SUNDAY, August 2, 2009 — Nancy Salomon

Theme: "At the Y" — Familiar phrases have a Y (or two) added to them to make new wacky phrases which are clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Conference call? (MANY-TO-MANY CHAT).
  • 36A: Skittish about almost everything? (WORLD WARY).
  • 49A: Cheer from an ass? (SUPPORT BRAY).
  • 81A: Successful cabbies? (BUSY DRIVERS).
  • 95A: Thick stick-in-the-mud? (DENSE FOGY).
  • 114A: Overt play for sympathy? (OPEN PITY MINING).
  • 16D: Hamlet's cry after finding a gem? (AY THERE' S THE RUBY).
  • 43D: Editor's mixed bag? (GOOD COPY BAD COPY).
Crosswordese 101: For a puzzle this big, there sure wasn't a lot of crosswordese to choose from. And that's a good thing! We've already covered AGAR (40A: Ice cream thickener), ÉPÉE (78A: Weapon with a bell guard), EELY (80A: Hard to grasp), and EDO (6D: Shogun's capital), so I guess today we talk about cheese. EDAM, clued today as 31D: Cheese tray choice, is a mild yellow cheese from the Dutch town of the same name. It generally comes in a red wax coating. (I just learned that if the cheese has been aged more than 17 years, it's coated with black wax instead of red — but I've never seen that fact appear in a puzzle clue.)

I really enjoyed this theme and the puzzle in general. BUSY DRIVERS was a little jarring to me because the original phrase and the resulting phrase, at least as clued, are so similar. And it's a shame the Hamlet quote had to start with "Ay." None of the other theme answers have Ys in the original phrase. But come on ... GOOD COPY BAD COPY? That's an awesome theme answer. And I found the fill consistently good. No real clunkers, just a long list of good, solid words and phrases — WOE IS ME (21A: Melodramatic cry) and PASS GO (76D: Turn a corner, in Monopoly) the sparkliest of the bunch.

The most trouble I had was over in the Carolina region where TFR. (98A: Relocation: Abbr.) just wasn't making any sense to me. I was pretty sure ARTERIAL (86D: Main street) was right (even though the answer seemed more like an adjective than a noun) and 88D: Pine distillates had to be TARS, right? Right? TFR., here, is an abbreviation for transfer. That's pretty ugly. But, honestly, if that's the biggest problem this puzzle has, it's a good puzzle day.

