THURSDAY, June 11, 2000—James Sajdak

Theme: Hit List—Each theme answer's first word begins with a syllable used in comic books to indicate physically hitting someone.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Overnight millionaire, probably (POWERBALL WINNER).
  • 25A: One-time East Asian barrier (BAMBOO CURTAIN).
  • 47A: Pacific swimmer (SOCKEYE SALMON).
  • 62A: Unintended upshot (BOOMERANG EFFECT).
  • 39A: Smite, and hint to this puzzle's theme (HIT).
Crosswordese 101: As far as crosswords are concerned, you only have to know two things about Herman Melville. The protagonist of his most famous work, Moby Dick, is AHAB and OMOO is [56D: Melville's sequel to "Typee"]. Clues for OMOO generally indicate that it (a) was published in 1847, (b) takes place on Tahiti (sometimes referred to generally as the South Seas), and (c) is subtitled "Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas." Oh, and its said to be autobiographical. And that's what you need to know about OMOO.

I really like this theme and think the theme answers are awesome, but I'm not really crazy about a lot of the fill. Too many prefixes/suffixes and abbreviations (some of which were awkward, e.g., GENL for General [11D: Grant, for one: Abbr.]) for my taste. I also noticed a slangy vibe with 22A: "Right back AT YA, dude!," BEAV [25D: Theodore, to Wally], and 'VETTES [42A: Sting Rays, briefly]. Did you all know ACTH [23D: Pituitary hormone]? That was a tough one for me and it feels obscure, but maybe it's just one of my blind spots. I didn't hate the puzzle though. There was some interesting stuff too (or, at least stuff to talk about!).

Stuff to talk about:
  • 8A: Veronica's pursuer, in comics (REGGIE). I know Rex got this right, but raise your hand if you entered Archie first.

  • 32A: Training site?: Abbr. (STN.). This is the abbreviation for station, as in "train station." Except when they decide to use STA as the abbreviation for station instead. You never know when that's going to happen. You really just have to check the cross (which, in this case, was that pituitary hormone, so I just guessed).
  • 58A: One sitting in your lap, perhaps (TOY DOG). All I could think was "lap dog." Obviously, that would not have worked. Reminds me of the first crossword PuzzleDaughter made last year. The first clue/answer pair she came up with was [The name of the spider in Charlotte's Web], which is, of course, CHARLOTTE. She was 7.
  • 64A: "Get Shorty" novelist Leonard (ELMORE). I liked both the book and the movie.
  • 67A: Filled pastry of Asia (SAMOSA). Oh man. Used to eat a samosa pretty much every day in college at the co-op. Yum!
  • 68A: Fashion monogram (YSL). Yves Saint Laurent.
  • 1D: Former Bruin all-star, familiarly (ESPO). That's Phil Esposito, a Hall of Fame hockey player, whose #7 jersey was retired by the Boston Bruins in 1987.
  • 10D: Pop singer Vannelli (GINO). Oh sure, why not.

  • 18D: Tiller opening (ROTO-). Someday I'll tell you the story of the time I traveled to Costa Rica with two other adults, four young children, nine large suitcases and a roto-tiller. On second thought, it's not actually an interesting story.
  • 19D: Costar with Bolger and Haley (LAHR). Ray Bolger plays the Scarecrow, Jack Haley plays the Tin Man, and Bert LAHR plays the Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz."
  • 29D: Pig-poke link (IN A). Are you guys all caught up on this kind of clue? You're just looking for words that "link" the words pig and poke: "Pig IN A poke."
  • 34D: Target's target, say (LOGO). Had to wait for the crosses for this one. My first thought was the store, but couldn't figure out what the clue was looking for. Target demographic? Well, that's everybody, right? My first job was at Target, by the way. I was a Touch Key Professional at Target Store #61 in Fargo, North Dakota, when I was in high school. That was, like, a hundred years ago. Back before they had all these cushy scanning doo-hickeys they have nowadays—we actually had to key in all the numbers! Now get off my lawn!
  • 40D: Prefix with logical (THEO-). I can never remember if it's idio- or ideo-, and in this case it was neither.
  • 55D: ICC part: Abbr. (COMM.). Interstate Commerce Commission. I recall people have complained about having to know this governmental agency for crossword purposes. I used to work in a law firm that did some transportation law work, so it's totally familiar to me. Not sure if the COMM stands for Commerce or Commission, but I suppose it doesn't really matter.
Everything Else — 1A: Caroline du Nord, e.g. (ETAT); 5A: Seasonal roller (EGG); 14A: __ Tzu (SHIH); 15A: "Who, me?" (MOI); 16A: For one (APIECE); 20A: Loud speaker (ORATOR); 21A: Pond youngsters (TADPOLES); 24A: "A likely story!" ("HAH!"); 31A: River of Devon (EXE); 33A: Historical records (ANNALS); 36A: Burka wearer's deity (ALLAH); 41A: Boorish type (YAHOO); 44A: Calendar col. (THU.); 46A: "Disgusting!" ("UGH!"); 51A: Farm youngster (KID); 52A: Peak between Pelion and Olympus (OSSA); 53A: Complimentary review (ACCOLADE); 65A: Struggle (VIE); 66A: Dos cubed (OCHO); 69A: "The Joy of Painting" host Bob (ROSS); 2D: Red-bearded god (THOR); 3D: Sony subsidiary (AIWA); 4D: It's generous to pick it up (THE TAB); 5D: Early life forms (EMBRYOS); 6D: __ long way: last (GO A); 7D: Like some fine art frames (GILT); 8D: Numbers to crunch (RAW DATA); 9D: January 6th Christian celebration (EPIPHANY); 11D: Grant, for one: Abbr. (GENL.); 12D: Frozen treat brand (ICEE); 13D: Plural suffix with mountain (-EERS); 26D: Bike feature (AXLE); 27D: Thaws (MELTS); 28D: Togetherness (UNITY); 30D: Book after Micah (NAHUM); 35D: Herr's heir, maybe (SOHN); 37D: From __ B: first step (A TO); 38D: Comic's banes (HECKLERS); 43D: Resort with moguls (SKI AREA); 45D: Company co-founded by J.P. Morgan (US STEEL); 48D: Scandinavian epic (EDDA); 49D: Dating from (AS OF); 50D: Wait to attack (LAY FOR); 53D: Lincoln and others (ABES); 54D: Soft drink choice (COLA); 57D: A deadly sin (ENVY); 59D: Art __ (DECO); 60D: Big name in publishing (OCHS); 61D: Classic Pontiacs (GTOS); 63D: Soldiers (GIS).


