WEDNESDAY, May 13, 2009—Laura Sternberg

THEME: "Pepper Pot"— Five phrases begin with words that can precede PEPPER in all its splendor

Get a load of this theme. Three 15-letter answers and a pair of 9's, plus a 6-letter answer that unifies it all? That adds up to 69 squares of thematic material, which is a lot to squeeze into a puzzle. The theme entries are lively and the "___ PEPPER" phrases they contribute to also sparkle. Monday to Wednesday themes often don't grab me, but I liked this one's spiciness.

Crosswordese 101: You don't hear much about 30A: Western treaty gp. (OAS) in the news these days. What is it? An organization of 35 countries in North and South America. I know next to nothing about the OAS, other than that it is a "Western treaty gp." or a "W. Hemisphere alliance." NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is better known. So is OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. A couple bygone multinational coalitions still appear in the crossword on occasion: the European Economic Community, or EEC, and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, or SEATO.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Beetle Bailey's boss (SERGEANT SNORKEL). Sgt. Snorkel's dog OTTO is a much more common visitor to the crossword grid. The Beatles released Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band back in the day.
  • 25A: Quasimodo's milieu (BELL TOWER)."Sanctuary!" If you offer me bell peppers, I will request sanctuary somewhere where you cannot reach me.
  • 39A: Swiss Miss, e.g. (HOT CHOCOLATE MIX). Marshmallows in mine, please. Hot peppers? They have their place, but it's not in hot chocolate. Though Mexican hot chocolate has a kick to it.
  • 47A: Physician of 1930s-'40s films (DR. KILDARE). Was Dr. Kildare also a '60s TV show? Yes. "Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too?" Me, I don't care for Dr. Pepper.
  • 60A: German dessert, American-style (BLACK FOREST CAKE). Chocolate + cherries = winning combo. Hold the black pepper.
  • 69A: Word that can follow the first word of 17-, 25-, 39-, 47-, or 60-Across (PEPPER).

An olio of answers and clues:
  • 15A: Place serving links (IHOP). My neighborhood IHOP restaurant has got to be one of the land's finest IHOPs. Families with kids, old folks, cabbies, hipsters, and urbanites of all kinds flock there and enjoy the pancakes.
  • 44A: Horror film creature (ZOMBIE). I do not want ZOMBIEs in my neighborhood, but in my crossword? They are always welcome.
  • 68A: Will of "The Waltons" (GEER). He played Grandpa Walton. If it helps you to remember his name, think of it as GEEZER minus a couple letters.
  • 2D: Juanita's January (ENERO). The Spanish first name is your cue that the answer will be in Spanish.
  • 3D: Ex-NFL coach Hank (STRAM). He should've opened up a chain of stores that sell palindromes: Stram Marts.
  • 5D: Like Chicago-style pizza (DEEP DISH). Every Chicagoan I know prefers thin crust pizza.
  • 37D: 502, to the Romans (DII). Remember your Roman numerals? I = i, V = 5, X = 10, L = 50, C = 100, D = 500, and M = 1,000.
  • 45D: Brew container (ALE KEG). I swear I just saw this answer in another puzzle a few days ago. It could be growing on me...or that could be the New Glarus brewery Spotted Cow Ale talking.
  • 49D and 53D: Rogue pulls double duty. It's both a KNAVE and a SCAMP. All three of these 5-letter words are great, aren't they? I want you all to call someone a rogue, knave, or scamp today.
Everything Else — 1A: Patches, as a lawn (RESODS); 7A: Grass houses (HUTS); 11A: Cool __ cucumber (AS A); 14A: Appetizer follower (ENTREE); 16A: Rocker Vicious (SID); 20A: Fund for later yrs. (IRA); 21A: Puritanical (PRIM); 22A: Superman player (REEVE); 23A: Migrant (NOMAD); 28A: Kissers (LIPS); 31A: Remove the chaff (THRESH); 34A: American __, North Dakota state tree (ELM); 35A: "Yay me!" (TA-DA); 42A: Times to call, in ads (EVES); 43A: __ sequitur (NON); 45A: Nuclear agency estab. under Truman (AEC); 46A: Sign of traffic impatience (BEEP); 52A: Puccini heroine (TOSCA); 56A: Postage meter unit (OUNCE); 57A: Guns & __ magazine (AMMO); 59A: Fish oil source (COD); 64A: Bk. before Numbers (LEV); 65A: Shaw's homeland (EIRE); 66A: Dorm cohort (ROOMIE); 67A: "... __ the set of sun": "Macbeth" (ERE); 1D: Amber, e.g. (RESIN); 4D: URL ending (ORG); 6D: Scorch (SEAR); 7D: "I'll take a card" (HIT ME); 8D: Sounds of uncertainty (UHS); 9D: Weighty weight (TON); 10D: Wears proudly (SPORTS); 11D: Obliquely (ASKEW); 12D: Utensil with a mesh bottom (SIEVE); 13D: Freud contemporary (ADLER); 18D: Penpoints (NIBS); 19D: Vintage wheels (REO); 24D: Smart fellows? (ALECS); 26D: Recline lazily (LOLL); 27D: Birthday preparation class? (LAMAZE); 29D: Used one's cell (PHONED); 31D: With 38-Down, employment termination (THE); 32D: Hwy. lane type (HOV); 33D: Rd. or st. (RTE); 34D: Long time (EON); 35D: Pace of a piece (TEMPO); 36D: UN delegate (AMB); 38D: See 31-Down (AXE); 40D: Caesar's TV sidekick (COCA); 41D: In direct confrontation (TOE-TO-TOE); 46D: "I've Gotta __": 1969 hit (BE ME); 47D: Paso __: two-step (DOBLE); 48D: Commander (RULER); 50D: Former RR watchdog (ICC); 51D: Not as common (RARER); 54D: News analyst Roberts (COKIE); 55D: "Doe, __...": song lyric (A DEER); 58D: Car sticker abbr. (MSRP); 61D: Old annoyed cry (FIE); 62D: Miner's objective (ORE); 63D: One on a beat (COP).