What else?
  • 30A: Severe spasm (THROE). Can there be just one throe? I'm not complaining, just asking.
  • 33A: Joe's con man buddy in "Midnight Cowboy" (RATSO). Saw the character's whole name, Ratso Rizzo, in a puzzle recently, which was awesome.
  • 35A: Corp. alias (DBA). Doing Business As.
  • 42A: Makes true (ALIGNS). True in the sense of, well, properly aligned. Not in the sense of not false.
  • 68A: Skelton's Kadiddlehopper (CLEM). Before my time, but I must have seen it in a puzzle before because it sounded familiar.
  • 70A: Fast times? (LENTS). Tricky clue! Times when people don't eat (i.e., fast).
  • 71A: Lazy (OTIOSE). This is a great word that I have never used but will start using ... today.
  • 91A: Like fairy tale stepmothers (EVIL). Yeah, and what's up with that?
  • 99A: Feature of Goliath, but not giants (HARD G). I'm embarrassed that I didn't see this one coming. Was this one tough for you guys too? Or have you been paying so much attention to this blog that none of this tricky stuff phases you anymore?
  • 111A: Polo of "Meet the Fockers" (TERI). She was really good as Rebecca in the awesome, far-too-short-lived "Sports Night," which I was mildly obsessed with.
  • 123A: Cordage fibers (ISTLES). You'll learn more about this when you get to our Advanced Crosswordese courses.
  • 14D: Wall Street org. (ASE). I assume this stands for American Stock Exchange, except it doesn't look like that organization ever goes by that abbreviation. But I don't see anything else it might be (Association of Space Explorers? Australian Screen Editors? No and no.)
  • 18D: "Jump the shark," e.g. (IDIOM). The kids decided the other day after dinner that they wanted to play charades. So we're all taking turns coming up with phrases and acting them out. When PuzzleHusband's turn came up he decided to act out "Jump the shark." Do you have any idea how long it takes to explain "Jump the shark" to 8- and 10-year-old kids? Dad: "See there was this show that took place in the '50s. And there was this really cool guy who always wore a leather jacket named Fonzie..." Kids: "Fonzie? That doesn't sound very cool." Dad: "That's not important. The important part is that he rode a motorcycle...."
  • 38D: Skip along the water (DAP). I've only seen this word one other time and that was in a puzzle. I didn't know it then and I didn't remember it today.
  • 46D: King Zog's capital (TIRANA). I do not know what this means. Okay, this is funny. I thought this must be some kinda "Star Trek" or "Lord of the Rings" reference, but it turns out there actually was a King Zog in Albania from 1928 to 1939.
  • 61D: Ray's opponent (ORIOLE). Baseball!
Everything Else — 1A: Downfall (DEMISE); 7A: Religion founded in the Punjab (SIKHISM); 14A: Valuable strings (AMATIS); 20A: Undermined (ERODED); 22A: Agree to unite (SAY I DO); 25A: Involve (ENTAIL); 26A: Off the shelf (SOLD); 27A: Followers of zetas (ETAS); 28A: Arduous journey (TREK); 31A: Stud site (EARLOBE); 34A: Loads (REAMS); 44A: Censor's deletion (OATH); 45A: Secrecy metaphors (CLOSETS); 48A: Dramatic beginning? (MELO-); 53A: Math ratio (SINE); 55A: Gathering clouds and such (OMENS); 57A: State stat (AREA); 58A: Team with a star logo (ASTROS); 60A: Hardly boastful (MODEST); 62A: Charlie Brown's creator (SCHULZ); 64A: Much of Egypt (SAHARA); 65A: "Odyssey" enchantress (CIRCE); 66A: Wavy lines, in comics (ODOR); 73A: Bumps up (RAISES); 75A: Wagner works (OPERAS); 77A: Get going (PROPEL); 79A: SeaWorld star (SHAMU); 85A: Chum, e.g. (BAIT); 89A: Collectors' targets (DEBTORS); 92A: Atlanta suburb (SMYRNA); 94A: Former Sony brand (AIWA); 102A: Western star with a whip (LARUE); 104A: Scorecard listings (ROSTERS); 106A: Period of note (EPOCH); 107A: Layered do (SHAG); 108A: Cameo shape (OVAL); 112A: Guarded bars (INGOTS); 118A: Passed gradually (SEEPED); 119A: Soft, in a way (LENIENT); 120A: Cooling-off period? (ICE AGE); 121A: Dionysian attendants (SATYRS); 122A: City on the Elbe (DRESDEN); 1D: DNC part: Abbr. (DEM.); 2D: Subject to being wiped out (ERASABLE); 3D: Way around Disneyland (MONORAIL); 4D: Pastoral piece (IDYLL); 5D: Put on the table, say (SET DOWN); 7D: Police crisis acronym (SWAT); 8D: Isle of Mull neighbor (IONA); 9D: "Songs in A Minor" album maker Alicia (KEYS); 10D: Sot's syllable (HIC); 11D: 1987 Beatty bomb (ISHTAR); 12D: Wiseacre (SMARTY); 13D: Parcels (out) (METES); 15D: Chanted words (MANTRAS); 17D: Princess's topper (TIARA); 19D: Pump bottoms (SOLES); 24D: Dutch artist Jan van der __ van Delft (MEER); 29D: Eucalyptus muncher (KOALA); 32D: Political VIPs (BOSSES); 33D: Gung-ho (RAH-RAH); 37D: Cuts (LOPS); 39D: Intl. commerce group since 1995 (WTO); 41D: Some El Prado works (GOYAS); 45D: Hot item (CRAZE); 47D: Bar belts (SNORTS); 50D: Second Commandment preposition (UNTO); 51D: Fighting ender (TRUCE); 52D: Nautical time units (BELLS); 54D: Those, in Tijuana (ESAS); 56D: Attorney general under Reagan (MEESE); 59D: Capital north of Sacramento (SALEM); 60D: Like British bishops (MITRED); 62D: All lathered up (SOAPY); 63D: Turned on the waterworks (CRIED); 65D: Handle things (COPE); 67D: Become decent? (DRESS); 69D: Former "Last Comic Standing" host Jay (MOHR); 72D: Jostle (ELBOW); 74D: Unruffled (SERENE); 79D: Fitness magazine (SELF); 82D: Range mostly in Russia (URALS); 83D: OR hookups (IVS); 84D: Go head to head (VIE); 87D: Encroach (upon) (INFRINGE); 90D: More like best buds (TIGHTER); 93D: Occult figures (MYSTICS); 95D: Cloth dealer, in Cambridge (DRAPER); 96D: Debs in politics (EUGENE); 97D: Air France destination (ORLY); 99D: 1960 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Carol (HEISS); 100D: Sleep disturbance (APNEA); 101D: Creator of an immortal 1852 lexicon (ROGET); 103D: "Get __ of yourself!" (A HOLD); 105D: Basic principle (TENET); 108D: Page with essays (OP-ED); 109D: Wall climber (VINE); 110D: Ltrs. in a letter (ATTN); 113D: Tom Hayden's '60s org. (SDS); 115D: Grafton's "__ for Noose" (N IS); 116D: Early 11th century year (MII); 117D: Some appliances (GES).


