THURSDAY, July 2, 2009 — Pete Muller

Theme: INNER EAR (38D: Balance organ that's literally found in the answers to starred clues) — theme answers have the word EAR hidden in them.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: *1979 Sister Sledge hit (WE ARE FAMILY).
  • 30A: *Look for clues (NOSE AROUND).
  • 46A: *"Fatal Attraction" costar (ANNE ARCHER).
  • 57A: *Military treatise written by Sun Tzu (THE ART OF WAR).
  • 11D: *Decorators' suggestions (AREA RUGS).
"Balance organ" is kind of a weird description, but I knew immediately what it meant, so I guess it's okay.

Crosswordese 101: The most important thing to remember about ARAL is that it's a sea — hence today's clue (64A: Inland Asian sea). That way you won't get it confused with URAL, which is a river (also a mountain range, but it's the river you're more likely to get confused with the sea). Other things to remember about ARAL: it's landlocked, it's shrinking, it's near the Caspian, and it's on the border of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

This is going to be super quick today. I've had a couple really long days and I'm exhausted. Seems like all I do is drive my kids back and forth — it must be summer! I will say, though, that spending time with my kids during this summer break has been pretty fun so far, and I really didn't expect that. I expected it to feel more like no breaks from the child-rearing drudgery but, as it turns out, my kids are pretty fun to hang out with. Or maybe it's just my new meds. Whatever it is, I'm madly in love with my kids today and am looking forward to the rest of the summer. Check back with me again in August. I might have changed my tune by then.

The puzzle! Let's talk about the puzzle! Pretty easy, only a couple things slowed me down. For example, the random (and completely unfamiliar to me) geographical clues. I got both PORTO ALEGRE (14A/26A: City in southern Brazil) and ASSAM (33A: Indian state bordering Bhutan) entirely from crosses. And I've never heard of Jon CRYER (66A: Jon of "Two and a Half Men"). I originally went with an S at the end of TIBIAE (8D: Leg bones) — both plural versions are used in crossword puzzles. The last letter I filled in was the P at the cross of TYPEE (44A: Melville's first novel) and PRAT (45D: Rear end). I just couldn't remember the Melville title, although I'm sure I've seen it in a puzzle or two. And PRAT? Who knew? I always thought the PRAT in PRATfall meant "fake" or "deceptive" or something like that. In fact, it just means, well, "rear end."

What else?
  • 10A: Shakes indicating affection, perhaps (WAGS). Saw this bumper sticker just today: "Wag more, bark less."
  • 19A: Longtime pageant host Parks (BERT). Wasn't sure of Parks was Bert-with-an-e or Burt-with-a-u.
  • 36A: Clue on a weapon (PRINT). Sometimes I'm just too detailed for my own good. I read the clue, looked at the grid and thought "Darn! Fingerprint won't fit!"
  • 65A: "__ Rock": 1966 hit (I AM A).

  • 2D: Shredded (TORE UP). I was tricked by this one. Thought "shredded" was an adjective so entered torn up. But it's a verb.
  • 6D: Tries (HAS A GO AT). Anyone parse this as "has a goat"?
  • 13D: Retd. Air France fliers (SSTS). Ladies and gentlemen, Exhibit B A for why you need to pay attention to the Crosswordese 101 lessons! We just talked about this one two days ago!
Sorry to blog and run but I think I'll have time to check in on the comments tomorrow so maybe you'll hear more from me there.