SethG said...

I generally liked this, but the area with the bygone agencies was a bit rough. AEC crossed COCA, whom I've never heard of. At least I remember the ICC, but had no idea it was a railroad thing.

Hey, you're drinking your Spotted Cow Ale out of a Surly glass! Drink Surly!

Rex Parker said...

Yes, I call bygone agency foul as well, and yet, overall, I say this puzzle is good. A little heavy on the crosswordese, but clever. Can't hate on a puzzle that's got the 15-ltr SERGEANT SNORKEL in it. Did you know the original "Beetle Bailey" strips were actually kind of funny. Check out the 1950s reprints that are just coming out now (from Checker, I think). Good stuff.

Rex Parker said...

Oh, and PS, infinite thanks for the David-Naughton-dances-with-Popeye Dr Pepper commercial. I know David Naughton from such films as "Midnight Madness" and ... that is all.

Joon said...

whoa! i missed the boat on this one. saw the three 15s, saw the PEPPER, and thought, "how nice." didn't even occur to me that BELL and DR were part of the theme, too. well done!

ALE KEG was in dan naddor's puzzle last friday.

i like rogue, knave, and scamp all right (knave is the best of the bunch), but they pale in comparison to VARLET.

seth, COCA is imogene COCA, comedy partner of sid caesar. it's old pop culture, but it's old pop culture that i've learned through crosswords.

Jeffrey said...

The puzzle was good. The unexpected appearance of Popeye was amazing.

Coming soon to a theatre near you: ZOMBIE ROOMIE

Brendan Emmett Quigley said...

Probably the nicest touch in this one was THE AXE with the symmetrical linking fill at 31- and 38-Down.

*David* said...

An easier then usual Wednesday for me. I filled in AEC without blinking an eye, it seems to get a lot of crossword play for a defunct agency.

I liked seeing SID (where's Nancy?) get his time in the sun. The LAMAZE clue was cute but the "Times to call in ads", EVES didn't really connect with me.

gjelizabeth said...

Fun all round. I discovered that I don't actually know how to spell SERGEANT and had to look it up. I thought this puzzle was themeless until I hit the very last clue in the very last corner. Nice!

Orange said...

I had a huge crush on David Naughton in his Dr. Pepper ad/Makin' It days, but I don't at all remember Popeye showing up in a Dr. Pepper commercial.

