FRIDAY, August 28, 2009 — Elizabeth A. Long

THEME: S-ircumcision — initial "S" in familiar two-word phrases is cut off, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

Drop-a-letter theme, with the bar raised ever-so-slightly by the fact that the letter is dropped in every instance from the beginning, and from in front of a "T." Ideally there would be no other "ST" words in the puzzle, but there's STILT (9D: Clown's accessory). No big deal. All in all, an OK puzzle. Adequate, reasonably well filled, but nothing I'll remember in another few hours. Highlights of the puzzle are a pair of long Downs: EBENEZER in the NE (11D: Charles's miser) and TOMAHAWK in the SW (34D: Western weapon). The latter was especially tough for me to get, as I had the "T," then the "TO," then the "TOM," and still couldn't make sense of it. TOMMYGUN? Wrong genre.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Insect's working hours? (TICK SHIFT)
  • 24A: Seaman who saw it all? (TAR WITNESS) — my favorite wrong answer of the day: before I had completely grasped the theme, I wrote in AYE WITNESS. That *should* be a theme answer in some puzzle, somewhere.
  • 34A: Split end? (TRESS FRACTURE)
  • 46A: London museum's hidden camera locations? (TATE SECRET)
  • 53A: Where two-wheelers aren't allowed? (TRIKE ZONE) — my favorite theme answer of the day.

This was pretty easy for a Friday, but (in addition to getting stopped short at TOMAHAWK) there were a handful minor struggles. Started with FTS instead of PTS in the NW (FTS = valid abbreviation for "free throws"), so that meant that 1D: Rotten (PUTRID) refused to come into view without a little hacking and rewriting. Beginning of TAR WITNESS did not come easily, and I had ALEF for ALIF to start (25D: First Arabic letter). Thought the clown's "accessory" was his SMILE for a little while (9D: Clown's accessory), though IRENE was IRENA (19A: Peace goddess) and thought ALONZO was ALONSO (44D: Former NBA star Mourning). All very minor stumbles. KAREN Corr is my new name of the day — surprised I didn't learn about her through her last name, which seems far more crossword-friendly than her first (52A: Former #1 woman pool player Corr).

Crosswordese 101: URI (14A: The Rams of the NCAA's Atlantic 10 Conf.) — University of Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Rams play in the Atlantic 10 Conf. I really wish there were some "R" word in "Atlantic 10 Conf." — the alliteration would help me remember "Rhode Island" a lot better. URI also gets clued from time to time as a spoon-bender, referring to "mentalist" URI Geller, an Israeli man who conned many people into believing he could manipulate matter using only the power of his mind. Very famous in the 1970s.

What else?

  • 31A: One-named model on many romance novel covers (FABIO) — if you haven't seen this, well ... you haven't seen it:

  • 31D: Five-time Emmy winner Tina (FEY) — dang, five? That's a lot. What are they for? Let's see ... She won 3 in 2008 for writing, producing, and acting in "30 Rock." Then one for producing "30 Rock" in 2007 and one for writing for SNL in 2002. She's bound to win more. Love her.

