MONDAY, Oct. 19, 2009 — Mark Bickham

THEME: KEY (65D: Computer feature that ends each of the five longest across answers) — theme answers end with ENTER, TAB, ESCAPE, CONTROL, and SHIFT, respectively

First thought: seen it. Multiple times. Let's retire this theme starting ... now. Next thought: it's a very competent Monday puzzle, with cluing that (finally) starts to return to the kind of liveliness that I expect from a major daily crossword puzzle. No reason your puzzle can't be easy (which this was) and still be interesting at the level of both clues and answers. NO MEANS OF ESCAPE is kind of long and unwieldy for a theme answer (prefer tight, clearly self-standing phrases like FIRE ESCAPE or NARROW ESCAPE), but otherwise the theme is nicely executed. UNWOVEN = ??? (27D: Not made of interlaced parts, as fabric) It's the linchpin answer (the Down that holds three different theme answers in place — these theme-spanners tend to go in early in the construction process and are often the place where the constructor is most limited in terms of fill options). It's not a great word, in that I couldn't use it effectively in a sentence, but I've seen worse. I have a puzzle (forthcoming in a book) that used a Much worse linchpin answer. Thankfully, it's by far the worst thing in that grid, and only four letters long. Thus, I hope, forgivable.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: "Keep out" sign ("DO NOT ENTER")
  • 24A: Pay for everyone's dinner (PICK UP THE TAB)
  • 40A: "All exits are blocked" situation (NO MEANS OF ESCAPE) — is "NO MEANS" parallel to "situation" ... feels quite off.
  • 50A: Throng management (CROWD CONTROL)
  • 62A: Four-on-the-floor, e.g. (STICK SHIFT) — I miss mine. I went from STICK SHIFT Pathfinder to automatic Volvo wagon. Next car will most certain be some kind of midlifecrisismobile. Turning 40 in November, so said mobile might be in my near future.

Crosswordese 101: CASCA (52D: One of Caesar's assassins) — was going to go with ODER or SLUE, but they've both been covered. CASCA is a guy I learned about from xwords, which is weird because I teach Dante's "Inferno" every year and at the bottom of hell, being CHOMPed (50D: Bite vigorously) in Satan's mouth, are two of Caesar's assassins, *neither* of them named CASCA (Brutus and Cassius, to be specific). Plutarch claims that CASCA was the first to strike Caesar with a dagger. Way to show initiative! He's a character in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" and has been played on screen by Robert Vaughan and Edmond O'Brien, whom I know best as the undercover agent in "White Heat" (1949) — "I'm on top of the world, ma!"

What else?

  • 1A: "Overhead" engine parts (cams) — know very little about engines but got this instantly.
  • 15A: Between, quaintly ('twixt) — brain wanted only 'TWEEN :(
  • 21A: Coll. major for a future concert artist (mus.) — hate this abbrev. Also hate that "Musical" is in the clues (1D: Musical finale => CODA). Someday I will clue MUS like this: [Omega _____: members of a "Revenge of the Nerds" sorority]
  • 54A: Witchy woman (hag) — first, not all HAGs are witches. Second, not all witches are ugly. Third, this clue is also the title of an Eagles song:

  • 25D: Traveling show worker (carny) — an inherently great word.

See you Friday.