Unknown said...

Good morning PG! I thought I'd see more comments by this time in the a.m. Perhaps it's not just me who can't get on Cruciverb?? Had to do the puzzle on the LAT site - hate that interface BTW.

At any rate, a pretty good Sunday puzzle-maybe a tad easy, though. No stumbles whatsoever, just a steady run and before I knew it I had finished. OK, yes, it did take me a couple of passes until HARDG sunk in. And I'm totally with you on DAP - I think it appeared a few months ago, it was new to me then and new to me today. :-)

Thanks for the fun write-up!

Rex Parker said...

I too thought King Zog was from outer space.

Fine puzzle.


Anonymous said...

Yup, another good one!

Anonymous said...

I loved GOOD COPY BAD COPY. I laughed out loud. :o)

Carol said...

Another good puzzle and great write-up. For some reason I thought King Zog might be from a comic strip like Alley Oop. Had to Google this one - who knew?

Otiose was brand new to me, but I like it! Sounds as if you could say this to someone's face and they might think it's a compliment. "My you're otiose today!"

gjelizabeth said...

An enjoyable Sunday. This took a lot of chipping away for me (a word here, another there, corrections etc.) but I did finish without help. DAP is new to me and I'd like an example of how it would be used. Do dragonflys dap among the water lilies? OTIOSE is also new as well as King ZOG.
Mistakes that slowed me down:
pearls for AMATIS;
gas for GES;
sayyes for SAYIDO;
nymphs for SATYRS.
One clue that doesn't sit quite right with me is 118A "Passed gradually". Although I can imagine using seep as a metaphor for time passing slowly, it would require a preposition i.e. to say "The hours passed gradually", I would say "The hours seeped by", rather than "The hours seeped".
I've been sitting here looking at this comment for a couple of minutes trying to find a sentence in which I would be able to substitute "passed gradually" for "seeped". I did come up with "The air passed gradually out of the tire" but it also needs a preposition and looks like a pretty strange sentence to me anyway. Or maybe I need more (or less) coffee.

shrub5 said...

I had the same thoughts as Carol, RP and PG about Zog. And even as I found out he was "real", I figured this guy was around in the Middle Ages or so...but no! Here's the scoop from my desktop dictionary:

"Zog I (1895-1961), Albanian statesman and ruler; prime minister 1922-24; president 1925-28; king 1928-39; full name Ahmed Bey Zogu. His autocratic rule resulted in relative political stability; he went into exile when the country was invaded by Italy in 1939".

