MONDAY, June 22, 2009 — Donna S. Levin

Theme: Tennis, Anyone? — Theme answers are familiar phrases each ending with a word that describes part of a tennis competition.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Grand Theft Auto, e.g. (VIDEO GAME).
  • 27A: Sterling afternoon serving pieces (SILVER TEA SET).
  • 44A: Ideal mate (PERFECT MATCH).
  • 55A: Annual English sports event that begins today, and a hint to this puzzle's theme (WIMBLEDON).
Crosswordese 101: Today we're going to talk about the crossword's favorite musical instrument, the OBOE. Today, it's clued as 16A: Double-reed woodwind, which includes two of the important things you need to know about the OBOE: it's got a double reed, and it's a woodwind. Other than that, it's helpful to know that an orchestra tunes to it, it's related to the bassoon and the clarinet, its sound is often described as "melancholy," and, in "Peter and the Wolf" the Duck's part is played by an OBOE.

Easy, breezy puzzle today. I hope it went well for all of you too. I know a lot of you are just starting out, or just getting serious about improving your solving skills. I really hope these Monday puzzles are coming together for you and are helping to build your confidence. That's what Mondays are all about! That said, if I hadn't known that Wimbledon started today, this puzzle probably would have taken me a bit longer. How did I know, you ask? Oh, I knew because Rainn Wilson tweeted about it this evening. Yes, I follow Dwight Schrute on Twitter. Also the American Idols. And I'm not ashamed of it! They're adorable!

There were a few Bible references in today's puzzle, which I tend to dislike, but these were easy enough.
  • 39A: Rachel's sister (LEAH). I actually knew this one from reading Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. In fact, I kinda wish 3D: HAND had been "Word after nurse or maid" (instead of milk). That would have tied together nicely for me.
  • 60A: 52-Down son (ABEL). If it's the Bible and it's a son and it's four letters, it's most likely Cain or ABEL. You just have to check the crosses.
  • 52D: Sixth-day creation (ADAM).
  • 10A: Drive in reverse, with "up" (BACK). Is there anybody besides the guys that drive big trucks on a regular basis that can back up calmly and smoothly? I suck at it.
  • 15A: State with assurance (AVER). Like Cain and Abel, this clue and four letters has to be either avow or AVER and you just have to check the crosses.
  • 14A: McCain beater (OBAMA). I don't particularly like the word beater in this clue.
  • 36A: Best poker pair (ACES). Yes, it's the best pair, but don't be fooled! It doesn't mean you will automatically win the hand! And man it sucks to have pocket aces and then lose the hand. Not that that's ever happened to me.
  • 40A: Golfing standard (PAR). The U.S. Open typically ends on Father's Day, but will continue into Monday this year because of the rain delay during one of the early rounds.
  • 62A: Bucky Beaver's toothpaste (IPANA). Some of us are old enough to remember this brand of toothpaste. Others of us learned it from crosswords.
  • 5D: Final race segment (LAST LEG). I admit, I entered LAST LEG confidently and then stopped for a split second and wondered if it might turn out to be last lap.
  • 6D: Frolic (CAVORT). CAVORT is a great word. It sounds like a noise a robot would make when its wires are crossed. For some reason, it also reminds me of this awesome blooper clip. (Oh, and I have a standing deal that if you can watch this clip all the way through without laughing, I will send you $10.)

