WEDNESDAY, September 16, 2009—Michael Blake

THEME: "Pooped"—Four idiomatic phrases and a word that all mean "really exhausted"

The "five things that mean the same thing" theme can play out as uninspired, but I like the idiomatic zing of 80% of this theme. They added a little spice to a puzzle that otherwise felt like a quick Monday crossword. Except, of course, for all the stacked seven-letter answers in the corners. Those dress up a crossword.

Tuesday's puzzle felt rather Wednesdayish while today's is on the Monday/easy side. I can't remember Monday's puzzle too clearly, but I'm gonna go out on a ledge and say it was a hair Tuesdayish, just to fill in all the slots this week.

Theme answers: all clued with Really exhausted
  • 20A: ON ONE'S LAST LEGS. Hey, SethG, that ONE'S for you.
  • 47A. TUCKERED OUT. I like to precede that with "plumb."
  • 56A. WORN TO A FRAZZLE. I don't say that one at all. "I'm frazzled," sure. Friend of mine recently wrote on Facebook that she'd "edited her brains to a nub." I like the "Worn to a nub" image.

Crosswordese 101: Can this be true? Have we really not talked about EKE here? EEK! (36D: Response to a mouse.) EKE is clued as 29D: ___ out: barely maintain. You know anyone who doesn't do crosswords who talks about "eking out a living"? The EKE clues often go with the "verb (out)" format, with such verbs as squeeze, scratch, scrape, or stretch (out). There's also barely make, with "out" and the ever-popular fill-in-the-blank approach, ___ out a living.

Centuries ago, eke also meant "addition," and people misinterpreted "an eke-name" as "a neke name," and this is the derivation of the word nickname. True etymology story!

What else?
  • BULWARK! That's a cool word. It means 41D: Defensive wall.
  • 8D: Singing Bing (CROSBY). I'll bet at least 10% of the commenters filled this in and then thought, "Maybe we'll get a video of Der Bingle on the blog tomorrow." Here he is with David Bowie. Some stores have Christmas stuff out already, don't they? It's not too soon for "Drummer Boy"?

  • 31D: Camp for presidents (DAVID). A friend of mine is friends with the Clintons and has a photo of himself hanging out at Camp David. He says he has no idea where, exactly, Camp David is. He was driven there by Secret Service types. Aw, I wanna go!
  • 34A: Creole vegetable (OKRA). I think the bookend vowels are inordinately attractive to constructors because OKRA gets way more play in the puzzle than it does in the average non-Louisiana, non–soul food kitchens of America. I haven't seen it in Indian food, but they sell a lot of OKRA in the Indian groceries on Chicago's Devon Avenue. You know what I prefer? When I was at Carleton College, some students founded an improv troupe called Cujokra.
  • 45D: Shrunken Asian lake (ARAL SEA). Look! The crosswordese ARAL gets promoted to fancy seven-letter fill.
P.S. Rex here — to get a free puzzle that I co-wrote as a birthday present for a friend of mine, please go here and scroll down to the bottom of the entry (to print directly from the computer), or here to download the AcrossLite version. Thanks, RP.