Anyway, back to the puzzle. I chuckled at SUPPORTBRAY and AYTHERESTHERUBY. They're wacky all right! I have always seen the word spelled as fogey, but I see FOGY is an acceptable variant.

I started in the NE with 14A) STRADS and so at 14D) SEC seemed OK. When I wanted to enter TIARA and IDIOM, I realized I had to switch to the other valuable strings AMATIS.

I remember Red Skelton's characters CLEM Kadiddlehopper and Freddy the Freeloader from '50s TV. Pretty funny stuff to me at the time. He used to crack himself up (along with the other actors) in mid-sketch.

Denise said...

This was a fun, relaxing puzzle which was pretty quick and easy, but still interesting. I liked the theme answers.

I wondered why I didn't know the word DAB.

I also couldn't figure out TRF. Where is this abbreviation used?

Any day is a good day when I see a photo of Jimmy Smits.

Ruth said...

PG, if the photo you posted indicates a liking for Josh Charles, you should try the first season of "In Treatment," in which he has a significant role. Was glad to see him--after "Sports Night" Peter Krause and Felicity Huffman really took off (not that that's a bad thing) but JC seems unaccountably obscure. . .

Anonymous said...

Have never heard of DAP in this sense, but is (or was) used among jazz musicians as an abbreviation of dapper as in "He is so dap!". Ah, another time, another life. Good puzzle.

Joon said...

well, i'm weird, but that's not news to me. i knew king zog (though i put TIRANE down before changing the last letter), but not CLEM or DBA or ASE or even (this meaning of) DAP. isn't it also the word for the so-called "terrorist fist jab"?

gjelizabeth, both SEEPED and {Passed gradually} require a preposition (they're intransitive).

"the water seeped through the floorboard"
"the water passed gradually through the floorboard"

100% equivalence.


Well I guess all crossworders have their good days and their bad days... today was a bad day for me, puzzlewise. If ISHTAR (11d) was the movie bomb of the 80's, then I feel this puzzle is the crossword bomb of the 2000's.
Lots of crappy fill and clues that were done "stupidly", like:
- REAMS (34a) for "loads"
- TFR (98a) for "relocation"
- SEEPED (118a) for "passed gradually"
- HIC (10d) for "sot's syllable"
- Dap (38d) for "skip along the water"
- NIS (115d) for "N is for Noose"
- MII (116d) for "early 11th century year"
Ugh ! These are terrible clues.

Baffled by "Debs in politics" (96a) EUGENE and "Hamlet's cry after finding a gem?" (16d) AYTHERESTHERUBY, otherwise I got most of the puzzle right, after a long arduous struggle.

Well, even awful puzzles offer some redeeming value... a new word to add to my vast vocabulary (well maybe it's half vast):
OTIOSE (71a) means lazy.
So today was an otiose Sunday for me. Also, I learned about King Zog of Albania.

I thought the most clever clue was "Feature of Goliath, but not giants" (99a) HARDG.

The Corgi of Mystery said...

Pretty easy LAT Sunday except for the CLEM/MOHR crossing, which completely eluded me. Also found it a little weird that 2 (non-symmetrical) theme answers had more than one extra 'y', but maybe that's just me being nitpicky.

KJGooster said...

Fairly steady solve for me, but rather entertaining. Thought I was being clever and had LAMBENT instead of LENIENT for 119A: "Soft, in a way." And TFR I never would have known but for the crosses.

"Sports Night" was just tremendous. Sparkling dialogue, and a perfect cast from top to bottom.

Anonymous said...

I immediately put down Tirana as King Zog's capital (46 down). How did I know that? I believe there was a comic strip some time ago that had that character and his kingdom. I've been searching through my cartoon and comics library to find out if that is true. No luck yet.

I had a lot of fun with this puzzle, and as always, I learned some things that will make for new synapses in my brain.