SUNDAY, June 7, 2009—Mike Peluso

Theme: "Taking the Bite Out of the Dog"—Theme answers are familiar phrases with the letters GR removed from them. The resulting wacky phrases are clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: About to land in northern Ohio? ([gr]OVER CLEVELAND).
  • 31A: Incredible hole-in-one? (AMAZING [gr]ACE).
  • 53A: Debts? ([gr]OWING CONCERN).
  • 76A: Traditional ghost stories? ([gr]EEK MYTHOLOGY).
  • 93A: Aristocratic Machu Picchu women? ([gr]ANDES DAMES).
  • 106A: WWII intelligence oversights? ([gr]OSS NEGLIGENCE).
  • 37D: Angry gorillas? ([gr]APES OF WRATH).
  • 40D: Little queen in the library? (RESEARCH [gr]ANT).
I liked this theme well enough. It's not 100% elegant, what with the "GR" being removed most of the time from the first word, but twice from the last word. And with only two of the resulting phrases requiring a change in pronunciation. Having both of those things consistent in a puzzle this big with eight theme answers is asking a lot. At least I think it is. Maybe one of my esteemed co-bloggers can speak to that point more knowledgeably.

Crosswordese 101: Back in the 1970s, there was a band called ELO, which stands for Electric Light Orchestra. Crossword puzzle constructors rejoiced at the band's success! "Those letters will help us out of many tough spots!" they thought. And, indeed, it came to be. ELO is almost always clued in relation to one of its many hit songs and the clue typically (thought not always) indicates that the answer will be an abbreviation. So today we have 57A: "Strange Magic" gp. Other days, you might see one of these songs: "Livin' Thing," "Telephone Line," "Xanadu," "Evil Woman," "Don't Bring Me Down," or "Sweet Talkin' Woman."

Before I get started, I just want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to PuzzleSon, who turns 10 today. We'll be playing laser tag a little later this afternoon and, if history is any indication, we'll be having pancakes for dinner. Yay! Oh and I heard a rumor that PuzzleHusband's uncle reads this blog on occasion so: Hello, Uncle Will, if you're out there!

Okay, Sunday puzzles are huge and there's a lot to talk about, so let's get right to it.

  • 7A: Maker of Infiniti hairstyling irons (CONAIR). Also really bad Nicolas Cage movie.
  • 22A: Rhine siren (LORELEI). Also a really cool character on "Gilmore Girls."
  • 30A: Cherry variety (BING). Also Chandler's last name on "Friends." Okay, I'll stop now.
  • 40A: Some NFL linemen (RGS). Right guards.
  • 47A: Iowa college town (AMES). Home of the Iowa State Cyclones. Boooo! Go Hawks!
  • 49A: Game revenue (GATE). The amount of money taken in (at the gate!) for a particular game is called the "gate."
  • 56A: Spacemate of Michael and Buzz (NEIL). This is so embarrassing. I thought this was a reference to "Toy Story," but it's actually about real astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong. D'oh!
  • 60A: Dentist's number? (OPIATE). Remember how we talked about the word flower meaning "something that flows" (i.e., a river)? In this clue, the word number means "something that numbs."
  • 68A: "Leaving Las Vegas" costar (SHUE). The most depressing movie of all time.
  • 70A: Time between mediodía y seis (TARDE). Spanish! Mediodía = noon; seis = 6:00; tarde = afternoon.
  • 84A: Reagan secretary of state (HAIG). Yeah, I entered Reno at first.
  • 88A: Mozart's "__ Alla Turca" (RONDO).

  • 91A: Badgers, in "Jabberwocky" (TOVES). I do not know what this means.
  • 99A: Ring floorings? (KOS). Knock-outs, which "floor" one of the boxers in a ring.
  • 115A: Prosecutorial staff member: Abbr. (ASST DA). Assistant District Attorney. Easy for all you Law & Order fans.
  • 6D: Songwriters Bob and Jakob (DYLANS). I don't mind seeing plural names in the puzzle if (a) the clue refers to two people who are actually related, or (b) the clue refers to two people with the same last name that are clearly not related and that makes it tricky. What I can't stand is a clue like "Adolf, and others" for HITLERS. Which, of course, you'd never see in the puzzle, but I think you get my point.

