THURSDAY, June 25, 2009 — John Lampkin

Theme: SWIM TEAM 1A/71A: Extracurricular group concerned with the starts of the answers to starred clues. Theme answers are words or phrases that begin with a type of swimming stroke.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: *Dangerous snake of the Southwest (SIDEWINDER). It's a venomous pitviper. That sounds a lot scarier than sidewinder, doesn't it?
  • 24A: *Fortification about four feet high (BREASTWORK). Uhm, okay if you say so. Reminds me of the time a few years ago when we bought a John Deere lawn tractor and the salesguy asked us if we were going to do any "dirtwork" with it. We're all, "Well that would depend on what the hell dirtwork is."
  • 39A: *Chaos theory principle (BUTTERFLY EFFECT).
  • 53A: *Road less traveled (BACK STREET). You can all be grateful that I don't know any Backstreet Boys music, so I'm not going to include a video.
  • 61A: *Area where electricians can't stand to work? (CRAWL SPACE). Wikipedia says "crawl space" is only in a basement. Can't there be crawl space in an attic? Just wondering. Oh yeah, and this is a Great clue.
Okay, this is pretty funny. My kids are on a SWIM TEAM for the first time this summer and I just attended my Very First Swim Meet Ever yesterday. I had to laugh when I figured out the theme to this puzzle! Very timely for me!

Crosswordese 101: Let's talk about ULNAE (36A: Arm bones). We all know what the ULNA is, right? It's the forearm bone, which is next to the radius and below the humerus. The tricky part in puzzles is when it asks for the plural. You just never know if they're going for the Latin ULNAE or the Anglicized ULNAS. This is the part where I typically tell you what kind of hints you'll find in the clue to help you determine which version of the word you want. Unfortunately, I can't do that on this one. You just have to check the crosses. Sorry.

I was going to complain about all the cross-referencing clues in today's puzzle, but it turns out there are only two. No wait. There are three including the theme revealing clue. So that is a lot. The funny thing is when I've constructed crossword puzzles before it always seems like a good idea to do a cross-reference clue. But when I'm solving ... not so much. At least today both split answers were people — ANAÏS NIN and ERNIE ELS — so I guess that's kind of cool. (43A/10D: "Collages" author and 55D/35D: Two-time U.S. Open winner.)

Other than that, this was a pretty smooth solve with only a few thorny spots. I had a hard time parsing A-STAR (29A: Altair, for one). I guess you could say astronomy isn't my strong suit. The only reason I finally figured it out was because I had a forehead slapping moment with TUFFETS (30D: Low stools). At first I was all, "What does a buffet have to do with a stool?" Then I remembered Little Miss Muffet. I'm not sure I ever totally understood what she was sitting on. It's possible I've been under the impression that a tuffet is a mushroom all these years. And believe me, that's the least of my baggage.

  • 15A: What, in Tours (QUOI). French!
  • 22A: Home run pace (TROT).
  • 28A: Silver salmon (COHO). I'm sure I've seen this fish in puzzles before, but I had to wait for the crosses. And the crosses were a little sketchy, too. I confidently entered ogre for 26D: Fairy tale meany. Nine times out of ten, that's the fairy tale meany they're talking about. But not today. Today they want that stupid WOLF.
  • 60A: Tennis opening (SERVE). I think there was a rain delay on Monday and we're carrying over the tail end of that theme today.
  • 68A: Copier company (MITA). Perhaps not the most popular copier company, but a copier company nonetheless.
  • 1D: '80s-'90s Toronto pitcher Dave (STIEB). Ya know who knew this one? Crosscan. Ya know who had to wait for crosses? PuzzleGirl.
  • 6D: Rapa __: Easter Island (NUI). If you didn't know this one, try to remember it. You will see it again.
  • 11D: CPU drive (DVD BURNER). This looked all kinds of wrong when I only had the V and the second D in there.
  • 21D: Paul Anka love song with a Spanish title (ESO BESO). This song peaked at number 19 in 1962, but it's way higher on the CrossWorld all-time greatest hits list.