Anonymous said...

I'm a nurse I knew ACTH for pituitary gland. Did put Archie in.
Didn't know Gino. Bob Ross my favorite artist in A69.

Joon said...

ACTH wasn't a problem. i didn't know REGGIE, and i still don't. that was all crosses.

i'm not a big fan of cluing THEO as a prefix when it's a common name. but for IDIO- and IDEO-, you don't have any choice. for future reference, IDIO- means peculiar, but not in the sense of "unusual" but in the sense of "specific to oneself"; hence idiolect (one of my favorite words) for "language as uniquely used by me." IDEO- just means idea.

Jeffrey said...

It must be Montreal musician day. GINO Vanelli, Andy Kim (co-writer and singer of Sugar Sugar), one other in another major daily puzzle.

I had ARCHIE first. Loved the 6+ stacks in the NE and SW.

Charlie said...

Good theme and a tough Thursday offering as far as I am concerned.

I liked LOGO as well and was also trying to fit a synonym for 'customer' in there for a bit.

Bible, especially OT, is a bit of a blind spot for me, so NAHUM was my only cheat today. It led to YAHOO which begat EPIPHANY which cleared up the Archie/REGGIE mess and closed it out.

Anonymous said...

Loved this puzzle!
Veronica may have been pursued by REGGIE, but it's Archie who wins her. In the news today--- After 68 years of waffling, Archie has made his move. That striking girl next door, Veronica, has been chosen over sweet Betty. Archie Comics recently announced that Archie would finally choose between those two high-school hotties... Archie will get on his knee to present Veronica with a ring while poor Betty watches and sheds tears. Veronica shouts out “Yes!” Millions of comic afficianados have voiced their disappointment over this story-line twist.

Did anyone know that the French word "Caroline du Nord" (1A) means North Carolina and hence is an ETAT (State)? I still haven't found a crossword puzzle out there that does not have any French words in it.

Carol said...

A real challenger for me. Didn't know ACTH, GINO, and put ARCHIE first. Did know OMOO as it has appeared many times in the LAT puzzle.

Good write-up!

gjelizabeth said...

Yup, went with ARCHIE first. I ended up googling three clues: "Caroline du Nord, e.g."; "Pituitary hormone"; and "Sony subsidiary". I figure the last two were random chance pieces of information. The kind of specialized bits that give solvers satisfaction if they happen to know them for whatever reason (like Queenmothermamaw having been a nurse) and make the rest of us either grind our teeth or shrug. "Caroline du Nord, e.g.", however, is a different kettle of fish. I like the clue but considered all sorts of answers before giving up and googling. Opera and ship names seemed possible. When a bunch of articles in French about North Carolina popped up instead I realized what was going on. This seems, however, a little outside the usual convention of cluing in a foreign language and I can't figure out why. Any ideas?
I loved that HIT was at the center of the puzzle. Added to the Target clues it gave a nice bullseye effect.

Gary Lowe said...

Why the obscure clue for EPIPHANY? Otherwise good and fair cluing like "Early life form" for EMBRYO, or necessary blather for NAHUM.
I find it mildly annoying when there are several alternatives to broadly hint at something, but a narrow definition is chosen.
Otherwise I liked the puzzle, INA THEO ROTO LOGO ESPO OMOO kinda way.


Puzzlegirl, your blogs and graphics are very entertaining... thanks!