Everything Else — 1A: Lieu (STEAD); 6A: Start of a 10-Down address (HTTP); 15A: Operatic number (ARIA); 16A: Diamond stats (ERAS); 17A: Robin's weapon (ARROW); 18A: Kemo __ (SABE); 23A: Trailers, e.g. (ADS); 24A: Fanatic (NUT); 25A: Delay (LAG); 28A: Hormel product (SPAM); 35A: Cheap cigar (STOGIE); 39A: Bellicose Norse god (TYR); 41A: Actress Kudrow et al. (LISAS); 42A: Justice replaced by Samuel in 2006 (SANDRA); 48A: "Gosh darn it!" (RATS); 52A: Toyota until 2006 (CELICA); 53A: Come to the plate (BAT); 55A: Pasture (LEA); 56A: Wall St. purchase (SHR); 60A: React to sad news (WEEP); 62A: 1975 Wimbledon winner (ASHE); 63A: Meat in the oven (ROAST); 66A: (CRYER); 67A: Thatcher, politically (TORY); 68A: Street asset, briefly (CRED); 69A: Wiesbaden's state (HESSE); 1D: Gives rise to (SPAWNS); 3D: Problms in ths clue (ERRATA); 4D: Origin suffix (-ATOR); 5D: Wooden connector (DOWEL); 7D: Lode carrier (TRAM); 9D: Spanish stews (PAELLAS); 10D: Blogger's milieu (WEB); 12D: Fragrant flower (GARDENIA); 21D: They may be diehards (FANS); 22D: Seuss's king of the pond (YERTLE); 27D: More like a well-made s'more (GOOIER); 29D: "Deal or No Deal" host (MANDEL); 31D: Rocker Patty who married John McEnroe (SMYTH); 32D: __ Moines (DES); 34D: The Bosporus, e.g. (STRAIT); 36D: Non-commercial TV ad (PSA); 37D: South American spread owner (RANCHERO); 40D: Reuben holder (RYE BREAD); 43D: Antiquated (ARCHAIC); 47D: Roman emperor (CAESAR); 49D: Unfailingly (ALWAYS); 50D: Flirts with (TEASES); 51D: 1964 Nobel Prize decliner (SARTRE); 54D: Spelunker's aid (TORCH); 56D: Hit hard (SWAT); 58D: Sighed line (AH ME); 59D: Warning to the gallery (FORE); 61D: Practice (PLY).


Crockett1947 said...

Good morning, everyone. I misread Air France as Air Fiorce and didn't remember that we had any military SSTS. Lots of geography, and fairly obscure at that, today. Well, DES MOINES isn't that obscure.

The crosses helped me solve many of those unknowns and the proper names.

Can't believe that I'm the first comment. Everyone taking a really long weekends?

Have a glorious and safe 4th!!

Crockett1947 said...


Carol said...

I didn't understand 68A:Street asset, briefly = CRED. Credential? Credit? Credibility?

Pretty good puzzle for Thursday.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Jon Cryer (son of actress Gretchen Cryer) is a very good comic actor. He'll always be remembered by fans as Duckie in Pretty in Pink with Molly Ringwald, a coming of age classic. As Alan, he is a funny, nerdy foil to Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. Street cred (credibility) is a hip-hop term. Rather easy puzzle for a Thursday.


I found this to be a rather easy puzzle, but thanks to the crosses... the theme words were hard. Wasn't till I got to INNEREAR (38d) that I figured it out. I should have sooner because I have an inner ear disorder and I have to take meds for vertigo (ironic, since I'm a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan). I had to "NOSEAROUND" a bit today, but I did get it done without Google-aid.
The Bosporus I thought was some kind of sailboat, so for 34d I kept trying to fit in some sailing term.
Puzzlegirl picked a good Crosswordese 101 word: ARAL.
That and a few others in this puzzle occur over and over-- ARAL, ARIA, ASHE, and ASSAM are all popular A-words.
Three words to always remember from Melville: TYPEE (44a),Omoo, and Mardi... one of them WILL be in a puzzle this month, I'm sure.
Ironic that just 2 days ago we were talking about SSTS (13d) and there it is again today. Goes to show you that all constructors have a similar vocabulary.
I love YERTLE (22d). Almost all parents can relate to reading Dr. Suess books to their kids. We even gave our kids a Suess book for their college graduations.
"Oh, the Places You'll Go!" (ISBN 9780679805274) is an excellent book written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss.

Rex Parker said...

