THURSDAY, August 20, 2009 — Todd McClary

Theme: Earth Puzzles Are Easy — Theme answers have the word earth hidden in them.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Dispel hostile feelings (CLEAR THE AIR).
  • 28A: "Maude" actress (BEATRICE ARTHUR).
  • 44A: "Please tell me you're not serious" ("I DIDN'T HEAR THAT").
  • 26D: Scarcities (DEARTHS).
  • 53A: "The Lord of the Rings" region, and a hint to the shared feature of 17-, 28- and 44-Across and 26-Down (MIDDLE EARTH).
See now, this is what we're talking about. If theme answers are going to have something in common it helps if there's a reason — a unifying idea — behind it. Today our unifying idea is "Middle Earth." The word earth is found somewhere in the middle of the theme answers. Not exactly in the middle, mind you, which I'm sure some people find troubling, but it works for me. I even like the phrase "I didn't hear that," although to me the meaning is more along the lines of "Because of the position I'm in, if I heard you say that I would have to turn you in / fire you / arrest you / kill you, so let's just say I didn't hear it." Yes that's the kind of clue I write. Why, no, I haven't ever had a puzzle published, why do you ask?

Crosswordese 101: I believe every member of the Addams household has appeared in a puzzle at one time or another, but the most popular is, of course, Cousin ITT (46D: Cousin from an "altogether ooky" family). Okay, this is weird. I just looked up all the Addams Family names in the cruciverb.com data base and every single one of them appears at least once clued in relation to The Addams Family. Except ... Wednesday. The word Wednesday does not appear in the data base at all. Not even clued as a day of the week. Every other day of the week is there. But not Wednesday. What the heck is going on there?? Oh wait, I lied. Also no Pugsley. But still: no Wednesday?! Wait, what were we talking about again? Oh yes, Cousin (which I always mistype "cousing") ITT. ITT is occasionally clued as the Former communications contractor / giant / conglomerate, but most of the time words like Addams, cousin, or hairy will tip you off. Previously covered crosswordese appearing in this puzzle includes: APISH (1A: Simian), YENTL (35A: Streisand cross-dressing role) and LAHR (6D: Portrayer of an Oz feline). Just in case you feel like having a little review today.

I'm getting super excited about Lollapuzzoola 2, the crossword puzzle tournament in New York this weekend. Rex and I will be movin' and shaking'. Eatin' with some people over here, drinking' with some folks over there, possibly — finally! — spendin' some time workin' toward comin' through on our threat of makin' his blog pretty. The dropping the g thing is getting old, isn't it? Sorry about that. Anyway! If you'll be in New York this Saturday and you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for? If it's anything like last year's event, all kinds of puzzle geeks (like me! ... and you!) will be there having a blast and eating what I believe will be crossword-inspired snacks. That's right: Oreos! You really shouldn't miss it.

But what about the puzzle?
  • 6A: Server's tool (LADLE). I can never remember if it ends in -LE or -EL.
  • 21A: Sound quality? (SANITY). As in, having a sound mind.
  • 26A: RFK Stadium soccer team (D.C. UNITED).

  • 30A: Ancient spell caster (MAGE). Ooh, the singular. Me no likey.
  • 59A: Nuevo __: Peru's currency (SOL). Money named for the sun. That's cool.
  • 63A: Raid targets (DRUGS). I had pests at first.
  • 9D: Retiree's abundance (LEISURE). PuzzleHusband would have clued this "Stay-at-home mom's abundance." Because he has No Idea.
  • 11D: Where it originally was (IN SITU). Latin!
  • 27D: Chess move you can only make once (CASTLE). Well, once per game anyway.
  • 36D: Hold spellbound (ENTHRALL). Tried entrance first.
  • 37D: Big Apple neighborhood near the Bowery (NOHO). Short for North of Houston (which is pronounced House-ton in case you didn't know).
  • 41D: More likely to explode (ANGRIER). (I apologize that I couldn't find a clip of this song without her yammering away for two minutes before they start the sangin'! Seriously, just skip to the 2:00 mark.):