Everything Else — 1A: "Overhead" engine parts (CAMS); 5A: Shoe undersides (SOLES); 10A: __ the lily: ornament to excess (GILD); 14A: Doing the job (ON IT); 15A: Between, quaintly (TWIXT); 16A: There oughta be one, so it's said (A LAW); 17A: "Keep out" sign (DO NOT ENTER); 19A: Turn on a pivot (SLUE); 20A: Jungian feminine principle (ANIMA); 21A: Coll. major for a future concert artist (MUS.); 23A: Anger (IRE); 24A: Pay for everyone's dinner (PICK UP THE TAB); 29A: Lively Irish dance (JIG); 32A: Peter, Paul or Mary (SAINT); 33A: Not shut, in verse (OPE); 34A: German river (ODER); 36A: Like a cold, damp day (RAW); 37A: Type of notebook (SPIRAL); 40A: "All exits are blocked" situation (NO MEANS OF ESCAPE); 43A: Shiny photo (GLOSSY); 44A: Delivery vehicle (VAN); 45A: WWII submachine gun (STEN); 46A: Floral welcome (LEI); 47A: Mexican money (PESOS); 49A: Mag. staffers (EDS.); 50A: Throng management (CROWD CONTROL); 54A: Witchy woman (HAG); 55A: Place for a ring (EAR); 56A: On-the-job reward (BONUS); 60A: Norse war god (ODIN); 62A: Four-on-the-floor, e.g. (STICK SHIFT); 66A: Atomizer output (MIST); 67A: Division of society (CASTE); 68A: Sunscreen ingredient, perhaps (ALOE); 69A: __ helmet: safari wear (PITH); 70A: Ease, as fears (ALLAY); 71A: Home on a limb (NEST); 1D: Musical finale (CODA); 2D: Soon, to a bard (ANON); 3D: Short skirt (MINI); 4D: Defeat decisively (STOMP); 5D: Sault __ Marie (STE.); 6D: Possess (OWN); 7D: On, as a lamp (LIT); 8D: Like churches, vis-à-vis most taxes (EXEMPT); 9D: Rooster's gait (STRUT); 10D: Tank filler (GAS); 11D: Unable to read (ILLITERATE); 12D: First lady before Michelle (LAURA); 13D: Dork (DWEEB); 18D: Mai __: rum drinks (TAIS); 22D: Small stores (SHOPS); 25D: Traveling show worker (CARNY); 26D: Sedona and Sorento (KIAS); 27D: Not made of interlaced parts, as fabric (UNWOVEN); 28D: Expansive stories (EPICS); 29D: Author Erica (JONG); 30D: "American __" (IDOL); 31D: Precious stone expert (GEMOLOGIST); 35D: Stitch over (RESEW); 37D: Man of La Mancha (SEÑOR); 38D: Acted like (APED); 39D: Contact or zoom (LENS); 41D: "All kidding __ ..." (ASIDE); 42D: No-food protest (FAST); 47D: Snazzy entrance (PORTAL); 48D: Bursts into tears (SOBS); 50D: Bite vigorously (CHOMP); 51D: Pie slice edges, geometrically (RADII); 52D: One of Caesar's assassins (CASCA); 53D: Actress Lindsay (LOHAN); 57D: Longest river (NILE); 58D: Roswell sightings, briefly (UFOS); 59D: Printer's "let it stand" (STET); 61D: To the __ degree (NTH); 63D: One of many in the Aegean Sea: Abbr. (ISL.); 64D: Windy City transportation org. (CTA); 65D: Computer feature that ends each of the five longest across answers (KEY).
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


bullmktman said...

No "everything else?"... how lazy

florida grandma said...

Enjoyed the puzzle. A bit more for a Monday than the last several weeks, hooray! I wanted 15A to be 'tween also :( and did not like 27D unwoven at all, but thanks to Rex and his explanation I can deal with it.

Orange said...

@bullmktman: You're kidding, right? Someone spends an hour writing entertaining and edifying content, which you read for free, and that's "lazy"? And every single answer is visible in the grid, so all that you're not getting at the moment that you're accustomed to is a list of the rest of the clues?

Parsan said...

Also got CAMS easily but know nothing about cars. My old suv just died because the "heads" on the engine are shot (whatever that means). I'm told it will cost more to fix than the vehicle is worth.

I guess the Patriots did STOMP the Titans yesterday and in the snow! Too soon, it's only October with leaves still on trees.

House guests of the past 12 days have gone back to Bermuda. We made fax copies of the puzzle from the newspaper every day and each worked alone. It was interesting to see the differences in knowledge due to ages, memories, and interests. A few even contributed to the blog. It is nice to have guests and also good to get back to your own routine when they leave (with which we all agreed). Working the puzzles together was great fun!

Not much to say about the puzzle. Direct clues/easy answers.

Thank you Rex!

HandsomGuy said...

Hey - do you guys have a private detective spying on me? I just got back from the opera, took off my tux jacket, put on my smoking jacket, made myself a nice snack of fresh fruit, stiltson cheese and a few biscuts, poured myself a nice refreshing glass of Tab from my magic bottle of Tab (5oz in my glass, only 3oz missing from the bottle), only to see my photo up on the web.
Why are you guys tailing me?

GLowe said...

PRINTSCREEN, SCROLLLOCK and TILDE never make these themes.

Ports never make it either - probably because UNIVERSALSERIALBUS is too long, and RS232 would be hard to cross.

Lime D. Zeze said...