SethG, I don't know what Surly is. That's not actually my photo. I drink my Spotted Cow from the bottle or from whatever glass they use at Wisconsin's finer establishments.

Orange said...

gjelizabeth, I have to type SERGEANT very carefully. I still bear the scars of a painful spelling bee loss for which Sargent Shriver must bear the blame.

Karen said...

Crosscan, there's a webcomic called College Roomies from Hell; one of the roomies was recently turned into a zombie. I'd love to see a movie version.

Rex, you promised us meat in this puzzle. This puzzle has a lot of sugar but no protein. The NYT at least had a nice chicken dish.

Overall a nice easy puzzle with a clever theme.

jeff in chicago said...

Yes. Lots of good theme fill. Loved the THE AXE symmetry. Sgt. Snorkel is great fill. The double rogues were sweet. But I say FIE to RARER. And does anyone RESOD anything BUT a lawn? Overall, nice puzzle Laura.

@SethG: Find some COCA clips. She was one of the funniest women ever. (Coca Clips sounds like a breakfast cereal.)

@Orange: This Chicagoan also prefers thin crust.

Anonymous said...

aaaaaaa choooo !

- - Robert

mac said...

Fun little puzzle, no problems anywhere. This is the third time Imogene has shown up in a puzzle in the last few weeks. I should check out what she looks like.

New Rex would like this puzzle when IHOP showed up.

Had to laugh when "hit me" came up. Another anecdote: My husband was called into the office of his boss at a large company in Ohio many years ago, and after a few pleasantries a little piece of paper was slipped across the desk to him, on it the amount of his first raise. He took one look, slid it back across the desk and said: "Hit me again".

SethG said...

Orange, I know that you and Christy and I discussed Surly last year. And here's a picture of some dude in a Surly shirt.

Rex, I have Midnight Madness on DVD. It's on my dining room table right now.

Orange said...

Seth, since I'd never heard of Surly, that part went in one ear and out the other, blasting a cavern through my brain. All I know is that you know a guy at some brewery. I think.

I have no idea what Midnight Madness is. Reefer Madness meets Midnight Express?

Bob Kerfuffle said...

Sort of a housekeeping comment - I had a busy day ahead today, so I did the New York Times puzzle very early, actually had to wait for Rex's blog to come up on my system (hours after the time shown on the blog) before I could post a comment. Then my busy day got canceled. By lunch time I needed my usual crossword fix, so I picked up my local paper (The Record, formerly the Bergen Evening Record) and did the puzzle there - which turns out to be today's LA Times puzzle. (Just clicked on this site out of boredom!) Is this always true? I shall have to check it out.

Always thought the local paper's puzzle was much simpler than the NY Times's, but like gjelizabeth, I have a bit of a problem spelling Sergeant (and surgery!)

toothdoc said...

IHOP makes everything better. Since my IHOP has wi-fi I can do the puzzle at IHOP with PEPPERs in my omlette and HOT CHOCOLATE. Everytime I go I see a COP and/or some ROOMIES that definitely have seen Reefer Madness.

David Marlow said...

Every time, every time the "Quasimodo's milieu" clue comes up, I inevitably type in NOTRE DAME. Every time.

Rex/Orange: Wasn't Dave Naughton in An American Werewolf In London? Then wasn't he in a pretty good TV show with Pam Dawber (of Mork&MIndy fame) called My Sister Sam. He was funny on that.

Orange said...

Yep, that was him as the hairy werewolf. I was over my D.N. crush by 1981.

chefbea said...

Fun puzzle. Loved the peppers and I actually use to drink Dr. Pepper. Haven't had one in years.

I'm sure Rex enjoyed the IHOP.

Our farmer's market opened today and of course I bought something red. Used my utensil with the mesh bottom to drain them after I cleaned them.

chefwen said...

@mac - you have a very funny husband, yes, I LOL.

Chefbea, I think we would have more fun with these ingredients than the NYT ones.

chefbea said...

@chefwen Our meal from this puzzle would be Black forest cake and we could wash that down with, hot chocolate, Dr. Pepper, or a Zombie

Rex Parker said...

O yeah, I guess I did see "American Werewolf..." Never "My Sister Sam," though. No interest in seeing Mindy w/o Mork.