MONDAY, Aug. 17, 2009 — Alex Boisvert

THEME: OOK x 2 — three theme answers feature two "-OOK" words apiece

Very loose but reasonably enjoyable theme. Sometimes, similar sounds (esp. kOOKy ones) are enough to hold a puzzle together. All three theme answers are grid-spanning fifteens — would have been nice to have a little more 'zazz in the grid, given how little the theme restricts non-theme fill here, but it is Monday, after all, so perhaps there's only so much fancy stuff one can do before the puzzle starts to drift into mid-week difficulty territory. My only complaint about the puzzle is the utterly substandard spelling of AHCHOO (44A: "Bless you!" elicitor). According to the cruciverb.com database:

  • ACHOO — 94 grid appearances
  • AHCHOO — 7

Now, that's not terribly surprising given that there's going to be far less call for 7-letter words generally, let alone ones that require the "HCH" combo. But still, I have a revulsion to all fill that can be spelled multiple ways. See the dreaded "ball game" ONE O CAT / ONE A CAT, and then all Latin plurals, e.g. NOVAE (22D: Exploding stars). The Latin plural thing is an acceptable nuisance, actually; much less grating than the arbitrary adding of an "H" to a word that isn't really a "word" to begin with, but an onomatopoeic spelling of a bodily sound.

"K" is my favorite letter of the alphabet, by far, and so I was happy to see a clue for BOND (48A: Agent 007) in a puzzle the theme of which was "OOK." I think "OOK" will be my handle when I become an INTL spy (17A: Like flights from the USA to Eur., e.g.), hanging out with CHIC ladies (7D: In fashion), playing KENO (8D: Popular bar game) and drinking OUZO (40A: Anise-flavored liqueur), while hunting down the criminal mastermind at the heart of the illegal ORCHID trade (25A: Corsage flower).

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Gave additional consideration (TOOK a second LOOK)
  • 36A: Falsifying accounting records (COOKING the BOOKS)
  • 49A: In any way possible (By HOOK or by CROOK)

Crosswordese 101: EKGS (34D: Heart tests: Abbr.) — electrocardiograms. Why is there a "K" in there? Who knows? Apparently this test is sometimes abbreviated "ECG," but I rarely if ever see that abbrev. In puzzles, it's "EKG" (almost) all the way. "K" is just @#$#ing hard to resist (hence my future spy moniker). The main thing to remember with EKGS is that they are not EEGS. EEG = electroencephalography. In short, EKGS measure the electrical activity of your heart, EEGS measure the electrical activity of your brain.

What else?