  • 42D: "Dog the Bounty Hunter" airer (A AND E). You've been working hard and paying attention and you were Not Tricked By This! (were you?)
  • 54D: "In My Bed" R&B group __ Hill (DRU). No idea how I knew this. Only makes me think of Dulé Hill.
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Simian (APISH); 11A: Queasy, perhaps (ILL); 14A: Where the 4077th MASH served (KOREA); 15A: Mammy's boy (ABNER); 16A: Zero (NIL); 19A: Bay Area airport letters (SFO); 20A: Nose-wrinkler in the fridge, say (ODOR); 23A: Shoe part (INSTEP); 31A: Drink that can follow a shot (CHASER); 32A: Oldest of the Fab Four (STARR); 34A: Creative pursuit (ART); 40A: "Born in __": Cheech Marin film (EAST L.A.); 43A: Screenwriter Ephron (NORA); 48A: Mentored ones (PROTÉGÉS); 49A: Words of resignation (NO HOPE); 50A: It may be wireless (ROUTER); 51A: It's written on an env. (ADDR.); 52A: Flow back (EBB); 60A: Causing chills (EERIE); 61A: Item on a cocktail toothpick (OLIVE); 62A: Trough site (STY); 64A: Play in the tub (SLOSH); 1D: "Best in Show" org. (AKC); 2D: Ballot figure (POL); 3D: Fury (IRE); 4D: Aquarium frolicker (SEA OTTER); 5D: More puzzling (HARDER); 7D: Pulitzer winner Burrows (ABE); 8D: Microscopic crime scene clue, briefly (DNA); 10D: Knightly news? (ERRANTRY); 12D: Crane, at times (LIFTER); 13D: Bentsen who said to Quayle, "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" (LLOYD); 18D: Subject (TOPIC); 22D: Fed. research agency (NIH); 23D: Selectric typewriters, e.g. (IBMS); 24D: Scotch order (NEAT); 25D: Epic tale (SAGA); 29D: Pure (CHASTE); 33D: Cashed in (REDEEMED); 38D: Drainpipe section (TRAP); 39D: Not on schedule (LATE); 44D: 1950 classic sci-fi short story book (I ROBOT); 45D: To twice the degree (DOUBLY); 47D: Events with some very short rides (RODEOS); 48D: Publicity (PRESS); 51D: Malty mugfuls (ALES); 55D: Archaeologist's project (DIG); 56D: Carnival resort (RIO); 57D: Some are HD (TVS); 58D: Snicker sound (HEH).


Anonymous said...

i love this site ! and you were really early today, I live to do these puzzles-

John said...

Great writeup PuzzleGirl! Loved the pix of White Castle, we have em all over Louisville.

PARSAN said...

This was a very coherent, fun puzzle! Thank you Todd McClary. PG, absolute a great write-up that was informative and funny too. Knew magus but had never come across MAGE (always nice to learn something new). Earlier this week when we had all those "OOKS", I wrote that I wanted a reference to the Addams Family and here we are today with an "ooky" clue and my favorite, Cousin ITT. Years ago, I made a Halloween coustume of the little guy that two of my chidren wore and won a number of prizes.

Anonymous said...

This puzzle just challenging enough. Loved seeing the picture of White Castle. Worked as a waitress in Atlantic City between semesters one summer and often ate there. Hambergers were 10 cents -- not very good but ONLY 10 CENTS!

Carol said...

Liked this puzzle, especially some of the longer words. And yes, until I read your write-up was still wondering where the channel name AANDE came from - didn't sound familiar at all. OH! A and E! Have mercy, I'm still on my first cup of coffee in my retirement LEISURE. It's still not quite 8:00 in California.

Greene said...

Nice, tight, easy-breezy puzzle. Had kind of an old-timey feel what with ABE Burrows, Li'l ABNER, Bert LAHR, BEATRICE ARTHUR, YENTL, and Nora EPHRON (all of whom are OK by me). Enjoyed this one quite a bit.

SethG said...

Puzzle girl, you stalker! You chill causer!

As soon as I saw the picture of the White Castle I forgot whatever I was gonna say about the puzzle. If you look on the left side of the picture you can see the wall of a yellowish house. Which I know, because that was my house for my first few years in Minneapolis. Now I'm out of situ, a few miles away, in a house that will probably appear in your next write-up.

Enjoy New York, and say hi to my sister when you bump into her on the street or something...

ddbmc said...

Really enjoyed today! Didn't know "mage", put "magi" in first, but just looked it up and it is a "Middle English" word! Quite appropriate for today's theme. Not a big Tolkien fan, but the kids enjoyed him. Errant was "knew" for knightly, too. Wasn't aware of that definition. Loved the videos today, @PG! Oddly, the longer words came easily and the shorter words escaped me until some of the crosses. All in all, I'm getting faster on Fridays! Sat. and Sun. still take time! @Charles Bogle-interesting info on Van Gogh yesterday--one of my fav artists! @PG, good luck at Lollapuzzoola 2! Sounds like CrossCan is the one to beat! Trader Joe's dark chocolate Joe-Joe's are divine and taste better than Oreos-AND equally vowel-laden!

shrub5 said...