See you Monday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: NBA stats (PTS); 4A: Meccan, e.g. (SAUDI); 9A: Silver fish (SMELT); 14A: The Rams of the NCAA's Atlantic 10 Conf. (URI); 15A: Popular place to go downhill (ASPEN); 16A: Something not done (TABOO); 17A: Insect's working hours? (TICK SHIFT); 19A: Peace goddess (IRENE); 20A: Tools with teeth (RAKES); 21A: Where users meet (ONLINE); 23A: Composer Stravinsky (IGOR); 24A: Seaman who saw it all? (TAR WITNESS); 28A: __ Moines (DES); 29A: Scout's concern (TALENT); 30A: Site of bedlam (ZOO); 31A: One-named model on many romance novel covers (FABIO); 32A: Attention-getting sounds (AHEMS); 34A: Split end? (TRESS FRACTURE); 38A: Young Aussie hoppers (JOEYS); 39A: Plumbing outlet (DRAIN); 40A: 911 response org. (EMS); 41A: Tiny African threat (TSE TSE); 43A: Gal __ (PAL); 46A: London museum's hidden camera locations? (TATE SECRET); 49A: __ Alto (PALO); 50A: Must (HAVE TO); 51A: Malice (VENOM); 52A: Former #1 woman pool player Corr (KAREN); 53A: Where two-wheelers aren't allowed? (TRIKE ZONE); 57A: __ Corning, maker of Fiberglas (OWENS); 58A: Gave in (CAVED); 59A: Israeli weapon (UZI); 60A: Do figures, in a way (SKATE); 61A: Doglike scavenger (HYENA); 62A: Whole lot (TON); 1D: Rotten (PUTRID); 2D: "M*A*S*H" system (TRIAGE); 3D: Perverted types (SICKOS); 4D: Impudence (SASS); 5D: Burning issue? (ASH); 6D: News letters (UPI); 7D: Rapper Mos __ (DEF); 8D: Back from a trip, say (IN TOWN); 9D: Clown's accessory (STILT); 10D: Sausalito's county (MARIN); 11D: Charles's miser (EBENEZER); 12D: Like the road in a classic ballad (LONESOME); 13D: __ the line (TOE); 18D: Flooey lead-in (KER-); 22D: Little louse (NIT); 24D: Bills for drinks (TABS); 25D: First Arabic letter (ALIF); 26D: Ask for more (REORDER); 27D: Scrubbing brand (SOS); 29D: Soviet news agency (TASS); 31D: Five-time Emmy winner Tina (FEY); 32D: End in __ (A TIE); 33D: Attila, notably (HUN); 34D: Western weapon (TOMAHAWK); 35D: Interstate feature (REST AREA); 36D: Museo display (ARTE); 37D: Fracture treatment (CAST); 38D: Air Force One, e.g. (JET); 41D: Asian holiday (TET); 42D: It's often served with soda (SCOTCH); 43D: End successfully (PAN OUT); 44D: Former NBA star Mourning (ALONZO); 45D: Chinese menu offering (LO MEIN); 47D: Olympics contest, e.g. (EVENT); 48D: Horse __ (SENSE); 49D: Dispensable candy (PEZ); 51D: Hindu sacred text (VEDA); 52D: Decks in a ring (KOS); 54D: Light line (RAY); 55D: "__ been meaning to tell you ..." (I'VE); 56D: "Jeopardy!" great Jennings (KEN).


Anonymous said...

Love this site! Our paper in Jax, FL, has the same daily puzzle but without the theme names until Sunday making solving a bit ticklish. Do puzzlers really know all those artists, composers, authors, etc. or is there a bit of Googling going on? I admit I have to use it.


PARSAN said...

OMG!! Thank you Rex for the Fabio/Ex-Gov. video that made me laugh out loud! Only in America! A great way to start a rainy Friday. Really liked the theme and caught on to it quickly; the puzzle seemed too easy for a Friday, but it was so much fun that was O.K. I worked from the bottom up so TOMOHAWK was right there. Five good "S-less" answers.

PARSAN said...

Oh yes -- I got it but could't figure it out -- RESTAREA? What is a RESTAREA? Aha! REST AREA!! Doh!

bullmktman said...

Hey ... where's the "everything else" section?????

Rex Parker said...

Hey ... the grid is right there. With all the answers and everything. Further, the "Everything Else" section is on its way. Lastly, you're welcome.


Anonymous said...

The clue for CAST, an answer crossing TRESS FRACTURE, is "Fracture treatment." That's one more fracture than we need to see. Where's TRIAGE when you need it?

Orange said...

@POGHM: We bloggers make up the theme names for Monday through Friday. Those aren't part of the puzzle, which is why you (and everyone else) don't see them in your newspaper.

I had not seen that video with Blago, my ex-governor. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

Good one! Thanks Elizabeth and Rex!

GLowe said...

Agreed. Two fractures, one cast

Good theme but kinda easy for Fri.

TOMAHAWK is great. In all the dusters I've seen, the tomahawk kills INSTANTLY, especially when you get it between the eyes from point-blank.

Jeffrey said...

Wow you found the one Action Comics cover I've never seen.

Coming soon to a B-Movie screen near you: LONESOME PUTRID SICKOS

Anonymous said...

A good puzzle for a Friday, thanks! My favorite was tress fracture, it's kind of cute.

Carol said...

I liked this puzzle. Especially some of the longer words. I'm not a great fan of multiple word answers except for the theme answers.

Managed to get through this one with no Googles by solving crosses. For me on a Friday - that's a real bonus!

Thanks for the write-up.

shrub5 said...