I kept reading "Throng Management" as "Thong Management" and then chuckling.

chefbea said...

Good Monday puzzle Never heard of Casca. So now I have learned something new

shrub5 said...

Very nice Monday puzzle with a tad more difficulty than has been seen recently. I didn't detect a theme early on so searched for the explaining clue (65D). Then figured out the computer key theme.

More keys:

Irrevocable commitment.....POINT OF NO RETURN

and a related short fill:

Supermodel Carol.....ALT

I forgot SLUE from Crosswordese 101 until I came here, d'oh. Liked STOMP and CHOMP together, STE and SAINT not so much.

Sfingi said...

After I solved the 4 theme items, I finally figured out - last words have something in common - keys. THEN I saw last clue 65D KEY. I'm making some progress with themes.

Had clown at first for 25D CARNY, which was better.

Love the movie bits from White Heat. Those COs (correctional officers, aka turnkeys) had a lot of self-control.

@Glowe - Oh, I see. You're a nerd.

@Bullmarketman - Oh, I see. You missed Monday's video of Louis CK, Learn to Appreciate Technology, SUBtitled, "You're not ENtitled."

split infinitive said...

@Rex P. You have "outdid" yourself here on the blogging. Cool, calm, smart, precise, and uproariously funny. You're teetering close to the deliciousness of your "leprous cake" episode, posted elsewhere. I'm quite sure that "unwoven" is a word I've never spoken, and probably won't, so it fell to the crosses to polish off that section.

This is a new LAT constructor, I'm thinking? Welcome.

Orange, thank you for the comment on "laziness." Skeezy jeezy, but we read here, daily, for FREE some of the keenest minds in puzzletown, people who get up, unwashed and unloved {kidding} to decipher and parse the LAT norristonian grid for us, and someone c.o.m.p.l.a.i.n.s. that there is any sloth involved? That's untoward, cheeky, and just plain wrong.

The rest of us count on this 'place' to help us become better solvers and unlock secrets of parsing good, bad and indifferent clues. Along the way, we get bonus images, vids, and links. What's not to like? split & company

GLowe said...

@SF - you be insulting real nerds by calling me that. Used to be a techie, tho, and nobody know MSDOS 6.0 and earlier better than me, but (for e.g.) I couln't tell you what the purpose of JAVA is to save my life.

Also agree about the other thing - when the bloggers post images and links and stuff - that's gotta take some time, and it invites off-beats like HANSOM to throw in. That's the value-add - who gives a rats about the 'other stuff', I thought it was there for keyword hits?

Sfingi said...

@Glowe - Nerdism is cool. I can't figure out the purpose of Twitter. As for my specialties, how about MOBOL (Mohawk Data Science's COBOL), MACRO-9 on the PDP-9, FORTRAN-4 for tool control applications - should I continue? I even have dumps in my attic from the '70s, along with lists of the patents of mysteriously disappeared George Cogar. Good thing I changed careers after UNIVAC, GE, and the rest left Upstate NY.

Charles Bogle said...

@RexParker--one of my favorite write-ups in my five months of trials and errors...a fave movie link, "White Heat," great Eagles "Witchy Woman," and CASCA--not right off knowing made me feel ILLITERATE--as Crosswordese 101.

This puzzle definitely struck me as meatier than usual esp for Monday...very little tired fill--other Shakespeare LAURA doesn't come quickly to mind either...Liked also: STOMP, SLUE, PITH, ANIMA, GEMOLOGIST...

all that more than made up for queasy claustrophobic feeling-esp for a Monday-from theme

bluebell said...

Try as I will I cannot remember Casca, whom I got only from crosses. He must not have had a memorable line said at him (Et tu, Brutus?). Have to admit that I admired "not made of interlaced parts." If I had assigned a freshman English theme topic "describe a process" I'd never have gotten anything that creative.

Rex Parker said...

While the LAT puzzle, of late, has made me want to abandon this blog, the comments section, of late, has endeared me to it. Thanks everyone — esp. HandsomGuy, who is my new role model, in every way. That man can drink a Tab like nobody's business.


Rex Parker said...

Oh, and as for there being no "Everything Else" today — blame Angela. That bitch is lazy. Come on, PG. Time to make the donuts!

[I get hollered at by angry pitchfork-wielders at my other blog if god forbid I forget to change the "Syndicated Puzzle" link by 9am — all kinds of "I hate it when..." and "It's inconvenient for me..."-type messages — surprisingly few gentle reminders.]

