle said...

Better late than never. A totally wonderful puzzle and great analysis by @puzzlegirl

I actually finished it-correctly-before coming here. Loved the theme and picked up on it once seeing POT and CALLING

Challenging but fair-no strange, obtuse answers; had to get a lot by crossing the true way

Very good for my development. Won't yet say how long it took me, but let's just say I did have to "put it down" a few times and "come back.". Entirely worth it!

Orange said...

@mac, glad to hear your son's on the mend. Mine, alas, is back to a temp of 100.5 this morning. Aargh! That's day 10.