Thank you Todd McClary for a clever and challenging puzzle. I didn't see the theme until I was all done. Encountered some trouble coming up with SLOSH and RODEOS (loved the 'short rides' clue for rodeos!!).

I had SEAHORSE for aquarium frolicker before I realized it was SEAOTTER. I had seahorses in mind because I just saw the fascinating exhibit of these little creatures at the Monterey Bay aquarium. Of course they had plenty of frolicking otters there as well.

I wish I could attend the Lollapuzzoola but can't make it this year. To PG, RP and all others that can: hope you have loads of fun!

GLowe said...

So, why not go with MARE/SARA cross instead of MAGE/SAGA? Not being critical, I just really wonder what MAGE adds to the ... solving experience. (Just saying 'solving experience' makes me feel kinda pompous. :-))

Sfingi said...

It would have been easier and more fun for me if I knew anything about the (boring) Lord of the Rings. Except for "My precious."
Also, I put hags instead of 30A mage, and seahorse instead of D4 seaotter.
Seems to me, A & E used to be a bit classier.

Joon said...

whoa, whoa... you guys think MAGE is uncommon? wow. holy crap, the spellchecker doesn't even recognize it! what is going on... what planet is this? MAGE is a perfectly normal word in my world, meaning wizard or spell-caster. am i the only one who's ever played final fantasy?

incidentally, MAGE is not the singular form of MAGI. that would be MAGUS, and yes, that is a rather uncommon noun in the singular, although the magus is a non-awful novel by john fowles.

okay, one more thing, and let me preface this by saying i'm not trying to nitpick, but merely open a discussion: is a wireless router really wireless? the router itself has wires (the power cord and at least one network cable). i think "wireless" is a noun there, as in "a device for routing wireless." what do you all think? i know i've used wireless as a noun plenty of times, and not just to mean "radio" the way it does in british: "damn, the wireless is down again." "can your computer see the wireless? my laptop is blind." etc. i guess it's implicitly "wireless internet connection." or just wifi.


For me this was just a ho-hum puzzle... not what I expected for a Thursday. I think it just lacked the "cutesy clues" factor.

50a "It may be wireless" I filled in AN A BRA right off... so you can tell where my mind was this morning. It sure wasn't on a ROUTER.

Had DUCKY for "Play in the tub" 64a. Sheesh!... go back to bed, John !

ddbmc said...

@John, I'd better go back to bed, too! Kept thinking today was Friday!....@Joon-sorry, not into the Final Fantasy thing, so not familiar with Mage, Magus, etc. Apparently Magus is one of the Magi (as in Gift of the..) Point taken on Wireless router, however it allows other devices to BE wireless, yet it, in and of itself, is connected via wires.

Rex Parker said...

MAGE is familiar to me too, Joon, and I don't even play video games.

I don't know, PG. I kind of like the part where you *don't* drop the "g" and still put an apostrophe on the end. I'm going to start doing' that.

The puzzle? I forgot. Hang on. Oh, right. MIDDLE EARTH. Movies were filmed on S. Island of NZ (near my wife's home town), so thumbs up in my book.


choirwriter said...

@PG - great catch with the Sports Night clip. I miss that show!

Good puzzle today - my only real problem was with ERRANTRY - had no idea about that one. The rest was great - I love a good clear theme that actually helps you solve the puzzle instead of getting in the way of it.

choirwriter said...

@Rex: Now, now -- Didn't you notice how we all politely refrained from pointing out PG's errant dropped G? You just had to give her a dig, huh? LOL

GoG8rs said...

OK, Let's see a show of hands...all those that solved 53A by seeing EARTH in the middle of the theme answers raise your hands high.... Hmmm, that many? Guess it's just the newbie in me but I NEVER saw it even though I had no trouble with this fun puzzle (except for SEAOTTER ...I don't associate otters with aquariums).
Anyway,I am really learning! Thanks

Bohica said...

Either this was an easy late week puzzle or I'm finally catchin' on (must be the former,eh). My only write over was INSTEP, I had INSOLE. Nice write up PG, you're one of the reasons I keep comin' to this blog!