  • 31D: Corp. alias letters (DBA). Doing Business As.
  • 32D: Flag Day mo. (JUN.). I loathe this abbreviation. For God's sake, it's a four-letter month — why does it need to be abbreviated?
Big Finish:

I saved this for last because it's really awesome. In case you haven't been keeping up with this sordid story, it seems that Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina disappeared for several days. It's not entirely clear who knew what and when, but there was a period of time over the last few days where it appeared that neither his staff nor his wife were able to reach him. Then his staff floated the remarkably shaky story that Sanford was "hiking the Appalachian Trail." I guess that's what the kids are calling it these days? Anyway. He surfaced today and we now know — as a result of his tearful, televised apology (is there anybody not sick of the tearful, televised politician's apology at this point?) — he has been having an affair with a woman in Buenos Aires and was with her in South America the whole time he was supposedly missing. From what I can tell, the whole thing is just a big old pile of stupid and nobody has really figured it all out yet. Of course, people are talking about what his wife should have done and should do now, and blah, blah, blah. But here's my thing. Married people negotiate their relationships and not a single one of us has any idea what was/is acceptable in the Sanford marriage. But, for crying out loud, he's the GOVERNOR of a STATE. I don't think someone who's responsible for a WHOLE STATE should be able to just disappear like that. Isn't part of a governor's job description, oh, I don't know ... "Be available in case you're needed for state business"? I mean, even if he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, which he clearly was not — like why did his staff think that was an appropriate answer to the question? Okay, okay, enough of the ranting. Here's my point.
  • 56D: "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" singer (EVITA).
  • 64D: S.C. summer hours (EDT).
John and Rich: How did you do that???

Everything Else — 5A: Lodges (INNS); 9A: Split up (END IT); 14A: "Voil&aague;!" relative ("TA-DA!"); 16A: Split (up) (DIVVY); 17A: "Terrible" tsar (IVAN); 20A: Surreal (EERIE); 23A: Bud (BRO); 27A: Swear (CUSS); 31A: CD players (DJS); 34A: Field bundle (BALE); 44A: Shore pounder (SURF); 45A: Stutz contemporary (REO); 46A: Rub it in (GLOAT); 49A: For men and women, in a way (CO-ED); 51A: Split (FLEE); 58A: Awed response (OOH); 59A: __-McGee, energy company that employed Karen Silkwood (KERR); 65A: Have __: know someone (AN IN); 66A: Warbucks's favorite (ANNIE); 67A: Reptilian logo brand, once (IZOD); 69A: Projecting shelf (LEDGE); 70A: Scriptural passage (TEXT); 2D: Vacillate (WAVER); 3D: Start of a challenge (I DARE); 4D: Stark raving type (MANIAC); 5D: Mensa concerns (IQS); 7D: Bob one's head at (NOD TO); 8D: Mountain chain (SIERRA); 9D: Rewrite, maybe (EDIT); 12D: "Riverdance" fiddler Eileen (IVERS); 13D: Novices (TYROS); 19D: Chinese cookware (WOKS); 25D: "__ she blows!" (THAR); 27D: Pasture arrival (CALF); 33D: Theater worker (STAGEHAND); 37D: Snoopy, in his WWI fantasies (ACE); 38D: Arena for DDE (ETO); 40D: Mah-jongg piece (TILE); 41D: "Disgusting!" (YUCK); 42D: Fertility god (EROS); 47D: Actor Vigoda et al. (ABES); 48D: La Brea attraction (TAR PIT); 50D: Imagined (DREAMT); 51D: The "f" in f-stop (FOCAL); 52D: "SNL" producer Michaels (LORNE); 54D: Fad (CRAZE); 57D: Common break hr. (TEN AM); 59D: Kandinsky friend (KLEE); 62D: Costume party item (WIG); 63D: "Friends" costar Courteney (COX).


Sandy said...

I started underlining all the directions to other clues, then stopped because there weren't as many as I thought.

Awesome finish, PG. I caught the S.C. reference, but missed Evita because I was too busy thinking that Evita is a character and "singer" makes me search in my head for the performer. (which isn't a complaint, just a note).

Your "big old pile of stupid" made me smile. I wish everyone could just leave it at that.

Jeffrey said...

