FRIDAY, Jul. 10, 2009 — Ken Bessette

THEME: STOUT (64A: Heavy brew, and a clue to this puzzle's theme) — "ST" has been taken "OUT" of familiar phrases, resulting in wacky new phrases, which are clued "?"-style.

This is a variety of theme that you will see every so often, maybe several times a year — constructors make use of words that have letter strings"OUT" or "IN" inside them by asking us to imagine said words as directions. I'm waiting for my GOUT puzzle. [Presidential pooch?] => ROVER CLEVELAND. I'm actually finishing up a puzzle built around this same basic concept. I conceived it, and constructed it, and then found that it had been done before ... but my theme answers were completely different, so I went ahead and clued it anyway. PuzzleGirl helped with the cluing. Maybe we'll release it for free of this site in the near future. Anyway, back to today's puzzle. As I said, the concept is not original, but as with any "wacky phrases" puzzle, the only thing that matters is the punch of the wackiness. No one's going to care about concept originality if you can make your theme answers sing and dance. I'd give today's answers a B overall, with the first one, RANGE BEDFELLOWS, getting a flat A (and if you've ever had a class with me, you know I don't give flat As very often). The rest of them are fine, but after RANGE BEDFELLOWS, there's really nowhere to go but down.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Ennis and Jack in "Brokeback Mountain"? (RANGE BEDFELLOWS)
  • 25A: Etchings? (ART FROM SCRATCH)
  • 42A: Gerontologists? (AGE TECHNICIANS)
  • 56A: Tried to get into Guinness by gobbling hot dogs? (ATE FOR THE RECORD)

This is a very chopped-up grid, resulting in lots of little 3x4 and 4x4 sections, which in turn results in a lot of not terribly interesting fill. 6+letter fill is pretty nice. Especially like the full title on "THE BIRDS" (9D: 1963 thriller set in Bodega Bay), and the colorful words EYEFUL (43D: As much as one cares to see) and SKEWER (5D: Barbecuing aid). There's at least a dozen good contenders for today's Crosswordese 101 segment, but I'm going to have to go with the old-fashioned, but persistent and versatile ... ABIE!

["Emancimotherf@#$inpator of the slaves!"]

Crosswordese 101: ABIE (10A: "_____ Baby": "Hair" song) — I learned ABIE a long, long time ago under the harsh tutelage of one Eugene T. Maleska, who edited the NYT crossword until his death in the early '90s. When I learned it, however, it was not typically clued via "Hair" (at least not that I remember) but through another famous Broadway production: "ABIE's Irish Rose." Maybe the profanity and the general naked hippie freak-outedness of "Hair" didn't suit the sensibilities of the notoriously pedantic Maleska. Or maybe he used "Hair" clues for ABIE and I just forgot. All I know is that I learned (permanently) the "Hair" song "ABIE Baby" in the Will Shortz era.

What else?:

  • 6A: Map showing easements (PLAT) — you're welcome.
  • 15A: Doth own (HATH) — stupidly had HAST here for a while.
  • 32A: NE New Jersey city (LODI) — also a wine ctr in central CA.
  • 13D: Lanchester of "Bride of Frankenstein" (ELSA) — haven't seen this ELSA in a long time. Usually it's the lion.
  • 45D: Robert of "The Sopranos" (ILER) — crosswordtastic. We'll get to him eventually.
  • 50D: Sewing case (ETUI) — classic
  • 55D: Ore seeker's entrance (ADIT) — classicker. Where's ASTA? This really feels like a crowd he'd hang out with.