Gary Lowe said...


"O"s must have been on sale today :-)

*David* said...

Did not like the puzzle with the quantity and types of abbreviations and prefixes. It detracted from a potentially very good puzzle. GENL is just wrong.

This one took me twice as long as a normal THU. The ACTH/STN cross, I filled in wrong.

Sandy said...

I never got on this puzzle's wavelenth. Had a few crosses, so confidently wrote in MOUNTAIN where CURTAIN was supposed to go, and all went downhill from there.

LAY FOR? Someone tell me they use those two words consecutively to convey clued meaning. Please!

Perhaps I was just flustered because my Assistant Superintendent and a School Board member made a surprise visit to my classroom this morning while my seniors were playing Apples to Apples on their second to last day of high school. What, they were expecting to see us working??

Jeffrey said...

@Sandy - I plan to use those words next time I wait to attack someone.

I only know "lay for" from Bob Seger's Old Time Rock N Roll...

Don't try to take me to a disco
You'll never even get me out on the floor
In ten minutes I'll be late for the door
I like that old time rock'n' roll

"Late for"? I've been wrong all these years. Guess I don't know "lay for" at all.

Never mind.

Joon said...

i never really got on this puzzle's wavelength either, but i just wanted to note that {Caroline du Nord}, {Sony subsidiary}, and {January 6th Christian celebration} were all gimmes. there's nothing tricky or obscure about those clues. sure, it helps to know a little french, and AIWA is just one of those things you should commit to memory if you're going to do puzzles (3/4 vowels = guaranteed crossword repeater).

sandy, i agree that LAY FOR is insanely awkward. and yeah, there was a bunch of other suboptimal fill, including another dreaded plural suffix (-EERS), some plural abbreviations (GIS, GTOS, 'VETTES), and a whole bunch of partials (SHIH, A TO, IN A, GO A). on the other hand, the wide-open corners in the NE and SW were cool, and the theme was pretty good. was it worth the trade-off? i'll go ahead and say yes. good themes GO A long way towards making a midweek puzzle.

as discussed yesterday, crossword puzzles are already sufficiently sports-centric, but isn't it about time we started seeing ROTO clued in relation to fantasy baseball? the prefix and the old newspaper section seem a little tired to me.

Orange said...

@Gary Lowe, everyone knows that January 6 is the day for the feast of the Epiphany! Or maybe that's just those of us whose grandmas were born on January 6, eh?

Now I've irked Gary Lowe. Surely he will LAY FOR me now. No, @Sandy, I've never encountered that verb phrase. "Lie in wait," sure.

Wouldn't you think the people who own Shih Tzu dogs would know how to spell that? Some don't. Here's a photo I took of a neighborhood lost-dog sign with the unfortunate misspelling.

Rex Parker said...

Even I entered ARCHIE first.

This puzzle was tougher than your avg LAT Thursday, I thought.

There's an exhibit at the Skirball Ctr in L.A. running thru Aug 9, 2009, entitled "ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950." More info here. I am trying to find some way to go (even though I live in upstate NY).

Gary Lowe said...

@Orange - why would the Christians need another feast on Jan 6? Haven't they just ate, drank and partied their socks off for the last 10 days? Aren't the relatives finally chased out of the house?

Perhaps after it all wore off, someone woke up, had an epiphany and broke out the leftovers.

And it's not a proper reference, but indeed I recall a common use of LAYFOR from my college days.

Anonymous said...

@Orange - That's not a misspelling. The dog's sire was the world famous Zu D'Lama, hence the last name ZU, his name actually is Shit, has siblings name Piss, Barf, and ShedAllOverThePlace.

eileen said...

Not feeling much love for today's puzzle from Mr. Sajdak. I found it quite awkard.
Oh well, Puzzle Girl had a nice write-up.

mac said...

OK puzzle, not too hard, but there were quite a few words I had to get through the crosses, like Reggie, Aiwa, acth and Ross. No problem with Caroline du Nord, I have met her, her sisters from the Sud and Virginie before.

@Joon: I agree, great word, idiolect, but then what is the root of dialect?

Anonymous said...

@orange and @anonymous 12:24

That picture and the commentary more than compensated for any of the puzzle's infelicities. LOL at both postings.

Charles Bogle said...

ACTH, abbreviations, prefixes...easily could do without this one

Must be Melville day too. Another major daily puzzle wants "Ishmael's creator"!

chefwen said...

@Anon 12:24 - Really did laugh out loud. I'm too old to go with LOL.

Resisted putting in Archie as being too obvious, but couldn't remember the other dude's name until I got a couple of downs and said "Ah yes the sly Reggie".

Last fill was ACTH, never heard of it.

Lemonade714 said...

why was this not a Doug Peterson Batman special

Marilyn said...

I'm soooo slow but finally worked thru this from the bottom up. Somehow ACTH was just there in the memory bank (from the 50's? I'm so old!) Did have to query my comic book reading daughter to get Reggie. Really resent foreign language clues--we're working an English language puzzle.