Yes it's true. I lived in Toronto in the late 80's-early 90's and went to many Dave Stieb pitched games at the then-named Skydome. He wrote a book called "Tomorrow I'll Be Perfect" but I don't think it was about crossword-puzzle solving. (who am I, hyphen-man?)

Today I was perfect.

Anonymous said...

Saw Stieb pitch a no-hitter in Cleveland once. Still have the scorecard.

janie said...

>...the cross-referencing clues in today's puzzle...it turns out there are only two. No wait. There are three...both split answers were people.

not to mention the three "split" clues -- 9a [split up], 16a [split (up)] and 51a [split]. nice balance, huh?


Carol said...

Nice write-up PG.

I agree with your "pile of stupid." Hard to believe people like that exist, much less hold high political offices.

Oh, what am I saying "politics" "dirt" - oxymoron.

Rex Parker said...

I can tell people are STRUGGLING with this one today, as many of the searches, ["collages" novelist], [fairy tale baddie], etc. are resulting in hits to my Rex Parker blog (where I happen to have discussed those clues before).

Didn't like this one much. BREASTWORK killed it for me. No, scratch that. BREASTWORK maimed it. "Riverdance" fiddler killed it. Dead.

And as with all easily mockable media sensations who become scapegoats for the ugliness in our broader culture, I can't work up anger or derision for Sanford. His bumbling, impromptu, politically ill-advised press conference was about as close to "authentic" as you are going to get from a politician, sadly. Not that he's sympathetic. But the self-righteous condemnations and sneering derision are now bugging more than Sanford's bad behavior. We love to hate a motherf#$#!.

Sanford is not exceptional. Except for being governor, he's just like all the people knee-jerkedly calling him names (most of whom have cheated / been cheated on, or worse - hypocrites). As someone who touted his "values," he deserves this comeuppance, but all this "politicians are dirtbags" snarkiness really speaks poorly for our country. You elected him (them, all of them). I'm a dirtbag. You're a dirtbag. We should worry about our own dirt. If honesty is in order, then so are compassion and forgiveness.

For me, the bigger issue here is a GOVERNOR just LEAVING the COUNTRY and telling NO ONE. Come on, you can't do that.

"Tears of a Clown" is (randomly) playing on iTunes right now. For real. Perfect.


toothdoc said...

Trudged through the puzzle but it was OK for a Thursday.

As for the disappearance of the Governor, I'm afraid there would be a bigger uproar if PG, RP or Orange disappeared for a few days without anyone knowing where they were. What is a mere governor to the masters of the puzzle universe ;)


Puzzlegirl, I loved your soapboxing (verb)

BREASTWORK (24a) = Fortification???

Why did my French dictionary say QUEL for "what" and not QUOI(15a)?

Well, there's that old overused REO (45a) clue again, but the Reo is quite a gorgeous car...
see this---

Orange said...

Of course, if Rex, PuzzleGirl, or I disappeared for a few days, all three of us have keys to this blog. PG has the keys to Rex's blog, and she and Joon and Janie have the keys to mine. See? We would never leave our blogs unattended without knowing someone would swoop in to the rescue. This whole "nobody knows where I went" business is irresponsible for a governor.

Jeffrey said...

Is there a virtual mat under which the keys are left?

@John - Are you home? Quoi and quel both mean what. The link explains the difference.

toothdoc said...

Orange, I can see a Seinfeld moment in the future where Rex wants his key back from PG and soon your breaking into PGs apartment to get your key. . .LOL.

Charlie said...

I too could not get away from Ogre, which made me briefly consider King as a silver salmon, but I was very confident with THAR so I didn't spin my wheels too long there. I immediately wanted to go for DIVVY, but took pause when I saw was was brewing with what turned out to be DVD BURNER. At least I'm in good company.

I also expected a Backstreet Boys video when I put that answer together, so big thanks to PG for sparing us all.

Sanford'sBackHome said...

There was a good puzzle lurking around here somewhere, but this wasn't it. When a google search for a word, e.g. BREASTWORK, returns only links to dictionaries in the first 40 hits, it's not a suitable entry for a puzzle keyed to this level of difficutly. CPUs don't have DVDBURNERS, they just don't.