Everything Else — 1A: Colored part of the eye (IRIS); 5A: Phonograph records (DISCS); 10A: Become overly dry, as lips (CHAP); 14A: John Wesley's relig. (METH.); 15A: Love to pieces (ADORE); 16A: Country byway (LANE); 17A: Arizona city (MESA); 18A: Fenway Park team, briefly (BOSOX); 19A: Condo or apartment, e.g. (UNIT); 20A23A: "Nevermore" bird of poetry (RAVEN); 24A: Honey maker (BEE); 25A: "... and so on": Abbr. (ETC.); 27A: 11-point blackjack card, at times (ACE); 33A: Copier paper size: Abbr. (LTR.); 35A: Mil. school at Annapolis (USNA); 40A: Bassoon cousin (OBOE); 43A: Big-screen movie format (IMAX); 44A: Observed (SAW); 51A: Mentalist Geller (URI); 52A: Sandwich initials (BLT); 53A: Cereal grain (OAT); 54A: Concrete-reinforcing rod (REBAR); 61A: Ali who stole from thieves (BABA); 62A: Broom rider of the comics (HILDA); 63A: With 66-Across, roadside stop (REST); 64A: Finds in mines (ORES); 65A: King of rock 'n' roll (ELVIS); 66A: See 63-Across (AREA); 67A: Sitcom radio station (WKRP); 68A: Gunslinger's "Hands up!" ("REACH!"); 69A: Afternoon TV fare (SOAP); 1D: Unethical (IMMORAL); 2D: Bring to life again, as a Civil War battle (REENACT); 3D: Romance-ending words (IT'S OVER); 4D: 1953 Alan Ladd Western (SHANE); 5D: Pats gently (DABS); 6D: Object of worship (IDOL); 7D: Sammy in the 600 Home Run Club (SOSA); 9D: Moderate-sized chamber group (SEXTET); 10D: Board game with suspects (CLUE); 11D: Closet assortment (HANGERS); 12D: Jennifer of "Friends" (ANISTON); 13D: House cat, e.g. (PET); 21D: Bankrupt energy company (ENRON); 22D: July-August sign (LEO); 26D: Tax-season advisor, briefly (CPA); 30D: Flight board datum: Abbr. (ARR.); 32D: Faulty firecracker (DUD); 37D: Latin 101 verb (AMO); 38D: Sigma follower (TAU); 39D: Additional (EXTRA); 40D: Horse player's hangout, for short (OTB); 42D: Halloween month (OCTOBER); 44D: Really cold, temperaturewise (SUBZERO); 46D: Furtive listening device (WIRETAP); 48D: Extensive period (EON); 49D: Preferably (RATHER); 50D: Star, in France (ÉTOILE); 55D: Poet Pound and others (EZRAS); 57D: Hoarse sound (RASP); 58D: Edison's middle name (ALVA); 59D: Banking regulatory agcy. (FDIC); 60D: Diaper problem (RASH); 61D: Gift decoration (BOW).


PARSAN said...

So glad to be back on my computer, which was repaired last night, after a virus knocked me off for three days. Felt like a big eater on a long fast. Had I opened any of the 50 e-mails, I could have won 2 BMWs, the Irish Sweepstakes, a Swiss prize, Microsoft award, and "a Meteteranian seaside excape". Ajit Pahhl wrote "you luckee, won lottery" and Abdul Sahid asked "Please can I trust you?" YOU THINK! Nice job Orange on the commentary! WORN TO A FRAZZLE was a common complaint when I was growing up as was (all) TUCKERED OUT. A nice puzzle but I wish the clues were more challenging.

Sfingi said...

@Parsan - funny! Of course, not so for the victim. I once had a virus from Denmark - in Danish.

34A - OKRA - The only food I refused to eat where the cat wouldn't help me out. It's slimy. I sat in front of it 'til 10PM and went to bed hungry.

Only mistake I made was misreading 46 as 48 and writing "tap" at 46 down. Corrected next time around.

toothdoc said...

First sub-5 Wednesday but I agree it was of Monday difficulty. Still at least a enjoyable puzzle. Left-coast victory in the puzzle war today.

jazz said...

This one was strange...

I really liked REST + AREA, seeing Sammy SOSA again (!), don't see BULWARK very often, nor consecutive Zs in FRAZZLE...good work, Mr. Blake!

OTOH, there were an awful lot of acronyms and abbreviations (WKRP, BLT, USNA, OTB, CPA, LTR,ARR, METH), which somehow aren't as satisfying as whole words or two-word fills.

But then there are a bunch of 7-letter fills, which I'm sure take some work by the UberPuzzler.

After the Mon, Tue and Wed puzzles ("coasters") I'm thinking that Thursday might be a buster!

Cute touch to have Eve Plumb next to tuckered out...it took me a minute to figure that link out.

shrub5 said...

@Orange: It's funny you named the puzzle "Pooped." I was looking for that word all the way through! My grandma used "plumb" too, but her phrase was "I'm plumb wore out."