  • 31A: '70s-'80s consumer electronics giant (AIWA) — first of all, I never knew they were a "giant." I don't think they were a "giant" in this country. Second of all, it's only recently that I learned that they are officially a bygone giant. I was sure they were still around in the '90s. Aha, scant research tells me that AIWA was bought by Sony, but only fairly recently (2002) ceased being a separate company. Here's the very sad last line of the Wikipedia entry on AIWA: "As of 2009, the Aiwa website still exists for some territories/regions, but it contains some broken links and blank pages. In other regions, such as Europe, it redirects to a page on the Sony site stating that the Aiwa website has closed down"
  • 1D: Slightly (A BIT) — I had A TAD. Like the ACME / APEX dilemma, you get the first letter and now you've got yourself a dilemma... I also initially tanked AIR DRY, entering AIR OUT instead (9D: Hang on a clothesline).
  • 37D: Prohibited (NOT OK) — ... hmmm. I think this answer (or clue) is NOT OK. Answer is too slangy for the clue.
  • 4D: Ice cream treat (MILKSHAKE) — mmm, good. Can't / don't drink them anymore, as keeping fatness at bay is a priority as I enter middle age. But they are good. Shakes at my college's main eatery were legendary. So thick you had to eat them with a spoon.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Sandler of "Funny People" (ADAM); 5A: Do a pre-vacation chore (PACK); 9A: Musicians' org. (ASCAP); 14A: Island tourist destination in Indonesia (BALI); 15A: 1975 Wimbledon champ Arthur (ASHE); 16A: Words of compassion (I CARE); 17A: Like flights from the USA to Eur., e.g. (INTL.); 18A: "Birthday suit" (SKIN); 19A: Vacation time, for short (R AND R); 20A: Gave additional consideration (TOOK A SECOND LOOK); 23A: Winter toy (SLED); 24A: Bosses (around) (ORDERS); 25A: Corsage flower (ORCHID); 28A: __ Jones's locker (DAVY); 30A: Detox locale (REHAB); 31A: '70s-'80s consumer electronics giant (AIWA); 32A: Sharp cheese (BLEU); 36A: Falsifying accounting records (COOKING THE BOOKS); 39A: "Even __ speak ..." (AS WE); 40A: Anise-flavored liqueur (OUZO); 41A: More than medium (LARGE); 42A: Days at an inn (STAY); 43A: Loving touch (CARESS); 44A: "Bless you!" elicitor (AHCHOO); 48A: Agent 007 (BOND); 49A: In any way possible (BY HOOK OR BY CROOK); 55A: Pine (for) (YEARN); 56A: __ stick: bouncing toy (POGO); 57A: Dust Bowl migrant (OKIE); 58A: Slyly derogatory (SNIDE); 59A: Letter-shaped fastener (T-NUT); 60A: Paris-__ Airport (ORLY); 61A: Less loony (SANER); 62A: Trig ratio (SINE); 63A: Catholic service (MASS); 1D: Slightly (A BIT); 2D: "Book 'em, __!": "Hawaii Five-O" catchphrase (DANO); 3D: Type of sax (ALTO); 4D: Ice cream treat (MILKSHAKE); 5D: Didn't flunk (PASSED); 6D: Made an inquiry (ASKED); 7D: In fashion (CHIC); 8D: Popular bar game (KENO); 9D: Hang on a clothesline (AIR DRY); 10D: Burn badly (SCALD); 11D: Tippy craft (CANOE); 12D: Intense passion (ARDOR); 13D: Company car, expense account, etc. (PERKS); 21D: Suspect's "I was home all night," e.g. (ALIBI); 22D: Exploding stars (NOVAE); 25D: Shamu, for one (ORCA); 26D: Vintage cars (REOS); 27D: Chuck wagon fare (CHOW); 28D: Scatterbrained (DITZY); 29D: Dr. Seuss's "Horton Hears __" (A WHO); 31D: Water in Juárez (AGUA); 32D: Conference table site (BOARD ROOM); 33D: Handed-down stories (LORE); 34D: Heart tests: Abbr. (EKGS); 35D: Puts to work (USES); 37D: Prohibited (NOT OK); 38D: Mel who voiced Foghorn Leghorn (BLANC); 42D: Oklahoma athlete (SOONER); 43D: Toon Wile E., e.g. (COYOTE); 44D: Bottomless depth (ABYSS); 45D: "Laughing" critter (HYENA); 46D: IHOP or Borders (CHAIN); 47D: Nomadic tribe (HORDE); 48D: Shooter with small shot (BB GUN); 50D: Elects (OPTS); 51D: Rice-A-__ (RONI); 52D: Gumbo veggie (OKRA); 53D: Cook's array (OILS); 54D: Florida islets (KEYS).


Sfingi said...

This was my personal best in speed. Either I'm getting good, or it was extremely easy.
The only Q I had was 40A ouso or ouzo
crossed by 28A ditsy or ditzy.

That band is too early for breakfast, although I'm getting better at putting up with the yunguns' noise. (We always think our noise is better.)

Joon said...

the K in EKG comes from german. the doctor who first thought of the idea of measuring the heart's electrical activity was some german guy. i think.

Anonymous said...


jeff in chicago said...

If only there was a Terry Pratchett clue! OOK! OOK!

Easy puzzle. Very Monday.

PARSAN said...

@Joon - Yes. Willem Einthoven (Nobel winner) published his findings in German . Electrode is elektrode in Getman, thus EKG but also can be ECG. Fun, easy puzzle. Wanted "kooky" and "ooky" from the "Addams Fam-a-lee(bop bop)".

shrub5 said...

Smooth sailing on this puzzle. I had DITSY first but then fixed it as I knew OUZO had a Z.

Regarding the K in EKG:
Elektrokardiogramm is the Dutch/German spelling. The first practical EKG machine was invented by Willem Einthoven, a Dutchman.

A friend and I each had AIWA compact stereos bought about 2 years apart. Both had "fatal" breakdowns after relatively little use. I received a letter from AIWA before mine broke down offering a settlement of $50 or repair of a defect. I took the $. About a year or two later I had many problems with the CD tray/ejector and the volume control (it often got "stuck" on VERY loud.) So based on this sample of 2, I don't think their product was very good.

I learned something new from the clue Nomadic tribe = HORDE. Previously thought horde was just a mob of people. I got 37D) NOTOK from crosses and thought what's a notok? I must have something wrong...no to k?.... d'oh....NOT OK!

mac said...

