TUESDAY, July 7, 2009 — Gail Grabowski

Theme: "Is it hot in here?" — Theme answers all begin with a word that can come after the word heat in a familiar phrase.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Pointing digit (INDEX FINGER). [heat index]
  • 28A: Choice made without thinking (RASH DECISION). [heat rash — ewww]
  • 44A: Firefly (LIGHTNING BUG). [heat lightning]
  • 58A: Signal to from the pier, perhaps (WAVE GOODBYE). [heatwave]
  • 54D: Summer phenomenon, and word that can precede the first words of 17-, 28-, 44- and 58-Across (HEAT).
Crosswordese 101: How is it possible that we haven't talked about Jai ALAI yet? Well now that I think about it, I have absolutely nothing to tell you about Jai ALAI. It's some kind of game. I don't know anything about the rules or the equipment. Is it a team sport? Is it played on a field? A court? Where the heck do they play this game? All unimportant! You just have to know that you'll see it in crosswords clued exactly like it is today — 33D: Jai __ (ALAI).

[Jai alai player demonstrating the forehand whipthrow]

For me, this was a relatively easy, competent Tuesday outing with a solid (if unimaginative) theme and some fun fill thrown in for good measure. Sure, you had to grumble your way through E-MALL (63A: Online shopping mecca) and STREWED (42D: Scattered) — Ow! My head! — but those were the only clunkers that jumped out at me. And it was kind of a Two-Fer Tuesday, right? With both SEMI and RIG clued as "Tractor-trailer" (42A and 8D), ADO and FUSS clued as "Commotion" (16A and 18D), and ELAN and BRIO both clued as "Pizazz" (37A and 47D) — which, by the way, I prefer to spell with four Zs and which was the name of my high school pops choir. The only place I slowed down a little was in the SE where I entered art show for ART SALE (49A: Gallery event). I knew that 51D: Eric Clapton classic just had to be LAYLA though (which it was), so it didn't take too long to untangle that corner. All in all, a good Tuesday puzzle. What? Did someone say LAYLA? Oh sure, why not.

What else?
  • 1A: Fallback option (PLAN B). I usually like to go with "another Plan A" instead.
  • 24A: Anka song with the phrase "kiss me mucho" ("ESO BESO"). One of CrossWorld's All-Time Greatest Hits.
  • 67A: Grab the tab (TREAT). I think I like the rhyming clues even better than the alliterative clues. And the alliterative clues can be pretty awesome.
  • 6D: Civil War battleground (SHILOH). This took me a long time to get and I'm just grateful it wasn't one of the battlegrounds right here in Northern Virginia where I live. That would have been embarrassing.
  • 11D: Eschew neutrality (TAKE SIDES). I first misread this as "Eschew neutrally" and couldn't figure out what the heck that could possibly mean.
  • 12D: Refine, as a manuscript (EDIT). Ooh, I like this one! I'm not an editor, I'm a refiner.
  • 34D: D and F (BAD GRADES). I really like this answer. Snappy and in-the-language, as they say.
  • 39D: Mideast honcho (EMIR). We just talked about this on Sunday. You were paying attention, right?
  • 59D: GP's gp. (AMA). GP = General Practitioner (i.e., doctor) and AMA = American Medical Association.
See you back here Thursday!