*David* said...

I was at first "hating" the puzzle but finished it off and said hmm not too bad. STEIB was one of those solid pitchers that Toronto had that I knew off the top of my head, when does HALLIDAY get his debut?

Affairs and politics go together in every party, as in life, with startling frequency. The disappearance is what was problematic. Saying you're on the Appalachian trail and crying with your lover in Argentina, that makes it a headline pertinent story.

gjelizabeth said...

I too fell afoul of Ogre despite having just read The Three Little Pigs yesterday to a friend's grandchildren. I did like the way BREASTWORK meshed into yesterday's discusion of HAVEATIT and thought the multiple "split" clue variations had a timely echo for Governor Sanford's woes. To say nothing of BACKSTREET being an all-time-great mistress movie. All together lots of fun!

Gary Lowe said...

Just having a quick look, there's a lot of pitfalls going for a decent phrase with BREAST (safesearch should be ON, btw), but BREASTBONE seems to be available. Maybe it wouldn't fill with that.

I guess the theme was good enough to overlook the riverdancerfiddler, but I'm guessin a person would mostly never get away with it.

john farmer said...

I thought the puzzle was all right but a few things did seem a bit odd. Like "extracurricular group" to describe SWIM/TEAM (STROKES could have been another way to tie the theme together, but might have been harder to fit in the grid). BREASTWORK could have been something else. Anyone have a problem with BREASTMILK? (BREASTWORK sounds more like a silicon implant than a fortification.)

I didn't know the Riverdance fiddler but thought it was fair, gettable. Still, I'd have gone with the '40s film noir "The Strange Love of Martha IVERS," starring the great Barbara Stanwyck (also, Kirk Douglas's debut), even though some people round here are allergic to any pop culture reference from before you were born.

Good rant on Sanford. Exactly right. If he had any job but governor of a state, he'd be fired.

Denise said...

Swim strokes as a theme was great, except that there is no swimming here these days -- still below 70 degrees and cloudy. Lots of time for puzzles. (Cape Cod)

I really like clues where there is the same word several times in the puzzle and the solver has to think of the different meanings.

Sanhador said...

I suppose I should like this puzzle after gettting as far as I did on a Thursday - but I just don't like it. I started with not a single across but managed to have some luck with SE corner. Nothing came easy but had just enough to fill across with and pull together until I got BUTTERFLYEFFECT and CRAWLSPACE. I was trying to figure out what BUTTER had to do with CRAWL at first but then I figured it out. Managed to get everything straightened up. In then end had all but 16 blanks that I just couldn't fill. All of which surrounded names or obscure things that made no sense. Such as TYROS for Novices. Also couldn't get two of the splits 9A and 16A. Still I suppose not to bad for a Thursday - but I did not like the puzzle. To many obscure things I solved only from crosses and then just barely.

Fred said...

David letterman said: "It's crazy that the governor of South Carolina went missing for a week and couldn't be reached. What if North Carolina had declared war on South Carolina?"


eileen said...

I hated WORKBREAST! Just didn't make sense to me. But thought the rest was pretty much like a Thursday solve (which are pretty hard for me).
Now about the Sanford Escapade, I have to side with Rex. It is a sad commentary how common adultery is these days. BUT, MIA is irresponsable for anyone, especially an elected official.

SethG said...

If you google "breastwork", the first image is of a trench. Trust me.

CPUs are physically measured in square millimeters. That's one mighty small DVD.

But really, I just wanted to say that PG, you're brilliant.

Ruth said...

I just plain liked how this puzzle came together. Had "swim" at 1A, didn't look at 71A to see how this worked into an "extracurricular group", got all the answers and then "team" and then "Ah-HAH!" Fun. Good theme density. Got "all" the strokes, though you won't see any side-stroke races. And I recognized breastwork as something I've seen before--medieval siege, anyone? Thanks to the constructor/editor!

chefbea said...

easy Thursday puzzle.

Isn't Izod still around? Or are people just wearing really old polo shirts?

Orange said...

Izod's back in the high life again. They bought the naming rights to a stadium. Is it the place the N.J. Nets play?