Nice puzzle, pretty smooth. And there is Orly, someone wanted it instead of Oslo yesterday... R and R almost got me, haven't seen it in a while. The "oils" were clued unusually, but correct. I have several different cooking oils. Just thought pots and pans were in order.

Anonymous said...

I have an Aiwa walkman-type player since the late 70's and it still works!

PARSAN said...

Oh nuts!! All those "OOK's" has caused me to be singing this all day --- "They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're altogether ooky, the Addams Family"! Where are Rodgers and Hammerstein when I need them?

mac said...

I guess Orly-man was a cluevoyant (Joseph's term!).

choirwriter said...

@mac: "RANDR" messed me up too. "Ran Dr."? What the heck is a "Ran Dr.", and what does it have to do with a vacation? Doh.

Another quick and easy Monday. Is there some hidden theme with all the B's as well as the K's? Someone's initials? A secret code I don't know about?

GLowe said...

.... does this mean theres going to be a NOTOK principle? Something about the implicit formality of a clue vs answer?
"Frowned upon" : NOTOK :: "Prohibited" : VERBOTEN

PurpleGuy said...

@shrub5- had the same DITSY answer, first, as you, until OUZO(yummm) showed up.
Agree with you also re.-HORDE. Never knew it could be clued as nomadic tribe.

Guess my EKG would show that this old brain learned something today.

Really fun puzzle. Thank you Mr. Boisvert.

Excellent writeup, as usual, Rex ! OOK man !

chefwen said...

One of the first things I filled in was sneeze which I then changed to achoos which I had to change AGAIN to AHCOO. Grrrr! That and changing novas to NOVAE were my only goofs.

KJGooster (Cluevoyant) said...

@mac: Yeah, that was me trying to fit ORLY into the grid a day early. But we'll see how cluevoyant I am tomorrow: today I tried SNEEZE instead of (ugh) AHCHOO, and EDAM (even though it isn't particularly sharp) for BLEU. Gotta like my chances for EDAM making an appearance tomorrow, though.

Charles Bogle said...

Agree w @mac, nice fairly smooth Monday. And Rex, I'd have spelled it AACHOO. And AIWA was no "giant". Enjoyed LORE and especially enjoyed "Toon Wile E.," since nine years ago we named our family puppy "Wiley" after the Toon coyoted. Unfortunately our marvelous standard poodle as been quite ill all summer. Thought he was improving this weekend but today is big set-back. Here's hoping the crossword menmtion gives him a spark
Enjoyed: LORE

Greene said...

In American Doctor Speak, ECG is considered the correct parlance for an electrocardiogram. And yet...I don't know any colleague who refers to it as anything but an EKG. Certainly the EKG abbreviation is considerably older and more traditional than ECG, but I have always clung to EKG because ECG just sounds too much like EEG. I'd like to think that hard "K" sound helps alleviate confusion.

This was a fun, easy puzzle and seemed a whole heckuva lot more like a Monday puzzle than today's NYT entry. I really like the phrase COOKING THE BOOKS. Wonder what the background of that phrase is?

Orange said...

I hear ya, Greene: I'm going with "We spell it ECG, which is pronounced 'EKG.'"

Sfingi said...

Hah! Colbert's Wikiality web has him interviewing "specialist" Orly Taitz on the front page.
Another coincidence?

PS. For Geezers, only. Remember Little Orley?

Guy Who Did Tomorrow's NYTimes said...

@KJGooster - If you can pick race horses, give me a call

chefwen said...

@CHARLES BOGLE - Sure hope you dog gets better soon.

mac said...

@Charles Bogle: there are few things more miserable than a sick child or pet.... Hope he gets better.

Alex said...

My only complaint about the puzzle is the utterly substandard spelling of AHCHOO

Ha! I always spelled it "Ah-choo" and thought that ACHOO was a lazy crossword writer's way of writing it. But maybe I read too much Calvin and Hobbes as a kid.

If that's your only complaint, I guess I should take that as a compliment.

embien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
embien said...

A Monday puzzle with no three-letter words? Isn't that unusual?

Jill said...

I'm new to crossowording, but is it that no has just mentioned, or is it really okay that "Dano" was misspelled in this? It's spelled with two Ns. Is this not important?? It gave me a bit of a hangup because obviously "Danno" can't fit into four boxes.

"Book 'em, Danno."

Orange said...

Jill, you're most likely right. On the Cruciverb-L mailing list a few years ago, there was a vigorous discussion of the evidence for each spelling, and DANNO won out by virtue of a scriptwriter's memoir and the star's website both using the two-N spelling.

DANO can always be clued as soap actress Linda Dano.