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Everything Else — 6A: Knapsack part (STRAP); 11A: Start of a countdown (TEN); 14A: Bull rider's venue (RODEO); 15A: Like a wolfman (HAIRY); 19A: Poke fun at (KID); 20A: Co. leaders, collectively (MGT.); 21A: Pout (SULK); 22A: Acts as a shill for (ABETS); 26A: Petting zoo babies (LAMBS); 32A: Sponge gently (DAB AT); 35A: Stalk in a marsh (REED); 36A: Modern "fingerprint" (DNA); 38A: Four-on-the-floor options (GEARS); 40A: Computer pro (TECH); 41A: Fellow (LAD); 43A: Caravan refuges (OASES); 48A: More valuable to collectors (RARER); 53A: Stage of development (PHASE); 55A: Plumbing problem (DRIP); 56A: Time or Money, briefly (MAG); 57A: 20-vol. reference (OED); 62A: West of Hollywood (MAE); 64A: Places for houseplants (SILLS); 65A: Qt. halves (PTS.); 66A: "Inferno" author (DANTE); 1D: Much-watched interest rate (PRIME); 2D: Pines (for) (LONGS); 3D: Expand, as a collection (ADD TO); 4D: Born, in nuptial news (NÉE); 5D: Exec's perk at a ballgame (BOXSEAT); 7D: Fish holder (TANK); 9D: "__ you for real?" (ARE); 10D: Egyptian monument (PYRAMID); 13D: Silent assents (NODS); 18D: Commotion (FUSS); 23D: Small ammo (BB'S); 25D: Stuff in a muffin (BRAN); 26D: Lewd look (LEER); 27D: Blackjack components (ACES); 29D: Sink feature (DRAIN); 30D: It's sometimes enough (ONCE); 31D: Slangy refusals (NAHS); 32D: Computer giant (DELL); 38D: Heredity unit (GENE); 40D: Places for prices (TAGS); 43D: Remote military base (OUTPOST); 45D: Is afflicted with (HAS); 46D: Use mouthwash (GARGLE); 50D: Walk unhurriedly (AMBLE); 52D: Spew out (EGEST); 53D: Ceremonial splendor (POMP); 55D: Shoulder muscle, briefly (DELT); 60D: Delivery vehicle (VAN); 61D: Compass pt. (DIR.).


Eric said...

Good write up PG. Agree with strewed but overall a pleasant Tuesday. Jai Alai by the way is a great game to watch and bet on (much like the horses).

Anonymous said...

Lots of plumbing --- DRAIN and DRIP. Sure wanted the latter to be LEAK.

gjelizabeth said...

I also strayed off the mark with ARTSHOW but AMBLE put me right. Liked the way BADGRADES supported the theme as they often lead to summer school (as well as HEATed discussions with parents). Enjoyed your writeup and agree about STREWED. For some reason I can make it work in my head with a plural subject (They strewed flowers before the Queen), but not a singular subject (She strewed flowers before the Queen). Oh boy, now they're both looking right/wrong/maybe. Repetition can kill clarity of thought.

Charlie said...

Another JAI ALAI related clue that rears its head from time to time is "cesta," which is the basket that players use to catch and return the ball ("pelota").

Anonymous said...

Boring and unimaginative fill save for lightning bug. And, sigh, far too easy again.

Orange said...

Anon 8:07, it's Tuesday. It's supposed to be exactly this easy. It's always been this easy. If a Friday or Saturday puzzle practically fills itself in, then you can complain that it's too easy. But Mondays and Tuesdays at the NYT and LAT are expressly for easy crosswords, to help get people hooked on crosswords. If you're not focusing on speed when you do crosswords, you might try that to ramp up the excitement level on the early-week puzzles. Shoot for a record fast time and you'll have a reason to appreciate the easier puzzles.

SethG said...

I didn't like BAD GRADES, started with ART SHOW, egagged at EMALL, and learned SHILOH from Neil Diamond.

Incorrectly--the song is "Shilo".

Anonymous said...

I agree with orange. Getting the puzzles done quickly early in the week is very satisfying and makes me think I am smarter than I probably am. A great self-confidance booster! I'm now ready to move on to more important things.

Gary Lowe said...

E-gad. E-asy, but A-OK.

STREWED ... [thinking] an eyebrow-raiser, STREWN being the more common past tense. HEW/HEWED/HEWN, STEW/STEWED/STEWN (= thought over?)

What's wrong with BAD GRADES, phrasiologically speaking?

Joon said...

STREWN is a participle. STREWED is the correct past tense. "the flowers have been STREWN on the floor"; "the girl STREWED the flowers on the floor." it's all perfectly above-board. of course, for "regular" english verbs (if there's really any such thing), both the past tense and the participle are -ED, so you can't necessarily tell from the clue.

Orange said...

"The girl done drunk too much and then she strewn them flowers all over the place."

Denise said...

My father used to bet on Jai Alai in Florida, and they play it in CT where I went to college. I hear it is a fast-paced, exciting game.

I liked the summer theme. After a wonderful long weekend of sun and fun, we are back to overcast and cool. I have yet to see a LIGHTENING BUG or experience a HEAT WAVE.

Is EMALL a "real" virtual thing, or is it just a crossword answer. I shop at amazon, which sort of is, but not really.