A speedy solve on this one today -- liked all the theme answers. I was glad to see the reference to Broom Hilda, a favorite comic strip. I'll always remember the strip that had Broom Hilda shopping for underwear. The clerk suggests a set of undies, each labeled with a day of the week. Hilda asks if they've got a set with months of the year.

GLowe said...

BEQ had a similar theme recently.

Jeffrey said...

Too tired to comment.

*David* said...

I did not see this clue "Halloween month" or this one "Jennifer of Friends" or this one "King of rock n' roll"...

For 14A I was hoping as an ode to the 909, Crystal ____

Rex Parker said...

2:43. Must be a Wednesday record for me (though "Wednesday" isn't as meaningful a concept in the LAT these days).

Eerie that this puzzle shares a couple of answers with the Birthday Puzzle I released today at my and Amy's sites. (I'm adding a link to that puzzle now). Grid placement of said answers is even similar...


SethG said...

3-2-1 ZERO! SUB-ZERO plays ultimate frisBEE.

The entire first page of google results for ON ONE'S LAST LEGS consists of dictionaries and this blog. One RATHER expected a WKRP clip.

Last time one ate Indian, one ordered the OKRA.

Bohica said...

At less than 6:00 a little light for mid-week. But enjoyable none the less. Agree with@Jazz, too many acronyms and abbreviations.

Tuttle said...

What's odd about "nickname" is that most words that changed like that from Middle English to Modern English worked the other way; ie, they dropped the N instead of adding it. "an apron" from "a napron" for example.

Orange said...

@Tuttle: Yes, and "an orange" relates to Spanish naranja. And did you know that it used to be pease, and the singular pea was a faulty back-formation?

@SethG, one appreciate's one's remarks and one is amused by one.

@Rex: Yeah, you can't be surprised to have Monday or Tuesday puzzles straight through Wednesday or even Thursday here, and some Saturdays are only Wednesday-hard.

@shrub5: You know, I was going to use "plumb wore out."

@jazz, thanks for understanding the photo! Rex often mystifies people who miss his more abstruse connections between text and photo.

chefbea said...

Was just at the farmer's market. Almost bought okra!!
It really looked good - it's not slimy til you cook it - but I opted for the red tubers.

The puzzle was fun and easy and I too love Eve Plumb

gjelizabeth said...

I'm out of town doing my weekly help-with-the-baby stint with my sweet granddaughter, who cried all night, so my daughter and son-in-law are staggering around bleary-eyed. I got wan smiles when I announced today's puzzle theme.
I thought ENERVATED, while actually meaning "tired out", was out of step with the other answers. The others all felt like the result of hard work or lack of sleep, nice proletarian phrases. ENERVATED is a big step-up in social class, being experienced from boredom or too much sun on the Riviera.

mac said...

My fastest Wednesday ever, probably. Favorite word: bulwark.
"Worn to a frazzle" is new to me, I've just heard "frazzled". I like the "plumb worn out"!

@SethG: the Indians are the best at cooking okra. No slime.

Charles Bogle said...

had some concerns/experiences similar to jazz...liked the theme...liked: BULWARK, SUBZERO, IMMORAL. Main criticism: too much tired old fill for a Wed esp. eg EKE, ARAL, OTB. DABS...what's w SOSA and these editors..the new stand-in for Pete Rose?

Bohica said...

@Rex: Just did your birthday puzzle, was your friends last name Ford by any chance?

Liked the clues/answers for Safety dance site? ENDZONE; Ford explorer? HANSOLO and Period requiring asterisks? STEROIDERA.

Clever indeed.

Anonymous said...

@Bohica - Some haven't done the puzzle yet, so please don't provide the answers here.

shrub5 said...

@rex: Thoroughly enjoyed the birthday puzzle. After many days of relatively easy puzzles, this one was a treat. There's a lot I want to say but I don't want to be a spoiler. Suffice it to say: I had some difficulty in the NE and had to google 9A and 9D to finish. There were MANY great clues and answers that brought smiles, chuckles and ahas. Loved 1D, 64A with 25D, 48D and several others. This post is weird, I know, but I didn't know where else to go!