Rex Parker said...

Endeared me to it? It to me? Whatever. You guys get it! [makes V-shaped hand gesture pointing at own eyes and then your eyes indicating we see eye to eye ... takes another sip of mid-afternoon whiskey].

HandsomeGuy said...

@Rex - You liked that, even though I changed my tux jacket for a smoking jacket, I didn't loosen my bow tie? That would have been just too gauche!

Just figured that your effort to find such a deliciously absurd Tab reference needed highlighting.

Rex Parker said...

Went looking for pink can. Found ... HandsomGuy (like you better w/o the "e" in your name, for some reason — your so handsom(e), you hardly need the "e").

Joon said...

did i ever tell you guys about the time i sat around for like, at least five minutes, and rex didn't refill my coffee? i had a few choice words for his manager, let me tell you. harumph.

Matt said...

I read the blog every day and just wanted to say to Rex that you do a great job here (and also on your NYT site).

Today was lively for a Monday. I especially liked ILLITERATE, which somehow seems appropriate for a crossword puzzle.

"Witchy Woman", as Seinfeld fans remember, was Elaine's suggestion for a song that she and her boyfriend could share upon learning that the boyfriend loved "Desperado".

Jeff Chen said...

Rex, looking forward to seeing your upcoming published puzzles! Can you give us a hint of when we'll be able to pick them up?
Especially curious to see the four word *blargity* linchpin answer now.

Orange said...

Barkeep! Where the hell is the Tom Collins I ordered?

GLowe said...

@SF - there was a PDP NINE?!

We had a PDP 11-44 or something in tech school, and everyone was "Oh, look - VAX make furnaces too, only they're too noisy and too hot for my house. Gonna stick with the Lennox CREO/DIESEL 'sootmaster' for now".

Also liked the UNIVAC name. I can just hear the boardroom meetings back in the 80's -"OK, what chucklenuts put the term 'VAC' in our brand? Who are competing against - Electro-lux? What's our PC strategy gonna be - HOMEVAC for the family, and SHOPVAC for small business? Maybe the mainframe will be CENTRALVAC."

Parsan said...

@Orange--Forget the club soda and all that sweet stuff that can give you a migraine (now we know). I'll buy a scotch-on-the-rocks!

chefbea said...

@parsan I'll take one as well.. with a splash of water

JIMMIE said...


Did the Pats STOMP the Titans, or did the Titans, like Penelope's tapestry at night, become UNWOVEN?

Rex Parker said...

O dear god, I wrote "your" for "you're" (in my last comment) Why aren't you all yelling condescendingly at me??!

GLowe said...

Cuz their not hear anymore, prolly.

CrazyCat said...

Very fun blog today! Even though YOUR all gone by now. Thanks Rex for a another great write up. You know I actually thought the LAT was a tad more challenging than the NYT today which RP
rated medium. Uh oh maybe I am getting better at these puzzles, well at least on Mondays. I did find the NYT theme to be more entertaining,however. @Parsan and Chefbea - Yessss scotch with a splash and a twist of lemon on the rocks. Great for a cold evening. Too bad there aren't very many of those here in LA. On the other hand if I had houseguests for 12 days I'd have one regardless, maybe even two.

Sfingi said...

@Glowe - Yes the PDP-9 existed in 3 places. At "temporary" building 247, Griffiss Air Force Base, Rome, NY; in Cambodia in some roving truck; and in the minds of those that believed in it. We wrote programs on cards - one card per line - put them through the gigantic GE635-645 at night; when it finally worked, we translated (by hand) to Macro-9 on the PDP-9 - which looked like a little white kitchen. It was booted with paper tapes and had Dec Tapes a spinnin.
The application was cartograpy, and there was a CalComp attached.
Most programmers were Air Force guys. No one had a degree in computers 'cuz there was no such thing. I don't think it's top secret anymore, but if they send me to Guantanamo Cuba, I might get better coverage than even Medicare. I can't believe I'm remembering this.

Nice to hear the contraction(?) "prolly" again.

Where's my drink? Did some "bullodeen" (Italian dialect for clean-freak) take it before I finished?

ddbmc said...

The blog was WYP funny today! Please don't sit near me! Either your in or your out....

Hiccup. I'll take a Cosmo,since we're all imbibing, hold everything but the vodka! @Rex, thanks for the meansofescape!