See you Monday.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Helps a certain hacker, say (ABETS); 6A: Map showing easements (PLAT); 10A: "__ Baby": "Hair" song (ABIE); 14A: Raven's sound (CROAK); 15A: Doth own (HATH); 16A: Item in a belt (TOOL); 17A: Ennis and Jack in "Brokeback Mountain"? (RANGE BEDFELLOWS); 20A: Inning trio? (ENS); 21A: Magic prop (WAND); 22A: Sheepish response? (BAA BAA); 23A: Plane starter? (AERO); 24A: "Sometimes __ a pleasure": Byron (SINS); 25A: Etchings? (ART FROM SCRATCH); 31A: Baba __: Gilda Radner persona (WAWA); 32A: NE New Jersey city (LODI); 33A: Big ref. (OED); 35A: Prevaricator (LIAR); 36A: Puts away (STOWS); 38A: Magazine contents (AMMO); 39A: Job application no. (SSN); 40A: "Let it be" (STET); 41A: Pirate of fiction (SMEE); 42A: Gerontologists? (AGE TECHNICIANS); 47A: Landscaping shrubs (YEWS); 48A: Minnesota's St. __ College (OLAF); 49A: Sister of Venus (SERENA); 52A: "The Witches of Eastwick" actress (CHER); 53A: Musician's deg. (MFA); 56A: Tried to get into Guinness by gobbling hot dogs? (ATE FOR THE RECORD); 59A: Outdoor feast (LUAU); 60A: Old timepiece (DIAL); 61A: Peninsula bordering Israel (SINAI); 62A: Ones place (TILL); 63A: Short cut (SNIP); 64A: Heavy brew, and a clue to this puzzle's theme (STOUT); 1D: Lot, sometimes (ACRE); 2D: Wheat husk (BRAN); 3D: Big times (EONS); 4D: Phone __ (TAG); 5D: Barbecuing aid (SKEWER); 6D: Prodigy (PHENOM); 7D: Fawcett's "Charlie's Angels" successor (LADD); 8D: DOJ bureau (ATF); 9D: 1963 thriller set in Bodega Bay (THE BIRDS); 10D: Words after a holdup (AT LAST); 11D: Knucklehead (BOOB); 12D: Major caucus site (IOWA); 13D: Lanchester of "Bride of Frankenstein" (ELSA); 18D: Prefix with meter (BARO-); 19D: It's part of Maui County (LANAI); 23D: Yonder (AFAR); 24D: Tub (SCOW); 25D: Punching gadgets (AWLS); 26D: Mrs. Gorbachev (RAISA); 27D: Country sound (TWANG); 28D: Animal that sleeps upside down (SLOTH); 29D: One might appear many times in a long list (COMMA); 30D: Studs (HE-MEN); 34D: Stag mates (DOES); 36D: Wine openers (STEWARDS); 37D: Private eyes (TECS); 38D: "That's not happening!" ("AS IF!"); 40D: Pool worker (STENO); 43D: As much as one cares to see (EYEFUL); 44D: Of little use (NO HELP); 45D: Robert of "The Sopranos" (ILER); 46D: Gentle touch (CARESS); 49D: Store (away) (SALT); 50D: Sewing case (ETUI); 51D: Unlike a figment (REAL); 52D: Trendy tea (CHAI); 53D: Like 45s (MONO); 54D: Lady of the Haus (FRAU); 55D: Ore seeker's entrance (ADIT); 57D: Cookie container (TIN); 58D: Loc. __ (CIT.).


imsdave said...

As a (very) novice constructor, and only for my own edification, is it OK to have STET/STENO/STOWS/STEWARDS/ATLAST in a puzzle with this theme?

I liked the puzzle a lot, but was just wondering.

STOUT should have been clued as 'Rex of mysteries' for my buddy Doug and as a mini shoutout to today's host.

Anonymous said...

Loved the wacky phrases!

Sfingi said...

Athena, Artemi- No Serena!

Greene said...

I love the slangy rhyme and rhythm of ABIE-baby, but I never really learned the phrase until I started doing crosswords. I've sat through many productions of Hair and I never seem to notice this song which is little more than a quick throwaway in the second act. I'm seeing Hair again on Broadway in about 2 weeks in all it's naked hippie glory, so I'll have to pay more attention when this number pops up.

I've never seen Abie's Irish Rose, but it's got street cred as a Broadway "classic" so I would not object to seeing it in the puzzle (still do see this cluing from time to time).

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle even though I was slow to pick up on the theme answers. Agree that RANGE BEDFELLOWS is well nigh impossible to top, but ATE FOR THE RECORD has a bizarre kind of tanginess to it. ART FROM SCRATCH is cute and AGE TECHNICIANS is kinda dull.

I am really learning my crosswordeese lessons: ETUI, ADIT, and PLAT were all instant gimmies. Thanks Rex!

Charlie said...

From the "you learn something new every day" files: I had no idea that Lanai is part of Maui County. I always thought each island was its own county. I guess Lanai, and possibly others, like Ni'iahu, are too small to justify their own county governments.

Denise said...

Thanks for the SNIP from HAIR --

I liked the puzzle, the theme, and the write up --

A nice start to the weekend.

Greene said...

Oh, I forgot to mention...for those interested in such things. The new Broadway Cast recording of Hair is absolutely fantastic. Galt MacDermot's score has never sounded quite so good before. Check out this Abie Baby, or better yet Aquarius. Awesome singing.

*David* said...

WIth all the isolated boxes in this xword it took a bit more time. I like the open wide blocky grid that allows more interesting fill.

My only hang-up was by the ABIE/ELSA/TOOL crossings. I got the theme after filling out one theme and getting STOUT which alowed me to quicken the pace and my piecemeal approach up until then. Seemed to be more old crosswordese in this puzzle like ETUI and ADIT.

Orange said...

@imsdave, I answered your question over at Diary of a Crossword Fiend, where I mentioned it because it's a good question. My take: Ideally, yes, there wouldn't be other STs left in the grid. I don't think it's a fatal error to include them, as the theme entries are considerably longer than everything else and their clues are all question-marked. But it's perhaps not as elegant as if the fill had meticulously avoided any STs aside from the STOUT entry. Not sure how other people would answer your question, Dave.

gjelizabeth said...