  • 11D: Addis __ (ABABA). It's the capital of Ethiopia.
  • 41D: Tennis great Ivan (LENDL). Bonus non-theme theme answer!
  • 44D: Zuni or Hopi home (PUEBLO). PuzzleDaughter made an awesome picture of a pueblo in school this year. Maybe I'll scan it tomorrow and post it here.
Everything Else — 1A: Humped beast (CAMEL); 6A: Sidewalk eatery (CAFÉ); 17A: Final bios (OBITS); 20A: Young man (LAD); 21A: General __ chicken: Chinese dish (TSO'S); 23A: Stateroom (CABIN); 24A: Become fuzzy (BLUR); 25A: Nine-to-five grind (RAT RACE); 31A: Tense (ON EDGE); 32A: Take it easy (REST); 33A: A/C capacity meas. (BTU); 37A: Dew's chilly cousin (FROST); 41A: Committed perjury (LIED); 42A: Actor Danny (AIELLO); 46A: Brings into harmony (ATTUNES); 49A: Sales staff members, briefly (REPS); 50A: Made an effort (TRIED); 51A: Conceal (HIDE); 52A: Highest-ranking USN officer (ADM.); 58A: AM/FM apparatus (RADIO); 61A: Croon (SING); 63A: Make over (REDO); 64A: Toy dog, briefly (PEKE); 65A: Dud of a car (LEMON); 1D: Chilly (COOL); 2D: "Mamma Mia!" group (ABBA); 4D: CPR performer (EMT); 7D: Hertz competitor (AVIS); 8D: G-man (FED); 9D: Before, in poetry (ERE); 10D: "The African Queen" costar (BOGART); 12D: Stand-up performer (COMIC); 13D: New Hampshire city (KEENE); 19D: Musical eightsome (OCTET); 22D: Foolproof (SUREFIRE); 24D: Some men's underwear (BVDS); 25D: Actress Charlotte and explorer John (RAES); 26D: Per what was previously mentioned (AS STATED); 27D: Suds source (SOAP); 28D: Ancient Andean (INCA); 29D: Ogle (LEER); 30D: Wear gradually (ERODE); 33D: Suspenders alternative (BELT); 34D: After-bath powder (TALC); 35D: "This can't be good" ("UH-OH!"); 38D: Gridiron zebras (REFS); 39D: Pastoral places (LEAS); 43D: Put in danger (IMPERIL); 45D: Recoil in fear (CRINGE); 46D: Battling (AT WAR); 47D: "Survivor" unit (TRIBE); 48D: Measured with a stopwatch (TIMED); 51D: Goose's cry (HONK); 53D: Flintstone pet (DINO); 54D: Ghostly sound (MOAN); 56D: Paranormal ability (ESP); 57D: Conk out (DIE); 59D: Gorilla, e.g. (APE).


chefbea said...

Loved the carol burnet clip. You can't send me $10.00

Puzzle was very easy.

Good to be home, and doing the LA times puzzle. Had a great time in Italy. Good food and good wine.

SethG said...

Ivan Lendl, who once appeared in Snapple advertisements and was the #1 player in the world for over five years, won the Australian Open, the French Open, and the US Open. He never won Wimbledon.

Carol said...

Oh my gosh that clip was funny. What a great way to start the morning with a huge belly laugh!

Easy Monday, but interesting. May get the hang of this crossword stuff yet.


ArtLvr said...

@ ChefBea -- your trip sounded great! Glad you had a good time and got home safely...

@ SethG -- thanks for the added info on LENDL! I remember our family taking in two of the players on the clay court circuit during a tournament one year, not top seeds but fun young guys. They were the first to teach me how to jitterbug!

gjelizabeth said...

What a pleasant Monday! I remember Ipana but had forgotten Bucky Beaver. Thanks for the OBOE lesson. I need all the music help I can get as I have a tin ear and a lead foot.

Charlie said...

A good poker lesson, PG. There is indeed a lot of Kryptonite for ACES out there. Just last night, I lost a hand with three-of-a-kind aces to someone who unconscionably stayed in the hand despite my aggressive wagering and who caught two cards of the same suit to make a flush. As they say at the tables, "That's poker."

*David* said...

I thought it was a better then usual Monday with a tad more effort needed. Didn't notice the theme until I had the first three long answers filled which was timely because then I got to fit in WIMBLEDON.

jeff in chicago said...

I don't care much for any of the big three sports, but I love tennis season. The recent French Open was great, and Wilbledon promises more great stuff, despite no Rafael Nadal.

ACES was also a bonus theme answer!