  • 10D: Mad-wet hen link (AS A). Here "link" just means words that serve as a link between the words mad and wet hen. In this case, we're looking at the phrase "Mad as a wet hen."
  • 32D: Out of control, maybe (MANIC). I had rabid at first.
  • 42D: "O Rare Ben Johnson" is engraved (in error) on one (STELE). According to Wikipedia, a stele is "a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living...." The reason the engraving referred to in the clue is "in error" is because the poor guy's name is misspelled (it's really Jonson).
  • 46D: Navel phenomenon (INNIE). I think of this as more of a description than a phenomenon, but okay.
  • 73D: Fall preceder (PRIDE). I'm pretty sure the phrase is "Pride cometh before the fall," and it's no doubt Biblical, which means I don't really know anything about it.
  • 86D: Savvy sailor (OLD SALT). Salt and tar are synonyms for sailor and are often seen in crosswords.
  • 92D: Pat of "The Karate Kid" (MORITA). He'll always be Arnold to me.
  • 93D: "Intervention" airer (A AND E). A&E—Arts & Entertainment Network.
  • 94D: Concerns of the god Janus (DOORS). Janus is the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings.
  • 97D: Part of Q.E.D. (ERAT). "Quod erat demonstrandum."
  • 105D: __ in November (N AS). PuzzleFamily and I were trying to come up with all the letters in the NATO phonetic alphabet the other day. I can usually make it to Foxtrot.
  • 108D: Nothing but __: perfect hoops shot (NET).

Everything Else — 1A: Photographer's buy (TRIPOD); 13A: It precedes Blue Jays' home games ("O CANADA"); 20A: Actress Swank (HILARY); 21A: Defoe title surname (CRUSOE); 25A: Starry-eyed type (DREAMER); 26A: 1931 Garbo role (MATA HARI); 27A: Binding words (I DO); 29A: Pay (SALARY); 35A: Burns severely (SCALDS); 38A: Not pay, as taxes (EVADE); 39A: Word in a proof (ERGO); 43A: They're found under long hair (NAPES); 44A: Douglas Aircraft jets used in Nam (F-TENS); 45A: Most shabby (SEEDIEST); 48A: Rice-__ (A-RONI); 51A: Follow (ENSUE); 52A: Matter of law (RES); 58A: Thing to go through (PHASE); 59A: Twist, as floorboards (WARP); 62A: Smooth style (FLAIR); 64A: PB&J cousin (BLT); 65A: Kitchen gadget (CORER); 66A: In addition (AS WELL); 72A: USN rank (CPO); 75A: Old rotorcraft, for short (GIRO); 79A: Throne letters (HRH); 80A: Malaysian ape (ORANG); 82A: Lens holders (RIMS); 83A: Materialized (AROSE); 85A: Facetious suggestion to public kissers (GET A ROOM); 87A: Layers (PLIES); 89A: __Kosh B'Gosh (OSH); 90A: "Same Time, Next Year" actor (ALDA); 92A: Softened by love (MELTED); 95A: Eternities (EONS); 96A: Pie nuts (PECANS); 100A: Church challengers (HERETICS); 104A: Qom inhabitant (IRANIAN); 110A: South African liberator (MANDELA); 111A: Show contrition (REPENT); 112A: More to the point (TERSER); 113A: Certifies (ATTESTS); 114A: Lists of candidates (SLATES); 1D: Shoe retailer McAn (THOM); 2D: 1972 Derby winner __ Ridge (RIVA); 3D: "Okay if __ myself out?" (I LET); 4D: "The Prodigal Son" and others (PARABLES); 5D: 14-Down flowers (ORCHIDS); 7D: MXXX ÷ V (CCVI); 8D: Pay dirt (ORE); 9D: Match __: tie game, in Bordeaux (NUL); 11D: Give a charge to (IONIZE); 12D: __-wip (REDDI); 13D: Stale (OLD); 14D: Gift for a big date (CORSAGE); 15D: Seattle's 206, e.g. (AREA CODE); 16D: 1960 Wimbledon champ Fraser (NEALE); 17D: __ mater (ALMA); 18D: Forest bounders (DEER); 19D: Well-ventilated (AIRY); 24D: Fraction of a joule (ERG); 28D: Like the simplest process (ONE-STEP); 31D: Get even for (AVENGE); 33D: Spots (ADS); 34D: Garson of "Mrs. Miniver" (GREER); 35D: Trap (SNARE); 36D: Desert mount (CAMEL); 38D: Detachable collars (ETONS); 41D: Astronaut's garb (G-SUIT); 44D: Brother in a hood? (FRIAR); 48D: For some time (AWHILE); 49D: Camping pest (GNAT); 50D: Unlike this ans. (ACR.); 53D: Iridescent stone (OPAL); 54D: Little hooter (OWLET); 55D: Pest (NOODGE); 61D: Raptor's victim (PREY); 63D: Hotelier Helmsley (LEONA); 64D: Believes (BUYS); 65D: Angry (CROSS); 66D: Disco era phrase (A-GO-GO); 67D: Begets (SIRES); 68D: Protection for a bank job (SKI MASK); 69D: "Let me think about that" ("HMM"); 70D: Whig opponents (TORIES); 71D: Burn soothers (ALOES); 74D: "Lordy!" ("OH GOD!"); 77D: Weaken, as confidence (ERODE); 78D: Cut a sandwich, say (HALVE); 81D: Family elders, familiarly (GRANNIES); 84D: Piece keepers? (HOLSTERS); 87D: Lap dog, for short (POM); 88D: Commits an act of betrayal, maybe (RENEGES); 91D: Mortarboard hanger (TASSEL); 95D: Sniggler's quest (EEL); 96D: Tucson is its county seat (PIMA); 98D: Tilted position (CANT); 100D: Alts. (HGTS.); 101D: Technical sch. (INST.); 102D: E-mailed a dupe to (CC'ED); 103D: Antitoxins (SERA); 107D: Luxurious getaway (SPA); 109D: Charlotte-to-Raleigh dir. (ENE)