PuzzleGirl, is there a DC area tournament?

*David* said...

Eaiser puzzle then yesterday and we get Gail G. another ND regular, there's a trend going on here I feel it. Back to the MJJ memorial service.....

Wayne said...

I also erred in putting "artshow" instead of "artsale". I made a "rash" decision and started off with "snap" decision. I actually got two of the biggies right away with "indexfinger" & "lightningbug" so I got the heat theme at the start. But then I messed up on "badgrades" by putting "lowgrades". Thankfully the crosses saved me.

As for strewed: I prefer "the flowers were strewn before the queen", it sounds better to me. I don't think I've ever used "strewed" (sounds odd to me).

mac said...

Easy but good puzzle, real Tuesday. I have just one question: what is heat lightning?

Jet City Gambler said...

I was going to mention CESTA and PELOTA, but Charlie beat me to it ...

We often had heat lightning during the summer when I grew up in Florida, it was basically far-off lightning out at sea that flashed up into the atmosphere so you could see it, but it was too far away to hear any thunder.

chefwen said...

I actually had strewen in at first and thought "well that ain't right" so fixed that and thought "that still doesn't look right" then I got DANTE and just left it alone. Also had artshow and HMO for AMA.

I agree with the easy rating but it was fun.

PG - thank you SOOOO much for LAYLA, right up there on my top ten list.

Charles Bogle said...

Very good write-up @puzzlegirl and fun links

I too enjoyed the theme because, as I may have said once before, any theme I can catch on to prior to completing more than half of the theme answers is a real treat for me!

Another nice feature of this puzzle for me was that not once was I tempted to go to google...I think all the clues were "google-proof"..good for self-confidence to get everything the "pro's" way

"West of Hollywood" was nice bit of misdirection. I put SEA. There were no other celebrity clues

Hey, after Lehman and AIG et al, aren't BOXSEATS no-no "exec perks"?

Liked SHILOH. And-how did DANTE get in here!

shrub5 said...

I'm not familiar with the word "egest" though I think I saw it in another puzzle recently. Looks like a word that is following in the manner of Email, Emag, Etail and, in this puzzle, Emall (?) but, no. One reference listed it as a synonym of defecation.....Eeewww.

I don't ever see any lightning bugs here in northern California but remember them from my youth in Kansas.

Gary Lowe said...

Ingest, digest, egest. There ain't no gettin around it, it is what it is. Kinda like empathy, symapthy, apathy - these are cards dealt from the same deck.

I had a grid crossing TETANUS (bad nuff in its own right), crossing EGESTS at the S. Couldn't be fixed, all I saw was the ANUS/EGEST cross, and it sits in my dormant file, probly rightfully so.

mac said...

@Gary Lowe: that is really funny!

@shrub5: when I see egest (I mean in a puzzle) I think vomit. Opposite of ingest. Isn't puzzling fun?

@PuzzleGirl: I played Layla while reading the comments, it was fun! Then, on the way to meet some friends, we heard really old stuff like Neil Young and Credence Clearwater Revival on some station. Nostalgia set in.....

Gary Lowe said...

@Mac - funny if you want to throw away a good theme!

Actually, now that I think of it, I've since obtained some new word lists... I might make of a go of that quandrant again.

Thanks fer tickin' me off ... :-)

Gary Lowe said...

... "Quadrant", actually, and a hint to the reason why this man's puzzles hit the floor early, at times ...


PJB-Chicago said...

Jai alai is clued as "Basque sport" or "Basque handball" in French wordgames (crosswords,etc), supposedly originating in Spain, moving on to Cuba and then Miami, in the 1920s.
The ball (pelota) is covered with goatskin, so you might not want to smell it when it's wet, so they say!
Still popular in South Florida..
Those are the funnest facts I "spewed" all day--(or, 'spewn' by me all this week!
My dad, a New Englander, called grades "marks," but I think that term died off.
Good write-up,as always,PG!

Sfingi said...

The silent letters were in shaded squares in my paper, but I wish they had been symmetric to something.

Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy were the superstars of operetta. Many of the tunes were very catchy.
Your two music videos were super.

There's another UN agency, ILG (International liaison Group) which could slow you down.

Since ill is one syllable, technically iller is correct, but sure sounds odder than it should