GLowe said...

@Joon you're correct, I think. But the phrase 'wireless router' is common enough to get away with it, like say 'cordless phone'.

PARSAN said...

@ddbmc - Random House Dict. also identifies magus as a sorcerer or magician (anyone else look up stuff in books and Google only as a last resort?). Also "Dark Magus" was a CD by Miles Davis from a live concert at Carnegie Hall, which I attended to my regret. His son used the same name for a poorly written book.

Anonymous said...

@GoG8rs - First had ART but that didn't make sense, so looked again and saw EARTH.

Charles Bogle said...

Thanks @ddbmc...agree also w @parsan, @choirwriter..had trouble w ERRANTRY...a very nice, challenging Thursday puzzle, glad I was able to get through it esp since I'm the last person to know anything about LOTR. I also got into some trouble thinking the Westminster Kennel Club WKC puts on Best in Show; had to make late adjustment for AKC or else I'd have a puzzle finished except for 1A...particularly liked SANITY, PROTEGES, NOHOPE,INSITU, REDEEMED. Very little pop culture and fairly creative fill in my view. Best of luck to our MENTORS in the crossword competition!

jazz said...

Couple of tricky partial words, like A A _ _ _ (AANDE) and _ _ _ T L (YENTL). Weird combos make me think twice before inking it in.

Also, for some reason having ILL and NIL completely adjacent to each other struck me as being rather slick!

mac said...

Fresh, strong puzzle with some great words, my favorite "errantry". As usual when I do the puzzle online I miss some of the clues/answers; don't know why that is.

I'm already in hot, steamy NY, sharpening my pencils for the Lollapuzzoola!

Wayne said...

I really liked this today's puzzle.

Some of my favorite words: "Enthrall" (fraught with awe), "In Situ" (yeah, Latin!), "Errantry", "Slosh" (one of those words that sounds like what it is), "Proteges" (don't see that very often), "Mage", and "Dearths".

Overall, I guess you could say I'm a big fan of the old words we don't hear or see every day.

Sfingi said...

@GoG8rs My hand is up. I seem to be @ where you are, newbie-wise.

Yentl (1982) was a pretty good movie @ a girl who wanted to study Torah. I think Streisand is a better actress/actor than singer. I consider her of the Ethel Merman school of music.
Yentl is based on a Yiddish story by I.B. Singer. He didn't care for Streisand's interpretation, but I never saw Tovah Feldshuh on Broadway. There's a strong suggestion of Lesbian amore.

chefwen said...

Super write-up PG, veery funny!

I also had entrance first and pests. Last week we had a rather large mouse haunt our kitchen, he was very resistent to the poison he kept chomping down. His hidey hole was underneath the built in wok on the cooktop. I was about to fire Paddington the cat but he finally dispached the little sucker after four days of me cleaning up mousey poop. UGH!! I guess raid wouldn't have worked on him either.

Loved the puzzle, the only area I had real difficulties with was the DC UNITED, don't know squat about soccer.

shrub5 said...

@Wayne: Slosh is a good example of onomatopoeia, the naming of something by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it. Examples: hiccup, buzz, hiss, sizzle.
Hmmm, I wonder if that word ever made it into a crossword puzzle - 8 of the 12 letters are vowels.

Anonymous said...

Totally enjoyable Thursday puzzle, and especially nice to see Bea Arthur in 28A, a classic performer in so many ways. I didn't quite get the "at times" part of the clue for 12D. Do cranes lift only "at times"? What else would they do?

SethG said...

Put things down.

mac said...

@ChefWen: built in wok? Now I'm impressed


Joon said...

and sometimes cranes are not in use at all, and they just sit there. anyway, the "at times" qualification in a clue is a dead giveaway that the answer is going to be some crappy -ER word (what rex likes to call an "odd job"). of course, LIFTER is a perfectly good word if clued in regards to bodybuilding. kind of in the same way that WAITER is a fine word for a restaurant server and an ugly word for somebody who's just biding time.

Jeffrey said...

@ddbmc - There will be many solvers faster than me at Lollapuzzoola. Of course, I will surely beat Rex and PuzzleGirl!

If I don't, blame it on the fact that I'm doing double duty, with a surprise game I am running.

Anonymous said...

Mage is not the singular form of 'magi'. 'Magus' is the singular form of magi. The plural of 'mage' is, simply, 'mages'. Because it's an English word not a Latin word.

ddbmc said...

Tks, Anon!