Crockett1947 said...

Hey PG! Nice write up. Have a fun day with Puzzle Family.

Carol said...

Wasn't until I read your blog that the GR theme made sense - duh!
Loved the Dave Brubek video. Hope your weather is as nice wherever you are as it is here in Central California!

pgriff241 said...

FYI- Jabberwocky is a nonsensical and yet famous poem by Lewis Carroll. "Twas brillig and the slithy toves..." No one knows what it means but the toves are supposedly badgers (and other creatures)
I love your blog - it explains alot of the puzzle to me!


Nice Peluso puzzle and I really enjoy Puzzlegirl's blog. Again, I was trapped by the 60A trick "dentist's numb-er"... I thought since it had a ? mark that it was in the GR theme, so I kept wanting to make it GRipiate, but the cross made no sense. Hey, the big IRANI vs IRANIAN (105A) debate has been settled today! And how many of you used PARER (65A), like I did out of habit, for that over-used kitchen gadget?
Hope PuzzleFamily has a super B'day party... watch out for that beam!

Gary Lowe said...

Dentist's number - grrr - I was racking the brain from 'little shop of horrors' - what was that Steve Martin song called?

Argyle said...

According to imdb, the title is "Dentist!" although it is often referenced as "Be a Dentist".

mac said...

Good write-up Puzzlegirl! Hope you are having fun with your puzzle boy.

Nice puzzle by Mr. Peluso, where the only spot that I absolutely couldn't get is the 48A-48D section..... Not knowing much about football and trying to put the gr on the wrong part, grrrrr!
Otherwise I enjoyed doing it, printed out, under the big oak tree.

JaJaJoe said...

The bright-eyed guy in the photo left of your 42D discussion (Ben Johnson?) to me also resembles the recently new mayor of my Motown hometown http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Bing and whose surname of BING is also that of 30A Cherry variety.

'Go Wings!

Charlie said...

EEK MYTHOLOGY and OSS NEGLIGENCE are two truly awesome theme answers.

SE took a while because I had a hard time getting away from MOBSTERS for 84D. It wasn't until my brainlock on HAIG melted that it all came together.

Charlie said...

And Mr. Blue Sky is the best ELO song, hands down.

Charlie said...

And Mr. Blue Sky is the best ELO song, hands down.

Anonymous said...

I suspect reference in 44A is erroneous: Douglas never made an F-10 jet, and no other "F-10s" were in Vietnam. The A-10 attack jet was not operational until after Nam, and was built by Fairchild.

Anonymous said...

@PG - Leaving Las Vegas was, to some of us, one of the most hopeful movies of all time. I was once explaining it's virtues to a friend, and his only response was that I wasn't lucky enough to die.

moops said...

N as in November was the worst clue ever. I'm just glad this blog is here or I may have never known what it meant.

Crazy Ray said...

Good site for Jabberwocky explanations:


This was a great puzzle. I got them all except dentists number!!

John said...

Could not make any sense out of "Little Queen in the library" kept looking fo some kind of CHANT. GRRRRRR!