I once witnessed Jon CRYER dancing alone in the entryway of Kate Mantilini's restaurant (to Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?") while his date used the restroom. Circa 1995. Also, same restaurant, same night, Mike Myers was in a booth w/ some friends, wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jacket.

had PROW for PRAT, PROW being the *opposite* of [Rear]. Did the TIBIAS w/ S and had TOSS AROUND at 30A until I realized there was no such thing as diehard FATS. Started with STARTS instead of SPAWNS. Still, very doable, despite never having heard of PORTO ALEGRE.


*David* said...

I seemed to make a bunch of mistakes which slowed me down. I also simply couldn't remember items that normally would have been 1-2-3. For the life of me I couldn't connect SANDRA as the chief justice that Samuel replaced. I usually have a puzzle like this a week so I know tomorrow's will be a breeze.

Matt said...

Long time reader, first time commenter.

I enjoyed today's puzzle, though it seemed a little too easy for a Thursday. (Maybe this means I'm getting better.) I originally had Patti SMYTH as Smith, so that messed up that one, especially considering I had never heard of TYR before.

I had also seen SARTRE clued similarly a week or two ago in a different puzzle, so that helped immensely. I didn't remember it right away but was able to plug it in after getting a few letters.

Denise said...

I loved the Simon and Garfunkle -- especially the hairdos & outfits on the audience.

Pratfalls -- falling on your prat.

eileen said...

I really thought this was a super easy puzzle for a Thursday. Maybe Mr. Norris should have used this one on Monday instead of that aweful one that most of us didn't like.

Gareth Bain said...

Learned Cryer recently from a BEQ blog puzzle, but misremembered it as Dryer so it wasn't as helpful as it could've been...

shrub5 said...

paella, s'mores, Reuben, Caesar, roast, nut.....
I guess I'm hungry.
(oh, I deleted Spam)

Fun puzzle -- many thanks to Pete Muller and to Puzzle Girl.

Rob said...

2D - yes, confusing as the word 'shredded' can be simple present, as 'I shredded the document' i.e.I tore it up, or simple past,as 'I shredded the document yesterday' i.e it was torn up yesterday.

chefwen said...

@Rex, I made all the same mistakes as you did. As my friend used to say "similar minds think alike".

Ah yes SPAM, one of the favorite foods on the islands, people buy it by the case when it's on sale and Longs. Personally, I think it's gross. They serve it with the Loco Moco breakfast, which is also disgusting.

Orange said...

@chefwen: I gotta remember that one. "Similar minds think alike." Ah, yes, the Philippines/Japan/Hawaii fondness for Spam. Did you know Hormel's Spam plant in Austin, Minnesota, got so many Japanese tourists, Hormel opened the Spam Museum there?

Wayne said...

@Matt: Welcome to the chat.

I found this puzzle easier than Mon & Tue. It just seemed to click with me. My favorite clue/answer was "shakes indicating affection, perhaps". I couldn't figure it out until the end but when I did it made me laugh.

I got fooled by six down, "Tries". I put "has a goal", which fit but I didn't get the real answer until I looked here on the blog. I have a book with a list of Norse gods but for some reason it left out "Tyr" so I thought it was "Lyr" (even though it wasn't on the list either).

mac said...

A little easy for a Thursday, but I enjoyed doing it. I have only heard of Typee and Omoo, two of those books I have known for years and never read..... Don't scare me with that Mardi, and Tyr for that matter. Never saw it in a puzzle until twice in the last week.

@Rex: you pulled an Andrea! Did you talk to them?

@Orange: that's amazing about Spam. Had my husband laughing about the Japanese tourists in Michigan!

Welcome, Matt. You seem to be doing great!

James said...

Well, Puzzle Girl, *I* liked the pictorial reference for Crosswordese 101 (ARAL), even if no one else seemed to appreciate it. I had a "this must be" thought - and it was!

Jan said...

How wonderful that you are enjoying your children's company - that is how it's supposed to be! Take a look at The Unchooling Unmanual if you want to have this kind of enjoyment all the time!