Norm said...

I'll defend BREASTWORK as a perfectly good historical military term. It's not even crossword-ese. Fun puzzle.

Norm said...

Actually, I'll temporize. BREASTWORKS is far more common, so "Sanford'sBackHome" may have a legitimate gripe -- and definitely does about "CPU drives/DVDBURNERS"

mac said...

Nice puzzle, but I'm sorry PG didn't treat us to the Chinese students lip-synching a Back Street Boys' song - I laugh out loud every time I see it! I think it's called "That a-Way".

I always love the idea of the Butterfly Effect.

@PG: are all parents supposed to have stop watches at these meets?

This morning my (young German) hairdresser said: "Times have really changed. It used to be that Republicans would be caught in tax fraud, Democrats in adultery. It seems to be the other way around now". I for one am so glad this man's wife stayed home.... She seems like a class act.
Completely agree with most of you: hypocrites should be called on breaking their own rules, but in general, people's private life is just that. Disappearing while in charge is not right and should have concequences.

Sanford'sBackHome said...

@Norm - actually, your temporizing my have delegitimized my gripe. Googling BREASTWORKS shows sites where people actually are interested in BREASTWORKS, shows it's part of their vocabulary, not merely a list of definitions (some replete with pictures) which is what Googling BREASTWORK does.

Charles Bogle said...

My hat's off to constructor Mr. Lampkin--alot of work went into this puzzle and it was fun, clever, nicely-themed...and gave this relative newbie (what is a TYRO?) a nice sense of Thursday satisfaction...much more so than completing today's NYT-

Had no trouble w BREASTWORKS only because I'm a New Englander and a Civil War buff...for anyone interested, many intriguing studies have been done of the all-importance of whether the Rebs or Union got to high ground first (eg, Round Tops at Gettysburg) and quickly built good breastworks. At Gettysburg it may have carried the days for the NORTH...

What, no Pete Rose doing the HRTROT today! Dave STIEB and ERNIE ELS are much more appealing, even though the US Open is "history" for this year (I did like the tennis/Wimbledon refs)

And ABE VIGODA, while again not a real noteworthy celeb, is an improvement over LAT's recent picks..(As Courteney COX is also)

@puzzzlegirl you're so right-what is JUN doing as an abbrev for JUNE?

A little known art history fact. The great Kandinsky was out for a walk one day w his protege, PAUL KLEE 59D. They saw a garter snake slithering down the country lane, first in almost linear shape, then curling up in a circle as it sensed the masters' presence.

At that point, Kandinsky turned to Klee and said, "You know, Paul, a line is just a dot that went for a walk."

Klee, dumbstruck by his teacher's insight, said: "Would you mind if I used that line?"

Kandinsky, taking Klee literally, responded, "Sure, It's yours."

So Klee got widely-known for being erudite as well as innovative, leading to an unfortunate estrangement with Kandinsky.For the rest of his ife, Kandinsky would leave a room whenever Klee's name came up, saying "He stole my line!"

Gary Lowe said...

I think JUN is fairly common, for anyone who wants standardized, 3-letter column headings. It's not like JANUAR or WEDNESDA, which you don't see often.

- Gar

Anonymous said...

@Gary Lowe - You've never seen me typ.

Crockett1947 said...

When entering dates into my genealogy database, I enter date, abbreviated three letter month, year, so today would be 25 JUN 2009. It's a standardization that leaves little room for error, as long as the person using the information knows the English names for the months.

Wayne said...

PG, you're so funny. I like your comment about the tractor and the dirtwork. Sounds like something I'd say.

I was perturbed by the breastwork clue but now that some of you have enlightened me on what it is, it no longer vexes me.

As for Sanford: what always irritates me about any one who cheats is the example it sets for the children. He's got 4 boys for God's sake! What does it say to them? I hope their mother really lets them know how this makes her feel and that maybe they should think about that as they go on to be men. I'm also glad that the wife didn't stand up there with him - that's tacky!

Finally, thanks for NOT putting up a Backstreet Boys video, PG.

Jazzbumpa said...

CPU Drive is a really bad clue, but I can't understand why anyone has a problem with BREASTWORK.