Fun, easy puzzle. And another swell PG writeup.

jeff in chicago said...

FYI: Wilbledon is a minor tournament taking place in Dogpatch, USA.

mac said...

Nice, breezy puzzle and write-up. We meet again, PG
Loved the Handmaid's Tale, but I never saw the film. Didn't Natasha Richardson play in it?

Wimbledon is fun to watch on tv. I've been to the tournament three times, spent almost 3 days, and saw a total of 2 sets of tennis.... Things will be better with the new retractable roof, I guess.

eileen said...

@puzzle girl: I was reading your comment re. Monday puzzles being a kind of confidence builder and had to smile because today was the very first time I was able to complete a puzzle without google! I was soooo excited!

Denise said...

Nice puzzle & write-up & hilarious clip on a windy, cold, rainy Cape Cod day. I have been pushing my speed, so I miss a lot of clues and fills. The blog is more interesting that way!!

Thanks for all you do -- NYT today as well!!

JaJaJoe said...

The CBS outtakes clip is a hoot; yet after Carol holds up like a card and speaks to Mama, what's the latter's reply to which they ROTF?

JaJaJoe said...

Regarding the LAT simplifying their w/e x-words lately, Fri-Sun used to take me enough days to complete that I'd rarely if ever get to their mundane Monday, etc.
After thinking that the "dumbing-down of America" had already nudged us (down) to its nadir, the LAT seems striving to send us sub-nadir. {Alliteration always / all ways...}

'Guess I gotta resume photo-copying WSJ Fridays and NYT Sundays at our public library; yet will continue cavorting in yawls LACConfidential of your entertaining insights and inserts for us to get-a-life off-the-grid.

Meanwhile, I still seek in today's puzzle
"the ELEPHANT in the room".-/

Lime D. Zeze said...

Hmmm...sorry, but that Carol Burnett clip did not incite laughter for me. Barely even a smile, I must confess. I'm more in the David Cross/Patton Oswalt camp of comedy, I guess.

One additional note for "oboe" -- it is sometimes clued as hautboy or hautbois, a word I sometimes confuse with hoosegow for some reason.

chefwen said...

PG, I think I owe you $10, I not only laughed, I cried.

Puzzle super easy, only write over was cold instead of COOL, with my thin blood, anything under 70 seems cold to me, oops, also last lap for LAST LEG.

I hate backing up too, every fender bender I've had has been done in reverse.

Welcome back Chefbea!

Charles Bogle said...

Congrats @eileen...first google-less time is great!

I too remembered IPANA but not Bucky Beaver. Hmmm

Very pleasant and cheerful Monday puzzle. Odd choice of celebs...AIELLO--forgotten, RAE third-tier. And thank goodness I could get "Survivor" Q by crossing

I really enjoy puzzles themed around a significant calendar date and Wimbledon/tennis worked for me nicely

Got thrown for a bit w LASTLAP instead of LEG. ATTUNES for harmonizes and DIE for "conk out" brought smiles

Another nice @puzzlegirl write-up--two in a day..I'm not as stressed as on today's NYT bec US Open finally over and I didn't have to compete w YOUDAMAN and INTHEHOLE in the background!

PuzzleGirl said...

@Charlie: Losing with trip aces would make me want to slit my wrists.

@eileen: Congratulations!!! Stick with us, kid. You'll just keep getting better and better!

embien said...

I've seen that Carol Burnett clip several times but it never fails to make me laugh (or snork) out loud.

I couldn't get on this puzzle's wavelength, so it too, me forever (well, eight minutes) to complete. There was another ACE hidden in RAT RACE, but I didn't see it until looking over the puzzle later.

Wayne said...

I have noticed that the puzzles are getting a little easier lately. I thought it was because I was getting better at doing them but I'm sure you long-timers are right about the dumbing down.

I have a theory on why this is happening. With newspapers hanging on to their existence by a thread, I suspect they have decided to attract more people to the puzzles by making them easier. That way, they may get more subscribers and/or keep the ones they have.