Before I figured out the theme I had "jar" for 57D which caused me to try shoehorning in "outatejoeychestnut". I spent a bit of time wondering if he had a nickname that would fit.
I had fun with this
@imsdave: I'm not a constructor and just an ordinary solver, but I liked all the "st" words here. It's feels like they all got squeezed out of the theme answers and had to go somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Rangebedfellows was a great start, but I didn't really care for the rest of the theme entries.

Seemed like there were a lot of crosswordese entries, and I thought the cluing was off in several places.

Decent puzzle overall.

Joon said...

my opinion: for the vast majority of themes, including this one, i simply Do Not Care how (or even if) the non-theme fill relates to the theme. so i don't mind seeing STs elsewhere. what i would have objected to, at least somewhat, is the presence of an ST in a theme answer that didn't get excised. like, i dunno, if a theme answer were ICKS AND STONES. that would be a pretty bad theme answer for other reasons, but my point is, if you're taking "ST out" of the theme answers... you have to take it out of the theme answers, and STONES still has one. ICKS AND ONES would be better (at least in that regard; the fact that it makes no surface sense whatsoever is definitely a point against it).

a week after the 4th of july, i would have liked to see ATE FOR THE RECORD clued in relation to kobayashi/chestnut/nathan's in some way, but i liked the puzzle's theme just fine. i stumbled through the solve, though; i had {Phone} TAP instead of TAG and couldn't work out what was going on with RANPE___. it also didn't help that i was looking for a metric prefix like NANO- instead of a subject prefix like BARO- for meter. now that i notice it, i'm not loving the cross of two prefixes in BARO-/AERO-.

ABIE, and also LADD and CHER are names that i can recognize, but they were not instafills for me from today's clues. in retrospect, i think i did know that CHER was in "eastwick"; and i certainly have seen "ABIE baby" before, but "___ Baby" looked like it might end up being a two-word partial like HE'S A or maybe BE MY. the LADD clue (cheryl, i guess?) for whatever reason made me think of the recent remake movie, rather than the original show (about which i know basically nothing). but LIU and BARRYMORE didn't fit, and i couldn't come up with DIAZ until just now (and it wouldn't have worked with any of the crossings anyway).

Gary Lowe said...

If you have a good idea for a theme, and sweated over 3 or 4 good symmetrical entries, and you're chomping at the bit to fill the grid and confirm your cleverness ... Merle's already done it, probably in a 21X21.

PuzzleGirl said...

Yep, the theme definitely rang some bells for me, but that's not a criticism. I liked this one. Now whenever I see "STET" I'm going to have "Let It Be" stuck in my head. Took me too long to come up with Cheryl LADD. I knew the Cheryl part, but was thinking LINN? LIND? It worked itself out though. Good puzzle.

Orange said...

Oh, by the way—I should be the one to make a GOUT puzzle:

BIG TOE HURTIN' (12): [Sign of gout]
ORTHOPEDIC BOOT (14): [What relieves X-Across]
DON'T EAT SEAFOOD (14): [Dietary advice, part 1]
OR ORGAN MEATS (12): [Dietary advice, part 2]

Not quite the concept Rex was talking about, but I happen to find it quite timely.

shrub5 said...

Ah, "Hair". I saw it in San Francisco in 1969. It was the first professional musical theater for me. Those were the days! (grooovy)
@Greene: Thanks for the two tracks from the new "Hair" CD. Also many thanks for all the info you include in your posts about theater, both current and historical. I love reading them.
Well, I learned there is a Lodi in New Jersey in addition to the one in California about 25 miles from where I live. (I wonder which is the one I don't want to be stuck in?)
I had STOW for SALT (away), PERI for BARO (meter) and BOZO for BOOB. I also stumbled into ENOUGH for 43D) As much as one cares to see, before getting EYEFUL. I had a lot of fun with this clever, fresh puzzle.

Wayne said...

I just couldn't get this one and had to give up. My crosses were screwed up and so I was unable to figure out the theme. But thanks to you all at least I can see where I messed up.

chefwen said...

One of my first fills was STOUT, and I thought "cool, a puzzle about beer", being from Milwaukee originally, we know all about beer. Wrong again! Then I remembered that we had something similar not too long ago, it might have been in the NYT; so figure it out I did. My only write over was SALT over save.

There is a Lodi in Wisconsin also, I think it means peaceful valley.

Really liked ART FROM SCRATCH.

SethG said...

There are a lot of LODIs.

I liked the theme at first. Then when I finally got RANGE BEDFELLOWS, the last theme entry I got, I actually liked it a bit less--that entry's so fantastic that I sorta regretted that the others weren't as good. So I sorta had Rex's experience, just in reverse.

Orange, I don't know what to say.