@Hansom, you look divine in your tux! Now, light my cigarette, big boy!

@bullmktman, head back to Pamplona. Don't forget to tie your laces!

Bohica said...

If you remember nothing else in life commit this little ditty to your gray matter:

"Whiskey on beer, nothing to fear, beer on whiskey, mighty risky".

Learned that the hard way whilst in the Navy.

Joon said...

rex, i thought you wrote your instead of you're on purpose, because you were admiring handsom's lack of an E. i guess it doesn't explain the lack of an apostrophe.

bunny said...

Hey, HandsomGuy - what are you reading? Must be..uh... interesting with that big smile on your face.

HandsomGuy said...

Ok, since we're all being frisky here, some pertinent facts:
a) Theres no "I'm too hansom to spell" going on here, I'm a mimbo and can't spell for crap,
2) I'm probably gay,
iii) I'm clearly a recovering alcoholic,
e) Nothing says you're not going to going to get lucky tonight quite like chowing down on a hunk of Stiltson cheese at 11pm.
Thanks for all the kind words otherwise,

Parsan said...

Didn't Dorothy Parker say "Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker"? Here's hoping no one has a hangover in the morning!


Rex Parker is keeping my interest in continuing to do the LAT puzzles (even Mon.-Wed.), just because of his terrific blog writeups. Rex, you are indeed sewing a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Keep up the great work... and who cares about the "Everything Else!"

Parsan said...

@JIMMIE--At 59-0 the Titans became UNWOVEN, could not get their fires LIT, were out of GAS, while the KEY to the game was the FAST Patriot offense that left those southern boys NO MEANS OF ESCAPE until the final whistle, although the JIG was up at half time when the score was 45-0, and there was probably no need for CROWD CONTROL because most fans had probably gone home. (help, help, somebody stop me). The truth is, New Endland is my least favorite team in the NFL.

Parsan said...

@JOHNSNEVERHOME--As my Mother used to say when I came in late, "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN???" When you did not grace us with your interesting comments all last week I was beginning to worry about you. So glad your (see Rex above) back!!


Thanks for your WB.
Been in Door County Wisconsin.
One week photography workshop at the legendary folk school founded by Jens Jensen... THE CLEARING.
No television, no telephones, no football games, no Internet, no newspapers, AND NO MIGRANES!
I think the name of the school should be: THE CLEARING OF THE MIND.
Fall color, cliffside sunsets, gourmet food, and wonderful fellowship is the recipe for rejuvenation.
Highly recommended, even for us crossword addicts!

GLowe said...

I hear your little code: @ griffiss (groom lake) AFB, Building (area) 247 (51).

There's no PDP 9, alien-boy, any more than there's an Andy 'Griffiss'.

You an Hansom getcher story straight, or go invade another galaxy.

CrazyCat said...

@JNH - Welcome back. We missed you.

todd said...

@Rex 3:08 - maybe because we're not you? Do you have a hangover today?

ddbmc said...

@Handsomeguy, we appreciated your "run at the Tab Man" picture. I think @RP appreciated the creative writing aspect of it, spelling aside. As for being gay,"Not that there's anything wrong with it!"

Joon said...

"Reflections on Ice-Breaking"

Is dandy
But liquor
Is quicker

-- Ogden Nash
(not dorothy parker)

Parsan said...

@Joon--thanks! That is why I asked with a question mark. I had been out to dinner to celebrate a birthday of a friend with lots of champagne and was too tired (I won't say woozy) to look it up. They both were wonderful wits, sophisticated, caustic, funny and literate. A style of humor rarely heard or seen today. It sounded like her and actually is attributed to her sometimes, mistakenly. Loved the Alqonquin gang--and have often stayed there.


@Joon & Parsan
I'm glad you corrected that wacky poem... I'm a huge Ogden Nash fan.

Now if you remember PDP-8 and PDP-11, then you are ancient (like me).
BTW, back in 1976 I was awarded the first U.S. patent on software and we were using a PDP-11. I also programmed an IBM 650 in machine language... does anyone remember coding in hexadecimal? We've had in the past, crossword clues where we had to do long division in Roman numerals. Now I'm waiting for a constructor to do a clue using binary or hexadecimal math... real computer geek fun!
Never could understand the relationship between "geeks" and computers. A geek is a carny sideshow freak who bites the heads off of chickens... yech!!!!

Anonymous said...

what the heck is a vañ?