I had a lot of fun doing this one. Like @PARSAN, I started at the bottom -- KEN Jennings just jumped out at me. Figured out the theme at TRIKEZONE (cute) and that helped with the rest of the theme answers. I LOL'd at TICKSHIFT. And I always like to see an NBA clue (two even!) as they are almost certain gimmes. I had RESTSTOP first before fixing it to RESTAREA -- that and PAYOFF before PANOUT were my only writeovers.

@Rex: I just don't know what to say about the Blagojevich video. I'm speechless. No, wait -- I DO have something to say: how did that guy EVER GET ELECTED? I worry about this country.

Joon said...

two additional points about URI: one, the school is the alma mater of lamar ODOM, to whom rex has a personal connection regarding the NYT crossword. so maybe that'll help you remember. two, the other cluing avenue for URI is the canton in switzerland (URI is the full name of the canton, not an abbreviation). URI is/was the home to, among others, wilhelm (william) tell.

i found this pretty easy for a friday; in fact, i found it easier than yesterday's, much easier than wednesday's, and even slightly easier than tuesday's. but it was still enjoyable.

how would you clue AYE WITNESS? {Response to the captain's query of "Remember that Harrison Ford cop flick?"} of course, in crossworld, the star of witness was lukas HAAS, and ford is really only relevant for HAN SOLO and the occasional INDY.

*David* said...

Very smooth puzzle, I had only one erarse where I put EMT in for EMS. I picked up the theme immediately which made it all that much easier. It seems like this week, Wednesday really was humpday and its a TGIF puzzle day. I got a chuckle seeing FABIO, he is so LA. We need more Angelino-centric fill, to irritate the foreigners like ANGELYNE or KING OF BIG SCREEN (15 letters!).

Orange said...

And URI never gets clued as an abbreviation for "upper respiratory infection."

The Corgi of Mystery said...

Liked the puzzle. As a SCOTCH drinker, though, I have to say that I find SCOTCH and soda a crime against humanity.

Scott said...

Pretty easy friday puzzle, but an enjoyable one. I liked the theme material a lot, especially TRESSFRACTURE (aside from CAST intersecting as mentioned above). Glad that the URI clue did not include the words "Rhode Island" in the clue as it did earlier in the week in some puzzle I did (Newsday?)


I'm a little disappointed with Elizabeth Long for constructing another ho-hum "drop off the first letter" theme puzzle. Not only that, but many of the clues were pretty hackneyed: e.g., IGOR, DES, EMS, TSETSE, TON, ASH, NIT, TABS, TASS, HUN, TET, IVE, UZI.....on and on of the same old puzzle stuff.
Shouldn't a Friday puzzle be a lot more challenging? Cripes, there wasn't even a new word to learn today. If I can complete a Friday puzzle in less time than I eat my breakfast, then it isn't really worth doing.
Well, I guess I did learn one thing. With the idiom "TOE the line", I've mistakenly been writing it "TOW the line".
And I kept trying to put GITA (The Bhagavad Gita) in 51d for a Hindu sacred text, which I believe is more sacred than VEDA.


Where else, but in America, can you have an indicted criminal ex-governor introduce Fabio, impersonate Elvis, write books for profit, have his wife on a reality show, and become a radio DJ on WLS?
And when he goes to jail he'll be even more successful.
Yes indeedy, corrupt American politics has become great entertainment.

Anonymous said...

It seems every time I can do a Friday puzzle, I come here and it is universally declared "easy for Friday". Hmph. Was I the only one bothered that DRAIN was clued as a plumbing outlet rather than an inlet?

Burner10 said...

@Carol me too - easy or not its Friday and months of blog study and practice have paid off in my UPI - unmistakeable puzzle improvement. Thanks and happy Friday.

Anonymous said...

Finished this in under 5:00 using the LAT puzzle page, and wasn't even trying to speed solve. So yea it was very easy for a Friday, and the theme was Monday/Tuesday worthy at best rather than an end of the week puzzle. On to the next puzzle as I've already forgotten everything in this one.

choirwriter said...

Rats. Like Carol and Burner, I thought it was my massive improvement in puzzle solving that made this puzzle so easy -- heck, I didn't even need to Google anything! Then I got here and realized it just really WAS an easy puzzle. My only saving grace is that I had no write-overs in this one.

I agree that this makes up for the much more difficult puzzles earlier in the week.

The video of Blagojevich was...disturbing. Eww,

Favorites were "venom" and "Ebenezer." with "tickshift" being the best Aha! moment.

Charles Bogle said...

Had exact same reactions as @Carol, @Burner and @Choirwriter--very happy to make way through a Friday puzzle and respectfully disagree w "too easy" characterization. Still don't "get" TRESS FRACTURE." Liked TRIKEZONE, OWENS (brought back memories of lawsuits w/them in Toledo), SMELT, KER for "Flooey lead-in" (took me a while). Nice to get through this pleasing puzzle particulary since wasn't able to get past second base yesterday-

the bugmeister said...

Arthropodology 101.....re erroneous clue 17A:

●Ticks are arachnids, not insects.
●Ticks belong to the class Arachnida which also
includes spiders, mites and scorpions.
●Insects, a very diverse group which includes
butterflies, ants, bees, beetles, etc., make up the
class Insecta.
●Almost all adult arachnids have four pairs of legs;
insects have only three pairs.
●Arachnids have no antennae or wings.

"Bug" is generic-enough that it could substitute for the word "insect."

PARSAN said...

@CB--"split end" refers to hair-TRESS, (s)TRESS FRACTURE, the bane of runners.

Bohica said...

Blagojevich and Fabio, how random is that? I wonder if there'll be conjugal visits? @John: "corrupt American politics" is redundant.

I too had RESTSTOP for RESTAREA my only write over, but that's what the Interstate signs out west say, as in "Next Rest Stop 60 Miles".

Thought it was a fun but easy puzzle for Friday. Liked TOMAHAWK and TRIKEZONE. Not much else to get excited about though.

Anonymous said...

To make a hilarious moment in American history even more so, that was actually a Fabio impersonator Blagojevich was introducing. I guess the real Fabio couldn't be bothered to do something so.. absurd; irony, right?

Charlie said...


Glad I'm not the only one who took exception with this cluing, and I'm a bit dismayed that nobody else mentioned it until well past 11 a.m.

I'm surprised the likes of Rich Norris let that slide.

chefwen said...

Easy or not, this was a hell of a lot more fun that the NYT puzzle, which kicked my sorry, little, butt from here to Detroit.

Sfingi said...

I had whacko instead of 3D sicko because I know nothing of sports (crosses 1A, 14A).
However, actually heard of 44D Alonzo Mourning (couldn't tell you the sport), but Corr is new to me. I'll remember it, since a police officer named Corr was recently murdered up here in a jewelry heist.

Corning Glass, Upstate NY, nearish Cornell, worth visiting.

All of a suddy, a spell check is on! Wow!

The only Moss I know is Moss Hart. I assume Mos Def is a HipHopper?
Thanx for the Geller memory.
Just recently learned that hyenas are closer to cats than dogs. Both are in a suborder of Carnivore called Feliformia. Boy, they're ugly! or is it ugli?

This xword, again easier than Wed.

Q: Do some readers get the theme given with the puzzle?

Orange said...

@Sfingi: I answered your last question near the top of this thread (7:37 am). In short: Nope.

Mos Def is also an actor who studied experimental theater at NYU. He was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a heart surgery pioneer in Something the Lord Made a couple years back. More info at Wikipedia.

Sfingi said...

@Orange Thanx - I just read up on Mos Def (Most Definitely) and Dr. Vivian Thomas. This would have been an acceptable movie when I taught in NYS Corrections.

Also forgot - I read Brainiac by Ken Jennings - I haven't been interested in novels recently. It was remaindered, but I recommend it - he describes his experience in detail. He's a super nerd.

mac said...

I liked this puzzle, thought the theme worked fine. My favorite word was Ebenezer, somehow it looks longer in the grid that now I type it.

What I remember most of the hyenas I saw when in South Africa was their smell, incredibly bad, and the fact that the females are bigger than the males.

Sfingi said...

@mac Very interesting. Now I remember why I was looking up hyenas at the time. We have many skunks here, with all the vacant houses, and I was trying to figure which family they were in and whether they were grouped with other stinkers! But I did not know hyenas were one of those critters, til now!

something looks familiar said...

@rex, orange or pg:
Last Saturday's puzzle write-up is being erroneously displayed for August 28.

Orange said...

@something: Whoops! My bad. I copied last week's post as a formatting template, pasted it into the new post box, and accidentally hit return but then forgot to look and see if it actually published that. It's gone now.

Dick said...

This was the first time I ever finished the Friday puzzle without a writeover or Google. Then I got here and learned it was easy. So much for my fragile ego.